Chapter 23: Love to Hate

Chapter warnings: violence blood and injury, temporary character death


The subdued din of voices and catering cutlery envelops Sephiroth as he serenely eats his breakfast. It is the usual nondescript bean porridge which professor Hojo favours. It's yellow with darker hues of some kind of meat. He'd heard the speculation made by other cafeteria frequenters who almost all seemed to agree is that it looks unappetising.

Sephiroth doesn't care. He is accustomed to it and would continue to consume it as instructed. Though silently, the child prefers the rice porridge. His soul agrees with him in silent solidarity.

Most of the other Shinra employees consume other forms of food during the breakfast hour. Ranging from bread, cereal, fruit, jams, milk, that horrid coffee, and some kind of sour smelling white slime.

He makes a face, thinking about a certain vanilla cream muffin he'd received on his birthday.

The porridge Sephiroth eats for breakfast every day is not readily available at the counter. The kitchen staff had a portion left aside for him and Hojo, though Professors was often packaged for ease of delivery rather than expect him to make time for eating in the dining area.

In spite of the posted fliers by laboratory doors forbidding food and drink from being brought in and consumed, offices adjoined the the laboratory seemed to be the exception, for he had witnessed through sight or smell the infraction of this rule.

The child's nostrils twitch, enticed by the scent of bitter wariness.

Pale eyelashes lift as he casts a languid glance over the sudden flurry of movement at the doors. A group of researchers walk in. On their tail paces a blond female Turk.

His pupils constrict and his stony countenance softens to his child like features. Nostrils flare to indulge in her special brand of hatred which spikes at his bright eyed attention.

It is the Turk, codenamed Scissors. Though Turks frequent the cafeteria, especially among the new recruits he has rarely seen this particular one. Even less so after their last encounter during the Heidegger incident.

Her hair had grown out since their last encounter, no longer short cropped, it revealed a whirl which curled her fringe from one side of her face to the other.

One of the researchers stand up to greet the new arrivals with an obsequious smile.

"Dr. Burrado, I read your paper on the potential of enhancing Blood tastes! Welcome to Midgard." Sephiroth recognises him with distaste as one of Professor Hojo's assistants who had tried to scold him once.

After casting another glance at Scissors and locking on to her scent to brighten his mood - she s eyeing him surreptitiously with a sour expression - he returned to finishing his bland, salty breakfast.

One of the researchers sitting near Sephiroth stands up and approaches the table where this Dr. Burrado and his crowd of admirers had settled down. He'd probably been transferred from another city, or perhaps he was a guest researcher, judging by the earlier greeting, which would also explain the Turk presence.

New researchers usually had a guard detail for a while, probably to ease them in to the vicious Shinra henpecking.

Sephiroth glances as the man who'd left returns, recognising him as a new intern, "Seems like his father was once one the team that created the Guard Hounds. He gossips to a grizzled grey-haired researcher who frequently sat in vicinity of Sephiroth.

The old man had done a double take when he'd encountered the child at the cafeteria for the first time. But not for the usual reason. He'd asked about where Sephiroth had gotten his usual gruel, then wandered off to talk with the kitchen staff.

He'd been eating the porridges with relish ever since.

"So that's why he is making such a stir. It's not like Blood Tastes will lead to anything." Sneers another man, by the smell of him he is from weapons development.

"What are you implying." Blinks the younger researcher, seemingly taken aback.

"Blood Tastes, require regular feeding, their kennels stink and they leave their shit everywhere." Sneeres the Weapon's developer. Taking a drink for his glass of water, Sephiroth tastes the air idly, he senses irritation, and frustration sobering into malice. Maybe he'd been snubbed by his wife, Sephiroth had overheard tales from other employees who smelled similarly.

"But Troopers need to eat and defecate too, they even need to get paid…" said the young researcher in bewilderment, blinking innocently. Watching him cooly Sephiroth sifted through the cafeteria scents to find his. It is calm.

"And shinra needs to pay handlers and other people to take care and clean up after those dogs. That is why battle robots are the future of Shinra." Retortes the the other man cooly. Petty satisfaction oozing from him.

The young researcher blinks.

"A-are you talking about those… Red Saucers?" Stutters the young researcher in confusion. Scent as calm as ever.

