Okay, so I just started randomly writing this, just seeing if I'd be any good at writing a Final Fantasy VII story, and I thought it turned out good, so I thought I'd post it. Tell me what you all think, if you don't mind!
Cloud's eyes snapped open, his hand instinctively reaching for First Tsurugi when he heard the doors of the church crash open. He hadn't meant to fall asleep here; he'd come to visit Zack and Aerith, the newly restored Buster Sword having been moved to rest among Aerith's flowers shortly after his last battle with Sephiroth. Now that he thought about it, he was surprised that Tifa or the kids hadn't come to fetch him yet.
Footsteps rang out, slowly moving closer, cautious. "Whose there?" Cloud called out, easily lifting his sword readily. Everyone he knew all knew better than to sneak up on him, so this person certainly wasn't one of his friends.
"You've no reason to be alarmed," a deep voice called back, elegant sounding, yet strangely sad and somewhat familiar. "I only came to see if it were true, and I believe I've already seen enough."
The stranger stepped closer, the moonlight revealing his face and the long, black, feathered wing that rested against his back. Cloud immediately gripped his sword tighter, the wing looking identical to the one Sephiroth himself had. The man ignored him, however, his attention focused on the Buster Sword. A leather-clad hand reached out to grip the hilt, before the man kneeled and rested his forehead against it.
"My friend," he whispered, his red locks falling into his eyes. "I remember it all clearly now. I swear to you, were I in my right mind, I never would have let any of this happen, to you or your precious puppy." The hand clenched the hilt tighter and teeth could be heard grinding as he tried to suppress his tears. "I beg your forgiveness. Both of you."
Finally, it clicked; Cloud recognized the man, very vaguely, for he had been in a mako induced shock at the time. Genesis Rhapsodos, Zack's one-time enemy and one-time friend to Angeal Hewley, the original owner of the Buster Sword. His auburn hair was longer than he remembered and spiked out on the ends. There were some other minor differences, but other than that, he looked the same. His voice had definitely gotten deeper though.
"You were traveling with Zack, were you not?" Genesis asked softly, still not looking at Cloud, but he tilted his face in his direction. "Did he…go easily?" Cloud was reluctant to answer. Did this man, one who had so much to do with his friend's death, deserve one?
"You know Spike? I don't think Genesis is really a bad guy," Zack had said one night, while taking a break from their escapade towards Midgar. "What if…he just went crazy like Seph did back in Nibelheim? If that's the case, I wonder if I can really help him. But no matter what, I'll try. I think it's what Angeal would want."
Zack had said that back when Cloud couldn't offer an answer. Maybe he was right. If he could trust Zack with his life, why not with other matters like this one? Zack had known Sephiroth and Genesis before, after all. "The ShinRa army shot him down. He nearly took them all down himself, but in the end, he just couldn't take it. I think he went easily in the end though."
Genesis sighed and closed his eyes. "Of course. Angeal would have helped him in the end. He would have taken all the pain away from his little protégé and bared it all himself. Such an Angeal thing to do."
"I never knew him. I would've liked to," Cloud admitted. He had heard stories of the man from Zack and other SOLDIERS, though not many knew him as well as Zack did, except maybe Genesis and Sephiroth. The man had sounded respectable, and he envied how that supposedly stoic and quiet man had trained Zack into the amazing man he had become.
"Yes," Genesis whispered, opening his eyes, now dazed and reminiscent. "Take a seat. I will tell you about Angeal, and when he first took Zack under his wing. You were friends with Zack, correct? Cloud?"
Cloud sat himself down, though First Tsurugi remained in his hands. Genesis had said his name in a tentative sort of way, as though he wasn't sure it was right. Of course, if Genesis hadn't been in his right mind at the time, he wouldn't have remembered. It's not as though Cloud had been there before the mess.
