Genres: The genre thing really gets on me, because I have no idea. Umm…adventure and romance? (I need to post something without that second genre, for once…)
Special Conditions: Um, Cloud's a docent. Oh yeah, and I messed with time periods. That's why different time periods are mashed with FFVII 'verse. When I asked sis for an extra period, she gave me Regency. That's why someone's outfit is straight out of a Jane Austen movie.
How the Idea was created: Watching Night at the Museum while looking at a list of volunteer opportunities is quite inspiring.
Dedication: For ShadesofImagination. Mwah! Seriously, though, this idea was made with you in mind and in heart. *insert heart*
Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VII or the characters within it. I am gaining no profit from this work of fan-fiction.
Warnings: A lot of screaming, screeching, and running. Run-amok taglines. Possible over OR under-descriptiveness. Guys in costume. People getting locked in museums. You have been warned.
A Locked-In Final Fantasy VII Fan-Fiction
Being a museum docent was the best job ever.
Not only did Cloud Strife—new museum docent—know absolutely everything about the Shinra Museum of Unnatural History—which he absolutely did—but he also loved showing off just how much he knew about everything in the museum.
Which was everything.
He loved donning his orange and green vest, pinning his name tag to it, and admiring himself in the bathroom mirror. He loved getting there just before the museum opened up for the day and sitting like a lost puppy outside the locked door, absent-mindedly petting the malformed gargoyle next to him. He loved answering kids' questions and directing them to the bathroom-gift shop-where's the bathroom-dinosaurs-just where is the bathroom again? Heck, he even liked mopping up the restrooms after some unlucky kid had an "accident".
In short, Cloud was a pathetically obsessed little individual.
Which was why it was so amazing that, of all people, the museum staff forgot and locked him in at the end of the day.
Cloud, to his credit, didn't panic at first. When the lights flickered the first time (he was scrubbing up another mess in the bathroom—were docents supposed to do that?), he shrugged it off. Then, they went completely off.
And Cloud froze.
By the time he leaned the mop against the wall and tried to get through the halls, the doors were locked too. For a moment, Cloud just stood there in front of them, staring at them.
Then he smiled.
You see, Cloud figured that the nighttime security guard would at least appear at some time—usually only a little after closing. Nighttime security guards were liable to have keys. Then, he'd just ask for the directions to the phone—because with all his knowledge, he was respectful enough to not go around peeking into doors—and call his mum before she had a heart attack.
There was only one problem.
Unknown to Cloud, there was no regular nighttime security guard tonight.
Not exactly, anyway. The museum was trying out a new system…one that they hoped would be very effective. One that could prove to be a problem for pathetically obsessed locked-in docents.
Cloud, oblivious, trailed his hand along the wall until he ended up in the main lobby, finding to his relief that the lights were on here. Swiveling his head, he noted that in all directions, a few key lights splashed in what would otherwise be dark and potentially scary spots. Cloud let out a sigh of relief, letting a happy smile spread across his face.
"All I've got to do," he spoke aloud, to fill the devastatingly silent area, "Is find someplace comfortable, and then wait for the guard." His voice echoed in a lonely sort of way, but Cloud uneasily convinced himself that he didn't care. He'd been in the museum when it was empty before. What was the difference?
Oh, the fact that baby blue sky had been outside instead of black. Yeah, that was a big difference.
Cloud skittered across the floor, ducking into the nearest corridor—Medieval Junon, the one he knew had a bench and was more likely to be patrolled first. He slowed down a bit after he got in there, smiling fondly at the familiar exhibits: knights battling Dragons, princesses tied to trees, frozen mid-scream, and fat kings stuffing themselves on the celebratory feast. The wax figurines were amazingly detailed—eyes exchanging sly looks, fingers beckoning and grabbing, faces proud and smiling.
Cloud frowned, back-tracking and reexamining the face. It was a knight, face schooled into a carefully blank expression. He had a scruffy beard at the end of his chin, and his hair fell past his shoulders, helmet under his arm. He was dressed from neck downwards in a shiny suit of armor.
And Cloud had never seen him before. Ever.
This was weird for a kid who knew everything. Abandoning the thought of the bench—hey, it wasn't like he had anything else to do, anyway—Cloud inched forwards, examining from a closer view. Surprisingly, the closer he got, the more garish the other figures became, and the more realistic this one became in contrast. Cloud almost blushed when he realized that, well, this figurine was actually kind of…hot.
