Weather Friends (Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth & Zack Fair, #14)
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Subject: Sephiroth and Zack Fair
Theme(s): #14 - Fair weather friend, rainy day friend
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine!
Cross-posted to 31_days, ladybug_tales, and http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4089665/1/
Notes: The characters are not mine, and this ficlit is! It was directly inspired by the prompts Fair weather friend, rainy day friend at 30 Friends and My heart is hardn'd, I cannot repent at 31 Days. Thanks to Kaze and Lisa for plot help! And some of Seph's words later on were inspired by a conversation with Wngdngl. We share similar ideas on Seph's feelings about that subject.
Sephiroth had never especially liked photographs.
Partially that was because he would rather have the actual person there instead of only an image.
The other part of it was because, if one was no longer associating with the person in the picture, it was such a bittersweet experience to look over the photographs.
And there was even more of a pang when he uncovered from his desk an old picture of himself, Angeal, and Genesis. The pain of thinking about their defunct friendship was emphasized all the more by looking at something tangible. It had been taken on some mission, one of their first. How ironic, that it had been in Wutai. And then later, it was in Wutai when Genesis had deserted.
He frowned. Why was he keeping such a thing? He was not sentimental. And considering how everything had fallen apart, what was the point in hanging on to it? It only rubbed salt in the wound. The whole reason he had discovered the photograph had been because he was cleaning out his desk. He already had a large pile of junk to throw away. This should be added to it.
He leaned over to set the picture on top of the stack. But he paused, frowning. Angeal and Genesis had been a large part of his life. He had been happy then, even though it had not lasted. Yet in his heart, he knew he still thought of them both as his friends. For his part, he had not abandoned them. And he did not know if he was ready to let go.
He set the photo back where it had been, near the pile that would be sorted and kept.
The door swung open. "Hey Seph!" Zack chirped, waving as he shut the door behind him. "Wow, you've really been making a dent in that ocean you had in your desk," he commented, eying the stacks of papers scattered all over the space.
"What about yours?" Sephiroth returned, his voice dry.
Zack looked sheepish. "Well . . ." He rubbed the back of his neck.
The photograph caught his eye, distracting him from whatever excuse he had been about to give.
"Hey, what's this?" he asked, picking it up. "Didn't know you went in for photos, Seph."
"I don't." Sephiroth leaned back, watching the other. Zack's expression changed as he saw the contents of the picture. It must be paining him, to see Angeal. And seeing Sephiroth looking so relaxed must be a surprise.
". . . You guys really were close," Zack said at last, shaking his head as he set the photograph back where it had been.
"It surprises you," Sephiroth remarked.
Zack hesitated, then nodded. "I guess it does," he said. "I mean . . . you really look happy there, Seph. You won't let yourself smile in a military picture, but that doesn't matter. You can just see how you feel from your eyes!"
Sephiroth shrugged. "Times were different then. I was more foolish." And in spite of the indifferent way he spoke, the venom directed at his past self was obvious. It broke Zack's heart.
"Hey!" he exclaimed, trying to put a lighter note in the discussion. "You've got me now. I'm your Fair weather friend." He smirked.
Sephiroth looked pained. "That's a terrible pun," he grunted. "And do you even know what that means?"
Zack blinked. "I guess not," he confessed, putting his hands behind his head and lacing the fingers.
"It means you'll bail out at the first sign of trouble. You're only a friend during fair-good weather." Sephiroth crossed his arms over his open coat.
". . . Is that how you feel about Genesis?" Zack was sober now. It was clear that Seph was not in the mood for jest. The brunet grabbed an extra chair, bringing it over to where Seph was sitting. He plopped into it, leaning forward with his hands on his knees.
Sephiroth looked back to the photograph. "In some ways," he said. "But it wasn't always like that. He and I used to do things a lot. We enjoyed competition, so we were always racing or swordfighting, or whatever other dangerous activity we could find." He smirked grimly. "Once we went snowboarding. We nearly took out the forest, but neither of us were injured."
Zack stared at him. "You?" he exclaimed. "Seph, the great, serious general, got on a snowboard? And you used it?"
For a brief moment an embarrassed look passed through the green eyes. "I said I was foolish then."
"Hey, I didn't say it was a bad thing!" Zack protested.
"I'd never do it again." Sephiroth pushed the picture further up on the desk, leaning his right arm on the finished surface.
