Let Him In
Chapter warning(s): Offensive/Bad Language, Humor, Dark themes, Some violence, Mentions of Blood/Death/Gore, Angst, Some M/M Yaoi
A/N: One of my reviewers pointed out that I sometimes neglect to describe the surroundings. I will make an effort to try and be a bit more descriptive when it comes to that. I think due to time and other considerations, I accidentally forgot to describe certain things. xD Sorry, I guess I was more distracted by describing all the emotions and feelings going on. My bad, guys!
Also, for those of you that do enjoy the Vincent/Sephiroth pairing, you should go check out Roaming Firefly and Hakucho-E. They're both very talented writers and I enjoy their fictions. They both inspired me to not only write FF7, but to write the Vin/Seph pairing.
"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."-C.S. Lewis
CH19: Confrontation PART I
Cloud had barely stopped Fenrir when Sephiroth had leaped off of it from behind the slighter male. He sailed over the blond's head like a bird with his leather jacket billowing behind him like wings until he landed firmly on the grass with cat-like precision on his booted feet. He didn't even bother to spare Cloud a parting glance as he took off running.
Sighing, Cloud shook his head with a wry grin on his lips. Shutting Fenrir off completely, he then hopped off and hastily followed after the over-eager ex-General.
As he chased after his lover, Cloud briefly thought to himself on how he had from the very start had always been chasing after this man. Whether he had chased him as a dream, as an enemy, or as a love interest, the result had always been the same. He was inconceivably obsessed and probably would always be obsessed with Sephiroth no matter what.
The blond also reflected on how much Sephiroth had changed in just several hours earlier. No, maybe changed wasn't the right term. Awakened was more like it. In some ways, Sephiroth was like a butterfly. He had been reborn, had been forced out of his cocoon by Cloud and had undergone his metamorphosis from child to man until he has become the very man he was now. In spite of that, it was obvious that Sephiroth still had a long road to travel, but at least he was on the right path now.
It seemed that the former General of Shinra was even stronger and more determined than he had ever been. It struck Cloud with awe to witness this firsthand since it was more than he could have hoped for. Sephiroth was undoubtedly stronger now than he had ever been in his previous life. In a way, Cloud both marveled at and envied Sephiroth for his resolute physical and mental strength. If he had been in the ex-madman's place, he wasn't sure whether or not he would have turned out that way, as well.
Within a span of a few minutes, Cloud found Sephiroth near a fountain holding a protesting and struggling Hana in his arms. He was holding the girl close to his body very much like a loving, worried parent would. The sight of it made Cloud stop and stare with more wonder as warmth spread throughout his being. His fondness for Seph only seemed to flourish more and more with each passing day. Every little and big thing seemed to merge together much like his feelings until all he could feel was a throbbing, budding pressure. A pressure in the core of his being that made him feel strong yet weak at the same time.
"Seph! Put me down, already! What's gotten into you, anyway? What's wrong with you, ya big lug!" Cried a curiously blushing Hana as she continued to squirm. It was obvious that the redhead wasn't accustomed to any form of affection.
"Are you all right? Did anyone hurt you?" Quickly interrogated Sephiroth as he stared down at the young girl. The concern and worry was etched deeply into his handsome features.
Hana rolled her eyes as she huffed, "I'm okay, Seph, I'm okay. Can you put me down now?"
"Of course," murmured the ex-General as he reluctantly set the tomboy back down on her feet. He stared down at her and frowned while immense guilt and regret swelled in his chest. Shaking his head, he apologized, "I'm sorry we didn't take you with us when we left. We should have brought you home with us."
"It's okay, Seph. I'm not your problem, so don't worry about me," muttered the redhead right before she noticed Cloud standing there, watching them with some sappy gaze on his face. She sighed and threw her arms in the air. "Oh, not you, too, blondie! What's with you pretty boys today? Did you guys get whacked on the head today or somethin'?"
Cloud shrugged. "I'm fine. We're just concerned about your safety, Hana."
The robotic cat sprang out from nowhere to land nimbly on the blond's shoulder. "Don't worry, Cloud. I've been keeping an eye on the girl."
