Yay! Here's the first of many short oneshot-y things. This collection is gonna be all the little ideas I have that may not be long/ super enough to become their own amazing oneshots, but things I think are cute enough to share with the masses. XD Expect lots of updates. This is also here so I won't get writers block and not update anyyything for months on end.
Not everything will be ASGZC-some oneshots will be SephCloud, others AngealZack, or GenZackCloud, or AngealGenesisSephiroth, anything. Most have a prompt and a pairing. For example, this chapter is:
Cloud is a lifeguard at the community pool, and there's this one idiot who keeps pretending to drown so Cloud will jump in and save him... Zack/Cloud
Feel free to request! And enjoy! :)
Quick quick quick, tap tap. Maybe a bit of a slap every now and then.
It wasn't like there was anything else to do up here (that is, other than actually do his job). Cloud tapped the upper parts of his fingers and the heels of his hands against the exposed skin of his thighs in some sort of beat absently, listening to the screams and excited chatter of children.
Fuck, it was hot. The whole past week it had been well over a hundred degrees outside. There was an umbrella at the top of his lifeguard tower, which gave him a little shade, but the air itself was almost unbearable. Air conditioning—he missed it. It needed to rain, and soon.
Eventually Cloud realized that the tops of his thighs were perhaps a bit too hot and reached backwards to grab the tube of sunscreen he had put there earlier. His eyes flicked over the groups of people in his section of the pool as he rubbed the sunscreen into his legs and arms. He smiled at couple of girls walking by as he applied it to his chest—they giggled when he pushed a finger into his bellybutton. They continued, Cloud got his neck and shoulders, and life continued as it always did. Lifeguarding. Majorly fun stuff.
A short distance away sat Kunsel, telling some kids that no, they couldn't stand on each others' shoulders. The poor guy had to watch over the shallow end, teeming with little brats for—Cloud checked his phone—about twenty more minutes.
The silver whistle around Cloud's neck ran out shrilly in the hot air. "You can't eat in the pool ma'am," he said cordially to a woman who was about to get into the pool with a bag of chips.
"Are you talking to me?" she said, looking left and right.
No, I'm talking to the invisible person next to you. "Yes. No food in the pool, please. There's designated eating areas." He pointed. The woman walked off like he had insulted her personally. Some people. With a sigh Cloud leant back against his seat, squinting up at the sky. No clouds. It needed to rain—it was far too hot.
Back to watching the people. Cloud's stomach growled, and he frowned. Hot.
The water looked inviting. What he wouldn't give to dunk himself for a second or two... Cloud eyed the cheeseburger Luxiere was happily eating as he walked by, on his lunch break. Hm.
His hands started tapping again. Can't someone just drown already? I'm melting.
Cloud stopped his tapping and froze. Almost directly beneath his tower was someone floating on their stomach. Maybe. People did that all the time, pretending to be drowned victims for a few seconds, then coming up and laughing with their friends after they had scared a lifeguard half to death (Tifa had had a particularly unfortunate experience with this).
He waited, for just a few seconds. The man wasn't moving.
Cloud blew his whistle furiously, three short bursts, gesturing to Sephiroth, who was closest. He seized the rescue tube from its place beside him and jumped down, concrete burning hot on his bare feet; he ignored it. He jumped into the pool.
It had been quite some time since there had been an incident at Shin-Ra Pool, and never had a victim been unconscious in the water. Fuck.
Cloud reached the man. He was probably around his age, fit, looking scarily useless as he floated. His bathing suit had big sunflowers on it. Enough observations. Cloud placed the tube between his chest and the victim's shoulders, then carefully rolled him face up, being careful of his neck. Did this guy hit himself? Get a cramp? What? Black hair was sticking to the front of his face; Cloud swiped it all away with one hand as he kicked powerfully, towing him to the shallows.
Kunsel helped him carefully remove the man from the water. They laid him flat on the hard, hot ground, and Cloud quickly knelt by his neck and shoulders.
"Sephiroth's called for an ambulance," Kunsel said, voice slightly shaky. Cloud nodded.
He shook the man's shoulder and said loudly, almost a yell, "Are you okay?" As expected, no answer. Dammit. Alright, ABC's! Simple enough!
