Title: Not a Fairytale
Author: Calenlass Greenleaf
Disclaimer: FFVII is not mine. If it were mine, I wouldn't writing this disclaimer, nor would this be story labeled as fanfiction.
Spoilers: BC, CC, DC Multiplayer Mode, DC.
Warnings: Violence, angst, mild swearing, etc. Romance. No yaoi/yuri. Slightly dialogue heavy in some parts.
Pairing: Sephiroth/Elfé (No portmanteaus for this pairing yet). Not a crack pairing.
Sephiroth/Elfé. He doesn't do relationships. Neither does she. But it's not impossible for them.
They met when he was eight or nine; she walked out of his life in a year.
Their second meeting was a chance one; this second meeting last only five minutes.
They would not meet again for nine years; when they did meet again, it was under better circumstances.
A/N: Written because it might have been possible, because no one knows what happened to Veld and Elfé after BC, and because speculation on Deepground is interesting. I let my imagination run on a lot of tangents, and this was the result.
Wutainese = Japanese, and Ancient = Latin in my book.
Not a Fairytale
They met when he was eight or nine…
His life is no fairytale.
He looks up when they bring her in. A black-haired girl with a scowling face was nothing spectacular, but the fact that she appears to be his age was somewhat interesting. He notes the way she drags her feet and crosses her arms, all the while pouting. She hardly looks at him, choosing to stick her tongue out at Hojo, who simply pats her on the head and tells her they will pick her up later for some tests. Only when the door clangs shut does she bother glancing at him.
"I don't belong here."
He shrugs in reply.
"But I can't remember where I belong, or what happened. They tell me that I'm only survivor of an explosion or something. I only have little bits of pieces of memory." She kicks the wall with her bare feet. "They're hiding something from me."
"They never give straight answers," he says.
She stops kicking. "What about you?"
"What about me?"
"Why are you here?"
"Because I've been here all my life. They say I'm going to be ShinRa's best soldier." He repeats the words that he's heard over and over.
"That's a stupid goal."
Again, he shrugs. "It was decided for me."
"And you're letting them control your life?"
"What do you want me to do?"
"I don't know. Anything except living in a boring, ugly place like this." She sighs and leans against the wall, closing her eyes. "At least I had a life, up to now."
"What was it like?"
"Better than this."
"Oh." He wouldn't know.
"What do you do around here?"
"Sit. Sleep. Eat. Have lessons. Train." He had just finished a sparring lesson.
"A lot of things. Mostly swordwork, though."
"Sword lessons?" She opens her eyes at this. "I remember having those."
He looks at her hands, and sees that they are like his; rough and callused. "Maybe one day they'll let us fight each other."
"I'll kick your butt."
"Like I'll let you," he responds with a half-smile.
She sticks out her tongue at him.
They are allowed to spar, and he wins every time.
"You're not bad," he says, "for a girl."
And like a girl, she sticks her tongue out and stomps away.
You'd think it's a normal life.
It might have been, had their environment been different, and had there not been the constant presence of white-coated, emotionless people.
And there was the mako enhancements. He had mako injections every two weeks. He's mostly used to the nausea, unless it's the last week of the month, when they add other things to the mako that were less pleasant.
She didn't need any of those—her purpose was different from his, and secretly he envies her.
But one day he finds her listless and clutching her hand.
"They put something in there," she murmurs when he asks her what's wrong. "And it hurts like crazy."
He tries to understand. "Did it come from a needle?"
"No. They put me to sleep, but they said cutting my hand open before that." She holds up her bandaged hand, rubbing the back of it. "And I feel weird. Too awake or something. I don't know."
He shifts on his feet, not sure what to say. "They—they always do stuff like this. It'll get better."
"I want to go home." A sniffle, though he can tell she's trying to hide her tears. "I want my parents…"
Awkwardly, he pats her shoulder. What could he say? "Home" and "parents" were just words; he doesn't understand their meaning. Only now does he begin to understand what the word "friends" means. Nevertheless, he understands the frustration of being treated like animal.
