timeline: vaguely after Advent Children
summary: some things between them are inevitable. this is only one of them.
rating: mature (though not explicit)
AN: title from aeschylus’ poem. hi! i’m new here, suddenly obsessed, and sharing :)
the appointed time
“Do you know why I like fucking you, Cloud?” Sephiroth murmurs, breath like knife-pricks on Cloud’s skin, words just as pointed and sharp.
Cloud makes a noise that is aimless, a lost thing.
“It’s like killing you all over again,” Sephiroth answers, sighing, like this is some gift Cloud gives him - and maybe it is.
It feels sweeter than dying when Sephiroth drives inside of him, thrusts into Cloud’s body with his own, like he once thrust the Masamune. Cloud’s body yields like it always does and lets him in, deadly as he may be, an invader sheathed and welcomed.
Sephiroth moves above him like a storm, muscles tensing and coiling, ever-shifting. Cloud wishes he could reach out and touch the wing, feel the fine caress of soft feathers, but he doesn’t try. He knows better. Cloud’s wrists are crossed above his head, not because Sephiroth holds them there, but because he wishes them to be immobile.
The pleasure is a thing unexpected, pulling a wounded, wicked sound out of Cloud as his body snaps into a hard arch as the tension breaks. When he opens his eyes, Sephiroth is staring at him. Cloud’s legs are wrapped around Sephiroth’s narrow hips. Some of Sephiroth’s hair is in Cloud’s mouth. If nothing else, he’s at least used to that.
Sephiroth always fucks Cloud so he can look down at him while he does it, with those inhuman eyes, bright and cold, caught like forgotten jewels in a face too cruel to be beautiful.
Or maybe that’s why he’s beautiful.
Cloud doesn’t know why he wants this. He never has.
* * *
Sephiroth falls into sleep as gracefully as he does everything else. Cloud sits on the bed next to him, awake, knees drawn up to his chest. His arms are wrapped desperately around himself, as if he’s trying to put himself back together, or keep himself from flying apart into pieces. Too late.
The first time Sephiroth fell asleep afterwards, Cloud didn’t know what to make of it. If it were some bizarre gesture of the man’s trust, Cloud didn’t want it. Or else he didn’t want to want such a thing.
It occurs to Cloud as he sits there, watching Sephiroth’s eyes move as he dreams, that Sephiroth knows Cloud won’t skewer him as he sleeps and so that’s why he does it. A sign of trust that Cloud is a better man, and insists on a fair fight? Or a subtle mockery that says you are weak, you will always be weak, this is how little I fear you.
Cloud thinks he could maybe touch Sephiroth now, if he wants. He does want to, in some fashion, though to cause agony or pleasure is -- at the moment, anyway -- still up in the air. So he doesn’t do anything at all.
Cloud turns his head and looks out of the window as the sun rises. He will leave this room and when he comes back to it, he will be alone. There will be a feather on his pillow, maybe, a sign that someone was here. Claiming ownership, probably. One single black feather amidst white sheets says so much.
Or maybe it will be there because the one-winged angel sheds. Cloud feels his mouth tilt into a smile. Nothing can be terrifying all the time, not even Sephiroth.
He wonders what Sephiroth dreams about. If he’ll remember them when he wakes up.
Cloud has nice dreams, now, for the most part. The sunlight and Aeris’ smile, Zak’s awkward hugs and the infectious way he laughed. Cloud cherishes these dreams. It’s why he doesn’t sleep, when Sephiroth is here. So that Sephiroth can’t have them.
And because having those dreams in the first place (while a monster sleeps in your bed, limbs tangled, breaths falling even) feels like a betrayal.
* * *
“Why?” Cloud asks him, once, only once. He’s caught up in that maelstrom of guilt and pleasure and hate, those darker things inside of him finally given free reign. Meanwhile, something so much worse is pinning Cloud to the bed, holding him there with nothing more than the force of his presence and his sly, catlike eyes.
“You ask tiresome questions,” Sephiroth tells him, and Cloud’s mouth tightens, because he doesn’t. He barely speaks when they’re together. Either they are fighting or fucking, and there are precious few words needed to do either. Sometimes Cloud thinks his problem in life is that he didn’t ask enough questions when he should have.
