Final Fantasy VII

The Spirit of Family

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters are not mine and this ficlit is! It was directly inspired by the prompt Family at 30 Gens. The joke about "Hojo" as Sephiroth's surname would not necessarily have to mean that they know Dr. Hojo is his father. It could simply be being said due to Sephiroth being raised by the scientists, which would also fit the theme of the story. Thanks to Kaze for the title!

Sephiroth sighed to himself as he walked to Zack's office. It had been a long day so far, filled with reading documents, signing some, and rejecting others. Not to mention the disaster with the newly transferred SOLDIERS' records being lost somewhere in the database. It had taken hours to locate them again. And there were no doubt other folders and assignments that had stacked up. The last he knew, Zack had been buried in work.

It was odd to realize that he was going to Zack's office as a means of taking a short break from it all, the chance of which Zack would welcome with open arms. Usually it would be Zack going to see if "Seph" wanted to take a break. He must have started to loosen up a great deal. And whose fault was that?

He gave a slight smirk as he pushed open the door.

Zack was reading over what seemed to be a letter when Sephiroth entered his office. The brunet looked up, grinning at his friend. "Hey Seph!" he chirped.

Sephiroth gave a slow nod. "Is that from your family?" he asked, nodding to the piece of paper.

Zack nodded. "Yep! Mom!" He blinked at Seph. "What made you think so?"

Sephiroth smirked, sitting down in a nearby chair. "A military-related document wouldn't make you so happy," he replied.

Zack smirked too. "True," he said, leaning back in the leather chair. "The mail came, and I cheated and took a break." He blinked at Seph. "What's up, pal? Usually you're buried in paperwork about now."

Sephiroth shrugged in a noncommittal way. "I thought you might want to set the work aside for a while."

Zack's eyes widened. "You're taking a break? Without me egging you on?" he exclaimed. "And you're inviting me to chill out with you?"

"For a short while," Sephiroth grunted.

"Yeah! But still . . . !" Zack grinned. "My influence is rubbing off on you!"

Sephiroth's look was deadpan. "That may or may not be a good thing."

"Aww, it won't hurt you!" Zack smirked. Then, remembering something, he waved the paper in the other's direction. "Mom mentions you in here!"

Sephiroth raised an eyebrow. That was completely unexpected. And should he be concerned? "Oh she does," he said, his tone guarded. "What does she say?"

Zack grinned, looking back down at the letter as he proceeded to read from it. "'Zack, ask your friend if he likes chocolate chip cookies. I'd be happy to send along enough for both of you. He sounds like such a kind man. And any friend of yours is part of our family.'" His head snapped up again as he glanced to see Seph's reaction.

Sephiroth leaned back, the surprise flickering through his eyes. But otherwise his expression remained impassive. "What is it you've been telling them about me?" he asked, his voice even.

Zack shrugged in a nonchalant way. "Oh, you know . . . that you always try to help the men, that you're really patient . . . that you're too serious." He smirked again.

Sephiroth grunted. "And they're that welcoming to all of your friends?" Almost everyone was Zack's friend. That would be an immense extended family.

"Sure!" Zack said, placing the letter on his desk. "There was always someone coming home with me for dinner or cookies or what have you." He regarded the other with curiosity as well as a certain sadness. "So, you really don't have any family, Seph?"

"No." Sephiroth's answer was flat and matter-of-fact. Being raised by a group of scientists, most of whom were only interested in his strength and testing his endurance, was hardly what he would call having a family. It was almost impossible for him to even comprehend a childhood such as Zack's had been---happy and filled with people who actually cared about him. And he knew it must be hard for Zack to imagine the life Sephiroth had come from.

Which it definitely was. Zack's heart always ached when he thought of what Seph had never had or experienced. He had determined long ago to make sure that Seph never had to be unhappy or without a close friend. Of course he could never take away all of Seph's sorrows. But he would do whatever he could.

"Well," he spoke now, "what would you think, of being part of the Fair family, I mean?" He grinned. "You know you're like a brother to me."

