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It's that time of year again, when National Novel Writing Month eats my soul and takes my fanfiction time away from me.

I'm hoping to catch up on posting the fics I have written here! It takes a strange amount of energy for me to post the fics here. I'm a lot better at getting them up on Tumblr and But I love you guys, and I want to involve you too!

I know a lot of you came for my remnant stories. I'm afraid they've been killing me inside recently.

Ugly Truths sits open in my browser at all times, sitting there, its google doc waiting, its cursor flashing, the beginning of the latest chapter scribed in perfect black ink. It's good. It's also only about 500 words long. Below that sits the rub—notes of chapters to come, of stories untold, of character development I don't know how to tackle.

It's never off my mind. It exhausts and eats at me, and I know I lose fans every day it goes unposted, and it kills me, because I love all of you, but Seph/Cloud is easy, and it flows, and I almost never have to fight it.

And the remnants, the dear remnants, who I've known and loved for nearly 10 years now—has it really been nearly ten years?—they bite back and claw away, and refuse to submit. It's why I love them, after all...

I digress. I'm trying to write this novel. I'm trying to write the fics I should write. I hope you all forgive me for not being the author I wish i could be.
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: violence/gore)
A FFVII fanfiction
Written by Boomchickfanfiction
Illustrated by tomowowowo

Cloud knew something was horribly wrong the moment he stepped out of the elevator on the nearly unoccupied First Class level of Shinra’s HQ. The door to Sephiroth’s apartment was ajar. The door to Sephiroth’s apartment had never been ajar. Not a single day in the two years Cloud had known him. He stopped outside it, staring at the smear of blood on the doorknob, and felt his stomach drop in fear.

He drew the training blade off his back, keeping a firm grip on it with one hand while he pushed the door carefully open with the other. It swung open on silent perfectly-oiled hinges. Everything inside the apartment looked untouched, but Cloud’s eyes fixed on the droplets of blood on the usually pristine hardwood. There was a faucet running somewhere, filling the air with quiet white noise.

He edged closer and closer to the sound, trying to quiet his breathing and steady his hand. He gripped the blade tightly stepping up to the open bathroom door. He leaned slowly around the corner, his heart in his throat and the sound of the rushing water closer than ever.

He looked in time to see shining silver hair, and a kitchen knife digging into the tender flesh of Sephiroth’s cheek.

“Seph!” Cloud screamed, lunging forward. He dropped his sword with a resounding crash, grabbing Sephiroth’s wrist with both hands and wrenching it downwards away from his skin.

He was alarmed when Sephiroth’s hand fell away easily at his pull. He almost cracked his head against the wall when he wasn’t met with the resistance he expected. Even more bizarre were the tremors wracking the arm he was clutching. The knife clattered into the sink, dropped from twitching fingers.

“What are you doi—” He looked up, and his voice died in a sharp scream of alarm.

Sephiroth stared down at him, his brows twisted, his chin coated in blood. Shining steel stitches covered his lips like a macabre zipper. His eyes were intense, and his breath was rough through his nose. Cloud watched Sephiroth’s jaw tighten and shift, pulling at the stitches in his lips.

“Gods.” Cloud rasped. “Gods, Sephiroth what—What the hell!?”
Sephiroth pulled back from him, shaking his head, unable to speak. His lips tightened together, then started to draw apart, tearing at the stitches, dragging skin and making fresh blood stem from each end of every stitch.

“No, wait!” Cloud cried, jerking forward from where he was half-leaning on the sink. He grabbed Sephiroth’s bare arms, pressing forward to catch the back of his neck with one hand, trying to meet his eyes. “Sephiroth please, don’t hurt yourself!”

His voice came out shrill—Terrified. Sephiroth made the softest of grunting sounds, his brow twisting. But he stopped fighting the stitches, slowly looking down at Cloud. Blood dripped between them, falling on the shoulder of Cloud’s shirt, then the chest as Sephiroth’s head turned. Sephiroth’s jacket was streaked with blood that had fallen from his chin.

“Let me—” Cloud couldn’t breathe.

He sucked in a breath, then another. He’d known something was wrong, but this—This was beyond wrong— It was like a surrealist painting intruding in his life. Sephiroth’s eyes gazed at him, bleak, from above a stitched-shut mouth. Cloud wished for all the world that he could leave the room and pretend he’d never seen anything.

But then Sephiroth would hurt himself. There was no re-gaining the ignorance he’d had before he’d looked into this room. He pushed aside horror and fear, and gasped in a breath to calm himself.

“Let me help you.” He whispered, sliding his hand from Sephiroth’s neck to his shoulder. “Please, don’t tear yourself up. I know you’ll heal, but please.”

