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Not Wrath of Gods

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Chapter 1 - While Time Is With Us


Commander Genesis Rhapsodos's face, well-known and popular as one of ShinRa's most famous, had been described many times, by many people. The most common words utilized were pretty, beautiful, feline, seductive. One persistent admirer, an executive from one of ShinRa's affiliated corporations, had claimed such features "could only be drawn by the hand of the Goddess herself", no doubt trying to play on the SOLDIER's noted obsession with Loveless.

Had anyone asked Angeal Hewley to put a word to his old friend's face and expression, he would have - with little or no hesitation - scoffed "Diabolical". The nervous, slack-jawed 3rd Class currently cornered by Commander Rhapsodos near the center of a long hallway would have silently agreed with this assessment. Not aloud, because he was currently too flustered to speak.

"Junior Lieutenant...Meese, right?" A rapid, trembling nod. "Any guesses as to why I stopped you?"

"Wh-Whatever I did, sir, I apologize - "

"Lucky for you it's not a very serious offense," Genesis sighed dramatically, with a solemn shake of his head. "But even so, new meat. These are new pants, at least one-and-a-half sizes too small, and I'm assured they make my ass look fantastic. And yet you didn't so much as glance. I'm hurt, Meese."

Poor Meese's eyes were comically wide, his teeth nearly clacking as he stuttered, "S-Sir, I-I didn't mean - I just - I wouldn't dare - "

"Well, now that you are looking in my direction," Genesis purred, "I do look good, don't I?"

"Yes, sir, more than good. Everyone - "

"Should I take this to mean you've been observing me with lust, SOLDIER?" Genesis's tone had chilled a few degrees. "Your distant superior? This could be labeled harassment."

"Oh no, sir! I didn't mean, I would never - "

"You would never?" was his reply, in a feigned-offended voice and accompanied by a pout. "You would jump at the chance, you little miscreant. Don't insult me."

"Genesis." The word echoed down the corridor, approaching as its speaker did, and only one person said his name in that you've-been-bad-but-I'm-not-going-to-spank-you-so-stop-asking way. Genesis turned, tossed his auburn locks and grinned widely and genuinely.

Angeal's usual brisk stride brought him close quickly, one hand on the strap of a bag slung over his shoulder and the other reaching out to entwine his gloved fingers with Genesis's. It was a familiar gesture between them, not quite a hug but more intimate than a handshake. As always, Genesis offered a private prayer of thanks to Gaia for Angeal's safe return from his latest mission. He let his eyes drift over Angeal's broader form and chiseled features, fondly, before turning his attention to the boy who, as expected, was at Angeal's side. And bouncing lightly in his boots, also expected.

Zack Fair. As unique, in his own way, as SOLDIER's original and lethal trinity. Though just recently sixteen, the boy was already 2nd Class, not exactly famous but well known as the program's resident wunderkind, so naturally skilled at fighting that he had been assigned almost immediately to Angeal as a private student - an unprecedented move - when he finished his cadet training. The kid was brilliantly smart, impossible to dislike, and had the attention span of a gnat, and it was SOLDIER's worst-kept secret that he was his mentor's pride and joy.

As though there wasn't already enough about Zack to inspire jealousy among the few who didn't like him, the teenager also happened to be absolutely beautiful. Still growing, boyishly curvy body all lean muscles and perfect white skin, sweetly innocent face and lovely pale eyes like puddles of crystal clear water. Genesis had been warned by Angeal that Zack was off-limits, but he couldn't resist flirting with him, and getting in some harmless touching when he could.

"Puppy, I've missed you."

"Hey, Genesis!" the teenager said cheerily, missing the elder's semi-sultry tone. "Missed ya too, man, but Mideel was awesome, you should've seen me, I kicked insurgent butt! Hey..." Zack smiled knowingly and with a moral disapproval he must be absorbing from Angeal. "Are you messing with this guy? You're Meese, right, Luxiere's friend? What were you harassing him about, Genesis, breathing too loud?"

