The story continues
Cloud sucked his lip in under his teeth, contemplating the screen in front of him dubiously. His index finger caressed the heated surface of the button it was hovering over. He closed his eyes and ran a hand across his forehead. The menacing light from the screen shone through his eyelids, indicating the lack of refute from his dilemma.
A quick exhale of breath, a jerk of his finger and an electrical conformation was all that were needed to end his choice in the matter. It was out there now; gone off to play with fate and consequence.
The blonde stood up from his chair and closed the laptop. He tried to swallow the nervousness in his stomach as he reached down and grabbed his school bag. Turning to look at the portable computer one more time, he left his bedroom and headed to school.
Cloud played with the sweet wrapper in his hands, twisting and manipulating it idly as he half-listened to his friend's usual banter at their cafeteria table. He became more sentient when he felt a large hand plunge into his hair and ruffle it.
"Hey Cloudy, why so glum?" Zack's familiar voice filled his ears as the older boy took a seat beside him. He looked over and gave a small smile, shaking his head in response to the question.
"Oh? Just being your normal moody self then I suppose?" The boy smirked, grabbing a couple of fries from the tray he brought with him and stuffing them into his mouth.
"Yeah, sure." Cloud retorted sarcastically, picking a piece of fallen potato from the others shirt and holding it up, shaking his head in a scolding manner. "Are we animals Zackary?" He said in a teacher-like voice.
"Well…" Zack smiled coyly and Cloud narrowed his eyes. The blond jerked back when Zack shot forward and snapped the piece of fry from his fingers; baring his teeth like a canine. Cloud stared wide-eyed as the he grinned and stated, "a wolf, maybe."
"You're a freak! Almost bit my fingers off." Cloud grumbled in exasperation as he wiped them in his pant leg. Zack bit the inside of his cheek but the two of them inevitably fell into a fit of laughter. "There all spitty." Cloud tried to saw between laughs which caused Zack to laugh even louder. The rest of the table turned their attention towards the two.
"What's going on?" Yuffie questioned and became frustrated when she was ignored.
Cloud wiped his eyes with his sleeve, trying to control his laughter. The situation wasn't even that funny, it was just the expressions Zack made. The way he talked.
Zack sat back and put his hands behind his head. He waved off the curious gazes coming from his friends, stating it was just, 'a Cloudy and Zack moment.' And they all rolled their eyes in annoyance. Cloud looked over at Zack who smirked back.
The moment was broken when a feminine voice spoke up behind Zack. Cloud felt a frown form on his face when a particular busty brunette took a seat beside his friend and kissed him on the cheek.
"Hello lovely." Zack said, and Cloud didn't understand why, when the raven haired boy placed his arm around Tifa's shoulder, he lost his appetite.
"Hey." She smirked back. She then turned to Cloud and gave him a smile. "Hi Cloud." She greeted. Cloud shook himself from his thoughts.
"Hey Tifa. How are you?" He returned, forcing a sugar-filled smile her way.
"Oh she is fiiiiine Cloudy." Zack stated lecherously which earned him a punch in the shoulder from the brunette. Cloud let out a small laugh, feeling like it was appropriate. He honestly didn't know why seeing the two made his mood dampen. Perhaps he was feeling a little lonely lately; everyone just seemed to be pairing off, while he was still alone. He was only fifteen but it seemed like he was behind on the whole… romantic scene. He hadn't even kissed anyone before, let alone anything else.
None of this really bothered him until suddenly his best friend was taken too. Zack was his rock, always had been, and now it seemed like he was sort of drifting away. He couldn't confide in him anymore. Zack wanted to spend time with his new girlfriend and Cloud didn't want to upset that so he had kind of kept his distance for the last two weeks.
"Damn this dance shit. I aint goin to it." Reno's grumbling voice spoke up after a few minutes of idle chatter. "Load of crap." The volatile redhead concluded, sticking his fork harshly into the food in front of him. Yuffie scoffed and shook her head.
