"So, they're really going to do it?" Sephiroth shivered at the almost casual way Zack spoke of his fate and leaned into the comfort of the warm embrace Angeal offered.

"Yes. I'm informed they found a suitable candidate from among the cadets failed at the interview stage in the last set of exams, apparently he did so well they thought the interview was a formality, but..."

"And it was mostly that bastard Gregori's cadets in the last round of exams, so his victim wouldn't know he could try again." Angeal sounded angry, this was an old feud they had with Gregori, and Raven, Sephiroth's other old teacher sided with him and with Angeal. "Look on the bright side Seph, you could get lucky, since I think that protégé of Zack's you've got a crush on's the only one who qualifies."

"And even if it isn't Cloud you might be able to finally find an excuse to have that bastard slapped down hard." Zack had a teasing grin on his face, and from the heat in his own Sephiroth knew he was blushing.

"I don't have a crush on him." He didn't, even if his friends would never believe that. He was just impressed by Cloud's strength of character, but he didn't have a crush on him. Sephiroth kept an eye on the cadet classes when he had the chance, and he knew how 'pretty' cadets like Cloud were treated in the classes run under Gregori's authority. Cloud was the first of the cadets who didn't fit Gregori's twisted version of 'masculinity' to even get to the exams; Sephiroth had been so badly affected by Gregori's attitude when he was learning from the SOLDIER that he still couldn't shoot straight. That had been the only area of his training that Gregori had been in sole charge of, since Angeal, Raven and Hayden had all been only just adequate with guns, and at least one of them had been good enough to help train him in each of the other areas. Guns had been considered pretty unimportant for him to learn, so he'd spent far less time training with them than with anything else, but he was sure that a teacher who didn't constantly denigrate him would have helped him learn to at least aim well enough to hit a man at ten paces.

"Yeah, right." Zack obviously didn't believe Sephiroth, but he hadn't expected him to. "You make sure you learn everything you can about him, you watch him whenever you've got an excuse, and you won't even talk to him for anything but business if you can at all help it. And you're even blushing now."

"Zack has a point, if that doesn't add up to a crush I don't know what does." Angeal found it funny as well, although the way his arms tightened just a bit around Sephiroth's body warned him against moving as he protested.

"Then you don't know what a crush is. I'm pretty sure people only get crushes on people with authority over them. Like how we started out." Sephiroth had been fourteen at the time, and he'd been the one to initiate things, even though Angeal was still teaching him at the time and had been his mentor during the first year he was deployed to Wutai. "You really think this might give us a chance to stop Gregori ruining so many cadets?" It came out to about one cadet in fifteen dropping out because Gregori thought they weren't masculine enough, at least when you read between the lines; Gregori had more than three times the normal drop out rate and he had a lower proportion of cadets getting through the exams than Angeal and Raven did.

"If you play it right, sure." Zack sounded pretty confident, and Sephiroth was determined not to disappoint him, he'd think of some way to use his 'keeper' against Gregori. He just hoped he didn't manage to alienate his keeper by doing so, since he'd be dependent on his good will in a lot of ways for as long as he was alive. The board couldn't have thought of a better way to punish him for taking so much initiative if they'd tried. Considering how he was supposed to be bonded to his keeper...Sephiroth wriggled just a bit in Angeal's arms, glancing over at Zack from under his lashes.

"Well, in case he turns out to be possessive do you two want to have some fun while we can?"

Zack and Angeal both laughed at that, but Angeal had his hand down Sephiroth's pants, and Zack was kissing him by the time they'd finished laughing, so Sephiroth could just relax and let them do all the work. He preferred having Angeal in his mouth and Zack up his ass, it was more comfortable that way, but he'd do whatever his lovers wanted.


"Sir?" Cloud had been ordered to wait in this room until Professor Hojo was ready, but he hadn't expected the General to be here already - or at all. Perhaps this was a final test to see if he qualified for this experiment? But Sephiroth's first words told him that this wasn't a test, even if it didn't make sense for the General to be briefing him on this.

"Private Strife. How much did the Professor tell you about his plans?"

