Here's a random fic I came up with. Big thanks to Tobi-Uchiha for helping me out a lot with this one! ^^ And thanks to everyone who's been reading and reviewing my other stories!
WARNING: Angeal OOC and SephxCloud.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing.
"You really did it now, Cloud."
The SOLDIER lounge went completely silent as everyone turned to gawk at Angeal, who had suddenly appeared in the doorway. After a few moments, the attention shifted to the frightened little cadet he was talking to.
Cloud felt as if he'd been punched in the gut. "W-what did I do?" He squeaked, his wide eyes fixed on Angeal.
"I dunno, man," Angeal shrugged, giving Cloud a sympathetic look. "But Lazard says you're being expelled from ShinRa. He wants you at his office by four."
Cloud went numb all over. The words echoed in his mind, blocking out all his other thoughts. Expelled from ShinRa. Expelled from ShinRa.
"Whaaat?" Zack leapt to his feet, outraged. "Expelled?"
"Yeah," Angeal answered grimly. "I'm really sorry, Cloud."
Cloud stared down at the floor, too shocked to respond.
"For what?" Zack demanded, then yanked Cloud to his feet and wrapped his arms around his shoulders. "What could my little Cloud have ever done to get kicked out of ShinRa?" Zack wailed. "I mean, just look at him! How could someone this cute and adorable cause any trouble?"
Cloud was stunned. He stood there in a trance, with Zack draped around his shoulders as Angeal's words began to sink in. Expelled from ShinRa. He, Cloud Strife, hopeful future SOLDIER member, was being expelled from ShinRa.
"That's it!" Zack growled suddenly, releasing Cloud from his grip. "I'm gonna march down the right now and find out what this is all about!" He grabbed Cloud's arm and dragged him over to the door.
Angeal's huge frame blocked his path. "Zack, wait. It's not worth arguing with Lazard. Believe me, I already tried. But he's made up his mind."
Zack looked away and let go of Cloud's arm.
"It's okay, Zack," Cloud answered softly after a long silence.
Zack whirled around to face him. "It's not okay, Cloud," he snapped. "What about your dream to become a SOLDIER? You're just gonna give up that easily?"
"You heard Angeal. The Director made up his mind," Cloud argued. "I'm gonna go pack." His voice cracked on the last word.
Angeal stepped aside to let Cloud through, patting him sympathetically on the back. After a few moments, Zack followed behind him.
"Want some help?" Zack offered glumly as they started down the hallway.
"Sure," Cloud answered, turning to face him.
Zack sighed in frustration, but it went unnoticed by Cloud. How could he be so calm? His dream of becoming a SOLDIER had just been crushed. But Cloud wasn't throwing a fit or anything.
Zack frowned. "I still think Lazard's out of his friggin' mind." He shoved his hands into his pockets.
Without warning, Cloud spun around, a bewildered look on his face.
"I don't even know what I did wrong!" Cloud wailed, grabbing onto Zack's shirt. Zack jumped, taken aback. "Maybe it's because of that one time in training we were supposed to do 100 pushups and I ran out of time and only did 98!"
"Cloud, I don't think-" Zack tried to comfort him, but it was too late.
"Or maybe it was that time I copied the wrong paper for the Director!" Cloud gasped, releasing Zack's shirt and covering his mouth with his hands. "I bet he was sooo mad because I wasted all that paper! Or maybe it's because of those new combat boots I bought-"
"CLOUD!" Zack grabbed his friend roughly by the shoulders. "C'mon. You wouldn't get expelled for any of that."
"But I haven't done anything else wrong!" Cloud protested.
"Cloud, trust me. If any of those little things could get you expelled from ShinRa, I would have been out of here a while ago."
Cloud sighed, hanging his head low. "Shoot," he muttered. "Now I won't be able to get close to the General."
Zack's face fell. For a moment, he had forgotten about Cloud's secret crush on Sephiroth. Zack sympathetically looked down at Cloud as he shrugged him off and continued down the hall.
Suddenly, Zack got an idea.
"Hey, Cloud," Zack called to him, quickening his pace to catch up to his dejected little friend.
"Yeah?" Cloud asked as he swung the door open to his room.
"I've decided that I'm gonna help you have your best day at ShinRa today." He grinned his mischievous smile. "Whaddaya say?"
