This is not actually what I meant to be working on next, but strayvalkyrie sent me a comment about the first part that got me really keen on picking it up again. So you can blame her. :P Don't know when I'll be getting the next part out, but hopefully it will be much faster than the turnaround for this chapter was.
On with the fic!
Title: Wild Ones chapter 2
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII AU
Rating: PG this section for boykissing
Summary: Irrevocably tied and holding nothing back, two men search the world for what's been lost. This is but a small part of their story.
The next morning dawned crisp and chill, faint threads of light piercing the heavy clouds overhead. Wisps of pale fog curled in through the still-open bedroom window, twining with the quiet twists of smoke rising from the low-burnt candles.
Cloud awoke feeling considerably better than he had the night before, the dragging fatigue of the past few days faded to a dull, weary buzz at the back of his head. He shifted comfortably in the cradle of Zack’s arms, enjoying the double luxury of a real bed and the warm, solid line of Zack’s body beside him.
The inn was quieter this morning Cloud noticed, hearing the easy creak of settling wood loud in the stillness. The faintest shuffle clink of breakfast dishes ghosted up from the common room below, grudgingly spiced with the groggy fatigue of men up far too early in the morning to care about much of anything, but the restless bustle of the previous night was gone.
Cloud was glad of the change. It had been… difficult last night, his own exhaustion and the thoughtless press of far too many minds nagging at him until he’d thought his head was going to explode. Worse was that it had made Zack worry about him and Cloud hated that. He knew Zack would have avoided the whole mess if he could, Noe and Katako be damned, but long years of experience had made it clear that there was no changing what Cloud was. And he was getting tired of running away from himself.
"Mmm," Zack yawned suddenly against Cloud's neck, snuggling in close. "S’it morning already?”
“I’m afraid so,” Cloud agreed and chuckled when Zack groaned. He tilted his head back to blink up at Zack. “You going to get up or do I have to drag you out?”
Zack mumbled something unintelligible and burrowed deeper into the covers.
"Stop that," Cloud admonished. "I know you're awake."
"Nope," Zack said into the crook of Cloud's neck. His arms tightened stubbornly around Cloud's waist. "Comfy."
Cloud rolled his eyes where Zack couldn't see him. "Come on, Zack. We need to get up."
He could hear the sly smile in Zack's voice. “Nope. Guess you're just going to have to convince me.”
“No,” Cloud answered immediately though he didn’t resist as Zack’s hands shifted him until he was sprawled across Zack’s lap, Zack's arms looped comfortably around his waist.
Zack grinned up at him, gray eyes hot and hungry. “You sure?” he asked, the morning-rough purr of his voice making Cloud's stomach do funny things inside him.
So he smiled and leaned in close. “Maybe I need some convincing?” he suggested, and hummed softly when Zack took him at his word, warm, wet mouth slanting against Cloud’s in a lazy good-morning kiss.
Cloud’s fingers threaded in the hopeless tangle of Zack’s hair and he squirmed closer, chest to chest with every breath. He whimpered into Zack's mouth and Zack shuddered, growling low in his throat as his hands tightened possessively on Cloud’s hips, hard enough to bruise a normal person.
Luckily, Cloud wasn't anything even close to normal anymore.
They stayed like that for several minutes, the soft whisper of their mouths the only sound in the quiet room. It was Cloud who finally drew back, chest heaving and body complaining loudly at the sudden lack of kisses.
“Zack,” he murmured, sighing slightly as Zack’s calloused hands slid down to cup his ass. “Come on, Zack, that’s enough. We need to get up.”
Zack blinked up at him, his expression rueful. “You sure I can’t convince you to stay here a little longer?”
“I think you’ve done enough convincing already,” Cloud said tartly, though he was smiling as he said it. He whacked Zack lightly on the shoulder. “Now let me up.”
Zack chuckled good-naturedly, his calloused hands holding Cloud steady as he climbed off the bed. “Anything scary waiting for us downstairs?” Zack asked, levering himself to an upright position while Cloud started hunting for his clothes.
"I don't know about monsters, but if you’re worried about the hoards of admiring village folk, it looks like they haven’t come back yet.”
“Good to know.” The bed creaked as Zack stood, careless of his nudity as he headed over to the washbasin. “You coming with me today?” he asked over one shoulder.
