Author's Notes:  This takes place after the end of the game
Category:  Game, Final Fantasy VII, Yaoi, TWT
Warning:  slight angst, minor violence, spoilers
Pairings:  will be SephirothxVincent
Author:  Arigatomina

Sanctuary

Part 1

It happened so quickly.  Somehow Vincent had expected the end of the world to be drawn out more.  He thought people would be forced to suffer longer.  But
meteor fell with only the slightest hesitation, a token resistance as Holy worked to keep it away from the earth.  The extraordinary spell that was supposed to
be the only counter for Meteor failed miserably and they were rocked as the two met, the airship tossed on waves of air.  

He was nearly blinded by his own hair, his metal claw digging into the railing and preventing him from being thrown over.  Red eyes squinting in the brightness
of the flame and pale light, he could see Cloud holding Tifa, keeping her secure when her strength wasn't enough to steady her.  Yuffie and Barrett were also
crouched together, the large man blocking her slide with his metallic arm.  He didn't turn to see if Cait Sith were holding his own.  The doll could be replaced.  
Reeve had done so before so there was no worry there.  Besides that, if the world were about to end a trip over the edge of the railing would merely simplify
things.  

The thought crossed his mind at the same time as the ship gave a horrible lurch and something brushed past him.  Dark red tipped by orange flame.  

Nanaki scrambled at the edge of the railing, his claws curving as he tried to hold himself up.  His hind legs scrambled, scratching against the glossy outside of
the ship but finding no purchase.  Then something glowed beneath him and he turned his head, looking down at the river of green that flowed over the
ground.  

He heard Barrett call out to him, but his eyes were locked on the current, the lifestream that rushed toward the battleground Meteor and Holy were locked in.  

A hand closed over his left foreleg and his head snapped back around.  His eyes widening at the scowling gaze of the man leaning over him.  A metal claw
brushed his right leg but pulled back just as quickly.  It would cut his paw off if it closed over him, he was sure of it.

Vincent glared, not daring to look down at the lifestream below the ship.  He knew he'd be distracted if he did.  The Highwind jerked to the side and Nanaki's
claws fell down a few inches, the wood cut with a dull sound that was quiet compared to the lifestream's churning current.  

The earth wasn't going to give up without a fight, meaning death now might not be the best choice.  The desperate eyes that shone up at him told as much.

The red-cloaked man stepped to the side and Nanaki watched him, keeping as still as possible so he wouldn't fall any further.  That clawed hand turned before
closing over the edge of the railing, the wood splintering as metal dug in.  Then the man was hanging beside him and he didn't know what to think, unable to
read the dark eyes that watched him.  Vincent's right arm moved around him and he could barely hear the man's low voice over the sounds that rose from
below.

"Climb!"  

Vincent could see the hesitation and he jerked his head to the side, nodding upward.  "My cloak and armor will hold.  Climb now!"  

The lion-like creature nodded and he turned to look upward as a claw caught on the glove covering his left arm.  The material gave a bit, but Nanaki gained
traction quickly enough.  Vincent winced at the claws climbing up his back, his right hand aching on the sharp edge of the railing.  

That flaming tail was held up a bit but he still turned his head to the side to keep from being singed as Nanaki reached his shoulders.  Then the red tail was
over the railing and he pulled himself up with his arms, his steel-toed boots useless against the polished wood.  

A dull rip sounded an instant before he swung to the right.  He compensated as quickly as possible, clutching the railing with both hands.  The glove hung
there for a moment, the torn leather straps catching his eye.  Then it fell and he looked down, following its progress as the blinding lifestream swallowed it up.  

His eyes were dazed by the color, swirling, glittering, inviting.  Sharp pain in his wrists brought him back.

Vincent looked up to find that his grip had loosened while he was distracted by the lifestream.  Blood trailed down his arms to the sleeves of his black shirt.  His
eyes were caught on Nanaki’s long claws and he was suddenly intrigued by how deeply they were caught between the bones in his wrists.  

The Highwind jerked again and the pain flared again as those claws curved tighter.  Vincent’s breath hissed against the high collar of his cloak.

