Disclaimer: Everyone except for Lt. Anton Tempest, Lt. General Colt Winchester, Sargeant Ozzie Hendrix, and Dr. Brett Harley, Dr. Sanjay Sushutra and Dr. Jace Raker, belong to Square Enix. I just brought them out to play.

000

Angeal's face winced in pain and let out a soft groan when he sat up. "Morphine, I miss you already."

"Anything I can get for you? Uh, besides the morphine?" Zack jumped to his feet ready to get anything Angeal needed.

Angeal shook his head. "Sorry you had to see that."

"See what?" Zack looked at him being quizzically.

"Me being such weakling." Angeal gave him tired smirk.

"Dude! You nearly died!" Zack blurted out, then quieted down. "That's not being a wuss… uh, sir."

Angeal smiled and patted the top Zack's head. "Thank you Zack. You know you don't have to keep sitting here if you don't want to. I'm much better now."

"But don't you want me to stay?" Zack asked, looking hopeful.

"I'm saying you don't have to, you've gone above and beyond your duty as my student already." Angeal said calmly.

Zack deflated a little. Drugged up Angeal had actually said right out that he wanted him to stay and even said he missed him when he stepped out for a breath of air. Now the old Angeal was back, being as polite and dutiful as ever, and still regarding Zack as his puppy.

"I'd rather stay," Zack said softly. "Just to make sure they're treating you right."

Angeal chuckled. "I appreciate the concern, but I know these medics and they're pretty good at catering to your needs. But I do appreciate the concern, plus all this sitting will make you overly hyper when we get back to Midgar. I think it would be good for you to go out and stretch your legs a bit."

Zack opened his mouth to protest, but before he could, another voice interrupted them.

"Well, well, well, look whose lazy ass is lying around here."

A man Zack had only seen in passing around the ShinRa compound and in pictures, strode into the room. By his black uniform and even just the way he carried himself you could tell he was a first class SOLDIER. He had sandy blonde hair pulled back into a knot, and the facial hair on his face had skillfully been shaved into tiger stripes, and with an accent that practically screamed the Rocket Town area. Judging by the black explosives box on the magnetic sheath on his back and guns at his sides, this man's specialty lay in firearms rather than the sword.

Zack would have wondered who this man was if he had not been so offended by his words. How dare he accuse Angeal of being lazy, Angeal was injured badly for Gaia's sake. However, what caught Zack off guard was Angeal's soft chuckle.

Angeal wasn't offended at all. Quite the opposite, he seemed downright amused.

"I'm sorry Colt, I'm afraid having a temple fall on top of me turned me into a couch potato." Angeal said dryly. "Though for all your rough talk, the word on the street is you were the first one to rush in and dig me out."

Colt turned his nose up. "Well maybe I did, and maybe I didn't. Why would I wanna break my back savin' your ass Angelface?"

Angeal only smiled back. "Thanks for caring anyway, Filley."

Colt shrugged then grinned. "Yeah well, ya know I can't leave a comrade hangin'"

It was then Colt's eyes flitted over and looked questioningly at Zack.

"Oh, I'm sorry Zack," Angeal said realizing Colt was one of his few friends that had yet to meet Zack in person. "Zack this is Lieutenant General Colt Winchester, expert in munitions and explosives. Filley, this is my student, Zack Fair Third class."

Colt's eyes seemed to light up with recognition. "Is this the puppy?"

Angeal nodded.

"Aw, he's cute," Colt teased, ruffling Zack's hair like a real puppy.

Zack mentally rolled his eyes as the information that his cutesy nickname had preceded him, but the irritation melted away when he saw Angeal actually laughing. Well if it brought a smile to Angeal's face, he would put up with the slight.

"Nice ta' meet ya' kid," Colt greeted him formally now with a handshake. "Would ya mind steppin' outside for a bit, I gotta talk to your mentor about somethin'."

When Zack looked hesitant, Colt continued with the explanation. "Heh, a faithful puppy at that. Just for ten minutes I need to talk about another SOLDIER officer, and it wouldn't be right to talk about him in front of ya' since you ain't a commanding officer yet."