For a moment, Sephiroth was tense. He looked like he would argue. He grimaced as though pained, and Cloud didn’t blame him. The newly-torn cuts at the end of every stitch pulled with any facial twitch he permitted. Then the silver-haired man bowed his head slowly, pressing his forehead to Cloud’s, and a shaking breath escaped him. His twitching hands lifted, resting on Cloud’s biceps, and the blond returned the grip a moment before brushing Sephiroth’s beautiful hair back over his shoulder into place.

“Let’s get you free.” Cloud said firmly. “I need you to sit down, okay? I’m going to find something a little better suited than a kitchen knife. I’ll be right back.”

Sephiroth’s only reply was to sink down onto the seat of the toilet, hunched in on himself and dripping crimson blood onto the tiled floor.

Cloud kept his pace calm and controlled until he left the room. Then he sprinted for the toolkit he used to maintain his motorcycle. He dug through it with a ferocity, hunting for the wire cutters he knew had come with it, even if he had never used them. The gleaming steel sutures in Sephiroth’s lips were nothing like the medical stitches he’d seen before, and he wouldn’t have the control with a pair of scissors to keep from cutting him up worse.

He finally dragged them free, wincing at the oil stains on them, and returned to the bathroom. He hesitated just before turning the corner, but shook off the edge of his mind screaming for him not to go any farther—To reject the reality that life was presenting him. Sephiroth needed him. He would not let him down.

“Let me get these sterile.” He whispered as he walked into the room, unable to keep but fixing his gaze on the pale, bloody form of his brutally muted boyfriend.

Sephiroth made the softest of sounds. It might have been understanding, impatience, or just pain. Cloud couldn’t tell. He dug an alcohol wipe out of their medical kit, scrubbing off the business ends of the wire clippers, then the handles too. He knew Sephiroth’s obsession with keeping wounds clean, and as fast as he wanted to go, he needed Sephiroth’s cooperation to do it.

“Good enough?” He asked the man, throwing the alcohol wipe away and looking to him.

Sephiroth was shaking worse now. His throat worked, and he gave a terse nod. Cloud watched his hands open and close where they were braced on his knees, the shaking unabated.

He moved over, crouching before him. He steadied himself on one knee, taking in the damage. There were at least fifteen stitches spanning Sephiroth’s usually soft lips. They were held in neutral expression, no sassy smirk or agonized grimace able to escape them. The stitches across the soft arch in the center of his lips were crossed in an ‘x’ that mirrored their natural curve.

“Don’t move, okay?” Cloud whispered, his voice weak at the thought of what could happen if Sephiroth shifted abruptly while he held the wire cutters to his face. “Just hold really really still.”

He lifted a shaking hand, pausing as Sephiroth’s hands lifted to catch his halfway there. The man held his hand for a moment in between his, as though steadying him. He met Cloud’s eyes and gave a slow nod, taking a deep breath through his nose. Cloud leaned forward, just enough to kiss one of Sephiroth’s fingers, the softest of touches, meant to provide him with some affection—some calm.

Then Sephiroth released him, and there was no impediment to Cloud beginning the twisted work but his own reluctance. He carefully placed his free hand against Sephiroth’s chin as an anchor point, and slowly slid the bottom blade of the wire cutters between Sephiroth’s sewn-shut lips.

He snipped the first wire, and almost cried with relief when he saw it spring open. He could do this. He could set him free. He bit his lip as he gripped the end of the wire in his fingers. He waited until Sephiroth had closed his eyes and given the smallest of nods, then pulled, dragging it out of his lips. He tried not to watch the way it tugged at the vulnerable skin.

“One down.” He whispered, readjusting his hands to isolate the second wire. Blood seeped from between Sephiroth’s lips where Cloud had opened the gap, and Cloud had the sinking suspicion that it was not all from the stitches. He tried not to think about it. He tried not to think about anything.

He cut three wires and pulled each out, laying them on the floor at Sephiroth’s feet, before the man pulled away.

Cloud wondered why for a moment. Then Sephiroth choked and coughed through his nose, his eyes clenched shut. Cloud braced him with a hand against his chest, offering support just in case Sephiroth really was as weak as he looked.

He waited for the fit to pass, rubbing small circles into Sephiroth’s chest with his thumb, hoping that it was comforting, at least in some way. Sephiroth finally caught his breath again, though it was ragged and too-quick. He seemed to be having trouble getting enough air with only his nose.

Cloud lifted a hand to cup his cheek, then jerked it away again quickly. He’d felt something move. Something that was not a tongue. Something hard that had poked against the skin for just a moment.

A soft squeak caught in the air before the room went quiet again.