This intern would do well in Shinra. He hid his emotion's and was friendly with everyone. Especially with the grizzled researcher who was watching their dispute with detachedly, scent mild amusement.

From Sephiroth's understanding this man doesn't have any important duties or achievement in the Science research department. But he had served under the previous President, and had a lot of connections within and outside of Shinra. Sephiroth had even seen him exchanging some words with dark haired Turk who'd been at the board meeting during the Heidegger incident.

"There are more impressive things in the works." Bites the Researcher out. Sephiroth, having had enough of Company intrigue, stands up with his tray. The Grizzled researcher casts a slow look his way, as he prowls away to stow his tray on the cafeteria's trolly.

Tossing a final glance over the cafeteria, the child leaves on his own. Quick to reach the cafeteria doors while weaving past a gaggle of shinra employees who'd just entered as a group. About to step out into the corridor-

A shock rips through Sephiroth's chest. Momentarily stunned, he staggers backwards running an inward scan of his body.

There is nothing.

Still, he can feel it. A throbbing in his ribcage, but it is distant, as if a mere echo…

Pupils dilate, a slow realisation dawns. His soul rings with the memory of a forgotten day when the wold came crashing down.

He casts a look behind him. The Cafeteria is much as it had been moments before. The Office clerks have noticed nothing and are congregating towards an area with several empty tables. The Grizzled researcher's attention is back on the argument going on between the intern and the weapons developer. The rest were still crowded around Burrado. One of the newbie turks is sitting in the corner finished picking his noes and flicks his snot into the slow-eating partners cereals. The only thing that is different is Scissors. Her eyes are locked in his direction, ignoring his former firearm instructor - Rifle's - chattering.

Tasting the air he could smell her sweet alarm. His dilated pupils constrict, but just a little. But he can't stay to indulge.

He needs a private place. An image flashes in his mind and his mood calms down further. Turning on his heel he leaves without further ceremony. His mind racing to calculate the repercussions of what he is about to do.

His soul has warned him something like this would happen a long time ago, but in the end, it still happens at an inopportune moment.

However, it isn't unsalvageable. There had been a moment where everyones attention had been drawn away from him, even Scissors's had been distracted for a moment by his Firearm Instructor's approach.

He might raise some suspicions, but if his trace is faint enough, people will not believe.

Turning a corner he stops short, dilated eyes fixed on a blinking light close to the ceiling.

A camera.

Behind an expressionless child's face, thought's race.

Where were the cameras in the cafeteria?

In two corners, he thinks, each facing one of the two exits. The Trolly for the trays was located by the side door to the kitchen, he can't recall seeing a camera facing that door. Considering it's distance from the exit he should have been just outside of either cameras' range.

There might have been a camera facing the cafeteria on the other side of the kitchen door, but he would be too short to appear through the window placed in it regardless.

Looking down, the pale haired child resumes striding forward. In a short few moments he is by the entrance to the stairwell. Pulling the heavy metal door open with ease, he slinks in and begins ascending the stairs. He is half way up towards the second landing when the same door he had come through swings open.

Pausing for a second, he tastes the air. He knows this scent.

Grasping the banister he leans over it to look down at the landing below. His hair slips over his shoulder to hang down.

It's the female Turk, Scissors. He hadn't noticed her following him.

Sephiroth slowly shakes his head, all of a sudden realising that he is not calm. Suddenly, hearing his own hurried breathing, where it had previously been deafened by his raging thought.

Meanwhile, the Turk steps into the stairwell. Hesitantly. He can smell her suspicion beneath her unease as she looks up at him.

Leaning more of his weight on the banister he breathes deeply, trying to sooth his nerves with the Turks distress. His soul shivers in glee from the woman's scent.

His pupils briefly narrow, but widen once more leaving a narrow growing green line to circle his eyes.

The heavy stairwell door swings shut with a clang leaving the two in silence for a brief moment staring at each other.

"Weren't you on guard detail for that new scientist, Burrado?" He asks.

Now that he has stopped to think about it, he doesn't need to rush.

The Turk doesn't respond, looking warily up at him with her guarded blue eyes. Sephiroth's soul stirs faintly, but not for her.

The child looks at her consideringly. Given what he is going to do, whatever he does now should not have any repercussions on the future.

He can savour her fear a bit longer. Time is on his side after all, isn't it.

