Chapter 1: Endless Summer Nights

Innocence was our fire.
We told the truth.
I miss the sweet boys
in the summer of their youth.

Petals Hole

The sky broke in red and gold as the sun fell into the ocean just outside the coast of Midgar on the warm summer evening. The sound of the waves blended with the music that poured out of a stereo someone had brought with them. Empty beer cans were scattered across the beach as well as one or two bottles of something much stronger.

"You got light?"

Tseng reached into his pocket and fished out his lighter for the young lady that suddenly had appeared beside him. She tilted her head and leaned in closer to the flame to touch it with her cigarette, one of her hands cupped his.

"Thanks," she said, a thin stream of grey smoke disappearing into the night as she spoke.

"You're Tseng, right?"

Tseng gave her a puzzled look. "Yeah," he said, "that's right." He tried to remember if he should recognize her from something, before he asked how she knew who he was. But she answered the question before he'd even gotten a chance to ask it.

"I've seen you in school," she explained then extended her right hand. "The name's Scarlet, but I wouldn't expect you to know me."

Her handshake was surprisingly strong for someone who looked so delicate and fragile. But then she seemed to be the kind of person who knows what they want and how to get it. "I've been looking for a chance to talk to you, Tseng," she said, her voice suddenly dropping just slightly and took on a seductive tone.

Tseng cleared his throat a little. "Really? Any specific reason why?"

Scarlet raised a hand and casually brushed some strands of hair out of his face, then giggled. "I wanted to give you a chance to ask me out."

Tseng could feel a blush creeping onto his cheeks as Scarlet held him steady in her blue gaze.

"So? What do you say," she asked, impatience and a surpressed fear of being rejected hidden deep in her voice. She placed one hand on her hip and brought the one that still held the cigarette up to her cherry painted lustrous lips.

As Tseng tried to come up with a good and polite excuse to turn her offer down something was drawn to his attention in the corner of his eye. Sephiroth was sitting infront of one of the fires alone, glaring angrily at anyone who dared to attempt to start up a conversation with him. Tseng couldn't help but smile at his friend who no doubt was sulking because he'd let himself be talked into coming along to a beach party.

"Look," Tseng said to Scarlet, not caring anymore if he would come off as rude, "I really should be getting back to my friend. I'll see you around." He left her, hoping she'd gotten the message.

"Having fun?" Tseng placed himself cross-legged on the other side of the fire.

Sephiroth's arms rested around his knees, he tiltled his head slightly, resting it on his arm, and sighed. "No."

Tseng chuckled softly and inhaled on his cigarette, his eyes turned to the dancing people on the beach. Soon they blurred and the dark sea became clear. The waves draped over the sand briefly, withdrawing to depths the next second. The ivory sand beneath him gleamed in the light of the blaze. Then his eyes returned to Sephiroth's.

"Who's the girl?" the silver haired boy asked, opening a can of beer.

A shrug, another drag on the cigarette. "Just someone from school. I thought you didn't drink beer."

Sephiroth looked down on the beer can in his hand, brought it up to his lips and took a sip out of it. "I do tonight. What did she want?"

"I don't know." A short laugh. "She wanted me to ask her out." The fire made the green in Sephiroth's serious eyes flicker as Tseng met his gaze with a smile.

"Did you?"


Sephiroth's porcelain lips curved slightly.

Tseng placed his palms in the warm sand and leaned back a little, trying to find a name for the gaze he was on the receiveing end of. "What?" he finally asked.

Silver strands fell over the pale face, a hand brushed them away. "Why didn't you ask her out?"

Another shrug, the observer noted how gracefully the shoulders rose and fell, black tresses hanging over one of them. "Just didn't feel like it I guess." Smoke trailed around his face briefly then drifted off into the night. "Not my type." Tseng's head fell back slightly as he laughed.

Sephiroth's eyes sparked and he laughed too. "Still going for older women, Tseng?"

Tseng shook his head, still chuckling. "What are you talking about?"

"I remember that teacher you had, must have been two years ago, we were fourteen. Miss Thompson, was that her name? You had a major crush on her."

"Did not," Tseng rocked forward and rested his elbows on his knees.

"You did, you were always going on about her while we were sparring. You were even easier to beat than usual because you had your head up in the clouds dreaming about miss Thompson." Sephiroth pronounced the name in a mocking tone and fluttered his lashes.