Taking a chance and scrambling up, carefully avoiding the dog figurines on the floor, he squinted for a tag or plaque.
There was none. No, wait—there was something; one of those cheap little tags, sort of like what he was wearing. Cloud squinted. Angeal. What an odd name.
Especially considering that there was no date, no historical message, nothing.
Just when he suddenly got the feeling that something was way more than a little off here, the knight blinked.
Cloud blinked too, and looked back. That must've been a mistake the first time, because when he examined the figure again, it looked just as still as before.
Cloud giggled nervously. It was probably a trick of the light. Before he creeped himself out anymore, he hopped off the pedestal—he could've lost his job for that—and slipped towards the bench.
From behind him came the sound of moving metal. Cloud froze, and as the sounds grew more frequent, slowly turned around.
The knight was now holding a sword in his right hand. His face was very much alive and expressive, in an expression that was pretty much neutral but Cloud took to mean royally furious. His massive chest heaved, and his frown deepened.
"What are you doing here?" the voice was low—not threatening. Cloud jumped. Pathetically, it didn't seem like his feet were doing much else.
"You're not the janitor," the knight said. The corners of his mouth turned further down. "You don't have his uniform—" He paused and ran his eyes along Cloud's nametag, "Cloud Strife." He raised the sword so it was nearly level to Cloud's chest. "Who are you? Are you a thief?"
Cloud looked wide-eyed at the sword, then at the guy towering above him, and opened his mouth, willing himself to stay calm and explain things to the really pissed knight holding a pointy thing at his heart.
And then the situation actually hit his brain.
With a choked scream, Cloud scrambled backwards, falling nicely on his butt. He continued moving backwards as fast as he could, until he was pressed up against the bench, wide-eyed.
Somewhere in his mind, Cloud had hoped that this situation was sort of like tag and the bench was like base. Because he was touching base, technically, that should mean that the statue—that just came to frickin' life in front of him!—should stop advancing, turn around, and go politely back to his post.
Instead, though, the knight wasn't having any of it. He had hopped down from the pedestal and was moving steadily—and rather fast, in Cloud's opinion—towards the bench.
And he still had that sword. Which was huge, by the way. Had Cloud thought about how HUGE that thing was?
With another scream, Cloud bolted from the room.
He ended up in the lobby again, corridor at his back, scanning his surroundings. From behind him, he could hear the sounds of moving metal moving a lot faster than before. Cloud gulped frantically, pivoting. He couldn't just wait here anymore. Where was the security guard when he needed him?
There was a particularly loud clang from behind him, and Cloud leapt forward, choosing a corridor at random and sprinting into it, not looking at the sign. Swinging around a corner, Cloud ducked into the shadows, trying to control the urge to scream again. That would be dumb.
He heard the knight's heavy breathing first, rather labored, then some cursing definitely not from the time period. Cloud hugged his knees to his chin and held his breath, waiting.
The metal came to a stop just opposite Cloud's hideout. Cloud fervently prayed to whoever was listening that he wouldn't see him.
A sigh. "Knight in. There's been a security breach. There's some kid running around, be sure to keep an eye out for him. Last seen entering Prehistoria. Over." The knight shuffled forwards a little more, muttering under his breath. "Slick little thing." After an agonizing few seconds, he moved on.
Cloud let out the breath he'd been holding in a whimper, digging his blunt nails into his thighs. Not only was there a knight chasing after him, but he was also crazy.
Cloud snuffled a little, wiping his nose on his sleeve. Didn't he like this job at the beginning of the day? And yesterday? And the day before that? Hadn't it been something he'd always wanted to do?
Yes. Yes it had.
Cloud gave himself the liberty of one more miserable sniffle before standing upright and steadfast. He was a docent, after all, three days into the job. He was trained for this kind of stuff. If he could handle the elementary school rush hour, he could handle this.
Cloud squared his shoulders, took a deep breath, and slipped out of the shadows.
The knight had gone into—Cloud squinted—Prehistoria. So Cloud turned tail and snuck into the opposite exhibit: Revolutionary Midgar.
Figurines. Why were there so many bloody figurines? And he meant bloody. Cloud cringed as he passed a particularly gory war scene, putting a little more scuttle in his skitter. Mission, right. New mission plan.
Before, Cloud Strife, museum docent off the job, had decided to wait peaceably on the bench until the museum security guard arrived. Easy enough, right? Wrong. Stupid knight coming to life had ruined that plan. So now, the plan was different. Cloud was on the lookout for a kiosk, or an office, or something, and then he was going to break in, call his mom, and cry.