"Go on Zack," Angeal prompted turning more serious, but still soft. "This would be a good opportunity to do the leg stretching I was talking about. You can come back whenever you are ready ten minutes or more."

Zack finally nodded and got up, slowly moving around the curtain. Both commanders listened to Zack's footsteps, making sure he was well out of earshot before continuing.

"What's this about Colt?" Angeal asked, turning serious.

"Well, ya' ain't gonna like this Angeal, but…" Colt hesitated, but decided in the end to just spit it out. "Colonel Belial's back under my command again."

"What?!" Angeal stiffened and sat up a little straighter, which made him wince as his recovering body responded badly to the new movement.

"Whoa easy there," Colt took him by the shoulders to steady him. "Look, we can talk about this later, if you're not up too—"

"What do you mean BELIAL is back here?" Angeal cut him off quickly swallowing the pain with his anger. "And on duty?! He's already proven himself untrustworthy!"

"Look he had a nervous breakdown and he was sent to psychiatric rehab for it after you indicted him," Colt spoke as calmly as he could in an effort to cool Angeal's temper, though it was clear he was not wild about the situation either. "It cost him a promotion and a lot of other stuff. They gave him a clean bill of health."

Angeal let out a harsh breath and pinched the bridge of his nose. Despite their past rivalry and their constant ribbing of each other, Angeal knew Colt shared many of the same values of honor that he did, so there must be a reason behind all this. "You're that desperate aren't you?"

Colt sat back in the chair formerly occupied by Zack and folded his arms over his chest pensively. "Afraid so. Explosives experts with five years of experience don't grow on trees, ya know. Tempest is good at it, but it isn't his specialty and Colin Moray is getting better, but he's still got a ways to go yet and he had a set back with his pelvis injury, he's still rehabbing it."

Angeal let out groan as he rubbed his temples, now he was really missing the morphine. "It's your unit your command, I won't intrude. I know, you don't want this either, you're already going to have a hell of a time keeping him and your Lieutenant Tempest away from each other."

"Yeah…" Winchester grumbled, joining Angeal in the temple rubbing. "Just thought I'd give you a heads up."

"But mark one thing well," Angeal grabbed the front of Winchester's shirt to show he was serious. "I don't want that psychotic within 10 feet of Zack!"

"All right, I hear ya'" Colt pried Angeal's fingers off his shirt. "I promise I'll have my eye on him. Though I can only do so much. Zack's gotta meet me halfway. It's pretty well known your puppy tends to wander into places where he ain't supposed to be."

Angeal's face went blank for a moment. "What do you mean?"

Colt chuckled, "Well for example, your puppy tagging along with Tempest on his distraction mission to get your ass to the medical camp safely. You didn't know that? Guess the camp gossip hasn't reached the interior of the infirmary yet. Your puppy and Tempest are the talk of the town. First the night distraction and then the Ifrit."

"I heard about Ifrits attacking the camp, but I did not know Zack was involved." Angeal said coolly, though Colt, still puffed up with pride at his gunner Tempest's accomplishment did not notice.

"I tell ya' those kids have got balls, your puppy drove right under the Ifrit to draw it away from the infirmary, and then Tempest hits the perfect shot for the kill." He grinned somewhat wistfully. "Boy, does me proud."

"I see." Angeal said shortly.

"Yup. You'd have been proud of your puppy," Colt grinned.

"I am always proud of him," Angeal stated plainly.

"Yeah, cute kid, hope it lasts," Colt said with a slightly mournful sigh.

"I intend to see that it does as long as possible." Angeal said stoically, more to himself than Colt.

"Yeah, but ya' gotta let him grow up sometime," Colt said casually. "Otherwise he won't be ready for the 'real world' when he reaches second class or first."

"Yes," Angeal said softly looking away.

After a pause Winchester finally stood up, "Well I better go get some sleep while I can. Sephiroth and Rhapsodos are back on the field. I just wanted to stop by and check-up on ya."

"I appreciate it. And thanks for digging me out, Filley." Angeal looked back at him with a small smile.

"Meh. Anytime Angelface." Colt waved if off casually, with a smile of his own, before exiting the space.

