Angel of Love
True Love's Sacrifice Chapter 2
By Spawn of Piccolo
AN: Sorry for the wait. I would have had this out sooner, but I had
writers block, and an unfortunate incident has led me to retype almost
the entire chapter.
Sephiroth sat back on his heels, still entranced by the image before him, in which Cloud was rising stiffly from his kneeling position and leaving the City of the Ancients. Tiny Bronco seemed to be afraid of her rider, shying away as far as her lead would allow her. Cloud was even more solemn and serious than he had been when he had arrived, and the normally skittish, high-strung bird was almost hysterical. As it was, she was lucky that Zack hadnt killed her or taken her as his own, leaving Cloud to walk to Wutai.
The surface of the water on which the picture was showing rippled and grew unsteady, as Sephiroth suddenly swiped at it with his right hand. Cloud disappeared from view, and the torches once again reflected off of the natural mirror. Sephiroth hurtled past Aeris, who was momentarily stunned, and towards the staircase, pounding up the stairs and slamming both fists against the door panel, not caring if he broke it. It gave was and he rushed out of the tree in a sudden need for fresh air. Claustrophobia had begun to develop in the small space at the top of the stairs, and it was nearly overwhelming. He gasped for breath and gulped in air, trying not to hyperventilate but coming extremely close. He wrapped his arms around himself and sank down into the tall grass, his breath coming in puffs of vapor. He was cold, so terribly cold, while around him the temperature was quite warm.
A shadow fell over him; he didnt have to look up to know it was Aeriss. He wasnt sure why this was happening to him. All he knew was that he was jealous of Cloud. Cloud was still human; he showed mercy and compassion, felt love and hate, sadness, hope and fear. But Sephiroth was a monster, void of feeling. Except, of course, jealousy, and the ever-present guilt.
Sephiroth, get up. He stared at Aeris. She stuck out her hand, and he took it, rising reluctantly. We have to go, she said, leading him away.
The council of the Ancients has decided to let us go out into the mortal world, to help Cloud and the others fight Zack. If we dont stop him hell destroy the Planet. She took his hand and led him away, past the forest and to a vast, sea green emptiness. The air was replaced with cold, clear water, and Sephiroth realized that he had no need to hold his breath--he was able to breathe in the water. Aeris, motioning for him to follow her lead, pushed off with her feet and swam upward, where light shined dimly at the surface. Sephiroth swam behind her, his long silver hair streaming out behind him.
They hit the surface after what seemed like hours, and Sephiroth blindly groped for land. A round, flat-topped object was to his right, and he grabbed hold and hauled himself up. Aeris was already up there. She helped him out of the water, and he was finally able to see where they were.
What they were sitting on was one of the steps that led to the alter where Aeriss life had ended. Sephiroth felt himself get cold, and he quickly made hi way up the stairs and into the upper part of the city. A chill, arctic wind blew in from the north, and he shivered uncontrollably. He felt sick, thinking about what he had done. Even the argument that he had been controlled by Jenova, no matter how true it was, didnt help. He was never completely in control of himself, and that scared him beyond belief.
Sephiroth squeezed his eyes shut as the memory of Aeriss death played in his mind. The feel of the masamune sliding effortlessly through her, the way her head slumped forward the instant the blade touched her-it was ingrained in his head. It would never go away. He would always be weighted down with his sins. He didnt deserve to be near her.
And he wouldnt be. He would leave her; let her save the Planet with her true friends.
She didnt need him anyway.
Aeris watched from the doorway of the center house, the one with the entrance to the crystal staircase. Sephiroth was standing at the crossroads in front of the giant conch-shaped structure, staring off into the distance at something Aeris couldnt see. The breeze stirred his hair into a long, silvery cloud, giving the impression that a thunderstorm was brewing on his head and back.
She moved slowly toward him, as she would a wounded animal, and gently laid her hand on his shoulder. He tensed and pulled away.
Ill remain with you until we find Cloud. Youll be safe with him. His voice was cold, distant. Aeris wondered fleetingly if it was something she had done.
And what about you? she asked. What will you do?
Sephiroth turned his head to the side, allowing her to see a glance of his profile. I will return here, where I cannot hurt anyone. His face softened slightly. I will help you if I can, but only then.
