Part Two: ...Doomed to Repeat it.
Hair is grey and the fires are burning...
So many dreams on the shelf.
You say "I wanted you to be proud of me."
I always wanted that myself...
~~Tori Amos "Winter"
"Watch the monitors!"
"We're losing him!"
"Give him some more!"
"Stabilized. Just like the other one."
"Good. The Promised Land is near gentleman. This one's a vegetable, we'll have no problem with him."
Green eyes, glowing from the effects of the Mako, slowly opened, and focused on Professor Kaap.
"You must be Professor Kaap."
Kaap's eyes widened. This was not right! This creature lying on the table should have no mind, no way to talk! It was then that Kaap realized he may have made a very deadly mistake.
"May I have my sword please, Professor Kaap?"
In a daze, he handed the sword to the man, trying to figure out what he was going to do, how he was going to convince this new threat that he belonged to him. The blade that he handed him was a replica of Masamune that had been created in order to kill the person who was now holding it. The creature took a few practice swipes, then frowned,
"This is not my sword. The balance is off. Where is the real one?"
"A... a girl has it," Kaap started to tremble, "Your... your s-s-sister..."
"My... sister," a blood relative... that had potential. Then, he turned to Kaap, "You have outlived your usefulness!"
Kaap barely felt the pain as he toppled to the floor. His last thought was,
"What have I done...?"
* * *
A cloaked figure dropped out of the window and walked calmly away from the facility. A moment later, the whole complex blew up, flames spewing into the night, turning it into a pseudo-day. Green Mako eyes reflected the firelight back, and a pair of perfect lips broke into a hideously delighted smile. The figure spoke softly,
"Ahh... What a beautiful unsuspecting world. I'm back Mother. I'm back, and I'll soon be bringing you a little present- your beautiful daughter, my sister... I have a sister..."
And Sephiroth threw back his head and laughed.
* * *
"Sephiroth!" Jenny abruptly found herself sitting up in bed, sweat pouring off her. Her brother was alive, and coming for her! She had to get away! She had to leave! She had to... she had to...
What was she saying? They were only dreams, right? She looked down at her hands, lying on the covers of her makeshift bed. She'd been traveling with Cloud and Tifa for some time now. After some initial mistrust, they had accepted her completely, and they had become rather good friends. She was the happiest she had ever been... and the most lonely. Cloud and Tifa had each other- it was obvious that they were in love, though Jenny had picked up something about a man in Cloud's past from Tifa and his conversation- and she had no one. Well, maybe she had Reno, but he was so far away... She might never see him again.
Why did that pull at her heart so much? He was only a friend, right? Maybe even a best buddy, and he'd gotten her out of Midgar safely. That was what she wanted, and what he wanted for her. So why wasn't she happy? She wasn't happy because she-
"Jenny! Are you okay in there?"
Her head snapped up, her train of thought broken. She tried to claim it again, but it evaded her grasp, elusive and swift. She turned towards the tent flap,
"Yes Cloud, I'm fine."
"You screamed out Sephiroth's name, I thought you might be in trouble."
"No... just a horrible, horrible dream."
Cloud paused for a moment,
"It's nearly dawn, you should probably just go on ahead and get up. I received a letter from Barret, he tries to keep us informed of what's going on in the world... and I'm afraid I have some bad news."
Jenny looked up at him suddenly, her eyes going wide. Her voice was a frightened whisper,
"Don't tell me... the Neo-Shinra research facility blew up, and Professor Kaap is dead..."
Cloud's face had gone white,
"How... how did you know that?"
"My dream... Oh Cloud, Professor Kaap was the closest thing I had to a father, and Sephiroth's after me! What am I going to do? Where can I go?"
Cloud's thoughts ran in little circles. He didn't believe that Sephiroth was after her, but he believed that she believed it, and so she needed to be comforted. But where *could* he take her? It was a good question. What she needed right now was someone to lean on- a family of sorts, and a place to stay until she could forget these nightmares. She was only an innocent, barely more than a young woman, younger than they had been when they squared off with Sephiroth, though not by much. Wait a minute! A family... a father...
Suddenly Cloud had a wonderful idea,
"Jenny... I think I know a place where you can stay. I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner!"
