Demons

BY : Carmilla
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 536
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

TITLE: Demons

AUTHOR: Carmilla

EMAIL: carmilla99@hotmail.com

RATING: NC-17

FANDOM: Final Fantasy VII (crossover of sorts with Devil May Cry)

SUMMARY: Imprisoned by Hojo, and growing less human by the day, Vincent is saved by the arrival of a stranger.

READER CAUTIONS: This story contains explicit m/m sex, and imagery that some readers may find disturbing. Also very mild spoilers for FFVII and sort-of ones for DMC; at any rate, you'll get more out of it if you've played up to the end of Disk 2 on the first, and met Nightmare at least once on the second. This is something of an adventure in melodrama, with high WAFF content in some places and high angst content in others.

NOTE: Demian is not an original character. He is based on Nightmare from Devil May Cry. Emerald Embers came up with his name.

DISTRIBUTION: AdultFanFiction.Net, Emerald's site. You'll need to ask her permission to archive it.

DISCLAIMER: I own nothing, so there's nothing worth suing me for.

DEDICATION: For Emerald Embers, who turns eighteen today and is therefore finally old enough to legally read things like this. Happy birthday, darling.

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The floor was cold stone. The door was hard iron bars. Both were more comfortable than the bed, so Vincent slumped in a corner and tried to sleep. Anything for variety. Maybe he could mark off the days like this - sleep against one wall at a time. That is, if he could ever truly sleep in this place. He wasn't sure. The nightmares were getting worse, and the worst thing about them was that he wasn't at all sure they weren't real. Maybe Hojo was taking him out of his cell as soon as he slept and laying him flat on a slab somewhere, cutting him open and probing around with those long, precise fingers, just to see how he worked. It wouldn't surprise him in the least. Just because he couldn't see the scars, it didn't mean they weren't there. Although he dearly hoped the recurring dream about the purple winged beast was just some manifestation from him subconscious. What it would say about his mental state, he wasn't sure.....

Madness. It was stupid to sit here, keeping himself awake by chasing his thoughts around his battered head. He needed his strength. For what? He couldn't answer that. It wasn't like he had much to live for. He was alone, Hojo's personal specimen, and Lucrecia was.... gone. Best just to think of it like that. Gone from him, gone from the world, gone from who she was, and oh, that still hurt. Betraying him was one thing, but how could she betray herself like this? How dare she stop being who she was? How could she possibly -

Enough. Sleep.

*~*~*~*~*

Black.

Black blacker than night, blacker than the inside of his eyelids. Black that shut out light, that drank it up into nothingness.

He was not alone.

Breathing, somewhere nearby. Eyes on him, he felt it. Something traced a long, curious path down his side, something too thin and cold to be a finger.

Then, suddenly, there was pain. The creature screamed.

*~*~*~*~*

He'd been round every side of the room, twice. It was just over a week, then, since he'd started counting, presuming that the hours they kept in this place were the same as those outside. He thought that it had to have been another couple of weeks before he'd devised a system to keep a check on them. He probably ought to feel like he was wasting away. He hadn't been attempting to exercise. Some days, he barely moved at all, except to relieve cramps or to eat. And yet, he didn't feel that same sense of restlessness that he was used to on the rare times he broke his training. If anything his muscles felt... stronger. More developed, almost. Sometimes he itched, deep inside his limbs, or felt his guts knotting around each other, or his skin tingling. His body didn't seem to be dying. If anything, it was coming to life, quite independently of his trapped, fading mind. Maybe there wometomething in the food. Maybe it was just his imagination. He hugged his knees a little tighter to his chest.

*~*~*

Heat. Now there was a curious thing. He had not felt this before... he was not sure that he had felt anything, but if he had it had definitely been.... cold.

Now there was warmth that washed over his skin, and he felt like it had come to life, awakened by the new sensations.

His body was shifting, changing. He was becoming something new.

