For the last hour, Genesis stays near the fire he set up. He occasionally shivers and warms his hands over it. The cold bothers him sometimes. I've discovered it usually gets to him when his energy runs low.
He decided that after his failed attempt to get Tseng to warm himself up that he would enjoy the fire alone. Only once did he glance into the shadows where Tseng chose to sit. He'd grown uncomfortably quiet and appeared that he decided that freezing to death was his goal after he threw Genesis' coat at him and told him where to shove it.
At first, Genesis fought with him to get him near the fire, and when that failed, he gave up and chose to ignore him. He couldn't do it for long though. When he noted the frozen crystals building on Tseng's clothes and hair, he removed his coat and threw it over the man whether he wanted it or not while grumbling that, "It's amazing your stubbornness didn't kill you years ago."
That was the most effort he put into it. He chose to ignore that Tseng's feet were still exposed, and he wasn't able to fully hide the irritation in his expression over the matter, not that it mattered. I'm assuming it was because he figured that Tseng would eventually take care of it himself.
Tseng didn't though. He never moved. He remained silent and left Genesis wondering if he could even hear him before he finally let the silence get to him and decided to justify his actions. "It wasn't like you had anything of value in that cabin," he says as if he's annoyed. "Don't you think you're overreacting?"
"It's not the cabin," Tseng finally says. His voice sounds raspy and bitter while he blankly stares in Genesis' direction.
"What is it then?"
"It's the sound of your voice and the fact that I can't shut you out anymore."
"Really?" Genesis slowly says as he stands and turns to Tseng like he's surprised. "I've barely spoken a word since we left."
"It's all you do!" Tseng says. "There's no door to shut out your incessant talking! You never shut up! All you ever do is talk, and most of your talk is about Sephiroth!
"It's like you're obsessed with him and it makes me wish that you were still obsessed with that infernal play by Loveless! I know all the words, Genesis! You know why? It's because you never shut up!" Tseng hisses as he stands and lets the coat fall to the ground like he had no idea it was there in the first place. "But now…" he madly laughs out. "Now… you have a new play, and it's one that you've contrived on your own!"
"You're angry about something," Genesis calmly observes in a tone that suggests he has no idea what it is that set Tseng off.
"For the last several hours, you've done nothing but talk and go on about Sephiroth!"
"It hasn't been several hours," Genesis corrects. "And the last time I mentioned Sephiroth's name was back at the cabin. Clearly, something else is bothering you."
"I DON'T CARE!" Tseng hysterically screams out. "I'm Sick of listening to you go on and on like you're in love with the sound of your own voice, and I'm sick of you going on about Sephiroth! He's dead! He's been dead for over half a decade!"
"You know," Genesis casually cuts in as if he's decided to play along, "saying it like that only makes it sound like it's been longer than it really has." Then to add fuel the fire, Genesis decides to stir things up by saying, "Does it help you cope with the loss better? I know you never did get over him… Sephiroth, that is…"
"You make me sick," Tseng hisses. Then he laughs out, "You are sick! No one in their right mind would obsess over half the things you do, let alone a man that you betrayed the way that you did. Right from the first day I met you—all of you! You have done nothing but compete with him and sulk over everything you lost to him! You even took it out on me!
"And you know what?" Tseng asks, sounding like a madman while tapping his middle finger against his temple and Genesis merely shakes his head while crossing his arms over his chest. "You act like you were the one that was in love with Sephiroth! That's right, you insane lunatic! You didn't strike out at him to get a me! You went after me to get at him!"
Tseng couldn't have been more sure of himself at that moment, and for the first time, I don't think he'd ever been so wrong. It might be the situation he's been trapped in for too long that his ability to think clearly is disappearing all together.
Or maybe he no longer cares.
Regardless, he finally leaves Genesis speechless while he continues to rant like a madman about how sick Genesis is making him, and how disgusted he is at the mere thought of the sound of his voice.
"You talk so much that I hear you babbling away in my sleep about the same nothingness that you always go on about!" Tseng spits out while dancing his fingers through the air above his head. "When I try to close my eyes, all I can hear is your voice, over and over about the same nonsense you go on about day in and day out! It's like a nauseous ringing sound in my ears that won't go away!
"I can't stand you, Genesis!" Tseng yells as he kicks at the coat and then picks it up and throws it at the fire while hissing out that, "I can't stand anything about you!"
"Well," Genesis quietly says as he calmly saves his coat from the flames and brushes it off. Then he shrugs while letting out a quick snort and admits that, "You're absolutely right. I did go after you to get back at him. However, your deduction why is as skewed as your appearance right now."
