Actions

Work Header

Save Him

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

Of all places, Minerva had to send me here.

Mideel.

AND RIGHT BY THE FUCKING OCEAN.

I growled softly to myself, looking out at the vast ocean before me. It was calm, beautiful and obviously, almost too good to be true. I was in the universe of my favorite video game. I mean, I hated to brag, but I was an expert with the game. Which meant if I stayed on the beach too long, I would encounter some nasty enemies.

And the bitch didn't even think about giving me a weapon.

I snorted and took the backpack off my shoulder, then placed it in my lap. I opened it, hearing slight clanging from inside. After looking inside, I saw the many Materia and Items Minerva had given me. There were even pouches of Gil inside as well.

But no weapon.

“Seriously?!”

I was seriously fucked if I encountered a monster. It didn't even have to be a big one. A small one could still fuck me up. I zipped up the backpack and put it on my back, then stood. I kicked the sand off my knee high boots and scowled, then panted. Fucking heat. I hated the heat. Oh Minerva, why in the living hell did you send me here?!

I grumbled and took off the backpack, then took off my black leather jacket. I wore a gray v-neck short sleeved shirt underneath it and black skinny jeans. Bad idea to wear black. IN A FUCKING HOT CLIMATE!

I had only agreed to this because so I could save Sephiroth from possibly destroying and doing a lot of bad shit and save Zack and Aerith as well.

List of things to Do:
-Save Sephiroth
-Save Zack
-Save Aerith
-Destroy Shinra
-Destroy Jenova for GOOD
-Get the Black and White Materia
-KILL HOJO (I HATE THAT MOTHERFUCKER)
-Introduce Sephiroth to his real mother

I had a lot of shit to do.

“Shell, you've really gotten yourself in deep this time.” I sighed to myself and pulled my hair out of my face, only for it stubbornly to go back into place. I frowned deeply, then realized my hair was...sort of defining gravity like. “Cool, at least I get cool hair.”

That's when I heard a growl behind me.

Fuck.

I slowly turned around and my eyes went wide when I saw a giant worm....a Sea Worm. “Shit!” I yelped and ran away as fast as I could. “Shitshitshitshitshitshit!”

Before the worm could reach me, I landed safely in the grass and panted. “I hate this already....” I groaned, rubbing my eyes. “I should've never agreed to this.”

I sighed and looked around, then decided to see if I could find the Hot Spring Town. Mideel may be small, but it was close to the Lifestream. I actually hoped I might be able to see the Lifestream someday. I heard it's beautiful. I began walking, hoping to get to the town before it got dark. It seemed like hours and...I had gotten lost.

“Where's the fucking town?!” I growled and kicked a tree angrily. Anger was getting me nowhere and I had to calm down. “Okay, which way is North?” I mumbled, looking up through the trees to see where the sun was.

Before I got too far, I heard light footsteps and whirled around to find three...green, insect like creatures. Three Head Hunters?! Shit, I was definitely fucked. I quickly grabbed up a fallen tree branch and swung, hitting one of the Head Hunters in the head and throwing it away from me. It twitched and then went limp. I must've knocked it out...or killed it, one of the two. I then yelped when the other two lunged at me and swiped their sharp ass claws at me.

Unfortunately for me, their claws had gotten my left arm and shoulder. Motherfuck! I cried out and fell to the ground, groaning as blood began to seep out from my wounds. I groaned and looked at the other two Head Hunters, seeing the one I had hit begin to get up. I guess I hadn't killed it. “Shit.” I whispered.

I had only been here a few hours and I was already going to die.

This sucks.

As the Head Hunters lunged, I turned my head away and closed my eyes, waiting for the final strike of their claws. But that's when I heard three swishes, as if someone was swinging a sword or knife. I never felt the claws sink into my skin, but I heard three thuds.

“Are you alright?”

That voice seemed familiar to me. Deep, rich as silk....smooth and sly.

I knew all too well who that voice belonged to.

I cautiously opened one eye and then the other, slowly turning my head into the direction of the voice. A tall man stood there, emerald green eyes fixated on me. His long, silver hair blew along with the breeze that came through suddenly, his bangs framing his angelic face.

Aw crud...

I was staring right at my favorite character.

The breeze stopped and the silver-haired man repeated the question again. I snapped out of my trance and nodded. “I-I think so....” I pulled myself into a sitting position. “Those Head Hunters got me though...”

“Let me see.” Sephiroth's katana vanished, which had disgusting green blood dripping off it. I bet he cleans the Masamune. He walked over to me and I lifted up my arm to him, which hurt very greatly. The cuts were deep and already beginning to clot, but they were a very angry red. I didn't know if I had a Restore Materia or not, but I was in too much pain to think about it. “You...are incredibly lucky. If those Head Hunters's claws had gotten any deeper, it would've cut your arm off.”

“That's nice to know.” I mumbled.

He reached to his belt and into a pouch, then pulled out a small canister. He pulled the cap off and handed it to me. “Drink this, it will help.”

I took the strange drink and sniffed it, then cringed. It smelled like cold medicine. “What is this?”

“A Hi-Potion.”

I groaned. I tilted my head back and drank the Hi-Potion, trying hard not to throw up. I drank the whole thing and pulled it away, sticking my tongue out in disgust. I looked to my arm and shoulder, seeing the wound looking less nasty.

I decided to speak. “Thanks....General.”

His cat-like eyes looked at me. “So you know who I am. That does not surprise me. Although I have a few questions for you.” He helped me stand. “What are you doing out here?”

“My boat sank.” I said. It was the first thing that came to my mind. “It sank and I must've crawled to the beach, where I passed out. I managed to salvage some of my belongings. What are you doing out here?”

“Scouting, killing the monsters. Their numbers have risen in the last few months.” Sephiroth replied. He kept looking at my wounds. “It is best that we go to the town. The Hi-Potion has helped, but these wounds may become infected if you stay here too long. Where are you from?”

I shrugged. “Nowhere really. I traveled a lot before my boat sank. I don't have any family either, nor a home...”

“Hm.” He mused, then let go of my arm. “Follow me.”

As he began walking, I decided to follow him. I had no other choice. About a half hour later, we reached the town. It looked like as it did in the game, but kinda bigger. I followed the silver-haired man to the clinic and we walked inside. A nurse saw my arm and immediately called for the doctor.

“This way dearie...oh!” She exclaimed, seeing Sephiroth standing there. “General! Such a wonderful pleasure to meet you! We did not expect you here.”

“I was sent to kill the creatures that had been rising in numbers.” He replied, watching as the nurse took me by my good arm.

“Well, we are happy to have you here, sir. Follow me, dear.” The nurse pulled me into the back so my arm could be examined. About an hour later, I walked out, cranky, tired and irritated. I had been poked and prodded at, then my arm and shoulder had been cleaned and wrapped up and I was given a new shirt since my gray one had been ripped up badly.

The silver-haired man was outside, talking on his PHS when I came out. “Yes, I will return tomorrow afternoon. I will be bringing a guest.” He was silent for a moment. “No, why do you always assume that? No, she is....” He glanced over at me, trying to think of something. “My apprentice.”

I blinked.

Uh...what? Apprentice?

“Yes, I know that Angeal. Perhaps I wanted to teach someone my skills. Yes....yes, Angeal. Tomorrow afternoon. We'll be using chocobos. Very well, see you soon.” He then hung up and slipped his PHS into his pocket.

“Apprentice?” I asked. The question just came out of my mouth.

“Yes, Angeal always assumes I bring a partner back when I go out on missions.”

Oh great, now I'm the apprentice of the great, General Sephiroth. This was grand, it really was. Note my sarcasm yet? “Okay then...” I said.

“By the way, what is your name?” He asked.

“Shell.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“What's that look for?”

“Such an odd name.”

“You should talk.”

He blinked, then his lip twitched, as if he meant to smirk. “Touche. You know how to give a good comeback.”

I crossed my arms over my chest. “If I'm going to be your apprentice, you'd better get used to it.”

“Hm.” He mused. “Very well. It is becoming dark. We shall rest in the Inn for tonight and leave in the morning.”

I nodded. Sounded like an idea. Oh Minerva, what have I gotten myself into?

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

If there's a list of reasons why Mideel is probably the worst place to be in right now, it's because it's fucking HOT. Even as it got dark, it was still warm out. I had opted to get clean clothes before we headed over to the Inn for the night. I also needed a goddamned weapon, because SOMEBODY didn't give me one.

Minerva, I really don't like you right now.

After getting a few pairs of clothes and another bag, we headed over to the weapons shop. I didn't know which was better, a sword, or a gun. I didn't have any experience with either, but a sword would work better because a gun can attract attention. “What sort of sword are you comfortable using?” the silver-haired man asked me.

“......Does it matter?” I asked.

“It does, actually. You have your broad swords, thin swords-.”

“Okay, okay, I don't need a lecture on swords.” I said, putting my hands up. I turned away from him and looked among the swords. Some were short, some were long, others were broad or thin. Why were there so many fucking swords?! I scowled a bit and if someone could see, I would have a cloud of doom over my head.

“Ah, General, what brings you here?” The clerk asked with a friendly smile.

“My apprentice needs a sword that would...go with her personality. Perhaps a thin sword would do.” Sephiroth replied.

I swear to god he was being sarcastic. Go with my personality...yeah, my PATIENCE is wearing thin. The clerk looked to me nervously and maybe he could see the cloud of doom over my head, due to the nervous and scared look he gave me. “Y-yes, that would suit her nicely. Let's see here...” He turned to the thin swords on the wall, looking at them.

I tapped my foot impatiently and I was earned with a light smack on the head. I turned my attention to the silver-haired man, glaring at him. “Mind your manners.” He scolded.

“Pfft.” I mumbled under my breath and was earned with another light smack. “Ow, stop hitting me!” I growled, rubbing at where he had smacked me.

He said nothing to my comment and remained calm. “Aha! Here we go!” The clerk stepped off the step-stool, a thin sword in his hands. He turned to us and put it on the counter. The sword was thin, the blade was shiny and very sharp, with the word Eclipse engraved onto the blade by the handle. The handle was a shiny black color, with a small keychain hanging off the end. The keychain resembled an eclipse.

“Whoa....” I said softly to myself and touched the blade of the sword gently, running my fingers across it. “What's this baby?”

“This baby here is called Eclipse. He was made during a solar eclipse.” The clerk smiled gently. “I've been meaning to sell him to a good owner, but I haven't found one, until now.”

“How old?”

“Hm, give or take 50 years or so.” He replied.

“I'll take 'im.” I grinned.

“That'll be one thousand Gil, Miss.”

I gave the clerk one thousand Gil and he gave me a sheath for the sword. As we left, I hugged the covered sword to my chest. “Now I finally have a weapon.” I nuzzled the handle.

“You didn't have a weapon before?” Sephiroth asked me.

“Ah, no....”

He shook his head. “You should know better.”

I stuck my tongue out at him childishly and continued walking to the Inn. We checked in for the night and got a room that had two beds. “I call dibs on the bed by the window!” I said and threw myself onto the bed by the window, rolling around. “Soft.”

After getting settled, I decided to shower. I took the clothes I needed and locked myself in the bathroom, then stripped and stepped into the shower once it was ready. I went over the list in my head, having to add a few more things. I needed to also save Genesis and Angeal. It was too late to save Vincent Valentine sadly. I sighed and looked down. I wish I could have saved Vincent.

I know that I'll meet him someday though. It's just of the other shit I have to do first. After showering, I turned the water off and yanked the towel off the rod, wrapping it around me. I stepped out and grabbed another towel to dry my hair. Dressing, I had made sure to buy sports bras instead of regular bras because sports bras would be much more comfortable. I slipped it on and then my underwear and pants. I grabbed bandages from the pack I was given by the nurse and wrapped my wounds up. My shoulder was a bit more difficult, but I was able to bandage it up.

I sighed and scratched my head. This was fucking strange.

I left the bathroom and noticed the room was dark. But it was easy to tell the boots and trench coat and armor on the chair near the door. My eyes trailed to the other bed and I saw the locks of silvery hair spread across the blanket. The blanket went up to his waist, so I could see a full view of his back. Moonlight seemed to almost make his porcelain skin sparkle...

It was angelic.

I blinked and then shook my head. What was I thinking? I had a mission to do. If I saved Sephiroth, I had a 80 percent chance of saving Zack and Aerith. But I needed to save Genesis and Angeal as well, so I probably should save them first. I just hope I'm not too late. I ventured over to the other bed and put my dirty clothes near my bag, then laid down and got comfortable.

I sometimes wondered why Minerva gave me this mission, but then I remembered what she had told me. “You're the only one who knows his true past.”

Of course I did, why wouldn't I? I spent years playing all the Final Fantasy VII games, even having beat the original game countless times. Crisis Core was probably the hardest for me to get through, because of the whole Nibelheim incident and Zack's death. I cried so fucking hard when he died.

I snuggled deep into the covers and sighed, closing my eyes. Tomorrow started my second day here on Gaia. It didn't take me long to fall asleep, knowing how tired I was.

