AN: Zack's chapter, the last one of this fic (Sadly I had to retype a lot of it after it didn't save) thank you for reading this and all the reviews, I've really enjoyed it. Don't worry, more Clack one shots will be here soon.
Pairing: Cloud and Zack
Warnings: None in this one, though Zack might swear without my realizing it.
Zack smiled, watching Cloud laugh beside him. They were together in the transport, and it was too early in the morning, but Cloud was here, joining in with the conversations the SOLDIER were having, and practically glowing with pride. As Zack watched, Cloud smiled to himself, gazing off into the distance. Zack waved at him, but got no response. At the laughter of the other men, he poked Cloud in the arm, hard, jolting him back to reality.
"Hey Cloud, stay focused or I'll call you chocobo head again." Zack teased, stunned when Cloud responded after a split second.
"You do that and I'll beat you in training again." Zack laughed with the other men, bending down to kiss Cloud's cheek. He'd come so far from the terrified boy that Zack had first met, and now Zack could regard him as an equal, maybe not in skill, but in life.
Zack settled back into his seat, watching the scenery roll past and talking. They'd been on the road for ages, and Cloud, unused to missions, had been exhausted to start with. As Zack watched, Cloud's energy returned to its' normal levels, whilst Zack's peaked from his inability to exercise. When he'd mentioned it, one of the SOLDIER had laughed and pointed out Cloud was right there. Zack had laughed, seeing Cloud first splutter, then join in the laughter, steering the conversation away from what made him uncomfortable. Zack made no secret of his feelings for the other, and few seemed to mind.
When lunch was served, Zack devoured his. It had been a long morning, and he was starving. He went to eat the chocolate, then smiled, breaking off a square and holding it up to Cloud's lips, watching and feeling the other's lips sliding across his fingers as the vehicle juddered to a stop. Zack practically vaulted out, handing out bags before extending his hand, helping Cloud down from the edge. He watched Cloud pick up his pack, pleased he could carry it without issue.
Cloud turned back to Zack, bouncing slightly. Zack smiled, noticing how adorable Cloud was when he was excited, then made himself focus on what Cloud was saying.
"Come on Zack, you have to meet my mum." Before Zack could listen to the fear that was bubbling up inside him at the thought of meeting Cloud's mother, Cloud had run away and Zack had to chase him. Zack heard Cloud shout something before turning off, Zack catching up just as Cloud slowed, walking together to his mum's house while Cloud tried to get his breath back.
Zack took a deep breath, stepping forwards to knock on the door before standing next to Cloud, smartly at attention. He shivered a little from nerves as the door opened, only to be greeted by a kindly older woman with the same bright eyes as her son. He relaxed as she smiled at him, before walking out to cuddle her son, greeting him. Zack tried to blend in with the background until Cloud spoke, flailing in his mother's grasp.
"Mum! Mum, this is Zack…"
Zack raised one hand in a nervous wave, then smiled as Cloud's mother held out her hand towards him. He shook her hand, hoping he had met with her approval.
"Pleasure to meet you Mrs Strife" he said, trying to sound formal, to impress her. It seemed to work.
"Please, call me Annie…Oh, so you're the one Cloud told me so much about."
Zack smiled as the woman embraced Cloud again before continuing to speak.
"I always said that he could do with an older girlfriend to take care of him, but I guess a man was more suitable for him. I'm sure you manage to do it well."
Zack grinned, seeing Cloud blush furiously and try to protest, only to be silenced by his mother.
"What dear, it's true… Now, you must both come in and have something to drink."
Zack's grin widened as he walked inside.
Zack let the other two chatter away about life in the village, contributing what little he could to the conversation. It was obvious that the woman was proud of her son, but just as clear that she missed him dreadfully. Zack tried to give them their privacy, sipping at his cup. Eventually Cloud and his mother reached a temporary lull in the conversation, and Cloud grinned.
"Mum, I have to go and find Tifa." He grinned, asking Zack his plans. Zack shrugged.
"I guess I can talk to Sephiroth, do try not to flirt too much Spikey."
Zack waved at Annie to excuse himself, walking off back towards the SOLDIER camp. He knew he could check with Sephiroth what the plans were, and then spend more time with Cloud and his family, but sadly that chance was denied to him. Though he looked everywhere, he couldn't find Sephiroth. Eventually he realized it was getting late, and headed back towards the village. He knocked on Annie's door to ask where Cloud was. She smiled at the handsome young man her son had ensnared.
"Oh, he's gone to play with Tifa, they'll be over there. Ask him to come back for dinner, I'd really like you both to join me."
"Sure thing ma'am, I'll be back soon." Zack said, racing off to track down Cloud. He grinned when he found him.
"Hey, Spikey, leave your girlfriend alone, your mum is waiting for dinner." He wrapped his arms around Cloud, then picked him up, letting Cloud wave over his shoulder as he carried him back to his home.
Zack loved the dinner. It tasted wonderful, and he entertained the others by telling them all about Cloud's progress in the military. Cloud was practically basking in the praise from his lover and his mother. Zack was delighted he was so happy, and even more delighted when he saw that his dessert was chocolate cake. He helped himself to a third of the cake, reasoning that that was his fair allotment, and devoured it in a handful of bites.
After the meal, Zack left the other two alone while he went into the garden, examining the flowers. They were beautiful. He returned in time for Annie to say goodbye to him. She cuddled him close, thanking him before wishing him a good night and making him agree to see her again soon.
Zack took Cloud's hand, leading him back to his tent. He let Cloud in first, smiling to himself at how impressed Cloud was by the size of it. He knew how cramped the cadet tents could be.
"This is nice." Cloud whispered, and Zack stroked his hand over the other's back as he climbed inside. He turned Cloud around so that they were looking at each other.
"Only the best for us." He whispered in reply.
Zack smiled, kissing Cloud as the other leaned in to him. He decided Cloud was sitting too far away, and reached out to pick Cloud up and settle him down in his arms. He smiled as Cloud yawned, deciding they could just cuddle tonight. He brushed his lips over Cloud's forehead, hearing the other mumble a goodnight to him. He smiled.
"Night Cloud." He kissed the other's forehead again. "Sweet dreams." He watched his love until he was asleep, before settling down himself.
He lay unconscious, dreaming of the day they had had, when a loud noise from outside woke him. He frowned, trying to work out what was causing it, when flickering lights caught his attention. There were people outside, shouting. He shook Cloud's shoulders, trying to rouse him.
"Can you smell burning?"