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Beloved, Chapter 5

Title: Beloved

Rating: M, for 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.

Author’s Notes:  In between everything else, I almost forgot to update today!  Luckily the whole 'it's Saturday, update time!' twigged sometime this afternoon.  Um, don't hate me for this chapter, I had tough decisions to make.  And thanks to Little House in the Woods for the beta.


Previous chapter




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Beloved

Chapter 5


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The TV droned in the reception lounge, static occasionally flicking across the screen from a poor signal.  The television itself looked old, a bulky design from the early ShinRa days, and the sound carried a slight fuzz from burned out speakers.  It was running the news channel, one of those ‘word on the streets of Edge’ segments.

 

"I knew something like this would happen again.  I haven't felt safe since last year," an elderly woman complained to the reporter. "My daughter was gunned down by those monsters - they came from nowhere, in the middle of the night.  They were like something out of a nightmare."

 

“Sir?” The girl at the front desk asked him.

 

Cloud handed over his package and delivery receipt.  The receptionist scrawled her signature without even looking up. 

 

The newscaster was talking to what looked like a young mother now.  "Well, yeah, the WRO won last time.  But why did it take so long?  Why did they wait for the problem to surface?  I– I have to be honest, I lose sleep wondering when something like that will happen again, and then I hear these stories..."  She rubbed at the dark shadows hanging under her eyes.

 

Cloud checked his sunglasses and glanced around the office.  The TV spoke only to a small audience of bored-looking men in construction blues – workers waiting for job interviews, most likely.  There was a steady stream of people going past though, on their way through or lining up impatiently behind him to register their appointments with the front desk.  The WRO headquarters were, as always, a hive of activity.

 

The journalist on the TV had moved into a shooting range – one of Neo-ShinRa’s training grounds, by the looks of it.  A middle-aged man in flannels took aim and shot at one of the targets, hitting a little left of centre.  "I've been learning to shoot, to protect my family," the gunman explained in the next shot.  "But there's not much an ordinary guy can do against a threat like that.  Bullets only slow those guys down."

 

“Cloud.”  Cloud jerked at the familiar voice.  Vincent?  Sure enough, a moment later the ex-Turk moved into his peripheral vision.  Despite the fact he wore a scarlet cloak and a golden gauntlet, he managed to look perfectly at home in the office, and hardly anyone spared him a second glance.  “Are you here to see Reeve?”

 

He collected the signed clipboard and held it up.  “Delivery.”  If he got through his quota quickly enough, he’d have time to go see Genesis again.  Time enough for Tifa not to miss him and ask questions.  “Why are you here?”  He headed back outside to Fenrir, Vincent keeping pace beside him.

 

“I thought that would be obvious.”

 

For one second, panic lanced through him.  Had Shelke spoken to Vincent?  Was he suspicious?  But he’d only asked about Project G.  Shelke didn’t have any particular reason to pass the information along, and even if she did it didn’t necessarily mean anything.

 

Belatedly, he replied, “Not to me.  Is something happening?”  Shiva, he wasn’t a terrible liar, but it felt obvious in front of Vincent.

 

If Vincent suspected anything though, he didn’t show it.  Merely explained, “Reeve’s stepping up the search.”

 

Cloud paused in the middle of stowing the delivery receipt.  “They found something?”  A new concern took hold - could someone have spotted Genesis leaving the Church?

 

“You didn’t hear?”  When Cloud shook his head, he explained, “Elena’s dead.”

 

……………………

 

 

Vincent took him to see the body. 

 

“They found her yesterday when she failed to call in.”  Vincent’s crimson gaze was a heavy weight on his back.  “Tifa didn’t tell you?”

 

Cloud shook his head mutely, staring at the corpse in the dim cold grey mortuary.  Some effort had been made to clean her up, but it remained a gruesome sight – her head half caved in, her fine blond hair matted with blood, her rib cage crushed and misshapen.  He’d seen worse in Hojo’s lab, but…

 

Turks were like cockroaches.  It didn’t seem possible any of them could die.

 

“Who else knows about this?”  His thoughts were on the news program he’d just seen running.  He was already slipping into battle mode, considering all of the angles so he didn’t have time to focus on the raw horror of it, didn’t have time to pay attention to how the room smelled overpoweringly of dried blood and chemical compounds.

 

“It was one of the WRO’s squads that stumbled across her.  Word got out before Reeve could act.”

 

Everyone, then.  It was his worst fears realised.  No wonder Tifa had hesitated to tell him.  No wonder mobs were out looking for trouble.

 

“Fortunate you came when you did.  They’re burying her this evening.”  Where she would disappear into motes of green light, hidden from everyone’s eyes as she returned to the Planet.