Airway. Cloud gently tilted his chin forward and his head back. He ducked, pressing his cheek almost to the other's mouth. Not breathing.
Then, he took a second or two to compose himself. Breathing. He pinched the man's nose shut and pressed their mouths together tightly and breathed out, a strong burst, just for a second. The man's chest rose. That was good. Cloud breathed out again, trying to block out the sounds of scared poolgoers commentating.
Circulation. Cloud finished his second breath, swung a knee over the man's torso for better leverage—even though he wasn't really supposed to—and began the chest compressions. It was twenty—no, thirty for every two breaths. Right?
Calm down, Cloud. He'll be okay. Don't panic.
Cloud drove the heels of his hands, one on top of the other, straight down. After reaching thirty he reached for the man's face again, doing two more breaths. His spit clung between their mouths in a long strip, messy and probably over both their chins. He had to do what he had to do, though, messy or not.
After just a few compressions this time the man began coughing, eyes flying open. He flailed, one arm hooking over Cloud's shoulders and the other pushing him up, onto his side. He coughed some more, water pouring out of his mouth, before sinking back down, staring at Cloud with half-closed, exhausted, glazed eyes. Cloud panted a few inches above the other and gasped, "You alright?"
The man stared at him for a few seconds before his question sunk in. "...Perfect," he said hoarsely, arm falling off Cloud's back to the ground.
Cloud looked up at Genesis and Sephiroth who were running towards them, followed by paramedics. "I'm Zack, by the way," the man said, grinning weakly.
Zack's hand was given a quick squeeze and Cloud moved away, backing up as the paramedics closed in. They all watched as Zack was strapped onto an LSB and wheeled away.
Cloud sagged as soon as the sound of the ambulance's alarm faded into the distance. He felt Angeal's arm come around him; he leaned against his friend and laughed weakly when Angeal clapped him on the back. "Good job," he told him. Everyone else agreed.
Genesis let Cloud have his lunch break early, praising his quick thinking. Kunsel bought his lunch and ate with him, politely ignoring the way his fingers trembled as his adrenaline left him.
"I never want to do that again," Cloud said darkly, shoving a french fry into his mouth. Kunsel laughed, patted his elbow, and went back to texting someone some new blackmail about someone else he had discovered.
The next day Cloud lounged in his tower, not tapping but twisting, playing with the string of his whistle. It was just as hot, just as grossly sticky. He wiped his sweaty upper lip and fanned himself with a piece of paper. This time he was stationed near the slides. Soon he'd be at the kiddie pool. Cringe.
He was still getting pats on the back and stuff from the others for his efforts the previous day. He had heard that Zack had been just fine, and had gone home in just a few hours. Just the thought—He had saved a life—made him grin uncontrollably. It was an awesome feeling.
Cloud turned and peered over his rescue buoy, at a man standing a few feet away, on the ground. He realized it was the guy from yesterday, and smiled. "Try not to die today, please."
Zack grinned and walked around to the front of the huge elevated chair, folding his arms on the platform and looked up at him. "Thanks a lot, for everything."
"I was just doing my job," Cloud countered, somewhat bashfully.
"You do it well. Really well."
"Uh, thanks." Cloud looked away from Zack and blew his whistle. "You can't go down the slide backwards," he chastised some elementary-school kid. "Only sitting, and face first. Alright?"
The kid scowled and climbed up the ladder, out of the pool, then darted for the line at the slides again. "No running!" Cloud hollered, and the kid settled for a fast walk.
He looked back at his companion, to find Zack still in the same position, still grinning. "When did you become a lifeguard?" He asked. He brushed his hair out of his eyes, looking genuinely interested. He was a good-looking guy, Cloud noticed. Crazily spiky black hair, happy blue eyes. He hadn't had the time to really observe yesterday. He wasn't dressed in a bathing suit; he had probably just stopped by to thank him.
"Hm... it was in tenth grade that I took the class to become certified," he answered, biting on the string of his whistle as he thought. "Next year is my second year of college."
Zack smiled again (did he ever stop?). "Me too." He clapped both hands on the wood of the tower, right next to Cloud's toes and stepped away. "That's cool." He raised a hand and wiggled his fingers. "See you around?"
