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The Fifth Act, Chapter 22

Title: The Fifth Act

T for violence.

Summary: FFVII Time-travel. Gen. Cloud has an accident with a Time Materia.

Author's Note:  Tennis finals were awesome.  I'm still on an adrenaline rush.  Will maybe post on it tomorrow.  I need more hours in the day.  In the meantime, here's Chapter 22!  Nice and long and filled with lots and lots of Tseng.

Previous Chapter  




The Fifth Act Chapter 22



“Sephiroth! General Sephiroth!” a vaguely familiar voice called out from down the hallway.


A single silver eyebrow twitched – did the fool have to draw the attention of everyone on the floor to him? - but he paused and waited anyway. 


Breathless, the black-haired Second caught up to him. “You should train more if a short run like that is enough to wear you out,” the General remarked.


“What? Oh, no, I just came from training with Angeal,” Zack explained, looking embarrassed.


“I see. And what was it you wanted to know?”


"Umm.” For a second, it almost looked as though the man forgot. Lucky for him, his eyes lit up with recollection before Sephiroth could grow impatient and continue on his way. “Oh yeah, that was it! You know where Cloud is, sir?  He’s not in the Training Room, and I owe him some gil," Zack asked sheepishly.

"He's in the gym," Sephiroth replied.

"Of course!  I should have known.  Thanks General!"  Zack threw him a jaunty wave and continued jogging down the corridor.

Sephiroth paused outside his office.  Strife was in the gym?  How did he know that?  He hadn't seen the blond since yesterday.


Pushing the matter out of his mind, he entered the office, relishing the newfound silence as the door clicked shut behind him. Steps measured and pensive, he bypassed the desk and headed for the window, looking out on the view of the sprawling metropolis.


His fingertips rested on the cool glass, and he pressed his forehead against it as well. Scheduled for an inspection in Junon in four days – he’d miss their end of week drinks. Not a huge matter, but a disappointment. He’d come to look forward to it recently.

Cloud had recently joined their weekly ritual in his office, though the silver-haired General suspected it involved a great deal of cajoling from his two friends.  It turned out the blond knew a little bit about bartending - said a friend used to own a bar, and refused to extrapolate - and could mix a variety of beverages, which added a new dimension of interest to their little get-together.  Genesis then invariably tried to charm conversation from the newcomer, but the only topics he ever had much success in were Loveless and motorbikes.


"I'd never pick you for a motor head," Angeal had commented, after a lengthy discussion on customisation and the sort of suspension required to handle that kind of weight.  "You never seem to like travelling." For some reason, he had looked relieved at the revelation. 

Cloud had shifted uncomfortably.  "I used to get motion-sick when I was younger.  Now, I just don't like enclosed spaces."  The last part was delivered in a soft voice, audible only thanks to enhanced hearing.


There had been an awkward silence, before Genesis asked, “What sort of bike did you have?”


Cloud simply shrugged and looked away. “It was a custom one-of-a-kind. Doesn’t matter. It’s gone forever.”


Angeal’s expression took on a worried twist again, and the subject had been dropped faster than an unstable materia.


For now, anyway. Sephiroth had studied up on motorcycles in preparation for their next end of week drinks, and now he was going to miss it for some asinine inspection in Junon that any ranking officer with enough authority could do. Granted, they were short on ranking officers after their losses in Wutai, so he couldn’t complain too strenuously. Honestly, Heidegger had been a terrible resource manager - the mess the new Director had inherited made a cafeteria breakfast look good. 


In light of that, he supposed he could handle missing a week. Strife might not even come – he’d only turned up twice so far, and the awkwardness of the previous evening might take some time to wear off. Nothing to worry about, though. Angeal's idea for the spar had proven a good one, though he found it difficult to take much joy in it when it ended in his friend being injured. 


His fingers slid from the glass, and he turned his attention back to the desk and its not-yet-unmanageable stack of paperwork. He hung Masamune on its stand, took a seat on the high-backed leather chair, and began to sort through the folders, mind elsewhere as his body performed the routine task. 


He felt a definite sense of camaraderie with Cloud, now, and it pleased him greatly.  He hadn't asked for another spar yet, but now that he knew he could ask, didn't feel the urgency.  And he enjoyed the man's quiet company.  Cloud would still tense up when he first caught sight of him, and sometimes at certain points of the conversation, but otherwise things remained civil.  No doubt the blond, having felt the thrill of battle with an opponent on the same level, had warmed up to the idea of a rivalry.  As he knew he would.

Yes, Sephiroth was pleased.  Things appeared to be going well.  Even his unusual nightmares were abating.


His rhythm was broken by a plain, lonely beep from his PHS. Carelessly, he flipped the device opened, thumbing automatically to the received mail folder. Another department head posting from Lazard.


