A/N: Many thanks to those who reviewed. I will try my best to reply to them when I get the chance. Well…this chapter is more or less a surprise. I totally should be working on homework. But whatever. Still looking for a beta. Help me?
Title: Frozen Skies
Chapters: 3 of ?
Pairings: Sephiroth/Cloud, Zack/Aerith, and others
Warnings: AU, time travel, slash/yaoi, non-con/dub-con, and the rest...
Summary: A hero was a broken man indeed. But even in death, Cloud could not escape. Send back in time by the Planet, he could not seat back and let history repeat itself.
Disclaimer: If I owned FF7 then it would be yaoi…
Soft whimpers escaped through parted lips as the golden-haired child tossed and turned in his bed. As he fought furiously with his blankets, his youthful twisted into a frown. He looked as if he was fighting a demon…and perhaps he was.
Silver hair, flowing down like a frozen waterfall, brushed his skin as mako-green eyes glinted maliciously above him, seemingly amused by his futile struggles.
He tried to move but found that he couldn't. His body refused to obey him as if he was bound by invisible restrains. He was caught, a prey in the jaws of a predator.
His body burned with agony. He vaguely wondered how much pain the human body could endure before it gave up. A scream built up in his throat but he lacked the voice to give it life. His body had betrayed him long before his voice did. He was but a prisoner in his own body.
Triumph shone through the silted green eyes as their owner saw his resignation. A leather clothed hand reached to capture a lock of blond hair. He suppressed a flinch. The hand that was innocently playing with his tresses now, could easily deliver unimaginable pain. Closing his eyes, he reluctantly relaxed under the touch.
"Ready to obey now, puppet?"
Glimmering blue eyes opened slowly but their owner remained silent. His captor seemed to find acquiescence in his silence.
"Good, we have a long day ahead of us." The smile was anything but comforting, holding only promises of suffering.
The once savior of the Planet only stared blankly and motionlessly at the emerald eyes that shone the same way his did. He didn't bother to pray for mercy because he would receive none. The deities had long abandoned him…if they were ever with him. He could only close his mind and surrender his body to his tormentor.
Cloud wake up with a scream frozen on his lips and sweat beading his forehead. With his heart beating an erratic tempo, he took a moment to get his body back under control and untangle himself from the quilts. Limbs still trembling faintly, he climbed off the bed and staggered into the bathroom. He splashed cold water unto his face and braced his arms against the sink. Brushing a hand through his untameable locks, he lifted his head to glace at the mirror.
He looked awful.
Almost as bad as he felt. Peering closer at his reflection, he saw the blue eyes and blond hair that simply refused to cooperate like he always did. His eyes were still too big and his skin still too pale. With a face rounded by baby fat and features that were soft and delicate, there was nothing masculine about him. But his feminine appearance was least of his worries now.
Focusing his attention on his eyes, he saw the telltale glow in his aquamarine orbs. Mako shine. Every day, his eyes became closer to what the other Cloud had, and less like his own. Jaded. Weary. Broken. Sometimes, he felt that he was losing parts of himself to the memories. But as his logic reminded himself, he and the other Cloud were the same person. The memories were as much a part of the savior as it was of him.
He didn't know when the changes started only that they did. He would suddenly know which plants were edible and whatnot, which metals would make the best blades, or what was the best way to slay a dragon. A great deal information poured into his mind smoothly and quietly that he almost did notice. They came naturally, as if they were always a part of him, slipping into his thoughts and actions as easily as breathing. But the changes were not strictly mental. His body had changed slowly but surely. While his build was still slim and frail, his reflexes were faster and even his endurance improved. His senses were sharper, detailing him with all sorts of things he failed to notice before. He could separate the individual seasonings in his mother's dishes, count every feather of the birds flying overhead, and hear all the different noises made by the animals in the mountains.
When his eyes first glimmered with mako, it was faint and would eventually fade away. But now, the green swirled with the blue of his eyes and stayed there, shining like two beacons of light. With every memory that stole into his dreams, his eyes glowed continuously brighter with mako. He didn't need Hojo to know that his mako levels were already off the chart.
Whether this development was a blessing or a curse he couldn't tell but he knew that it would be important in the future. This time, he didn't throw a tantrum over Gaia's meddling. As much as he hated the mako in his blood, he knew that it was unavoidable. He needed the boost mako gave him and he wasn't sure that he want to lose another five years under Hojo. If the price for this power was his own future, he would gladly pay it.
He would play savior for Gaia even if it killed him.
