Living Without Worry
Title: Living Without Worry (Brightest Blue Eyes Arc 3)
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Sephiroth/Cloud, multiple OCs, Full Cast
Rating: MA overall
Summary: In which there is fucking? Sixteen goes for plot exposition? Pretty angsts? Cloud is denied the best moves?
Cloud could hear the rain against the window, lightly tapping against the glass as though it was trying to be as soft and polite as the usual morning fog. Even with the rain, natural light was spilling into the room, meaning it was a fairly decent hour of the morning. Past his usual time to wake up. But they’d been up so late, lost in what followed conversation.
Sephiroth was warm against him, holding him in nearly the same position they’d been in while falling asleep. Cloud wasn’t sure if Sephiroth was awake yet, watching the rain as well and just not wanting to move. Before he could reach back for a questioning poke, Sephiroth’s hand slid from where it was resting draped over Cloud’s midsection, downward until Cloud gasped at contact.
"Morning," Sephiroth said, his breath warm against Cloud’s neck before laying a trail of kisses to Cloud’s ear and toying with Cloud’s earring with his tongue as his hand teased Cloud to arousal.
"Don’t know how you can just wake up like this..." Cloud mumbled, trying to process too much sensation with a half-awake brain.
"I’m not normal," Sephiroth replied, pressing his own erection against the small of Cloud’s back.
"Not normal either..." Cloud said, losing the end of his sentence to a breathy gasp. "Doesn’t mean..."
"I can stop."
"Don’t," Cloud managed, shuddering as Sephiroth paused just barely touching the head of his erection. "I didn’t tell you to stop."
Sephiroth chuckled before returning his mouth to Cloud’s ear, gently nipping at the lobe beneath where silver still pierced through, nearly forgotten by Cloud until Sephiroth decided to pay attention to it.
And a few seconds later, his hand returned to its motion as well, using pre-come to ease movement and slowly draw Cloud away from the tendrils of sleep and out into what he could only think of as undeserved pleasure.
He could hear the rain gently tapping, feeling so much louder than it was as he tried to stay quiet and not give in to the bliss being offered to him.
"Come for me," Sephiroth whispered in his ear, almost demanding he find release and ignore everything but...
There wasn’t anything more important, after all.
With nothing more than a groan muffled by his pillow and a suddenly too confining blanket, Cloud came, feeling the heat of seed spread back over his erection for just a moment before Sephiroth spread it lower, pushing his legs apart.
"Pent up energy," Sephiroth said softly, pressing fingers into Cloud’s body. "You should have realized..."
Cloud wanted to call that a lie - he wanted to say all sorts of things but fingers were quickly pulled back from his body and before he could even think of anything to say, he was pushed onto his stomach. Sephiroth was inside him a moment later, making shallow, slow thrusts as though he was afraid of breaking Cloud.
Not that Cloud was entirely sure he minded. He was still a bit sore - more than usual, but he couldn’t help wanting the encounter. He understood. This was them. Together. Something that did need to suddenly be reaffirmed. He didn’t mind the claim.
He liked the sound of Sephiroth’s gasps above him, close but not too close, not quite to the edge. Cloud reached, stretching his arms to grab at the edge of the mattress, too spent to get hard again but still happily lingering in the bliss from his climax being drawn out by pressure inside.
He hadn’t really thought anything would change--
Sephiroth shifted above him, thrusting deep and hard, causing Cloud to squeeze his eyes closed for a few seconds until he’d relaxed to the full penetration. All he could do was hang on, letting Sephiroth take a few last seconds of pleasure before his own climax.
Smiling, Cloud listened to Sephiroth, feeling him moving and shuddering as he came.
"Yard," Cloud said a few minutes later, after Sephiroth had settled beside him again and seemed to be watching the rain with the same half-interest he’d had earlier.
"We should go out to the yard... Spar. Run. Something," Cloud said. "You’re right - I miss it."
"I don’t care," Cloud said. "Or... I’m not worried. Let them see."
"Cloud," Sephiroth began, reaching for Cloud’s hand.
"I mean it," Cloud interrupted, pulling away and getting to his feet, looking around for a pair of pants. "I... We should have all just been honest about this and instead I shoved you up in the attic like I had a problem..."
"We agreed on the attic," Sephiroth said softly, untangling himself from the blankets and following Cloud’s lead. "After all, we didn’t know. But now, I guess we need to."
