Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in this story; I am simply burrowing them for my own demented entertainment. Please also note that this fan-fic does not take into account any events that will occur in the recently announced "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children" CG movie.

Author's Notes: Thoughts are written in Italics.

A New Beginning

Part IV

By Wingless Demon


-"I think we may have strayed a bit out of character." -W.D.


Cloud Strife reluctantly opened his eyes as the morning sunlight trespassed into his bedroom. "What a terrible night," he mumbled tiredly.

Still somewhat sore, he managed to pull himself upright and stumble out of bed. After throwing on a somewhat loose T-shirt, Cloud left his bedroom to begin the morning.

Yawning loudly, the blond headed for the kitchen to prepare his usual breakfast, but after only a few steps he paused in the hallway, and stared suspiciously at the wooden floor in front of him. A dark, unfolded cloth robe with a matching cloak lay crumbled on the floor at his feet. It was the same robe that Sephiroth had used to disguise himself on the night before.

"I know you are here!" he yelled, "Show yourself!"

The only answer the irate sounding man received was the usual silence of his home.

Cloud quickly made his way to the living room but froze at the sight of what awaited him there. Sitting comfortably in his favorite chair and clad only in a pair of old, battle-worn, black pants, was his old adversary.

His impressive physique was just as Cloud had remembered from their last battle; except only now the smooth, well-conditioned body was slightly marred with a few small cuts and scars, no doubt the result of the icy Northern Cave collapsing on him.

Several long moments passed before the blond finally realized that he had allowed his eyes to roam over the other man's exposed flesh. Somewhat alarmed with himself, he quickly glanced down at the floor to avoid the sight of the former Shinra commander. What are you thinking Strife?

Sephiroth held out his hand, and indicated that Cloud should do the same thing. "I want you to have this," he said softly.

Somewhat hesitantly, Cloud walked towards the other man and opened his hand to receive whatever it was that Sephiroth had wanted to give to him.

The silver-haired swordsman reached forward and dropped a small, black, triangle shaped stone into the waiting palm. During the brief exchange, their hands touched, and much to Sephiroth's delight the brief contact had brought another momentary tinge of red to Cloud's cheeks.

"Big deal," Cloud said sarcastically, quickly pulling his hand away, "it's a dirty, black rock."

"Actually my friend," Sephiroth corrected, "that is the remains of the black materia."

"We're not friends!" the blond snapped back bitterly.

The silver haired man narrowed his bright, green eyes, "You are right," he agreed, "we are more… much more…"

Cloud froze when Sephiroth closed his hand over the black stone in his palm. The small broken materia fragment emitted a slight warmth when their joined hands held it.

The younger warrior's breath quickened at the strange sensation that the black rock was creating in him. It seemed to be spreading up through the veins in his arm and quickly branching out. He could feel his blood temperature rise and his skin begin to tingle with the strange warmth as it spread over the rest of his body. It was a sensual rush.

What… what is this? What is he doing to me?

Sephiroth stared at the younger man in front of him as he stepped forwards and closed the small gap of space that remained between them.

"H… Hey," Cloud stuttered, "get away from…"

But the former SOLDIER commander was not about to allow blond warrior to utter any threatening words. He released his grip on the materia fragment, and moved his hand into the wild, blond hair that crowned Cloud's head. He forced the younger man's head forward to silence the protesting mouth with his own.

Cloud's eyes grew impossibly wide when his lips were sealed to those of his old enemy's. The small rock fragment tumbled from his hand and fell to the floor as his entire body started to feel strangely numb. "No!" he mentally protested, "do not let him do this to you!"

The blond warrior managed to overcome his temporary paralysis and shoved Sephiroth away to break the hold on his lips. "Get away from me!"

The legendary swordsman stumbled backwards, but easily managed to regain his balance. He smiled slightly as he took in the sight of the younger man that had shoved him away; his face was flushed a light shade of red, his blue eyes were glassy and half closed, and his chest was heaving rapidly as he tried to regain his breath. Despite Cloud's protest, it appeared that he had enjoyed their brief, intimate contact to at least some degree.

The uncertainty on Cloud's face quickly vanished though, and was replaced with an angry glare. "Get out," he cursed through clenched teeth, "now!"


Sephiroth sat motionless on a grassy hillside; just a few minutes walk away from Cloud's home. He had been sitting there for many hours now watching the night sky slowly begin to glow with the approach of morning. He figured that most people had been sound asleep for at least the last several hours.

In what now seemed to be the distant past, the ex-SOILDER could remember that he had often gone days, or even weeks without any rest, and still not suffer from the effects of fatigue or discomfort. For him sleep was a luxury, not a necessity. Sephiroth felt that he did not have the time for such endeavors right now; he had far too much on his mind.

"What is it about him," the swordsman mumbled quietly to himself, "why should I care?"

He was definitely treading in uncharted territory. Sephiroth still could not completely understand why he had been obsessing himself over Cloud for the past several days. He had never felt the need to associate himself with anyone like this before.

