Author's Note: So I'm starting another new story. This one is just as serious as my other one, Drowning in My Dearly Beloved. I recent;y Finished Crisis Core so now I'm pretty much desperate to write a CC fic, and here's my results. Cloud's the only real character in this chapter, but Zack and Seph should take real part soon. Anyway, Read and Rate. And Thanks to me lovely beta Stu-P0t.
Disclaimer: I don't own FF7 or CCFF7, but boy do I wish I really owned a lifesized Zack Robot to cuddle and snuggle with.
Crimson diluted in the rapidly cooling water, fading to pink as it was sucked down the drain. What had once been unbearable heat beating down now felt like daggers of ice, cutting deep into the blonde sitting beneath the flow of water. The body remained stationary on his side, sapphire eyes half-lidded and lifeless. A searing pain stretched up his lower half, a pain he was learning to get used to.
He would have cried, but it wasn't the first time, and he was now figuring out that it wouldn't be the last time either. He wouldn't cry. He couldn't cry. He had only so much pride to cling onto, and he would. He would be strong, and he would refuse to let this get to him.
But he remained lifeless on the cold tile floor, allowing the spears of icy water to stab into his muscles. There wasn't enough energy left in his small frame to get up and move. His breaths were shallow as he tried to regain some semblance of self. He'd just been violated for the third time in a month and was having a hard time believing that he was worth anything more than a good fuck. And to top it off, each time it had been a different man.
He took a deep, shuddering breath before pushing himself up. Slowly, he got to his feet and limped his way to the shower room exit. He grabbed a dry towel before gently drying himself off and pulling himself into his Regulation Army Cadet uniform. He cringed at the simple thought of just what he'd have to endure for being late to field training. Running extra laps was not appealing in this state, but he couldn't say anything or he'd be called weak.
Final examinations had taken place just last week to see who would make it into the army and who wouldn't. ShinRa was very adamant about only having the best of the best in the Regulation Army and SOLDIER. He had tested in the top ten in his class in the field trials, but that wasn't what he was worried about.
No. Cloud Strife was worried about the DNA test results that would be coming back any day now. If anything came back on it that was even remotely suspicious, he wouldn't make it into the army. He would be forced to return back home to the mountains and live in shame. He would never move up in the world. He would be pushed around like whore if he didn't pass this test.
Slowly but surely, Cloud left the locker room. He took off jogging with a noticeable limp that he hoped would work itself out before he got to the field. Unfortunately it didn't, and the other cadets and his commanding officer looked at him strangely as he entered the field.
"Nice of you to join us, Strife. Would you care to explain why you're late?" the Sergeant barked, causing Cloud to stop and stiffen in place, his hand moving to salute his commanding officer.
"Sir, I'm sorry, sir! I tripped and fell down the stairs on my way here from the showers. I thought I had broken my leg and didn't move until someone passing by helped me," Cloud answered, keeping his voice steady. He couldn't tell the truth, and sneaking a look to his classmates told him that they all wanted to start laughing.
"Are you alright, Cadet?" the Sergeant asked.
"No sir. I'm fine. I'll just be black for a while, sir," Cloud said, shifting slightly to ease the pain in his lower back.
"Get in line, Cadet. This could have cost you any chance of passing. Seven miles after the others are dismissed," the Sergeant barked. Cloud straightened again, fear rippling down his aching spine, and hurried into line. Seven miles. At least he was getting off easy this time. Seven miles was better than anything he would receive for turning in his rapists. The sergeant sent everyone off on their warm-up run, a two mile run around the ShinRa compound. Cloud ran, as fast as he could despite the pain but was still coming up short. He pushed forward, however. It wasn't proper form to give up over such minor injuries.
When everyone had finished their laps, Cloud coming in much farther behind than he normally did, they headed off to the training fields for their last training sessions as cadets. That night all three groups of cadets would be gathering to find out the results of the tests. Everyone was a little apprehensive of the scores, but no one more than Cloud. Everything was riding on him getting this position. He refused to be reduced to what some other people in his class had to do to get by.
He stepped onto the training grounds carefully and picked up a sword from the rack. No cadet was allowed to have their own weapon, but Cloud knew that many kept knives and other paraphernalia hidden in their bunks. Cloud didn't risk it, though. He had to get in, no matter what. Midgar wasn't exactly the kindest place to people of his class.
