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Beloved, Chapter 1

Title: Beloved

Rating: M, violence, language, slash.

Summary: FFVII, post DoC.  Genesis/Cloud, one-sided Tifa/Cloud.  It all starts when Cloud tries to leave during the middle of a Loveless performance.

Warnings:   It occurs to me that I completely forgot to put in warnings with the prologue, and there are probably things I need to warn about other than bad writing habits.  So here they are:

Warnings for - Language, pretty much whenever Cid or Reno turn up.  Also violence, and death, probably about the same level there was in Fifth Act.  And yeah, slash, or yaoi, or whatever fandom is calling it these days, it's kind of self-evident in the pairings.  Some passing het too!  Equal opportunity warnings.  Okay that should be it I think.  Unless I suddenly go crazy while writing the last few chapters.  I guess it would warrant an M rating overall, but probably not R18.


Author’s Note:  Okay let's get this ball rolling!  And thanks to Little House in the Woods for her beta services!


Prologue




________________

Beloved

Chapter 1


________________




Fenrir growled to a halt, the hiss and click of the cooling engine lingering in his ears as he stared out over Midgar's ruins.  A flash of movement caught his eye, but when he turned to look, it was only a stray guard hound nosing through the garbage.


His pocket buzzed.  After a moment of deliberation, Cloud fished out his phone.

 

“Cloud.”  Reeve’s voice crackled through the speaker. “Have you found anything yet?”

 

"...Nothing. You?"

 

“Vincent just called in.  He tracked down another witness.”  Cloud waited.  Reeve, eventually realising he wasn’t going to get a response, extrapolated, “A daylight sighting, this time. We’ve got a description.  About six feet tall, mako eyes, white hair.”

 

He should have been worried, but all he could summon was disappointment.  “Just another clone, then.” 

 

The hound’s ears perked up – it had caught a scent.  It crouched, pawing at a pile of crumpled papers.

 

"Or a Tsviet. Rufus has the Turks covering the eastern side.  We can’t let it be, either way."

 

He couldn't argue with that. The Tsviets had done a lot of damage.  Kadaj, too. But he had a hard time believing there were any clones left.

 

Reeve must have read into his silence.  “It doesn’t mean there’s going to be another Sephiroth.

 

He watched, idle, as the hound finally ferreted out his prey.  A tiny mandragora scuttled into the sunlight, startled from its nest of junk.  The hound snapped it up, crushing the squirming body between its jaws in one bite.  The sibilant shriek of pain carried on the wind.  “I know.  But have to keep looking, right?”

 

“Right.”  Reeve waited a beat, but when he didn’t receive any further comment, continued, “Do you want me to call Tifa and let her know you’ll be back late?”   

“Yeah.  Thanks.”  It would save him having to do it.

 

“Ok.  Call for backup if-”

 

Cloud hung up.

 

…Not the man from the theatre, after all.

 

He frowned, and hit the release on the sword compartments.  They sprung open with a heavy thunk, and he withdrew three of the blades.  It had been stupid to come out here expecting to find something in the first place - on nothing more than the rumour of a man with glowing eyes roaming Midgar’s ruins.  Spotted at night, it could have easily been a monster.

 

Leaving Fenrir behind, he slid down an embankment of cracked concrete.  Midgar's remains had only become more dangerous over the past year. Structures caved in regularly and without warning, and the spectre of Geostigma and mako contamination kept sensible people away.  Monsters made their nests in the broken shells of buildings and most roads were impassable on anything but foot. Only the bravest of scavengers entered the inner districts now, and they usually regretted it.

 

Cloud didn't have the same concerns.  Fenrir was built to handle even the roughest surfaces, and anything it couldn’t traverse provided little barrier to enhancements that let him cut through walls or leap from rooftop to rooftop.  He didn’t have to worry about a little mako in the air, either, considering how high his tolerance had been pushed.  And the monsters that had moved in were sport compared to what lived in the Northern Crater.

 

The same logic, he reasoned, applied to any SOLDIER.  Which was why he’d spent the past two weeks poking through wreckage, under the guise of helping Reeve track down a suspected rogue clone.  Which now turned out to be a false lead.

 

What had he been hoping for, anyway?  What had he expected to find?  What was he doing here?

