This is a story written for bibochan on Y!gallery as a gift for all her amazing Gen/Seph art. The prompt was all hers and I was more than happy to write the story out for her. This is just chapter 1, more will follow soon enough.
Genesis stood getting ready to board the Shinra transport that would take him to Wutai. It was his first mission as a SOLDIER 1st Class, and he was already irritated. He'd thought after everything, his first mission would be alone. That's the way things normally went after all. No, instead, he had to be assigned with that pompous asshole of a Hero, Sephiroth. Back in Banora if you'd told a younger Genesis that he would be going on missions with the "Great Silver General." he would have swooned with happiness. Like a lot of young men and women he'd harbored a crush on Sephiroth. The man had been perfect in his eyes, and heaven help you if you even spoke one word against him.
Reality had a way of shattering your fantasies, and as Genesis worked his way up the ranks, and actually got to interact with the man, he'd found him cold and uncaring. It was almost like the man didn't know how to feel. The ginger had tried to get closer to the man, and thought it had been going well. Sephiroth would talk to him and Angeal, interact a bit when they weren't on duty. As it went Genesis started to lose his boyhood crush, and his hero worship of the man. In its place respect he thought was mutual started to grow and the ginger really thought they might have at least become friends.
Suddenly, however something in Sephiroth changed. The General had begun to distance himself from Genesis, and only Genesis, it seemed Angeal still spoke to the man on a regular basis. It was frustrating, maddening, and just plain insulting to the redhead. Every attempted he'd made to figure out what had happened was rebuffed.
Apparently the Great General found him unworthy of his time. It wasn't a new concept for the red head. A lot of people thought Genesis was unworthy of their time. However this didn't piss him off any less. Any affection or respect he'd ever felt for the man had now been replaced with contempt.
Genesis was jarred from his thoughts as the man of his ire walked out onto the tarmac. Every head present turned to look as the General graced them with his presence. Black coat flowing out as he walked, silver hair fluttering behind him, black boats moving almost soundlessly across the ground. Sephiroth walked with the posture of a living god. Every little movement was control, and as such not even a glance was spared in Genesis's direction which only served to further boil his blood. This was supposed to be his mission, a chance to prove himself. He knew that wouldn't happen with the General here. Any victories won would be attributed to General Sephiroth, and that smug ass bastard knew it.
Suppressing a growl, Genesis climbed in the plane. If Sephiroth couldn't even be bothered to talk to him about the mission, then Genesis wouldn't think about him. Harder said than done when the ginger's temper wasn't easy to control, and he had nothing else to do but let it grow on the flight to Wutai.
It was as such by the time they settled on the landing strip near the command post, Genesis had successfully managed to alienate most of the men serving in his unit. His reputation was well known, and the fact that his hands kept sparking fire as he sat and stewed over the situation caused everyone around him to stay clear. Normally this wouldn't have been an issue but when the man was already angry over avoidance issues it only add fuel to a raging fire.
When he finally did meet Sephiroth's gaze there was a small frown on his features that could almost be taken for concern if Genesis hadn't known better. In his current frame of mine it conveyed nothing but disapproval. The redhead held back a snarl, as he made his way to the command area. Genesis had a right to be there, and Minerva be damned if he was going to let the General take that away from him too.
The path from the plane to the command tent only added to his mood. It was obvious he didn't carry the same presence the illustrious Silver General did. SOLDIERs and infantry alike paid him no heed, except to hurry out of his way as he passed. Most were caught up in their own personal lives, gossiping just outside their assigned tents, or running for the makeshift mess hall. Genesis had long ago learned to filter out the background noise his ears could pick up, but as it was he could focus on certain keywords and phrases.. "Oh my Gaia did you see that Sephiroth's here! We'll probably be going ho-" Genesis shut them out, not needing to hear more whispers of how wonderful Sephiroth was.
The air was hot and humid in the dense Wutai jungle, one of the few things he was thankful for, it was close to Banora's weather and much preferable to the dry desert heat, or the could chilly air of the north. Bird were singing in the trees, but the natural beauty was lost on the commander as he reached his destination.
