Cloud hugged his mother tight, before moving away with a smile. In a moment she had pulled Genesis into a hug as well. "Take care of my son." Miss Strife said with a smile on her face.
"I intend to, mama." Genesis said.
"You take care of him too, Cloud. I'm so proud of you." Miss Strife said, turning to Cloud.
"Of course." Cloud said, slipping his hand into Genesis's .
"Good." She said, leaning over and giving him a kiss on the forehead. "Don't be a stranger."
Cloud just smiled. "You could come visit too, you know."
"Go on." She said, waving them to the door.
Cloud and Genesis left the Strife residence hand in hand. Right now, everything was perfect in their little world.
"I need to go back to the mansion. Angeal's probably gone crazy trying to find me." Genesis said softly, running a hand through Cloud's hair.
"I need to talk to Sephiroth, then I'll come join you." Cloud said, Cloud had told Genesis about Sephiroth's affections. It had given the redhead mixed feelings. In the end though, Cloud had waited for him and that was all that mattered. He couldn't really blame Sephiroth for falling for the blonde.
"I'll see you soon." Genesis said, leaning over a bit and stealing a quick kiss from Cloud.
Before they could separate however, they heard: "Cloud!" Zack called, he hadn't recognized Genesis in the coat.
"Zack." Cloud said, turning to see the hyperactive man. A smile on his face.
"You're visit went well?" Zack said, coming to stand next to the couple.
"Perfect." Clouds said, putting his hand back in Genesis's. Sephiroth might overreact, but Zack would be happy for Cloud.
"Wait...no way! Genesis?" Zack said as a grin broke out on his face.
"Please be quiet, puppy, I am still a wanted man." Genesis said quietly.
Zack grabbed them by the arm and started pulling them back up the trail.
"You don't understand, this is great. I thought they were being stupid." Zack said along the way.
"What do you mean?" Cloud said as he was drug along by Zack.
"Sephiroth and I went up to the mansion earlier. We ran into Angeal." Zack explained. "He told us what's been going on and what happened to Genesis and everything. Sephiroth was going to attack him, but then Angeal said some of the stuff they'd been dealing with involved Sephiroth. Sephiroth then agreed to just leave you guys alone."
"That's good." Cloud said, a bit of relief in his voice.
"That's not all." Zack said as his smile fell. "Sephiroth didn't want you to know, Cloud. Neither did Angeal. They thought it was best that you two didn't find each other. Sephiroth ordered me back to the inn to wait for you. He said he'd be up in a bit."
"Why would he..." Cloud looked devastated.
"I know exactly why." Genesis said with a bit of a growl.
Zack just looked confused.
"No, he's...no... He wouldn't do that, would he?" Cloud said, looking up at Genesis. Then he remembered all the conversations about Genesis. From the moment the man had left, Sephiroth had been trying to talk him into giving up on his former mentor.
"I think you know the answer to that. The man is a strategist. He doesn't have much experience in social situations. But if he's thinking of this with military tactics, that's exactly what he would do." Genesis said, he wasn't sure how upset he should be with the man.
"It doesn't matter, you two found each other on your own." Zack said, smile returning to his face. "And that doesn't explain why Angeal agreed."
"Angeal... I don't know what to think anymore." Genesis said with a sigh. "You would have to have seen it. He's changed. He seems to think it's us against the world and is going to extreme measures to ensure that that's the way it stays."
"I offered to help and he just turned me down." Zack acknowledged.
"We need to be careful." Genesis said as they continued the trek to the mansion.
"What have you done!" Angeal screamed, looking to Sephiroth.
"He was Genesis's only hope for survival. Now the man will rot." Sephiroth said as he sheathed his sword. Hollander lay dead on the floor.
Angeal just drew his sword. "You have no idea what you've done."
"I know exactly what I've done. I've just killed a Scientist. It's becoming a trend. I think I'll take care of the rest of them when I get back to Shinra." Sephiroth said calmly. After reading the files in the basement, one thing became clear to the silver haired swordsman. Shinra and its scientist had to go. Starting with Hollander just ensured Genesis's death. Slow and painful, just what the man deserved for touching what was his.
"I can't let you do this." Angeal said, holding his sword.
"I don't blame you, I can help hasten your death. I have nothing against you." Sephiroth said, pulling Masamune back out of its sheath.