Sephiroth laughs, and it’s a warm sound, warmer than it should be from such a cold man. “There’s more than one way to ask a question, my dear Cloud. You ask a thousand with your eyes alone.”
“Do you get these sayings from somewhere?” Cloud mutters, irritated. “Fortune cookies?”
Sephiroth makes a sharp noise of surprised amusement. There are many unexpected things between them. Sex is just one. There are delicate moments, like this, a sad glimpse of the friends they might have been.
Maybe there is some other future where they’re together in bed, sunlight streaming through sparkling glass windows, touching languidly with lovers’ hands instead of tearing at each other with talons in the dark.
Sephiroth bites Cloud on the chest, near the same spot where he once slid cold metal through warm skin, blood blooming red on fair white. Cloud moans loudly, shuddering from pleasure he doesn’t want and can’t stop and maybe you like that, don’t you, because if you could stop it then you would have to make a choice and actually do it.
Sephiroth does his level best to take everything away that Cloud cherishes, including his wrongly-but-firmly-held belief that he is somehow not responsible for what happens here between them. As if Cloud does not leave marks of his own.
Sephiroth’s head rests briefly on Cloud’s shoulder. Cloud can feel the frantic beat of Sephiroth’s heart, racing as fast as his own. Sephiroth brushes a kiss across the delicate skin of Cloud’s pulse, tastes it, hisses like a serpent scenting prey.
“Sometimes I can’t decide what I like better, Cloud. Killing you, or fucking you. Maybe one day, I’ll do them both at the same time.”
Cloud pulls away and regards Sephiroth steadily; his lover, his nemesis, the dark side of himself. He imagines if there’s some other future in which they are together, it is just as crowded with shadows as this one. They’re just different shadows.
(If there is some future full of light and love, that future is in the Lifestream with Aeris and Zack. Those two who burned so bright they’ve always been a beacon in the darkness when Cloud felt so hopelessly, utterly lost. Cloud is not a man for whom the heavens shine. He is a man for whom the heavens weep.)
“And maybe one day,” Cloud tells him, face serious, voice a worldly imitation of Sephiroth’s own, “You’ll wake up, and I’ll have stolen your coat. I bet it would look good on me.”
Several heartbeats pass. “It would be too long on you. You’d trip. Where would that leave you and your ridiculous sword?”
“I could have it hemmed. I know some people.” Cloud shrugs. He can feel the blood on his shoulder, the sting from the bite. It feels good, aching and alive, in that way only pain can.
Sephiroth looks like he’s trying not to laugh, at least a little. Maybe that’s what they do, here. Sephiroth forces pleasure and Cloud forces laughter, because it’s the only way they’ll ever know either. Fate made captives of them both, didn’t it? They were given to other masters without choice, bound by chains not of their making and impossible to break.
Maybe it was inevitable. Maybe they were inevitable, shadows and all.
* * *
Cloud leaves Sephiroth sprawled in the tangled sheets of his bed, arm flung out opposite his wing. Seeking balance in unconsciousness, perfection even in dreams.
Cloud is beginning to think Sephiroth dreams about the army, about SOLDIER drills and those halcyon days of bed checks and physical fitness tests. Only a man in love with rigidity and structure could be so devastated when he lost it.
Tell me what you cherish most, so that I may take it from you.
On his way out, Cloud finds that long coat of Sephiroth’s hanging neatly on the back of his door. Cloud looks at it for a long time, thinking., fingering the material at the cuff. With a hasty look at the bed, he silently slips it off the hook and pulls it around his shoulders.
Sephiroth was right. It is too long. A jaunt down the stairs would likely end with Cloud breaking his neck. And Tifa would have a heart attack if she saw him. Cloud grins fiercely in the muted light of his bedroom, the dawn breaking through the dirty glass window. He considers it, he really does.
In the end, he cherishes his sense of pride a little too much to risk it. So instead, he carefully nips a button from right in the center of the coat and puts it in his pocket. He wonders if Sephiroth will notice, or mention it. Or if he’ll just show up next time with the coat as good as new, button in place. Maybe he has more than one coat.
Cloud leaves his room whistling some forgotten tune, the notes fading to silence in the quiet of the hall, going back into the shadows where they belong.