Sephiroth turned to the boarded windows of the mansion as if he could see through them and see this figure that claimed if Sephiroth would but see her appearance, then questions would be answered. He doubted that. Anything that was a project of Hojo's only brought more questions...there were never answers. Everyone was always looking for answers. Where are you?
Shekinah remained silent as her green eyes scanned the mansion, hunting down Sephiroth's exact location in her own mind before she leaned heavily against the gate again. She shivered at the cold breeze and the blood that covered her right side, having to fight for consciousness at this point. The gate... to the mansion... help me... She knew he would come to at least see her and perhaps see just how nearly identical they were in appearance.
He stalked to the window and looked through a break in the boards. His keen sight immediately honed on a figure against the twisted, burnt gates that indicated the grounds of the Nibelheim Mansion. Silver hair, keen green eyes, that glowed like Sephiroth's own, stared back at him..and there was blood, everywhere.
Shekinah's eyes immediately focused on Sephiroth in the window, and she turned herself move to see him, lifting a hand to indicate that she saw him just as he saw her... but only a fraction of him. Her mind told of his location shift and his attention. Slowly, she grabbed one of the bars and hauled herself to her feet, shaking her head a bit so that bangs shifted back into place and her appearance was fully seen, though she continued to clutch her side. I can walk no further, big brother... help me?
Sephiroth almost twitched at the words "big brother". What had Hojo done? What was this that had dragged itself in front of this mansion who looked so like him it was...it was almost...it was unreal. And yet, if Sephiroth himself had not once lived such a very strange life and come back from the dead, things unreal in themselves, how was he to deny that this was happening? He disappeared from the window and pushed open the door, his sword was laid against the wall, for if he was to carry her he couldn't have his weapon with him, and besides he had enough power to not need the cold steel to defend him. Why do you call me big brother?
Shekinah casted her eyes to the ground and shifted in the black leather corset vest, the material rubbing on the wounds that she had received from Jenova in their enounter. She was forced to lift her right leg to keep weight from it, the ankle swollen and blackened from a struggle, her arms cut up along with her legs, but it was only the serious wound on her right side that bothered her the most. She turned her eyes back to the sound of a door opening, cool gaze settling on Sephiroth and she pushed herself up to full height, only three inches shorter than Sephiroth, but the build and skin tone was the same. You were created before me, so you are older than I. That makes you big brother, does it not?
I am Sephiroth. He felt that was sufficient enough tone to say "You will call me that, and not 'big brother'." He walked down the flagstones that lead to the gate and reached forward to pull one side of the gate back; his arms ready to catch the woman when she would inevitably fall. Her wounds looked horrid, but if she was his...sister, she would survive if she was as strong as he.
Shekinah watched Sephiroth approach with the same sort of outward apathetic coldness on her fine features, long silver hair blowing with the winds of Nibelheim. You will always be my big brother She managed to remain on her feet when the gate was pulled open and, finally, the coldness disappeared into a grateful small smile on her lips. She limped the last few steps to get to Sephiroth and stopped in front of him, noting just how close they did actually look, like twins, just with a different gender attached to each. She reached up with a shaky hand that caused the golden bracelets to sing soft chilling music and cupped the side of his face gently. "You are taller than the reports I've read," she said softly before leaning forward against his greater weight.
Sephiroth blinked, his arms still held out before him as this woman did not fall as he had thought, but leaned against his chest. They looked like mirror images of the other, but for the obvious difference in gender. He froze, staring forward, and not even yet bringing his arms to his sides. "Taller?" He dropped the unspoken communication now that she was before him.
Shekinah smiled a bit and pulled back so that she could once again stare into Sephiroth's face, cocking her head to the side at his expression. "Yes... you appear to be three inches taller than I, but I read that we were identical in height," she said and seemed to appraise him for health and appearance. "You must have grown when no one was looking." She cupped his cheek again, hoping to draw his identical cat-like eyes to her. "I am Shekinah, a child of the heavens... or so my name means."