The 1st laughed warmly, amused by Zack's cheekiness and feeling no anger toward him; he was the whole 1st Class's beloved pet, after all. "Not complimenting my pants."

"Genesis," Angeal groaned, shaking his head. "You can go, Meese."

The 3rd stuttered a thank-you and high-tailed it out of there as fast as he could. Zack waved cheerfully at his retreating figure, then turned back to playfully wag his finger at Genesis.

"Okay, Puppy, I've been bad. What about you? Did you behave? Did you learn anything?"

"I behaved! Ask Angeal! Ooh, he said my form is improving, and that flip-attack you taught me? I've totally got it down. And guess what?" Zack beamed brightly, an expression that made him look younger. "I can knock Angeal down."

Genesis blinked a few times; that was something that even he had a tough time doing, since Angeal was bigger and broader. "You can? How did you manage that?"

"Like this!"

Before the others knew what was happening, Zack had taken two steps back and then rushed forward, launching himself at Genesis with more strength than one would expect from a boy his size. Genesis was taken by surprise, both by this focused strength and by the unannounced attack, and shortly after found himself speechless and flat on his back, with a gleeful and giggling Zack sprawled on top of him.

"Ha, see? I told ya!"

" jumped on me."

"He, Gen, use pronouns. Hang on, I'll get him."

"Wait a second." Genesis grasped Zack by the hips and adjusted him so that their groins pressed together, and smiled a dreamy smile. "You can leave him right there."

"Pervert!" Zack chided as Angeal hoisted him up and pulled him away with a frown.

"Angeal, home all of five minutes and already ruining my fun. And to think I actually missed you." Genesis made a disappointed 'hmph' sound. "That's very impressive, Puppy. You know who you should show next?"

"Sephiroth?" Zack guessed excitedly. "Is he here?"

"In his office. Better hurry, I'm sure he'd want to see your new skill immediately."

"All right! I'll see ya at home, Angeal..."

"Zack!" The 2nd was already dashing off toward the general's office. Angeal sighed and turned to his friend with an exasperated smile. "You're an awful influence."

"You turned out fine, didn't you? If a bit too moral for my tastes. was Mideel?"

"You wouldn't think a place like that could hide many rebels, but there was one in every tree."

"The Puppy did well?"

"As long as I had one hand on his collar," Angeal chuckled. "Otherwise he would've gone after all of them on his own."

Slinging his pack back over his shoulder (and picking up the one Zack had left behind), Angeal began to walk in the direction his student had gone. Genesis fell into step beside him with his usual slinky, feline walk.

"How have things been here?"

"Quiet. The Turks have been working overtime, even more secretively than usual, and the execs aren't spilling yet. The insurgents in Mideel...?"

"All hired swords, and none had any information, not even about who hired them. You still think this has to do with Wutai?"

"Mmm-hmm," Genesis said distractedly. "We should know something soon. I'm scheduled to head back in two weeks."

A pang struck Angeal's heart, one he always felt when a friend was about to go into a potentially dangerous situation. Genesis could take care of himself, better than most people, but...Angeal couldn't look at him without remembering the child who had always been by his side when they were kids together in Banora. Though almost a year younger, Angeal had always been the one who looked out for Genesis, who knew his rarely-revealed serious side and perceptive intelligence. As though sensing his worry, Genesis reached out again as they walked and wrapped his fingers around Angeal's hand.

"Don't get all serious on me, 'Geal. The war is over. It's probably just a few pockets of resistance causing trouble. We'll trounce them a little and that'll be it. Then I can get back to my real life's work."

"Jealously keeping admirers away from Sephiroth?"

"Getting you into a relationship, or at least laid regularly. This chaste lifestyle cannot be healthy, honestly."

"That again?" Angeal groaned. "I told you, that's just not one of my priorities right now. Unlike you, I have enough self-control to function without constant sex, and besides, my hands are full."

