Housetraining the Puppy

Summary: When Angeal is forced to leave on a week-long mission to Mideel, he leaves his energetic Puppy in Sephiroth's care. The only problem being, no one mentioned this to the General. Pairings: Sephiroth/Zack, implied Angeal/Zack

Disclaimer: Nope, I don't own them, and I am not foolish enough to say that I do. They belong to Square, due to that merger between Shinra Electric and Squaresoft a few years back. I'm just toying with our favorite playthings. Hopefully, they won't kill me when I'm through.

Part One: Interception

Contrary to popular belief, Zack Fair was not at all a morning person. Sure, he got up everyday at an almost obscene hour as it was drilled into his head by his years in the military, before dragging his still half-asleep ass to work. But that didn't mean he liked it. In fact, "not liking it," was a severe understatement. So, with that in mind, Angeal wasn't particularly shocked when he heard the long line of profanity stream from his student's lips when he tried to wake the pup up a bit earlier than usual.

"Zack, it's time to get up," Angeal said gently as he tried coaxing the black-haired boy away from his somewhat soggy pillow. The boy naturally slept on his stomach with his arms tangled around his pillow, so it wouldn't be hard for Angeal to drag him off the bed by looping a strong arm around his middle, but something prevented him from doing so. It was probably because he knew what the rest of the week would entail, so he felt that he should be nice this one time. After all, it was because of him that his puppy would be in such a situation.

"Nngh, I dun'wanna, Ma," the teen sleepily replied as he snuggled deeper into his pillow and shrugged his mentor's hands from his shoulders. It was endearing to see the young Soldier so at peace, but it really was time to get up. In order for Angeal's plan to work, he and his pup would have to be up earlier than their opponent, who was an early riser himself.

"Zack, did you forget what day today is," he asked softly, hoping his question would somehow manage to penetrate the sleepy fog filling the teenager's mind. Luckily, it did. The teen's eyes burst open and he sat up quickly, his drool-stained pillow long forgotten, looking as though shocked into consciousness. His hair, which always stood spiked in odd angles, did nothing to deter the picture. Angeal couldn't help but chuckle.

"Now that you're up, you can start getting ready," Angeal added, shifting his weight closer to the edge of the bed, before getting off in entirely. He stood back a moment, watching Zack to make sure the teen didn't try to go back to sleep.

"What time is it?" Zack mumbled as he too removed himself from the bed, albeit in a much clumsier fashion than his mentor, before stumbling off in the direction of the small bathroom. Once inside, Zack looked at his dreary reflection in the mirror, before starting a hastened version of his morning rituals.

"A quarter past three," Came Angeal's reply from the other side of the not quite shut door. When there came no answer except for the sound of running water and the brushing of teeth, Angeal figured it would be alright to give the teen some space and backed away from the door. Leaning his large frame against the wall, he waited for the teen finish.

"Ugh. Tell me again, why we have to be up this early," sighed a disgruntled Zack, still just as sleepy looking as before, but with only slightly better tamed hair and a towel in hand. As far as Angeal and Zack were concerned, there was no such thing as a good hair day for Zack, his days only falling into the bad and slightly better categories.

"Sephiroth usually gets up around four," Angeal answered, looking away from the sight of his student balancing on one leg, hunched over, and struggling with a pair of pants. Unsurprisingly, the pair refused to straighten out of the crumpled heap they had been thrown into last night. "He leaves his apartment around four thirty. That is our time to strike, or in this case, intercept."

Standing ridged, with his pants still at his ankles, Zack could only stare, "You know, you scare me sometimes, Angeal."

Oddly enough, it wasn't the shrill ringing of his small bedside alarm clock that had woken Sephiroth up, but the ringing of his PHS across the room. As he cracked open one bleary eye, he threw out his hand in the general direction of his alarm and with the other, pushed his massive frame from beneath the comfortable sheets.

After rubbing the remaining sleep from his eyes, Sephiroth slid from his bed and made for his bathroom. Even after his morning absolutions, it was a few minutes before he decided to check his PHS, which had stopped ringing a moment or two after his hand connected with his alarm. He idly wondered who would call him at such an early hour, but decided that it probably didn't matter as whoever called probably had ordered his dispatch to some odd place. Why else would anyone call?