The next morning, I felt a hand shake my shoulder. “Five more minutes...” I mumbled sleepily, not moving or even attempting to open my eyes.

That's when the mattress I was sleeping on was flipped over. I yelped as I hit the floor face first. “Ow.” I mumbled, letting out a growl. “What the fuck was that for?”

“Language.” I heard Sephiroth's voice scold. “We're leaving in fifteen minutes.”

I grumbled and slowly crawled my way out of the mess of mattress, blankets and pillows. I glared up at the silver-haired general. “Fine.” I sighed and got up, fixing the bed. I didn't bother putting my jacket on since it was FUCKING HOT out. Thanks again, Minerva. Note my sarcasm yet? I grabbed my bag and stuffed my jacket into it. “So how do we get off Mideel?”

“I have a plan.” Sephiroth said.

“What are you gonna do? Manipulate a giant fucking sea snake or something?” I asked.

“Maybe.” He said in a matter-of-factly tone.

I waved my hand out. “Lead the way, General.”

I grabbed my sword as we left and attached it to my belt. I followed the silver-haired man outside, out of the village and through the woods. We didn't encounter any monsters or any of the sort. We made it to the coast and Sephiroth brought out a Command Materia and it glowed. Next thing I knew, something burst from the water and I covered my face with my arm as we both got splashed with water. I uncovered my face after a few seconds and gasped when I saw a giant, sea snake in front of us.

Sephiroth must've seen my look, because he said. “I told you so.”

I huffed, stomping my foot as I crossed my arms over my chest like a pouty child. His shoulders shook like he was chuckling and he stepped onto the snake's back, sitting down. “Get on.”

I cautiously walked over to the giant snake and stepped onto it's back, sitting down behind the silver-haired man. Before I could get a grip, the snake went off and I yelped as I almost fell off. I clutched at the nearest thing to me, which happened to be the man in front of me. I clutched onto his coat tightly, holding on for dear life. I swear to god, he found this amusing. “Where are we going?”

“We will walk to the Chocobo Farm once we reach the shore. We will use Chocobos to get to Midgar. It will at least take half the day.” He informed me.

“Oh joy.” I sighed. But hey, good part is that I would get to ride a Chocobo. Those things are so fucking fluffy and cute. We made it to shore within a half hour and Sephiroth let the snake go, letting it go back to it's home underwater. We walked and walked for at least an hour before we finally got to the Chocobo Farm.

“Stay here. I'll go rent two Chocobos.” He told me and went into the large barn.

I sighed and sat down against the fence, staring at the swamp that was just some hundred feet away from the farm. And that stupid fucking snake was still in there. That thing can't die, no matter how many times you try to kill it. I remember the first time I encountered that thing...it fucking killed me. I closed my eyes and leaned my head on my knee to rest for a few minutes.

“Wark!”

I opened my eyes once I heard that familiar Chocobo sound. I looked up and was surprised to see a Yellow Chocobo looked down at me from over the fence. It's eyes blinked and it tilted its head in curiosity. “Wark?”

I stood up and turned to face the Chocobo. It tilted it's head at me and warked again. “Well, aren't you a fluffy guy?” I asked, chuckling and slowly reached out, placing my hand out so the Chocobo could sniff it. The Chocobo sniffed my hand and then nudged his head against my hand. I smiled and petted his head, running my fingers through his fluffy fur. “Wark?”

“Wark wark!” The Chocobo said in excitement.

I grinned and hugged the Chocobo around the neck, nuzzling my face into his fur. I so hoped I got to ride this Chocobo. He's now my furry buddy.

“It looks like you and Buddy have gotten settled already.” I heard the Chocobo owner say as he and Sephiroth came up.

“Oh yeah, he's awesome.” I grinned, snuggling the Chocobo. “Can I go in and ride him, to get a feel?”

“Go right ahead. I'll show you how to put the harness on.” He nodded and let me inside. The Chocobo Owner put on the reins and the saddle for the Chocobo, making sure it was nice and tight, but a comfortable tight.

“Just like riding a horse.” I said to myself and put my left foot in the strap, then swung my right leg over and was just about to put my right foot in the strap when I fell over. “Ow.”

The Chocobo Owner laughed and I glared at him, then did the same at Sephiroth when I saw he was fighting to hold his chuckle. I got up quickly. “Let's try this again.” I said, puffing out my chest in determination. I did the same thing and was able to put my right foot in the strap. “Okay...”

“Ride him around for a bit, see how you like it.” The owner said.

That's what I did. I rode around, getting a feel for riding a Chocobo. Seriously, it was just like riding a horse. “I'm ready to go!” I called out, snuggling Buddy's neck as he warked in excitement.

Sephiroth got his Chocobo ready and we were off for Midgar. After about ten minutes of just walking, I got an idea and grinned like the Cheshire cat. I leaned down and whispered in Buddy's ear of the plan I had. He warked in agreement.

“What are you planning, Shell?”

I glanced over at the silver-haired man with the same grin. “Let's race. Whoever wins gets to buy the other dinner.”

“Now, I don't think that's-.” He began, but stopped as soon as Buddy sped off.

I laughed as Buddy ran. I was actually having a lot of fun. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all...besides trying to destroy a company, it's reactors and an alien bitch.

Yeah....won't be so bad at all.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

“Unnnnn.......”

“That wasn't a bright idea.”

“I know that now.” I muttered as I laid my head on Buddy's neck. Him running the rest of the way towards Midgar had gotten me extremely dizzy and actually, really hungry. I sighed and sat up, slowly getting off Buddy and falling to the ground in the process. “Ow.”

I caught a glimpse of Sephiroth shaking his head in what looked like disbelief. I sighed and looked up at the sky, then felt Buddy nuzzle his face against mine. “Wark.” He said.

I got back up and rubbed his face, then hugged him around his neck. “I'm gonna miss ya, boy.” I said, not letting go of him for a while. When I did, he and the other Chocobo went off back to the Chocobo Farm. I waved goodbye to them sadly.

“Don't worry, they know their way back.” Sephiroth spoke and brought out his PHS, calling someone. “Tseng, I have returned. Would you bring a helicopter to pick us up? I have an apprentice. Yes....yes, Tseng. See you soon.” He said and hung up.

“Who's Tseng?” I asked. I clearly knew who Tseng was, but I didn't want to yet tell Sephiroth I was from another dimension entirely.

“He's leader of the Turks.” He replied, turning to me. “Turks act much like an intelligence agency.”

“Ah.” I said. “So....what's gonna happen when we get up to Shinra?”

“You will be staying with me until a place opens for you. Normally apprentices don't stay on the same floor as their mentors, but with you, I'll make an exception.”

“Aw, you think I'm special.” I grinned proudly.

“Maybe.” He said and we both looked up as the wind began whipping the hair in our faces. A Shinra helicopter was coming down to us. It didn't land on the ground and hovered above the ground a bit. The door opened, revealing a 3rd Class SOLDIER.

“General.” The SOLDIER nodded in respect.

I was allowed to get in the chopper first and sat down in the seat. The silver-haired man sat next to me. “Buckle up.” He said and buckled himself in. I buckled in just as the chopper took off into the air.

I looked out the window and immediately regretting it, shuddering as we began flying over Midgar. I really wasn't a big fan of heights. Probably would never get over my fear of them. We continued flying over Midgar for what seemed like an hour, but it was really only 20-ish minutes. The chopper landed and the engine slowly shut off. I unbuckled myself and opened the door, getting out with Sephiroth right behind me.

“General, welcome back.” A somewhat tall man with his hair pulled back into a ponytail spoke. I immediately recognized him as Tseng.

“It is good to be back.” Sephiroth said.

“And this must be your...apprentice?” Tseng looked to me.

“Yes, this is Shell.”

“Shell? Such an odd name.”

“So is Tseng.” I said, smirking a bit. “All of you have odd names.”

Tseng fought the urge to chuckle. He led us back inside and to the elevator. “Angeal and Genesis have been waiting for you to come back, Sephiroth. I have decided they've been...clingy to you lately.”

“Clingy would be the term I would use.” Sephiroth said, agreeing.

Genesis and Angeal we're here? That means this takes place before Crisis Core! I still have time to save them both! I wonder how long I had before....

I shook my head slightly. I didn't want to think about that. I now had more stuff to add to my list.

1: Save Sephiroth
2: Save Zack
3: Save Aerith
5: Destroy Shinra
6: Get the Black and White Materia
7: Kill Hojo
8: Save Genesis
9: Save Angeal

In no particular order.

I really had no idea how I was going to accomplish all of this. I was going to try though. I wasn't giving up. Minerva said I was one of the best people she knew to accomplish everything and turn things around. It's gonna be hard and I know that, but I want to save everyone...

Sephiroth deserves the know the “truth” truth. But he's not ready for it. I sighed softly to myself and followed them around for a while until we came to Lazard's office. The blonde man was sitting at his desk as usual, looking up when we came in.

“Ah, General. Welcome back.” Lazard nodded at the silver-haired man. His eyes then turned to me and he looked me over. I probably looked tired and ready to keel over from lack of sleep. “And who is this?”

“Shell, my apprentice.” Sephiroth replied.

Lazard looked surprised. “This is a first.”

Tell me about it. I thought, looking off to the side. I huffed to myself. I was tired, bored and hungry. I also needed a shower and new clothes. I felt a tug on my shirt and stumbled a bit, glaring into the direction of who was pulling me. Of course it would be the silver-haired man. “Let's go.” He said.

I tugged out of his grip, not liking how he tugged me. I prefer not to be tugged. Pfft. I followed him out of the room, still having a cloud of doom over my head. I probably looked like the most miserable person on the planet right now. We went to the elevator and headed up to one of the top floors where I assumed the 1st Class SOLDIERs lived.

“What now?” I grumbled.

“We will get you situated in my quarters and then we are going to go to the clothing store for you.” Sephiroth replied.

“Joy.” I mumbled.

He didn't comment on my attitude this time. The elevator stopped at floor 62. The building had no more than 70 floors, with 59 and above needing a key card. We got out and went down the hallway to the right, then took another right to a door that said Room 607. Sephiroth slid the key card through the slot and it beeped with a green light. “Welcome, General.” a robotic, female voice said.

The door slid open and we walked into the room, making me look around. The living room was of decent size and had a three cushioned couch and a recliner, with a small coffee table and a television mounted on the wall right in front of it. There was a sound system on the other side of the wall and a small cabinet by the television. Hell, there was even a bookshelf as well, with books on it. I walked over to it and gently brushed my fingers over the books.

“Do you like to read?” I asked the silver-haired man.

“In my spare time.” He replied.

After a few more minutes of looking, we went out to take me shopping. It took a few hours to get what I needed, but by the time five o'clock came around, all I wanted to do was eat something, take a shower and eat. We also had a to get me a key card that way I could go back up to his quarters if I ever got a job.

“What sort of job should I get?” I asked once we got food.

“Anything you'd like.” He replied. “Most of the food areas are always looking for a new team member.”

“Maybe I could do something like that.” I mused.

“And after you get off work, we'll be training.” Sephiroth added.

“Aye aye captain.” I gave a mock salute. “Oh and I hope this doesn't sound rude or anything...but how old are you?”

“I just turned twenty two months ago.”

I blinked at him, going quiet. He arched a silver brow at me. “You're.....20?”

“Yes, does that come as a surprise?”

“Yeaaaaaahhhhhhh. I'm older than you. I'm 21.” I said, nodding. Holy shit, I'm older than him! That means I'm older than Genesis and Angeal as well! Hell, even older than most of the characters except for Barret, Cid and Vincent! Damn.
“Yeah.”

As soon as we got back to his quarters, I grabbed a pair of clothes and my bath stuff, then went to the bathroom to shower. I locked the door behind me and took off my clothes. I glanced over myself. My skin was slightly sunburn from my arms being exposed to the sun. The marks on my arm and shoulder were healing, but they were still jagged scars. I rubbed my arm and shoulder gently. I would probably have them as scars for the rest of my life, which I didn't mind. Scars were proof that you had survived something that tried to kill you.

“This is fuckin' crazy.” I sighed softly and rubbed my cheeks gently.

And it was only going to get crazier. I was prepared for that.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

I had slept comfortably on the couch that night, preferring the couch over stealing Sephiroth's bed. Which I was gonna do sometime soon. Besides, I never found it wrong when you sleep next to someone, like just for cuddles or just wanting to be next to each other. Honestly, I was going to fight hard not to fall for the silver-haired bastard. I think that would only make things worse for him and I both.

Besides, Jenova might get possessive.

Pfft, who gives a shit.

I had woken up when I heard footsteps walk out of the bedroom and I covered my head when the silver-haired man walked through the living room. I grumbled and snuggled deeper into my blanket, curling up into a fetal position.

After a few more minutes, I felt him come closer to the couch. “Shell, it's time to get up. We're going to begin your training today.”