Friends, we have suffered greatly these past few months, and I thank you all for your continued hard work, even though I know your hearts remain heavy from loss. But as we continue to recover from the hidden costs of victory, I am encouraged by examples of newfound camaraderie within our ranks.  Truly, these troubled times are easier navigated when we can rely on each other.

Sephiroth's lips quirked as he read the mail.  Despite his overwhelming workload, somehow Lazard still found time to send out these newsletters. Admirable sentiment, if naive. 


Still, he personally hadn’t lost anyone in the Wutai War, so he deleted the message with little thought. 


Only two people mattered to him – Genesis and Angeal. Now, that number had expanded by one. Cloud Strife. 






The door to the Training Room whooshed open, and Tseng couldn’t quite stop the falter in his step when confronted with a pair of blazing blue Mako eyes. 


As quickly as the gaze fixed on him did it dart away, and the Turk could breath easy again. “Good afternoon, Strife.”

”Tseng,” came the toneless reply. “What do you want?”


“I was hoping you could spare some time to talk?”


That sharp blue gaze turned back on him, but prepared this time, Tseng didn’t even flinch. “What about?”


Instead of answering, he turned his head to watch the trio of blue-clad SOLDIERs locked in simulation next door. Thirds. They weren’t likely to overhear anything while the Training Room was running, but the simulation could end at any time. “Perhaps we should go somewhere more private.”


Shrugging, the blond followed the Turk out the room. Tseng led them to the elevator, where he pushed the button for a floor several stories below. 


A taut silence stretched between them, broken only by the click of the numbers counting down in the elevator. The door pinged and whooshed open, and Tseng stepped out into a dark corridor, feeling along the wall for a moment in search of a light switch. Cloud followed, though his steps were slow and cautious.


“Urban Development used to be on this floor,” he explained as the fluorescent lights flickered and buzzed to life, revealing cracked plaster and a thin layer of dust coating the hallway. “But it’s a small team now, so they’ve been moved to a different area. This floor isn’t being used at the moment – we’ll have privacy here.” He headed to the right, checking several doors before selecting an empty office that had escaped the worst of the filth and still possessed two working chairs. Nevertheless, a sharp, musty smell clambered into his nostrils and swiftly made itself at home in his sinuses. Apparently janitorial services had been neglecting the floor in the absence of use. He couldn’t blame them. 


“Please, take a seat.” The chair creaked dangerously as Tseng sunk into it, and he rethought his advice, but Strife must have been lighter than he looked, as the other seat held his weight without complaint. 


“What’s this about?” The soft voice, so at odds with the unfriendly countenance and fighter’s physique, barely carried over the short distance.


“I apologise for the subterfuge, but I thought you might prefer to keep this discussion quiet.” Tseng laced his fingers together, leaned back, and considered the best way to broach the subject. “It has been brought to my attention that perhaps, when we hired you, we may have overlooked some… personal issues.”


Strife tensed, hands clenching around the plastic armrests of his seat. A telling reaction.


“We’ll get to that in the moment. The first order of business we need to discuss is the matter of your contacts.” Tseng watched for an incriminating reaction. Most people gave themselves away on the moment of accusation.


Nothing. Only confusion. “Contacts?”


“I am aware that in your PHS you possess the numbers of several unrelated ShinRa personnel, all of whom claim to have never met you personally. I’m here to enquire why that is the case.”


There it was at last. Alarm, swiftly followed by indignation, before being buried back under the usual indifference. You might not notice if you blinked, but Strife was the emotional sort. It stood to reason – an unemotional man would not have been driven to brandish his sword against the General so readily. Tseng admitted that he hid it better than most, but once aware, the Turk could catch those brief windows into his thoughts, those unguarded moments.


“You looked in my PHS.” 


No denial, then. Strife was unexpectedly cagey. He understood the Turks in the way few did.    “Yes.”


He frowned, though looked more displeased with himself than anybody else. “In Banora, at the helicopter.” His fingers traced over the pocket Tseng knew he kept the device. “I didn’t… you used Steal materia,” he realised.


“That’s right.”


He folded his arms. “…So?”


Not the reaction he’d prepared for. “I’m mostly concerned how it was you acquired Rude and Reeve Tuesti’s numbers. Cid Highwind’s, also. And what, precisely, you intend to do with them.”


“Do with them?” Tseng didn’t answer, waiting patiently for an explanation to be offered. Sometimes silence was the best interrogation technique. It made people nervous, and encouraged hasty responses.


Unfortunately, he underestimated Strife’s ability to ride out a silence. Once the pause had stretched far past the point of awkwardness and started gunning for boredom, Tseng extrapolated, “For what reason would you call any of them?”


“…No reason.”


“Then why do you have their numbers?” His efforts at investigating the matter himself had fallen flat – this was his last ditch attempt at shedding some light on the issue, by questioning the source. Not a tactic the Turks liked to resort to – it showed too much of their hand – but Tseng had been left with no choice.


Strife’s eyes cleared suddenly, as though in recollection. “…Zack.”




