Bittersweet Revenge

Chapter Three

The Galian Beast came skidding to a halt, finding that it now faced a dead end. A low snarl escaped its throat, as it wildly looked around then roared in frustration and pain. A few seconds later it bent over, low to the ground, it's body shaking violently. Sephiroth watched this from the shadows, frowning slightly. A pale glow surrounded the creature then, and a few moments later it vanished, and Cyan reappeared, falling to the ground, almost as if all his strength had been drained out of him somehow. Sephiroth cackled evilly as he emerged from the shadows, grinning as Cyan looked up at him weakly, but also fearfully. He slowly drew his sword, advancing toward him as any hunter would its prey, watching with bitter amusement as Cyan began backing away until his back struck the wall, all the while remaining on the ground.

"That was some trick you pulled, little brother," he hissed as he stopped before him, the point of his sword pointing at his chest. Had he not stressed the words, he thought that the boy would have taken him seriously. Instead he whimpered softly, never looking away from him, his body still shaking violently. "Why is it that you're shaking? Surely not from fear..." he began, watching as Cyan shook his head in response. "Then why?"

"I...I may be able to transform, but I can stay within that form as long as my father can. With each transformation comes a heavy load, and I'm physically and mentally stripped of all my strength for a long duration," he explained in an exhausted voice. He exhaustion could clearly be seen in his eyes as well.

"Then why bother?"

"I can't control it. It just happens."

"Obviously you can control it," he hissed as he applied more pressure. Cyan winced as a sharp pain shot through his chest, and again he felt something stir within him.

"Stop, please..." he begged, closing his eyes. Sephiroth grinned, kneeling down.

"Why? What's going to happen?"

"I...I'll transform again...and if that happens...I'll have no control over it..."

"It, meaning Galian Beast?" he asked. A slow nod was his reply. "But you just said..."

"I have no control over the transformation, but I can control the beast...barely. That's why, instead of attacking earlier...I tried instead to retreat...but if I transform now, in the condition I'm in...I'll have no control over the beast, and it will attack, or worse..."

"Or worse?" he inquired, again applying more pressure. Cyan winced once more, tightly closing his eyes.

"Galian Beast has the capability of setting large amounts of things ablaze with a single spell...this whole place could go up, should the Beast cast the spell, and we would be trapped within..."

"I'll take that chance," he snarled, as he rose, impaling the blade in the boy's chest, nowhere near his heart. A good challenge was now in order, and he wanted to test the strength of his brother's other half, if one could call it that. Cyan released a loud yelp and again was surrounded by a bright glow. Moments latter a set of claws came hurtling towards his head, and he could do nothing but leap back, laughing. If this was the best the beast had to offer then he had nothing to worry about. A sharp pain interrupted his thoughts as several claw marks appeared on his chest and Galian snarled at him, lunging forward, ready to tear him limb from limb. Again Sephiroth laughed, dodging the attack as he vanished from sight, reappearing behind the beast, swinging his sword at it, but its reflexes were faster, and it was able to dodge, striking him with its tail. He grunted softly, casting a lighting spell as he stumbled back, his back striking the wall. The beast roared in pain and rage as it leapt forward once more, only to receive a boot to the face. It stumbled back then roared. Bright flashes of light followed and it took Sephiroth a moment to realize that it had foolishly cast its fire spell, the one Cyan had warned him about. He cursed softly as the rafters above and the walls surrounding them burst into flame, surrounding them with an intense heat. As he watched, Galian fell to the ground, and soon Cyan reappeared, unconscious. This was all he needed. Again he cursed softly, storming over to the boy and hauling him to his feet before vanishing from sight.

Tifa woke with a start, wildly looking around the dark room. Over near a window, she heard someone stir then Vincent appeared beside the bed, staring at her worriedly. "Vincent? Where are we? Where's Cloud? Is he all right?" she fearfully asked, trying to sit up, finding that he only forced her back down with gentle hands.

"Calm down Tifa. We're in the hospital at Kalm. I brought you here after I treated your wound the best I could. The doctors found poisoning in your system and said that in order to fully heal it and save your life, you needed a blood transfusion..."

