Title: Brightest Blue Eyes
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Cloud, Sephiroth, OFC, others mentioned
Rating: MA overall
Summary: "You told me to bring you back a souvenir!"
Notes: This was written in January 2003 and basically is one of the cornerstones of this site. It has been edited, re/coded and everything else since, but is still very... 'back then'. Before all the new canon.
"Angel? You up? I'm home!" Pretty called, running into the kitchen in the back of the house.
She stopped short in the doorway. He was sitting in a corner of the large kitchen, hair bound back at the shoulder, nothing on but pajama bottoms, pouring over unending pages of re-order forms and reservations. But hearing a familiar voice he stood and turned, just in time to see Pretty bounding into the doorway.
"Angel!" she yelled and ran at him. He scooped her up into a tight hug that lifted her an inch off the ground. Once she was back on her own two feet, the questions began.
"Pretty, what are you doing back already? I wasn't expecting you for another couple weeks. What are you wearing? You didn't get into trouble, did you? You didn't come back because..."
"Angel, it's all fine," Pretty said, excited. "I didn't really get into any trouble. I saw so many places too! Oh, the outfit isn't mine, but my clothes were all dirty so... Wait! That's not important. See..."
She paused. Green Mako eyes were practically dissecting her as she searched for the right way to explain everything.
Luckily, she didn't have to.
They both turned to look at the doorway. Cloud was standing there, eyes wide.
He'd been holding one of his favorite swords, the vicious looking Organics. Damned thing was near lethal to look at. It clattered to the floor a second later as Mako eyes met.
"You told me to bring you back a souvenir!" Pretty said quickly. She didn't figure either man heard her though, as they continued staring at each other, mouths open but silent.
Neither could believe their eyes. And neither wanted to make the first move.
"Sephiroth," Cloud said again, making sure his brain understood that yes, it was Sephiroth standing in front of him - wearing nothing but pajama bottoms, his brain quickly noted. Cloud drank the site of the man in. Sephiroth had actually managed to get a bit of a tan - probably as much as his skin was capable of. But the long silver hair was still there, longer now than ever. The green Mako eyes that shone even in the daytime were drinking Cloud in too.
Without another second's hesitation, Cloud crossed the room in one leap.
"You're alive..." And he couldn't say anything else, his face was buried against Sephiroth's neck as Sephiroth pulled Cloud into a tight embrace.
"Cloud, I..." The great general was at a loss for words too.
"What the hell is going on? Cloud!"
It was Tifa, standing in the doorway, looking like she was precariously straddling the line between unamused and just horribly confused.
"Tifa, stupid..." Cid came skidding up behind Tifa. His mouth dropped open at the sight of the still hugging Sephiroth and Cloud. Cloud had shifted slightly to gaze at the intruders, but hadn't let go.
Right on cue, a second later Vincent joined the group in the doorway.
"Hello, Sephiroth. You seem to be doing well for yourself," he said, grabbing firmly onto Tifa with both hands.
"Let me go! He' might have Cloud under his mind control again! Let me go..." Tifa cried, trying to squirm free.
"I need a fucking cigarette," Cid said, not wanting anything more to do with anything going on that didn't involve his cargo runs. He turned and walked back towards the front door. "If I hear anyone dying, I'll be back."
Sephiroth looked a little confused. Cloud looked mortified. Pretty was... gone. No one had noticed the woman sneak off, but in a split second, she'd vanished.
"Cid! This isn't right! Come back!" Tifa kept struggling until she was hit by a strange greenish light. Going limp suddenly, Vincent almost dropped her, but instead let her slide gently to the kitchen floor.
"Where did that...?" Cloud began, as he broke away from Sephiroth to figure out who the rogue spellcaster was. Before he could finish his question, Vincent stepped aside to allow Pretty back into the kitchen.
"I hope she'll be a little calmer when she wakes up. It wasn't a strong spell," Pretty said, stepping over both Tifa and Cloud's discarded sword. She was holding a mid-sized sword of her own, complete with dual materia slots.
