Final Fantasy VII
Starry Starry Night
Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! The plot was inspired by the prompt Suicide at 10 Hurt/Comfort, and the title is from the Don McLean song Vincent. It takes place after chapter 6, and there are important spoilers for it. Please do not read this if you do not want to know what happens. It follows on the premise that for a time before the events of chapter 7, Sephiroth did believe that Genesis was gone for good.
Sephiroth had not thought he would ever come here. On his own time, it certainly would not be his first choice. And he had not thought that he, serving as the General, would be called in now, after the dust had settled. But Shinra had decided it must be done, in case there were any hidden forces of enemy troops that might suddenly appear. So he and Zack had found themselves called back to Modeoheim.
Neither of them were pleased about it. Zack had personally experienced heart-rending agony in that town, and Sephiroth had been told enough about it that it was good enough for him. But now he was standing on the edge of a deep chasm, staring down into nothing.
Genesis. . . .
He did not know how long he had been there. Certainly he had not monitored the time. Once they had finished their respective inspections, Sephiroth had noticed the gaping hole and had walked over to it. They were in the right location; this was surely the hole where Genesis had deliberately plunged to certain death.
Why did you do it?
Had Genesis just not wanted to be captured by SOLDIER, and had found his solution in following in the footsteps so many of their enemies? Was it the proof that he had been struggling to break free of the deterioration and he had not known how else to do it? Or was it the final result of a soul tormented for years, yearning to be free?
Are you really free?
As far as Sephiroth was concerned, the afterlife would not provide freedom. The melting pot of the Lifestream, where all were forced to relinquish their individuality and become one with the force, sounded like a continuation of torture--not an escape from it. What happened to the souls over time? As their knowledge poured into the Lifestream, did they themselves lose what they had learned? Did other people's memories merge with their own? Did they forget who they had been? What they had done? . . . Who they had known? If Sephiroth met Genesis after his own death, would Genesis even remember him?
. . . Not that you remembered me anyway. Did you ever know me at all?
His bangs fell forward against his face. After the chaos and turmoil of the past months, he was no longer sure of anything. He did not even know what he had meant to Genesis--or to Angeal, for that matter. Both he and Zack had tried to bring them back. And they had both failed.
Sephiroth was not sure if he would describe Genesis as having fully enjoyed life; for him, something had always seemed to be missing. But Genesis had never considered suicide in the past. It had always seemed to be the furthest thing from his mind. Instead he had always strived to be the best, his determination never wavering. Failure had only increased his drive--and his obsession.
Peering into the nothingness, Sephiroth still wondered if Genesis could have intended to survive, and possibly have done so. And yet he did not know where Genesis could have gone or what he could have done until he would have been able to fly out of the hole. At this point, there was no indication that he was still alive. But on the other hand, there was no proof that he was dead.
Yet it felt like he was dead. Sephiroth could not really explain it, but there was an emptiness in his heart. It had not fully been present before he had learned what had transpired in Modeoheim. And Sephiroth did not understand it. He was standing at the grave of a stranger.
The Genesis who had perished was not the same person who had introduced himself to Sephiroth with wide and starry eyes, overjoyed to meet his idol. He was not the same person who had delighted in quoting Loveless to his friends with no hint of malice in his tones. He was not even the same person who had argued with Sephiroth over strange misunderstandings.
Or was he? The Genesis who had taken his own life may have just been the darker side of the man Sephiroth had known.
That thought, perhaps, disturbed Sephiroth the most. Where did the deterioration stop and Genesis begin? He had begun to feel bitter towards Sephiroth before his mind had started to crumble. When the experimentation had begun to take its toll on him, maybe it had only brought to the surface the feelings that had already been lingering in his heart.
It horrified Sephiroth. But not only because of what had happened to his friend.
He could not help but worry over whether the same fate awaited him, eventually.
If so, would the Lifestream be his escape, too? Or would it only compound and worsen the problem, making him even more insane?
He passed a hand over his face. Maybe both Genesis and Angeal were still suffering. And whether or not they had ever really considered Sephiroth to be their friend, he did not want them to be in agony. But there was nothing he could do for them now.
Not that he had ever been able to do a thing.
He missed the days spent training and goofing off in the virtual reality chamber. Not wanting the Second or Third Class SOLDIERs to see them, they had always waited until no one had been around. They had passed many hours in that room, switching the scenery to suit their moods and whims. It had been there that Sephiroth had been able to relax, or to let loose; both he and Genesis had enjoyed sparring. Sometimes Angeal had joined them.
He missed the conversations on philosophy. Angeal and Genesis had had such differing viewpoints. He agreed and disagreed with aspects of both of their views. They had talked long into the night at times, coming to better understand each other and why they believed as they each did. Sometimes they never could fully grasp the other opinions, though they respected the ideas.
He even missed having Loveless read to him. But he had to wonder why Genesis had loved the story so much. It really was ungodly depressing, chronicling the friendship of three men as it waxed, waned, and fell apart. Two of the friends had even dueled. It had come to mirror reality all too well.
Though he and Genesis had not physically dueled. That part of the story had come to be real because of Zack--a fourth friend in the equation--and Angeal. It sickened Sephiroth. If anyone had fought Angeal, it should have been him. It should never have been Zack.
