Another Interlude! And on Christmas Eve - Edited Version now up!

Merry Christmas, and place leave a review:)

Genesis stood over the lake just outside the Forgotten City. Cloud had been busy the last month and that had given Vincent and Genesis some time to get to know each other better. The former Shinra Commander had reasonably feared that Vincent would hate him for his involvement in Deepground, but in the end Vincent had been able to see the other man's place as a victim in all of Shinra's mess far more than he could see his own.

In fact, it seemed that coming face to face with someone, whose own weighted guilt had the potential to surpass his own, seemed to put a few things in to prospect for the silent gunman.

"So this is it." The ginger took in a deep breath and closed his eyes.

"You wanted to see it." Vincent simply crossed his arms and let Genesis do what he felt he needed to.

"I think part of me is still a monster." He breathed, bringing a fist to rest over his heart. "I know she died here and I know how much she meant to him. That he was falling in love with her. That he couldn't remember me and, even if he had at that time, there would have been nothing there for him..."

Vincent for his part stayed silent, letting the ginger talk. Genesis wasn't looking for answers, at least not from the gunman.

"I never knew her." The ginger picked up again. "I know the basics. She had been in the labs herself as a young child. She dated Zack, she was half Cetra, she was a beautiful, sweet person." He sighed again.

"I can't mourn someone I didn't lose." Genesis bent his knees to bring himself closer to the water, staring into their depths.

He grew quiet as he looked, not even sure himself what he was looking for. All the while Vincent was standing off to the side. Though at least he understood now why the man had never asked Cloud to bring him here. Genesis was trying to reconcile something and having his lover here, who he'd only just regained, would not have been conducive to what he was trying to accomplish.

This fact was made even more clear as Genesis started talking again.

"Really, all I can think about is Sephiroth." The ginger admitted. "I was so cruel to him, I was seeking pain to torture him with the knowledge that, like me, he was born a monster. But really all I wanted was to not be alone. "

Genesis's index finger dipped into the water as it rippled out softly. "Everything I did caused Cloud pain. Sephiroth destroy his town, killed his mother, nearly killed him. All because of what I'd done to him. And here he took the life of Aerith."

"Cloud doesn't blame you." Vincent finally offered, taking a step closer to the water himself.

"He should." Genesis sat down on the bank, glancing up at his company. "And really, in the end, that's the problem, isn't it? Cloud should be furious with me. Want me dead more than Sephiroth. I'm the one that caused him pain. But he just smiles at me, tells me he loves me." The ginger threaded his hands through his hair. His eyes had fallen back on the water like it held some great answers.

No one, it seemed, was willing to blame him for what he'd done. Not Minerva, not Cloud, not Cloud's friends. A laugh escaped his lips, however, he was pretty sure that, if Sephiroth was standing here right now, the man would be willing to blame him, to end his life for the sins he committed. But Sephiroth was just a shadow of the man he had once been.

Vincent had to admit he liked hearing about the better half of Lucrecia's son. The man that had been a hero and not a monster. Genesis had given him that, but Cloud was always furious when the ginger suggested that his most hated enemy had been a victim as well and the former Shinra commander was quick to abandon that line of conversation. No one debated what Sephiroth was now and Genesis felt he'd done enough damage to his blond to ever push the subject.

"Tell me more about him. How you met him." It was a selfish request from Vincent and not one he dared to ask with Cloud around, but it was obvious that Genesis need to talk about something. And even if he could hold a conversation well, the gunman could listen.

"Everyone saw him as this untouchable hero." Genesis started. "He could be inspiring to watch. Masamune was just an extension of himself. I was jealous. Even before I knew anything about the experiments that made us, I was jealous. He was younger than me, yet at 15 he had become a 1st Class SOLDIER and a war hero. And I was stuck in Banora picking apples and making apple juice. I had thought I'd really achieved something until I'd read the spread on him." The ginger chuckled.

