fandom: final fantasy vii (post Advent Children)
content: slight warning for mild breathplay
word count: 4665
summary: For a long time they've been like two planets circling the same bright star, on a collision course doomed to destroy. Maybe it's time to start going the same direction for a change.
AN: this is probably set in the same ‘verse as “the appointed time” and “falls the shadow”, but you don’t need to read the other two to read this one. also i came across this artwork of Cloud and Sephiroth in the rain, and it made me keysmash and think thoughts about toppy!Cloud. Title from Thea Gilmore’s Razor Valentine.
love you like a ruin
There are nights Cloud sits in his room and tries to decide if he hates himself more for the things he’s done, or the things he failed to do, or if it even matters anymore which is worse.
He just hates, and it eats him up inside and makes him think about Aeris and her pretty smile, her soft hands and how she knew, she had to know, that she was going to die. How much Cloud hates that she had to, hates that she knew and didn’t tell him it was all right that he wouldn’t be able to save her.
Hates how Zack died in the rain, on his back, his eyes wide and empty while their seemingly inextinguishable light finally dimmed into darkness. Cloud will live to be a thousand before he ever forgets what it felt like, Zack’s hands pulling him down on his chest, the smear of blood thick in Cloud’s hair, on his face.
Nibelheim burning. Midgar burning. Where was all that rain when it could have done some good? Why did things burn when they shouldn’t? Why does the light always die when he needs to see it the most?
Even Cloudis irritated at himself when he gets like this. He knows he can’t spend the rest of his life alone, berating himself for things he can’t change.
Spike, seriously, get over yourself.
Sometimes Cloud will imagine Zack saying that to him and tugging at one of the ornery spikes of his hair, and it will make Cloud smile, shake his head and stand up, leave the past where it belongs in half-remembered shadows and pointless regrets. But sometimes, like tonight, when the rain falls too loud against the windows he’ll think I can’t remember what his voice sounded like, anymore and the weight is suddenly too much for him to carry on his own.
There’s only one person who deserves to carry such a cross alongside of him.
Cloud leaves the warmth of his home and wanders the rain-soaked streets of Edge, aimless but knowing that, somehow, he’ll find the man he’s looking for exactly when he needs to.
The thought makes him feel like he’s burning into nothing, into ashes that will be caught and washed away by the rain, but he doesn’t stop walking, searching. Waiting.
* * *
Cloud finds him an hour after he leaves his apartment, standing in the middle of an empty street, as if he’s been waiting for Cloud all along. Maybe he has.
Sephiroth is statue-still, his silver hair wet and clinging to his face, the soaked leather of his long black coat. His eyes are so bright, even the glint of the street lights off Masamune pales in comparison. Cloud shoves him without thinking, letting the rage of how relieved he is to see the man get the better of him. He knows it’s stupid. Fighting Sephiroth like this, full of emotions he can’t reign in, always is. Cloud doesn’t even have a weapon. Any he’s brought with him have all been turned inward, pointed sharp towards his own pounding heart, useless against any outside threat.
“Do you even,” Cloud shouts, and oh, god, it feels so good to yell, to give voice to all those angry things that simmer and swirl inside of him, “Do you even care that he’s dead, that you broke his fucking heart when you betrayed him? Do you even think about Zack, Sephiroth? Do you fucking even care?”
Sephiroth tilts his head, studying Cloud like he’s some strange creature in a lab, a comparison that does nothing to quiet the storm of Cloud’s rage. “No,” he says, and gives that half-smirk, makes that little hmm noise of his, and Cloud loses whatever self-control he has left and throws himself forward, bare hands stretched out like he’s going to choke the life out of him even though Cloud has no idea if that’s possible, because the truth of it is he doesn’t know if he’s imagining this, imagining Sephiroth, if maybe he’s finally lost his mind after all.
It’s one thing to hear the planet talk to you. It’s another to image a man who should be dead, a man you’ve killed twice before, standing alive and well in the rain right before your eyes.
