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jukeboxhound

fic: imperfect tense (ff8)

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Sep. 16th, 2011 | 04:33 pm
mood: bitchybitchy
music: Apocalyptica - "SOS (Anything but Love)"

fateofshadow started it, now arin_rowan is bribing me.  I am not ashamed at how easily I can be bought.

Imperfect Tense
Chapter 10
Word Count: 2,700

FF7/8 || R - sexuality, battle violence, language || Squall/Seifer, Sephiroth/Cloud || crossover
Jenova's legacy, living on through the Sorceresses, is forcing Squall to deal with an unstable Seifer, Cloud Strife, and yet another potential end of the world. Maybe paperwork really wasn't so bad.



10.
 
Friday evening.
 
Considering the circumstances, Vincent supposed it could’ve been a lot worse.  At least the hallucinations hadn’t affected Seifer’s talent for being a jackass.
 
“You ass-raping motherfucking dickwad, keep those fucking tentacles to yourself – “
 
Then again, an entirely unexpected wave of monsters when only a day had passed after the first might justify Seifer’s irritation.  Vincent was scolding himself for thinking that they had more time before the monsters that he’d followed from the north would hit the town, but he’d underestimated them, and so now he was crouched on the roof of a cottage while Seifer took out his frustration at the world in the street below.  Seifer would’ve done Cid proud.
 
Raijin and Fujin never strayed far from Seifer’s blind spots as they cut their way through flailing limbs and mutated bodies.  Just a few hours before, the Dollet residents had been dragging dead monster bits to a large bonfire outside the city, had already been worn down with the exercise when the first of the Jenova spawn’s unnatural screams had drifted through the air.  Vincent just thought, Of course the beasts would show up when we’re at our weakest.  The day had begun with a red dawn (and an awkward breakfast of cold cereal and dark glares from Seifer) and he’d remembered Cid’s old sailor’s superstitions.
 
Claw streaked with filth and gods knew what kind of bodily fluids, human hand bracing Death Penalty as he sniped into the horde from the low roof of a guest cottage, the cries of the townspeople rolled over him in a blanket of déjà vu – Meteor, the twisting of metal as buildings came down on the heads of Midgar’s citizens.  A number of Dollet’s people were former military, he could tell, but not all, and he pulled off a flying leap that would’ve made the Gold Saucer’s acrobats jealous to smash his clawed hand through the skull of a monster determined to eat a screaming little kid.  The monster thrashed as it died and the kid scrambled away, hopefully somewhere that had fewer predators trying to kill him.  Vincent ducked down behind a low garden wall, absently shaking the gore from his claw as he looked around the chaotic mass of battles for his three hosts.
 
“DIE.”
 
“Where the fuck are they coming from?”
 
“Can’t they tell they’re totally outclassed, yanno?”
 
There they were.  Shoving a fresh clip into Death Penalty, Vincent slid like a shadow over the wall and came up behind Seifer, putting a bullet through something’s eye just before the gunblade sliced its head off.  He’d been keeping part of his attention on Seifer, watching for any sign of a sudden urge to proclaim godhood or destroy the earth in the name of his mother.
 
“Yo, vampire,” Seifer was shouting, “I’m not kidding, where the fuck did these things come from?”
 
“The north,” Vincent said shortly.  A flailing tentacle forced him back towards the wall, and a moment later Seifer dropped down beside him with his chest heaving and face drawn with exhaustion.  He shouldn’t be fighting so strenuously, but he just checked Death Penalty’s ammunition while Seifer panted heavily.
 
“Real fucking helpful,” Seifer snarked, and if Vincent had been any less of a strictly self-controlled and classy person he might have rolled his eyes.  When Seifer opened his mouth to demonstrate another dazzling moment of wit but nothing came out, Vincent looked at him sideways and narrowed his eyes when saw the gobsmacked expression smeared across Seifer’s face.  A second later Seifer blinked several times and muttered something that was probably meant to be reassuring but was actually vaguely insulting, but at least he was still holding his gunblade firmly and his gaze was otherwise steady.
 
