Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy, because if I can't even draw Zack, I obviously don't own a video game about him.

A/N: So… this is going to be a really interestingly genre-ed story. Humor and horror, what kind of combination is that! Anyway, I think some of the big reasons why everyone is getting into so much trouble in this is because Zack is being an idiot. Yay!

A Dark and Stormy Night

You know, ninety percent of horror stories begin with the phrase "it was a dark and stormy night". Thus, this phrase has become increasingly clichéd over time, and often, people don't use it because they want to think outside the box and make up something new and original.

This story does begin with "it was a dark and stormy night", because there is no better way to describe the situation.

Hey, at least it doesn't begin with "once upon a time".

VII

Zack Fair did not appreciate this stormy night, not at all. His hair was getting soaked, which meant it wasn't anywhere near as spiky as he liked it. Despite the fact that he no longer looked like he stuck a fork in an electric socket, he was in a distinctly bad mood. "Angeal! Can't we get out of the rain for like five minutes?" Zack asked, pleading with his mentor. Sephiroth, Genesis, and Angeal didn't seem to appreciate the rain very much, either, but they complained a lot less than Zack did on a regular basis.

"Do you see anywhere to get out of the rain, boy?" Genesis hissed, clutching at the front of his jacket under which was hidden his copy of Loveless.

"Besides, we're SOLDIER! We finish our missions whether it's rain, sleet, snow, hail…" Angeal said.

"That's postmen, Angeal," Sephiroth pointed out.

"Well, it applies to us as well," Angeal said.

While Sephiroth and Angeal were arguing about the similarities between postmen and SOLDIER operatives, Zack spotted something on the road up ahead of them. It was a large building, probably a house or an inn. He couldn't really tell, because only the silhouette of the building was visible through the pouring rain. The house was surrounded by scraggly trees that were completely bare of leaves, regardless of the fact that it was the middle of summer. "Hey! Up there!" Zack shouted, pointing at the house.

Angeal and Sephiroth both turned to look at the house, whilst Genesis quoted something from Loveless about the words "up there". No one was really sure why he carried the book around when he practically had the whole thing memorized. "So what? It's a creepy old mansion," Angeal said.

"We can stay there until the storm blows over!" Zack replied, "C'mon!"

Angeal, Sephiroth, and Genesis had no choice but to follow Zack up the hill to the house. Although Angeal didn't doubt his trainee's choice of a shelter (because there was no other shelter around), he couldn't help but feel like there was something strange about the place. It was an almost eerie feeling, as though they were being watched. Angeal decided to ignore the premonition. They were SOLDIER, what could the residents of some creepy house do to them?

Zack reached the front door, and began banging on it, but no one replied. "Hey! Hello in there!" he called, pounding on the door with the huge, skeleton-shaped door knocker. Angeal raised an eyebrow as he looked at it. If that wasn't strange, he didn't know what was. Sephiroth rolled his eyes and reached past Zack to press an ordinary-looking, modern doorbell. Chimes that sounded like an organ reverberated through the house, and the door slid open with a loud, hollow creak that echoed almost painfully.

Zack felt a chill go up his spine as he glanced around the room. Even though it was dark, he could see very well with his mako-enhanced eyesight. And he could tell that there was no one in the room. "How…" he paused and swallowed when he found that his throat was completely dry. "How did the door open?"

He gasped, and jumped into the air about a foot when he felt a cold hand on his arm. Realizing it was Sephiroth, Zack sighed and shook his head. "Don't scare me like that, man," he said.

"Look over there," Sephiroth said, pointing at a painting on the wall. There was a young woman in the picture, sitting in a chair. She appeared to be facing the group, her stony gray eyes fixed on them. Her expression was almost one of surprise, but it could easily be fear as well. Zack gave a low whistle.

"She's cute," he said, stepping into the room to take a closer look at the picture. The other men crowded in behind him, all looking around for any signs of danger. Apparently they all felt the same creepy feeling that Angeal had upon entering the house. Zack now seemed to be rather distracted from any suspicions because of the beautiful girl, but Angeal pulled on his arm to drag him away from the painting.

"Look at this," Genesis said, pointing to the couch. There was a large rip in the center of it, surrounded by a brownish stain. Genesis poked it gingerly, hoping that despite the rip, they could find somewhere to sit. "It's soaking wet!" he realized when the fabric audibly squished under his touch. The carpet around the couch was wet as well, and there was a strange musty smell coming from it.

Zack still felt like someone was watching him. The hair on the back of his neck was standing up, even if the rest of it was flat because of the rain. He glanced around, to find that the room was still empty. As his eyes searched over the room, he noticed something very strange about the painting. "Guys…" he whispered, "was she facing this direction before?"

Genesis emitted a noise that sounded like a surprised kitten, and Angeal just smacked Zack on the head. "Yes, she was!" he snapped.

"Oh," Zack replied.

"Stop scaring us like that," Genesis sighed.

"You were the only one who was scared," Sephiroth pointed out.

"Come on, just because it's a creepy old house, there's a suspicious stain on the couch, it's a dark and stormy night, and there is some weird painting on the wall we have no reason to believe it's haunted or anything!" Angeal said, trying to boost everyone's morale. However, he had just said the one word that one of them dared to utter for the whole time, but all of them were thinking. Haunted.

Zack shivered, and not just because of the cold.

"This place… it's not normal," he said.

Genesis shook his head. "It's paranormal."