Aeris nodded, although she wished he would be more open-minded. She didnt think he would harm any innocent now that he was of sound body and mind. But as long as he was accompanying her, she had a chance of convincing him to stay. She began walking along the path; a lively, jaunty spring was in her step as she breathed in the fresh, clean air and realized that she was really alive.
It was a long, silent trek through the Sleeping Forest. Sephiroth remained five feet behind her the whole time, saying nothing and making no noise as he stepped carefully through the undergrowth. After a few unsuccessful attempts to make conversation, Aeris began to copy his actions. She was miffed because Sephiroth refused to talk to her, though she thought it was because he didnt care. In truth, Sephiroths deliberate unfriendliness was due to his wish not to get too close. If he could remain distant, just so that she was curtly polite to him, then it wouldnt be so hard to leave.
They paused just outside the perimeter of Bone Village. Aeris left Sephiroth and went to buy two chocobos. She returned soon, leading a pair of gold chocobos. Outside the city limits, they raced toward the ocean; plumes of sand rose and fell where the chocobos feet hit the ground, leaving large clear tracks along the beach. When they hit the water the birds seemed to move in smoother motions. Laughing, Aeris challenged Sephiroth in a race to the mainland and was only partly surprised when he accepted. They both leaned farther over the necks of their mounts, the salty mist drenching their faces and necks as they competed to see who would touch ground first. In the end it was a tie, although Sephiroth had very nearly won.
Soon enough they were at the outskirts of Wutai. Aeris felt the exhilaration that had sustained her during the trip begin to fade, knowing that soon she would be saying goodbye to Sephiroth. Reluctantly she dismounted from the chocobo and allowed it to wander off in search of food. Aeris glanced up at Sephiroth, hoping to persuade him to leave, but he avoided her eyes.
Id like to thank you, he said quietly. Aeris jumped a little, startled. She hadnt expected him to speak to her, much less thank her for anything. For bringing me back, I mean. Maybe now I can try to set things right. He stared off at the ocean again, which was beginning to become choppy as a storm blew in from the north. Im not sure what I could do, but maybe somehow I could
Sephiroth, please! Aeris grabbed his arm and tried to pull hi down. Please, come with me. You werent brought back just so you could do penance.
And how do you think your friends will react? Do you think they would welcome me with open arms? Sephiroth laughed mirthlessly. I destroyed Cloud and Tifas hometown. I killed their last remaining parents, and nearly killed them too. They would never accept me.
Then Ill just have to make them, because you are coming with me whether you like it or not! She put her hands on her hips and glared at him. Now get off the chocobo.
I already told you--
Get off now!
He looked down at her, unsure of what to do. On the one hand, he could very easily ride off and leave her on her own, and then he would be free to do whatever it was that would give him peace. She was weaker than he was, and with a good enough head start he could lose her easily.
But on the other hand, he couldnt just leave her. Something drew him to her, the way a moth is attracted to a candle in the dark. Besides, he wasnt really sure what he would do once he left, or even if he was being truthful about why he wanted to go.
He sighed, and then slid off the chocobo in resignation. Fine. But dont be too disappointed when your friends try to kill me.
They wont do that! I know they wont, Aeris said
confidently. Im sure theyll understand.
Aeris?! Tifa stared at her friend in shock. You-youre-but you cant be! She reached out and poked Aeris in the shoulder, surprised when her fingers touched something solid.
Aeris smiled. Its good to see you again, Tifa.
Anything else she may have wanted to say was lost as Tifa hugged her. She hugged the girl back, glad to be with her friend once more.
Suddenly Tifa stiffened as she saw the person standing behind Aeris. Her wine-colored eyes widened in fear. S-Sephiroth! she stuttered. Whats he doing here? Whats going on? She stumbled backwards and bumped into Barret, who had come up behind her to see who was at the door.
He rubbed his eyes in disbelief. Aeris? Youre alive! He picked her up in a bone-crushing hug, and Aeris turned purple as she struggled to breathe. When Barret finally put her down she was the shade of a ripe blueberry.
Marlene suddenly rushed outside, tired of being stuck inside. "It's the flower lady!" she cried gleefully. "Hi, flower lady!" She hugged Aeris's legs, not being able to reach much higher than her waist. Then Sephiroth, who was simply standing there, caught her attention.
"Hi! Are you the flower lady's friend?" she asked.
Sephiroth looked down at her, surprised that she wasn't afraid of him. The few people he and Aeris had run into had fled in terror from him. This child was too young to remember anything about him--and too naive to fear him.
