Note from the author: Here it is! The Final chapter! I hope everyone enjoyed reading this. My next fanfic should be up in two days or less after I post this chapter – but I'm not sure which one to pick. I've a lot of fanfics that have yet to be completed – although only some have actual endings.
This final chapter leads up to the beginning of Advent Children, although the hints are more of a strange idea I had – and I'll have a few explanations below. The other FFVII: AC fic I'll be doing won't quite be connected to this since this was more of a spur/theory I thought about. The AC fic had been in the making for perhaps nearly four months now, so changing it would take longer.
Warning: Blood, gore, violence, sick stuff from my weird imagination – and some yaoi.
Now the reviewers:
Serena McKeenzo: Well, here it is! Hope you enjoy.
Salem Saori: Well – Cloud is very sincere in this chapter. Hope you like.
Ardwynna Morrigu: I always thought Lucrecia should've had a little more attention in the game – and a lot of People would agree that Sephiroth and Aeris are alike (although I can't stand SephxAeris stuff...)
ShadowCatLeader: LOL, trust me to put him in a situation like that – I'm so mean :P
Konie Hime: Well, all things must come to an end – but I hope you enjoyed this last chapter.
Chapter edited for mistakes - 16 April, 2006
The tree itself glowed in an almost holy glare, but its occupant outshined its ethereal beauty. Sephiroth looked like he was asleep on the branches, save for one arm dangling carelessly down the bark while the other rested over his chest. He was dressed in a black Shin-Ra uniform, the collar edges sewn in gold. His hair was hanging down like a waterfall of silver, some strands caught up on the smallest branches. His skin, however, was cold and white – completely dead.
For a while, Zack said nothing, and Cloud watched his friend's face soften into a sad and lonely expression as he looked at Sephiroth.
"I remember watching him sleep whenever I had to drag him from Hojo's lab... I.. was glad he was peaceful when he slept..." Zack's voice was gentle, almost ready to break.
"But he's here, right? Inside his body – so... he's not gone..." Cloud replied, wondering to himself if his words held any kind of comfort. Zack, once again fell silent. He looked at Cloud, then back at Sephiroth again.
Without a word, he walked towards the tree and hauled himself up with ease. He sat opposite Sephiroth, his blue eyes almost like ice with sorrow.
"What's very cruel is that – I can't even hold his hand, I can't touch him or hold him. At least... at least then I wouldn't feel so downhearted." His eyes lowered, his black hair hiding them from view.
Cloud said nothing but brought his gaze back to the tunnel of tree roots. The wailing was distant – but could be ignored easily. Cloud found this hard to do, especially when those long sorrowful faces kept crying in his mind. Were they all male souls to sustain Sephiroth's spirit?
He walked over to the foot of the trunk and sat down, his head leaning back and his eyes sliding closed. He was tired, and his head was swirling from all that had happened. His thoughts drifted to Tifa and the orphans as well – wondering if his nosiness had gotten them into more trouble since he came into the dreamworld. Had Tifa discovered his body yet?
"So what's your decision?"
Cloud looked up at Zack. For a moment nothing was said, Cloud's eyes looking carefully at Sephiroth.
"Look at it this way – your helping me rather then helping Sephiroth - " Zack said, his voice almost pleading. Cloud's look stopped him. Something in Cloud's eyes flickered, but Zack wasn't sure what.
"What do I need to do?" he asked.
With that, Zack gave him the biggest grin Cloud had seen in a long time.
In the dark, something hissed angrily. Two yellow orbs resembling more cat's eyes then human ones glared out into the shadows. A familiar face slowly came into view, although her eyes didn't resemble Sephiroth's, even if their faces were nearly the same, and her skin was a pale blue.
Jenova clenched a gloved fist, shaking in anger. She was so close to the failure until that spiky pest came into the picture and disrupted everything. The failure would've been an acceptable alive shell for her to use in the real world...
On the other hand, that Zack person can only do so much as a spirit – and keeping the failure from her was the most damage he could cause.
Humans do strange things for love, she thought, But its something I do not wish to learn about. I want this planet, and neither that Zack creature nor the failure will stop me.
She chuckled in the dark, Sephiroth's armour glinting from an unknown light somewhere. She liked this body, strong and with her face, as much as Sephiroth hated that fact. The light came closer and she turned around, a bemused expression crossing her face.