I just hope nothing's changed since the last time I was there...
* * *
Cloud stood on the doorstep at the Shinra mansion. There were plenty of memories here, most momentous, and bad. There were a few recent ones, though, that were actually rather pleasant, as he spent time catching up with his old friend.
"Stay out here until I call for you," he said to Jenny, "I have to make sure things are okay first."
She nodded, a bit apprehensive. Where was Cloud taking her?
Cloud rapped on the door loudly, and waited. A moment later, the door swung open and a young, blonde-haired woman stuck her head out the door,
"If you're selling anything, we don't-" her words cut off as she saw who was standing on her doorstep, "Oh hello Cloud."
"Hello Elena. Is Vincent around today? I have something I need to discuss with him."
"He's out today, at least for a while. He'll be back a little while later, but Luc's here. Would you like to talk to him while you wait for Vincent? I'll serve you both some tea..."
Cloud grinned. Even though he knew that the former Turk was on their side now, the thought of her serving tea to Luc and him was still incongruous, even after all the time he'd spent here.
"That would be lovely Elena, but you'd better put one more cup on. I have a guest," he gestured to a cloaked Jenny. Elena's eyebrows went up into her hair at the sight of the cloaked woman.
"Who is she?"
"Allow me to introduce my new friend. This is Jenny. Jenny, this is Elena Valentine," there was a hint of a smile on his face as he said the last name. Never thought he'd be hearing those two words put together quite like that... but times were changing.
Jenny pulled back her cowl and extended her hand,
"Hello. Very pleased to meet you, ma'am."
If the thought of Elena fixing tea had jarred on Cloud's mind, the picture of Sephiroth saying 'ma'am' to Elena was almost too much for her brain. She raised an eyebrow at Cloud, but all she said was,
"Come on in..."
They came in, just as a curious Luc padded out onto the second floor landing like a cat. He leaned on the bannister casually, exuding quiet, barely leashed sensuality and drawled out,
"Who is it, Mother?"
Elena turned around,
"Cloud and a friend, Luc. Why don't you come down here and meet her?"
Luc very slowly shifted his weight off of the bannister and stalked down the stairs. Jenny was dumbfounded. Who the hell was he, and where did he learn to move like that? She had been told that she was graceful, but her grace was nothing like this. He moved like he *knew* the whole world was staring at him, and he was reveling in it. He made it to the bottom of the stairs, but stayed in the shadow, his form half hidden. She knew what they must look like to him, standing in the light of the door. They would only be silhouettes, nothing more. Once again, he spoke, the voice of a trained killer, one who truly enjoyed the hunt more than the kill, falling from his lips,
"So, Cloud... Who is your guest?"
Cloud tried not to grin. He knew that this part of Luc was all show. He knew who Luc really was, and how he really acted, but he would keep his best friend's secret. Besides, he wanted to see what Jenny thought of him before she found out the truth.
"This is Jenny... She might be staying with you awhile. Like a sister"
She was going to be the sister of... that? My God... She could see the shadows of his hair over one shoulder and some little part of her itched to run her fingers through it. Snap out of it! You're a guest here, those thoughts are totally inappropriate! Besides, your heart belongs to-
"How much does she... know... about this house?"
This time Cloud couldn't help but grin,
She could hear the smirk in Luc's voice,
"Ahhh... I see... So she wouldn't really get it if I were to do something like this..." Luc's hand darted out of the shadow and grabbed Cloud's wrist, pulling him into the hall. Both became shapeless forms in the dark, but Jenny didn't have to be a rocket scientist to see what was happening. Luc had trapped Cloud in a passionate, deep kiss. Jenny's eyes about bugged out of her head. Was Luc the man that Tifa and Cloud had been talking about? Was her new "brother" gay? Jenny cast shocked eye over to Elena, who looked like she was trying very hard not to laugh. His mother thought this was funny? Jenny opened and closed her mouth like a codfish, unable to make any noise come out. The two finished and she could hear Cloud's soft laughter,
"Well... hello to you too, Luc. Hey, now! You wouldn't be giving me that smug look if you had done that in front of Tifa."
"No," there was dark amusement in Luc's voice,"She would have made sure I never did it again... probably by supergluing my lips to this bannister."
