Quiet: Originally was gonna post this in a drabble collection, but it's about 1k words, so I decided to make it a oneshot. *shrug* The prompt is below:
Sharing body heat is best BUT Zack is too tall for the sleeping bag.
"Shit, I'm really sorry, Spike! I shouldn't have been playing so much—"
"It's okay, Z—ACHOO!—ugh…I dnow you didn'd bean for dis da habben."
"You need heat," Sephiroth said worriedly, his hands working quickly to shed the clothes from the shivering cadet's body.
Cloud couldn't protest with his teeth chattering so hard, so Sephiroth merely laid him inside his tent before moving his hands to his own clothing. There was a moment where he hesitated over his own pants, but when there was no hint of resistance from Cloud, he hurriedly shed them and curled his body around the blond's.
"Zack," he hissed, annoyed at the larger man's worried hovering. "Get in here and help warm him up before he falls ill!"
The frantic First obeyed, hands flying over his clothing as he watched slitted blue eyes glistening in the firelight beyond the tent doors. He paused in the midst of removing his boots. Dammit, he'd really done a number on poor Cloud being such a big idiot…
"You'll have time enough for regrets later, just get in here and seal that flap," Sephiroth snapped.
The large First clumsily hurried to comply with the order, his face pinched with both hurt and worry. He knew that Sephiroth was right, but he should've known better; as tough as Cloud was, he wasn't a SOLDIER just yet, and he shouldn't have been roughhousing on the thin ice like a fool.
He had no one to blame but himself.
A weak hand tugged on his pants leg, and Zack glanced down into feverish blue eyes as Cloud licked at chapped lips. He could see the brief struggle for awareness, and watched in admiration as Cloud forced coherency into his hoarse voice. "Don't be an idiot. You couldn't have known we'd fall through. If you hadn't been there, I would've probably stayed in the water too long and been more than a little cold right now."
Sephiroth cleared his throat sharply. "Cloud is correct. Now stop standing around and strip," he ordered.
Zack's lips twitched in response. A look at the General's embarrassed expression turned it into a full grin. "Never thought I'd be so happy to comply with an order, Sir."
He'd since shed his winter gear, leaving him in the trademark SOLDIER uniform. So he made quick work of the meager pants and sweater in no time.
Luckily, SOLDIERs had a nice, regulated body temperature thanks to the mako, so he didn't even feel the cold beyond a sudden draft of moving air. It was a good thing for Cloud that both he and Sephiroth could heat him up; otherwise, the kid would probably be well on his way to pneumonia by now.
He carefully eased his way onto the other side of Cloud, legs folding into the bag as he scooted down; to his dismay, the top of the covering gaped at his shoulders, introducing a pocket of air into the makeshift nest. Cloud shivered, and Sephiroth glowered at him.
"Close the blankets, Zackary."
"I would," he started, flushing under the hard stare, "but I'm a bit too big for this thing," he murmured, his body cramped in the attempted fit.
Sephiroth sighed. "Sometimes I wonder how you ever made it this far… Curve your legs so that they wrap around mine and hold Cloud in your arms as closely as possible. I'm not terribly concerned with personal space at this moment. And I'm sure he does not mind. We will handle his embarrassment if and when we get to it."
Zack hesitated, looking down at the woozy expression on Cloud's face before stretching his legs out to intertwine them with Sephiroth's.
They were long like his own, but Sephiroth had a little more room to work with, unlike Zack, who was crowded by the wall of the tent. And Seph's legs were smooth, and it made Zack absently wonder if the hair on his own was making the General uncomfortable; the man was damn near perfect and the lack of imperfections on him made those of others painfully obvious.
"Gather him in your arms," the older man urged, breaking into his thoughts. "You need to raise your internal temperature a bit; just enough to warm him, not cook him. Sooner or later, his fever will be in full effect and we'll have to be careful about covering too much of him."
Zack nodded, his arms encircling the cadet, who moaned weakly at the heated embrace and made a faint grimace of discomfort. Those small hands fluttered around the SOLDIER's stomach as if seeking a hand hold and Zack prayed they didn't wander too low. He was guilty and worried about his friend, but he was also young and virile, and the right movement could bring another problem to his attention. Thankfully, Cloud slumped into his embrace, and Zack sighed in relief before brushing his cheek against his friend's hair.
"If it helps," Sephiroth's voice said with the lightest tinge of humor in it, "think of yourself as his personal blanket. If you don't do your job, he will suffer for it; now be a good blanket and stay still and quiet."
Zack complied, gazing blindly at the top of the tent as the small, stunted breaths against his chest grew deeper and a bit smoother. He'd been stupid for letting this happen, but he swore on his honor as a SOLDIER that he'd make it up to the kid.