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A Dummy's Guide on How to Show Gratitude

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Attempt 1

Sephiroth gazed at the kitchen in some level of wariness.

Both Cloud and his woman were out. They likely did not know he was here right now, which was all for the better, all considering. 

Cloud had made him quite a few meals from this kitchen. Meals that he could taste and that he actually wanted to consume. It was strange. Like magic. Somehow, coming from Cloud, the flavors were there and pleasant.

Perhaps it would be beneficial to test if this strange bond ran the other way?

Sephiroth eyed the sack of potatoes and then walked to the refrigerator to open it. It had been so long since he had cooked anything… Sephiroth wasn’t sure if he even remembered how to cook. He couldn’t even remember how his own cooking tasted.

He wasn’t going to shift into his adult form in Cloud’s home. Cloud was far more guarded around his adult form than his child form. It would not do for Cloud to try to attack him.

Especially since he was trying to do something for the other.

Butter, potatoes, flour… Sephiroth glanced over at the top shelf, floating towards it and picking up the book that was lying there. It was dusty and probably hadn’t been touched in many, many years, but it was clearly a recipe book.

Slowly, he leafed through the book and read through each recipe, trailing a finger down the ingredient list to see if he had everything.

Surely, it could not be terribly difficult to follow the instructions…?

 

Sephiroth stared at the pot of beef stew in front of himself.

It was precisely made, bubbling wonderfully, smooth and creamy with chunks of potato, carrot and beef, just like the recipe said. It was nearly identical to the faded picture. Sephiroth had followed the recipe without making any errors. 

He did not account for the fact that he could not taste his own cooking.

The moment the spoon hit his tongue and the consistency of warm yogurt hit his senses, he spat the contents into the sink, rinsing out his mouth. 

Sighing, Sephiroth turned off the burner, setting the salt and pepper shaker on the table before putting a kitchen towel down and placing the pot next to the shakers. He placed the lid on the pot, shaking his head.

It would be a waste to throw it away. But it wasn’t like Sephiroth could be proud of this. Better to leave it here for Cloud to adjust the seasoning herself.

He dropped the book on the table, leaving it open on the recipe and left, sulking.

-----------

“Thanks for making dinner. The beef stew was really good.”

Cloud blinked as he looked up from the paper in his hands. “Huh?”

Tifa raised an eyebrow at him. “The beef stew you left on the table? It just needed a dash of salt and pepper, but the flavor was great. I forgot we had a recipe for it in the book.”

Brow furrowing, Cloud glanced at the covered pot.

“We have a recipe for beef stew?” he asked blankly.

Judging by Tifa’s unamused look, apparently they did.


 

Attempt 2

From the roof, Sephiroth watched Cloud as he worked on his motorcycle.

This was something Cloud always did when he came back from his deliveries. Especially if they were deliveries that took Cloud far away from Edge. Maintenance seemed to be quite important and it was something Cloud never skipped.

Still, Sephiroth supposed he could understand that. Flying with his wing was far more convenient than driving, but Sephiroth still needed to stretch his wing out every now and then. He supposed that was kind of like maintenance? If Sephiroth pressed himself hard, he would wind up shedding more than a few feathers as they were ruffled out of place.

Not that he needed to adjust his wing, but it was always nice to fly without feeling the wind go against the grain of his feathers.

Cloud’s head turned towards someone that Sephiroth couldn’t see. Sephiroth saw Cloud stand, brushing dust off the knees of his pants and chatting before walking away from his motorcycle.

Seemingly, Cloud had left his bike half assembled as he was called away by someone. Sephiroth paused before slowly lowering himself onto the ground next to the bike, looking at it curiously. Much like Cloud’s blades, the motorcycle was also magnificent. Well constructed and suitable for someone like Cloud. 

Slowly, Sephiroth eyed the half open compartments that were disassembled and he frowned, unsure of what Cloud was actually doing with his bike. Sephiroth had no knowledge of motorcycles, after all.

Reaching over and picking up one of the many pieces that was on the ground, Sephiroth squinted at the dust that covered the sleek black metal.

Perhaps, Sephiroth could assist Cloud in…

Sephiroth slowly put the metal down as he eyed the motorcycle. Truthfully, he knew nothing about assembling bikes. But he had watched the other take it apart… so how difficult was it to put back together? 

His hands moved slowly, sliding each piece back into its proper place. It was like a puzzle, a game. Sephiroth may never have assembled a bike before, but this was kind of fun?

