AN: Written as part of the summer prompting challenge that I'm involved in with my two best friends, junealondra and Le Requiem. If you don't know what that is by this point, see my profile for details ^.^
Prompt 9: "blank" takes time (I could fill the blank with any word I wanted. Read the fic to have everything revealed!)
It was, for all intents and purposes, supposed to be a night of celebration. DeepGround had been taken care of for good, Vincent was back among the group and, once again, AVALANCHE had saved the world. Or at least a small portion of it.
Barrett, with his inflated income thanks to his booming oil business, had rented out the nicest possible venue in Edge, leaving the decorating up to Tifa and Elena, the latter having a surprisingly good eye for the finer points of a grand presentation. Reeve had called in his personal caterer, Yuffie had paid for a full Wutaiian music ensemble, Rude was on firework duty for later in the evening, and everyone who was anyone had been invited to what was sure to be the grandest party Gaia had seen this side of Sephiroth's existence.
As Cloud strolled through the entryway of the large, open ballroom, even he was awed by the sheer, utter gleam everything seemed to cast. At the far end, the wall was entirely constructed of shimmering glass, and columns of intricately carved marble lined the remaining three. None of this, however, could distract him from the gorgeous brunette in the show-stopping blue dress.
While she chatted away with Cid and Shera, Cloud couldn't help himself from admiring the way the dress hugged her shapely rear, and its courageous attempt at clinging (barely) to her bust had his mind drifting to dark, sweaty places.
And then Tifa turned to him and smiled, and he felt like the biggest idiot in the world for living with the smartest, kindest, most beautiful woman the Planet had ever seen for four freaking years and not once making a move on her.
"Cloud!" She beamed, gliding over to him, her stiletto-ed feet hidden by a glistening puddle of cobalt fabric. "I was beginning to think you weren't going to show."
"Delivery ran late and I had to change." He said, trying to maintain an air of normalcy as she reached up to straighten his tie. He wanted to shudder at the feeling of her fingertips against his throat, and his eyes were desperately warring with his brain, fighting for their right to focus on the most… voluptuous part of the woman in front of him. His brain simply wanted to drag her to him and kiss her senseless.
Tifa's voice gave his concentration a nudge back in the right direction. "As long as you got here, that's all that matters." She touched his elbow reassuringly, smile never leaving her lips. "It's great to see everyone celebrating together, no more nastiness between us and the Turks. Even Reno's being respectful!" They both turned their gaze to the redhead across the room who was currently (forcefully) flirting with a slightly-intoxicated Yuffie. "… Or not." Tifa amended.
"Someone may have to step in, or Vince is probably gonna shoot him." Cloud pointed out, watching how the gunslinger was glaring daggers at the overly-friendly Turk from the opposite end of the room.
"And Yuffie is, as always, oblivious." Tifa laughed softly, earrings clinking as she turned to regard Cloud slyly. "Funny how people are like that sometimes."
The blonde felt his ears warm slightly at her implication. "Tifa…"
"Don't worry, Cloud, I'm on it." Another light touch at his elbow, and then she was sashaying away, hips swinging dangerously.
The swordsman shook his head at himself, disgusted. 'I'm doomed… I am most definitely doomed to a life of eternal loneliness and emasculation if I do not make a move soon.'
He barely noticed the object of his affections speaking politely with the redheaded Turk, so lost was he in mentally kicking the shit out of himself. It wasn't until the aforementioned Turk was standing in front of him, waving a hand up and down and drawling obnoxiously, that Cloud snapped back to the real world.
"There you are, Strife! Was starting to worry. Hey, there aren't any Sephirothy voices up there talking to you, are there? 'Cause if there are, you should probably warn us, yo."
Cloud sighed, all patience leaving him with Tifa's departure. "What do you want, Reno?"
"Your girl sent us off to the freezer to bring out the first of the cakes. Apparently the caterers are all tied up or some shit and it's too heavy for one person."
Cloud seriously doubted that its weight was really an issue. Tifa knew how heavy the Buster Sword had been, and he'd hauled that thing around like a feather. Still, he wasn't going to ruin her scheming and let Reno go back to trying to get in Yuffie's pants, so off to the kitchen they both went.
That decision, while chivalrous and responsible, was what ultimately led to the demise of what had been, so far, a perfectly lovely evening.
Cloud knew he didn't trust the freezer as soon as he laid eyes on it. It was one of those massive, walk-in contraptions, with five different locks and a tiny window in the door. Still, any misgivings he had, he chalked up to residual weirdness from living in a tube for four years, and shoved them aside in favor of helping Tifa out.
As they peered inside, the cake stood, watching them innocently from the very back of the freezer. It seemed to know something they didn't, but they both shook it off.
Into the freezer went Cloud. Into the freezer went Reno. Swing went the freezer door as it closed. Click went the door as it locked.
"…the hell?" Cloud turned to regard the door warily. He'd had his fair share of psychotic doors attacking him—though the Temple of the Ancients had definitely been the worst—and he had learned that one could never be too careful around said doors.