(What happened was that Seifer had been about to tell this Valentine where to shove his cryptic bullshit when something shifted inside his head, and suddenly the vampire looked a few years younger, hair cropped short, red cloak replaced with a neat business suit.  Valentine raised a handheld device to his mouth and hissed, “Valentine to Turk base, target eliminated – “ and then whatever had cracked was slipped back into place and Seifer was looking at the vampire version again.)
 
“Later,” Vincent said shortly, oblivious, “we’re not done here yet.”
 
 
“I knew I should’ve brought my booms.  Then we wouldn’t be having this problem.”
 
“Your ‘booms’?”
 
“A bit of nitro, some gunpowder, and boom!”  Selphie clapped her hands to emphasize her point and some of the people in the train station jumped.  Irvine grinned.
 
“Somehow, love, I don’t see your booms being well appreciated here.”
 
“You just don’t have any imagination.”
 
Irvine raised a brow.  “Funny, that’s not what I’ve been told,” he said.  He earned a solid punch that made his arm go numb and an eloquent, “Ew!
 
They shuffled forward a few steps in as many minutes, and after some time unabashedly eavesdropping on the people around them Selphie was starting to bounce on the balls of her feet again.  She tried craning over the crowd to see the train.
 
“I can lift you up if you want,” Irvine volunteered.  His magnanimous gesture had nothing to do with her short yellow dress, no sir.
 
“Down, boy,” she snorted, still balancing on the tips of her toes.  “You’d have more luck with Squally.”
 
That was…not a mental image Irvine was prepared for.  “I think I’m happy being the lone stud in the pasture, darlin’,” he said dryly, but Selphie was suddenly just looking thoughtful.
 
“I wonder, was Rinoa, like, his first?
 
“How should I know?  I never went to Balamb.”  He wouldn’t have been around to hear all the gossip that was wielded like a ninja weapon among the student body, and it was just weird to think about it, like putting ‘sex’ and ‘parents’ in the same sentence.
 
“I don’t remember seeing him with anyone, but maybe it was before I transferred from Trabia,” Selphie mused aloud, and Irvine mentally groaned, resigning himself to an hour of a bored Selphie entertaining herself with an examination of Squall’s hitherto unknown, and irrelevant, sex life.  “Well, he and Seifer were always at each other’s throats, but I never really saw him with a girl.”
 
“Maybe he likes a bit of variety,” said Irvine, and Selphie scrunched up her nose.
 
“What, you mean like him and Seifer?  No way.”
 
“Maybe he’s asexual.”  And if that were the case, then maybe Selphie would drop the subject.
 
Blowing a raspberry at him, she said more seriously, “He never did actually tell us why Rinoa left, though.  You think it had anything to do with her being, y’know, a Sorceress?”
 
“I don’t know,” he said quietly, not wanting to be overheard.  “If either of them knew something was wrong with her, though, then she wouldn’t have actually left the Garden.  Better she be around SeeDs who can handle themselves than civilians.”
 
“Yeah, true,” Selphie muttered.  “Hyne damn it.”
 
The curl in her hair was drooping along with her mood.  A little embarrassed to admit it, Irvine said, “I’m…worried.  Too, I mean,” but the awkwardness was worth it when Selphie slid an arm under his coat and around his waist.
 
To prevent the moment from becoming too saccharine, screams suddenly erupted from the crowds nearest the trains accompanied by the screech of tearing, grinding metal.  Immediately Selphie and Irvine were running forward, weapons in hand.  Irvine swore passionately under his breath when he nearly tripped over a woman dashing towards the exits in the stream of panicked civilians. 
 
There was another wave of screams and then the unmistakable sound of meat hitting the ground.  By the time they got to the tracks, several half-occupied train cars had been twisted into an unrecognizable mess of steel and splintered wood, broken bodies scattered through the wreckage.  Irvine spun around, looking for an explanation as to what the hell had just happened.
 
Where is he?
 
