WARNING: Before we start, just in case anyone hasn't figured it out yet, this is a shounen-ai/yaoi/m x m whatever you want to call it fic. This means that there will be guy on guy action, and if that turns you off, then I suggest hitting that back button while you still can. Just letting ya know. If apart from that everyone else is on board, then we're cool. Okay? Okay.
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII or any of its characters, they don't belong to me, they're the property of Square Enix.
Summary: One lonely Friday evening, Cadet Cloud Strife receives an unexpected visit from an unexpected guest. How and why did this mysterious visitor come to him though? And where is the quest to find out going to lead him? ASGZC.
A Cadet and a Cat:
Cloud stared, he couldn't help it. It was the only reaction he could seem to muster up as the beautiful creature before him made its way towards him. Pale green eyes stared back up at him, pupils contacted to thin dark slits in the bright, artificial lighting. That gaze never wavered as he made his way towards him on all fours – and it was definitely a he, how could it not be when the way he moved was confident and powerful and so very male. Long silver strands brushed the ground and Cloud crouched down to meet his entirely unexpected visitor. He reached out his hand invitingly. A pale nose twitched as his guest sniffed the appendage curiously. The blonde couldn't help but smile softly as he inched forwards, settling on the floor more comfortably and allowing the silver haired beauty to crawl into his lap.
"Hey," he crooned, delighted at how easily he'd gotten his visitor to come to him.
"Where'd you come from?" he proceeded to ask curiously.
"Meow." Cloud's smile widened at the response.
"You're a handsome boy aren't you?" he cooed, voice still soft as he cautiously ran a hand through what felt like almost liquid silk.
Long silver strands slipped easily though his fingers. He was amused and ecstatic at the answering rumble he got in appreciation of the action.
He liked cats, their grace and independence had always appealed to him, but you wouldn't find any felines in Nibelheim. They weren't suited to the cold, harsh conditions of the mountains. Not many domestic animals were. The closest thing most people had had to a family pet was a local monster that had been around for a while. Like that one scraggly Nibel wolf that had been sighted, stalking the surrounding mountain ranges for as long as the oldest villagers could remember. Now that was definitely an animal you didn't want curling up on the end of your bed at night.
Cloud snorted at the though and glanced down at his lap when the sound drew a questioning meow from his new friend. He smiled warmly down at the upturned face.
Honestly, this thing was just too cute for its own good. Cloud frowned. He could recall more than one person saying the same thing about him before; he supposed that made them a good pair then.
The blonde sighed deeply. He wished he could keep his new companion; it'd be nice to have someone to come back to after a long day of training and classes, even if it was just a pet. Sadly though, that would be impossible. Cadets shared bunkers and he doubted all of his roommates would be as keen as he was about keeping a cat in their quarters. And even if he'd had an entire room of his own there was no way he could afford to feed the thing, and pets were banned to all lower personnel anyway. The cat most likely belonged to someone as well; someone higher up on the working ladder. It was such a pretty little thing. He bet the owner was probably out looking for it, worried and anxious about its unknown fate.
Cloud frowned again at the thought. That wouldn't do, he'd have to find a way to let the person know that he had their pet, but what would he do with the cat until then?
Should he try finding a superior officer to keep the cat, until the owner was found? Or maybe he should just let it go?
He started running his hand through the cat's thick fur while he continued thinking, sparing it a quick affectionate glance when the deep, rumbling purr started up again. The thing was loud, like a little motorcycle or something. Anyway, what was he going to do? The Cadet stared at the furthest wall, blankly, not focusing on anything in particular while he slowly came to a decision.
It seemed to him, that for the moment, his best course of action was to get the word out that he was currently holding onto the wayward pet. Hopefully, someone would come to claim it quickly. And if the owner didn't step forward, then maybe someone who new them, or at least a sympathetic person who could take the cat in, would kindly house it temporarily.
Mind made up, he carefully scooped his feline companion up, making sure he was holding it in the most comfortable position he possibly could as he carried it from the room.
The hallways were basically deserted, as mostly every Cadet and lower ranking officer on their level was off somewhere else, enjoying the freedom of the Friday evening. So thankfully no one stopped to question him about his silver bundle as he made his way towards the nearest elevator. Although, he did get his fair share of weird looks from the few people that passed by him.
When he came to a stop in front of the closed silver doorway though, Cloud discovered a problem. He was by no means a large person, and his arm reach was embarrassingly small. Added to the fact that the cat was actually quite large, he definitely needed both hands to hold it. This meant he had no way to press the button. His knee wouldn't reach and he shuddered to think what might happen if he attempted to get in a high kick to press it, while holding said 'actually quite large' feline. He considered using his elbow but realized then that for some stupid, inconvenient reason he was still wearing his elbow guards. And these buttons required a certain amount of pressure focused in the middle in order to work. The padding meant that he wouldn't be able to do that. If he put the cat down though then he ran the risk of having it run away.