"With your work and your pride and your Puppy, I know. Isn't the solution obvious?"

"Gen..." Angeal said, in warning but without much energy.

"Oh, what? He worships the ground you walk on, you obviously adore him, and for the love of Gaia, he's gorgeous."

"He's a child, and my student. His looks are irrelevant. I'm in a position of authority to him, and altering the relationship between us would be a betrayal of his trust." Genesis was mockingly mouthing along as he spoke; Angeal glared at him. "I've had Zack with me since he was fourteen."

"You said he was more mature then than I'll ever be, despite all his Puppy playfulness."

"That doesn't matter. I'm his teacher, I'd never take advantage of him. And I won't let you either, so stop hitting on him."

"He doesn't mind. And if you're not gonna, why let all that hotness go to waste?" Genesis argued. "He'll have to cave in and date someone eventually, and whoever it ends up being, you'd just make their life hell, so - "

"I wouldn't."

"Oh please, you glare at anyone who looks at him too long and you know it. Even me. And you know you loooove me."

"Not at the moment."

"What if I bring you back some porn comics from Wutai? I have a source in Higashi Port who can get the absolute filthiest - "

"I'll pass, thanks."

They reached Sephiroth's outer office door almost in time. Angeal was just about to grasp the doorknob when Zack's voice rang out, merrily crying "Like this!", and there followed a series of noises that suggested a decidedly one-sided scuffle. A few moments later, the general himself appeared, perfectly calm and composed, not a strand out of place in the silver hair that framed his angelic face. He looked up and gave Angeal a faint smile as an arm briefly squeezed around his shoulders - the closest thing to a hug he would accept in public. Without even glancing his way, the legend was able to bat Genesis's hand away from his ass.


"Seph. Sorry about the Pup. He was excited."

"So it would seem," Sephiroth said dryly, but the faint smile lingered.

"What kind of knot did you use?"

"An Igoro's Fist." That was telling; a strong and restraining one but not uncomfortable. "And soft rope. I've begun to keep it handy for just such an occasion."

"Thank you."

"While you are untying him, tell him I am impressed by his speed. And courage."

Angeal smiled. "And you're heading...?"

"To speak to the president. We may have a situation in the city." With that, the general nodded and walked away.

"Gaia, he has no idea how frustrating it is when he does that," Genesis groaned, and flounced after him.

Angeal too was curious, but he had other matters to tend to. He found his student sitting against the wall behind Sephiroth's desk, with rope wound securely around his torso and almost down to his knees, binding his arms to his body. Zack looked up at Angeal with a hopeful and relieved smile, and the commander affectionately tousled his hair before going to work on the knot.

"Genesis totally set me up, huh?"

"Oddly enough, I think he meant well. Seph told me to tell you he's impressed."

"Really?" Zack's face nearly glowed with pride. "But he got me down in, like, a second."

"Nonetheless. He never says anything he doesn't mean."

"Angeal? Are they gonna send you to Wutai?"

"I doubt it." It had been made clear to Angeal that while Zack was in his charge, he would be limited as much as possible to missions that wouldn't endanger his student. "Why?"

"If you have to, promise you won't leave me behind?"

"That's not entirely my choice to make, Zack. But I promise I'll do everything in my power to keep us from being separated." As long as you aren't put in danger. "Have you been worrying about this?"

"Well...people keep talking like we're gonna go to war with Wutai again. Instructor Eidlin says we won't, Wutai is too fractured, but...I don't know." Zack flexed his arms as the rope fell away, freeing him, and looked down dejectedly. "I...never mind, it's stupid."

"Pup. What is it?"

"I feel like something's wrong. Something in the something's coming."

Angeal was immediately concerned; he had never heard Zack speak this way. "Maybe I should have the med lab take a look at you."

"No, I'm okay, really." Zack looked up and managed a fairly convincingly smile. "Just...don't..."

"What?" Angeal asked gently, placing his hand on the boy's nape.

