Disclaimer: As I have said before…..if I owned them Zack would be alive.. surrounded by ducks……….
"Hello." Called out walking cautiously into the bar.
Zack and Tifa had both left, messages on his cell informing him to return home immediately. Cloud had quickly finished his delivery and raced home, fearing the worst. But now that he was home, everything appeared to be in order.
There was no response.
Cloud carefully pulled his sword out, skillfully maneuvering around tables. Nothing looked disturbed; all the chairs were upright, tables spotless.
"Tifa!" Cloud called again.
He moved across the bar until he came to the stairs. He could see a few lights on the second floor, but there did not appear to be any movement. He slowly made his way up the stair carefully placing his feet to avoid making the wood creak and there alerting whom ever was upstairs. As he finally reached the landing he quickly surveyed the surroundings. The bedrooms were empty, the lights off, and the occupants missing.
Clouds eyes finally landed on the bathroom door, the only door closed. From where he stood he could clearly make out a sliver of light peaking through the bottom of the door. Cloud slowly approached the bathroom door. Suddenly a shadow passed behind the door, someone was walking in the room. Cloud flexed his hand around the handle of the sword. The shadow had stopped on the other side of the door. Cloud took another soundless step to the door hand reaching out to grasp the handle. Suddenly the door was wrenched open.
Cloud jumped back, startled by the sudden noise and movement.
There in front of him stood Zack, the soldier smiled at him broadly.
"Zack!" Cloud breathed out.
"What are you-"
Cloud broke off as he finally took a closer look at his best friend.
Zack stood before him wearing nothing more than what appeared to be swimming trunks.
"Uh." Cloud muttered, his eyebrows arching to his hair line.
"Come on in!" Zack said cheerfully.
He moved aside to make room for Cloud to walk past him.
Cloud unsure if he wanted to really go into the bathroom with his friend stood still and simply stared at Zack some more.
Zack, realizing his friend would not move without persuasion, grabbed a fistful of Cloud's shirt and bodily dragged him into the room. As soon as Cloud was in the room Zack closed and locked the door, a hand still clutching at Cloud.
Cloud glanced around the room. The large bath tub against the far wall was filled with bubbles, pink bubbles from the looks of it. Candles were lined around the floor, and a CD player sat next to the tub.
Zack, who had finally relinquished his hold on Cloud, was eyeing a candle on the counter next to the sink thoughtfully.
"What am I doing here?"
Zack opened his mouth to respond when another voice broke in.
"We thought you needed a break."
Cloud quickly whirled back to the tub. Tifa sat perched on the edge of the tub smiling broadly at him, wearing a small black one piece swimsuit that left very little to the imagination.
Cloud opened his mouth to speak, but found no words would come out. He turned to look back at Zack.
Zack's ever present smile widened considerably. He placed a hand on Clouds arm and began pulling him towards the tub.
"Ms. Lockheart and I came to talking the other day, about you naturally."
Zack said, pulling cloud to a stop in front of Tifa.
"We decided that you were too stressed out." Tifa said, rising to her feet.
"You need to relax." Zack said simply.
He the proceeded to rid Cloud of his sword placing against the door, he then turned and began pulling off Clouds shirt.
"What are you-"
Cloud was cut off as the shirt was pulled across his face.
"There we go." Zack said cheerfully throwing the shirt at the general direction of Clouds sword.
"Now, can you take off your pants or are you going to need me to do that as well?"
Cloud felt his face heat up, his eyes bulging as he looked at his friend.
"Why?" He demanded.
"You're not going to want to get your pants wet." Zack said rationally.
Cloud looked over at Tifa, an eyebrow arched in question. She smiled back at him, offering no explanation.
"Come on off with them!" Zack said impatiently, reaching out to Cloud.
Cloud quickly jumped back away from Zack.
He glanced over his shoulder at the door. Maybe if he made a run for it he could get out before Zack could catch him.
"Don't even think about it."
Zack's voice cut into his train of thought.
Cloud turned back to the two people he had once considered friends, shooting one last imploring look at Tifa.
She gave him a sympathetic smile.
"Off with it!"
Cloud sighed and pulled his pants and boots off leaving him totally devoid of clothes, save for a pair of black silk boxers.
"Nice." Zack said eyeing the boxers.