"You said that even if..."
"I can’t help thinking that maybe... I do owe something to these clones," Sephiroth said.
Cloud paused, hands halfway through the act of doing up his pants. That was a sudden change.
"They’re... me. Or part of me. I’m at fault for their existence -"
"No you aren’t!" Cloud cried, stomping past. "Can’t... Can’t we just drop it for a bit?"
"Cloud?" Sephiroth reached to grab him before he got to the hallway.
"Let’s just go out and spar... have fun," Cloud said, looking back. He hadn’t intended for a repeat of the previous night. Almost... They almost had their peace back.
Suddenly he wasn’t so sure it would ever exist again.
Pretty sighed, tossing another manila folder into the growing pile on the far side of her chair.
"I’d like her hair, though," she commented to the otherwise empty room, glancing one last time at the file of secretary Marsh, Rita.
The box Reeve had brought her seemed to contain at least two hundred such folders and she’d gotten through at least a hundred of them already, going from impatiently skimming for a photo and a work center to reading long, detailed records of just who each woman was and what she’d done.
She had all the time in the world, she figured, and even if her biography was the next one, suddenly knowing wasn’t going to get her out of the hospital any quicker.
Rita had been able to type nearly 200 words per minute and had served for various offices in both Junon and Midgar. She had a husband and a son and a note in pencil to attempt to recruit said son in the future. And good hair. Really good hair.
Those were things she hadn’t even ever bothered thinking about - not the hair, but if she’d left a family somewhere. Even if she really was only thirty, a guess made by the doctor in Mideel based on her teeth and size, she still could have been married... could have left behind children.
Without realizing it, Pretty found herself crying again. It wasn’t the first time she’d found herself in tears while going through the box. She’d cried when she’d finally decided to read each detail of each file, realizing that instead of a box of files, she had a box of people - people who either were or weren’t still alive, possibly like she was, wondering who they were and where they should have gone.
Even if she had left behind someone - a lover, a child... She’d been in Mideel for more than eight years. And before that, in order to end up in the swirling depths of the Lifestream, she couldn’t even begin to fathom what she’d been doing. Even if she found another life, she knew she couldn’t go back to it.
Only one thing was clear in her mind - the badly healed scar on her ankle was from cutting away a ShinRa barcode. Sephiroth had always hidden it, buying her anklets to cover it. She’d never really understood, either - she’d thought it was just the sort of flaw that shouldn’t be shown.
Pretty had almost laughed when she saw the first picture of a barcode there - but she couldn’t made a sound at the time. Sephiroth protected her as best he could, by not telling her. And then he’d let her go out into the world anyway, naïve and likely to run into trouble.
Finally laughing, she grabbed another file, remembering that she had to grab with the hand not attached to machines.
She wasn’t guard Utano, Bethany either. Bethany had a glorious record, reaching an almost admirable rank... For a guard. For a woman...
They hadn’t had enough time to see what Mako did to women - didn’t even give much to female Turks who seemed doomed to die at young ages where it didn’t really matter just what sort of messed up stuff was coursing around with blood.
No wonder Sephiroth had finally wanted to leave the madness and take Cloud somewhere safe.
She felt like such a third wheel. Smiling, Pretty hoped that whatever was going on back in Mideel, it was as happy and peaceful as she could imagine it being.
Bethany’s file fell squarely onto the pile and Pretty reached for another one. There was a knock at the door, startling her for a second. Reeve had already visited and she doubted that Vincent would bother knocking at all. He hadn’t before. Besides, he’d seen her naked a hundred thousand times at least and she’d seen him naked and they really didn’t have anything to hide from one another, at least physically.
She definitely wasn’t sure about the rest, though. Vincent did seem to be hiding quite a few things.
"Come in," Pretty called, afraid that her mysterious visitor would vanish by the time she got everything sorted out in order to get to the door.
Familiar green eyes met hers a moment later as Sixteen slipped into the room and closed the door quickly.
"Evening," he said, clutching a mug in one hand. "How are you feeling?"
"It’s that late!" Pretty squeaked. She’d lost track of time yet again, lost somewhere in the box of files she’d delved into after Reeve had brought her back from lunch and made sure she was comfortably in bed before leaving.
"It is," Sixteen said, glancing down at the box at Pretty’s feet and the pile of folders beside her. "What do you have?"
