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Beloved, Chapter 14

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 Note: Fairly long chapter this one.  Very talky, but more action later.

Thanks to Little House in the Woods for the beta!


Previous chapter






____________________

Beloved Chapter 14

____________________

 

Several days had passed since Cloud’s crash.  Tifa had been thankfully too busy to fret over it, or over Cloud’s hermit-like behaviour since.   Seventh Heaven had been packed with visitors almost every day, thanks to all of the old crew being in town.

 

“Nanaki, are you in here?” Tifa poked her head into the back room, where Nanaki had curled up between the stock boxes.  “Oh, good.  Come on, we’ve been called to a meeting by Reeve.  Yuffie and Vincent are already on their way.”

 

With a yawn that showed off his impressive canines, Nanaki stood and stretched, back arching to impossible angles.  Tifa’s lips twitched in amusement – even after so long, it still sometimes surprised her to see their friend display such animal habits.  Though really, it should have seemed stranger how many human habits he’d picked up.  He didn’t have at all the right facial features or body for some of them.

 

As they headed back through the front of the bar, Nanaki asked, “Shouldn’t Cloud come along?  He’s just upstairs.”

 

Tifa’s brow creased with worry.  “Reeve only asked for us.  It’s a bit strange… I guess maybe he’s worried about upsetting Cloud.” She lowered her voice. “You know, if it’s about the clone.”  A tiny part of her hoped Reeve might know what exactly it was that had her childhood friend acting so strange and distant lately, too.

 

“All the more reason he should come along,” Nanaki said.  His expression was troubled – his shoulders hunched and the fur along his back bristling slightly.  “What about Barret?”

 

“I called him already.  He’s going to meet us there.”

 

Nanaki still looked bothered.  It bothered Tifa a little too, but she was sure Reeve had good reasons.

 

They headed out the back to the garage where an old black beaten pickup waited.  It was cheap and pockmarked with rust, but she only really used it when both Cloud and Barret were out of town.  She opened the passenger door for Nanaki.  “Watch your tail.”

 

Nanaki leapt up onto the seat and settled on his haunches, flaming tail curled carefully around his body.  Once he was in Tifa headed around to her side, and a moment later the pickup coughed and shuddered to life.

 

It took them nearly half an hour to drive to the WRO headquarters in the midday traffic.  Edge kept expanding, the initial mass exodus to Junon and Kalm and other smaller settlements slowly reversing, though Tifa felt sure it would never become anything as massive as Midgar.  She rolled down the windows, and Nanaki shifted so his face caught the breeze, though stopped shy of sticking his head out the window.  Preservation of dignity, most likely – she’d heard him admit to Cloud before that he liked the feel of the wind through his fur.

 

The WRO offices were, as always, crowded and busy.  The receptionist ushered them through to a meeting room as soon as they arrived.  Cid, Barret, Yuffie, and Vincent were already inside.  Chairs surrounded the conference table, but only Barret was sitting down.

 

“Tifa!” Barret boomed in greeting.  Cid grunted and nodded in her general direction.

 

“Heya Teefs!” Yuffie waved spasmodically at her, even though they’d last crossed paths only the day before.  “And Red, too!”

 

“Hi Yuffie,” Tifa replied with a smile.  “Where’s Reeve?”

 

“Not here, obviously,” Cid grumbled.  “It’s damn rude, callin’ us all here and not showin’ up.”

 

Barret shrugged, helping himself to the bowl of nuts in the middle of the table.  “He’s a busy man.”  Barret, Tifa thought to herself, truly had mellowed these past couple of years.  Once upon a time he would have been banging his gun arm on the table and shouting if he had to wait more than five minutes.

 

Reeve came in at that moment, waving away his secretary.  He was dressed, as always, in a slightly ill-fitting dark blue business suit.  His black hair and finely trimmed beard and moustache had become peppered with grey, and though his countenance was naturally stern, he always seemed to manage to soften his features enough around AVALANCHE to look like everyone’s favourite uncle.

 

It didn’t really work.  Tifa still had trouble associating him with the perky robot cat and giant white mog they’d travelled with. 

 

“Hello everyone.  I see you all made it.  Good, good, please, take a seat…” Reeve greeted them.  He seemed a little flustered, as though he’d been pulled out of a project.  Or was nervous about something.  As she sat down, Tifa watched him carefully for the usual tells – slightly jerky movement, stiff facial expressions – that would give him away as a puppet.  Nothing.  Either his animatronics were getting better, or this was the real deal. 

 

He fussed about with his papers for a moment before taking a seat himself, dark, steely gaze resting on each of them in turn.  Tifa met it squarely, but she hadn’t met Reeve in the flesh often enough to get a good read on his mood through eye contact alone. 

