Friends Before Enemies

Disclaimer: I do not own any Final Fantasy characters, Square Enix does.

Warning: I have no idea what I'm doing with this fic. It may be dirty, it may not be. It's going to be an adventure for all of us!

This will be a story about Genesis, Sephiroth, and Angeal and their weird friendship. Enjoy!

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I remember the very first time I saw a picture of Sephiroth. He looked slightly timid, as if camera-shy and had that innocence about him. The article spoke words of his excelling strength and miraculous talents that he used in our many battles, fighting the war that we've caused upon ourselves. I think about how it listed his age, one that matched my own, and how it commented that he kept to himself and was an intelligent young man. It went into details on SOLDIER, an elite fighting group that reigned far beyond any army upon the Planet. And all of those little details started to click together for me. I started to dream. I dreamt of being in SOLDIER, in Sephiroth's position, feeling the adoring gaze of the citizens of the Planet, and I felt the warm embrace of gratitude for doing my duty. I felt like I was the protector of something terribly fragile, that not anyone could do this job aside from myself. I dreamt that my power was above and beyond, and that I could face up against the worst challenges.

I had a dream, and I wanted to make it come true. I spoke to my childhood friend, Angeal, about this dream. This belief that there was more out there than what we were living. We weren't made to be apple farmers and juice makers. We were meant to be like this guy, this Sephiroth. We could do it.

It took him a few weeks to absorb my words. He was always the type to think things over thoughtfully, weaving out the pros and cons of every step and calculating every detail of the future we were to have. But it was the one day that Banora had gone blissfully quiet, only the night bugs calling out their songs that he had brought up my proposition. I remember the exact words he had said to me.

"Well, partner, I think we'll be heading to Midgar once we pack up and get the gil to arrive there. I'm sure our parents will miss us…but they've always told us to chase our dreams."

I never thought I'd see the day where we waved goodbye to Banora, to our parents, to the homeland that smelt of apples at odd times of the year. I'd miss the sun-kissed mountains and the tall grass blooming with flowers. But I had a dream, and I had to chase it.

Not once in this dream had I ever thought that it would mean direct contact with Sephiroth. Not for a minute had I realized that coming into SOLDIER would mean arriving anywhere near him. I felt like a fanboy seeing him the first time that we had gotten off the airship and came forth to Shinra Headquarters, standing in a group for our admissions into the elite group. If we met a certain mark we'd begin training, and if we came to their standards we'd be put into 3rd class, the lowest rank in SOLDIER. Still, it was a rank, it was far better than an infantry position, or being the front desk secretary. But I held my breath seeing him, remembering my dream of being him. That top position where everyone looked up to me, where even the crowds would want to bend and kiss my feet. My mouth watered at the thought, and I kept my eyes on him utterly star struck. I hardly heard Angeal's advisable words on keeping calm and doing my best. We had trained ourselves back home, finding it easier to challenge each other than to train alone. We were already strong. A farmer has to be strong, you do too much lifting to be weak. We worked long hours, waking up at odd hours or harvesting during times of the year you wouldn't expect. I remember missing school quite a lot junior year, but as farmers we weren't penalized for it because we were the profit of our little world. Though I was the mayor's son, I still worked out in the fields with Angeal. He had taught me the most out of farming and picking apples, like he was born with a green thumb or something. I always enjoyed his motivational talks, his comforting words when things went wrong, his sturdy stand on topics…it was as if nothing could cause him to ever break. I admired that, just like how I admired Sephiroth right now. But it was a different admiration. I hungered for what Sephiroth had.

"Genesis Rhapsodos." The name was called out in a monotone way that Genesis didn't register his own name for a minute there. He looked to his side and remembered that Angeal had gone way before him, the alphabet clearly having H before R. He remembered some of the things that Angeal had told him repeatedly. Keep his cool, don't overwork, keep a steady pace. He had no idea what the test would be like, he just knew that to get into a fighting job that meant fighting…

"You are entering into a test to see if you qualify for Shinra's elite group of fighters called SOLDIER. These tests are to be taken seriously and all results will be studied against the average scores of passing participants. If you are at average or above average in most areas, you have a higher chance of getting into SOLDIER. All test results will be figured by the end of the month. If you have any questions please ask now." Genesis shook his head feeling nothing coming to mind. "The tests are about to begin. If you believe you cannot go through this, we ask that you please leave now through that exit and you may test in for another service area. Please step forward and place your feet on the markings on the floor. This test is for physical fitness. We will time you for a minute and perform to the best of your ability as many squats as you can. When I say 'go' you may begin." Genesis tensed as he stood there, prepared for every test. Squats were easy, it was like gym class all over again. He could beat anyone in his class given the correct determination… "Go."

I don't remember how many squats I did, how many push-ups I mustered, or how well I did in pull-ups. I can't remember how fast I can run, let alone how well I shot moving targets. My power in punching and disarming a person didn't register in my mind. I can't remember how well I did on my swordsmen test, either. It was like that for all of the tests, aside from being told that my eyesight was splendid. When it was all over I was worn out, mentally from the anxiety and physically from shaking myself up so much.

"How'd you think you did?" Angeal asked, arm slinging onto Genesis's shoulders. Genesis shrugged, unable to remember half of what happened. "I'm sure you did fine, you're just worried. Let's go out to eat, my treat."

"No, let me buy this time, you always make me feel guilty for the times that you had to pay for me."

Angeal laughed, remembering back at Banora the dumb things Genesis did that he always had to ask for gil. "All right, that sounds good to me." They walked together, relaxing as the deed was done. They passed by the door concealing Sephiroth and the other boys, forgetting about the tests and being in the presence of such a great man.

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The end of the month had arrived quickly enough, the two arriving at Shinra Headquarters once again in eagerness to see their results. Together they saw the terrified expressions amongst the others around them. Who had passed and who had failed? Who would start training and who would be kicked to the curb? These thoughts flooded through everyone as they waited, dreadfully pursuing all the possibilities as time slowly slipped by. At last someone entered in with an official looking list, yet this time Sephiroth wasn't present. Though no one noticed, hardly bothered by the emptiness of his amazing presence he brought to the room. The area was filled with too much tension to care about idols.

"We will announce those who have made it into our training program. We ask that once called you go through this door and gather up your gear and room keys. More information will be provided on the other side of the door. The rest may stay and apply for an infantry position if your results are applicable for admission. Other jobs are offered as well. Now to the results." Genesis felt the lump in his throat, the butterflies fluttering in his stomach. He hated that feeling, when nervousness grasped his body and struggled around with his stomach. His heart raced hard in his chest loudly, though he was certain everyone in the room was feeling the exact same thing. Sweating, tensing, straining, clenching jaws, taking deep breaths. It was all there in all of them. His eyes went over to a few that bent their heads and gave a small prayer. He thought of the Goddess, and he closed his eyes for a minute and silently prayed himself. A hand landed on his shoulder and he turned to look at his best friend standing there, that sly smirk on his face. He was so confident, he adored that. Angeal. How could he stand there and smile when, for all he knew, he could be disqualified from entering into SOLDIER? Their very dream to get into this place, so whimsical and stupid it had been when Genesis had first uttered the words, yet so strong and stern in their hearts now.

Down the alphabet it had gone, not a single person from A-D had gotten in. Genesis felt panicked. So many looks of disappointment, shock, sorrow, like their souls were stolen from them. He heard a few unfamiliar names called out, but Angeal's was the one that made him glance to his friend. Hope soared in his heart that he would be lucky like his friend. He watched the figure nonchalantly head through the door and disappear from sight. More letters were skipped, sometimes it was lucky to even hear the last name even be in the same group. Yet as it went down Genesis prayed harder. And he heard a Q be called out, his heart leapt, his body shaking when he closed his eyes.

Please, please let me prove myself worthy. Give me this chance, let me in and I will show all that I can be. It's a small dream, but it's one I want to go through with. Please.

"Rhapsodos, Genesis."

Genesis heard his name and his eyes shot open. He was called. He was called!! Calmly he walked to the door and went through, numbly staring at what was on the other side. About ten or less other new people stood around holding boxes in their hands. His eyes caught Angeal, but he couldn't run over and hug him just yet. His eyes were turned to who was standing right there. Sephiroth.

