Sky Metamorphosis

A/N: Thank you for all the consistent support and reviews and alerts and favs, even though I haven't been good in updating at all. I suppose I've been a bit too immersed lately in the Glee fandom, but rest assured, I'll not leave this story hanging.

Thanks again for all the support, and though a bit short, with nothing major going on, I still hope that you guys enjoy this chapter! 3

P.S: Fic is unbeta-ed. Sorry for any mistakes!

Chapter 9

Sephiroth slipped into the observation deck after making sure that there wasn't anyone inside. He knew that in ten minutes time, Zack would be training with Cloud inside this training hall, and since he was actually free for once, he decided to pop in to have a look.

Of course, he knew that was just part of the excuse. He didn't even fully understand why he's there at the moment, hiding like a creep to catch a glimpse of a boy he's never talked to before. But he just wanted so much to see Cloud, and there was a curious ache in his heart and stomach for a whole week now, him being unable to take time off from work and missing not once, but four chances of meeting the cadet.

He's pretty sure that Zack was actually pissed off at him, thinking that Sephiroth was deliberately trying to get out of meeting the blond. Even Angeal had frowned at him the last time he declined an invitation to dinner, and Angeal was the most stoic and sensible of them all.

His friends might not know it, but Sephiroth was actually getting pretty desperate to meet the boy. The amount of yearning he felt regarding this matter was shocking, and Sephiroth had never felt this way ever.

He sighed, the soft sound echoing in the empty room. Beneath him, the door to the hall opened, and a shock of wild blond hair was visible as Cloud popped into the training hall. Cloud placed his duffel bag on top of a bench at the side, and began to stretch, warming up his body.

Cloud was wearing a dark green hoodie along with simple cargo pants. On his feet he had on the standard cadet combat boots, and on his hands he wore fingerless black gloves. The boy looked very handsome, and Sephiroth just sat down on a chair and observed to his heart's content.

It had been nearly two weeks since he last saw Cloud, the last time being when he carried the boy back to his room, and Sephiroth found himself eagerly taking in and cataloguing every single detail, committing Cloud's image to memory. Cloud had taken his hoodie off now, having finished warming up, revealing a grey tank top inside. The fabric clung to the boy's body like a second glove, and Sephiroth could easily see the outline of Cloud's lithe body, as his gaze then swept over toned arms and slim waist.

Cloud looked well.

From what he had heard from Zack, Cloud's fully recovered now, even though the cadet had yet to fully regain back his previous strength and physique. Cloud was also rapidly catching up on all the subjects he needed to study on, using his free time whenever there's no physical training to study. Aside from that, Cloud's training was also getting along very well. Zack had observed that as Cloud's body got progressively better, his skills in combat training and also sword fighting had also improved rapidly. Also, after letting Cloud try out a variety of weapons, Zack realized that the cadet was really more suited using swords, and they had begun to focus on honing that particular skill.

Cloud took a simple broad sword off the weapons wall, and began to exercise his movements. The boy parried and swung at an imaginary opponent, swooping down the sword and then swiftly slicing it upwards in a single motion. Sephiroth was transfixed. Cloud was nimble on his feet, and his hand was deft as he quickly worked through the basics, and moved on to more complex moves.

The blond was gorgeous. The way he yield his sword was a lot like dancing, his motions infused with an amount of grace that was simply too alluring to ignore. Sephiroth wondered what it would be like to be the opponent on the tip of Cloud's sword. It would definitely be an unforgettable experience.

Cloud was clearly a natural, and though his skills were still considerably average, it's easy to see that he's able to wield the sword as if it was merely just a limb on his body. There was no discomfort or hesitation. It was like Cloud had fully embodied and merged with the sword itself, and that was a rare sight indeed. Most competent warriors used and treated their weapons like an ally. And even that was after years and years of honing their skills and training to the best of their ability. It's not usual to see someone treat their weapon as if it's part of them, an ability that Cloud clearly had.

Sephiroth didn't realize that his breathing had slowed and his gaze intense as his whole focus was now completely aimed on Cloud.

All of a sudden, Cloud twitched, and the sword that was cutting through the air paused. Then Cloud's looking around the room, frowning as he did so. After a moment, he mumbled something to himself and picked up where he left off, swinging his sword again and resuming his movements.

