Beck and Call

By Snare-chan

Pairings: None intended, but take from this what you will?
: T
Category(ies): General
Warning(s): Violence
Status: One-shot, complete
Summary: Cloud has his doubts, but Tidus makes them recede just a tiny bit.

Notes: Why do I keep hurting the characters I love? Also, I think it's evident by now that my Tidus-bias is showing. I'll have to fix that by exploring the rest of the cast, when I get the chance! A big thank you goes out to Keppiehed for editing this where needed. Any remaining errors are my own.

Disclaimer: I dun own Dissidia; wish I did like everyone else. They should put Dissidia in stock, then I'd buy it all!

The cry of pain was startling, especially when Cloud identified the voice as coming from someone like Tidus, who was no pushover. His evasive movements distanced him from most of the tougher attacks that could cripple. The rest produced nothing more than a disgruntled curse when he came into contact with them. He wasn't a stranger to fighting; the bruises, cuts and scrapes that came with what they were doing.

This was different.

Cloud quickly saw why, identifying the source of it as he turned in the direction the yell had come from. He spotted Sephiroth skewering the sportsman through the leg. Their enemy – Cloud's enemy – had wasted no time or effort in ensuring that Tidus would suffer greatly and disabled him at the same time. He'd gone straight for Tidus' strength and removed it, effortlessly immobilizing him.

And immobilizing Cloud in the process.

Firion reacted first, not hesitating to aim one of his arrows and firing at Sephiorth's head. He dodged it by leaning his torso to the side, and then evaded again in the opposite direction to avoid a second incoming arrow.

This, at least, startled Cloud into action. He and Cecil charged in at the same time. Though Cecil had been further away, he'd lessened the distance in a matter of mere moments. His lance and Cloud's broadsword met thin air as they aimed to connect with their enemy's body. Sephiroth disappeared completely, though not before giving Cloud a meaningful look involving a smirk and wrenching his sword from Tidus' leg in the worst possible way.

With both hands, Tidus held his left leg where he'd been sliced open, trying to stem the flow of blood with the pressure. The wound was clean-cut – surgical, malicious – but this made it bleed worse; an artery had probably been struck. There was no stopping it that way; his entire lower half was already coated with evidence the wound. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that his opposite knee was dislocated. A sweep from Sephiroth's sword had most likely knocked him down, leaving him open for the attack.

"Someone tend to him!" Firion urged, forgetting Sephiroth and kneeling to assist Tidus. Despite the situation, in a soft spoken tone he said, "Breathe, Tidus! You need to remember to breathe."

The pain had paralyzed him, and hearing the other's words spurred Tidus into taking a shaky gasp, really more of a wheeze. In the meantime, Cecil produced a potion and poured it over the worst of the wounds, but it was weak at best – snapping the man's knee into its proper location and replacing damaged tissue and cleansing the body. The large stab wound remained visible, and Firion had to remove his hip sash, ripping it in his haste to bind it.

It wasn't enough to sigh in relief, but everyone was able to remember how to breathe; Tidus was not the sole person who'd forgotten how to function.

"Holy-" Tidus tried to start, the first to speak. He looked as if he was threatening to tear up, but after such an assault, no one considered mentioning it. "I see why you hate that guy so much, Cloud! He's such a…a…"

"Be at peace, Tidus," Cecil spoke gently. "You gave us quite the fright. Please, take a moment to recover."

"I'll say! That attack came out of nowhere. I thought for a second I was going to lose everything below the waist," he said, ignoring his friend's advice and attempting to go so far as to sit up. "Who sneak-attacks like that? Guess he wasn't prepared to face me head on, the chicken."

Cloud didn't point out the obvious fact that that was untrue. He wasn't willing to point out anything, period, choosing instead to retain his silence.

When Jecht next crossed paths with Sephiroth, he missed sending him through a wall by sheer misfortune. He purposely invaded the other's space, leaning in and daring to stare him straight in the eye.

