Woot, this is for Shirosenshi Kisetsu 116! Zack/Cloud, once again. This thing took awhile to churn out--sorry about that! But, better now than never, I guess. So, you people should totally tell me your favorite product that Zack sells. Personally, I'm a fan of the Señor Sephiroth's Sombrero Station bit. :P Enjoy, everyone!
Disclaimer: I don't own FFVII. ;.;
Cloud wasn't an expensive person. He didn't buy many frivolous things. He didn't wear that flashy, expensive designer clothing. His bedroom could almost be called Spartan. Almost.
So when there was a knock at the door, and after he got up and peered through the peephole, he sighed. It was one of them—those annoying door-to-door salesmen that wanted to make him buy pointless shit.
He had absolutely no intention to buy anything, but he figured he'd let them do their little spiel and get it out of their system. He was nice like that.
Cloud tentatively opened the door, his natural shyness bubbling up to the surface. But this was still his house, dammit—he stood a little bit straighter and looked the person on the doorstep in the eye.
The peephole really didn't do the man justice. What was once a colorful blur was now a living, breathing, gorgeous man.
…In one of the most hideous suits ever.
But still, this particular salesman was a looker: dark spikes poking out from under a cheesy, stupid-looking hat; sparkling pale blue eyes that nearly glowed; pleasant, tanned skin…
"…Can I help you?" Cloud asked nervously, self-conscious.
The salesman held out a hand and winked at him. "Yo! I'm Zack Fair. Nice to meetcha."
Cloud extended a hand warily, unable to tear his eyes away from the man's face. Zack grabbed it and shook it wildly, saying, "I'm a representative of Shin-Ra Vacuums, locally owned and operated by the very finest vacuum professionals. You look like the kind of smart, intelligent guy who could use a vacuum—you handsome dog, you—and for the small price of 39.95 Gil (in three separate payments), you can have one of Shin-Ra's elite vacuums for your very own-"
Obviously, Cloud took in none of it. He was focused on how Zack had never let go of his hand, and how he was holding it in between them, gently squeezing every so often with excitement.
Cloud slowly took his hand back, holding it to his chest. Zack stopped complimenting him and blabbering about vacuums when he did.
There was a slight pause, and Cloud squinted one eye shut, tilting his head.
"Umm," he began, staring at the odd, yellow and pink-checkered suit that the man before him was wearing, "…I already have a vacuum."
Zack flicked the matching hat off his head and started playing with it. Without missing a beat he replied, "A Shin-Ra vacuum?"
Cloud turned around and checked his house for his vacuum on instinct, not really knowing why he did so. He frowned. "I don't think so," he said, facing the man again. Fair had stealthily stepped closer when his back was turned, and Cloud eeped and jumped back. Their noses had almost been touching, for crying out loud!
"Then you need a replacement," Zack said, jabbing a slender finger into his chest. "Shin-Ra vacuums pick up ninety-nine-point-three-percent of dust and require no filters or-"
"Thanks, but no thanks," Cloud interrupted. The sun was shining; he wanted to go work in his garden some time that day, and he couldn't very well do that if there was a random guy hanging around. He had to make this snappy.
Zack didn't seem deterred. "You won't regret it! Shin-Ra vacuums are worth their weight in materia, my friend! They've won first place in the vacuums weekly top-ten vacuum awards, and I for one think tha-"
"I don't want to buy a vacuum," Cloud said, a bit of force in his tone. He inched backwards and casually put a hand on the doorframe, preparing to shut it in the guy's face (it didn't matter if he was hot—Cloud needed to eat lunch some time that day).
A wide grin broke out on Zack's face. "Does that mean you do want to? I think it does! Shin-Ra vacuums come fully-equipped with an eco-friendly, five-point-four centimeter engine-"
"I'm not gonna buy anything!" Cloud burst, taking a big step into the house. Zack opened his mouth to say something else, but Cloud slammed the door shut, cutting him off.
Cloud locked it twice, even with the little chain. He could sort of hear Zack through the wood, speaking like he was still there.
What a freak, Cloud thought. He scurried away from the door, hoping the stupid—but sexy—salesman wasn't peering in the windows.
It was kind of weird. He rarely got people like him on his doorstep—maybe only once or twice before. Huh. Odd.
Cloud fixed himself a sandwich, and plopped down in front of the T.V. He had always sympathized with them; having jobs where you constantly got turned down (like being a telemarketer) must've sucked. But really… if they were all as obnoxious as that Zack one, then they kinda deserved it all.