Tseng may have snapped at this point. The moment Genesis opens his mouth again, he presses his palms so hard to his ears that it seems like he's trying to squish his own brains out of his head, and the second Genesis tries to stop him, Tseng screams so loud that the ice in the cavern shatters, leaving Genesis to dodge the lethal shards that fall from above.
After that, everything goes quiet. I could have sworn that I heard his voice during the commotion. It was like he was deliberately talking to me through some kind of veil like he knew I was with him, begging for death.
"Why…?" he outwardly whimpers, sounding exhausted as black smoky tendrils spread out from his back like snakes in the formation of wings before they aggressively plunge into the frozen ground his face is pressed against. "Why did you do this to me?" Streams of iridescent green mako start to run from the tips and they emerge and solidify where they end, forming solid crystalline structures. It reminds me of the prisons Chaos and his clan were imprisoned in.
Lucrecia discovered the secret, and I'm starting to wonder if she knew more about what's inside of Tseng than Hojo knew. Or was her own imprisonment an accident?
"Why don't you just let whatever's chasing us catch us… be finished with us…?"
"What makes you think something's chasing us?" Genesis asks from somewhere in the shadows above. He fled to the heights when he realized what Tseng was doing. He used the falling shards to distract Genesis in hopes that he could imprison him in mako and be done with him.
"I heard the footsteps," Tseng tiredly confesses as he pushes himself to his knees. "A couple of days ago, someone came to the trails below us… they've been lingering since… It's what we're running from, isn't it?
"You've been cautious from the start, as if you were trying to hide something—us from something, and since that day, you've been talking about relocating."
"I have," Genesis confesses as he slowly descends from the shadows and quietly toys with something in his hand like he's regretfully contemplating something. Then he quickly grabs Tseng from behind and grips his fingers into his jaw to pry his mouth open before he dumps something into his mouth and roughly forces him to swallow. "And thanks to all the noise you've been making, we're going to have to move faster than I'd planned on!"
After that, he waits for Tseng's struggles to wear down before he passes out from whatever it was that Genesis forced him to swallow, and he gently lays Tseng onto his back and wipes the partially frozen tears from the outer corners of his closed eyes away while quietly breathing out, "Look at you… you're going mad and you've worn yourself out…
"It will pass… we just need to be patient…"
He slings Tseng over his shoulder after that as if he'd never expressed a moment of conflicting compassion while complaining that, "You have no idea what I go through because of you... Everything… I do, because of you!"
"My friend, do you fly away now?"
Whatever it was that Genesis was reciting was meaningless to me. For most of the morning, he recited from a book that was given to him by a fan of his. It seemed to be a new thing for us and we were suddenly treated as if we were famous. It wasn't uncommon in the barracks where the people that idolized us were the same people that knew us. This, however, was new. It was the common people that learned of our deeds over the years and started following our ventures through the news and other articles or hearsay. I suppose it never should have surprised us. We'd been around the globe more times than we could count.
It still took us by surprise though. We didn't know what changed, when, or how, but it was no longer about us saving the people or their homes as it was about us impressing them in various ways, and when they began following our quests, we inadvertently began putting on a show. We weren't consciously aware of it at the time, but looking back, we were exhibiting more flair than we used to. It was also something that did little to impress the man I was obsessed with and it helped to fuel the war that was going on between us.
He could no longer talk to anyone without me accusing him of having an affair with them, and I could no longer open my mouth without him wanting to ram something down my throat. It was getting to the point where neither of us knew why we stayed together, other than the fact that I think we were both plotting to kill each other in our sleep. For me, it was because I didn't want to share him with anyone else and I wasn't willing to let him go, and for him, I think it was because I was already sharing myself with everyone else and then accusing him of doing the same.
"My friend, the fates are cruel…"
Back then, I saw nothing wrong with what I was doing. I managed to convince myself that I wasn't doing it or that it was justifiable due to our jobs. Sometimes, we spent months away from each other and I missed him and wanted him near.
Eventually, I convinced myself that it was a substitution for him. I made every effort to convince Tseng as well and believed that he should have been flattered that I missed him that much. Only, he didn't see it that way and he wouldn't hear me out. His fowl mouth made no effort to sweeten his thoughts, and I made no effort to hold back when I hit him after the viperous sting of his slap numbed the side of my face when I told him that it never would have happened if he made more of an effort to satisfy my needs.
