Ukiyoe Painting

BY : MystIc19
Category: Final Fantasy VII > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1053
Disclaimer: I do not own FF7 or any of the FF7 characters. I do not make any profit in writing these fanfictions.

 


Note: This chapter follows exactly after 16 with Angeal and Seph and rotates with flashback sequences. Flashbacks are in italics.



Jade eyes scanned the darkened room as the General stepped inside with Angeal right behind. He slid the door closed before crossing the space and beginning to light the lanterns.

"I'm surprised to see you here tonight," Angeal began as Sephiroth took a seat at the dark cherry wood table in the center of the room, "you've been quite busy lately."

"As have you," Sephiroth replied before shaking his head gently, "though I can always make a little time to visit a friend."

Letting out a small laugh Angeal walked over to a tall cabinet and pulled open the doors. "I saw that you had tea but have a real drink with me," he explained while taking out a bottle of his finest sake.

"I'd be happy too," Sephiroth spoke as Angeal took up a seat across the table from him and began to pour them each a cup of the strong alcohol. He slid the cup over to Sephiroth before setting down the bottle. He let his eyes study his friend briefly before taking a sip of his drink.

"I can see you have things you want to say," Angeal started.

Setting down his cup Sephiroth returned the man's gaze. "I do...or rather questions. However I'm sure you are aware of what they are."

Nodding Angeal let out a brief sigh, "Well...I didn't intend on letting anyone know that Cloud was staying here. But since you've found out, I'll ask that you keep it secret."

"Angeal," Sephiroth started quickly, "He's the Chamberlains son. You're putting yourself in a dangerous spot."

"I know," Angeal said while reaching for his cup and letting his eyes drift towards the table, "but I'm willing to take the risk."

Pausing briefly Sephiroth narrowed his eyes. "Who is he?"

Glancing back up Angeal raised an eyebrow, "you just said it yourself, he's the Chamberlains son."

"No," Sephiroth began with a shake of his head, "I mean who is he to you? Why is he so important to you that you're willing to take such a risk?"

Once he properly understood the question Angeal became quiet. He didn't really want to divulge so much information. For the sake of Cloud's privacy and Zack's protectiveness really. However Sephiroth was his closest friend, and he knew that he wouldn't say anything about the situation if he were to know.

"He's Zack's...special someone,"Angeal explained carefully after a moment of contemplation.

"Zackary?" Sephiroth asked while furrowing his eyebrows slightly.

"Yes," Angeal replied.

Sephiroth didn't need to question anymore about that, he knew that Angeal's pupil was very important to him.

"And so? Why is he here?"

"He's in a bit of trouble," Angeal continued, "and so...until things clear up or until some other means of a solution present themselves, he'll remain here."

Sephiroth actually scoffed at that and Angeal gave him a bit of a confused look.

"Trouble," Sephiroth repeated, "I imagine the trouble that he is in isn't that severe. A fight with his parents at home? So now he's running away? Honestly, the kids of the Council Members now."

"No," Angeal started immediately after, "It's not that at all...it's...the Shogun."

'The Shogun.'

No more words really needed to be said after that. From Angeal explaining that Cloud was in trouble...and then tying the Shogun into it...well it pretty much was laid out in black and white at that point. A far away look was present in Sephiroth's eyes and Angeal sighed while placing his elbows on the table and clasping his hands together.

"I want to help him and Zack if I can, in any way...I don't want a repeat of the past."

"I thought you didn't believe that," Sephiroth replied quietly while focusing his eyes on the table.

"I don't know what to believe," Angeal started, "but I won't take that chance...of losing anyone else that I care about."

"You do know what to believe," Sephiroth said while rising from his seat, "you just choose not to."

"Sephiroth," Angeal began while watching the other cross the room before stopping at the window.

Lifting up a hand to silence his friend Sephiorth shook his head. "Even after years we still disagree on this."

"I just..." Angeal spoke gently as he rested his chin on his fist.

"Your denial insults Gen's memory," Sephiroth said lowly while gazing out the window at the night sky.

Angeal frowned at those words. He had heard them from Sephiroth before and he hated it. Although he knew that the other was right, deep down he knew that he was right. But...

"I can't accept that he never told me..."



"They really put us through the ringer today," Angeal said with a wince as they exited the dojo.

"It wasn't so bad," Sephiroth replied before Angeal jokingly punched him in the arm.

"Show off," he murmured with a grin. Sephiroth returned the playful punch a little more forcefully which caused Angeal to let out a cry of pain and made Sephiroth chuckle.