Cloud cursed colourfully under his breath and glared at the shiny little button. It was like it was smirking back at him, mockingly. Your move, it seemed to be saying smugly. Cloud glared harder for a second, before huffing and giving up on trying to scare it into activating.
He shifted his weight and adjusted his hold on the increasingly harder to hold feline. A pair of large, pale green eyes swiveled to gaze back at him, and it was almost like they were saying 'well, what are you waiting for?' Cloud blinked back at it and, feeling slightly stupid, gently lowered the silver cat to the floor. It stretched its legs out to meet the ground quicker and he cautiously lifted his hands away to let it go. The cat just stood there, gazing back at him impassively. Cloud grinned down at it sheepishly. He'd been worried for nothing it seemed.
Feeling a bit foolish again he straightened out, only taking his eyes off of his furry companion for a second as he pressed the button for the elevator. It lit up with a dull white light and after a short while the Cadet heard the whirling of machinery as the box lowered for them. There was a soft 'ping' as the doors slid open to emit the pair.
Cloud stepped forward and watched, amused and intrigued, as his new friend trotted alongside him into the metal compartment, without the slightest hesitation or even a single wary glance. He'd expected it to be more… cautious, but apparently his companion was fearless. That or he was simply used to riding in elevators, Cloud mused as he selected a floor. Although the thought was slightly bizarre it seemed entirely plausible as the cat didn't seem freaked out at all, even when the elevator began its sudden smooth ascent.
As the elevator began to slow Cloud was fully prepared to scoop his companion up again. It may have followed him so far but he didn't want to take any unnecessary chances. It could still run away after all. But before he could carry out the act, his feline friend leapt up onto him in one neat, smooth bound. It was only last second common sense that stopped Cloud from jerking to the side as the cat settled in place, balanced calmly on his shoulder, like it did this every day. The Cadet felt his eyebrows hitch up in amazement as he turned his head carefully, regarding the perched feline with barely restrained incredulity.
His companion's long fur tickled his neck and cheek as it shifted, lowering into an almost sitting position and curling its long sweeping tail around the back of his neck. It was like wearing a living, breathing fur wrap, and Cloud wondered briefly what kind of picture the two of them must make. He didn't have long to wonder though, as the elevator doors began to part with the familiar soft 'ping'. The poor blonde had absolutely no way to prepare himself for the sight that met him upon their opening.
Cool green eyes were the first thing he registered and Cloud felt his own baby blues widening against his will, lips parting in a sort of stunned shock. Long, perfectly straight silver hair. Ungodly snug black leather outfit, complete with thigh high boots and more exposed skin than any person should be allowed to be teased with. And a profile everyone, from the most drunken rats in the slums, to the backwater town rejects like him would recognize. It was Sephiroth, THE freaking General himself gazing back at him, all 185 inhumanly perfect centimeters of him. Gaia help him, he almost swooned his way onto his knees right then and there. It was only the fact that he happened to have a cat wrapped around his nape and the General actually appeared to be talking to him that kept him from doing so. With a small mental start the still reeling Cadet managed to pull himself together just in time to hear the end of the General's sentence.
". . . my cat."
It took a few seconds more to process this information and by the time it finally hit home Cloud's mouth had already decided he'd taken too long to respond, so it went ahead and did it for him.
"Oh, it's your cat sir?" He almost physically winced at the amount of Nibelheim drawl that went into the simple sentence and he mentally bitch slapped himself for asking a question that had already been answered.
Sephiroth raised a single perfectly shaped brow at him, green eyes lightening in what appeared to be equal parts amusement and impatience.
"Yes Cadet, I believe we just established that," the General replied slowly, like he was speaking to a mentally handicapped person.
Cloud was more that a little horrified when he felt a familiar hot flush creep into his cheeks and up the back of his neck in response to the tone. His ears were burning as he ducked his head. A small sheepish smile made its way onto his lips.
"Sorry sir, I'm just a little slow at the moment. Guess I'm more tired than I thought," Cloud explained softly.
His eyelids drooped slightly as if to further back up his image of the tired little Cadet while he tried to cover up his momentary lapse in concentration. Or at least that's all it would have been if he hadn't abruptly realized that he actually was really tired. Cloud wondered why he hadn't noticed it before. He decided it must have had something to do with his current goal, motivating him and distracting him from any lethargy he may have otherwise felt. He recalled briefly a time, earlier in the evening before the cat had shown up, and remembered thinking about how exhausted he'd felt and how he'd have liked nothing more that to drop into bed early and sleep. . . Huh.
Sephiroth took in his drowsy expression with carefully assessing eyes.
"Have you not been sleeping well Cadet?" he seemed to ask out of the blue, and Cloud struggled to keep up with the change in topic.
"Umm. . . not really, sir. I've never been a heavy sleeper, and sharing a room with 9 other people doesn't help, especially since they like to stay up late all the time." Belatedly, the blonde wondered why he was telling his idol so much.