 

His throat felt tight, as though he wanted to throw up but his body had forgotten how.  It made a certain amount of sense that it had been Elena.  She’d never quite escaped her rookie status, and despite impressive growth, remained the weakest fighter of the four.  But it hadn’t been that long ago since he last saw her at the bar, alternating between shouting at Reno and trying her hardest to remain professional in front of Tseng. No one could have imagined this happening to her then.  “What happened?” 

 

“No one knows yet exactly.  But the wounds....”  Vincent trailed off, waving his gauntlet over the prone body.

 

He didn’t need to explain.  Cloud knew on sight.  No regular monster or human would inflict those kinds of injuries.  This was the work of a SOLDIER.

 

He let out a breath.  This was bad.  Things were already tense.  “The clone?”

 

“Neo-ShinRa’s issued a kill-on-sight order.” 

 

No surprise there.  “The Turks are going to be out for blood.”

 

Vincent didn’t reply.  He didn’t need to.

 

They left the mortuary attached to the WRO headquarters.  It seemed painfully bright outside after the dull, muted lighting.  Painfully loud, too, though the only sound was the distant rumble of trucks and an afternoon breeze rolling across the car park.

 

Neither spoke as Cloud shut the storage compartment and straddled his bike.  Then Vincent said, “…Reeve tells me you quit the search.”

 

Cloud shrugged.  Rather than try to lie to Vincent’s face about why, better not to say anything at all.

 

“If it truly is a clone, you know they’ll come after you eventually,” Vincent warned.

 

“If it really is a clone,” he replied, “I’ll sense them coming.”  He turned the ignition.  Fenrir growled to life.

 

“Cloud.”

 

He looked over.  Vincent stared at him for a long moment, as though measuring his intentions by sight alone.

 

“…Be careful.”

 

Cloud gunned the engine, and Fenrir roared away.

 

 

……………………

 

 

The theatre doors burst open with a bang.

 

“Did you kill a Turk?”

 

Genesis emerged from behind the crimson curtain, his red coat seeming to spread from it like a growing puddle of blood.  “I didn’t expect to see you again this soon, Cloud Strife.  Did you miss me so much?”

 

Cloud strode up the aisle to the stage.  “This is serious.  Did you kill a Turk?”

 

“Did one of ShinRa’s little lapdogs bite off more than they can chew?” he mocked.  “Good riddance.”

 

Cloud narrowed his eyes.  Genesis sighed, twisting his hand in a dismissive flick.  “No, I did not kill any Turks.  You might recall that I have been avoiding them…?”

 

Cloud relaxed, forcing his fingers to unclench from First Tsurugi’s hilt.  It could have been a lie, of course, but Genesis hadn’t made secret his opinion towards ShinRa.  If he’d been responsible, he would have gloated about it.  Even after only four meetings, Cloud could tell that much.

 

Genesis smirked, lounging on the edge of the stage, legs dangling over the orchestra pit.  “What would you have done if I had?”  He leaned forward, eyes half-lidded, semi-circles of glowing mako in the dim theatre.  “You’re being inconsistent, Cloud Strife.  What happened to your claim of ‘having nothing to do with ShinRa’?”

 

“I don’t care about the Turks,” he said flatly.  They were uneasy allies even after Meteor – though he felt bad for Elena and her comrades, maybe even a bit sick at what happened to her, the sympathy ended there.  “But you know what’ll happen, right?”

 

“Why should it concern me?” Genesis retorted, his chin perched on the palm of his hand, entire pose one of calculated disinterest.

 

“They think a SOLDIER did it.”

 

His gaze sharpened.  “The clone.” 

 

Genesis was quick – every bit as intelligent as Shelke’s files reported him to be.  Cloud didn’t bother confirming. 

 

When the war of the beasts brings about the world's end,
The goddess descends from the sky.
”  The words bounced through the theatre, the echo of a play long over. “And so new monsters are born.”

 

“Do you know anything?” Cloud pressed.  “If they catch the clone, then you don’t have anything to worry about.” 

 

The SOLDIER’s expression flickered at that, but Cloud never had been very good at reading people and couldn’t tell what it meant.  “You needn’t concern yourself over me,” he remarked.  “I am a SOLDIER First Class, and I’ve evaded ShinRa for years.  Rather more effectively than you, in fact.”

 

But ShinRa always caught up with you eventually.  Shelke’s information on Project G might not have been complete, but it still chronicled Genesis’s capture and incorporation into Deep Ground after some six years spent hiding. 

 

They caught Gast, and then later Aeris.  They caught Zack.  They caught him.

 

Sometimes they managed to escape again.  Yet even now there were days Cloud couldn’t quite shake the sensation of a noose fitted around his neck.

