[Shattered] Children 30

Chapter Twenty- Bring the Columns Down

Time passed, as it was wont to do. And before Sephiroth knew it, two weeks had gone by since the last battle with Jenova. The world moved on. The people began to rebuild, to put their lives back together. Sephiroth rarely left Junon, too consumed with his duties in the WRO. And Tseng was much the same, enough that they seldom found time to spend together, much less alone.

The promised discussion, the promised answers, they’d had little time to pursue either. And their schedules clashed so terribly that one rose from the bed as the other lay down for what little rest they were allowed. Sephiroth tried to divide his time between his lover and his best friend, but Zack was being noticeably absent. Devoting himself to work, no doubt, and demanding whatever Reeve could give him.

Burying his pain in layers of responsibility, anything to keep himself from thinking. Sephiroth understood that feeling all too well. He didn’t blame Zack one bit.

Sephiroth found himself engaged in activities occupying more time than he had to give. Spending time with Denzel, watching over him, assuring him that Marlene’s fate was not his fault.

Speaking with the three brothers whenever the occasion granted him, confirming that there were few things that differed in their shared pasts, cultivating a steady hatred for their father.

Monster extermination when there was something the soldiers themselves couldn’t handle. There were dozens of them, drawn by the scent of death and destruction, sneaking into Junon and attempting to find themselves a meal.

And on one occasion, Sephiroth had even found himself in Reeve’s office, forging the president’s signature and filling out the dreaded paperwork.

It was altogether exhausting, which was why he felt relief crashing over him. It was still early yet and he was already heading home, or to Tseng’s apartment to be more precise. It was the only way they managed to connect, by staying in the same space.

Eating a cooked meal – even if it was take-out – at a dinner table felt even more so. Though he wasn’t appreciative of the stark silence in the apartment. It left him too much time to think. Taking a shower felt like a luxury, the warm water beating at the back of his shoulders and easing some of the tension.

Sephiroth looked forward even more to the soft comfort of his bed, though remembering that Tseng would not be returning tonight dulled his enjoyment.

The sound of a key turning in the lock surprised Sephiroth, who glanced quickly at the hall clock. Only nine in the evening. Far too early for Tseng to be returning. Wasn’t he supposed to leave for Wutai with Yuffie tonight?

Sephiroth’s hands fell from his hair, dropping the towel across his shoulders as the door opened. Sure enough, Tseng stepped inside, and nearly dropped his key in his surprise.

“Sephiroth? I thought Reeve had you on a mission?”

“I thought you were going to Wutai?”

They looked at each other for another minute more before Tseng’s lips curled into a slow smile. He closed the door behind him. “Yuffie took one look at me and decided I would be better served coming here. Practically pushed me off the Valenwind.”

Interesting.

Sephiroth watched as Tseng stepped out of his shoes and stripped out of his suit jacket, hanging it on the hook near the door. His swords and sheath quickly followed.

“Reeve sent Zack after the creature instead,” Sephiroth answered, the enormity of the moment suddenly striking him.

They were together and alone at the same time. Together and alone without the fatigue of a long day hanging over them and the possibility of free time tomorrow. It was almost as if there were other forces at work to ensure this. And were Elena still alive, Sephiroth would have suspected her. But perhaps this was the work of another devious female. Suddenly, Aeris’ offer to take Denzel for the night didn’t seem a coincidence.

The distance between them suddenly seemed minute, and Sephiroth remembered the promise in their last conversation. Implicitly stated, but present nonetheless. He recalled his own determination and though the pall of grief still lingered like a particularly distasteful smell, Sephiroth was resolute to overcome it.

“I’m sensing a plot,” Tseng commented, the same conclusion Sephiroth had drawn. “At least it explains the string of giggles that followed me after Yuffie pushed me off the Valenwind’s ramp.”

“She actually pushed you?” Sephiroth asked, incredulous.

The Turk inclined his head, moving past Sephiroth to the interior of the apartment. One finger tugged at the knot of his tie, loosening it. “A great shove. Right off the ramp. Nanaki didn’t even try to stop her.”

The thought of Tseng’s cousin shoving him off the Valenwind made Sephiroth chuckle. “You can’t tell me you’re disappointed.”

Water ran as Tseng splashed it over his face, his tie lying loose around his neck, shirt untucked. “No, I’m not.”

Tseng paused, glancing at Sephiroth using the reflection in the mirror which he had wiped to clear of fog from Sephiroth’s shower. The single look was full of meaning and it made something inside Sephiroth’s gut simultaneously tighten and heat all at once.

Swallowing thickly, Sephiroth felt his cheeks burn and he edged out of the doorway. “I’ll… uh… let you get cleaned up,” he muttered, suddenly self-conscious.

And before Tseng could say anything otherwise, he slipped down the hall, heading for his own bedroom. He knew that Tseng would eventually join him and the thought produced a trill of anticipation to run through his veins. But of what he wasn’t entirely certain.

Sephiroth rubbed the towel over his hair one last time before tossing it into the basket in the laundry room as he passed. Running his fingers through his damp hair, he stepped into the bedroom. It was in serious disarray, the bed covers rumpled and tossed every which direction, along with various articles of clothing. Considering he’d only had time as of late to wake up, throw on clothes and race out the door, it seemed almost neat.

He set about cleaning up at least some of the mess. Not that it would bother Tseng. But he needed something to do. Something more than sitting on his bed, blushing like a young woman on her wedding night, waiting. His ears caught the sound of the shower cutting on, granting him a measure of relief.

Sephiroth straightened in silence, refusing to think deeper. What would happen would happen and he’d let it rest like that. It was almost hard to believe that a little under three weeks ago he’d been roaming the entire planet, lacking purpose… forgiveness… understanding. Cursed by Geostigma, he hadn’t known what else to do.

And now… things were so much different.

Now he was about to try having sex with his boyfriend. And damn if the thought didn’t make him blush unnecessarily. He was too old to be acting like this.

A sound in the doorway made him turn and look, Tseng standing there, wearing nothing more than a pair of loose pants, drawn tight by the string. They sagged low, revealing the knobby bones of his hips and a thin line of dark hair from navel to where it disappeared beyond the hem. Sephiroth felt something inside of himself tighten at the sight.

It wasn’t that he’d never seen Tseng nude or even half-nude – because he had – but that it had never come with such expectation hanging on the air. Sephiroth’s eyes drank in Tseng’s appearance, and realized that for the first time, he consciously desired this man. It wasn’t just a lust borne entirely by lecherous touches, but an intended sexual thought. Everything inside of him wanted to press fingers to tanned skin and run lips over the flattened discs of Tseng’s nipples. He wanted to watch Tseng flush in arousal, to hear sounds fall from Tseng’s mouth.

To watch Tseng come undone all because of him.

At just the thought, Sephiroth’s breath caught, and Tseng must have read the heat in his stare because he returned Sephiroth’s gaze without flinching. He crossed the floor in only a few steps, discarding the towel to the floor, smelling strongly of his shampoo and soap, making Sephiroth’s nostrils flare.

“We should take advantage of this chance,” Tseng murmured, silver eyes full of heat. “Don’t you think?”

Sephiroth inclined his head, forcing himself to breathe. “Wouldn’t want to waste it.”

Tseng licked his lips, holding his gaze as he reached for Sephiroth’s hand, drawing it up to his mouth. Sephiroth’s fingers twitched as he felt warm breath ghost over his hand before a tongue lapped over his palm. Tingles drizzled down his spine as Tseng turned it over, his tongue tracing the lines of the much hated tattoo.

“Join me on the bed?” Tseng requested, nibbling at the tip of Sephiroth’s fingers.

For all things Holy, Sephiroth would not say no. He wordlessly nodded and followed Tseng as he was led to the bed, climbing first onto the mattress with Tseng crawling along after him. Tseng perched over Sephiroth on all fours, his lips seeking out the tender skin of Sephiroth’s throat.

Gasping, Sephiroth threw his head back, letting that hot mouth do as it will, the sound of their breathing overly loud in the room. He felt his cock lengthen within his pants, straining at the cotton confines. Tseng’s knee pressed against his groin, providing something for Sephiroth to arch against. Heat sizzled across his skin and Sephiroth dragged his hands down Tseng’s bare skin, fingers skittering over long-healed scars.

A hand crept under Sephiroth’s shirt, palm sliding against his flat abdomen. Prickles raised across his skin, a low noise banking behind his lips. Tseng’s breath was hot against his throat as the hand moved further, dragging the cotton higher.

Heart thudding in his chest, Sephiroth gripped Tseng tightly. There was a pressure building inside of him, his cock filling with blood and pushing at the confines of his sleep pants. His hips thrust raggedly upwards, rubbing against Tseng’s leg, desperate for relief.

Tseng panted, teeth dragging a light path. “You’re killing me,” he groaned, drawing back enough to yank off Sephiroth’s shirt, tossing it somewhere over his shoulder.

Sephiroth’s skin prickled where the cool air washed over his bare chest. Tseng’s knee nudged against Sephiroth’s groin, applying perfect pressure to his desperate length. He growled low in his throat.

“Dying is not preferable,” he muttered back, fingers reaching up and tangling in Tseng’s hair, dragging him down for a tongue-tangling kiss.

The Turk lowered himself, their hips colliding, bare chests flush together. Tseng rolled his hips, grinding against him, and Sephiroth arched up to meet his thrust. Heat flushed Sephiroth’s body and he shuddered, feeling the cloth of his pants dampen. Tseng was hot and hard against him, and for once, the feel of being beneath the Turk didn’t alarm him as it used to.

Sephiroth reached up, more an active participant this time, his free fingers finding the hem of Tseng’s loose pants, the only thing he had pulled on after his shower. Sephiroth’s hand slid beneath the band, finding the heat of Tseng’s length. His fingers curled around it, and at the first stroke, Tseng moaned. His rhythm faltered.

“Nnnn, don’t,” Tseng panted brokenly, dotting a trail of kisses across Sephiroth’s bare collarbone. He mouthed the bone beneath the skin.

Sephiroth froze, insecurity lashing at him. “You don’t like it?”

The Turk pulled back, silver eyes regarding him heatedly even as Tseng’s cheeks flushed. “I’m too close,” he admitted with some embarrassment.

Understanding dawned, and mischief replaced the undercurrent of anxiety. Sephiroth ignored Tseng’s requests and picked up his rhythm again, swiping his thumb across the dampened head of the Turk’s cock.

It pulsed in his grasp, Tseng unconsciously thrusting into his fingers. “Sephiroth!” he groaned, his word a plea for more and less all at once.

Sephiroth felt emboldened by Tseng’s reaction, less the inexperienced man that he was and more the man he should be. “To take the edge off,” he murmured lustfully. “You don’t think you can recover?”

It had to be another man saying those teasing, taunting things. Because Sephiroth couldn’t remember being so bold. Strange what strength his freedom from Her could bring. And yet, he wasn’t going to think of that creature right now. Not for a single moment. Because Tseng moaned at his words.

“I take it back,” Tseng returned, his tongue tracing a hungry circle over Sephiroth’s bare throat. “Please continue.”

Thusly encouraged, Sephiroth stroked Tseng skillfully, truthfully one of the only things he hadn’t needed an embarrassing query or research to learn. His fingers encircled Tseng’s hard flesh, feeling each pulse of the Turk’s heartbeat. Precome beaded at the tip and Sephiroth swiped his thumb over it, using it to slick his way.

Tseng’s body became a force in motion, alternately grinding down against him and thrusting into the tunnel of Sephiroth’s fingers. His mouth settled hot and heavy over whatever of Sephiroth’s skin he could reach, one hand clutching onto the rumpled bed covers for balance. The other scraped fingernails lightly over Sephiroth’s chest, dragging across a peaked nipple and making his skin raise in goosebumps. Pleasure flooded Sephiroth’s body, causing his own cock to stiffen painfully.

He hadn’t lied when he said he was already close, and it wasn’t long before Tseng groaned, spilling heat over Sephiroth’s fingers. Tseng’s mouth sought out Sephiroth’s, their lips messily colliding as Sephiroth milked every last spark of pleasure from Tseng.

Tseng broke away from the kiss, leaving a trail of licks across Sephiroth’s jaw. He muttered something under his breath, but Sephiroth didn’t quite catch it, too busy admiring the flushed tint to Tseng’s cheeks. He watched as the Wutaiian stretched his body to reach over the side of the bed, tugging open the drawer to remove a small tube of lube and grabbing a tissue from the handy-dandy box.

Sephiroth felt his heart rate escalate as Tseng returned, crawling over him with erotic intent. Hands roamed, flitting touches designed to arouse, removing the last of their clothes, and Sephiroth sucked in a breath, his body arching towards each faint touch. A tissue wiped Sephiroth’s hand clean before it was discarded over the side of the bed and Tseng’s lips returned, distracting Sephiroth with a particularly deep kiss. He groaned, something fluttering in his belly.

Silver eyes pooled with lust. “Round two,” Tseng growled lowly, nudging Sephiroth’s head back to attack a pale throat with gentle nips of his teeth.

He was pleased when the former General’s body arched up to meet his, hard cock pushing insistently at Tseng. The attraction was shared, a gratifying thought. And Tseng felt he could at least think clearer now. The heat of the prior moment had eased with his first orgasm, and he was glad to take the edge off.

Of course, his arousal hadn’t faded in the slightest, though the sense of urgency had passed. Even now, his cock nudged against the soft skin of Sephiroth’s inner thigh, sensing an eventual destination. And just the thought of it made Tseng twitch with want.

Ten years. He’d waited ten years for this.

Tseng nibbled abdomen, tracing defined muscles. He purposefully ignored Sephiroth’s leaking cock, only giving it the occasional stroke as a part of him enjoyed seeing the silver-haired man on edge. Pale skin flushed in want.

Sephiroth seemed relaxed and Tseng took a chance, drizzling oil over his fingers. He distracted Sephiroth by lapping his tongue across the former General’s peaked nipple and then slowly circled Sephiroth’s entrance with one oiled digit.

When bloodshed didn’t immediately follow, Tseng pressed for more, his own breath short and rapid in anticipation. His finger rubbed across puckered muscle, not yet breaching, his other hand rubbing soothingly across a bare thigh. A fluttery moan escaped Sephiroth’s lips, causing heat to pool thickly in Tseng’s groin.

It wasn’t until he dared push beyond the ring that he felt it, a subtle wash of uncertainty trickling on the edge of his senses. On the outside, Sephiroth seemed perfectly fine. Were it not for Tseng’s ability, he wouldn’t have ever known.

Despite himself, Tseng sighed inwardly. It seemed Highwind had been right, though he was loathe to admit it. And even more embarrassed to remember that particular conversation, wishing to never, ever repeat it for the rest of his existence. It just… no, there were no words to describe that kind of disturbing talk. He was best off pretending it never happened, even as he lightly admitted that it had come into use.

Tseng kissed his way up the planes of Sephiroth’s chest, moving to nibble on a collarbone. His probing fingers shifted to the safety of Sephiroth’s thigh, stroking over pale skin, begging to be marked. There was plenty of time for that later.

“We can always turn things around,” Tseng murmured, his tongue tracing the ridged lines of a visible scar, though he wondered what could have possibly scared Sephiroth. “I’m open to change.”

Sephiroth shook his head, letting out a slow breath, a touch of annoyance in his tone. Directed at himself and not Tseng. “I want to do this,” he insisted, shifting his hips upwards in show, his seeping cock obvious proof.

He had expected as much. There was no doubt in Sephiroth’s leaking emotions. He did want to do this. The lingering uncertainty was entirely unconscious, and Tseng suspected it wouldn’t have emerged outwardly until an inauspicious moment much later. Considering what he had unintentionally gleaned of Sephiroth’s past, it was only to be expected.

Once again, Highwind’s advice rose to the forefront of Tseng’s brain. Reluctantly, Tseng bowed to the wisdom of the pilot’s words.

He pulled back, ignoring the look of annoyance that briefly crossed Sephiroth’s face. “All right,” Tseng agreed, and shifted. “Then get up.”

Confusion replaced the agitation, but Sephiroth obeyed, sliding into a sitting position. Tseng wasted no time in occupying the space where Sephiroth had laid, his bare back pressed against the warmth Sephiroth left behind. He could smell Sephiroth’s scent against his sheets, mingling with the scent of his own soap and cologne. And Tseng couldn’t help but breathe it in, the mixed scents shooting straight to his cock.

A shudder of want wracked his body, and Tseng struggled to hold onto his control, reaching over himself and tucking it below his head.

Sephiroth’s confusion had not eased. “What are you doing?” he demanded, hair falling around his face and across his shoulder in a wave of black and silver.

Despite himself, Tseng couldn’t control the burn that entered his cheeks. He hesitated, eyeing Sephiroth carefully. “This doesn’t go outside the bedroom.”

Blinking, Sephiroth shot him a look that the Turk couldn’t quite interpret – a mix between exasperation, confusion and concession. “Tseng?”

Tseng allowed the sigh he had been bottling free and gestured Sephiroth towards him, pleased when the former General took the suggestion and crawled over his reclined body. Sephiroth straddled him on hands and knees, face lowered to press their mouths together. Elegant angles and hard lines and pale skin, stained with arousal. Sephiroth was truly an arousing sight to behold.

Nibbling at lips already reddened from kissing, Tseng forced himself to speak. “I was cornered by one Cid Highwind not too long ago,” he reluctantly admitted, his hands finding Sephiroth’s hips and silently directing Sephiroth where he intended the former General to be.

Sephiroth scooted upwards, until his knees sat to either side of Tseng’s hips, looming over Tseng like some ancient god carved from soft alabaster. Incredibly enticing as his cock bobbed from between spread legs, rosy with need.

Distracted, Tseng licked his lips and continued, “Who, consequently, was sent by Valentine. I was offered… advice.”

Above him, Sephiroth’s jaw worked soundlessly, brow wrinkling. “Er…”

“Father and son share some of the same scars,” Tseng murmured quietly, his hands leaving the safety of Sephiroth’s broad but well-shaped hips.

Fingers smoothed over Sephiroth’s skin, dancing lightly over a few visible scars. “Inside and out,” he added, more to himself than to Sephiroth.

A moment of stunned silence filled the room, though it didn’t seem to damper Sephiroth’s arousal at all. He blinked. “So you’re trying to tell me that Captain Highwind gave you … sex tips?” Sephiroth demanded, trying his damnedest not to snort out in laughter and also vaguely horrified by the thought. He just didn’t like to equate the two – Highwind and sex – into the same sentence, even if a part of him were aware it happened.

“As I said before, this doesn’t leave the bedroom,” Tseng muttered, trying to stop the flush of embarrassment in his cheeks. “The point I was trying to make is that Highwind believed it was a control thing. Which is why I suggested we switch things around. This is the next best thing.” His fingers flexed on Sephiroth’s hip even as his free hand curled lightly around Sephiroth’s cock.

Sephiroth groaned at the soft touch, his hips unconsciously pushing forward. “I see,” he said shakily, breathing quickened.

Tseng’s fingers danced over Sephiroth’s cock, the former General unable to resist thrusting into his loose hold. He leaned over, pressing his lips to Tseng’s, their tongues tangling sloppily. The heat in the room was tangible, putting up a mighty battle against the ceiling fan lazily turning above them. Tseng clenched his hold on Sephiroth’s hip, grinding up against him. His libido seemed undaunted by his earlier release.

“You recovered quickly,” Sephiroth panted, dragging his fingers through Tseng’s hair, sensitizing his scalp.

Despite himself, Tseng felt a blush flare to the roots of his hair. Sephiroth was supposed to be the so-called virgin here! And yet, Tseng acted as if this was the first time a man’s stripped for him!

“Yes, well…” Tseng trailed off, unwilling to admit the truth aloud. Not quite yet.

He distracted himself by reaching for the oil again, putting it in easy reach. He patted his chest pointedly, catching Sephiroth’s gaze. “Come here.”

Sephiroth lifted a brow. “I’m already here.”

There was something to be said about a lack of experience that was intoxicating. And Tseng wasn’t a strong enough man to deny how very sexy it was. To accrue innocence on a man like Sephiroth seemed unthinkable, and yet there was an untouched part of the man that proved its existence.

“No, I mean scoot up,” Tseng clarified, heart thudding in his chest from anticipation alone. It should have been awkward, but it wasn’t at all. Thank kami for that.

Though obviously confused, Sephiroth did as asked. He shifted until his knees straddled Tseng’s chest. Tseng’s fingers stroked the organ in his grasp, treated to an aroused shiver, as he licked his lips pointedly, the musky smell of Sephiroth’s arousal trickling to his nose. Indeed, every part of him was beautiful.

Only then did Sephiroth seem to get the point and Tseng leaned forward just as Sephiroth pushed towards him. Tseng’s tongue slipped out, lapping across the tip of Sephiroth’s cock and catching a bead of fluid. Sephiroth was rigid with need, leaking copiously, his breathing emerging in harsh, controlled pants.

Tseng looked forward to seeing him abandon that control. He began to suspect that he contained a slightly sadistic side. Sephiroth nearly trembled as he dragged his tongue across Sephiroth’s cock, making Tseng’s own desire surge through his veins. The former General emitted a restrained mood, body shaking from the effort of holding himself back.

Looking up at Sephiroth, Tseng’s tongue made another round of the seeping tip. “Lean forward, hold onto the headboard for me?” he asked, locking eyes with Sephiroth, whose own had darkened with want.

Sephiroth didn’t hesitate, a fact which pleased Tseng greatly. As he stretched over Tseng, the Turk was all too eager to draw Sephiroth into his mouth, wrapping his lips around Sephiroth’s rigid arousal. To his delight, Sephiroth groaned, an incredibly erotic sound that was mix of breath and moan.

Ten years. He’d waited ten years for this. And damn but Sephiroth was worth it.

Tseng’s hands moved to Sephiroth’s hips, squeezing and soothing, as his mouth worked Sephiroth’s shaft. He traced veins and flicked the flat of his tongue against the sensitive head, feeling Sephiroth shudder above him.

