Unnamed Story

BY : Roaming_Firefly
Category: Final Fantasy VII > Yaoi - Male/Male > Sephiroth/Vincent
Dragon prints: 2604
Disclaimer: see full disclaimer below

Author's notes: Finally an update after what, almost 3 years? I'm so, so sorry about that, to all who had waited and reviewed Dx I don't regret going on a hiatus though. I DID write a few chapters after "Labyrinth" three years ago, but I didn't like what I wrote and I never posted them. Looking at those chapters again after my 3-year break...they truly were crap. It figured. I was feeling tired and worn out by my job, and uninspired from not having the time to do some leisure reading for myself. I finally have some time for myself now though, and I've got some new ideas that I couldn't have thought of 3 years ago, and I can't wait to put them down on paper...or computer screen...

 

To tell the truth, I have not planned to post new chapters on AFF. I'm already posting on fanfiction.net and archiveofourown, and a third website to post on would be too time-consuming. But by chance and a reader request I came back here for a look, and found that one anonymous reviewer here had put two comments about 2 years apart asking for updates. I'm surprised, humbled, and very thankful to know that somebody out there had been remembering and waiting for this fic for such a long time. I'm deeply sorry that I have not updated or answered for so long, I've just been very, very inactive on here. I don't know if this anon. is still here, but these new chapters posted here are for you :)

 

I'm not sure if I will keep posting updates on here, as I said, 3 websites are a bit time consuming. Plus I am also editing earlier chapters for clarity and minor plot points. Nothing major, but chapter 3: Nightmare and chapter 6: Culture Clash are the ones that had the most noticeable changes. So re-uploading all chapters on all 3 websites are a bit much. I might, some time in the future, but if you want the most up-to-date version of this fic, and my other fics, you'd find them on FF.net and AO3 instead of here.

My FF.net profile: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/3906649/

My AO3 profile: http://archiveofourown.org/users/RoamingFirefly/pseuds/RoamingFirefly

 

Well, enough with my rambles. Let's get on with the story, and I hope you'll enjoy =)


Chapter 16 - City of Gold


It turned out that Nami was an avid book-lover and visited the Central Library frequently. She also loved to drive her sky-bike — a popular means of transportation in the city — in a very fast, very acrobatic fashion...regardless of whether or not she carried her sovereign's rare, expensive slaves in the passenger seats. Vincent took a firm hold of the passenger seat's handles as they ducked under the wing of a wyvern, skirted over the back of a giant flying skate fish, then swerved into the on-coming traffic of flying demons and beasts and bikes and aircrafts of all shapes and sizes. Far, far below them sprawled the capital city of 7th Hell. Although it is named "City of Gold", there appears to be nothing "golden" about the city. The streets were a tangled web that radiated from the Archdaemon's palace, and the city's impressive collection of buildings displayed a wild assortment of colours and shapes — many of them obviously unsuitable for humanoid habitants. And it was clear that the Archdaemon was not the only one who could transform into giant beasts here. Vincent watched as a skinny old man with a long white beard leap out of an aircraft only to transform into a large fox with nine tails which then sped off through the air with purple clouds rolling about its/his feet. And not far below them, a dragon-like creature with golden leathery skin landed upon the roof of a tall building and then proceeded to transform into a young woman with dark, curly hair.

His demons were much enjoying the ride. They loved the sensation of flight, and currently they have all pushed as much as they could to the fore of his awareness, reveling in the sights and sounds and smells of the city, and the wild feel of the wind. Memories of their past lives — only shadows and blurs, but pleasant ones nonetheless — flickered and pulsed like embers though their fractured minds. Galian Beast was practically purring, though he idly wondered why all those creatures who could very well fly on their own were cramming themselves into flying machines instead.

Indeed, I'm wondering about it myself, said Chaos, Host, perhaps you should ask the Wind Reader why she, as a dragonkind, is limiting herself to this...fragile contraption. There seems to be a reason that I can not recall, but I feel it is important somehow.

Vincent looked over at Nami, the "Wind Reader" that his demons speak of.

'Dragonkind'? He asked.

Chaos scoffed. Death Gigas snorted in laughter gracelessly and Hellmasker made some snide remark about humans and ignorance.