"Yeah. I'm warning you right now, though, if you try to pull anything—"
"I would never!" Genesis snapped harshly, glaring up at the blond with fiery, blue eyes. "I have long since regained my senses, and even had I not, I would never fight in so sacred a place! Angeal and Zack…this is where they rest. I would not disturb them so." Cloud swallowed and nodded in understanding. How could he argue with that? The sincerity in his voice, the strong emotion…he could not be lying.
"I believe you." Cloud reluctantly sat his sword aside, his eyes settling on the red head across from him. "I'm listening."
"Very well." Genesis relaxed himself, following Cloud's example and sitting his Rapier aside. "It all started on a mission in Junon…"
Cadet Zack Fair silently cursed his luck. He thought this was going to be an easy mission; find and eliminate the gang that had openly shot out and killed Shinra soldiers stationed in Junon. Unfortunately, no one had bothered to tell him that these men had once been SOLDIERS, Third Class. Even worse, Shinra actually expected the handful of cadets they had sent to get rid of the traitors. They didn't even have SOLDIER back up!
"What the hell were they thinking?" Zack glared at the blood soaked ground where one of his comrades had fallen. At least the Ex-SOLDIERS were using guns and not swords, or else they'd all be dead by now. But still, killing a SOLDIER wasn't an easy task, the mako in their systems making them heal faster and making them more tolerant of pain. So, all in all, he was screwed.
"No, I can't think like that. If I want to make SOLDIER, I have to be strong. Then again, living to see tomorrow would help too." Zack swallowed when another cadet screamed and fell back, his mouth hanging open and his eyes wide. The boy gave a last, gurgling breath, and then ceased all movement. Zack reached over slowly and slid his eyes closed.
Zack's blue eyes scanned the area. There were only three of them left, whereas they had started with twenty-one. On the other side, all nine of the Ex-SOLDIERS remained, continuing to fire on the poor, helpless cadets. Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Zack looked at the rifle in his hand. He had always been a horrible shot, always preferring the sword, so he was basically useless. The sword had always done him credit, but if he tried that against these guys, he would be down in an instant.
Another shot, precise and deadly, as all the others had been, rang through the air and struck one of the remaining cadets right between the eyes. At least, Zack thought, the boy couldn't have felt anything. The only other cadet left, besides himself, crawled over. Zack recognized him as Kunsel, a boy the same age as him. They had only spoken a couple times before, but he seemed nice enough.
"Hey man," Kunsel panted, digging through the dead cadets pack and pulling out some more ammo. "We're not gonna make it through this, are we?"
Now how was he supposed to answer that? He didn't want to make things sound hopeless, even if they were, but there was no point in trying to lie to himself. They were royally screwed. But dammit, if he had to go down, he was going down a hero.
"Listen," Zack said softly, reaching back and grabbing his sword. "I'm going to cause a distraction. No point in having us both die when one of us can get away. When I charge them, they'll reflexively focus on me; they're SOLDIERS after all. When that happens, I want you to get out of here."
Kunsel stared at him in disbelief. "You're gonna…for me? I can't let you do that!"
"Hey! I'm going to whether you want me to or not. The only thing you can do right now, is make sure my death has a purpose. Please." Zack stood slowly, holding his sword tightly. "Now get out of here." Turning towards the Ex-SOLDIERS, Zack jumped over the pile of scrap they had been using to protect themselves, and charged. Just as he had said, the men all turned their guns on him, firing away and ignoring Kunsel as he took off, tears of anguish running down his face.
Searing, hot pain tried to stop him, but Zack continued to charge, holding one of his arms over his chest cavity. He would put all he had into this last attempt. His eyes narrowed and he let out a yell as he got close enough to the nearest man, driving his sword through him with the last bit of strength he had.
Said man's eyes widened, pupils dilating as he stared down at the little cadet. It wasn't possible that this boy, no mako pumping through his blood, managed to not only survive being shot so many times, but also had a sword through his chest. Blood rose into his mouth, choking him, but his eyes remained on the droopy-eyed cadet. So they had underestimated one of them. But even if he died, the others would be sure to finish the boy off. He managed a twisted smirk that made the cadet shudder, before he slumped over, dead.
