|The White Tenebrae
Author: Nephilim Rising PM
Historical AU. Siberian Ice March, Russia, 1919. The White Army is retreating, suffering great losses. Torn between duty and love, Major General Sephiroth has to make the hardest decision in his life. Sephiroth х Genesis.Rated: Fiction M - English - Tragedy - Sephiroth & Genesis R. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 28,494 - Reviews: 29 - Favs: 20 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 08-19-09 - Published: 08-03-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5273629
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summary: Historical AU. Siberian Ice march. White Army is retreating, suffering great losses from Reds, frost and typhus. In the middle of nowhere, torn between duty and love, Major General Sephiroth has to make the hardest decision in his life.
Disclaimer: I own nothing or no one. Why would I need to, anyways?
A/N: Pearlwhite, thank you very much for your review – since I am incapable of saying this any other way :) I am indeed very much interested in this period of Russian history; even though it is truly tragic, it is a great encouragement for me. And Sephiroth in the role of the General is always a sheer pleasure to write.
Short list of names, etc:
Average temperature during the Ice March – around -35 Celsius; -31 Fahrenheit.
The Vichy regime – French government (1940-1944), loyal to Hitler, established after the defeat of France in WW2.
Children of war.
25th January, 1920; temporary Kappel's headquarters.
"Major General! Major General Sephiroth!"
His left hand moved, rising to his forehead, passing over warm skin, brushing slightly damp hair aside. He could move, and the rigidity was almost gone, replaced by placid limpness. He could feel his face, the way his skin prickled each time he touched it, the way his lips hurt and bled when he tried to open his mouth for an answer.
He felt alive.
Emerald eyes were closed; Sephiroth didn't wish to open them, as though afraid that it was again a trickery of his weary mind.
Did they finally make it? The Major General strained his memory. The last thing he could recall was his jet-black steed neighing loudly and two or three other horses responding. At first he thought it was a sound delusion he's been experiencing more and more often lately, but then people began appearing before his eyes, shouting something, running towards the column. At that moment he understood that his regiment – or whatever was left of it – overtook the main forces. Then the silver-haired General let himself slip out of the saddle; the surroundings blackened, and he didn't even feel the pain of falling.
Sephiroth faintly moaned. Soft pillow underneath his head, layers of woollen blankets he was wrapped in, and overwhelming weakness together with strange weightlessness created an illusion of paradise.
They were caught in a storm, trying to get to another village, but when they got there, straining their last strength, hoping for some warmth, there was nothing but a white wasteland in its place, the remains of burnt houses barely visible, yielding to omnipotent power of blizzard. It appeared that the Reds got there first and destroyed the whole settlement.
Of what happened after only series of short outbreaks in his memory remained. He recalled freezing alive, how he stopped feeling his legs, then arms, then…
"Thank God, he's alive." The same voice, which said those first words, repeated.
Sephiroth barely opened his eyes to see who was speaking, when waves of darkness rolled in once more and he couldn't see or hear anything.
…When he awoke for the second time it was dark. A single candle was lit, its flames flickering in faint draft, shadows moving on the walls in an otherworldly dance. The izba was small, and to his left the Major General could see the dark contours of another bed. A wooden chair and a stove supplemented the impression of sheer poverty.
Outside the wind was rustling in crones of pristine trees and between its whispers he heard faint moans.
Sephiroth raised himself on the elbow; diverting his eyes to the bed, he noticed a withered frame on it. The person was obviously sick; laboured hoarse breaths pointed to pneumonia.
The Major General flinched, shrinking underneath the blankets. He felt slightly shivery, but it wasn't bad. The person to his left mumbled something incoherent. Sephiroth recognized Kappel's voice. So he caught up with the main forces indeed; this news was consoling.
The news about sick Commander in Chief weren't.
It seemed he could not receive good news any longer.
Reclining his silver head on the headboard, Sephiroth closed his eyes and coughed. Kappel immediately stirred, waking.
"Who is there?" The weak voice croaked, so unlike calm masterful orders he always issued. Sephiroth named himself. "Ah, Major General. I was informed of your arrival. How was your journey?"
"Frost. Typhus." Sephiroth's answer was curt.
