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- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children - a trace of memory by Jennifier D. - [Note: There will be spoilers for the FFVII:AC movie in both this fic and this rec.] *happy sigh* I've been waiting for FFVII:AC fic, hoping that it would hit that Sephiroth/Cloud spot that I was developing, but wouldn't push it too far and then along comes Jenn-san who writes this beautiful and haunting piece that drags me into the pairing that much further. The way I could feel Cloud's emotions in this fic, when he looked into Sephiroth's eyes again, when they were fighting, when all that history, all the connection and gravity and aching pain between them swirled around and around, the way something about this fic lingers... it was lovely and came along at exactly the right time. *happy sigh x 2* (References to Sephiroth/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy VII/Final Fantasy VIII - Bandages by Konitsu - It is difficult to explain my affection for this story without resorting to squeaking noises because it was so good. It was one of those all-rounder stories that just... damn, did it hit all the right buttons. Sparkling characterization, lovely writing, genuinely funny humor, plot, gorgeous Sephiroth machinations, gorgeous Cloud angst, brilliant weaving of the two worlds together, and more. Everything about this story makes me burble happily, I don't know if I could pick out any one thing. But I'll try, of course. For starters, the characterization. Oh, god, the characterization. I could actually see and hear these characters, they have all the little touches that make them who they are and yet not devolving into stereotypes--Cloud is angsty and tortured, but he has damned good reason and he's a resilient little bastard. Zack's voice in his head is just absolutely, utterly gorgeous, you can feel his character, his charm and charisma and caring, coming through just in the dialogue. The dynamic between Cloud and Zack is just... awesome. *squees* Sephiroth is actually properly creepy and insane, but still that something to him when dealing with Cloud. And. Oh. God. Vincent. Cid and Vincent and the brilliant subtlty and hints and dialogue and interaction and dynamic and it's just so breathtakingly good.

Then there's the FFVIII side of things and, holy shit, did this story give me an insane love of Zell Dincht. He's bright and funny and adorable and just a bit of a dork, but still such a good fighter, a good friend, and smart and chapter seven (I think it was seven?) had me laughing so hard, I couldn't read for awhile, I just had to turn my face away and cackle. I love him so, so much. And, oh, god, somehow the fic manages to make Squall interesting, even being all broody and shit as he is, he's actually a person, a rather likable one at that, the author does a brilliant job of writing his character, of how he feels about Rinoa, about his Garden, about his life and making the character work. How she plays him off Cloud, how they clash and the interaction is so natural, it's breath-taking. She also makes Rinoa work, giving me even more fondness for the character, not making the Squall/Rinoa relationship perfect, but still very genuine. She even makes Seifer interesting and, god, did I love the interaction with Tifa, who is another brilliantly herself, kind and caring and feeling guilty or angry or happy. I admit, I was a little wary of Tifa-bashing towards the beginning, but the later chapters with her are lovely, so I'm not quibbling. <3

Then you add in that there's actually a plot going on, that the romantic tangles actually tend to work together with the plot or take a back seat to it and the crossover just... it works so well, I can see it so easily, the characters fit together so seamlessly. Now, I admit, the writing started off with just a hint of stiffness, but the only reason I even notice is because the later chapters are so sharp and every chapter just keeps getting better and better. I was literally kicking my feet in excitement by the end of chapter eight and then the end of chapter nine and, god, if I have one complaint about this story, it's that I don't have the next chapter yet! *chews on the furniture in anticipation* Okay, I can forgive a lot from the FF7 fandom now that I have shiny crossover fic. *___* Loved this one. (Sephiroth/Cloud, Squall/Rinoa, some Cid/Vincent, hints of other pairings here and there, none of them are entirely the point of the fic.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Those That Drown by Caroltrue - This story may not be for everyone, I wasn't sure what I was going to think of it as I started in on the first chapter, reading about Cloud being broken and his sanity failing him and only just barely piecing together that this was post-game in a world where Sephiroth had won. But the more I read, the more the story fell into place for me, hit that kink I have for darker, twisted stories, the more it started to actually make sense and somehow become believable to me. The way the flashbacks unfold, so that you see that Cloud didn't just immediately fall apart afterwards, that it was a slow progression, the almost lilting way Sephiroth's insanity comes across, the way it's part twisted love, part creepy, part something almost sweet between two characters who have so much history.

To be honest, it was about halfway through the third chapter that I realized I was nearly vibrating with excitement over the story, the way Cloud is so worn down here, so... so much like a ghost, the way Sephiroth is insane, but you still see shades of who he used to be and who Cloud used to be, but there's still something worthwhile in there. This is not an epic story and it's probably not even finished (though, it doesn't end in a bad place) and I was probably predisposed to like it, being such a big SxC fan, but I thought it was actually rather well-done story about what might have happened if Sephiroth had won. The flashbacks were really great, the ending of the third chapter made my chest twinge, and I think the concept was just... neat. In a dark sort of way. ♥ (Sephiroth/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Behind Closed Doors by Thorne Scratch - I... I... I... I think I almost cried reading this fic. Tears gathering at the corners of my eyes and everything, because I just... Zack just... Sephiroth just... Cloud just... oh, god, I just utterly lost it at so many points in this fic that I had trouble reading through it in one sitting. The summary reads: Sephiroth, Zack, and Cloud's Friday night tradition. and I just... god, once I started laughing, I could not stop. That wheezing kind of laughter that you get where you're glad no one else is in the house, lest you have to explain because they're all such beautiful idiots, especially Zack and poor Cloud and poor put-upon Sephiroth to have to deal with this shit and did I mention beautiful, beautiful Zack? I will say no more as I could not give away a single joke from this fic. ♥ (Hints of Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Thursdays... by Thorne Scratch - I admit, I don't normally go for the threesome stuff, but Thorne Scratch's Zack is just too brilliantly funny to resist. Hell, this whole fic is just too brilliantly funny to resist, from Sephiroth employing all sorts of methods to wake Zack up in the mornings to Cloud pretty much ducking and covering to Zack's entire... Zack-ness to the way the writing and little details of their hijinks are genuinely clever and funny. This is exactly the kind of fic that shot Zack up on my flist of favorite characters, the kind of fic that made me love the SOLDIER-era fanon so damned much, because these characters deserve at least a little time in their lives to be happy. And, god, the funny in this fic. ♥ (Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy VII - cognizance by Jennifier D. - I really do like Jenn-san's writing for FFVII:AC, there's this certain quality to it that's almost ethereal or dream-like, that something that fits so beautifully with the movie, that certain atmosphere to it. It's gentle and, yet, somehow so impactful, the writing, I have zero trouble seeing everything in the AC-style of animation. But, beyond that, it also captures Cloud's mood after the events there, the way he isn't settled into any one particular mood, yet not being overly vague for it. And, oh, the way he interacted with both Tifa and Aerith in the story, the gentle way they were both still influences in his life, even as there's that greater, more demanding influence... it just made my heart sing to read this. It's so... right, so beautiful. (Hints of Sephiroth/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy 7 - You Are by Knowing Shadows - *happy, breathy sigh* As much as I've loved diving into the Sephiroth/Cloud epics floating around out there, this is also what I've been waiting anxiously for. A post-AC, beautifully written, heart-breaking, yet bittersweet Cloud dealing with the events of the movie. The writing is just gorgeous, the characterization of Cloud so lovely because it's subtle and genuinely heart-wrenching as he tries to hold himself together with all the ghosts in his life. Watching him stare down into the water in Aerith's church or reading about the way Sephiroth and Cloud used to be, back before things went so horribly wrong, it could have been so cliche, but the gorgeous writing saves it. And, man, the ending made me hurt, in that way that I utterly believe this could have happened after the movie, because it was just so perfectly written. Gorgeous fic, I cannot say that enough. (Sephiroth/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy 7 - Chapter One: INFILTRATION by Tammaiya - So, one of the great things about getting into the crack of the FF7 fandom is that it's given me a wonderful, joyous love of Zack. As well as a wonderful, joyous love of being mean as hell to Zack, in the way that's totally done out of LOVE. And then Tammaiya goes and writes beautiful cracktastic, parody-ish, silly, light-hearted antics with the cast and there are so many moments that just... make me laugh like hell. Yuffie and her singing that annoys the hell out of Vincent (in a Vincent sort of way), Cid and Barret talking about blowing shit up ShinRa up together, Cloud staring dreamily at Sephiroth, Zack trying to hit on Aerith and Tifa, just the kind of dialogue fic (?) that made me giggle and love them all all over again. All of them. And I mentioned the whole ♥♥♥-inducing Sephiroth/Cloud interaction, right? Okay, good. (Sephiroth/Cloud, but hints of one-sided pairings all over the place.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Xehorista Tora by asprosdrakos - You know, in a lot of ways, I wonder who the hell I am to be disbelieving of characterization of a series that I'm not as familiar with as I would like to be, but... there are moments in this story where the characterization sort of falls flat for me, where it's just too easy or too flippant/sarcastic in situations where I didn't think the characters necessarily would be, especially Sephiroth. (To be fair, however, there are equally as many moments where I really, really liked the way Sephiroth's character was written, that the whole is very strong, that it's only little details along the edges that I quibble with. Which are not the hard parts, so my criticism is less harsh than it sounds, honest! The whole thing smooths out the further you get into the story, I think.) The writing of the early chapters also is a little rough around the edges, there's a lot of telling over showing, and there's generally a lot of confusion that went above and beyond what was supposed to be there, especially with the way you're dropped into the story without any explanation of where Cloud is or how he got there or what's going on. Now. I mention these things because I want to give a clear picture of what I thought of this story (and because, god knows, I have trouble staying quiet about these things), but I also want to point out that I felt this story should be read and that there's more here that I thought was done well than I quibbled over.

For one thing, there's actual plot and it's important and not just a flimsy excuse to get the characters together and, as the story progresses, there are actual battle scenes and they're important and actually a focus of the fic. One of the things I'm enjoying most about the story is what's going on, how the time-displaced characters deal with the situations they're unknowingly getting themselves into, of seeing just how this is going to affect the timestream as a whole. The other thing is that I'm really quite impressed with the way the relationship between Sephiroth and Cloud is being handled, the way the current!Cloud doesn't just reverted to the way he was in the days of ShinRa, doesn't forget all the pieces of Zack's personality/exploits he used as a shield for so many years. The way there's enough tension between them that you could cut it with a knife, the way there's something very important and weighted hanging there without the author having to comment directly on it too much.

I mean, it's over 200k into the story and they're not even close to sharing so much as a kiss, for all the story gives off hints, it may never happen, instead staying as just an undercurrent running beneath the rest of the story. It's going slow and taking its time and actually making something more believable out of the relationship for it. ♥ One of the other things that I really liked is the way Cloud's residual horror at what Hojo did to him, the way it still haunts him, the way it crops up now and again, it was very... effective, I guess. I hurt for the character in the way I was supposed to. Oh! Oh! And towards the beginning! Zack and Aerith interaction is SO CUTE, totally OTP'ing them lately, yes, I am.

One more thing is that the story unfolds much like the game itself, you get dropped into the middle of it, you learn bits and pieces completely out of order, you have to struggle to piece everything together and, even then, you don't know if what you've learned is true. That's something I really appreciate, that the fic has the same sense of the game. Now, granted, the story kind of leaves off in a horrible place, it's not yet finished (but it was updated recently!), but it's such a strong story so far that I recommend reading it anyway. Plus, man, Yuffie totally rules in this fic. And Reno amuses the hell out of me. And the Zack/Aerith is so cute. And I mentioned the wibble-inducing Sephiroth/Cloud, right? Okay, good. (Some Sephiroth/Cloud, some Zack/Aerith, neither are the entire point of the fic, really.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Sex-Ed with Chocobo-Head and the Man of the Phallic Sword by Ninetails - This one should probably go into the Livejournal posts section, but it uses the characters often enough and gives them enough dialogue that I figured I could smush into into the regular recs section. Anyway. Rant about sex scenes in fandom (it would apply to any fandom, but Sephiroth and Cloud are used here) with examples of why certain things should not be rushed and why some other things are Really Bad Ideas. Also? I totally made that JENOVA *ahem* joke last week and you have no idea how glad I am to not be the only one. Much with the funny is had and I encourage everyone to read. ♥ ( Probably not worksafe, but not horribly graphic, either.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Killing Chocolate by gelfling8604 - I admit, I was hesitant to read a fic about Kadaj because of my issues with the character, but I really like the author's style of writing and I liked her previous FFVII fic, so I read. And, wow, am I ever glad I did because this fic hits my Kadaj buttons perfectly, the looming figure of Sephiroth that's never really specifically said, the brilliant way Kadaj (and Yazoo and Loz) tries to find himself amongst all the fleeting memories that aren't his, the brilliant way everything is so raw and dirty and aching in Midgar that makes you feel this piece. Everything about this was just spot-on in the way it needed to be. Also, the chocolate metaphor? Far more brilliant than it really had a right to be, I think. *__* (Hints/references to Kadaj/Cloud and implications of Sephiroth/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy VII - One of These Days by ChibiRisu-chan - Sometimes I get so caught up in the crack fanon of the SOLDIER-era days (not losing track of that it's fanon, mind, more that I just have so much fun with it, I forget to come up for air), I forget that those days can be used to tell serious stories. But I really liked that it wasn't overly serious, that Zack's sense of fun came through, the humor of the situation was present even while things were bittersweet all around. But what I really, really loved was... I mean. I like the OT3, too, you know? But Zack/Aerith OTP and it's hard to let go of that. This fic strode the line between threesome (which I wouldn't say it entirely was) and SxC with Zack in the foreground beautifully. Such a little treasure. (Implications of Sephiroth/Cloud, with hints of Zack thrown in.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Miren by ChibiRisu-chan - ....ow. *breathy sigh* Admittedly, this fic falls more on the side of Sephiroth/Cloud than it does a threesome fic, but I'm really, really not complaining because it was beautifully written. The hurt and pain, so much of it wrapped up with everything these characters touch, the effect of JENOVA on their lives, the way they're twined together, but it's not a pretty thing and yet there's a certain beauty in all the awfulness. It makes my fangirl heart hurt, but it's still lovely all the same. I loved Cloud's characterization, the determination that just gets stronger over time, the resolution even among the hurting, the complicated, complex feelings he has for Sephiroth, the little turns of phrase about his life... lovely, lovely fic. (Implications of Sephiroth/Cloud, with Zack and Aerith thrown in the background.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Spike, Hedgehog's Dilemma, Sparkles by ChibiRisu-chan - You know how every once in awhile I have those fics where I mention that I sat still through the whole thing, didn't get up to check my mail or fidget around the room or anything, 'cause normally I have a horrible attention span and only really engrossing fics can get me to sit still for 50k+? Yeah, this was one of them. As with the other fics that ChibiRisu-chan wrote, there's this really lovely balance between the bittersweet and the so-funny-I-nearly-stuffed-my-fist-in-my-mouth-to-keep-from-laughing-too-hard. The characterizations are beautiful, Zack is irreverant and teasing and just so much fun, but he has his serious moments. Cloud is young and naive in so many ways and idolizes Sephiroth, but he has that core of determination and backbone that you see emerging again in later years. (This fic really, really made me love Cloud.) Sephiroth is reserved, serious, distant, and brilliant, but also just barely discovering what it means to be human and to have people that are important/likable to him.

