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When Cloud was a boy he once asked his mother what love was.

She had continued the wipe the blood off his face with a washcloth, eyes focussed on his split lip, on the cut above his eye, and when he’d started to become convinced she wouldn’t answer she’d sat back on her heels and said, “Love is like a hook in the heart.”

Sixteen years old with a borrowed sword held tight in hands shaking with rage, he thought he might understand.

He didn’t know what he thought he could do against Sephiroth when Zack had tried and failed but he had to at least try. He wanted to run, to scream, to demand answers, but he wasn’t a SOLDIER like Zack, he couldn’t afford to give any warning –

Maybe Sephiroth heard his breathing or caught his scent – he smelt pretty strongly of smoke, even to his own unenhanced nose – or glimpsed his reflection in the glass as he came up behind him – it didn’t matter, it was all over in a moment. Sephiroth turned, faster than he could comprehend, almost faster than he could see, tore the Buster Sword from his hands in one easy, effortless move and flung it aside. Sephiroth said that hook, stuck in that stupid little awestruck place inside Cloud that just couldn’t accept what Sephiroth had done to his home, even as he watched him do it.

how could you – my mother, my hometown – why did you – I respected – admired – Sephiroth – Sephiroth…!

‘Like a hook in the heart,’ his mother said, and he’d frowned and said, ‘I won’t love like that, then,’ as if he had a choice.

Cloud,” Sephiroth said, almost a purr, a deep rumbling caress over the letters of his name. Cloud would have given anything, once, to hear his name like that.

He made a choked noise as Sephiroth pulled him up towards him with one hand, fingers scrabbling uselessly against the man – monster(God)’s hold as his free hand came up and tore the helmet from his head, casually tossing it aside.

Everything was wrong – Sephiroth’s unblinking eyes, the thing smiling in the glass tank behind him, and Sephiroth didn’t know his name, why would he, Cloud was just one faceless grunt in an army full of faceless grunts - he knew this was my hometown, how did he know that, why did he care -

“Cloud,” Sephiroth repeated, his voice gentled slightly, a pleased little hum that sank into Cloud and made him light-headed with shame that even with his hometown in ashes he still felt something like pride (pleasure/wonder/arousal) at hearing his name said that way, by that voice. “Why are you fighting me, Cloud?”

Gloved fingers slid through his hair, a parody of a caress, and he could almost feel underneath the real touch to his hair, something – some slick indefinable pressure inside his head.

“They hated you here,” Sephiroth said casually and Cloud sucked in a breath, blinking hard against old hurt and new humiliation – he knew, his hero, this man he so admired – used to admire (keep telling yourself that and maybe it’ll come true) – how did he know...?

“Nobody in this town cared whether you lived or died,” Sephiroth said, lips so close to his ear they brushed skin with every word. “Why should you care for them?”

“I care--” he started to say but Sephiroth shook him - nowhere near as hard as he could, Cloud knew, but still enough to make his feet kick desperately in mid-air, seeking solid ground to rest upon.

“You, who were so afraid, so ashamed to be seen you never removed your helmet, you would defend them?”

“I wasn’t-” Cloud tried to say, but that was a lie too far and he froze, taking shallow, shaky breaths as he felt the cold edge of the Masamune graze his neck.

“Shh,” Sephiroth said gently and Cloud felt his mouth clamp shut with something almost like instinct. Sephiroth, Sir, can’t/don’t want to displease (Master).

Cloud, like every boy his age, had wondered at the Masamune, shared stories heard from a friend of a friend about how sharp it was, how easily Sephiroth could kill even the largest, strongest, most dangerous of monsters with one careless-seeming strike. Pressed so lightly against his neck he could barely feel it, the sword was a different matter entirely. He found himself thinking just a little more pressure, and couldn’t work out if he was terrified or relieved or --

“Shh,” Sephiroth repeated, pulling him closer – so close, too close, this man, his body, oh gods – and the Masamune slid across his neck so gently he only realised it had cut him when Sephiroth took it away and pressed his open mouth to his throat, ran his tongue across suddenly damp skin.

Cloud might have said something – something like please or

no
(Sir)
stop

Only... only...

He’d worshipped this man, and now – now his world had narrowed down, become a gloved hand at his belt, the light scrape of teeth against his neck and the blood-slicked slide of lips down to the hollow of his throat.

“Such a good boy,” Sephiroth said, so pleased Cloud could feel it flooding his veins, and when had Cloud stopped struggling and started pressing towards him?

he killed them, all of them (you hated them and they despised you), he hurt Tifa (she never looked your way until you were about to leave)

"if I’m ever in trouble, my hero will come and save me. okay?"

Cloud lurched backwards and Sephiroth let him, watching him fall and licking at his blood, that’s my blood stained lips as he hit the ground awkwardly, momentarily driving the breath out of him.