Glancing upwards, Tseng found Sephiroth’s eyes had closed. His head hung, hair curtaining his face. But his grip on the headboard was white-knuckled tight, and his hips had already begun a subtle rocking motion. Perfect.

Tseng loosened his hold on Sephiroth’s hip and reached for the oil. Distracting Sephiroth with his mouth, he drizzled more over his fingers. And then he carefully brushed his oiled fingers lightly over Sephiroth’s puckered muscle, nearly holding his breath in expectation.

Sephiroth tensed briefly at the unexpected touch, but relaxed again when Tseng sucked strongly on Sephiroth’s cock. His tongue danced over the seeping slit, distracting Sephiroth wholly. So far so good.

He massaged his fingers over the muscled ring. Sephiroth moaned lustily, pushing back towards the teasing touch.

Encouraged, Tseng opted to press a finger, groaning low in his chest when the single digit was clamped in heat. The anticipated flash of uncertainty didn’t come, and Tseng had to admit that Highwind was most likely right. It did have something to do with control. In the past, Sephiroth had none. But now, he had the capability to call things to an end if he wanted, to pull away and leave. And that made all the difference in the world.

Grinning around his mouthful, Tseng shallowly thrust his finger in and out, pleased that Sephiroth rocked back and forth between the heat of his mouth and the pressure of his finger. Sephiroth gasped in a breath, sweat coating his forehead, his cock swelling in Tseng’s mouth.

“Tseng…” he groaned, fingers flexing against the headboard. “I can’t…”

Recognizing the sound for what it was – a warning – Tseng did not pause, drawing Sephiroth deeper into his mouth and stroking his tongue over the rigid flesh.

“I-” Sephiroth suddenly broke off, shuddering as his restraint snapped and he spilled himself in Tseng’s mouth, the taste of him washing over the Turk’s tongue. The headboard creaked as Sephiroth’s grip tested its durability.

Tseng swallowed him greedily, muscles clamping around his finger. Sephiroth panted, his pale skin flushed quite attractively. He carefully laved his tongue over Sephiroth’s cock as the last of the spurts faded, gentle as he knew the former General was quite sensitive.

As Sephiroth lingered in a hazy aftermath of sizzling pleasure, Tseng took the opportunity to press in another finger, relieved when there was no protest. His own need had reached greater heights, undone by the sight of Sephiroth losing himself to pleasure. It left him faintly dizzy with want.

Muscles loosened around his fingers, still gripping, but not with the same restrictive force as before. Sephiroth had relaxed, his body keyed to the pleasure Tseng provided him.

Dragging his free hand around, Tseng skirted his palm up Sephiroth’s flat belly, fingers splayed across the former General’s chest. He found a peaked nipple, twisting it gently in his fingers. Sephiroth hissed, pushing back towards Tseng’s fingers, his body easing.

“Ready?” Tseng asked, licking his lips in anticipation.

Grey eyes wandered down to him, dazed from his release and drunk with pleasure. “Ready?” he repeated, in confusion, before understanding dawned on him. “Of course I am. I won’t break, Tseng.”

Not quite believing, Tseng gave him a once-over. Sephiroth certainly looked ready, his cock hardening beneath Tseng’s look. His muscles had loosened around Tseng’s fingers. And most of all, there was a complete lack of doubt in his thoughts, they were steady and smooth, like a stream flowing over rocks, though beneath the surface stirred an eddy of desire.

Nodding, Tseng set his hands on Sephiroth’s hip. “Good. Then scoot back for me,” he murmured, only to add a belated, “Please.”

Cheeks reddening, Sephiroth inclined his head, slipping backwards until he hovered over Tseng’s cock, purple with need.

Tseng drizzled oil over his fingers, nearly spilling it as his hands shook with want. He really was acting like a virgin who’d never tasted another before. He grit his teeth as he dumped the lube over his aching shaft, and placed one hand on Sephiroth’s hip.

Looking up, Tseng licked his lips, clearing his throat noisily. “This sounds contrary,” he began, breathing noticeably uneven. “But push out as I push in.”

Sephiroth nodded, and slowly sank down. Tseng groaned, his hand clamping on Sephiroth’s hip as he struggled to hold onto his control. He felt the head of his cock press against the slick ring before it breached, pressing into incredible heat. Throwing his head back, Tseng fought not to come then and there.

He groaned, fully encased inside Sephiroth and thanking Kami and all who would listen. “Okay?” he gasped, hoping desperately that Sephiroth was fine because as it were, all of his senses had short-circuited and he couldn’t sense a damn thing.

“Please don’t ask me that,” Sephiroth returned tightly, but the look on his face didn’t project overwhelming pain, so Tseng supposed all was well.

He curled his fingers around Sephiroth’s cock, giving him an encouraging stroke, and watched as Sephiroth arched into the touch. It was a simple matter for Tseng to withdraw, and then push up into the other man again, tossing his head back at the pleasure that assaulted his senses. It felt like Sephiroth was gripping him, and his strained libido breathed a great sigh of relief.

Tseng wanted it to last. He held romantic illusions of staying buried in Sephiroth’s body, of their skin sliding together and their lips tangled. He wanted to remember this. But the intentions of his mind were no match for the desires of his body.

He felt it building up inside of him, a wave of heat that flooded his systems only to pool in his belly, coiling tensely. His rhythm became more ragged, his control fading as he greedily took in Sephiroth’s expression, aroused by the red that stained his cheeks and the glisten of sweat over pale skin. Sephiroth was close, too. He could feel it in every throb of the man’s cock, and every twitch of Sephiroth’s muscles around him.

Tseng’s release built up inside of him, a massive tidal wave battering at the dam of his control. He sucked in a breath, clinging to restraint, determined to hold out. He swiped his thumb over the head of Sephiroth’s cock, slamming up into the other man. He wanted to Sephiroth come undone first, to feel the former General clenching around him before he released.

Sephiroth groaned, leaning forward and placing both hands to either side of Tseng’s head. He lowered his mouth, sealing his lips against Tseng’s. His tongue shoved insistently past Tseng’s lips, tangling sloppily, and Tseng groaned. He loved Sephiroth being aggressive as much as he loved Sephiroth panting and writhing above him.

Fluid seeped over Tseng’s fingers, the cock in his hold as rigid as steel and swelling with impending release. Tseng thrust upwards, his arousal rubbing insistently at Sephiroth’s prostate. Tseng pushed deeper and deeper into that clenching heat, unable to stop the blaze that worked its way through his body.

Tseng peeled open his eyes, silver darkened with want as he broke away from the kiss to press his lips against Sephiroth’s throat. The other man swallowed and Tseng felt the bobbing of it against his mouth. So sexy. So hot. He couldn’t hold on much longer.

“Come for me,” Tseng murmured, half-plea, half-request and all ardent desire. He dragged his lower lip between his teeth, chewing on it desperately in effort to hold himself back. His hips had a mind of their own, churning relentlessly upwards.

“Tseng, I-”

He watched, captivated, as Sephiroth gasped, body arching, every movement sleek and defined. Sephiroth shook, a low groan building his chest, rattling through his throat, and falling from his lips. Sephiroth’s fingers clenched onto the coverlet as he ground onto Tseng’s cock, rocking between the penetrating shaft and the stroking of Tseng’s fingers. Inches away from release.

Sephiroth’s lips parted, as though to say nothing more, but the word degenerated into a rattling moan as his hips snapped and he shuddered. Release spilled over Tseng’s fingers, some splattering onto his belly as Sephiroth’s body tightened around him.

Tseng’s restraint snapped, the coil of heat in his belly bursting. His fingers clenched on Sephiroth’s hip, chomping on his bottom lip as he succumbed to the pull of Sephiroth’s body. He spilled within that clamping heat, hips raggedly pushing upwards as Sephiroth slumped bonelessly over him, face pressed to Tseng’s neck.

Tremors of pleasure still tingling through his body, Tseng dragged his relatively clean hand upwards, threading fingers through dyed hair. He tilted Sephiroth’s face upwards, sealing their lips together in a slow, languid kiss, heart gradually returning to a normal rhythm in his chest.

Sephiroth ended the kiss, grey eyes seeking out Tseng’s. “I’m all sticky,” he admitted, grinding his hips down emphatically.

Tseng sucked in a breath, the motion too erotic. His libido, which should have been sated by now, gave a twitch of interest. “Join me for a shower?” he suggested, a slow slurry of desire beginning in his groin, only to radiate elsewhere.

He was treated to the sight of a Sephiroth smile, small but definitely there, and recently low in abundance. “No holds barred, is that what you’re telling me?”

Tseng’s hand curved over Sephiroth’s buttocks, despite the release still covering them. “You’re the one that gave me the opportunity.” His lips pulled into a lecherous smirk. “I’ve years to make up for it.”

“I don’t think my body can handle that,” Sephiroth groaned, but even so, Tseng felt Sephiroth’s cock twitch against his hip.

“It can handle more than you think,” Tseng returned, though he took a moment to return to all seriousness. “Thank you for trusting me.”

Embarrassment darkened Sephiroth’s cheeks, his eyes skittering away. “That’s really not something to thank someone for,” he muttered.

“Fine, then I won’t.” Tseng pressed his lips to Sephiroth’s bare throat, licking over flushed skin. “Join me for a shower?” he asked again, though his body seemed to have a mind of its own, hips rolling up against Sephiroth’s.

“If we even make it there,” Sephiroth responded with a teasing groan, though he didn’t pull away from Tseng.

And that, right there, was encouragement enough.

The funeral was held a few days later, on a cool morning where the sun peeked through scattered clouds and the air smelled sweet and fresh. Like a new day. But not even the good weather could break the shroud of sorrow that clung like a wet blanket to the mourners.

Several spoke. Flowers were lain in offering, a brilliant array of colors. Faces were dry, expressions solid and controlled, but only Tseng could tell the truth of the emotion. Even then, he was too absorbed in his own grief to pay much attention to anyone else’s.

Three graves stood in stark contrast to the blue and white sky, one already present, two recently crafted.

And Sephiroth stood, slightly away from everyone, but present nonetheless, wishing he could erase the guilt but knowing it was something that would take time. Logically, he knew he shouldn’t blame himself entirely. He had been told as much from several of those closest to him. But he couldn’t help the stabs of guilt, and he doubted they would ever leave him.

A part of him relished that strong emotion, because it meant he had broken from the mask of SOLDIER that Hojo had trapped him behind. It meant he was the most human he had ever been.

He watched as one-by-one, his friends and family left, wandering back towards Kalm. There would be a night of drinking for the adults, early bedtime for the children. A night of reminiscing and amusing stories to ease the tightness of grief. And in the morning, they would wander their separate ways, still connected by their bonds, but slowly moving on.

The people of Gaia were nothing if not durable.

Tseng was one of the last to leave, his face dry, but his eyes a mask of emotions. His grief had not ended despite the time, but he had grown to bear it better.

Their gazes met briefly, a silent conversation passing between them. Tseng would wait for him at the bar, though he wouldn’t indulge. He understood, without Sephiroth needing to say, that there was one conversation left for Sephiroth to hold.

Zack still stood, his back a solid presence, seeming entirely composed. And Sephiroth had never felt guiltier for being unable to help his best friend.

He waited until the others had left, bonding together in their sorrows. Only then did Sephiroth move from his spot, walking quietly to stand beside Zack, watching the three headstones that marked the burial spots of their friends’ remains.

Their spirits weren’t here anymore, but it was the closest connection any of them had to what was lost.

“Zack-”

“I’m sorry,” Zack said quickly, interrupting. His voice raspy, Zack noisily cleared his throat before continuing. “I just thought I would say it first before you could.”

Shaking his head, Sephiroth shifted his gaze to look at Zack. His best friend could have been carved from stone for all the emotion he showed, an expression dangerously resembling the one Sephiroth used to carry. Sephiroth didn’t like the look of it all.

“And what are you apologizing for?”

Zack shrugged. “Whatever you think you need to apologize for. It’s not your fault. It’s not mine. And yet, apologies keep flying around.” He closed his eyes, tilting his head towards the sky. “When are we going to realize it doesn’t ease the pain any? Only makes it worse.”

“I should have been there for you,” Sephiroth said, pushing on despite Zack’s words. He considered this a different guilt than the one surrounding Elena and Marlene’s death. “Since you have always been by my side.

Zack peeled his eyes open, glancing at him from the side. Warmth touched crystalline blue, and something inside Sephiroth sighed with relief. His best friend was still in there, behind the mask. It was just his manner of grieving.

“You sent Aeris, and honestly Sephiroth, she’s the best comfort a guy could get. No offense. But you’re just not soft in all the right places.” Zack’s lips quirked into a wry grin, a shadow of his usual humor, but enough to ease Sephiroth’s tensions a bit further.

His shoulders laxed, a wind rising and stirring Sephiroth’s hair around his face. “Then I am relieved. I… I worry about you, Zack.” Voicing his emotions, something so terribly simple, but nothing was ever simple for Sephiroth. It took more effort than anyone would know to say it so plainly.

Zack looked at him, actually turned to look at him fully, a bit more of the stone mask melting away. “It’s grief, Seph. And yeah, it hurts. Yeah, I’m feeling pretty damn depressed right now. But I won’t drown in it. I promise. So don’t worry. You’ll give yourself ulcers and then where would we be?”

“Hopefully, happily enjoying your lives,” Sephiroth returned easily, hardening his shoulders against the cold. “I think I speak for all of us when I say I am tired of fighting. If I never see another battle again, I will be much relieved.”

Zack turned, rubbing shoulders with him, encouraging Sephiroth to follow. His eyes tracked Sephiroth’s face. “You’re different somehow,” he commented. And at Sephiroth’s confused look, Zack elaborated. “Not wholly a bad thing, but different. Stronger.”

“I have settled some things,” Sephiroth admitted, thinking with a hint of a blush to everything he had finally come to accept. There was a peace inside of him, and he luxuriated in it.

The wind ruffled black spikes. “Settled some things,” Zack repeated, and his lips parted in a true grin, a sharp bark of laughter escaping him. “Just say it like everyone else, Seph. You got laid.”

Eyes widening impossibly large, Sephiroth nearly choked on his next breath. “Zack!”

“No need to hide it,” Zack chirped with a cheer that was – in part – forced, but also wholly honest. He clapped a hand on Sephiroth’s shoulder. “It’s about time. Poor Tseng must have been ready to combust. I’m surprised you’re in one piece.”

Sephiroth found himself completely speechless, his mouth opening and closing but no words emerging. In truth, he did feel a bit… wrung dry for lack of a better word. His ears and cheeks burned with embarrassment, though he ought to be used to this by now when it came to Zack.

It was a return to the normal, though sorrow still ran like an undercurrent, and Sephiroth relished it. Which was why he endured the teasing as they headed back to the bar, and why he returned it in full.

Zack was hurting, but he would get better. Just like the rest of their motley, assorted family. Things would heal with time, and they would move on, just as they had times before. Life continued, even if it seemed otherwise, and this second chance had taught Sephiroth that.

Life was meant for living.

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[Shattered] Children 13

Interlude Four: Stunted Motion

Sephiroth moaned, the sound slipping through his lips before he could stop it, head falling back against the pillow behind him. His body was covered in a faint sheen of sweat as he succumbed to the sweet mouth wrapped around his arousal, working him so effortlessly to a climax.

He might not have had years of experience, but that didn’t mean much. He was absolutely certain that no one could have been more talented than Tseng, that tongue and those lips applying the perfect pressure as they passed over the length of his erection. The tip of Tseng’s tongue flicked out against him and his hips bucked automatically, body shuddering in need.

Tseng rode out the motion in a well-practiced move, one hand sliding up to settle on Sephiroth’s bare hip and hold him down. The former General tried to hold back, but the pleasure was too great and he thrust upwards, seeking more of the wet warmth. He had never known that it could feel like this, having assumed that the rumors he’d heard on the subject were merely rumors and he was missing out on nothing. He had been so wrong.

A gasp slipped from his lips, one of his hands clutched onto the covers as a fire begin to curl in his belly, twisting and turning. The other clenched onto nothing before falling to Tseng’s hold on his hip, fingers digging into the Turk’s hand. That tongue worked him mercilessly, and there was a faint scrape of teeth against the sensitive skin. Tseng sucked at the head of his length before going deeper, taking Sephiroth into his throat.

The former general was in absolute bliss, body shuddering as it neared its climax and bathed in sweat. A part of him wanted to hold on to this ecstasy forever, never surrendering to his release, even if he knew it was impossible. Sephiroth dragged his lip between his teeth, trying to stop the almost embarrassing sounds that were pouring from his mouth.

He could feel his pulse pounding through his body, making him break out into a warm sweat of need and want. His hips kept jerking, despite Tseng’s hold on them, and all he wanted to do was spill into that warm mouth. That tongue worked him without ending, swiping and doing wonderful things that kept him on the edge of bliss, and Sephiroth groaned, the taste of copper dancing on his tongue as he bit his lip.

It was no use. He couldn’t hold back even if he wanted to. He felt the coiling and the twisting in his gut first, the throbbing of his arousal against Tseng’s tongue. The head of his shaft bobbed against the back of the Turk’s throat and Tseng swallowed, his throat massaging Sephiroth’s length. It was simply more than he could take.

Fingers digging into the covers with enough strength to rip the cotton material, Sephiroth shoved his head back against the pillow and bucked, releasing into his lover’s mouth. Ecstasy rattled through him, ignoring his attempts to clamp down on his cries and releasing a pleased groan into the room. And, through it all, Tseng’s mouth never stopped its torture, swallowing him easily. A part of Sephiroth was inexplicably jealous, though it was dulled by the pleasure still racking his body.

He panted, body thrumming happily as Tseng let the softening organ slip from his mouth and moved upwards. Sephiroth didn’t even protest as Tseng kissed him, his own fingers moving to tangle in long, dark hair. The kiss was sloppy and messy, more hungry and open-mouthed than gentle and loving. He could taste himself on Tseng’s tongue and it was a weird flavor, but he endured it because it didn’t matter.

Their bodies came together, warmth blanketing warmth. Sephiroth could feel Tseng’s arousal pressing against one of his legs, demanding and rigid, even as he wrapped his other arm around Tseng’s back, holding the Turk against him. Tseng growled in his throat, grinding his hips sinuously against Sephiroth’s leg. The sound was absolutely sexy, threatening to awaken Sephiroth’s libido once more.

One of Tseng’s hands pressed against the bed for balance as the other gripped Sephiroth’s shoulder, their tongues tangling together until Tseng broke the kiss. He dropped his mouth to Sephiroth’s throat, nipping and licking, always fascinated by the red marks he caused that healed all too quickly. The mattress gave a tiny squeak of discomfort but it was promptly ignored, heat filling the room.

Sephiroth had learned of reciprocation in their gradually growing relationship and, without further adieu, he freed one of his arms,sliding it between their bodies. His fingers found Tseng’s arousal and massaged the taut flesh through the layer of cloth separating them. Tseng moaned, his breath hot and heavy against Sephiroth’s throat and he bucked into the touch.

With a great surge, Sephiroth managed to roll them over, Tseng helping him somewhat. His hand moved from touching to unbuttoning Tseng’s pants, even as his mouth sought out the Turks once more. He had quickly grown to enjoy kissing, their mouths openly pressing together and lips crashing with a hint of impatience. Tseng’s hips bucked against his hand as he dragged down the zipper, his fingers diving beneath the fabric to cup the hardened length.

A sigh came from Tseng’s lips and his breath hitched as he wrapped his fingers around Sephiroth’s arm, squeezing faintly in encouragement.

Sephiroth gathered his courage and began to work his way down Tseng’s body, momentarily mouthing a nipple through dark cloth before continuing in his path. His heart was pounding in his chest, but he was determined to give it a try. It seemed only fair after all, and the sounds emanating from Tseng’s throat continued to encourage him.

His trailed his fingers down Tseng’s length, thumbing a pearly drop that had gathered at the tip. Sephiroth positioned himself between the Turk’s legs and stared at the organ in front of him, angry red with need. He stroked Tseng with his fingers, his own arousal tightening as the Turk moaned, legs spreading to accommodate him.

He could do this.

Sephiroth lowered his head and closed his mouth over the tip of Tseng’s arousal, gently curling his tongue around the head. The resulting hitch of breath from his lover was worth the moment’s discomfort. He lightly stroked the base of Tseng’s shaft, and tried to go further, attempting to take more of the organ into his mouth.

Completely unbidden, memories chose that moment to crop up around him. He remembered another moment, another time, far back in the past. The feel of flesh, hard and hot, sliding into his mouth. He remembered choking on the bitter taste as it slid down his throat, like boiling liquid, harsh and burning. He remembered trying to breathe but unable to, being forced to take the thick organ.

There was a penis hitting the back of his throat, bruising his mouth and his flesh. He knew he was choking on it, but it wouldn’t fall back. His lips were cut and bleeding, thin fingers digging into his skull. They pushed his head forward, forcing him to take more of the disgusting thing deeper. He could remember the scent of the assailant, and the sound of heavy breathing, raspy with a hint of disdain.

Nausea rolled through Sephiroth, along with the bitter feeling of absolutely loathing. Even though he knew that logically the circumstances were nowhere near the same, he couldn’t stop the bile from wanting to rise. He suddenly wanted a bath in boiling hot water, perhaps even dousing himself in the burn of mako. Anything to get rid of the sudden tainted feeling that coursed through him.

“Sephiroth?”

Tseng’s voice snapped him from his daze and he realized that some long moment had passed since he had taken his lover into his mouth. The Turk’s organ had long since slipped from his lips and he had been staring into nothing. Sephiroth blinked slowly, the memories echoing in the back of his mind.

Silver eyes turned towards him, filling with concern. He reached for Sephiroth, the worry chasing away all thoughts of arousal. Angry at himself, the former general pulled back out of Tseng’s reach as the nightmares continued to play across the back of mind, like scattered, stilted scenes of horror. Sephiroth slipped off the bed, trying to ignore the look in his lover’s eyes.

He turned his back on Tseng, reaching for his loosened pants and hastily tucking himself away. Any arousal he might have held had died in the face of his nightmarish memories.

