[Shattered] Children 28

Interlude Nine: Melody of Memories

Warm breath ghosting over his ear. A rough hand grazing down his spine. Vincent stirred from a dreamless sleep, unconsciously tilting towards the lips nibbling at his ear.

“Morning,” Cid whispered in his ear, voice gruff from whatever he had been doing prior to waking Vincent.

Peeling open his eyes, Vincent languished in the shivers that pricked his skin. “It’s early,” he murmured, glancing at the clock. “Especially for you.”

Cid slid into the bed beside him, fully clothed and smelling of morning dew. “It would be early if I’d managed to sleep,” he answered, pressing against Vincent from behind and burying his face into black hair.

“You don’t sound sleep-deprived.”

Indeed, Cid was practically vibrating with energy. Even Vincent could sense it, the vigor seeping into his own languid senses and stirring Vincent to full wakefulness.

Lips pressed against the back of his neck. “Come with me. I’ve somethin’ to show ya,” Cid urged, though his fingers spoke another request, creeping around Vincent’s front and splaying across his bare abdomen.

“Not another supply closet I hope.”

Vincent’s wry comment was received with annoyance, which Cid displayed by playfully biting the back of his shoulder, leaving the faint impression of teeth behind. “No, this is important. C’mon, Vince. Get up.” His tone was very nearly a whine.

“You sound as giddy as a child,” Vincent commented, though his lips curled upwards in a smile. The captain’s energy was infectious.

Vincent.”

Chuckling to himself, Vincent forced his body to rise, dislodging the clinging arms of his bedmate. “I’m up, Highwind.”

He looked over his shoulder, dark hair hiding his expression as he took in that of his lover’s. Cid looked tired, but still radiated energy. A grin stretched his lips, even as he sat there in rumpled clothing, even a cute streak of grease – from some sort of engine no doubt – across one cheek.

Vincent arched one brow. “And what have you been diving in?”

Cid grinned, blue eyes sparkling. “Come with me and I’ll show you.” He very nearly bounced in place, just like a child.

Honestly, he was too old to be acting as such.

“Give me a minute to put on some clothes,” Vincent said, sighing loudly as though making some great acquiescence, though in all honesty he was curious. He knew Cid was involved in a pretty big project, and as such, hadn’t seen much of his lover. Perhaps these were the final results?

A hand reached for him even as Vincent rose from the bed, narrowly missing a pale hip by a scant few inches. “You don’t have to,” Cid leered, licking his lips pointedly.

“I do if this thing you want to show me is in public,” Vincent retorted dryly.

The captain just laughed and launched himself from the bed, wagging a finger at him. “Fine, get dressed. I’ll wait in the living room or I’ll just be tempted to take advantage of you.”

As if such a thing were possible. They both knew good and well who the stronger one was here. Shaking his head, Vincent waved off his lover and idly listened as Cid left the room.

Vincent dressed quickly, staring distastefully at the brightly colored clothing that Cid had bought and replaced most of his with for the sake of their “vacation”. It revealed too much for his skin, but it was also too hot to wear layers. He relented for the sake of comfort, though he vowed to make every article of palm-printed material disappear the moment they left Mideel.

And every last sandal.

Lastly, Vincent pulled the length of his hair into a low ponytail and left from the room without bothering to check his appearance. It was just before dawn and if there were anyone awake to see and mock him, he didn’t bother enough to care. It was only an hour or so before his usual waking time, yet it somehow felt too early.

Cid paced back and forth in the living room of the guest house they had rented out for an undetermined period of time. He had taken the time to at least change his shirt and splash water on his face, looking a bit less sleep-deprived. Energy vibrated in every motion.

“Vince! You wore the shirt!” Glee filled his voice, and a hint of teasing.

Looking down at himself, Vincent realized with horror that he had indeed grabbed the one item he loathed out of the entire collection. Of course, the pink and green palm tree print was Cid’s favorite.

Refusing to rise to the bait, Vincent eyed his lover. “Wasn’t there something you wanted to show me?”

Cid moved to his side, latching an arm around Vincent’s and bodily dragging him along. “Yeah, there was. C’mon. It’s not far.”

He followed as Cid lead him from the guest home and into the cool morning, the sun rising on the horizon, a dawning of oranges and reds beneath the lid of grey clouds. Mideel was a town gently waking, a few citizens rising to open windows and welcome the morning chill before the afternoon heat forced everyone indoors.

Vincent didn’t know why, but something was making him bathetic. Perhaps it was the air.