But the body he slams into feels real enough, a wall of muscle and wet hair and chilled skin, and Cloud can hear himself snarling goddamn you, he loved you, over and over and two seconds later he realizes he’s sobbing, arms wrapped around Sephiroth because he’s the only person who can see Cloud like this, ever, because he’s the only person who Cloud won’t disappoint by falling apart.
* * *
The rain doesn’t let up and finally Cloud pulls away, wiping at his face and pushing the strands of his hair back so he can see.
Sephiroth says, “So your hair doesn’t stick up when it’s wet. I wondered about that.”
Cloud blinks at him, shakes his head slightly. “Huh?” It’s not a very graceful reply, but he doesn’t have to be graceful right now. He scowls, shivering, arms wrapping around himself.
Sephiroth reaches out and tugs at a strand of Cloud’s hair (just like Zack, in Cloud’s memories, but nothing like Zack, nothing at all), but doesn’t say anything. He just quirks one perfect, silver eyebrow and waits.
Cloud’s had enough people ask him questions about his distinctive blonde spikes to know what he’s getting at. It’s bizarre to think it’s Sephiroth of all people asking him, but Cloud answers anyway. “It’ll just do it again when it dries.”
Cloud laughs, raw and painful, and takes a step back. “Why do you care? Why do you care about that, of all things, when you don’t care about Zack?” He doesn’t actually know why his hair does that, but he’s not about to admit it.
“Oh, but my dear Cloud, you don’t want me to care about Zack, do you? You don’t want me to care about him, or Aeris, or any of it.” Sephiroth smiles at him and holds his arms out. “Come here and use me so you can hate yourself a little less, Strife.” His laugh is low, mocking. “You think I don’t know that you do that? You’re many things, my angry little stormcloud, but mysterious is not one of them. Your motives are hardly inscrutable.”
“Oh, yeah?” Cloud decides to ignore the nickname for the moment, and instead he moves back into Sephiroth’s space and reaches out, grabs a handful of wet, silver hair and pulls. “If you know me so well, Sephiroth, what the fuck do you think I want right now?” Cloud’s honestly curious as to the answer because he’s not sure he knows, either.
“Well, Cloud, I’d say you want to kill me,” Sephiroth drawls, that odd intonation of his that makes Cloud want to claw his fucking eyes out.
Good to see you, Cloud.
“Always,” Cloud breathes, shaking, pulling harder and it makes Sephiroth’s eyes flash hot, bright with something that interests Cloud in ways it really, really shouldn’t. “I always want that. But maybe I want something else, first.”
Sephiroth holds his arms out again and says, “Then come and take it, little stormcloud. If you can. If you dare.”
The rain starts to pick up again, turning with sudden ferocity into hail. That dangerous spark of attraction between them follows suit and flares to life just as violently, and Cloud finds himself back against the man’s warm heat, both hands tangled in Sephiroth’s hair now, biting his mouth until he tastes blood.
“So you still bleed,” Cloud tells him, breathing fucked up, too fast, his fingers pulling so hard at Sephiroth’s hair he can’t imagine how he’s not pulling it out by the fistfull.
“It would seem so,” Sephiroth says, and there’s an odd rustling sound as a wing rises gracefully into the darkness and lifts them up, right into the sky, where the hard rain hits against them like bullets.
* * *
Cloud has no idea where they are, it’s not his apartment and it’s not one of the usual cheap inns they stay at, it’s very likely they’re not even in Edge anymore. It’s stupid that he doesn’t know. He could die here, but he doesn’t think he will.
The room is dark, with a bed and a low, cold fireplace, lights that either don’t work or aren’t turned on. Cloud remembers, for some reason, how Sephiroth once told him that he could see better in the dark, that sometimes too much light hurt his eyes.
Sometimes Cloud forgets that he had known this man before, that they had spoken as General and private, troops in the same army, united under the same cause. Like any other starry-eyed cadet he’d idolized General Sephiroth, hero of the Wutai war and First Class SOLDIER. But as far as Cloud was concerned, that man was one more casualty of the Nibelheim fires, one more thing left behind to smolder in the embers.