Angeal watched him go, before frowning. His mind turned back to what Colt had said about Zack fighting that Ifrit. He was not pleased. How irresponsible of that lieutenant to put Zack, a third class SOLDIER in such danger.

He was definitely going to have a talk with that Lieutenant Tempest.

000

Zack wondered aimlessly around the small town, at least now that they had been moved from the encampment to Pachua there was a little bit more to see, but still when he was not by Angeal he felt a little lost. He didn't know anybody besides the generals and Tempest and Ozzie and he didn't see any of them around.

He sat down near the mess hall to think over a few things, nobody paid him any mind, too busy going about their duties or enjoying their free time.

Zack wasn't sure what to do. Should he tell Angeal how he felt, or hang on to those feelings and wait to see if Angeal felt the same? And if Angeal didn't feel the same should he try to win him over? And worst of all what if he admitted his feelings or made advances and Angeal was disgusted by it and sent him away.

Zack let out a sigh, was it worth the risk?

"Hey Zackaroo!"

Zack's head snapped up to look into the smiling face of Ozzie Hendrix.

"Hey finally a familiar face," Zack smiled back.

"So what're you doing out here? I thought you were General Hewley's personal guard puppy." Ozzie winked at him, which cause Zack's cheeks to pinken ever so slightly.

"Well Lt. General Winchester wanted to talk to Ang – General Hewley, so I kind of got kicked out," Zack grumbled. "For the third time."

"Huh, so that's where the mighty gunslinger went," Ozzie said thoughtfully, then focused back to Zack. "Why so glum chum? Thought you'd be happy to get out and running around."

Angeal immediately popped into Zack's mind, but the younger shrugged and tried to make it look casual. "Well Angeal asked me to stick nearby so..."

"Oh, I gotcha, he wants you to come back and keep him company when he's done eh?" Ozzie winked at him.

Zack forced himself not to blush. He knew Ozzie was just joking, but it did sent send a jolt through him nonetheless. With himself still so conflicted about sharing his feelings with Angeal, he didn't want anyone else knowing about it. "Something like that," He answered automatically, but decided to switch topics. "So what are you up to Oz – er Sergeant?"

"Make it Ozzie or Oz for right now, we're on break," Ozzie sat down next to Zack, folded his arms behind his head, and leaned against the wall. "I just got something to eat. Anton's off bossing people around to keep the area around the temple secure while the clean-up crew takes care of the mess the temple was left in."

Zack smiled despite the fact he was trying hard not think about the building that had nearly crushed the life out of Angeal. "Food is good."

"Yeah, you should pop in there and get something while you can," Ozzie motioned to the building behind them."

As if on cue from Ozzie, Zack's stomach rumbled. It was then he realized he had forgotten to eat that morning. He had meant to, but then the doctors came in to draw some blood from Angeal and Zack felt he shouldn't leave his mentor alone right then.

"That's a good idea," Zack grinned getting up and heading into the building.

Ozzie watched Zack go, before getting up himself to return to duty. It was then he spotted Anton walking by.

"Hey Anton! What'cha doining down here? Got tired ordering people around?" Ozzie teased walking over to him.

"Haha," Anton said dryly, but there was a hint of worry in his eyes. "I got a call. General Hewley wants to see me about something."

"What?" Ozzie quirked an eyebrow.

Tempest put the side of his hand against his throat in the beheading gesture. Ozzie's eyes went wide as saucers. "He knows?"

"I think so," Anton said softly.

Ozzie put his hand over his heart and began humming the funeral march.

Anton rolled his eyes, but still looked amused. "Shut up. I'll be all right."

The young lieutenant walked a few more steps toward the medical wing before turning around. "Hey Oz, you wouldn't happen to have any spare earplugs would you?"

000

"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!"

Yes, Anton really wished Ozzie had had those spare earplugs. He couldn't be sure, but he would swear one of his eardrums was busted. He only thanked Gaia that General Hewley still had not been cleared to walk yet.

He remained silent as Angeal took in a deep breath and blew it out, calming himself before speaking again. His voice was calm, but low and stern with his face looking as if it had been etched out of steel. "Lt. I would like an explanation, now."

