AN: This is the last chapter. I'm sorry that it's taken so long for me to write this, but I've really enjoyed writing the entire fic. Thank you for all your support
Warnings: A bit of a rollercoaster of a chapter, language
Summary: 25 years old, and the world they've spent a quarter of a century building falls apart.
Genesis stretched, waking slowly within Angeal's arms. He was warm, and had the other against him. This was where he belonged, where he felt at his most happy. It was where he had been meant to be for his entire life. He tilted his head, seeing the glowing numbers laughing at him. It was only 4 am. He groaned softly, squirming out from Angeal's hold to bathe. He always tried to wash at the start and end of every day, it made him feel clean, free. It reminded him that he was no longer in the labs. As he stood, a burst of pain shot through his shoulder, making him double over in agony. He bit his lip hard. He wanted to scream, to beg Angeal for help, but the other needed the chance to rest.
He made his way to the bathroom, limping and staggering, face drawn. As he saw his wan reflection, he saw a blob behind him, and he stumbled, making it move. As he stared into the mirror, he could make out the shape of a wing, stretched out wide. He laughed nervously at the ridiculousness of it all. He must have been far more tired than he had thought.
His laughter died on his lips as he turned his head and was met by the messy black shock of feathers. He felt his knees give way and tumbled to the floor, wing outstretched behind him, part of him. He drew his body up into a ball, whimpering, tears spilling from his eyes as he rocked. He was a monster. A freak. The thought of going back out to Angeal, of showing the other what he had found, made him feel sick. Angeal deserved better than a deformed monster.
Genesis was too lost within his tears to register the firm tread of bare feet behind him, and his wing flapped in panic when a voice he knew, the voice of his love spoke from behind him.
Genesis whimpered, bringing his wing up to cover his face, ashamed and humiliated that the other could see him like this. He felt monstrous and disgusting.
There was a gasp, as Angeal reached out towards the wing, but didn't actually make contact.
"Does that hurt?"
"It... it did when it came out." Genesis answered, voice calm and almost too precise, as though he were giving a formal report. "It does not now."
"May I touch it?" Angeal asked, voice soft and concerned.
That question nearly floored Genesis. He'd been prepared for a lot of things, but a tender question like that was not one of them. He almost felt dizzy. He nodded, feeling as though he were moving his brain through treacle.
Angeal's fingers caressed the feathers tenderly, earning a soft wave of delight which ran through the redhead.
"It's alright Genesis. Just trust me. I will make it alright." He leant, kissing the other on the cheek. He felt proud as Genesis tilted his head so that the next time, they kissed on the lips.
"I can't stay here." Genesis said simply, voice surprisingly calm considering how he felt inside. "They will experiment on me. I will go back to the labs. Angeal, I cannot face going to the labs, I'm sorry. I have to leave."
Angeal nodded slowly, kissing his forehead.
"I'll come with you."
"Are you sure?" Genesis's voice shook, full of nerves.
For a moment, Angeal glanced away. He frowned a little.
"I will speak to puppy."
Genesis flinched at that, feeling like he had been stabbed. Here he was, in pain, a monster, with a wing, no longer human, and Angeal was worrying over his little pet. It made him feel sick. He wanted to scream and curse at the boy, but knew in his heart that it would have little effect.
"Angeal, forget the precious pup. I need you. Now. You can't ignore that. I know you can't. Don't let me down." At the last four words, his voice dropped, suddenly uncertain.
Angeal held him to his chest, careful not to crush or damage the wing.
"I won't let you down Genesis. If you need me to be beside you, I will be, no matter what the cost, for eternity. I swear this to you."
Genesis collapsed into the other's embrace, so relieved he could scarcely make out the other's words. Slowly a phrase filtered down into his fuzzy mind.
"Go home to Gillian." Genesis's eyes shot open and he looked up at the other, nodding quickly. He'd been happy there, as a child, and had been taken from her against his will. It would be a way of returning home.
Angeal saw his love's delight, and knew he had made the right choice. He moved away, preparing for the journey almost desperately, with exaggerated precision.
One of the hardest things was always going to be saying goodbye to the pup. Whilst Angeal had his own life, and knew the pup had other friends, Angeal felt responsible for the boy. The rumours going around about the pup's involvement with a certain general certainly did not put the man's mind at rest. If anything, it left him more concerned than he was before. But Angeal knew that it would be dishonourable to leave without telling Zack where they were headed, and so he went to find him.
Zack's room was deserted, though the detritus the young man seemed to generate was strewn everywhere, transforming a standard SOLDIER room into a home. Angeal felt relief rising inside him, not sure he could face the betrayal in his pup's eyes when he said goodbye. He fetched a pen and began to write.
"Zack, I am afraid I can no longer remain within ShinRa, and so you will not see me again. But I shall watch from a distance as you rise through ShinRa's ranks. I truly am proud of all you have achieved, and all you are. You are an honourable SOLDIER, and a fine friend. I am sorry to leave like this, and I will always hold you dear." He put the letter on the boy's desk, signing it and brushing away tears.
"I'm sorry Zack." He whispered as he turned and walked away from him.
Angeal and Genesis both shouldered their bags, heading towards the exit. This was it, the experiments were over, and the side effects would be dealt with. They would find happiness in their own way. Hand in hand, they approached the door.
Sephiroth stepped out in front of them, frowning angrily and with his sword drawn. He glared at the two of them.
"Where are you going?" He asked, feeling anger rising in his throat.
Angeal stepped forwards to face this challenge, sheltering his love.
"The experiments...have had another effect. Genesis feels like a monster, and I have to rescue him. We are leaving ShinRa, and finding somewhere safe, away from what has happened here. I ask that you look after the pup for me, and stop him from hating us."
Sephiroth took a deep breath, considering what they were saying. He could see the fear shining in Genesis's eyes, and realised he had caused it. Despite everything, it made sense to him that somehow his friend just couldn't cope with ShinRa.
"Maybe it'll just be a holiday, and you'll come back." Genesis opened his mouth to protest but Sephiroth continued. "I will find help for whichever problems you are having."
Genesis left his mouth opened, stunned by how much Sephiroth had changed. The man who had once feared doing anything that wasn't allowed was persuading them to break the rules and escape while they could. He ran forwards, clinging to Sephiroth, and feeling Angeal's arms wrap around both of them. They stood like that for a few moments, enjoying each other's company, before Genesis pulled away, kissing Angeal's cheek.
"It's time to go." He squeezed Angeal's hand, and the two of them walked from the building.
- The End -