"Congratulations in passing your test," his words sounded rehearsed and bored, his eyes gazing into Genesis's without any expression to them. Yet Genesis was surprised to see the tall figure even talking to him. He noticed Sephiroth offer his hand to shake and he took it, feeling the grasp of a well-trained fighter against his own hard-working hands.

"Uhh..thanks!" Genesis murmured, surprised he could even talk after going through such vigorous waiting. He was handed a box by another person and he joined the others. Everyone looked so nervous yet happy aside from Angeal, who had his own calm demeanor about himself. "I made it," Genesis remarked to Angeal like a child who had gone on a roller coaster ride for the first time.

"Of course you did, we didn't train that long and hard to get booted." Angeal slapped his back roughly, though the redhead only returned the rough whack.

"Everyone, please line up and listen carefully. You will share rooms with one or two others. Training begins early in the morning, schedules are posted in your rooms. Any questions can be answered through the number given on the schedules. Tomorrow morning all of you will attend a medical check-up along with a physical and some blood tests. You cannot skip these tests, and if you're late you will be asked to leave. Any questions?"

Someone actually raised their hand slightly, "Are we allowed to pick our roommates?"

"The keys are set out over there. If you can all do so in an orderly fashion, you may choose whoever you want. If that's all, you may go ahead. Once all of you have picked a key, Sephiroth will show you to your floor. Ask him any questions that may concern you about your rooms or anything else that comes to mind. He's gone through this before, he knows plenty to help all of you out."

Genesis looked back over at Sephiroth. It felt weird to be in the same room as him still. In fact, to Genesis he felt like there was a glass between him and Sephiroth, so the interaction was minimal. And yet he had shook hands with him already! He must have sounded stupid saying 'thanks'. Angeal nudged him as he held the keys in his hands, "Still dazed, I see. It'll wear off."

Genesis nodded, "Yeah, it still feels like a dream and not reality."

"Hmm…yes, well when you embrace your dreams sometimes they become reality."

Genesis didn't reply as they followed the group toward Sephiroth, all the eyes feeling lost as they stared at him in person. Genesis had to admit that Sephiroth looked different in person, but it was a good difference. Something more human, something attainable. "This way," Sephiroth remarked and they followed like sheep up the stairs in silence, only their feet giving rise to their existence in the place. When they reached the floor Sephiroth stopped and turned to them. "Your keys have the numbers of which door you go to. If you have any questions I'll be waiting out here."

They all split up to their doors, arriving in to see the small, not-so-hot place before them. It at least wasn't crappy, but Genesis could have asked for something nicer than boring pale blue walls and gray carpet. At least the bathroom had something nice about it, and nothing was broken. "Seems nice enough," Genesis muttered to his friend and he saw Angeal glancing at the view. He came over expecting Banora to blaze before him, but instead it was far different. Buildings upon buildings, winding streets and bright signs, decorated billboards of advertisements everywhere. It was far different than what he was used to, but he had no reason to complain. Perhaps being a city boy would be something he'd like? "It feels weird…that we're not on actual ground, just a plate."

"Yeah, you don't even realize it," Angeal commented before he turned and glanced a few times at the room before heading out. Genesis had no idea where he was going, so he poked through the things they had given him in the box. It was a training uniform along with a pamphlet on where to go and what he could do. After glimpsing through it he went out into the hallway to talk to Angeal when he noticed the guy was casually talking to Sephiroth. He was stunned at Angeal's ability to pick up a conversation with highly important people with such ease. Genesis always stumbled over his thoughts and normally nodded his head or said something weird. "How long have you been in SOLDIER?"

"Two years."

"And you're already 1st class? That's rather remarkable. Have you done previous training before you went in to SOLDIER?"

"Nothing like the basic training you'll be going through, but I did have some previous knowledge of combat skills before taking the entry exam."

Angeal's eyes turned to Genesis as the guy hung back. "See? Training pays off if you do it early enough."

Genesis came over slowly before nodding, "Yeah. That was an interesting test…" He looked at Sephiroth and Angeal before trying to think of a good question. "So…where do you live?" For a minute he thought it was a dumb question after he said it, about to take back what he said and cover it with another one, but surprisingly Sephiroth answered him.

"Down the hallway. If you have any emergencies I will be in there at night, but other than that you will have to contact the emergency lines posted in your room. If you make it completely into 3rd class, it'll automatically be programmed into a phone for you."

"Oh, that sounds nice," Genesis muttered.

"So what's your hometown?" Angeal asked. He had never read up on Sephiroth like Genesis had, so the redhead felt like the question was a terrible one to ask. Yet Sephiroth's expression didn't change at all when he answered it.

"Here, in Midgar."

"Really? Hmm…I can't imagine living in the cities for my whole life. The work might be better here, but the sight isn't that great."

Sephiroth didn't look fazed at all. "You must be from the country."

"Yes, Genesis and myself are from Banora. It's famous for the apple production we have."

Sephiroth didn't acknowledge it physically, but he remarked on it with his bored expression still brazen on his face, "Like the apple juice?"

Genesis perked up. That was his apple juice. "Yeah. That. I'm actually the one who made up the recipe for it…"

"Interesting," Sephiroth said, though his tone sounded far from interested. "If you fail here you have something to fall back on." Genesis felt like he was insulted, or at least unsure of what Sephiroth meant by those words. If he failed here? He wasn't going to fail and give up that easily.

"I won't be going home because I plan on making it through here."

Sephiroth noticed the slight rise in the boy. "Then I'm sure I'll see you plenty in the future."

Before their conversation could continue another man joined them, but he asked a question about the scheduling. "When we pass the training, will we still have to follow this schedule? There aren't that many breaks in it."

"Not as strict, but you'll still have one to follow. The higher you rise in SOLDIER the more relaxed it is, but that also means harder tasks to take. So inevitably you'll always be busy."

"Is there like…uh…a test or something to make us pass up through the ranks?" It was another male who had exited his room. Genesis still didn't have any good questions to ask. It felt like he was reaped of being able to take this time to speak to the legendary SOLDIER.

"There isn't a particular test that you go through, at least not like the one you just went through. Steady improvement over time compared to everyone else's results will determine who will rise and who will stay at their rank."

Genesis finally spoke up, "So you were compared amongst a few others, and they saw that you were the best so they promoted you?" He made it sound like it was a cheap ordeal or something. Unfortunately, Genesis hadn't realized how demeaning his words were until he spoke them. Damn, he should just keep his mouth shut.

"For my case, no. They already knew I was better than everyone else. The only reason they promoted me was because the President was tired of seeing me amongst the 2nd class when he knew my skill level was further than anyone else." Sephiroth still didn't look offended from Genesis's question. In fact, Genesis could swear he had deflected everything rather easily. "Anymore questions?"

"Do we get to see a demonstration of those skills?" someone asked. The others chuckled slightly and agreed.

Then it came, that slightly timid smile that played on Sephiroth's lips. Genesis had instantly noticed it the moment the group started to chuckled. Was he shy? Embarrassed at their words? He didn't understand why…

"Perhaps there will be one during your training sessions. I cannot determine if there will be one or not." His eyes scanned over them. "If that's all I must be leaving. You have the freedom to do as you please for now. Be sure to arrive at your designated areas tomorrow at 6 o'clock sharp. Don't be late, you will be instantly removed from Headquarters." With that Sephiroth had left the area and the group started to murmur together in a clustered group. Genesis felt pretty beat even though he didn't do anything.

"I say we go celebrate at the titty bar," someone suggested and the others whooped with the thought of going to see naked women. Genesis and Angeal exchanged glances. They were still pretty young, they hadn't gone to any bars together. Then again, they couldn't in Banora. Everyone knew each other, it'd be awkward to be sitting next to an old teacher watching a classmate perform a dance before them.

Angeal jabbed him with an elbow, "We should go."