"Explanation sir?" Anton was pretty sure what Angeal was demanding, but he was hoping for a question that was a little more specific, so he could answer well and hopefully not get his head cleaved from his shoulders by the buster sword.

"WHY?" Angeal gritted his teeth, once again trying to control his voice, determined not to have it heard by the entire medical ward. "Why was Fair, under supposedly light duty, running around in the jungle, crawling with potential enemy troops and fighting Ifrits with you?!"

"It's uh," Anton began, trying to keep eye contact with the general, but felt like his brain was frying every time he met Angeal's intense gaze. "It's kind of a long story sir."

"Well, you're stuck here until you are finished," Angeal folded his arms over his over his chest indicating there was no room for argument. "So I suggest you get started."

"Well it started when I was getting prepped for the distraction mission to ensure safe passage for the convoy carrying you." Tempest started, keeping his voice even as if he were giving a formal status report. "Zack came over and he already knew about you being wounded. How he found that out I do not know, but asked if he could come with me to help. At the time night was falling so I could not see the light duty stamp on his wrist."

Angeal softened just a fraction at the knowledge that Lieutenant Tempest had not flagrantly disregarded Zack's light duty status, he had just not known about it at all and with the distraction of prepping for a mission, it was not the appropriate time to ask around and find out. "Go on Lieutenant."

"I refused him of course, where I was going was no place for him, but…" Anton continued, looking almost embarrassed. "But… His eyes…"

Angeal let out a soft groan, he knew exactly the look Anton was talking about. "Oh Zack......... Let me guess." He said dryly. "He looked like a kicked puppy."

"Yes he did, very much like a kicked puppy," Anton smiled a little fondly. "But it wasn't just that. I saw a great determination in his eyes. I saw he was going to go and try to help you with or without me. I figured if he went with me at least I could keep an eye on him."

Angeal nodded and rubbed his temples as he took it all in. He couldn't blame Tempest for going with Zack on that, stronger SOLDIERs had given in to those eyes before. "All right, I'll give you that. But the Ifrits. What in all of Gaia, were you thinking putting him on that motorbike and going up against Ifrits? We don't even put Thirds up against Ifrits in VR training much less in real life."

"Sir I assure you this was a military decision I had to act fast," Anton answered a bit more defensively than before. "The ifrit was in attack range of the surgery unit. Zack was the closest person and had already proved his courage and skill the previous night and had previous skill with a motorbike."

Angeal took a deep shuttering breath, he had to keep calm, and he could not let the soreness from his wounds or his personal worry for Zack get the best of him. "If there was enough time to come up with the plan you did, then there was enough time to find someone more..." Angeal paused as he suddenly found it hard to find a reason not to choose Zack in the situation. Zack was brave, quick adapt, and very intelligent when his concentration and focus were set. But eventually he did settle on something Zack was not.

"…experienced." Angeal finished.

"Sir, I know it was a risk choosing a SOLDIER so young in his career, but having worked alongside you, I assumed Zack would have had more experience in battle and skills than the average Third Class SOLDIER," Anton explained, and surprisingly as he continued a small prideful smile crossed his face. "Also I was aware he fended off a behemoth to protect General Rhapsodos. And I thought with the two of us working together we could take on and take out an ifrit. And as I said before time was of the essence. By the time I searched for some one more seasoned, fearless, and had experience with a motorbike, the Ifrit might have attacked the surgery center."

All the while Tempest talked Angeal felt the tension in his body slowly release. It all seemed so logical. Zack indeed was the logical choice in that particular situation. So why was a part of him still so upset? "Ridiculous…" He muttered under his breath.

"Sir?" Anton asked not quite catching what Angeal mumbled.

"Nothing," Angeal murmured, then straightened a little and addressed Tempest more formally. "That is all you may go Lieutenant."

"Sir if I have offended you I—" Anton began but Angeal cut him off.

"No, the choices you made were thought out and logical ones at the time you made them, that is what I wanted to be sure of." Angeal answered coolly. "Good job."

