“Why do you always tell me to stay away from Sephiroth?” Rufus all but whined for the thousandth time.
“Fine. I will show you why you should not even try to engage Sephiroth in any sexual activities.”
Tseng turned away from the young Shinra, his ponytail making an angry arch in the air. He retrieved his personal data load and started typing quickly at the miniature keyboard.
Rufus watched the deceptively slim Wutaian man, and had to admit the man aged well. He was already thirty but didn’t look it. His figure was trim, kept in shape by hours of heavy training, often with Rufus himself.
His father truly made a mistake, letting the Turks raise him, because now Rufus was going to destroy him. He would not let his Turks risk their lives for the President.
“Over the years we tried placing many agents near Sephiroth. The man had no trusted companions and nothing even resembling a friend, besides the other two Generals. Even that relationship wasn’t close one. He hoped that Sephiroth would trust a lover much more easily. It turned out differently. A lot of the agents we sent managed to bed the General over the years. None of them spent the night however, none of them ever saw the General sleeping. As of now there is exactly one person who saw Sephiroth sleeping, up close and it’s not Hojo.”
“Who is it?”
Tseng smiled mirthlessly.
“It’s the first and only true lover Sephiroth ever had. Zack Fair, SOLDIER First Class. If you doubt the depth of that relationship I will show you a recording that was made at the end of Wutai War.”
With those words Tseng handed over the data pas with the video already starting.
“Trying to get Zack Fair to act against Sephiroth is also useless. The man might look harmless, but he is anything but.”
The video started finally and Rufus stopped wondering at the odd note in Tseng’s voice.
The video was soundless and low quality, obviously made long distance in poor conditions.
The lush, wet greenery was obviously Wutai. The scenery showed rolling hills, cut up by the war with still fresh scorch marks.
The camera skimmed over the camp, obviously in search of something before fixing on a familiar, black haired man in SOLDIER First Class uniform. Now that he thought about it, Zack Fair was almost in as many media pictures as Sephiroth. Always beside the man, always at his right. Rufus realized also, that Zack Fair was the only armed man to walk this close to Sephiroth’s back.
Zack looked painfully young in the video. He was only a teenager then, Rufus realized. Younger than Rufus was now. The famous, spiky hair was much shorter then, barely reaching the nape of his neck, but it was as unruly as ever.
The SOLDIER stood stretched out, one hand shielding his eyes from the bright sun, he was obviously searching for something or someone. Suddenly he froze, his whole posture radiating attention. If he was a dog, he would be in a pointer position right then.
Whoever the cameraman was, he followed Fair’s line of sight until he found the object of Fair’s attention.
In the shade of a huge, ancient tree, with his back resting on the trunk, sat Sephiroth. He was in full uniform, even in that heat. There were however subtle signs of relaxation. The Masamune, usually sheathed on his side or back, was resting over his knees. He had one hand resting on the hilt. There was a book beside him, lying forgotten as the man slept.
In his sleep the General did not look gentle at all. He too was young then, Rufus remembered, just sixteen at the beginning of the war and eighteen at the end. With his eyes closed and face without tension, he looked even more eerie. His features so perfect and pale they reminded Rufus more of sculptures than real, live people.
The camera moved again, showing Fair jogging up the hill with a fiendish grin on his handsome face.
Rufus waited for the General to wake up as the SOLDIER approached, he was obviously making no effort to be quiet, what with all of the metal on his armor.
Fair got under the tree and sat with crossed legs beside the General.
Sephiroth shifted but didn’t wake up, which obviously wasn’t a surprise to Fair. It indicated that such behavior was known, even expected by the young SOLDIER.
“After seeing this recording we realized that Fair wasn’t just another bed partner.” Tseng interjected quietly.
Rufus could not however tear his gaze away from the recording where Zack took a section of that trademark silver hair and started... braiding it.
“Oh... he will not.” Rufus breathed, fascinated by the sheer potential of mayhem that could happen.
Even Tseng smiled a bit.
“That part of the video made us also consider another psych evaluation for Fair.” The Turk murmured wryly.
Rufus watched as Fair, still grinning like a loon, took out a handful of neon pink ribbons and proceeded to tie a cute bow on the end of the first braid. Rufus watched with bated breath as the man braided a few dozen tiny braids, each finished with perfect, pink bow and wondered how in Hell did Zack survive this?
Sephiroth with pink bows in his hair.
Eventually the General started stirring and Zack hid the rest o0f the ribbons. He leaned down over the General and said something, obviously waking the man further.
Sephiroth blinked and sat down straighter, obviously very much at ease with the close proximity of the young Soldier.
Fair said something again, rose, waved goodbye and started jogging away.
Sephiroth nodded at him and then froze, a handful of hot pink ribbons getting into his line of sight.
Very slowly he reached a hand behind himself and took some of the braids, pulling them to the front. He stared for a moment at the bows, obviously not comprehending, before his head snapped up, staring after Fair.
He called something and was off like a shot. Fair jerked and immediately blurred into Haste, trying to outrun the General.
The video ended, leaving Rufus totally speechless.
“They tore up half the camp, and Fair showed up with a very… military… haircut the next day. Very regulation-like.”
Rufus gave the data pad back, still more than a little shocked. It was strangely... compelling to see that brief glimpse of a more carefree Sephiroth. The expression of baffled incomprehension on his face as he stared at the neon pink ribbons in his hair was going to stay with Rufus for a very, very long time.
“I’m still surprised. I didn’t even know Sephiroth could even be like that.”
Tseng put the data pad away and turned to look through the mirrored window.
“Only Zack Fair. For whatever reason he managed to get inside Sephiroth’s defenses. Only he is allowed to see everything Sephiroth is when he isn’t a Shinra general. The relationship between those two is sometimes painfully sweet in its purity. However that innocence was bought by a sea of blood. Rufus, promise me, never try to separate those two. They live on borrowed time and they know it. Eventually somebody with power will interfere. Be it Hojo or the President, or maybe Fate itself. Once that happens be sure to be as far away from them as possible. Sephiroth doesn’t care for much; almost nothing, really. However the things he does cherish, he will not let go of. I have seen the kind of sheer willpower the man possesses. I fear that even death won’t be much of an obstacle for him. He is immensely powerful, the only thing that lets Hojo control him in the simple fact that Sephiroth had never known freedom, he doesn’t long for it. Be it God or monster, he is something far beyond the realm of our understanding.
It was probably the first time Rufus saw Tseng this serious, this open, talking not about orders or work, but giving his true opinions.
“Have you told any of this to Father?”
Tseng closed his eyes.
“The President doesn’t even want to listen.
The implied ‘but you do’ was very clear. It made Rufus want to earn such respect.
“I will remember.”
Tseng looked at him, long and silent, obviously taking his measure. Then, very slowly, Tseng bowed deeply, formally acknowledging Rufus as somebody worth utmost respect.
Rufus rose from his chair and bowed back, doing something that would make his father have a heart attack in outrage.
It would take Rufus another six months to realize that during that short exchange, with that single gesture, Tseng had promised his and whole Turks loyalty singularly to Rufus.
President Shinra would notice the Turks no longer obeyed him on the day of his death when no Turks stood between him and his killer, all of them guarding Rufus’ escape from the Tower.