Sephiroth reached up and brought her hand away from his cheek. "You are injured. Come inside before we cause a scene. I am not popular. The reports told you this too?"
Shekinah limped the last step so that she was close to his frame, leaning against him while still holding the wound on her side. She could go no further without his aid. "You attempted to become a god and brought down a powerful spell upon the world. I watched from the East as the sky was bathed red with the blood that would be spilled from the Meteor, and the screams of the planet echoed from corner to corner..." she said before sighing heavily.
Sephiroth's lips twitched into a smile that could have said he was bitter, or amused, or remembering. "And why is it you know me, when I do not know you...Shekinah?" He tried her name. It seemed a name so similar and connected to his own. He wanted to deny that they were related, but he would be a fool to think otherwise. Even her mind when they had talked seemed, attuned somehow. He began to help her towards the mansion lest someone see them outside. Rumors of Sephiroth being alive would be bad enough, but if rumors began that there were two, it would be worse.
Shekinah leaned against Sephiroth as she was helped towards the mansion again, not resisting at all since she knew the consequences if they were seen. She hopped along on one foot to ease the pain in her injured ankle, but each hop sent a jarring pain through her side, but she suffered silently instead of making any complaint about it. "I know you only because you let yourself be known to me. Reports, newspapers, television... you were the god of a man made by ShinRa Inc. I was created to stand opposite to you, in the shadows, unknown, and untouched by men." She was thankful when the cutting wind was eased as they entered the mansion.
"Where have you spent all this time in the shadows?" Sephiroth grabbed his sword as they went past the door, and with a thought it was easy to close it behind them, safe within the permanent twilight of the mansion's upper floors. He concentrated, casting a strong cure spell on her wounds.
Shekinah smiled mysteriously and enjoyed the warmth of the cure spell that made the aches of her wounds ease enough where she could ease her mental walls against the pain, though she continued to lean on Sephiroth for aid. "Many places. I was moved frequently, but... I lived a considerable time in a small town to the east, until the reactor exploded and then I was moved under Midgar to learn the ways of the world." She was now able to put weight on her healling ankle again, taking some weight off of Sephiroth's form. "You found out about me so late in your life?"
Sephiroth gave her a look. "Is it not obvious?"
Shekinah laughed softly before standing on her own two feet again, turning to face Sephiroth before gingerly rearranging his jacket back into place. "You are very handsome, big brother. Shinra's greatest bachelor for nearly seven years, wasn't it?"
A very slight crease appeared between his brows at this very sudden change in conversation. Best to ignore it. "Who moved you to these places and what did you learn?"
Shekinah smoothed down the collar of Sephiroth's jacket, making sure that all looked right on him like she had seen when he was the Great General of Shinra. She adjusted the belt around her neck a bit and arranged the vest more comfortably so the wound on her side could heal properly. "To the little town in the East, a man I knew only as Gast. He was kind. Another man named Hojo came to move me to Midgar," she said simply, as if the information meant nothing to her at all, just names in her mind. "Who made your jacket? It is flattering on you."
Sephiroth should have known it was Gast and Hojo. "Do you know what happened to those men?" He frowned at the sudden preening, it was a word he hadn't thought he'd ever used before. He stepped away from Shekinah to put some distance between them. "Just because I may be your brother...does not mean you should be so casual."
Shekinah cocked her head to the side at the sudden distance. "Do you plan on killing me then? With a blade of that size and your skill level, it will be easy for you. I have no weapon," she stated and folded her hands behind her back, tapping her feet on the floor so the many bracelets jingled a soft sweet tune into the mansion air, foreign in song but beautiful and enchanting nonetheless. "If you wish to kill me, I cannot stop you. Do it if you feel the need."