"Thank you, sir." Tempest saluted before exiting, breathing a soft sigh of relief.

Once Tempest was gone Angeal sighed and slumped back onto his bed, trying to figure out what to do with his protégé...

Zack always seemed to bite of more than he could chew, he would have to teach him the difference between being willing to take on a challenge and just being plain reckless. And yet at the same time Angeal was practically bursting with pride. A third class and he was already taking on Ifrits and performing well on a stealth mission.

His train of thought was once again broken when Dr. Sushutra walked into the area with a… camera?

"Angeal would you mind doing a favor for one of your favorite surgeons?" the young surgeon grinned.

Angeal raised an eyebrow looking weary. "What's the favor?"

"Well there's a plastic surgeons summit this spring, and those intercity beauty surgeons look down on us military doctors, they call us sloppy butchers," Sushutra scoffed. "Just because we have to work fast and hard. I'd love to show some those snobs my recent handiwork."

"What does that have to do with me?" Angeal asked warily.

"Your face." Sushutra answered simply.

Angeal's blinked a few times his mind immediately flashing to Zack and his buddies and how they'd yell that sometimes to make fun of each other. "Excuse me?"

"My skin graft work and the sealing." Sushtra explained further smiling proudly. "Except for the slight discoloration you can't tell that your face had second and third degree burns. So these would sort of be the 'after' pictures."

Angeal let his words sink in for a moment before shrugging. "Alright, I do owe you for the impeccable job."

Sushutra grinned and began snapping photos right and left and all different angles, while Angeal sighed and put up with it. At his station and reputation in SOLDIER having his picture taken was an everyday occurrence back in Midgar. In fact, Genesis had coached him on how to find where the best lighting was and how to turn his face to catch it just right. He hadn't really listened at the time, but apparently his mind had unconsciously absorbed the information. For as Sushutra snapped shots, Angeal's head seemed to tilt of its own accord to catch the light just right depending on the angle Sushutra was shooting from.

Just then, Harley entered the area followed by trauma surgeon Raker and rolled his eyes. "Oh Gaia Sanjay, leave the poor guy alone."

"It's fine Harley, I gave him permission." Angeal said tilting head up a little as Sushutra went for a lower angle.

"That's nice of you, letting Sanjay bask in his greatest surgery since the nose incident." Raker smirked.

Sanjay stuck out his tongue at Raker, in a manner that reminded Angeal a great deal of Genesis replying to one of Sephiroth's subtle jibes when he was too tired to think of a smart comeback.

Coincidently at that exact moment, Sephiroth walked into the area. Seeing the sight of the three surgeons standing there with one of them taking pictures, he couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. "Impromptu ShinRa promotion?"

"Nah… Sushutra's just basking in the glory of his surgery skills," Harley said.

"Long time no see. How have you been Sephiroth? Leg doing all right?" Raker asked his warrior counter-part. "No more impaling I hope."

"Quite. A testament to your skill." Sephiroth said firmly. "I thank you for saving it those years ago. Now when you are finished, I should like to speak to General Hewley."

"We're finished." Harley replied grabbing Sushutra by the arm and dragging him out of the area.

Raker chuckled softly before following them out.

After the three surgeons departed, Angeal turned back to Sephiroth. "All right Snowball, I'm all yours."

"Well firstly, within the next few days we'll be moving some of the wounded out to be transported back to the ShinRa compound for further recovery, including you." Sephiroth said formally.

"Seph I assure you, in a few more days, I'll—" Angeal began to protest, but was cut off.

"You will be in the ShinRa compound continuing your recovery. That is my final order." Sephiroth said firmly in his "I am the General, you are my subordinate, even if you are my friend do not question me," voice.

Angeal let out a soft groan and slowly nodded. He was too tired to argue anyway.

"I want to talk to you about your student Zack Fair." Sephiroth said moving over to the bedside and sitting down.

Angeal frowned, given the recent events he had to resist the urge to say "what has he done now?"

"What about Zack?"

"From what have observed and heard about Zack these last few days I would recommend him to be put into the advanced program to second class." Sephiroth sad formally.