“I have to go,” Sephiroth said rather lamely, already stumbling towards the door to Tseng’s bedroom.

He couldn’t help but wonder what had caused his normally rational and composed mindset to fly out the window. He could remember feeling some uncertainty, at times, but he’d never dealt with it like this, by running away like a frightened coward.

The mattress squeaked in protest, comforters rustling. “Sephiroth, wait!” Tseng fumbled to rise and chase after him. The sound of him dragging up his pants and nearly tripping on their length, displaying none of his usual grace, filled the tense silence.

Sephiroth pretended as if he couldn’t hear, didn’t even notice. “I have to go,” he repeated, unable to come up with something better.

His heart was racing as he yanked open the door and stepped out into the hallway. He was at the main entrance in a flash, sliding sock covered feet into his boots and grabbing his jacket with one hand. He heard the keys rattle inside one of the pockets, and relief spread through him knowing he wouldn’t have to spend precious time searching for them.

Tseng moved more quickly than he would have expected, however, and caught him before he could even open the front door. His fingers curled around Sephiroth’s upper arm, dragging him to a halt, and Sephiroth could only hope that the telepath couldn’t see what was flashing inside his brain. He prayed that Tseng’s concern would override his instinctual curiosity. The images floating around in his brain were something he never wanted anyone else to see.

The feeling of needing to vomit rose up again and Sephiroth swore he could taste the bile in the back of his throat. He heard distant grunts of ecstasy, felt the phantom bruising fingers on his skin leavings marks that the mako would soon burn away.

“Talk to me,” Tseng said, and he made it sound so simple.

Though he had no real desire to, Sephiroth turned to look at his lover, and all he could see was that man. Logically, he knew that Tseng was standing there and not Hojo. Rationally, he knew that Tseng’s eyes were brighter, his hair cleaner, his concern more genuine, his touch gentler. The small part of him that remained sane knew that they weren’t the same, but with the madness banking behind him, and the nightmares crashing across his eyes… he was staring into the past.

Sephiroth shook his head, closing his eyes against the images. “I have to go,” was was the only consolation he could give the Turk as he pulled his arm free. In the same motion, he practically ripped the door of its hinges and disappeared beyond it, slamming it shut behind him with a sense of finality.

He didn’t feel safe until he was far down the hallway and in the elevator, going down the ten or so floors that would take him to the garage below the building. His entire body was shaking, the sickness and disgust making him pale and weak. A cold sweat had broken out over his body, forcing Sephiroth to wonder faintly if he was finally going to lose it.

He hadn’t even managed more than a few seconds of providing pleasure to his lover, leaving him in the lurch, and yet, Sephiroth could still taste the bitter seed burning the back of his throat. He scraped a hand over his face, wishing he could just wash out the images, but the several deep, steadying breaths he had time for did nothing to bring him control.

In his pocket, he felt his phone buzz. It was, more likely than not, Tseng trying to talk to him, trying to figure out what had gone wrong, but Sephiroth ignored it. He knew he couldn’t bring himself to explain anything at the moment, not with the reminder so fresh. He vaguely wondered if that noise in the back of his mind was Jenova cackling at him.

The elevator dinged, dropping to a halt and making his stomach lurch violently. The door slid open, releasing him into the parking garage. Sephiroth wasted no time in climbing onto his bike, telling himself that he wasn’t running away. Not really. He just needed time to figure this out on his own, time to find some sense in the craziness and to determine just what the hell Hojo had done to him.

His bike came to life with a roar that echoed in the half-full garage and Sephiroth revved the engine, speeding out of the building. He knew his mind probably had some final destination in mind, but he didn’t know for sure, nor did he particularly care. He had handled the whole situation poorly, that much was obvious, and he mentally sent an apology to Tseng for having been such an insensitive prick.

Perhaps men like him really weren’t meant for relationships after all.

Back in the apartment, Tseng ended the call before his phone had even finished ringing. Sephiroth would have already answered if it had intended to do so. His fingers tightened around the cell, the plastic groaning under the pressure, before he tossed it onto the hall table. They were expensive to replace.

He was confused, unsure what to call the emotions rolling inside of him, though he knew some of them were remnants of Sephiroth’s pain. But, from that single, unasked for glimpse into the man’s mind, Tseng was certain anger was also part of it.

He had the urge to punch the wall, kick the door, do something violent because there was no real outlet for his anger. The one who had caused it was already dead, destroyed by one Cid Highwind, and yet, he hadn’t even begun to pay for his misdeeds. There was no hell deep enough for Euphraim Hojo.

Knowing that Sephiroth was remembering more and more each day made him sick, and he also knew that there was no way Sephiroth ever planned on telling him. He doubted even Zack knew.

A part of Tseng wished he had never discovered the sordid truth. But, he had, and now he had to deal with the consequences of knowing. If he had been any less of a man, he would have proclaimed Sephiroth beyond his capacity to handle and simply turned away; if his feelings had been any less sincere, he would have abandoned the man long before. But, Tseng was already in too deep, and he knew there was no way out of the hole his emotions had landed him in.

With a defeated sigh, Tseng reached out and flicked off the light in the hall. He wandered through the house, turning off the rest of the lights and such, preparing to go to sleep. There really was no reason to stay up by himself.

He went to bed, but with his thoughts so jumbled and confused, it did him little good. He stayed up most of the night brooding, and it was only in the early hours of the morning that he finally managed to fall asleep, only to wake up not long after in order to head into the office. He felt ragged and tired, weariness pulling at his bones like a physical weight.

Tseng dressed in a sleepy daze, grabbing the necessities and locking up his apartment. He was at the office in a matter of minutes, easy enough when one lived in the same building as his workplace. Heading directly for the employee room and the aged coffee pot, he heard the sweet sound of the machine gurgling out the morning’s first pot. Zack must have been by already; he made the best coffee.

He poured himself a full cup and sipped at the steaming liquid, choking it down black to wake himself up with the bitter taste. He usually preferred sugar and cream until it was the color of pale mocha, but some situations called for something stronger.

He blew on the coffee to cool it down and absentmindedly wandered back towards his temporary office, mind still churning with the nightmares he had siphoned from Sephiroth unintentionally. As he rounded to the corner, he was surprised to find that someone was already waiting outside the door for him.

Tseng blinked. “Sephiroth?”

After much effort, those gray-green eyes lifted to his. “Are you busy?”

The Turk shook his head. “I wouldn’t be able to tell you,” he responded, still trying to overcome his shock, “having not had the chance to see my desk yet this morning.”

The smile that broke onto Sephiroth’s lips looked strained as he moved aside. Tseng pulled out his key with one hand, sliding it into the lock and opening the door.

“You can come in though,” Tseng added, pushing his way inside and leaving the door open in invitation.

“Thank you.”

Tseng stepped into his office and moved across the floor to his desk. He circled around it, setting the coffee on its heating mat and powered up his computer with a press of his finger. His office was anally organized as usual, yet he couldn’t resist glaring daggers at the pile of paperwork stacked in his IN box. It didn’t make any sense how much he had when the only person he reported to was Reeve. Then again, their investors liked to see a paper trail.

A light chuckle pierced his thoughts and he looked up to find that Sephiroth was watching him. “That is the same look I used to give my own paperwork,” he explained.

Tseng arched one brow, the tension between them slowly lightening its grip as they worked through it. “The Great General had paperwork?”

“More than I was willing to sign,” Sephiroth responded, fidgeting slightly in an uncharacteristic motion. He remained in the office, however, looking determined.

The Turk Commander sipped his coffee, holding back his blanch at the taste. He sat down at his desk, watching Sephiroth over the rim. His lover looked pale still, and definitely awkward, but also resolute. A small part of Tseng couldn’t help but begin to fear that Sephiroth had come to end it. He had shown up rather quickly after leaving so suddenly and, usually, he needed more than half a night to get over something.

He knew that their relationship wasn’t perfect and that really, they weren’t moving forward at all. But he had wanted this for so long, and he’d never been one to give up on something that really mattered. It was part of the Turk motto, after all. He couldn’t just abandon Sephiroth either, not after what he’d seen. Pity was the last thing Sephiroth would want from him, but he was also certain that pity had nothing to do with it.

Despite all the troubles, Tseng didn’t want it to be over. He had so much left to learn.

His mug hit the desk top and Tseng opened his mouth, fully intending to make his plea in a manner that didn’t sound like he was begging. “Sephiroth-”

“All I’ve ever known is the military,” the General interrupted him before he could even begin that sentence, his eyes shifting to the side. “The military and… that man.”

Silver eyes raised to the former General, that man easily identified without him having to ask. He remained silent, patiently waiting for his lover to continue. He knew that Sephiroth did not need to be prompted, that he was just trying to find the right words.

He watched as Sephiroth swallowed thickly, but his hands remained unclenched at his sides. It was a testament to his composure that Sephiroth wasn’t fidgeting. A part of Tseng recognized that he was drawing on the General’s learned composure right now, if only to keep from wanting to run away. There were small threads of fear and disgust still in his emotions, but there was also a hefty amount of purpose there as well.

“I’ve always known that they were doing experiments on me, but I had assumed it was nothing unusual to SOLDIER,” Sephiroth continued, his tone purposefully blank. “I had no idea that Jenova was not my mother, but an alien creature from beyond the stars. However, I was aware that Hojo was my father. He took great pride in constantly telling me so.”

Tseng inclined his head, fingers curling around the warmth of his coffee. “They were lying to you,” he said softly. “Nothing unusual for ShinRa.”

“The truth would have meant their deaths,” Sephiroth answered. “They never expected me to be human, never tried to show me how. Until I met Zack, I didn’t know what it meant to live. I’d only… existed.”

His words dropped into the room and Tseng absorbed them, feeling something inside him clench at just the thought. Sephiroth, who was never meant to be anything more than a machine… no wonder he couldn’t understand his own feelings, or anything else.

“Why are you telling me this?” Tseng asked, after the moment of contemplative silence. “If this is an apology or a way to make up for-”

“That’s not it,” Sephiroth insisted a bit forcefully, face flushing. “I’m telling you so you can understand.

The Turk blinked. He already understood that much about his lover, why would Sephiroth need to reiterate it? He sat back into his chair, fingers touching the mug but not drinking it.

Sephiroth sighed and raked a hand through his hair, another nervous gesture that he had somehow acquired recently. “I don’t remember much,” he began again. “I don’t know if it’s because I’ve died, or if it’s Jenova or the Planet or what… but I can’t remember a good bit of my life. Zack told me that when he woke on that island, he couldn’t either. But his memories are coming back a lot faster than mine, and… I think it’s because I’m subconsciously blocking what I don’t want to remember.”

Confusion rippled through Tseng but he nodded slowly. “That makes sense, all things considered.”

Shifting position a bit awkwardly, Sephiroth continued, “But when I do remember, it’s usually triggered by something and it can be… startling.” Which was putting it rather mildly, but Sephiroth felt no need to add that particular comment. “I apologize for leaving without explanation last night.”

Tseng felt his breath expel slowly, relief spreading through him. Sephiroth was not trying to end it. And even though he had been upset last night, he no longer felt the same today. His anger had bled out to become a slow burning. With nothing to direct it towards, it could only fizzle out in its uselessness. In the end, he had only been able to promise himself that he would never demand anything of Sephiroth that the man couldn’t give.

“Apology accepted.” Tseng said, and then abruptly shifted gears. “Are you busy tonight?”

The former General blinked. “You’re not going to ask?”

“Would you tell me if I did?”

“…”

He had suspected as much.

Tseng took a sip of his coffee and rose to his feet, leaving the bitter liquid on his desk. “It’s only been a couple of months. If you’re not ready to tell me yet, I understand.”

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to know, or that he thought Sephiroth shouldn’t tell someone about what had happened to him. But, Tseng understood that trying to press Sephiroth for anything was only going to drive his away. Perhaps later, after they’d become more certain of their relationship, he could convince the man to talk to him. But, for the present, just being with him and for him was enough.

Relief spread through Sephiroth’s emotions, though it didn’t show on his face,

wiping away the uncertainty. “I haven’t spoken with Reeve, yet,” he answered. “I do need to stop by Kalm but that can wait another day.”

A smile flitted onto Tseng’s face. “Good.”

It wasn’t much, but it felt like something, at least. They were moving forward, and that was really all that mattered.

[Shattered] Children 04

Interlude One: Worth the Wait

(Tseng/Sephiroth)

He never thought he would ever see the great general of ShinRa’s army, or former to be more precise, dressed casually. But Tseng was definitely glad for the chance. It gave the man a softer look, something a little less capable of bloodshed and instilling fear in the masses. And while he appreciated the tight, black leather, there was something to be said for Sephiroth’s current attire.

Zack must have helped him pick it out because Tseng had the feeling that Sephiroth was ignorant when it came to things of this nature. Casual, intimate encounters outside the necessary interaction of war and the planning of it were more of what Sephiroth was used to handling. He sincerely doubted that the man had ever been on a date in his entire life.

Nevertheless, the powder blue dress shirt illuminated Sephiroth’s eyes, untucked from slim-fitting black slacks, showing off the length of his legs. Tseng had been ogling his fill the entire night, through the entire dinner and subsequent walk on the outskirts of Junon which was comparable to a stroll down the docks. He wasn’t the only one.

Everywhere the two of them went they garnered appreciative stares, from men and women alike. No one had been brave enough to approach them but the effect was all the same. Sephiroth was perfectly oblivious to the stares. Tseng assumed it was because there was no malice in it so his senses didn’t even register them as important. Besides, the anxiety that the former General was suffering probably overrode any paranoia he might have been suffering from.

No one else would have noticed it, but Tseng wasn’t just anyone. He could feel it, the insistent buzz on the back of his senses speaking plainly what Sephiroth wasn’t. The taller male was nervous about their date, about their relationship. And on the edges was a lingering fear but Tseng hadn’t yet deciphered the reason behind it, only assuming that it had something to do with that great darkness he didn’t dare probe.

He didn’t want to admit that a part of him was afraid of that, unconsciously skivvying away from that pulsing mass of something painful in the back of Sephiroth’s mind. He didn’t want to touch it, didn’t want to even so much as look at that seething mass of poison. The name Jenova might as well have been stamped right on it. Jenova and Hojo both. It was enough to make the Turk a little sweaty on the palms.

“Tseng?”

He blinked out of his thoughts. “I’m sorry,” he replied, a bit sheepish, wondering how long Sephiroth had been trying to get his attention. “Did you ask me something?”

Green eyes watched him before Sephiroth turned his gaze back towards the view. “Have you ever been here before?”

They had paused at one of the observation points, turning their gazes to the rippling ocean and the night sky stretching endlessly above it. A cold breeze picked up, bringing with it the scent of salt and ruffling their clothes. Neither of them minded, however, Tseng actually enjoying the feel of relaxation it brought. The Chaos War almost seemed like a thing of the past, were it not for the rude reminders behind him on the exterior of Junon, gouges and blast marks from demi-god attacks.

Tseng furrowed his brow. “To this particular location?” he asked, shoving his hands in his pockets and stepping closer to the rail.

Below him, he could see the lights of the rest of the city, orange and yellow flickering glows of residences and buildings. He could make out a few people walking around here and there but most were heading home, unwilling to be buffeted by the strong winds. A storm was likely approaching.

The former General shook his head. “No. The beach.”

He gestured below them, towards the faint pale line of sands that signified the beginnings of the shore. It was barely noticeable given that most of it was hidden by structure, but there was a gaping hole in the metal that allowed a certain measure of view. Yet another scar that could be attributed to a mad demi-deity.

“Not this one in particular but I’ve been to Costa del Sol a time or two for an assignment,” he answered, a faint frown pulling at his lips. “Haven’t you?” He had the feeling he wouldn’t like the answer.

There was a moment of silence before Sephiroth sidestepped the question. “I’ve never really liked Junon,” he redirected slowly. “As much as I hated Midgar, I preferred being there to here.”

Tseng placed his hands on the rail, curling his fingers around the cold metal. “Why?”

“It never seemed… alive to me,” Sephiroth replied after a moment, a strange note to his voice. “Everything here is made of metal. The city’s even carved into a cliff. Worse, it was like being imprisoned within the military. There wasn’t a single resident who wasn’t connected in some way to ShinRa.”

The former General had a point. Two of ShinRa’s three training facilities were in Junon as well as most of their weapons stores and the majority of the troops. Before Midgar was constructed, ShinRa’s primary headquarters was Junon. To someone like Sephiroth, born and bred in ShinRa, Junon must have seemed like a metal hell.

“If it’s any consolation, I never liked it much either,” Tseng responded, knowing that Sephiroth willingly sharing anything about his past was a rarity. He thought it only proper to return that tidbit with a piece of his own. “When we were exiled, we ended up here. It was my first harsh reminder that we were no longer in Wutai.”

A moment’s pause.

“Was it difficult?” Sephiroth asked quietly, his gaze never leaving the far rise and fall of black waves on a dark ocean.

There was a clench in Tseng’s heart as images unwarranted attacked him. The smell of the incense. The sound of his aunt’s laugh. The polished wood of the dojo where he had taken his first tentative steps as a swordsman, even at the tiny age of three, still toddling on unsteady legs. The faces carved into a mountain, gods watching over them.

It was the hardest thing Tseng had ever been forced to do. Because to him, leaving meant more than just leaving his home behind. It signified the loss of his father and mother. It was the reminder that the reason for it all was the ability that he had finally learned to control. An ability he still sometimes loathed.

“Yes,” Tseng finally responded, over a lump in his throat. “Yes, it was.”

Sephiroth didn’t say in anything in return. He didn’t have to. He understood the scars all too well, not visible but ten times more painful. He might not have understood the loss of home since he didn’t know the feeling, but there were other agonies that struck just as deeply.

It was what bound them, what strengthened their relationship. Both of them foolish, both of them staggering through the unknown, still bleeding inside from wounds that hadn’t had a chance to heal.

Maybe this was their cure, or at least a chance at one.

Tseng shifted, uncoiling his hands from the railing and turning to face Sephiroth. The wind was causing his dyed hair to flutter around his face. It made Tseng miss the long, silver locks though he understood the necessity. Even now, people still hadn’t forgotten the name of the Great General. There was no telling who still held a grudge.

“Do you want to head back to my apartment?” he asked, inwardly holding his breath as he waited for an answer. “The wind’s picking up.”

There was a moment when he expected a ‘no’. The tension in the air grew thick and choking. Then green eyes turned towards him and Sephiroth nodded.

“Yes, I would.”

Tseng’s heart flip-flopped in excitement at the somewhat hesitant smile he was given.


They took off their shoes at the front door of Tseng’s apartment, leaving them shoved near the hall table. There was an expectant sense to the air that Tseng could feel rattling through his body, making him swallow thickly.

“Would you like some coffee?” Tseng asked, hoping to dispel some of the tension as Sephiroth followed him into the kitchen. His own heart was skipping a beat in anticipation, remembering all too clearly the taste of the other man’s lips.

As Tseng headed towards his cabinets, rifling through the one above the stove where he kept the filters and coffee, Sephiroth hovered near the door. “Yes,” he responded, thinking that something familiar would calm him down. Logically, there was nothing to be afraid of, but it was an irrational anxiety that rode on his thoughts.

He watched the Turk prepare the coffee pot, carefully measured and practiced movements. Sephiroth couldn’t deny that he had been looking forward to this night, a large part of him fully interested in seeing where this relationship was going to take him. And it was nice to see Tseng in something other than his battle garb, surrounded by an atmosphere that wasn’t hovering on a precipice of danger.

Yet, strangely enough, that was where the fear came in. Battle and strategy, throwing himself into defeating the enemy, pitting his skill against a bloodthirsty foe… Sephiroth was well-trained in all of that. But peace andtranquility, taking things a day at a time and stopping to enjoy the simple pleasures… that he couldn’t grasp, that he couldn’t wrap his mind around.

Sephiroth hadn’t been taught the nice things in life, he hadn’t been told that his existence was anything worth enjoying living. He had been crafted a killing machine, the best soldier that ShinRa had to offer. He had eaten because he needed nutrients, had studied the worst that mankind had to offer so he could think like the animal man was. He had trained and learned and bled and slept, not because he was tired, but because occasionally, even his body required rest.

He didn’t know what it meant to be lazy, or to read a book simply because. He had only been in the stages of learning thanks to Zack when Hojo had sent them on that trainwreck that was the mission to Nibelheim. Maybe that was why the crazed scientist had done it. Seeing that someone dared make a human out of his experiment, he knew he had to put an end to it, remind Sephiroth of just what he was. Perhaps that was why, Sephiroth couldn’t even begin to fathom Hojo.

It was scary enough that he could even guess. Because that meant he knew more about the way Hojo thought than he wanted to. That he understoodthe scientist and it terrified him. The fear that he was exactly what Hojo made him to be was never far from his thoughts. And that he could never escape from his instincts, his genes, his training. What if one day, he discovered he couldn’t live with peace and sought out destruction, just to ease the frantic trembling inside of him?

He wondered if peace were even possible for someone like him. If happiness were only just a star above him, forever out of reach for someone with feet firmly entrenched in the concrete of his past.

Tseng was trying to offer him happiness and Sephiroth was absolutely terrified. He had the irrational urge to run out the door, wishing he had the courage to look back.

The former General swallowed thickly, his anxiety only increasing, even as the wonderful smell of roasted coffee beans, percolating hotly, wafted to his nose. Tseng turned to face him and a strange look crossed over the Turk’s face, the same expression he always had when he was sensing something he didn’t particular enjoy. It was the only time Tseng couldn’t completely hide his reactions.

“You can relax,” the Wutaiian said quietly, lifting one hand to tuck a strand of hair behind his ear, a small bit having escaped from his low ponytail. “I’m not going to do anything you don’t want to do.”

Sephiroth allowed a small smile. “It’s that obvious?”

He gestured briefly to his head, shrugging slightly. “Only to someone like me.”

A faint flush spread across Sephiroth’s cheeks before he could stop it, knowing that it was probably some breach of courtesy or he was making some mistake. “I apologize,” he said, his hovering near the doorway probably giving off the wrong impression. “I don’t know anything about-”

“It’s not like there’s some plan you can follow,” Tseng interrupted, cutting off what was likely to be a ramble and Sephiroth never rambled. “Not that I’m any better.”