"Yup. I'm glad you're alright—I was almost worried there, for a minute."
Zack laughed, wide mouth splitting into a toothy smile. "Me too. See you...uh..."
"See you, Cloud." Zack left with one last grin. Cloud watched him walk out, then went back to surveying the two ancient slides.
At the end of the day Genesis asked suspiciously, "Who were you talking to earlier?"
Cloud was quick to explain, knowing his boss, while laid-back and super nice to all his employees, hated it when his lifeguards slacked off or didn't pay attention to their job.
"Did you find out why he drowned?" Genesis quizzed him, as they locked up and walked towards their cars.
"Nah, I didn't ask."
"Oh well. See you tomorrow." Genesis bumped his shoulder with his fist and got into his car, peeling away and pulling on his seatbelt at the same time. Cloud sighed in amusement, knowing he should probably be more afraid of Sephiroth's driving than Genesis's, and got into his own car.
That night, as Cloud ate dinner with his family, he thought back to what had happened right before the whole incident. Can't someone just drown already? I'm melting, he had thought. Then—well, Zack had nearly died. It was freaky.
After dinner he effectively pushed all thoughts of strange psychic guilt aside by playing a new snowboarding video game he had bought (don't tell any of his friends, this was his secret). It was new, shiny, fabulous. His friend Aerith played it too—though, she would never be quite at his level of mastery, if he had anything to say about it.
For a week or so life continued like this. During the day Cloud would roast outside, yelling at ignorant and crazy people, and at night he'd come home, win competitions or faceplant into snow, eat dinner and fall asleep. Summer. It was a glorious time.
Then came one endless Tuesday—Cloud's least favorite day of the week—and he was once more applying sunscreen as he gazed out over the water (the smell of the stuff was probably going to stay on him for the rest of forever). Sephiroth was leaning against Angeal's tower; they were too far for Cloud to make out their conversation, but he could probably guess what it was about. There were at least five girls hovering around Cid, as usual. Lucky guy—or, on second thought, unlucky guy. That had to get pretty annoying, no matter how pretty the girls were.
Cloud glanced at his watch, signaled to Tifa and climbed down. Now he had to sit with his feet in the baby pool, watching little kids pee and shit themselves in the water. Joy. Cloud had taken a few steps when he heard a whistle blow, and glanced to the left, at Tifa.
Almost smack dab between him and the other lifeguard was a person in the water. Fuck.
Not again, Cloud thought. He blew his own whistle, yelled out a command and surveyed the victim, finding that, just like with Zack, they weren't moving—most likely unconscious, and just fucking shit—
It was when Cloud reached the man and started towing him over towards Vincent that he realized who it was. Zack. The idiot had drowned again.
In disbelief, he numbly got him onto land and checked for breathing, moving, a pulse. No, No, Yes. Okay.
Two frantic breaths, and chest compressions again. His arms were getting workouts. He felt Tifa's reassuring hand on his shoulder for a second, and then it slipped off.
Cloud breathed air into Zack's lungs, desperately trying to force life into this stupid man's body. He must have been wearing chapstick; their lips slipped over each other clumsily, teeth clacking—or, on second thought, maybe he was a drooling, spitty mess again.
Zack kicked and spluttered, coughing onto the concrete much faster than he had before. As soon as Cloud had pulled away to do more compressions Zack moved. It was...odd.
"Cloud?" Zack asked, still coughing.
"Did someone call an ambulance?" asked someone, from behind them.
"Yeah, I think—yeah. Yeah. Genesis did."
Cloud almost snapped at them to shut up; Zack was underneath him again and he really couldn't even believe it.
"What are the odds you almost die in our pool twice?" He asked in disbelief, reaching up with a hand and gently swatting away someone who tried to help him up.
Zack laughed. He had just almost died. Why was he laughing?
"I dunno." He sat up, coughed again—it didn't sound very convincing—and grabbed his hand. He squeezed it. "Man, I'm lucky you're here."
Cloud nodded and let Zack be dragged away by Genesis and watched him go, eyes narrowed.
After the second incident Genesis called them all together one morning. They all squashed together onto two old couches, staring at their boss nervously. None of the incidents had been any of their faults, but...