"I...didn't meet Professor Hojo, sir. One of the Turks came and offered me this chance to join SOLDIER even though I failed on the interview in the exam." He knew the bitterness he felt about that was obvious in his voice, but as soon as he'd learned SOLDIER 1st class Gregori was the one interviewing him he'd known he wasn't going to make it. Sephiroth frowned though, and Cloud wanted to flinch at the evidence he'd annoyed the General.

"Exactly what happened in your interview? According to the records it was just supposed to be a formality with you...and Gregori would have been informed of that beforehand. There's even a note in your file from Hojo to that effect." Cloud didn't understand. Why would his interview ever have been just a formality? He wasn't that good, that had been made painfully clear to him, even the fact that Zack had had to rescue him so many times told him that.

"Major Gregori only asked me two questions, first he asked me why I wanted to be a SOLDIER, then he asked me what I thought of you, sir." Sephiroth went very still then, before a thin cruel smile spread across his face.

"Really, and what did you tell him then?"

"I wanted to be a SOLDIER to be among the best fighters on the Planet, and because I wanted to be even half as capable as you are. And I told him that I thought you were powerful and a brilliant leader, but far too isolated for it to be good for you." Cloud wasn't sure how much had been recorded from his interview, so he wasn't going to risk lying, even if the truth made him sound like a school kid with a crush.

"I see. While those are acceptable questions to start the interview with the second question is optional, and Gregori did not ask all the required questions. Also neither of your answers gave him reason for the report he brought back on you. Thank you. You have confirmed something we have suspected for years, but been unable to prove. Did he tell you that you are permitted to take the exam again if you fail, up to three times in total? Or that if you did try again you would be interviewed by Angeal or Raven?" Now Cloud froze, the feeling of betrayal surfacing in his heart. He hadn't expected much of SOLDIER 1st class Gregori, since he was in overall charge of the training system that had belittled and denigrated him and allowed his 'classmates' to bully and abuse him without any effort at intervention, except to punish him for being mistreated. But with Gregori's mania for rules and regulations he'd expected the SOLDIER to at least follow them in assessing him, even if he did use the harshest possible criteria.

"No. I didn't know any of that." Cloud finally managed to answer Sephiroth, shaking his head and feeling as if he'd been unforgivably naïve.

"I thought you might not, since Private Renson has already put in for the next exams, and he didn't even get to the interview stage. Of course the requirements to even reach the interview get harder with each attempt to retake the exam. I doubt Gregori mentioned that." Renson was one of the worst of Cloud's bullies, up until he'd been assigned to a different unit after the exam. "Gregori is a prejudiced idiot to be honest, he hates anyone who doesn't fit into his twisted version of what a man should be, to be specific anyone who doesn't chase after women or bully other people." There was something odd about the General's body language, he was looking down at the floor and playing with a bit of his hair, almost nervously, but Sephiroth wouldn't be nervous. "Do you...find any men attractive, or is that just a false assumption he would have made based on your looks?"

That explained why he was nervous, he wouldn't be used to asking questions like that, and Zack had said he was very private, so no wonder if he thought this was a bit intrusive. Liking men, or even acting on a taste like that wasn't against the rules here, so he might as well answer honestly.

"There was a girl I liked back in Nibelheim, but I had a bit of a crush on Zack for a while," That had been because of the way Zack kept on rescuing him from the cadets who acted just like the bullies back home. "you're the most beautiful person I've ever seen, and I wish I could do something to make you less lonely."

"You are." Cloud couldn't see how, but even though (or rather because) he seemed uncomfortable about it, this had to be important if Sephiroth was telling him. "How much was explained about the procedure you 'volunteered' for?"

"Not much. They just explained it was a way for me to become a SOLDIER even though I failed the exam."