It occurs to Cloud that he’s always thought of Sephiroth as one or the other, man or monster, but never considered the idea he might be both. Certainly there were those in Wutai who never would have thought him anything other than a scourge, at the time when Cloud was still gazing at him with stars in his young eyes. He doesn’t like thinking this way. It’s easier if he keeps Sephiroth firmly in one box, the one marked archnemesis (though Cloud’s box would, most likely, just say Sephiroth; archnemesis seems a bit too dramatic for his tastes), and forgets that Sephiroth was ever anything else.
Anything else is a man who shares experiences, memories, with Cloud. Shares Zack. What would Zack think, if he were here? He wouldn’t have let Sephiroth kill Aeris, but if he had, if he hadn’t been able to stop it, he wouldn’t give up on Sephiroth. On finding the man inside the monster, the man he’d known.
Instead of the bitter taste of failure he expects, Cloud thinks maybe, just maybe, he’s doing what Zack would want him to do.
Or maybe you’re trying to justify what you know is going to happen.
It’s time to stop thinking. Cloud’s fingers are freezing but unrelenting on the buttons of Sephiroth’s long jacket. There’s one missing and he looks up, sees those strange, cat-like eyes fixed on his and, shockingly, he fights back the smallest of smiles. “I still have it. You’re not getting it back, though.”
He stole one of the buttons, in a fit of strange insanity, after a night they’d spent together in Cloud’s bed. Sephiroth was sleeping at the time. Do monsters sleep? Cloud pushes at the leather until it falls to the floor. Time to stop thinking.
Sephiroth’s fingers skirt over the cold skin of Cloud’s jaw, tracing lightly up his cheekbone. “Of all the souvenirs you could take, Cloud. What an odd choice.”
Cloud looks him straight in the eyes. “Your sword wouldn’t fit in my coat pocket.”
Sephiroth makes a noise that is some version of a laugh, almost as if he can’t quite stop himself in time. Cloud wonders if they are two men who hate themselves more than they hate each other, and he thinks, I wonder if that’s why he does this. If my hatred is how he plans to atone for what he’s done.
“No,” Cloud breathes, choking on emotion that threatens to drown him, pushing Sephiroth with hands that are unsteady, shaking. “You don’t get to want that. You don’t get to -- there’s nothing you’re allowed to feel sorry for, nothing, you can’t, you tried to destroy the world and you --”
Sephiroth grabs at his hair, but he’s not pulling -- he’s not rough at all, not like Cloud expects him to be, not like Cloud is -- and he hisses, “Do you want to know what I regret, Cloud? Is that it? Only that I failed, don’t you understand? Only that I failed.”
Cloud sees the hate twisting Sephiroth’s inhumanly beautiful features and thinks, but that’s what I regret, too, and he swallows, hard, waiting for the feeling to come back, the betrayal that will drive him to his knees. But it doesn’t come, not this time.
Sephiroth glares at him, eyes slitted again, narrowed. “Do you know why I don’t kill you, my little stormcloud? Because you want it too badly. You think you deserve it. You think it would finally set you free and I. Won’t. Let. You. Go.” Sephiroth is breathing loudly, showing more emotion than Cloud’s ever seen from him, man or monster or both. “You’re mine, you’ve always been mine, my adversary, my lover, my soldier, my murderer, it doesn’t matter, why don’t you understand that?”
“Shut up,” Cloud hisses, burning up with anger and want, pushing again, hands rough and he’s shoving Sephiroth back towards the bed, a dark shadow against the fall wall. “Shut up, shut up, that’s not true, I don’t want to die and I don’t want you to fucking kill me.” But there may be some truth to the words he doesn’t want to hear.
“You will never have the pleasure of my blade at your throat, Strife, never bless my sword with your blood. You will not use me to cleanse your soul. Masamune and I...we bring death, Cloud. Not redemption.”
