RISE OF THE SILVER PHOENIX

BY : SabreTooth
Category: Final Fantasy VII > Crossovers
Dragon prints: 1500
Disclaimer: I do not own the original story line and characters of the canon FF7 genre. I do own the original plot sprung from my deviant mind and some new characters. No money/profit is made from this.

Blithe memories

 

Cloud watched the sun set and drifted away in reminiscence. There were so many blithe memories from the past, but so difficult to recall them in order to add some color and warmth to the cold present. Following the defeat of Sephiroth, he had come to the realization that it was indeed the General who had encased the heart of the young lad and obscured every sensation of happiness. Sephiroth had become the darkness of Cloud and his very source of misery. For what reason, he was still unsure. Why was Kadaj referring to him as a brother and why was Cloud’s connection to Sephiroth so strong? Cloud could not be free from the darkness as long as Sephiroth existed and the final battle between them had been a fight for survival. Cloud knew he had nothing to live for if he couldn’t find the light within himself, and banishing the great General into memory had not been the way to get it back. How foolish of him to believe otherwise. Now, the doves were falling from the skies and he was mourning the memories that were lost along with Sephiroth. Could he even remember who the man he idolized so much actually was? He submerged in thoughts of the past, and after a long while of nothingness ruling his locked mind, he gave up his efforts with a humble plea.

“Give me something to remember you by,” Cloud sighed and poured a glass of red port to wash down his defeat.

As he was sipping in silence, forgotten images were rising in his consciousness along with the fragrance of his ruby drink. There were sounds that stepped forth from the curtain of white noise in the ether and vivid memories were suddenly in full bloom as the fragrance of the port filled his vicinity. He let off a chuckle and welcomed the images that filled his room and claimed his heart. It began as Cloud, then as a mere Cadet, was called to the office of the great General. He began drifting in the memories….

“What an honor,” Cloud thought to himself, “to finally have the chance to speak to the Soldier of all Soldiers; Sephiroth. And face to face too.”

But at the same time, there was nervousness rooting within. What was it that Sephiroth wanted? What could Cloud possibly provide that the great General needed from him? The blond felt his heart race with a terrible pace, sweat broke out on his forehead and his palms grew cold the closer he advanced towards the great metallic door that led to the grand office. He was hoping to find a toilet near the office to sneak into before facing Sephiroth, since just about everything he had eaten was in an anxiety-driven hurry to leave his body. Not a very dignified sensation, but a quick visit could solve at least that problem.

Shortly after, a conveniently placed sign directed him to the closest lavatory. Cloud looked at the time and concluded he had more than ten minutes to spare. Perfect. He picked up his pace during the last few steps to freedom, since the closer he was to relieve himself the more urgent the matter seemed and in the comfort of privacy at the notion that all other stalls were empty, he finally got down to business. However, all transactions involved a piece of paper either as a contract at the start or receipt in the end, to seal the agreement, but begrudgingly there was no receipt for the dinner he had processed.

“Damn!” Cloud cursed within. “Not now! No, no, no!”

No matter how many times he turned the roll, there was not even as much as microscopic remnants of paper on it and the only option he had was to wait for a good Samaritan to show up. Passing time with frustration, whilst rehearsing all possible excuses he needed to present Sephiroth with, the door to the lavatory finally opened. Someone was using the urinal and following the trickle of water at the washbasin and then the silencing of the hand drier, Cloud managed a meek ‘Hello?’. The footsteps halted and silence ascended as the other guest was listening intently and obviously trying to identify the voice.

“Cadet Strife?”

It was Sephiroth and Cloud almost melted into the seat with shame. He would have rather been flushed down than having to speak up, but there was nothing other to do. Sephiroth went on.

“I wondered why you were over an hour late…”

“I’ve been here waiting.”

“Waiting? Cloud, as much as I like having the toilet this close to my office, I try to cut down on holding meetings in here. Next time wait outside my office, but more close to it than this… perhaps visible too?”

“Understand, Sir, but there’s no paper in the crapper, Sir.”

“Pardon?”

Cloud raised his voice a little; “There is no paper in this stall… Sir.”