He wasn't normally such a talkative person but the words just seemed to spill from his mouth. The General didn't seem to mind though, so he decided it wasn't a bad thing. Not to mention the fact that the man's sudden interest in his well being gave him a not so small thrill, but he mentally berated himself for getting excited over nothing. The man was probably just curious about how the Cadets were getting along as a whole. He was The General of the army. Knowing what sort of condition possible future subordinates were in was probably just part of his job. Still, the blonde couldn't quite keep from feeling a little bit touched that the man was asking, even if it was just a passing curiousity.
Sephiroth made a soft sound of understanding and the two of them lapsed into silence. It wasn't awkward, but it wasn't exactly comfortable either as the General just gazed at him with a contemplative look.
After a minute or so he seemed to snap out of it though and he tilted his head at the cat, which still remained perched on the Cadet's shoulder. Truthfully, it was starting to get a little numb and he was relieved when Sephiroth made a motion to suggest he wanted to pick the cat up himself. Cloud nodded in understanding when the General gave him an asking look and he turned his occupied shoulder towards the man. Neither of them was prepared for the cat's reaction.
The silver haired feline, which had been nothing but docile up until this point, latched its claws into Cloud's shoulder and bristled. It let out a low, mean and unhappy growl in warning to his similarly coloured master, and Sephiroth stopped short, giving the cat an almost shocked looked. Clearly this kind of reaction was not a common thing. The blonde winced as the claws flexed and then retracted. The General gave the animal the strangest look as his gaze flickered between the still bristling cat and Cloud's taken aback expression. With a narrowed gaze he gave the cat one last glance before returning his attention to the Cadet.
"It would seem he does not wish to part from you," the man said calmly, face impassive again. Cloud hummed in agreement while sending the animal a weary look.
"What do I do?" Cloud asked, glancing back to the General uncertainly.
Sephiroth tilted his head and gave him that same contemplative look from before, as though weighing something. Cloud fought the urge to fidget. It seemed the silver haired General had come to a decision as he took a step around the Cadet and pushed the button for the elevator while pulling out what appeared to be some sort of swipe card. Cloud blinked up at the man questioningly.
"I believe you'll have to come with me for the time being. Just until my cat decides to remove itself from your person… without treat of bodily harm," Cloud ogled the General.
"You mean. . .?" Sephiroth shot him what might have been an amused look.
"I'm taking you up to my apartment." Cloud almost feinted.
'Oh sweet Shiva.'
The elevator arrived with what was now a very ominous sounding whirl of machinery. Cloud swallowed thickly as they stepped inside. Sephiroth opened a panel next to the standard set of buttons, revealing a thin slot in the wall as well as an additional set of buttons for the highest level floors. Once they started moving he then pulled out a sleek silver PHS and after some browsing held the device up to his ear. A few beats later and he began talking to whoever was on the other end of the line.
"I'm coming back up . . . right now. . . Yes, I found him, but expect one more . . . a Cadet . . . the thing went and attached itself to him . . . I'm sure it's amusing for you . . . no, definitely not . . . maybe some other time? . . . alright . . . yes soon . . . mmm-hmm . . . for now." When he hung up the man immediately turned back to Cloud with a mildly apologetic look.
"I have company at the moment," he explained shortly. "I'm sorry, this is very sudden for you." The blonde shook his head as well as he could and smiled faintly, lethargy once again creeping up on him.
"It's alright sir. If anything I should apologize for inconveniencing you," he practically murmured in his sleepiness.
The General gave him yet another amused look. No, not amused he thought, it was softer. Almost. . . fond? Cloud's heart decided to remind him it was still there at that moment by giving a sharp, almost painfully hard thud inside his chest.
When they arrived on the destined floor Cloud trailed after the General as the man moved forwards and strode down the hallway with long, even steps.
The blonde was barely aware of his surroundings. All he had the energy to focus on was the hypnotic swaying of the Sephiroth's long silver hair. He had a very sudden and very strong desire to reach out and run his hands through it, like he had with the man's cat. Doing such a thing without permission though… would be bad, very bad. So he restrained the urge by bringing a hand up and absentmindedly petting his passenger instead. The feline rumbled approvingly.
They passed by several rooms before arriving at a point at the end of the hallway where a pair of large double doors, made of the same polished, dark brown wood as the others, stood before them. They had just one, long, silver handle attached to them and appeared to be held together in the middle by an intricate locking system with another swipe card access point and a panel of buttons.
'A security lock?'
Cloud supposed that made sense. On the off chance that any unwanted guests got up to this floor, they'd have to get past this doorway before they could get to the General. This seemed a little excessive, seeing as how the man was his own walking defense system. It was probably more for the sake of privacy than security, which seemed more realistic. The man was basically a celebrity, and there were more than enough people who would've killed for the chance to get inside the General's private life.
They approached the tall set of doors, but before Sephiroth could open them himself they were thrown open from the inside. Cloud blinked dazedly at the grinning face that met them. The uniform announced that this new person was a SOLDIER also, First-class. Another superior then. Cloud wondered why he hadn't snapped any salutes yet, and then remembered that he couldn't.