Cloud sparred with his usual training partner—Cadet Hanmar, Class C1. Cloud wasn't exactly friends with the older teen, but he'd had no choice but to put up with him. Hanmar was one of the people involved in his rapings. If he protested in the least, anything could happen. The blonde cadet wasn't focusing on the battle and was thrown back, his sword clattering to the earth far away.
"Geez, Strife. You're such a wimp. I don't even know how you made it this far," Hanmar taunted from his spot in the ring. Cloud grumbled, slowly picking himself up from the ground. He fetched his sword quickly. They wouldn't be training with their swords for much longer since it was an unfavorable weapon for the Regulation Army. Swords were left to the SOLDIERs. Guns were the preferred weapons of the army.
Cloud was thrown again, pain and distraction taking over him once again. The pain in his lower back crawled up his spine with alarming speed when the blonde moved to stand. Tears started to prick his eyes from the pain, but he stubbornly refused to let them out. He had his pride. The sergeant was barking for everyone to put their equipment away so they could head to the shooting gallery. Cloud attempted to stand again, but stopped when the pain shot up again with new vigor. When the sergeant realized that Cloud wasn't with the rest of the group, he sent them on, storming back to find the boy.
"Cadet, just what are you doing on the floor?" he barked, anger clear on his features.
"I'm sorry sir. I think I was thrown wrong. My back hurts, sir," Cloud answered, his voice quieter than he'd have liked it to be.
"You back hurts? Aren't you a little priss. Get the fuck up now before I throw you out of the program," the sergeant yelled. Cloud shifted again, managing to pull himself up halfway before the pain became too unbearable to go farther and he fell forward. He caught himself just in time to avoid falling face down on the sergeant's shoes.
"Sir, I don't think I can stand," the blonde gasped.
"Can't even fucking stand? And how do I know you aren't faking? You've been slacking off this last month, Strife. You'll be dismissed if this is another stunt," the sergeant grumbled, shaking his head.
"Sir, this place is all I have to look forward to. I wouldn't lie," Cloud said, attempting to stand once more. The sergeant sighed and grabbed the teen's arm, yanking him to his feet.
"If you can't walk, then I'll believe you," the man said, frustrated. Cloud took a few hesitant steps, cringing as the pain continued to shoot. He stumbled and refused to walk any further. The sergeant sighed, shaking his head. "You're going to the medical unit. You're in no shape to train today, Strife."
"No, sir. Please. Just send me back to my bed. I'll be fine tomorrow! I swear!" Cloud said, beginning to panic. The medical unit was close to the science labs, and that was one of the scariest places in the ShinRa compound.
"Strife, a back injury is serious. Having something like that can bump your class down." The sergeant took Cloud by the shoulders and forcefully pushed the boy towards the medical building. Cloud winced, not liking the pain that decided to shoot up his spine. He cringed and pushed back, fighting the Sergeant with what strength he had.
"Sir, please. I can't go there," Cloud cried, distress dripping from his words. The sergeant growled, scooping Cloud up into his arms.
"If you're this desperate to not go, then you're obviously hiding something. We're going and that's final, Cadet." The sergeant moved swiftly for the compounds, ignoring the cadet in his arms. When they reached the medical unit, he dropped the boy in a chair in the waiting area and headed to the desk. He signed the boy in and gave explicit instructions to the receptionist not to let the boy out and to report all abnormalities to him. Swiftly, the sergeant left to attend to the other cadets that were probably running a rampage at the shooting gallery.
Cloud curled up into himself on the chair. The position was ever painful, but he at least felt somewhat safer. The medical ward wasn't exactly the friendliest of places, nor safest feeling. There were army men and SOLDIERs littering the waiting room. Cloud could only pick out maybe one or two that would be lower priority than him and shivered. He didn't want to stay. What if they called him back and found out about his rape during the examination? He pulled his legs closer to his forehead.
One by one, the others in the room were called to be examined. There was a SOLDIER with bloody knuckles, another that had to be wheeled in on a wheelchair because of a sickly twisted leg. There was a regulation officer that came in, carried by a few of his subordinates, that was bleeding profusely from the chest. By that point there had only been Cloud and four others left in the room, two of which he was sure were below him in priority.
Slowly, three of the others in the room were called back. When Cloud was finally called back, he'd been there for at least four hours and personnel were still scrambling to save the army officer's life. They had forced Cloud into a wheelchair to take him back to the patient room. Once he was situated on his own again, he curled back up, drawing his knees up as far as they could go. He didn't like the people touching him so much; it unnerved him.
