The huge, glass wall in Sephiroth’s living room was tinted red with the first rays of sunset, casting the whole room in russet colors, giving the false impression of warmth.
The place was completely quiet, save for Zack’s harsh breathing.
The young SOLDIER stared at his lover and commanding officer with eyes wide and wary, panting through pain and panic, trying valiantly to understand what was happening. His arm pulsed with pain, throbbed horribly even though his rapid healing was already at work. The skin under his torn shirt felt hot, overstretched, which meant his arm was still swollen.
It wasn’t the first time Sephiroth had injured him. The man tended to be a bit rough with Zack, mostly to convince himself that Zack could take it, that the young man wouldn’t break. And the black haired man accepted it as a part of who and what they were together.
The damage this time was too extensive though. If it wasn’t for the extensive modification First Class went through, he would have lost his arm. Even now he could tell that his bone was fractured, muscles and ligaments torn.
It wasn’t the extent of damage that scared him shitless this time. It was the fact that for a moment, for a brief second he couldn’t recognize Sephiroth at all. His eyes seemed greener, colder than usual. For a second, just a heartbeat, Zack could swear that Sephiroth intended to harm him, truly wanted to cripple him.
They now stood on the opposite sides of the room. Sephiroth with his back to the glass wall and the stunning view behind it and Zack opposite him, panting, back pressed firmly to the wall. They stared at each other. Zack confused, scared and hurt, with adrenaline running wild in his system, Sephiroth cold and still, unnaturally quiet near the windows.
General’s eyes were different to usual. Zack was used to the fact that Sephiroth was a rather distant person, introverted and often coldly scheming. What freaked him the hell out was that while cold, Sephiroth was never deliberately cruel. At least, not to him. This time, for a brief second, it felt as if the man didn’t even recognize him at all.
Zack watched the last rays of sunlight slither down that powerful figure, painting that pale silver hair a stunning array of colors, making his face look warmer, taking away the deathly pale sheen. The General’s shirt was unbuttoned, a testament to the lovemaking they were attempting before all hell broke loose.
With a grunt, careful not to take his eyes away from Sephiroth, Zack shifted his arm, relieved to find it somehow mobile.
He wanted to shout, to scream, to rail at Sephiroth. Wanted to demand an answer, know what the fuck was going on, why did the silver haired man want to cripple him? The unusual, almost foreign expression in his eyes stopped Zack from uttering a word though.
Ever since Seph started going for the last series of treatments Hojo ordered, things were getting seriously fucked up. He would become violent suddenly, sometimes possessive to the extent that Zack had to make sure to not even pass Cloud in the corridor because after the way Sephiroth came after Genesis when the man had teased Zack, as he always did, Zack was too damn scared to think what would happen if Sephiroth saw Cloud as a trespasser suddenly. Those violent swings of emotion would then be punctuated by long stretches of time when Seph would become distant, downright distracted, not always all there. What scared Zack even more than the violence, was that distraction.
Sephiroth was one of the most focused people he knew. The ability to not lose the sight of target in every action was what made Sephiroth such a damn good General. So to see the man sometimes actually lose the track of thought or even conversation was making Zack sick with worry.
It didn’t help that the older man wouldn’t explain anything to Zack. Over the years the General learned to trust Zack more, to tell him at least something of what was weighing on him. This time however he kept quiet, distant, distrustful.
He seemed like a stranger more and more often.
Zack shifted, wanting to move, but even though the other man didn’t react outwardly, the sudden change in atmosphere was enough to freeze Zack in his tracks. Sephiroth didn’t show it, but his intent to kill, the intent to do violence spiked sharply, flooding the room and making Zack nauseous again.
“Seph…” Zack whispered, lost and more than a little scared.
Suddenly Sephiroth moved, shifting back further into the room and resting one hand, his sword hand, on the back of a wooden chair. Zack was too well trained not to notice that the older man gave him a clear way to the door.
“You should go.” The voice was low, echoing, with a kind of undertone Zack never heard before.
His arm still hurt like it was seriously going to fall off, his fingers still swollen and unresponsive even though his rapid healing was working to repair the damage.
Zack made a few cautious steps toward the door, even reached the doorframe and then stopped. He could feel the older man at the other end of the room, a tightly leashed ball of aggression and pain and those strange, unfamiliar urges that scared Zack shitless. He could also feel his own pain, his fear, the terrified pounding of his heart.
It wasn’t right. He was sure of it. If he left right then, it felt as if he would lose something. And Gods help him, he wanted to leave, to leave the pain and suffering behind for once. He was scared and tired, lost and so damn helpless.
He stopped, one hand on the doorknob.
He loved Sephiroth, he knew that. Hell damn him, but there was no way for him to turn his back on his lover, even if it felt like that man wasn’t the same one he knew.
His hand slid down from the knob and he turned back to the man that terrified him as much as he enraptured him.
He closed his eyes briefly in prayer. He prayed for help, for someone, anyone to help Sephiroth because Gods knew that whatever Zack did it just wasn’t enough. Never enough.
“I won’t leave you.”
The General said nothing, but his eyes glittered an eerie, unfamiliar green as he crossed the room reaching for Zack with hungry lips and rough hands.
* * *
“Have you been up all night?” Zack asked, leaning on the doorway to the bedroom. He felt much better than he had any right to, and that meant somebody used a Cure on him. A mastered one too.
Sephiroth was still only partially dressed. His trademark leather pants and the black shirt made from high quality silk was a look Zack was rarely treated to. The man looked calm and collected. His body still, eyes focused on something behind the glass wall as he watched the night sky lighten.
The General was keeping his distance, but after the night they had, it didn’t surprise Zack.
“I had things on my mind.”
Zack snorted. That was a bit of an understatement. But it also relieved Zack to see the man back to his usual self.
“You should rest, too. It’s not good for you to lose sleep like this.”
It was a familiar dance between them. Sephiroth neglecting his creature comforts and Zack hounding him for it. Even if the atmosphere between them was a bit strained it was still something they were both familiar with.
The words almost made the black haired man take a double take. That wasn’t something one heard often from the Hero of Wutai.
Somehow Zack doubted Seph meant the night before.
“I’m sorry for being so cold. For hurting you over and over again.”
That was also a familiar ground, if one that was rarely visited.
“I’m not unhappy.” The younger man countered gently. He forgot, for a moment, that though cold, his lover wasn’t uncaring.
Sephiroth shifted, his long hair falling over his face, obscuring it from view for a moment.
“We are not equal in this relationship. That doesn’t feel right.” Countered the General calmly.
Zack straightened, raising his chin high. He was an experienced soldier, he fought side by side with Sephiroth in Wutai and followed him ever since, always at his shoulder.
“I chose you, and you chose me. There was no mere coincidence in that. No trifle fate or mere fascination. I chose you. With my heart, my soul and mind. And I haven’t regretted it even once.” The words were loud and clear.
The silver man flickered his green eyes to Zack’s right arm and back again, reminding him of the damage done yesterday.
“Never.” The dark haired man confirmed.
The Silver General turned from him to watch the first signs of raising sun on the horizon.
“I will make you a promise, then.”
Zack froze. Sephiroth never, ever promised things. It was one of the man’s quirks, but he was adamant about this. In all the years Zack knew Sephiroth, he never once heard him use that word. At all.
It sent another shiver of worry down Zack’s back.
“Whatever may happen, I will never kill you.” The words were low, clear and final. Sephiroth said exactly what he meant to say.
It was a first and only promise Sephiroth ever made Zack and that one thing he would fulfill. When the time came, he would stay his hand from delivering the killing blow, even if he already couldn’t remember just why he did it.