He followed Cid as the captain led him out of the main thoroughfare – where the welcome sign had been recrafted and reposted – and into the wild jungle of the Mideelan island. Vincent recognized the path. It was the same they had initially taken in their search for elusive ruins… only to stumble upon a hidden machine beneath the dirt.

He knew that Cid had been devoting time and effort to restoring the alien device, but Vincent wasn’t expecting much out of the rusting heap of metal. Who knew how long it had lain buried? And who knew just what kind of electronics comprised the thing? There was no guarantee they could get it uncovered, much less up and running. But Vincent was not one to protest Cid’s excitement.

“Okay? Close your eyes.”

Vincent sighed. “Cid-”

Hands lifted, covering his face and shielding his eyes from whatever the dawning sun sought to illuminate. And yet, they still moved steadily forward, though Vincent was decidedly more cautious in each placement of his foot.

“Would it kill ya to play along for once?”

Squaring his jaw, Vincent obediently closed his eyes. “If I trip and fall in a ditch I will never participate in one of your surprises again.”

Cid merely laughed, and Vincent patiently bowed to his whim. Just this once as it seemed to make Cid happy.

He could not see, but his ears worked just fine. And soon he detected a sound, that of a low hum, the gentle whirr of blades cutting through the air, like a helicopter but much less fierce. Vincent frowned, trying to place the sound; he wouldn’t quite call it noise as it was pleasant to his ears. Much quieter than the Highwind had been at any rate, and definitely softer than a helicopter.

“I thought it would take longer,” Cid started to explain, raising his voice a bit to be heard, but not having to strain. “Surprisingly, there was little left for me to do but attack it with soap and a scrub brush and replace a few fuses.”

“Cid, what are you talking about?”

The pilot chose that moment to stop, prompting Vincent to stop as well. “Open your eyes and see,” Cid urged, and Vincent could practically hear the grin in his voice.

Humoring his lover, Vincent opened his eyes slowly, only to blink in astonishment.

An airship stood silver and solemn against the morning sky, its rotors turning quietly in the breeze. It was massive, an impressive example of machinery, similar in design to the Highwind, but much sleeker. It was likely faster, more agile, capable of trickier maneuvers. It gleamed in the early light, patiently awaiting its first flight.

For one of the few times in his life, Vincent found himself speechless. He knew Cid had been working on a project, but had thought that his lover had given up on the buried aircraft. He had thought Cid deemed it improbable, but here it was, in all its glory. At least, Vincent assumed this was the buried ship. He couldn’t think of another way for Cid to build one within a month’s time.

And then his eyes tracked to the freshly painted icon decorating the side, where the ship’s name was emblazoned in bright red, a swirl highlighting each letter.

Valenwind.

“You…” Speechless, Vincent found no words.

Cid just grinned, practically brimming with pride. “You didn’t think I’d get it working, didja? Well, I did. And it’s going to be even better than the Highwind. My masterpiece.”

“It’s beautiful.”

“Aye.” Cid nodded, curling one arm around Vincent pulling him forward, where a ladder waited to give them a lift to the upper level. “Even more so inside.”

Interested despite himself, Vincent followed Cid up the ladder and onto the first deck of the Valenwind. He chuckled as he recognized the lady from the Highwind painted on the floor.

“You couldn’t resist, could you?”

Cid grinned. “She’s my Lady Luck.”

Shaking his head, Vincent gestured to the far doorway. “Lead on, Captain. Show me what you’re so proud of.”

And Cid did, guiding him through long hallways and open space, and a room filled with computers that Cid admitted not even he was sure what they did. Past humming engines and interesting rooms, and even a glimpse of the captain’s quarters, sparsely furnished at the moment and only waiting on their belongings.

Lastly, Vincent was taken to the cockpit, where he was treated to the sight of the sun rising in all its glory, every inch of the dawn in view thanks to the entire wall of glass windows. Several consoles were scattered throughout the broad room, presently unoccupied, and on a higher dais the captain’s wheel stood prominent.

It was absolutely incredible.

“She’s three times as fast, twice as maneuverable, and doesn’t run on mako energy, but something else. Something called jet fuel. I don’t understand it properly, but I will,” Cid assured him, pulling Vincent up the steps to the captain’s wheel.

Vincent shook his head. “In less than a month, you managed all this? It seems unbelievable.”