Okay, so the very end item was probably much, but the point was that Cloud was going to do what he had never done: look for something other than an exhibit.
Now, as he prowled in the shadows of Loyalists and Traitors, Cloud saw everything in a new light. Was that shadow over there a door? No, it was just a shadow. Stupid Cloud. Was that a doorknob? Squint; no, it was just a shadow. Again. Why were there so many shadows here? Wasn't there an ancient Egyptian legend or something that shadows were dangerous?
Cloud was working himself up so much that it was no wonder he jumped with a shrill shriek when someone put a hand on his shoulder. For a second, he couldn't even move, just swiveling his head from side to side as he let out shriek after shriek. Once he finally located the source of the hand—a black gloved one, right on his left shoulder—he jolted that arm up and down, simultaneously smacking at it with both hands until his feet slid out from under him. He slid in discomfort a good few feet before finally being able to twist around to stare at whoever had touched him.
Standing there was another figurine—one of the ones from the Loyalists and Traitors side. He had on a long, red coat over something that had been preppy in revolutionary times, had short red hair, and was smirking. He was also pretty handsome, as Cloud's annoying hormones deigned to point out.
Oh, and he had a noose around his neck.
Cloud's eyes grew impossibly wider as he saw this, before his eyes skittered down to the man's chest, searching for a nametag. He found another one of those odd cheap tags—this one reading Genesis. His eyes came back up to the revolutionary. For some reason, yet again, his feet could not move.
It was another one. Another figure coming to life. What was this?
"Well then," the man said, oozing total satisfaction, "It appears you're the lost sheep Angeal was telling us about, then?"
Cloud gave a weak whimper. "You're…you're alive?" he asked, shrinking away.
Figurine-called-Genesis raised an eyebrow. "Last I checked." A devilish grin grew on his face. "Of course, I may not be for much longer. You see…I betrayed the revolutionaries, became a double-agent. You'll be quite surprised of what they do when they figure out there's a double-crosser in their midst. They strung me up, and then…" With a wet whoosh sound, the man tightened the noose with one hand, his head falling limply to the side.
Cloud shrieked, and yet again, his feet found a reason to move. Behind him, he could feel the bare scrape of fingertips against his back and then yet another out of time-period curse. Increasing his speed, Cloud shot out into the lobby—
—and straight into Angeal, the knight.
Impossibly fast, metal arms snapped around him, holding him in a horribly uncomfortable embrace. Cloud wailed, kicking at the shins, but the man simply wouldn't let him go.
"Calm down," Angeal ordered, but Cloud was not in the mood to freaking calm down. Who did they think he was? He wasn't just any ordinary docent! Cloud changed the method of attack.
Angeal cursed, dropping Cloud as he crumpled over. Apparently, armor wasn't enforced in the vital areas.
Just as quickly, Genesis made a pass for Cloud, but Cloud was already heading for another exhibit. He didn't care what it was—he just needed to get away, fast. There would be nothing good from what statuettes apparently wanted with him.
Playing hide-and-seek, in Cloud's opinion, was the worst childhood game of all time. Sitting curled up behind or under something, fingers in ears or hands over your eyes, waiting for someone to eventually jump out at you, was one of the worst traumas he'd had in his life, with the exception of middle school. Right now was no exception, and held a freaky resemblance to a horrible hide-and-seek-middle-school hybrid.
Cloud was currently hidden behind a very fancily dressed lady—hand out, fan extended, a horribly grotesque smile on her face—in the Regency section. In front of him, there was the gentle ruffling of the revolutionary traitor's coat and the heavy clanking of the knight, coupled with murmuring.
"These stupid clothes," Cloud heard Angeal say disgustedly, a heavy clang accompanying as he apparently kicked something.
"You chose your role," Genesis replied just as smoothly. "You could've chosen some period with softer material, but you had to go for the honor."
An embarrassed mumble was heard, but no objection. They continued poking around.
"This kid sure is a slippery thing!" Genesis finally said. If Cloud was right, there was a hint of admiration in his voice.
Angeal grumbled. "Well, Zack's on the lookout for him. We'd better look in the other sections. If he really is in here, Sephiroth will get him. Come on."
