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Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: violence/gore)
Summary: After an explosion goes off too close to Cloud, he loses his hearing. But in the battle that preceded the injury did he lose something more?
Pairings: None
Warnings: Offscreen death, mentions of failed CPR
A/N: This is a stand alone short that took me far too long to finish. It’s a somewhat harsh one, I’m afraid…(and poorly edited)

Survivor’s Guilt

Zack’s apartment held none of the familiar warmth Cloud had come to associate it with. Cloud squinted at the world, his brows twisted and his vision blurred by tears. The ringing in his ears was unabating, even though he knew that at this point it was entirely internal. “Tinnitus from acoustic trauma” the doctor had written on a piece of paper. Cloud had barely been able to focus on the writing, and hadn’t managed to bring himself to care.

Zack led him back to the bedroom, his hand warm on Cloud’s back. His lips were moving whenever Cloud looked over at him, but he could only hear the softest muffled sounds, as though Zack were trying to talk to him underwater. The bomb had been too loud. Cloud hadn’t managed to pay attention well enough to know if his hearing would come back. He wasn’t entirely sure he wanted it too.

He hadn’t been able to save anyone. In the deepest part of himself, he was glad that he’d been hurt. It was only fitting.

He sat on the bed when Zack pushed lightly on his shoulder, and gazed blearily as the Soldier pulled out the pad of paper the doctor had given him, scribbling on it swiftly.

‘I’m going to make you some tea. Try to rest, okay?’ The writing said, followed by a little doodle of a heart and a cartoonish sleeping face.

Cloud didn’t smile. He couldn’t. He cast Zack a doleful look, taking the pencil from his hand and scrawling his reply rather than trying to speak.

‘Go away Zack.’

He shoved the pad and pencil towards Zack, turning over on the bed to better ignore his best friend. The guilt coiling inside him only built at his own harsh response, but he couldn’t face Zack’s relentless optimism and affection. Not now.

A warm hand rested over his shoulder for a moment, but Cloud shrugged it off, curling in on himself. The hand retreated, and Cloud was left alone. It was a long time before he snuck a glance over his shoulder. Zack was gone.

The way his chest tightened at that fact was completely irrational and Cloud knew it. Zack was only respecting his wishes, after all. He had no right to feel so abandoned.

He curled up tight on the bed and covered his mouth with a hand, hoping desperately that he was succeeding in silencing the shuddering tear-choked breaths escaping him.

He stayed there, lost in guilt and memory. If he had been faster, or better… If he’d been a little stronger… If it had been someone else instead of him, maybe everything could have been averted.

When fingers brushed over his arm, Cloud jumped, jolted out of his guilt violently. He jerked away from the touch, whirling, ready to glare at Zack for all he was worth. His rage flickered and vanished when his gaze met cool green eyes and a solemn presence that was nothing like Zack’s warmth and enthusiasm. Cloud’s mouth went dry automatically at the sight of the General. He’d met him four times before, had even spoken with him—held entire conversations—but he had not been prepared to face him over this.

Sephiroth gazed at him a long moment, then sat slowly on the edge of the bed, pulling out the notebook Zack had been carrying. His gaze never left Cloud even as he wrote, his left hand sure and quick as he jotted down neatly spelled words. When he handed the notebook to Cloud, the trooper took it in both hands. When General Sephiroth handed you something, you took it.

‘They tell me you refused a restore in medical.’ The note read, succinct and perfectly scribed, despite the apparent inattention of the man writing it.

‘I don’t want it.’ Cloud wrote back, offering the book briskly, averting his eyes and hoping Sephiroth left soon. He didn’t want to cry in front of the General. Zack must have called him in. Cloud’s face felt like it was burning in shame. Sephiroth must have known about his failure by now.

One pale silver eyebrow lifted as Sephiroth took the note from him without more than glancing at it. He sat there a long moment before writing back to him.

‘CPR is rarely effective. Even in ideal circumstances the chance of the victim recovering is infinitesimal.’

Cloud barely managed to read the whole sentence. His entire body was shaking with tension. His lips tightened, and he shoved the unwelcome words away, pushing Sephiroth’s hand back towards himself. The ringing in his ears got louder as he fought back tears. He ducked his chin, his hands twisting into the covers surrounding him, just to have something to hang onto.

"I had to try," Cloud choked. His voice was barely audible even to himself, wavering and strangely pitched, but his eyes were too foggy with tears to write. "Zack would have tried. You would have…"

Sephiroth interrupted him with a sharp gesture. Cloud flinched, but the General just took Cloud’s chin in hand and lifted his head, forcing him to make eye contact. Then Sephiroth gravely shook his head, so slowly it barely set his arching bangs in motion. Cloud felt something go cold inside himself at the look on Sephiroth’s face, even through the fog of tears.

Sephiroth turned back to the paper between them and started writing. Cloud watched the words appear on the page with a sick, terrible finality.

‘I rarely stop for the wounded, and never for the dead.’ He wrote. ‘I know the fundamentals of CPR, but I have never attempted it, and doubt I ever will.’

"What?" Cloud whispered, or tried to. He wasn’t sure he made a sound, but Sephiroth answered anyway.

'If I had stopped for every body in Wutai, we would have been destroyed before the war ended. It is why we started assigning the helmets in the first place. So that Soldiers would stop trying to tend to one another based on personal attachment.'

Cloud’s fingers clenched in the covers. He trembled, thinking of the faceless bodies of infantrymen on the battlefield. It must have been a massacre. And Sephiroth—his HERO—had never stopped to help them.

He drew a breath, unsure what he would say, or even if it would be intelligible through his tears and deafness. But he stopped at the look on Sephiroth’s face. The man was regarding him with a blank, sad expression in his eyes, as though all the life had been drained out of him.

He mouthed something, but Cloud shook his head at him. He could no more read his lips than he could hear him. It was one thing to divine Zack’s words from his animated features, but Sephiroth’s lips barely moved when he spoke, and his gestures and facial expression gave nothing away.

Sephiroth looked down at the paper instead, writing slowly.

‘I am not a hero. I am a warrior. Zachary is a hero. And so are you, for trying despite the odds.’

Cloud took the pencil from him almost before he finished writing. His fingers shook as he added a sloppy question under Sephiroth’s grim statement.

‘Could I have saved him if I’d done better?’

His mind was still repeating all their instruction. Roughly one hundred beats per minute to the heart, firm pressure, but careful of breaking ribs, pause to check for breathing and heartbeat, continue, skip the breathing into lungs, wait for medical assistance, except assistance never came—only a barrage of fire from the enemy, knocking him away from his friend’s body and leaving his ears ringing and his brain dazed and his body immobile…

Sephiroth’s hands cupped his cheeks, and Cloud blinked back to reality, finding the man staring intently at him, a frown on his features. Cloud took a shaking breath, then another, tears cascading down his cheeks. Only when he was breathing steadily again did the frown smooth off Sephiroth’s features. He brushed his fingers over Cloud’s cheek and drew his attention down to the page.

'No one could have helped him.'

Cloud shattered right then and there. He collapsed over the notebook, sobbing his anguish and sorrow. He could still feel the other trooper’s still chest under his shaking hands as he tried to gather his strength to start CPR. Could still see the trail of blood leaking from his parted lips as he forced his still chest into motion. Could still see the glazed horror in his eyes.

Sephiroth’s hand rested lightly on his back, unmoving, but present. Cloud lay there, sobbing like a child until he couldn’t stomach it anymore. He choked in a breath, forcing the tide of emotions back. He sat up slowly, wiping the tears off his face, and received an approving nod from Sephiroth for it. The man’s eyebrows were slightly furrowed. It was hard to tell if the expression was distaste or concern, and Cloud found himself internally split, uncertain about the intent of the look.