"Look," Genesis said finally, running a hand messily through his hair. "This is making us look bad. Cloud-" he flashed a quick smile at him, "-has been amazing, but people are starting to think we can't do our job, or keep anyone safe. Just... pay really close attention, alright? And if you see that Fair guy again, watch him like hawks!" He waved them all out with a frazzled smile and got a few sympathetic pats. Everyone split up to get ready for the day, and Cloud walked slowly to his station, looking up at the sky. No clouds. It needed to rain.
He ate lunch with with Angeal, Cid and Sephiroth, who all got on break a little bit before he did. They eventually had to leave, and left Cloud eating his packed lunch by himself at a table. It was alright, though—it was nice to have a bit of time to himself, and he was never really alone; friendly conversation was only ever a few feet away, with the amount of girls who went to Shin-Ra.
"Is that fruit punch?"
Cloud looked up and coughed juice halfway across the table. Zack patted him on the back twice, hard, and sat down beside him. Their knees bumped.
"Strawberry-Kiwi, actually," Cloud eventually managed. Zack hummed and nodded, inspecting his lunch.
"You know," Cloud began once he recovered completely, "You should stay out of the water."
"Why d'you say that?"
"...I would think nearly drowning twice would be a good reason. You obviously can't swim."
Zack sent him a bright, toothy smile. "I don't have to worry about that when you're on the job, though."
At that Cloud blinked, taking a sullen bite of his sandwich as he studied the other man. Up close he could say that they were probably the same age; maybe Zack was a bit older. He frowned, looking away from the other's wide, grinning mouth. "Next time I'll just let you die."
"You wouldn't do that!"
"I would." Cloud tried to ignore the voice in his mind that was pondering whether or not Zack had just stolen a sip of his juice.
"You'd get fired."
"It would be worth it."
"Ow." Zack laughed, and Cloud smiled.
"How do you keep..."
Zack shrugged, deftly stealing a pretzel out of a baggie. "I don't know. I'll be fine in the water, and then the next thing I know..."
Cloud winced. "You should swim with a friend, if you absolutely have to go swimming," he said sternly, honestly wanting to give some useful advice. "Never swim alone."
"I don't have any friends who go here."
He's so difficult. "Fine. Just be careful." He finished his juice, crumpled the little box and put it in the empty sandwich bag. He stood. "I have to go back to work now. You can keep those," he added as an afterthought, gesturing to the pretzels Zack was quite obviously taking now. The man beamed, Cloud gave a two-fingered wave, and they parted ways.
...Until two days later, when Cloud had to rescue Zack. Again. And then the next day—and the day after that.
Cloud had his suspicions. Something was off, yes. The answer to his questions though was so ridiculous he didn't even dare thinking about it. However, on Sunday afternoon he was forced to realize that the little voice in the back of his mind had been right.
Zack was faking.
Cloud crouched over Zack's wet, limp form, tilted his head back carefully and pressed their mouths together tightly. This was almost becoming a fucking routine. The other lifeguards were nervously chatting; this didn't make any more sense to them as it did to him.
Cloud breathed out, one hand tangled in Zack's soaked spikes, the other tightly gripping his chin. He took a breath, then was back, pressing close, trying to get Zack to breathe, dammit, breathe—
A tongue abruptly slid into his mouth, sliding along the inside of his cheek, over a top row of molars before finally finding his and twining around it.
For a second Cloud didn't move. Zack's lips moved against his, nothing too much but yes, definitely moving. Zack was kissing him.
Cloud sprang back, falling on his ass onto the ground. Zack was instantly up, coughing and looking pained and thankful to be alive, just like the other days.
He was one fucking good actor.
Zack looked completely innocent as he wiped eyes that were perhaps filled with tears (yeah right!) and took deep breaths of air, like he honestly couldn't believe that he'd ever get to again.
The knowledge that Zack was pretending to drown so that he'd get mouth-to-mouth and could kiss him didn't bother Cloud that much.
That was a lie. A filthy, filthy lie.
He couldn't even believe it. His first reaction had been to tell someone—he had dragged Angeal into a small stall in the bathrooms, fully prepared to tell him, then realized he couldn't. It was... it was just too freaking weird. He had shrugged helplessly, pulled him out, only to get a very strange look from Vincent. Angeal had been good about it, though, patting his elbow and telling him that if he ever had to talk, he'd be there. Such a good friend.
