Disclaimer: Characters in this story are copyrights of Square Enix. They are by no means mine. Only the storyline belongs to me. If by any chance I have used any ideas similar to those of existing authors, please inform me so that I may change the details. If there is no notice, I will take it that usage of the idea is permitted. Thank you.


"…" conversation

'…' thoughts


Second Chances

Chapter Thirteen: Revelation

The air was filled with unease around the table where Tifa had sat Kadaj and his brothers, including Sephiroth. Cloud was beside the youngest sibling, twining fingers with Kadaj under the table. Vincent sat beside Sephiroth, ready to support his lover whenever needed. Although Sephiroth had saved Kadaj, Cloud still could not totally erase the doubts he had towards that man. The mental wound inflicted by Sephiroth in the past had only just closed, and it required more time for him to fully recover from the terrible encounters. It wasn't easy to simply trust Sephiroth, so he gave the former general a chance, a chance to earn his trust.

Though still slightly weakened, Kadaj's condition had improved by leaps and bounds. He now sat at the table, silent, his eyes inspecting the older in front of him. It was still somewhat unbelievable to him that he was seeing Sephiroth in person. Jenova had tried to make him into this person. Before this he had felt a distant aloofness, even resentment towards this 'Sephiroth'. But now, looking at him, Kadaj couldn't help being in awe. He was their brother.

Slowly, in a painfully formal way, Cloud inquired Sephiroth, "What brought you here initially?"

"There is something very important which I need to tell you, all of you."

Inevitably, Cloud found himself hanging on his words, as did everyone else.

"Jenova is still alive."

A loud gasp issued from Yuffie while Barret boomed a very audible "What?"

"Are you sure?" asked Cloud gravely. The former general nodded, his face as serious as Cloud.

"How do you know this?"

"Wait!" interjected Tifa. "I thought Jenova was dead! That's why Kadaj was withering away, right?"

"It will be a long story. Will you listen to me?" asked Sephiroth.

Cloud nodded his approval. Sephiroth took a deep breath and exhaled. He was ready to recount his strange tale to all of them.

All I could remember was a swaying sensation, to and fro, as though I was being cradled. I was supposed to sleep for eternity, enveloped in the darkness of Lifestream. I dreamt…long dreams of memories I never knew I had, dreams of things I had experienced, dreams of what I had wished to experience. I don't know how long I dreamt. Then one day, I had another dream. In this dream, someone told me, again and again, that there was danger. I tried to ignore this dream, because it disturbed me. But the voice pleaded and begged me, telling me that I must stop it; I must return to the land above to warn others. It showed me…visions, I think, of Kadaj and Yazoo and Loz.

The voice said to me, "Look! They are your brothers! And they're dying!" And it showed me more visions.

I fought the voice. I resisted the visions it showed me, trying but failing to block it out, for it seemed to be able to intrude upon my very subconscious mind. What finally conquered me was the vision of Jenova, the wretched creature who deceived me. The voice showed me her, and cried out to me, "She's killing them!"

I was enraged. Was it not enough for her to wreak so much destruction through me that she had to take the lives of my brothers? I began to listen and accept what the voice said, and it urged me to warn my brothers. But how was I, a mere dead soul, going to contact them? It was then another voice came to me and told me that they will give me one more chance to live, but just a chance. I would have to fight for my freedom and my life. If I failed, I would never be able to return to Lifestream, nor would I be able to set foot on the physical realm. I would just be a roaming soul. They too were taking a risk, for if I were to break free from Lifestream, I will damage the net of souls that held Lifestream intact. They were willing to take that risk. I agreed.

The moment I consented I was thrust from the peaceful slumber promised to me. For the first time in perhaps a long time, I felt cold. When I opened my eyes, I only met darkness. My lungs constricted and I knew that I was now a living being, because I needed air. I propelled myself to the surface and lost consciousness after that. When I came to, I could not remember my mission here. I think it was because of the long absence of spirit in flesh, there was a fog in my mind. I couldn't recall anything, except that it was something of utmost importance.