The General removed his hand, lifting the notebook again, writing steadily as Cloud tried to calm his shaking. When Sephiroth placed it between them, Cloud didn’t shy away from reading it. He braced himself for what words it might hold, and found himself confused for a moment. It wasn’t what he’d expected to read.

‘Denying yourself care does no good for anyone.’

Cloud fumbled for the pencil, adding a shaky question mark under the words rather than trying to reply coherently.

Sephiroth caught his eyes again, and lifted his arm, indicating his bracer. One of his matera glowed softly as the General awakened it with a touch of his long-fingered hand. Cloud flinched at the sight of the restore, biting his lip. Sephiroth made no move to cast on him, though. He sat still, waiting, and Cloud caught a breath, realizing that just like Zack and the medics, Sephiroth wouldn’t force him to accept the healing. But the expectant look on the General’s face and the words glaring up at him from the page made Cloud question his motivation to refuse.

Finally, he lowered his head and nodded. Before he’d even finished the motion, he felt the tingling of a healing spell wash over him. He shuddered as his ears popped, a rush of sound coming with the restore. He shuddered, feeling sick to his stomach, but he didn’t let himself show the weakness he felt.

“Very good.” Sephiroth praised, his voice low and quiet. It rang perfectly clearly in Cloud’s ears.

“How do you live with it?” Cloud whispered, his voice shaking, but suddenly audible again. He winced at how fragile he sounded.

“With not attempting to revive those killed in battle?” Sephiroth asked, his voice dull and blank. “I have no option, Cloud. If I were to tie myself up in those thoughts, I would be unable to help my men who are still standing.”

Cloud lifted his eyes to Sephiroth’s grim face, watching him lower his hand from casting the restore, sitting still on the bedside.

“You were foolish to try.” Sephiroth whispered, his voice soft. The words stung, but Sephiroth’s expression remained calm and strangely gentle. “You stood a better chance of putting yourself in danger than anything.”

“I’m sorry, sir.” Cloud whispered. “I just couldn’t…”

“I did not say I blamed you.” Sephiroth shifted slightly on the bed, as though he were awkward. “Or that it was wrong of you to want to help. But you stood a very real chance of being killed yourself by stopping to help. And removing your helmet to provide CPR made it that much more likely that you too would fall. You have taken the required emergency rescue class, have you not?”

“Yes sir.” Cloud croaked.

“It’s Sephiroth.” The man corrected gently. “We are both off the clock. Tell me the first rule you learned, Cloud.”

“D…” Cloud trailed off, the words feeling like they were gagging him as he spoke them. “Don’t add to the pile of bodies…”

“That’s right.” Sephiroth murmured. “It was heroic of you to try and help your friend. It was the decent, kind, human thing to do.” His inflection on the word ‘human’ felt wrong somehow, but Cloud couldn’t find the breath or the strength to ask him why.

“I’m supposed to just let people die, then.” He choked. “To just walk past their bodies.”

“Yes.” Sephiroth said, his voice firm and low. “You are not a medic. You are a Trooper, and you will one day be a Soldier. Your job is not to help the fallen. It is to protect those who are still standing. Do you understand, Cloud?”

“I’m sorry.” Cloud whispered.

“Don’t be.” Sephiroth replied, touching his hand to Cloud’s hair, the motion far gentler and less familiar than Zack’s rough, affectionate noogies. “You were very brave, Cloud, and very kind. I have no doubt now that you will be a fine Soldier, and save many lives in doing so. For now, you must rest.”

“Yes sir.” Cloud whispered, ducking his face and hiding it behind his hands to hide the tears on his cheeks. “I’m sorry. I know a Soldier shouldn’t cry…”

“Why not?” Sephiroth asked softly. “There is strength too in sorrow. Accept it. Let it happen. And then, when you are ready, move on from it.”

Cloud’s chest tightened, but he nodded solemnly in acceptance of Sephiroth’s words. He jerked his head up when The man rested a blanket over his shoulders, but he froze only for a moment before letting himself lie back on the bed, curling on his side to hide his face in his pillow. He ached in sorrow, but somehow the guilt had settled. If Sephiroth said there was nothing he could have done, Cloud had to believe him.

Sephiroth left Cloud once the young man had cried himself to an almost peaceful sleep. He didn’t close the door all the way, just in case he or Zack were needed. He entered the kitchen with slow, measured steps, thinking over what he’d learned.

“How is he?” Zack asked eagerly the moment Sephiroth entered the room.

“Sleeping.” Sephiroth replied slowly. “He seems to have achieved at least some level of peace.”

“Oh, man.” Zack whispered, leaning against the counter and wiping a hand over his face. He looked unusually tired. Sephiroth had seen him more energetic heading into surgery to have shrapnel removed from his abdomen.

“Why did you call me?” Sephiroth asked, his voice low. “You surely would have been more reassuring.”

“I wasn’t the right person for that job.” Zack replied with a small shrug. “I know a thing or two about guilt, but…”

“But?” Sephiroth prompted, seeing Zack trying to work out how to phrase it.

“He didn’t need optimism or comfort.” Zack said after a moment. “He needed someone blunt and direct. I’m guessing you told him the truth.”

“Of course.” Sephiroth said blankly. “But you are just as well equipped to do so.”

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t.” Zack said softly. “I’m too good at reading people, Seph. And I’m way too interested in making Cloud happy. And sometimes he needs that, sure. Sometimes everyone does. Doesn’t mean that it’s the right answer to everything. He trusts you, he respects the hell out of you, and he’ll believe that you’re telling him the truth and not trying to make him feel better.”

Sephiroth lifted an eyebrow. “You mean to tell me  you used me because Cloud knows that I am blunt and have no interpersonal skills?”

“Yeah, basically.” Zack gave him a grin that was only a little sheepish. “And you have interpersonal skills, Sephiroth. They just stem from a backbone of reality that Cloud needed tonight.”

“I see.” Sephiroth said, looking to the floor for a moment as he filed the new information away.

“Sorry,” Zack said after a moment of silence. “It just wasn’t doing him any good to lie there feeling guilty…”

“I’m glad.” Sephiroth corrected with a small shake of his head. “It is not often that I can be of use to someone suffering.”

“Aw, don’t say that.” Zack said with a frown.

“I was not of any use to you.” Sephiroth argued, lifting unwavering eyes to Zack.

The First paused, hesitating for the first time. He looked around his kitchen, appearing to consider. His eyes flickered to everything in the room that was not Sephiroth before they finally returned.

‘You stuck around.” He offered eventually. “I don’t think there was anything anyone could do better than that to help me.”

Sephiroth nodded in acceptance, and said no more.

“Anyway.” Zack said after a moment. “I’m sure he’ll be better after sleeping. Thanks for coming down, Seph. I know you were probably getting ready for bed. I’ll keep an eye on him from here.”

Sephiroth nodded, turning away from his friend. Then he paused, considering. Something in his chest was giving that unfamiliar pang again as the thought of tear-filled blue eyes and an almost unintelligible voice, wavering in misery over his perceived failure. He took a slow breath and turned back to face Zack.

“If it is no trouble.” He said slowly, feeling out every word as he spoke it, “I would rather stay.”

Zack blinked at him in surprise, his hands stilling where he’d been pulling a bag of potato chips out of his cabinet. He finished the motion slowly, his eyes fixed on Sephiroth. Then a warm smile crossed his face, filled with the look Sephiroth associated with approval. His heart warmed despite himself at the perceived success of his impulse.

“Of course, man.” Zack said, smiling warmly. “My home is yours and all. Wanna watch movies while we wait for him to wake up?”

“Alright.” Sephiroth conceded, blinking when Zack tossed him the bag of chips.

“Cool.” The younger First said, seeming to perk up by the moment. “And I know you’re super awkward about friendship stuff, so I’ll talk you through how to help him out over the next couple days. Sound good?”

“Yes.” Sephiroth whispered, startled by how relieved the simple words made him feel. “Thank you.”