This Friday marked the seventieth anniversary of the opening of Midgar Holy high. There was a school dance taking place that Friday and Yuffie was on (in charge of) the committee. The benefits went to the local Midgar orphan-edge.
"Of course they're all going. It's for a good cause and more importantly I," she emphasised the last noun by pointing to herself grandly, "am on the committee so it's gonna kick the ass of any dance that came before it. Oh yeah." She gloated.
"We're going." Yuna and Tidus said simultaneously before turning to look at each other.
"Jinx!" Yuna stated, giggling. Tidus just smirked cheekily and got up in search of the vending machine.
"What about you Ax?" Yuna cooed, leaning forward and squinting one eye. "You bringing that new luuuva of yours? Huh, huh?" Axel became tense, leaning back in his seat.
"Ya have someone? Who?" Reno questioned, arching a brow in suspicion. He usually knew everything that went on in his cousin's life. How had this little titbit of information surpassed him?
"None of your business Ren." Axel answered coolly. He knew this would annoy Reno. Ever since he had come to live with him when they were young, Reno had always been trying to out-do him. Nicer car, cooler phone, hotter date. Not knowing what Axel's new boyfriend looked like or who he was, would drive him crazy. Satisfying.
"Whatever." Reno snorted, looking back down at the table in a sulk. There were sniggers all around the table at his behaviour.
"I'm not going." Leon spoke up, his eyes never leaving his food. Yuffie turned her head towards him and Cloud swore he could see a large vein in her forehead.
"Oh stop being such a moody loner Leon. Get a life okay and try acting like kid instead of a moody old man for one, "She hissed derisively, glaring at him. Leon only popped a tomato into his mouth and raised a brow, making sure she knew just how bothered he was by it. She shook her head, really angry, and hissed. "Mean, horrible jerk face." Cloud decided she wasn't going to get much madder.
"Um, I ah…I don't think I'm gonna be going either Yuf," He stated nervously.
"What?" It wasn't Yuffie but Zack who reacted to his revelation. The blond turned his head and met a pair of enquiring purple orbs. Tifa was looking at him with a curious gaze, but it seemed much emptier than her boyfriend's.
"Yeah," Cloud shrugged, fiddling with the wrapper, "I just don't really feel like it. Anyway it's more of a couples thing." It was true. The dance was really a night for couples, slow music, dancing and pictures. It screamed romance. Cloud knew that if he went it would just be another night to remind him that he was alone.
The other reason for his decision was the fact that he hadn't gone out since Tifa's party, but he ignored that.
"Awe you don't need a date Cloudy, it's just another party same as all the rest of them." Zack stated and he could see Reno nod from the corner of his eye. He didn't notice Tifa flinch.
"Nah, blondies right. Bunch of girly shit."
"Yeah. I just don't feel like it." Cloud stated again. He looked up at Zack and noticed his friend studying him.
"Cloud," the boy started but was cut off when the blond put up his hand.
"Be quiet Fair." He stated briskly, wanting the topic to end.
"Assholes!" Yuffie suddenly shouted, rising from her seat and leaving the table quickly. None of her jocular personality shone through as the small girl stormed out of the cafeteria. "Mean, horrible, moody, emo, looser-face, awful…"
"Guess she's insulted." Reno stated dryly and Cloud furrowed his brows in guilt.
The best part of school had to be the end. When that last bell rings, it's like a weight is lifted from your shoulders and you're free for a whole night. It never even factors into your brain that you're going to have to face the whole thing again the next day.
Cloud sighed as he made his way down the steps, taking a lemon drop from his pocket and popping it into his mouth. He looked over to where Yuffie's bike normally stayed during the day and felt guilty when he saw that it was gone; she sometimes waited for a while to talk to him. He didn't blame her for being mad; she had been talking about how cool the dance was going to be non-stop for the past two weeks, stating that they never had someone like her on the committee before. He had told her he was going to go but that was before…
Cloud stopped walking and ran a hand through his hair, looking towards the bright sky. He really needed to change his attitude. The real reason he wasn't going to the dance was because of Zack and Tifa. He wouldn't mind going with Zack, just as friends, but now he had a girlfriend and he knew that Tifa would want him all to herself and that would result in him being alone and awkward for the night.