The brief, yet intimate contact that he had recently forced on the younger man was just a way confirm what he was feeling more than anything else. Unfortunately the taste of the blond man's lips did little to help matters and did even less help satisfy this unfamiliar hunger.

The former SOILDER commander had occasionally pondered friendships, both casual and intimate, during his later days among Shinra's elite military force. However he had always came to the same conclusion; such things were pointless. "After all, why raise your expectations of someone?" he had often been told by the maniacal Dr. Hojo, "They will just be more likely to disappoint and fail you."

"He was wrong," Sephiroth said to himself, "A group of friends, relying on each other for support, is what stopped me and Meteor. I alone was clearly no match for them."

In his nearly forgotten childhood, he could vaguely recall keeping company with Shinra scientists and staff. Later, when he had become a member of SOILDER, Sephiroth had occasionally socialized with the other troops, and in more recent and more disturbing days, he had debated the constant, unrelenting voice of JENOVA in his mind.

But now things were different; there were no more scientists, no more military underlings, and certainly no more voices in his mind to keep him company. He was alone.


Cloud stared blankly at the television screen, even though the small appliance was turned off. He could see his reflection in the dark glass square staring back at him with the same intensity. "Look what you have become," he mumbled softly, "alone in an old house, staring at your reflection. How the mighty have fallen."

"Indeed," the reflection on the dark TV screen answered back, "long gone are your days of adventuring. Instead you sit at home talking to yourself. Pretty pathetic… but still not as pathetic as `him'"

"Yes," Cloud agreed, apparently unalarmed by the awkward daydream that he seemed to have slipped into, "my former idol has fallen even further than me. He wants my forgiveness; my friendship."

The faint reflection moved closer as it spoke, becoming larger on the screen. "He wants more than that..."

The ex-mercenary sighed softly, again nodding his head in agreement with the eerie illusion. "I know he does. If he would have asked me all those years ago, before the madness, I would have given it to him without a second thought."

"Stop fooling yourself," the former hero's reflection answered, its voice growing quieter as it spoke, "you still want to."


Cloud's body violently snapped forward from his couch, nearly sending him to the floor. Cold sweat fell from his blond spikes of hair as he looked through the window at the opposite side of the room.

How long have I been sitting here?

Judging by the appearence of the late afternoon sun, he speculated that he must have been asleep for at least several hours.

He slowly rose from the large piece of furniture and eyed the small television in front of him with suspicion.

"Have I been fooling myself?" he said, giving the small appliance an expectant glare, "have I…?"


With the massive blade of Masamune resting over his shoulder and his own huge, cleaver-like buster sword strapped to his back, Cloud quickly made his way down the winding path that led away from his home.

The blond warrior would not have to travel very far however, to find what he was looking for.


Sephiroth watched from a distance as the small town of Kalm began to light up in preparation for the approaching night. The sun had taken on a bright orange glow, which indicated that the final hour of daylight had begun.

The silver haired swordsman looked down at he grass in front of him curiously as a strange, thin shadow danced about wildly on the ground.

The shadow quickly dissipated however, when a long, silver sword landed on the ground to take its place.

"Masamune" Sephiroth said, immediately standing upright and turning around.

His eyes quickly fell on the unmistakable figure of Cloud Strife, who stood ready with his own weapon, prepared to strike if necessary.

"So," Sephiroth said as he reached down to retrieve his sword, "after all this time… you still want to fight me?"

The younger warrior remained silent; his glowing blue eyes reflected a mix of strong emotions as he watched Sephiroth move into a defensive position with his large blade.

The former Shinra General approached the blond slowly and held his own weapon ready at the height of his shoulders.

Cloud could not help but sense something strange about the whole situation, something strangely familiar. He closed his eyes for a moment as he tried to remember; but when opened them again his surroundings had dramatically changed.

I remember…

A seemingly endless blackness surrounded both himself and Sephiroth where they both stood facing each other. The face of his adversary was now twisted with a sadistic grin that had not been present only moments ago and the silver-haired warrior's now bloodshot green eyes stared back at him expectantly.

The eerie stare ignited something powerful deep within him, and Cloud immediately lost his restraint and charged at his enemy in a fit of anger and rage.

He cleaved at the former Shinra commander continuously; strike after strike with his massive weapon, never giving Sephiroth even a moment to react.

Every swipe, every violent thrust with the huge blade connected with the legendary warrior's body. When Cloud finally relented, Sephiroth, now battered and fatally wounded, stumbled backwards and fell to his knees.

The fallen silver-haired warrior slowly looked up at the one who had slain him as his breath became labored. His eyes were no longer bloodshot and the sadistic grin had vanished. The only emotions that Cloud could interpret on Sephiroth's face now were disbelief and sadness.

He closed his eyes and turned away to avoid the helpless stare of the fallen figure before him. When his eyelids rose again however, Cloud saw the same face; only now it was looking down on him from overhead.


End of Part IV

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