Cloud shoves him back so that Sephiroth falls on the bed, doing so with more grace than should be possible. “Do you come up with these lines ahead of time? I think you practice them when I’m not here.”
That flash in Sephiroth’s eyes again, unholy amusement, but the grin he gets in return is feral, a baring of teeth without humor. He is reclining on his elbows with one knee drawn up, and Cloud hates how his body responds to the sight, how even though Cloud knows Sephiroth courts his hate it isn’t going to stop him from taking what’s being offered.
Cloud climbs on the bed, graceless and almost awkward in his haste. He kisses Sephiroth, bites hard again at his mouth, the place he’s already made bleed. Sephiroth arches under him and the feeling is indescribable, all that power beneath Cloud, willing and letting him do what he wants. Wanting him, because of course Cloud can feel that, too.
“Would you prefer I didn’t want it?” Sephiroth purrs as Cloud bites his neck, undoing straps and buckles. “I could pretend I didn’t, like you always do. Or like you used to, you seem to have stopped that, as of late. You’re certainly not doing that now.”
“Shut up,” Cloud hisses, barely aware of himself speaking, kissing him again and moaning into Sephiroth’s mouth as he grinds down against him. Fuck, it feels so good, why does this feel so good?
”You could make me be quiet,” Sephiroth tells him, voice dark, hands tight on Cloud’s hips to pull him down harder. “But I think you want to hear me moan, don’t you, Cloud?”
“Will it make you stop saying shit like that? Then, yes,” Cloud mutters, stretching out on top of him, or trying to -- he’s annoyed by all the various things he has to undo to get Sephiroth naked. They get tangled together as he works at it and the they’re kissing hotly, Cloud half out of his mind with the feel of all that skin warming up quick beneath his hands. He doesn’t ever do this when they’re together, touch this much, he usually rations them far more stingily than this.
He almost leaves Sephiroth’s boots on, they’re too fucking complicated. Sephiroth half-sits and reaches around Cloud, who is straddling his lap, to undo them. The display of flexibility makes Cloud’s mouth go dry, and Sephiroth smirks up at him through his hair, hanging in his face and around his shoulders, damp strands brushing against Cloud everywhere, a caress of its own. Cloud has no idea how old Sephiroth is, but he looks younger than he usually does when he smiles through his hair like that.
Zack must have seen him like this, Cloud thinks, and if he’s horrified at the sudden rush of heat shuddering through him at the thought of how they would have looked together, it’s not going to be until later.
He and Sephiroth have done this before when they’re both naked, Cloud’s sure of it. He’s straddled Sephiroth, he knows that, definitely, it’s something Cloud remembers when he touches himself in bed during the darkest part of night; riding Sephiroth’s cock, hands braced on his chest while Sephiroth’s long fingers worked Cloud’s cock like a weapon.
But this is different, and maybe it’s because Cloud is the aggressor here but he doesn’t think it’s just that. Cloud’s never been gentle in bed, a fact which seemed to surprise his (admittedly few) other lovers, as if they expected him to be because he’s reserved by nature, because he’s a hero, because he’s not a cruel man by any stretch of the imagination. But Cloud is a man used to violence, and he responds in kind when he’s overwhelmed; and in some ways, pleasure is harder for him to accept than pain.
With Sephiroth, there’s no constant need to be careful, which is something Cloud admits he finds appealing. But this time, right now, is not about allowing himself to let go of all of those constraints he places on himself. This is about taking pleasure violently, leaving bruises because he wants to see them there, not because he doesn’t have to worry about leaving them in the first place.
“That’s it,” Sephiroth murmurs in his ear, as Cloud bites his chest and shoves Sephiroth’s legs apart, “Give in to it, Cloud. Hurt me. Mark me. Know how much I want it, and give it to me anyway.”
Cloud is too lost to do anything other than exactly that; he leaves bruises on Sephiroth’s chest, the corded muscles of his stomach, the skin of his upper thighs. He watches while he bites there, slowly and taking his time, eyes rolled upwards to watch while his teeth break skin and Sephiroth arches on the bed, hissing in pleasure.
