This is a Final Fantasy 7 fanfiction. I don't own the rights, copyright, or anything to do with it.

Warning: there are severe adult themes, including attempted suicide, murder, sex, yaoi (man on man), and general incest (siblings, but not by blood). If you're not a fan of this, or some crude humor that could result from it, please stop reading now.

As previously stated, this is a fanfiction. The scenario has changed drastically. Cloud and several others are in high-school, and Sephiroth, Angeal, and Genesis are all various teachers at Shin-ra. For this scenario, Hojo and Lucretia are Vincent's parents.

To Change His Tendency

"Vincent." Lucretia put her hands on her hips. "Vincent!" She checked the closet, one of his favorite hiding places. "Vincent, get out here, now!"

The boy appeared as if from nowhere, dressed in black, as he often was. His long hair was swept partially over his face, and his crimson eyes looked sad and empty. Held in his left hand was a knife.

Lucretia immediately grabbed Vincent's right wrist. "Vincent." she scolded, snatching the knife from him. He didn't resist, just blinked slowly while his mother tied a cotton bandage to his wrist. He walked quietly out of the apartment his parents had in the Shin-ra tower and followed her to the small hospital.

"Yes? Oh, him again?" asked the nurse.

"Yes." Lucretia sighed. "Right wrist this time."

Vincent held out his arm, rolling his eyes when they noticed several more cuts up his arm leading to the crook of his elbow. With how deep they were, his whole arm was frozen before the stitches were put in. It was swathed in gauze before he was returned to Lucretia.

"Weren't you and Hojo asked to lock up the sharp objects?" a doctor asked.

"We did. I'm not sure how he managed to get this one." Lucretia replied.

Vincent kept an eye on them, casually glancing around. Carefully, he slipped a scalpel off a work set and slipped it in his pocket. How would anyone understand what he was going through? He sighed and followed Lucretia back up to the apartment. He'd wait a few days, provided nothing happened.

Sadly, his thoughts of staying alive faded when Hojo came home. His father had his larger work-bag with him again, meaning Vincent would be asked to 'help'. He was right.

"Vincent, get over here and help me with this." said Hojo.

Vincent came, not fighting back as Hojo grabbed his thick black hair. Neither person was really his parent. His actual parents had abandoned him on the streets of Midgar, and Lucretia and Hojo had taken him in. All he had to go by was the last name he refused to give up; Valentine. All the legal paperwork listed him as Vincent Crecent, but he still signed things with the Valentine last name.

As a result of him not being biologically theirs, Hojo had found it fun to use Vincent in his 'experiments', since he was a leading scientist and doctor for the university portion of the expansive Shin-ra schools. It had been those experiments that had changed him from having brown eyes to the glittering crimson he now bore. No one believed Vincent that Hojo experimented on him, nor would anyone believe what else went on. His 'brother', one Sephiroth, didn't live here anymore, and was too busy to talk to him anymore. He'd been the only one to listen to Vincent.

Vincent found himself made to lie bent over the table. He could feel the scraping, the knife that actually cut into his flesh, more scraping, and finally the hot laser as it burned his flesh closed. There was a needle in there, somewhere, as well, but Vincent wasn't feeling well. Thanks to his repeated suicide attempts and the 'experiments', Vincent was borderline anemic. Now, he passed out, falling to the floor with a rather graceless thud.

O_O

Sephiroth looked up as the class filed in. The Turk twins, Reno and Cisnei, were absent, but Lockhart wasn't. Neither was Angeal's favorite, Zackary, and his friend, the chocobo. Speaking of chocobo's . . . He frowned when he saw the slender bird standing outside, tied to the tree again.

"Strife."

The blonde looked over from talking with Zack. "Yeah?"

"What did I tell you about the chocobo?"

"Not to tie him to the tree. I didn't. He's tied to the sign in front of your car."

Sephiroth just sighed and shook his head. The long, silver braid wavered back and forth, making some of the girls swoon. "Has anyone seen . . . never mind."

Vincent staggered in, dropping to his seat gracelessly. He tried to pay attention to class, but his head was hurting too much.

Sephiroth strode over and placed a hand on Vincent's forehead. "If you're not feeling well you should have stayed home." He looked up. "Class is dismissed." He stopped Vincent. "What's wrong?"

Vincent sighed. "Hojo." he said, trying to wet his lips. Why was he so thirsty?

"What about dad?"

Vincent fainted, his lithe body getting caught by the equally lithe, yet also muscular, Sephiroth. The older changed his grip slightly and carried him down to the nurse's office, where Vincent remained for the rest of the day.

O_O

The door opened and closed with only a slight struggle.

"You're late, Vincent." Lucretia called from the kitchen. She looked out when there was no answer. "Sephiroth. I wasn't expecting you."

"I know." He shifted the boy flopped over his back. "Vincent could hardly stand, so I thought I'd bring him home."

Hojo stepped out of his study. "Sephiroth, how good of you to visit."

Sephiroth gave Hojo a look. "I need to talk to you." he said. Carefully, he put Vincent down on the couch. There was a bit of blood on the bandages on his right arm.

"What is it?" Lucretia asked. Hojo and Sephiroth joined her in the kitchen.

