CH 11

Sephiroth spent more and more time at the home and with Reno. They had developed a relationship but not a love affair, not on Sephiroth's part anyway. He was afraid go get too attached to anyone after Cloud. Reno understood but that didn't make it any easier on his heart so after two years he cut Sephiroth loose. One morning after they had spent the weekend in bed Sephiroth noticed that Reno was unusually quiet. "What's wrong?" he asked as he snuggled Reno.

"I don't think I can do this anymore yo." Reno said sadly. "I know why you feel the way you feel and I understand, I really do…but I need more…and I know you'll never be able to give it to me."

Sephiroth nodded and kissed his hair. "I understand…I wish that I could be what you needed Reno. My heart just…"

"No need to explain yo. I know your heart belongs to Cloud. I could never be selfish enough to ask you to give that up." Reno sighed and then got up to shower. Sephiroth lay contemplating what his life would be like without Reno. He thought about how much more of this life he had to endure before he could rejoin Cloud. He thought about the kids at the home then he got up and made coffee for his friend.

Sephiroth made great progress with Kadaj and soon he was helping the other children at the home. He was very protective of his family there and it made Sephiroth proud. He spent so much time at the home he neglected many other everyday things and didn't notice at first when his health began to decline. He was always tired and took short naps during the day.

Ten years had passed since Cloud died. Reno was happily in love with a man named Tseng. They had dinner out with Sephiroth often and the two began to notice that he seemed more fatigued each time they saw him. Concerned with his health, they begged him to go for a check-up with his doctor. Sephiroth relented and was surprised when his doctor ordered further tests.

"Hey guys, how's it going?" Sephiroth said cheerily as Reno and Tseng joined him.

"We're good. What the doc say yo?" Reno said getting straight to the point. Tseng chuckled knowing that Reno wouldn't cut anyone any slack.

"The doc sent me for more tests…said I was anemic and blah blah whatever." Sephiroth said. "I'm hungry, let's eat."

"When do you get test results?" Tseng asked as they pondered menus.

"Two weeks…can't wait." Sephiroth grumbled making the other two laugh.

Two weeks later he was back at the doctor's office for test results he was shocked to find that he had a form of cancer that was almost unheard of in a person his age. He was trying to get his mind around it when the doctor told him that he should get his affairs in order.

"What? Are you saying that I'm going to die?" Sephiroth said feeling his chest tighten.

"Yes...I'm afraid that there is little we can do to fight this and the treatment that we have will increase your time minimally but unfortunately will also cause you more pain and you'll need round the clock care. Do you have anyone who could stay with you?" The doctor asked as kindly as he could, knowing of Sephiroth's history at the home.

"Not really…no one that I would want to impose upon…how I have?" Sephiroth asked still trying to process.

"Less than six months I'm afraid…from your levels I would say closer to four. We can give you a transfusion today and it will perk you up some but don't overdo it and please do your best to avoid injury. I'm very sorry." The doctor said honestly. He knew that Sephiroth had worked tirelessly at the home and genuinely cared for the children there.

Sephiroth left the office with mixed feelings and called Reno.

"Hey Seph, how's it going?" Reno asked knowing that he was supposed to see the doctor and anxious for news.

" Are you busy?" Sephiroth tried his best to keep his emotions in check when he heard Reno's voice.

"No. Not at all... Want me to come by the home?"

"No...I'll be at my place. Is that OK?"

"Sure. See you in a bit." Reno said not able to disguise the worry in his tone.

"Thanks Reno…bring Tseng with you if you can."

Reno and Tseng arrived and were floored at the news. "You two are the closest friends I have so I was hoping that you could take care of anything that needs to be done after... I think I can do most of it beforehand but there may be..." Sephiroth shook his head. "There may be other things. I don't have much, but what I have is yours...I'll be seeing a lawyer later this week and make sure there's very little left to do after." Reno stared and said nothing.

"Thank you guys… for everything." Sephiroth said as the tears wouldn't wait any longer.

"Don't do that yo. Don't say goodbye to me right now. Just don't..." They held Sephiroth as they all cried.

After a month Sephiroth had begun spending less time at the home and sleeping more. He was tired all the time and his bones felt achy. Reno and Tseng came over to watch movies with him and often ended up tucking him into bed before they left.