Sephiroth's grip tightened slightly on his blade, but not because he was thinking of killing her, only because he did not know where this question had come from. Oh, yes....he was Sephiroth, and he had been trained to kill. "No. I do not wish to kill you. Nor do I feel any need. It is that I do not know you. And your manner is as if you have been gone for some trip, when in fact we are siblings...as you claim...and have never met until you show up bleeding at this mansion. I know how you found me. But who attacked you?"
Shekinah brushed long silver hair back over her shoulder and watched Sephiroth out of the corner of her eye before her expression slipped into an unreadable mask. Not even her eyes gave away her thoughts or feelings to Sephiroth, and her body language was completely stilled. "Book 5 under the origins of the Sephiroth project and analysis of genetic markers for Jenova cells and mitochondrial DNA... half of the book is fake. Open from the back and knock on the last page in each corner and proof of our genetic similarities is there in the secret compartment." She took a step from him and touched her slightly wounded side, the wound now tender and itchy as it healed over fully. "The Sharp-spoken one came for me."
Sephiroth turned to look at her then, the same shade of silver falling over his shoulder, as she mentioned the secrets in the book. He had read Book 5 many times. It irked him that he had not found this secret on his own. With the mention of the "Sharp-spoken one"...he knew who it was...Her. He said the name in his mind and it seemed to ring with the intensity of his emotion like a bell hit too hard.
Shekinah only nodded her head to the sound of Sephiroth's voice reverbrating around her, walls blocking most of the sounds and hiding her thoughts from him. She lifted her hands above her head and sent a jingle down her arms, shifting her feet in a unique pattern that played a different song on the mansion before she suddenly stopped halfway through the song. "She is coming... for two men. One has a no mind to repel an attack and the other... a shattered soul of many voices screaming together.... She hunts on this night."
Sephiroth's eyes suddenly flashed with a bright glow of green and he froze, his mind's shields slipping into place and locking, and yet he opened himself up and sought out to feel of Her mind to sense if she was close. "She comes for Vincent Valentine, who has no way to repel an attack, and she comes for Cloud Strife, whose mind is shattered."
Shekinah again merely nodded her head and lifted an arm to her face, gazing at the many reflections that bounced back from the bracelets on her arms, the glow of her eyes forming a picture in the air just above that Sephiroth could see. The image was of a blonde sitting on a couch receiving a needle from a dark-haired woman, face set in an emotionless haze before shifting to a dark-haired man with wings staring at a coffin. "Set in madness, they cannot see her. They are open for her words, slipping from a grip on reality into darkness... where she is waiting with open arms to welcome them." She dropped her arm so the image slipped away again. "She is coming fast and she will hit hard."
Sephiroth studied the images, memorizing what he saw of the needle and Lockhart and Strife, Vincent he talked with occasionally and knew he had those wings as Chaos slowly began to win its battle in the man's mind. "How do you know this?"
Shekinah looked at Sephiroth and looked up, pointing to the heavens above. "The stars of destiny are on the move, guided by Fate's hand into proper position for the time of meeting before clashing sides." She looked at Sephiroth and smiled faintly. "The stars of the shattered child and the winged man are moving together towards the darkness and they shall reach it at the same time... out of reach."
Sephiroth shook his head, his hair fluttering down his back, all in a motion that seemed to say he did not approve of her dramatic words. "And you have come to help us kill Her?" He glanced towards the stairway that led the way to the second floor room with its secret entrance to the mansion basement. "She wants them because I have failed. She told me this."
Shekinah watched Sephiroth silently for a moment before looking up at the rooftop again, seeming like she could see right passed it to the skies above and the fading stars of the morning. "Kill? What good will it to kill a creature that is evolutionarily advanced? I am a pacifist, brother. I do not kill nor raise my hand against another," she said softly and looked at Sephiroth's sword again, giving it away clearly just why she could not defend herself against an attack from him or anyone. "And what does she want with them? She thinks little of revenge, I would think."