"When did Vincent's eyes turn crimson?"

"They what?" Lucretia asked.

Sephiroth already knew the answer, he just waited to see if they knew why, or had even observed the change.

"I have no idea." Hojo said quickly.

Sephiroth's eyes narrowed. He now had a possible culprit. "It was two years ago." he said. "When I started teaching and couldn't spend a lot of time with him anymore. He came to me, rubbing his eyes like they hurt. He had a fever then, too."

"So, what's your point?" Hojo asked.

"What did you do to him, now? He's burning a terrible fever and hasn't woken up since I took him to the nurse's office."

"What makes you think your father's done anything to him?" Lucretia asked, turning from mashing the potatoes.

Sephiroth looked at her, his eyes flickering from normal to lizard-like. He gripped his head, sitting down to wait out the horrid pain.

"Sephiroth?" asked Lucretia. She came over and touched his shoulder.

He gasped, the pain over with. There had to be something wrong with him, but right now, his focus was his poor baby brother. "He tried to tell me something before he passed out. The only word he got out was 'Hojo'. I just wanted to hear it from you guys if anything's been happening to him."

"He's been attempting suicide." said Lucretia. "That's why all the swords are locked in a safe and all the knives are in a toolbox."

Sephiroth wondered if he should mention the scalpel in Vincent's pocket when a low moan from the living room caught his attention. He got up and walked over to his brother. "Vincent?"

Vincent looked up. His red eyes were bloodshot, and there was some blood on his lip. He swallowed and tried to reach for Sephiroth.

Sephiroth took the outstretched hand, looking down when he felt something drag over his skin. "Do you cut your nails?" he asked, looking at the scratches.

"Yes." Vincent made a face. Something was interfering with his speech. When he ran his tongue over his teeth, his eyes widened, and he put his hands over his mouth.

"What is it?" Sephiroth sat beside him and brushed a hand through the thick raven hair.

Vincent looked up at him. "My teeth." he said, opening his mouth just enough to show his brother that his incisors were longer. Or at least sharper.

"It's alright, Vincent." said Sephiroth, holding him close. He sighed inwardly. There were things he hadn't told Vincent, things that had been happening since he'd left the home to live on his own. Perhaps it was time to let his brother in on a few things, but here, and not now.

"Dinner."

Sephiroth helped Vincent up, and the pair walked over to have dinner. "Vincent won't be coming home tomorrow." he said.

"Why?" Hojo asked, again a little too quickly.

"He's going to be staying with me tomorrow. He's missed quite a few lessons, and his other teachers, Angeal and Genesis, will be over as well, so we can review things with him so he can catch up."

"Sounds like a good idea." said Lucretia. "Vincent could use the help."

Vincent only palmed his pocket, where the scalpel was.

O_O

Sephiroth carefully unwound the braid as he got ready for his shower. The next day was going to be difficult, not only with the classes he had to teach, but also because he was basically going to rat out Hojo to his brother. He knew what was wrong with his eyes, why they glowed like a predator's and why they flitted and changed from human to lizard-like. It was Mako, a precious energy source that was used almost everywhere but was still an unknown. Just before he'd moved out, Hojo had held him down and used an eye-rinse devise to expose his eyes to Mako. Sephiroth's eyes had always been blue-green, but now, they glowed when in dark or foggy areas. It allowed to him to see and observe things better, but the headaches he got for it were not worth the perks.

Carefully, he stepped into the shower stall and closed the door. He sighed. There was a lot to do, but right now, he just needed a shower.

He screamed as the water hit his chest and face, turning away. It wasn't water. Someone had switched the pipe for liquid Mako. His back ached, and he managed to get the tap turned off. The pain! Opening the door, he stumbled out into the bathroom. He dropped to his knees. His head began to ache, too. There was a horrible, tearing sensation in his back, and he fell to the floor, his silver hair glittering as it blanketed his unconscious form.

O_O

It was his good graces it was colder inside. He'd have to thank Angeal for breaking the heater later. It meant that he could hide it, at least for today.

Vincent looked over at him as the class filed in. He nearly jumped as Reno pounced on him.

"Wass-up, yo?"

"Get off me." Vincent growled.

"Aw, the little emo-puppy's pissed." teased Cisnei.

"Leave him alone." said Sephiroth. He tried to sit comfortably in his seat. A hard feat now that there was something attached to his left shoulder. He glanced out the window to see Zack and Cloud just arriving. As usual, Cloud was on a chocobo, but seemed delighted that there was finally a hitching post for his bird.

The bell rang, and the stragglers came running in to class. Sephiroth looked over the class. This was going to be a long day.

O_O

"Hey, Sephiroth, you alright?" asked Angeal. He was the workshop teacher, teaching the students how to fix simple things like missing buttons or slightly more complex things like plumbing.

"No, I'm not alright." Sephiroth replied as they headed down to the music class, where Genesis taught. It was also Vincent's last class of the day.

Genesis met them at the door. "Hey." he said. "Vincent's just packing his instrument; he'll be out in a moment."

"Hi." Vincent said as he stepped out. He rubbed his shoulder.

"Come on, Vincent. You've got some catch-up studies to do." said Sephiroth.