"The fuck is wrong with you? I don't go around messing with your target – so keep away from mine!"

Unperturbed by the other man's intimidation tactics, Sephiroth tilted his head and looked at him, as if he was finally just noticing soot or a speck of dust on his armor.

"A little late to be acting the protective father, are you not?"

Jecht sneered, slamming his fist next to Sephiroth's head and leaving a broken web of stone beside his ear. The other hadn't moved, but his eyes hooded.

"Listen up: hurt the boy again, and I'll knock your pretty little head clean off and use it in my next match, got it?"

Sephiroth calmly brushed the man aside and walked away, keeping his back turned to him as he said, "You have no reason to concern yourself with my possible interference. Your son has served his purpose and I have no further use for him."

Muttering darkly, Jecht allowed him to leave. Let him think he was in control. Later, it would make knocking Sephiroth off his high horse more fun.

Tidus was approaching. Cloud could identify him by his distinctive swagger, made more obvious now by his injury. The limp was minor, reduced to the occasional favoring of one leg over another, but the temporary displacement was a reminder that Cloud could not adapt to.

"Hey, what'cha up to all the way over here?" he queried, never asking if he could join him, and flopped down. His feet dangled over the edge of the platform they were stationed on, and Tidus stared out into the distance. A haze prevented them from seeing all of the landscape, but as far as they could detect there was no one around save them.

Cloud bowed his chin into his chest and tightened his grip on the hilt of his sword, which he'd placed in the ground.


"You can't do that back at camp, with us?" Tidus asked, teasing, though Cloud didn't take the bait. He frowned harder and became withdrawn.

"…You're still pretty hung up about earlier, huh?"

Cloud tried not to be apparent, but he was startled by the other's perceptiveness. He was characteristically aloof, so he thought he would avoid suspicion concerning how unnerved he was by Sephiroth's undue appearance. His negligence could have cost the other his life, and the guilt was making him sick. There was a warning to be taken from it, and Cloud sensed it was only the beginning of what was to come. His silence was taken as an admission.

"Man, you shouldn't feel bad. I'm way tougher than I look! I can handle anything; I don't need someone looking out for me."

"That's good."

What he wanted to say was that he probably couldn't protect him, even if he wanted to.

Tidus nudged him in the arm and said, "Not that I don't mind the help sometimes, you know? If it means that much to you, next time I'll whistle, okay?"

Staring, Cloud wasn't sure what to make of that.

"You do know how to whistle, right? You put your fingers in your mouth and blow, like this, and-"

To demonstrate, he let out a shrill sound. The whistle carried far, maybe giving away their position to the enemy. Tidus didn't seem concerned with that and encouraged Cloud to do the same. He did so rather meekly, letting out a tweet that made Tidus shake his head.

"Not like that! You need to be louder or nobody will hear that in the middle of a fight. Be assertive!"

"Tidus, I don't think-"

"Come on, I know you can do it!" he said, interrupting. His expression was so earnest and sincere, Cloud couldn't help but sigh and give it a second chance. It was clearer, but didn't ring as far as Tidus' had.

"Yeah, that's better. Do it again!"

Cloud did, whistling as high and strong as he could. It carried on for as long as his lungs held oxygen. A final attempt proved to be his best, beating the one his traveling companion had belted out for his example. When he was finished, its echo resounded for a moment, and Cloud felt a tad breathless. Tidus was smiling at him. Perhaps he was proud?

"See? I knew you could do it, and now you do, too. It'll be our little signal! I'll come running right away if you do that, but you'd better promise me the same."

Hesitation, then a nod. That was all Tidus needed; the sportsman rose to his feet with slightly hampered grace. He played it off when he noticed Cloud watching.

"Remember our deal!" he said and headed toward camp where the others sat. Cloud heard him whistling a nonsense tune as he walked away, and though he didn't recognize the melody, it stayed with him and calmed the last of his frayed nerves.