Title: Sleep

Author: Sorceress Fantasia

Pairings: Zack/Cloud

Warnings: Fluff

Word count: 1547

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: As much as I would love to lay claim on Cloud, I'm kinda scared of Zack's Buster Sword. So well, I don't own Final Fantasy 7 or any of its characters.

Summary: Zack can't rest well until he knows that Cloud is safe and sound.

Note: Written for rainbowserenity's birthday. Happy Birthday!


Cloud is not due to be back for at least another two weeks, give or take a few days.

Zack isn't sure if he'd survive that long.

Stop worrying about your blond shadow because Sephiroth will take care of him in your stead, Angeal says before tossing him a folder of paperwork and walking away.

Don't be so melodramatic, puppy, Genesis adds smugly while dropping a few more folders onto his desk. Post-it notes are stuck onto the folders' covers, which are in a special shade of red that resembles the red leather cover of Loveless' collector's edition, and every one of them reads: For immediate action.

You've survived two weeks without Cloud, so what's another two? With that coming from that obsessive-compulsive Kunsel who calls or texts his girlfriend every other hour, nobody is convinced.

Cloud will surely take good care of himself, because he's got you to come back to! While the words lift his spirits the first few times, seeing Luxiere pumping his fists in the air gets old pretty soon.

I've heard it's an easy mission, especially since Sephiroth is on the team. That is all Tseng says, in the one time that Zack passes him by in the corridor.

Cissnei merely gives him a pat on the back before running off after her fellow Turks for some long-term assignment out of Midgar.

There is no way to tell what Aeris thinks about the issue, however, since Zack hasn't visited her in weeks and he does not particularly feel like calling her. But it is easy to guess her reaction, considering their years of friendship. Aeris is definitely the type who'd smile, pat him on his back and assure him that everything is fine, that he's just being a worrywart.

But no matter what the others tell him and how much assurances he hears, Zack cannot help but be worried.

Out there in the harsh battlefield whose horrors are never forgotten once experienced, Cloud is fighting. The rest of Cloud's battalion and Sephiroth are there as well, but Zack finds it difficult to focus on anyone apart from the blond. Cloud is on a mission, one which Zack persuaded Sephiroth to let Cloud tag along for the experience that might one day help him pass the SOLDIER examinations. Not that Sephiroth needed much persuasion, since he has a soft spot for the teenager, as do Angeal and Genesis.

The blond is still a grunt, but no one has any doubts that he will make it into SOLDIER one day. It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when. And before the day come, all of them will make sure he stays safe, if not for their sakes then for Zack's. They all have a soft spot for Zack too, even if they may not show it.

But it has been two weeks since the mission started and so far, Zack has heard not so much as a squeak regarding the situation over there.

He worries constantly.

By the fifth day, he is already getting frantic and Angeal has to tie him to a chair so he'd stop pacing up and down and burn a hole in the rug. Genesis resorts to tactical distraction by moving a television set in front of him and playing the latest film production of Loveless over and over again.

It helps, for a while, because Zack eventually falls asleep from boredom. And shock, because he is able to memorise the actors' lines now.

Still, it merely delays the inevitable because on the ninth day, Kunsel points out his lack of concentration and shoddy sword work that even Luxiere would have no problem countering.

On the eleventh day, it is only by Angeal's intervention that Zack does not end up in the infirmary. The man has always been better at reading Genesis' volatile mood than anyone else, and had Angeal not stopped Zack from asking if Sephiroth and Cloud had called his private line one more time, there is no doubt that the redhead would have obliterated more than just his office desk.

Now, two weeks into the mission, Zack finds it impossible to sleep well at night. Lazard comments on his dark eye circles.

Zack is quite sure that if Cloud does not at least call back soon, he is going to go insane. Still, even if Cloud does call back soon but won't be coming back within the next few days, Zack thinks he's going to go cold turkey on Cloud deficiency.

Ever since getting together with Cloud, the couple hasn't gone a day without at least texting each other once every two days. Zack still remembers how proud of himself he'd been when he managed a quick chat with Cloud on his cellular phone during a mission, despite getting a verbal warning from Angeal after that.