He took mental notes as Zack blabbered about the emotions Cloud would experience, and how Sephiroth ought to react to them. He noted the exact turns of phrase Zack used to ensure that he was neither lying to nor hurting Cloud.

It was only after they’d settled in to watch the movie, with Zack munching on his chips and drinking a bottle of beer that Sephiroth realized this was the first time in a long time the two of them had spent more than a few minutes together off the clock. He found himself relaxing with the constant stream of babble.

In the morning, he would be ready to face the shaken trooper. And hopefully, between himself and Zack, they could help get their youngest friend to a point where he was strong enough to save the lives he so desperately wanted to.
Sephiroth's favorite pastime when he's off work is...
11 deviants said Stalking a certain blond cadet
5 deviants said Reading
2 deviants said Watching paint dry
2 deviants said Angsting
2 deviants said Other (comment with your answer!)
1 deviant said Arson
1 deviant said Kid's science kits
1 deviant said Playing dressup
1 deviant said Training
No deviants said Studying sitcoms
Mature Content Filter is On. The Artist has chosen to restrict viewing to deviants 18 and older.
(Contains: violence/gore, strong language and ideologically sensitive material)
Rating: Mature Audiences
Pairings: Mentioned Valenwind, Reno/Rude, and Reno/Cid.
Warnings: CANNIBALISM, gore, blood, cursing, and some pretty messed-up stuff.
Author's Note: For Enide-Dear's Turks Being Turks contest. I hope you like it, dearest! I've been looking for an excuse to write about this forever! This is a continuation of A Dark and Stormy Night from the Family Bliss series! For a link to that story (WHICH IS AWESOME,) check the description!

It was raining above the plate. Down in the slums, the faint thunder was still audible, but the cleansing rainfall was absent. Instead, torrents of cast-off gutter water from above swamped while sections of the slums, running in filthy rivers down the streets. The turk splashed through them as though he’d been doing so all his life, keeping his eyes off the orphans in the running water, taking the chance to bathe in and drink the filthy water while it was there.

He didn’t get bothered a lot in the slums. There was a rumor that he wasn’t actually a Turk—just a punk who wore the suit of a Turk he’d killed like a trophy. Even those who believed he was a Turk still believed that story. What better way to recruit, after all, than to take on someone who could murder one of your own? No one had ever bothered to stop the rumor. That sort of reputation had its uses.

He shook the water out of his shoes as he stepped up to an old warehouse. It had been Shinra Storage long ago—one of the places where they’d kept supplies for the Space Department. Anything of value had been reclaimed, scavenged, or stolen by then. It was a shell of a building on the edge of Sector Four. No one bothered to try and overcome the pointless lock Shinra had put on the building after the last looting. After all, there was nothing inside left to take. Shinra was just as stingy with empty property as they were with filled ones. Reeve had been trying to get them to convert the empty warehouse to low-income housing for years. The Turk at the doorway snickered at the very thought, even as he reached in his jacket pocket to pull out the lush lock picking set he carried.

The words Shinra and Philanthropy did not go together. Never had, never would.

The lock came free too easily for how long it had been hanging there, apparently rusted shut, but it was locked from the outside. No one inside, then he noted. They’d established long ago that their killer worked alone, so there was no one else to lock up behind their perp.

The smell hit him the moment he opened the door. A normal person would have gagged—retched—run. Reno took a slow, deep breath of the rancid scent through his nose and accepted it as reality. It was a Turk’s lot in life. He did not have the luxury of being disturbed or disgusted. That was for people with time on their hands and full lives to live. He took the world as he found it, rotten meat and all.

He pulled out his phone to shoot Rude a text. His building was definitely unoccupied, but he’d look around through it. They had almost found their cannibal, and Reno was fairly certain that he was about to walk into the man’s chop shop. Even with their killer out on the town, it was a great chance to stake out the best hiding places in his little den. Reno had posed as a corpse before, and would do it again, no matter how sick it was to paint himself in the blood of the dead.

It was a damn good thing the Turks had full access to all the best medication in the world. Otherwise he never would have lived through his first bout against haemorrhagic fevers. Now he’d caught three in the line of duty. He hoped that this mission wouldn’t bring another. At least he’d gotten the vaccines to stop any STDs the blood he used might be carrying.

His eyes tightened as he opened an internal door, stepping through a set of plastic flaps into the dark room beyond. The sound of flies filled the air, and Reno had to re-adjust to the rank smell. It was easily twice as powerful inside the closed off room, and the distant sound of the torrents running in the street combined with the buzzing flies combined to create a mind-numbing white noise.

He flicked on the fluorescent lights, and was unsurprised to see them buzz flickering to life. The electricity in the building should have been shut off ages ago, but he’d been right to think someone was using it. Hacking into the mako streams might have been a high-level business below the plate, but it was lucrative enough that more than a few people were willing to risk Shinra’s wrath to learn how. He let his brain mull over the electricity, searching for the patch-in, and letting himself second-handedly notice the meat hooks in the ceiling and the gore on the floor.

Whatever the cannibal’s last kill had been, he had not cleaned up well.

Reno stepped through the building, not bothering to avoid the puddles of blood. He’d clean his shoes off before he left tracks anywhere there weren’t any. HIs mind pieced together what each of the stainless steel tables was used for, looking between the ropes on the floor, the clean, gleaming knives, and the drain in the floor. It probably went straight into the water supply. They usually did. By this point, half of the people in the slums were involuntary cannibals from drinking the leftovers of the hunter’s kills.

He opened a cabinet and winced. There was a corpse hanging inside, gaping wide open, empty of organs. He crouched, looking the body in the dead, vacant eyes. Even twisted in death with his mouth gaping open, he recognized the little rat of an informant he’d been looking for the day before.

“Damn it, kid,” Reno muttered, closing the closet door on the gory corpse. “I told you not to go looking. I never paid you enough for you to risk this.”

He moved to the other cabinets, looking for other bodies. Most of them contained at least some trophy—an arm or leg or a clump of hair—but nothing like what he’d found in the first. Why the body had been left to rot instead of devoured was beyond him. Most of the cabinets looked like they’d only housed a body long enough for it to drain of blood out of sight.

One other one contained a body. This one smelled much fresher, and Reno poked it with the toe of his boot. A full-grown man in this one, rather than an adolescent or a child. Not a street rat either—reasonably well muscled from the weight of the arm Reno had prodded with his boot. He sighed, rolling his shoulders and straightening, looking back at the room proper.

He only barely registered the movement from the body in the closet before electricity was coursing through him, making every muscle seize. He screamed through clenched teeth, his own mag-rod sparking in reply as the electricity arced through him from his leg where the man he’d thought to be a corpse had struck.

When the current finally stopped, Reno dropped. His body twitched and spasmed out of control, short-circuited by the agonizing electricity. Reno struggled to bring himself under control, cursing internally with every passing millisecond. How could he have let his guard down like that? His ears buzzed and his vision clouded. He could feel his lungs burning for air, and forced his still-constricted chest to let him inhale in a ragged gasp.

Then the man he’d taken for a corpse straddled his twitching body, grinning down at him out of a face painted with a body’s blood. Reno cursed himself internally as the man lifted a hand. he kept cursing until the descending fist hit him square on the jaw, sending him crashing into unconsciousness.

Reno snapped into awareness without a sound. He froze in place, unmoving. Once, he would have woken with a start and a scream after a nightmare. That was before Tseng’s intense and brutal retraining. It had been as necessary as it was effective, and as Reno took stock of his surroundings, he was desperately glad for it.

The smell of engine grease replaced the memory of a rank butchery. An arm muscled like a steel bar was wrapped around his back, the broad hand resting intimately over the curve of Reno’s ass. The chest under his cheek was fuzzy and broad.

