Clouds at Midnight

Chapter 1


A/N: Hello! This will eventually be a Sephiroth/Cloud/Zack, just to warn you all. I'm not sure about the rating either, but for now it shall remain at T, I suppose. Drop a review if you please! Any mistakes are my own, because I have no beta -is sad-. Forgive me for any discrepancies (it's been forever since I've played the game) and all mistakes are my own.

Enjoy!


His name was Cloud. Well, technically he was nothing at all like a Cloud – he was a person, for starters, and his skin was fair and so was his hair, with a set of startling blue eyes to accentuate his fairness. Cloud wasn't very fluffy either. He was really quite quiet. He was the type that wouldn't speak unless spoken to, or even look up unless tapped. He was quite out-of-it, really. He wasn't stupid; he actually scored decent results in cadet academic tests, finding the only challenge in getting a pass grades in practical. He wasn't a very…physical person. He believed that few things could be solved by getting physical. He wasn't exceptionally good at anything, nor was his manner distinguishable. He was just there. He faded into the background during materia lectures and combat practical. No one really noticed him.

Of course, that was until he almost blew off another cadet's head when they were cleaning the materia room with a rogue firaga.

He was set in detention for slightly more than a week for "unauthorized handling of high-level materia", which vexed him to no end because he had wanted a clean record for at least the first year of entering Shinra. After his time at detention, they hadn't let him near another offense-materia without a supervising officer beside him. He sometimes forgot why he joined Shinra in the first place, until other cadets started making fun of him – then he'd remember that he was supposed to become strong and go back to Nibelheim to show the people there that he had actually become something that was worth mentioning. He remembered the great hero Sephiroth, whom he had yet to meet in person, and he would continue his days a little bit more revived. He returned to his barrack earlier than curfew most of the time, because he had really nothing better to do, which often resulted in him just lying in bed reading a book he had smuggled in for the larger part of the evenings after dinner, ignoring the persistent noise coming from the other rooms around him.

Then came that fateful day when the great General Sephiroth was supposed to give the new cadets a rally talk.

Cloud was uncharacteristically happy that day – he was finally able to meet the reason why he joined Shinra in the first place – he had eaten a little more than usual at lunch, practiced a little harder for combat practical and paid a little more attention during lectures. When the time had finally come in the early evening for Sephiroth's talk, he had specially visited the bathroom to make sure he was looking presentable before heading to the auditorium.

Sephiroth arrived fashionably late, even if it was just for five minutes. His long silver hair fell like an ethereal veil around his shoulders and his back, his strong form scarcely done justice by the black stylized coat he was wearing, his sword all the brilliance of a weapon worthy of one of the greatest men in History at his side. His boots made a clean, sharp sound against the floor as he moved toward the front of the hall, his sharp eyes seemingly regarding nothing but what was in front him. The whole room was silent as he took the podium.

He allowed his piercing mako-infused eyes to run quickly through his audience, stopping at faces he found decent to look at. Cloud felt his head quicken as those same eyes swept over him.

Sephiroth cleared his throat.

"Do you know why you're here?"
The General's voice was deep, almost chocolaty, laced with a knowing kind of note, Cloud mused, before catching himself and just settling for looking forward and to stop thinking.
"You're here because you're weak."
Cloud's ears perked up, a little startled. The General continued, his voice dropping yet another note, a hint more mocking.
"You're here because you want to become stronger, to be in control. Well tough luck – because you're going to have to earn it."
The blonde cadet wasn't yet offended, but surprised at the attitude and manner of his hero he dared not deny.
"You're here to die for Shinra; you're here to become lapdogs and machines. You will take orders, and you will follow through with them even if it means you get your tongue ripped off. You do not question, you don't even breathe until I tell you it is permissible to do so. Shinra has many facets – Shinra is everywhere. You're past the point of no return – you're either with us, or against us."
Glowing eyes rested on the now slightly disturbed faces of the new cadets.
"We will crush all opposition."
He paced his words, letting certain syllables linger longer than necessary on those perfect lips.
The General paused; a small smile set on a feline, angelic face, taunting them.
Cloud was caught completely unaware at the harshness of his hero's manner – he was absolutely appalled.
The General sounded a little sorry, as if he was regretful that it was as he said.
"...You have no means to escape the fate of following the road of a dog of Shinra."
His eyes ran over the cadets again, but no one moved. No one even dared to sigh.
"This isn't a prance in the park. This is a place where we train warriors. SOLDIERS. Are you ready to commit yourselves to a destiny that is filled with death, sorrow, pain, sweat and tears? Are you ready to sink into the depths of insanity and come back, bearing your scars?" His voice seemed to crack as he accentuated each word with an elegant hand movement that didn't betray his twisted pleasure whatsoever.

There was coughing on the left side of the room.

