Authors note: And yet another chapter leaves my electronic pen. Usual disclaimer- don't own, don't profit, don't sue. I apologize, for this taking so long. Thank you, Kenshin....... It's OOC ... maybe someday Angeal will tell me his side. If I get lucky. On with the romance!

Chapter 7 : Eyes Behind The Sword

Note from Jutah Larias-

I began to read the journals that Braxx and I brought back from that house the evening after we got back. I began to get to know both Angeal and Zack, and all the other players in this drama from the all too real past. And I uncovered secrets about Zack Fair and his true love- many secrets. Too many to set down here, and many questions left to answer. But I want to tell this story, because it illustrates how deep their bond eventually became and because it is one of the many events that helped to build it. Is it the real truth, or just a dream? I have copied it here, just as I found it.

J.L. Anno 35

xxxxxxx

" I killed my mother with my own hands, Zack." He began to shiver then, I thought. He was silent for a minute, at which point it dawned on me that Angeal was crying. I don't think I ever saw him cry after that day, or before it. At least not in that way. "I'm not invincible, Zack. I'm not everything, even if I am your teacher. Moreover, I keep learning again and again that I can't save anyone, or everyone that I love from pain." His words still haunt me to this day.

No matter what happened, I knew that Angeal would always come back to me. At times he would be bold and waltz right in the door, quick to grab me in an embrace if the coast was clear. At other times he would come silently, with stealth, like the little boy I knew that part of him still was. The part that would never admit that, however, only let me see it in his eyes- sometimes.

I would wait forever- if he would let me. He always lectured me about duty, and honor. He insisted that I fulfill my Shinra duty first. There was an incident that happened soon after Gillian died. It's part of what brought us together. I want to write it all here because I know that I won't live forever. Because I love Angeal, and always will, forever. For you, Seme, always. And for the world.

xxxxx

It happened on one of our mutual routine missions to Wutai. Angeal and I were sent there as part of a temporary occupational force. The objective was to quell minor uprisings that had occurred between former Wutai troops and a hidden resistive faction that was proving difficult to eradicate.

When I heard Genesis and Angeal had been seen fighting, and that he had been fatally wounded, I didn't stop to think. In the middle of the night, I blindly ran out into the rain, to the road. I have no idea why, to this day I was compelled to do this. Angeal likes to joke that it proved my love for him even then. He likes to pretend that for him it isn't quite that way. I think he knows that his eyes tend to give him away. I was set on from behind, and smothered before I had a chance to even grab my sword. The last thing I remember before everything went black was the hiss of what sounded like voices- almost like the sound genesis copies make.

I awoke in a room that was part of a house somewhere. I was alive, and miraculously, I was unhurt. It was sometime in the morning, and I could feel a soft breeze coming in through a window which, while open, was barred. My head ached a little, but I had been made comfortable. So the objective wasn't to hurt me. At least not yet.

I had to give my captors credit. Whomever they were, they had taken care to remove both my sword and the materia I was carrying. I had also been stripped of my soldier uniform, and it had been replaced with an old style kimono. It was dark blue and bore no indicative markings and was quite comfortable. For a moment I considered the possibility that I was dreaming, or that this might be one of Angeal's strange ideas. While it was like him to play with my emotions, it wasn't like him to risk breaking protocol.

When I stepped outside the doorway, the man who had had me kidnapped was standing there. He was older than Angeal, and thinner. He had shoulder length brown hair , and a face that looked a little like his. But mostly he bore a passing resemblance to Gillian, Angeals' mother. He was unarmed, a thing that I found surprising. As I took note of my surroundings, my eyes caught sight of the ocean. It was plain we were nowhere near someplace like Costa Del Sol.

"If you're thinking about trying to swim, the nearest continent is two or three days in any direction." the man said. " Why are you doing this?!", I demanded. "Why did you bring me here? You know sooner or later Angeal will find this place." "That is my intention. Your lover murdered my sister, Gillian, with his own hands!" " I wouldn't underestimate my training if I were you." I replied. " I am perfectly aware of the methods that Shinra employs in its creation of monsters, which is why I took the precaution of removing your weapons. You are subject to mako injections, correct?" He had me there, I'll admit.

"We're not monsters," I retorted. " So what if exposure to mako makes a person faster, stronger, and more capable? It merely serves to enhance the chances of success." The man laughed.

"Your naivete is typical. Angeal thought the same thing for the first couple of years after he left home. But then Gillian never told him the entire truth about anything, and I'm sure that Shinra hasn't. And I wonder what Shinra would do if they knew about his...affection for you-and you for him, Zackary Fair."

How did he know about me and Angeal? The thought of that bothered me. But at least now I knew who he was. So this was Orion. Angeal had only mentioned this uncle to me once briefly during training. I knew virtually nothing about him, apart from the fact that he used to work for Shinra in an executive capacity.