"What are you up to?" She asks him, glaring up at the child peaking over the banister. Her stance shifts and hide one of her hands.

Sephiroth's eyes glow, thinking she may be reaching for a weapon.

He leans further over the banister, weighing her reaction. He could tell her couldn't he? It would be interesting to see how she would react.

He relaxes against the metal below his belly and lets gravity pull at him. Letting him slide down along the painted metal.

"I can feel it…" He whispers, though the sound is clear in the quiet stairwell along with the quiet hiss of his clothes against metal.

"Feel what?" She asks coldly. Staring with a hardened gaze into his rounded pupils.

"Feel my friend dying." He can, he feels the seals to the lifestream trembling and unraveling as if they are his own. Only very, very distantly.

His decent come to a stop at the landing above where the Turk stands. He slides off it and ducks under the banister

Scissors blues eyes flicker uncertainly but she shifts her stance to match his position as he rounds the banister and begins stepping down the stairs.

Suddenly he remembers. She had been there with him and Gast in the mansion, hadn't she?

"Someone is killing Gast." He whispers. Frustration and anger suddenly surge within him, his soul not slow to share its helplessness and loss that only enhances his own emotions. His gaze bores into widened blue ones.

"How do you know?" The Turk asks, keeping a wary gaze fixed upon the child. The thin ring around those abyssal pupils flash.

"I already told you, I-" The child cuts off, the glows dims and he comes to a stop a few steps away from the landing.

The stairwell falls silent

"He just died." A child's shaken whisper brakes the silence. Sephieorth looks down, suddenly feeling the emptiness inside of him very keenly. He's known this would happen, but…

The hollow inside of him grows, falling gape like a giant maw, beckoning to embrace him along with the world.

From the core of that abyssal darkness, his soul emerges.

It illuminates the emptiness with in him with a dark light, envelops it, then suppresses it it into the heart of a scorching but icy inferno.

Sephiroth curls his childlike fingers into a fist. Slowly his head rises, his hair falls out of his face and his gaze lifts to the shocked blond's.

He'd also always known what lay at the heart of that anger which burned his soul. But now, now, he understands it.

His eyes burn with it as they lock on the Turk on the landing below.

Hatred.

"Distract me." He croons horsely to his prey.

Scissors whips out a knife before he can lunge at her.

He feints to the side, then leaps towards the banister to gain higher ground. A blur of movement from the turk, a whistling in the air, he reacts quickly, twisting, his hand darts out his eyes tracking silver.

His fingers meet cold metal and he pinches it hard, keenly aware of the edge, just in time for his back to meet the banister, his body tucking with the combined reflexes of his training and soul's experience to volt over it.

Fists had been right, he thinks as his feet meet the stares going down. He'd been unable to reach her before she drew her blade.

He sees a flash of light in the corner of his eyes. He tenses, but the magic swirls and quickens around the Turk as he casts his gaze in her direction.

Haste.

Of course she would have Materia.

She pulls out a knife with one hand and a phone with the other, all the while closing in on his position, trying to corner him on the stairs, with the odd jerking of a hasted motion.

He darts for her. She slashes at him, and he dodges right. A kick connects in a lighting quick motion with to chest, pushing the wind out of him. He lashes out with the dagger he'd snagged from the air at the Turks leg as he's thrown back. It slices open her pant leg, but with surprising resistance, leaving only a shallow cut on her calf.

The wall of the stairwell connects with his back. He lets himself bounce off of it, still on the stairs.

He watches her, keen eyed as she rights herself from the spinning back kick. His nostrils flare, tasting the blood in the air. Feeling at his chest, he listens to the singing go his soul of battles yet to be fought.

His eyes burn, pupils thin slits. A smile spread across his face. He hasn't felt this good for a long time.

Her attention is wavering, torn by her phone as she taps out a series of number in a hasted motion.

He darts forward, and she slashes. He ducks it, then twists away from her quick stab, then retreats down the stairs, pulling his head away as she stabs again in a low crouch. The clunky PHS is now at her ear.

He tastes the air reverently, indulging in the smells of adrenaline and blood. Her panting echoes deliciously in the stairwell, egging on his soul's remembrance of battle thrills. Fractured recollections of light and dark. Broken noises, disjointed muscular impulses. But there, always there, is the smell of blood and metal and battle lust.

