By Ookami Kasumi
Rated M - Yaoi content, adult language, mild violence
FFVII - After AC
Sephiroth / Vincent
All characters © Square Enix
Vincent stepped from the elevator onto the unmarked twenty-fourth floor and blew out a breath. Even after six months, he still wasn't used to being at ShinRa Power and Electric as one the dark suited Turks.
It still felt strange wearing ordinary clothes, though his dress shirts, vests, and suit jackets had all been carefully tailored to conceal his non-visible wings. He'd also been given a long trench coat with carefully disguised and strategically placed open side seams.
It had taken him weeks to learn how to knot his red tie properly.
He was somewhat used to having his long black hair combed back and neatly trimmed. Short hair would not have hidden his pointed ears. The typical ShinRa dark sunglasses disguised his scarlet eyes rather well. He still wore a red cloth around his brow, but it was a far slimmer and neater version that was worn under his hair, rather than over it. His armored glove was back at his apartment. It wouldn't fit under his suit. He'd had to settle for simple black leather.
The whole ensemble wasn't actually uncomfortable, but it was galling to be so…exposed. His tailor knew exactly what his body looked like. He had an apartment, a bank account, bills… He'd been forced to join society at large. He even had a car, a modest sedan.
He was far less noticeable among the general public, the average person barely looked his way. However, every single one of the Turks not only knew what he was, but pretty much everything he was capable of.
Oddly, his differences hadn't made him an outcast, though absolutely no one liked being assigned as his partner. He was far too good at what he did. They simply could not compete on his skill level.
Tseng, his immediate superior, was positively thrilled with his ability to infiltrate just about any place he cared to send Vincent. Not to mention that he was invaluable during interrogations. All he had to do was remove his glasses to show his scarlet eyes, and smile showing his long teeth, and whoever they had in the chair would start spilling everything they knew.
The only thing Vincent had real problems with was working the day shift. He was a night creature by nature. Unfortunately he didn't have a choice. Rufus worked days, not nights. When he went outside during daylight hours, he'd been forced to wear a fairly broad-brimmed black fedora hat to keep his neck from getting sun-burned in seconds.
To Tseng's complete chagrin, sitting still, whether it was in a car or at a desk, would put him to sleep in a matter of minutes. He'd been forced to voice-record any reports that couldn't wait until after sunset.
Rufus was still a total and complete bastard to work under, but apparently he'd meant what he said to Cloud almost a year ago, about ShinRa Corp. making up for very nearly causing the world's destruction. There was no mistaking that he was out for profit, but the wars he fought were in boardrooms with lawyers, not on battlefields with monsters.
The SOLDIER program no longer existed. Instead, there was a veritable army of Turks.
Vincent sighed. He still hadn't told Cloud he was working for ShinRa. Thank the powers that he was known for his long disappearances, so Cloud hadn't come looking for him. According to Seph, he should be done cohabitating with Rufus sometime very soon, so perhaps Vincent wouldn't have to.
Vincent nodded to Rufus's secretary and approached the office door.
Rude stood by the office door in his neatly pressed midnight blue suit and usual dark sunglasses. He turned and gave Vincent a slight nod.
Tall, slender, Reno, leaned against the wall on the far side of the doorway with his unruly scarlet hair pulled back into its customary tail. His zipper suit was rumpled with the white shirt hanging out and barely buttoned. There was no trace of a tie. His arms were folded across his narrow chest and he glared at Vincent with pure vitriolic hate.
Vincent gave him a slight smile. Poor Reno… He was not happy with Sephiroth living in his lover's body. Apparently the deal was, if Rufus played with Reno, Seph was allowed to play too. However, with Rufus, and Reno painfully jealous when it came to each other, no one had touched anyone – for the past six months.
Vincent snorted. Just as well. He had no interest in letting Rufus anywhere near him. He opened the door and walked into Rufus's spacious black, white, and gray office.
Leaning up against the black ultra-modern desk with his arms crossed was a pale graceful youth in a black turtleneck and black jeans. His eyes were a striking emerald green and his snow-white hair tumbled over his shoulders to very nearly his waist. He was only a head shorter than Vincent and painfully beautiful.
