Disclaimer: I do not own FFVII or its characters. This story was written purely for enjoyment and no profit was made from it.

Warning: Violence, death.

Author's Note: Firedraygon97 asked 'what if Cloud had been sent juuuuuuust a bit further back in time?' and this is what I wrote. I'm also fairly sure this wasn't what she had in mind. One-shot.

For Fallen Comrades

By Sinnatious

"That's him?" Genesis asked. "That's the man who killed Sephiroth?"

At first glance, he didn't look like much. The sword was amazing, certainly – word of that got around fast after the first couple of SOLDIERs were caught unawares and paid for it. But he was short, lithe, and if it weren't for the eerily bright blue mako eyes, he would never have given the man a second glance.

Yet this blond stranger had appeared out of nowhere and turned the entire world upside down.

This man had stolen his rival from him.

A pair of First Classes circled him, air filled with the flash of materia. Each burst of magic dissolved against a shimmering barrier, turning firestorms to embers and thunder strikes to harmless sparks. They turned to Status materia, but Sleep, Stop, Confuse - they all slid off him like water.

They dashed in with swords – perfectly synchronised in their attacks. Veterans.

A whoosh of steel, and they too fell to the ground, torn and bloodied.

They were so cold, those blue eyes. Closed off. A soul corrupted by vengeance.

"A monster," Genesis breathed.

He and Angeal were only Second Class. Teenagers, chasing dreams of glory. Sephiroth had been promoted to First mere days before the emergency call to Nibelheim. Hojo had been assassinated in his lab. The Nibelheim reactor, shut down. ShinRa sent the best they had available.

Word was, the battle lasted less than a minute.

Less than a minute against the boy he and Angeal still hadn't managed to defeat together in sparring practice. And now never would.

The stranger spoke for the first time. "I'm not interested in fighting you. I've already done what I needed to do." His voice was low, heavy. Tired.

Even as he spoke, though, it was clear to everyone that this could not slide. ShinRa would never allow it. Their pride as SOLDIERs would never allow it.

Angeal stood next to him, and raised his Buster. "For honour," he said, "And the dreams of our fallen comrades."

For Sephiroth.

They readied their swords, and prepared to die.