There was a moment of silence as the coffee pot gurgled behind them, the tension in the room thick enough to cut with the Masamune. A mix of anxiety and need, expectations piled up on top of expectations. It was hot and stifling, breathing down their necks and making every movement something to be crafted, something to be analyzed. Was it just casual, or was it an invitation? The both of them were nervous out of their minds that they would ruin something beyond fixing.

Sephiroth shifted. “I’m thinking too much about this, aren’t I?” he asked, his voice the first to break the quiet.

“I think we both are,” Tseng agreed, stepping away from the counter and approaching the former General. “There’s too much… expectation I suppose is the best word for it.” He could feel it, every shift in Sephiroth’s emotions, stronger than he would have ever anticipated.

Green eyes softened. “Expectation,” he repeated. “Is it really that simple?”

“It’s supposed to be,” Tseng responded, coming to a stop right before Sephiroth. Their eyes met as he tentatively reached up, curling his fingers behind the other man’s head and tugging him down so that their lips could meet in a kiss.

It was just a bare brush of their mouths, lips skimming one against the other, but it was enough to send a wash of heat to Tseng’s groin. Surprise filtered through Tseng’s senses, but not fear. It was encouraging.

Tseng drew away, looking up at Sephiroth and opened his mouth as if to say something, but before he could even speak, the former general closed the distance between their lips again. They kissed, more firmly this time, with increasing confidence. Tseng settled his free hand on Sephiroth’s hip, squeezing gently as he brought their bodies together, inwardly cursing their height difference.

It was nearly intoxicating, kissing Sephiroth, and he deepened the kiss, gingerly exploring the other man’s mouth with his tongue. Sephiroth made a sound in his throat, a nonverbal noise of encouragement as he slumped backwards, his back hitting the door frame. Tseng followed the slouch, pressing against Sephiroth as he continued to merge their mouths.

Their tongues slid sloppily together, the kiss becoming more and more heated. He could feel his cock lengthen in his slacks but even more inspiring was the answering hardness pressed against his hip. Tseng carded his fingers through Sephiroth’s hair encouragingly as the former general tentatively lifted his hands, settling them on the Turk’s shoulders but not to push him away as had been Tseng’s initial belief.

Pale fingers curled against his shoulder as if Sephiroth needed something to hold on to, beginning to respond to the kiss in a more sure fashion, engaging Tseng’s tongue in a gentle duel. It was enough to make Tseng groan inwardly, something about this half-shy and uncertain Sephiroth that made his blood turn to fire.

Sensing nothing but interest on Sephiroth’s part, the anxiety having bled away to pleasure, Tseng’s hand left the taller man’s hip and explored upwards, skating across the soft fabric of Sephiroth’s shirt. With a parting nip to kiss-swollen lips, the Turk dragged his mouth to the hollow of the former general’s jaw, exploring the tender skin with his lips and tongue.

Sephiroth inhaled sharply before inclining his head to the side in silent acquiescence, melting beneath Tseng’s skilled touch. With great care, nimble fingers found the first button of Sephiroth’s shirt and blindly slid it through the small slit. When no protest came, he undid another, baring more of the former General’s chest.

Anticipation curled heavily in Tseng’s flip-flopping stomach as his heart beat a faster rhythm. His lips traveled lower, across Sephiroth’s collarbone and the planes of his chest as he gradually unbuttoned the dress shirt and pushed it aside. His fingers splayed over the man’s taut abdomen and Sephiroth moaned lowly, an incredibly erotic response.

It only made him want more.

Tseng dragged his lips back upwards, sealing them over Sephiroth’s mouth. His hips took up their own rhythm, rocking forward against Sephiroth’s thigh as his cock throbbed in his pants. And all he could feel from the former General was pleasure and content, no more of that anxious fear.

It was a mix of enticement and exhilaration. He plunged his tongue into Sephiroth’s mouth with greater force, memorizing that exotic mix of flavor before dragging his lips back down, tonguing Sephiroth’s throat. His hand jerked on the taller man’s hip, bringing their groins flush together enough that he could feel the throbbing of Sephiroth’s groin.

The former general gasped before he could clamp down on it, fingers flexing on Tseng’s shoulder. “Tseng,” he groaned, his voice full of need and desire and request though he didn’t know for what.

“Tell me to stop at anytime,” Tseng murmured against the other man’s skin, desperately hoping that his soon-to-be lover wasn’t going to murmur ‘no’ right now.

There was a moment of silence filled with heavy breathing before a pale hand lifted and settled on the back of Tseng’s neck, an encouraging motion. “Don’t,” Sephiroth said thickly, voice raspy and shy but still certain. “Don’t stop.”

Tseng untangled his fingers from Sephiroth’s hair, dragging that hand down until it rested on the waistband of black slacks. “The bedroom is more comfortable than the kitchen,” he suggested hopefully, fingers dancing against pale skin in a silent request for permission.

The other man surged into his touch, body shuddering somewhat as he slouched against the door frame. “Where?”

He took Sephiroth’s lobe into his mouth, suckling gently before releasing it with a wet smack. “I’ll show you,” he responded as Sephiroth groaned, eyelids shuddering.

Sephiroth made a noise in his throat, something of acquiescence and Tseng carefully navigated them down the hall, glad that his apartment was small with few obstacles. His lips located Sephiroth’s once again, tongue plunging hungrily within. His soon-to-be lover moaned into the kiss and eagerly responded. One hand tugged on Sephiroth’s belt, paying no attention to the fact that he, himself, was still fully clothed.

It became a blur of motion then. Clumsy, staggering steps towards his bedroom, slowly peeling away clothes as if they were merely obstacles. Sephiroth put up no protest, his lips seeking out Tseng’s as they stumbled through the darkness, blindly navigating their way to the Turk’s bed and tumbling down on the soft surface as if it were their last refuge.

The Wutaiian couldn’t stop touching Sephiroth, running his hands over ivory-pale skin and watching the man come undone beneath him. His lips and tongue explored, tasting anything he could reach. The hollow of his throat. The middle of his belly right above a thin trail of silverish hair.

Every sound he dragged from Sephiroth’s throat, every arch of the man’s body, was a victory in Tseng’s mind. The former General responded to every brush of his fingers, every purposefully laid kiss with such honesty that Tseng was left in wonder. It was as if the man had never been touched like that before in his life, something simple and soft, meant only for pleasure.

That realization struck him like a lightning bolt, shooting straight down his spine and into his groin where it blossomed into fire. It made him hard, the hardest he had ever been in his entire life, including all of those nameless, meaningless encounters. It brought proof to the rumor that Sephiroth had no experience… that the man was a virgin after all.

‘It was entirely unfair of him’, Tseng thought to himself, his lips finding a peaked nipple and drawing it into his mouth. Sephiroth arched, his hips seeking upwards, arousal bumping against Tseng’s still clothed thigh. He was the only one of the two who still had some semblance of clothing, other than Sephiroth’s silk boxers.

It was unfair of Sephiroth to be that gracious, to trust Tseng with that much of himself. The Turk didn’t know if he was good enough to be what the former General needed, but by Orthrus, he was going to try.

His fingers traveled downwards, hooking in the waistband of Sephiroth’s boxers and tugging them. A hand clamped down on his arm and he looked up to find Sephiroth giving him a questioning gaze, mako green eyes clouded with desire as a hint of uncertainty flashed through his senses.

“Just let me,” Tseng murmured, dipping his head down to place a kiss on the man’s belly.

There was a moment of indecision before the fingers uncurled from his arm, falling back down to the comforter. Taking it as permission, Tseng tugged on the man’s boxers, Sephiroth lifting his hips to help. Casually tossing them to the side, he brushed his fingers over Sephiroth’s length, enjoying the strangled sound that caught itself in the man’s throat.

His palm enclosed around the silken heat as he slowly stroked Sephiroth, placing calming kisses on the man’s belly, muscles jumping beneath his lips. His own need was growing steadily stronger, his cock throbbing anxiously in his pants but he held off.

And then Sephiroth breathed his name, hips rocking into Tseng’s strokes. “Why are you still dressed?” Sephiroth asked, sounding half-uncertain but also determined. It was enough to break a man.

So very unfair.

The Turk groaned, his free hand fumbling for his trousers and the zipper, suddenly feeling the clumsiest he had ever been in his entire life. He momentarily released his hold on Sephiroth’s arousal, despite the man’s murmur of protest and practically threw off his clothes and boxers in one fell swoop, throwing them somewhere to the ground behind him.

He didn’t give Sephiroth any time to look or admire before he was swooping down on the man, mouth hungrily seeking Sephiroth’s. Their shafts bumped, gliding slickly together thanks to precum and Tseng groaned again, deepening the kiss. He felt as if his skin was on fire, threading his fingers through Sephiroth’s hair and directing the kiss. Arms wrapped around him, dragging him closer and setting every vein within him ablaze.

He would be lucky if he didn’t spill himself too early, he realized with a bit of surprise. He was thirty-fucking-years old and yet his libido was crashing over him like a teenager in the backseat of some vehicle.

Tseng shoved his hand between their bodies, wrapping his fingers around Sephiroth’s arousal and stroking him, rubbing a thumb over the leaking head. The former General groaned, a sound that might have been the Turk’s name, hips arching into the touch. Their bodies moved and slid together, the room filled with heavy groans and breaths dragged into lungs.

Tentatively, so damned carefully, a second hand crept down to join Tseng’s, their fingers wrapped mutually around their cocks. Tseng broke away from Sephiroth’s lips with a gasp, hungrily drawing in a breath as he buried his face in the crook of a pale neck. His own rhythm was ragged and jerky and he knew he was rapidly approaching the edge.

A gasp and a moan and Sephiroth stiffened, his hips straining upwards as he spilled over their combined hands, coating Tseng’s fingers in his seed. The Turk followed him over seconds later, his mind completely blissed out on pleasure. He dragged his mouth back to Sephiroth’s as he rode out the last tremors, their tongues lazily and sloppily sliding together.

Fingers slowly unwound as pulse rates gradually slowed, Sephiroth’s hand a welcome weight on the Turk’s back. Then there were languid kisses and a welcome, comfortable silence, sweat trickling off their bodies as semen cooled into sticky globs on their stomachs and fingers.

Feeling an unexpected wave of tiredness attack him, Tseng stirred and shifted his weight to the side, planning on sliding from the bed.

Sephiroth stirred. “Tseng?”

“I’ll be right back,” he murmured, pressing a parting kiss to the former General’s shoulder before sliding off the bed.

He padded across the room, slipping into the hallway. He quickly made his way to the kitchen, flipping off the coffeepot with his clean hand and then flipped off the light. He navigated through the dark to the bathroom, appropriating a wet cloth and cleaning his own fingers before returning to the bedroom.

Sephiroth hadn’t moved and was watching the Turk with something dangerously close to relaxation on his face. It was an expression Tseng didn’t think he’d ever seen before.

Tseng held up the washcloth as an offering.

“Thanks,” the former General responded, taking the cloth and cleaning off the evidence of their encounter.

“You can just toss it to the floor.”

The Wutaiian hunted around for his boxers, finding them against the far wall and pulled them on, hoping to stave off future temptation. He snagged Sephiroth’s boxers and handed them over to the other man as he climbed back into the bed, feeling incredibly sated and yet, wanting more all the same.

“I know it’s early,” Tseng began, a quick glance at the clock telling him it wasn’t even midnight yet.

Sephiroth waved him off, slipping into his boxers and tossing the washcloth to the ground as instructed. “It’s fine,” he assured, settling back down on the covers. “I have to be up early anyways.”

It was going to be strange, sleeping with someone for the first time. In all his encounters, Tseng had always crept from the bed immediately afterwards. There was never an intention of something lasting. But now, all he could think about was falling asleep next to Sephiroth’s warmth.

It was so strange.

And so very unfair.

“Early?” Tseng repeated questioningly, moving to lie beside the other man.

He felt it then, the subtle stiffening of Sephiroth’s body. It was enough that he didn’t reach for Sephiroth but remained on his side, staring at the slats of light on his ceiling from the street lamp outside. He was hyper aware of the body next to him, however, his every sense straining to touch and kiss, to embrace what he had wanted for so long.

Sephiroth shifted on the bed, the flash of uncertain anxiety fading with every moment that passed. “Yes. Something’s been picking off the cattle outside of Junon. Reeve asked me to take care of it.”

He dimly remembered the President mentioning something about those occurrences. At the time he had labeled them in his mind as of minor importance and them promptly forgot.

“By yourself?” he asked, wondering why he should be concerned. This wasSephiroth after all. Nearly the most indestructible man on the planet.

“Yes.”

It was subtle but he felt it, Sephiroth slowly moving closer, each gained inch filled with uncertainty and courage.

Taking a deep breath, Tseng decided to take a risk. He lifted his arm and draped it over Sephiroth’s mid-section, a mostly harmless touch. A moment of shock and then Sephiroth relaxed.

Tseng allowed himself a smile in the dark that no one could see.

“Goodnight.”

It was enough, this first time around he decided. He would have more opportunities later.

All he could think, as Sephiroth’s breath gradually evened into sleep and somewhere outside, a light rain began to fall, was that Sephiroth was definitely, most assuredly, worth the wait.

[Shattered] Children 03

Chapter Two: Poisoned Rationality

It was quiet, unnaturally so. Aeris sighed softly to herself as she stood in the doorway, watching Denzel and Marlene. It was the children’s room, but it was quiet. No sounds of play, no joyful laughter. Only a desperate hope that perhaps this time it had worked. That Reeve’s scientists were actually useful for once. But Aeris knew better than that. Even the children did. But that didn’t stop them from trying.

They should have been celebrating. They should have been happy. Instead, Denzel moped for a Sephiroth that was hardly around, battling on his own against a crippling disease that was killing people worldwide. Marlene lived in constant fear of losing her best friend to a sickness she couldn’t help cure. And Aeris worried that her delicately growing family would shatter.

In the room, Marlene shifted worriedly in her seat at Denzel’s bed as the small boy moaned in pain, rolling over. His eyes fluttered open, the bandage that was lying on his forehead slipping off to the side and revealing the blackened bruise of the Geostigma. It made Aeris’ heart leap every time she looked at it. There was nothing she could do. No materia, no herbs, none of her healing powers would work on it.

She had never felt more helpless in her entire life than when she looked at that incurable disease. Aeris wholly wished that she could speak with Hephaestion. But the part of her mind where he usually resided was markedly empty, complying as always with his Lord’s orders. He had promised to come if she called, however, but she still missed his wisdom and his calming presence.

“Did it work?” the brunet asked sleepily, one hand rubbing at his eyes to clear out the grime from having slept too long.

Marlene’s brown eyes darkened with sadness as she shook her head, tears glistening no matter how much she tried to hold them back. “Don’t worry,” she choked out, somehow managing to be brave despite it all. “I’m sure Uncle Reeve will find the cure soon.”

Aeris shifted and the floor creaked despite her attempts to remain silent. Instantly, the young boy’s eyes shot her direction, always hopeful that his adoptive father would be standing just beyond the threshold. She hated to see the disappointment clouding his gaze when he realized it was only her. She wondered if Sephiroth truly understood how much he meant to Denzel.

Denzel’s eyes fell away from her when he realized that their visitor wasn’t whom he hoped it would be. Aeris didn’t let that get to her. He cared in his own way, but she simply wasn’t the man who had saved him from the monsters and pulled him from being forced to survive in the streets. It was a bond she couldn’t replace.

“How are you feeling?” Aeris asked, plastering a light smile on her face as she stepped into the room.

“Tired,” Denzel said weakly, shifting slightly under the covers. His eyelids fluttered but he didn’t immediately drop back into sleep. “Maybe hungry.”

Hunger was always a good sign. It meant he hadn’t yet succumbed to the more worse symptoms of the disease. It meant he still had time.

“Anything in particular?” she asked, forcing herself to keep her voice pleasant. She needed to be strong for them, no matter how hard it was.

He shook his head, curling under the covers and burying himself deeper into the thick comforter. “Just food,” came the muffled response.

Marlene frowned slightly, just a twitch of her lips before she twisted to look up at Aeris, the flower girl having laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. “How about macaroni and cheese?”

“Simple enough.” Aeris brushed her palm over Marlene’s hair, smoothing it down lovingly. “I’ll go make dinner. You keep an eye on Denzel, okay?”

The little girl nodded, her eyes falling back on the bed and the boy she considered her brother. It broke Aeris’ heart to see her that upset. But she didn’t have any answers or words to comfort her. It made her feel so useless.

Biting back a sigh, Aeris turned and left the room, planning to head back downstairs. However, she didn’t get two steps towards the stairs before she heard Midori give a cry of protest. She altered her course and headed into the room on the left. She didn’t have to force the smile on her face when she saw her daughter looking up at her from where she clung to the side of the cradle, reaching with one hand.

“Hey sweetheart,” the widow murmured, reaching in to pull Midori into her arms. “Why so noisy?”

Midori gurgled happily and reached out, grasping onto a strand of Aeris’ hair and tugging gently. One eye, the same color as Cloud’s, and the other, the same shade as her own, stared back at her. Midori was also pale as her father, with hair like the sun. Aeris couldn’t help but wonder if it would darken with age.

Sometimes her daughter looked so much like her father that it hurt.

Shifting Midori’s weight to her hip, Aeris turned and took toddler with her downstairs. Her daughter was such an attention hog. If she wasn’t in sight of her mother, then she would make enough of a fuss that someone would come eventually. Aeris had gotten used to the weight of Midori at her side. She didn’t mind it too much. It kept her from feeling too lonely.

The stairs creaked as she descended but before she could even turn into the kitchen, the sound of a ringing phone distracted her. Midori gurgled, waving a fist in the direction of the device. With a sigh, Aeris shifted her path and reached for the phone sitting on a stand in the hallway.

“Hello?”

There was a slight crackle of static before Shera’s voice clearly came through. “Hey Aeris, how is it going?” she asked, sounding inexplicably energetic considering she had a toddler the same age as Midori and was already pregnant with her second child.

Aeris smiled tiredly, though the engineer couldn’t see it. “It’s going,” she answered. “Is everything all right? Nothing’s wrong with Dominic is there?”

“Oh no,” Shera assured her. “Nothing like that. I just know that you’ve been a little stressed lately and thought you might like a night off.”

“A night off?” the flower girl repeated in question, bouncing Midori a little on her hip. The little girl giggled and cooed, clutching tighter to her mother’s hair.

Shera hummed into the phone. “Want to bring the kids over for dinner? I’m making Macaroni and Cheese for them and something a bit tastier for us adults.”

A sigh of relief escaped Aeris before she could stop it. “How did you know?” she countered, glad that the daunting task of cooking followed with cleaning was not to be hers for at least one night. Elmyra and Barret would be back in a couple of days but until then, she was on her own. “You are a life saver.”

“Nothing as grand as that,” Shera responded in her light tone. “Come on over. We can make Rude watch the kids while we sit back and relax.” Aeris could just imagine the other woman winking at her conspiratorially. And the others thought that she was the mischievous one.

She smiled. “Thanks, Shera. Let me get Marlene and Denzel dressed and we’ll be over in a minute. See you then.”

“Bye!”

The phone went dead in her hands. Shaking her head, Aeris replaced it on the receiver and shifted Midori’s weight. “Ready to visit Aunt Shera?” she asked her daughter, pressing a kiss to the toddler’s forehead. She received a giggle in response. Half the time, Aeris swore that that the little girl understood more than they thought.

Her heart eased by a child’s smile, Aeris turned and headed right back up the stairs. “Marlene. Denzel,” she called as she stepped back into the room. “Get up and put on some clothes. We’re heading next door for dinner.”

Two pairs of eyes turned towards her, Denzel nodding tiredly. “Okay,” Marlene chirped.

Inwardly, Aeris felt weary as she left the two children and moved to change as well, into something more appropriate. She missed Cloud, she commented to herself. But she hadn’t the time to dwell on that now. There were children to feed and Geostigma to worry about.

She didn’t have time to be lonely.


It was too quiet, unnaturally quiet, Vincent noticed. He remembered all too well the silence of the forest and its counterparts the first time they visited in what seemed like so long ago. But this was a different sort. Almost as if anything that might have lived there had vanished in the wake of an impending storm. Even the wind had gone.

Vincent was concerned, and with great reason.

He had gone to the Northern Crater first, because that was usually where all the trouble started. But had found nothing. The glowing pool of life stream was lying there innocuously, not even bubbling. It was slightly chilly from the strong northern winds, and his keen sight had caught a few blood drops scattered here and there but they could have belonged to anything. An injured animal most likely. There was not a single sign of disturbance to explain the unsettling feelings and the pressing siren of Jenova in the back of his skull.

He had learned to block her now, adept considering all his practice with Galian Beast and the others before the Chaos war. Not to mention her words didn’t work on him. Nothing she could promise him was worth it. He had everything he needed and his vengeance was long complete. She could keep crooning in mind ear as much as she wanted, but it would fall on deaf ears.

Frowning at his lack of discovery, he moved his explorations to Bone Village and beyond, questioning the inhabitants to see if they had noticed anything out of the ordinary. They hadn’t, not that he was surprised. They rarely noticed anything beyond their continuous and useless digging. So he had headed to the Forest of the Ancients, Aeris’ former burial ground and the lost city beneath.

Amongst the trees that looked as if they were carved from ice itself, though he knew that wasn’t the case, he again found nothing. But that was more telling than before because where there had always been the steady and quiet cacophony of life, there was now dead silence. The wind barely stirred the stiff branches above him, and the unnaturalness of it all made his spine cringe.

Vincent pulled his cloak tighter against the chill, reassured himself of the Cerberus at his side which had been a gift from Cid, and headed deeper into the forest, planning to stop by the pool where Aeris had once been laid to rest. They had taken to calling it the Reflections Pool, though he wasn’t entirely sure why.

