Title: Forget Regret (or... The 'Situation')
Author: Miss Kalloway
Disclaimer: If I owned FF7, Sephiroth would have spent much less time wearing pants. Therefore, I do not own it. Please do not sue.
Warnings: Shounen Ai, Yaoi, mentions of assault and rape (but nothing graphic), multi-pairings, angst.
Summary: Pre-game mystery with an overlying plot about choices made and the results of those choices.
Pairings: You'll See.
Zack smiled as he stepped into the inner courtyard of the facility. It was one of those days in the spring where it was still cool enough to wear a jacket in the morning, but warm in the afternoon.
Still, Zack was still wearing his jacket. He'd taken it with him when he'd left his room several hours before and couldn't quite bring himself to tie it around his waist like some people would. It wasn't too hot. Just warm.
He stopped, listening for a moment to make sure he'd heard what he thought he'd heard. Sure enough, soft moaning was coming from the bushes. There was nothing like a nice spring day to drive the cadets out of their rooms and into the bushes for their afternoon activities.
Sure, he'd done his share of groping and fucking at that age, probably behind the same bushes. And sure, he'd had his share of punishment for getting caught.
Perhaps, he thought suddenly, that's what the one odd scar on his leg was from. He could never remember.
But the last thing the young SOLDIER felt like doing was dragging two (or more) hormone-filled cadets to the proper authority and fill out fourteen pages of paperwork detailing well, the details.
Balancing his condensation-covered water bottle underneath his arm, he dug in both jacket pockets for something to throw at the offending bushes. It's not like the cadets didn't have bedrooms or bathrooms or just about anywhere else that wasn't the middle (well, actually the edge) of the inner courtyard.
Zack's lips twisted into a little grin as he realized he was going about his idea all wrong. His water bottle had been full of ice when he'd taken it from his freezer that morning and it still had a few bits of ice floating in the cold water it had melted into. Taking it in his right hand he, pulled the cap loose with his teeth as though he was pulling the pin on a grenade and as soon as he heard the telltale moans from the foliage, he let loose, spraying icy water in the general direction of the objects of his annoyance.
A loud shriek let him know that he'd hit his target. Well, of course he had, he was a SOLDIER... And Sephiroth probably would have made him a few hundred push-ups if he had missed.
By the time he'd made it to the set of doors on the other side of the courtyard (and caught two retreating cadets out of the corner of his eye), Zack was humming one of the annoying pop songs he'd had the displeasure of hearing the night before.
He was still humming as he turned the corner towards the main dining commons, narrowly missing a collision with a pair of superior officers. Luckily he snapped to attention and saluted without thinking.
It was Sephiroth and his current cohort, Jameson. Despite a few odd rumors about their current relationship, they were never seen together.
Something was going on.
Jameson wasn't a high-ranking SOLDIER because he was exceptionally strong or good with weapons. Instead, he was one of the elite magic-users working for ShinRa. It was said he even slept with his materia, all mastered, and that he had certain magic powers without using the glittering orbs.
"And how are you this afternoon, Zack?" Sephiroth smiled as he looked at the black-haired man.
Zack didn't say anything for a moment. He was too busy negotiating the distance between Sephiroth and Jameson as compared to how far apart two people who weren't rumored to spend their spare time fucking would stand.
Then he figured he should answer, since Jameson was giving his quite the odd look with his deep blue Mako eyes.
"Fine, Sir," Zack replied. "Just on my way to grab a snack."
"Will you be around later?"
Zack made a face somewhere between a wince and some sort of absolutely incredulous confused shock. He sincerely hoped for a moment it wouldn't freeze that way. Sephiroth hadn't just propositioned him in front of his current... He wasn't sure of the exact term and he didn't want to think about it. Unless Jameson was in on this. But as much as he respected the red-haired mage, he didn't want to sleep with him.
Back to the question...
"I should be in my room, Sir."
"Good. I may need to talk to you concerning the current 'situation'," Sephiroth said, somehow managing to make the compound's current crisis sound like something that could be discussed over tea.
Zack just nodded. He believed himself to be well informed as to what was going on concerning the goings-on of the compound, but something was obviously going on.
"We'll be late," Jameson interjected, looking over at Sephiroth. "And I do not want to miss any of this meeting."
The silver-haired man returned the gaze. "They'll wait."
"I should be going anyway," Zack said quickly, wanting out of the conversation and Jameson's range immediately. As much as he respected Jameson, the man was rather creepy after awhile. Without another word, he smiled, waved, and headed off down the hallway, trying to reconcile the conversation in his mind.