“No,” he managed to choke out, struggling to speak, to breathe.

“No?” Sephiroth echoed, head tilted curiously to one side. “Why not?”

“You’ve taken everything –”

“Not everything,” Sephiroth corrected, and smiled. “The girl still lives. Didn’t you wonder why?”

His breath caught in his throat. He remembered vividly the truck ride to Nibelheim, the dragon’s cut-off scream as the Masamune slid through scales, flesh, muscle and bone, easy as blinking. And Tifa. Slender Tifa in her armour-less midriff baring top, lying on the stairs, cut open by that same blade and still breathing, still conscious, even...

“You see? Am I not a generous god to you?”

Cloud wanted to laugh; he really, really wanted to let the hysterical little giggle bubbling up inside him out because how could Sephiroth not get it?

“You’re not my god,” he said. Any more.

“Liar,” and Sephiroth was suddenly kneeling over him, hands catching at his wrists and dragging them above his head. The hum of machinery that filled the monstrous room seemed to change in pitch, almost... disapproving. Cloud thought suddenly, inexplicably, of the way his mother reacted whenever she caught him reading articles about SOLDIER (Sephiroth) when he should have been sleeping.

“Wasn’t this what you always wanted?” Sephiroth murmured, nuzzling his bloodied neck, and Cloud forgot everything he’d ever learned about how to escape an opponent and bucked instinctively to try and throw him off.

Sephiroth laughed, used his greater weight to hold him down and pressed closer and oh.

He knew he flushed bright red like some pathetic child but he couldn’t help it, it was just – it was Sephiroth, and he was hard against him (because of him) and everything was so confusing, just how had he ended up like this –

He flinched as he felt his own belt being used to tie his wrists together, squirmed as his legs were parted by a leather clad knee and one of those long-fingered hands he’d once cast shy glances at slipped beneath his waistband to cup him gently.

He opened his mouth wordlessly, brain stuck somewhere between confusion and (wonder) horror, and Sephiroth smiled above him, wrapped his fingers around him and stroked -

“Good,” Sephiroth praised when he gasped and arched up, hardening in his hand.

He tried to remember the heat of the fire, the sight of the bodies, bring back the anger and pain and betrayal... but when he tried he found himself thinking that none of the flames touched him, that his clearest memories of a lot of those bloodstained faces were of them sneering at him and turning away, and the sight of Sephiroth’s face had always made his heart skip a beat in a chest tight with awe and wonder.

back then, whether awake or asleep, I thought about Sephiroth all the time...

Sephiroth made a satisfied noise as if he’d heard the thought; his hand twisted in a way that wrenched a blissful moan from Cloud’s throat.

“That’s it,” he said and began deftly removing the smoke-stained trooper uniform piece by piece - and sometimes in pieces – faster, Cloud was sure, than he had ever managed to put it on, even with a surprise inspection and a commander screaming at him to hurry the fuck up.

He jerked as fingers slick with precome entered him, rough and invasive, twisting, stretching, pressing -

“Just like that,” Sephiroth said when he shuddered and moaned, lowering his mouth to Cloud’s neck and worrying open the shallow still-bleeding cut with his tongue, the stinging pain nothing to the pleasure being coaxed from him by the steady movement of the hand on his cock and the fingers inside him.

He wanted to fight – no, he wanted to feel like he wanted to fight, useless though any attempt would be. He wanted to at least feel humiliated and wronged the way he should, but... Sephiroth was so... pleased with him, eyes glittering with satisfaction when he spread his legs without prompting, when his head fell back to give better access to his neck. He couldn’t fight that, didn’t know how – the idea that someone could be pleased with him, happy at his actions was so extraordinary he had no idea how to react, and that it was Sephiroth just made it all the more impossible, too many years of hero worship turning him into willing clay beneath those hands.

“Such an obedient puppet,” Sephiroth murmured. “How well you respond to your master’s touch.” He rocked against him, bit lightly at his collarbone and moved the fingers inside him just so and Cloud didn’t see stars but his vision blurred for one long stretched out moment.

He couldn’t help but choke out “please,” voice cracking.

“Please?”

He pressed his lips tightly shut to keep a whine from escaping when Sephiroth pulled away and manoeuvred him onto his knees. He couldn’t use his hands to support himself, had to sink forward on his forearms to keep from falling on his face and felt ridiculously like he was offering himself up to the man behind him. (...wasn’t that exactly what he was doing?)

“Tell me,” Sephiroth said, teeth scraping the nape of his neck, a warning. “I’ll give you what you want. All I ask is that you beg.”

“...pl-please...”

There were hands tight on his hips, holding him still, and the unmistakable feel of Sephiroth pressing against him, a confused sensation of leather and flesh.

“Louder. Loud enough for our little mountain guide sprawled on the stairs to hear. Loud enough for the gods that rule this place to know your faith is given to another.”

