Final Fantasy VII

Rotten Apples

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters are not mine and this ficlit is. It's an idea I've had for a few days and decided to write. I usually write from Sephiroth's point of view, as he is the one I sympathize with in the friendship mess, but I've also wanted at times to write something from Genesis at the peak of his insanity. So . . . as a warning, he's quite mad here. It takes place while Nibelheim burns, but before Sephiroth ascends to Mount Nibel. And there are some spoilers for chapter 9 of Crisis Core. Thanks to Kaze and Lisa for plot help! The ending twist with the apple, along with Genesis's reaction, is Kaze's idea.

The tragedy in the small mountain village of Nibelheim could never be properly described. Every home and building was in flames. Those that had not been set on fire caught the blaze as it hungrily and mercilessly traveled over each square inch. Countless lives had been lost, burned alive in the inferno. Other residents, those who had tried to stop the madman who was doing this, had perished by the sword. And the arsonist himself had died, in a sense--the good man he was had become swallowed by his insanity.

High above the chaos, a lone figure stood on Mount Nibel. The wind whipped around the long red coat and the short, graying and deteriorating hair, but it was barely noticed. In a crimson-gloved hand, a bluish-purple apple was held. This was held up, as if to show it the village below.

"'My friend, the fates are cruel,'" a masculine voice whispered. "'There are no dreams, no honor remains.'"

But a sickening smirk began to play on the twisted lips. "Now you have discovered your true self," he said, bringing the apple back to himself. "All you are and all that you were meant to be. You have sunk into the pits of Hell. Dragons' talons reached for you, but you cast them off only to throw yourself headfirst into the lava. You will never cease to descend into your madness."

In the mako-infused eyes flashed the memories of several years. He had once idolized the one to whom he was speaking. That was the reason why he had joined SOLDIER, so long ago. After they had met and become acquainted, they had spent many pleasant hours together as friends. They had talked. They had ate. They had engaged in competitions of sportsmanship. And they had fought side by side on the battlefield. They had made an excellent team, along with their third friend. Some had called them the Triple Threat of Shinra.

But over time a small and yet deadly intruder had taken seed in his heart. He had begun to feel that he could never be as good as that man. He had hated every time that the other had won their competitions or had shown himself to be the strongest fighter in combat. And their once good-natured banter began to be twisted in the red-cloaked man's mind. It was an indication that the other was arrogant. It was no secret that he was prideful of his abilities. He liked being the best. And this man could not stand it. His friend had not been perfect, of course, but he was not the unkind creature the other had convinced himself the man was.

"Sephiroth, the grand General," he spat. "So powerful and dangerous. You always laughed at me. You found it a great joke when I could not match your overwhelming strength. You would not even take up your sword to battle against me after I deserted Shinra. You were too good to associate with me, using the excuse that you could not fight a friend in serious combat. But I have no such sentimental notions."

The flames from below climbed higher, flashing shadows along with red and orange hues across his face.

"You always abhorred the thought that you were a monster," he said, "especially after Angeal and I learned the truth about ourselves. Why? Could you not stand the mere thought that you were the same as us? Did you despise us that badly?"

He stared into the inferno, the cruel, roaring blaze reflected in his eyes. "It was so satisfying to finally inform you of the truth," he mused. "When I told you, you denied it. Yet you locked yourself in the library to study your past. How did it feel, my friend? Discovering that Jenova, your mother, was a monster, and hence, that you are as well? I witnessed the despair and horror that rent your heart and soul. It was all in your eyes. Did you know I was there, observing you?"

Now he raised his gaze to view the chaos and destruction beyond the base of the mountain. "And this is what you did with those feelings," he said. "This is your legacy. Groomed to be the perfect monster since before your birth, at last you have given in to the pull of the darkness."

His eyes glittered, the memory of something that angered him pushing at the back of his mind. "So the village burns, just as Banora burned before it," he said, the bitterness seeping into his tones. "Always, that was Shinra's way of handling anything uncomfortable. They would erase the truth. Is that what you tried to do now, my friend?" he mused. "Did you want to eliminate all proof of your origins? Instead you have embraced them. Though you refused to join with me."

He looked down at the fruit he was holding. It was the very apple he had offered to Sephiroth here on Mount Nibel--the apple Sephiroth had rejected.

"But still, it is so fitting, isn't it?" he continued. "Both of our hometowns were destroyed by fire."

A wicked sneer of satisfaction came over his features. "Your fate is sealed. You cannot claim to be better than me any longer," he said. "You became what I am, and fell even lower. 'All that awaits you is a somber morrow, no matter where the winds may blow.'"

He brought the apple to his lips, biting into it. An expression of revulsion crossed his features as he pulled it back from his mouth. Though on the outside it still appeared edible, on the inside the meat was shriveled and brown.

"What a pity," he murmured. "Good Banora Whites are so difficult to find these days."

With a flick of his wrist he threw the rotten apple into the fires below him. His wing unfurled from his back, carrying him into the sky with a mighty flap. A lone black feather descended in his wake.