Reno’s blood ran cold as he lay still, eyes wide open, trying to process what he’d done. Outside the window, lightning flashed, illuminating the torrential rains. Cid Highwind grumbled and shifted underneath Reno. The Turk took the chance to squirm free, sliding out of the pilot’s loose hold, backing away from the bed.

Highwind grumbled and turned over, pulling the covers over his shoulder to replace the missing heat. He didn’t so much as come close to waking. Reno could feel the soreness in his lower back from a long night of pure carnal distraction. He could smell the scent of sex all over himself. His stomach twisted, threatening to rebel, caught between the horror of his capture and the atrocity he’d just committed.

He backed out of the room quickly, staggering into the hallway. He remembered being carried into the room, kissing the pilot desperately in between Cid’s painful grumbling about not defiling his childrens’ beds—Remembered dragging the pilot down on the covers he shared with his beautiful, damaged husband—Remembered screaming for more, faster, harder…

He staggered to the remnants room, trying not to think of the long hours he’d spent there with Kadaj—of the tangle of limbs he woke in on the nights Loz and Yazoo joined them in a startlingly benign and warm pile of bodies. He hunted the corners of the room till he found where Cid had thrown his phone. Then he dialed the number that was almost as much a part of him as his own name. How many times had he called this number in need, he wondered. How many more times would it be answered?

Rude answered immediately and didn’t say a word. Reno took a slow breath, listening to the familiar silence on the other side and staring down at the discarded lighter and the clear liquid soaked into the ground where Cid had decided to jump in and play hero.

“Why’d he have to stop me?” Reno whispered after a long and meaning-filled silence. “It all would have been fine. I’d have gotten nice and high and fucked up. No one would have had to get hurt.”

“He took care of you, then.” Rude’s voice was a rumble, empty and unaffected for all intents and purposes. Reno could hear the anxiety lying beneath the words.

“He ruined himself on me, you mean.” Reno said with a dry laugh, running a hand over the scar in his side left from the kidney transplant. “Everything I fuckin’ touch, yo…”

“You going to cry about it?” Rude’s voice was hard and uncompromising, and Reno could see the frown he’d be speaking with in his mind’s eye. “Or are you going to scratch his back too?”

Reno leaned against the wall. He thought of the muddy footprints he’d have left coming into the house—the clothes he’d discarded to leave drying, the half-empty cookie jar, the wrinkled borrowed clothes that belonged to Valentine. He looked down at the broken glass and the torn buttons from Highwind’s shirt. internally he measured the hours until sunrise.

“I was never even here, yo.” He rasped into the phone, eyes narrowing and focusing on the task he was setting for himself.

“You ask me, you got lazy and stayed home.” Rude grumbled in response.

“Do me a favor. These calls on his phone? They never happened either.”

“I’ve got your back.” Rude rumbled, his low voice as familiar as breathing and his intensity a comforting if intangible presence.

“Thanks, yo.” Reno muttered, his eyes closing for a moment.

“Come over when you’re back.” Rude ordered in a low rumble. “I’ll have a replacement fix ready for you. In case of emergency.”

“Knew I could count on you.” Reno whispered, closing his eyes lightly.

He hung up Cid’s phone and hunted down the pilot’s discarded pants. He had to lift a kitten off them, and shoo away a hovering capelet that had nested in one of the pockets before he could slide the phone inside. Then he carried them upstairs to the bedroom, sliding the missing buttons into his pocket for later use.

A Turk had to be as proficient a cleaner as they were a murderer. Reno excelled in both. Within twenty minutes, he might as well have never been in the Highwinds’ bed, and Cid was none the wiser for having the blankets around him expertly cleaned. He snored as Reno worked, and the rhythm of his noisy breathing was a chant of guilt to the Turk’s ears.

“Come on, Reno.” he muttered to himself as he left the bedroom with the damaged shirt over his shoulder to be worked on downstairs. “You’ve murdered hundreds of people and this is giving you a guilt trip?”

It was, and he didn’t dare dwell on why. The blood on his hands was nothing to scoff at, but it was something he had enthusiastically chosen for himself. The night that was passing around him was not. He’d chosen Kadaj. He’d chosen to trust Cid as much as he’d ever trusted anyone. And sometimes he chose to forget how entirely unworthy he was of the way they treated him in return.

The cookies were the hardest part. Reno loved the damn things—As little as he liked Yazoo at times, the cookies were definitely a perk of his continued existence. Every cabinet in the kitchen seemed to contain more tea and kittens than cooking supplies, and the little furballs were intent on tripping Reno or eating his shoe laces or sharpening their claws on his legs. He was highly tempted to kick them away, but he’d caused enough damage to the household that night.

He started the oven heating and pulled out ingredients one by one. He held the sugar in one hand, closing his eyes to feel it better, bouncing it lightly in his hand and calculating the weight internally. It had been a five pound bag new. He knew for a fact that Vincent would have made himself and Cid pancakes two days ago—they always had a breakfast together on the weekends, and the remnants had been giving them the space to be together recently for that. He mentally accounted for a missing half pound for that.

Then he calculated out the sugar Loz had used to sweeten his tea for that day since the cookies had been made. Another half-pound of sugar subtracted, and a silent thanks to his overactive attention to detail for watching in horror as Loz poured copious amounts of sugar into his hot drink every morning.

He nodded to himself. That left two cups to be used in Yazoo’s cookie recipe. And only five more ingredients to repeat the calculations on. His stomach rumbled forlornly, but he ignored it. He was in no mood to indulge himself.If someone had sprinted through the door at that moment calling for revenge and Reno’s life, he’d have been hard pressed to stop them.

He silenced the oven’s buzzer and left the cookies baking once he’d finished his calculations. They looked right in dough form, at least. That would have to do. He pulled the shirt off his shoulder and sat down at the table, reaching into his jacket’s lining and pulling out the sewing kit he hid there for emergencies in the fashion department. They were surprisingly common among the Turks. Especially with as exacting a boss as Rufus Shinra and with the number of rips their suits acquired in day-to-day business. Reno scowled at the black thread that was all he kept in supply. It wouldn’t match the other buttons on the shirt, but with any luck Highwind would never notice.

“Why the hell couldn’t you just let me be.” Reno whispered to himself as he set to work sewing the button back on.

Kitty mewed in reply from where she was sitting on the table, observing him with judgemental eyes. Reno glanced up to her and sighed, turning back to his work, delicately sliding the needle in and out of the fabric.

“Nothing really sickens a turk you know, Kitty.” Reno muttered after a moment of working in silence. “You’ll never see one of us barf at a crime scene. Never see one of us fall apart on the job unless it’s in a hail of bullets or a blaze of glory. Doesn’t mean the things we see and do don’t fuck with us. Doesn’t mean we don’t screw each others brains out to forget, or shoot up until we can’t feel, or burn things and ourselves till that heat wipes away the memories for a while.”

He bit the trailing thread off, leaving the first torn button sewn perfectly back into place. It didn’t look too bad, even with the miss-matched thread. He started to work on the second, aware that the kittens had gathered around the chair, watching with their mother, and wondering if he was about to become cat food. He couldn’t find it in himself to care.

“While Kadaj is here,” he whispered after a long moment, his boyfriend’s name tasting like poison in the mouth that had kissed Cid Highwind with desire and passion and need. “While he’s here, I can make him my drug. He’s so full of life and madness and brilliance, there’s nothing he can’t wipe away. But when he’s gone, all I’ve got is my own mind. And damned if that’s not playing russian roulette with five bullets in the revolver.”

He shoved the needle through too hard and cursed, feeling it pierce his finger. He yanked his hand away from the fabric before he could bleed on it, shoving the bloody fingertip into his mouth to suck away the incriminating liquid. He realized his mistake the moment the taste of blood registered, but there was no stopping the flashback it triggered.

