"You might want to consider crating," the Turk SiC said coldly to the man on the other side of the phone. Angeal grumbled quietly, but Tseng continued to talk anyway.
"Yes, I understand…" Angeal sighed into his phone, "There won't be another incident. You have my word, SOLDIER First Class Zack Fair is receiving a punishment fitting of what he has done."
"Hmph. We'll see Hewley," with that, the Turk cut the line. Angeal was still sitting with the phone to his ear, looking extremely annoyed.
"Hey 'geal? What's 'crating'?" Zack asked from his spot on the mat, a good ten feet from the larger black haired man. His distraction earned him a pop on the arm from Genesis. "Ow! Dammit Genesis that hurt!" Zack griped as he rubbed his arm where the tips of the man's fingers had hit him, "That hurt like hell…"
"Pay attention! You're ruining the mood I've worked so hard to set," the copper haired man warned.
"Ugh! I hate 'Loveless'," Zack groaned and fell onto his side as the Crimson General went on reading aloud.
"That's exactly why it's your punishment…" Angeal said calmly, finally hanging his phone up. "You just had to go and get yourself in more trouble… What am I going to do with you, Zack?" the man asked hopelessly.
Zack pouted at him, "It's not my fault, blame Reno." Genesis was still droning on in the background. "He's the one that started all this crap," the youngest First said quietly, reaching up to scratch his stomach in a lazy manner.
"What did he do to you?" Genesis asked abruptly, now looking up from his book. He loved reading, but instigating was an even larger hobby of his.
"Yes, what exactly did he do, Zack?" Angeal asked suspiciously, though he knew it wasn't Zack that Reno had done something to.
The young First let out an exasperated sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose in a very Sephiroth-esque gesture. The teen mumbled something that neither of the older men caught.
"Pardon?" the copper haired man asked, amusement clear in his voice.
Zack pulled his hand away from his face and peered through his fall of dark bangs, "I said, he's a pervert." The young SOLDIER seemed extremely irritated as he recalled the events of the past day. When Genesis gestured for him to continue he huffed and did so, "I told you how I met Cloud. The guy has something about him that just made me feel the urge to keep him close, protect him, ya know?… And before you say anything about it being sexual, it's not. He just seems like a long lost little brother…"
Genesis hummed thoughtfully and Angeal just nodded in understanding.
Zack continued, "Well, Reno was on the mission and when I wasn't talking to Cloud, I was talking to him. He made a few… remarks and tried to move in. When he did… I tripped him. He landed flat on his face," the teen snickered, but quit when he saw the disapproving look on Angeal's face. Embarrassed, he lowered his head and murmured the rest of his little story. Genesis moved closer to hear.
"What did he say?" the copper haired man asked, a little too interested. Zack humored him though.
"He said he wondered if he could fit his fist into Cloud's-" Zack looked absolutely mortified when Genesis busted out laughing, he didn't even have to finish the sentence…
"Zack…" the older black haired man half-heartedly scolded. He couldn't really blame Zack for doing what he'd done.
"Oh, 'geal, it was awful… Cloud got all mad, but he didn't know that I was trying to protect him. So I helped Reno up and told him it was an accident, only Cloud didn't believe me so he didn't talk to me for like an hour and I was so bored. Then Reno 'fell' on Cloud and ended up with both his hands on Cloud's butt, and was all like, 'I'm sorry, yo. Zack tripped me again, and I just reached out for the anything close.' And Cloud looked at him for a long time then he forgave him! Reno told him that I tripped him again! Ugh!" Zack fell back onto the mat, on his back and kicked his feet childishly.
"That's why you broke his hand?" Angeal asked, clearly confused. Genesis had started chuckling, his book forgotten for the moment.
"After he did it again yesterday. Yes! Damn right that's why I broke his hand! And I would have broken the other one too, had Cloud not jumped on me… For being a little guy he's pretty strong… Little bastard got me in a headlock and for the life of me I couldn't do anything, I didn't wanna hurt him." Zack's voice started out sounding dark and angry, but by the end it held a form of amusement.