He just felt like something had shifted- it wasn't the same. Zack had hooked up with numerous people before but this was the first time he was serious with someone and it was just…different.
Blue eyes scanned the students in the school yard, looking over all the different faces, before he caught sight of a familiar pair of smouldering eyes.
Cloud bit his lip as he contemplated the older boy from across the yard. Vossler was an attractive; no-one could deny that. His muscular physique and good looks were made all the more attractive by his friendly personality. And he was definitely… both ways inclined. Cloud felt his stomach rise to his chest.
Not knowing what he was doing or why he was doing it, the small teen found himself walking towards the group of boys that Vossler was hanging with. He felt his heart beating in his ears, his palms became sweaty as he made his way over. He stopped in front of the boys, noticing with disdain that they were all taller than him. The group were mostly turned away from the blond and didn't notice him at first.
He shook his head and made a move to turn away, the apprehension getting too much for him.
"Cloud?" He turned back around to see all of them staring at him; Vossler had called his name and was now looking at him with a raised eyebrow.
"Uh," Cloud started, feeling his cheeks heat up severely. He smiled nervously, feeling at least three sets of eyes burning into him. "I just wanted to ask you something. In private." He had walked the plank, may as well jump in now.
"Oh. Okay then." Vossler said. He walked up to the blond and motioned for him to follow as they moved away from his friends. Cloud closed his eyes before following the older boy.
Gaia, Gaia, Gaia…
"So what's up?" Vossler asked once they were a little away from the group. He peered at the blond curiously, mirth shining in his eyes.
"Um. This is kind of ah…random. I uh, feel pretty stupid actually." Cloud stuttered, wishing the world would just swallow him up. Vossler didn't say anything; he just folded his arms and let the boy continue. "The dance. Do you wanna go to that um, dance thing with me? Well it's probably m-more of a group thing really but uh… F-Friday?" He blurted out quickly.
He felt his heart drop when the brunette didn't say anything for a while, but just stared at him with an amused expression.
Cloud really felt like dying when the other boy broke out into a fit of laughter. He felt his whole body blush as he stood there, humiliated. He eventually made a small noise in the back of his closing throat and frowned. "O…kay then, I'm gonna go." He said, turning to do as he said. The still laughing boy grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
"No, no Cloud, stop." Vossler breathed out, gaining a grip on his laughter. He stood up straight and looked at the blond apologetically. "That was just the funniest way I've ever been asked out before."
"I didn't…ask you out." Cloud mumbled, embarrassed but not humiliated anymore.
"You did. And I'm glad. Yeah, I'll go with you the 'dance thing'." Vossler stated boldly. Cloud looked up, self-consciously, and gazed at the other shyly.
"Really?" He asked and Vossler laughed again.
"Yeah, really. Who wouldn't?"
"Okay then… Great." Cloud smiled again. He looked at the clock on the school wall. "Um, I have to go now but-"
"Do I get your number or?" Vossler interrupted the boy. Cloud was momentarily stupefied for a minute but then found his senses and nodded. He gave Vossler his number clumsily and the older boy smiled.
"Okay then. I'll be seeing ya, Cloud." He saluted. Cloud nodded again, feeling like he was being too courtly.
"Yeah, see ya." He gave an awkward nod and turned to leave. Looking back once, he saw that Vossler had made his way back to his friends. He smiled to himself and made for the gate, trying not to cringe.
"Idiot!" He whispered, shuddering.
He felt happy though. Well, more satisfied than happy.
The next morning Cloud felt good. It was a good night, he had very little homework and his mom was in great form. She had made him dinner and then they just chatted all night. He knew it was lame but he loved times like that, when they could act like a normal family. It was something to be cherished; considering.
