Author's Note: Beware the angst. I got this idea watching the ending of Crisis Core on YouTube. So don't expect a happy ending.

Warnings: Character Death, Gore, Violence

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A New Hero

There were only three left. Three. Out of all the hundreds who had stood in challenge. All he had to do was lift his sword. A single blade-beam would kill them all. Then he could rest. Heal. He could go back to his lover—hidden safely amongst the rocks.

The helicopter swooped low over his head, trying in vain to intimidate him. He refused to be cowed. He was stronger than that.

The infantrymen grew bold, stepping into the reach of his blade. Rifles were raised, but they hesitated.

They were gloating, he realized. Gloating in their assumed victory. Mocking his vulnerability.

Masamune swung and struck. The blow should have felled the smaller man, but the Infantryman only stumbled, his arm bleeding profusely.

No, he thought. Why didn't you fall!?

Pain lanced through him as three bullets lodged under his ribs. He staggered, but refused to allow his knees to buckle. He raised Masamune once more, charging it with blue light. This would be it. They would— More bullets, this time behind him. Blood was seeping down his back, painting his silver hair scarlet. His breath caught in his lungs. Gunfire rang again and there was more pain. Now in his side.

His mind was swimming in agony, and it was then that his own mortality hit him. He was dying. He could feel it and there was nothing he could do.

One of the infantrymen—a small, slight boy—opened up in earnest. A full clip emptied into Sephiroth's right flank, bullets riddling his thigh, hip, and shoulder. With an entirely involuntary howl of pain, he fell. His knees hit the dirt, and he nearly keeled over completely. He coughed and choked, blood splattering the rocks—pouring from his mouth as he grit his teeth against the pain.

Then he felt it. Power was charging within his chest. Magical power.

It was a limit break. The one thing that could save him. It would kill the infantrymen and restore him, at least enough for him to survive.

The power built and turned warm and fiery… like Genesis.

His vision blurred and the desert morphed into a fuzzy recollection. The redhead's eyes, blue as the sky … His lips upturned in a smile … Their first meeting … Those dainty hands holding that book as if it were a shield … "It's not a funny name." … "Will you kiss me?" … His face, flushed with exertion as he panted beneath him … That same face filled with fear as he blocked a powerful blow, begging him to fight her … their hands entwined … kissing under the Banoran moon …

The power reached its peak. Black clouds began to swirl overhead, a purple glow surrounding him. Lines of violet light began tracing themselves on the earth.

Apocalypse. Genesis' most powerful limit break. The one he'd taught Sephiroth long ago.

"I love you…"

Just as the magic would have risen up to shield and heal him, he heard three rifles open fire. Bullets tore his flesh and the magic was gone. The clouds dissipated; the lines vanishing.

No!… Sephiroth thought. No, it's not fair!

The last few bullets threw him backwards into the muddy water—blood turning it crimson. The heavy grey clouds moved slowly overhead, drifting by so calmly. So calmly… For a moment, everything became still and quiet.

Sephiroth stared up into the sky, cat slits focusing on nothing in particular. Blackness crept in at the edges of his vision. His breathing was shallow and ragged. It felt like his lungs were full of liquid… It was probably blood.

At least the pain was receding. The all-consuming agony he'd felt only a moment before was fading to a dull throb. Distant and unimportant.

All he could think of was Genesis. What would he do? Who was going to protect him?

He didn't hear the footsteps in the wet mud until the Infantryman came into view over him. A gloved hand moved and pushed the heavy helmet from a boyish face. A face surrounded by a halo of golden hair; set with the bluest eyes Sephiroth had seen on anyone not in SOLDIER.

He vaguely recognized the boy. He was Zack's little tag-along—Strife, wasn't it?

The blond leaned down, grasping a fistful of silver hair. The muzzle of his rifle jabbed painfully into Sephiroth's stomach. He managed to focus his vision as Strife jerked his head so their eyes met.

"This is for Nibelheim," the boy hissed, and then Sephiroth's world dissolved into a blaze of light, noise, and agony. No sound left his throat through the gush of blood as the boy emptied another clip from his rifle—point blank.

When he could no longer feel his legs, Sephiroth knew his spine had been hit. He was certain it was more than likely severed completely.

With his last strength he looked at Cloud. "I'm… sorry… I would… have stopped her… if I could."

The rage in the boy's eyes gave way to confusion, then uncertainty. As it morphed to horror, Sephiroth's world turned black.

**************

Rain was pelting down when Genesis woke. He was leaned against a jagged chunk of sandstone. Nothing moved around him.

"Seph?" he called, his voice wavering with disuse. His throat was tight and dry.

He remembered enough through the Mako haze to know that they'd escaped Shinra Manor. He recalled scraps of their journey… jungle and meadow… Sephiroth's voice, muffled and distant… a bumpy ride in a yellow pickup… It had been midday when Sephiroth had left him here. But it was dark now, the horizon lighter in the east.

Gods… had he been here all night?

Flickers of memory flashed through his mind. The sound of a helicopter… Gunshots… A howl of pain and grief… Sephiroth…

Oh, Goddess… no!