"Just don't go anywhere without me, okay?" Zack's pale eyes had dropped in shame or confusion, and his whimpering voice was both slightly embarrassed and slightly afraid. "Don't go and leave me behind?"

Angeal's reassuring smile masked his worry; this was not at all like his optimistic, open apprentice. What Zack was, though, what he could be depended on to be, was a kid who, however strong and skilled beyond his years, was always comforted by touch. Angeal tolerated the boy's glomping, and had more and more found himself initiating contact like this. What is this effect you've had on me, the commander thought briefly, as he cautiously brought Zack's head to his chest and felt arms loosely encircle him.

"I'm not going anywhere without you," Angeal said softly, settling his chin lightly on Zack's hair. However wild it looked, it felt like satin against his skin and stubble. "I won't leave you."

"Thank you."

Seemingly reassured, Zack let himself be helped up and emitted a laugh that was meant to brush off his odd behavior but came out uneasy. Angeal pet his student's hair, letting his hand linger just a moment longer than usual, and shook his head when Zack reached out for the bag he'd left behind.

"Maybe you need to rest. Let's get home and I'll order something in."

Zack nodded. He walked with his usual slight bounce as they headed to the apartment, but Angeal noticed Zack keeping closer to him than usual. Maybe the commander was sensing whatever foreboding Zack was feeling, maybe it was just his protectiveness, but Angeal suddenly wished he could fold the boy into his arms and keep him there. Keep him hidden from dangers both real and imagined.


Their arrangement was not a commonplace one within ShinRa. It was not unheard of for a SOLDIER to train younger ones, even single one out for one-on-one help, but never before had there been an official mentorship.

SOLDIER was a well-oiled machine, and the 1st Class an elite corps. of highly valuable teammates, but ShinRa was always on the lookout for rising stars. The program had been built upon and thrived thanks to Sephiroth, their most precious asset, and Angeal and Genesis, the other two who had been prototypes for what SOLDIER would become. Yet no one had ever risen to such prominence as this trio, none who came after had been near their level. It was very likely that no one ever would, that their secretive origins had set a bar too high for anyone to ever reach. No amount of simple mako and talent could equal what ShinRa's greatest scientific minds had produced.

There was Zack Fair, though. He had come out of a backwater town, no fighting experience and too young at thirteen to try out for SOLDIER anyway, but the raw and natural skill he displayed with a sword had caught the eye of all who witnessed it. Fair was promptly accepted (the youngest ever other than Sephiroth, Hewley and Rhapsodos), and proceeded to move through cadet training like a fish through water. By age fourteen Zack was sparring with 3rds because the other cadets were no challenge for him, and promotion seemed the obvious choice. However, ShinRa had labeled Zack a potential star, a valuable asset, and therefore care had to be taken to nurture his skills properly. (And, if possible, to do something about the boy's worrisome lack of focus.)

The executives decided that what their new golden child needed was full-time, one-on-one instruction, with a 1st Class patient enough to handle such a task. Angeal had been brought in to aid in choosing the right mentor, but the reports and video footage of this boy on fire with dreams and potential had intrigued the commander. Maybe it was the boy's youth and small size, maybe it was the way he was being spoken of like a possession (like Sephiroth), or perhaps just the sweet young face and innocence that was somehow surviving a military atmosphere...whatever the reason, Angeal felt the first stirrings of protectiveness for the child, and volunteered at once to be his teacher.

The choice stunned everyone, as Angeal was known to be a serious man of few words, and one who valued his privacy. But none could match him for patience, and though he found Zack's energy and attention span challenging, he was charmed at once by the boy's idealism.

"So, what is it that made you join SOLDIER?"

"I want to be a hero."