He woke up to searing pain in his toes. He was screaming before he was fully aware, thrashing without any effect. The ropes wrapped expertly around him kept him neatly contorted, his back arched and his arms bound tight behind his back. Even Tseng’s knotwork wasn’t so precise. The pain in his foot peaked, and he clenched his teeth to restrain a shriek. The rope between his teeth pulled at his lips, muffling his screaming. His eyes snapped open. He struggled, yanking on his arms, fighting for control, for breath, for strength.

His wrists were bound too tightly for him to use his handy dislocatable thumb. The pain in his foot was accompanied suddenly by a heavy hand pinning his leg down before suddenly the pressure was lifted, leaving him aching. Blood poured, and his eyes widened as he realized that he could only curl three toes.

“Nice of you to join me again.” Said a low voice. “You could have spared yourself some pain by staying asleep.”

Reno roared in anger behind the harsh gag in his mouth, glaring as the man he’d been hunting walked around before him, a superior smirk on his hard-featured face and a blood-soaked napkin in his hands.

“Care for a free sample?” He offered Reno, pulling up a chair beside the table where Reno was bound, splaying the napkin out on his lap, displaying the bloody toes it contained.

Reno’s stomach rebelled and he fought it back. Throwing up with a gag in his mouth was a death sentence more final than missing a couple of toes. He glared at the man with all the rage he could muster, struggling harder still against the ropes. His body was already starting to falter, jerking and shivering. The part of Reno’s brain that was still functioning recognized the feeling as himself going into shock, and he struggled to keep himself aware.

It took him a moment to get his eyes to focus on the cannibal, and he almost wished he hadn’t as he watched the man clean the dismembered pieces of his own feet. The man was humming to himself as he cleaned them with a thorough precision, using a wet cloth he appeared to have on hand for just that purpose. When he was satisfied, he lifted the sharp, bloody knife he carried and peeled a piece of the flesh away, humming to himself as he popped it into his mouth.

Reno jerked in instant repulsion at the motion. The movement made his injured foot burn, the blood pumping from the removed toes was already slowing as his partially-enhanced body fought to heal the grievous wounds.

“Not half bad.” The man’s voice was low, almost cultured for a slummer. He shaved off another sliver of flesh and turned it to and fro, studying the cross-section before carefully nibbling it. “I can’t tell you how hard it is to find a prime cut of meat like you in a place like this. You, my Turk friend, are a delicacy.”

Reno gave the phrase ‘fuck you’ a decided effort around the gag. It came out muffled and almost unrecognizable. The cannibal smiled.

“Don’t worry.” He said, reaching out to pet a bloody hand over Reno’s face. The Turk was bound too tightly to get away from the movement. “I wouldn’t do this without letting you try a taste. The bigger toe is for me to decide on a flavor with, but I can cut you some samples of your little one. I’m thinking I’ll try a little barbeque with you. After all, you don’t strike me as the classy or tender type. Fine-dining wouldn’t suit you.”

Reno let his eyes go fuzzy as the man worked at the edge of his gag, letting the shaking wrack his body as they wanted to. He heard the man’s condescending chuckle, and felt a piece of bloody flesh being pushed between his lips. He bit like a snake the moment the man was shoving the piece of raw meat into his mouth. It was the cannibal’s turn to scream. Reno clamped down, eyes blazing in fury and his teeth locked into the joint of the man’s finger. He thrashed his head, tearing like a crocodile at the flesh.

His captor tore his hand away, but from the amount of blood on his hand and in Reno’s mouth he hadn’t taken away everything he’d put in. Reno laughed at him, free of the gag even though he was still bound. His laughter was more crazed than triumphant, but it rang over the man’s cursing and screaming.

“You’re going to regret that.” The man snarled at him, cradling his wounded hand as he staggered away from the table, grabbing another knife with his free hand. “Usually I just butcher here and cook at home. No good to shit where you eat, you know? But you—You I’m going to cook piece by piece in front of your face until you die screaming in agony!”

“Fucking try me!” Reno roared with all the force he could muster, his bloody teeth bared. “You were a dead man the minute you laid hands on me. From here on out anything you can do is just an extra foot of dirt over your corpse! My partner is going to rip you limb from limb!”

The man screamed in rage at him, pinning his thrashing form and bringing the knife down on his ankle. Reno fought and cursed and struggled as the first sawing motion cut through into his body. Then the gunshot rang out, and everything went terribly silent in its wake. Weight landed over him, pressing the knife into his foot, and Reno howled in agony.

“Rude, get him off!” He screamed into the dark warehouse. “Get him the fuck off!”

The broad hands that shoved the man’s twitching body to the floor and stole its knife in the same motion were the most familiar things in the world. Rude caught Reno’s face in one palm, and the dazed, bloody Turk stared up into reflective sunglasses, forcing his eyes to focus on the gaze behind them.

“Partner.” The bald man rumbled. “You with me?”

“I’m with you.” Reno said, his lips pressing tightly together afterwards.

“Because the last time I rescued you, you tried to gut me the minute I let you go.” Rude said, his voice low and with a teasing note that had nothing to do with Reno’s pain and everything with making sure it was him and not instincts speaking.

“You deserved it.” Reno scolded around a moan of pain and annoyance. “Coming in all panicked and screamin’. What was I supposed to do, reward that?”

Rude gave him half a smile, and the same knife that had maimed him sliced quickly and efficiently through the bonds that held him down.

“You alright?” Rude asked, his voice low.

“He ate my toes.” Reno said bleakly, staring down at his maimed foot as he stiffly sat up.

“Hn.” Rude glanced at his foot, then looked back to Reno. “That’s fucked up.” He commented.

Reno let out a brief bark of laughter, shifting shakily and trying to stand. Rude stopped him with a palm to his chest, holding him in place sitting on the cold table.

“Floor’s covered in blood and you’ve got open wounds.” He said calmly. “You’re not walking.”

Reno shivered, staring down at the body, then nodded. “He fully dead?”

“Headshot.” Rude explained with a shrug.

“It’s just, I told him you’d rip him limb from limb.” Reno sighed. “I hate to disappoint.”

“I’ll handle that after we get you to medical.” Rude said, his voice grim and firm. Reno gave a half smile. If Rude said it, the man meant it.

“Gimme a lift then.” He said with a voice that he was struggling to keep steady.

Rude turned his back, crouching a little to give Reno easy access. He climbed onto him piggy back without complaint, holding on tightly and grateful that Rude didn’t try to carry him away like a bride. But then, his partner knew him better than anyone—knew how much Reno would need things to do and feel things other than shame and agony.

“Rude?” Reno whispered into his neck. “I think this might really fuck me up.”

He was shaking where he clung to Rude’s back, and so much more of it was fear than he wanted to think of.

“I’ve got you, partner.” Rude rumbled. “I have always got you.”

Sharp pain across his face roused him from his thoughts. Reno gasped, jerking into awareness and his eyes snapped up to the threat. Kitty stared at him out of intense, empty cat-eyes. Her claws were still embedded in Reno’s cheek. The kittens were crowded around, and even the capelets were twirling nearby, agitated as much as any piece of cloth could be, Reno supposed. Overhead, he could still hear snoring.

“Thanks.” He muttered, as though the cat had done it on purpose and not out of vindictive spite. He lifted a hand, dislodging the claws from his face. Kitty made no move to attack again, just sitting back on the table and watching him out of eerie eyes.

His phone buzzed in his pocket, and Reno pulled it out. A new message from Tseng. He sighed, steeling himself internally as he checked it.

“Storm passing in half an hour.” The message read. “Sunrise in an hour and a half. Status?”

“Be clear in ten.” He replied, sliding his phone back into his pocket.

He checked his finger and found it scabbed over. He deftly finished off his last couple of stitches, biting the thread free with a neat snap of sharp teeth that had once nearly bitten the finger off a cannibal.