Sephiroth blinked, concentration lost. That was really weird. Cloud seemed to have sensed that someone was watching him, and his body automatically gave a kneejerk response. But that shouldn't be possible. Usually only those with keen senses and years of training would be able to pick up on a person's gaze or aura, and that was also only when the other person was in close proximity. Not only was Cloud not at that particular level of skill, Sephiroth was also at some distance away from him.

There had only been three people who had been able to sense his presence—Zack, Angeal, and Genesis. They were able to sense one another as long as the other was nearby, even if they were inside a room or a building. Genesis had attributed this strangeness to the fact that they were very close to one another, in which Zack had quipped that they had formed an 'emotional bond'.

Sephiroth had blandly said: "What on Gaia did I do last time that I have to be emotionally bonded to you and Genesis?"

Zack had refused to talk to him for a week. It was a pretty fond memory though.

Sephiroth tilted his head, his silver tresses falling around his shoulders and tickling his arms. Again, he focused on Cloud, zooming in on the boy, and sure enough, the next moment, Cloud jerked, and swung around, head scanning the room with an almost paranoid look on his face.

Sephiroth's eyes widened, but his lips quirked into a smile. This was fascinating. Normally, when he didn't wish to be detected, even Zack, Genesis and Angeal would experience a bit of haziness and difficulty when they tried to 'detect' him. However, despite him clearly not wanting to be found, Cloud had immediately sensed his presence.

This was refreshing, and something completely new. Sephiroth wondered when Cloud would cease to endlessly surprise him.

The cadet was really too intriguing to ignore. And while Sephiroth tried not to stare, he just couldn't help it, and little did he know that Cloud was feeling pinpricks crawling up all over his back.

Sephiroth watched as Cloud gave a roll of his shoulders, and then walked back to where his bag was, pulling out a bottle of water and drinking from it. The blond was still casting suspicious looks around the room, but he didn't once look up, because cadets didn't know that all the training halls actually had observation decks.

Zack chose that exact moment to barge in, slamming the door close even as he strode forward and pulled Cloud into a tight hug, ruffling his hair as he did so. Sephiroth watched on, amused, as Zack chatted with Cloud for a moment, before motioning Cloud to go over the weapons wall.

Cloud just shook his head fondly before he turned and walked away. It was then that Zack swerved his head and looked up, raising a finger to his eyes before pointing right back to the hidden observation deck. Sephiroth knew that Zack had sensed him, and he chuckled.

Zack just shook his head, mouth moving as he most probably muttered curses underneath his breath. Sephiroth reached forward to press a button, turning on the speakers. He could now hear everything from the training hall.

Leaning back into his chair, Sephiroth crossed his fingers and a smile spread across his face. He can't wait to see Cloud training against Zack.

Zack's voice sounded through the speakers, clear and tinged with amusement. "Well, Cloud, let's get this show started, shall we?"

Angeal walked into the office he shared with Genesis, frowning as he did so.

Genesis was sprawled in his armchair, feet crossed and planted on the desk, reading from a copy of Loveless that was propped up on his legs.

He looked up when Angeal came in. "What happened?"

"Sephiroth wasn't in his office. Which is pretty weird seeing that he's usually stuck inside it nowadays."

Genesis scoffed. "That's an understatement. He works too much. Zack's starting to get angry at him."

Angeal just sighed. "Let's just hope that everything works out. I wouldn't want another repeat of that incident two years ago. Remember when Sephiroth and Zack full out dueled for nearly five hours under the rain and terrorizing away everyone?"

Genesis closed his book with a sharp snap even as an attractive but naughty smirk played on his lips. "Speak for yourself. I would be eating popcorn and cheering them on by the side. Maybe I'll even kidnap Cloud away from Zack if he's too preoccupied with fighting to notice it. Do you reckon our apartment can take in another person? We can let Cloud sleep in the guest room."

Angeal resisted the urge to flick his pen at his red-haired friend. "For the last time, Gen, you can't steal Cloud away from Zack. He's Cloud's mentor, and that precedes everything else."

Genesis clearly didn't hold the same principles as him, because the next moment, Angeal's hand was up and clutching a ballpen that the other commander had thrown at him.

