Well sheesh, that took a while, but I'm finally over my writer's block for this story. You can thank Marilyn Manson and "Tainted Love" for that :D
SarissaDiablo – Yea, I wanted a mixture of the darkness Cloud had from AC and the coolness from the original. I wanted to take out the emoness :P
Oddball167 – Zack's quite dark in this chapter :D
Zackfairfan – I'm glad :D
eMi to mAo 374 – Glad you like it!
OCV – Here's the assassination attempt on Zack . . . and don't worry, Tifa won't be dragged into Zack's private life (and bed :P)
Dragi – His first try is this chapter ;)
Setsuko teshiba – Here ya go!
Quiet N Cryptic – I hope it stays interesting :D
I'm At My All Time Low – Thanks! I'll do my best
Floutistvivi – Thanks!
Mooglestookmyheart – Hm, not actually sure on whether it's the first one with this plot. Probably not, but I think it's at least the first one starring Zack ;)
xXLunarWolfXx – All right awesome, I'm glad the humor doesn't seem really out of place XD
Priosonerksc2-303 – Poor Turks XD, but they're no match for an assassin :P Zack is I guess a man whore . . . or maybe he's just confident? XD
Thank you everyone else who favorite/alerted this story!
Zack winked at the bodyguard at the front of his mansion as he passed, twirling his keys on his finger. The bodyguard nodded, smirking slightly, and Zack grinned as he slipped inside.
The first thing he did was toss his keys onto the counter before turning to the bar, grabbing a bottle of scotch and an empty glass.
He was in the middle of pouring the soda into the blend when he heard a gun cock behind him. Zack didn't bother freezing, instead continuing to pour his drink as he spoke. "What's the reason this time?"
He heard the shuffle of feet behind him. Good, the person was nervous. And judging by the sound his feet made, it was most likely a man. Or an overweight lady. "General Zack Fair," the person spat, emphasizing the 'General'. It was definitely a man. "You're the son of a bitch who murdered my brother."
Zack stopped pouring and set the bottle down slowly, not wanting to alarm the man. He picked up the glass and took a sip, staying as casual as possible. "I don't think I actually murdered your brother. He may have died on one of my campaigns, and I'm sorry, but I guarantee I did not shoot or stab or somehow kill your brother with my hands." He swirled his drink as he waited for a response.
A gun was jammed into Zack's back as the man growled, "Exactly. If you were a little less reckless and stupid, my brother would still be alive."
Zack rolled his eyes. The guy was an idiot. "Check the records dumbass. My campaigns have had the least casualties of any in recent history."
The gun was pressed harder into Zack's lower back. "Really think you should be calling me a dumbass? I'm the one with a gun to you."
Zack shook his head, smirking. "Seriously. How did you get past my guards?" Just as the man opened his mouth, Zack kicked backwards, smashing the man's right kneecap. The man yelped and fired his gun, but Zack was already out of the way. He grabbed the man's wrist and squeezed until he heard a crack, and the pistol fell. He caught it before it hit the ground and directed it at the man's face. "And now I'm the one with a gun to you."
The man had a contorted mess of a face that held both pain and anger. The guy was old, probably in his fifties, and looked pitifully up at Zack. Zack couldn't help but feel a twinge of guilt at the guy, and wasn't able to stop himself before he made his next action.
He pulled into his wallet and yanked out some gil. A lot of gil. He bent down to tuck it into the man's pocket and whispered to him, "Look, man, about your brother. I'm sorry, I really am, but don't try to fucking kill me. You won't succeed. Now go out my front door and tell the guard there to take you to the hospital. The gil I gave you should cover the bill and feed you for a month."
Then, standing up and patting the man on the head, he added, "And straighten out your life. Move on, for your own sake." And with that, he turned back to the bar and picked up the cup again, taking a drink as he heard the man scurry away.
Cloud pulled the hood up over his blond hair and pulled the black mask over his mouth, so that only his ice blue eyes were visible on his face. He was standing on a cliff face over-looking Edge, wearing skin-tight neoprene black clothing with a silenced submachine gun attached to his back. A silenced pistol hung at his belt.