Vincent followed in silence, noticing the other two teachers were coming, too. So, Sephiroth was only taking him home for academic reasons. Still, he couldn't help but watch his brother's back.

After they'd stepped inside, Vincent asked. "So, is that a new addition?"

"Hmm?" asked Angeal and Genesis.

"Your observant, Vincent." said Sephiroth. He shrugged his coat off, rolling his eyes when he heard the other two teachers gasp. "Come off it, you already knew about the Mako that changed my eyes."

"He did that to you, too?" asked Vincent.

Angeal looked at Vincent. His eyes were the same color as Sephiroth's. "Did what?"

"There's no need to hide it from Vincent." Sephiroth said. He looked at his brother. "Hojo tested me, too. Doused my eyes in Mako to see what it would do to me. I used to have bad eyesight, you remember my glasses?"

Vincent nodded.

"The Mako cured me, made my eyesight better. It was a scientific marvel. When Angeal was brought in to the hospital after being attacked by monsters, they were sure they would have to take his eyes. But thanks to the experiment done to me, his eyes were saved. Aquatic blue became the sign of those whose eyes were healed by Mako.

"And then, the headaches began. Other patients committed suicide to end the pain. There were only five who didn't, that the medical teams managed to save. I was one of them. Angeal was another. They found Genesis clawing his throat. Zackary Fair was found having a seizure. The only one not affected was a kid in a chocobo pen. Do you know why?"

Vincent shook his head.

"Chocobo droppings." said Angeal. "The chemicals in chocobo droppings counteracted the effects of the Mako that was in his eyes. But they couldn't take him away from the chocobos. One particular black one wouldn't let them remove the kid. So they studied him there. Put the other four in with him. Each one was adopted by a chocobo that they still have to keep."

"Chocolina's not going to be happy." said Genesis.

"Chocolina?" Vincent asked.

"His chocobo." said Angeal. "But what's that on your back, Sephiroth?"

Sephiroth stretched, letting the black appendage move. "A wing." he said casually. "Some ass switched the water tank for one with Mako last night, and this is the end result."

"You do know Hope's going to want to nose – er, beak, that."

"Hope? Do all the chocobo have weird names?" Vincent asked.

"Cloud interpreted their names. It wasn't our choice." said Angeal. "That kid is a born chocobo-whisperer."

"They say one of his parents was a chocobo, and that's why his hair sticks out the way it does." said Genesis.

"Vincent, what did you mean when you said Hojo did it to us, too?" Angeal asked, trying to get back on subject.

"My eyes turned red from the Mako." Vincent replied.

"Red? But Mako turns just about anything blue." said Genesis.

Sephiroth motioned for them all to sit in the living room. "Is there anything else that's been happening, Vincent?"

"Tests. Mostly on my blood. Hojo keeps saying that there's something wrong with me, that tests that would have normal results are coming up strange."

"Well, the fact your eyes turned red is a strange fact." said Angeal.

"I . . . I think he's looking for my heirloom."

That caught Sephiroth. "Heirloom?"

"My family. My real family. They were killed because of it." Vincent didn't look comfortable. "My twin sister was taken captive because she was a mage, like my mother."

Sephiroth put a hand on Vincent's shoulder. "Who took her?' he asked.

Vincent swallowed before looking at him. "Hojo."

"Why didn't he take you with her?' asked Genesis.

"I'm not a mage. I have no skills with the Materia, so I was left alone. Your mother saw me and took me in, adopted me to be your brother." Vincent palmed his pocket again. "I keep trying to see her."

"See who?" asked Angeal.

"Yuffie, my sister. They have her at the medical wing, trying to find where . . . where it is."

"Why would they have her in the medical wing?" Genesis asked. "What is this heirloom?"

Vincent looked like he was going to be sick. "It's red Materia." he said. "A specific kind."

"Vincent, do you have it?" Sephiroth asked.

Vincent closed his eyes. He wanted to answer Sephiroth truthfully, but he was afraid. He sighed and looked at Sephiroth. "Don't be afraid." he said, taking his older brother's hand. "Just look at my eyes."

Sephiroth wasn't sure what was going to happen, but he did as instructed. There seemed to be a swirl of light and colors, and then he found himself looking at something. A child looking up at his bleeding mother. He convulses as she touches his chest, then lies there, almost dead. His mother collapses, her hand on the girl that was nearby. Two teams come rushing in. One takes the boy; the other is led by Hojo and takes the girl somewhere else. The girl is tortured, but she refuses to say what they want to know. Three years of fighting, before she finally loses her resolve. One word leaves her mouth before she falls into unconsciousness: Vincent.

Then, the vision was over. Vincent dropped like a stone, unconscious. Sadly, the scalpel had slipped in his pocket, and now impaled him in the leg, close to the hip.

Sephiroth gasped, almost as though he hadn't been breathing. "Vincent?" He rolled the younger over. "VINCENT!"

Angeal and Genesis looked from Sephiroth to Vincent. "I'll call the hospital." said Genesis.

Sephiroth scooped Vincent up. "There isn't time." He hurried out, holding Vincent close. He was well aware of the fact that his younger brother wasn't breathing.

The nurse looked up. "Him again?" she asked.