He had said it with such determination, such hope and selflessness. What Angeal had expected would be a difficult baby-sitting job had become the great joy of his life. Zack had fitted into a slot in his heart he'd never known was empty. Years earlier, Genesis had, in one of his poetic moods, compared their close-knit trio to the cardinal elements of the world. He himself was fire, warm and rapid in movement, burning sometimes to protect and at other times to destroy. Sephiroth was ice, beautiful but cold, sleek and coolly logical, dangerous to touch. Angeal himself bore all the steadiness and dependability of earth, supporting the others and binding them together. That had left one element, and whenever Angeal recalled this musing, he thought of Zack's unusual eyes, their pure-water blue. Between the three of them and his work, Angeal had all he needed.

He didn't even mind sharing his personal space, as the apartment was spacious even by 1st Class standards. Kitchen, living room, two bedrooms and two bathrooms, all decorated in a simple style that suited a country boy who cared little for interior design. Genesis - who redecorated his own place like most people changed underwear - had often rolled his eyes at Sephiroth's preference for the sleek-but-spartan look and Angeal's boring use of neutral colors. But Zack had brought life to the apartment, there was no mistaking that. He wasn't a terribly messy kid, but it wasn't unusual for Angeal to pick up an open magazine, a forgotten school book, a cartridge from Zack's GamePro. Then there was the vibrant atmosphere of Zack's room, filled with posters and photos and even a few beloved childhood toys. The boy had even bought a bumblebee-shaped cookie jar for the kitchen and kept it stocked, insisting that Angeal needed more sugar in his diet.

So there was no need to wonder who had snuck three Choco-Chip Chocobos under Angeal's napkin. He found them when he finished his plate of Wutainese rice and mushrooms and rolled his eyes at them, but ate them anyway. Odd little things like that made the boy happy. Zack had already finished dinner and was sitting cross-legged on one of the couches with his History textbook; he looked up as his mentor approached and smiled.

"You've got a test coming up, right?"

"Oh. Yeah."

"But that's not why you're reading, huh?"

"No. This book doesn't have what I'm looking for anyway."

"And what's that?"

"Insight." Zack looked solemnly out into space as Angeal settled beside him. "I don't understand. I mean, I get why Wutai hates us. ShinRa teaches us that they first went to Wutai as friends, they attacked first, and everything we've done to them since was fair because of that. It's bullshit, right?"

Angeal hesitated. Zack was too smart to accept ShinRa's twist on history, but if the kid went around spouting the truth, the company would not be happy. They would label such a thing disloyalty, and while they valued him too much to punish a minor offense...

Zack seemed to understand why Angeal wasn't answering. "Just between us."

"Yes, between us, it's bullshit. Many areas of Wutai are suitable for extensive mako drilling. The invasion and the labeling of its people as brutal savages was all P.R. to cover the company's true motives. However, though the Wutainese are a noble people with a rich culture, they are extremely aggressive. The peace between us following the Aida Island Treaty was an enforced one, with few good feelings on either side."

"But...we've been withdrawing troops steadily over the years."

"A new strategy," Angeal said, not without bitterness. "Our presence in Wutai as guests and friends has intentionally exposed the people to our superior technology and medicine, and as we leave, we take with us these advantages. Many young people in Wutai support a genuine alliance between us to hold on to that, and Lord Godo himself declares he would welcome such a thing. Not easy, for a man of his pride."

"But..." Zack's nose wrinkled cutely in a puzzled expression. "Everyone says the recent attacks were probably thugs hired by someone rich and powerful in Wutai."

"Lord Godo has enemies, I'm sure, and the nation of Wutai is a collection of tribes, not all of which get along. The source of this recent trouble may hate Godo for the truce, and be trying to ignite old hostilities."

"But the attacks seem so random. Inciting rebellion in Mideel, hijacking ships out Costa del Sol, explosions in Junon. Even Instructor Mattley said he doesn't see a pattern," Zack sighed, referring to his Tactics teacher. "How do the Turks know it's the same people behind all that, anyway?"

"I don't know. Their methods are top-secret, and we've learned to trust their results. Zack...this will get sorted out. Why is it bothering you so much?"

