It was dark. The sun was still low in the sky outside, casting cold shadows across the village, but here, tucked away at the foot of Mount Nibel, not even that much light managed to penetrate the mansion’s grime-streaked windows.
It had been years since the last time Cloud had made the journey up here. The populations of spiders and dust bunnies only seemed to have multiplied exponentially since then. They, it seemed, would be his only company tonight. He should have expected as much. Really, what had he been thinking? A group of friends spending the night in the infamous haunted mansion, telling ghost stories and drinking their parents booze. It would’ve been pretty normal for any other nearly-sixteen year old, maybe, but these were the same ‘friends’ who’d ignored him – unless he happened to be a convenient target for snide comments or fists – for the past six years.
Gods, he was an idiot. It reeked of a setup.
He wasn’t at all surprised to find the solid oak door – left unlocked since the mansion was abandoned decades ago, the key long since lost – was suddenly, inexplicably unmoveable. He was staying the night then.
There was another problem. It was cold here, what with the lack of sunlight ever reaching the place and the freezing night, not quite out of the thrall of winter even yet, settling in. Far too cold for comfort.
Most of the rooms were still intact; moth-eaten lounges, chairs and tables left rickety with wood rot, an old grand piano sad and neglected in a corner. He’d never been upstairs before – even as a child he hadn’t trusted the half-rotted steps to hold his weight – but it seemed likely that there would be a bed, maybe some blankets, up there.
Which would be worse? he wondered distantly. Dying of hypothermia, or falling from the collapsing staircase? Falling would be quicker, at least, but probably more painful. It seemed unlikely that anyone would miss him either way. He was supposed to be leaving the village this summer, as soon as he turned sixteen, off to join ShinRa’s legendary army. No one would notice the difference if he died a few months early.
Still. He should try to not freeze to death, at least.
He trod gingerly along the very edges of each step, wincing as the wooden boards screeched in protest. There was a distinct splintering crack near the top, and Cloud froze in near terror, fingers clutching tight to the only slightly more sturdy railing. The wood twisted into a painful-looking angle, but didn’t give way. He hurried swiftly on.
In the end, it turned out that he had been right. There was a bed up here. It smelt musty, the covers moth-eaten and pocked with holes, but at least it wasn’t damp. It would do for one night.
It was only once he was settled in, still coughing occasionally from the plumes of dust that had been sent up when he tried to shake the covers out a bit, that his situation began to make itself clear to him.
He didn’t really believe in ghosts. He’d never seen one. No one had. They just blamed the occasional, seemingly causeless deaths on the spirits of this house. Cloud blamed it on the fact the villagers were so backwater they still preferred herbal remedies over manufactured medicines.
There had been a few disappearances too. Everyone in those incidents had been thought to have been last seen near the mansion. Cloud expected they’d been like him as a kid – curious, wanting to explore the most interesting thing within a ten mile radius – and just ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was evidence of several collapses on the ground floor alone.
So, really, there was no reason to be afraid of the mansion. Wary about the fragile structure of the house, sure, but the skin-prickling, creeping sensation of someone watching him? That was stupid.
He curled up tighter into himself – for warmth, obviously – wincing as the movement caused the rusted springs in the mattress to groan loudly. It would probably be better if he just went to sleep now anyway. He would find a way out in the morning, when he could actually see and was less likely to step in the wrong place and send his foot plunging through the floorboards, maybe.
Getting to sleep was harder than he thought. For an abandoned mansion, it wasn’t quiet at all. Maybe he was just hyper-aware, but even the slightest touch of a breeze seemed to set the windows rattling and the ancient wood groaning, every tiny patter of scurrying rats' feet echoed into the sound of fingernails scratching and scrabbling for entrance. His breathing was too loud, out of place.
He thought he would be grateful when the moon rose, a thick slither of silver shining in through the cracked glass, but it only served to cast twisted shadows against the floor and illuminate the clouds of dust that seemed to dance as though someone was moving through them.