Standing in the dust-covered front hall, Cloud surveyed the hated but familiar sight of the ShinRa mansion. He couldn't suppress a shiver as he made his way across the creaky floor boards of the place that was arguably the start of all the madness.
The birth place of a destroyer named Sephiroth.
The grave of a boy who was simply Cloud.
The resting place of a slumbering Vincent Valentine.
Cloud shook his head to clear away the memories. So many half remembered recollections of this place and none of them were good. He curled his shoulders forward slightly as he shrunk into himself. Even though he was not prepared for the sheer impact of the memories of the mansion, he had not forgotten about his mission.
Quietly and cautiously, he made his way to the basement of the mansion. Before he reached his destination, he was ambushed just as he expected. Several skeletal monsters, remnants of Hojo's experiments, cut off his path before lunging at him. Pulling out one of the knives he smuggled out of the kitchen, he struck back. By the time the last monster fell to the ground dead, Cloud was supporting a couple of deep scratches. Nothing he couldn't heal but he worried about explaining the ragged state of his clothing to his mother.
While he knew how to fight, he did not have the necessary conditioning to use the attacks he remembered. His body simply couldn't perform on part with the mako-infused one. Making a mental note to train more, Cloud pushed open the door to Vincent's tomb. Ignoring the other coffins in the basement, he narrowed in on the one that held Vincent. Well, at least the one he believed to be Vincent's. He could never be certain with his jumbled memory. Nevertheless, he grabbed the edge of the coffin lid and lifted it up to reveal its occupant. His tensed muscles relaxed slightly as the coffin indeed contain his former (or future) friend.
Vincent looked just like he had before: pale skin, long black hair, and crimson cap. His gauntlet was folded across his chest and his human hand was resting on top of it. He looked well for someone who had being sleeping for almost two decades.
"Who are you?" Cloud found himself staring at crimson eyes for a moment before the red shifted to gold.
"Hello Chaos," Cloud greeted the dominant demon sealed inside Vincent. He was inwardly thankful to note that the only differences between Vincent and Chaos at the moment were the eyes, darker skin, and elongated nails and canines. He had being prepared but not looking forward to meet Chaos in his full glory. No one wanted to be close to an angry, sealed demon that just got out of his confinement.
Chaos sat up in the coffin and tilted his head to the side as he studied Cloud. "You looked human but you smell too much of the Lifestream. What are you?"
Cloud shrugged, not bothering with an explanation. Instead, he replied with a question of his own. "Do you know what you are?"
Amusement flashed in the golden eyes. "So what do you want, not-so-mortal boy?"
"I want to talk to your host."
Chaos raised an eyebrow. "He might not listen."
"He will." Cloud smiled. "He can't sleep forever."
Chaos scrutinized him closely for a moment before sighing. "As you wish." The demon closed his unnerving eyes and reopened them to reveal sanguine irises. Vincent Valentine started at Cloud for a few silent moments before reaching for the coffin lid. If the ex-Turk was surprised by the blonde's presence, he hid it well.
Cloud grabbed the coffin lid before Vincent could close himself back into the coffin. He stared unflinchingly back at the gunman as Vincent glowered at him. "I will leave after you listened to what I have to say."
When he saw that the blonde would not be scared away, Vincent gave in with an inaudible sigh. "Talk."
Hiding a smile, Cloud kept his face impassive. Trust Vincent to give one word sentences. He didn't exactly have a speech planned out for the ex-Turk but he did have a sense of what to say. He and Vincent might not have being close but they understood each other. Out of every member of AVALANCHE, he was the closest to Vincent and vice versa—close enough to know what make the immortal tick at least. But what came out of his mouth next surprised even him.
"Lucrecia's son is alive."
Vincent's usual emotionless facade crumbled and his eyes widened marginally in shock. "What did you say?"
Cloud let a tiny, wiry smile pass his blank mask. He got Vincent's attention now. "Hojo lied. Lucrecia survived long enough to give birth to her child. He was experimented on as soon as Hojo got his hands on Sephiroth—or rather, he was experimented on before he was even born." Taking a breath, he continued before Vincent could cut him off. Knowing the ex-Turk, he needed to say as much as he could before he was interrupted. "Sephiroth is nineteen now and a SOLDIER First. Hojo had being experimenting on him all his life. It had gone on for far too long. And I intent to put a stop to it. But I am only a child now, far too small to do anything like taking on ShinRa. So I need your help to end his nightmare."