"Poisoning?" she asked staring at him blankly. He nodded once then looked away, as if ashamed of something. She made a sort of poutie face as she watched him. This was unlike him, showing emotions like this. "What's wrong Vincent?"

"As I said, you needed a blood transfusion in order to live. I was the only one present, and so I offered to assist them in anyway possible. I never intended for them to use my blood, but they did. No I fear the worst has happened..."

"What could you possibly mean by that?" she asked, smiling a weak smile. He looked at her then held up a mirror for her to take, she did, looking at her reflection. What greeted her both frightened her, but intrigued her at the same time. Instead of her chestnut eyes, she now had ruby ones, much like Vincent's. What did this mean? "I-I don't understand. What does this mean? Vincent?"

"It means that I have passed my curse onto you," he bitterly answered as he rose to his feet, walking away from her. She sat up, watching him sadly. He seemed so helpless at this moment.

"You don't have a curse, Vincent," she assured him, wishing she could do something to ease his pain. He looked at her then looked out the window, attempting to hide the fact that he was about to cry.

"I do, and not only have a passed it on to Cyan, but now you as well. I don't blame you or him if you hate me..."

"You saved my life Vincent, and for that I'm grateful. I don't care if you passed on your traits to me. I see nothing wrong with being able to transform into other creatures. As long as you use it for the right purpose, there's nothing wrong with it. Cyan doesn't hate you, nor do I. I never could, and I doubt I ever will..."

"The Shinra mansion burned to the ground last night. Many claim they heard sounds of battle somewhere within, and moments later it burst into flame. Only one thing is capable of such destruction, and I believe that Sephiroth has somehow managed to capture Cyan," he interrupted, desperately trying to change the subject. Tifa's eyes widen with shock.

"But...Cloud's body was in the basement..."

"No. After I treated your wound and brought you here, I returned and removed his body from there. Its safely back at one of my homes. No one knows of it, or of Cloud's demise."

"Why did you...?"

"Because I have a feeling that he isn't out of the picture yet. Somehow he's going to be revived. We have only to wait and see."

"Vincent..."she began, looking away from him. "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you've done, but I have one last thing to ask of you..." she continued. She heard the sound of movement and looked up, finding that he was now standing at the foot of the bed. Had she not received his enhanced senses from him, she was sure she wouldn't have even heard him move. "Please help me forget. Help my get back on my feet, and help me forget all the pain of being rejected by the one person in the world I thought I loved," she finished, bowing her head in defeat as the tears began to fall.

Vincent stared at her helplessly for several moments then moved to the side of the bed, sitting beside her and pulling her into his arms. He hated to see her cry. "I wish I could erase all your pain Tifa, but I can't even erase my own..." he began but froze as she looked up into his eyes then leaned forward, pulling him closer as she kissed him passionately on the lips, linking her fingers in his hair. He blinked a couple times then closed his eyes all together, wrapping his arms around her slender waist, pulling her as close as comfortably possible, without furthering her injury. Was this what Cyan had meant when he said that he needed to find happiness?

Elena hurried towards the inn, still attempting to reassure herself that she had seen who she had. Rude stood outside, leaning against the wall, apparently waiting for Reno, as usual. "Rude!" she called walking up to him. He shifted his gaze from the ground to her, raising an eyebrow, his eyes hidden behind his glasses, which he refused to take off, still. "Is Reno supposed to show up? I have something worth wild to tell him, and you," she began but froze as the door opened. Reno emerged a few moments later, followed by Rufus, who was no wearing a black suit, which was strikingly similar to the white one he had previously worn.

"Reno...Elena says she has something worth wild to tell us..."

"Then get to the point already Elena. We have to find a member of Avalanche as soon as poss..."

"I already did," she interrupted, smiling triumphantly. Reno closed his mouth as he stared at her, running a hand over his eyes before he dared speak again. However it was Rufus who broke the silence first.

"Who, and where?" he demanded, staring at her. She blinked a couple times then pointed in the direction of the hospital. Just then a lone figure exited, brushing his red cloak aside as he looked around the now silent town. He gaze rested on them for a moment then he turned away, acting as if he hadn't noticed them. "Valentine? What's he doing here?"