"Oh? You've come out of hiding then?"
A small colourless ghost floating a little ways above her, glared down in silence – mouthing something wordlessly.
"The only person who can come here is I. They'll never find you my darling."
The ghost gave her a disgusted look at being called "Darling" and made to disappear again until Jenova reached out and hauled the ghost down without even touching it.
"You forget I control everything in here, even the darkness around us."
The ghost screamed silently and struggled with her, but instead she cradled the ghost almost fondly, holding its head against the crook of her armoured shoulder.
"Poor Sephiroth – all alone..." she teased cruelly, "But it won't be for long. There will be more like us once this planet is mine. You'll have lots and lots of brothers and sisters to play with, and they'll all be like you and me."
She let go of the little ghost and it flew up and away from her. It floated there for a moment, a look of despair on its face before it sunk into the endless black, hiding again.
"Who knows, my Sephiroth," She said, shrugging for emphasis, "You might find someone better then Zack – then you'll be happy."
Her golden eyes looked up at the dark oblivion above her, "I'm doing this for you, you know. You just don't realize it yet. But you will, and you'll thank me in the end for it."
The darkness did not answer her.
"So what exactly am I meant to do?" Cloud folded his arms at an excited Zack – the raven haired SOLDIER looking like he was going to start leaping about the place.
"Ok, ok – what you have to do..." Zack calmed himself down and thought for a moment.
"Let me merge with you, and what I mean is by letting me stay in your body. I'll guide you once we're in the Crater and taking Sephiroth's body out of that place will break Jenova's hold on him."
"How will that break the hold?"
Zack looked around at the place before answering, "From what I discovered, she has some sort of invisible barrier so Sephiroth can't leave his body and get out of the Crater. By taking his body out of the barrier, he'll be free to leave it."
"But isn't Jenova in his body also?"
"Her spirit can't do much to a normal living being. With me inside you, you'll be able to see spirits as if you were one of them, so that way we can protect Sephiroth from Jenova when she emerges."
"But I can't touch a sp - "
"Leave that to me. I've six years of pent-up rage to beat on her." Zack said, fists balling and shaking, "My main concern is getting Sephiroth out of that prison first."
"Right." Cloud nodded once.
There was silence for a moment – Cloud expecting something to happen.
"So – how exactly do we do this?" he asked finally. Zack flushed, sweeping the ground with his foot.
"This is going to fell very weird for the both of us – so... Er... think nothing about it, ok?"
Cloud frowned, but said nothing. Zack raised his hands, his fingers stretched out in front of Cloud.
"Put the tips of your fingers on mine and try to blank your mind. This might take a few goes, because I've never done this before."
Cloud did so, and tried to keep his mind empty of thought – which of course isn't easy with the circumstances. Zack instructed him to close his eyes and Cloud did so, the raven-haired spirit doing the same.
For a few moments they felt nothing, until something shot through Cloud's body in a way he wouldn't have liked. His eyes snapped open, and both he and Zack were after falling backwards, both staring at each other.
"Oooookay... This may be more difficult then I thought..." Zack gave an awkward laugh, no doubt he felt what Cloud felt as well.
The blonde shuddered a little, but refused to falter, "Again – we'll try again."
And they did, both men concentrating – and on the final try, a violent shudder wracked Cloud's body, and unable to open his eyes, he felt something cold go through him. Then his feet gave underneath him and for that moment he thought he was falling forever.
"Cloud?" a voice called him.
Something cold and wet was pressed against his forehead, and he stirred, eyes twitching.
"Is he waking up?" another voice asked.
"I think so – Cloud? Can you hear me? Its Tifa."
"Cloud! You've been out for hours!"
When Cloud opened his eyes, at first, he thought he was in a hospital – everything was so white.
Tifa's face was above his – and she was just so pale.
Give me a second – I'm not used to seeing through real eyes yet...
Zack's voice was somehow calming – even if he was joking, and a voice inside Cloud's head.
Then everything seemed to dim a little until Cloud saw that the ceiling was yellow, and not white, and that Tifa looked normal and healthy again.
"Tifa - " Cloud spoke quietly, "Tifa?"
"I need to call Cid – I'm gonna need the HighWind..."