Cloud didn't breathe easily until the footsteps had definitely faded away. When he was sure it was completely silent, he slid down, trying to get his breathing back to normal. There had been no sign of an office door. Then again, had he really been looking? He'd been running for his life from two guys come to life.
Cloud tried to remember if the museum director had been a lady or a guy. This was key because, well, he was in the Regency section. Ladies swooned for this time period—dark brooding guys, frilly dresses, Jane Austen and all that. Cloud hadn't met a girl yet who didn't love that sort of thing.
Quietly, Cloud slid off the pedestal and wandered deeper into the section.
Dancing. It was all dancing scenes all of a sudden. Ladies with dresses just as wide around as a pumpkin—trying to give the impression of movement—and guys as skinny as sticks twirled around the lavish scenes, arms enjoined and hands entwined. Cloud sorely wondered who had designed the entire thing, because it didn't really look like a prime example of the museum's figurines he'd seen before. The only one who actually looked realistic was—
Cloud screeched to a halt, hiding behind a lady's flared skirt, and peering cautiously around it. Pacing leisurely between the figures was yet another wax statue come to life. This one was a man-per usual-tall and elegant, with an odd cascade of silver hair all the way to his mid-back. He was wearing a military-esque suit, all navy blue fabric, brass buttons, and gold trim. Cloud could also see another one of those plastic nametags on his chest, but from the distance, couldn't make out what it said.
Thankful that at least this time he hadn't been discovered off-guard, Cloud closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He could do this. Just avoid the museum exhibit come to life, scout out the section, and if the door was there, call home. Satisfied, Cloud opened his eyes, peering around the skirt once more.
The man was gone.
Just when he felt an uneasy prickle at his neck, the back of his collar was snatched, and Cloud was up in the air, face to face with the exhibit.
For a moment, they just stared at each other. Then, one silver eyebrow hiked upwards.
"Well. You're small for someone who was giving Angeal and Genesis a run for their money."
Cloud lashed out, bashing his foot against the man's thigh. He didn't even flinch. Heck, he didn't even blink. He shifted, and Cloud cringed, waiting for retaliation, but it didn't come. Instead, having readjusted his grip, the man only smirked.
Cloud's blood froze.
He began screeching, kicking and punching. It had no effect, however, as the man calmly carted him back out into the lobby. By the time Angeal and Genesis had joined them, Cloud was nearly in a panic attack. This guy was apparently impenetrable. Cloud had scored a hit in a, um, extremely vulnerable area, figuring that if it had disabled the knight, it would definitely work on a guy not wearing armor. But this guy hadn't even budged. He probably wasn't even HUMAN. With Cloud's luck, he would turn out to be some monster summoned by the mummy's curse or something, and he and his two buddies would eat him alive. Eaten alive by three cute guys, but still. The very thought caused a shaky hiccup to escape, and Cloud buried his face in his captor's shoulder. What a nightmare!
"How did you manage to catch him, Sephiroth?" Genesis pouted, craning his neck around to try and see Cloud's face. Cloud didn't accommodate.
"Simple procedure," the man, now dubbed 'Sephiroth', answered. He untangled Cloud from his shoulder, placing him rather gently on the floor, but still keeping a firm grip on his arm.
"All right, kid," Angeal rumbled, dropping into a squat in front of him. "Let's talk about what you're doing here."
Cloud stared at the tiled floor. What now? They wanted to talk now, but things could—and probably would—get ugly pretty fast. The only possible solution was to ugly things up himself. The very thought scared him down to the core, but…it was the only way.
Cloud ran through his know-how of museum exhibits coming to life—which was mainly old movies and books, but it was at least something. Usually, there was an ancient something-or-other artifact with a curse, and that curse extended to whatever museum it was in. The curse usually either caused widespread damage until it was returned to its tomb, or found another way to make people's lives miserable. The latter definitely fit Cloud's situation.
So, something cursed. If all those weekends spent at the museum were right, the Greek section probably didn't have anything but a bunch of crumbling frescos. So that meant that his best bet was the Egyptian section. They'd always been casting curses on stuff, anyway.
And the Egyptian collection was right behind Genesis and Angeal. All he had to do was somehow get away from this Sephiroth person.
"Well?" Angeal's frown was getting deeper. Cloud took a deep breath and prayed he was doing the right thing.
"I'm so so so sorry, but I don't want to get eaten," Cloud told him sincerely. Then he ducked down under Sephiroth's arm, slid out of his docent vest, and ran like heck towards the Egyptian collection.
