An Angels Pain
Chapter 7: Truth
Cloud blinked his eyes open, the sun piercing through the curtains, stinging his sleep-dazed eyes. He yawned and stretched, smiling as he curled himself against the warm body next to him. Vincent slept soundly, Cloud watching his breathing, almost mesmerized as the ebon-haired beauty slowly inhaled and exhaled. He pushed a soft strand of his dark hair out of his face, his fingers gently brushing Vincent’s flawless skin. Vincent stirred slightly, letting out a soft groan.
"Hey there….." Cloud whispered. Vincent opened his crimson eyes, grinning.
"That was wonderful….." Cloud continued, nipping at Vincent’s neck.
"Aah….." Vincent let out a soft moan as Cloud played his lips along Vincent’s long neck.
Cloud grinned into Vincent’s warm skin. "Wanna go again?"
Vincent out right laughed. "I think we should get dressed. I’m sure the rest of the group is interested in how you are doing." Vincent explained, returning the nips.
"Oh…alright. But first, who’s that?"
Cloud pointed at the foot of the bed. Vincent craned his neck to see what Cloud was referring to.
There, standing at the foot of the bed, was a tall, well-built and rather imposing man. He was dressed in limited armor, his chest uncovered, and his long golden hair fell to the small of his back. His amber eyes were narrowed, staring directly at Vincent.
Vincent formed a slight scowl on his lips. "May I help you?" He asked, perturbed that this stranger was bold enough to enter the Villa, more or less, the bedroom, without permission.
The stranger cocked his head to the side a bit, his eyes scanning Vincent carefully. A small smile twitched on his lips.
"So…..you’re the one….." The stranger replied cryptically, completely ignoring Vincent’s question.
Vincent stared at the man for a moment. "What?"
"Vincent, who is he?" Cloud insisted, gripping Vincent’s hand and giving it a small squeeze. Vincent returned the gesture then turned his head to regard his lover.
"I don’t know who he is….." Vincent replied, shrugging.
"Let’s see how you turned out." The stranger interrupted, raising his palm into the air. Vincent snapped his head around as a golden, ribbon-like energy floated from the man’s out-stretched hand. The energy danced itself around Vincent.
"What is th-" His plea was cut short when the golden energy wound itself around Vincent’s form, suffocating him as the energy thrusted him into the air. Vincent choked back his scream, struggling vainly against the supernatural bindings that held him.
"Angel, release thy powers under the command of Gabriel." The stranger commanded. Vincent blinked as his body grew an iridescent white, his body following the command of Gabriel, and not his own. His translucent wings burst from his back, splattering blood all over the bed and room. Cloud winced as tiny droplets of blood kissed his face. He didn’t bother wiping the stain away, he was too engrossed in Vincent’s transformation.
Vincent’s wings stretched and folded subconsciously, though Vincent himself had fallen unconscious due to the transformation, Gabriel’s spell holding him aloft.
"Such beauty for a mortal….." Gabriel commended quietly, summoning a portal and guiding Vincent’s body into it.
Cloud snapped out of surprise when he saw the stranger trying to take Vincent away.
"Vincent? What…..what have you done to him!?" Cloud screamed at the archangel, fury burning in his sapphire eyes.
Gabriel shook his head, his golden-hued hair tossing about. "I did nothing, foolish mortal. This was the doing of another of my kind. Now I suggest you forget about this fledgling here, he is no longer of your concern."
"Fuck you. Release Vincent." Cloud scowled, ripping Ultima Weapon off the wall and holding it up in an offensive position.
Gabriel let out a soft chuckle. "How altruistic." Gabriel waved his hand, sending and invisible force to slam Cloud against the far wall.
Cloud groaned. "Please….." he begged. "I lost Tifa…..I can’t lose Vincent as well….."
Gabriel walked up to Cloud, stroking his cheek. "You poor mortal. You’ve gone through so much, haven’t you? The death of a wife and now the loss of your new lover. Poor, pathetic human. So easily deterred by emotions, by love. Weak."
"I’ve had enough of your whining….." Gabriel scowled, sending another energy burst into Cloud’s suspended form. The young swordsman fell to the ground, breathing heavily. The last thing he saw was Gabriel following Vincent’s body into portal before he passed out.
Cloud moaned quietly as he felt a moist towel tend to his forehead. He fluttered his eyes open to see a strange man with green hair tending to him.
"Wah…..What…..happened?" Cloud stuttered, feeling the pain in his muscles.
"Shh. Be still." The stranger replied.
Cloud shook his head. "Vincent….." His senses suddenly snapped into focus. Anger burned in his eyes as he grabbed the stranger by the shirt collar and pulling him dangerously close. "Where’s Vincent!?"
The stranger smiled, gripping Cloud’s hands and with a strength a man of his stature shouldn’t have, removed Cloud’s grasp. "Lay back, Cloud."
Cloud sighed, sensing the man’s hidden strength. It wouldn’t be prudent to pick a fight with this man. At least not yet. "Who are you?"
"My name is Arios. I’m a friend of Vincent’s."
Arios reached over and dabbed Cloud’s forehead again. "You’ve been out for a little while." Arios chided, a cheerful tone coating his voice.
"You never answered my question. Where’s Vincent?"