"Apparently Tifa Lockheart had been injured somehow, and he brought her here. I haven't seen hide nor hair of Strife anywhere, which is starting to make me think he isn't here..."

"Interesting...perhaps Avalanche has split up...?" Reno suggested.

"An interesting concept, but utterly wrong," someone interrupted. They all faced the newcomer, finding Vincent before them, his arms folded across his chest. "Standing around in a group only draws attention to yourself. Remember that next time," he added, no emotion on his face.

"If Avalanche hasn't split up, then why aren't the rest of them here?"

"We have split up, but for different reasons. You see, that little tidbit of information you fed us was true. Someone was killing innocents, and it turned out to be Sephiroth. We split up to track him down. Sadly though, we have yet to hear from the others."

"And Strife? Where's he hiding his little spiky ass?"

"He's not hiding anywhere. In fact, he's temporarily taken out of the picture, due to unforeseen circumstances..."

"Sephiroth got to him, didn't he, and now you're all scurrying about with your tails between your legs, too scared to do anything else..."

"I'd watch what you say if I were you. I won't hesitate to beat the living shit out of you," he interrupted as he glared at Reno then turned away. "And no, we aren't running around with our tails between our legs. I was just on my way to the Northern Crater..."

"Alone?" Rufus inquired, smiling in amusement. Vincent looked at him then looked away as the door to the hospital opened and Tifa emerged, running a hand through her now trimmed hair, which was no longer pulled back in its usual fashion. For a moment no one dared move as she walked over to them, linking her arm around Vincent's waist, leaning her head on his shoulder. "I see..." he continued, noticing the color change in her eyes, now so much like Vincent's. Just what was going on?

"Let's get a move on Tifa...you said you wanted to stop off at your place to pick up something," Vincent announced, breaking the silence. She nodded once and soon they began to walk away, and Vincent released a high-pitched whistle. Soon a Gold Chocobo ran up beside them, and they both leapt onto its back, vanishing from sight.

"We're going with them," Rufus announced, glaring at each Turk before heading towards the nearby stable, praying they had four Gold Chocobos. Knowing his luck, they wouldn't, but that was a chance you had to take in these sorts of situation, wasn't it?

Cyan opened his eyes, slowly looking around before he sat up, rubbing his head. A freezing gust of wind blew past him and he shuddered, wrapping his arms around himself as he rose to his feet, looking around. He was now standing on a ledge overlooking a pit full of Mako. Obviously this was the Northern Crater...he had heard the tales about how Avalanche defeated Sephiroth here, and now he believed it more than ever. Behind him, someone cleared their throat, and he spun around, soon finding that his vision was blocked as something covered his head. He struggled to pull it off, realizing that it was a coat. Sephiroth stood leaning against the wall, watching him with half closed eyes, his arms folded across his chest. He blinked a couple times, hesitantly putting the coat on, his gaze never leaving his brother. It was then that he realized that his previous wounds were healed...to a certain extent. He dared not speak at the moment, for fear that he'd be attacked, and the last thing he wanted was to feel the Masamune within him, yet again.

"I can't help but be amazed," Sephiroth stated, finally breaking the silence, although it was hard to hear his soft voice over the roar of the constant wind. "Here I am, face to face with someone who claims to be my brother, and yet we are nothing alike..."

"Probably because I wasn't driven insane by lies, deceptions and a stark crazy alien bent on world domination..." he began but shut his mouth as Sephiroth leapt forward, back handing him across the face. The force of the blow nearly sent him to the ground, but he managed to remain on his feet, wobbling as the world spun. The next thing he felt was his feet lifting off of the ground as Sephiroth took hold of his shirt collar in a death grip, glaring into his dazed stare.