When Cloud sucks him, he uses just enough teeth to keep it on the knife-edge of pleasure/pain. He can hear Sephiroth moan when Cloud chokes on his cock, but he never once forces Cloud to take him that deep, never does anything but fist Cloud’s hair and hold on. Cloud releases him from the sweet prison of his mouth and moves up Sephiroth’s body, fucks Sephiroth’s mouth with two fingers to get them wet.
They stare at each other while Cloud does it, poised above him, shaking and breathing so loudly it sounds like he’s panting. Sephiroth bites the tips of Cloud’s fingers, and Cloud catches a moan behind his teeth before he moves again, shoving his wet fingers inside of Sephiroth with no warning. Cloud fucks him hard and when he hits the right spot, he hears Sephiroth moan and sees his head falls back, throat bared as his back snaps into a hard arch.
Cloud crawls up Sephiroth’s body and straddles him again, anchoring himself with one hand in Sephiroth’s hair and the other braced against the wall. “Suck me,” he says, barely recognizing his own voice, and now it’s his turn to throw his head back, moaning loudly as Sephiroth takes him deep, tongue a sweet torture playing up and down the sensitive shaft. It’s almost playful, the way he’s sucking Cloud, his thumbs rubbing gentle circles on Cloud’s hipbones as if he is trying to calm Cloud down.
Cloud reaches down and drags his thumb over Sephiroth’s bottom lip, feels it stretched around his cock, and he can’t wait anymore. He pulls his cock free with a strangled growl, moves down and roughly knees Sephiroth’s legs apart so he can get between them. He thought he was going to do this with Sephiroth on his hands and knees, and he wants that, but he’s too impatient.
It takes Cloud a minute to get the position right, to push in with a hard thrust of his hips and then it’s all tight heat around his cock, sending shivers of electricity tingling through him, and he goes slow at first not from any desire to be gentle, but more to savor the sensation, how good it feels. But it doesn’t last, he’s caught by Sephiroth and how he looks beneath him (beneath him, beneath him) on the bed, the way Sephiroth’s eyes are glowing up at him, the intense look of pleasure as Cloud starts to move faster, harder.
Cloud fucks him with one hand around Sephiroth’s throat, so that he can tighten his fingers and watch the other man gasp for breath while he does it. It makes the muscles around Cloud’s cock tighten even further, and when Sephiroth’s body instinctively fights the lack of air, Cloud can hear himself saying things and moaning words that don’t make sense.
When he holds on a shade too long, one of Sephiroth’s hands drops away from Cloud’s hip, his fingers grabbing at Cloud’s wrist like he’s going to pull it away, make Cloud stop choking him. Instead, Sephiroth tightens his fingers like he’s daring Cloud to hold on longer, do it harder, like he wants more.
Cloud fucks him so hard the bed feels like it’s going to collapse beneath them, and when he comes it feels like lightning has split him in half. He dimly feels Sephiroth’s hips buck beneath him, feels him spill hot on his stomach when Cloud finally lets him breathe, and he buries his face in the crook of Sephiroth’s neck and comes down to the sound of Sephiroth dragging air into his lungs in gulps, like he’s drowning.
The sound of it is beautiful, like a lover’s soft whisper, like an endearment.
And then Cloud feels something light glide down his hair, down the heated skin of his back. Sephiroth’s hand moves over him in an idle, almost thoughtless caress; once, twice, before he stops and rests his hand in the small of Cloud’s back.
Of all the things that have passed between them that night, that brief touch is the most dangerous. For Sephiroth, because he likely wasn’t aware of having done it, and for Cloud, because he noticed it in the first place.
* * *
Afterwards, Cloud pulls on his pants and watches Sephiroth move around the room. He’s sitting cross-legged on the bed, not relaxed, exactly, but perhaps closer to it than usual. Archenemy or not, Cloud’s never been very good at this part, when you’re expected to talk to each other.