He spotted Zack from across the library and made his way over to the empty desk beside him. Zack practically beamed when he saw the blond. "Hey, hey Cloudy. Oh Gaia, is that… a smile on your face? Oh wow… I better get a camera for this. Hmm… now where is it." He leaned into the others face, not giving considering to personal space.
"Ah, move back," Cloud hissed, though there was good humour in his voice.
"Soooooo," Zack cooed, ignoring him. "Any particular reason you're all smiley and gooey?" Then he lifted a finger and pressed it to the boy's nose. "Did you do the dirty with someone? Oh you did didn't you? Who was I then, huh?" Cloud pushed him away and was about to answer when he was suddenly glomped from behind.
"Hey hey Cloouuuud! Glad you finally saw the light. Friday is gonna be sooooo fun now that you're not being a moaner looser anymore!" Yuffie yelled, hugging the boy. Cloud gave a small chuckle, prying her hands from his neck. "Anyway, I have to go do important things but you are awesome!" She said, standing up and skipping out of the room. That girl had way too much energy, in Cloud's opinion.
"Ah, so I guess you're going to the dance then? That's great Chocobo, you don't need a date to have fun after all, it's just like a normal night. But with crap music, lame decorations, uh teachers and…non-alcoholic punch." Zack slowed down at the last part, shrugging sheepishly. Cloud smiled, scratching the back of his ear. "Huh, what? Is there something in my gross teeth or something?" Zack asked, seeing the blonde's awkwardness.
"Well actually, I have a…someone to go with now now." Cloud smiled, looking at his friend. Not for approval. Zack's smile faltered a little and he leaned back a bit.
"Yoooou do?" He questioned in mock wonder. Cloud pouted, slightly put off by the disbelief, but nodded. "Whoa, first the smileys and now this. Are you sure you're the real chocobo head? You look like him but…Hmmm, well who is it then?"
Cloud licked his lips, suddenly feeling awkward. "It's Vossler, actually." He breathed out. He watched as Zack's eyes widened and then narrowed. The raven haired boy picked up a pencil from his desk and began to chew on it. Cloud gave him a puzzled look.
"Reeeeally?" Zack asked, trying to keep his voice from sounding scathing. Cloud shrugged. "Did he ask you yesterday?"
"No, I asked him, actually. Weird right?" Cloud answered, cringing at the memory. Even if it worked out well, it was still embarrassing.
"You asked? Okay really, you look like my little chocobo but I don't think you are. You have the eyes and adorable chubby cheeks but the personality is seriously not fitting..." The older teen's joke didn't have the humour behind it. Cloud could see his chiselled jaw clenching. Why?
Did it feel satisfying?
"Zack, are you… is something wrong?" The smaller boy queried, searching the other's face.
"Hmm, well that's my question. Maybe if I pulled your hair the mask would come off" Zack answered, trying to allay the boys curiosity. Cloud didn't respond. "Ah, no nothing's wrong chocobo-head… it's just random. Takes a few seconds to get into my skull."
"I know it is? I didn't even know what I was doing. He's nice and Yuffie was mad and I felt guilty so I just…asked him." The blond waved his arms in the air to emphasize his point. Zack didn't show as much enthusiasm as his friend. Not at all.
"Well that was pretty brave. You could have looked like a reeeeaaaal idiot." Zack stated coolly. Cloud felt his stomach drop. Idiot? That was kind of harsh...
"Oh, thanks… Why are you being so…are you in a bad mood or something?" Cloud asked, all the mirth gone from his eyes. Zack blew some hair out of his face, clicking the pencil against his lip.
"No, it's just that it seems a little strange that you would ask some random person to the dance just because you didn't want to go alone. You didn't have to get a date, y'know? It's just a party the same as any other…" Zack couldn't hide the surliness from his voice. Cloud arched his brow, taken back by the other's patronizing attitude.
"Well I didn't just ask him because of the dance. I think I like Vossler. He's really nice. I just never really thought about it before but y'know why not?." Cloud answered, feeling like he was being interrogated. "Anyway, people do ask random people to these things. Reno and Yuffie did. I don't see the problem with it."