The fic manages to balance so many things together, the shifting moods and the deeper point underneath all the hilarious teasing and silly nicknames. (Which are actually funny! So few fics could make me take the nickname General Sparkles and not want to click the back button as furiously as I could. Here, it actually worked the way it was supposed to!) The mood can be bittersweet one moment, almost painful the next, and then I'll be right back to laughing so hard I was practically crying, all with a beautiful, fluid grace to the writing. It's not jarring going from one mood to the next, the whole thing has this lovely flow to it--it's basically one really long scene and you know what? It doesn't feel padded or unnecessarily stretched out, it feels like it was the exact right length.

And, okay, yes, there are a lot of things to like about this fic. The way Zack slowly pulls both Sephiroth and Cloud into something like a friendship, the way you can see so many moments of brilliant characterization. A million other things. But, really, the reason you're going to click on the link and read is because it's hilarious. Because Zack being Zack around a campfire on a quiet night is too funny to be missed. Because Zack teasing both Cloud and Sephiroth and you can't decide if you want to smack him or hug him, but he always makes you want to laugh and you love him a little bit more? Totally worth the ride right there. I adored this. (Hints of Sephiroth/Cloud, Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud if you squint. But it could also be read as gen, there's no hard romance here.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Mistletiptoe by ChibiRisu-chan - [Note: This is part four in a series of fics, click on the tags to find the other entries in the comm.] You know what I keep saying about this author and her FFVII fics? The way I can sit down and read 60k of fic before I've even noticed it in a time when I can barely get through 30k of other fics? Still true. *sigh* I'm beginning to suspect it's not so much my attention span as the fics I'm usually clicking onto these days. Anyway. This fic actually starts moving more towards romantic relationships between the three characters, but still with the same sparkle and charm that was in the previous fics--it's the way Zack cares so much about Sephiroth and Cloud, even as he's teasing the hell out of them, that really gets to me. Because they care about him in return, even when he's teasing them mercilessly or embarassing the hell out of them, because that's the most precious thing to him in the world, that he's making them a little bit more human or that he's making them a little less fragile. I love that the fic can swing back and forth betwee serious moments that make my heart ache and antics that make me burst out laughing, I love that everything Zack does, even when he's being nice, it's all done in that teasing way. I love that the magic between the three characters that's so necessary for a story like this is there and in full force, I love that the characterization and writing actually work in the way the author intends. I love that the characterization of all the characters are actually subtle, that Sephiroth is human under the reserved, cool exterior, that Zack may be flighty, but he comes through when needed, that Cloud is easily embarassed and shy, but he stands up when he needs to. I love that I can get incredibly wibbly over the exchanging of presents and everything is just so damned perfect about it. I love that I set aside my usual reservations about threesomes (I'm still not sure if this is heading for actual threesomeness, Sephiroth/Cloud, or if it's gen with slight yaoi overtones) and don't feel a bit guilty because every aspect of the relationship is balanced. ♥ (Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud, possibly SxC, possible gen with yaoi overtones.)