Jameson looked over at Sephiroth as they walked in the opposite direction.
"You think putting him in Hallway C will actually be a deterrent?"
"You're underestimating Zack," Sephiroth replied. "I know him well. I'd rather put him in that hallway before any of the older SOLDIERs. Zack knows how to handle the cadets."
"I don't see why..." Jameson was cut off almost immediately.
"Save it for the meeting."
Deep blue eyes glared over at the General, irritated at the dismissal. Neither said another word until they were both standing next to a long table where the three other representatives of the ShinRa SOLDIER training facility sat.
"Sephiroth. Jameson. Thank you for coming." A middle-aged woman stood up and shook both of their hands.
"I share the concern of everyone here," Sephiroth said, letting go of the woman's hand and sitting.
"Then we should get started." The voice came from a young woman with her blonde hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun.
"Of course, Saydhe. The sooner this is dealt with..."
"I agree, Resi. The sooner the better." Saydhe adjusted her glasses and looked around the room.
"Perhaps I should go over the latest details of the situation," Resi suggested, brushing his dark bangs out of his face. He was the senior security officer for the compound, young for his position, but good at what he did. Usually nothing escaped his watchful team, but this...
"I think we know the details. What we need is a solution!" Jameson glared across the room. "The students don't need this hanging over their heads."
"I agree," Sephiroth said. "And no one here needs it hanging over their heads as well. Which is why I'm going to move one of my younger SOLDIERs into Hallway C."
"I don't think that'll be enough," Resi countered.
"It's a beginning."
"I'm still worried about the students who have been personally effected." The older woman was flipping through a pile of papers as she talked. She was Dr. Amma, the compound's psychologist.
"And besides the medical results concerning the affected students, I don't see why I'm here." Saydhe looked annoyed. She was less of a doctor and more of a researcher, but she'd somehow, against her will, been elected to serve on the committee.
The committee. They didn't have a name because they didn't really want to be there. But they had the 'situation' to deal with. And until they did, they would have to meet weekly to discuss any advancements that had occurred.
"We need to remember why we're here. Seven boys have been beaten and raped in this facility and until the perpetrator is caught, none of us should be complaining," Sephiroth said, looking over at Saydhe.
"Of course, Sephiroth," Dr. Amma said. "But until we can convince the cadets from Hallway C that they shouldn't shower alone at night no matter how tough they think they are..."
"Can't we just lock them in their rooms and schedule a shower time?"
"Sure, Saydhe, you try to get 200 cadets bathed in an hour. And we can't lock the doors for safety purposes," Resi replied coldly.
Sephiroth looked over at Jameson. The mage's eyes looked almost like they were flickering.
Zack leaned back against his headboard and flipped through the badly stapled pages that claimed to be "The ShinRa Fake!", one of two underground newspapers run by various cadets. For awhile, the administration had chased after the editors, but now it seemed to be just as likely for the administrators to be reading the papers. Of course, the editors didn't know that or they'd probably edit quite a bit more.
-SEVENTH STUDENT ASSAULTED IN HALLWAY C-
Early Wednesday morning, another Hallway C resident was assaulted in the communal shower room for the hallway. The student, who wishes to remain anonymous, was found by another student planning to bathe and was taken, unconscious, to the medical wing. He has no memory of the assault and does not wish to talk about it.
Zack set the paper down on the bed next to him. Where did the paper get its information, anyway? Did the victim just run to the paper and then not talk? Was there an inside source?
Did it matter? That wasn't the real issue.
He picked up the paper again and turned the page.
-IN REVIEW: THE HALLWAY C ASSAULTS-
One month ago, a Hallway C resident was brutally assaulted in the communal shower for the hallway. While there are scattered incidents similar in nature in the compound's history, this incident was not isolated.
The article went on to detail the other six attacks, each following
a similar pattern, each time the violation and beating getting worse. Though
it was no consolation to the victims, each one was knocked unconscious
prior to the assault. None of them had even seen the attacker, making it
common theory that it was someone highly trained.
It was a situation. One that needed to be taken care of as quickly as possible. Of course, the administration and the committee who had assembled to try to catch the culprit and find a solution only managed to butt heads and get more frustrated.
Zack almost didn't hear the quick succession of knocks at his door. He paused a moment and listened. Nothing. But still...
He swung his legs off the bed and stretched before padding through the small apartment to the door. It wasn't much, but it was all his. And quiet, most of the time. Except when he had someone over. That was another joy of having his own place, even if it was within the compound. He could have anyone over without upsetting some pesky roommate.