"You are in no position to make wise remarks. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to open your big mouth..." he began but froze as a rock fell to the ground. Cyan was the first to see his father, but Sephiroth noticed soon after. "Come any closer, Vincent, and I swear I'll throw him into the pit below us," he snarled as he took hold of Cyan's throat, holding him over the Mako pit. He coughed as he grabbed Sephiroth's wrist in both hands, tightly closing his eyes. Vincent froze, staring down at the two of them emotionlessly. Over to the right, someone else moved, and soon the ground before Sephiroth's feet, exploded as bullets struck it. This in turn caused Sephiroth to lose his footing, falling over the edge. Both he and Cyan released a final cry before falling into the Mako below.

Vincent cried out in anger as he leapt onto the ledge, preparing to follow Cyan, but found that Tifa was holding him back, tears rolling down her cheeks. He stopped in his struggles, tightly closing his eyes before falling to his knees, tears of his own rolling down his cheeks. This couldn't be the end...not when he and Cyan still had so much to share...it couldn't end like this...

Cyan slowly opened his eyes, finding an intense glow around him. "This can't be the Life Stream...the glow is suppose to be green, not blue..." he thought as he looked around as if in a daze. Sephiroth was beside him, his eyes still closed. His silver hair bellowed in every direction as if a breeze was continually blowing through it, and easily took on the blue glow, turning it a color that almost looked as if the moon had been reborn. It made his heart leap into his throat in silent wonder, and he pondered if his hair was doing the same. Slowly he lifted a hand up, and it almost felt as if he was in water, and yet he was able to breath, as if this was as thin as air. In the distance he heard a soft melody of some sort playing, and he knew it all too well. It was the beginnings of a song his mother sue to sing to him when he couldn't go to sleep. Sephiroth must have heard it too, for his eyes slowly opened, and a hint of recognition could be seen. Had he heard this melody too?

~What's this I'm feeling? ~

It took Cyan a moment to realize that Sephiroth had just spoken to him through a link of some sort, and in a way it frightened him. ~I don't know...what is it you're feeling? ~ He inquired, blinking a couple times. And still the melody continued, and with it came the soothing voice he remembered from his childhood, the voice that softly hummed along with the song. Flashes of all the times his mother sat at the piano, holding him in her lap as he fingers stroked the piano, her soft voice lulling him to sleep, yet he refused, wanting only to hear her sing the end of the song.

~Warmth... ~

~It could be that you're feeling love... ~

~Love? But I don't understand it... ~

~No one ever does ~ he thought, closing his eyes as something warm caressed his cheek. He felt tired now...oh so tired. He felt as if he was back with his mother, safely within her loving embrace. Nothing could harm him there. Nothing could scare him. He was in his own little world, with only his mother's voice to guide him back. That's how he felt now, and he missed those times. How he desperately wanted them back...how he wanted to share them with the man beside him. Perhaps then the ice around his heart would melt, or would it? It was hard to tell anymore, and he felt very tired...

Vincent stared down at Cyan as he and Sephiroth were pulled out of the pit. They both looked dead, and yet they were both breathing, almost as if they were only asleep. Vincent knew otherwise though. Being exposed to that much Mako could only do one thing to a person. It was obvious that they both had Mako poisoning. Shortly after they had vanished from sight, Tifa had called Reeve, begging him with a shaky voice to bring as many men as he could spare. What seemed like an eternity had passed before the sounds of choppers could be heard, and Vincent hadn't moved from that spot, staring with tear-glazed eyes into the pit, praying that his son was still alive and well. It had been a shot in the dark to begin with, but Reeve not only brought men, but also Cyborgs, which would be lowered into the pit with the stretchers. By pure luck they had been able to get Cyan, and Sephiroth onto the stretchers before they Cyborgs malfunctioned and now it was only a matter of time until they were loaded onto the choppers and taken to Midgar, where they could recover. Tifa was now kneeling beside him, resting her head on his shoulder. He caressed her cheek gently, refusing to look away from his son. He looked so peaceful.

"We're ready to leave whenever you are, Vincent," Reeve announced as he rested a hand on his shoulder, bringing the other man out of his thoughts. He looked at him, finally willing himself to look away from Cyan and nodded once. Reeve nodded in reply, offering his hand. It was taken without a second thought and soon the choppers were flying towards Midgar. No doubt Reeve had called the others, informing them of what had happened. How long would it take them to arrive? No doubt Cid had to get his group together, and then there was the matter of getting Yuffie and the others. It would take some time at least. Without realizing it, Vincent began to wonder if Sephiroth truly was the enemy they had to fight this time, or if maybe there was something greater out there, something that had yet to reveal itself to them. If that were the case, then Cloud had better get his act together and fast. He had a feeling that they would need all the help they could get, or else the entire planet would suffer.