"I don't know how much or little you mean to him, Zackary Fair, but we shall find out soon enough. As far as I can tell you're his most important student , so you may have some passing value to Shinra. As to anything else I shall have to wait, as my nephew was never that expressive, even as a boy. We'll see just how much of an angel he really is."

xxxxxx

Later, while I was locked in my room cell at night, my thoughts turned to Angeal and what his mother meant. "Gillian." I thought. "She is responsible for the traits that allowed Angeal his wing. Wings. Angels' wings. His mothers death is a scar that he will always carry. Could I die for him, the way she had? If I were to, would he remember me always?" I wished he were there for me to ask, instead of being imprisoned where I was. I knew such thoughts did no good for someone in my circumstances, but I still had them. I knew that he cared for me, but I didn't know how he might feel in return. I did know that for me, my life would be vacant with his absence, and that I needed him the way a growing plant needs sunshine, wind, and rain. But I had not dared hope to tell him out of fear that I might lose him one day.

That night I had a dream, that Angeal had brought me to visit his mothers grave site. I'm not sure why I found myself alone, but, after lighting the traditional banoran incense, I prayed. "Gillian, I am sorry for what happened. Please know that I love Angeal, and that you should leave him to me. I know that I could never replace you in his heart. He loved you very much, and I know that you loved him. I promise that I will love and support him as best as I can, no matter what may come." When I awoke, I was filled with sadness.

Orion was still argumentative later that morning. "What kind of angel would strangle his own mother, the person who gave him life?!". Orion demanded of me. " Is that what being a member of soldier really means?! How can you defend an organization that directs its own operatives to destroy their homes and families?! How blind can you or anyone else be?!!". I found myself slamming my arms against the metal bars of my cell in frustration. Why wouldn't he listen to me?

"Damn You!" I screamed at Orion. "Angeal loved his mother like no one else on this earth! Finding out the truth about himself almost killed him! He would have done anything for her! And he suffered too! Terribly! Do think for a minute that taking the life of his mother was something he expected, or wanted to do?!" I was almost in tears from the anger and the frustration of not being able to reach my captor. "Did you know that as she lay dying, she told Angeal that she forgave him?". There. A secret was out. Would anything change by my revealing this? Apparently Orion remained unfazed.

"We're going to the beach," Orion said, " my operatives have informed me that Angeal was in a town on an island north of here making inquiries. With luck, he should be here fairly soon. I intend to fight him, Zack Fair. If you attempt to stop me I will kill you in front of him. I can, and I will. If it will make him feel as I do, so much the better. You've seen what I can do in the practice yard, so I would wait it out if I were you."

He was right. I had seen him practice. And he was likely to be a strong opponent. He had a very different fighting style that, while appearing chaotic, distracted enough so that critical blows could be landed before an opponent had the chance to react. I watched him kill several nasty monsters his henchmen brought in and deliberately starved – ones I had troubles with in real life as opposed to the training rooms- with ease.

I was weak from lack of mako, or I might have tried to fight. A couple of times I did think about it, but something held me back. I had been forced to examine my feelings. I couldn't risk my own life without knowing how Angeal really felt, is what it amounts to. And as Orion and I waited on the beach that day, him on the sand and myself hidden behind an outcropping of rock-I couldn't help but hazard a guess as to if I was doing the right thing.

And suddenly, there he was. Barefoot in black, walking up the beach in nonchalance, as if unaffected by his surroundings or the weather. In that moment he was both the most beautiful and frightening thing to me. I wanted to run to him, to tell him to stop. In that moment I was almost ready to offer up my own life. Almost. But I remained glued to the spot, unable to speak. As always, Angeal carried the Buster Sword and moved with almost effortless grace, a thing that I have both come to love about him.

"It's been a long time, Orion." Angeals' eyes were dark, but gave nothing away. "So, the wandering monster has finally found his courage at last. Tell me, nephew- did you feel anything as you put your mother to the sword? I'm sure your father felt nothing." " My father is dead." Angeal growled. " I'm not speaking of the one who raised you. You know that. I'm speaking o f the man whom we both know provided the-" "Don't say his name! He's not my father!". "Then what is he then, apart from one of those who helped to create a monster?!" Orion shouted.

"His experiments led to the murder of my only beloved sister- at the hands of her own son! Is that what the meaning of soldier honor is? The right to murder?!" "You were there too, Orion. What did you, or anyone else do to try and stop her? You made your choices too, all those years ago, the same way that I made mine. I didn't come here to fight you, I came here to find Zack."

At that moment my legs found their strength, and I was able to stand up from behind the rocks.

"Be careful, Angeal, he told me he means to kill you." The moment he caught sight of me, and realized that I was o.k., something behind his eyes flashed. It's hard to describe what I saw there. It was almost as if he were seeing something past me on the horizon he didn't expect, and then he seemed to snap back to the present.

