Been awhile since I gave y'all one of these, huh? This has been kicking around on my harddrive for awhile, and I finally got the last 60 themes finished yesterday afternoon. I've gotta say, Angeal's a tough one to pin down.
As a warning, the last four themes in this list go together, and they do not exactly fit into the canon of the rest of the In Short series, although I'd like to think that they do. Ignore them if you like.
Rated for adult behavior and bodily fluids.
1. Starting out
For a while, he was just one young boy in a small town of people who acted kind of strange around him. Then he met the rather unusual redhead living in the big house with the massive dumbapple tree, and things got better.
Silent and regretting many things, he follows the path Zack and Cloud took on their flight across the world, wondering at the strength in the goofy puppy he remembers so clearly.
The south-facing windows in his apartment are just right for growing miniature roses in long window boxes.
Angeal finds it highly amusing that Zack found the girl who made him get serious about love in a church, falling straight through the roof like some angel that an irate god had just drop-kicked.
He'll eat just about anything, but he'll always go for the really spicy dishes first.
For someone as big as he is, Angeal is remarkably sensitive to chilly weather; the sudden popularity of the SOLDIER hoodies came about because of his habit of wearing them from October through February.
There is so much he didn't do when he had the chance, but so much more that he wouldn't have missed for anything.
It broke Angeal's heart to see Zack charging into that horde of men with only his sword and his courage, his battle cry the words he had taught him a lifetime ago, and it damn near killed him again to see Zack lying, still and bloody but hanging on as stubbornly as ever, on the plateau until Cloud came to him.
He was never much of one for prejudice, but being dead has given him a new perspective on the population of the world that would have made even the most narrow-minded of people have a change of heart.
"I wish I could say that I taught him that."
The only problem with hair like his is that gray hairs show up as sharply as a new recruit in the SOLDIER's gym. Lucky for him that Zack likes to pull them out.
Angeal will never understand how Sephiroth keeps all that hair as clean and perfect as he does.
"Uh…Boss? Whatcha doing?"
Angeal grins and throws his head back, flinging his hair out of his face and sending chilly droplets flying through the air.
"That's a glacier lake."
Not even repeated smacks with a rolled up magazine could teach Zack to stop crunching ice cubes from his drinks.
Angeal can sit and stare into a campfire for hours at a time, watching the ever-shifting shapes and patterns until the flames die into embers.
Note to self: Do not let Puppy fiddle with anything hooked up to the building's main power grid.
Shivering, panting, stomach heaving if he so much as blinked wrong, throat raw with coughing and puking and apparently crying out in his sleep…it was the flu bug from hell, made even worse by the heavy, sweat-soaked body in the bed beside him, silver hair getting in his face and itching along his back, but at least there were soft white hands and long, flowing passages of Loveless to lull him back to sleep.
Angeal swears he saw at least three constellations the first and only time Zack threw him across the gym during a sparring match.
He sat and watched, with Sephiroth crying brokenly under one arm and Zack clinging to the other, waiting to see if Cloud could really do it.
Angeal's lucky socks are so worn out and threadbare that Zack claims a church should be erected in their honor.
Things Materia is good for: chilling drinks, paper weight, bouncing off Zack's skull, getting lost, emergency lighting, playing marbles, and spell casting.
He had never, ever seen someone with hair worse than Zack's until he got a good look at the blonde kid with hair like the feathers on the back end of a chocobo.
It's not a bad place, really. The problem is the man behind the president's desk.
Note to self: Do not let Zack handle fireworks for the summer barbeque.
"If you bother to look, there is much to be seen and had in the city, but only if you are willing to step down off your high horse and look for it."
The best vacation he ever had was a week of leave during the war, which he spent at a tiny little onsen high in the mountains.
27. Cosmo Canyon
Never been there. Not all that interested in going.
28. Gold Saucer
"I said no, puppy, and that's final. We're not going."
29. Costa del Sol
Note to self: Sephiroth burns fast and he burns badly. Never, ever let him off the base without covering or a heavy layer of sun block.
While Angeal will never admit it, Zack gives a mean back rub.
31. Back turned
It hurt so badly when he had to turn and walk away from all he had once believed in, but Zack would never have had a chance if he hadn't done it.
32. A friend in need
Is one who comes to you seeking help because he knows you owe him after that party three weeks ago when he dragged you off the bar before you got too far into your strip tease.
Girls are never interested in him, until he flashes that killer smile at them. Then it's all he can do to keep them off.
"And then the chocobo says to the-"
"Zack, that one was dead and rotting before you were born."
The last pothole is always the one that bends your axel, leaves the supply crates juddering across the truck bed, makes you bang your head on the roof, and sends your student rushing for the tailgate to vomit.
