GENERAL

CH 1

Round and round…being in the Lifestream was like being in a blender to Sephiroth…in a blender on pulse that let the particles settle and before ripping into them again. He didn't feel any physical pain anymore, but the constant pulling back together the parts of himself was exhausting. He wasn't joining with the Lifestream and had no idea who kept hitting the puree button. He never had a chance in his last life. Trying to scream was futile. Trying to speak to Gaia was futile. He didn't know what was supposed to happen next because when he had died before it wasn't like this.

Sephiroth had no concept of time nor any way to see what was happening to those he left behind so he had no way of knowing that everyone who had survived the stigma was having their happily ever after. The most frustrating part was that he didn't know how long he had endured this endless cycle of being ripped apart only to gather his drifting pieces back together.

He was conscious of everything that pertained to his last life. He relived the memories from his earliest to his final death at the hands of that grumpy blonde with the stupid sword that turned his body into a sieve. He remembered the torture he suffered at the hands of Hojo as well as the bliss of sending his sorry ass to the Lifestream with the sword that he had given him. He remembered his few friends and fewer lovers as well as the many enemies he had. Things were revealed to him once he entered the Lifestream like his true parentage and even a child that he had fathered in his youth that was murdered by its mother. He learned more about himself than he would have been able to process with his physical mind because of the experiments and cruelty he had endured.

He was angry for what could have been a long time but his anger dulled to bitterness the more energy he exerted pulling himself together. He heard no voices of comfort or otherwise and he even tried just letting go and allowing his particles to scatter …he never joined the Lifestream though and it took far more effort to pull all of them back together.

Even in death he couldn't relax. He remembered being a small child and afraid of Hojo and how relieved he was when someone else came for him to do tests or lessons or for meals. The nurses were nice to him when he was small. One of them got fired for giving him a cookie and the others just decided they had to be craftier so they wouldn't get caught. He killed one of the others by accident in a fit of rage when he was 12. That was the first death that he would never forgive himself for. There had been monsters before that but never a human; there were many more after her though.

After a time he seemed to be running out of anger and bitterness; he couldn't remember why he had been angry to begin with. Then without warning he felt a sensation of compression and became aware that he was moving away from the Lifestream altogether. Stillness came over his consciousness and then in a flash, that Sephiroth was no more.

"It's a boy." The doctor said flatly, handing the tiny baby off to a nurse who held him down for his mother to see.

Turning her head away she sobbed, "Just take him now please. He's not mine anyway."

Cleaned and swaddled and wailing the baby boy was presented to his new parents: Howard and Lucrecia Handefain. The birth mother was their daughter Raine who had left home as a young teen and showed up on their doorstep strung out on drugs and pregnant at 17. How the child had survived in such a polluted body, they had no idea but they took her back in and made sure every legal paper was signed so that the baby she gave birth to would be theirs alone. Raine was scheduled for release from the hospital the next day and would have nowhere to go. Part of the deal she made with them was that she would disappear from the child's life and never return.

"It's time to do the birth certificate Mr. and Mrs. Handefain. Have you chosen a name?" The head nurse asked happily. She was glad to see the baby go to a decent couple who could provide for him.

"His name is Vincent Sephiroth Handefain." Lucrecia said proudly as Howard nodded his assent.

The paperwork all done, the new parents were informed that Raine had tested negative for any drugs therefore they shouldn't worry about their little one being addicted. His unusual hair color was attributed to a gene most likely carried by the father, whoever he was. The couple left without saying goodbye to their daughter and their new son was taken to the nursery to be monitored overnight.

After eating the hospital dinner that night, Raine Handefain walked to the nursery to see her baby. He was sleeping quietly so she slipped in to be near him for a moment. Reading his name card she smiled. "Sephiroth" She whispered "Crown, wisdom, understanding, mercy, strength, beauty, victory, glory, foundation, and kingdom- you are blessed." With that she bent and kissed his silver hair.

The Handefains received a call early the following morning from the hospital. They feared the worst as the waited for the doctor to come on the line. "Mr. and Mrs. Handefain, we need to see you at the hospital right away please." The doctor said dully.

"Is it Sephiroth? Is he ok?!" Lucrecia nearly panicked.

"No ma'am. Sephiroth is fine and is cleared to leave with you today. It's about your daughter Raine."

"We'll be there directly, doctor. Thank you for calling." Howard said as he looked at his wife.

They dressed and had coffee before leaving for the hospital. Raine had always been a troubled child and the two professors were very strict disciplinarians. They weren't surprised when she left home at 14 to live with one of her friends who had parents who were very…lax. They didn't seek her out and she didn't ever try to contact them. She hadn't used her bank account so they assumed she had a job. Years passed with no word from her. They enjoyed freedom from the stress of having a wayward teen until the day she came back dirty, hungry, addicted, and pregnant. The discussion was very short on what to do with her. They agreed on most things and Raine was in no position to fight them.

"I'm sorry to inform you that your daughter passed away last night from self-inflicted wounds to her wrists." The doctor told them as they sat in his office.

