Kingdom Hearts II
Notes: The characters are not mine,
and the story is! Please note that the title is not supposed to be
fangirly squealing; it's part of an attack Sephiroth uses, and I felt it fit here. Also, this
does not follow my timeline with the addition of I Don't Feel
Enough For You to Cry. It is an idea that would not go away, and
so I've determined that it deviates from that timeline. However, it
will fit as an alternate story that takes place sometime after The
Darkness Will Rise From the Deep. It's written in a style a bit
different from my usual fare, but somehow, for this piece, I feel it
looks good that way. I know it doesn't quite seem to make sense, but
I hope the readers will enjoy it as much as I have.
I killed you.
I don't know why it upsets me so much. You were my enemy; I hated you. My goal had been to permanently defeat you. Maybe that was only when I was fully convinced that you were a part of me. In that case, I didn't really think I'd be harming another person. I thought that defeating you would mean that I'd conquered my inner darkness, even though you did put doubts in my heart by telling me otherwise. That didn't stop me from having that last battle with you. I guess it should have made me be more careful.
When I saw your mortally injured body, and I knew that it was because of me that you were dying, I felt sick. If you were really only a piece of my own heart and soul, you wouldn't have been reduced to this, would you? Wouldn't you have instead just gone back to my heart, uninjured but overpowered? I wondered why I'd been so stupid. Had I decided I'd find out if what you'd said before was true, by winning a fight against you? Had I ever stopped to think of what the consequences might be if you really were your own person? I couldn't have, or I wouldn't have acted so impulsively . . . would I?
I knelt down beside you. You looked up at me, your eyes glazed over and filled with pain as you clutched the deep wounds I'd inflicted with my buster sword. This wasn't like the other times when I'd defeated you. Then, you'd simply teleported out again, and I wouldn't see you for some time. You'd been hurt, but it never seemed to affect you much. Of course, you'd never been injured to this extent.
I didn't even know what to say. I just sat there, my stomach twisting as I watched you struggle to get up. Instead you fell back, gasping, and I found myself catching you.
Your breathing was choked and pained by that time, and you gave a weak smirk as you started to succumb to the effects of the wounds. But you struggled to speak again. "So, Cloud . . . is this what you wanted?"
I couldn't have replied. I didn't know the answer. I still don't. I could only watch in confusion and shock as your eyes closed and your body just faded away, in my arms. But your blood on my hands didn't fade. I just stared at it for a while before I struggled to get up and leave. I'd been hurt in the fight, too, but it wasn't that serious. I didn't even really stop to think about it then. I was just too dazed to bother.
Tifa knows something is wrong with me; she knows I've never been the same since that fight. I don't think she knows why. I've never told her, or Aerith. I wouldn't know what to say. "Yeah, I finally killed my worst enemy, but now I don't know that I really wanted him to die." It just sounds messed up. So I've come back to the blue canyons to think. I've been doing that a lot since then.
You just had to make me doubt what you were, didn't you? That other time we recently battled, when you tested me with that illusion to see what I'd do out of hatred. . . . That was the first time I'd ever considered that maybe you were something other than my own darkness. It was so much simpler when I thought of you that way. But you always liked making me confused, didn't you? You probably wanted to leave me with all these questions and doubts. You'd probably consider that a triumph.
"I don't find many people willing to venture out in this cold."
I look up with a start. A stranger is standing in front of me, a tall man wearing a black cloak and a hood. I can't see any of his features. I never heard him walk up, either. Where did he come from so suddenly?
I give him a suspicious glare. "That goes both ways," I retort. Subconsciously I reach for my buster sword.
He chuckles in a low tone, seeming to be amused by this. "I'm just out for a walk. I'm not planning to rob you."
Maybe so, but I'm not willing to let down my guard. I keep watching him as he comes closer.
"I've never seen you around here," I tell him. "Do you live in Hollow Bastion?"
"I wouldn't say I live anywhere, particularly," he says. I can tell he's eyeing my sword.
"It must be inconvenient, to carry that around with you," he comments, indicating the oversized weapon. "Are you a swordsman for hire?"