"Are you serious?" Genesis questioned his friend, never seeing Angeal as one to jump to see a naked woman before. His friend was rather well reserved, and his morals usually stopped him from doing anything disgusting. He remembered the time that he tried to get Angeal to watch the girls in their class go skinny dipping once. That was quite the adventure. Angeal rationalized they'd get caught or would let it slip at some inappropriate time, but Genesis had talked him into it. The show wasn't all that great, but Genesis had enjoyed spying on the women nonetheless.

"Considering it won't be anyone we know, I think it's worth seeing what the city girls can do compared to the country women we're used to."

"All right…I'm up for it."

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It was later that night, Sephiroth was in his room checking over the schedule he was given. He was supposed to take this opportunity and help out those who were training to get into SOLDIER. Well, it wasn't an opportunity, more like an order. He'd have to get up early and watch them take their tests, and then round them up and send them all over the place to start their real training. It wasn't like they gave him a real job, just to stand there and point at places for them to go. Didn't he have better things to do?

Some other SOLDIER could have easily done this job, but no…they chose him. Why?

He heard the crowd of trainees making their way into their rooms, mumbling and laughing over something they had just finished. Sephiroth didn't move from his spot on the bed knowing whatever they had done wasn't really any of his business. He set the schedule down on the bedside table and pulled up a book to read, but he didn't get into it very long when his attention was brought back over to his door. He was curious about their activities. Being in Midgar for a long time didn't reap any benefits for socializing, especially when he spent all of his time working for Shinra. Sephiroth was lucky when he did get to stop and talk to some of the others, though they often stiffened around him, or they played him off as a jerk. It was always utmost respect toward his face, of course, but when others weren't around to see them act he could tell some were either overexcited to hear him talk or completely put off. There was no in-between, it was either they were a fan or they believed he cheated to be the top dog. He wondered what this group would think of him? They were the very first recruits, actually, to get into SOLDIER. Or at least the training. The group that Sephiroth had been working with had always been there, and the program hadn't actually started that long ago. He hoped this group would be far friendlier than the guys he worked with previously, though he wondered if he wanted to bother with friends. SOLDIER may be a group, but it wasn't like they ever interacted that often. Sephiroth was always busy on missions that he never talked to half the people. Not that they had much to say anyway…

Sephiroth closed the book and put it off to the side. He should sleep and stop worrying about the underdogs. Slowly he relaxed into his bed and closed his eyes.

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I hate physicals. They're so weird and awkward. Early morning ones don't help, either. And having so many people around you just makes it that much worse.

Genesis was standing around waiting to be called in with the others. They were all tired from last night. They saw plenty of breasts and curved women to make anyone's night, really. Genesis even got a really good lap dance. He mostly remembered tits being in his face with a woman slinking all over him. It was like heaven.

"Rhapsodos," the figure called out and Genesis came into the room. "Strip completely."

So here I now am, stripping for someone to poke, grab, fondle, and stab me. I'd rather have that lap dance all over again.

"Stand right here. Put your hands on these plates, and look forward."

"Uh, what's this do?" Genesis asked cautiously as he put his feet down on the markings and placed his hands where he was told.

"Full body scan. Now stay very still." After the physical testing was done, which Genesis was glad to at least put some boxers on, they shooed him into a different room to get dressed. He wasn't watching where he was going and unfortunately slammed into Sephiroth.

"Uh." Genesis fell silent for a moment to try and explain what he just did. "That was…an interesting physical."

Sephiroth stared at Genesis for a moment and then nodded, "You won't have to relive that moment ever again unless you break a bone or become gravely ill."

"That's good to know…did they tell you that?"

Sephiroth shook his head, "I found out the hard way."

Angeal snorted at his words, "What happened that you had to go through that again?"

Sephiroth glanced over at him, "I broke a finger."

Genesis fixed his shirt onto himself quickly with the rest of his clothes and frowned at the news. "A finger? That's it?"

Someone else spoke up as well, "Felt like I was posing for a porno in there." Everyone chuckled except for Sephiroth who watched as the remaining boys started to come in and get dressed.

"Your tests will be finished processing within the hour, but until then we're not authorized to head into your training areas in case some of you fall into a bad category."

Angeal spoke up, "Bad category?" Made it sound like there was evil in someone's blood.

"All SOLDIER operatives have mako in them. If your blood doesn't accept the mako very well, we're not going to risk injecting you with it."

What exactly does the mako do? I knew we used it for energy, but I wasn't aware of injections into humans," someone spoke up, far more concerned now about what might happen.

"Yeah, you can get mako poisoning, can't you? So isn't it unhealthy to do that?" Another person asked concerned, and soon the entire group of boys started to mutter and talk about the issue.

This was the part that always caused the most trouble. Everyone always found mako as a controversial issue at some point, even if they did support the use of it. He wondered how many of them would quit and find a different job or who would be unable to survive the injections. He remembered the original group getting pretty ill right afterward, but the strength improvements were very noticeable. "Please, it's nothing you need to get worried over. Mako poisoning only happens when you take a large amount of mako, which overrides and poisons your bloodstream. The amount we're using is far less than a lethal dosage. Mako is used as a strength enhancer, which helps raise endurance, magic use, and agility, amongst other things. Those of you who pass the blood test are completely safe in taking in mako. Those of you who aren't will obviously not be given it, but that also means you are inept from SOLDIER."

"What about mako addiction? I've heard of some weirdo people having problems with that."

Sephiroth nodded, "Mako addiction does happen if you use mako regularly. But we're not, this only needs to enter your bloodstream once. So unless you're doing something with mako on your own time, you won't be addicted or craving for more."

Genesis raised his hand slightly, "Does it hurt?" An honest question, it wasn't like he wanted to go through something terribly excruciating.

"Every individual has a different side effect. More than likely most of you will get sick, but it clears up within a few days. The worst result I've seen was nausea, which caused the person to pass out from the lack of eating anything." Sephiroth crossed his arms over his chest, "Anymore concerns?"

"Yeah. What the hell are we going to do for an hour?" The others agreed.

Sephiroth smirked slightly at their words of confusion. It was kind of funny how they seemed more relaxed around him now, he wasn't used to that. "Socialize, I'm sure all of you are good at that."

"Can we ask you more questions?" Not that Genesis had anymore to ask, but opening the floor to asking anything to Sephiroth sounded like a good idea. Maybe the others had something to ask him as well?

Sephiroth glanced back at Genesis. He assumed he was going to be like all the other fans he had, where they had nothing important to ask but felt the need to pry through everything anyway. "Depends, is it a personal question?"

Genesis wasn't expecting that question. "Well…um…I don't know, are you opposed to personal questions?"

"I suppose it would depend on how personal it was."

Someone decided to speak up, "Have you been to the local bar? Those girls got some nice tits." Most of the guys tried not to laugh, but a few couldn't hold it in. The fact that anyone would even ask Sephiroth that question seemed comical in their mind. Then again, Sephiroth's expression did seem to make it that much better.

"No, I haven't, but thank you for the…information." Maybe this lot of new guys wasn't going to be all that easy to adjust to? He was still pretty young, and most of these figures looked older than him.

"You probably have a girlfriend, right? That's why. His girlfriends stingy about those places," another interjected.

"No, no girlfriend," Sephiroth remarked casually. Oh how he should have kept his mouth shut.

"You're single?" Genesis questioned this, thinking Sephiroth had a secret harem of women hiding in his room. "Seriously?" Angeal gave Genesis a jab with his elbow to not push the subject. Upsetting Sephiroth could be their very downfall.

"Yes, I'm completely serious. I might as well inform all of you now that if you do make it into SOLDIER you will find it hard to keep up relations with anyone. So tell your parents that if you don't call for months they shouldn't get upset, and you might as well tell your girlfriends that you're picking a career over them. SOLDIER is a group dedicated to the Planet. You travel thousands of miles to protect what we cherish most. Sometimes you will be gone for what may seem like eternity, and other times you will be traveling all over to the point you won't remember the last place you had stopped at. This is our Headquarters, but the higher you rise in ranks the more often you will see the outside world more than this place. This goes the same for people. Your connections will be lost except for by phone, and your phone should be used for professional purposes. So, if you're afraid of saying goodbye to your girlfriends or your mother…then this job clearly isn't for you."

