We both thought the same thing, I could see it on Genesis’ face. Oh shit. Genesis turned the entrance into fiery rubble and we dashed into the caverns so quickly that I thought Cloud lost his head on my sword.. Thankfully, he didn’t. We stood in front of the gravestone I encountered when I first got here. I just looked at it, catching my breath while Genesis gave a huge “FUCK YOU” to any monsters that got anywhere near us. Even without his sword, I found myself pretty damned grateful that he was on my side now. I had no idea how long it would last, but I found myself hoping that it would last at least for as long as we knew each other in SOLDIER and as opponents.
“Nothing like a beast named after a pack of cigarettes,” Genesis said, his hand on his chest while the huge plant beast vaporized in a blaze of not glory. I opened my mouth, but he shook his head. “I’ll be okay. I’ve fought worse.”
I nodded. I knew exactly what he meant. “Heh! Fuck you, huh? Your place or mine?”
Genesis blinked before smirking. “How about right here?”
Now I laughed. “In front of this?” I pointed at the huge grave. “Eh, maybe we should just keep moving.”
He looked towards the entrance. “You’re right. We should.”
“I just loved the gravestones here, by the way,” I said as we went towards what I called the “lake area”. I wanted to forget that place with the light pillars, but now I had no choice. “It’s so, well, you”. I shrugged as best I could with Cloud over me.
“Yes, I know,” Genesis moved in front me before taking a short, quick bow. “How macabre.”
“So, what about your sword?”
He looked towards that direction, but shook his head. “I’ll get it eventually. I doubt anyone else would find it, much less be able to wield it.” He chuckled. “Put it this way, whoever manages to gets to be king”.
I found that funny. I didn’t even pay attention to the shallow water sloshing around us. “So, who do you think’s chasing us?”
Genesis, ever, well, Genesis stroked his chin. “Hmm...let me guess, nosy people from Wutai.”
“I know it’s Shinra, but I only heard one ‘copter. That might sound appealing, but I don’t think that’s a good sign.”
Now, he looked serious. “You’re right. If it’s infantry, then it’ll be easy pickings between the two of us, but I doubt Shinra would send such people for us.” Genesis shook his head. “I’m betting they’re Soldier First Class. Maybe a handful, but if that’s the case, then,” he narrowed his eyes as we walked past the first pillar of light, “it still shouldn’t be much of a problem, but we can’t afford to play games with them either.”
“Is that why you practically sealed off the entrance?” I looked towards that pillar of light, but saw only an open treasure chest. I beat all those monsters, but man, were they a pain. Not that they compared to Genesis, but still, geez.
“You can say that, but at best, it would deter them, which, if First Class, I doubt it would unless they don’t notice an entrance. At worst? They wouldn’t even be phased.”
“Oh no.” I felt my stomach drop. I really didn’t like the idea of being pursued right now.
Genesis looked over his shoulder. “If it’s any consolation, they wouldn’t know where to look if they came in here and the monsters outside of this area won’t help them.”
I put my head down, but I kept walking. Everything would be okay. “I’m just tired of being chased.”
“I can understand that,” Genesis answered, his eyes lowered. “We spent quite awhile chasing each other, but Zack, we are not anyone’s prey, you know that.”
I held Cloud tight between my arms. “I’m gonna make sure that he won’t be either.”
“As opposed to what, exactly?” Genesis half-smiled.
“Heh, yea, you’re right.” We passed by another pillar of light, and I couldn’t help but notice how pretty the white light looked against the dark water. “You know, it’s peaceful here. After I beat those beasts, I found it easier to breathe.”
“They were different kinds of clones. One of the more violent ones. I bet the victories felt good.”
“No kidding, but then again, all of your clones were violent.”
Genesis turned to me, spreading his arms out like a bird. I half-expected his wing to pop out. “Consider the source.”