"I want to figure out and solve it. I don't want anyone else to have to go over there and be in danger."

Zack restlessly edged along the couch cushions until he was right next to Angeal and let his head fall against a broad shoulder. The commander could feel stress gathering and coiling in his young student's body. Stress, and an uncharacteristic sadness. Even if Angeal himself wasn't going to Wutai, Genesis was, and the only reason Sephiroth hadn't already was that the sight of him there would send the people into a panic and start another war. Godo had sent a polite but candid letter stating that he feared for the "honored general's" safety should he make the trip. These men had become Zack's friends through Angeal and they weren't safe, no SOLDIER was really safe, and the boy was young enough to not understand that yet and be pained by the slow realization.

Angeal put one arm around Zack's shoulders, not an unfamiliar gesture. Then, after a moment's deliberation, he encircled him with the other arm as well, pulling the teenager to his chest and holding him comfortably and protectively.

"Puppy," he said softly, and Zack clung to him, to this slightly unusual degree of intimacy. "Genesis and Sephiroth are the last people you need to be worried about. Trust me, I know their abilities better than most."

"Don't you worry about them?" a quiet voice asked from his embrace.

"As a brother does - illogically and unnecessarily. Trust me, Genesis will come back from Wutai complaining only about the unavailability of his hair-care products, and Seph won't be going at all unless it becomes absolutely necessary."

"I heard the general's gotten death threats from Wutai."

"You're worried about Sephiroth?" Angeal asked, combing his fingers through Zack's hair. "He's unbeatable."

"He told me...what was it...a man who has never tasted defeat is only a man who has not yet found a worthy opponent."

"That does sound like Seph. And you sound tired, Puppy. Off to bed."

"'Mkay." Zack briefly squeezed Angeal, and smiled sleepily when he was squeezed back. "G'night, Angeal."

"Good night, Zack."

The boy stood up and headed for his bedroom, then stopped just before the door as though uncertain if he should go on. Acting on a hunch, the commander called out to him.

"Zack? Have you been sleeping all right?" The kid hadn't slept much during their trip to Mideel, and Angeal hadn't thought much of it because missions always brought out his most excitable energy. But now, why wasn't he eager to be back in his own bed as returned SOLDIERs always were?

"Wh-What? Oh, yeah..."

"Are you sure you don't want to go to the med lab? Or do you want me to come sit with you awhile?"

Without turning around, Zack shook his head at the floor and laughed quietly. "Angeal. I'm not a baby."

"I know, Pup."

"I'm going to sleep. See ya tomorrow."

"I'll be up for a while longer. After that, wake me if you need me."

It was the truth. SOLDIERs learned to get the sleep they needed when it was convenient to do so regardless of what was going on in their lives, but Angeal had trouble doing so in matters relating to Zack. Wrapped around his little finger, huh, the commander thought, remembering how his fellow 1sts liked to tease him about his fondness for Zack. More like he's wrapped himself around my heart.

Angeal had learned in his fairly short life that a pain of one kind or another accompanies every experience of love. His mother, as devoted as she had been to him, had been left half a person by his father's death, and her ghost-like presence was never afterward the comfort it had been before. Genesis knew Angeal better than anyone and was a steady supplier of support and good intentions, but the two old friends had once been more than that, in the long-ago haze of a Banoran summer. The decision to be platonic instead was mutual and amicable, but now and then Angeal wondered if he would ever fall in love, and sense the chance he may have missed in the air between he and Genesis - another ghost.

Then there was Sephiroth, who drew undying loyalty and worship like moths to a flame. Even in the company of Angeal and Genesis, where he could be himself, the famous general didn't let down all his walls. Angeal wondered if he'd even know how to do that. Part of being Sephiroth's best friend was seeing his hidden loneliness and distance from other people, and having to watch him being treated like a trophy and spoken of like a sex object. Love was never itself without some measure of pain.

