Love Me Like I'm Human

Summary: (Because no bad guy was born that way.) They would have to start from scratch, for the first time. Her goal was set: to teach Sephiroth how to love. When the time comes for that love to be tested, will he have enough of a heart to save her… to save his own mother?

Disclaimer: I own naught of FFVII, for it is owned by the one and only Square Enix.

A/N: Non-compliant with AC. In favour of postponing exam prep again, I came up with this little idea about Lucrecia and Sephiroth, wanting to explore the boundaries of the love they never shared, and hopefully this fic will do that some justice. Rated T.


Chapter One

Dear Planet...

Heed my plea... give me one last chance to salvage the broken remains that is my son's spirit...

His life lacked the love every child deserves to have... he doesn't know that someone still thinks of him very dearly...

So let us reunite... let us start over...

Please, dear Planet, I beg of you...

Heed this pitiful mother's plea, and take me back to my son...

Somewhere on the land of Gaia, a sparkling tear trailed down the cold cheek of a woman encased within crystallized Mako, and one less scream from the cries of the damned was silenced.

xLxMxLxIxHx

That smell. It was almost... strange, yet enticingly familiar. What was it?

He raised his nose a little higher without completely lifting his head off... whatever it was that he was lying on, sniffing the air hesitantly. Whatever it was, it smelt good. Maybe it was worth investigating the source. Slowly, he pried open one eyelid, and in doing so sat up immediately.

Alien surroundings. Obviously it was a house or a cottage he was in; just a simple room, with basic furnishings. The walls and ceiling were plain and colourless, with a small open window off to the side, battered shutters swinging back and forth in the wind. Past the window he could see a dark brooding sky, stormy gray tinged with deep purple. Soft, pitter-patter sounds drummed somewhere outside on the roof, and as his face turned upward he felt an unwelcome drop of water slide down his cheek. It seemed that the place was in total disrepair, giving the impression that it had long been since abandoned.

Sliding off on what had turned out to be a bed, he proceeded to further inspect the room, pausing here and there, not daring to touch any of the things he came across, for they were all well coated in dust and he loathed to leave any telltale signs of disturbance. However, as he came to stand in front of a life-size mirror that was leaning on the side of a chest of drawers, he couldn't help but move closer to blow the dust off its cracked surface, inadvertently causing him to cough a little.

There staring solemnly back at him, was a young boy around the age of ten or eleven, with washed-out green eyes and pallid hair, dressed in an oversized shirt and dark pants. And then it struck him:

Who was he?

He didn't recognise himself. Was that a cause for concern? Taking at first a moment to absorb the sight of himself in the mirror, slowly did he reach forward with long, pale fingers, then froze.

Footsteps. Somebody was coming.

After a short pause, the boy whirled around and dived headfirst under the bed. No, it wasn't fear that drove him to do it; quick-thinking made him come to the conclusion that he wanted to have the upper hand in seeing who this person was before they saw him. The bed just happened to be the first good hiding spot that jumped to mind.

As the door creaked open, in came another waft of that smell. With bated breath he watched a pair of feet — very feminine feet — make their way carefully into the room, coming to a standstill right in front of him. A gasp sounded somewhere from up above the bed. He guessed that the person was a woman, though he couldn't be entirely sure; the person was standing a little too far to the left for him to catch their reflection in the mirror, and he didn't want to risk being spotted peeking out from under the bed.

He had to admit it though, his actions... they were kind of childish. But he was a kid, wasn't he?

Still lying there waiting, yet another wave of that smell hit his nostrils, and then he realised it for what it was: it was the smell of food. Loudly his stomach rumbled in accordance.

Oh no. Did the person hear that?

One second, two seconds, three seconds passed. It was okay. He wasn't heard. He was still—

The sudden appearance of a face only a hair's-breadth away from his own made him cease all thought. Surprised, he jumped and hit his head on the hard, wooden underside of the bed, and winced.

"Oh dear, I'm so sorry I scared you — are you okay?" The woman spoke in a soft, gentle voice. She reached an arm out towards him. Immediately he scrambled backwards, far away from the woman's hand. He didn't know why, but he didn't want to be touched. The woman had indeed scared him, albeit briefly, and the last thing he wanted to do was let her get near him.

"You... you don't want to come out?" She looked at him, almost pleadingly, hand still outstretched towards him. He merely stared at the offered hand, then up at her, with no response to give.

"I made breakfast for you."

Still he stared, and after what had seemed like almost an eternity, she silently withdrew her hand back, looking off to the side.

"Whenever you are ready, I will be waiting, and so will your food." And with that she was gone, leaving him huddled up underneath the bed. As soon as he thought it was safe, he brought his hand up to rub the sensitive lump that was forming over his head. Did she really have to just suddenly appear like that?

His stomach rumbled again. He was really hungry, but he was too stubborn to get out from under the bed. Breakfast or not, he didn't find the idea of sharing company an appealing one. He would much rather just be alone. The hunger could be suppressed. He didn't need food; he could live by on just his will to survive. Yes, he didn't need that woman... or the breakfast she made him... he was better... than that...