“Hah! Yea.” How could I not? But, he was back to his old self, the one that wasn’t “corrupted by vengeance” or whatever bad things that poem said. At least that’s how I saw it. We didn’t always get along, but after everything that’s happened, I found that it was more than just a “clash of personalities”. In fact, it took our very last fight for me to even get an idea why he was needlessly harsh with me. He blamed me for Angeal “leaving him”. He screamed it with every swing, with every blast, with everything he had. It ended when I finally started to scream back. Once I did that, Genesis dropped his guard and I hit a home run. Angeal never “left him” and I always knew that he never would, even though he died. Not that Angeal was the only reason. I knew that Genesis figured that if he could beat me, then he could beat anyone, and he wouldn’t be a failure. He’d be a ‘hero’, which was really all he ever wanted to be. He had the same dream I did, only I never went through what he had gone through and hoped that I never would. I stopped, but only because Genesis stood right in front of me with his hand inches away from my chest.
“Do you want to rest?” He asked.
We stood right in front of the “Safe Zone”. Within that place, I knew that we could rest without having to worry about anything or anyone attacking us. I could see the light bridge that led to the prisons, but I honestly didn’t feel up to going that way right now. I wanted to, hell, I needed to rest. “Yea, that would be great.”
Genesis smiled. Looked like he was thinking the same thing, but didn’t want to admit it. What a big surprise, but I didn’t care, just so long as I was one hundred percent before continuing my journey of not getting caught by Shinra or any other enemy. Thankfully, the zone was away from the water, so I didn’t have to worry about getting wet. I sat Cloud against the wall and laid the Buster Sword between me and him. I sat a few feet away, and Genesis sat right next to me, glancing at the sword.
“So, you don’t often use it either, do you?”
I followed his gaze. “No. Use brings about wear, tear, and rust--”
Genesis rolled his eyes. “Yea, and that’s waste. Angeal was big about not wanting things to go to waste. He was always frugal, even with toilet paper.”
“Oh no,” I laughed, knowing exactly what he was talking about. “That toilet paper.”
“Yes!” Genesis pushed himself against the stones, probably tempted to bang his head a few times. “The kind that sold for maybe ten gil for a hundred rolls, and I’m sure they still had wood chips in the fibers! Gah! It was like wiping your ass with sandpaper and cotton.” Genesis laughed like I laughed. “Honestly, Zack, I wanted to buy yards of expensive silk, walk in front of Angeal, and wipe my ass with the pieces. ‘What do you think now’?”
“You never did?”
“No, of course not, even I’m not that frivolous, but I was tempted. Goddess, I was tempted.”
“He probably would have just shook his head or something.”
Genesis nodded. “There’s no doubt he would have strongly disagreed, but he also would have told me that it’s my money to burn, so I would have blown some nice fabric for nothing.”
“And that’s waste.” I couldn’t help but say that. We fell silent for a bit, and I looked at one of the white pillars. For some reason, I thought of Sephiroth. Just about everyone in the world respected him in some form of another. I wasn’t much different, and I know that Genesis idolized him more than I ever could. Just that I never cared about sharing an apple with Sephiroth. I also didn’t care about taking over Sephiroth’s role. I wanted to be one in my own right. “I wonder what Sephiroth thought of you two. I wonder where he is now.”
“At this point, I really don’t care,” he answered, and then narrowed his eyes. “The less thought of, the better, but I know better than to assume he’s dead.”
I agreed. I knew what happened to Sephiroth, but I also knew that just about anything was possible with him. “Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups.”
“Hah. Another Angealism.” Genesis sighed, almost smiling.
“Yea, and he’d tell you that what happened to Sephiroth wasn’t entirely your fault.”
Genesis looked up at the cave ceiling. “No, not entirely. I know I didn’t help any, but to be honest, there wasn’t a single thing I said that he wouldn’t have found out on his own.” He looked at me. “I just sped up the process. Nibelheim...Goddess...I wasn’t there when it happened, but I heard what he did and how he behaved. I know that I’m not one to talk about bad behavior, but do you remember how he looked?”
“I’ll never forget it. He looked quite pleased with himself.”
“So smug,” Genesis shook his head, “but for how long?”