He had assembled most of the bike before he realized that he was missing pieces. Ah, this was a problem…

Pouting, he backed away from the bike and flew away from the incomplete project.

-----------

Cloud wondered if he was becoming more forgetful these days.

First the stew incident, and now the bike? He was sure he had disassembled it earlier, but the fact that his bike was now mostly assembled seemed to prove him differently. 

Maybe he was mixing up days or something. It wouldn’t have been the first time.


 

Attempt 3

Cloud liked to clean his blades before bed.

There was something methodical to how he did it too. Sometimes, Sephiroth would hide his presence just to watch Cloud’s hands move over the metal. Sometimes, Cloud would pause and sit up straight from his hunched position, his shoulders rolling back as he stretched. Sometimes, Cloud would look up at the stars from his skylight. Sometimes, Sephiroth could see those stars twinkling in Cloud’s eyes.

Sometimes, Sephiroth wondered if Cloud would ever look at him like that.

It was a fleeting thought, one that was banished with the reality that stood between them. The harsh truth that Sephiroth would probably break this illusion eventually, when he tired of playing this role.

Of course, that time was not now. So Sephiroth remained in his child form, watching Cloud polish his blades that would one day sink into his chest. 

If Sephiroth touched those blades, would he be able to see the moment they took his life? 

He wanted to know.

It was one of those nights that he rose before the dawn, slowly sliding off the warmth of Cloud’s chest and floating a few paces over to land on the floor in front of those blades. He reached over, tracing a finger over the metal, watching blood well up from the split skin.

As sharp as Cloud’s resolve, hm?

It didn’t hurt, but Sephiroth blinked as he realized that his blood was now staining the polished blades. He swallowed, pulling his hand back and glancing at the cloth Cloud had used in the evening to clean the metal.

He snagged it off Cloud’s table and wiped the blood off, erasing the evidence of the crimson liquid. It didn’t erase the fact that this blade had now tasted his flesh.

Sephiroth placed the rag on the table and looked at the blood on his finger. It was only a minor cut, a small annoyance, but somehow, it was significant. 

Actually, now that he looked, he hadn’t erased the evidence of his blood on the blade. He had smeared it a little. The rag was dry and had only soaked up some of the liquid.

A small murmur from the bed made Sephiroth hesitate and then vanish out the window, leaving behind the bloodstained rag. He was already out of sight before he wondered why he had fled. It wasn’t like Sephiroth had been doing something criminal or anything. And it wasn’t like Cloud had not touched Masamune before. Cloud had bled on Masamune before. It had never irritated Sephiroth before, but perhaps Cloud was different. Perhaps Cloud would care that his blade was stained with Sephiroth’s blood...

With that thought, Sephiroth turned back and looked at the rising sun.

Maybe he would clean up Cloud’s blades as an apology?

 

Whether Cloud noticed the small smudge of blood on his sword, Sephiroth didn’t know. But by the time Cloud fell asleep the next evening, the smudge was gone. Sephiroth blinked at the shining blade and then frowned, looking at the cloth in his hand. 

A sudden wave of irritation swept through him and he vanished out the window.

-----------

The fact that there was a rag on the floor next to his sword was a little weird. Especially since Cloud was sure that the cloth didn’t belong to him.

Which meant it could have only belonged to Sephiroth. And Sephiroth wasn’t here, which meant he had accidentally left it behind. It was the first time Sephiroth had ever displayed anything close to human behavior. Forgetting something this simple?

He sighed, cleaning the rag out and folding it neatly, placing it on his table for the child that would inevitably return.


 

Attempt 4

Cloud liked his friends.

Sephiroth did not like Cloud’s friends. 

At best, they were annoying. At worst, they were intrusive. Cloud was stronger than his friends and they took advantage of that, relying on the blond when it came down to battles and hard work. It vexed Sephiroth more than he could put into words, and not for any obvious reason too. Part of Sephiroth wanted to show Cloud that he could do so much better than the friends he had created.

The other part of Sephiroth saw the smile on Cloud’s face when he saw his friends. Sephiroth found himself immensely irked at that smile.

The smile that would never be his.

Once upon a time, Sephiroth would have drawn Masamune to cut down those people that soothed Cloud’s troubled heart. But he had long moved past the initial instinct of doing so. Instead, he simply watched the interaction Cloud had with his companions.

Sephiroth knew that Cloud wanted him to interact with his friends, even if he didn’t say so. The woman and the child were a given, considering Cloud lived with them, but Sephiroth didn’t want to talk to them. He didn’t particularly want to talk to any of Cloud’s friends. They were not people Sephiroth would have chosen to befriend, if Sephiroth was capable of such a thing to begin with.

