There was something about the green tint to her skin and the autocratic tones in which she spoke, that reminded Sephiroth of his mother. He'd been putty in her hands from the very first time he heard her use the word 'imbecile'.

Truly, it was an opinion and sentiment he could understand. He knew how hard it was to find good help, not to mention worthy adversaries. Had it been up to Sephiroth, that numbskull Pete would have met an abrupt end on the Masamune the first time he fouled up an order. Maleficent, however, had the patience of a saint, and had allowed the idiot a large number of chances to prove himself. She was also incredibly nurturing to the Heartless, coaxing no few rare varieties into being. It reminded him of the way his mother could engender the most worthless material to grow and change into something terrific.

In the original sense of the word.

Yes, Cloud would no doubt laugh himself senseless when he learned, but Sephiroth was smitten. Not even the way her horns were only a hair's-breadth away from his eyes when they cuddled could deter him: he liked his women dangerous and bossy. Megalomaniacal. It was such a thrill when a woman like that wanted you in her bed.

Besides, he couldn't say his wings made things easy, either.

They'd been seeing each other for the better part of two years when he decided it was time to take the next step. Of course, finding the right ring proved difficult. She was partial to moonstone, and to black and purple, but none of those were traditional choices. Was the epitome of evil womanhood girlish enough to favor the classics and prefer diamonds?

Then he remembered that his mother would have wanted it all – moonstone and obsidian and amethyst and diamonds. She'd been greedy like that, and he thought Maleficent's similar tendencies were adorable. So he'd commissioned the ring, and kindly ignored the grimace of distaste when the jeweler took his order. There would be time to kill the man later, once the work was finished. And what a thing of baroque beauty it was! Large, overstated and ornate. With her love for grand entrances and overblown gestures, Maleficent would no doubt be enthralled.

Wanting to do the thing right, he took her out to dinner and then for a stroll in the moonlight along the Great Maw in Radiant Garden. Maleficent had an artist's fondness for the destruction she'd wrought, and it was often all it took to get her 'in the mood'.

Unfortunately, as they meandered through the Crystal Fissure they ran into Cloud. While locking blades with the man was not part of his original plan, Maleficent always professed to love watching him fight (and the adrenalin rush was enjoyable, too), so Sephiroth was willing to engage in a short exchange of blows.

He was not prepared for Cloud to lecture him on his choice of women.

"It's bad enough I have a demon like you lurking in my past," the blond explained, "and until now, you've at least had the decency not to make a big deal about being evil. You've been low-key, refusing to side with either the Heartless or the Nobodies. At least not openly." Leaning on the metal plank he called a sword, Cloud gestured at Maleficent, "This, though, is too much."

The urge to gut his nemesis was nigh unbearable. "I fail to see how it concerns you."

Cloud gaped. "You go around calling yourself the embodiment of my darkness, and you don't see how your love life might affect me?"

Against his will, Sephiroth had to admit the blond had a point.

"Sephiroth, what is this foolishness?" Maleficent demanded in the awkward silence.

Grudgingly, the silver-haired swordsman made the introductions. "Cloud, this is Maleficent. Maleficent, this is Cloud. I may have mentioned him a time or two."

Looking Cloud over, she arched her brows. "He's shorter than I expected. No matter," she made an imperious shooing motion, "begone!"

Folding his arms, Cloud stared back at her. "Does that really work for you?"

"Cloud!" Sephiroth hissed, and then could have slapped himself. He sounded like a disgruntled teen. Maybe he could appeal to the other man's better nature. After all, if Sephiroth was his darkness, didn't that – technically – mean that Cloud was comprised 100% of 'better nature'? "This is an important night for me, could we please talk about your objections later?"

Never taking his eyes off Maleficent, Cloud slowly shook his head. "I've already waited too long. I kept hoping you'd come to your senses." Blue eyes slanted sideways, fixing Sephiroth with a glare. "Look, I know she reminds you of Jenova, but marrying her is taking the Oedipal thing too far. It's not only unhealthy, it's creepy." Broad shoulders mimed a shudder.

"Marriage?" Maleficent demanded, "You were planning to propose to me? As if I were some weak-willed puppet to adorn your arm?"

Sephiroth opened his mouth, but Cloud spoke over him. "He likes puppets. Manipulating people is one of his hobbies."

"You can shut-up now," Sephiroth ordered, before turning and attempting to reason with his lady-love. "Of course not," he began, rummaging in a pocket for the ring box, "you are the mistress of my heart–"

"I am the mistress of all evil!" she thundered, throwing her arms wide in one of those theatrical gestures he normally found endearing, but – with Cloud snickering – was forced to concede were, in actuality, flamboyant and unnecessary. "Your heart is paltry in comparison!"

"Ouch," Cloud whispered, his tone falsely sympathetic. Destroying Sephiroth's love-life was doing wonders for his outlook. Aerith would no doubt lecture him on his vindictive tendencies later.

"Enough! You're no better than that idiot Jafar. Riding on my coat-tails, both of you!"

"Cloak-tails," Cloud corrected, "or maybe skirt-tails. Dress-tails?" He used his sword to deflect the stream of green fire she directed at him in response.

"For a man who doesn't talk much, you're finding entirely too many things to comment on!" Sephiroth hissed. Really, how had asking such a simple little question while giving her a ring become such a difficult task? "Maleficent, hear me out," he said, coming as close to begging as was possible for a man like him.

Maleficent, however, was in a towering rage, and completely uninterested in listening to reason. "Imbecile!" she snarled at him, lifting her staff, "We're through!"

And with a swirl of her cloak and a flash of sulfurous fire, she was gone.

"Well," Cloud remarked, idly shouldering his sword, "she was pleasant. I can see why you'd be in love."

Sephiroth glared. "I hate you."

"Mama's boy," Cloud returned. "Don't worry, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. Some of them are even that blue-green color you find so fetching."

Gritting his teeth, Sephiroth rose into the air, making his exit with as much dignity as he could muster. Below him, in the dark, Cloud called out one last taunt:

"Hey, I've heard Yuffie turns green when she travels, is she your type?"