“You were never like that,” I said. I meant it too. For all his asshole antics, he never once looked proud of himself. “There were so many things you could have done, but didn’t.” I glanced over at Cloud before looking back at Genesis.
”Perhaps,” he shrugged. “Our intentions were different, and I obviously had nothing to be proud of. Zack, I’m not going to make excuses, but all I can do is give my reasons.”
“So, why did you do it? All of it?” I knew that we didn’t have all the time in the world to run our mouths, but I had a feeling it was just enough for Genesis to state his case.
“Just try to imagine being at the top of your game. The world is yours and you represent the Goddess beautifully. Whatever issues you have are well under control”. Genesis chuckled. “Or, at least they are for the most part.”
I nodded. “I get that. No problem.”
Genesis narrowed his eyes. “Now, try to imagine yourself slowing down, weakening with your wounds healing slower than they should, and you feel yourself slipping. You sense that slowly, but surely, everything is slipping away, and you don’t understand why until one fateful day.”
“Sephiroth told me what happened.”
“I don’t doubt it.” Genesis dug his gloved fingers into his legs. “But, that day...” he sighed. “Just imagine what it’s like to find that you will be dying one single cell at a time, and Hollander would rather you rot than lose the dicksize war with Hojo.”
I shut my eyes, but I listened to his voice while he continued. “Then, every single issue you ever had comes pouring out of the floodgates. You finally realize that Shinra will do nothing to help you, and it sure as shit isn’t helping the planet itself no matter what it claims.”
I opened my eyes. “So, that’s why you left...”
“One of the reasons, yes.” Genesis looked like he was in pain, but he still talked. “Thankfully, I had willing members of SOLDIER join me in the rebellion. Too bad Banora Village wasn’t so willing.” He shook his head. “If I were to tell you about my parents, we’d be here for centuries, and when archeologlists find us, they’d think we were lovers.” We both laughed a bit at that, but he grabbed my hand and held it. “Have you ever seen a family that seemed to have it all, but you could sense that something was terribly wrong? Like some very important things were missing?”
I thought carefully about that question and found that I have. “Some families were like that. I mean, nothing that could be proven, but I always wondered about the ones that seemed too good to be true.”
Genesis tilted his head. “That was my entire childhood. Still, I thought my parents would help me. I mean, I’m SOLDIER 1st Class, and a legendary one at that. Something that would make the Rhapsodos name look good.” He bit his lip before saying, “but, no. Hell, no. They refused, and my mother flat out said that she wasn’t my mother. She called me a monster and a failure. My father did nothing but look at me with contempt. If I didn’t shatter before that, I certainly did when they told me to leave.”
I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. I knew what happened. Besides, what do you say to something like that? He killed his own parents, but he actually buried them and then posted pictures of them on their graves. While it didn’t make everything okay, it explained why Angeal wanted to save him rather than just kill him. I had a feeling that Sephiroth wouldn’t have gotten the same consideration. I kept listening.
“I really believed that everyone in that village hated me, rejected me, and wanted me dead. Their loyalty was to Shinra, first and foremost, so I had to shut them all up. I ordered my clones to kill everyone, except Gillian. Me? Well, you already know what I did.”
“She said you couldn’t kill her.”
Genesis nodded. “She was right. Angeal’s family was more family than my own parents. Quite honestly, there was a lot I couldn’t do.” He looked at Cloud. “Him? I had ample opportunity to take him, and get those cells, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.” He gripped my hand tighter. “I just wanted people to suffer the way I did. I figured that if I was going down, then others were going with me. How wrong headed, but it was all I could think about, other than “The Gift of the Goddess” and how not to degrade.”
“I don’t know what I would have done if I were you,” I replied. “I’d be desperate, that’s for sure. People would do just about anything when they’re like that. I’d like to think that I’d be different than you, but I don’t know...” I swallowed. “Then, there’s Angeal.”
Genesis gasped. “Yes, him. Angeal.” He looked away, and I could tell that he clenched his teeth before looking back at me. “I wanted him with me, but at the same time, I knew why he chose to help you. He might not have degraded as fast I did, but he was getting there. You see, he knew that he would end up like me. In fact, even worse. You saw what he could do.”