 

“What the hell’s this all about, eh?” Cid complained.  “I ain’t got time to sit around and chin wag all damn day.

 

“Of course,” Reeve said, and spread his palms flat on the table.  Taking a deep breath, he announced, “The WRO is taking all former SOLDIERs into custody.”

 

For a long moment, all he received in response was a series of blank looks – except from Vincent, who didn’t so much as twitch from his spot leaning next to the door.

 

“So?” Barret rumbled.  “Not like there’s any of them left, are there?”

 

“There are a few,” Reeve said.  “Mostly in Junon.  A couple of mako addicts.  In light of the ongoing situation with the clone and the public response, we didn’t have any choice.”

 

“Wait a minute!” Yuffie jolted to her feet.  “Are you including Cloud in this?!”

 

Reeve’s silence was damning.  Alarm rushed through Tifa, her suddenly racing heart a silent siren of rising fear.  “Are you serious, Reeve?  He was never in SOLDIER.”

 

“That’s a technicality at this point, I’m afraid.”  He sounded regretful.  “After the DeepGround uprising, there’s a lot of distrust towards former SOLDIERs.  If members of the public take it upon themselves to become vigilantes…”

“So who exactly are you protectin’, there?” Barret demanded.  “The damn SOLDIERs or the damn civvies?”

 

“It’s not that bad, is it Reeve?” Tifa asked.  She folded her arms, not sure if she wanted to protect herself from what she was hearing or to hold herself in from lashing out. That they were even thinking about this… 

 

Cid had gone conspicuously silent.  Tifa eyed him suspiciously, and he all but squirmed in his chair.  “What?”

 

Barret and Yuffie were eying him now too.  “You know something, old man!  Spill it!” the ninja princess ordered.

 

“I don’t know shit!”

 

“Hell you don’t!” Barret thundered.  Barrett didn’t do ‘inside-voice’.  They glared at each other, though Cid’s eyes kept darting to her almost nervously.

 

“Cid,” Tifa said in as level a voice as she could muster.  “Please tell us if you know something.  This is important.”

 

Cid scowled, but his shoulders sagged, and she knew they’d won.  “He didn’t want to say anythin’ ‘bout it, okay?  Didn’t want anyone to know, but he’s been getting some serious crap.  That crash of his was no accident.”

 

Tifa felt herself grow pale at the memory.  Her fists clenched, knuckles turning white and fingernails digging painfully into her palms. 

 

It had been bad enough, thinking it was just a motorcycle accident.  But someone had done that to Cloud…?

 

The silence was suffocating.  Reeve cleared his throat, and he might as well have been banging a gavel.  “That was largely what spurred us to take this step.  No one was hurt this time-”

 

Cloud was hurt!” Nanaki interjected with a snarl.  Tifa could have almost made the same sound right then.

 

“No one was seriously hurt,” Reeve amended, “But it could have gone much worse, and the longer the current situation is left unresolved, the higher the chance it will.”

 

“So what exactly are you suggestin’ then?” Barret demanded.  “Get to the damn point already!”

 

Reeve took a deep breath, and said, “As I said.  We want to take him into protective custody.”

 

The room fairly exploded. 

 

“No way!”  Yuffie looked about ready to break out her shuriken.  “You want to lock him up?!”

 

“The fuck?!” Cid, of course.

 

“Reeve!” Nanaki growled.

 

Tifa set her mouth in a firm line and slammed her hand down on the table.  It shuddered from the force, but didn’t crack.  “Have you lost your mind?!”

 

Vincent just watched in silence.

 

Reeve sighed, as though he’d expected this response.  “I didn’t want to mention this, but it’s more than just the motorcycle crash.  Those three civilians who were murdered, well… They weren’t simply random victims.  We have reports that they’d been giving Cloud a hard time.”

 

Tifa felt her fiery indignation turn to ice.  Slowly, she sank back into her chair, numb.  Barret, Cid, and Yuffie did the same.

 

“You mean… you think…” Yuffie’s lower lip trembled.  For that one moment, she looked sixteen again, instead of a young woman in her early twenties.

 

Tifa shook her head.  “Cloud would never…

 

“I don’t think Cloud would normally… but I’m afraid to say, it really doesn’t look good from this angle.  He doesn’t have an alibi for either of the… occurrences.”  Reeve hastened to explain.  “You must admit, Cloud hasn’t always been entirely in control in the past, and with the presence of a clone on the scene…”

 

That was a terrifying thought for the truth contained within it.  The others were starting to look grim, if still uncertain.  It had been a long time since anything like that had happened of course, but they never had any guarantees…

 

Was this why Cloud had been so withdrawn lately?  She’d wanted to know why, but for it be something like this

 

The seed of doubt began to grow.  He’d been gone a lot, up until the past few weeks.  More than his usual delivery schedule allowed.  He’d been coming home late every night, and when he was home he acted distant and kept to himself.  Not just with her – with everybody.  Even Vincent.

