Title: Infinite Possibilities
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Sephiroth, (Sephiroth/Cloud eventually)
Rating: T Overall
Summary: Aerith took all the crazy homicidal darkness out of Sephiroth and hugged it to death. And then she didn't really know what to do with him, so she shoved him back to life and told him to do better this time.
In this chapter: New clothes, new ride, new... problems.
Notes: Mostly original game canon, using a few snippets from later details.
By the time the sun was low in the sky, Sephiroth had fixed Alexei's roof, gutter, trimmed up a tree, fixed a plant stand, and several other tasks. Alexei had made sandwiches for them both for lunch, and had then offered Sephiroth whatever he wanted of the things that used to belong to his wife.
Sephiroth had stared, stunned, for a second before Alexei explained that maybe he could at least sell them for a bit of extra money. Alexei wasn't up to going through everything, but maybe Sephiroth could, since he wasn't so attached.
Walking back to the General Store with a few bills, a cooler full of food and a few pieces of decent looking jewelry, Sephiroth wasn't sure how he was supposed to feel. Alexei's family had pretty much abandoned him to live off his days in the quiet town. His wife was gone. And while he and the cats seemed to be hanging on, it seemed depressingly lonely.
Tori looked up from what seemed to be pages of invoices when Sephiroth ambled in.
"I was starting to think you took off--"
Shaking his head, Sephiroth made his way to the counter. "No," he said. "Alexei just found more things for me to help him with."
"Probably talked your ear off, too," Tori noted before smiling. "He's a good guy. But just like Ol' Willie, I don't know what'll happen to his place once he's gone."
Nodding, Sephiroth spread out the money he'd earned. It wasn't really much, but he needed to get started on the basics.
"I don't suppose I could at least put this towards a pair of shoes that fit a little better than my sandals," he said, wincing. He'd done most of the repair-work barefoot and he was feeling it.
Tori sighed and pointed off to a corner. "Should be some work boots over there in your size. About three times more than what you've got here, but I'll let you run a tab for them if you promise to come back tomorrow and take a few more cards."
"I can do that," Sephiroth said quickly, before kicking off the sandals and heading over to find the boots. There were, in fact, a pair his size and in black. He grabbed a pair of socks, too, and presented them to Tori a moment later.
"Just a second," she said, shuffling pages. "Don't suppose you have any experience with bookkeeping?"
"A little," Sephiroth admitted. He'd mostly been a man of action, but that hadn't kept him from learning many other things and occasionally getting desk duty. "What do you have there?"
"About a year's worth of orders and invoices," Tori told him, pushing them across the counter. "I don't think it was me, but there are running errors from before and... I just can't quite figure out where to begin fixing these."
Sephiroth nearly swore when he saw the invoices. They had dates on them. He now knew when he was. And he was five years past where he thought he might be. Five years... He sucked in his breath and pretended to be thinking about the invoices.
And also pretended not to see the dates.
"Which one is the most recent?" he asked as innocently as he could.
"That one," Tori said, nodding. "Came yesterday. Date is up here." She reached and pointed, confirming what Sephiroth had already feared.
Luckily, the invoices did make sense to him.
"I think you subtracted at one point when you needed to add," he said. "On this one, at least, against the ledger. I'd need everything to really clean it up, though. And maybe a day to sit down somewhere quiet and write everything down."
"Could I put a card up?" Tori questioned, eyes sparkling. "I'm not kidding. Just having everything balanced would be a big help. I mean, I've done a lot and it was worse before, but I've never had any training on this sort of thing. Especially not when I was a kid - I never expected to take over the place, after all. I wanted... Well, I wanted to be a nurse. But I became a mother, instead, and a widow..."
"Mothers are important," Sephiroth told her softly. He didn't meet her gaze for a long moment, but smartly, she didn't inquire.
"It's getting dark," Tori noted after a few seconds of silence in which Sephiroth shuffled the invoices back. "You should get going if you want to get back to Ol' Willie's cabin before it's pitch black."
"Thank you for the boots. And everything," Sephiroth replied. He knelt, pulling on socks and boots as quickly as he could. "If I can, I'll give you my sizes tomorrow so I can get some other clothing that fits properly."
Tori laughed. "I can do that. I'll have to order it, but deliveries usually only take a couple of days. And whenever you can work on the books, I definitely will pay you."