Kappel hawked blood, wiping his mouth with his hand. In wan light Sephiroth saw the dark spot on the Generals' palm.
"Same for us. The railroad is still occupied by Czechs. The telegram we received form Saharov reaffirmed the news we had. You will have to continue, to cross Baikal and join with Semenov."
"Not many will make it." Sephiroth absently looked up. He understood what the General meant.
"Those who wanted to leave have already left, Major General," Kappel's voice regained former strength, even if just for a moment. Then he slumped back, wearily reclining on pillows. "Yesterday I appointed Voitsehovskiy as a new Commander in Chief."
The Major General nodded.
"Are you planning to take Irkutsk and free the Supreme Ruler?"
"That is the best we could hope for. Bolsheviks do not expect us to act. This time we have advantage of surprise." For a moment Kappel lay still, and then asked, abruptly changing the topic. "Where is Rhapsodos?"
"I…" those words were not easy to say. "He was sick and I left him behind."
"We all have to make hard decisions, Sephiroth," Kappel quietly replied from darkness. "Leaving my family was not easy either."
Candle flames flickered, shadows wildly quivering on the walls. Sephiroth vacantly followed them with his eyes; their quiet conversation seemed surreal as did hearing a human voice.
"I often thought why we lost, Kappel. We were not harsh enough. We didn't understand that the Civil war is not the same the Great War was. And we rarely learned fast enough."
He looked out of the window to see a lone silhouette of a sentry slip by. Where were they? How far from Irkutsk?
"It is easy to judge now. We were dealing with a seriously ill patient and instead of trying to find a remedy we cared about the colors of its dress. We tried to stop the revolution, instead of just giving it a desirable direction. It is too late to learn and change anything now." Kappel coughed again, cursing under his breath. At first the Major General thought of asking about his disease but changed his mind, not wanting to offend his fellow officer. Sephiroth understood that Commander in Chief was dying, only as a strong person he never said a single word about his state, never even complained a bit. His last thoughts, his last words were about their common goal, about his motherland. "I know, looking back, we now know there were many things that should have been done differently. But, disregarding that fact… do you regret anything, Major General?"
That wasn't a question at all. Thin lips whispered "no", taking a shape of a bitter smile. It was too late to change anything, yet he truly regretted nothing.
Sephiroth looked at the General's emaciated yet still volitional face, straight into feverishly glistening eyes that reminded him of dying Genesis, having heard a faint, almost dead. "Me neither."
Those were the last coherent words he heard from Kappel.
… In less than a day Commander in Chief of the Eastern front, the hero, the patriot, the person who started it all for him and Genesis, died. His coffin was brought out into the court in front of the izba where he spent his last hours at so that all soldiers could say their last farewell to the true son of Russia.
Snow faintly creaked under his boots as Sephiroth, dressed in his full uniform with shoulder straps and grayish-green overcoat, made his way through the silent frozen crowd to where the coffin stood. It was early sunny morning, the air fresh and clear, a mockery of his mourning.
Kappel's haggard immobile face was white, rime faintly glistening on his moustache. Nothing of a vigorous strong-willed person remained, just a plaster cast. Pale fingers ruthlessly clutched the side of the wooden coffin as Sephiroth leaned over, brushing the General's cold marble forehead with his lips.
With Kolchak and Kappel Russia he knew finally died, and only a pitiful handful of defenders remained. He accepted the new realization with grave stubborn fatality. Fingers clenched with force as the Major General straightened.
Siberian Ice March – and thus his duty - was far from over.
Having exchanged glances with approaching Voitsehovskiy, Sephiroth stepped back from the coffin and headed for the hut without looking back at the deceased. Emerald eyes slid along the row of soldiers. Many were openly weeping, tears streaming down their hard weather-beaten faces. To them the General was more than a hero; he was a father. Perhaps, Sephiroth thought, to him Kappel was something like a father as well, the only person he could call one.
Rigid legs carried him to the wooden porch; he ascended the stairs and disappeared inside, having leaned against the doorway, so that he could see what was going on in the court and remain unseen.
Genesis… his lover's name painfully echoed in his heart. Will they ever meet or did his fate finally scatter them as withering yellow leaves? Was he even alive or did he find his death just like Kappel, just like his motherland?
