Sephiroth looked up from his stack of paperwork as he heard a small tap on his office door, over the past week it had become frequent, welcomed and he himself would go as far as saying wanted.
"It's open" he said not looking up from the stack of paperwork.
"General, is now a good time are you busy? I came by earlier and your secretary said you were busy, Zack called he's really worried about your cold, so I went and got soup & some stuff from the pharmacy." the boy said placing a large covered cup on the generals desk alongside a white bag.
Sephiroth looked up from his work and smiled. "Cloud what did I say about calling me general when we're alone? And I told Zack I was just fine. You didn't have to do that." he said motioning for Cloud to sit down.
"I know sorry. Zack said you say that" Cloud said smiling brightly. "I wanted to he said you hated the labs and would go even if you started coughing up mako blobs. I'd feel horrible if something happened and I did nothing." Cloud explained. Sephiroth had to stop himself from reaching how and stroking the boy's cheek no matter how adorable he was. Sephiroth silently thought to himself "I want him to only smile for us like that."
"I don't want to hold you up sir you have a lot to do and I need to study" Cloud said standing up to leave.
"It's alright you can stay to tell you the truth things are a bit lonely without Zack here."
"I think you mean quiet" Cloud said taking a book out of his backpack.
"Ok that too, one of Angeal's biggest complaints was that Zack at times can be a one person commotion" Sephiroth said smiling at Cloud, he noted that the boys cheeks had a pink tinge to them, was Cloud blushing at him? "Oh Cloud I almost forgot to ask how'd your test go?"
"Enph!" Cloud said "aced the materia section and got an 84 on the tactics Q&A. I studied really hard all weekend but I froze up on test day." Cloud said quietly.
"Mmh I see" Sephiroth said as he began clicking his mouse Cloud noted a smile on the general's face just as Cloud was going to ask how his last mission went Sephiroth spoke "ok lets go." Sephiroth said as he walked over to the corner to retrieve masamune
"Huh?" Cloud asked as he looked at Sephiroth in confusion, had his poor performance on the test offended the general? was he being kicked out of his office?
"We're going to go train." Sephiroth said opening a closet door. "Here you go" he said handing Cloud a Shinra Alpha and a sword.
Cloud shook his head, "won't Zack be upset?"
"I'm sure Zack will be ok with it he has 4 or 5 backups. When he was training with Angeal he broke 3 or 4. I think you're a lot like me Cloud" Sephiroth said as he carefully took Clouds arm and began fastening the armor.
"I am?" Cloud said as he watched Sephiroth secure the armor.
"Uh-huh I think you a tactile learner. If someone spouts the information to us or we have read it doesn't really sink in. But if we see it and we can hold and touch we do better." Sephiroth said looking at Cloud "let's go over what you've been doing in class but in the simulator ok?" Sephiroth asked.
"Ok, I'd like that" Cloud said smiling Sephiroth was 100% sure he only wanted to see Cloud smile like that for him.
"Ok you can leave your stuff here, after you're done would you like to join me in sector 8 for dinner. I originally planned to take Zack out for something really unhealthy since he seemed to enjoy it when Angeal would take him out after a long mission." Sephiroth said as he checked to make sure the office door was locked.
"Sir may I ask a question?" Cloud said timidly.
"Of course you don't have to ask." Sephiroth said walking towards the elevator.
"How is Zack doing about that it's been almost a year since you know, do you think he'll be ok?" Cloud said biting his lip praying that he was over stepping boundaries.
"He's ok he misses Angeal, I noticed especially during the spring Angeal would drag us Kalm to find tress or some exotic plant he really wanted. Genesis had a knack for getting him sent to Modeoheim or Wutai so he didn't have to help out. It was kind of a inside joke between us we'd take bets on where Genesis would have himself sent to get out going" Sephiroth said as he pressed the down button for the elevator.