Vincent blinked. He knew that boy. He'd seen him before…somewhere.
The youth stepped forward and smiled. "Well, what do you think?" The voice was surprisingly deep for someone so young and the expression was unmistakable.
Vincent stared. Holy shit! "Seph?"
The boy's grin broadened. "Yep!" He held out his slender arms and turned all the way around, showing off his willowy form. "How do I look?"
Vincent swallowed hard. "I think you look amazingly…familiar."
"I should." The youth smiled. "This is a clone developed from one of Hojo's early blood samples."
Vincent felt the small hairs lift on the back of his neck. "Your early blood samples had active Jenova-taint."
Rufus stood up from his desk chair setting down his handful of papers. His white silk suit and gold tie shimmered slightly with his movements. "The clone was subjected to a bath consisting of the water used to cure the geostigma, rendering the Jenova strain inert." He smiled tightly. "I made sure of it myself."
The youthful Sephiroth smiled tightly. "Uncle Rufus doesn't want a repeat of my last performance any more than I do."
Vincent's brows lifted. "Uncle Rufus?"
Rufus lifted a shoulder and very casually turned to look out the window behind his desk. "Someone has to care for him while he's young."
Care for him…? Vincent stared while something twisted in the region of his heart. But…?
But Rufus was right. Someone did have to care for the youthful Sephiroth. Someone had to provide a home, food, clothes…a life. Vincent released a soft breath. He simply…couldn't. He lived in the small apartment directly below Rufus, but it was merely a place to sleep, shower, and store his suits. He didn't eat human food. He had no clue how to provide for a…a boy. "I see."
Sephiroth's smile slipped into something far chillier and far more determined. "Rufus and I have come to an agreement. I will be his role-model ward, and he'll see that I have everything I need to be ready for…the future."
Vincent lifted his gaze toward Rufus. "Then you know?"
"About Jenova haunting the life-stream?" Rufus took in a deep breath and released it. "Actually, I rather wish I didn't." A tight smile lifted the corner of his mouth. "I told Cloud that ShinRa intended to atone for its past transgressions." He snorted. "However, I didn't expect to fulfill that statement quite so literally." He nodded toward Sephiroth.
Vincent's mouth tightened. ShinRa had once again created Sephiroth. Hopefully this time ShinRa would help him become the world's hero instead of its villain. "Poetic justice, perhaps?"
Sephiroth smiled tightly. "I'd say it was far closer to divine justice."
Rufus cleared his throat and nodded toward the silver-haired youth. "So, do you approve of your new body, Seph?"
Sephiroth nodded gravely. "I do. Thank you."
Vincent tilted his head toward the blond boy. "How did you make a fourteen-year-old clone in six months?" He frowned. "And how did you make the transfer?"
Sephiroth folded his arms and snorted. "The body is seventeen. It merely looks young." He smiled. "The transfer was a simple kiss." He shot a narrow glance toward Rufus. "I wasn't sealed in materia crystal this time, so passing from one body to the other posed no difficulty whatsoever."
Rufus nodded at Vincent. "The lab I used had one of the newer model cloning tanks, though they're used for actual medical purposes these days, rather than experimentation." He smiled at Sephiroth. "And I stopped the clone's process at sixteen."
Sephiroth scowled. "Sixteen…?"
Rufus's smile sharpened. "You said you wanted to have plenty of time to train, correct? I figured that it couldn't hurt to improve your social skills at the same time."
Sephiroth frowned. "My social skills…?"
Rufus turned around and leaned back against the window frame. He crossed his arms. "You need peers, companions, friends. The best way to obtain those is by attending school."
Sephiroth's small hands fisted at his sides. "I do not need an education. I was thoroughly tutored!"
Rufus nodded gravely. "Yes, and that tutoring did nothing but isolate you from the rest of humanity." He lifted his chin and delivered a cool smile. "Three years of high school and a few more of college should do you a world of good."
Sephiroth was going to go to high school? Vincent's mind boggled.
Sephiroth's mouth fell open. "You're sending me to school?" The pitch of his voice rose. Apparently his mind was boggled too.
Rufus straightened and folded his hands behind him. "There is no better way to discover the true character of those who will share your future than by observing them in their youth, before they learn to hide it."