Fingers absently twiddled long silver tresses, tangling and untangling them. There were too many dead to hope for anything. Too many dead…
Sephiroth swallowed a single tear that rolled out of the corner of his emerald eyes.
And so he stood motionless, as if expecting something, until the crowd kneeled in the court and started singing the solemn litany Immortal memory.
… Two or so weeks later his regiment was ambushed near Irkutsk, and he got captured. His faithful jet-black steed, weakened by the long hopeless journey in ice, fell.
Then Sephiroth understood it was finally the end for him.
6th of February, 1920; Irkutsk prison.
Memories. Lurking in the darkness, they haunted Sephiroth, and even as he tried to discard them, they kept returning. After all, there was not much he could do in the small cell four of five steps across, with stone walls, low ceiling and a narrow window just above his head, through which faint light penetrated into the room. Through it he heard the sounds of life, the neighing horses, the marching troops and the din of passing carriages.
He had much to remember, most of recollections painful and undesired.
Sephiroth lay on the bunk, thin woolen blanket wrapped around his legs, emerald eyes icily and impassibly staring at the ceiling. His breath was a faint cloud of vapor.
He lost. It was inescapable. It was fatal.
He cravenly desired it to end, all this farcical justice, all this show Bolsheviks made. He knew his sentence. Why waste any more time to torment him?
From the light in the narrow guarded window – or the lack of it – Sephiroth could tell it was late evening. A couple of minutes ago a column of armed infantry marched by his prison. He heard sharp orders and the unforgettable sound of hundreds of boots hitting paved street.
Emerald eyes closed. Suddenly he heard steps, shuffling in long corridors of the military prison. Someone was heading to his cell.
What did they need now? It was late.
The rusty door opened with unpleasant creak and five soldiers with rifles crowded in the doorway.
"Get up and move!" Sephiroth obeyed, rising. Handcuffs circled his wrists at once and buttstock hit his shoulder blades, urging forward.
The Major General tossed his silver head. It was wounded pride.
He lost too foolishly. Blind luck.
They walked through empty halls, long and twisted as intestine of a beast. Soldiers walked silently and he didn't attempt to ask any questions. When the time came he would be told everything he needed to know.
His escort halted on the second floor in front of the wooden door of a private cabinet, yet the Major General was the only one to enter.
The dark room was nearly empty with a single kerosene lamp, a desk, and a chair whereupon a man with a revolver sat. The tall window opened on the street. Sephiroth shot a vacant glance at the interior and then focused on the person. Judging by the straps on his shoulders, it was a Red Major.
Surprisingly young man rose to greet him.
"Major General Sephiroth? We have heard a lot about you." He shot a glance at the papers that piled up on his desk. "I am Major Isaev."
Sephiroth coldly nodded. He had no strength for their games and hypocritical pleasantries. The door closed behind him, and he felt himself worse than in his cell.
"To make the long story short," Isaev smiled a strained smile, "we know you have rendered great services to our motherland during the Great War." Sephiroth froze before reaching the table. He expected everything, but not this. "And much could be… overlooked just for those merits."
Ah, Sephiroth finally understood, loosing last remains of interest in the conversation. What they were to ask of him was impossible.
"If you help us, we could help you." Isaev finished, perhaps, having unquestionable faith in his own diplomatic abilities.
"What do you need?" The Major General asked dispassionately.
Isaev's face visibly brightened up.
"Anything you could give us. Voitsehovskiy's plans, position of the White forces, number of artillery pieces… anything."
They were asking him to betray his own comrades to save the last shards of his shattered life. They were asking him to become a monster who was killing Germans and Austro-Hungarians out of macabre sense of humor, out of some hideous amusement.
They were asking him to render all his efforts and sacrifices during the Siberian Ice March meaningless.
A tired bitter smirk flashed on thin lips.
They didn't understand anything. They were asking too much.
"And what would I get in return?"
"Freedom. We could give you new identity, new documents, new life and all you have to do is talk."
Freedom… new life…
Sephiroth came to stand by the window with his silver-plated back to the Major, and looked out. Carriages crowded on the dirty snow, and people hurriedly moved from one to another in darkness. He saw them with his keen eyes. They belonged to different eras.