"He's not breathing!" Sephiroth practically shouted. "He fell over, while we were talking."

The nurse motioned for him to put Vincent down. But Sephiroth refused to let them just take Vincent without him there. "He's still a minor! There has to be someone there to make the choices for him!"

"Fine." said the nurse. She placed the breathing mask on Vincent's face, trying to force air into the boy. "He's barely taking it. I have to call a doctor."

Sephiroth took Vincent's hand, noticing that the nurse had left the scalpel, and hadn't even mentioned it. "Vincent, it's alright. I'm here for you." He leaned closer. "I love you."

He looked up as the doctor came in. "Hi, dad." he said.

Hojo looked startled. "I didn't think you'd still be here. And what happened to you?"

"No time for that. Vincent needs help." Sephiroth glowered at Hojo.

"Yes, yes. In good time." Hojo walked over. "So, what was the issue?"

"He's not breathing!"

Hojo sighed. "You're so overly dramatic, Sephiroth, just like your mother." He removed the mask from Vincent's face and fit a tube down the boy's throat directly to his lungs. A machine was connected to force air into the boy. "I don't see what the fuss is about." he muttered as he rather roughly removed the scalpel. "He's much easier to deal with if he's not moving." He stitched the wound shut crudely, then proceeded to check over Vincent's chest.

"I never said there was anything wrong with his chest." said Sephiroth.

"Oh, go hug your chocobo." Hojo snorted. "It's a precaution, nothing more."

Vincent shifted and tried to breathe on his own, struggling when he couldn't. The machine was adjusted to let him try to breathe while giving him a higher oxygen rate. While this would have normally made one drowsy, Vincent became more alert. And he reacted violently.

Before Hojo knew what was going on he found his face smashed into the wall. Vincent snarled, his face twisting into something inhuman. His hair bristled, and his eyes glowed. "Where is Yuffie?" he growled.

"The little mage whelp?" Hojo laughed. "She died shortly after telling us you had the Protomateria, boy."

Vincent snarled again, only to stop when a pair of strong arms held him. "Please stop, Vincent." It was Sephiroth. "Please. I know you hate him, but he's still my father."

Vincent settled, turning and leaning on Sephiroth. "Ok." he whispered. "I'll stop, but only for you."

"What happened to the tube that was in your throat?" Sephiroth asked.

Vincent shrugged. "I'm better, now, so can we go back to studying?" he asked, trying to sound innocent to what they'd really been talking about.

"Yeah, let's go."

O_O

"Did you mean it when you said that?" Vincent asked. He seemed nervous.

"When I said what?" Sephiroth asked. "Looks like Angeal and Genesis went home."

"When you said you loved me?"

Sephiroth looked at him. "Yes, but . . ." He was startled when Vincent kissed him. "But, Vincent . . ."

"We're not related by blood, Sephiroth, so it's alright, isn't it?" Vincent asked. He leaned close to Sephiroth and kissed him again. "Besides, I am eighteen."

"But, when?" Sephiroth asked.

"Last week." Vincent shed his shirt as he licked Sephiroth's ear. He could feel a heat rising in his body, a desire to be with the other. He quickly rid Sephiroth of his shirt as well.

Sephiroth returned the kisses, helping Vincent strip them of their clothes. Almost as soon as they were bare, Vincent arched close to him, rubbing their hardened lengths together. His breath came in desperate, wanting gasps as his hands played down Sephiroth's chest. Sephiroth's hands wandered down Vincent's slender hips, stopping a moment before pushing a finger into his entrance.

Vincent gasped, leaning into Sephiroth's chest. The intrusion had been sudden, but not unwanted. He snuggled closer to Sephiroth, leaning upwards for another kiss. He bit at the older's lower lip, moaning softly as a second finger slid in and began to stretch his entrance. He'd wanted this, dreamed of it for months, and now, he had it.

Sephiroth held Vincent close, looking lovingly down at the younger as they kissed again. He carefully lay Vincent back on the couch, sliding his fingers out of him as he did so. "I love you, Vincent." he whispered as he slid his hard cock into the other.

Vincent cried out. The feeling wasn't at all what he'd expected. It hurt, like he was being split apart. He bit his lip, trying to will the pain away as Sephiroth moved deeper into him. His hands reached for some kind of comfort, gripping his lover tightly.

"Are you alright?" Sephiroth asked.

Vincent nodded, not wanting to chicken out. He felt Sephiroth stop, waiting for him to adjust. It took only a few seconds before the tight ring of muscles relaxed. "I'm ok." he whispered.

The pain shot through him again as Sephiroth began to move. He tried to not cry out, but it was impossible. Just as he was about to plead for him to stop, Sephiroth's member brushed against a bundle of nerves, making Vincent cry out in pleasure rather than pain.

The older seemed to know what he'd hit and angled himself to strike it again. Wave after rapturous wave cascaded over Vincent, and he began to gasp for air between pleasure-filled cries.

Sephiroth wasn't about to leave his brother unattended, either, and wrapped his long fingers around Vincent's length, massaging it as he continued to ram his own into the younger's body.

Vincent was on the edge of bliss. He felt a tightening in his stomach, and his seed spewed everywhere, causing his body to tighten on Sephiroth. Moments later, he was filled with the other's love seed.