An electronic beeb interrupts the moment, then a click.

"Zero here."

Sephiroth dashes forward.

She thrusts her dagger, he blocks it with his own stolen one, then ducks under her arm. His soul sears a warning awareness through his consciousness at the tilt of her blade against him and he twists, managing to draw his blade out of engagement, or risk losing either his fingers or weapon.

"It's Sephiroth!" She shouts at the machine by her ear, retreating, preferring to give him back some ground rather than being pushed down the stairs that he'd just managed to escape.

"He's done it!" She darts in slashing at him and dodges backwards then feints towards her, not wanting to be pressed too close to the wall. His mind analysing as her wide, alert eyes are locked on him.

It was indeed difficult to close the distance with her, and she was currently one-handed, even if hasted.

She backs away from him in a crouch, dagger at the ready. Fists had said to use ranged weapons, the only thing he had on him was the dagger but - his soul is not the kind to hurl a weapon.

"He's -" Sephiroth's hand flicks up and the concrete come's alight with white light. A thunder's crack rends the space.

She falters. Sephiroth is upon her. She swipes at him, eyes still bulging from the shock.

He ducks but sees a knee come up to meet him. He plant's her dagger in her thigh.

A gasp rings out, but her arm flashes back in a back handed stab, still hasted. But he's close enough now to use the floor as leverage to strike up at her armoured forearm, diverting the blade to whistle over his head.

He kicks her injured leg from under her. She goes down.

Without hesitation, he grabs the inside of her thigh and calf and braces his knee against hers.

Scissors eyes remain wide, she wheezes with horse horror, flailing to sit up. Knife flashing for his vulnerable neck, movements no longer hasted.

The child's muscles tens.

The snap is unexpectedly loud, surprising even Sephiroth. Like a breaking of a rubber band but with the volume of a gun shot.

Scissors screams and falls onto her back.

Slowly Sephiroth stands, snagging the dagger and wrenching it out of her though to the beat of another agonised yell. He tastes the fear in the air.

"Ohhh-, Zero. He- he got me." She gasps into the PHS, her voice much smaller than he'd ever heard it.

His soul curls in delight, while he looks at those wide blue eyes. A lock of blond hair had fallen down into one of them.

She sits up and brings up a knee. Using her remaining good leg to slowly push herself away from the child. A trail of slightly less dusty floor is left in her wake.

Sephiroth follows quietly but stays out of range of her knife which still raised defensively.

"He just took, my leg and-" she continues, pushing herself back, "what was that even- thunder Materia?- he's not supposed to-"

"Focus- how did this start-" Sephiroth hears from the machine pressed against the Turks ears.

"He- suddenly seemed upset, I followed him and-" Her legs shoves away and her back meets the other wall of the staircase, her eyes locked unblinking on the silent child. "He said Something about Professor Faremis dying and then-

Sephiroth darts forwards abruptly.

She lashes out, but he ducks then twist and catches her arm under his own, pinning it against his side. Before she can twist her arm out of his grasp and stab his flank, he wrenches her arm upwards and stomps a foot down on her ribs.

The crack is almost drowned out by her scream this time. Suddenly, she breaks off, coughing violently.

The PHS shouts questions, but Sephiroth has only eyes for her agonised face and ears for her choked pained noises.

His soul is remembering something. He can feel it, but the shards of memory swirl around and slip out of his grasp. Only the emotion is vivid, the pleasured ecstasy swirls and courses within him, warming his cold chest.

"I- I don't know why-" She breaks off to cough weakly and wetly. "But he thinks he can get away with this."

There's a rasp in her voice, and she gasps in a shallow sob.

Sephiroth shifts the captive arm in his grip. Even now, she's trying to stab him.

He lifts his own dagger and presses it steadily into her shoulder, just below her collarbone and neck by her right arm. His eyes remain fixed on her face as as she groans with a dcrechendoing volume, breaking off just shy of a shriek with violent wet coughing.

Her dagger clatters to the ground.

He kicks it away carelessly then drops her arm just as negligently which falls limply to the ground, her fingers tremble but remain otherwise limp.

He straightens to his full, short hight allowing him to look down at the prone Turk. Indulging in the sense of victory, his soul simmers with a dark delight.

"Oh. Dear. Shiva. He's staring right at me with-" She gasps shallowly.