His feet crunched across the ground since he was making no efforts to move quietly. He half hoped something would attack him just to prove that everything wasn’t dead in the forest. A chill air had set in, cold and still. Unnerving.

The former Turk made it to the pool not but a few minutes later, a smile finding its way to his lips at the picturesque view the scene always presented. A large towering structure curving towards the sky, crystal-clear waters at its base. He could almost see to the far bottom, though it stretched for feet below him. But there was nothing there to indicate the reason for the unsettledness of his senses.

It was odd, though. Gazing down into the water, overcome by a sense of nostalgia, he could have sworn blue eyes were looking back at him. Not in an eerie sense but more of a… protective sense, he supposed. Or perhaps he was imagining things or simply paranoid, it wouldn’t be the first time.

There was nothing to explain a reason for the disquiet however. It was another dead end. A bit annoyed, Vincent moved to walk around the pool, heading towards the entrance of the spiral building. He would see if the pathway had opened to the beneath or not and go from there. Perhaps he would find some clues in the crystal city.

Before he moved two steps, a sound made its way to his ears. He froze on instinct and listened again. There. Behind him. Voices. They were too far for him to distinguish words but they were definitely voices, and laughter as well. His eyes narrowed into grey slits of interest.

Wrapping his cloak further around him to tone down on the swish of fabric and make himself look smaller, Vincent crept in the direction of the voices. This time, he had made sure to keep his steps silent, Turk silent as he had been trained more than forty years ago. He eased his way through the trees, on high alert so that he wouldn’t be caught guard, and drew closer to the source of the voices.

It wasn’t long before he found them and his jaw nearly dropped in surprise. He looked around for somewhere to hide and observe quietly, finally deciding to leap up into one of the larger trees and hide among the thick and empty branches. From there, it was easy to see into the clearing completely ringed by trees and bushes.

He counted five people, only two of whom he recognized. Both Zack and Elena were there looking very worse for wear with only the woman clinging to consciousness. Zack was out for the count, his head hanging between shoulders strung up very uncomfortably. But he wasn’t dead, that much Vincent could see from the ragged rise and fall of his chest.

Standing over them were three men who could have been Sephiroth’s brothers. Or at least, Vincent thought they were all men. The one in the middle looked as if he could be a woman with all that long hair and curves. Every single one of them was covered in black leather of varying designs and their silver hair was a perfect compliment to their outfit. From the distance, he couldn’t make out the color of their eyes but he had the feeling that if he could, he would find them mako green.

What the hell was going on? And why were Zack and Elena there, bloody and covered in wounds?

He reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone, glancing over it. Full service and battery. Vincent planned on calling Reeve as soon as possible and letting him know what was going on. The President probably didn’t know his employees were out here getting their asses kicked by Sephiroth look-a-likes.

A cry of pain attracted his attention and he looked back down. Elena was coughing as she spat out blood but somehow managed a glare of anger at the three men, one of whom was crouching down to look her in the eye. This one seemed younger than the rest, at his side a strange sword that Vincent had never seen before. He couldn’t tell what the other two wielded but they looked to be two of the same, another weapon he couldn’t identify.

“Tell us where she is,” the younger of the three demanded, his voice deceptively light though it was tinged with anger.

Elena spat in his face. Vincent felt a surge of pride. That was the pride of the Turks right there. No amount of torture could ever make them reveal anything. He might have hated it at one time, being a Turk, but the lure of being feared, of being better than anything you might come across had always been something that pulled him right back in.

“Leave it alone, brother. She’s not going to speak,” said the long-haired one in a bored tone. He flicked hair over his shoulders and turned away, heading towards a pile of weapons that Vincent belatedly recognized as belonging to Zack and Elena.

He kicked aside Zack’s sword, revealing a small leather pack likely belonging to the former SOLDIER and started rifling through it. “There’s nothing here, either. Not even a materia or two. They are useless.”

“Not entirely,” laughed the largest of the three with a hairstyle that made Vincent cringe. “We could play with them some more.”

The ex-Turk had the feeling that his definition of play was probably what got Zack and Elena in their current predicament.

“Che,” the younger male said, rising to his feet with a disgusted sniff. “They weren’t even worth a few hours of entertainment. But it wasn’t entirely useless.” He held up his fingers, something pinched between two of them. They looked like cards but from a distance, Vincent couldn’t figure out what.

The largest of the men nudged Zack with his boot, the dark-haired man not making a single sound though Elena growled angrily. “Leave him alone,” she rasped, managing a glare despite the blood dripping down her face and the one eye puffing up. “You’ve tortured him enough.”

Zack’s tormentor laughed at her.

Vincent felt just a little sick on his stomach. There wasn’t anything he could do at the moment. He had the feeling that one shot wouldn’t take these bastards out and if they were even half as strong as Sephiroth, he couldn’t take on all three at once. He had plans to rescue Zack and Elena as soon as possible, but he needed to come up with something better than leaping in, guns blazing.

Though he hated to do so, he turned and crept away, slithering silently down the tree and slinking into the forest away from the scene. His hand was on his phone the whole time, already scrolling through the numbers for Reeve’s that Cid had plugged in for him a long time ago. Once he felt he was a safe distance away that those boys couldn’t hear him, he doubted they were even aware of anything other than their little torture session at the moment, he pushed the button for the call to go through.

It only rang twice before Reeve picked it up. “Tuesti here.”

“Reeve,” Vincent began quietly, his eyes on constant alert. “I’ve found something that I think you should know about. You wouldn’t happen to be missing any employees?”

There was the sound of startlement from the other end as Reeve likely knocked over his coffee cup onto the floor. “Zack and Elena?” he responded hurriedly. “Where are you, Vincent?”

The ex-Turk sighed. “Around the Reflections Pool. I don’t know what the hell’s going on but they are in the hands of three men who look a lot like Sephiroth.”

“Damn,” Reeve cursed, sounding very worn. He exhaled sharply. “Then Sion wasn’t mistaken. This does not bode well. What about Zack and Elena?”

“Alive,” Vincent responded curtly. “For the moment anyways. It looks like they’ve been tortured for information but they haven’t given anything away. I can’t say for how much longer though.”

There was the sound of papers shuffling. “They were after Jenova.”

Grey eyes widened. “What do you mean? Jenova’s gone.”

“Not entirely,” Reeve corrected, his tone very weary. “There is still a piece of her alive. And it’s enough, it seems.”

Vincent felt a headache beginning to pulse at his temples. He rubbed his forehead and surreptitiously glanced around, ears straining for any sign of having been discovered before continuing. “Remnants of Hojo’s experiments most likely then. Have you looked in any of the remaining documents?”

“We’ve tried. But Hojo wasn’t exactly a coherent or sane man. His records are incomplete and a lot of it was destroyed in Midgar. I have both Sion and Misaki working on the ones at Junon but still, we’ve found nothing.”

Hojo was screwing them over from the grave. It figured that bastard would find a way to not be forgotten. If it wasn’t the monsters that were still breeding endlessly, spewing out all kinds of horrific combinations, then it was remnants of human-Jenova research come back to haunt them. Vincent couldn’t help but wonder what ills these three boys had suffered at Hojo’s hands, if it were anything like what Sephiroth had been forced to endure.

“Vincent?”

He didn’t even realize he had fallen silent.

The ex-Turk gritted his teeth on a wave of anger and sighed again. “Keep looking,” he finally responded, one hand already moving to check his materia supply. “I’ll keep a watch on them from here and at my first chance, I’ll rescue Zack and Elena. That’s all I can do at the present moment. Don’t send anyone else in. This requires stealth.”

“Understood.” There was a pause as Reeve considered something before he added, “What do you think of them, Vincent? Are they sane or…?”

“Jenova-influenced?” Vincent finished for him, recognizing the unvoiced question. “I don’t know at this point. I will call you again when I find out more. Reeve, be careful.”

Once off the phone, he had plans to return to his perch and continue his surveillance. He would have his chance eventually. He was certain these men weren’t planning on remaining in the forest, torturing their captives for long. He only wished he knew what their plans were or where they were headed next.

Reeve made a sound of agreement through the phone. “You, too,” he responded before Vincent clicked off his cell phone and then promptly shoved it into silence mode. The last thing he needed was for someone to call him and give away his position.

Back in Junon, Reeve replaced the phone on its cradle and groaned, rubbing his aching head with two fingers. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately. He was relieved that Zack and Elena were alive but the news of the three men who resembled Sephiroth was not good. His hope had been thin at best, that Sion was mistaken, but now it had completely shattered.

He had the awful feeling that everything had only just begun.

Amber eyes flickered to the container sitting on the edge of his desk, looking deceptively innocuous considering he knew what it contained. The last remnants of Jenova. The very thing that the three men were looking for. He had been treating it like a controlled substance. No one was allowed to so much as see it without his approval.

He knew that the possibility for finding a cure for the Geostigma was better now that they had a piece of Jenova. He was only allowing certain of his scientists that he trusted, such as Shalua Rui, to take tiny samples for study. But no experiments. He refused to allow it. Reeve didn’t believe that he had employed anyone with Hojo like tendencies but he wasn’t going to take the chance.

Reeve frowned and sat back in his chair wondering what he was supposed to do now. He contemplated calling Tseng but the man was busy in Wutai. And Archer was inexplicably missing, as he had been recently. Reeve hadn’t bothered questioning his close friend about it because whatever he was doing was making him happy, or had been at least. That air of broodiness Archer had been attempting had all but disappeared, until recently anyways.

He didn’t know what put that smile on Archer’s face. He suspected that the other man had finally met someone but since Archer hadn’t gone around bragging or anything similar, Reeve had assumed he wanted to keep his new love a secret. There was no harm in that. He thought that maybe something must have gone sour since Archer was disappearing more and more lately and he was slowly starting to return to sadness. An aura of pinched worry was taking over his eyes.

In any case, Reeve knew that he couldn’t keep the current situation under wraps for long. He didn’t know when or how those look-a-like’s would make their move. He needed to be prepared for anything.

Which meant he had to call Sephiroth. He wondered if the man’s recent disappearances were linked to Jenova’s return. Zack had no idea what was going on either, nor did Tseng. No one knew. Reeve wasn’t worried that Sephiroth was turning on them, but he wished that the former General would come to them for help. They were all his friends but Reeve wasn’t certain that the other man realized that.

Reeve reached for the phone and dialed it quickly, holding it up to his ear and praying Sephiroth actually answered it. After about ten rings, he received the standard voicemail message and promptly hung up, choosing not to leave one. This wasn’t the type of thing he wanted to explain in a simple voicemail. It was best if Sephiroth heard it from Reeve himself.

With a sigh, Reeve returned the phone to the hook and contemplated his next move.


He felt the phone buzzing in his pocket, but as usual, Sephiroth ignored the device in favor of concentrating on his current fight. The monster was particularly dangerous, and he didn’t want any unnecessary injuries. It was another one of Hojo’s creations, a beast that resembled the demi-deity Doomtrain that he had fought during the Chaos War. Fortunately, it didn’t have the ability to copy itself but it was capable of producing an acid-like poison which it enjoyed spitting out at him.

His coat had already suffered a loss from when it had first attacked, catching him off guard.

The beast roared and Sephiroth leapt back, deftly avoiding another spit of acid. It sizzled the grass at his feet, charring it black. Twisting to avoid the spiny tail swinging his direction, Sephiroth blocked the attack with his sword, a gift from Tseng on his recent birthday. The metal screeched against the bone of the spine as Sephiroth added more strength and calmly sliced through it.

With a growl of anger, the monster retracted its bleeding appendage and crouched to pounce. Sephiroth waited calmly, sword lowered as he waited for it to attack. That was one thing about Hojo’s creations. They were indeed stronger, but also degrees stupider. It was pathetically easy to lure them into range.

The monster bared its fangs, poison dripping to the grassy earth, and promptly pounced, long claws digging into the hard-packed soil. Sephiroth stood his ground, green eyes impassive. It took only a quick flick of his wrist to decapitate the beast, the body falling to the ground in front of him and the head flying off to the side in the opposite direction. One down, only hundreds others out there, hiding somewhere. It was a never-ending battle at times.

With a sigh, Sephiroth wiped the blood off on the grass and sheathed his sword, ignoring the dark black mist that rose as the monster dissolved into nothing, as if it had never been there at all. He stepped quickly across the plains outside of the destroyed town of Midgar and headed for his bike, which he had hidden in a dip of the field.

His hand dove into his pocket, pulling out the slim phone that was never out of reach, and rarely answered. Four missed calls and two messages. No surprise there. He scrolled quickly through the calls. Zack. Aeris. Tseng. Reeve. Again, that wasn’t any different than usual.

Climbing aboard Odin, affectionately named for his former anima whom he hadn’t seen or spoke to since the Chaos War, he dialed the number for his voice mail service and stowed his sword, the Murasame, in its compartment. The first message played.

“Yo, Seph. Where’ve ya been?”

In seconds, he knew it was Zack. The message continued.

“Look, I know you aren’t gonna come home until you feel like it. I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be on a mission for Reeve and I don’t know how long it will take. If you do come home, don’t stay here. Go bunk with Tseng or something, you know what I mean. Catch you later.” It ended but not before Zack laughed in his usual way.

Sephiroth shook his head. He didn’t think his best friend would ever change. Despite the humor, though, Zack sounded worried. For him. It only increased the guilt that settled heavily on his heart. But he couldn’t just return like that. It wasn’t that simple.

The phone beeped before proceeding with the next, and the moment the voice poured out of the speaker, Sephiroth’s heart picked up a beat completely on its own accord.

“Sephiroth,” Tseng started, sounding somewhat hesitant. “I wanted to apologize for what I said last time. You are right. I did not mean to be so pushy and I will refrain from doing so in the future… if you’ll still have me.” There was a pause before he continued, carefully choosing his words. “I’ve waited six years for this, I’m certain another ten or twenty would not kill me. Just… think about it?”

The message ended with a click and Sephiroth pushed the button, ending the call and returning it to his pocket. He contemplated Tseng’s words, the incident the Wutaiian had been referring to fresh on his mind. He had known that starting a relationship wouldn’t be easy, but he hadn’t expected it to be that difficult either.

Tseng’s lips were on his neck, softly licking the pale skin over a mark that was already beginning to redden. Sephiroth gasped, his fingers tightening in their grip on the other man’s shoulder as trills of pleasure sped through his body. He could feel the smooth slide of Tseng’s skin over his, their bodies moving together in an age-old rhythm upon the bed.

The room was bathed in a dim light from the bedside lamp, casting a warm ocher glow on their flesh. Sephiroth barely paid that any attention, however, his interest completely gathered by the lips on his skin and the hands caressing his body. After more than a year of dating, he and Tseng were finally attempting intimacy.

Sephiroth was doing his utmost best to keep the memories, the nightmares at bay, but they were knocking at the inside of his skull, trying to rise to the surface with their vile poison. He didn’t want to think about the past but he felt so vulnerable, lying on his back with another man between his legs, their naked cocks brushing one against the other.

The Turk’s touches were gentle, caressing, far different than the ones he unfortunately remembered but he couldn’t seem to tell his mind that. It wanted to equate them to the nightmares, to the cold fingers that filled him with nausea and self-disgust.

Tseng’s mouth kissed up his neck, returning to Sephiroth’s lips and he greedily returned the kiss, entangling their tongues together. One of the Wutaiian’s hands cupped his hip, sliding along the curve of his ass to gently grasp his thigh and Tseng positioned himself. Sephiroth felt the head of the man’s penis nudge at his entrance.

He wanted it and had wanted it for the past year and it had only been that ever present fear that had kept them playing it careful.

But not anymore, not this time.

As if waiting for Sephiroth’s permission, Tseng nipped at the former General’s mouth and then gradually began to push forward, pressing into Sephiroth. Pale fingers tightened and a great sense of loathing rose up so swiftly that Sephiroth couldn’t clamp it down fast enough for it to escape Tseng’s senses. He only hoped that in the lust of the moment, the other man had missed it.

So beautiful… This power that is mine. Words that he didn’t want to hear skittered across the back of his memories. He gave a minute shudder of revulsion at the reminder.

Tseng abruptly stopped, his lips leaving Sephiroth’s mouth as he drew back and looked at the former General. “What was that?” he asked, voice thick with desire and concern.

The other man’s body trembled on the cusp of both disgust and need, entirely on edge. He looked up, furrowing his brow and pretending confusion. “What are you talking about?”

Tseng shook his head and put a little more space between them. “You’re not ready for this,” he responded after a moment as if listening to a small voice in the back of his head.

Embarrassed, Sephiroth chose to get angry, narrowing his eyes. “Excuse me?” he demanded in annoyance.

A hand cupped the former General’s cheek as Tseng searched his face, hovering over him. “What’s wrong?” he asked, trying not to be argumentative. “And don’t say nothing because I know better than that.”

If you know so much then why bother asking?” Sephiroth muttered, growing defensive. He turned his head away, not wanting the sympathy.

Silver eyes searched his as Tseng took a deep breath. “Sephiroth…”

Don’t,” Sephiroth inserted, cutting him off quickly. “Just don’t.” He moved to sit up, dislodging the other man’s hand from his cheek.

All I’m asking is that you talk to me,” Tseng pressed, backing off a little to give Sephiroth some space since he was suddenly emitting “get back” and fearful vibes in all directions. Tseng’s senses were nearly swimming in all the feedback he was getting.

And I want you to stop asking,” the former General very nearly snapped, feeling incredibly vulnerable given that he was both nude and losing his arousal. Not to mention the fact that Tseng was still perched between his legs. He wanted to grab a blanket and toss it over himself but didn’t want to show his unease either.

Tseng pursed his lips, trying not to allow himself to get angry. “I ask because I care Sephiroth.”

And you?”

The Wutaiian blinked, a bit confused. “What do you mean?” he questioned, frowning.

What about your secrets?” the other man demanded, going on the offensive if only to hide the lingering memories pressing in the back of his brain. Tseng was silent in his surprise, prompting Sephiroth to continue. “You don’t want to tell them anymore than I do.”

Somewhat stunned, Tseng shook his head. “No, it’s…” Words failed him however, and he trailed off, searching for the right thing to say.

Without waiting for a response, Sephiroth shifted on the bed, having it in his mind to move or get away or something. Before he even managed a foot, Tseng grabbed him and pinned him back down to the mattress. The Turk hovered over him, worry darkening his expression. That and something else. An emotion that Sephiroth couldn’t identify.

You didn’t even give me a chance to say anything,” Tseng hissed despite himself, silver eyes gleaming. “I cannot just blurt out my life.”

The former General glared but Tseng had long stopped being afraid of that stare. He pursed his lips. “You never even asked,” he gritted out.

Sephiroth remained defensive, however, turning his head to the side and staring with determination at the wall. Tseng could feel the emotions emanating off of him in waves, and in the back of Sephiroth’s mind, a dark mass of something seethed and pulsed. It was something that Tseng had never prodded at, sensing that the truth behind it would be something he would be hard pressed to recover from.

I was only five when I was exiled from my homeland,” Tseng finally began slowly as he lowered his gaze, clearly recalling a somber memory. He swallowed thickly, fingers tightening briefly on Sephiroth’s arm before gently releasing him. “And by the time I was eleven, I was an orphan. ShinRa picked me up not long after. I guess I am a lot like Reno in that regards.” He chuckled mirthlessly, his tone heavy with grief.

It was a grief that Sephiroth didn’t know how to heal, a memory from Tseng’s past that he didn’t know how to make lighter.

The Wutaiian opened his mouth to speak again but Sephiroth cut him. “Tseng,” he started, his glare fading. “I did not mean to force you into saying it. Especially since I hadn’t asked.”

He didn’t want to hear anymore. Not if he didn’t know what to say in return. He didn’t know how to offer sympathy. He simply didn’t know.

Tseng sighed and sat back, giving Sephiroth the room he needed to sit up and throw his legs on the side of the bed. It was effective enough to turn his back on Tseng. “I want to help,” the Turk said softly. “But I can’t if I don’t know what’s wrong.”

A moment of silence filled the room, heavy and palpable. Sephiroth rose to his feet, reaching for his clothes. “There’s nothing to help,” he murmured, pulling on his pants and zipping them carefully.

That is a lie and you know it.”

He had nothing to say to that.

Tseng began to grow impatient. “Look. I don’t ask you the things I should because I keep thinking you’ll eventually tell me.”

The things you should?” Sephiroth repeated curiously despite himself as he pulled on his shirt and searched around for his belt, unable to remember where it had been tossed.

The Turk lowered his tone. “Yes. I do not ask you why sometimes you look as if you’d rather vomit than kiss me. I don’t ask why you fear even getting close. And despite the fact that I can, I have never looked for myself because I want you to trust me enough to tell me.”

At his words, Sephiroth stiffened slightly, hating that Tseng had noticed these things about him. He thought he had been hiding it well.

Tseng sighed. “But I suppose after only a year, a little trust is too much to ask for.”

Perhaps it is,” Sephiroth answered, pulling open the door to Tseng’s bedroom and promptly stepping beyond it. He knew he was being stupid but he didn’t know how else to respond.

Minutes later, the last sound to fill the silent apartment was the front door closing behind Sephiroth.

He had not spoken to Tseng since that night and Tseng hadn’t come after him when he left. It was only one more reason he didn’t deserve to have someone care for him like that.

With a sigh, Sephiroth pulled out his goggles and placed them over his eyes, a gift from Aeris at the same time Zack had given him the bike. He reached for the ignition and his bike rumbled to life. He struck the kickstand with a boot and gunned the engine, taking off across the field with a perfect roar. He had already selected his destination and turned Odin into a sharp circle to head off on the right track.

He had known he was being a coward when it came to Tseng. But there were things he simply couldn’t tell his lover. There were truths he didn’t want anyone to know, some that he even refrained from telling Zack. He just couldn’t bring himself to let Tseng know all the reasons he was afraid for the man to touch him.

Like the fact that Tseng resembled his molesting bastard of a father in certain lights. Or what exactly Hojo had done to him, all the things he had suffered at that man’s hands. It made him feel unclean and sordid. Nor did he want Tseng’s pity for it either. He just wanted to forget it, but his mind wouldn’t let him. He couldn’t seem to get away from the past.

