Okay, well... It's not an update to OtR, but I've just been in a rut for too damn long.

I managed to get a couple things written, this being one of them, but the other is a piece taking place in a later part of Ruin's plot. Can't have any spoilers, now can we?

Now that I have been able to prove to myself that I still have the basic ability to write halfway decently, I may try working on finishing the next chapter of Onward to Ruin. I did manage to start it, but...well life's a bitch, don'tcha know.

Anyway, onto fic stuff.

This is Seph/Zack...so SLASH. There be SLASH. Mild slash but slash nonetheless.

Enjoy.


He had piano hands...

That's what Zack so affectionately named them. His long graceful fingers seemed crafted for no other purpose than to glide so effortlessly across the ivory keys. His body as a whole moved with grace and fluidity, allowing for his hands to travel so smoothly. But it was not just his hands that made him a perfect match for the instrument. His memory and ability to retain information was perfect for memorizing the complicated—to Zack—notes of the sheet music.

Even the most complex of pieces were played flawlessly, each note perfectly executed, no pause too long or too short, Sephiroth's need for perfection preventing him from making even the slightest of errors. The family that ran the music store in the city said he would likely make even the original composers envious.

He was made to play.

Were it not for the fact that such a massive object would be near impossible to get into the building, Zack would have bought the damn thing and placed it in the middle of Sephiroth's living room a hundred times over. He could see the way Sephiroth's eyes would light up at the sight of it, and he could see the longing each time they had to go. And he was sure his lover would be crushed the day it was sold.

It seemed so cruel for the man to be denied something so beautiful, so elegant...something so much like himself.

The very first time he watched him, Zack was just slightly unnerved by the lack of outside emotion. He played with a surgical accuracy but seemingly with no heart, making the music sound so empty... But sitting next to the older man now, Zack could feel it so well, the sadness and the joy of each piece, the passion that just yearned to break the surface. And even though his face schooled away all emotion, Sephiroth's eyes never failed to give it away. They would glow and dim with every note, his pupils becoming tight slits as he concentrated, only to slowly dilate as he lost himself in the moment. When he played, he was thousands of miles away, far from Shinra, Midgar... far from all the pain and injustice, in his own tiny world; Zack was perfectly content to watch, to lose him for a moment's time, to allow him just the briefest sense of freedom.

The instrument was old, apparently in the same spot since the shop was opened decades ago. A few would sit and play a few notes, others would admire its beauty. But Sephiroth had been the first to actually sit and play. The woman that watched them now from the register had been there to watch him when he first ventured here. She answered his every question, showed each and every little thing, how this and that worked, how to work them properly.

She told Zack once of how he spent so much time just tuning it, ensuring it was exactly to his liking. How he inspected everything to ensure it worked as well as it could. She told him she'd never seen a novice—a teenager no less—be so careful, as if a single touch to the wrong place would cause it to break.

No one else seemed to touch it after that.

He watched those fingers glide over worn keys, noted the contrast of his pale skin to the aging ivory. He played a slow song this time, one that was soft but somber. Zack watched his hands for just a moment more before looking up to his face. There was no expression there, his lips set in a neutral line, but he could see the faintest glow in those cyan eyes as they followed his fingers. He could see the slow expansion of his pupils, and he smiled. He was far, far away, only a small part of his mind anchored to the present for no other reason than to ensure his hands moved correctly. Sometimes he was tempted to touch him, to brush fingers through his hair, but the last thing he wanted to do was risk startling him, dragging him from his escape.

He could tell that Sephiroth was happy like this, and with so little happiness in his life, Zack would make sure that even small moments like these lasted as long as possible.

So he sat in silence, listening and watching, admiring the utter perfection he was privileged to witness. He allowed himself to feel the emotions pouring from his lover's being, emotion so rarely expressed. He would marvel at those hands, sculpted perfectly for this instrument, and inwardly wonder how something so beautiful was to live a life as a weapon and not a musician. He would wonder what their future would hold for them; maybe one day this piano could be his, as it rightfully should be.

The song ended entirely too soon, in Zack's opinion, but he watched quietly as Sephiroth emerged from his trance, as his fingers slowed and finally stilled.

He smiled when those eyes settled on him, and he reached up, gently stroking over one of his hands... those perfect hands.

"We can stay longer, if you want," Zack said quietly. "Not like one more song can hurt."

Sephiroth just shook his head.

"I have been distracted long enough. I still have work to do."

Zack's smile faltered just slightly. He could see it in Sephiroth's eyes, the desire to stay just a few minutes more, to escape for just bit longer. But he would never allow himself to do so. His work and his duty to a company that so abused his devotion always came first and that would never change.

Zack nodded.

"Okay, Seph. Maybe we'll come back tomorrow."

Sephiroth offered just the faintest of smiles, but to Zack it spoke volumes. There was no way they would not be back tomorrow.

They both stood, and Zack noted the way Sephiroth's fingers lingered on the keys. He looked up and saw that brief look of longing on his face. The desire to go to that register and make the damn purchase had never been stronger. As stupid and rash as it would be, it would be worth a couple of his paychecks just to make the man smile and give him what was probably the only object he would ever allow himself to want.

But even if he bought it... how would he get it into the building with no one seeing? How would he sneak it into Sephiroth's living room in secret? It just wasn't realistic, as much as he wanted to say fuck being realistic...

They walked past the counter, and Zack noticed the sympathetic look on the woman's face. He gave her brief, somewhat sad smile as they walked out the door, wordlessly assuring that they'd be back tomorrow.

Zack just hoped the piano would still be there to greet them.