*~*~*~*~*

Vincent had a choice. He had to decide if he was more tired, or more afraid. It wasn't proving easy.

The nightmares were growing steadily more vivid. Sometimes they seemed more real than real life. Always, there were faces hovering over his, staring down at him. Frequently, it was Hojo, his infernal smirk firmly in place. He always had some kind of instrument in his hand - a syringe, or a scalpel, or some other twisted thing that Vincent couldn't even name. Held nld never move in these dreams, never resist what was being done to him. Once, he was cut right open, and Hojo implanted something that looked like materia right into his beating heart. When he had woken up from that one, he had been relieved - that at least couldn't possibly have been real. He wasn't so sure of that anymore.

His body was changing. He was certain of that now. His muscles were more clearly defined than they had ever been, even when he was at peak fitness. They showed clearly under skin that looked unnaturally pale to him. He tried telling himself it was too much time out of the sun, in the artificial Mako lights, that had done that to him. He wasn't convinced. His body was still very much alive. Maybe it would become independent of him, and he would wander around in a constant waking dream, experiencing everything but unable to take control. That was a mad thought, a dangerous thought. He had gone three nights without sleep already, determined not to make himself vulnerable to Hojo again. It was taking its toll. And it wasn't just Hojo he was afraid of. It was those other faces.

They weren't human. They were monsters. There was a slavering beast, something like a horned dog, only the wrong colour. There was something that looked like a deformed man, heavy-set and covered in stitches. Somehow most frightening of all was the mask-wearing creature, itnic nic laughter emanating from behind a blank, white facade. And then there was the demon. Purple, furred and winged. Its face was cruel, its teeth sharp. But its eyes were human. And they looked a lot like his.

Vincent had grown familiar with their faces over the past week or so. They were clearer every time he saw them. They were nightmares, to be sure. And yet, nothing was done to him in them. In fact, in those dreams, he wasn't even sure he existed.

It was enough to keep any man from sleep. And yet, sleep was coming on him, however hard he tried to resist its encroachment in his consciousness. He'd taken to biting his fingertips to try and keep his mind alert. His eyelids were leaden. But he was still more afraid than tired.

It was lan thn the night when the tiredness finally won out, and Vincent spiralled towards sleep. By that point, his mind had grown so unfocussed that he didn't even notice it happening.

*~*~*~*~*

He flexed his fingers. It was the only movement he could manage; everything else seemed frozen in place. There was a weight and a tightness at his neck, making it difficult the breathe evenly. The man in white leaned over him, something in his hand. He touched it with a finger. Buzzing filled his ears, and he felt something like electricity racing across the skin of his throat. Then everything went black.

*~*~*~*~*

At first, all he could see were the lights flashing below him, clusters of them, laid out in precise patterns - a double row wending through the centre of a set of rectangles. Slowly, it dawned on him that he was looking at one of the Sectors, looking down on it from the air. Lower and lower he went, until the lights and shadows resolved into a main road, a series of houses, neon signs, the odd moving vehicle, a garishly-lit billboard, a couple walking home along the road -

He dived.

*~*~*~*~*

Little flashes of white lights danced before his eyes, streaking downwards across the darkness, falling randomly, refusing to be resolved into anything recognisable. All he could hear was a low humming. He had the feeling that he was moving, although how, he was not sure. It was like floating, if it was like anything.

The movement stopped abruptly. There was an endless moment of stillness. Then the humming in his ears stopped. He could feel something cold and hard beneath his back, something rougher than he was used to. It was still black. He opened his eyes.

*~*~*~*~*

Screams were ringing in his ears. Everything was a whirling maelstrom of confusion and and and dying. He couldn't see properly anymore. He could only feel what it was like, the agony of all these people. Was he one of them? He could taste blood in his mouth.... but he wasn't sure that it was his own. Whatever he had just stepped on crunched under his foot. He looked down. Lucrecia. The shock of her mangled body, her slack face, her blank, staring eyes, was like a physical blow, sending him tumbling upwards, into the blackness of the night sky....

