A rework from the poem "The Devil You Know," an ending to Drizzit's tale of "Solitude" an excellently thought-out Sephiroth/Tifa tale from the shadows. I expanded the poem into a story, and this was the result. Dark-themed, filled with sensuality, a dance of manipulation and the type of darkness that this pairing has the potential to hold.

Rights belong to SE and Drizzit.

"This hunger seems to feed on me
A sacred sin, a dying breed
And we risk everything." - "Scarlet", In This Moment

She knew that he wouldn't satisfy her. How a lesser being could fulfill what had already been marked and claimed by her beloved specter was nothing more than a laughable attempt at possibility. Even still, she knew precisely what had to be done.

It had taken place on a weekend, during a time of celebration in the midst of her friends. Their smiles were alien to her, foreign, and she returned the smile with a type of detachment known only by her own heart. A few of the young women she'd hired ushered her to go and dance with Cloud, as a type of dance borne from spontaneity erupted, tables and chairs pushed to the windows to make room for feet and bodies. She shyly declined a few times, but at the last she leaped over the counter and strode on confident legs towards Cloud Strife, the Cloud that had once held her in such thrall.

"Want a dance?" Agreement merged with reluctance, as Cloud was hardly the type to accept a woman's invitation to dance. He was a transient little thing, changing and altering with every beat of his desperate heart. He was weak-willed, paper-thin, and she was surprised that he didn't fall to pieces before her eyes.

Her eyes betrayed none of that truth. They were shining, glistening with a vitality that made her fearless, twirling on the floor-boards as if she owned not the Seventh Heaven, but the earth itself. For, very soon, she would play a role in ownership. Her hips twitched, a subtle but noticed gyration in Cloud's eyes, leading to a gentle rocking of her legs, her thighs brushing his own, hands sliding down his back whenever they found themselves in the shadows. He didn't protest, merely exhaling sharply every so often, a flush of scarlet rising to his cheeks. He wanted her as badly as she didn't want him; in that way only were they equals.

The celebration ended, her employees went home, and the final act for the night began. She gripped his hand as they walked up the stairs, and once the last step was cleared, she pressed him to the wall. Her lips grazed his ear, her face burying itself in his neck, inhaling the scent of his soap, the fibers of his shirt; he smelled weak. Her tongue grazed his bottom lip, her voice whispering sweet nothings into his ear, hands sliding up and down a firmly toned chest, a chest she had once yearned to feel, to touch as she was now doing. She should have known that whatever she had wanted in life, she would have to take for herself without mercy.

The door opened, only to be locked by a quick movement of her fingertips. The lights remained off, as there was no need for anything man-made here. All that was thirsted for was a gentle slaking of carnal desires, as well as a show that would make or break her performance; there was no room for failure, for any traces of disgust to reveal itself. At least, not while Cloud's eyes were open that is.

She didn't expect for him to take off her clothes. Instead, she shoved him gently to a trunk at the foot of her bed, forcing him to take a seat on top of a trunk filled with past paraphernalia that she had little to no use for anymore. It was fitting somehow, to place him on a throne of her past, only to climax while on the zenith of her new mission.

Stepping lightly, she slid from her clothing, zippers sliding down, fabric removed from her flesh, the only thing cloaking her nudity strands of hair, shielding her bare breasts from his view. He clenched the trunk, his eyes widening, lust miring those powder-blues she had once adored. Blue allured her no longer.

The shield was cast away with a toss of her head, her body exposed in full. The color of his eyes flared, sparking to life with the revealing, and his fingers fumbled with his own clothing. So very much like a young boy, graceless, without direction.

She removed his clothing for him, and within a few minutes, they rocked against one another, his body sheathed inside her own. Her thighs clenched his hips, a steady leverage rolling them against each other, a silent wonder that bore whispers of guttural moans on his lips. She kissed him, for she didn't want to hear it. For this part of the performance, she imagined that her one and only lover, her beloved phantom was deep within her, taking her upon a throne of nightmare and flames. The hair she clutched in her fingers bled into a mercury that even the moonlight couldn't match, blue churning into fathomless peridot, the eyes of the one who had granted her desire, everlasting.

Her climax came swiftly after that, the afterglow of her orgasm shattered by Cloud voicing his adoration for her, the sharp little cries that deflated her of imaginary passion. It was a small price to pay, her mind whispered, shaking from fury alone and not the act of love-making. It was all she could do to not slit his throat right then, that little voice that whispered that the one beneath her was hers, and that she belonged to someone far worthier.