Slowly his head hit the bare, cold stone floor.

...He didn't need... any... one...

His eyes droop closed.

xLxMxLxIxHx

The hunger. It was too much... almost painful. With a low growl the boy woke up from his brief doze, and almost hit his head again, forgetting where he was. He sent dust particles into the air as he crawled out from under the bed, making himself sneeze. Resigned to finally giving in to his stomach's whims, he moved with measured steps, out through the door and into the short hallway. He passed two other rooms, a bathroom and another bedroom, slightly smaller than his. So that woman... she lived here too?

Feeling too ravenous to follow up on that thought, he eventually found himself at the end of the hallway, staring into a room that contained a small wooden table and two chairs, one of them occupied. On the table was a bowl, and next to it, a single spoon. Warily he moved forward and sat down on the other chair. The woman, whose gaze was previously fixed out through the window, turned its direction to him. She smiled.

"About time you came out. I was getting worried." He forced himself to repress a snort. Getting worried? What, for him? Silently he picked up the spoon and began to eat, refraining from simply just grabbing the bowl and shoving the whole lot down his throat. The food turned out to be porridge, and cold porridge at that. It didn't matter though; he could barely even taste it, he was eating it that fast. At some point near the end of finishing his late breakfast, he was beginning to sense the woman's eyes on him, and he had the feeling that they never left his form since the moment he seated himself opposite to her. It was making him edgy.

Deciding to make known his discomfort to her, he dropped his spoon with a loud clang and pointedly looked up into her face. Caught in the act of staring, the woman looked away guiltily, cheeks flushing a pale pink. She resumed looking out through the window, at the rain that was yet to stop, while he turned back to his food, no longer hungry. Instead he chose to discreetly study the woman and her features, all the while pretending to be immersed with his porridge.

Pretty. She was definitely pretty; a well defined brow, straight nose, slender neck. Not a blemish in sight. Most of her dark brown hair was tied back, fringe parted rather bizarrely to the sides, somewhat akin to his. At the base of her throat lied a white pearl necklace, complementing the similarly coloured blouse she wore. But what struck him the most was not the beauty she possessed, but rather how frail it made her seem, as if one slight touch would spontaneously shatter her into a million pieces.

"Are you full now?"

The boy was about to look up at her only to realise he already was; now it was her turn to catch him in the act of staring. Quickly he looked back down at his bowl, and found that while absentmindedly playing with his spoon, he had scooped most of the remains of his porridge over the side and onto the table. Oops.

"Don't worry about that, I'll clean it up." Wordlessly he watched her leave the table and head off into the kitchenette opposite the hallway, reappearing a short moment later with a damp cloth. Wiping away the mess he made, she dropped the cloth into the bowl, glanced at him, then reached for the tissue box near the edge of the table. As soon as he saw that hand coming towards his face, he leaned back far on his chair, giving her a weird look.

The woman frowned. "There's a bit of porridge on your cheek," she said. "If you will let me, I can wipe it off."

Just as the hand holding the tissue came for a second try, the boy turned his face away, still reluctant. It happened again, then several more times. He was almost beginning to enjoy playing this strange little game with her when she finally got him on the side of the face. He cringed as the hand attacked him with the tissue, rubbing away the crusty bit of food that was stuck to him. "There, all clean now."

Taking the bowl away, the woman was just about to leave the room again when he finally decided to speak up for the first time.

"Who are you?"

The woman paused in her steps, slowly turning around to meet his curious gaze.

There was a slight hesitation. "Miss Lucy... my name, is Miss Lucy."

"Who am I?"

Another short pause. "Seph."

"Is that it? Just... 'Seph'?"

"Yes." Before he could say anything more, she abruptly turned and left.

Seph... that was his name. Staring after the doorway in where the woman disappeared through, Seph wondered if she had anything to do with his lack of memories, of not being able to recall anything past the point before waking up that morning. Funnily enough, though, he wasn't sure if he even really wanted to know; a deep, subconscious feeling was telling him he was better off if he didn't ask.

For now, he would listen to that feeling, and question no more. For now.

xLxMxLxIxHx

In the kitchenette, Lucrecia rested Seph's bowl next to hers on the drying rack, turning to wipe her hands on a tea towel nearby. Judging from the silence coming from the other room, Seph was still mulling over her words. Or maybe not. The boy was quiet, way too quiet for her liking, and it was difficult to determine his thoughts from the deadpan expression on his face. It never changed. Did he even have the ability to feel anymore? For both of their sakes, she very much hoped so.

Miss Lucy... she rather liked the name she made up for herself. Surely it wasn't that much of a giveaway; as long as Seph didn't know either of their real, full names, or their relation to each other, then there would be less of a chance of him remembering his past life. He wasn't ready for that yet.