It was Rinoa’s voice, if her larynx had been surgically replaced with a broken violin.  There was a quality to it that had the potential to be heartbreakingly beautiful but instead grated like a fork scraping a plate, reverberating in their chests, their heads.  Irvine wasn’t sure if he was hearing it with his ears or his mind and he gritted his teeth, ignoring the way his eyes started watering.
 
Where is he?
 
Who? Irvine wondered wildly as Selphie yelled, “Jenova, right?  Come out and try again, I wanna know if you have tentacles.”
 
Of course it was Jenova, and oh shit, he knew that there was going to be a world of hurt in his near future.  But when Jenova appeared, it wasn’t the flailing eldritch horror he’d been expecting from Strife’s description but plain, human Rinoa, still in her work clothes as she picked her way over the wreckage with all the imperial grace of a princess.  There was a snide joke in there somewhere, Irvine just knew it, except most princesses weren’t possessed by aliens and didn’t look at loved ones like they were something to be crushed under her boots.  His glove creaked as he tightened his grip on Exeter.
 
You believe you can kill a god?
 
Not really, Irvine thought, but there were worse ways to die than going out in a blaze of futile, heroic glory.  The retorts of Exeter’s sudden stream of bullets and Selphie’s summoning of Carbuncle were nearly drowned out by the continued panic in the rest of the train station, which was abruptly cut off as a wave of compressed power swept aside the bullets and through the rest of the station.  The people that hadn’t yet managed to escape instantly dropped dead to the ground in ringing silence.
 
“Oh fuck,” Irvine moaned softly as Carbuncle hurriedly cast Shell on them and ran squealing back to the ether.
 
The next few minutes of his life were a blur of sound and magic and the warmth of Exeter’s barrel beneath his fingers, Selphie yelling and fierce at his side.  Jenova’s magic pummeled at their swiftly waning protection until Irvine’s Shell shattered like sugar glass and an icicle grazed his side, so cold it seared, and Selphie suddenly went down with a sharp cry and too much blood spattering the station floor to be healthy.  Irvine immediately dropped to his knees at her side, and through the haze of pain Irvine could’ve sworn he saw tears on Rinoa’s face.
 
 
“I – “
 
Cloud’s voice choked on a moan when Sephiroth pulled him upright from the bed, Cloud’s legs falling open over Sephiroth’s thighs.  There was a hand spread between his shoulder blades and another gripping one of his hips so tightly it was going to be painful wearing his stiff uniform belt tomorrow, and he had to scramble for balance by wrapping his arms around Sephiroth’s shoulders.  His fingers twined themselves through long hair as Sephiroth – as he –
 
“Cloud.”
 
“Do you love me, Cloud?”
 
“I – “
 
“Oi, Cloud!”
 
Nibelheim’s winters were always so cold.
 
He jerked awake and nearly fell off the chair in which he’d apparently managed to fall asleep, head pillowed on his forearms.  He discretely tried to wipe away the wetness on his cheek before realizing it wasn’t drool at all but a couple tears.  Oh boy, said Zack as Cloud took a moment to remember he wasn’t in the Nibelheim inn but one of the guest quarters in Balamb Garden, that it was a pleasant early-morning breeze coming in through a partially open window and not a freezing one.
 
“Cloud, are you still alive in there or do I need the doc to call a time of death?”
 
Back popping as he straightened, he automatically checked Ultima (propped within reach against the nearest wall) and opened the door, taking a step back as Zell, ear pressed to said door, toppled inside.
 
“Hi,” grinned Zell from the floor.  “Squall wanted to make sure everyone’s ready to leave in like fifteen minutes.  He hasn’t heard from Irvine or Selphie yet, but I mean, we’re just as likely to find Rinoa in a city full of Jenova-monsters before it’s too late, right?”
 
“It’s always too late,” Cloud muttered under his breath as he let the door hiss close again, and Zack said, Dear gods, kiddo, you sound like you’re worried about missing your period.
 