When he eventually went back to the door and peeked outside, Fair was gone.
- - - - - - - - - -
"Uh-huh. Yeah…really? Yesterday some guy tried to sell me one of those."
Cloud flitted about his tiny house, trying to clean while listening to Tifa's woes through one ear. Apparently her vacuum had broke—if he ever saw that guy again, he'd tell him to swing by her place.
Tifa chattered on, and Cloud smiled fondly. But he had things to do, and eventually said, "Teef? I gotta go."
"Aww… well, okay. I'll stop by some time next week, okay?"
Cloud plopped the phone on the receiver and picked up a basket of laundry, balancing it against his hip. It was Sunday, and he planned on getting some work done. The previous day's gardening hadn't exactly counted in his mind. He had only managed to get half a load in the washer when his doorbell rang.
Sighing, Cloud made his way towards the door. He wasn't going to buy any girl scout cookies, peanut butter and caramel or no peanut butter and caramel. He ran a hand through his spikes and mussed them, annoyed.
He opened the door and nearly fell over.
It was the same guy from yesterday. Cloud had forgotten his name, but he remembered that irritating, yet unbelievably charming smile.
Zack stuck out a hand. He was dressed in a hideous, knitted-by-grandma sweater vest over what looked like overalls. Cloud wanted to be sick.
"I'm Zack Fair," he said smoothly, grabbing Cloud's limp hand and manually moving it up and down. "I'm from Kunsel's Lawn Services, here to tell you how you can have the one-of-a-kind yard that beats all your neighbors'!"
Cloud hadn't blinked for almost half a minute. Slowly, his lips turned down at the corners, and he opened his mouth to speak. Zack beat him to it though: "At Kunsel's Lawn Services, we offer a wide variety of products. Would you like to see, Sir?"
Zack bent, and thrust a repulsive-looking lawn gnome in his face. "This is Angeal. One of our most popular grass dwarves…"
… ''Grass dwarves?'
'Angeal' disappeared, and a pink flamingo was suddenly clucking around in his face. Cloud was too weirded out to tell the man that a flamingo wasn't a chicken.
"We also specialize in tasteful, rose-colored birds made of 150 percent recycled aluminum—er, I mean, plastic. Look! They can even dance if you wave them around!"
Zack started a beat, accidentally spraying spit between them. The flamingo spun around and balanced on its head, and Cloud realized what it was doing: Zack was making it break-dance.
Cloud took a step back from the quite possibly crazy man. He cleared his throat and said awkwardly, "Uh… have we met before?"
Fair brightened and stood straighter. "No, Sir! I don't ever recall seeing you before! And you can trust me—I've gotta mind like a steel trap!"
The inside of the blond's cheek was bit gently in thought. "…Are you sure?"
"Positively," Zack answered gravely. "Now, Kunsel's Lawn Services—every product bought by you will enter you in a contest to win a retreat to gorgeous Costa del Sol! Isn't that just totally awesome?"
Cloud was still hung up on the fact that this guy was pretending to never have met him before, let alone that he was somehow representing a different business.
"All you have to do is buy something," Zack informed him. "I have a copy of our extensive catalog—made from recycled paper, of course—and you just have to write your name, address, sexual preference, email, day phone number and credit card number for us to ship you one of our special grass dwarves, gargoyles or lawn decorations! Isn't that great? Your purchase will arrive in approximately fourteen weeks, which really isn't all that long if you think of something to do in the meantime. You look interested—I'll go get the catalog, okay? Stay here!"
After saying most of that in one breath, Cloud was surprised Zack wasn't lightheaded or panting. (The bit about 'sexual preference' was kind of weird, though, he mused.) The man jogged away, holding up a finger for him to wait. Cloud peered out from around the doorframe, absently scratching his thigh. What kind of door-to-door salesman was this man? He wasn't heading towards a car—or, if he was, it wasn't one near his house. Zack was currently tripping over his neighbor's fence; he was cutting across people's yards.
Quietly, Cloud stepped back and shut the door. Whenever that guy came back, he did not want to be present.
Cloud double-locked the door, pulled all the curtains shut and turned off the lights. He sat, curled up on the couch, unable to relax. Wide blue eyes watched the door for signs of Fair's arrival. Cloud just hoped that he wouldn't show up with an axe or chainsaw or something.