And that patience paid off in full. All of the endless acts of entwining hands, of bathing together, of sweet smiles, of a dual tenderness that every last one of her friends agreed with came to a climax that had nothing to do with libido.

Amidst freshly washed sheets, she placed his hands on her stomach, cupping them just so that he could understand the message. Shock was prevalent and she wondered what he would do, what his reaction would be. There was panic, a panic that nearly made her double over in fits of laughter. And then there was love, a love he held for her that only gave birth to a smile on her lips, one that clicked all the pieces into place. It was all going according to plan.

He made plans of building a nursery, of giving her the life that he had always wanted for them. That didn't surprise her, as puppets always did best when their will wasn't their own. She listened in interest against the door jamb, her hands never leaving her ever-growing abdomen, as if in love for the child, for their future. In truth, she was pretending to shield the child's ears, for they didn't have to hear the delusional ravings of someone unworthy.

That thought propelled her forward, kept her motivated in the moments where she wished she held the power of her lover. The reality that she knew beneath her feet would blur, shapes becoming a paradise that would know no end once this charade ended. The sounds of voices, the unwanted hands that touched her were little more than distractions, fading away into the flight of an order she would soon take great part in. Sin had never tasted so sweet.

She couldn't help but wonder if her lover would be as tender with her as Cloud was. He would gently grip her lower back, his face pressed against the bulge of her stomach, murmuring words of love, of comfort. Sometimes, he would hold her against his chest, his arms cradling her middle, wrapping firmly around her in an embrace borne of the product of her own manipulations.

Her lover was aloof, powerful. But he would have done the same thing, at times where it most counted. His was a love she needed always, but in times of great need he revealed it to her thousandfold, whereas this warmth held no amount of light to what she would undoubtedly know later on.

The time progressed, and the firm belief that such an intangible power was on her side was affirmed when she went into labor, without Cloud present. This was something he couldn't be part of, no matter how much he pleaded at her doorway, proclaiming he wanted to help. As if he could ever assist her.

This was natural, the pain, the blood, the exertion of her spirit. She was being split in half, again and again, agony pushing her body past human limits it seemed. Cloud nine was just beyond a minute more, a few more pushes, a few more muffled screams. She was to be the queen of nightmare; this was only a temporary anguish.

Sweat beaded her skin like jewels, the white-knuckled grip she held on the mattress the blinding flash of vision just before the clear-view of a new world. The scream that lined the air then was not her own, but the child from a freshly barren womb, his child. It was the most beautiful sound she had ever heard.

Blood ignored, she cradled the child to her chest, delighted to see her son at last. He was beautiful, perfect. Wisps of white hair clung to splotchy red skin, peridot eyes met hers, and petal-soft skin knew her fingertips.

"Mama's here beloved, mama's here."

The water ran red the moment she placed her son in its depths, turning crystal clear after a full hour of washing, of making sure he was fresh. Only then did she step into the tub, washing her body, her legs of the after-birth, keeping her son to her chest all the while.

Bliss was known in the wondering look of his eyes, the small smile he shared with her as she tickled his stomach. His laughter was every pleasure she had ever hoped to feel, a delight that destroyed every pain she had ever known.

There was one fact that made the moment that much more perfect: the screams that laced the air, threaded with the sound of a barely repressed malice. He was killing them all, killing them for her. Gods always did show their love in mysterious ways.

The sounds didn't bother the child, and just in case they did, she played with his hands, clapping them in the water, a tenor filling her voice, a softness she didn't recognize within herself. Her lips formed notes, sweet songs amidst the symphony of slaughter, and her son giggled, as if recognizing his father even before he had met him.

Silence emulated, letting her know that the time for her to know paradise, the final product of everything she had worked for was now. She didn't have to be asked twice.

Sparing a look to the mirror, the mirror that she had once broke, once upon a dreary time ago, she saw something completely different right then. Whereas there once was a weary reflection, disgusted with how low she could stoop to find companionship, fulfillment, before her was the living opposite. The bath had left her flushed, her skin roses against a cream pallor. The hazel of her eyes became a deep claret, as if she had sensed blood nearby, the deepest color of her pupil revealed right then. She wondered if he would like it as much as she did.

Stepping out into flames, she entered the embrace of amity, the sublimation of arms she had missed far deeper than she could have imagined.

"Welcome back."