When they can afford the time, Zack doesn't like to let Cloud out of his sight. While Genesis likes to call Cloud his blond shadow, that nickname is hardly accurate. Zack is the one who follows Cloud around. Maybe some would call his behaviour possessive, but Zack doesn't see the point of spending time away from the one he gave his heart to.

Sometimes they hang around in Zack's apartment and watch some movies. Sometimes they cook dinner together but dinner usually ends up burnt because they are distracted, so they usually order in. Zack already knows the delivery guy from that Chinese takeout restaurant on a first name basis, and Zack also knows that his natural charisma has charmed the socks out of the guy. But he already has the love of his life, so he lets the guy down gently and subtly directs him towards Reno who looks like he wouldn't mind some company.

Other times, Zack likes to bring Cloud out of the headquarters for a day out. There's always Aeris to visit, Kalm to enjoy a short but peaceful vacation at, and shopping malls on the Upper Plate to max his cards out. And if a day out frolicking is not on the menu, they'd spar in a training room or go monster hunting in the Midgar outskirts.

Zack does not like to let Cloud out of his sight much.

Two weeks. And probably another two more weeks.

Zack thinks he's going to go stir crazy.

---

It is 4am now, and Zack is still wide awake. He's lying in bed, but no matter what position he tries to make himself comfortable in, he cannot fall asleep. Maybe he doesn't want to fall asleep; he's sure he'll have nightmares or at least not-so-pleasant dreams if he does. There aren't many situations that would make it impossible for Cloud to call back at least once in the two weeks, after all.

He tosses again.

Turn.

Turn.

Toss.

Turn.

Toss.

Toss.

Angeal's going to reprimand him for sleeping at his desk again tomorrow. Genesis will probably just ignore him; the redhead hasn't paid him much attention ever since Zack made him decimate his own office desk the other day. Kunsel's on leave tomorrow and Luxiere's out on a mission nearby, so Zack's going to lead a lonely existence tomorrow.

Cloud. Cloud. Cloud.

His cell phone rings, its shrill shriek cutting the still air. Zack thinks it's probably an emergency mission, and if it's not, then it's probably some guy trying to sell him insurance. He gets those frequent enough that sometimes he thinks Palmer sells the SOLDIERs' contact information to raise funds for his neglected space program.

"…Hello?"

"Zack?"

In an instant, Zack sits up from his bed and all thoughts leave him except a thankful murmur of the other's name.

Cloud. Cloud. Cloud.

"Cloud! Are you alright? You haven't called in two weeks! Is the mission going fine? Are you hurt? Are you coming back soon?"

Zack knows Cloud probably can't register his barrage of questions, but he feels compelled to continue asking and fill the void. If he doesn't, he fears he will he wake up from this dream.

"I'm fine, Z…/crackle/ …mission is …/crackle/… too. Our communication equipment got totally fried … /crackle/… and apparently this backwater town … /crackle crackle crackle/… no cell phone reception. Can you believe they don't even have a …/crackle/… in town?"

The condition of the backwater town is the least of Zack's concerns, but he is glad for the cell phone coverage, even if the sound quality of the call is terrible and he can only hear bits and pieces of Cloud's voice along with a lot of static.

"Cloud… when are you coming back?"

"I'm …/crackle/… Maybe another two, three… /crackle/…"

"I'll wait for you. Be safe."

"…/crackle/… I will. You too."

"Of course. Come back soon. I miss you."

"I …/crackle/… you too. I …/crackle/… you."

"I love you too."

The line disconnects after that, but Zack isn't worried. He presses a kiss to the phone.

Lying back down in bed, he sends a text message to Angeal. He's going to take tomorrow morning off and catch up on some well-needed rest.

He sleeps. And he dreams.

---

If you're not in my dreams, then I'd rather be insomniac.

You're not going to dream of me if you're insomniac, so go to sleep.

-owari-

A/N: Happy birthday, RS! :DDD It's not much, but have a bit of Clack fluff on your special day! I tried to go for a rambling sort of writing style to match the fic's main theme, so here's hoping that it worked!