"Have a good night." He grabbed his cooler and let himself out. The evening air was growing brisk - the wind was off the ocean and Sephiroth could feel water hanging heavy in it. He suddenly wasn't as worried about the dark as the rain.
However, the rain held until a few minutes after he'd gotten in and started to eat the meal that Alexei had packed for him. Not really a dinner so much as a bunch of leftovers, but Sephiroth was in no position to be picky. The patch was holding over the hole in the door, the cottage didn't seem to leak, and he had food. Everything was good. Hopefully everything was good. He couldn't expect to be doing amazing things right away.
Especially not when... He didn't even think about it til he'd navigated around the bedroom once looking for something a little heavier than his shorts and t-shirt. He hadn't turned on the light. He could see again, in the dark, like he'd always been able to before. But that meant...
Rushing for the bathroom, he stared at himself long and hard.
There was just the faintest familiar glint of what had been 'affectionately' termed the 'Mako Glow'.
It was almost disappointing to see -- he'd almost thought his body had been cleansed. Maybe it had been cleansed of some things. Maybe... maybe his time was limited.
He'd have to keep watch and see. No sense worrying about it just yet.
After changing into a pair of sweatpants, cinched tightly, and a hooded sweatshirt, Sephiroth settled in the living room to read. While Ol' Willie didn't have a large library, there were enough books to keep Sephiroth occupied for awhile. It was a nice way to wind down and not dwell too much on the day.
There were even a few he recognized, which was almost surprising. Classics, he supposed. He couldn't believe that five years had passed. His body certainly hadn't aged at all.
Cloud would have nearly caught up to him.
Once thoughts of Cloud took over from the thoughts on the book he'd been half-reading, he gave up and set it aside without even bothering to mark his place.
Part of him wanted to go find Cloud and... He didn't know. The second half of that was startlingly blank. There was no way to ever ask or beg forgiveness. There was nothing.
Part of him didn't want to ever see Cloud. It would be freedom, he supposed, from everything that had happened before. Just knowing Cloud was out there would be enough, really. He'd just complicate Cloud's life when Cloud probably didn't need any more complications.
Sephiroth kept thinking about it til long after he should have and finally, barely able to keep his eyes open, he ambled off to sleep.
The rain wasn't terribly hard, but it hadn't stopped, either. Instead there was just a soft patter against the window that stopped being annoying fairly quickly and became almost comforting. Everything from the day would be washed away.
Only when he was just seconds from sleep did he remember about the motorcycle and he tried to remind himself to look at it in the morning. He also decided that as much as he wanted clothing, other bathroom necessities were more important and he needed to ask about those.
He didn't think he'd remember any of his thoughts in the morning, but they were still important and he was still going to have them. Until he wasn't...
Sephiroth slept, dreamless, until long after the rain stopped and until long after the sun had risen on a new day.
After showering and eating the last bits of food from the day before, Sephiroth hunted around til he found a key for the shed that sat off to the side of the house. Sure enough, there was a motorcycle inside and despite Darius's predictions, it was not out of fuel. However, it took the better part of an hour to get running, and also left Sephiroth covered in grease and grime and badly in need of another shower.
It was lunch time by the time he crawled in the General Store, a little frustrated and definitely a little rattled. The road really wasn't in motorcycle-shape any longer and would need a bit of work some evening to be properly passable.
"I'm not even sure if I should be saying 'Good Morning' to you," Tori commented when Sephiroth ambled into the General Store. She had her short hair back under a headband and looked like she'd been working hard on something or other. Hopefully not the invoices. It was safer to let those wait.
"It took a little longer than anticipated to get the motorcycle here," Sephiroth explained. "But it's running."
Tori smiled. "Wonderful. Maybe you can help with a few deliveries, then. The ones around town I do with Sindi, my daughter, but today there's one for Marsia, who lives out towards the plains."
"I might need slightly better directions than that, but I think I can handle a delivery," Sephiroth said with a small nod.
"Thanks, Fin. Let me draw you a map and send you off-- Wait, have you eaten? Let me at least make you something to eat..." She gave him a little awkward smile and then raced off towards the back room of the store.
