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Beloved, Chapter 17

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: Nice big fat long chapter this one.  Just to get your expectations nice and high so I can slam you with a short chapter next week.  Also how the hell are we at Chapter 17 already?  Life passes by so fast.

Thanks to Little House in the Woods for the beta!
 
 
Previous chapter




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Beloved Chapter 17

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The fingers of sunshine poking through the theatre’s damaged roof had begun to fade, though there was still plenty of light to see by.  Midgar beyond was silent, the vermin and monsters that regularly prowled the ruins obviously having found somewhere else to scrap and scavenge.  Their only company as they talked was the faint whistle of breeze breathing underneath the theatre doors.

 

Cloud hooked his legs over the armrest of the musty red seat next to him, which wasn’t an improvement in terms of comfort but made it easier to swipe the last of his scattered belts from the floor without getting up.  Genesis similarly lounged within arm’s reach, somehow managing to sprawl across five seats and two rows at once. 

 

His muscles were all but liquid, the loosest they’d been for what felt like years.  Odin, he’d forgotten how good it was to get laid.  When had the last time been?  With Aeris?  Maybe the only time – he couldn’t sort out his memories any further back than that, and even that memory had been soured by her death and his identity crisis.

 

It was just as well, though.  It let him relax enough to take stock of the situation, and discuss the past few weeks without so much emotion choking his words.

 

“And…?” Genesis prodded.  Cloud blinked, and realised he’d trailed off from his recount.

 

“…And that’s it.  I ran for it, you showed up, and here we are.”  His thoughts turned dark.  “The WRO I almost expected, but I never thought Tifa would…”

 

The sentence hung in the air, unfinished.  Genesis waved it away with a lazy hand.

"That's how it starts. 'For the good of the whole'. Small acts of cruelty with the very best of intentions.  The seeds of mistrust, a disgruntled population, a nameless threat.  It reaches a boil slowly enough that nobody notices until too late.  History repeats."

 

“Sorry for not being as cynical as you,” Cloud replied, without any real heat behind the words.

 

In mistrust, joy

In faith, despair

Cruel are the trials of the Goddess.”  His lips curled into a satisfied smile – it turned out Cloud wasn’t the only one feeling particularly relaxed.  “Beloved, Fourth Act.”

 

Cloud rolled his eyes, and regarded the SOLDIER lazing next to him at length.  Genesis really was good looking, enough to make him feel self-conscious and remember teenage inadequacies long forgotten.  Not the tower of masculinity Sephiroth had been, but he possessed the same sort of air. 

 

It made him wonder if what really attracted him was confidence - he was so lacking in it, and Genesis had it in spades.

 

The train of thought didn’t get the chance to linger long.  “We made a mess,” Genesis observed with a suffering air, looking at where they’d been lying on the stage.

 

Cloud dug through the pockets of his rumpled pants, fishing out his Water materia.  With a flick of his wrist, he dropped half a bucket’s worth of water over the stage, washing away the evidence.  It was much easier than his more recent attempts at filling a glass.

 

Interest lit up the SOLDIER’s eyes, and he raised himself to his elbows.  “Water materia?  I didn’t think any actually existed outside of theory.”

 

Cloud tossed it over.  Genesis caught it one-handed and rolled it in his palm, expression thoughtful.  “And not even mastered yet… I wasn’t aware you were any good with it.”

 

“I’m not, really.  Not like you are.”  That comment all but made the former Commander preen.  He’d probably regret it later.  “I’ve mastered a lot of materia, but the kind of control you have…”  Raw power was fine – he could pull down a hail of comets that could crater an entire village – but subtlety remained a weakness.  There had never been a need.  “I’ve only made it this far with Water at this stage.”

 

“Such finesse does not come easily, and it’s different with every materia.  Not many SOLDIERs ever bothered,” Genesis remarked, then handed the materia back to him.  “Go on then.  Show me.”

 

Uncertainly, Cloud raised the orb, and concentrated.  A small orb of water, about twice the size of his fist, formed above the stage.  Genesis made a small sound of approval in the back of his throat.  “Can you manipulate it?”

 

At his blank look, the former SOLDIER explained, “If you continue feeding energy into the spell, you can maintain more control over it.  It requires balance, however – too much, you’ll lose control, too little, and you’ll have no control at all.”  He huffed.  “Really.  What by the Goddess were they teaching in Materia Theory?”

 

Cloud nodded his understanding – it sounded a bit like some of the Lures, or Underwater materia.  He fed the slightest bit of energy into the materia, and concentrated.

 

The sphere slowly flattened out, until it was a slightly fat sheet.  A little bit more effort, and he could animate it, forming simple shapes, making the water dance.  It was surprisingly… fun. 

 

“You have some talent,” Genesis remarked critically.  “Though…”  With a flick of his wrist, he shot a fireball.  It struck the water like a bullet, turning it to steam.

 

Not a single drop hit the ground. 

 

Cloud glared at him, and earned a smug grin back.  Admittedly, that was impressive – sending the exact right amount of fire, and fast enough to evaporate all the water without leaving flames to spare – but he hadn’t been ready to finish.  He cast again, a larger sphere of water this time, giving him more to play with.

 

After half a minute, Genesis fried that one too.

 

Cloud materialised the next one directly over their heads, and let it burst.

 

The SOLDIER sputtered, thoroughly drenched.  It was his turn to glare now.  “Why by the Goddess would you do thatYou’re soaked too.”

 

“But I don’t care about a little water,” Cloud replied nonchalantly.

 

Predictably, that sparked a fight.  Genesis leapt at him, forgoing the sword for once to grapple with his arms.  Cloud dropped in under his guard, barrelling him down with his shoulder.  They hit the ground in a tangle of wet limbs and leather.  An arm twisted its way around his neck, but Cloud rolled with it, hooking his legs behind Genesis’s knees as they rolled across the carpet, hands snatching and blocking.

 

Genesis was taller, but he was also rubbish at hand-to-hand combat.  Cloud broke his sloppy arm hold and twisted, kicked out, and used his momentum to flip them over.  In one smooth move, he straddled the former SOLDIER, pushed his left arm away, pinned his right, and pressed his elbow into the hollow of his throat.