... which somehow resolved itself into the dimness of his cell. Shaking his head, trying to displace that last image, he looked up.

There was a face staring at him. A pale face, an almost blue tinge in its skin. The cheeks had strange markings on them, a series of brown lines which made up some pattern he couldn't quite make out. The eyes were wide and lamp-like, fixed on him, unblinking. Maybe this was another dream-creature come to torment him? It certainly wasn't human - its wer were too large, its features set oddly. Its limbs seemed disproportionately long, and something about the way it held itself was just slightly wrong. But for some reason, it didn't frighten him, only made him.... curious. And then, it spoke.

"Hello?"

The voice was timid; low, quiet and with a rough edge to it, as if the speaker was unaccustomed to using it. But it was definite enough, real enough, to shake Vincent out of the last remains of sleep and let him take stock of the situation.

The stranger was in the cell facing his, a narrow space of corridor separating them. He (it looked to be a he) had probably been moved in during the night.

"Hello," Vincent said, blinking owlishly in an attempt to clear his head. "Who are you?"

"The dark man in white calls me JD-103. I think - I think that is not what I called myself, once. Before I was this. I do not remember clearly."

"The dark man..... I presume you mean Hojo. I wouldn't call him dark, he spends too much time lurking down here to catch the sun. And what do you mean, before you were this?"

The stranger passed a hand across his face, closing his eyes for the first time.

"I told you, I do not remember clearly, I do not understand what has been done to me. My memories seem to start a ten-day from this day. And yet, I have.... awareness, of a time before. When things were different. When I was.... other than this. I do not know. It makes my head ache when I try to picture it."

Vincent nodded slowly.

"Alright. You'll be caught up in one of his experiments, I guess. That would explain the bastard giving you a serial number. As for the rest of it - I don't know. He could have done anything to you."

"He has done this to others? Often? You see, it is as I said. He is a dark man. I remember that much from before. I saw him. He is dark, all the way through."

Vincent didn't quite know what to make of this. It sounded like the kind of mumbo-jumbo that Ascensionists or Spirituals used to spout, but delivered in that low, even tone, it was almost convincing. It did kind of make sense, after all.

Those bright, serious eyes were fixed on him again, He supposed it was his turn to make conversation. It wasn't a simple prospect - how were you meant to chat to someone who was effectively ten days old? But any company was better than his own.

"So..... what do you think of the decor in this place?"

*~*~*~*~*

It wasn't easy. They soon ran out of topics they might both have an opinion on. So Vincent was forced, in the long run, to fill up the silence himself. He started with the simple things; simple, but full of wonder to his companion, who had never experienced them. Sunlight. Moonlight. Midgar, his home city. The roar and the pace and the blank, harsh cruelty of it, like an insect nest or one giant machine, whirring in the darkness. The towering Mako generators, the different Sectors and the kind of people who lived there. The stranger might have been a captive audience, but he was an enthusiastic one. He listened eagerly, eyes wide and intent on the speaker. And the questions he asked weren't the ones that Vincent had expected. He didn't want to know what things were. Statistics about the size of the population of Midgar, the wealth and power wielded by ShinRa, didn't interest him in the slightest. He wanted to know how things felt. He asked what the sound of a Sector was, and when Vincent said that they all differed, he made him describe each in detail. He asked what it was like to kill a living creature, whether the moment of death was something tangible, whether it was good. He wanted to know what the air tasted like in the city, and whether the taste was different in the countryside. And, trying to explain these things, Vincent felt as if he was learning them himsfor for the first time.

*~*~*~*~*

"Do you have nightmares in this place?"

He'd only wanted to know that he wasn't alone.

"What is a nightmare?"

"It's a bad dream."

"What is a dream?"

"Well, when you sleep -"

"What is sleep?"