He had about a three second head start before he could hear an exasperated growl, and then three sets of feet clattering after him. Gulping, Cloud willed himself to go as fast as he could, while still scanning for something that looked important. A couple of dusty old mummies couldn't be anything. A couple of canopic jars didn't seem really vital either.
At the end of one long, narrowed corridor was something. It was worth a shot; and plus, there were two paths away from the area for a quick escape. Cloud swerved, making for it.
It looked like a slab of ordinary stone, gray and boring, except for some sort of hieroglyphs on the surface. Cloud narrowed his eyes. Those sneaky priests; they always made sure the most important stuff looked the less likely to be invaluable.
According to Indiana Jones, anyway.
Now what? The figurines were closing in fast, and Cloud didn't know any spells or whatnot to break a curse. Biting his lip anxiously, he decided to just reach and grab it, which he did. He turned to face his pursuers, raising it high above his head.
"The end is nigh!" he shrieked, voice an octave higher than usual—a sure sign that he was completely losing his mind. The men skidded to a stop in front of him, looking at him like he was crazy—another sign he was losing his mind.
"Okay, enlighten us," Genesis said, trying and failing to hide a mocking smile. "What are you doing?"
Cloud faltered a little bit. What was he doing? His knees were shaking, his teeth were chattering, and he was prepared to just slump down right there and DIE-but not yet.
"It's obviously some c-curse that's brought you to life," Cloud said uncertainly, raising the stone higher. "So in order to break it and defeat you, I have to destroy this!"
Angeal was rubbing his face now. "A curse?"
Sephiroth brushed him aside, coming a little closer to Cloud. "Listen… Strife," he said, reading the nametag that was still diligently on Cloud's shirt. "Would you really break a possibly invaluable object to break a curse?"
Stricken, Cloud lowered his prize, looking back and forth between it and Sephiroth's dead serious face. What would happen if he did? He would defeat these guys, but what about the museum? He would lose his job. Would he go to jail?
Genesis made the fatal mistake of reaching out to a glassy-eyed Cloud. Cloud recoiled, pressing back against the display.
"I-I…I have no choice!" he announced desperately, and in one final movement, slammed the tablet onto the museum floor.
It smashed immediately upon impact, one side completely disintegrated, while the other was just shattered. Cloud looked up, hoping against hope that the three men would just disappear.
For a moment, all four in the room stood in an awkward, sudden silence.
Cloud's eyes widened in horror. Not only because apparently, if there was a curse, breaking this thing hadn't worked. Not only because the three guys were still standing there because the curse had, obviously, not been broken.
It was mostly because he, Cloud Strife, new museum docent, protector of artifacts, person who had decided that the museum was his life, had just broken an artifact.
There was a pause. Then…
"Now you've done it," Angeal said.
"I didn't mean to!" Cloud blurted, backing away from the shattered mess. "I mean, I-I-"
"I think it's time that this stopped right here," Sephiroth interjected coolly, stepping forward. He reached out for Cloud's arm. Cloud dodged him, ducking down one of the split hallways. This time, he wasn't running to necessarily get away as much as out of sheer blind panic.
Surprisingly, he lost them a lot faster when he didn't put in as much of the effort.
Somehow, Cloud ended up curled up into a ball behind a figurine of an ancient Bandersnatch in Prehistoria, bawling his eyes out. The night had been a complete and total disaster, and even though he hadn't done anything besides smash a possibly irreplaceable piece of clay, Cloud somehow totaled it out to being entirely his fault.
If he had paid more attention, he wouldn't have been locked in. If he hadn't gone into Medieval Junon, there was a possibility that knight wouldn't have come to life. If he'd just quietly stayed in place and gotten eaten instead of running willy-nilly to try and break a curse he wasn't even sure existed, he wouldn't feel guilty of depriving the next generation of an important piece of history.
No matter which way he added it up, all he could see was that he'd done everything wrong. And, of course, when one thinks that they've done everything wrong, they tend to give up. Cloud didn't even startle this time when he heard someone walking towards him.
"Hey," a voice said, gently. A hand was suddenly on top of his head. "What are you doing here? Are you okay?"
Cloud sniffled miserably, looking up. Standing over him was a guy who looked, finally, kind of close to his age. He had spiky black hair, blue eyes, and was wearing a concerned look.
Coincidentally, that wasn't the only thing he was wearing. He was also wearing a fuzzy brown animal skin that stopped about mid-thigh.