Theirs was a new epoch, when a boy who reported his parents for a sack of potatoes they tried to hide, was considered a national hero. It was a new epoch when one could meet a person, fall in love with him, and on the next day he would disappear to be never heard of or seen again. It was a new epoch of fear.
They didn't understand that in this new epoch the likes of him were no longer needed.
Forgive me, Genesis…
"There will be no deal, Major Isaev," Sephiroth said resolutely, even if quietly. Pale trembling fingers clutched the whitewashed wall for an instant, betraying him.
Isaev quitted his seat and stood aloof.
"This is a very generous offer, Major General." Was he vexed? They had to be desperate indeed.
"I appreciate the trouble and concern, Major," a smirk played across thin lips, almost void of any satisfaction or the likes. Sephiroth turned around.
Major Isaev clearly looked disappointed. The silver-haired General didn't blame him. He was young, ambitious and, likely, wanted to finish off all remaining White forces by himself to rise through ranks of the Red Army.
"Is this your last word?" The Major's voice was cold, all feigned cheerfulness gone.
Emerald eyes closed wearily. Sephiroth suddenly felt the taste of Genesis' lips on his.
They didn't understand that he knew how to lose.
8th of February, 1920; Irkutsk prison.
Sephiroth didn't remember how he exited the cell and got to the small courtyard behind the military prison. Each step was a struggle for him as though it wasn't a step he took but walked the whole verst in the strong blizzard. It took all his willpower and pride to make himself move, for his body felt already dead.
His thoughts were painfully short as spasms. Sephiroth couldn't think about the fate of his motherland, he couldn't even think of Genesis, seeing his venereal dying beauty only. Other memories refused to resurface, unable to penetrate the strange block in his head.
At first, when the Major General left the building, he looked up at the cloudy welkin, regretting that he'd never see the sun again in his life. The next moment he couldn't remember what he was thinking about. His mind crumbled as a sand fortress, legs and arms were unruly.
The squad of six soldiers followed him from behind, rifles armed and ready. His wrists were cuffed, iron shackles ruthlessly sticking into his skin.
The strong gust of cold wind scattered silver hair as a veil over his frame. The Major General was in his full uniform, as if dressed for another parade, clean shoulder straps outlining his bearing.
The iron gate faintly creaked to let them pass. The next sound he could comprehend was someone's voice asking.
"Last death wish?" It rang casually, routinely, as if Major Isaev was asking his wife about breakfast. "Or, perhaps, a priest?"
Sephiroth shook his silver head.
"No." It was his first word spoken that day and his last.
The Major General had much to ask forgiveness for; and he would have asked, only inexistent God was the last one he would turn to; and his last wish – to know whether Genesis was alive – could not be fulfilled.
Sephiroth listlessly looked around, barely moving. He could suddenly smell snow.
The courtyard was surrounded by three brick walls. He had to stand by one of them. Soldiers had to push him. Sephiroth couldn't move on his own.
One step, then another… will this torture ever end?
The Major General finally stood by the brick wall in the narrow dirty courtyard. It was the finale of his struggle, the beggarly corner a grave to the grandeur and dreams.
Major Isaev began to turn him around, so that he would stand with his back to the squad, but Sephiroth stopped him.
He would not cower. He wanted to die like Admiral Kolchak, never uttering a single word of entreaty.
The Major avoided his eyes, averting his face.
"As you wish." Sephiroth heard a gulp.
Major Isaev took his handcuffs off and retreated to where the Major General could no longer see him. Six soldiers began lining up in front. They moved slowly, as puppets in the theatre.
Or, perhaps, it was just a delusion.
"Ready! Aim!" The voice echoed in his head, as if from the great distance. His nails dug into his palm and heart painfully leapt to his throat. NO! They wouldn't see him beg for his life. Never.
Emerald eyes closed. Sephiroth couldn't look at the soldiers any longer, at those rifles, faintly glistening in predawn mist. Shaky breath passed his lips.
He was afraid.
And then the block in his head snapped.
…It was summer of 1912; they were kissing in the haycock. Sephiroth could have sworn he smelled the fresh grass, felt Genesis' lips pressed to his own, heard the faint rustle of stalks in the wind.