I didn't move or speak, hoping he would walk away. I hated mornings. I really did. I hope he knew that by now. A few moments of silence went past and the pillow was pulled away from my head. I whined and pulled the blanket over my head. Seconds later, that was pulled away as well. “Fine.” I grumbled, slowly sitting up and yawning. “What's the first thing you're going to teach me, sir?”

“First we'll start with basic hand to hand combat. I'll be taking you on missions with me, so you'll get a feel for when you actually have to fight.” Sephiroth replied.

“Yay.” I said sarcastically and got up, going to put more comfortably clothes on. After doing that, we left his quarters and headed to an empty training room. The room had mats on the floor, treadmills on one side and weights on the other side. It was a big room, but I knew there were more training rooms.

Sephiroth and I stood a good twenty feet away from each other. “Come at me.” He said.

Was he serious? I arched a brow, then shrugged and lunged at him. I wasn't very fast, but I was gonna try. As soon as I got within two feet of him, he grabbed my outstretched arm and threw me over his shoulder. I landed hard on the mat and groaned.

That hurt.

I shook it off and stood up quickly, lunging at him again. Every time I got within two or three feet of him, he would grab my arm and throw me. Every. Fucking. Time. This went on for a half hour. I breathed hard and gasped as I laid on my back, looking up at the ceiling.

“You have much to learn.” The silver-haired man spoke.

I glared at him and sat up with a soft groan, rubbing my side. I watched as he turned towards the door and slowly stood up, as quietly as I could. I took a few steps towards him, then leaped. Being in a game like this, it lets me defy gravity. To my surprise, Sephiroth merely moved to the side and the door opened. I collided into someone hard, knocking us both to the floor.

“Ow....that hurt.” I winced, shaking the dizziness from my head.

“Can you please get off me?” A male voice asked me.

I glanced down and saw intense, blue eyes staring into my hazel ones. The blue-eyes belonged to a certain red head. I quickly got off and hid behind Sephiroth as my shyness took hold of me. I glanced from around him, watching as Genesis stood up and brushed himself off. He glanced over at me and I looked away from him.

“Is that your apprentice, Sephiroth?” I heard Genesis ask.

“Yes.”

“She's not very bright, is she?”

“Hey!” I shouted, offended. “I'm smarter than you!”

Genesis smirked. “Why don't you prove it then?”

“I don't have to prove anything to you, dick.” I said, huffing.

I came out from behind Sephiroth and glared at Genesis. I was going to save his ass, but I wasn't taking his shit. Now I just needed to find a way to stop the degradation from happening in his and Angeal's bodies. Maybe then I could save them. I was going to try my best. No matter what.

, why the fuck did you send me here with no information on how to save these guys? You could've given me SOMETHING. I thought, hoping the Goddess would hear me. But of course, nothing. Nothing from the Goddess. Oh wait till Genesis meets her. And I thought he adored her now. Just wait till he sees her in person.

“Why don't we go for lunch?” Angeal suggested.

“Sure.” I muttered.

Sephiroth agreed as well. I hadn't realized we had been in the training room for nearly three hours until I looked at the clock on the wall. I followed them all out, pushing my hair out of my face. It was kinda cool how my hair was spiky, almost as spiky as Cloud's, but not quite.

“Hey, Angeal!” I heard a male voice call out.

We all turned around to see a male that was a bit taller than me, with black spiky hair and bright blue, Mako infused eyes. I realized off the bat that this guy was Zack Fair. I fucking loved that dude. He never should've died. I hated the creators for making Zack die. Honestly, I like Cloud, but Zack should've lived to be the main character of Final Fantasy VII.

“Hello, Zack.” Angeal greeted.

“Where are ya guys heading?” Zack asked, interested and curious.

“Lunch.”

Zack glanced over to me, his bright eyes looking me over. “Who's this?”

Before Sephiroth could speak, I decided to introduce myself. “I'm Shell, the General's apprentice.” I held out my hand to him with a grin.

Zack grinned back and shook hands with me. His gloved hand was warm. I really liked Zack. He's fucking awesome. “So you're Seph's apprentice? That's new. I've heard he doesn't take on apprentices.”

“I changed my mind.” The silver-haired man said.

“Can I be your apprentice?!” Zack asked excitedly.

“No.”

Zack pouted and I chuckled, now knowing why everyone called Zack a puppy. “Hey! Can he come with us to lunch?” I asked the three men behind me.

Genesis sighed. Angeal glanced over at Sephiroth, who gave a shrug of his shoulders. “I don't see a problem with it.”

“Awesome! Let's go!” I jumped up, excited. I looped my arm with Zack's and we followed the three men to the food court. We sat down at a table with six chairs, since there were five of us. The three men sat together and talked, while Zack and I sat across from each other and decided to talk while we waited for our food.

“So what's it like?” Zack asked me in a low voice, his head sort of turning towards Sephiroth slightly.

“It's cool.” I grinned a bit at him.

“So where are you from?” He asked.

“Nowhere really. I traveled a lot until my boat sank before I got to Mideel. I washed up on shore and got attacked by a couple Headhunters before Sephiroth killed them. Low and behold, I suddenly became his apprentice.” I said, taking a sip of my soda. It tasted like Pepsi almost. How I loved Pepsi. It was my addiction. I rolled up my sleeve and showed Zack my scars. “Cool, huh?”

“Will they fade?” he asked.

“Probably not. Scars are a sign that you've survived what had tried to kill you.” I replied, putting my sleeve back down.

Our food came about five minutes later and we all mostly ate, then talked some more. I paid for my own and Zack's meal, since he didn't have much to pay for his own. I didn't mind, as long as he didn't take advantage of that. He thanked me and had to leave with Angeal since they were going to do more training. I grumbled and followed Sephiroth and Genesis as they spoke. Something about new SOLDIERs and shit like that.

“Where are we going?” I asked the two men.

They turned to me and exchanged a glance, before Genesis seemed to smirk a bit.

“No, Genesis.” The silver-haired General said firmly. “She's not ready.”

“Why not? It would be perfect.”

“What would be perfect?” I huffed.

“Training and Mission simulation.” Genesis replied.

“What's so bad about that?” I crossed my arms over my chest, looking at both men.

“You're not ready.” Sephiroth said.

“I'm BORED! I'm a quick learner, I can do a simulation!” I said.

Sephiroth gave a soft sigh after a few minutes. “Very well.”

I grinned to myself. I was going to prove myself to him that I was ready for anything. We went back to his quarters and got my sword, then headed to the simulation room. I was given the helmet and I put it on.

“Remember, everything you see is nothing more than an illusion. Striking down the enemy is not real in this.” Sephiroth said.

“Got it, chief.” I gave him a thumbs up.

He switched the power button on and everything began to materialize before me. I found myself in a different part of Midgar, in the same area as Zack had been in the beginning of Crisis Core. As I looked around, I noticed I didn't have the helmet on. “Cooooooool.” I grinned.

My PHS began ringing and I took it out of my pocket, flipping it open. “Yo?”

“Meet me in the square of Sector 4. Be careful when handling enemies. Some of them are Wutai soldiers in disguise.” Sephiroth's voice spoke.

“Gottcha. Be there in a few.”

He hung up and I shoved my PHS into my pocket. I headed towards Sector 4, hoping I wouldn't encounter too many enemies. As I rounded the corner, people were running from something. I rushed to the scene and saw a few Wutai soldiers in disguise with the Shinra SOLDIER uniform. I felt a bit nervous, but remembered what Sephiroth told me.

They're not real. This is all just a simulation. I thought and rushed towards them, bringing out my sword.

I took down one by slicing him across the chest and another one by doing the same. One of them hit me over the back with the butt of his gun and aimed to hit my head, but I quickly reacted by shoving my knee into his privates. The Wutai soldier let out a high pitch cry of pain and doubled over, holding his family jewels. I knocked him over the head, rendering him unconscious.

“Damn.” I panted and continued towards Sector 4.

I finally reached Sector 4 and looked around for Sephiroth, wondering if he was here yet. I walked around for a bit, before I heard someone walking up from behind me. I stood still for a bit, then whirled around and quickly put up my sword in defense. I was surprised to see my silver-haired mentor standing right there, with Masamune out to see in all it's glory.

“Jesus, don't do that to me. I thought you were the enemy.” I said, letting out a sigh of relief.

“And what if I am?”

I eyed him, confused. “What?”

Before I could ask him another question, he rushed at me, Masamune aimed right for my heart. I quickly ducked, my eyes wide. “Hey! What the hell are you doing?!” I shouted.

He didn't answer me and instead swung at me again, making me quickly bring up my sword to defend myself. I backed away from him and he swung again, getting me right in the right shoulder. “Stop it, Sephiroth! I'm not going to fight you! I won't!”

That was probably a bad choice of words to say, because he swung at me again and again until I had a cut on my cheek and another one on my right thigh. I brought up my sword to defend myself, but behind the force he put into his next swing, he knocked my sword out of my hands. Which in turn, knocked me to the ground. I groaned, struggling to sit up. I managed to get myself onto my elbows and froze when I felt Masamune's cold blade against my neck. The non-shape side was against my neck, but it still made me fearful. I glanced up at my mentor before me. His emerald gaze was staring right into my very soul.

“Fail.” He spoke.

He took Masamune away from my neck and the simulation began to vanish. I was soon on the ground of the simulation room, my sword on the ground some feet away and Sephiroth standing there, looking quite disappointed with me. Masamune vanished, like magic.

“Fail? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” I asked angrily, getting up slowly.

“You failed the test.” He replied. “But I am not surprised.”

“Hey!” I shouted at him as he began walking out of the simulation room. He discarded his helmet to it's proper place. “Hey! I'm talking to you!”

He stopped and turned halfway to look at me.

“You can't do that shit! I didn't know it was a test!”

“If you're going to be my apprentice, you HAVE to work harder. And I will help you with that. But while I am not training you, you will be training yourself.” He explained.

I gritted my teeth in anger and picked up my sword. “Fine.” I hissed and stormed out of the room, not caring that I shoved him out of my way, though it wasn't much.

Genesis was waiting outside. “How'd it-?”

“Fuck off!”

Genesis looked mildly surprised when I had yelled at him.

I limped away from them, all the way to the infirmary. A nice, older medic cleaned me up and patched me up. I didn't know how the fuck I was supposed to save everyone. I had two and a half years tops, most likely three to start saving everyone. I had to save Genesis from his degradation. I remember from the game that when Angeal, Genesis and Sephiroth dueled, Genesis was cut and the wound triggered his degradation. Maybe I could stop that from happening.

I hope so.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

I avoided Sephiroth for the next week.

I avoided him like he was the fucking plague. I didn't want anything to do with him, I didn't want to talk to him, I didn't want to train with him. NOTHING. If I was speaking with Zack and Sephiroth came into the room, I would leave. The same thing happened with Genesis and Angeal. I just didn't want to be around Sephiroth at the moment. Not at all. I was still too pissed at him.

After a week and a half went by, I was slowly starting to become better with hand to hand combat and using my sword. My injuries from Masamune had healed up just fine, though they left scars. I didn't fucking care to be honest. It was late at night on a Saturday and I was in the training room, running on a treadmill. I was clad in a pair of shorts, a tank top and running shoes, with my hair up in a messy bun.

As it got close to nine at night, I stopped running and decided to be done for the night. I needed food and a shower. I turned the treadmill off and wiped my face with my towel, letting out a sigh.

I hated myself.

I really did.

I was sent here with no instructions, no guidance. Nothing on how to save everyone and the Planet. I had no idea what to do except try to wing it. I shook my head and placed my towel around my shoulders before grabbing up my water bottle and heading towards the door so I could go take a shower and get some food in my stomach. Right when I was just about to open the door, it swung open and three 3rd class SOLDIERs came walking in, all three of them laughing. The first one, the tallest one of the group glanced at me. He couldn't have been any older than myself and no taller than 5'11”.

“Heyyy, aren't ya the General's apprentice?” He asked me. His voice had an accent.

“Yeah, so?” I asked tiredly.

“Are ya his fuck toy?”

I let my face contort into one of disgust. “Hell no! I don't even like him!”

“Uh-huh, sure. Yer facial expression says so otherwise.” He chuckled. “Why don't ya stick with us? Ditch Sephiroth and come be our fuck toys.”

“Nah, since all three of you are dickless, I think I'll pass.” I said angrily.

The three men glared at me and I heard the sound of the door clicking. I realized the door was locked.

Shit.

“Get 'er.”

The men aimed to grab at me and I quickly dodged to the side, running for the door. As I went to unlock it, a gloved hand roughly grabbed a handful of my hair and yanked me backwards, causing me to yell out and elbow the man holding me in the gut. He grunted and then cried out when I slammed my foot back into his shin. My hair fell out of its bun and I was grabbed again and yanked away from the door. As I was turned around roughly, a fist landed across my cheek.

I was so stunned by the hit that when I was hit again, I toppled to the ground, groaning. I felt a trickle of blood dribble from the corner of my mouth. Hell, I could even feel my face beginning to bruise up.

