Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.
Plot Synopsis: SephirothxKuja, my two favorite Final Fantasy villains brought together. Beyond that. . .I'll let you know =) Beta'd once again by the incomparable Littlehouseinthewoods!
Author's Note: This story will contain no tail or wing kink, so please, don't ask. That said, I hope you enjoy the beginning of this tale—no pun intended =). I'm posting the first two chapters at once, so I'll thank you in advance for any reviews I might receive. Oh, and Merry Christmas, everyone!
Final Fantasy: Final Requiem
He glided gracefully over the Tree's many leaves, a slender figure adorned in billowing waves of pearl-sheened silk. Hard-soled boots whispered over an uneven carpet of vines and roots, the spongy ground beneath all but buried under their gnarled lengths. He reached out with slim, elegant hands, violet-tipped nails just barely brushing the smaller leaves which sprung from the devastated growths. He felt a tinge of sadness as he observed the changes, the feeling accompanied—as always—by a heavy mantle of guilt. While he had long ago become accustomed to this uneven, battle-born terrain, he remembered what it had been like before, and he mourned the damage wrought by a madman's selfish, destructive ambition.
The Ilfa Tree had once been a truly magnificent sight to behold. Taller than any manmade structure, with branches as large as any of Gaia's Mist-powered air ships, its pod-like leaves could easily harbor said ships en mass. The Tree still dominated the surrounding landscape, but its magnificence had been horribly dimmed, and only time would tell if it could one day be recaptured.
This sacred place, once so beautiful, was little more than an attractive prison now. One which he had more than earned, Kuja Tribal reminded himself with a sigh. Pride, conceit, rebellion, madness, and—of course—his insatiable ambition had done this, had all but destroyed the Tree through which all of Gaia's souls must pass. He couldn't blame his former master, dead by his own hand, for setting him on his destructive course. He couldn't even blame the one he called brother for failing to stop him before it went too far. He, and no other, was responsible for this. . .this utter travesty of life before him.
He paused at the edge of one large leaf, his narrowed azure eyes seeing not the stunning sunset before him, but the past he was here to atone for. He had been strong, the most powerful of his kind, a Genome unlike any other, created for the sole purpose of death and destruction. He was the embodiment of chaos, a destroyer of worlds, a reaper of souls, an Angel of Death.
He was also a failure.
Kuja sighed deeply, the sound heavy with a regret that had once been foreign to him. He could not go back in time and change the past, no matter how greatly he longed to. He had been made to dominate, to kill—if only for a limited span of time—and he had fulfilled his purpose all too well. He was very much afraid that—if given the chance—he would once again succumb to the temptations of power, and open his arms to the dark art of death.
Kuja wrapped his white-clad arms around his exposed middle, shivering with a cold that had little to do with the encroaching night. He didn't want to go back to the man he'd once been, cold, arrogant, and much too confident in himself. He had taken what he wanted, with little care for the devastation he left behind in his wake. He had taken lovers at will, never feeling anything more than a temporary physical infatuation for his partners, even while taking everything that they had in return. He had been a charming, empty shell of a man, and no amount of borrowed souls could ever have changed that.
The silence of the Ilifa Tree began to grate on his nerves, and Kuja had to grit his teeth to maintain his sense of calm. He positively loathed the quiet here. He couldn't believe how much he missed simply being around other people. He'd always regarded humans with contempt, believing them to be well beneath him, even as he basked in the attention that they all lavished on him. He was beautiful, educated, seductive, and powerful. The weak humans which populated Gaia had all but fallen at his feet, his to do with as he'd wished. He had rarely lacked companionship, and had found more of it than even he had believed possible.
Sex would be nice, though, he thought with another sigh. His beauty, which was as undeniable as it was unusual, had once drawn both men and women alike. Like moths to the proverbial flame they had sought him out, offering their bodies—and oftentimes more—seemingly desperate in their bids to gain his affection. He had never quite understood it, but he had taken advantage of it, and had reveled in every pleasure-drenched moment of it.
And yet, for all of that, he had died alone.
Kuja shivered, only absently noting the chill in the air as he thought about the past. Zidane had tried to save him, even though he'd had no reason to. The younger brother Kuja had always resented had returned to the Ilifa Tree, his intention to rescue his mortally-wounded brother. Kuja had sent the young thief away, using the last of his spiritual strength to teleport Zidane to safety. He had accepted his impending death as his due, and had faced it with as much dignity as was possible, under the circumstances. He had closed his eyes, drew what he had known would be his last breath, and had awakened here, in the very spot where he now stood. His health had been miraculously restored, his powers unfettered, and here he had chosen to remain.
He still didn't know why he had been spared, or who had done the sparing, nor did he care. He hadn't tried to escape, nor had he railed against his fate—well, not too much, anyway. This was where he belonged, chained to the souls of those he had once thought to rule. Perhaps, someday, he would learn who had spared him and why, but it was truly of no consequence. He was a prisoner, but not an unwilling one.