The SOLDIER gestured vaguely. “When I was in the slums. He entered a heap of numbers in my PHS. I guess he thought he was helping.” A beat. “…I deleted most of them.”


Tseng found himself almost disappointed. While emotively, that explanation did not satisfy him, logically it explained matters neatly. Zack was the sort of SOLDIER who made friends with every person he met, and frequently did missions for other departments within ShinRa. Turks and Urban Development included. He was a trusted SOLDIER, with the highest clearance of any Second Class - higher even a number of Firsts. It was the only reason why Tseng allowed his relationship with Aeris to persist, and the major reason why he was their SOLDIER of choice when a Turk needed accompaniment on a sensitive mission.


Still, that didn’t explain everything. “And what about Barrett Wallace?”


A long silence. Then, “A customer. For my delivery service.”


“I see. I’d never heard of it before. What was the name?”


“It wasn’t really a company. Just me and Fenrir.”




“My bike. We only took small jobs.”


Extracting answers from Strife was like wringing blood from a stone. Fortunately, Tseng was a patient man, and could settle for pulling out the information a sentence at a time. “And what about the rest of the numbers?”


“…The rest?” Strife’s voice barely touched the corners of the room.


“A great number of the names in your PHS were for numbers that were disconnected.”


“Oh.” Another flicker. Discomfort. Grief. “…They’re…” Strife spoke slowly, as though listening to a conversation very far away. Tseng waited patiently, having become used to the blond’s careful manner of speech by now. “…not around… anymore.”


As he suspected, then. This next part would need to be handled with care.


He deliberately softened his voice. “If I may ask, where are they now?”


A careful shrug, and an averted glance. “I don’t like to talk about it.”


“…I see. I apologise for bringing up any unpleasant memories. But this brings me to my next matter.” Tseng studied the man across from him, doing his professional best to keep his posture and expression as unthreatening as possible. They were now approaching issues rarely in the jurisdiction of the Turks, but the SOLDIER in front of him was a special case. “Over the past couple of months, several people have noted you possess an unsettling lack of ambition and… self-destructive tendencies.” He paused, letting that sink in for a moment. “Given the circumstances we met in, and the information you’ve shared today… I suppose I’m not incorrect in guessing that you’ve experienced some past trauma.”


No answer. Strife simply stared at him, face as blank as the plaster-dust covered walls of the room. He recognised the expression, now – he’d seen it on men who’d been pushed to the point of breaking, and locked all their emotions away inside.


“It is our concern-” Convenient that word ‘our’, it could mean almost anyone. “-that if these issues continue unaddressed, you may at some point do something… irreparable.”


The blankness gave way momentarily to bewilderment, before the usual air of disinterest settled back over the mako-bright eyes.


“I’m sorry if this makes you uncomfortable,” he reiterated. Diplomacy might pad Strife’s tolerance for the discussion. “If you can assure me that you’ll talk about it with one of your colleagues – Zack, Kunsel, Commander Rhapsodis, or even General Sephiroth-”


“We’re not friends,” Strife interrupted.


Tseng raised an eyebrow. “Am I to believe then that you still intend him harm?”


“No… It’s… we’re only co-workers. Just because we’re not fighting in the halls anymore, doesn’t make us friends.”


Interesting logic. Did he really not understand? "You’ve conversed with him regularly over the past couple of weeks. Angeal mentioned to me that you’ve begun joining them for drinks. And Genesis informed me that you have his PHS number. Perhaps you don't consider Sephiroth a friend, but I assure you, by the General's standards, you would certainly qualify," Tseng stated.  The man acknowledged very few people outside of a work context. Sephiroth could boast thousands of admirers, and yet willingly tolerated the company of only a few. 


Strife fell into a troubled silence. The implications appeared to bother him. An unintended distraction from the topic at hand. “I’m pleased that you’ve managed to put your issues with Sephiroth aside, but if you won’t discuss these matters with him or one of the other SOLDIERs, then I must insist we talk through it here.” He was butchering the script the counsellor had given him, but Tseng didn’t believe the man in front of him required coddling.   


Brow furrowed, Strife asked, “What problem?”


Denial? Tseng didn’t have the time to play those games. “We’ve found no motivation for you to kill Sephiroth. And so in light of the rest of your circumstances, we are forced to conclude that your goal has never been to kill the General, but instead to force an outcome that would only result in your death.”


It took a moment for that to sink in, and the instant it did, Strife's chair crashed to ground behind him.  "You think I'm suicidal?"  His voice remained cold and quiet, but he might as well have been shouting.


At the sharp, burning anger suddenly present in those normally docile blue eyes, Tseng found himself no longer so confident about the tranquillisers he’d loaded into his pistol. Reportedly a dosage high enough to take out a standard First Class, but could Strife be considered at all standard? “You would not be the first person to act in such a manner,” he explained, voice low and placating. “There have been many people in the past who have attempted to assassinate the General, as an honourable sort of ending. By the platoon, in Wutai. I will, however, grant that you are the first to have had even the slightest hope of succeeding, which is why I was reluctant to bring this up before now.”


