Author: AlyssaFish PM
Denzel just wants to spend some quality time with his hero. Cloud never said he was a good parent. Some male bonding is had and everyone ends up getting wet.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Cloud S. - Words: 1,341 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 25 - Follows: 3 - Published: 04-10-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3486277
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Cloud turned, his round face drawn almost mournfully. Denzel looked up at him expectantly.
"All right, Denzel," Cloud said, fixing a tight grip on the carefully selected object he held before him. "This is your first time with a weapon like this, so we'll go slowly at first, so you don't hurt yourself."
At this, Denzel wrinkled his nose.
"I'm not gonna cut myself," he said.
"You'd be surprised," said Cloud. "It's pretty big and definitely sharp, so I want you to go slow. Then…then we'll see how you do and maybe…"
Cloud's voice trailed off as Denzel's shoulders drooped and his chin dipped. Cloud was torn. He mentally struggled with himself, his sensible, leader self that had popped up the hell out of nowhere in the past few years to say hi, that knew ten-year-old plus sharp metal object equated to disaster and possibly a very angry woman somewhere out to get him. Sensible leader knew from experience that sometimes it was just better to turn around and run, wallets were kept close when Yuffie was around and when Cid said you needed to stop for repairs you stopped and let him make the goddamn repairs. But even sensible leader stopped and cringed when faced with Denzel's sad eyes that the boy couldn't hide even when he lowered his head and his dark curly hair fell over them. Something deep down in his messed-up torrent of feelings made Cloud feel horrible when he looked down and saw Denzel's dirty sneakers shuffling awkwardly. He felt downright rotten.
Cloud chewed on a corner of his lip and every inch of him dug his heals in to resist the memories of the past few months as they reared their ugly heads.
"Cloud," Tifa had once said over the phone. "Do you have a minute? Denzel wants to say hi."
"You just told me he said…"
"No, he wants to say it himself."
Then there was coming home, tired and filthy from a long day on the road to find Denzel slumped over the kitchen table because he'd tried to stay awake waiting for someone. Someone like Cloud. He would wake up, of course, as soon as the door slammed and there would be that same look, that disappointment Cloud tried so hard to ignore, when the exhausted delivery boy just went to his own room to change and go to sleep because he was so tired and just didn't want to deal with the kind of energy that was required to handle the barrage of questions Denzel would ask about how his day went. The weather was bad, customers were hassling me, I stepped on some flowers and overall just had a pretty rotten day, thanks for asking.
All that, and then it had to go and get worse.
"Denzel was walking around today. He ate some breakfast at the table. I'd like to think he's getting better, but I've been watching him because he just keeps falling back even when I start thinking it'll be okay. The bruise, I think it's getting bigger and…you know, it'd be nice if you stopped by once and a while."
He'd left them all to worry and wonder by themselves in their warm, little bar, never stopping by to say hello like Tifa wanted, never answering the phone because he didn't want the kids to say hi, never showing how much he really, truly, absolutely cared except in the cold, hard checks he kept sending. Even then, after all that…
"We'll wait for you! We'll see you there, won't we, Cloud?"
Cloud leaned over and formally introduced Denzel to the object in his hand.
"This is the sponge we use for the shell," he said, giving it a little shake for emphasis. "It's sturdy enough to get the grime off if you scrub hard enough but it won't scratch the paint. This is important."
"This sponge," Denzel repeated religiously, eyes swiveling from the sponge to Fenrir, innocently parked where it could shine in all its filthy, mud-caked glory. "Paint. This sponge only."
"Good," Cloud handed it over and Denzel took it eagerly, then dunked the sponge into a pail big enough to hold about five of Jenova's heads, plunging both arms up to his elbows in the soapy water and brought the sponge back up, heavy and dripping. Cloud took another sponge and they both approached the monstrous motorcycle.
"What do I do, Cloud?" Denzel asked excitedly, not even noticing the suds dripping on his sneakers.
"Well…" Cloud stopped. He looked at Denzel, then at Fenrir. He was going to say something sensible again, something about Denzel being only ye high and as Fenrir being higher, Denzel would hurt himself trying to reach for some high spot that he shouldn't. Then it occurred to him that if he, Cloud, was one who played it safe he wouldn't have gotten so emotionally attached to a motorcycle that had its own customized sword-holder. "Just find the dirtiest spot you can and get going. We need to clean the whole thing, so I guess it doesn't matter where you start…but not the tires, yet, there's a different brush for that."
Giving a nod of approval, Cloud watched Denzel head for his motorcycle like he was going into battle. Any illusions he had about either of them getting out of this with even an inch of them dry had vanished by the afternoon. Cloud had gotten soap all down his front and Denzel's old sneakers squished whenever he took a step, and that was before they had even gotten the hose out yet. Miles of mud and dust from all over the Planet were scrubbed from Fenrir's black metal shell and then the tires, which were a project all in themselves. There were muddy puddles all over the pavement. After the washing, there was oil to change and metal to buff. Cloud gave Denzel a screwdriver and they set to work fixing the Swiss army sword-rack so that it wouldn't send the weapons flying and hitting things its rider hadn't been aiming for when it unfolded.
By four-thirty, the sun was beating high overhead and Fenrir seemed to be gleaming with its own personal aura in the dusty yellow sun. Cloud and Denzel were sprawled over the steps of the Seventh Heaven, Cloud propped up on his elbows and Denzel flopped out beside him, wiping sweat from his face. They were covered from head to toe in every kind of soap, grime, and oil that had ever been seen in the Seventh Heaven's garage. The job had taken its toll on Cloud's hair and had plastered his blond spikes to his head. There had been a epic battle over control of the hose, which ended with a few scraped limbs and dead daffodils (which had been given a proper burial over a sworn pact not to mention a word to their proprietors), but the casualties had been pretty light, only Denzel's shoes and a few unfortunate sponges completing the list of necessary sacrifices made in the name of mechanical hygiene.
They sat in the dry, warm sun, quietly admiring Fenrir as the motorcycle showed off its squeaky cleanness. After a moment's hesitation, Cloud reached over and ruffled Denzel's drying hair.
"We did a good job," he said, and Denzel grinned so widely it looked like his face would break.
He stood up, shaking out his damp pants. Denzel looked up at him, questioningly. Cloud glanced up at the sky, squinting a bit in the low sunlight. They still had a few good hours of daylight left.
"You wanna go for a ride?' he asked.
And they rode of into the sunset.