Blood and Steel
Standard disclaimers apply
Warnings: This is now blatant Shonen-Ai. My muse is gathering her courage to try Yaoi…maybe.
Kougaiji ran a brush through his hair, gazing at the countertop with a contemplative look on his face. Sephiroth had kindly ordered a large parcel of personal things for him, including various toiletries and casual clothes. Looking at the sink in the bathroom and the two separate piles of brushes, colognes and toothpaste made his gut clench and his heart warm unexpectedly. Here he was, Prince of Demons, sharing a bathroom with a man who was courting him. His mother would have pitched a fit.
He sighed and straightened his uniform jacket, making sure his limiters were in place and his rank insignias were on in the right order. A knock on the door pulled him from his thoughts and he turned to find Sephiroth, already in his own leathers, leaning against the frame.
"Here." He said handing a small packet of things towards him. The redhead sent him a questioning look as he took it and unwrapped it.
"Your ID card and residence papers just came through. I had to pull some strings, but those should be enough to cover you for a while. The first set of papers of your proof of residence in Wutai for the last nineteen years. I…sort of took a guess at your age." The General explained.
"I'm two hundred and twenty seven." Said Kougaiji absently as he looked over the various papers. He missed Sephiroth's surprised blink.
"Right. Anyways, the second set is your contract with SOLDIERS, and your training and medical history from the Wutai base. There are some barebones expense records and tax returns also. The next set is your transfer orders to the Midgar base and the last set is your birth certificate and a bank account in your name. I also sort of guessed at your family name, since you introduced yourself as the son of Gyumao, I gave your legal name as Kougaiji Gyumao. Congratulations, you are officially a citizen of Wutai and a certified officer of Shin-Ra's SOLDIERS and you are the first SOLDIER to ever have a primary specialization in hand to hand."
Kougaiji looked up at him, eyes bright as he digested everything he'd been told.
"Thank you." He said as sincerely as he could. "I know this must have taken a great deal of effort on the parts of many people, and I know that this cost you something. I truly appreciate that you've done this for me." He said softly, an interesting mix of pride and embarrassment on his face. Sephiroth returned the smile and then shifted his stance a little, so that he stood straight up, one hand wrapped around his opposite wrist at the small of his back. Kougaiji frowned slightly when the other man's eyes seemed to focus past him.
"There is still the risk of the Turks digging too deeply. I've already spoken to Tseng about it, but Hojo may find out about you through them. The Turks started gathering intel on you the moment you stepped out of my rooms that first time, but that really can't be avoided." Said Sephiroth, still not looking at him.
"It's a risk, I know. I suppose we'll have to deal with it if it becomes an issue." He replied softly, trying to understand the General's demeanor. He'd spent many years with his kingdom's army, but he'd never really been one of them. Some of their mannerisms were echoed in the SOLDIERS he now spent his days with, but some things still confounded him. Why would the General defer to him in such a manner? It almost seemed as if his host was awaiting orders from him. Or perhaps judgment. 'Was that it?' Kougaiji thought, 'Does Sephiroth want my approval of his actions?'
"There is also the issue of the upper management. The Shin-Ra family has been…whimsical…of late." The General continued.
"Sephiroth." Said the prince, commanding the General's eyes to meet his own. When they did, the redhead approached and set a hand on one broad shoulder.
"I trust you. I trust you to know where the danger is and what to do about it. I trust you to do what you must to protect me. I will follow your lead, wherever it may take us. Besides, if things get too rough, I'm pretty sure I've reversed the spells construction well enough to get us out of this dimension if need be. We can even take Zack if you want. Regardless, I trust you. Thank you for trying to warn me. We'll take this one step at a time, alright?"
Sephiroth nodded, his stance relaxing until he was leaning one hip casually against the bathroom counter.
"Now then, who will likely be the first one we'll have to deal with?"
Sephiroth thought about it for a moment before turning to rest fully against the counter and crossed his arms across this chest.
"First will either be the people we pass in the halls, the media hounds calling for interviews or Rufus Shin-Ra calling to demand what the hell we think we're doing."
"Ok. What will be our responses to them?"
Sephiroth sucked in a deep breath as he thought, glancing at Kougaiji when the redhead shifted.
"Well. We have to decide what stage our relationship is at. What are you comfortable with? Do you want to present a casual relationship? Say we're just dating?"
"What will give us maximum exposure?" countered Kougaiji.
"Well. We want the media to be highly interested, but not hounding you. So, probably seriously dating would be good. They'll do a full blown investigation into your entire life history if I tell them I intend to marry you."
"Alright, we need to set a story then." Began Kougaiji, only to be cut off.