 

Cloud strode through the rubble with a sure step – the rough concourses of shattered concrete weren’t that different to some of Nibelheim’s more treacherous mountain paths.  A cool breeze peppered his face with grit, prompting him to fetch his sunglasses from his pocket and settle them on his nose.  An eerie silence blanketed his surroundings.  The local monsters had all skulked back to their nests.  Not even the ever-present copses of razor weed scurried out of his path.

 

Something had frightened them all off before he’d arrived.

 

A glimpse of movement to the west caught his attention.  Cloud tensed, reaching for his sword.  He might not have noticed it if he hadn’t put on his sunglasses.  As it was, the distant figure darting through the ruins was almost lost in the glare of sunlight reflecting off the wide expanse of twisted metal.  The white hair blended in too well.

 

For a moment, disbelief reigned supreme.  Just when he’d decided this was a waste of time, he’d wound up stumbling across Reeve’s rogue clone anyway.

 

His fingers slipped from First Tsurugi’s hilt.  The man in question – it was unmistakeably a man, he wore nothing but a pair of loose grey pants – hadn’t noticed him yet, too enraptured by whatever had caught his attention at the bottom of the nearest crater. 

 

Cloud frowned, vision flickering with the image of a slender clone with a katana, falling from the sky.  This was where he’d fought Kadaj.  When he hadn’t been paying attention, his feet had brought him to yet another landmark drenched with heavy memories.

 

He shook the recollection off with practiced ease, and leapt down from his vantage point.  His landing barely stirred the air – it wouldn’t do to alert the target.  Although if he were a clone, their shared connection should have been all the warning necessary.  He could sense something off, but it was so faint, so diffuse, it was hard to pin down whether it was resonance with S-cells or just nervous tension.

 

A pebble skittered across the ground behind him.

 

Cloud spun on his heel, and whipped First Tsurugi from its holster. 

 

The clash of metal rang out across the desolate landscape like a tolling bell.  Cloud cursed under his breath as he saw the clone startle and dash away, but he had scarcely a moment to spare the thought before he was dancing backwards, fending off rapid, sweeping slashes from a crimson rapier.  On the last strike he twisted his sword, locking their blades together, and got his first good look at his surprise assailant.

 

You.”

 

The redhead’s grin was vicious and his blue eyes glowed with mako.  “Me.”  He pressed down against the lock.  Cloud matched his strength for a moment, then shifted his stance and lashed out with his foot.  The stranger danced back, red leather coat flaring with the graceful movement, and dashed forward again just as quickly.  Their blades shrieked as they clashed.  “Who are you?” he demanded, as though affronted Cloud hadn’t crumpled on first contact.

 

“I could ask you the same thing,” Cloud replied.  When he’d hoped for a second meeting, he never imagined it would go like this.

 

The stranger’s eyes flicked to the side.  Following his gaze, Cloud frowned – the clone was leaving the crater.  He half-turned to give chase, but a flare of heat wrenched his attention back as bright crimson flames burst along his opponent’s rapier. 

 

Materia?  Hastily, he broke their lock and leapt back, sweeping the fire away with the flat of his sword.  The falling embers glowed dimly through his sunglasses.  “I’m not here to fight you.”

 

Liar.  I’ve been watching you.  You were hunting,” the SOLDIER sneered.  “On an errand for ShinRa!”  He threw out a hand, gathering magic.  Energy crackled in the air.  

 

“ShinRa doesn’t exist anymore.”

 

His eyes narrowed in suspicion.  “I highly doubt that.  I’ve seen the Turks lurking around.” 

 

So much for the vaunted Turk stealth.  “That’s nothing to do with you.”

 

“So it is simply coincidence that mere days after our encounter in the theatre ShinRa’s goons are suddenly crawling all over Midgar.”

 

 “I didn’t tell them about you.”

 

I don’t believe you,” he snapped, and clicked his fingers.

 

The ground beneath his feet exploded into a maelstrom of flames.

 

Cloud cursed under his breath, squeezing his eyes shut and exhaling to avoid burning his lungs.  Blindly, he dashed through the blaze, heedless of the searing heat, counting on speed alone to avoid being burned.  The SOLDIER met him on the other side, smirking vindictively as their swords clashed again, and again, each strike jarring to his very bones. 

 

The hum of materia alerted him to another fireball – he twisted mid-air to avoid it, weight suspended on his sword.  The SOLDIER took advantage and pushed him away, sending him flying.  He landed hard, skidding backwards through the ashes scattered on the charred ground.