He pulled the cookies out of the oven, replacing them in the jar one by one, leaving it open to steam while he finished to hide the fact that it would be foggy. The kittens dogged his steps, but they didn’t get in his way. They stayed at the bottom of the stairs while Reno ascended to Cid’s room.

He stood in the doorway a long moment, watching the pilot sleep. The man’s stubble had been harsh on his skin, but his hands had been so gentle. Despite Reno’s desperation, despite his own reluctance and frustration and misgivings, he hadn’t hurt him. Reno jerked as he felt a tear fall, and he wiped it away quickly, dropping the shirt on the floor and hurriedly arranging it as though it had just fallen there.

“This never happened Highwind.” He whispered, his voice lost under the man’s snoring. “But if it had, I’d never stop owing you for it.”

He straightened, staring at the pilot for a long moment before turning to leave the room. “And it’d take a whole hell of a lot more than a paint job for the house to repay ya.”

He left the house looking as though he’d never been there. He slogged his way through the freezing rain towards his chopper without feeling it. Cat eyes watched him from the window, and he ignored them. He was fairly sure that the kittens wouldn’t snitch on him. He didn’t know why they hadn’t mobbed him, though. Maybe the little bastards were more perceptive than he gave them credit for.

It was a lonely flight back to Midgar. He flew low, keeping himself distracted with the danger of the maneuvering in the pouring rain. By the time he was home, the sun was rising. The other Turks were waiting for him on the rooftop like a lazy gang of cats. Reno climbed out of the chopper, still soaking wet and feeling worn down from the inside out. He took the vial and hypodermic from Tseng and slid them into the hidden bandoleer inside his jacket lining. Then he took the beer Elena offered him and took a long swig.

“Don’t know how you do it.” Rude said after a moment.

“Do what?” Reno rasped in return, taking another swig of beer. “Cleanup? The cookies were the only hard part.”

“Not that.” His partner said, regarding him from a stony face. “Kadaj. You know what he and his brothers did to Hojo. It doesn’t bother you?”

“Bother me?” Reno asked, tilting his head slowly.

In his mind’s eye, he could still perfectly recall the footage of the Science department the cameras had recorded. He could remember every detail of Kadaj’s bloody face, marked with blood like a feasting wild-cat, a hungry, feral look in his eyes as his brothers and father-figure tore at Hojo’s corpse. His sharp teeth and wicked smile had never looked more dangerous.

“Nah.” Reno said, a wry smile crossing his lips. “You see his face? Hot as fuck. I’d use it as a background on my cell if the security cameras had decent quality footage.”

Tseng heaved a sigh and turned away, walking into the building shaking his head all the way.

“I’m taking that back.” Elena scolded, stealing the beer from Reno with deft fingers. “You are one sick puppy, Sinclaire.”

“I’d noticed.” Reno said with a half smirk, leaning into his partner’s arms. He smirked at Elena’s back as she stormed away, swigging from the open bottle. He lifted his head to peer up at Rude. “You got a problem with it too?”

“Me?” Rude asked, raising an eyebrow. “Just who was it who brought you a pair of toes off a certain corpse and shared them with you? Far as I’m concerned, it’s just more proof that you and that maniac are perfect for each other.”

“Heh.” Reno gave his partner a lopsided smile. “You really do know me better than anyone, Rude. Let’s get the hell home.”

“Want a piggy back ride there?”

“Fuck you too, buddy. Fuck you too.”
Dark and Stormy Night: Aftermath (Contest Entry)
Written for Enide-Dear 's Turks contest! I hope you like it, dear, and that I didn't muck up the FB universe too much while playing in it. :)

Ties in with the Family Bliss universe, directly following A Dark and Stormy Night (Found here:… )

Please heed the warnings! It gets a little gross in there, y'all!
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: sexual themes)
Pairing: Yazoo/Cloud
Rating: Mature Audiences
A/N: Written for KorNaXon's Yazoo/Cloud contest! I hope you enjoy, dear!

Conjugal Visits

Cloud Strife did not visit the highest security prison on the planet often. He spent most of his time in his work with the WRO, cleaning up Mako spills and ensuring a safer, better world for the children he loved. But even with his infrequent trips to the maximum security lockup, he was still the most frequent visitor. Most of the prisoners were more monsters than people. Mass murderers, serial killers, people who had never had any true humanity to lose...Most of them had destroyed anyone who might want to visit them. Cloud kept his sword on his back as he walked through the compound, despite the thick steel doors and the fully-armed guards at every doorway.

Glittering, hungry eyes watched him from the plastic windows in the doors lining the hall, and voices called out in hatred and recognition. He had not put these men here, but they knew him on sight. He did not think they knew what he came for. He very much hoped that no one did. Their threatening yells and ferocity were lost on Cloud. He hadn’t felt fear in a long time.

He went down the stairs at the end of the hallway, following them deep underground. The guards at each checkpoint didn't ask him for his ID anymore. Not when he entered the prison, and not when he entered the restricted basement. There were four wings of the basement, one at every corner of the compound. Only three of them were occupied. The fourth was just in case. They’d been constructed especially for the beings held inside them.

“We've got him cuffed for you, sir,” the man outside the final door said gruffly. “You're sure you don't need—“

“I think we've done this enough times for you to know I don't.” Cloud said firmly. “Leave the hallway, officer. I'll call for you when I'm finished.”

“Yes sir.” The guard opened the door and stepped aside.

Cloud walked past him, stopping just inside the doorway. The guard slammed it shut behind him with a final clang. It locked automatically in a series of sliding sounds and clicks. He stayed still, unmoving, as he listened to the guard's heavy boots echo down the hall as he left the restricted basement wing. Cloud stared at the being this underground bunker had been built to hold, and waited.

Silver hair parted in a tangled silver waterfall as the remnant lifted his chin. His hooded eyes were narrowed in apparent pleasure, his pupils constricted to slender wild-cat streaks in the middle of his green gaze. Cloud held perfectly still, meeting his inhuman look without flinching as pale, pretty lips lifted in a wicked, superior smirk.

“Brother.” Yazoo purred, his voice low and raspy as though he had not spoken aloud in a long time.

“You're a mess.” Cloud said coldly, tossing him the satchel he carried.

Yazoo caught it in his handcuffed hands with the speed of a mantis. Then he lowered it into his lap with calm deliberation, never removing his gaze from Cloud.

“Does it please you seeing me like this?” Yazoo asked, tilting his head with a curious but empty look about him.

“You know it doesn't.”

“And yet you make me stay,” Yazoo pouted prettily, sliding the satchel open with his bound hands, pulling free a comb. He smiled warmly at the piece of plastic, drawing it slowly through his hair, putting it in order. For having been no more than finger combed in a month, it was remarkably smooth. “You still bring me very nice gifts, though. So I suppose I can forgive you for your strange sadistic pleasures.”

“I don't take any pleasure out of this,” Cloud replied, shaking his head grimly and crossing his arms. “You three are just too dangerous to let loose.”

“And yet you trust me enough not to kill you with this comb.” Yazoo purred. He turned his head, averting his eyes from Cloud for the first time in order to twist his bound hands, trying to reach the back of his hair. Cloud almost offered to help, watching him stretch for a moment. Then he averted his own eyes carefully, when Yazoo pulled the silver strands over his shoulder. He did his best to look like he hadn’t been itching to assist.

“I trust you not to get yourself killed trying.” Cloud replied at last, unfolding his arms, letting them hang loosely at his side.

“Do you have them?” Yazoo asked vaguely, lifting his glowing eyes to Cloud once more as he worked the few tangles out of his long, shining hair.

“In the bag.” Cloud replied, trying not to wonder about how Yazoo's hair stayed so perfect and his skin so luminous, even with the strict once-a-week shower rule.