“Get 'er up boys. Let's teach her a lesson.”

Hands grabbed my arms and forced me to stand up. I shook my head, trying to get the dizziness out of my brain. A fist collided with my stomach and I grunted, gritting my teeth as pain erupted in my stomach. It happened again and again and again until I was coughing up blood. I was released and I curled up as soon as I was on the ground, trembling.

“Get 'er on her stomach and gag 'er. I don't want any interruptions.” I heard the first guy said.

I was rolled onto my stomach, making me flinch at the pain of the already forming bruises. My hands were forced behind my back and tied with something that clanked, probably a belt. I started thrashing and kicking my legs, knowing full well what they were going to do. My tank top was ripped off my torso and as I screamed for help, my ripped tank was shoved over my mouth and tied behind my head tightly, too tightly so I couldn't scream. Another piece of cloth was put around my eyes and tied behind my head tightly as well.

I heard a 'shing' sound and felt something cold being pressed against my scarred cheek. I knew it was a switchblade. It ran along my neck, causing me to tremble with fear. I couldn't get out of this situation. The switchblade went down along my spine, then to my sports bra. I let out a muffled cry as it was sliced through and tossed away from me.

“Damn, she's quite a screamer. I've always liked the screamers.” The second one laughed.

The switchblade went down to my shorts and I started thrashing again, letting out a muffled 'no'.

“Don't worry, darlin'. Yer gonna like this.” the first one spoke in my ear, laughing softly. My shorts were cut away from my body and then my underwear followed as well. I hadn't realized till now that my shoes had been taken off as well.

My shoulders trembled as tears formed behind my blindfold. I was held down, one of them holding my head down and another holding my upper body down. The first one spread my legs, squeezing my ass roughly. I began to sob as I realized no one was coming to help me.

As I felt something hard press against me, the sound of the door slamming open and hitting the floor was resounding. I heard the three men gasp in fear.

“S-sir, it's not what it looks like!”

“P-please, we-!”

Before another sentence could be uttered, the men were all pulled off me. I collapsed onto my side and curled up as much as I could, trying to hide. I heard three, very loud thuds and then more thuds, as if the men were hitting the floor. I heard footsteps coming towards me and I inched away from the person until gloved hands gently touched my shoulders.

“Shell, it's me.” I heard the soft, velvety voice speak.

I immediately knew who that voice belonged to. My hands were untied and I was sat up, the blindfold and gag being taken away from my face. My tear-filled eyes glanced at the man before me, the one I had been avoiding for almost two weeks straight. I forgot my anger at him, I forgot anything that I had been mad about because of him. Sephiroth was here and that's all that mattered.

“Are you alright?” he asked, his hands on my shoulders now.

I didn't say anything. I did what would've probably no other brave soul would've done and threw my arms around him, clinging to him as I sobbed. My fingers clutched his coat and he seemed tense for a long moment before his arms slowly went around me, in a comforting way. I glanced over his shoulder to see the three assaulting men unconscious, but not dead. They were breathing.

I wish they were dead.

I turned my eyes to the door as Lazard and Angeal came rushing in. They both looked around. “What happened?” Lazard asked.

“I want those three men arrested and banned from Midgar, now.” Sephiroth spoke with such venom in his voice that it made me shudder. “Angeal, I will need a blanket.”

Within moments, the three men were arrested and taken away. Angeal came back with a blanket and I was wrapped in it. I let go of the silver-haired man and kept the blanket around my form tightly.

“Can you walk?” Sephiroth asked.

“I-I-I think so....” I nodded and slowly stood up, only to double over from my stomach.

I was picked up by the silver-haired General and taken out of the room. Angeal followed, giving anyone a look that tried to ask what happened. I was taken to the infirmary and set down on a bed. I sniffled softly, watching as a female medic came over.

“Oh my, what happened?” She asked in a worrisome voice.

She was an older lady, but she seemed kind and wise. “Assaulted. She needs to be thoroughly checked.” Sephiroth replied.

“Alright, General. Come on, sweetie. Let's go get you checked out.” The lady said.

He wasn't allowed to go back with me, so I had to walk back there myself. The blanket was taken from me and I was cleaned up and dressed in a hospital gown. I was checked for broken bones and for some reason, I was dehydrated. Must've been all the crying and adrenaline.

After being checked, I was taken back to the bed and hooked up with an IV. “She has a couple broken bones and is a bit dehydrated, but she will be alright. I would like to keep her overnight just to be sure.” The medic informed Sephiroth.

“Very well.” He said.

The medic got me all hooked up and patted my head before leaving. I wiped my eyes with a hand and sniffled. “I don't like hospitals...” I mumbled.

“Not everyone does, but it's wise to have you stay just for the night.” Sephiroth said. His emerald gaze looked at me more closely, specifically my face. “When I come back in the morning, I'll heal these bruises with a Cure Materia.”

“No.” I shook my head. “I want those bastards to see what they did to me. Isn't there like a court system here?”

“Yes, but-.”

“Then I want to be able to have proof to show.”

The silver-haired man let out a soft sigh and nodded. “Very well. We'll discontinue your training for now, until you heal. Or when you want to be healed.”

I nodded. “Do you have to go?”

“I'm afraid I must. You're not allowed visitors after 10 pm.” He replied. “But I will see you in the morning.”

“Okay.” I said softly.

I really didn't want him to leave, but there was nothing I could do about it. He stood up and reached over, giving my hair a small ruffle before leaving with Angeal. After they had left, I laid down and got as comfortable as I could. I closed my eyes and it wasn't long before I was asleep, exhausted from everything.

00000000000000000000000

“Come on, we gotta go!”

“I'm coming!” I shouted, panting as I ran after the others. I was close behind Zack and Angeal, running as fast as I could. I looked behind for Sephiroth, shocked when I didn't find him behind me. “Guys, Seph's gone!”

Zack skidded to a stop, as did Angeal. We looked around for the silver-haired General, but could not find him. “You two go! I gotta find him!” I shouted at them and before they could protest, I ran off in search of my mentor. The entire town was on fire and this reminded me so much of the Nibelheim incident that would happen in a few years if I didn't save Sephiroth from himself.

“Seph?! Sephiroth?!” I called out for him, hurrying into the burning town.

I coughed and covered my nose and mouth from the overwhelming smell of burning bodies. I had never smelled something so bad....not even decaying flesh. Burnt flesh was horrible. I coughed more, my eyes watering up from the smoke. I called out for my mentor again and finally spotted a figure lying on the bloodied ground, arrows protruding from it's back.

“No.” I whispered and ran over to the figure, seeing the silvery strands tainted with the blood of enemies. “No! No!” I collapsed to my knees, shaking my mentor. “Get up! Don't die on me!”

To my relief, he began to sit up. I choked back a sob. “You're alright!” I cried and hugged the General to me.

“Yes...I am alright.” He said softly and his arms circled around me, nearly crushing me to his muscular chest. I didn't care. I was glad he was alright.

“The arrows....don't they...?” I asked, my hand barely touching one of the arrows in his back.

“No, they do not.” He replied and sighed into my hair. I could feel his hot breath against my neck. “Shell....will you go with me?”

I blinked, confused. “Go where?”

“Answer the question, please.”

“Y-yes, I'll go anywhere with you.” I nodded quickly, sniffling as I shut my eyes.

I felt him smile against my neck and suddenly, I heard the squishing sound of flesh meeting metal. Pain erupted in my stomach and I grunted, looking down as I opened my eyes. I was surprised to see Masamune's blade had pierced both of us and the tip had come out of my back. I looked up and my eyes widened as I saw another Sephiroth standing there, wielding Masamune in his left hand.

“N-no....” I wheezed, blood trickling out of my mouth.

“You said you would go anywhere with me.” He whispered against my neck and tightened his grip on me. “Follow me into.....”

I was fearful of his next word.

“Death.”

“NO!” I screamed, jumping up in bed. I wildly looked around, eyes wide and beads of sweat rolling down my forehead. I started to relax when I realized I was in the infirmary. I sniffled, laying back down as tears streamed down my cheeks. Deep down in my subconsciousness, I was scared of losing him. I was scared of losing everyone. If I didn't start acting, I was going to lose everyone. And I couldn't let that happen.

I gently rolled onto my side and sobbed into my pillow.

I was terrified of losing everything.

I don't know what time I fell asleep, but my eyes were hurting when I woke up. I mumbled and reached up to rub my eyes, yawning as I stretched my legs from under the blanket.

“Good morning.”

I glanced over with black eyes, seeing my mentor sitting in the chair. He had a book in his lap and had his right leg crossed over his left. “Hey.” I yawned and rolled onto my side, facing him.

“How are you feeling?” He asked, his emerald gaze meeting my hazel one.

“Sore.” I replied.

“The medic said you're free to leave today. Though, the hearing for the three men is today. As soon as you leave, we will be going to that so you can testify.” He said.

“You were there too. Y...you saw...”

“Seeing is not always enough, Shell. Sometimes they need the victim to be the one to tell the story.” Sephiroth said.

I frowned. “I guess so. Guess if they would have raped me, they would've gotten off scott free.”

“No, they wouldn't have.” He said.

“Yes, they would've. Did you know that when women are raped, the first thing they're asked is “what were you wearing”. The raped are the ones who get blamed and the rapists go free.” I said, scowling. “It's always been like that and always will be. Men see women as walking, talking sex machines with no feelings and as soon as they say no, they get hurt and/or killed for it.”

Sephiroth stared at me for a long moment. “I can't speak for all men, but I will tell you for a fact, that I'm not like that.”

Good. Otherwise I would kill you right now and save the world a heap of trouble in the future. I thought and nodded. “Good.”

After about another hour of talking, I was released and checked out. I was glad he brought clothes for me, because I had nothing since the clothes I had been wearing before had been ripped. I sighed softly and looked at myself in the mirror, observing my bruised face. Both of my eyes were badly bruised and the near whole left side of my face was bruised. My lip was split as well. Damn. I didn't realize how bad I looked. Oh well. It's proof that those assholes assaulted me. I thought.

“Are you ready to go?”

“Yea.” I nodded and grabbed my PHS, shoving it into my pocket.

We left the infirmary and headed to level 40, where I knew the three men were waiting. I knew they weren't going to get out of this. No way in hell. We took the elevator down to level 40 and stepped out, heading to the court-like room. There were two 2nd class SOLDIERs outside the door, guarding the room. The two SOLDIERs nodded at us and stepped aside to let us in. Sephiroth opened the doors and walked in, where President Shinra, Reeve, Lazard and a few others were there. The three men glanced up, quickly looking down as soon as they saw Sephiroth and I.

I almost wanted to smirk, but I didn't.

“General,” Shinra spoke and looked to me. “Miss...?”

“Hartford, sir.” I said, politely. I didn't like him, but I wasn't going to be a bitch or rude. He could very well have me kicked out, or killed.

“Hartford.” He gave a nod. “Sit down, please.”

I sat down in the middle, on the other side of where Reeve and Lazard were sitting. Sephiroth sat next to me. “Now, can you tell us what happened?” Shinra asked me.

I nodded and explained in full detail of what happened. Shinra listened very closely and after I was done explaining, he turned to Sephiroth. “General, you said you had photos?”

“Yes.” Sephiroth handed over a folder.

I could only guess the photos were of my injuries and of x-rays. “The three men brutally assaulted her, as evident by the bruises and the x-rays, two of her ribs are broken. I arrived in time to stop them from doing anything worse.”

“And what happened after that?” Shinra asked.

“I took her to the infirmary.” he replied.

Shinra thought for a long moment and looked to Lazard. “Lazard, what do you believe we should do with the three young men?”

“In most cases, assault and including sexual assault is most punishable by law. If a SOLDIER is the one committing the assault, they would be sentenced to death.” Lazard replied.

I saw the pure look of fear on the three mens' faces. I almost grinned.

“But, since I am not heartless, my choice is to ban them from SOLDIER and ever entering Midgar again.” Lazard continued.

“I believe that's a suitable punishment.” Reeve nodded in agreement. “Should we send letters to their families of why they were banned from SOLDIER?”

“Yes.” Lazard nodded.

“Very well.” Shinra nodded and pressed a button on the table right next to him. Three 2nd class SOLDIERs came in and took the three men away.

I wanted to laugh so hard.

“Dismissed.” Shinra said.

As soon as we left the room, I burst out into hysterical laughter. Reeve, Lazard and Sephiroth all stared at me like I had grown another head. I laughed until my ribs screamed from how sore they were. “Ahh-ha...that was fucking priceless. The looks on their faces. Okay, can you heal my ribs now?”

My ribs were healed by Sephiroth's Cure Materia and I sighed in relief. “Thank ya. Can we continue training?”

“Yes, but after I heal-.”

“Don't worry about my bruises. I want to train, beginning tomorrow.” I said.

He arched a silver brow at me and nodded. “Very well. Tomorrow morning, at six AM sharp.”

