This is just a little something I threw together and finally finished. Yes, boy and boy and another boy action but it's fairly light. If I gave a summary, I'd give it all away.
Disclaimer: Believe me, if I owned any of this, the game(s) would be very different. Like, oh I don't know, Zack not dying. And possibly a hidden scene of Zack and Cloud making out. In a movie cutscene. With audio. Or something like that.
A sudden hard jolt snapped Cloud out of his restless, heat infused sleep. A voice, one that was tenderly familiar and, after some slow realization, was talking and had been talking for some time, spoke near his ear.
"Eh, sorry about that, Spike. The rock came out of nowhere and attacked me. I'd show it whose boss but, really it's a rock. The poor thing has a miserable life to start with, what with being buried in the ground and all, covered in dirt. Plus, getting kicked and stepped on by animals and people like us." The man finally trailed off, his breath a slight pant as they continued to move forward.
Wait, they were moving?
"Cloud?" Zack paused and shifted his arm that was wrapped under one armpit and wrapped around his back. "Hey, you awake?" Cloud answered him with a shaky groan. "Spike, look at me." Fingers tipped his chin up since he had no energy to do so himself and he meet bright purple eyes. "Damn." He muttered as he brushed blonde hair away. "How are you feeling, Cloud?"
Feeling? Tired. And hot. And heavy. His limbs were really heavy, his one arm draping over Zack's shoulders the other hanging limply at his side. Plus, there was a slight burning under his skin. It was the worst at his side but spread throughout his body like tendrils of hot ice. It wasn't an intense heat, but it was uncomfortable and made it very hard to think straight.
"Side hurts." He pushed past his numb lips. Funny how all his body felt heavy save for his deadened mouth.
"Yeah, I bet it does." Zack replied. The other didn't speak for a minute and Cloud let – well not let, it more of fell – his head against Zack's shoulder. His eyes closed. "Well, this looks like a good place to rest. How 'bout it?"
Zack dragged him a few more steps, the movement jerky, then carefully lowered him to the ground. The cool dirt and leaves felt nice against his warm skin. He heard Zack drop next to him and the hands were back pulling him to the other's lap, his back resting against Zack's. It was a little too warm for Cloud but he didn't have the energy to protest. Besides, other than the heat, he was pretty comfortable, or at least as comfortable as he was able to get.
"We'll just wait here for Seph. Shouldn't be too hard to find our trail, it's not like I'm being very stealthy or anything."
Oh, that's right, Sephiroth was with them. But where was he now and why wasn't he here with them? He was always taking care of Zack and him, as protective as he was of his two loves.
"…Seph?" Cloud questioned weakly. It was hard to breath and talk.
"Yeah, he's out looking for that antidote, remember? For you? Probably hacking and slashing some poor defenseless plant right now." A hand combed through his hair and Cloud relaxed a little more.
"…oh…." He'd been poisoned? That explained why he felt so bad. But didn't they have any antidotes themselves? Or at least a materia that did the same thing? Well, Zack and Sephiroth always knew what they were doing so if it was plant hacking, so be it.
"Hey, Spike, can you stay awake for me, just for a little bit? C'mon, let me see those beautiful blues of yours." His too warm cushion shifted and a hand brushed his cheek. Feebly he opened his eyes only to wince at the change in light. He stared out, his mind slowly registering they were surrounded by trees and green undergrowth. Huh, were they going on a picnic? Zack's upside-down head cut off his view and muddled thoughts and he pulled his eyes to meet the others. The cheek caresses didn't stop.
They looked at each other for some time, a small smile on Zack's face that didn't reach his eyes. Cloud knew it wasn't his usual happy one but what it really meant kept slipping out of mind. The soft touches were slowly leering Cloud into another restless sleep, his eyelids creeping shut until he was in the dark again.
"Cloud…" Zack started his voice soft and concerned.
A rustle of leaves and Zack suddenly straightened and Cloud heard the familiar scrapping of the Buster Sword being drawn. The body under him was tensed but after a moment it relaxed and Zack spoke.
"Damn, Seph, give a little warning next time. Gave me a heart attack there."
"You should be paying more attention to your environment."
"Yeah, yeah. You find it?"