But to heck with that. Cloud didn't really care anymore.
"Oh-" Cloud sobbed to a stop, looking for the cheap nametag. "-Zack, no, I'm not okay. In fact, I'm horrible!" He curled back up.
Zack dropped to a squat beside him and, without another word, wrapped both arms around Cloud's shoulders and pulled him into his chest. Cloud, having no regard for this being not only a complete stranger but also a figurine come to life, snuffled and sniffled and inadvertently blew snot on the front of Zack's outfit.
"Hey," Zack said softly. "Hey. It's all right—" He pulled Cloud back, scanning his chest. "—Cloud." Cloud's face was once again buried in caveman outfit. "I'm sure it's not too bad."
"But it is!" Cloud tried to wipe his face on his sleeve, but just ended up making everything more smeared and blurred. "I—I violated my basic code, I lost my vest, and I'm locked in a museum, and—and—"
Zack carefully removed Cloud's sleeve from his face, gently pulled up his hem, and proceeded to carefully wipe his face. "Try me."
Faced with this little bit of affection, Cloud spilled. He blurted out his entire story—being locked in, waiting for the security guard, and then bumping into Angeal Genesis Sephiroth (respectively), the curse, and him shattering an important piece of history. Somewhere in there, other things managed to entangle in—him always wanting to be a docent, being a docent was his lifelong dream, how he couldn't handle coffee and always crashed after experimenting with it…hey, he was hysterical. He could be cut some slack.
To his immense credit, Zack remained very calm throughout the entire story. He held Cloud close, rocked him, and stroked his hair, giving quiet "Uh huh" and "Okays" whenever Cloud paused. When Cloud had finally finished, he just continued rocking him for a few moments. Cloud's cries had quieted, and now only the occasionally deep sob or sniffle attacked. He was feeling rather drowsy, and he buried his face in Zack's shoulder.
"Hokay, Cloud," Zack finally began, "I'm not sure exactly where I should start, so I'm just going to randomly ramble on 'til all your questions are answered. 'Kay?"
Cloud hesitated, but then nodded. Why not?
"All right. First off, you kicked Angeal where it hurts. I love him dearly, but I've wanted to do that for ages. So I really owe you one."
Cloud sharply looked up, with more than a little surprise. Zack grinned down at him.
"Second, that artifact that you broke probably wasn't an artifact in the way you were thinking. Just think for a sec: was there a display case?"
Cloud thought. There hadn't been.
"Exactly." Zack nodded sagely. "If it was really some, I dunno, major mojo thing, wouldn't they at least put it under three inches of glass? That was probably a replica. Not easy to remake, but not irreplaceable. So don't worry. We'll explain it off."
Cloud opened his mouth to ask how, exactly, a figurine was going to explain off a broken replica, but Zack shoved his face into his shoulder again, and so to avoid getting a mouthful of fur, he remained silent.
"Third, last but not least…there is no curse."
"I know that," Cloud mumbled.
"Yeah, you do…now, anyway. But what I mean is…we're not figurines."
Cloud started. He stared up at Zack, grinning face and all.
"You're—not?" he squeaked. "But—but—"
In response, Zack gently took Cloud's hand and spread each finger apart, until it was a perfect star. He pressed it against his chest. In-between the rapidly blushing side who inwardly squeaked at this, Cloud could feel a steady heartbeat there under the layer of skin and fur.
"See? Would a wax figurine have a heartbeat?"
"You mean…" Cloud could feel his face rapidly heating. "So…you're…not…huh?"
"We're the new security guards," Zack explained, having pity on him. "Apparently, we're the best of the best, state of the art. This was our 'trial run', if you want to call it that. We were supposed to not only scare any thieves, but also do our job, and do it well. You sort of got in the way."
Cloud just stared at him.
"So, hey…we're not aliens, we're not going to eat you, and once you explain it out to the guys out there, I'm sure it'll be fine."
Cloud re-burst into tears, completely overwhelmed. With a sigh, Zack fished out his PHS.
"Hey, units one through three? I've got Red Alert. Security breach neutralized."
By the time Cloud got over his initial shock, Zack had already got him out of Prehistoria and into the main lobby, where the other three guards were already waiting. After Zack's explanation of the story—which Cloud didn't participate in, because he was too busy staring at his shoes—there was nothing but silence.
"So…" Zack let out a nervous laugh, slinging an arm around Cloud's shoulder. "It was all really one big misunderstanding, huh? We've got to cut him some slack."
