Someone is calling his name.
That is unusual.
So few know it, now, and fewer still would dare attempt to summon him.
The voice is... not unfamiliar, pitched high and sweet, and comes from somewhere below him, from a deceptively gentle white light that when irked has been known to flare into an inferno.
A mouse king has come to call.
...a mouse king has come to call, and there is a shadow strung through with starshine at his side.
There is the king, small and bright, and beside him is--
--that is a child.
That is a child, that is a child of sun and sea and sand and endless night, that is a child, not a broken half-mad thing rent in two but a child, staring back at him with eyes like and unlike his own, staring back at him with a gaze that sees beyond both darkness and light, that knows the truth of the World.
That is a child of Twilight, of encroaching night and silvered dawn, light and darkness intertwined, and he has never seen the like.
"Sephiroth," the king says, distantly, calm and clear, and he must have known, he must have suspected, otherwise why bring him here? A child, neither apprentice nor heir but a keybearer true-born, and oh, how many would rip their worlds asunder for the sake of such a prize?
"Sephiroth," the king says again, more lowly this time, a note of equal warmth and warning: a child already claimed, and yet here the mouse king and the boy stand before him, waiting.
Sephiroth blinks, glances down at the king, who inclines his head in turn. Who smiles, bright as a knife, shining. "This is Riku."
Names are unimportant; he's been Hero and Angel and Calamity's Child, and only the lost remain.
He wonders who named the child.
It doesn't matter.
They're not here, and the child is with the king, the child has chosen the king, chosen a guide of blinding light, someone to stand against the fools who would call him enemy for what he is, for what he has become.
How is such a thing possible? Children are of the light, always, until--
--grasping hands and the flash of steel, and his wings had broken free in a rush of down and blood and Hojo had been laughing--
"Child-victim?" he asks, too quickly, and watches as the boy's head snaps up, as those familiar-yet-not eyes widen before narrowing sharply.
"Child," the boy retorts immediately, low and sweetly-accented, then hesitates, pressing a hand to his chest. "Child," he mutters again, lower, as if to convince himself, and Sephiroth shakes off the memory of screaming, tilts his head and looks closer.
...a child with a prisoner in his heart, locked away behind sunlight and shadow. Who caged the one who did it, who trapped him in what he made; revenge and justice both against the one who dragged him into the darkness, the one who even now whispers poison into his heart--
"Child," he agrees, and feels his lips move, curving softly into an unfamiliar form.
The boy tilts his head, watches him in return, cool and assessing, while at his child's side, a mouse king awaits an answer to a question yet unspoken, still and serene.
Sephiroth thinks he might be smiling.