Genesis snickered, earning a murderous look from Zack. Angeal scratched his beard and adverted his eyes.
"Little brother… Did you ever find out how old he was?" Slate eyes turned back to Zack and Genesis. Genesis had finally stopped and was just giving Zack a sly look.
"He's fifteen," His student said irritably. Genesis gagged and Angeal masked his concern. "I have a picture…" Zack announced as he flipped his phone open, "I was gonna show you the day before yesterday but Cloud called and I had to rush out, and you took away my phone for a while..." He was pushing buttons until he turned the phone around and showed them both a picture of a beautiful, fair skinned teenager with pale hair and bright eyes.
Genesis snatched the phone and looked at it closely, "How have I not known about this angel?" Angeal tried to take the phone but Genesis twisted away and continued to look at the picture. "When the war of the beasts brings about the world's end/The goddess descends from the sky/Wings of light and dark spread afar/She guides us to bliss, her gift everlasting," then he started pushing buttons.
"Don't call Cloud a GIRL!" Zack yelled indignantly, "He's already self-conscious!"
"He has no reason to be, he's beautiful. He could be the Goddess herself, incarnated into human form," Genesis said angrily. Daring Zack to tell him that he was wrong. Blue-green eyes stared at the teenager for a long minute before he looked back down at the phone and continued pressing buttons.
"So, what happened yesterday that made you rush off and destroy my desk?" Angeal asked, grimacing at the memory of cleaning up the mess. The raven haired teen glanced over at him, confused for a moment.
"Oh! Reno wanted the virginity of his lips," Zack said darkly, turning his gaze from Angeal back to Genesis, "You gonna give me my phone back or what?" Genesis ignored him and continued his button mashing.
"Gen?" the dark haired First asked suspiciously.
"Picture message," the copper haired man answered distractedly. It was then that Zack sprung into action.
"Like hell I'm going to let you do dirty things to yourself while lookin' at his picture!" the young SOLDIER growled as he pounced on Genesis and wrestled his phone away. Genesis sat, looking like a mess after Zack had mauled him. His hair was thoroughly ruffled and his clothes more than a little lopsided. Angeal snorted and the copper haired man pouted until his phone buzzed, and Zack looked down at his own phone to see that 'SENT' was on the screen. The teen drooped. Genesis cackled; Sounding suspiciously like Hojo, and that made all three pause and shiver.
Angeal shook his head at the two then reached forward and gently took the handheld from his student. He could almost see the dark little storm cloud looming over the teenager's head. His eyes went back to the phone as he began scrolling through pictures until he reached the messy blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
The boy really was beautiful. Soft features, though definitely male. Big blue eyes that almost glowed, straight nose the led down to full, soft looking lips, the outline of his face still held a boyish look, and his hair was wild and spiked like Zack's. The corners of the teen's mouth were turned up into a smile that brought a smile to Angeal's face. Cloud didn't look like he could hurt a fly, but the large First knew better; this boy had supposedly saved Zack, he'd have to remember to thank the blonde.
"A lot of people do that when they see him smile," Zack told him as he handed the phone back. The young First turned the phone so that he could look at the picture for a moment before flicking it shut. "Then there are some like Reno and Genesis," he threw a heated look at the man, "that leer at him like they're starving men and he's a piece of meat."
"Gen, if Lazard sees a trooper's picture on your phone you know as well as I do that it's gonna lead to questions…" he told his friend, knowing that it would only bother Zack more and more as time passed.
"Zackary has a picture of him on his phone," Genesis pointed out without looking up from the message that he was spelling out. No doubt sending the picture to Sephiroth, but he wouldn't tell Zack that; he knew that his student would throw a tantrum.