"What are you doing?" A voice asked.

Turning to glance over his shoulder Sephiroth narrowed his eyes slightly at the auburn haired boy.

"Don't hit him," the boy snapped while glaring at the other.

"Gen what are you doing here?" Angeal asked while stepping closer to the smaller one.

"Coming to find you, you should've been back an hour ago," he explained while crossing his arms over his chest.

"Oh sorry, I guess training went a little longer than usual," Angeal explained while brushing some stray locks of auburn away from the boys face who batted away his hand. Angeal laughed before looking back to Sephiroth.

"Seph this is my little brother Genesis," Angeal spoke while Sephiroth directed his focus onto the boy who was still glaring at him.

"Don't hit my brother again," Genesis warned while Angeal shushed him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders.

"Sephiroth is a student in my class, he's training to be Samurai like me," Angeal explained, trying to remove the glare from the others face.

Sephiroth on the other other hand dismissed Genesis glare and warning and instead bowed towards him.

"It's an honor to meet you Genesis, Angeal's told me a lot about you," he said while lifting green eyes to meet blue.

Genesis held his gaze for a moment but didn't return the bow immediately. It wasn't until Angeal smacked him on the back that he did.

"Forgive me," Genesis spoke, "my brother didn't really tell me about the student's who are training with him."

"It's quite alright," Sephiroth replied before Angeal was chiming in.

"Don't mind him, he can be a bit of a brat," the raven haired one joked as Genesis pushed him away.

Sephiroth couldn't help but to allow a small, but still visible smile to spread across his face. The way the two interacted it was obvious to tell that they were close, even if they did tease each other. In a way Sephiroth was envious of it. He didn't have anyone in his life who he was even remotely close to. Both of his parents were gone, his mother had died when he was very young from illness and his father had abandoned him shortly thereafter. His aunt and uncle had taken him in but he never felt any real closeness with them. He respected them immensely but he always felt as if he were a burden to them, and they didn't have children of their own so he had no others around his age to speak to. And while he was growing up he didn't tend to make many friends, mostly because he didn't feel the need to. He distanced himself. In all honesty he loved the solidarity, but at times...like now...he wished that he did have a close friend or sibling.

"Well since you've found me I guess we should head back for lunch," Angeal explained to the smaller boy before turning his gaze towards Sephiroth. "Want to join us?"

"Oh...no thank you," Sephiroth spoke up after shaking his head slightly to rid his thoughts, "I wouldn't want to impose."

"Impose?" Angeal asked with a tilt of his head, "it can't be imposing if I just invited you. Come on, my mom cooks a lot. There will be more than enough."

Still wanting to decline to some degree but also not wanting to be rude Sephiroth hesitated. He knew that Angeal resided in the castle and he hadn't actually been there before. Sure he had seen the outside but he had never stepped foot inside and he was sort of nervous about how he would be perceived there. He wasn't yet Samurai, he was still just...a nobody. But he didn't have much time to think about it seeing as how Angeal and Genesis had already started to walk and Angeal was giving him a playful shove to get him moving.

And so basically, you could say that was where it all began. From that day on the threes friendship grew and became stronger. And over that time they had all learned the insides and outs of each of their lives. Sephiroth had learned all about Angeal and Genesis and their past. He had found out that Genesis wasn't in fact Angeal's actual biological brother, but that they had grown up together ever since they were just babies and their two families were very close. They had been together all of their lives and were family in that regard. He had also discovered that Genesis had a bit of a health problem. Ever since he was little he tended to get sick easily, he described it as "low level immunity." He would catch colds and things of that nature far more often than your average person. It was something that obviously annoyed him because it made his parents worry over him so much and he didn't like it. It was also the reason why he wasn't allowed to participate in training to become Samurai. He wasn't "physically healthy" and so they wouldn't allow it. That and his parents wouldn't tolerate it. It was something that he wanted to do, but he understood why he couldn't. But that never made him envious of Angeal or Sephiroth in anyway. He was proud that his brother and friend were Samurai. And it left opportunity for him to pursue his other passion with literature. He always had his nose in a book, things of a philosophical nature, poetry or dramatic plays. He said that words were the most powerful thing in the universe, deadlier than any blade and lovelier than the finest silk.