Sure enough, Zack appeared after a while. The loud "Fuck!" probably could have been heard the next town over. Alarmed, Cloud slid off his couch and went to the phone, getting ready to call the police if the need arose.
There were a few loud knocks and a voice said, "Helloooo?"
Cloud didn't answer. He was just about to finally dial the cops when the noises stopped. Cloud hurried to the door and moved the window covering over a fraction that was too small to be noticed by any crazy salesman, but enough that he could see outside. Zack was marching away down the street, arms crossed. He was definitely unhappy.
Shrugging, Cloud went back to hiding. You never could be too careful with those whacko types.
- - - - - - - - - -
Over the next few weeks, Cloud got increasingly worried. It had been weird and somewhat amusing at first, but now it was just plain scary. Every day after work, Zack was there, waiting for him. Every day on the weekends, he would show up around lunchtime.
And every time he showed up, he was from some new 'business,' trying to sell him some random product. Cloud didn't think Zack had caught on yet… but he wasn't going to buy any of the complete crap he sold.
So far, Zack had tried to sell him pencil grips. Traffic cones. Butterfly nets. Peanut butter, socks and extension cords. Tissues. Post-Its. Sidewalk chalk. Plastic vampire teeth. Those little plastic shoelace tips. Ping-pong paddles. Ash trays. That weird leg lamp from A Christmas Story. Once he had showed up in full baseball uniform and had tried to get him to buy some of 'Rhapsodos's famous baseball bats.'
But even though he was a bit afraid for his life, Cloud sort-of looked forward to Zack's visits (for now, anyway). Even though he wore hideous clothes he was never an eyesore, and the things he did were kind of funny.
Cloud was waiting for Zack to show up one Saturday, chewing his lunch in the kitchen and staring out the window. The development he lived in was a new one—all the houses looked exactly the same, and he hated that. That was why he had painted his baby blue a while ago, stuck his motorcycle (another big no-no with the neighbors) in his driveway where all could see, and had decorations tacky enough to rival Zack's out front. (He wasn't an expensive person, but he did occasionally buy some random crap cheap from a garage sale if he saw it, and he was capable of accepting gifts from his friends.) The only other house with any sort of character was one down the street a little. Whoever it was (Cloud wasn't quite familiar with all his new neighbors yet) had painted their house purple. There was a bike out front that was almost as nice as Fenrir, but not quite. There was a hell of a lot of crap out front, though—he wondered if Zack visited that guy, too. He must've been buying everything the salesman sold; most of it looked vaguely familiar.
Cloud's thoughts were interrupted when there was a knock at the door. He smiled and got up to answer it. He opened the door and was nearly knocked over, now having his arms full of giddy, excited female.
"Cloud! I've decided to visit!" Tifa chirped, squeezing the life out of him.
"Oww… hey, Tifa," he greeted, hugging her back and stepping inside. He kicked the door shut with his heel and dragged Tifa into the kitchen, where she snatched some of his pretzels and started speaking rapidly.
"So guess what?" Tifa asked, chewing contentedly.
Cloud humored her, shooting the driveway outside a quick glance.
"I got a new vacuum!"
"…You don't say," Cloud said, distracted.
Tifa started yakking about her new purchase, and Cloud tuned her out. When three sound knocks reached his ears, Cloud stood up, cutting Tifa off mid-sentence. He moseyed out of the room happily, throwing the door open.
Just like he thought—Zack was there. He was dressed in a brightly colored serape and had a little fake mustache glued to his upper lip. He wore a festive-looking sombrero on his head.
"Hola guapo, quieres comprar un sombrero?" Zack asked, whipping it off his head and holding it out. He waggled his eyebrows.
Cloud didn't speak Spanish—he had taken Junish in his high school years—but got the gist of what he was trying to say. Hopefully. He smiled widely but shook his head 'no,' which was what he usually did.
Zack said, looking appalled, "Pourquoi? Er— Por qué?"
"Cloud?" Tifa appeared suddenly, squeezing in between the blond and the doorframe. She noticed Zack and actually flinched, eyes going wide. She looked at Cloud for a long moment. Slowly, Tifa covered her mouth with her hand, obviously amused but not knowing exactly what was going on.
Zack studied them closely, looking back and forth between them. In one quick movement, he ripped off the mustache and spluttered something at the other man.
Cloud had no idea what Zack had said and waited patiently for him to say something more.