Sephiroth's eyebrow twitched at the mere sight of the annoying robot. Oh, how he loathed Cait Sith.
Hana's shocked face changed swiftly from surprise to disbelief as she exclaimed, "What? That weird cat thing has been stalking me? Ugh, I thought I felt something weird following me around, but I wasn't sure…"
"Hey! I have a name, miss thing! My name is Cait Sith! You would do well to remember that!" Corrected the robot cat as he nodded his little head curtly as if it were a plain fact that she should have realized on her own. He was quick to add with a point of his paw, "And I'm no thing. I'm very much alive…well sort of."
"Thank you, Cait. I appreciate you keeping an eye on her, but what happened to keeping an eye on Sephiroth?" Asked Cloud with an arch of his blond eyebrow.
"Reeve and I saw more than enough of what we needed to see, Cloud," answered the robotic cat as it enthusiastically nodded his head. "I also knew you were going to come back to investigate Schönnbach."
Sephiroth looked at Cloud with a questioning look.
The blond then quickly explained, "Seph, apparently Cait Sith has the ability to foresee some things. He claims that he can see into the future."
It was Cait Sith's turn to huff, "I only claim the truth! I can see into the future, Cloud! You have witnessed it for yourself."
The silver-haired man remained unimpressed as he glanced to the cat, to the blond-haired man, and then finally back to the red-headed girl. He was amused to see that the fiery-haired tomboy's face mirrored what he felt inside.
"I'm not sure I like your cat friend, Cloud," drawled Hana as she gazed skeptically at the little cat. She actually didn't care for cats and found them rather annoying, tedious, and filthy creatures. To be quite frank, the girl was more of a dog person. Sure, she knew that dogs were smelly and all, but they were loyal, loving, and fun to play with.
Before Cait Sith could protest or Cloud reply to the girl, the seraph-like man glanced around warily at their surroundings. He had the distinct impression that they were being watched by someone or something. The silver-haired man was unsettled to the point that his left hand twitched with the urge to draw his blade.
The ex-Mercenary was quick to pick up on the ex-General's unease. "Seph, what's wrong?"
Sephiroth turned and stared at the old fountain where he had found Hana. Said fountain, carved with two statues in the center, was obviously very old and weathered. It was clear from all of the discoloration and the assortment of cracks that this fountain was at least a few hundred years old. In the middle of the bubbling and spraying fountain was a statue of an angel with its wings extended as it appeared crouched down on the ground with its arms protecting a small child. It wasn't clear whether it was male or female since it appeared androgynous and had long flowing hair and robes. However, the angel's lovely face was cast over its shoulder as it gazed up in sorrow at whatever was about to attack it and the child. A steady stream of water leaked from the angel's forlorn eyes to drip down into the small pool of water that its body emerged out of.
What bothered Sephiroth the most about the statue was that the child's head was missing. Someone had recently sliced off the statue's head in a clean cut. The head of the child was nowhere to be seen.
Many things, none being happy things, came to mind while the ex-General gazed at the statues. Several faces from a past he had forgotten drifted through his mind like specters that had come to haunt him. Faces he had once known, faces he could not remember, and faces he found evocatively familiar, all swirled together in a haze of feeling that left him feeling stark naked.
There was something dreadfully wrong with this happy little sunshine of a place. He could feel it in his bones as he glanced around at all the old buildings that looked as ancient as the fountain. This place was old and had been here for a long time, but it was far from perfect. It looked perfect, seemed perfect, and had plenty of perfect people walking around it, but the ex-General knew that it was far from perfect.
Perfection was an illusion, after all. It was nothing but a contradiction and therefore, perfection could not exist.
"He's acting weird, Cloud," whispered the red-haired girl.
The silver-haired man looked over his shoulder at his lover, his child friend, and that annoying cat thing. He gestured with his gloved hand to the town that surrounded them as he simply offered, "There's something wrong with this place."
