Broken Wings

- Artistic Suicide

Tears

Lucrecia…I've broken your child…and such a pretty doll he was too…

Such a pretty woman you were too…

so pretty…

Hojo stumbled through the darkened corridors of the mansion, his head clutched tightly in his hands to keep it from falling from his shoulders. When not in her presence, it was getting every more difficult to believe that what he was doing made sense. Morality had never disturbed him…but he was starting to wonder if, perhaps, his sanity was at risk.

Sephiroth had been asleep for two days now, injured to the point where Hojo could not tell whether or not he was going to live. The boy had lost so much blood…

I said I'd give him up to you…I did not know that it would be in this fashion…my love…

Collapsing against a door, Hojo allowed his shoulders to shake as he wrenched at the screaming fragments of his mind, trying to force them back together. The corridor seemed to stretch out for an eternity. He could hear footsteps somewhere, or his beating heart, or the sound of ghosts running after him…afraid, Hojo opened the door, falling into the room in his haste.

He was welcomed by the overwhelming scent of green.

It was her conservatory. Hojo remembered giving it to her so that she might grow the rare plants that would not have survived otherwise. Nibelheim was not a friendly environment for the more tropical plants and his beautiful Lucrecia with her green thumbs, who took delight in encouraging the growth of over twenty species of roses, had not known how to sufficiently express her joy at this gift…

their naked bodies tangling 'midst the vines as she laughed…

"I'm going to bruise these plants if I'm not careful!"

"Bruise me then, pretty one…"

…how he had loved her then, before she had come along and ripped out his heart.

A few of the plants still grew, now wild and choking in the small room. He had not thought that they would. Hojo tended to avoid the place and had not yet worked up the courage to clear the room out and transform it into a study.

It's because I just don't have the time…

Sephiroth was not even aware of this conservatory. He had never been told his mother's name. He had never known her…had never been held by her. Lucrecia was a beautiful dream, now shattered.

"Bitch!" The scream tore through the conservatory, unheard by all except the vines. "Why do you keep blaming me? Stop looking at me and go to hell, you whore!"

Leaves flew wildly beneath his fingertips as Hojo tore frantically at the sturdy plants, seeking to destroy any sign that Lucrecia had once existed…her plants, her memory, her son…

You left me…you left me…but I left you first…

Panting, the scientist realised his lunacy and fell back to the floor, shaking.

"You will stay, then? Stay and drive me mad, my love?"

Please…I deserve it...listen to me now, in this lucid moment of sanity and protect our son…before I hurt him more…

The only answer to meet this frantic prayer was the unsteady sound of Hojo's breathing. He wondered at himself for making such a request of a dead woman.

Grab a hold on yourself, you fool…

Hojo's eyes hardened again as the moment passed away in the silence. The plants remained mute, condemning him without words. Oblivious to their silent accusations, he made for the door.

He knew who could make him feel better…

Poor little boy…

The words jolted him from the foggy embrace of sleep. He knew that he had heard a voice.

"Gabrielle?" he whispered. The gorgeous woman who appeared in front of him then, was anyone but his grotesque…

beloved…

…playmate. Tall, with faintly luminescent skin, silver-haired like him…

"Mother?"

She smiled. Beckoned to him with an elegant hand. He slid out of bed, noticing that his wounded, broken body remained behind. Rather than being disturbing, it was a strange relief to escape the pains of his physical form.

"Yes, it's a dream, my son," she whispered in answer to his unasked question, drawing him close to her and stroking his hair. "This is the only way for me to make contact with you at the moment…I am so sorry, my love."

"It's really you? Jenova?"

"You know my name then," the woman smiled, her eyes closed, embracing him. "Yes, Sephiroth. It is really me. You won't remember this when you wake up. I don't have such power as to make a lasting, conscious impression on you yet…but oh, my son…when you are older, we will talk."

Sephiroth remained silent, his plethora of questions suddenly irrelevant as his mother ran her long nails down his cheeks, over the tear stains, gently…a cat with sheathed claws.

"My wing…" he choked, feeling sudden horror as he looked at his physical shell. Jenova made comforting noises in her throat, dismissing his terror.

"What is a wing, little sparrow? You will acquire such power that it will seem like nothing, one day. I will return your wing to you when you have proven yourself to me, Sephiroth…and so much more…"

"And Gabby? Will you give her back her eyes?"

The hands against his cheeks suddenly tightened, painfully, before relaxing again. "I need you to forget her, Sephiroth. You can't hang on to your past…you can't have anyone but me. But I'm enough, aren't I?"

"Yes…" murmured the child, uncertainty evident in his voice. His mother sighed.

"It may seem a little cruel now, I know, but don't worry. Mommy will fix everything, you'll see."

Hojo wove his way through the basement tunnels, a gun in his hand, until he came to the locked door that his son had noticed some time ago. Resting a hand against the wood, Hojo wondered at the wisdom in this choice he was making now.

I need to forget this pain…

He slipped the key in the lock and turned it.

The room inside was choked with dust and riddled with coffins, a mausoleum of memories and a fitting tomb for its sole occupant who had, with Hojo's assistance, allowed himself to be imprisoned there many years ago. They had both dealt with their guilt in different ways.

The centre coffin's lid flew off as Hojo kicked at it, revealing the young man that lay resting. Hojo's breath caught in his throat at the sight.

