Title: Peanut Butter and Jelly
Author: DC James ]
Archived: DC James' Hideout ]
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Type: One-shot pre-game drama piece
Warnings: Angst, drama, contains some spoilers, shounen-ai, and a little sap.
Summary: Cloud contemplates about the parallels between himself and Zack to the peanut butter and jelly combination.
Written On: 18 August 2004
C&C is welcomed.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
A Final Fantasy VII Piece
Disclaimer: All rights and privileges to Final Fantasy VII belong to Square Soft, Square Co., Ltd., and associated parties. The characters of this series are used without permission for the purpose of entertainment only. This work of fiction is not meant for sale or profit.
= Exaggerated Words
"Zaack!" Cloud groaned as his pen was ripped from his hand, making a long, dark line go across his notes on Military History. Laughing silver eyes locked onto resigned blue, "Maa, maa, Kumo-chan, all work and no play make you a dull boy, ne?"
The blond teen grunted and checked his notes, deciding that they were salvageable as long as he retained his wave of thought. However, he was pulled from his desk before he had time to search for another pen by the SOLDIER that he was nuts enough to befriend. Zack tugged on Cloud's arm enough that the boy became off-balanced, and with a quick twist and flex, he had the lithe body captured around the narrow waist, one arm still gripped in his powerful hand comfortably while the other was pinned between the crook of Zack's elbow and the blonde's own body.
Exuberantly, Zack kicked open the dorm door, and stepped into the hall with a cheeky grin, nodding away the choppy salutes and questioning looks he received. Cloud squirmed and begged, but his elder lover ignored it, until the fifteen year old finally sighed and accepted his fate. He knew better than most how stubborn Zackary Rayner, First Class Soldier could be.
Unsure if his heated cheeks were the result of embarrassment or the blood rushing to his head, Cloud waited until they were out of the building housing the dorms of military applicants before he asked again to be put down with an edge in his voice.
Surprisingly, Zack allowed him to stand on his own, steadying his young lover as the blond swayed, "Whoa, now. You sure I shouldn't carry you? You look flushed."
"I will not have a repeat of what happened last time," Cloud warned weakly, running his long fingers through his spiky blond hair. The last time that Zack had carried Cloud off to wherever the destination was, many of the SOLDIERS who knew Zack and his reputation threw catcalls and offers that didn't stop for almost a month.
"C'mon!" Zack urged, shifting from foot to foot to show his impatience. Feeling mischievous, Cloud took his time, smoothing back his hair and brushing his clothes free of any lint or wrinkles. The only warning that the teen had was an impatient growl as his hand was once again snatched in Zack's larger, tanned one and he was dragged off.
Cloud followed the SOLDIER's pace, taking a moment to look at his companion's handsome face. Zack's strange eyes, once a light blue bordering on gray, were warm silver after the Mako infusions upon his admittance into SOLDIER. His black hair was as spiky as Cloud's own, and trailed down to his back until it brushed pass his backside. He was tanned and muscular, due to his hours of training, but as intimidating as he could look, he acted closer to his lover's age than a man of twenty-two years.
His face was sharply angular, with a generous mouth and extroverted attitude. He had no trouble making friends, and more than friends, with almost anyone, even the Great Sephiroth. Cloud took a deep breath as his heart sped up with the thought of his idol. He nearly passed out in shock when he first met the General face to face, and he knew that embarrassing evening would still be affecting him years down the road. Sephiroth's amused looks whenever they bumped into each other didn't help matters at all.
The Nibelheim native didn't understand what Zack saw in him. He was short, awkward, and nothing special in his eye. He was too pale, to small, to slight, too dull. He preferred staying home to clubbing, and relaxing on the grass to playing basketball. Everyone loved Zack, who was sweet, funny, colorful, and handsome.
Cloud had no illusions about himself; he was quiet and studious, and perhaps grabbed attention for a little while, but people were quick to grow tired of him. Tifa Lockhart had; after two weeks of becoming his 'friend', she began to treat him like the other kids in town, and he had hoped that she would reconsider and return to being his friend again.
Looking back at all he did for her attention, he could say with no qualms that he was an idiot bordering on stalker.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Zack's voice asked as they stopped in an elevator and the elder man pushed the button for his floor. Cloud smiled up at him, "A nickel for you to not ask."