Hana then exclaimed, "I've been saying that for years now! No one has believed me until now…"
"Hana, who is in charge of this town? Whoever he or she is, I wish to see them," stated Sephiroth as he gazed down at the tomboy. He wanted to get to the bottom of things by confronting the head honcho of the town. Perhaps by doing that he could find out why things seemed so weird and out of place here. And maybe then he could figure out why he had such a gnawing, bone-chilling feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"Hey, slow down, Seph! We'll get there, don't worry!" Yelled Hana as she ran just to keep up with the ex-General's long and swift strides.
Sephiroth didn't seem to hear the girl as he strode past gaping people in the bustling little marketplace. He ignored all the fake smiles and curious stares as he swept past them, hair and coat billowing behind him as he walked briskly with purpose. He barely noticed the townspeople and their wares set outside for all to see. If he hadn't been so preoccupied, he would have probably stopped to inspect some of the shiny trinkets and maybe picked up a piece of fruit for closer inspection.
Boots clapped loudly against the old cobble road as Sephiroth marched with his friends in tow. The ex-General didn't stop his advance until he had reached the center of the town. In the center, there was a prolific grey building that looked well-maintained and if prompted, could fit several large families inside. It was surrounded by a large metal fence-like wall that looked to be at least fifteen feet high. In front of the secured gate that connected to the fence were two burly guards armed with automatic weapons. It was obvious from the appearance of the place and the security measures that someone important and quite wealthy lived here.
"That's where he lives," grumbled Hana as she glared resentfully at the stone-grey mansion. Everything about that place felt cold and unwelcoming and the sooner they got this over with, the better off she felt that they would be.
Glancing around at the place, Cloud frowned as he realized that something about the building reminded him of Shinra mansion. It wasn't the resemblance to it at all; but the haunted, chilly feel of the place. It felt like Death.
Staring down at the red-head, Sephiroth quietly said, "If you don't want to come with us, that is fine by me. Cait Sith can stay out here with you."
Hana blushed so deeply that her face seemed to match the color of her hair. Shaking her head furiously, she objected, "No, I'm coming with you. I'm not scared of that bastard."
Nodding at the girl, the ex-General strode over to the armed guards. Gazing at them with unrelenting fortitude, he calmly stated, "We are here to see the Mayor."
The taller of the guards looked Sephiroth up and down before leaning over to the side to look past the 6'1" man to get a good look at the company that the silver-haired man had with him. Raising a dark bushy eyebrow, the olive-skinned guard shook his head. Even though he was a bit on the brawny side, he wasn't entirely stupid. He didn't fail to notice that two of the young men facing him were armed and looked like warriors. Clearing his throat, the guard announced, "Mayor Wiesel isn't seeing any…ahem, guests today. I'm sorry, but you will have to schedule an appointment with him next week. Good luck, though, kid. He's booked up for months."
"He will have to make an exception," drawled Sephiroth as he narrowed his intense eyes at both of the guards. In a voice that declared his intent, he ordered, "Stand aside and let us through, I insist. If you don't…well."
The guard bristled at that. "I don't know who you people are, but you're not getting past us."
Cloud sighed, "Looks like we're going to have to do this the hard way…"
Lunging forward faster than the blink of an eye, Sephiroth punched the alarmed olive-skinned guard in the stomach. Knocking the wind out of him, he watched as the man fell to his knees with his arms clutching at his injured midsection. He gasped in shock at the pain until he vomited the contents of his stomach onto the ground at his own feet.
The other, slightly smaller guard shouted in alarm and aimed his gun at the ex-General only to have it knocked out of his hands by the blond-haired man. Cloud socked him hard in the jaw, which resounded with a loud crack as the man staggered backwards and hit the gate with a loud thud and rattle. The blond approached him as he raised his fist again to deal another blow, but lowered his arm once the guard had ran past him with every intention of escape. Sighing, Cloud shook his head and turned towards the sound of retching.
"Pathetic," hissed Sephiroth after he had dealt another blow to knock the other guard out. He was slightly disappointed by the fact that the guards had been way too easy to defeat. Something in him wanted a real battle, a real challenge.
"Shall we then?" Said Cloud as he smiled at his silver-haired lover and indicated with his hand towards the now unguarded gate.