An empty beer can landed by his feet and his friend's laugh echoed out in the night.

"Tseng, are you drunk?"

"Heidegger will be so pissed off if he finds out we sneaked out of the tower."

"If we're lucky he'll get a heartattack."

The party had faded in a diminuendo and the beach was nearly empty save for the two friends by the fire. Tseng was lying on his back, watching the stars, smoking. Next to him lay Sephiroth, head propped up by his hand, he too smoking even though he normally wouldn't. Silently watching Tseng watch the celestial bodies hanging down over the Planet.


"Mm." Tseng turned his head to Sepiroth.

For a moment it seemed as if his friend was going to reveal some grave secret but then he smirked, turning away briefly and tossing the cigarette away.

"Remind me never to smoke again."

Tseng laughed. "Deal, as long as you're not nagging about my smoking."

"Deal," Sephiroth agreed.

There can be something comforting in the night, in the darkness and silence.A rare tranquility, that lulls your mind to peace with all that lies hidden beneath the surface. A momentary calm before the mornings storm. A fake assurance that everything is ok. And maybe, if you don't fear what dwells in the shadows, then all might be well after all. Or maybe, you'll unleash the demons of hell and find there are no reversing spell.

"...and that's about all I know about her. Except for her name, Jenova." Sephiroth distractedly drew circles in the sand with a stick while he spoke. "My father," he shrugged, "I guess he left before I was even born." A smaller circle was drawn into one of the bigger ones. "Hojo says he doesn't know, and that I shouldn't care," a line crossed over the circles. "Since my father never did." A parallell line was added to the first.

Tseng knew better than to come with false reassurances. He knew losing the two people dearest to you in the world before you even met them, made you immune to kind words and sympatethic looks. Saying 'that's probably not how it was' wouldn't just be a cliche, it would be a lie. And Tseng would never lie to the only person he'd ever cared about, to his best friend, to Sephiroth. He wouldn't be able to forgive himself if he ever did.

"Do you miss your parents?" Sephiroth's eyes were still cast down on the sand were new symbols were taking form.

Tseng was silent for a moment, giving the question some serious thought. "I don't know. I never even met them."

Sephiroth looked up. "Tell me about them. You never talk about them. I know your father's name, but that's all. What about your mother?"

"All I know is that she's from Wutai. Her name was Lia." Tseng reached for his jacket and put it on, it was getting cold.

His friend studied him with a smirk twisting his lips. "Yeah, I thought so, you look wutan."

Tseng laughed, but it was without any amusement. "I was born there."

"I thought you said you were born in Midgar?" Sephiroth returned to his circels.

"My mother died while giving birth. In Wutai they believe the child is cursed if the mother dies...while giving birth." He tapped the mark between his eyebrows. "So they mark them."

"And send them away?" Sephiroth filled.

"My mother's sister took me in actually, we moved to Midgar. Shinra helped her financially since she was raising the child of one of their Turks that had been killed in the line of duty. We got by alright I suppose, lived in Sector 2. She died when I was nine, then I was taken in by Shinra." Tseng sighed and closed his eyes.

When he opened them again Sephiroth wondered if it was tears that glimmered in the dark hazel color or just the shivering flames of the dying fire. "Both of us could probably have gotten a better start in life but I think I'm glad after all," Sephiroth said silently as he traced the end of the stick over the sand. "Maybe we'd never met if things were different," his words were carried off by the wind almost before they'd been uttered. He drew a straight line, then one more.

Tseng smiled, not looking quite as sad as before then he turned his gaze for one last look at the ocean. "You want to go back home?"

"Yeah," Sephiroth looked down on what he'd been drawing. A heart. Two straight lines within it; a T? Quickly he erased it with the palm of his hand.

By the time they reached the Shinra building the sun was coming up over the horizon but it's rays were still no able to probe through the grey everlasting cloud that hung above Midgar. A humming sound were rapidly drawing closer towards the two silhoutes silently creeping through the dark streets of the city.

"A Shinra truck," Sephiroth hissed when the source of the sound emerged.


They escaped into an alley and waited till the truck had passed. Not until they were sure more trucks weren't following they dared to slip out into the street again. They kept close to the housewalls, knowing the reprimands would not be mild if it was discovered they had sneaked out of the tower without their superior's permisson.