 

Nanaki looked around at them, eye wild and ears flattened against his skull.  “I don’t believe you!” he snarled.  “Cloud is our friend!”

 

“That ain’t fair, Red,” Barret grumbled.  “’Course we trust Spikey, but you know he ain’t always all there and all that.  We gotta be prepared to step in if he ain’t entirely himself!”

 

“No!  This is wrong!” Nanaki burst out, and spun in place.  Vincent moved, opening the door just before he could crash directly through it.  There were cries of surprise outside.

 

“Nanaki!”  Tifa half-stood to go after him.

 

Vincent spoke up for the first time that meeting.  “Let him be.  He’s still young by his race’s standards, don’t forget.  He’ll need some time to calm down.”

 

Right, it was easy to forget how child-like Nanaki could be sometimes, and besides, there was little hope of catching up to him – he ran fast enough to keep up with a car when he got moving.  Tifa worried briefly about what might happen if he ran into traffic, but sternly reminded herself that Nanaki wasn’t a hound – he knew how to avoid being run over.

 

Reluctantly, she sat back down.  “I still don’t know…” she said.  “It seems like an over-reaction, to just lock him up because of all that… I mean, we don’t have any proof, do we?”

 

“If we wait until we have proof,” Reeve said, “Then it might be too late.  We cannot afford another incident.  Nobody acted in time in the past.  Not for Rhapsodos, not for Hewley, and not for Sephiroth.  Even if the chance is remote, we can’t ignore the warning signs.”  He paused, and added carefully, “They were all heroes once, too.”

 

The silence stretched and grew dense, heavy with unspoken history and fears.

 

“…I don’t like it,” Cid grunted.  “Just because he’s got a bit of the same damn gunk floating around in him as they did-”

 

“I’m not saying we’re going to throw him into jail just for having S-cells,” Reeve protested.  “It’ll be more of a secure safe house.  Mostly as a precaution, as much for his benefit as it is for the general populace.  It would keep him out of the public eye, and if there were any issues, with the clone or S-cells or otherwise, then help would be on hand immediately.”  He straightened the papers in front of him, though they didn’t seem to have anything to do with the matter at hand.  “I wanted to discuss it all with you first before I proposed it to Cloud, though.  We’ll need to talk it through and explain everything properly, and you’ll see it really isn’t so bad as it sounds.  It’s only going to be a temporary measure, after all.  Just to be sure.  Probably only a couple of weeks, a few months at the most, until things are sorted out and settle down.”

 

Tifa’s hands were shaking in her lap.  She clenched them into fists, summoning strength from emotional reserves already wrung dry.

 

Her instinct was to rail against it, but she remembered how Cloud had walked in a week ago, clothes torn and covered in blood.  How he’d check the windows and doors when he came in every night, and wouldn’t go outside without wearing his sunglasses.  It seemed like an age ago now since she’d convinced him to go to the theatre with her, and even then they’d argued about him wearing them inside.

 

Most of all, though, she remembered that dull, dead look in his eyes as he shuffled away from them, reaching out to Sephiroth, Black Materia in his grasp.  She recalled the expression of horror on his face when he’d realised he’d tried to attack Aeris.

 

Cloud wouldn’t want it to come to that.  And if it were only going to be for a short while…

 

Miraculously, her voice came out steady.  “…What exactly did you have in mind?”

 

 

……………………

 

 

Three weeks.

 

Genesis was going to kill him.

 

Cloud slipped his sunglasses into his pocket as the bedroom door shut behind him, but didn’t put them on just yet.  He ghosted down the staircase, stepping lightly to avoid announcing his presence prematurely.

 

Since the crash, he’d become something of a hermit – only going out when Tifa specifically requested it of him.  He’d spent a good chunk of the past week in the garage, fixing Fenrir, but was growing bored even of that.  What he really wanted was to take the bike and get out of town, head into Midgar, visit the Church, get away from it all.

 

Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option.  Not without risking revealing Genesis.

 

Once downstairs, the bar turned out to be curiously empty.  Barret had left early in the morning on business, and the kids were at school, but he’d expected Tifa to still be around – or if not her, Nanaki, or even Yuffie.  Seventh Heaven was everyone’s unofficial home-away-from-home.

 

When he thought about it, though, he remembered Tifa saying that Reeve had called up about something and she would be heading over to see him later.  Apparently he hadn’t been invited.  No big deal, but if the rest of AVALANCHE had gone…

 

He shook the thought away.  He was probably just being paranoid.  Unusual though it was, he’d take advantage of the privacy. 

