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Chocobo Day Vacation

There is an old legend in the land of Midgar of a chocobo racer who was the best, the most athletic, the most in tune handler of chocobos. One day he was so concentrated on his race that he did not notice when he had won. He and his black chocobo raced around and around the track, getting faster and faster and surpassing themselves every lap. Eventually the chocobo and rider decided to stop and found that the world around them had moved on. It had been hundreds of years since they started the race. The rider bemoaned the loss of his friends and family that he had left behind, before he got onto his mount again. They ran together until the end of time.

Like our hero, they were outside of time. Unlike our hero, the racers never found a way back. Instead, our hero lost his ability to go forward. He lost his way through time. And the Planet followed.

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Diclaimer: I do not own (or even beaten) any Final Fantasy games. I have seen them beaten, heard all the plot-lines and seen most of the cut scenes thanks to fanatic friends. But, lo, I am not much of a RPG player myself. Because of this story I am currently playing through FFVII, which you can apparently buy for download on your PS3. Good deal, yo! No profit is made on this story. In fact, it could be argued that I spent $10.61 already on research for actually writing it (why is there tax on a download? They can't possibly know what state I am in. Or if I'm even a US resident! Well, maybe that. Is it based on the state their company is in? (Teeheehee, could totally make a joke on that)). FFVII belongs to someone or other, probably Sony. Not me!

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"I think what Seph needs is a little one-on-one time." Zach mused. "Someone who is there just for him. More than just us. We're his friends."

"Uh..." Cloud gave him a sidelong look. What had they been trying to do this whole time?

"I know, Spikey! But it's not working. He won't take a second glance at any of the women we keep throwing at him, even if they are drop dead gorgeous." Zach pouted.

"Probably because they are pale and sweating at the sight of him." Cloud scoffed. "They probably would piss themselves if he did show interest."

"Exactly! We need someone who isn't intimidated by him."

"Well, then that leaves two decaying deserters and the two of us, Zach." Cloud shook his head. "And exactly no females." Except maybe Aeris... that was a thought, but meeting an actual Cetra tended to make Sephiroth lose it even faster than thinking he was a Cetra. If he could abduct one of his old AVALANCE teammates and level them up, that might work... though the idea of raising someone to be someone's mate was pretty sketchy. If only Yuufie was older. That could be a classic political mairrage right there. And Heavens knew that that girl wasn't afraid of anything. Even when she really, really should be. But she was barely born at this point. Sephiroth would be irrevocably insane before she was even pubescent.

Zach started to look at Cloud with a gleam in his eye that was a bit too speculative. The blond eyed him warily.

"Oh, Hel no!" Cloud snapped, jumping to his feet.

"Just think of it, Spikey! It can't be me- I'm too straight..."

"I'm not gay!" Cloud protested. "And..." He continued desperately, "Sephiroth isn't either." He thought about what he had just said. "Probably." He added, with much less conviction. They guy did prefer tight, tight leather, working out and making his hair look pretty... and that sword was definitely longer than it needed to be. Longer, really, than was practical.

Zach kept going over the protestations of his friend. "And besides, my shoulders are way too broad. I would never fit in a dress. You, on the other hand- you could make it look good."

Cloud didn't really feel like he could argue that point as he had, once upon a future, looked extremely good in a dress and been, essentially, a highly paid hooker. He shuddered. Wait... but why was he going to be wearing a dress? Were they assuming that Sephiroth was gay or not?

"And it can't be Angeal for the same reason as me. And Genesis is really sick and sort of crazy to boot. No way he could stop spouting poetry long enough to be a convincing woman. You're our only hope." Zach looked up at Cloud with his most impressive puppy dog face. Cloud, despite his intense desire to never be caught dead in a dress again- who knows how far he would go this time? Or if there would be friends to come bust in and save him from making out with some fat old dude? His brain flash-backed in a way he really thought he had gotten over and he grunted a bit before clutching his head.

Despite his deep-seated fear of crossdressing, the puppy face was starting to wear him down. Cloud blamed the flash-back-igrain. But thinking a bit more, it was Sephiroth, not some obese crime boss. Would it be so bad to make out with someone as gorgeous as the General? Hel, he had long hair like a woman and everything. Zach's next comment broke through his musings. "And let's be honest. If there is one guy you would go gay for, who else but Sephiroth?"

"If you think so, then why don't you sleep with him?" Cloud groused. "And if I'm 'going gay' why the Hel do I have to wear a damn dress!"