'The cat, riiight.'
"Whoa, it really is a Cadet," the stranger said, leaning around Sephiroth to give Cloud a wide, friendly smile.
"Hi," he chirped in greeting. Chirped.
The blonde was surprised by this person's open friendliness. Somehow, he'd expected the General's company to be more . . . subdued. This excitable sable haired youth was anything but, he was the complete opposite actually.
Not able to think of anything to say in reply, Cloud just nodded in greeting and ducked his head shyly, burying the lower part of his face in his scarf. The SOLDIER's smile widened and an almost unholy gleeful spark came to his eyes. The blonde felt very apprehensive all of a sudden, but before the young man could do or say anything further, the General stepped in.
"Zackary," he started, ignoring the sour look the SOLDIER shot him, "leave the boy be," he intervened smoothly.
'Zackary,' as he was now identified, almost seemed to wilt under his General's stern gaze and Cloud could swear he was pouting.
He was clearly disappointed about what the General had said. Perhaps it was being denied whatever he'd wanted to continue saying (or doing) with Cloud. Or maybe he just didn't like his name being said that way? Cloud mused. Maybe it was a mix of both, but for some reason Cloud thought it was probably more because of the latter. This person didn't seem like a 'Zackary' to him. It was too long, too stiff and… well, it was too something, and it wasn't a something that fitted this person. Without even thinking about it much, Cloud decided to call him Zack, at least in his head.
'Zack,' as he'd now been official dubbed, bounced back incredibly quickly though and Cloud felt a little stunned as he perked up again with another wide smile and just nodded obediently, backing out of the doorway to let them in. Sephiroth gave Cloud a brief warning glance as he stepped through the doorway and the blonde took a deep breath before he followed, cautiously scooting around the SOLDIER at the widest distance he could manage. Zack just smiled at him again, not seeming to notice, or if he did he didn't feel the need to show it.
Cloud glanced questioningly at the General, who was shrugging out of his long black coat and slipping his gloves off by a nearby coat rack. Cloud fought incredibly hard to keep his gaze from wondering but couldn't hold off one quick flicker of a glance at the flexing of shoulder blades when the man turned to address him. He swallowed reflexively.
"Would you like to try again now?"
The Cadet immediately knew what he was referring to and silently offered his shoulder again. His heart rate picked up as the man approached him. He could practically feel the other's body heat from this small distance and the man's scent was filling his head with a thick cottony obliviousness. Once again the cat dug its claws in, only harder, and this time hissed, long and threateningly. Sephiroth backed off again and Cloud noted the other SOLDIER's openly shocked expression. The brunet gave a low whistle.
"He must really like you," he said with subtle amusement, while glancing between the attached pair and Sephiroth.
Cloud gave a small wince as the cat clung even tighter at the sound of the other's voice, before it relaxed again and retracted its sharp little claws.
"I think Ken finally found his Barbie," Zack continued, this time with a definite chortle in his tone.
The blonde gave him a blank look.
'What?' he thought, now completely confused.
Sephiroth just sighed; obviously he didn't find the situation nearly as funny as the other did. He elaborated when he saw the Cadet's blank expression.
"The cat's name is Ken. It is Wutainese for sword, but my companions find a different meaning in it." The explanation cleared up that half of the question, but why . . . ?
'Oh,' Cloud realized suddenly.
Barbie and Ken, Barbie: his blonde girlfriend. The SOLDIER First was making a reference to his hair colour. The Cadet frowned. Why did everyone like to compare him with the opposite gender so much? He wasn't than feminine . . . was he? Cloud pouted moodily into his scarf, safe in the knowledge that neither of his superiors could see it. He didn't get to stay that way for long though. His silver furred passenger seemed to pick up on his deteriorating mood and gave him an affectionate nudge, bumping its head against his cheek and temple. Cloud absentmindedly brought a hand up to pet the cat, scratching behind its ears with a fond look in its direction.
They moved from the entrance way and into a spacious, open lounge area. Cloud stopped short though when two more unfamiliar faces greeted him. Well, almost unfamiliar. He'd seen them a few times before - though not in person - and although they were not nearly as famous as the General himself, there was no mistaking the two First-class in front of him.
It was Genesis Rhapsodos and Angeal Hewley, both Lieutenant Generals and celebrities in their own right.
Lieutenant General Genesis was reclined on one of two long, white fabric couches. They looked almost uncomfortably stiff, but the redhead didn't seem to have any problems with them. He looked quite at ease actually, posture relaxed and legs crossed neatly. Cloud couldn't help but notice the absence of his distinctive red leather coat. Without it he seemed much smaller, slimmer, and somehow more approachable. A certain well known book was held open in one hand but upon their entrance he looked up, auburn hair falling about his face. Lieutenant General Angeal however was leaning against one of the furthest doorways, which lead to the rest of the apartment, arms and legs crossed loosely and face turned towards them. They both wore similar curious expressions but at the same time they also seemed amused and… some other third emotion. It may have been shock, Cloud couldn't tell.