He could have sworn he…
Staccato sounds tore through his ears, and then the world turned into a black void. Forevermore.
Sephiroth's fate was finally merciful to him. The soldier that stood in the middle fired a bullet that went through his heart, killing him in an unnoticeable instant.
His body in grayish-green overcoat slipped down the wall limp and broken, emerald eyes fluttered open in death agony to never close again and bright sunrays finally penetrated thick dismal clouds, merrily playing on unsullied snow, on scattered silver hair, and everyone who was present in the courtyard saw that the dead General was smiling.
Like an angel.
9th of February, 1920; Irkutsk.
The city resembled a disturbed hive. News overflowed it, droning as an irksome gnat song. Admiral Kolchak was hastily executed by shooting before the approach march of the White forces. With a weak garrison Bolsheviks had in the city they could not hope to defend it and were afraid their prisoner could escape, yet, having learned the grave news, the Whites passed round the city in their endless march into the depth of Siberia. The Red troops flooded narrow streets, cavalry and infantry gathering, moving out to chase the remaining White forces. There was other news that made Genesis go hot and cold, the news he didn't wish to believe in with obstinacy of youth. A day after admiral Kolchak was executed another high ranking White officer was shot. It was Major General Sephiroth.
The redhead didn't wish to believe he was too late.
Like a shadow he hid between the houses and carriages, wandering, tracking down people who could know anything about Sephiroth's fate and finally found a secretary of a drumhead court-martial.
A short light-haired man stood cornered in the dark empty alley, frightened expression distorting his face, as Genesis extended a revolver and pointed to him.
"What do you w-want of me?" The man wobbled, seeking support by the brick wall. His voice trembled.
Coward, the redhead thought with disdain.
"Are you secretary Popov?" The light-haired man hastily nodded. "I need your minutes."
"I don't have them with me…"
Genesis shook his head, vexed.
"Major General Sephiroth?" The redhead demanded with masterful notes in his melodic voice. "What was his fate?"
The man paled. "Who are y-you?" His dark eyes were wide with fear. He was beginning to understand.
The cold barrel of a revolver neared the man's forehead.
"I am the one asking questions here," Genesis snapped, anger and anxiety barely held at bay. He was on the brink. The man didn't see it.
"All right, all right," the secretary's head flaccidly dangled sideways as that of a rag doll. "He was shot yesterday."
Despite the anticipated news, it felt as a blow to his stomach. Something broke inside him and vanished in the black void. The thoughts became dim, he staggered, taking a step forward and only azure eyes flashed as liquid blue flames.
He couldn't accept it. Shot yesterday… it was not possible.
His subtle palm clenched the man's neck. Secretary moaned, sounds of his voice turning into hoarseness as the redhead's fingers came together tighter.
"NO! I did… not… Please, spare me…" the man implored, choking, forcing words out of his numb throat. "I have a family. Wife… children…"
It was meant to wake his mercy and yet the redhead felt only hatred. Tall as a tenth wave it swept over, dark and turbid, as though rising from the darkest depths of the sea.
The insides of him screamed for revenge, his heart deaf to all entreaties. Plump lips folded into a ruthless smile.
"You think it is all right," Genesis hissed through clenched teeth. His free hand pressed his revolver to secretary's temple covered in cold sweat. The body in his arms began to quiver violently; he though it was morbid fright. "If he has no family, if he has no one to come home to… to simply shoot him…" His throat contracted. Hatred burnt. Hatred demented. "Shoot like an animal… is this what you think was right to do?! No man, no problem?!"
Genesis was shouting, uncaring about whether he would be heard or whether he could be caught. The dark eyes were wide, incoherent sounds passing man's lips.
His fingers were rigid as steel.
"Do you know that he was worth dozens of your likes?!"
Genesis couldn't hold out any longer, lifting man's body and pulling the trigger, not realizing that the secretary in his hands was already dead. A deafening bang echoed through his ears. Something hot and salty fell on his lips, on his face.
Breathing heavily, the redhead hurled the corpse aside. His thoughts were still mercifully numb.
A carriage drove through the nearby arc in the adjacent street, loud rumble breaking silence. Genesis had to flee as fast as he could. If he was discovered he would share his lover's fate.
