Okaay.... This is the first fic I've ever published...And honestly, I don't really know where I'm headed with it, exactly, but Its Yaoi Yaoi Yaoi all the way, hence the rating (guess what's eventually gunna happen, yeah?) I think its a little ciche'd but...shruggs I wanted to write it, and I'm sorry if it sucks, but... Shruggs If someone decides its okay, lemmie know and I'll keep workin on it :)

Cloud winced. He was used to nasty shocks, but this one was more of a heart stopper than he'd ever expected to have to deal with ever again. The fact of the matter was that the only thing that he thought could ever stop his heart again was dead. And dead by his hands. He'd mourned the death of Sephiroth every day for six years, and every day for six years, a little more of him died away to follow his fallen idol into the netherworld. Cloud had become a recluse, hated being around anyone, being warm or comfortable. He no longer knew pleasant company or love or happiness. All those things had died inside of him, and he'd therefore given them up for dead, again, along with Sephiroth. It was for this reason and many more, perhaps, that he was incredibly surprised that he was ushered aside by a stranger on one of his frequent visits to the nearest bar –Cloud could drink all he wanted, but he rarely ever felt the buzz of the intoxicating drinks. Between the Jenova cells and the Mako inside of him, he was essentially not allowed to have fun, to forget. He didn't mind. He was punishing himself anyway. If he hadn't been so weak…that's what he kept telling himself. If he had been stronger like he should have been, then none of those horrible things would have ever happened…

Needless to say, this is exactly what he was mulling through his head again for the ten billionth' time that evening, when he was startled by a rather cold and uncomfortable feeling hand on his shoulder, making him spin around in his seat defensively, ready to rip the offender in two, but he paused as he turned and the person, hidden entirely in a black hood and robes, stepped back carefully, and gave a silent, but respectful half-bow.

"You are Cloud Strife, are you not?" The stranger asked in a cool, almost dark voice. Cloud narrowed his eyes, suspicious.

"Who are you?" He asked voice dark. The man with the hidden face bowed again, and continued on in his strange tones.

"I am but a messenger. He is back. He will walk again upon this earth…" Cloud narrowed his eyes even more, so much so that the brilliant blue mako glow pouring from them dimmed considerably.

"Who?" He asked coldly. He wasn't a conversationalist anymore, and he just wanted this, most likely drunk, fuck to go away. The stranger in question offered another riddlesome answer.

"The idol of your dreams of course… Here." He hands a small folded piece of paper to Cloud, who when upon doesn't move to take it, simply places it on the table beside his drink instead. Cloud glances down at the dirty chunk of yellowed paper for a moment before looking back up at the other man, trying hard inside to figure him out. "Go and see. You have the chance you've been wishing for all your life…" Cloud's stomach quietly did a double-back-flip and then promptly turned to ice as it tied itself into millions of knots. He remained silent, and after a moment of profound silence the hooded man slowly turned and drifted away into the shadows of the bar again, lost in the growing crowd. Noticing just how busy the usually quiet place was getting, Cloud quickly got up, paid extra, and left as fast as possible, retreating out into the cool night air of Niblehem.

He looked around, turning his eyes up to the dark mountains, and where he knew the mako-reactor still stood, even though he couldn't see it. It was no longer functional, but he still loathed it, for oh so many reasons. He glanced down at his hand. It had managed to offend him by grabbing the folded piece of paper and taking it with him without him noticing immediately. He growled, feeling darker than ever, but slowly crept back towards the SinRa Mansion where he now lived. Once inside and secluded from the world, Cloud went and locked himself in his own room, turned on the lights, and finally opened the folded note.


That was it, all it said. Cloud's heart started to race even as his stomach froze again. 'Sephiroth…?' Was he back? Cloud didn't dare hope, or dread, but he suddenly knew, that, prank or trap or truth, he had to get to the crater, and NOW.

Five minutes later he had his few belongings packed in a single backpack, and was racing outside to the stables where a lone gold chocobo stood, seemingly ready and waiting for him. It cooed quietly in greeting and took off without a second question as Cloud mounted it and drove it off North.