What was most alarming about the door in front of him, however, was not that it had decided to sprout a head a eat him alive. No, that would have been a welcome development. Instead, Cloud was faced with the reality that it appeared to have no handle on the inside. And that it locked automatically upon closing.
Slowly, he looked over at the Turk across the freezer from him. Reno smirked wider and more sinisterly than Cloud had ever seen in his life—and this was coming from a guy who'd worked with Sephiroth. He narrowed his eyes in retaliation and glared.
"Hoo boy," Reno drawled, grin never leaving his face. "This is sure gonna be fun."
Twenty minutes. So far, Cloud had survived twenty minutes locked in a freezer with Reno, and he was pretty sure that if he'd had any sort of weapon or lethal object with him, one of them would have been murdered within those twenty minutes. Unfortunately, there was nothing at all dangerous to be found on his person, or in the freezer (unless cake was considered dangerous, but, as everyone knows, the cake is a lie anyway), so he was forced to resign himself to a while longer spent with the unfortunate company he was keeping. He hoped someone would come rescue them soon.
Cloud had spent the first ten minutes pounding on the door and yelling for someone to come let them out, all to no avail, while Reno leaned against the back wall lamenting his lack of cigarettes. The next ten had been spent sitting in awkward silence, across from one another. As time continued to pass, Cloud continued to get colder and colder, while Reno appeared to just get bored.
And as most people who know him reasonably well are aware of, a bored Reno is never a good thing. Cloud was about to learn this firsthand.
"So… are you gay or are you just not into chicks?"
Cloud blinked at the man sitting across from him. "Excuse me?"
"Well, you've only got the hottest piece of ass with the most killer rack living with you. But Yuffie says you aren't hittin' it so… my thinking is you either bat for the other team or you just don't like sex. With anyone." Here, the Turk paused. "So… is it animals that get you off or something? 'Cause I'm having a mighty hard time understandin' your issues."
By the time Reno was done speaking, the blonde swordsman was most definitely wishing for a weapon. Hell, even the cake was beginning to look like it had its uses. If he could just hold Reno still long enough to smother him….
But Reno was not finished. "And it's not like she doesn't want you! I mean, goddamn Strife! With her in that dress and the way she looks at you? She's practically begging for you to—"
"Just shut up, Reno. You're an idiot."
Reno quirked one copper eyebrow. "Oh ho! Bold words, my crazy non-friend, bold words. Though I kinda think you're the idiot since, ya know, Tifa's hot as hell and basically wasted on you and all."
"You think I don't know that?" Cloud shouted, glaring at the redhead. "You think I don't kick the mental crap out of myself every day?" Reno opened his mouth to say something, but the floodgates had been opened and there was no stopping Cloud Strife on a rant about Tifa's magnificence. "I know she's the most beautiful woman out there, and I know I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have her that close all the time and I know I'm never gonna find someone funnier or smarter or sweeter or better than her! I know all of that!" He paused to take a great, heaving breath. "I also know that I'm madly in love with her, but I'm also the biggest screw-up in the world. And if there's one thing I couldn't bear to mess up, it's her."
For a few moments, all that could be heard was the steady whirring from the freezer's cooling system.
"So… you're not gay, then?"
Twenty more minutes had passed in relative silence. Cloud was moping, as he frequently did, and Reno was sitting quite still, a contemplative look on his face.
"I still think you're an idiot."
"Says the moron trying to get between Vincent Valentine and his girl."
Reno bristled. "Hey! Yuffie is not his yet, yo. I still have a fighting chance."
"Doubtful. She's oblivious to the both of you."
"Strife, if it's relationship advice you're offering, I'm not interested. You fail hard enough as it is, and I sure as hell don't need any of your bad mojo." The two men leaned back against their respective walls, glowering.
The freezer was beginning to feel a little too small for Cloud's tastes, and the cake was whispering his name again, begging to be used in some lethal manner on the redhead.
"She's got killer legs." Reno sighed wistfully, after a few beats of silence. "I mean, seriously, can you just imagine what it would be like to have those all wrapped around—"
"Reno? She's like my little sister, so please shut up."
"Your fuckin' hot little sister." He smirked.
Cloud threw a wary glance at the cake before clamping down on the urge to go postal with its frosted deliciousness.
Instead, he turned back to his fellow captive. "You know I'll kill you if you hurt her." He stated dully.
Reno rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, big brother threats and all that. I get it, yo. Not that I'd hurt her in the first place. Hell, Valentine'd be more likely to hurt her than me."
"I… seriously doubt that."
A short burst of laughter erupted from the Turk. "I've read his file. Seems he's still pining away for that skank in the crystal. And seriously? Anyone who was involved with Hojo, the creepy fuck, is obviously a nutcase, and anyone who was involved with anyone who was involved with Hojo has gotta be even more screwed up in the head. And head fuckery does not lead to healthy, painless relationships, yo."
Secretly, Cloud sort of agreed, not that he'd ever admit it. Instead, he chose to stay silent.
Neither man spoke for a while, until it became obvious that both were incredibly cold by this point in their captivity. Reno's teeth were chattering quietly and Cloud was having a hard time suppressing the shivers trying to wrack his body. Both of their noses were also a cheery, bright red.
