Summary: Cloud returns from a routine mission feeling a little out of place and its up to his four older lovers to find out why. What's haunting their little cadet?
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Has a sequel called Rebuilding the Broken, however Blizzaga is a completely different story.
Love can make you happy, but oftentimes it hurts, but love is only special when you give it to whom it's worth.
A/N- If you want the sad ending I can do that too.
Cloud was returning that night and his lovers were anxious. Before he left there was something in his eyes that warned them, more so when he left without saying goodbye not even to Zack.
For weeks something had been off in his demeanour, his smile dimmer and his eyes darker, stormy. It was just when he'd started to move on from his shyness and become more outgoing, he'd suddenly backpedalled and reverted back into his bubble. It wasn't shyness this time, it was something colder more distant.
Then he left on a mission and the worries of the four men skyrocketed. The longer he was away, the crazier the men got. Finally the day when Cloud would return was here, and everyone supposed the four would be better, instead, they were worse.
The four had been testy all day, yelling at everyone, getting absolutely no work done, watching the clock as time slowly crawled past. The second their workday was officially over they were in their apartment, getting ready for their tiny blonde trooper to be coming home.
With only five minutes to go till his homecoming, the four were pining each other to couch with silent words as their need to see him, well and uninjured, grew with every second he was delayed.
A minute past the time he should've been knocking politely at their, shared, apartment door and gazing up at them from behind his adorable spiky hair coupled with bright blue eyes, Zack was getting jittery. Five minutes passed and Zack was up and doing squats next to the door, while Angeal was casting lasting glances at the framed wood.
"Staring at the door isn't going to magic Cloud through it," Genesis snapped, crossing his arms.
"No need to snap at me because you want him as much as the rest of us do."
Within ten minutes past the time Cloud was supposed to come home, Zack was up to 200 squats, Angeal was pacing up and down the length of the lounge room and Genesis was leaning against the wall, listening for the tread of deft feet in combat boots. It didn't take much longer for Genesis to Angeal's place pacing and Angeal to move into the kitchen to cook, with the reasoning Cloud would be hungry when he got home despite the fact the others knew he was trying to keep his mind and hands busy so he didn't rip the door off its hinges and go look for Cloud.
They waited two hours for their tiny chocobo to come home and at midnight they went to bed with heavy hearts and nightmare plagued minds. It didn't help that at midnight you wouldn't want to walk the buildings corridors alone unless you wanted to be abducted. They tried, unsuccessfully, to ward off the torturous scenarios flashing in their minds eyes.
Pretty blue skies, greyed and foggy. Bright sunflower petals bloodied and stiff, winter skin, shallow and dull. The storm that had brewed in the skies, dissipated to nothing taking its secrets with it to paradise.
Zack stopped in the doorway of their bedroom, that seemed a little emptier than before, and looked at his lovers and friends, "It was just a routine mission, right? He's coming back."
Zack's body relaxed but it was controlled and his eyes were bright with suppressed panic. Sleep would not come easy to young Soldier tonight.
"He'll be home," Sephiroth said calmly, but a steel edge was present, daring whatever deity there was to defy his word. With that unspoken challenge, they shut their eyes and tried to sleep away their worry.
A quiet creak of their door opening had them all awake in minutes, and immediately they drooped as they realised Cloud had not yet returned. It was early morning and the sun had not yet risen. Quiet footsteps drew their attention back to the intruder. With stealth only achievable by nimble feet and mako, they crept into the lounge room.
Whoever the intruder was it was obvious that they were soaking wet, as the four men followed a trail of boot prints and water puddles to the bathroom. Standing in the pale light that emitted from the bulbs in the bathroom, was a shirtless Cloud.
His hair and clothes were plastered flat by heavy rain. His blue eyes were cast down as he inspected the bruises marring his skin. The four men breathed a sigh of relief at seeing their younger lover relatively unharmed. The relieved feeling curled up and died when Cloud looked up.
His usually beautiful blue eyes were dull and his features blank. It was as if all emotion had been sucked from them. Droplets of water fell from his hair and landed in silence on his shoulders. There they slipped down his skin, inciting shivers at the cold. His eyes dropped to the floor again.