 

“Yield?” Cloud asked, leaning in close enough to whisper, but not close enough to head-butt. 

 

Genesis smirked and snatched at his hair with his free hand, but Cloud caught it by the wrist, his elbow still firmly pressed against his opponent’s throat. 

 

Genesis scowled.  “Where did you learn that?”

 

“There were all kinds of fighting styles in AVALANCHE.  I picked up a bit along the way.” 

 

It made him think of Tifa, though, and he didn’t want to think about Tifa.  Then the dark and gloomy thoughts would never stop. 

 

Genesis nodded his surrender in begrudging acknowledgement, and Cloud extracted himself, rolling over to sprawl on the carpet next to the now-sodden chairs in the front row.  The SOLDIER remained as he was, only turning his head to regard his companion through half-lidded eyes.

 

“Wet hair is a good look for you,” Genesis remarked idly.

 

Cloud patted the top of his head warily – his spikes were flat, drooping with water to frame his face and hang in front of his eyes.  Comments about his appearance still left him feeling uncomfortable.  All he could ever remember was being self-conscious – over his weird hair and light colouring and small stature, and more recently, his ‘freaky’ glowing eyes.  Not like Genesis, who even with water dripping from his hair looked like he’d just stepped off the cover of a magazine. 

 

He didn’t wind up saying anything in response, and they lay there for several long minutes, only the sound of their breathing filling the space between them. 

 

He stared up at the damaged ceiling.  The theatre was beginning to get dark.  Normally this would be the point he’d start heading back to Edge from Midgar.

 

Not anymore, though.  He couldn’t go back.  That avenue was closed to him now.  There was only this, here, with Genesis. 

 

“You know,” Genesis remarked thoughtfully, “That Water materia would certainly make bathing a great deal easier.”

 

Cloud blinked at the unexpected angle of conversation.  Then again, for someone living in ruins without any electricity or running water, Genesis was surprisingly clean and well-groomed.  Cloud was certainly never so fresh after a few days on the road.  “How have you been doing it?”

 

“A combination of Fire and Ice materia.”

 

Cloud mentally reviewed Genesis’s materia skills up another notch.  Dual-casting was no easy feat – that Genesis did it for something as pedestrian as personal hygiene said a lot.  “You’re right, Water materia would be easier.”

 

Genesis rolled over and regarded him with an indolent gaze and coquettish smirk.  “Care to test it out?”

 

 

………………………

 

 

Tseng was giving him a measured, analysing look.  Nanaki flicked his tail and ignored it.

 

They were gathered in the dining area of Seventh Heaven – the bar closed to patrons as it played host to Turk investigation and internal AVALANCHE quarrels both.  Tseng and Cait Sith had cornered him near the door, while Tifa and the others had gathered around one of the big wooden tables in the centre of the room.

 

“Cloud didn’t say anything to you?” Cait Sith asked.  Although technically it wasn’t Cait Sith – Reeve was borrowing the microphone, so the voice coming through the speaker was his baritone instead of the chirpy accent of the robot cat.

 

“No,” Nanaki replied honestly.  For some reason, they seemed to believe he’d stopped by to tell Cloud about what had happened.  But in his mad dash towards Seventh Heaven, he’d seen a few too many WRO officers in the streets to bother, so he’d abandoned that plan and took off to Midgar instead.

 

By the time he’d arrived, his flanks had been covered in sweat and he’d struggled for breath, but he’d made it in time.  Cloud got away.

 

“Nothing at all?” Reeve pressed through Cait.

 

Nanaki’s good eye lazily trailed the path of a fly buzzing through the air.  “Nothing.”

 

“What about Vincent?” Tseng slid in and out of the interrogation like a poisonous snake.  Hunting, though currently more threat than bite.  “We haven’t been able to contact him either.”

 

“If you can’t, I can’t,” Nanaki said, entirely truthfully, though perhaps a trifle smugly.  Vincent had obviously found a way to inform Cloud in his absence, but he was happy enough to take the credit.

 

The three of them, of everyone in AVALANCHE, shared a unique understanding, a special camaraderie the others could never share – nor would they want them to.

 

They’d all been Hojo’s, once upon a time.  That left an indelible mark on an individual. And they all knew that confinement, no matter how comfortable, was not an option for any of them.

 

Nearby, Yuffie threw her phone down onto the table in disgust.  “He’s still not answering!  The big jerk!”

 

“Do you think, maybe, Cloud’s with Vincent?” Tifa suggested hesitantly. 

 

“Unlikely,” Tseng remarked.  “We have also lost contact with Shelke Rui.”

 

Barrett scowled.  “So what are you Turks gonna do about that then, huh?  Gonna lock up a little girl, too?!”

 

“We were going to offer her the same deal we were going to offer Cloud,” Tseng replied, utterly unruffled by Barrett’s anger.  “You understand, don’t you, that by being so unreasonable about it, they’re only jeopardising their own safety?”

 

Nanaki growled low in his throat.  “I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all.  It’s Neo-ShinRa who are overreacting.”

 

“Are we?” The coldness of his tone left Nanaki suddenly nervous.  Tseng reached into his jacket, and withdrew a single black feather.

 

The room fell silent as it he placed it on the table.  Tifa’s face went chalk-white at the sight of it.  “This was found near the location where we lost track of Strife.” Tseng paused to let that sink in, and then added, “There were no signs of a struggle.”

 

The feather carried the faintest of odours beneath the scent of Tseng – mako and fire and leather.  Genesis

 

Not that Nanaki could say anything about that.  For the first time, though, he found it difficult to hold his tongue. 

 

“What the hell are you implying with that?” Cid grunted.

 

Yuffie pointed accusingly at the Turk.  “Are you trying to say that he’s working with the clone?”

 

“That is one possibility,” Tseng said, and very conspicuously didn’t say anything more.

 

“Tseng.”  Tifa voice was impossibly small, but the rest of the room stayed quiet in deference to it.  “…Are you trying to suggest that this might be from…”  The sentence hung in the air, unfinished.

 

“We cannot rule out any possibility.”