They both continued to ignore each other, until it became too much for the redheaded spazz. "Seriously dude, are we expected to just sit here and freeze to death? Why hasn't anyone of those morons out there noticed that we're missing? Or that the damn cake is missing if they're really gonna be stupid about it!"
"Reno… you do realize there's about twelve other cakes, don't you? And ten other freezers for the rest of the food."
He banged his head against the wall, causing a shower of frost chips to come sprinkling down on him. Cloud would have laughed at the way they glittered femininely in Reno's hair, if Cloud laughed at such things.
"So… our only option is to die here."
"Neither of us have our PHSs. I don't see anything else we can do other than wait."
Reno looked down at himself and then over at Cloud. "I am way too sexy to freeze to death…" he muttered. In an instant, something sparked behind his gaze. "Say, Strife…"
"Hn?" Cloud grunted, only half-paying attention to his unwanted cellmate. He had gone back to studying the cake from a distance, trying to gauge its potential as a projectile weapon.
"How secure in your masculinity are you?"
The swordsman raised one eyebrow slowly. "Defeated Sephiroth, remember? Three goddamn times."
"Good! So… we've got two straight men, both secure in their masculinity and both freezing their balls off."
"I don't think I want to know where you're going with this…" Cloud's voice took on a warning tone.
"Well, you know what they say about body heat!" Reno made like he was going to launch over to Cloud's side of the freezer, but he was stopped but the blonde's upraised hand.
"No. Fuck no. I have been trapped in here with your moronic rambling, questioning of my sexuality, and general stupidity, and there is no way in hell I am letting you cuddle me, you psychotic ginger."
Reno shrugged. "Fine. When you freeze to death before getting to bone Tifa, don't come cryin' to me, yo."
"…Too bad I'll never get to ruin Yuffie's innocence. Or try and steal Tifa away from you, for that matter. If you ain't gonna man up, then somebody's gotta show her a good, sweaty time."
And then Cloud lost it.
"I'M GONNA FUCKING KILL YOU WITH THIS CAKE!" He yelled, while flinging himself to the back of the freezer and proceeding to chuck the cake with all his might at an incredibly surprised Reno.
It flew through the air in all its delicious glory, a beacon of sugar and delight and imminent doom. And it landed with the most satisfying of splats, right on target.
The cake, in essence, did very little to actually kill Reno. Yet Cloud found it endlessly satisfying to watch the redhead struggle to right himself while pinned to the ground by a massive, tiered confection of frosting. And when he did finally manage to get to his feet, the sight of him covered from head to toe in an explosion of funfetti and gooey, oozing frosting, was just enough to send Cloud into a fit of hysterical laughter.
It was, at that moment, that the entirety of AVALANCHE and the Turks finally found them.
"What the &%$^ are you two ^%*# idiots doing?" Cid asked, obviously taken aback.
"Mud wrestling?" Yuffie suggested. "Only… with cake instead of mud?"
Rude polished his shades.
Then Tifa seemed to come to her senses.
"The cake!" she cried, rushing into the freezer to survey the damage.
Cloud was still laughing.
Tifa planted her hands on her hips and glared at him. "You absolutely ruined the cake, Cloud! And look at poor Reno!"
As he finally straightened, Cloud stared at Tifa hard. Her eyes were glinting and her lips were downturned in a slight pout, and he decided in that moment that it would be a crime not to kiss her.
Not even caring that his fingers were covered in frosting, he took her face in his hands and claimed her mouth as his. Ignoring the catcalls and whistles of the surrounding group, Cloud took his time kissing her. He had four years to make up for, after all.
He pulled away, pressing his forehead against hers. "There are twelve other cakes, Teef. And Reno's an asshole." He opened his eyes to finally look at her. "Oh, and also? I'm stupidly in love with you."
Tifa just grinned, wider than the sun, uncaring about the frosting that was now coating her cheeks and sticking in her hair. "I know, silly. I know."
It was the best feeling in the world for Cloud to wake up the next morning with Tifa in his arms, after a full night of making all their sweaty dreams come true. So he was not exactly pleased when she suggested they get out of bed.
"Cloud… we have to get up. We have to make breakfast for the kids, and open up the bar, and you've probably got deliveries and ohmygosh your feet are freezing!"
"Still frozen from yesterday, Teef." He murmured as he pulled her closer. "And we're not going anywhere 'til I thaw." As she turned to face him, he took the liberty of kissing her senseless. "And," he smirked "thawing takes time."
Fun Fact: No cake was harmed in the making of this fic. Also, if you didn't understand the line about the cake being a lie, it just means you haven't played Portal. Not imperative to the plot at all, just satisfying my love for references. =P
Fun Fact 2: This was my original idea for the very first prompt I got at the beginning of the summer (the prompt was Temperature) but, at the time, I was failing majorly at writing this idea, so I shelved it. Now it has been written and I am filled with glee. Also, this was originally going to be titled In Which Bru Tries to Not Drop the F-Bomb and Fails Miserably.
Any comments, critiques, criticisms or compliments would be welcome and appreciated!