His lover laughed, scratching at his chin. “You’d be surprised how many people were willing to join my crew. And like I said, there actually wasn’t much more for me to do than dust it off. It’s like the technology was just sleeping, waiting for someone like me ta come along.”

Vincent stood behind the wheel, lifting his hands and tracing fingers over the well-crafted wood, completely smooth. The entire vista of the Mideelan landscape stretched out in front of him through the windows, and from here, the rest of the consoles of the Valenwind waited patiently. It really was amazing.

“Have you given up on the stars then?” Vincent asked, well remembering Cid’s desire to return to space since his previous visit had been unplanned and unexpected.

The captain stepped up, arms encircling Vincent from behind. “The technology in this thing’ll probably teach me a better way to get there, but until then, this thing is already perfect.” He felt Cid’s face press against the back of his shoulder, not quite tall enough to lay chin atop his shoulder.

“It is fascinating,” Vincent murmured. “But I am more interested in the fact that you can fly again. Cid Highwind does not seem the same man without his wings.”

The arms around him tightened. “Was I that different?” Cid asked, a strange note to his voice.

“Only to someone who knows you as well as I do,” Vincent reassured, and shifted in Cid’s arms, turning until he faced his lover. “I could tell that you missed the sky. You were not meant for the ground.”

Again, the bathetic feeling penetrated Vincent’s thoughts and words, turning him unnecessarily sappy. He wasn’t too bothered by it. For all his bluster and bluff, Cid was actually a man who enjoyed hearing such things.

“Heh.” Cid laughed lightly. “And only you know me so well. What say you we end this vacation then?”

Before Vincent could even formulate an answer, or compose something witty in return, the sound of a ringing cell phone filled the silence of the morning. Vincent knew it wasn’t his own – he kept it on constant silent – and judging by Cid’s annoyed curse, it was not only his, but the caller was Reeve.

Cid only cursed like that when Reeve called, because nine times out of ten, the president of the WRO wanted something impossible made possible.

Another muttered curse and Cid pulled away with obvious reluctance, reaching for the jangling phone. He flipped it open and answered, eyes narrowed with annoyance.

Vincent didn’t bother to listen in; Cid would explain later. He simply smiled softly and returned his gaze to the beautiful view. Everything was in its proper place, as it should be.

And something which had started to tighten uneasily in his belly without him realizing it, sighed in relief.

Yuffie woke to the smell of something cooking, and pleasant sounds of the same emanating from her open doorway. Her stomach growled in appreciation and she smiled as she rose from the bed, stretching languidly. The sun shone pleasantly through half-open blinds, giving a cheery cast to her bedroom.

She threw on a t-shirt and some shorts, splashed water over her face, and then headed towards the kitchen, her nose her guide. Rubbing sleep out of her eyes, Yuffie stepped into the cream and yellow kitchen, searching out the source of an obvious breakfast. She smiled, catching sight of Nanaki standing at the stove, tail twitching back and forth as he cooked.

He was even wearing an apron. She was pretty sure she’d never seen anything more adorable in her life. Giggling to herself, Yuffie crept across the floor – an easier feat to the lack of shoes – and promptly threw her arms around him from behind.

“Mmmm, what’cha cooking?” she asked, rubbing her cheek against his broad, bare back. He smelled good, beyond the scent of what seemed to be frying meats and potatoes. He smelled like Nanaki, all strength and intelligence and oncoming autumn.

He didn’t even startle at her approach, having long heard her coming. “Breakfast. Hungry?”

“Very,” Yuffie purred, her fingers splayed over his bare abdomen.

Her palm pressed against flat muscles, index finger tracing the line of hair that disappeared into the band of the sleep pants he had pulled on. They were specially designed to suit his tail, the whole wardrobe a gift from Reeve and some rather expensive tailors. Not that Yuffie was complaining. He looked great in them.

Nanaki laughed as Yuffie felt heat coil languidly in her belly. “For food or something else?” A spatula scraped in a pan as he reached with a second hand to grab the shaker, sprinkling salt over his potatoes.

“Definitely both,” Yuffie murmured, pressing a kiss to his shoulder blade.

She couldn’t seem to stop touching him. Ever since they had reconciled, recognizing what they were to one another, she couldn’t seem to keep her hands away. She wanted to run her hands over him everywhere, to cover his body in kisses. To experience that blinding rush of pleasure all over again.

One hand traveled lower, her palm pressing against his groin, cupping it gently. She was gratified to find that he was half-hard beneath her fingers, and stiffening by the moment. Grinning, Yuffie deviously palmed him, stroking him through the thin cotton. She heard Nanaki’s breath hitch, even as she gently bit the skin over his shoulderblade, loving the taste of his skin.