"Guys," he said softly, "what're you doing up?"
Sephiroth moved swiftly towards Cloud, who flinched harshly and tried to back away, before he was pulled into strong arms and a bared chest.
"We missed you little one," Genesis said, pulling Cloud into his own arms and then sending him off to Angeal and Zack. It wasn't until Zack was holding him, that they realised Cloud was shaking. Zack held him tighter, worried for his lover yet again in such a small space of time. With all the conflicting emotions he felt right now, all concerning Cloud, he felt he might explode. The poor boy was shaking and shivering severely, the cold and his own emotions battling it out inside his body and mind.
"Hey spiky, it's okay. Ssh, it okay," Zack, said comfortingly.
Cloud struggled in Zack's arms, twisting and turning, trying to gain leverage, before tearing himself away from the others and running out into the hall. His chest heaved in rage and his eyes flashed dangerously.
"Don't say that to me! It's not okay!" he screamed at them. His eyes were drowned in pain and tears left stains on his cheeks. Water cascaded from his stormy eyes, hands clenched into fists at his side, as he struggled to keep his secret locked away.
"Nothing can be okay anymore," he whimpered pitifully, hands wiping furiously at the tears that kept falling. He was going through a swift emotional spiral that made everything good fall to the ground. If he hadn't seen them until morning, if he could've just slipped into bed and talked to them in the morning, then this wouldn't be happening. The worry etched into their faces had sent him reeling, the reminder they cared too much for his weary, distressed mind for him to keep his emotions in check.
Zack knelt down before Cloud, who stood stiff as a board, staring at the floor. The other three stood in shock behind him, Cloud's outburst weighing heavily in their minds. Pulling Cloud's arm lightly, he tugged the boy against him. Cloud surrendered to the Soldier without a fight.
"What're you talking about Cloud?" Zack asked softly.
Cloud looked at Zack's Soldier, his mouth working but nothing coming out. The tears built up in his eyes and he felt himself start to shake with the pressure building inside him. Unable to stop himself, Cloud collapsed into his arms, sobbing. He tried to speak but it all came out unintelligible as he continued to sob harshly on Zack's chest. Waves and waves of anguish and pain poured from the boy and no matter how hard Cloud tried, he couldn't stop the storm of emotions that thundered through his body.
The three elder men moved swiftly and silently into action, preparing on autopilot everything Cloud would need to calm down and talk to them. Angeal began heating up a warm meal and hot drink, while Genesis ran a bath and Sephiroth helped Zack comfort Cloud, as they manoeuvred him back into the bathroom.
When Cloud was calm enough they tried to broach the subject of his earlier breakdown, but Cloud stubbornly refused to talk about it or at all and when Sephiroth got a little too pushy, he began to curl up and blubber cutely.
"I-I can't tell you. I can't, you'll leave me. You'll kick me out. I'm not worth the trouble, you'll say and then Hojo will get me, like last time," he cried, latching onto Sephiroth's arm and burying into his chest when the man turned to receive him. His small hands clenched and flexed repeatedly on Sephiroth's shoulders.
The four men stiffened and Sephiroth pulled Cloud out of the bath and into his lap His hands carded through the soft blonde hair and felt Cloud, slowly, relax into him.
"Cloud, what does he have to do with this?"
Cloud's hands clutched Sephiroth's shoulders tightly. "He's there, in my head, he made it all happen. It's all his fault!" he said lowly, beginning to thrash. Sephiroth's arms became a cage around him, preventing movement. Cloud stopped his movement and settled for curling into himself in shame.
"Cloud?" Genesis said, coming around with a blanket to give to Cloud.
Sephiroth held Cloud in his lap and the other three sat around them, while Cloud kept talking, unable to stop once he had begun, the storm inside him fuelling the flood that would reveal the only thing he had to hide from them, the only thing he was afraid for them to know.
