Author's Note:

Thanks soooo much too all who fave, watch and review this story and my other. You don't know how much your support makes me feel.

I have no excuse for why this disgracefully short chapter was so long in the making other than the fact that I was uninspired and busy. Seriously, I spent the better part of this past week sleeping at every spare moment, much to my family's disapproval. Meh.

Anywho, enjoy, and just as a heads up, this story still has a little while to go before its over.

I enjoy comments and reviews. Please, if you have constructive criticism, do share. Even an "I like" or an "I don't like" are better than nothing. I thrive off feedback.

Rating (chapter): M(sexual references, rape, blood, abuse, references to torture, suicide)

Word Count: 2, 662 (Okay, they're getting shorter…sorry)

Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy 7, blah, blah, blah. All characters and such belong to their creators. To quote another author, "These are not my characters, I'm just abusing them."

Summary: They call him the Ghost of Wutai. In battle, he emerges out of the shadows and strikes down his foes without mercy. His cause, no one is for certain, just that he has a score to settle with ShinRa and its infamous Trinity. When he makes his boldest attack yet, the events that follow could lead to his ruin. AU, post Nibelheim, dark, m/m slash. Rated M for a reason.

Ghost of Wutai

By Catsitta

Chapter twelve: Cutting Away the Strings

"Hmm. Puppet…" Sephiroth murmured one of his many 'pet names' for the bruised form that lay curled in the middle of his bed.

The blond had fought against his bonds, writhed and strained the cords until both ankles and wrists were wrenched out of place and mottled with blue and crimson. Blood stained the pale body and the dark sheets, intermingling with the white of his seed. Something about this picture made Sephiroth grin maliciously. What a sinfully wicked sight, Cloud was, bruised, bloodied and taken.

He could not help himself.

The silver General slid his hands over the boy's bare back, tracing the curve of a hip before cupping Cloud's buttocks. It came as no surprise when his prize snapped awake with a snarl, once again writhing like a feral animal caught in a trap. But then, their eyes met and the blond stilled, if just for a moment. Sephiroth could see the fear and self-hate in those tumultuous eyes. His little toy was learning his place at last—there was no escape, he was no longer a hero, he was but a puppet to command and master.

"Why won't you kill me?" Cloud croaked, those eyes clenching shut as he curled back upon himself, going limp against his restraints. "Just let it be done."

"Now why would I do such a thing when you obviously enjoy what I do to you?" Sephiroth purred, feeling his arousal stir again. Never had he a lover whom awakened these basic passions in him before. Of course, beating and raping one's partners was normally looked down upon. But with Cloud…the blond was an object to be used. Not even a person in his own right anymore. He gave up his chance to be anything but a plaything the moment he tried to runaway and killed those SOLDIERs and Cadets.

And for some reason, knowing that his control could become complete and all consuming added a level of heat that made Sephiroth's body burn with desire. To break the infamous Ghost of Wutai, to punish him for his crimes and ruin his mind, body and soul…it would be his crowning accomplishment. When all is said and done, Cloud would be his in every sense of the word. No one else would touch him. Not even Cloud himself. The boy would only be able to find redemption in the eyes of his master.

What a wonderful thought.

"I hate you," the blond murmured, breaking his musings,"I hate what you do to me."

Cloud could not help but feel aroused by Sephiroth's abuse. His creators' tampering saw to that. Sephiroth had tested the extents to which the madman's mechanisms effected his new toy and found them quite to his liking. Whomever the mystery man was that tried to create the ultimate SOLDIER and in failing made the perfect plaything for Sephiroth, earned the silver General's respect…that was something that not even Hojo garnered from his prized experiment.

Noticing that his little pet was no longer thrashing about like a wild thing, hissing and spitting, cursing and yowling—as he normally did when Sephiroth's touches lasted a little too long—the silver General smirked. Now aware and awake, understanding of who was toy and master, Cloud had become docile…for the time being. He allowed his hands to wander towards the corded bonds around the blond's wrists.

Letting his lips brush again Cloud's ear, Sephiroth murmured, "Behave, boy, and I will reward you. Lash out in petty impulse, and I will not hesitate to bind you permanently. Think carefully…do you wish to spend the rest of your miserable existence an invalid? No? Good boy." With a few twists, the cord fell away. Angeal was right; he had a bit of a bondage kink and had a decent amount of practice in creating and unraveling bindings. Not that his little toy appreciated his skills…not yet at least.

His hands moved to the ties around Cloud's feet but the Ghost did not move. Even after the cord fell away, the blond remained still, his breathing even…forced. Again, he caressed his toy, much like one might stroke a favorite pet—his fingertips delving into every contour, soothing each knotted muscle. Ironic how Sephiroth felt compelled to help the blond relax. As much as he enjoyed seeing the terror on Cloud's face as he fought with everything he was worth, watching his body and expressions melt with submission and pleasure aroused him to no end. It fed both his ego and his need for control—for absolute dominance.

