Where Seduction Serves

What if Sephiroth had been a little quicker on the uptake during the first encounter at the Northern Crater, and kept Cloud? Drama with Mindfuck, I-4, Divergent Future, in-game

Character(s): Cloud Strife, Sephiroth

Sephiroth watched the scene below him, impatient, but with interest pricking in the back of his mind.

This copy was definitely not like all the others.

Even now, with Cloud’s deeper self awake, he paused before obeying. To say his farewells. To chat. And the other facet of him, the new one Cloud had cobbled together in mere months, was still fighting. Ineffectually, of course, but it still struggled against Sephiroth’s control. Sephiroth had more than half expected that bit to burst like a soap bubble, once Cloud understood it wasn’t real. Nothing so evanescent and friable should still survive.

Which meant…

Sephiroth’s interest sharpened. He had said it himself; the nature of Jenova was transformation. Was it possible that Cloud had controlled his in some small way? That Sephiroth’s puppet had actually taken the first step down the road that Sephiroth himself walked?

He remembered, suddenly, what else he had suggested, to taunt Cloud. That he had taken his present identity wholly from Tifa’s memories, courtesy of Jenova. Which was not entirely true, but was entirely possible. And what if the one whose memory and thought his puppet had touched was not only Tifa or Zack, whose sword he wore, but Sephiroth?

He laughed softly to himself. Cloud seemed to have a talent for surprising him.

He frowned down at them all. How could even a hack like Hojo still think of Cloud as a failure? Even that idiot should have seen, should have understood, as soon as he observed that Cloud had fallen under Sephiroth, but made the transformations one would expect of a SOLDIER. Of Zack, to be precise.

Well, it didn’t matter now.

But Cloud couldn’t be let to run loose, if he really did have even a little control over Jenova within him. It was possible he would gain more, and that could begin to be troublesome. Sephiroth would have to either kill him, or…

He watched Cloud slump, hopelessly, and smiled.

Cloud was not really surprised to find himself in the tree. Nor was he surprised that Sephiroth appeared when Cloud called him; they were coming to the point of all this, after all. What surprised him was Sephiroth’s expression, the bright, sharp smile, as if all his old reserve had been scoured away.

It almost looked… welcoming.

“So, you want a number, Cloud? I can give you one. If you want it.”The voice was just as he remembered, low and smooth, but the words… ! Conflicting responses tore through Cloud, desperate desire and frantic denial side by side. “Please,” his mouth whispered.

The corners of Sephiroth’s mouth curled a little higher. “Your number would be… zero.”

Cloud blinked, entirely off balance for a moment, wondering what that meant. Zero? … nothing?

“Zero,” Sephiroth repeated, treading toward him. “The first number and the last. The one that makes all true calculations possible. The fulcrum that stands outside all other numbers.”

Now Cloud was staring, all of him disbelieving. “But… I’m the failure.” The failure at everything. At a career; at friendship; at either being like Sephiroth or resisting him.

“The failure?” Sephiroth raised his brows. “Don’t be foolish, Cloud. Out of all those pitiful copies Hojo attempted to make, how many are here now? You are the success.”

Cloud stood there, arms limp at his sides, shocked. The success? He’d never been a success at anything.

“You are the one I made my plans with, Cloud, don’t you remember? The rest were merely pawns.” Sephiroth looked down at Cloud with that strange smile still curving his lips. “You are my chosen.”

“Your… chosen?” Cloud whispered. It couldn’t be true. Could it?

Sephiroth leaned close and Cloud wondered if the breath on his ear was only his imagination. “My chosen. My eyes and hands and will, abroad in the world. It’s your destiny, Cloud, why else do you think the SOLDIER treatments came to you so late, when you’re so clearly suitable for them? It wasn’t your fate to serve Shinra in their petty plans; it’s your fate to serve me. And you have fulfilled it.”

Cloud swayed. It made sense; it made sense of everything, if this was what he had been meant to be.

“My triumph,” Sephiroth murmured. “My success. My zero; apart, different, chosen.”

Warmth lapped through Cloud, satiation, like he’d been fed after going hungry all day. It relaxed him, loosened the knot in his throat, and in his chest. “Yours,” he breathed, eyes wide and unfocused.

The light in Sephiroth’s eyes was even brighter as he stepped back, beckoning. “Come, Cloud. Let us finish this.”

A low rumble vibrated through the cavern, shaking Cloud on the branch. When he looked back up, Sephiroth was gone, but the blue oblong in the tree had dropped a little. Inside it was… Sephiroth. Cloud obediently approached the cocoon and pushed the Black Materia through it. He watched its influence wrap around Sephiroth, and everything paused for a moment.

Cloud started as Sephiroth’s eyes snapped open and the cocoon shattered into shimmers of light. He looked up, wildly, as the entire world seemed to dissolve likewise, and then gasped as he was caught in a tight grip. He stared up at Sephiroth and then around at the sheeting brightness that surrounded them. They were standing, as far as he could tell, on absolutely nothing.

Heat in the hand caught by Sephiroth’s pulled his attention back. When Sephiroth released him Cloud looked at the black 0 now traced on the back of his hand, and the warmth crept back. He did have a place. He did have an identity. And it was a successful one.

“Now.” Sephiroth’s voice was lower and when Cloud looked up he couldn’t see anything but brilliant green eyes. Sephiroth pulled him closer and Cloud felt another touch. This one was somehow inside, and he shuddered, gasping, with the strangeness. Sephiroth’s eyes still held him and Cloud tensed, breathing fast as the weird touch groped deeper.

“Relax, Cloud.” Sephiroth’s voice curled around him. “This is how we’re meant to be, you and I. Come; give me your strength, to protect us with.”

The idea of Sephiroth even noticing Cloud’s strength, let alone wanting to use it, was bewildering and warming all over again. But if he wanted it… Cloud caught a shallow breath and concentrated on the thought that Sephiroth could touch and take anything he wanted.


The not-a-touch slid deeper. Ragged shivers ran through Cloud and he couldn’t help a muffled noise as Sephiroth gripped something, somehow, inside him.

And then Sephiroth pulled, and Cloud screamed.

It was so raw he couldn’t tell what the sensation was. Only that it made his whole body snap taut, vibrating, responding. The feeling of something rushing out of him, being pulled out of him, by Sephiroth’s grip, tightened every single muscle and Cloud could hear his own breathing, harsh and fast, catching on a whimper.

It kept going.

His pleading sounds turned desperate and he thought he saw Sephiroth’s mouth curve up.

And then it stopped, so suddenly that Cloud dropped all the way past relaxed and into blackness.

Sephiroth examined his handiwork and nodded. There would be no more meddling annoyances interrupting him now.

He looked down at Cloud, slumped against him, dazed; only Sephiroth’s hold was keeping the boy standing upright. Not surprising. Sephiroth had taken all the strength he’d found in Cloud, though it had been more than he expected.

In light of which, a few more words to bind his puppet to his side might not be wasted effort.

He ran a hand through Cloud’s hair, encouraging him to lift his head. “My little success. Look.”

Cloud clung to him as he raised his head to gaze around, still a bit out of focus. Sephiroth let him and softened his voice. “This shield combines your strength and mine. Nothing in this world will break it. Nothing can attack us now.”

Cloud stared at the glow of the shield above them for a long moment and then smiled. He turned his face up to Sephiroth, eyes heavy and contented. “Yes, Sephiroth-san.”

Sephiroth smiled in turn, amused. Yes, indeed.

Nothing could stop him, now.