He must have dozed off, because the next thing he knew, Sephiroth was carrying him to bed, where he was snuggled close to the other's chest.

O_O

"You were gone all weekend." said Lucretia as Vincent came home from school. She crossed her arms. "Where were you?"

"With Sephiroth." Vincent replied. "He was helping me with my studies." It was partially true. During the day, Sephiroth had helped him study, and had introduced him to Hope, a half-grown chocobo who looked like a silver punk-rocker. The chocobo had taken a liking to Vincent, offering him one of the bird's prized feathers. When asked what it meant, Sephiroth had said it was a gift, that only people trusted by a chocobo received one directly from the bird itself. He'd then shown Vincent the silver feather he carried in his pocket.

"And what of your last suicide attempt?" Lucretia asked.

"Huh?"

"Don't play dumb with me. I know you were at the hospital with a scalpel jabbed into your body."

"I slipped." Vincent replied. Again, not the whole truth, but it would be better if Lucretia didn't know what they had been talking about.

Lucretia sighed. "The final exams are coming up. You'd better pass. Otherwise it'll look bad on Hojo when you start helping him around the lab."

"What?" Vincent asked.

"It's been decided. You're going to be helping Hojo around the lab and will become the scientist Sephiroth was supposed to be."

"But I don't want to."

Lucretia glowered at him. "And what did you want to do? Teach at some school? Parade around with your girlfriend?"

"Huh?" Vincent didn't know where that last accusation came from. "What do you mean? I don't have a girlfriend."

Lucretia yanked his head to one side and touched the bruised flesh. "Where did you get this, then? I doubt you can make hickeys on your neck like that yourself."

Darn it! Sephiroth, in the heat of loving passion, had left him with a love-bite. "Ran into a nail." he said.

"On what?" Lucretia asked.

"My coffin!" Vincent snarled back, pulling his face away from Lucretia;s grasp. He stood there, trying to regain control. He knew that if he got to upset, the Protomateria would act up, cause changes, and then he'd be a test subject. He suddenly grabbed his head.

"Vincent?" Lucretia's tone changed to someone worried. "Vincent, what's wrong?"

"My head." he groaned, dropping to his knees. Without meaning to, he began to claw at his face.

"Come on." Lucretia got him to stand and hurried him outside the building to a fenced-off yard. There were several chocobo in there, including the silver Hope and red Chocolina. The chocobo's began to wark and pree, causing the boy sleeping on the haystack to get up.

Cloud looked over, then motioned for Lucretia to let Vincent in. He turned to the black chocobo and whispered something to it, then looked back.

Vincent carefully stepped into the pen. He'd heard of people being pecked to death by the birds if they didn't like the person. His head ached so badly.

Chocolina, a gorgeous red with gold-tipped wings, warked and looked at him. She lowered her head to look him in the eyes, then raised her head again, looking around. She warked again, and a few more chocobo came over, while she returned to her nest.

Hope was among this group, and it honestly looked like a bunch of punky teenagers. They were all chocobo just getting their feathers instead of just the down. Hope warked at him, remembering him from his visit with Sephiroth. Hope pulled a green one aside, and Vincent guessed it belonged to someone else.

Vincent put his hand out, palm up. He was holding a few greens, which the chocobo loved. A few pecked at the greens, and then, they stepped aside. Vincent looked up and swallowed.

The chocobo now looking at him was a full grown adult. He was a solid black with an odd ring of red feathers across his brow and red wings. It looked at the other chocobo, and they walked away. The large bird lowered its head and looked Vincent in the eyes with its own golden-red.

Lucretia gasped. "Vincent, get away from that one!" she cried. She heard more than saw Sephiroth and the other two teachers come running.

"What the heck?" asked Angeal.

Cloud walked over, watching the staring match. He never said anything when he was in the pen. It was like he was in a whole different world. His clothes were different, too. They were rough, almost ragged and ratty, and they could quite easily see the strange markings across his arms, and the necklace with the feathers around his neck.

The huge black lay down, nipping Vincent's shirt and pulling him close. Vincent did as he was asked, and the bird drew him near, so he was lying against the soft feathers. The chocobo looked around, then warked at Cloud.

Cloud almost immediately made a trilling sound, which excited the other chocobo. He turned and tugged on Sephiroth's hand, then on Genesis and Angeal.

"So, which chocobo picked Vincent?" asked Sephiroth as he climbed into the pen.

Cloud looked back. "Chaos." he replied. He only ever said intelligible words when asked as long as he was with the chocobo.

"Chaos?" Genesis looked back at the bird that kept Vincent protectively close. He smiled as Chocolina came over and tried to pull him to her nest. "They're beautiful, Chocolina." he said, in admiration of the four little chicks peeping around in the nest. "May I hold one?"

The red chocobo nodded, watching as Genesis picked up a bright red chick that had a small tuft of black on its head. The chick whistled and looked around, then fluttered over to Genesis's shoulder.

Chocolina warked at Genesis as he tried to put the chick back.

"I'm sorry. Did I do something wrong?"

Cloud seemed to appear near the nest. "She's giving you the chick." he said. "It's become a fight for food, and there isn't enough for all the chicks. She wants you to have that one, so she knows one's safe."