I shrug noncommitally. "I used to be. I mostly just stay here in Hollow Bastion now." I don't know why I bothered to add that part.
He nods thoughtfully. "Do you like it here?"
I don't know why, but I take it to mean, Do you like the canyons. "Not really." I glare down at the blue rock. "But coming here makes it easier to think." There's usually no one around, and whatever I'm thinking overwhelms me in the quiet, but I'm not going to say that. He doesn't need to know.
"You're upset about something." It's a statement, not a question. Suddenly I'm annoyed.
"So what?" I snap, looking up at him. "It's not any of your business!"
"I doubt it's anyone's business, from your point of view," he answers smoothly. "But it doesn't seem like you're finding any answers from coming here and thinking. I've observed you several times."
"Oh great. So you've been spying on me."
"I've just seen you when I've been on my walks."
I don't believe him, but I don't really care right now. He doesn't seem like a threat, just an irritation. I turn, looking out at the skyline of Hollow Bastion in the distance. "I'll never get answers," I say flatly. "The one who knows them is dead. And he wouldn't tell me even if he wasn't."
"I see. He's dead? How did that happen?"
"Because I killed him!" I turn back to him angrily. "He was my enemy. There, is that what you wanted to know?"
He seems unfazed. "You're upset over killing your nemesis?"
"Of course not!" I clench a fist tightly. "I wanted him dead. I've wanted for ages to just be rid of him. And now I am." I turn away again. I don't want to talk about this! What right does he have, to come quizzing me about what happened? And he sounds like he has this exasperating idea that he knows what's going on in my head. How could he, a stranger, know it when I don't even know?
"And yet all you can talk about is not learning something that he apparently knew." He crosses his arms, standing near me.
"Is that your favorite expression?" He keeps on talking, apparently not really wanting an answer to that part. He acts like he knows exactly where he's going with things. I know I don't. I'm not sure I want to know, either. Crazy guy.
"Maybe you didn't want him dead?" He turns, looking down at me. "You don't seem like the kind of person who would just kill out of hatred."
Yeah, right. "You don't even know me! Obviously I'm that kind of person, because it happened! And if I did want him alive, it would only be because of whatever he knew that he wouldn't tell me." If it wasn't for that, it wouldn't matter to me at all whether you were dead or alive, or whether I'd done it!
"Maybe it was an accident, or maybe you never really thought that you'd actually kill him." He keeps looking at me. "I don't think you're the kind of person who would honestly want to eliminate anyone, even a sworn enemy."
I snort in derision. How trusting is this guy? "Yeah, you can say that." I look down at my buster sword. "I've hired out as an assassin before."
"But you didn't complete the job, did you?"
Okay, now that's just weird. I start, turning my gaze back to him. It's true, even though Hades hired me to kill Hercules, I ended up not going through with it. I think it was probably because Sora, whom I had to fight first, softened my heart. I couldn't kill him, either. But how does this guy know?
He seems to know what I'm thinking. Well, I probably look so shocked that it would be impossible not to realize. "I was at the Olympus Coliseum that day," he says calmly, "in the audience."
That should explain it, and yet I'm not convinced. I frown at him. "Okay, so you were there. But I didn't have any personal grudge against those people. I didn't have any reason to want them dead, so I just didn't do it. It's different with Sephiroth."
"Sephiroth?" he repeats easily. "How did you end up enemies with him?"
Oh yeah, what do I say to that? "Well, you see, it's like this---I got it in my head that he was the darkness in my heart, and I thought I had to beat him to conquer my inner darkness." That'd go over well. It sounds nuts. "We've just . . . never seen eye to eye." That sounds lame. Even though it's true.
"Did you battle him often?"
I nod slowly. "For several years, actually."
"You must have become a stronger fighter during that time."
"Yeah . . . I guess."
I'm not expecting to hear a sword being unsheathed. I look up in shock as he draws out a katana in front of him and holds it up. "Then show me what you've learned," he says now.
The katana really startles me at first. But what am I thinking? This is just a normal sword. It's not insanely long or familiar in the least. It isn't the Masamune. And this isn't you. He's a stranger who suddenly wants to fight me.
