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: Dinner and a flashback? Dinner and some more hot springs? Dinner and...
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.
"What is all of that?" Cloud asked when the pile was dumped on his lap.
"The bounty money is in the box, and the other stuff should be reservations and guest mail," Sephiroth explained, leaping into the cart and urging the chocobos onward.
"Oh!" Tifa exclaimed, reaching over both men to grab an envelope. "This one's for you, Vincent."
Vincent looked puzzled. "Who knows I'm here?" he asked, taking the letter from Tifa.
He slit the top quickly with a claw finger and pulled out a sheet of paper.
"This is quite interesting," he said a moment later. "Quite interesting indeed."
"Late! I'm late!" Pretty howled, running for the motorcycle. One glance at the angle of the sun told her she'd taken too long changing. But this outfit wasn't likely to accidentally show off the injury on her thigh.
"What is it?" Tifa asked, trying to grab the piece of paper away from Vincent.
"It's a fax from Cid - from not too long after he left," Vincent replied, finally handing over the document once Tifa had stopped grabbing for it.
"Is this normal?" he asked Sephiroth, giving the envelope a quick wave.
"Kei believes it's polite to put tourists' messages in envelopes. Privacy is still important to some people," Sephiroth replied.
"Next week!" Tifa cried, holding the fax out. "We're here until next week!" She didn't sound terribly happy about it.
"What's wrong with a couple more days in paradise?" Sephiroth asked, stopping the cart at a city stable. "We'll have to leave the birds here and walk, but it's only a block."
"I... I'm supposed to... I mean, it's nice here..." Tifa began. "But I have the bar to get back to."
She paused, letting Cloud help her out of the cart. "You aren't coming back at all, are you?" She squeezed his hand and looked hopefully up at him.
Cloud looked away for a moment and then shrugged. "I guess I'll go back with you to get my things..."
Tifa pressed herself into his arms. "I'll miss you," she whispered before letting go of the slightly-blushing Cloud.
Sephiroth only smiled sadly as he let the attendant take the cart. "You're welcome to visit any time, Tifa. And Cloud can visit whenever he likes," he said after a moment.
Tifa sighed, looking vacantly at the ground. "It's just such a big change... And so quick!"
"You can still call," Vincent said, tucking his letter into a pocket. "It's too bad Cid hasn't seen the rest of today. I'm sure he would have had some interesting things to say about it."
"Most of them four lettered," Cloud shot back, earning smiles all around. "So what's causing the delay?"
"Apparently right after he left he was asked to do a couple short runs which would put him back here..." Tifa trailed off from her explanation as she was effectively muted by a loud engine.
A moment later a shiny black motorcycle came racing around the corner sending dust and gravel flying. It came to a skidding stop in from of the four pedestrians.
"I made it!" Pretty yelled, waving quickly before racing off again to park conspicuously in front of the restaurant.
"I'm hoping you were less destructive with your motorcycle," Sephiroth said, grabbing Cloud's hand and gently squeezing.
"We should have had her during Meteor," Tifa said, beginning to laugh. "You wouldn't have stood a chance!"
Cloud looked up at Sephiroth, their eyes meeting for a brief second before they started laughing too.
"I'm sorry I'm late," Pretty said, bounding up to them right outside the restaurant - The Ray of Light. "I just didn't think I could ride in the dress I'd picked out."
She'd changed into black dress pants and a lightly shimmering purple shirt tied midwaist.
"You're right on time," Sephiroth replied. "Shall we proceed?"
"Sure thing, boss," Pretty said, winking as she pulled open the door. "After you."
Tifa and Vincent followed Sephiroth and Cloud as they walked into the small restaurant. Where Mideel was sometimes tacky with it's tourist shops, the restaurant was something totally different. Instead of bright tropical colors, everything was dark and hushed, right down to the colors of the tablecloths and candles.
"You don't have to call me that." Sephiroth said when Pretty was inside. "You know you're family."
Pretty blushed and looked down. "Angel..."
"Pretty?!" An excited voice yelled out from a couple yards away.
"Rae!" Pretty let the blonde woman who'd yelled embrace her for a moment.
"And Angel! With guests! What's the occasion? Who took your reservation? Why didn't I know you were coming?" Rae seemed quite agitated as she fumbled for a small reservation book on a nearby counter.
"I didn't make reservations, Rae," Sephiroth said.
"Oh. That's right - you hate phones..." Rae trailed off. As she had been looking over one of her favorite patrons, she had followed his arm down to where his hand was still gripping onto Cloud.