"That wasn't entirely accurate. Hojo thinks he has a way to replicate my abilities, or come close to doing so, although I think it can't be done more than once." And part of the reason he was so lonely had to be because of how unique and powerful he was. "The overall alteration will take a total of five years, with the initial enhancements being performed over a period of one month. Hojo claims he needs me here for the first week, although I suspect he's using it as an excuse to run more tests. Your gear has already been moved into the bedroom through there," Sephiroth pointed to the door on the left as Cloud entered the room, "and there is a small gym there, equipped with gear for weight training rather than swordwork." and that was the door at the back of the room, so was the last door the bathroom, or Sephiroth's bedroom?

"And the bathroom sir?"

"We each have a bathroom and a small kitchen attached to our bedrooms, the bathroom past the kitchen. Food will be delivered for our meals of course, but the kitchens are equipped for making any snacks we wanted." He paused, looking almost uncertain, then when Cloud didn't immediately dash for the bathroom he seemed to brace himself. "You said you found me attractive?"

"Yes, very." Sephiroth didn't seem to be angry about that, in fact he put a hand on Cloud's jaw and leaned down to kiss him, but even though Cloud let his mouth fall open Sephiroth didn't take it, just opening his own mouth in return, acting almost hesitant. After a few seconds Cloud brought his own hand up to cup Sephiroth's cheek, and slid his tongue into the General's mouth, the way he'd heard other troopers talking about doing with their girls. Eventually Sephiroth pulled back, his pupils looking almost human in his arousal.

"Zack and Angeal believe I have a crush on you." As if that would ever happen. A crush was only a crush if there was no returned interest and Cloud had been half in love with Sephiroth ever since he'd met the man. "You seem to return my interest. What would you like to do about it?" He was leaving the decision up to Cloud? Why?

"I...this is my first time. Be gentle with me...show me what to do." Sephiroth blinked, seeming almost surprised.

"You want me to take you then?" Cloud thought that had been a given, but he nodded anyway, too overcome to say anything. "In that case we should move this to my bedroom."

The bedroom was as well furnished as he'd expect for the General; a double bed, with a small table beside it, a stand for Masamune, a wardrobe in one corner and a wooden trunk at the end of the bed. "Your bedroom is furnished identically. If you wanted to you could start undressing while I find some sort of lubrication." Cloud had a choice? He decided not to undress, but to wait and let Sephiroth undress him instead and sat on the bed to watch as the General knelt and raked through his trunk.


Sephiroth couldn't use the massage oil he was used to using as lubrication since he knew it was a bad idea for bottoms to use the same thing to make it easier, as that could spread infections and even if he was immune Cloud wasn't. He'd never taken anyone before, Angeal always took him and Zack, and Zack always took him, but if that was what Cloud wanted he'd do his best to please him. He didn't dare do otherwise considering the power Cloud would soon have over him, but he'd want to please the blond anyway. Still, he promised himself he'd insist that the next time Cloud would be the one to take him, and he knew that Cloud would complete taking control of him by fucking him, even if he wasn't supposed to know that. That would work he thought as he found one of the Potions he kept in case Hojo proved overly enthusiastic in his testing; he wasn't entirely comfortable asking Zack or Angeal to cast Cures for him, but Cloud would be facing the same issues as he would, and there was no chance of him being sent out on an unexpected mission for the next month. Besides, he had to avoid hurting Cloud.

He looked up to see Cloud sitting on his bed, still fully dressed and hesitated before standing and moving to place the Potion on the bedside table, then sitting beside him.

"Do you wish me to undress you then?" Then something occurred to him, generally Zack and Angeal made sure they undressed before him unless they were playing real dominance games, and even though the idea of his lover feeling vulnerable was foreign to him..."Or would you rather I undressed first? Or perhaps you'd like to undress me yourself?"

"I...you undress...please. I'd...like to see you." Cloud blushed and ducked his head in embarrassment, but Sephiroth only smiled, glad to be able to start with something familiar. He pulled off his boots first, as he sat on the bed, since that couldn't be done temptingly, and then he stood, moving in front of Cloud and watching his reaction from lowered eyes as he stripped as seductively as he could manage. It seemed to arouse him at least, and he knelt in front of Cloud and took hold of his left foot, placing it in his lap to remove that boot and sock first, followed by the right boot and sock. But Cloud looked almost shocked at that, and he didn't take the opportunity to trail a foot up along Sephiroth's inside thigh the way Zack, or even Angeal would, so he looked directly up at the private as he spoke.