 

“You’re in over your head!” the SOLDIER taunted, and leapt forward, rapier brandished.

 

For several minutes, they traded blows, swords glancing off each other and sparking with each parry, a wordless conversation as they took each other’s measure.  The man from the theatre was good – better than anyone he’d fought since Sephiroth.  It felt like fighting someone familiar, who knew his style and could anticipate each strike he made half a breath before he made it.

 

But it wasn’t good enough.  Quick as the SOLDIER was, he couldn’t cover every opening fast enough. 

 

Cloud saw his chance, and jabbed straight at his throat.

 

The SOLDIER rocked back on his heels, glowing blue eyes wide – the tip of the blade passed a finger’s width from his face.  Pressing his advantage, Cloud swung again.  The redhead leapt over the strike, then wrenched himself to the side.  First Tsurugi’s edge sliced through the maroon coat and scraped his elbow.  A thin trickle of blood ran from the wound, disappearing down his opponent’s arm.

 

They sprang apart – the SOLDIER eyeing him more warily now.  “You do look familiar…” he drawled, keeping his distance and circling him like a wolf stalking its prey - buying time to regroup, to reassess.  "But I'm certain there was never anyone like you in SOLDIER."

 

Cloud turned with him, wary of the next attack.  “So you were in SOLDIER.”

 

“Of course.  Genesis Rhapsodos, SOLDIER First Class.”  He took a shallow bow, though his eyes remained firmly forward. 

 

The name tickled the edge of his subconscious.  Cloud grasped at a sliver of a memory, a voice – was it Zack’s, or his own?  For some reason, the steps of the Nibelheim reactor sprung to mind, but flitted away again before he could even wonder why.

 

The redhead watched him carefully now, curiosity filtering into his sharp eyes.  “You don’t recall?”

 

He paused, pushing, searching, but ultimately it was fruitless.  “There’s something, but…” He shook his head.  “My memory’s not very reliable.”

 

Genesis huffed, and somehow managed to seem offended.  “Your name,” he demanded.

 

Cloud considered it.  Could sharing his name really do any harm?  Genesis shared his, after a fashion, so it seemed only fair.  “…Cloud Strife.”

 

“Cloud Strife,” he tested, as though tasting the words on his tongue.  His face twisted in a sour expression – it seemed the name brought him no answers, either.

 

They stood at an impasse.  Soft grit skittered down the crater’s edge, its gentle shift unnaturally loud in the tense silence.

 

“…I should kill you, Cloud Strife,” Genesis eventually remarked.  “You are a security risk I cannot afford.  Give me one reason to let you live.”

 

Death threats had long lost their effect on him, though admittedly if he truly were a SOLDIER First Class, Genesis might be the first opponent in a long while with a real chance on following through.  Cloud shrugged it off, slinging his sword into its harness – though was careful to keep his hand on the hilt, just in case.  The man seemed prone to violent mood swings.  “I’m not your enemy.”

 

“The evidence says otherwise.”

 

Diplomacy wasn’t Cloud’s strongest suit – they’d clearly stepped off on the wrong foot, and he had no idea how to proceed from here.  But he felt sure pointing out that Genesis had been the one to attack without provocation wouldn’t help.  “No matter what it looks like, I don’t have anything to do with ShinRa anymore.”

 

Genesis scoffed, but didn’t argue this time.  “So what is it you’re out here looking for, then?”

 

A good question.  Now that the man from the theatre stood before him in person, he couldn’t explain why he’d gone searching in the first place.  “…Understanding.”  It felt incredibly insufficient as an answer, but he couldn’t figure out a better way to put it.

 

Eyeing him speculatively, Genesis let out a thoughtful hum.  “We seek it thus, and take to the sky.”  He pushed a stray strand of hair out of his eyes.  “Very well, Cloud Strife.  I’ll humour you.  What is it that you so desperately seek to understand?”

 

He mulled over that for a moment, and eventually settled on, “If I don’t know you, why do you look so familiar?”

 

Genesis smirked.  “Perhaps I wasn’t as notorious as ShinRa’s beloved General-” The words were soaked in sarcasm. “-but I was a SOLDIER First Class. It’s hardly surprising.”  The glow of his eyes seemed to brighten.  “The real question, Cloud Strife, is how do I know you?”

 

If neither of them knew, how were they supposed to find out? 