"You do have room for us, right?" Pretty asked, elbowing Rae.
"Of course! Five of you?"
Sephiroth nodded. "These are some of Pretty's friends from when she was away."
"Your friends too, I bet," Rae said, winking as she grabbed a handful of menus and motioned for them to follow.
"Rae's kinda like us." Pretty said once they'd been seated.
"Like you?" Tifa questioned. They'd been seated in a round booth, and Tifa was to the far right side. Vincent sat beside her, with Pretty in the middle, Sephiroth beside her, and Cloud to the far edge.
" Pretty means that Rae was pulled from the Lifestream as well," Sephiroth explained. "I think it's been about three years that Rae has been here. Her blonde hair earned her the name 'Ray of Light'."
"She's so neat," Pretty continued. "She actually got her memory back but decided to stay anyway and keep her new name and new life."
"This place is hers?" Cloud asked, making the connection between Rae and the name of the restaurant.
"Yep. It's the nicest place in town," Pretty answered. "Oh! Angel, did you ever get the bounty from today? I meant to ask..."
"It's in the lockbox of the cart, along with the mail," Sephiroth replied. "Do you need it right away?"
"Well... I guess not. I was just curious. I don't have a fortune left after traveling, you know."
"I thought you were well off," Tifa interjected. "You more than paid for your drinks the night before last."
"You were going to help me," Pretty said. "I didn't want you to think I was some crazy vagrant."
"Pretty." It was Cloud. "After the comment about my eyes, I was curious..."
"But they're so bright! I couldn't help it. They're almost as bright as Angel's," Pretty said, looking up to catch the Mako green gaze.
"Cloud?" Sephiroth looked like he'd just put together an intricate mental puzzle. "Why are your eyes so bright? Even when you made it to..."
Cloud hushed him, shaking his head. "It's not anything... I don't want to think... After I... You..." He put his head down on the table.
Sephiroth looked helplessly over at Tifa and Vincent before trying to console Cloud. "Maybe you can tell me another time," he whispered. "But you don't ever have to."
"Before I realized quite what I was doing, I had rescheduled as many of my Mako treatments to coincide with Cloud's. That way I could take care of him. Or we could take care of each other, when it was necessary," Sephiroth explained. "One day after a particularly horrible battery of treatments and experiments, Cloud ended up dragging me back to my apartment."
Sephiroth looked over at Cloud, who was both watching him and wolfing down his salad. "Why don't you explain what happened next?"
Cloud choked for a second before grabbing his glass of water. "Me?"
"You're the one who kissed me when you thought I was unconscious."
Cloud blushed. "You looked so peaceful and... I couldn't not do it."
"I was awake, just resting. And it was the first time I knew someone was paying attention to me because they truly cared, not because they wanted something from me or they wanted the esteem that would come from being with me." Sephiroth smiled at Cloud before quickly kissing him.
"When did I leave? A week later?" Cloud was smiling. Pretty had long since devoured her food and was leaning on the table, chin in her hands. She was watching both men. Despite them saying they wanted to move slowly, they each had desperately hungry eyes.
"Something like that."
"Where would you have gone?" Vincent asked. "You said you wanted to escape from all of that."
"Someplace like here," Sephiroth said. "Somewhere out of the way and comfortable where the natives are a little nosey but don't ask too many personal questions. And somewhere where I could still use my skills to benefit others without the carnage and horrors of war."
"So you're just a decade late." It was Tifa. She was picking over her food, not so much in distaste, but in distraction. There was so much Cloud had never told her. But then again, she thought, her reactions over the last couple days were probably just what he'd feared.
"And everything worked out anyway!" Pretty announced. "You two can be happy here just like you had planned." She paused, contemplating everything. "I'm glad everything happened the way it did though."
Four sets of eyes looked at her questioningly.
"Well, if it hadn't, would any of us actually be here? Together?"
"I wouldn't," Vincent said.
"I wouldn't," Tifa added.
"Neither would I," Pretty finished, quietly.
After dinner, Rae came flitting over to the table. "You are going to tell me all about your travels, right?" she asked Pretty.
"If I can stay." Pretty looked questioningly up at Sephiroth.
"Of course, Pretty. But if it's late, push the motorcycle to the shed so you don't wake the guests."
"Right!" Pretty smiled and allowed herself to be led off by Rae.
"I wonder what kind of stories that woman has to tell," Tifa said. "I never asked myself."
