Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 7 > Unrequited Desires

Chapter 5 Alone in Santa Cruz

by previously_recorded 0 Reviews

Cloud gets taken by Sephiroth when he looks for him in the mountains. Leads to a relationship, but the past can never truly be forgotten. dark themes sc zc

Category: Final Fantasy 7 - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama - Characters: Cloud Strife, Reno, Sephiroth, Zack - Warnings: [!!] [V] [X] - Published: 2005/09/02 - Updated: 2005/09/02 - 7501 words

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Unrequited Desires

"Reno! Reno wait up!" Zack watched as the unruly red head paused in his movements, and slowly but surely turned around to face the spiky haired SOLDIER. At the annoyed look on Reno's face, Zack couldn't help but race a small eyebrow. Really what had he done to him lately? Like just the other day he had asked him to cover for Cloud because he wanted to take him with him to the show Loveless, and he had never received a deeper glare than he had than. Though if he reasoned with himself he would realize that this wasn't the only time he had looked at him in distaste. He was pretty sure that Reno hated him, despite all of the assurance from Cloud that he liked him. Truthfully he didn't buy it.

Reno would play nice around Cloud, but every time they were alone you couldn't pay the fiery red head to be civil towards him. Zack had mentioned a numerous amount of times to Cloud that he was jealous, but to that the blond would break into large fits of laughter and not be able to talk for like ten minutes. Well whatever it was about him that Reno had a problem with it seemed that today he wasn't even going to try to hide it.

"I'm going to be late for class...what do you want Zack?" Really he might have come to friendlier terms with the prick because Cloud insisted on it, but that didn't mean that he could talk to him like that. After all he was still his superior. Reno's lip was curled in utter disgust and Zack had half a mind to slap him around for a bit, but then again he was Cloud's best friend and the last time he had punched him the blond hadn't talked to him for a week.

Shrugging any attempt of hostility that he might be feeling off, and got back to his main objective. "I have everything arranged for Cloud's surprise party, and well I was kinda wandering if you could entertain him while I set everything up." Reno's eyes narrowed even further.

"Sure whatever...I'll do interference." He mock saluted before rolling his eyes, and pivoting his heel about ready to spin around. It was times like this that Zack really wanted to haul off and punch him. But could he do that...no. He was Cloud's best friend. It didn't matter that he was Cloud's lover and that they had been together for almost a year...no he still had to play nice to Reno. Life wasn't fair sometimes.

Zack bit the inside of his cheek to stop the dark thoughts of jealousy that bubbled in his brain at the thought of this subject. Reno could openly say whatever he wanted to Cloud, and the blond would just laugh it off as if it were just a joke. Zack had learned to except that, he really had...it's just. It was just whenever he said the slightest thing that could be considered an insult to Reno, Cloud would shun him for the next month.

Alright so he was quite aware that he had known Reno for a lot longer, and that really the red head was his only friend before Zack. But dammit Zack was his best friend now!...or at least he hoped he was. He knew everything there was to know about Cloud, more than you could ever know from being friends...even if you were as close as the two seemed to be.

Again it all came back to that. Why were the two so close? He would assume that they had been a couple, except he knew Reno's reputation, and as such he knew someone so undeniably innocent as Cloud had never been with him. Plus as far as he knew all the people that the red head had been with had so far been girls.

Except if that were the case than why did Zack often catch Reno give Cloud what could only be described as lustful stares. He had also pointed this looks out to Cloud, and he had been promptly told that he was being utterly ridiculous. Oh and then that little discussion had gotten Cloud to talk to Reno about it, and the red head had glared all the harder. Plus he felt like it was his civic duty to touch Cloud in any way he found possible just to piss him off.

Zack continued to stare disdainfully towards the red head, and then a thought suddenly popped into his mind. "Oh and Reno." The red head slightly turned his face towards him in mild interest. Zack gave him his best if-you-don't-listen-to-this-I'll-murder-you glare. "Don't get him drunk." A red eyebrow raised at the comment, but he said nothing. With a dismissing wave he once again began walking towards whatever class he was attending.

That was another thing that pissed him off, the fact that every time Cloud went out with Reno he would come back shit faced and then he would have to take care of him when he got sick. He wouldn't mind it if it was like a monthly thing, but it was like three times a week. A fucking week! Just because the stupid wannabe Turk was a fucking alcoholic didn't mean that he had to drag Cloud down with him. Zack shook his head, trying his best to clear his thoughts. He had to set up for the party. It wasn't everyday you turn 16 after all.

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"Would you stop pacing around. Stop acting like a child and just sit down and wait for him." Zack did his best to glare at his silver haired friend. But really when he was right he was right. He had been anxiously pacing around the General's apartment for the last 20 minutes. The 20 minutes late that Reno was with bringing Cloud!