He drew in a deep breath. "Yes, you could call me her friend."
Marlene smiled. "Then you're my friend too! Come on, or you'll miss the party!" She grabbed his cloak and pulled, trying to drag him inside. Hesitantly, Sephiroth took a step forward, shooting an uneasy glance at Aeris.
Barret looked up to call Marlene inside. Instinctively he raised his gun arm when he saw the man he'd already helped to kill. "Marlene, come here," he said tersely, his weapon trained on Sephiroth. "Get inside now."
"Daddy?" she questioned. "Why are you trying to shoot my friend?"
"He's not your friend!" Barret readied his gun and leveled it with Sephiroth's face. "Get inside, Marlene!"
"Barret, stop!" Aeris pulled his gun down before he could fire. "He's not your enemy. Don't shoot him!"
Barret glared at her. "Don't shoot?! He's a killer, Aeris! He's murdered countless people! You're one of his victims! Of course he's the enemy!" He raised his weapon again and motioned for Marlene to get out of the way. "C'mon, Marlene honey, get inside."
"No!" She clung to Sephiroth's legs and glowered at her father. "He's my friend and you're not gonna shoot 'im!" Then she stuck her tongue out and waited for him to react.
"Marlene, I said get in the house!" Barret rubbed his forehead in frustration. It didn't help when Marlene blew a raspberry at him. A vein just above his eye pulsed grotesquely, dangerously close to exploding. He had never taken very well to being disobeyed.
Sephiroth knelt down. Marlene was holding on to his legs so tightly that he was having trouble standing, and he was going to try and pry her off. Unfortunately, the sudden movement caused a trigger-happy (not the mention very jumpy) Barret to fire. The bullets flew by where Sephiroth's head had been seconds ago.
The sound made Marlene wrap her arms around Sephiroth's neck and squeeze tightly, frightened by the prospect of her father using her new friend for target practice. Ironically, she was squeezing so hard that she was beginning to cut off Sephiroth's air. She would asphyxiate him before Barret could shoot him.
Sephiroth swallowed with quite a bit of trouble. "Marlene--"
"Don't worry mister! I won't let my daddy hurt you!" She grasped tigher on her hold around his neck.
"Marlene, if you don't let go your daddy won't need to shoot me."
"Huh?" Marlene looked up into Sephiroth's bluish face. "Oops..." she muttered, turning pink. She let go and Sephiroth stood up again, rubbing his neck as his cheeks faded to their normal color.
Aeris pushed Barret's gun arm back down. "Let him inside, Barret."
"Are you crazy, Aeris? He killed you, tried to kill us, and now you want to let him inside?" Barret stared at her, unable to believe what he was hearing. "Absolutely not!"
"I'll take full responsibility for what he does. If he goes crazy again and kills someone or burns down another town then it's all completely my fault. But we need him--I can feel it. The Planet is telling me that we need him." She looked at him imploringly, the way a child might when he wanted a piece of candy.
Barret glowered at her, and then stomped his foot and stared at the floor. "Damn planet better not be wrong," he muttered. He scowled at Sephiroth. "All right, get your skinny butt in here. But I'm warning you, if you make one wrong move I'm not gonna hesitate to shoot you on the spot!"
Sephiroth nodded. "As you wish." He stepped up to the door slowly, aware that Barret was still trigger-happy. As he walked past Tifa he could sense her shrinking back from him, recoiling from him. He sighed inwardly. People would do that for as long as he was alive. He might as well get used to it.
The minute he walked into the kitchen Cloud had his sword pressed up against Sephiroth's throat, and Cid was right behind him, the Venus Gospel pointed straight at the swordsman's heart. Sephiroth found himself being pushed up against the wall as Cloud's hate-filled eyes burned into his. "What do you want, you bastard?" he snarled. "Can't you stay dead?"
"Cloud, stop!" Aeris shouted as she rushed into the room. "It's okay!"
"Aeris?" Cloud stared in disbelief. "Oh my god..." he breathed, not sure if he was hallucinating or not. "What... what's going on?" He dropped his sword, and it clattered harmlessly on the floor at his feet. Sephiroth breathed in relief as Cid's spear was put down. The pilot scratched his head.
"This is making absolutely no goddamn sense," he muttered.
"Tell me about it," Sephiroth responded. "I'm not even sure Aeris knows what is going on." Cid glanced at him for a moment, and nodded his agreement.
