Eromenos: The Beginning (55)


55


There was a bounce in Cloud’s step when he went to check on his subordinates the next morning, a cheerfulness that none of them had ever seen. He was relaxed and happy, despite the fact that their mission started today, despite the fact that Nibelheim was a death-sentence. None of that mattered to Cloud right now; what mattered was last night.

Last night he’d been reunited with his lover. Last night he’d been touched and held and made love to as if he was something precious and addictive. Last night he’d known the brand hadn’t flared to life, he’d known that Sephiroth was not using anything in his power outside of his own formidable charms.

Last night Sephiroth had said he loved him.

And Cloud was euphoric. Continue reading

Eromenos: The Beginning (54)


54


It was effortless this time, as if the long wait had put them on even footing. Sephiroth’s usual cold superiority had given way to a kind of vulnerable hunger – Cloud knew the man had missed him, had longed for him, now. He could taste it in the pressure of those velvety lips and feel it in the heat of the body pressed so tight to his. No condescension, no haughty amusement in the face of Cloud’s own fierce need, just warm hands holding him tight for this first kiss between them in so very, very long.

“Come with me,” Sephiroth whispered, moist lips brushing against Cloud’s as he spoke. He pulled backwards to the door of the Inn and Cloud moved with him as if sleep-walking. He was helpless to resist this familiar stranger, and he knew it wasn’t the brand at work, here. Sephiroth had changed over their estrangement. He’d discovered what life was like without Cloud in it, and he wanted him back. It was a realization that made Cloud at once overwhelmingly happy and strangely scared. It was easy to stay aloof from Sephiroth when he was angry, to take shelter in his strong emotions – but it was not easy to deny him when he was being, for once, so honest.

They moved up the stairs, two silent shadows in deeper darkness, treading lightly along the creaking floorboards to Sephiroth’s own single room. The bed was humble but spacious enough for their needs, and the moon provided light enough to see by.

“I have waited for so long,” Sephiroth breathed, his long-fingered hands plucking at buttons and loosening straps to slowly strip Cloud bare. Once more he would stand before this man who had hurt him, once more he would be defenseless in the face of the one who could harm him most… and once more he prayed with all of his heart that this time Sephiroth would truly love him, would lay to rest those damning thoughts that Cloud had nothing to offer anyone, that he was unimportant, disposable, a waste of air and space. Continue reading

Eromenos: The Beginning (53)


53


Cloud lingered outside of the Inn, that sense of foreboding gripping him again. He’d felt strangely uneasy saying goodbye to his mother when he’d left, and he couldn’t help but feel as if he would never see her again. It was childish nonsense, he knew, but he couldn’t shake the strange feelings that this town awoke in him. It seemed like ever since he’d returned, something was pressing at the back of his head, tickling through his mind. Not enough to make him worry, just enough that his head ached slightly and he felt out of sorts.

He lifted his hand to his temple and turned to go inside, nearly running full-force into none other than General Sephiroth.

“Sir,” he said, saluting smartly, hiding in formality, in protocol.

“Sergeant Strife,” Sephiroth said, and even in just pajama pants there was such an air of command about him that Cloud jumped at the lash-like quality of his voice. “Out rather late, are you not?”

“You said it was a free night, Sir,” Cloud answered, standing at stiff attention, his hands clenched at his sides. “I used it accordingly.”

“And where have you been?” Sephiroth purred, and the dangerous suspicion in his low voice confused Cloud. Surely the man didn’t think he would return to Nibelheim and not see his mother again? Continue reading

Eromenos: The Beginning (52)


52


 

It was a tearful reunion, Cloud’s mother was all joy and overflowing love, and Cloud was just happy to see her so happy to see him. All of his fears where she was concerned melted into a warm glow of acceptance. She wanted him around, she’d missed him, she’d worried that he was alone and afraid and she’d wanted him to come home all of these long, frightening years…

They sat at the table talking over tea, and every once in a while she would reach out and clasp his hand, her blue eyes bright with happy tears. She told him sadly that his father was dead, that his grandparents had passed away as well, that things had been lonely and bleak since he’d gone. Continue reading

Eromenos: The Beginning (51)


51


Nibelheim was even more of a backwater town than Sephiroth had first imagined. The Aid Station run by ShinRa was the only building not hundreds of years old. The little circular shape of the village only reinforced the feeling that Nibelheim did not like the outside—all of the houses faced inwards, their backs to the rest of the world… all except for a rather romantically Gothic mansion on the outskirts and a few outcast cottages scattered here and there.

The exhausted quartet exited the transport, the time change and the long travel taking their toll. The ShinRa issued transport required someone to be with it at all times, necessitating two people on a rotating basis. Cloud would dearly have loved to volunteer but the task rightly belonged to one of his Corporals and Sephiroth beat him to it anyway, saying, “One of you two stay with the driver and make sure the vehicle is kept prepped for departure at any time. Fair and you two, come with me.” Continue reading

Eromenos: The Beginning (50)


50


He was early, of course—having nothing to do left one with too much time, and Cloud had always been prompt. He waited for the SOLDIERs leading the mission to arrive and silently fumed over his two other MPs. He knew they were lagging because they were afraid, but fear wasn’t going to change the mission, it wasn’t going to create a miracle for them. It was best just to face it head-on and deal with it, hoping that they would be the lucky ones.

“What’s wrong?” Zack asked, coming at him with his usual quick, purposeful movements.

The clipped, impatient tone of Zack’s familiar voice immediately put Cloud at his most formally respectful. In an apologetic but crisp voice he informed the SOLDIER that the others hadn’t yet arrived, though he offered no excuses.

“We’re in a rush, so hurry up!” Zack told him, striding forward with his eyes on the floor, his thoughts clearly elsewhere.

Cloud was a little surprised to be talked to so brusquely; it was as if Zack didn’t even recognize him…

“Yes, sir!” he said, snapping to attention when answering the order.

Zack looked up and gasped, “Cloud!” With a wide smile he added, “Tossed together again, eh? It’s been a long time! Glad to be working with you!”

“You, too!” Cloud said, smiling widely with relief. It had been a long time—he hadn’t seen Zack in many long, lonely months. “I’m sorry about the others, sir—wait a moment and I’ll get them.”

“It’s Zack!” the man called after him as Cloud bolted down the hall. Continue reading

Eromenos: The Beginning (49)


49


It was funny how things changed.

He’d come from Nibelheim at fourteen, desperate for change, hopeful for a future in which he’d make friends, form bonds, maybe even fall in love—but, mostly, that he would become a SOLDIER like his idol Sephiroth.

At fifteen he was the great General’s plaything, utterly devoted to and in love with a man who did not and could not care for him. As all things never meant to be, it had ended badly; he’d been used and cast out, branded like a herd animal and left to suffer the pain of it in lonely silence.

It was an instant in time that had felt endless to him then, where every second was an eternity that threatened to break him completely. He had foolishly thought at the time that he would never survive it, never get over it, for surely such a pain was the prelude to death?

But he found that time passed despite him—life went on, days opened and drew to a close, missions were doled out and meals were eaten. That he lived in a dull haze of numbness only made everything seem that much more surreal.

Dai was dead.

Zack was always gone on missions.

And Sephiroth…Sephiroth… Continue reading