Both Tifa and Cid glanced over at Cloud, who was leaning against the railing on the far side of the HighWind's cockpit. He was gazing off into the distance, his eyes half-closed and lazy. Both of his companions watched him with worry. Tifa explained to Cid how she had found Cloud lying there unconscious on the living room floor, and how he was so still and pale that it was like he was dying – or even like the condition he was in when they found him in Mideel with Mako Poisoning.
And something about the way he slouched and moved – even talked, it was like he was a different person altogether. Tifa knew he had certain ways of expressing himself, and the motions he often used which made him Cloud. He had shown none of these – but a façade of laziness, and almost weariness.
The fact that they were heading to the Northern Crater of all places, only added it to their list of worries. Tifa pondered on called the rest of the gang, but they were already flying through the Sand Prison near the Golden Saucer Amusement Park when she decided against it.
Whatever was wrong with Cloud, she nor Cid didn't want him to notice for the time being.
Time passed by slowly, and Cloud didn't move once, but continued to stare out at the sky they cut through.
And that's all we have to do, Cloud. Just follow where I tell you, and find Sephiroth. The amount of times I've been there I've not once seen a monster. I'm guessing they all died after the Crater blew up – the Mako must've killed them.
Cloud understood and Zack went silent for a while. The fact that he had been speaking to Cloud since their departure for the Northern Crater distracted Cloud from doing anything else. His body felt numb, and he noticed that not all of his movements were his own after he woke up. He recalled from memory, that Zack was a good few inches taller then him – and moving about in a smaller body was probably awkward for the both of them. During this whole time he wondered why he wanted to help Sephiroth – or was it really just helping Zack? He wasn't sure, but somehow, being imprisoned inside your own dead body was probably something he wouldn't wish upon anyone.
I get it – you've felt guilty since you saved the world right? Guilt over Aeris –
Cloud shook his head a little, I don't want to think about that right now.
Let me tell you this much, Cloud, Zack said, Even if you did save her – she was going to die anyway, by her own free will. Why do you think she ran off on her own to the City when she knew a clone was behind her? Because she gave herself up to save you – and to save Sephiroth. Continue on – the world's still spinning Cloud, and believe me; I'd cherish every moment of being alive, especially if it's with someone you care about. It may not be Aeris, but at least your not alone.
As much as hated to admit it, Zack was right. He cared about Tifa – and the orphans were everyone's responsibility. The planet itself was slowly healing since Shin-Ra was no more. Perhaps it was a new age, a new start. Maybe that's what Cloud needed.
At long last, the HighWind hovered above the Crater, and Cloud picked up the Buster Sword leaning at his side. Somehow, it felt better then the Ultima did, it felt more familiar – but that could be Zack, and not him, feeling this.
"I'm going alone - " he said as Cid and Tifa came to his side. Both gave him a surprised look.
He smiled apologetically, "This is... something I have to do alone, for a friend."
"Cloud...?" Tifa said, but her voice trailed off.
"Trust me Tif', its something important. I don't know how long I'll be – but... Stay at the Icicle Town and I'll contact you when I'm back out."
And without considering to listen to either of their views on his actions, he swung a leg over the railing and climbed down the rope ladder to the Crater.
Hours passed, and not once did Cloud feel the weight of his sword or his feet aching. It was like he had extra strength –
At last, he, or they, came to the familiar tunnel. It had taken a long time for Zack and he to find this place, and for a moment Cloud dreaded how much longer it would've taken if there HAD been monsters.
He walked down through the tunnel, and again he tried to ignore the wails and cries of souls. Twice he tripped over tall roots and ended up on his hands and knees. The second time had him plunging his hands into what felt like layers upon layers of... cobwebs? He pulled his hands out of the white gunk, the strange substance cold and slick to the touch, but it didn't break like most cobwebs. This... bounced.
"What the hell IS this stuff?" he asked out loud.
I've never seen it before. Zack said.
Cloud's eyes followed the 'web' which turned out to be like a pathway leading to the tree where Sephiroth's body was. He stood up and walked through the tunnel. The white 'webs' didn't break under his feet as he shuffled through them.
Once he got to the opening where the tree was, a gasp escaped his throat. The white stuff was everywhere – and it was even half-hiding Sephiroth's body on top of the tree.
But something else caught his eye, and somehow, he had a strong feeling there was more to this web was more then he thought. Sticking to the trunk were cocoons made from the web.