(Zell heard the mutter as he got back to his feet and thought back to earlier that morning, when Squall had strode into the commander’s office where he and Quistis were waiting.  When Quistis asked, So what did you find out, Squall had given them a long thoughtful look and replied, We can trust him.  Which had nearly floored Zell, who’d been pretty convinced that Squall and Cloud acted like two porcupines forced into close quarters with one another.)
 
“Rough night?” Zell asked lightly.
 
“You could say that,” Cloud said neutrally, and relaxed a little when Zell went on, “I think we’ll just go straight to the Ragnarok, the mechanics have finished all their doo-hickey things.”
 
Swinging Ultima into place on his back, Cloud followed Zell into the hallway.  That an experienced mercenary was willing to ever-so-casually turn his back towards Cloud didn’t go unnoticed or, on some level, unappreciated.  “Does it take that long for maintenance?”
 
“Well, Ragnarok’s pretty damn expensive, you know?  She’s the fastest ship we’ve got.”
 
Quistis was already waiting for them in the hangar, sitting on the entrance ramp with her legs crossed at the knee and a stack of what looked like the Estharian reports on her lap.  “I thought we’d look these over again on the way,” she said as Cloud and Zell approached.  She looked up, paused, and tilted her head slightly.  “If you scribbled on your face with black marker and slicked your hair back a little,” she told Cloud, “you two might be able to pass as twins.”
 
Zell scowled at the insult to his totally tough and manly tattoos and stomped into the airship.
 
“Leonhart?” Cloud demanded.
 
“He’ll be here in a few minutes.”  Her smile faded.  “He’s been up all night waiting for Selphie and Irvine to call in, but there still hasn’t been a single word.  It’s possible they just got held up somewhere.”
 
No one was taking bets on that.  She shrugged helplessly and Cloud wished he knew what to say to reassure her.  ‘They’re not important enough to her, Jenova probably would’ve killed them quickly’?
 
Zell was at the Ragnarok’s controls and was explaining to a disinterested and increasingly nauseous Cloud the basics of piloting when Leonhart finally arrived precisely one minute after eight o’clock.  He was visibly tenser than usual, which made Zack wonder how the guy didn’t snap his own spine in half and hey, Cloud, do you think there might be a sexy little masseuse somewhere in this Garden?
 
“Any word?” Quistis asked immediately, and Leonhart said, “No.  I’ve given Xu clearance to all secure channels and she’ll contact us if Selphie or Irvine report in.  Zell, take us to Dollet.”
 
“Aye-aye, Captain,” Zell saluted without enthusiasm.  There was a moment in which the airship lurched and took Cloud’s stomach with it.
 
“Strife,” Leonhart said sharply, motioning for Cloud to follow him towards a window away from the other two.  Cloud did so silently, bracing himself against the wall and crossing his arms with a level stare while Leonhart gripped the metal windowsill and leaned forward, head hanging between his shoulders.
 
“Strife,” he said again, then more quietly, “Cloud.  There’s no hope, is there?”
 
His lips were set in a hard line, expression bordering on haggard.  This is what happens when we send children to war, Sephiroth murmured, and Zack said, This is what they did to us, too.
 
“You know I had to kill Sephiroth,” Cloud said finally.  Leonhart – well, let’s be fair, Cloud supposed wryly, it was ‘Squall’ now – looked at him from the corner of his eyes.
 
“He was important to you.”  As something more than just a commanding officer, Squall didn’t say.
 
“Yes.”
 
Squall’s quiet laugh was unpleasant to hear.


chapter 9 || main post || ...

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Comments {17}

Asuka Kureru

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from: askerian
date: Sep. 17th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
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Woo! I love this fic, so happy you updated. The scene with Seifer and Vincent was neat, especially that flashback to Turk!Vince, and I don't usuallu care much about Irvine or Selphie but I really enjoyed that scene as well. omg dun dun dunnnnn!! D:

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Jukebox Hound

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from: jukeboxhound
date: Sep. 17th, 2011 08:04 pm (UTC)
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In the original fic I'd been trying not to erase characters just because fewer people cared about them (even me) and focus on the few fandom favorites, so I'm really happy to hear that you at least enjoyed that bit. XD