But Sephiroth is possibly less prone to understanding the expected interpersonal mores than Cloud, and doesn’t say anything to break the silence that has settled between them. He’s also walking around naked, which Cloud finds suddenly very funny; maybe it’s the tension release, maybe it’s his aforementioned awkwardness, or maybe it’s just funny on its own merits to see Sephiroth lighting a fire and messing with the lights while completely nude.
Sephiroth turns, having most likely heard Cloud’s laugh, as softly-breathed as it was; mako enhancements, maybe, or possibly a side-effect of their always razor-sharp awareness of each other.
Cloud’s amusement fades at the sight of the other man’s body in the sudden light of the fire; he’s beautiful, there’s no way around that, and with the flames dancing merrily in the hearth he’s like some kind of fallen angel glorying in the pits of Hell.
There are marks on him from Cloud’s teeth, on his thighs and his neck. Cloud’s fingers around his throat will leave bruises, Cloud can see skin already purpling. It makes him it again, the rush of feeling Sephiroth beneath him, struggling, and yet never giving in, never saying enough.
“I used to think I’d faint if you looked at me,” Cloud says, breaking the silence at length. “When I was a cadet. If you’d told me I’d see you naked one day, I probably would have.” It might be a trick of the light, but he thinks he sees Sephiroth’s mouth tighten at this mention of days long forgotten, their other shared past, the one that doesn’t burn.
It’s either guilt over what he’s done that makes him not want to hear about it, or else he really was telling Cloud the truth, earlier, and the only thing he regrets is his failure.
And right then, Cloud decides it doesn’t matter. This is who they are. Their history is a blood-stained sword with a jagged blade and a torn hilt, a weapon wielded often and always striking true. Any sword is a thing of pristine beauty when first it comes out of the fire; a pretty adornment, shining and symbolic. But then you land that first killing blow, and then another, and another -- and it becomes what it’s always meant to be. Deadly. A weapon.
Cloud stands up, stretches slowly. His pants are mostly buttoned, the top two still undone, but he doesn’t bother doing them up. He yawns, instead. “Do you have anything to eat here, or do you have to fly to a market or something? Where are we, anyway?”
“In the heart of the darkness of the cosmos,” Sephiroth responds, immediately, as if he were waiting for it.
“I’m going to hit you,” Cloud says, companionably enough, moving closer to him. “Seriously, where are we?”
“Kalm,” Sephiroth answers. His mouth quirks. “So, close enough.”
Cloud smiles without bothering to try and hide it. He reaches up and very gently brushes a strand of hair out of Sephiroth’s face. He has no idea what to say, but it seems like he should say something.
You and I are like planets that circle the same bright star. We can either move in opposition and destroy each other, or we can try going the same way for once.
Cloud hears Zack’s voice again in his mind, but this time, it’s as clear as if the man himself is standing there and whispering in his ear, ’Atta boy, Spike. ‘Atta boy.
Cloud has no idea how to express any of this, so he just leans in and kisses Sephiroth. And this time, no one bleeds.
* * *
Cloud wakes up right when the night sky is softened by the dawn, lazy fingers of light tickling their way through the darkness. This is when he always leaves, as if there is something inherently wrong about waking up with Sephiroth in the brightness of the day’s full sun.
Cloud’s naked, covered in quite a few marks of his own, and Sephiroth’s hair is tangled around him like thin, silver chains. His mouth feels swollen, bruised.
Sephiroth is awake next to him, watching him steadily with those arsenic-pale eyes, eerie with their mako glow but just as beautiful as the rest of him. He doesn’t say anything, but his eyes briefly flicker towards the window and the slowly-lightening sky before meeting Cloud’s own.
Cloud patiently disentangles the strands of hair from himself. “Give me some of that blanket, I’m cold. And keep your hair on your own side,” he mumbles, settling back down. He can feel the weight of Sephiroth’s eyes on him as he drifts off to sleep.
Cloud doesn’t dream about Zack.