“Is there something in your mouth?” Cloud whispered, his voice trembling.

Brows twisted and eyes clenched shut in an expression of pain, Sephiroth nodded.

“Something alive?” Cloud rasped, barely able to make himself say the words.

Another nod.

Cloud barely grabbed the trash can in time before he was heaving into it, his stomach rebelling without consent from his brain. He grimaced, fighting back the tide of sickness with sheer willpower. He dragged his head back up, wiping his mouth on his sleeve artlessly, trying not to tremble.

Sephiroth made the softest of sick sounds, his expression tensing further still as he fought it back.

“I’m sorry,” Cloud whispered, on the verge of tears. “I’m sorry, don’t throw up, you can do this, Seph. I’m going to get it out, I promise.”

A hand groped for him blindly, and Cloud caught it, clinging tightly in response, steadying Sephiroth with his grip as best he could.

“Got a handle on it?” Cloud asked when Sephiroth’s breathing seemed to have evened again.

A slow nod, and Sephiroth drew his hand away, wiping it across the bloody surface of his chin, his eyes cracking open to stare at the liquid in quiet resignation. He let out a slow breath, stripping out of his restrictive jacket while they were in a pause.

“Let me finish.” Cloud whispered. “We’re already three in, Seph, we can do this.”

He picked up the clippers from where he’d dropped them, but didn’t bother sterilizing them again. There was something alive in Sephiroth’s mouth. Nothing he did was going to make his OCD worse at this point. His hands held a fine tremor that would not stop.

He worked more quickly, forcing himself to keep his hands steady and his breathing even. He couldn’t think too much about what was happening. He’d lose it the moment it caught up to him, and that had to be after Sephiroth was safe. He found a slow rhythm of snip and remove, snip and remove.

By the time he’d reached the X at the center of Sephiroth’s lips, the man was shaking worse than ever, and Cloud’s shoulders were getting tired from the strange position. He had to grab a towel to wipe away some of the blood pouring from between his lips before going back to work. There was so much of it it was sometimes hard to see the trailing ends of wire.

Something shifted with a squealing sound behind Sephiroth’s teeth, and the man jerked just as Cloud pressed the clippers together. He gasped as he sliced deep into Sephiroth’s lip, setting a fresh stream of blood free.

“I’m sorry!” Cloud’s hand fumbled for some toilet paper to staunch the bleeding on the ugly cut. “I’m sorry, Sephiroth, I—”

Sephiroth touched his hand, shaking his head twice and squeezing his wrist. His eyes tightened at the corners as he stared at Cloud, his expression all tension. He pulled the paper away from his bloody lip, taking Cloud’s other hand and pressing the cutters back against his bound mouth. Cloud swallowed hard at the obvious, silent request. He assented, removing the blood-soaked paper away from the already-healing skin, swallowing his guilt.

“I won’t slip again.” He whispered, more reassuring himself than Sephiroth of the fact. “You’re going to be okay.”

He bit his lip as he lifted his trembling hand back into position, and isolated the crossed wires before closing the wire clippers on them. They were halfway done. The slit in Sephiroth’s upper lip where Cloud’s hand had slipped started knitting together even as he watched. It was an awful sight. Cloud tried not to let himself dwell on it. There were so many wires left to go.

Snip and remove, snip and remove. He tried not to think about the fact that the wire he was cutting was being pulled from his lover’s soft lips, or about the blood that fell anew from every place he drew the stitches free. He tried not to think about how badly his actions had to be hurting Sephiroth, even without his hand slipping. He tried hardest not to think about the towel between Sephiroth’s legs, soaking up the pool of blood.

Sephiroth made a jerking motion, and Cloud jerked his clippers away abruptly.

“Only two more.” He said briskly. “Only two more, Seph, and you’ll be—”

Not fast enough for the General, it seemed. Sephiroth bowed his head and ripped his mouth open despite the final two wires holding it closed. He cupped his hands before his face, and reached inside his mouth with two fingers. The clotting blood from his mouth pooled in his hands, and something large and wet slid free. For a moment, Cloud thought it was his tongue. Then it shuddered, and gave the smallest of squeaking sounds.

For a moment, everything was still. Cloud stared at the sight of his lover, lips parted, the two final stitches hanging like rings from the corner of his mouth, his top lip shredded where he’d pulled free. In the palms of his hands, a blood-drenched mouse trembled, sneezing Sephiroth’s blood out of its little nose.

“Cloud.” Sephiroth rasped, sounding numb and distant. “I need something to hold it in.”


“The mouse.” Sephiroth, turned his head for a moment, cupping one hand over the other and making a strained sound, like he was holding back a retch. “I need something to… To hold it in…”

“You’re not going to… That is, you want to…?”

