A/N: ((If anyone would like to help me proofread/beta/improve this story, or would know someone who would be able to help me pretty this up, please PM me. Thanks bunches!))
This is the shortest and last installment of this story. I'm going to say right now that there is character death! But as a sucker for a happy ending, you will find out that things are hopeful even when it looks like this is turning into a tragedy.
I loved writing this story. I really did. From the happy moments to the sad ones, I've enjoyed the ride. I do hope that the ending does not disappoint. It was how I envisioned it be, as strange as that may sound.
At first, I had my doubts about expending this even into a second part, much less five. But as Cloud and Sephiroth grew closer and their lives more entwined, things began to look clearer. The styling of this story is different, but I think the format works well. It allows for the reader to fill in all the empty pieces. I'm not sure why, but I've always enjoyed an open-ended tale that left things to the imagination. Every struggle, every victory, every moment of sorrow can be read between the lines.
I'm thinking of writing a couple side story's to this, alongside the already planned 'Burning Alive' which details Cloud's journey back home after being trapped in the fire. If there are any other scenes that you would like me to clarify or add, make sure to message me. I'm always looking for new ideas and sometimes a thousand word oneshot can inspire other things.
Reviews are lovely as are PM's.
Any comments, reviews and the like are loved. I thrive off feedback.
Disclaimer: This was for fun, not for profit. I own nothing FF7 related….blah blah blah. To quote another writer: "These are not my characters, I'm just abusing them".
Summary: Everyone knows that Sephiroth was the hero of the War with Wutai. What happens when the first battle occurs suddenly in the sleepy town of Nibelheim and he's the only SOLDIER there? And how does a little blond boy play a part? AU. Young!Seph & Young!Cloud
Words: 2,888 (I know, tiny chapter. The third or fourth shortest thing I've ever written, actually.)
Rating: T (Character death)
The Battle of Nibelheim
Part Five: Destiny of a One-winged Angel
Six months later;; Nibelheim Reactor
Perilous blue eyes met those of ice-cold green.
"Why?" It was the only question Cloud thought to ask, his mind reeling with Sephiroth's betrayal. He gave up on crying a long time ago. All his tears had fallen through every moment of sorrow and grief. His beautiful hero, friend and lover stood before him like a glacier, those brilliant mako eyes practically gray. Where was the man he had fallen in love with? Where was the uncertain boy he met in Nibelheim all those years ago?
Falling to his knees, the blond SOLDIER once again pleaded for an answer, desperate for reason.
Sephiroth, stared down at him, Masamune poised for a final strike. Cloud shut his eyes, anticipating the end. After all they had been through, his silver-haired angel was going to take his life. All because some thing claimed to be Sephiroth's mother. All because Hojo lied to his son. All because of ShinRa. And there was nothing he could do, nor that he wished to do. If his lover had truly lost his mind, then he refused to live in a world without him. He would rather die than watch the world collapse around him.
"Humans hurt Mother." He heard Sephiroth murmur, yet steel did not pass through his chest and stain the metal grating beneath them in blood. Cloud took in a ragged breath. If they had never come on this mission to Nibelheim, then his lover would be himself. He would not be raving like a loon about Jenova or the Cetra, and how he wanted to exterminate the human race to please Mother. "They used her body for wicked purpose, disturbed her sleep. She wants revenge on this Planet. She wishes it clean of the filth that taints it…Then, we can sail into the heavens, together, Mother and I."
Cloud let out a shuddering sigh as the prone bodies of Zack and Tifa flashed into his mind. They were hurt but not dead, that much could not be said for the townspeople Sephiroth left to burn. Oh how he hated fire. It scared him and the very sight of a lit cigarette sent chills down his spine. He knew what it was like to be trapped inside a building with no escape and abandoned. It was only by luck and a gift from an old friend that he survived.
Slowly, he curled his fingers around the wolf's tooth around his neck. Fenrir was with him. He always would be, even in death. Hopefully Kol had led his pack to safety, the young Nibel Wolf was an ambitious creature and immensely loyal to his human friend. Should they search for Cloud, the fire would surely send them into the lifestream.
