blackwidow: (Default)
Title: War is Hell
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII (AU)
Pairing: Sephiroth/Zack (Sephiroth/Angeal/Genesis)
Warnings: Military nerdery.
Rating: M
Summary: Hel on Gaia, otherwise known as the Wutai War, became something much more interesting for Zack when General Sephiroth joined the game.
Notes: AU because I want Angeal, Genesis, Sephiroth and Zack to be able to hold a conversation without reaching for their weapons or coughing up feathers every two seconds. I have also taken the timeline and Sephiroth’s gender and fucked it in the ass without lube.

Outfit for Sephiroth and general idea for the whole thing came from [personal profile] askerian.


-

War is Hell

Four Star General

-

During the lull in the second year of the Wutai Conflict, change occurred. A shift in power amongst the Shinra forces. It was a time of utter lack of action; where there had been no surrender, no give or take in advancement, and both sides had retreated for the moment to tend to their wounded, bring in more men and collect themselves. It might have been the best time to attack in Shinra’s opinion, but it was not the executives running this war.

Certainly not Director Heidegger.

Not anymore.

The shift truly occurred as Lazard took over SOLDIERs paperwork and General Sephiroth took her first step onto Wutaian soil at their base in the far South-East of the country. Base Alpha One (otherwise known as the Kuen Base) was on conquered ground, fit with an airstrip for supplies and living quarters after the first year of the war had firmly held the base in Shinra hands. Just because this was a war did not mean that the army couldn’t watch the latest movies coming out in Junon and Midgar, after all.

Still, this change was almost heavy in the air, an almost recognisable scent. The camp seemed to know about the shift before the Infantry did. It was just something in the air, the reluctant sense that something great was coming.

--

Strangely enough, though they had been told that General Sephiroth would be arriving from Base Alpha Zero in Cosmo on the cargo plane along with their latest supplies, mail, A company and reinforcement SOLDIERs, there was no sense of urgency just yet. The men liked their little slice of life on Wutai just the way it was, thank you. The last thing they needed was another Shinra higher-up like Heidegger fucking things up for them, especially a war. Bureaucrats did not make SOLDIERs. Word in the barracks was that this was the General’s first time in a theatre of war. The army, SOLDIER included, had never met the man or even seen him around the Shinra Tower during peacetime, nor been on missions with him.

Zack wasn’t the kind of guy that gave a rat’s ass about that kind of gossip though. Angeal had fallen out of the sky too, and the guy was just fine. Like a father to him.

Which was why he was surprised Angeal hadn’t really talked about him much until Zack asked about him specifically. “Sephiroth?” Angeal repeated, blinking at Zack.

“People are saying that this is his first time in a theatre of war.” Zack spoke with his mouth full.

They sat sharing a table in the mess hall. They’d been out on a mission together and so they were having their breakfast when they should have been getting ready for dinner. For the moment they weren’t on active duty, not with the new General arriving the next morning. Mixing his food up Angeal looked thoughtful for a moment, took a mouthful and spent a while collecting his thoughts as he chewed, swallowed, made a face at the flavour. Carried on.

“I’ve known her for quite a while. Not as long as Genesis, but you could say we’re friends, yes. We train together a lot. She’s quite formidable.”

The Planet, in Zack’s mind, ground to a halt. Screeching included.

He blinked. “She?”

To say Angeal was merely amused didn’t quite cut it, but the SOLDIER kept on eating, looking up every so often. “Yes, Zack. Your face will get stuck that way if the wind changes, you know.”

It took a second for Zack to come to life again. “Hang on, I’ve never heard of a girl getting into the army.”

Angeal gave him an old and world weary look. “I wouldn’t call her a girl to her face.”

Zack looked offended. “That would be insubordination.”

“And a death sentence,” Angeal added. He sipped from a tin cup provided by the mess hall’s table of drinks. It was plain water for him, and Zack, though there were all kinds of carbonated things available. Angeal, when he’d first become Zack’s mentor, had been quick to take him off sugar while he was on duty. Sugar was for leave, because Zack ended up eating enough to bypass the mako and turned into a shaking, rabid lunatic.

That and the Turk Reno seemed to hang around Zack a lot when he wasn’t on missions and the two of them together was bad enough. Hyperactive SOLDIERs influenced by Turks were not things Angeal wanted anyone to suffer. At least when he was off duty Angeal didn’t have to claim responsibility.

(And yet he would, should the occasion arise where it was needed. Angeal was just that kind of guy. Zack sometimes wondered if he’d shoot his own foot if it would make someone smile.)

“So...you never answered me about the first time in theater thing.” Zack drew a face with sauce on his slab of what was meant to be meat and then ate around it, not wanting to destroy his work of art just yet.

Angeal frowned and Zack was pretty sure he saw a flash of protectiveness there. It was something common to see in Angeal, but it still interested Zack. “It’s your first time too, Colonel.”

Urp, he mentioned rank. Zack held his hands up, palms facing Angeal. “Hey, I’m not saying I’m judging. It’s just what they’re saying. If you want me to tell them to can it, I can do that. ‘Cause it’s kind of getting on my nerves too. Slander and all.”

Angeal shook his head and his hair, caked with dried mud, swayed as he did so. Little crumbs tumbled down and landed on the plastic table. “Sephiroth won’t take kindly to that kind of talk.”

With a faintly amused look, Zack wondered if this Sephiroth was a real asshole, or if she just demanded respect off the bat. Genesis had been the same, at first. He’d come off as nothing but an arrogant fop, another Heidegger, until he’d opened his mouth and, shoved in between loving recitals of ancient poetry and philosophy came the most creative bouts of swearing and brutal insults. Not to mention his skills on the field. He’d gotten that respect he’d demanded pretty damn quick.