“Not its fault.” Sephiroth rasped, blood spilling from his lips with every word.

Cloud sprinted it into the kitchen without further comment, hunting through the tupperware his mother had sent them as a joke about their domesticity. He found a roomy one, and swiftly stabbed three holes in the top so the creature would be able to breathe. He practically skidded when he went to his knees before Sephiroth again, holding the container open.

The gentle reverence with which Sephiroth laid the shivering half-drowned creature in the box was one of the most heart-wrenching things Cloud had ever seen.

He closed the box firmly, but carefully. The way Sephiroth had handled the rodent meant that Cloud couldn’t imagine being cruel with it. He set it carefully out of the way and looked up to his lover.

“How bad?” He whispered, trying not to let his voice shake.

“Just a lot of blood.” The words were slurred, and Sephiroth shook his head a little, trying to clear it. “A lot of blood and fur and… Hand me the rubbing alcohol.”

Cloud passed it without a word, then instantly recoiled as Sephiroth pulled off the cap and tipped it into his mouth, shifting bonelessly off the toilet to spit the bloody alcohol into the tub.

“Seph you shouldn’t—”

“It was afraid.” Sephiroth rasped. “Bit and scratched at my tongue, at my gums, at—I can—I can still feel its tail in my throat and—”

He broke off, retching but just tipped back more of the rubbing alcohol. Cloud could only stare as the man swallowed it like it was water, all but bathing his torn mouth and lips in the burning fluid. Sephiroth drained the bottle, then barely managed to rearrange himself to the toilet before throwing it all up again. He choked in breaths between bouts of vomiting up what looked like coffee grounds. Cloud had learned enough first-aid to know digested blood when he saw it.

He forced back his nausea, moving over and wrapping an arm around Sephiroth’s back in support. He hadn’t expected the man to lean on him, but he was strong enough to hold him in place when he did.

“Keep breathing.” He urged in a whisper, though he knew the words were stupid. Sephiroth was coughing over the toilet bowl, wracking chokes of sickness, and coughing meant breathing. That didn’t mean it was comfortable.

“Don’t,” Sephiroth heaved in a gasp of air. “Don’t be afraid.”

“You’re hurt.” Cloud whispered, squeezing Sephiroth ever so slightly where he held him around the shoulders. “Of course I’m afraid. Sephiroth, what the hell happened?”

Sephiroth drew breath to speak, but gagged instead, shuddering as blood dripped from his lips. Cloud winced in sympathy and shook his head.

“I made a mistake.” Sephiroth managed to croak. “It won’t happen again.”

“A mista—No, we’ll talk later. For now getting you well is what’s important.”

“Do we have anything the mouse can eat?” Sephiroth asked, looking bizarrely worried about the little creature that had torn the inside of his mouth to shreds.

“I’ll check.” Cloud promised. “But after we get you looked after, okay? I was… I just want to be sure you’re alright.”

Sephiroth let out a slow breath of air, nodding quietly.

“Would you turn on the shower?” He whispered. “I need this blood off me, but the tub is filthy…”

Cloud glanced around the blood-spattered bathroom, but decided not to argue that the bathtub was the easiest to clean mess thus far. He stood, slowly, making sure Sephiroth wouldn’t slump without him before turning on the shower. He pulled the shower head off its detachable hook to spray the blood in the bed of the tub down the drain, or at least closer to it.

“Can you get up?” He asked Sephiroth with quiet worry, hearing the man shift.

“I didn’t lose that much blood.” Sephiroth rumbled.

“But you’re shaking…” Cloud’s words trailed off in uncertainty.

“After effects.” Sephiroth said with a weary numbness. “The paralytic leaves me shaky once it wears off. It will be gone within an hour. I’ll be like nothing ever happened.”

“Just because you’re physically healed doesn’t mean you’re okay…” Cloud whispered, but he didn’t object further than that.

He just aimed the shower-head away while Sephiroth climbed into the tub with exhaustion in every line of his face. The silver-haired man didn’t even bother trying to stand. He lay back in the tub with heavy sigh of relief. Cloud carefully drew the shower head down to help him scrub the blood off his chest. He was more grateful than ever for the long hose that allowed Sephiroth to stay lying down while he got clean.

“The last two,” Sephiroth whispered, wiping the last of the blood off his chin, blinking as though his eyelids were suddenly feeling very heavy. “Will you take them out?”

“You couldn’t have waited one more minute?” Cloud asked softly, even as he retrieved the dropped clippers once more.