Zack held the sombrero limply in his hand and waved it back and forth. He watched Cloud carefully and said the first words to him that didn't have to do with being a door-to-door salesman.
"She your girlfriend?"
Zack nodded his head towards Tifa, eyes unreadable.
Cloud was overcome with shyness. Tifa, really? He might have liked her once upon a time, but not recently. His thoughts were occupied with a certain dark-haired, obnoxious man nowadays.
"Um…no," he answered, shooting Tifa a look. She seemed confused.
"…Oh," Zack said, still studying them. After a moment he shook himself and said, "…Uh. I'm from Señor Sephiroth's Sombrero Station! We specialize in sombreros and love tacos!"
Cloud crossed his arms and gestured for Zack to continue, forcing back an affectionate smile that surely would have given him away. Tifa giggled and took the same stance as Cloud.
Frowning, Zack continued. "Each sombrero is made from one-hundred-percent recycled, uh, stuff. We even give our sombreros to the Wutaiains so they can do the rain dance!"
Tifa was clearly weirded out at the mess of mis-information and confused nationalities and races.
Trying to look interested, Cloud said, "I see."
"And for one payment of 169.95, you can walk around with the hippest hunk of headgear on your head!"
Zack plopped the sombrero on his head, adjusting soft spikes with fingers that were almost as soft, surprisingly. Little decorative beads shook all over the place, making a soft tinkling noise.
"Very cute," Zack said appreciatively, twisting a spike around his finger and laying it against Cloud's cheek.
On the inside, Cloud was freaking out. But all he actually did was blush a little and stutter, "T-Thanks…" He internally winced. Go him for misreading simple comments, eh?
Tifa looked at him curiously.
Zack was silent for a few beats, just smiling.
Oh yeah. Cloud realized what time it was. "…I'm not interested," he said, feigning indifference.
The usual thing happened. Zack tried to convince him to change his mind; Cloud stubbornly refused and started inching inside. He had to tug on Tifa's shirt to get her to follow.
Zack snatched the sombrero off Cloud's head just before the door shut and flashed the blond a last, winning smile.
Cloud smiled too, unable to help it. Tifa took a long look at him and said with a snort, "You're pathetic."
- - - - - - - - - -
After that, Zack's 'products' changed. No longer were there smiley face kitchen magnets and chemistry kits—Cloud had never been exposed to so many sets of handcuffs, ball gags, dildos and bottles of flavored lube in his life. It was embarrassing.
Once his little old lady neighbor—Grizelda—had come out to get the paper and had seen one laughing and one panicked man trying to get the other to take a purple and blue checkered fake penis. She had gone inside and hadn't come out yet.
Really, Zack was getting on his nerves. He still didn't know what the fuck the man was doing at all.
Cloud hated door-to-door salesmen—especially that one obnoxious one named Zack Fair who wouldn't leave him alone.
Whenever Zack showed up, he seriously considered not answering the door. But it seemed his eyes wanted their fill of gazing at the man for the day, and he always ended up unwillingly answering the door and putting up with another 'Fair Session.'
As more time passed, it got harder and harder to escape and be rid of Zack (not that he really wanted to). Zack pleaded and stuck his foot in the doorway so he couldn't close it and invaded his personal space almost constantly.
And Tifa wasn't helping at all; she had listened to his tale about how the spiky-haired man showed up day after day—for whatever reason—and had laughed. Laughed! It wasn't funny!
Cloud was scowling by himself in one of Midgar's many restaurants one day, texting Tifa under the table. She was snickering at him from way over in Kalm—he and his salesman troubles were not a laughing matter, as he had damn well told her, more than once.
He chewed on a (rather tasty) cheeseburger, trying to ignore the men sitting two tables away. Gaia, they were loud.
"I'm telling you—it's the worst idea I've ever heard," said the man who always argued with the loud one. "It's no wonder you haven't gotten anywhere with him yet."
"I agree," said the man with the calmer voice. "If you want someone, you don't just pretend to be a-"
"Oh, c'mon!" wailed the loud one. (His voice sounded familiar, but he wasn't quite sure.) "It's a great idea! You're just jealous you didn't think of it first!"
Cloud sighed, taking a long swig of his soda. It was sort of awkward, sitting by himself, but he really didn't mind. He punched in another message to Tifa, cringing when one of them bellowed, "I'm gonna do him right there in the hallway, Seph!"