 

“Guess I shouldn’t have bothered,” he muttered and turned on his heel, irrationally annoyed.

 

“Leaving again so soon?”  The words were idly curious.

 

He didn’t respond and kept walking.  Genesis slid off the stage’s edge and followed him up the aisle.  “I honestly don’t see what the problem is.  Leave ShinRa business to ShinRa.”

 

Cloud couldn’t explain it.  He didn’t quite understand it himself.

 

Genesis let out an annoyed huff, then said, “Very well then.  What if we were to find the clone first?”

 

The sudden pronouncement stopped Cloud dead in his path.  “What?” 

 

The former SOLDIER shrugged, sweeping out a hand in a vaguely encompassing gesture.  “Your point was a valid one.  The sooner the clone is found and taken care of, the less risk of ShinRa’s searches stumbling upon my sanctuary.”  He brushed past, continuing on to the exit, black wing spreading from his shoulder.  “Besides, doesn’t it strike you as unwise to let ShinRa get its hands on a Sephiroth clone?”  The gloating tone of his voice implied more a private glee at the idea of getting one over the Turks than any sort of social responsibility.

 

Cloud searched for words, but they seemed stuck in his throat.

 

Genesis nodded, as though satisfied with himself.  “We’ll meet by the church – no sense in drawing any more attention to this area than necessary.”  He made an amused sound low in his throat.  “And you can pursue your quest for ‘understanding’ as part of the exchange.  We’ll have ample opportunity throughout the course of searching.  A pair of hell hounds with the one spell,” he finished with a snap of his fingers.

 

Somehow, before he even realised what was happening, Cloud found himself steamrolled into clone hunting with Genesis.  A clone hunt he’d told Vincent he’d given up not hours before.  His intentions had simply been to make sure Genesis wasn’t responsible, and then warn him to keep his head down until it all blew over.  Apparently that had been stupid of him.

 

Maybe it was better this way, though.  He could soothe his conscience by resuming the search, and by doing it off the grid he could still safely interact with Genesis and maybe even find a way to keep the clone from Neo-ShinRa’s hands.  The Turks and WRO had difficulty searching the inner districts, after all.  And if both he and Genesis were searching, then he wouldn’t have to resort to… riskier methods.

 

Somewhere in the back of his mind, though, Cloud wondered why Genesis even needed to look for the clone, when the clone’s tracks he’d followed led straight to the theatre.

 

The question lingered on the tip of on his tongue, but in the end, indecision kept him silent.  Their truce remained a fragile one, and while he believed Genesis hadn’t killed Elena, the incident served as a sharp reminder.

 

A reminder that no matter their connection through Zack, Cloud really didn’t know Genesis Rhapsodos at all.




Next chapter

 

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
swyrel
Jul. 7th, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, Cloud...did you pretty much just liken Vincent to a roach? I mean, it was only in your head, but you should be careful b/c he has a way of knowing these things.

I can't really be upset that you killed Elena off. The only thing I know about her are the few scenes she was in Advent Children so no big loss there for me lol

I never really thought about his sunglasses being used to cover his eyes like that. Hell, I just thought they were there to keep the bugs out of his eyes while driving. But he was so nervously agitated (well, as much as Cloud can be) and making sure that they were hiding his eyes b/c of the crazy people thinking he's like the other mako crazed idiots. Poor Cloud. He's a hero, damnit! He deserves better T_T

And Genesis just steamrolling him into the search. Oh, Cloud, you already just can't say no to him, can you? This does not bode well for future interactions.

Next Saturday needs to hurry up T_T
sinnatious
Jul. 7th, 2012 03:42 pm (UTC)
Vincent is kind of the living embodiment of that *can't die* attitude though, right? XD

Ah, fair enough. Kind of a relief really!

*Bugs out of his eyes while driving* - while a very practical observation, now all I can think of is the first time he came to realise that was a necessity.

...How did this become all about bugs?
killiara
Jul. 7th, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
Hehehe. Now I'm picturing Cloud on his bike, almost crashing because a gnat flew right into his eyeball. Then, very carefully, walking his bike to the next town to pick up goggles.
swyrel
Jul. 8th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
Because bugs need love too, Sin! ....not really, but that's all I could think of.

Hmm...I can see him popping up at a gil shop covered in bugs (and still trying to get them out of his mouth) to get a pair of sunglasses and since it'll be all right after Meteor, the shop keeper will be all '>:( we don't sell to your kind here!' and b/c the next shop is almost a day's drive away, Cloud will calmly pull a Genesis and burn the shop down before leaving with his sunglasses (and to excuse Cloud's behavior, we'll say the shop owner hit on Aeris or something during their Avalanche days and didn't want to take no for an answer~).
firedraygon97
Jul. 8th, 2012 02:07 am (UTC)
I like how Cloud's a novice at lying compared to Vincent, haha.

