A/N: God I am so sorry for not updating in so long, but hopefully this will make up for it, I've been in the middle of exams and I kind of ran out of inspiration. Anyway I hope you like it.
Also a special dedication does to NothingSoSpecial who helped kick my inspiration into gear and get this chapter on the roll, so a huge thank to you. :D
Disclaimer: I unfortunately do not own Final Fantasy VII
"Stay down, Zack."
"I won't, I won't let you win. I can't, not if I'm going to be a hero."
"As a SOLDIER, you have to recognise your limits and stay down if necessary to save yourself. A hero who's alive is much better than a hero who's dead."
"You're the one who's always saying to protect your honour as SOLDIER…"
"It isn't dishonourable to admit defeat Zack. In some ways it's more honourable than refusing to back down and being killed because of it."
"How'd you figure that out?"
"Admitting that you cannot defeat an enemy shows that you know your limits and that you know your enemy can surpass them. It also honours your enemy as it shows them that you respect their strength."
"Oh yeah? What if I'm fighting against the monster from hell?"
"Then you can save the speech and get the hell out of there."
"You're really something."
I had to swallow past the lump in my throat before I could speak. But, I couldn't bring myself to open my eyes otherwise I would burst into uncontrollable tears. "Seph," I croaked, and I felt him kneel down beside me.
"Zack, are you alright?"
"I don't know," I whispered and clenched my fists to try and stop myself some shaking, "I don't know."
I felt his hand on my back, his hair brushing my cheek as he leaned forward and wrapped his arms around me. "Zack you need to sleep," he said gently, "you've been awake for most of the past few days, you're making yourself sick."
"I'm fine," I said forcefully and opened my eyes; Sephiroth was leaning over me, a worried expression marring his face. I didn't want to worry him anymore than he already was and forced myself to sit up. "I'm okay Seph, honest. You're the one who should be sleeping, you're hurt."
"It's nothing, Zack. I've had worse."
Admittedly he had and I'd seen him up within a few hours after his torso had been ripped open. He was tough, but the worrying had exhausted him and it wasn't doing his injury any favours. "I know, but you need the sleep more than me right now. I'll stay awake a little longer and keep an eye on you two."
"I won't attack him, Zack." It was the first time Genesis had spoken since I'd collapsed. I looked up in time to see him averting his eyes from Sephiroth, as though he was ashamed, but there was a gleam in his eyes that I didn't like the look of. It was raw and unforgiving.
I would have ran to him if I could, but my legs felt too heavy. The best I could do was pull myself free from Sephiroth's grip and crawl over to him. "Hey buddy," I whispered in an attempt to cool the situation and touched his hand, "you look better." And he did, at least compared to when he was lying unconscious, but there wasn't that much improvement. If anything the cracks seemed to have spread and more of his hair had lightened to a pale shade of grey.
"No thanks to you," he snapped, but smiled slightly to show he didn't mean it. Oh yes, Genesis was back and Gaia knews's how I'd missed him.
I pulled myself up onto the bed beside him and grinned giddily at him. "I'm sure you won't attack him physically, but now you're okay…you might start at him verbally. I don't think either of you can cope with that right now." I felt better now I was on the bed and couldn't help leaning back tiredly.
Genesis smirked and leaned against my shoulder, humming contentedly. "Did you miss me?" He asked casually, but I sensed a warning behind his words. Great…he'd woken up in a bad mood.
"Yes, you're one of my best friends, how could I not miss you?" I hesitated and glanced at him to see if I'd managed to calm him down a little. He nodded in agreement and seemed to relax against me, his wing stretching out behind me and wrapping around me like a blanket. Again I couldn't help leaning back slightly and I could feel my eyes closing as unconsciousness loomed before me. I bit my lip to stop the descent and Sephiroth frowned at me.
"Zack, go to sleep."
I sat up quickly, ignoring the dizzy spell that abruptly followed. "No! Because the second I do, you two are going to tear each other apart. Don't try and kid me. I know both of you too well." I glared at the pair of them until they dropped their gaze then sighed gently. "Listen, you two have a problem with each other. Can one of you explain what it is? Just so I know?"
Sephiroth sighed and Genesis made a low snarling noise in the back of his throat. "It doesn't concern you, puppy," he spat and I glared at him.
"Like hell it doesn't concern me, you two are my best friends! And if you two aren't happy with each other and have an argument, it's my job to wade through the emotional mess that's left behind and try to sort things out. And that's the problem with you," I got up off the bed and leaned against the wall for support. "You're both selfish. You never consider the consequences of your actions and leave the rest of us the problem of sorting it all out. You don't care what happens to the rest of us, just as long as your problems are solved and out of the way." I paused for a moment, panting as I remembered that on many occasions, I'd seen Angeal coming out his room looking defeated and upset. "Angeal knew that, didn't he? He was the mediator and he was stuck with all the emotional crap you both dragged him through, and did you ever thank him for it? Be honest Seph, Genesis. Did you ever thank him?"
Sephiroth dropped his gaze with a pained expression and turned away, "I never wanted to burden other people with my problems," he whispered. "If I had an argument with anyone it was my responsibility to sort it out. I told him that, but he wouldn't listen." He raised his gaze to look at me guiltily. "He was like you when he was younger, Zack. He wanted to help everyone, he didn't want to fit into good or evil, and if he ever killed he spent the day thinking about the person he'd murdered. He told me once that he thought about their family and how the death had affected them, and that he begged for forgiveness to whoever was listening for the murder of that single person."