Sephiroth thought his friends passion was intriguing...but that wasn't the only thing. Over the years his feelings for Genesis changed. He felt himself being drawn to him in a way that he never had before. His smile left him breathless and when their eyes locked he always felt flustered, and just a simple touch made his heart race. It wasn't too much longer that Sephiroth realized that he had fallen in love with him. And telling Genesis how he felt was the first time he had genuinely ever been scared of anything. He wasn't good with words like Genesis and felt completely vulnerable with attempting his confession. Thankfully Genesis was able to understand him with his clumsy words and he gave him a smile that Sephiroth would never forget.

"It took you long enough," Genesis said softly before leaning in to press a gentle kiss on the Samurai's lips...



Closing his eyes Sephiroth shook his head. "He told you enough...we knew enough."

"No," Angeal replied while downing the rest of his sake as he felt frustration begin to rise within him. "He hid it from me," he explained while reaching for the sake bottle again to refill his drink.

"That may be true but..." Sephiroth started while opening his eyes and turning around to face his friend.

"But nothing,"Angeal replied with an unfocused look in his eyes, "he always told me everything. He knew he could tell me anything, and the one thing he should've...he didn't..."

A swift kick knocked the sword out of his opponents hand and it skidded across the dojo floor before Sephiroth's blade was pointed at the others neck.

"One moment of hesitation is all it takes to lose the fight," Sephiroth spoke while pulling the sword away, "you've left yourself open to every possible attack."

The sound of the door opening could be heard but all of the students in the dojo kept their focus on the silver haired man and his sparring partner.

"Never second guess, there is no room for that. It can be the deciding factor between life and death," Sephiroth finished explaining before glancing towards the door and seeing Angeal standing nearby.

"That's all for today," Sephiroth said to the students who all replied with "yes sir" in unison before bowing towards the man. They filed out of the dojo, stopping briefly to say their greetings to Angeal.

"How did the class go?" Angeal asked while crossing the room over towards the other.

Sephiroth gave a shake of his head before taking a seat, "there are only a few that I see that will make good Samurai. The others wont make it far."

Angeal nodded as he took a seat across from the other. "They definitely need more training."

"Yes," Sephiroth replied with a sigh. "How is Gen feeling today?"

"Still has a bit of a fever, just been sleeping mostly," Angeal explained.

"I'll go visit him later today after the conference," Sephiroth said. He hated that he had been so busy the last few days, he wanted nothing more than to be able to be with his boyfriend when he wasn't feeling well.

"I was thinking when he's feeling better that we should take him to that new book store that opened up," Angeal started before laughing slightly, "he said that the library in the castle is lacking anything of worth."

Sephiroth smiled a bit at that before speaking. "That's about a town away isn't it?"

"Yeah," Angeal replied, "But I think it would be good for him to get away from here for just a little while. I think he would appreciate it."

Tilting his head slightly Sephiroth kept his gaze on his friend. Angeal was staring off into another direction now and the smile that had been on his face before had vanished and was replaced with a look that Sephiroth couldn't exactly place but it seemed to be bordering concern or worry.

"What's wrong?" Sephiroth asked while narrowing his eyes slightly.

Glancing back over towards the other Angeal shook his head, "nothing."

Sephiroth wasn't buying that. And Angeal knew he wasn't. He didn't respond but instead kept a pointed look at Angeal. It was pointless really for either of them to ever try lying to each other. Knowing each other for years had made it impossible to do so, they could read each other so well.

"It's just uh," Angeal began while clearing his throat, "well...the Shogun made a pass at Gen at one of the resident dinners."

There was a brief moment of silence as Sephiroth's eyes widened. For a moment he thought he may have heard wrong but from the look on Angeal's face he knew he hadn't been mistaken. The reputation of the Shogun...it was something that many knew about but Sephiroth had always just thought maybe it was only idle gossip. But now that Genesis was brought into the equation he wasn't going to second guess.

He quickly stood to his feet and Angeal reached out a hand grabbing a hold of his leg.

"Easy," he warned to his friend while narrowing his eyes, "don't go getting worked up about this. Nothing came of it."

"I won't allow it," Sephiroth spoke, almost as if he hadn't even heard Angeal speak to him.

"Seph!" Angeal started again trying to gain his friends full attention, "everything is fine alright? Relax...besides Gen would be upset if he knew I told you, he swore for me not to tell you anything."

"What?" Sephiroth asked as jade eyes scanned blue. "Why wouldn't he want me to know?"

"Because of such a reaction," Angeal explained with a gesture of his hand. "Now come on...I didn't tell you to get you upset but I just wanted you to know. And also to understand why I thought getting him out of the castle for a while would be good, just for a change of pace. Nothing happened, he made a pass but he realized Gen wasn't one to be easily manipulated. He backed down without a fight."