Sephiroth steps one leg over her abdomen, where she is crumpled on the floor.

He drinks the air deeply, soothed by the blood, fear and horror.

She looks away from his gaze, weakly. Blood begins to die her suit black by her shoulder.

"I have it, Zero, I have it." She whispers feebly to the machine, still clenched tightly in her one good hand.

Gently he grasps her chin with his small, childish fingers and pulls her gaze back.

His other hand rises towards her own.

"I'm going to die." She confesses to the machine as his fingers slip into her clenched grip.

He pinches the irksome thing.

The machine creaks. Cracks grow on the surface, spreading, then pieces begin to fall off, until it falls apart entirely slipping out of her hand and down her shoulder and onto the cold floor.

"Now, you are mine alone" He murmurs to her, feeling the cold twist of possessiveness in his belly. His soul feels it for another, but he- he hungers for her.

A tear trickles down her cheeks and a thrill rushes to his head, constricting his pupils even further. He can barely see though his euphoria.

It is there.

He breathes in deeply.

Veraciously.

It is delicious.

It is despair.

She coughs again and her eyes dart to the dagger in her shoulder. He laces his fingers through her own gloved ones.

"I wouldn't want you to die, too soon." He purrs to her. Eyes hooded. The puddle of blood on the floor grows quietly.

Brokenly she whispers to him. "Your sick." Her face twists beautifully. More tears streak down her cheeks. His soul shivers in remembered triumph.

Sephiroth can hardly believe it is real. Even with the scent of blood and fear and-

"You twisted freak!" She snarls lowly, coughs then hiccups a sob.

"Tell me. Tell me what you really think I am." He croons fervently, smitten by her bloodshot blue eyes. He can't believe this is happening. It is too good.

"You're a monster." She sobs.

"Yes, I am a monster." He breathes against her wet cheek, his soul confesses the truth as he speaks it.

A primordial terror, bleeds into her scent. He tastes salt on his lips.

It is real.

His soul want's to stare into the angular features of her face, still trying to piece together a puzzle to which he has yet found the pieces, but he knows enough. He is, for once, sated.

"You have beautiful eyes." He tells her rapturously. He feels her body shiver between his calves. He is giddy with her yummy smells, high on the fumes of her terror.

"Good girl." He praises, In this moment, he'd never appreciated anyone more than her.

"Sharing your despair with me." He'd never been this happy before.

He sinks down onto her belly. Lowering her captive fingers and changing his grip to hold three of her fingers with his small hand.

His soul urges him to continue to look at that face. But he wants to feel her, his Cloud, breathing in her horror fuelled revoltion.

"All, this time. You were like this." She sobs weakly, then coughs up some blood.

He lets his weight rest against her front pressing his ear against her bosom hearing her heart beat and rattling lungs.

He used to do this with Gast. Though his coat hadn't been wet with blood.

"But you already knew, didn't you? I could tell." He murmurs to her softly. She shifts her head to look down at the child cuddling her broken torso. Her own blood stains his silver hair and pale hand red.

Sephiroth hears her swallow thickly.

"How did you know?" He asks, genuinely curious. Looking up at her from her chest. That constant fear and wariness. In some ways she'd been more attuned to his emotions than even he himself.

"I-" She takes in a slow breath, grimacing in pain. "I just had a feeling." Regret wells up in her voice.

Sephiroth pauses, her fear is waning. Her heart beats more softly under his ear.

"You should have believed in yourself." His hold on her fingers firms, squeezing more tightly.

She scoffs bitterly, then her expression crumples with tired pain.

Sephiroth looks down at his bloodied hand on her chest.

Suddenly a coughing fit descends over her. Her chest heaves lifting Sephiroth with it and blood sprays over his face.

But he stares down fixedly at his hand. His own hatred and anger are long gone.

The coughing calms. He can barely hear her rattling breath.

He looks up. Face neutral. She meets his gaze calmly. Her face relaxes slowly and her despair, ebbs away.

Gently he brushes away a few locks from her brow with his bloodied hand.

"You look much nicer with your hair long"

Bitter dislike colours the residue of her scent.

But her eyes slide tiredly closed and chin sinks to her collarbone. Her hand is heavy in his.

He lets her fingers slip from his grip and it falls limply to the ground.

Slowly he stands. Just a head taller than her, where she is sprawled against the wall.