“Depends. Where are you going?” Cloud asked, tugging his breeches free from where they lay half-hidden under Zack’s heavy mail vest.
“To see the secret keeper. If anyone can tell us anything useful, it’ll be him.”
Cloud hmmed thoughtfully. “You know where to find him?”
“Yeah.” Water splashed for a moment and Zack grinned over at him through wet bangs. “One of my new friends told me where to find his carekeeper.”
“Oh,” Cloud said. “That's good.” He frowned absently. “Have you seen my shirt?”
“Next to the bed. So?” Zack turned with a battered-looking comb in one hand and a hopeful smile on his face. “You coming?”
Cloud pulled on his mostly-clean shirt, making a mental note to do some washing before they left town. “I don't think so,” he decided, smoothing the collar down. “I’ll only get in your way.” He shrugged philosophically. “And we ought to stock up on supplies while we’re near a marketplace anyway.”
Zack gave him a look for that, exasperated, fond and gently worried all at once. “You sure?” he asked, the complete lack of judgment or pity in his tone the only thing that kept Cloud from balking at the concern. “You’re going to be pretty conspicuous on the streets – especially with a stylish hairdo like that,” he added, eyes flicking teasingly over blond spikes that Cloud knew had to be even crazier than normal after their… activities last night.
Cloud was not blushing. He wasn’t. “I’ll be fine,” he said firmly. He slanted an arch look of his own at Zack. “Are you quite done with my comb?”
“Aw,” Zack pouted. “You’re not going to leave it like that?” He leered campily, waggling his eyebrows for emphasis. “You look sexy when you’re well-tumbled.”
“ZACK!” Cloud protested, cheeks flaming in earnest now, and Zack laughed, eyes lighting up in the way that suggested he thought he’d got the better of Cloud yet again.
So Cloud threw Zack’s shirt at him, unsurprised when the man caught it easily. “Get dressed,” he ordered his impossible lover, stalking over to snatch the comb out of Zack’s hand. “We’ve got work to do.”
“The world will still be there after the sun comes up,” Zack countered amiably, shrugging gracefully into his shirt. He reached over and ruffled a fond hand through Cloud’s hair, completely ruining Cloud’s attempts to tame the erratic tangle. “Although I seem to recall you owe me a breakfast, so I suppose we’d better get down there before they stop serving it.”
Which in Zack-speak meant that Cloud had better eat an entire meal this morning or Zack would know the reason why.
“Just don’t try feeding me yours again,” Cloud warned, stepping out of the reach of Zack’s scrubbing hands so he could tend to his hair in peace. “Or you’re going to be wearing it. You need to eat too.”
Zack sighed dramatically. “Slave driver,” he accused, pulling on his boots and reaching down to tie the laces. “How am I supposed to fuss over you when you’re so stubborn?”
Cloud waved an idle hand. “You’ll figure out a way,” he dismissed, reaching for his own boots. You always do, he added to himself, glad that reading minds wasn't one of Zack's skills. The man would be even more completely insufferable otherwise.
"Your faith in me is breathtaking." Zack pulled on his cloak with a deliberately dramatic little flourish, then graciously bent down to fasten Cloud’s for him as well. Warm hands lingered meaningfully at Cloud's nape, teasing and light, and Cloud couldn’t help laughing.
“Zack!” he protested. “Stop that!”
Zack snorted, slyly amused. “Nope. You’re going to have to convince me.”
Cloud rolled his eyes, batting at Zack’s hands. “I don’t think so.”
A regretful sigh answered him. “Spoilsport.” Zack stepped back and gave Cloud a quick once-over. “You sure you’re good to go out by yourself?” he asked again, carefully neutral.
“I’ll be fine,” Cloud repeated, not taking it personally when Zack sighed, a muttered ‘stubborn twit’ whispering past his lips. “And I’m not completely incapable of interacting with normal humans, O Supportive One,” he added, reaching for his sword. “I’m just not as good at it as you are.”
“Sure, sure,” Zack grinned. “Whatever you say.” He swaggered over to the other bed to collect his own blade, catching Cloud’s mouth in another quick kiss as they headed for the door. “Just don’t blame me when the whole village tackles you for a group hug and I’m not there to run interference.”
Cloud shook his head. “You are so weird sometimes.”
An infectious grin. “I know. It’s all part of my charm.”
Which, Cloud knew from experience, was entirely true.