And dang, Elena. D: I'm excited to see how the Turks respond to this though. They did drop a plate on Sector 7, back in the day. That clone is so screwed if Cloud and Gen don't find it first.

Hee, I also like how in this fic Gen seems to be doing more of the surprising than Cloud compared to TFA. :D

Cloud seems to be keeping Gen a secret from Tifa not unlike hiding a mistress. Hmm.

Anyway, lovely update~
sinnatious
Jul. 8th, 2012 07:59 am (UTC)
Everyone's a novice at lying compared to Vincent! At least, that's my head canon. XD

He is a bit, isn't he? I guess maybe because in this case Genesis is the one who has seemingly popped out of nowhere instead of Cloud.

LOL, an apt comparison. And thanks~

caterfree10
Jul. 8th, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC)
asjfhdsjlk I love all of Cloud and Genesis' interactions. And it's true, even with their connection through Zack, Cloud doesn't have much reason to really trust Genesis at this point. Will change, though y/y? x3

Though omg Elena. D: I'm not too attached to her, tbh, but it's still sad. :c Then again Sephiroth clones, what can ya do, yeah?

Anyway, is it Saturday again yet? xD
sinnatious
Jul. 9th, 2012 09:40 am (UTC)
That is indeed the plan! I am so transparent.

Counting down already! God I'm already falling behind.
caterfree10
Jul. 10th, 2012 03:34 am (UTC)
*pulls out paper fans* You can do it~ がんばって!
darkbombayangel
Jul. 8th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
Poor Elena. I'm curious as to see how Cloud and Genesis will work together.
ynyuki
Jul. 9th, 2012 11:51 pm (UTC)
@.@ Must. Check. LJ. Every Saturday. From now on. Read 3 chapters in a row. This is sooooooo... no... tooooooo goooooood!!! <3<3<3

Poor Cloud, he's always being pushed around and tormented Q.Q Must be a part of his charm <3

Genesis is a bit inactive, surprisingly. I can't imagine someone like him in hiding and doing a good job of it (Red, flaaaashy coat). Cloud is more of the hiding type. XD Oh well, you are just full of surprises. Guess when it comes to survival, even carnivores have to make concessions (What, I'm not referring to anyone, what makes you think that? XD)

Turk = Cockroaches! ROFL XD (Still, I can understand, they never died in the game. T_T Never. T_T Not even with Kadaj in AC. T_T They NEVER die. XD Guess they rubbed off on Rufus too.)

May next Saturday comes fasteeeeeeer! <3

Edited at 2012-07-09 11:52 pm (UTC)
sinnatious
Jul. 10th, 2012 10:37 am (UTC)
LOL, you can just track the 'beloved' tag if it would make it easier? XD

Cloud is fun to torture, I will not lie.

I like to think of it as Square using up all their guts in killing off Aeris and Zack. They couldn't bring themselves to get rid of the Turks after that.
kitty11chan
Jul. 11th, 2012 04:31 am (UTC)
Nah, I blame the roach factor. That's what makes Elena dying so shocking.
azardarkstar
Jul. 14th, 2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
They're both connected to Zack, but they don't know each other. Yet.

I'm sorry that Elena died, but she does make the most sense. I don't think Reno *can* die. Tseng probably can't either. Not sure about Rude.

I mean, Vincent's still around, right? :)

I think Vincent already suspects something. No surprise there. But he understands Cloud best of all. And honestly, he and Cloud are as close to BFFs as either could get.
sunnepho
Aug. 10th, 2012 05:37 am (UTC)
Elena... picked on for being the least roach-like of the remaining Turks.

Mm, this, this is a gorgeous line: Genesis emerged from behind the crimson curtain, his red coat seeming to spread from it like a growing puddle of blood. Decadent and gritty at the same time.
sinnatious
Aug. 10th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC)
It was either her or Reno. :( (And honestly Reno is easier to write. Yeah, that's the kind og high-level thought that goes into these decisions. *coughs*)

<3 Thank you! I think part of the reason Genesis is so fun to write is that he gives you all sorts of opportunities for excessively flowery and artistic language.
love_michiyuki
Aug. 19th, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
Pfft~ as if Cloud could ever successfully lie to Vincent xD
(Anonymous)
Dec. 29th, 2012 05:42 am (UTC)
Oh, I like that they're getting on less hostile grounds, while still distrusting each other.


Elena used to be my favorite Turk when I was younger. This hit me right in the childhood. D;
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )