So, I started writing this with Valentine'sNinja but she's become a little preoccupied and has given me permission to write this on my own. This is all because of her.

Preliator: (noun) fighter, warrior, combatant...seemed a fitting title for this one.

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Summer in Nibelheim was unpleasant to put it mildly, your clothes stuck to your skin, the humidity was outrageous, and the bugs were unrelenting. Tifa, being a native of the town, had never really been bothered by it. She loved it, especially the occasional thunderstorm. She smiled sweetly to anyone who happened to make eye contact as she meandered down the road toward her home after her stroll to the market. She'd managed to get a few fresh vegetables for her stew, fresh meat from the butcher, and of course fresh bread. She made it to the door, entering quickly as a gust of cool air greeted her.

"Seph?" She called out, depositing her purse and groceries on the counter. "You here?" She walked through the kitchen and into the living room, flicking on the light.

She gasped as a warm arm encircled her waist from behind, letting her eyes flutter closed as the owner of said arm pressed against her back, kissing her neckline gently as he did.

"How was your…outing?" His rich voice sent chills down her spine; she tensed slightly as she tried to concentrate on her answer.

"It was lovely…next time you should come with…me." She replied slowly as he let his hands roam her body while she spoke. His fingers ghosted down her arms as his lips traced her ear lobe, her breathing hitched and she could feel him smirking at her.

"Perhaps I will." He replied simply, stepping away from her abruptly. Her skin felt the chill when he'd left. She turned and watched him, her expression changing from a small smile to a more pronounced pout. In the two years they'd spent together she'd become more accustomed to his abruptness and somewhat cold nature. She knew that somewhere deep down he loved her. In their eyes it was obvious, though to others they seemed scarcely aware the other existed at all.

He removed a carefully wrapped package of meat and placed it into the fridge, fixing her with his calculating gaze. "Did you get everything you needed?" He asked quietly as he continued to put the groceries away.

She hesitated before answering. "Yes…I saw your brother will I was out." She made her way past him to help, careful not to brush against him.

"Oh really? I'm surprised he made it outside…" Tifa chuckled at Sephiroth's irritated sigh as his silver hair once again slid forward, covering his eyes. He froze as her hands wound their way into his silver mane, deft fingers pulling the silken strands back into a hair tie she always kept on her wrist. His aversion to physical contact had long since stopped bothering or deterring her from touching him. It was her touch, after all, that he enjoyed most of all.

"He seems to be doing much better these days." She replied absently, toying with a few wayward strands of his hair. "He's smiling at the very least." His radiant green eyes met hers for a moment. She smiled warmly at him as he watched her with his perpetual mask of stoic indifference.

"Cloud hasn't had the…easiest time, I guess you could say, coping with our mother's passing." He said softly, his eyes drifting down to watch her lips curve into a slight frown. She waited patiently for him to speak again, his eyes fixed on her lips intently as he thought of what to say next. He half turned away in the last second. She held back a sigh as he returned to the groceries.

"Neither have you." Tifa lifted a soft hand to his shoulder. "Lucrecia was an incredible woman and despite her faults she loved you both as well as she could." Tifa stood on her tip toes, kissing his temple gently. "At least you have Jenova…crazy as she may be; she loves you as much as her sister." Sephiroth's mask fell, little by little, as Tifa let her fingers trace along his jaw. "She's doing her best to help you two get through this, and despite what you, or I, think, she does care…very much about you."

"She's never cared about anything, except her own selfish desires." He countered, his expression turning icy yet again. He was all too aware of his aunt's insidious hatred for Tifa, and for the life of him he couldn't see why. Tifa had never been anything but kind and gentle, she cared for Lucrecia when she was at her worst with a smile, she was patient with him and compassionate with anyone who gave her the chance. She was even kind to Jenova, on the rare occasion she came to visit, giving Sephiroth all the space he'd need to deal with that woman. It wasn't a secret that he didn't care for her. He did love her, but then again it was hard not to…she was family.

"That was before. Lucrecia was the only person that had ever really understood her. It hasn't been easy for her either, you've all suffered a tremendous loss…no one expects you to forgive her, but Jenova really might want to just be there for you." He frowned and shrugged turning back to the task at hand.