"Good aim," Sephiroth said, unable to hid a smile as he walked to where Cloud was standing. "Now I just need to know exactly what's happening. Obviously Pretty managed to locate you, but who are all these..."
Sephiroth had glanced over towards Vincent, who was attempting to hide in the hallway. "Wait... You're real!"
Vincent looked somewhat shocked. He didn't answer.
Putting a hand to his head, Sephiroth quickly walked back over to the kitchen table and sat down. "This is too much for one morning."
A moment later, Cloud was standing inches behind Sephiroth, about to ask if he could do anything.
"You remember me?" It was Vincent, walking fully into the kitchen.
"No. Yes. I never thought..." Sephiroth began. He shook his head and didn't turn away from the table. "Even in the throes of madness I thought you were just a hallucination brought forth to torment me."
"Hojo thought you were getting too close to me. It's part of why he sealed me away," Vincent explained. "Cloud and his friends saved me from myself."
"Hojo told me you were a figment of my imagination. An invisible friend from an overactive mind. If I'd known the truth I would have... What would I have done? I..." Sephiroth put his head in his hands again.
"Angel?" Pretty set her sword down on the counter - in her haste she'd not even grabbed its sheath.
Sephiroth took a quick glance at the woman before letting his head sink further towards the table. "And you probably know everything, don't you? What must you think of me?"
"I think there's an unconscious woman on the kitchen floor and Yuki will be here any minute to cook breakfast for the guests," Pretty replied. "And an overabundance of swords. I'll grab those. Vincent, can you carry Tifa upstairs to my room?"
Vincent nodded, and retrieved Tifa from the floor as Pretty grabbed both her sword and Cloud's. "This way," she said, marching down the hallway towards the stairs.
The room was silent for a couple moments until Cloud placed an unsure hand on Sephiroth's shoulder.
"I wanted to make sure you were still real. The last twenty-four hours have been a little strange," Cloud said, pulling himself a chair. "So... um..." He was unconsciously tangling his fingers together, lost for words.
Sephiroth reached over and put a hand over Cloud's hands. "Why don't you tell me just how Pretty tracked you down? And maybe work backwards from there?"
Cloud nodded. "My friend, Tifa, the one who was just causing the scene, she owns a bar in Nibelheim. Last night - no, the night before..." Cloud's train of thought was momentarily lost as Sephiroth lightly rubbed a thumb against one of his hands.
"Go on. I'm glad you were where I thought you might be," Sephiroth said, smiling lightly. Their eyes met again. Green cat's eyes, thought Cloud.
"Well... she was just there, eating and drinking. And Tifa and I were talking and Pretty said something and we started talking. She mentioned needing to find someone, so I said I'd help. She talked about my eyes... her eyes... she said..." Blue eyes closed as their owner struggled to find the exact way it was phrased. "She said I had the brightest eyes she'd seen since she left home. You."
"Your eyes are even brighter that I remember," Sephiroth said, reaching over so both his hands could stroke Cloud's. "They shone so bright after that first Mako treatment. Remember?"
"You were there too. And I was about to pass out. You carried me back to my room, over your shoulder. I remember fading in and out... and then I realized where I was!" Cloud said, smiling. "I spent the next, what, five minutes hoping not to throw up on your ass."
"I still would have watched over you even if you had." Sephiroth pulled Cloud's hands up from the table and to his lips, kissing over each finger.
"I... Any... way..."
Gently, Sephiroth set Cloud's hands back on the table. "Please, continue. Pretty asked you to help her find someone, and then?"
"I had to break up a fight and she vanished. She appeared again the next day, a little worse for wear - slept in an alley with her chocobo. Tifa fed her, and she pulled out this envelope with a set of rather frightening instructions."
"I didn't know what you're reaction would be," Sephiroth said. "I'm guessing she did something horribly clumsy and forgot all her combat skills. She shouldn't have been caught so easily."
"Combat? You trained her to..." Cloud pulled his hands away.
"Nothing like that," Sephiroth said, reaching out a questing hand. "Just survival. And with the lifestream here, we get Mako monsters. She's been trained to destroy them. You saw her a couple minutes ago, with... Tifa. That other materia is a high level lightning she's had for over a year. Yet she chose a light sleep spell."
