First off, I would like to thank everyone that has read and reviewed and apologize for taking so long. Since some people don't sign in, or I don't get around to actually responding to your messages I can't really express my gratitude. So before this turns into a long winded speech, I just want to say

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

I hope you enjoy!


Where is My Mind?

Ch. 8 Anxious Heart

Day quickly turned to night and the weather rapidly showed signs of deterioration. By the time the airship landed at the Gongagan airport, the weather had become nearly destructive. It had not started to rain yet; however, the heavy wind began to beat the trees in every direction.

Angeal stepped off the gangplank just as the Captain of the ship began cursing over the intercom. He shook his head, pulling the hood of his dark blue sweater over his head to shield him from the violent wind. Shouldering his pack and sword sheaths, he walked quickly towards the only building in sight.

The building was a grey single story and appeared to be some sort of office building. The signage on the door read in white lettering, "Gongaga Office of Travel and Admittance". Angeal shouldered past the door, the howling wind dying down as the door closed behind him.

The inside was what you'd expect a government building to look like. Rows of uncomfortable foldable chairs facing a flat screen mounted on the wall with fake potted plants spread around the perimeter.

To the right were two large desks behind glass windows with a portcullis that sat against the wood of the desk. A middle aged woman sat behind one of the desks, typing busily at a computer. She was apparently too busy to even issue a greeting as he walked in.

Angeal sighed checking his PHS again. Ever since the airship entered Gongagan air space, Angeal was unable to get a signal. If the weather was anything to go by, all satellite and wireless transmissions would be down.

Angeal sighed walking towards the little window. He didn't really want to talk to anybody unless it was Zack or Genesis, but he didn't want to walk to town in the current weather, either.

"Excuse me, ma'am. But is there a phone I can use? Mine doesn't seem to have any signal." Angeal asked, politely. The woman didn't stop her typing to even look at him, only nodded and shouted for someone.

"Greg! Where's the phone?" Someone, presumably Greg, came out of a door behind the glass and pushed the phone across the wooden desk next to the woman.

"Right next to you, Justina." Greg replied sarcastically, disappearing behind the door once again. The woman, Justina, drew her eyes away long enough to notice the phone in its cradle sitting next to her.

"Oh, sorry about that. Here you go, sweetie." She said pushing the phone towards Angeal through the little window as her eyes returned to her computer screen.

Angeal murmured his thanks as he picked up the phone and dialed Genesis' number. To his utter annoyance, Genesis didn't pick up. He had a habit of not answering the phone when an unknown caller ID popped up.

Angeal tried three more times before he finally gave up.

Irritated, he looked outside and saw the weather was only getting worse. Sighing, Angeal pulled the hood of his sweater over his head and shouldered his pack and sword sheaths. There was no way he would be able to make it to town before it would begin to rain, but Angeal refused to stay overnight at the equivalent of the Gongagan DMV.

He growled angrily, pushing his way past the door.

-:-

Genesis sighed, looking out the window as it began to rain. Angeal should have been here by now or he should have at least called. His phone wasn't working since the sky turned grey, and he couldn't get a signal or even use the internet. The house phone hadn't rung all day either.

After the speech Genesis gave to Zack, he wasn't about to start worrying about Angeal being lost in an airship accident. Never mind that if such a thing were to occur it would quite easily kill a first class, even one of the trinity.

Genesis shook his head of a cartoon image of Angeal taking an unwilling nosedive out of a flaming airship.

Perhaps he had called, but it just didn't go through.

Genesis huffed in annoyance. There was only some much Loveless he could take. Though he absolutely adored the story, he had to admit it was getting old fast.

He was not the type of person that enjoyed nature like Angeal, couldn't fathom running around until he exhausted himself like Zack, and was not content to sit around watching TV like fatass similar to Sephiroth. No, Genesis was a fashionista at heart. But more than that, he enjoyed curling up with a good book and forgetting about the world and everyone else in it.

Genesis was a bookworm.

He stood intending to go to what he knew to be Lewis's office. He'd briefly passed by it on his way to the bathroom and saw that the man owned several bookshelves. Hopefully, he owned something interesting.

A little bit of Tennyson or Shakespeare should do the trick. He did love that man's quotes, after all. He quoted Tennyson once to Sephiroth who promptly looked at him in confusion and only said, "Huh?"

Genesis shook his head of the memory. He was surrounded by morons.

Coming to the door of Lewis's office, Genesis knocked once before pushing the door open. It seemed to be empty but for the sound of soft tapping made loud by the silent room.