The man's weight was too much, and Zack stumbled away, unable to pull his sword free. He fell to the ground; no chance he was getting up again. Blood poured from multiple gun wounds all over his body. The other men were closing in on him. He struggled to keep his eyes open, shaking with pain and anxiety. If he had to die, he would do so bravely, staring down the men who ended it all for them. Hopefully, he thought bitterly, it would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Suddenly, one of the men yelled out a warning and the sound of metal slicing through air resounded loudly through Zack's tired mind. He couldn't understand what was being said or who was responsible for the sound, but he was definitely grateful. Even if his end was only prolonged, at least he had more of a chance than he did before.
"Sephiroth and I are more than capable of handling this, Angeal. Get that poor boy out of here!" Angeal…Sephiroth…Zack knew the names should have rang a bell, should have been familiar, should have excited him, but he was much too tired to think. He whimpered as hands grabbed onto him, carefully lifting him up against a broad and muscular chest. The arms felt strangely warm, after he had been expecting the cold embrace of death.
The chest vibrated as his savior called out, "Genesis, Sephiroth, I leave this to you," and then they were moving quickly through the streets of Junon. "Just hang in there. You have to be strong," the man, Angeal, Zack guessed, whispered soothingly. Taking a deep, shaky breath, Zack forced his eyes to open part way and looked up at the man who was rushing him away, probably to some Shinra medical center that had been set up.
Angeal's face was determined, his eyes narrowed and serious despite his soothing voice. He seemed to realize that he was being stared out and glanced down at the boy in his arms, offering a small and reassuring smile. His grip tightened a little, being sure to avoid all wounds on the tired body.
"I can feel you tensing. Right now, you shouldn't do anything to strain yourself," Angeal murmured, smiling sympathetically as Zack released the breath he'd been holding in and closed his eyes tightly. Maybe he was worse off than they first thought if he had to strain so much just to open his eyes, Angeal thought grimly, speeding up slightly. To his trained eye, it seemed that none of the vital organs could have been hit, but blood loss was obviously taking its toll. Angeal vowed silently to do everything in his power to make sure the young cadet lived.
"You'll see. When you wake up, you'll be fine. So, for now, rest." Zack didn't need to be told twice, his consciousness already drifting away from him.
"How ironic," Cloud snorted, looking away from Genesis. He could picture that scene easily enough, remembering Zack's bloody body lying on the ground and how he had fought to protect him as well as for their freedom. "If only Angeal had been there that time, maybe Zack would've made it again."
Genesis chuckled softly, though it sounded sad. "Indeed. Had Angeal still been there, he would have fought to the death for Zack. He loved Zack so very much."
"Were they…?" Cloud was afraid to finish, not knowing if he could handle the answer. He himself had been attracted to Zack and it had broken his heart to see him lying there as death took him.
"That will come later," Genesis murmured, moving to lie in the flowers. Cloud would've protested this, but he had the strangest feeling that Aerith didn't mind. Maybe she was there, listening to the story with him. And maybe Zack was with her. Who knows, maybe Angeal was there too? It was very possible.
"So, what happened next?" he urged, looking back at the red head. Genesis sighed.
"Sephiroth and I had finished the Ex-SOLDIERS off easily enough. As I'm sure you guessed, Angeal got Zack to the infirmary in time. He stayed with Zack most of the time…"
"Dammit 'Geal!" Genesis growled, pulling the bigger man up roughly. "Go take a shower, get something to eat, and get some rest. Sephiroth or I will keep an eye on him and get you if he starts to wake." Angeal glanced back at the boy lying in the bed. The doctors had cleared him, saying that he would make a full recovery, but the blood loss would likely keep him out for a couple of days.