"You're insane." Angeal said, preparing to battle his once friend.
Sephiroth just laughed a bit. "That's really funny, coming from you. Now, get out of my way or come meet your death."
"What the hell was that!" Zack yelled as the three looked to each other. They were getting close to the mansion.
Genesis took off towards the mansion with Cloud and Zack close behind. Before he got there however, Angeal came bursting out of the side of the building. He landed on his back as Sephiroth came flying out of the hole he'd just made.
Zack moved to Angeal's side as the man sat up. Cloud ran to Sephiroth.
"What the hell is going on!" Zack demanded.
"Out of my way, Angeal's decided to commit suicide. I'm assisting." Sephiroth snapped, before he realized that Cloud was the one who had grabbed his arm.
Genesis had disappeared inside the mansion.
"Sephiroth, stop this please." Cloud pleaded with the man.
"I'm doing this for you, Cloud." Sephiroth said, looking down at the blonde. "I'll get rid of them and then we can be together."
"He's lost his mind, something in those files made him snap. He killed Hollander and said that he wants to take down the rest of Shinra." Angeal said, finally managing to sit up with Zack's help.
"Sephiroth, we won't be together. I found Genesis, I know the truth." Cloud said, taking a step back.
"You're mine, you were never his, you're mine. Can't you feel it? How can you not feel it? You've been calling me. That's how I found you that day in Hojo's lab." Sephiroth said, moving to grab Cloud.
Cloud just backed away further. "I don't know what you're talking about, but I do know that I love Genesis and he loves me. I can't change that, not even for you."
"No, you are mine." Sephiroth said as he lunged for Cloud again.
"He's not now, nor will ever be yours, Sephiroth." Genesis said, appearing in the doorway, his red coat back on and Rapier in his hand.
"I've ensured you'll rot. You have nothing to offer him." Sephiroth yelled.
"He killed Hollander." Angeal directed at Genesis.
"How could you." Cloud said, shaking a bit. "I hate you."
Sephiroth only moved closer to Cloud.
"Stay away from him, Sephiroth, I'm warning you." Genesis said, moving between the pair.
"I wanted a long, slow and painful death for you. But you've stood in my way long enough. It's time I ended you." Sephiroth said, before taking a swing at Genesis. The materia master easily parried the blow.
"You may have been able to take one of us, but everyone here is against you, Sephiroth, you can't take us all." Angeal said, coming to stand behind the man. Zack stood at Angeal's side, helping him stand. Cloud drew his katana.
"You're too weak to fight and your student would never be a challenge." Sephiroth said with a laugh. "Like you, Genesis is a dead man walking. Cloud won't fight me, he is mine."
"You're delusional." Cloud said, staring the man down. Sephiroth had yet to make another attack.
"Am I? I don't know what that man's done to block it, but I can feel you in my very blood. You have to feel it, too. Now, get away from that man and come here." Sephiroth said the last part as if he was ordering a military command from deep within his soul.
Horrified, Genesis watched as Cloud took a few steps forward and collapsed in Sephiroth's arms.
"What did you do to him!" Genesis said, charging forward.
"I've only fixed your taint." Sephiroth said, carrying the blonde in his arms. In a moment, a large black wing extended from his back as he took to the air. He had his prize.
"When in the hell did he get a wing!" Genesis cursed.
"I don't know, but you better go after him." Angeal said, the man was already starting to turn pale.
Genesis just nodded and took to the air after Sephiroth.
"I need to get you patched up." Zack said, Sephiroth had done quite a number on him.
"Zack." Angeal said with a bit of sorrow in his voice. "There isn't anything you can do for me. Part of this... I can't heal. With Hollander dead, all I can do is die."
"No, there has to be a way." Zack pleaded.
"Hollander thought that, if we were to use the cells that are in Sephiroth, it might help. But we couldn't find them." Angeal said as he coughed a bit. With the adrenaline out of his system, he was beginning to feel weak.
"I'll find them." Zack said, a look of determination on his face.
"I don't have much hope, but I suppose if anyone has the luck to find them, it would be you." Angeal said, forcing a smile on his face for his former student.
"That's right!" Zack said, slipping a grin on his face as he helped Angeal in to the house, finding somewhere comfortable for the man to rest.