Lifeless eyes slowly opened, scanning the vacant area surrounding it. What had once been dead had once again returned to life. A form once only known as a being called Jenova slowly rose, taking in all feelings and senses around it. True this being was not the same who had tried to destroy the world only two months prior, but there were hardly any differences, except for one. Unlike the first, this new being was able to possess the body of on of the creatures on this planet, exposing all it's secrets and powers to it. A new name was needed to disguise the familiarity of the being within. Zero smiled contently as he scanned the area once more, watching intently as the waves of the ocean lapped the shore, as well as his feet. A cool breeze bellowed around him, blowing grains of sands into the distance. Dark cloud covered the once vibrant blue sky. Such wonders this world had to offer...why should one destroy that which they do not understand? He turned his gaze upon the vast blue of the ocean, feeling something calling to him. A soul...pitifully weak, and yet full of life, and a will unlike any he had ever come across. How could one soul alone possess so much? He smiled, blinking a couple times at the feeling of doing this offered. He reached up with his fingers and traced them along his jaw line, as well as his nose. Human...that's what this form was known as. Humans had so much to offer...so much that confused him. No wonder the first being wished them destroyed. She couldn't handle the overwhelming sensations. All the senses, and feelings...not to mention all the emotions he was now feeling. He not only became curious of this world, but jealous as well, so much to offer, and yet so little to lose. He would understand all of this, or die trying. That was he one purpose now. To learn of a world so many had yet to understand, and who knew, perhaps learning of it would lead to its destruction, or perhaps not. Only time could tell.

Cloud slowly made his way through the Life Stream, wondering where Aeris had wandered off. For a moment all he could think of was her smiling face, and the way her eyes light up, but that was quickly replaced by a darker memory. He tightly closed his eyes, whimpering softly as he fell to his knees, clutching his head. This was the last thing he wanted, especially at a time like this...

The sound of pounding footsteps could clearly be heard on the floorboards above him. The small child huddled closer to the wall, praying to god that he didn't come downstairs and find him. Above him he could hear them Arguing then a loud thump sounded out as something struck the floor. There was shouting now, and then more pounding. The small boy tightly closed his eyes, listening as the pounding continued then heard it on the stairs as the man came down. Still he hid in his dark little corner, praying that he kept on walking, leaving him alone. Instead the lights overhead flared to life, revealing him in all it glory to the enraged man. The boy released a loud squeal as he leapt to his feet, trying to hide, but strong hands grabbed him yanking him off of his feet. He cried out as tears began to fall, staring into the cold, hard gaze of the man who had once been his father, but was no longer even that. The man returned his fear-filled stare, sneering slightly. Was he enjoying all of this? No doubt he had hurt his mother, and now was going to do the same to him, if not worse. Never before in his short life had he seen his father like this until recently. It was almost as if something had come over him. At the tender age of ten, Cloud had gone through so many hardships, but this was one he had yet to overcome. All the nights of praying that his father would never return, all the days of being made fun of because his father had left him. He had overcome them all except this one and even now, looking death in the eye, he still couldn't overcome it.

He tightly closed his eyes, trying to keep his anger in check. All the times his mother had told him that he had just a short a temper as his father, and how he was just as strong, if not stronger. It was all lies, and he had believed them. Now, when it counted the most, he could do nothing by shake. He couldn't let it end like this. He had his honor to defend, just as he had his mother's. All sense left him when the first blow came. He felt himself strike the wall, and soon found himself in a heap on the floor. His head hurt, his vision was blurred, but he managed somehow to rise to his feet, glaring dizzily at the man who had once been his father. With a loud cry he leapt at that man, his hands balled into fists. He wouldn't let him have his way with him, or his mother, even if it was the last thing he ever did. No more pain, no more fear, no more suffering! "I won't let you hurt us!" he hollered as he threw a punch at the man, taking him by complete surprise. The man cried out in pain, holding his stomach, watching as Cloud ran to the door, throwing it open. "Help!! Some one help!!" he hollered, but was cut off as the man grabbed him once more, sending a fist into his gut, and sending him flying into the wall once more. He felt his skull crack against the hard surface, and once more fell into a heap on the floor, unable to do anything else. A shadow fell over him then, and he feared he was about to have the worst happen to him. "I tried," he thought helplessly, losing what little consciousness he had left...