Kuja shook his head, sending long ribbons of violet-streaked silver hair into his face. He reached up with a delicate hand to push it away, turning his thoughts to more pleasant things. Like the slivers of Crystal which now dotted the overgrown landscape of the Ilifa Tree. In his madness, he had shattered the Crystal, his intention to doom Gaia to the same fate as he. Instead, it had exploded, and the remains had somehow made their way here, to the tree of life itself. Some of the pieces were too small—or damaged—to reflect anything on their flawed exteriors, but the few that weren't. . .
Occasionally, these scattered shards would begin to glow, and on their scarred, pitted surfaces he would catch glimpses of the unknown. He was shown places and people he didn't recognize, but suspected were other worlds. Sometimes there were unknown creatures—blue skinned, spear-toting behemoths, for example—and other times there were chocobos crowned with colors he had never before seen. Even more rarely, he was given the gift of seeing other humanoid beings. No Genomes, and certainly none of the humans that he knew, but people all the same. They couldn't hear him when he spoke, nor could he interact with them in any way, but he could hear their voices. For someone who craved social contact as much as he did, that was a truly priceless gift.
He was simply an observer now, the masterpiece that was his life reduced to an unflattering mummer's farce. In the beginning, his isolation had flung him into a deep depression, one which had threatened to rob him of what little spirit he'd retained. Now, he had accepted it as his due, and strove to make himself content with the lot he had drawn.
The wind picked up again, and he frowned as he hugged himself tighter. "It's for the best," Kuja reminded himself sternly.
Yes, he was incredibly bored, but that was part of the punishment. He, who positively loathed inactivity, was trapped in a place with almost no outside stimuli. He could watch the sun rise and set, could observe the sky as clouds drifted past, but that was the extent of his contact with the outside world. His change of heart had come too late, his sins so great that they could not be forgiven. Gods, but what he wouldn't give for the chance to try.
Brilliant white light flashed across his peripheral vision, and quickly he whirled around to discern its source. In the distance, he could see the light as it pulsed and wavered, accompanied by the unmistakable murmur of human voices. One of the shards had activated! he thought, his excitement a palpable thing as he hurried towards the only company he would have this day.
He soared over a particularly high tangle of roots, careful not to let the pointed toes of his leather boots touch them as he hovered past. The last he needed was to trip and hurt himself; it had taken him nearly a year to heal after his last battle with Zidane. He didn't want to find out how long it would take to heal a broken limb, especially as he had never been medically inclined. He knew that broken bones needed to be reset, but how to do so was a mystery to him, and he absolute refused to be left with an ungainly limp. He might be a prisoner here in Hell, but he was a beautiful one, and he intended to remain that way.
Kuja glided gracefully over the uneven terrain, eager to be in the company of other people, if only for a little while. He finally reached the source of the light and skidded to a stop so suddenly that the gossamer material of his tunic and kilt flared out around him. He was in luck! It was one of the larger crystals, this one a good seven feet tall and nearly as wide. It would afford him an excellent view of whatever was about to happen.
"Oh," he said with not a little disappointment, "it's the little silver boy again."
He quickly chastised himself for his lack of enthusiasm, knowing that he should be grateful to have any company at all. But the pretty young teenager and his two brothers never talked about anything but reuniting with their lost mother, and Kuja had long ago become bored with their conversations. Still, it was another living, breathing person, and even if he couldn't interact with the boy, at least he was no longer alone.
The boy was speaking to a white-shrouded figure sitting in a wheelchair, of all things, his brothers nowhere in sight. "How bizarre," Kuja murmured to himself, leaning forward to catch the boy's words. "What are you up to, my pretty little pest?"
"We need Mother's power," the young swordsman was saying, his high, childlike voice tinged with just a hint of impatience. "The Reunion is coming, and we need her."
Kuja rolled his eyes at that. The man had to be feigning ignorance. After all, reuniting with his mother was only all the boy ever talked about. "Dolt," he muttered with sniff.
"My brothers and sisters who share Mother's cells will all assemble," the silver-haired youth explained, rather unnecessarily, in Kuja's opinion, "and together we'll take revenge on The Planet."
The boy sounded so gleeful as he threw his arms and stretched his lithe body, and Kuja had to admit that he was quite stunning—for a budding psychopath. "We've already sent out the invitations, but. . ." he let out a creepy little laugh that would have done Kuja proud, "you know. Someone's gone and hidden the guest of honor."
"Invitations?" the other man asked, an edge to his voice that didn't go unnoticed by Kuja.
The boy turned his head, and his angelic features took on a cynical cast. "The 'Stigma," he said, his impatience turning to something a tad more. . .threatening. "But you know all about that, sir."