Nodding a bit dumbly Sephiroth's gaze shifted towards the floor. "That's good. And I mean Gen's father is on the council so that wouldn't even be acceptable."

Letting out a sigh Angeal crossed his arms across his chest. "Well that is how it should be anyways but I have heard some things...council members children or not. But the Shogun knows his boundaries when it comes to the Rhapsodos family. I'm surprised he even tried at all, but that's in the past."

Clapping his friend on the back a few times he gave a smile. "In any case, shouldn't you be getting ready to visit him before the conference?"



"But he did," Sephiroth finished quietly before crossing the room to take a seat back at the table. He quickly reached for the bottle of sake and poured himself another drink.

Not saying anything for the moment Angeal mulled the words over in his head. 'He did.' Genesis hadn't told him that the Shogun made a pass at him during that resident dinner all those years ago. It just so happened that Angeal had stepped out of the dinner hall and made his way further down the corridor when he overheard voices. He remembered the distinct voice of Genesis, it sounded angry and disgusted. The other voice was speaking in a more quiet and calm tone and he couldn't place it right away. But once he turned the corner he saw Genesis with his back against the wall and the Shogun standing very closely in front of him. He didn't have to say anything because they both had heard someone approaching and the Shogun had backed away and took his leave shortly thereafter, going back to the dinner hall. Genesis wasn't going to say anything about it at all and had just wanted to go back to the dinner, but Angeal pressed him about what had just transpired. It was after a while that Genesis finally admitted that the Shogun propositioned him in some way, but Genesis insisted that he made it clear to the man to stay away from him. He had been so convincing in his explanation that Angeal believed him, he thought that the Shogun wouldn't ever approach him again. After all he was the son of a council men. But...he knew now that that meant nothing.

"In some ways yes," Angeal finally spoke while turning pained blue eyes to Sephiroth. "Do you blame me for what happened?" It was something he had always wondered but never had the courage to ask. But it ate away at him everyday.

Staring into the small cup of sake the General didn't have to think long at all before speaking.

"No...I blame myself."



"Don't fall asleep, you can't fall asleep yet."

A small smile crossed Sephiroth's face before he placed a kiss on his lover's forehead, gently brushing aside auburn locks.

"I'm far from asleep," he explained softly.

"Good," Genesis spoke while pressing a kiss against the other's strong chest, "I know you have to leave early tomorrow...but I want to be selfish and keep you as long as I can."

Tightening his arms around the smaller one Sephiroth let out a sigh. He hated having to leave Genesis whenever he went on assignments, but it couldn't be helped. They both understood that but it never made it any easier. So they always cherished the last moments they had together before they would have to part ways. Genesis made Sephiroth promise him this time however to spend the whole day with him before he left. He had insisted on it really, and had told him that if Sephiroth had anything on his schedule that he didn't care and that he had to clear it. He wanted him for the full day.

It was a little surprising to Sephiroth at first, but then again he knew that his boyfriend could be demanding when he wanted to be. It was that fiery characteristic that he loved about him though. So that was how the day had been, they spent every minute together and now they were lying in bed in the late night hours after a passionate evening of lovemaking.

"I was thinking," Genesis began quietly while twirling a strand of silver hair around his finger. "Do you think love transcends time?"

Raising his eyebrows Sephiroth gave a bit of a hmm before responding. "If it's real I believe so."

Lifting up his head so that he could look into green eyes Genesis continued. "So you think if someone is your soul mate...no matter when or what time, in the next life and beyond that...they'd be together?"

"Absolutely," Sephiroth replied without a moment of hesitation.

A wide smile spread across Genesis face and his eyes seemed to light up...but Sephiroth couldn't help but to think even with that his expression seemed...sad.

"I think so too," he replied while lowering his head back to the others chest and curling up beside him.

Running his fingers gently through Genesis hair a frown settled on Sephiroth's face.

"What made you ask that Gen?"

A moment of silence passed between them and Sephiroth let out a quiet sigh.

"Nothing is going to happen to me while I'm away, so don't think-"

"I know that," Genesis cut in gently.

"Good," Sephiroth replied, "And you know that we'll always be together. This life and the next."

"...Always," Genesis spoke while rising up on his elbow once more to look into Sephiroth's face. He tried to hold back his tears but he couldn't. Before he could even react to them however Sephiroth had pushed himself up and took the other into his arms.

"Gen?" He asked in concern. He hadn't ever seen his boyfriend in such a state.

"I just...I don't want to let you go," Genesis explained against his chest while wrapping his arms around his neck. "I'm going to miss you so much."

