A/N:

Here it is. The sequel to 'Cause and Effect'. It will likely be 3 to 5 parts long. I hope everyone enjoys it.

Please review! Feedback is very important to me.

Word Count: 2,334

Disclaimer: I own nothing except the plot.

Aftermath

By Catsitta

Chapter One: Whisper

It was like the Wutai War all over again. People scattered upon sighting him, each one fleeing for their pathetic lives. Mice. Roaches. Ants. They were vermin.

So few would die with honor on his day.

As bullets rang, his Masamune sang her song of death. So much blood. So much pain. So much more to make. He had to wipe this Planet of human taint—cleanse it with blood and fire. He had to do so for Mother. For himself.

Sephiroth found himself laughing humorlessly at the scene before him. The villagers in Nibelhiem possessed more bravery than these fools. And to think, Junon is a military base, an institution for training SOLDIERS second only to Midgar itself! Cowards. All of them. Running away as their once esteemed General raised his blade against them.

"F-fire!" cried out a Sargent of the regulars as the SOLDIER made his steady approach. Sephiroth shook his head, smirking slightly. They stood no chance. The troopers fell one by one, not a single bullet piercing his skin as he danced amongst them. He found himself laughing aloud as Masamune tasted sweet flesh and bone, and bathed in the warm spray of crimson.

Each of them would fall like the animals they were. Slaughtered by the god that walked amongst them.

At least, that was the plan.

As he readied himself for the next wave of assault, there came a strange, eerie pause. A wash of calm, as if a storm were brewing somewhere in the distance. The air crackled with tension and reeked of smoke. The wind that had been gusting about had fallen still…stagnant. There were no shouts of battle or the ring of metal, or the clatter of boots.

Had they surrendered? Holed themselves up like the mice they were? If so, then he would flush them out. He would…

"Sephiroth. This stops here."

That voice…it couldn't be…The ex-General whipped around, his mako-green eyes widening with surprise. There, standing amongst the burning ruins of the battlefield, was a small figure clad in black. His hair was a wild disarray of blond spikes. His eyes were a cold, startling shade of blue. And in one hand he held an enormous sword—a complex fusion blade—named first Tsurugi.

"Cloud?" He asked softly, his mind clouding with distant memories, of himself and this man as student and mentor. As rivals…as lovers. Sephiroth remembered their strange, taboo relationship, one he demanded from a stranger twelve years his senior. He remembered fighting with him, for him, beside him and against him. He remembered loving him…he remembered losing him. Over seven years ago…in Gongaga.

No! this was a trick. Cloud Strife died. His traitorous little son was dead as well, slain by his own hand beneath the ShinRa mansion in Nibelhiem. The little brat had kissed him and had claimed to be his mentor…that they were one and the same rather than separate people. Liar. Everyone around him were liars. Everyone except Mother. She knew the truth. She would help him separate reality from fiction in this world of filth and deception.

She loved him. 'But so does Cloud.' Sephiroth shoved the thought aside. He had to get over the man's death, recognize the fact that he was never coming back, and that even if he was, he was human. A part of the murderous, poisonous illness that plagued the world. A sore that would, in the end, need cutting away.

"You challenge me, human!" The silver-haired warrior called out, correcting his broken composure as Jenova instructed. She whispered in his ear to not believe what he saw, and that was exactly what he did. This was not Cloud standing before him. Just another animal to be culled before he further ruined the Planet. "Fool."

The blond swordsman stared back darkly, making no motion to attack nor back away.

Instinct warned Sephiroth from making the first strike, that it what the man wanted. He was expecting him to make an impulsive move that could be easily countered. Nay. Not today. He would wait for however long it took for the other male to make his move. And wait he did.

For what could have been merely seconds, or minutes, or what could have stretched on for hours, they both stood at ready. Waiting. Watching. Only breathing. Planning. Observing. And then, the blond allowed a small smirk to creep upon his lips. "You have finally learned patience, Sephiroth. Over ten years it took for you to learn lesson number one." Not-Cloud separated a small blade from his fusion sword, a series of clicks signaling each trigger release as he did so. Then, he threw it at the ground at Sephiroth's feet, the metal clattering along the steel grating beneath them. "But there is still so much for you to learn."

'Kill him!' Screamed Jenova.

But, the silver-haired warrior found himself distracted by the dagger laying at his feet. It was about the length of his forearm, oddly shaped with a peculiar pattern emblazoned on its surface. There was an edge on two sides, but there was a series of indentions, like teeth along one of said edges, and they came together at wicked point, curving backwards and tipped with an arrow-shaped head. The blade itself was the color of gold, wicked veins of black threading along from hilt to point like a web of dragons flame. A moment of observation allowed him to suspect that the blade was hollow—created to hold and administer poison as well as provide a slot for a single aterial.

'He is trying a trick on you, my son! Do not fall for human lies. Look up. Kill him before he tries to slay you.'

It was very hard to pull his eyes away from the dagger-like sword. As if the weapon itself was holding him under some kind of spell.

At last drawing his gaze upwards, he noticed that the blond was gone. As was his will to destroy. His Mother's voice was muted, leaving him feeling fatigued and utterly alone. Feeling like a child, lost in a world too big and trapped in a war beyond his understanding. Memories of mako tanks filled his mind's eye, only to be wiped away by a pair of blue eyes. He thought of those short years of happiness, of the friends he made and failed. He thought of Genesis and Angeal. Two very broken men who had been his world until Cloud came into the picture. They saved him from Hojo, but it was his mentor who saved him from himself.

What was he doing? Who was he? Whose revenge was he seeking?

He was not a weapon. A tool…not a murderer. Yet here was, killing without reason.

