Summary: Think about it. What was Seph like prior to Nibelheim? Did he ever have sick days, hangovers, telemarketers that would not leave him alone? Well, you can bet your ugly f-king boots he did! And so this fic, which will eventually become a series of oneshots/drabbles, has come into being. Proof that Sephiroth is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, as human as you and I!

Disclaimer: Lemme check real quick. Hmmm... Nope. I still don't own Final Fantasy VII or Sephiroth. He visits me from time to time, but I don't own him. Truth be told, I don't think Square Enix really does either. They just say they do.

Queen's Quornor: It has been a long time since I've updated this, I know. However, I had this idea after watching a couple of the Crisis Core cutscenes and noticing how everybody seems so hands-off regarding Seph. He's nice and reaches out and has friends, so why the no-touchy? That got me thinking, and finally this was created.

Touch

Friday night was not exactly a happening time in the cadet barracks. Being driven into the ground by screaming drill sergeants with copious amounts of spittle six days a week, the greater majority of Shinra's cadets often took the opportunity to flee on the eve of their one day off. Bars, clubs, and cheap restaraunts were filled to capacity, and Midgar's citizens kept off the streets for fear of becoming a casualty in a spontaneous street-race. The following morning would reveal the wreckage of the night's festivities: furtive walks of shame, the happy hour leftovers wallowing on the streets, the champion drinkers piteously kneeling before their porcelain god in miserable supplication. In short, the cadets would be rewarding themselves in the fashion they felt they deserved.

A few of their number did not partake of the weekly rituals, and often received some ribbing about it from their collegues. But there was one cadet whom nobody teased about staying in on Friday nights, mostly because they were afraid of him.

Tareyna Anderson was the only cadet who dared intrude upon his domain. The gregarious redhead hated to see people left out of anything, and to her Sephiroth was no exception. He always refused her invitations to go clubbing, but she wasn't giving up. She had noticed that he always kept to himself at meals, and only interacted with the rest of the squad when necessary. He scarcely spoke with anybody. The others had learned to give him a wide berth without him ever saying a word.

So of course, Tareyna had decided to try and draw him out of his shell.

She ignored the appraising whistles as she strode down the hall to Sephiroth's quarters (as squad captain, he had been assigned a private dorm). This had become a ritual for her: she asked him to come dancing with her and the girls, he said no, she left and spent the night partying and wondering why he was so antisocial. For a couple of weeks, some of their squad-mates had started a betting-pool on what reaction she would receive from the silver-haired man, but wound up folding because it was so predictable. Tareyna remained as curous as ever about him, but every polite rejection left her feeling a bit more subdued every time she walked away.

Adjusting her miniskirt, the redhead stopped before his door. After composing herself, she raised one hand and firmly rapped on the metal panel.

The door slid open a moment later, affording her a look into his quarters, which were as spartan as the room she shared with three other people. Sephiroth hadn't even risen from his bed to answer her this time.

"You know what I'm going to ask, right?" she began.

"And you know what my answer will be, I assume," he returned, leaning on his elbow.

"You're assuming that I assume the worst." Tareyna crooked her lips in a half-smile, amused by the mild surprise in his beautiful eyes. She really liked his eyes. "I've never liked assuming. Always struck me as a bad decision, thinking you know something for certain without considering the variables. I like clarification."

Sephiroth snorted. Finally, a genuine reaction! she inwardly crowed. "Then proceed with your request."

"All right." The redhead straightened up and squared her shoulders, facing the quiet teenager much as she would their drill sergeant. "Would you like to go clubbing with me and my girlfriends? It would do you some good to get out of this stuffy barracks."

"Not interested," he replied.

"You're never interested," she mumbled, turning to leave.

"Then why do you keep coming?" he asked, sitting up.

Tareyna shrugged. "I don't like seeing people alone all the time, and you don't seem to have any friends or anything."

"So you're volunteering?"

"I guess I am," she replied in an even tone.

Sephiroth looked away from her. "If all you want is to get close to me, forget it. I don't need any friends."

She frowned. "Why not? Everybody needs someone, sometime."

"I don't." He raised his peridot eyes to hers, his gaze challenging. "I've never needed anybody."

Tareyna was not a stupid woman. She prided herself on her intelligence and wit more than any other quality. But his words told her, quite firmly, that she had missed something about him. Glancing around the hallway, the redhead stepped inside his room, allowing the door to slide shut behind her. She pretended not to notice his surprised expression. "Why would you say something like that?"

"Because it's true. When you allow yourself to get close to people, all that happens is pain. They leave you, hurt you, laugh at you..." He spat out each word like a curse, looking at the floor beside his bed. Tareyna had never seen him angry before, and it was obvious that his sudden change in mood was due to something in his past. Who was the focus of his ire?

"That's not true, Sephiroth," she began, reaching out to lay a hand on his shoulder.

He flinched away from her touch.

The redhead retracted her hand, overwhelmed with sympathy for this powerful, wounded man. "Who hurt you?" she softly inquired.

He turned those beautiful peridot eyes upon her, his expression filled with ice and stone. "Why do you want to know?" he retorted, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "I need your pity even less than I do your friendship."

"That's where you're wrong, sir." If she couldn't appeal to his human side, maybe attacking his defenses as a leader would get some answers. "How can you keep your squad safe in battle if you don't care about us? Everybody's scared of you. Yes, fear will make us follow your orders, but what happens if you get hurt in battle? What will motivate anybody to help you?"

He gave her a flat stare. "I won't get hurt."

"You're an idiot if you think that's true. Even the First Classes aren't untouchable. What makes you think a Third like you is beyond all that?" Now she was getting pissed off. How had she missed this arrogance? "Just come out with me, get to know a few people. We're not going to do anything to hurt you."

Sephiroth glared at her, and she thought she saw the ghost of a smile grace his full lips. "You're not going to leave me alone until I agree, are you?"

"You're the one who champions attacking the defenses until the opposition crumbles. What does your tactical knowledge tell you?"

He heaved himself off his bed. "A good leader knows when the battle is lost. Give me a few minutes to put something else on."

Tareyna wanted to do a victory dance, but she kept herself composed. He could still retreat behind his inner walls. "I'll be right outside the door, Sephiroth."

"I will only be a few minutes," he promised.

The redhead left the room and slumped back against the wall, grinning like a madwoman. She couldn't wait to see the looks on her friends' faces when she walked into the club with their gorgeous, enigmatic captain. Maybe she should bring a camera with her.

Her smile faded as she recalled his words about people, and what could have led him to such conclusions. Maybe, deep down inside him, he really did need her friendship to help him heal. All she had to do was keep him from rejecting her.