Of Cadets and Curtains: by Tsuki Amano

Summary: It was a simple plan, sneak into Sephiroth's apartment, take a look at his shampoo and maybe steal a sample. He just hadn't planned on Sephiroth being in the shower at the same time.

Disclaimer: The ownership thing again? I wished I owned Sephiroth, Final Fantasy or Cloud in general, I even clicked my heels together three times, and wouldn't you know it, so far no luck in that field. I could really go for some Wutaian take-out right now.

Note: I've edited the first five chapters, nothing major just some grammatical and spelling stuff. But chapter four has a different ending than the unedited version because it got cut off some how the first time I uploaded the chapter.

The hooded figure seemed to almost glide along the tiled floor as he moved to light the last candle which soon sputtered to life under his influence. It joined its family, and flickered, casting a pale warm glow across the room. The scene which was revealed was eerie in almost every aspect. The room though not very large, now held about thirty of the hooded occupants each holding what seemed to be a thick book of some sort that was obviously very precious to them. Out of the assembly, it was apparent that there were five who held more power than the others. These had actual chairs instead of being forced to sit in cramped spaces between the various pieces of furniture, and when they stood to herald the beginning of the meeting, they commanded an aura which demanded respect and showcased authority. Correspondingly, the other followers listened, the respectful silence and worshipping attitude bringing out the importance that they gave to this event.

And then there was Zack.

The SOLDIER in question was crouched behind a washing machine, his fists stuffed in his mouth to prevent his laughter from becoming audible. But his amusement knew no bounds, and as his bright eyes studied the scene in front of him, his shoulders vibrated with his withheld mirth. Of course, this would look pretty impressive to an outsider; what with the robes, candles, the books and the general mystery. But flip the light switch on, and you'd see that it was a lot less, "Mysteries of the Cult" inclined. The room in question was the common laundry room, which explained his hideout. The hooded figures were third year cadets, who were a couple of eggs short of a full basket. Where was he? Why Zack Fair had taken it upon himself to infiltrate the Silver Elite meeting. Oh he was going to have so much fun tomorrow, he couldn't wait to rub it in Sephiroth's face that their sacred book was a portfolio containing pictures of him, along with articles and… was that a shirtless picture of Seph? Ok, maybe these cadets had a little too much free time on their hands.

Well, he had accomplished what he came here for, and with the necessary information, he crept out into the hallway. But once he had made it to the adjoining corridor, he dissolved into fits of laughter. He was still chortling by the time he reached the cadets' barracks where he proceeded to look around for Agent Chocobo, and once he relayed his master plan and glomped the boy (because really, he was like a plushie!), he headed off to share the details of his mission with Angeal. He snickered at the mental image of Cloud when he heard his code name; he got so flustered and oddly enough looked just like an angry Chocobo.

Cloud sighed and wondered what in Gaia's name had possessed him to listen to Zack, or Agent Alpha as he deemed himself. The plan was suicidal at best. He scowled as he envisioned Zack's grin as he bragged to him about sacrilegiously breaking into the Silver Elite meeting. "Come on Spiky, there's nothing that could go wrong! Seph is never at his apartment on Tuesday, he's always at some boring board meeting. You get in, scope out the place and then share your findings with those weirdoes who run the show, and boom, you're in! What could possibly go wrong?"Cloud could think of a hundred things that 'could possibly go wrong' but he didn't have the heart to tell him. Zack had gone through a lot of trouble and in reality; he was too much of a social recluse to join the normal way. This was Zack's way, weird as it was, of looking out for him.

He stared up at the big door, gulping audibly as he wondered whether it was possible for his heart to beat this fast without him passing out. It was easy enough getting here, it wasn't unusual for cadets to deliver packages to SOLDIERS and other officials, and Zack had given him a spare pass to the room (which he really didn't want to know where he had gotten from). Now all he had to do was go in. "Get a grip, this is your only chance to do something like this! Be a man damnit!" But with all his mutterings, it still took him a full five minutes to work up the courage to set foot in his idol's apartment. And then he was in, in Sephiroth's apartment!

He placed his hands over his mouth just in time before he squealed, and spun around giddily, unable to believe his stroke of luck. He made a mental note of the classy furniture which somehow managed to look warm and inviting, the unopened box of stir-fry on his dining table. He was impressed by the General's kitchen which although large and well-stocked, looked virtually untouched and pristine. Had he been slightly less involved in these observations, he might have noticed the pair of black shoes by the side of the door.

But these remained unnoticed by Cloud and finally, he made his way over to the bathroom. He passed by the master bedroom and his jaw dropped at the huge bed, which surprisingly was covered by green cotton sheets. He couldn't stop the flush that raced across his cheeks as he made his way to the bathroom, forcing himself to get rid of any wayward fantasies. Squaring his shoulders, he huffed at his hesitance and pushed the door open.

