Final Fantasy VII: Parallels
Plot Synopsis: What if Sephiroth had retained some portion of his sanity after learning the truth of his birth? Genesis becomes the One-Winged Angel. A different take on FFVII.
Author's Note: Just an idea that popped into my head after watching Crisis Core cutscenes in which Sephiroth truly seemed to care about Zack. Will eventually go into Advent Children and Dirge Of Cerberus, but with minor (or major) changes. I don't know how far this will go, but I'll do my best to keep Sephiroth in character, without making out to be the horror he was in the original game. He was badass as a villian, and he's going to be badass here, too! Oh, and I'm trying to write in shorter chapters, so that they'll be easier read--and write:)
Author's NoteII: Beta'd by the the ever-so-wonderful Littlehouseinthewoods!
493 Years Earlier, Nibelheim Reactor
He stared dazedly at his black-clad hands, millions of thoughts chasing themselves inside his silver-blond head, an endless cycle that his tormented mind could barely comprehend. Could it be true? he asked himself silently. Could he really be nothing more than a monster produced by Hojo's madness? Was this truly his special purpose?!
The hero known throughout the world only as Sephiroth slowly closed his hands, fists forming as he sought to deny what he was very much afraid was the truth of himself. "Am I. . .a human being?"
"No such luck." A smooth voice filled the vast outer chamber of Nibelheim mako reactor, one that was all too familiar, and had once belonged to someone that he had called 'friend'. "You are a monster."
The fireball seemed to explode out of nowhere, but Sephiroth was prepared for it. He had seen this particular trick before. He raised his left hand in an almost absent gesture, a protective spell dissipating the flame before he could even feel its heat. A strangled grunt of pain sounded somewhere to his left as a blur of motion swept past him, and he knew that Zack had taken a hit. But he had faith in Angeal's puppy, enough to know that the boy could handle himself, should the need arise. For now, it was all he could do to keep himself rooted on this side of sanity.
"Sephiroth." Sephiroth heard the grotesque flap of one feathery wing, but he didn't turn around. He could well imagine the smug expression that graced the other SOLDIER'S too-pretty features--he didn't need to see it. He could only stand there, rooted in place, as his usually devilish intellect failed him. "You were the greatest monster created by the Jenova Project."
"Genesis!" He could see Zack out of the corner of his eyes, clutching his middle as he attempted to stand. "So, you're alive!"
"I suppose I am," he heard the infinitesimal pause, the faint scrape of leather on flesh, "if you can call this living."
Sephiroth tensed, his every sense trained on the abomination who had been his friend. "What is the Jenova Project?" he asked at last, not because he truly wanted to know, but because he needed to.
"The Jenova Project was the term used for all experiments relating to the use of Jenova's cells," came the less than helpful response.
His mother's name, Sephiroth thought dimly. He turned to look at the broken storage container, and the monster lying motionless at its base. "My mother's. . . cells," he murmured aloud.
"Poor little Sephiroth." In a mocking gesture that echoed the sarcasm in his voice, Genesis spread his arms out wide. "You've never actually met your mother," he said musingly. He lowered himself to the stairs, tilted his head to the right, and flashed one of his most winsome smiles. "You've only been told her name, no?"
Sephiroth remained silent, not out of arrogance, but simply because he could no longer speak. Genesis watched him closely, those azure eyes full of spite, and spoke again. "I don't know what images you've conjured up in your head, but. . ."
"Genesis, no!" Zack yells, and Sephiroth knew that the puppy was scared for him.
Jenova," Genesis' voice became more forceful, "was excavated from a two-thousand year old rock stratum."
The rogue SOLDIER paused, the smile deepening, as he added, "She is a monster."
No. A rough sound escaped Sephiroth as he took one step back, then another, shaking his head as denial screamed through him. All his life, he had wondered about his parentage. He had never taken Hojo's sly hints seriously, knowing that there was no way in hell that he could ever be related to that sniveling little worm of a man. But he had wondered about his mother, just who Jenova was, what she had been like before his birth had stolen her life. But this. . .this simply could not be!
"Sephiroth, I need your help." The smile disappeared as Genesis rose to his feet, his expression all too solemn, as he played on a friendship he had long ago forsaken. "My body is continuing to degrade."