Except… maybe…

Slowly lowering himself to the ground, Sephiroth looked at the girl who was watching him intently. Her gaze wasn’t loathsome. It wasn’t harsh or angry. Just a child’s gaze full of wonder.

Marlene. As she had introduced herself as.

“Daddy said you’re a bad person,” Marlene said, but her tone was not accusatory.

Sephiroth tilted his head. “Am I?”

“Did you do bad things?” Marlene asked.

“And if I did?” Sephiroth responded, raising an eyebrow.

Marlene smiled a little. “Then you should say sorry.”

It was such a simple thing. Such a child’s mindset. Such an innocent thought. Words meant nothing to the dead and no one knew this as clearly as Sephiroth.

Except… Cloud had…

“I don’t think I did bad things,” Sephiroth said. “Bad is relative. People have said your father is the bad guy too.”

Marlene didn’t quite understand, but Sephiroth didn’t mind. It was a child’s simplicity that allowed her to gaze at him without the fear or hatred, even if the innocence in her gaze greatly annoyed him.

“But you’re not going to do bad things anymore?” she asked.

“Who knows,” Sephiroth replied, extending his wing into a stretch. “I haven’t had the urge to do anything Cloud would consider ‘bad’ lately.”

Marlene smiled, her brown eyes shining. “I’m sorry Daddy was mean to you.”

Sephiroth glanced at her, blinking a little. Why was this little girl apologizing to him? For what her father did, nonetheless. Something about his expression seemed to register to Marlene because she elaborated.

“It’s not fair that Daddy tried to shoot you when you didn’t do anything,” she said.

Well, Sephiroth wouldn’t have quite put it that way, since he did do something but it wasn’t like Marlene knew about it. Nor did Sephiroth have any intention to tell her.

Still, she brought up a good point. Cloud had apologized for getting angry at him, even though Sephiroth didn’t really understand why. Sephiroth considered his own father and then looked at Marlene, wondering if...

Even though Sephiroth didn’t understand, both Cloud and Marlene felt the need to apologize. Marlene for someone else and Cloud for himself. Apologies appeared to be important to Cloud. So… maybe…?

 

“I’m sorry my father hurt you.”

The words came out awkwardly, but Sephiroth didn’t understand the point of this apology anyway. It was something he wanted to try, something he wanted to say to see if it would spark some kind of reaction from Cloud. 

He did not expect Cloud to throw a mug at him, the ceramic missing him completely and shattering against the wooden wall on impact. Shards of the mug showered the floor of Cloud’s room and Sephiroth flinched, vanishing out the window.

Well, that was unpleasant.


 

Attempt 5

Sephiroth moodily looked at Cloud’s woman as she worked at the bar, the patrons loud and boisterous. 

He had not gone back to Cloud since his apparent screw up with the disastrous apology. Not that Sephiroth really knew why he had been apologizing in the first place. It wasn’t like Sephiroth had suggested to Hojo to experiment on Cloud, after all.

Cloud had remained silent towards him as well. He had not come to seek him out or speak to him since the mug throwing incident and Sephiroth had avoided him, not knowing what to say. It was an uncomfortable limbo, but Sephiroth didn’t know how to break it.

It was almost like back when Cloud’s woman had confronted him. Sephiroth would never call this ‘running away’, but it sure felt like it.

Sephiroth wasn’t good with words though. Words were largely unnecessary, since most of the people who approached him ended up dying on his blade.

Of course, this was before Cloud had appeared.

Still, Sephiroth spoke more often with his blade than with his words. With Cloud, their battles were far more communicative than their words had ever been. 

Oh well. It was done now and Sephiroth had already made the other mad. No sense in denying it or trying to cover it up.

If Sephiroth was someone who knew what to say, then perhaps he would approach Cloud’s woman for guidance. But Sephiroth wasn’t that kind of person, nor did he really understand what he did wrong. 

Even when Sephiroth cut down the beasts in Cloud’s next battle a few days later, the blond avoided his eye. That was fine though--Sephiroth didn’t need Cloud’s attention.

He was missing the warmth at night though.

In an effort to replicate the warmth, Sephiroth curled into a ball, wrapping his wing around himself as he watched the stars in the sky each night. It didn’t help that much. It didn’t provide the companionship that Sephiroth was now used to. 

It took about a week for Sephiroth’s mood to shift to anger.