The motivational speech did damper everyone's mood quite a bit, but at least it was truthful. One man scratched his head slightly and pulled on the beard he was sporting, "Hmm…should probably talk this over more with my wife."

Sephiroth nodded, "That would be a wise decision." Didn't anyone ever read the information center applications before coming into a job? They all seemed so blind to the harsh situations amongst them.

"So, what did your mom think when you told her you were hitching up to save the world and you weren't going to see her?" It was another younger boy who looked like he needed some guidance in making his decisions.

But Sephiroth didn't know how to answer that. He never saw his mother before, and he didn't know anything about her. He could just tell the truth, but he found the information unnecessary to reiterate to the crowd. Then again, if he deflected the question it'd only make them more curious. Although, curiosity could easily be pushed away. "That's nothing you need to worry about. All of you should just wait the hour and see if you made it in anyway before worrying about losing contact with people. Besides, the training sessions will be your hardest task to get through."

Genesis frowned at those words. Hardest part was training? Man, what had he got himself into. "Did the group ahead of us have a lot of trouble getting through?"

"The group ahead of you didn't enter the way you did. SOLDIER wasn't an actual group at the time, but our head figures here at Shinra recognized that some excelled far beyond others. There were tests for the entire infantrymen squad, which more than half were unable to do. From the small group that could do the tests, half of them couldn't pass the requirements needed—the ones which you're being tested for today. After more training and several handful of missions, a fifth of that group dropped out or died. Though the deaths were due to carelessness, nothing that the rest of us could handle. Beyond that, only a few made it into 2nd class, and obviously only one made it to 1st."

"What did you do differently that helped you get stronger?" someone asked.

"It wasn't necessarily different, but I took the training seriously. The worst thing you can do during these sessions is give up. Obviously your body has a limit and you shouldn't strain past that, but once things get uncomfortable most people back down. You'll never improve if you have low expectations."

"What if we just have a low pain threshold?" another person asked. The figure was standing beside Genesis, and the redhead wondered how much pain he could take. He hadn't gone through anything excruciating before. Would his time here be like that?

Sephiroth glanced over with a very small, sly smile. "After a few beatings I'm sure you'll become more tolerable." The way he had said it, so cynical yet truthful, had made Genesis's skin crawl. The dangers of this job were finally starting to surface. Genesis hoped that he could make it through the training, especially with Angeal by his side.

When the hour was over a girl entered in and looked at Sephiroth, "The test results are in." Everyone tensed wondering if they made it in, hoping that their reaction to mako would be fine. "It's a good batch, everyone is able to take the shot when the time comes."

Sephiroth looked over at the large group of completely astonished trainees. "You all passed, congratulations." A sigh of relief and several happy remarks were exchanged amongst the group. "Now to go on with training. How many of you remember where you're going first?" The entire group didn't raise their hands. "Of course. There's a list outside that door. Each station is labeled with a number, and you rotate clockwise, so the numbers should ascend. I'll be going around watching how you perform. It's important that you make a good, first attempt. I know most of you might want to do terrible the first time and then 'dramatically' improve with each session, but that will only cause more problems for you in the long run. If there are no questions then proceed."

OoOoOoOoOoOoO

Training has gone on for three straight months. Our small group has banded together to keep each other's spirits up, but sometimes it feels like we're never going to get into the actual elite group. Sephiroth doesn't check up on us that much as he used to in the beginning. He told us he had several missions to do so he didn't know how often he'd see us. Losing his attention did make us falter, but nonetheless we continued to proceed with our dreams. Sometimes we're even forced outside for our training, out in the bleak streets of Midgar to work our asses off before everyone. Some of the guys are nervous in front of large groups, myself being one of them. I continue to focus and keep my cool though, I know I can only rise like a star if everyone looks at me. Angeal has basically become our guru during sessions. I always knew he was a good motivational speaker to me, but it's always so surprising how he can advise everyone with such ease. I'm still envious of that talent. Sometimes I wonder if he's ever jealous of me at times, but then I remember Angeal doesn't have a bad quality about him, and jealousy happens to be 'sinful.'

Today is just another day. Or at least I thought it would be. Training, training, more training, and painful sleep filled with haunting nightmares about training. Every single day it's been like that, and the more this goes on the less sleep I get. I've been told that the fitter you become the less sleep you need because you have all the energy you can take, but I think they forget to mention that the exercise happens in your dreams as well, which makes you not want to sleep.

We've arrived in our normal starting room to stretch and get some small talk in before we're forced into the continuous circle of constant training. Pull-ups, squats, running on treadmills, or up and down the stairs. It's beginning to become painful just thinking about it. Yet I was so stuck on the thought of training I hadn't realize that Sephiroth was there today.

"This is a pleasant surprise," Angeal remarked seeing Sephiroth standing there. Genesis turned his head to ask what but finally set eyes on Sephiroth. Where did he come from?

Sephiroth watched the group gather before gently crossing his arms over his chest, "Today is your final day of training. You'll go through the cycle once and that will be marked as your final test score. Once it's put into the database, your averages and your improvements will be displayed for you. If you have improved enough to fit our standards, you will be given an actual 3rd class outfit and will be lucky enough to say that you're a part of SOLDIER. Any questions?"

Genesis nodded, "Yeah, where have you been?" A few guys snorted at his words, as if he was a nagging wife to a husband that returned late at night from the bar.

Sephiroth didn't think he had to answer that question, but he didn't want to be snippy about it. "If you pass I'll tell you. Anything else?" No one spoke up. "All right, then go train and come back here when you've finished."

None of them wasted time in getting to their stations, and after vigorous and tedious tension throughout all of their muscles, trying to work harder than they've ever done before, they had finished the daily grind and came forth to find Sephiroth standing there still waiting for them. "Your results will be appearing on that wall," he pointed to his left, "it'll show your scores for the entire time, but you should pay the most attention to your first attempt compared to your averages, your last score, and then the overall percent increase." When the scores came up everyone took a moment to silently stare at what they had gotten, absorbing it all in. It didn't make much sense to Genesis aside from numbers becoming other numbers. After several minutes had passed Genesis began to compare his scores to others, wondering if he did better than anyone. It was as if Sephiroth had been reading his mind, because he then spoke up about it. "Now they'll highlight who came first, second, and third in highest improvement along with highest strength." The scores changed and showed Angeal's, Genesis's, and someone else's in that order for highest improvement. Genesis felt pretty good. High improvement meant a better chance in getting into SOLDIER, didn't it? Then it changed to highest strength, Genesis went down to third but Angeal stayed the same for first place, and the second place winner was a different person from last time. Sephiroth almost congratulated them, but another slide soon popped up. "Hmm…now they're comparing the three ranks to my score when I went through training."

Genesis was pretty surprised at how high Sephiroth's numbers were. He noticed he beat him in one area, and to his disappointment it was in squats. Heck, he beat everyone in that area. "I wonder what your worst score was…"

Sephiroth watched as the screen went off before he brought his attention to Genesis, "Perhaps I'll tell you later. As for right now, those who have passed will be displayed. If your name appears, go through that door and get your uniforms and other necessities. If you don't pass, you're given the opportunity to get into an infantry position without any further training. If you're dissatisfied with that, you may leave after removing your things and signing off with Director Lazard through that door." He hesitated before glancing at the wall with everyone else. Once the names displayed he felt rather pleased that almost all of them got through.

Genesis was thankful his name popped up, but he was expecting it to after seeing where he ranked amongst the group. Angeal and he were the first to go into the next room and get their new uniforms plus pamphlets on what they will be doing in the future. It didn't take long for the rest of the group that passed to come in with Sephiroth as well. "You're given today off, so do as you please," Sephiroth remarked. Most of the guys left quickly, muttering about going drinking and back to the titty bar. But Genesis hung back to talk to Sephiroth.

"So where did you go?"

Sephiroth had already forgotten about Genesis's questions, so when the man beckoned him to answer he felt displeased by him. "I was with the President on a mission. The Turks work as the usual body guards that stand there but don't know what they're doing, and I linger and actually do the muscle-work of the job. I can't tell you where because that's confidential."