"Are you going to be ok sir? You were close to both of them too right? Zack said before he came along you spent a lot of time with both of them." Cloud said adjusting the sword on his back. Sephiroth was a little stunned, the only one who bothered to ask him if he was ok about anything was Zack, everyone else assumed he was cold and heartless and didn't care.
"I'm ok." Sephiroth said as the elevator finally arrived. "Like Zack I feel down on the anniversaries of their deaths and on their birthdays but Zack and I get each other thought it one hour at a time" Sephiroth said solemnly.
"We should go to the farm outside of Kalm and see if they have a Banora tree, for some reason they make Zack laugh" Cloud said in a confused tone not getting why Banora trees make Zack almost fall over giggling.
Sephiroth allowed himself to openly smile at the boy just before the elevator doors opened. "we should do it second week of spring, I'm sure Zack would love it that's when Angeal would drag us to Kalm and you should ask him to tell you the story Angeal told him about Banora trees" Sephiroth said remembering how Angeal confused Zack with the seemingly meaningless story. "One day just randomly ask him what's the deal with dumbapples." Sephiroth said as he walked down the hall
"Dumbapples?" Cloud said following closely behind Sephiroth,
"Trust me it'll be worth it "Sephiroth said turning and giving the boy a warm smile while ignoring the whispers of the other cadets that Cloud must be in trouble, he skillfully controlled his urge to snap at one cadet who made a comment of it being about time that Cloud was getting kicked out due to being a "kiss up".
"General." I voice called out causing Sephiroth to turn around as he recognized the voice.
"Hi Tseng, Trouble? Cloud meet Tseng of the Turks, Tseng meet Cloud Strife. " Sephiroth said looking at Tseng who was giving the boy more than a quick look over that caused him to want to put a sticker on Clouds chest that said 'future property of General Sephiroth.'
"You're Zack's student aren't you? I think sometimes you hang out with my new Turk Reno?" Tseng couldn't help but notice how the boy cringed at the just the mention of Reno's name.
"He's a trouble maker" Sephiroth mumbled.
"True so is Zack but he's an excellent SOILDER, give me awhile and I'll make him into a proper Turk" Tseng said triumphantly.
"I will give you all the time in the world and you will not be able to make him into a proper Turk" Sephiroth said making a clear challenge to the man with the ponytail.
"Care to put your gil where your mouth is?" Tseng said clearly showing that he was up for a challenge.
"One thousand gil and a box of premium Wutai steaks if you can" Sephiroth said as he looked at Cloud who was watching with an almost amused expression.
"You're on" Tseng said shaking the General's hand.
"What did you need?" Sephiroth asked.
"Oh yea, the underwater reactor at Junon is malfunctioning" Tseng said.
"So call Hojo" Sephiroth said not liking having to utter the man's name.
"Just between you and me, I think he had something to do with it. But a long story short there are creatures roaming the reactor and we need you to take care of it we've sent in 2 groups of first and second class SOLDIERS and they were unable to contain the area so the Turks that are in Junon are using the emergency doors to contain the creatures while they wait for you and your unit to arrive." Tseng explained.
"Won't be necessary Strife and I will take care it." Sephiroth said reaching for the tablet Tseng was holding. "it'll be an excellent chance for you to see what will be required of you if you still decide you want to be in SOLDIER and of course if your pass the entrance exam." Sephiroth said handing tablet to Tseng. "I'll be in one of the training rooms when you're ready" he added as Tseng walked away to make preparation.
"um Sir wouldn't you rather have someone like Zack with you? I'll be in the way," Cloud said nervously.
"it'll be ok Cloud you can handle this" Sephiroth put his hand on Cloud's shoulder and lead him into the training room. "Zack is always bragging about how you're an excellent student it'll be good practice."
Cloud looked around the room "this is the first training room?" Cloud asked.
"Most of them are out on assignment and I don't think they'd mind the man they aspire to be like using their training room to train a cadet. And if they did they're terrified of me and wouldn't say anything to my face. You need to equip your weapon" Sephiroth said smirking as he handed Cloud a box of different types of materia and goggles. "Ready let's begin."