 

The silence this time was a great deal more ominous.  Nobody wanted to say it aloud, as though the words might make it real.

 

Tseng turned back to him.  “You see now, we’re not acting lightly.  If you know anything, you should share it now, before this can escalate any further.”

 

Nanaki snuffed, and looked away. 

 

“There’s nothing more to be done here, Tseng,” Reeve said through Cait.  “I’m needed elsewhere.  I’ll be signing off.”  There was a pause, and then Cait perked up, movements immediately more fluid and voice pitched higher with a completely different accent.  “Ach, what’s with all the sorry faces?  Cheer up, lass, I’m sure Cloud’ll be back with us in no time.”

 

Tseng moved his attention to Tifa, having apparently decided – quite rightly – that he’d be getting no cooperation from Nanaki.  “Ruling out Vincent, or the Church in Sector Five, can you think of anywhere else he might have gone?”

 

She hesitated.  “I… no, I can’t think of anywhere particularly.  I mean, with AVALANCHE, we travelled all over the Planet…”

 

“What about contacts?” Tseng pressed.  “Friends you made along the road who’d house him?”

 

She shook her head.  “Cloud’s not… We’re all he has.”

 

“That’s kinda lame,” Yuffie said.  “I mean, I’ve got people in Wutai, and Cid’s got that engineer lady, and Reeve’s got a whole posse of stinking sycophants…”

 

It was a sobering thought.  Once upon a time it might have made Nanaki’s head droop in sympathy.  If AVALANCHE had been all he had, if it weren’t for Grandfather Bugenhagen and the people in Cosmo Canyon…

 

But Cloud wasn’t alone.  Cloud had Genesis now.  And after the way Genesis had torn out of the church before Nanaki had even finished talking, he was sure his friend was in good hands.  After all, Genesis was like them.  And even better, he didn’t have any loyalties to anyone else to worry about.

 

So Nanaki merely licked his paw and made himself comfortable.  As long as Cloud had Genesis, he’d be fine.

 

 

………………………

 

 

The bathtub Genesis had appropriated was another item salvaged from the prop storage.  It was a terribly old-fashioned porcelain affair with clawed feet, but considering Midgar no longer had any functional plumbing, suited his needs perfectly.  It was sturdy enough to withstand any stray chunks of ice, and the porcelain tolerated the heat from his Fire materia acceptably, with only a faint carbon scoring to show after months of use.

 

And once Genesis lit the candles scattered around the room, it carried a romance worthy of writing sonnets about.

 

Cloud hovered in the doorway uncertainly.  Genesis shed his coat and tossed it aside, beckoning the other SOLDIER inside.  His guest shuffled a few feet in, and then didn’t move any further. 

 

Genesis huffed to himself and stepped up, pulling off the shoulder guard and belts and – “Honestly, why did you put all of this back on?”

 

“Shouldn’t we fill the bath first?”  Cloud didn’t seem to know what to do with his hands.  Genesis saved him from indecision by stripping the gloves from them.

 

“Don’t let me stop you,” he purred.  He turned his attention to removing their boots as Cloud raised his Water materia.  The air thrummed with magic for a moment, there was a splash, and then the bathtub filled near to the brim.

 

The sight of such precision casting – nowhere near his expertise, of course, but the closest anyone had come yet – sent a wave of warmth through Genesis, an odd sort of giddiness that reminded him of childhood.  The pure and simple joy of recognising someone else who appreciated materia almost as much as he did.

 

Not that he would settle for being outdone, however.  With a flourish he produced his Fire materia and spared a bit of concentration to create a shallow bed of flame beneath the bathtub, even as his other hand tugged on the black fabric of Cloud’s pants.

 

Cloud batted his fingers away.  “You don’t need to be so impatient.  Take care of yourself first.”  There was a huskiness to his voice that hadn’t been there before, and Genesis preened under it.  He hadn’t lost his touch at all.

 

“If you insist.”  He slipped out of his pants gracefully.  At least he hadn’t been foolish enough to bother redoing all of his belts.  Warm air breathed against his legs, contrasting with the pleasantly sharp cold of the bathroom tiles.  Some distant part of him managed to notice steam beginning to rise from the bath and cut the running spell.  It truly was much easier when he didn’t have to melt the water first.

 

Cloud’s pants joined his on the floor, but his companion seemed to lose momentum after that, fingers hovering nervously over the zip of his shirt – the last article of clothing protecting his modesty.

 

That suited Genesis just fine.  “Allow me.”  He stepped up closer, admiring the faint rose blooming on blond’s cheeks at the close proximity.  It seemed remarkable to him that one could possess such strength and appearance and still be so shy.  It was adorable, really.

 

The zipper parted the black fabric, exposing a widening river of pale, perfect flesh.  Genesis let his gaze linger appreciatively.  Despite their earlier activities, neither of them had been properly naked – far more concerned with feeling than seeing.

 

And Cloud Strife was a fine specimen indeed.  The build of a gymnast more than a swordsman, with skin as flawless as Minerva’s.

 

That was, until the zipper reached his stomach.

 

His fingers stilled for a fraction of a second.  Then slowly, they completed their journey and pushed the shirt from Cloud’s shoulders.

 

Something in his expression must have shifted, as Cloud tensed and asked, “What-”  And then a second later, “Oh.”

 

He didn’t move to cover it, though shifted his weight awkwardly.

 

“The first time I fought Sephiroth,” Cloud mumbled, “…it was really more of a draw.”

 

It was an ugly scar, thin but jagged around the edges. It told a gruesome story - the sword had been moved within the body, and pulled free clumsily. Genesis reached around to trace Cloud's back, finding its twin just to the left of the spine. Perilously close to the aorta.

 

This was the mark Sephiroth had left.  

 

Genesis couldn’t decide whether it left him furious or terrified.

 

"I'd have more," Cloud muttered, "but after the mako tanks..."

 

“Both Hojo and Sephiroth should be grateful for the sanctuary of the Lifestream,” Genesis growled.  Cloud Strife was his now – in every sense the word mattered.

 

“Forget about it.  It’s in the past.”  In an apparent effort to change the subject, Cloud started to return the favour by helping Genesis take off his shirt.