Sephiroth was shot yesterday…
Clutching the wall, Genesis blindly plodded towards the quay, and only when he reached the bridge that joined left and right banks of Angara, did the realization finally dawned.
Then he slumped against the stone wall, pressing his knees to his chest, burying his face in his palms. The revolver fell by his side. Genesis didn't notice that his fingers were covered in blood.
He even had no strength to cry.
He came too late.
For that he hated himself. For that he abhorred the whole world.
The redhead collected himself only when heard the sounds of approaching Red cavalry, the neighing horses, the out of tune singing.
He needed to get out of the city under the cover of night. In a way his lover sacrificed his life so that Genesis could survive.
His fists clenched.
And he would survive to take away the remains of the Russian Idea and memories of Sephiroth with him to the exile.
12th of February, 1920; Siberian railroad.
The train was speeding away into the night, the contours of taiga blurred in the window. Was it because of the speed or tears that welled up in cerulean eyes?
Genesis sat on the bunk; on the bed in front lay a woman in gray clothing with a little girl. Her face was worn out and wasted and her daughter faintly wept from time to time. Two dismal men occupied the bunk on top. They didn't talk much either.
If the redhead closed his eyes he could still pretend it was the armored train, and soon he would receive the grave news of Kolchak's imprisonment, rise and head to Sephiroth's compartment to deliver them.
If he closed his eyes he still felt Sephiroth was alive.
Yet once he opened them the truth ruthlessly reminded of the opposite. It was the echelon of refugees, Sephiroth was executed and he was fleeing Russia. The war was finally over, only he wasn't happy. Where should he go? To France? To Germany? What sense did it all make? He lost everything one could lose in a lifetime and another struggle seemed just a pointless waste of time and strength.
Genesis shrank into a corner on his bed. A pencil stump was in his fingers and a book sprawled on his knees. When he was writing, he felt a bit better, and the burden he carried on his shoulders felt lighter.
"Sephiroth," he began scribbling on the blank page, trying to steady the book each time the train shook, "always liked to repeat what we were fighting against. Then his usually cold face lit up, and deep emerald eyes sparked. He somehow saw what was coming after Bolsheviks shot the Tsar's family. He saw the approaching Red Terror, the concentration camps… all of it. That was what he was fighting against.
I didn't understand him at first. After all, we were different. I followed because I had nowhere else to go when many of Russian officers ended up in Petropavlovsk fortress.
But such was Sephiroth.
Genesis reread the paragraph he wrote once, twice and then resolutely crossed out the last line.
About 35 years later; Irkutsk.
The city changed dramatically since Genesis saw it for the last time in that bleak 1920, when after his lover's execution he's been fleeing from the Red Terror. Irkutsk was now a big city, living its busy industrial life, where nothing of the narrow streets, jammed with carriages and marching infantry in Bolshevik's military uniform, remained.
It remembered neither Major General Sephiroth, nor the heroic feat of all White Officers. People were good at forgetting, at believing in lies, at hiding from truth that would make them look bad in their own eyes. People were not capable of repeating their feat. They preferred to pretend it has never happened.
His gaze slid along the busy street, full of people who were in a hurry on their daily monotonous matters.
It was comfortable to forget.
Genesis stopped believing in people; he's been living a secluded life for the last thirty five, mostly writing his memoirs. He had some friends and brief relationships from time to time when the solitude and war memories became impossible to bear. He survived the Vichy regime, the SS and French militia persecutions, he waited until Stalin died and the iron curtain that separated the Soviet Union from the rest of the world was lifted, even if just a little bit, so that he could finally return to his motherland and fulfill his last dream.
To find Sephiroth's grave.
If it wasn't for it, Genesis would have given up a long time ago.
He was too old. None suspected him to be a spy and after a year of unsuccessful attempts he was finally allowed to enter the Soviet Russia. For the first time in almost thirty five years Genesis could set his foot on the land that gave birth to him and took everything he loved and cherished, his parents, who died along with the Tsar's family, his bold dreams of youth, and his only sincere deep love.
Could he still love his motherland after that? And was it his motherland?