Genesis had wanted to duel him. It had become an increasing obsession with him ever since he had begun to be so intensely jealous. But Sephiroth had only wanted to fight him when he had believed it was all in good sportsmanship. Once he had realized how Genesis was changing, and how he was being overcome by his need to be the best, he had refused to encourage it. After his desertion, Genesis had tried more than once to entice Sephiroth into a battle. But Sephiroth had still not allowed it to happen.
He had commented that Genesis had not changed when they had met during the attack on Shinra, but it had really been a comment made out of irony. Yes, Genesis quoting Loveless was one thing that had remained the same, but what had been drastically different had been the way he had meant it. He had used the verses to mock and ridicule Sephiroth, which he never would have dreamed of in the past. And the effects of the deterioration and how it had fueled his already-bitter feelings had also been obvious. His mako eyes had gleamed with a dangerous and deadly spark that he had not possessed before being consumed by his envy.
The figurative sword he had before used to pierce Sephiroth's heart had gone in far deeper that day. And Sephiroth had realized just how far his old friend had fallen. They had parted, as far as Genesis had been concerned, as enemies.
I'm sorry you believed I never cared.
It was ironic, that while Sephiroth was wondering if Genesis cared, Genesis had convinced himself that it was the truth that Sephiroth did not care. But while Sephiroth had struggled to do all in his power to show Genesis that he did care, Genesis had only behaved the exact opposite--letting Sephiroth know just how much he was despised and hated. And instead of having his mind clear now, there was the chance that Genesis was indeed falling further into his anger the longer he stayed in the Lifestream.
It was weighing heavily on Sephiroth's mind. And he loathed that. There was no point in it, not when he could do nothing about it. He reached up, tiredly massaging his eyes and the bridge of his nose.
If he knew a god to pray to, he would ask for Genesis and Angeal to be watched over. As it was, he did not know that he believed in any of Gaia's religions, or that there was a caring god in the first place. If he were to define his religious affiliation, it would probably be something such as an "agnostic deist." He did not know if there was any kind of divine being, especially considering the state of the planet's afterlife--but if there was a god, he or she had probably created the world and then had sat back to watch what happened. That thought embittered him, but it made a grim kind of sense on this cold world.
We're left to ourselves. And look at what happens.
He gripped his arms. He should not still be here. There was work to be done. Yes, that was the solution to all heartache--work. He would immerse himself in it and forget all else.
The problem was, it did not always let him forget. Whatever was bothering him would come back during a pause in his assignments, or sometimes even while he was doing his assignments. Then it would perch on his shoulder, whispering into his ear until he could not longer stand it.
Sephiroth started and looked over his shoulder. Zack was approaching, hesitant, looking guilty to have interrupted.
Relief washed over the General. He had needed to be brought out of his thoughts.
". . . Are you okay?"
Sephiroth turned, looking back at the hole. "I don't know," he confessed, and was immediately irritated with himself for doing so. To not answer with "Fine" would let Zack know for certain that something was amiss. And then Zack would worry.
Sure enough, Zack tensed. "Seph?"
Sephiroth sighed. "I just have a lot on my mind," he muttered, much harsher than he had intended.
He could hear Zack shifting behind him. "I can go," Zack said. Though he was reluctant to leave, he thought that Seph probably wanted to be alone. This was a part of Seph's life that had come before Zack had wandered in; Genesis and Angeal had been Seph's first friends. And this was probably as close to grieving as Zack would ever see from the stoic General.
But Sephiroth shook his head. "Stay," he said.
Stunned, Zack halted. Unsure of what Seph wanted him to do, he lingered where he was, looking ahead to his dear friend. For a long moment there was only silence.
". . . I really don't know why I feel such a sense of loss," Sephiroth said at last. "I lost Genesis long ago."
"Yeah . . ." Zack swallowed. It was hard to know what was appropriate to say. He shifted again. ". . . Maybe as long as he was alive, you still had hope of saving him. . . ."
"Maybe." A dry, humorless laugh. Zack hated it when Seph made that sound. It sounded so despondent and discouraged, so devoid of hope. And what Zack hated possibly more was that it was the only way he had ever heard Seph laugh.
He wanted to hug Seph close, to comfort him and let him know that things would be okay. But he could not tell lies. Even he did not know that he could honestly say everything would be alright. He was still aching from his own wounds--wounds that Seph had tried to help scab over. It had been a bitter lesson to learn--that sometimes things did not work out for the best good. Thinking back on his past self just made him sorrowful. The poor guy had had no idea what was in store. He had been so naive--so blind! He had never once dreamed that Genesis would fall to his death after their battle, nor that he himself would have to kill Angeal. He had felt so alone then. And it would not surprise him if Seph was feeling the same way now.
But neither he or Seph was alone.
At last the silver-haired man gave a sad and weary sigh, turning back to face Zack.
"This spot is for the dead," Sephiroth said. "Neither of us belong here."
Zack gave a slow nod. "You're ready to go?"
Sephiroth paused. "Yes," he said then. "I won't find any answers at this place." He walked past Zack, heading for the exit.
Zack chased after him. As they stopped at the doorway, Zack drew his arm around Seph's shoulders. Seph stiffened but then relaxed. In this way he allowed Zack to embrace him as they resumed their journey.
Zack could not take away his pain, or make him not be concerned about Genesis and Angeal. Sephiroth could not do that for Zack, either. But they could, and would, be there for each other. And that was a great comfort.
The first star was just appearing in the night sky as they stepped outside.