Genesis nodded, letting the chick up on his shoulder again. It slid down this time, making itself comfortable in his chest pocket. He looked up at Chocolina. "I'll take good care of the chick."

Chocolina preed at him.

"She says she wants you to name the chick."

Genesis looked down at the little ball of fluff. "Loveless, after my favorite poem." he said.

Chocolina seemed pleased, then looked over at where Chaos had suddenly wrapped a wing over Vincent protectively. All her feathers bristled, and she made a loud warking noice.

Cloud looked over. He quickly ran over to his black chocobo and made some sounds. The chocobo warked back, and Cloud made a loud trilling noice. This time, the chocobo started to clump together, those with human companions herding them into the group.

Angeal tried to settle his chocobo, but to no avail. The green bird seemed antsy about something, and pressed Angeal closer to the middle.

"What's wrong?" asked Sephiroth.

"I'm not sure." said Genesis. "But it has Cloud spooked." He looked over. "Damn, it's Rufus."

"And his father." added Angeal.

Cloud snapped his fingers, and two wolves came to his side. He snorted at one, and it snapped at President Shin-ra.

"Call it off." said the President.

Cloud's blue eyes narrowed. "What do you want?"

"A bird." said Rufus. "I'm here to get a bird."

"They are not your to pick and choose at leisure." Cloud returned. "My family is not your plaything."

"How quaint. You still believe the birds to be your family." sneered Rufus. "Well, they're my birds. You just showed up in the pen one day."

"I believe the last of 'your birds' died in the pit you constantly throw these poor creatures in for fights." said Cloud. "These are my birds."

"Well I still want one, and if you value their lives, you'll let me have one. Or should I cut off the precious greens they eat?"

Cloud said nothing. Sephiroth noticed that the strange symbols on Cloud's arms were glittering in a strange pattern.

"Glad you see it our way." snorted Rufus. "I want the red and black one. The big one with the red wings and ring of red on its head."

"You can't have it. He's no longer mine to give." said Cloud.

"What? That ill-tempered bird belongs to someone else?" The two wolves were shot and killed in an instant, and the president had Cloud by the throat.

The black warked at Cloud questioningly, but when Cloud didn't respond, it remained where it was.

"Who has the bird?" the president asked.

Cloud tried to answer, but he couldn't breathe. The president noted this and loosened his grip. "Well?"

"The chocobo in question is nesting." Cloud returned. Anyone who even knew only a little about chocobos knew to never disturb a nesting bird.

"Then I want the green." said Rufus.

"Will you continue to only pick from those that are already taken?" Cloud asked. "You're thicker than I thought."

"Why you little . . ." Rufus climbed over the fence and came at Cloud. While the chocobo hadn't attacked the President because he had a hand on Cloud, they thought nothing of going after Rufus.

Cloud made a loud warking sound, and the chocobo stopped. "Get out of the pen, both of you." he said. "These birds are not for your entertainment."

"We're not leaving until we get one of the birds." said the President. He noticed the marks on Cloud's arms. "Hello, and what's this?"

Cloud said nothing.

"Rufus, get back to the car."

The spoiled brat son did as he was asked, angry that he didn't have a bird to toss to the fight pit.

Cloud watched as the President circled around him. "What do you want?"

"Those marks on your arms are interesting." said the President. He made a hand signal, and Cloud's hand came up to his neck. He pulled the dart out, but the drug was already in his blood.

"If the birds know what's good for them, they won't attack."

Cloud made a soft noise to the black chocobo before dropping unconscious. His thin body was picked up by one of the security officers, and he was taken away.

"What's going on?" asked Angeal once the chocobo moved to let them walk around again. He petted his green bird. "Lucretia, what's going on?"

"I'm not sure. I stopped being a scientist when I found out I was pregnant with Sephiroth. I have no idea what they could want with Cloud." She looked around. "Where's Vincent?"

Chaos moved his wing, showing Vincent shivering near his side. He put his wing back over the boy as Lucretia came close, but he made no move to attack her. This changed when Sephiroth suddenly dropped like a stone, a sleeper dart imbedded in his neck.

Angeal ran to his friend's side, only to drop to the ground with him. Genesis fell soon after, trying to land so the baby chocobo wouldn't be hurt.

The armed infantry regiment of the Shin-ra security force came over.

The chocobo knew they would never be able to defend their people against those guns. The only ones that stayed with the fallen were the chocobo that had adopted them. Even then, they could only watch as the three men were taken.

"Where's the boy?" one asked. "The one called Vincent."

Chaos ruffled his feathers, but remained sitting.

One of the men grabbed Lucretia roughly. "Where is the kid?"

Chaos knew Lucretia meant something to Vincent when the boy under his wing gasped. He moved the feathered appendage, but held Vincent back a moment. It looked the boy in the eyes for a moment, then watched as he left to keep Lucretia safe.

"I'm here." Vincent said. "I'll come quietly if . . . if you promise to leave Mom and chocobo alone."

"Good boy." The infantry officer led Vincent away into a truck, where the other three had been so rudely tossed.