He was a tonberry. Straight to the core, he was nothing more than a death-trap. His only purpose in life was to spread the darkness that emanated from his soul. I should have seen the signs. No man had eyes as black as his. He was cold. If I weren't so enchanted by the spell he cast on me at the beginning, I would have noticed how vile and twisted he was on the inside, and I should have left him alone. I should have let Genesis have him from the start.
"Dreams of the morrow hath the shattered soul…"
That in turn, reminded me that he and Genesis were leaving for the Northern continent that night—together. Part of me said they could have each other. They were meant for each other. They were both backstabbing and pretentious. They shared the same interests, and they both behaved as if the world had turned on them and let them down. They were made for each other and they deserved each other, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Tseng and I had nothing in common.
The more I rationalized it, the less it made sense to me though. The less I understood why it bothered me so much, and the less I could stand the thought of the two of them alone together. The thought made me feel ill. It made me realize that I'd have to kill them—both of them.
"When the war of the beasts brings about the world's end…"
Yet at the same time, I hoped it wouldn't have to come to that.
I didn't think I could live without him. Everything about him made me feel alive, despite that I was rotting inside over my obsession for him. The way that he smiled, the way he looked at me during those moments that mattered…
It was my own actions that destroyed what we had. His eyes had grown cold and his smile was only a memory that I struggled to hang onto. The weeks that followed us to the day he and Genesis were leaving for the Northern Continent had been a losing battle, and part of me knew it was my own doing.
I had no idea why I was doing it. No matter who I put the blame on—Tseng, Hojo, Genesis, whomever was convenient at the time…
It was me that kept the wounds fresh.
"I offer thee, this silent sacrifice…"
Maybe it was best that he was going away for a while. Maybe it was what I needed to clear my head. Genesis wouldn't be around to put ideas where they didn't belong, and Tseng would have the time he needed to cool down. I could also make amends. I could hold a candle for him until he returned.
This was my chance to correct my mistakes and start over. We could do it right the next time around, and I would do my best to forget that they were going to be alone together.
"That was… different," Angeal said, breaking me away from my thoughts as he stood near me and stared at the ground. He was leaning against the chained fence behind him and his arms were crossed over his chest in his usual manner. He was the only one of us that wore a sleeveless shirt and complained that nothing fit comfortably over his muscular arms.
Then Genesis closed the book he was reading to us and we both watched him close his eyes as if he were taken by the words and he needed time to contemplate their meaning.
There wasn't much to decipher in my eyes. It didn't matter that I wasn't listening to him as much as I was to my own inner struggle. It was mostly because every phrase that I happened to catch made no sense. It was the ramblings of a…
Something or other.
"It's a play by Loveless…" Genesis finally breathed out before he opened his eyes and hopelessly regarded Angeal, "And 'different' hardly does it justice."
"Well…" For a moment, Angeal hesitated before he rubbed at the back of his neck and awkwardly snickered out that, "I guess I'm just at a loss for words."
"Or a lack of understanding," Genesis said as if he were frustrated by Angeal's inability to see things the same way he did, and then they both looked at me as if searching for someone to back them up and I merely shrugged.
I didn't get it either, and I wasn't in the mood to get into the middle of their dispute. Sometimes I would do it for kicks, but this time, I had my own battle with myself.
Not to mention that Genesis was the last person I wanted to defend that day, even if I understood what the hell it was he was talking about.
As the day went on, nothing much changed. Genesis continued to recite from his book in hopes that we'd understand it the same way he did, and Tseng managed to avoid me at every turn. On the rare moments that we ran into each other by chance, he gave me the cold shoulder as if he had more important things to do than deal with me.
In a way, I was used to it. I was invisible to him. He behaved as if I meant nothing to him from the beginning, particularly when we were in public. Only, it was bothering me more than usual.
"So…" I said as I walked into his office while he was digging through his filing cabinet. Then I closed the door behind me and asked, "What's your problem?"
"I don't have time for this right now, Sephiroth," he said as he frowned when he pulled out a file. "I'm very busy."
"You're always busy."
"It's the nature of my job. You know that," he said. Irritation weighed heavy in his tone and he pulled out another file before he closed the drawer and opened the one below it so that he could rummage through that one as well.
"I get that," I grumbled. "But that doesn't change the fact that you can't even acknowledge me when we pass each other in the hallway."
"Leviathan, Sephiroth… What the hell do you want?" he asked as he slammed the drawer and turned to regard me with that angry glare of his that reminded me of a tonberry the moment you got too close to it. "Am I to tend to your ego every second I'm in your presence?"
"That's not what I'm saying."
"Really? Then what are you saying?"
"I'm saying that a simple, 'hi,' or even a nod would suffice."