Angeal had not yet figured out what the full price of having Zack would be. The inevitable loss when the boy no longer needed him, for one thing. The constant worry he felt for Zack's distraction and sensitivity and the looks that drew so much attention. The way he often thought of Zack as his own child and yet felt it was wrong of him to do so.

Angeal yawned, and rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache coming on from all these confusing thoughts. So many little pains. So many wounds we are willing to bear for the sake of giving others power over our hearts.


Zack had classes the following morning, and not long after he left, Angeal was summoned to a meeting of the department heads. Genesis met him on the way and began to walk with him; he sometimes sat in on the less boring meetings though he wasn't actually a department head himself. At one time the plan had been for Genesis to oversee the 3rd Classes as Sephiroth did the 1sts and Angeal the 2nds, but Genesis had flat-out refused to deal with that much paperwork, and anyway, as admired as he was, Genesis in such a position would only have frightened away new SOLDIERs.

It wasn't just Genesis's dislike for all but a handful of people, or even his pathological need to mischievously torment the lower ranks. If Genesis had the mental filter that kept most people from blurting out inappropriate comments, he had learned to turn it off at a young age. And though he sometimes claimed the shock value of the things he said was to disarm people, cut down to the heart of every matter, Angeal was pretty sure he just liked to see his victims stammer and their eyes widen. And Angeal, who had developed some immunity to this, nonetheless remained one of his favorite victims.

"Did that one. Did that one. And that one," the auburn-haired 1st said languidly as they walked, nodding toward many of the men they passed. "Did that one on a helicopter pad. Almost did that one, but he wanted to put me in short pants."

"Gen, I really don't need to know all this."

"It's not getting you hot? I'm offended."

"You really don't need to come, you know," Angeal reminded. "I'm not letting you sit next to Seph this time. No one believed you dropped your spoon in his lap and had to retrieve it 'by accident'."

"Meanie. Anyway, I was summoned for this one. Maybe we'll finally get the scoop on this 'Crisis in Midgar' thing. The chief of the city police will be there to give a report. Gah, what a dolt. If that imbecile mayor actually hired a competent police force, we wouldn't have to do so much patrolling."

Angeal let Genesis vent, quietly wondering what could be happening that would require cooperation between SOLDIER and the M.P.D. There was no great love between the two forces, with SOLDIER holding all the real power and receiving all the people's admiration.

Must be something they can't handle alone...and probably being put under pressure, so it's likely a high-profile case... Normally Angeal tried to keep up with local news, but having been in Mideel for the past two weeks, he had lately fallen behind.

"...I thought we could take him out for drinks tonight, get him, you know, not soused, but relaxed, then go back to my place for a little gangbang. I've got this collar I've been dying to try on a certain Puppy."

"Wait, what?"

"You weren't listening, so I indulged in a bit of fantasy."

"Well, don't."

"Oh, 'Geal, be honest. All that time you get to spend with it close by, you're saying you never get an urge to touch?"

"Yes, that's what I'm saying," Angeal said coolly. "And it's him, not it. Use pronouns."

"Even when I'm talking about his ass?"

"Don't talk about his ass at all."

"But - "

"No butts either."

"Was that a joke? Aw, we should stop and commemorate this moment with a photo. Oh, that one we just passed? Did him. In front of a mirror, on my hands and knees, and he was so good I let him spank me."

"Too much information, Gen."

"You live like such a monk, Angeal, I thought you'd appreciate some vicarious action."

"If you're getting so much yourself, then you have no need to go after Zack."

"I know, I know, he's your precious baby Puppy, and it's very sweet, really. But a tasty morsel like that won't go unsnapped-up for much longer." This was a typical way for Genesis to speak. He frequently treated people like objects, albeit objects he was quite fond of. "Wouldn't you rather the Puppy be safely in the care of your dear friend?"

"Safely?" Angeal scoffed. Genesis tossed his head back with an indignant "Hmmph!", and gave him a childish shove.

To be continued.