 

Then, in an awkward parody of the scene just passed, paused when the shirt cleared Genesis’s shoulder.

Revealing that disgusting mass of scarred, miscoloured flesh.  His souvenir from degradation.  

Genesis found his hand reaching up to clutch it, to cover it, but Cloud caught his arm halfway. "Don't," he said.  "It's fine.”  He dragged the fabric the rest of the way over his head, not bothering with tenderness. 

Genesis appreciated it.  Still… “You’re not going to ask?”

 

“Do you want me to?”  He turned to the bath, stepping in and sinking down until the water reached his shoulders.  His eyes slid shut.  “The water’s good.”

It looked good.  “The wind sails over the water's surface
Quietly, but surely...
”  Genesis murmured, reached down to trail a hand in the water.  Hot, but not scalding.  He’d gauged it well.

  

“Quit quoting Loveless and get in,” Cloud ordered, eyes still closed.

 

“Then move forward,” Genesis retorted.  Confused, Cloud slid forward to the centre of the bath, sending a small wave of water spilling over the sides.  Genesis stepped into the space and settled down behind him, stretching his legs out and pulling the blond onto his lap.

 

He’d expected a reaction, but Cloud settled against his chest without much fuss beyond a grumbled, “Why do I have to sit in front?”

 

“I’m taller, Cloud Strife.  It’s a matter of simple logistics,” Genesis remarked, perhaps a tad too gleefully.  He ran a hand down the blond’s thigh.  The skin felt like silk underwater.

 

Then, because it was killing him that Cloud truly was going to mind his own business, Genesis blurted, “It was degradation.”

 

Cloud didn’t move and didn’t say anything, so Genesis continued, “There was a training accident.  It was just a scratch.  But it never healed.”  He reached up to trace the edge of the scarring.  “My Soul broken and shattered

Wallows in agony

To defy shadows and return to glory

To seek eternal rest.

 

The skin felt bumpy under his touch, even after so many years.  He closed his eyes, banishing the sight of miscoloured flesh, though it still burned far too bright in his memory.  The words stuck in his throat as though covered in barbs, but he swallowed, and forced himself to continue.  He was not so weak as to be defeated by memories.

 

“I was dying.  Wasting away.  I tried everything, but nothing would work.  I was trapped in a slow march towards death.”  His voice sounded too loud, echoing harshly of the bathroom tiles. 

 

“…Until the Goddess gave me a second chance.”

 

The words rested heavily between them.  Genesis had never spoken them aloud before, never described degradation so plainly.  It made him feel far more exposed than a lack of clothing ever could.

 

For a long moment, neither of them moved or spoke.  Just sat there in the steaming bath, the only sound being the gentle movement of water and soft draw of breath.

 

Cloud was the one to finally break the silence.  "...Did you ever hear about Geostigma?"

 

"You mentioned it, in passing," Genesis replied, leaning forward until his chin nearly rested on the other’s shoulder.  His fingers trailed across his companion’s stomach, eliciting a delightful shudder.  "A terminal disease that spread through the population two years ago.  An auto-immune response to Jenova's taint.  Though a cure was eventually found."

 

"A lot of people died first."  By contrast, Cloud’s voice barely stirred the air, the words were so soft.  "It was... it was an ugly way to go.  Painful.  Messy.  No one was sure if it was contagious, and people were scared of it.  They wouldn’t… they wouldn’t even touch someone with it."  His tone turned dark.  “Kids would collapse in the street, and no one would help them up.”

 

“It sounds similar to degradation,” Genesis commented.  “Were they related?”

 

“The symptoms were different, but the root cause was the same.  Things in the body that didn’t belong there.”

 

Genesis’s breath hitched, and he suddenly understood where this story was going.  “You-”

 

Cloud settled his weight back against Genesis’s chest.  “Yeah.”

 

His arm, Genesis recalled.  Cloud had a habit of occasionally clutching his arm, as though expecting it to hurt.

 

The gesture had seemed oddly familiar to him when he saw it.  Now he knew why.

 

Genesis reached up, almost reverently, and ran his fingers across the bicep, where he’d seen Cloud grab it in the past.  The blond went perfectly still under his touch, like a nervous chocobo unused to having its feathers brushed.

 

The skin was smooth, almost unnaturally so.  Nothing like the tangled mess of scarring left by degradation.

 

So they sat there in the steaming bath, skin against skin, baring their scars, physical and metaphorical, to each other. 

 

It was oddly intimate, in many ways far more so than their earlier coupling.  It seemed amazing that someone else could understand that slow, poisonous march towards death.  That someone else knew the pain of being used and thrown away and thoroughly betrayed by ShinRa, that someone else had lost years of their life to it.

 

That his pain was not so unique soothed his temper.

 

For several minutes, they lounged in the bath quietly, content to simply sit and be close.  The water was lovely, and there was no particular rush to indulge in other activities just yet.

 

Genesis hummed low in his throat, and began to murmur,

 

As the beast awakens, the Hero sets out

Chosen by the Goddess, loved and forsaken

An oath unfulfilled

 

He trusts in the Shadow

And finds light in the abyss

 

The lovers share an oath

Though their hearts are filled with doubt.

 

Cloud shifted against him.  “Is that your way of trying to get some sort of sappy confession out of me?”

 

Genesis scoffed.  “Please.  I am already well aware that you have all the romance of a tonberry.”

 

“Not a good analogy,” Cloud muttered.  “You’ve obviously never killed a tonberry’s mate.”

 

Genesis paused.  That was a somewhat terrifying prospect.  “Why by the Goddess would you do that?”  And for that matter, he’d never actually considered how tonberries reproduced.  It was a mental image he could have lived without.

 

“I didn’t have a choice at the time!” Cloud defended.

 

Huffing with laughter, Genesis slid deeper into the water, bringing his companion down with him.  He trailed a hand over the edge of the tub, lazily observing the way the water dripped from his fingertips.  “So, Cloud Strife, while I may be enjoying this, it seems pertinent to ask - what are you going to do now?”

 

There was a long silence as his companion carefully considered his answer, but Genesis was used to that by now. 