Vincent's eyebrows drew together as he processed the information. "Why should I believe you? You could be one of ShinRa's dogs for all I know," he asked, suspicion dripping from his words. However he had expected to be woken up, he hadn't expect his awakening to be brought about by a blonde child whose appearance was very deceiving. "How old are you? Five? What would you know of ShinRa and Hojo?"
"I know more than I should," Cloud said, "I know your name is Valentine Vincent and you were a Turk. Your father, Grimiore Valentine, was involved in the Chaos Experiment as well as Dr. Lucrecia Crescent, producing you as the final result of the experiment after Hojo shot you. You loved Lucrecia and Hojo shot you over an argument over experimentation. You are dead in the eyes of ShinRa, which, by the way, is a very good thing."
Vincent rose from the coffin, a menacing form of red and black. Red eyes pinned their full intensity on Cloud. "What are you?" Fangs peeked out from the curled top lip as Vincent unknowingly echoed Chaos' words.
Cloud shrugged. Even he had no idea what he was. A child with the memories of an adult or an adult in the body of a child? An experiment? A warrior? A failure? Once he had known the answer, but now he wasn't sure that he was human anymore. But he did know one thing. He was what the Planet wanted him to be. "A catalyst."
Silence fell in the room like a veil as the child and the ex-Turk stared unblinkingly at each other. Cloud met Vincent's scrutinizing gaze without flinching. Vincent's frown deepened, confusion evident in his expression. Cloud must admit that this probably seemed ridiculous from the ex-Turk's point of view. Who would expect to be woken up after almost twenty years of sleep by an eight years old who listed of facts of his life like a dry textbook. But the fact still stand that the said child had gotten into the monster infested ShinRa mansion with nothing more than kitchen knives.
Cloud knew the exact moment Vincent had reached a decision. His past memories provided him a lot of knowledge about the gunman. Out of everyone in their little group, he was the closest to Vincent. Probably, it was due to the fact that they understood each other—the guilt, the regret, the sin. They had never exchanged more than a few words but they didn't need to. Cloud had gotten used to noticing fleeting verbal cues from the silent ex-Turk.
"Tell me about Sephiroth," Vincent demanded.
An hour or so later, Vincent was leaning against the window, gazing out into the wilderness and contemplating about the oddity that was life. He had listened to the child's, Cloud's, story, told like facts read off a list as they sat on the dusty floor of the library, where the boy pulled out files from manila folders to back his words. Vincent didn't say a thing, or give a clue to what he was thinking, as the child recited the tale with the emotion range of a robot. But he knew, without asking, that the story had affected Cloud more than the child let on. The blond boy only gave the minimum amount of detail and omitted most of the events. The important facts were all there so Vincent didn't pursue the blanks in the story. The not-child had his reason for the omissions.
While Cloud was talking, Vincent had observed the boy with keen eyes horned through years as a Turk. He had being trained to notice and remember things no matter how insubstantial and useless they seemed. All his senses told him that Cloud was telling the truth. There was no inconsistency in the boy's body language that gave away a lie. The blond had an expressionless mask that rivaled his own but Cloud only hesitated when he was omitting something.
It was those blue eyes cemented Cloud's claims. Those eyes were not eyes of a child. They were that of a hardened warrior. Eyes of a jaded victim of life. Full of pain. Full of guilt.
After finishing his tale, Cloud excused himself to return to him home, leaving Vincent with a pile of files on Sephiroth, Lucrecia, and Jenova. He had promised to come back in two days to hear Vincent's decision. Vincent had watched him tread across the snow covered plain and disappear out of view.
For the first time in many years, Vincent didn't know what to make of his emotions. Turk had taught him to be a master of his emotions but all the training was forgotten as he examined the story in details. Cloud had left him with much to think about. Events where he was just as much at fault as the ones who made Sephiroth the destroyer.
He had slept for so long to pay for his sin, completely unaware that Lucrecia's child was alive and in the clutches of Hojo. The knowledge weighed on him, another sin on his shoulders.
He couldn't do anything about the past. Lucrecia was dead and buried. But Sephiroth was alive. Living with the horror that was Hojo, subjected to countless experiments. In the end, he couldn't be a coward and pretend ignorance. He would help Cloud to taken on ShinRa and bring down Hojo.
He owed Sephiroth at least that much.
Pushing away from the window, he picked up a folder and flipped it open to a file about Specimen S. On the left corner, clipped to the file, was a grainy picture of a silver-haired boy, staring at Vincent with cold, mako-green eyes.
"Sephiroth," Vincent whispered, tasting the name on his tongue.