They stopped for a quick breakfast in the common room, where Cloud managed to eat enough to keep Zack from giving him too many forlorn puppy-dog looks over the scant remains of his own plate. Then it was out onto the road where Cloud did his best to ignore the curious heads that swiveled their way, the cloyingly sweet pressure of polite curiosity making his teeth clench.
Zack shot him a worried look which Cloud rewarded with a warning glare. Zack chuckled in rueful surrender. “Okay, okay. I get the hint. Just don't overdo it, hey?” He turned to go, one hand raising in a jaunty wave. “Good luck.”
“You too,” Cloud answered and watched as Zack struck out across the road, hair swinging in time. Most of the rest of the street watched too. Far too used to it to take exception to the people staring at his lover's ass, Cloud squared his shoulders and headed off in the opposite direction.
Most of the fog had burned off with the sunrise, leaving only a sharp, lingering chill on the autumn air. Cloud wandered leisurely through the busy streets, his cheeks pinking from the cold and his attention shifting curiously over the unfamiliar façades and drab buildings of yet another new place.
The village was alive with the sounds of daytime; vendors crying wares and children shrieking with laughter as horses’ hooves thudded in the dirt and carts rattled noisily across the streets. Cloud could feel the weight of eyes on him as he walked, his fair hair and light eyes starkly out of place in a village full of dark haired, brown eyed people.
Cloud wasn’t particularly bothered by the attention. It happened most everywhere they went these days – not many people lived in the cold northern regions Cloud came from, and even fewer tended to leave, so he was something of an oddity in most of the places they went. He’d long grown used to the scrutiny, although it was easier to bear now that he was rested and well-fed for the first time in a fortnight. He was just glad he didn’t suffer from appeal the way Zack did or he’d probably still be hiding under his bed in Krymal even after all these years. And it would have killed him to have Zack leave him behind a second time.
The market was relatively easy to find, the hodgepodge design of the village not entirely dissimilar from dozens they had visited in all corners of the world. Cloud idled a while among the stalls and shop fronts, speaking quietly with the shop owners and letting the bustle of sound and speech wash harmlessly around him. The mountain air was sharp and cold, the heady scent of pine and loam so familiar that Cloud could almost imagine his mother rounding the corner ahead with a basket of vegetables on her arm, chiding him for lagging behind.
Mountain villages often reminded him of ho-… the place he’d been born, though more often for the general feel of them than out of any real similarities. Nibelheim had always been an odd place, isolated and richly shrouded in ancient magics that fewer understood with each passing year, stranger than almost any other place on earth.
This village was even more unlike his former home than most thanks to the close ties it had to the caravan trade. Cloud could see its westernizing influence in the swirls of brightly coloured scarves amidst dun coloured robes, the heady tang of exotic spices curling through the air. The lack of strong magics was another unsurprising difference – few small towns could afford the types of spells Nibelheim had hoarded – though Cloud was somewhat startled to see just how poorly kept most of this village’s protectives were. He paused curiously outside the smithy, eyeing the feeble flicker of the fire sigil above the forge as it struggled to keep the fires hot. He was surprised they could even shoe their horses using such a worn-out spell.
The wards on most of the homes were practically useless as well, he noticed, offering next to no protection from storm or foe. Cloud could feel the chill seeping from beneath closed doors even though those houses should have been warm inside.
They were a sign of trouble and neglect, these faded spells, and Cloud frowned as he tried to remember the last time he had seen a mage traveling anywhere along the roads. Some months at least, though exactly how long he wasn’t quite sure. His sense of time had been more than a little muddled ever since it happened, but this kind of decay made it clear that this village hadn’t had its spells renewed in at least three seasons, if not longer.
Cloud sighed, troubled. What was the world coming to when even mages were afraid to travel abroad anymore?
He finished his shopping well before noon but didn’t return immediately to the inn. He was in no real hurry to stare at the walls until Zack returned, and it could be hours yet before then. Sword drills were always an option for relieving boredom, he supposed, but the lingering edge of fatigue dragging at him made that idea seem unappealing to the extreme. And doing laundry was only worth the effort if he could torment Zack into helping him with it.
So he loitered instead, stopping at the leather worker’s shop to take a closer look at a pair of finely worked leather gloves.
“Genuine Galean leather those are,” the gruff shop master told him, unfolding himself from a low chair to amble closer. “You can try them on if you like.”
