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May The Steel Never Dull

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Seated in the living room, everyone squashed into the available space, Aerith in Tifa's lap and Cloud perched in Zack's lap.

Cloud prodded Seph to start talking with his upper left wing, "Bahamut frequently helped Fenrir, even for things that Bahamut wouldn't... shouldn't do. A Summon's supposed to be protection and only one Summon per person but I can understand both. The only reason I'd be able to do that—"

Realization dawned, "Like the Knights and me, except Lance and I have a better understanding than most."

"You're not making any sense to the rest of us." Genesis pointed out, squished as he was between Seph and Angeal.

"You can understand your parent's Summon, just like they can understand yours. Built-in babysitters with the ability to talk to your parents, basically." Cloud spelled it out carefully.

Genesis chewed on his bottom lip instead of cursing and murmured bitterly, "Explains why 'Nix never interacted with my parents."

Sephiroth moved before any other Packmate could, hauling Gen right into his lap and wrapping the lower sets of wings around their beloved. "Then it was their loss, Gen, and our gain."

"You do realize that I can hear all of your Summons?" Ma offered wryly. Genesis's hopeful look was almost painful to see but she confided, "Even yours, Genesis; 'Nix is a most entertaining conversationalist. I claimed you for my sons and I meant it."

"Oh."

"Which leaves me asking; Sharp, do you think you're related to Sephiroth?" Ma prodded as she settled in her chair.

"Summons can obfuscate, certainly, but they cannot lie. Bahamut has been after me to wake for some time now for the sake of my—as he puts it—'silvered seraph child.' You can imagine my surprise when I discovered not one but two men who fit the description in different ways. Your Cloud has silver feathers woven into the white while Sephiroth has what can only be blond ones woven into the black." Valentine replied with a heavy sigh.

Cloud arched his upper right wing at that, tugging it into the light of the candles and blinking at the sight of several silver feathers in his wing.

"When you say some time... How much?" Tifa questioned, ice twisting in fractals around her. Shiva must want to know as well, though she avoided Typhoon's smaller form.

"It was harder to track time where I rested—"

{SOME YEARS, HE SAYS. NEARLY TWO DECADES, VINCENT, SEVENTEEN YEARS TOO MANY YOU SPENT AT 'REST' FOR YOUR 'SINS'.} The deep grumble came from near Valentine, the smaller form of what could only be Bahamut draped across the man's shoulders. {NOW THAT SOMEONE ELSE CAN HEAR ME, YOUR LIFE WILL BE MUCH BETTER FOR IT.}

Valentine looked like he'd bitten into a sour cactus fruit. "Do shut up."

{BITE ME. YES, HE'S RELATED, OTHERWISE THAT ONE OVER THERE COULDN'T HEAR ME.} Bahamut motioned to Cloud, tiny black wings glimmering in the light of the fireplace. {SPEAKING OF RELATIONS, WHAT PATH DID YOU CHOOSE LITTLE WOLF?}

Cloud fluffed his wings as he thought about his answer, "I chose to join AVALANCHE for the sake of my Pack. It... didn't seem right to leave others to suffer the same fate we had in the path that was and would have been."

{YOU GRABBED THE WHITE THREAD UNRAVELLED AND WOVE IT AMONGST YOUR OWN TAPESTRY. I SEE.} Bahamut murmured thoughtfully.

Aerith laughed at that, Minerva a soft swish of pink scarf wrapped at her elbows. "No, Great Lord of the Skies, he repaired the thread unravelled with strands of his own. White was repaired with crimson, as was bronze, blue and black. Look closer still, please."

{INDEED, IT IS. CRIMSON WOUND AND UNWOUND, FREEDOM EARNED THOUGH STILL THREADS TO SNIP IN THE TAPESTRY. WE WILL HELP WITH THOSE, THE THREADS THAT BIND US STILL.} Bahamut murmured, vindictive pleasure creeping into the Summon's tone.

"What do you mean, threads that bind us still?" Angeal prodded, fingers buried in Zack's wings.

{THE ONES THAT HOLD KUJATA AND LEVIATHAN AS THEIR SUMMON.}

"I think he means Professors Creepy, which we agreed we needed to take out before ShinRa got anymore ideas on how to create SOLDIERs." Zack chirruped, his arms wrapped around Cloud's waist but freed one to gesture to the room in general. "Looks like we have more allies than we think, huh?"

"There's AVALANCHE, us and our SOLDIERs that still want to fight and now Mr. Valentine as well."

"First we have to finish with the Reactor and that fire-hazard that 'Nix is begging to burn to ash and lava both." Genesis snorted. "Then we can plan from there."

"That and get whatever's in the Nibel Mountains that keeps hold of JENOVA's presence." Zack hummed as he pillowed his chin on Cloud's shoulder.

Valentine startled and then Bahamut licked his bonded's cheek, the forked tongue stealing tears as they flowed from equally crimson eyes. {WHAT RESTS IN THE MOUNTAINS IS SEPHIROTH'S MOTHER, THE ONE WHO GAVE BIRTH TO HIM AND GAVE VINCENT HIS GREATEST REGRET. HE WAS SHOT, YOU SEE, FOR TRYING TO GET HER TO LEAVE NIBELHEIM AND HOJO'S EXPERIMENT BEHIND.}

Aerith bit at her lower lip, green eyes glazing over as she communed with the LifeStream beneath their feet. "Well, the Planet says she's no harm and that her presence is self-sealed. It's harder to feel her but she's put herself to sleep deliberately, containing a majority of JENOVA, and has left notes in that regard, to the left and about six feet down from the Mansion."

"I'm not killing my Mother," Sephiroth stated flatly, "not when she rests to protect us."

Aerith nodded in agreement. "We don't need to and if we did, I'm afraid JENOVA might revive in her."

Cloud flinched and another wash of the events-that-were washed over him. "It's better if we leave her alone. We have bigger problems than someone who sleeps to protect us."

"Cloud?" Angeal questioned as he reached behind Sephiroth to cup the right side of his face. "What was it?"

"Events-that-were but aren't anymore. Something we'll need to deal with after ShinRa." He admitted even as he leaned into Angeal's touch and ran his thumb over the hand Zack still had around his waist. "Let's clear up any questions Mr. Valentine may have and then tackle the Mansion again in the morning."

"That is... agreeable." Valentine rumbled, his face a stony wall of limited emotion. Bahamut nuzzled and the man accepted but the walls he'd brought up, both physical and emotional, were reasonable after the discussion they'd had about Sephiroth's mother. "I shall take first watch."

"I'll join you, Sharp." Ma hummed, snagging her second favorite lance off the wall and joining him, blue pressing to crimson shoulder in support.