"It's okay," the Samurai began soothingly, "we won't be apart for long"

Nodding Genesis tightened his arms around his neck. "I know...we won't."

It was breaking Sephiroth's heart to see Genesis so upset over his departure, he had never been so emotional about it. He was never happy about it but he always put on a smile, he never had cried like he was now.

"And no matter what...or where you go never forget me...and how much I love you," Genesis explained while pulling away to look into green eyes.

"No matter where I am Gen I never stop thinking about you," Sephiroth explained seriously while searching teary blue eyes, "I love you more than anything...I always will."

Leaning in Genesis pressed his lips to the others before they got caught in one of the most passionate kisses that they had ever shared. Every ounce of their love for one another was poured into that kiss, it seemed to surpass a physical connection and took on something completely deeper altogether.

After the night grew on and they cuddled up back together. Genesis tears eventually dried but he didn't move an inch away from Sephiroth, they stayed together in each others arms before the early light of day broke through the sky signaling that the Samurai had to get up and depart soon. During the process of him getting ready Genesis had woken up. He didn't say anything and instead silently watched as Sephiroth suited up. Once he was ready he made his way back to the bed before whispering his love to Genesis and placing a kiss on his lips. It was when he had gotten ready to walk away that Genesis reached out and grabbed a hold of his fingers. He only held onto them for a moment before gently letting his hand go, although he seemed to have a bit of a distant look in his eyes.

"Goodbye love," Genesis said softly before giving a small smile.

Sephiroth returned the smile before quietly exiting the room. After he had taken a few steps away from Genesis room he paused. Genesis never said the words goodbye to him, he had always told Sephiroth that goodbye was too permanent. Shaking his head he dismissed it though, he figured he was probably looking too much into it.

Days went by and eventually weeks. The assignment had turned out to be longer than probably anybody had thought but it finally came to an end and they were able to go back home. Angeal's unit had been a bit ahead of Sephiroth's and so he had made it back into Edo just hours before Sephiroth had. Once back Sephiroth had only stopped at home briefly before making his way towards the castle. With how Genesis had reacted to him leaving the last time he wanted nothing more than to see him. While he was away all he had thought about was Genesis, and he couldn't describe how much he had missed him.

He had made it to castle relatively quickly but once he stepped inside something seemed to be off. The overall feeling in the air just seemed different from when he was there last and he automatically felt himself become worried. Why he felt that way he couldn't describe at the time but he knew that did. Quickly making his way down the corridors he dismissed the passerby's who greeted him saying it was good to see him back home safely again. He couldn't care less about their greetings though, he just had an overwhelming feeling to see Genesis. Once he had made it further into the castle and was nearing Genesis quarters he saw a few people standing outside the door conversing. But in front of them standing off to the side was Angeal. His eyes were vacant and he was leaning against the wall before scuffing his hands through his hair.

"Angeal?" Sephiroth asked as he approached.

His friend looked up at him before shaking his head.

"What's wrong, what's going on?" Sephiroth hurriedly questioned as the sense of dread intensified within his stomach.

If Angeal wanted to answer him he couldn't. He just continued to shake his head before clutching his hair in his fist.

From that point on everything seemed to be in slow motion for Sephiroth. He glanced towards the door and realized that one of the people standing outside of it was Genesis mother and she was sobbing uncontrollably while Angeal's mother tried her best to comfort her but tears were spilling out of her eyes as well.

He took a hesitant step towards them before Angeal reached out his hand to stop him.

"He's gone," he finally said, "they said he had been sick with a high fever and..."

"No," Sephiroth cut in with disbelief while taking a step back. He didn't want to hear anymore...he couldn't hear anymore. But that wasn't going to change what was reality. It was where his denial started, but as the days passed by...the days without Genesis, there was no denying it anymore. Genesis was gone, and he wasn't coming back. Sephiroth knew that, but he supposed he hadn't accepted it fully until the funeral. He had gotten to see his love one last time, and in that state he just appeared to be sleeping. He looked peaceful and beautiful...it was almost too overwhelming, but Sephiroth didn't shed a tear. Everyone around him on that day was tearful and sobbing, but he couldn't cry. It was because he was...angry. Angry at losing his soul mate? Yes. Of course, but more so upset because he felt as if he was stolen away...no, he knew he was stolen away.