"She never cared," He gave a petulant huff causing Tifa to smirk at his somewhat childish frown. "Lucrecia had to raise us both on her own after Hojo left her. Jenova always treated Cloud as though he was a failure, and when Luc-mother met Vincent…" He trailed off, his expression turning dark. Tifa knew that story well. Vincent and Lucrecia had had a wonderful affair. She was waiting for the divorce to be final with Hojo and Vincent was a young Turk assigned to her protection detail. Lucrecia had spent her whole life in the science field, which was the only explanation anyone could come up with at to her outlandish reasons for every marrying Professor Hojo in the first place. She'd fallen instantly for Vincent, his charms and quiet, kind nature. Tifa had met him only a few times and she could easily see why Lucrecia had loved him. Jenova, however, had shared her sisters' love of the crimson eyed man and had harbored a deep seeded anger toward her sister for, as she said, stealing the one thing she'd ever wanted. It had broken Lucrecia's heart all over again and she'd wound up leaving Vincent, the greatest love of her life, all for the forgiveness of her sister. It wounded Sephiroth more than he let on. Vincent had become somewhat of a replacement father figure to him in his teenage years, and he had patiently helped Cloud out of his shell bit by bit.

Vincent was never the doting type, so instead he'd taught Cloud how to fire a gun, drive a motorcycle, and built up his self confidence in ways no one else but Sephiroth could have. He taught Sephiroth about swords and how to use them, taught him responsibility and accountability. Vincent instilled in him a strong sense of right and wrong. One year, Vincent had gone to Wutai and brought back one of the few things Sephiroth would ever cherish, a traditionally made Nodachi…'Masamune'.

Tifa stood beside Sephiroth as he relived various memories, she frowned, it was times like these he appreciated her the most. She simply stood by, letting her mere presence be the comfort he needed. He blinked rapidly, turning to face her with an unreadable expression. He held stock still as her fingertips brushed against his cheek, her own eyes mirroring the emptiness and crushing sorrow he felt while her expression remained neutral.

"That's enough…lets not talk about this anymore today, Seph." Her voice was soft and comforting in the darkness of his grief. "It's been a long day; I'm going to go lay down for a bit." She turned and began to walk away, stopping in the hall and turning back toward him. "Won't you come lay with me?" Her voice seemed small and shy, as it often did when she asked him for something he deemed 'ridiculous'. He watched her a moment, the corner of one lip quirked up in a smirk, nodding slowly as he walked toward her. Secretly he enjoyed the simplicity of lying with her, feeling her warmth as he slept was comforting to him…though he'd never admit it aloud, not yet at least.

It had been three months since his mother, Lucrecia, had fallen ill with Geostigma. Her funeral march still played clearly in the back of his mind, as though it had never ended. He thought for a moment that only Tifa's hands had the power to bring him back out of that nightmare.

It had come as a surprise when she'd first become ill, and though he despised her, Jenova had spent every waking moment with her sister. Apologizing through actions rather than words, doing all she could to show Lucrecia in those final days, that she had truly loved her. It was more difficult for Cloud, the younger of the two brothers, as he had always been closer to their mother. She always said he reminded her of her own father, his sky blue eyes and brilliant blond hair down to his simple and sweet nature.

Sephiroth however was a different story. He had always been emotionally guarded, even as a boy. He had an unnatural desire to prove himself as strong and unbreakable, as though he knew this day would come and he'd have to be strong enough for everyone else. Lucrecia had always supported him, from joining Soldier to his eventual climb to the most decorated General of their time. Cloud had never truly had an interest in war or the military; he only enlisted because of his brother. Cloud harbored a small amount of hero worship toward him, even as a small boy he always tried to emulate him, and Sephiroth had always done his best to protect him from anything and everything.

Jenova…she was the proverbial black sheep of the family. Addicted to Mako and suffering from some form of drug induced schizophrenia, she'd almost always been in either the hospital or incarcerated. Lucrecia, being the woman she was, never gave up on her. She would do everything from posting bail to putting her up in her own apartment as close to their home as she could. Jenova had never seemed to appreciate it until Lucrecia was on her death bed. Sephiroth would never have admit that in those moments he felt that there really was more of a sisterly bond between the two, he hated Jenova for all the pain she had inflicted on his mother. However, as Tifa always said, people change and in moments of desperation and regret they show what they are truly capable of, be it for better or worse and Jenova had shown that even with all her faults, Lucrecia had meant something…more to her.

"Tifa…" She met his emerald stare mesmerized by the unnatural glow his eyes held. She felt her heart sink, she knew this look well. She felt her heart tense painfully in her chest as he carefully wrapped his arms around her, kissing her forehead gently as they lay together. She felt the urge to kiss him senseless and tell him all the things she kept hidden within her heart. However, she kept silent and watched him closely as he sighed heavily into her thick brown mane. Her mahogany eyes softened as he settled against her and his breathing slowly evened out.

'I love you. Yesterday, today, always…' Tifa sighed, wishing she were brave enough to say as much aloud to him. He, however, never seemed to be one who enjoyed such things, and in the end she concluded it was probably better she didn't. Who knows what it would do to him?

