Don't hold me, I'm cold
Title: Don't hold me, I'm cold.
Rating: I don't really know, PG – 13? Perhaps a little higher.
Genre: Angst. Yaoi.
Pairing: Zack/Cloud, Zack/Sephiroth
Summary: Zack goes out, and when he returns, Cloud suddenly feels so very cold.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or anything Final Fantasy 7.
AN: This is very angsty, and sort of paints Zack in a not-so-good light, which I don't usually do. I love Zacky! Honestly I do! It's just that this plot bunny wouldn't leave me alone. I'll write some Z/C fluff after this to make up for it!
Zack stared down at the almost angelic creature now sleeping in his bed.
The young man was beautiful. He had soft blond hair that stuck up in gravity defying spikes that made Zack smile whenever he saw them, and always calmed him when he stroked them. And the boy's skin, so flawlessly pale, milky white, like the moon, was so soft. And the body, so delicate, smooth – a sculptors' dream, with his feline grace and streamlined curves and lines. So delicate and fragile looking, yet hiding a strength that Zack loved.
And unlike so many beauties these days, the boy's beauty was not just skin deep; the times Zack spent talking to this wonder laying beside him were some of the happiest moments of his life. Sure, the boy was quiet, but this somehow did not annoy Zack; he thought it simply added to the other's charm. And he was kind; his heart was set in the right place. And his fierce determination was one of the things that had first drawn Zack to him.
So Zack Fair should have been happy. He loved the young man, and he was the luckiest guy in the world, in that he thought that the other probably loved him back.
So why then, was Zack not happy? Why was he looking down at Cloud Strife and feeling the lowest he had ever felt? Why did he look down at the sleeping form and feel so much pain well up inside?
Zack shook his head. He knew why, he mused to himself, as he scribbled on a piece of paper that he left beside Cloud.
Had to go out. Really sorry, but apparently it's urgent.
Don't bother waiting up for me; probably won't be back for quite some time; I never know how long these conferences are going to take.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Zack heard the sound of his own knock reverberate unbearably loudly, like a judge sentencing him for guilt that he knew that he harboured. And deserved.
The door opened.
Had to go out. Really sorry. Don't bother waiting up.
Those written words rang in Cloud's mind as he sat up in the dark, tangled in rapidly cooling dark blue sheets.
To think that such little words could tear and eat at Cloud so much. They were not even spoken, for God's sake. They were just scribbled on a piece of random paper.
Cloud laughed harshly. At least he told himself it was harshly. Because he preferred to believe that it had a harsh note to it, than a tremor to it. A tremor that was thickened by tears that certainly did not form in his eyes.
Yes, just think; a carelessly, hastily scribbled note jotted down on a receipt. A receipt…a thing that you kept in case you wanted to take something back.
Is that what I've become now Zack? Cloud asked, this time having to admit that he did let out a harsh sound. Unfortunately the sound was anything but a laugh. He supposed that it was a sob. He wanted to deny that that is what it was. But he couldn't. Because the sound simply held too much anguish and frustration to be anything else.
He swiped violently at his eyes in an effort to stop himself shedding the tears that he could no longer deny were pooling in his eyes.
However, this small, albeit violent, acknowledgement of the tears only seemed to break the barrier that was holding them back as he began to cry like the young boy he really was.
It hurt so much. So much that he could not believe it. Before this moment he had always scoffed at what people said about mental wounds being more painful than physical ones. But now he knew what those people meant. And he wished so much that he didn't.
He had thought that Zack loved him. He had certainly loved Zack. And this made it all the worse. He had always been the quiet kid – the one that didn't socialise or speak much; the one that stood at the back of the classes and squadrons.
And he had been this way because it was simply safer; if you didn't draw attention to yourself or care too much about anything, then you wouldn't get hurt.
Okay, so the bullies still managed to pick on him, but he had no doubt in his mind that it would have been a hell of a lot worse if he had drawn attention to himself and been 'popular'.
And as it was, those that didn't bully him simply ignored him. And why shouldn't they? If they had spoken to him, they just would have gotten themselves on the hit list. And besides, why would they want to talk to him? He was nothing special; he didn't have the almost SOLDIER – like strength of some of the others, and he didn't think he had all that much skill. Sure, he was alright, but…that was it.
And so Cloud Strife had decided that it was better for his health that he just not get too attached. He would only get hurt.
But then along came Zack; the cheerful SOLDIER who was on a level that Cloud only dreamed of. And who wanted to be friends with Cloud. And who would not be pushed away no matter how much Cloud tried. Because what the hell would a SOLDIER want to be friends with him for? The guy would quickly find out how unremarkable he was and then waste no time in deserting him.
But he was the guy who pushed and pushed until he finally got is way into Cloud's heart, and who had finally convinced Cloud that he was not useless, even after he had pushed this notion away as well.
And that was the thing that made Cloud scream in pain – in actual pain right now.
He had been right all along. He had been right in trying to push everyone away, including Zack. He had finally given in to Zack because of the way Zack made him feel, because Zack was the one to actually convince him that his fears were unfounded.
And then he had discovered that they weren't. That he had had good reason to fear.
And it was Zack who had taught him this.
Zack, the only one that he let under the wire because he had trusted him.
And because Zack had spent so much time telling him to let himself care.
And perhaps, Cloud mused, this was why it hurt so much.
Hurt so much when he…found out? No, that didn't quite seem right. Because Cloud had been aware for quite some time that there was something wrong with his and Zack's relationship; just little things that made Cloud ache with the realization that something was wrong and that they were growing distant.
So that had been the initial pain. But then had come the after shock…the venom after the actual sting; the fact that someone else was taking his Zack away from him, and that he was powerless to stop it.
