Disclaimer: Why did you have to remind me? (weeps bitterly in corner)

Author Notes: Thank you Dina and Sofia! (throws out ecstatic kisses) They were so kind as to help me with the math concerning Cosmo Canyon’s time. Thank you!

Warning: Um...hasn’t changed since prologue.

Rating: Eventually NC-17

Beta: Malfoy-hima, who is getting a nice, if slightly twisted, ff7 education out of this. :)


Chapter III

By tir-synni


Tifa arrived first, not having to sneak a quick shag in first like Vincent and Cid. Cid simply glared at Reeve when the other man began to comment on the state of his clothes. The man quickly looked away, scanning through the papers on Hojo his secretary had delivered. By the time Barret arrived at three from Kalm, Vincent sat strategically in Cid’s lap, his hand calmly covering the gruff pilot’s mouth, and the twitch in Reeve’s eye now extended to his whole right side. Barret’s tirade paused a moment at the sight before plunging on.

“What the fuck did you call me for?” he roared. “You woke Elm-uh, Marlene up and scared her. Normal people don’t call at two-fuckin’-o’ clock in the morning!”

Cid gnawed on Vincent’s flesh hand, his eyes glittering at the names. Vincent’s expression never changed, but he wiggled his bottom. Cid sat back contently.

“Actually,” Reeve offered helpfully, “we weren’t able to get a hold of you until a quarter-“ One look at Barret’s gun silenced him.

The gnawing resumed. Another wiggle. Peace.

“We should find Cloud,” Tifa urged. She rose from her chair and began pacing. “That should be our top priority at the moment!”

Barret eyed her, his rant stilling again. His eyes screamed “Stalker!”, but Vincent knew the other man would never say a word. He never called her that during the quest, when Cloud begged to sleep in the same room as them, and Vincent knew he would not say it now. Unfortunately, Cid had no such problem. By the time the rest of AVALANCHE arrived, Vincent figured his palm would be raw. Or his ass. One of the two.

Barret cleared his throat. “Right. Anyway, what the hell did you call us for? Where’s the rest of AVALANCHE?”

Reeve glanced worriedly at the gun. Sighing, the large black man tucked his gun arm behind his back. Only then did Reeve speak. “The rest of AVALANCHE, besides Cloud, have been contacted and are on the way. As I wish for all of AVALANCHE to be gathered before I tell the whole tale, I’ll simply say that the Planet is endangered again. The Planet needs its warriors again.”

Barret scowled, but before he could speak, Tifa spoke up again. “Precisely! Cloud’s omnislash would be a great help.”

Barret’s mouth move silently for a moment, and then he walked to sit beside Vincent and Cid on the couch. He didn’t even frown at their “public display of affection.” He stared at Tifa as she began pacing in front of Reeve’s desk. Reeve buried his face in his hands as Tifa began, “You should send out people! Really look for him. He could help us!”

Only Vincent’s sharp hearing picked up Reeve’s grumble: “But I thought you said he needed *our* help. . . .” His cape hid the slightest quirk of his lips.

“How long until the others arrive?” Barret breathed, staring at Tifa’s pacing form. Her clenched fists, calloused and strong, slightly intimidated her watchers.

“About two hours,” Vincent murmured. His graceful hand never strayed from Cid’s frowning mouth.

Barret groaned. “Fuck.”

“Fush!” Cid agreed.


“Go get him, kid. I’ll be okay.”

{Look, child. . . .}

“I . . . can’t forgive . . . you . . . Seph. . . .”

{See your sins.}

“Cloud . . . don’t let them . . . take you, too.”

{Remember your pains.}

“What a pretty boy. So pretty, even with that weird green glow. Don’t think Hojo would mind if we had some fun.”

{Remember your shame.}

“Hang on a little longer, luv. Just . . . please . . . don’t end up like Seph.”

{And never forget me again.}

“Leave me alone, you bitch! Get the hell out of my head!”

{And never leave me again.}


Thankfully, Nanaki led a sleepy Yuffie into Reeve’s office before 5:00. Yuffie awoke at the sight of Vincent gyrating lightly on Cid’s lap, his cape tossed across Cid’s shoulders, slyly sneaking Cid’s spear from his clenching fist, Barret fingering his gunarm, and Reeve twitching wildly behind his desk, for some odd reason holding his right hand securely onto his desk with his left hand. She glanced at Tifa, off on her usual “Cloud” rant and nodding knowingly. Nanaki simply sighed and stalked over to Reeve. Gently, he butted Reeve’s side with his head.