She lay beside him as he slept, she felt his sorrow pouring off him in waves and despite his constant need for distance and the coldness that seemed to permeate his being, she knew he loved her as much as she did him. He touched her, which for anyone who knew him knew he recoiled from any sort of physical contact. When they made love it felt like he set her on fire from the inside out, bringing her to life for the first time. His intensity and control were incredible. He would kiss every inch of her; let his hands rediscover her soft curves and silky smooth skin, he'd worship her body. She was his salvation in ways even he didn't understand and she'd be damned if she let anyone take him from her.

"I love you…" The words were a whisper into his hair, his arms instinctively tightened around her waist. She closed her eyes, the world forgotten for the time being.


The Shinra headquarters was bustling with an unusual amount of energy and soldiers today. There were grunts running around, loading trucks with ammo, guns, and food supplies. Several First Class officers had been called in which, to all present, meant something serious was about to happen. Zack sighed, blowing his black spikes out of his face. He hated waiting, hated sitting still and doing nothing. Nothing, he couldn't even help the lowly infantry load the damn trucks. He had to sit and wait and do NOTHING!

"What seems to be the problem, private?" Zack nearly leapt out of his skin, gasping as he quickly stood and saluted.

"Sir, nothing, Sir!" He flushed slightly at being caught lounging.

"At ease, Fair. Angeal had asked me to…collect you." Genesis gave a smirk at the younger man. He was intimidating in his own right, though not nearly as much as his comrade.

"Yes, sir." Zack heaved a sigh of relief as they made their way to the control room. He was shocked, to say the least, to find Tseng and President Rufus standing there with their accompaniment of Turks.

"Ah, Zack Fair is it?" Zack nodded, standing at attention as the president spoke. "We have a situation developing in Midgar," Rufus handed over a black file. Zack glanced down at it and back up at the president and Turk commander.

"This is…" Tseng nodded as Zack paled slightly. 'Sephiroth?' "What are my orders?" He dreaded having to go collect the general himself. The man wasn't exactly known for being very kind or particularly understanding.

"Go to Nibelheim and alert General Sephiroth, he'll want to handle this situation personally." Tseng grinned and to Zack it seemed that he was all too pleased to send the young man to his most certain doom. "This organization, Deepground, they are the ones responsible for destroying Junon. There isn't much time, Angeal will meet you there." Tseng collected the file from Zack, he smirked again as he saluted, bowed, and nodded, completely flustered.

'I have to go tell the General that…Gods, he is going to kill me!' Zack collected his massive buster sword, all the rations he would need, and his orders from Elena. He packed up his motorcycle, readying all his equipment and any materia he'd had stashed in the beast of a bike. Elena waited non too patiently, tapping her foot in irritation.

"Now, Zack…the parameters for this mission are strict and you must not deviate." She stated in a matter-o-fact tone. "The general is urgently needed on the front line. He will rendezvous with Genesis in Kalm and from there he must hurry to Midgar, before it's too late." She handed him yet another portfolio.

"Gods, think they have enough paper work?" He muttered flipping through the hefty packet.

"You would do well not to make light of this situation, sir." Elena's tone left no room for argument and Zack instantly felt ashamed for insulting the work she'd done. "You have seven hours to get to Nibelheim, I suggest you hurry." She turned on her heel, walking rapidly away. He sighed heavily, pulling his phone from his pocket and dialing the number from memory.

Turks…smug bastards.' He thought wryly as she forced her way through people and disappeared from sight.

"Hello, love. Yes, I am heading there now. I'll call again as soon as I'm able." He laughed lightly at the other person. "I knew you would, I'll lock the church up on my way out of town. I love you too, Aerith." He flipped the device closed and lowered his goggles, revving the black motorcycles engine and roaring off toward the end of town. He made a mental note to collect a few lilies from the church, they were Aerith's favorite. He smirked to himself, no one who knew him would have ever thought he, of all people, would ever settle down with anyone. Aerith was spectacular and different in her own right, an angel in his eyes. He'd married her after fifteen years of knowing her and only two of actually 'dating'. He'd said he just knew she was the one, no one else could instill such a sense of love, desire, comfort…anything in him like she could.

He was glad to have a chance to spend some time with her, being stationed in Edge for the last three months was, while not entirely unpleasant, a little too far from his new wife. One year, three months, six days, and eleven hours they'd been married. Zack glanced down at the silver band on his finger, oddly he didn't feel as 'tied down' as he'd anticipated, he felt fine. Completely content to have the woman of his dreams by his side...forever.

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I own nothing, just random thoughts put into fic form. Hope you enjoy, criticism is always welcome! R&R = 3