 

“Lay low for a couple of days,” Cloud eventually decided.  “Until the heat dies down.”

 

A wise approach.  After a few days, ShinRa would be forced to scale back the resources dedicated to hunting him.  They couldn’t spare the manpower indefinitely, and once a trail grew cold the expenditure became wasteful.  Genesis had utilised that pattern to great effect in the past.

 

That he would undoubtedly benefit from such downtime was merely a bonus.

 

“And then?” Genesis prompted.

 

“…I’m going to find the clone,” Cloud replied.  “After that… we’ll see.”

 






Next chapter




Comments

( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
ratzels
Oct. 6th, 2012 06:49 am (UTC)
I'm all squiggly with delight over them wrestling like the overgrown boys they are, and trading stories about scars. And the image of Cloud being as relentlessly romantic as a tonberry is terrifying in its probability.

Now that they're all comfy, cuddly, and well-laid...is Genesis ever going to stop calling Cloud by his full name?
sinnatious
Oct. 6th, 2012 07:24 am (UTC)
<3 I kind of just wrote that sentence without thinking initially, then immediately thought 'actually, tonberries are probably pretty damn romantic'. Now I have creepy head!canon where their lanterns carry the souls of their lost loves. :(

Heh, I didn't really consider Genesis's use of full names to be deliberately distancing so much as a verbal affectation. So... probably not? XD
kotoshin
Oct. 8th, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
XD yeah, Genesis' the type to ENJOY enunciating names for people he likes. If he doesn't LIKE you, he probably doesn't even remember you by name! "HEY YOU" comes to mind.

One more thing (geh I'm wordy and overanalyzing):
I'd been going over Angeal's characterization/background lately and had come to a VERY unhappy realization about Genesis.
While Genesis /had/ been betrayed by Shinra, he's not entirely guilt-free of doing the same to others, as well. Case in point - Mass SOLDIER Desertion incident.

If I recall correctly, in game it actually says Genesis made off with at least a THIRD of the active SOLDIER roster, from 1sts to 3rds. With THAT amount of SOLDIER involved (given Gen's degradation = not being in peak form), I find it HIGHLY unlikely that they'd left involuntarily, either strucked down by status spells or drugged. (plus, transportation! How did Hollander and Genesis manage to get them all to Banora without SOME SOLDIER support?)

To give Genesis credit, they probably didn't REALIZE Clones would degrade faster than the original at first, and if the deserter-SOLDIERs had done it voluntarily (Genesis waxing his eloquent charm in rabble-rousing as opposed to flaying apart someone's psyche), it's also highly likely they were fans of Genesis' - and ... well. Cough, we see how crazy fans and cosplayers can be, and it's possible they even JUMPED at the chance of becoming close to their idol/acquiring his skills/strength.

(cuz ... judging by the clones you battle, Genesis can ambidextrously wield twin scimitars/giant scythe + staff/gunblade - moves like a kickboxing master .... )

It'd be only later, when there isn't the resources to REVERSE the process - that they'd realize the side effects. By then Genesis isn't thinking too clearly himself, due to Degradation - my headcanon has his thought process something along the lines of "Not wasting their sacrifice", plus since the hope for his cure involved genetic therapy, he's likely tested out modifications he'd have wanted in himself.

*points at the G Devestator + related Clones* http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090331022303/finalfantasy/images/b/b8/G_Devastator_Artwork.jpg
Gen, you been secretly pinning that you're not /quite/ as buff as the other SOLDIERs?

(And all that came out me trying to reason out WHY Angeal Copies were all non-human. And why Angeal didn't try to save the other deserters - because given his temperament, I figured he'd have at least taught some of them and even knew them by name. orz. )

AnyhOW, my point was, if Cloud ever REMEMBERED enough from Zack-memories or his own, of the Genesis + Clones - their relationship's due for a major strain. Since, even if he hadn't INTENDED to, at first, Genesis did essentially betray faithful followers in the same manner Shinra did him. (and judging by the /degree/ of that assault on Midgar, at least 500+ SOLDIERs. Oh Gen.)
ratzels
Oct. 13th, 2012 02:34 am (UTC)
You've actually summed up quite nicely the reasons I quite detest canon Genesis. He's every bit as bad as Hojo and Hollander when it comes to ruthlessly destroying lives. Sephiroth tried to kill everyone, Angeal abandoned everyone and forced someone who loved him to kill him, but Genesis actively betrayed the trust of hundreds of people and destroyed them down to their very identity. And he was rewarded for said behavior.

Nope, not even remotely a fan of canon!Gen.
kotoshin
Oct. 6th, 2012 07:00 am (UTC)
*squees* oho! So I'm not the only one who'd thought about field/hygiene uses of Fire/Ice or Fire/Water spells!

Now all Cloud needs to make Genesis' cosmetics ensemble complete is an Aero/Wind materia to help him blow-dry. XDDD

>“Not a good analogy,” Cloud muttered. “You’ve obviously never killed a tonberry’s mate.”

AHAHAHAHAH, enroute down the Northern Crater? FFVII had been my first FF game, and I'd been TERRIFIED of Tonberries ever since - gave me quite an 'aww' playing Crisis Core and Zax having such an easy time of it smacking them around. XDDD
sinnatious
Oct. 6th, 2012 07:30 am (UTC)
<3! I love investigating non-battle use of materia. Glad I'm not the only one. LOL at Aero/Wind!

XD That was interesting with Crisis Core how easy the tonberries were in comparison to FFVII! Although maybe that was just because the tonberries there didn't get stronger based on the enemies killed. (Can grudges be transferred? Did being Zack's legacy mean Cloud had to take on the Tonberries' grudges, too?)
kotoshin
Oct. 6th, 2012 02:43 pm (UTC)
yeah, I have a slight headcanon of Sephiroth and Genesis both having "appropriated" experimental/non-mass-producing/non-manufacturaable aero/water material for field hygiene. Cuz .. given lab upbringing, Seph's probably more finicky about cleaniness than most.