There were far too many things on his mind on the moment, worries that kept him far from home as often as possible. As well as guilts.

There were times when he worried that the only reason he was attracted to Tseng was because he resembled Hojo. What if he was sick like that? Only wanting something because it was what he was used to. Tseng wasn’t a perfect match for Hojo but with his dark hair and greyish eyes, at a glance he was all too much of a reminder.

He wondered if there was a part of them that was just as sick as his father, just as twisted. It was why he didn’t allow himself to be alone with Denzel. Hojo’s treatment of him was all that he ever knew. What if it had infected him in some way, making him want unnatural things? He refused to take that chance.

Sephiroth knew that Denzel didn’t understand why his adoptive father wasn’t around. But he wasn’t going to make any mistakes. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, even if it meant being alone for the rest of his life. Denzel would be better off without him. It was likely Tseng would, too. He wasn’t going to tell the Turk any of the past that he had finally remembered.

If he had his way, no one would ever find out any of it. He didn’t want to face the pity or the comfort. He didn’t want anyone to look at him differently. He would rather lose Tseng by being a bastard then have the man leave him because of a past he couldn’t forget. It was easier to face that way.

Sephiroth eased Odin to a halt, the engine rumbling as he kicked out the stand and shut it down for a moment, making his final stop for the day. He was at a high bluff that overlooked the ruins of Midgar and it was the place he came to often. From there, he could see all the way to the shore of the ocean, and even the edges of Kalm, but most importantly, he a perfect view of a city he had failed to protect. And a place where the man who had once loved him died.

Aeris’ husband, Midori’s father, Zack’s other best friend… Cloud had trusted him and Sephiroth had paid him for that trust by failing him. Miserably. Sephiroth returned to this place to remind himself of that fact. Cloud’s memorial was outside of Fort Condor, but Sephiroth had created one for him here as well. It was the least he could do since he wasn’t strong enough to save anything.

All he was worth in the final battle was drowning in his memories. It made him ill just to remember his ineptitude.

A sudden buzzing in his pocket distracted him. He climbed off the bike and stood before the monument, nothing more than the Buster sword thrust into the hard-packed soil. It was starting to rust since it had been left out in the weather, but it was still suitable. Sephiroth glanced at the display, finding that the name ‘Vincent Valentine’ was being displayed.

He waited for it to quit ringing as he always did when someone called him. When the phone fell silent and no message was left, he shrugged and tucked it back into his pocket. It must not have been that important.

Sephiroth sighed and returned his gaze to the fallen city of Midgar. Some buildings on the far edge had survived through the explosion, but they were slowly sinking inwards, forever falling into the crater caused by the destruction of several demi-deities. All of the inhabitants of the once-glorious city had fled, either towards Kalm or to rebuild in a new city named Edge between Kalm and Midgar.

Some were even going so far as to call the abandoned Midgar the “cursed city”. Considering all that happened, he didn’t blame them one bit.

Sephiroth’s fingers ghosted over the hilt of the Buster sword before he turned on his heels and headed back towards his bike. Climbing aboard the cycle, he turned in the vague direction of Fort Condor where he planned to stop briefly before continuing to Junon. He supposed it was about time he made an appearance at his home.

It was the least he owed them.

[Shattered] Dreams 68

Chapter Sixty-Eight : Frankly, My Dear

Finding Tseng was easier said than done, Sephiroth discovered with some annoyance. He knew very little of the Wutaiian’s habits so he didn’t go straight to the roof as he would to find Zack, and was forced to simply wander around the whole of Fort Condor. He asked a few people as he passed, but no one seemed to know where the Turk was. Nor could Sephiroth find either Rude or Elena, both of whom he could assume would know their commander’s location.

He had already searched the kitchens, the sleeping quarters, the meeting room and all of the upper levels, leaving him with very few options left. Neme had told him of the mostly abandoned lower levels and with some irritation, Sephiroth had reluctantly chosen that as his next destination. Either that, or he would have to admit that Tseng had simply disappeared off of the face of Gaia. Which was even more unlikely.

He had passed Archer and Nanaki about twenty minutes ago, but neither man had been any help either. They were heading towards the kitchens but promised to let him know if they saw Tseng. He didn’t suspect that they would. For some reason, Tseng was hiding and doing a damn fine job of it. Why, Sephiroth couldn’t be sure. By all accounts, Sephiroth was the one who had the right to hide considering what had happened. Only, he didn’t have that luxury.

With an aggravated sigh, Sephiroth pushed open the door to subbasement B and stepped into the long hall. Luckily, despite the fact they weren’t being used, they kept the main lights on. Not that he feared the dark and the mako certainly helped him see better than most people. But he didn’t fancy stumbling around in shadows searching for a missing Turk. It was akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack.

He peered into every empty doorway as he passed, flickering on lights and calling out for Tseng. He felt the fool each time he was meant with silence as well. It wasn’t until he came out of the fifth empty room that he found himself approaching two very devious looking woman. He wondered what in the hell they were doing on the deserted lower levels as he passed a few rooms to greet them in the middle of the hall.

“Sephiroth,” Shera greeted warmly, flashing him one of her kind smiles. She was the type of woman that he had hoped his mother would be like. “You’re looking well.”

Inwardly, Sephiroth winced. Yes, he probably looked much better than the last time anyone had seen him, half out of his mind and saying insane things. He knew that she hadn’t meant it the way it sounded, but it was like a stab to his pride nonetheless. He brushed a hand through his hair, feeling suddenly as if he was in disarray.

“Yes, I’m feeling much better,” he responded with a neutral nod before his eyes flickered to Elena. As one of those present at the meeting, he wondered what she thought of him now. Yet, he could discern nothing in her gaze except perhaps curiosity. Lingering signs of hatred and disgust, if there were any, were carefully hidden. Either Tseng had taught her well or they were never there to begin with. Sephiroth wasn’t about to conjecture.

“Is Zack doing any better?” Elena queried, her voice entirely neutral. Sephiroth couldn’t discern anything from her tone.

The former General sighed, his emotions deflating at the reminder. “No change,” he responded quietly, his gaze falling to the floor. “The doctors are doing the best they can but… they don’t know what’s wrong so they cannot fix it.” He needed no reminder as to who the blame should fall on. Yet, another something he was certain wasn’t intended but had the effect nonetheless.

Shera nodded sympathetically, one hand patting her belly comfortingly. “It is a terrible event,” she commented, brown eyes compassionate.

“I’ll have to go see him then,” Elena inserted, hastily changing the subject when the tension between them grew noticeable. It was obvious Sephiroth was still bothered by what had happened. “We are looking for Rude, have you seen him?”

Sephiroth shook his head, raising his gaze as he struggled to regain control of his emotions. “Sorry, no. I have been trying to find Tseng. You wouldn’t perhaps know where he is?”

Elena huffed, placing both hands on her hips as Shera giggled quietly beside her. “No. He’s been unsurprisingly invisible since the meeting.” She shook her head as her voice grew, clearly irritated. “That man is the best at disappearing. I know he’s hiding.”

Sephiroth’s brow furrowed. “Hiding?” he repeated, intrigued by her deduction since it was so similar to his own. “What from?”

Both women exchanged glances at his question, sharing a conspiratorial grin that made Sephiroth feel as if he was missing part of the conversation. He regarded the two curiously as they seemed to have a completely silent conversation and waited for them to speak. Suddenly, a prickle raced up his spine, seconds before a heavy weight draped across his back, putting his entire body on alert.

The scent of something spicy and mysterious wafted to his senses, a scent he recognized, as a chin settled on his shoulder. Before he could react, an arm curved around his waist, pulling him backwards against someone’s body. A muffled sound of protest escaped Sephiroth’s lips but it was interrupted by a voice.

“You’ve been looking for me?” a voice purred, sounding suspiciously like Tseng.

Sephiroth froze as the heat of the body behind him permeated through his clothes, almost as if by magic. The scent of some alcohol joined the strange spice, and every nerve in his body turned vigilant. He could feel breath ghosting across his throat as the head on his shoulder turned towards his own and the hand at his waist teased at a strip of bare flesh between his shirt and pants. Tseng’s other arm slipped around him, over his shoulder to drape across his chest and pull him tightly against the Turk’s front.

“T-Tseng?” he stuttered, barely managing to keep his voice above an embarrassing squeak. He felt like a teenager all over again for Kami’s sake. In front of him, both Elena and Shera were gaping in surprise, their eyes wide with a mixture of shock and amusement.

“Umm-hmm,” Tseng murmured teasingly, sounding not the least bit like his normal self. “You guessed right.”

Light brown eyes blinked. “Boss, have you been drinking?” Elena asked in a curious tone, a hint of something behind her words.

“Just a little,” he responded, turning his face towards Sephiroth and rubbing his nose against the slightly paler flesh of the former General’s throat. “You smell good,” he added, speaking directly to his captive. Sephiroth could feel the tickle of Tseng’s hair against the side of his neck and he unconsciously shivered. Why, oh why, wasn’t he trying to get away?

“Um, thanks,” Sephiroth responded tentatively, uncertain of what to do in such a situation. He inwardly cursed his lack of knowledge and his self-imposed celibacy that made every touch feel like electricity racing down his spine. And that damn hand wouldn’t stop caressing his stomach, making his skin tingle. Was he supposed to encourage Tseng or push him away, he wondered, all the while wishing that Zack were there to help him. He felt completely out of his league, trying to balance on a beam of ice while juggling balls of fire.

Elena sighed and placed a hand to her forehead. “Tseng,” she groaned. “I thought you were over this,” she continued as she shook her head before shifting her eyes to Sephiroth, suddenly seeming very devilish. “We’ll go get him some coffee and sober him up. Can you take him into a room so that he doesn’t hurt himself?” she requested.

Sephiroth felt his face flush before he could stop it. “I… what?”

Shera smiled however and simply patted him on the shoulder before gesturing to the room just behind him. It was the one he suspected Tseng had emerged from. “Don’t worry. I’ve heard he’s a pleasant drunk at least. We’ll be back quickly.”

“But I…” Sephiroth trailed off as Tseng rubbed against his back, a self-conscious flush spreading across his cheekbones in a very embarrassing manner. His normally pale flesh began to take on a scarlet tinge.

“I promise,” Elena assured him with a grin that did not seem the least bit heartening. “We’ll be back before you can miss us.” With her hands on Shera’s shoulders, she skillfully steered the pregnant woman down the hall, leaving Sephiroth alone with Tseng. Suddenly, he was at a complete loss as to what he was supposed to do.

A tongue snaked out and licked around the curve of his ear. “I thought they would never leave,” Tseng murmured, tracing the wet appendage around the shell.

The former General jumped in shock and skillfully eased out of Tseng’s hold. As pleasurable as that felt, he didn’t believe now was the time. “I think that you’re just a little bit drunk, Tseng,” Sephiroth stated, raising a slightly shaky hand to his head and brushing some hair out of his face.

“You’re just saying that because Elena said it,” Tseng responded, his voice dangerously close to pouting as he brushed down his white shirt, which had been untucked from his pants. Sephiroth hadn’t been able to see before but he noticed it now. Tseng was dressed down, his pants hanging loosely from his hips and the top three buttons of his shirt undone, displaying a tanned collarbone. The former General’s eyes seemed inexplicably drawn to that exposed flesh and he had to force himself to tear his gaze away.

Sephiroth sighed as his eyes flickered to the open doorway. “Maybe you should sit down,” he suggested, gesturing towards the door. He was truly at a loss for options. “We’ll wait on them to bring the coffee. I must ask you a question anyways.”

“Oh?” Tseng raised a brow, sounding mildly interested. “What kind of question?”

He was leering, the damned Turk was practically leering at him, Sephiroth was sure of it. He never thought he would ever see such an expression on the usually stoic man’s face. Then and there, Sephiroth made a vow to never drink so much himself. He had no urge to become so intoxicated that he no longer behaved rationally.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped forward and grabbed Tseng’s arm, directing him into the room. “I’ll wait until you’re sober,” Sephiroth said as he flicked on the light, wondering why in the hell Tseng was drinking in the dark.

Tseng followed him inside as Sephiroth’s eyes swept around the room, taking in the rumpled bed and the table with an almost empty bottle of some unidentified alcohol perched on it. Tseng’s jacket was draped across the back of a chair. It truly looked as if he was hiding from something… or someone. Sephiroth frowned as he stepped towards the table, intent on examining the bottle to see what Tseng had been drinking.

“I’m not that drunk,” the Wutaiian mumbled petulantly from behind him. His booted footsteps echoed on the floor as he stepped further into the room. Sephiroth was hyper aware of Tseng’s presence, still able to feel the Turk’s breath lingering on his skin.

Sephiroth’s fingers wrapped around the bottle and he drew it closer, his eyes scanning the label. Vodka… and pretty strong stuff too, by the look of it. It wasn’t that he really knew much about it. Again, Zack was more of an expert. He frowned in thought, wondering just how much of it Tseng had consumed and why.

Arms slid around him again while he was contemplating as Tseng pressed himself against Sephiroth’s back. “We’re finally alone,” the Turk practically purred, his hands busying themselves by running all over Sephiroth’s muscled abdomen.

Sephiroth swallowed thickly, a shiver spreading through his body. He turned around in Tseng’s hold, feeling his ass pressed up against the table behind him. He had nowhere to go and reluctant to actually harm Tseng, he relented. Besides, there was a part of him that wanted it. The tingles racing across his skin and the definite arousal were all the proof that he needed. His heart beat rapidly in his chest as he broke out into a fine sweat.

“Alone?” he repeated, brain going into overdrive.

Tseng hummed appreciatively as his hands settled on Sephiroth’s hips. His silver eyes appeared to glow in the room as he leaned forward, nearly sharing the same breath as Sephiroth. “You know,” he began, breath ghosting across Sephiroth’s lips and causing the former General to unconsciously lick them. “You have really pretty eyes.”

With that, Tseng closed the few millimeters of space between them and kissed Sephiroth, pressing their lips together. Sephiroth let out a muffled sound of surprise, but didn’t push the man away. He relented to the feel of the soft lips against his and Tseng’s tongue teased along the seam of his lips, encouraging him to open his mouth.

The Turk stepped forward, positioning himself between Sephiroth’s legs and moving his hands until they were braced on the table on either side of the former General. Pushing closer, he let their lips slide together, wondering if this was perhaps the first time Sephiroth had ever kissed anyone. The moment Sephiroth parted his lips, Tseng’s tongue slipped inside and gently coaxed Sephiroth’s tongue to join him in the kiss.

Sephiroth’s mind completely shut down, one hand landing on Tseng’s hip and squeezing as if he needed something to hold onto. The other dangled limply and uselessly at his side, unsure of what he should do with it. A moan slipped from his lips, to be absorbed by Tseng’s kiss before he could stop it. Tseng’s tongue slid along his, caressing and consuming his thoughts with the taste of pure vodka.

One of the Turk’s hands left the table, moving to slide around Sephiroth. It laid first on his back and then slid down until it rest on the curve, just above the swell of his ass. He pressed forward, nearly molding their bodies together. The rigid line of his arousal pressed onto the inside of Sephiroth’s thigh, causing the General to freeze, his eyes popping open in surprise. Until Tseng’s tongue swallowed him, continuing to kiss him, slowly but not without an element of need, a slight hint of desperate passion.

A groan escaped his lips before he could stop it, muffled by Tseng’s mouth but present nonetheless as his heart beat a rapid rhythm in his chest. How often, when he was the man before Nibelheim, had he wondered about this? How often had he found himself daring to dream of better things than nightmares, things that involved lips and tongue and especially with the man presently before him?

It seemed very much like a dream and Sephiroth feared that it was. Because men like him weren’t supposed to celebrate the success of imaginings. He wondered when lightning was going to strike, or the world to shake, anything that would put a stop to him receiving what he had always wanted. Tseng’s mouth was soft and warm, sending every nerve in his body on edge. His thoughts seemed to be limited to one word, ‘more’, yet, on the periphery of his senses, rationality lingered.

Not only was Tseng just a bit drunk, but there was a war going on just beyond those four walls. And that was when Sephiroth realized this was his terrible event, that something such as this would happen when it couldn’t. Because there was a war, people were dying, and Zack! How could he forget about his best friend lying in an undetermined coma just several floors above him! He didn’t deserve such rewards.

With much reluctance, Sephiroth raised his hands to Tseng’s shoulders and gently gave him a push, to put some distance between them. He panted softly, as silver eyes raised to his. “We can’t do this,” the former General whispered, wishing he didn’t feel so much like a virginal schoolgirl even if it was half-true.

The Turk blinked at him as he allowed a few inches of space between them, backing up but not truly far enough to put Sephiroth’s spiraling thoughts back on balance. “Why not?”

“Because you’re drunk,” Sephiroth explained as he lowered his eyes, feeling as if he were being drawn in by Tseng’s silver orbs. He sighed, “And Zack is-”

“What about Zack?” Tseng interrupted, a strange note to his voice. “You’re not lovers,” he protested stubbornly, licking his lips as if to recover all lingering traces of Sephiroth’s taste.

He felt the force of the blush creeping into his cheeks no matter how hard he tried to fight it back. “No, but…” he paused and took a deep breath, attempting to regain control of the situation. “Maybe we should skip the coffee and go straight to a Heal.” In an effort to educate Sephiroth, Zack had once informed him that inebriation could be cured with a Heal. Of course, at the time Zack himself was suffering from a severe hangover and they were about to go on a mission. It was somewhat of a necessity that he be clear-headed.

“Then I don’t see why not,” Tseng stated as if that made all the sense in the world, pressing closer and shortening the small distance Sephiroth had made. It felt as if heat was radiating from his body, enfolding around Sephiroth and wrapping him in an cloak of desire. “I like you. I’ve liked you for a long time.”

Sephiroth felt a strange flutter in his heart at those words. “It- it’s just not a good time,” he whispered, already feeling his restraint fading away. He wanted to give in, he honestly did.

Those pale pink lips approached him again, fingers stroking along Sephiroth’s spine in an arousing fashion. He arched into the touch subconsciously as Tseng pressed closer, practically leaning the former General backwards across the table. Why couldn’t Sephiroth seem to form a coherent thought? By the gods he wanted to surrender.

“You are not attracted to me?” Tseng whispered, his breath a warm puff against Sephiroth’s lips. His tone was thick with need, silver eyes darkening with desire and a certain level of clarity. If Sephiroth hadn’t been so drunk by the new sensations, he might have noticed.

A low groan escaped Sephiroth before he could stop it. “Th- that’s not what I said,” he admitted desperately, not wanting Tseng to misunderstand. And was that his voice stuttering like a horny teenager? “I- I am.” His resistance was beginning to crumple if there was even anything left of it at all.

“Good,” Tseng purred before finally closing that millimeter of distance between them and kissing him once more. The Turk’s tongue slipped into Sephiroth’s mouth, a bit more dominating this time, a bit more needy, as he pulled their hips together. He began a slow grind, wanting Sephiroth to know just how badly he had been wanting to do such a thing.

The slightly taller man released a sound that was a cross between a whimper and a moan as one of his hands slid up to Tseng’s hair, tangling in the long, dark strands. His other hand clutched at the table top, needing something to steady himself as a fire began a slow burn through his body. All those urges he had forced into dormancy began to awaken.

Sephiroth unconsciously pulled Tseng closer, losing himself to those wonderfully arousing kisses. He had never imagined that a true kiss would feel anything like that. He loved Zack dearly but this was nothing like that one pity liplock he had gotten so long ago. It just didn’t seem right for a man’s lips to be that soft, for his mouth to taste that damn good. He could see himself getting addicted to Tseng’s taste and he couldn’t help but wonder why he had put it off for so long.

Yet, he couldn’t simply push aside the truth in the circumstances. With much reluctance, he somehow managed to pull together enough coherence to draw back from Tseng. He was panting slightly however, fighting against every urge to simply latch back onto those moistened lips.

“We shouldn’t,” he gasped, even though he really, really wanted to. Why was fate so against him that such a good thing would happen now when he couldn’t let it?

Silver eyes gleamed with desire as they regarded him thoughtfully. Inwardly, Tseng was arguing with himself. He needed it; he needed something. All of the memories and such from Sephiroth were still lingering in his mind and he had run out of alcohol long before it dulled the pain. There was nothing left to drown it out. But… he had chased after Sephiroth far too long to ruin anything.

“What do you want?” he finally asked, sounding surprisingly sober. He raised his other hand to pluck out the hem of Sephiroth’s shirt and slide his fingers beneath the fabric. “Don’t think about what we should or can do. All that matters is this second.” Immediately, he encountered warm, soft skin and he glided the exploring digits and his palm smoothly over a shuddering abdomen. Sephiroth sucked in a sharp breath as Tseng repeated, “What do you want?”

The former General hesitated, the words on the tip of his tongue to agree. Until his eyes shifted past Tseng to the doorway. His entire body seized up, freezing over completely as his eyes widened in unrestrained shock. A warm blush spread across his cheeks, almost turning his face brighter than Reno’s hair.

Feeling pretty certain that he knew who was behind him, Tseng reluctantly released his hold on Sephiroth. He hadn’t even heard the damn door open. He turned around, irritation causing his eyebrows to twitch. Sure enough, Elena was standing in the doorway, a coffee pot in one hand and a cup dangling from the other. The brown pot steamed, bringing with it the sharp scent of coffee.

“That was fast,” Tseng commented, not at all embarrassed by the situation. Behind him, Sephiroth made a strange sound which could have been a squeak if he were any other man.

Elena regarded her boss with some amusement before gesturing to him with the pot, liquid sloshing about inside. “I’m wondering if this coffee is going to be enough,” she said, cocking her hip to the side. Her eyes flickered briefly past him, landing on the furiously blushing Sephiroth. It was rather cute.

“My thoughts exactly,” Sephiroth gasped out, sliding out from in front of the table and easing his way free of Tseng’s hold. “I’ll just go get that Heal materia,” he finished, blushing furiously. He basically fled from the room, leaving the two Turks alone.