- Final Fantasy VII - The Morning After by ChibiRisu-chan - Oh, the beginning of this fic is just so beautiful. Set directly on the heels of the previous fic (which you really need to read to understand this one fully, I would say), Cloud wakes up with Sephiroth's apartment and it is beautiful, it's the same sense of hilarity mixed with genuinely touching moments of friendship and something more. This is the fic where it feels like the author is moving closer to actual romantic territory, especially with Cloud's reactions to Sephiroth (and Sephiroth naked ♥), which really sort of impresses me that she's building everything up so well. And, of course, once again, the fic is filled with those little touches, the way I'm practically gleeing on the edge of my chair waiting for Zack to see Cloud again so he can start teasing him or feeling wonderfully warm because Zack might give them both a little comfort and humanity before everything goes to hell... because that's one of the great things. Even as Zack is nagging at them to eat their breakfast (in a surprisingly Zack-like way XD), I don't feel that sense of impending doom. Instead, I feel warm and happy and like I could read these fics forever. I really could read about Sephiroth becoming more human, Zack caring about his friends, Cloud screaming at Zack because his boot was stolen and he couldn't leave without it and the bastard knew that and was doing it on purpose, or Cloud trying not to turn neon red when a naked Sephiroth is standing in the doorway. ♥ (Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud, but I think Sephiroth/Cloud deserves a special mention for now.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Legends by gelfling8604 - I read this back to back with ChibiRisu-chan's Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud fic, which is much more upbeat and assumes an important relationship between all three characters in the SOLDIER days. This fic, on the other hand, goes in the other direction, it's a much darker, colder take on the SOLDIER days, it hurts more because Cloud doesn't have that core of self that makes it almost painful just to look at him, because Sephiroth never even knew he existed, because everything is much dirtier, messier, and the author does an amazing job of reflecting the darker aspects of the series. Of showing just how screwed up Cloud is, how much pain he's gone through because of his identity issues and the complicated hero worship/hate relationship he has with Sephiroth. The relationship that is anything but simple or easy to describe in just a few words, the one I feel like I could read about for ages, because there's mammoth feel to it that can never be covered enough.

There were so many moments in this fic where I had to stop and collect myself for a moment because I like these characters so much and the author is so good at bringing out the tragedy of what happened with them, of what happened to a once-shining idol, of what happened to a wonderful friend who died, of what happened to a kid who just wanted to find his place in the world. The author is also brilliant at creating a dirty, grimy feel to everything, that nothing feels clean anymore, much like how the game feels to me as well. This is reflected in the relationships between the characters, in that Sephiroth/Cloud dynamic, even in the little images of sunlight. And I just... I go on about this fic because it has such a sharp edge to it, because the way Cloud thinks about pre-game events, the moments from the game, the moments from AC, it all tumbles and spills together in this way that feels right for the series. Because the ending gives me that same dull ache and, yet, fascinated feel that Sephiroth and Cloud always should., this rec is so painfully pretentious, isn't it? (Sephiroth/Cloud, R rating.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Where Seduction Serves by Branch - A what-if story. What if Sephiroth had been quicker on the uptake and decided not to discard Cloud? I suspect I would have liked this story just based on the concept alone, I often have a fondness for stories that take a particular moment in the timeline and diverge just enough to snowball out from where. Especially when it's an idea/direction I really wanted to see explored, like this one. But more than that, this story had a certain sensuality to it, so that even when the characters weren't really doing anything romantic (and I would still say this story is gen more than a pairing fic, no matter how much I might read into it) there was a sense of (creepy) intimacy and connection that I geek out on. I really like the tone of the story as well, the symbolism/explanation of the numbers used, of identity and loss that's touched on with Cloud, of purpose and roads in life... all in such a surprisingly short fic. (Not Sephiroth/Cloud, it's gen, but it might be interesting to SxC fans.)

- Final Fantasy VII/Final Fantasy VIII - Bandages by Konitsu - [ chapter 10 - chapter 11 ] - I slacked on this fic for a little bit, so I'm only just now catching up on reading the two latest chapters. Which I really shouldn't do, because, damn, is this fic ever in my top five FF fics, but it's sort of like how I am with One Piece. It frustrates me to constantly gnaw the furniture because I want more so damn badly. It helps when I can read two chapters at once instead of just the one. Anyway, yes. Goddamn do I love a fic that actually has a plot and balances its ensemble cast, to the point that I think all the major players are covered in two chapters without feeling like any of them have been shortchanged. In these two chapters, Squall and Rinoa's breakup still hurts like hell (and if they have to be broken up, this story does an absolutely beautiful job with it, that it's no one's fault, they still genuinely care, it honestly hurts to break up, and both of them are wonderful characters, there's no bashing or character warping ♥), Irvine and Selphie are utterly adorable together and make me fall just a little harder for them, Rinoa is a lovely young woman and so beautifully in character, Cloud and Sephiroth's relationship gets even more complicated, Squall and Zell move towards something but not too fast because it's not time, Cid and Vincent are amazing together, everyone reacts so amazingly humanly to Chaos, Irvine's inner thoughts and comparisons are fantastic, Quistis' reaction is so human, and this is all while there's plot, too.