“Yuffie, I’m trying to cook,” Nanaki protested, but it was weak. A protest more for the sake of, because even she could hear the want in his voice.

She pressed more firmly against his length, which rose to strain against the confines of his pants. “No one’s stopping you,” she teased, feeling her belly tighten. Yuffie wondered if she could tempt him enough to turn around and kiss her. She was determined to try.

Nanaki’s willpower was usually far greater than hers. But she’d learned a valuable lesson. When it came to resisting temptation, he couldn’t resist her. And it was a heady power, but one she learned to use sparingly. He wasn’t her toy after all, but her beloved one. And she would treat him as such.

Her lips found the line of his spine, a sensitive spot for him, and her tongue followed the path of it, as far as she could reach. He shivered, and she counted the seconds – only a few – before the spatula was set to the side and Nanaki whirled.

He crushed her against him, covering her lips with his and pushing his tongue into her mouth. She moaned, grinding against his stiff length, curling her arms around his body. The edge of the table collided against her lower back as Yuffie deepened the kiss, dragging her nails lightly down her back.

Nanaki broke away from her with a gasp, his mouth latching onto her throat. Her teeth gently scraped her bare skin. “You little minx,” he growled, tongue lapping over a small mark and making shivers race down her spine.

She gasped when she intended to chuckle, one of his hands finding her breast through the fabric and running his palm over it. “The kitchen table? That’s different,” Yuffie teased, wanting to strip off his clothes then and there.

A single lift of one clawed hand had her sitting on the edge of the table, thanking Dao-Chan and whatever god was listening that it had sturdy legs. Nanaki’s mouth lowered, mouthing her nipple through cloth and Yuffie groaned, throwing her head back. Her legs encircled his hips, drawing him close and against her. Their clothed groins collided; she could feel the heat of him through the thin cotton.

Yuffie desperately wanted.

And she also smelled something burning. Her nose twitched and her eyes popped open as she stared horrified over Nanaki’s shoulder.

“Breakfast!” she near-squeaked in shock.

“Yeah, that was the general idea,” Nanaki retorted, his lips closing over her ear lobe and tugging gently at it.

Yuffie ignored the trill of pleasure that raced through her, giving his shoulder a hearty push. “No, I mean your breakfast is burning!” she argued, a distasteful smoke rising heavily in the air.

Golden eyes widened before Nanaki abruptly released her, nearly causing Yuffie to tumble from her precarious perch on the table.

“Damn,” he cursed, hissing when he nearly burnt his fingers in an attempt to remove pan from stove. He almost dropped the skillet as he reached to turn off the burner and switched on the stovetop fan.

Yuffie, despite the heat still tingling in her veins, couldn’t help but laugh at him.

Nanaki tossed her a baleful look, tipping the skillet enough that she could see the ruined mass of whatever it was inside of it. “This is partly your fault you know,” he grumbled, staring mournfully at his ruined creation.

“Can you blame me?” Yuffie asked, purposefully licking her lips. Her nipples were rubbing against the cotton of her shirt and it was maddening.

“Yes. Yes, I can,” Nanaki said, abandoning the ruined mass of something burnt to the side. His tail twitched behind him as he advanced on her, trapping her between his arms. “Looks like we’ll have to go out for breakfast.”

She looked up at him, heart thundering in her chest. “Later,” Yuffie insisted, lifting one foot to rub it alongside his leg.

“Much later,” Nanaki confirmed, and slanted his lips over hers again.

He heard loud music before he even arrived at the apartment, and Tseng cocked an eyebrow. What on Gaia was going on?

Stepping down the hall, he found the door to Zack and Sephiroth’s shared apartment wide open, the heavy beat and invoking lyrics of some rock band pulsing in the air. He didn’t see either man immediately and Tseng sighed, shaking his head.

He doubted Sephiroth was here in this noise, but he thought he would check anyways.

Tseng rapped his knuckles against the door because it was polite, but didn’t actually expect anyone to hear it. Not over this racket. He stepped into the apartment, peering briefly into every room before following the source of the noise.

Only to stop in the entryway to the living room, a chuckle escaping his lips. There was Zack, doing of all things, vacuuming as he rocked to the music pouring from the speakers from the overly large television. He didn’t know why the former SOLDIER thought it necessary to do so with the door open. Perhaps they had merely forgotten to close it?

