Final Fantasy VII

The Fruits of Jealousy

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters and other elements from the games are not mine. The Fragmented Triangle crew and the story are. I've had the outline for the last part of this story for a while; today I decided to write it around the promptFelony is a gift to men who have everything to lose at 31 Days. I have also attempted to flesh out Sephiroth's and Genesis's conversation during chapter four of Crisis Core, as I have often been curious about what else might have been said. I don't think there are any spoilers, however.

It was becoming more common to see Genesis in Fragmented Triangle's corporate building. And yet no one knew when he would appear. It was almost always late at night, sometimes following a new business move by Fragmented Triangle, sometimes if Genesis felt that Sephiroth and the others were being threatened, and sometimes for seemingly no reason at all.

Dalton had grown adjusted to the winged man's sudden appearances. But not only did he take it all in stride; some part of him enjoyed matching wits with the mysterious creature. Genesis had deserted the hated SOLDIER organization on Gaia, and if Dalton had been able to find him, in the past he would have attempted to recruit Genesis to his side. Now he did not care a great deal. SOLDIER was obliterated. His hatred for Sephiroth and Zack had gone far beyond the Shinra company and their involvement with it.

Genesis recognized that, too, and he did not seem a great deal surprised by it.

"You have carried your grudge to another planet," he observed on one stormy night. Dalton had used to never stay at the building past five, but of late he had been there in the evenings and even into the late hours. Now he was typing away at the laptop, the only lights in the room originating from the screen and from a small table lamp next to it. Genesis was in his usual position, leaning against the wall with his wing extended.

Dalton shrugged, not slowing in his typing. "What of it?" he asked.

Genesis pushed himself away from the wall. "Don't you ever find it pointless?" he mused.

Dalton smirked into his computer screen. "Did you find it pointless, Mr. Rhapsodos?" he returned. "I'm sure we both recall your illogical jealousy of Sephiroth."

Genesis fell silent. Yes, there had been moments, even after he had let himself be consumed by envy and hatred, when he had wondered what on earth he was doing. Something had seemed wrong about the situation. Deep down, he had really known that Sephiroth had not wronged him. Sephiroth had never tried to hold him back. Genesis had allowed himself to think it, to make himself believe it, because it was easier to do that than to accept that it had been his own feelings that had torn their friendship apart.

Sephiroth had tried to reach out to him after that. He had not looked down on Genesis, but had tried, in his quiet way, to let Genesis know that this was not something that should interfere with their caring for each other. When they had next met following Genesis's betrayal, Sephiroth had called Genesis's jealousy "pointless." And of course it had been.

After Zack had left the room to chase the escaping Hollander, Genesis had not planned to remain, either. Sephiroth had told him that he still considered Genesis a friend, and that he was not going to attempt fighting him to subdue and capture him. Genesis had mocked him in response, remarking that Sephiroth thought himself so high above everyone else and that perhaps Sephiroth felt that he was too good to fight Genesis. Then he had said it did not matter; Sephiroth would fall with Shinra while Genesis would rise, free at last.

He still remembered the hurt in Sephiroth's eyes. Sephiroth had asked him if freedom was worth the price. Genesis had smiled before answering.

"The price is a gift to those who have already lost everything else."

Then he had flown away, leaving Sephiroth staring after him.

Now he wondered---was it a gift, or a curse? Or neither? He had created his own cage. He had built it with every instance of his increasing jealousy. He could have torn it down at any time, but instead he had fortified and strengthened it. And after he had begun to lose his mind, he had added gross felonies to the structure. He had not been free at all. He had trapped himself inside.

"If you recognize it was illogical," he said presently, "then I must ask what you think your own feelings are."

Dalton turned to look at him. "Yes," he mused, "I suppose my hatred of the manis pointless. From a certain point of view, that is." His tone was calm and nonchalant. He had mellowed over the years, in some ways. Without Shinra or SOLDIER, his loathing of Sephiroth had become personal. Perhaps somewhat childish, too---but Sephiroth was always managing to foil his plans. And he was keeping Dalton from what he wanted to attain most---the Compass. He still fully believed that Sephiroth either had it or that he knew where it was. Somewhere in Dalton's twisted mind, he wondered what right Sephiroth had to keep him from obtaining the key to the Promised Land. It was a place that he was certain Sephiroth would never gain access.