His eyes lazily followed the patterns the swirling dust made, rippling and twirling, separating and flowing together again. He thought he could see a flickering fire in one moment, an ancient mountain, the ocean the next. It was only when he began to see people, cruel eyes watching him from gaunt faces, that he wondered if he'd drifted off after all and was only dreaming the patterns into life.
It felt like hours between seconds. Somewhere along the way, silver moonlight had turned to silver hair, strands stroking across him as an ethereal face moved to hover above his.
Dreamlike, Cloud opened his mouth to say something, ask something sensible; who are you, what are you doing here, perhaps. His voice didn't respond, tongue too heavy to shape sound. His entire body was sluggish and unresponsive, like a nightmare where you need to run but can only move in slow motion.
A slender finger was pressed to his lips, enforcing his silence, and he gave up on trying to form the words his mind wanted him to speak.
His cooperation ensured, the finger was replaced with a set of lips, and Cloud's eyes widened in shock.
He was kissing him. He, as the face had been male, definitely, despite the strange, androgynous delicacy of the features and the length of the man's hair. Who...? Why was he...?
Lips moved against his, slowly and thoroughly. Somehow Cloud found himself returning the movement, hesitantly before gaining confidence, though the action had never even sought the approval of his mind.
There were legends, of course. Old stories of dreadful acts carried out in this place, told around campfires with dire warnings to any child who might think the wretched mansion too interesting for their own good. They told of terrible experiments, little more than torture, of screams echoing in the night and the scarred, maimed spirits that lingered, of humans that were turned to monsters. They told of a silver-haired child, blood-covered and demon-eyed, who had lived and died here.
Nowhere did they mention a silver-haired man - the child grown, perhaps, if the spirits of the dead could grow - or that... such a thing as this would happen. The spirits of the house, if they found you, were supposed to steal you away, drag you underground and continue their hideous experiments on you while you screamed and writhed in pain.
They weren't supposed to... kiss you.
Cloud felt something brush against his mind, lingering at the edge of his thoughts, a foreign presence. Cold and smooth, gently plying, and when Cloud parted his lips to allow a questing tongue entrance, the presence softly slipped into his mind as well.
For a moment Cloud didn't know where the thought had come from. Then recollection flickered into place; the child, the silver-haired demon from the stories. He had been called Sephiroth. Was this man, then...?
Sephiroth. The presence in his mind seemed to approve, and he thought he felt a smirk on those lips as they broke away from his.
Cloud stared up, lips still parted in subconscious invitation. Demon-eyes... those were demon-eyes that met his. The unnatural mako-green gleam, the slitted pupils that were more animal than human. There was nothing human in those eyes at all.
Fingertips grazed across his jawline, Sephiroth's head dipping as his lips were lowered to brush against Cloud's neck. They were cold; not unpleasantly so, but enough that it spoke of something not quite fully living. It was the touch of something sharp at his exposed throat that finally sent a thrill of fear through him.
He could feel his heartbeat where it pounded beneath deadly points. Panic was seeping into his veins at last, muscles tensing as he tried to move, tried to push away but couldn't. It was the moment where dream morphed into nightmare, but by the time you realise what's happening, you know that it's too late to wake up.
The presence in his mind tightened, touching against his thoughts rather than just observing. That was wrong too. It was Sephiroth, Sephiroth's presence, in his head, in his thoughts. He shouldn't be there... shouldn't be able to...
Fingers caressed his skin almost reverently, every touch loosening the tension that had built, even as Cloud silently begged for his body to fight back. Across his shoulders, arms and chest, lower, exploring the shallow ridges of budding muscle. Sephiroth's voice in his mind whispered sweet nothings to him, calming, claiming, controlling.
All that was left was a sick feeling in his stomach, telling him this was wrong, so wrong. His mind was hazed, and that should've scared him... he should've been afraid that Sephiroth was doing this, controlling him somehow. He needed to fight it, needed to... but... he couldn't find the will.
Besides, it felt good. The way Sephiroth was lavishing attention on him, kissing the exposed flesh - he had been beneath the covers, and still fully clothed; when had his shirt been removed? He couldn't remember at all... - like he was actually something worth cherishing. Even the cold edge to each touch was nice, soothing against his own suddenly too-warm skin.