"Where do you think they were going?" Tseng asked. "It was the kind of truck they use as transportation in SOLDIER, wasn't it."

Sephiroth glanced over his shoulder, making sure they weren't surprised again. "I don't know," he said, increasing the pace a little, "there are usually no missions on Sundays, no field training either. Something must have happened, an emergency." He cursed under his breath.

"Can't be anything big since they just sent out one transport." Tseng tucked his hand into his pocket and slouched a little when he walked.

"Damnit Tseng," Sephiroth snarled, "don't you get it. What if I was supposed to go out with them. What if they came looking for me this morning and I wasn't there."

Tseng stopped and glared at him. "Well, it's hardly my fault, is it."

"You're the one who talked me into going to that stupid beach party." Sephiroth spun around to face Tseng who stod with his arms folded over his chest. "It's important to me. I have to prove myself if I'm going to get anywhere in SOLDIER. And it won't work if you keep screwing up every chance I get to do so."

"Me?" Tseng exclaimed.

"Today's hardly the only time it's happened. I missed my first shot at taking the field exam because I was out with you, sneaking peeks at the prostitutes in Wall Market. I almost missed my first real mission because you'd talked me into going with you to Kalm to go on a double date with that girl you were after and her friend."

Tseng's eyes flashed as he studied the silver haired boy intently. "I'm so fucking sorry then," he sneered as he brushed past Sephiroth. "You know, Seph, sometimes you make it really hard being your friend." He melted into the shadows as he made his way homewards.

Sephiroth stared after Tseng before he too hurried off to the Shinra building. Fuck him, he thought, I don't need him. Tseng's words returned to him, he vividly recalled the hurt look in the hazel eyes as he'd told him he was sorry he'd been out with him. Damnit Tseng, you know I wouldn't want to exchange one second spent with you for the highest rank in SOLDIER, don't you? He saw Tseng's face, lit by the fire at the beach. Tseng's calm, easy breaths as he watched the stars. Tseng... sureyly you must know. Tseng's lips slowly curving into that arrogant smirk of his, the one that always broke into a full smile when he was around Sephiroth. Damnit. Tseng's sad eyes; easy breaths; soft, pale lips.

Sephiroth looked up at the grey sky as the first drops of rain slowly fell. Shit.

Tseng draped his leather jacket over the back of the only chair there was in his room. The shoes he kicked off, letting them lay where they landed. He pulled of the black t-shirt, carelessly throwing it into the closet. The bed squeeked as he fell onto it, his eyes were heavy, he was more tired than he'd thought. A knock on the door prevented him from going into his very much longed for sleep.

Fucking hell...

"Just wanted to check that you got back safely," Sephiroth was leaning in the doorframe. "You didn't lock the door," he said, half accusingly, half relieved.

Tseng didn't get up from the bed, he just turned his head to look at Sephiroth. "What do you want?" his voice was much softer than he would have liked it to be.

Sephiroth didn't move; with his head a little cocked to the side he held Tseng's gaze. For the barest instant his eyes flickered over Tseng's naked chest, blink and you'd have missed it. But Tseng didn't blink, and his skin prickled as if Sephiroth's gaze had burned it. A low click cut through the silence as Sephiroth locked the door. Tseng's lips twisted in his trademark smirk. With a few quick strides Sephiroth was by the bed, leaning over his raven haired friend.

"I'm sorry Tseng," he said as he took Tseng's face in his hands and kissed him, "I didn't mean what I said."

Tseng pulled himself up by throwing his arms around Sephiroth. "I know, Seph, I know." He tilted his head and pressed his lips against Sephiroth's for a fierce kiss. He pulled him down with him on the bed.

"Ohgods, Tseng, I never knew... I didn't dare to hope..." the words trailed off as Tseng's tongue sneaked it's way into his mouth. Sephiroth broke the kiss and traced his lips down over the other's neck and chest.

Tseng's hand rose to tangle in the long silver hair. "Seph," his voice was something between a whisper and a moan, "I've been wanting this for so long."

Sephiroth placed a soft kiss on his lips again. "Me too," his nose rubbed briefly against Tseng's and then they kissed once more.

Chapter 2   |   Fanfiction