"Is this alright? You do not object to my undressing you now, do you?"

"N-no. Go on." Sephiroth sat back on his heels for a moment, trying to figure out how to do this, since he didn't think Cloud would appreciate his usual methods. He wanted Sephiroth to take charge, and Sephiroth was sure that what he usually did with Zack and Angeal would be too submissive for the blond's tastes, but the simplest option wasn't intimate enough for his tastes.

"Could you lie down on the bed fully, please?" Cloud looked just a little bit startled, but he climbed fully onto the bed, lying back in the middle as Sephiroth climbed onto it himself. He hesitated then moved to kneel over Cloud's legs so he could pull his sweater over his head, and then moved so he was crouching over Cloud instead, taking the top button of his shirt into his teeth and unfastening it, then beginning to move down his body unfastening each button the same way. Cloud didn't wear a vest under his shirt the way Zack and Angeal did, and he paused in surprise, until he remembered; Cloud was from Nibelheim, he'd be used to colder temperatures than here.

Sephiroth nuzzled for a moment against Cloud's groin while his pants were still closed, enjoying the feel of the young man swelling against his cheek and then began the process of unfastening the fly with teeth and tongue, which was a bit harder than unfastening the buttons of his shirt using the same tools. He hesitated, then decided to just use his hands to removed the pants and the shirt properly, instead of his teeth as Zack or Angeal would have demanded, then he briefly mouthed Cloud's growing erection through his briefs before removing them. It seemed to be going well, he was enjoying this, but he wouldn't take the next step he had in mind without checking that he'd avoided displeasing Cloud so far.

"Cloud?" He waited until Cloud raised his head before continuing. "Are you enjoying this so far?" He'd slipped little kisses and caresses in when he could as he undressed him, the way he would with Zack or Angeal unless he'd been told not to, and he was idly running his fingers in circles on the inside of Cloud's nearer thigh.


"And...you'll tell me if I hurt you or do something you don't enjoy?" That had been something Angeal had insisted on his first time, so he was pretty sure it was important, important enough that he pulled back enough to give Cloud room to think.

"Yes. Please, just do something!"

"If you would spread your legs then?" Sephiroth reached for two of the pillows at the head of the bed and set them beneath Cloud's hips before he moved to kneel between his open legs, setting the Potion he'd found beside his knee. He licked a swift line up Cloud's erection, then braced himself with a hand on his thigh as he began licking behind his balls, and then further back, until his tongue rested at the entrance to Cloud's body. Zack and Angeal both liked it when he did this, Zack more than Angeal, and Zack had returned the favour a few times so he knew how incredible it could feel, and when Angeal had him prepare Zack this was almost always how he started off. He circled Cloud's entrance for a few moments, then he slid the tip of his tongue inside, enjoying the taste in an odd way.

"N-no, don't!" Sephiroth pulled back and looked up at Cloud in puzzlement, he couldn't understand why Cloud looked almost horrified.

"What did I do to upset you?"

"You shouldn't be doing that sir. It's...degrading." That was one of the things he liked about it, and the reason it sometimes bothered him when Zack returned the favour, but he wasn't going to say that.

"Please, don't call me sir, not in bed." He was having a hard enough time staying aroused as it was, only the thought that this was what his soon to be master required of him gave him any chance of doing so. "Use my name, and if you dislike this I can prepare you another way. If that is what you wish?"

"Please si-Sephiroth." He smiled at that, and leaned forward over Cloud's body for a kiss, encouraging a good habit, and brushing their groins together, hoping Cloud wouldn't realise he was only just half hard.

"I'll suck you then, while I prepare you. Feel free to grab onto my hair if you want to." Zack and Angeal would never permit Sephiroth to do that when one of them was giving him a blow job, they usually tied or pinned his hands as a reminder, but Sephiroth enjoyed feeling someone's hands in his hair as he pleased them, he loved the implied loss of control and submission. He moved back between Cloud's legs and opened the Potion bottle, coating the smallest finger on his right hand in the Potion.