"Zack isn't nine years older than him," Angeal shot back, sounding bored. Genesis finally looked up at him and made a small noise that clearly sounded like annoyances. He and Angeal shared a long look before he sighed and gave in.
"Fine… I was only going to stare at it in appreciation…" he growled and scooted forward so Zack could see him delete the picture. The teenage First made a happy little sound as he watched Genesis erase the picture from his phone.
The double doors leading into the training room squeaked in protest as they were opened. Zack and Genesis looked up, expecting to see Tseng coming to check on them; instead they were shocked the see Cloud walking in with Zack's friend, Kunsel. He quietly thanked the man for showing him where Zack was. It was the same soft voice as the one on the other end of the phone, and without the odd recorded quality between them. It was quite pleasing to listen to.
"Thank you, sir," Cloud saluted Kunsel, making the man grin.
"Just call me Kunsel. See ya round, Cloud," Kunsel said lightly, throwing a casual wave at Zack as he walked out.
Cloud lowered his hand, and turned to look at the three men sitting on and near the training mat. Bright blue eyes settled on Zack as he made his way over to the little group. "Sirs!" he snapped to a quick salute. Zack quickly waved off the formalities in favor of pulling the younger teen to the floor with him.
Genesis and Angeal watched on quietly as Zack wrestled Cloud into submission, all the while scolding him for calling a friend 'Sir'. The raven haired teen ended up sitting on the poor infantryman, squishing him beneath his heavier weight. After he was sure the message had gotten across he let go and straightened himself up. Cloud slowly pushed himself off the floor, looking thoroughly mussed. "Zack, you messed up my hair…" he muttered dejectedly, completely embarrassed at being manhandled in front of two of SOLDER's top operatives.
"We were actually just talking about you," Zack told him, snickering at the even wilder hair than normal. He watched as Cloud finger combed his hair until it looked similar to what it normally did.
"About me?" Cloud mumbled, casting a quick look at Genesis and Angeal. His eyes finally returned to Zack, "Why would you be talking about me?"
The boys went on talking, but Angeal became distracted by an almost inaudible buzz. Slate eyes slid from Cloud and Zack to Genesis.
The copper haired man was sitting up in an unnaturally straight position. His aqua colored eyes flickered down to his pocket before he turned his head to Angeal so quickly that it surprised the larger man that he hadn't given himself whiplash. "I have something to attend to, for the rest of his punishment make your puppy do squats until he can't stand up straight…" The copper haired general stood up gracefully and left without another word; on his way out Angeal saw him pull his phone out. Angeal mused that Sephiroth must have messaged Genesis back then his attention was turned back to the two teenagers.
Zack was grinning ear to ear and Cloud was a bit red in the face. The blonde lowered his head and looked at his friend through his bangs, "That's not funny Zack," he pouted slightly.
Angeal was left to wonder what he had missed, because Zack looked at him and smiled obviously about to change the subject.
"So Angeal, this is Cloud Strife. Cloudy this is Angeal Hewley, my mentor," Zack introduced the two amiably. He grabbed their hands and made them shake.
Cloud looked on, stunned as his hand was put into Angeal's much larger one. Angeal watched him as he looked down at their hands with an unreadable look. His hand fit perfectly into the black haired SOLDIER General's.
Cloud peeked up through his bangs at Angeal, looking almost shy, "It's nice to formally meet you, sir." He offered a small smile to the larger of the two Firsts.
Angeal smiled a bit and gave his hand a firm shake, "It's an honor to finally meet you, Strife."
Cloud lifted his head and shook it slowly, "Cloud is fine, sir."
The older First had to smile, "Then please, call me Angeal." He watched as Cloud flushed and began to sputter protests about being respectful and what not.
Zack proceeded to babble on, making sure to talk above Cloud until he quieted down. He went on for around half and hour before getting Cloud to open up a little more; though he still seemed nervous. Ocean blue eyes kept flicking over to Angeal, though the man pretended not to notice.