He'd nearly driven that poor chocobo into the ground by the time he reached the Crater a week and a half later. He left it to go off to warmer grounds on its own, confident that he'd find it again later, and that it would also be fine on its own. He hiked up to the crest of the crater alone, and then, not seeing anything of interest at the rim, climbed down into it. At the very bottom, there was a fresh flow of Mako bubbling clean out of the planet, sitting in a strange multi-faceted mirrored pool without a bottom. Cloud could see it from very high up, but it wasn't until he was practically standing in it that he saw the figure half-submerged in the glowing green not far from where he'd climbed down. His heart stopped. Broad, bare shoulders and long platinum hair were barely out of the pool, the body itself sprawled face down on the ground, limp and looking lifeless. Cloud had no doubt in his mind whom he saw, but how, he had no idea. Without even thinking he rushed to the still form, and heaved him all the way out of he mako before even daring to turn him over, afraid the man to be dead.

"Hello…???" He asked tentatively as he finally rolled Sephiroth's still form over onto his back. Cloud's throat had closed and he had a hard time getting the simple word out of his mouth. There was along stretch of silence in response. His heart sunk. No…I can't have come all this way just to find you dead again… He raised a shaking hand to Sephiroth's throat to check for a pulse… and leapt back as the other man groaned, low and deep, before coughing and raising his own shaking hand to his eyes. He coughed again, some of that green fluid spilling out over his lips. It was a horrible, sickly cough that shook Cloud to the bone. After a moment of terrifying uncertainty he was there, supporting the other man as he sat up, talking nonsense just to be heard. He didn't know if Sephiroth would remember him, or if he even remembered anything at all, but best to be careful either way. After several more shuddering coughs, Sephiroth took one deep breath and managed to croak out a single question:

"Where am I?" Cloud decided to go slowly.

"You came out of the Mako. Do you remember what happened?" He swallowed hard, waiting in dread. What if he was still controlled by Jenova? At the moment, he was sick, and sick he would be for a very long time, and being so, Cloud couldn't judge by the clarity or lack thereof in his eyes. He looked anyway, and almost got caught in the presently hazy aqua depths. Sephiroth blinked, and then frowned, thinking. Abruptly a considerable amount of the haze in his eyes cleared as they darted back up to Clouds. Cloud took a good step back, startled.

"You killed me." Sephiroth said. Yes, Cloud had his answer; Sephiroth Remembered.

"I had to…" Cloud said softly. Sephiroth shook his head, damp hair splaying across his chest and shoulders with the motion.

"Yes…to kill Jenova… it's gone now." He added looking back up. "So why are you here? It seems as if you're helping me." Cloud swallowed hard.

"Yes. That's why I'm here." He replied his voice shaking. Sephiroth opened his mouth to answer, but broke into another fit of coughing before he could speak, collapsing against Cloud as his strength drained away. Cloud caught him with a startled cry. Thinking quick, he pulled out his one blanket and wrapped the other man in it before working hard to haul him up out of the crater and all the way back to Icicle. He checked them both into a hotel room in the remote town, and paid extra to not be noticed or bothered…

Sephiroth stayed unconscious for three full days before waking again. Cloud was there, waiting, anticipating, yet still startled to look up and suddenly find those vibrant green eyes watching him curiously. The mako poisoning was wearing off quickly, but it was clear that Sephiroth was still in pain, and that it would still be a few days before he would be fit to travel. Why Cloud was considering further traveling, he didn't understand, but that was his impulse, and it was therefore mulled over in his mind whether or not he wanted it to. Sephiroth's heavy, pain-weighted breathing brought Cloud back to this strange new reality. Sephiroth was frowning, and looking around the small room critically. Cloud decided to answer his unspoken question before the other wasted precious energy asking.

"We're in Icicle Inn." Sephiroth nodded weakly.

"…Makes sense." He frowned again, his voice having cracked badly. Cloud could see his adams-apple bob as the man silently worked his throat, tying to regain control of his voice. He was still waiting for the total shock of the whole situation to sink in, and was presently in a strange emotional limbo where despite the suppressed elation living deep inside of him, he didn't actually feel very much of anything. It was an awkward sensation that was bothering him.

"How long have I been asleep?" Sephiroth's voice, much stronger and clearer this time, startled Cloud enough to make him jump.

"Huh? Oh, about three days." He could feel the slight stammer in his voice, and knew that it had not gone unnoticed. He grimaced to himself. Stay cool, Cloud…. He thought.

"And you haven't killed me?" Cloud jumped again. He turned surprised eyes on the face watching him curiously from the bed.

"I never wanted to kill you in the first place…" He said softly, throat closing with the memory. Sephiroth raised an eyebrow at him quizzically.