He slid the finger into Cloud at the same time as he took Cloud into his mouth; Sephiroth only realised then that Cloud was smaller than Zack or Angeal, and he had no idea what normal was. Oh, he knew for a fact that Angeal was abnormally large, but he was about the same size as Zack, and he didn't know if he was larger than average or smaller, or what. But then, Cloud was still young, not even fifteen yet, he'd grow. He switched fingers coating the index finger with Potion before sliding it in to replace his littlest finger, searching for that one spot...there it was.


At first all he felt as Sephiroth slid one finger then the other into him was pressure, at least in his ass, there was no pain, but there was no pleasure from having Sephiroth's finger inside him either. All the pleasure he was feeling came from the feel of Sephiroth's mouth, hot and wet around his dick, until Sephiroth moved his finger somehow and a white-hot flash of intense pleasure made him grab onto Sephiroth's hair. He recovered his senses in a few seconds and released his grip in horror, but Sephiroth's free hand came up to tug Cloud's hands back to his head, placing a bottle down beside them to do so. And it was only then that he realised...

"You're using a Potion for lubrication?" He yanked at Sephiroth's hair without thinking, but the General just let him pull his head away from Cloud's groin, even smiling slightly after Cloud's cock had slid out of his mouth with a pop. Cloud lifted himself up, balanced awkwardly on his elbows to meet Sephiroth's eyes.

"Yes. I packed 15 when I was told to prepare to spend a week under Hojo's authority, I intended to share them with you and leave the ones we didn't use this week for the rest of the month you'll be here. I didn't think I could hide any more than that. I don't want to hurt you, and a Potion's the best way to avoid that, especially since this is your first time." He glanced down, then back up at Cloud's face, except he didn't look directly at him, glancing up through his eyelashes instead. "Might I continue what I was doing? If...I was pleasing you?" Why was he acting so uncertain?

"Yes, and yes." Cloud let himself fall back to lie on the bed, no longer trying to lift his body up enough to see what Sephiroth was doing. But when he felt a second finger slip into him Cloud reached down and grabbed the General's hair again, bucking his hips up into his mouth without thinking, only to hear - and feel - Sephiroth laugh around his cock. Those fingers moved inside him, stretching him carefully, and avoiding that spot, the one that had felt so good before. "Please...what you...did before...felt so...good."

Sephiroth twisted his fingers, and at the same time took Cloud's cock fully into his mouth, swallowing around it, as he pressed into that spot once, twice, and he came, hands twisting in the General's hair, crying out with the pleasure. As he recovered he realised that Sephiroth had slid a third finger in right after he'd come, and he was beginning to feel a hint of discomfort, even with the Potion, not pain, not yet, but he wasn't distracted by arousal anymore. And Sephiroth still had his cock in his mouth, his hands were still clenched in the General's hair.

"Stop." He opened his hands, letting that beautiful fine silver hair slide from his fingers and Sephiroth froze for a moment, before lifting his head, fingers still inside him.

"Is something wrong? Am I hurting you? Did I...displease you? Or...is this enough? Do you want to stop altogether now? Or...didn't you want to come so soon?" Sephiroth sounded...almost anxious? No, Cloud had to be imagining things, and he lifted himself on his elbows to reply, hoping to meet Sephiroth's eyes, but only seeing his bowed head.

"I...you haven't gotten anything out of this...but...I came too soon, and..."

"I'm sorry," Why was Sephiroth apologising? "I wanted to taste you, and pressing that spot, the prostate, usually makes any man come pretty quickly, especially if he's deep-throated at the same time. But...you're young enough that the refractory period's pretty short. I...by the time you're stretched enough you'll be hard again, and it'll take you a bit longer to come this time." Sephiroth bent to lick his cock and began playing with his balls as he continued. "Might I...go back to what I was doing, please? I...like the way you taste, and I like feeling a man get hard in my mouth." Why was he asking permission?