Again, it had just been the little things that had clued Cloud in, and he had tried so hard to deny them, but they just gnawed at him, and now…and now there was this. And suddenly he didn't need all those little things any more, because somehow, that little note had confirmed it all.
Perhaps one of the little clues that had hurt the most, was the fact that Zack was not as happy as he used to be when he spent time with Cloud. Oh he was definitely happy; he laughed and smiled, and even seemed on top of the world.
But then, when he came back from going out, the happiness that he exhibited while he was with Cloud paled in comparison to the sheer delight that he was evidently in whenever he came back from certain visits. Visits that he would only vaguely outline to Cloud, and never mention the person who actually received them.
This made Cloud feel more keenly than ever that Zack was slipping away from him.
And that was what cut Cloud deeply as he clung to his pillow as if it were Zack – as though if he hung on tight enough, Zack would not be slipping away from him and leaving him alone.
Cloud jumped as he heard the door opening and closing, and he wiped fiercely at his tears, but it did little good, as he could not hide the aura of despair that clung to him.
That clung to both of them.
Zack walked quietly into the bedroom, head down and eyes looking somewhat far away.
All the anguish and emotions and things said – and unsaid – between the two men swirled around the room, seeming to make the silence into a thickening fog.
Zack's head jerked upwards as he saw with surprise that Cloud was awake, and he smiled at his blond lover.
But the smile was wrong; too small and too strained. And in the moment when their eyes met, and all the feelings came to a halt before their gaze, they both seemed to know that this was it, although they both wanted to deny it in a way.
"Where have you been?" Asked Cloud in a small voice, despite the half truth the note had told him.
It made Zack ache – the boy seemed to be begging Zack to tell him that he was wrong – that he really had been at an emergency meeting and not with this thief that took away his rock.
"Out." Was all Zack could say quietly. "Emergency meeting."
Cloud closed his eyes on the bitter tears. There was no explanation of this meeting, and his tone was wrong; it was almost as good as a confession. It was certainly no denial, and for that Cloud ached – he so badly wanted a denial.
And yet he wanted no more lies.
He didn't know what he wanted aside from Zack. And that was the one thing he couldn't have.
Where was this meeting? What was it about? Who was it with?
All these accusations and pleads for fake reassurance were useless now, and they died before they even reached Cloud's lips.
"Oh." Was all that he said, drawing his hands tighter around his knees, hugging himself, suddenly finding that he needed that comforting gesture.
Zack had sat down on the bed, his back half turned to Cloud, his head bowed and shoulders slumped in a despair that he knew that he didn't really have the right to feel; Cloud was the one who had been wronged, he had the right to be sad.
But somehow …he still felt an overwhelming sadness.
Perhaps because he knew that he still loved Cloud, and that he felt guilty for what he was doing. Perhaps because he didn't want to leave Cloud; he wanted to stay with Cloud; he loves Cloud, but…he's just pretty sure that he loves someone else more.
And so they both sat there, slumped and despairing, both knowing, but neither wanting to say.
But Zack's head shot up suddenly when an odd sound came from behind him.
A guttural sound…a small moan that had failed to be stifled.
"Just…just tell me, Zack, just tell me this one thing, please!" Cloud begged, his voice ragged, making Zack close his eyes in pain.
"Anything, I'll answer anything, it's the least that I can give you." The older man whispered.
"When…when did I…stop being enough for you? What did I do? When did you realise?" Cloud's voiced was torn by sobs, and he gripped his arms tightly, still hugging himself, looking for that gesture of warmth…anything that would fool himself into thinking that someone else was comforting him.
Zack choked, and he turned and approached Cloud, lightly cupping the boy's face, desperate to get Cloud to understand.
"No, no Cloud, listen! God no, you didn't do anything wrong and you…you were never 'not enough' for me." Zack blurted out, horrified that all his lessons on Cloud's self worth had gone down the pan.
Cloud found himself leaning into Zack's touch, yearning for the comfort that only the other man used to be able to give. Zack always used to comfort Cloud, but now he couldn't really do that because…he was the cause of Cloud's distress.
And Cloud missed that comfort already, so even though he didn't want to, he just had to glean what solace he could before Zack left. So he nuzzled Zack's hand.
Zack continued speaking.
"God, you were always more than I deserved, Cloud, you made…you make me so happy…I love you. It's just," Zack's voice hitched. "It's just…I love someone else, too."
Cloud's mouth opened in a silent keen, and rebellious, hated tears ran down his cheeks.
"Not…not 'too.'" He whispered. "Not 'love someone else too.'"
I love someone else more.
The words hung in the air, more tormenting silent than if they had been said.
Cloud finally gave in when Zack gave no denial. He let his pain out in his tears and in the keening wail that left his mouth, and in the fists that tore at his hair.
Zack caught the boy in his arms and cradled him, taking his hands out of his hair, planting tiny, last kisses along the boy's head.
And again, although Cloud didn't really want to cause himself more pain by accepting Zack's solace…he just couldn't help it. It felt so right. And he wanted to hold Zack as close as possible before he lost him.
"Please Zack…please don't leave me. Love you. Please don't leave, I don't want you to, please." The blond whispered through his tears.
And Zack, with a pain in his chest, replied with sincere, but useless words.
"I'm not leaving you alone, Cloud, I promise. I still love you, I'm not going to leave you on your own."
Sincere. Heartfelt. But not quite the words Cloud wanted to hear.
But not quite.
And after the most tortured of the tears and words were over, the two just lay there, in suddenly cold sheets, still holding each other.
The silence was painful until Cloud broke it.
"Zack…don't hold me…I'm cold."
AN: I may do one more chapter depending on what you guys think, so please tell me your opinion!