He feels nothing.

His soul tells him nothing.

Not for the death of this nameless Turk who's blood pools out over the stairwell landing.

The emptiness inside him is a sea of void silence.

The stairwell door slams open.

Sephiroth's head snaps up. A Turk barges in.

"Contact!" she bellows. Sephiroth is already on the move after her first syllable. Not a moment too soon, because bullets bury themselves in the concrete wall which his head had been obscuring.

More bullets follow in his wake as he runs up the wall and leaps up and over the railings for the next flight of stairs.

"Comeback here you beast! You've been caught red handed." His former firearm instructors instructor yells as she storms up the stair after him.

Another Turk runs in after her. Sword bared.

She pales when she sees the Turks crumpled against a wall in a pool of her own blood by the stairs going up. She runs over, pulling out a tuft of golden feathers without hesitation. The magic already activates and unravels the feathers before they have a chance to land on the Turk.

With an abrupt suddenness the blond Turk takes a breath, then coughs violently. The Black haired Turk splashes to her knees in the pool of blood, fumbling for a potion, face pale. "Dear Titan, Scissors…"

But the bloodied Turk just fumbles for her pocket, as her colleague yanks out the dagger and pours a potion over the fatal wound.

"I have it, I have it." Scissors mumbles wetly, coughing out more blood.

The dark haired Turk hesitates briefly. "Zero said you had something."

"You must take it". She whispers desperately. "Quickly." She heaves a breath "He's going to do something." She coughs, blood dribbling down her chin. "He's much worse than anyone thought."

"But-"

"Ken, You must." She sobs desperately.

The dark haired turk hesitates, then her expression firms. She slips a hand into the pocket Scissors is fumbling at and pulls something out. She places a hi-potion in the injured turks hand before standing.

"Stay alive, scissors." She says firmly, sheathes her sword and goes running down the stairs three at a time.

Some floors above, Sephiroth slips through a door. Jumps up a wall and anchors himself in the the corner above the stairwell.

It bust open, his fire arm's instructor storms through gun barking. She stops, registering the empty corridor.

Sephiroth dives down, curling his arms around her neck. His weight makes her stumble. He can smell her shampoo where his noes is pressed against her thick curly brown hair. His soul, howls with forgotten motions.

His knees clamp down on her sides. Excitement runs like liquid strength through his veins as he braces to snap her neck.

Her arm lashes out, touching his arm.

The shock makes Sephiroth's head go blank and loosen his grip, his legs slip.

The Turk is stunned for a brief instant, but she recovers faster than he, twisting out of his grip. She strikes hi sides with a small object.

The same jolt course though him again, shocking him.

His feet hits the ground and he stumbles.

Without looking his fire arm instructor lifts her gun as she twist and jumps back with unexpected agility.

Sephiroth flings himself against the wall leaving a bloody handprint there.

He dodges a second bullet as he bounces off of it.

He twists behind the closing stairwell door with quick footwork, just as two more bullets thunk into the fire proof material.

His sharp hearing catches a cartridge releasing. The instincts of his soul jolt him into action. Without thinking he shoves the door wide open and runs back onto the floor at full tilt. His gaze fixed on the Turk.

She turns and runs, cursing while sliding the fresh cartridge into her gun and twisting her torso to shoot back at the pursuing child.

Sephiroth' tilts his head, a bullet zips past his ear, then ducks another, which passes over his head.

He jerks his shoulder out of the way, the bullet rips through his shirt. Then skips over another aimed for his feet.

"Ifrit's balls!" she bellows into the corridor, stampeding past a Secretary who drops her papers and quickly retreats back into the office she'd been leaving. Sephiroth ignores the secretary as he closes the distance between them not caring when his foot steps on a corner of the scattered white paper and leaves a smear of scarlet. His eyes are locked on the Turk turning to look ahead.

Then she twists around and Sephiroth's eyes dart to her other hand, registering an automatic rifle which she'd pulled out from under her oversized suit blazer.

He darts to the side, bounding up the wall. A hail of bullets pelt in his wake. Reaching the ceiling in a moment he pushes himself away from it, shooting for the floor and bracing his legs for landing.

Rifle had turned around completely to run backwards with her arms crossed. His pupils dilate suddenly, catching sight of the metal barrel braced under the rifle arm, aiming for the position he was going to land in.