The blonde proceeded to tell them that he didn't have guard duty until late in the evening and wasn't doing much of anything until then; so, he had decided to seek out Zack to apologize for getting him in trouble.
Zack grinned and pulled Cloud into a bear hug, "Aw, that's so nice of you." He seemed to purposely ignore the blonde's protests and wiggling to get free. He appeared to be going out of his way to make the younger teen flustered and messy looking. It really did look like a display of brotherly affection, and that in itself made Angeal smile.
When Zack finally let the wiggling blonde go he acted like nothing had happened; Cloud's lack of breath, messy uniform, and wild hair said otherwise though. It looked like they had done a little more than hug, but Angeal knew how affectionate his student could get.
"So, did you ever manage to get your hands on a sword?" Zack casually asking the blonde, interrupting his mentor's thoughts.
Cloud shook his head and began to finger comb his hair again, muttering about how his friend had no respect. "I don't have any money Zack, and Shinra is reluctant to let their troopers spar or train together with anything live. If I can't convince them to let me, I'll never be ready for the SOLDIER exam…" he sighed and dropped his hand, leaving his hair a mess.
"That sucks man. I'll see what I can do… I'll talk to Sephiroth about talking to the President, so maybe they'll put the troopers through at least basic sword training. You guys need some form of defense besides the M16 and nightstick," the older teen told his friend, grinning the whole time.
"That M16 saved your butt Mr. SOLDIER," Cloud smiled playfully. Zack let out an indignant squawk and attempted to pull Cloud to the floor again.
"Maybe I won't do you a favor then," the older boy teased back. "How would you like that, huh?" he asked, glaring at the blonde who was just smiling at him; the black haired teen's angry act was ruined by the large grin on his face, but it didn't stop him from trying to be convincing.
Angeal perked up at the mention of the incident he wanted to bring up. "Speaking of which," he turned his eyes to Zack as he spoke, a stern look set on his face. Zack shrank immediately. "You still haven't been disciplined for neglecting your duties on the battlefield," his student's eyes widened as if he knew what his mentor was going to say next. "I do believe that Genesis was onto something… Get started Zack, and don't stop 'til I say so," the larger First sternly told his student. When Zack didn't move Angeal did something close to a glare. Zack jumped up and looked at Cloud like he had been betrayed, to which the blonde simply snorted back a laugh and made a shooing motion with his hand. Zack scoffed in disbelief and shook his head, mumbling something about getting him back one day.
Angeal watched Zack for a few minutes before turning to Cloud. The blonde was watching on, smiling widely at Zack. "You want to be in SOLDIER then?" Angeal asked softly. He watched as Cloud stiffened and turned his attention to him.
"Yes sir, more than anything. I… I wanna be First Class," the blonde told him nervously. Blue eyes were downcast and his bangs fell gently across his face. Angeal could see the light dusting of freckles on the teen's face.
Cloud wouldn't last thirty minutes in a room with some of the other SOLDIERs, and the thought saddened Angeal. Shin-Ra really was a terrible place for pretty faces. Most of the Mako enhanced men in SOLDIER were afraid of coupling with civilians for fear of causing injuries in the acts that revolved around sex. Their solution was to find other Mako enhanced individuals, four out of five times it seemed to be for release but the remaining fifth person was the SOLDIERs that had found a relationship in the riffraff. Angeal was surprise that he had protected Zack for as long as he had. Once the teen had gotten to First the black haired man stepped back and let him handle things, but he still checked around for trouble from time to time.
The longer he looked at Cloud the stronger the urge to help him became. He could see the honesty and hope in those ocean blue eyes when Cloud spoke. Angeal knew that Zack wouldn't have died from a monster attack on a routine mission, but he could have been injured; so he owed the blonde for watching his student's back. The least he could do was teach him basic sword skills. He took a deep breath, not sure if he was going to regret his next words or not, "Would you like me to train you?"