Cloud gave a tiny smile. "Sounds fun. What are we going to do?"
"Hmm…" Zack thought for a moment. Then it hit him. A grin spread across his face. "I know exactly what we're going to do."
Cloud and Zack thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon. They turned all the taps on and stole the toilet paper from the executive bathrooms. They unscrewed the salt caps in the cafeteria. They prank-called the secretary until she screamed a barrage of profanities through the receiver. They squirted ketchup into Genesis's coffee when he wasn't looking. They stole Tseng's car keys off his desk and re-parked his car across the parking lot. They even threw a tomato at the President when his back was turned. After each prank, Cloud felt some of that weight on his heart lift, and he was more at ease with being expelled. He was gonna make sure that ShinRa remembered Cloud Strife.
After they had successfully committed every prank they could think of, there was still one left. Ultimate Prank, Zack had called it. The prank he had been saving up for the perfect time. And that time was now.
The Research hallway was completely deserted as Zack and Cloud scurried to the lab's door. After taking a few precautious looks around, Zack punched in the code on the keypad on the door, and it swung open to let them inside.
"This is gonna be sooo fun," Zack snickered, taking a look around the lab. "Can you imagine Hojo's face when he finds out all his monsters are running around ShinRa?"
Cloud laughed. "Yeah."
Zack was surprised at Cloud. Usually he would be scolding Zack and warning him about how much trouble they were going to be in once they got caught. But this time, Cloud was going along with his pranks without any sort of resistance. Rebel Cloud, Zack thought to himself.
"Here we go." Zack made his way across the lab. Lined up against the wall were numerous cages, all ranging in size. Each one contained a ferocious, snarling monster.
"Which ones are we gonna let out?" Cloud asked, coming over to help. Cloud Strife, offering to help Zack in one of the biggest pranks they would ever pull. Zack grinned. He couldn't believe it. Cloud had finally joined him on the Dark Side.
Zack turned to face him, smirking. "Duhhh. All of them!"
Cloud grinned. "Right."
Zack slapped Cloud on the back. "This is the ultimate prank, you know. I was gonna save it for another time, but…" Zack's voice trailed off. He left his sentence like that, not wanting to ruin the mood. "So we can't mess this up, okay?"
"Yeah," Cloud answered as he studied the monsters in their cages. "So how do we get the cages open?"
"I think there's a panel next to you," Zack pointed out, and Cloud turned to his left. "That big green button, probably."
"Got it. Ready?" Cloud asked his left hand hovering over the button.
Zack dashed to the opposite corner of the room to give the monsters a clear path. "GO!" He screamed.
Cloud's hand came down on the button. The button lit up, and a few moments later the cage doors slid open. Cloud grinned in anticipation as the monsters were released into the lab. The Ultimate Prank had begun.
There had to be at least a hundred or so of them. As soon as each monster was released it bolted for the exit, screeching or growling or spitting flames as it went. Once every monster had made it out of the lab (Zack had needed to chase a few of the dumber monsters out), Zack and Cloud raced outside to see the fruits of their labor.
The halls of ShinRa were now in utter chaos. Everywhere Zack and Cloud looked, monsters were destroying everything in sight and terrorizing people in the process.
Hojo ran into the midst of the chaos, a bewildered expression on his face. Not long after, Lazard stormed up to him, visibly shaking with anger. His temper only got worse as a flying monster decided it would be fun to yank at his hair.
Zack and Cloud cracked up at the sight, leaning against the wall and each other so they wouldn't collapse to the ground.
"Lazard is sooo pissed!" Zack cried as Lazard started yelling and screaming and even hurling a few swears into his lecture at Hojo. Hojo nodded and apologized repeatedly, but he was now at Lazard's mercy.
"Ahhh, that was fun," Zack sighed, wiping a tear from his eye. His sides were in agony from laughing so hard. "We better get going so we don't get caught," he pointed out.
"Right," Cloud answered, his smile disappearing as he glanced down at his watch. Three o'clock. He had only one more hour before his days at ShinRa would be over. "C'mon, let's go."
"You all set, Cloud?" Zack asked as Cloud took one last look around his room.
"Yeah," Cloud sighed, picking up his suitcase. "Bye, room."
