Pairings: Eventual Sephiroth/Cloud/Zack
Canon: Wolf's Rain + Final Fantasy VII (original game only)
: Wolves, humans, and the true nature of monsters. Finding the Promised Land means losing a part of yourself in the process.
: R – some violence, lab torture, drama, some language, some implicit sexuality.
: Something that might be a little confusing is the wolf-human thing. In Wolf's Rain, the wolves are able to appear human without actually changing their shape or using any sort of magic. The title is taken off the anime's first OST.

Word Count: 847
Minor Revision
: 1 July 2010

Hades' Phoenix


Heavy breathing, hot against his ear. Weariness pulling at his legs, weighing him down, making him stumble against the larger body that was the only thing keeping him upright. Cold, it was so cold even where he was pressed against the other, numbing his nose and stinging his eyes with icy needles.

"Keep going, Cloud," and that made him want to cry, he was so tired and aching, but he couldn't do that to Zack – he couldn't give up, not when Zack needed him most. He could hear the strain in Zack's voice beneath a thin veneer of optimism, and both could barely lift their paws high enough to move through the deep snow. "We can rest soon, but not yet. Just a little farther, Cloud, c'mon, I know you're stubborn enough to make it under all that fuzziness."

Once upon a time Cloud would have gotten so indignant at that, but he was mako-sick and so, so tired, the snowy landscape cast in shades of green and shadow and heartache. Him and Zack, it was just him and Zack now and oh, don't think about that. Don't. Don't think about Sephiroth or Aeris or how fragile everything really is.

The world was silent, muffled by snow, and empty. Him and Zack, just Zack, already the scent of the flowergirl was fading from his nose and the warmth from his silver packmate being forgotten, all he knew was greenshadowheartache and Zack.

And machinery.

Humans always made noise, they walked loudly and breathed loudly and their cities rang with constant noisy chaos. Cloud could feel the vibrations in the ground through the snow with his paws, sensed that the humans and their machines were getting closer.

Humans and their noise and their hatred.

"Keep running, Cloud, just keep going, don't stop, you hear me?" Zack growled breathlessly, his teeth flashing pearly-white in the night. His fur was as dark as the new moon but his teeth and eyes caught the starlight and the light from the humans' machines, reflecting off the snow in his feral grin. "They can't cage us unless we let them. They can kill us, but they have to catch us first."

Suddenly loud noises were making Cloud's head pound, rat-tat-tat inside his skull, the bullets surely hitting him the way they were exploding in the snow all around. But he was still running, Zack's nose and terrorpanicrage pushing him on, guiding him, and maybemaybe this wasn't so mad, maybe Zack had always been right about the Promised Land. Maybe that nameless ache in his heart would keep Zack safe and show them the way.

Then Zack jerked against him, and Cloud wanted to turn and ask even though the green was making it hard to find the right words to speak, but Zack panted, "Keep running, keep running," and Zack was never wrong. He couldn't be. So Cloud ran. But Zack jerked again, lost his balance, and the metallic reek of blood smothered Cloud's senses.

"Keep running, Cloud," but Zack was slowing, staggering, and the humansnoisesbullets were getting closer, the earth shaking beneath their shredded paws. No no nonono, that wasn't right, Zack wasn't supposed to fall behind, he was strong and wild and so much more than anyone else, he wasn't supposed to be bleeding like that. Through the green and the shadows there was crimson, too much, spreading through the snow like a cancer.

"Z-Zack," Cloud whimpered, forcing his body to turn, stay upright, go to Zack because the only place in the world for him was next to Zack.

"Keep running," he growled as he coughed up a surge of blood, pearly-white snow turning dark and dying. "You're the dream now, Cloud, don't give up, got it?"

And he fell to earth silently.

The soldier jumped out of the vehicle, wincing when his boots instantly sunk deep into the snow. Keeping his gun up, he stepped closer to the two furred bodies caught in the glow of the jeep's headlights.

Wolves, and it was like seeing something out of a nightmare, beasts that you thought were just your imagination but were as real as you, even walked among you pretending to be human. Two wolves, one large and black, the other smaller, tawny and longer-furred.

And so much blood. It was true, the way they said you never really got used to how much blood a single living body could hold. The black wolf was slumped over, obviously dead; the other was pressed up close, trembling, long nose pushed under the other's unresponsive head. The lighter wolf couldn't even be fully grown, was huddled against the dead body with small, breathless cries.

Wolves were monsters, stories still being told of how they'd once killed among humans. But as the soldier watched, something made him lower his weapon, long moments passing in quiet before he turned back to the jeep.

"Status?" demanded the squad commander as the soldier climbed back in.

"Both targets dead," he murmured. "Let's get back to Hojo, I want to let my wife know I'm still coming home."