The boy began to pace before the other man, leaning towards him now and then to emphasize his words—and to intimidate. "Mother's mometic legacy lives on in the Lifestream and makes it happen."
He began to laugh as he continued, but Kuja recognized the desperation in the sound, and knew that he was far from happy. "She does so much for us, and we. . .we don't even know where to find her."
The silver-haired boy threw both hands down in a helpless gesture. "But what can we do?" he asked, the question obviously rhetorical, as he continued to speak without waiting for a response. "We're just remnants, merely remnants of Mother's legacy. Until we find Mother and receive her cells, we can't be whole again."
He stopped directly before the chair-bound man, nearly four feet away, but emanating enough menace that Kuja could feel it even from here. "Geostigma, and a legacy, aren't enough. Not for a true Reunion," he said rather ominously.
"What do you mean?" the other man asked, his deep voice taking on a sing-song quality that showed a bewildering lack of either respect or fear for the powerful young man before him.
Luckily for him, the boy seemed to be in the mood to play. Otherwise, Kuja had no doubts that the infirm man in the ridiculous white shroud would already be dead. Tilted, catlike green eyes glowed with otherworldly power as they flicked down the man's body. "But, sir," that childlike voice took on a mocking tone, "surely, you've noticed?"
The obviously insane young man took a slow step towards the chair, then another, and still yet another, and finally, the dim-wit had the good sense to look scared. "Idiot," Kuja told the shrouded moron contemptuously.
The silver-haired youth dropped to one knee before the chair, his asymmetrically-cut hair falling into his face to obscure his features, leaving only one gleaming silver-green eye visible. Kuja raised one violet-hued brow as he watched the boy plant black-gloved fists on the floor and bow his head. "Submission?" he questioned skeptically. "From this one? Surely not?"
Sure enough, as the boy began to oh-so-slowly raise his head, Kuja saw the truth of it. The supplicant's pose hadn't been meant for the covered man in the wheelchair, but for the powerful being that dwelled inside of the boy.
Kuja's breath caught as he moved closer to the Crystal shard, mesmerized by the perfect, angelic features which superimposed over the boy's. A straight nose, high forehead, stunningly arched cheekbones. Bow lips, which curved into a cruelly beautiful smile, rested above a gently rounded chin. Gossamer strands of fine silver hair, shades lighter than his own, fell around that stunning face, drawing attention to its leanness, as well as its utter perfection.
But it was his eyes which held Kuja spellbound. A pale, shimmering emerald-green, they glowed from beneath a fringe of heavy silver-gold lashes. Thin slashes of the purest ebony contracted in those radiant depths, the elliptical pupils reminding Kuja of a cat—a very large, very beautiful, very deadly cat.
"Oh, my," he breathed, fascinated as he watched the boy and the angel fight for control of the boy's body. The angel began to lose, his visage flickering madly as his power began to fade. Those incredible, powerful eyes flicked in his direction, the smile deepening for just a moment, and Kuja gasped in shock. The angel had seen him.
The Crystal began to dim, and he reached out in a desperate attempt to stop it. "Wait!" he cried, laying both hands on the damaged surface. "Don't go! Don't leave me! Come back, damn you!"
The shard went dark, reflecting nothing more than his own visage, and Kuja cursed as he jerked away. Of course, he thought bitterly. Far be it that he be allowed any sort of comfort, especially of that nature. He was here to atone, not to get laid.
He snorted at his own thoughts and threw himself down on the ground. Crossing his legs before him, he stared hard at the opaque shard, as though he could bring the angel back by will alone. Nothing happened, of course, and he was left alone once more.
Kuja sighed heavily and glanced around the large leaf, knowing that he should go back to the makeshift quarters he had fashioned for himself up above. It rained quite often here, and he absolutely abhorred getting caught in the torrential downpours. But he found himself loathe to leave this spot, where he'd had his first true human contact in years. Surely, the angel would return?
Of course, he would, Kuja assured himself. He'd seen the boy countless times over the course of his imprisonment, and since the angel dwelled within him, it stood to reason that he would return as well. Especially, since he had gotten a good look at Kuja.
Kuja smiled to himself, the gesture rife with the confidence of one who knew his own worth. He was beautiful—slender and delicate-looking, with a supple body and a near-perfect face. But more importantly, he was powerful. The man—the angel—would appreciate such power. Of that, Kuja was certain. The man would have to be stupid not want him, and Kuja knew that wasn't the case. Intelligence had burned in that beautiful, unusual gaze, and Kuja could only wait and hope that his angel regained enough of his strength to reach out to him again.
"It will happen," he murmured, extending his legs and stretching out on the spongy ground before the Crystal. "There may not be a way out of this hell, but there has to be a way in. He'll come. I know it."
He rolled over onto his side, his sky-blue gaze locking onto the shard, and settled in for a long wait.