"Don't worry, pup. There is nothing to fear." Angeal said, as he turned towards Orion. Orion unsheathed his blade, one to rival Sephiroths' own masamune, and struck. I have never seen Angeal fight in the manner he did that day on the beach away from Costa Del Sol. He moved with a fluid, ancient grace that was superfluous. The two twisted and moved over the sand like butterflies as they parried, dodged, engaged again and again. But I could see that the hysteria that I had witnessed, the guilt, had left the eyes of Angeal. He was whole again; and in place of the guilt lay new strength.

"You are a monster! You are nothing but a paid Shinra thug, and you deserve to die like one!" Orion cried. " How many people will you murder in their name in order to hide their lies?! Murderer of your own mother! I will see to it that you are punished!"

A critical blow to the chest, and Angeal fell to the sand, gasping. "I no longer fear death, Orion. But to live or not is a choice I no longer possess. I live for today and for the answer that was given to my prayer, and the chance to one day avenge my mother. I am sorry, uncle, if my actions are responsible for the anger and hatred you feel. Whatever becomes of me will have little impact." And then Angeal did something both terrible and amazing. He laid down the buster sword. He knelt at the feet of his uncle.

"If offering you my life will end the violence that has destroyed our family and threatens the rest of the planet with destruction, then so be it." I could stand no more. I tore from the brush and threw myself against Angeals back, putting myself in the perfect position to take the blow. The blow did not come. I became aware that I was shaking and sobbing silently as I gripped Angeal so hard I thought my limbs would break. My only thought in that moment was "If he must die, then let Orion take me too. I'm yours, Angeal, one with you. Forever." A thought I dared not voice, but swore that I would if I might live.

The blow never came. And then Angeal was attempting to stand on his feet with me getting in the way. It took him a minute or two to snap out of his battle trance. When he did he seized me in a crushing embrace which nearly took away my breath. It's hard for me to describe exactly what I think flashed from behind his eyes just then. I was afraid, it's true. But pushing me beyond that was the impact of the scene that I had just witnessed. And love.

Orion had vanished, as silently as he had arrived when he first abducted me. When we entered the compound, it was as if all human life had vanished without a trace, leaving the two of us behind. It was eerie, as if time had stopped and the world no longer seemed eager to find us.

"Thank you, Zack." he murmured. " I was so close to killing him. You have no idea how my mother suffered."

When we entered the bath house Angeal staggered slightly, and sat down. It was then that I noticed he was bleeding. I was able to find clean gauze and simple medical supplies in a cabinet. When I returned Angeal stripped to the waist . He had managed to wet his shirt and had pressed it against the wound. "Let me." I said, even as his eyes protested. "Please."

That he allowed me to touch him- to wipe the blood and grit away, to stitch and dress the wound without interruption- honored me with his trust. He winced a couple of times during the stitching process, but otherwise kept his thoughts to himself. "Could you heat some water for me, pup? I'd like to wash my hair." He began to strip down so that he could bathe. Thankfully the coals in the stove were still glowing. Careless, leaving behind a fire like that.

Angeal slid into the water and just let his body float. I knew that his body had some faster ability to heal on the surface, but that fact did not apply to serious wounds. He chose not to use potions for the same reason he didn't always use healing materia- stunting of growth. As a result he had many small scars on his body. It was unlike my own, which hardly bore traces of all that I had seen so far. He lovingly calls me his alabaster cherub much to my embarrassment, as a result, when we are alone.

When the water was ready I brought it over to where Angeal was sitting, and mixed it with some cold water in a basin. "May I?" I asked quietly. "Yes pup, you may." His hair was fine and always a little coarse to the touch, but became like silk when wet. I massaged his scalp gently, and when I began to rinse it I swear I thought heard him let out something almost like a purr. He really did have a lot of sand and dust in his hair. "Occupational hazard", he called it. Sephiroth had more than several other names for it and for once I was glad he wasn't there.

Once he was toweled off, we made our way towards the house where I had been held. I was more than eager to take a bath and find my missing uniform but Angeal said those could wait for a bit. He wanted to make sure things were safe first. Once the fort was secure, Angeal decided that he wanted to lie down for a bit. It almost made me laugh, even though it wasn't funny. But it would allow me time for a bath, and a chance to make us both some food.

I did try to find my uniform. But it was not to be found. There were no other clothes left in the place either aside from what I woke up in when I arrived. Was this Orions idea of a joke? Part of a secret plan? Angeal has sworn to me since that I must have been in one of my bouts of obsessive puppy focus disorder. He refuses to discuss it any more.