Now, if he only could remember where he left the blasted thing…

Taking a few steps away from the door joining his bedroom and bath, he glanced quickly at his bedside table for the small back handheld. Upon not seeing it, he let out the smallest of growls and headed towards his laundry bin, hoping that he had not indeed left the device in his trouser pocket the night before.

Apparently, he had.

Flipping it open, he pressed the speed-dial for his voice mail and held the device to his ear. As it connected, Sephiroth began the process of getting dressed. After a few seconds of waiting, followed by the request for his PIN, the computer-generated voice informed him that he had only one new message.

He steeled himself for the worse as he pulled on his socks, but the voice he was greeted with was not one which he had been expecting. Sephiroth had expected Lazard or Veld, but the voice belonged to neither. It belonged to Angeal.

"Sephiroth, this is Angeal. Sorry for this morning, but I really had no other choice," Two platinum brows furrowed as Sephiroth searched his mind for answers. He couldn't help but wonder what in Shiva's name could Angeal be apologizing for. Was it because he was going on a mission for a few days? Why would he be bothered by that? And as for him not having a choice, that was practically a given.

After a few more moments of analyzing his friend's words, a thought stuck him, causing his blood to run cold. Maybe Angeal was apologizing on behalf of his student, for some practical joke gone wrong. Again. Remembering the last incident orcestrated by the Second Class, he offered a silent plea to anyone listening that the boy did not attempt another ridiculus stunt. The last one had resulted in a waterlogged lounge, fifteen poisoned Thirds, a scorched Turk, and the whole of the fourty-second floor being closed off for more than a week.

"So, you see, that's why I thought you should be the one," Angeal's voice broke the silver haired man out of his thoughts as the message began to wind down to its end.

Again, questions sprung to the front of the swordsman's mind. Usually, Angeal prefered to deal with his student personally. Angeal seemed to believe Sephiroth himself to be a little too stict, if not cruel, when it came to punshments for delinquent behavior.

But, even Angeal had to admit, his way did tend to get results.

"Good luck," his friend added a few seconds later, as the sounds of a chopper starting cut though the air. Then, as though an after-thought, he added, "and please try not to kill him."

Now properly dressed, minus his trademark leather coat, he decided the situation warranted a strong cup of coffee. Drinking quickly, he was able to finish his last minute preparations with a little time to spare. Grabbing his coat from the hanger next to the door and strugging it on, he couldn't help the smirk that graced his features. Angeal was in for a surprise.

Putting the device in his coat pocket, Sephiroth's mind flirted with various ideas and apropriate punishments he could inflict on the boy. He could indeed be the 'sadistic bastard' that both his troops and enemies viewed him as, when he wanted to be.

Well, whatever didn't outright kill the boy would make him all the stronger. At least that's what Sephiroth believed.

He never thought for a moment, however, that finding the before mentioned black-haired menis would be as easy as taking a step out of his apartment. Nor, did he ever take the expression 'falling over someone' so literally either.

It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, but now that the imfamous Silver General was staring him down with narrowed eyes and a disgrunted look plastered to his usually stoc face, Zack realized he should have thought out his sleeping position a little better. He offered a sheepish grin in apology, but the grin quickly faltered, when the silver haired man above him did nothing more than stare back impassively, apparently awaiting an explantion.

"Well, you see..." Zack began, waiting for his commanding officer to straighten himself out of the awkard position he was in, though to anyone else it may have seemed more natural. However, this was Sephiroth, and Zack knew for a fact Sephiroth simply did not stumble over the prone bodies of his friend's apprentiences.

Zack also knew that it was also beneath the famed General to admit to or even consider contemplating the possibility of barely being able to catch himself before landing as a heap on top of said student. So, when both happened in the span of only thirty seconds and to him of all people, he realized that he would not be walking away from this encounter unscathed. It was a matter of pride, Sephiroth's pride in fact, and everyone knew the swordsman had a little more pride than most.

"The strangest thing happend to me this morning," Zack tried, when Sephiroth didn't imediately straighten from his slightly hunched position over Zack, with his left hand splayed against the wall for support and his right boot digging into the teen's ribs.

The dark haired teen swallowed thickly when fierce green eyes narrowed even further. What a great way to start the week, Zack dismally thought.

"What did you do this time," Sephiroth asked darkly. Ignoring Zack's surprised expression, the irate First Class continued in a hushed tone that didn't bode well for the raven haired Second. Zack sat stunned as the older swordsman listed off possible offences, a mix venom and sarcasm lacing his words.