Without distraction, Sephiroth wandered a bit around the shop. While it was far from large, the sheer amount of different items crammed into it was impressive. And where there seemed to be a lack of some category, there was a catalog tucked with instructions on how to order. Aside from a dusty boxed blender, the entire appliance section seemed to be mail-order only. He really thought he wanted a coffee maker.
But it was only a little disappointing, since he knew he'd have to get coffee as well. And coffee was important, but not nearly as important as clothing, toiletries, and basic food. Coffee was just a happy bonus.
He'd wandered over to the job board by the time Tori returned.
"Sorry," she apologized. "Sindi wanted something too. She's been working on making dolls out of yarn and I thought that was keeping her busy."
"I was just looking around," Sephiroth assured her. "After I've taken care of the basics, I'm going to need a coffee maker."
He accepted a plate with a fairly basic sandwich and half an apple, carefully sliced into almost perfectly equal slices.
"You definitely need some clothing that fits," Tori agreed. "What else?"
"Basic toiletries," Sephiroth replied. "I'm glad my hair isn't longer. I'm okay washing it with the bar soap that was left behind, but..."
"I'll start on a list," Tori interrupted. "You'll have to tell me your sizes before you leave and I'll see what I can do. I need to drop things to Alexei and Darius, too. But I'll be back before you will."
"You sure you're willing to give me a chance?"
"Fin." Tori looked at him and smiled. "I really don't think you're going to take a mail-order wardrobe and run. You seem like a good guy and I like to trust my gut, y'know?"
While he ate, Tori drew Sephiroth a map out of town and to a small farm.
"Marsia lives there with a couple of stable hands," Tori explained. "Used to raise and race chocobos, but that was a long time ago. Now she's retired... and takes in older birds that’d otherwise be euthanized. Lives off some pretty big winnings from back in the day."
Sephiroth blinked. He had no idea that people did things like that. Of course, he also wasn't entirely fond of chocobos, either. But a chocobo farm wouldn't be a bad thing to visit. It wasn't like anyone would expect him to stay.
Together, they loaded the motorcycle's small cargo bins with Marsia's supplies and with a smile, Tori saw him off.
The bike rode much better through town, and across a wooden bridge that separated the border of the town from a small wood and then plains. He saw a couple of houses as he went, seemingly abandoned.
About a half-hour out, he saw the first chocobos. They were all different colors, and chased along with his motorcycle until he turned into the driveway of the farm proper. Apparently they'd caught him, so there was nothing else for them to be interested in. Or perhaps they'd lost...
Before he got to the farmhouse, he cut power and walked the motorcycle in. He at least knew how to be polite with a large noisy machine.
Instead of the elderly woman that Sephiroth was expecting, a pair of younger men ran up to Sephiroth.
"Fin," Sephiroth said quickly. "Tori from the General Store sent me out."
"Supplies?" one questioned. "We normally go in for the big stuff, but Miss Marsia had ordered some special stuff..."
Sephiroth nodded and gestured to the bike. "I've got it in the side bins."
There was something odd about the men, Sephiroth noted. Something in their movements. Their speech wasn't quite there, but the movements were military. And yes, they did seem to have the faintest of glows to their eyes.
They helped themselves to the cargo and for a moment, Sephiroth wasn't sure if he needed to collect payment or if Marsia had already paid. Tori hadn't mentioned anything, though from what he knew of Tori, she'd likely give things away on credit if it meant making someone happy. Or it could just be him.
He almost hoped it wasn't. Some interests, he just didn't have.
"Let me see if Miss Marsia has an envelope for ya," the first one said as he handed the package he'd been holding to the other. "Just stay here and I'll be right back."
He didn't ask the other man about the military. They seemed strangely content on the farm, tanned and smiling. No need to bring up the past. Certainly if he mentioned it, they might start giving him a second look that he didn't need. Even though he'd been... He'd been missing for over a decade, if he was doing the math right. Aerith had told him a few things.
And he hadn't aged at all.
Which meant he and Cloud were now...
He wished he knew why he had to keep anchoring himself on Cloud. But...
"Here ya go, Fin." The first man had reappeared and was offering him an envelope.
"Thanks," Sephiroth said quickly. He tucked it into one of the cargo bins, strapped it shut and then bid them both farewell.
The chocobos raced him right back out til the end of their fence. Aerith had mentioned that Cloud had learned to race the birds...