Unhappily, Cloud slowly raised his head, peering up at each face. Angeal—well, he could tell that he was definitely still pissed with him. Genesis was looking smirky—but then again, he had looked smirky since Cloud had first bumped into him. Sephiroth's face was completely indecipherable. Cloud quickly ducked his head back down, scuffling his feet.
"Um…I'm sorry, sirs. For making your job so hard, I mean." He thought, and then added on, "And I'm sorry for being such an idiot. I know you're really…not brain eating aliens." He bit his lip, waiting for the chewing out to happen.
Instead, after a brief pause, Cloud felt a hand on his shoulder, and something tickling his nose. His head snapped up.
Sephiroth shifted, still holding out Cloud's docent vest. "I thought you may want this back."
Cloud looked uncertainly from him to the vest, smiled, and accepted it, hugging it close to his chest. "Thank…you."
Sephiroth didn't exactly smile back, but he wasn't scowling either.
Sometime later, Cloud's mother had been contacted, and someone was on their way to pick him up. Apparently, she'd been driving the curator crazy trying to find out what happened to her son, and the man (not a lady, Cloud noted for future reference) had been all too happy to receive a call assuring of Cloud's safety. Zack carefully had edited out the fact that the director didn't really seem to care about Cloud when he delivered the news. Cloud hadn't minded, though. In fact, he was feeling drowsy now that the danger was over—if it could've been called danger, really. By the time he was finally settled down on a bench, leaning on Zack's shoulder, he really dozed off.
Zack pulled and rearranged Cloud until his head was in his lap, then lazily spread his arms along the bench, looking up at the other men with a triumphant grin.
"I," he began, "Am switching to the daylight shift. There is absolutely no way that I'm letting this chance—" He gestured at Cloud, "—go by."
Genesis raised an eyebrow, cutting straight to the chase. "There's no such thing as love at first sight, Zack."
Zack stuck out his tongue. "I like him. He's kind of kooky but…he's pretty cute."
Angeal grumbled something, crossing his arms and looking away.
"Aw, don't be like that, Angeal. He was pretty spooked, so of course he would kick you there. It's basic defense."
"Someday," Angeal said, still adamantly not looking at Cloud, "I will return the favor."
Zack just laughed. "Yeah, right. Your honor would get in the way." He smiled down at Cloud, brushing his hair back from his face. "But, you know…I'd like to get to know this one a little better, maybe talk to him a little more. Maybe you guys could too."
Genesis coughed out something that sounded suspiciously like 'jailbait', but Sephiroth just raised an eyebrow, his lips quirking in an almost smile. Angeal sighed, rubbing his eyebrows in a pained way that pretty much meant 'you have my jealousy and my blessing'. Zack's grin grew wider as he tightened his grip on Cloud, and took advantage of the fact that he wasn't conscious to plant a big smacking kiss on his cheek.
Cloud, of course, had no idea of this. Right now, he was just plain exhausted, and leaning on Zack—the friendliest, and the only one who hadn't chased or grabbed or screamed after or snatched him, seemed the safest way to catch some much needed sleep. Besides—he had to turn around and come right back to the museum in the morning. Docent work wasn't easy for anyone.
Still—Cloud shifted uncomfortably, half between sleep and wakefulness—he was seeing the museum in a new light from now on. And not just because he now had the heebie-jeebies from the entire nighttime experience. Some other kind of light, if he could call it that—something not just involved in his pathetic obsession with history and museums in general.
Not that it had anything to do with his new, gigantic crush on three frightening guys and one friendly teen dressed in a skimpy caveman suit. Never.
Perish the very thought.
If you did read it…review? It means a lot. :)
A/N: Heh…well…at least I tried. Very first ASGZC (like it could be called that), heads up?
Anyway, to ShadesofImagination: I hope that you liked it! I hope. I dunno, I mean…can anyone tell that I worked really hard on the beginning, but near the middle, I started losing confidence? xD ANYWAY, I'm going to run now before I lose the nerve to actually post this. If you DID manage to trudge through the longest oneshot I've ever written, you have my utmost thanks and love! *just pretend this is a heart*
NOTE: Hey! Just wanted to say that if you DO review and your PM system is turned off, I'm so sorry that I can't reply back to you. I really do like replying, though. *coughs awkwardly* Just think, though; you won't have to get my rambling thanks and weird song recommendations! xD