“I see,” Sephiroth stated. “Such bad luck Cadet Strife.”

“Yeah, kind of is, Sir,” Cloud concurred. “After an hour here, my legs are getting pretty numb. Can you… possibly… get me some?”

“Crutches?”

“Paper, Sir.”

“Why certainly.”

Although he could neither see nor hear anything, there was something about the silence exuding from Sephiroth that made Cloud aware that the General was surely enjoying this hiccup. Within a few seconds a new roll of white paper appeared under the crevice of the door and with the helpful advice of ‘Wash your hands when you’re done’ written on it, Sephiroth left the lavatory. The young cadet could not have had a worse opportunity to bump into his superior, being caught in such an embarrassing and helpless situation. And now, he would have to face him yet again.

It was late afternoon and most young men had the day off due to a bank holiday and sometimes that included even the military. Cloud, along with a handful of others, had been chosen to be in service, and it was all going well until Sephiroth requested his presence. Since then, everything seemed to be going pear-shaped. He knocked on the door to the office and was asked to step in.

“General?”

Sephiroth looked up from his papers asking; “Expecting someone else,   Cadet Strife?”

Cloud returned a confused expression with a limp smile frozen on his lips and bewilderment radiating from his teal gaze. Sephiroth made a funny. Was that for real? The young cadet didn’t dare to respond just in case the ‘funny’ was not meant to be funny at all. Maybe it was a serious rhetorical question… or perhaps a trick question. With Sephiroth, one could never be sure. Cloud noticed a glass of wine next to the stack of papers and concluded that it must be the alcohol talking. The great General was finishing up some paper work and without even raising his head, he started speaking.

“Tell me, cadet, do you have a cell phone?”

“Yes, Sir,” Cloud responded.

“Is it working?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Have adequate reception on it?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Then why didn’t you call for someone instead of waiting for an hour in the… ‘crapper’… it’s what you cadets call it, am I right?”

“Crapper, Sir?”

“Toilet, Cloud,” Sephiroth clarified to the dumbfounded boy. “Your apparent roosting place.”

Was the General drunk? Cloud could not make up his mind. Sephiroth certainly looked perfectly normal, but never in his life had the poster-boy for the ultimate Soldier even allowed himself to be caught dead speaking a language unbefitting a general.

“Well… uhm… I did call. No one answered. The guys’re all out, I guess… Sir.”

“Not me… at least as a final solution.”

“You weren’t exactly the first person coming to mind to help me out of the… this situation, Sir.”

“Still, I was,” Sephiroth threw in. “I hope you’re not going to make a habit of me pulling you out of your shit, Cloud.”

“Whaaa…” Cloud’s voice died with surprise.

“However, let this be a lesson for you, Strife,” Sephiroth went on and placed the nicely shaped calligraphy ink-pen next to the stack of papers. “First of all, never underestimate the value of reconnaissance or scouting. Always make sure of where you’re going and what you’ll be facing, and in your case, if you have all you need to complete the mission. Secondly, feel free to contact people in the future to pull you out of these ‘sordid’ situations, so I don’t have to become yours truly. Out on the field, you can’t wait around for ‘the right person’ to come along. You never hesitate to ask for help or hesitate in helping your peers because it can mean the difference between life and death. If that matters to you, then swallow that pride and use your head. Survive at all cost, Strife.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Sephiroth suddenly ceased his benevolent preaching and stuck in a cold, sinister thorn into the lesson.

“…even if it’s your enemy, Cloud. Ask for help, convince them to help… then when you’re done… decide if they are worth killing or not.”

“Y-yes, Sir.”

After a while of silence, Cloud gathered enough courage to speak.

“You requested me, Sir. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“No, Cloud. I requested your presence, not you, and I think I’m the one being able to help you.”

“Sir?”

Sephiroth took a sip out of his glass of port and smiled at Cloud. His shapely tongue travelled across his symmetrical lips as he lapped up the traces of port. Cloud watched as if hypnotized and with a sense of lust, which Sephiroth noticed instantly.

“Cloud, didn’t your mother tell you it’s rude to stare?”