Cloud finished his meal in record time, paying the waitress hurriedly. He shoved his phone in his pocket and was dismayed to find that to leave, he'd have to walk past the scary, loud table of possible homosexual rapists.
Cloud turned his head as he passed, and stopped short.
Zack Fair was crammed into one of the restaurant's tiny booths with three other men. He sat in the end seat closest to him, talking animatedly to the others, who he didn't recognize. All four stopped speaking and turned at the same time. Cloud almost squeaked when all sets of eyes focused on him.
Pale blue eyes widened, and there was a split second of silence. The other three stared at Zack, not knowing why he wasn't breathing. Cloud was as stiff as a board, eyes huge.
"CLOUD!" Zack bellowed, jerking in his seat. Cloud gave a little jump and took a quick step back.
Understanding and surprise crossed the other's features.
The one next to Zack, a man a bit older with dark hair, studied Cloud's confused blue eyes and strange blond hair, sending one with red hair a look.
"Oh!" exclaimed the redhead. "You're-!"
The one beside him clapped a hand over his mouth and gave a small shake of his head. Cloud vaguely noted the pretty silver hair that was just about to land in a plate of spaghetti.
Zack bounded out of his seat and was instantly before Cloud, right in his face. Cloud couldn't see anything else besides bouncing black spikes anymore.
"Hey! Nice seeing you here, Cloudy! What's up? Don't mind them, okay? What did you eat for dinner?" Zack placed his hands on Cloud's shoulders and squeezed encouragingly.
Cloud doubted his face had ever been as red in his whole life. Zack was so close, and they were making a scene—
Then he was being manhandled and picked up, and Cloud realized he was half-sitting on Zack's lap, now sitting at the table with the rest of them. It was a tight fit; this restaurant had never been known for having the biggest tables. Heat crawled up his neck, and he blinked at the redhead, who smiled widely at him.
"Hello!" Zack repeated, maybe just for the heck of it.
Cloud ducked his head, trying to hide his furious blush. "…H-Hello Zack," he responded softly, gingerly shifting, trying to get away.
"I know you just ate and stuff, but are you hungry?" Zack gestured to his food, which was some unidentifiable mass of ketchup, meat and shredded cheese. Cloud curled up on himself a little bit and managed a nervous, "No thank you."
Again there was a short silence. Cloud studied the dirty, frayed carpet underneath the table, feeling the others' gazes on him.
"…So," said the silver-haired one, "How do you know Zack— Cloud, was it?"
Cloud looked up. He gave a tentative "uh-huh" to the man's question and glanced at Zack. He was leaning towards him, almost hunched over his back, lips dangerously close to his right ear. I always fall for the touchy-feely ones, Cloud thought miserably. It was always so hard to figure out whether they were touching him for the sake of touching in general, or if they were touching him because they were madly in love with him and wanted in his pants. With Zack, he had an unfortunate hunch it wasn't the second one.
But then he remembered the man's question and realized that the four others had been staring at him as he thought.
He opened his mouth to speak, but stopped before he said something foolish. He glanced at Zack, face on fire, and couldn't have said another word if he wanted to. He averted his eyes and turned his head away from them, trembling slightly in Zack's half-grip.
The redhead snickered quietly, and there was a thump as someone kicked his shin under the table.
"Sephiroth," the man beside Zack said, staring at the silver-haired man, "Don't bother the poor boy." He leant over Zack and smiled warmly at Cloud.
Zack stiffened suddenly, and Cloud blurted, before he could think about it, "Sephiroth—from Señor Sephiroth's Sombrero Station?"
The redhead howled and fell out of the booth, hitting the carpet. Sephiroth covered his face with his hands. The man next to Zack choked on laughter for a moment and then gave a full-bellied laugh like a grandpa, clutching the side of the table. Zack swore.
Cloud tried to squirm away again after thirty seconds of the uncontrollable laughter from the three men, but Zack pulled him back and haphazardly tugged on his leg, so he was now almost straddling him. Cloud was not happy about any of this—practically the whole rest of the restaurant was staring at them.
"Don't laugh at Cloud," Zack said, a pout evident in his voice, "It's not his fault."
"You're right," the man beside Zack said, after a good last 'haw,'"It's all your fault."
"Zack whined, "Angeal!"
"…Aren't you a lawn gnome?" Cloud asked, once again speaking without thinking.