“That’s alr-” Cloud started, then stiffened, frozen with the sudden sharp certainty that he was being watched. And not in the idly curious, mostly amiable way half the street had been staring at him either.
The proprietor of the shop blinked at the suddenly blank look Cloud was sure had just shuttered across his face. “Friend traveler?” the man asked. “Is everything alright?”
Cloud didn’t answer right away, busy scouring through the tumble of thoughts and wishes and words swirling around him, looking for the source of that unwanted attention. His eyes flicked rapidly around the square in time with the furtive sweep of his mind, the world a wash of grays and blues and greens. The familiar tingle of unfamiliar minds skittered painfully across his nerves but Cloud ignored it, gritting his teeth and pushing deeper.
And then his senses sharpened all at once, half-snatches of heat and confusion tumbling abruptly into place and making him whirl instinctively around. There.
‘There’ was the military guardhouse next to the now-open village gate; a small, well-fortified little hollow built tightly against the massive stone foundations of the wall. A man in uniform was lounging just outside the door with his legs propped up on a low desk, a sheathed sword hanging comfortably from his heavy belt. His dark eyes were fixed intently on Cloud.
When he saw Cloud looking back the man grinned, a leering, suggestive sort of expression that made Cloud roll his eyes and turn deliberately back to the thoroughly confused shopkeeper. The weight of those eyes didn’t leave him, but Cloud was able to ignore it better now that he knew what they wanted of him.
He probably ought to have expected that. His colouring occasionally attracted that kind of attention too, even though Zack always claimed it was because Cloud was ‘too damn pretty for his own good.’ Which was patently ridiculous coming from someone as damnably attractive as Zack, but Zack had a talent for taking the ridiculous and making it sound plausible so Cloud had mostly given up trying to argue.
And it wasn’t as though anything would come of the man’s staring, anyway. Not when Cloud had five feet of solid steel on his back and a lover who would no doubt be more than happy to demonstrate how entirely unavailable Cloud was at the present time. And for all of the foreseeable future. And a good portion of the unforeseeable future since Zack was optimistic like that.
So Cloud decided to take a last quick look around the leather worker’s shop and then wander somewhere else that wasn’t quite so close to the gate and its overly bold guardsman. No sense inviting trouble after all, not when he and Zack usually managed to attract it well enough without half trying.
“Sorry I can’t be more of a help to you, Friend Zack,” Mara said at the door and Zack paused to flash her an understanding smile over his shoulder.
“On the contrary, Friend Mara. You’ve been a great help.” He gave her a friendly wink. “Thanks again for the tea.”
She waved a desultory hand. “Hardly worth the mention,” she declared, though her cheeks flushed just the same. Her dark eyes were kind as they looked at him. “Fare you well.”
“And you,” Zack answering, ambling with practiced nonchalance down the steps. The door closed neatly behind him and Zack struck out blindly onto the first street he came to, in no real hurry to get much of anywhere until he’d had some time to think.
This was not good.
Zack let his feet carry him in the general direction of the main square, a dozen thoughts and worries all vying for space at the front of his head. This was very not good. Not that he'd really been expecting good news - he might be a fool but he liked to think he wasn't that much of a fool - but it hadn't been the bad news he'd been expecting to hear.
“Looks like we’ve got a decision to make,” he muttered aloud, not relishing the idea in the slightest. His common sense was yelling at him to grab Cloud by the scruff of the neck and get out of this village as fast as he could, while his optimistic side was clinging to his sleeve like a child with a hopeful 'maybe this time' that Zack was very glad Cloud had never learned how to do.
This village was not safe. But Zack would never forgive himself if they missed something important by running.
And even if the years they'd spent on the road had taught him how to run, it didn't mean he liked doing it.
He was just coming to the realization that he'd gotten himself lost when a sudden flash of blond made him veer immediately to the right, a smile spreading unbidden across his face. Cloud was stood at one of the open-air stalls, eyes bright with interest as he the shop keeper chatted at him about the leather jerkin he was examining.
Zack hadn’t made it more than halfway across the square when he saw Cloud’s head cock towards him, blue eyes fixing unerringly on him through the crowd. Which made Zack sigh and think wistfully of the days when sneaking up on Cloud just to see him jump had been a daily occurrence. Followed promptly by getting whacked on the shoulder by his irate lover, but hey, some things were just worth it. It had been a long, long time since he'd been able to indulge though.