“But, he’d never--he’d...not Angeal.” I felt tears sting in my eyes again, but this time, I held them back.
“Indeed, not Angeal,” Genesis sighed. “I wanted him to be with me, to help me against a world that rejected us “monsters”, but he didn’t want to stay the way he was. He didn’t want to cause suffering in the name of being desperate or blinded by paranoid ideation. He would rather have died then be the antithesis of everything he worked so hard to attain.” He kept his intense gaze on me, and I didn’t even think of looking away. “He killed his own degrading body to give you his indomitable will.” He smiled, but it didn’t go anywhere near his eyes. He blinked a little too much. “It was the only way he could save me from myself, and in doing so, save the world.” He squeezed my hand. “He got what he wanted, and he was the hero all along. You were right. Angeal never left me, and Goddess, Zack, you hit a ton.”
We both chuckled a little before we ended up touching foreheads, and because I just felt like it, I let go of his hand and hugged him. He didn’t push me away. Instead, he wrapped his arms around me. If anyone, other than Angeal, saw us they’d be tightening up their jaws, so nothing falls off. If Cloud were awake, I’m sure he’d be a bit stunned too. At this point, I didn’t care who knew, even though no one was around for miles. I knew for damned sure that Genesis didn’t care either. He never cared who saw his antics, and I seriously doubted that he would start now, not even when I pushed him flat on his back. I sat on top of him, holding his arms above his head, and just gazing into his blue eyes with a huge grin on my face. He looked stunned for a bit, but then he laughed.
“You’ve got some nerve, Zack,” he said. I could feel his muscles tense under my hands. “I never thought of this before, but you remind me of myself in a lot of ways.”
“Why do you say that?”
Genesis smirked. “Because you’re the only other person I know that would do something like this given the circumstances.” He squirmed a little, and I gasped when his groin rubbed against mine. “Important question: do you top or do you bottom?”
“I tend to top.”
Genesis’ eyes brightened. “Excellent. I tend to bottom.” He slipped out of my grasp and wrapped his arms around my neck. He drew me close to him. I could feel his breath against my lips. “Sweet, delicious irony. We go from fighting to fucking in less than a day. I love this.”
“Oh wait. We don’t have any lube.” I looked at the surrounding water, but I seriously doubted that he’d find a cold lake appealing. I sure didn’t.
“That’s okay, we don’t have to go ‘all the way’, “ Genesis answered, and before I could even blink, he locked his lips with mine.
I never stood a chance. He didn’t just feel warm, he felt hot, like someone who believed that sex and combat were one in the same. He gripped my neck so tight, I thought I’d break. I thought my hair would be torn out because he came pretty damned close to doing the same with my uniform. I tried to keep up. No way was he going to dominate me so easily. I never have and I wouldn’t now. I’ve never been with anyone like him, so all I could do was remove my gloves, run my hands through his auburn hair, and just feel. Feel everything. Listen to everything. Mouth against mouth, leather against leather, skin against skin, and our gasps after we touched each other in all the right places.
“How loud are you?” I asked between kisses.
He smirked. “I can shatter glass.”
“Yea, I bet you could.”
I thought about Cloud, but realized that not even a herd of Behemoths could wake him up. Genesis must have read my mind because he shook his head.
“He’ll be fine. Even I can’t scream that loud”.
I couldn’t help but agree. I finally noticed the taste of cider between us when I kissed him again. I wished I had some more. I needed it because I never thought in a million years I’d be here again. That, and it tasted damned good, just like him. Genesis pushed upward and I pushed downward. We fought again, but this was a different battle of wills and skills, and it didn’t matter who won or lost.
He didn’t shatter any glass, but he came close to shattering my eardrum as he finally did come. I swear, he did that on purpose, but I didn’t ask because it’s hard to do much of anything when you feel like you could fly without any wings. I don’t know how long we spent gasping for air in each other’s arms, and for a few minutes, neither of us cared.