I know, I ramble. But this fic really does delight me sort of endlessly with all the little moments and interactions that you wouldn't necessarily think of or those that just make the story sparkle. Quistis talking with Irvine about her reactions or Cid's feelings on all the kids running around Garden or Squall being treated like a teenager at Zell's mother's place or Tifa's struggle to let go of her feelings for Cloud or Zack's voice in the back of Cloud's head or-- ....well, yes. You get the picture. The characterization is just so damn sparkly and the crossover fits together so damn well and the humor is actually funny--I think there was at least one time in each chapter where I was giggling aloud. The writing is smooth and clean and crisp, yet still having this particular warm charm to it that makes me fall in love again and again. ....shut up, I can ramble if I want to! >:O (Sephiroth/Cloud, Squall/Rinoa, Irvine/Selphie, eventual Squall/Zell?, Cid/Vincent, possibly more.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Mouthful of Poison by Konitsu - This author rather quickly became one of my favorites with her story "Bandages", which I admittedly started for the Sephiroth/Cloud parts, but came to love for pretty much every aspect of it. So, to see that she's writing a divergent timeline fic where Sephrioth snatches Cloud up at the end of Disc I and takes him (as I believe the author put it on her journal) off to join the evil tea party? I am so there. I didn't know how much I wanted the fic until she described it. And this is only the first chapter (I hope?), but already I like it a lot--the author winds in just enough angst into the piece with AVALANCHE's distrust and Cloud and Tifa's painful background, but not so much that it's over the top. The use of JENOVA in Cloud's mind was one of the better uses I've seen, I could actually buy this portrayal of a screeching woman's voice in Cloud's head. But the real treat was the ending of the fic, the feel of those last couple of scenes, the unfolding changes that were going to happen because this one moment went differently. I definitely want more of this one. ♥ (Future Sephiroth/Cloud, I think?)

- Final Fantasy VII - This Is Your Life, One Day, and Partners by Tammaiya - So, how much do I love that Tammaiya was doing shortfic requests and that she did a few FFVII ones? The first one is a sweet, cute Cloud fic where he's talking to a Moogle and it's the most adorable thing in the world. A little kooky in the head, but adorable. And the ending makes me all gooshy happy. And the third one is a beautiful Rude - and - Reno fic that captures what's so fantastic about them, how they're partners and what that means, even when it's something as simple as reporting back and getting chewed out by Rufus. But it's the second one that just... it's quite possibly the best Zack/Aerith fic I've ever read. It's exactly the right length for all that it's short, takes the prompt of "hopes and dreams" and spins something beautiful out of it. The sweetness of the pairing, how hot it can be at times, how much those two crazy kids were made up of pure love, but also fitting with the FFVII themes, the warring green and life of Aerith, the decay and dirty metal of the rest of the series, everything that fascinates me about it. And that last line? It's a killer. (Sephiroth/Cloud, Zack/Aerith, and not-Rude/Reno, respectively.)

- Kingdom Hearts - sense and sensibility by 9tails - I wasn't sure if I should put this in the KH section or the FFVII section, since it's set in KH, but it's all about Sephiroth and Cloud. Enh. I'll link it from both. Anyway, yes! Good SxC fic set in the KHverse is ridiculously difficult to find, so when an author comes along that weaves these lovely flashes of memory and sense and emotion? And then writes beautiful smut in with them? It's hard not to abuse the caps lock key and go HOORAY a lot. The duality of the piece, the innocence of childhood, the sex in adulthood, the way poor Cloud always has the crappiest life just about ever, the electric attraction between the two characters that isn't just about physical looks or anything typical, it's also about something far more complicated. Fighting and aching for the past and loss and distance between them, this entirely too complicated mess to describe with just a few words and, yes, this is why I like them. Sephiroth with all that magnetic force to him, the power coiled in his frame, the sleek, elegant way he simply just moves, the same sense of power to Cloud's frame, even when it's set from his POV, the way everything is so heavy and difficult, but he keeps getting up again. And I realize this rec is rather incoherent, but it's an attempt to get across the way the fic made me feel, the things I feel like I can't quite grasp with my fingers, but I know are there. ....which is horribly pretentious and nonsensical of me to say, shut up! >P (Sephiroth/Cloud, R-rating at least.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Calling by ChibiRisu-chan - I'm not sure why I hadn't read this fic until now. I like the author's work a lot and this is a story idea that I've craved for who knows how long now. Sephiroth and Cloud post-game (post-AC as well, I think?) and Zack's echo still there and it's... it's about all the pain they've all gone through, what they'll always go through, how these three characters all make my heart positively ache with how much I love them and care for them. Which is very vague, I know. It's about... about a what-if, what if they'd recovered Sephiroth's body and Cloud had to take up the role Zack had once again, to pull something out of a shell that might very well be empty (and not knowing what was going to come out) and how damned hard that is for all of them. It's. It's just. Watching Cloud try to be Zack, knowing all the things I know now, watching it obviously be Cloud trying to be Zack for Sephiroth... it made me want to curl up in a little ball and clutch at my heart for how much it hurt, how sad everything is, even when things are calm now. And the ending? The ending totally got me and made my SxC fangirl heart seize up and then do double-time for the squee. Shut up. (Technically, gen. But you could read Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud or Sephiroth/Cloud into this.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Smells Like Life by gelfling8604 - [ part 01 - part 02 ] - This author's work often tends to leave me at a loss for words because I'm not sure how to describe the feeling reading her stories leaves with me. Part of it is that it's something sensed/felt than simply read, but I know how incredibly pretentious that sounds and I wonder if it's simply the way I react to her writing. Whatever it is, I always look forward to her style because it meshes so well with FFVII, that underlying sense of insanity and surreal atmosphere that follows Cloud around wherever he goes. There's something very intense about the way she writes Cloud being so fucked up, something that's different from a lot of the other fic I read. It's not just dysfunctional, it's something different from that. Which, that alone, would make the fic an interesting read, but then couple it with the fascinating insane relationships he has with Kadaj and Sephiroth and the way everything seems to come back to that, the way Cloud wants other things but never seems to do them, the way he keeps making mental notes to call Tifa but never does, the way you can feel her slipping away from him in those years after the game and before AC, yet it doesn't even have to be said, you just feel it. And the way dreams and random encounters and everything is so confusing and jumbled and Cloud himself is so off-kilter and fragmented... it's not the kind of story I could read constantly, I would be a giant ball of knots then, but it is the kind of intense, fascinating read that I enjoy whenever it's written. Does that make sense? (Sephiroth/Cloud, Kadaj/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy VII - The guys and the SOLDIER celebration by ChibiRisu-chan - In a previous rec, I wondered why I hadn't read the author's work until just now. I think, after having read this fic, after having been unable to look away from the screen for a moment while I read and read, I know. It's because I needed to save a few so that I could ease myself back into the FFVII fandom with some genuinely readable fic. And that's the great thing about ChibiRisu-chan's fic, is that it's so damn readable that you just get sucked in and then she sprinkles these fabulous little details (the name of the game the others were playing was beautiful) and you love the concept (what if Cloud had made SOLDIER?) and then you melt into an absolute pile of mushy goo at the end because it's so damn sweet and wonderful and lovely and adorable. I love that it's a happy occasion, it's even a happy fic, but it's still got twinges of bittersweet because Sephiroth knows what being SOLDIER means and he didn't want that for Cloud, but then Zack is there and... I loved the Sephiroth/Zack bonding in the fic, I love that he's so, so, so, so damned good for both of them, and I love that Sephiroth and Cloud love each other a great deal here. I just... I wibble with love. (You could maybe see Sephiroth/Cloud implied, but you could also see pure gen.)