"Eh, well it's kinda different because Reno and Yuffie have hooked up with their dates before. They didn't ask some stranger..." Zack retorted.
"I didn't either!" Cloud snapped.
"Okay then Cloudy. That's just what it seems like to me is all I was saying." Zack held up his hands in defence but Cloud could see the self-righteous look in his eyes. He felt his temper rise.
"Whatever Fair. It's none of your business then." He muttered, turning away from the older teen.
"Hey, don't get bitchy blondie. I' just saying that maybe if you just thought about things a little better, use that brain of yours, you could avoid trouble." Zack clicked his tongue. Cloud stared straight forward for a minute before asking.
"What do you mean by that?" Calmly.
"I'm just saying. If you had been more careful before then maybe that whole thing with Seifer-" but he didn't get to finish the sentence as the blond stood up sharply and without looking at him, turned and left the library. Some other student's shot him puzzled looks but were ignored.
Zack ran a hand through his hair. He looked at the pencil in his hand and chucked it across the room violently, earning himself a few more odd looks and stares. Well he didn't really care. What the hell was Cloud's problem? He was so stubborn and just didn't like being wrong about things. Zack was damned if he was going to let him ask a senior out without some questions. That wasn't how it worked; he was just looking out for him like he always did.
You were a jerk though.
Cloud wiped the dust from his shirt, scanning the material for any more. He was dressed in a white pressed shirt with black pants. It was a semi-formal dance. You had to look posh but not too much and he was nervous his outfit didn't fit the quota.
It was Friday night and he was leaving in twenty minutes to meet Vossler at 'Dilly Dallies', not wanting the boy to come to his home. It was a little embarrassing considering Vossler was a pretty rich guy and he…wasn't. Anyway, it was easier to meet him somewhere he knew and not have to direct him.
He picked up his wallet from his dresser, checking that he had everything. He always seemed to forget something. He picked up his phone, smiling when he saw he had a message. He and Vossler had been texting for the past two days, and he had found that he had enjoyed talking to him. Vossler was really down to earth and friendly, even if he could be a bit serious, and Cloud was glad to be getting to know him.
He was also happy to have someone to talk to who wasn't constantly inquiring as to why he and Zack weren't speaking at the moment.
Yes, since their fight Wednesday, Zack and Cloud had stayed away from each other completely. It was the loneliest Cloud had felt in a long time but he didn't feel like speaking to the raven haired boy yet. Zack had hurt him. Badly. He had basically confirmed Clouds worst fear that the incident with Seifer was his fault. Cloud had known it was already but hearing it from Zack was just…painful. Literally painful. He had left school early that day because he was so upset. He didn't understand; as far as he knew Zack and Vossler were friendly enough so there was no reason for the boy to react the way he did.
He was still going to the dance though. He didn't want to let anyone down.
Cloud grabbed his jacket and exited his room.
"Mom, I'm heading out." He shouted absentmindedly. He waited for a conformation and when he didn't get one he called again. "Mom?" No answer.
Feeling a lump form in his throat, he walked down the hall and into his mother's room. He knocked on her closed door, "Mom?" After receiving no answer he slowly grasped the handle, feeling sick.
"This place is great Yuf!" Zack said to the small girl. She just beamed back.
"Damn right it is, Fair. Hnnnnn, I'm just extraordinarily talented."
Tifa rolled her eyes at the girl before turning to Zack. She ran her hand along his arm and gave him a smile.
"You okay hun?" She asked softly, noticing his attention was directed towards the rest of the room. He shook his head and smiled at her.
"Course I am." He leaned in and gave her a kiss. Tifa laughed and shrugged him away playfully. He had been very full-on this week and even though she was enjoying it, it was a little strange; as though he were trying to distract himself. The thought tore her insides.
"Hey, you want a drink?" She nodded her head and Zack made for the punch bowel while she turned to talk with Yuffie and the other girls.