O_O

Zack was already there when they arrived. It was to Vincent's better graces that Angeal and the others were up, because the boy started sputtering indecipherable words at them.

"Slow down." said Angeal. "What is it?"

"They have Cloud!" Zack cried, his first intelligible word since they got there. "They're doing something weird to him."

"Move it!" said the soldier.

"You promised not to hurt the chocobo." said Vincent softly. He sighed as they were marched over to a large testing room.

Cloud screamed as they shocked his body again. He had a chain around his leg, and there was another around his neck.

"Come on, kid. Make the marks do their work." said the scientist.

"They are." said Vincent suddenly.

Cloud looked at him, his blue eyes wide with fright. "Chaos told you?" he asked barely more than a whisper.

Vincent nodded.

"Well, we have the others, guess we don't need to just play with this one, now." said the scientist.

"We're supposed to wait for the guy in charge." said another.

"I'm here, I'm here." Hojo appeared. "Ah, Sephiroth, so good of you to finally join me in my work."

"Go fuck yourself." Sephiroth returned. "What do you want with us?" He was aware of the fact that he couldn't slug Hojo because his hands were chained to the wall. But he other options.

Hojo walked over and gripped the feathers of his wing. "So, this is what happens when your back is doused in Mako. How interesting."

Sephiroth growled low in his throat.

Hojo tightened his grip, making Sephiroth grit his teeth to keep from shouting. "Listen to me, boy. I made you. Made you what you are, what you will become. You are, and always have been, my pet project."

Sephiroth kneed him one in the groin. "As I said before, go fuck yourself."

Hojo continued along. "I see Gillian kept her end of the bargain. You've grown into a fine specimen, Angeal. Hollander would be proud to know the genetic manipulation didn't disfigure you. Yet."

Angeal didn't say anything.

Genesis was shaking, however, by the time Hojo managed to saunter over. "You're a genetic disappointment, I'm afraid. Sick at every illness that walks through, weak in body and spirit. Your only strong suit is your memory. Like a camera, able to recall every detail of every little thing." He forced Genesis to look up at him. "We'll fix the other parts, don't worry about that."

He reached Vincent. "You know what I want from you. But I'm sure you'll be just like Sephiroth, stubborn to the end. That's fine. I have ways of making you behave."

He then walked up to Zack. "Ah, yes. The half-breed. Not quite a success, but not entirely a failure." He tilted Zack's head up. "Continuing to work on you is going to be fun."

Zack swallowed and watched as Hojo reached Cloud.

"You, I'm not so sure about." he said. "You can talk to chocobo, command them to your will." His hand traced down one of Cloud's arms. "These markings are very intricate. I'll enjoy studying them."

Cloud made a low noise in his throat that sounded like a pissed-off chocobo.

"Well," said Hojo, turning to look at them all, "Let's begin!"

O_O

Seven days. Each day was a blur of pain. Chunks of skin removed, blood taken, shocks when they fought back. If Hojo didn't get the results he wanted, they were whipped as well.

Zack nearly died. He collapsed, hanging by his wrists, unable to hold himself up after the fifth day. He now lay inside a cage, like an animal.

Angeal was almost the same. If it wasn't for the fact that his shackles were around his legs and throat they probably would have been as rough with his as they were Zack. The neck collar was off him, now, and he lay docile and obedient on the floor.

They all did, now. The last two to fall had been Vincent and Cloud. Cloud had collapsed first, crying out like a wounded chocobo. He remained where he fell, his breathing labored, still struggling every time they came to test him.

Vincent never lost his calm demeanor, and it irked Hojo to no end. He hadn't even flinched when his precious sister, Yuffie, had been walked out in front of him, parts of her body made of machine. His only words to her were, "I kept my promise." Her lack of a response told him she was already dead, that it was only a puppet of his sister standing there. When he'd fallen, it had been from exhaustion. Six days of staying awake, standing there, had taken its toll, and he collapsed.

It was now the eighth day. Through all the pain and torture, Hojo had managed to get the results of the tests. He had the answers he wanted, from most of them. Only Vincent and Cloud remained mysteries to him.

Cloud's DNA was everywhere, not allowing Hojo to pinpoint exactly what he was or where he'd come from. If something pointed to a monster, something else pointed to being human, and something else to being a common houseplant. His blood was similar. One vial said chocobo, another said human, and another said monster. Nothing with the boy was consistent.

As for Vincent, he'd been subject to X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, and the Protomateria never showed up once in the results. And blood work did the same thing Cloud's did; pointed everywhere but at what he truly was.

"Tell me, boy." said Hojo, walking over to Vincent. "If I were to tear into your chest and grab your heart, squeezing it until it could no longer beat without a struggle, would the Protomateria appear?"

"Not the way you want it." Vincent replied. "You'll never be able to get your hands on it."

"I NEED that Materia." Hojo growled.

"Why? You can't use it. It would only dissolve."

Hojo backhanded Vincent. "Toss him in the cage with the others."

Vincent was dragged to the large cage where the other five lay. He crawled over to Cloud. "Can you help us?" he asked.

"With what?" Cloud asked.

Vincent pointed at the marks on Cloud's arm. "That's my mother's writing." he said. "She was a mage with amazing skills."

"But only a mage can undo the charm." Cloud whispered.

