Cloud turned corner after corner as he rushed down the halls. Classes, training, and guard duty were over for the day and Cloud had promised his new friend, a SOLDIER of all things, too meet up with him to go out and eat. It didn't help that Cloud was running almost an hour late thanks to his "super friendly" and "wonderful" fellow classmates. The idiots had ganged up on him in the shower and Cloud now had new and colourful bruises to show. However, they had been kind enough to spare his face so Cloud figured that if he dressed in long sleeves that Zack, his new SOLDIER friend, would be none the wiser. To Clouds utter surprise Zack had turned out to be one of those guys who got fiercely protective over their friends, even if they were low ranking soldiers in their first year of training like Cloud, and Cloud knew that if Zack found out he got beat up on a regular basis that he'd try to do something about it and in the end get Cloud into more trouble.

Cloud let out the breath he'd been holding when he realised that he was the first one to make it back to the quarters and changed in a hurry. Not all of his bunkmates were assholes, but the one who had made it his mission in life to make Cloud's life as miserable as possible shared the room with him and Cloud tried to avoid him at all costs. The guy's first name was Mack but he hadn't been part of the gang that had beat him up in the showers.

Cloud sat on his bed and took a moment to calm himself down. He'd already been by the infirmary, he was a regular visitor by now, and acquired a potion to help with the pain. He'd actually been lucky that all they had done was hit him. As one of the smaller, leaner and prettier soldiers around Cloud often found himself on the receiving end of lustful gazes and other more physical advances. In the year he'd been at ShinRa he'd already been cornered and almost raped about a handful of times. It had been worst the first couple of moths when Cloud had had no training in any sort of combat what-so-ever, and had been utterly defenceless against guys almost twice his size. He'd relied on his roommates, the nicer ones, for protection then and also on his Sergeant who had decided that, Cloud looking as he did, would need to be looked after. But by now Cloud was good enough in hand to hand combat that he could look out after himself, however, that didn't mean he could avoid a beating when an entire group had ganged up on him.

The sound of the door to the quarters opening had Cloud jumping up on his feet and he tensed as he waited for whomever it was to enter. He unclenched his fists when Zeck, who was the complete opposite of Zack, entered. The dirty blond nodded his head at Cloud and Cloud nodded back. Normally the room would have been full of cadets groaning, bickering, studying, yelling and nursing aches but they'd been granted leave for the weekend and most of them had already left the compound to head to the Slums.

Cloud put his stuff in his pockets and with a wave and a "See ya later" to Zeck left the building. His little break in his room had added another 10 minutes and completed the one hour he was running late. Cloud hoped Zack would still be waiting for him even though Cloud didn't think so, and wouldn't blame the guy for not sticking around for an hour waiting for a lowly cadet. Especially one he'd met only a couple of months ago, although they met regularly in one of the training rooms where Zack taught him how to use the buster sword. (Cloud had been so grateful when Zack had offered to teach him since he was so far behinds his classmates it wasn't even funny that he could have cried.)

Cloud neared the fountain they'd (Zack) decided to meet up at when they'd (Zack) decided to go out. He was surprised when he spotted him lying down on a bench. Cloud had been convinced the other would have left long ago.

"Sorry I'm late."

"Spikey!" Zack cried out and jumped to his feet. He threw an arm around Cloud's shoulders and proceeded to mess with his hair. "What's the big deal making me wait for over almost an hour! I thought you'd stood me up or something. I was starting to feel sorry for myself being dumbed by a cute blond."

Cloud tried to escape from Zack's hold but as always it turned out to be a pointless struggle. "Sorry, Zack. Classes ended late and I had to take a shower. I'm really sorry." Cloud apologised and decided to use a trick he'd only just gotten comfortable with using on the SOLDIER. He pulled out his lower lip, leaned his head down and looked up through his bangs at the other with the biggest eyes he could make. The wind picked up and stung his eyes making them water giving him the biggest and saddest puppy eyes ever seen.

Zack melted. "Aw! Of course I'm not mad at you, Spikey!" Zack pulled Cloud into his arms and hugged him tight as he rubbed his cheek on top of soft chocobo-hair, missing the way Cloud flinched as Zack touched his bruised body. He drew back after a couple of minutes only to grab Cloud by the hand and pull him in the direction of the train. "Come on! I've wanted to take you to this place for a while now. They have the best barbecue! You'll love it! My treat!"

As Zack dropped into his usual conversations about everything between heaven and earth Cloud found himself relaxing in the company of his friend. It had taken him a while to get over the whole I'm-your-superior-SOLDIER-Leuitenant-thing and to learn to see Zack as a friend. It didn't help that Cloud wasn't a very sociable and outgoing person otherwise, but slowly but surely he was opening op. When Cloud had first smiled at him, Zack had wanted to shout to the skies in joy but had refrained from doing so and had simply smiled back with teeth and all.

When the SOLDIER had first seen the cadet he had seriously thought there'd been a chocobo loose in the building. He'd seen him from behind and being shorter than everybody else the cadet's hair had been the first thing he'd spotted. Zack had followed him, wondering why no one else was reacting to a chocobo running around amongst the cadets and had followed him to one of the training rooms where he'd been surprised to see that the chocobo was actually a cadet. A small, blond and pretty cadet with the bluest eyes ever! Zack had stayed in the training room and once training had ended he'd come up with a way to befriend the boy. He had approached slowly. Worried that any sudden movements might scare him away like some wild chocobo.

Zack couldn't wait to introduce him to the others but for now he was more than happy to have the cute and adorable cadet all to himself, (even if the cute and adorable cadet would have made a fuzz about being called cute and adorable which would only have made him even more cute and adorable).

Zack smiled and speed up, tugging his little chocobo behind him.


A/N: Never written a Final Fantasy fic before. Haven't played the game(s) either. Well, I'm actually halfway through Crisis Core but I don't think that counts as much, I can't seem to defeat Genesis Avatar, or Avatar Genesis or whatever (the stupid asshole, I want him dead!). What I know is actually mostly from other stories on here (and the movie) so I'm sorry if things turn out horribly wrong.