Vincent simply ignored them and patiently, pointedly, waited for his answer.

The Wind Reader is a Sea Dragon, Host, how can you not recognize the very wing-mates of water and wind. Chaos finally said, sounding very much unimpressed.

I apologize for not having a mental catalogue of denizens of Hell, apart from the four of you of course.

That earned the ex-Turk another round of amusement from his demons.

Sea Dragons are not "denizen of Hell".

No.

But kin.

Born of the seas that flow between the realms of the Axis.

Strong flyers, as all dragonkind are.

As 'fast' or 'acrobatic' as you seem to think of this contraption that we ride, dragonkind are capable of much more.

This...machine...is not worthy of her. We do not understand why she would use one.

Sea Dragon... From the corners of his eyes, Vincent discreetly studied the slim figure of the Circle Treasurer who took her sovereign's unshackled slaves out in the city completely unaided and unaccompanied, If they stand against us in a fight, would they be a problem?

Death Gigas shook his angular head.

Not warriors.

Knowledge-seekers.

Curious.

Very curious.

Explorers.

Flyers.

Powerful.

Masters of magic.

Do not underestimate them, Host, not even this young one.

Vincent nodded mentally in acknowledgment and made careful note of the look and feel of the dragon-treasurer's energy signature. At first glance it looked very much like the distinctive swirls typical of demon energies, but upon closer inspection, it moved in a more wave-like, undulating pattern.

Physical features are less reliable identifiers, but nevertheless, Vincent took note of the shape of her horns — which looked more like deer antlers, while demons such as Reno and Tseng sported ridged, curved horns that resembled those of certain species of antelope — and the subtle flecks of tiny iridescent scales above her brows, along her collarbones, and on her shoulder-blades. She also had a bluish tattoo on her left shoulder in the abstract shape of a swirling cross.

That is odd, mused Chaos, Sea Dragons are usually very proud of their natural bodies and seldom try to alter it in any way.

Is it also unusual for them to be Treasurers of Archdaemons? asked Vincent.

A buzz of puzzlement was all the answer he received. The demons' fractured, feral minds could not understand what being a Sea Dragon and being a "Treasurer" had to do with one another.

Vincent silently sighed.

All of a sudden, from under them shot up a huge, gaudily-decorated, blindingly shiny aircraft that made way more noise than it needed to in its passing. Nami quickly rolled away to avoid getting caught in the turbulence in its wake, and Sephiroth, who was at that moment, leaning out to the side of the sky-bike, trying to get a better look at a half-transparent flying whale that was just passing them by, was almost thrown out of the sky-bike and was saved only by his own fast reflexes...and that of Vincent's. Both mako green and crimson stared in surprise at the pale hand that was now holding the former general's arm in its strong grip, then the two pairs of eyes met each other briefly, then the crimson eyes flinched away again even as the pale hand helped tug Sephiroth back into the bike. Nami was too busy working to maintain control of her bike to be paying much attention to her passengers at the moment though. Making use of her own fast reflexes, she was able to right her bike before colliding with any of the surrounding air traffic, all the while bellowing some of the most inventive curses at the big, careless aircraft, that Vincent and his demons had ever heard. And that was saying something considering that they've spent time with the likes of Barret Wallace and Cid Highwind. Below them, various flying creatures and objects spun and dodged around the turbulence and each other, yelling and screeching and roaring and honking.

Dark clouds then suddenly appeared from seemingly nowhere. They gathered around each other, growing thicker and thicker, darker and darker until a single streak of lightening flashed through their darkness — and straight into the nose of the gaudy aircraft. The aircraft trembled and keeled, its metallic parts creaking and groaning painfully against each other until finally, it just stopped dead, hanging stranded and helpless in the middle of the sky.

"Idiots. They should have been watching the winds. The weather today is terrible for large, metallic things to be so reckless." Nami commented lightly as the dark clouds disappeared as quickly as they came, and the sky was sunny and completely cloudless once more. Turning to the sky-bike's controls, she started them forward once again. The smirk that tugged at her lips as she turned away however, was not missed by the two men's sharp eyes. Above them, angry, chattering flying creatures and objects gathered around the unfortunate aircraft, which shuddered and wobbled as if its occupants where trying desperately to make it move — in vain.