"It's - wait, do you mean to tell me that you've never slept?"

"I do not know, as I do not know what it is. Maybe I have. Tell me."

"Well, you know when I settle down against the wall every night -"

"Yes, yes! You cease to speak, and your eyes close, and your breathing slows down, and your heart rate becomes deeper and more steady. Sometimes you move, and make sounds, but your movements have no purpose. I have been most curious about it. Is that what you call sleep, then?"

"I - yes, when I do that, I'm sleeping. Don't you sleep, then?"

"I have not yet experienced it, no. But I am only a fourteen-day old. Or - how is it you said it? A fortnight. Perhaps I shall sleep later?"

"Well, it's hard to say, I guess. But humans sleep every night, usually. We can try to stay awake, but we can't manage more than a couple of days at a time. If a human can't sleep, it means there's something wrong with them."

Silence.

"Perhaps there is something wrong with me?"

The voice was small, tight. Vincent was reminded again of just how vulnerable this new friend of his was.

"I shouldn't think so. I mean, do you feel tired? Do you feel the need to sleep?"

"No."

"Then your body just doesn't need to, I suppose. Count yourself lucky. When humans sleep, we're vulnerable. We can't control our bodies, so we can be attacked and we can't defend ourselves. And we can't control our dreams, either."

"Yes, these dream-things you spoke of. What are they, then?"

"They're.... visions we have, when we're asleep. They feel like real experiences, although they don't actually happen. Usually, we don't remember them properly when we wake up."

"And these.... nightmares, was it?"

"Nightmares, yes. Bad dreams. Dreams when bad things happen to us.... being pursued by enemies and not being able to get away, or being attacked by monsters, or falling from somewhere high. Even being killed, sometimes. And we can't escape it, because we aren't in control of ourselves in our dreams."

There was a long silence.

"I see. I shall be grateful Inot not experience these things, then. They sound most uncomfortable."

Vincent leaned back, eyes closed.

"They are."

*~*~*~*~*

It was time for the next phase. He gathered four of his best men, and began the journey downwards.

Vincent was sleeping again. The creature called JD-103 was observing him, as he always did. Carefully noting the slowed pulse and respiratory rate. Watching every movement keenly, from the tiniest flicker of his eyelids to the sudden flailing of a limb. Was he dreaming now? Were the visions he was seeing good or bad? He felt a sudden, intense longing to be human. It startled him. He had not been aware of it before. And yet, he sensed that it had begun prior to this moment. Every time Vincent had made some generalisation - said, 'humans do this', 'we do that' - he had wished to be included in the category. To be one of that 'us'. To have a name. To have dreams. Yes, even to have nightmares. He wanted to experience what Vincent experienced.

He was disturbed by sudden movement elsewhere. Four black-clad men were coming along the corridor. They were trying to be stealthy, but his hearing was keen and his vision not at all impaired by the low light. He shrank back to the furthest corner of his cell and froze there, waiting to see what they would do.

They opened the door of Vincent's cell. Two stayed by the door, while the other two approached the sleeping human. One pushed back the sleeve of the shapeless grey garment he had been given to wear. The other slipped a needle into his vein, depressed the plunger. Then, between them, they lifted him, preparing to carry him from the cell.

The creature screamed.

The men dropped to their knees, desperately trying to cover their ears. Vincent hit the floor, a limp bundle. The scream went on, and on, and on. It was at once high-pitched and deep, despairing and full of menace. It was something totally other, something out of a different world. To the men, it was physically painful, like thousands of tiny needles lancing all over their bodies, freezing them to the spot.

And then, as suddenly as it had begun, the screaming stopped.

Hojo carefully put the remote control back in his pocket, and delicately removed his ear plugs.

"Oh, for goodness' sake get up," he snapped. "We have work to do."

Vincent was carried from his cell, and back up towards the labs.

JD-103 lay on the stone floor, unconscious, lightning sparks pulsing around the glass bead set in the collar at his throat.