The next time the beasts approached Edge, Sephiroth viciously sent a firestorm at the group, incinerating them with a flick of his wrist, Masamune flashing in the afternoon sun. He vanished before Cloud even arrived, still very much pissed off, though he couldn’t identify why he was feeling that way. 

Perhaps it was because Cloud was purposefully ignoring him. Perhaps he was missing the warmth each night. Perhaps it was due to his own confusion as to why his words had such a negative effect. Sephiroth didn’t know, nor did he care at this point.

He shed his child self and stalked off towards the grasslands, knowing that he had done something wrong but not knowing how to fix this. Another apology wouldn’t do much, considering the first was the one to break their peace.

Slowly, Sephiroth found himself missing the meals Cloud would prepare for him. He found himself longing for the companionship that Cloud provided. Longing for the only one who understood him.

Stepping into the familiar bedroom, Sephiroth slowly sat on the bed. The sun was still high in the sky. Sephiroth didn’t even know if Cloud would come back here tonight, but being here was a reminder that Cloud had somewhere to come back to.

Unlike himself.

Well, perhaps that wasn’t quite accurate. Sephiroth slowly morphed back into his child self, stretching out his wing. Perhaps it was home to his child self. There was no question that Cloud did not like his adult form despite the pledge to try. Cloud never diverted his gaze from him when he appeared as an adult. 

It was with some level of pleasure that Cloud understood his strength, but it was also a little irritating. In his adult form, when Sephiroth would press his face against Cloud’s chest to listen to his heartbeat, he could feel every muscle in Cloud’s body tense and his heart rate speed up. It took a considerable amount of effort to lull the other to sleep. This, combined with the fact that Cloud’s bed was too small to fit his adult form comfortably, made Sephiroth revert back to his child form in the middle of the night. 

Sephiroth curled under his wing on the bed, breathing in the familiar scent and closing his eyes. 

 

A hand landed on his wing, making Sephiroth jerk and snap his arm up to grip the wrist tightly. His vision swam with sleep, exhaustion making him cross and snappish at the individual who dared to touch him while he rested.

Blue eyes and spiky blond hair came into focus and Sephiroth slowly released the wrist in his hand, a frown on his face.

“Sephiroth?” Cloud spoke softly, placing his hand on his wing again. Sephiroth could feel the warmth on each feather. “Are you… alright?”

Sephiroth blinked slowly, the shock of being woken still disorienting.

“Fine,” he replied finally, sitting up and glancing at the night sky outside Cloud’s window. “I was just tired.”

He didn’t miss the fact that Cloud had somehow come in, changed clothes, perhaps even bathed, without Sephiroth waking. That level of unawareness made Sephiroth wary; it meant that he had dropped his guard down more than he had anticipated. But he didn’t address or act on it, instead moving aside to allow Cloud to crawl into bed. His eyes lingered on the faint mark on Cloud’s wrist, where he had gripped the other. It likely wouldn’t bruise or linger, judging by Cloud’s healing ability. 

Sephiroth plopped himself on top of the man, blinking up at him, pressing his cheek against the other’s chest. He stayed like that for a few seconds, until Cloud’s eyes met his. 

“Please don’t mention your father again,” Cloud said.

Tilting his head, Sephiroth frowned. “It was just something I wanted to try,” he admitted.

“Well, don’t.” Cloud’s tone was firm and Sephiroth fell silent at it. He slowly turned his head to the side, feeling Cloud’s hand brush up against his wing and caress the appendage. 

Sephiroth swallowed and, even as Cloud drifted off to sleep, he didn’t know how to formulate the apology that was on the tip of his tongue.


 

And + 1

Denzel was practicing with a wooden sword when Sephiroth flew over the house. Sephiroth paused for a few seconds, watching the child swing the bokken, his form sloppy and unrefined. It irritated him more than he could put into words.

“Spread your legs out a little more so you don’t lose your balance when you swing,” Sephiroth found himself saying before he could stop himself.

Denzel’s eyes widened and his eyes flew up to look at him in the sky and Sephiroth sighed, resigning himself to this. Slowly, he floated down and landed on the dirt next to the child, stepping up in front of him and flicking the wooden blade.

“This isn’t Cloud’s sword and you don’t have enhancements to compensate for your stance,” Sephiroth said. “Before you try performing any tricks, master the basics. It might seem dull and repetitive, but it will serve you well when you need something to fall back on.”

“Is that how you learned too, Sephiroth?”