"Understandable. What of your worst day in training?"

Sephiroth noticed the only people around were Genesis and Angeal. Not that he wanted anyone to know, but it seemed easier to answer then push the question off. "I was ill during the entire day, so I attempted to keep going. It didn't work so well."

"How?"

"I threw up at every station I went to. They pulled me after the third time it happened."

Genesis thought it was funny, imagining the legendary hero too sick to workout. "That sucks, but at least you got to rest."

Sephiroth didn't answer that, only glanced at the time, "Tomorrow you'll get your shots and will have another day off. Spend your time off wisely, you won't get vacation very often in this line of work."

Angeal smirked at the comment before punching Genesis, "Come on, we need to celebrate. You can gawk and ask questions later."

Genesis followed angrily, "I wasn't gawking."

OoOoOoOoOoOoO

Sephiroth was reading in his room, much like he usually did when he heard, once again, the parade of members walking in the hallway. They were rather loud this time around, but Sephiroth paid no attention to it. He only hoped that every night wouldn't be like that. He went to bed soon after the crowd had returned, and woke up early to shower and prepare for the day. He had a feeling that someone was going to get really sick with the mako, as it happened in the last group as well.

He arrived early as usual and watched as the boys started to file in slowly, but early enough it didn't seem to make much a difference. "You'll be stationed at a table and given a dose of mako. We advise that, since you get today off as well, you take it easy and don't overexert yourself. The mako needs to run through your system for awhile before it settles. If you work yourself up the cycling could become extremely poisonous to your body, and you'll either become paralyzed or die. So don't take this warning too lightly." His eyes scanned their faces before raising an eyebrow, "Any questions?" None. "Then go into that room and find yourself a spot."

Genesis took a seat at a station where some woman was sitting. She stared at him for a minute before she smirked, "You look pretty young to be in SOLDIER."

Genesis shrugged slightly, "Not too young…I'm the same age as Sephiroth."

"Oh yes, I always forget how young he is, too. His nature doesn't seem like that of a youngster if you ask me," she cooed, picking up Genesis's arm with her soft hands and wiped away at a vein. Genesis thought the woman looked to be in her fifties, slightly heavy, but still seemed rather sweet. "Have any charm with the ladies?" She had asked so leisurely, the way Genesis would probably talk to his own mother.

"Um…well yes, charm, but I haven't dated anyone recently." It was truthful, he last dated a girl in high school. That relationship wound up crazy enough as it was…

"If you ask me, you should be teaching Sephiroth some of that. He might be able to teach everyone how to be macho and strong, but I think someone needs to give him a shove in the lady killer department. He's got the looks, but he never talks."

Genesis smirked slightly, "You mean he's shy?"

"Yes! Oh yes." She grabbed up a needle and slowly inserted it in, injecting the odd fluids into Genesis. "Utterly shy."

"I kind of guessed…he seems…timid in some of his photos."

"Very. It's kind of cute, but really. Most women want a strong man physically and personality-wise."

Genesis watched her stick a sticky, adhesive bandage over the spot where the needle had been inserted. His eyes glanced at the design on it and almost laughed that they had the Shinra emblem displayed. "What if he's not interested in getting a girl?"

She chuckled, "You can't be serious. Look at him, doesn't he seem like the type that wants women all over him?" Genesis looked over at Sephiroth who had been directing his attention to a different table, but as soon as they looked Sephiroth whipped his eyes to them. Genesis didn't look away while answering her question.

"I don't mean that he doesn't like girls, I'm just…saying that maybe he doesn't want to bother with one in his line of business?" Genesis rubbed his arm carefully before getting up.

"Perhaps. Well I'll be seeing you around, sugar, you take care. Don't be wrestling around with that stuff inside you, all right? Take it easy! And go teach him how to make a move, will ya?"

Genesis gave a small nervous laugh at her loud exclamations before finding Angeal. "That was interesting." Angeal raised an eyebrow for him to continue. "That lady told me to teach Sephiroth how to hit on a girl. She said that he was 'too shy' for his own good."

Angeal snorted. "Wow. You know, it would be entertaining if you did start giving him tips. I'm not sure if he'd be livid or ignore you."

"I just got into SOLDIER, do you really think Sephiroth is going to want to bother with me anymore than he's been forced to? Now that he doesn't have to watch over us I'm sure he'll drop off the face of the earth and do his own thing."

"Well you better start making some good impressions right now to make him want to stay around more. I thought your whole goal in getting here was, in some part, to be around him."

"What? No. I just wanted to beat him, not be friends with him. From now on, we're like enemies. This is a complete competition going on."

"He already beat you," Angeal remarked.

"No…there's still a chance of taking over. There's always a chance that he'll fall out of favor with everyone." Genesis and Angeal then walked past him without saying a word to the figure.

Sephiroth didn't flinch at the quiet behavior. He was used to everyone avoiding talking to him. The Director had told him it was an intimidation factor that others get when they're in the presence of someone greater than him, though Sephiroth hadn't seen any of them freeze up over the last few times he had been around. He shouldn't worry, everyone was too busy in other conversations to think about him. Once everyone had pooled out of the room he had gone to his own. His duty was to make sure the others were fine after the injections, and they all could easily find him within his room. Sephiroth picked up his book and started to read again.

Two hours later he received a sharp knock on his door. He rose, setting the book down and opening the door up, "Yes?" It was Angeal, he looked relatively worried.

"Genesis is starting to turn green, is that normal?"

Green. That didn't sound healthy. "Let me have a look." Sephiroth followed Angeal to their room and found that Genesis wasn't there. But they heard noises in the bathroom, and Sephiroth could automatically tell he was probably vomiting. When the boy came out he did look pretty green.

"I'm fine, I swear," Genesis muttered when Sephiroth pulled him over to sit down on the bed.

"Well of course you're fine, you would have died ten minutes after the injection if it was bad for you. Tell me what you're feeling."

Genesis rubbed his head, "Uhhhh. Nausea…" Obviously. "Headache. Um…really…tired, it's hard to focus." Genesis thought about the rest of the issues, as if it wasn't coming right to him. "The muscles here really hurt," he pointed at his abdomen, "and my arm is stiff." Sephiroth pulled out a flashlight from the bedside table and shined it into Genesis's eyes. Of course the figure retracted from it. "Ow, do you mind? That's not helping."

"That's painful?"

"Yeah, it is."

Sephiroth put the flashlight back before grabbing Genesis's arm to check out the damage. It was bruising around the bandage, and when he put slight pressure on it Genesis would wince. "Sore?"

"Yes, very."

"Lay back." Sephiroth watched Genesis slowly fall back on the bed. He could see the color of his eyes beginning to brighten slightly from the mako. At least that looked normal. He reached over and started to press Genesis's stomach, but the boy reacted quickly by lurching away. "Does that hurt?"

Genesis held his stomach, "Yes, and it also tickles."

"I have to do it to see if your organs are okay. If it's very painful that could be a problem."

Genesis whined, "Okay." He leaned back and Sephiroth continued his pressing, watching Genesis squirm and twitch when he hit a tender spot. He only arrived at the top of his hip bone before Genesis straightened up. "It doesn't hurt any further down."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm positive!" Genesis rubbed his sides, "It's painful but not that painful."

"Yes, given the fact that you didn't scream when I put pressure on you, it's obvious to see that your symptoms are normal. You just have a strong reaction to the mako, but you should be fine."

Genesis sighed and curled back up in bed, "It's okay if I sleep, right?"

"Yes, of course." Sephiroth looked at Angeal, "If anything worsens just come and get me."