"You better hold on tight," Nami warned her silver-haired passenger, "you may have wings, but the wind might not carry you if you fall."

"Oh?" Sephiroth turned back from the scene of the berated aircraft and righted himself in his seat again with all the lazy grace of a large cat, "Why might it not? Is it poor weather for human-sized slaves of Archdaemons to be flying also?"

Nami turned towards him with a small smirk, "No, it's because the Archdaemon didn't tell it to."

Sephiroth blinked, "What do you mean?"

"Exactly what I said," Nami grinned mischievously as she and a four-winged demon in humanoid form casually dodged each other by banking sharply to their right, "the wind won't carry you because the Archdaemon didn't say it can."

"You mean to tell me that the Archdaemon can dictate exactly who the very air will carry?" asked Sephiroth incredulously.

"And the water, and even the ground itself. You didn't think that all an Archdaemon does is crunch numbers and fill out forms did you?" teased Nami.

"Instead she fills her days with decisions about the air and the water and the ground for each and every last person in her realm." replied Sephiroth dryly, earning an amused guffaw from the young Circle Treasurer.

Not every last person, whispered Chaos. The other demons nodded in agreement, pieces of ancient memories slowly coming together to take shape.

Indeed, it was unlikely that the Archdaemon would actively grant or deny each and every person within her realm the basic ability to travel as they please, pondered Vincent. Glancing over at Sephiroth and Nami, the ex-Turk judged that they were both adequately distracted in their conversation at the moment, and so he focused inward, concentrating to hold both the fresh memories of the exchange between Nami and Sephiroth, and his demons' ancient, fragmented memories side by side in his mind. Even if Archdaemons somehow had the ability to pinpoint, identify, and track every individual at all times, it was highly unlikely that someone like Tah'rh would have the patience to sit around attending to that all day. And indeed, there was no evidence of such fine control over the populace in his demons' memories. The way that Nami structured her sentences… "The Archdaemon didn't tell it to..." "The Archdaemon didn't say it can..." Yet Nami never said: "The Archdaemon told it not to..." or "The Archdaemon said it can't..."

Perhaps...the Archdaemon doesn't give direct orders; perhaps by default, nobody can travel freely in Hell, and it was up to the Archdaemon to...do something to unlock the ability for her citizens... ...No...not all her citizens... Chaos insisted that he never needed anyone's permission to fly... The ex-Turk quickly did a mental survey of the air traffic around them, taking note of those who used flying machines, and those who flew on their own wings...fins...things... As he had suspected, most of the people using flying machines were non-demons, and most of the people flying on their own were demons. A theory slowly started to materialize in Vincent's mind, but he needed more information about this world. Information that unfortunately, his demons either didn't remember, or couldn't put into coherent thought.

"Why is this city named City of Gold?" asked Sephiroth as he surveyed the city of colourful, mismatched buildings below them with an unimpressed expression, "it resembles more a cadet's collection of tin cans and pointless trinkets than any precious metal."

Nami shrugged as she zipped by a flying rowboat, "Who knows, perhaps it's because there's always been something here that attracts people of all races to come here from all kinds of places. I think at one point the mining industry was quite good here, but that didn't last long. Maybe it's the casinos? There were a lot of those here even before Tah'rh became Archdaemon. You'll need to ask Tseng, he knows more about this city, and arguably about this entire circle, than anyone else."

"More than anyone? Even the Archdaemon?" asked Sephiroth.

"Well that's not THAT surprising, is it?" chuckled Nami, "Tah'rh is young and has only become Archdaemon quite recently. But Tseng, he has served 6 previous Archdaemons, he knows almost everything about the circle and how it runs. Not even many of the previous Archdaemons could best him in that."

