Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts (unless you count the game) or any of its characters.
AN: This little oneshot/side story to Gray is made up of two Sephiroth-POV writings. The first is a drabble from Chapter Two and the second is the alternative to Chapter Five. Some friendly advice: Don't read it if you've never read Gray—it won't make sense (still might not even if you have); don't read it if you've read Gray but like the ambiguity of it—it may spoil things for you. But, hey, it's up to you.
Also, my Christmas gift to the ever-supportive Lindsey (getanffnetaccountIswearit'snotpainful).
Vulnerable and alone, she was even more of a threat.
Her arm was a suggestion of a touch as she grabbed for the pile of clothes next to his hip. (He had always liked black leather.) A beating, pulsing heat from some hidden defiance rolled off of her, made his nerves crackle like a tense summer sky. It had been too long, possibly.
The muscles of his shoulder bunched and snapped in self-defense, but it was useless against the pictures already forming in his mind. (Sand shifted under the flex and arch of the left foot while the right slipped itself from a pair of ocean-wet panties. Tiny, white grains clung to moist skin like metal shavings on a magnet, like salt on a glass rim.)
Stop. You're a million ways to be cruel.
"I've never hated you, Tifa," Sephiroth said.
If he could do it again, would he change anything? he asks. Would he leave her to be swallowed by the archness and acid of the jungle? Would he watch her defy a thousand hooves or deliver her from a wind's trap? Would he change the distance he sits from a pile of clothes on a beach?
He doesn't know. His thoughts are too often veered by the curve of a knee and how easily it becomes a thigh. How easily she's become an obsession with him, he thinks. It disgusts him. She's not under his skin, she's all over it. And he's barely touched her.
Is this what he wants?
He wants to fight. He wants to follow her beacon to an arena. He wants to find her in the middle of it, dying. He wants to watch her unravel in the sand. He wants to feel her heartache ricochet from the walls. He wants to listen to her pieces fall like detritus around her while she talks to stars.
And he does. And then he waits for a sign that she'll pick them back up and start all over, that she's ready to fight.
"I'm not dead," he hears her say.
His hair ruffles around his forehead as he alights a short distance from her. His boots scuff over dunes, his foot knocks into an empty bottle, and he's standing over her upturned face looking down. She's tear-streaked and dirty, he notes, but not dead.
"Then what are you, Tifa?" he asks.
She says his name—"Sephiroth"—and though her voice is husky and raw, the warmth in it is unmistakable. She's even smiling a little. It catches him off guard and touches his skin through his clothes. He searches for a haven from it somewhere in the sky, but that too seems bent on seducing him.
Is this what he wants?
"What are you doing here, Tifa?"
"Stargazing," he murmurs. He dares a glance and finds her eyes dotted with light. "I see. And do you think you'll find anything? Up there?"
"I already have," she says, and stares back at him with an intensity he's never seen before, as if she's peeled away the layers of desperation and despair from her eyes to discover a secret, hidden world. The air between them feels new, different. Something's missing. He could touch her now, he thinks, and she'd know it was him.
Is this what he wants? He leans down to study it.
"What did you find?"
Her eyes scan his face, looking for something, and when she finds it he hears her swallow. "I should fight you, you know," she says. "I should take my right hand, make it into a fist, and crack your long nose with it."
No, this is what he wants. He wants to fight. "And how do you know I'd let you? If I saw your fist coming, do you really think I'd let you hit me?"
"Then what would you do?" she asks. She's smiling again.
He wants her breath to catch and quicken when she hears him approach. "I'd jump back, most likely. And summon my sword while you're struggling to your feet."
"And how do you know I would struggle? What if I rolled gracefully to the side then charged you while you were still summoning?"
He wants her heart to trip and fall when she sees him. "Then perhaps I'd see you coming and sidestep."
"Then as you were sidestepping..." Her eyes are closed now in concentration. "...I'd make a grab for one of your wings."
He wants his blood to stop lingering in his fingertips and the skin of his palms. "You'd be better off going for my coat. Feathers are more likely to come loose and compromise your handhold."
"Point taken. Then I'd go for your coat instead and I'd use it to slingshot my momentum upward into a kick aimed at your head."
He wants to stop wondering if she feels him in her cheek, or her arms, or the bend of her knee—and if it makes him alive if she does. "And I, of course, would block it."
"And I, of course, would spin out of it and land on my feet."
He wants to be a threat again, a trap, a foe. "I doubt you'd land on your feet, because I would kick you in the ribs while you were falling, hard enough to break a few. You'd be crumpled on the ground, groaning in pain, but I'd kick you there, in the ribs, again and again, and the last kick would be hard enough to send you onto your back—like you are now—and before you had a chance to move, I'd take my sword—which I would've by now summoned—aim it at your heart, and ki—"
He stops. No, this isn't what he wants.
She opens her eyes. Her brows are pulled into a tight, tense line. "You'd what? Say it!" she demands.
"You know what I'd do," he says. He follows her tongue as makes a pass across her lips and disappears into her mouth.
He wants her.
"Then say it," she whispers. "Do it."
He's like a sword, descending, as he splits the space between them. His mouth collides with hers in an ill, bruising fit. When he adjusts, his chin strikes something—her nose, perhaps. His cheek is grazed by something else but he only notices the way her hands are sifting through his hair and pulling him down, down to a place where he's never existed before. The inside of her mouth is foreign, wet, and dangerous; he might drown, he thinks. Because this is him and this is her and everything is new and different when they're not hiding behind someone else.
Is this what he wants?
He pulls away. Her hands fall from his hair, slowly, like moondust, and in her eyes the stars are blotted out by disappointment. He must get away; he must retreat unless he wants his pieces, too, scattered in the sand. "I told you," he says, grasping at remnants of their old hostility as he struggles to his feet. "I don't indiscriminately kill."
The sky rushes past him as he punches into the night. The stars are above him, not below, and once again his world is right.
But if he could do it again, would he change anything? he asks.
AN: Comments are appreciated!