As he opened the burlap tent flap he saw an older man, dressed in an officer's uniform, graying hair, tall with a thin face that hadn't aged well. The officer was standing there leaning over some maps placed upon a center table. Around them were board with various notes and battle plans, and even more maps of different areas pinned up. . As man glanced up and spotted Genesis, a bit of disappointment flashed across his features and he turned away a bit dismissively from the crimson SOLDIER. It was obvious he wasn't the person that the man had been waiting for, and Genesis's own demeanor fell further. He was worth something damnit, and right now the urge to prove that to this pompous old man rose, as did the need to fireball him in the face for the insult. Sephiroth chose this time to enter, and again didn't even look at Genesis. Only adding to the tension that apparently only the ginger could feel. As the Officer looked up, his expression transformed, slipping from a passively dismissive mask to something a little more pleased.
"Ah just who I was waiting for." the man smiled, obviously directed at Sephiroth rather than the ginger, as Genesis crossed his arms, temper barely contained.
The General nodded, not correcting him that this was technically Genesis's mission. Which spoke volumes to the slighted man about what Sephiroth's opinion on the matter truly was. Both seemed go about the meeting leaving the new 1st to stand there arms crossed seething. Genesis hated being ignored, even if he was accustom to it, but the situation reminded him far too much of dealing with his parents as a small child, and the last thing the ginger wanted to feel like right now was an adolescent vying for his mother and father's attention.
"The men are doing well, sir, considering the hot zone. Your arrival has greatly increased morale around the base. Some of the troops were worried about our success here." The commander explained, looking at the General with a bit of pride and awe. "We've been pushed back several yards by Wutai's guerrilla tactics. They seem almost impossible to corner."
Sephiroth moved to look at the map, expression never changing, nor did his eyes shift from the paper splayed out in front of him as he ran his index finger across it mimicking the path of troops. "Not surprising, the forest in this area is dense, and they've had generations to learn the paths through it." the General observed.
Genesis stepped off the wall, a wave of forced confidence over taking him, and took a look at the map as well. He didn't make it this far just to sit and fume across the room. His blue eyes focused and scanned the map for a few moments. There were skirmishes marked all up and down. "They are grouped somewhere to the north." Finally he stated pointing to an area of thick forest on the map. "I'm sure of it. All the attacks but a few come from that angle." He pointed out running his red gloved finger along the map as well. "And the ones that don't are likely just meant to throw us off their trail."
The commanding officer was about to say something when Sephiroth cut him off. "You are right." he acknowledged plainly, having come to the same conclusion right before Genesis spoke. "Why don't you take a small unit of men to investigate the area?"
Genesis looked up slightly surprised after everything else he hadn't expected Sephiroth to talk to him let alone recommend he take charge of something. His spirits rose a bit, and again he was reminded of a child reacting to a parent's praise, If that was not enough to aggravate the ginger again the commander's next words were "I think the men would be more comfortable if you led them General, Sir."
Genesis's temper flared again ready to snap at the older male, who knew nothing of the dangerous rope he was walking. Sephiroth spoke up, just in time to save the officer from the activation of Genesis's fire materia. The General's own tone a bit clipped as he voiced his opinion. "I've got other business to attend to. Rhapsodos here will do just fine. The men are SOLDIERs they know how to follow orders." With that he left, coat and hair flaring out behind him. Genesis was still angry. It seemed he'd been dismissed on a wayward mission to get him out from under foot. The tone that Sephiroth had used left the impression on the ginger that this entire situation was beneath him.
He himself stormed out of the command tent, people darting out of his path. He'd take this mission and turn it into a real victory. Then maybe someone might actually acknowledge him.
As the ginger entered his personal tent, he hit the bed. Genesis didn't even know why Sephiroth was here. This mission didn't need him. Sure it was an unstable zone but there were many other places the General would be more useful. A bitter laugh fell from his lips. Maybe the man just had it out for him. When Genesis had thought they were becoming close he'd shared his desire of becoming a hero himself with Sephiroth. Perhaps the man was trying to take that from him too? It didn't matter, he didn't know what he'd done to get on the General's bad side but he would pick up and move on, and prove to *everyone* who and what he was.