No, Cloud didn't tell anyone. Not yet, anyway. Maybe Zack wouldn't come back; maybe he wouldn't bother him anymore; maybe he wouldn't try to drown himself again. He didn't really believe it.
Sure enough, the next day, almost directly in front of his lifeguard tower was a floating body. He fucking hated Mondays.
Cloud stared at it for a few seconds, praying that somehow no one else would notice. Couldn't they all just ignore him? He was a hot guy, and to be honest Cloud wouldn't have minded kissing him, for real—but this was weird and he really couldn't handle it.
"Lifeguard!" some fat kid yelled, flailing his arms. "He's dead!"
"He's not dead," Cloud said calmly. "He's faking."
He could have sworn he saw Zack twitch.
"No," stressed the kid, "He's dead!" A woman and her husband swimming a short distance away looked over at that and started yelling for him too. Cloud tried to explain how he was just faking it, to bother him, he was—he was his friend, see, and was just trying to bug him—hahaha—
They didn't buy it, and Cloud ended up wet, dragging Zack out of the pool again, this time with enraged poolgoers heckling him. He made his chest compressions especially vicious, and he saw a little bit of air escape Zack's lungs with each one. He was starting to bruise from all the repeated harsh treatment, day after day; the thought made him feel a little better, but only a little.
Cloud hesitantly brought their lips together. Now that he knew what this was it was so, so much different—this wasn't saving someone's life. This was... whatever this was. His nails dug into Zack's cheek in warning, but the man didn't listen. He planted a solid smooch to his lips, and Cloud's nails dragged down, trying to inflict as much damage as possible in a short amount of time. In a few seconds they broke apart, Zack's smile victorious, despite the red scratches down the side of his face. Cloud was glaring, lips tingling and heart thumping.
The next three days were taken off. A breather was sorely needed. Genesis hadn't even hesitated giving it to him; Cloud had been doing a lot of life-saving lately, after all, and even though this one couple had filed a complaint against him he was one of the better employees.
For three days Cloud hid at home, looking at himself in the mirror, playing his snowboarding game and eating instant ramen. Living large.
Eventually he'd have to confront Zack, he knew. He'd yell, Zack would leave him alone, and that would be the end of that.
To be honest, though, some part of Cloud thought that this was kind of...cool. In his defense it wasn't every day that someone did something so crazy for his attention; he couldn't help but be flattered, underneath all his confusion.
Cloud resolved to do nothing, at least for a few more days. If Zack continued, then he'd say something. Probably.
It was Genesis who brought Cloud into his stuffy office four days later. Zack had 'drowned' four more times—and Cloud had saved him—and been kissed by him—four times too. The third day a civilian had tried to rescue Zack after screaming at Cloud, who was vehemently swearing that Zack was just pretending, and had nearly drowned himself. Cloud had ended up saving two people, and Genesis had gotten a lawsuit threat by an angry wife.
Genesis sat Cloud in his chair and stood in front of him, hands going to his hips. Before the man could open his mouth Cloud said desperately, "He's faking it—really. Really, Genesis. I can't get him to stop."
He got a critical look for his efforts, and Genesis sighed loudly, leaning against a wall and resting his head against it. He asked quietly, clearly exhausted, "...How can you tell?"
Cloud went crimson. He fidgeted, clenched his knees together with his hands clapped in between them, and jiggled a knee. Genesis frowned, waiting for an answer, and Cloud squinted, looked at the floor and told him what Zack was really up to.
Genesis was quiet for a moment, and then he brought a hand to his forehead with far more force than was necessary. "I'm not going to get sued over weird puppy love." He walked forward, put his hands on Cloud's shoulders and shook him back and forth as he said loudly, suddenly quite scary, "Get him to stop, you hear me? I don't care what you have to do."
Wincing, Cloud protested, "But-"
Genesis gave him that look, and he fell silent. Finally he nodded, sighing, and Genesis pushed him out with a chuckle, clearly enjoying his misery. Cloud turned around sullenly, watching as Genesis shut the door in his face. "I mean it!" he called through the door, and Cloud rolled his eyes, leaving.