Sephiroth pretended to think. "Sephiroth Fair," he mused.

"Yeah!" Zack chirped. "I mean, it fits you a lot better than Sephiroth Hojo or something like that." He gave a mock shudder.

Sephiroth gave him a look. "Almost anything would fit better than that," he said.

Zack responded by looking mournful. "Aww, come on, Seph," he protested.

Sephiroth was amused. "I'll think about it," he said.

"Great!" Zack exclaimed. "And hey, you could come back with me to Gongaga sometime for a visit!"

"Maybe," Sephiroth agreed. He fixed the other with a sidelong glance. "Have you been home at all since you first joined SOLDIER?" When he thought of it, he could not remember seeing such a furlough on Zack's records. And that seemed odd, especially during times of relative peace.

Zack shook his head, spikes flying in all directions. "Nope," he said. "It'd be a good time for it, though! You need a vacation, Seph."

"I would only be spending the time thinking of everything I need to get done," he said in a flat tone.

Zack was amused. "Not if you were kept busy enough!" he declared.

"Heh." Sephiroth gave his friend a look. "I'm curious. Do you invite all of your friends to be surrogate brothers?"

Zack smirked. "Nope," he said. "You're the first."

Even though Sephiroth had not actually believed otherwise, it was nice to hear it said. "I see," he said with a nod, leaning back in the chair.

Zack nodded in eagerness. "So . . . do you like chocolate chip cookies, Seph?" he asked.

Sephiroth frowned as he thought about it. The answer was strange to realize, but it seemed to be true. He looked over at the other. "I've never had any." The scientists had never given him such treats, and once he had joined SOLDIER, he had never had the time to be concerned over desserts.

Zack could only stare. The very idea was unthinkable. "Seph! After we get off duty tonight, we're going on a special mission!" he declared.

Sephiroth wondered if he dare ask. He leaned back, amused in spite of himself as he crossed his arms. "And where would that be?" he inquired.

"To the bakery!" Zack said in triumph.

"I should have known."

"Hey, family and friends look out for each other!"

"Even on something as trivial as chocolate chip cookies?"

"Chocolate chip cookies are one of life's simple but great pleasures!"

Sephiroth continued to observe this strange, yet happy person who had somehow insisted on being a part of his life. He would humor Zack on this matter. And he had to admit to himself, he was getting curious. Zack had a way of doing that.

"Alright," he said. "We'll go to the bakery."

Zack nodded in eagerness. "How about we go now?" he suggested. "An early lunch break."

"And ignore our work?"

"You're the one who came up with the idea of a break!"

"It's been long enough. We'll go at the end of the day."

Zack gave him a mock pout. But then he grinned. "Something to look forward to, then!" he said cheerfully.

And there was another of his unusual traits. He could put a positive slant on almost everything.

"Back to work, then," Sephiroth said.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm getting there!" Zack replied, taking the top folder off the stack and opening it.

As Sephiroth rose, he took an idle glance at Zack's letter. It was no wonder that Zack was such a happy person, really, considering his background. Obviously he had learned a lot of his kind nature from his mother.

Though, he mused, it did not explain why he himself was not a completely bitter and angry person, after the childhood he had endured. His had been anything but normal or happy, and yet he was usually kind---though he had very little patience for idiocy. He could be extremely cold when he wanted. And he was prideful. Perhaps to an extent, that was because his dignity was the only thing the scientists could never take from him. But only to an extent.

A lot of one's personality came from environment, but perhaps some elements were always in place---or at least their foundation. It was almost impossible to imagine Zack as anything except what he was. And it was equally hard to imagine himself ever being as light-hearted as Zack.

That actually sounded disturbing. As much so as it would be if Zack was sobered and reserved. They were what they were supposed to be.

He shook his head as he walked to the doorway. This was much too philosophical for this time of the day. It was time to focus on the cold, hard facts of the military. Waxing philosophical could wait for the evening.

Though one thought continued to stay with him as he went down the hall to his own office.

He had somewhere to belong. And what he was thinking of had very little to do with the cold, hard military facts.