"You are a pacifist? How is it you were able to escape Her without fighting or being killed?" Sephiroth found it so strange that while he had been created to be a perfection in soldiering and killing, his little sister, Shekinah, had been created to balance that? Why? "She must be killed. She is an abomination."
Shekinah laughed softly and gestured at the wounds that had been all over her body before she raised her hands above her head again, her body lifting from the floor to float a few inches above the floor. "I am, and I merely flew away when her attention shifted briefly. I hide myself from her with my mind, so she could not track me," she said and allowed her bare feet to touch down on the cool stone floor again. "An abomination? To our world perhaps, but she is not from here originally. She must be lonely."
"Does it matter if She is lonely?" Sephiroth frowned and turned away from Shekinah, her display of flying did nothing to impress him since he possessed the same gift, or perhaps curse.
"Did it matter when you were lonely, big brother?" Shekinah asked quietly, stepping over to him before laying her head on the ridge where shoulder met neck. "Are you still lonely?"
Sephiroth frowned and moved away again. He had never been touched by anyone so much before, even as a child he had not experienced whatever action this woman was taking with him. "I am not lonely.”
Shekinah took a small step to recover from Sephiroth moving away from her touch, blinking glowing green eyes at his back before nodding slightly. "So you say," she replied softly. "I heard you when we were small. You hated crying even then...breed to perform the task of SOLDIER General even as a child. Did you meet our parents?"
He felt a ripple of cold seem to slide down his spine as she mentioned she had heard him as a child. It was a time he had thought no one knew of...how it really was for him. Immediately he avoided that she had even spoken such things. "I did meet one of them."
Shekinah folded her hands behind her back and walked around in a small circle, testing her state and noting that she would need to rest for some time to fully recover from the attack she had faced days before. "And what was that parent like? They never held you or I when we were small, especially not when you were upset."
Sephiroth's green eyes hardened and became as cold as the crater he had only escaped from weeks ago. "He was a monster."
Shekinah merely nodded her head, sensing the deep dislike without even having to look at Sephiroth. She reached up and adjusted her vest more comfortably. "Is he the one that made you cry when we were children?"
Sephiroth frowned as he glanced as his sister. "Do you need to bring up such embarrassments from the past?"
Shekinah stopped her pacing and finally looked over at Sephiroth, a smile lighting her features at the look on his face. She walked over to him with long graceful strides, wrapping an arm around his happily. "What does it matter? It is in the past, and shouldn't be embarrassing anymore. But I know you were upset because I was nearby. You didn't get spanked, did you?"
Sephiroth allowed the embrace of his arm only because his thoughts and his eyes were steeled against remembering the past already. The person touching him was distant as the memory returned of crying, always crying, and everyone ignoring him and merely pushing a new button or filling out another form in the lab.
Shekinah watched Sephiroth, noting that he was concentrating on not remembering. She reached up with a hand and brushed her fingers over his smooth cheek, a mirror of her own. "It hurts to remember, but it is even worse to try to forget. What is in the past cannot be run from. It follows you forever. Use the past as a tool to better yourself in the present and future, brother," she said and hugged his arm more tightly, tugging him towards the stairs.
Sephiroth's feet stayed locked to the ground so that he did not even sway as Shekinah tried to draw him towards the stairs. He finally turned to focus on her, staring into eyes so like his own that he could have been facing a mirror. "And what of you sister? Do you remember or forget?"
Shekinah smiled mysteriously at the sight of Sephiroth's eyes on her, nothing being revealed from her body language or eyes as she stopped to watch him in return. "I choose to remember so that I'm not constantly chased by the shadows of the past. There is no moving forward without looking in that direction. If one concentrates on the past because they haven't dealt with it, they are looking back and cannot move forward. Don't you agree?"
"I agree. But I am not looking at the past. That is why I ignore it so it is behind me. I am focused on things of the present and future. I must fix things." He did not know why, but he had to tell her this as if to defend himself. He was changed, he was moving forward, he was different than who he had been while controlled by Her.