So beautiful…like poetry and moonlight…

The man was pale, his delicate features and prominent cheekbones painfully evident in the shadows of the room. It was difficult to believe that he had lain there for eight years, his dark, shoulder-length hair the only sign of change. That and the fingers on his right hand, which were bloody from being gnawed at and used to scratch against his coffin.

"She betrayed you, didn't she?" drawled Hojo, smirking at the man below him. Valentine's eyes flew open at the sound of his voice, narrowing at the sight of the man that inspired so much hatred within him.

Hojo, Vincent mused, was a changed man. The dark circles beneath his eyes had become more prominent; his eyes more haunted. With his sadistic smile and sharp canines, he looked possibly more vampiric than the man in the coffin.

"Do the monsters sing at night?" Hojo whispered, his face twisting between malicious glee and terror.

"You should know," Vincent hissed. "What do you want of me, Hojo?"

"Do you dream of her? Do memories of her keep you sane?"

"Hojo, don't wake up the demons."

"Oh, Valentine, I wish you had been there when her son broke. Just like a pretty toy…he reminds me of her, you know."

"Hojo…"

"Of course, when Lucrecia died, there was so much more blood-"

Vincent lashed out with his clawed hand but Hojo was too swift; ducking Vincent's blow and smashing his gun into the other man's face with spiteful glee.

Let me mar that beauty of yours, Valentine.

To his surprise, Vincent laughed, his voice metallic and raspy through lack of use.

"You can't hurt me anymore, Hojo," he said, smiling viciously with bloodied teeth. "You can't hurt me. You have everything…my Lucrecia, my freedom, my humanity, my sanity, my…my…"

"Yes, it's on that last point that I wished to address you," said Hojo, silkily. "I'm going to kill her."

Vincent didn't stop laughing. "Do it, you bastard. It would be a blessing. I wish to Gaia that you'd kill us all…Sephiroth, her, me…then turn the gun on your own fucking head an follow us like the dog you are. This place is cursed and we're all in hell. There's nothing that you can do. There's nothing…"

Hojo turned and left the other man to his hysterics, furious with the lack of response that he had received. He was being denied his relief.

So be it. He'd find it elsewhere.

Hands tore painfully at his shoulder, a touch so different from his Mother's. Sephiroth woke up to look at Hojo's sneering face.

"Good, you're awake. I think it's time you learnt a lesson."

The boy was dragged from his bed and through the corridors, his blanket tangled in his legs as he tripped and stumbled in confusion down the stairwell and through the basement.

They came to a door.

"Father, no," whimpered Sephiroth as Hojo unlocked it and shoved him in without speaking.

Gabrielle looked up from her usual corner, her tragic face contorting in fear as she heard Sephiroth's pleas.

"Don't hurt us, Father, I beg you!"

Hojo grabbed a fistful of Gabriella's fiery hair and slammed her head against a wall. Sephiroth groaned.

"I'm going to teach you to obey me, Sephiroth," said Hojo coolly, smiling at his son's stricken face. One day, the boy would learn not to react to his father's barbs as Valentine had, but not yet, not yet…

The click as Hojo cocked his gun echoed in the silence.

"This is what happens when you love somebody…they die, Sephiroth," murmured Hojo, almost incoherently, "and it's all your fault."

"Father, I'll obey you. I'll do anything, if you'll only spare Gabrielle," cried Sephiroth as his friend moaned in pain and horror.

"Watch carefully, Sephiroth," said Hojo.

The gunshot exploded through the room and through his screams, Sephiroth thought that he heard another being echoing his grief as, unbeknownst to him, Vincent Valentine laughed in between his tortured shrieks.

Blood blossomed into a delicate flower over Gabriella's stomach and she slumped without a sound, her white dress stained. Sephiroth flew to her, his hands against her wound, trying to stop the flow of blood.

Hojo hauled the boy to his feet. "Obey me next time, you bitch's whelp," he snapped, wincing at his words. "Tomorrow, you'll be leaving this house and this foolish child's corpse. You're going to Midgar, Sephiroth and if you refuse me, you'll go to hell."

He threw his son towards the exit and the boy fled towards his room, gasping in agony at the loss of his friend.

Vincent Valentine lay in the dark, his hands over his face, the claw tearing bloody stripes through his cheeks as he sobbed.

It was over now. She couldn't suffer anymore at his hands. He had failed his promise to her but then, he had broken so many that it really didn't matter any more.

Fly up Angel…they're waiting for you…

Gabriella's eyes fluttered open, to see Hojo tightening a bandage around the now stitched up hole in her upper torso, where her stomach had been removed years ago.

"L't m'die…" she whimpered breathlessly, inciting laughter.

"I told you I'd let you live, pretty one," the scientist said. "You're going to relive his fate…after all, it gave me such pleasure the first time."

"What are you doing?" Gabrielle forced herself to ask. Hojo laughed, even as unconscious tears streaked his cheeks.

"Why precious, I'm making you an Angel…"

Sephiroth choked in the dark, trying not to smell the dried blood on his hands. He cried out in the shadows…

Mother…

…even as he prayed to any Angels that might be listening, begging them to stop the sun from ever rising over Nibelheim again.

A/N Okay…that was not very cheerful. I apologise. Nevertheless, the plot is starting to move somewhere and I will blindly follow. I would so appreciate any reviews and criticisms! Until Chapter Five…