Zack whirled, vacuum jabbing under a nearby table, and spotted Tseng mid-jab. “Tseng!” he exclaimed, the machine giving a whirr of distaste as it sucked up something that it didn’t like.

He jabbed a toe forward, cutting off the machine and the light noise associated with it. “How long have you been standing there?”

“Long enough,” Tseng answered with amusement. “It’s a little late for spring cleaning.”

Zack tossed him a look. “I suppose if I made as much as you I could hire someone to do this for me,” he replied dryly, and reached for a remote, clicking mute on the television and filling the room with blessed quiet. “Looking for something?”

“Sephiroth.”

“I should have known.” His hand raked through black spikes and Zack stepped around the couch, towards the kitchen. “He’s not here. He escaped the minute I said something about cleaning up the mess.” Zack gestured vaguely.

Mess? Tseng turned about in a near circle. It was spotless, other than the lingering dust from running the vacuum. He couldn’t even see evidence of a former mess. Or was Zack just a closet neat-freak?

“I see,” Tseng commented dubiously. “Any idea where he went?”

“The library,” Zack suggested, face buried in the fridge as he moved items around to locate a soda in the back. “And if I know my best buddy, he’s in the furthest corner, behind a dusty stack of history books.”

Tseng hummed, not surprised. “Not entirely unexpected. Thanks, Zack. Good luck with your cleaning.”

Head tipped back as he sucked down a soda, the former SOLDIER gave him a thumbs up, leaving Tseng room to excuse himself. As he stepped into the corridor, heading into the elevator, his exit was marked by a return of the loud music. He wondered if their neighbors would complain, but then, there probably weren’t too many other residents on this floor.

The library was located nearly in the basement, just a single level above the archive where aging paper records were kept. In this day and age, most everything was documented in a massive computer database, but old records were still kept. Tseng rarely had occasion to enter the archives, and honestly, he hadn’t much reason to visit the library either.

It was only a library in the sense that it held masses upon masses of books, but it didn’t stock all kinds. It was literally a huge storehouse of history and science, nothing fictional lining the shelves. There was nothing here to capture Tseng’s interest, especially since much of it was tainted by ShinRa’s outlook on the past, rather than the truth of what occurred.

His nose twitched as he was assaulted by the scent of dust and aging paper. Tseng nodded curtly to the single soldier manning the desk and scanned the visible aisles. No Sephiroth in sight. Not that he would have expected to find the former General lounging in plain view.

Tseng wandered, his steps markedly noticeable in the quiet. There were no other patrons either, not that he had expected any. Most came here to find a book for research purposes, not linger.

He found Sephiroth as Zack had suggested, hiding in a faraway corner, tucked behind several large and stout bookcases. Sephiroth was curled up in a large, stiff-looking chair, a single lamp lit behind one shoulder. To Tseng’s surprise, a pair of small-framed glasses perched on his noses as he read from a book placed in his lap.

It was more adorable than Tseng could find words to say. Imagine, the great General wearing glasses to read like some child stumbling upon a fantasy book of epic proportions.

Casually crossing his arms over his chest, Tseng leaned against a nearby, stout bookshelf. “I didn’t know you were glasses.”

Sephiroth startled, nearly dropping his book. His gaze whipped up, catching sight of Tseng standing there. An obvious moment of trying to regain his composure immediately followed.

“Only on occasion,” Sephiroth explained slowly. “Fine print is difficult.”

Tseng felt his lips twitch upwards into a smile. “And here I was thinking you were perfect.”

“Isn’t it better that I am not?” Sephiroth murmured, and his gaze slanted to the side, taking on an obvious air of distaste.

Perfection was definitely a landmine; Tseng wisely sidestepped it. He was still learning the boundaries with Sephiroth. And Kami, were there many of them.

“What are you reading?” he asked instead, moving further into the empty corner, far from the desk and what few prying eyes there might be in the nearly forgotten library. Honestly, even Tseng had forgotten it existed.

Sephiroth tilted the cover towards him. On the cover was a barely dressed woman, her bosom threatening to burst from the ties of her bodice. She was in the arms of a bare-chested man, dressed like a pirate no less, and they were looking into each other’s eyes as though nothing mattered in the world but each other. The title read My Lover, My Pirate and was distributed by the well known publishing house Sweet Temptations.

Tseng’s eyes rounded. “Is that…?” Words escaped him. He suspected that Sephiroth liked to read but romance? And trashy romance at that? Where on Gaia had he gotten it?