Quickly he sorted through his items. Switching out a few materia in Rapier and his bracer. His beloved fire materia would always stay slotted, but this was more of a stealth mission and required a bit more finesse. When he was done he pulled out Loveless, closing his eyes he relaxed against his cot. Reading a few lines to calm himself down before he addressed the men he would be taking with him.
They wouldn't be able to leave until morning, the sun would be setting soon, but he could at least make sure they were prepared.
Morning brought a bit of a better mood for Genesis. Loveless always seemed to calm his fiery nature better than anything else. As he exited the tent a bit of nervous anxiety overtook him. This was his chance, his first real mission as a leader not a follower. He hadn't seen Sephiroth at all as he made his rounds around the camp, another thing to add to his growing mood. The less he saw of the man the better, at least in his opinion.
He went to find the men he'd been assigned. All of them were Seconds, he realized looking over the roster, the rank he had served under no less than a month ago. The camp was silent compared to the day before. It was early yet, and most of the unit wouldn't have to wake for another hour. As it was the sun had yet to crack the horizon and began its daily trek across the sky.
Genesis found the men in the mess hall, or he at least assumed they were the one's he had been assigned. They sat quietly drinking their coffee and eating the rations they'd been supplied. The cooks were not up yet, and so they'd been forced to rely on cold cereal. At least the milk was fresh.
One glanced up at him, bleary eyed, nudging the men next to him. The other looked up and caught Genesis's eye and seemed to sit up straighter. A smile fell across the crimson first's lips, he wasn't Sephiroth but these men obviously knew how to respect a superior officer.
Walking over he collected his own cup of coffee, taking a small pastry for sustenance rather than the meal the others had favored. "You can relax a bit." he offered, while he enjoyed the tenseness a bit, he realized that it would not do well in the long run to force his men to stay at attention the entire time. "Finish your meal and we'll be ready to go." Genesis offered taking a moment to look over the SOLDIERs.
They were all slender, closer to his own build, and best for recon work. He had no doubts that they would be able to keep up with him. Normally the ginger wouldn't have paid them much mind but these were the first men who had ever been truly assigned to him.
One of them seemed like quite a looker, tall, fine features, and light blond hair. The ginger felt a pang of sympathy for him. Being a good looking man in a place like Shinra could lead to some rough situations, something he had learned from personal experience.
His eyes however left the blonde and settled on one of the two brunettes in his midst. The first had a faint scar running down his cheek and for a moment Genesis thought about asking him how he got it but brushed the notion off. He wasn't here for stories, no matter how much he might enjoy them. Quickly his eyes moved on to the other man with brown hair, albeit a bit longer. He appeared to be slightly taller than his counterpart, where the first man's hair had been cut short, this man had his hair long enough to pull into a ponytail. A smile crossed his face as he told a joke, and Genesis realize he was far more awake than the other men in his company. It was a good trait to be sure.
The final member of his little ensemble, also seemed to be the most withdrawn. He sat with posture that said, "don't talk to me." even the men around him didn't seem to notice or care. He hadn't spoken once and barely made eye contact with Genesis. It was another mystery to be sure, but one Genesis didn't feel like cracking at the moment.
He let them eat without interruption and when the were finished they filed out of the food tent just like the SOLDIER's they were. Sometimes the redhead had to remember he really was the only one who dared insubordination for trivial things. A small part of him thought he might just have to go back and apologize to some of his unit leaders over the years, but at the same time realized it was something his pride would never allow him to do.
As he had speculated the forest itself wasn't too different to the ones that surrounded his home town. He might not have known his way around the foliage as well as the natives but he definitely had a leg up on those who grew up surrounded by the metal of Midgar. A canopy of bright green leaves blocked out most of the sunlight overhead, leaving an almost ethereal glow on the ground below. Creatures of various shapes and sizes skittered below their feet but nothing that required either Rapier or Genesis's precious materia crossed their path. Even so the trip to the area Genesis had marked as their base took the better part of the day. And the 1st Class SOLDIER found himself thankful that their trip had been as easy as it was. There was still a bit of pensiveness to him however. Nothing was ever this easy, especially for Genesis Rhapsodos. As it was the sun was lowering on the western horizon when he stopped in a small clearing near where he thought they need to be. "Stay here, and stay hidden." He ordered his men. No matter how skilled they appeared to be he didn't trust them to not give away their position.