"Well, this certainly is bizarre," the redhaired Lieutenant murmured, slowly closing his book and setting it aside.
"Tell me Cadet, how did you seduce him?" he continued, an odd little smirk on his lips.
With a start, Cloud realized he was being spoken to. He really needed to stop zoning out like that. Genesis' question confused him though.
"Seduce, sir? I'm sorry, but I'm not sure what you. . ." the Cadet trailed off unsurely, the wording of the question bringing a slight tinge of pink to his cheeks, while a small frown pinched his brow.
Genesis just smiled, clearly amused. He leaned forwards, propping an elbow against his knee and resting his chin in the upturned palm of his hand, fingers curled inwards. He tilted his head slightly to the side, resting his cheek against the fingers of his right, supporting hand and regarded the Cadet with light, blue-green eyes.
"Sephiroth's beast of a cat is notoriously vicious. There is only one person he's ever shown that level of affection to, and that's our lovely General himself," here Genesis paused to shoot Sephiroth a saucy little smirk.
In the background Angeal rolled his eyes, though he too was smiling in amusement.
That seemed hard to believe. The thing had been nothing but purrs and innocent looks since he first saw it. It had hissed at the General just moments before though.
The blonde turned his head to regard the cat, disbelievingly. It seemed to contradict the redhead's words as it immediately rubbed its face into his cheek, purring softly. Cloud automatically brought his hand up, once again stroking its luxurious fur. The sound increased to an almost obscene level and Cloud let out a soft hum of amusement and pressed his face into its side without thinking. He froze. When he looked up everyone else in the room seemed to have momentarily done the same. Then Zack let out a loud bark of laughter and Genesis' smile turned into a full blown grin, eyes lighting up as he shifted his supporting hand into a loose fist, propping his chin on the back of his knuckles instead, gleeful and intrigued. Sephiroth was watching him with the same unreadable expression from before, the one he'd had when they first started conversing outside the elevator. Angeal just shook his head and smiled.
"You know," Cloud returned to attention at Genesis' voice, "it's been said that if that little monster will at least tolerate you, it's somewhat of a stamp of approval, and you and the General are sure to get along."
Cloud's face went blank and Genesis watched eagerly as the next second it flushed with a rush of blood.
The poor Cadet looked mortified as he shot the General a nervous look. Sephiroth just gazed back at him with an eyebrow raised. The blonde buried his face into his scarf again, hands gripping the fabric of his shirt tightly as he crossed his arms around his body self-consciously.
"Hey, that's true," Zack suddenly chimed in from the side. "The thing tolerates all of us more than anyone and we get along great. Right Seph?" The sable haired SOLDIER addressed the General with a strange little grin on his face, blue gaze bright with mischief.
Cloud watched the exchange disbelievingly. His eyes almost popped out when the silver haired man just smiled back softly.
"True," he murmured in an almost affectionate tone of voice, the blonde couldn't help but notice.
The others seemed to react to the General's tone and Cloud glanced apprehensively around the room as the atmosphere abruptly changed into . . . he wasn't sure what. But suddenly he felt very awkward, like he'd just walked in on a very private moment and shouldn't be there. Cloud swallowed reflexively. The others seemed to slowly come back to themselves. Genesis gave him another contemplative look, eyes slightly narrowed while they slowly traveled up and down his body, before coming to rest, securely locked onto his facial features.
"You're pretty cute, you know," the redhead said, seemingly out of the blue, after a long prolonged silence. Cloud almost visibly jerked in shock. His eyes widened and the blush quickly returned.
"Genesis," Angeal began warningly "we don't even know the kids name yet," he reasoned, - about what, the blonde wasn't sure – but the Lieutenant's dark blue eyes were also assessing him, though much less obviously than the others.
Cloud had no idea what was happening.
"We can find out right now," the redhead reasoned back as he dropped his supporting arm and uncrossed his legs, slowly standing up from the couch.
Cloud was getting very nervous now. If he didn't know any better, he would have said he was being stalked. The SOLDIER was moving with all the seductive grace of a prowling jungle cat and Cloud was the unwitting prey.
"So, what is your name?"
"Cloud," he answered, despite his brain not really functioning.
"…Cloud?" The redhead repeated, or more like purred.
The sound of his name rolling smoothly off the Lieutenant's tongue was entirely too good. He shivered. Genesis was smirking again.
"I'm sure we don't have to introduce ourselves, now do we?" Genesis asked coyly, clearly enjoying himself.
Cloud slowly shook his head. No, they most certainly didn't.
"Good. That saves time."
'For what?' Cloud wasn't sure he wanted to know, but at the same time . . .
He had to be dreaming, because if he wasn't then he was either entirely misreading the situation or hallucinating. There was no way what he thought was happening was actually happening . . . was it?
The Cadet unconsciously took a step back, barely noticing when Ken decided at that moment to spring from his perch. He hardly cared anymore.