He felt the quick vibration of his phone ringing, and quickly pulled it out to look at the I.D.; it was "Restricted". Cloud flipped it open and held it up to his ear. "Hello?" he asked.
The cool voice of Sephiroth drifted through the speaker. "Cloud Strife. How are you doing?"
Cloud glanced over his shoulder, an instinct he had when he was talking on the phone. "I can't talk Sephiroth. I'm about to infiltrate Fair Manor."
Cloud grimaced when he heard a soft chuckle on the other end. "'Infiltrate'? Is that what we're calling it? Well, good to hear. I just called to inform you that I will not accept you murdering my employees again."
"I was hired to kill him. I killed him. It's what I do." Cloud hung up without waiting for a response. He stared at his phone for a moment, then, not wanting Sephiroth to call him back, he threw the phone over the cliff and watched as it tumbled down.
Cloud took five steps back before sprinting forward, leaping as he reached the end of the cliff. He angled himself downwards, and once he was positive he was at the right angle, he spread his arms out. Fabric that was attached from his waist to his forearms spread about and caught the air, allowing him to glide.
It was a new product from Cid, and he promised Cloud it would work perfectly. And it did. It kept Cloud moving fast, but not dangerously fast. As Cloud approached Fair Manor from above, his night vision kicked in. It was his talent.
Every Shadow had a talent. It was what made them Shadows; made them able to kill better than regular assassins. Sometimes it was blending into the darkness, becoming virtually invisible. Or maybe it was enhanced speed. For Cloud, it was night vision.
There was only one guard in the back, watching the pool. For some reason there was no guard in the front of the house, and Cloud was suspicious for a moment before remembering what he heard on the radio: A man known for being Zack Fair's bodyguard was seen in the hospital with another man, badly beaten. It didn't take a genius to figure out it was Zack Fair's doing, but, because of his high status, he was untouchable.
And, Cloud guessed the man was trying to kill Zack Fair, and failed. Well, he would succeed where the man failed.
He pulled his arms in when he was above the roof and fell down, rolling when the balls of his feet touched down.
Still silent, save the rustling of the trees in the courtyard. The guard didn't suspect a thing. Now, Cloud just needed an entry point. Hell, he could just crash through the glass ceiling of Zack's office, but that would cause too much noise, unless . . .
Cloud really wished he had his knife with him at the moment; it would make getting through the glass much easier without smashing it. Still, Cloud knew that through the glass would be the easiest way to get inside.
Punching it would make too much noise and possible trigger an alarm, so Cloud instead worked on slowly prying one pane of glass loose. Eventually, it began to wiggle loose, and Cloud knew he had a foothold.
"You're fired," Aerith's manager said bluntly to her as she sat in a plush chair in his office. "I can't have you whoring around just to get an interview."
Aerith's face turned bright red. "I wasn't whoring myself out. What I do with my personal life is none of your business." She was shocked that tears haven't welled up in her eyes yet. When she first heard the 'you're fired', she expected to have a mental breakdown. But, it just wasn't coming.
"Imagine what the public would say if they found out about this," her manager said, his voice rising slightly.
Aerith stood up, ready to leave. She was one of the top journalists; she would have no problem with finding another job as long as she now wasn't blacklisted. "Who told you, anyway?"
"Zack Fair himself."
Anger flowed through Aerith's head as she exited the office, continuing straight down the stairs, not even bothering to collect her personal belongings. She reached into her purse to get her cell phone, but instead pulled out a business card that held Zack's business information.
On the back, in chicken scratch, was scrawled, "So, I need myself a good assistant. Call me up, it's the least I could do for getting you fired :)"
Aerith pulled out her phone, already dialing the number before she even looked at her keypad. Soon enough, she was going to get a new job, and Zack Fair was going to get a piece of her mind.
Cloud dropped into the office silently, pulling out his pistol and aiming at the door, waiting to see if anyone would come in. When no one did, he holstered the pistol and crept over to the computer. He rummaged through the drawers, looking for a flash drive. He found one quickly enough, and inserted it into the computer before searching for the information.