He looked around finding what he thought was the trail leading from the clearing to the camp. No doubts entered the commander's mind that the Wutai troops passed through here on a regular basis. Footprints were embedded in the soft soil, the undergrowth had been disturbed, upturned and trampled on. The area was quiet, more so than a heavily forested area should be, giving signs that the wildlife had learned to avoid this area.
A smile graced Genesis's lips as he pushed further, certain he was closing in on the main Wutai base camp. A faint smell of extinguished fire lingered in the air, a scent Genesis would recognize anywhere. As he pushed aside a few leaves to try and get an actual glance at the Wutai camp from the edge of the forest, a confused look crossed his elegant features. "Something's wrong." he whispered to himself, as he tried to piece together where he had messed up his calculations.
Miles back at the base camp things had been relatively quiet. Sephiroth had taken the time to question several of the men who had survived the encounters so far. There truly seemed to be no rhyme or reason to many of the attacks, and often the enemy forces would pull back when it seemed foolish to do so.
The silver General hated when he didn't have all the pieces to a puzzle. It didn't help that he was distracted by Genesis and that current situation, whatever it was. He just didn't understand anything to do with the fiery redhead anymore. The way the man made him feel confused him to no end, the very fact that the man made him feel anything was amazing in and of itself, but pinpointing exactly what those feelings were bothered him even more.
Sephiroth felt the walls he's been building up over the years to protect himself and those around him start to crumble under the fire that was Genesis. He had been trying to figure out what it all meant, taken the time to think in between his duties to Shinra, little as it was. Why the other man had been so aggressive during this time only added to his confusion.
The anger that even he could feel radiating off the man threatened to overwhelm him, even if the source of it eluded him. As it was he had no idea if he would ever figure out the man that was Genesis Rhapsodos.
His thoughts were distracted as such, when the first attack came. An explosion at the forward part of the camp rocked the ground. Quickly he was on his feet running to the battle field, Masamune ready in hand.
The smell of smoke and sulfur already filled the air before he was fully out of his tent. The sun was hanging low in the sky, a fact that played in favor to their enemy. After night had fallen even Sephiroth couldn't track the Wutai.
In a matter of moments several more explosions went off and Sephiroth cursed, whoever had the nerve to attack his camp was going to pay for it in blood. When he arrived where he assumed the initial assault had happened, his gaze found several men down. Debris was everywhere, as even more explosions went off, dust choking the air. He grabbed a rag, that was likely part of a tent's remains and covered his face. Even if he could breath through this, it didn't mean he wanted too. Plus there was always the possibility that they would resort to some kind of gas, and while its effectiveness might not be very high on someone such as Sephiroth, any advantage had to the potential to tip the scales.
"Sir!" A man ran to him, a 3rd class SOLDIER if the uniform was anything to go by. He wasn't much more than 16 , still a child in most people's eyes really. The fact that he had killed his first man, and been cemented in the army by the age of 12 carried no sway as he looked down at the young man who really shouldn't have been here at all.
"What's going on?" Sephiroth demanded calmly despite the situation.
"They're everywhere sir!" He cried, shaking. The young SOLDIER was covered in blood, though whether it was his or a comrade Sephiroth didn't take the time to assess. "We can't even see them before someone else is dead!' it was obvious the SOLDIER was in near hysterics. Sephiroth just held his tongue long ago coming to realize that the average SOLDIER no matter how well trained couldn't be expect to hold himself together under certain stressors.
"I'll take care of it." He assured the boy who ran, someone had given an order to retreat, and Sephiroth wasn't going to fight it. His men were unprepared and only more would fall if he forced them to stay.
