Title: Wolf

Author: X Academy

Series: Compilation of Final Fantasy VII

Summary: He was taking out the trash when he saw him.

Warnings/Rating: K. Nothing to worry about.

Pairings: Zack x Cloud


Cloud Strife – 26
Zack Fair – Deceased

New Characters:

Author Notes: I was hit with an idea, and so I decided to write on it. Not much of anything; just sort of something for fun. Hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VII or any of their characters. I just do this for fun. I need a life.

He was taking out the trash when he saw him.

Cloud had been walking down the steps of his newly rented apartment, trash bag in hand, when he saw the wolf. At first, it appeared to be a shadow, merely a black blob of darkness. But as Cloud neared the dumpster, he stopped, taken aback when the shadow blinked.

The wolf was sitting against the dumpster, slumped over a scrap of dirty meat, when Cloud saw him. They stared at each other for awhile, wondering, and Cloud felt nostalgic for some reason as he stared. The wolf appeared unhappy and lonely, but as soon as Cloud neared him, his tail began to wag a little, his head rose in reassurance somehow.

Cloud kept his distance from the dark gray, almost black canine, even as it stood on all fours and gazed at him in a peculiar way. He tried his best to ignore the animal, but Cloud couldn't seem to shake that unusual, but oddly comforting feeling that had overcome him as soon as he saw the wolf.

That night, the image of the wolf's strange, glowing aqua eyes burned behind Cloud's eyes.

The second time he saw the wolf, Cloud was getting ready to run an errand for Tifa, do a little grocery shopping for her. He was just settling himself on his motorcycle when he noticed the dark wolf standing across the parking lot, watching him with unearthly alertness. His eyes were… knowing, wise; unlike any other animal Cloud had ever seen. It unsettled him, and he practically raced out of the parking lot without a second glance.

When he got back, the wolf was still there, waiting for him. Why? he asked himself. Why would that one animal wait for him there, after almost an hour and a half? Why was he scared of the wolf? Why was he reassured by him?

Cloud tried for the answers to all these questions, but none would come. He dreamed of the animal again that night.

The man began to go outside every morning and afternoon, watching the wolf. Sometimes he'd watch back, sometimes he'd just keep to himself. Sometimes, the wolf would run with supernatural speed, and Cloud would find himself recognizing the graceful, powerful gait the animal had, the cocky tilt of his head, the determined glint in his eyes, and the happiness. Oh, the happiness the wolf had was impossible to miss; it was as if he believed that the world was his to conquer, that life was a game he was playing, and winning. The only thing was that Cloud couldn't figure out where he recognized the wolf's persona from.

Every time Cloud left to go back inside, he never failed to catch the longing stare the wolf regarded him with. It was a sorrowful, forlorn gaze; it was like the wolf was trying to tell him something.

One day, while Cloud was watching the wolf trot haughtily around the parking lot, he decided to sum up the courage to approach the animal. He knew he probably shouldn't have come close to the wolf; it was a wild animal, and he had no idea if he was diseased or not. But, for some unearthly reason, he felt drawn to the wolf. Like he belonged with it.

When Cloud got close enough, the wolf practically ran up to him, setting his forepaws on Cloud's thighs. The blond was frightened at first, but upon seeing the wolf's familiar, knowing eyes, he immediately felt right. Cloud stared at the wolf for a moment, and the animal stared back, tail wagging earnestly. The man tentatively reached out to run his fingers through the coarse hair along the side of the wolf's muzzle, and he was taken aback.

Firstly, the wolf's fur wasn't coarse; it was soft and silky, its texture identical to something Cloud hadn't felt for years. Second, as Cloud ran the pads of his fingers along the wolf's face, he could feel the raised flesh of a scar, running along the wolf's muzzle in the shape of an "X".

It all clicked together in that moment for Cloud, and the blond realized that everything wasn't just a coincidence. As he watched the wolf nuzzle lovingly into his hand, Cloud recognized what, more like who, the wolf was.

"… hey, Zack," Cloud had said, awestruck.

The wolf growled low in his throat and gazed at Cloud as if to return the greeting, grinning a bit. It was just the same; Zack would always smile like that.

Cloud gathered the wolf into a hug, the best way you could hug a wolf, and buried his face in Zack's fur. It smelled just like the shampoo Zack had used before he died.

Zack rested his head against Cloud's in response, nestling into the embrace. Cloud almost swore he could've heard Zack's voice then, telling him everything was alright as he'd done so many times before.

And this time, Cloud believed him.

Honestly, I wrote this all out in a rush; I was done in ten minutes. X3 It might be a little cliché, having Zack be a wolf, but oh well.

Reviews are appreciated.

- X Academy