"The Archdaemons...they do not mind this?" asked Sephiroth carefully. He knew well the delicate balance of power, and the jealousy that can exist between an absolute ruler, and his or her second-in-command. No matter how loyal or dedicated they are, a second-in-command who dares to appear too capable or popular, will often meet a swift and brutal end. ShinRa's board of top executives hadn't always been populated by nothing but a roster of cowardly opportunists who couldn't rub two brain cells together between the lot of them. Even Sephiroth had to be careful to not be TOO brilliant, least President Shinra begins to see him as a threat. Not that he hadn't, to some degree. There had always been a leash kept carefully about the three First-class SOLDIER's necks.

"...Yes, quite a few of them did mind," Nami's animated voice subtly, but noticeably fell soft when she answered, "But they needed him. The Circle needed him...which of course, did not make matters better...for Tseng... Perhaps it is one of the reasons why the Circle chose Tah'rh...?" murmured Nami, to herself.

"'Chose Tah'rh'?" sensing a slip of information, the former-general boldly pushed forward, "I heard that she won her position as Archdaemon by killing the previous Archdaemon."

Nami glanced back at Sephiroth from the corner of her eye, but then she grinned, "The Circles are not dead land you know, not like the Wastelands. The demons are born from them, and when they die, they return to them, and over time, will be born again from them. Of course a Circle will have a say in who will become its Archdaemon."

"...You mean the Circles...have Lifestreams?" Sephiroth's eyes widened in realization.

Nami's dark eyes also widened as she looked at Sephiroth in surprise over her shoulder.

"So in addition to fighting the reigning Archdaemon to the death...a potential successor will also need to gain the favour of your Lifestream..." continued Sephiroth as he worked out the connections to himself.

"How did you... You know about the Aether Stream?" asked Nami, astonished.

"We...have something like that, a current of life...a collective consciousness... Back in our world, it is known as the 'Lifestream'." said Vincent, looking like one who didn't much care about the conversation, the way he lounged in his seat, looking casually out to the side, and the slow, half-distracted way he talked. Sephiroth knew better than to believe that facade.

"Oh?" Nami's brown eyes shone in genuine fascination, her full attention on her Archdaemon's slaves now, "What is it like?"

As happy as Vincent was that the Circle Treasurer took the bait, he wondered if he should be worried about a flaming collision, since Nami was keeping her eyes on them and the back of her head to the direction that they were traveling towards... ...Or perhaps he should be more worried that Nami nonetheless seem to have no trouble dodging on-coming air traffic like that.

"Large and green," replied Sephiroth with a shrug, "almost endlessly so. Seemingly still and tranquil, yet never silent and never unmoving. It's exactly how you described your Circle: all life on our planet are born from it, and dies to return to it, only to be born again from it. Though...it's consciousness is too...incoherent. I doubt it's able to make any decisions on who should reign over whom, nor make any other conscious decisions about the lives of the creatures it engendered. Until very recently, most of the populace did not even know of or believe in its existence."

That all changed of course, when certain...events...caused the Lifestream to surge out of the planet to stop the coming of METEOR... Neither Sephiroth nor Vincent made any effort to meet the other's eyes.

"Fascinating," breathed Nami, "to my knowledge, very few inhabitants of the mortal world ever learn of the existence of their Aether Streams...or Lifestreams... Streams of the mortal world are exactly that: incoherent, low-energy. And yet...you said it's never silent...you mean you can hear it?"

"Only when I'm in it..." grumbled Sephiroth. Even during his fall into insanity, he had wondered why he couldn't hear the Lifestream if he was a Cetra. Jenova had assured him that it was simply because he was "incomplete", which would be remedied as soon as they achieved their grand plan of absorbing the Lifestream. How stupid was he to have believed that.

"Not all of us can hear it," Vincent spoke up, "but there was one ancient race in our world who could. We called them the 'Cetra'."

"'Was'? You mean they are no more?" asked Nami.

"...Yes," answered Vincent, choosing his words carefully, "most of their population had died, to a...parasite, thousands of years ago. There were a few survivors, though their numbers were so few that they were quickly forgotten by the general populace."

"So they were mortal? A mortal race who could hear the voices of the streams?" Nami's bike slowed and stuttered, and a few other flyers voiced their displeasure at the disruption in the traffic. Nami quickly turned back to the way ahead and righted her sky bike in the air traffic. But it was apparent that her mind had not left the conversation.