Much to his surprise, she grabs his shoulder and buries her face into the fabric. "Sh-shut up, Sephiroth—you don't get it at all. You're j-just some freak kid living a really horrible life in a lab." She digs her fingernails into his shoulder. "Maybe you're used to it, but I'm not."
He wants to say he didn't ask for it, but realizes that her state of mind was probably due to whatever the scientists had put in her. "Do you hate me because of that?" He asks instead. Her unruly hair tickles his nose.
"I don't hate you. I'm just…mad."
"Sorry." He hears a voice on the intercom, telling him to go somewhere, but he ignores it.
"Stop saying that." She pulls away from him, rubbing her nose and sniffing hard. "Promise you won't anyone I cried."
'Sephiroth, get right now.' Hojo's voice crackles over the intercom. He stands up and nods to her. "Bye."
She waves at him, with a half-smile. "Yeah."
As he walks out of the room, he hears her mutter. "I'm gonna get out of here, one way or the other."
He doubts she can.
A week later, he wakes up when someone grabs him by the front of his shirt. "Where did she go?" Hojo demands.
"Don't play dumb, Sephiroth," he snaps. "Where did she go?"
He pulls away. "I don't know."
"Don't lie to me."
"If you don't tell me, I'll force it out of you."
"I don't know!" He squashes the anxiety in him and gives the scientist his meanest scowl. "We haven't talked for a week. Your stupid guards probably let her go or something."
Hojo snarls something, and lets go of him. "If you're withholding information, you'll regret doing so."
When Hojo is gone, he spits a curse in Wutainese, because he hasn't figured out what this is all about and he's angry about being awakened at three in the morning. Only later does he hear what had happened—the accommodator for some sort of materia had run away. He doesn't know what they wanted with her, but he does remember her grey, restless eyes and how she wasn't bad with a sword.
He wonders why she didn't ask him if he wanted to come with her.
Because if she had, he would have gone with her.
…She walked out of his life in a year.
Their second meeting was a chance one…
Life went on, and it didn't follow any fairytale. By and by he forgot her. He grew up and got into SOLDIER. He met Angeal and Genesis, and tentatively called them friends. He was promoted to First Class when he more or less ended the Wutai War singlehandedly. He grew sick of being praised, and was tired of seeing his own face because of all those promotional posters.
Then one thing went wrong, and a couple other thousand things went wrong…
February 20, 2001 hadn't been a good day for him. He was playing bodyguard to the President (again). And pretending to be a hero. The hero stuff was in Angeal and Genesis' book. Not his. But the fact that his two friends and trusted colleagues had deserted him hurt. It meant that his workload increased and that he had to deal with more people who treated him like he was something high and mighty.
It. Was. Not. Fun.
He stalks down a flight of stairs, having received a message to go to a control room. The scene that greets him was of a blonde-haired Turk fighting a brown-haired AVALANCHE member. Turk 0, AVALANCHE 10. He watches for a little while until it was obvious that the poor lady was no match for the other woman with the katana.
"—down with the Shinra!" she says.
Sigh. Terrorists never learn. This one seemed more leveled-headed than the others, at least.
"That's as far as you go," he says, stepping in the room. Both of the women look up, instantly recognizing him. Something about the terrorist strikes him, but he shrugs it off.
"It can't be. You're—"
He doesn't let her finish, but brings his sword down. But she doesn't cringe away. Rather, she blocks his sword and holds her own against it.
His surprise is well hidden by years of training. He senses something not quite human in her, though he doesn't understand what it is, or why he knows this. "Impressive. You blocked my attack." He glances down at the woman, and their eyes meet.
Grey and restless.
So…it is you.
"So it is you," she says, echoing his thoughts. "The Silver-haired SOLDIER, Sephiroth." She curls her lip at him when she says his name.
Still serving Shinra, are we?
He tips his head upward a little at the unspoken question, letting his eyes gleam.
Don't look down on me, you terrorist. You were the one who ran off because you were afraid.
"What is your name?" he questions aloud.
I never knew it…
"Elfé. The leader of AVALANCHE," she says. "Why do you fight?"
This is who I am, and what I live for, is what her eyes say. Back then, I didn't run away.
For Shinra. No, not that. For…what?
"We are fighting for a reason. By retreating today we are victorious."
