Characters belong to SquareEnix, I just took them out to play.

000

Angeal grinned a little as his apprentice Zack Fair came into the training room, eager to begin the day

Commander Angeal Hewley grinned a little as his apprentice Zack Fair came into the training room, eager to begin the day. However it was not Zack's enthusiasm alone that conjured the half smile from the 1st class soldier. He had a surprise for his young protégé for all his hard work.

"Zack, I have a mission for you," Angeal said, holding out a video diskette. "I want you to personally deliver this to General Sephiroth."

Angeal's grin broadened a little when he saw Zack's jaw drop. This would be the young soldier's first time meeting the general face to face alone, beyond just Sephiroth passing by or a short formal greeting.

"If he's in his office you may talk to him," Angeal explained. "However, if he is not there, put the disk on his desk and leave. I'll see that you get to meet him some other time, got it?"

Zack nodded vigorously and then quickly made for the door.

"Zack!"

The blue-eyed SOLDIER stopped in the door and looked back at Angeal quizzically.

Angeal leveled Zack with a stern gaze. "When you're in his office don't…touch… anything!"

Zack gulped and nodded before exiting the room.

Once he was out of Angeal's sight, the young second class SOLDIER dashed through the ShinRa complex, his heart pounding with excitement. There were so many questions he wanted to ask the general, his idol, his hero.

Zack stopped in front of two large metal doors. He took a deep breath before placing his hand on the scanner. The door opened to reveal another office. A secretary was sitting at a desk in front of another large door.

"Hey there, I'm here to deliver this to General Sephiroth from Commander Hewley," Zack said holding up the disk.

"I can give it to him," the secretary reached out for the disk, but Zack pulled it away.

"Sorry, but Hewley ordered me to deliver it personally." Zack said cheerfully.

The secretary sighed exasperatedly, but pressed a button that opened the large doors behind her. The doors opened to a long hallway with President ShinRa's office at the end of it. Flanking the president's door on either side were the offices of Executive Manager Lazard and General Sephiroth.

Unlike the other doors, Sephiroth's was a normal one with a knob and hinges. Zack took a deep breath before knocking. However, it seemed the door had not been shut properly, for when Zack fist touched the door, it opened.

Zack peeked in before entering completely. To his disappointment, Sephiroth was not there. The young lieutenant let out a mournful sigh as he set the disk down on the general's desk. He remembered well what Angeal had said to him and was about to obey it when something shiny caught his eye.

He looked up and saw the general's signature leather coat hanging in the far corner of the room.
Zack slowly made his way over to the coat, drawn to it as if it were a giant magnet. Even though he knew he shouldn't, the star struck SOLDIER removed the glove on his right hand and gently ran his uncovered hand down the length of the coat. He felt a pleasurable shiver run down his spine as his hand caressed the cool leather. He simply couldn't resist. This was something the general wore. Sephiroth's hair and skin had touched it and in touching the coat, it was almost like touching the general himself.

On impulse, Zack lifted part of the coat to his nose and inhaled. The scent of Sephiroth was a mixture of leather, masculine musk, and candied cherries? He'd heard the whispers of Sephiroth's not-so-secret sweet tooth, but he didn't actually believe it until now.

Loud voices coming down the hall broke Zack out of his reverie. He scrambled over to the front of the desk and stood at attention just as the door opened. Sephiroth stepped into the room, followed closely by Rufus ShinRa. The two men stared at Zack expecting an explanation for the young SOLDIER's presence in a rather restricted area such as this.

Zack's instincts took over his fear and he saluted formally. "General Sephiroth Sir, Lieutenant Zack Fair, Second class reporting."

"At ease," Sephiroth said calmly, leveling Zack with his usual cold glare. "What are you doing in these quarters?"

"Sir, Commander Angeal Hewley sent me to deliver a video disk to you personally. I have done so; I was just about to leave." Zack explained automatically.

"Very well, dismissed," Sephiroth said with a nod.

Zack saluted again and quickly made his way out of the room. As soon as he was out the door, he mentally kicked himself, for letting his nerves and awe of being in the general's presence get to him. There was so much he wanted to ask the general, but he had blown his chance. He sighed and wandered sadly back to the training room.

After his meeting with Rufus, Sephiroth placed the videodisk the young Soldier had deliver into the player, grabbed a handful of candied cherries from the bowl on his desk and settled back in his chair to watch the video.

