24. "You're the only one I trust to do this" - Sephiroth/Genesis
Here you are Nonnie! This came out more like pre-ship war buddies, but they have to start somewhere, right? I love and hate writing this ship. They have such a weird relationship and it’s too easy to have them snark at each other. I feel like Genesis would bring the little shit out in Sephiroth and Sephiroth in turn can’t help but get under Genesis’s skin. When they’re honest with one another, the chemistry is great, but there’s so much to get through before that can happen.
Warnings for descriptions of injuries. It didn’t seem too graphic to me, but I’m also feel like I’m not an impartial judge on that sort of thing because I wrote it. If you have concerns or need something tagged, let me know.
The mood of camp was unaccountably grim, much to Genesis’s surprise upon arrival. Usually when he brought his forces to regroup with Sephiroth’s, spirits were high. The Soldiers were glad to be back among friends in a camp with both Commanders and the scant protection that brought when they were so deep in enemy territory. His men were shuffled off into different groups where Sephiroth’s squad spoke in hushed tones. One Soldier, a Second who had been serving as Sephiroth’s aide intermittently since they arrived in Wutai, made a beeline for him.
“Commander Rhapsodos, I’m glad you’re here.”
Genesis made a noncommittal noise in his throat, gesturing for the Soldier to lead the way. He wanted to make a joke at Sephiroth’s expense, the man was occasionally far too brusque with his subordinates, but something told him that this was not the time. They moved through the rows of tents, stopping before one that Genesis recognized as Sephiroth’s because of the battered corners. The man had always been terrible at setting up tents in the field.
To Genesis’s surprise, the Second left him with a nod instead of ushering him inside the tent and announcing him as usual. Uneasiness settling in his stomach, he let himself into Sephiroth’s tent.
After the reception he had received, Genesis had expected to find Sephiroth mortally wounded or in a terrible rage. Instead the silver-haired commander sat behind a makeshift desk, sorting through reports and communication from Midgar. His whole demeanor was relaxed, calm, and as in-control as always. Genesis glanced behind himself at the now closed tent flaps in bewilderment.
“It was. Fort Kerrotret fell easily enough. We had some injuries, but nothing that we couldn’t handle.” Genesis fixed Sephiroth with a pointed look, crossing his arms across his chest, “Your mission?”
“Also a success.” Sephiroth replied coolly, ignoring Genesis’s implications, “It was not until the morning after that we encountered any real resistance. We were ambushed on the way to this new site.”
Genesis arched an eyebrow, “Casualties?”
Sephiroth shook his head, “No. Some injuries though.”
Genesis waited for Sephiroth to continue, but the other man said nothing more. With an exasperated growl, Genesis said, “It’s plain to me that something went wrong.”
“I was injured.” Sephiroth finally admitted, his face a perfectly blank mask that Genesis had not seen in years.
“Is that what has everyone in such a state?” Genesis snorted, “Surely after working with you this long, they had to be aware that even the Great Sephiroth bleeds like the rest of us. I thought you had shattered any illusions they had when you took on latrine duty that one time or at the very least the day you slid into that bog and spent the afternoon covered in muck until we could get to a river and clean up.”
When Sephiroth did not admonish him for bringing up the humiliating memories or join him in laughing at the outrageous hero worship of the lower classes, Genesis looked at him more closely. Sephiroth’s features were too calm, too perfectly composed. His skin was usually pale, but there was a touch of unnatural whiteness to his pallor that Genesis had missed in the dimness of the tent.
He narrowed his eyes at his friend and rival, “Sephiroth, what is it?”
Sephiroth’s tightly gripped composure cracked in the face of someone who actually knew him. He stood slowly and limped around the desk, towards his cot. Genesis stared, he had never seen Sephiroth move with anything less that consummate balance and grace. To see the man do something as undignified as limp…
He stood and supported Sephiroth as the taller man lowered himself onto the cot. To his surprise, Sephiroth rolled up the left leg of a pair of the loose black cargo pants that most of the First-Class Soldiers favored. Genesis had not seen him wear them in years, not after he had adopted the leather uniform he was so well known for. There was a bandage wrapped around most of his lower leg. Genesis slapped his hand away, taking the end of the bandage and unrolling it himself.