The ex-General bowed his head slightly and gestured to the entrance. "After you, Cloud."
"Such a gentleman," commented the blond with a little smirk on his lips as he approached the gate. He noted the lock and sighed as if this were nothing but a tedious problem. Rolling his shoulders as if preparing himself for something dull, he then launched his leg towards the lock with a precise kick. The gate shook violently with the force of the blond's strong kick as the lock shattered and with a loud groan, the gate swung open to admit them entrance.
"When was the last time I told you that I loved you, Cloud?" Inquired Sephiroth with a gaze that seemed to burn right through his blond-haired lover.
The blond leaned in close and grabbed some of Sephiroth's hair, winding his fingers around it before using it to pull his head down so that he could kiss him briefly on the lips. In a low whisper, he answered, "You told me a few hours ago with your body."
Cait Sith gagged from his spot perched on Hana's shoulder. "Give it a rest already, you two! Gaia, you're both worse than horny lovesick teenagers!"
"I don't like the feel of this place," whispered Cait Sith as he glanced around nervously from his chosen spot on the redhead's shoulder.
The entrance of the darkened mansion led them past the doorway and into a seemingly endless dark corridor that led them to two different doors. To the far left there was a small door that possibly led to a kitchen, a bathroom, or something else. The other door was a double door and appeared grander in appearance. It was most likely a parlor, living room, or sitting room.
Cautiously opening the double doors, Cloud was the first to slip inside past the door and into the dark room. It took a few moments for his glowing blue eyes to register to the thick darkness that suffocated the large chamber. Every shutter was shut closed, sealing off any light that could filter through.
Sephiroth entered next and stopped next to the blond. His eyes adjusted almost immediately to the dark as they glowed a vibrant, fluorescent green.
Everything in the rather expansive, fancy room was white. This included the walls, the furniture, and the carpet. Either the interior decorator didn't have any real sense, or the mayor simply liked things pristine, boring, and colorless.
Something was very wrong with the room. Wrong in the way that blood was splattered all over the walls and stained the carpets. Several of the dreary paintings were slashed beyond recognition as they haphazardly hung on the walls in an attempt to remain where they belonged. Everything, including the white posh furniture was in disarray as if a violent struggle had occurred in the room. Upon closer inspection, the distinct impression of blade marks was visible in the chairs, tables, couches, and the walls.
The expensive aristocratic white carpet, which looked to be of high quality, was ruined beyond repair by all the blood that soaked in the once unspoiled fibers. Various ominous streaks of blood led from the sitting room all the way to another closed door that led to another room. It was clear that the trails of blood had been bleeding bodies that had been dragged carelessly by callous hands.
Standing stock still, Sephiroth slowly gazed around the messy room in shocked, repulsed awe. The thick, cloying coppery scent of blood hung in the air so strongly that it stung his sharp nose. Studying the room more closely, he concluded upon closer inspection that there had undoubtedly been more than one assailant. He also realized that the scent of the blood smelled at least a day or more old. Despite the fact that the scent of death was fairly old, it clung tenaciously to anything and everything within reach.
Since Hana was an unenhanced human, she couldn't see through the darkness. However, in lieu of her blindness, she could still catch a whiff of the unmistakable scent of blood. It made her insides clench painfully as it triggered a memory within her that she desperately didn't want to relive again.
A sharp look from Cloud warned Cait Sith to keep his mouth shut for the time being. It was obvious that he didn't want the girl to be needlessly alarmed. He inwardly kicked himself as he realized he should have left Hana and Cait Sith safely behind without being in harm's reach. After all, he knew that there was also the possibility that the murderers could still be in the eerily quiet mansion.
Sephiroth's enhanced eyes followed the trail of blood until it ended abruptly at the door, which caused him to wonder what was behind said door. Whatever and whoever was behind that door, he just had to know. The ex-General looked down at Cloud with a questioning stare and when he had snagged his gaze, he received a curt nod from the blond in reply to his silently asked question. Heading towards the door, he winced slightly from the squish that had ensued from walking in the blood soaked carpet. Hand hovering just over the doorknob, he hesitated for only a moment before he lowered it and gripped the knob firmly. Turning it delicately, it was clear by the lack of resistance that the door wasn't locked. Pushing the door open slowly, he gingerly stepped into the room with his senses on high alert.
