Main Pairing: Established Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud
Canon: FFVII (original game only) + Fullmetal Alchemist (bits from both anime and manga)
Rating/Warnings: Light R – alchemical torture, some sexuality, meandering thoughts on alchemy and philosophy, general unhappiness.
Summary: It wasn't like Hojo had left clear instructions on how to reverse a sacrifice to the Gate.
Note: Though this is a crossover, the focus is on Sephiroth, Zack, and Cloud, who have their own situation entirely separate from the Elrics'. Rather than being a 'proper' story, this is just going to be a series of oneshots pertaining to the same plotline. The title comes from a passage in the book by Robert Allen Bartlett, Real Alchemy.
I have no excuse for this save a late-night crack conversation with artimusdin. *headdesk*
Living Chemical Child
I. Terra Damnata.
(n.): "Damned earth," Lat. The leftover distillate from the distillation
process, which is considered devoid of any Sulfurous or Mercurial
nature. This lack makes the Physical matter inert and incapable of
higher alchemical evolution.
Water, thirty-five liters. Carbon, twenty kilograms. Ammonia, four liters. Lime, one-point-five kilograms. Phosphorus, eight hundred grams. Salt, two hundred fifty grams. Saltpeter, one hundred grams. Sulfur, eighty grams. Fluorine, seven-point five grams. Iron, five grams. Silicon, three grams. Trace amounts of fifteen other elements.
Human soul: unknown. Individual spirit: unknown.
At least the body was still breathing. Didn't need to worry about committing the greatest sin, didn't…need to transmute human flesh. Just needed the other two parts that combined to make an otherwise useless body into Cloud.
Stop. Back up.
Water, thirty-five liters. All the other elements that composed a human body present and accounted for. Technically, said body was in perfect working order: the heart beat, the lungs breathed, core temperature was still ninety-eight-point-six degrees Fahrenheit. There was no discoloration, putrefaction, or other signs of wasting, which meant that the IVs were doing their job of keeping the body fed and hydrated.
The problem was that there was nothing inside, and Sephiroth – he wasn't. Didn't know what to do. Was helpless in a way that he'd never been before, and just. He didn't know what to do.
Sephiroth set down yet another of his father's journals with forced patience. The way Hojo worked, he rarely put down the entirety of his experiments, only just enough to keep track of what happened and when, but never why, never enough detail for someone to replicate those experiments. Paranoid bastard. And there were so many journals to go through, some dating back to the time before Sephiroth's birth, and who knew which one contained the line of research that had led Hojo to this point? Did a madman even need a straight progression of logic and careful analysis?
It took a monumental effort to tear himself away from Hojo's desk – if only he kept looking just a little longer, he might find the answer, however unlikely – and he paced restlessly back into the lab that adjoined the library, feeling his breath catch in his chest. Cloud lay so still on the table, so small and thin with the IV tubes leading from the bends of his elbows, so unlike what he was when awake and moving and being his stubborn, quiet, loyal self.
Need to move him, he shouldn't have to stay in this lab. It was the laboratory of a doctor more concerned with efficiency than compassion, all sharp edges and surgical steel, and even though Sephiroth had grown up in these surroundings, even he knew that it wasn't healthy. Wasn't right. He sat on the edge of the table and ran a hand through the tips of Cloud's hair, unable to handle a firmer touch when he knew he wouldn't get a response.
He continued petting the edges of spiky yellow hair silently, not looking up when Zack entered still in full uniform. There was a long silence before the soldier said softly, "I convinced the brass that you're working on your annual assessment a bit ahead of schedule. Central Command should excuse your absence for a while."
Sephiroth didn't respond. He heard the rustling and soft thud as Zack slipped the Buster sword's harness off, leaning the weapon against the wall before walking over to put a hand on Sephiroth's shoulder. He didn't ask obvious questions of did you find anything, what do you think is going on, just fixed his expression into the hard determination that had gotten him through the end of the Ishbal war.
"We already know Hojo was trying to reach the Gate, Sephiroth. It's a start. We'll figure out how to get Cloud back."
"He was a sacrifice," and for a moment Sephiroth felt a fury that was rare, but when it came, it was black and vengeful and destructive. "He was a sacrifice and I don't – "
Stop. Before setting the world on fire started sounding like a brilliant idea.
The grip Zack had on his shoulder tightened to something painful. "Equivalent exchange. If we can figure out what Hojo might've gotten in return, we may be able to reverse the deal."
Sephiroth made a disbelieving sound as he started stroking Cloud's hair once more. Cloud didn't wake up.