Howard looked crestfallen, but Lucrecia looked relieved. They sat in silence and then asked a few questions about what would happen next. When they left the hospital they had Sephiroth with them. Later that afternoon all arrangements had been made for Raine's body to be cremated. There would be no service, there would be no memorial; they didn't even go back to claim her ashes.

Sephiroth grew into an independent and mischievous toddler. He excelled in school but his parents never attended school ceremonies or banquets when he was being honored. But by the time he was 10 his teachers were becoming concerned. Sephiroth came to school with bruises and made the same excuses over and over. One his teachers called child services and the investigation turned up years of abuse.

There were poorly healed breaks that had to have happened over summers for the teachers not to have noticed, broken molars from being hit in the face, his right eye had been damaged badly at some point and he only had 25% of his vision. He had also become adept at reading lips as he was hard of hearing from having his eardrums damaged repeatedly.

The teachers were briefed on his situation and they all were speechless. Sephiroth never complained. He never spoke ill of his parents and he never fought at school. One teacher cried openly and offered to take Sephiroth into her home until he could be placed properly. She was denied of course as the state had taken custody of him already.

When child protective services came to take Sephiroth away they found him home alone. The house he lived in was in an affluent community but apparently his parents were away most of the time and the power had been shut off. Sephiroth opened the door, bag in hand.

"Where are your parents Sephiroth? We need to speak with them if they're here." The male officer said as the lady reached for his hand.

"They left again after my doctor's visit last week. They said goodbye." Sephiroth spoke as if it was of no consequence and he was resigned to his fate.

The officers took him to the state children's home where they left him in the care of a nurse. He was assigned to a room with another boy and was instructed not to fight. He was given a list of rules and a schedule then left to do his unpacking. The room had two twin beds, two dressers, and two desks. Everything matched but he could tell which bed was his because it wasn't yet made. The linens and pillows were folded neatly in the center and there was another piece of paper on top of them. It read: make your bed daily before school please.

He stared at the note for a moment then dropped his things and went to work. After making his bed and putting away his clothes, he sat at his desk and completed an essay that was due the following week at school.

The door to his new room opened and in walked a boy much smaller than him with blonde spikey hair. Sephiroth disliked him immediately and he had no idea why. The boy looked at him strangely and said, "What's up chicken butt?"

Sephiroth dropped his head and reviewed the rule sheet. #1 No Fighting.

"Hello, my name is Sephiroth. What's your name?" He asked as politely as he could after having been called a chicken butt.

"I'm Cloud. Your folks hippies too huh?" The blonde said smacking on some chewing gum that Sephiroth silently hoped he would choke on. "So how old are you Seph?"

Sephiroth cringed at the nickname but answered anyway after once again looking down at #1. "I'm 10...my birthday is in March."

"Cool. I'm 10 too but my birthday's in August." Cloud whacked away at the gum. "Hey, you hungry?"

"Yes…when is dinner?" Sephiroth asked thinking of the cold cuts and water he had been eating for the past week at dinner time since his parents left.

"Soon." Cloud said and then flopped on his bed. "You know when we turn 12 we get different rooms. Cause of puberty. Do you know what that is?"

"Yes…" Sephiroth said as he winced at the smacking of the gum. He sat on his bed and stared at the window.

"Do you miss your folks?" Cloud said as he began to blow bubbles and pop them.

"No. They weren't around much anyway. I miss my house I guess." Sephiroth said beginning to feel a little more relaxed. After all, at least here he fit in. None of the kids had parents who wanted them.

"Do you miss yours?" Sephiroth asked Cloud.

"Nope. They died when I was really small."

You're really small now, Sephiroth thought as he decided the gum would have to be flushed down the toilet as soon as the kid was asleep.

Then Cloud added, "I was dopted once but they changed their mind. I don't remember much about 'em. I was just 5."

Dinner reminded Sephiroth of school. They went to a large cafeteria and sat at big tables. Cloud talked the entire time. "We have to sit with our roommates but after we eat we're allowed to go to the rec room til 8 but I don't usually stay that long. All the older kids stay as long as they can and some of them make out with their girlfriends or boyfriends. It's disgusting."

Sephiroth listened and was grateful when Cloud dropped his gum in the garbage on the way to the table. They sat near some girls who were staring at Sephiroth. Cloud looked at the girls and said, "This is Sephiroth my new roomie. Seph …these are my bitches."

The girls started laughing instead of being mad and they all came around and hugged Cloud and then turned to Sephiroth hugging him too, making him blush before they went back to their seats across the table. Cloud boasted, "My bitches are older and they look out for me. Tifa is 13, Yuffie is 12 and Aerith is 14."

Sephiroth nodded to them and smiled as he ate the food on his tray. They were pretty, he thought. They seemed to put him at ease and he was beginning to think this might not be such a bad move after all.

After dinner in the rec room there were games to play and a TV that was apparently controlled by the staff. He looked around at everyone and realized that he and Cloud were the youngest there. And Cloud was the smallest kid there. A group of teenagers approached them and smiled at Cloud and nodded to Sephiroth. Cloud spoke up for him, of course.

"Hey guys this is Sephiroth my new roomie. Seph this is Edge, Cecil, Kain, Rydia, and Rosa." Cloud said with a bit of pride in his voice.