Sephiroth had thought it would be just like he remembered last time. One person got sick and easily recovered in a few days. But he hadn't bargained for what was to come…

It was later that night, no one had bothered him after Genesis's morning incident and everyone was asleep. Even Sephiroth was tucked into his covers asleep in bed. But the opening of his door had caused his eyes to snap wide open and he turned quickly to see who was entering. The door made it's way in a soft, slow sweep all the way open before coming to a stop. There was Genesis, standing there, but something was different about him. His eyes were half open, and his head tilted downward. The rest of his body seemed sluggish or fluid-like in movement. Sephiroth wanted to question what he needed, but recognized that Genesis was asleep. So, was sleep walking normal for him, or was this happening because of the mako sickness? The boy moved his way in slowly, steps very clunky and clumsy. He kept going, moving around the foot of the bed before stopping near the window. Sephiroth sat up more. Maybe he should direct him back to bed? He got up to slide beside Genesis. His eyes looked so weird being open like that… "Genesis?"

The redhead turned his head slowly to him before walking in his direction. He tripped and all of his dead weight slammed into Sephiroth. The 1st class SOLDIER couldn't keep his balance, and he went falling backward into his closet with Genesis on top of him. Unfortunately, the closet was probably the most crap-filled area in Sephiroth's room. He didn't keep it very clean, and things started to pile up in it from day one. So Sephiroth was being jabbed from many different angles, and the pain only worsened since Genesis was now utterly passed out on him. He struggled to pull his ass out of some odd bucket or something that he was in while trying to free himself from Genesis's body. It didn't take him long to stand up and watch Genesis fall on a pair of boots sloppily. At least no one was there to witness that, even he felt somewhat embarrassed by his lack of preparedness in catching the guy. He was 1st class, he should be able to do these things in a snap.

"Come on, you need to get back to bed." Sephiroth remarked to the sleeping figure, not that he'd get a response back. Gently Genesis was scooped up and Sephiroth moved to get out of the atrocious closet, but Genesis stretched himself and grabbed onto the doorframe.

"Mom, I don't want to leave my room yet," he muttered.

"This isn't your room it's my closet."

Genesis kept his grip still. "You…can't lie to me…mom."

"I'm not your mother, it's Sephiroth."

Genesis twitched slightly but made no movement to let go. Sephiroth sighed and dropped him back in the rubble of his closet. He didn't want to fight with him at this hour. He got back in bed and passed out, hoping Genesis would wake up and leave on his own accord.

OoOoOoOoOoO

Angeal woke up early that morning and found Genesis gone from his bed. He searched inside the bathroom and then went out to talk to Sephiroth. He entered in to find the man sleeping, but he woke up rather quickly when Angeal took a step closer to try and wake him up. "Sephiroth, Genesis disappeared."

Sephiroth nodded slightly, "He's in the closet."

Angeal wasn't sure what he meant by that. What closet? His eyes went over to Sephiroth's that was neatly tucked into the corner and he looked back down at the 1st class figure curiously. "Your closet?"

"Yes."

Angeal walked over and saw the redhead curled up with a boot as a pillow, some armor covering half his head, and two pairs of pants that had wrapped about him in a weird pattern. "Genesis, wake up." He knocked off the random assortment of clothing and pulled him to sit up. "Hey, speak to me."

Genesis rubbed at his eye, "Mmm…pff…"

"What?"

"I…think I'm going to puke."

Sephiroth heard that from his bed. He got up instantaneously and grabbed Genesis out of Angeal's grasp, putting him before the toilet. It was probably a good thing he did, because just a few moments after the redhead got ungodly sick. Sephiroth turned his attention to Angeal curiously. "Does he sleepwalk often?"

Angeal shook his head, "I've never heard of him doing that before."

Sephiroth grabbed a washcloth and drenched it in cold water before handing it to Genesis, "Here."

Genesis wiped his mouth and then felt his head, "I'm hot."

"You do look a little pink," Angeal commented. "Let's get you in your own bed."

Angeal pulled the boy up as best as he could, but they all noticed how wobbly Genesis's legs were. Sephiroth bent down and grabbed the man's calves, "Your legs look numb."

Genesis looked down, "They kind of are."

Sephiroth pulled him over and sat him on the bed, "Just sit here for a minute." He grabbed up his phone from the nightstand and quickly dialed a number. "It's Sephiroth. Send a nurse to my room, one of the newest members is experiencing severe side effects from the mako injection."

The same woman that Genesis received the injection from arrived into his room. She was rather surprised to see all three of them hardly wearing anything. "My my, this is a pleasant surprise! I wish you boys would call me up like this more often. Now let me see the poor thing," she shooed Angeal from her way and started to eye up Genesis a bit. "Well it's a simple fix, we'll give him a dose of medicine to ease the side effects, and he should be perfectly fine by the end of the week." She went through her items she brought up and pulled out a bottle, sticking the needle in and sucking up the medicine. She stared at it thoroughly before tapping it softly and letting it squirt out before she poked Genesis and injected him with it. "How's that feel, handsome?"

Genesis rubbed his arm, "Painful."

"Poor thing," she sympathized. Gently she kissed the top of his forehead before turning to the other two. "Anymore sick ones?"

Sephiroth shook his head, Angeal had no idea.

"Well, all right then. You know," the nurse remarked. "You should get some ladies in here! Have a cute little party all in your undies for the girls to enjoy!" Her eyes went directly to Sephiroth, "I want to hear the girls describe all about you in bed, I have yet to hear that delight, and I don't have forever to live you know."

When she left after that monologue Genesis had to speak up about it. "You're a virgin??" It was completely unheard of to him. Sephiroth not grabbing a girl and showing her a thing or two just seemed weird. He would at least expect he picked a girl up from his fanbase or something, even if he declared that he had no time for a girlfriend.

"You seem to be feeling well," Sephiroth retorted. "You should go rest in your own room now."

Genesis slowly got up as he moved toward the door and he glanced back at Sephiroth. "The others will be so surprised to hear that."

Angeal had already made it out of his room, but he turned back to see how Sephiroth would react. It…wasn't pretty. Sephiroth just grabbed Genesis by the hair and smashed him against the doorframe, then came in close for the intimidating factor. "Say a word about me and I'll make your life here very miserable. I don't tolerate rumors or gossip. We're grown men. Now act like one." He shoved Genesis out then and closed his door.

Angeal grabbed onto his friend and smirked. Nothing like seeing Genesis get pushed around to brighten his day. "So I guess it's a secret between the three of us, huh?"

Genesis nodded, "Yeah…for now, anyway."

"Oh boy, do I even want to ask?"

Genesis smiled, "I've got ways in making it known without having to say it out loud."

OoOoOoOoOoOoO

My goal in life isn't meant to make Sephiroth's life miserable. I don't wish any harm upon him, I'm just curious whether he will truthfully answer to us as a group rather than some of us individuals. I arranged for a few of the other guys in our 3rd class group to ask him some questions when he meets with us in the morning. Supposedly Sephiroth is only doing this for the first week before we can govern ourselves. I had to plan everything perfectly and quickly before he vanished from us for good.

"Any questions?" Sephiroth had asked, the usual way to end his speeches. Someone actually raised their hand this time, something that rarely ever happened. "Yes?" Perhaps they needed him to repeat something, or they were confused about a word he said?

"I've got a personal question, sir, regarding my relationship with my girlfriend. Given your professional opinion, I was curious if you think it's okay that I have sex with her? Because I wasn't sure if abstinence was best or if you had experience in what type of way I should go about doing this. I don't necessarily want kids as of yet."

Most of the group wasn't sure whether to feel awkward or to laugh, and Sephiroth had no idea what he had just gotten himself into. "If you don't want kids then clearly abstinence is best."

"Yeah, I suppose…I just thought it'd be a celebratory thing for us to get it on since I'm in SOLDIER now."

Another person spoke up, "Oh, yeah…you should get it on."

Sephiroth wasn't sure whether he even wanted to comment on that. "How long have you been dating her?"

"Two years now."

Well that was better than what he was thinking. "If you want it that badly then use protection."

The guy next to Genesis snorted, "What? That totally ruins the moment, it doesn't feel as great."

This wasn't getting any better. "Then ask her to get protected."

One of the younger kids perked up. "Wait, girls can get protection? How does that work?"

Sephiroth glanced over at him. Seriously? He tried to think of a good way to put it, but there was nothing. "You're the reason why teenagers get pregnant and end up in financial debt."

"I am?"