Angeal had been something of the same, only he’d never once lost his temper like Genesis did. Never once growled or hissed at anyone on a bad day, or appeared before his SOLDIERs and expected instant respect. He understood it had to be earned, and he worked hard to gain that respect and reverence as quick as Genesis had.

The two Generals had been some of the first men on Wutai soil, back before Kuen Base had been established. In fact, they were the ones who’d carved it out for themselves, defended the land they gained with iron fists as relief infantry and militia came, began building the Shinra stronghold with blood sweat and tears.

And now the third general, albeit four star, was coming and would take that victory from them? Try to claim that it had been her success? The men were very protective of their own, and they didn’t need some General who’d never seen real battle to come and tell them how to run this war. Heidegger was hopeless, and it was only recently that the Wutai campaign had been passed over to the as yet unknown General who, until a week ago, no one knew anything of.

Except for Angeal and Genesis.

“What’s she like?” Zack persisted.

Angeal looked troubled for a split second but then he chuckled and didn’t seem to have as much trouble coming up with an answer to that one. “Stern.”

Zack squinted and waved his fork around a little. “With all the cock waving that goes on around here, do you think she’ll last long? I mean...she’s going to be the only woman out here...”

Angeal hesitated a moment. “She’s a General, Zack. Believe me when I say she’s earned the title.” Call Zack crazy, but with the way Angeal’s tone turned slightly airy, it seemed like he was reassuring himself instead of Zack. “Besides, she and Genesis get along...she—they put up with each other. To a certain degree.”

That said a lot. Zack’s eyebrows rose. He looked down at his food and got back to filling his half-empty stomach.

-

Standing beside Angeal and Genesis, Zack watched the large airship carrier as it landed. The landing strip was little more than a field of grass, and the trees around them shook with the force of the wind kicked up from the engines of the ship as it touched down. Dirt and soil was sent flying, like it did every time a carrier of this size landed. Zack’s hair was going crazy but he couldn’t exactly break his salute to hold it back, nor could he complain about it under his breath like Genesis.

What could be spared of the base infantry was lined up in neat rows, SOLDIER standing before them in three neat sections at attention. No one was dressed up, which technically breached regulations, however Zack had been informed by a terribly amused Genesis that ‘Her Highness’ had balked at the very thought over the long distance radio in the command tent. So they were in their battle gear, Zack’s charcoals looking too-new and crisp compared to Angeal’s worn in ones.

The mechanical structures on the base of the hull began to whirl and after a moment, the gate of the hull began to drop at its own pace, slow and careful.

The ship wasn’t all that far away really, and with his enhanced eyesight Zack could see those that were revealed with the decent of the hull gate just fine. He still squinted, not out of poor eyesight, but to make sure he was seeing what he was seeing. Then he swallowed thickly.

She was tall and dressed in leather, SOLDIER belt around her waist over the corset she wore, coat held closed just beneath her SOLDIER belt by a single buckle. What surprised him the most, however, was her hair, and then her eyes. While he’d expected her eyes to glow like Genesis and Angeal’s he hadn’t expected their shape, not the colour of her hair. It was...different. Somehow it seemed to make her even more imposing.

And then she started down the ramp the hull gate had formed, A company trailing after her in neat lines and neater posture. A flash went off to the right, and Zack found his eyes going to the source the second after his hand was already on the handle of his blade—and then he was right back to saluting because, dammit, it had just been the photographer Shinra PR had sent over.

Sephiroth’s eyes had gone narrow, and she’d paused, seemingly glaring the photographer into submission. After a few seconds the man scuttled away.

When she finally got to them Zack found his mouth had gone dry.

The salute she gave was quick, almost violent, and perfectly executed. “At ease,” she said, and Zack had to bite his tongue. He stood at parade rest along with the rest of the army, while Genesis and Angeal took up less rigid stances.

“Sephiroth.”

“Genesis.”

Zack managed not to grin at the animosity he could here between the two as they greeted each other.

Angeal extended a hand. “Good to finally have you here, Sephiroth.”

From the corner of his eye Zack could see Sephiroth stare at Angeal’s hand for a second before jolting a little and reaching forward to shake it. He wondered if she’d slept at all on the flight over. “I’m glad to be here.”

They dropped their hands and Angeal turned to Zack. “This is my protégé, Colonel Zack Fair.”

Sephiroth finally stepped into his line of sight and Zack swallowed thickly. He went to snap a salute but she raised a hand and shook her head. “You’re not at ease, Colonel.”

“Apologies, Ma’am,” he said, grinning and animating himself like a doll come to life, his parade rest shattering. “Would you prefer a handshake?”

“No,” she said blandly, throwing Zack a little. “Angeal tells me you’re the head of your own squad of regular Infantry.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he replied, thinking he was doing rather well to control his voice when those eyes were string him down.

“Do you believe you handle them well?” She tilted her head slightly, blinking those strange eyes at him slowly. Her eyelashes were long enough to brush against her cheeks as she did.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Good. Consider this a field promotion, then, Brigadier General. Meet me in the command tent in an hour. I’ll send someone for you.” Without so much as a handshake or a smile, she turned back to Angeal and Genesis. “One of you show me where the Command Tent is.”

Angeal volunteered, and Sephiroth was lead away towards the base proper, leaving Zack with Genesis. He looked over to the other with wide eyes, ignoring the calls for the rest of the Infantry display to stand at ease and then dispatch. “Did she just...”

Genesis’ eyebrows rose and he chuckled. “Oh yes. You haven’t met her before, have you?”

Zack couldn’t exactly respond because he was still trying to process the fact that he was a General. “What just happened?”

The other man looked mournful. “I know, it’s tragic, isn’t it? Her kind of blunt nature is the sort poets have nightmares about.”
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