He spent a lot of time sitting alone in the LifeStream, wishing he was back there with his puppy, until Sephiroth came along to help him forget about being lonely.
Some sick and twisted deity's way of reminding the human race that they have no control over things like winter storms coinciding with the scheduled war games.
Angeal wears boxers in eye-burning shades, to avoid misplacing them when he's camped out on a mission and doesn't have time to run around his tent naked, searching for them.
Sometimes, he likes to sit alone in his apartment with all the lights out and the blinds closed, simply existing in the warm shadows.
40. All the way
Angeal taught Zack how to be with another man, and for a time, he fantasized about being Zack's lover instead of his mentor, but that wasn't fair to Zack, so he forced himself to forget about love.
Anything will do, even a garlic press, when fights break out in the kitchen.
He hates the annual sessions with the tailor, but it's nice to have a uniform that fits him properly.
Angeal is the only one who knows that Sephiroth is terrified of public speaking, because he is the one who supports him while he vomits, talks him down when he's panicking, reminds him to breathe, and strokes his back until the shakes go away.
44. Holding on
It was so hard to lift his sword as he lay there at Zack's feet, but he clung to his last scrap of life until he did what he had to do. And then he stopped holding on.
45. Never mind
Angeal is wearing a Speedo. Your argument is invalid.
The first time Angeal breathed fire for Zack, he almost choked on the paraffin in his mouth when he saw the unabashed look of wonder on the kid's face.
"Holy- Zack, I'm not this old."
"One candle for every year you are old, and another one for every year I've knocked off your lifespan. Why're you complaining? It's more wishes!"
The actual dying part was remarkably easy: all he had to do was exhale and close his eyes, and something lifted him out of his body and away.
He had an ice bath and popsicles ready when Zack staggered in after his first heavy Mako shots, and he stayed with him until the last of the shivers left him.
"Wow, 'geal, you look like shit."
Angeal gave Zack a jaundiced look.
"Keep talking to me and I will throw up on you, Puppy."
He never did like pushing himself beyond a certain point. Maybe that's why, when the time came for him to be tested, he broke as soon as he reached his limits.
Note to self: Never let Zack get anywhere near the gelato shop ever again.
53. On and on
Angeal let the LifeStream drag him around for awhile, circling the Planet again and again, and he might have gone on that way forever if something hadn't fished him out and thrown him at Sephiroth when he came along.
54. Me and you
Some of the happiest memories he has involve Zack and his ridiculous antics, but looking back on them, Angeal realizes they weren't so ridiculous after all.
Many scientists, strategists, and well-educated people have faced Angeal across a chessboard. Every single one has left defeated.
Angeal can never keep them on for long.
He could really do without Sephiroth's random and completely terrifying mood swings, but at least he's good at dealing with them.
Nothing puts Angeal in his place faster than one of Genesis' boots in his stomach when he's getting ahead of himself.
59. Selfish reasons
"C'mon, Angeal, why can't I have some?"
Angeal scowled and held the ice cream as far away from Zack as he could without getting up. "Because Sephiroth just trounced me in the gym and you have a date tonight. This is mine."
When they were young, they dreamed of being rock stars. These days they are SOLDIERs, but Angeal still plays a mean guitar and Genesis can scream with the best of them, so on leave, they indulge their fantasies and knock their audiences dead in karaoke bars.
61. Hard headed
Staggering backwards with his ears ringing and his tongue hurting where he bit it, Angeal remembers that he's the one who caught Zack that move.
"But I'm really, really horny!"
"That's no excuse."
"Just this once? For old time's sake?"
And Angeal caves.
In the heavy, humid darkness of the tent, he lets Genesis bend him over the table, then leave with his semen still splattered wet across the maps, because this is war and they can't afford to waste time with the niceties.
Angeal really can't fathom the idea of apples being a seasonal fruit, but he supposes the sudden influx of apple cider and apple pies and baked apples and other related apple things is sort of nice.
He never asked for it, not even when he was about to break.
On slow weekend afternoons when he has extra paperwork to fill out, he likes to dip chilled spoons into a jar of honey and suck on them while he works.
67. Insult to injury
Angeal was not made for chocobo. He wasn't made to ride them, work with them, catch them, race them, or even be near them, as evidenced by the greenish spittle oozing down the side of his face and the piece missing from the seat of his pants. Dumb birds.
"Angeal? Have you seen my egg rolls?"
"Did you take them?"
"Nope." Zack did, though, and brought them to Angeal while he was working, but that wasn't the question, now was it?
Zack believed in him, even when Banora burned and his mother lay dead on the floor. He has no idea why.
"That is why you don't piss off a Cactuar."