“Yes, Sir! Sorry, Sir,” Cloud lowered his gaze.

“Why bother, Strife? You’re not home anymore. Besides, I don’t mind the attention occasionally. Now take a seat.”

Cloud lifted his gaze, curious of Sephiroth’s behavior, but did as he was told and sat down in the leather armchair across from the office desk of rare ebony and rose-wood. Sephiroth left his seat and from the elegant bar, which President Rufus had installed in the lavish office, got another glass and offered some port to Cloud before seating himself.

“So, you’ve been in the army for two years now, am I right?” the General started.

Cloud nodded and stared into his glass of ruby red port. It was divine in fragrance and swirled like a liquid jewel in the glass.

“Well, I’ve gone through your record and your achievements. I’ve heard from Zack that apart from being a ‘backwater expert’ you’re also quite a little fighter.”

“Oh?” was all that Cloud could muster.

His heart was racing so fast he could hardly breathe. Sephiroth noticed it very clearly and smiled alluringly, making Cloud tremble throughout his entire core. Sephiroth was most amused and his sassy wickedness fuelled the situation even more, by pulling the blond into a wet, audacious gaze that made Cloud feel naked and exposed before a scrutinizing crowd. Sephiroth played a game, his weekend amusement, and he played it so well.

“Oh yes,” he responded, purring like a cat. “And so, without any further ado, I’m calling for your upgrade from Cadet to a Third Class Soldier. Keep this up and you’ll be a First Class in a few years time. You will need to go through a rigorous test, of course, but I think you are ready.”

Cloud almost lost his breath and his hands started shaking. The extent of the honor was beyond and above all he would have ever dared to imagine. He was smiling radiantly.

“So,” the General went on and raised his glass, “before you drop the glass, or disfigure your face, let’s make a toast… to you, Strife.”

Cloud returned the gesture and took a sip. He had never before tasted port and was not expecting the alcohol to deliver such an instant blow. He started coughing to the amusement of the General. Sephiroth left his seat and walked up to Cloud, patting his back.

“Are you all right, Strife?”

Cloud nodded between coughs and the firm slaps of Sephiroth’s hand that felt more to his detriment than benefit.

“Yes, Sir.”

Cloud was abashed, honored, weak and strong at the same time. The emotions were running through him like a violent river and he was almost soaring with elation. Could this really be true? He suddenly gulped the wine as if it was water at which Sephiroth placed a hand on his glass saying port was to be enjoyed with every sip and filled it up again. The superior Soldier then seated himself behind his desk again and leaned casually back in his leather chair.

“I know you’re surprised to see me like this, Cloud. Truth is, sometimes there are hidden parts of me that surface… something more akin to you and your friends. How’s that for a mind-twister? Believe it or not, it surprises me too at times, but the only way to root out a weakness is by allowing it to happen, learn from it and eventually destroy it. You can only destroy things you are familiar with… when you know how to do it. But as with everything else that concerns me, you’ll keep it quiet, yes?”

“Yes, Sir,” Cloud agreed, but there was something more he wished to say or ask.

Root out what? That Sephiroth was way more than any man could ever become even with his flaws? Why root it out when it made him more complete? Cloud did realize, however, that Sephiroth would most likely not be interested in hearing a young ‘nobody’ lecture him and he remained silent.

“Cloud,” the General called out. “You want to correct me.”

Cloud jerked with surprised, eyes wide and flickering. “Oh no, Sir,” he defended himself, but Sephiroth waved it off with a disarming smile.

“Oh, come now, Cloud. I’m reclusive, not retarded. Give me some credit, Cadet, and don’t take me for a fool. Please… go on.”

“Well,” Cloud drawled, “you tell me never to hesitate to act upon something no matter how embarrassing or pressing the situation, but…”

“But what?”

“But why doesn’t it apply to you, Sir?”

Sephiroth snorted, his face seemingly dissolving in inertia, but reignited in sobriety quickly and subsequently acknowledging Cloud with a muttered ‘touché’.

“Because, Cloud, there are some things that just cannot be fixed.”

“I don’t believe that, Sir. Not about you.”