Hearing his name from the child’s mouth made Sephiroth wrinkle his nose, but he replied anyway. “I was thrown into battle at a young age. To be honest, I do not recall ever training in the same way you are, though I must have at some point.”

The child blinked at him and spoke again. “How old were you?”

“I cannot recall. The first clear memory I possess is of a spray of blood from a monster of some kind splattering over my face and hair,” Sephiroth responded. “I do not remember what kind of monster it was. Only that it was tough to take down in the labs.”

“Labs?”

Sephiroth’s lips pursed and he shifted Denzel’s hands on the handle of the bokken. “Enough of that. Hold your stance and practice.”

Denzel looked about to speak, but Sephiroth’s frown and stare was enough to get the child to close his mouth and bring his arms up, swinging the blade.

 

It was sometime in the afternoon when Sephiroth noticed the scent of flowers. He was in Cloud’s bedroom, having just finished polishing Masamune, when he noted the sound of footsteps approaching. He quickly vanished his sword and stood, sitting on the bed. It was much too early for Cloud to have come back from his deliveries, which left the woman or the child.

Sephiroth didn’t even flinch at the knock at the door, but he also didn’t respond. Instead, he waited patiently until the door opened and revealed the visitor.

“So you are here,” Tifa said, a frown on her face.

“Surely you knew that,” Sephiroth answered. “Cloud doesn’t return until late and his door would be open otherwise.”

The woman had a cup of tea in her hands. It smelled of some kind of flower, although Sephiroth was certain it would just taste like water on his tongue. He glanced at it and then met her eyes again.

“State your business and begone,” he said, his tone flat.

Tifa set the cup down on Cloud’s table, brushing his papers aside. “I made some tea for you. I saw you training Denzel this morning,” she said.

A frown crossed his face. “I believe I have mentioned that your food is bland and tasteless,” he commented, his green eyes narrowing on her rusty brown. “I have no interest in anything you offer.”

She didn’t back down though. Instead, she pulled the chair out and sat on it, looking at him carefully. “Denzel told me what you said to him.”

Sephiroth didn’t understand where this was going, so he remained silent and watched her carefully. He may not have the intention of harming her right this second, but that could change depending on what she said to him. Their last talk hadn’t been exactly pleasant, after all.

“You really can’t remember what you were like as a child?” Tifa asked quietly.

A bitter smile crossed Sephiroth’s lips. So this was the line of questioning she was concerned about.

“Shinra didn’t want a child. They wanted a weapon. Hojo wanted me to exceed every other project he had set forth, so he made me. No one wanted a child,” Sephiroth responded. “Not Shinra. Not Hojo. Not SOLDIER. They sent me to war against Wutai, as I’m sure you know of. Then I became a piece of propaganda for them to recruit SOLDIERs.”

Tifa regarded him. Perhaps she was feeling pity for him. Not that Sephiroth cared for her pity and if she displayed it, it would probably set him off.

“It was all you knew.”

“I am capable of cleaving you in two where you sit, woman,” Sephiroth warned, his eyes narrowing. Her words weren’t quite pity, but it was teetering on the borderline. “I am still your enemy. I am still Cloud’s enemy. I may have allowed this moment of respite, but that is all it is. A moment. Once this is over and done, I will show no mercy.”

Her rusty brown eyes hardened into steel. That was fine; Sephiroth preferred it this way anyway. It would not do for them to forget who he was and what he was capable of. But then, unexpectedly, her eyes softened and she gazed at him closely.

“You don’t have to be our enemy,” Tifa said quietly.

Sephiroth leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees and his chin on his hands. “If I impaled that child downstairs and disemboweled him, then you wouldn’t say that so nonchalantly.”

Curiously, her expression didn’t change. “Aren’t you tired of fighting?”

That was an insult if Sephiroth ever heard one. His eyes narrowed and he resisted the urge to draw Masamune. “Surely you did not come to pander to my non-existent goodness. If you dare to imply that I am anything other than humanity’s enemy, then I shall have to remind you as to who I really am.”

“That’s not--” the woman cut herself off and sighed, running a hand through her dark brown hair. “Listen, okay? I’m not saying you’re a good person or that I’m trying to understand you in any way. Honestly, I don’t care to understand you or your motives. I just want some sign or agreement that you won’t try to kill Cloud in his sleep or something.”

That was pretty ironic, since Sephiroth had considered that very thing. 

“You have my word I will not kill Cloud in his sleep,” Sephiroth intoned. “I cannot say the same for any of you, however.”