“My passenger was drowning.” Sephiroth murmured, his eyes cutting over to the little box. Inside, the mouse was intermittently circling the tupperware and cleaning itself of Sephiroth’s blood. If it survived, it was going to be the most mako enhanced mouse in the world without a doubt.

Cloud bit his lip, catching one of the circles of wire, snipping it swiftly and pulling it free. Sephiroth didn’t even flinch this time.

“How are you so calm?” He whispered softly, his hand resting over Sephiroth’s chest, feeling him breath.

“Fear will not change reality.” Sephiroth rumbled. “The last one, Cloud, please…”

Cloud took a slow breath, slicing out the final stitch, pulling it away and sliding his thumb lightly over Sephiroth’s lip, wiping away the drop of blood that welled there.

“You’re okay?” He whispered in quiet concern. “You’re really okay, right?”

"I would hesitate to call myself at full capacity," Sephiroth lifted a hand, brushing his sopping wet bangs back out of his face. "But I am alright, Cloud. The damage was temporary. And predominantly psychological."

"That’s why I’m worried!" Cloud objected, shaking his head and tossing the wire-cutters onto the blood-soaked towel. "You’re physically stronger than anyone I know, you heal at the drop of a hat, you’re incredible at it, but your mind—your heart…"

"More fragile." Sephiroth agreed wearily. "It was… I will not lie. I was experiencing a very unpleasant series of emotions when you arrived.”

"I noticed. You were about to slice your face open."

"The knife wouldn’t cut the wire." Sephiroth rasped, lifting a finger to the lines over the corner of his lips, where the torn segments of his upper lip were slowly healing back together, leaving dual lines of scabs. The rest of his wounds had already healed. He felt the join of the healing flesh with a fingertip, then let his hand drop back to his side, leaning his head back in the tub.

"And your answer was to slice your face open."

"I couldn’t stand it much longer." Sephiroth whispered. "Better to endure a little pain than to have the life of another of His victims on my hands."

"It’s a mouse."

"It was trembling. It was afraid, and it was inside the mouth of a predator. That is no way to die. I’m amazed its heart did not give out before you got to me."

Cloud didn’t argue further, he just slid his hands over Sephiroth’s jaw, cupping his cheeks in both hands.

"Will this happen again?" He asked seriously.

"It has never happened before." Sephiroth said as a reply, giving a weary shrug. "Cloud, please, I will answer your questions, just…"

"What do you need?" Cloud asked, shaking off his own hesitations and doubts.

“Touch.” Sephiroth replied succinctly. “Affection…”

"Done." Cloud murmured, sliding into the tub with his drenched lover and laying over his chest without concern about being too heavy.

One of Sephiroth’s arms anchored around his waist, and the man tilted his head till it was resting against Cloud’s.

"The worst part." He whispered after a long moment, "Was that he knew the two people I would have once gone to for help were gone… He laughed, that I would be alone to ‘clean myself up.’ That was worse…Than anything he could have hurt me with."

"You can come to me." Cloud whispered, his brows twisted.

"I couldn’t." Sephiroth rasped. "Not like that. I am glad you came, but I could not have gone to you."

"You don’t trust me?"

"You live on a floor of the building where I would be seen."

Cloud softened at the words, nodding his understanding. He lifted a hand, stroking his fingers over the barely-visible pale points of scars rimming Sephiroth’s lips.

"What was it for?"

"I laughed at him." Sephiroth muttered. "It was… Foolish. Arrogant. I’m so numb to being hurt, I wasn’t expecting anything this…"

"Fucking sick?"

"I was going to say ‘creative,’ but I like yours more."

Sephiroth turned his head as he finished the words, kissing Cloud’s fingers softly, his eyes falling closed. He sighed, the breath warm on Cloud’s fingers.

"You’re exhausted." Cloud whispered, watching the soft green glow of Sephiroth’s eyes and the stress lines under them.

"The paralytic." Sephiroth said with a tick of his shoulders approximating a shrug.

"You mentioned that. You couldn’t move?"

"If I could have moved, I would not have allowed a mouse to be sewn into my mouth, Cloud."

Cloud gave the softest of retching sounds, pushing away from Sephiroth and clenching his eyes shut, trying to calm himself. He breathed slowly through his mouth till the urge to vomit passed.

"Sorry." Sephiroth commented after a moment.

"It’s fine." Cloud slumped back against his chest, wrapping his arms around Sephiroth’s neck and shoulders. "I’m not the one who got hurt."

"But you had to deal with it nonetheless." Sephiroth whispered. "You did not ask for that any more than I asked for it to happen. I will not mention it again. At least not until some time has passed."