The one Cloud called Edge looked down at Sephiroth and smiled, "So how do you like it so far?"

Sephiroth smiled up at the fellow silver haired boy and said "I like it."

"Good, beats the streets right? This is my last year here little man but Cecil here and Kain will look out for you ok?" Edge said as Cloud dropped his head a bit.

Sephiroth saw Cloud's change in demeanor and asked, "Where are you going?"

Edge smiled and put his hand on Sephiroth's shoulder. "I'm 17…aging out. When I turn 18 I'll be on my own."

Sephiroth looked back at Cloud and reached to put a hand on his roomie's shoulder. Cloud looked at Sephiroth and smiled a bit. "I'll still be here Cloud." Sephiroth said.

The two girls cooed at that and the other boys chuckled. "He's gonna be a good one." Kain said. "Another Edge!"

Edge laughed and patted Sephiroth's shoulder and nodded. They talked more about the home and Cloud promised to give Sephiroth the tour the next day after classes. "After that, Edge will talk to you again and give you a job." Cloud informed him before the left the rec room and headed to their dorm.

Sephiroth kept looking back at the green haired girl named Rydia. She was beautiful and he thought he might like to have a girlfriend like her one day. Inside the room they prepared for bed.

"What kind of job will I have?" He asked Cloud who looked at him discerningly for a moment and said "Depends on what you're good at. How fast can you run?"

Sephiroth looked confused. "I can run pretty fast. I'm a little tall for my age so maybe I'm a little faster than other 10 year olds."

"Maybe he'll let you go out with me then…since we're friends now. We are friends right?" Cloud asked.

"Of course…you're my only friend Cloud." Sephiroth said as he realized that his initial feelings for the other boy had changed. Cloud made him feel at ease. He felt everything would be ok as long as he was with Cloud. He imagined that Cloud must feel that way about Edge. He looked sad when Edge mentioned leaving and that made Sephiroth want to make him happy again.

"How much longer Cloud? Til Edge leaves I mean."

"Bout six months…he's been here the whole time I have. When I was little I got picked on but he made everyone leave me alone. Then Cecil and Kain said I should come work for Edge cause I was a cute kid and people would trust me. So I did and now, I'm the best pick-pocket around!"

Sephiroth knew what a pick-pocket was and he knew it was stealing. He thought carefully and then asked. "Do you get anything or do you give it all to Edge?"

"I give him what I don't wanna keep. He doesn't make me give him anything but sometimes I do anyway. So when he gets out he can have money to eat. He says he will get a job and be ok but it sucks being hungry." Cloud said as he crawled into bed. "So you wanna learn?"

"Sure!" Sephiroth said. "I won't be as good as you though."

"Why you say?" Cloud raised his head to look at Sephiroth's face.

"Well because I'm not a cute little kid like you." Sephiroth said yawning. Cloud smiled and they heard a short bell then the lights went out.

"Night Seph."

"Night Cloud."

That night Sephiroth dreamed of far-away places with strange creatures. When he woke it was almost time to eat again He was definitely going to like this. After breakfast they were bussed to their schools. Since he had moved he had to go to a new school…Cloud's school. He realized that school was a lot different from the home. Cloud got picked on a lot and Sephiroth decided that it was his duty as a friend to put a stop to it. On his first day at his new school he got into three fistfights making him an instant celebrity and got his first kiss…on the cheek.

After school they didn't board the bus and he asked Cloud why. "Time to go to work." Cloud said smiling.

The two quickly learned that they worked well as a team. Cloud could distract people while Sephiroth's long skinny arms could reach and hold far more than Cloud's could. They were excited when they got back to the home. They couldn't wait to tell Edge how well they had done on Sephiroth's first day. Inside Cloud gave Sephiroth the tour and he made mental notes of the different areas that were important like the girls' dorms. They ran in to Cecil in the hallway and he invited them to his room. They strolled in and sat down on the bed. "So how did you guys do today?"

"We did great. Seph is really good already. He had some good ideas." Cloud spouted.

Cecil smiled and patted their shoulders. "You know I've had a couple people ask me if we are related Seph…or if you're related to Edge. I guess it's the hair."

Sephiroth smiled. "I'm glad I'm not the only one here. At my old school, not a single other person had silver hair."

"So how was the new school today?" Cecil asked.

Cloud couldn't contain himself. "Seph got into three fights today!"

"Why?" Cecil looked concerned.

"Kids were pickin on Cloud and I didn't like it. They were all bigger and older than him. It was unfair." Sephiroth said bluntly feeling a tiny bit good about himself.

Cecil smiled and opened his mouth to speak when Kain walked in. His hair was long and blonde and Sephiroth thought he looked cool. His own hair was straight like Kain's and he decided right then that he was never cutting his hair again. Cecil filled Kain in on what Cloud had told him about Sephiroth and Kain also looked pleased.

"Blessed are the peace makers little man." He said as he patted his back, "Even if we have to make a little war to get that peace, right?"

Sephiroth smiled and nodded. He belonged. He did a good thing today. He had friends. These two days had been better than all his previous years combined. He was an orphan, but he was happy.