Zack reached into his pocket and fingered the flask there. It was a school function so obviously there was no alcohol. He had a remedy for that- like fuck he wasn't getting drunk tonight. He shook his head and took the scowl off his face. He was going to have fun. His girlfriend was a stunner- especially in the long silk number she was wearing that night, he was young, healthy, handsome and with friends. Everything else could just go away for now.
He picked up the ladle and was pouring one of the drinks when he spotted Vossler across the room. Smirking, he decided to say hello to his classmate.
Zack made his way through the crowd of people, smiling the whole way.
Oh, you are a jerk.
"Vossler!" He said, with perhaps too much enthusiasm. Said brunette turned at the mention of his name and raised a brow.
"Zack." He said, turning and rubbing his hands together. "What's up?"
Zack shook his head, still smiling. His jawbone was starting to hurt.
"Oh nothing really, just said I'd say hi to my best buddies date." He looked around. "And where is the little chocobo-head?"
"Oh," the smile fell from Vossler's face, "you didn't her?" He looked at Zack strangely. Zack felt his heart skip a beat at the words.
"What? Something's wrong with Cloud?" He asked calmly, but with a hint of urgency. Vossler leaned closer to him and talked lowly.
"He called me earlier, his mother had to be rushed to hospital this just a few hours ago and he went with her. I offered to go with him but I think that made him uncomfortable. He told me to come here and explain his absence. Didn't want to ruin my night I suppose." Vossler explained, his stoic features taking on a look of sorrow.
Zack felt sick. Like guilt was visibly manifesting itself in his stomach and planning to escape through his throat. Why didn't he know this? Why didn't Cloud call him? He told Vossler? This was all wrong. Why was he just thinking of himself? Cloud was alone and terrified and…Gaia. He had been such a dick.
"Zack?" Vossler questioned the dazed boy, shaking his shoulder. He looked at him for a moment before running a hand over his face.
"Eh sorry bot that. Thanks for telling me man." He said sincerely, patting the other boy on the arm.
"Well I should go tell Yuffie about this but are you…?" Vossler asked, letting his sentence go unfinished. Zack nodded his head before making his way back to Tifa who was now at the punch bowl.
"Hey." She said when she saw him. "Where were you?"
"With Vossler." Zack breathed, "Tif," he sighed, "I have to leave."
"What? Why?" She questioned in astonishment. Zack grimaced but continued.
"It's Cloud." He stated and noticed how her face strangely twisted. "His mom got taken into hospital again and he's alone and I just think I should go see him." He said. She closed her mouth and looked away. Zack could see that she was trying to hold in her anger.
"You should go to him then." She said, her voice edging on shrill.
"You sure?" He asked. She closed her eyes and nodded. He didn't really think she was sure but at that time the words were all he needed.
"Okay Tif, I'm so sorry but you know everyone else here so I think you can manage without my sparkling presence for a while, right?" She just nodded again and gave a small smile. Zack kissed her cheek and headed for the door.
"You need to go to him." She said quietly, watching his silhouette getting smaller.
The beeping of the heart monitor was contradictory. It was comforting to hear that the heart of your loved one was still beating but it was such a horrible sound. Beep, beep, beep. Like a timer counting down life. It could stop any minute.
It would stop eventually.
Cloud ran his thumb over his mother's bony hand. Trying to avoid looking at her corpse-like sleeping face. He felt a lump rise in his throat. Trying to hold in the tears in his eyes, he bent down and kissed her hand before standing up and walking out of the hospital room.
He needed to get out of there.
Walking down the corridor, Cloud felt himself almost become inebriating on the smell of disinfectant. He hated that smell. That's what Hell would smell like. The teen tried to cheer himself up by looking at the pictures on the wall. All painted by previous patients. He knew those pictures inside out by now.
He entered the main guest lobby and took a seat on one of the benches by the wall. The place was vacant now; just the pitter-patter of nurse's footsteps could be heard in the distance.