“I’m not crazy!” The vehemence of his words had Tseng’s fingers flexing, but he kept his hands above the table, away from the comforting grip of his gun. 


“I wasn’t suggesting you were. Depression is a different matter.”


The SOLDIER began to pace, back and force, heavy boots scattering small clouds of dust with each step. He ran a hand through his blond spikes. “You think I’m suicical,” he repeated.


No point in honey-coating the truth. “Yes.”


Strife swore, but after a moment, his eyes took on a haunted look. He continued pacing, muttering to himself, though all Tseng picked up was, "-egacy."


Then, without warning, he halted in the middle of the room. When he turned to Tseng again, the neutral expression had settled back over his face once more. “That’s stupid. I don’t have any reason to commit suicide.” 


Tseng heard the lie in those words, so simply asked, “But do you have a reason to live?”


A crushing silence filled the space between them. Finally, Strife admitted, in a voice so low it barely stirred the air, “Maybe… at one time, I thought about it. But there are things I need to do. I’m not going to just go… kill myself.”


“Or wait for death to come to you?” Tseng prodded.


Strife flushed. “That either.” He rubbed at his arm for a moment, but the gesture looked unconscious. 


“And I can trust your word on this?”


Beginning to look annoyed, the blond admitted, “I’ve nearly died a lot of times. That I’m still here should speak for itself.” The words sounded strangely bitter, but Tseng leant back, and considered his work done. Continuing the informal interrogation at this point would be counter-productive.


“In that case, thank you for having this little chat with me. It’s set my mind at ease.” He fished about in his chest pocket for a moment, and then slid a small white card across the table. “Though please, in the future, don’t hesitate to visit one of our SOLDIER counsellors. There are many SOLDIERs struggling after the Wutai conflict, so ShinRa has gone to pains to hire the best of the best.”


Strife glanced at the card disdainfully and didn’t take it. “So we’re done here?”




The word had barely left his mouth before Strife disappeared through the door.


Allowing himself a small smile, Tseng swung around on his creaky chair, and patted the gun hidden in his jacket fondly. Apparently, Strife hadn't even been entirely aware of his own issues.  But the manner in which he reacted answered all of the Turk’s concerns. While the SOLDIER’s self-preservation instinct might have looked like a pale, paltry little thing on the surface, it appeared that it was instead a massive, deadly killer, lurking in the shadows with its fangs bared. The blond apparently had some powerful reason to live – a reason strong enough to be offended at the idea of suicide.


So long as he retained that, Tseng needn't be concerned.  More importantly, so long as the status quo was maintained, and no further stress placed itself upon the man, he didn't believe Strife's issues would result in such a negative outcome.  And in the meantime, life at ShinRa could help him.  It already appeared to be - where before, the blond had nothing, he now had new friends to replace the ones he claimed to have lost.  New numbers in his PHS that weren't disconnected.  New duties and goals to distract him from his demons, whatever they were.


ShinRa had neutered many a threat with nothing more than a steady paycheck and a comfortable routine.


Things still didn’t add up to his satisfaction – he held several suppositions as to Strife’s origins that could further complicate already snarled office politics - but there wasn’t any point in continuing further investigation and surveillance. And if his guesses were correct, the President might prefer for the Turks to maintain an air of deliberate ignorance. He would claim the matter as ‘no longer a threat’ and cite a lack of resources as excuse to forestall any further investigation. It wasn’t even a lie. There were rumblings of rebellion in the slums, and brewing troubles out in the Corel Desert. Concrete matters he couldn’t afford to ignore in favour of one man’s secrets.


Tseng stood from his chair once a reasonable amount of time had passed and headed to the elevator. The SOLDIER had bolted, predictably, probably mortified by the whole affair. 


His ride arrived after some time with a soft ding. Crowded – it was always crowded on the lower levels - but the small band of accountants returning from lunch practically melded with the walls in order to make room for the Turk. 


The elevator emptied by the time he reached the executive floor where Lazard’s office resided. Though just as silent as the old Urban Development floor, this level carried a different atmosphere. Every sound was muted and flat, cushioned by the thick carpets and curving walls. Though outwardly no more luxurious than many of the lower levels, one could almost smell the gil sleeping behind every door.


As the Turk continued to the end of the hallway, the reverent silence shattered under the twist of a doorknob and the rumble of a baritone voice. Moments later, the edge of a white lab coat and a head of scruffy, curly brown hair appeared in view. 

Tseng paused and stepped aside, making way for the portly, bearded scientist.  "Professor Hollander," he greeted cordially.  The man had been scarce around the premises of late.  A risky tactic, due to the politics inside the Science Department taking a particularly vicious turn since Hojo’s promotion to Department Head.  Or perhaps he sought to save face by hiding in one of the outpost labs until the heat from the mass specimen escape had died down.