No. There was a reason. These humans hurt Mother.

Feeling a migraine building, Sephiroth massaged his temple and stumbled back a step. His eyes again fell back onto the blade at his feet, wicked and ominous. And then he saw it. A single word engraved into one of the black veins, glinting wetly in the light.

Patience.

000X000

A young boy of sixteen, with wide blue eyes and light blond hair, sat cross-legged amongst a field of flowers. He wore a SOLDIER Cadet uniform with a tear on the shoulder…the blood-stained fabric framing a scar left from Sephiroth's Masamune. A weary expression played upon his face as he waited for his only companion in this world of dreams and memories to return. In many ways, the Lifestream was a lonely place, especially since his only company was himself. An older, alternate version of himself. But himself all the same.

It was strange to think about it. To know that he was conversing with a dead man in the Lifestream whilst being trapped in state between that of life and death. A dead man that came into the past to change the future. A dead man that was supposed to slay Sephiroth as a child, and instead was merciful, choosing to watch over and mentor the boy…eventually losing all the hate that drove him in the beginning, and falling in love with him.

However, in death, the man lost control over fate and Sephiroth fell into Jenova's grasp. Should he had lived, there might have been a difference in current events. He would not have had to continue fighting to save a man while in the Lifestream—relying on the presence of his other self's continued existence to hold him to life, and his body to act as a bridge to the physical plane.

The boy reached out to touch the flowers around him in order to ease his troubled thoughts. Only to have his troubles reawakened by breath of warm air, signaling his other self's return.

"You're back." Said the boy, quietly, and he continued to finger the leaves and petals of the blooms.

"Yes." Replied his other self in his typical, unemotional manner.

"How did it go?"

"He hesitated."

"Do think there is hope?" The boy lifted his gaze to look up at the man he was at one point destined to become.

"Yes."

"Will there be war?"

"Perhaps, but if all goes to plan, we will save him before things get that far."

"You said Jenova had an unbreakable hold on him before."

"Not this time. I could feel her struggling to keep control. He is vulnerable to her influence, but not defenseless against it." There was confidence in the way his other self spoke.

"It takes a lot of energy to hold a substantial form. How often will you be able to do it?"

"As often as need be."

"You could destroy yourself." They knew it was a risk from the beginning. Those that inhabited the Lifestream were never supposed to leave. Some of the stronger, restless spirits did, refusing to erode away and forget their ties to the living. But even the few that visited the living rarely used their precious strength to become solid creatures again, for however brief a period. Only the strong willed could, but a moment of weakness would end up dissolving their life force into raw memories.

"That is why I need your help."

"You know I can't even take a solid shape away from here. I'm too weak." He was too afraid of a true death.

"There is plenty you can do without leaving the Lifestream. Slip into his dreams…or even his waking mind."

"I hate invading people's heads." It was so easy to lose himself. Having his essence and spirit mixed with another's was similar to living their life all in a second. His mind became jumbled…but his other self made him practice anyway. No matter how much he forgot about himself and why he was preserving, he was never allowed to quit trying…never allowed to rest. He had to be strong. Otherwise he would forget more than just his name.

"Do you want to save him or not? Because if he doesn't break from his insanity, you won't have a body to return to. He will destroy everything!"

"Still. We both should be dead, not meddling with the future."

"Yes. But as long as you have a physical anchor in this world, and there is a chance that we can save him, we shall."

That made him think. He remembered a young SOLDIER…a friend. A man who fell in the battle at Nibelhiem and was taken, alongside his own unconscious form, into a laboratory to be studied and experimented upon by a madman. "I worry about Zack, y'know." Zack. Yes. That was the SOLDIER's name. If only he could remember his own. "He's alone with Hojo and…my body. And I'm here with…myself…Sorta."

"He will be alright. He won't die this time, not on my watch."

"I hope you're right."

The boy watched as the man disappeared yet again, off on some venture. How the man traveled through the Lifestream and the world of men without fading away into nothing was beyond his knowledge. But it told him clearly that there were some secrets his other self would never reveal. And secrets could be very dangerous to those that they involve.

000X000

Sephiroth did not know why exactly he left Junon. All he knew was that he needed to clear his head.

It did not help his pounding skull to have Mother screeching about how he needed to go back and kill every one there and burn the place to the ground. In a way, he found her obsession with fire a little reminiscent of Genesis, whose favorite game was Cadet Dodgeball—which involved lobbing fireballs at the heads of the young men as a form of 'training'. He too was a bit of a pyromaniac…he and Mother would get along just grandly.

The man was gone. His jealousy and desperation driving him to madness before degradation overwhelmed his body. There was no point in thinking about him…

With a disgruntled sigh, Sephiroth slumped to the ground and rested his elbows on his knees. How frail he looked curled up as he was, no longer standing tall and proud…no longer a pillar of strength. He felt exhausted. He felt…human. Dreadfully human.

After a long while of resting, he stood, knowing that he could only ignore Mother for so long.

That was when he noticed a glimmer of metal at the corner of his vision. Nearby, buried into the dirt, was the blade Patience. A shiver went up his spine. How had it gotten there? Was it just a figment of his tired mind? Did Cloud put it there? No. He had to shake away the delusion that his lover was here and leaving behind the pieces of his prized sword.

With a forced scowl, Sephiroth yanked the blade free and threw it as far as it would go, listening as it crashed amongst the underbrush of a nearby clump of trees.

'So impulsive.' Came a disapproving murmur within his mind.

He turned away.

A/N: ( I know, a bit short, but it felt like a natural pause in the storyline. Anywho, please review. Idea cookies are always welcome. Thanks for reading! )