*~*~*~*~*

When Vincent woke up again, the first thing he noticed was that he was looking up at a plain white ceiling, with small bright lights picked out at regular intervals along it. The second thing he noticed was that he couldn't move - his arms and legs were strapped down tightly to whatever it was he was lying on - and he was cold. This last was prob exp explained by the fact that he'd been stripped down to his underwear. He guessed that the thing he was lying on was some kind of operating table, and repressed a shudder. Straining his neck, he looked around as much of the room as he could. It was all stark and white. The whole place looked so damn sterilised, like the surgical tools arranged neatly along one wall. Next to them was a rack of test tubes, glowing Mako-green. One of them seemed to have something growing inside it. He shut his eyes again, willing it all to be another nightmare, to just go away. It refused.

Hojo's voice came from somewhere behind him, sounding amused.

"So, the sleeping beauty awakes. How are we feeling?"

Vincent ground his teeth together to keep from answering, not trusting his voice.

"Oh, come now, must you be so uncooperative? I can assure you, neither of us will profit by it if you are." Lazily, the scientist trailed a hand down Vincent's bare torso, tracing over the hairline scars on his chest and stomach. "Would you favour me by taking a few deep, slow breaths?" When all he received was a cold, sullen stare, he sighed. "You really won't enjoy it if we have to do this the hard way, trust me." Vincent refrained from commenting on the absurdity of Hojo asking to be trusted about anything. He merely kept up his silent glare, obstinately breathing as shallowly as possible.

Hojo waited a few seconds, watching him. Then he shook his head, and said, "Oh, very well then," a note of genuine regret in his voice.

The pain came from a band fixed around Vincent's upper arm. It washed down the limb in a wave of fire, and spread upwards from the shoulder, locking his back muscles together. He arched off the table, thrashing as much as his restraints would allow. When it was over, his forehead was dripping sweat, and he was gasping for breath.

Hojo calmly copied down the recordings displayed on the screen fixed to the foot of the table.

"Expanded lung capacity," he muttered, "and a stronger, more resistant heart, too. Perfect." He locked his hands behind his back, and walked slowly to the head of the table, standing over Vincent again. "Now, my dear Mr. Valentine, believe me when I say that, should I have to force you to comply with the rest of this session, the results will be even less to your liking. It's only a routine check-up on your progress, and the sooner it's over, the soonerbothboth get what we want; I get my data, and you get to have me leave you alone."

"My.... progress? What are you doing to me?"

"Improving you, Mr. Valentine, improving you. Making you stronger, faster, more efficient. Giving you.... more reserves to draw on, you might say. Now, are you going to behave?"

Vincent was a brave man, but he was not a masochist. Not where Hojo was concerned, at any rate. He closed his eyes.

"Just get it over with."

Hojo smiled. "Excellent. Open your mouth." Vincent listened to the quite beeps and whirrs of machinery, trying not to picture what it might be doing.

"As I said, Mr. Valentine, I am strengthening you. Probably you have noted some improvements already. Don't try to answer, this is quite delicate." Vincent could feel something brushing against the back of his throat, and mastered his gag reflex as best he could. "These ivemevements will continue over the next few weeks. There may be some minor side-effects, due to the nature of the experimentation, but they shouldn't impair your ability to function effectively. Bite down now, hard as you can. That's it. Keep your jaw clenched." Suddenly, the voice was closer. "Would you like to know what the nature of the experimentation is, Mr. Valentine? Just nod or shake." The words were dripped into his ear, an insinuating whisper. He could feel Hojo's breath brushing his cheek. Half afraid, half angry with himself, but needing to know the answer, he nodded slowly.