I stood trembling as the weight of his words sank in. He begged for forgiveness. I'd never seen Angeal beg. Not even when he was faced with death…he'd never begged. But now, knowing that he'd begged for forgiveness made me feel ashamed. How many people had I killed? How many families had I torn apart with a single swing of my sword…his sword? I felt the world spin around me and had to sit down quickly before I collapsed. I murdered, I thought weakly, without a second thought. I've killed simply because I was told to. Could anyone be forgiven for that? Could I be forgiven? Tears of horror started to fall down my face and I leant forward slightly, wrapping my arms tightly around my body. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.
Genesis shakily got to his feet, his eyes were blazing with what I can only describe as pure hatred. He looked insane. "That may be true for Angeal," he snarled, "but he never cared." He was glaring at Sephiroth, his chest heaving. "He would have killed me the second he walked in your flat if you hadn't stopped him. He hates me." The glow in his eyes had brightened and I could tell that if someone didn't calm him down he could collapse again.
"Genesis, please…listen to yourself. This isn't you. It's the degradation!" I tried to stand up, but my legs wouldn't let me and I slumped back onto the floor again, exhausted. Sephiroth moved in front of me protectively and Genesis laughed cruelly.
"You've said that before and it didn't work, Zack," he snarled. "Maybe this time I'll go further and actually kill him."
"Why would you kill me, Genesis?" Sephiroth asked slowly, "I know I wronged you, I know that I may have caused this, but I need you to understand that I didn't intentionally aim to hurt you."
"Bullshit," Genesis growled, "you meant it. We both knew that the second we started the fight, we were fighting with the intention of hurting the other. You'd have to be an idiot not to see it."
"Then you're an idiot," I said slowly, and his gaze snapped onto mine, the glow in his eyes flaring slightly.
"What did you say?"
"Think about it, Genesis. It was Angeal who tried to stop you. It was only because you moved forward to try and blast Sephiroth with a Materia that you got hurt. It wasn't Sephiroth's fault, it was yours."
"But…but," the glow was fading with his eyes and I could see his strength draining away with it. He swayed slightly but held himself upright. "He started the fight, I remember."
I shook my head sadly. "You started the fight. You're only remembering what you want to remember because you needed something to fuel your hatred. When you got hurt, Sephiroth tried to be the blood donor, but he was refused. He worried and cared about what had happened to you, but you couldn't see that and so you set out to destroy him. At first when you couldn't blame Sephiroth, you blamed Shinra, because they'd created you." Genesis flinched as I said 'created' but I carried on. He needed to hear this. "And when you needed Shinra's help, you turned your hatred on Sephiroth. The degradation clouded your memories and you convinced yourself that he was to blame for the accident, effectively fuelling the drive to avenge yourself. It's all a lie, Genesis. Wake up now before you hurt someone precious to you. You two are best friends. When you collapsed, Sephiroth carried you in here even though he'd been hurt. He stayed awake watching you, pushing himself to the limit all because of you. If that's not friendship, I don't' know what is." I leaned back against the wall and closed my eyes, exhausted by the effort of speaking for that long. But he needed to hear that. He needed to know what he was doing, what he was becoming. But had it worked?
I opened my eyes to see Genesis trembling. His shoulders shook with the strain of holding back his emotion and Sephiroth stepped forward slowly. "Genesis," he said softly, and Genesis looked up at him nervously. "Can you forgive me?"
Genesis didn't answer. He turned away, still shaking, and sat down on the bed, staring at his hands. "I…all this time, I blamed it on you…I had to. I couldn't cope with the possibility that I might have caused my own destruction. It would have driven me insane, Zack…I couldn't do it. So I blamed anyone I could think of. I blamed Shinra, Sephiroth, and even Angeal for not stopping us in time. I couldn't face up to what I'd done and what I was." He stretched out his wing slowly and stared at it as feathers drifted slowly down to the floor.
Sephiroth moved towards him and crouched down in front of him. "It's okay. I understand and I'm sorry for what I've put you through. If I hadn't agreed to fight, then this wouldn't have happened." He stared up at Genesis and Genesis stared back as his tremors slowly stopped.
I smiled tiredly at the pair and wolf whistled at them. "Jeez guys, if you're going to kiss, kiss already. Don't leave me in suspense."
Genesis glared at me good-naturedly and pushed himself off the bed, practically falling into Sephiroth's lap. "I'm not going to kiss him, Zack. He's not my type," he purred, and I rolled my eyes. Yeah right he wasn't! Seph was probably everyone's type, be them male or female.
"Oh yeah sure, just forgive each other already."
"I'm sorry," Genesis muttered, and Sephiroth reached out and pulled him into a tight hug, as Genesis started to sob quietly.
"It's okay," he murmured as Genesis wept, "I'm sorry too."
"Forgive me," Genesis pleaded through his tears, "please, forgive me."
"Of course," Sephiroth breathed, his hand gently stroking Genesis's back to try and calm him as the man sobbed and moaned.
If I could have moved, I would have comforted him as well. But something told me that they needed this time just to themselves. If I butted in, things wouldn't get better and would just spiral into chaos again, so I sat and watched them with a smile. My eyes slowly closed as a familiar voice filled my ears and invisible fingers ruffled my hair.
You did well Zack, you really did.
I felt my heart surge with happiness at the voice and I said softly, "I know Angeal, I know."
A/N: Hope you enjoyed, reviews and ideas would be wondeful. :D
B/N: BWAAHH. Too touching for words! Squeeee~ Reviews are love!