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Britnie

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from: kannachan27
date: Sep. 17th, 2011 03:49 am (UTC)
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Oh, gosh. My heart. Should I do favorite lines? Maybe just a few.

and suddenly the vampire looked a few years younger, hair cropped short, red cloak replaced with a neat business suit. Valentine raised a handheld device to his mouth and hissed, “Valentine to Turk base, target eliminated – “ and then whatever had cracked was slipped back into place and Seifer was looking at the vampire version again.
dsfjkl; I LOVE SEIFER'S HALLUCINATIONS. not kidding. And that he's totally gobsmacked at sexy!Turk!Vincent makes it even better. <3

It was Rinoa’s voice, if her larynx had been surgically replaced with a broken violin. There was a quality to it that had the potential to be heartbreakingly beautiful but instead grated like a fork scraping a plate, reverberating in their chests, their heads.
I love this description so much. I've always gotten the feeling that Jenova has the possibility to be gorgeous, but everything is so wrong about her it's the opposite. (and i love 'heartbreakingly beautiful' as a description. it's my favorite, probably.)

Nibelheim’s winters were always so cold.
that whole scene, really, but that line sealed the deal for me. Oh, Cloud. Squall and Cloud acted like two porcupines forced into close quarters with one another</i>
wait, what? run that by me again? That's a HILARIOUS mental image, by the way. Giggle-fit inducing. If, you know, it wasn't so serious. Ah, Zell.

BUT. MY FAVORITE LINE EVER. OF THIS CHAPTER. FOR SURE.
This is what happens when we send children to war, Sephiroth murmured, and Zack said, This is what they did to us, too.
BWAAAAA, MY HEART. It has been crushed. Ground into dust. No hope of returning. <////////3 thank you for your gorgeous writing. <3

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Jukebox Hound

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from: jukeboxhound
date: Sep. 17th, 2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
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In my head Jenova is one of those things that's pretty to look at but for some reason gives you the creeps, like originally you're all OH HEY YOU'RE AWESOME AND LET'S PARTY and before you know it you're destroying the world because she made it make so much sense. To me it justified how she's able to 'seduce' some people (Hojo, Sephiroth, though the latter's case is more complicated) and utterly horrify others.

Ahaha, I was thinking that Squall and Cloud are both so prickly in their own ways that they can't help but poke at each other just by sharing air. I hope that explains it.

Seriously, I know one of the reasons to make characters young in games and anime and whatnot is to appeal to a younger audience, but Christ, sending kids out to conquer nations or in huge Gundams or training to be assassins or whatever is just. Gah. So yeah. Wtf, ShinRa, Gardens.

Eep, thanks. :')

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Britnie

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from: kannachan27
date: Sep. 18th, 2011 12:24 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I like that a lot more than them just being crazy for the sake of being crazy. ...though, Hojo is a different case than Sephiroth, haha. She gives me the creeps.

I understood what you meant, but just the way that you wrote it was hilarious to me! ...and I might have pictured them like that, too.

asdjfkl they're just KIDS and they're saving the world all over the place! I've never done anything quite so awesome. And it makes me feel strange, having crushes on high school-aged kids in anime/manga/videogames. BUT THEY'RE SO AWESOME... and most of the time end up acting way more adult than the 20+year olds that I hang out with at college, haha.

You're welcome! <3

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aka Silverglass

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from: razziecat
date: Sep. 17th, 2011 06:04 am (UTC)
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YAY, another chapter!! Yessss!

I totally love the way you weave snarky sarcasm, dry humor and soul-rending grief together. This story is so dark, and so intimate. And I love the way you write Vincent.

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Jukebox Hound

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from: jukeboxhound
date: Sep. 17th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
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Ha, thanks. It's hard to be all THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS, GUYS without laughing at it which makes for some interesting times IRL.

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zeffy_amethyst

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from: zeffy_amethyst
date: Sep. 17th, 2011 08:50 am (UTC)
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Ah, Seifer. Never change. XD I wonder if Cid could have been a great-great-great-great grandfather to Seifer.