Hollander blinked owlishly at him from behind a thick set of glasses that distorted his eyes, making them appear even more watery and tired.  "Oh, um, hello!"  The Turk knew he didn't recognise him, even though they'd spoken a number of times before.  All scientists were the same - unless you were relevant to a project, you might as well not exist.

"Tseng, come in!" Lazard called from inside, voice partially muffled by the half-open door. 


The Turk slid past the scientist like an eel, and Hollander in turn waddled out into the hallway like a fat ahriman.

"I wasn't aware you knew Professor Hollander," Tseng observed mildly as the door clicked shut behind him.

"He just returned from the countryside," Lazard replied, equally casual.

"Do you speak with him often?" Dark eyes watched the Director closely, noting the miniscule tightening in his facial muscles.  Lazard was a hard man to read – similar to Strife in a great many respects - but Tseng was learning. 

The Director tapped his desk, gaze roaming over a small spread of documents.  "Occasionally.  He has a professional investment in some of our most valuable SOLDIERs - I try to make time to assist him where possible."

Interesting, but Tseng didn't pursue the line of query. Project G struck him as a topic best left well alone.


"So what was it you wanted, Tseng?" Lazard asked, turning his attention forward and folding his hands on his lap. 


“That matter we spoke about last time.”


“Oh?” The Director raised a perfectly manicured eyebrow. “Good news, I hope?”

"Yes. I’ve just finished speaking with Strife, and I'm here to confirm that I'm officially withdrawing the Turks’ opposition to promoting him to First Class."






Angeal stared into space, features set in stone as he listened to Hollander's prognosis.

He'd had a bad feeling about it - the same bad feeling that had lingered until the scratch on Genesis's shoulder had healed.  His friend got better.  For some reason, he wouldn't.

"Something reawakened his body's restorative abilities," Hollander explained.  "It's still a new area of study in bioscience - we don't know what signals the cells to repair themselves, or continue reproduction.  We do know that mako normally accelerates this process.  But what's happened with you is that those signals are growing weaker, and in some cases, turning off."  Hollander peered at the computer screen in front of him, rectangles of light reflecting brightly off his glasses.  "It's what's causing the slow recovery of injuries you'd normally recover from overnight, and why cure materia isn’t taking properly.  Premature aging will kick in as the cell production process degrades - the copies will grow poorer over time, and this will normally introduce mutations."

He understood maybe only half of what Hollander was mumbling about, but he got the gist - the cells that made up his body were quitting on him, and it had something to do with mako.  "Can't we reproduce whatever turned it back on for Genesis?" Angeal suggested.

"I don't know what caused the reversal in Genesis.  I’ve been going over the data for weeks! It went deeper than just repairing the mutated cells.  The mako itself-" Hollander shook his head.  "It shouldn't be possible!"


A sick, churning feeling started to stir in his stomach, and the wound in his side began to burn, as if the mere act of thinking about it could set his nerves on fire. “Then what can we do, Hollander?”


Stumped, the scientist stared at the screen for one long moment, fingers flat against the desk and shoulders slumped in what looked terrifyingly like defeat. 


The black-haired First could barely stand it. Angeal and Hollander went back a long way, and while the SOLDIER had met other scientists working for ShinRa who were quicker-witted, the Professor has always been smart and methodical and given enough time, he could solve any problem. Maybe he lacked the same flair as some of the others, the same flashes of random innovation that left laymen scratching their heads, but his methods were tried and true. That they would fail him in his hour of need…


“What about Sephiroth?” he asked, a little desperately. “He doesn’t have this, right?”


"Hojo used a different process for Sephiroth," Hollander mumbled, still staring blankly at the test results.  “The base is different. Even if we could find some way to replicate it, to stop your system from rejecting it would be-”


He stopped abruptly, and suddenly swung around in his chair. Angeal could practically see the light flick on inside his head. "That new SOLDIER - Strife I think it is.  His enhancements are on par with Sephiroth's, I hear?"


Uneasy at the sudden turn in conversation, Angeal answered, “His skills are, at any rate.”


Hollander made a sound that was something between a ‘harrumph’ and a thoughtful hum. He turned back to his computer, clicking through several windows rapidly. “Yes… yes… maybe the secret could lie in there, if there’s a method outside of ShinRa…” Nodding decisively, chin wobbling slightly at the motion, the scientist declared, “That man could be the key. I need to examine him. Samples, vitals, the works.”


Unbelievable. Could Strife hold the secret to letting him live?


The hope perished quickly, however. “He doesn’t like doctors.”


Hollander frowned, bushy eyebrows bunching together in a manner that made him look ridiculous rather than stern. “All I need to do is run some tests. Can’t you arrange something?”