He hadn't spoken much to anybody since he had set foot back into Edo on that horrid day. People were very much aware that Sephiroth and Genesis were close. In fact many people knew of their relationship, it wasn't anything they ever truly tried to hide. Though they weren't openly affectionate in public either. But either way everyone knew that the loss of Genesis must've been difficult for him and so they understood him being more withdrawn than usual. Though some of his friends were starting to really worry about him.

After the service Sephiroth quickly departed. There were people lingering around after and in all honesty he just wanted them to leave, he wanted to be able to say his goodbyes in private, and he would go back later when he could be alone to do so. But at that moment he needed to be away. He had made his way into the town near the lake before halting at the waters edge.

"What?" He asked while staring at the water that gently reflected the light of what little sun was peeking through. It was foggy and overcast out, the weather seemed to match the whole dreariness of the day.

"You left quickly," the voice said while taking a few steps closer.

"Why did you follow me?" Sephiroth asked in a calm voice despite the different emotions he was feeling.

"I was worried about you," Angeal admitted. "Seph you haven't said hardly anything since..."

"I don't have anything to say," Sephiroth quickly replied.

"Genesis parents are worried about you," Angeal said while taking another step closer.

"I gave them my condolences. If they want more from me I apologize but that's all I can give for now."

Frowning Angeal shook his head "they don't want anything from you. Sephiroth...I know you feel guilty about not being there. But Gen...he was sick. Not to say that we say this coming but...his body just couldn't fight the fever this time. It's nobody's fault."

'Nobody's fault.'

It was those words that pushed Sephiroth over the edge. What complete and utter garbage.

"You're honestly not that naive are you Angeal?"

Blinking a bit in confusion Angeal furrowed his eyebrows. "What do you mean?"

Turning around to face the other Sephiroth narrowed his eyes.

"Genesis didn't die from a fever, you know that!"

"I don't understand," Angeal started with a shake of his head.

"You DO understand," Sephiroth corrected firmly.

Pausing Angeal kept his focus on Sephiroth, trying to read his face to find any indicator of what he was speaking his friend was too stricken with grief that he was just spouting off? But...the look in those green eyes told Angeal otherwise.

"Genesis didn't die from a fever," Sephiroth repeated, "he committed suicide."

"What?" Angeal asked in shock as his eyes widened, "why would you even say something like that?"

"You know why!" Sephiroth shouted, "because he refused to be the Shogun's play thing anymore. He couldn't continue to live in such disgrace."

"What? That was a long time ago...nothing came of the Shogun, Genesis wasn't-"

"I won't allow you to deny that the Shogun didn't touch Gen," Sephiroth continued, "to do that would be to insult his life that he had to end."

Shaking his head Angeal turned and walked away a few steps. "No, I asked him and he said nothing happened. I even asked him once more on a separate occasion and he assured me that everything was fine."

"He didn't want to appear anymore weak than everyone already thought him to be because of his illness," Sephiroth explained. "You know that better than anyone Angeal. Of course he wouldn't tell us, he was too proud to. He already couldn't be a Samurai and felt weak because of that...you honestly think he would tell us about this?"

Letting the information sink in Angeal frowned. No he...couldn't accept it. There was no way.

Sephiroth could see the gears turning in Angeal's head and he continued on.

"Think about it Angeal. The things that you may have turned a blind eye to, what didn't seem to be a big deal at the time. Something that should've warned you but you dismissed. Gen might've told you with words that everything was fine...but his actions didn't."

As much as Angeal didn't want to admit it...he knew Sephiroth was right. And looking back in retrospect there were many signs that pointed towards something not being right. And all that time he did nothing about it.

Turning back to look at the lake Sephiroth clenched his fist at his sides.

"I never should've left on that assignment," he started softly, "Gen told me...in so many words he told he was leaving me behind. But I didn't understand it at the time...that alone tells me."

Looking back to Sephiroth Angeal gently shook his head. "I don't...but his family said he was sick with a fever."

"No doubt because the Shogun told them to say so," Sephiroth began, "just so he could save face. And if Gen's parents knew in the end what really happened with the Shogun...perhaps they did it to hide the truth from everyone else."

With each word that Sephiroth spoke to the other Angeal felt a stab of pain in his chest. He was always looking out for Genesis, even if the other insisted he didn't need him to. It was what he did, his duty as his brother. And to know now that he didn't protect him when he needed him most...he wasn't sure how to deal with that...no. Live with that.

"That's just...I don't know if I can believe that," Angeal continued. Maybe he was so persistent on denial because he couldn't accept the harsh reality...even though he knew it to be true. To fully accept it and acknowledge it was too painful.