Left unspoken was the knowledge that Genesis was dying, his body rejecting the Jenova cells it had been implanted with as a fetus. None of Hollander's treatments had helped. He was degrading much faster than anyone could have anticipated, and it would not be long before his body failed him completely. A part of Sephiroth couldn't help but mourn the loss. He had once cared for this selfish, flamboyant man, his brother-in-arms, his fellow SOLDIER. Like Angeal, he had done everything in his power to bring Genesis back into the fold, even though the mad SOLDIER had turned his back on them all. Now, it was simply too late.
He turned away, no longer willing to play the other man's game. Genesis had destroyed his world with a few careful, well-chosen words, and now he had the nerve to ask for his help? It was the only rational thought to survive the rage burning within him, a fire that he struggled desperately to control.
"SOLDIER 1st Class Sephiroth!"
Sephiroth snapped to attention, the response so ingrained that he couldn't prevent it. He heard the fall of the other man's boots as he descended the stairs with slow, sure steps. "Jenova Project G gave birth to Angeal. . ." Genesis stopped a few feet away, spreading his hands in an overly dramatic, typically flamboyant gesture, "and monsters like myself."
For a moment, Sephiroth wished that his peripheral vision wasn't quite so good as he watched Genesis extend his right hand in an all too familiar fashion. Sephiroth knew what was coming, and suddenly, he hated the man for it. "Jenova Project S--"
"S?" Zack gasped, and Sephiroth knew that he had finally pieced it together.
"--used the remains of countless failed experiments to create a perfect monster," Genesis continued as though he hadn't spoken.
Sephiroth only shook his head, weary in a way that had nothing to do with physical exhaustion. "What do want of me?" he asked flatly.
"Your traits cannot be copied onto others. Your genes can't be diffused." Bitterness literally dripped from that one word, and Sephiroth winced inwardly as it pierced his heart. "Therefore," the other man continued, "your body cannot degrade."
Genesis stepped forward, up and to the left of him, making sure that he is in his line of vision, before speaking again. "Share your cells with me."
Sephiroth felt a sudden impulse to laugh, but he knew that it wouldn't be a sane sound. He struggled to keep his silence, knowing that madness was only a word or two away. He could only pray that Genesis, who had always been so good exploiting the weaknesses of others, would not find those words today.
Disappointed by his lack of response, Genesis once again extended his hand, only this time, it wasn't empty. The White Banora apple, once the pride of the Rhapsodos family, sat on his trembling palm. This was his last chance to save himself. If Sephiroth turned from him, he would never have what he so desperately needed--his humanity restored to him.
"My friend, your desire is the bringer of life, the gift of the goddess."
Loveless, Sephiroth thought with a rush of rage. Genesis had just shattered his world forever, and he was quoting that damned poem, as though nothing had changed. Pale green eyes, cat-like in both shape and clarity, rose to his. Sephiroth gazed from him to the proffered fruit, finally understanding just what it was that Genesis wanted from him. He wanted to be saved--from himself.
And Sephiroth found that he wanted to do it. Even now, after Angeal and the bridge he had built between them was gone, he wanted nothing more than to find a way to bring Genesis back from the brink of self-destruction. A foolish notion, perhaps, but he couldn't deny it. He truly wanted to save the rogue SOLDIER, self-absorbed pain in the ass though he was. The only question was whether or not Genesis would allow himself to be saved.
Sephiroth lifted his head, his gaze going to the sealed door that housed the monster he had spent his life calling 'Mother', as he silently searched for the right words to reach his former comrade. Then, for the first time, he felt it. The heavy feeling of his mind as it was invaded, the layers of his consciousness peeled back, laid bare before the monster who waited to claim him. In a matter of seconds, he was granted a glimpse of the future, and he was horrified.
Flames, spreading everywhere, consuming the charming little hamlet called Nibelheim. A sword--his very own Masamune--covered in blood as he strikes down those who survive the inferno. Jenova's voice is like a song in his head, haunting, agonizing, as she urges him to break the few ties that bind him to his world.