After the second month he asked for an increase on his pain meds and resigned his position at the home. He was given a going away party and everyone was emotional. He went home depressed and miserable. Noticing that he was losing weight pretty rapidly, he kept a closer eye on his diet and ate foods that would give him more energy. Nothing really helped. He was dying.

Another month passed and he stayed in bed most of the time. The most he did was sit on the sofa and watch old movies in a haze of painkillers. Reno and Tseng came over often and did things around the apartment and hung out keeping him company when he was awake.

"I should go to the hospice house." Sephiroth said to Tseng one afternoon.

"But you love it here. Do you really want to leave?" Tseng said, not wanting him to go but not willing to deny Sephiroth any wish.

"I'm happy here…I just feel like you two have put your lives on hold to take care of me. You should be spending time with one another and not here playing nursemaid to me."

"But Seph there is no place we would rather be than spending this time with you." Tseng said as he smiled and grasped his friend's hand.

Sephiroth smiled and shook his head. "In my life, I have known the most caring and unique individuals…and I feel blessed to have been a part of your lives."

Soon he couldn't get out of bed for more than a walk to the bathroom and that was dangerous. He slid along the wall and held onto Tseng. When he was done Reno would be waiting to help him back to bed. He was a walking skeleton having lost all his muscle mass over the course of the disease. Reno prepared his food and kept him hydrated. They both tried to keep his spirits up and keep the mood light.

Two weeks after his last med increase Reno called hospice and requested morphine drops because Sephiroth was moaning in his sleep from pain. Reno finally talked him into a catheter so the bathroom trips were less frequent as were linen changes. Soon was sleeping most of the day as well as night.

One Morning when Tseng woke him for breakfast he seemed unusually lucid and talkative. They chatted about the weather and the upcoming holidays. His bony arms and legs were covered in dark bruises and his long fingers were claws. His gums and nose bled frequently but he seemed to accept that it was all part of the process he had to endure to reach his end.

"I'm ready. I dreamed about Cloud last night. He said he would be right here when it happens. He promised me. He told me not to be afraid." Sephiroth explained to Reno.

"Of course he'll be here. Love like you guys have is forever Seph." Reno said as his heart was crushed but also lightened at the idea of his friend being unafraid. After his breakfast of oatmeal- extra soupy he dozed back off to sleep. Reno sat for a moment watching his chest rise and fall then he slipped quietly from the room.

"Tseng, I'm not ready to let him go." Reno wept. Tseng held him while he cried and explained to him that Sephiroth was in no condition to be clinging to life.

"He will be free of that body soon Reno…and he will be with Cloud again. That's all he wants. As much as we'll miss him, we should try to want that for him as well." Tseng whispered.

That same night Sephiroth had a massive stroke and could no longer speak. The hospice nurse came out and checked all his vitals and told Reno and Tseng he would probably go in the next 48 hours. The next day he didn't move and could only moan as they tried to make him comfortable. They gave him his liquid meal through a straw of which he only took a few sips. That evening Reno braided his hair and gave him his morphine before sitting down in the chair that stayed by his bed to doze.

Sephiroth woke to a familiar voice. "Come on Seph It's time to go baby." Cloud said.

"It is? I'm done?" Sephiroth said hearing Cloud but not seeing him.

"Yes. It's time for us to be together again." Cloud's voice said.

At that moment Sephiroth began to feel lighter and he was able to focus his eyes on Cloud. He was just as beautiful as ever and he smiling that silly smile. Sephiroth jumped off the bed and wrapped himself around his angel. "I've missed you so much. I should have said the words."

"The words wouldn't have changed anything. I knew how you felt." Cloud said hugging him back and kissing his lips. "Piggy?"

"Absolutely!" Sephiroth laughed.

As Cloud hopped on board and lay his head on Sephiroth's shoulder he said, "I really do…you know?"

Sephiroth turned and smiled, "I do too."

Reno woke at 3 a.m. because it was too quiet. Sephiroth was gone. He checked for a pulse and then called hospice. There was very little to be done after that. Reno cried as his body was removed and he and Tseng lit candles and stayed up until dawn.

In the Lifestream Sephiroth held onto Cloud as he was granted knowledge of all the lives he had ever lived, and Cloud had been a part of every single one.