 

Cloud fished around for a clean cup behind the counter, set it on one of the tables, and pulled a Water materia from his pocket.  As far as materia went, it was rare, difficult to master, and not very useful in battle – not when you had a mastered Ice materia on hand, or better yet, could summon Leviathan.  He’d picked this one up as a curiosity a couple of months after Meteor.  Its glow was only about a third as bright as most of the rest of his collection.

 

For this purpose, though, Water was best.  He couldn’t do much damage with it, and if he made a mess it would dry on its own.

 

Concentrating, he felt for the spells contained within, drawing the very minimum of energy and directing it far more carefully than he usually flung magic about.  Keeping a tight focus, with the tiniest nudge, he let a sliver of power loose.

 

The cup filled with water, splashing over the sides.  Hastily, Cloud cut off the spell and dumped the water into the sink.  It was an improvement – the cup only overflowed now, instead of shattering.  Just two weeks ago he’d been overflowing the bathtub instead.

 

He set the cup down and started again. 

 

It had become a side project after seeing Genesis’s little display of lighting a candle with a Fire materia.  He could do power, could cast with speed, but control wasn’t something he’d refined beyond being able to reliably hit his target.  The idea had interested him.  He would have liked the chance to discuss it with Genesis.

 

The spell went completely skew.  At the last moment, Cloud wrenched it towards the sink.  Water crashed noisily in the metal washing tub, sending a fine spray in all directions. The drain gurgled hungrily, whisking it away.

 

He’d been trying his best not to think about it.  Three weeks had passed since that unresolved night in the theatre.  Three weeks since he’d been effectively confined to Edge.

 

The former SOLDIER was going to be livid.  Cloud fully expected to be set on fire when they next met.

 

Grimly, he cast the spell again.  Water lapped over the edge of the cup, spreading puddles across the countertop.  He reached for a dishrag to mop up the excess.

 

In light of the situation, there hadn’t been any choice.  Even if he ignored the Turks and managed to leave without a confrontation – unlikely, given the way Reno had been acting – he would almost certainly be followed.  If he tried to escape his tail, that would only make everyone more suspicious. 

 

AVALANCHE just thought the clone was trailing him – an attack so close to home proved it in their eyes, and it followed the pattern with Kadaj close enough.  Most of them weren’t aware of the trouble he’d been having with the local populace.  The Turks, on the other hand…

 

He knew it would come to this eventually.  The similarities to Sephiroth, the spectre of what happened with the Black materia… he would never be able to shake it.  Outwardly, everyone said they knew he was different and how they trusted him, but they couldn’t hide the doubt and suspicion in their eyes.  They tiptoed around him like he was a sleeping dragon.

 

“Interesting,” a smooth baritone murmured behind him.  “I haven’t seen materia used like that before.”

 

Cursing, Cloud very nearly loosed what would have been a bathtub’s worth of water all over the floor.  He reined in the magic at the last minute, took a deep breath, and slid the materia back into his pocket.  “Vincent.”

 

They hadn’t spoken much recently.  Cloud was still annoyed at the former Turk going behind his back, even if he understood it.  They’d spoken briefly after the discovery of the bodies, and then again after he crashed Fenrir, but that was all.  That Vincent approached him now meant there had been new developments. 

 

“I don’t know how much time we have,” Vincent said.  “And the phones aren’t likely to be secure.  I thought it best to come speak with you directly.”

 

Definitely not the best opening to a conversation he could have hoped for.  “What’s happened?’

 

It took Vincent a long moment to reply, as though the words pained him.  “…They’ve issued a detainment order on all clones and SOLDIERs.  Shoot at the first sign of resistance.”

 

The glass Cloud had been putting back shattered in his hand.  He twitched, gingerly pulling the shards of glass free and sweeping them into a pile.  “Are you saying ShinRa just issued an order to arrest me?”

 

“Not ShinRa, specifically.  The WRO,” Vincent corrected, voice low and steady as though delivering a report.  “And you’re not the only one left.  There were a couple of SOLDIERs still living in Junon – former Third Classes.  Plus a couple of mako addicts who’d been dishonourably discharged.  ShinRa had been keeping them under watch.  They moved in on them this morning.” 

 

It was the first Cloud had heard of it – so convinced he’d become that there weren’t any other SOLDIERs left.  It stood to reason, though, that at least a couple of the unremarkable ones had managed to fly under the radar in various corners of the Planet.  But to arrest them now, when they hadn’t done anything for years

 

“If they didn’t put up a fight,” Vincent continued, “they’ll have simply gone to a high-security prison.”

 

So that was how they were playing it. 

 

Cloud took a deep, steadying breath.

 

Neither he nor Vincent said it out loud, but the dark truth remained unspoken between them.  That there were plenty among the WRO’s troops who would use that as an excuse.  Who would take the first sign of hesitation, the first confused question, the first complaint, as an open invitation to attack.

