(4 years after Loren's death)
He sat in his temporary home, a cave far from civilization. He stared at the ground, clothed in only his pants and boots. Did anything have meaning anymore? He clenched his fist. An image flashed through his mind, a girl with black hair smiling at him. He grasped his head as if in pain. The girl spoke. "Don't worry about me; I'll be fine."
His eyes flared.
"You are not…you are not fine…""Besides, even if I got hurt, you would protect me, right?"
"I was not able to…I could not…""I love you…"
He hunched over in his spot, still holding his head. His teeth gritted, something quickly flashed down his cheek. His voice cracked.
"I am sorry…"
There were more flashes on his cheek. The liquid fell to the floor, leaving dark spots in front of him. The man gave an anguished cry, howling at the ceiling for all he was worth.
'I could not save you…! I could not protect you…!'
After a time, he put the rest of his clothes on and traveled a now familiar path. At the side of the path a few miles later, near a closing fissure, stood the one thing he could not hold in his hands, the one thing he wanted the most. He stared at it, immediately feeling nostalgic. He touched the surface lightly.
"I am here…do you know that I am here?"
Of course, he received no answer.
"Do you hate me?"
Still he received no reply.
"Of course you do. I failed to keep my promise."
Nothing changed; he didn't expect it to. It wasn't as if it could magically be the way it was before. He looked away.
"Are you really gone…forever?"
As he stared at the ground, he felt a presence behind him.
"What do you want?"
He heard the presence step up next to him.
"You're not the only one who misses her, Sephiroth."
Sephiroth didn't look up.
"So you have come to see her. Considerate of you, Cloud."
"What, do you think we'd simply forgotten? You're an idiot if you think that."
He didn't reply. Cloud looked up.
"Vincent is coming, too. It's been a while."
Sephiroth felt another presence behind him after a few minutes of silence.
"Does it bother you to be called that? I will stop if you want me to."
"No, I am simply unused to it."
Vincent stepped up close to her.
Sephiroth inwardly flinched hearing her name, but he kept his face stoic. Furtively glancing at his father's face, he couldn't help but notice and feel somewhat irked that there was a saddened longing in his crimson orbs. 'He has no idea how much it hurts to see her and not be able to touch her.' Almost as if Vincent had heard, he turned to his son.
"You are not the only one who feels pain."
Sephiroth somewhat raised a silver eyebrow.
"How would you know what I feel?"
"I felt the same way with your mother. I can see it in your eyes…how much you miss her."
"…You do not know---"
"And I also can see that for some reason, you blame yourself for what has happened."
Sephiroth's eyes flared. His hand twitched for Masamune.
"You think you know so much?! I ought to---"
"And through your actions, you have confirmed what I said."
With his hand on the hilt of Masamune, he faltered in his actions. He released his grip on the sword, but his eyes still burned in anger. Simmering down, he turned away from Vincent and focused his gaze on Loren.
"Had you just learned of your own feelings when Lucrecia was taken from you? Were you 'alive' when she left?"
"With your first question, no, I had known my own heart for quite some time. With your second question, I was quite alive when she left my arms. Hojo took her and proceeded with his twisted science and there was nothing I could do to stop it."
"Then do not speak of my pain as if you know."
"I would not figure you the type to feel pain in such a way, Sephiroth."
The silver-haired man lowered his head. He gave a wan smile.
"How correct you are. She changed me. I am assuming that since it is an emotional change it is ill boding for me. I might become weak."
Cloud shook his head.
"No, it isn't having emotions that makes you weak. It was your lack of it. The manifestation of your darkness that Kadaj created was devoid of feeling, except for perhaps the desire for suffering. The manifestation didn't know what it was to love or to even care. All it wanted was a barren world to use as a method of transport. The feelings you have experienced make you stronger. One: you know what to expect and two: they can give you a boost of strength if they are ever in danger."
Sephiroth restrained it as best he could, but he visibly flinched a little. Cloud nodded a bit.
"So Vincent's right. You do blame yourself."
Sephiroth curled his lip.
"So what if I do?! What difference does it make, Cloud? I cannot change the way I feel."
The blonde shook his head.
"You can't blame yourself for everything that happens. It wasn't your fault she died."
"Do not say that."
Sephiroth set his eyes on Cloud. The younger man almost took a step back. Sephiroth's sea-green pools were swirling, making it seem as if the man's eyes were on fire.
"Do not say that she is dead."
"It's been ten years…!"
"That does not mean anything."
The exasperated blonde struck Sephiroth's forehead with his palm. The general stumbled backwards a step in surprise.
"Sephiroth, get it through your head! She's not coming back; she's gone, dead! There's nothing you can do about it."
Vincent grabbed Cloud's wrist lightly, shaking his head.
"That's enough, Strife."
Frowning slightly, Cloud took a few steps back and looked at Loren. She looked so…empty. She didn't look to be at peace, nor did she seem angry or sad. Her face had taken an unusual form of balance, and yet something seemed to be crying out to him, pleading to be let free. Cloud tried to shake off the feeling, but it only seemed to be getting stronger. A wind that sounded like a sigh was enveloping his mind.