He doubted it. Just because he hadn’t drawn a sword on Sephiroth lately didn’t mean that Strife had suddenly mellowed out. Call it a hunch, but Angeal suspected any request for Hollander to run even the most innocuous of tests would have that incredible sword at his throat. Maybe if he explained his situation to Strife… but Angeal didn’t want anyone to know. How would his friends react to the news? Genesis at the very least was bound to do something stupid. 


“It’s not a maybe,” Hollander told him. “As things are now, you’re going to die.”


Angeal took a deep breath. It didn’t help. He took another.


He didn’t have a choice. It had worked before, hadn’t it? Forgiveness and permission.

Next Chapter



( 81 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 10th, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
Jan. 10th, 2010 12:21 pm (UTC)
No, I'm not actually here.
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Jan. 10th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
The Turk slid past the scientist like an eel, and Hollander in turn waddled out into the hallway like a fat ahriman.

In each update you post, there is always a line that wins. This is that line.
Jan. 11th, 2010 10:25 am (UTC)
:D Thanks~ I was proud of it. ^_^
Jan. 10th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
How does Sephiroth know where cloud is all of the time? s-cells? *suspicious* Cloud knows bartending, awesome! and oh God the conversation success in motorbikes. I'll bet Cloud's missing Fenrir, I'm missing him too XD.

Arghh, it's so frustrating that there's so many clues that are already dropped, but they haven't even touched on the "travelling back in time" theory yet! But I have to admit it's awesome that all Angeal and Genesis seem to think of whenever Cloud is in one of his emo modes is "further proof that he is suicidal! oh noes! :O"

Only two people mattered to him – Genesis and Angeal. Now, that number had expanded by one. Cloud Strife.
> reads sentence again and again and again and again and again... SQUEEEEEEE darn you slash goggles

“Given the circumstances we met in, and the information you’ve shared today… I suppose I’m not incorrect in guessing that you’ve experienced some past trauma.”

Eeee, love the bits of Turk-y Tseng in this chap. And him being so positive about things-- and realizing the good stuff about the situation Cloud has that Cloud himself hasn't noticed yet.


HOLY CRAP ANGEAL'S GONNA DIE oh god no no no no *rocks self back and forth* OR MAYBE CLOUD'S GONNA GET HOLLANDER'D, AND LATER ON, HOJO'D, BECAUS EOF ANGEAL'S DESPERATION? no wait no Angeal still has his ~*~*Honor*~*~ to uphold. just... sadhjadsfhnk Aeris, hurry up!

great chapter. My day was all nice, then something ruined it, but you bought it back to a happy day again. Thanks so much. :D
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
(Really, I just got back from Sherlock Holmes with my girlfriend. Slash goggles are a wonderful thing.) [/shot]

And btw, ~*~*Honor*~*~ is about to become a meme. (Or at least the way I type that word all the time now.)

~*~*Honor*~*~... it's a wonderful thing.

/undamns slash goggles - ixtey - Jan. 11th, 2010 06:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: /undamns slash goggles - sinnatious - Jan. 11th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: /undamns slash goggles - demon_vampirate - Jan. 11th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jan. 11th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ixtey - Jan. 11th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 10th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
Only two people mattered to him – Genesis and Angeal. Now, that number had expanded by one. Cloud Strife. -I can't get over this line!!

LOL I love how Cloud 'blames' Zack for the random contacts. Zack is the best 'logical' excuse for anything! XD

Angeal, I'm so scared for him now TT___TT Man I hope Aeris will be able to make the holy gospel water thingy...

Thanks for the awesome chapter. :D
Jan. 11th, 2010 11:53 am (UTC)
Thanks for commenting! :D

Zack is Cloud's excuse for everything the same way Reno is Rude's excuse for everything. :| We all need a friend like Zack.
(no subject) - firedraygon97 - Jan. 13th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 10th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
O.O I really, really hope he's not going to try and trick Cloud down there to that lab like he tricked him into the spar with Sephiroth. Cloud would probably go beserk and kill them all. Or Hojo would see the results and be curious and then trap Cloud down in a lab for five years and the world would all go to hell in the mean time. T_T

And Sephiroth, you are becoming so desperate. I mean, reading about motorcycles just so you can have a conversation with Cloud. O.O And it's kind of sad that Sephiroth thinks they're pretty much friends now (or rivals at least) and Cloud keeps insisting that they're only co-workers.
Jan. 10th, 2010 05:48 pm (UTC)
I forgot to add that I just love how Cloud and Sephiroth know where each other are and that Zack just uses that to his advantage and that C/S don't even really think anything about it, they just reply and everyone goes about their own business.