Cloud shot his friend a pointed glare, which Zack did not seem to notice or simply chose to ignore.
Tifa turned her back to Cloud and stepped into the tub.
Cloud watched her settle into the bubbles, eyeing her wearily. She sat against the far side of the tub a content smile on her face, head leaning back against the wall.
Cloud glanced back to Zack who was now staring at him expectantly.
"Well what?" Cloud asked.
Zack pointed to the tub.
"Get in Spiky."
"What! No!" Cloud exclaimed loudly.
Zack rolled his eyes. He knew Cloud would make this more difficult than necessary. He quickly closed the distance between himself and Cloud then proceeded to throw him onto his shoulder.
"Zack!" Cloud shrieked.
Zack carefully walked into the tub, mindful of Cloud's dangling form. He deposited Cloud down into the end of the tub next to Tifa, while he moved to the other end.
Cloud watched as Zack too seemed to melt into the bubbles, a blissful smile upon his face, eyes closed.
Cloud sat frozen where he was placed, to shocked to move. This why they had called him, to force him to take a bath? With them?
Tifa watched Cloud for a moment. He looked more stressed now that he was in the tub then before. She turned her head to Zack.
"Hmm?" Was Zack's only response.
"I don't think this working." Tifa said, eyeing Cloud worriedly.
Zack sighed and opened his eyes. He glanced to the other side of the tub noticing Cloud's tense form.
Clouds eyes quickly found his, a slightly wild look in his eyes.
"Relax." He said simply.
Cloud glanced from Tifa and then back to Zack, a disbelieving expression on his face.
"We are not going to molest you if you close your eyes and relax."
Tifa let out a snort of laughter, one of her hands shooting up to her face to cover her mouth. Zack's eyes flashed to her briefly before returning to Cloud, who had shot Tifa an angry glare.
"Well, I won't at least."
Cloud raised an eye brow but remained silent.
Tifa let out an indignant huff and the proceeded to splash Zack, who for his part did not even blink as the water hit his face, his eyes remaining on Cloud.
"Just lean back and let the water work the stress from your body."
After a moment Cloud did as he was told. He leaned his head back until he was resting against the edge of the tub, willing his body to relax. This wasn't so bad, just soaking in the warm water; he was almost able to forget the other two were there, almost.
Cloud suddenly felt something nudge his leg. He attempted to ignore it, until the nudge became more persistent. He cracked one eye open and glanced towards his leg.
"What's that Cloud?" Zack asked eyes still closed.
"What is this?" he asked holding the duck towards the other man.
"It would appear to be a rubber duck." Zack said, still refusing to open his eyes.
Cloud glanced over to Tifa who was smiling broadly at him, amusement shinning in her eyes.
"You can't take a bath without duckies Cloud." Zack said reasonably.
Cloud remained silent for a moment.
"Duckies, as in more than one?"
At this Zack cracked an eye open and glanced curiously at the bubbles before him.
"I loaded at least fifteen in here, plus the three Marlene gave me."
Cloud sighed and let his arm fall back limply into the water, duck still in hand.
"Just try to ignore them. If I see any floating your way I'll heard them back towards Zack" Tifa said helpfully.
"The more the merrier." Zack said happily.
Cloud opened his hand around the duck his was holding allowing it its freedom, watching as it began to float in the direction of where Zack sat. He once again closed his eyes and leaned his head back. He felt the water penetrate his muscles, relaxing him. After a few moments he began to feel himself drift off towards sleep, thoughts becoming muddled together.
"Come my pretties."
Cloud opened an eye and glanced at Zack.
Apparently all the ducks had decided to move towards the SOLDIER, and now were collecting in front of him in mass. Zack clearly was pleased with this new development, as he gazed gleefully down at his ducks.
Suddenly Zack's eyes glanced up at him. He stared at Cloud for a moment before his eyes began to narrow, an evil grin forming on his lips.
"Zack?" Cloud asked nervously.
Zack's grin grew wider.
"Attack!" Zack suddenly shouted pointing at Cloud.
Cloud blinked and glanced down at the ducks gathered around his friend.
After a few moments of waiting for his army of feathered friends to attack Zack looked down to see what the delay was. The ducks bobbed and shifted around him, none seemed inclined to move toward Cloud. Zack looked up at his friend.
"They are plotting."
Cloud nodded his head.