He earned a chuckle and a kiss in return before they left the elevator and walked down the plain, bright hallway to Zack's room. Being a SOLDIER had its perks, and one of them was to have your own spacious room. Cloud thought it was heaven after having to spend over a year in a dorm with three other boys, and fight for the bathroom every day with them. If you had privacy issues, you either lost them or went crazy.
As Zack shut the door behind their entrance, Cloud tsked and picked up a few stray, dirty clothes that were thrown around the living room that connected to a moderately sized kitchenette. Neither of them had extraordinary cooking skills, but it was nice to have for something simple to eat.
"Hungry?" the SOLDIER asked, looking around in cabinets and the refrigerator, "Um...."
Cloud put the clothes in the rarely used hamper in Zack's bathroom before he answered; "You didn't buy groceries this week, did you?"
Arms akimbo, Zack blew a raspberry and gave the space a critical look-over, "I got some bread and a jug of lemonade...." After a few more minutes of browsing, Zack appeared with a triumphant yell, holding up a half-full jar of purple jam and chunky peanut butter.
"You brought me up here to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with you? I'm touched, Zack, really." Cloud exaggerated, swooning with the back of his hand pressed to his forehead. Zack grinned as he prepared lunch, "Trust me, Kumo-chan, I didn't just bring you up here for pb & j."
Blushing faintly, Cloud sat on the worn couch, and leaned his head back to rest while he listened to Zack moving about in the kitchen. :Why does Zack waste his time on me?: he wondered absently. What was he after all? He met the man half a year ago, after failing the initial tests to get into the beginning SOLDIER program. He was crushed, and embarrassed, and a little angry.
Eight and a half hours wasted, and all they had to say was he was too inexperienced? Isn't that what they were there for? To get the proper training? What other contributing factors did they not tell him about? He had left the testing area, dejected and tired, his stomach growling in protest to not eating breakfast due to his nervousness.
Then, before he knew it, he was called back by a soothing voice, and a dark haired young man had run towards him, smiling at him with understanding. Introductions lead to dinner, and talking, then to a walk back to the new recruits dorm, a completely chaste evening. Imagine Cloud's shock when two days later he opened his dorm door to see Zack standing there, asking if he wanted to spar.
He knew Zack's reputation, he was a notorious flirt, and had an eye for lovers, of which he had gone through plenty, but he had been with Cloud for almost four months now. Everyone was already commenting on the unusualness by the second, and by the third, they were congratulating Cloud on taming Zack. Some of the bolder ones had asked for a row, wanting to see what had succumbed Zack so easily, but was deterred not by Cloud's stammering refusals, but of Zack's fierce protectiveness.
:Maybe that's it? He keeps me to warm his bed, so he can keep a better eye on me and I can't stray and get hurt? He did say he saw me as a good friend, a confident, and a lover-: A cold glass of lemonade pressed against Cloud's pale cheek, startling him out of his musing. Zack balanced two plates of sandwiches and had already sat his own glass of lemonade on the coffee table.
"Thank you," Cloud murmured, taking the drink and his own plate. "What'cha thinkin' 'bout?" Zack asked, curling up beside Cloud and taking a large bite out of the messy sandwich. Already, globs of jam were running down Zack's hand and dropping onto his pants, much to Cloud's irritation. Zack was also quite a slob-"Consistent bachelor syndrome," one of the few female SOLDIER's, Mana, had teasingly called it once-and it was no secret that Cloud was a perfectionist. He had a bad habit of putting things away even before others were done with them.
Zack swallowed his bite, and then licked the side of his hand and arm to wipe away the sticky goop. Amused by Cloud's expression, he nudged him with his foot, "Aren't you hungry? Damien told me you were studying since breakfast when I bumped into him."
"You made them wrong," Cloud replied, pulling off a chunk of the sandwich and popping it in his mouth. "Don't tell me you don't even know how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches right."
"You're kidding me," Zack said, looking on with disbelief and humor. "I knew you'd say something, but I thought it was going to be that these sandwiches are not to be eaten with lemonade."
Cloud shook his head, a tick under his left eye showing his annoyance. They were so different, how could they be together for so long? Were they even together or was Zack screwing with his head just as he did with his body? "Nevermind, you're from Gongana so I don't expect you to know the right way. Forget it."