"Is that so..?" He said voice neutral and cool still. Cloud swallowed, hard. God, he's sick; bedridden and likely in agony and you'd never know by the way he acts… It was a subconscious thought. The rest of him was frantically searching through all his databases to try and find a way to avoid the question, and the inevitable answer that he was NOT prepared to give yet. He'd never even said the words out loud, barely thought them, dreading the deep seeded agony behind them. And he never wanted to say something so cliché to someone so… perfect. He took a deep breath, steeling himself, and had opened his mouth, hoping to Holy that whatever came out wouldn't totally ruin him. He didn't have to answer, though. A great wave of pain chose that moment to wash over Sephiroth, causing the warrior to suck in his breath sharply, visibly wincing despite his icy mask, and to cringe in on himself a little. It was such a painful image for Cloud that he almost vomited. After a moment's indecision, he rushed to the other mans' side, desperate to supply any sort of help at all. Sephiroth had curled up on himself some, eyes clamped shut, and he was trembling all over. Cloud reached out an uncertain hand, only to have it hover in midair just above Sephiroth's arm, freezing up. He let out a yelp of surprise when that arm flew up, the attached hand grabbing his firmly, and not letting go. Cloud's eyes locked in a terrifying moment where time stopped, the warmth of Sephiroth's skin heating his own, on that huge hand engulfing his own. Slowly, he brought his eyes up the arm and shoulder to meet Sephiroth's eyes. They were glazed with pain and begging silently. He was still coughing, silently, his body shaking in broken tremors, fighting. It was only then that Cloud realized just how hot Sephiroth's skin was, that it wasn't just the heat of the touch that had caused his own skin to burn. He stifled a gasp and without a second thought to it, brought his free hand up to Sephiroth's forehead, checking his temperature there too. Time stood still for a moment for Cloud as he brushed a lock of silken hair from the other's face, quicksilver softer than the finest silk. Time moved again at the heart-shuddering shock of the burning inferno of a fever Sephiroth had.

"Sweet Planet…" Cloud turned and pulling out of Sephiroth's now loosened grip, ran out of the room, returning only a short while later with medicine and a bowl of cold water. His face was drawn with concern that Sephiroth did not miss, even when he could barely see straight. He was incredibly puzzled over how Cloud was treating him – so careful and almost kind, and so bloody concerned. It was not the way one expected to be treated by a once mortal enemy, even if that were only circumstantial. Cloud came to him with a damp cloth and a syringe. He carefully pulled Sephiroth's bangs back to place the rag –the gesture far more gentle and considerate than Sephiroth could ever remember experiencing- but he took one look at Sephiroth, glanced down at the syringe and simply handed it to him instead.

"I know how you must feel about this type of thing…" He said softly. Surprised, Sephiroth responded rather numbly, taking and indeed administering the shot to himself, all the while watching Cloud who was now pointedly looking away, with mixed feelings of awe. Cloud jumped when he realized how closely he was being watched.

"What?" He said, almost defensively. Sephiroth watched the lump he swallowed in his throat.

"I don't understand you…" Sephiroth began softly, still feeling far from well, though he could feel the worst of the pain fading already. "Why would you… why would anyone…?" Sephiroth trailed off, surprised with himself. He wasn't one to just talk, let alone share feelings, especially with what seemed like complete strangers. Yes, he knew who Cloud was, remembered toying with the young man's mind, remembered the final blow… but he remembered nothing that would cue him off to why Cloud was being so… good to him. He was certain he didn't' deserve any of it. He looked back up; just to see what kind of reaction he'd receive. Cloud was quiet and withdrawn, eyes and face averted. Sephiroth continued to watch him, until he was given an answer.

"Not everyone was Hojo…" Cloud said softly, an intense level of bitterness behind the words, though not aimed at Sephiroth. "We ARE human; that we weren't was a lie… Hojo wasn't even close to human. Not where it counted…" He fell silent, as did Sephiroth, both thinking on that. It was true; Sephiroth had hardly ever known anyone else other than the twisted scientist, except for Zack…his only friend.

"Zack…" Sephiroth didn't realize that he'd even said anything aloud until Cloud looked up sharply in response to the whispered name. Sephiroth frowned, surprised again with himself. Damn mako poisoning… he thought irritably, blaming this constant slipping on the sickness. Cloud was watching him intensely, frozen where he sat, eyes wide and alert, breath bated.