The quietly radiant smile Cloud was wearing as he walked over went a long way towards making up for it though.
"Hey Spike," he greeted, hands in his pockets to resist the urge to ruffle hair. "How went the battle?"
Cloud hefted a bulky cloth bag in one hand. “All finished." He mostly grinned at Zack over his raised arm. "As long as we’re not planning on walking all the way to Trevalle we should be fine. You?”
“Oh, pretty well,” Zack said, making a passing attempt at casual. Blue eyes jerked abruptly to his face and Zack wasn't in the least surprised when Cloud's expression went instantly wary, his free hand sneaking up over his shoulder.
“Zack?” Cloud started. “What…”
A quick touch to the back of Cloud’s hand forestalled the rest of the question.
“Not here,” Zack muttered, the words all but inaudible amid the bustle of the market.
Cloud, of course, caught it effortlessly. He nodded shortly and dropped his hand, turned back towards the shopkeeper with an apologetic smile. “Thank you for your time,” he said politely.
"Yeah," Zack echoed, dropping a friendly arm around Cloud's shoulder as he smiled at the shop keeper. "We'll have to come back and take another look before we leave town."
He got a sharp look from Cloud for that but the shop keeper didn't appear to notice.
“I’ll look forward to your patronage, Friend Travelers,” the man said with a nod, and Zack gave him a cheery wave as he turned and all but dragged Cloud down the first likely looking street.
"Zack," Cloud hissed under his breath, a shadow of concern lingering at the edges of his eyes. "I'm not a plow cart."
"Sorry," Zack apologized, easing up on his grip without letting go entirely. He glanced curiously around him, hardly noticing the stares they were getting. "Hey, do you know which way the inn is?"
"I…left," Cloud told him, his long-suffering tone almost close enough to be convincing. "Then take another left past the schoolhouse." I expect an explanation when we get there, his expression said and Zack nodded minutely.
"Gotcha," he agreed and proceeded to ramble on about nothing in particular while they made their deliberately casual way back to the inn, past the avidly admiring porter and up the stairs towards their room.
“What’s wrong?” Cloud demanded as soon as the door shut. The supplies thunked carelessly onto the floor as his lover rounded on him, serious and concerned. “Didn't you find him?”
Zack rubbed a sheepish hand against his arm. "Well, yes and no. I found the house," he explained as Cloud gave him a look, "His carekeeper wasn't too keen on letting in a complete stranger, but I managed to change her mind eventually."
"No surprise there." A smile that was somewhere between wry and impressed softened the worry on Cloud's face. "Have you ever met anybody you couldn't charm?"
Yes, Zack nearly said, only bringing up the good doctor was a surefire way to ensure that everyone within 40 leagues was going to have a very bad day. He flashed a cocky grin instead. "You love me for it."
"Sure." Cloud rolled his eyes. "So what went wrong?"
Zack leaned back against the door and gave Cloud an even look. “He’s not here,” he admitted.
“What?” A confused expression flicked across Cloud’s face. “I thought secret keepers weren’t allowed to leave their villages?”
“They’re not, usually,” Zack agreed. A wry grin twisted his mouth. “But, as I have been recently informed, this village’s boundaries go quite a bit beyond the edge of the wall.”
“The trade route,” Cloud realized immediately, eyes wide as they stared at Zack. “He’s traveling with one of the caravans?”
“Exactly.” Zack made a face. “Problem is, Mara couldn’t tell me when the caravan’s due to pass through again. It’s already a fortnight late as is and information doesn't travel especially fast up in the mountains.”
Cloud cocked his head thoughtfully. “So what do we do?” he asked. Zack shrugged helplessly.
“Dunno. If we want to talk to him we’ll have to wait, but I don’t like the idea of hanging around a place that gives you such a thorough case of the creeps.”
“Can’t we ask someone else?”
“Oh absolutely,” Zack sighed. “But none of them are going to know as much about the goings on around here as the secret keeper would.” He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “I just don’t know how long we can risk waiting for the caravan if this threat of yours is as dangerous as all that.”
“Hmm,” Cloud mused. He glanced distractedly towards the window, his expression thoughtful.
