Author: Down the Rabbit Hole PM
FFVII/FMA crossover AU. Forget the plot, the why, the how and the when except, obviously, this is the AU where they haven’t died yet and probably won’t, and imagine Zack Fair and Maes Hughes stuck in the same room, talking and hitting it off.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship - Zack F. - Words: 2,312 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 1 - Published: 06-23-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4343294
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
FFVII/FMA crossover AU. Forget the plot, the why, the how and the when (except, obviously, this is the AU where they haven't died yet and probably won't) and imagine Zack Fair and Maes Hughes stuck in the same room, talking and hitting it off.
If you have to, blame a couple of Stargates recently discovered lying about in the scenery of each respective planet. (And hope Jenova never got/gets her hands on one).
"Wanna see the pictures?" The question was unexpected and in actuality superfluous. Before he could answer, Zack had the aforementioned pictures thrust literally under his nose. Recoiling in surprise, he almost fell off his seat before they were snatched back and only his SOLDIER's enhanced senses allowed him to catch a clear view of the photos rather than an incoherent blur.
Hughes was prattling happily, having completely ignored Zack's little flailing episode. "This is my beautiful wife Gracia and our lovely daughter Elysia. This is the cake she helped mama bake last week. And this is Elysia on her new bicycle. She can ride up and down the street and turn without papa's help now!"
"She's gorgeous." Zack said as he moved, drawing a chair beside the other man to sit in backwards, irrepressible smile back on his lips. Hughes's enthusiasm was contagious and he leaned closer to take a careful look.
"Isn't she just," Hughes cooed, clearly infatuated. "Elysia takes after her mother. I'm going to have to beat off boys by the dozen when she grows up." He made kissy faces at the pictures before turning suddenly to look at Zack, glasses managing to reflect the light with a strangely disturbing glint. "In a lot of years," he added, warning clear in his voice.
"Huh?" Zack blinked, confused, and tilted his head. It's funny, I could almost swear he's—Odin's eye, he is! Zack could only gape, unsure whether to laugh at the insinuation he'd want to seduce a three years old or not. The guy had to be completely off his rocks. And weirdly enough, Zack had a feeling that Hughes would get offended equally fast if he so much as hinted his daughter wasn't worth pursuing, and really, once you felt compelled to face the sheer wrongness of that reasoning, the fact that this un-enhanced guy was threatening him- a SOLDIER First class- seemed trivial and wasn't that a novel concept?
He couldn't keep the laughter from emerging anymore than the sun from coming up. "Don't look at me like that, man, I'm off the market!"
Hughes perked up, eyes bright with interest and looking like nothing less than a shark tracking a trail of blood in the water. "Oh? You already have marriage plans?"
"I- What? What? I'm barely 17!" It came out in a disbelieving whine but Zack didn't care, eyes wide and awed grin twitching helplessly at his lips. He had been on his way to laugh himself breathless and it was pure luck you couldn't choke to death on air alone. Really, it was simply wickedhow fast Hughes could switch gears.
The man was waving off Zack's protests with an absent gesture. "Excuses, excuses, you wouldn't believe how much good a woman's support and love can do for a man. If you're not careful," he added, not unkindly, "you're going to end up like Roy, almost past his prime and still a hopeless bachelor. Colonel Mustang." He clarified at Zack's blank look.
Zack snorted. "Oh please, the way the secretarial pool was eyeing Colonel Mustang, you won't convince me the man can't get a date."
"That's not the same as finding true love! He's not even trying and he doesn't understand how tragic that is! Kinda like your General Sephiroth, if I'm not mistaken." Hughes gave him a sly look, elbowing him conspiringly. "I recognise the look of a man who hasn't got his priorities straight. And yet, with his looks, I imagine he could snare any woman! Even my darling Gracia might give him a second look. But just the once." The man's manic grin wasn't at all pleasant.
It was masterfully done and Zack let his eyes widen with admiration. "Wow. You're actually crazy scary," he breathed, more than a bit fascinated. The guy's expression barely changed at all but now he looked preening and terrifying.
Still, it was his turn to make Hughes blink and Zack did so by following up this declaration with a huge grin. "Well, anyway, I've got things covered. I've got this girl but I'm still young, you see. And she's a year younger. I'm not ready to settle down yet but --" he trailed off, grin softening as he thought of Aerith. There was a flutter in his heart that wasn't entirely due to panic when he imagined her in a white dress.
"Hm?" This time, Hughes's smirk didn't show any teeth but the wild glint in green eyes more than made up for it.
Zack smiled back and gave the man a friendly poke. "You're being scary again, please stop that."
Hughes's eyebrows twitched at the touch and he narrowed his eyes to worrying slits a moment later. "Me, scaring a strapping young soldier like you? One of the elite?" That contented purr almost sounded like a challenge and made Zack pause.
He tilted his head, considering the matter for a second then shook his head hard, beaming for all he was worth. He had an idea of what Hughes was after and by the man's quickly concealed surprise, it wasn't this reaction. "I like you. And you're good. The Turks are going to love and want to steal you."
Hughes seemed nonplussed, completely taken aback by the non sequitur. "Who?"
Zack snickered. "Nickname of the Investigation Sector of the General Affairs Department. Kinda like your Intelligence. I'm still supposed to be on leave and I don't know what I'm at liberty to discuss so you can stop trying to pump me for information. But you'll have to teach me how to hijack a conversation like you do. People tell me I'm impervious to embarrassment, otherwise, I'd totally have babbled whatever you wanted to make you shut up and stop looking at me like that. You look unholy when you've got that manic gleam in your eyes, you know?"