“I can do that.” I grinned.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

I woke up with a groan and glanced at the clock on the wall. It was 5:45 and I didn't hear Sephiroth's footfalls. Maybe he wasn't awake yet. I grinned softly to myself, wanting to be evil for a few moments. I got up and slowly crept to his bedroom door, grabbing the doorknob and slowly opening the door. I looked inside, seeing the lump underneath the sheet. I'll admit, this would be very awkward if he was naked under the sheet.

Oh god, my inner fangirl was coming out. Nope, not gonna think about that. I closed the door slowly and approached the bed, getting into a stance to pounce on him. But as I got closer, my idea to surprise wake him up was faltering. Now I could only stare at him. He was lying on his back, one hand on his stomach, the other resting on the pillow with his fingers slightly curled.

I felt my cheeks heat up as blood rushed to my face. He was fucking shirtless. I could see how muscular he was, not like a body builder, but still muscular and slender at the same time. His muscles looked natural though. His silvery locks were spread out on the pillows and his eyes were closed (of course) and goddamn, he looked so fucking angelic.

I really wanted to touch his hair.

I really wanted to.

But I knew that was an invasion of privacy. I rubbed the back of my neck, letting out a small, frustrated sigh. I left the bedroom, shutting the door quietly on my way out. I sat down on the couch and leaned back, hugging my knees to my chest gently.

A relationship would never happen with him.

I was here to save him, not fuck him, or kiss him, or have a normal relationship. That wasn't my goal. My goal was to save him and others.

“But how?” I whispered to myself, feeling tears weld up in my eyes. “Minerva, I don't know what to do. You haven't given me any instructions. I can't do this on my own. Please....tell me what to do.”

But of course, I never got an answer.

“Of course.” I sniffled and wiped my eyes with the back of my hand roughly. “Of course I wouldn't get a fucking answer. You sent me here with no instructions....nothing, some help you are.”

I grabbed my hair tie off the coffee table and pulled my hair back into a ponytail. I didn't feel very determined today about training, but I wasn't going to let Sephiroth know that. I didn't want to be seen as weak and stupid. I didn't even know what he thought of me to be honest. He probably thought I was just trouble and was probably going to get rid of me the moment I fucked up.

Clearly, I was afraid of that. I didn't want that to happen. I had no idea where I was gonna go if I was kicked out.

At 6 AM sharp, the bedroom door opened and Sephiroth came walking out, fully dressed. I stood up, grabbing my sword. “Are you ready to go?” he asked.

I nodded.

He led me to a different room this time. It was almost like the same as the other one, but bigger. We stood on a mat about 50 feet away from each other. “Hand to hand combat first, then swords.” He said.

I put mine on the ground and kicked it away from me so it wasn't in my way. I got into a fighting stance, putting my fists up. “Now, we'll start off with-” he started, but then I lunged towards him. Since I had been running a lot, I was able to move faster. I threw my fist towards his face and he caught it with his hand, but barely. “Good.” He said and grabbed my arm with his other hand, swinging me to the side. But I hung on tightly, as tightly as I could. I grabbed one of the brown straps across his chest and yanked him along with me, both of us toppling to the ground. I reacted quickly and wrapped my arm around his neck.

“You're reacting faster than I thought.” He commented.

“I'm not as weak as you think I am.” I said.

I meant to hold him in the headlock for a bit longer, but I was surprised when he elbowed me in the stomach hard. I let out a choked gasp and released him as I fell back, holding my stomach. I had forgotten that my stomach was bruised badly.

Fucking hell. Now I'm going to use my sword. I thought, rolling over to my sword. I picked it up and jumped up, swinging right at him. To my surprise, he had summoned Masamune and blocked my sword with his own.

It ended up going like this for the entire rest of then day until dinner time. I would swing, he would block. He would swing, I would block or dodge or duck. I was actually doing much better than I thought. I sat down, panting heavily as we stopped for the day.

“Let's head back, I'll order takeout.” Sephiroth said.

“Awesome.” I gave him a thumbs up and got up slowly, rubbing my stomach. I was tired and hungry, really hungry.

We headed back to his quarters and I called dibs on the shower first. I grabbed clean clothes from the closet in the living room and went to take a shower. I usually took long and hot showers, though I didn't want to take too long since I'm practically a guest in his home. After showering, I turned the water off and wrapped up in a towel, getting out. I dried my body first, then my hair and looked at myself in the full body mirror.

I was slightly physically fit from all the training I had been doing. My stomach, shoulders and chest were still bruised. My face was the worst though.

I didn't find myself attractive, maybe cute, but not pretty. Or beautiful. I remember the last time someone called me beautiful. I had been insulted.

I honestly wondered what Sephiroth thought of me.

Feh, he probably thinks I'm annoying. I thought sadly.

I sighed and got dressed, cleaning up my mess before brushing my hair through. It didn't really weigh on me that much since I got here. I could feel it, but it didn't feel heavy. I did like the whole defying gravity thing. I put away anything I got out and left the bathroom, steam coming out of the bathroom.

My mentor was still clad in his SOLDIER uniform. He sat there for about fifteen minutes before he got up and went to take his shower. I sat down on the couch on my side, getting comfortable as my stomach growled. We were just waiting for the food to get here. I was sore and tired and wondering when I would actually go on a real mission. I wasn't sure if I was allowed to. I leaned my head on the armchair of the couch, yawning. Sephiroth came out of the bathroom about fifteen minutes later, clad it what looked like a pair of silk pajama pants and a long sleeve grey shirt.

It was....weird to see him in casual clothes.

Just as he was about to sit down, there was a knock on the door and he went over to answer it. He paid the delivery guy and shut the door, bringing over the food. It was in about four boxes of what looked like another language. I recognized it as food like Chinese food, but of course, something else.

“Eat up.” He said.

We both ate and sat to rest while we watched some cheesy movie.

“Tomorrow, you will be going with me on a mission.”

I glanced over at the silver-haired man, curious. “Where to?”

“Obsidian Village. There is a reactor there that has malfunctioned and the monsters have been multiplying. We will be there for a week, so I suggest packing necessities only.” He replied. “You will be given a tent and a backpack for you to carry. The village isn't Shinra friendly, but they have allowed us to stay on the outskirts of the village so we may be close. I want you to stay close.” He explained.

“I can take care of myself. I'm a big girl. I AM older than you, y'know.” I pointed out, slurping a noodle right into my mouth.

“I understand that, but-.”

“But nothing, Seph.” I said, giving him a look. “I'll stay close, but I don't want a babysitter, 'kay?”

The silver-haired man thought for a long moment, then nodded. “Very well. I want you in bed by ten PM. You need plenty of sleep for the walk. We'll be taking a plane there, then we'll be hiking to our area.”

“What do we do if monsters come into camp?” I asked.

“That's why we'll have two people on night watch.”

“Cool.” I said.

For the rest of the night, we relaxed and packed our bags. Around 10:15 PM, I said goodnight to Sephiroth and headed off to bed, sort of nervous about the next day. Though I was glad it didn't take me but a few minutes to fall asleep, I was still nervous about the mission. By the next morning, Sephiroth and I both got up just minutes within each other. He dressed in his usual attire and he gave me a different outfit to wear. It closely resembled the 1st class uniform, but warmer and less armor, but enough to keep me safe. I kept my sword at my waist, in its sheath. My backpack was ready to go.

“Are you ready to go?” he asked me.

“Yeah.” I nodded.

We headed to the helipad, where a plane was waiting for us. I saw Zack, Angeal and Genesis waiting for us, while 2nd and 3rd class SOLDIERs, at least a dozen, piled into the plane with their backpacks.

“Zack!” I said happily and went over to him. We high-fived each other.

“Children.” Genesis shook his head.

I gave him a look. “Watch it, Genesis. I'm older than you.”

Genesis arched a brow and glanced at his silver-haired friend. “She is older than all of us.” Sephiroth said.

“I'm 21.” I said proudly.

“Awwwwww, so this means I can't date you?” Zack asked, pouting.

My face flushed bright red and I looked at him. “N-no, you cannot! You have to be 17 for the age of consent! Other than that, it's statutory rape.”

“I'll wait till I'm 17 then.” Zack grinned.

Angeal chuckled and we all went into the plane and took our seats. I buckled myself in, trying to be preparing for anything. I wanted to make Sephiroth proud of me. I wanted to do all I could to make him happy.

I just couldn't die.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

Closer.....closer.....

NOW!

I lunged towards my prey, my teeth bared in a dangerous smile. The prey had their back to me, completely unaware that I was going to attack them. I got close enough, nails ready to-

Then a gloved hand caught my arm and tossed me away. I yelped as I was thrown through the air and hit the mat on the floor of the plane, rolling a bit. I panted, resting on my back. “Damnit!” I growled.

“You're going to have to try a little better than that. I could hear you breathing.”

I glared over at the silver-haired man and got up, brushing myself off. “It's not my fault you have cat-like senses.” I grumbled, getting into a fighting stance and not caring if I was sparring with my mentor in front of a bunch of SOLDIERs. I wanted to prove to them that I was strong. “Besides, that was just the beginning.”

I saw the corner of his lip twitch, almost like he wanted to smirk. “Then come at me, student.” Sephiroth said.

I sprinted towards him, immediately throwing my fist to aim for his jaw. He clearly dodged, his eyes keeping a good eye on me. I went down and spun to kick his legs out from underneath him, but he moved before I could and aimed his leg for me, but I rolled out of the way. I moved back up and aimed my fist for his face.

To my surprise, his attention got turned elsewhere and my fist crashed into his cheek. I could hear the loud 'SMACK' as my fist connected with his cheek and he stumbled backwards, grunting in surprise.

“Holy shit!” a SOLDIER exclaimed.

“I'm sorry! That wasn't suppose to happen!” I gasped.

“Whoops....” I heard Zack say.

“ZACK!” I growled, glaring at him harshly as my mentor rubbed his now red cheek. He didn't look angry or anything, more so surprised than anything else. I turned to him, instantly bringing out my Restore Materia. “Chief, I'm so sorry! That wasn't supposed to happen!”

“It is fine. No need to apologize.” he waved it off like nothing happened. “I am quite alright.”

“Still sorry, chief.” I said, shooting a murderous glare at Zack, who cowered behind Angeal.

I ran my fingers through my hair and pulled it out of it's ponytail, then moved all of my hair back, only to miss a few strands. Maybe it was time I got a haircut. My hair was getting too long, since it reached my thighs. I've been told that I would look good with short hair. Maybe something akin to Cloud's hairstyle. “I wish somebody would just chop off my hair now.” I grumbled, struggling to pull my hair back.

“You don't like having long hair anymore?” Genesis asked, having heard me.

“No.” I grumbled. “It's too difficult to maintain and it's giving me headaches. I kinda want something close to Cloud's hairstyle.”

“Mine?” a small voice asked and I blinked, glancing over at a 3rd class Soldier. He was wearing the helmet, but to my surprise, I saw those bright blue eyes from underneath his helmet.

“Cloud Strife?” I blinked at him.

He took off his helmet and indeed, it was Cloud Strife, well, the 14-year old him. What the fuck was he doing in Soldier at this age? Oh yeah...he idolizes Sephiroth, so that makes sense. His cute face was way too much for me.

“Oh...my...god...you're so cute!” I grinned brightly and snuggled the blond to me.

Cloud's face went bright red as I snuggled him. He was just too damn cute. The other Soldiers stared at me like I grew another head and I glared at all of them. I ran my fingers through his hair, to which he shuddered and relaxed. “Cloud, would you mind if I got a hairstyle close to yours? I've always loved hair styles like yours.”

“Well.....I suppose it wouldn't be harmful. Go ahead.” he nodded, giving me a smile.

“Great!” I grinned and kissed the top of his head before releasing him. “Genesis, can you cut hair? You seem to be able to manage your own.”

“Now what makes you think that?” he asked, arching an eyebrow.

“I dunno......please?” I asked him, giving him my biggest puppy dog eyes.

Genesis was silent for a moment before he finally gave in. “Alright, find a spot to sit down and I'll grab what I need.”

I clapped my hands together, excited. I haven't had short hair since I was a little girl. I found a chair and sat down on it while Genesis grabbed what he needed. Who knew Genesis was a hair stylist? He's probably gay for all I know....but who knows. Genesis came back with what he needed and I assumed he was taking quick looks at Cloud's hair just so he could figure out how to cut mine. It took about an hour, but oh, it was so worth it. My head felt less heavy and much more light now. “Go take a look in the mirror.” Genesis said.

He took the covering off of me, brushing off any excess hair that was on my shoulders or back. I got up and went over to the mirror, grinning widely at my new hairstyle. It was indeed just like Cloud's, even with the bit of hair that went past the right side of my face. I touched the spikes gently, grinning so hard I felt like my face was going to break.

“Well?” Genesis asked.

“I love it! It's so awesome!” I laughed, hopping over to give Genesis a huge hug.

He let out an 'oof' noise as I wrapped my arms around him tightly and he awkwardly gave my head a pat, obviously not comfortable with my hug. “You're welcome.”