The redhead started all over again. Sephiroth hiccupped behind his hands, and Angeal glared at Zack, not laughing anymore.
"Get up, Genesis," Angeal growled. Sephiroth dragged the redhead by the foot closer to the booth. Luckily, the new name didn't register.
Cloud wilted, hunching in on himself. He wanted to leave leave leave—this was so embarrassing and stupid.
"As I said before," Zack said, jostling him a bit, "Don't mind them. Read any good books lately?"
"Uh… not really, no," Cloud answered, watching Genesis, who looked almost hysterical.
"Oh, that's too bad. I read this really great book last week-"
"No one wants to hear it," Genesis interrupted.
"Fuck you! Anyway, Cloudy, there were, like, these three kids that were, like, trapped on this island-"
"Uh…Zack?" Cloud said. "I've gotta go. I'll see you later."
"Huh?" Zack's eyes were suddenly big and sad, like a puppy's. "Oh—okay. If you have to…"
"I do," Cloud reassured him, finally escaping and scooting off Zack's lap, warm and comfortable as it was. "Bye."
Sephiroth gave him a last, amused glance, and Genesis winked at him. "Bye, cutie," he cooed.
Cloud turned and got the hell out of that restaurant.
- - - - - - - - - -
The anger he felt now hadn't sunk in for a few hours. But when finally did… Cloud became pissed.
He thought it was pretty obvious Zack was playing with him. Making up fake businesses wasn't acceptable (Sephiroth wasn't from a 'Señor Sephiroth's Sombrero Station'—they had laughed at him when he had asked!).
What was Zack's deal, anyway? What was the goddamn point of doing what he was doing? It didn't make any sense!
He didn't dare tell Tifa. She'd only make it worse. He stayed inside for a few days, venturing outside only when he had to make a few deliveries. Whenever Zack showed up, he didn't answer the door. Zack called and knocked repeatedly, but he was ignored.
Cloud was angry. Hurt, too.
Did Zack think he was stupid? Meant to be played with? He wasn't; he wasn't going to put up with it any longer, either.
When Cloud woke up one morning, he was really feeling it. He could do this.
And later, when the usual—though ignored, as of late—knock came, he daintily rose from his seat at the computer and stopped short just outside the door. Cloud took a few breaths, willing the anger he had been bottling up for the past few days to resurface. It did.
The slightly worried frown on Zack's face turned into a wide smile when Cloud appeared. It went back to a frown, though, when Cloud immediately spat, "What the hell is your problem?"
Before Zack could reply, he barked, "Are you playing some sort of game?" He was so livid he could barely speak. "…I…I just don't understand…why would you…?"
He made a disgusted noise and gripped the doorframe. Zack's mouth was hanging open.
"I'm not an idiot! I knew you were weird—I never believed that you were actually a salesman or whatever—so don't think I fell for it!" His thoughts were jumbled, and he couldn't make himself convey his feelings right.
Angry, confused, and pretty sure he sounded like a third-grader, Cloud yelled, "You're so stupid!"
Then he paused, breathing heavily. Zack was standing still, arms crossed. His face was set in extreme concentration—like he was actually listening to him, for once. His foot tapped slowly, and his mouth was turned down at the corners.
And suddenly, Cloud felt nothing but embarrassment. He knew he had never been the best at angry confrontations, but his latest performance had been laughable. He wanted to go in his room and cry (manly tears, though) for awhile, and he took a step back, preparing to close the door on the most beautiful man he was likely to ever meet, as 'stupid' as that might have been.
But Zack held up his hand, pushed the door back like it was nothing and took a big step into his house.
Cloud panicked. He took an equally large step back, away from Zack, letting go of the door. Zack didn't close it and walked forward.
"…Cloud?" he pleaded.
Stumbling backwards, Cloud tried to put as much distance between them as possible. Zack was in his house…
"Cloud," Zack sighed, looking troubled. "Cloud—Cloud…hey, Cloud—"
He repeated his name a few more times as he approached, and with one last hey, managed to catch the retreating blond. Cloud went stiff as Zack held him against his chest, trying to calm him down. Zack seemed to be trying to push all his spikes out of his face, but Cloud slapped his hands away, feeling like a brat.
"…Cloudy," Zack murmured, succeeding and looking into Cloud's face, no hair left that he could hind behind in between them, "Are you upset 'cause those assholes laughed? They weren't laughing at you; you know that, right?"