I reach for the hilt of the buster sword, gripping it tightly as I get up. Why should I even agree to this? I don't back down from being challenged, but I don't usually just battle people I've only met a few minutes earlier. I'm not a swordsman for sport. But for some reason, I want to fight now.
He lunges at me, and I move to meet his blade. The swords crash, and we each strain to throw the other back. It's . . . invigorating, somehow, and a relief. Maybe it's the way I'm letting out my anger and frustration and confusion over what happened to you. I haven't really had any chance to do that. I've kept it inside.
Now he manages to get the upper hand, causing me to stumble backwards. He charges again, his katana held high as he brings it down towards me. I raise the buster sword in time, forcing him away. I move forward, attacking again. He keeps a steady pace with me as we move across the surface of the rock.
He leans forward as our swords meet again. "Is this the best you can do?" he asks in a half-taunting voice. It's so familiar, too familiar . . . as is his fighting style. I recognize it. I should, after all these years. And he's left-handed. . . . But it's impossible! It can't be true. I'm letting my mind play tricks on me. You've fought others. Maybe this is someone who picked up your style. That makes more sense than the alternative.
I push him back, swiftly lunging again.
We fight for a long time, and though I'm doing better than I thought I would, I can tell that he's going to win . . . whoever he is. But I keep on, attacking with all of my heart and soul. I'm not going to give up.
Sephiroth! Why did you smirk at me when you were dying? Did you know that I was going to discover that I didn't want you dead? Did you want to leave me in such a confused muddle? What happened to you? Why did your body fade away? Where did it go? And who am I fighting? What connection did he have to you?
This battle ends in a draw. We both fall back, winded, looking at each other. I still can't see any of his features. He starts to put away his sword. "Not bad," he muses. "Not bad, but there's always room for improvement." He pauses, seeming thoughtful again. "You're expressing your feelings through your sword. You're using them to drive you, but you're not letting them control you. That's good."
I let the buster sword rest on the ground as I lean on it. "Who are you?" I demand.
He's silent for a moment. "Don't you know, Cloud?" he replies. Then he's gone, having vanished through some kind of a portal as if he was never here to begin with.
I never told him my name.
Something flutters to the ground in his wake. I go over, frowning as I bend down to it. My eyes widen. No . . . it can't be.
He is walking past the lowest of the canyons now, right near the town. He does not speak, and to any who see him, he appears to be a wanderer. He keeps the cloak around his shoulders and the hood over his face. At his side, he places a hand on the hilt of his sheathed sword. His mind is occupied with thoughts of what has just happened.
Cloud has gotten better during this time. It impresses him. Of course, the blonde is still bewildered, and using his anger and sarcasm as a defense mechanism, but that's alright. He knows what he needs to know. He'll just have to stay perplexed about the rest. This has not been their last meeting.
He stops, turning slightly at the sound of the young woman's voice. Tifa is running to catch up to him, her dark hair flying out behind her. He watches her in silence until she reaches him. Why does she want to talk to him? He has nothing to say to her.
"What makes you think I'm Sephiroth?" he asks.
She crosses her arms. "I saw some of your battle with Cloud," she replies quietly. "You're the only one who could have brought him out of his anger right now. I didn't know what to do for him." She studies him. "You're alive, aren't you?"
He grunts, relaxing his hold on the katana. "Could a dead man fight with a living man?"
She looks slightly amused. "I guess not. But I have one other question." She comes to stand in front of him, trying in vain to see past the dark shadows of his hood. "Why didn't you tell him?"
He looks at her for a moment. "The way I did things worked best." He starts to walk around her, intending to leave. Cloud knows the truth, and if he does not, he is simply denying it.
She watches him go, a thoughtful look in her eyes. "I used to think that you were completely heartless," she says quietly. "Maybe it's what you've wanted people to think, for some reason. But I don't believe it now." She pauses, studying him as she nods slowly to herself. "I don't know anymore who you are, or what your motives are, but you've helped Cloud tonight. I have to thank you for that."
He stops, digesting her words. Then he continues to walk away, not giving her a reply.