It was all a lie, of course. The demon, spirit, whatever Sephiroth was, didn't really care for him. But Cloud could pretend. It wasn't hard to imagine, not when Sephiroth's weight was pressing down on him, mouth nipping and sucking tenderly at his throat while hands roamed and carefully peeled away what remained of his clothing.
He still couldn't manage to speak, but a soft moan escaped his mouth as Sephiroth's fingers wrapped around hardening flesh, never touched before by foreign hands.
The sick little feeling in his stomach grew again at that - he shouldn't be letting this happen, letting another man touch him like this, and a demon no less. Reason made no headway. Even without Sephiroth's presence guiding his mind, his touches set heat flaring in Cloud's veins and made his body thrum with a new kind of tension. He didn't think he could stop this now, even if had wanted to.
No dream had a right to ever feel this good.
His body was still beyond his control, so Cloud could only conclude that Sephiroth was the one who eventually moved him, spreading his legs up and apart. The position left him utterly exposed, laid out like a feast, and Cloud felt his face flush in part-embarrassment, part-arousal.
Sephiroth took one of Cloud's hands, fingers curled around the bony wrist, thumb stroking over the point where Cloud's pulse fluttered beneath the skin. Lips granted a delicate kiss to the spot, and then Cloud's mind recoiled as a shock of pain tore through him, breath catching in a quiet half-cry.
Sephiroth was soothing him in an instant, the presence caressing his mind until he couldn't even feel the pain anymore, just a warm, dull ache. Kisses were pressed against the hurt, tongue lapping gently at torn skin. Reluctantly, Sephiroth drew away, and Cloud felt the wet warmth of blood welling up.
His wrist was twisted to face downwards, blood drizzling out in a steady stream as Sephiroth's fingers ran through it. He tried to listen to the part of his mind that was still his - that's right, blood; you felt pain and now you're bleeding; this isn't just a dream, you need to fight it - but it was too easy to let Sephiroth's voice win out.
It was better this way anyway. He didn't have to worry about not being strong enough, about being the pathetic one, the friendless one, the one who couldn't do anything right. He didn't have to do anything right. Sephiroth wanted him like this, still and silent and surrendered, so that was what Cloud wanted too. That was enough, and the presence hummed approvingly in his mind.
His injured wrist was placed gently to one side, and Sephiroth's fingers began to move against his body again, lower than before, searching past the hard flesh between his legs. They felt different now, slick and somehow warmer, but the thought fled Cloud's mind as they found what they had been looking for and the first finger slid inside him.
Cloud's head fell limply to one side, mouth open in a soundless gasp. It stung, just a little, but the slickness eased the way, and then Sephiroth touched something that had his mind blanking with pleasure.
He had no idea it was possible to feel like this. The discomfort meant nothing, the brief stretch and accompanying pain as the second and then third fingers were added soon washed away beneath a tide of pure sensation.
It should have felt wrong, alien, having something inside him in places that things weren't supposed to go. It only felt good. He wasn't sure if that was Sephiroth's doing or not - his presence was still there, murmuring quietly, encouragingly, helping him forget the small pangs of pain when his body was stretched open in ways he had never imagined. He was sure that he didn't want it to stop.
Cloud groaned in protest when Sephiroth's fingers slid out of him. He didn't care about right or wrong, pain or pleasure, dream or reality. His mind was too far gone for that. He just needed more.
Sephiroth lifted Cloud's wrist again, guiding it, and Cloud felt blood trickle across his skin from where it had pooled, dribbling down to the palm of his hand. Fingers collided with hard flesh. It must have been Sephiroth's presence that was directing him then - his own mind too sluggish for thought, only half-awake and still hazed from pleasure - but somehow he manged to curl his fingers around, gripping and stroking as Sephiroth had done before.
His eyes flickered open in belated surprise as he finally registered the fact that it wasn't himself he was touching.