“Nanaki!” Reeve exclaimed, his eyes lighting up. “Yuffie. We’ve been waiting for you!”

Barret, Cid, and Vincent stopped what they were doing and blinked at Yuffie and Nanaki. Yuffie smirked at the grin on Barret’s face. All she had to do was save them from the dreaded, obsessive Tifa to get that response. Knew the guy for three years and that’s the first time he grinned when he saw her. Vincent nodded at her, and Yuffie giggled at the obvious amusement in those crimson eyes.

“Ohayo gozaimasu, min’na!” Yuffie greeted warmly. Cid grunted something, but Yuffie couldn’t tell with Vincent’s hand over the pilot’s mouth. She waved at them. When she first learned of their arrangement, she had been aroused beyond measure, though not quite by the idea of Cid. Now, months later, their pairing still aroused her beyond measure. She would have preferred Cloud and Vincent, though.

“What the fuck took you two so long?” Barret growled, empathically avoiding looking at Tifa’s pouting face.

Nanaki’s good eye remained calm. “Yuffie traveled from Wutai, and she had to stop at Cosmo Canyon to pick me up. The elders walk, they rarely travel by mechanical means. She left as soon as she could, and we left immediately after she landed in my home. We were forced to rush dangerously as it was.”

His voice remained gentle, but there was a small edge to his voice that warned Barret not to insult Yuffie. Yuffie grinned cheerfully. She didn’t mind. For the past two years, she lived as the Lady of Wutai, constantly fighting with her father as she struggled to aid her people and not lose herself in the process. Barret seemed nothing in comparison . . . off the battlefield, anyway.

“So,” she yawned, stretching dramatically. All eyes shifted to her. “What’s the big emergency? I need my beauty sleep!”

Cid snickered behind Vincent’s palm. Yuffie proudly ignored him.

Yet her smile faded as she took in how Reeve’s hand shook when he ran it through his hair. “Jenova’s back,” Reeve said simply.

Vincent’s hand dropped from Cid’s mouth. Cid just gaped.

“I thought Jenova was dead,” Yuffie protested.

“We killed the bitch!” Barret rejoined. His dark eyes flashed. “We fuckin’ fought her a piece at a time! Strife omnislashed the silver-haired freak. She died with Sephiroth!”

Cid regained his voice. “So why don’t we just blow her to smithereens again? If you can't do it, I'll swing the Highwind by and blast that bitch to pieces all over again!"

Tifa opened her mouth. Reeve hastily cut her off before she could use that as another reason to immediately find Cloud. “Jenova *was* dead. That’s the problem. But for some reason we can’t fathom, she’s reviving. It’s like she’s drawing energy from some outside source.” Reeve shook his head wearily. “Like some external battery!”

Snorting, Barret leaned back against the couch. “So? That's the major emergency? Let's just go blast those monsters all to hell and back, and then I can get back to . . . Marlene. No big deal."

Tifa whirled on Barret. “But what about-“


Silence reigned. Five pairs of eyes bore into Nanaki’s embarrassed face, slightly shielded by one paw against his nose. “I sneezed!” he said defensively.

“Sneezed?” Yuffie exclaimed in disbelief. “You went queep!”

“Queep!” Cid snickered. “Lions go queep!”

Giggling softly to herself, Yuffie glanced at Cid’s flushed face. Frequent sex certainly improved *his* disposition!

Vincent glanced between Yuffie and Cid’s amused faces, sighing before clearing his throat loudly. Nanaki shot him a grateful look as all eyes turned to Vincent. “Reeve, why exactly is Jenova so dangerous? Why is the Planet panicking at her revival?”

Reeve sighed deeply. “We have discovered notes in Hojo’s handwriting dating back over twenty years ago. Originally, when Jenova was discovered, Hojo and the other scientists believed, mistakenly, that Jenova was a Cetra. I believe you discovered that in your travels, as well as the fact that Hojo used Jenova samples in his experiments on Sephiroth. However, what you may not know is the true depth of the Jenova experiments. Jenova cells were incorporated into Sephiroth before his birth. It is now believed. . . .” Reeve closed his eyes momentarily. “It is now believed that Sephiroth was not responsible for his actions during Meteor. That Jenova controlled him. From our reports, Sephiroth showed no unusual actions until after meeting with Jenova in Nibelhelm. It is presumed that close proximity with Jenova's body allowed the Jenova cells to seize control of Sephiroth's body."