"Thanks." Cloud whispered, pressing a soft kiss to Sephiroth’s chest. He could still smell blood all over him, but it was, at least, a lesser amount than it had been before.

"Do you think it will be okay?" Sephiroth whispered in quiet concern.

"The mouse?" Cloud asked, following his look.

"I’m very enhanced." Sephiroth whispered in quiet concern. "Being in that much blood… it might have been burned, or gotten sick. It almost certainly has mako poisoning from having it in its mouth…"

"I’m really more worried about you." Cloud murmured honestly.

"I’ll be better if the mouse lives." Sephiroth sat up slowly, steadying Cloud against his chest as he did.

Cloud slid his hand over his shoulder. “Then I’ll do what I can to help it. But you need to be in bed, Sephiroth. You need rest.”

"As soon as it’s clean and looked to." The general promised, shifting his eyes off the mouse to look down at him. "Cloud… I am.. Thank you. For everything. You didn’t have to do that."

"I had to." Cloud whispered, pressing a soft kiss to Sephiroth’s chin, unwilling to kiss his lips so close on the healing of the injury. "I really did. Let’s look after the mouse so you can lie down."

Sephiroth nodded, waiting for Cloud to stand out of the tub before following him, his motions slow and careful.

"How are you feeling?" Cloud asked, even as he stooped, lifting the box with the mouse carefully, trying not to jostle the little creature, wincing when it scrambled in fright.

"Sick." Sephiroth said succinctly. "Tainted. But better."

"Chugging rubbing alcohol was not a wise way to deal with that, you realize."

"I never claimed to be wise. I am only good at faking. And it helped."

"Maybe your brain, but I’m pretty sure your stomach could have done without it."

Sephiroth shrugged, stepping up with a little tremble beside Cloud as they reached the kitchen table, where Cloud carefully set the mouse. He slumped with a sort of exhausted grace into a chair.

"I’d have been sick anyway. Might as well feel like it did some good."

Cloud glanced back to watch the man’s long-fingered hand rest slowly over the mouse’s current enclosure, almost protectively, and wondered how he ever could have thought of Sephiroth as the heartless ‘general.’

Cloud pulled open the fridge, looking around, trying to think what he knew of mice. Were they carnivores? Vegetarians?

"Do you think mice like mashed potatoes?"

"Worth a try…"

Cloud was pulling out the leftover potatoes when it all sunk in past the layers of calm he’d forced on himself. He sucked in a hollow gasp, then dropped to his knees, no longer able to stand.

"Cloud?" Sephiroth’s voice seemed far away, and Cloud tried to breathe. His lungs wouldn’t work, frozen by shock and horror. Blood and sickness and stitches, and the pain in those green eyes—the fear.

"You’re in shock." Sephiroth was whispering from somewhere, and a warm weight settled at Cloud’s back. "I am so sorry, my sweet Cloud. I’m sorry."

Cloud wheezed, lifting a hand to cling to Sephiroth’s wrist, even as he slid slowly towards darkness.

He woke only moments later as his body automatically started breathing in unconsciousness.

"You’re okay." Sephiroth whispered, as Cloud’s vision slowly slid back into focus, untunneling. "Relax. Just breathe, Cloud, you’re okay."

"Sorry." Cloud whispered, blinking tears of shock out of his eyes. "Sorry…"

"It’s not your fault." Sephiroth whispered, brushing a hand through Cloud’s hair slowly. "Just breathe for a while, alright? I know this was not the homecoming I would have wanted you to return to."

"I think I left the door open." Cloud realized suddenly, lifting a hand to his head, catching his breath.

"I did it first." Sephiroth said with a small shrug. "Come. Up. Let me get you in a chair, and I’ll see to it."


"And then we will rest together." Sephiroth’s hand squeezed lightly where he held Cloud’s arm. "I promise."

Cloud let Sephiroth guide him to a chair by the table, and slumped in it, closing his eyes and focusing on steadying his breathing. The silver-haired man padded quietly through the apartment, and Cloud listened to the sound of his feet on the floor, and of the door closing.

A soft squeak drew his attention and he looked into the box. The little mouse was staring out of the box at him with wide red eyes, washing its face with tiny pink paws. Cloud couldn’t help the smallest of smiles. Under the blood, it was a white mouse. it had been stained uncomfortably pink, though, and Cloud did his best not to think about it too hard.

"You’re kind of cute." Cloud whispered, because it was better to have something to focus on other than silver stitches in bloody skin. "I hope we can find somewhere good for you to go. Heck, I hope you live through this…"

The mouse blinked back, and its red eyes flickered briefly. Cloud rubbed his eyes, sure he’d imagined the sight of softly glowing blue in the beady-eyed gaze.