"I'm sorry that you don't then," Sephiroth began while turning to look back at Angeal. "But I won't dishonor Gen's life by accepting this lie that we've been fed. I'll see to it that the Shogun pays for it."

"Wait...Seph, what are you talking about?" Angeal asked with a shake of his head. "You think you can just walk up to the Shogun and accuse him of something like this? And if it were true, what then! You're only a Samurai and he's the Shogun, you wouldn't-"

"If I die in the process then so be it," Sephiroth cut in while taking a step forward so that he was standing right in front of Angeal. "I won't let Gen's death be in vain. He was stolen from me and I have every intention on making that man pay, Shogun or not."

Angeal could tell that Sephiroth was serious. He held not one bit of hesitance in his voice and the look in his eyes were clear. Sephiroth loved Genesis more than anyone, and the fact that he had lost him on account of the Shogun...that he wasn't able to protect him...Angeal knew that hurt him more than anything. And he had to admit he shared the sentiment.

"I understand what you're saying," Angeal started calmly. "But do you think this is what Gen would've wanted?"

"Possibly," Sephiroth replied, "I told him before I left...that we'd be together always. In this life and the next."

"That doesn't mean that time is now," Angeal explained, "I know you're hurting but you can't be reckless. And doing something foolish at the state you're in now...that's not the answer."

It didn't seem as if Sephiroth was really being persuaded with the words Angeal was speaking and the other let out a sigh before closing his eyes briefly.

"Please Seph...promise me?" Angeal asked while opening distraught blue eyes, "I've just lost my little brother, I can't lose my best friend too."

As much as Sephiroth wanted to dismiss his friends plea...he couldn't. He knew that he couldn't. Just like he was hurting he knew Angeal was too, and he owed his friend a little comfort. And so with one short nod he made a promise to his friend, he wouldn't do anything foolish. Although he told Angeal that he wouldn't disgrace Gen's memory. The other wasn't completely sure what that meant, but he knew that Sephiroth would never, ever forgive the Shogun.



"It's something that I have to live with everyday," Sephiroth spoke softly before shifting a bit in his seat, "although I've come to accept it."

Nodding briefly Angeal kept a close eye on the General before he was continuing to speak.

"What you're doing for Cloud," he started while looking back to the other, "it's a good thing. If I can help in any way please let me know."

"Thank you," Angeal replied with a sigh, "I'll talk with Zack tonight, we do need to figure out something. The search is increasing for him."

"His parents must be worried," Sephiroth said while picking up his cup.

"I suppose," Angeal started, "well his mother at least. Zack told me that Cloud's father was aware of the situation."

"Sickening," Sephiroth said without a moment of hesitation. That was one thing he was sure of when it came to Genesis, his parents would've never agreed to such a thing. Whatever occured with the Shogun was kept hidden from his family until the end. Although even now Sephiroth wasn't sure exactly how much they knew.

"It is, I don't understand a motive," Angeal explained.

"To move up higher on the council I would presume," Sephiroth began with a wave of his hand, "he's chamberlain is he not?"

"Yes," Angeal replied with a nod.

Sephiroth was just about to speak when a small knock sounded at the door.

"Come in," Angeal said while glancing over towards the entrance. The door slid open and a blond head came into view as Cloud peeked in.

"Forgive me for interrupting," he said softly with a bow, "I just...I realized the time was late and...Angeal did Zack say anything to you about not coming back here tonight?"

Angeal frowned before speaking. "He's not back yet?"

"No," Cloud said while twining his fingers together, "And I just...was sort of worried about him. He told me today that he wasn't going to be gone long."

Shooting a glance to Sephiroth the Samurai stood up. "I should probably go check to make sure everything is alright given the circumstances."

"Nobody else knows your here Cloud?" Sephiroth asked.

"No," he started with a shake of his head, "Aside from you now that's all."

"Zack has been staying here also lately," Angeal started to explain to Sephiroth as he rose from the table, "he doesn't want to be far away from Cloud. Though he is usually back by now...do you mind if I step out for a moment?"

"Not at all," Sephiroth replied while Angeal walked over towards the doors of the Den. He placed a comforting hand on Cloud's shoulder before telling him he would be right back and then he was on his way.

Looking back towards Sephiroth Cloud bowed once more.

"I'm sorry, I'll just be back in the main room then," he started before turning to leave.

"Cloud," Sephiroth began before he completely exited, "please, come have a seat."

A look of hesitation was in the boys eyes and Sephiroth gestured to the seat across from him.

"Please," he said once more.