Shekinah made a small affirmative noise, clicking her tongue against her teeth as she once again attempted to tug Sephiroth towards the stairs. "But you haven't dealt with the past either. You are closed off, brother. I doubt you would know such positive emotions such as love or trust being as you are... your mind is as tight as a steel drum, unwavering and unwilling to be touched." She smiled and tugged a little more.
Sephiroth finally stepped forward so that he moved with the tug on his arm. "Thank you. I would not have my mind be any other way." A small spark of amusement and pride was now in his expression.
Shekinah giggled softly and reached up to tap Sephiroth's forhead with a finger. "Arrogance will only take away your strength. The Sharp-spoken one can find away to any mind, no matter how well-guarded." She stepped up onto the first stair, evening out their heights completely. "I could get into your mind, I bet, but that is so cruel to enter without acceptance. I could not bring myself to do such a thing to anyone."
"If you entered my mind I would punish you." He spoke this with conviction. "No one enters my mind unless I wish it. You understand?"
Shekinah stopped and cocked her head to the side. "Didn't I just say that I wouldn't, brother? I said that I would enter no one's mind unless it was wanted. I suggest you do the same if you want such respect for your own privacy, hmm?"
"I do not sneak around inside of people's heads." He kept his voice steady, his reaction normal, but inside he could not help the stab of guilt he felt for he had already done such a thing to Cloud Strife.
Shekinah smirked that same knowing smirk that Sephiroth often carried, the expression matching her features as much as his. "Oh, I don't think you so much sneak in that one's head..." she said and began tugging Sephiroth's arm again, trying to draw her brother up the stairs. She changed the subject smoothly. "There is another here? I wish to meet him, brother."
Sephiroth began to step up the stairs his eyes on Shekinah's face and he pondered sparing Vincent Valentine from her presence. He seemd such a gloomy sort and she was the exact opposite. "We shall see if he is willing to talk now."
Shekinah gave a small happy noise and released Sephiroth's wrist entirely, bounding up the stairs merrily on her own. Her bracelets sent up beautiful music as she made her way to the top much faster than Sephiroth and spun happily on one foot, despite her injuries. "I so hope so! I very much wish to meet all of your friends, brother!" She brushed her hair back over her shoulder and waited for Sephiroth to arrive at the top of the stairs.
Sephiroth strode past Shekinah into the bedroom that housed the secret entrance to the basement stairs, he flicked the switch and watched the stone slide aside to reveal the rickety spiral that led into the dark bottom of a house with too many secrets. "He is an ally. I would not say 'friend'."
Shekinah followed along right after her brother, walking lightly over the floors before she looked down the spiral staircase that lead to the basement. It didn't look entirely safe to travel on. "That's because you wouldn't know a friend unless it was stamped on your forehead, brother," she remarked playfully and gave Sephiroth a small shove as she slipped around him again. She looked down and merely bounded down the spiral stairs, not bothering to check for loose boards, her footfalls so light that she didn't stay long enough for a board to move. "Come brother, be merry in your second chance!"
Sephiroth sighed and continued down behind Shekinah, his silver hair slipping back over his shoulders from the motion as he descended. Once down in the cool basement he went forward. "Vincent Valentine may benefit from your cheerfulness and yet I do not think he can smile anymore. Perhaps you should work on him."
Shekinah latched onto Sephiroth's arm when her brother tredded to the bottom, her smile unchanging as they started down the corridor that lead to where Vincent Valentine was. "I will work on you both, brother. There is more than enough of me to go around to men that cannot and refuse to smile. You are my main priority though, since we are twins," she said with a smile. "We are going to have so much fun together! We can find the baby pictures," she announced with a smile.
This time he noticed the latching onto his arm and yet he knew Shekinah was like a leech and would not let go until she wanted to. He strode briskly down the hallway, hoping she could not keep up with his long strides. "You do not need to work on me, Shekinah. I am fine on my own."