Genesis landed just outside the reactor. He had seen Sephiroth land somewhere around here and it was confirmed as he bent down a picked up a single black feather.
"What you doing?" Genesis asked as he crushed the feather in his hand.
He stalked up to the reactor, the door leading in was still opened. Why on earth had the man drug Cloud up here?
Unless... Sephiroth had active Jenova cells in him. Had he managed to find the rest of her cells? Did he plan to destroy what was left of them? Genesis had to hurry. He knew Angeal didn't have much time left after that fight and he didn't want Cloud with Sephiroth any longer than necessary.
He made his way as quickly as he dared through the reactor, most of the doors had simply been cut down. When he entered a room filled with strange pods, he realized that this had to be where Jenova was.
He looked up and realized that he was right as a giant plaque was mounted above another door, Jenova spelled out across the top.
He raised up to the door and spotted Cloud, who sat to the side of Sephiroth as the man tore away a metal contraption to reveal a tank holding a blue skinned thing that vaguely looked like a woman.
"Look at her Cloud, isn't she beautiful?" Sephiroth said with affection in his voice. "She's our mother and she has promised to give this world back to us. You, me and her, we'll rule this planet together. Nothing will take you away from me again."
"I've had enough of this." Genesis said, walking through the door, Rapier raised.
"You are one last annoyance I need to deal with." Sephiroth said, a calm rage in his voice.
Sephiroth swung his sword at Genesis as the man deflect the blow. In turn Genesis fired off a barrage of fireballs aimed straight for the other swordsman, careful not to damage Jenova.
"You could never beat me." Sephiroth taunted as he shrugged off the blast and came back at Genesis full force.
It was hard for Genesis to fight properly in the confined space of the reactor. He was used to getting some distance between himself and his opponent to properly use his materia. He did however manage to lead Sephiroth away from Jenova and Cloud.
"I never had something worth fighting for." Genesis said as swung Rapier back at Masamune. His muscles screamed at him, but he had to keep fighting.
"He's mine, mother's told me why my blood sings for him. She's as much a part of him and she is of me. We were made for each other." Sephiroth spat out. "He's been lost to you since the beginning. We will be together and we will rid this planet of traitors like you!"
"That's what Hojo did to him?" Genesis screamed as he fought Sephiroth off. Cloud had Jenova cells in him as well?
"I would thank him if he wasn't already dead." Sephiroth said, before finally disarming Genesis. Rapier flew across the room and buried itself deep in one of the pods.
"Cloud, I'm sorry." Genesis said, closing his eyes, waiting for the blow he knew would kill him.
But it never came and he opened his eyes to see Sephiroth's mouth open in a vacant scream. A large spike of ice had penetrated his chest. Cloud was leaning against the door way, holding something in his arms, panting heavily.
He took a few steps forward and fell down the stairs, Genesis scrambled to catch him as something rolled away.
"Cloud, Cloud, wake up, are you ok?" Genesis said frantically.
"Get away from him." Sephiroth growled as the spike in his chest disappeared. He bent down and picked up what Genesis could now see was Jenova's 'head'.
"I won't let you touch him again." Genesis growled.
Sephiroth just smirked and started stalking towards Genesis. "You can't keep me from what's mine."
"Go to hell!" Genesis yelled as a blue aura over took him and he held out his hand. A large fireball, almost big enough to envelope the room, exploded from his hand. The blast nearly destroyed all the pods and Sephiroth slammed up against the wall of the room, collapsing into the singed heap, still clutching Jenova's head.
"Let's get you out of here." Genesis said, lifting up a still unconscious Cloud. Now that he knew where Jenova was he would come and retrieve the cells later. For now he had to get Cloud away from Sephiroth.
He stepped out of the reactor. His left leg felt like it was on fire as he walked. Likely broken sometime during the fight and he had a large gash across his chest. All things he had missed in the haze of battle. Genesis knew that his time was likely short, but he had to get Cloud to safety. He spread his wing open and took to the skies.
The flight to the mansion was quick and he wasn't quiet at all as he stumbled in and laid Cloud down on a bed.
Zack came rushing over, covered in dust.
"What happened?" Zack said, realizing that Genesis was about to fall over.
"Sephiroth, he's been defeated, but it wasn't an easy fight." Genesis said as Zack helped the man lay down next to Cloud.