Zach dramatically put his hand on his chest, sighing forlornly. "Appearances, Cloud! You can't be sleeping with young male Regulars when you're the General of the Army." Cloud didn't see why not. It wasn't like the rumors about Angeal and Zack before he got into SOLDIER had been met with Turks investigating. Well, that anyone knew about. Possibly it had happened. "Our dear Seph needs someone who can be emotionally involved with him. You know, not just use him like everyone else."

"I don't see why that means that I should do it." Cloud had to concede the point, but was confused about the approach. How would getting him to do... things with the General mean anything emotionally stable and healthy? He killed the man almost as much as he died and looped back in time. This plan would certainly precipitate the psychotic break. If one more person used Sephiroth, especially in the way Cloud was sort of sure he couldn't help based on what Zack was proposing... let's just say it would be an interesting end of the world.

Cloud turned to Zack desperately. "You don't just want me to give the guy a little relief, you want me to date him? You do realize that I don't really want to have anything to do with him?" The General still left him extremely confused when he was not trying to kill him. Since Cloud knew that he would. Cloud had tried to get Sephiroth to not destroy the world... but someone else, usually even worse, would take his place (usually after grafting Sephiroth onto themselves somehow). Or someone would just resurrect Sephiroth. Or try to use the Planet to destroy itself for kicks. Hel, the Deepground people hadn't even had the excuse of being driven mad by a troubled childhood and being possessed by and alien.

"Well, when you put it that way... it does sound a little bad." Zach mused.

"Thank you." Cloud slumped in the chair and cracked open another beer.

"We'll just have to get him drunk." Zach said firmly. Cloud spewed beer all over himself and started cursing, but the other man ignored him. "Alcohol won't work of course. But he's pretty loopy after the sessions with Hojo where he gets all the mako. You should jump him when he's out of it." Zach smiled devilishly.

"Absolutely not." Cloud said flatly.

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Cloud sat with his arms crossed over the generous padding in his bra. He was very annoyed with Zach at the moment. Persistent puppy eyes had worn away at his resolve for the past few weeks. He had finally caved to the pressure a few days ago. Of course the 'perfect opportunity' had happened right after Cloud had given in. He was pretty sure that Zach had planned it that way. If he could give Zach enough credit for being that sneaky...

Cloud didn't know and didn't want to know where and how Zach had gotten a very familiar blue dress (soft and slinky!) and blond wig, but that wasn't really relevant. At least there was no damn tiara.

Zach had not let up even when Cloud begged him to see that there was no reason for him to dress in drag if they were trying to make this a 'dating' thing. Cloud pouted at the Sephiroth's completely impersonal apartment. The leather couch still squeaked newness, the cushions so plump they obviously had never been sat on. Everything about the room was clean not due to hygiene, but lack of use. Did the General even sleep in here? Maybe Cloud would get lucky and just sit on the couch all night.

A few minutes later, Cloud sat back a bit and sighed. At least this was something that he hadn't done before. What with the Planet's seeming inability to tolerate him in the Lifestream for more than a few hours, he had done basically everything and every female Midgar had to offer. Over and over. He wondered if this would be considered a 'save point' and he would have to seduce Sephiroth until he got it 'right' or ran out of 'lives'. Knowing that the current living Zach had set him up for this whole thing, probably the Zach in the Lifestream would get a kick out of just that. Cloud winced. It could be one of those situations where only Aeris was standing in the way of Zach's Operation: Settle Sephiroth Into Happy.

Cloud had wanted to call it Sephiroth Happy Is Terrible, both because it was true- Cloud had only ever seen the man happy when he was psychotically destroying the world, and because any plan that Zack came up with to try to make Sephiroth Happy ended up SHIT-ty to the extreme. At least so far as Cloud could see. He was always vetoed. How SSIH was better Cloud never knew, though Zack got a kick out of going 'shhhhhhh' every time he saw Sephiroth. A good way to get oneself run through with Musume, in Cloud's opinion, especially with how the General's eyebrow tended to twitch when he saw Zack lately. It was definitely the 'I'm about to kill you' eyetwitch with a hint of 'I may or may not be sane while I do it'. In comparison, squeaking 'shit!' and running away was an extremely common reaction and did not even register in Sephiroth's mind. It probably meant that when Cloud finally had to kill him the man would ask who the hell he was, but then, Cloud was used to that. And much better than the few times he had become friends with the guy. The added betrayal made Cloud feel extremely guilty. Yes, definitely better to keep distance. Sort of like the opposite of what about to do.