As time passed, I began to dwell on it less and less. Until one night, the voice visited me in a dream. It told me about how Jenova was sapping Kadaj of his life, how it planned to grow stronger by draining the strength of her three genetic thoughts. The fog was lifted from my mind and I remembered the task entrusted to me.

"That was how I found myself here."

A long silence followed Sephiroth's last sentence. The idea was no less than outrageous, but Sephiroth was not one to make light of things such as these. It was difficult to believe, yet it appeared to be the truth.

Cloud's cell phone rang suddenly, shattering the silence. He picked it up to find Tseng on the other line. He sounded quite anxious, a trait unbecoming of the usually calm Turk.

"Cloud, I had the lab run some tests on the water sample you gave me. You won't believe what I found."

Cloud felt the pit of his stomach tighten. 'I think I can.'

"The water is swarming with Jenova's cells! What does this mean?"

"I'll get back to you later. Thanks for the information." Cloud turned back to the small party gathered around him. His frown deepened.

"Looks like you're telling the truth." He told them the results obtained from Tseng.

"I still don't understand something," mused Reno. "What's the link between you and the pollution of Lifestream?"

"It appears that with Sephiroth's breakout from the Lifestream, he caused some kind of crack in the net of souls." Vincent began to explain.

"Jenova is asorbing…something, some form of energy or filth, perhaps, from that crack."

"What 'bout giving them kids those Materias?" shot Barret. He was still eyeing the silver-haired man with suspicion.

"I do not understand myself, but the Materias appeared to have saved them."

Cloud turned to look at Kadaj, who had shifted slightly in his seat. He had a strange look in his eyes.

"I…don't really understand either, but…" A hand came up his chest, resting lightly on the spot where the Black Materia pulsed occasionally. "It's like…like a heart, you know? Like something that flows with energy to give us life." Something that made them feel physically alive.

"So, let me get this straight," said Reno. "Jenova's back, that's confirmed, right?"

Sephiroth and Cloud nodded.

"And she's killing off the three of them so she could live?"

"Theoretically, yes. But by what means, I do not know." Sephiroth admitted.

"Most likely it's because they have her cells." Cloud interjected. "But…"

Cloud frowned. He didn't understand this. If Jenova was indeed draining the life out of beings which contained her cells, then he too would have been affected. Vincent was apparently thinking about the same thing, because he began to speak.

"There is a possibility that we are not affected the same way because we are anchored to flesh. Kadaj, Yazoo and Loz…are not stable physical entities."

"So…" Reno's voice was low. "What will happen to them if Jenova revives completely?"

"We'll disappear…" said Kadaj.

It was an answer that they suspected all too well, an answer they didn't want to hear, but it needed saying. Cloud gave his hand a squeeze, and he turned slightly to look at those brilliantly blue eyes. They spoke of a silent promise to protect him. Reno had reacted by tightening his grip on Yazoo's shoulders.

"Can't we do anything to stop that? I don't want Kadaj and Yazoo and Loz to disappear…" sniffed Yuffie.

"Well, there is only one answer, isn't there?" It was more of a statement than a question, and Cloud directed it to Sephiroth. The former general nodded grimly.

"To kill Jenova."

A/N: This is an unexpectedly short chapter, even for me. I'm leaving the following parts for the next chapter since it's more appropriate. I can't believe how long it's taken me to update…I'm so sorry! To all the reviewers whom I haven't managed to reply, sorry! Agh, this is what happens when your hostel has no Internet connection. Well, the mystery is finally revealed, and the next step is obvious. But with the risk and danger, will they be able to get through this alive? I sure hope they do! (Despite that I'm the authoress…)

Oh, and an announcement. I'm thinking of selling this fanfiction in a compiled book form. In the book version, there will be a number of changes, minor and major. Plot holes regarding Seph and Vince's relationship will be filled, and modifications will be done to certain parts of the story. I'm also looking to include some fanart by a few artists in the book. I'm seriously thinking about selling the story, so I hope you can offer feedback. Would you prefer to buy one complete compilation or separate installations (about 5 to 6 chapters to a book)? Would you buy it if I'm selling? Your opinion is greatly appreciated! Thanks!