This was originally a poem, "Yearning" a stream-of-conscious thought of Angeal's, centering in a pre-Crisis Core time frame. I took the events of the poem and stretched them out into a small story about friendship, and above all, insight.

For all the Gengeal lovers, for all the people who introduced this pairing to me, this is for you.

"I don't want to live a day without you

I just want to make you happy." ~ "Happy" Secrets in Stereo

The change was subtle, almost indiscernible to the naked eye. At a passing glance, his best friend seemed perfectly happy, if not utterly content. He smiled, laughed, engaged in conversations with those in his company, as the same thirteen-year-old with the most unique name that he knew.

There was nothing about him that had been altered, certainly not. It was just him reading too deeply into something that might not have been there, or existed at all.

And yet he knew Genesis too well to know that wasn't the case. The smile, the stretch of lips over pearl-white teeth was no longer carefree, without the burden of a future responsibility. The act was now filled with something that he couldn't place, somewhere between the hard line the adults in the village had across on mouths, and the grim slash of encumbrance that made others appear as if their lips were sagging. There was something missing from Genesis's smile, a certain levity.

Genesis's laugh, the once musical laughter that began loudly before filtering into something that gently shook his shoulders, creating audible joy was now nothing more than a brief guffaw, if that. The sound was a brittle noise that stopped just moments before it began, sputtering to death with all the grace of a doused match. There were many things missing from his laugh as of late.

Angeal supposed that as to conversations went, Genesis was still the same. He spoke when spoken to, answered questions, and met others' eyes. That was a bit of a new habit he acquired, for those in the army were taught to be respectful and do all of those things automatically, and knowing Genesis, he wished to have a sort of edge on whatever manner of competition that would come his way.

There should have been no need for alarm, for seeking something that wasn't there. That was the trouble though: there was something there, something hurting his friend. It was just a matter of getting him to confide in him.

"Would you like to talk about something?"

Blue eyes narrowed, focusing on the page of his book once before lifting, revealing annoyance, but most of all, inquiry in azure depths. Years of being with him made Angeal disregard the former, for Genesis had always hated people interrupting his reading, no matter who they were to him.

"What about?" Genesis gestured with his chin to the space of grass to his left, and he gladly took it. His back settled against the bark and he quickly took in the sight of his friend.

Nothing had changed in his physical appearance, at least not at a side-glance. His clothing was the same, a simple attire of faded pants, running shoes and an old shirt. His hair was the same red, a red that he could spot in a crowd of hundreds, letting him know that he'd never lose sight of him. His book was the same collection of poems, LOVELESS, cream-colored pages and flowing script that he personally didn't care for.

It was only when someone got extremely close that they saw it, if they chose to. It was Genesis's body language, his eyes, and to his dismay, even his voice. He wasn't sitting straight up anymore, and when he did attempt erect posture, there seemed to be some sort of invisible thread, strung together with iron, pulling his shoulders and chin down. It was as if he was attempting to hide, to cave into himself. That wasn't the Genesis he knew.

It could have been anything, but it wasn't just anything.

His best friend's eyes always fostered what he called an inner-fire, something that revealed itself as he was reading, was interested in a conversation, or deep in concentration. The blue of his pupil seemed to be even more so, his lashes curling skyward to reveal intensity, un-hindered ambition for his allotted tasks.

Now even that was gone, replaced with the cold light of anger. For the moment, it was as if Angeal really wasn't wanted there, two feet from him.

That only meant that Genesis needed him now more than ever.

"Anything really." It was only then that Angeal realized that Genesis was in his special spot, leaned up against a not-quite foliaged dumbapple tree. He wasn't sure why he was blinded to the surroundings for the moment, but he figured it had everything to do with having eyes only for Genesis, with finding him.

Leaning his own back on the bark, Angeal's head nestled against the trunk, eyes turning to the sky. "We don't have to; it just looked like you needed company."

That last part was said on impulse. Yes, Genesis had looked like he needed company, someone to simply be with, but it could have been anything. What mattered was, that to him, Genesis looked lonely, if not downright sad.

"Mm. Is it alright if we just stay quiet?" Angeal met his eyes, and nodded his assent. There was nothing pressing they had to do at the moment, no chores, no training; nothing but an afternoon of leisure in the summer.

After awhile, a few words were exchanged, words that let Angeal know that he was right: there was something going on.

Genesis was always hard to get to open up, especially about the problems he concealed, hiding and burying them so deep within himself that they were forgotten, suppressed somewhere secretive.

'Until I go and bring it up that is.' It was healthy to get him talking, to get him going like this. If they couldn't even do this, talk like the friends that they were, then how would they survive the army? Comrades in arms, brothers, fighters for a cause had to stick together, had to communicate; anything less would lead to defeat, on and off the battlefield.

Genesis always was good with words and this time was no different. He spoke of going through something, a type of inner-frustration that he didn't think he'd ever get out of. A phase, a transition, whatever it was was hurting him, keeping him from being the once carefree young man who had been his friend since infancy.

"I'm not happy. That's really all there is to it. There's not a reason behind it...I'm just not."

There was nothing he could say immediately after, nothing that would help matters. He simply scooted closer, his leg knocking against Genesis's knee every so often, a small smile on his lips. Genesis would be a man of words; he would be a man of actions.

"I just want you happy. If there's something I can do for you, anything, I'll do it." There was that smile again, the smile that still didn't quite reach those eyes of his, and a laugh that made him sound as if he was choking on nails.

"Happiness. I want it too. Perhaps that's the gift of the Goddess?" Genesis turned towards him, proving his notion correct once more. Pain was everywhere: in the shadowed slant of his face, the blue of his eyes, the gentle quirk of his lips. How he could have missed that was beyond Angeal's understanding, the truth that Genesis, his best friend, was truly unhappy.

He vowed in blood, by his body, his presence, even the Goddess herself that he'd help Genesis in any way he could. If by simply being next to him helped, even if he was frustrated or angry for no reason that Genesis could think of, he'd stay. He'd sit in silence if that was what it took for Genesis to divulge and confide in him again.

"I think it's closer than you realize, Genesis."

There was a long pause, a silence that made Angeal second-guess everything he had previously thought. Friends didn't give up on one another, especially during times like this. However, if he had done something wrong, mis-spoke or gave him bad advice, he'd never forgive himself. He would be estranged from the world when he was of age; he didn't want to leave Genesis behind as well, or be separated from him.

"...stay with me?" How could he not? There was relief in that response, consolation found without end. For, it proved to him that he had done no wrong by asking.

"Of course."

Sometime later, as he carried a dozing Genesis back to the inner-village, he found part of what was missing: his smile. It was never gone, only revealed at a time where others couldn't see it. Was that what his friend was becoming, someone hidden, to where the things that used to come naturally to him were shown only when no one was looking? Or rather, when he was allowed to slip into dreams, a place where responsibility and seemingly surface level pain didn't bother him?

No, for he was looking, and he was there; it would return during the day-time hours, Angeal was sure of it.

He didn't expect for Genesis to open his eyes half way back, to wake up from his sleep. He wanted to apologize, to say that he was almost home, but he stopped, because there it was: his smile, the light in his eyes, and at the last, a genuine laugh.

"I'm happy with you." The words were hushed, but they might as well have been resonating through to his inner-ear, enveloping his core, his heart, reassuring him that he was the one who Genesis needed, the one who could help him through this turbulence, whether it was a phase or something more long-lasting.

It was no burden, but a willing cross he would bear, time and again. It was the highest honor, to be the source of someone's happiness, to be the reason someone was smiling. It was a simple yearning, but it was his alone.

"What an honor."