A/N: Again, thanks to anyone who has reviewed and please continue to do so!
I havent updated in a long time and I was confused writing this xD But anyway...tell me if it sucks (or doesnt).
Reno gnawed at the green straw sticking out of his drink; he'd had to use one since Tseng had punched him in the face and mangled his mouth. He hadn't been fired, which was a good thing, but he wasn't much better off. They had placed a tracking device inside his head – yes, inside – to keep track on him, in the labs, and unless he slit his head open and dug around with his hands, there was nothing he could do about it. He'd found out that if he hit the device against a wall, a rather painful shock wracked through his brain.
"Think we better head back." That was Rude. Reno grunted.
"Head back for more guard duty? I'd rather not. That's SOLDIER work, yo."
He shifted in his seat and finished his drink. He looked around for Elena before remembering that she had gone back to headquarters an hour ago, at least. When had he begun to be so distracted all the time, anyway? Oh yeah. When he followed Rufus to that backwater town because he was mad at the Turk commander for unceremoniously dumping him. Now said commander was pissed at him, too. And Rude followed…why? Well, he owed the bald Turk a favour now.
"Let's go back yo," he sneered after a bit of thought. Rude raised an eyebrow but said nothing as he followed his partner out of the bar. They didn't see the two SOLDIERs stepping in the very same bar, completely unarmed, and they headed back to the Shinra building in silence.
Zack chose a relatively clean table and sat down, watching as Genesis did so as well. The red-headed First class wore his usual red coat, which was thrown over the mandatory SOLDIER uniform, while Zack preferred to change into 'normal people' clothes. But Genesis enjoyed bragging about his position in Shinra and intimidating civilians.
A young woman came to take their order, and Zack snorted when he heard Genesis order the girliest drink on the entire menu with a brilliant smile. He simply ordered a beer and checked his PHS to see if Aerith had called. She hadn't. Damn…
The girl came back a while later with their drinks, and Zack eyed the pink and yellow thing that was placed in front of the beaming Genesis. It even smelled a little bit like roses and strawberries blended together.
"Are you openly gay now?" he mumbled after swallowing a mouthful of beer. It tasted awful.
"What are you talking about?" Genesis huffed, swirling the straw through the drink. "I won't come here with you anymore if you just keep making jibes about people's sexual preferences."
"If it weren't to get out of the building at any cost, I wouldn't have agreed to come, so count your blessings."
"This is a blessing?"
The waitress came back with a bowl of chips, dumped it in front of them and left, frowning. She must have heard them talking.
"I'm surprised our General didn't tear the Doctor to pieces, actually," Genesis smirked, "The President should be glad he's still alive."
"He won't be doing much with only one arm and a mangled leg," Zack pointed out.
Zack wasn't rooting for Hojo or anything, but he wasn't sure beating Shinra's best scientist for four hours was such a good idea either. He never thought much before he spoke or acted, but even he would have kept his temper in check. Then again, he wasn't there when it happened. He hadn't seen Cloud frighteningly close to dying in a tank of glowing, poisonous mako.
"That's good. All he ever did was hurt people, tear them open or torture them. They can still use his brain but now he'll have to rely on other, hopefully more sane scientists to actually do it. Don't look so grim, Zack, you're on break."
Genesis smiled and downed his drink in a few seconds, leaving only a bit of juice at the bottom of the pear-shaped glass and the straw leaning sideways against the rim.
"Cloud wasn't happy," said Zack.
"Is he ever? He's always frowning or blushing whenever I see him. What awful care you must be taking of him, Zack," he scolded with a shake of his head; Zack felt his face turn red and gripped the end of the table tightly. He'd forgotten, when he'd asked Genesis to tag along, that they just did not get along.
"Maybe that's because he doesn't like you. That would explain the frowning," he spat.
"And the blushing?"
Sephiroth watched as the paperwork was dragged out of the room by his new secretary, her long ponytail swishing behind her as she heaved. There was a lot of it. Even he, the great General of Shinra, was hit by the destructive force that was President Shinra's rage; he was assigned double paperwork duty and all his missions were cancelled. But that wasn't the worse part of his punishment – he was forbidden to see Cloud for an entire month. The poor SOLDIER was confined to a special wing on the other side of the building until Sephiroth's penitence ended. It was a shame, too, because he'd been looking forward to his first mission as a Shinra SOLDIER, and now he would have to wait, alone and confused, no doubt. He'd insisted that they didn't have to lock Cloud up, but the President laughed and said:
"It's easier to lock him up than you."
He found, as he observed his little mechanical clock, that he had some time to kill for the first time in days. In his spare time, he usually went somewhere with Zack or Genesis – Angeal never being one for outings – but both were gone already, leaving him behind. So instead he opened the lower drawer of his desk, which was opened only by a key he kept on his person, and pulled out a dozen or so glossy pictures that had been taken only days ago. He'd sent them to be developed as soon as they had been shot, but as per usual, his errand boy (the Puppy) had forgotten and so they'd only actually arrived at the picture shop last night. He hadn't properly enjoyed them yet.
A dozen shots of the wonderful Professor Hojo in various uncomfortable positions, sometimes tied down, his every pore screaming "get me the FUCK out of here!". He wished there had been someone to take the photographs while he was beating the shit out of the doctor, to see the full extent of his pain, for what he'd done to him and to Cloud.
He was interrupted by a dry knock on his office door, and he waited for his secretary to open the door; he quickly realized that she was off delivering paperwork and got up, pulling the door open violently. He was pissed off to find himself face-to-face with a tall blonde man wearing a white suit and a smug look on his face. He could sense more than see the four Turk not too far off, clutching onto their guns for dear life.