"Hello?" Genesis called not wanting to startle the man.

"Hmm?" was his reply.

Against the left wall was a moderately sized desk, big enough to hold a laptop and a small desk lamp but not much else. Papers were scattered all over the desk in haphazard piles, some soundlessly sliding off to join its strewn brethren on the floor. Zack's father seemed intent on whatever it was he was doing with his head ducked down and glasses sliding off his nose as he tapped noisily on his computer.

"I hope I'm not bothering you, but I was wondering if I could…" Genesis spoke politely trailing off and gesturing with his hand toward the bookshelves.

Lewis looked up from his computer screen and blinked a couple of times to clear his vision. "Huh? Oh, yes! Go right ahead."

"Thanks."

Genesis walked over to the bookshelves lining the opposite wall and began to scan them. He could feel Lewis's eyes on him, but not in a lustful way. It was more calculating as if he wasn't sure what to make of him, yet.

The way he was staring was quite obvious. He'd stopped tapping for one.

Genesis looked over his shoulder and smiled at the bespectacled man. "Is everything alright?" He asked. Lewis considered his words before replying.

"You are…Genesis Rhapsodos."

"Yes…"

"And you are part of ShinRa's Trinity."

"…yes…" Genesis asked becoming confused. The way Lewis said these assertions were more like statements instead of…questions.

"Why would one of the ShinRa's Trinity be friends with my son? He's only a second class." Lewis Fair stated nailing Genesis with a suspicious glare.

Genesis raised an eyebrow at that. He had to keep himself from laughing, the man had no idea how much he and Zack were alike. They even pouted the same way. He turned around completely and sat in one of the big stuffed seats in front of Lewis's desk.

"Well…to be completely honest I was most assuredly jealous of Zack."

"Jealous?" Lewis repeated the word as if he had never heard it before.

"Yes, jealous." Genesis nodded his head. "Know why? Because Angeal had finally turned his attention away from the Goddess."

Lewis stared, confusion in his features.

It was obvious to the casual observer that Genesis was a diva, but…Goddess?

"What I mean is…we've only ever had each other, Angeal, Sephiroth and I. Things started to change and when Angeal began mentoring Zack as a cadet I was…not happy." Genesis said, an old feeling of jealousy and abandonment welling up. He cleared his throat before he continued. "At any rate, as Zack started becoming a part of Angeal's life he became a common occurrence in mine. And thus, we are friends…or something close to it."

Lewis felt a solid sense of dread settle in the pit of his stomach. "What's my son's relationship with this Hewley guy?" He found himself blurting out. Once it was out, however, he couldn't stop it and a mild look of embarrassment crossed his features.

Genesis looked slightly amused. "They're teacher and student, of course."

Lewis, again, looked suspicious.

"Don't believe me ask them. Although, Zack…"

"Yes?"

"He is transparent. Like an open book with lines unclear."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Lewis asked.

"It means you might misinterpret Zack's mood." Genesis replied, getting up and strolling over to the bookshelf again.

"That sounds like just the opposite."

"Yeah, well, I'm sure Zack doesn't even know what he's feeling. He's very expressive. Oh! An anthology!"

Lewis was quite for a moment as he tried to digest what was said. It was no secret to him and his wife that his son was gay. He figured it out when Zack was 3 or 4. He was just that much more sensitive than the other boys in the village. Still, it occurred to him that Zack hadn't really changed much in that department, but at least he wasn't like the other queers in the cities. That would only freak him out.

His son was pretty, but not effeminate. In his own way, he was only trying to find his place in the world. Still, he would prefer it if he didn't do so with a blood sucking company like ShinRa.

Even with these feelings, Lewis felt he had no right to complain. He…experimented when he was young, long before he met his wife.

"What is he like?" Lewis asked Genesis after a pensive moment of silence.

"Who? Zack?" Genesis asked in confusion.

"No, Hewley. I know what Zack's like. He's my son."

Genesis gave him a sidelong look at that. "People used to say that Angeal was the adult of us when we were kids. He's patient; boring, serious, attentive…did I mention he was boring?"

"He sounds like a good teacher."

"Hmm, he was the ideal temperament…and with the way Zack is that's a good thing."

"What do you mean?"

"Short-attention span, remember? I've observed Zack in his classes when he was a cadet. Best in his class by far, but couldn't focus worth a damn. ShinRa saw his potential and didn't want it to be wasted, so they assigned him to Angeal." Genesis said, flipping through a book. "He's a lot like Sephiroth. They're both very private people."