“You believe in too much good… in too many people. Believe me, kid, some people are just born damaged.”

“Everything can be fixed, though, General. That’s what I believe.”

“Only if you know ‘how’ it broke,” Sephiroth emptied his glass and then burrowed his gaze into that of Cloud. “Do you consider me broken, Cadet… pardon me… Soldier Strife?”

Cloud flew up from his seat, immediately realizing that he had placed his foot in his mouth and presented his sincere apologies in the only way he knew in the face of authority.

“Sir, no, Sir! I realize I stepped over the boundaries. It was not and is not my business to go there, Sir,” he asserverated, but Sephiroth calmed him with yet another glass of wine.

“So tell me, Cloud,” Sephiroth purred, but this time he withheld his feline eyes from the blond as he asked, “What do you think about me?”

Surely the opinions of others mattered nothing to the General, but if he really needed an answer, Cloud could give him one. With his eyes firmly anchored onto Sephiroth, the young cadet began speaking. Words were escaping him effortlessly, and perhaps that was something he should’ve controlled better. He didn’t even notice when he transgressed the boundary between formality and familiarity.

“I think… like most others do… that you’re amazing, Sephiroth.”

The General cocked his head at the sound of his name being spoken by a subordinate, but allowed for it to set adrift, as he was hungry to hear more.

“I think you’re the greatest Soldier ever,” Cloud went on, words infused with the candor of an idolizing boy. “There’s nothing you’ve ever failed at, you endure everything, a master swordsman, a precise tactician and apart from all that… you’re perfect in appearance. You’re not leaving much for us others to work on. There’s just one thing, though… if I may.”

“What’s that?”

“I’ve never seen a person lonlier,” Cloud put forward. “And I don’t mean to offend, Sir.”

“You don’t,” Sephiroth sighed with a sad smile. “I know this is a one-way street for me, Cloud. And I don’t know where it ends, but there are no others walking along this road.”

“It doesn’t have to be like that, Sir.”

“I know, Strife, but I prefer it.”

“But, Sir…”

“What happened to ‘Sephiroth’?” the General cut in distractingly, merely to buy time to sort out his thoughts.

“Right, sorry about that,” Cloud smiled, but swiftly continued on his train of thought. “There’s so much more out there, though. It’s a holiday, for instance, why are you here?”

As the General was about to speak again, his office communicator signalled an incoming call, which he responded to. Before Cloud had the chance to ask for permission to leave, Sephiroth gestured for him to stay put and finish the wine. The conversation that followed was something Cloud would think back on with the warmest sensations keeping him strong during the most arduous of times. Sephiroth activated his small hands-free and Cloud witnessed the conversation from a distance. Through a series of monologues he built up a comprehensive view of what had taken place.

“Yes? Yes, this is he… speaking. Yes, sir, the third squadron is on leave because of the bank holiday. Who? Danzee and Zack? And five others? Excuse me, I didn’t quite catch that. In jail?!” the General asked in disbelief. “Why? They threw a what?”

Sephiroth’s complexion rarely, if ever, solidified in lines that captured his daze, but at that moment a large question-mark ghosted over his face. This was a fortuitous moment, no doubt, that presented Cloud with such a singularly infrequent opportunity, that he couldn’t help but to sharpen his senses to perceive more of the odd conversation. Little did he know, however, that it was his turn to fill in the gap.

“I see. Hold a minute, please,” Sephiroth put the hands-free on hold and leaned over to Cloud. “Strife, what’s a trashcan party?”

Cloud’s face turned nearly as red as his drink, but Sephiroth was merciless in his quest for answers, especially since a few of his finest Soldiers were now under arrest for indecent behavior.

“Well, General, it’s sort of… well, it really depends on how people play it…”

“Play what? Spit it out, Strife.”

“Well, Sir, it’s the act of masturbating near a trashcan and trying to aim… you know… score.”

Sephiroth was dumbstruck, merely raising an eyebrow whilst face remained paralyzed in a state of stupefaction; and not in a good way.

“Well,” Cloud cleared his throat to make a new attempt. “You can tippy-toe…”

“Tippy-toe?” Sephiroth’s other eyebrow followed suit.