Trapped monsters? Cloud thought, as he climbed the tree towards Sephiroth. He pulled the web off the General's body and carefully lifted him from the branches. Cloud was expecting him to literally be a dead weight, but he guessed with Zack's strength and his together the body wasn't very heavy. He hefted the body over his shoulder.
He slid down the tree, one arm awkwardly around Sephiroth's legs, the other trying to keep himself steady.
Damn them! Damn them! How dare they!
Jenova cursed viciously, "How the HELL could they have merged their spirits together? There's only enough room for one spirit!"
A light twinkled in the distance, watching Jenova go frantic with rage.
I knew it Zack - you and Cloud, you're both different, yet so alike.
"You – aren't going anywhere. You are MINE." Jenova hissed up at the light. Sephiroth smiled, shaking his head. He mouthed something to her.
Instead of getting angrier, Jenova's body shook, and then a low chuckle emerged from her throat.
The small ghost flickered, surprised.
"You don't realize, my darling, that you who cannot see the world outside you – what I've been working on..."
Her gaze was cold and cruel, and the ghost of Sephiroth edged a little ways from her.
"Alright – I'll let you go if they suceed, for now. But leaving your body behind, especially with what I've gone to so much trouble of preserving it and slowly growing it back to perfection, that it'll just be a soulless, alive body."
Sephiroth's colourless eyes widened, and Jenova's smiled deepened.
the time being – it'll be looked after until you come to your senses...
Now – if you'll excuse me, I have our guests to attend to."
And with that she vanished, once again leaving Sephiroth alone in the darkness. He pleaded, with anyone or any god that was listening, that Zack would come back.
With Sephiroth's body on the floor, Cloud circled the tree, touching the cocoons. There were three altogether, one being the smaller of the two. They were also rock solid and hard. Using the Buster Sword on these would only result in breaking it.
"Zack – I have a feeling about these..."
I know – I mean, where did they come from? Its only been... sixteen hours or so since we were here last?
"Stop touching them you Failure."
Cloud spun around, Buster Sword swung up in defence. Standing above Sephiroth's body was another Sephiroth – only... this 'Sephiroth' was very deformed. One arm was twice as long as the other – blue and purple veins pulsing on the oversized muscle. Various parts of the body were patched with blue and peach coloured skin, all scarred and stretched, as if they were pieces of clothing that didn't quite fit. It was naked, but oddly genderless. It was Sephiroth's body – but it had Jenova's head, that silver helmet and all with it. She grinned at Cloud's horror at the sight of her makeshift body.
"Its not really what I'd wear for such rare guests, but as you can see, its not easy trying to piece yourself back together again..." she said, grinning.
"You disgusting - " Cloud trailed off, only to let out a scream of rage and barge toward her, Buster Sword swung high and ready to cut her in half.
She moved quickly despite the huge weight on her deformed arm, and swung a pair of claws at Cloud. The blonde barely dodged the attack, and leapt behind her, hoping to injure her back.
He drove the sword through her, and purple blood gushed over her arms. Jenova went still. He made to take out the sword, only to realize that it was stuck!
Jenova's body shook with chuckles, "Think you can face me without a weapon?"
Her blood hardened around the metal of his sword, and Jenova swung around, tossing Cloud into a river of the white webs. He struggled to his feet as he kept slipping and getting tangled.
Jenova watched with amusement.
"Like a fly caught in a spider's web, Failure."
"I have a name!" Cloud roared, tearing at the web furiously. Zack urged Cloud to calm down, but he ignored the spirit and his anger boiled his blood.
Jenova smirked, and with her huge arm grabbed the hilt of the Buster Sword from behind and moved it around, cutting herself open again.
"It's a little annoying – I heal over anything that gets stuck on this body."
She slid it out after another round of playing butcher and held it in front of Cloud.
"Come and get it – and I'll give you another chance, Failure."
She stuck it into the ground, and walked towards Sephiroth's body. She lifted him up easily, holding him close to her.
"Think you can strike me with him in my arms, Zack?" she taunted.
Zack, while inside Cloud's body, lost all feeling. The only thing he could see was Jenova, and the sword standing a few meters in front of him. Cloud felt his fury beginning to grow, and it flowed through him, through his arms and legs to the tips of his fingers. Powerful fury. Slowly, he climbed skilfully out of the web despite its tangles – and his hand slid around the handle of the Buster Sword slowly.