It took a fair amount of strength to force yourself into existence. The Lifestream rejected him once more, which was a given, the easiest part. The hardest factor in the game of rebirth was in remaining corporeal for longer than a few days, much less the time that he wanted. And when one wanted to be a god, they wanted all of time.

His motivation was clear, concrete: destruction, vengeance, fire. But it was about so much more than that now, as he had become the fixation of his little wicked lovely's dreams and fantasies. He would be the demon the world considered him to be if he forged the lie of loving her at first. He hadn't, but he had enjoyed seeing her transformation. It was as if she had conjured a demon to do her bidding, and through the nights of heated passion, something he earnestly enjoyed giving her without falter, he found himself at a moral stand-still. Here was the little girl who lead him on a tour through the mountain town that he had once destroyed, the young lady in a short-skirt, her cheerful demeanor leaving him with a sour taste in his mouth. Here was the little nuisance who had picked up his sword and charged at him, attempting to fulfill her personal vendetta, the punishment being the wound he inflicted on her without mercy.

In what he gave her, a little of his venom, a little of his being, that young girl was nowhere to be found. In the heart of the night, in passions that had no words aside from heated whispers, her metamorphosis was complete. She came alive with what he bestowed to her, his touch, his will, his nature all embodied into a woman who would be his queen. It was solitude that destroyed her; their coupling would be her rebirth, the rebirth of a Tifa Lockhart that was worthy of his wrath on all who opposed her, worthy of touching what remained of his heart.

And there was no better payment than killing the people who dared keep her ensnared in an asphyxiation of their own devising. Even in death he could sense her rage, the fury that she held for humanity. She loathed what she was forced to endure without him and though she'd never admitted it outwardly, much less inwardly, it was there in her subconscious, seething in a wrath that knew no end. She hated humanity as much as he did.

'I'm coming for you. I will grant you everything.'

Breath crashed over him, life filling his veins, existence spilling through his skin, pores bleeding into an array of immortality. His skin itched, boiling from the inside with the call for the hunt, the need to please not only his queen, but his mate as well. Power thrummed within him, seeking a source and locating it.

Every single person who so much as caused Tifa a problem knew their end that night. A few of her past customers, the people who had once been part of AVALANCHE; and at the last, the puppet who had been toyed with for a full year by his queen.

His scream he cherished the most, the screech that thundered through the night, pouring into the blood-song of his victory. It was when the light finally faded from Cloud's eyes that he knew he had won, that he would never fade and become a memory; there was no more petty enemy.

The moment the world was cleansed, he knew her embrace. It was soft yet intoxicating, something that he couldn't place, a word he couldn't put into existence yet. It was then he realized that he had missed her, that having her in his arms was the singular amity that his spirit had craved: someone to share his mission with. She was perfect, dark, and sinister, so very much like himself. For her, he would light up the skies with fire, set her past place of dwelling up in flames.

Ashes twirled in her hair, cascading through raven-black locks like polished gemstones. Her eyes were phoenix-fire, lighting up with never-ending joy when she saw him, and that smile remained, elongated even more when she watched the carnage be set ablaze. He loved her even more for that smile.

She gestured toward the bundle in her arms and he held his son willingly, mesmerized at how much he looked like himself. His son's life would be one of unparalleled warmth, never wanting for anything, for he would be the heir to his reconstruction. In this life, the life and joy his queen had given him, he saw a world of possibilities.

It was then that he touched her face, her lips meeting his mouth willingly, a charge throttling his body to a plane of existence that merely breathing hadn't granted him.

"You will never again know solitude." Warm hands entwined with his glove-encased fingers, her lips caressing his face, cherishing his life.

"I love you." Love was something he had never understood, for he had never had the interest in it. But here and now, with everything she inspired within him, with the way she looked at him, he understood why humans would kill for it, sacrificing all to gain just a singular look from their beloved. For that particular facet of humanity, he understood that.

"If I knew love before you, it was hidden." She smiled and he knew peace, something he hadn't felt in man years, if at all in his life.

The world burned behind them as they walked forward, only to take to the skies, ebony wings beckoning them up, up and skyward, beyond anything that flames could offer them.

Perhaps something had come from solitude after all: a new world order, free from the shackles of humanity, unblemished by the taint of lives without one another.

He whispered to her that she was his queen and she smiled, her eyes glimmering as they reveled in what he granted, the path to immortality paved within her.

Sin had never looked so enchanting.

The End