"You won't do any good for him if you don't take care of yourself, Angeal," Sephiroth stated calmly, looking at Angeal evenly. That had been an order. There was no arguing now.
"Very well," he muttered, running a hand over his face tiredly. Looking at Genesis, he noticed the worry on his friend's face and frowned, cursing himself for being the cause of that worry. He tried to amend it by saying, "now that you mention it, I am hungry and could use some sleep." Genesis looked satisfied with that and nodded, taking the seat that Angeal had before occupied.
"Before you go," Sephiroth started, holding out a manila folder out towards Angeal, "I have the file you asked for. Everything about the boy is here."
Angeal nodded, taking the folder in hand, muttered quick thanks, and walked out of the room. The boy had piqued his interest and he had requested the information from Sephiroth. Opening the folder, he was met with a headshot of the boy's smiling face. He couldn't help but chuckle softly at the enthusiasm he seemed to show. Name: Zack Fair. Hometown: Gongaga. Age: 15. Rank: Cadet. Class Rank: 1.
So the boy, Zack, was only a cadet. He was top of his class, but still a cadet. Angeal narrowed his eyes angrily. What could Lazard have been thinking, sending cadets to fight a group of SOLDIERS? Rubbing his temples lightly, Angeal looked back at the folder, bold letters catching his attention. It said that Zack was currently working towards SOLDIER Third Class.
There could hardly be any denying the boy that now. Though Zack was a cadet, he had taken out an Ex-SOLDIER with his own strength, cadets not certified to receive mako injections until after they made SOLDIER. That was something unheard of before. They had also found the only other surviving cadet, a boy named Kunsel, who had told them that Zack had risked himself so that he could escape. Zack definitely had bravery, at the very least.
Angeal closed the folder and unlocked the door to his apartment, taking a deep breath as he stepped in. He kept many houseplants, so the air in his apartment always seemed so much fresher than anywhere else in Midgar. Tossing the folder down on the coffee table, he headed straightaway to the shower.
Two hours saw Angeal lying in bed, fresh from the shower and full from the stew he'd prepared. It was amazing how a shower and good meal could restore a man. Now if only he could get to sleep, he'd feel even better, he imagined.
No such luck. His hearing picked up the sound of his apartment door opening, and since he knew he'd locked it before coming to his room, that meant it could only be one person. Genesis was the only other person with a key to his room after all. At least, Angeal thought with amusement, Genesis was trying to be quiet for once. However, the sound of bone meeting his coffee table and a loud curse ended Genesis' attempt at silence.
"I swear, Angeal, this coffee table will go!" Genesis cried out, tenderly rubbing his shin. "It's such an eyesore, and you've put it in the most inconvenient place!" Genesis glared towards his friend's bedroom where a deep laugh resounded, however it fell away quickly. It was always good to hear his friend laugh like that. "My offer remains you know. If at anytime you wish to redecorate, I'll gladly help you, starting with this damned table."
"By the time you finished 'helping' me, I'd be broke," Angeal said dryly. He walked out of his room and chuckled at his friend's mock-offended expression. Genesis was by no means a cheap person. Only the best and most expensive items suited him, and he believed the same should be said for his friends, but expensive had never appealed to Angeal.
"Oh, this is not over friend. But for now, I must forfeit this battle. That boy is awake and I did promise to fetch you when he awoke. But be warned, he's very out of it right now, and Sephiroth has some disturbing news."
Angeal's brow furrowed. "What news?" he asked. Genesis sighed and crossed his arms. "Is it about Junon?"
"It turns out that Lazard didn't send anyone to Junon. It was all a set up. And those SOLDIERS were not traitors. They were sent to get rid of a group of cadets that rebelled supposedly rebelled."
Angeal and Genesis left the apartment, walking towards the infirmary in an uncomfortable silence. Someone had set up a group of SOLDIERS against a group of cadets, and both sides had been taken down, minus two lucky cadets. Worst of all, they had died for naught. The infirmary came into view, and with it some loud, frustrated yells.