"Oh!" Pretty exclaimed... "Um... These are files Reeve brought from somewhere, um... Files about missing women who served with ShinRa."
"You’re looking for someone?" Sixteen asked, crouching down to peer into the box. His hair was tied back, trailing downward and just dusting the floor with the tip.
"Me," Pretty said. "I lost my memory somewhere and since ShinRa is in my background somewhere, Reeve brought these for me to look through."
"You aren’t having any luck," Sixteen commented, looking at the discard pile.
"I wouldn’t say that," Pretty said quickly, trying to smile. "I know a few dozen people that I’m not."
"I’m not who I am," Sixteen said, reaching in to pull out a file. "So I think I know how you might feel."
"You’re not... huh?" Pretty pulled out a file of her own. "And if you really want to help, it’s okay to look at the picture and the age. I’m close to thirty and this is my natural hair-color... Angel thinks my eyes were probably brown, once."
She paused. She’d slipped, again.
"Angel," Sixteen repeated, looking up with peaked interest. "That’s what you called me last night."
"I... um..." Pretty couldn’t think of any way around the truth. Sixteen didn’t seem to be threatening. He didn’t... She remembered a truth she’d nearly forgotten, so old that it had crumbled to a lie. "He’s an amnesiac like myself. No memory."
"He looks like I do?"
"Yes," Pretty admitted. "But not exactly. I mean, no two people look exactly alike."
"No, we don’t," Sixteen said, sounding almost sad. He glanced into the file he was holding. "You aren’t Monroe, Cynthia, by the way. Be thankful of that..."
"Let me see," Pretty said as she held out her hand for the folder. One look and she agreed. Too much makeup and nothing to back it up. Wait... What had Sixteen just said?
"We?" Pretty asked softly. "You mean... like... a brother? Or father? Or..."
"Not quite," Sixteen replied, settling to the floor with his legs crossed, placing his half-full mug of coffee on the floor.
"Oh! Do you want my chair?" Pretty asked suddenly, not quite comfortable looking down on someone who was a guest in her room.
"You’re fine," Sixteen said, glancing at the IV tubes. "Don’t move for my sake though. I’m... really not worth any sort of kindness."
"What do you mean?" Pretty dumped Cynthia into the pile but couldn’t bring herself to dip back into the box. The shape of Sixteen’s hands was a bit different, too. She could only imagine that they’d feel different over hers, guiding her swings to guard against Cloud on a misty morning.
"I can only hope you’re open-minded enough to believe me," Sixteen said before taking another long, hard swallow of his coffee. "But... I think you are.
"I think I can relate to whatever feelings you have about not having a past," Sixteen continued. "Except... I have one. It’s just not mine."
"Still lost," Pretty admitted, wanting to reach down and offer some sort of comfort to her visitor. He looked nearly like he was going to cry.
"ShinRa was involved in quite a bit of inhumane research," Sixteen said, keeping his head down. "And part of that involved attempting to create super-soldiers. From what I’ve discovered, it was a combination of alien genetics, Mako, and an insanely powerful prototype for the entire thing - a Specimen Zero, I guess."
Pretty nodded. She was going to pretend to not understand any more than Sixteen told her.
"The methods were varied, filled with failures across the world, left to rot in labs or hunted down like animals, though some of us... them... us... were no better..."
"Sixteen..." Pretty crawled down off the chair, sharply tugging the wheeled IV stand a few feet closer so that she could kneel down and put a hand on his shoulder. She didn’t want to necessarily say she understood. Because she didn’t understand how he felt. But she understood who he was. He was Sephiroth - Angel - both... what remained when a man tried to make a god and a choir of angels without stopping to claw at sanity.
"I was an abandoned clone," Sixteen said softly... "Left because I wasn’t far enough along to be worth anything. Left to keep growing in a tank, thankful to be able to live solely on the Mako supply that no one had bothered to turn off when they left. I... And when we escaped, it was too late for everything. Too late to be in a world where we had any meaning!"
"Shh..." Pretty hushed him, hoping that he’d be okay. If he was allowed to wander at will, he had to at least be able to control himself.
"Rounded up like animals. Filled with half-truths and half-memories that aren’t ours..."
The plural finally smacked Pretty upside the head again and she pulled back, bringing the hand not full of tubes up to her mouth. "How many?"
"Ten... no, nine of us," Sixteen said. "Twelve originally, I mean, thirty originally... Thirty. Nine left, now."