"That's right…" he sarcastically said as he tossed his files onto his desk and ignored the papers that slid off the other edge from the force. "I forgot that I was supposed to salute you every time I'm in your presence."
"You've become a real jerk," I finally said as I leaned against his door and crossed my arms over my chest while regarding him as if I couldn't have been any less impressed with him. "You know that?"
"I learn from the best," he coldly responded while he stared at me like he was accusing me of something. Then he told me to get the hell out of his office and I refused to budge.
That seemed to irritate him as he darkly glared at me and gathered his files while shaking his head. Then he walked toward the door and motioned his free hand at me like he was asking me to scoot, and I still refused to move.
"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what your problem is."
"I wasn't kidding when I said I was busy," he told me with a serious tone as he nudged me to get me to move and I still refused to budge.
Then he went to push me and I reacted by flipping him onto the floor so that he landed on his back with such a force that it knocked the wind out of him and the papers in his file went flying into the air. It was a reaction—nothing more—and I coldly looked down at him while he choked and struggled for breath.
"You didn't say please," I told him in a dead tone before I noted the papers that fell from his files and I knelt down to see what was more important than me while he continued to choke for air. "Like you, I also feel that I deserve a little respect," I sarcastically said as I picked up the papers and flipped through them while slowly adding, "I also learn from the best."
Then I turned the papers over so that he could see them and asked, "What the hell is this?"
"What's it look like?" he spitefully choked out, and I placed my hand over his chest when he went to get up and pushed him back down.
"A deed?" I coaxingly asked as I held it closer to his face. "Is this what you were in a hurry for?"
I was furious over the papers all the sudden. It took everything to stop myself from trying to crush him, and I could hardly refrain from grinding my teeth when I asked, "When were you planning on telling me you were moving out?"
"I wasn't," he defiantly told me.
"So…" I started as I slowly stood and turned the signed papers over so that I could look at them again. The obvious conclusion was that he was buying his own place, and he never bothered to discuss it with me or let me know. The only signatures on it were his, and I deducted that he must have been on his way to finalize it when I came in. "You were just going to pack your things and go? What…? Were you hoping I wouldn't notice?"
"We both know there's no way you'd let me go if I bothered to discuss it with you first."
"So, you were just going to sneak out?" I asked, before I narrowed my eyes at him and added, "With Genesis?"
"Leviathan," Tseng said in frustration as he stood and readjusted his pony tail. "Is that the conclusion you've come to?" Then he went to grab the papers from me and I pushed him back. "You can't…" He hesitated for a moment as if he were overwhelmed by something before he sarcastically finished his sentence, "Come up with any other reason for me to leave than that?"
"Nothing comes to mind," I honestly told him.
I was serious. My mind was blank and all that came up was him running off with Genesis. Maybe someone else, but nothing else came to mind besides him running off to be with someone else, and it rubbed me the wrong way.
"You disgust me," he factually stated when he went to snatch his papers back from me again and I pushed him against his desk.
Then he laughed at me and motioned his hands in futility as I tore up his papers and he said, "I honestly thought you'd be happy to be on your own."
"Why's that?" I coldly asked, not really caring about the answer.
"Seriously?" he asked. "You're sick."
"That's why I'd be happy?" I asked as if I weren't really paying attention while I continued to tear his deed into the smallest possible pieces.
"No," he coldly responded as he straightened himself up and stood beside me so that he could glare at me sideways—like it had an effect or something. "I thought you'd be thrilled to have the freedom to fuck whomever you wanted—whenever you wanted—without trying to hide it or justify it."
"Why would I do that?" I asked as I opened my hands, palms to the floor, and let all his itty-bitty, tiny pieces of scrap paper fall to the floor at our feet. Then I coldly smiled at him while he stared at me in disbelief.
"There's nothing to stop me from staying in a hotel, Sephiroth."
"You used to call me 'Seph'," I responded, before I narrowed my eyes at him and said that, "And I can just as easily stop you from doing that as much as I can anything else… All I have to do is open my mouth."
"Threatening me won't get your way anymore."
"Really?" I asked. Then I flirtatiously leaned closer as if I were flattered and ignored the fact that he leaned back as if he were appalled. "Does that mean you're finally capable of admitting to the world that you willingly share a bed with other men… and that you like it?"
Then he slapped me and coldly said with a hint of concern in his voice that, "I really think you need to get your head checked."
"So do you," I responded while rubbing my cheek and keeping my eyes locked to his. "You have identity issues."
