Zack sat slouched in the office chair, his arms folded over his chest. His eyes roved around the room. It was an ordinary, boring office with a few personal effects and a discarded coffee mug next to the sleek, black computer that sat on the glass desk in front of him. Above the desk were two rows of shelves with different coloured folders and binders. It looked just like every other office in the ShinRa building: Not too interesting.
The door behind him was flung open and a rather round man with a weary looking face and peppering blonde hair walked swiftly passed the boy and sat himself down in the chair in front of Zack who shifted uncomfortably in his own seat and glared at the floor.
The blonde man shook his head and sighed, he almost looked exasperated. He placed his hands on the desk.
"This is the fourth incident you've been involved in this week, Fair." Zack glanced up but said nothing. "What do you have to say for yourself?" The boy simply glared at the elder man. "I see." The blonde man pulled a navy folder from the shelf above him labelled 'Fair' and flipped through it until he came to a list of offences that the teenager had committed since September 1st earlier that year.
"Hmm," The man scanned the page with his green eyes and continued, "Since September 1st you've managed to smash several windows, you've verbally assaulted three of my staff, you've somehow knocked one of my top scientists out…" His eyes widened as he read on in disbelief. "You've set off a fire alarm, assaulted a drill sergeant, opened a case of rare materia and lost three of them…"
"Wait! Mr ShinRa, sir, that wasn't my—"
"You threw a party in the cadets lounge and got half of the under fifteens drunk?!"
"That was Reno's—" Zack began to protest, but the president cut him off. He had more important things to do than lecture a fifteen year old.
"And just recently, you owned up to starting a food fight in the mess hall, and starting six fights… fraternizing with staff—"
"NO WAY! Scarlet molested me!" Zack straightened up and yelled. Was this guy just plain ignorant or did he not know about Scarlet's… personality…
"I hardly believe that a twenty-eight year old woman would attack a fifteen year old such as yourself." Zack shuddered at the memory and moved his mouth quietly murmuring.
"I don't think I need to continue. So, Fair, are you going to tell me what the issue is?" ShinRa looked stern. And pissed off. Zack sunk back into his chair and glared once more. The president glared back and sighed. "Fine. Zack I'm assigning you a mentor," Zack flinched. "You're one of our best candidates, very close to becoming SOLDIER First Class; however your behaviour is holding you back."
"I don't need a freaking MENTOR! I'm not… I'm not…"
"Relax, Zack. Angeal Hewley himself offered to help you through whatever it is that's made you so distracted recently. It wasn't my own idea." The president tensed at the young mans outburst.
"Help me through… what the fuck?!" The raven haired teenager stood up.
"Zack." A new voice sounded from behind him. Firm and full of authority. Slowly the boy turned to face his superior. The tall, well muscled man was standing five feet away from him with his arms folded and his eyebrows raised.
Zack shook his head and briskly walked out of the room, his head down.
"Mentor. My. Ass." He said, kicking a stray ball of paper next to a trash can in the hallway. As he made his way back to his room, he was silent, his eyebrows knitted together and his hands in his pockets. He received a few strange looks as he ignored his friends and stormed into his room. Kunsel blinked at him from the bed across the room. Zack gave him a death glare and flung himself onto his bed.
"Zack… what did ShinRa want?" Kunsel flinched in case his friend decided to throw something at him. But Zack simply took a few deep breaths to calm himself and then groaned.
"Says he wants me to be mentored." Zack finally managed.
"I don't know?!"
"Oh." Kunsel shuffled around, massaging pins and needles from his feet. "And you're pissed off because…?" Bad move.
"Because I don't need a freaking mentor! It's not like I'm depressed or got anger issues or anything!" Zack punched his pillow, then looked at his fist and sighed. "Oh."
"Hey, Zack, maybe having a mentor isn't that bad? I heard Sephiroth was mentored for a few years." Zack glanced over at Kunsel, resigned. He changed subjects, knowing that Kunsel was winning on this one.
"They think I was the one that tried Scarlet."
"You're kidding!" Kunsel said, stifling a laugh at the memory. Scarlet had cornered the poor boy less than a month ago and attacked him. Zack had actually fainted after the whole affair, but not because he was so entranced by her that he'd forgotten to breathe, it was because the blonde woman had not allowed him to breathe.
"Nope, bets the witch went and friggin' reported me." Zack scowled. Kunsel agreed. Zack made a face. "Ugh," He rubbed his cheek in frustration.
His PHS beeped: 1 New Message.
Angeal (21:18:06): Zack, you feeling any better? Let me explain about the mentoring thing.
Zack stared at it for a few seconds, and then replied.
Two minutes later it beeped again.
Angeal (21:20:52): It's because you've been getting in so many fights. I promise it won't be much different from how your life is now, and you'll get less crap from the president. Just consider it.
