Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Word count: 1690
Prompt: xeno - they're down a couple dozen mugs and lamps before Zack gets used to his wingspan
A/N: Right, so this is mostly a sequel to this fic. Ended up being more of a Zack/Cloud pre Seph/Zack/Cloud unforrtunately - I blame school for not giving me the time to do a better job. (Sorry!)
Summary: The weirdest thing is how it isn't really as weird as it should be.
Cloud wondered sometimes if his life was weird.
“Hey babe,” Zack said as he drew up, his body throwing a shadow across the table that would have sent Cloud running for the hills not even a week ago. “This seat taken?”
Cloud waved absently, not looking up from his lunch. “Go ahead. And stop calling me that.”
He could hear the grin in Zack’s voice. “Aw, don’t be like that. It’s not like there’s anyone sitting close enough to hear.” One of his wings brushed Cloud’s mug as he moved past and only a quick lunge on Cloud’s part kept it from skidding right off table. “Good catch.”
“Too much practice,” Cloud muttered, setting the mug carefully back on the table. Zack settled himself with a rustle of tough leather, practically radiating amusement, and Cloud rolled his eyes as he looked over at him. “And just because half of the army is in rehab for mako poisoning it doesn’t give you the right to, to… why aren’t you wearing a shirt?”
Zack’s grin widened. “New uniform policy,” he said cheekily.
“Um…” Cloud was having trouble pulling his eyes away from Zack’s naked chest. “Uniform policies usually involve clothes.”
“Hey, at least I’m wearing pants.”
Cloud gave him a look. “Zack.”
Zack chuckled. “Apparently it’d cost too much to make custom shirts for all the different mutations going on so the SOLDIERs get to go without,” he explained. He shrugged with a wry grin. “Guess they figured that what works for Seph oughta work for the rest of us too. So?” He batted his eyes at Cloud, the straps of his sword harness pulling tight across his chest as he propped his chin in one clawed hand. “Whaddaya think? Is it me?”
“An awful lot of you,” Cloud answered without thinking, only dimly aware that he was staring. And it shouldn’t have been that fascinating, not when Sephiroth really did dress nearly the same way, but there was something different about it when he knew just how those firm muscles would feel if he reached out to touch, the warm shock of Zack’s skin tingling against his fingers as he dragged them across that carefully leashed in strength.
Zack’s head cocked, eyes dancing with fond amusement. “Enjoying the view?” he asked.
Cloud jerked his gaze away in a hurry, cheeks prickling. “It’s um, different,” he said inanely, and if Zack was laughing at him at least he didn’t mean it unkindly. Cloud turned his eyes down to his half-finished meal with a poor attempt at nonchalance. “H-how long do they think it will be before they come up with a new uniform?”
“No idea,” Zack said. His grin slanted into a leer, wings fanning wide as he gave an overdone stretch. “Can’t say I mind though – not when you make such good faces when you forget we’re in public.”
“Stop that,” Cloud ordered, flicking his eyes away from the sinuous curl of Zack’s wings before he really did make a fool of himself.
Zack plastered on an expression of overdone innocence. “Why? Is Seph making disapproving faces at my back?”
“No,” Cloud admitted, a smile tugging at his mouth despite his best intentions otherwise. “But he’s not going to be impressed if your wings take out a passing trooper while you’re showing off.”
“Geez. Knock over one lamp and suddenly everyone thinks you’re a menace.”
“You are a menace,” Cloud reminded, grinning openly at Zack’s hangdog expression. He gestured at Zack’s wings. “Only now you’ve got extra appendages that do a better job of it than usual.”
“Turncoat,” Zack sniffed, the picture of mortally offended woe. “I’m managing just fine with wings, I’ll have you know.”
“Zack, you’ve been banned from the General’s office because you knock something over every time you walk in the –“ Cloud stiffened, glancing past Zack at the empty doorway. “What in Shiva’s name is that?”
“Huh?” Zack twisted to look and his wings swept across the breadth of the table in a wide furl that sent Cloud’s lunch flying, the tray sailing a good forty feet before crashing into the opposite wall with a noisy clatter. Zack’s shoulders hunched, good-humoured chagrin etched in every line of his body. “Wow, did I walk into that one.”
Told you so, Cloud wanted to say, only his mental capacities were mostly focused on the sharp, ridged hollows where Zack’s wings met his shoulderblades, the purple-veined skin thick and mottled where it shifted to accommodate leathery black in a way that almost, almost looked natural.
And this was probably where Cloud was supposed to wonder if he was weird, because he couldn’t help but think it looked really hot.
“Sneaky bastard,” Zack accused, nothing but fondness in the tone. He drew his wings in with exaggerated care as he turned back to the table, eyes going wide as he got a good look at Cloud’s face before Cloud could wrestle his expression into something a little less obvious than stark, naked hunger.