Once he was gone, Tseng turned away from his subordinate and rubbed a hand across his brow. He took several deep breaths to calm the raging arousal in his pants, inwardly cursing circumstance and his own foolishness. Of course, he didn’t spare Elena in the slightest either. He had been so close, so damned close.

“No, you weren’t,” Elena stated as if she had read his mind when she finished entering the room, shutting the door behind her with a bump of her hip. “You’re not that drunk.” She moved to stand beside him, setting the cup and pot down on the table. Her eyes flickered to the alcohol, which had fallen over and rolled on its side. “There wasn’t that much in the bottle to begin with.”

The Turk commander reached for his shirt, redoing the buttons that had been undone and making himself look more presentable. “Just drunk enough not to give a damn,” he muttered.

The blonde sighed. “And what did you think you were doing?”

Tseng shifted towards her, raking a hand through his hair and resituating the disturbed strands. He half-imagined he could still feel Sephiroth’s fingers entangling them. “Following your advice,” he remarked with a bit of sarcasm.

She threw up her hands in exasperation, stalking over to the other side of the room where she plopped herself down in a chair. “Now you listen to me!” she declared with some vexation. As Tseng poured himself a cup of the coffee and slowly sipped at it, she leaned back in her seat, eyeing him. “Why were you drinking?” she asked, already having half an idea as to the answer.

The older man’s hand paused halfway to his mouth, mid-sip. “Why do I ever drink?”

It seemed she hadn’t been so far from the truth. “Why don’t you try listening to them for once, Tseng?” she suggested. “Or at least talk to Aeris. You have that in common.”

Tseng shook his head. “That wasn’t it this time.”

Elena frowned, her brow furrowing as she tried to remember current events. Something would have had to set her boss off then… her eyes widened in sudden recollection. “Sephiroth?” she questioned disbelievingly, recalling what had happened in the conference room. After she had fled the premises, it was only later that she realized Tseng had not left with the others. He had been acting rather strangely.

The dark-haired male nodded, his eyes lowering and taking on a dark glint as he swallowed thickly. “I don’t know what happened to him in the past but I received enough feedback from what ever he was going through that I have a pretty clear impression that it was something no child should ever have to endure. I couldn’t block it no matter how hard I tried.” He paused, wincing as an arc of pain raced across his head, the price of trying to block it out. “I couldn’t understand most of it but… the emotions were enough.” They were more than he thought he knew how to deal with.

“And you thought the alcohol would help, as usual?” Elena asked, eyeing him curiously.

“If there’s enough, it drowns them out, mutes all the flashing images and voices but…” Tseng trailed off, a slight shudder running through his body as he sipped at the coffee. He didn’t know if there was enough alcohol in the world. Perhaps it was just fall-out from Sephiroth’s panic attack… but he felt tainted, dirtied… ashamed of himself. Even if he hadn’t done anything.

The female sighed as she shook her head. “You idiot,” Elena snorted. She paused then, tilting her head to the side as she recalled Sephiroth’s expression as he literally fled out the door. It was both a mix of embarrassment and desperate need.

She propped one hand on her chin, her elbow resting on her knee as a slow smirk spread across her lips. “Then again… maybe not.” In her mind, she knew that with only a bit more prodding, she could get the two together. Her plans were coming together perfectly.

Meanwhile, a good bit down the hall and hurrying faster than his pride thought respectable, Sephiroth was thinking along completely different lines of thought. He took deep breaths, trying to control himself and soothe down the rampantly running libido.

He had nearly given in. If Elena had never shown up… Sephiroth didn’t know how far he would have ended up taking things. But one kiss from the Turk and he had been lost, floating in a sea of desire and desperately seeking more. Of what, he had no clue, he just knew he had to have it. He wanted something. He wanted everything. And it was wrong because he wasn’t supposed to ask for privileges or rewards, he wasn’t supposed to be allowed to see his dreams come true. Not for men like him.

Men that Jenova most likely still had her grip on. He didn’t want to pull Tseng into that web, into the madness of his life. The Turk had enough to deal with without Sephiroth adding his problems onto him. It wouldn’t be fair.

With a final, resigned sigh, Sephiroth swallowed down any lingering traces of desire and immediately turned his thoughts onto more pressing matters. Such as finding the Heal so that he could cure Tseng and ask the man a rather difficult favor. And if he recalled correctly, Nanaki and Reno had been the ones to carry the small, restorative material.

Loath to disturb the somewhat volatile Reno, he decided that Nanaki would be his best bet. And in his earlier search, he had passed by both the demi-human and Archer heading to the kitchen. With that in mind, Sephiroth stopped and backtracked a little, heading to a hall he had passed in his earlier haste to simply get away. He only hoped that they were still there, otherwise he would be stuck hunting down yet more of his so-called crew.

Minutes later found him stepping inside the kitchen, which was actually warm and pleasantly scented. It was mostly deserted, understandable given that it was approaching midnight, but he could plainly see Archer and Nanaki standing at one of the counters, their backs to him. He wasn’t sure what they were doing, but the demi-human’s tail was twitching noticeably. Strange how he had never really paid attention to it before.

He cleared his throat to get their attention as he crossed the floor towards them. And when they turned, their eyes widened before they exchanged glances.

“Sephiroth,” Archer greeted, a strange note to his voice as he cast the other man an odd glance. “Were you looking for us?” One eyebrow twitched as amethyst orbs took in Sephiroth’s appearance.

Normally perfectly composed, the former General’s streaked hair was in complete disarray and one side of his shirt was untucked. His lips were swollen and slightly glistening, and lingering traces of a red blush were slowly fading from his high cheekbones. Plainly put, he looked as if he had just emerged from a mob of groping hands.

Sephiroth nodded at Archer’s question, still feeling somewhat off from his whole encounter. His veins thrummed in his body. “Could I borrow your Heal materia, Nanaki?”

The demi-human blinked at him before nodding, putting down a knife that Sephiroth belatedly noticed he was holding. “Sure,” he agreed, reaching with his free hand for his armlet where he kept the Heal. As he did, his eyes slid to Archer who was preparing to slap mustard on the sandwiches. “No, don’t do that,” he inserted hastily, bopping the other man with his elbow to prove his point as he picked out the small green sphere.

“Yuffie hates mustard.”

Archer chuckled lightly. “Know her that well, do you?” he teased, winking at Nanaki who dipped his head, trying to hide a faint blush. Amethyst eyes then flicked towards Sephiroth. “Is everything all right?” After all, it wasn’t often that Sephiroth came asking them for a restorative materia.

Unconsciously licking his lips as memories attacked him one right after the other, Sephiroth was forced to look away from the surprisingly probing stare. “Yes. Tseng just… had a bit too much to drink.”

The engineer’s brows rose nearly to his hairline as he reached for the stacks of yellow cheese without even looking. He was much more interested in Sephiroth’s current state. “Any idea why?” he asked while Nanaki tossed the Heal materia towards their leader.

“He was thirsty?” Sephiroth suggested on a mumble as he nimbly plucked the green sphere from the air and slipped it into his pocket. “Thank you, Nanaki.”

“No problem,” the demi-human chimed as he returned to Archer’s side, slapping the lunchmeat on the sandwiches and finishing them up. Behind them, Sephiroth turned and left without so much as a ‘goodbye’, his boots clomping on the tiles and quickly growing faint.

The two men left in the kitchen exchanged glances. “He went from having a panic attack to looking like he was mugged,” Nanaki commented as he reached for a plate and piled the sandwiches onto it. His tail swished behind him.

Archer smirked as he slid past Nanaki and opened up the fridge, grabbing up two bottles of water and two bottles of some unknown type of juice, he suspected Rabluberry. “Or laid,” he suggested.

The demi-human raised a brow. “Interesting. Very interesting.” He held up the plate. “Now let’s get these back before two ravenous females skin us alive.”

Archer laughed, already heading for the door. “Wise choice, my friend. A very wise choice indeed.”


He stood outside of the door, feeling both incredibly stupid and slightly nervous. Strange how easy it was for conflicting emotions to reside inside him. He didn’t know whether to turn and run, or curse himself for his foolishness. The door itself wasn’t intimidating, but the man inside, and his delicious tongue were. He wanted to go in but he didn’t. It was quite the quandary.

An amused chuckle teased along the edges of his mind. ‘A man of your strength, intimidated by a little kiss?’ Gilgamesh mocked in his usual teasing tone, which Sephiroth had found himself quickly growing to dislike. ‘Truly you are just a child.’

Sephiroth’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t ridicule me,” he hissed, shooting ocular fire at his anima. He hadn’t even realized he could do that in his mind until that moment. “I am going in,” he countered somewhat testily.

And just to prove the deity wrong, Sephiroth promptly raised his hand and knocked. After all, Elena was in there, wasn’t she? There wasn’t much Tseng would do with his subordinate standing right there. At least, that was what Sephiroth hoped. Gilgamesh just laughed all the louder, noticing that his animus had not denied being anxious, though he didn’t comment again.

The door slid open seconds later, revealing Elena’s face. She smiled when she saw Sephiroth, though it was more of a devious smirk. “We’re in luck,” she declared as she held the door open and gestured him inside. “The coffee seemed to be enough. He’s perfectly sober now.”

Sephiroth nodded, swallowing down any traces of nervousness, and stepped inside. Tseng was sitting on the bed, seemingly glaring at the ground as he sipped on a cup of coffee. He no longer looked as if he wanted to ravish Sephiroth before he could take two steps. The former General didn’t know if that was a good or a bad thing. Had the attraction only been the alcohol?

“You wanted to speak to me?” Tseng asked, without even looking up from the mug.

“Yes.” He left it at that and the tension in the room went up another notch until it was nearly palatable. It left a strange taste in Sephiroth’s mouth, a tension that was a combination of both sex and trepidation.

From the door, brown eyes darted between them before Elena groaned and shook her head. “You two are hopeless,” she declared, startling both of them from their staring contests with the floor (Tseng) and the wall (Sephiroth). “And here I thought you had made some progress.” When the eyes of both, mature and grown adults turned to look at her, slightly perplexed, she waved them off. “I’m going to see if Shera’s found Rude yet and peek in on Zack. I’ll catch you later, Tseng.”

With that, she sauntered out of the room, the door closing with a quiet click behind her that sounded all too loud in the tensional silence of the room. Especially to Sephiroth. He wasn’t any good at this.

Tseng sighed, an annoyed, blustery sound as his subordinate finally made herself scarce. “She never stops,” he muttered, somewhat to himself. He sipped at the coffee, swallowing down the bitter taste of the black liquid.

Feeling incredibly awkward, Sephiroth wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do or say next. He shifted uncomfortably in his stance, cursing as he heard Gilgamesh laughing at him in the back of his mind. His eyes flickered to Tseng briefly, remarking at how quickly the man sobered up. He had only been gone for twenty minutes at the most unless…

Tseng rose to his feet suddenly, distracting Sephiroth’s thoughts as he turned towards the former General, his face back to that unreadable, impassive mask. He set the coffee cup on the table with a slight clunk, the cup only about half-empty. It was mostly for appearances sake anyways.

“I won’t ask about what happened in the conference room,” Tseng began slowly, his gaze carefully noting Sephiroth’s attempts to hide the sudden stiffening of his body at the reminder. “That’s not my place or my right.”

Sephiroth struggled to regain control at the statement that seemed pulled out of nowhere. “Very well,” he replied, uncertain where this game was heading since that’s exactly what it seemed to be, some sort of speaking game where they said everything they wanted to say without using the right words. “I suppose in return you don’t want me asking about the alcohol.”

The Turk commander flinched visibly before he could clamp down on it. “It’s not important anyways.”

“I see,” Sephiroth responded, shifting again.

‘You are terrible at this,’ Gilgamesh chuckled in the back of his mind. ‘And you’re doing a wonderful job of skirting around every issue of importance.’

Indignation flared up before he could stop it. (Quiet!) Sephiroth hissed inwardly. (If you don’t have anything useful to say, then just don’t say anything at all.)

Gilgamesh merely laughed again but did disappear into the background. ‘I’ll just watch the show from here,’ he murmured, sitting quietly in the far area of Sephiroth’s thoughts, leaving his presence a very faint trace.

Biting back another sharp reply that would have been superfluous, Sephiroth decided to just dive right in. The situation couldn’t get any more tense, after all. “I need you to use your abilities, Tseng,” he finally requested.

The Turk immediately whirled to face him, his mouth slackening with surprise. “Pardon?” he asked, blinking. “Could you repeat yourself? Because I don’t think I heard you right.”

Sephiroth regarded him levelly, wondering if perhaps that might have been the wrong method. Too late to go back now. “We need to find Balaam,” he explained. “None of the other anima can locate him because he is cloaking his aura from them. You’re the only one that can. And before you ask, no, Valentine can’t sense him either.”

Tseng’s jaw set rigidly. “Have you conveniently forgotten that I can’t use them?” he demanded sharply, a cold trickle of fear racing down his spine. Of all people, Sephiroth was the last he expected to demand something like this from him.

“It’s not that you can’t but you won’t,” Sephiroth retorted and Tseng glared, in his eyes a mix of fear and apprehension. He sighed and amended his words. “Gilgamesh tells me that your other, your anima, could help you control them, if you would only let him.”

The Turk stared. “You don’t understand what you are asking of me,” Tseng said after a moment. He turned away from Sephiroth and reached for his abandoned coffee cup, needing something to hold on to. “I can’t just push aside years of building up walls.”

Sephiroth shifted where he stood, a frown beginning to mar his features. “Have you even tried?” he coaxed. “Because if not, then this world might as well start sending in its last prayers. We can’t stop Balaam if we don’t know where he is.”

“Oh, no pressure,” Tseng sniped, silver eyes flashing. “Either I turn into a screaming wreck or the world goes to shit. What a choice.”

Green-grey eyes narrowed as annoyance gradually swelled. “If there was anything else I could have done, I would do it,” Sephiroth returned. “But there’s not, Tseng.”

The Turk shook his head, feeling his body begin to trembled as he sipped at the coffee cup, though he doubted the caffeine would ease his nerves. Already he could hear the whispers in the back of his mind, the tears and the pleas. He could see images of lives he hadn’t lived, hear the low murmur of someone elses’ conversation. It was too much. Fear gripped him.

“I can’t,” he responded, barely above a whisper. “I just… I can’t.”

Sephiroth stared at his back, his gaze raking over the lines of tension yet he gritted his teeth nonetheless. “You would rather we all die? Is that it, Tseng?” he demanded, hands beginning to steadily clench and unclench at his sides. He wasn’t willing to accept that it would end just like that. “You want to give up now and wait for death to claim us?”

“That’s not what I said!” Tseng snarled, whirling around and sloshing coffee all over the place. Black liquid splattered to the floor but he ignored it, squeezing the cup so tightly that it almost cracked. “I’m telling-”

“What?” Sephiroth interjected, cutting him off as he took a step forward. “If you’re not even going to try than there’s no point in hoping for anything else.” He slashed a hand through the air, an irrational anger with the stubborn man burning through his veins.

“I can’t!” Tseng roared, a bit of anguish and fear peeking through in his voice. All measure of calm vanished as silver eyes darted around as though he were looking for an escape. “I can’t control them! I can’t even fucking listen to them! You don’t know what it’s like!”

Jade eyes flashed. “I don’t know what its like?” he repeated frostily. “Have you forgotten who I am?” Sephiroth clenched his teeth, turning violently away from the Turk as his body began to tremble without his consent. His own memories were beginning to crop up inside of him.

“You’re not the only one! My madness destroyed Cloud’s home and tried to kill you. My madness is barely under my control. I fear every damn moment I am here that I might lose my tenuous grip on sanity. But at least I’m trying. At least I’m not a coward!” The last was punctuated by the sound of Sephiroth’s fist slamming into the wall, splintering the concrete as easily as if it were mere cardboard.

He yanked open the door, jerking it open and storming outside before Tseng could even say another word, slamming it in his wake. The Turk blinked, his breathing ragged as he tried to control his surging emotions. The coffee cup crashed to the floor, falling from nerveless fingers as he struggled to find his breath. Widened eyes stared unseeing at the far wall.

Sephiroth was right, dammit. And Tseng had been trying to deny it. Yes, he was scared. Yes, he didn’t even want to try. It wasn’t that easy, to push aside all his efforts to conceal something as strange as his abilities. Lingering memories of his mother were constantly raging in his mind. He feared that if he even dared let go of his own tenuous hold, that nothing would ever be the same again.

He could still hear echoes of their accusations in his ears, could still recall his mother’s weeping and the dead look in her eyes. He would never forget what it felt like to be alone, forever marked by the damn jewel on his forehead he refused to remove. The old echoes would never fade, and he felt like he would never stop seeing himself in a broken mirror.

Yet, without him, there was little chance of locating Balaam. The world would fall to ruin because of his cowardice. Could he live with that on his conscience? Would he even be alive to regret his mistakes or Balaam quickly slay them all on principle alone?

He could already feel them, the million voices screaming in terror and pain, wondering what they had done to suffer their cruel fate. His head rang and Tseng winced as his knees buckled, hands automatically pressed to his temples as if to hold his shattering head together.

‘I would help you, my animus, if you would but let me.’ The voice slithered into his mind, taking advantage of his moment of weakness. It was deep and resonant, irretrievably kind, but the pain it always brought, the fear, made Tseng feel as if he were speaking with a demon.

He gritted his teeth and tried to force himself to stand up straight, shutting his eyes against the slow throb. “No,” he denied, though he could already feel himself caving. What was one more insanity? What was one more pain?

Yet, the voice refused to leave this time. ‘You know me,’ the demi-deity continued. ‘When the shadows spoke, where did you turn for comfort, Tseng? When your mother passed… who did you whisper your fears to?’

The Turk’s mouth went dry as he stiffened, memories stalking his mind and invading every shadow quickly. Alone… he had always been alone except for his one comfort, the one item he had never been able to get rid of. The ratty old toy had been his treasure, despite the fact that it was missing one eyes and the stuffing kept trying to emerge from stitches Tseng just couldn’t ever fix well enough.

‘I’ve always been closer than you think,’ his animus finished, tone gentle and soothing.

Tseng inhaled swiftly, not even realizing he hadn’t breathed. “O-Orthrus?” he whispered, voice barely able to be discerned as a question.

Something surged through the room, a burst of power that emerged as a gust of wind, fluttering across Tseng’s face. “That’s right,” a voice announced, the same tone as the one in his head.

The Turk opened his eyes, getting his first glimpse of the demi-deity that had claimed to be able to help him. Dark hair, grey robes, a spell-caster’s build… but it was in the eyes that he found the most recognition. Dark eyes, blacker than coal and darker than night, locked on him. And that same feeling of calm, the strange aura that his stuffed animal always seemed to radiate when he needed comfort was there.

He had had it with him all along. And all Tseng could do was gape.

“It took you long enough,” Orthrus said with a huff, crossing his arms over his chest as he stared at his animus. “I thought I was going to have to watch the battle from the sideline.”

The human swallowed thickly. “I didn’t want it,” he responded quietly, a subtle trembling beginning to radiate throughout his entire body. “My whole life… all I could do was hide it and push it aside.” He shook his head, dark hair swinging into his face. “I didn’t want to be like her.”

Orthrus’ harsh gaze softened at the helpless expression that came over his other’s face. “I know,” he replied gently. “I was there the entire time, watching but unable to do anything. It is our law. Until we are acknowledged, we must stand idly by.” He frowned slightly. “It is one of many that I am beginning to disagree with.”

Tseng shifted uncomfortably on the floor. “You said you would help me?” he asked, somewhat tentatively. “Because I can never understand them. And Sephiroth was right.”

The demi-deity nodded. “It’s all a matter of instinct really. You’ve spent so long trying to block them out that they are garbled because of it. Once you actually open your senses and actively seek out your ability, they should come easily… perhaps too easily. You have to be careful.”

It seemed simple enough. Tseng nodded as he listened, chewing his bottom lip in thought as was becoming a bad habit for him to do. His eyes wandered to the floor as he began to concentrate, for once in his life poking at the small throb of voices at the base of his skull, the dull roar of a constant litany of voices that was always present but he ignored. He did so somewhat tentatively, half-afraid of the pain that he knew would come as well as the consequences.

It was irrational, that belief that his ancestors would burst out of some corner the minute he did and declare him a witch. Then again, what more could they do that they hadn’t already done. He could never return to his homeland… his parents were dead. He had spent most of his life denying a part of himself to simply remain anonymous. All that could be taken was his family, the Turks, and they seemed quite determined to stay.

Tseng took a deep breath, that knowledge made it easier, and closed his eyes. Orthrus’ explanation washed over him as he gradually, and ever so slowly began to expand his senses. The walls he had built up began to crumble into pieces, dust carried away on the wind to leave behind this rhythm and rock of noise. He dimly felt a pulse of something echo around the room, power or something, the Turk commander couldn’t quite be sure.

And then he heard them, first quiet and mumbled, indistinct and hazy as they had sounded when lingering at the edge of his conscious. Blurry faces joined each tone and his head flared with a light pain, but it was not something he couldn’t handle. Gritting his teeth, Tseng clenched his hands at his sides and probed with his powers once more, each word and face gradually coming into view.

There were so many of them though. Literally thousands of people and their words, cycling through his brain faster than he could latch onto them. Complaints, expressions of love, quiet murmurings, soulful cries of anguish, each murmured or shouted phrase was another fan to the fire, another strike of the hammer to add to the pounding in his brain. But Tseng was determined to endure it. They couldn’t win this battle unless they knew where Balaam was.

Orthrus’ presence was becoming little more than a vague outline on Tseng’s senses as the Turk tried to concentrate on finding just one individual among the multitude. He focused on surges of power, on males, on anything that would leave him remotely close to the demi-deity. And then he felt it, a tiny blink of something that did not usually belong on Gaia. A feeling of presence that was far too ancient to be alive and then he knew, there could be only one that could make that feeling… a demi-deity. He felt the same radiating from Orthrus at his side.