And still the humming continued, long after the melody died away. Cyan opened his eyes once more and found himself in his old room. Nothing had changed, except that now he watched as his mother tucked him in, humming that same tune. She stared down at the boy for a moment, stroking his cheek until he finally fell asleep then shifted her gaze to him, smiling sadly.

"I'm finally free of the past, and yet I return to it every time I close my eyes."

Was she peaking to him, or to herself? It was hard to imagine that she was actually able to see him, let alone speak to him.

"Of course I'm speaking to you. You're the only one here, are you not?"

That wasn't true. Sephiroth was here too...somewhere. He wasn't the only one here, wherever here was. Again she smiled sadly, rising to her feet and walking over to him, cupping his cheek in her hand.

"No, you're not alone. Not anymore. Now someone else needs your strength more than I ever did. Your father has finally let go of the past, and now it is only a matter of him releasing his pain and anger..."

Who? Sephiroth? Was she speaking of Sephiroth?

"Yes. I'm speaking of your brother. So long he's been alone, with no one to turn to. That was why it was easy for him to accept the fate Jenova had willed on him. She offered so much, but one thing remained the same, and that's the child within. We all have children within us, longing to be released, allowed to grow up. Sephiroth has yet to do this, and it is up to up to help him. You have so much in common, yet you share none of it. Open yourself to him. He needs someone now more than ever, and I can no longer help."

Of course she could help, couldn't she? Or was it too late? Had she already passed onto the Life Stream? He didn't want to think of her as gone. All the time they had spent together. He didn't want it to end, but if that was the only option left...

"It is, Cyan. I no longer belong on this world. Your father has released me, as have you. I can no longer offer Sephiroth the love and comfort he needs. You, you must offer it to him now. Go with my blessing and help him discover his true self. A new evil is on the horizon, and you will need his aid."

He tightly closed his eyes, willing himself not to cry. It was for the better, wasn't it? The scene around him began to vanish as well, leaving him again in the intense blue glow, and once more, Sephiroth was beside him, staring at him emotionlessly.

~Where did you go? ~

~Somewhere I can't describe to you, but I'm back now, and that's all that matters, right? We're together now... ~

~That doesn't matter. Nothing matters. If I had my sword... ~

~Listen Sephiroth...do you hear that? ~ He slowly looked around, smiling as the melody began to play once more. Sephiroth froze, looking around as well. ~For once in your life, forget about all the pain and loneliness you were put through. That was in the past, and what happened. You can't change it, but you can learn from it, if you're willing. You're not alone anymore Sephiroth. I'm here, and so is dad. Even mom is watching over you from the Life Stream. You don't have to be alone anymore...I'm here to help you, if you're willing to accept. ~

For a moment Sephiroth continued to look around. Finally he mustered up enough nerve to look upon his brother once more, as the tears welled up in his eyes. He wasn't alone anymore? All those nights of pain...still too recent to forget, yet easily pushed out of mind. Had it all been for nothing? Had he followed a wrong path all that time when the truth had been offered to him? Had it all been pointless? ~...I'm...not alone? ~

~No not anymore. I'm here now. ~

~And you won't leave, right? ~

~Right. I won't leave unless you want me to. ~ He smiled the best smile he could, holding out one of his hands to his brother. Sephiroth hesitantly reached out and took it, the tears that had never been shed finally falling. Yes, it had all been pointless, and yet at the same time, it hadn't. If all that happened in the past hadn't happened then neither of them would be here at this moment, finally accepting what fate had denied them for so long. A chance to live as they had been meant to live.