Sephiroth's last partner had not his understood darker needs. It had been nearly eight months since they parted ways, and in the months they laid together, never once had the silver General felt fulfilled. Complete. It was perhaps considered evil, disgusting, or even corrupt, to savor this brand of pleasure. A mysterious, powerful warrior (his equal in almost every regard) over whom he possessed ultimate control. Cloud was his pet, his toy, his possession. A prisoner in the sense that he was captured and his freedom stripped away—but no longer was he just that.

With the remote close at hand, Sephiroth could do anything he wanted with and to the blond. A press of the button and a firmly stated command and the boy would even slaughter his friends, no doubt. But for now, the war in Wutai was the least of the silver General's concerns. His mind clearer than it had been in years, Sephiroth swung his legs over the edge of the bed and plucked the remote from the bedside table.

Cloud remained curled up. Unmoving.

Smirking maliciously, the silver General latched his free hand around the boy's ankle, yanking the Ghost towards him. Cloud's eyes shot open and he twisted in Sephiroth's grip. But a warning squeeze reminded his pet how easily bones were broken, and with a mere press and a twist he could shatter the ankle. His struggles soon became half-hearted before fading into stillness. Discomfort was written on the youthful features—there was a sickly glint in the blue depths of his toy's gaze.

"I can't have my toy getting ill, now can I?" Sephiroth crooned mockingly. "Angeal would try and steal you away if he thought I neglected you."

"Let me die…" Cloud murmured—obviously, he was content in letting himself waste away slowly from whatever ailed him.

"Hn. I'd rather not. You have yet to share all your secrets, which means, I have yet to break you completely." Until nothing remained but the most primal of instinct, Sephiroth would continue to crush his plaything's hopes of a swift, honorable death. Cloud gave up his chance to die in battle, no matter how many times he tried to provoke one of the Trinity into granting his end, he would not receive it. Not until Sephiroth was good and ready. "Let us clean up, Ghost. If you're attentive, I might reward you."

"Fuck you," was all Cloud had to say in response. Which, of course, gained him a slap. And a slap from a First Class SOLDIER was enough to give the normal person a concussion. The blond's head snapped back and his eyes went out of focus for a short time, but otherwise, he seemed unharmed. Well, Sephiroth corrected that situation by raking his nails over bruised skin, leaving behind little rivets of blood. Cloud made no sounds, but the pain in his eyes was evident. He hated himself—even a social imbecile like Sephiroth could see that and it made the game all the sweeter to play.

"Get up," the silver General commanded when he was done marking his toy, and oddly enough, the boy complied, rolling onto his hands and knees, before crawling to the side of the bed. Standing proved a laborious process if the stiff movements he displayed were anything to the base such a presumption by. "Come. Follow me." Cloud hesitated, his hands clenching into fists. He was resisting again. Ah well, until Sephiroth fixed his little toy's 'programming' he would have to continue training him. His thumb came to rest on the blue command button on the remote. "Follow."

Reluctantly, his puppet obeyed.


Genesis was beyond furious.

He needed to kill something. Now.

Cadets and SOLDIERs alike parted around him as he stormed through the halls of ShinRa.

His meeting with Hojo had not gone to plan. Not in the least.

Upon the presumption that a few threats with a Hell Firaga in hand would rattle the scientist's composure, Genesis had burst into the laboratory demanding information on the Ghost and about the remote. The greasy man merely shook his head, muttered something incoherently, before waving Genesis away like a minor nuisance.

Furious, the red Commander had allowed some of his magic flow into the orb, and coaxed the materia to glow threateningly. Paired with his classic, maniacal smirk—Hojo should have been cowering at Genesis' feet like the disgusting worm he was. Instead, the good doctor merely huffed a little, and tapped his foot like an annoyed parent.

"Touch anything in this room, myself included, and I will personally see to it that you suffer." The man sneered up at him; after all, compared to the auburn-SOLDIER, he was a tiny vermin. "I would advise you to calm yourself down, boy, before I lose my temper with your antics."

The fire burning in Genesis' palm only grew more intense, swirling and throbbing meaningfully.

Hojo shook his head about that point in time, before plucking a syringe from a nearby tray and drawing a clear liquid from a random vial. He tapped it, checking casually for air bubbles, before turning back to Genesis, whom was seeing red. The energy of the spell he was holding was eager to be cast, and it took every thread of control not to unleash a maelstrom of Fireballs. His very body shook with exertion.

"Very well," the greasy scientist muttered, sounding exasperated,"since you leave me with very little choice." With lightning quick movements that Genesis never could have imagined Hojo possessing, the scientist sank the needle into his thigh and emptied the contents into his bloodstream. Concentration shattered, the spell broke apart, but the energy poured into controlling it lashed backward at its caster. Paired with whatever Hojo injected him with, the force of the backlash caused his knees to buckle.

Meeting the icy floor had not been a pleasant experience.

Nor had the following 'treatment' Hojo decided to employ in order to 'manage' Genesis' 'psychosis'.

