First time Zack asked Sephiroth out - okay it was the first four times before he realized what’s been asked of him, then a short hiatus in communication while he was researching what a ‘date’ was during which Zack might have panicked a little bit; so the first time Zack asked Sephiroth, he got a tentative no. Something something regulations.
It took an additional seven asks, frequent visits after work hours to “hang out and chill” in Sephiroth’s apartment paired with gifts of various baked goods as “offerings to the god of grump and hotness” in Zack’s words - Sephiroth had to admit he was amused, and the sweets were all exactly how he liked them -, one instance of holding his hair while he was throwing up all he consumed the past year by the feel of it after trying out an experimental SOLDIER-level painkiller on behalf of the Sci. Dept., and finally one night on the couch watching hilariously bad horror movies and throwing popcorn at the screen (at least Zack did and Sephiroth swearing he’ll make him clean the mess up) and Zack pointing out that they were practically already dating except the smoochy sexy bits but he’s okay with that if Seph doesn’t want to, really, that Sephiroth decided that regulations can go to vacation and kissed Zack.
Their first official date came a month after their first time kissing then having hot and somewhat awkward and overenthusiastic sex due to military schedules being a complete uncontrollable mess. Zack even got a nice semi-casual outfit instead of going in uniform and so did Sephiroth; they went to a restaurant and had a perfectly good and average date night with delicious food and wine, and free flowing conversation. It would have made Sephiroth suspicious at how out of character it was for their lives, and frankly, Zack, if not for aforementioned dork - Sephiroth would deny to his last breath how fond he felt when thinking about Zack as his dork - climbing on a tree to try to get off and/or pet a stray cat stuck there and managing to stuck there while the feline gracefully jumped down and went to its merry way.
Sephiroth would deny he laughed so hard he got tears in his eyes. Not that anybody would believe it, without photo evidence, he pointed out to Zack with an infuriating smugness that soon got kissed off his face.
Bed sharing wasn’t really a big milestone, missions sometimes had them share bunk or bed or nook of a cave after being snowed in and attacked by dragons. In that order. A proper bed with nobody being injured, being covered in two days worth of marsh mud, monster goo or sleeping with one eye open for danger was still a luxury. Even if getting tangled in Sephiroth’s long long hair and being suffocated by it was an experience both of them would have missed. Zack swore Seph’s hair was out to kill him, sneaking around his neck in loops even when they lied unmoving; Sephiroth started to braid his hair to bed after that incident. It was harder to tackle the issue of Zack sleeping like a hyperactive starfish, causing Sephiroth to even fall off the bed one time. The best solution they found was Sephiroth spooning Zack and restricting his wild movements with his longer limbs and greater body mass. It wasn’t always effective but one could suffer once in a while waking up on their butt on the cold floor for love, right?
Now that was an issue. Sephiroth took pride in his reputation of being fearless, although it was an obvious exaggeration since he felt fear just like every other human; he only refused to blindly led by it. Henceforth, he couldn’t be afraid of love, or, after finally admitting to himself it was indeed that and not friendship taken to intimate levels, to say it out loud to the object of his affection. Especially when said object was obviously head over heels in love with him, and loudly exclaimed so in every possible opportunity.
Except he actually was afraid.
He mentally rehearsed it, several times a day. Tried to physically rehearse it too but standing alone in his bathroom, talking to an imagined person he felt extremely foolish and he kept to the inner monologues from that on. It got to the point where he even dreamed about doing it once. (The dream included rose petals falling from the sky which he’d rather not think about ever again.)
He was increasingly more frustrated with himself and his tongue-tied, well, tongue. It’s been going on for weeks and he wasn’t closer to saying the words than at the start. He absentmindedly walked alongside Zack, back towards the tower from their mission in Sector 3, and Zack was chattering about his trooper friend and being backwater guy teammates whatever that had meant. Sephiroth was mentally considering writing a poem or a love letter or even a text on PHS so just he’d finally get over the whole topic and even started to fish for rhymes when he noticed danger from the corner of his eyes, and acted on autopilot. He grabbed Zack and swirled him mid-step so he’d avoid the danger - a pole at the side of the road, he noted - he was too occupied with gesturing and talking to notice.
Zack blinked up at him from his arms, accidentally ending up in a stereotypical romantic movie pose. Then he grinned wide, dramatically fluttered his eyelashes and piped in a high-pitched nasal voice: “Oh my hero, always saving poor ol’ me!”, and made a swooning gesture. Sephiroth let out a surprised laugh and kissed the grinning Zack then and there.
“You absolute idiot, gods, I love you so much.”
And that was it. Zack’s grin grew wider and turned into outright beaming, trying to overshine the sun it seemed.
“I am the best, right?” he laughed, and his eyes shone brighter than mako as he reached and took Sephiroth’s hand. They continued that way, and if Sephiroth had to bribe/threaten some Turks to help him get the photos deleted from the Silver Elite webpage, it was a price worth paying.