Nanaki didn't know what to do.   He was vaguely aware of Cloud trying to get to them.  His claws were slipping, slicing through the man's thin skin and thicker
cartilage in a way that made his stomach curl.  He could feel Vincent’s hands curling but they’d slipped too far to get a grip on the railing.

The light churned around them as the Lifestream clashed with meteor, but Nanaki’s eyes were locked on Vincent's dark hair.  The man was no longer looking
at him, but rather at his claws.  He wondered vaguely if the sight disturbed the human as much as it did him.

He heard a familiar curse in the background as Cid tried to steady the Highwind and he glanced back to see Cloud pressing Tifa into the shelter of Barrett's
large arm.  The blonde youth looked at him just as the entire airship fell down sharply, clipping trees before rising again.  

Nanaki's head snapped around, but his claws flexed on nothing.  Startled red eyes stared up at him from a mess of black hair as the man fell, swallowed by a
churning sea of pale green.

- - -

His first sensations were of restraint, as if he'd become tangled up in something.  His eyelids were heavy, and he lay still for a while before he could force them
to lift.  He stared upward, his vision too blurred to make out more than the darkness above him, shadows that might have been trees.  

Vincent had barely begun to shift when he realized he was lying on something, against someone.  A warm arm was wrapped over his stomach, holding his own
arms immobile.  He tensed and tried to lift his head.  Another arm lay over his neck, tilting his head back.  A long minute passed as he realized his situation.  
Then he struggled suddenly.  

That arm tightened around his neck until his vision swarmed red, blood pounding in his ears.  A low voice whispered something behind him, but he sank into
darkness without making it out.

- - -

When he woke again, it was as slowly as he had before, but without the disorientation.  Although his head hurt badly enough to make him long for more sleep,
he knew he was lying on someone, someone who was leaning against something – if he judged the angle correctly.  That arm was still around his waist, but a
hand was circling his wrists now, holding them together in a loose hold.  He didn’t need to see to know this.  Even that light pressure was a lowly throbbing
pain.  

The person behind him was breathing deeply and Vincent held very still, his back lifted by the rise and fall of a chest.  There was a sharp blade along his
neck.  He felt it as he swallowed, but it wasn't pressed to his skin.  It seemed to be there more as a warning – to be used only if necessary.  After a moment's
thought, he wondered if his captor wasn't sleeping.

He'd lost his gun during the fall, and Yuffie had taken his materia immediately after the last battle.  Now he wished he'd held onto it, despite promising her she
could have it.  He didn't even have his clawed glove.  

Too many years had passed since he'd first acquired the addition and it was odd to be without it now.  He felt vulnerable, almost bereft somehow.  But it made
him wonder if he could access Chaos.  The limit break would be enough to take care of anyone, but a quick check told him he didn't have enough battle
experience built up.  

The sword shifted, razor-edge barely touching his skin.  Vincent opened his eyes, looking at the pale sky above the trees and waiting.  The person he was
leaning on sat up slowly, moving him as well until he was supporting himself.  Then his hands were released.  

Vincent still didn't move though, since the sharp blade was still pressed to his neck.  His head was tilted and he glanced to the side without moving.  The
person leaned over his shoulder, pale hair entering his line of sight. From the corner of his eyes he saw an infinitely familiar face.  He froze in simple shock.  

"Sephiroth?!"

"It’s amazing," Sephiroth whispered, sea-green eyes glaring at his captive, "that even now you won't let me be.  Even after defeating me, destroying meteor,
you still follow me.  But you, you’re in no condition to kill me."

Staring into that hateful gaze, Vincent remained silent.  Death was probably imminent, but a cool numbness met his senses and he waited patiently.  After all,
he had no reason to fear death.  He’d been dead for years as far as his humanity was concerned.  

The pale-haired man spoke again and Vincent felt a vague sense of surprise, nothing like his first shock.  Sephiroth sounded different somehow.

"...and I barely survived..."

The man seemed almost to be talking to himself.  Vincent turned his eyes forward again, still holding motionless.  They were in a small clearing, the trees
familiar to his sight.  He remembered striking a few of them during his fall, before he'd landed hard enough to knock himself out.  