 

He never got the chance to reply.  Abruptly, Genesis tensed.  A droning hum rose in the distance, the roar of a motor mixing with the chopping of air. 

 

In that moment, Cloud could sense the fragile truce shatter.  Genesis narrowed his eyes, anger burning anew in their glowing depths.  “I see.  That’s what this is.”  His free hand curled into a fist, crackling with magic.  “You were simply planning to keep me here in the open until the Turks came!” 

 

SOLDIER-enhanced reflexes were all that let Cloud dodge the blazing fireball.  He whirled, pulling First Tsurugi free in one smooth motion – then froze.

 

Black feathers spread wide, and Cloud’s breath caught in his throat.  Blind fear and denial ran down his spine, paralysing him, narrowing his entire focus until his vision was filled with nothing but the horrifying vision of a single dark wing, stretching from the SOLDIER’s back.

 

“My Soul corrupted by vengeance,
Hath endured torment,
To find the end of the journey in my own salvation.”


The words seemed to come from the very wind, murmuring mockingly in his ears. 

 

Cloud clutched his sword in a white-knuckled grip.

 

Then, with a flourish, Genesis fled to the sky.

 





Next chapter

Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
signrain
Jun. 9th, 2012 05:24 am (UTC)
Happy
I'm so happy that you write another FF7 Fanfiction.!!

This looks good for me, I can't guess where the plot will flow and that make it more interesting. [I'm bore with the time travel with the same plot but this is something new and fresh!]



sinnatious
Jun. 9th, 2012 07:13 am (UTC)
Re: Happy
Don't worry, I'm sure you will be able to guess the plot soon enough. It's just beginning! Hope you will enjoy it.
phamalama
Jun. 9th, 2012 06:08 am (UTC)
AHHHHHHHH This is really interesting! I really want to know how things happen after the movie~ aka I love your take on things~

sinnatious
Jun. 9th, 2012 07:14 am (UTC)
LOL. Thanks!
typezer0
Jun. 9th, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC)
Waah I love this pair and the story is so far quite fantastic :3 Keep writing!!!
sinnatious
Jun. 10th, 2012 06:32 am (UTC)
Thanks! Will do!
firedraygon97
Jun. 9th, 2012 05:10 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, I like that Genesis is so affronted by Cloud not knowing who he is. And that he's prone to violent mood swings. Again, the characterization is lovely. Keep up the fantastic work!
sinnatious
Jun. 10th, 2012 06:32 am (UTC)
Heh, thanks. Will do my best!
qem_chibati
Jun. 10th, 2012 02:34 am (UTC)
*snerks* Genesis would be super offended at the thought of anyone not knowing who he was.

I'm super intrigued as to who the white haired person is, I'm guessing it might not be a clone....
sinnatious
Jun. 10th, 2012 06:33 am (UTC)
Who cares that he's been declared dead for over a decade, right? XD
qem_chibati
Jun. 10th, 2012 07:45 am (UTC)
Pfft, minor details!
mauralucky7
Jun. 10th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
Genesis isn't making more copies is he, or did any survive the whole time? Your characterization is superb, Gen would be extremely affronted that Cloud doesn't recognize him. Great job!
sinnatious
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:24 am (UTC)
Have you played DoC? After the Omega incident, Genesis wakes up in one of the flood caverns that have been busted open underneath Midgar. He got interred into Deep Ground at the end of Crisis Core, but decided he didn't want any part of it so locked himself away.

I am actually kind of amazed by the lack of fics exploring what postDoC!Genesis gets up to.
mauralucky7
Jun. 11th, 2012 03:55 am (UTC)
No I never did play DoC, although I did watch the cut scenes. I just asked as your description of a white haired person with mako eyes is loose enough that I thought it might have been referring to one of Genesis's copies. Their were a bunch that had white hair.