Yazoo hummed, setting aside the comb and sliding his hands slowly into the satchel. His every movement was slow and calm. He moved like he had thought out his every motion ages in advance. He pulled out the cheap photograph packet from the bag, flipping it open.

“They're recent?” He asked blankly as he removed the photographs.

“Two days ago.” Cloud agreed, shifting his stance. “They're in good health.”

“They're miserable,” Yazoo chuckled. “Look at them pouting, as if they could sway you with sorrow...”

“I don't have any say in you staying here. You should be grateful they didn't just kill you all.”

“Grateful.” Yazoo replied slowly. “Is that what I should be?”

“I don't much care.” Cloud replied, glancing away from the remnant, to the wall of stuck-on photographs.

All of them were ones Cloud himself had delivered, each one depicting his brothers, sullen-eyed and dirty, their hair in disarray and usually photographed mid-motion in their anxious pacing, through the plastic of the small windows of their cells. Yazoo rose slowly from his place on the cell’s small bed, walking over to the wall. Cloud paced along side him, offering the two pieces of tape Yazoo would need silently. He'd been asked enough times to know in advance.

Yazoo held the picture of Loz in his teeth while he affixed Kadaj's with his bound hands. His fingers brushed over Cloud's gloves as he took the tape away from him. Cloud took a slow breath, not letting himself react to the light touch like he wanted to. His body and mind were driving him towards some mix of violence and desire. He indulged in neither.

Yazoo lifted his heavily lashed eyes to him, gazing out of reptile eyes at Cloud. The false smile slid off his face, leaving him grim and empty as he stood far too close for comfort, carefully taping Loz's picture beside Kadaj's, adding to the litany of months of trapped photographs.

“How much longer, brother?” Yazoo asked, his voice bleak. “How much longer until they decide holding us captive isn't enough. Until you come here to find us gone—experimented on—destroyed.”

“The WRO isn't like that,” Cloud said firmly, turning to face the remnant. He had to tilt his head up to meet Yazoo's eyes, and gods it was unnerving being that close to him. He could smell the remnant's breath—all cheap toothpaste and what must have served as a meager breakfast of bread. “No experiments. Just this.”

“Hn.” Yazoo tilted his head slowly from one side to the other, sizing Cloud up as his hair swayed smoothly with every motion, falling neat behind him now that it had been combed. “I almost prefer the experiments.”

“Nothing will make you happy.” Cloud responded, shaking his head. “And nothing is supposed to. You hurt a lot of people.”

“A lot of people hurt us.” Yazoo replied, giving a shrug. “If it bothers you so much, why bother coming, brother.”

“You know why.”

“Your sense of honor?” Yazoo teased, his bound hands twitching in the cuffs. “Or is it your inherent kindness? Or should I say Zack's inherent kindness. After all, you were never kind before, were you. You were too afraid to be kind.”

“Do you really want to rile me up?” Cloud asked flatly. “I can leave.”

“But you won't,” Yazoo purred with a burbling laugh coloring his words. “You'll stay, because no one else can provide you with what I do. That's why you bring me such nice gifts. My photos and my combs. You treat me like a prostitute, Strife.”

“You act like one,” Cloud replied blankly, trying not to flinch away from the cold words. “If you have a problem...”

“I never said I had a problem,” Yazoo purred in response, stepping back rather than pressing Cloud's space further. His hips swayed alluringly as he backed away. “I like my photos. And I like our time together, brother.”

“You promised not to call me that while we do this.”

“You promised me a new book.” Yazoo laughed, sounding wickedly amused, despite his position. Even as he spoke, he was pulling down the ugly prison-issue orange pants, stepping out of them and kicking them away, leaving himself pale and exposed. “Sometimes one must compromise, brother.”

Cloud strode forward slowly. He waited until the last moment to unhook his sword, leaving it by the bedside as he pushed Yazoo down by his chest, just over his bound wrists. The remnant didn't struggle. He was smiling, his eyes burning underneath heavy eyelids.

“Come,” the remnant purred. “Drown in me once more. Take from me what would break anyone you loved. Give me your pain and pleasure in this empty world.”

Cloud pressed on his chest a moment, warningly. Then he shifted the grip to the chain in his manacles. He pulled them up slowly, pinning Yazoo's hands above his head. The remnant didn't struggle. He smirked up at Cloud as though he were the one in control, his eyes blazing in what could have been pleasure or rage, and might have been both.

Cloud was not gentle with him. He ripped the clothes off him, leaving bruises where the cloth pressed hard against his skin before tearing. Yazoo didn't respond to the pain, as though it were nothing to him but a mild inconvenience. He arched into the hot touch of Cloud's free hand, his lazy eyes sparkling with amusement as Cloud stroked his taut muscles without releasing his bound wrists.

“How do you stay in such good shape?” Cloud asked suspiciously.

“You ask as if I was human,” Yazoo's voice sounded like he had trapped a laugh inside it. “Who says I need to do anything? Do gods need to weight lift to maintain their physique? Do you?”

Cloud shook him by his bound wrists in retribution, but Yazoo only smiled at the punishing movement. The skin around his wrists was raw and red from the mistreatment, but if he felt it at all, it didn’t' show on his perfect, delicate features.

“Talking about yourself like that,” Cloud growled. “And you wonder why we keep you three locked up.”

“Yes,” Yazoo purred. “I do. Wouldn't it be so much more fun if I could visit you too? If this game went both ways, Brother?”

“This game...” Cloud muttered, eyes narrowed in frustration.

Was it a game? That wasn't what he'd meant it to be. He hadn't meant it to be anything at all. He'd mean to ensure the prisoners were alive and treated well. No matter how many uncertainties Cloud had in life, he knew for sure he was against torture, and always would be. How it had gone from that into this was... Well. He supposed it had been Yazoo's choice. And it probably spoke ill of him that he'd let that decision stand, but gods if he hadn’t needed the release. Hadn't needed someone safe and beautiful to take out all that lust and aggression on.

“You could stop, if you wanted,” Yazoo purred, gazing up at Cloud out of inhuman eyes—beautiful eyes. “Or are you too addicted to alabaster skin and mercury hair for that to be an option anymore?”

“It was never the skin and hair.” Cloud rumbled.

“Oh?” Yazoo purred, gazing up at him from the bed, where he lay unresisting, his hair splayed around him. “They eyes then? Is it our original's eyes that fill you with desire so? Do you gaze into Kadaj's and play the same games?”

Cloud barked out a brief laugh, staring at Yazoo. “Are you kidding? Even if he wasn't half my age, I like all my pieces attached.”

“Ah,” Yazoo let out a low chuckle, his legs lifting leisurely behind Cloud, wrapping around his back, crossing his ankles. “I don't suppose he would be as considerate a partner as I. And of the three, I suppose I look the most feminine.”

“I don't want feminine.” Cloud said blankly, staring down at Yazoo. “You're the only one that does this to me. Whatever it is about you.”

“Maybe it's the hips,” Yazoo teased in a low purr.

“I think it's the fun,” Cloud muttered thoughtfully, tracing his fingers down Yazoo's cheek. “You are insane. But there's something about you...”

Yazoo tilted his head mildly to the side, a smile crossing his face that was at once warm and wicked. “Don't cry.” He teased mildly in a disturbing callback to years past.

“Shut up.” Cloud pressed their lips together in a kiss that was in no way kind. He kissed his lips bloody, and received his own bites and nips in return.

“Release me,” Yazoo rasped when Cloud pulled away from the kiss. “Let me show you the pleasure I can give without my hands bound.”

“I will never trust you that far,” Cloud said darkly, unzipping his own pants.

“Yet you trust me with my legs wrapped around you.”

“I'm still in control.”