"Very mature." He deadpanned.

Genesis just rolled his eyes. "Can't blame a man for trying. Still, just because Zack is mentor, this doesn't mean that Cloud has to stay with him. Besides, think of how wonderful it would be if Cloud stayed with us! And then there's the bonus of pissing Zack off."

"Do it then, but I'm not cleaning up after your mess. You and Zack and Seph can just go and battle it all out. I'll just stand by and wait until all three of you drop dead."

Genesis gasped, clutching a hand to his heart in mock horror. "I'm so wounded! To think that you are so heartless that you would rather watch me die than help me. Me! Your best friend that you've practically known since forever!"

Genesis could have gone on to a full blown tirade, and Angeal thanked all the gods above when the man's phone chimed, effectively putting a stop to his dramatic narration.

Genesis took a look at his phone, and the wide grin that broke out on his face spelled nothing but trouble.

"Zack just texted me. Apparently, our dear Sephiroth was absent because he's down spying on Cloud in the observation deck in the T7 training hall."

This time, Angeal was up and out of the door following Genesis without any prompting needed.

Even he could admit that he's more than interested to see how this all played out.

Sephiroth could hear the door opening and shutting. He didn't move, eyes remained close as he sat in the chair, legs crossed at the knees. A chair was pulled up beside him, and the person sat down beside him.

"I was surprised that you're here." Zack said.

Sephiroth hummed. He was still replaying the image of Cloud parrying Zack's attacks blow by blow in his mind. The way Cloud's vivid blue eyes were darkened in concentration, how that spiky blond hair framed his face. The way Cloud's limbs danced, the muscles in his arms flexing and bulging as he swung the sword and his feet laying out the intricate footwork for different sets of sparring styles.

Zack poked at him, and Sephiroth's eyes opened. "Zack." He berated gently.

Zack grinned. "Come on, Seph. Spill."

Sephiroth sighed. He was definitely not getting out of this one. "Fine." He said. After a moment of silence, he continued on, voice lowered. "To be honest, I'm surprised that I'm here too."

Zack's grin had taken on an almost unbearable smugness, and Sephiroth fought the urge to hit the man.

Leaning forward, Zack asked: "Tell me, Seph. How long have you actually wanted to meet Cloud?"

Sephiroth glared at him. But as usual, it had zero effect on Zack Fair, and the man just smiled back at him.

Breathing in, and then out. Once. Twice.

Sephiroth closed his eyes and replied: "Pretty much since the beginning, actually."

The next moment Zack had sprung up on his feet and was dragging Sephiroth into a tight hug.

"I knew it! I knew it! I knew you wouldn't be able to resist my cute, wonderful Cloud!"

"What? Did Sephiroth finally confessed his undying love for my adorable Cloud? I must say that I don't approve. Cloud's far too good for Sephy here."

Zack swerved around even as Sephiroth scowled.

"Gen! Angeal! Oh, you guys came at just the right time!" Zack was practically vibrating with barely concealed glee and excitement. Sephiroth just felt an impending headache.

Thankfully, Angeal spoke up. "Calm down, pup. Don't get too excited, and just tell us what's going on."

"Well, Sephiroth just confessed that he pretty much wanted to meet Cloud ever since the beginning. Isn't that adorable?"

Genesis let out a noise that sounded almost like a very manly version of a squeal. "Really? Wow, not that's what I call progress. From one cool, almost emotionless SOLDIER into a soulful, love-filled human being in one day. We can bottle this kind of miracle up and sell it for a fortune!"

Angeal let out a chortle. There was even a playful glint in the usually cool and calm man's eyes.

Sephiroth glared. "If the three of you could quit nattering on like mindless idiots and getting all worked up over nothing, then we can proceed with this conversation much more smoothly." He said icily.

The three of them looked at him, and burst out laughing. Sephiroth should feel indignant, but he found himself amused and just that slightly embarrassed instead. It was refreshing.

"Fine, then. What have you to say for yourself?" Angeal asked, smiling.

"First. Yes, I'm quite interested in Strife. The cadet is interesting, even though I've absolutely no idea why." Sephiroth replied.