"You have a week to find out," Cloud replied, taking Sephiroth's hand. "I have a feeling there will be a lot of storytelling this week."
Once back at the resort, Tifa excused herself for the evening. Despite resting earlier, she was wiped anyway.
That left Vincent, Sephiroth, and Cloud sitting in the back-porch of the main house.
"I still owe you so much, Vincent," Sephiroth said, putting his feet up on a wicker chair across from him. "It's still amazing to know you're real. And here."
"Angel," Vincent was carefully measuring his words. "Seeing you like this now is more than enough. Even during Meteor I hoped good could still come from your existence."
"What do you remember of Seph-Angel as a child?" Cloud inwardly kicked himself for messing up with the name again. It just wasn't quite as easy a transition for him as it was for the rest of the group.
"He was special even then," Vincent said. "He didn't like the tests that were being done. When I was there, he'd come running and hide in my arms until the doctors took one of us away."
Sephiroth smiled sadly, pulling Cloud, who sat beside him, closer. "I still don't remember much of that. I just have images of Vincent and knowing he was my protector."
Mako green eyes caught bright red. "I'm sure I screamed and pitched a fit when you vanished. I remember Hojo saying you were just part of my imagination and not to think of you."
"Hojo was an ass. It felt really good to kill him."
"I wish I could have been there," Sephiroth said. "I guess I was busy wreaking havoc on my own."
"You were," Cloud said. "But... not so much you. You were being controlled."
"I should have been stronger," Sephiroth said. "I put all of you through hell."
"And we all came out of it and managed to carry on," Cloud said. "Except for Aerith."
The porch was suddenly silent as all three struggled to find words.
"Do you... remember Aerith?" Cloud asked, looking up at Sephiroth.
Sephiroth was still looking off into space. "I don't. What happened?"
Cloud shut his eyes and looked away. "She was a friend. I cared for her. And you..." He couldn't continue. Instead he stood up quickly and walked off the porch. Sephiroth was about to follow when he was caught by a gold claw.
"Perhaps I should fill in a few more details," Vincent said quickly.
"I'm guessing I was responsible for whatever happened," Sephiroth said, sitting down again.
"To put it bluntly, you flew down from nowhere and put Masamune through the woman." Vincent was suddenly a little nervous. He sincerely hoped this new bit of info wouldn't trigger anything.
"I don't remember," Sephiroth said. "She was... his girlfriend?" His face had a severely pained look.
"Not quite like that. Apparently there was another man, named Zack..." Vincent began.
"Zack! I remember Zack!" Sephiroth exclaimed. "He was with Cloud and I when... Wait. Where's Zack?"
"I'm not completely sure on the details, but Zack died saving Cloud's life. For a while, Cloud thought he was Zack. And since Aerith was Zack's..." Vincent wasn't surprised when he was cut off again.
"Zack is... dead. What happened? He and Cloud..." Sephiroth looked thoroughly confused. "There's so much I must still not remember."
"After Nibelheim, both Zack and Cloud were captured by ShinRa and secretly experimented on. That's why we think you and Jenova were able to control Cloud. He had Jenova cells implanted. And more Mako."
"That explains his eyes. But the rest I can't remember. He said he wasn't upset, but..." Sephiroth said slowly.
"He knows that wasn't you. But Cloud hasn't ever been particularly stable, from what he's told us," Vincent said, looking out towards the stables. "Give him a few minutes to calm down."
"This is the second time today I've wondered if I even had the right to tell him," Sephiroth said, pushing hair back from his face.
Vincent moved from where he was leaning on a porch post and walked over to Sephiroth. They looked into each other's eyes a moment before Vincent leaned down and hugged Sephiroth.
"What did I used to tell you when you were little?" Vincent asked in a whisper.
" What didn't kill me would only make me stronger," Sephiroth said, smiling as Vincent let go and walked back to the other end of the porch. "You should have said that what didn't kill me would turn me into an evil god bent on world destruction."
"I don't think that would have been very comforting," Vincent replied, attempting a smile. "You should find him."
Cloud was starting to feel really stupid. This was the second time today he'd regretted his actions. The first time, everything had ended up more than okay, but this time...
Aerith. He hadn't even thought about her in a long time. He knew that the Sephiroth who was here, now, wasn't the same creature who'd killed her five years ago. But still...
He had wandered back into the woods along the path to the hot springs. Pretty hadn't taken him as far as the back one that was apparently the most desirable. He knew he needed to relax a little before going back to explain himself, and a soak sounded nice.