His soul supplies the spell and he casts up his hand.

The bullet fires, his feet hit the ground - another bullet barks, and they both ricochet off an illusory barrier.

"Fucking die! Freak cockroach!" She screams, blasting her semi automatic at the crouching child.

Sephiroth grits his teeth, feeling the strain, his mind races for a solution. Behind the Turk, an elevator door opens and helmeted troopers spill out.

The Turk drops her pistol to the ground, still firing her rifle to pull out something else.

She brings it to her mouth, then tosses at Sephiroth. But it lands short, rolling to a stop at his feet.

Slitted pupils focus on the grenade. His mind snaps to a decision. He kicks away from his position.

The grenade explodes, blasting Sephiroth off his feet and back down the corridor where he'd come.

Slit pupils are fixed on the metal door which is still in the midst of closing.

His ears are deafened, but the thunk of bullets has stopped. She must be changing his cartridge.

She'll be done before he lands.

In the air, he can't dodge.

The child twists, urgently reaching into himself, the power building. Rifle lifts her automatic with both hands this time, her aim steady unlike before.

The power releases, a trail of Ice leaves his hand, almost gentle. Almost harmless.

"Perish, monster! The Turk bellows, pressing down the trigger.

A wall of ice blooms in the corridor.

Sephiroth doesn't hear the bullets hit, still deafened by the grenade.

He lands on a wall, kicks off, heart racing as the opening to the stairwell narrows. He reaches out with his hands and slaps it wide enough to pass through. He twist in the air, bringing his feet up, but doesn't quite manage to stop himself from ramming into the banister of the stairs that bends from the force of his landing.

Panting, he pricks up his ears, his hand stinging from the impact. He hears only the ringing.

He'd had enough, he had better things to do. He bolts up the stair, towards a higher floor, knowing that his impromptu ice barrier had already shattered.

Abruptly Sephiroth breaks, slamming into a door leaving only trace amounts of crusted blood on the metal.

Quickly he, reaches up for the handle and flings it open. Then he's running down another corridor.

He zips past a somewhat familiar veteran soldier with a slight limp who stumbles with a curses an unheard expletive.

Shinra employees drop their papers and bags or throw themselves out of his way, or stumble from shock after his wake.

Seeing his desired intersection coming up he leaps onto a wall and kicks off it to bound onto the wall of a poorly lit corridor. A layer of plaster cracks and crumbles from the impact of his landing. An office Clerk falls to the floor shocked by the small figure who'd flown over his head.

But Sephiroth is already away, sailing a good distance down his favourite dead-end and comes to a running stop before a nondescript door with a private sign on it.

Without hesitation the child wrenches the door open and throws himself onto the small cot, bumping his shoulder into the wall after having misjudged the strength needed.

He curls up panting. His nails scrape against the taut fabric, clenching into fists. He tries to relax, to slow his breath.

His hearing is still muffled which helps him concentrate so he closes his eyes. But the smell of blood is in his noes and he can feel the grit of clotted blood in one palm, tugging against his skin.

He pinches his noes with his unsullied hand and takes deep breath's through his mouth.

Calming down, he slowly opens himself up into the lifestream, trying to remember how he'd done it before. Or rather, how his soul had done it.

Meanwhile, Ken burst into the office panting and holds something out to the red headed Turk.

Zero grabs it and flicks a cap off of it.

"I don't know what it's up to." She murmurs as she sticks it into a portal on her computer. "But it won't get this off the net even if it managed to destroy all of Midgar."

With some rapid clicking and typing, a window reading "Uploading" pops up, under which percentage numbers rapidly begin to ascend.

On some floors above, a brunette Turk busts out of the stairwell. Her suit is disheveled, revealing a criss cross of holsters, framing her rounded bust.

"Where'd that freak go!" she bellows.

She points at the nearby guard.

"You! Did you see the kid?"

He narrows his eyes then points, beginning to run with his limp along the corridor linked by startled paper pushers and palming his gun. The Turk is quick on his heels, but panting.

They turn down a dimly lit dead-end hallway and slow to carefully approach the open door at the far end.

Holding her rifle at the ready the Turk prowls closer, signalling the veteran to fall back and cover her.