Cloud found that he could not produce an intelligible sentence. He simply stuttered and stared, and wondered if maybe he should pinch himself to make sure it was not some kind of dream. Aeris just smiled and hugged him.
"Could someone please explain just what the hell is going on here?" Cid shouted. "Because all I can figure out is that we've got two dead people in the kitchen."
Aeris explained the situation. Cloud sighed. "Great. So now what are we supposed to do?"
"Well, I should think that was obvious. We have to figure out some way to keep Zack from rising to power," Tifa said.
But how? Red XIII asked. We dont have a single clue as to what exactly he means to do. He chewed on his lower lip for a moment, thinking. Unless Thats it! Red XIII smiled as he remembered something important. In my study there is a book on Cetran prophecies. It includes the prophecy of Meteor, and mentions an aftermath. Maybe it can tell us something about Zack.
Brilliant! Aeris smiled at the big feline. I knew youd be the one to come up with something. To Cosmo Canyon, then!
Outside the sun was setting. Cloud shook his head. It would be better if we waited until morning. Its too late to go tonight. The others nodded in agreement, and one by one they left the room, each with their own pretenses. They filtered out until only Sephiroth and Cloud remained.
Silence hung thick in the air as the two men regarded each other through watchful eyes. Clouds sword was across the room, but he took his time retrieving it. Sephiroth made no move to stop him. He just stared, his eyes never leaving Cloud for a moment.
It would be easy to kill him, Cloud thought. Ive done it before. Just say it was self-defense and no one will know the difference. No one will care, either. Only Aeris He blinked. What was he thinking? He might hate the man that stood before him, but he was no murderer. Unless he had a reason to, he wouldnt touch Sephiroth.
Shinras ex-general could feel the hostility radiating out from Cloud. Slowly he sat down in the chair nearest to the window and gazed outside. The suns dying rays stained his face a deep orange-red. Shadow fell across his eyes where the hair blocked his face, and the blue-green Mako eyes glowed eerily. It reminded Cloud of a cat, the way their eyes seemed to glow in the darkness. Only cats eyes reflected what little light there was in a darkened room, while Mako eyes generated a light of their own. Silver hair reflected red sunlight and purple clouds.
It was a long time before either of them moved. Only when complete darkness filled the room did Cloud remove his gaze from Sephiroth. He walked out of the room without looking back, but it was obvious to the older man that Cloud would be watching him.
He waited until he heard Cloud go upstairs, then rose and stretched his stiff muscles. Voices floated in from the other room, and he walked in to see what was going on. Conversation killer was the phrase that echoed through Sephiroths head as he took a seat by Aeris, who seemed to be the only one not unnerved by his presence. The only other person in the room was Red XIII, who had been eagerly discussing his aforementioned book of prophecies with Aeris before Sephiroth walked in.
Oh Nanaki, dont stop just because Sephiroths here, Aeris pleaded. Hes going to have to know this too, and he may be able to help figure it out. Her green eyes beseeched him to continue.
Red felt himself giving in. Very well, he said with a little shake of his shoulders. His flaming tail wavered back and forth behind him, creating a mesmerizing image. I dont remember exactly what the prophecy said, but there was something in there about a monster that could destroy the world, and it could only be stopped by three sacrifices. These sacrifices had some special characteristic that they all shared. He shook his head. Im afraid I cannot recall what that was, not off the top of my head. We will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.
Very interesting, Sephiroth murmured, tapping a finger on his chin. It was intriguing, this prophecy, and he remembered seeing something like it in the Temple of the Ancients. He had not paid much attention, being preoccupied with Cloud and fulfilling the foretelling of Meteor, but he did remember a drawing of the monster Red had mentioned. It had had an unusual number of limbs, and an oddly shaped head. He couldn't remember much more of it, only that it had seemed to be holding a weapon of some sort.
"Well, we'd better get some sleep. We'll be getting up rather early tomorrow," Red said, curling up in his spot in the overstuffed armchair.
Aeris got up off the couch and went upstairs, calling out "Good night" to Red and Sephiroth. Red looked sharply at Sephiroth for a moment, then laid his head down. Sephiroth decided to lay down on the couch, and drifted off the sleep rather quickly, considering he was surrounded by people who wanted him dead.
AN: Finally, I've gotten the second chapter up! Sorry it took so long.
Spawn of Piccolo's Fanfiction