"You knew Zack." Sephiroth said simply, just so that the other would BREATE again. Cloud's jumpy attitude was bothering him. Cloud nodded, and swallowed hard again. "He was a friend to anyone who needed one, wasn't he…?" He said softly. Sephiroth felt his heart melt a little over the heartfelt epitaph. He nodded in agreement. "Yes… yes he was." Sephiroth coughed again, though not nearly as violently as before. Cloud jumped up instantly.

"Would you like some water? Are you hungry?" He asked carefully. Sephiroth nodded. His mouth and throat were terribly dry and raw from coughing. He wasn't used to being sick at all; it had never happened to him before.

"Water would be helpful." He choked. He thought about the food. He didn't' know if he was hungry. Cloud seemed to notice this.

"Hold your hand out." He requested softly. Sephiroth complied without argument: He didn't even have the energy to ask why. He held his arm out straight over the covers palm down. It wavered and shook all over, and felt limp and exhausted almost immediately. He dropped it to the bed with a frown.

"I'll find something to help your strength back…" Cloud said, heading towards the door. "I won't be long" Sephiroth wanted to respond, but the blonde was out the door and gone before he could find any words. He heaved a sigh and sunk back into bed, and despite himself, fell back asleep.

Cloud wasn't gone twenty minutes, but already when he came back with food and water for the both of them, Sephiroth was relatively sound asleep. Cloud put down the foods on the lone table in the small room, and just stood there, watching. Sephiroth looked so peaceful still and asleep, his hair cascading onto the pillows around him. Cloud's heart fluttered as the man shifted, the blankets pulling down a little to expose a well sculpted shoulder and neckline. If he didn't look so deathly pale –more so than his usual light complexion- he'd be perfect… Cloud openly gasped as those glowing green eyes flashed open, fixing on him immediately. Sephiroth frowned and Cloud leapt into slightly panicked action.

"I brought you some food and water…" He had the grace to turn his back from that penetrating stare to retrieve the momentarily forgotten food. He carried the tray over to Sephiroth and set it carefully within arms reach on the bed stand. Sephiroth took both without comment, eating silently, even as Cloud decided that he was far from hungry and neglected his own meal. He sat by a window and simply stared out into the snow in silence. Sephiroth finished eating, and set the tray back on the bed stand, and watched Cloud for a moment, thinking. He felt his eyes linger on the nape of the boy's neck and jaw line in an uncomfortable manner, making his body go hot and cold for a moment before he pulled himself together. Damn fag… he scolded himself. He shook the feeling off.

"You never did tell me exactly why you're helping me, Strife." He said, and then froze for half a heartbeat, certain that that was NOT what he had planned on saying. Cloud was staring at him like a deer frozen in the headlights. Sephiroth raised an eyebrow. Cloud blushed slightly, setting off little alarm signals in Sephiroth's head. Oh, no…he isn't. I'm just imagining that. Wishful thinking is all… the thought, mentally stumbling for one of the first times in his life. Cloud was looking down at his feet, eyes averted.

"I…well…I…ah…." Sephiroth stood, ignoring his apparent nudity as the sheets fell away from his body, taking a step towards the blonde. Cloud's eyes darted up to his chest before pulling quickly away from him again, his face heating again.

"Yes? What?" He said coolly, still moving forward. Cloud choked up, stumbling backwards into the far wall of the little room. His eyes were darting around in panic. "Uh… ahh…Aah!" Cloud cried out, still fumbling as Sephiroth cornered him with one hand planted firmly against the wall over Cloud's head.

"You…what, Cloud?" Sephiroth said softly. He leaned in on the blonde so that their faces were inches from each other. Cloud was breathing hard, and now that he was so close, he could see that the smaller man was shaking badly. Sephiroth smiled.

"You're shaking…" He pointed out. Cloud swallowed, his breath catching. Sephiroth leaned in closer, pressing his weight against that lithe body. He could feel Cloud's body stiffen tensely under him, could practically feel his pulse hammering. Sephiroth leaned in to whisper right in Cloud's ear.

"Why are you so afraid? You defeated me once. Do it again, if you don't like it…" There was a feral undertone in his voice that surprised even Sephiroth. Well, where in hell did that come from?? Cloud didn't answer, but dropped his forehead to rest lightly on Sephiroth's collarbone, face pointed downward. He shook his head 'no'. Sephiroth raised an eyebrow.