“Tell me,” Zack murmured after a moment, eyes hot as they bored into Cloud’s face. “That you don’t have patrol right now.”
Cloud froze, suddenly short on oxygen, and Zack half-started out of his chair, hand reaching out as though he was about to toss Cloud over one shoulder and run off with him. Cloud couldn’t really say he minded.
“Unfortunately,” a smooth, terribly cultured voice interjected, and Cloud went red from neck to hairline as he realized that Sephiroth was standing just beyond Zack, silky wings neatly furled against his bare back – his long coat was nowhere to be seen – and slim tail swishing lightly. Cloud wondered how long he’d been standing there. “You both have other obligations to attend to first.”
Zack grimaced ruefully. “Way to spoil my fun boss man,” he said, tilting his head back with a fond grin. “You find him?”
Sephiroth nodded shortly. “The transport leaves in two hours.”
“Bout time. Where we headed?” Zack asked and Sephiroth’s eyes flicked briefly towards Cloud, hesitating.
Cloud started out of his seat. “I can go,” he offered, but Sephiroth waved him down with a hand.
“No need. He’s in Nibelheim,” he said to Zack, attention cutting back to Cloud long enough to give him a look that Cloud almost thought was an apology. “Apparently he has a secondary laboratory there.”
“Shouldn’t be surprised I guess.” Zack lifted one hand negligently. “You think he can reverse all this?” he asked, wiggling his clawed fingers.
Sephiroth’s expression hardened. “He’d better hope so.”
“Uh oh, here comes the unhappy Seph face,” Zack joked. “Better take cover.”
“…I am not sure I will ever determine what joy it is that you receive from providing such inane commentary.”
Cloud’s chair scraped across the floor as he stood. “I’d better go get ready for patrol,” he said, plastering on a smile that didn’t really fit right. He looked at Zack. “I’ll see you when you get back?”
“Sooner than that,” Zack tilted his head at him with a grin. “You’re coming too.”
It took Cloud a second to decide he’d heard that right. “Huh?” he demanded.
Sephiroth was giving Zack a narrow look. “I seem to recall you declaring that you were going to inform Strife.”
“And I just did,” Zack said smugly. “Think of it as a final screening for the SOLDIER program,” he added to Cloud. He thought about that for a moment. “Provided you’re willing to risk ending up with a few more mutations if Hojo doesn’t cough up a solution to the problem, of course.”
“But… I failed the psych test.”
Zack reached out with a fond hand to ruffle Cloud’s hair. “Babe, how many Regulars do you see in here right now?” His fingers brushed gently over Cloud’s horn and Cloud shivered. Zack smiled. “I’d say your psyche is just fine.”
“Indeed,” Sephiroth echoed gravely, and Cloud wasn’t quite sure what to make of the expression on the man’s face; approving, proud and cautiously fond. It made Zack grin, his wings fanning lightly as he hooked his other hand around Sephiroth’s nape, pads of his fingers pressing against corded muscle.
“Oh,” Cloud said distractedly, breath stuttering when Sephiroth leaned back ever so slightly into the massage, his tail curling tightly around his leg. “That’s good.”
Zack eyed him thoughtfully, thumb rubbing slow circles against Cloud’s horn. Cloud was torn between purring and wishing he’d never told Zack how sensitive the damn thing was. “When are we leaving again, Seph?” he asked over his shoulder.
Zack’s hand migrated down the side of Cloud’s face. “So we don’t really need to get ready for a little while yet, right?”
Sephiroth didn’t quite sigh. “Zack. This is kind of important.”
Zack glanced at him with a grin that was two parts cheeky and one part warm invitation. “You can come supervise,” he suggested, waggling his eyebrows.
“Zack!” Cloud exclaimed, mortified, hardly able to believe that Zack was suggesting a quickie to the General.
“There are other matters to consider right now Zack,” Sephiroth said at the same time.
“And if there weren’t?” Zack persisted.
A slender eyebrow arched. “I’ll expect you both in my office at 1200 hours,” Sephiroth said. He paused briefly and Cloud nearly collapsed at the faint, secretive smile that crossed his lips next.
“And as for your… offer, I suppose you’ll just have to ask again later and find out.”
With that Sephiroth turned on his heel and strode out, the few pairs of eyes in the room following his departure.
“Shiva’s skivvies,” Zack declared succinctly.
“Uh…” Cloud said. “Did he just…?”
The grin Zack gave him was practically incandescent. “Certainly sounded like it. Now come on,” his hands closed carefully around Cloud’s hips and slung him over one shoulder. “We’ve got less than an hour before we need to be ready.”
“Put me down,” Cloud protested, though his ire was half-hearted at best. Zack just chuckled at him and took off, nearly catching his wings in the door as he went.
If this was what it was like to have a weird life, Cloud couldn’t imagine why anyone would want a normal one.