Glass Prison

Summary: In which Zack pisses Sephiroth off...

Focus: Zack, Cloud, Sephiroth, non-yaoi (or mostly so)

It's quiet, Cloud thought as he took a light break from his studies, too quiet.

He narrowed his eyes in thought as he stretched muscles that were cramped and stiff from being hunched over his desk and books. Today had started off normal enough, he decided, closing the tactics textbook as he stood.

He'd woken up at five for a shower, then gotten dressed and settled down for a quick thirty minute study session before waking Zack up at six by snatching the covers off him. The usual grumbling and whining response had ensued, while Cloud had simply ignored it and thrown his boyfriend's SOLDIER outfit at him before gathering his backpack and heading to class. Or had at least tried to go to class, since he'd been tackled from behind and squeezed against a sleep-warmed chest by broad arms and smothered in kisses until his toes had started curling in his boots.

Just like any other day.

Zack's habits and annoyances were nothing if not reliable, so Cloud was entitled to his suspicions as to why the spiky-headed First Class hadn't dropped into one of his classes or ambushed him in the hallway today. The last time this unnatural quiet had happened, it had been Cloud's birthday and he had foolishly believed that he had been abandoned until he'd seen the enormous cake in the apartment, then had been blindfolded from behind and screwed senseless for the rest of the night.

Another of these rare occurrences had happened near Christmas as well. Zack had been out Christmas shopping all that day, and Cloud had been happy for the quiet, but after awhile, he had started missing his boyfriend's useless chattering and affectionate touches. Of course, he'd sorta changed his mind when he'd gotten a look at all the Christmas costumes Zack had planned on them role-playing in, but that was another story.

But right now, it was mid-October and nowhere near his birthday or Christmas, so where did that leave him?

Usually, if Zack had a mission, then he'd call on his PHS and let Cloud know where he was or when he'd be back. So when his physical training class came and went, and there was still no sign of Zack, Cloud decided to go looking for his boyfriend, not because he was lonely and missing Zack, but because the idiot could have gotten himself into all kinds of trouble without Cloud around to keep him occupied.

Right. He'd just keep telling himself that.

Wondering just how pathetic he was, Cloud grabbed the spare keycards for entrance to Zack's office on the 49th floor and the floor elevators, then headed off to look for Zack, his curiosity ablaze as he tromped through the ShinRa building.

The ride on the elevator to the SOLDIER offices was brief, as well as the walk to the General's office, so Cloud stood nervously in front of the door for a moment, hoping that Sephiroth wasn't in, before sliding the keycard and entering the door.

A cursory look revealed the utter chaos that was Zack's desk, piled high with undone paperwork; a quick sideways glance revealed that Sephiroth's office door was closed and the faint sound of typing and pen scratching across paper told that he was busy. There was a carefully printed note in the General's handwriting pinned to the door that read, "When my General tells me to stay out of the way, I must obey or suffer the consequences."

That didn't look too promising.

A long visual search of the office revealed the Buster Sword perfectly set in its wall hooks; that showed that Zack was in the process of working and had either stepped out for a moment to escape General Sephiroth, or gone out for a quick bite.

In any case, Cloud figured that since Zack had so much work to do, then he'd eventually have to come back from wherever he was and pick up his office a bit.

"Yeah right," Cloud scoffed to himself out loud. The typing in the next room suddenly ceased, and Cloud was sure that Sephiroth was probably aware of him and analyzing him through the door, but the moment passed and the stead clicking of the keyboard continued. A loud clink rang out, causing Cloud to look at the window, but when nothing revealed itself, he shrugged it off as Sephiroth drinking a bit of coffee and went around the chair part of Zack's desk to seat himself.

"Might as well clean this mess up," he muttered, picking up the first haphazardly spread papers and neatly straightening them into stacks. When Cloud had put the first stack to the side and was starting on another one, that odd clink had echoed again, but this time, it was consistent and consecutive tapping that sounded like someone was tapping a fingernail against glass or a bug was bashing its brains out against a window sill. Another glance at the window revealed the polluted Midgar sky, so either he was imagining it, or the General was tapping out an annoying tempo on his coffee cup.

Determined to ignore it and finish what he'd started, Cloud gave the clock on his boyfriend's wall an assessing look, estimating that Zack might be back by the time he finished.