"Did it involve fire?" The General asked, before any words could leave the teen's mouth, in either protest or confession.

"Prehaps another burnt Turk..." he amended, though it seemed that comment was directed more towards himself than to Zack. Ever since that last incident, there was some unspoken rule which forbid Zack from being even in the same room as a piece of Fire materia, mastered or otherwise.

"Or was it Ice this time? I doubt I will ever understand the facination you people have with freezing cadets under the showers," Sephiroth continued, pinning the teen with a look which stated clearly that he was unamused. With platinum eyebrows furrowed and his emerald gaze focused on the teen, the older swordsman waited for an answer.

Ignoring the green eyed man's glare, Zack opened his mouth to speak, "Sir, with all due respect, it was nothing like that. I swear."

After a seemingly endless staring contest between the two Soldiers, where Zack felt like his Superior was trying to glare a hole into his very soul, Sephiroth crossed his arms over his chest and thankfully looked away from the younger man with a quit hum. Studying the man who still somewhat hunched over him, Zack could see the older man was still not one hundred percent convinced. It hurt.

Although he was well aware of his reputation among the higher-ups as a bit of a trouble maker, due to a few poorly timed and even more poorly exacuted pranks, a certain sense of sadness began to well up inside himself when he though about his Superior's utter lack of faith in him.

"I'll believe you. This time," the General stated with finality, though he did give Zack a look the teen could easily decipher, due to all the times his mentor had done the same. It was the look of 'you'd better not disappoint me' and Zack would do his best. Trust did not come easily from the General, faith was even less so. That in mind, Zack would do nothing that could compromise this precious gift from his mentor's long time friend.

In all honesty, Zack had never know such a stick in the mud before meeting the General, though Angeal used to come in a close second before the man began to loosen up as a result of living with his black haired apprentice. However as time went by, the teen began to see a little of what drew and cemented the Firsts' loyalty to their General. He certainly couldn't claim to know the man all that well, but that same something present in all Firsts and even in a few of the older Turks, it certainly planted a small part of itself somewhere in Zack as well.

He wasn't sure when exactly Sephiroth had started to get to his feet, but as the teen looked up, he could feel the usual cool calm surrounding the older man like a blanket. By the time the legendary swordsman was standing at his full height, Zack was already sitting up and getting ready to stand. Stepping back only enough to let the other man get to his feet, Sephiroth did not extend a hand to help the Second up. But then again, Zack didn't expect him to. It was another silent, unspoken rule, of sorts.

"Thanks," he said simply, following closely behind his Superior, in the direction he guessed was the mess hall.

The quiet was of a comfortable sort, as they made their way towards the elevator at the end of the hall. Looking around, the teen took in his surroundings. About four or five steps away from the shiny metal door, Zack startled when he heard what sounded like a slight chuckle.

"What's up?" he asked, quickening his pace so he was side by side with his General. Turning so he could get a better look at the other man's face, Zack opened his mouth to speak when the sight of Sephiroth's infamous smirk sapped his ability to speak for a moment. This time, it was free of malice or mocking, like he was used to seeing from the virtrual Sephiroth who inhabited the Level 47 training rooms.

"I was just thinking," he replied cryptically, the corners of his mouth curling slightly.

Suddenly the ping signally the elevator's arrival sounded from somewhere behind the teen, startling Zack a bit. Only after they were both settled inside and Sephiroth had long since reached out to select their destination, did he continue. "After hearing Angeal's message, for a moment, I had feared you had used all three elements this time."

"All three elements?" he repeated. Stunned, Zack stared at the silver haired man in awe. In all his time as the Prank Master of Soldier, he had never thought to use all three elemental materia at once for an all out attack, though he was unsure if it was only due to some sort of deeply buried sense of self preservation. Leave it to the master stratigiest of Shinra to come up with something so devious.

But before he could think any more of the matter, the elevator doors opened. Taking a bold step forward, Zack stopped when he noticed the older man had yet to make any motion to exit the elevator. A second later, Sephiroth brushed past him, murmuring loud enough so only he would hear.

"But then I thought about it and realized you would never be so foolish as to try. After all, even you know better than to try something so suicidal."

Zack was sure the temperature dropped by at least twenty degrees.

To Be Continued...

A/N: Originally posted on LJ under the same name.