He shook his head, his attempt ineffective. What was going on?
The question was barely whispered, but it didn't miss Sephiroth's hearing. He fixed his gaze on the blonde again. Cloud's eyes were beginning to glaze over as he stared intently at Loren. A scream pierced Cloud's thoughts suddenly. Clutching his head in pain, he fell to his knees. As he shook his head fiercely and the screaming continued, he himself began to scream. Vincent had a hold of his shoulders, calling him. Sephiroth had Vincent step aside and he clutched Cloud's forehead with a bare hand. The scream entered his mind. It tore at his mind, making his hand shake and sweat bead on his brow. 'No wonder Cloud is screaming along with it.' He felt Cloud fall unconscious beneath his hand. He lowered the blonde to the ground and heard the scream die with Cloud's passing out. He looked up at Loren's form, as still as ever. 'Was that you? What is going on, Loren?' 'This still does not prove anything. The voice was probably an emission of the crystal she is in. It could be projecting her memories and nothing more. Hmph, I imagine that even if I had the courage to slice the crystal, the moment she hits air, she would probably decay.' He growled to himself. Indeed, he had not the courage to destroy the crystal and grab the contents inside. He didn't want to know what would happen. He didn't want to see her crumble to dust before his eyes. Vincent fixed his dark gaze on Sephiroth.
"What happened, Sephiroth?"
Sephiroth shook his head.
"Something was screaming in Cloud's head. Nothing to be worried about."
"Nothing to be worried about? Cloud just passed out after screaming incessantly. It would seem that there would be something to be worried about."
"It was a scream, that is all."
Vincent looked down at Cloud.
"Scream? Whose was it?"
"I would not know."
"I am not lying. If you cannot take my word for it, then leave me be."
"It was hers, wasn't it? The scream seemed to have started while Cloud was looking at her."
"I would not know."
Shaking his head in silent frustration, Vincent grabbed the unconscious Cloud and threw him over his shoulder, nearly cutting himself with Ultima Blade strapped to Cloud's back. Still doubting Sephiroth on his knowledge of the scream, he decided to try and squeeze the information out later after taking Cloud back to his house.
"Sephiroth, do as Cloud says. Don't blame yourself. You would never blame yourself for anything. Why blame yourself now for something that was not your fault?"
Sephiroth clenched his fist and wheeled around to glare ruthlessly at Vincent. The gunman didn't flinch.
"You just do not get it, do you? I said I would protect her and save her if she ever got hurt. She is dead now. I obviously did not do my job. I could not save her when she needed to be saved!"
"You couldn't have saved her even if you tried. Nobody could have. She won't hate you for something you had no control over."
Sephiroth closed his eyes and turned away.
"I will not discuss this anymore. Leave me be."
Vincent moved to persist, but thought better of it when he saw that Sephiroth was no longer in a talking mood. He simply stood there for a while, thinking, but Sephiroth quickly snapped him out of it.
"Leave already. I wish to be alone."
Giving up for the time being, Vincent simply nodded and walked away with Cloud in tow. Now left to his own devices, Sephiroth inspected Loren closely. Nothing at all had changed, but he knew without a doubt that that scream was from her. 'Maybe she really is alive…but should I not kill her? She sounds like she is in pain. I can end it for her…but…what if her afterlife is filled with those memories? No, I cannot. I…cannot.' Sephiroth turned from her and started to walk away when he paused. He looked back at her, a melancholy washing over him again. He sighed in frustration and walked back to her. He gazed at the captive for a while and after shaking his head slowly, trying to rid himself of such worthless emotions, he put his back to the crystal and sat, pondering. 'Perhaps I should…then I could end everything…no! What am I thinking? Agh, even in death, she will drive me to insanity! She has already driven me to it once…no one can know of that incident…I had to burn the body…so much blood…heh, as if I am not used to it. At least Masamune was singing. A beautiful melody…a bittersweet melody…just for me…the darkness is so complete…I want to do it again…and again…until there is no more blood to shed…until there are no more tears to shed…until there is nothing more than the darkness…if I could, I would spill her blood…just to make it go away…no…I cannot…that would be pure madness…but…is that not what she will lead me to? Yes, dear insanity…welcome me once more…as I purge my body of tears…as I rid the planet of another useless human…yes…' A grim smile on his face, his eyes glowing even more than usual, he set out to find a lone figure, any lone figure, that would see to his needs…that would satisfy his thirst…to satisfy his insanity…Masamune's holy light dimmed and a new light took its place; the only thing that could sate Masamune's thirst now was blood, and that was exactly what Sephiroth went to find.
A/N: Uh oh, Sephy's lost it. Helloes, my loverly readers! Yay for the first chapter of the sequel! It's kinda dark, I know, kinda crazy, but that's what I was aiming for (I think.). Tell me what you guys think in your reviews. They are like 100 karat gold to me and I would so love to have them…(hearts). Please review, loveliest readers on the planet!