After a few moments the doctor entered the room, a thin written file in his hands. He took a seat on the other side of the room and leafed through the few pages listed there before turning to a computer monitor. Quickly, he pulled up Cloud's files and shifted through them more thoroughly. Finally he turned back to Cloud.
"Good afternoon, Cadet. I'm Doctor Wörnhör. According to the sergeant in charge of your training today, you seem to be having trouble with your lower back and walking?" Cloud simply nodded. "We'll cart you in for immediate x-ray. Please strip down and go through that door when you're done," the doctor said, motioning to a door on the opposite wall as the exit.
"No," Cloud said simply, shaking his head.
"What? You can't just say no to this. I can have you expelled from the program if you refuse to cooperate," the doctor snapped.
"I refuse to get undressed," Cloud stated simply. The doctor gave Cloud a pensive look before standing and walking over to the boy.
"You are in the Regulation Army as a cadet. You should be used to nudity around others. Strip now and head in to get x-rayed," the doctor said sternly.
"You're different than they are. They're young, like me," Cloud said quietly.
"You will get undressed or I'll have it done by force," the doctor commanded.
"Please don't make me," Cloud said, pulling his legs against himself tightly. The doctor scowled and grabbed Cloud's arm, wrenching it away from his body. The teen's eyes went wide and he jerked the arm back. "Don't touch me!" he snapped, curling back into himself. The doctor didn't give up, grabbing Cloud by the shoulder this time, yanking him towards the edge of the examination bed. This moved Cloud the wrong way, causing him to recoil on his injured back. The blonde winced but continued to fight. Finally the doctor had enough and reached for a needle containing sedatives under the bed and stabbed Cloud in the leg with it.
The teen continued to struggle until he was no longer conscious enough to do it. Fitfully, and reluctantly, he fell asleep, fearing for his body and his future position in ShinRa.
Cloud was floating in a black haze, shifting between trying to regain consciousness and staying asleep. After all he'd been through over the last month and more, he wanted to stay asleep. The need to get up and make something of himself was pulling him back to reality, though. Cloud finally was pulled irreversibly back to the land of the functioning by a voice.
"His urine samples were clean. He wasn't faking anything. He has a hairline fracture on one his lower vertebra and pulled the muscles on his inner thigh. There is some minor bruising in the region, but none of these should hinder his army career. His DNA results and his physical capabilities have qualified him for promotion from Class C4 to Class C3, but it will take a long time to go through with his injury. We will have to wait until he heals and see if he can still do as much.
"I want him in a brace and to take it easy for the next couple of weeks. And beyond that, I highly suggest that you send him to the Psychiatric Department twice a week. Believe me when I say it might do him some good," the voice said, obviously the doctor that had treated Cloud. The blonde slowly cracked his eyes open and looked to see the sergeant standing there paying half attention to the doctor.
"I'll try my best to get him the rest he needs, but why the psychologists?"
"I believe that will be up to the Cadet to tell the shrink. All I know is that some of the injuries sustained look suspicious. He'll talk to them eventually, and when he does only then can anything be put to rest."
"Alright," said the sergeant, nodding. "I believe Strife is waking up, so I should get him back to the barracks. I'll arrange for his appointment first thing tomorrow." The doctor nodded and exited the room. After a moment, the sergeant moved to Cloud and shook his shoulder. Cloud pulled away the best he could, but the affect of the drug was too much. "The dinner is in thirty minutes, but I don't think you'll be able to go. I'm sorry Strife. However, you have passed. With flying colors, I might add. Now let's get you back to the barracks. The other boys should already be assembling at the mess hall."
Cloud nodded dully, allowing himself to be pulled up. He felt boneless and very much didn't like the feeling, but he didn't fight it. It was useless to fight it. He would only get hurt more in the end. Slowly, the sergeant worked Cloud into a wheelchair and took him back to the cadet barracks. He helped move Cloud onto the blonde's bed.
"You'll have to move out in about a week and into the actual army barracks. Be prepared," the sergeant said before turning to leave for the dinner. Cloud pulled himself under the covers of his bed and curled back into himself. He didn't want to miss the dinner, but he also didn't want to risk encountering his peers after going missing the whole day. It was just too hard for him to fit in with this crowd. The majority of the cadets this round were Class C1 and C2, making Cloud and the few other lower C classes feel intimidated. However, Cloud's looks separated him from the other C3s and C4s. He'd thought the advances were harmless until about a month prior when he'd been attacked the first time.