I helped him clean up the mess and finally looked over as my mentor came out of the bathroom, an ice pack on his already bruised cheek. Did I hit him that hard? “Chief! Look what Genesis did!” I said in excitement, running over to him.

Sephiroth's emerald gaze went over my new hairstyle and he reached up with a free hand, ruffling my new short, spiky hair. “It suits you well. You and Strife could be twins.”

I grinned. “Damn right we could be. Chief, did I really hit you that hard?”

“You have a mean right hook, Shell. I will be fine.”

“Okay....if you say so, chief.” I nodded and went to go sit down beside Cloud. I cuddled him to me, rubbing my cheek against his. Cloud's arms went around me and he seemed relaxed.

“You've really taken a liking to him, haven't you?” Angeal asked, a smile in his voice.

“Cloud's adorable as fuck. He's my son.” I smiled, rubbing Cloud's head affectionately. “I'm adopting you, Cloud.”

“Well....I have one mom...I wouldn't mind having another.” Cloud smiled.

“Goody!”

I must've fallen asleep against Cloud, because Sephiroth was shaking us awake when we close to reaching Obsidian Village. I yawned and rubbed the sleep from my eyes, stretching and cracking my back. Cloud rubbed the sleep from his eyes as I looked out the window, seeing the village below us as we descended slowly close by the beach. The beach was awfully small, but the island was HUGE. It was mostly covered in mountains, which I guessed we would have to walk through to get to the village.

“Chief, are we walking through those mountains?” I asked my mentor.

“Yes. It is a short cut on getting to the village.” he replied.

“Sounds like fun.” I said sarcastically. I really hated heights.

After the plane landed, everyone grabbed their bags and walked out of the plane. Mine wasn't as heavy, but I could carry it without worry. I glanced up at the mountains, seeing the path that led up to it. I sighed softly to myself, knowing this was going to be difficult. Genesis was at the very first of the line, then with SOLDIERs, then Angeal and then more SOLDIERs with Zack, Cloud, myself and Sephiroth at the end.

“I really hate heights.” I shuddered, keeping myself from looking over the edge of the path we were walking on.

“Just look straight and keep walking.” my mentor told me.

After about a half hour, I heard some sort of rumbling noise coming from behind me. I frowned, hearing some cracking as well. “Chief-.” I began, turning around and immediately my eyes went wide as my mentor's foot slipped off the edge. “Chief!” I yelled out, immediately dropping my bag and reaching to grab him before he fell into the pit below. I was able to grab onto his ankle, but I slipped down right after him.

“Shell!” I heard Zack yell out and a hand grabbed my leg, keeping me from falling.

Our bodies swung and to my absolute horror, I heard what sounded like something hitting the rocky wall of the mountain. “Chief? Chief?!”

Sephiroth didn't answer me. “Zack, pull us up!” I shouted at him.

With some help from a couple SOLDIERs, we were pulled back up to the path and I gasped when I saw blood slowly staining my mentor's silvery hair. “Angeal!” I cried, holding Sephiroth's head up and covered the wound in his head with my hand. “Angeal!”

Angeal hurried over to us, quickly checking the General's head. “Hold his head, Shell.” he said and whispered Cure2 under his breath. A warm, green glow enveloped the injury and I couldn't help the few tears that slipped down my cheeks. I'm supposed to protect him, not let him get hurt. I felt like I already failed. “Is....is he gonna be okay?” I asked shakily.

The green glow slowly vanished and Sephiroth's expression slowly relaxed and he didn't look as tense anymore. “He will be alright. Just some rest and he'll be on his feet in no time.” Angeal said, nodding. He looked up at me and he must've seen the fearful look in my eyes. “Shell, I promise he will be alright.”

“O-okay....” I nodded, wiping my eyes.

Angeal wrapped a bandage around the General's head and lifted him onto his back. We headed to where our camp was, which took another hour to get to. Angeal didn't let go of the General until his tent was set up, both inside and out. Angeal gently put him inside, gently putting his head on the pillow to rest. “Shell, why don't you stay in here and watch over him?” he offered, looking at me.

I nodded and Angeal left the tent, closing the flap behind him. I looked back to Sephiroth and bit my lip, reaching over to brush the backs of my fingers across his cheek. His skin was warm underneath my touch and I felt like I was invading his privacy, but....

I sighed, lightly touching a lock of silvery hair and letting it fall between my fingers.

I'm just glad nobody else could tell, because I was helplessly in love with the man laying down in front of me.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

I woke with a jerk, feeling warm. I blinked sleepily, glancing up to see nothing but an empty space where Sephiroth was sleeping. I quickly sat up, looking around frantically and noticed the flap of the tent was open and it was dark out and a bit cool. I shivered slightly, running a hand through my spikes. Even though I felt warm, I felt cold as well.

Fucking hated that shit.

I stretched my arms and yawned, smacking my dry lips. I crawled out of the tent, standing up and looking around. All of the tents were up and I could hear snoring coming from some of them. I glanced over to the fire and saw my mentor sitting on a thick log, seemingly staring into the fire. “Chief?” I called out to him.

He turned his head and his emerald gaze fell on me. “Ah, good evening. Well, I suppose it would be good night now, but you are awake.” he spoke.

“Yeah.” I nodded, walking over to him. “How's your head? Lemme see.”

Sephiroth seemed to tense up slightly when I gently slid my fingers through his silvery locks, trying to feel for the bump that had been caused by the side of the mountain. “I don't feel a bump, which is good.” I said, noticing his silver hair was clean instead of being crusted with dry blood. “Did you feel any pain when you woke up?”

“No.” he replied. “What happened, exactly?”

“Well,” I began, hopping over the log and sitting down next to him. “I was able to catch you, but I started falling, so Zack caught my leg and he pulled us up. Next thing I know, you're unconscious and bleeding from your head. Angeal healed you...but....”

I felt his gaze on me, but I couldn't look him in the eyes. “I was.....scared. You were bleeding a lot and I was afraid I failed you....failed in.....keeping you safe...” I said softly, closing my eyes as a single tear rolled down my cheek. I hadn't even realized what I had said until I felt a gloved hand on my head, soothing down the spikes before they stubbornly rose back up again.

“You did not fail me, Shell. I am alive. I am fine.” he spoke softly.

I sniffled and wiped the tear away, then as soon as his hand went down, I leaned against his side, placing my head against his shoulder. For a man like him, he seemed to relax around me. Maybe he did like me, or maybe he tolerated me. “I just.....don't want something like that happening again, chief. I was so scared....”

“It won't happen again.” Sephiroth assured me, his voice trailing off.

I glanced up slightly to see his gaze had gone back to the fire and he seemed to be lost in his thoughts. I looked at the fire, staying against his side and shoulder. He didn't seem to mind in the slightest. I let out a soft sigh and closed my eyes, enjoying the peace, for now.

I must've dozed off, because the next thing I knew, I was jerking awake to the sound of a loud animal-like roar. I quickly jumped up, looking around wildly. I was outside and the other SOLDIERs were up, murmuring to each other to what that sound was.

“What the hell was that?” someone asked.

“Sounded deep.” Angeal said, glancing over at Sephiroth.

“A dragon.” he mumbled under his breath.

Dragon? I thought to myself. I had forgotten you could fight dragons in this world.

“Stay in this area, everyone.” Angeal said.

I blinked. There was no way in hell I was staying here. When there was nobody watching, I grabbed my sword and quickly headed off into the trees, determined to find out where the dragon was. As I walked down the path in the woods, I saw fireflies flying around. I smiled softly, reaching out with a hand and watching as a firefly landed on my finger. It looked up at me before it flew off to join it's other friends. My sword bumped against my hip as I walked, finally coming to a large cave attached to the mountain. I lifted myself over a couple of boulders and grunted as my feet hit the ground.

I dusted myself off and brought out my flashlight, feeling how warm it was in the cave. Did dragons like it hot? I guess some dragons did. I brushed the sweat off my forehead and shined my flashlight around, hearing a growl echo from somewhere in the cave. I followed the source of the noise, passing by a wall that was filled with crystals all the way up to the ceiling. It was like a mirror. I gently touched the crystals, feeling how smooth they were. I kept on following the source of the growl and my eyes widened when I saw the large form of an animal, hunched over and struggling to move. I slowly shined my flashlight onto the animal and gasped softly when I saw that it was a large, blue dragon, it's eyes shut tightly in what looked like pain.

The dragon collapsed yet again, letting out a growl of pain. I took a few steps closer, speaking softly. “Hey there big guy....” I said softly.

The dragon's eyes snapped open and it growled lowly at me, baring it's many, sharp canines at me. I saw it's eyes were bright blue with slits, kind of like Sephiroth's eyes, but blue instead of green. It groaned again and shut it's eyes in pain. I shined my flashlight over it's body and gasped when I saw a large harpoon lodged in it's side. “Oh, you poor thing....who hurt you?”

The dragon only groaned, resting on it's belly as much as it could. I approached the dragon and knelt down by it's – his side, and put my flashlight down. “This may hurt, big guy.” I said softly and gripped the handle of the harpoon, getting a good grip on it. I began pulling on it, attempting to pull it out. The dragon let out growls of pain and then finally a small roar as I yanked the harpoon out, tossing it away from me. I quickly brought out my Restore Materia and whispered Cure3, watching as the warm, green glow surrounded the wound and quickly healed it, leaving no scratch at all.

“There we go. All fixed, big guy.” I smiled, grabbing a cloth from my back pocket and wiping the dark blood away.

The dragon let out a soft noise and I blinked, watching as he lifted his head and brought it close to mine. I was completely blown away with the dragon nuzzled his snout against my cheek and I smiled, reaching up to rub his scales gently. “You're welcome.”

He nuzzled me for a few long moments before I suddenly jumped at the sound of thunder roaring in the sky. I quickly got up and ran to the entrance of the cave, groaning when I saw that it had started to pour down rain. Thunder boomed in the sky and lightning flashed, making it too dangerous to head back to camp.

“Great. The chief is gonna kill me.” I sighed and went back to the dragon, who was relaxing. “It's too dangerous for me to walk out. Looks like I'm staying here until it stops.”

The dragon looked at me and motioned his head at his belly. I walked over and placed my sword on the ground, then sat down and leaned against the dragon. He placed his wing over me and kept his head close to me, which I petted gently. “I always wanted to meet a dragon...never thought I'd get to cuddle up to one.” I smiled softly.

The dragon snorted and I could feel the warmth coming from inside him, making him seem like a large heater. I chuckled softly and got comfortable, relaxing and letting the sound of the thunderstorm lull me to sleep.

When I woke up, I woke to the sounds of birds chirping and faint sounds of a voice calling for me. I yawned and smacked my dry lips, glancing over at the dragon. He was still sleeping, but his ears were twitching. His eyelids twitched and he opened them, lifting his head up. “I gotta go see who that is. Be right back.” I said, grunting as I got up. I cracked my back and sighed, before walking to the entrance of the cave and saw the clear, blue sky with just a few clouds floating in it.

I recognized the voice as my mentor's and I smiled, hopping over the boulder and rushing towards his voice. I came to stand behind a tree, noticing Sephiroth's back was to me. He sounded...worried? I grinned and slowly came out from behind the tree, then began running at him. “Chief!”

The silver-haired man turned to me and he didn't even get to react as I tackled him to the ground, careful of rocks. I laughed, my knees on either side of his stomach and my hands on either side of his head. “I got you, finally! Did ya miss me, chief?” I smiled, glancing down at him.

His eyes flashed with something I couldn't describe and all of a sudden, he switched our positions and a gloved hand held my wrist tightly right by my head. “Where have you been? You do not disappear like that. What if a monster had attacked you? What if you got hurt? Do you really not think about your own safety, Shell?”

He didn't have to raise his voice. I cringed down, wanting to sink into a hole when I heard how his voice sounded. “I'm sorry, chief.....I....I wanted to investigate that roar we heard yesterday. Then it started storming and I couldn't go out while it was storming like that...”

I saw my mentor's eyes soften a bit and he gave a heavy sigh, before he released my wrist and got up, holding out a hand for me to take. I took it without hesitation and he helped me up. “Do not ever leave my side like that again.” he ordered.

“Sorry, chief.” I apologized. “Oh! Oh, I made a friend! Come! You gotta see!” I said, squeezing his gloved hand and dragging the poor General back to the cave. “Come on!”

We got over the boulders without issues and I led him to the area where the dragon was. I let go of Sephiroth's hand to walk over to the dragon, reaching out for him. “Big guy?” I called out for him, since it was a little difficult to see.

I heard a snort and felt the dragon's snout press against my palms. I smiled and rubbed his snout, then glanced back at my mentor. “See the friend I made?” I asked him, petting the dragon's scales gently.

My mentor looked absolutely flabbergasted by the scene in front of him. Almost as if I grew another head. “He had a large harpoon in his side and I got it out and healed him up.” I said, rubbing my cheek against the dragon's snout. “Come feel, chief. He's not gonna hurt you.”