He sighed, and kept walking.
"Cloud? Are you in here?" Sephiroth walked through the chocobo stable quickly, looking for any sign of the blonde. A light breeze blew his silver hair into temporary disarray and also caused him to shiver slightly.
"A storm must be coming in," he said to himself as he grabbed a light blanket from the top of a pile beside the door and wrapped it around himself.
He'd checked everywhere else - empty cabins, sheds, the stable. There was only one other place Cloud could have gone. Hoping to not get caught in a downpour, Sephiroth started down the path to the springs, ever thankful for the Mako-given ability to see in the dark.
"This is amazing," Cloud murmured to himself as he slipped into the hot water of the far pool. He closed his eyes and let himself relax for several minutes. "How do I tell him it wasn't him, it was me?"
" You just say it out loud."
Cloud's eyes shot open. Two points of green light shone from a couple yards away.
"Cloud, are you sure you're okay with everything?" The eyes moved closer until Cloud could see all of Sephiroth, wrapped in a multicolor blanket.
"It's going to take some time, I guess. I didn't mean to react like I did. I know that wasn't you and I know you don't remember everything." Cloud felt quite vulnerable sprawled as he was. "What's with the blanket?"
"I think there may be a storm coming in. The air will cool off quickly, and I didn't want to get wet or chilled," Sephiroth explained. "You should come back."
"This is our paradise, Angel," Cloud knew using that name was going to get more interest. "I want to enjoy it a little longer tonight. Come in already!"
Sephiroth sighed. "I feel silly enough bowing to the whims of Pretty, who says I have to indulge you?"
Cloud splashed a few drops of water up at Sephiroth. "Why don't you get out of those wet clothes?"
"You've got me on that one," Sephiroth replied, laying the blanket on the ground. "But we really should head back soon."
"I know." Blue eyes watched as Sephiroth started unbuttoning his shirt.
"You're watching me like it's the first time."
"Does that bother you?"
"No." The shirt fell away, quickly followed by boots, socks, and black dress pants.
"No underwear?" Cloud held back a laugh.
"Maybe I hoped to steal you off to bed and have my way with you before you knew what was happening." Mako green eyes glowed in the darkness as Sephiroth waded into the pool. "They say this is a holy pool."
"Yes. So if there was any of the horrible Sephiroth left, it would have melted away in here years ago." Sephiroth stepped off a ledge and sank to waist depth, the tips of his hair swirling behind him as he made his way to where Cloud was.
"Am I supposed to feel better?"
"Am I supposed to apologize for something I have no memory of doing while possessed?"
"I don't know." Cloud closed his eyes again and let Sephiroth move so he was straddling Cloud's legs.
"Until everything is clear in my head, I don't want to apologize because I won't mean it. Let my memory finish coming back." His lips found Cloud's and kissed him lightly. "You'll help me fill in the blanks, I know."
"I thought you were going to call me Angel now."
"Angel... Tell me more about the stealing me away to your bed."
Sephiroth smiled and stood back up, pulling Cloud up with him. He kissed Cloud again, gently parting soft lips with his tongue.
"Mmm... Angel..." Cloud moaned, wrapping his arms around his lover as they kissed again.
Sephiroth shifted them both quickly, pulling Cloud towards him as he sank back onto the ledge, this time pulling Cloud on top of him. Cloud pressed up against Sephiroth, this time straddling him, rubbing his growing erection against Sephiroth's arousal.
"Seems like you don't want to wait for my bed," Sephiroth said as he reached a hand down to tease Cloud.
Cloud shook his head, trying not to whimper as skilled fingers ran the length of his arousal. "Angel... I need..."
"I know." The torturous hand ventured lower, caressing over soft skin until one finger traced Cloud's opening.
Sephiroth kept kissing his lover, marveling in the way Cloud moved and the noises he made. It was so much like he remembered.
Cloud broke away from the kiss, moaning as he buried his head into Sephiroth's shoulder.
"Cloud?" The silver-haired man brought both hands up to wrap around Cloud's waist, holding him tight as Cloud rocked against him.
"We have to get out of the water," Sephiroth tried not to laugh. He wanted Cloud as badly as Cloud wanted him, but unless Cloud could let go... No, he didn't have to. Sephiroth shifted his hands so he could pick Cloud up and carry him from the water.
Bright blue eyes shone in the darkness. "My Angel."
Sephiroth kicked his clothes off the blanket and lay Cloud down, oblivious to the thunder in the distance.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!