The scene that met their eyes was a strange one. Sephiroth leaned against the wall, arms crossed and eyes closed, completely ignoring the scene in front of him, though the corner of his mouth was twitched upwards. Zack Fair was out of bed, yelling at the two nurses who were trying to force him back into bed.
"There's no way I'm staying here! I swear, if you try to put another needle in me, I'll shove my sword so far up your ass—" Zack suddenly shut his mouth, seeming to notice the three generals standing in the doorway for the first time. He became red with embarrassment and looked to the floor, noticing just now how lightheaded he felt.
Genesis was laughing, eloquent sounding as always. "Dear Gaia, this boy and I are going to get along just fine." Angeal himself was trying to hide his chuckles behind his hand, though his shaking shoulders failed him.
"Zack, please get back into bed," he finally said, bringing his emotions back to order. "I promise there will be no more needles, but you do need your rest."
"Yes sir," Zack murmured, reluctantly climbing back in the bed. It was a good thing too, for he felt that if he had stood any longer, he would've toppled over. He suddenly felt nervous, being around all three generals at the same time, but especially Sephiroth. Already, he had made himself seem like a fool.
"Oh, don't look so embarrassed," Genesis waved his hand, noticing the slight shade of red in the younger boy's cheeks. "No one likes these places. But you do need your rest and we must be sure you recover. Now, why don't I go get you something good to eat? I'm sure you will need it. In the mean time, Angeal will stay with you," he said, grabbing Sephiroth and pulling him away from the room.
Zack had no time to respond. The two were gone before he could open his mouth, leaving him alone with Angeal, the nurses having already left. Angeal sighed and sat next to Zack's bed, glancing at him curiously.
"How are you feeling?" he asked softly. Zack seemed startled, but offered him a tired smile that even Angeal couldn't resist returning.
"I'm okay, sir. I don't really remember what happened though. Why am I here?" Angeal frowned and crossed his arms. Should he tell the boy what happened to him?
"We'll discuss it later. You need rest right now." Zack looked as if he wanted to protest, but said nothing.
"Yes sir," he murmured, settling himself in his bed.
"You may call me Angeal." The words left him before he really thought about them, and he was shocked. He had never permitted anyone other than Genesis and Sephiroth to call him by his first name. Even the other First Class SOLDIERS addressed him as Commander Hewley.
Zack looked equally shocked. "Okay…Angeal." The name seemed awkward at first, and Zack had to mentally repeat it to make sure he didn't continue to call him sir. He couldn't be bothered to think about it long though. His eyes slipped close and he sighed, finally drifting back to sleep.
"Angeal didn't understand why at the time, but he had already become attached to Zack Fair," Genesis murmured. Cloud was continuing to listen intently. "But of course, that was only the beginning. Zack was still a cadet, so Angeal couldn't extend an invitation for a mentorship quite yet. He already respected Zack's bravery though. There was so much more he'd learn to love."
"What about you and Sephiroth?" Cloud asked. Genesis gave a sly grin.
"Need you ask? We were a pair, until both of us lost our thin shred of sanity. Sephiroth is not a bad man, Cloud."
Cloud rolled his eyes. "He's taken nearly everything from me."
"That was Jenova, not Sephiroth. Besides, I am the one who told him the truth when he had no one to help him through it, no one familiar enough to hold on to. It was a double blow for him and his mind finally snapped." Genesis would defend Sephiroth with all his being. It was the truth, after all.
"I can never forgive him," Cloud growled. Sephiroth played a big part in Zack's death too, and Aerith's for that matter. There was no forgiving that.
"Oh, enough," Genesis said quickly. He didn't want to start a fight with the Cloud. "Now, on with the story…"
That's where I shall end it for now. Give me your opinions and tell me if I should continue!