Walking back into the tiny dining room to see two empty chairs, Lucrecia started to panic. Where was he? She hurried to the front door and opened it to see if he went outside, but it was still pouring, and there were no tracks leading out from the door. With mounting alarm she rushed down the hallway, checking every room, until at last she found him by the doorway of his room, just standing there. He turned at the sound of her approach.

"Will I be sleeping in this room?" he asked.

She came to stand by his side, leaning heavily on the doorframe, relieved. "Yes," she replied, a little breathlessly.

"Well, the bed's wet."

Lucrecia glanced at the bed Seph previously slept in before, and saw the soaked stain on the sheets. She looked back at Seph, mouth half-open in preparation of berating him for not telling her sooner what he did but stopped when he pointed at the ceiling. "There's a leak up there."

She looked up. "Oh." Ignoring the dry look Seph was giving her as if he knew what she was thinking, she proceeded further into the room, eyes probing for the spot where the leak was coming from. Found it. Both she and Seph watched as a tiny droplet of water soundlessly made its downward descent, landing with a little splat onto the bed.

"Hmm."

This could be a problem. A biotechnologist she once was, however when it came to making repairs, she knew naught. "Seph, can you please come over here for a moment?"

He joined her by the bed. "Help me push the bed to the side, and then we'll sort out our little leak problem."

Placing both hands firmly on the side of the bed, Lucrecia leaned forward and looked to Seph to see if he was doing the same. He wasn't.

"Seph?" she prompted. Silence. Then, a strangled noise, like that of a half-grunt, half-sigh. Two more hands appeared next to hers.

"Okay, ready? One, two, three!" They pushed, and after a moment of resistance, the bed yielded to their efforts, sliding across the floor with a screech. Straightening back up again, Lucrecia pulled the damp bed sheets off, bunching it in her arms.

Heading for the hallway, she said to Seph as she went, "I'm just going to hang this to dry in the bathroom — do you think you could find a bucket around here somewhere while I'm at it? We need to stop the leak from making a puddle on the floor." When she came back with a new change of bed sheets, she found him to be in the same exact position as he was in several minutes ago.

Biting back a sigh, Lucrecia decided to play the act a little longer. "So, did you find the bucket?"

"No."

"Did you even try to find the bucket?"

Seph tilted his head to the side. "...Yes."

Okay, she would let him off the hook this time; the next time, on the other hand...

Dumping the fresh pile of bed sheets onto the bed, she strode back out of the room, returning shortly afterwards with the sorely needed item. To her surprise, the pile of linen she left behind had been smoothened out and fitted neatly around the bed, Seph sitting atop of it. Lowering the bucket directly underneath the leak, she smiled her appreciation at him.

Maybe there really was a chance for them to get closer, after all.

Noticing the open shutters blowing in the wind that were making quite a racket, Lucrecia made her way to the window and reached out to close them, briefly exposing herself to the rain. Gosh it was cold out there.

In from behind her, a long yawn sounded. Seph was tired already? Well, now that she thought on it, she was feeling rather worn-out herself. Moving towards the door, she turned back to see Seph watching her.

"I think it's time we should settle ourselves in for an early night, don't you agree?" He nodded.

Grasping the door handle, she murmured, "Good night, Seph," before pulling it shut behind her.

She didn't know if she got a response back.

xLxMxLxIxHx

It was midnight, it was dark, and in the small dwelling housed for two, terror seized Lucrecia's heart. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong.

Ripping the covers off her body, she raced out of the room and into the hallway. She could hear it: the earth-shattering screams mingling with the howling of the wind. Slamming Seph's bedroom door open, Lucrecia gasped as she took in the nightmarish sight before her.

"No—" The mirror that used to lie against the chest of drawers had fallen and smashed onto the floor, glittering pieces of glass lying everywhere. "No..." The shutters she had closed before were thrown wide back and swinging wildly on their hinges, letting the violent winds force their way into the small room, plaster peeling away at the walls. "No!" And in the midst of it all, there lied Sephiroth, her son, thrashing and writhing on the bed, screaming for all he was worth. The sound was so deafening Lucrecia had to cover her ears.

It was truly frightening. As she forced herself to step forward, Seph's eyes, which were wide open, suddenly swiveled onto her, pale green orbs haunting her, daring her to come closer. Knees visibly shaking, it was all Lucrecia could do to not just curl up into herself and hide from those eyes, and those screams...

"Seph, it's okay, I'm here," she whispered, tears of fright and sadness rolling down her cheeks as she tried to get past his flailing limbs. Without warning, a ghostly arm struck her hard in the side, sending her backwards into the wall. Stunned and in pain, Lucrecia could only watch as her son continued to scream and kick aimlessly, eventually subsiding into silence, body calm and still. It seemed as if the storm had died down along with Seph's lapse into sleep. Ever so slowly, she lifted herself to her feet and picked up the blanket that had been tossed off the bed, throwing it over Seph's ashen form and tucking it in around him. With careful steps, Lucrecia treaded out of the room and closed the door, her back leaning against it. Bit by bit she slid down the door until she reached the floor. She wept.


A/N: Review?