"Thirty, just like you?" Pretty couldn’t begin to fathom an entire army of identical men, betrayed only by small features, those only distinguishable to anyone with intimate knowledge.
"No," Sixteen said. "The first... dozen or so were incomplete. They died quickly, unable to do more than long for completion, to be with the Real Thing. And he died... So..."
Pretty managed to stay quiet. If anyone other than Sixteen had been telling her this tale, she wouldn’t have believed a word. But coming from the mouth of someone who couldn’t possibly be making a single thing up, she wished she was writing down every letter.
"Some of the others... couldn’t deal with knowing what they were or... maybe, what they weren’t. The Turks... ShinRa’s hired guns. They herded us here to be kept, watched over without purpose."
"I... One of them is a man named Vincent, right?"
"You know him?" Sixteen asked, eyes very quickly on Pretty.
"He brought me here," Pretty admitted as she tried to decide whether to back away. But she wanted to trust Sixteen. "Really, until... I met you, I thought he was a good guy. Now I don’t know."
"He always says he wants to keep us safe," Sixteen said softly. He seemed to be calming down, relaxing a bit. "I just don’t know why he seems to care so much."
"That’s how he is," Pretty replied, frowning. "I guess... I thought I knew him."
"He probably thinks he’s keeping you safe too, then."
Pretty paused on that thought, rolling it twice through her brain until it made sense - Vincent was keeping her safe - he was keeping them all safe. After all, she couldn’t begin to fathom how the news would go over in Mideel.
But being trapped in the boredom of the facility? Pretty wasn’t so sure she’d settle for that, either.
"I don’t know," Pretty said, leaning against Sixteen’s shoulder. "You’re here. Neither one of us is safe anymore."
"What do you mean?" Sixteen asked, reaching to toy with the rim of his coffee cup, not paying it much attention as he did so.
"I told you that I know someone who looks like you," Pretty said. "Not exactly, but..."
"No, we don’t all look alike," Sixteen said. "But Vincent is watching him, right?"
"Vincent isn’t strong enough to bring him here anyway. Neither am I. Cloud might be able to, but..."
Pretty found herself flat on the floor, IV stand perilously knocked against the chair as a strong hand slammed most of the air out of her lungs.
No, she decided as she desperately tried to recall anything soothing she used to do when Sephiroth became lost in fits of moody, memory-driven pain, she was not safe anymore.
Cloud tried to pull himself up off the grass, fairly sure he now knew how Pretty had felt for the last few months, constantly knocked down and not quite willing to get back up again only to face the same punishment over and over and over.
What was worse was the fact that despite having a nice collection of practice swords and polite little broadswords and even fencing foils, Sephiroth had decided they may as well go all out.
Fairly sure he’d already gotten a haircut from a too-close swing of the Masamune, he’d tried to strike back with everything but his sword, a task not so easy given the insane reach Masamune allowed.
Jumping, moving, he tried. He knew the clangs of metal against metal were going to wake the Turks. They were going to stumble blearily out of their cottages and forget that it was indeed still raining because they were all going to stare at two grown men in their pajama bottoms, sliding around on the wet grass like idiots with really big swords, too skilled to do more than offer weak parries for fear of actually hurting one another.
"Just try to hit me," Sephiroth said, smirking as he held his distance.
"Done that, killed you," Cloud shot back, taking a swing anyway and having his sword thrust toward the ground. He had an idea, but it seemed infinitely stupid to be doing barefoot when it was wet.
That meant it had to work!
A parry, a kick, a jump... just as he would have landed square on the middle of the flat of Masamune’s blade, Sephiroth shifted. Halfway through managing a decent landing, Cloud realized the situation and put his own sword up.
Only one of the bullets went so far astray as needing to be blocked, though. The rest bounced off Masamune, landing in the grass.
"Sorry..." Sephiroth said as he glared at the three Turks standing across the yard. Elena still had her gun pointed at the pair but hadn’t bothered reloading. "Would have been a good trick, too."
"Some other time," Cloud said, making a note to find the bullets before Yuki mowed the lawn next. "When we aren’t being shot at."
By the time Cloud looked up, Sephiroth already had the tip of Masamune at Reno’s throat. Deadly reach, Cloud thought, before deciding he’d best just go rescue Reno and make sure no one actually ended up bleeding.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!