Sephiroth let the cold look linger on his own face for a moment longer, then stopped it. The submissive, sad big eyes Zack was giving him, sparked a fire. He cast his eyes down and casually draped an underarm over his lap. With his other arm, he grabbed a jacket from the chair and put it beside him on the bed.
He had not dared to strip more from Zack’s sleeping form. He was a man of self-control.
I just hope you’ll do the same for me.
He ran his hand over the rough discoloured sleeve as he watched Zack cross the room in a walk of shame. It was most satisfying.
Zack walked back to the bed, looking more tired and worn out then he did last night. He almost forgot he’d been wearing a jacket and was glad he decided to come back for it. He didn’t have very many after all.
"Thanks," he mumbled, leaning over the mattress and tugging the fabric loose from Sephiroth’s grasp.
Zack stormed out and Sephiroth’s face fell. It twisted in anger. He pressed his knuckles against the mattress as if to stomp it, then reached out of his tea. He took a sip.
This will get more challenging without direct use of Shin-ra resources.
Sephiroth heard the door click and his face instantly became indifferent, cold, for whoever would come in. The cup was paused at his lips.
Face still red, but looking less furios then he’d been moments ago, Zack stepped back in and sighed, staring at the ground. “Sorry— I didn’t… I wasn’t trying to be so mean. I’m just… I’m tired, and mad.”
His eyes were sad, and pleading. Reminiscent of the puppy-dog looks he’d give Angeal back when times were simpler. “Don’t think bad of me.”
"Like you what way?” Sephiroth asked. He slipped his elbows under him and sat up a little. The dressing gown parted in a V and showed off his muscular upper body.
Then the red colour appeared on his cheeks. “By Shin-Ra, no Zack, do you think I’m gay? Do I look gay? I’m … do you have any idea how many women I slept with in the past year?”
He sat up and put his elbows on his knees. “Look, I want to help you. And the girls. So what if it’s Shin-ra money? Do it for the girls.”
All at once, Zack felt stupid. He’d assumed and it came and bit him in the ass. His eyes widened and his cheeks flushed red with embarrassment. He felt it was best to leave that part of the conversation where it was and instead focus on the part that mattered. The part that made him angry.
"So what if it’s ShinRa money?! ShinRa killed their mother! I don’t want anything to do with them, and if the girls were old enough to understand and decide for themselves I’m sure they’d agree with me." He stood up and stormed to the door, clenching his teeth, "You think by giving me money for the girls it’ll make up somehow? Fat-fucking-chance. Stay the hell away from us!"
"It makes the room look bigger," Sephiroth said as he looked up. He folded his hands behind his back. The real reason for hanging it up was that his bedpartners could look up and see themselves while they were being fucked by him.
With his foot, he tilted the lit off the breakfast so the warm smell could escape and fill the room or -more importantly- Zack’s nose.
He didn’t quite think that was the real reason, but regardless, it wasn’t any of his business. Having found his shoes, Zack sat on the edge of the bed and slipped them on, lacing the boots quietly. He could smell that breakfast more clearly, and whatever it was smelled delicious. He sighed.
"Look Sephiroth. You’re…. You’re not a bad guy. You’ve been a great friend, and a good teacher. You’re trying to get me to… To like you that way. And I’m sorry but I just.. I don’t. Can’t you respect that and just leave me be? Please?"
"It’s not illegal," Sephiroth said. "As I am the law.”
Nevertheless he got off Zack. He stepped back, and pulled his dressing gown straight. Then he took a dive over Zack and roled on the bed. He lay down in an X.
"Have you seen the ceiling? It’s a mirror."
Zack ignored Sephiroth and sat up, rubbing his head and hunting around for his shoes. He could smell food and he was immediately hungry, but he was far too angry to accept anything from Sephiroth at the moment.
"Don’t know why you’d have a mirror ceiling in a bedroom. Seems kind of weird."
Sephiroth put his tea down slowly and without spilling, and then he grabbed Zack’s wrist to keep him from walking away. There was a flash and suddenly Zack was on his back on the bed with General Sephiroth hoovering over him like a roof.
"Relax," he spoke, pushing both wrists down in the mattress. "We have time. The girls are fine. I deployed officers Kunsel and Lumière- they are with them and give me 15-minute updates. You have plenty of time to,"
Kiss me. The thought came without warning. Sephiroth made a face as if he had bitten a lemon and shook his head. Then he scraped his throat.
"… to wake up, eat breakfast, shower, get dressed, and saunter to work.”
Frustrated beyond measure, he thrashed a bit in Sephiroth’s grasp before huffing and falling still. He didn’t like their proximity. He didn’t like hearing that velvety voice murmur to him like he was just a child. He didn’t like the way Sephiroth’s silver hair fanned out around them like a waterfall.
"There is no way this is not illegal. Get off me,” Zack’s glare was heated, s were his cheeks.
Sephiroth was quiet after the last words he’d spoken, expecting an outburst. Nothing came. The calm breathing informed him of Zack’s changed status.
It was illegal to do so, but he added a Sleep spell on top of the sleep Zack was already in. His friend glowed up with a warm comfortable light and was trapped. Sephiroth lowered the umbrella and folded it again. He used the rather long stick to tap against the side of the limo. The driver jumped out, rushed around.