Defeated, Cloud said thickly, "That's not why I'm angry."
He sagged in the man's grip, too exhausted to resist. Being hugged by a sort-of stranger should've been weird, but Zack was warm and soothing, and he really didn't want to leave.
Zack butted foreheads lightly with him, drawing blue eyes back onto him. "Seriously—I'm not playing with you. Really. I wouldn't do that to you, Chocobo."
Slightly confused (and ignoring the nickname for now), Cloud asked, "Then what have you been doing this whole time?"
Zack chuckled nervously. Not a good sign. "…Uh, would you believe me if I said I've been pretending to be a door-to-door salesman so I could talk to you, since I think you're the cutest thing since, like, sliced bread?"
Sliced bread wasn't cute at all, but Cloud got what he was trying to say. He leant back, Zack letting his head go, and shook his bangs back into his eyes. He blushed heavily and peered at Zack disbelievingly.
Zack had the decency to look embarrassed. "...It's true! You are," he paused and rubbed their noses together, grinning stupidly, "So beautiful. Eh, in the guy way, of course."
…Zack? Liked him? Cloud, the adoring fanboy since the first day?
Cloud shook his head. "…W-Why didn't you just tell me, uh, the normal way?"
Zack actually looked offended. "But that's boring," he pouted.
"…I guess so," Cloud said weakly.
He became hyper-aware of Zack's arms, still around him, as well as the man's heartbeat, steady beneath his fingers. He looked up, just in time to see Zack's eyes darken as he tightened his grip on his torso.
Zack ducked slowly, watching for a reaction. Cloud swallowed thickly but tilted his head up, waiting.
There was a quiet chuckle against Cloud's temple, and in plain view of any passing neighbors, due to the open door, Zack kissed Cloud.
It wasn't especially earth-shattering or soul-stopping, but because Cloud had been aching for it for so long, it was special in its own way. His arms twined around the taller man's neck and he pushed himself forward and up using his toes, so he was even closer to Zack and was offered in such a sweet way it almost hurt.
Cloud wasn't a ridiculously talented kisser, but Zack didn't seem to mind. It was cute—and besides, he'd learn. Zack's hands gently coasted down Cloud's body and petted his hips, then snuck around them and came to rest on the blond's butt. Zack gave one gentle squeeze and slid his hands in the back pockets of Cloud's jeans, like a cliché teenage romance. Cloud wanted to laugh, but the other's little affectionate movements made him remember what Zack had said in the restaurant: "I'm gonna do him right there in the hallway, Seph!"
Cloud noisily drew back, trying to step back but finding he was unable to due to Zack's hands still in his pants… er, literally.
Zack laughed loudly, sounding like a crazy man who was ridiculously relieved about something. "Relax," he said.
Cloud had a million questions, but settled for, "Is Zack your real name?"
"How did you find out where I live?" (The whole kissing-his-stalker-thing was bothering him again.)
Zack grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the house, standing on the walkway and pointing down the street. "I live there," he said, radiating happiness.
The purple house, with the motorcycle and the tacky crap out front.
No wonder all those decorations looked familiar.
"…You're my neighbor," Cloud said stupidly.
Zack grinned at him. "Uh-huh! I was kinda slow figuring out that you moved here, heh. When I finally noticed you, it would've been weird if I went over and introduced myself, sooo!"
The warm hand covering his squeezed gently, and Cloud stared, not believing his luck. Zack smiled at him and said, "I'm Zack Fair, your local Fair Lips representative. Would you like to sample our wares?"
Both stared at the other for a moment, then shared a long, hard laugh at the sheer weirdness of it all. Cloud didn't fight it when Zack swooped down and captured his mouth for the second time, nor did he protest the third. Or the fourth, when they moved inside because Grizelda was peering out of her windows at them, death in her wrinkly old eyes.
Zack's methods were a little bit… odd. Unorthodox, to say the least. Cloud actually doubted anyone else had ever done what Zack had—only to get someone's attention, no less.
But, Cloud thought as Zack held him, both unwilling to move out the foyer just yet, he might have preferred Zack's way. At least it was interesting, right?
And he couldn't complain about the salesman thing. Unconventional as it was, he sort of liked the pink flamingos. Maybe he could have stood to spend some money on some less-important things, like a grass dwarf—er, lawn gnome. Whatever.
…It was a good thing he had his own personal door-to-door salesman then, huh?