Title: Rumours

Author: Sorceress Fantasia

Pairings: Zack/Cloud

Word count: 709

Warning: Potentially disturbing mental imagery, possibly weird sense of humour

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: As much as I would love to lay claim on Cloud, I'm kinda scared of Zack's Buster Sword. So well, I don't own Final Fantasy 7 or any of its characters.

Summary: In an organisation as large and complex as Shin-Ra, it was inevitable that there were always more than a few things going around the rumour mill. Like the one about Zack and the little blond trooper.

Note: So... I just noticed that I hadn't posted this over on my account. I actually wrote this a year ago for RainbowSerenity's birthday. XD

In an organisation as large and complex as Shin-Ra, and a place where work was so boring the only highlight of everyone's day was exchanging gossips, it was inevitable that there were always more than a few things going around the rumour mill.

For one, there were rumours that Sephiroth and Genesis fought over shampoo every day. More specifically, it was rumoured that Genesis was often accused of stealing Sephiroth's favourite shampoo, which unfortunately was always low in supply because it contained a special mix of herbs and had to be specially imported from Wutai.

There were also rumours that vice-president Rufus and Reno had something going on between them, because someone - but no one knew who, and no one was stupid enough to admit it now - had seen them coming out of an office together with ruffled hair and rumpled clothes.

It was also rumoured that Hojo had once tried to perform an experiment on how mako affected the strength of octopuses.

And then there was a rumour that a certain blond trooper with spiky hair was dating Zack, SOLDIER First Class and the next rising star in Shin-Ra.

As with every large and complex organisation like Shin-Ra where the highlight of everyone's day is planting more grapes on the corporate grapevine, there were always also less-than-intelligent beings who made validating rumours as their life's goal. Of course, most rumours were difficult to check for accuracy, but there were always little things here, there, and pretty much everywhere that gave way more things than intended.

Like when someone tried sounding out Angeal - only Sephiroth and Genesis' best friend and mutual punching bag, figuratively speaking - about the shampoo rumour, Angeal had merely scoffed and told the person to stop digging into their superiors' private affairs unless they wanted to reassigned to the chocobo cavalry (which, by the way, never existed). Despite the failure, the person did note that Angeal's hair had a scent similar to Sephiroth's.

The person who tried finding out more about Rufus and Reno disappeared one day and was never heard of again. Rumours went that he was diagnosed by Shin-Ra doctors that he suffered from vivid hallucinations that included various states of undress of passersby, and was therefore discharged dishonourably from duty.

No one really bothered checking out that rumour about Hojo, because most people only liked gossiping about pretty boys and girls. But someone did overhear a lab assistant chatting with a secretary once that that experiment was an epic failure, because the octopus mutated into a monster with double the number of tentacles than was usual but saw had no increase in strength at all. Even so, for some mysterious reasons, Hojo refused to discard or kill the octopus and had it moved to his private quarters instead. Since then, those who were unlucky enough to live on the same floor of the building claimed that they could hear low moans and chants of 'yes, yes, yes!' every night coming out of Hojo's apartment. But no one wanted to know why.

And that rumour about the blond trooper and Zack, which, oddly enough, was spread via Zack's fan club? After weeks of eyewitness reports of Zack running after the blond with roses, chocolates and so many motorcycle parts enough to actually build a complete bike, of Zack hissing venomously at anyone who even tapped the blond on the shoulder to tell him about his wallet on the floor, and of Zack draping himself all over the blond everywhere like a spineless jellyfish, everyone agreed that Zack had probably spread the rumours himself to thin out the competition.

And after a few weeks of all that chocobo mating dance ritual, Zack went from ardent suitor to pandering stalker slash boyfriend. All those blatant displays of PDA made more than a few people turn envious eyes towards the doting and somewhat stalkerish SOLIDER and his doe-eyed and somewhat easily embarrassed blond.

But no one really objected about the happy couple, even with Zack's tendency to go into needy mode anywhere and the blond's tendency to slap him upside the head when he got too embarrassed.

After all, everyone needed a little gossip to talk about in a place like Shin-Ra.