Arios sighed. "Vincent is in Heaven’s Labyrinth."
"Heaven? So he’s safe?"
Arios loosed a small chuckle. "Far from it, boy. Heaven’s Labyrinth is no haven. Regardless of its name, the cursed place is a torture worthy of Hell….."
Cloud looked at him curiously. "How so?"
"Heaven’s Labyrinth is just as it sounds, a labyrinth. Traps litter the place and demons enslaved to high archangel’s scour the area for food, usually the victims too weak to fight them off. For those who do manage to get past the demons and traps, they must somehow navigate their way through the twists and turns of the maze. No one ever escapes without the help of a high archangel."
"Archangels? Is…..is Vincent an angel."
Arios smiled. "He is. Although he wasn’t born that way. Another angel made him that way."
"Vincent wished to be rid of the demon Chaos, so he sought the help of an angel. This angel banished Chaos from Vincent’s body. This angered Chaos greatly, and he vowed revenge, taking it out on your friend, Tifa.
"It wasn’t necessary to change Vincent into an angel, but the angel had spent so much time with Vincent that the angel developed deep feelings for the mortal. So, he gave his gift of angelhood to Vincent, in hopes of gaining…..something….."
Cloud sat back, processing the information. "So…..why is he in a place like Heaven’s Labyrinth?"
"Angels are allowed to change mortals into angels, but not children of Hell….."
"Children of Hell?"
"Vincent was born with the demon Chaos, damning him a child of Hell."
Cloud gripped his head. Vincent, an angel? How was this possible? Damn it, I don’t care, I have to get him back…..
"Arios, we have to save him….."
"I agree. But how do you suggest we do this?"
"I don’t know…..Arios?"
"How is it you know so much?"
Arios smiled. "I figured you’d ask sooner or later. It is because I am an angel, an archangel, actually."
Cloud’s mouth fell slightly agape, staring at Arios. Arios grinned, gently knocking Cloud’s jaw back into place. "Don’t gawk, mortal, its impolite."
"Could you take me to Heaven’s Labyrinth?" Cloud asked.
"I’m afraid not. Mortals cannot enter the labyrinth."
"Well…..can you turn me into an angel, like the one did to Vincent?"
Arios sighed, lowering his eyes. "I…..I’m afraid I cannot do that either. An angel can give angelhood but once in its lifetime…..and I have already given my gift to another….."
Cloud’s eyes widened slightly. "You…..you were that bastard angel who got Vincent into this mess in the first place!" Cloud reasoned. He looked around and spotted Ultima Weapon where he had dropped it from before. He leapt out of his bed and picked up the fallen sword, holding it up.
"You’ll pay for this….." Cloud hissed.
"Cloud…..please think about this….." Arios pleaded, standing and turning to face him.
"Shut up!" Cloud screamed as he raised Ultima Weapon in the air, meaning to split Arios’ skull in two.
"Stop!" Arios commanded, raising his hand and freezing Cloud’s movements.
"I hate angels….." Cloud muttered, realizing his paralyzed body was no natural occurrence.
"That’s not very nice….." Arios grinned, walking up to Cloud’s frozen form.
"Put me down, Arios….."
"You’re in no position to make commands. But I will let you down so long as you promise not to try and harm me….."
Cloud pursed his lips, remaining silent.
"Fine, I can go save Vincent myself….."
"No! Wait, I won’t hurt you."
Arios smirked, releasing his spell. Cloud fell to the ground with a resounding thud. He growled as he picked himself up. "This is all your fault….."
"A bit testy aren’t we?" Arios said cheerfully.
"Why don’t you fuck off or something….." Cloud growled, landing himself on the bed.
"Because, I’m not in a fuckable mood. It’s best I leave now and try to devise a plan to get Vincent out of there."
"If this is your fault, how is it he is getting punished?"
"We’re both to be punished. I’m just harder to catch."
"Cocky bastard. I’m coming with you."
"And just how do you plan to do that?"
Cloud leaned back, formulating a plan. "Can dead people enter the labyrinth."
"…..yes….." Arios replied at length. "But you aren’t dead."
"Brilliant observation. But I can become dead….."
"I have to….."
Arios glared at the mortal for a moment, then his visage softened to a look of a confusion and even admiration.
"You love him that much."
Cloud nodded. "I’ll do anything to get him back. Even kill myself."
"I can’t let you do that."
"You don’t have a choice. I will die."
"No, I can’t let you take your own life. You’ll be sent to Hell and that will help neither you nor Vincent."
Arios thought for a moment then summoned his saber to his side. He waved it back and forth a bit before resting its point in the direction of Cloud.
"Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?"
Cloud nodded and before he could offer a word of hesitation, Arios thrust the angel-made blade deep into Cloud’s heart. The blade vibrated within him as the seemed to seep from his would and meld into the blade.
"What…..is…..this…..?" Cloud managed to gasp out.
"A life stealing blade." Arios replied simply. He no longer held a smirk on his face and, while keeping his look of complete stoicism, gave his saber a quick twist, eliciting a scream of agony from Cloud’s lips.
Before Cloud’s life was completely taken, Arios whispered one last thing to him. "You know, when I saw you and Vincent make love, I wanted nothing more than to thrust my sword deep into your heart….."
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