"I have a name, bitch." Cloud hissed, his voice contorted with Zack's, giving it an echo. Both were in a state where somehow, their fury combined into something almost – inhuman.
With one tug, the Buster Sword was pulled from the dirt and raised into the air. The two opponents stared each other down for long seconds until Cloud and Zack gave a roar and hurled themselves toward her, too fast for her to see –
"My name is Cloud – so don't forget it..." he said as he went through her.
"N - " was all that came out of her mouth as Sephiroth's body slipped from her arms, and her body along with it. Blood stained the white of the webs as her head slid from its shoulders and fell to the floor. Cloud stood above her, watching her mouth open and close soundlessly, her golden eyes wide. Her eyebrow twitched and she grew still.
The blonde's body shook with anger for a long while, until he collapsed backwards, trembling faintly.
"Please... Let this... be the last time..." he murmured.
Cloud swung his arm, watching the bloody bag with Jenova's head inside it fly through the air and plummet into the sea. He closed his eyes, and heard the faint splash, then released his breath slowly.
A few meters behind him lay Sephiroth's body, wrapped in a white sheet. People had raised eyebrows at the Blonde when he returned to their village of Icicle Area, Tifa and Cid demanding answers out of the ex-SOLDIER – but all he did was borrow a shovel and a large blanket. He left without another word.
He let the breeze blow his hair back – breathing in the stinging cold air. It felt wonderful – and Cloud allowed himself to let his thoughts wander for a few moments.
Then, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Will you bury him over there? I found a good spot..." Zack said.
"Of course." Cloud nodded, and went over to where the body lay. Zack knelt at the body and laid his hand out. Another hand came out through the sheet and grasped Zack's one. Zack stood up, taking the other hand that appeared and helped Sephiroth to his feet. They embraced, Cloud closing his eyes, but a small smile couldn't help but creep over his lips.
"Thanks Cloud – I owe you."
Sephiroth looked up from Zack's shoulder to Cloud, "I'm not sure what to say... Cloud."
Cloud shrugged casually, "Nothing to say at all, Sephiroth, but, look after Zack for me."
Sephiroth smiled, Zack's arms wrapped around him tightly.
"Well – I'll see you in the Promised Land, Cloud"
The two made to leave, but Cloud smiled widely, "You owe me nothing Zack, we're even."
Confusion passed through Zack's face before he realized, and he smiled, nodding once.
And with that, the two vanished.
Cloud buried the body, leaving a large rock as a gravestone at the foot of it.
As he wiped his brow leaning on the shovel, it began to snow. He watched it float down on him, the tiny white flakes touching the dark ground of the grave.
Above him, he saw two glowing shapes fade into the distance, and he smiled.
A faint groan emitted from the cocoon – something struggling to break the surface of its womb. What looked like a hand pushed through the skin of the cocoon and broke it, sticky webbing and fluid stuck to the person's arm. Green eyes shot open, seeing light for the first time. What climbed out was a slim man, naked and sopping. Another stood a few meters away from him, his short silver hair stuck to his scalp. The two looked at each other, acknowledging once another. They knew who they were. But they noticed one of them was missing, and two pairs of cat green eyes travelled to the smallest cocoon on the tree. It was moving frantically, a small muffled voice almost crying.
The two pulled at the web, and lifted out a much shorter, much younger boy. He clung to his brother, his legs not quite accustomed to standing yet. Their mother was nowhere in sight, and neither was their eldest brother, but they knew what they had to do.
But, for now, they needed rest. The youngest was already yawning.
They all sat at the foot of the tree, leaning against each other for warmth and went to sleep.
Now was not the time, mother had told them, they had to wait.
Ok – let me explain a few things:
The three are the silver haired guys in Advent Children, Kadaj the youngest, Yazoo the skinny guy and Loz is the burly guy. In the English trailers it said they had obtained the head of Jenova, so I put it in a way where they had to find Jenova's head, and they dug up Sephiroth's body. It doesn't rot since I wrote that Jenova was preserving it – so that would lead to it being the Wheelchair man.
Well, I've seen Advent Children, aaand, well - by now I'd say everyone knows who the REAL wheelchair guy was, so... kinda blows my fic up, lol. Still, I hope people liked this.
Anywhos – if this still confuses, don't be afraid to ask! I hope anyone who've read this has enjoyed it.