Here's a lullaby to close your eyes.

A/N: You're going to have to bear with me with this one; it's the first time I've written something like this. Anyway this is a slight character study and was inspired by the beautiful song Room Of Angel by Akira Yamaoka which I would fully recommend listening to.

Disclaimer: I own nothing of Final Fantasy VII.

He had to turn up the night I was patrolling the streets. But I had to admit I admired his daring, coming back into Midgar after all the stuff he did.

I remembered walking down a back alley thinking about the wonderful time when I could clock out and go back home for some shuteye, when I heard this strange gasping choking sound. I was often told by Sephiroth that curiosity killed the cat and if I had any sense in my thick skull, I'd learn that it was best to leave some things alone. Like a dying man for instance.

But I'd never been one not to shove my nose into someone else's business (I blame my father for that trait, thank you very much, Dad) and leaving someone to die in peace was never my thing either. I'd have to be there with them to the bitter end, chattering all the way. For some reason I'd made friends with the sternest SOLDIER ever, and that had kinda boosted my status. People felt more inclined to listen when I talked to them instead of just nodding dully, thinking 'it's only the puppy barking nonsense again'. I was already sort of respected because of Angeal, but now it's pretty much fair to say if I asked one of the receptionists to bow down every time I walked by, they probably would.

I took a few wary steps forward, keeping my hand on the hilt of my sword just in case. Midgar wasn't as safe as Shinra liked to make out and quite a few murders were being skilfully covered up every day.

The figure made another gasping, choking noise and attempted to crawl towards the other end of the alley. I decided to make my presence known.

"Hey, are you alright?"

The stranger froze then turned and fixed glowing blue eyes on me, glowing! I thought and then it clicked. I backed away slightly, shaking my head with disbelief. "Oh no, it's not you, it can't be you!"

"We meet again, Zack the puppy." There it was again, the soft lilting voice that I had both missed yet dreaded hearing.

I shivered. "What are you doing here, Genesis? Shinra's got enough to deal with without you messing things up."

"I didn't come here because of Shinra." As I watched, he ran a hand through his dishevelled hair and began brushing the dirt off his sleeves.

I frowned. "Then why did you come?" I asked, even more curious than I was before.

Genesis raised an eyebrow at me. "Are you really that naive?"

I pulled a face at his low mocking tone and shrugged.

"I can assure you that I didn't come for the sightseeing," he said, laughing. It was a strange, mirthless sound. "I came to see Hojo."

"Hojo?" I'd heard Genesis say some pretty weird things before but this beat all of them. "Why the hell do you want Hojo?"

"He is," Genesis seemed to spit out the words with disgust, "a better scientist than Hollander."

"Uh huh," I said, folding my arms. "But why do you want to see him?"

"That has nothing to do with you, puppy!"

It was hard to resist the urge not to smirk. "Hojo's gone off somewhere for a couple of weeks."

"Where!" Genesis demanded, the sudden harshness of his voice making me flinch with surprise. I held up my hands in a peaceful gesture.

"I don't know, and none of the Firsts do. It's all been hushed up." I shrugged and crouched down near him. "Genesis, is it because of your degradation that you want to see Hojo?"

Genesis's eyes flashed and he glared up at me. "You should learn to hold your tongue!" he snapped.

I looked at him. His left cheek was covered in long pale cracks and streaks of grey ran through his auburn hair, adding years to his appearance. That, added with his pale skin and dark shadows under his eyes, gave the impression that he was suffering from a terrible illness, and he probably was. "Listen Genesis," I said, hesitating, "you could...come to my apartment for a bit."

He laughed again, throwing his head back and revealing a long pale scar cutting across his throat. My mind went back to when Sephiroth told me about their fight that had gotten out of hand. Was this another close call where they had almost killed each other? I thought of Sephiroth's sword and how cold and sharp it was. I shuddered.

Genesis seemed to be picking up on my thoughts. "Sephiroth doesn't always fight fairly." A cold, cruel smirk twisted his lips and I blinked.

"Are you going to come then?" I asked impatiently. "Or are you just going to sit here, and die in a dark alley?"

His only response was a glare, so I turned and began walking back the way I came, whistling merrily. Well, as merrily as I could when there was a chance that a murderer and a deserter would be hiding out in my apartment. I smirked as I heard Genesis coming up behind me then yelped as he spun me round and held me up against the wall.

"Now, I want to make this absolutely clear," he purred, tracing my neck with the tip of his sword. "I don't like you puppy, and I know you don't like me. I'm only accepting your offer because I have nowhere else to go. Understand?"

I nodded quickly (what else could I do?), and he released his grip, momentarily leaning on. the wall, his eyes tightly closed. "Err...Genesis?" I asked warily.

He didn't move, and his face had gone deathly pale.

"Genesis, how are we actually going to get back?"

"The same way you always do," he muttered, pressing his forehead against the cold bricks.

"I always go through the front entrance," I said nervously, my hand moving towards my sword again as he looked up, rage flickering in his eyes.

"You idiot."

Somehow that hurt more than him calling me puppy did. 'Puppy' had always been Angeal's pet name for me, and once others heard him saying it, they joined in as well - even Sephiroth occasionally used it. The name was a constant reminder of our friendship, but now that Angeal had gone...

Genesis sighed. "Where, exactly, is your apartment?"

"Third floor in the north building...why?"

"Does it have a balcony?"

"Yeah, but why?"

The rest of my sentence was cut off as Genesis wrapped his arm round my waist and leapt into the air. I yelped as I saw how high we had gotten in the space of a few minutes and struggled desperately. "Let me go!"

"With pleasure," he growled back, yet I heard the strain in his voice. "Where's your apartment?"

I squinted down at the building rushing toward us and scanned the balconies until I saw mine. "Down there!" I yelled.

Genesis didn't respond, his laboured breathing giving a clue to how much his degradation had really affected him.

I heard a rush of air against his wing as he flared it to slow us down, and he practically threw me onto the balcony before dragging himself over the railing and collapsing near my feet. I prodded him with my foot and glared at him. "Jeez Genesis, be more careful!"

"Just help me inside!" he hissed, and I grudgingly draped his arm over my shoulders.

"I'm going to stand up now, okay?"

He nodded silently and I stood up, staggering as he suddenly collapsed again. I pulled him back up and took my keys out of my pocket. This is just great, I thought, unlocking the door that led into my apartment, half dragging Genesis inside. There's a wanted fugitive in my apartment who can hardly stand by himself. Something tells me this wasn't a good idea.

"You okay?" I asked aloud and he glared at me. So much for gratitude. I cast a quick glance around the room and sighed. "It'll be better for you if you have my bed."

"You're too kind," he drawled sarcastically and I pushed him down roughly onto the sofa.

"You just shut up and stay there," I growled and stalked into the hall to make a phone call. Hopefully Kunsel could cloak out for me. I had a feeling that Genesis was going to keep me up all night.

Please Read and Review

Beta note; Hey guys, it's me, Lioneh! I've been graciously allowed to beta this story, so go and give it a chance, and drop a review! I myself am really interested to see where this plot will go... 8D