"You do not beg for your life, human." Sephiroth's grating tone made Cloud open his eyes again. "Why?"
"Because, Sephiroth, I have no fear of death. What I fear is a world without my dearest friend and lover." Somehow, a smile quirked onto his lips,"Hopefully, when you are sailing among the stars, you will remember me." His hand fell from the wolf's tooth onto the silver bracelet around his left wrist. Two materia were slotted in the bangle. A Barrier and a Cure. "It made me so happy when you showed me that you kept the twin to this one. A gift from a child you barely knew. A child who grew up to be a SOLDIER…A SOLDIER they said would rival you one day in battle. First Class Cloud Strife…that has quite the ring to it, now doesn't it? Is it true that after this mission you were going to recommend me for promotion?"
Soft blue eyes locked with those of swirling green.
There was something remaining of the man he knew beneath the madness.
"I need no memories of this…Planet." Sephiroth sneered but there was hesitation in his voice.
"That's okay." Cloud told him,"I'll always remember you. And I won't remember you because of the destruction you wrought at Jenova's command, but rather because I love you. Gaia, I can't say that enough these days. I did not realize it then, but I think I was in love with you from the day we first met. That's why no one else sparked my interest, because my eyes only saw you."
Masamune inched closer, the point actually pressing against his chest.
"No one can love a monster…" The silver General spoke softly.
Cloud smiled up at his lover, it was a sad one, full of hurt, but a smile nonetheless.
"People only call things monsters because they do not understand," the blond told him, remembering the day they met as if it were yestersay,"They fear things they do not understand. And it takes a lot more bravery to understand something than to hurt it. Sephiroth, you're no more a monster than Fenrir and his pack, or myself or Zack. Open your eyes and see the truth. Do not be afraid. I love you. If you were truly a monster, then I could not say that, but you're not. You're merely different, and that's okay."
"Mother says you're distracting me from my purpose, that you should be dead right now."
"That's okay. I'll be able to see mom and dad again…"
Masamune's tip touched the floor between Cloud's knees.
"I disagree with her. She said that I am a God and that I shall have everything I want if I destroy the Planet. But I…I do not…agree." Sephiroth's free hand rose to clutch at his temple, his mako-eyes gleaming with familiar life. He was fighting her. He was winning! Cloud rose to his feet and lifted the Buster Sword that Zack thrust upon him before falling unconscious. The First had actually fought with the General and of course, he had lost. In his anger, the blond Second had almost acted upon his instinct to stab Sephiroth in the back, killing the man and the destroying the creature he was talking to. But hesitation led to the General sensing his presence and forcing the weapon from his hands.
Now, he held the blade in his hands, hoping that the man he loved would break free of the control 'Mother' had over him.
"What do you not agree with?" Cloud asked, keeping the sword in a non-hostile position, and his eyes focused on his lover's face. It was heartbreaking to see his beautiful features distorted with pain.
"Not all humans…are bad." It was a childish phrase that caught the Second off-guard. Those beautiful eyes he adored so much were open and wide, but clear. Oh Gaia, they were clear! "She says all humans are bad, that they corrupt this Planet. But, that does not make sense. How will killing them achieve anything? I'm…I'm not human. Not Cetra. Not a monster. Not a god…" Sephiroth looked lost and confused, his eyes filled with fear. "What am I then?"
"The man I love." Cloud told him fiercely before throwing one arm about his lover's neck and kissing him. Again, he was burning, and it felt so right…so perfect… Then everything felt cold…like ice… Pain shot through his body and he broke away from his lover with a gasp. It was a small thing, the blade protruding from his stomach, and very much unexpected. Wide-eyed, he took one last look at his lover's face before all tumbled into darkness.
The gray had overcome the green yet again.