"Fuck off, Rufus," he spat. Since his little adventure, Rufus had fallen out of any grace his father ever given him and he, as well as his Firsts, no longer had anything to fear from him. The only reason the Turks stuck around was because the President was an even bigger asshole.
"And I thought we were on such good terms…" sighed the ex-vice-president.
He saw Tseng roll his eyes from the corner; he was the only one who wasn't practically pointing his gun at the General. Unlike his underlings, he had a brain, and frequently used it like he was supposed to.
"What do you want?" he asked when he noted that Rufus wasn't going anywhere.
"I wanted to say that I'm…" he paused and a weird, pained look – like something was being shoved down his throat – crossed his face, "sorry for what happened to Private Strife. I didn't mean to harm your…toy."
When he saw Sephiroth screaming 'MURDER' with his eyes, he began to sweat and panic. He pointed to the Turks with a shaking hand and the four men froze.
"It's THEIR fault, Sephiroth! They knew who Cloud was and they didn't tell me, you see, so it's all their fault. Please don't kill me…KILL THEM!"
Apparently the four Turks decided to reconsider where their loyalties lay, because after yelling indignantly they left, claiming that they didn't care what happened to him and wished Sephiroth all the luck and lack of mercy in the world. Rufus actually started to cry.
"It's not just about Cloud, sir. If you'll remember, many good and honourable soldiers died because of you, and they happened to be my men, and not yours. As you can see, your father left you to rot, which is more than you deserve, the Turks have left you alive and I suggest you get the fuck out before I decide to send you to the Lifestream regardless of whom you will annoy to death there," he snapped before slamming the door closed in the blonde's face. Wow was he ever proud of himself that the man was still alive.
He went to bed soon after, and when he woke up, he was surprised to find that his apartment smelled of bacon, eggs and toast; his caterer didn't do breakfast, so he usually stuck to bland cornflakes and questionable – at best – orange juice. He briefly wondered who had gotten in (his door required a password or special keycard) as he made his way to the kitchen. When he saw Cloud moving around the stove in pyjama pants and nothing else, he turned to go back to bed and wake up properly.
"Sephiroth…? Where are you going?" the soft voice asked. He turned to see Cloud clutching a plastic spoon, smiling crookedly.
"Nowhere," he mumbled, slightly confused, "Did I sleep three weeks?"
Cloud made a face and turned to scramble the eggs before they burned.
"I don't think so…" he mused.
Before he could say anything else, a plateful of bacon, eggs and toast was shoved under his nose by a smiling SOLDIER…SOLDIER!
"You got your mako shot," he pointed out a bit colder than he wanted. He remembered his own: the white-walled lab, the cold table, the huge needle, and the pain. And then there was Hojo's smile.
Cloud winced too when he heard that. He subconsciously rubbed a spot on his left arm, like it was itching.
"Yeah, on Monday. You never told me-" he began.
"How much it hurts. I know. I'm sorry."
He remembered telling himself, weeks before the exam, that he'd be there for the first injection. It had completely slipped his mind with all that had happened during the exam, and now he felt his stomach flip and twist so much that he no longer felt any hunger. But he ate some anyway, because Cloud had made it for him…
"It's fine. They anticipated it, so they barricaded the door to the labs so you couldn't get in. Oh," he gasped all of a sudden, "I saw Hojo. I'd heard about it but…" he frowned, "was it necessary?"
"It was." He smiled fondly at the memory, Hojo's screams echoing in his head.
Sephiroth froze with his fork half sticking in his mouth. He knew he couldn't have heard correctly, and set the fork down slowly. Cloud looked so…serious, but sad at the same time. He was wringing his hands in his pyjama bottoms, looking anywhere but directly at the General. His eyes were as brilliantly blue as usual, but swimming with salty, unshed tears.
"Pardon?" he cleared his throat.
"If I make you lose control like that, I'll disappear from your life! It's…I mean…you're the General, you can't afford to lose your head. Besides, I'm just…you know, trouble for you. Genesis…he said that too - that I was bad for you. He's right…"
Genesis. His eyebrow twitched. Why did the commander insist on ruining his life? Was it a hobby? (A/N: Bad Genesis…) A passion, an interest, something he thrived on? He even went as far as to put this garbage in the head of the only person he loved. Probably smiled when he said it too.
"I really wanted to meet you, and Zack knew, and he – kindof – set us up. I'm glad for that, really, but…I'm just a 3rd class SOLDIER, no more than a nobody. I'm not-"
Both angry and sad, the General reached over the counter and grabbed the back of his lover's head, pulling him over and kissing him hard on the lips, effectively shutting him up. He might have wanted to a little bit as well…When he pulled back, the tears were gone from Cloud's eyes and the pain had been replaced by uncertainty.
"Don't say stupid things like that again, understand?" he commanded without a blink, never looking away from those eyes.
"It's not stupid," his lover huffed.
"I'm going to be General whether I lose my temper over your tormentors or not, because without me Shinra is just…an electric company. Nobody can run the military like I can," he smirked while talking, "And please ignore Genesis. He's not correct in the head, Cloud."
Cloud smiled a little at that and began eating his own – and now very cold – breakfast. Sephiroth watched him eta, getting an odd feeling of satisfaction to know that Cloud was eating his food, which he had provided. He thought about getting him a present for no reason if only to have him happy.
"To tell you the truth, I really didn't want to have to…you know…" he blushed brightly, "leave."
"You'll never have to," Sephiroth assured him as he dumped the dirty dishes into the sink. He was glad it hadn't escalated into a fight of some kind…