The silver-haired man seemed to stare at my hand when I held it out to him. He was on his guard, probably not believing this dragon was harmless. I grabbed his hand and placed his palm on the dragon's snout, to which the giant beast gave a noise of content. “See? He's harmless, chief. He just wanted a friend.” I said softly.

“You are right.” He said just as softly and was silent for a long moment before he spoke again. “We should head back before a search party comes looking for us.”

I pouted a bit and he seemed tense, before he slid his hand out from underneath mine and began heading towards the cave opening. I turned back to the dragon and he huffed, nuzzling my cheek. “I'll be back before you know it. Just stay away from harpoons, okay?”

The dragon gave a nod and I kissed his snout before picking up my flashlight and sword, then heading right after my mentor. I jumped over the boulders and inhaled the fresh air, letting out a soft sigh. Once Sephiroth noticed I was by him, we went back to the camp, where Zack tackle-hugged me to the ground, claiming that he thought I was hurt and stuff like that.

“I'm fine, Zack. Can you get off me?” I grunted, trying to push him off.

“Sorry!” He said and quickly got off me.

I stood up and brushed the dirt off of my clothes, grumbling. I sat down on one of the logs and gladly took the plate of food that Cloud handed to me. I was starving anyway. I nearly choked on my food when the ground shook and tumbled to the ground, coughing. “The fuck?!”

“Where is that coming from?” Angeal asked, looking around.

The source of the shaking seemed to be coming from the center of the island, where the village was. I scrambled up and quickly grabbed Sephiroth's arm, yanking him down the path so we could get to the village. He didn't seem to question what I was doing, as there were probably people who needed help. The shaking began to subside, then it stopped completely as we got to the town.

“What in Gaia's name...?” I heard my mentor murmur.

There were cracks all over the town, part of the ground already sunk in from the earthquake. People were hurt, as we could hear them screaming and crying for help. “We gotta help them, chief.” I panted.

“Get right on that. That's an order, apprentice.” He said seriously.

I nodded and with the amount of people we had, including the village people who weren't hurt, it took only about 15 minutes for us to get the villagers out of harm's way. As I felt the ground rumble underneath my feet, I knew another earthquake was going to happen. I heard wailing and quickly rushed to the source, seeing a small girl no older than five, cowering in a corner and covered in dirt, but no blood thankfully.

I rushed over to her and quickly picked her up, as the rumbling became more noticeable and then the ground began to shake violently. I stiffened up when I heard the ground cracking and quickly whirled around, my hazel eyes going wide.

The village was cracking apart and being sucked into the ground, by nothing but blue-green luminescent liquid.

The Lifestream was erupting through the ground, as it will with Mideel seven years from now.

“Oh fuck.” I cursed and turned around, then began running as fast as I could, as much as my legs could handle it. I could hear the ground being sucked into the Lifestream from behind me. I saw the villagers and SOLDIERs in the safe part and I could see where the barrier ended for the ground crackling.

“Chief!” I shouted.

Sephiroth quickly turned to me and he looked surprised by what he saw behind me. “Jump, Shell!”

I had to. As I got closer, my boot suddenly caught on something about ten feet away from Sephiroth and I yelped, watching as about five feet of ground cracked between him and I, sucked down into the Lifestream. I quickly tossed the little girl towards him and he caught her without much effort, just as I hit the ground roughly. I tried to move and cried out in pain, grimacing as I looked down at my left ankle.

It was twisted to the side and I could see bone sticking out from my skin. “Fuck!” I whispered, then froze as I saw that the Lifestream was getting closer and the ground underneath me was beginning to crack.

This was it.

I glanced up, my hazel eyes catching the emerald ones of my mentor. I gave him a strained smile, hearing Zack and Cloud scream out my name as the ground finally broke underneath me and was pulled down into the Lifestream, along with me.

The last thing I remember was gasping for air before everything went black.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

I let out a soft groan, my hazel eyes opening slowly. I blinked, seeing greenish-white tendrils floating in the air around me. Where was I? I blinked again and sat up, not feeling any pain in my foot that had snapped when I fell to the ground. I looked around, seeing nothing but green and white.

Shit....

I'm dead.

I'm in the goddamn Lifestream.

I saved a little girl, at the cost of my own life. Well, damn. Guess I don't get to save people after all. I stood up, feeling that I was being watched. I turned around and nearly jumped back when I saw Minerva standing there, a gentle smile on her face. She wasn't wearing any of the armor, nor did she have any of the weapons. She just stood there, in a flowing white dress that covered her form nicely.

“I'm dead, aren't I?” I sighed, scratching my head.

“I'm afraid so, dear.” Minerva nodded.

“Fuuuuccccck. And I didn't even get the chance to do anything.” I groaned, letting out a heavy sigh. “Is this revenge for all the cursing I did towards you?”

“No, of course not.” She shook her head. “Give me your hands, Shell.”

I held out my gloved hands to her and she approached me, then took my gloves off gently. She cupped my hands within her own and I watched in surprise and confusion as a warm, green glow surrounded my hands. I could feel something surging within me. “Minerva, what...is that..?” I asked softly.

“The Lifestream is in your hands now.”

I was confused and when I looked up at her, my vision went white.

00000000000000000000000

Sephiroth's POV

I could faintly hear Fair and Strife crying softly, while my emerald gaze stayed on the sloshing liquid in front of me. I heard murmurs of the liquid being the Lifestream, which was possible since it came up to the surface as Mako and created Materia.

Although I haven't know her for very long, Shell was one of the few people I could call my friend. Yes, she could be careless, immature, but she did that for others and not for herself. She gave her life, to save that little girl. I could not get that smile of hers out of my mind. I sighed quietly and looked away from the Lifestream, glancing over to Angeal. “Any wounded?”

“A couple of scrapes and bruises, but nothing serious.” he answered, glancing over at the Lifestream. “She was a fighter, Sephiroth. More brave than most SOLDIERs I know of.”

Our eyes locked and I nodded in agreement, turning my back to the Lifestream and then stopping when we heard splashing and then coughing. I whirled around and didn't believe what I was seeing.

My apprentice was on the shoreline of the Lifestream, her lower half still in the liquid substance. She was coughing harshly and gasping for air. I was beside her, as if I had teleported to her side. I patted her back, making her cough up the Lifestream that was probably in her lungs. She heaved and coughed one last time, before I turned her onto her back and observed her.

She glanced up at me, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. I could see the glow in her eyes, even though her eyes looked just slightly dull.

Mako Poisoning? I thought.

“Hey.....I came back after all.” she spoke, before she collapsed against me, her eyes closing as she passed out.

I sighed quietly, reaching up to brush the brown locks out of her eyes. I caught myself and pulled my hand away, knowing that as soon as my hair began to whip in my face, that a plane had arrived for us. “Time to go.” I said and lifted Shell up, carrying her over to the plane. Once on the plane, I laid her down on a cot and pulled a sheet over her. She mumbled and snuggled the sheet against her, her nose buried in the sheet.

By the time we got back to Shinra, I had the doctors take care of Shell so they could find out exactly if she had Mako Poisoning or not. In any case, she would have a slight case of it. I stayed in the waiting room, my arms crossed over my exposed chest as I waited. It was about another hour before the doctor came out. “She's awake, General. She wants to see you.”

I gave a brief nod and thanked the doctor before heading into the recovery center. I pulled the glass door open and pulled the curtain back, seeing that she was snuggled up in the covers, looking utterly exhausted. She opened her hazel orbs at hearing my footsteps and she smiled at me sleepily.

“Heya, chief.” she said tiredly.

“How are you feeling?” I asked, grabbing the chair from beside the door and placing it by the side of the bed, and sitting down in it.

“Tired. Doc says I got a small case of Mako Poisoning and he wants to keep me here until I recover, which shouldn't take more than a week or so.” she replied, turning onto her other side so she faced me. “My memory is still a bit fuzzy, but I remember you catching a little girl and falling into the Lifestream.”

“You did.” I nodded. “We all thought you had-”

“Died? I did die, chief.” she said.

I blinked.

What?

“I died, chief. But I came back. How? I don't remember.” Shell replied, glancing at me with tired eyes. “I don't really remember what happened while I was in the Lifestream, but I remember seeing this godly, beautiful woman. I think her name was Minerva or something like that. I think she's either the goddess of Gaia, or a physical manifestation of Gaia's consciousness.”

“Genesis speaks of her as the goddess of Loveless.” I said thoughtfully.

“Maybe she brought me back.” she shrugged, grabbing the extra pillow by the bed and hugging it to her chest. “So what's going to happen with the village?”

“The plan is to relocate them somewhere safer where the Lifestream won't burst up from the ground like that.” I replied. “There's no chance of rebuilding the village since the mountains cover most of the island.”

“Mmm....at least nobody was hurt.” she said, closing her eyes as I realized she was getting sleepy. “I'm sleepy.”

“Why don't you rest for the night?” I suggested, standing up. “I will see you in the morning.”

“M'kay...g'night, chief.” Shell said, her breathing slowing down as she finally dozed off.

“Goodnight, Shell.” I said softly and left the room to let her sleep.

The next morning, my alarm went off at 7:30, since there was nothing to do, as far as missions went. I got up, showered and dressed, then headed off to the infirmary where Shell was probably still sleeping. I entered the infirmary and headed to her room, where I was about to knock on the door, but it was slightly open, the curtain pulled over the door so I could not see inside. I could hear hushed whispering and Shell's slightly strained voice.

“Oh honey, it's okay.” a woman's voice said gently, motherly.

“I can't.....I can't let him see me like this...” Shell whimpered, breathing hard with what I knew were ragged gasps. “I can't....I don't want him to lose faith in me, see me weak....I want to do all I can to stay by his side! Even if he doesn't feel the same about me, which he probably doesn't, I can't....I cannot let him get hurt. I refuse!”

“Honey, honey. Shhh....come here....it's okay.” the other woman's voice said.

I heard some shuffling around and heard muffled sobs and gasps, which I assumed was Shell's sounds being muffled by the nurse's shirt most likely. “The General is not one to get hurt easily. He is strong.”

“He almost got his skull bashed in! He could've died right there if Angeal hadn't cured him! He can die so easily and I won't ever forgive myself if that happens...I won't.....I refuse....I refuse....” Shell trailed off, sniffling and fighting to catch her breath.

“Oh honey....” the nurse said softly.

“I promised.....I fucking promised. I can't let him get hurt....”

I furrowed my eyebrows, knowing Shell was clearly speaking of me. Was she upset because I got injured while on the mission? I was quite fine, not even a scratch or a bump. Was she....terrified of losing me?

That thought itself made something in my stomach churn. Not in a bad way, but....in an odd way. I've heard the fangirls, heard them say how much they would die to be with me, but I've never outright had a young woman like Shell be worried, absolutely terrified of losing me. I pursed my lips and let out a soft sigh, before turning on my heel and walking out of the recovery center. I believed my presence would further upset her.

I made my way to the cafeteria, where Angeal and Genesis were conversing and eating. Angeal waved me over and I didn't grab anything to eat, merely sitting down beside Angeal. “You okay, Seph? You look a bit pale.” Genesis asked.

“I heard something....rather concerning just now.” I replied, trying to find the exact wording for it. I told them of what I heard Shell say and once I was done, the two men exchanged glances before glancing back to me.

“It sounds like she's in love with you.” Genesis said bluntly.

“Isn't all the fangirls?” I mumbled.

“No, I mean like, in love with you. Like she would do anything to protect you.” Genesis corrected himself.

“I never did mention this to you,” Angeal began and I glanced at him. “But when she had your blood on her hands, she was terrified. Absolutely horrified that she failed you. She was scared for you, Sephiroth.”

I remembered her saying that she thought she had failed me and I had assured her that I wouldn't get hurt again. “I did not think she would feel that way towards me....we've barely known each other a month.”

“Well, the girl is probably a hopeless romantic.” Genesis pointed out. “Honestly, I'd confront her about it, but she'll probably make up an excuse to not talk. She's doesn't seem like that obsessive love like your fangirls, but more like that she would do anything to keep you from getting hurt. She obviously cares about your well-being.”

I noticed that way before. I thought to myself, glancing off to the side a bit.

After noon came around, I decided to go see if Shell was up. She was more than likely better by now. I informed the nurse I was visiting and she let me in. I went to her recovery room and knocked on the door, not hearing anything except the sound of the monitor beeping steadily. I opened the door and pulled the curtain aside, looking in. Shell was asleep, laying on her side with her left arm propped up under her pillow and her right arm over her side. I walked inside, closing the door behind me and pulled the curtain so it didn't bring in any excess light from the outside. I quietly walked over to the chair and sat down quietly, examining her facial expressions.

Her eyebrows furrowed and she scrunched her eyes, but didn't open them. She mumbled in her sleep, something I couldn't make out even though I was sitting close to the bed. I heard the beeping pick up and I glanced at the monitor to see that her heart rate was going up. Was she dreaming?