After that, I warmly smiled at him and went to caress his cheek to show that I was genuinely concerned about him. For some reason, he flinched before cautiously stepping away from me. Then he grabbed his other files, which I made sure were related to his work before I let him take them, and I asked him if he wanted me to pick up anything special for dinner that night.
"Don't make this any more difficult than it has to be," he said without looking at me as he walked to the door. "You know damned well that I'm not coming home for dinner."
"We'll see about that," I responded.
Then I picked up the papers from his floor and tidied up his desk while he opened his door and quickly walked away like he couldn't get away from me fast enough.
In a way, I knew what I was doing, and I knew that it wasn't normal. I knew it was crazy whenever I went through his belongings in his absence. I also knew that he was concerned about me and that I was torturing us both by holding him prisoner. What I was doing to him wasn't fair. It was selfish, and what I was doing to myself was self-destructive.
Back then, I didn't see it that way though, despite what I knew. All I needed was a little justification. I needed some proof. I needed him to be the bad guy so that I could use his faults as a shield against my own. Somehow, it would right the wrongs.
It didn't though, and when he didn't show up for dinner that night, I was furious. I could feel the blackness welling up inside with a wickedly explosive force, and it took everything I had to calm myself down.
Had he really gotten to the point where he didn't care?
Or was he only calling me on my bluff?
Maybe he knew I wouldn't expose him for fear of having nothing to hold over him. His fear of admitting his sexuality to the world was the only ammunition I had against him. It was the proverbial carrot, so to speak. I used it to dangle in front of his face whenever I wanted him to follow along.
Not that I'm saying he was an ass.
Well, he was in his own way, but in many ways, I may have been the one to show him how to perfect his cold exterior. I may have been the one that pushed him into the hopeless void he eventually fell into, and I may have been the one that nullified his existence.
The saddest and hardest part to believe when I examine my own actions was that I loved him. I loved him so much that the feeling ate away at whatever humanity I had inside, and the inhuman part of me conflicted with my desire for him.
I never wanted to hurt him…
I never wanted to lose him…
And most importantly, I never wanted to experience what either of those things felt like.
That's what love did to me. It made me lose track of where I was going and where I was coming from. I lost focus and my mind felt like it was rotting while my insides burned, and something inside of me abhorred that weakness and tried to convince me that I didn't need or want him.
It saw that weakness as a poison, and I think that it might have been the reason I did the things I did.
Maybe if I made a big enough mess in our relationship, it would be easier to sever the ties.
Unfortunately, it wasn't.
I couldn't find salvation through his pain because his pain was shielded by something bitter and angry, and I had no idea what it was that made him that way. There was never anything to fear in his eyes. It could all be reasoned out. Somewhere, deep in that robotic mind of his, he had something buried that made everything else seem like it was nothing.
Maybe it was nothing, and as I spent my days trying to figure him out while thinking I knew nothing about him and ignoring the fact that he told me I chose to know nothing when it came to him, I realized that maybe nothing was what I wanted.
Regardless, I chose to stay faithful to him during his absence. I kept his belongings neat while I grew frustrated over the fact that I could find no evidence of him doing anything to sabotage our relationship.
The man was perfect; exemplary. Despite the interested glances at both sexes from time to time, he left no trail of anything other than those glances. He did, however, keep a picture of his wife hidden in a pouch he fastened to the back of the top drawer to his dresser, which annoyed me but I decided there was nothing to fear from the dead. I discovered it when I started to think that if I thought like him I might be able to find something he was hiding from me.
In a way, I did.
It turned out that he and Rufus had been working on the schematics to the President's quarters. I found the blueprints fastened to the bottom of his dresser when I lifted it to see if he had anything hidden there—someone's phone number or photo, perhaps. I was hoping to find evidence of him having some sort of affair.
Unfortunately, all I found was that he and Rufus had a growing interest in the President's habits—where he ate, when he ate, whatever it was that he did routinely…
It made me think of the secrecy they shared, and the hateful way that Rufus acted whenever he was in the presence of his father. It also made me realize that I wasn't interested in whatever it was they were up to. They could kill the President for all I cared at that point. All I wanted was to find something to tarnish Tseng's glowing shine with, and I found nothing.
If there was any evidence that he'd been unfaithful, he hid it well.
Too well, and I sighed as I fastened the toilet back to the floor after carefully removing it. When I noticed how clean the bolts were, I thought he might have used it as a hiding place. Unfortunately, it was only because he asked Reno to fix it when the seal went. He replaced the bolts afterwards and I forgot about it.
During the times I wasn't out on the field saving lives, I dug up every crevice of the apartment. Loose tiles were replaced after I found nothing and I wound up hiring someone to renovate. I also told him to let me know if he found anything.
