Kingdom Hearts II

Bend and Break

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters are not mine, and this fic is. This is the first chapter/introduction for something bigger, and this part was inspired by the prompts Infinite riches in a little room from 31 Days, and Restraint from Key Blade.

Research was a beautiful thing.

He had been scorned, rejected, by the scientific community as a whole. The power of hearts was a very dangerous thing to tamper with; the case of Ansem's wayward apprentices was well-known. And shouldn't all scientists have learned from that? He should not be looking to open such a Pandora's box.

But he would not make the same mistakes as Xehanort and his crew. They had not been anywhere as advanced in their research as he was. Not even Ansem was comparable. But Ansem had always been the more celebrated. That would soon change. Once his experimentation was completed, all would have to acknowledge his superiority.

And of course, he must have the most worthy subject possible. Previously, this one's captivity had only been a test, an examination of his mysterious extra appendages and his strength of heart. He had been released on purpose, to be observed from a distance. But now the time had come to fully enact the treacherous plans. This time he would not be set free.

He crossed the room to where the beaten form was manacled to the wall. Forced to stand, the specimen's hands and his neck were drooping. His head was resting against his right shoulder, the eyes closed. Above him, the large blue wing was half-folded, hanging to the side. From his waist, the lower wings were limp, brushing against his legs and feet, and the floor.

Before, he had been made to sit naked on the floor, on a sheet. This time he had been allowed to keep his trousers. His captor really was feeling generous.

A harsh and rough hand reached out, gripping the younger man by the jaw. Green eyes flew open.

"Ah, so you are conscious."

The emerald ice bored into the white-cloaked man with abhorrence. No words left his lips. Speech was unnecessary. There was nothing he wanted to say to this monster.

"Still silent? What a pity." The hand turned the other's head to the side, where the ugly bruise on his right temple was visible. "You really shouldn't fight back so much. Then maybe it wouldn't always go so rough for you."

The upper wing began to tense. Without restraints, it was a useful fighting tool. If this wretch would not remove his hands, then he would be swatted away. And he knew it would happen. But he kept coming back, defiantly touching his victim. And the hatred grew.

At last the jaw was released. The researcher stepped back, his gaze traveling over the exhausted form. The thoughtful gleam in his eye only made the winged being all the more alert.

"You're really a find, you know. Not every scientist is so fortunate to discover the perfect experiment. You are both strong of mind and of body." Now he reached up, squeezing the muscles on an arm. The hand clenched. "But can you be broken? Can even the great Sephiroth sink into complete and utter despair?"

Sephiroth never took his gaze away from his captor. It would not only be unwise, but unsatisfying for his pride. To look away could be interpreted as becoming submissive. And he never would. He would fight against this madman to the very end.

"I wonder what your Nobody would be like," the monster said. "Would he still care about Zack Fair and Cloud Strife, or at least, remember that he had cared? Or would he be an empty shell? And what would you be like as a Heartless? Still defiant? Would you even manage to keep your human form, as another famed scientist did?"

Sephiroth had to keep his expression impassive. Even Hojo would not do that, would he? Wouldn't Hojo want to experiment on all of him? He was always so intrigued by matters of the mind. But it was true that he was also fascinated by matters of the heart.

The slightest spark of fear was ignited in his soul. What sort of Hell had he been thrust into? Would he ever be released? Once again there was a magic barrier. He could not attack with fire. He could not teleport. He had been left to his own physical and mental strength. Not that it was not exceptional. But after being able to use his powers for so long, it was not pleasing to be without them. Even without the barrier, he could not teleport while in bonds, but there were times when his hands and feet were free. He had tried to get away on those occasions, fighting back in desperation, but Hojo always had more henchmen than Sephiroth could beat at once. And as time wore on, he was growing weaker. He was beaten and experimented on every day.

Oh God . . . help me.

Zack and Cloud must be worried sick. They were searching everywhere on Hollow Bastion for him, but would they ever think to look beyond their homeland? Would they think to look in Castle Oblivion?

The white that decorated the walls and gave the entire building a bright cast was so inappropriate, considering the devilry that was taking place.

The calloused hand was placed over his heart. "It's beating faster," Hojo smirked. "Are you afraid of me yet? Or is it just the anger and rage boiling through your veins?" A pause. "I wonder how I could best use your dark emotions to my advantage. Especially without your friends here. Should I let them know where you are? Should we have them come here for you?"

The green eyes widened in alarm. No . . . that could not happen. Hojo would do it. He would definitely do it. And Zack and Cloud would not be allowed to leave with him in peace. Hojo would capture them too, and torture them in front of Sephiroth.