Five years later;; Midgar
Sephiroth stood amongst the ruins of the once great city of Midgar. Here, people thrived off the filth and the corruption for too long. Greedy, powerful, wicked men grew to be gods among the poor and hopeless, yet they were ignorant, complacent gods. The ex-General smirked at the destruction, none of which he wrought. Humans were such simple creatures. Place a fear in their minds, a danger in their midst and direct them in the right direction, and like sheep they could be guided to fulfill any purpose.
Now, nearly a year after conquering every continent, he reveled in the power that those false mortal gods thought themselves to have. Civilizations were in shambles. The mako reactors were destroyed. All that remained were the humans themselves and makeshift towns that struggled to make do without technology and weaponry.
Reduced to their roots, the population now lay before him, desperate and looking for answers. Jenova screamed in protest when he decided to play with the humans for a while longer. After all, he was immortal. There was plenty of time in the future to wipe this Planet clean. For now, he wanted assume the role that he was destined to claim.
"Sephiroth, you said there was something you wanted to tell me."
Few people remained on this Planet ever dared to speak his true name in his presence. A smile quirked on his lips as he turned towards the speaker.
"Of course, how could I forget such a thing? You see this here? I want this to be the foundation of the new world. The humans have known war for long enough. I am fair God. It is time that I give them a chance for redemption and peace. Under my rule, there will be utopia!"
The cocky tone never failed to make Sephiroth chuckle.
"Our rule, love."
"Remember your promise, Sephiroth."
"I will never forget you…it is not possible for me to do so…Cloud."
The young blond moved to stand next to him, not a day older since that fateful day in Nibelheim. His blond spikes lay in disarray; those blue eyes gleamed with wisdom as well as youth. He held himself like a SOLDIER many years wiser than he actually was. Then again, dying did that to you.
"Make sure that you don't Sephiroth. Or I'll haunt you from the lifestream until you remember."
How could his little lover be so bright and full of light after watching all the suffering that Sephiroth caused? Yet here he was, standing beside the silver-haired swordsman as if Nibelheim had never happened, the only reminder of his insubstantial nature when the light passed at a certain angle, engulfing his love in a halo of green. It was painful to recognize the fact that Cloud's death was what freed him from Jenova and forced the invader into the depths of his unconscious mind. Why could it not have been his love that save him? Why had the kiss not broken the spell?
"Oh, and Sephiroth…I'm keeping an eye on Zack and Aerith too."
"Thank you…" He was disappointed when the raven-haired First shunned him and chose to fight against his rule. But like all the others, even he fell in line; only after, however, Cloud told him that his young wife was with child. Zack stood down and the last flames of rebellion were stamped into the ground. Perhaps one day the man would realize that this world would be better to raise a child in than the previous. This would be a world free of the corruption and poverty. This world would be healthier, for Sephiroth was allowing the Planet to heal.
"You're welcome Sephiroth." The blond smiled as the cry of a Nibel Wolf pierced the air. "I have to go now." As he turned to walk away, Sephiroth watched the SOLDIER disappear and a child take his place. The shadowy form of a wolf trotted beside him, his form immersed in gold.
"Goodbye…" He whispered as his mind shifted to the two bracelets he wore and the wolf's tooth hidden underneath his jacket.
Ten years later:
Aerith Fair lifted the bouquet of flowers to her face and breathed in their scent one last time before kneeling before kneeling at the Buster Sword imbedded in the soil. For fifteen years this was the grave in which Cloud Strife slept, his spirit restless and wandering between reality and the Lifestream like a ghost. He was reason why Sephiroth gave humanity a second chance and as brutal as his methods were, it was a revival that no one but he could have possibly foreseen.
Before Nibelheim, the Planet cried in pain, her suffering induced by humankind's abuses and Calamity's presence. Yet now, Gaia seemed at peace again, willing to allow Sephiroth to act as her protector. True, everyone knew his ultimate desire was to build humanity to its peak, to create the perfect utopia, before obliterating everything once humans became fickle again and forgot then nature of his power. But his actions had saved the race and the Planet, whether anyone else believed it or not.