Stepping into the den Cloud quietly crossed the room and took a seat across from the General. He was partially wondering if the General was going to lecture him more, after all he had just interrupted he and Angeal's conversation and had pretty much asked if Angeal could check on Zack on his behalf. But he just wanted to make sure he was okay...he didn't want anything happening because of him.

"How long has your father been on the council?" Sephiroth asked while pouring a cup of sake and pushing it towards Cloud who accepted it quietly.

"Officially about a year and half," Cloud explained.

Narrowing his eyes Sephiroth nodded. "He replaced Chamberlain Toga was it?"

"I believe so," Cloud said while glancing towards the table.

"Did you ever meet any of the council before moving here?"

"Before moving here?" Cloud asked and the other simply nodded, "I don't think so...but when my family moved here they had a welcoming dinner for us. That's where I met everyone."

"Why did your father replace Toga? Did he retire?" Sephiroth continued to question.

"I...I don't know," Cloud replied with a shake of his head, "I don't really know the specifics. And my father doesn't really talk to me about those kinds of things."

"Is that so?" Sephiroth asked partially to himself while taking a sip of his drink.

"May I ask why all the questions about my father?" Cloud asked while lifting blue eyes to meet green.

"I'm just trying to find out more about the man who would so easily give his son to the Shogun," Sephiroth explained while setting down his cup.

Cloud's eyes widened and what little color was in his face drained away. It was in that moment that Sephiroth regretted being so blunt.

"Angeal told you?" Cloud asked while already standing up on his feet.

"Yes but you needn't worry," Sephiroth replied as Cloud bowed his head.

"But that's not...he shouldn't have," Cloud started shakily before turning to head towards the door.

"Cloud," Sephiroth started as he quickly stood to his feet as well and crossed the room to catch the blonde. He had just placed a hand on the boys shoulder to stop him when Cloud instantly jerked away from his touch and spun around to face him.

"It's none of your business," Cloud spoke while trying to blink back his shameful tears. He may have been talking to the General but he didn't care. It was his life, and he didn't want everyone knowing about the twisted, sick things that were transpiring lately. And even if his dad had done him wrong, he still didn't want to disgrace his family or their name by speaking about his father in a bad way. It was a strange conflicting emotion but it was how he felt.

"I'm not judging you in any way," Sephiroth started gently. There was something about seeing the tears well up in those blue eyes that made Sephiroth want to make them go away. Even though he didn't know Cloud all too well...the fact that he was experiencing what Genesis had gone through...it made him feel as if they were close somehow. As odd as that may be.

"None of what's happened is your fault in any way," Sephiroth continued while tilting up the others chin with his finger. "You do understand that don't you?"

Pausing briefly to think it over Cloud lifted a hand to wipe at his eyes. He knew that it wasn't his fault...but in some twisted way, maybe down the line somewhere he started to wonder if he had in fact done something to bring all of the bad fortune he had experienced on himself.

"You have nothing to be ashamed of, you have to remember that," Sephiroth spoke gently before glancing away. Those words were words that he wished he had been able to speak to Genesis. To let him know that he hadn't disgraced himself or his family, that he wasn't lower because of what happened. That he was still worthy of his love, and always would be. That he didn't have to leave him.

Looking back to Cloud he gently wiped away one of his tears before continuing. "I only want to help you Cloud. So don't be angry at Angeal for telling me. Like him and Zack...I want to help you."

Cloud looked a bit confused at this momentarily. Sephiroth's words seemed more than sincere, but he couldn't understand fully why Sephiroth wanted to help him. He didn't even really know him. And just earlier he swore that the General only saw him as a hindrance to Angeal. So why?



Authors notes: And here is Chapter 17! A quick look on Sephiroth and Angeal's past and one of the Shogun's interest. I also wanted to note here instead of at the beginning because I didn't want to give things away. But suicide back in Japan during this period was common when it came to things of honor and such. So I hope people understand that. Genesis suicide was more of a thing to keep his honor, and honor his love Sephiroth. He didn't want to have to live with the shame and disgrace of betraying his love. Even though as Sephiroth thinks in the end there, he wished he would have told Genesis that he had nothing to feel ashamed about. Although of course Sephiroth wasn't aware of what was fully going on at that time. But there will be more depth to this past and the whole Sephiroth and Genesis thing. Cloud doesn't really understand why Sephiroth wants to help, but of course he is unaware that the General lost his love because of the Shogun. Eww the Shogun has been a creep forever! Lol! And hmm, where did Zack disappear to? Well until next update everyone! Thanks so much for your patience and your comments and reviews! You all are the best!

 



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