Unfamiliar landscape was sliding away in the opened window of a massive military green jeep he was sitting in on the passenger's seat, watching tall brick buildings, all of similar shape and color, paved streets, snow-covered trees. He was breathing fresh air, shivering with cold and wrapping himself tighter in thick warm coat and woolen scarf. He wasn't that same young person any longer, feeling even the slightest change in weather.
An old man of his age was steering. They sat in utter silence, broken only by low rumble of the car's engine. Genesis has been looking through the window all the time, dull azure eyes vacant and empty.
When they first met an hour or so ago on the train station, the former Major General asked him two questions, and none of them included stranger's name.
"Did you shoot him?" Was the first one, and when the old gray-haired man nodded, he inquired again. "How do you know it was him?"
His companion coughed, taking out a cigarette and lighting it. His wrinkled face became thoughtful.
"He was just like the idea he fought and died for." The old man took a puff and coughed again. "If you understand what I mean."
Genesis understood. By that time it was obvious that the White eclipse was nearly over, and a new sun of bloody red color was about to rise on the horizon.
He curtly nodded, turning around and heading for the car. A quiet question rang after him set against his back, as a cold barrel of a revolver.
"Were you good friends?" Genesis pursed his lips and said nothing, continuing to walk away slowly. "I am sorry. I was just following orders."
Just following orders… did he truly need those words?
He was silent, silent all the way from the railroad to the cemetery. He wasn't capable of holier-than-thou absolution, even though he didn't feel overwhelming hatred which burnt him so many years ago.
He was too tired, shattered and bitter. His flames dimmed and faded, yet he could not forget. He could not forgive.
… The small and old military graveyard was a recluse place, rarely visited, rarely tended to. The old man in the green military jeep remained by the entrance, for Genesis didn't wish to see him standing by his side. It felt wrong, no matter what explanations the stranger could come up with.
The hill was barren, decorated with a low iron fence and two graves, one of which was nameless. The low hump was covered with white blanket, reminding him of the Siberian Ice march when him and his lover got separated forever. A rusty plate was attached to the simple iron cross, engravings barely visible on it. Genesis had to narrow his lids to read:
"Major General Sephiroth, 11th November, 1893 - 8th February, 1920."
It was all that remained of his lover, a low snow-covered hump, an iron cross and a rusty plate. Genesis' fingers gently passed over the engraved name.
Sephiroth was just twenty six when he died.
The realization painfully echoed through his chest as his heart contracted. Genesis thought time had healed the wound or at least crudely stitched with unskilled hand, yet here, standing by the small white hump, he understood that he was wrong.
When Genesis first thought of searching for his lover's grave he wanted to build Sephiroth a memorial and he saved money for it. Standing by his lover's grave, Genesis realized that he wouldn't want those vainglorious symbols. The best tombstone for the Major General was a book he wrote.
Despite the pain in his joints, Genesis kneeled by Sephiroth's grave.
"Sleep peacefully, my beloved," he softly whispered, placing a single white rose onto the white snowy coverlet. A lone tear streamed down his wrinkled cheek.
Suddenly Genesis felt overwhelming peace.
His last dream finally came true.
…Genesis Rhapsodos, former Major General of the Eastern front of the White movement, died peacefully in his bed the following morning. Money he left after his death was enough to build him a sepulcher, yet all he asked for was a modest burial on the same graveyard his lover's body has laid for the last thirty five years. His wish was fulfilled and finally they were reunited again.
The scattered shards of a dead epoch. Lost Generation. Children of war.
Sephiroth and Genesis.
Well… It is as close to real life as I could make it, cruel, harsh and painful as it is. All personalities (besides Seph, Gen, Hollander and Katherine Orlova), places and events are real or very close to reality. Certainly, I was not always precisely accurate. Like Seph and Gen had to be by all demands of that epoch orthodox, but I couldn't imagine them being religious.
Dedicated to the feat of Russian White Officers, almost 90th anniversary of the Great Siberian Ice March and to my dear sphinxofthenile as I have already mentioned. There are things we have no right to forget, like WW1, WW2, Siberian Ice March and even those are among so many more. Yet it pains me to see that with modern tendencies that's all we are doing. Forgetting.
My special thanks to sphinxofthenile, pearlwhite and CNome. Reading your thoughts was an immense pleasure.
And… I guess that should be all.