Genesis continued his slow advance and Cloud took another uncertain step backwards. This time though he met another solid surface. The blonde jerked in surprise and glanced up and back. Zack was smiling down at him reassuringly, but there was an undeniably predatory glint hidden behind those friendly blue eyes. The Cadet swallowed again.
Angeal and Sephiroth simply stayed where they were as the small Cadet slowly got boxed in, observing the proceedings with curiousity and anticipation. They enjoyed watching Genesis in action and they hoped the blonde would continue to take it as well as he was. So far so good.
Sephiroth had known something like this was going to happen the moment he decided to bring the oblivious little blonde up with him.
What Genesis had said was true, and even he himself sometimes deferred to his cat when he was uncertain about another. So far the animal hadn't failed him. The better the reception the more he got along with an individual. So when he saw this nameless Cadet, standing in front of him with huge blue eyes and his wayward cat perched happily on his shoulder, he'd known straight away that he'd like this person. Never before had Ken taken to someone so quickly, and the level of affection he'd shown was practically unheard of.
Cloud had clearly been shocked by his appearance at first as much as Sephiroth had been surprised by his. But the blonde had quickly adjusted. He didn't stare and gawk openly at him like most tended to, and he had in fact seemed comfortable in his presence. Heck, he'd practically been falling asleep for a little while there.
His drooping blue eyes and fair skinned, fine boned features had made him entirely too endearing. Sephiroth had wanted him, in more than one way. He'd also wanted to know him and to take care of him. When the blonde had told him about his lack of sleep, he'd been concerned, and the protective streak usually reserved for his lovers had been roused in response.
It seemed very sudden, but from the moment he'd seen his cat wrapped around the Cadet's slim shoulders, he'd been thinking about nothing but somehow adding the blonde to their circle. He hadn't needed to ask if he was even gay or not, he'd been able to tell. Those eyes had been openly appraising him from the second they'd encountered each other, and after all of the admirers he'd had over the years, he was able to tell the difference between simple admiration and lust. They weren't going to go very far tonight anyway, no matter what kind of impression his redheaded lover was giving. They were simply introducing Cloud to the idea, and hopefully it was an offer he wouldn't refuse.
Genesis was the best at this kind of thing; it was why they were letting him do it. Although the others had told him more than once that all he'd need to do was look at a person and they'd go weak in the knees. He'd always found the thought amusing and a little bit annoying. Right now though, he was hoping it was true, because a weak in the knees Cloud is kind of what they were going for.
Zack wound his arms around the Cadet's slim waist, and began tracing small soothing circles into his hip, while Genesis came within reach. The sable haired SOLDIER was calming the Cadet as much as he was holding him in place. Cloud's arms rose up and locked in place, with his loosely clenched fists held against his chest uncertainly.
Genesis brought a hand up and gently cupped one of the blonde's hot cheeks. The skin flushed an even deeper red and the Lieutenant hummed in approval of the soft texture.
"Such a charming colour," the redhead murmured, softly stroking the cheek with the pad of his thumb. It left a small trail of pale skin which quickly filled with colour again, as soon as the mild pressure left.
Cloud shivered again, heart rate picking up as the SOLDIER leaned in to him. The lean arms around his waist tightened slightly and Cloud's breath hitched as Genesis paused, just inches away. The man wasn't hesitating though or looking for some unsaid sign of permission in the other's gaze. No. Genesis was already completely confident that the Cadet would accept his advances, one way or another. He was teasing him, hovering just out of reach and indulging in the Cadet's virgin reactions. The way he swallowed nervously, Adam's apple bobbing. The way his gaze met his uncertainly, dropping down to his mouth and back up again with near impatience and, most alluringly, how his lips parted as Genesis' breath ghosted over them, mingling with his own. The redhead smiled to himself, satisfied, and proceeded to close the remaining distance.
The blonde drew in a sharp breath through his nose as lips finally pressed against his, soft, warm and pliant. They moved with seductive efficiency, silencing any protest or thought so that all he could do was feel. And damn what a feeling it was. Cloud knew why the other had been so confident at the beginning; he had every reason to be. Genesis was good, far too good to resist. The Cadet's eyelids drooped and slowly slid shut as the Lieutenant's hand slid from his cheek to his hair, griping gently and tilting his head in the opposite direction to his, for better access. He went with the motion, mindlessly, and although he'd never done this before in his life, somehow, he found himself knowing what to do. As Genesis' drew his lower lip between his with a gentle, encouraging pull, Cloud took the man's upper lip between his own and tentatively kissed back. Their lips slid together more firmly as the other pressed forward eagerly at the response.
All too soon Genesis drew back though. Cloud drew in a sharp, much needed breath and was about to open his eyes to ask why? when the man surged forwards again suddenly, re-claiming his mouth with more force and urgency than before. Zack's hands tightened on his hips, fingers flexing and massaging in distracting little circles. The young SOLDIER lowered his head and his hair tickled against Cloud's nape. The blonde felt warm air gliding over the back of his neck as Zack let out a long, breathy sigh. A whimper made its way up Cloud's throat against his will. Genesis slowed their pace down steadily, until they were simply exchanging a series of short, languid pecks, but eventually he drew back again, and this time, the Cadet opened his eyes.