"It was right after that I packed my bags, convinced Angeal to join me and made my way to Midgar." Genesis had a small smile on his face, the memories now were bitter sweet for him. "We did amazing on our entrance exam and spent less than 6 months in the cadet program. But it didn't matter what we did, we still weren't as good as Sephiroth. Honestly, by the time I finally met, the man I hated him. But then when I was introduced, I discovered someone who just wanted to be normal. The closer we got to him, the more we realized what he had sacrificed to become the man he was. I was still vain, I wanted to be as good as him. I wanted to best him. Something to prove my worth." There was twinge of regret in his voice.

"I was a horrible friend, but Sephiroth didn't have anything to compare it to, so he was content, I suppose. Angeal had double duty managing the two of us and making sure that we didn't destroy the building or hurt some harmless cadet. We pushed each other to be better. I ended up respecting him somewhere along the way rather than feeling envy. I didn't want what he had anymore, I wanted to have my own. But when I got sick, Hollander pushed me into destroying it all." Genesis sighed, closing his eyes once more.

Vincent didn't comment on the fact that it had turned into a story more about himself than Sephiroth, these were things the man obviously needed to get out.

Maybe, just maybe, he was also beginning to understand what drove Lucrecia to lock herself way in the same manner Genesis had. Cloud at least had been lucky that the man had been driven to wake up from his slumber despite his guilt.

It was true that Vincent had been a bit cautious when it had come to this man. Especially after hearing the back story that accompanied it. He'd heard a little bit about the man known as 'G' during the incident with Deepground. He knew enough to realize that, who ever this man had been, he had been used by the company just as surely as the rest of them.

It wasn't a person Vincent even thought was still alive, let alone someone the reclusive gunman thought he would meet. When Cloud had introduced him to "Genesis Rhapsodos", Vincent instantly knew that this was the 'G' in the reports.

It was obvious that Genesis had expected some kind of negative reaction out of him. And, later learning of Tifa's own response, he understood why, but Genesis was living in his own guilt, much the same way Vincent himself had been.

Whether or not he was good for Cloud, someone Vincent considered a dear friend, wasn't as clear. It was obvious that the blond was happier than he'd been since they had met. Even as the signs of the world falling apart around them began to spring up, he had a smile on his face.

But Genesis had a history and Vincent knew that, if the former Commander found a reason to run again, then Cloud really would break completely, this time nothing could help him put the pieces back together.

In the end however, Vincent had kept his concerns to himself, watching, but never interfering. It truly wasn't his place. And along the way, he realized how much Genesis cared for Cloud. How much his past mistakes hurt him.

I wasn't until Sephiroth resurfaced again that everything had been tested.

He had appeared in the northern crater. Ghost of his former self, as Genesis would have described, but a power to finish what he started.

Sephiroth hadn't been expecting Genesis, but that didn't stop him. The former Commander had stood at Cloud's side and barbs that had once been directed solely at Cloud now found a new acidic tone with the redhead's presence.

Jenova's son had been relentless in the fight, tearing apart the man who had betrayed him so thoroughly. Taunting him, leaving the man nearly useless.

It had been a surreal experience for Cloud. And while the encounter had caused Genesis's own guilt to deepen, all it did for Cloud was to cause the hatred for the man to grow. Sephiroth had taken everything from him and he wasn't about to let him destroy the man he loved.

Cloud's victory was swift if not costly. Genesis had withdrawn and again began to question whether he even deserved to be around Cloud after what he'd done.

Vincent was preparing for Genesis to leave, to find his way back to his crystal prison. He couldn't stop him, just be there to help make sure Cloud didn't fall apart again.

But then to his amazement Genesis stayed. He never knew exactly what transpired between Cloud and his lover, it wasn't his business and he never asked, but it seemed that, in the months following the incident, both Cloud and Genesis especially seemed lighter.

The pair had obviously come to terms with something and Vincent stopped worrying that Genesis might one day disappear, eventually finding himself a new friend.

Now though it was clear to Vincent that Genesis still had issues with his past, especially his involvement with Sephiroth's downfall.

"From what you've told me, there was much you were at fault for." Vincent started, so pragmatic at times that it hurt. "But, there was also a lot you were not." The irony that he was telling someone this was not lost on him, as much as he'd been urged the same.

Genesis just sighed, but remained quiet. There were some things he wondered if he could ever make up for.