Hughes's jaw had started hanging in the middle of Zack's tirade. By the time it ended, he had recovered enough to only shook his head but he didn't try to deny anything. "You're the first one to admit it to my face, actually."
"Well, here you go. You're absolutely frightening." Zack kept his smile warm and friendly when Hughes appraised him with a serious look.
It didn't take long for curiosity to replace wariness in the older man's eyes and that was Zack's cue to ramp up the grin again, winning an appreciative smile in return. "Thanks. You're not bad yourself. Don't take this wrong, but you're sharper than you look."
Eyes bright with mirth, Zack rubbed the back of his head with a pleased little grin. "No offence taken, I know I bounce a lot and I guess hearing the older guys calling me puppy doesn't help either. It's a drag most of the time but on a few occasions, letting people think I'm an idiot has its uses. Lieutenant Zack Fair, SOLDIER First Class." He held out his hand to shake.
"First?" Zack had to give it to the man, he barely paused before taking his hand and there was only consternation, not fear, on his face. The consternation was pretty priceless, though.
"First and with nothing left to prove," he confirmed cheerfully. "When they're not calling me puppy, they're calling me hotshot. Sorry for your information gathering, you chose the wrong mark."
Hughes slapped his forehead with a groan, looking completely dejected. "Oh well, the risks of the game. My apologies."
"Hey, none of that," Zack nudged him good-naturedly. "I'm not too big on formality even in uniform. And you'll have to forgive me too. While I like the crazy act, I can't let you traumatise my subordinates."
"Damn," Hughes chuckled. "Too bad." He had a nice laugh, warm and friendly as the man himself and Zack hesitated a second. He was still watching silently when Hughes took off his glasses to wipe and damn. Without that slim barrier, the guy's eyes were almost the same shade of green as Aerith's.
Admit it, you're a sucker for a pair of pretty green eyes, Fair. Oh, what the hell, how many occasions to befriend aliens did one get in his life? "On the other hand, what happens in the other departments stays in the other departments. At least, until SOLDIERs get called to clean up the mess. You should see some of Scarlet's failed prototypes."
"Aren't you going to get into trouble for telling me that?" Hughes looked surprised, genuinely worried and Zack's wistful half-smile widened. He knew he was a good judge of characters but it always felt nice to be vindicated. It was too bad he couldn't say more, really. But inside Shinra tower, one was never safe and who would watch Seph's back if he weren't here?
"That? Was nothing you couldn't have heard on the news and I'm not your escort, I can't keep you from talking to whomever you want. Except the troopers and the lower SOLDIER classes, I'll order them away if I see them shell-shocked around you. I've barely started to torture them and I've got plans for some, you don't get to break them first!" He shook an admonishing finger in Hughes's direction, making the guy laugh again. "And for the other departments, blame my boss, I'm not allowed to start interdepartmental prank wars anymore, I've got to get my kicks somehow!"
Speaking of… Zack went on to the next subject, folding his arms on the back of the chair and resting his chin above. "So, can you teach me how to direct a conversation discreetly? The Turks I know don't do subtle much or they won't tell me."
Curiously, that set Hughes off again and it took him a few tries to put his glasses back on. A look at Zack's pouting face almost triggered another fit and he coughed in his fist to regain control before shaking his head with amusement. "Actually, I suspect you just steamroll over most people's attempts at subtlety. It seems to be working for you, though. I kinda want to see what Roy would make of you if you two ever got stuck in an enclosed space."
Hughes's crooked smile could have hidden a multitude of secrets. "He's manipulative when he has to. And also when he's bored. You're perceptive enough it'll make things interesting, on the other hand."
There was definitely an inside joke Hughes wasn't sharing, eyes strangely fond as he watched Zack. That stirred up his curiosity but he wouldn't have gotten to the point he had with Seph and Aerith if he hadn't known when to stop pushing. Although he had one important question… "If you say so. How does he react to pranks?"
Hughes froze, eyes widening slowly in disbelief. "You want to prank the Flame Alchemist."
"I've pulled pranks on the Silver General, I'll take my chances," Zack confessed shamelessly. "So, what were we talking about? Your daughter's new bicycle?"
The other man cackled. "You're insane and no, no, no, we had progressed to your girl!"
Zack opened his mouth. Closed his mouth and glared. "You've got your scary face on again."
"I'm practicing for when Elysia will be old enough to date and I've got a friend about your girl's age," Hughes said easily, not even bothering to wipe the fierce expression off his face. "And I notice you haven't named her yet."
"So, you can find her? No way, I'll tell you she's a flower girl and I think she's prettier than both of your girls and that's all. And well, I haven't talked with her about that yet and her mom doesn't much like uniforms but in a few years, if she'll still have me… "
Right now, the idea of being tied down to one place and person was almost enough to trigger his fight or flight reflex, brain sending off imperious commands to run for freedom. But deep inside, there was also a part of him that wouldn't mind a leash if it was Aerith holding it. Huh. Aerith. In a dominatrix outfit. She likes costumes; wonder if she'll let me talk her into it.
But that vision had absolutely nothing on the one of her in a white bridal dress and Zack knew he was grinning like a lovesick fool. It was the usual point at which the other guys started groaning and throwing whatever was at hand at him but when Hughes merely reached for his stack of photos with a grin of his own, he figured he could be in worse company and beamed wider.
This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.