Final Fantasy VII

So Much Was Sacrificed

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters are not mine, and this ficlit is! The title comes from the song Hand of Sorrow, which I relate strongly to both Genesis and Sephiroth. I've really tried hard to keep spoilers out of this, but I couldn't tell the story without a vague allusion to what Genesis did in chapter nine of Crisis Core. But he's speaking in his usual, confusing way, so several interpretations may come up and it may not be too spoilery because of that. Maybe, however, I'm wrong. And in any case, there is quite a big glimpse into Genesis's true character. So those who don't want spoilers had best tread with caution, if they read this at all. This takes place in my Twilight and Dawn universe, right after the events of chapter ten of A Simple Mission in Triplicate, but that doesn't have to be read first to understand this. Basically, the main things needed to be known are that Sephiroth is sane again and the whole gang has been sent to Earth. This ficlit is something I've been trying to figure out for some time, and finally, after studying the events of the Crisis Core epilogue, I think I'm confident that I'm writing Genesis fairly accurate, and that his actions are not inconceivable. And since he likes to quote Loveless so much, that's where I got the idea for him to do what he does here. Thanks to Kaze for plot help!

Tifa was suspicious of the strange man who showed up on the doorstep. His vague mannerisms were odd, as was his almost dream-like way of speaking. And he refused to give his name. He would only say that he had known Sephiroth.

"I need to see him, just for a moment," he insisted.

Tifa kept one hand on the doorknob as she leaned on the doorframe with her other hand. So much had gone on the past few days, not the least of which was Cloud being mind-controlled by a madman and Sephiroth nearly dying to save him as well as Zack and Angeal. And they were still trying to recover from the escapade. Tifa and Aerith had insisted that the men sleep for a while, and at the moment, Tifa was the only person awake in the house. Aerith had taken the kids out for ice cream. And Tifa did not intend to allow a potentially dangerous person inside. So far, he had not done anything to lessen her concerns.

"Sephiroth's been through a lot," she answered. "And he has a lot of enemies. How can I believe that you're not one of them?"

"You can't," he said simply, with a half-shrug and an uplifted hand. "You have only my word. I knew him back on Gaia, in SOLDIER. We were . . . comrades."

She frowned, placing her hands on her hips as she stared him down. He only regarded her calmly, obviously not concerned. She knew very little about Sephiroth's time in SOLDIER, and he knew that. She would not be able to verify his claims.

"What do you want with him?" she demanded.

"Just to see him."

She shook her head. "He's sleeping. He needs the rest." And she trailed off, not wanting to elaborate on the reason for Sephiroth's invalid condition. He was still not one of her favorite people, but this was his house, he was Zack's dear friend, and she was a decent person. She would not want to do anything that would result in more sorrow for him and his loved ones.

"I know he's sleeping. I know why, too." He stared off into the distance, thoughtful. "The monster has become a hero again. Why?"

Tifa could only watch him in disbelief. "Excuse me?" she exclaimed.

He slowly looked back to her, focusing mako green eyes on her rust-colored orbs. "Don't you wonder too?" he asked. "He never wanted the glory and fame he possessed, when he was working to bring about goodness and light. And then he lost his mind. He reigned in terror for several years, wanting to gather all the knowledge he possibly could and to be the most powerful being in existence. Yet now that he has regained his senses, he has decided to return to a life of good."

He just wants to protect the people he loves. The words leaped into Tifa's mind without her consciously giving voice to them. But she did not speak.

He paused. "I know about Nibelheim," he announced. "I know what you suffered there. The Goddess's most favored are those who endure the largest number of hardships."

Her eyes widened, then narrowed. "Who are you?" she asked again. How could he know? Shinra had kept the Nibelheim incident secret for years. As it was, the majority of Gaia still did not know about it. How could he know anything of it at all, let alone what had happened to her?

He shook his head, inviting himself in as he brushed past her and went to the stairs. She stared, hurrying after him. The nerve of him! If necessary, she would use her fists to keep Sephiroth from harm. And just to get him out of the house in general. When Sephiroth was well, she was definitely going to ask him about this. She wanted to be prepared in case it happened again.

The odd man seemed to know she was right there. And he did not care. When he reached the top, he turned in the exact direction of Sephiroth's room. And he paused in front of the correct door.

"Why do you think he's in there?"she wanted to know. Had he been prowling around the yard at some recent time? If so, that was something else against his favor.

Instead of saying anything, he opened the door and walked inside. Sephiroth was laying there, in the bed, the quilt having slipped down to his waist. He had not yet undone the Safer form, and the black wing was visible as it spread out behind him. The white wings on his right side were laying on top of his legs, their outlines showing through the fabric. The ones on his left were stretched out in front of him. He was completely still, save for the gentle movements of his breathing.

