I could feel him approaching, although I don't show any signs of it. I've always been able to tell when he's around ever since I first met the damn guy; it's like I have a sixth sense for him.
He stands in the doorway to this crappy little apartment I'm currently living in, I can feel his aura there, the sound his clothes make, the smell unique to him; still there under the layers of inner city shit he tromped through. I hear the point of his sword drag along the floor lightly and I smirk; his way of telling me he's found me, like I didn't already know.
"You shouldn't smoke" the silky voice is quiet but strong and would have been heard no matter how loud the room could have been
I snort and take another drag flicking the ashes over the sill of the window I'm sitting on, left leg dangling lightly to the floor.
"Not like it's gonna kill me" I say rolling my eyes in his direction "if time failed I'm pretty sure a few fags aren't gonna work"
He shrugged slightly, either in agreement or total lack of care, I find I don't really give a damn, "not even going to pick up your sword?" he asked raising one eyebrow "think you're that good do you?"
I stand up at last, throwing the remainder of the cigarette out the window "well" I say, stretching tired and worn muscles. "For the past 100 years I've beaten you every time, why would anything change now?" my voice is tired, bored, if I can tell it must be obvious to him to.
"Maybe because you're sitting in front of me in your underwear, smoking, and I have a sword?" I have to admit he has a point.
"Aren't you tired of this?" I've given up the pretence now, I suspect he already knows what's coming, "This world, the Planet, it healed a long time ago, the damage you caused, it's gone, forgotten." I gesture outside to the still semi-ruined remains of Midgar "this place is slowly rotting away, our time is over. Everyone we know, everyone we cared about, they've been dead a long time, our names are barely remembered" My voice was gradually getting louder, more forceful, something resembling my old fire. It surprised me, I thought that part of myself had died the first time I had killed Sephiroth.
He stood there, quiet after my outburst, before nodding slowly "But what else is there? We can't die, you already said we have no one"
I laughed, it was so blindingly obvious and the idiot still couldn't see "We have each other" I said settling myself down on windowsill again "That's all we ever had, and all we ever will have"
He was quiet again "Are you suggesting we stop trying to kill each other and be friends?" he seemed unsure
I shrug "I'm suggesting maybe what we've been doing for the past 100 years isn't working out so well"
"I don't know how to do anything other than kill" he said simply
I smiled "The general I grew up loving knew how to do many things that weren't killing," I said gently, once again I'm surprised by the level of emotion in my voice. It always seems to be him that arouses this in me, usually in the form of violent anger, but emotion none the less. I smiled again, "I idolised you when I was growing up, hero-worship I guess" I said softly "I joined SOLDIER to be like you, to be closer to you, and when I finally got here you were everything I believed you to be. I worked my way up the ranks eventually insinuating myself alongside Zack in your inner circle. I realised that everything I'd heard was mostly an exaggeration, you were every bit as scary as they said, but it was a surface thing, a front, you were every bit as human as the rest of us and you cared very deeply for everyone under your command." I smiled unsure as to why I felt an urge to pour my heart out to the man I'm supposed to be killing, but sure that it felt right and such a relief to get it off my chest. "You haven't changed that much since your 'crazy kill the world' phase"
He smiled at the offhand manner in which I described a pretty traumatic event in both our lives, but then 100 years of living alone and doing nothing but thinking and healing has a tendency to numb those kind of things.
"I don't want to fight you, time after time, it kills me inside to raise a blade against you, you're not that evil crazed maniac anymore, you're Sephiroth, my general, my friend"
"Cloud…" my name was spoken so softly I almost missed it "I'm sorry"
I blinked as I felt Masamune brush against my skin I looked up at him surprised by his actions, I sighed, well this was way to go I supposed, we've never tried him killing me before.
I lay still letting the current carry me, my eyes closed. The bastard had actually done it; he had killed me with the damn over-the-top sword of his. I guess I should be angry but this is kinda peaceful really, no wonder he seems to enjoy dying so much. I smile; I can feel the presence of everyone I love around me, comfortingly warm,
"It's wonderful isn't it?" he asks quietly, his face peaceful for the first time in what seems like forever "Its so hard to leave"
"Why do it then?" my voice is soft and relaxed, far more healthy than its been in a while, seems that smoking did have some bad effects
"Because I am supposed to, the longer I stay the harder the Lifestream tries to kick me out. I thought it hated me, wanted me gone, but today it became clear. You're right I've been forgiven, it didn't want me gone; it wanted me to get you"
I laugh "right, so why couldn't I just die normally?"
He shrugs "I don't know, maybe you were clinging to life a little to hard"
I stood up annoyed at the way he was looming over me; not that standing helped that much, "jeez if everyone knew that's all it took, we'd all be immortal"
"I think it's a little more complicated than that,"
I look down at my underwear "So I appear in what I die in? I bet Zack is laughing"
"Damn straight" a hand clapped me on the back "Who knew Cloud had sense of humour enough for those" he pointed and belatedly I realised I was wearing Tifa's last Christmas present, a semi joke, of underwear with my namesake on them.
"You know I've been here close to a 100 years" she said walking up beside the dark man "I think, really, you should have replaced them by now"
"Can we stop talking about my underwear and possibly get me some clothes" I asked, slightly annoyed, this was not how I pictured our happy reunion
They laughed and I noticed that the blinding whiteness had slowly started to fade, Islung on the shirt and trousers that were there, waiting for me it seems,
"How comes he's not dressed in his damn leathers?" I muttered pointing to where Sephiroth was hanging back from this mini reunion
"He's used to the transfer, just waltz's in now, puts on new clothes, hangs around for as long as possible then goes back to do it all again." Zack looked at me reproachfully "It's been hard on him, he cares about you a great deal, more so when he came to his senses and realised what he'd done to you. This time is final, so make good Cloudy, no more second chances" he ruffled my hair and smiled "I know how much you loved him." He looked at me when I opened my mouth to protest "You never could hide things from me Cloud, and now is your chance to do something, we have nothing but time, and trust me he spends most of his thinking about you."
He pulled a face and I grinned; Sephiroth was well know for his tendency to think out loud to his First-classes, especially to Zack, I guess that hadn't changed much.
"You need to cut this" I murmured softly, running my hands through his hair
He leaned a little into my touch "Don't do this because Zack says so" his voice was rough, his eyes watching the wall
"I'm not, I just needed a little reassurance that this is ok" and I've had enough of waiting, I've spent close to a 170 years waiting and I am tired. I turned his head, my fingers tangling in the roots of his hair and press my lips to his, small, chaste, but, as I feel him respond, so full of promise.