"Sorry... I didn't mean that I thought you'd train her to... be..." Cloud looked embarrassed as he offered out his right hand to Sephiroth.
"I can understand why you'd still be nervous." Mako green cat's eyes looked away for a long moment. "So Pretty didn't put up a fight when you captured her? I find that hard to believe."
"When I my name on the letter, I recognized your handwriting. I yelled for Tifa to stop her but she ran out of the bar. You'll have to ask her for the details of that. I just kept reading the letter until Tifa and Vincent came back. Vincent's been watching out for her ever since. He's like that... But anyway, when they got back, Pretty looked like she'd been run over by a flock of chocobos. I asked her about you, and she said you were a wonderful person. And there was a bit more in there... We came straight here in the Highwind. It belongs to Cid, the walking vulgarity."
"Bossman?" A questioning voice came from across the kitchen. Its owner was a young man with short black hair. His accent was thick like Pretty's, but a little less understandable.
"Ah, Yuki. I assume you picked up all the breakfast orders?" Sephiroth asked, not letting go of Cloud's hand.
Yuki nodded. "Was that Miss Pretty I saw outside heading towards town? Isn't she gone to the continents?"
"Pretty's come home and brought some friends. I'll introduce you later, after you're done for the morning."
"Sure thing, Angel. You want me to make you anything?" Yuki said, turning on burners on the large stove.
"Not right now. Cloud?"
Cloud shook his head.
"We'll leave you to cook, Yuki. Come this way, Cloud, we can sit in the parlor," Sephiroth said, standing. He dropped Cloud's hand in order to grab the paperwork and quickly shuffled it into one pile.
Cloud followed Sephiroth down the hallway. On the walls hung photos of the resort - some of tourists and some of the employees. A grinning Pretty stood in a couple of them.
"Sorry we were interrupted. Yuki is a native of Mideel and an excellent cook. We do breakfast in the morning and light snacks during the day. But there are wonderful restaurants in town that I don't want to compete with."
Cloud couldn't help laughing. "This is too much - you really are the Sephiroth I knew. But now, you're..."
"A stodgy old businessman. Boring. It's a different kind of a challenge, but.." Sephiroth was cut off quickly as Cloud grabbed his arm.
"No. You seem really happy. I don't think I ever have seen you this relaxed, or happy, except when we..."
"When we were together." Green eyes sparkled. "The parlor is right through those glass doors."
Cloud let go of the silver-haired angel long enough to swing open one of the etched glass double doors. Beyond was more of an enclosed patio than a parlor. Fish swam in a large tank and exotic plants were everywhere. Wicker furniture gave the room a comforting touch. Sephiroth quickly set down his paperwork on a table next to the door and followed a wide-eyed Cloud inside.
"So do you hate me?"
Cloud turned quickly from his visual survey of the room. "What?"
"Do you hate me? I did some horrible things to you."
Cloud shook his head quickly. "I've spent time sorting it all out. Not just the last day either, but before I knew you were still... alive. I sometimes don't feel like any of it was me - like it was all lifetimes ago. I know you weren't in control and that I was... I was like you. It wasn't you who did those things. It..." Cloud reached out for Sephiroth and was drawn into a tight embrace. "I wanted revenge, and I used your name, because I didn't understand then what was controlling you. Us."
Sephiroth reached an arm between them and cupped Cloud's chin in one hand and looked into his eyes. "You still have the brightest blue eyes I've ever seen."
"What is it?"
"Are you sure you don't hate me?"
Sephiroth closed his eyes a moment and shook his head. When he opened them again, he was staring into endless pools of glowing blue. "I can't hate you... not when you..."
"Shhh." Sephiroth put a finger to Cloud's lips. Blue eyes widened and then closed as Cloud savored the touch as the other man ran his finger and then his entire hand down Cloud's face to cup his chin again.