The Turk suddenly surges forward. Scanning the dark interior of the room with the barrel of her gun, no sooner does she spot the figure curled up on the cot, then does she pull the trigger. The bullet leaves the rifle with a contained explosion and flies true, zipping for the prone child.

The world stops.

In the office some floor below the ascending numbers on a screen stop at 81%

An error sign appears, the the Turk pulls the recording device out of the computer. Returns the cap on the USB along withe her words and hands it back to a Turk with a high pony tail, who promptly retreats backwards out of the room. The door unslams itself shut.

On the floors above the expended bullet frozen in mid air zips back into its barrel, unbirthing the explosion which had projected it. The busty brunet retreats backwards along with the older guard down the corridor.

In the dark room the child resist the pull of time and remains curled on the cot.

The plaster on the walls outside of the room floats up and resets itself in the wall. An office clerk unscares himself along with a hole cohort of other employees. The Veteran guard unstartles himself and takes back his crass cursing.

The door to the stairwell, closes itself abruptly, the banister in the stair a few floor below unbends itself. While the door diagonally across from it swings slowly open.

Shattered ice picks itself off the floor along with numerous bullets to form a wall of jagged ice. The bullets retreats and the Ice wall shrinks into nothingness.

A grenade assembles itself, the unleashed explosion retreats back into the container where it rolls back to pounce into a gloved hand which reclasps it to her holster. Bullets pick themselves out of the walls and floors, following a trajectory where they rickoshey off nothing and return to the firearm which birthed them.

A discarded gun returns to a hand and a Turk runs back the corridor, turning to run backwards more bullets returning to her firearm

One of those bullets returns from its trajectory of ripping past something. But the cloth which would be torn is not there for the string to untare.

Nor do the sporadic and fading scarlet prints on the walls and floors disappear, for there is no hand or shoe for the blood to return too.

A cartridge is unspent and more bullets return until the Turk is back at the fire-door that was undented.

The Turk twists back into the grip of something which is not there, the taser in her hand never sparks with the charge it would release - twice - for the electricity it birthed has nothing to return through.

Doors shuts and opens again as the Turk unchases an absent quarry. But the more defined, wet hand and shoe prints remain on the walls and stairs

The blond woman propped up against a wall returns to deaths embrace only to emerge out of it once more, she inhales coughed blood, but most of it never returns, for it is still splattered on the face of a child curled up on a cot in a dark, closed room.

Blood slowly seeps back and words return to her mouth. But the things which were said by the absentee she stares at with fear and despair are never unspoken.

The phone in her hand repairs itself, crushed by an unseen force. Screams return down her throat and the Turk's injuries close, her bones unbreak by themselves and she unfights her invisible opponent with a dagger. A call is uncalled a haste spell uncast. A thrown dagger is returned her grasp and then sheath.

She unspeaks her question posed to a child who isn't there to take back the thing's he had said.

The woman retreats out of the corridor and into the cafeteria taking back her excuses and calling back her favours. Until all is as it would be, save for a lone child who is simply not where he used to be.

In the Lifestream, Sephiroth stops. He'd marked the only time he'd been sure no one would notice him disappear. Slowly he lets go of time and the planets sighs as it once again flows as it wills. Except it is disturbed by a dark presence, for which it makes way, like water before oil.

Sephiroth, had never been this far in the lifestream. It tares at him, but he stays resilient, not letting it steal away any part of him as he stretches towards a distant beacon.


Author's notes:

Comments: Thanks you tocasia, ARJaJRA and a guest for leaving a comment for the last chapter.

Also thanks goes to a certain discord community without ought whom I probably wouldn't have had the courage for this chapter to become as bloody and violent as it did. As you may imagine, there'll be stronger repercussions because of, than I had originally planned for but it doesn't affect the plot in the grand scheme of things. Just emphasises some things earlier than I had thought.

I had hoped to finish this arc, with this chapter but I don't like to write 10k chapters to this will have to do. Next chapter will unfortunately not be done so quickly. This one was already half written when I posted the last chapter so that's why its out so quickly afterwards.

Hope you all liked it and please leave a comment, because it means a lot! I'm actually a bit nervous about the next chapter, Although I've planned for this scene a long time, I'm afraid it's not all that special and the Second part I hadn't planned for at all.

Next chapter: Sephiroth makes his first big move to defy fate. And has to deal with the consequences afterwards.