Sure enough, he did have a visitor. Sephiroth. And there he was, wearing only sweatpants and holding one of the underground newspapers he wasn't supposed to admit existed.
"Save it, Zack."
"So what's going on?"
"You're going to have to bear with me for a little while, Zack," Sephiroth said as he walked across the small living room to sit down on the only chair. "The committee still can't find their collective asses in the dark and I can't spend every waking second patrolling Hallway C."
"As of now, your new housing assignment is Room 18, Hallway C."
"What? Sephiroth!" Zack crossed the room in less than a second. "You can't do that!"
Well, actually, he could. And he did. Zack sat down cross-legged on the floor, realizing his defeat before the silver-haired commander could say another word.
"You'll be rooming with two cadets, both bright and promising. One of their previous roommates was expelled and the other was promoted, leaving plenty of space in their suite for a SOLDIER who can watch over that hallway," Sephiroth said, watching as Zack went through a myriad of faces and partial hand gestures.
"When am I moving?"
"As soon as possible. Why don't I walk down with you to meet your new roommates and explain what's going on?"
Zack scowled. Who did Sephiroth think he was, trying to get everyone to play nice and make friends? Still, he would feel a bit silly knocking on the door and announcing to his new suite-mates that he now lived there.
Cadets. How annoying. Still, he quickly threw on a decently clean uniform, not even looking to see if Sephiroth was watching him. Any other time he'd see this as a prime opportunity for a repeat of the one night he'd spent as Sephiroth's lover. But with the 'situation' taking the prime slot in both of their thought...
They walked to Hallway C in silence, Zack trying to tame his hair a bit as he followed behind Sephiroth. He was very tempted to ask where Sephiroth's red-haired shadow was, but he figured that a comment like that would not only ruin his chances at ever getting fucked by the General again, but would also earn him a few hundred push-ups. At night. In the rain. With Sephiroth himself standing on his back, counting.
It was not the most pleasant idea.
He sighed as they reached Room 18, which was actually 'Room 0018' according to the small brass plate beside the door.
Sephiroth knocked twice, pulling his all-access keycard from his pocket a second before the door finally opened.
Two sets of wide-eyes peered into the hallway, their faces showing pure shock. The first boy had longish mousy brown hair and dark eyes. He was holding a can of soda and seemed to have been the one to have opened the door. The other boy had unruly blonde hair and blue eyes that rivaled Jameson's. He was smaller than his roommate, but still somehow looked strong. Defiant. Like he'd gone through quite a bit to get to where he was.
And he couldn't be older than fifteen.
Thankfully, both snapped to attention.
Within moments, Sephiroth had introduced everyone and explained the situation. Zack was still leaning against the doorframe as Sephiroth looked around the suite. Two bedrooms, one living room, one half-bath (which was added as an afterthought once ShinRa realized sometimes all 200 cadets did have to go to the bathroom at once and shared toilets involved long lines), same as any other in the hallway. And one bedroom, which had been shared by the two cadets who no longer lived there, was still empty. Perfect for the black-haired man who was trying not to spend too much time thinking about just how to sneak people into this hovel.
"Zack, why don't you spend a few minutes getting to know Ryan and Cloud?" Sephiroth said, his coat swishing slightly behind him as he exited the room. "I still have paperwork to file before the end of the day."
"Huh?" But Sephiroth was already gone, and now Zack was standing face to face with the two cadets. The brunette looked like he was going to pass out and the blonde just seemed super curious and inquisitive. What were their names? Ryan and Cloud.
What kind of name was Cloud? That was the blonde's name, right? Maybe it went with those eyes.
Suddenly, he wished he had his bottle of icy water and that with one squirt, the entire afternoon would go away.
A/N: And Kalli starts an epic before finishing her current one. Oh well. So... I know where this is heading. And while the 'situation' is going to be an ever-present element of the fic, I'm not sure it's what the fic is about though. I guess half about that and half about Zack and his new living conditions!
But I do want a decent mystery somewhere in the fic! I hope the OC's aren't too confusing yet. Most of the committee isn't important so far, and I'll try to only have one new character per chapter (or less) so it's not too overwhelming!
In another couple chapters, there will probably be more sexx than one can shake a stick or something like a stick at. The ff.n version of this story will be edited for content, but the full chapters will appear on my website on or before they appear edited on ff.n.
Thanks. I'm sure I have a million things I'm forgetting to add on.
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