"I'm worried about Angeal. You don't look much better right now." Zack admitted.
"We found the Jenova cells or Sephiroth did rather. They're up at the reactor." Genesis relied. Zack might be the only chance at saving Angeal and himself.
"Alright, I'll go, just rest, alright? Cloud would be devastated if something happened to you after all this." Zack said before leaving the room.
Genesis just rolled over and held Cloud as his eyes slid closed.
Zack didn't know where to start. Finding the reactor by air had been easy. By foot was another story. As it was, he just looked lost.
"Need some more help?" Tifa said standing behind Zack.
Zack just spun around and offered her a small smile. "I need to get to the reactor. I just have no idea."
"I can show you the way!" Tifa said cheerfully.
"I couldn't take you up there." Zack said, shaking his hands. "A map or directions or something would be fine."
"I'm a guide, I've made the trip plenty of times." Tifa said sweetly. "You'd just get lost without me."
Zack thought a minute on his options. He didn't think that taking the girl was a good idea, but he needed to hurry to save Angeal. Genesis had said that Sephiroth was dealt with, too.
"Alright." Zack said with a sigh of defeat. "Just stay back if there is any trouble."
"Of course, mister SOLDIER!" Tifa said with a laugh.
"Zack." He corrected.
"Alright, Zack." Tifa said, before she started to head up the mountain.
The trip was less eventful than Zack thought it would be. They had run into a few wolves, which had been simple enough to take down. Even Tifa managed a few blows to one and Zack felt a little better about letting the girl come along.
Finally, when they reached the reactor, Zack turned to her. "I'm sorry, but I have to ask you to stay here. I won't be long."
"Leaving a lady up here all alone. I feel sorry for your girlfriend." Tifa said with a bit of a shy laugh.
Zack realized that she was obviously flirting with him. Maybe she wasn't as into Cloud as he had thought. "Well, I don't have a real girlfriend right now. Just a cute girl that's a friend back home. But after seeing you handle those wolves, I'm sure you'll be fine." He said with a wink.
"I'll just scream if I need you." Tifa said with a smile and Zack slipped into the reactor.
The smile fell on his face as he entered the room where Genesis and Sephiroth had fought. "Man..."
He looked up and saw Jenova's nameplate. He carefully made his way through the wreckage. He realized that he would never have survived the fight. Even the metal was burnt. At one time, there had been creatures in the pods, but they were just charred and ash now. A bit of glass broke under his feet as he made it into Jenova's chamber.
"What hell." Zack said, staring at an empty broken tube.
"There wasn't anything there." Zack said as he walked into the room. Cloud was sitting up, stroking Genesis's hair.
"Nothing where?" He still looked slightly confused. His eyes were a little glossy, too, Zack noted.
"The reactor. Are you alright, Cloud?" Zack wasn't sure how much Cloud remembered, if anything at all.
"Oh, yes, she's gone. Sephiroth took her. She's mad at me, but that's ok, I'm with Genesis." Cloud said, still stroking the man's hair.
"Cloud, you're creeping me out a bit." Zack said as Genesis started to stir.
"Zack? Did you find it?" Genesis said, sitting up a bit.
"Everything was gone, man." Zack said, looking away a bit.
"Sephiroth took her away." Cloud said, looking at Genesis with his slightly vacant eyes.
"He's still alive, how do you know?" Genesis said as he tensed.
"Because I can feel him." Cloud admitted, reaching out to touch Genesis.
"The experiment. What the hell did Hojo do to you." Genesis seethed a bit, looking at Cloud.
"I don't care, I'm with you. As long as I think about that, then I'm ok." Cloud said, leaning over and resting his head on Genesis's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what else to do." Zack said, shoulders slumped.
"I can help you. I can give you mother's gift." Cloud said, though his eyes now looked like Sephiroth's. He was slipping further away.
"I don't want you to do anything, Cloud. I need you to snap out of this. Your mother is down in the village, she isn't that creepy ancient." Genesis said, shaking Cloud a bit.
"I'm..." Cloud's eyes flashed back to normal for a moment. "I'm trying, but it hurts to fight her. Please Gen-" He slumped back over onto Genesis's shoulder, panting.
"Cloud, just stay with me." Genesis said, though he still felt rather weak himself.
"I have to help you, if I don't have you…" Cloud said before he kissed Genesis.