Bringing his hands up towards his knees, he exhaled shakily. He was in shock. When he had entered that bedroom and saw his mother's prone form, hanging halfway off the bed, he was sure she was dead. His world just went dark for a minute and he couldn't breathe. He gathered himself together enough to check her pulse and could have sworn Shiva herself had come to his aid when he had found one. He wasted no time in calling for an ambulance and his mother was brought to hospital where she was quickly stabilised.
The Geostigma in her system had polluted some nerves in her brain, causing her to lose consciousness and weakened her breathing. She may have died if Cloud hadn't gotten there on time.
He felt terrible.
There he was, worrying about a stupid fucking dance when his mom was suffering like that. How could he be so selfish? He had more important things in his life, he just couldn't act like other kids his age and he needed to accept that.
He didn't care if he was ever happy again and would gladly trade his happiness for his moms health. No questions asked.
Sniffing, he wiped at his face with his shirt, burying it in his hands.
"Cloud?" The blond youth jumped when he heard a voice. Looking up with wide glossy eyes, he was surprised to see Zack standing there. Humble, with his arms hanging loosely by his side. Cloud didn't say anything, just swallowed and continued to look at him.
"Hey." Zack said, walking over to him. Cloud gave a small smile.
"Hey," he replied softly. His voice was blocked with phlegm and he had to clear it before he spoke again." What are you doing here?"
Zack sighed and sat down beside him on the bench, not touching him. "Vossler told me. Is she…"
"She's fine." Cloud said, and then he chuckled dryly, "just a scare, the doctor said." Zack made an 'ah' sound, throwing his head back.
"Oh well then what's the problem then? If it was 'just a scare'." He mocked the doctor's voice and Cloud snorted in agreement.
Every time his mother got very ill the doctors would fix her up and express happily to Cloud that it was 'just a scare', like it was a good thing. It soon annoyed the blond and he confided this to Zack. It had been a dark joke between them since then.
"It makes my day actually." Cloud said sardonically. Zack made a huh sound and then there was silence.
After a few minutes, Zack moved closer to the blond and nudged him.
"Sorry feather-head." He said sincerely. "I've been a bit of an ass these last few days. Well a big one actually but that's not really the point. Just… think I was man pms-ing or something." He let his shoulders fall.
"It's okay Zack. You were right anyway." Cloud sighed, leaning his chin on his knees. Zack furrowed his brows.
"Yeah," Cloud confirmed, he could feel his throat getting tighter "I cause trouble. I'm selfish. I caused what happened to Seifer and now this…" He broke his words off, leaning forward and taking a long breath, rubbing his fingers across his forehead.
"Oh, hey," Zack whispered, grabbing the boy's shoulders and pulling him back, "Cloud. If there was one person in this whole city who could honestly say they weren't selfish it would be you. Seriously." Cloud just let out a sarcastic snort. "Oh don't do that Cloudy. I didn't mean what I said that day. Definitely not like that anyway. And… even if you wanted to have fun sometimes. It's not a crime… if it was the rest of us would be off seriously fucked." But Cloud only stayed silent, shaking his head. Zack pulled him closer and placed a hand on his head. Cloud let him.
"I was scared." Cloud mumbled, wrapping his arms around himself and letting his head fall back. "It was horrible. She really looked dead this time… that's what she's going to look like when..." Zack silenced him before he could finish.
"No point thinking that now, okay. There bad thoughts." He whispered back, running a hand through the distraught boy's hair. "And don't think I'm not mad at you for not calling. You have to call me blondie, even if we're fighting. You can't be alone when things like this happen, okay?" Cloud nodded, chuckling a bit.
"Alright then. Anything else you wanna tell me?" Zack muttered softly.
The laptop screen illuminated his pale features, making his teeth shine eerily as he opened his mouth and smiled.
Sephiroth couldn't hide the mirth in his usually emotionless eyes as he scanned the screen in front of him. This was perfect, just as he had planned it.
In front of him was an email he had received earlier, three simple words that held so much promise.
'Who are you?'
Let the games begin.