The bloody cloth revealed an ugly cut that snaked from the front of his lower leg, near the ankle, up and around the outside of his knee. It was deep and brutal, cut nearly to the bone. The edges of the cut were red and swollen and Genesis was sure that infection had already set in. He stared at it, dumbfounded, until a noise of pain from Sephiroth snapped him out of it.
“Are you insane!?” Genesis hissed, popping his combat materia out of his bracer and searching for the materia he needed for a deep and complex healing, “Has being around men who treat you like a God made you forget that you aren’t one? Why did you not take care of this!?”
“I tried.” Sephiroth said through gritted teeth, “It hurts so badly, that I could tell I was not healing it correctly. There’s a weakness in my ankle and foot which means that there was likely damage to the peroneal nerve. This was confirmed by one of the medics with my squad.”
Genesis probed at the edges of the wound gently, checking for the extent of the damage, “And he did not heal it because…”
“He feared he would cripple me.” Sephiroth replied, hissing as Genesis cast a sense spell on the wound. The magic stung, “If he did not have confidence in himself, neither did I.”
“Of all of the unbelievably, idiotic-” Genesis glared up at Sephiroth, “When did this happen?”
“You’re a moron. Worse than a moron. I am excellent with words and I can’t think of anything descriptive enough for your stupidity.” Genesis said flatly. The sense spell confirmed the severity of the injury. It was bad, worse than he had initially thought, not that he would tell Sephiroth that, “…and once this is taken care of, you will tell me who this medic was. I’m going to flay him alive. If he isn’t fit to serve in the field, he needs to be replaced with someone who is. What if I had been delayed? Would you have waited until your leg rotted off-”
Sephiroth’s hand closed over his shoulder, tightening in pain when Genesis shifted his leg to lay flat on the cot, “You’re the only one I trust to do this.”
The rest of Genesis’s rant died in his throat. There was something so raw and trusting in Sephiroth’s eyes that Genesis forgot to breathe for a second. Their rivalry had always stood between them, keeping them from having a true friendship. The unabashed conviction in Sephiroth’s expression was new and strangely humbling.
Genesis swallowed hard and focused on the wound again, “I’ll have to cast a poisona on it to help with the infection before I try to heal the nerve and muscle damage.”
Flexing his hand over the wound, Genesis added, “It’s going to burn like hellfire.”
Sephiroth’s hand, still on Genesis’s shoulder tightened again in annoyance, “I know.”
“Break my shoulder and I’ll kill you myself.” Genesis warned, only half teasing, “Take a deep breath and get ready for pain.”
Sephiroth’s control was legend, but Genesis was still impressed in spite of himself when Sephiroth made no sound. He knew first hand how much it hurt, having a day old wound cleaned and healed. Despite how often he said he wanted to see his rival finally laid low, watching Sephiroth writhe in silent agony brought him no real pleasure. He covered Sephiroth’s hand where it was fisted in the collar of his red jacket, waiting while the poisona did its work. Sephiroth slumped forward and let his forehead rest against the back of Genesis’s hand.
“Tell me when the pain stops and I’ll sense it again.” Genesis murmured, brushing Sephiroth’s hair back from where it was sticking to his sweat-soaked face, “I’ll make sure this is done properly.”
“Thank you, Genesis.”
Genesis sniffed, trying to pull up his usual haughty indifference, “It’s purely self-serving. What challenge would you present me if you were permanently maimed. I can hardly claim the title of Hero if I take it from you when you’re not at your best.”
The sheer absurdity of the words made Sephiroth laugh, a brittle rough sound that unsettled Genesis more than he cared to admit. Finally, he leaned back from Genesis and drew in a deep breath. He nodded at Genesis’s unspoken question, watching as the green light of the sense spell probed into the wound again.
They were in for a long evening, but Genesis vowed to himself not to waste Sephiroth’s newfound trust in him. If the man believed in him so strongly, the least he could do is prove worthy of such belief. He squeezed Sephiroth’s wrist in warning before starting on the complex healing spells that would fix the damaged nerves.