"A mortal race who can hear the voices of the streams...that's unheard of! Of course, once in a while some mortal individuals are born with the ability, but it's a special occurrence. An entire race! All members? Consistently having the ability to hear?" the sky bike navigated the busy skies just as smoothly as before, but was obviously a little slower, more hesitant, as its distracted driver muttered and pondered.

"Not warriors.

Knowledge-seekers.

Curious.

Very curious."

"Miss Nami..." Vincent began.

Nami looked back and raised an eyebrow at the gunman at the formal address. This was another thing that Vincent and Sephiroth had noticed during their time in 7th Circle: the people here didn't seem to be too keen on formal titles and such. Even high-ranking Circle Council members such as Tseng and Nami were usually addressed simply by their names. Tah'rh herself absolutely hated getting addressed as "my lord", "my sovereign", or "Archdaemon", and even with her slaves, she insisted that they just call her by her name.

But Vincent had wanted to draw the Circle Treasurer's attention. And he got exactly that.

The ex-Turk adjusted his posture in his seat subtly, meaningfully, "...would you like to hear more?"

Thus began a game or sorts that they played during every trip to the Central Library: the ex-Turk and the former general would fish for information about the demons' world from the Circle Treasurer, in exchange for bits of information about their own world. Nami was every bit as shrewd as her two opponents, however, and cunningly danced around their efforts. It was only to be expected, really, of a dragon responsible for the treasury of the Circle. And Vincent and Sephiroth would be lying if they said they didn't enjoy having such a skilled opponent to play against in this battle of wits, this dance of guile.

Eventually it was clear that between Vincent and Sephiroth, Vincent was the one who talked the most. A lot of times the former general stayed silent as he listened to the ex-Turk, looking almost as fascinated by tales about his own world as the dragon Treasurer was. Particularly on things having to do with the Cetra. Vincent decided that there was no foreseeable harm in it. Likely most of what Sephiroth knew about the Ancients came from the flawed research of ShinRa scientists, and whatever the alien Jenova told him. It might do him some good to know at least some truths.

The way that Sephiroth looked at him when he's engrossed in the ex-Turk's stories however, was painfully, painfully familiar. It was the same look that had once shone in Lucrecia's eyes, one that spoke of a curious mind and passion for knowledge, and youthful willingness to go look where no one had looked before.

It was a look that had once deeply drawn a jaded young Turk, many years ago. Vincent flinched his gaze away, unable to look any longer. He did not fail however, to catch the look in Sephiroth's eyes as he did so. It was a very subtle change, one that most people would never have noticed — and certainly would never have expected from the Silver General. But for a split second, the man had looked...vulnerable... Hurt, even.

Stop rejecting him so, foolish Host!

The Silver Fledgeling wants us, and you want him.

Stop denying it.

Why do you deny it?

We most certainly find all his courtship displays most impressive. He is strong, willing, and you hurt this youngling unnecessarily with your rejection.

Would he be less hurt to be mere replacement for a shadow of the past? Vincent argued back at his demons. The feral minds of the demons may have quickly and decisively come to the conclusion that "Host wants the Silver Fledgeling as mate", but Vincent himself was far, far from sorting through the quagmire that was his feelings towards his once-enemy. One thing was certain though: Sephiroth was Lucrecia's son. There was so much in him that reminded Vincent of that young, bright-eyed scientist — an expression here, a gesture there, until Vincent could not distinguish whether the demons' insistence that "Host wants the Silver Fledgeling as mate", was simply a misinterpretation of a remnant, a vestige of old feelings, old love, that still refused to dissipate from his soul.

If you will but stop flinching your eyes from the past, Host, then you will see the truth in the present before you.

If it only were that easy. Vincent mentally sighed. The demons were right though, this was unfair to Sephiroth. He had been remarkably patient. Since their scuffle that first night in 7th Hell, the former general had made no further move to push the ex-Turk. He knew that Vincent understood what he wanted to ask, and he knew that Vincent had the answer. And yet he waited, patiently, for the ex-Turk to talk to him.