Cloud nodded and continued, “…in close proximity or directly above a garbage receptacle, the trashcan or garbage bag, with intent to… uhm…ejaculate… in the… into the said receptacle.”

Sephiroth rolled his eyes with a deep breath and then continued the conversation with the officer in charge of jailing the juvenile Soldiers. As befitting his unyielding character, Sephiroth remained professional and procacious, although there was something of an element in him that enjoyed this outlandish event. Whether he felt anything negative or positive, he let none of it show directly.

“Lieutenant? Yes, can you please put the one called Zack on the phone?” Sephiroth was tapping his fingers against the polished desk, and then asked ever so calmly; “Zack, how did you do this?”

The response he apparently received made Sephiroth cock his head with surprise, even if he swiftly regained composure.

“No, I’m not referring to the actual party procedure. You don’t have to explain… I already know. No, I haven’t tried it,” the General snarled and then continued with a slightly tensed voice, “What I’d like to know is, if you were in a hotel how could you be arrested for public indecency?”

The empty stare in Sephiroth’s face was tickling the nerves inside of Cloud. His lips were trembling as he fought bravely to smother the cachinnation bubbling within. The young cadet was holding on to his seat as if he were about to take off into space, whilst Sephiroth’s eyebrows were dancing incoherently to the frivolous set of events his Cadets were responsible for. After a while, Sephiroth went on coolly with forehead resting against his palm and eyes downcast.

“Whose bright idea was it to try to aim for the trashcans from the balcony? Come again? No, Zack, it was not intended as a pun!”

Sephiroth listened for a moment and buried his face in his palms, exhaling the hot air whirling in his chest as he spoke with gathered poise.

“Zack, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it will drift in the wind. Yes, I’m sure they got upset. I should think so.”

The seraph tried rubbing some sense into his head whilst digesting the extent of the stupidity. For a while there was nothing but occasional audible confirmations of noises emitted from Sephiroth, but Cloud found it all very amusing nonetheless. Suddenly, the General raised his voice anew, but never to the point of unnerving;

“Well, how about this for an idea? You’re grounded for the next upcoming bank holidays, with full service commencing immediately after you have sobered up. Pardon? No, I think I’ll let you guys stay there over night. You need to sober up and as long as you are behind bars, I feel safer. What? Who needs medical attention? Why? Allergic reaction… systemic or local? Local… where? Right, we’ll have a nice, little chat about this tomorrow when you’re back,” the General stated calmly. “Put the Lieutenant back on.”

Sephiroth released a sigh of relief, but his eyes kept avoiding Cloud so he would not be drawn into the recurring laughter overtaking the Cadet.

“Yes, sir, I agree they need to sleep it off. I’m a little concerned, however, about the allergic reaction of the blond. Can he get some medical attention? Or just drug him unconscious, at least he won’t suffer dying. Yes, I understand. Thank you.”

Sephiroth removed his hands free and sunk into his seat with a deep sigh.

“Well, Strife, what do you think about this? Cloud? Cloud, are you all right?”

Cloud remembered laughing so hard he was crying. Tears were flooding his eyes and he couldn’t find the words. At first, Sephiroth was almost affronted, but somewhere deep inside he was equally amused. He was a loner and abandoned in his greatness and power, and it was merely through these roguish, juvenile, and foolish events that he soaked up a bit of what he had missed out on during his early life.

By the time the images faded, the glass was emptied of port and so was the bottle. Cloud sighed and whispered towards the setting sun, rays caressing his worn face with warmth.

“I hate to admit it, but sometimes I miss you, Sephiroth. You hardly even exist in my memory anymore and I feel so empty. I want you back… despite the cost.”

All of a sudden, a fallen, black dove began frantically flapping its wings to get up from the ground. It was fighting to get off the soil, and following its struggle, the dove took off from the ground to seek shelter on the windowsill. Cloud watched it with a sense of hope seeding within his chest. The animal caught its breath, shook off the repercussions of the fall from the skies and with a final leap it soared through the air… higher and higher until it disappeared out of sight. Cloud felt genuine happiness that night.



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