The pain was beginning to escalate, from a dull throb to a radiating spike. His face burned, his skin tingled and crawled but that didn’t stop him in the slightest. He was so close, even if he felt like his head was going to explode. His knees buckled beneath him, shaking for a few precious seconds before completely giving out on him and Tseng crumpled to the floor, only half-wondering why Orthrus hadn’t caught him before concentrating solely on that pulse of presence.

Then he felt hands on his shoulders. “Tseng!” Orthrus demanded, his voice barely piercing the Turk’s concentration. “Stop! You’re taking on too much.”

The Wutaiian panted and shook his head, refusing to even open his eyes lest he lose his tentative hold on that presence, that voice that was far too old. “No…” he managed to gasp out, feeling as if every breath was a struggle. A strange feeling of pressure settled on his chest. “I have to… find him.”

He clenched his fingers, nails scraping against the floor. Somewhere to the south… a bit to the east… he centered in on that blip of tone, slightly mocking and condescending, filled to the brim with age. He deafened his ears to Orthrus attempting to make him stop. If he didn’t find out now, he might not get another chance. More pain radiated through his mind and he gasped before could pull back, yet he was also unerringly latched on Balaam.

Only a few more seconds…

A tropical island, to the northeast of Mideel, a new place where the lifestream was welling up, Tseng was certain of it. His arms started to shake but pressed on nevertheless. He had never heard of this island, as far as he was aware it had no name. Then there! Like a clarion trumpet call he heard him, loud and clear as if he were speaking and standing right next to Tseng.

Something about… Apocalypto? That the seal was nearly broken? And Vincent? Tseng squinted, trying to ignore the knocking on his brain and the encroaching blackness. And then, as if sensing that someone was there, a strange look crossed over Balaam’s face and he turned and stared, directly towards Tseng’s invisible eyes. Dark orbs seemed full of madness, determined for destruction and a shiver of uncountable dread overtook Tseng, causing his body to shudder uncontrollably.

It all seemed lost in that moment, and he was filled with such a surge of hopelessness and despair that it made him grow nauseous. He lost what little control he had over his ability and spiraled, letting the approaching blackness take over his mind as his head throbbed. His last conscious realization was the sound of the door pounding and Orthrus repeatedly calling his name in a worried tone.

And then the darkness came.

[Shattered] Refrain 16

Track Sixteen – Tseng/Sephiroth – Before the Dawn

Meet me after dark again, and I’ll hold you.

“General Sephiroth.”

The silver-haired man tipped his head in greeting. “Tseng. Veld was unable to make it, I presume?” he asserted as he moved smoothly around the conference table, sliding with grace into one of the empty chairs.

Tseng nodded. “It is his usual way to send me in his place. I am in charge of most of the Turks’ daily affairs. Undoubtedly, you are aware of that.” He found his own chair and sat down, unable to take his gaze off of Sephiroth. There was something about the General that called for every eye in the room to be on him, and Tseng was no less affected.

The other members of the tactics council began to file in, each face carrying a certain title of respect. But Tseng paid no attention to any of them; it was difficult enough to remain still when all his eyes wanted to do was gravitate towards Sephiroth. Yes, there was something in him indeed.

“I hear he has already named you his successor,” the General replied smoothly, making polite conversation, as it always seemed to be between them. “I am certain that you are the best man for the position.” Beneath the table, his foot sought to tap out a beat, mirroring the slight nervousness he felt within. Only his willpower kept it still.

Silver eyes almost shone with pride as he graciously accepted the compliment. “It will be hard to follow in such a man’s footsteps. I only hope I can live up to his example,” he returned easily, outward composure calm but inwardly fluttering like a whole band of butterflies had settled in his chest.

Every encounter was like this, dancing around each other, speaking only words that were appropriate for the setting. Inwardly, both felt something more than just mutual respect, however. Inside their hearts and desires, there was something else entirely, although neither risked saying it aloud.

I am nothing more than to see you there.

Watching the General Sephiroth in motion was nothing less than exquisite. He moved with the sword as if it was made for him, each step calculated and fluid. The Masamune danced through the air, silver blade flashing in the sunlight. His hair trailed behind him like a fall of molten steel. He had even removed his upper garments, which left him clad in nothing but black leather pants that hugged to every curve and muscle, making Tseng’s imagination go to places it was not supposed to go. He should not have been thinking such thoughts about an untouchable man. But that didn’t stop them from coming.

Even from afar he could see the thin trails of sweat that snaked lightly down tanned skin, flexing on a well-muscled torso. Sephiroth’s chest heaved with exertion, breath coming in sharp pants that made Tseng’s own slacks tighten. He licked his lips without noticing, hands twitching at his side with the unmistakable urge to touch.

It was impossible, however, at least in his mind. He could get no closer to Sephiroth than his current position, watching from across the way in his office, looking down at the training center. Even when speaking to him, they might as well have been that far apart. There was a line he dare not cross, despite how much he wanted to. Rules, regulations, his own personal fears kept Sephiroth at bay, kept Tseng from taking that first step.

He was so engrossed in watching the General Sephiroth train that he almost didn’t hear the footsteps behind him.

“Tseng.”

He turned to find his Commander standing there, giving him a curious expression. Immediately, he regained his composure, managing his usual impassive and collected expression. No matter how much his gaze wanted to stray back to the window, he did not turn again. Still, in his mind’s eye he could see the General, mako green irises glowing with determination and strength, boots sliding in a perfect rhythm against the sand.

“Yes, sir?”


And maybe tonight, we’ll fly so far away.
We’ll be lost before the dawn.

They were in the ShinRa building, walking down a corridor on one of the levels; it didn’t really matter which. Sephiroth wasn’t paying much attention to his surroundings. Instead, he devoted all of his concentration to the man walking at his side. Somehow, the dark-haired Turk had crawled under his skin, and Sephiroth was damn sure he did not understand why. Still not used to interacting with people, he found himself at a loss for communicating with the man outside of their vocation, which explained the reason they were speaking on this particular day.

“I found several young men that seemed to be of the proper caliber for SOLDIER. Of course, your assessment is crucial as to whether or not they will actually be allowed to register,” Tseng was saying, eyes scanning a few documents that he was flipping through. Every so often, a lock of hair would fall in his eyes, and he would stubbornly push it back behind his ear. He had already explained to Sephiroth that he had forgotten the tie for it back in the office.

The General nodded, listening intently but actually allowing his gaze to roam over the shorter man. Taking in skin just a shade darker than his own, intent silver eyes, Tseng was actually broader than he looked. Somehow, the Wutaiian had the appearance of being a small man when he was nearly the same size of Sephiroth, height excluded. Perhaps it was the delicate features of his face. The General couldn’t quite be sure, but everything about the Turk fascinated him.

“The Turks have been remarkably useful in scouting out new recruits for the army,” he responded, taking a few documents from the Turk’s hold, something inside of him jolting when his fingers briefly brushed over the back of Tseng’s hand. He so rarely forgot to wear his gloves, so the feel of another’s flesh beneath his fingertips was surprising. How could a man’s skin be that smooth?

A slight smirk tugged at the corner of the Wutaiian’s mouth. “Yes, well, it is what you do not know that actually works in our favor. There are often candidates for the Turks among those we find.” He searched through his papers, seeking a certain one, and then frowning when he realized the young man’s profile was in the stack he had handed to Sephiroth.

He reached over to point to the profile and found green eyes watching him intently. He nearly faltered, swallowing thickly before tapping the picture of the young man.

“This one, in particular, may not have the stamina for SOLDIER, but his cunning is more than useful for us.” The moment the words came out of his mouth, he regretted them. Stamina… it brought to mind far more interesting things than discussing recruits for the ShinRa army. He idly wondered just how well the General had been built.

“Stamina can be overcome with training,” Sephiroth mused aloud.

Tseng nodded in agreement, suddenly feeling as if the hall had gotten several degrees warmer. He took several quiet and calming breaths, feeling his libido respond as it tended to do whenever he was around Sephiroth. He hastily shoved the last of the reports into the General’s hands, the proximity sending a wash of whatever scent that Sephiroth wore in his general direction. His slacks tightened uncomfortably.

“Yes, well. I am certain that you are capable of handling any further decisions,” he commented, hating how quickly his words came out and much his hands were beginning to tremble. Desire raged within him so strongly that he didn’t know if he could stop himself from touching.

“Good evening, General.” Tseng tilted his head in farewell and was gone before the somewhat confused man could even say another word.

It was more dancing around each other, and any more he might concede defeat. There was only so much self-control a man could hold before he broke.

If only night can hold you where I can see you, my love.

His dreams were haunted by visions of things that he wanted but could not have. Hands caressing his flesh, a warm mouth descending on his sex. He saw flashes of silver hair and glowing eyes, the General’s smooth baritone whispering naughty thoughts in his ear. He was sweating before he knew it, tossing and turning on his bed as desire raced through his body from the nearly real dream. He could almost feel every touch, smell the scent of arousal on the air, and taste Sephiroth on his tongue.

He wanted the General so badly that he burned from it, and no matter what he tried, whom he fucked, he couldn’t get the man out of his head. And it haunted him. Those lips descending on his body, teeth nibbling on peaked nipples, sinking deep inside of the man until he came undone, silently pleading for more.

In his dreams, they were together. It was only at night that he could see them as he wanted it to be. But always the morning came with the unfortunate realization that it was nothing more than a fantasy. That his bed was still cold and empty. Except he had to change the sheets.

Then, let me never ever wake again.

He wasn’t a man who flirted shamelessly, not like Zack. He had only kissed one person in his life, not sure how to handle people beyond the walls he had built around himself. Still, that didn’t stop his dreams from venturing into territories he had never experienced for himself. Zack had explained the mechanics of homosexual copulation, and Sephiroth’s imagination was quite vivid.

And one person always starred the main role. A curtain of dark hair around shining metallic eyes. Kisses, endless kisses raining down on his flesh, fingers curled over his arousal and stroking him. His skin was heated, his breath came short, and he tossed and turned in his sleep, unable to escape from the desire that haunted even his rest. He had never wanted anything so much in his entire life.

It was only in his dreams, those breathtaking feelings. No matter what he saw of Tseng, there was never anything more. Beyond his walls and his bed, it seemed there never could be anything more. He turned over, and his bed was still cold and empty. Except he usually had to change his sheets.

And maybe tonight, we’ll fly so far away.

“You were looking for the General?” Rude questioned, coming to a stop just behind Tseng. He folded his hands in front of his body as he waited for the impassive man to acknowledge his presence.

The Wutaiian nodded. “Yes. I needed to discuss something about the recruitment with him.” It was actually a lie, but there was no way in hell Tseng was going to tell the truth. He couldn’t tell his subordinate that he planned to confront Sephiroth finally, that he couldn’t let the insanity go on any longer. Come what may.

“He has gone on a mission,” Rude explained. “It’s in Nibelheim, inspecting one of those reactors that has been spewing out monsters.”

Tseng raised a brow. “The same that killed Zelion just last week?”

His only response was a silent nod. Tseng would have to wait until the General returned to make his move. If he could hold out that long.

We’ll be lost before the dawn.

Those monsters, those things in the tank, were they the same as him? Was Sephiroth nothing more than an experiment, not a real human at all?

There were so many questions floating around him, so many that he couldn’t even concentrate on one before another cropped up. And JENOVA, the strange creature in the back of the mako reactor. That was the name of his mother, or so Hojo had always claimed.

What was he? Who was he?
Sephiroth haunted the basement of the mansion, barricading himself inside and poring through text after text, digging up one laboratory finding after another. He interpreted the scrawling handwriting of one deranged scientist, finding his own name more often than he could count. His stomach heaved in his body as nausea clawed at his belly.

The nightmares, everything he had thought to be only some horrible dream, they were all true. He was nothing more than a monster. They had lied to him! Everyone had lied to him! It was…

…late in the night when the voices started talking to him, warning him in their garbled tones and screams. He couldn’t understand a word of it, cringing as he curled up into a ball and shoved a pillow over his head, as if it would somehow drown out their cries. Tseng tried to build up a wall, but they refused to be silenced. So many voices, too many for him to comprehend.

Why? Why wouldn’t they leave him alone? Why couldn’t he just run away?

And then, the vision came, so bright and vivid that he jerked upright in his bed, heart racing in his chest as his eyes moved without seeing. Fire and pain, confusion and hatred, all swirling inside of him as his heart literally ached. They screamed at him, louder and louder, becoming a mass of both warning and misery inside of him.

He couldn’t take it anymore.

Somehow, I know that we can’t wake again from this dream.

Tears poured from Tseng’s eyes, but he could no more stop them then he could the rise and fall of his katanas, slicing viciously down each monster in his path. The slaughter did nothing to ease the ache deep inside of himself, but he continued anyways. He ignored every splash of his blood on his body, on his face. He ignored the rain pouring down around him and the monster’s screams of pain and terror.

In his mind’s eye, every nuance of the vision haunted him. So much desperation and pain, so much loathing, and there was nothing he could do to stop it, nothing to prevent the agony. His gut clenched, and his sword fell once more, cleaving smoothly through the flesh of another monster. He felt the sword hit bone, heard the splash of blood. But it was not enough.

Nothing he tried or screamed or snarled or killed could slay what was raging inside of him. Sephiroth had–

The thought died in his head, and he stabbed into the gut of another monster, silently asking that more and more come so that he could claim their lives as…


…rage and madness churned in mako green eyes as Sephiroth stepped out of the mansion. His eyes fell on the town, sleepy little Nibelheim. In his mind, Jenova whispered her sweet words of seduction.

They were to blame. They had ignored his screams; they had feigned ignorance of ShinRa’s doings. They had supported Hojo in his madness, and they had lied to him.

Fire flickered on the edge of his vision as he stalked into the village, something moving just behind his sight. He turned without thought, the inferno raging inside of him spreading out from his body and engulfing the person immediately. He ignored the screams; they were nothing compared to his pain.

His sword rose and fell quickly as more of the residents came running out of their homes. He ruthlessly burned down every building, setting fire to every establishment. He cackled as they burned; he watched as blood stained the ground. She whispered in his ear of their guilt, promising him that the pain would go away if he rid himself of all of them.

But most of all, Jenova called to him. He was not going to disobey. His mother needed him, and together, they would find their paradise.

Maybe tonight, we’ll fly so far away.

They were in his way, trying to stop him from getting to his mother. He recognized their faces, Zack and Cloud. He didn’t want to hurt them, but she was screaming inside his head; she demanded their deaths and their blood. He fought Zack, but he couldn’t kill him. He begged his own body to stop, but he wouldn’t listen. Sephiroth’s madness enveloped him, and he couldn’t hold on to a single tear.

He saw it, the blood staining Masamune’s blade. He felt the echoes of screams and the reflection of himself in the metal. He was a monster. Nothing better than those creatures in the tanks.

Two voices screamed in his head as Zack rushed him again. His dear friend grim but determined, crystalline eyes shining with fear and regret. Jenova screamed for death; he desperately tried to stop…

…screaming. His voice was hoarse, his entire body shaking. He could feel his blood pumping through his veins, bleeding out through the many wounds on his body, but he couldn’t find the strength in him to stop. He had exhausted his magic, reduced to using blades already stained with the fluids of those creatures he had viciously slain.

Voices echoed around him, guttural monster cries. Someone begging him to quit before he killed himself, a familiar voice that he just couldn’t place. The voices inside of him still crying for the chance forever lost, for the pain and suffering that Sephiroth endured and the slaying of all those people. He couldn’t stop their screams, no matter how much he bathed in blood. He carried such a rage inside of him, tainted by a deeply seeded melancholy that no amount of tears could ease.

He wanted to cease, needed to stop, but it was far too late.

We’ll be lost before the dawn.

She promised that they would be together, that at the end of the rainbow there was his chance to live in a Promised Land. Jenova said that if he dove into the mako, he would no longer be a monster, that he could live somewhere happy. That he could wash all that blood of his hands. And he listened to her, even when somewhere deep inside a voice screamed that she was wrong.

He remembered the look on Zack’s face; he recalled Cloud’s absolute fear and determination. His heart ached, and the rage was still present, still churning his blood. Her words were a sweet poison in his mind, promising so many things.

And so he leapt over the railing, flying briefly through the air like a bird, freedom in his grasp. The bright luminescence grew closer and closer, inviting him in with subtle seduction, and for a moment, he almost believed that everything was going to be all right. Until the pain hit, the familiar wrenching, agonizing burn that enveloped his entire body as he was encased within the mako. Jenova’s cackles of glee echoed around him, a maniac cry that caused him to silently scream and…

…sob without ending now, his katanas dangling from weary hands. His heart ached; his stomach churned. His throat was raw, and he vaguely realized that somewhere he was bleeding. It was all a hopeless dream that had faded before the dawn.

He sunk to his knees as someone called his name, and a hand laid on his shoulder. He recognized Reno through the din of his conscious, realized that the younger Turk was trying to help him. He gave into the aid reluctantly, unable to even move his body in protest. He was tired, so incredibly tired, but the voices, they… were finally silent.

Maybe tonight, we’ll fly so far away.

He could only watch as Jenova controlled his body, doing things he would have never done himself and letting others believe he was nothing more than a murderous and ruthless bastard. He wanted to scream and cry and rage, but he could do nothing, only silently hope that the next death would be the last. That the next time she fucked with Cloud’s mind or spilled blood would be the last.

But when they entered the Temple of the Ancients, the first person he saw was Tseng, and all those old feelings came rushing back with a vengeance. The Turk’s back was to him, obviously unaware of what was about to happen as he spoke into his cell phone, trying to explain some obscure order.

Sephiroth felt Jenova draw the Masamune and absolute horror filled him to the core. He screamed and pleaded for her to stop, but she only cackled within his mind at him. He saw himself, blade raised, prepared to strike through the back.

He shouted for Tseng to turn or run or even notice his death, but his voice went unheard. The Masamune flashed in the torchlight, stabbing forward… only Tseng turned at the last minute, catching sight of his would-be murderer as the blade cleaved directly through his stomach.

The silver eyes that widened in disbelief would forever haunt Sephiroth as Jenova yanked out the blade and stood watching Tseng slump to the floor, blood already spreading in a pool around him. And then, Jenova sauntered by, as if she had not just taken another life. There was nothing…

…he could have done. The voices had screamed at him to move, pounding relentlessly in his brain until he ached with the effort of keeping them quiet. They had cried out for him to run, to turn, that his death was approaching. And in a final act of desperation to make them quiet, he had turned, only to see Sephiroth bearing down upon him.

There had been no chance to avoid the fiery pain that ripped from his abdomen, and though he wished he hadn’t, Tseng had looked into green eyes clouded over with insanity. He had seen an evil smirk on perfect lips, and the scene would stay forever fresh in his mind. He hadn’t believed that Sephiroth truly was alive until that moment, even if the look in his eyes wasn’t the same.

Now, he slumped on the floor, blood draining from his body and his mind spinning with shock, agony, even swirling with feelings of betrayal and a longing that felt like another stab through the gut. He struggled to remain alive, fingers automatically hitting speed-dial for Reno’s cell phone. He managed to gasp out what had happened just before AVALANCHE arrived. And after handing over the keystone, he considered his part in this insane mockery to be over.

He slipped into oblivion.

We’ll be lost before the dawn.

Tseng’s eyes widened in shock at Cloud’s words, nearly staggering backwards from the surprise of it.

Sephiroth? That was Sephiroth?

Wind roared in his ears as he scarcely paid attention to the argument between them.

The man he had rescued, had pinned to the ground, and had talked with so clearly, was the man who he had longed for more than five years past? The man who had died and sent Tseng into a murderous rampage among the monsters? Who the voices cried over for days, and Tseng mourned as if he was a family member or a lover? Who had very nearly killed him in the Temple of the Ancients? The very same man who haunted his dreams?

His world spun off its axis with this revelation, one thought prevalent in his mind, wanting and needing it to be true.

It was a second chance.

[FF7] Control

Leather had been the right choice. It wasn’t as strong as metal or steel, but strength wasn’t the point here. Rather, it was the submission.

Tseng’s decision to use black leather had been perfect. It contrasted Sephiroth’s pale skin nicely, near-ivory cross-crossed by thick, dark lines in elegantly spaced strips. Sephiroth was so pale in all aspects that it seemed almost blasphemous to drape him in so much darkness.

But Tseng couldn’t deny the arousing sight his lover made. The rigid nature of his cock only proved his point.

The leather creaked as Sephiroth tested the strength of his bonds. Lean muscle visibly shifted. Tseng licked his lips, his breath hitching.

Sephiroth could break the leather straps if he truly tried. But then the game would be up and neither of them wanted that.

“Well,” Sephiroth said, his rich voice rolling into the room and making Tseng shiver. “You’ve taken me. Now what do you intend to do with me?”

Tseng pulled his hair back with an elastic, noticing that Sephiroth’s bright eyes watched his every movement.

“Whatever I desire,” Tseng replied. “Was that not the point?”

Sephiroth chuckled, lips pulling into a smirk that never failed to make Tseng’s insides squirm with arousal. “I’m still waiting.”

Defiant to the last. Tseng felt his own lips curl into a smirk.

He dragged his fingers lightly across his length, watching Sephiroth watching him, fighting off his own aroused shivers. He wanted nothing more than to pump himself to completion, splatter his release on Sephiroth’s face. But more than that, he wanted to feel Sephiroth’s mouth over him first.

“You look thirsty,” Tseng murmured, feeling himself slipping into that state of mind at last. He pitched his voice purposefully low. “Am I wrong?”

The leather creaked louder, Sephiroth’s tongue briefly wetting his lips. “You intend to tease me?”

“Only for as long as it amuses me.”

Tseng’s heart pounded in his chest, his eyes locked on the man kneeling before him. Sephiroth, the soon to be General, the great SOLDIER who bent his knee for no man. No man except Tseng.

He stepped closer, close enough to feel Sephiroth’s exhalations on the damp tip of his arousal.

“Just your tongue to start,” Tseng ordered, near-breathless, desire thrumming a heavy beat through the veins. “We will worry about the rest later.”

Sephiroth’s eyelids shuttered to half-mast, but his lips parted in willing obedience. Which, really, had been the plan all along.