And headcanon Genesis threatened Urban Development employees to rig him a portable shower with his water/fire materia combo. Cuz, with mako energy/materia-related technology so rampant in ff7 world, SOMEONE's bound to think of it. XD

(My headcanon Genesis is a very spoiled creature, and I tend to see the Rhapsodos as major shareholders in Shinra stock to be so rich/influential in getting Genesis perks and fund his self-splitting fanclubs.
Also, he's /actually/ related to his parents, and Project G was the only way they could have a child due to some medical issue/infertility, and test tube babies/genetic mod-therapy was ALL concentrated in Project Jenova and related projects ...)


Huh, if it's transferrable - I'd read a take on which Cloud's not only a Sephiroth Clone, but a Zack Copy as well, which explains the memory tranference/identity assumption even more.

In addition to trying 16.5 Genesis-side, also doing a fluffy!everyonelivees!OT5 AU that diverges from canon early on during Wutai War, before Zax (canonically by CC ultimania timeline, leaves Gongaga for Midgar at the age of TWELVE) goes into SOLDIER.

So been thinking a LOT about FF7 world background/setup - I'm actually WONDERING if Gi Tribe wasn't one of the last Cetra Clans left, to be able to stay DISTINCT from Lifestream assimilation for 50+ some years before Bugahagen asked you to clear them out.

Also, SETO. He's still alive, also kinda figures it's possible to SAVE him - just incredibally time consuming/persistent constance + faith required to do so. Without a Super!Soft recipe like in ix (and even then, Blank had NOT been petrified for years), what if you NEEDED to set him free was NOT only someone able to cast DePetrify FAITHFULLLY 1/day, for EACH day Seto was petrified (which means STAYING at Cosmo Canyon for that long/living that long, and can't switch for fear of changing spell potency or sth) as well as a Healer!type like Aerith to give him emergency healing as soon as he's released? (just look at him, he's RIDDLED with spears even as stone!)

I kinda get the feeling it's not they don't know how to free Seto, it's that there's no resources/time post Gi-Tribe (which must've a lot of wounded) to care for him, and it's just dragged on. Guy needs to be sent off to the Lifestream instead of in that quasi-aware limbo. orz
sinnatious
Oct. 7th, 2012 11:08 am (UTC)
That is an interesting idea about the Gi Tribe, but if so they were surely a perversion of the Cetra. Still, could be a fun plot point to play with!

And yes, I did sort of wonder why they didn't use a Soft on Seto! I did like that about FF9, game mechanics were woven a little more into the story. FF7 is apparently notoriously bad at it! (Nothing we can't solve with a bit of creative workaround though, as you have shown. :))
kotoshin
Oct. 8th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
Given how much of a warrior-culture they seemed, I think it's safe to assume they were probably a branch that didn't do too well with the lifestream manipulation/planet conversation aspect of Cetra. Else they'd have been up north with most of the others to lock Jenova up.

(I hung around the chinese ff7 fandom message boards, too, and there's a rather interesting fan theory about Jenova as a viral lifeform - that it's a mass-consciousness that continually seeks to reform/'reunite' aka "reunion" into the most powerful form of all its 'hosts' - hence why in FF7 compilation it's now Sephiroth who's hijacked the J-cells and is calling all the shots. )

This is a bit into headcanon territory now - I'd always assumed that the reason the Cetra didn't completely wipe Jenova was because they couldn't - if they did, they'd have incorporated Jenova into the Lifestream (and we saw what happened with Geostigma in AC) and made it WORSE. So it wasn't until Gast dug Jenova up (and with Hojo later injecting her into SOLDIER members) that she started getting active - I mean, being asleep/sealed up for 2000+ish years must be a heck of a slow wakeup process.

My main problem with trying to solve Seto-as-a-rock is that he's been that way for YEARS, unlike Blank, where it was months at most. Which means saving him and keeping him intact would have been a lot more complex. (altho given BC's batshit plot with Dineh, Cosmo Canyon seems to be well versed in stasis/preservation techniques, and the stone-status did seem to be the only viable 'preservation' technique for Seto, if they were THAT short on healers and medicine.)

And what on Gaia exactly, is Red's species? They're not Cetra, but they /can/ hear the planet and is also considered Guardians of the Planet as a people. They also seemed to have lived with the Cosmo Canyon humans in a sort of happy symbiosis, banding together against the Gi Tribe.

Were they originally some sort of servitor/companion race to the Cetra, and post Jenova, with most of the more spiritually aware Cetra 'gone', so the Gi Tribe were attacking Cosmo Canyon to try and get them back?

I tend to go by the view that there are very /few/ true villains, just different viewpoints that lead to conflict, as there is in real life. :/

EDIT: I mean, irl history there's PLENTY of examples in which misunderstandings not cleared up in time + loss of life in initial conflict turn into massive grudges/blood feuds. (like the TIMING for dropping a-bomb on Hiroshima. The language officiated by the Emperor was ambiguous enough that USA dropped a 2nd shortly after.) Sometimes ppl don't even REMEMBER why, and just keep up the insanity. (*coughHatfield-McCoycough*)

Edited at 2012-10-08 03:11 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous)
Oct. 9th, 2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
Also in game Hojo thinks he can breed Nanaki with Aerith, which I always thought insane. But it would support the theory that Nanaki's people are kind of Cetra or at last compatible with Cetra.
zerrat
Oct. 6th, 2012 07:17 am (UTC)
Aww man, probably my favourite chapter so far! All the amazing details in how you portray the Cloud/Genesis relationship just makes this all work so well, whether it is wrestling, discussions on materia or trading war stories. I particularly like how they can relate as ex-experiments and don't need to talk on these matters, because they both understand and have been there before.

Very interested in the fic and Neo-ShinRa's next move, and if they'll cause more problems soon.

Also, I think I might have died of squee when Nanaki thought about how Genesis tore out of the church to go save Cloud. Loved it.
sinnatious
Oct. 6th, 2012 07:32 am (UTC)
Thanks! I angsted over this chapter a lot so it's rewarding to hear that. ^_^
firedraygon97
Oct. 6th, 2012 07:28 am (UTC)
Hee, I agree with zerrat's comment about Gen rushing out. I can just see him stopping once he finally spotted Cloud, ducking into an alley to fix his hair, and then strolling out again like a movie star. XD

Possessive!Gen! I like! I almost worry about what he's going to do to Tifa whenever they get to meet.