The first thing to register in his brain was the fetid stench of decaying bodies that hit him hard enough to make him gag from said odor. The smell was so intense and foul that he nearly vomited on the spot. In his mind's eye, the ex-General saw images of countless slain bodies withering away in a conquered battlefield devoid of human life. The only thing living were the scavenger animals that picked away at the deceased while the bodies rotted in the hot and humid sun.
Pushing those disturbing images aside, Sephiroth steeled himself as he entered further into the dark room. He was greeted by the sight of what once appeared to be a cream white study. Torn books were strewn carelessly everywhere and even one of the six bookcases had been pushed over. The only thing in the bloodbath of a room that remained intact was a large undamaged mahogany desk, that oddly enough, was absent of any filth.
If the carpet had once been white, like the rest of the house, it was hard to tell since it was stained a deep burgundy that matched all the splatters on the walls and bookshelves.
Narrowing his glowing eyes in the darkness, Sephiroth tried to discern why the unmistakable scent of death was so overpowering in the room. There were no traces of the dead in the study even though the putrid smell of death strongly suggested otherwise. The dead weren't anywhere to be seen—
And then something cold and wet dripped onto the ex-General's head. Quickly glancing up in reaction to the unexpected feeling, he finally received his answer. Up above him, dozens of naked bodies, some men, some women, and even some children, were pinned cruelly to the ceiling in a horrific, gruesome display of perversion. Several swords, knives, and other sharp implements were embedded deeply and securely in the flesh of the dead, which was most likely how the dead weight of the bodies seemed to defy gravity.
Dead bodies floating in darkness…
Sephiroth didn't know what to feel at first as he gawked up in abject horror. His face, his very body, felt numb as he watched drops of coagulated blood fall only to merge into the stained carpet. He didn't feel anything until he felt an angry, horrified presence suddenly next to him and without looking, he already knew that it was Cloud.
The blond didn't remain there long; in a flash, he was gone. The faint murmur of the blond's voice could be heard, but Sephiroth could not quite make out the words said. Shortly after the exchange of inaudible words, there was the sound of retreating footsteps.
The ex-Mercenary then reentered the study to stand right beside the catatonic-looking ex-General. He was beyond angry at this point; it was very difficult to contain himself as he shook from unbridled rage. With the will power that he sometimes doubted in himself, the spiky-haired man ripped his bright, glowing blue eyes away from the sickening scene of the defiled dead.
"What do you think of their artwork, gentlemen? Beautiful…isn't it. Utterly marvelous…and sinfully divine. To die for, I'm sure," purred a male voice so faintly that even with their enhanced ears, Cloud and Sephiroth barely caught it.
A thin, almost skeletal man rose from his position under the desk. Standing in plain view behind the desk was a frail-looking man dressed in a blood-splattered three-piece white suit that had once been fine and dignified. His shoulder-length gray hair was in disarray as he smiled at them widely with a crazed look gleaming in his darkened brown eyes. Several strands of messy, discolored hair covered his pallid, dead-looking face. There was something about his voice and movement that seemed strangely haunted and lifeless as if he were merely a puppet made from a corpse.
"Are you Wiesel?" Sephiroth questioned the sickly man in a cold, hard tone of voice as he stared unblinkingly at said man. His smooth, seemingly flawless face was devoid of any and all emotion except for the faint flickering of anger that registered in his luminous Mako-infused eyes.
"I am what I am and you are what you are. And oh, what you are! Have you come to play, or have you come to stay? I hope it's the latter because you look like such fun!" Cried the skinny man as he leaped onto the desk and outstretched his arms to the ceiling. "I aim only to serve, and serve, I do! They say I am dead, DEAD! I do not feel dead; on the contrary, I feel alive! I am alive, alive with Her love and Her joy! Without Her…I'd be dead. And yet…She isn't here. So does that make me dead…or alive? That's quite the conundrum, don't you think?"
End of PART I