As he pressed forward he spotted some of the enemy soldiers. The troops were lingering just on the edge of camp as if awaiting orders. The expressions on their faces conveyed confidence and high spirits. Their reaction when they noticed him however was not quite what he expected. They wore faces of confusion as much as fear. "He shouldn't be here." he heard in their native tongue as they frantically looked back and forth between themselves and 'The Demon of Wutai'
Sephiroth doubted they realized he could understand their language, as he moved to kill them. They ran, but it was pointless, as the fell just as all his enemies did. His calm expressionless mask, a sharp contrast to their looks of horror as Masamune uncaringly pass through them. One however, the one that questioned his presences was spared the General's sword for the moment, as he took the man by his shirt. "And where exactly should I be?" he hissed in Wutain.
The man's eyes went wide and Sephiroth continued. "Thought you could slaughter my men with impunity? I think not." he growled. "Now tell me where you thought I should be before I do much worse than slit your throat."
"North!" The man cried, and that was enough for Sephiroth. Pieces finally sliding into place, as his eyes narrowed processing everything he knew. They had expected him to scout out the area he had sent Genesis too. Which likely meant that it was a trap.
He had sent Genesis into a trap.
All of his training screamed at him that he needed to stay here, finish taking care of the Wutai assailants. But these had been mere guerilla tactics. Most of the damage had already been done and the enemy was likely already retreating…..Genesis on the other hand.
Decision made he threw the man in his arms, the soldier hit a tree with a sickening thud, but Sephiroth paid it no mind. The desire so great to find Genesis that he used one of his abilities he'd only performed in the lab once before. Shimmering out of existence for a moment, he appeared several miles into the jungle near where he knew Genesis would be.
Quickly he was moving looking for the man who'd occupied to many of his thoughts recently. A feeling of dread coursing through him, that hurt to try and think about. Was Genesis really this important to him?
What he found however were the men he'd sent with the fiery redhead. They were doing their best to hid, but he could easily sense them. His head whipped around to face where they were standing in the foliage. His hair managing to catch the few rays of sunlight to penetrate the canopy of leaves. Boots twisting and crushing leaves under foot as he started them down. The fact that he was coming across as terrifyingly intimidating completely lost on him. "Where is Genesis?" he barked, his normal patients all but gone.
The unit was obviously surprised, and it took a moment for one of them to gather enough composure to answer his question. More in fear for his own life than anything else. quite frankly at the moment however Sephiroth could barely register that he'd startled them, let alone begin to care past the point that it stalled their response. Why it irritated him so would be left for a better time. .
"He ordered us to stay here, while he scouted ahead." The man, a second class Sephiroth couldn't name responded a bit weakly.
The General quelled his anger, he had sent Genesis with these men for a reason. But that could be discussed later, when the ginger wasn't walking into a trap meant for him.
"Head back to camp, this whole endeavor has been a setup." Sephiroth ordered, and the men jumped to their feet quickly following the order, even if they couldn't quell the look of surprise splashed across their faces. Nor the relief that Sephiroth wasn't going to kill them.
That taken care of the General paid them no more mind, moving forward soundlessly into the waiting jungle.
Genesis was surprised at what he found to say the least as blue eyes took in his surroundings. Instead of the enemy camp he was expecting to find, he saw a massive set of old ruins. Large stones stacked high, building walls that would have once been a grand ancient city. Nearly everyone had some kind of carving on it. He'd always had a respect for ancient objects, and slowly he moved up running his hand across an old terracotta statue. Losing himself for just a moment in what might have once been here. It was a hard thing not to do when in the face of something that was so grand and ancient.
The stones had survived weathering well. The area was likely stable, free of flooding and earthquakes, far enough inland to miss most of the worst storms. "Remarkable." he muttered as his eyes caught sight of more of the ruins, forgetting for a moment what he was actually here to find. A street was in his view, or what had once been. He walked down it a bit, still cautious for the men he thought should be here. His eyes however took it all in. A few more statues stood here and there some had toppled, others had their faces shattered and the tragedy of it all caught up with him in his thoughts.
Mako eyes flickered up down the end of the path, and his eyes caught an opening in the smooth stones straight ahead. "Well maybe I've found my base camp after all." he muttered, moving towards his find.