And it was at that instant that he made note of two things. One was that he should have never listened to Zack, and when Sephiroth shish-kebabed him with Masamune, he would haunt him for all eternity. And the second thing was that Sephiroth had a frosted glass pane which served in place of a shower curtain, and sweet Shiva was the man hot.

Sadly, his overworked brain couldn't handle the sensory overload, and decided that it was high time it closed shop for the day. There was an audible THUNK as Cloud passed out and whacked his head on the bathroom tile, wide green eyes watching him.

Sephiroth hated Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, Lazard felt it necessary to make Sephiroth do paper work, not ordinary military related paper work mind you; these were inane pieces of paper. Today's favorite had been an especially long document for the resurrection of a Cactuar Fountain Park.

Then, there was Genesis. For some reason, Genesis felt that Tuesdays heralded the coming of 'The Goddess' as he put it. It was on Tuesday that he subjected them to his most enthusiastic reading of Loveless. If you added to that the thought of the board meeting, it made Tuesday the worst day of the week by far. Today, he had the privilege of being asked to inspect the Chocobo stables. Five hours and innumerable birds later, he was sure that his sense of smell was gone. He politely excused himself from the board meeting (something about a man covered with feathers and his glowing green eyes seemed to sway their judgment). He was looking forward to a long hot shower, followed by dinner and then maybe curling up to a good book before going to bed. What he didn't expect was a wide eyed, blond cadet to sneak in, and then pass out. Once he dismissed the idea that it was a hallucination (he did look an awful lot like some of the chocobos in the stables) and had carried the cadet to his sofa, a vague feeling of recognition washed over him. Wasn't this one of Zack's…

"Cloud! You gotta get out now man! Seph didn't go for the board….Oh. Uh, hi Seph?" Sephiroth glared at the man who stood sheepishly scratching his head. Zack's eyes widened comically when he saw Cloud, "Shit, Spiky what happened?" That's when he finally took a good look at the illustrious general. "Sweet Ifrit! Seph, what did I miss man?

Sephiroth couldn't stop the faint blush, although he probably could have stopped the slew of curses that followed as he went to put on some clothes. As he and Zack ate dinner, he couldn't stop himself from turning his head every now and then to check on the cadet.

"You like him don't you?" Zack's voice was unusually serious, nodding his head towards the cadet. It was true. He had heard nothing but praises from Zack about the boy, his instructors gave glowing reports and from the few sparring matches he had observed, what the blond lacked in strength he made up for in speed. He was quiet, hard working and almost unbelievably cute. Everything put together, he'd wanted to strike up a conversation with Cloud for almost a month now.

Sephiroth nodded, and smiled while his eyes unknowingly softened. "Aw! My babies are growing up so fast!" Avoiding Zack, who was now trying to pinch his cheeks, he picked up the dishes and headed to the kitchen. By the time he got back, Cloud was waking up and Sephiroth chose to remain out of his line of vision for the time being.

"Ugh, Zack please tell me you have aspirin with you? I think I got hit by a dumb-bell or something. But, I had a nice dream though." Zack grinned, Sephiroth could feel the Cheshire cat grin from where he stood, "Oh really Spiky? Anything you want to share?" The cadet had obviously still not regained total lucidity and answered dreamily, "I was in the General's apartment. It was amazing and then I went into his shower and he was there."

Zack sniggered, "Sounds like someone had a very nice dream, and you walked in on him showering huh?" But Cloud didn't respond, his eyes as wide as saucers and when Zack followed his line of vision, his grin grew even wider. If he was a lesser man, he would have thrown his head back and cackled. "I'll just leave you two love-birds alone then." And he casually sauntered out, humming the Mission Impossible theme song under his breath.

"General Sir! I apologize for my unacceptable behavior and my actions which I'm sure have caused you much grief." Sephiroth looked amusedly at the red-faced boy who was squeaking his apology out as fast as he could. "Apology accepted cadet. There's no harm done in any case." "Huh? Uh, I mean, Sir?" Sephiroth chuckled, "I trust this was all Zack's influence. And admittedly, I have wanted to meet you although this may not have been quite the way I had planned..."


Sighing, he lifted the unconscious cadet up off the floor. He had his work cut out for him.

Next morning

Cloud practically skipped to his Tactics lecture ignoring the curious glances from his peers. He spent most of the class doodling hearts in his notebook, and gazing out the window. He was so lost in Sephy-Land, that he barely noticed the shadow following him, until Jake, one of the foremost members of the Silver Elite, grabbed his shoulder. "Hey Strife, rumor has it that you were spotted coming out of the General's apartment. That true?" When Cloud nodded his head in affirmation, he continued, "What were you doing there anyway?" .Cloud shrugged.

"Well cadet, I guess you could say he was acquainting himself with my shower curtain and floor tiles," a familiar smooth voice cut in. And as watched Jake snap to attention and scurry away, Cloud got the feeling that he should either be deliriously happy or very afraid.

He was going with option 'c', both of the above.