But Vincent was not ready. Sephiroth had reacted VERY badly to poorly presented half-truths about his origins that last time, as the town of Nibelheim would tell. Hojo had deliberately kept all information of his family and origins from him. In that void of unknown and unanswered questions, no doubt that Sephiroth would have, as a desperately lonely child, made up his own stories and illusions about his parents, his family, to help him live through his life in the cold labs.

No doubt at all, for the child himself had told Vincent all about it, back then.

It would be painful for him to learn the truth: that his parents had willingly handed him to a life on the examination table as a piece of cooperate property...that his father was his very tormentor, Hojo. And that the closest thing he had to a friend in the labs, was one who had watched it all unfold, from the very beginning, and yet did nothing. And Vincent...did not want to loose him, this curious, intelligent young man — not again — to madness. He will talk to Sephiroth, eventually. He had to. The young man had all but pleaded for Vincent to give him the answers he so desperately sought that night. And he had a right to know.

But not yet. Vincent needed time, time to sort out his own confused thoughts and emotions, before he could trust himself with Sephiroth's sanity.

Time is what we do not have, Host. Chaos growled lowly, deep in their shared mindscape.

What do you mean?

We...don't know.

We feel it.

Something is wrong.

Wrong with the Silver Fledgeling.

But we can't see.

Vincent mentally sighed in frustration. That was how most of his questions to his demons about this world were answered. The demons were masses of instinct and gut feelings — even Chaos, the most powerful and intelligent of them. Rarely could they explain what they were sensing in a coherent way, in a way beyond "we feel it" or "because it IS".

Vincent chanced a glance at Sephiroth. The former general was currently engaged in conversation with Nami, and wasn't looking his way. Quietly, as unnoticeably as possible, Vincent willed himself to relax, to give up a bit of his control and allow his demons to come a bit to the surface. They had done this many times now, out of necessity, since landing in Hell. That was how Vincent had been able to read the demon script, how he could see the energy signatures of the demons and other beings around him. It was all through his demons' eyes, for his own human eyes, enhanced as they were, were quite useless in that regard. The demons recovered their memories faster too, the more and the longer they spend taking in the sights and sounds and the feel of the place.

Through his demons' eyes, the world shifts a little. Brighter, somehow, though not uniformly so. The air around them too, once clear, now shimmered slightly in subtly varying shades of blue. Swirls of energy now flitted about the bodies of Nami and Sephiroth, and even himself too.

Vincent focused his attention on Sephiroth, as discreetly as possible. The former general's aura was the same as always. Pale flickers of silver and green floated about him very much like shadows of feathers falling from invisible wings, layered with dark swirls that very much resembled the signature of demons. It was no wonder that the denizens of Hell would see him as a "hybrid". As Vincent and his demons focus more and more though, something touched on their awareness, something so faint, that they couldn't tell what it was, only that it was there.

Galian let out a low growl in their shared mind.

Sephiroth seemed to have sensed Vincent studying him, however, for his shoulders subtly tensed and he began to turn in the ex-Turk's direction. Vincent quickly took full control again and turned away from Sephiroth's questioning gaze. Fortunately this time, as all the times before, the former general chose not to confront the ex-Turk, and simply went back to his conversation with Nami.

What was that? That...something. Vincent whispered into his mind

We don't know.

We can't see enough.

Not like this.

Let us see, more.

...I...

...I can't...

It was hard, letting go as much as he was doing already. Old, instinctive fear of loosing control, of being taken over, being lost, gnawed at him every time he and his demons did this. And the demons feared being overwhelmed and lost as much as their human host did. It took thirty years for them to come to a sort of understanding, a semblance of peace in the cramped space of Vincent's mind. Took the necessity of survival in Hell for them to grudgingly trust each other enough to let each other see a little through each other's eyes. It was taxing too, to hold multiple minds at the same time in the forefront of one's consciousness. Much easier to "rotate" who was fully aware and who was not, like they've been doing during Vincent's limit breaks. The lesser demons could not sense things as well as Chaos however, nor did they have the capacity to explain what they had sensed. But Vincent was not ready to reveal his most powerful demon to his captors just yet. So for now, the ex-Turk and his demons could only wait and puzzle, with only Chaos's cryptic warning echoing softly through their minds.

He does not have much time...



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