The kitchen of the place didn't contain anything terribly fancy. I was able to scrounge up some rice and pickled vegetables, and bonito. There was an icebox that had a couple eggs, and, oddly enough, a earthenware jug of rather good sake in it. I debated whether or not I should bring the sake upstairs, but knowing Angeal, he'd probably make me go and get it if I mentioned it. So I took it upstairs anyway.

Angeal was lying on the bed as naked as the day he was born. And for once, he really was asleep. His head was turned slightly to the right, as if he had been looking out on the ocean. His left arm lay at an angle to his head. It was almost eerie because everything around the two of us was so peaceful. He did not open his eyes as I entered and laid the tray and the other things down on the dresser that served as a table. As I did so my balance suddenly shifted and the kimono slipped down my shoulder.

As I turned, I heard Angeal growl and before I could move his lips were buried against my bared neck. "You smell delicious!" he snarled as he pressed himself against me, his hands finding the sensitive spots under my kimono. " So much for rest and recuperation." I teased as I tried to squirm out of his grasp. As usual, I failed utterly. Angeal had found the spot on my neck and my knees were in danger.

"I need you inside me, now that it's just us. I'm tired of right and wrong. Fuck honor, wear, tear and rust!" I murmured in his ear. " I want to be with you as we've never been- because I love the wildness inside you."Angeal buried his lips in neck, again nipping the supple flesh. A small moan escaped me and my knees gave out. "I hear what you say," Angeal hissed in my ear. " And although the words are there, I think that I will only truly understand them when I hear you scream those words. And you will scream, pup."

We made love that afternoon. It was completely different from anything the two of us have done before or since. I'm not sure where I was all of the time; I know that I was in danger of leaving my body to fly at least twice. I remember moaning the words "Yours forever, always", as he demanded a response by growling the word "Mine?" in my ear. The words only served to increase his passion, But in the end he held me close and tight, as if he never wanted to let go. And I wasn't about to let him. In that moment there was no Shinra; no monsters, no corrupt renegade scientists with twisted agendas. If we were lost, it was willingly and together. And a bottle of good sake was put to excellent use, Angeal says. *

Later, as we managed to pull ourselves together enough to want to move, Angeal surprised me with what he had to say. "You did well, today, pup. If you weren't as proficient with a sword as you are, I'd say you'd be in line for a medic. And just between you and I- this is one scar that I won't mind. But you were also damned stupid. You put yourself in great danger for no reason. I'm concerned because you were so upset.

"I was afraid," I said, "of losing you." There it was. "I'm not going anywhere, pup." He said, and held me close. "I love you, Angeal." I whispered gently, even though part of me wanted to shout it to the world. " And I love you, Zack." For the first time in a long while, he had called me by my name. He moved from the bed then and fished around in his gear for something.

He told me to sit up and to close my eyes. I felt something cold circling my neck and heard a delicate clink as it locked into place. "All right pup, you can open them." Angeal said. Around my neck was a loose choker of silver chain, from which dangled a single magnificent Leviathan's Tear. I felt my eyes start to well up.

" You may take it off only when dress protocol demands it. Otherwise, I want you to be sure to leave it on." " Never, seme, " I whispered back. "It's beautiful." I found myself shaking, just a little. It was official, I was his.

xxxx

Neither of us have seen of Orion since that day. Angeal hasn't been able to trace him beyond a certain point. The whole thing reeks of yet more Shinra intrigue, a thing which I am beginning to find rather annoying. He and Sephiroth are in a secret bidding war with several somebodies over the ownership of the abandoned property. They won't say who. Things are pretty crazy around here these days but I've finally learned to adjust. Just as long as I have Angeal.

Zack

xxxxxx

Postscript from Jutah Larias-

Zack did visit the ruined village of Banora shortly before his untimely death at the hands of the Shinra army. There he found the approximate place where the Hewley home once stood and built a grave, which he covered with many flowers. He also constructed a beautiful marker from the remnants of banoran apple branches as well. Braxx and I found the remains of it when we explored. But my duty too has changed. Tomorrow Braxx and I go in search of Cloud Strife, whom we have both learned, though aged, still lives. I hope to return what is his to him unread.

J.L – Anno 35

xxxxxx

Zack: Oh my god. That was...I look like...GAH.... soooo uke! (dies of embarrassment)

Angeal: I like you in a kimono, pup. ( *growls* Pulls Zack over)

Cloud: Now that you know what it feels like, you won't be so quick with the jokes!

Zack: At least I dressed myself, chocobutt!

Aerith: Zack, I never knew you and Cloud had the same taste in lounge-wear! It really brings out the mako blue in your eyes!

Zack : (glares at Aerith in embarrassment again)

Angeal: What about me?

Aerith: You're more of a black and orange-red autumn type.

Angeal: (sighs with relief)

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*- Potential Likely Future SMUT ALERT to be posted elsewhere if demanded.

XD