"Put my umbrella in the car," Sephiroth said and handed it to him. The man nodded.
The General heaved Zack onto his left shoulder, then looked up. Timeout, he signalled to the SOLDIERs that were watching. I-call-… Sephiroth hesitated …superior officer, he signalled, although the supervisor of the construction site couldn’t quite be called an officer in the General’s frame of mind. Eight of his SOLDIERs gave him a thumbs up. Message received.
He turned around and banged Zack’s head against a lamp post. His driver winched and one of the men above said “Ow. Damn.”
Sephiroth glared up. He carefully put the friend down in the white limousine and climbed in after him.
At 6:25, Sephiroth pushed the silken sheets back to reveal Zack’s sleeping face. The General of Army Affairs sat down on the red chair beside the bed and watched him sleep, black hair sprawled over the pillow. He nipped his cup of tea and sometimes spiked a piece of fruit from a bowl. Under a silver lit, a steaming hot breakfast was awaiting Zack’s awakening.
Sephiroth reached out to run his finger through the wild black lion manes, but at the last moment he refrained from touching him. He clenched his fist. He put his hands back on his lap. The orange morning sunlight ran over the floor and nipped Zack’s shoulder. Sephiroth turned his head and watched Midgar that stretched out beyond their feet.
…If only every morning could be like this.
At 6.30, the ancient SOLDIER wake-up call tones rang through the apartment and bounced against the hand-painted walls.
It was a nice, dreamless sleep. The kind that just had colours dancing back and forth in your subconscious. Zack hadn’t slept so hard and so long since the triplets were born. He’d known one baby was hard enough. Trying to raise three on his own—well. No one was quite sure how he’d managed all these years, including him. The alarm woke him up rather rudely, and with a tired groan, he tried to sit up.
A throbbing pain in the side of his head angrily screamed in protest, and with a quiet swear he cupped the injured area.
"Wha’ th’hell? Did I… Hit… Nnh."
Eyes drowsy, he looked at the sheets and realised that they weren’t his. In fact, nothing in the room was. He would have panicked, were it not for Sephiroth sitting primly in a chair beside him, but Zack yanked the sheets up to his chin and glared childishly anyway.
"I should’ve known… You… You did something to me! And why am I in your bed?? Why didn’t you just take me home?!" Suddenly remembering that’s where he should be, he sprang out of the bed.
"Yikes- It’s Friday and I didn’t get to pack lunches or take the girls to school or even make sure they were still in the damn house—"
Zack falling into his arms trembled his world and left him with a weakness in his heart that almost tore him into two. It was good to hold him, as good as enjoying the bottle of expensive wine he’d kept on the plank for a year and looked at every day.
Sephiroth scoffed, not because of the tears, but because Zack was mentioning Aerith again.
"Come with me. Don’t mention her again. Aerith was a rebel."
That’s all you need to know.
He pressed his lips on Zack’s hair. His hands surrounded his form like a fort. It felt as if he himself became a hedgehog - spikes to keep the rest out and the soft-hearted ex-SOLDIER in.
"Erase the past. Stay with me. Live with me. My skyscraper’s big enough. You can sleep in late, we’ll have fruit salads for breakfast, visit your parents in the summer, shopping in Loveless Avenue in five different cities in one weekend, squat contests, training. Me and you and your girls;" He spoke without thinking. "Alexis, Angela, and…"He felt his mistake. He closed his eyes and clenched his teeth. "Aeris,” he finished with a hiss.
Somewhere during the other’s ramble, Zack had fallen asleep. The months of living off of power naps had caught up to him. No longer crying, his face pressed tight in the safety of Sephiroth’s chest, he slept. Not an ideal place, but at least it wasn’t the floor.
He knew Aerith was gone, and that wherever she was, she’d want him to be happy. But she had been so bright. So kind. So full of life. And the people he once was proud to work with had killed her so brutally, Zack couldn’t help but blame himself and hate them for what they’d done. Asking him to forget would be asking to let go of his anger, and he wasn’t quite ready to do that yet.
If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.
The go away was expected, but wasn’t as big as a stab as seeing Zack crack.
He calmly walked forward and held the umbrella over Zack’s head, then stepped closer. He brushed the cigarette away with the back of his hand, then wrapped the arm around Zack’s neck, pulling him to his chest. Sephiroth was not hugging back. He was a pillar, a rock, a statue of unmoving grace. His one hand held Zack, the other the umbrella.
"I’m afraid I cannot give you the first and the last. But consider the middle part taken care of," he said as he looked firmly at the garage door ahead.
"I don’t need your pity, or ShinRa’s money…. Damnit Sephiroth." Proud as he was stubborn, he couldn’t bring himself to succumb, no matter how much he needed it. Even though he was fighting a losing battle.
As much as he didn’t want to, Zack found himself sagging into Sephiroth’s chest, needing the emotional comfort rather than giving it out. He clung tight to the other man, crying quietly in the stillness of the early morning. “I need her… And they… They took her away from me. It’s not fair. She was mine and they took her. And you— And you come here and expect me to… To… Fall into your arms! You’re horrible… You always hated her… Always…”