Twenty minutes later, one stack had grown into ten neat little piles that Cloud had avoided reading for the sake of military confidence, but there was still no sign of Zack. That annoying clinking sound had faded after the first five minutes, only to start up in earnest with irregular thumps placed throughout the frantic beat.

"What the hell is that?" Cloud wondered out loud, hoping that the sound of his voice would catch Sephiroth's attention. Oddly enough, the sound of typing paused again, but that frantic sound only got louder and more pronounced, like a moth beating itself against a light bulb.

Something on Zack's bookshelf thumped, making Cloud jerk his head around to regard the dusty piece of furniture. The wary cadet watched as the shelf gave another thump and rattle a bit as he approached; a second later, the clinking sound started up again, and he noticed immediately that the closer he got to the shelf, the louder the sound became.

Cautiously, he crept up to the shelf and peeked at the lower shelves; nothing odd there. He stood on his toes to glance at a higher shelf and nearly jumped out of his skin as a loud thump lightly rattled the shelf next to his face. His heart skittered in alarm as he craned his neck to regard the source of the noise.

A miniature Zack was staring back at him from behind a wide, basket-sized glass bowl, a sheepish grin on his animated face.

Cloud gaped in shock as an impatient-looking Zack gestured at himself and tapped on the glass he was under; the clinking sound was bright and clear, but the only thing Cloud could think was, 'So it wasn't the General after all.'

Carefully, Cloud lifted the unusually heavy glass from over his boyfriend's miniature form and set it to the side on the shelf.

"Cloooooouuuud!" Zack whined pathetically in a thin, high wail. "Tell me you have a Mini or Dispel materia on you, Cloudy."

The blonde haired boy slowly shook his head and asked hesitantly, "Zack…? Why exactly are you like this and who did this to you?"

Zack's grin was just a little too bright, but Cloud merely eyed him until the grin turned sheepish. "Well…I kinda messedupdapperworknpisdsafoff."

"Come again?"

"I said that I, uh, kinda messed up a stack of paperwork and pissed Seph off," he muttered, lightly scratching the back of his head.

Cloud sighed. "Again, Zack? I was wondering what the note was about, but this is just getting ridiculous. Last time he locked you out of the office, but this time he shrunk you; you had to have done something bad for him to do something like this."

"That's the thing…I sorta spilled coffee on some important papers that he'd been working on all night, so…now he has do them over and finish them before six."

Cloud glanced at the clock—five o'clock—then rolled his eyes heavenward and muttered, "Only you, Zack. You know how much the General hates paperwork. You're lucky you weren't skewered by Masamune."

Zack's pout was cute, but not nearly cute enough to distract Cloud; he gave Zack a calculating look. "How long have you been like that?"

Zack looked out from his position on the shelf at the clock. "About two hours."

"Two hours?! Is that even possible?" Cloud wondered, both awed and disturbed by Sephiroth's magical prowess; usually, a Mini spell would only last for about half an hour, but this clearly wasn't the case for the General.

Zack wasn't quite as impressed. "It was mastered," he muttered sullenly.

Cloud tried to hold it in, really, he did, but the snickering turned into full blown laughter, while Zack looked on with a hurt pout. Finally, he managed to bring it back down to light snickers. "I'm-I'm sorry, but it's just..." he made a vague gesture from himself to the older teen before snickering again.

"Some friend you are!" Zack cried, pointing an accusing finger at the red-faced blond. When his only response was more laughter, he huffed and muttered, "Just get me down from here, Spike."

Deciding to take pity on his sulking boyfriend, Cloud carefully lifted Zack by the back of his uniform vest, ignoring the vocal protests—"jeez, just rip my uniform off why dontcha!"—as he unceremoniously dumped Zack onto his shoulder. It took the older boy a moment, but he managed to find his footing on the thin shoulder and wrap his hands in the fabric of his scarf and hang on for dear life.

"Great, I've been demoted to shoulder angel," the sullen First muttered.

"More like demon," Cloud corrected as he started gathering his things and walking towards the office door. More than likely, he'd have to rummage around the apartment for one of Zack's mastered Dispels if this spell stayed active any longer.

An delighted grin spread across the brunette's face as he thoughtfully looked up at Cloud. "At least I get to whisper sweet nothings and naughty advice in your ear," he said mischievously.

Cloud sighed.

It was gonna be a long night.

QNC: I couldn't resist! XD Btw, check out my LJ (same penname) for more shorts and ficclets, some might even be completed smut scenes for other stories! *sparkles*