She glared at him, but seemed to accept this fact. “Cloud will stop you.”

“Cloud can’t stop me.”

It was clear that she didn’t believe those words, even as she stood and scowled at him.

“He killed you,” Tifa said defiantly.

“That is an inevitable turn in our fate,” Sephiroth agreed. “But I will return. And the cycle will begin again.” He stretched out his wing and slowly tilted his head towards the cup. “This is a temporary reprieve from the cycle, but the wheels of fate are merciless. Time will push us to be enemies.” He slowly fell silent as he considered his options.

Or, perhaps, Cloud would defy fate once more and…

Tifa slowly blinked at him. “Do you want to die by his blade?”

“There is no other option,” Sephiroth answered. “None other can defeat me. And he is the one who holds that power. Even if you were to pierce my heart and tear it from my chest, I doubt I’ll die from that.” He slowly bundled himself behind his wing and sighed deeply. “Cloud will defeat me. That is a fact. I will not allow him to die. That is also a fact.” He waved a hand at her. “I tire of this conversation. Leave me.”

The woman looked like she was going to protest, but then slowly nodded, watching Sephiroth stare at her. She turned on her heel and left.

 

The sky was splashed with navy blue, streaked with a fiery red brush. From here, Sephiroth could faintly see the stars that had begun to reveal themselves in the night sky. The sound of Cloud’s motorbike signaled his return from his latest delivery, but Sephiroth didn’t go meet him like the woman and the child. He didn’t have the ambition or patience to play the part of the child he appeared to be.

It was quite late when Cloud returned to his bedroom, having finished dinner and bidding his companions a good evening. Sephiroth knew this, just as he knew that he would not be welcome among them. 

Cloud must have seen him peering out the window at the stars.

“What’s it like out there?” he asked softly, removing his gloves and sword harness.

“Cold,” Sephiroth answered, just as soft. “Cold and lonely. There is nothing out there but the cosmos as company. Life as you know it is only a series of chemical reactions and so the stars breathe life. But it’s cold.” He gave a faint smile to the other in the darkness, knowing that Cloud would be able to see it. “It is nothing like the warmth of your embrace. Nothing like your acceptance.”

Cloud’s expression was calm. It made Sephiroth turn away from him slowly, looking back at the stars in the sky. 

“I would have thought the stars would have been quite hot, considering they are… well, stars,” Cloud said. 

“Goes to show what humans know about the cosmos,” Sephiroth sighed. 

“Is it better out there or on Gaia?” Cloud whispered. 

"There is nothing out there, but it's peaceful. It is lacking only one thing to make it perfect." Sephiroth pulled his knees up to the bed, wrapping his arms around his legs. 

"What is it missing?"

Wondering if Cloud was serious,  Sephiroth tilted his head. "You, of course," he replied bluntly, as this was obvious. "The only life on this planet that is worth saving." 

Cloud blinked at him and Sephiroth gave him a small smirk. 

“I think you’re giving me too much credit,” Cloud said, turning away from him.

“Am I?” Sephiroth asked. 

“There are people out there you can connect with, if you only try.”

“I can lower myself to be on their level, Cloud. But I will never truly be connected to them. I would be a single shining star in the sea of candles and burning long after the flames flickered out,” Sephiroth said. “Long after this planet dies.”

There was a silence as Cloud studied him and then he spoke the words that Sephiroth dreaded.

“Long after I die.”

A shock to Sephiroth’s senses. The reality that time was unforgivable and this was all inevitable. But Sephiroth’s eyes hardened and he looked at the man who was his enemy and his greatest weakness.

“Not you. If that means I need to destroy the world to remake it… if that means I succumb to you in the next cycle… then that is what I will do. I will spare nothing to keep you alive. If that means I must devote myself to you, then so be it.”

The words echoed in the room slowly. The shock on Cloud’s face, mixed with his discomfort only made Sephiroth chuckle. As if Cloud hadn’t known this, even though this was the first time Sephiroth had acknowledged these words out loud. 

“I will become your blade,” he vowed quietly. “And you will show me… Show me the world you imagined. If I could have really been the one to change the world, or if the one who changes the world would remain as you. It’s always been you, Cloud.”

If there was anyone in this world that could defy fate, it would be Cloud. Sephiroth would do his part and duty to serve him, just for a chance to see the other crush destiny in the palm of his hand. Whether it was Cloud to change the world… or if the truth had been spoken by Cloud and the one to defy fate was Sephiroth… Well, only time would tell.