Cloud sat on the edge of the bathroom sink, looking down at himself with a wince while Zack cleansed the area around his arm. Petty fights were common, and this hadn't been the first time other recruits had targeted him, but pain was pain, no matter how often you felt it.

There were several bad scrapes, nothing he couldn't handle, and his face felt swollen from the punching. What was worst was the skin on his forearm, which had been torn pretty badly when he had hit the floor. It was bleeding openly, and dirty, ground into the rough rock earth just outside the building.

"We'll need to get the rocks out, you know." Zack muttered. "It'll hurt, so focus on my face."

"On your face." Cloud repeated, nodding, and tried to divert all his attention to Zack. Under any other circumstances, such a thing would have been terribly easy, but just knowing that there was going to be some pain coming soon was enough to make him want to fidget again.

"Look at me." Zack reminded him.

He forced himself to focus on Zack's eyes. The colors swirled and glowed, mako-bright, and he watched them intently as he felt the first sharp stings on his arm.

There was silence for a few moments as Zack continued to cleanse his wounds. Then, in a low voice, he muttered; "Damn, kid, why the hell would anybody want to do this to you?"

Cloud gave him an impatient look. "Because I'm a rookie and you're a first-class and most of the idiots here thinking beating me up is a good way to break us up, or a good way to get your attention, or the General's attention, or - "

"Okay, okay." Zack interjected, sighing. "I get it." Then, after a pause, he muttered to himself; "The things people do for Sephiroth..."

Cloud was about to point out that Sephiroth was half his reason for joining Shin-Ra in the first place, regardless of his reasons for staying now, but then Zack removed another fragment of rock from the wound and the thought slipped from his mind, along with the fleeting pain.

"I hope you fought back."

Cloud smiled grimly. "Like hell I did. I don't think they expected it, either. Maybe I'm stronger than I look?" he added thoughtfully.

"You know their names?"

"Even if I did, I doubt any report you could turn in about them would do any good."

"I wasn't good to turn in anything." Zack pointed out, a mischievous look on his face. "I just wanted to know the bastard's names."

Cloud grinned, catching on. "Revenge isn't good for you."

"Shush." Zack chided him. Then, looking him over one last time, he announced; "Okay, done!"

He stood up, and Cloud stood up with him. "Thanks."

"No problem." Zack gestured between them in a silent gesture for 'give me a kiss', and Cloud leaned in to do so, smiling a little against his lips. "It'll heal." Zack reminded him gently, hooking his hands around his waist.

"Of course it will." Cloud agreed, and kissed him again.