- Final Fantasy VII - untitled by Knowing Shadows - It's a good night for FFVII pr0n. First the Zack/Aerith pr0n and now beautifully hot Sephiroth/Cloud pr0n that's... yesss, that's how I want them to be written during the game. Harsh and just the two of them even when there are other people just out of sight and more than a little with the Issues-with-a-capital-I, especially on Cloud's part. And I love, love the last few lines. Almost as much as I love the smut itself (which is hot in that way I actually like, it's aesthetically beautiful even while it's a little bit dirty, it's graphic without being crude and I mentioned the whole "hot" thing? Because Cloud is hot when he's getting screwed into the mattress that hard.), it's those last few lines that say so much about Cloud's weakness and strength. Because he's Cloud, for good or bad. Porn with a bit of insight? Sephiroth all crazy and dangerous and powerful and Cloud with issues and Sephiroth playing on that and you don't know how much of this is even real? aksjdfasjd, yes, that right there. ♥ (Sephiroth/Cloud, R-NC-17 graphic content.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Unleash, Routine, Corolla, and Afterwards by thorne_scratch - I'm counting these together since none of them are quite long enough to rec by themselves and they read quite well together, I think. I don't know if I could pick a favorite of these (though, Corolla and Afterwards probably vie for top spot, though), they're all these great little moments, whether humorous or something a little more serious. The author does a brilliant job with her cracked out Zack and Reno antics (I have such great fondness for the idea when it's in this author's hands, a full-on fic would be, like, the best thing ever) and she did something I wouldn't have thought possible--a FFVII and Shoujo Kakumei Utena crossover that was breathtakingly gorgeous and haunting and brilliant. My favorite probably still has to be Sephiroth and Zack, though. That's just. Yeah. That's what they needed more of, moments like that. ♥ (No real warnings/pairings, maybe a little Sephiroth/Cloud or Sephiroth/Zack or Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud implied, but you'd have to squint.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Eglanteria by ChibiRisu-chan - After the previous Sephiroth/Zack fic rec, I needed something happier to not be a little ball of crushed devestation. I am also always, always, always up for post-FFVII resurrection fic with JENOVA burnt out of Sephiroth's system. AND THIS. Oh, man, my squeaking, flailing fangirl self wants to keyboard mash the entire way through it and that's just embarassing. But it's so. So positive and happy-ending (or at least "happily for a good long while" ♥) and full of little details that are just adorable. Cloud has an idea and the Planet owes him at least one favor and it's just serious enough for me to feel satisfied, but not so serious that I feel weighed down by it. Loved this so much. I wish there were more fic exactly like this, put-upon!Cloud and all. Well. And that bit about Rufus. That made me LOL every time I read it. (Sephiroth/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Bruise by aphelion_orion - I feel like I may have recommended this fic before, but I can't find it anywhere on my lists. So, I'm going to assume I haven't. And if I have, it's worth a re-rec. It's a quite little fic set pre-game, with Sephiroth and Cloud in a relationship, lightly focusing on the difference in strength between them. I like the author's take on Sephiroth's POV, the way he holds himself to such impossible standards, the way he can show hints of coldness or being emotionally unsteady, but not so far gone around the bend yet. The bruise he accidentally inflicts on Cloud's shoulder, the worry that he could do so much more damage without even realizing it, the way his mind works over the problem, it's all very nicely done. I'd have been curious to see where this went, but it stands on a good open-ended note the way it is. (Sephiroth/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Moral by aphelion_orion - Another story by the author that's cute and light-hearted without being terrible, pointless, parody-laden fluff. Zack's encouraging Sephiroth to be a little bit more human, his amusement at the whole thing, Sephiroth's lack of humor, the sense of being drawn to Cloud even when he tries to resist, it's all the kind of fic that makes me flutter happily. Shut up, I can be a fangirl if I want to. (Sephiroth/Cloud.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Summoning Ghosts by kasoku - So, I was just complaining about there not being any post-FFVII fics that brought Sephiroth back in a way that made me all happy and gooshy, right? Then this fic falls into my lap that I started reading because it promised Sephiroth/Cloud and maybe Zack/Aerith and turns out that it's one of those fics that I've been pining away for. It was a really solid, good fic that covered all the bases it needed to--the creative way in which Sephiroth was brought back, the way the psuedo-science didn't overwhelm the emotional side of the story but wasn't entirely glossed over either, the way Cloud wasn't sure that he wanted Sephiroth back, the way JENOVA being cleaned away didn't undo everything Sephiroth had done or even absolve him of everything. The story didn't linger on any of the downsides for too long, which is exactly what I wanted, really. I didn't want a long, drawn out story where everyone was depressed for weeks on end because of their crappy circumstances. I wanted something that was more positive, more hopeful, but without being hideously OOC about it. This fic pretty much nailed what I was looking to get out of it, something that I could fangirl yet take seriously. Cloud's reactions, the way he always pulls himself together to fight Sephiroth when he needs to, always does what needs doing, even when it hurts him, is never forgotten. And Sephiroth had that air of deadly grace about him. And Zack and Aerith were so cute in the Lifestream. It was just... so what I wanted tonight, it scratched just the right itch. There's also a cute omake to go with it. (Sephiroth/Cloud, maybe some implications of Zack/Aerith.)