"Nightmares show me. I see a different future. A place of pain and hardship, where Zack killed Angeal because he was dying from the cells inside him, inside us, and Genesis was suffering the same fate alone because Sephiroth condemned him. You burnt down my home, Seph, and killed my mother. Injured Tifa and Zack. You stabbed me with Masamune as you slowly went insane. It killed me to watch. "
He paused, eyes flicking frantically from side to side, waiting for the pulling out of PHS to call for the medics or the psychologist. He continued when no one moved, except for Zack moving closer to Angeal.
"Then he came, he took Zack and me and then for four years we were his toys," he wept and started shivering again despite the blanket. The men raged at a man who was already dead, wishing they could kill him again. They needed a way to reach across that gap between them and the place that Cloud was, so they could ease his pain, but they found the gap one they couldn't cross. Cloud was a distance to far for them to reach, and where he was he was alone.
"Zack got us out and then he died…for me."
He looked up and stared at Zack, the anger from before returning. It exploded in his eyes and he launched himself towards the other.
"You stupid piece of shit! How could you? Why didn't you just let me die?" he cried and would've punched Zack if Sephiroth hadn't pulled him away and held him so tightly he could barely move. He continued to scream obscenities at Zack until he was hoarse. With a pain filled sob, he continued.
"Then everything just got worse and worse. Every time I thought Seph'd finally gone, you'd come back and it hurt all the more because you came back even less like man I loved. I'm the same one, the same Cloud who killed you. I'm just as broken, just as weak. Why should I get to have you and he gets to be forever alone? Why did I do to deserve people who love me and he got nothing in the end? Why do I have to watch him suffer in my place?"
Cloud's hand wiped at the tear trails furiously. His voice was wearing thin from the stress it had been put under.
"I just want the nightmares to stop, but I can't leave you. I should leave, it would make them stop, I think. I need to leave, Seph. I need to leave," he finished quietly.
He left the cage Sephiroth's arms had created and crawled sleepily over to Angeal, who picked him up and took him into the bedroom. He sat next to Cloud, brushing his hand through the blonde hair of his younger love.
"Cloud?" he called and was rewarded with the cadet rolling over and gazing at him with sad blue eyes. He gathered the worn out cadet into his arms for the second time that night. Angeal still marvelled at how perfectly Cloud was moulded to them, how it always felt like he belonged. It felt right. It was hard to believe that Cloud had such a hard time seeing it.
"Don't let the nightmares haunt you anymore, because we're all here and we're not letting you go anywhere, so don't even bother with that line about leaving, it's not happening. Hojo's dead, he can't get us. The future you saw, I'm sure was averted the moment we all agreed to let you into our hearts and we don't regret that at all."
He pressed a kiss to the sleepy cadets temple.
"The other Cloud's pain will never come to be. You can sleep peacefully again."
"But…I'm such a useless child. Why would you want me?" Cloud whispered sadly, a huge yawn overcoming his features.
"Because we see everything you're worth and believe me, you're worth a lot. Nothing will convince us otherwise, now go to sleep," Angeal said sternly but his eyes were soft.
Cloud nodded and clambered off Angeal's lap and under the covers. The other three joined them soon after.
"And what were you discussing?" Angeal asked accusingly, but a teasing tone was present underneath.
Genesis refused to answer and slipped under the covers near Cloud, who turned and burrowed into his chest. Genesis' arrogant smirk was seen, even in the dark.
Sephiroth just shrugged and copied Genesis. Zack pouted at the two of them.
"We were thinking of taking a week off and getting Spiky out of here. Just till we're sure he's over this."
"I agree it is a good idea. Costa de Sol is usually cheap this time of year."
"Sweet!" Zack squealed.
"Will you two shut up!" Cloud snapped, head appearing from under the covers. He fixed a firm glare on Zack, who 'meeped' and jumped into bed with others. Angeal took his time but joined them just the same.
"Thank you." Cloud snapped and burrowed back into Genesis' chest. In the arms of his lovers Cloud dreamed not of the nightmare but of the Goddess.
And in his mind, soon to be forgotten, words shifted through.
"You've done well Cloud. You've changed the past and therefore changed the future. It is time for you to rest, for you have reached your first vacation. Until the planet needs you again, live your life my perfect guardian."