Disclaimer: Squeenix owns. 'Nuff said.

Summary: Cloud finds Zack's personal diary amongst the ruins of Midgar and discovers his little secrets. But strange things start to happen to Cloud as he reads more and more of the private book of his long-dead friend. Is there something, or someone, trying to stop him to read more?

Parings: Zack x Sephiroth and hints of Cloud x Tifa – but very little.

Warnings: Some foul-language, yaoi, and maybe a lemon in the later chapters. Maybe. Beware of crappy attempts at description and grammar too. Some OCC-ness too...

Chapter edited for mistakes - 17 April, 2006

24 October:

In memory of Uncle John

30th September, 2006


Zack's Diary


The book was leather bound and black. It rested heavily in Cloud's hands as he held it in front of him. The simple word "Diary" was stamped into the wrinkled skin of the leather – only for the word "Zack's" scrawled just above it. Cloud sank onto the bed, blue orbs still gazing at the book.

Should I...?

No – its private...

Although Zack is dead...

Shaking his head, Cloud opened the book slowly. The pages were smudged with dirt – and yet were still readable. The first page consisted of drawings and various scribbles of what Cloud barely understood. Flicking through the pages, he skimmed through the words, the text describing Zack's feelings in SOLDIER and what he did this day and that. Then he mentioned Sephiroth – and Cloud shut the book.

"Don't want to know..." He muttered hatefully. But, as time passed slowly in Cloud's small room, he fidgeted and swung his legs over the side of the bed, eyes glancing at the book tossed on the pillow.

Sighing, he picked it up again – only for the book to slip and fall open onto the carpet.

Then the text caught Cloud's eyes as he picked it up, the pages open in both of his hands.

Dear Diary
Oh man! I'll –try- and write what I remember of last night in this, but what I can definitely say is that Sephiroth's birthday bash was probably the best I've ever had! He's never celebrated his birthday, and I do not exaggerate, since I found out his date of birth a while back and over the year I've known him, he's never spent a day any different on his birthday. But – anyway! I surprised Sephiroth when he came back from a 'light' walk (five miles...? Geez haha!) – along with Aeris, courtesy for her cooking. And, Sephiroth's actually quite funny when he's drunk... All night we spent smearing icing on our faces, and drinking until we dropped. Sephiroth was giving Aeris back rides all over the room by the time we were on our fifth. I have never seen anything so funny! Eventually the poor guy passed out on the floor! It was waaay after midnight after he passed out – so Aeris and I unceremoniously dumped his carcass on the couch. Hehe, he's cute looking all wrapped up in that duvet. But, I also finally told someone about my little secret, and all I can say is DAMN MY DRUNKENESS! sighs Well, Aeris found it obvious probably from day ONE – which made me cringe – but at least she understands (I –swear-, however, she was sniggering all the way, evil flower girl of doom...laughs). And after nudges and winks from Aeris nearly ALLLLLLL night, I STILL couldn't bring myself to tell Sephiroth... that I loved him.

Cloud stopped, and reread that sentence again.

"– to tell Sephiroth... that I loved him."

Shaking his head, all thoughts were revered into one, single loud word.

"WHAT?"

Blinking several times at the sloppy text, Cloud forced himself to continue.

But, seriously, I've been head over heels like never before for Sephiroth for... Gaia knows how long now. So far, we're close friends. And Aeris and I are all Sephiroth has, no joke – especially with that bastard Hojo looming over Sephiroth's life half the time. He knew what would've happened to Aeris if he hadn't gotten her out of those labs after the Turks taking her... But, I digress...

He's beautiful, he's kind, and... dammit I just love him and I can't help it! Besides, I wouldn't be surprised if half of SOLDIER were bisexual anyway...

Cloud cringed, imagining the insults from Barret and Cid if they ever read this...

But, he's... unlike anyone I've met before. He's had such a shit life – and, well, not to sound dramatic, but a lot of the time I think he's so alone in himself that he gave up ever trying to show what he felt for anything a long time ago. I'm glad Aeris and I got him out of that – especially when he looked so cold on the outside, and a nervous, shivering depressed wreck on the inside to the point that he hates himself. The thought of that scares me – a lot. There's a lot he couldn't do in his life, especially reveal to anyone what happened to him during his childhood. A lot of the time it's a sore subject, but it's only very painful when he can't seem to find the words to tell me when he needs to, when he really, really needs to. It hurts me more when I already know there's nothing I can do about it, especially if it happened years ago. But, at least Seph trusts Aeris and I – which means a lot to the both of us. I mean, Sephiroth risked his safety to rescue Aeris after I barged in all panicking and yelling that those bastard Turks had taken her. He came back the next morning with a rather battered, but alive, Aeris, from the labs. From there, Aeris was a friend for life to him. Arhg... I'm getting' off the point – AGAIN. Aaaaand I'm after running out of ink. Joy.

For another long time, Cloud gazed at the page, looking rather sombre. He never expected something like this. And the one thought that ran through his mind the most was – Why didn't Aeris say something...? Why didn't she ever tell him, or anyone, about her friendship with Sephiroth? Or that he has rescued her? It was impossible, it had to be... But, it wasn't, as the proof was there, black and white in text...

All three were dead now...

Cloud turned the page slowly, only for a knock on the door to shake him from his reading. Tifa stood in the doorway, looking straight at him.

"Cloud? Are you alright? Did I disturb you?"

"Um.. Um yeah! I'm fine..." Cloud shut the book quickly.

"What're you reading?" She asked, walking in slowly.

Cloud glanced down at the diary, then up at Tifa again.

"A book I... found. Had a look out of curiosity"

"Oh – well, I'm glad you found something to occupy your time other then roaming the Midgar ruins all the time..." She smiled.

"Yeah..." Tifa scratched the back of her head a little awkwardly, "Um. I came to say that dinners ready."

Cloud eased off the single bed, laying the book down secretly on top of the photo so Tifa wouldn't see it and followed her out into the hallway, then into the living room.

"Cloud, can you feed Marshal there while I get the rest of the kids outside?"

"Yeah, sure - ", Cloud answered and lifted the year old infant from his cot and into the chair. The little tot waved his tubby arms at Cloud as the Ex-SOLDIER gave him a smile, trying lamely to get him to eat the brown slop called baby food and failing miserably.

"C'mon you little sod..." Cloud gave a small chuckle, poking the child's lips with the spoon.

When Marshall refused, and promptly slapped the plastic cutlery out of Cloud's hand, he sighed and gave up. God, he'd hate to think what having kids of own would be like, nevermind looking after these orphans.

All through dinner his thoughts were solely around Zack's diary.

Something was squashed behind the rest of the pages, so there were probably photos. Somehow – Cloud couldn't help but feel like something was watching him – almost breathing down his neck.

Bastard.

Clouds head shot up. Tifa looked up from her plate.

"Did... Did you just say something, Tif'?" Cloud asked, blue orbs sliding from one side to the other. She cocked her head to the side and shook her head.

"No - "

"I must be daydreaming..." Cloud murmured, saying it to convince himself rather then her. Dinner passed agonisingly slow as Cloud's ears were sharp for any other voice other then the orphan's or Tifa's.

But all was quiet – and his skin felt frozen like ice despite the warm weather.

The book sat untouched on his desk as he lay there in bed that night. Cloud stared up at the ceiling – the text repeating itself in his mind.

- "to tell Sephiroth that I loved him..."

A shaky hand reached out and thin fingers pushed the book bit by bit off the locker and stopped when he heard the gentle clang of his bin next to the bed.

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