- Final Fantasy VII - Shevirat ha-kelim by Joudama - This is (sort of) a prequel to Malkhut, as the author says, but I think both of them stand pretty well on their own. This is another story that deals with the Kabbalic mysticism and how those themes might be wound together with FFVII's plot and it's another really intense story for that, the sense of self and being rather than something physical is really brilliantly done. It also does a fantastic job of showing Cloud's character, his strengths and weaknesses and why/how he survived through everything and it just... it fits together with what I saw of the original material and the take on the Sephiroth/Cloud relationship is fantastic as well. It's a really powerful fic that reminds me why I do love the FFVII fandom so much. (Some Sephiroth/Cloud, it's not precisely the point.)

Final Fantasy VII: Poetry of the Air by Scribbler - This is a series of four connected short fics (so far, I imagine there'll be more updated as the author writes them) focusing on Cloud with various cast members. Admittedly, I picked this one up for the Sephiroth/Cloud, but I actually stayed for the general Cloud characterization and the gen aspect. I think my favorite so far is actually the third chapter from the pov of Cloud's mom, showing what a strong person she must have been and what a tough life they had, but still somehow making it through. Each one of these does that--shows the good with the bad, nothing is really either all the way one or the other. Add in the author's really lovely, clean style and this is a really interesting series of fics. (Various pairings, though only Sephiroth/Cloud is more than implied at the time of this rec.)

Final Fantasy VII: wing-kink - why preening is a private affair by mystiri_1 - I was wondering around this morning, not really sure what I wanted to settle on reading, and somehow wound up on one of the porn_battle memes and stopped on this fic. Like many of that type of fangirl, I love wingfic and I love wing-kink fic just as much. So, after Nebilheim and Sephiroth's got that wing and he's unconscious and bedgraggled, so Cloud settles in to smooth it down for him? ....yeah, do want. *__* (Sephiroth/Cloud, slight content warning.)

Final Fantasy VII: the long and winding road by Tammaiya - This fic was written for my birthday and it's one of those that hit right inside my wheelhouse. I love the depth of hurt and history between the characters, even as this is bittersweetly good now. I love how many times Sephiroth and Cloud have been here before, how many times Cloud has been waiting, only to have to kill Sephiroth all over again. It's a lovely piece and the conversation between them just... sometimes I think Cloud might be my favorite just for how I want to feed him cookies pretty much forever. (Sephiroth/Cloud.)

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