 

“What the hell is Reeve thinking?” Cloud muttered.

 

"He's being pressured by public sentiment.  After Geostigma, and then the DeepGround massacres, the public want reassurance that the threat is gone."

 

"So what?  Are they going to put me down too?" Cloud stared at his hands, watching the cuts heal before his eyes.  Condemned, just because he carried S-cells?

 

They’d become tired of tiptoeing around the sleeping dragon, and had gone straight for the throat.


"It's my understanding that Reeve believes he can talk you into voluntary confinement."  His crimson eyes glimmered. "...I don't think he truly comprehends what such an offer means to a former experiment."  After a moment, Vincent offered.  "Red XIII was furious on your behalf."


Cloud's stomach churned, his anger receding, leaving him tired and hollow. No, Reeve couldn't understand.  For all that he had been an ally, the man was, in the end, a ShinRa executive.  Though he was aware of the company's casual cruelties, and knew they were wrong, comprehending them was an entirely different matter.


He probably thought the offer humane – a compromise in the face of the risk Cloud presented and a public on knife’s edge. But Reeve didn't understand what it was like, not to have freedom.  Didn't understand how precious it was.  Zack had died for it, and Cloud had been fighting tooth and nail to keep it ever since.


"The others?" he asked.  He started to have sinking suspicions about why the bar was so empty.


It took the former Turk a long moment to answer. "Reeve is... convincing." 

 

“More like Rufus is convincing,” he muttered.  This had his fingerprints all over it.  Probably some new roundabout scheme to force him to work for Neo-ShinRa.

 

Vincent inclined his head in acknowledgement, and then added, "...Tifa agreed on the condition she could live with you."

 

The betrayal lanced through him like a physical blow.


They had it all planned out.  A mock little windowless house under tight surveillance and security, no doubt.  Visitors to come and go as they pleased.  Probably even a workshop to keep him busy.  However harsh the WRO's policy, they wouldn't want to risk getting rid of him or upsetting him too much, just in case they missed a piece of Jenova and needed him to fight the fourth coming of Sephiroth.  A dangerous weapon, hidden away under lock and key.

 

And Tifa would quietly endure it with him, sacrificing her freedom for his sake and making them both miserable in the process. 

 

It was like watching everything he’d fought for – everything Zack had fought for - go up in smoke.  Gaia, and Genesis too – he’d hoped that eventually, after the clone situation had been sorted out, he could convince the former Commander to come out of hiding.  Now that was impossible.  Now simply coming to town would be risking life and freedom.

 

Vincent seemed to read his line of thought.  "...You'd do well to remember, Cloud - however misplaced his targets, the threat Reeve is trying to eradicate is real."

 

“That doesn’t justify it,” he said roughly. 

 

"Times are changing," Vincent murmured, gazing towards the window. It looked as though he was simply staring into empty space, but Cloud knew it was more likely he was keeping watch. He did the same thing often enough. "People need new enemies. If not Wutai, AVALANCHE.  If not AVALANCHE, ShinRa. If not ShinRa..."


He understood it.  He did.  People were terrified of another incident - Sephiroth, DeepGround, Kadaj's attack... where once SOLDIER was held on a pedestal, they now simply regarded them all as monsters.  It didn't matter what they'd done in the past. 

 

After all, Sephiroth had been a hero once upon a time, too.


It was why he'd turned down Tifa's suggestion to get on TV.  She didn't get it.  He was too much like Sephiroth already.  As soon as the public heard about his spliced genes, his fate would have been sealed.

 

"Shelke?" Cloud asked.


"I’m meeting up with her elsewhere later.  Reeve’s planning on offering her a similar deal."  There was a long pause, then Vincent said, "...The treatments might be a problem."


They were going to ground, then.  Nibelheim wasn't an option - it would be the first place they'd look.  That only left... "Gast's laboratory."


"It's one idea," was the non-committal response.  "...They will likely let her go. She's not so high-profile."


Not like Cloud.

 

“What will you do?”

He didn’t answer.  He simply made for the stairs.


"If you run, ShinRa will have an excuse to use force." It was stated as simple fact.

Cloud brushed past. "They can try."









Next chapter



Comments

( 43 comments — Leave a comment )
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<<[1] [2] >>
killiara
Sep. 15th, 2012 04:15 am (UTC)
CLOUD! IF YOU RUN THEY'LL THINK THEY'RE RIGHT!
swyrel
Sep. 15th, 2012 04:26 am (UTC)
God, I want to smack them all except Vincent and Nanaki. Turning on Cloud like that, even if they do think it's the only option left. T_T And Tifa is being selfish. Agreeing to it if she gets to go along. She just wants to keep Cloud all to herself and probably has herself convinced that it's only to keep him safe.