Both men laughed for a moment before Cloud became serious. He suddenly had a feeling that bringing Jenny here was a terrible mistake, not for Jenny's sake, but for Luc's.
"Luc... You need to meet Jenny. And I don't think you're going to like it..."
Jenny's brow furrowed in even more confusion. Why would Luc not like her?
"Very well. To the sitting room then..."
The walked to the sitting room in the semidarkness and Luc went to get the light switch.
"Wait..." Cloud's voice was tender, and Jenny felt herself wondering just how close Cloud and Luc were... "Luc... I think I need to do that, and you need to sit down."
"Nonsense, Cloud!" Luc flipped on the light and turned to face Jenny, "How bad can it b-" All the color drained from Luc's face, and he wobbled on his feet. Jenny could only look on in puzzlement as Luc backed up a few shaky steps, apparently without realizing he had done so, his eyes glazed over slightly, and fixed on her face. He made a choking noise in the back of his throat, and Cloud grabbed his arm, lending support. Without it, Luc would have surely fallen. When Luc did speak, it was with none of his earlier confidence,
"Oh God Cloud... why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell me she looked like..."
And suddenly, Jenny understood. Luc and Sephiroth must have been lovers at some point in time. No, not just lovers- in love. As she realized this, she felt any disgust she might have had for Luc's preference fade away. Love was love, no matter what form it was in. She didn't realize she was speaking until the sound was coming out of her mouth,
"You... cared for him very much, didn't you?"
Luc looked at her, focusing on her with some difficulty, her quiet words penetrating the haze of misery around him.
"Yes. Yes I did. With all my heart," he looked up at her, the spell broken, a hint of the predator back again, "Why? Does that bother you?"
"Not at all. Love is love."
Luc's lips curled upwards in a smile,
"I like her. I wonder if Vincent will let us keep her?"
"Maybe you should ask him..." came another quiet voice from the door. Cloud ran over to intercept Vincent, who had just walked in.
"Vincent, we need to talk in private for a moment...
Cloud led him into the next room,
"Uh... Vincent, I've got a question for you."
"The girl can stay, whoever she is."
"That's... It's... not that simple."
Vincent merely arched an eyebrow, so Cloud continued,
"Vincent, did you... uh... consider Sephiroth your son?"
Vincent's eyebrows leapt even further up,
"Well, yes, in a way. He was Lucretia's son, after all."
"You once said that you wished that you could raise him to the light, is that still true? If you had a chance to do it all over again, would you raise him?"
"Well, yes of course! But you can't change the past Cloud."
"No, you can't, but you *can* change the future. Vincent, that girl in there is Sephiroth's sister. She looks just like him, only younger and female. Her name is Jenny, and she really needs a home, and a family... please..."
Vincent looked down, consumed by so many feelings. He had sworn that he would take care of Lucretia's child, and this was technically her child. But he had been younger then. How would Jenny take to having a monster as a father, and a... interesting "brother"? But finally, when it all came down to it, there was only one thing to say,
"If she'll have me, I can hardly refuse."
Cloud punched the air in victory, and led Vincent back into the room.
"Jenny... Welcome to your new home- if you want it. This is Vincent, Luc's father... it's a long story."
Jenny stared at the new man that Cloud presented her with. He looked a great deal like Luc, only less catlike and a little less androgynous, though not much. The two could really be brothers, she thought, they look so much alike. And he looked so familiar...
And then she had it. She'd seen pictures of this man in the file that she had read,
"Vincent Valentine. Lucretia's sweetheart, right? I get it now. So then... in a weird sort of way, you're my father too, right?"
Vincent couldn't meet her ernest gaze for a moment,
"Not really... I killed your real father, and did nothing to prevent your mother's death. I don't really deserve to be connected like that to you. I don't really even deserve to be alive."
"Shut up Vincent," Elena butted in, "Can't you see the girl doesn't care about any of that? She just wants a home, and if you say no, that's fine, but I won't let your self pity destroy this," her tone softened abruptly, "I love you too much to see that happen again."