"Yes." A rustle of leather and cloth and Cloud felt someone next to him. "How is he?" Cloud waited for Zack to answer but he didn't, instead Sephiroth spoke again. "I see." See? See what? Why didn't Zack answer him? Zack was ok, wasn't he? A hand rested on his forehead and a sharp inhale was heard. The hand was so nice and cool on his skin.
"Zack, he's burning up."
"I know, I know. I've been here the whole time, right? Besides, this is better, believe me."
"Yeah. Just… what do you need to do?"
"Grind it down and mix with water. Here, I filled my canteen."
"Thanks." Cloud heard and felt Zack take a long sip. "Thirsty Spike?" A thin cold metal rim was pressed to his mouth and Cloud felt wet water lap against his dry lips. Suddenly parched, Cloud focused on that cool wetness and imagined himself shrinking down so he could slip into the dark, water fill canteen, letting himself simply float in a world that wasn't filled with prickly heat or intense light. A cave, a dark deep cave with a dark deep pool of cool, soothing water. That's what he wanted right now.
The water lapped against his lips again spilling some into his mouth. It wasn't enough Cloud could tell but he just couldn't get his mouth open any further to let more in. The canteen eased away and Cloud tried to follow it.
"Easy, Spike, just a minute. Here." The canteen was back and slowly the water trickled into his mouth. He swallowed the first couple of mouthfuls before it became too much and he coughed. The blessed canteen disappeared.
"He's awake." It took a moment to remember that Sephiroth was still here. The man was too quiet for his own good.
"Yeah. He's pretty out of it though." Fingers were combing through his hair again. "Need any help with that?"
Zack snorted. "Ya sure? You look pretty funny trying to mash those leaves with only one arm."
"I'm fine. I did find them by myself."
"Not saying you aren't perfectly capable to handling yourself, just thinking of your pride here. Wished I still had my camera."
"If you did we would also have our other equipment and not be in this situation."
"So true." Cloud listened to the two talk, trying to piece together what was going on. Once they lapsed into silence though he felt the need to speak to clear his confused thoughts.
"Seph…?" He didn't bother opening his eyes, it wasn't worth the effort.
"I'm here, Cloud." A hand brushed his face. "Just a few more minutes."
Zack had said something about Sephiroth being one armed. "Your arm…?"
"It will be fine. The splint is still holding." Splint? For his arm? He hurt it? How? When? Not getting the answers he wanted Cloud started to twist his body.
"Hey, hey, easy there, Spike. Seph's ok, really. It's not broken that badly…" Zack stopped to hiss in pain.
"Zack?" This time there was worry in Sephiroth's voice.
"Ah, just the ankle. Hit another rock before camping here. Didn't help in the whole sprang ankle department."
Sephiroth sighed but said nothing. Cloud finally stilled, both from not wanting to cause the two any more pain and because simply, he was panting now while the world, even in black, was spinning around him. He gulped and shuddered.
"Cloud? Hey, how ya doing?" Fingers gently tapped his cheek. "Cloud?" He was shivering now, not really from cold but still shivering. He didn't know why but he couldn't stop it. Was it getting worse? "Seph!"
"What's wrong?" Another set of hands grabbed at him.
"This is what makes the fever seem the better part. Damn, I was hoping this wouldn't happen again." The shivering had upgraded into shakes which were quickly making there way into full, body shaking convulsions. Cloud wheezed as he tried to suck in enough air as his ribs were being squeezed by his own chest muscles. "C'mon, Cloud. It'll be ok, just relax and breathe."
Cloud felt his body buck off the ground, it wasn't more than a few centimeters at best but it was more movement than he had been capable of since he awoke. Sephiroth and Zack were talking above him, their voices edged with concern and alarm, hands holding onto him. The convulsions continued but the world was dimming, the voices fading away even as they increased in intensity. Everything vanished….
…Chest hurting enough to bring tears to his eyes, Cloud gulped in air, his body listening to some command other than his own. He lay there, somehow now on the hard ground, his ears and mind roaring like the sea while he panted hard, lungs aching for oxygen. After a minute, hands dug deep underneath him and he wondered vaguely how they could move his too heavy body. He was pulled into a tight embrace, one hand supporting his limp head from falling back awkwardly, while a warm breath sounded next to his ear.