Vincent smiled at him. "I can do it. The Protomateria."

Cloud nodded. "What do you need me to do?"

Vincent looked over. "Take Zack, Angel, and Genesis out of here."

"What about Sephiroth?"

"I'll take care of him."

Cloud nodded and stood. "You do know I'm not quite an adult yet."

"That's fine. As long as you can run." Vincent stood as well, motioning for the others to stand with them.

"What's going on?" asked Zack.

Vincent's right hand glowed red. "I'm getting us out."

"Dad's going to wonder about this." said Cloud, right before the symbols on his arms lit up.

At first, they didn't notice anything, until Zack noticed he was starting to look up at Cloud. The blonde's hair started to look more segmented, and seemed to travel down his back, which was bowed forward. Clouds skin began to peel upwards, in segments, and turn the same color as his hair. His face elongated, becoming hard and bone-like. His feet split and became hard, with claws. And then, it was over.

A loud screech filled the room. A chocobo's screech.

Cloud looked back and knelt, letting Zack, Angeal, and Genesis on his back. As Vincent had guessed, there was no room for anyone else.

"Zack, you look grossed out." said Angeal.

"I had wet dreams of doing a chocobo." Zack said, still shocked that his best friend was actually a bird. "I'm going to throw up now."

Cloud looked back quickly at that and gave him a 'not on the feathers' look.

And then, Vincent. His hair bristled again, and his face elongated into a muzzle. His pale skin darkened to a midnight black, and claws grew from his nails. From his back spread two insidious looking wings, red as blood. A wicked, whip-like tail stretched behind him. And a red slit formed in his chest, glittering like a forbidden jewel.

"This is just weird." said Genesis. He checked his pocket for the baby chocobo, who had survived by eating half of whatever he'd gotten for food. "Hold on tight, Loveless."

Vincent let out a thunderous roar, which tore through the cage bars and bent them outwards. "Just run." he snarled. He grabbed Sephiroth and sprinted forward, snarling and scaring any scientist into getting out of their way. They reached an outer wall. But there was something, or rather, someone, in the way.

Hojo.

"So, that's the power of the Protomateria." he grinned. "Give it here."

Vincent let go of Sephiroth, turning to face Hojo. "You scum." he said. "You experimented on unborn children, not one, but three that were conceived relatively close together. And you forced an experiment on two young teenagers to see what you could create, knowing it would kill them to birth what you had wanted. You never expected one to live, nor have twins. So you killed her, destroyed her daughter, to get at the son you wanted. Now, you die."

It was over in a moment. Vincent tackled Hojo, shattering the wall behind him. The pair fell down the nearby ravine, the last thing the others heard was Hojo's dying scream.

Cloud grabbed Sephiroth in his beak and ran, carrying them all to the safety of the chocobo pen. There, he let them go.

Lucretia looked up. "Where's Vincent?" she asked. It was obvious she'd been worried, and that Hojo had told her nothing. "Where's Sephiroth?"

"I'm here, mother." Sephiroth walked over and held her tight. "I'm right here."

Lucretia clung to him, still crying. "Hojo said you were dead. That Shin-ra had taken you all to the fight pit and let you die at the hands of monsters."

"It's alright. I'm here." Sephiroth felt his mother tense. "What is it?"

"What is that?" Lucretia asked, pointing to something in the distance.

A figure was walking over, a large blood-red cape over their shoulders. Long hair flowed behind the person, and black clothed their body. Something golden glittered on the left arm and looked almost sinister.

Chaos looked over and warked. All the chocobo looked over as well.

The figure came close enough for them to see that it was male, and he wore a red band over his forehead, laced through his hair. He stopped in front of the large golden chocobo before finally speaking.

"I think you looked better as a human." He held up the golden claw on his left hand, and there was a soft glow. The chocobo began to get smaller, his beak vanished into his face, and the feather smoothed out into skin. His feet closed together, and the claws vanished. Marking appeared on the arms again, but the plumes on the top of his head stayed fluffy and spiked.

"Thanks, Vincent." said Cloud. "But the way, I think Dad's taken a shine to you."

Sephiroth eyed the large Chaos. "That's your father?" he asked.

Cloud nodded. "Racer's my mother." he said with a smile. He looked at Genesis. "And you take good care of my sister and that chick, got it?"

Genesis blinked. "Sister as in . . . Chocolina?"

Cloud nodded again. "We're from the same nesting. Hope and Delight are my half-brothers."

"So that's the green one." said Vincent. "But, then, which one picked Zack?"

"Me." Cloud replied. "I couldn't tell him, though, that I was reason he didn't get sicker from the Mako in his eyes. So I asked Snow to act like he'd picked Zack."

"Dumb question." said Zack, finally managing to half-wrap his head around all the new information. "That night, you know . . ."

"It's alright." said Cloud. "As long as I stay human, it's not weird."

Lucretia looked tentatively at Vincent. "You used the Protomateria, didn't you?"

"Yeah." Vincent replied. "It, uh, changed a few things." He looked down at the claw.

"Where's Hojo?"

"He's dead." said Vincent. "I'll tell you what happened. But it starts a while ago. Back when Sephiroth was first conceived . . ."