Sephiroth's gaze paused in its regard of the general audience, now instead, focusing on the little interruption on the left side of the room.

A certain Cloud Strife.

Cloud hadn't meant to make any sound. He had just so conveniently choked on his own saliva, which resulted in a fit of coughs that had the cadets sitting next to him cringe and look away. He stiffened when he felt the heavy weight of the General's eyes on him, resulting in him erupting in yet another spasm of coughs accompanying the shock. He silently wished that it was just a bad dream.

The cadet finally managed to cease his coughing, looking down to the floor in embarrassment and fear. He heard the General snort, sending him a condescending look from the corner of his eye, as if he wasn't worth any attention at all.

Cloud's small form stiffened further as he felt the rest of the cadet's eyes on him, secretly laughing at him.
The General dismissed the coughing as soon as he stopped, continuing with his "rally" speech.

Sephiroth was a stuck up prick and an outright asshole.
Cloud's golden image of the Great General Sephiroth had been thrown onto the floor, smashed with a battle axe, burnt into cinders by a flare and then stepped on some more, before being completely annihilated with an Ultima spell.

Cloud was in shambles when he left for his room.


Something was changing.

As much as Sephiroth hated to admit it.

Something in him was set to light, and he quite reluctantly found himself leaving his office more often than usual to spy just a glimpse of the boy, pretending to be concerned about this new batch of to-be SOLDIERs, he graced many a training session with more enthusiasm than he would actually let on. The boy was beautiful. His hair was such a fair shade of blonde it seemed almost platinum. His skin was flawless and white, his pair of sky blue eyes shone like gems in snow. Sephiroth would catch himself staring, and then return to brooding about the next mission report he needed to produce by the end of the day. He found out that the boy's name was Cloud, a Cloud Strife, from Nibelheim, and barely legal.

He told himself that it was probably because it's been more than a month since he last got laid.

He first saw the boy in the supposed "Rally Talk" he was coerced into giving, simply because he was "The Great Hero Sephiroth". He snorted at the thought – Sephiroth, the Admirable General of Shinra, was infatuated with a cadet he had just seen for an entire span of twenty five minutes.

What would the people say?

He stretched in his chair, when he heard the familiar foot fall of a first-class soldier approaching his door.

"Sephiroth!"
The platinum haired man raised an elegant eyebrow as his office door was flung open, and a certain Zack Fair so nonchalantly took a step in. Any other man would be dead by the second the door opened.
"What is it?" The General was in a pensive mood, actually responding to the first class' greeting. The ebony haired man seemed absolutely elated, bouncing a little on the spot as he stood in front of the General's desk, a grin on his face. He then leaned in, across the table, inches away from the platinum haired man and sniggered.

"I found someone interesting among the fresh meat!"

Sephiroth's smirk tugged on the side of his lip, regarding the handsome face in front of him with amusement.

"Oh?"

The both shared a look.

"Cloud Strife."

Sephiroth was surprised, but he said nothing as the other First-Class continued his rant on how wonderful the boy was, and Sephiroth couldn't stop himself from letting slip the fact that he had noticed the boy as well.

"You know who he is, Seph?"
"I've seen him around,"
"Where did you see him?"
Zack scratched the back of his head adorably, now leaning back and slumping on the chair in front of the desk.

"In the rally talk. He was interrupting."
Zack laughed, a bright, lovely sound.
"I saw him on a mission. Talked to him even. Beat that!"
Sephiroth rolled his eyes, returning to his paperwork.
"Don't ignore me, Sephiroth!" He made an expression that resembled an annoyed yet sad kicked puppy, which was a complex expression, if you asked Sephiroth.
Sephiroth looked up again, just to humour the ebony haired man, a small smile set on beautiful lips.
Zack fell silent for a while, just watching Sephiroth smile, before clearing his throat and looking away.

"I don't know why you waste your time with such trivial infatuations, Zack."

Said first class SOLDIER gave the general a dirty look, clicking his tongue.
"You don't know what you're saying Seph! I'm sure that once you find someone who's actually on the same wavelength as you you'll get it. It's fate, I swear! You just kinda know when you see them, y'know? Like how you know you gotta take out WuTai soldiers, and how you just gotta wipe out the fiends in your area before you're content…" The ebony haired man continued talking, while Sephiroth continued doing his reports and paperwork, a comfortable routine they repeated almost every time Zack visited. Zack was probably the only person who he allowed close.
They left the office for lunch together, ignoring the looks they received from the office ladies and a few other SOLDIERs.

Two of the best looking SOLDIERs ever were having lunch together.

That in itself would warrant staring, but the fact that they were standing so close together and whispering to each other, with added chuckling was a bit suspicious.
Of course, the rumors were baseless, but still, even a blind chocobo could tell that the two first-class SOLDIERs had something for each other.