Disclaimer: I do not own FFVII

Summary: Angeal supports Sephiroth, without expecting anything in return. Slight Sephiroth/Angeal implied

Sephiroth had learned early on in life that when people were nice to you, they always wanted something in return.

The laboratories in which he had spent his childhood were lawless places, paragons of precision and order, where no one and nothing was without purpose, made no secret of the fact that he was just that, a thing with a purpose. They could not be said to have had ulterior motives, because they never tried to hide what they intended to do to him. He could despise them for many things, but not for lying to him. They never told him it wouldn't hurt.

The military proved to be somewhat less honest, if the term could be applicable in such a setting. As he inevitably rose through the ranks, and when he achieved the coveted position of general, everyone wanted him to do something for them. They kowtowed to him, wrapped up their motives in thinly veiled threats topped off with flattery. His head spun at how quickly he had gone from being helpless to someone with the power to make others helpless, and how much he hated it.

All he wanted was a happy medium and to his everlasting astonishment, he found it.

Angeal Hewley was an open book, but Sephiroth was unsure if he spoke the language it was written in. He was absurdly altruistic for a soldier, improbably modest despite his elevated rank and disinclined to treat any one person differently from another, regardless of all common belief and prejudice that said he should.

He was in direct opposition with Genesis, who used every existing factor available to differentiate himself from his fellow man, and in an overzealous quest to claim exclusivity he improvised when he reached the boundaries of human bias.

And there he was, stuck in the middle.

If Angeal had any flaw, it was that he tried to please everyone. His superiors, his apprentice, his friends. Too often he would take the brunt of Genesis's unpredictable fury or Sephiroth's cold indifference. They might have been frequently frustrated with each other, but they always strove to minimise the effects of this frustration on Angeal.

He could say that Angeal was his first love, and his last. All he wanted from him was his friendship, and companionship in return for his unconditional support. He never asked for anything, even when he needed it. He was fiercely independent in some ways, and Sephiroth often got the feeling that he did not need them in the same way they did him. Angeal was not emotionally dependent as they were, he chose to stay with them.

Which made Sephiroth all the more grateful for his unassuming presence by his side. He had not made it easy to befriend him, and it spoke volumes that he had succeeded in this endeavour, with all the odds against him.

He knew he, inadvertently and purposely made himself unattractive as a companionship prospect. He had grown up in isolation and as an adult, he had chosen seclusion as the lesser peril when confronted with the terrors of everyday social interaction.

Angeal slid into the seat beside him in the cafeteria one morning, casually as if the chair in question had not been all but tabooed due to its placement beside the unapproachable teenager and contrary to all Sephiroth's irate predictions on what the other boy would choose to bother him about, (his hair colour, eyes and preferences in sexual partners being foremost) he did nothing but smile benignly at him before proceeding to eat his lunch in a thoroughly normal manner.

The surrounding masses were astounded, at his bravery or stupidity, depending on their point of view. Some thought it might be both. But they were all unified in awestricken silence when just as the hum of conversation had begun to pick up again, someone faintly heard Sephiroth introduce himself.

From that day onward he bore the dubious title of being 'Sephiroth's friend', even though he was not, and would not be for some time to come. He had become a virtual celebrity by doing absolutely nothing, and it was his refusal to capitalize on this fame that led Sephiroth to approach him the following week and take the adjacent seat.

They wondered, and speculated, cruelly of what he must have done to gain his favour, and the boy in question would laugh them off, unperturbed by their gossip mongering and impressing Sephiroth in the process. Genesis proved to be a proverbial spanner in the works, preventing them from becoming truly inseparable, although the inclusion of a third alleviated a few of more unkind rumours flying around.

Angeal kept his secrets to himself, his most treasured being that in order to win Sephiroth's affection, he just had to be himself, and give him room to breathe.