The next day Cloud hid next to the entrance, near the bathrooms. From his position he could see the people who entered.
He had to intercept Zack before he could pull anything today.
He saw a few friends walk in, but not who he was looking for. Eventually he grew tired of standing, people were looking at him funny, and he was sweating. Just a few more minutes, he promised himself, and stuck through it.
Sure enough, Zack entered right after his little promise. He was wearing a bathing suit—sunflowers again—and a white t-shirt. He immediately turned to the side, making a beeline for the grassy areas, where people laid out their towels and blankets. Cloud noticed Zack didn't have anything with him. He backed up a few feet, waited until Zack passed in front of him and sprang out, latching onto the other's arm and pulling.
Zack struggled for about two seconds, then realized who was grabbing him. He relaxed and asked, surprised, "Cloud?"
Cloud paused. He hadn't actually planned out his speech yet. He let go, took a step back and frowned for a few seconds, then settled for growling, "You need to stop drowning yourself every day."
It was the weirdest sentence he had ever spoken.
Zack didn't seem surprised in the least that he had figured it out. He raised his eyebrows and stayed silent, hands finding his bathing suit pockets.
Both men were quiet, Zack patiently waiting, and Cloud refusing to give in. But eventually Cloud sighed and said shortly, "You're going to get us shut down. You're giving our pool a bad name. You really need to stop."
He didn't even have the decency to look guilty. Zack beamed, as if that had been his intention all along.
"Look," he grinned, "I hear you. I don't want that any more than you do." (Cloud didn't quite believe him.) "I'll stop-" He held up one slender finger, "-if you go on one date with me."
"...No?" Zack questioned a minute later, after Cloud had said nothing.
"You just want a date?" Cloud asked slowly.
Zack went back to smiling again. "Yup."
"You couldn't have, just, asked me out?"
Cloud caught sight of Genesis lurking around, spying on them, and he sighed, gaze stubbornly not landing on Zack.
"...I guess," he ground out, trying to look annoyed still but quite literally a mess on the inside.
Zack snapped his fingers in victory and swooped in, giving Cloud a kiss—a real one, no pretending-to-be-dying involved whatsoever. "I'll pick you up here tomorrow," he said, hand cupping Cloud's cheek; Cloud somehow didn't mind the foreign hand that landed on his hip and squeezed gently.
Tap tap, taptaptap—
Cloud leant back in his chair, looking up at the sky. Still no clouds. It desperately needed to rain.
Something poked his foot, and he jumped. Zack's ever-smiling face was shadowed by a hat today—yesterday he had told him how he really liked hats. This one suited him.
Cloud weakly blew his whistle, not quite loud enough for anyone far away to hear him. "No bothering the lifeguards."
At that Zack pouted. His fingers wiggled across the hot platform, reaching for his toes. Cloud moved his foot away, wishing the other had never found out he was ticklish.
"How are you today?"
Perfect. "Okay," Cloud answered easily, turning his head to the right but really looking at Zack out of the corner of his sunglasses. Sneaky.
They had gone out to dinner the evening before, and then Zack had brought him to this magician's show close by. It had been pretty freaking cool, even though he had felt a little bit silly, cheering along with some littler kids. Then they had just hung out for a while, talking and, well, kissing. You couldn't blame them.
"Hey, Zack?" Cloud questioned as soon as he got on his break, as they walked to an empty picnic table. "Was it hard faking that whole time? You were pretty convincing...well, the first time."
Zack's hand found his. "I really did almost drown that time," he laughed. "I think I got a cramp. I don't really remember. But I woke up and there you were."
Cloud turned red, sped up and pulled his new boyfriend along behind him so he wouldn't see. "Don't do it again," he said, annoyed and not making sense.
They sat, pulled out lunch and started eating. Zack's knees brushed his under the table, and this time Cloud didn't try to stop him from stealing his food.
"You can save me the next time I almost die for real," Zack murmured through a mouthful of sandwich, and Cloud laughed. So ridiculous.
He was so wrapped up in Zack he didn't notice the dark storm cloud at the edge of the horizon, bringing with it the blessed rain he had been looking for for weeks now.
ZackCloud is not going to be the only pairing, I would just like to stress that again- these things are any and all combinations of ASGZC. :D