And sweet baby Jesus, Jenova. Why Selphie and Irvine? Why? T_T

Cloud! <3 You grumpy, awkward boy how I adore you.

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Jukebox Hound

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from: jukeboxhound
date: Sep. 17th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
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I bet Shera's genes finally just went, "You know what? Fine," and settled for giving Seifer some awesome practical talent with tools and weapons. Idk.

Pfff, Cloud. And Squall. They're difficult because if they had their way they'd just sit there in stoic silence and the plot would never progress. /oversimplification

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Anyssia

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from: anyssia
date: Sep. 17th, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC)
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You ass-raping motherfucking dickwad, keep those fucking tentacles to yourself – “
Seifer would’ve done Cid proud.

xD Loved the 'ass-raping...' ! ;p

Shoving a fresh clip into Death Penalty, Vincent slid like a shadow over the wall and came up behind Seifer,
Btw, what's gonna happen when he uses all his ammo? 'coz I'm thinking that his gun is kinda a century outdated...

if Vincent had been any less of a strictly self-controlled and classy person he might have rolled his eyes.
Personally, I call that being a motherfucking ice queen ;D

“I can lift you up if you want,” Irvine volunteered. His magnanimous gesture had nothing to do with her short yellow dress, no sir.
“Down, boy,” she snorted, still balancing on the tips of her toes. “You’d have more luck with Squally.”
That was…not a mental image Irvine was prepared for.

Ooooh, SHINY, WAAAANT!

The description of Jenova!Rinoa is... WOW O.O so beautiful and deadly! (and the combat scene was heartbreaking)

Cloud wished he knew what to say to reassure her. ‘They’re not important enough to her, Jenova probably would’ve killed them quickly’?
You've got to love it when dying quickly is the best option, compared to staying alive. alive/dead? noooo, better dead/not quite dead xD

mmmh, I'm getting more and more interested in this story! ^^


Edited at 2011-09-17 08:00 pm (UTC)

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Jukebox Hound

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from: jukeboxhound
date: Sep. 17th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
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Now I feel like I need to write more tentacle!sex.

...That's a good question. Weapons synthesis upgrade bullshit is a go~

There's an Irvine/Squall/Selphie fic out there by....Paxnirvana, I think? that I remember really liking some years ago, and this is coming from an otherwise faithful Seifer/Squall shipper. If you're interested.

And I now have the song "Stayin' Alive" stuck in my goddamn head. Also simultaneously Monty Python and the Holy Grail ("I'm not dead yet!") and Princess Bride ("He's only mostly dead"). Because half my conversation IRL tends to be crack movie quotations.

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Anyssia

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from: anyssia
date: Sep. 18th, 2011 05:08 pm (UTC)
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Oooooh, tentacle!sex, shiny! ♥.♥

Seeing as they found antiques weapons all over the planet during the game and played/battled with them without batting an eye, I don't think it would be such a problem for Vincent, even centuries after the original timeline ^^

I never really thought about this pairing, apart from the automatic 'hum, nice, very nice view', but I think I'm going to check it out, thanks for the rec! :)

Oh the mix! 'He's only mostly dead' Priceless! xD

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aka Silverglass

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from: razziecat
date: Sep. 19th, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)
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You know what strikes me as the funniest bit? All this time has gone by, however the hell many centuries, and poor Vincent is still being called "vampire". I can picture him just going, "You know what? Screw this" and then chomping someone's neck just to shut them up.

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Jukebox Hound

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from: jukeboxhound
date: Sep. 20th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC)
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...Not making a note of this for later crack, no sir, not me.

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aka Silverglass

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from: razziecat
date: Sep. 22nd, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
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Oh please do. ;)

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amarissia

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from: amarissia
date: Sep. 20th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
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Oh, I was so worried youd forgotten about this story! *hugsa* Still the best crossover of all games.

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Jukebox Hound

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from: jukeboxhound
date: Sep. 20th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
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Hee, no, I haven't. *toes the ground*

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