Again, Zack stared at the phone.
"What exactly does a mentor do?"
"I dunno. They're just there for you. They also pass on recommendations for SOLDIER if that's what you mean. And, uhh…"
"I see." Zack bit his lip. He quickly replied to Angeal's message.
Ok, just keep ShinRa off my back.
Angeal blinked at the message, finally! The boy had agreed.
Angeal (21:28:04): Deal.
The next morning, whilst Zack was fiddling with some unknown piece of meat on his plate, he felt a presence behind him. Judging by his friends flabbergasted faces and the very vast shadow looming over him, it was the president. Again.
"Fair." The aging man spoke loudly.
"Yes, sir?" Zack smiled sweetly, pretending that the incident yesterday had never occurred. Mr. ShinRa glared at the boy's expression.
"Come with me." He said, motioning for Zack to follow him.
They stood, once again, in the plain office. The blonde haired man waved a hand for Zack to sit down, which he did, silently, as did the president.
"Feeling better, Zack?" The man asked, in a tone that sounded as if he didn't really give a shit. None the less, Zack replied.
"Better… so what's this about?" He asked bluntly. "I agreed to your mentoring programme." The boy was making it clear that he did not want to be here. The president returned the steely glare.
"Director Lazard would like me to congratulate you, you've been recommended for SOLDIER Third Class." Zack's jaw dropped. The blonde man thought he resembled a goldfish for a few seconds before he uttered one simple syllable.
"Whoa." He gulped.
A bald Turk entered the room, wearing sunshades, and handed a note to the president.
"Thank you, Rude." ShinRa scanned the page quickly, then stood up and shook Zack's hand. "Well, Zack, I'm afraid I have to leave you now, I have a very important meeting. I think you should speak with Commander Hewley, and inform him of your achievement. For now, adjure." And with that the large man in his cream suit left the room, quickly followed by Rude.
Zack strolled out of the office into the lounge where the secretary worked. She wasn't there. He froze. He knew that cheap scent... That bleached blonde hair… That painted on lipstick…
"Heading for SOLDIER, I hear…" She purred. She stepped forward in her high heels and grabbed fistfuls of Zack's shirt and, with some unfeminine strength, pushed him against the marble wall next to the secretary's desk. Zack would have easily pushed this woman away from him, but he almost had a phobia of her. He was powerless to act. He winced slightly as her nicotine fragranced breath hit his lips.
"Stay quiet." She ordered, smiling wickedly and running an icy hand through his black spikes. She cupped his jaw in her hands and pressed her painted lips to his own.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Help me. ANGEAL!!! Zack's brain was screaming. Then he heard footsteps. Someone was here to rescue him.
"Scarlet!" Angeal's firm voice snapped the woman to her senses. She spun around smiling innocently. Zack sunk to his knees.
"Angeal, how nice of you to join us." She smiled innocently, her blue eyes twinkling.
"Don't even try it." Angeal growled. He glanced at the raven haired teenager, who was shuffling away from the woman as a puppy would when shamed by its master. His eyes widened in shock as he realised it was Zack. "Scarlet, what have you done to my student?" The blonde woman simply cackled, making both Zack and Angeal flinch slightly. She strode down the corridor, leaving the two cerulean eyed males.
"See ya, SOLDIER!" She winked at Zack who was now cowering behind Angeal.
"SOLDIER? You made SOLDIER?" Angeal glanced back down excitedly at the boy who was still sitting on the floor behind him.
"I was recommended." Zack grinned up at his new mentor, but grimaced when he tasted some of Scarlet's lipstick on the inside of his lip. "Ugh." Angeal gave a crooked smile and shook his head.
"Attack of the Scarlet witch, huh?"
"Mm." Zack mumbled getting to his feet. "How come she still works here?"
"Rufus ShinRa… likes her company…" Angeal shrugged, hoping the youth would understand.
"Oh. Ohhhhh! Ew." Zack had a look of utmost disgust on his face. Angeal laughed out loud, and then placed a hand on the boys shoulder.
"You have a training session to get to don't you?"
"Uhh, yeah. Thanks for saving me Angeal." Zack smiled before jogging down the corridor for the elevators.
Angeal, now alone, nodded to himself. This wasn't going to be that hard, Zack seemed like a good kid. Maybe he had a little issue with his anger, but, then again, so did Genesis, and Angeal had found out how to tame that mans fiery temper easily enough.
THAT'S THE END OF CHAPTER ONE… NOTES:
I made Zack have anger management problems, he'll be his usual, adorable self within a few chapters. I have never played Final Fantasy VII and characterized Scarlet from what I've read in other 'fics and from her… err… dress sense. *Grin* I have no idea why I sent Zack to President ShinRa. I guess I think of him as a head teacher. :]