(Loud enough for Odin in His hall, Hel in Her kingdom.)

awake, asleep... it was always Sephiroth...

“Please...!”

A slow deliberate roll of the hips, a reminder of what was to come, and a kiss pressed between his shoulder blades, a reward.

“Please what?”

“F-Fuck-- fuck me, please fuck – ah!”

“Was that so difficult?”

Pressing against became pressing into and Cloud bent his head and sank his teeth into the belt around his wrists to keep from screaming when the steady inexorable pressure won and Sephiroth began to push his way inside him, forced his body to yield, to open, to let him in.

A hand fisted in his hair, forced his head up, away from his self-imposed gag, and Sephiroth was murmuring things in his ear, things like 'so tight' and 'beautiful' and 'so good, you’re so good, Cloud, scream for me', his voice barely affected at all as he slid inch by torturous inch inside.

It hurt, like Cloud had never imagined – because he’d never dared to imagine this at all, Sephiroth’s hands on him, body curved over him, buried inside him –

But it was Sephiroth kissing the side of his neck and smearing the drying blood, Sephiroth making short shallow movements within him, Sephiroth’s hand reaching between his legs and stroking him back to full hardness, and that he’d never imagined (never hoped) didn’t mean he’d never wanted.

The other boys in Midgar had joked and teased as if it was something obvious, nothing to worry about – as if everyone looked at Sephiroth with hooks in their hearts, hooks that would somehow, one day, drop away as if that was how it worked. (Maybe that was how it worked, for them.) Cloud had quietly buried his ridiculous crush – that’s all it was, hero worship, admiration – because the very thought so bluntly stated became absurd, because he wasn’t like them, wouldn’t let himself be like them. They could laugh around the need and he never could.

Was that how he had ended up here?

“Belief is what makes a God,” Sephiroth murmured in his ear, and the sudden fierce movement of his hips drove Cloud forward, tied hands scrabbling awkwardly against the cold metal floor, mouth open and panting.

He struggled to hold his position – preferable to the alternatives, uncomfortable as it was – pushed back desperately with what little traction he could find. Sephiroth made a low noise of approval and the (pleasure-satisfaction-enjoyment) raced through him, a brand against every nerve. The Great Sephiroth was pleased with him and that was almost as satisfying as the steady rhythm adopted, the fingers digging hard into his flesh, the kiss pressed to his gasping mouth, the sensation of claiming (need-want and mine mine mine).

He knew Sephiroth was saying something, but the words seemed far away and unimportant; everything outside of the joining of their bodies seemed unimportant, even the distinct impression of (disinterest/puzzlement/distaste) from the thing Sephiroth called ‘Mother’.

He could feel Sephiroth’s hair sticking to his sweat-dampened skin, feel the ache in his knees and forearms, the pressure of the hands on his waist, his entire body rocking with every thrust that stretched him, filled him, (completed him) and Sephiroth could have been reciting company policy for all he knew or cared.

ah, Sephiroth, sir, master

“Your devotion, my little shadow,”

(God)

“– is the means by which I am enthroned.”

Cloud struggled to open his eyes – when had he closed them? – to crane his head and look – something in that voice, he’d understand if he could just see – but between one second and the next it no longer felt important, all that mattered was the need for more and harder and deeper.

His vision blurred and he imagined for a second that he could see Tifa, watching with wide, horrified eyes, her blood-soaked clothes a condemnation. Shame filled him, thick and cloying, so heavy he could choke, and Sephiroth paused in his movements as if sensing his distraction. Cloud felt him adjust his angle slightly and the next thrust reduced him to incoherent begging. Any thought of Tifa, of anything that wasn’t Sephiroth, splintered and fell away.

“My puppet,” Sephiroth breathed in his ear, firm, inescapable truth, and Cloud moaned his agreement as best he could around the pleasure swamping him.

“So long as I have you I can never die.”

?

That was important somehow, Cloud didn't know how but it was, it was key to something... something...

He couldn't think, could barely breathe. Warmth was simmering in the pit of his stomach, strengthened by every stroke of Sephiroth’s hand over him, every movement he made in and out of him and it was too much--

He might have been screaming as he came, as Sephiroth sank his teeth into his shoulder hard enough to draw blood, rhythm faltering into short, quick, so deep thrusts, and the background hum of (Jenova, Mother) rose to a pulsing thrum of (understanding - genetic transfer - Union/Reunion).

Time blurred and the next thing Cloud was aware of was the sensation of come dripping down his thighs as Sephiroth pulled him up, forced him to stand. He swayed on his feet, turning blindly to Sephiroth when told.

Love is like a hook in the heart, Cloud. I hope you never understand.

"Mine," Sephiroth said and his mother's voice crumbled and blew away like ash.