Zack watched helplessly as Cloud trudged out of his room. Cloud didn't deserve to get kicked out of ShinRa. The only person he could think of that would fit into that category would be Angeal or even Genesis, but not Cloud.
They walked silently down the hall for a few moments, both too upset to say anything.
"We…we can still hang out and stuff, right?" Cloud asked, breaking the unbearable silence.
Zack patted him on the head. "Sure." Then he sighed and looked away. "I'm really gonna miss seeing you here, though."
"Me too," Cloud answered. Then, to Zack's surprise, he smiled. "Thanks for today, Zack. It was fun."
"No problem," Zack grinned. "Glad to help."
Cloud smiled sadly to himself. He tried to enjoy his last few minutes at ShinRa. He observed everything in the hall carefully so that he could commit it to memory. He didn't want to forget what anything looked like.
Something in the corner of his eye caught Cloud's attention. He came to a slow stop in the middle of the hallway, across from the General's office.
"Zack?" Cloud asked, resting his suitcase on the ground. "Can you wait a minute?"
Zack turned around, a puzzled expression on his face. Then he saw the name plaque on the door and immediately understood. "Sure."
"Thanks," Cloud gave his friend a small smile. Taking a deep breath, he marched up to the door confidently. This was his fanal chance to talk to the General, to tell him how he really felt. He raised a fist to the door and knocked.
"Come in," he heard the General call to him, and Cloud shuddered in anxiety. He wasn't quite sure what he was going to say to the General just yet, but he couldn't pass up his last opportunity. It was now or never.
Cloud pushed the door open slowly. He held his breath as his eyes rested on the General, who was seated at his desk in the center of the room. He pushed his rimless glasses up further on his nose as he looked up from the paper he was writing. Pen still gripped in his hand, he looked up at Cloud expectantly.
Confidence surging through his body, Cloud took a deep breath.
"General Sephiroth," Cloud addressed him, making direct eye contact, "Before I leave ShinRa today, I have something to tell you." Cloud gulped. The confidence flowing through him seemed to be slowing to a halt. "I-I've always admired you!" Cloud clenched his hands into fists. "As…as more than a General. And…and…" He paused for a moment, unsure of what to say next. But before he knew it, he found himself blurting out all his innermost feelings.
"You're everything to me!" Cloud was no longer in control of himself; his emotions were. This was his last chance, and goddamn it, he was going to make it count! He leapt forward and slammed his hands down onto the desk, causing the General's coffee to slosh over and spill. Oops. But he didn't care. He just wanted the General to understand him. "I wanna make you happy and go on picnics and have adventures and make you soup when you're sick and brush your hair for you! Sir, I…I…I love you!"
Cloud couldn't believe what had just came out of his mouth. He paused for a few moments, recovering from the shock.
"But…but if you don't feel the same way," Cloud continued, regaining some control over himself again, "That's fine. I just wanted you to know that."
After finishing his confession that he had been holding inside him for so long, Cloud backed away from the desk, horribly embarrassed by what he had just said. Every thought and feeling he had towards the General, he had just blurted out in less than five minutes. But now that Sephiroth knew about his true feelings, he felt somewhat at ease.
Cloud wasn't sure what to expect from the General, bracing himself for his reaction.
Sephiroth stared back at Cloud silently, his mouth forming a tiny "O." The pen he held slipped through his fingers and clattered to the desk, smudging ink all over the paper had had been writing. His glasses slid back down his nose, but he didn't bother to adjust them.
Sephiroth's reaction didn't faze Cloud at all. He had finally told the object of his affections about his true feelings. That's all that mattered to Cloud.
"Thank you, sir!" Cloud bowed. He took one last look at the stunned General before marching back over to the door.
Cloud breathed a sigh of relief as he shut the door behind him. Zack perked up and dashed over to Cloud.
"How did it go? What did he say?" Zack fired a stream of questions at him.
"Nothing," Cloud answered as he picked up his suitcase from the middle of the hallway. "Let's go."
After a few more minutes of walking, Cloud and Zack finally reached Lazard's office.
"Do…do you want me to stay out here?" Zack asked.
"Y-yeah," Cloud choked out as he stared at the door, trying to savor his last few moments as a Cadet.
"I'll wait here." Zack patted his back.
Cloud smiled sadly. "Thanks, Zack."
And with that, he disappeared into Lazard's office.