A series of injections (and no answers about the Ghost) later, Genesis was released from the labs, feeling a little unstable in a multitude of ways. His heart raced, his muscles trembled, his breathing was sharp and quick. With every pulse of his blood through his veins, the primal urges that lie deep within his mind crawled closer to the surface. He felt like he was going to burst. Anger dominated everything, but beneath that, lied something less familiar…though, just as welcome…just as instinctual. Lust.

Whether it be the lust for battle, blood or a another's body, Genesis neither knew nor cared.

His hand came to rest on the hilt of Rapier and the crimson blade sang with recognition, as did the materia imbedded into it.

For some reason, his conflicted, chaotic thoughts focused around the Ghost. Again, the need to slake his lust for blood as well as his lust for control wound him tighter than a spring. Let Sephiroth be damned. He was sharing his fuck toy!


Cloud stared at the door to Sephiroth's apartment, and found himself feeling numb.

Escape was right before him. So easy to reach and obtain.

The General was gone for the rest of the day. After his morning shower and breakfast coffee, the silver-haired man left with barely a word, leaving Cloud alone (apparently, standing absolutely still and being compliant was not what Sephiroth had in mind for their 'bath time' and had proceeded to practically ignore him). His only command was for the blond not to leave. There was nothing said about killing himself, or plotting to kill Sephiroth or anything pertaining to how Cloud was supposed to spend his day.

So for the past hour, he sat on the floor, cross-legged in the living room (still nude, though no longer damp from the shower). His thoughts were scattered, and his limbs difficult to lift. Everything felt like lead, and the more he obsessed over escape, the less in tune with himself he became.

Sleep would not come. Otherwise, Cloud might have dozed off during his half-trance.

That left him to blankly gaze at a locked door. One that would be so easy to merely open. Even if he was a little shaken up and weak compared to usual, Cloud was likely strong enough to break his way out. But he felt no desire to. He just wanted it all to end. All of his suffering. All of his weakness. If only this was all just a dream. A horrible nightmare. In the morning, he would wake up in Yuffie's arms…

But…Cloud bowed his head, realizing his own defeat at last. There was no escape. There was no hope. Yet the more he tried to drown in his own misery, the brighter the fire to live burned within him. The deeper he sank into depression, the more urgent his internal struggle for life became. He was going utterly insane. Why couldn't he just end this? Why was he too much of a coward to take one of the kitchen knives and bring it to his own throat?

He grit his teeth, at last waking from his stupor when a surge of anger sliced through the haze.

The Ghost of Wutai was no coward!

Cloud shot to his feet and made his way into the colorful kitchen. Ignoring everything except the insistent urge to prove his fearlessness to himself, the blond dug through the drawers until he found what he was looking for. It was twelve inches long including the handle and blade, and wickedly sharp. After only a second of consideration, Cloud pressed the edge against his wrist and watched as crimson beaded along the metal. He had barely pierced the skin; all it had taken was a little pressure…

Fascination quickly turned into disgust.

What in Gaia's name was he doing?

This was not how he had planned to kill himself…quickly, he brought the edge to his neck and let the flat of the blade glide along the column of his throat. The cool sensation sent shivers through Cloud's spine. His eyes fluttered shut with remembrance and anticipation. Sephiroth had done something similar to him once during his incarceration. A game, he called it, the way he tortured him with knives of every shape and size. While Genesis rarely touched him and Angeal never did, Sephiroth had been far from kind.

Had it only been a few weeks since his capture? How long since he was being kept underground in the 'special facilities', chained to a table, beaten and drugged until he was delirious with fever? How long had it been since Sephiroth played his game with knives, painting Cloud's skin with blood? Had it been only days? Maybe a week? Time no longer mattered or made any sense. This was it. This was the end.

A smile graced Cloud's lips.

Relief. He would find relief.

Hunger. Dehydration. Illness. Weakness.

It would all soon be forgotten, washed away by the Lifestream. He would be reunited with his mother and Tifa, and everything would fade into nothingness.

This was his chance. Perhaps his only chance…

His grip tightened and he held his breath, angling the blade for a clean stroke.

It was over.

"I'm sorry…" He murmured,"but I am no one's puppet."

Still smiling, his eyes closed, Cloud flicked his wrist.

For a moment, he felt pain…

…and the next, he felt nothing but utter agony.

A/N: (Aaand, fin! Nah, just kidding. I can't kill off Cloudy just yet, not when everything's getting all fun and angsty. I mean, he has yet to overcome his ultimate struggle…or something like that…Review please! Feedback motivates me to write.

And, on a side note, hopefully, I have found a beta who will help me fix this story and 'Fourth Time' up nicely. –crosses fingers— The early chapters of both are making me cringe, but hey, with every chapter of every story, I have grown as a writer and an artist. And, as I stated from the beginning, my stories are all journeys for myself as I explore different ideas and styles.

And, another side note, there is a reference to the side story 'Play' (for those who have read it). If any are curious about the game with knives Cloud imagines, check the story out for a clearer picture.

Until next time!)