Smiling, Sephiroth watched Cloud respond to him. Eyes closed, lips parted slightly, Cloud stood there, waiting. Sephiroth leaned down and lightly kissed those lips. Gasping, he moved into the kiss, letting Sephiroth deepen it and keep control. It had been so long since the last time they'd kissed. They explored each other's mouths until both were breathless.
When Cloud finally broke the kiss, Sephiroth pulled Cloud tightly to him. "Would you...?"
"Like to try a second chance?" Cloud volunteered, pushing away enough to look up. Sephiroth nodded. "Yes."
"Angel! Where are you? I need to tell you that I got you..." Pretty came peeking around the still closed parlor door. "There you are!" She then realized she was interrupting something major. "I... should... be..."
"Stay," Cloud said, squeezing Sephiroth gently before letting him go. "Sit down."
"Are you sure?" Pretty asked. "I didn't mean to barge in on you!" She put a hand over her face. The other hand held her the bag she'd had traveling.
Sephiroth nodded. "It's fine, Pretty. Cloud and I shouldn't rush anything - we have ten years of catching up to do." He looked at Cloud, who nodded agreement.
Pretty plopped cross-legged on the floor, her bag in her lap. She'd changed out of the crew uniform and was now wearing a light beige t-shirt and long denim shorts. Her feet were bare, but she had a thick cloth anklet with tiny beads covering her left ankle.
Cloud smiled and sat down on a wicker sofa. Sephiroth sat beside him.
"I did bring you a souvenir," Pretty said, pulling things out of the bag. "It's in here somewhere."
"I trust that buying said souvenir left you with enough gil to take care of yourself properly," Sephiroth said, again taking Cloud's hand. He glanced at the blond, who warmly smiled back.
"I got some great deals on great stuff. And I do have gil left," Pretty said, pulling one last piece of clothing from the bag.
"What did you buy?" Sephiroth asked as the woman pulled a lumpy suede sack from the depths of her bag.
"Well Angel, you know how you're always saying there's some materia you can never find here? I got you..." Pretty rummaged around in the bag a minute before procuring a green orb. "It's a time altering materia. I've never seen one, but the lady at the shop in Kalm said it's rare and very powerful after you work with it." She held it out for Sephiroth's approval.
He took it hesitantly. "You spent that much on me?" he asked, looking the sphere over.
"Nope. More! Here!" Another orb joined the first.
"A Destruct," Cloud said softly.
"When you were teaching me to cast spells, I remember you telling me you used to have one." Pretty explained.
"I did, but I don't remember what happened to it," Sephiroth said. "But you can't expect me to keep these. You spent so much on them."
"You're keeping them, Angel. Look what I have now," Pretty was beaming as she showed off orb after orb. "My own Restore, and a Fire, and an Ice! Oh, here's the really cool one I got - Comet! And an All."
"Pretty! What are you going to do with all of these?" Sephiroth asked, almost laughing. The woman's enthusiasm was catching.
"Well, I wanted to use them. Since I couldn't with my sai, I went sword shopping in Junon," Pretty said, eyes glowing excitedly.
"sai?" Cloud asked.
"Yeah, I could have taken Tifa out with them, but they were in my bag." Pretty explained, drawing a pair of deadly looking sai from the sack on her lap. "It would have been too hard to carry my sword on public transportation, so I took the sai with me just in case. Of course, when I caught KooKoo, er, Kooja, I really wished I had a sword."
"I caught a black chocobo - he's in the stables with the others now. He's smart and a racing bird," Pretty continued. "Unless Cloud wants him back?"
"He was one of my old racing birds," Cloud explained when Sephiroth looked over at him. "And he belongs to Pretty now. She caught him and has been caring for him."
"So yeah, in Junon, they had this amazing sword. Four slots, linked twos. And just my size too - kind of like the old Buster Sword I was practicing with, but a little smaller. It's awesome." Pretty looked like a kid in a candy store. "It cost a fortune, but it'll pay for itself with monster bounties!"
"Buster Sword?" Cloud said, incredulously.
"The weapon's shop had one about the time Pretty was learning to destroy monsters," Sephiroth said. "It's purely coincidence that it was the same as SOLDIER used."