Sephiroth took a deep breath and tucked his chin. "A valid point."
Rufus nodded. "I think you will make a most excellent addition to the ShinRa corporation."
Sephiroth snorted. "I should warn you, I truly abhor paperwork."
Rufus rolled his eyes. "Don't we all?" He smiled. "But then, that's what secretaries are for."
Vincent stepped forward, drawing Sephiroth's attention, and Rufus's. "You're going to have to control that temper of yours while you're around all those children."
Sephiroth rolled his eyes. "I suppose I will have to refrain from setting them on fire."
Rufus's brows lifted. "You still have magical capability?"
Sephiroth snorted and lifted a graceful brow. "Of course. The talent rides with the soul, but it was also inherent with the body, even before Hojo's…additions."
The far door slammed open revealing Reno in the doorway, his eyes wide staring hard at Rufus. "Is it true? Is it over?" He stalked in, striding right past Sephiroth.
Rude, right on his partner's heels, stopped just inside the doorway staring at Sephiroth. His black brows lifted over his sunglasses.
Rufus focused hotly on Reno and smiled. "Yes, it's over."
Reno leaped straight up into the air and whooped. "Hot damn!" He shot a thoroughly lascivious grin at Rufus. "When?"
Rufus moved to his desk and lifted a paper. "As soon as I finish this meeting." He turned and looked over at Sephiroth.
Reno froze, made a sharp about-face, and stared at the silver-haired youth. His red brows lifted over his moss green eyes, and his Cupid's bow lips parted. "Oh, the pipsqueak's already walking around?"
"Yes." Sephiroth's smile thinned. "And the pipsqueak's hearing is in excellent condition."
The red-head grinned and nodded. "Great! Wow…" He strode all the way around Sephiroth, quite obviously keeping his distance from Vincent. "Damn, you make a cute kid."
Rufus cleared his throat. "He's sixteen, Reno. That's two years too young to play with you."
Vincent blinked. Sephiroth was a minor. A chuckle bubbled up and escaped.
Sephiroth turned sharply to frown at Vincent.
Reno turned and stuck out his bottom lip at Rufus. "Get your mind out of the gutter, Boss." He folded his arms across his chest. "I don't do kids."
Vincent smiled down at Sephiroth and mouthed silently, Neither do I.
Sephiroth curled his lip in a scowl that was absolutely adorable. "We'll just see about that."
Vincent snorted. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm currently larger than you and far stronger. If you try anything that I don't approve of…" He smiled. "I'll give you a spanking."
Sephiroth's hands fisted at his sides and his mouth fell open. "You wouldn't dare!"
Vincent lifted his chin and his smile broadened showing his long teeth. "Try me." He lifted his gaze to Rufus. "ShinRa, you have my personal cell phone number, correct?" He looked down at Sephiroth. "Just in case."
Rufus lifted a hand to cover his mouth. He coughed and his cheeks flagged with red. "Oh, why, yes I do."
Reno laughed out loud. "Oh damn! Looks like you better be good or Uncle Vincent's gonna give you a whupping!"
Sephiroth leveled a glare at Reno. "You do realize that since you are not a child, there's no reason I can't set you on fire?"
Reno very casually stepped back. "Somebody needs to learn to play nice."
Rufus coughed again and cleared his throat for good measure. "Seph, please don't set the employees on fire." He smiled. "You're going to need them, at the very least for sparing practice."
Sephiroth pursed his lips and nodded. "Point taken."
Reno turned to frown at Rufus. "Huh?"
Rufus strode over to his desk and sat on the corner. "Reno, does have his occasional uses. Try not to break him beyond repair."
Sephiroth grinned. "I'll do my best to leave him in one piece."
"Wait a minute…" Reno frowned. "Are you saying that this skinny brat can kick my ass?"
Rude snorted from his position at the doorway. "Yes."
A rather heated exchange broke out after that.
A smile curving his lips, Vincent stepped back and silently left the office. At the end of the hall he punched the elevator call. Rufus ShinRa was certainly going to have his hands full with his new charge, but it was truly possible that Sephiroth, the great and terrible might actually have a better life this time around, and a better future.