He was back in town before he could work through all of his thoughts, which was a bit of a surprise. But true to her word, Tori had catalogs out and the other bagged deliveries had vanished.
"Here you go," Sephiroth said, handing her the envelope.
"And here you go," Tori replied, offering him a piece of paper. "You're now almost done paying for the boots. So I'm sure you'll take care of that today, along with a few other things. Toiletries I actually have, too. Let's do those first."
Sephiroth made a quick list - toothbrush, toothpaste, a decent brush, shampoo, deodorant, and a pair of nail clippers. He added a bar of soap as an afterthought, but he really didn't want to keep using the one that had been there - or at least he wanted to be able to replace it if he didn't stay.
Though really, he thought he was going to stay.
"I can do that," Tori replied when he slid the list over to her. "Now... here's what I have lined up for you for the rest of the day..."
By evening, he'd been fed cookies, three sandwiches, and given a cup of almost-decent coffee. People thought he needed to eat more, get more sun, and possibly adopt a kitten. He'd managed not to take home a kitten, however. He'd borrowed Alexei's tools, sold a few of Alexei's wife's shirts to a middle-aged woman on the other side of town, and spent a good hour or so listening to Alexei talk about his cats in between everything.
Sephiroth was exhausted. He had a bag of toiletries tucked into the motorcycle's right cargo compartment. The left was full of food. Apparently his story had made the rounds and everyone was setting things aside for him. It was... too much, definitely. Especially since it was mostly a fabrication. Yes, he had nothing, but it was for a completely different reason. It was his own doing, if nothing else.
He could only repay the town with kindness and hard work.
The middle-aged lady, Carolla, had given him a couple of books when she'd spotted him looking at her shelves after he'd fixed a loose step, helped her move a bit of furniture and then opened a few jars she'd been having trouble with. They were not high literature and one looked to be a bodice-ripper romance, but they were reading material and certainly a bit less dry than most of what Ol' Willie seemed to have collected. Not that various histories and books on fishing were really that awful. Sephiroth was sure he'd read them all. Fishing wouldn't be a terrible hobby, after all. Not once he started having days off. If such things were allowed. He wasn't terribly sure just what he should risk...
After brushing his teeth, which felt almost hilariously foreign after so many years, he settled into bed with the bodice ripper and started to read. The plot was wholly predictable, but the main characters were at least vaguely interesting. Sephiroth was a little disappointed when his eyes started to droop midway. But he'd have another chance. It was late, and he'd already overslept far more years than he'd wanted to. He could at least try to get up at a reasonable hour.
Days passed into weeks before Sephiroth noticed. He'd cleared the job board once and had most of the things he needed to have a decent little existence in the cottage. He had started to take every fourth day off to relax and fish and walk along the shore.
By chance he'd learned that he was less than a day's ride from Mideel, which wasn't exactly a thriving metropolis, but it was a town he at least knew existed, as compared to his current surroundings.
The days were growing longer, and slowly the cottages branching off from the other side of town were filling with motley waves of summer residents. The job board filled much faster, and Sephiroth was making a good business of small repairs. Alexei had pretty much let Sephiroth convert his garage into a workshop that just happened to also sell a bit of used clothing and other miscellanea. Someone always had something, and he tried to be there at least one day a week.
While it probably wasn't what Aerith had in mind for him, it was a good life. A bit lonely, at times, when he retired to Ol' Willie's cottage in the evening, but he was also fairly sure if he was in town, he wouldn't get to enjoy a bit of peace or quiet.
He'd covertly fixed the glass he'd broken out of the door, and had finally given away most of Ol' Willie's clothing. If an heir did ever appear, Sephiroth was fairly sure old clothing would be of no interest. There wasn't really anything of value in the house at all - the motorcycle was the best thing he'd found so far and even that wasn't terribly exciting.
The sun wasn't terribly high in the sky on a morning in late summer. Sephiroth had decided to walk into town instead of ride, simply because it was a nice morning but felt ever-so-slightly like it was going to rain and he'd honestly rather walk home in the rain than ride a wet motorcycle.
His first stop would be Tori's place. He knew she'd be up, and he knew she'd want him to look over her books. Despite fixing them and sorting out errors from as far back as a decade ago, Sephiroth apparently couldn't get away from looking over everything Tori had added. Just in case.