Angeal's face went blank and his eyes widened slightly. Part of him swelled with pride that no one less than Sephiroth had recommended his student to be advanced quickly through the program, and yet a small part of him wanted to protest, saying Zack was too young, too naïve, too kind to be pushed into the higher ranks and thusly into more danger and responsibility so quickly.

But taking in mind what Tempest had said, who was he to hold Zack back from such achievements. After all, only two people had ever been singled out personally by Sephiroth himself before for quick advancement. One of them being Angeal himself. So who was he to question Sephiroth?

At Angeal's silence Sephiroth added. "It merely a recommendation. You have the final decision on this since you know him so much better."

"I'll have to talk to him first." Angeal said. "But I think... you're right. He's getting beyond needing a mentor…"

Sephiroth tilted his head looking almost curiously at Angeal's sudden change in demeanor. He opened his mouth to ask about it, but decided Angeal might not have intended to show these feelings and let it slide. "Just let me know what you intend to do, I'll make the arrangements. Though make it soon this term of the advanced program begins in two weeks."

Angel nodded. "I'll talk to him as soon as Zack gets back. I'm sure he'll be overjoyed. Especially since the Legend recommended it."

"Perhaps, but I think he will be more honored to know that his mentor approves as well." Sephiroth offered a faint smile.

Angeal opened his mouth to ask the general what he meant by that, but was cut off when the subject of their conversation entered the area.

"Angeal can I come back --- oh," Zack stopped in his tracks when he saw Sephiroth.

"I was just leaving," Sephiroth said getting up. "Your mentor has something to discuss with you." He turned and gave Angeal a rough pat on the shoulder. "Get well soon my friend."

And with a quick turn on his heel he elegantly brushed past Zack and exited the area.

Angeal's lips twitch a little as his gaze shifts from Sephiroth's retreating form to Zack. "Have a seat pup. Need to talk to you for a moment."

Zack immediately occupied the chair he had sat in before. "What's up Angeal?"

"Zack have you heard about the advanced placement program that will promote you to second class in six months instead of a year or two?" Angeal asked.

"Yeah?" Zack answered brightening up a bit, he quickly caught on to the hint Angeal was trying to make.

"Sephiroth and I were discussing whether or not you would be a good candidate for it," Angeal continued putting his best stern teacher voice on. "And I understand that while I was out, your exploits were a sight to see."

Zack's face fell and he sunk down a little in his chair looking like a puppy that got caught marking his territory on the TV.

"It's all right puppy. I'm not mad, though I would like to AGAIN, remind you that using the puppy pout against a superior officer is not okay, as it is a FAR too unfair advantage." Angeal softened his voice and offered his student a small smile. "However, you also showed qualities SOLDIER is looking for in abundance. Quick wit, great courage under fire, and a 'never-say-die' attitude."

Zack's head snapped up and almost immediately brightened up again at the compliment from his mentor. "Really?"

"Most definitely," Angeal nodded. "As such, Seph feels you're ready to enter into the next phase... which means the advanced program. What do you think of that Pup?"

Zack's jaw nearly dropped out of his mouth with shock. "Sephiroth said that?"

"He said as much when he asked me about putting you in the program," Angeal confirmed and in a slightly firmer voice asked. "So pup, are you up to the challenge?"

Zack jumped out of his seat. "Hell yeah!" But quickly he came down from his high and suddenly looked a little worried. "Do you think I'm ready?"

Angeal was a little surprised usually Zack was so confident and headstrong into any challenge. "It doesn't matter what I think, you know yourself best."

"I know, but I would like to know what you think." Zack smiled, though there was something almost pleading in his eyes.

"Yes, Zack I think you are." Angeal answered him honestly.

And just like that all of the uncertainty in Zack's eyes was gone and the joy returned. "Then I know I can do it!"

Angeal couldn't keep the fond smile from crossing his face at seeing his rambunctious student doing a little victory dance.

"I'm gonna be a second, I'm gonna be a second. Go me, go me!" Zack sang swing his arms and hips around, but suddenly he stopped. "Dude! I gotta go tell Ozzie! I'll be right back." He called, dashing out of the infirmary.