Genesis, please don't be pissed at Cloud! And no setting him on fire! We'll never get the slashy bits if he's burnt to a crisp.

I'm getting the feeling that this won't be a happily-ever-after ending, and I don't want it to be sad. I want happy endings! T_T Cloud deserves it.

Cloud, they're going to try to kill you, and you will have to fight back. And that will just make them want to kill you more. I don't want that. T_T

So Cloud and Genesis will go on the run together and we will get our slashy bits, yes? XD

GAH, ready for next Saturday, and it's not even this Saturday yet! Still got 30 mins left. lol
sinnatious
Sep. 16th, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC)
LOL, Saturday will be upon us before you know it! Oh god the weeks are flying by way too fast.

Well, hey, at least Vincent and Nanaki are still good, yeah? Cloud's new favourite colour is red.
lenine2
Sep. 15th, 2012 05:05 am (UTC)
I am very disappointed in Tifa right now. The same goes for Reeve. The only ones I am tolerating in my head are Vincent and Red. I keep wondering if there is a way Cloud can get to Genesis somehow and they can hole up in G's windowless dressing room and pass the time in a way that entertains me until the clone is caught and Cloud's innocence is proven.

Cloud's trying to prove he can control water as well as G can control fire. Cloud, you're so cute.
sinnatious
Sep. 16th, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
I can't really comment on any of this specifically, but <3
azardarkstar
Sep. 15th, 2012 09:23 am (UTC)
And so it comes to this. I've been expecting it from the beginning. I think Cloud has, too. Though I do wonder where they'll go. Obviously, Genesis has to come as well. Won't be much of a fic without him by this point.

Poor Cloud. Betrayed by people to ignorant to see the truth. That Sephiroth turned against ShinRa for this very reason. And they struck the first blow.

*Sighs*

At this point, I wonder if there even is a clone at all. We only have the word of the Turks and the WRO, after all. I wouldn't put it past Rufus to kill Elena to help his own cause.

*Edit*
Kunsel? :)

Edited at 2012-09-15 08:06 pm (UTC)
sinnatious
Sep. 16th, 2012 02:36 pm (UTC)
It's been a long time coming, definitely.

XD I'm not planning on tackling anything Kunsel-related in this fic, sorry. Even though it IS a fabulous suggestion.
(no subject) - azardarkstar - Sep. 16th, 2012 09:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
caterfree10
Sep. 15th, 2012 10:17 am (UTC)
...I think my comments are starting to turn into novellas
SHIT, I had a feeling they were worried about Cloud becoming another Sephiroth after the teens were killed. And it is as was said, Sephiroth was a hero too once. Oh god, my feels, excuse me for a sec while I sob into a pillow and pretend The Fifth Act is canon again. ;; Ugh, there has to be a way to avoid getting caught. Though a part of me wouldn't mind knowing what all these ex-SOLDIERs have been doing since Meteor. :Va

Also gotta admit, it probably is a very good thing they don't know about Genesis because his reaction would be worse than anything Cloud could ever do. xD Granted, they'd probably take him into custody anyway, but still.

But yeahhhhh, Gen's not gonna be happy with three weeks of absolutely nothing from Cloud. Cloud'll be lucky if getting burned is all he gets next time the two meet, heh. xD

...why, do I now have the mental image of Genesis furiously polishing the Buster Sword in his anger at not knowing what's going on with Cloud and why he hasn't gotten back to him? asjhflksdjhf

ANYWAY, Nanaki, please to be crashing into Gen during your tantrum and explaining the situation. We don't need a beautiful thing broken up. That and we definitely need the slash. *nod*
sinnatious
Sep. 16th, 2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
but those are the best kind XD
XD Genesis would just set all of Edge on fire, surely. Actually, it seems odd that Sephiroth's the one who burned down Nibelheim, but Genesis just went sword-crazy on Banora. Surely it should have been the other way around! Maybe I'm just projecting head!canon though.

Also, LOL, that is an amusing mental image. I can see it! XD

&hearts; - caterfree10 - Sep. 16th, 2012 11:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
firedraygon97
Sep. 15th, 2012 10:31 am (UTC)
Too true, Cloud, Too true!! I'm looking forward to how the WRO plans on taking Cloud down.

Wow, going through some of the comments, Tifa seems to be getting some backlash for her deal. I don't think it's selfish of her, or that she has some kind of underlying/subconscious scheme to Stockholm Syndrome Cloud into loving her...she genuinely feels scared about how Cloud's acting so sketchy. If I were her, I'd want some guarantees, too. Have Cloud quarantined for a period until the clone kills again, that way Cloud's name is semi-cleared.