"Yes...please!" But it was oddly arousing, and so was the way Sephiroth was playing with his balls, distracting Cloud from the three fingers still inside him. Sephiroth went back to sucking his cock with enthusiasm, and Cloud lay back, reaching down to stroke Sephiroth's hair in apology for the way he'd yanked at it before. But soon enough he wanted to start yanking at it again, and..."More...please...now."

Sephiroth stopped what he was doing then and came to crouch over Cloud, brushing a light kiss over his lips before speaking.

"How would you like to do this? It will hurt less if you roll over onto your hands and knees, but I think face to face is more intimate." No contest then.

"Face to face."

"Thank you." Sephiroth kissed him again, deeper this time. "Wrap your legs around my waist then." Cloud felt Sephiroth pushing slowly into him once he'd obeyed, and he gasped at the sensation. Sephiroth stopped moving once he was fully inside Cloud, and he stayed there until...

"Move please, I can't..." Cloud didn't know what to say, it was so intense, and it got even better when Sephiroth began to move, slowly at first, but getting faster, and he was totally attentive to Cloud's responses. The pleasure built and built, and Cloud cried out when he came, then he felt Sephiroth's hot seed fill him as he came too. Then, while he was still dazed with pleasure Sephiroth pulled out of him and rolled over so that Cloud rested on his chest.

"Did I...please you?" At that Cloud finally recognised Sephiroth's clear insecurity, even if he couldn't understand why the General would feel that way.

"You were wonderful Sephiroth." He hesitated, then he leaned down to kiss Sephiroth. "Even if this is the only time you want to be with me I'm grateful for having such a perfect first time."

Sephiroth blushed as he replied. "It won't be the only time, not unless...you want it to be. And...in a way, this was my first time too. I've never...taken anyone before. I...prefer to let someone else take charge during sex. Next time, might I ask you to take me?" Cloud was overwhelmed by the realisation of what it had to have cost Sephiroth to give him what he'd asked for.

"Yes, of course. I'll try to make it as good for you as you did for me."

"Thank you Cloud. Tomorrow, after Hojo's finished with us then?"

"Yes, but...can I stay with you for a bit now?"

"If you wish." And then Sephiroth shut his eyes in perfect trust and submission.


Sephiroth couldn't quite believe how easy his morning had been under Hojo's supervision, yes there'd been surgical procedures, but he'd been given more in the way of anaesthesia than he was used to, and after he'd been given a Hi-Potion by Hojo it had just been indoctrination. He'd been given drugs IV and hooked up to a neurofeedback machine for an hour and a half, and apparently the afternoon would be more of the same, since one of the technicians had told him it could only be used for that long continuously, and there had to be an hour long break between sessions. He didn't think there was any difference in how he thought yet, but he wasn't entirely sure he'd notice if there was any change, Zack and Angeal might notice differences in his behaviour, but that was the most he could hope for.

He had two indoctrination sessions this afternoon, and one in the evening, but he wouldn't have to undress for those, so it should be safe enough to make some preparations for being with Cloud - assuming he'd be in good enough condition to take Sephiroth of course. Still, just to make sure, he set the computer up to run a search on how the neurofeedback machines worked while he ate the lunch that had been delivered for him.

Good, it was dangerous to interrupt someone under neurofeedback conditioning - for both people - and an hour of relaxation was recommended between sessions. He couldn't be certain he'd get that, but he thought it was worth taking the risk of being found out, since Cloud wouldn't know how to prepare him yet, and he wasn't even sure Cloud would have the energy, but at least they would have privacy. They'd given up on bugging any room he was expected to spend a prolonged period of time in when he was eleven, after the noise had given him such a headache that he'd started throwing up as soon as he'd eaten breakfast, and kept on throwing up for most of the day.

He pulled out the set of three butt plugs with reservoirs inside for oil and filled the smallest with the 'massage oil' he used before taking a quick shower and beginning to stretch himself. Angeal had given them to him shortly after he'd commented that sometimes he wished he could sleep with his lover inside him, but he'd known that it would be too uncomfortable, for both of them. And beside that, at the time it would have been far too dangerous for Angeal to seem to flaunt his relationship with Sephiroth, or even acknowledge it in any way. By the time Zack had joined them it had been fairly safe for Sephiroth to allow people to know he was in a relationship with Angeal and with Zack, and since Zack was smaller than Angeal he'd asked to try sleeping with Zack inside him, but it had been a disaster. Perhaps it would work better with Cloud...if he dared to ask.