Vincent locked eyes with his young wife, and something in him deflated. He let his arms fall to his sides in a half shrug and a small almost-smile touched his lips,
"Well then Jenny, it sounds like if you'll have me for a father, I can hardly refuse!" Vincent blinked in surprise and choked back a chuckle when she all but flung herself into his arms,
He unexpectedly found himself biting back tears,
"Welcome home, Jenny," but then a thought, "But before you come all the way under this roof, I think there's something you ought to know. Luc... Well, you've met Luc, right?"
"Does she know?" Vincent asked over the top of Jenny's head. Jenny turned to see a small smirk back on Luc's face,
"What *does* she know?" Vincent's tone held a parental warning, and Luc laughed,
"She saw me kiss Cloud, and she knows about Sephiroth, and that's it. She took it rather well I think."
Vincent rolled his eyes,
"Luc, of all the times to play that game..."
"Come on! I didn't know she'd be a part of the family, okay?"
"Wait!" Jenny interrupted, "You mean there's more than one secret here? Your secret isn't that you're... umm..."
"Gay? No. It's something even weirder. Uh... do you startle easily, Jenny?"
For some reason, this sent Luc into a fit of laughter. He finally came up for air just long enough to say,
"Touche..." he managed to catch his breath, "Okay... the weird secret isn't the fact that I'm gay. It's the fact that I'm not."
"I'm a woman."
Jenny blinked again, and again, and then several times after that in quick succession. Luc was a... woman? Holy shit! That had not been what she was expecting at all! She still couldn't see it, the illusion was perfect. A woman! Of all the crazy things... But slowly, her world view twisted to fit. She nodded, then grinned,
"Well, I'd say I'm pretty lucky then. Most people who have one sibling get a brother or a sister- I get both!"
Luc's eyes widened for a moment, and then (s)he burst into rather undignified giggles, the panther act dropping off now that Jenny was accepted. Luc grabbed her in a quick hug, and Vincent walked over and placed a hand on her shoulder,
"Welcome home Jenny. Welcome home..."
* * *
For several months there was relative peace. There were scattered reports of the sighting of Sephiroth again, mostly dismissed by the media as a hoax, but there was no violence, no fighting. And no one seemed to believe that something that evil could come back. Jenny was beginning to think that she might be safe after all... She knew why Sephiroth was after her. The new theory was that if you killed someone with the blood of the Ancients at the place where Sephiroth had been found the first time, you would gain the powers of the Jenova. The scientists wanted to use that power to find the Promised Land, Sephiroth wanted it to rule the world. Both she and Sephiroth had the blood of the Ancients, whether it was artificial or not, and she knew that was why he was coming for her. That was why she had been created- to die on the altar for the relief of mankind... or for the destruction of it. But she was safe here... right?
* * *
Jenny stood at the edge of a cliff, wind blowing in her hair. Far off in the distance, she could see lights, presumably the Gold Saucer from the look of things. For a moment, the light flared up, then disappeared altogether. Her brow furrowed in puzzlement. What had happened?
And then the explosion reached her ears, the sound of hundreds of people dying in pain echoed off her skull a moment later, courtesy of her connection to the planet. She wobbled and fell to her knees. All those people... All those lives... Gone.
A pair of green eyes flashed in the darkness,
"Come and get your father, Jenny. And bring Masamune."
* * *
Jenny sat up in bed once again, she knew that this time it wasn't a dream,
"Sephiroth! How could you! All of those people!"
...get your father, Jenny...
"Oh my god! Vincent!"
She leapt out of bed, racing down the hall. She'd only been living here a few months, and already her feet knew the way to Vincent and Elena's bedroom. She burst in,
Elena rolled over and flipped on a light sleepily,
"Jenny! What on Earth?"
"Vincent... oh God... It's all my fault..."
"What are you talking ab-" and then Elena saw the rest of the room. Vincent was gone, his side of the bed cold.
"Sephiroth's got him..." Jenny whispered, feeling her blood turn to ice.
* * *
Two days later they rode into the Gold Saucer. Cloud and Tifa came along with Elena, Luc and Jenny, to lend a helping hand, and to maybe get one more shot at the bastard that had caused them so much pain. Even though Sephiroth had been human again at the end, no one but Luc could completely forgive him of all of his sins.