"I can't imagine my boy with someone like that." Lewis said absently rubbing his chin. Genesis turned and grinned at him. He blushed, realizing how it sounded. "That's not what I meant!"

"Of course."

"No, really! It's not like that!"

"I believe you."

Lewis just sighed, rolling his eyes. He could see Genesis was one of those people. "At any rate, I wanted to know what Zack is really going through with this man."

"Why don't you ask him yourself?" Genesis asked.

"Because then he thinks I'm interrogating him."

Genesis raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"I'm just saying…it all sounds awfully familiar."

-:-

Angeal began cursing when the rain started pelting him in the face, and did not stop even when the village came into view. The village itself reminded him of Banora, but wilder and without the rolling hills. The houses weren't as clustered together as his hometown was and the roads were more paved.

Angeal began to think that instead of imposing on Zack's family it would be better to stay at an inn. At the moment, however, all he could think about was seeing Zack. He didn't know why, but he felt a powerful urge to see the teens smiling face. It was all he thought about since he left Midgar.

The rain had not let up at all since his long trek from the airport to the village proper, and now he was soaked from head to toe. Angeal recalled that Zack's house was next the road, but on which side he didn't quite know.

He stopped and waited. Taking a lucky guess he picked the house on his left. The houses didn't look any different from each other. They were the same size, the same construct. The only difference Angeal could discern was the name plate on the mail boxes. The one he walked towards said 'Fair'.

Of course, I could just look at the name plates, Angeal thought.

He stopped when he got to the door, and knocked three times since there was no doorbell. Immediately, the door swung open and a petite middle aged woman stood on the other side trying not to glare.

"I don't suppose you know how to knock properly?" She said.

"Huh?"

"Never mind. You must be Angeal. Come on in. I'm Jenna by the way, Zack's mother."

"Oh, hello. It's nice to meet you." Angeal replied, shaking her hand awkwardly. He was cold and soaked through from the rain though he hardly noticed as he took in the interior of the house. It had a homey feel to it, and Angeal could easily see a young spiky haired youth raising hell in the house.

The thought made him smile and think of his own mother.

"You must be freezing. Stand there and let me get you a towel. Why didn't you call? I'm sure my husband or Genesis would have gone out to get you." Jenna called from down the hall as she rummaged around for towel large enough to cover Angeal's body.

Angeal frowned slightly at the familiarity she showed. First, by being rude and then, by using Genesis' first name. His frown deepened when the thought finished crossing his mind as he didn't even know where it came from.

"I did. Genesis didn't answer." Angeal grumbled.

"What was that?"

"Uh, nothing. I didn't expect the weather to be this bad." Angeal replied.

"Oh, you don't know? I thought you ShinRa types would know everything like it was nobody's business?" Jenna said coming back with a white fluffy towel. She didn't wait for a response as she handed the towel off to him, "Its hurricane season right now in Gongaga. We've been lucky so far to only get showers, but now it's a hurricane. It's not so bad really. We've had worse."

Angeal accepted the towel with murmured thanks. He toed his shoes off and gently set his sword sheaths and duffel on the ground.

"Umm…"

"The bathroom's down the hall on your right. I'll go tell Zack and Genesis that you're here." Jenna said gently smiling.

Again, with the familiarity. Angeal wonder what had been going on since they'd been here.

Angeal murmured his thanks again, as he made to walk towards the bathroom, stopped, grabbed his duffel and kept going.

The bathroom was pretty small. Not tiny, but not big either. Angeal had to be careful not to accidentally knock anything over as he undressed. He had to breathe shallowly through his mouth as the scent of chlorine and a bunch of other scents assaulted his nose.

He nearly gagged when the foul smells entered his esophagus. Turning pale, Angeal quickly dried himself off with brisk strokes and redressed in another pair of blue jeans and a thin black t-shirt. He quickly grabbed his clothes, not sure what to do with them and just stuffed them into a side compartment of his duffel bag.

Still breathing shallowly, Angeal stepped from the confining bathroom out into the hallway only to be accosted by Zack. He threw himself against Angeal's wide chest, hiding his face in the crook of his neck. Angeal slowly relaxed, not realizing that he very nearly was about to throw Zack to the ground. Unsure of why he felt annoyed, Angeal tried to calm himself before he spoke.