"Cloud!" Lazard greeted him from behind his desk. "There you are. Are you ready?"
"Y-yes, sir." Cloud answered sadly.
Lazard smiled. "Are you excited?"
Cloud did a double take, not quite sure he had heard the Director correctly. "No, sir. I really want to stay here at ShinRa."
Now it was Lazard's turn to be confused. "But everyone is always excited to go on vacation."
Cloud froze. "V-vacation?" He asked, bewildered. What the heck was going on?
"Didn't you know?" Lazard inquired, puzzled. "Angeal asked if I would make an exception and let you come along on the SOLDIER vacation."
Cloud was now horribly confused. "But…but Angeal said," he stuttered, "H-he said you were expelling me from ShinRa."
To add to Cloud's confusion, Lazard laughed. "Why would I ever expel you, Cloud? You've never done anything wrong, and I doubt you would ever." He glanced up at the clock on the wall briefly. "I called you down here a bit early to discuss a possible promotion to SOLDIER, Cloud. Your performance over the past few months has been outstanding."
Cloud was listening to Lazard's words, but none of it was making sense. He wasn't being expelled from ShinRa? Then why had Angeal told he was?
The answer came to Cloud as he caught a glimpse of the day-by-day calendar hanging on the wall. He examined the calendar more closely and read the date: April 1st.
April Fool's Day.
Cloud's entire body went completely numb. It had all been a prank. A cruel, heartless prank. The numb feeling in his body died away as rage took its place, filling Cloud up to the brim. He stood there silently, fuming.
"Um, Director?" The door swung open and Angeal appeared, rubbing the back of his neck. Cloud whirled around, taken by surprise. Before the door closed, Cloud caught a brief glimpse of an astonished-looking Zack outside the office. "Has Cloud been here yet? I think he took my April Fool's joke way too seriously…oh, crap."
His eyes rested on the Cadet in front of him, shaking with outrage as he glared up at him. Angeal half-expected flames to shoot out of his eyes.
Cloud snapped. In a blind fit of fury, he screamed at the top of his lungs and chased Angeal out of the office, swearing and yelling as he went.
Cloud ignored his commander as he plopped himself down in the next open bus seat.
"Awww, Cloud," Angeal whined, "I said I was sorry. You're not gonna be mad at me the whole trip, are you?"
Cloud "hmmph-ed" in reply and scooted towards the window, crossing his arms. As far as he was concerned, he was going to stay mad at Angeal for the rest of the month.
"Cloud!" Zack leaned over his seat to talk to him, blocking Angeal from Cloud's view. "I'm sooo sorry I didn't tell you about the vacation! I totally forgot about it until Lazard reminded me this afternoon." He patted Cloud on the head. "It's awesome you get to come along! I had no idea."
"It's okay, Zack. I sort of figured you forgot," Cloud answered, smiling.
"Ohhh, so you forgive him but not me-"
"Shaddup!" Zack snapped. "He has every freakin' right to be pissed at you-"
"Excuse me?" A cool voice interrupted the argument. Zack and Angeal gaped in surprise.
Cloud looked up from the window to find Sephiroth standing before him, pointing to the empty seat next to him.
"May I sit here?" Sephiroth asked politely, his eyes locked with Cloud's.
"S-sure," Cloud stammered, wishing he could just sink through the seat. Now that Cloud wasn't being expelled, he felt horribly embarrassed by the confession he'd given Sephiroth only hours ago.
Please don't talk about it, Cloud begged. Please please PLEASE don't talk about it…
"So, about what you told me earlier," Sephiroth started, shifting uncomfortably.
Cloud wanted to die. "Y-yes?" He squeaked, still locked in the General's enchanting gaze.
"Well, it was very brave of you," Sephiroth replied, a faint smile forming on his lips. Cloud studied his face. Was the General teasing him?
Cloud didn't think his vacation could get any worse from here. They hadn't even gotten there yet, but already it was horrible. Cloud was too embarrassed to feel any sort of happiness that his crush was sitting right next to him.
"And I should let you know," Sephiroth said, lowering his voice, and inching his face closer to Cloud's, "That I admire you, too…as more than a Cadet."
…Maybe Cloud's vacation wouldn't be so bad after all.
Thanks so much for reading! Hope you liked it ^^.