Jenny was exhausted from grief and guilt and fear. She could barely stay on her chocobo, much less fight anything. Still, she *had* to put an end to this, one way or the other. Her eyes drifted shut for a moment... so tired... But then, she looked up, and saw Vincent, and a surge of anger based adrenaline filled her.
Vincent was on his knees on top of the rubble of the Gold Saucer, a few shreds of a travel cloak still around him, his hair loose and tangled. Gashes in his shirt and pants attested to not exactly gentle treatment by Sephiroth, who stood beside him. Vincent's head was down, his hair blowing wildly in the wind. He was passive, obviously hurt, and he didn't even seem to notice when they arrived. Sephiroth did, however, and lowered his "fake" Masamune to his neck,
"One more step, and he dies!"
"Cloud. Tie everyone but Jenny up."
"No fuckin' way you-," Sephiroth's eyes narrowed slightly," AUUUUUUGH!!" Cloud fell to his knees, clutching his head, "No... not... again...."
Jenny raced to his side,
"Stop! Stop it!" she suddenly lifted her head and glared at Sephiroth,
//GET OUT OF HIS HEAD!!!!!!!//
Sephiroth reeled backwards, bringing a hand to his temple,
//Impressive mental scream, Sister// his twisted mirth showed, even through the mental connection.
//Guess it runs in the family, Brother// there was no humor in her tone at all. She was so tired... so very tired... Sephiroth laughed out loud,
"So, are you going to come get Daddy Dearest? Or is he going to die right here, impaled on my imitation sword?"
Jenny opened her mouth to answer...
"What the fuck do you think you're doing, Sephiroth?" Reno said, his voice dangerously soft. Jenny's eyes just about fell out of their sockets.
"Reno... what are *you* doing here?"
He came to stand at her side, almost touching her, but not quite. He gently ran a finger down her face and across her chin,
"I came to help you," he said quietly. Jenny felt an odd shock travel up her spine. He'd come here just to help her? For her, he'd risk his life and his beloved job? She was speechless,
"Reno I... I..."
"Save it," he breathed, "if it's a rejection, I want to die without hearing it, and if it isn't, then there'll always be time later," he swept her behind him, and leveled a very nasty gun at Sephiroth, "Gimme one good reason why I shouldn't blow your goddammed head off right now, you bastard son of a whore!"
Jenny raised an eyebrow, Luc growled slightly, and even Vincent managed to raise his head a fraction to glare icicles at Reno. If Jenny didn't know better, she would have said that Reno blushed,
"Uh... sorry guys, I forgot..."
Jenny would have laughed if the situation hadn't been so serious. Sephiroth allowed himself a small smile,
"Because I'd take Vincent and Jenny with me, that's why," he lost the smile, "Now, I am through playing games. Give me the sword and my sister!"
"No! You won't touch her! You'll never hurt her as long as I live!"
"That will be easily remedied as soon as I get rid of Vincent here... Come on Reno, it's only fair- one life for another," he yanked on Vincent's hair, placing the blade against his throat, "So what will it be, Jenny? Come with me, or he dies... and Reno is next."
Jenny bowed her head. So many lives... too many lives. She was tired... so tired. Tired of all of this. She'd spent her whole, brief life running, and she was sick of it. She set her face. She had to protect the ones she loved, even if it meant her own life,
"Okay Sephiroth, you win. Just let all of them leave here alive."
Reno grabbed her arm,
"Are you crazy? He'll just kill us all later!"
"But he'll kill Vincent now. Reno... I... I have to do this. Do you understand?"
Reno looked into her eyes and saw something in them. Destiny. The wheels had been set in motion.
"Yes... yes I think I do. I won't stop you... but Jenny..." he searched for the words, but they weren't there. He'd never been much with words, "Will I ever see you again?" he finally managed.
She placed a hand on his cheek. She loved him. She loved him more than anything else in the world... but they had no time.
"Yes. Yes, I hope so."
And she turned and walked towards Sephiroth.
When she was about 12 feet away, she threw him Masamune. She climbed the rest of the way to the top of the rubbish and knelt by Vincent,
"Father? Are you all right?"
"Yes, Jenny," he was barely audible, "I will be. But you should run while there's still time."
"I can't. You know I can't."
