Alright. Got another word prompt... one that I actually had time and motivation to do. Plus, this finally gives me something to write, while I wait for chapter nine to be looked at. I should probably just start making myself do these weekly prompts since I find I feel very accomplished upon finishing them.

But anyway... let's get to it.

Warning: Slash. You'll come to not be surprised about to see this from me...

As always. R&R I'm eager to hear what you all think~


Zack never failed to find something new that set Sephiroth apart from others.

Aside from his exotic, seemingly otherworldly appearance, imposing height, and unmatched strength and agility, he possessed an intellect that could put most so-called geniuses to shame and a capacity for learning that allowed him to grasp most subjects he'd never been schooled in. He possessed an amazing talent for art, Zack discovered one day when he found a hidden book filled with amazing pencil drawings, and he later learned that at one time, Sephiroth had taken up painting and would sneak to an instrument shop in the city to play an old grand piano the shop could never seem to sell.

Despite his power, knowledge, and position, Sephiroth's only arrogance came forth in battle. He was surprisingly unsure of himself for a man that knew and had accomplished so much, shy, and clueless about basic human interaction. The man was also seemingly loyal to a fault, his overwhelming sense of duty going so far as to keep him working well after most would call it a day. Zack was fairly sure if a normal person worked the way his lover did, they would have literally worked themselves to death.

But one thing Zack discovered, something that would cause his heart to often ache, was that Sephiroth never seemed to experience a true moment of peace.

Even with the emotion schooled from his face, there was almost always the slightest furrow of his brow. His body, though it moved so gracefully, was often tensed, muscles painfully knotted. Sometimes, Zack could even detect the slightest edge to Sephiroth's voice when he spoke.

At first, none of this bothered Zack. He was sure that once the two of them were more comfortable with each other he could find ways to put his lover at ease, and it seemed that such efforts paid off after a time... until Zack began looking deeper.

When Sephiroth would smile at him—that tentative, gentle upturn of his lips that made Zack's heart flutter—Zack could still see pain, fear, and uncertainty behind glowing cyan eyes. When they would lie together, warm in each other's arms, Zack would run his hands along soft, pale skin and feel the tensed muscle underneath.

Sleep wasn't even a peaceful escape for the man. He would mutter wordlessly, tremble, toss, and turn only to jerk awake with a fearful sound. Zack would always pretend to have been awakened by the sound, pretend he had not seen his lover in the midst of whatever nightmare seemed to plague him. He would ask if Sephiroth wanted to talk about it, but his lover always refused, saying it was nothing of concern.

It became increasingly disconcerting the more he observed.

There was still fear whenever they were intimate. Sephiroth would still flinch just the slightest at his touch, and a look of fear would pass over his face with every advance Zack made.

He would fall into disturbing lapses of silence, face going blank. But Zack came to notice that his eyes were ever alert... just not alert to anything Zack could perceive. It would be as if something only Sephiroth could see was grabbing his attention something with such an influence that it could make him stop everything and channel ever last bit of focus on... whatever that something was... Sometimes, he would even tilt his head just the slightest, as if there were a voice he could barely detect fighting for his attention.

It was even worse after a visit to the labs, the mako likely having some sort of effect on whatever it was in Sephiroth's mind.

He'd walked into his lovers apartment to hear him conversing with someone, only to find him in the bedroom, that blank look upon his face, eyes that shined with mako staring far off but clearly focused as if he were looking at someone. Zack once even grew bold and stood right in front of him, and watched as Sephiroth didn't even pause, staring through him. But this gave Zack the chance to see confusion written on his lovers face, as if the voice spoke a different language, or didn't speak a language at all and he were trying to make sense of it.

Sephiroth would come out of such trances with intense migraines, and the look of pain and bemusement would keep Zack from ever asking about what happened. He would just fetch a glass of water and couple of those pain killers that seemed designed just for Sephiroth's enhanced system, and then sit next to him while he gathered himself.

The nightmares seemed to be much worse on such nights as well, and Zack would wonder if the two were connected somehow.

To witness it all was painful, but what hurt the most was that it was constant. Sephiroth refused to divulge whatever it was that bothered him, what always kept him tensed and confused, what made him continue to shy from his touch, what tormented him so that he could never have even a moments peace.

He was sure that there was no one thing to blame, but if he could just remove one of them and it allow for even a rare moment where there was no tension, no fear, no confusion, it would be worth it. So he continued to ask, and put forth every effort he could to show his sincerity.

"You can talk to me, Seph," he would say. "I love you, and you know I'd never judge or think less of you."

Some days, Sephiroth wouldn't even look at him. Other days he would look into his eyes... and he would almost say something, only to stop himself. And he would give Zack that smile—that damned beautiful smile that could make Zack's heart flutter in his chest only moments before it shattered. He could see the pain, the fear, the confusion, and desperation that swirled in a void of brilliant cyan and mako green.

"I know, Zack... but it's nothing. I am fine," Sephiroth would say... and it would end there.