His gaze flicked back to the scowling man leaning over his shoulder and he blinked, voice cool.  "Why haven't you killed me yet?"

Sephiroth glared at those calm red eyes, his lip twitching into a slight sneer.  "I just wanted to be left alone."

There was dried blood on the pale man's face and Vincent stared at it for a moment before commenting on the odd words.  "Why didn't you just leave, then?"

"So you could have the opportunity to catch me off guard?" Sephiroth murmured, his eyes mocking.  "I didn't survive the life stream just to die because some
petty wounds left me vulnerable."

Understanding dawned quickly and Vincent's eyes rose to the blood again.  Sephiroth was still suffering from the final attack against him.  And he'd said it
already, he was vulnerable, meaning death might not be assured after all.  

Eyes flicking to the trees across from them, Vincent took in the surrounding more carefully.  He just had to wait for an opening, with care taken for the sword at
his throat.  As if in response to his thought, a hand clenched in his hair, jerking his head back.

"Do you have Jenova's cells in you?" Sephiroth asked, his voice hardening suddenly.  

Those red eyes glared at him and Vincent grabbed his wrist, pulling the sword back a few inches.  Sephiroth’s grip tightened around thick black hair, hiseyes
flicking over Vincent's angry expression.  

"It's true,” said Sephiroth.  “I remember you from the battle.  I saw you fight.  I could see Hojo's hand in you."

Vincent shivered despite himself, not meeting those pale eyes.  It wasn't Jenova.  Experiments, magic, Mako poisoning, torture, yes, many things had been
involved in his change, but not that.  

His voice was a low whisper, hiding his involuntary weakness.  "I share no blood with you."  

Sephiroth shoved him forward suddenly and he landed on his hands and knees.  He glared for a moment before rising to his feet.  His hands curled, very
aware of his lack of weapons, and he turned to look at his enemy.  

The white-haired man was crouched on the ground, that dried blood making him seem even paler than Vincent remembered.  But Sephiroth must have healed
somehow because he stood slowly, his stance not betraying any injuries.

"Who are you, then?"

The voice had a tint of curiosity in it that made Vincent frown in surprise.  Sephiroth didn't know.  But then, how could he?  

His mind flew back to the man's quiet words.  He'd said he wanted to be left alone.  Vincent wondered if that were possible, that Lucrecia's son might actually
have gotten past his madness.  Cloud had told him that Sephiroth was once a Soldier and that discovering his origin had caused his eruption.  It was possible
that the man had calmed after his defeat by Cloud.

Vincent simply couldn't believe it.  It couldn't be that easy.  But Sephiroth didn't seem to be injured at all, yet the man hadn't attacked him.  Those pale sea-
green eyes were merely watching him with a thoughtful expression.  

His own eyes dropped, skirting over the ground.  His gun had been hooked to his hip when he'd fallen, but he saw no sign of it now.  

A rush of wind whipped his hair and his head jerked back, narrow eyes going to the spot where Sephiroth had stood.  He’d only looked away for a few
seconds, but that was all the man needed to disappear on him.  Vincent tensed, glaring around the clearing.  

His arms were caught from behind, and Vincent jerked in surprise and anger, his red eyes narrowing to slits.  His wrists burned at the hold on them, reminding
him that not only was he unarmed, he was also injured.

That sword wasn't pressed to him this time, but he held still, expecting it soon enough.  Sephiroth leaned over his shoulder again and he turned his glare
toward the man.  He had to hide his surprise when he caught sight of Sephiroth’s small smile.

"You're going to help me," Sephiroth smirked, watching as Vincent's red eyes widened.

Surprise shook him, knocking away both his wariness and his anger.   Vincent blinked in confusion.  "With what?"  

Sephiroth gave a dark smile.  “If you found me, then the others could as well.  You're going to help me get to Nibelheim."  

Those red eyes darkened and Sephiroth shifted his hold on the man's wrists, expecting resistance.

Ice stabbed its way through him and Vincent flinched away from those pale eyes. Nibelheim?  The place was one he didn't want to see again.  He couldn't think
why Sephiroth would want to go there, but he knew he was never setting foot in the town again.  

Vincent grasped his cold resolve and glared back at the eyes watching him.  "What makes you think I would help you?"  