Sephiroth was staring back at him, eyes alight with hunger, a small smirk on his lips as Cloud's eyes widened in return. Heat had begun to gather on his cheekbones, staining the otherwise deathly-pale skin, and Sephiroth seemed to purr in Cloud's mind as his hand found a hesitant rhythm.
It seemed too soon that Cloud's hand was tugged away again, held aloft in full view. Cloud could only stare as Sephiroth's tongue darted out, tracing the lines of his palm and up each of his fingers, licking up the mess of blood and precome that had gathered. He caught a brief glimpse of something unnatural against the red of Sephiroth's mouth - fangs, teeth pointed with a deadly sharpness, the weapons of a predator. And he was the prey.
He should have been afraid. He had been afraid before, when he had felt those sharp points prick against his throat. But now he only shivered in anticipation, neglected cock twitching as his eyes fluttered shut again.
Sephiroth was stroking him again, fingers running gently down his sides, relaxing the muscles that had tensed instinctively at the touch of something too big not meant to go there at his entrance. And then Sephiroth was pushing past his body's resistance, slowly entering him, splitting him open all over again.
Cloud wanted to cry out as pain and pleasure burnt white-hot through his nerves, but still his voice wouldn't obey him. All he could do was moan, the sound barely even audible.
Sephiroth's control was beginning to slip, Cloud could feel it. The presence in his mind wasn't so strong anymore, the stranglehold on his thoughts and body not as unbearable. Maybe even enough for him to fight back, had the idea ever occurred to him. It never did. All Cloud knew was Sephiroth, surrounding him, moving against him, inside him. There was no room for anything else.
That mouth met his neck again, lips and tongue and teeth working against flesh in a messy approximation of a kiss. Cloud tilted his head back.
Pain lanced through him as Sephiroth pierced his throat, the presence in his mind no longer there enough to hush it away. He didn't mind. He liked it. The pain only made it feel more real, and god, this had to be real.
He wrapped his arms around Sephiroth, having regained enough control of his body to do that much at least, fingers clutching desperately at silver hair as he searched for something, anything, to hold on to. It was too much, too new and too good.
Sephiroth's lips moved against Cloud's throat, not gentle anymore. Fingers twined roughly into blond hair, tugging Cloud's head back further so Sephiroth could press his mouth harder against the open wound, suckling hard. His movements quickened, slow, deep thrusts changing into something faster, harder, less controlled but just as deep, and Cloud cried out.
He was being devoured, greedily, mercilessly, but he couldn't find it in him to care.
Every movement Sephiroth made had him writhing, head tossing side to side as he gasped in heavy breaths, heat and pleasure washing through him. He knew there was no way he could hold himself back, not like this.
Cloud arched up, tensing as his body found its release. Blood pounded in his ears and Sephiroth pounded into his ass as he trembled, mouth and eyes wide open as he cried out silently.
Everything was too still, too quiet when his senses returned to him. Sephiroth was still inside him, soft and unmoving now, while his tongue lapped gently at Cloud's throat. He hummed something soft as Sephiroth slid out from him, revelling in the warmth and dull ache left behind. Lips kissed his abused neck, apologetically, almost, then moved higher to press a final chaste kiss to the corner of Cloud's mouth. He tasted of copper, the salt tang of blood, and Cloud smiled distantly. It didn't taste so bad.
But then Sephiroth moved away, sparing nothing more for the little blond boy. Cloud's brow furrowed at that, mind slowly stirring as the cold brought him back to himself. It didn't seem right, that Sephiroth leave after everything they'd just done... and oh, god, what had they done?
He tried to force his eyes open, to look for Sephiroth, pull him back. It didn't feel like sin, like shame, when he was there. But Cloud couldn't move, his eyes sliding shut again, everything too heavy. Too heavy, but too light at the same time, now that Sephiroth's weight had lifted off him.
He was too exhausted to think about it now, to even try and pull the blankets over himself. Dazed and weak and tired, so very tired, body aching hollowly from its use. He would look for Sephiroth again in the morning, then. When he woke up...
Cloud stopped fighting, surrendering his body to the darkness as he slipped into unconsciousness.