"So where's your new sword?" Cloud asked.
"They wouldn't let me take it on the ship to Costa del Sol!" Pretty exclaimed. "So I had it shipped. They said it could take a month or two to end up on a cargo plane here though."
Pretty shrugged. "Oh, and Cloud, Tifa's upstairs in my room asleep. Vincent and Cid went back to the Highwind to, um, figure out what they needed to do to get, um, all their cargo where it needed to go and then come back and take a vacation."
"Hey Bossman!" Yuki called through the house.
"Pretty, why don't you show Cloud around a little while I take care of all the morning necessities?" Sephiroth asked, giving Cloud's hand one last squeeze before relinquishing his grip and standing up. "Not to mention that I need to get dressed at some point."
"Right!" Pretty said. "How many guests do we have, Angel?"
"Only four cabins are occupied. Hikari's all set to take care of the tourists though. You and Cloud relax. You've both had quite an adventure getting here." Before either could protest, Sephiroth was out of the room.
"So..." Cloud said, getting up. "You have a chocobo stable here?"
"Yep," Pretty said, throwing most of her things back into the bag and shoving it under a table. "I'll show you. And I'll show you some of the hot springs. But can I get some more bacon from Yuki first?"
Cloud smiled, and followed the woman out of the room and down the hallway towards a wonderful aroma. After a moment he decided breakfast was a good idea.
"I still can't believe Cloud's going to try to explain everything to Tifa without getting killed," Pretty said, sitting on the railing at the front of the chocobo yard. "At least you took it well."
"I suspected," Vincent replied, surveying the surroundings again.
After breakfast, Vincent appeared at the resort to explain he was going to stay until Cid came back from the cargo run. Cloud explained everything that was going on while Pretty showed off her self-caught flock of chocobos. "Perfect for tour groups!" she had exclaimed, rattling off names and dispositions. She'd been walking with her sai hooked on her belt the entire time. The perfect temptation presented itself not long after when Tifa awoke and began fussing.
Cloud took the woman back into the house, leaving Pretty and Vincent alone outside. They'd walked back towards the chocobo stable without thinking.
"Aren't you hot?" Pretty asked. Vincent was wearing his usual outfit, complete with heavy cape.
"Oh. It's the Mako, right? Makes you immune to how warm it is here?" Pretty slipped off the fence. She still wasn't wearing any shoes.
Vincent didn't say anything.
Pretty sighed. "I'm going to go down to one of the hot springs before Hikari leads the tourists down. You're welcome to come."
Again, Vincent was silent. But once Pretty started walking towards a path into the woods, she realized she was being followed.
"You could have told me," Tifa said, arms crossed.
"You didn't exactly take the news very well," Cloud replied, rubbing his arm.
"You heal quickly." Tifa shrugged. "And, I guess... I can't change anything. I just wish you would have told me. You let me make a total fool out of myself!"
"So are you going to behave?" Cloud asked. He couldn't believe that once she'd found out that he and Sephiroth had a past, Tifa had willingly listened to the entire story.
"I think I'll still be a little nervous around him. Are you sure he's back to... Can he be normal?" Tifa looked around the parlor for a moment. "I guess homicidal maniacs don't run tourist resorts, do they?"
"Tifa, he's the man I knew all those years ago." Cloud paused a minute, thinking of the kiss he'd shared with Sephiroth in the same room just a couple of hours ago. "Sephiroth is perfectly safe now."
"Angel," Tifa said.
"Pretty calls him Angel. That's his name here. I don't know if I can think about him being Sephiroth, but if I think about him being Angel..." Tifa trailed off.
"I always thought he was like an angel," Cloud replied, smiling.
They sat in silence a moment, each lost in thought. And then there was a loud bell ringing from somewhere outside.
"What is that?" Tifa asked, standing up.
"I don't know," Cloud replied, getting up as well.
Footsteps pounded through the house. "Cloud? Are you in here?" Sephiroth ran into the room clutching Masamune.
"There are monsters not far from here," he explained quickly. "The guests are all accounted for, but I'm not sure where Pretty is."
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