Yazoo rolled his glorious eyes, shifting abruptly below Cloud. The mako-enhanced blond sucked in a breath, tensing as he felt the Remnant's hands grip the wrist he'd left holding the chains, one leg staying in place around his waist, and the other swinging up and around, hooking around Cloud's neck. It all happened in an instant. One moment he was standing above the remnant, and the next Yazoo had him in an arm bar, his own wrist trapped uncomfortably, and the remnants hips pressing upwards as his legs held his body down. Cloud grunted as he felt the position strain his elbow. Then, just as quickly as Yazoo had taken the hold on him, he released it, stroking his hands familiarly over Cloud's bare forearm and laying a kiss on the side of his hand. He swung his legs off, neatly rolling off Cloud to land crouched on the ground, straightening soon after.

“Never imagine that a pair of handcuffs is enough to hold me,” he purred, intentionally jangling his own restraints, unperturbed by the trickle of blood he elicited from himself. “You are never as in control as you feel.”

Cloud rubbed his arm, staring at Yazoo blankly as he stood up. The remnant had gone from competent and dangerous back to looking lazily sexual in seconds flat.

“Where did you learn that one?” He asked after a moment.

Yazoo waved a hand. “Not important, brother. Now. I don't feel like being held down today. So will you let me pleasure you from above, as I like, or will you take your leave now, unfulfilled?”

Cloud stared at him, running through their previous encounters. Yazoo had never fought back before. Had never harmed him, though it seemed obvious that he would have been able to get in at least a few good licks before Cloud had the chance to recoup enough to defeat him. He shifted his weight, then nodded slowly.

“The cuffs stay on.” He warned.

Yazoo smirked in victory, swaying closer to Cloud again. If he was embarrassed by his nudity, it didn't show.

“Such a kind brother,” Yazoo purred, slowly sliding to his knees before Cloud, unzipping his pants with bound hands. “You deserve a reward.”

His handcuffs were freezing as the metal brushed against Cloud's tender flesh, but the pleasure was undeniable. Better than any Cloud had felt. Better even than the frenzied reliefs he'd indulged in with Yazoo before. He felt sick and selfish for letting this happen—letting himself become dependent on this remnant. He was supposed to be the hero of worlds. But in Yazoo's hands, he felt like a man instead. A man whose needs and desires and crashed against a wave of equal height. Yazoo's lust and strength were a neat match to his own, if not exactly equal. And their beauty was complimentary in ways that quietly appeased Cloud's inner aesthetic voice.

He was rough on the remnant once they got started. He left bruises in the wake of his touch, but without his arms pinned, Yazoo gave as good as he got. He left bite marks in Cloud's shoulders, and claw marks on his back. And before long it was hard to tell whose blood it was scenting the air.

Yazoo did not moan. He laughed instead—Low, breathless, unnerving laughs that cut straight through Cloud. His own growls rose to meet Yazoo's delight as the two of them did something too rough to be called making love, and too intimate to be called stress relief.

And when Cloud followed Yazoo over the edge, it was tangled in a kiss that was tinted with mako-sharp blood. When Yazoo pulled away from the kiss, he was calling Cloud's name through his breathless laughter.

They breathed hard afterwards, inhaling one another's scents, the empty cell carrying the sounds of their panting around them. Cloud picked himself up first, slowly collecting his clothes, not letting his body settle into sleep like it wanted. He glanced back to watch Yazoo shift on the bed till he was lounging like a cat in heat, bruised, defiled, and pleased as a sated wildcat.

“You know, one day you'll realize you're only hurting yourself,” Yazoo purred from the bed. “After all, you hero types... Saving people is what you do.”

“I am saving people. By keeping you safe.”

“Not at all, dear Cloud,” Yazoo clucked. “You're protecting them. That's a very different thing. Heroes don't take precautions and lock baddies up. They save those in need. One day, your little outside world won't need you anymore. But we will, brother. We always will.”

“I don't come here to be recruited or evangelized.” Cloud snapped, tossing the spare pair of prison garments he'd brought with him at the naked remnant and stuffing the soiled ones in his sack with the comb. None of the brothers could be given anything remotely dangerous, after all.

“No,” Yazoo purred. “You come for company. You come for release. And one day, you'll grant me the second as well. You delude yourself that we are dangerous, Cloud. Our ferocity is all in your head. All we ever wanted to do was give you a family.”

“All you ever actually did was steal my kids.” Cloud returned sharply, sliding his sword back into place on his back.

Yazoo sat halfway up, staring at him from beneath his thick lashes. He hovered there a moment, looking carved from marble—he was all hard muscle and soft lines, like a piece of art from a lost age of beauty.

“Do you hate me so much?” Yazoo asked softly.

“You know I don't.” Cloud muttered in return, turning to press the buzzer he'd been given, facing the door to the cell.

“Come visit me again soon, won't you?” Yazoo asked in no more than a whisper behind him.

The guard's footsteps echoed in the hallway, and Cloud tried not to let himself soften at the pleading note in the remnant's whisper. He cast only one glance back at Yazoo, pale and perfect on the bed, the bruises Cloud had left and the handcuffs as his only adornment. The smile on his face was fixed and superior, but it looked lonely too. Cloud's gaze slid to the wall of photographs, and he let out a slow sigh, feeling guilt simmer just below the surface.

“I'll be back in a month.” He said darkly and sharply, though it was more for the sake of the guard than anything.

He stepped through the door, letting the guard slam it shut behind him. He walked down the long, empty, echoing hall to the isolation chamber.

“I'll be waiting.” A voice murmured behind him, more serious than it should have been.

Cloud did not let himself look back. But within himself, unnervingly, he felt the piece of his heart that had always wanted to be a hero stir. As he left the prison with the torn rags of the remnant's prison uniform in the satchel he'd brought with him, he tried desperately to pretend to himself that his hero's side wasn't starting to awaken for the three young men.

He glanced at the prison schematics on the way out anyway. Just in case he ever needed them.


United States
Current Residence: Georgia
Current Hobbies: Writer, musician, artist, milkmaid.
(Seriously, I live with goats. It's pretty cool.)
Desired Career: Novelist!
It's nearly National Novel Writing Month! My favorite time of year! This means that come November I'm not allowed to write any fanfiction. You're welcome to badger me about it, but if it gets updated before December, it's because I've been a terrible writer, and I'm going to be in trouble with my own personal nano police.

For those who don't know what National Novel Writing Month is, check out the website at! It's super fun, and REALLY friendly! I love making new writing buddies, so message me if you want to be friends on the website and keep track of each other's novel progress!

Sephiroth's favorite pastime when he's off work is... 

11 deviants said Stalking a certain blond cadet
5 deviants said Reading
2 deviants said Watching paint dry
2 deviants said Angsting
2 deviants said Other (comment with your answer!)
1 deviant said Arson
1 deviant said Kid's science kits
1 deviant said Playing dressup
1 deviant said Training
No deviants said Studying sitcoms


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idontspeakhuman Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014  New member Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for watching my page!!
SnowBanshee Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014
I was heavily inspired by your fics about little Sephy and this is the result:…

So thank you. And keep the amazingness flowing
Enide-Dear Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014
Happy birthday dear! I hope you have a great one!
7Eule7 Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy Birthday! ^^3
kx241 Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2014
...Happy Birthday! :heart:
chinensisXIII Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Are you the Boomchick that tomo talks about on tumblr?
Boomchick Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2014
Yes! I am the same Boomchick! *waves!!!*
chinensisXIII Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hello hello! =)
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MEOW!! ^//u//^  YOU'VE BEEN HUGGED!! *Hug*kaomoji set 1 3/19 
Spread the DA love around! (you can copy and paste this message on their userpage!)
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3- You should hug them in public! Paste it on their page!
4- Random hugs are perfectly okay! (and sweet)
5- You should most definitely get started hugging right away!
Send This To All Your Friends, And Me If I Am 1.
If You Get 7 Back You Are Loved!
1-3 you're bad friend
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Icedragon300 Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013
Thanks for joining :iconcrystal-warriors:. :) (Smile)
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