The man's own half lidded gaze was bright, while Cloud panted lightly against his smugly smirking lips. He'd forgotten to breathe properly. The Lieutenant hummed appreciatively, as he carded his hand through the blonde's ruffled hair and stepped back - when had they pressed together? – to a reasonable distance.
Cloud watched him retreat, and unthinkingly darted his tongue out, licking his slightly swollen lips. But before he could decide whether he was relieved or disappointed, a warm calloused hand was sliding under his chin and tilting his head back. Another pair of lips met his for a - decidedly much briefer - kiss, but it still left Cloud reeling when the SOLDIER pulled back. Zack made a small happy sound and laid a second, lingering kiss in his hair. The youth rubbed his cheek into the nest of blonde spikes, inhaling deeply.
"He smells good," the SOLDIER crooned to the others, almost drunkenly.
Cloud flushed and ducked his head, hiding his red face in his scarf again. Angeal chuckled warmly, drawing the blonde's attention. Cloud glanced up at the man, shyly peeking through his bangs. The SOLDIER smiled back at him softly, fondly.
"You'll get used to him," he informed him, lips tilting in amusement when Cloud just blinked in confusion. That made it sound like they'd be doing this sort of thing again.
Genesis sighed heavily when he caught the blonde's expression.
"He still doesn't get it," the redhead huffed in exaggerated exasperation.
"Cloud," the blonde tensed in surprise as the General used his name. He turned his head, giving the man his full attention. Sephiroth wasn't smiling, but his gaze was soft, and his tone patient.
"We want to bring you into our relationship," he explained plainly.
Cloud stared back at him blankly, lips parted in shock. After a few moments of staring at the General's sincere expression, the message seemed to sink in, and he almost choked on his own saliva as he struggled to find a response.
"You-" the blonde began, but he had to stop when his throat almost closed on him. He tried again "You want me? Me?" he reiterated, completely disbelieving.
Sephiroth nodded affirmatively.
"Because we like you?" Zack supplied helpfully, arms still firmly holding him to his chest. He was momentarily distracted by the feel of the soft vibrations against his back, caused by the SOLDIER's voice. Cloud frowned slightly.
"You don't know me. We just met. How do you know I'm not some psychotic fan-boy?" He asked like rapid fire, voice pitching high in disbelief.
"You aren't. We can tell. Trust me, we've met enough to know the crazies when we see them." The redhead chortled, sharing an amused look with the others.
Cloud looked between each of them, taking in their sincere expressions, and knew they weren't kidding. He slumped in Zack's arms.
"You're serious," he said weakly.
Never in his wildest dreams- no wait, that was a lie, he'd had some pretty out there dreams and a situation like this had been fantasized about before- but seriously, this was too good to be true. And after the life he'd lead, too good to be true usually meant it wasn't. He couldn't believe this.
"I can't believe this," he said, shaking his head.
"Believe it Spiky," Zack replied, finally sliding his arms from around his waist.
He slung one around his shoulders instead and pulled the shorter male against his side, never loosing contact as he stepped around, looking down at the other. Cloud looked back up at him, baby blues wide and unsure. Zack's gaze softened in understanding and he lowered his head, bumping foreheads with the other, making sure they had eye contact.
"Believe it," he repeated firmly, though his voice was soft.
Cloud nodded once, slowly but acceptingly. Zack beamed and Cloud's gaze quickly darted away, shyly. They could work on the kid's confidence later, for now, this was good enough.
Suddenly, the blonde let loose a wide, jaw cracking yawn, nose scrunching up cutely. Zack's eyebrows went up while Cloud blinked lazily afterwards and it was then the others (besides Sephiroth) noticed the large, dark rings beneath his eyes for the first time. Now things had calmed down again, that yawn seemed to have zapped the last of the blonde's energy. The others stared at him as he swayed dangerously on the spot and only Zack's supporting arm kept him still. Angeal frowned, approaching while making a small tutting sound. He gently gripped Cloud's chin with his thumb and forefinger, tilting the boys face and examining his tired visage with concern. The Cadet blinked back at him dazedly.
"He's sleep deprived," the man announced, running his hand through the boy's hair in a very motherly way.
Cloud leant against Zack's side even more heavily, eyes sliding closed contently as he turned his head into the Lieutenant's petting. From a short distance away Genesis made a soft cooing sound at the boy's behaviour. The other two seemed to miss it but Sephiroth gave his lover an amused glance. He had to admit that the Cadet was ridiculously cute, and he knew Genesis had always had a soft spot for cute things, although it was rare for the man to loose control over his reactions like that.
"He did say he hadn't been sleeping well lately," Sephiroth supplied.
Zack hummed thoughtfully and turned to regard the blonde.