"Yes, because you're a moron." The group started to snort and laugh at Sephiroth's cruel words. "Now if there aren't anymore questions, you should go to a nurse and figure out why you should never have kids."

Someone else spoke up, "What if I've been dating my girl for a few weeks? Then what? Do you think I should wait?"

"Yes."

Another member had to disagree. "Whoa, I think we all know that we get girls to get some ass, right?" The group agreed. "Sephiroth, you couldn't honestly think this is about 'love' and that bullshit, right?"

This was starting to remind Sephiroth of the other group. They always pointed out how he was 'at fault' because he clearly didn't understand what was reality and what was fantasy. He always believed that people got into relationships either for love or because it was forced. The whole 'sex' thing never made sense in his mind. Why was it such a big deal? "You wanted my opinion, I gave it. If you don't like it then don't ask next time."

"Well if you think girls are for 'love' and not just sexing up, then does that mean you've never had sex? Because you did comment that you've never dated a girl before."

Genesis felt that beautiful moment come out as the pressure was on Sephiroth. This was probably the greatest thing to witness. It was either going to be a simple yes or no. But how he would display it, or maybe give explanations on his decisions to cover up it all. Now that would be the victory for Genesis. Seeing Sephiroth try to keep the title of 'great hero' when he's not so great at all.

"Correct," Sephiroth remarked casually. Genesis was somewhat stunned. Just like that?

"Seriously?"

"Yes. I enjoy killing people more than I enjoy a person's presence. With that, I also love seeing my lower-ranked operatives in pain. Now that you've brought it up to me, we'll start training extra early tomorrow. All of you be here at four. Don't be late. You're dismissed."

Genesis began to follow the others out. Wow. He wasn't sure what to think. The fact that Sephiroth would rather run someone through with his sword than have a friendly conversation with them was slightly irking.

OoOoOoOoOoOoO

Angeal groaned as the alarm went off. Early morning practice even made him hate Genesis. He scooped up some clothes and quickly changed, elbowing Genesis as hard as he could to get him up. "Come on, dickwad, we have training to do."

Genesis whimpered slightly, "Right now?" He had naturally stayed up pretty late and had no energy whatsoever. He fumbled on some clothes and tried to sway his hair the right way. "God it's early."

"Yeah, that's what happens when you piss off the only 1st class SOLDIER around here. Now hurry up."

They arrived amongst the others to find Sephiroth already there. It was as if he didn't sleep and was busy preparing for this very moment. To Genesis, he wouldn't be surprised if Sephiroth thought the entire thing out. He probably wanted to rip a new hole in all of them.

"Good morning," Sephiroth remarked cynically. The rest muttered it back. "Today is going to be a test of your endurance. There will be three tests. The person who lasts the longest won't have to do the remaining tests. The people who wind up being last…well…you'll be staying after for something far more exciting." He pointed at a wall, "Find a spot and do a wall-sit."

Everyone went and found a spot on the wall and scooted down so their legs made a 90 degree angle. They pressed their backs against the wall, and small talk ensued.

"So how was your guys' nights?" one gentleman asked.

"Pretty good, ate some great food at the nice restaurant near LOVELESS Avenue."

Genesis ignored the chattering and focused on the endurance part. I can do this, I should be fine. Patience. Oh dear Goddess my legs are starting to burn.

Sephiroth watched them carefully and noticed how Genesis's legs were already wiggling slightly. Just as he had planned. He knew that Genesis had put everyone up to the task of asking him questions yesterday, he wasn't a moron. He made it pretty obvious when everyone beside himself and his friend didn't talk. Luckily, Sephiroth knew Genesis was weak from the mako injection and its sickness on him. He wouldn't be back to full health until later this week, so he knew that taking advantage now was his golden opportunity. The boy was bound to lose all three, or at least one of them. And if it came to it, Sephiroth had something planned for the losers that would ensure that the boy lost.

Genesis ignored the chatter still, though he was beginning to feel really sick again. Maybe the strain of his muscles was making him nauseous? Oh boy. "I think I'm going to puke again."

Sephiroth pointed to the door, "Bathroom is down the hall." Genesis got to the door, but it didn't stay in. He lost it all over the floor. Sephiroth turned his attention to Genesis surprised at how quickly that happened. "Or you can use the floor, that works just as well."

Angeal got up from his position and walked over to Genesis, "Maybe you should go lay down instead if you're getting sick again."

Genesis thought it over. To him it sounded like a really good idea, but to Sephiroth, he was just getting started. "If Genesis wants to forfeit for all the challenges," Sephiroth replied coolly.

Genesis stared at him as he had wiped off his mouth, watching someone come over to clean up the mess he made. "Seriously? What if I do, that just makes me the loser, right? What did you have planned?"

Sephiroth gave a slight chuckle, "I can't reveal that. You either participate or you don't. Your fate is a mystery."

Genesis sighed and looked at the others who were still doing the wall-sit. He glanced back at Sephiroth before shrugging, "Fine, I forfeit."

Sephiroth glanced at the others, "The rest of you can go back to bed." The group thanked Genesis's decision to sacrifice himself for the group and quickly left. Sephiroth noticed Angeal was hesitant in leaving. "You as well. Don't worry, I won't break him."

Angeal glanced at Genesis then before leaving. He wasn't sure how well he could trust Sephiroth, they had just started and it seemed the way things were panning out, he was going to be a hardass to Genesis. Then again, Genesis deserved a good beating every once in awhile…

Sephiroth landed his eyes on the unsuspecting boy, his life now in the hands of the 1st class SOLDIER. He felt powerful right now, prepared to do anything he could to make Genesis suffer. But Genesis interrupted his cynical thoughts. "I'm going to the bathroom first."

So Sephiroth waited for him until the boy returned after awhile looking somewhat livelier. "Took you long enough."

"I brushed my teeth."

"You carry a toothbrush with you?"

"Yeah…don't you?"

Sephiroth shook his head, "Not while I'm around here, no."

"Hm…oh well. So what were you going to do to me? Beat me up? Was it because of the questions yesterday? I knew that was kind of obvious, but my curiosity was gnawing at me. See, every time I look at you I just think you're the type of guy who probably gets a lot of ass coming your way and you'd take 'em to town." Sephiroth's face was relatively straight, but there was some shock to his expression as Genesis spoke. "And that lady kept telling me to teach you how to hit on girls. That made me wonder if you were either just extremely shy, or…"

Sephiroth noticed he didn't speak up after that. "Or what?"

"Well you know…" Genesis looked around making sure that they were relatively alone. "I thought you were gay."

Sephiroth was relatively surprised at that. "Just because I don't sleep around with every girl I see you thought that?"

"There's nothing wrong with being gay, I was just guessing the shyness might have a link into that because it's not like it'd be easy for you to come out."

Sephiroth tried to respond but he ended up laughing instead, unable to even come up with a good comeback. Finally he sighed and shook his head, "No."

"No?"

"I'm interested in neither." He wasn't sure how to explain it, or why he should even bother telling Genesis this, but for some reason he felt like talking to him was the right thing to do. There was something about Genesis that did make him want to open up a bit. Perhaps because he wasn't as rude as the group before him? Angeal and Genesis did seem relatively relaxed around him.

"How? You don't ever think about sex?"

"No, I don't."

"Seriously? Like…never?" Genesis watched him shake his head. Man. This was weird. Genesis wondered what to say to that. "That's crazy. And not normal."

"It's normal to fantasize about something you'll never get?"

"Hey, careful what you say." Genesis glanced around and saw one girl working the night shift. "Okay, look at that chick right there. You can't tell me you don't find her attractive."

"What's there to like?"

"She's got nice eyes, slender fingers…look at those legs."

"She looks like a normal girl."

"How is that normal? She's pretty hot. She's perky. Nice shape to her."

Sephiroth shook his head, "I don't see your point."

Genesis sighed and pointed at another girl that was walking over to a copier. She had dropped a piece of paper and she bent down to pick it up. "Okay, look at that. She's got a nice ass. And those legs are pretty nice, too. And you can see down her shirt, she's got some nice cleavage going."

Sephiroth glanced from the girl to Genesis, "Is that all you do when you look at girls? Rate their bodies?"