Cautiously he walked through the archway, Rapier held in hand. Again surprise found their way onto his face. There were several runes carved into the smooth stone floor. It was a rather elaborate pattern to be sure, and he couldn't even begin to fathom what they meant. Directly in front of him was a large stone statue holding a massive wicked looking broadsword The paint on it was worn but still vibrant after all this time. Red and blue intertwining up the blade with more runes dancing across its surface. As he attempted to get closer and inspect it, the runes on the floor light up around him, trapping him in place. "What is this?" he cried out as he tried to move again only to be held completely still by whatever power had been activated.
The air was charged with electricity as he continued to try to move, ahead of him the large statue started to move as rocks fell to the floor, and a bit of panic began rising through him. Genesis knew if it struck him dead on while he was out here alone his life would be forfeit. He closed his eyes, and all he could see was Silver hair. Not now his mind screamed. He didn't need to be reminded of the one man who had so thoroughly rejected him. Not when the possibility of dying so thoroughly engrossed him.
All he could do was wait for the blow to come with certainty , but he was startled when instead of being hit from above, he was slammed into from behind. He went flying ahead, just as bone shattering crunch was heard. Instincts kicked in as he spun around wide eyed, as the silver hair that had tormented him so lay nearly crush under the statue's giant stone sword. Sparks of electricity shocking the man as he flailed in agony.
"Sephiroth!" He cried. Immediately using a quake3 spell embedded in Rapier to shatter the statue.
Panic rose again, this time however for different reasons as he knelt beside the man who he could no longer pretend he didn't care about. The idea that the other man could be dead was quickly pushed aside as his mind worked quickly, processing which rocks to move and which would cause further damage if removed too hastily, all while trying to get to Sephiroth. Rock by rock was thrown as if they weighed nothing and dust rose up in Genesis's haste. He was covered in it and coughing but still he didn't stop. When he got enough of the rubble clear, he found the General unconscious but alive. That was what mattered.
The ginger immediately cast a cure3 and watching as the wounds that had been inflicted healed only bit. Barely enough to stop the bleeding. "Sephiroth." he cried out again. He remembered his ire at the fact his fire materia never seemed to phase the man has much as it should have. Genesis had cursed this fact over and over, and while he never understood where the man's immunity to materia came from, he was beginning to realize how dangerous of a thing that truly was.
The attack would likely have killed the ginger, or anyone rather than Sephiroth, and it still might if Genesis couldn't get his wounds taken care of properly, that much was painfully clear. He knew he couldn't stay here however, if there were troops in the area, they would certainly be here soon, and he couldn't fight off the army, and protect Sephiroth.
Gently he bent down and lifted the man who had saved his life. Silver hair lying limply against an all too pale face. For him to be so still, so lifeless, it was completely wrong. Normally vibrant mako eyes closed, and the redhead's chest tightened, fighting back an emotional response that would only hinder his current situation. As it was Genesis had never believe that anything could harm Sephiroth, to see it first hand was a bit surreal. To be the cause of it...well it made him sick.
'I should have known' he cursed in his head. Everything was too perfect, and it was too easy to put the pieces left for them together. 'I was careless, and he paid for it." His mind still analyzing everything. Going over what he had missed. Though the fact that there was nothing to miss should have made him realize how much of a setup it was. Everything was perfect, from the smell of the campfire to the easy path through the forest. He was just so eager to prove himself that he'd lost sight of the truth.
Genesis made his way carefully to the area where he'd left his men only to find them gone. He didn't know whether to be angry or relieved, at least they wouldn't see Sephiroth like this. Or know the true weight of his failure so soon. He cradled the man in his arms. Fighting with his mind over what the right choice was. It was late and the sun was setting. He had to find shelter and a way to tend to the man's injuries. Both were high priorities and he knew if he tried to make it back to the base camp that Sephiroth would likely not survive the night.
The lingering sunlight was already rapidly disappearing as he was forced to fall back on his survival training for the first time when it truly mattered.
He vaguely remembered a cave on the map, and while he imagined the locals would know of it no doubt, he thought at least he could find somewhere to make a defensible position within its depths.. Mind made up, at least as far as the shelter was concerned, the ginger headed that way, hoping he wasn't making another vital mistake.