"Tired Spikey?" he asked, smiling in amusement when Cloud just hummed mindlessly in response.
"I think that's a yes," the SOLDIER said with a grin and without warning crouched, slipping his other arm around the back of the Cadet's knees and lifting him up in one smooth, effortless movement.
Cloud gasped at the sudden movement, his eyes opening to look up at Zack questioningly. The sable haired SOLDIER just grinned back and began to carry him from the room, bridal style. Cloud's eyelids drooped again. He couldn't find the energy to protest, or even get a little bit annoyed at the embarrassing notion of being carried around like a kid. He was just too tired. So he simply went limp in the other's hold and let it happen, head rolling into Zack's shoulder.
Dimly, the blonde noticed that their surroundings had suddenly gotten a lot darker, and he realized they'd entered a room without any lights on.
His transport carefully lowered him onto a soft, cool surface. He rolled his head to the side and saw a group of pillows, sitting against a wooden headboard. So this was a bed then? Cloud hummed softly and relaxed into what he'd now identified as an incredibly comfortable mattress. Compared to the stiff, lumpy blocks they called beds down in the Cadet barracks, this was heaven.
Cloud sighed and blinked slowly as Sephiroth's glowing green eyes appeared in his line of vision. He heard movement around him and realized the other three must have followed them.
Someone was lifting his leg up. He glanced down. Angeal was crouched in front of him and had his foot placed against a strong thigh, while his fingers efficiently untied and loosened the laces of his standard issue, military style shoe, smoothly slipping it off for him. The man left the one, sock covered foot in its place on his thigh and Cloud fought the urge to curl his - now somewhat cold - toes into the warm material, heated by the firm flesh underneath. He could feel the subtle shifting of muscles as they clenched and relaxed with the SOLDIER's movements, while he started on the other shoe. It was strangely relaxing and… arousing. Cloud brought an arm up and dropped it over his eyes, biting his lip hard and trying to control himself. Gaia damn his overly sensitive, hormone driven, teenage body.
Something tickled as it slid over his arm and Cloud shifted it away, curious to know what that was. A curtain of long silken hair pooled across his shoulders and arms as Sephiroth leaned over his reclined form. Cloud shrunk back into the mattress even more, shyly avoiding contact with the other as best he could. The man began undoing the buttons of his blue uniform shirt with the same efficiency Angeal had removed his shoes with and Cloud's face flushed. They were undressing him? Why were they . . . ? Cloud felt a small jolt of panic. No way, this was way too soon. He so wasn't ready for this!
Luckily, before the blonde could dissolve into full blown panic, the others picked up on his distress and Sephiroth quickly made to reassure him.
"Shh, Cloud. Its okay, we're not going to do anything else tonight. We're just going to sleep," he soothed gently, running his hands over the Cadet's tense shoulders disarmingly.
Cloud went very still, and then melted under the touch.
"Just need to remove a bit of clothing before we can do that," Genesis added helpfully, from somewhere to the side.
"We promise not to try anything like that until we have your informed consent first," Angeal continued from further away and there was the sound of something heavy being put down. He hadn't even noticed him move, so distracted he was by Sephiroth's touch.
His attention was drawn away however when the mattress dipped under additional weight, as another person made their way onto it. Zack's form flopped down next to Cloud. He turned his head sideways, towards the blonde.
"You alright with sharing a bed?" he asked lightly. Cloud nodded once, slowly, smiling back shyly. Zack grinned lazily, blue eyes shining brightly in the dimness of the bedroom.
A/N: Alllllrighty then. That's it. Not very impressive but there ya go. I know I had fun writing it, hope you guys had fun reading it.
Please Read and Review, any feedback is much appreciated. Seriously, it is the air we writers live on, it is our bread and butter, and it gives us warm fuzzy feelings on the inside whenever we read them. Love us and we'll love you. The more love being thrown around, the more inclined we feel to write. Hope you realise that. Anyways...
Aufwiedersehen, ciao and goodbye~
UPDATE: After a unanimous decision made by those who kindly voted, I've decided to continue with this fanfiction. After drawing out a basic plan of everything I wish to do with this fic, I've figured out that'll it'll be around 16 chapters long by the time it's finished, more or less anyway.
Aaaaaalllrighty, my faithful readers, thank you for your patience and your votes. It's taken us a bit longer than I had thought it would, but we have (finally) reached the magical 100th vote. Yay! You know what that means. I have offically started writing the next chapter of this fanfic and it will hopefully be coming to you soon. I won't be telling you the results of the poll just as of yet though, you'll have to wait for the next chapter to find that out ;) I do have to tell you though, that the main focus of the pairing which was voted for will be on one particular character for this chapter. Don't worry, you'll still get what you voted for, but I'm tweaking it just slightly to fit in with the direction I already had in mind.
I will be re-opening the same poll again once this next chapter has been completed and posted, so you can have your say again. I will probably be doing this for several - if not all - of the following chapters as well.
So stay tuned~