". . . The Genesis we've been chasing all over Gaia is a stranger to me," he said. "His heart has been hardened beyond comprehension. This isn't just about Shinra's atrocities any longer." He looked back to Zack. "The more he deteriorates, the less likelihood there is that he can be saved. He claims that he can only think of devastation and taking over the world himself."
Zack swallowed. Yes, that sounded familiar. Too much so. Angeal had said the same thing.
"But Seph," he said after a moment, "you're not going to give up on him, are you?"
Sephiroth sighed, passing a hand over his eyes. Suddenly he looked so tired. "I don't know what to do for him," he said. "He won't listen to reason. And the way he feels towards me now is obvious. Even if his words themselves seem harmless, I can hear what he really means. I can feel the poison he's sending at me."
"But that's not even fair!" Zack exclaimed. "You never did anything to him."
"Not consciously, no." Sephiroth frowned. "Part of me says that there must have been something unintentional that fueled his hatred for me. The other part says No, he was always unjustly jealous of me and he let that warp his mind."
He looked down to the picture, moving it along with his forefinger. "I never could understand why he was so envious of my fame, anyway," he said. "It isn't that great. Just a bunch of mindless women, cooing over my skills and my good looks." He shook his head.
"To be honest, I was often envious of him."
That was the last thing Zack had expected to hear. "Yeah?!" he exclaimed, nearly falling off the chair.
Sephiroth nodded. "He had a peaceful childhood. He had two loving parents. He grew up with a close friend by his side." And I always longed for those things, he added to himself.
Zack could clearly hear what was not spoken. Again he felt his heart twisting. Seph looked so sad, staring down at that photograph.
". . . When he would go into his spells, acting as though my glory was so great, I often wanted to yell back at him." A wry smirk crossed Sephiroth's features. "'You have everything that's actually important! Why would you want something so trivial? Do you think I like being where I am? Do you think I wouldn't trade it all, if . . .'" He trailed off, clearing his throat.
Silence reigned. Zack shifted.
"Seph . . ."
". . . I never told him," Sephiroth spoke, his voice thoughtful. "Maybe it would have made things worse. Though I don't really see how it could have gotten worse."
". . . Are you envious of me, too?"
Seph looked over at Zack. The boy actually looked guilty.
"I mean, I also have those things," Zack said. "And . . . well, I hate to think that I'm causing you more pain."
"You aren't," Sephiroth said instantaneously. Why on earth had he even said any of that? It was irritating when he grew nostalgic. He always ended up musing on things and wound up feeling weak for it.
"Yes, you have those things," he continued. "And you share them with me. I can't help but think you appreciate what you have more than Genesis did." Not that Genesis was completely ungrateful. Sephiroth did not think that. But it seemed that he never stopped to fully consider that he had what many others did not. He had been so caught up in his obsession to be better than Sephiroth, and now his goal seemed to be world domination.
But in more peaceful times, Sephiroth had caught glimpses of what a quiet childhood would have been like. Angeal and Genesis had shared with him as well, and he could not forget it. But thinking of what had happened afterwards marred his memories of those times. With Zack, it was different. Zack would never betray him. Zack would never hate him.
He looked back to the mess on the desk. "I need to finish this," he muttered. He had already been working for some time, but he could not fully relax until all of it was taken care of.
Zack nodded, sensing Seph's embarrassment over a lot of what he had said. Seph liked to confide in Zack about the past at times, but even then he rarely told what his feelings over the events had been. Zack liked it, really; it showed how much more they were bonding. But for a tough guy like Seph, it was hard for him to get used to.
"Hey Seph?" he asked, changing the subject.
"What." Sephiroth was already looking through the last contents of the drawer---an old newspaper and a book. The former he added to the stack of what to throw away. The latter he placed with what he would retain.
"So . . . what is a buddy called who doesn't leave you high and dry?" Zack was leaning on the back of the chair, his arms crossed atop it.
Sephiroth paused, glancing over at him. He looked honestly and innocently intrigued, blinking at him with wide lavender eyes.
"A rainy day friend is one term," Sephiroth said. "Someone who stays with you when the weather is tumultuous."
"Yeah?" Zack contemplated this for a moment, then grinned. "I guess that makes me a rainy day man then."
Sephiroth hid a smile. "I guess."