To his slight surprise, the raven haired SOLDIER who had delivered the disk appeared on screen and gave the camera two thumbs up. "Yo, yo, yo!" he greeted the camera cheerfully.

The general chuckled softly. Not at Zack, but at the expression of Angeal in the background. To anyone else, Angeal would have seemed like his usual self, but Sephiroth recognized that the slight change in body posture, elongated blink of the eye, and a soft shake of the head indicated some amusement at Zack's manor. This change of expression piqued Sephiroth's interest even more. Normally, Angeal would not have tolerated such informal behavior, but he seemed to with Zack.

However, it wasn't long before the general saw why Angeal had taken the young SOLDIER on. There was no doubting Zack's talent, the young man was swift and strong, quite powerful for his age. There was plenty of raw talent to work with and mold into a great SOLDIER.

Sephiroth smirked as he got up from his chair and walked over to his military coat. He decided he was going to pay Angeal and his protégé a little visit.

However, just as he slipped off the kimono style top he'd been wearing and put on his coat, he noticed a black glove lying on the floor. At first, he thought it was his own, but both of his gloves were in his coat pocket. Someone had been in his office while he was gone. His first thought of course went to the young Zack Fair who had been there earlier to deliver the disk, but the young SOLDIER had been in front of his desk, so what would his glove be doing across the room...?

000

"All right Zack, that's enough for today," Angeal sheathed his sword.

"Tell me something, Angeal," Zack grumbled as he got up from his place on the floor. "Do you take some sick pleasure from knocking me down on my ass?"

Angeal let out a soft chuckle. "Not exactly, I--"

"He only takes pleasure in knocking down people who annoy him."

Zack and Angeal turned to see Sephiroth walking toward them. Zack gulped both at the general's magnificence now he was dressed back in full regalia again, but also at the reason for Sephiroth's sudden presence. Did the general find out he had touched the coat and was offended? Had he come down here to tell Angeal and have him kick Zack out of SOLDIER?

"Quite right," Angeal responded to Sephiroth's former comment with a slight grin. "What brings you here, General?"

"Dispense with the formality Angeal," Sephiroth looked over at Zack who was still standing dumbfounded and frozen to his spot. "I don't think we're going to need it much in front of him after today."

"I take it you were impressed?" Angeal smirked.

Sephiroth looked back at Angeal and nodded, "I was."

Zack gawked. He couldn't believe this was happening. Not only did the person Angeal had sent the video they'd made to turn out to be Sephiroth himself, but the general had been impressed by what he had seen.

"But that's not the only reason I came here." Sephiroth turned his attention back to Zack and took a few steps toward him. "I have something that belongs to you."

Zack nearly choked on his heart when it leapt into his throat, as Sephiroth pulled out a black glove from his coat pocket. Zack's glove. The glove he had taken off to touch the general's coat. Any swelling pride Zack might have felt before deflated into terror.

"Just a piece of advice," Sephiroth idly tossed the glove toward Zack, who scrambled to catch it after being caught off guard in his shocked stupor. "Keep your hands to yourself."

Angeal looked over at Zack with a raised eyebrow and a "What did you do now?" look on his face. However, Sephiroth waved a hand and shook his head at his friend, silently indicating that the matter was closed. Angeal nodded before finally speaking to Zack. "Time for dinner Zack."

Zack nodded and jogged toward the exit, eager to get out from under the older SOLDIERs' scrutiny before he cracked.

"All right, what did he do?" Angeal asked after Zack left, an amused expression on his face. If Sephiroth was not bothered by whatever Zack had done, then it couldn't have been too bad. "I'm curious."

"According to the security camera, he couldn't resist the urge to touch my coat." Sephiroth answered with a slightly amused smile.

Angeal rolled his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Zack..."

"Better than most of my worshippers who manage to worm their way into my office." Sephiroth shrugged. "At least he didn't take anything. He has nerve, but the good sense and respect not to go to far. I like that."

"Good to hear," Angeal smiled, then turned serious as another thought occurred to him. "There's just one more person whose approval I need to get for Zack to be in our inner circle."

"Indeed, it's going to be an interesting challenge," Sephiroth said thoughtfully.

The two men sighed, uttering the name of the man they were talking about. "Genesis..."

000

In the next chapter Angeal attempts to introduce Zack properly to his friend Genesis Rhapsodos, but things don't go as smoothly as planned...