Zack, dying by his own hand, struck down by the one person he believed he could trust. The other, the young Shrinra grunt with the odd blond hair, running him through even as he kills him. His own death follows as he grasps the monster's head and dives into the heart of the mako reactor, sacrificing his own life to feed hers.
And at the heart of it all is not Jenova, but Genesis. Clad no longer in his brilliant reds, but in shining black leather, those azure eyes glow with raw power, that damned angelic wing flung out in victory. Godlike, both striking and utterly terrifying, like the Goddess he serves, laying waste to The Planet that bore him.
In those few seconds, Sephiroth was forever changed. He would never again be the same arrogant SOLDIER who feared nothing and lived only for the next mission, the next challenge laid at his feet by his Shrinra masters. Now, he had seen the face of malevolence, the true visage of evil, and he finally knew what his 'special purpose' was.
Genesis could not be saved, no matter how much he might wish otherwise. The man had already chosen his path. Even if Sephiroth did as he asked and shared his cells with him, Genesis would seek his Goddess, and in his quest for self-fulfillment, he would doom them all.
He looked back at Genesis, so smug, so sure of himself in his own arrogance, and fought the urge to strike him down where he stood. It would hardly be sporting to kill an unarmed man, especially after promising Angeal that he would do all in his power to save him. What came later, however, was another matter entirely. And though it broke the heart that he was purported to lack, he had no choice but to doom the other man to death and obscurity if he wanted to save himself, and the world around him.
"Whether your words are lies created to deceive me," he met and held the other man's gaze, "or the truth that I have sought all my life. . .It makes no difference." In a sudden, unexpected movement, he lashed out and knocked the apple from Genesis' hand. "You will rot."
Those azure eyes widened slightly as he turned away, and his own footsteps echoed through the reactor as he walked away. "I see," the other man murmured behind him. "Perfect monster, indeed."
And not unexpectedly, Genesis' voice followed him, singing an altogether familiar, heartbreaking tune. "When the war of the beasts brings about the world's end, the Goddess descends from the sky. Wings of light and dark spread afar. She guides us to bliss. . .her gift everlasting."
The hollow sound of Genesis' boots on the walkway behind him echoed through the reactor, as did Zack's, "No, stop!"
Sephiroth was unsure just who it was the boy appealed to, he or Genesis, but it truly didn't matter. He hesitated for a moment, wishing that he could find the words to reassure the boy, but his voice failed him. He kept walking, knowing that Shinra Mansion, the heart of the Jenova Project, would give him the answers he sought. Zack would follow, of that he had no doubt. But for now, he must have his answers.
Zack stared dumbly after Genesis as he walked into the shadows, the sound of feathers sweeping the air marking his passage, and was suddenly afraid of the future. He had never seen Sephiroth act that way before. The legend he had worshipped had always seemed so strong, so. . .infallible. Instead, Genesis had revealed that he was only a man, one with strengths and weaknesses like any other, and he had exploited them with very little effort.
He glanced to the fallen apple, wishing that he knew just what it was supposed to mean. He remembered Angeal's words back in Wutai, how he had spoken of dreams and honor, but Angeal had always gone on about them. He knew that the stupid apple was significant, but he wasn't quite sure why.
For now, it was enough that he finally understood just why Angeal had done what he had. Like Genesis, and now--he feared--Sephiroth, he had believed himself to be a monster, tainted by the circumstances of his birth. Would Sephiroth go mad, as Genesis obviously had, or would he turn all of his self-hatred inward? Gawd, but he'd never stand a chance against Sephiroth in battle! If his hero forced him into a confrontation, he would lose.
Zack glanced back at the dead monster, the creature that Hojo had created, then at the sealed entrance of the reactor's core. If Genesis had been telling the truth, then Sephiroth's mother was in there, probably hooked up to a bunch of machines, like some kind of mindless thing. He really, really hoped that Genesis had lied, for Sephiroth's sake. He never wanted to see his hero like that ever again.
He thought about following Sephiroth, then quickly discarded the idea. He'd give the other man a little time alone first. He'd go back to the inn, check on Cloud, and get a little sleep. After a nap, he'd find Sephiroth and--somehow--he would find the words to reach him. He could only pray that he'd be successful, because the alternative wasn't too pretty.