Genesis tried to move but his legs and arms felt like lead. He was perfectly alert, but his body was still weighed down by the effects of the Mako poisoning. With a grunt of frustration he rolled to the muddy earth, pushing himself along unsteadily. Every movement was a monumental effort. But it was getting easier with each shove—his body shrugging off the radioactive substance within it.

He moved beyond the rocks and was struck by a hellish view. Blood soaked the ground, the coppery tang choking him. Spent rounds littered the earth like a starfield. There were bodies everywhere; twisted and broken. Throats slit and entrails spilled from thin cuts. Burns and frostbite and other evidence of magic marred the corpses, motionless and pale.

It was like Wutai all over again. Following the macabre trail of the Silver Dragon.

Genesis dragged himself through the mire, ignoring the mud and gore that clung to him, and the overpowering scent of death. He moved as fast as he could with his body so sluggish. There was a flash of silver on the edge of the bluff and Genesis wanted to get there. Fast.

More than once he fell, splashing himself with wet earth. The rain cleaned his leathers well enough, but the sweater was soaked and dripping.

He reached the bluff and gasped. Sephiroth was lying flat on his back in a pool of blood, his coat shot full of ragged holes. Blood streaked his face and flowed from his mouth. More streamed from his abdomen; where a great gaping hole and vicious burns attested to a full clip—point blank.

The great General was pale as a ghost, his lips colourless. His eyes stared off into nothingness and had it not been for the steady rise and fall of his chest, Genesis would have believed him already dead.

He pulled himself up to Sephiroth's side. It took a frustrating amount of effort to push himself onto his knees.

"Seph?"

Feline eyes flicked to Genesis' face and filled with warmth. He was trembling and a lump formed in Genesis' throat.

"Why?" Genesis choked. "Why did you—?"

"Because I… love you." Sephiroth struggled to speak, his breathing shallow. Pain washed his face. "You saved me… from her…"

"You didn't have to…"

"They… would have… killed you."

Genesis felt something warmer than rain streaking his cheeks and futilely swiped it away. Sephiroth bitterly smiled and shifted, dragging Masamune up and shoving it into Genesis' hands. "My honour… My glory… They're yours now…"

"What?! No!" Genesis protested. "I don't want them… I want you!"

"Gen…"

"Seph, no!"

Genesis tried to push the massive katana back into Sephiroth's grasp, but the silver General refused to take it. He coughed frothy blood and managed to force out "Be… my living… legacy."

No words left Genesis' mouth as he began to sob. A single black-gloved hand settled on the back of Genesis' auburn head, pulling him down until they were forehead to forehead. Sephiroth pressed a soft kiss to the other man's lips; smiling slightly as the redhead started to kiss back.

"I love you," Genesis wept.

"I love you too, Gen."

When Genesis moved back to look at him once more, Sephiroth felt his muscles give out; his hand affectionately brushing his lover's cheek on the way down to the mud. The last thing he saw as his world turned black forever was a pair of the bluest eyes.

The colour of the Wutaian sky…

"Seph?"

Genesis watched Sephiroth go still. The choking breaths ceased; his eyes going dark. Feline pupils relaxed. The pulse in his powerful neck fluttered to a stop. He gasped, pain rushing through him as if he'd been dealt a physical blow. He wanted Seph to move. Wanted him to blink and shake it off like he had so many times before. But the Silver Dragon didn't stir. He was gone.

Genesis trembled, choked by the lump in his throat. Before he could make any effort to prevent it, a scream left his throat. An involuntary howl of denial and pain.

Grief, rage, despair, and hate swirled in his chest. He wanted to see Shinra burn. He wanted to see President Shinra torn limb from limb and left to die in his own blood. He wanted to catch the worthless piece of shit that had filled Sephiroth full of bullets. He wanted to kill him. Slowly.

"You are no monster, my love. No matter what that sorry excuse for a Doctor tells you." … "I love you, Gen." … Warm, soft flesh shifted beneath his palm … A smile flicked across a peacefully sleeping face … Long fingers played through his auburn hair … "Gods… the town… I'm so sorry… Gen…" … "When this war's over we should get married." … "We should." …

"Good night, Gen."

Genesis leaned down; kissing Sephiroth's cold lips, lingering for a moment, knowing the kiss would be their last. When he finally tore himself away and rose, he took Masamune with him. It's massive weight a comfort in his hands. All that was left of him…

"I won't forget…" he whispered, tears still streaming from his eyes. "Good night, Seph."

With that, he forced himself to turn away, dragging the considerable length of Masamune behind him through the mud, his arms not yet ready to carry it. It took all his strength to resist the urge to scramble back to Sephiroth's side and stay there until he died—of thirst, of hunger, of a broken heart. It mattered not.

But Sephiroth wouldn't have wanted that. He'd made a promise. And he would keep it.

Feet sliding in the wet earth, Genesis set his sights on Midgar. On Shinra. He would have his vengeance, and the Planet hers. He would not rest until Sephiroth had been avenged and Shinra lay in ruins.

Even if the morrow is barren of promises, nothing shall forestall my return.