A tingling sensation went through the redhead's whole body. Then he realized that Cloud was passing some of his cells to him. He couldn't pull away. Genesis was afraid of what would happen when Cloud used the cells in his body like this, but he couldn't help it.
When it was over, Cloud just tiredly put his head on Genesis's chest. "That should help you. She's quiet now. I don't know for how long, though."
"That made it better?" Genesis said, rubbing his hand on Cloud's back. He could already feel the degradation fading.
Cloud just nodded. "When Sephiroth ordered me to him, I felt something like a dam break. I know what he means about the fire in the blood. I couldn't resist following him. When we got close to the reactor, I started to hear Jenova's voice calling us. She's angry. But she told us both fantastic things. She must of promised us different things based on what we wanted most. For Sephiroth, it was a family... and me. For me, she promised to heal you and told me how. I just had to serve her. I couldn't fight her influence at all until you showed up. She underestimated how much I loved you. Transferring some of the cells to you disrupted her connection. I just don't know for how long, though."
"I'm glad her cure worked, but Angeal." Genesis said with a bit of a pleading tone in his voice.
"Take me to him." Cloud said with a nod. Angeal had been in worse shape than Genesis.
"This way." Zack said and Cloud stood to follow him. Genesis slipped up right after the blonde, already feeling his wounds, new and old, repairing themselves.
Angeal lay out on a bed, looking pale and almost dead. Zack feared the worst.
"Angeal, man, are you still with us?" Zack said, kneeling at his bed side.
Angeal stayed still and Cloud placed a hand on him. "He's still alive." Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
He stood there and blushed a bit. "I have to..." He trailed off.
"You have to kiss him, too?" Genesis said and Cloud nodded.
"It's what she told me." Cloud said, a bit embarrassed.
"I promise not to be jealous, Cloud." The redhead offered his lover a small smile.
"I'm going to step out at least." Zack said, it was weird enough seeing Cloud and Genesis kiss, he didn't think he could handle watching Cloud kiss Angeal, even if it was to heal the man.
Genesis for his part just turned away. The gray in his hair was already receding.
Cloud just took a deep breath and leaned over to kiss Angeal, transferring more of his cells to the man. When it was over, he pulled back and smiled, the man already looked better.
Genesis just reached over and hugged Cloud. Sephiroth was still out there somewhere, but he and Angeal were cured and Cloud was here with him. Nothing else mattered to him.
"He's still alive. And I know he'll come for me." Cloud said, holding Genesis tight.
"I won't let him have you." Genesis said passionately.
Zack stepped back in the room. "What do we do now?"
"I'm not going back, not after everything that's happened." Cloud said, looking at Zack.
"We can't stay here. It wouldn't be safe." Genesis said softly.
"What about my mother? Even if I leave, Sephiroth knows about her and so does Shinra. She'd be a target." Cloud said, worry in his voice.
"We'll take her with us." Genesis said as Angeal stirred.
"But where do we go?" Zack said, thinking back on Aerith. Did this mean that he'd never see the girl again?
Angeal sat up in bed and held his head. "Why do you all look so depressed?" It was obvious that they had found the cure. Cloud was sitting here and Sephiroth was absent.
"We're trying to figure out where to go." Genesis explained.
"We could go to Banora. I'd like to make sure that my mother is safe and we could hide in the caves until we think of something else." Angeal explained.
"That sounds about as good a plan as any." Cloud said replied.
"We won't be able to stay long, but anything is better than staying here." Genesis acknowledged. They all kind of looked at Zack.
"What?" He said, looking back at the three of them.
"You don't have to run with us, you know. There isn't a reason you can't go back." Angeal pointed out.
"Are you kidding? From what you've told me, there's no way I go back there. Besides, if I did, they'd just send me after you. That's not going to happen." Zack said, crossing his arms.
Angeal breathed a small sigh of relief.
"Together!" Zack said as a cheer.
"Together." Cloud acknowledged. No matter what happened, they would be together and that's what mattered.
So that's it. The end of Serendipity. I do plan a sequel. I'm just going to take a small break to get further into a few of my other stories before I start it up. There a lot of loose ends to deal with that will lead us in to the next part of this story.
I hope you all enjoyed the ride. This has been a fun story to write.
Please leave a review.
Until next time- DHT