Yuffie’s sharp eyes noticed Vincent sit a little straighter at this. She watched his lips move. What . . . ? ‘Ask me anything you want, but don’t ask me that.’ What by Leviathan was that about?

“We saw him!” Tifa cried. “Sephiroth . . . he attacked. . . .”

“You said yourself,” Barret cut off, “he seemed calm before, totally professional, when he first arrived in Nibelhelm.” Barret scowled. “That bastard . . . didn’t even know what he was doin’.”

Vincent closed his eyes. “‘It’s not Sephiroth we’re fighting.’” He leaned back against Cid. “Cloud told me that.”

Reeve nodded grimly. “Cloud was in SOLDIER. He probably was acquainted with him.”

Vincent frowned but didn’t say anything. Yuffie narrowed her eyes thoughtfully at him.

Holding Vincent gently around the waist, Cid laughed. The bitter sound cut through the room. “The great General . . . Nothing more than a fuckin’ puppet!”

No one replied to that.

Reeve shook his head absently. “In Jenova’s original rise to power, Sephiroth was her ‘battery.’ According to Hojo’s notes, several other people were subjected to the Jenova experiments. However, due to some ‘mistake,’ he never specifies what, exactly, most of the subjects died. Two survived, only for one of them to die later. In Hojo’s words, only one ‘experiment’ survived. This must be the ‘battery’ supplying Jenova power.” He huffed. “However, Hojo never dignified his experiments with anything more than labels. We have no idea who this person is. We’re still looking through the notes, but. . . .”

Nanaki growled low in his throat. “We could have another Sephiroth on our hands.”

Barret surged forward. The couch rocked, and Cid hastily grabbed Vincent. The ex-Turk’s pensive expression faded for a moment, shifting into amusement. “So what are we suppos’ to do?” Barret snapped. “Kill the guy or try to get the bitch out of ‘im?”

Tifa scowled. “We kill him. We can’t afford-“

The phone rang. Reeve glared evilly at it before answering, but Yuffie had to wonder at the look of death Cid gave it. What was his grudge against phones?

“Hel-*What?!?* Where? . . . Get the Turks out there now! I don’t care what they’re doing, I want them there, now!”

Reeve slammed the phone down and looked up at the other members of AVALANCHE. “Monsters, in the city!”


When Cloud first heard the screams, he thought he was still dreaming. However, the only woman he had ever heard screaming in his nightmares was his mother, and his mother’s voice had never been that high-pitched. With a gasp, Cloud started awake. It sounded like his whole hallway was awake, and by the odd roars reverberating throughout the building, Cloud couldn’t blame them. What the fuck was that?

"Shit!" Cloud snarled. Another scream echoed, followed by a roar. "Double shit! What are monsters doing here?"

Cloud leaped out of bed, only to be faced with a dilemma: Should he put some pants on or grab his sword and materia? Cloud growled, lunging for his blade. He had a shirt on. He was decent.

The door exploded open as if struck by a high level lightning spell. Cloud shrieked as chunk of wood pierced his hand, mere inches from the hilt of the Buster sword. In the time it took Cloud to stumble backwards, a large black monster stood between him and his blade. Cloud blinked in shock and pain. It looked . . . like Chaos! And that speed!

“Triple shit!” he choked, holding his bleeding hand to his chest. Helplessly, he eyed his beloved sword, not to mention the materia it held. The monster did not move, simply growled at Cloud. Cloud stared at it. “What is going on?!”

There was another crash from outside the bedroom, and Cloud darted a glance at it. His long golden hair tumbled in his face, and a new string of curses emerged. Attacked without his weapons in only his shirt and underwear, and to make things worse, his hair had yet to go into its usual spikes. What else could go wrong?

‘Stupid question’, Cloud decided a moment later as yet another onyx demon entered the room, followed by another. He took a cautious step back, and the three creatures glared at him, daring him to try anything. All right, his weapons were over there, his pants were over there, and the only way out of the room was over there. Thank you, Murphy, for clarifying that stupid law!

‘No,’ Cloud realized, sneaking a quick look behind him. ‘There’s another way out.’

As one, the three demons lunged towards him, but Cloud was already moving. He backflipped once, twice...

And three times over the balcony rail.

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