"Like what?" he naturally asked, and all I said was, "Anything unusual."
He was hesitant about what it was I was expecting him to find, and I let it slide since I was assigned to a new mission and was in a hurry to get going. When I returned a little under a month later, I decided that Tseng would at least be happy with the new kitchen and bathrooms I picked out for him.
I also discovered that nothing unusual was found and was a little disappointed. I was also disappointed that he hadn't returned yet and that I'd heard nothing from neither him nor Genesis.
When he finally returned a little over three months later, he noticed the kitchen and asked, "Why'd you renovate?"
"You don't like it," I concluded, sounding somewhat sullen over the fact that I was watching a game on the television and the first thing he said when he walked through the door was, "Turn that down."
He never greeted me, and he never said that he was glad to see me or that he missed me. I spent the entire time in his absence dedicated to him and all he could do was tell me to turn down the game and then ask why in the hell I felt it was necessary to change something that never needed changing.
"I never said that," he responded while he removed his coat. "I just asked why you did it—there was nothing wrong with it."
"I suppose you would have liked it if Genesis did it for you."
"Leviathan," he breathed out as he reached for his coat that he just removed and he started putting it back on. "I really hoped you would have cooled down by now."
"Where are you going?" I asked as I stood up and glared at him. "You just got home and now you're leaving? Did you miss him that much?"
"I can't do this anymore," he admitted as he walked to the door and I moved faster than he could have anticipated. Then he looked down at the sword I stabbed into the door to block him and he motioned his hand to it. "You need help, Sephiroth… You're losing your mind."
"The only thing I'm losing is you," I hissed at him, while he backed his face away from mine and quirked his brow before admittedly stating, "Indeed."
The argument that followed made about as much sense as everything else. He stormed into the room to grab his belongs while I put them back in the drawers just as quickly as he took them out and tore his coat off.
All the while, I accused him of doing things he never did. I knew he didn't, and he retaliated by accusing me of doing the things I did, and I could no longer deny it.
"Do you really think you can come out of this on top?" he yelled at me when I pushed him onto the bed and stopped him from getting back up. "If you can find one wrong thing with me, will it make you feel better about everything that's wrong with you?"
"I can find lots of things wrong with you," I angrily growled at him while I pinned him face-down on the bed and ripped the back of his shirt to take it off. The only thing that stopped me was when he bit my wrist, hard enough to draw blood, and when I pulled away, he quickly wiped the blood from his mouth and adjusted his shirt as if I'd shamed or humiliated him.
His actions were reminiscent of panic. At the time, I didn't bother to consider the fact that Tseng didn't bite unless it was his only option. He wasn't a biter. Instead, I chose to focus on the imaginary fact that he was a rabid little tonberry that bit me for no reason. It's what he always did.
"Leviathan…" he panted out while he slid off the opposite side of the bed from me and didn't brush his hair from hanging in his face. "Tell me you weren't going to do what I think you were going to do."
"I can't," I quietly admitted while holding the wound on my wrist while suddenly realizing what it was I did wrong. It felt like he took a chunk of flesh and the only person I could blame was myself when I came to my senses.
Then he did up the button on his pants that I didn't remember undoing, and he picked his belt from the floor that I must have pulled from his waist.
"I am not yours to control," he told me, and I defended myself by numbly stating, "That wasn't my intention."
All the while, I stared at the evidence of my intended actions in a waking state of horror.
I couldn't have done that…
"I'm going to walk to my dresser," he calmly said, "and I want you to move out of my way." There was a subtle shake to his voice and his hand when he pointed at it. He kept his attention away from me as if he couldn't stand the sight of me. "I'm going to grab a good shirt and then I'm going to the bathroom to put it on… I'm going to lock the door, and when I come out," he candidly told me while he brushed his hair from his face and looked at me like he couldn't be more disgusted with the image before him, "I want you gone."
"Where do you want me to go?" I dumbly asked, and he only shook his head like he couldn't have cared less.
"Go wherever you want, Sephiroth," he finally said when he cautiously opened his drawer as if he didn't trust me and grabbed a good shirt. "Just don't come back until after I'm gone."
"I can't do that," I admitted.
"You need help."
"I'll get it," I told him, "if you promise not to leave."
"Leviathan…" he breathed out. Then he looked at me with a weighted regret and finally said something I don't think he ever intended to say. "Do you know why you're so suspicious of me and Genesis?"
"Well," he said before he smirked with a strange look in his eyes as he carefully backed into the bathroom and placed his hand on the door as if he were getting ready for something. "It's because you're more intuitive than you thought."