"Hmm." Genesis studied the older man in thoughtfulness. "In some ways," he decided, "you and I are not so very different."

Dalton blinked. "Oh really?" he said, looking both intrigued and disbelieving. "Whatever do you mean?"

Genesis shrugged. "We both have blamed Sephiroth for our ills," he said. "And yet it's really our own fault. Sephiroth was never the way I thought of him. I was my own condemner. He tried to bring me to my senses, but I refused to see." He looked Dalton in the eyes. "And it's your own actions that are hindering you from the Promised Land."

Dalton's left eye gave the faintest twitch. "If I could locate the Compass, then there would not be anything to worry about," he said. "Sephiroth is hording it for himself."

"Do you really believe that?" Genesis asked. "I doubt Sephiroth has any thought of being able to enter the Promised Land. But it is not his future we are discussing. It's yours." He crossed his arms. "Look at the trail you have left behind you---lies, thievery, murder. . . . Does the end still justify the means?" He paused. "Or do you keep on in this way because now it is the only approach that you remember and know? Have you been lost in the darkness so long that you have forgotten the light?"

Dalton turned away, suddenly uncomfortable. "That's ridiculous. Of course the end still justifies the means," he retorted. "This is the way of life on every world."

"But you blamed Shinra for their atrocities, when you were doing the same kinds of things," Genesis said. "I was the same, after a time." He stared off into the distance. "Do we always become that which we fear and abhor the most?" he mused. "Sephiroth became a monster, which was his greatest fear. However, you and I have done that as well."

Dalton laughed, but it sounded strained. "I have never feared the darkness," he said. "Nor monsters. I always made up my mind to fight against them."

"You chose a strange way to do it," Genesis observed. "Particularly your handling of the Dismal situation. You allowed Broken Circle's agents to detonate the mako reactor and destroy nearly half the village's population. I wonder what they would have thought if they had known that they were all sacrifices in your personal war against Shinra?"

"They were all willing to give their lives for the cause," Dalton said. "They hated Shinra as much as I did."

"But it was fueled by your own actions."

Genesis continued to regard the other in thoughtfulness. "I wonder, at times," he said, "whether you have become jealous of Sephiroth."

"Jealous?" Dalton cried, his tone strangled. He narrowed his eyes, clearing his throat as he leaned back into the chair. "I must say, you are coming up with outlandish ideas, Mr. Rhapsodos. How do you ever explain this one? Sephiroth is my mortal nemesis. I am certainly not jealous of him in any way."

"Perhaps." Genesis never took his gaze from the other. "But Sephiroth has what you never will. He is still widely recognized and greatly respected, even on this world. His business is honest and upright. And he has people who care about and love him, people who would be heart-broken if he was hurt or dead. You have no one. Oh . . . your partnership with the Rakesh brothers is profitable for you, and perhaps they would have some level of concern if something happened to you, but you know as well as I do that it is far from the same thing."

"Bah!" Dalton spun his chair to face the computer screen again. "Such things are only for the weak, Mr. Rhapsodos. I most certainly am not jealous of what Sephiroth has. I will stop at nothing to tear it all away from him."

"So he can be miserable, as you are?" Genesis supplied.

Dalton's hands froze over the keyboard for a brief moment. Then he began to type at a frantic pace, his word processor filling with text. At last he slowed, clearing his throat as he responded.

"You are interesting to converse with, Mr. Rhapsodos. And I can't control what you think. But to say that these latest concepts are ludicrous is being too kind."

"Then there is no truth to them?" Genesis said, unabashed.

"Not at all."

Genesis smirked in the darkness. "Very well, then. I believe I have said all that I had intended to. I will be taking my leave."

"Yes," Dalton said. "That would be a good idea. I'm quite busy tonight."

Genesis turned, walking to the doorway and slipping out into the dimly lit corridor. Behind him, Dalton resumed his typing. He almost sounded as though he was trying to break the keyboard. The sound echoed along with the heavy rain pattering against the windows. In some ways, it was hard to tell which sound was which.

Genesis smirked again. He knew he had struck a nerve.