I think my favourite bit of this chapter was Nanaki noting how he, Vincent, and Cloud had a deeper bond as past Hojo victims. Experiment-buddies gotta stick together!!
sinnatious
Oct. 6th, 2012 07:34 am (UTC)
Should be an interesting meeting, I'm writing that part at the moment so hopefully it will live up to expectation.

<3 That's an incredibly depressing club to be a member of, but I figure the bond is all the stronger for it.
caterfree10
Oct. 6th, 2012 07:35 am (UTC)
GAWD GENESIS, YOU ARE SO DAMN NAUGHTY. I LOVE WHERE YOUR BRAIN GOES, BB. <3

I love that Nanaki (mentally) brings up how being in Hojo's "care" has a certain affect on someone. Like, being a sentient experiment like that of Hojo's work cannot be a good experience at all. It's something that changes you and only those who've been through something similar can get that. The majority of Avalanche has had no such experience and as such don't really get Cloud's primal fear of being cooped up. Nanaki and Vincent do and Genesis would too. It's a shame there isn't more fic between any of those four because I'd definitely love more exploring of that unique connection.

And the feather, holy shit. It's gonna be interesting when they eventually learn the truth of the feather's origins (bc lbr, it's gonna happen and I so cannot wait, negl). Until then, the clone story continues to thicken even with it being untrue. GAH, CLONEY NEEDS TO POP UP SOON ASFKJHDSLKJFHSDLK

asfhkjsdaflkjfhakjsl oh muh god the whole scar discussion, I can't aslfhlshalasldf I just love it oh so much and I love the comparison between Geostigma and Degredation AND CAN I JUST MARRY THIS SCENE? IS THAT A THING? BECAUSE I REALLY LOVE IT OKAY ASFLKJDSHFLKJDHSFLKJSD *FLAILS*

...oh jesus fuck, the mere thought of killing a tonberry's mate kind of fucking terrifies me, negl. O_0;;;; *curls under blankets*

Also, practical uses of magic make me so damn happy in so many ways, I swear to god. <3 I blame Harry Potter entirely and always crave more in every fandom that has magic forever WHY MORE FANDOMS DON'T CAPITALIZE THIS SHIT I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND. *sob*

IS IT NEXT WEEK YET? *FLAILS*

ETA: ... *stares at length of comment* It is past 3am wtf is my brain doing askjlfhdslkjhf *slinks off to bed* I CLEARLY HAVE ENTIRELY TOO MANY FEELS

Edited at 2012-10-06 07:39 am (UTC)
sinnatious
Oct. 6th, 2012 07:45 am (UTC)
Heh heh, this is a great comment, don't apologise! Thank you! XD (Also why are you up so late?! D:)

I think there's actually a fair bit of fic surrounding Vincent and Cloud on that matter, but Nanaki tends to get a bit forgotten? Maybe because we don't get as many details or hints about what went on, but he did lose his eye in that period which had to be pretty traumatic.

Also, yes! That was one of the things that made the Harry Potter universe so amazing was the use of magic in mundane and practical matters, it's such a lovely bit of world-building. I don't know why other magic-related fandoms so frequently ignore it, but I'm determined to do my small part to change it! *fist pump* <3
caterfree10
Oct. 6th, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
lmao, this is a common occurance when I either A, have no work the next day or B, don't have work 'til 3pm or later (don't go in 'til 5 today, whoo~ \o/). I have a nasty habit of staying up late reading fic and/or talking to friends and not shutting up. |D;;;;

Yeah, though those fics tend to be shippy as well and Vincent/Cloud's not usually my thing so I don't seek it out too often. And I think the reason Nanaki's often left out of these fics is because he's such a vastly different character. Add to the fact that a lot of non-humanoid characters don't get a lot of fic dedicated to them when there are bishies to ship and Nanaki gets shafted a lot. :/ and I am terrible and not helping this at all ouo;;

IKR? Like, there are plenty of fandoms where it's certainly possible. Hell, I don't know why CCS fandom doesn't do it that often, especially because Clow (in the anime anyway) made The Bubble card for fucking bathing Cerberus! And The Sweet for making, well, sweets! REALLY, CCS FANDOM, Y'ALL ARE MISSING OPPORTUNITY. *SOB*
sinnatious
Oct. 7th, 2012 11:13 am (UTC)
RE: NANAKI IN FICS, I WILL FIX THIS SOMEHOW. THIS IS MY SOLEMN PROMISE. :|

LOL, bathing Cerebus! Yes, it always frustrated me that Sakura didn't abuse her magical powers even in canon! Aside from Jump and Fly, of course, which are used everywhere.
caterfree10
Oct. 8th, 2012 12:17 am (UTC)
AWWWW YEAHHHH Can't wait, tbh. <3

Well, you also have to think, she couldn't exactly advertise she had magical powers. Though I'd like to image that after she grew up, she was able to become as recognized a magician as Clow was and didn't have to hide her powers (well, barring TRC, but, uh, that series kind of fucked over a lot of my post-CCS headcanon, much as I love it, so ;;).
love_michiyuki
Oct. 6th, 2012 11:58 am (UTC)
Wow, absolutely amazing chapter!

I'd even go so far as to say my favourite so far!

Love the Tonberry analogy ♥
And Nanaki's we're-all-victims-of-Hojo loyalty.
And the refined use of Materia.
And of course the whole Genesis/Cloud interaction!

Though This was the mark Sephiroth had left. made me think I'd really love to read a story now where Genesis is a bit psycho and keeps cutting Cloud up because he doesn't want to be second to Sephiroth in any way. Damn I'm mean :(

I hope Genesis and Cloud will relax for a bit while they can.
sinnatious
Oct. 6th, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Heh, hopefully haven't jumped the shark.

The story was actually perilously close to going down that route at one point but I decided to go a slightly nicer/less disturbing route. If you've ever read mako_kitten's work though I seem to recall her Genesis was uber-possessive/psychotic like that, maybe that will scratch your itch?
skibalovesya
Oct. 6th, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC)
I'm just gonna drop one little comment and leave a more... put-together one later.