The beep of the lock disengaging sent a shot of fear through Cloud's chest. "Shit!" He squeaked, sounding annoyingly feminine. He straightened in the seat and brushed his hands nervously down the pleats of his skirt.

The General walked in and closed the door with a definitive click. The tall man sagged and sighed, brushing his hand over his face. Sephiroth stood and walked unsteadily into the room, his usual poise dropped for the moment and revealing how tired and drugged he was.

Cloud could tell the second Sephiroth saw him as the other man straightened and his expression froze over.

They stared at each other in silence for many long moments before Cloud shrugged in a what-the-Hel gesture and spoke. "Hello."

After all that build up, it was a pretty lame opening. Oh well. It wasn't like any of the usual pick up lines would do anything besides make Cloud break out in hysterical laughter. Though this did present some unique opportunities. Such as: Is that Masamune or are you happy to see me? Cloud smirked slightly at the thought, though he was trying very hard to keep his face straight.

"I am not in the mood. You may go." Sephiroth growled. The General walked past the couch stiffly. He lacked his usual grace but was no longer obviously tired and drunk.

Cloud's eyebrow twitched in annoyance. He hadn't gotten himself all worked up to be dismissed so easily. It didn't even occur to him to be relieved at the way he had obviously been forgotten. The General was walking the walk of a man who was having intense desire for being flat and, well, sleeping. That could have been another pick-up line, but Sephiroth really did not look like he was in a state to appreciate humor. Or potentially speech in general. However, Cloud was much too used to confrontations with the man ending up life or death and emotionally draining to even consider leaving it at that.

Cloud grabbed Sephiroth's arm and tugged on it firmly. Both were rather surprised when the taller man fell sideways onto Cloud's lap. The General blinked and looked a bit dazed at the sudden shift. Cloud wondered just how drunk Hojo's experiment had left the other and felt a slight twinge of guilt. He pushed that to the side as he steeled himself, grabbing Sephiroth's face on either side of his jaw and bringing the him down for a kiss. Cloud put all of his considerable experience into the effort, feeling annoyed at the whole situation. If he had to do this, then it would at least show off the skill that made many a woman swoon; it cut down considerably on the foreplay, which is why it was something he had put a lot of effort into learning. Besides, there was his male pride to consider.

Cloud was totally unprepared for the effect of the little moan that Sephiroth let out. He should have been, seeing as that was almost always an effect of the technique he had just used (in his mind, he called it his Kissing Limit Break, level 4). But in women it just made him feel smug. In Sephiroth, General of SOLDIER, hero of Wutai... The feeling of power went straight to his head and shot like a bolt through his body. Cloud shoved Sephiroth back onto the couch and levered his knees between the other man's legs, growling as he bit the other's neck. Sephiroth gasped and grabbed Cloud's hair. Or rather his wig.

"Mn?" Sephiroth muttered as he looked at the wig in his fist. The General's eyes flicked to Cloud's eyes and he blinked in confusion. His eyes were quite dilated and Cloud was unsure why. "Cloud?" Sephiroth asked, shaking his head. He threw the wig away and grabbed the dress, which did not last long against the mako enhanced strength.

Cloud froze as he found himself suddenly naked.

"Hmm." Sephiroth purred. "Much better."

Cloud blinked in surprise, earlier questions about the man's sexual preferences non-withstanding. Though the General had never seemed interested in either sex, he would at least put up with the women on occasion. Why the hell didn't the silver haired annoyance ever take up with any of the SOLDIERs? Or was it something about Cloud that Sephiroth liked? The thought made Cloud's rational side fly out the window and straight off the edge of the Plate.

Cloud growled and ran his hands down Sephiroth's front, humming in satisfaction as the General rose into his touch. He struggled a bit before he popped that one stupid clasp on Sephiroth's coat. He grinned as he could finally push the leather off the other man's shoulder. This is a bad idea... came a faint throught from the back of Cloud's mind. But Sephiroth's whole body arched up as Cloud's hands went behind the other's back until their bare chests were flush against each other and he found he couldn't stop. No more than he could stop in the middle of one of their battles. It was too intense and even better than a fight... it was addictive. He maneuvered himself more securely between the other's legs and practically purred in satisfaction at the proof that Sephiroth was enjoying himself as much as he was.

Then it all went black.

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"I am so sorry Cloud! I do not know everything when we are alive, you know that. I would have never asked you to do that if I had know." Zach glowed slightly in the Lifestream.