"Damn, don't do that, Spike." The hug only lessened after a minute of rocking back and forth, a third hand on his shoulder stilling the movement.
"You done? About damn time." Pause, a weary sigh. "Sorry, Seph, you know that wasn't against you. Just – That was too damn close."
"I know." He was moved again. He might have been offended by being treated like a doll but, really he didn't care. All he wanted to do was sleep.
Something was pressed to his mouth. "Open up, Spike, you need to drink this." Liquid, lukewarm and bitter washed over his tongue. It trickled down his throat and he coughed. His chest flared in pain. He coughed again, his whole body jerking in pain and the fear of losing precious oxygen. "C'mon, love, just a little more…" Zack sounded so worried, scared even, that Cloud allowed them to manhandle him. Not that he really could stop them… More liquid, more coughing. Cloud felt tears leak out and run down his cheeks caused by the pain in his chest and the fright of not knowing what was going on.
Finally it was over and the metal rim was taken away. He was pulled back into that tight embrace and Cloud relaxed, the hold deeply familiar. Another arm wrapped around from the other side and he was firmly cradled by warmth and two softly thudding hearts, one for each ear. Zack's voice, muffled, spoke from both above and rumbled next to him.
"You think it's enough?"
"We will see in time." Sephiroth's voice was similar to Zack's and Cloud felt his chest ease a little more.
"Cloud? Love?" The voice was obviously directed at him and while he loved being held by these two men, he really didn't want to respond to them. At least not right now. He was content to let them talk over and about him. But they deserved some sign from him and so he worked to open his eyes. Blinking wearily, he saw two set of eyes peering down at him, green and purple glowing in the self created shadows of their touching heads.
Zack grinned. "Hey." Cloud blinked up at him. The grin softened and Zack bent down, brushing his lips against Cloud's in a chaste kiss. "You certainly know how to make a day interesting, don't you Spike." If Cloud had any idea what he meant he might have responded. As it was he just blinked up at the duo wondering if it was ok for him to sleep.
"Rest, Cloud. We'll be here." Ah, count on Sephiroth to be a mind reader. Cloud closed his eyes gratefully and shank into his love's arms and into sleep.
--- --- --- ---
He awoke later wrapped in a familiar long leather jacket and a pair of firm, warm arms. Memory skidded across his mind and he knew it couldn't be Sephiroth that was holding him. At least, he was pretty sure if couldn't be. Blinking sleep and grit out of his eyes Cloud found himself in a clearing of woods somewhere, dark with the faint light of a campfire to his side. He twisted in the embrace and the other stirred.
"Mmm…" The arms tightened and Cloud bit back a hiss. Why did his chest hurt? "Mhh? Cloud?" The arms shifted around him, turning him gently. "Spike?"
"Zack?" He looked up at the raven haired man, his beautiful violet eyes gazing down at him.
"How are you feeling?"
Cloud groaned as he shifted sore muscles and bones. "How should I feel?" He tried to think back on why they were here and why he was so sore but his memories were hazing.
"You sound better." Cloud looked up to see Sephiroth standing, then kneeling to sit next them. Without his jacket, he was bare-chested, one arm close to his chest and tied in a sling. Cloud wormed one hand out of his make shift blanket to gently touch the wrapped arm. Sephiroth smiled tenderly at him. "I'm fine." He ran his good hand through blonde spikes. "It's good to see you better." The hand rested on his forehead. "The fever has decreased too."
Cloud frowned. "What happened?"
Zack, leaning over Cloud so he could watch both men, squeezed him quickly.
"What do you remember?"
"Uh… We were rafting when we hit a rapids and capsized, lost most of our gear. You," He looked up at Sephiroth, sudden memory fueling his anger. "Had to be the dramatic idiot that you are and broke your arm trying to save some of the gear, after," Cloud held up a finger to emphasize his point. "We were all safely on land."
Sephiroth arched an eyebrow but an amused light was in his eyes. "Dramatic?"
Cloud continued. "Zack hurt his ankle swimming to shore," Cloud glanced back at him in question and the other smiled at him reassuringly.