Note to self: No matter what Zack says, ginger has no place in a sunburn treatment.
Long slow Sundays in the fall are perfect for a few beers and meandering chats about nothing while the day fades into evening.
Angeal has no god, no goddess, no great being to worship. But when he sees Sephiroth with his prayer beads, Genesis with his book of psalms, and Zack's tiny altar with the statuettes of half a dozen deities, he almost wishes that he did.
"Ungh…that's…thirty-seven. How's that?"
"Not great, but you get points for trying."
Two Turks + Zack + Sephiroth and Genesis and Angeal + a pound of limes + a case of mixed liquors + one barbeque + enough corn on the cob, assorted meat products, and potato salad for an army + novelty popsicles with obscene shapes = one hell of a party.
"Give me that. You're done."
Angeal whined at the loss of the bottle. "But-"
"It's empty, boss."
"But why is the rum gone?"
"Oh my god, Angeal, what is this?"
"It's Three Dog Night, Zack, and don't you dare touch that volume control."
The teeny tiny little blonde cadet stared up at Angeal. Angeal stared back. Then, in a very small voice, the cadet said, "B-big."
Angeal's reply was, "Er…small?"
Zack never let him forget it.
Seeing him lying still and bloodstained on the ground after a battle, Angeal realized how small Zack really was.
Yeah, maybe. But you sort of have to be to get along with Genesis and Sephiroth.
On a cold morning during survival training, Angeal saw Sephiroth take down a snowshoe hare with his bare hands, gut it, and tear into the raw meat. The blood steamed in the cold air, pinking the snow and Sephiroth's teeth, and sometimes Angeal still sees him crouched there with the little body clutched in his hands when he wakes in the middle of the night.
Angeal hates to have company after he's had his shots, because company means talking, and it's very hard to hold a conversation when you're shaking so hard your teeth are chattering.
In the darkness of their tent in the middle of a warzone, Genesis murmured poetry against the side of his neck and Sephiroth purred them right back on the other side, and his entire world was filled with whispered beauty.
Note to self: red drool is not necessarily blood. Make sure Zack hasn't made Kool-Aid before freaking out and calling Medical.
Spinach omelet for Genesis, bacon and tomato for Zack, mushroom and veggie for Sephiroth. Not tomato and spinach, bacon with mushroom, and veggie. Breakfast is not a good time to annoy all three of your closest companions.
86. Nearly there
When walking on a badly sprained ankle, it becomes tempting to stuff one of his dirty socks into Zack's mouth just to get him to stop saying that.
On stormy nights he lies on the living room floor and counts the seconds after each lightning strike, waiting until strike and thunder are one and the same and the storm is right overhead.
Zack kisses like he would climb into Angeal's mouth and share his skin, Genesis with all the fire and passion he puts into everything he loves, and Sephiroth softly and gently, as if afraid to let himself go, and, somehow, that is Angeal's favorite kiss.
He should never have listened, never left, never made those promises…he should have never left Zack alone.
In the dead stillness after Jenova was finally wiped from the Planet, he walked the barrens around Midgar and watched the life return to the earth
"What are you doing?"
"It's Naked Day!"
"Zack, that's…wasn't that yesterday?"
"No, that was No Pants Day."
Angeal doesn't even care anymore.
He can only assume that being so close to a select group of people is bad for them, since they all get sick at the same time, but at least Zack is there to hand out tea and tissues and nasty cough syrup and to wonder at the three most powerful warriors on the Planet all curled up together in one great cranky, sniffling mass on the bed.
Three kittens, rescued from the burning wreckage of a house destroyed in a train crash, fit snugly into his cupped hands and nibbled at his fingertips, unaware of the fate they had so narrowly escaped.
He's not sure which is worse: Sephiroth taking his puzzles apart when he's not looking, Genesis mixing a few extra pieces in, or Zack walking off with two or three crucial pieces.
Not even Angeal can get out of a trip to the theatre with Genesis.
96. Sticky situation
Note to self: Never open tube of glue with teeth.
97. Once more
The day Aerith smiled and waved and he was falling was the day he admitted that he would do anything to go back and make things right with the world he left behind.
98. Twice over
He didn't count on waking up in a Mako flow with Genesis and Sephiroth, Zack standing over them all and demanding to know why they hadn't gotten up yet.
Is the space between one breath and another when suddenly he realizes that he is alive again.
100. The end
Four men, all the same age now because death does weird things like that, sharing an apartment meant for two and loving every crowded chaotic minute of it, even when Sephiroth adopts kittens and Zack brings home a snake of all things and Genesis is still reading that damned play out loud whenever he gets a spare moment. Angeal wouldn't give it up for anything.