It made no sense.  Sephiroth obviously didn't need help getting anywhere.  The man may not have been up to another fight with Cloud and the others, but
Vincent knew the fighters thought their enemy dead.  There was no point in Sephiroth even worrying about their coming after him.  

Sea-green eyes glinted and Sephiroth gave him a quick smile, not quite as dark as the last, but still mocking.  

"It's the last place they would go, now that their world is saved," Sephiroth murmured.  

His hand closed in an iron grip around Vincent's wrists and he raised his right arm, curving it over the man’s cloaked shoulder.  Those red eyes widened when
they fell on the golden orb in his hand and the man struggled suddenly.  Yellow light made his eyes narrow a bit, but Vincent’s struggles stilled, the pale glow
settling over his red-clothed form.  Sephiroth smirked.  

"You may have lost your materia," he said, his smirk widening, "but I haven't.  Without your supportive materia, you're easily manipulated."  

Sephiroth released the man’s wrists and took a light step back.  Vincent remained immobile.

Replacing the materia, Sephiroth moved to stand in front of the black-haired man, his eyes sweeping over him.  He hadn't had a chance to really look at him
last night, since he'd been occupied with healing himself.  Now his hand rose to touch the metal buckles holding Vincent's cloak closed over the bottom half of
his face.  

His lips curved into a smirk and he met glaring red eyes.  He knew the man was aware, even if he was helpless.  With a flick of his fingers he parted the cloth
and paused in surprise.  He'd expected to find the man deformed, or scarred at the least.  But he wasn't.  In fact, the man looked as young as him, that pale
face clear of any lines as if he'd never shown expression.  

Sephiroth's hands fell and he glared suddenly, his gaze locking on Vincent's face.  Those eyes had been dark red before, glaring with a cold anger that
Sephiroth had fully expected.  They were wide now, and panicked somehow.  He didn't know what to make of the change.  He frowned, taking a slow step
back.  

It took a simple thought to loosen his control over the man enough to let him speak and Sephiroth jerked his head.  "What's wrong with you?"  

Stubborn silence was his answer as those bright red eyes darkened back into that hard glare.  Sephiroth raised an eyebrow and smirked at the resistance.  

"Fine,” Sephiroth mocked.  “Keep your silence, then."  

He waved a hand to the side, prodding the man in his mind and watching as Vincent walked past him.  The dark-haired man's steps were stilted a bit, but not
too noticeably odd.  

Sephiroth was glad he kept plenty of turbo ethers on him.  He was sure he'd have to reapply the spell often.  Even without his accessories and materia,
Vincent seemed to have a strong natural defense against magic.  But then, Sephiroth had lost few of his items in the lifestream and he still had a hypnocrown.  
That increased his ability to manipulate so much that no inherent strength would be enough to resist him.

Sephiroth couldn't help but think of how useful the man would be.  While Cloud and the others probably wouldn't look for him, it would be better if he wasn't
spotted by anyone.  He wanted no rumors to make their way back to the boy and his comrades.  With Vincent, he could use the man to acquire a boat.  It
would have been quicker to fly, and he was almost completely recovered, but doing something like that would increase the likelihood of his being spotted.  

Besides that, he was in no hurry.  It was as if all of his ambitions had left him, wiped out somehow.  But he wasn't going to dwell on the lack of motivation.  

He had a desire to reach Nibelheim, the place where it had all started.  Despite being the jumping point of everything, the town was isolated, surely empty by
now.  No one would bother him there.

They were a long way from that destination, though, and Sephiroth's mind flew, even as he kept Vincent moving in front of him.  Once they got out of the
wooded mountains surrounding the crater, it would be a simple thing to walk to the Icicle Inn.  Surely he could find some sort of transportation there.  

He had every intention of stealing a chocobo and crossing the mountains to Bone Village if that was what it took.  There had to be boats in that town,
considering how near it was to the ocean.  He'd thought this plan out the night before, as he'd healed himself and watched his captive.  Now, he let a small
smile curve his lips.  He was actually feeling relief to have figured it out.  And there was absolutely nothing to stand in the way of fulfilling his plans.

.-.

PART 2

.-.

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