"I'm fine too, Spike. Seph's been doing most of the walking."
"Then…" Cloud frowned. "We were… attacked?" Sephiroth nodded. "I fought it off since I wasn't injured." Cloud shook his head, confused on the memories that trickled through his mind. "I was hurt?"
Sephiroth nodded again, gravely. "Poisoned."
"And with all our materia and gear washed downstream, Seph had to go scouting for something to make an antidote for you." Zack filled him in.
Okay, he sort of remembered that. He and Zack were going to start making their way toward civilization, Cloud helping Zack at first until the poison was too much for him and they had stopped to rest. Only… he remembered being moved later on. And why did his chest hurt so much?
"What happened after?" Zack and Sephiroth exchanged a look.
Zack sighed. "You… stopped breathing."
"What?" Zack glanced away and Sephiroth took up the narrative.
"You had a seizure before I could administer the antidote. The poison had so weakened your body then that you stopped breathing. We had to do CPR."
Well, that explained that. Cloud rubbed his chest as he absorbed the idea that he had almost died.
"Does it still hurt, Spike?" Cloud looked up to meet concerned violet eyes. He shrugged. Yeah it did but there really wasn't anything they could do about it. Zack kissed his cheek. "Sorry."
Cloud looked up at him surprised. "Why? It wasn't your fault." He turned away from the two set of watching eyes, scowling. No, the fault was his for trying to take on some monster that was obviously stronger than him when all he had to do was distract it long enough for the others to get away. Idiot. A finger tipped his chin back to met bright eyes.
"Hey now, none of that. It wasn't your fault either." Zack bent down for another kiss, this time on the lips. Despite his aching chest and irritation at himself, Cloud relaxed and even arched somewhat into the kiss. Zack deepened it until a hand on Cloud stopped them. Zack pulled away, an embarrassed smirk growing on his face. "Sorry about that, Spike. Probably not the best time."
"Probably not, Zack." Zack looked up at Sephiroth, his smirk developing into something else that both men were familiar with.
"Well if I can't have Cloud…" In one smooth move Zack sat up then leaning over Cloud, kissed Sephiroth. It was both arousing and irritating to Cloud since he couldn't join in.
"That's just cruel." Cloud growled.
Zack chuckled as he pulled away from Sephiroth. "Feeling left out, Spike?" Cloud glared. Zack laughed and a small smirk grew on Sephiroth's lips. "No pouting now."
"I'm not pouting." He stared into the night and wished he could cross his arms without hurting his chest further. Zack's laugh continued, softening as he leaned down to nibble on the blonde's ear. Cloud flinched but otherwise fought to ignore the older man's actions.
"It's okay." Zack purred. "I love your pout."
Smirk still on his lips, Zack pulled back. "Yeah, yeah, I know. No making out until Cloud is able to chase me around the gym again."
"Correct. There are still a few hours until dawn. We'll set out again in the morning." Sephiroth then began to move until he was lying down next to Cloud, his good arm circling the youngest man's waist. "For now, you," He looked at Cloud. "Need to rest."
A silver eyebrow arched. "I thought you said you were not pouting."
Cloud narrowed his eyes at the General. The man simply smiled serenely. Moving closer, he tenderly kissed Cloud. Breaking the kiss but not moving more than a breath away, he whispered, "It is good to see you better."
Despite himself, Cloud felt his face heating at the man's soft words. Another arm snaked around him and Zack buried his face into Cloud's neck, gnawing once at his skin before agreeing with Sephiroth.
"Time for sleep now, yes?" Zack murmured over Cloud's shoulder. "I think it's been a rather long day, don't you think? And someone," He smirked at Cloud. "Woke me from my nap."
Cloud rolled his eyes. "Lazy."
Zack grinned. "Yep."
"Enough, Zack. Rest."
"Sure thing, Seph." Zack twined an arm around Sephiroth good one, over Cloud's stomach, maneuvering Sephiroth's leather jacket to cover the three of them as best as possible. Cloud let his eyes close as he smiled softly, feeling safe and warm between the two older men. Zack, once finished, nuzzled closer to the blonde, sighing contently. "Night, Loves."
"Night, Zack; Seph."