(no subject) - sinnatious - Jan. 11th, 2010 11:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - swyrel - Jan. 11th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
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*also keeping Se-fail-roth* - demon_vampirate - Jan. 11th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - sinnatious - Jan. 13th, 2010 12:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 10th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
"For now, anyway. Sephiroth had studied up on motorcycles in preparation for their next end of week drinks, and now he was going to miss it for some asinine inspection in Junon that any ranking officer with enough authority could"

Looool, I love your Sephiroth so much. I think it's a good thing he missed that conversation, he probably would have sounded awkward still, despite the studying. And Cloud would be surprised...or point out flaws in Sephiroth's knowledge


For now, anyway. Sephiroth had studied up on motorcycles in preparation for their next end of week drinks, and now he was going to miss it for some asinine inspection in Junon that any ranking officer with enough authority could "
Angeal are you going to try to kidnap Cloud again? D:

Haha, also, I just read about Cloud's mixing skillz in another fic. I think my FF7 knowledge is increasing! Now to actually pester a friend to let me borrow their games

Jan. 11th, 2010 11:30 am (UTC)
I think the mixing skillz thing is a fanon detail, actually. I just thought it stood to reason that he'd have picked up a little bit thanks to Tifa's bar. You know, considering his large array of other talents he just picks up on the way to the North Crater, like, say, chocobo husbandry. XD
(no subject) - firedraygon97 - Jan. 11th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - demon_vampirate - Jan. 11th, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 10th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
woo hoo! I check your tags page practically every day since i found your fic and i squealed like the fangirl i am the last two times you posted! I am so glad i found this fic!

and you will get lots more reviews!

btw just one thing i know i mentioned this before but you totally have to write younger!cloud into this fic, it would be so funny!

Zack: Hey Cloud!

Younger!cloud: *turnsaround* Um... mister... how did you know my name?

Zack: *FULLBODYDOUBLETAKE* OMG ITS A CHIBI CLOUD >o< LOOK EVERYONE!!! *PicksUpConfusedYounger!cloudAndRunsOffToShowEveryone*

snuggleing Younger!Cloud scenes follow at random moments

and i request a scene with Sephiroth bribing younger!cloud with chocolate chip cookies for his help in becoming friends with Older!Cloud lol
Jan. 11th, 2010 05:13 am (UTC)
YES. SECONDED ON JAILBAIT!CLOUD'S REAPPEARANCE. *___* And he'd go around calling Cloud "uncle" and, and...! ♥
(no subject) - sinnatious - Jan. 11th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC) - Expand
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Jan. 10th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
Oh. Sephiroth is so awkward and socially-retarded and cute and totally arrogant. I do hope Cloud warms up to him eventually.

And the conversation between Tseng and Cloud! It was great, it's so hard to write Turk-ishness properly and you pull it off so well.

...And then of course you go and leave us on a cliffhanger like that. No, Angeal! Cloud is already trying to help you! Don't do something everybody is going to regret~!

I shall anxiously await for wednesday. ♥
Jan. 11th, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! Turks are tricky. I'm always worried the Tseng parts are boring because so much of it's in head-space.

All cliffhangers from here on out. :D *rubs hands together gleefully*
(no subject) - shewhoflies - Jan. 11th, 2010 11:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shewhoflies - Jan. 11th, 2010 11:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - demon_vampirate - Jan. 11th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 10th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
hah! Sephy looking up info on moterbikes made me smile. It's kinda cute how bad he wants to be Cloud's friend. The fact that he automatically knows where Cloud is too- ooooh iffy stuff. Something to do with "S" cells, maybe?

Tseng's conversation with Cloud was interesting, too. Cloud finding it disturibing to be labelled as Shephiroth's friend was a nice take on things. I wonder how that's going to affect things- will their "friendship" go frosty again?

Cloud looks set to become SOLDIER First Class soon- good news :)

Looks like you're stepping into Crisis Core. Genesis is fine now- I really hope Angeal makes it thorugh alright. Hopefully Aerith/Aeris can make the remedy they need.

Nicely written, I look forward to your next update!
Jan. 10th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
Re: :)
ALSO: Gah- I relaly hope Angeal doesn't pull something stupid like kidnapping Cloud for the labs. That'll be one way to end their friendship-fast!
Re: :) - sinnatious - Jan. 11th, 2010 10:50 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 10th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
I didn't really peg Angeal as stupid, but I guess fear of death can push anyone over the edge of idiocy. *Shakes head.* He's certainly in for a rude awakening. Not only is he risking Cloud's wavering trust, but even his friendship with Genesis (and maybe even Zack and Sephiroth).

Can I just say that you're an evil, evil author. Brilliant, but evil.
Jan. 11th, 2010 10:38 am (UTC)
Why thank you. ^_^ Mwa ha ha ha.
(no subject) - firedraygon97 - Jan. 11th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 11th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
dskldsj man, I completely forgot about the Sectors and even the Corel before you wrote about it here. Haha, time traveling does wonders for you, even if you do forget about other events. (Such as Cid not being able to fly, Red getting kidnapped, Juno, etc etc.)

And then Angeal is going to ask Cloud, oh maaaaann. The only thing that Angeal could do to get back on his good side if he does ask is somehow rebuild Fenrir and like, kill Sephiroth for him.