His mission was done. He was free. All he had left to do was hand Tseng his formal resignation.
The office door slammed open behind him. "Vincent!"
The pale youthful Sephiroth marched toward him, his mouth tight and his emerald eyes blazing. "Where are you going?"
Vincent's brows lifted. "I'm leaving."
"What?" Sephiroth's slender body trembled. "Why?" His voice was breathless and a damp shimmer appeared in his eyes.
Vincent shrugged. "You have what you wanted, a new body, and a new life to go with it."
Sephiroth lifted his chin and crossed his arms. "So?"
Vincent smiled while his pounding heart bled with every beat. "You don't need me any more."
Sephiroth scowled ferociously. "Bullshit." A tear slid down his cheek.
Vincent's heart twisted hard. "Oh hell…" He strode for the youth and wrapped him in a hug. He winced. The terror of the entire planet felt so damned fragile in his arms.
Sephiroth's hands fisted in Vincent's coat. "You can't leave."
Vincent pressed a kiss to the top of the youth's head. "I have no reason to stay."
Sephiroth sniffed against Vincent's coat lapel. "Yes you do. You're my bodyguard."
Vincent swallowed. "You have all of ShinRa…"
The youth's hands tightened in his coat, tugging on it. "I want you!"
Vincent's eyes burned. He was suddenly glad that that Sephiroth's face was buried in his coat. He took a breath to keep his voice even. "You'll be busy with school and…other things." Peers, companions, friends…
"So? That's only some of the daylight hours. You can work during those hours and spend the rest of your time with me, even if it's just playing stupid video games."
Vincent rolled his eyes. Oh gee, thanks… "Seph…"
Sephiroth leaned back and glared up at Vincent. "I can get Rufus to make you stay."
Vincent's bared his teeth and backed away. "Don't…!"
Sephiroth folded his arms across his slender chest and curled his lip. His determined expression was far too mature for his youthful face, and clearly showed the man he would be. "Then don't make me."
Vincent scowled down at him. "Haven't I done enough for him?"
"It's not for him, it's for me." Sephiroth scraped a hand against his damp cheek. "You can't leave me, Vincent." His green gaze narrowed to slits. "You belong with me. My body may be new, but how I feel has not changed." He pointed a slender finger at Vincent. "You will never escape me. Never!"
Vincent groaned. "What the hell did I do to deserve this?
Sephiroth grabbed onto Vincent's coat. "Swear to me that you'll stay." His voice was deep and determined, but his gaze shifted back and forth with clear uncertainty. "I can't…" He took a deep breath and then whispered very softly. "I can't do this without you."
Vincent's heart very quietly shattered in his chest. He closed his eyes. His throat was so tight all that came out was a whisper. "I'll stay."
Sephiroth sighed deeply. "Good." He lifted his chin and grinned up at Vincent. "Now, kiss me."
Vincent sighed then smiled. "I will, in two years."
Sephiroth's mouth fell open. "What?"
Vincent set his hands on Sephiroth's slender shoulders. "In two years you'll be eighteen and old enough to kiss."
The youth stomped his foot. "That is not fair!"
Vincent chuckled. He couldn't help it. Immaturity was catching up to Sephiroth very quickly. "Actually it's very fair. If you're going to make me keep working for ShinRa, you're going to have to wait until you're no longer a minor before you get a kiss."
Sephiroth growled, a low liquid rumbling in his chest. "You will pay for that." He grabbed Vincent around the waist and hugged him.
Vincent snorted and rolled his eyes. "I'm already paying for it." He closed his arms around the slender youth and sighed deeply. Life was certainly going to be interesting with Sephiroth back among the living.
Cloud was going to have a heart-attack.
Dear ladies and gentlemen, readers and fellow writers…
Thank you for reading my story. I hope you enjoyed my interpretation of the FFVII world. I do not own the rights to these characters, places, or events mentioned. If you feel inspired by my tale, by all means, feel free to continue it under your own names with your own titles. I would be honored to have my story be your source for inspiration. All I ask is that you not copy my work word for word.
This story is now yours. Do with it what you will.
-- Ookami Kasumi / Nov 06 --