He looked up at her, and a strange pride flashed through his eyes,
She pulled him into a tight hug, then let go,
"The others will get you. Take care of Reno for me, okay? I know you two used to be friends. Make sure his big mouth doesn't get him in trouble, understand?"
"Yes, I understand."
Jenny rose to her feet, the world spinning around her. She had to be strong. She couldn't show weakness, not now. Sephiroth stood a few feet away, and he held open his arms in a cruel mockery of sibling affection. She turned away from him, shivering for a moment, then turned with new determination and strode towards him. Suddenly, the world spun again, and she felt her legs turn to rubber. She was going to fall over. She braced herself for the impact, but it never came.
Sephiroth caught her around the waist, keeping her on her feet mainly by taking most of her weight off of them. Her head fell against his shoulder, she was too weak to hold it up,
"Giving up that easily, sister? Are you really that weak?"
"You've put me through hell, brother. I would think you'd be impressed I made it this far."
"I'm actually kind of sorry I have to sacrifice you to mother in order to gain the power I need. We could have ruled as a family, I suppose... Come, there are things that must be done..." he tried to lead her off.
"Sephiroth... I don't think I can walk..."
No sooner had the sentence left her mouth than Sephiroth placed his arm behind her knee and lifted her up life she was a child. A note of actual almost tenderness colored his voice,
"Shhh... Sister. Rest. I know you're tired. You're safe from everything but me, and I won't harm you until it's time. You're safe..."
She felt her eyes drift closed. Strange... she *felt* safe. This man was going to kill her. He was dangerously psychotic and he was trying to take over the world, but he was her brother. He was family. And she found that, much to her surprise, she trusted him, or at least his word. He wouldn't harm her until it was time, and until then, he would protect her with his life. After all, he needed her... and he *was* family.
* * *
Reno scowled as the white haired pair vanished. He didn't find himself in a helpless position very often, and he found, not surprisingly, that he didn't like it. He had to find her, save her, bring her back to his side... what the hell was he saying? Why did he need to save her so badly? She was just some girl, right? He was trying to save the world from Sephiroth, nothing else. Dammit, if anything this was a part of his vengeance for an old lover, not a new one. Rude had been in that building when it blew...
God... she had been so beautiful standing up there, her hair blowing in the wind. She'd looked like an angel. They'd both looked like angels- their eyes closed, pensive and sad. But Sephiroth was going to kill her, just like he'd killed Aeris. Reno had always kind of admired Aeris, and he'd always found her death utterly senseless.
A sharp laugh left his lips. Funny, he really had more in common with that monster that was going to kill Jenny than he had ever had with Aeris. That knowledge, the knowledge of all the things he had done, used to make him proud... now it just made him want to puke. How the hell did he ever come about choosing this path? How the hell could he ever have thought that Sephiroth was magnificent.
Well, that was an easy one, Sephiroth *was* magnificent, and so was Jenny. Jenny... Where could Sephiroth be taking her?
"Reno...?" Reno raised his head and turned to look at Elena. From there, his gaze swept over Vincent, and then Luc. All of them were alive? Why did Elena sound so hesitant? And then Reno realized that they had no idea what had happened between Jenny and him. They had no idea that he had finally snapped and just left the Turks. With Rude dead, there was no reason for him to stay, after all. But they didn't know that. To them, he was still the enemy. He raised his hands,
"I'm not here to fight, Elena. I may be a slob, but I'm not an idiot. I just want to help Jenny, and kill that bastard once and for all!!"
Luc turned away, and after a moment, his soft voice floated back,
"Do we have to kill him again...? I really don't think I can stand seeing him die a second time."
Vincent put his arm around Luc,
"There's no other way, Luc. You know that..."
Reno closed his eyes, deep in thought. He'd forgotten about Luc and Sephiroth. Either that, or he had pretended he hadn't known in the first place. In ShinRa, it paid to pretend you didn't know lots of things. Like who was sleeping with whom, or important military secrets, or the things Rufus put them through to get into the Turks, or... or...
Reno's head shot up,
"Wait!! I think I know where they went! Maybe we can make it there before they do! Maybe we won't have to kill him after all, Luc! And maybe... maybe we can save Jenny..."
Disclaimers at the bottom of the first part.
E-mail all feedback to Lucretia@jenovaproject.com