Angeal guffawed, always tickled at his puppy's antics. He was so proud, and yet the sadness kept creeping into his heart. The advanced program was only six months long, and after that, Zack would be leaving his tutelage, leaving him. It hadn't truly hit him before, of course he always knew in the back of his mind that it would end some time, but now it was so soon. Only six months left with his puppy, his student, his… Zack

Once a young SOLDIER had crossed over into second class, he could choose whether or not to stay with his mentor. Most likely, such a free spirit like Zack would want to break the chains of student and teacher, and strike out for his own fame. It made Angeal's heart sink a little at the thought of not seeing that face smiling at him everyday. Not having Zack's energetic vibe infusing him with a youthfulness he thought he had long since lost, after years of war had stripped it away.

He could not say when the pride and fondness of a teacher had changed into genuine feelings of love, but it had happened. When he had broken down and cried and Zack had comforted him with warm arms and no judgement in his voice. When his armored heart had been torn open under the strain of injury, exhaustion and bad memories, Zack had taken care of it, with soft words and strong encouragement. And all of it with a maturity Angeal had not known the young man possessed.

And then there was the plain physical lust, a part he was ashamed of mostly due to Zack's youth. The younger man was stunning, no one could deny that. The raven hair, blue eyes the color of the sea and even when doing such a silly dance, Zack's movements always seemed so beautiful, always so right for his body.

How could he not love all that? Zack embodied every value he held dear, and he just plain enjoyed the younger man's company.

However, there was one big problem in the whole thing. Why would a vibrant, energetic young man like Zack want to be stuck with a maudlin, war torn old SOLDIER like him?

No reason why. If Zack did not feel the same, then Angeal reasoned he would mostly likely be disgusted by his older mentor's advances toward him. Angeal could not take that risk. He would rather not have Zack that way at all, then have him and end up losing him.

No. Angeal knew he could not bear that.

He knew he would have to keep all of these feelings where they were now…

Buried deep in his heart….

000

And that is the end of "Heart to Heart", but fear not the plotline will continue in the next installment "Eye to Eye" which takes place about a few weeks later.

Promise I will send messages to everyone who reviewed letting them know when the next installment has been posted. So if you want an update message, be sure to review!

Here's a little preview of what's in store. The generals take a trip to Golden Saucer, with Zack tagging along and interesting things happen…

By now Angeal had gotten to his feet and was swaying slightly, his eyelids drooped at half mast and there was a lazy smile on his face. "Sup?"

"Are you okay Angeal?" Zack asked concern crossing his face. He had never seen his mentor like this before, except when Angeal had been given morphine while recovering from battle injuries. But that had been in a hospital, this was real life.

"And happened to you dear friend?" Genesis asked eyeing Angeal with a smirk, knowing full well what might have happened.

"Taking your advice friend," Angeal said pointing at Genesis, though he blinked a few times and his hand shifted a little from side to side as he was unsure of which Genesis he should point at. "I cut loose, I let go!" he then looked down at his hands clearly confused about something. "I let go of my drink."

Angeal turned around toward the door to go look for his missing drink, but apparently the sudden turn around was too dizzying for him and he stumbled right into Sephiroth who caught him before he could fall completely

"Perhaps it is good thing that you let that drink go, I don' think you need anymore," Sephiroth said with a sigh. "Why did you consume so much anyway?"

Angeal looked up at him blinking a few times with a furrowed brow. "How'd you get so tall?

Sephiroth rolled his eyes and let Angeal and practically carriedAngeal over to a neighboring couch and plopped him down before taking a seat next to Genesis. Angeal groaned and buried his face in his hands for a few seconds and when he looked up again, his eyes focused on the cup of lemons sitting on the table in front of him. He tilted his head staring at it bewilderedly as if he had never seen anything like it before.

"I must be losing my mind," Angeal said dazedly. "There a bunch of little balls of sunshine in a cup."

Zack was trying his darnndest to hold in his laugher, he felt bad for Angeal knowing his mentor to be so straight laced and was now making a little bit of a fool of himself already and the night was still young yet, but it just was so damn funny…

Enjoy!