Inured.

He leant against the ornate pillar, drifting slowly into sleep.

Unfortunately, he was impeded by his hair.

In leaning against the pillar, he had trapped the ends of his hair between his ass and the marble, meaning that as his head lolled forwards as the bone-tiredness that came from weeks on the campaign trail claimed him, the action would invariably pull on his ivory tresses, jolting him back to consciousness.

It was all for the best, probably. The delegations would be arriving soon, and he needed to be awake for that. Lord Godo would probably take it as a sign of disrespect if he were found napping, and Sephiroth did not want to present that image to the man. It would sour the talks.

After the dramatic conclusion to the Shin-Ra/Wutai War, Sephiroth's forces had been given leave in the city. Several of the officers had gone drinking, and had invited their General to join them.

He had, of course, politely refused. And so, without a social life to call his own, he had planted himself in this corridor, and settled down to wait.

"Hello."

He looked down with mild interest to see a tiny girl staring up at him with overlarge grey eyes.

"And who would you be?"

"Yuffie," she says, with all the solemnity of a six year old, and although she slurs her name, he can still easily recognise it. Yu Fi. Yu Fi Kisaragi, heir apparent to the throne of Wutai. At least until she had a brother.

That thought felt…wrong…somehow, and it wasn't for another moment until he realised why the idea of siblings for Yu Fi was impossible.

He stared down into those silent eyes.

I killed this child's mother.

--

It was the last throw of the dice, and Wutai knew it. The last throw, and Shin-Ra had thrown first, and thrown a twelve.

The Five Mighty Gods were dead, dying, or, in the case of Lord Godo, incapacitated. The defence of his city was being marshalled by his wife.

The guns of Shin-Ra spoke, tearing through the Wutai warriors with the horrendous ease that Sephiroth had grown accustomed to observing throughout the war. He felt nothing as he observed it now, other than a craftsman's pride at a job well done juxtaposed with a lingering regret that so many fine soldiers were being massacred through sheer hubris on the part of their commanders. If the generals of Wutai had been more open to flexibility, to the idea of intuition, then…

Then it would certainly have been a more interesting campaign.

As he plunged through the melee, his SOLDIERs at his back, he mused on the point that he had stumbled across with that last train of thought. If this had been a genuinely challenging campaign, if some Wutai lord had proven to be Sephiroth's equal, if Sephiroth had found his abilities as a general actually challenged at any point, if he had lost battles, lost men, lost the initiative; if the war had dragged on for months and months and months while Sephiroth and his opponent slogged out their epic duel across the landscape, and after centuries of toil, Sephiroth had prevailed through luck and timing and raw talent, then would he be hailed as a mighty warrior?

He pondered for a few moments. The Masamune flicked out, slicing a man's belly open. As he tumbled to the ground, his innards falling into his hands, Sephiroth decapitated him without a downward glance, and ran on to the next man in his way.

No, he decided. He would not be proclaimed as a hero. He would be lambasted for wasting Company time.

Whereas medals beckoned for all involved in this walk in the park, he thought idly as he ducked beneath a swing, grabbed the man's sword by the blade, and ran it through a soldier behind him.

Suddenly his Mako-enhanced eyes picked up a flash of glowing red, and he saw a desperate rearguard huddled in the main gates. But that wasn't what had caught his eye. What he had seen was a finely-dressed woman raising a glowing red orb heavenwards, her lips curling around a spell. Or a prayer.

Red materia. In Wutai. This was decidedly not good.

He dashed forwards, stepping on the carcass of a chocobo, and leapt high into the air, bringing his sword down at an angle before him. As he landed, the blade punctured the woman's heart with a snick. Satisfied, he retrieved the materia, and began to mop up the resistance.

--

I killed this child's mother. She will grow up with only a ghost of a memory to comfort her when she cries, will grow up to inherit a weak and broken city-state, and I know, because I have seen the treaty Shin-Ra want, and Shin-Ra always gets what it wants. She will become a slave to her country. I have effectively destroyed her life before it really began.

As he forced himself to keep eye contact, he idly realised that now was the point where he should start to feel guilty.

He didn't. He didn't feel anything.

He thought guilty, that couldn't be doubted. He knew that this situation called for remorse, so he thought remorseful thoughts. They just weren't backed up by anything.

It was odd, to be in complete emotional control in a situation like this. Sephiroth was not sure he liked it.

"…You've got nice hair." Yu Fi observed, aprops of nothing.

"Thank you." He inclined his head at the compliment.

"S'too long, tho'. Can't be a ninja with that much hair. It'd get caught in stuff."

"But I am not a ninja."

She glared up at him. "No. You ent."

After a while, she spoke again. "I got new shoes."

"Really?" he replied, humouring her to the best of his ability.

"Yup. They're good for climbin' on stuff an' stuff." She scowled. "'Course, I ain't been allowed to go outside for a while now. Not even to Da Chao."

Sephiroth wasn't sure that his input was required here, so he said nothing. His eyes flicked to a mess of suits moving down the corridor in a congealed mass towards him.

As the tide was bout to strike him, he looked down at the small girl, who was completely ignoring him. "Goodbye, Yu Fi Kisaragi. It has ben a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"'Bye," She replied brusquely.

He allowed himself to be swept away in the wave of civil servants, and dismissed the grey-eyed child from his thoughts, turning his mind to infinitely more important things.