(And um, remeber my last comment? I think I read that chapter when I was dead tired and my brain couldn't process what I was reading correctly. :|b)
Jan. 11th, 2010 10:36 am (UTC)
It's a nightmare to keep it all straight, really! XD

Angeal vs Sephiroth? Interesting! XD

(All good! I've done it before too. ^_^)
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:29 am (UTC)
Awwwww, Sephy's cute in this chapter ^_^♥

Er, anyway, while saddened slightly by the fact that I didn't get here until now, this chapter was well-worth the wait.
I'm glad Tseng finally stopped being paranoid about poor Cloud. (I loved the description of the Urban Development floor and Cloud's survival instinct. They were fabulous, and the smell's description had me cringing.)

Angeal's so mean sometimes. Even if he's trying to not-die because of everyone's reactions.

Can't wait for the next one~
Jan. 11th, 2010 10:34 am (UTC)
Thank you~! I've been trying to work on description more, it seems to be paying off. (When I remember.) ♥

It's an interesting motivation for survival! 'If I die, my stupid friends will probably go to do something dumb.' XD
(no subject) - demon_vampirate - Jan. 11th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 11th, 2010 05:11 am (UTC)
*cackles* Oh my gosh, SEPHIROTH. I thought when I drew those comics, my Seph was the most OOC little thing ever, but with this, I can totally see him baking cookies to get on Cloud's good side. Reading up on motorcycles? HE'S SUCH A DORK. *flails* SEPH~~ You're making your way back as my OTP for this fic! ♥ And that he's still so smarmy about Cloud becoming his friend after sharing an exhilarating spar -- As he knew he would -- made me laugh the first time I read it. What a cocky guy. XD If I had more time right now, I'd definitely be taking this Seph and flying. But alas, school...

Doesn’t matter. It’s gone forever.

FENRIR. T___T Hahaha, I like that Angeal and Genesis really were on full mother-chocobo mode with regards to Cloud's moods. And that they had to switch the subject that quickly! I can kind of hear Cloud's tone in my head. Wistful, pining, trying his hardest to keep a stiff upper lip...XDD

Nevertheless, a sharp, musty smell clambered into his nostrils and swiftly made itself at home in his sinuses.

Really liked that description. Hee, Tseng is so Turk-y this chapter. I was waiting for something bad to happen when they had to go chat in private, but I'm so amused that Tseng tried to counsel Cloud on suicide. So unexpected, haha. And that Cloud gets offended by the very idea is awesome. Hurrah for not-emo!Cloud!

And as mentioned above, Zack is the perfect scape-goat for everything, because nothing is unimaginable for him. XP I'm glad Cloud managed to get out of that tough spot by taking advantage of his friendship with Zack. They truly are BFFs~~

Hmmm, Lazard and Hollander. :/ Can't see much good coming out of that duo. Hopefully Lazard doesn't get screwed over in the end like CC.

ANGEAL. PLEASE NOTE: GRABBING CLOUD IN THE PARKING LOT TO BRING TO HOLLANDER =/= A GOOD IDEA. It's a miracle it worked the first time, haha. Gen: Ore-sama no bigi ni yoi na.

Aeris, please hurry! I'm also waiting on Vincent and Yuffie to reappear~

Glad you had fun with tennis! On a somewhat related note, I was at a friend's bday party yesterday and we were playing Taboo.

Me: Tezuka asks Ryoma to be this for Seigaku.
My friend: PILLAR!

Hahahaha. *is shot*
Jan. 11th, 2010 10:31 am (UTC)

Ahahaha, see, your little crack asides weren't far off at all. *__* Sephiroth is cute when he's trying hard. Perhaps because there is so little he needs to try hard at.

Zack is the best excuse for everything! This is an important lesson Cloud needs to learn. :|
(no subject) - firedraygon97 - Jan. 11th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 14th, 2010 05:03 am (UTC)
Asdfghjkl :dead:
WHAT IS IT WITH YOU AND CLIFFHANGERS? Brb, launching myself at the other update at the speed of light.

I love how Sephiroth has Cloud!Senses. So cute~ :squishes: It's interesting to see the connection go both ways, even if Sephiroth is unaware of it. Makes me wonder what other things they could share..... :coughlikedreamsofeachothercough:

I love this fic so much~.
Jun. 13th, 2010 07:34 am (UTC)
My danger sense... it tingles. Angeal, I do believe that you are about to do something immensely foolish. And somehow, I suspect that Hojo will eventually become involved. Since really, when in a FFVII fic is he not involved. That man has his hand in many cookie jars. Most of them evil.

I really liked the Tseng part here and had to comment on it. He is certainly a hard character to write, but you handled him masterfully. Plus, it was just a bit cute that he had a script from a counselor. I can imagine him trying to confront one of his Turks about destructive behavior (cough*Reno*cough).

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