But now that they're in the proper timeline and the water's still there, Cloud can just bring Genesis to Aerith's little fountain pond thing and heal off the rest of the degradation tumorlump, right?

(Also I'm with Genesis. There are now tonberries humping each other in my head. x_x)
sinnatious
Oct. 7th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC)
Ah, well, it's just scarring? Not tumorlumps or anything, the degradation is already gone. I didn't really see the water as being magically cosmetic fountain-of-youth stuff.

Oh dear, the mental image spreads! XD
azardarkstar
Oct. 6th, 2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
My inner fangirl just went SQUEE!!! Seriously. :)

I love Genesis here. Fire and Ice materia to take a bath. He would SO do that. I could actually see Sephiroth doing it, too. But he'd never admit it out loud. Genesis just doesn't care to be ashamed. And of course, he has to primp.

As for Nanaki, he would definitely understand. He, Vincent, and Cloud have a very strong bond. Not just for being experiments. But for not being human. Not really. They see the world differently. And for all Tifa is compassionate, she is still selfish enough to never see that. Aeris did. But she's not really human either.

Anyway, I'm glad that Nanaki realized how isolated Cloud was before but that he has Genesis now. And really, flying monkeys and Jenova reborn couldn't drag him away. Though I do wonder how the rest of AVALANCHE will react. Much less the Turks.

Finally, I happen to find tonberries to be cute. In a very homicidal sort of way. Just like Vincent! Heh.

Edited at 2012-10-06 02:35 pm (UTC)
sinnatious
Oct. 7th, 2012 01:24 am (UTC)
Hey, it would be incredibly useful on a mission! And they both would have to keep their hair fabulous.

Heh, they are! Even though I find them very scary in the games, they're really my favourite FF monster. They're so mysterious! Also like Vincent. The tonberry is Vincent's spirit animal?
ynyuki
Oct. 6th, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
I love Saturdays. <3

The whole atmosphere from the beginning till the middle of the chapter is unsettling XD Cloudy's having fun while the meanies are stressing over the runaway 8D

Gen, your ego has twice the size of the Earth x) But we love you anyways <3

Lovely chapter!
sinnatious
Oct. 7th, 2012 01:26 am (UTC)
<3 Who doesn't?

Heh, I did feel a bit guilty on Cloud's behalf because *priorities*, but he's earned the break.

Thank you!
killiara
Oct. 7th, 2012 05:09 am (UTC)
Hehehehe.

I'm suddenly picturing when the WRO catch up, they enter the abandoned theater to find Genesis and Cloud mid-kiss, and everyone's jaws just DROP, complete with Genesis going, "Do you MIND?" and the Turks leaving to give them privacy before it kicks in what they saw and these are the people they should be capturing.
sinnatious
Oct. 7th, 2012 11:14 am (UTC)
XD ...I want to write this scene now, but it doesn't fit in with the outline at all. *REGRET*
killiara
Oct. 7th, 2012 04:49 pm (UTC)
Maybe write it up in a way that plays up the humor, and include it at the end as an Omake?
reighost
Oct. 7th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
Cold almost gone!
Yay for such an awesome last two chapters! (making up for my little review last chapter)I loved how Genesis is so gleeful over his new playmate, now he has someone he can love, hug and call George! XP
I love how you're balancing it all with bittersweet moments, it's not just yay!slash, there are moments where things are painful where Cloud does that Sephiroth mimic thing with remembering loveless and the touching moments with the scars... pun not intended! *blush*
Also loled at the Tonberrys, god when i first ran into one i was all, "Ah ha it's so small, how easy is this going to be! Aww it's so cute! It's such a shame i have to kill it... why isnt it dying? ... WTF! WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT KILLED MY PARTY! o_O
Tonberry romance for the win!
You know i have a theory about why tonberrys were so easy to kick around in CC, that was before the planet was actively trying to eradicate the threat Sephiroth was posing and eventually resorting to WEAPONS... thus, poor Avalanche and the generations afterwards have to deal with Mako-crazed super-monsters that would have had CC SOLDIER 1st's running for their mama's (barring Sephiroth/Angeal/Genesis)
Really puts how strong everyone in Avalanche became into perspective. You even see a glimpse of this when you run into soldiers when in shinra tower. How easy was it to swat those guys around?

Edited at 2012-10-07 06:23 pm (UTC)
sinnatious
Oct. 8th, 2012 01:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Cold almost gone!
Hahaha Square has a storied history of 'adorable' equalling 'actually really terrifying'. Cactuars, anyone? Or the horrible horrible things they pulled on us in the Seiken Densetsu series, where they take the most benign, common adorable enemy in the game, change its colour scheme, and suddenly it is the devil incarnate. *cough Black Rabite cough*

Also yes, I like that theory and think it holds a lot of water! I think there were also actually some comments in the game how mako pollution was also making the monsters crazy.

I do kind of wish they'd balanced the enemy levels a little more with the SOLDIER encounters though - like you say, they were pretty easy to knock around, even the First Classes, how much cooler if you actually freaked a little bit whenever you ran into one instead of just the usual ShinRa troop?
darkbombayangel
Oct. 8th, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
I love the chapter! I also love a possive Genesis!! ^_^
sinnatious
Oct. 9th, 2012 11:01 am (UTC)
Thanks! Who doesn't love a possessive Genesis, really.
kotoshin
Oct. 9th, 2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
I think the question should be "When is Genesis NOT possessive?" XD
(Anonymous)
Jan. 1st, 2013 05:26 am (UTC)
I kind of ran out of steam in my commenting, but it was because I was too busy hitting "Next chapter" over and over and over to stop. Still loving this!
sinnatious
Jan. 1st, 2013 05:27 am (UTC)
LOL, wait, are you re-reading it already? XD I thought it was a different anon doing the re-reading!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 2nd, 2013 02:45 am (UTC)
I'm the same one! (I think)

I didn't comment on every entry as I went the first time around, so I left a few more.

Yes, I am re-reading already. XD
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )

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