Zack sat his plate on the table, and turned in his seat to look at his young lover, head tilted, as he smiled, "No, what's the right way?"
The cadet ignored him, pealing off more pieces and eating them that way, until he felt Zack lean in and nip at Cloud's neck. He murmured in pleasure and closed his eyes, even as he unconsciously tilted his head to give Zack more room. Zack obliged, nuzzling and nipping on the sensitive area and pushing Cloud further into the cushions.
"Zack... the plate..." Cloud protested weakly, but didn't move to stop the smoky eyed man. Zack absently put the plate to the side, and then returned his full attention to the blond. He ran his hands up the smaller man's sides, grinning as the muscles contracted and Cloud tensed. Satisfied, Zack pushed himself up on his elbows and looked down at the cerulean gaze, "Now, are you gonna tell me the 'right way' or am I going to have to torture you?"
Cloud sighed, and lazily brought his arms up to encircle Zack's neck, "Why should I tell you? You'll just tease me."
"Oh, but Kumo-chan, you offer yourself so readily to my teasing, how can I refuse? Now," he centered his weight to lean on one elbow as the other began to toy and tug on Cloud's pant buttons, "either you tell me the right way, or I will continually do it wrong, making you annoyed, then be forced to molest you into submission, drill you into any solid surface we happen to be near or on, toss out the stale sandwiches and leave it up to you to make them right when you get up?"
"Crude one, aren't you?" Cloud teased, but knew that Zack was right. His fingers twining in thick black hair, the marine eyed teen sighed before he explained, "What you do, to make two sandwiches, is you don't put peanut butter on one slice then jelly or jam on the other. You get a bowl, put a large spoonful of each in it, then you stir them together. That way, you have an even mixture, instead of one bite having the dominant of either one or the other, and it isn't as messy. Then you spread the mixture on two pieces of bread and voila! Instant perfect pb & j."
Zack smiled, and leaned close to nip at Cloud's pert nose, "Maybe I should try that. Isn't it amazing, the perfect combination two opposites can make when you don't look at them separately, but together?"
He got up, and picked up the two plates to take back to the kitchen, interested in trying Cloud's method. Cloud, however, lay on his back on the couch, staring at the ceiling in surprise. He never thought about it like that. :"Isn't it amazing, the perfect combination two opposites can make when you don't look at them separately, but together?": Sitting up, and resting his arms on the back of the couch to watch his lover, Cloud pondered that thought applied to them. Without Zack, Cloud would have no fun, wouldn't be improving scholastically or physically, wouldn't know the people he did, and would be lonely, quiet, little Cloud. With Zack, he was Kumo-chan, the blond who amazed Zack's friends by being able to tame the 'Zack-stallion'. Without Cloud, Zack would still be bar-and bed-hopping, having messy reports, and a messy room, and would never use the shortcuts that Cloud had managed to show him in his own anal way.
Maybe, even though the two were very little alike, they were right together. Zack, stirring the two ingredients together, looked up and gave a wink and a wide grin at his observer. Cloud rested his chin on his arms and smiled back, feeling a bit more secured in his relationship. Nobody ever said that Cloud wasn't paranoid about people's motives, as he had a right to be. Nobody did anything without wanting something in return. However, Cloud relented, some were less harmless than others.
"Enjoy your entree, messr," Zack sauntered up with a phony French accent, "and I hope you stay for our famous bedroom entertainment. Nes bar?"
"No, thank you; I'm allergic to chocolate," Cloud teased, and took a piece of the sandwich to pop into his mouth. "But I would love to stay."
Zack hummed appreciatively, savoring the bite of his own sandwich, "Say, you're right, this is way better than my way."
"Ouch, that had to hurt," Cloud jibbed, and was rewarded with a pinch in the side that sent him squirming to the other side of the couch.
"What a sensitive lover I have!" Zack chortled.
With a 'cat-who-got-the-canary' grin, he added, "Vocal, too."
"Zaack," was Cloud long-suffering reply.
A/N: It came to me during psych class and wouldn't let go, thus it was inspired enough to be put on paper. Knowing that I wouldn't be able to write anything else except that, this is what came out of it. I've wanted to do a FFVII piece for a while, but I thought it'd be another of the ideas I had, not this sudden theme. Can you tell I was hungry? ; Hope you enjoyed!