|||||Nobuo Uematsu - Cloud Smiles ||]|
Title: This Broken Wing
Word Count: 1,397
Summary: It took everything for Angeal to leave Zack, and he wonders how he could ever be considered anything but a monster.
Warning: Sadness, slight foreshadowing character death, and the manipulation of a quote to my own liking to go along with the story.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or settings mention, I’ve only forced them out to play.
A/N: Well, first off, I've been stalking around here for a while and figured it'd be good to post here since I just got the courage to make one of these demon things. Hope you enjoy!
The way the nightglow rolled over Zack’s sleeping form made Angeal regret his decision to see the younger man so soon. He stepped into the dark room and let the window slide shut behind him with the slightest sound. In the bed, Zack shifted, burrowing deeper into the warmth his blankets offered. Not the same warmth as he had once given him, Angeal thought absently, it was an empty kind of warmth, the kind that made him cradle a pillow against his chest to fill the void. Even in sleep Zack was restless, squirming and murmuring under his breath without conscious thought. He smiled faintly at the sight of his puppy resting in peace, but the smile felt odd and out of place on him now. He wasn’t the man he was before; the protruding white wing spread out from his right shoulder reminded him of that.
Zack stirred in his sleep again, a soft whimper escaping his slightly parted lips. The noise was low and wordless, like a single note played out on an empty stage, echoing out and leaving a haunting chill down Angeal’s spine. It was almost a physical pain to hear Zack sound so confused even in his dreams, even worse was the knowing that he had helped breed the young SOLDIER’s confusion and hurt. He shouldn’t have come, the longer he stayed, the more it became apparent how much he didn’t want to leave. Angeal was a smart man, but not a wise one. Wisdom would have kept him from going to Zack and deepening the deepening wound tearing at his chest. He crossed the room with the silent grace of the SOLDIER First Class he once was and came to the low resting bed. He sat on the edge, the bed underneath him gave a soft groan, but Zack didn’t wake. The younger man probably was exhausted, the whole day he’d been fighting monsters and Genesis Copies, it didn’t help either that he had sent him plummeting down to the Sector 5 slums. The boy slept on, even as he reached out and caressed a fair cheek. Such innocence was rare and beautiful, and a part of Angeal knew it was slipping away because of him.
His throat felt dry as he gulped down the lump forming there, his chest tightened and felt heavy. Zack didn’t realize how much he had damaged his innocent being, how much more he would. He had believed that his wing made him a monster, the experiments that had given him life had made him less than human, but it was only part of his sin. The monster had many faces, his corruption, lust and anger. The twisting hate forming in his chest thrived from his doubts and fears, feeding the monstrous instincts beginning to rule him. He was a monster, through and through, and the price of his realization came with the sickening knowledge that he had not fallen from grace alone. He had taken a part of the innocence that was Zack Fair with him and he feared that the final monstrosity had yet to be done.
Guilt twisted Angeal’s stomach into throbbing coils, his insides becoming cold and numb. Genesis, despite his obvious insanity, had been right about him; he was a monster in human skin, weak and no better than his demented friend. Angeal sighed, taking his hand from Zack’s cheek and held his head. He took slow breaths, easing away the growing moister hazing his eyes. No one could have been a bigger fool than he; the part of him that yearned for Zack had cursed him to this pain.
The bed creaked as Angeal turned back to Zack. The boy had shifted closer to him and his face was hidden behind wild black spikes. A sad smile tugged on his lips, and he brushed the silky hair away. His eyes pricked with tears he’d held in for weeks and he leaned down, leaving feather light kisses on his cheeks and lips. Cool tears rolled down his cheeks and fell onto Zack’s cheek.
“I love you,” he whispered, wiping away the fallen tears from the younger male’s cheek. A hand gently brushed through his hair, lingering there before standing. Despite the ache in his throat, his breathing was soft and steady, though shallow. His wing flexed out, already preparing to carry his weight. Snowy white feathers rustled with the movement, a feather came loose and floated down to the carpeted floor.
This isn’t the wing of a monster….it’s an angel’s wing.
Zack’s words rang out in Angeal’s head so clearly he thought he was back in Mako Reactor 5. He glanced back at the slumbering teen and willed away more tears. There was nothing left for him now, not even his puppy. He dipped down, scooping the light feather off the ground and twirled it around between his fingers. He’d shed many of the pristine feathers and it never failed to amaze him how he could fly with a wing broken and deteriorating like he eventually would. He hated this wing, but it was a part of him he couldn’t wish away, no matter how much he wished he could. It should have scared his young lover, he thought distantly, but it had done the opposite to the energetic youth.
A low groan brought Angeal’s gaze back to the resting boy and another wave of bitter sorrow through his numbing body. Zack looked just as conflicted and confused as before, a mirrored feeling that he must have felt when awake. Yet another burden he had given the easy going youth. Angeal knelt down deside the bed, taking a smaller, sword calloused hand in his own. The hand trembled slightly in his firm grip and he kissed it softly, unfurling it to place another kiss on his palm. Gently, he set the feather on the kissed palm and carefully rewrapped the fingers around it.
“Goodbye, pup,” he breathed, not bothering to erase the tears that fell on Zack’s hand as he kissed it again, not daring to press his lips even slightly on the younger man’s. He stood up, his body stiff and heavy, and forced his gaze away from the sleeping teen. He turned away, at the window within seconds, climbing back onto the high window sill. Cold air swirled by him as it rushed into the new opening, stinging when it hit his moist cheeks. Angeal wiped them quickly with his gloved hand, clearing his blurred vision, and took a sharp breath of icy air in. he glanced down at the city below, suddenly light headed, then up to the hazy gray sky about, letting the wind take his fleeting thoughts of a proper farewell away with it. The darkness of night was fading but no dawn light had broken through over the floating city. This would be the closest thing to a goodbye he could muster, he knew Zack well enough to know he would understand, if not right away, in time. Angeal stood idly on the thin sill for a lingering moment, calming his shallow, quick breath to a calm pace. Wind whipped past him, silencing his thoughts with white noise, only to have a soft, shaken voice from inside the room pierce though and make his chest tighten with sharp pain.
“I love you too.”
He didn’t turn around to see the one who spike and bit back more collecting tears, the bitter droplets slipping though despite his efforts. Angeal kept his head down; fists clenched tight enough to draw blood in the form of small crescent marks on his palms, and dropped down from window. The need to look back was overwhelming but he flew away, broken and hollow, from the person he’d left his heart and humanity with.