"No. The more that I think about this, the more risky it sounds. We won't tell them anything. We'll tell them to leave us alone. We'll deny everything."
"Are you sure that's the best way to go?"
"Yes. We'll deny it, but continue to be seen together. We'll keep up the dates until they confront us with evidence of our relationship. Only then will we give them anything." Said the General, sounding resolute.
"You want to bait their curiosity. Alright. This way when they ask complicated questions we won't have to lie." Agreed Kougaiji.
"Exactly. That leaves the Shin-Ras and our peers. We can be somewhat honest with our close friends, and we'll deny everything to the Shin-Ras. If they push you, stonewall them. If they push me, I'll threaten them."
"Are their rules against this sort of thing?" wondered the prince.
"Technically, yes. Anti-fraternization codes, but that's enforced only to stop favoritism in promotional situations. You've climbed as high as you can go, so it shouldn't be a problem. It's also very rare that the Shin-Ras deny me anything. With public support and my threat, they'll have no choice but to bite their tongues."
"I'm going to tell Zack everything. We can trust him to keep quiet."
Kougaiji nodded and raked claws through his bangs as he thought. He fidgeted slightly, before stilling and facing the general firmly, mentally composing what he wanted to say.
"Sephiroth. Do you…I mean. Are you actually attracted to me? Because…as this progresses, it's going to demand more and more intimacy from us…"
Sephiroth smiled and ran a finger gently along the prince's jaw line.
"Yes Kougaiji, I am very much attracted to you. And you? Do you find me fair?" asked Sephiroth, completely serious and not a little bit nervous as he watched Kougaiji's eyes for his answer.
"Yes." Answered the prince, too shy to actually say that he found the General stunningly beautiful.
"Alright then. We'll just play it by ear and hope to Shiva that Hojo take's no interest." Said Sephiroth, a strange expression on his face as he regarded the Prince.
"What?" asked Kougaiji, turning to glance in the mirror to see if there was something wrong with his face.
"Nothing. We should get going." Said the General, turning and walking away swiftly, his shoulders a little more tense than usual.
Cloud glanced around curiously as he and his platoon-mates stepped into the classroom. This would be the first hand-to-hand class any of the cadet platoons would be taking, and he was highly curious. The room was very large, with thick blue padded mats Velcro-ed together all across the floor.
"It's him!" whispered Palka from behind him as the rest of his platoon trooped in. The red-head they'd seen at the rat-race weeks ago was standing against one wall, watching them as they poured into his classroom.
"Sir!" barked Sergeant Thompson as he saluted the now First Class instructor. "Third Platoon is all present and accounted for."
"Thank you Sergeant." Said the First Class, returning the salute with a smile. He then turned to address the class.
"Please space yourselves evenly across the room. You want to be able to stretch out your arms on either side of you and not touch the hands of the person next to you doing the same." He said. He waited for the cadets to get situated, arms stretching out and bodies moving to accommodate others.
"Welcome to you first hand-to-hand basics course. I'm Lieutenant General Kougaiji Gyumao. You may call me Kougaiji or sir. If you think this class is all about me teaching you how to be badass, you've got another thing coming. You have to learn how to take a beating before you can give one." He surveyed the class, looking for troublemakers. When he found serious eyes staring back at him, he nodded.
"Alright. Let's begin."
"Kou should be teaching right about now." Said Zack absently as he stared at the ceiling, a pencil perfectly balanced under his nose, hands folded behind his head and booted feet on the edge of Sephiroth's desk.
Sephiroth made no comment as he worked on the thick sheaf of papers in front of him, occasionally glancing up to type at his laptop.
"Hey Seph,-" started Zack, but was interrupted by the phone ringing.
"Sephiroth." Said the General as he lifted the phone to his ear.
"Ah, Vice-President…Yes…I see…Really?...I'm afraid I have no idea what you're talking about… No…Hm…Your TURKS must be rather bored to have come up with such a ridiculous story. I don't have the time to pursue…Oh?...Of course, the TURKS are usually very competent. I'm afraid they're mistaken in this instance…I see. Well, I'm sure it will all come to light soon enough, though I never would have thought that the TURKS were such gossip-mongers. Do ask them to be more professional in the future for me will you? Good day Rufus."
Sephiroth put the phone down and went calmly back to his work, but Zack was watching his best friend like a hawk and he caught the slight twitch at the corner of the General's mouth.
"You sly bastard. That was good." He commented, tossing his pencil into the cup on the desk and wandering out with a goofy smile on his face.
End part part 8
To Adel Mortescryche: Zack doesn't know Cloud yet. He isn't First Class yet. This is REALLY early in the time line.