The cave sang with near silent whispers, but the pair standing here could make out the call of a woman's voice thanks to the experiments ran on them by Shinra.

"This is his mother then?" Genesis asked, looking up at one Lucrecia Crescent.

Vincent just nodded, he wasn't sure what he hoped to accomplish by bringing Genesis here. Except for Lucrecia to hear about her son from someone who didn't utter his name with distain.

It was odd for the ginger to look upon Sephiroth's mother. She looked younger than he did and he knew that she had preceded him in her crystal stasis. Though as far as anyone knew, she had no connection to Minerva.

There were times Genesis wondered about his own mother. Who she had been, if she had loved him. If she'd been a willing experiment like Lucrecia had been. He shook his head however. There was no way he would ever know the truth. All the records surrounding him had been destroyed and, even if they hadn't, he imagined that they'd have been as truthful as the ones listing Jenova as Sephiroth's mother.

The former commander took a deep breath. Part of him knew that Vincent hoped that she would wake up after finding out that her son had not been a monster. Genesis didn't want to disappoint his friend, but he doubted it would have made a difference. Still however he wasn't going to deny the woman his story.

"I know you don't know who I am." He started. "But I was friends with your son." Was this some kind of atonement? He didn't know, but it was at least worth the effort.

Genesis walked into the bar, tired and sore. Cloud was out on a delivery to the Gold Saucer and he'd spent the day fighting off the monster encroaching on Edge. Rufus's little rag tag group of fighters were making strides, but the truth of the matter was that the monster population was increasing too fast for them to keep up.

Still, he was amazed by the way the men treated him. The awe they showed him. He'd never received such respect even when he'd been one of Shinra's commanders. These men trusted him, looked at him with confidence.

His younger self would have basked in the glory, as it was now however, he just wondered how much he deserved it.

And it wasn't it enough. They hadn't lost any men today, but they'd been close. Genesis's cure materia had seen as much use as his fire.

As he made his way into the back apartment he now shared with Cloud, he was surprised to see Vincent sitting at the table. The man rarely if ever made social calls, and, as far as Genesis knew, Sephiroth was inactive.

"I'm sorry to say, Cloud's not here at the moment." Genesis informed the gunman, hanging his coat by the door.

"I'm not here for Cloud." Vincent replied as he tossed a packet down on the table.

"What's this?" The gingers asked curiously as he picked up the unmarked envelop.

Vincent moved from his place against the wall, eyes studying Genesis for a moment before he spoke again. "There were are lot of files Veld kept, personal files from the Turks that even the current administration didn't have access too. My former partner kept his secrets well hidden."

Genesis just watched the former Turk curiously, Vincent never spoke unless it was important, so even though the man didn't understand why the gunman was telling him this, he knew to listen, never mind that he didn't understand the point at the moment.

Vincent then continued on with his explanation as Genesis held the package. "I agreed to help them crack Veld's files, in return I asked them to take a look for certain pieces of information."

At this point the gunman gestured to the packet he had delivered. "They found the records of your birth. I haven't read them myself, but I thought you deserved to know."

Genesis started shaking as his eyes went straight to the large envelop. Carefully he opened it, pulling out a printed document.

A young couple in an attached photograph was the first thing he noticed. The man had his arm around the woman's waist, obviously very pregnant. He was wearing an old Shinra uniform, tall with black hair and blue eyes. The woman was a least a head shorter, familiar red hair and green eyes, that were slightly glowing, smiling at the camera.

There were records. Nothing too personal, the names, 'Roselyn Haviland' 'Cedric Haviland.' It didn't even explain what they did for a living or why they had participated in the project that had such an impact on his life. What they knew of it.

Death certificates were part of the paperwork. Roselyn had died in childbirth, his father 6 months later in Wutai. It wasn't until then that the adoption paperwork was drawn up in Banora.

Genesis closed his eyes, it was more than he'd ever though he'd get. And more than Sephiroth was able to have. "Thank you." He muttered as Vincent placed a hand on his shoulder.

A rare smile slipped on the gunman's face, even if Genesis couldn't see it.