Perhaps that is why Gaia gifted her savior with the most precious gift of all. Even if the man did not know of it yet. Aerith felt a small tear crawl down her cheek. Last year, on her thirty-fifth birthday, the Planet gifted her one more child, even after an almost debilitating illness that left her infertile when she was twenty-eight. Her husband, Zack, was overjoyed to have a son at last. Even if he doted upon their four daughters, she knew that he had always hoped for a baby boy to carry on the Fair name.
It was on that day that Aerith heard Cloud's voice last. The blond had taken the shape of a small child of no more than six years. His spikes were a wild mess and the wolf at his side only proved to make the style worse with its persistent grooming. Laughter had filled the air as the boy disappeared. He left her with smile on his face, saying that he would visit again soon. Later that day, her first and only son was born.
The pale, little blond was named Cloud. Zack was even the first to whisper the name as he gazed upon their child for the first time, held close to Aerith's breast. Knowing what she did, the half-cetra agreed.
Only once did she question Gaia's decision to grant the second chance and that was when Sephiroth appeared in her church shortly after baby Cloud was born. The silver-haired man stood at the altar, gazing up at the windows above.
"Cetra…" he had spoken in slipped tones, but she could hear the underlying sorrow. "I see you still grow your flowers…in the church no less…" In every inch of available space both inside and outside the building, there were blossoms in full bloom. The people who built the city in the name of their war-like God often came to pray for those who had passed into lifestream. Others would tend the flowers, finding comfort in helping Aerith grow the gardens. And there were even some whom came to the services she held each Sunday, and listen to stories she had to share of rise and fall of the Cetra as well as humankind. By now, everyone recognized Cloud as a symbol of perseverance, sacrifice and hope.
Though no one knew that the boy's spirit was yet again among the living.
"You want to know about Cloud, don't you?" Aerith remembered asking as she approached. She still did not trust the silver-haired ex-General.
"He often speaks of you and your family to me. After he disappeared, I had to know if…"
"He did not abandon you, Sephiroth." The half-Cetra never allowed herself to view the man as a God and knew that, for some reason, he would never hurt her for merely using his given name. "His spirit finally found peace."
"So he is gone…" Sephiroth's wing, hidden until now, flared out, the ebony plumage a striking contrast to the white walls and flooring, and the brilliant colors of the garden.
"No. Never gone. At peace." Aerith told him,"Peace means many different things, after all. To some it means eternal slumber, where he at last accepts his place in the Lifestream, becoming a part of Her blood. To others, it means a second chance at life. Rebirth."
"You are not telling me something, Cetra."
"There are some things that even a god cannot know. At least, not yet."
Sephiroth looked at her for the first time since their meeting, his mako-green eyes swirling with various depths. Without another word, the man known as the one-winged angel, vanished into thin air.
Now, as she stood at Cloud's grave, Aerith came to accept her son's destiny.
Even without the memories of his first life, the boy would grow up under the watchful gaze of the man hailed as God. He would be doubly-blessed as well as cursed. Aerith wondered if Sephiroth would ever accept that Cloud would be different from the boy he met years ago, deep in the wilderness of Nibelheim. Would Cloud's rebirth bring a cycle to an end, or would it lead to the madness of the man who loved him?
At last placing the flowers where the blade met the soil, Aerith rose to her feet.
She had a family to return to. Five children and a husband needed her. Knowing that the end of one tale was just the beginning of another's journey, Aerith realized that there was no way to predict the outcome. She did the only thing she could do…all that there was left to do…
A/N: (Review my pretties, you know you want to… And again, thank you for reading. Your encouragement turned a oneshot into one monster of a story. I know I left a lot of questions and a lot open, but that is the point of an open ending like this. Whether Cloud and Sephiroth's destinies are to forever be twisted into suffering or if they will at last find happiness, it is all up to you.
Again, as I said earlier, this was one heck of a journey for me as a writer and if not for your constant support, this would have stayed a oneshot.
If anyone would like to see more from this story 'universe', make sure to PM me your request or idea. From romance, to fights to merely moments spent with friends, I'm always open for suggestions. I love to write. And in the end, I love this story too.
At last it has come to and end,
Thank you, everyone.