Then he slammed the door shut and quickly locked it while probably hoping it would hold.
"He was a good fuck, Sephiroth," he tauntingly sang from the other side. "He satisfied me in ways you never could."
"I'm going to kill you!"
I could have killed him at that point. I probably would have, but luckily for him, I wound up telling him that he didn't have to leave, "Because I'm leaving you!
"That's right," I lowly growled after I violently smashed my hand through the door and pulled my sword out from the other while deciding it was as good a time as any to pay that back-stabbing asshole that called himself my friend a visit. "The apartment's yours…"
When I arrived at Genesis', I nearly tried to kill him without telling him why, and like usual, he welcomed the challenge and treated it like a fun game while he blocked every blow. The confrontation between me and him was unusual. It made me wonder when and where he learned to act so well. His ignorance to the attack was convincing and when I finally explained it to him, he seemed intrigued at the thought of Tseng saying such a thing.
"A good fuck?" he repeated, seeming amused before he relaxed his stance and stabbed his bejewelled sword into the floor and leaned on it as if he were suddenly mocking me. He looked mildly confused and then he cynically chuckled over the matter, "I had no idea…"
His surprise took me off guard and I wound up sheathing my own sword. I wasn't exactly sure what was going on anymore. I also wasn't sure what he was going to pull next and I decided that caution was my best defence all the sudden, but then he openly played along. I didn't really know what was going through his head at the time, or even why I started to question what was really going on. All I did know was that I left his apartment feeling as confused as he looked while telling him that he was as messed up as Tseng and that they both deserved each other.
There was no use fighting over it anymore. He could have the damned tonberry.
He made no effort to deny anything. Yet he seemed taken off guard. The best explanation I could come up with was that he wasn't expecting Tseng to confess anything to me, and since Genesis knew no shame, he wasn't sure whether to rejoice or suspect that Tseng was up to something.
That was my interpretation, and when I wound up at Angeal's door to explain what happened and to ask if I could stay at his place until I returned to Junon, he thoughtfully commented, "As long as you don't make it a habit. Unlike the two of you, I actually enjoy my own company."
Then he broadly smiled and stood out of the way to welcome me into his modestly decorated home.
Things went downhill from there. I wasn't sure if it were possible for that to happen, but I managed to prove that it was. Soldiers were no longer the only winners of my affections. I discovered that I didn't have a 'type' any more, and I discovered the convenience that money could buy. Wall Market became my new playground, and I even decided to try a female or two just to spite Tseng.
I wasn't too crazy about it and found that I had zero attraction to them while wondering how it was possible for Tseng to be married to one.
After that, I decided that one man wasn't enough for me.
It was like an addiction on a road to self-destruction, and not once, did I see the same person—or persons—twice.
I never really looked or wondered where they might be. None of them were Tseng, and that was all that mattered.
Unfortunately, it didn't help. The more I immersed myself in the smorgasbord of faceless one-night stands, the more Tseng dominated my mind. The more I felt sick, and the more I yearned for the ability to turn back the clock to the first time I strayed from the path I thought we were meant to walk together.
Also, to my surprise, Hojo seemed more appalled by my newfound hobby that he completely changed his point of view on the matter.
"What is the matter with you?" he asked while openly wondering if he should just 'put me down' like a rabid animal. "He was the best thing that ever happened to you!"
Was he really?
If that were the case, why did Hojo go through so much trouble to break us apart only to try to patch us back together?
And why did he laugh at me when I told him about Genesis?
"That's impossible!" he said, laughing at a shrill note as he walked away. "There's no way they could have slept together!"
"Why's that?" I suspiciously wondered and he shook his head while giggling at something he wasn't willing to share.
"You forget that he's my patient!"
"Your reluctant patient," I reminded him.
"No matter," he said as he shone his light in my eyes. "I'm the only one that knows his condition. He has no choice but to see me."
"What condition is that?" I asked as I blinked the lingering light away when he turned his penlight off and glared at me.
"Nobody knows his condition like I do!" he snapped. "I know his DNA inside and out!"
Then he laughed again when I narrowed my eyes in suspicion while wondering why no one else could treat Tseng after the mako incident, and why Hojo took it upon himself to take full responsibility over his 'condition.'
"Believe me, Sephiroth," he said, ignoring my curious expression, "If he were sleeping with anyone, I would know!"
"You ask too many questions!" he suddenly shouted, and then he waved his hands at me like he wanted me to get off his table. "Can't you see I have work to do? I don't have time to partake in these endless interrogations of yours!"
