Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Characters: Zack, Cloud
Word count: 1310
Warnings: not really (prelude to canon angst?)
Prompt: Zack/Cloud, first time
A/N: So I told these two quite firmly that they weren't getting anything for this comm since they got so much writing from me the rest of the time. So they tackle-ambushed me with this. *sigh*
The first time it happened, Zack figured he had to be dreaming.
“There we go,” he declared, sitting back on his heels to admire his handiwork. The wind whistled through the gap between door and wall, chill fingers battering against the sides of their makeshift bunker. The lashes on the door creaked warningly under the pressure, though they held firm. Zack flashed a confident grin over his shoulder. “What did I tell you? Nice and cozy.”
Cloud didn’t answer, swaddled so tight and still in the emergency blanket Zack had stolen from the lab’s medkit that Zack could almost believe he was actually sleeping. Yet Cloud’s eyes glittered blankly in the light from the lantern, wide and unseeing as Zack abandoned the door and crawled over to his side.
Cloud didn’t so much as twitch as Zack tugged free a corner of the blanket and slid underneath but Zack was starting to get used to that. At least Cloud was mostly able to walk when Zack pointed his feet in the right directio and Zack had had plenty of practice babbling at the unresponsive not to let the unnatural silence bother him too much. He felt sure he’d get an answer one of these days, even if only to shut him up. Hells, it had worked on Sephiroth, hadn’t it? Cloud didn’t stand a chance.
And he so wasn’t going to think about Sephiroth right now.
“Whew,” he sighed instead, snuggling closer and feeling the heat of Cloud’s blanket-warmed skin tingle pleasantly against his bare arms. “I’d say we got those walls up just in time – that storm sounds like it’s planning to devour a small village or three.”
It was howling around them in earnest now, shuddering against their tiny lean-to as if to blow it clear over Nibel mountain. Zack shook his head ruefully. “And to think it was perfectly clear not even two hours ago.” He tried a crooked smile on for size, and was relieved when it didn’t fit too badly. “You really weren’t kidding about the weather round here, were you Spike? Makes Gongaga look like Costa del Sol.”
I warned you, he could almost hear Cloud say, complete with the exasperated eye-roll he always did when he thought Zack was being ridiculous. Maybe if you’d listened better, we wouldn’t be stuck in the middle of the forest during a snow storm.
“At least my survival skills haven’t got any rustier than the rest of me,” Zack pointed out, gamely keeping up his side of their non-existent conversation. He looked around his hurriedly constructed shelter with a satisfied nod. “We’ll be safe and toasty in here, just you see.”
Cue the eye roll again. Yeah, right up until we have to dig ourselves out with our bare hands after the snow stops.
There wasn’t much he could say to that so Zack let silence fall around them, watching shadows dance along the walls and listening to the furious clamour of the storm outside. He felt almost pleasantly exhausted, his mind warm and fuzzy in the flickering light and the warmth of a shared blanket, but Zack doubted he’d be getting to sleep any time soon. He was too keyed up to relax, his nerves jangling restlessly at every creak and shudder and leaving him practically thrumming with the helpless urgency that had been driving him for the last fortnight.
Not that he’d seen any signs of pursuit yet – Shiva thank whatever deity watched over soldiers and fools – but his mind seemed more than willing to conjure up all sorts of nightmarish images of white-coated scientists and blue-suited Turks ranging through the mountains after them, armed to the teeth and intent on dragging them back. Zack didn’t plan on giving up without one hell of a fight, thank you very much, but Cloud could only go so fast and the crazy weather wasn’t making it any easier to get the both of them out of the mountains and somewhere safer sometime before next year’s spring thaw.
Zack just hoped the damned snow was proving to be just as much of a pain for their would-be pursuers as it was for him and Cloud.
“Bet you 10 gil we’ve got at least six feet of snow to tromp through in the morning,” he said aloud, his jovial tone only slightly lonely in the flickering light. The Cloud-voice in his head muttered something appropriately unenthusiastic and Zack shrugged. “Eh, the exercise’ll be good for both of us. And you always promised me a snowball fight if we were ever on assignment round here in the winter, remember? Probably not the best idea right now,” he conceded, before not-Cloud could protest. “Though Ramuh knows that’s never stopped us before.”
A moment of silence, then he nudged Cloud playfully in the ribs, being careful not to overbalance the both of them. “Hey, maybe we could team up against the goons from Nibelheim, whaddaya say? Not as good as one-on-one I know, but there’ll be plenty of time for that after we get back to Midgar. And those bastards deserve a few snowballs in the face anyway.”
Cloud made a noise just then, a strangled sort of almost whimper somewhere between a sigh and a groan, and Zack nearly bit his tongue his mouth snapped shut so fast.
“Cloud?” he hazarded, hardly daring to breathe.
Cloud was silent, chin slumped low over his chest and face shadowed by the long fall of his bangs. He didn’t so much as stir.
Zack wondered if he was starting to lose it. “Hey,” he murmured, cupping Cloud’s chin in one hand and tilting gently up. “Everything okay?”
Cloud didn’t answer but Zack couldn’t bring himself to care, too busy trying to pick his jaw up from the floor at the sight of tears spilling sad and silent down Cloud’s face, his cheeks shining wetly in the lamplight.
Zack’s breath sucked in sharply. “Cloud…”
Cloud’s face was still blank, no flicker of awareness ghosting behind his mako-bright eyes but Zack knew he was in there somewhere, felt it with more than just the determined hope he’d been feeding himself since Cloud had stopped talking back while they were still in the mako tubes. And it wasn’t like Cloud to give up, Zack thought, with a sharp stab of pride. Not when he knew Zack was counting on him.
Zack didn’t even bother trying to stifle the wide, goofy grin on his face. Cloud was going to be fine. He just needed some more time, that was all.
Tears were still falling, soaking into the heavy weave of Cloud’s shirt, and Zack belatedly realized he ought to be doing something about that.
“Hey,” he soothed, smoothing the tears off Cloud’s cheeks with a gentle thumb. His smile was soft, fond. “Don’t get all self-conscious on me now. Who else is gonna watch my back against snowball wielding mad scientists if you don’t help me out?”
You’re insane, Cloud’s glassy expression seemed to say, disbelieving and guardedly hopeful all at once. What sort of scientist is going to come after you with a snowball?
“Hey, we’re in the Nibel mountains,” Zack reminded him, sinking back down under the blanket and hooking an affectionate arm around Cloud’s shoulders. “Gotta fit in with the locals.”
Sure Zack, Cloud would have said, long suffering and fond. Whatever you say.
It wasn’t much to go on, Zack knew, but he didn’t doubt for a moment that they were going to make it through this. He chuckled suddenly, feeling almost like himself as he huddled closer to Cloud in their cozy little hidey-hole and let the steady rhythm of Cloud’s breathing lull him to sleep. And if he chose to believe there was something behind the way Cloud’s head lolled immediately onto his shoulder as he settled them both in for the night, well, everyone had to dream sometimes.
~And if you're like me, you can just pretend the canon never happened and take this as a happy ending. ^__^