"What the hell happened?" Cloud felt slightly bad to see his friend that distressed, but really- he deserved it. Never mind that Cloud felt more satisfied that he had in an almost unknowable amount of time. He hadn't been this excited, confused, worked up and basically... feeling something in longer than he cared to think about. Thankfully physical states did not translate into the Lifestream otherwise he had a suspicion he would have a horrific case of blue balls.

"He cast Sleep on you, wigged out and ran you through with Masamune." Zach explained.

At the description Cloud could remember a brief moment of lucidity when he had woken up looking up the length of Masamune protruding through his chest to a very irate... naked... flushed... mmm...

"Cloud? Are you ok? I am so sorry that I made you get stabbed by Sephiroth again." Zach gushed.

"Zach, relax." Aeris sighed, rolling her eyes at her boyfriend. She could actually hear the thoughts running through Cloud's mind and the rather catastrophic failure of his heterosexuality, so she wasn't worried about the Weapon's glassy stare as Zach was.

"I'm fine." Cloud said absently. He couldn't quite get his mind off of his death... and what had lead up to it. What the hell had even happened? He felt confused.

"I didn't know yet that he got so aggressive and emotionally unstable on the mako treatments. I usually learned later in the timeline that it makes Seph have massive mood swings and homicidal tendencies." Zach apologized again.

"Huh. Than being crystallized in it for four plus years..."

"Yeah. Did not help him to get over his delusions of godhood and desire to destroy the world." Zach said with a sad smile.

"Well, time's up Cloud. What do you want to do?" Aeris asked.

"I think I need a vacation." Cloud mused. "I'm obviously losing my mind."

As Cloud faded from the Lifestream, Aeris shot a sad look at Zack. "Are you sure you're going to be alright?" She asked him.

Zack shrugged. "There isn't much that can be done about it, is there?" He asked philosophically.

"But... maybe if you told him?"

Zack laughed humorlessly. "Tell him that I'm not the Zack he thinks I am but a splintered mirror of a soul that gave him schizophrenia? I don't think so. It was enough that I made him bear that burden to begin with. He doesn't need another. What he needs is for this shit to end."

"You know that can't happen, Zack." Aeris said sadly. "The Planet needs to live, and its old method of packing up and leaving, well... it didn't really work, did it?"

"I know." Zack sighed. "But why does he have to be aware of it?"Zack shook his head. "Don't answer that." After all, the answer to that question was the same one that he was not telling Cloud. Zack/Cloud trapped in the Lifestream both prevented the real Cloud from staying, allowed the Planet to maintain a timeline for the loops and thus have them work at all AND meant that both he and Cloud were never going to have the blessed gift of forgetting and ignorance.

"In a way, you saved the Planet, Zack." Aeris said sadly as she began to fade into her reincarnation.

"Yeah." Zack said as he watched her completely disappear. It didn't matter that it was the Planet that had twisted his already rather bizarre attempt at comfort by quoting his mentor into shattering two souls... it was still him that set up the situation. It hadn't happened to Angeal when he'd said the same time, after all. "Yeah, I'm a real hero. Whoop dee do." He sighed and contemplated the endless, empty fields of the Promised Lands. "Being a hero fucking sucks."

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A/N: Chocobo Day is a reference to Groundhog Day (the movie) which somewhat inspired this story as there was a marathon running when I got attacked by this plot bunny. The 'Vacation' part basically can be translated to 'Crack ahead!' Rated M because, well... because of this chapter? Probably I will not get totally lemon-y, though. Yes, I am aware that this is what 'M' usually means.

There is more of this written and I will probably post it soon-ish. Contemplating if I want to do an update schedule like I did for Fuzzy Logic (one chapter/3 weeks) but life is crazy now, so may or may not happen. Also I just sort of started another story... and need to finish that damn HP one. And there is always my original stuff... only so many hours in the day for hobbies, yo!

Having Cloud swear by 'Hel' is a nod to some other FFVII fic I read a while ago that had a lot of Norse mythology in it, which I thought was cool. Even though I have Cloud later mentioning that his home food is rather Tibetan. Um... fantasy world? Yeah, we'll go with that as an explanation.

Like basically all of my stories, this one was based off of (stupidly) asking the question 'why does it have to always be the same?' after reading waaaaay too many time travel fics, which lead to an attack by a(n evil) plot bunny. This particular story also brought to you by the vitamin C. No, not the one in citrus, the one in coffee.