Final Fantasy VII

Guardian Angel

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters from the games are not mine, and the other characters and this ficlit are. It takes place shortly after A Simple Mission in Triplicate in my Twilight and Dawn timeline and is the beginning of a new arc. Before I Die happens some time after the events here, and possibly even, the plot of Before I Die will be reworked as this arc moves on. It was directly inspired by the prompt Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position at 31 Days.

It had been a long day at the company, as usual. There were reports to look over, documents to sign, meetings to attend, and telephone calls to make. Today there had been a conference call with their associates in Tokyo, and that had lasted much too long. Some of the employees over there were threatening to strike, and the call had been intended to find a resolution. That had not happened. Everyone was exhausted.

All Sephiroth wanted to do was to go home. He had gained a pounding headache in his temples, which no amount of massaging could ease. From past experience, he had learned that a good rest was about the only cure.

He envied Cloud and Zack. The blond was laying on his back, his right arm hanging over the edge of the dark green couch. Zack was facing the back of the black couch, clutching a couch pillow. Both of them were sound asleep. Neither had meant to fall asleep; they had intended to lay down for five minutes and then get up again. Obviously their bodies had protested. They had been pushing themselves far too much lately. Sephiroth did not intend to wake them until he was ready to leave.

Angeal was still across the hall, checking one of the public computers. In addition to everything else, there had been a hacking attempt earlier. Now they needed to make sure every computer in the network was properly hooked up to the security system.

And as to who would have done such a thing, they all suspected some rival of theirs. They had collected quite a few, after all. Those in the business world were immensely jealous and even bewildered concerning the technology Jenova Corp held. But no one would be learning any company secrets.

Sephiroth was preparing to close his computer when an alert message slid onto the screen, informing him that he had a message. Frowning, he grabbed the mouse and clicked on it.

Then he could only glower in irritation at the email that appeared.

Hello, good sir. It's been a while, hasn't it? We haven't spoken at all since the little problem with the amethyst. I was somewhat surprised to hear that you were doing well. But then, it really shouldn't surprise me, should it? You possess more lives than a cat.

Typical of Dalton, to call what had happened a "little problem." The amethyst's anger had killed Sephiroth, before then toppling the entire temple. For some time now, they had never even known whether Dalton and Azazel Rakesh had gotten out. Fragmented Triangle had continued to operate through the other members of the board of the directors, but Sephiroth had long wondered if their hated enemies were still pulling the strings behind the scenes.

It could well have been Dalton who had tried to hack into their computer mainframe, when he thought about it. It was something their old nemesis would do, if he at all could.

Sephiroth scrolled down, brushing silver locks out of his eye. The rest of the message was no less annoying.

Now, I'm sure we can come to a mutual agreement, can't we? You have the Compass. I still want it. If it's money you desire, I would even be willing to bargain over it in that regard. Not that you need any more money, do you, good sir? And of course, you're so noble. You say you would never want such a thing to fall into my hands. But maybe you just want it for yourself.

His lip curled. Pushing up his wandering sleeves, he clicked the Reply button. Once the box was up, he began to type.

There are plenty of responses I could give to this, but I don't have the time to acknowledge such idiocy.

He clicked Send.

In the darkened office, Dalton smirked as Sephiroth's email arrived. It was nothing that he had not expected to hear. Of course Sephiroth would never tell anything about the Compass, if indeed he had it or knew of its location. When Gunju had possessed Cloud Strife, he had attempted to look through the luggage on the plane, but he had not discovered the artifact. Even if the group knew of how to utilize the amethyst in connection with the Compass, it was debatable whether they would bring the Compass on such a dangerous mission. Using the two at all was extremely risky, and of course they would worry that Dalton would somehow get hold of both.

He still intended to, too. It was only a matter of digging the amethyst out from the rubble and then taming it. Or maybe its free will would even be shattered altogether and it would just be a normal, yet powerful, gem. He and his associates would find out soon enough. But he wanted the Compass before he made any other move. It would be much easier to bridle the amethyst if he already possessed the second component. And it would be such a convenience if the former SOLDIER General was not the main obstacle in his path.

Honestly, Sephiroth had been a thorn in his side for so many years. And his dear friend Zack Fair, too. Now there were two others, as well---Cloud Strife and Angeal Hewley. It made things more interesting, at least. He just needed to pick someone to use in his next plan. To accomplish his goals, and also bring misery and suffering to his hated enemy, were the desires of his twisted and blackened heart. And what better way to bring anguish then to manipulate one of those whom Sephiroth held so dear?

Watching Sephiroth's reactions to the helplessly controlled Cloud Strife had been too amusing for Dalton. It was not likely that Gunju could do the same thing again, to any of them, but there were plenty of other wretched things that could take place. Maybe tonight Dalton would plan something out with the brothers.

They had always been useful to him; even after death, Gunju continued to prove his worth. And his twin brother Azazel, who was more of a businessman and less of a sadist, was ideal to assist in running Fragmented Triangle. When Dalton thought about it, they were the only ones he fully trusted, and the sole ones who had stayed to see all of their plans reach fruition.

He smirked again, scrolling down to view the email he had sent to Sephiroth. Smooth and taunting, as was his style. Picturing Sephiroth's expression of annoyance upon receiving the message was so satisfying.

"The love of money is the root of all evil."

The light from the computer screen reflected on Dalton's glasses as he leaned back. His smirk widened as he caught a glimpse of the man leaning against the back wall.

"Do you think that is what this is about? Money?" he purred. Half-turning in the swivel chair, he watched as the other gave a slight shrug.

"No. You could care less about the money." Mako-infused eyes studied the broad man, their apparent indifference never changing. "You want something more. Not even power, exactly---at least, not to rule the world. You want revenge on Sephiroth." A pause. "And you're seeking the Promised Land. You desire the gift of the Goddess. Such a contradictory combination."

A quiet chuckle. "Such a way you do have with words, Mr. Rhapsodos," Dalton said. "How did you get in, anyway? It's after hours."

"The window at the end of the hall is still loose. I flew up to it and pried it open." The large, dark wing was half-resting against the wall, blocking all entrance into the room.

"Of course." Dalton nodded, not surprised at all. "What will Azazel do if he comes up and finds he can't get in?" This was spoken in a mild tone, as he gave a half-shrug and a gesture with one arm.

"He can listen." Now the warning tone was coming into the intruder's voice. "I see that your hatred for Sephiroth and his friends is still strong."

"What of it?" Dalton glanced back at the screen.

"I will be watching you. If you try to harm them again, you will have to go through me first."

"Oh really." A mocking smirk made its way across Dalton's face. "So you're their guardian angel now? Or maybe an angel with a crooked halo would be a better description."


"What would Sephiroth say if he knew?"

"He might not believe it. But you won't tell him."

Dalton was more amused than anything else. "Oh? And why not?"

"It would upset your fun."

A laugh began in the cruel man's throat. "Mr. Rhapsodos, you know me too well," he declared. "You've intrigued me ever since we met in South America."

"How strange," Genesis commented. "I am Sephiroth's prototype."

"Yes," Dalton agreed, studying Sephiroth's email. "I know."