Good job explaining why Cloud feels so betrayed. I think we got some of that emotion and are projecting it onto Tifa.

Very cool with the materia training. I'm sure that'll come in handy some day.

And finally, what's Genesis been doing all this time??

As always, great work!
skibalovesya
Sep. 15th, 2012 03:16 pm (UTC)
b-but what if the clone only kills based on what cloud is going through a-a-and stuff???
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signrain
Sep. 15th, 2012 01:26 pm (UTC)
Amazing!
This chapter is something that I've looking for a long time.
skibalovesya
Sep. 15th, 2012 02:36 pm (UTC)
*fist pumps because she was right*

I don't really know what I can say in response to this chapter, at least not right now. Just woke up, brain's a little fuzzy.

My two major initial responses is I like where you went with the existence of former SOLDIERs. The game is surprisingly mum about them, since I guess it's implied you squished them all at Junon, or Sephiroth did you one better and just squished all of them. I know there was one in Junon who sells stuff, but that's just one dude. Gotta be more than that. ETA: Oh and I guess it's implied from AC that anyone with Jenova in them wound up with Geostigma and probably died... huh...

The other is mostly the water materia. I'd always found it strange that FFVII had the water element but only one thing was water-elemented itself. So I guess my brain is going where did that come from? There's enough string pulling to explain it, since I'm sure somewhere between shooting flames and lightning bolts out of your fingers the Cetra have some practical knowledge, like how to make water. XD

Erm... time to be a fangirl and scream MOAR PLZ. :D

Edited at 2012-09-15 05:46 pm (UTC)
sinnatious
Sep. 16th, 2012 02:27 pm (UTC)
Haha, your fore-readings were delightfully accurate. :)

With the SOLDIERs, I just figured it's realistic that even with all the squishing going on courtesy of AVALANCHE, Sephiroth, Geostigma and DeepGround, etc. etc. there were still bound to be a couple that slipped through the cracks, particularly if they were unremarkable enough to avoid notice. SOLDIERs are tough cookies, after all.

Also, yes, I also scratched my head at the lack of Water materia in VII, considering hey, Leviathan. (And also the fact that you had Water Rings, enemies with water skills and water immunity etc etc) So I figured it wouldn't do any harm to introduce it in this fic, since Water spells turn up in most FFs and its absence in VII is conspicuously odd.
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ratzels
Sep. 15th, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
I'm a bit surprised by all the Tifa hate in the comments. She's clearly misguided, but very well intentioned. I mean, she threw herself into the lifestream for him; it's not surprising that she'd be willing to go under house arrest for him, too.

Of course, I see Genesis sweeping in and literally carrying Cloud away very soon. Which will also go poorly, for different reasons. XD
sinnatious
Sep. 16th, 2012 02:18 pm (UTC)
<3 I am relieved to find at least a couple of Tifa-defenders. It wasn't my intention to make her selfish!
darkbombayangel
Sep. 15th, 2012 10:05 pm (UTC)
I feel so sorry for Cloud. I can't believe thye would do that to Cloud. I am glad that Vincent and Nanaki are sticking with him. ^-^
BircheHealsPlx
Sep. 16th, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
A Long-time Lurker Finally Comments!
Guhh, Sinn, I can't decide whether I love you or hate you for doing this. So many feels ;_;

While Cloud's hurt at Tifa's "betrayal" is colouring my own reaction slightly, on the whole I feel bad for Tifa. We feel bad that the WRO want to lock Cloud away? Imagine how Tifa, the woman who's seen him at his worst and stood by him through all that, who's pretty much seen into his soul, who loves him and just wants him to move on and be done with all his suffering, must feel.

Admittedly, she hasn't been a test subject like he has, and can't understand that fundamental fear of losing one's freedom, but she's trying to do the right thing to 1) Help him, 2) Keep peace and 3) Show him it's okay, he's not alone, not everybody's out to get him.

The moment where she realises what she's doing is the worst possible thing she could do to Cloud is going to be a horrible one ;_;

The part of my brain slightly overwhelmed by the hopelessness of the situation (which you've built up so horribly, horribly well) is just hoping for Genesis to burst onto the scene save the day while giving out haircare tips, like the fabulous bamf he is. (It's my secret headcanon that Sephiroth's hair was hideously unkempt before Genesis marched into his life and showed him the beauty of good quality conditioner. The poor boy was raised in a lab by -Hojo-, like he knew how to use straighteners before Genesis happened.)

Thank you for another amazing chapter, Sinn. Can't wait for next Saturday! <3
sinnatious
Sep. 17th, 2012 12:23 pm (UTC)
Re: A Long-time Lurker Finally Comments!
LOL, hey, welcome!

Indeed, Tifa is in for some nasty realisations.