Retreating and running away are two different things.
She moves away from him.
He lets her go, his eyes still on hers.
Rematch, when there aren't any distractions? she silently asks.
He gives a stiff, nearly imperceptible nod.
Yes. And you'll lose to me.
Hn. Until then.
And she leaves.
Abruptly, he turns to the Turk. "You, over there."
She jumps a little. Probably from being addressed by "the General."
"I sense an exceptional energy coming from her. Tell your superiors not to take her lightly."
The woman nods, and he goes back the way he came.
"…fighting for a reason…" he mutters under his breath.
A long time ago, she had him why he was living in a lab. Now, she asked him what he fought for.
I don't know, he replies in his mind. Tell me the next time we meet…Elfé.
He wonders if the dye in her hair was permanent.
…This second meeting lasted only five minutes.
They would not meet again for nine years…
By a fairytale's standards, the villain should have been exterminated. He lost his mind, became known as the world's enemy, lost a skinny little kid and died, returned, lost again and died, returned, lost for the third time, and was finally spit out of the Lifestream when Jenova abandoned him. Apparently, Genesis was alive and well and out for revenge. Or maybe it was something to do with LOVELESS. His memories were jumbled, and the past four to five years weren't worth speaking about.
Against the book, though, he was alive.
He tried being a hero, honestly, because he was weary of being looked at differently. People saw his hair and eyes freaked out. They knew what he did, and a part of him realizes that no amount of good he does, they'll never forget the bad he committed.
Well, he did try to destroy the world. Three times. Explanations were no use to a people who didn't understand how mako and Jenova cells worked. Even those who did understand didn't want to forgive him (The skinny little kid had grown up).
It would be better if they just forgot him.
So after everything was resolved, he tries to disappear. As much as he hates to, he dyes his hair and wears coloured contacts and goes to live in Wutai.
Elfé scarcely crosses his mind.
But she remembers him, and tracks him down.
He took up teaching kids swordplay—in honor of the man who taught him how to use a sword to speak proper Wutainese. The occupation is vaguely like his days of old, and it is a good way to make the days pass swiftly.
It's a late afternoon when she shows up at his place. He doesn't recognizes her at first (Black-haired, with an eye-patch), but he can tell that she was military trained. "SOLDIER took girls?" he asks, amused.
"Deepground did," she replies coolly.
Only then does he recognize her. "What made you join the company you once despised?"
"My father, and my own reasons." She leans against the whitewashed wall. "Because AVALANCHE wasn't for me. It was all that fool of a scientist's doing."
"You look like a pirate."
She snorts. "And you look Wutainese."
He was part Wutainese, but that didn't really matter. "Elfé, Argento the Silver…a nice collection of names."
"They're not my real name."
He raises an eyebrow. "Care to tell me, then?"
She pushes away from the wall and unsheathes her sword. "Defeat me, and I'll do that."
He offers a thin, dangerous smile. "And if you win?"
"Get rid of that ridiculous hair and eye color. It doesn't suit you."
With one flick of his hand, he summons Masamune. "Fair enough." He lets her make the first move.
As this is not a formal, to-the-death fight, they draw it out, and neither of them back down. The afternoon sun sets, and disappears beyond the horizon.
Eventually, he wins purely out of stamina and more experience.
They stand motionless, with Masamune pointed to her throat—a little to the left side.
"You tired of this fight, so you ended it quickly," she says.
"You were repeating your moves."
"When did you figure out my weakness?"
"From the moment you walked up to the pathway." He lowers his sword. "I once had an eye injury, and my sensei took advantage of me."
"That old man?"
"He taught me until I entered the SOLDIER program. Then I was told to kill him." His voice is flat.
"You're a murderer."
"Hn. Have you forgotten what you did?"
He picks her sword up and holds it out to her.
"I regret a lot of things." She takes it from him.
"Do you think me an unfeeling, remorseless monster?"
"I'm not accusing you of anything."
"It sounded like it."
"You're too defensive."
He knows that. It came from his childhood years—he set walls up, and no one broke them down.
"Sometimes I wish I had asked if you wanted to come with me."
"Things would have turned out different. For the better."
"You cannot go back."
"It's not wrong to think back, though."
"It doesn't get you anywhere." He has little patience for those who dwelt on the past. It was a trap.
"Don't say that."
"Y—" he begins.
"D—" she interrupts.
They both pause when they realize how familiar this conversation is.
"I never told anyone," he finally says. That you cried.
"If you did, I would never forgive you."
"But you would forgive me of everything else?"
"What do you mean?"
"Tugging on your hair, beating you in our sparring sessions, and putting a dead spider down your neck?"
She glares at him. Had they been younger, he's sure she would have stuck her tongue out.
"Fine. Nearly everything except petty, childish disagreements."
"You're the one being petty."
Silence ensues, and he takes the moment to look at her face. It is changed from the little-girl face in his memory. Long black hair (his is longer) frames her face and covers a scar on her left temple. That ugly eye-patch. Only her remaining eye, grey and restless, was the same.
She notes his perusal and frowns. "At least take the contacts out for now. You look odd with them."
He slowly complies, stuffing them in a box and tucking that away in a pocket.
"Why Argento the Silver?" he questions.
"When I decided to join, I needed another name. I chose 'Argento' because it meant silver." She looks away, fingering the hilt of her sword. "Because I thought you were dead."
"I was dead."
"I didn't expect you to resurrect three times."
"You made an impression on me." She speaks frankly. "When I first met you, I thought you were a scientist's experiment gone wrong. But it bothered me because your life wasn't a normal one."
"You felt sorry for me."
She ignores this. "I never forgot you. Out of all the people, how many understood your circumstances? And out of those people, how many are still alive?"
"What are you trying to say?" Bemused, he tries to make sense of her train of thought.
"I cared about you. I respected you." She looks up at him. "And I still do, Sephiroth."
And he understands what she's saying.
"When I was little, I beat up boys because they called me 'sissy.' When I reached Cosmos Canyon, I fought everyone who stood in my way. When I was a Tsviet, I killed those that challenged me. But everyone around me still died. My mother, Sears, my subordinates—" Her voice wavers, just a little. "And I thought that you were gone, too."
Did I matter that much to you?
Unsure what to make of this, he looks away. "I suppose this is the moment when the lovers kiss and make up," he says sarcastically, breaking the serious atmosphere. "And in a couple of days, they marry."
"You don't seem like the person to kiss," she replies, just as sarcastically. "Or marry."
"You ought to have known that I don't die that easily."
"Normal humans only have one life."
"I lived three already. All of them wasted."
"And this one?"
"Already no good." He straightens up and walks toward her.
"No good?" She doesn't move, not even when his face is inches from her nose.
"My damn past won't leave me in peace." And he leans in and roughly kisses her, watching as her eyes widen. She resists him, a little, and he responds with a hand on her shoulder to keep her from moving.
When he steps back, her face is red. "You—you—" she sputters.
"Isn't it what you wanted?"
"No. It wasn't even a proper kiss."
"Then what did you want?"
"I wanted nothing."
He gives her a look. "No? Then what about the things you said?"
"A 'thank you' would have been good enough."
A soft chuckle. "So…you are saying that I should be thanking you for worrying about me." He notes the way she clenches her hands into fists. "Trying to order me around like one of your subordinates doesn't work, Ex-Tsviet."
"You're doing the same thing, Ex-General."
"Consider that kiss a thank you, then."
"I think you just wanted to do that."
"It was a thank you, nothing more."
"You're a bastard."
"Maybe, but you're a terrorist."
"How about…we're a pair of lost legacies?"
Angeal used to talk for hours on legacy and honour. But that speech wasn't for him. "I would rather prefer the term 'forgotten,'" he replies.
"I know what you did," she says, "you tried to help."
"I wasn't appreciated." And he didn't care. He's had enough of seeing his name everywhere. "And I don't think you would be, either."
By now, the sun is completely gone.
"We're…just the losers, aren't we?"
His acknowledgement to this is a shrug.
"What are you going to do now?"
He gestures. "What I was doing before you came."
"Frightening children and corrupting them?"
"Such a couth way of putting it."
"You don't go easy on them."
"Of course not. Would you?"