"Zack, are you alright?" He asked his gruff voice sounding strained. Zack nodded his head trembling slightly. Angeal realized that he was probably worried about him. His posture softened even further, and he smiled as he separated from Zack just far enough to see his face.

"Puppy, I'm fine. See, I'm okay. My wounds are already healed." Angeal whispered as he passed his thumbs under Zack's eyes catching his tears before they fell. Zack gave him a weak smile showing the relief he felt, but also apprehension.

"Zack?" Angeal questioned wondering why he was still tense.

"Angeal, I know you must be disappointed in me and I'm so, so sorry." Zack rushed out in one breath.

He didn't look up into Angeal's face to see the disappointment that would surely be there. He didn't want to see how badly he failed his mentor. At the memory of what he did, Angeal couldn't help but to purse his lips. Again, he felt annoyance but it wasn't directed at him.

"Zack, don't worry about it." Angeal said quietly.

He was beginning to think that there was something seriously wrong with him. Never before had Angeal ever condoned, or let an act of violence just slide because he felt that the other party deserved every bit of aggression taken out on them. No, Angeal didn't blame Zack. He only blamed himself for shirking his duties to discipline his apprentice.

Zack slowly looked up, not sure if he had heard right. He was prepared take any punishment Angeal saw fit to give, but now he didn't know what to think.

"W-what?"

Angeal sighed, "You heard me, Zack. Don't worry about it."

"But shouldn't I-''

"If the man doesn't want to punish you, then stop looking for a punishment." Lewis said, closing the door to his office.

Angeal's head snapped up and his eyes narrowed as he spotted the interruption down the hall.

Angeal was not what Zack's father had expected. He expected to see an old, sour man with a scraggly beard and grey hair. He did not expect to see a man that was six years his son's senior without even the growth of a beard on his face.

That sense of dread returned full force now.

Before he could say anything else, Genesis turned the corner with Loz hot on his heels. Oddly enough, Angeal heard him before he saw him and his annoyance spiked again.

"Why didn't you answer your phone?" Angeal immediately asked.

Genesis, not missing a beat, walked over and hugged him. "Hello to you, too." He said softly an audible hitch in his voice.

Angeal, suddenly feeling like a dick, frowned and wrapped his arms around Genesis to hug back. He very nearly forgot the state his best friend must have been in when they found his body.

"I'm sorry." Angeal said sincerely. Genesis just shook his head as he drew back, discretely wiping his eyes.

"Why didn't you just call the house phone? Wireless signals have been down all day." Genesis mentioned.

"I didn't know the number." Angeal mumbled as he slightly turned pink. He began to feel foolish for acting the way he did but for some reason knew he couldn't help it.

"Well are you all crowding the hallway, come and eat!" Jenna called from around the corner.

-:-

"I hope you don't mind my asking, but how old are you exactly?" Lewis asked, frowning at Angeal.

"Twenty-six. Why?" Angeal responded as he ate. Genesis, Zack, and Loz gave him strange looks as Angeal practically inhaled his food. They'd never seen him eat like this.

"I was just wondering how someone as young as you can become a mentor." Lewis stated simply. He didn't bother hiding his skepticism.

Angeal looked up and chewed his food quietly as he observed Lewis. Taking a sip of his grape juice Angeal said, "I assure you that I am qualified to mentor, no matter my age."

"Is that so? Do SOLDIERs as young as you normally mentor?" Lewis asked again. Angeal frowned at the questioning. He hadn't expected to be interrogated, but more than that an uncomfortable feeling was welling up in the pit of his stomach.

"As you know, SOLDIER candidates can be as young as fourteen. First classes are usually in their mid-twenties to forties."

"Well by that estimate, you haven't been a First class for very long have you?" For a long moment, Angeal said nothing. He only stared at the man across from him and had the most sudden urge to put the man in his place.

He was challenging him. The man knew nothing about Angeal, but he was almost outright challenging him. It took all of Angeal's willpower to not snap and kill him.

"I, along with Genesis and Sephiroth, have been a First class for a very long time. I think I can say with certainty, I that I know what I'm doing." Angeal stated quietly. It took everything he had to appear non-hostile, though to those that knew him it was certainly impossible to miss the signs. "If you'll excuse me. Thank you for dinner Mrs. Fair, it was delicious." Angeal said, disappearing into the only guest room available.

Genesis raised an eyebrow at Lewis while Zack and his mother glared at him.

"What the hell was that?" Zack exclaimed clearly annoyed. Startled, Lewis looked at Zack whose eyes began to glow from the mako in his systems.