Yes, it's all looking very hopeless isn't it? I um, kind of like writing hopeless scenarios I guess. Still, we have a great deal of fic left to go!

Also, I like that headcanon. XD Genesis probably got him into the whole leather business too, otherwise surely Sephiroth would be all uniform regulations!
tsuanyue
Sep. 18th, 2012 04:09 am (UTC)
Genesis, after he gets over the angry, is going to be so smug for so long. I'm not sure how soon Cloud will feel comfortable admitting that he thinks Genesis is sexy and they should explore that further, but being fugitives from mob justice together ought to help that along. Plus, he gets to be /right/ and rub it in to anyone that meets him that Shinra and the general populace are not to trusted so he is no longer paranoid but just smarter than cute, stoic blondes.

So anyone that gets on Cloud for being secretive and distant until it made him an easy target for being a Shinra/WRO scapegoat is going to have to listen to Genesis ranting, "Why'd I ask him not to trust you? Gee, because you might be feeble-minded cowards at heart that will take the most comfortable and convenient route as soon as a politician promises to make you feel better about your pathetic state. Cloud, let's go back to the passion and poetry of our secluded runaway honeymoon! Why? Because I was right about everything else being a good idea, right?" (Gen's cranky and persuasive like that.)

I don't really hate any of the cast even after this chapter. I think everyone's accurately portrayed though once things settle most of AVALANCHE is probably going to be disappointed in themselves and each other besides Nanaki and Vincent for getting reasoned into what is really a bad, bad idea. Shinra's screwing things up true to form by trying to exert control over situations beyond their power and understanding and making things worse per usual. But they're probably going to get kicked in the ass for it sooner or later, and they slowly learn from their mistakes... sometimes.

And let's face it, AVALANCHE is pretty easily lead on flimsy contexts and Cloud's issues were distracting when they discovered he was trying to handle the harassment alone. Given a little time they should realize they should have thought of better ways to help him than follow popular lead. Tifa's just stuck in a delusion with Cloud that a childhood connection and a screwed up sense of survivor's guilt means the only remaining Nibelheimer's must connect and reproduce even if nothing's sparking as far as romance. They honestly are better friends and sibling levels of support without trying to force anything. They're crap at confrontation though. So drastic situation will probably help them lay that to rest and say enough is enough there.

I'll admit, I just want to see the Genesis reaction here. :) He's ignored, angry, right?, in good company, and sexy. Very sexy. Oh, to be a mood ring (or anything) on that redhead. Rowr.

Next Saturday, next Saturday, next Saturday... I can be patient. I can also tie my shoes with my nose hairs if you believe that.

Edited at 2012-09-18 04:19 am (UTC)
sinnatious
Sep. 18th, 2012 12:05 pm (UTC)
Nothing Genesis likes more than being right! XD

You've done a pretty thorough analysis on AVALANCHE and Tifa and everyone in general there, I can't really add to that! But thank you for the comment! :D

And ow... for the mental image of trying to tie shoes with nose hairs. XD
(Anonymous)
Sep. 20th, 2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
Man, I love this. Saturdays rule!

I also love the mental image of cloud running off into the sunset, with Genesis overhead, Red running ahead and Vincent next to him. So much pretty.

And guerrilla war 'gainst WRO. Cool! And since my net was down, I still have a chapter to read, an I'll be getting the next one /tomorrow/. It's been a long time since I've done it so, here goes.

WHEEEE!
sinnatious
Sep. 22nd, 2012 10:41 am (UTC)
*__* That is indeed a visually striking image.

Heh heh, lucky you! New chapter is up now.
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ynyuki
Sep. 28th, 2012 12:50 am (UTC)
Got back my PC after a few weeks of torture and caught up with all my Beloved fics 8D

Tsk, Turks are getting nosy these days. Though I don't really get how Rufus thinks that will make Cloud work for him, if I got that part right...

Reno being so hung up over Elena kind of makes my mental image of the naughty boy distorted. Rude's still crushing over Tifa, no surprise here x) I liked that conversation at Gongaga. And Tseng is a sly fox, as alwaaaays. With an even sicker boss. xD

Poor Nanaki, still treated as a kid. 8D Vincent plays message boy <3 Cloud is surrounded with red for some reason. Valentine's coming? xD

Genesis must be fuming. Waking up in an empty bed the morning after 8P

Saturday be quick! <3

Edited at 2012-09-28 12:52 am (UTC)
sinnatious
Sep. 28th, 2012 11:26 am (UTC)
Glad to hear you've got the PC back! Being without a computer is awful these days.

Because the only friends Genesis would approve of anyway are the red ones? XD

Hey, tis not far to Saturday at all! Thanks for your patience. :)
(Anonymous)
Dec. 29th, 2012 09:22 am (UTC)
can't stop reading

must know what happens next
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