fandom: final fantasy vii (post Advent Children)
rating: teen and up
contains: angst? (how surprising for them :| )
word count: ~900
summary: it’s easier when he’s a monster.
AN: introspective character piece! also short, for me. lyrics by Placebo, who again, must all be secret Sephiroth/Cloud shippers. Song is The Crawl.
the lie will unfurl
Sephiroth is in the small living room, sprawled with his usual dangerous grace in a comfortable, worn armchair. The first thing that Cloud notices is that he’s not wearing his usual getup of leather and straps, though he is wearing the boots. The second thing he notices is that Sephiroth is…reading a book?
“What are you doing?” Cloud asks, struck motionless by the sight.
“You don’t expect me to actually answer that question, do you?” Sephiroth asks, sparing him a glance. “I would think it obvious, my delusional little puppet, but do let me know if you need additional clues.”
Cloud’s brows draw together in a fierce scowl. It’s mostly from confusion, though; he’s used to Sephiroth’s fondness for epithets-as-insults, finds they lack the sting of, say, a blade driven hot through living flesh.
No, what makes him so unsettled is how normal Sephiroth looks — not like a monster slumbering in his dark cave, dreaming of the world torn bloody beneath his talons. Cloud cannot process the idea that Sephiroth reads books, that he even owns clothing made for something other than battle.
“I think Vincent Valentine is attractive,” Cloud tells him, because it’s the first thing he can think of to say that might make this what he’s used to, what he wants; the two of them clashing in a symphony of metal and fury, there is no place here for normalcy.
Sephiroth turns a page in his book. He doesn’t bother to look at Cloud. “I think maybe you just have a fetish for leather coats.”
Cloud backs out of the room so fast, he nearly trips on the rug in the hallway. Of all the ways Sephiroth has ever knocked him off-balance, this is perhaps the most unexpected.
* * *
Three days later, Cloud finds Sephiroth running through sword drills in the small yard behind the house in Kalm where he’s been living. His body moves with the masamune like they are one, effortless and so beautiful it makes Cloud ache.
You were a hero, he thinks, but even to his own ears the words fall flat, dull. His illusions have long been tarnished; war brings nothing but horror, it doesn’t matter on whose side you fight.
Sephiroth notices him there, eventually. They face each other across the dead grass, adversaries who have become lovers, the destroyer and the savior bound together with unseen ties all twisted into knots.
“I’m not afraid to die, you know,” Cloud tells him, breathless, drawing his weapon but not advancing.
Sephiroth’s blade slides effortlessly into a ready stance, the movement as familiar as breathing. “That isn’t why I want to kill you.”
Cloud nods, breathing slowly through his nose, steadying himself. He bows first, the proper protocol for a man facing a master of Sephiroth’s skill, barely thinking about what he’s doing, how he’s treating this like a sparring match instead of their usual.
Sephiroth lowers his sword, a brief expression of confusion flashing across his features before they settle into the familiar narrow-eyed rage. Cloud tenses, readying for battle as Sephiroth stalks towards him —
— only to stand there, breathing in the chill of the late autumn air as Sephiroth storms into the house, leaving Cloud standing alone with his sword drawn, in a garden full of things that are dead.
* * *
“I want you to lay there and suffer for me while I fall asleep, Cloud,” Sephiroth tells him, stroking Cloud’s damp hair off his forehead.
Cloud is half-asleep, drifting on a rush of pain and pleasure, but he still manages to roll his eyes at how ridiculous that sounds. “D’you want me to say, what, that I can’t sleep because you’re my very own nightmare?”
Sephiroth blinks his cat eyes at him. Cloud notices, perhaps for the first time, that there is a spill of freckles dusting lightly across the bridge of his nose. “Mm. You could do better, I imagine. But it’s late, so I suppose that will have to do.”
“We don’t all have your skill with monologues,” Cloud tells him, flat-voiced, and the smile he gets in return is tinged with malice but no less amused.
“That’s because you don’t read as many books as I do,” Sephiroth tells him, raking his hair back and away from his face with those beautiful, cruel fingers.
Cloud has seen him do this before, on occasion; but then Sephiroth grabs something off his own wrist and reaches back behind his head, twisting his hair into a ponytail and securing it with what turns out to be a piece of elastic. It is the single most human gesture Cloud has ever seen from him.
“What are you?” Cloud blurts out, and his voice is a shattered, broken thing in the dark.
Sephiroth’s fair lashes lower, resting briefly on his cheeks before he opens them again, gazes steadily at Cloud with mako-bright eyes that are startlingly, uncomfortably familiar; Cloud sees them every time he looks in a mirror.
“I don’t know,” Sephiroth says, softly.
Twice Sephiroth has driven his blade into Cloud’s chest, but this is as close as he’s ever come to breaking Cloud’s heart.