It didn't matter much. She'd give him lunch later, and if it was a slow day for everything, he'd tell a story or two to Sindi in the afternoon.
However, Darius found him first.
"There's a Sea Worm up on the beach!" he cried, panting a little as he shuffle-ran over to Sephiroth. "Big one, too. Can you give a hand with it, Fin?"
Sephiroth nodded. He didn't know much about Sea Worms, other than that they were nasty and having one anywhere near town was not a good thing. However, he also wasn't armed and had purposely not armed himself, despite offers of various weapons from various folks. Apparently he looked like the kind of guy who should carry a gun.
Maybe it was the hair. Four months hadn't given it much length, and he'd actually had Tori trim out the oldest bits that were damaged.
"Got anything for me to hit it with?" Sephiroth questioned as he followed Darius down to the shore. However, it didn't take long before he saw the Sea Worm. It was bigger than he'd expected, and far closer to some of the homes than he would have liked.
"Here," Darius said, offering an antique pistol. "Should have a couple of bullets left."
Sephiroth shook his head. "That won't do much aside from make it angry. How about a blade and materia?"
Darius seemed stunned for a second before glancing around at the other folks who'd come to at least stare at the beast.
"You want to kill it?" Darius questioned. "We normally just drive 'em back into the water."
"Do you have any idea how big that one might be when it comes back?" Sephiroth asked. He looked around. Someone had to have something he could use. Finally, he saw one of the older widows clutching what looked like a mid-length blade of decent composition. A lone green materia glittered in its hilt and Sephiroth couldn't really be bothered to care what sort it was. It'd do the trick. He could do it.
While his night vision had returned, along with the soft glow of mako in his eyes, it never got to a point where it concerned him. He was stronger, but he also thought his body had been exceptionally weak at first. Hopefully he still had some skill with magic or he was going to get hurt.
But it was worth a try. It was definitely worth a try.
Sephiroth trotted over to the woman, who was holding the sword like she couldn't decide if she wanted to rush in or if she had just realized it would be incredibly dumb to rush in.
"May I?" Sephiroth asked her, reaching for the sword. It was much smaller than he was used to, if he was even still used to such things. He was wearing work boots, and jeans, and a t-shirt that proclaimed he was still rocking in Midgar, despite the fact that the last thing he wanted to do was anything in Midgar. But Tori had given it to him and it had the least amount of holes in it so far.
"Here..." The sword was handed off to him without much of a second glance, which was fine because Sephiroth had his gaze on the Sea Worm. It wasn't doing anything too terribly destructive, at the moment, but that was because no one was anywhere near it. He knew better and he hoped that everyone else did too.
One of the summer folk did not.
A single bullet was fired and struck right into the beast's head, angering and causing it to wriggle and flip and generally try to twist about and find its attacker. Two small boats and part of the dock was wiped out before Sephiroth could even choose an angle to attack from.
He'd battled far worse. He could do this.
Feeling out the materia, it was a Lightning, which was perfect. He sucked in his breath and cast. The beast contracted and flipped again, this time doing no damage but getting much more agitated yet unable to really do anything.
Sephiroth felt a bit like he'd been socked in the stomach. He thought he was stronger. He'd need to be.
He did it again, this time paralyzing the Sea Worm and once he realized it wouldn't be moving, he ran forward and stabbed at its head, cutting quickly and deeply, ignoring the blood spraying over him until the creature stopped moving completely. Then he simply stepped back... staggered back... and fell back onto his ass in the sand.
"Fin! Are you okay?"
Darius and Tori were both beside him in an instant, but he waved them away before flopping back on the sand. He was fine. Tired, but fine. He'd done something good, after all. But he was sorely out of practice. Magic shouldn't have taken anything out of him. Not like that, at least. He still had a hand around the sword, but didn't protest when Darius reached to take it from him.
"That was amazing," Tori said, reaching to poke at his shirt. "You really made a mess, though."
"Sorry," Sephiroth replied. "Never fought one of those before. Didn't realize it'd be so messy."
"What have you fought?" Tori questioned, frowning. "You're too young to..."
She trailed off and Sephiroth didn't say anything. Not when the rest of the town was making its way down the beach to look at the monster, and him, and the damage.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!