I totally agree with you on the lack of postDoC Genesis fics. I've actually been looking for a couple and I haven't been able to find any really good one. That's part of the reason why I'm excited for this fic.
caterfree10
Jun. 25th, 2012 01:43 pm (UTC)
I FUCKING KNOW RIGHT?! It is damn near impossible to find fic, let alone good ones that explore post!DoC!Genesis's actions (I found all of two that explored the concept and both sucked DX). Definitely love this already for that bit alone, ngl. </s>/casually butts back out of the conversation</s>
sinnatious
Jun. 25th, 2012 01:50 pm (UTC)
It's weird, right?! I guess maybe not many people have played both DoC and Crisis Core but still! It's weird, FFVII sequels seem comparatively thin on the ground in general. Everyone seems to prefer to hang out in prequel territory!
caterfree10
Jun. 25th, 2012 02:51 pm (UTC)
oh god I fail HTML forever akjsfhdjsk

I suppose. I mean, I love fix-it fics as much as the next person (let me tell you about my fanfic rec list... *cough*), but exploring post-story possibilities is also fun too! That and the fandom always needs more Genesis. *nod nod* /lolbias
darkbombayangel
Jun. 12th, 2012 01:58 am (UTC)
I love how you write Genesis. ^-^
sinnatious
Jun. 12th, 2012 10:50 am (UTC)
Thank you~ Genesis is a lot of fun to write.
swyrel
Jun. 16th, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC)
Is it odd that when I first heard about the clone, I was all 'I bet that's Genesis dressed up!' b/c of his whole love of the acting thing...but then I realized that would be just asking for someone to come investigate and so I was probably wrong lol

....I never got how they could fly w/ just one wing. Wouldn't they just constantly go in circles, like when trying to swin w/ just one arm?

Anyway, beautiful chapter! You just get these characters so spot on that it makes me love them all that much more. and I love the simple things you add in like the hound looking for food while Cloud's on the phone and then just add to it w/ him eating the Mandragora.

And now on to the next chapter~ <3
sinnatious
Jun. 17th, 2012 05:43 am (UTC)
...Genesis cosplaying Sephiroth? But why would Genesis cosplay anyone when he's already so fabulous as he is? XD

Yeah, the one wing thing isn't at all aerodynamic. Shhh, let's not draw any attention to the holes in Square's pseudo-science.

And thank you!
swyrel
Jun. 17th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, he is completely fabulous, and it was more of when I heard about the clone, the whole saying 'the best place to hide anything is in plain sight' came back to me so that's why I was thinking it was him dressed up. But it was a shortly lived thought! lol

I think I am going to have to re-read the whole Fifth Act series to keep me occupied during the wait for more chapters. T_T While this is a good thing, b/c I always like re-reading it, I want to read more of this one now too. lol <3
azardarkstar
Jul. 14th, 2012 12:53 pm (UTC)
It's almost a dance where they're both trying to remember each other. Neither really has an advantage, and in some ways, Genesis gives Cloud... Well, not too much credit but perhaps makes him too cunning, too manipulative. I suppose, Genesis is seeing Sephiroth in Cloud while Cloud is seeing Sephiroth in Genesis.
sunnepho
Aug. 10th, 2012 04:32 am (UTC)
Uggghhh! I flail at your fight scenes, dialogue, everything!

I find it fascinating that these two people, who barely saw each other in passing, are pulling out the... extreme in memories from each other. I guess neither of them can ever really be free of the past, and having someone else around who can *understand* that, that must be a horrible and elating feeling at the same time.

I'm loving the first hints at a plot, and can't wait to find out more!

Also, wait, what? Genesis was in DoC? I thought I played that start to finish and saw the full ending! Was it explained in dialogue or something? I clearly remember laughing too hard at some of the goddamn ridiculous things the Tsviets were saying to actually pay attention to plot points.
sinnatious
Aug. 10th, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC)
Hey! :D

Genesis was indeed in DoC, but only in the secret ending (I missed it too, but that's what youtube is for). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGA-7ogMn6I&feature=related It's kind of terrible, though. (Like everything DoC).
love_michiyuki
Aug. 19th, 2012 12:49 am (UTC)
Come on Genesis! You saw him together with Zack D:

And poor Cloud, I bet he has nightmares about single dark wings by now :s
(Anonymous)
Dec. 28th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I can see Genesis still being as paranoid as he was after deserting. On the other hand, paranoia is probably why he is the last First Class SOLDIER left alive and - mostly - sane, though!

Really, people do not give him enough credit. He wisely stayed out of all the crazy stuff and focused on what matters:

himself

LOVELESS

Evading the plot train -- Choo choo! Everyone aboard the Apocalypse Express!


Also, I forgot to mention it the last chapter, but I -like another commenter mentioned- like that the Cloud/Tifa thing isn't angsty and emo -- in fact, Cloud isn't particularly emo here, not beyond believability, and I like that.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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