"No?" He whispered. Cloud was shaking almost violently now. Sephiroth felt weak-ish as well, still far from healthy, but caught too much in the moment to care. Cloud shook his head 'no' again. Sephiroth moved, lifting his weight back off the blonde so that Cloud was no longer pinned. To his surprise, Cloud followed, keeping his head rested right where it had been, delicately placed –barely touching but still there- on his chest. Sephiroth was beginning to understand the intensity of what he'd stumbled upon. "Cloud…?" He asked softly. Cloud was still shaking. His only cue to what was going on was the small sob that slipped from the blonde's lips floating up almost soundlessly to Sephiroth's ears. "…Cloud…? Why…?" Sephiroth's own heart was pounding now. Could it be that someone actually /cared/? About him? He looked down at the blond spiky hair brushing his neck lightly. It was soft despite its appearance. But how…? After all I've done to him…? Sephiroth realized cynically that it was probably a trick and that Cloud would slip a knife into his chest at any moment…but it never happened. Carefully, reluctantly, Sephiroth brought a hand up to Cloud's back, holding him gently in a loose embrace. The weight of Cloud's forehead increased slightly.

"Cloud…?" Sephiroth asked again, his voice softer than he'd ever heard it come out before. "Cloud, what's going on…? …Look at me….please?" Cloud tensed a little, then slowly lifted his face to look up at the taller man. Cloud's eyes were wide and watering. Sephiroth gasped, and immediately Cloud averted his eyes.

"I'm sorry…" He breathed, sound barely coming out of his closed throat. He was crying ever so lightly. "I…God… I… I—"He choked and reluctantly brought those brilliant sapphire eyes up to Sephiroth's again. Sephiroth knew the emotions he saw there, though he'd never been on the receiving end of most of them. Adoration and hope… and a deep seeded terror that he knew quite well. Sephiroth felt a lump form deep in his throat as their eyes met. Cloud waited in silence, working hard to not avert his eyes. "So shy…" Sephiroth mused quietly. Cloud hiccupped, eyes starting to water with dread. Sephiroth had never been loved, didn't know how to react, though suddenly he wanted to so very badly. He was afraid that he would hurt Cloud, or scare him off if he took the wrong direction. Under his hand, Cloud was shaking like a leaf and Sephiroth knew he was running out of time to think. "Look, Sephiroth… I think…" Cloud started softly, starting to pull away. "That this was a mis-" Sephiroth cut him off, pulling his light form close to his own body in a fierce embrace. Cloud gasped, then relaxed slowly, leaning heavily into his chest, breathing deep. "Sephiroth…" Cloud's voice was shaking, and Sephiroth could already feel a slight wetness under the blonde's face, but even so, Cloud had as firm a grip on him as he did on Cloud. "Sephiroth.. I… I…" He choked again. "Shh…Come on." Sephiroth pulled Cloud gently back to the bed with him, sitting on the edge of it, Cloud still leaning firmly into him. This left Cloud standing still, and right at eye-level with Sephiroth. Cloud pulled away a little, eyes puffy and red, to give Sephiroth a searching look. Sephiroth held that gaze for a long time in silence. His heart was hammering up in his throat, and he felt something inside of him flutter each time Cloud's sapphire eyes met his. "How long?" He ventured, not sure he wanted to really know. "You've been gone for six years… And… I…I've… Well.. I guess that makes it about twelve years…" Sephiroth's breath caught. "Twelve years..?" Sephiroth breathed softly. Cloud nodded. "Yeah…I guess it started out just Hero Worship, but…" He looked up into Sephiroth's eyes, his own suddenly very clear. "Its been love for a very long time…" Sephiroth shivered. "And all this time I'd sincerely thought no one would ever love me…" He whispered. Cloud smiled, bringing a hand bravely up to ever so lightly brush Sephiroth's cheek. It was as if a switch had been flipped. In that split second that contact was made he lunged forward, scooping Cloud up even as he leaned back, laying across the bed with Cloud pulled up onto him. Cloud managed to get out a single gasp before Sephiroth firmly planted his lips against Cloud's in a kiss far more passionate than he had expected it to become. They eventually pulled apart, both breathing heavily. Cloud was crying, though he was smiling. "I never dare dreamed…" He whispered. Sephiroth smiled, a true smile maybe for the first time in nearly a decade. "Always dare." He said, kissing Cloud again, more gently.