I heard a quiet whimper and turned my attention back to her, watching as she twitched and gripped the pillow with her left hand.

“No.....” she mumbled, fingers twitching.

I was about to speak, but she twitched violently and whimpered louder. The hand on her side suddenly hit the metal bars on the side of the bed, knuckles violently hitting the metal. I got up quickly and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Shell, you need to wake up. It's just a dream.” I told her firmly, shaking her.

She yanked away from my touch and screamed bloody-murder, the IV being yanked harshly from her arm. I could already smell the blood beginning to seep from the self-made injury.

“Shell! Wake up!” I shouted, more than likely gaining the attention of the nurses.

Her eyes snapped open and she breathed harshly, a few tears rolling down her pale cheeks. I saw the utter fear in her eyes and I felt my chest tighten up at the fear in her eyes. Without even thinking, I pulled her up and against me, feeling her tremble in my hold as I pressed her against my chest. “It was just a dream....you're alright.” I said softly.

She whimpered against my skin and clutched at my coat, trembling. I heard the door open and a couple of nurses came into the room, both of them looking concerned.

“Oh dear.” a middle-aged nurse said softly, with the same voice I heard earlier. “What happened?”

“Nightmare.” I replied, pulling Shell's right arm away from my coat so the nurse could tend to it.

“We'll take care of her. Can you step out of the room for a moment?” she asked me.

“N-no!” Shell gasped, clutching onto my coat with her left hand. “D-don't make him leave, please! I don't....please....no....”

The nurse's eyes softened and she gave a soft nod, before she and the other nurse tended to her arm. They bandaged her arm and hand up, then stuck the IV in her other arm for now. The nurse informed me to call out for her if we needed anything and left us be. I glanced down at Shell's mess of dark brown spikes and smoothed them down, only for them to rise up again.

“I'm sorry....” she whispered.

“For what?” I asked.

“For being weak....I'm sorry....” she sniffled.

“Just because you had a nightmare, doesn't make you weak, Shell.” I said softly, gently rubbing her back. “It is alright.”

She sniffled, letting out a heavy sigh. I could feel her warm breath on my skin. “Will....will you....h-hold me? Just until I fall asleep?”

I was a little surprised by that, but I didn't seem any harm in it. “Of course.” I said softly, grabbing up the blanket that wasn't covering her and placing it around her shoulders. She curled up her legs by her abdomen, but stayed curled against my chest as I placed my arms around her back, keeping her covered up. I let one hand go up to her hair, fingers gently running through the locks.

Shell let out a soft sigh, sniffling once more before she went quiet. Eventually, I felt her body relax as she dozed off, exhausted. Even as I felt her soft breathing against my skin, I felt that she would probably feel safer if I stayed here for a while longer.

I didn't really see the harm in it.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

The next six days went by slowly and I couldn't be more happy to get out of that damn hospital. I was also more than happy to find out that Sephiroth and I got a new place, since he didn't want me sleeping on the couch anymore. Now we had a two bedroom, one bathroom place, with the kitchen and living room being the same size as his last place.

“I'm so glad you're alright. Mako Poisoning is really serious....even if it's weak.” Cloud said softly.

“Bah, Mako Poisoning couldn't beat me if it tried!” I grinned and ruffled his spiky locks. “You guys been good for the chief?”

“Yeah. He's been giving us days off since there haven't been any missions.” Zack nodded. “I hate missions sometimes, damn.”

“Hey, you sighed up for SOLDIER, Zack. Gotta be a tough guy.” I said, nudging his shoulder. “But a vacation would be nice....even for just a few days.”

“Vacation, hmm?” my mentor spoke as he walked up to us.

“Yeah, you guys don't get to have much fun.” I said, thinking deeply. “Oh.....Oh, I know where we can go! I've always wanted to go to the Gold Saucer! Let's go!”

“Now now-.” Sephiroth began, but I interrupted him by tugging on his sleeve.

“Chief, can we go?! Please? Just for the weekend? You don't get out much.” I asked, giving him my biggest puppy dog eyes.

The emerald-eyed General stared at me for a long moment before he gave a soft sigh. “Just for the weekend.” he confirmed.

I grinned and leapt up, placing a kiss on his cheek before grabbing Cloud's and Zack's hands. “C'mon, let's go pack!” I told them and we all ran down the hallway, more than happy to go on a short vacation. I really just wanted to go to the Gold Saucer. We got to the rooms Zack and Cloud were staying in and I helped them pack what they needed for the weekend.

“Hey, Shell.” Zack caught my attention.

“Yea?” I asked.

“Do you like Sephiroth?” he asked.

I blinked. “Why would you think that?”

“Because you kissed him on the cheek.”

My face went bright red as I suddenly realized I did that. I hadn't even realized until Zack said something. “As a friend, nothing more!” I said quickly.

“Uh-huh.” Zack grinned.

“Shut the fuck up and pack.”

The next day was Friday and a chopper was already waiting for us when we all woke up the next morning. There were going to be six of us, Zack, Cloud and I, then Sephiroth, Angeal and Genesis. Angeal and Genesis agreed to go, wanting to get out of Shinra for the weekend. We all put our bags in the chopper and headed off to the Gold Saucer, though we needed to get through Old Corel first. The chopper was landed outside of the ruined town and we made our way in, heading to the station. People looked at us when we went in, but didn't really pay any attention to us.

“Oh god, I'm so excited.” I grinned as we sat down in the station, already turning to look out the window.

“Me too. I can't remember the last time I came here.” Zack said, grinning just as much as I was.

“I've never been here, but I've heard it's fucking awesome.” I said, almost jumping up and down when the station began moving on the lines, heading right up to the amusement park. I watched in glee as we came out of the clouds and I gazed in awe at the amusement park. It looked so fucking awesome and so much fun. How did someone even build this place? Oh right, Dio did. God, this was going to be so much fun. I made sure to bring my sword and armor and things with me, because I wanted to fight in the Battle Square for prizes.

Hell, maybe I could convince Dio for the Keystone. I figured I'm going to need that later to get the Black Materia. Once we finally got to the top of the ropeway station, the car stopped and we all piled out, heading over to the entrance.

“Ah, General!” the man at the entrance said. “So nice to see you again. How have you been?”

“I've been well, Cain.” Sephiroth nodded. “I'm using my unlimited pass for everyone here. And give everyone one thousand GP.”

“A thousand?! Chief, are you sure you can afford that?” I asked in shock.

I saw the faintest of a smile on his face and he only gave his card to Cain so he could do the purchase. “Of course.”

“Seph, you're awesome!” Zack exclaimed.

Cain came back with pouches of GP and gave one to each of us. “Go have fun. I'll go check us into the Ghost Hotel.” Sephiroth said. “I'll catch up with you.”

“Okay chief!” I said and we left our bags with him and the other two men. “Let's go the Wonder Square! I'm gonna kick your asses!”

“Oh no, you don't!” Zack laughed.

We went to Wonder Square first to play some games and warm up before we did anything else. “Who wants to play snowboarding?” I asked, heading over to the snowboarding game. Zack and Cloud both wanted to play, but they let me go first. I put Gil into the game and started snowboarding my way through the game, obviously experienced since I played the game all the time back in my world. I was an expert at this game.

After my turn was over, my score was amazing. I ended up being number 1 and I laughed. “Oh yeah.”

“Wow, you're a natural!” Zack said, amazed.

“That was amazing!” Cloud said.

I only grinned and let them have their turn, while I went to play other games. After an hour of playing games, I started noticing something....weird. There was this guy who stayed in the game room the entire time, playing game after game after game and also looking at me. He wasn't much older than me and he was tall, but obviously not taller than Sephiroth. He was pretty skinny too and I could probably take him down without a problem if he bothered me. Ah well, if he becomes a problem, I'll take care of him.

After about another hour of playing games, I got bored and decided I wanted to go do the battle square for a while. I told Zack and Cloud that I was going to the Battle Square and they said they would meet me there. I took the tube down to the Battle Square and entered, immediately going to Dio's museum. I glanced around his possessions and finally spotted the Keystone, grinning. So it's been here the entire time.

“Hey there little missy!”

I turned around and saw Dio standing there in all his pride and glory. I waved at him. “Yo.”

“Lookin' at my prized possessions, eh?” he asked, coming over to me.

“Yep. Hey man...how much is it for the Keystone?” I asked, pointing my thumb at the Keystone behind me.

“Oh, it's not for sale.” He said, shaking his head.

“Look man. I'll fight for it, but I REALLY need it.” I said, putting my hands on my hips and looking him straight in the eyes.

Dio was silent for a long moment, before he let out a barking laugh. “You've got balls, kid! Alright, so let's do this. Fight and I'll give the Keystone to you.”

“Deal.” I grinned and shook hands with him.

Okay, so since I didn't want to go about the whole battle part, I won. I got scratched and bruised in quite a few places, but I won. It really wasn't that hard since I was better at fighting than what I had been before. “Here ya go, miss!” Dio said as he tossed me the Keystone. “Better take good care of that, miss.”

“Promise.” I said, catching the Keystone. “Hey...how many rounds can I go?”

~

Sephiroth's POV

“She's been gone for hours and you don't know where she is?”

“No.....”

I sighed heavily to myself and pinched the bridge of my nose. I had been in the Ghost Hotel for the past few hours, resting and coming to Wonder Square, with Shell nowhere to be found.

“She said she was going to the Battle Square.” Cloud said.

“Then that's where she probably is. Let's go.” I said, turning around and heading for the Battle Square.

When we got there, there was a crowd gathered around and cheering as they watched the large screen. Someone was battling and doing a good job.

“I wonder who's fighting.....oh shit.” Zack cursed. “Uh....Seph?”

“What?” I asked and glanced up at the television, my eyes going wide as I saw who was fighting.

Shell had just taken down another monster and the next one was coming up in a few moments, letting her catch her breath. She must've been going at this for a while now, because she was covered in scraps, bruises and scratches and even had her clothes torn. A trail of blood trickled down from a cut on her temple, but she didn't seem to care as she charged towards the monster as soon as it came up. Suddenly, the monster lunged out it's huge hand and smacked her across the battlefield, causing her to hit the wall and slide down with a loud groan.

“Come on! Kick it's ass!” somebody shouted.

“Holy crap...” I heard Cloud say.

Shell got back up, a bit wobbly and she ran around the monster, casting a fire spell against it. It screamed out in pure agony and she did it again, grinning widely the whole time. When the creature fell to it's knees, she jumped up and plunged her sword into it's head, causing the monster to fall to the floor, dead.

“And she did it again! Give her a round of applause folks!” a male voice announced.

The crowd applauded for her and the large, metal door opened and she stepped out, grinning. She looked wobbly and appeared exhausted, but she keep a strong look. The crowd cheered for her and she was picked up, being thrown into the air and then caught by the crowd. Once that was over with, she was set down and the crowd faded away quickly, going about their own business.

“Man, missy! You did pretty damn well in there!” a man, who only I could recognize as Dio went up to her. “I'm impressed.”

Shell shrugged. “It's fun. Gets my fighting skills up.”

“Well, you've certainly caught my attention, missy. Keep up the good work!” he patted her on the back a bit roughly and walked off.

“Hey guys!” she said as she walked over to us, obviously exhausted.

“What were you thinking?” I asked, shaking my head.

“What? It's fun, chief.” she said. “Can we go back to the hotel now? I'm really tired.”

It was pretty late anyway and we all deemed for it to be a good idea. We were able to get three rooms for the weekend, one for Genesis and Angeal, another for Zack and Cloud and though I knew she would protest, one for Shell and I. We said goodnight to the others and I guided Shell into our hotel room, advising her to take a shower before I tended to her injuries. After she showered, she came out and I took out the first aid kit, beginning to bandage her injuries.

“Chief, I'm fine. Sore, but fine.” she spoke as I wrapped up her hand, which was cut up.

“You know better than to go off on your own.” I sighed, shaking my head. “Do I have to put a tracking monitor on you?”

“Chief, I'm a big girl. You keep forgetting I'm older than you. I can take care of myself.” she said, glancing at me and I assumed she was staring into my eyes. Mostly people were too nervous to look me in the eyes, but my apprentice was certainly different. “Do you worry about me, chief?”

“I do. You are my apprentice after all.” I nodded, finishing up bandaging her injuries.

Shell smiled tiredly and to my surprise, she leaned forward and nuzzled her head against my chest. I blinked, feeling my chest tighten up. What exactly was this feeling? I let out a soft sigh and placed an arm around her shoulders, the other around the middle of her back. “Just be more careful, alright?” I looked down at her.

“M'kay, chief.” she yawned and nuzzled her head further into my shirt, obviously comfortable. “Y'know....I really like you, chief. You're strong, amazing.....people said you were cold, but you're not....I...love.....”

Her voice trailed off as she finally fell asleep and I had gone stiff against her. Had she....just confessed something too personal to me? She could've said she loved something else, maybe my personality? Yes....that was all. I let out another soft sigh and let her rest against me until I became tired, then set her in her own bed so I could get some sleep.