"I'm thinking about doing the same thing."
"So you'll steal my business."
"What if I worked with you?" she asks. "You don't know how to train girls."
He understands. "You just to keep me close to you."
She begins to defend herself, then sighs. "You're too blunt."
"Hn. I thought you were also blunt, Elfé."
"So that's your true name?" He pauses. "It doesn't suit you." In Ancient, it meant lucky and successful. "You're not feminine enough for it."
Her eye glints. "Not feminine enough?" She raises her hand as if to strike him. "Y—"
"I don't know Felicia," he interrupts, "I'm hardly acquainted with Argento." He catches her wrist. "But I do know Elfé, and I prefer Elfé above the others."
Her fingers curl into a fist. "Stop mocking me."
"Am I? I'm just being blunt."
"Then why don't you be most blunt and tell me why you kissed me?"
He steps closer. "This isn't about love. It's not about lust, either," he notes the tense way she holds herself. "It's about control and respect."
Love and lust…two emotions that seem to consume the world. But he's never been one for those emotions. It's control and respect that matter to him. Control because he cannot be seen as weak, and respect because to earn his respect is not an easy thing.
"You're one of the few people I respect. Don't ruin it now by acting like a girl in denial."
"You just want to control me."
"No, you won't let me." He cups her chin and tips it to the side so that he can see the scar on the left temple. "People either were in awe of me, feared me, or hated me."
"I've always seen you as an equal."
"There are only five people I consider equals." He holds up a hand, counting them off. He doesn't like admitting he has equals, but neither does he shy away from the truth. "Genesis. Angeal. Zack. Cloud." His fingers trace the scar and linger over the eye-patch. "And Elfé."
She doesn't move at his touch. "Good to hear that," she answers tersely.
"I accept your offer."
"Working with me."
She smirks. "I won't cook your meals."
"And I won't do your laundry," He returns her smirk. "And expenses are split."
Her fingers touch his hand, and he realizes he's still gripping her wrist. Her fingers are still rough and callused like his, but they are smaller and far warmer.
Maybe he was capable loving…a little. Or maybe he was twisting admiration and respect together. He doesn't dare trust his feelings right now.
"Tell me something, Sephiroth. Why are you alive? And give me a real answer this time."
He considers this.
Why are you here?
Why are you fighting?
Why are you alive?
"You tell me, Elfé."
I was waiting for you to give me the right answer.
This time, he kisses her for real.
Even if he doesn't do relationships, and neither does she, it's not impossible for them.
It's because his life is not a fairytale.
Not even close.
… When they did meet again, it was under better circumstances.
On Elfé and Argento:
After staring at the official pictures for a good five minutes, I'm pretty sure Elfé and Argento have the same eye color. Both use a sword, and while I had to guess Argento's personality, it's not hard to imagine that she might be Elfé. As for Elfé's past as AVALANCHE, the old AVALANCHE (not Barret's) was more obsessed with killing people. It was led by Fuhito (who is nearly as crazy as Hojo), and it's purposes weren't as nice as Barret's AVALANCHE (they didn't care how many people they killed). So maybe once Elfé figured out that she was Felicia, the daughter of the Veld, who was a Turk…things could happen after Tseng pretended to execute them. I've tried to keep this mostly canon, and probably the only far-fetched ideas in this story are Elfé-and-Argento are the same person, and what happens to Sephiroth and Genesis in post-DC. Reformed!Seph is probably never going to happen. T.T Anyway, I've hoped that I've made this fic realistic/believable.
Information comes from:
Final Fantasy Wiki – Main information
Gunshot Romance – Nearly complete script of Before Crisis
Final Fantasy Web Novel site – A mostly completed run-through of Before Crisis
Final Fantasy NeoSeeker - Character information says Hojo was the one who implanted the summon materia in Elfé.
Final Fantasy Compilation (UK site) - Character information says Hojo was the one who implanted the summon materia in Elfé.
TheLifestream Dot Net – For the essay "The Darkness of Shinra—Deepground History." Fascinating essay, provides a lot of insight into Deepground and Argento.
A/N: I'm probably alone in this pairing. Who knows; maybe others will write it now.