"You have to think of personalities, too, but I mean…it's okay to look. I mean, don't you like looking at them?"

"They're nice people, but there's nothing to look at."

Genesis scratched his head. Seemed so weird. "You sure you don't like guys? Look at me, do you find me attractive?"

Sephiroth stared at Genesis, "You look normal."

"You're weird. Do you think you look normal?"

"No."

"Oh, so you only like yourself?"

"No, I'm merely saying that I don't look like everyone else."

Genesis thought it over before glancing back up at him, "So…if someone as unique as yourself showed up, would you be attracted to them?"

"I highly doubt it."

Genesis shook his head. He just didn't get it. How could someone have no attraction to anything? "Maybe if you got some action you'd realize that there's something to like."

Sephiroth continued to watch the workers in that dull expression he usually carried. "I have a reputation to keep, I'd rather not waste it on a 500 gil whore."

"Watch some porn."

Sephiroth looked down at him, "Just what I've always wanted to do. Watch two complete strangers have sex with each other."

"I'm making as many suggestions that I can come up with."

"I'm surprised you haven't offered yourself up considering you're so intent on this subject."

Genesis was shocked at his words. He wasn't sure whether to feel embarrassed or disgusted. "You might be 1st class, but I don't think I could get on all fours for your benefit."

"Really?" Sephiroth gave a thoughtful pause before turning his attention to Genesis. "I thought you were gay."

"What? Why? That's absurd and just…stupid."

"You're getting upset. What's the matter, is it true?"

"No! I'm acting rationally. You're claiming I'm something I'm not."

"It's rational to get upset over a small misconception?"

"Shut up." Genesis felt bitter. "I'm straight. At least I don't look like a girl."

Sephiroth chuckled, "I've already heard that one before. And I thought you'd be the creative type."

Genesis watched as Sephiroth started to move off and he readily followed. There was something about Sephiroth that made him want to keep bugging him. Was it just because he was the famous 1st class SOLDIER? No. It had to be something else. "Other people have made fun of you? That seems a bit unreal."

"Everyone has their enemies."

"Well I suppose, but here at Headquarters? I wouldn't expect you to have that problem."

Sephiroth looked Genesis directly in the eyes. There was something exchanged between them, something far friendlier than Genesis would have expected from the guy. It was like he was accepting him as a friend, or perhaps just a really good acquaintance.

"The group of guys before you, the ones that I've trained with this entire time…" Sephiroth gave a condescending shake of his head. "They all have something against me. If you're ever curious to hear any rumors about me, they're the ones to go to. They can make up anything on the spot. There may come a day where the guys from your group will join them as well. Who knows? Though it doesn't really matter. Our conflicts, perhaps personal, should never interfere with our work. As long as we remember that, then it matters not what they say. I have a duty to take care of, and it's far more important than trying to stop rumors from flowing."

They kept walking and talking, taking their time as they meandered throughout the building with no particular destination. It was starting to become morning, figures were starting to move about more often then not. But Genesis hadn't expected to meet any of the members that Sephiroth had spoken of. When Sephiroth had said they were good at rumors, he hadn't exactly let that sink in until a small group had already formed and swooped in for an attack. He wasn't paying attention, and unfortunately when the group blocked their way he just thought he should turn around and head the opposite direction. He was a lower class figure to the group of 2nds that stood before him, but luckily he was in Sephiroth's presence. Surely the man could bat this flock away easily enough.

"Hey Sephiroth, I see you've got a new piece of tail you're going after."

"Where'd you find this one? In the infantry squad?"

Genesis felt ashamed by those words. More so that he was wearing the correct uniform yet still being undermined, and the fact that they'd assume Sephiroth was after him. Yet Sephiroth took it in stride, like their words were nothing. "He's one of the few that passed through the testing for newer members. You knew that the President was having Director Lazard assemble more SOLDIER operatives."

One stepped forward to get a better look at Genesis, "I doubt he'll get past his lowly 3rd rank."

Genesis had to snap back at him. "You probably said the same thing about Sephiroth, but look where he's at."

The others chuckled and exchanged looks before landing their callous eyes back to him. "Don't tell me you look up to Sephiroth. The last guy that did that got his ass shot to death during a mission with him."

Sephiroth thought it over. It was halfway true. "On the contrary, I told him to lay low and stand back, and instead he got up and ran forward."

"If only you were a better leader."

"Leadership has nothing to do with an individual's listening ability. If you choose not to listen, then you choose no one as your leader except yourself. That is the first mistake."

"Listen to him," one jabbed, "trying to sound so intelligent. No one's listening, at least not to you. Why don't you go bone your new boyfriend? I'm surprised a 3rd rank would even bother with the likes of you, but I guess Lazard wants to let in a few pansies just to satisfy your hunger."

Sephiroth had kept his temper easily. He was accustomed to the badmouthing and the unnecessary lewd remarks often sent toward him. But Genesis, on the other hand, had never felt so insulted in his life. His life in Banora had been relatively well since he was the mayor's son. No one dared talked badly about him since the place was so small and quaint. It was like a sin to even think bad about others. And hearing these guys refer to him as some guy's bitch, or to assume he was a homosexual just because he was in Sephiroth's presence, hadn't settled well with him. He cracked his fist into the last guy that had treaded on the wrong waters. No one was prepared for that, and it took awhile for everyone to register what was going on. Their fights had always been verbal that having a 3rd class SOLDIER suddenly bust someone's teeth out had surprised them all. Sephiroth, being the one as a leader and the one with the reputation, knew he had to step in. He grabbed Genesis's arm and pulled the figure back harshly, placing himself in the middle of the fight to make sure nothing would happen. "No fighting. All of you get out of here. Now." The group was still trying to gain their senses about them, but with the order they grabbed up their friend whose nose was bleeding all over the place and had quickly moved off in a rather sour mood. Sephiroth turned his eyes to Genesis seeing the glow to his bright blue eyes. "I'm going to have to write you up, I hope you do realize that."

Genesis shrugged, "So? They were saying shit about you and myself. Maybe you can push that off, but I'm not going to. I did nothing to be harassed like that."

"Throwing your fist into someone's face isn't the correct way to solve that problem. You get them written up for their verbal harassment, not try to solve everything physically."

"I don't care what's correct. You break someone's nose and they'll back off for awhile."

Sephiroth sighed. There was no point in trying to argue with Genesis. The boy had gotten his sweet revenge and he would be unable to deter that. "Right. For future reference, if you do that again you can be stripped of your title."

"I think you need to learn how to dominate over them all. Give them something to fear and glorify over. If I was 1st class I'd act like I'm the greatest thing around. No one would be talking like that to my face." Genesis hesitated. "Shouldn't even be thinking it, either."

"They think such things because I'm young compared to them. They've been training far longer than I had been when I asked permission to join. They have reasons to be envious and hateful."

"I'm envious of you but I'm not trying to break you down."

"That's because you're…" Sephiroth wasn't sure what to say about Genesis. "You're just different."

Genesis didn't know if he meant that in a good way or bad way. He could tell Sephiroth wanted to say something else, but he had struggled with the words. He made Sephiroth speechless? Maybe that really was a good thing. "Everyone's got a dream…it shouldn't infringe on someone else's, and it shouldn't undermine others." Those brilliant green eyes looked back into his. "That's what Angeal always tells me, anyway."

Sephiroth wasn't surprised. Angeal always acted like he was filled with wisdom when he was only the same age as them. "Why don't you just go to bed?"

"What? Why? I mean, didn't you have something else planned for me?"

"I did, but…I changed my mind. Besides, you're still slowly getting used to the mako in your system. Get some rest and I'm sure you'll be feeling better tomorrow." Sephiroth turned his back to him and then walked off, leaving Genesis to himself.

Yet Genesis was still surprised. What had made Sephiroth change his mind?

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Well, a first chapter to something new. Not sure where or what I'm doing with this. First chapter, as usual, is rather short. Going to try and keep them around this length if it so suits my readers.

So, tell me what you think! Review and say if you like it or if you're curious about something. I'm glad to hear whatever you guys are thinking.

Until next time!