But Cloud had to push those thoughts away into the far corner of his mind. He had to remind himself of why he was here and why he couldn't let class status get in the way of what he needed to do to survive in the world. His mother was depending on him getting this job. He had to prove to Nibelheim that he was worth more than a dirty whore's bastard child, because he was. His mother was no whore by profession, despite the fact that everyone said she was. And he knew damn well what his father's name was.
The thoughts were weighing heavily on his mind, not allowing the blonde to sleep. However, after being knocked out, Cloud didn't want to sleep much more anyway. So he stayed unmoving, letting his thoughts war over his self-worth.
"You do know why you're here, right, Cloud?" The psychiatrist asked, sitting back in his chair and crossing his legs. Cloud remained silent, not looking the man in the eye. "You're here because there were signs of rough and possible nonconsensual sex on your body." Again, Cloud refused to speak, pulling his knees up to his chest and hugging them.
"All we need to know today is if it was consensual or not, Cloud. ShinRa wishes to keep all of its employees both physically and mentally healthy. I can't guarantee that ShinRa will keep you on if you refuse to answer and we notice more odd behavior from you in the future." The blonde boy remained unmoving, his eyes staring unfocused at a plant across the room. The psychiatrist sighed, shaking his head.
"If this is indeed nonconsensual, we can work together to put him away, or at least get him reprimanded. The charge for raping a C class isn't much. Two years at most, a year of community service in the least, but that is if the victim is over eighteen. You're still fifteen, no? The charge jumps to a maximum of two and a half years and a minimum of six months if they are C class or lower."
Cloud remained silent, causing the psychiatrist to sigh exasperatedly again. The man looked at Cloud with cold eyes, not liking the attitude he was getting. Slowly the man turned to his desk and up Cloud's written file. "Look, Cloud, if you still refuse to talk by the end of the month, ShinRa'll have to let you go. We can't have an un-helpable in its ranks. And if that does happen, I'll be forced to recommend you to be moved down to class D3. And if that happens, and you were raped, then you will find it very hard to find any help at all."
The blonde gripped his legs tighter, putting his head face down on his knees. No. He didn't need this. He didn't need any of this. He just needed to be left alone. He would heal. He would heal. Nothing would affect him if he tried hard enough. He had to steel himself. This would have to be no different than steeling himself to murdering people in times of war. He had to do it to keep moving on.
The psychiatrist sighed again, "Alright Cloud. If you're going to stay quiet, then you may go. But I want you back here again tomorrow at the same time. You are to come everyday until you talk. After that, we'll change to twice a week. Keep in mind, Cloud, all that's at stake for not talking. Do you really want to throw everything you've worked hard for this past year to go to waste? Think hard on it. I'll see you tomorrow."
Cloud slowly rose, avoiding looking at the psychiatrist at all costs. As he made his way sluggishly through the psychiatric ward, he glanced at the other people waiting. It was customary for all workers to be psychologically examined before a promotion was enacted fully. People also came in at least twice a year in the Regulation army, and once a month in SOLDIER. The others from his cadet group were scheduled to come in later in the afternoon. The higher priority patients had appointments in the morning.
Cloud took note that there were several of the well known Soldiers there—the heroes of SOLDIER. He stopped, however, when a tall figure walked past him and into the room he'd just exited, not believing his eyes. He looked back at the door, trying to see through it. If he'd just seen correctly, that had been the general. The general. Sephiroth was going in to see a psychiatrist, not a psychologist. The man was in a class of his own—S1, the highest class attainable and the only one to ever have it since it was created especially for him.
After a few moments of staring, Cloud regained enough sense and began walking again. He had things he had to do involving moving. He was going from one barrack to another in a relatively short amount of time and he needed to talk to his commanding officers. He had missed the dinner last night and therefore did not know what he was entering the army as and where he would be housed. ShinRa kept the ranks obsessively organized. People were sorted into living arrangements by their job first, then position, then finally by class.
But Sephiroth was still on his mind. The beautiful but deadly creature had gone to the same psychiatrist that he was being forced to see. The man was obviously the most important and powerful man on the face of Gaia, yet he and Sephiroth were sharing the same psychiatrist. Did that mean that they were giving Cloud a higher priority than he had originally thought, or perhaps that Sephiroth had wanted to play down his visits with someone used for lower ranks? Whatever the reason, it had Cloud puzzled enough to almost walk right past his destination.
Author's Note: So I'd really appreciate some reviews for this. I'm a little nervous about the reception of this, and I'd like to know y'all's feelings on how I approached this. Rape is a touchy subject and God forbid that I use it lightly like any other author.