The deliberately nameless man ventured closer, peering down at the form with an odd fascination. Sephiroth was altogether unconscious of this intrusion, unless the sudden twitching of his black wing was an indication that he was, actually, aware of it.

For a long moment the stranger simply observed. Tifa could not see his face, but he seemed melancholy, even sad. Most likely, he was remembering past times. It did not feel right, watching all of this, and yet she could not turn away. What if he was still planning to do damage? She needed to be here.

The tall figure shifted, crossing his arms. It had been so many years. . . .

Sephiroth . . . the hero. . . . He was so quiet now. At least in his slumber, he was unburdened by the past. But when he was awake, it haunted him. He had committed abominable acts. Yet . . . he was not the only one.

"You have changed, have you?" the newcomer mused. "You no longer have the glory. Though you still don't want it, anyway." He straightened up, looking thoughtful. "'And the monster rose from his ashes, reborn as the phoenix. Yet none could forget what he once did. And though the phoenix again strived for righteousness, never again could he regain the trust that had been widespread.'"

There was a long pause. ". . . 'And the ronin regretted his own part in the cruel twist of fate. He had wanted the phoenix to join alliances with him again, by revealing the cruelty of the men who had brought the avian being into existence. Instead the phoenix destroyed himself and his mind.

"'The ronin tried to rationalize what he had caused. It was proof that his friend was a monster, even worse than he had believed. And he had often been jealous of the phoenix's glory and fame. What he had helped set into motion was the only fate befitting a monster. Even as he had offered the apple of fellowship, had he ever expected that it would be accepted? Or had he known of the refusal before the confrontation had even taken place? Had part of him even wanted the phoenix to fall? He could not tell. He did not want to believe that he had wanted an ill fate to befall the other.

"'He had loved and idolized the phoenix. Though they were the same age, the phoenix was years advanced in his fighting and his wisdom. Yet he was a kind person. The ronin allowed his jealousy and his desperation, as well as his hatred of the people for whom they worked, to cloud his mind.'"

Another lengthy pause, as he gathered his final thoughts.

"'The ronin had to at last acknowledge that what he had done was unforgivable, no matter his motives. And he could never repair the damage. Perhaps, he decided, the blood that stained the one also tainted the other.'"

He took a deep breath. To say it felt a relief. He would not say that the burden had been lifted, but at last he had spoken to the one who had been so seriously wounded by his actions.

The green eyes weakly opened. "That . . . isn't from Loveless," Sephiroth mumbled, still half in the world of the senseless.

The other half-turned. "No," he agreed, "it isn't."

His voice lowered. "'He has long wished to say that he is sorry, even though he knows it will not fix the anguish, nor to replace the blood that was spilled.'"

This time Sephiroth did not respond beyond a vague grunt.

The uninvited guest lingered a moment, his gaze traveling over the semi-lucid form. Sephiroth's eyes were already falling shut again. And it had not been intended for him to hear these words anyway. They had just needed to be said aloud, in his presence.

Hesitating at first, he reached over and pulled the quilt around Sephiroth's shoulders. The black wing twitched at being covered, but then relaxed. Gloved fingers brushed several strands of long bangs away from where they had fallen against the warrior's nose and mouth. The visitor straightened, his voice still barely discernible when he spoke again.

"Rest well, my old friend."

He walked out of the room, passing Tifa in all somberness. Still he was not nonplussed to find her there. "Now I will take my leave," he said.

He had said all that he had to. And he would not be back. Sephiroth had a new life now. He had renewed old friendships. He would be left to them. There would not be an intrusion, after all that had been done by both Sephiroth himself and by the myriad of complex, conflicting emotions in the stranger's heart that had fueled a deadly chain reaction. It would be better to disappear into the mists of the night.

She blinked, looking from him to Sephiroth. The silver-haired man was settling further into the bed, pulling his avian wings closer around him. He had not fully regained consciousness, and he was slipping out of it again. The chances of him remembering this later on were not likely. But it had been important to the wanderer to come anyway.

In any case, she would likely never know the full story.

She pulled Sephiroth's door shut with a quiet motion before turning to follow the other out. But her eyes widened. He was gone. The front door downstairs was swinging open in the wind.

She hurried down the steps, gripping the banister as she went. How could he have gotten away that fast? And shouldn't he still be on the walkway?

At the bottom, she stopped short as she stared ahead.

No one was there. The freshly falling snow was devoid of footprints.

And a lone black feather was descending to the porch.