"Bonding?" Sephiroth asked, sounding a little too tired to be playful.

Cloud rested his head on the table, feeling too emotionally exhausted to hold it up any more. “Nah. I don’t do rodents… I like dogs, though.”

"Adrenaline crash?" Sephiroth suggested, walking to the cabinets, sorting through them before coming out with a shallow sauce-dish he’d purchased after seeing them at Wutaian peace talks.

"Yeah." Cloud agreed. "Probably."

He watched Sephiroth fill the shallow dish with water before walking over. The man opened the top of the container and set the dish inside, not seeming to flinch when the mouse scurried away from his hand.

"Silly." Cloud scolded the mouse. "You shouldn’t be scared of him."

"Everyone is scared of me, Cloud." Sephiroth whispered. "You and Zack are exceptions."

"But you could have killed it and you didn’t." Cloud objected as Sephiroth closed the lid.

"That describes my interaction with every living soul in this building." Sephiroth replied with a loftily arched brow, walking to the cabinet to look through it for something palatable for their guest.

“Grains, maybe?” He muttered to himself.

“It likes the water.” Cloud commented as he watched the mouse slowly start drinking from the little dish Sephiroth had left behind, hoping to help Sephiroth feel a little better about the whole thing.

“Good.” Sephiroth whispered, relief stark in his voice as he returned with a box of rice and a bag of carrots. “I hope these will do to replenish its energy.”

“Looks right.” Cloud commented with a shrug, his head still on the table.

“You’re surprisingly calm.” Sephiroth murmured, carefully lifting the corner of the container furthest from the water so the mouse wouldn’t be scared away from its drink.

“Too tired to be freaked.”

“Easy little one.” Sephiroth’s voice took on a low, gentle note as he carefully placed the food into the box, filling the corner with rice and carrots for the mouse that had been, moments ago, an instrument of torture.

Cloud watched the mouse cower, and sighed.

“Don’t suppose you’ll want to give it back.”

“He said it was a failure.” Sephiroth said blankly. “And that it suited me. It would not live. And it probably has seen no kindness in its life. I would sooner feed it to a snake than give it back to him.”

“I’ll take that as a no, then.” Cloud sighed. “Seph, can we go to bed?”

His words came out in a whine, but the kiss Sephiroth pressed to his forehead was all indulgent affection.

“Come on.” The man whispered. “Up with you. Let’s go to bed and give our guest some privacy in which to relax.”

“I’m supposed to be taking care of you, aren’t I.” Cloud sighed, shifting to rise stiffly.

“You did.” Sephiroth said, bracing him with a hand at his elbow. “And I feel much more myself.”

"You still sound a little rough still." Cloud muttered.

"I would rather not discuss it." The words came out slightly ragged, and Cloud leaned against Sephiroth’s side in support.

"Got it."

The closed the bedroom door behind them, and slid into bed without further discussion. Cloud wrapped around Sephiroth as best he could, tangling the fingers of one hand in Sephiroth’s hair and hooking one leg around his hips to anchor them together.

"Will you be able to rest?" Cloud whispered, trailing his free hand lightly over Sephiroth’s mouth. He paused over the healing line where his wire clippers had been jostled by his fear and sliced Sephiroth’s lip. The mark was almost invisible now.

"Probably not." Sephiroth’s lips brushed over Cloud’s fingers as he spoke, but he did not dislodge the touch. "But I will stay and relax and breathe. That is enough."

"Alright." Cloud dropped the touch slowly, and shifted to kiss Sephiroth with all the gentility he could muster. He tasted like blood, and made a disapproving noise, but he permitted the soft kiss.

"Go to sleep." Sephiroth muttered when they parted. "Before I decide washing my mouth forty five more times is a more valuable use of my time."

"I love you." Cloud whispered, nestling his head under Sephiroth’s chin and clinging to him tightly. "I am so sorry."

"You have nothing to apologize for." Sephiroth rumbled in reply, his words shaking in his chest, thrumming under Cloud’s ear. "You were brave and gentle, and I am grateful to you. Now rest, and forget. It will never happen again, Cloud. You will never have to do that again."

"If you’re hurt, I want to help." Cloud whispered, his eyes squeezing shut. "Don’t hide from me just because you’re worried about upsetting me."

"Sleep." Sephiroth said softly. "We’ll have time to talk tomorrow."

Cloud closed his eyes to sleep. The vision of Sephiroth bloody and disfigured sprung to mind, and Cloud trembled, feeling tears spring to his eyes.

"Seph…" He whispered, splaying the hand that wasn’t holding his hair over his heartbeat.

"Shh." Sephiroth’s wide hand slid down Cloud’s back in comfort. "I’m right here, Cloud."