He didn't have time to keep thinking about that though, and he slid the butt plug in, glad that since it was so small he only needed to get two fingers in to be stretched enough for it, then he dressed quickly. At least when he reported for another neurofeedback session he didn't have to deal with Hojo, he'd been half surprised the man had dealt with him personally for his surgery this morning, except he was pretty sure this first week was meant to make Cloud equal to a SOLDIER 3rd class and build the mental conditioning into both of them.

It generally took a week for the full enhancements to raise a man to a SOLDIER 3rd class, or a SOLDIER by a class, to be administered, and then another three weeks for him to get used to them. Sephiroth reflected on what he knew of Hojo's plans to enhance Cloud as he prepared the second and third butt plugs, since he had reason to believe he'd be eating with Cloud before his final neurofeedback session of the day. Zack and Angeal had both told him that when they were made SOLDIERs they'd only needed to spend half the day letting the scientists work on them, but Cloud was scheduled for a full day in the labs every day this week. Cloud was scheduled to spend a month in the labs every six months, regardless of how well he did, since six months was considered the minimum safe time between administering Mako enhancements. Presumably the other three weeks were for him to get used to his enhancements, and possibly for accelerated training to help him begin to match Sephiroth in skill as well as physically.

He stretched himself a bit more and slid the second plug inside him, placing the first in a bowl of water and casting a small Fire to turn the water to steam, covering the bowl with a plate to partially contain the steam as he cast the spell. Then he left and reported for another neurofeedback session, just grateful that Hojo had decided on such a painless way to start the conditioning.

At least it didn't look as if Cloud had been hurt, was Sephiroth's first thought when Cloud returned to their quarters, along with dinner, after he'd changed his butt plug and cleaned the one he'd been wearing, although Cloud was moving a bit awkwardly, as if he was in pain. But if he'd just got his first Mako injection...Sephiroth turned and went into his bedroom, pulling out a bottle of the opiate pills that were the only painkiller that worked on him and a Potion.

"Cloud, did you get a Mako injection today?" Sephiroth had the feeling he was noticing Cloud's appearance more now than he had been before, and he thought he could see some changes already, presumably from today's injection.

"I don't know, I got lots of injections, one before they put me into that machine where they put earphones and that weird helmet on your head," Cloud had been having sessions in the neurofeedback machine as well then, "and all sorts of other injections. One was the colour of your eyes."

"Yes, that was the Mako injection. I'm sorry, but the Potion won't work right for you then. The best I can offer you is a painkiller. Here." He tipped a pill from the bottle and handed it to Cloud across the table. "I'm sorry, these are the only painkillers I have, because nothing else works on me. They're opiates, so you'll almost certainly be sleepy after you take them, and you might not be able to stay awake, and since they're so strong you shouldn't take more than a quarter of the pill." He usually took two pills, and when Zack or Angeal used those pills they only took one. "You should decide if it's worth taking it, but I have a session with the neurofeedback machine for an hour and a half after we eat, so if you want to take me after that just wait for me in this room."

"It isn't that bad. I don't need this." Cloud pushed the pill back across the table at him as he began to eat, and Sephiroth was struck by admiration, and the memory of something Zack had said the first time Sephiroth had given him one of those painkillers.

"Man, I wish we'd been given any painkillers after that first Mako injection, and I'd have killed for something as effective as this, you know how much those things hurt don't you Sephiroth?"

"Keep it. If you don't use it tonight you can use it later, and come to me when you want some more. I think that by the end of the week taking a quarter of the tablet won't do more than make you sleepy, if that, taking a full pill doesn't make Zack or Angeal sleepy." And they were his only frame of reference to measure Cloud against.

"Thank you." Sephiroth smiled at Cloud and changed the subject then.