"What was what?" Lewis intoned playing dumb.

"Don't act innocent! What were you hoping to gain by provoking him?" Jenna stated firmly.

"He was just released from the hospital, why would you do that?" Zack asked looking angry.

"Well, excuse me if I'm a little concerned with the fact that my son is being tutored by a man no older than he is! Are you sure he even knows what he's doing? Who goes walking in the woods in the middle of the night when there's a ferocious fiend on the loose? That's just lunacy! Are the two of you sleeping in the same quarters?"

"Lewis Fair!" Jenna screamed gripping her fork and knife with a solid grip. Genesis had the gall enough to be amused by their remarks.

Zack was still after his father asked that last absurd question. Though it was true that he and Angeal lived in the same apartment, they both had two separate rooms. The fact that his father would even suggest…hot rage seemed to flood through Zack's body starting with his stomach and working its way through his veins.

What he felt before when he nearly beat three men to death was dull in comparison. He wouldn't strike his father though no matter how angry he became.

With remarkable restraint, that Angeal would no doubt be proud of had he been there to witness it, Zack spoke, "Dad, I understand that you're worried about me and only looking out for my best interest…but I'm not a child anymore. I can look out for myself and Angeal is a damn good teacher. I wouldn't be where I am if not for him. So, please, I ask you to not insult the man's honor. He has more than you could even imagine." Zack quietly got up from the table, squeezing his mother's shoulder as he walked by.

Jenna Fair sat at the table glaring daggers at her husband. "Well, you've effectively ruined dinner."

-:-

Angeal's breathing was erratic as he fought for control over his emotions. He could just barely remember the last time he felt so enraged.

What was happening to him?

Angeal was known to be a remarkably patient man, a master of his emotions like Sephiroth, but now he could hardly contain himself.

His skin felt hot, his head felt heavy and was pounding.

There was clearly something wrong with him. He began to worry and wonder if perhaps he should have fought harder against Sephiroth sending him here. He would have preferred to remain on active duty, but the likelihood of returning now seemed all but impossible.

He ceased his pacing only for a moment to crack open the only window in the room and gulp in some much needed fresh air. By this time, the rain had already slowed to an almost silent drizzle.

The fresh summer air was cool and refreshing against Angeal's heated skin, and he was all too happy to breathe in the untainted air, so unlike Midgar or his own hometown of Banora.

He sat down on the edge of the bed, his arms folded with his chin resting on the windowsill. The fresh air seemed to alleviate the tension in his body, and Angeal slowly began to unwind.

The sound of nature didn't seem to be doing its usual job of calming him, so much as making him restless.

He wanted to…Angeal wanted to go running.

Yes, he had a most powerful urge to go out running as fast as he could until he couldn't run anymore. He didn't understand this sudden powerful urge, but he knew it was something he wanted to do…had to do.

Angeal suddenly stood, casting about for his boots. He slipped them on without tying the laces and jumped out the window to land on the wet ground. With barely a hitch in his stride, Angeal took off for the forests surrounding the village.

-:-

Zack was shocked and nearly forgot to breathe as he watched Angeal jump out the window. His gut churned with the feeling that Angeal was leaving him for good, leaving him because his father acted like an ass.

He knew it was stupid, but he couldn't help the twisting feeling his stomach was making that made him nauseous with fear.

Zack quickly crossed the room to the window to see Angeal take off towards the forests. Zack knew that nature usually calmed Angeal, but he couldn't help but wonder what the hell was going through his head?

How could he return to walking through the forests again so quickly after what happened, Zack thought.

He didn't even bring a weapon, he didn't know the land like Zack, and he was alone and probably still injured. This was enough convincing on Zack's part to chase Angeal out the window and follow him through the forests.


Author's Note:

Alright! Again, sorry for taking so long and thanks to all that have read and reviewed. I could come up with a bunch of excuses as to why this took so long, but the only real valid points would be that my muse got distracted by other stories and I was playing too much Skyrim (Skycrack to those that have played it).

But once the glitches started in, people started asking if I died, and my muse came back I started writing again. I realized that this chapter was the hardest by far to start. I went over it a number of times, but I feel like there are some continuity errors.

So for those that like to drop reviews, could you maybe do me a favor and if you spot any continuity errors maybe mention them to me so I can fix them. I would like to not make the same mistakes in later chapters.

Just because Final Fantasy 7 has a crap load of errors doesn't mean that I want to follow that tradition.

Anyway, Plz R&R!