He was treated to a sour look. “Don’t blame me,” Sephiroth said stiffly, thumb carefully marking the page. “Zack was the one who said I should expand my horizons.”

Well, that at least explained the origin of the book. Tseng had just begun to picture Sephiroth in a bookstore, buying the novel and it was a scene that pretty much broke his brain.

“Yes, but Sweet Temptations?”

Sephiroth snapped the book shut, embarrassment warring with indignation. “Were you looking for me?” he demanded, putting the matter of the book aside.

Amused, Tseng inclined his head. “Reeve forced me to take the afternoon off,” he answered, moving closer to Sephiroth until they shared nearly the same space. “I thought we could make use of it.”

He leaned over Sephiroth, one hand balanced on the arm of the plush, royal-red chair, glad that the man was sitting because it eliminated their bothersome height difference. Sephiroth smelled intoxicating, a mixture of old books and whatever soap he used, something clean and inviting. Tseng wanted to bury his face in Sephiroth’s throat and lick him all over. The thoughts entered his mind suddenly, and he felt the heat flushing through him.

It was so quiet. One could hear a materia drop. More than that, he could hear Sephiroth’s breathing, more rapid than it should be for only reading. Perhaps his choice in reading material had affected him more than Tseng initially thought, though he was pretty sure Sephiroth’s interests lay in men and men alone. He watched as grey-green eyes flexed briefly, dilating with interest at Tseng’s proximity.

“You’re under the assumption that I have the afternoon free as well,” Sephiroth returned mildly, but Tseng was far more experienced than Sephiroth. He detected the hitch in the former general’s breathing, the way his cheeks slowly flushed.

His hand settled on Sephiroth’s leg, and when he wasn’t rebuffed, Tseng squeezed gently. “Don’t you?” he asked, lowering his tone, making it husky.

There was something incredibly erotic about daring to do this here, where anyone could walk by, even if the library was deserted, even on a good day. And they were in the far back corner. The fact that they had to keep their voices down only heightened the sense.

Sephiroth unconsciously licked his lips. “I might. But then you are assuming I would spend my free time with you.” However, he didn’t shift away from Tseng’s presence.

To the Turk, that was most definitely progress. Sephiroth, for all his badass General persona, was infinitely shy, and it had taken weeks to get Sephiroth to stop blushing like a schoolboy anytime Tseng casually touched him.

“Are you saying you don’t want to?” Tseng asked, leaning nearer, until his breath puffed warm across Sephiroth’s mouth, though their lips didn’t touch.

And there it went, Sephiroth’s chronic shyness, his eyes skittering away from the advancing Turk. “Tseng-”

Restraint lacking, Tseng kissed him. He figured if Sephiroth hadn’t pushed him away by now, then he was in the clear to do so. True to his assumption, Sephiroth didn’t resist, his mouth falling open against Tseng’s kiss and letting Tseng’s tongue slip inside. He coaxed a response out of the former General, encouraging Sephiroth to participate, their tongues gently tangling. And Tseng’s fingers tightened on Sephiroth’s leg, a moan threatening to bubble up in his chest.

Somehow, Sephiroth always had this effect on him. Turning his restraint to nothing more than pudding, and his self-control made non-existent.

Gloved hands threaded through his hair, making Tseng’s scalp tingle. The touch was hesitant but determined, and the perfect mix of both set fire to Tseng’s blood. He ended the kiss with a nip to Sephiroth’s lips, barely restrained from disrobing the former General here in the back corner of this library.

Those glasses were incredibly sexy, Tseng noticed. He said so aloud, and was gratified by the subtle darkening of Sephiroth’s cheeks. He cleared his throat noisily, reaching up to remove the pair and fold them properly.

“Zack picked them out,” Sephiroth informed him, tucking the glasses safely away.

Tseng was determined to see them again. Perhaps later.

He tipped his head to the side. “About that afternoon? Are you certain you can’t spare it for me?”

The book was set aside, to join a stack balanced precariously along one arm of the plush chair. “I might have a few hours to spare,” Sephiroth murmured, licking his lips pointedly.

Tseng was practically giddy with excitement, mind awhirl with possibilities. He coaxed Sephiroth from the chair, entertaining thoughts of dinner with dessert to follow in the bedroom. He couldn’t help but think that Reeve’s offer – or order more like – to take the day off couldn’t have come at a better time.

And he was going to enjoy every single minute of it.

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