Cloud bit his lip to keep from being too loud, but he couldn’t help the tears that slid down his cheeks, wetting Sephiroth’s chest where they were curled so close together.

His lover didn’t comment. His hand stayed on Cloud’s back, gentle and comforting, until Cloud cried himself to sleep.

Cloud walked up to the apartment and paused outside for just a moment. Door closed, check. No bloodstains, check. No strange sounds from inside… Not check. Something was being moved around with a fair amount of ‘clanging’ involved. It didn’t seem outright dangerous, but Cloud didn’t trust it. Ever since the nightmarish homecoming two days ago, everything seemed to be setting him on edge.

He opened the door slowly, glancing around the entryway.

"Welcome home." Called a familiar, low voice after a momentary pause.

Cloud let himself relax at the words, slumping back against the door as he closed it.

"Thanks." He called, stripping off his shoes and sword harness. "What are you working on?"

"Oh…" Sephiroth sounded surprised to be asked. "Well…"

Cloud paused at the hesitance in that word. Then he walked slowly into the kitchen.

A plastic monstrosity was taking up their dining room table. It was covered in colorful tubes, twisting in and out of a main container. Inside, the mouse who had been sitting in tupperware, recovering from Mako poisoning for the last two days, was pressing its paws against the clear plastic of the cage. Sephiroth was standing at the sink, holding a half-filled mouse’s water-bottle.

"What…" Cloud blinked, looking around the room. "What on earth is—You’re keeping it?"

"Her." Sephiroth corrected, his green eyes flickering over to Cloud.


"And her name is Hestia." Sephiroth said mildly, turning back to filling the water bottle.


"I was doing research into the matter of relocation, and the survival rate of relocated animals, especially those raised in captivity—"

"Seph, I—"

"The chance of her living is abysmal, and giving her back is not an option, she’d be killed, probably slowly—"

"I know—"

"Really they aren’t expensive pets, and she is already slightly fond of me, she did not bite at all when I moved her to her new home," He turned off the water, screwing on its lid, "And she is rather cute now that she is clean, so I didn’t think it would—"

"Seph." Cloud stepped forward, pressing a hand to his chest. "It’s fine."


"It’s fine." Cloud gave him a small smile. "Probably not normal, but it’s fine. Relax. You don’t have to explain to me, you know."

"Don’t I?"

Cloud glanced over at the fancy cage, watching as the mouse—Hestia, he reminded himself—pressed a foot to her tiny spinning mouse wheel, giving it an experimental push, her wide ears lifting as it spun under her touch.

"No." Cloud murmured. "I think it’ll be good for you, actually. Just maybe not in the dining room?"

Sephiroth gave him a warm look of relief, drawing him into the softest kiss, before moving to place the water bottle in its holder. Hestia, her eyes glowing a soft blue that had replaced their natural pink entirely, leapt on top of the wheel in her cage in a single easy motion and started running for the sheer fun of it, spinning the wheel into a blur.

"Well one thing’s for sure." Cloud muttered, tilting his head to the side. "She’s definitely your mouse."

Sephiroth looked back at him with a small, fragile smile, and Cloud smiled back, fighting off the mental image of stitches in those perfect lips.
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...
12 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!


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 that time of year again, when National Novel Writing Month eats my soul and takes my fanfiction time away from me.

I'm hoping to catch up on posting the fics I have written here! It takes a strange amount of energy for me to post the fics here. I'm a lot better at getting them up on Tumblr and But I love you guys, and I want to involve you too!

I know a lot of you came for my remnant stories. I'm afraid they've been killing me inside recently.

Ugly Truths sits open in my browser at all times, sitting there, its google doc waiting, its cursor flashing, the beginning of the latest chapter scribed in perfect black ink. It's good. It's also only about 500 words long. Below that sits the rub—notes of chapters to come, of stories untold, of character development I don't know how to tackle.

It's never off my mind. It exhausts and eats at me, and I know I lose fans every day it goes unposted, and it kills me, because I love all of you, but Seph/Cloud is easy, and it flows, and I almost never have to fight it.

And the remnants, the dear remnants, who I've known and loved for nearly 10 years now—has it really been nearly ten years?—they bite back and claw away, and refuse to submit. It's why I love them, after all...

I digress. I'm trying to write this novel. I'm trying to write the fics I should write. I hope you all forgive me for not being the author I wish i could be.

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idontspeakhuman Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014  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!
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Happy Birthday! ^^3
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...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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Send This To All Your Friends, And Me If I Am 1.
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Icedragon300 Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013
Thanks for joining :iconcrystal-warriors:. :) (Smile)
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