Title: A Long, Hard Road
Author: Twig (twigcollins)
Characters/Pairings: Sephiroth/Cloud and quite a few interesting side pairings (Zack/Tifa, Yuffie/Vincent, Rude/Reno/Elena)
Word count: ~500k
Summary: Five years after the end of the game, Hojo is in an all-out war against the Planet and the ShinRa armies, led by now-general Cloud Strife. What will happen, when ShinRa makes a desperate decision to resurrect the very person who nearly killed them all?
Why I like it: There aren’t enough words to say why I love this fic so much and why over the years I’ve come back to reread it as often as I did.
The most obvious reason is: It’s EPIC. It’s not 500k of unabashed pairing fic, it comes with complicated plot and quite a few side pairings and subplots, and well crafted OCs and political tug-of-war and it does a wonderful job at developing the friendships alongside the slow-build romance. It also comes with heaps of unabashed angst and some very dark moments. If you are squeemy about discussions of body horror and the explicit descriptions of attempted suicide. not your fic. If angst, romantic misunderstandings, unrequited love and pining, working through trauma and all that comes with it are catnip, like they are for me: read it.
Reading it today I have to admit I’m not as completely into the overly fragile and insecure Cloud moment as I was when I was younger, but balanced against him being the General and part of the learning curve being that he gets more secure about his relationship with Sephiroth and his own worth that still doesn’t completely put me off.
It’s a dark story. It dares to go dark places, but it also balances it out with nice moments of friendships and love and happiness. There is humour. The canon characters get things to do. Things have changed in the years after the game has ended (remember this was long before something like Advent Children or the rest of the Compilation was even in the planning stages) and the opening chapters do a wonderful job of establishing all that has been going on, and alway manage to completely draw me in.
Link: It used to be archived at its own page at Eukaryotic Cell Division - Divide and Conquer, but that page seems to be gone now, which makes me very sad, as it also had art. (And I do remember the fic being published there before it was ever finished. Yes, I’m that old.)
It can still be found on Noire Sensus