"Demonology, Mr. Valentine. Demonology. And you are by far the most interesting subject to date. If you could just flex the fingers of your right hand? Good. Now your left. Demons, in case you were unaware of it, are the most powerful and destructive type of summoned monster. We've been working on harnessing their power for months now. With you, we look to have succeeded, finally. It may be some time before you are fully aware and in command of your capabilities, but when you are...." His voice trailed off in something like reverence.

The next moment he was business-like once more. "Open your eyes. Fix them on the light in the upper left hand corner of your vision." As he scanned first Vincent's right eye, then his left, he added conversationally, "What do you think of your new companion, then? It seems to have become quite attached to you; I had to restrain it rather forcefully."

Vincent winced at the pronoun. "What have you done to him?" He managed to keep the rage out of his voice - barely - as this was his only way of gaining information.

"Ah. He then, if you insist, was one of the less successful incarnations of the Demonology project." That wasn't the question that Vincent had meant to ask, but he was curious to know the answer anyway, so he did not interrupt. "An attempt to inject Mako energy directly into demon cells. The experiment is not without its interesting consequences, but the creation is an unstable being. Now focus to the light on your bottom right, if you please. It - I do apologise, he - will be kept under observation in quiet conditions for some time, to see if he becomes less volatile. It was hoped that companionship might stimulate any latent intelligence. Would you say that it has done so?"

The answer could be crucial in determining his friend's future, but it was impossible to tell what answer it was that Hojo wanted to hear. Vincent settled on caution.

"He seems reasonably intelligent to me."

"Really? That is interesting. This may sting a little." The pin punctured Vincent's fingertip, withdrew as quickly as it had come. Hojo secured a few drops of blood within a glass bottle, and carefully dripped a little of his sample into a test tube of bright blue liquid. He nodded in satisfaction as the droplet began to glow softly.

"All done. There, that wasn't so bad, was it?"

Vincent refused to dignify that with a response.

"Oh, and Mr. Valentine? One more thing." Hojo's face had appeared above his again. "Aren't you going to ask me how Lucrecia is? I thought you might like to know - she's pregnant."

Vincent steehimshimself, and spat directly into the middle of that sneer. His arm tensed instinctively, preparing for pain. When he saw the needle pressing into his vein, it was almost a relief.

*~*~*~*~*

After his men had retreated to a safe distance, and Vincent was securely back inside his cell, Hojo turned off the device that kept JD-103 immobile. He was tempted to stay and observe their interaction, but he had work to do; an experiment would reach its most volatile stage within an hour and he needed to oversee it personally. He didn't trust his assistants to deal with anything so delicate.

The creature sat up, staring around with wide-open eyes. Then he caught sight of Vincent, who was watching him and just beginning to smile.

"You are back!" There was an almost childish delight in his voice. Then, his face fell. "I am sorry. When they came for you, I could not stop them."

"Don't worry about it," Vincent soothed. "There wasn't anything you could do. I'm alright, I'm just glad they didn't hurt you too badly to keep you out of the way."

"No, no, I am well. This device," he fingered the collar, "seems to have the effect of rendering me incapable of movement. This is the second time I have experienced it. It is..... not pleasant. But I appear to be unharmed."

Listening to him speak, Vincent wondered how Hojo could possibly have thought he lacked intelligence. He couldn't think of anything to say. There was a long, slightly awkward silence.

"Vincent?"

"Yes?"

"I... I wanted to ask you something. I decided it in the night."

Another lengthy pause.

"Well? What is it?"

"You will think it foolish."

"That doesn't matter. Ask me."

"Would you... give me a name? I am beginning to feel the lack of one. I do not wish to be called what he calls me. That makes me belong to him."

"I - of course, yes. Don't worry, I understand. How about," - he thought - "....Demian?"

The suggestion was considered for a moment.

"Yes. It is good. I like the way that it sounds. Very well. I am - Demian."

Demian was happy to be named. It felt as though he were one step closer to being human.

Vincent was glad to give his friend pleasure with such a simple thing.

He never told him that the name meant 'demon-child'.

*~*~*~*~*


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