Being with this demon was deplorable and repulsive, but he would choose it any day over watching him experiment on the others.

Hojo leaned closer, whispering into Sephiroth's ear as if he was telling a great secret. "I remember when you ran from me as a child," he said. "You hid behind one table and then another, and finally resorted to climbing inside a metal cabinet. Of course I found you. It was so fitting. You were curled in a fetal position, trembling from sheer terror, your eyes wide like an animal's. You had no qualms about showing me your fear then."

The blood ran cold in Sephiroth's veins. He strained to pull away, craning his neck to look at the madman as best as he could. What . . . what was he talking about? He had never met Hojo before last year. How could they have known each other when he was a small child? He had been raised all during his youth by a respectable general and his wife. It was impossible!

Hojo drew back as well, sneering at Sephiroth with yellow teeth. "You're confused now. You can't hide it." He grabbed the other's jaw again. "And you wonder how what I said could be the truth, don't you?"

Sephiroth glowered, again readying the upper wing. He would not stand for always being touched this way.

But in the next instant, all thoughts of attacking fled.

"You were adopted, Sephiroth. Oh, you don't remember? Your mother gave her life to bring you to the home where you were raised." Hojo leaned closer, his hot breath hitting Sephiroth in the face. "She was running from me. I am your father."

Sephiroth could only stare, struck dumb. His heart was pounding in his ears. No . . . no, it was not true. It was a lie! It was just the kind of wretched, twisted lie Hojo would make up to torment him! His father was honorable. His father had loved and cared about him. His mother had lived until he had been seventeen. Lies! All lies!

"I kept watch over you for years," Hojo smirked. "I planned our meeting so carefully---how it would happen, what I would say, how you would react. Then I decided it would be more fun to make your acquaintance without telling you of my identity. And what better time than when you suddenly appeared after a year-long absence with these amazing creations?" He touched the wing, sinking his fingers into the down. The appendage stiffened.

"I wondered who could have done such a thing to you. I wanted to meet the scientist, for surely he was much more skilled than I. And after your first visit with me, I was even more perplexed. I found that it looks like the wings are growing right from your body, as if they were always natural. And we both know that isn't the case." He petted the wing for a moment before withdrawing his hand. Sephiroth's frozen visage, drained of color, was such a delight to behold.

"You still don't believe me, Sephiroth?" He fished in his front pocket, searching for something that he had placed there. His smirk widened upon locating the object, and he drew it out, holding it in front of Sephiroth's stricken eyes. "This picture was taken almost twenty-nine years ago. You were two years old."

Sephiroth's stare turned to the small photograph. It was obviously old, the edges weathered with age and the colors fading. But the subjects of the picture were still clearly visible---a brown-haired woman, her eyes filled with deep-rooted fear, holding a child in her arms. The tiny hands were grasping the end of the woman's braid, the green eyes displaying irritation at being interrupted. A shock of silver hair fell around his face.

He knew the boy. He had seen pictures of him at that age, and beyond, but never any pictures of him as an infant. His mother had told him some story about the photos from then being lost, and as a child, he had believed it. Now, it was such a red flag. It fit in with Hojo's tale. Those pictures were not lost; they had never existed. His true mother and father had never taken pictures of him as a baby, because he had not been with them then.

But no! It was not true! It was a coincidence. His parents would not have lied to him. They would have told him if he was adopted!

"I threatened your father," Hojo smiled, as if reading Sephiroth's mind. "I let him know that he was not to ever tell you that you were not biologically his. And I backed up my threats by having his brother killed."

A new wave of hatred surged through the former general. That was how his father's beloved brother had died? They had thought it had been an accident, a tragic car wreck. But Hojo had been behind it? Hojo had been ripping apart the hearts of Sephiroth's loved ones for all of his life, not just in the past year?

"Well, Sephiroth?" Hojo sneered. "Do you have anything to say?"

The green eyes narrowed. His lips parted. ". . . Even if you, and this woman, were responsible for bringing me into the world," he said, every word filled with venom, "you are not, and never will be, my father."

Hojo laughed. Gooseflesh rose on Sephiroth's arms, and not because he was shirtless.

At last the madman replaced the photograph in his pocket. "The next experiment is in five hours," he said, turning to go. "Sleep, if you can."

With that his treacherous footsteps echoed throughout the spacious room, fading as he reached the door and walked through it into the hall.

Sephiroth slumped into the wall, shaking, his fists clenching again. The bile had risen in his throat. After what he had been told, the urge to get rid of it was strong. But he swallowed, pushing it down once more.

He shut his eyes tightly.

What a nightmare. What a horrible, unending nightmare.