"And second. I am NOT in love with him. I'm just intrigued, that's all. So if all of you could stop acting like sixteen year old matchmakers with a penchant for giggling, I would be very grateful for it."

"And lastly, do not attempt to set me up with Strife. I won't have you guys meddling. I will naturally, meet with him. However, I'm far too busy now to even consider mindless socializing, though I promise that I'll meet him, on my own time."

"Do all of you understand me, then?" Sephiroth asked.

Angeal nodded in acquiescence, but both Zack and Genesis seemed far less pleased with what he had said, both looking as though they had much more to protest. Sephiroth glared at them, "Zack, Genesis. Don't. Just don't. Understand?"

The three of them glared at one another, but finally, Zack exchanged an exasperated look with Genesis, and Sephiroth knew that he had won.

Genesis scrunched his face in displeasure. "I don't like it, but yes, I understand. You're being a major pain in the ass as usual, Seph, sucking off all the fun and joy in our lives like an irritating leech."

Zack just shrugged. "Well, I'm just glad that you aren't avoiding Cloud or anything. I really think you'll like him once you get to know him." He could very good for you. Zack silently added in his mind.

"I'm not. I'm just too busy."

Zack nodded. "Fine, fine, I won't nag you." Leaning against the console, he asked, "So, what do you think? After seeing Cloud in action, I mean."

"He's really as good as you say, that's no denying it. He's a complete natural in sword fighting, and it's easy to see from the fluidity in his movements that he would be similarly talented in not only hand-to-hand combat, but any combat-scenarios. If properly trained, he would turn out to be one hell of a SOLDIER." Sephiroth mused.

Beaming with pride, Zack's eyes sparkled as he gushed, "He's good, isn't he? Told you that my intuition is correct."

"Well, seeing that even Sephiroth here is singing praises about my wonderful Cloud, I really must take some time off to watch him, or even better, train him." Genesis said.

Angeal nodded in agreement.

"As much as I can go on to extol all of Cloud's incredible show of talent, there's something that I think would interest all of you even more." Sephiroth said, lips twitching up into a ghost of a smile.

Three pairs of eyes looked at him in interest.

Looking right back, Sephiroth said: "He can sense me."

"What?" Was the baffled response by all of them.

"Are you certain?" Angeal asked.

Sephiroth nodded, "Yes. Before Zack came, I was watching him. And whenever I paid special attention to him, he can sense me, his whole body twitched and he started looking around suspiciously. And Zack, surely you noticed that he seemed more jumpy than usual in today's training?"

Zack tilted his head as he thought about it. "Well, yeah. But I thought that he was just nervous, or something. But this actually explains a lot. He did seem a bit off today."

"And there you have it. He can sense me. Not really very accurately, only when I'm concentrating on him, but still, his reflex and instincts are naturally good."

Genesis let out a low whistle. "God, that's a feat even by itself. I don't think that normal people could sense you, could they?"

Shaking his head, Sephiroth replied: "No. They usually can't. Not unless I deliberately release my aura to intimidate them or alert them."

"This is really sort of freaking me out in a very good way. Cloud can actually sense Sephiroth—I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that one." Zack breathed out.

"Did you notice him sensing anyone else then?" Angeal asked.

"No. Cloud has really good reflexes, and he can tell that someone is behind him pretty quickly, but he hasn't really shown signs of sensing other people. He can't sense me, for sure. I can mask my presence and creep up on him, and he won't notice a thing. He can always feel me staring though, but I guess that's normal for everyone." Zack said.

"Does this mean that Sephiroth is special then?" Genesis remarked, a smirk on his face.

"I suppose so." Zack quipped. "It's just amazing that Cloud could sense Sephiroth, the most impossibly hard man to notice, when he can't sense anyone else that are definitely easier to detect."

The three of them were looking at him again with similar looks of unveiled interest and amusement on their faces.

"This does seem serendipitous to me." Angeal said.

Both Genesis and Zack nodded in sync, it was almost creepy.

"Very, very serendipitous indeed." Genesis drawled.


A/N: Finally, finally! Next chapter will finally be when Sephiroth and Cloud meet! There's definitely a twist there somewhere on how the fated first meeting will go~ Also, more details about Cloud's bullying finally comes to light. XD

Also, please read and review! They make my day~! 3