He looked up everything, and there was no information anywhere. 'Immortality', 'Invincible', 'Life forever', nothing brought up what he was looking for.
"Shit," Cloud muttered. There was no file on the secret to immortality. The computer was worthless.
"Ya know, you really should make sure to lock doors when you're breaking into someone's personal data," a voice called out, and Cloud bit his tongue as he looked up. Not locking the door was such an amateur mistake.
It was Zack Fair, and a pistol was hanging loosely from his hand, directed at his head. Cloud's hand shot for his pistol, but Zack fired a warning shot that made the wall explode next to Cloud's head. "Uh uh uh," Zack chastised. "Sit," he ordered, pointing the gun towards the office chair. Cloud obliged, glaring at Zack.
"Now, what do we have here? A Shadow, I take it. But why such an amateur mistake? Surely a Shadow would be mo-," his voice was cut off by the sound of a phone ringing. "Gimme a sec," Zack said, raising a finger at Cloud before turning around and pulling out his phone.
"Hello? Oh hey Ms. Gainsborough . . . yea sorry about that . . . you can be my assistant . . . you'll get paid twice as much as you did as a journalist, and you'll have your own living quarters . . . no just call the number below my own, that's Angeal. Tell him you need him to help you move to my manor . . . yup . . . all righty sounds awesome. Later!"
Cloud was utterly dumbfounded. Did the guy really just answer the phone and turn his back to the number one assassin in the world? Well, of course Zack didn't know Cloud was the number one assassin in the world, and by the time Cloud was out of shock Zack had just hung the phone up and began to tuck it into his pocket. If he was going to strike, it was now or never.
Cloud lunged at Zack, hands outstretched, ready to snap the brunette's neck. He saw a blur and felt an immense pain in his ribcage.
How did he move that fast? Cloud asked himself as he tumbled to the ground. Zack had just spun around, and without looking, managed to kick Cloud in the ribs and send him flying.
Cloud managed to turn his fall into a roll and ended up back on his feet, but Zack already had the pistol trained back on his head. "Who sent you?" he asked, any semblance of joking from before gone.
"I'm not at the liberty to tell you," Cloud said, smirking beneath his mask.
Zack fired the pistol, again just a warning shot. If Cloud wasn't wearing a hood it would've grazed his blond spikes. He then threw the pistol on the ground before sitting on the chair Cloud was sitting in moments before.
"It was Sephiroth wasn't it?" Zack asked, though the way he said it made it a fact. "Oh, go ahead and try and take that pistol and shoot me, I guarantee you won't be able to be that fast."
"It was Sephiroth," Cloud echoed, nodding.
Zack let out a short laugh, "That's fucking great. Bet he wants the immortality also?" Cloud nodded again. "How much he paying you?"
"Enough," was all Cloud replied with.
"Well, I could pay you double to go ahead and kill Sephiroth for me, but I'm not. Instead, you are going to help me break into Crescent Corp. and help steal something he created, the 'Spartan Serum'. 'Why?' you ask? Because if you don't, I'll kill you now."
"What's the Spartan Serum?" It was the best answer Zack was going to get.
Zack spun around in his chair, but Cloud didn't make a move at him. "It's like mako, but more concentrated, and dangerous. He wants to market it to the military to make super soldiers. I have a feeling he has an ulterior motive though, and me, being the white knight that I am, wants to save the world. Kapeesh?"
Cloud stood up, and Zack watched him, rubbing his thumb around his hand. Cloud pulled back his hood to reveal his blond spikes, and yanked down his mask, revealing a smirk playing across his lips. "You're fucking crazy. Why don't you send it your armed guard to do it?"
Zack feigned a frown, "Because that's boring."
Not as much Sephiroth, but he'll pop up next chapter.
So! Cloud and Zack are no supposedly working together . . . but will their working relationship work or will it be full of tension?
And what of Aerith? Find out next time! :P
-The Lone Wanderer