"It was only a question," I said as I stood up and was pushed to the door by the insane man that was everything I had to learn from.
As usual, I was left with more questions than I started with when I left Hojo's lab. It was getting to the point where I wondered why I was suspicious of any of it any more, and I began to question why I questioned anything at all.
It had no effect though, because it left me with mixed feelings. Part of me felt guilty. What if Hojo was right? Another part of me wondered if it was too late to rectify the mistakes I made. It wasn't like I advertised the abundant affairs I'd been taking part in. Maybe Tseng didn't know what I'd been up to since I walked out on him.
On the other hand, the fact that he and Genesis never denied having an affair they confessed to left me confused. Why would they lie about doing something they weren't, particularly when the outcome carried repercussions? Had I gone so far over the edge that Tseng lied so he could free himself from me? Was it his only solace?
Why did Genesis lie about it too? Was he helping him, despite the damage it had on our friendship? Had things gotten that out of control?
It couldn't have been me. There was something going on; something else. I just didn't know what it was, and after stewing over the possibilities into the hours before dawn, I decided I would just go home with no regard to where home was or whom I'd left it to.
I deserved an explanation.
Unfortunately, everything I blamed him for washed away when I quietly entered the apartment and stared at a pile of photos sticking out of a brown envelope on the coffee table. The faint light from outside was dim, but it was bright enough to help me make out the images.
It seemed like time stood still before I finally built up the courage to stare my denial in the face.
At first, I grabbed the envelope and held it so the photos fell onto the table and the floor, and then I stared at them for a moment longer. If I had any thought at that moment, I have no recollection of it. All I could do was stare at pictures of myself, bedding with other men as if I were at a free-for-all buffet.
I kept telling myself it wasn't true while I fanned them out and stared at the reality of my actions. There were too many to count; I told myself it was a lie. Someone set me up. Tseng had to know that.
There was no way I could have done what I was doing in those photos. It was a lie. Each one was taken with a date and time-stamped camera. There was no way I could have done all those things with that many people within the duration I did them. Some of them even had the same date.
Most of which, suggested I started it the day after I walked out on Tseng.
Who did this?
Not only was I asking who could have taken the pictures, I was also asking who it was that was in them. It couldn't have been me. I was never that out of control.
Worst of all, Tseng must have seen them.
When that thought hit me, I stood up and barely noticed the broken kitchen table as if someone were thrown onto it, even the splinters sticking out of the doorframe and the hole in the wall seemed lacking in importance. The only important thought at that moment was that I had to convince him I was set up. If I were in the right frame of mind instead of focussing on a small pile of everything I denied, I might have noticed that the entire apartment was in disarray.
Knowing what I know now, there was a fight between two individuals. One was Tseng, and the other was the one that brought him the photos.
Tseng didn't want to see them. He knew, but he never wanted to be confronted by the solid reality of it. He never wanted to know exactly how unfaithful I really was, and he sure as hell didn't want to see it. He was happier just guessing and never really knowing.
It made it easier for him to deny that he allowed himself to be as betrayed as he was, but then someone slapped him in the face with an envelope full of proof. Some of the dates on the photos went further back to a time before I walked out on him, and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what kind of sick individual would follow me around like that.
As a result, he asked that person to leave. He wanted to be alone.
When he met with resistance, a fight broke out, and when I opened the bedroom door that was partially broken off one of its hinges, something went off inside.
It was like a bomb in my head while something else exploded out of my chest.
Whatever it was, it was uncontrollable and dark, and it took over me in the instance of a flame being snuffed out.
It wanted to see him dead, and just like the speed of lightning, my sword came crashing down with a vibrating clang when it met the resistance of another's.
It was an adorned blade, red and bejewelled, and it was a hair's width from saving Tseng's life. That's how fast he was. His reflexes had always been exceptional. If anyone were to ever surpass me, it would have been him. From a dead sleep to a defensive, lifesaving feat, he came to the rescue, and a part of me wondered if he was expecting me while I glared at him, lying naked in my own bed beside my own lover, half-covered by my own sheets and smiling up at me like he finally achieved something he'd been trying to achieve his entire life.
"You would kill the man to make him pay for your own mistakes?" he quietly asked, challenging and almost mocking me while Tseng stirred and opened his eyes before letting out an unimpressed snort at the sight of our crossed swords over his chest.
Then he muttered out, "Leviathan," and rolled his eyes as if he'd become accustomed to the scenario and was expecting no less. In his eyes, I probably got what he felt I wanted all along. My accusations about him and Genesis had finally come true.