Zack saw it the instant Cloud made his choice, saw blue eyes go blank and sightless between one breath and the next. Cloud’s whole body shuddered and went deathly still, his breath thinning in a way that had scared the daylights out of Zack the first time it had happened.
He was at Cloud's side in a moment, being careful not to touch and pull him out of the trance. Cloud didn't so much as twitch and Zack swore under his breath, putting his body between Cloud and the door and feeling like someone had a dagger trained between his shoulder blades. He hated letting Cloud do this. Not that anything short of a mountain and a hell of a lot of magic rope could stop Cloud when he was determined about something, but that wouldn’t be any sort of excuse if Zack let them both down now.
The minutes dragged on, Cloud's face growing more ashen with each shallow breath. Zack was on the verge of calling him back despite the risk - he'd rather deal with the backlash than let Cloud kill himself - when Cloud inhaled suddenly, eyes refocusing in a rush. Zack caught him as he swayed, mouth tightening at the heavy exhaustion scrawled across Cloud's face.
Not that Cloud paid him any mind. “The day after tomorrow,” he gasped, which made no sense whatsoever until he followed it up with, “That’s when the caravan should arrive.”
“You’re sure?” Zack asked reflexively, hands careful on Cloud’s waist as he all but dragged him over to the bed.
Cloud batted ineffectually at his hands. “I'm not an invalid Zack,” he protested, the weak objection going a long way to calming Zack’s erratic heartbeat. “And yes, I’m sure.”
“Good to know.” He settled Cloud carefully on the bed and perched on the edge to make sure his stubborn lover didn't try and get up again. He cocked his head at Cloud, panic-edged concern hidden neatly behind an easy calm that he'd had years to perfect. “So?" he asked. "Are we staying?”
“I don’t know.” Cloud worried his lip absently, caution and yearning warring for command of his face. “I could have been overreacting," he suggested, not sounding especially married to the idea himself.
Zack snorted fondly. "Which you never do. It’s more a question of whether we can outrun whatever it is that’s coming." His expression went pensive. "You get any better idea of what's wrong with this place?"
He got a restless shrug in response. "Besides the fact that their spells are so worn out you could flatten some of the houses with a feather? It seems like a normal village."
"Damn," Zack said without heat. "Too much to hope for I guess." He frowned, thoughtful. “Any idea of when on the day after tomorrow the caravan’s coming in?”
Cloud's eyes went briefly distant. “Probably early,” he answered, staring at things Zack couldn’t see. “It’s only about 40 leagues away, but the wagons will take a while to cover that kind of distance.” His face was pale as he turned towards Zack. “We need to find out of the secret keeper knows,” he said, almost a question and Zack nodded.
“It's why we're here,” he agreed. “So we’re staying then?”
Cloud nodded, pale but certain.
"Right then." Zack gave Cloud a stern look. "In that case, you're going to spend the next few hours in bed while I go downstairs and get us something to eat. And don't even think of arguing Cloud," he declared, forestalling Cloud's attempt to do just that. "You are not leaving this room until I say so."
"You worry too much," Cloud grumbled, and Zack ruffled a fond hand through his hair.
"No," he corrected. "You just don't worry enough. Tell you what-" He patted Cloud's thigh as he stood. "You rest for a couple of hours and then we'll go acquaint ourselves with the village."
"I already have," Cloud started, then his eyes narrowed. "You're plotting something. What are you up to?"
Zack grinned at him with an expression of overdone innocence. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about," he lied, chuckling at the extreme skepticism on Cloud's face. He paused as though a thought had just occurred to him. "Are all the spells in the village looking a little weak?"
Another shrug. "Pretty much."
"Including the smithy?"
Cloud raised an eyebrow. "You'd better not be suggesting what I think you're suggesting," he warned.
"Why not?" Zack countered. "I'll be back in a minute," he promised, turning towards the door. "You'd better be right there when I do or I'm going to tie you to the damn bed."
"Kinky," Cloud deadpanned, and Zack could hear the almost-smile in his voice as he added, "You'd better get going then if we want to make it back to the smithy's before they close for the day."
A warm, happy feeling unfurled in Zack's chest. "Sounds like a plan," he smiled, reaching for the doorknob. "You have a good nap."
"I'm not helping you ward the village if you screw this up!" Cloud called after him and Zack couldn't help a chuckle, portends of indeterminate doom be damned.
"Sure babe. Whatever you say."