After some heavy negotiating, Sephiroth had agreed to let them use the his apartment. Now Sephiroth and Zack sat in a decorated up to the ass apartment, with a slowly melting ice cream cake, a pile of presents, tacky birthday hats, and get this...no Cloud. He knew he should never have trusted him with Reno. He never really wanted to trust him with Reno, but this was supposed to be a surprise...and seeing as how they go out every Wednesday, breaking the routine would seem suspicious.

"I'm going to ring that little pricks neck when he gets here." Zack was harshly clenching his teeth, and he could feel them grind against each other as he fought to get control of his temper. He was surprised when he heard a small barely concealed snicker come from Sephiroth. The spiky haired SOLDIER raised an eyebrow and did his best to hold back a glare. "Is there something that amuses you?"

Sephiroth slowly shook his head, before his shoulders once again shook with barely suppressed laughter. "Oh nothing...it's just...it's just it's so obvious." He seemed to sober up from his laughter and stared seriously at Zack. "It's completely obvious how jealous you are of that Turk. Why do you feel so threatened by him?"

Oh no he did not want to have this conversation with Sephiroth of all people. Plus he was definitely not obvious with his jealousy. Did he just say jealousy? What he meant was that he wasn't jealous at all...not even a little bit, and he would prove it. "I am so not jealous." Good job Zack try to convince yourself, if he was going to be honest though he would have to say he didn't sound that convincing. "I'm just a might bit pissed that he's late is all...the cake's gonna melt." And the academy award goes to... He really could be a convincing liar when he wanted to, or at least he thought he was. Though the way Sephiroth was staring at him he had an idea that they'd be taking that award right back.

"Liar." Damn.

"I'm not lying! The cake's melting, and really who wants to eat a melted ice cream cake?" Sephiroth slowly shook his head in disgust at the sad performance. Zack huffed before angrily crossing his arms across his chest. If he had to vent his frustrations to someone Sephiroth really wasn't that bad of a choice...well...here goes.

"It's just that he's always with him!" He whined. "And when he is he's always laughing and smiling and being happy!" Oh. My. God. Did he sound pathetic or what? Yet for some strange reason that fact didn't stop his mouth from moving.

"Yes, I can see where that would be a bad thing." Sephiroth sarcastically replied. Zack didn't even want to think about how weird it was to here the General of SOLDIER being sarcastic, it just wasn't on his list of priorities at the moment.

"And do you see the way that Reno looks at him? He's like so undressing him with his eyes and all that!" Zack had by this point jumped up from his chair and was now animately waving his arms in the air. "I mean the first time I met Cloud that little bastard had slipped him a date rape pill for fucks sake! A date rape pill Seph!" Zack angrily huffed before falling backwards onto Sephiroth's very expensive leather couch. "How am I supposed to trust him around Cloud...he's not good for him."

"And you think that you are?" What kind of question was that? Of course he was!

"Yes, of course." What was Sephiroth getting at anyways? Of course he was good for Cloud. He made sure he ate right. He trained him in his classes, made certain that he studied, made him less shy, hell he even started to make him cut back on the booze Reno seemed bound and determined to pour down his throat. It was Reno that wasn't good for him. Zack was just what Cloud needed.

Sephiroth leaned forward on his chair so that his hands were propped up on his knees. "Did you ever take into consideration Zack that you and Cloud would never have met had it not been for Reno? Okay that was just not fare. Zack opened his mouth to protest but Sephiroth cut him off. "Or that maybe Cloud needs Reno. That maybe if Reno had never come along Cloud would just be that little boy from Nibelheim who always got picked on." Zack's mouth closed. Damn Sephiroth. Damn him all to hell for all of his cool reasoning.

"That's completely beside the point Seph and you know it!" Sephiroth looked at him boredily and didn't even bother with a reply. He left Zack to do all the talking, and talk he did. "The what ifs don't matter! All that matters is the fact that I think Cloud's really in love with Reno!" Zack clasped a hand over his mouth after his announcement.

He had never said something like that before. Hell he hadn't even thought such things. Yet now that he thought about it that was really where the dark thoughts he tried to suppress were headed. He really thought that Cloud loved Reno, he really thought that didn't he? When it all came down to it Zack wasn't concerned about Cloud's well fair, he was concerned that he was going to lose him.

"You're an idiot." Sephiroth plainly stated it, and Zack in his still mildly bewildered state could do nothing but stare. Sephiroth himself was scowling. "Are you really that thick that you can't see how much he cares for you?" Zack opened his mouth but could not get any words to come out. "Why don't you stop worrying about what could happen, and concern yourself more with the best thing that ever happened to you before the things you've been dreading really do role around thanks to your negligence."

Zack would have replied, he really would have, but at that moment that door chose to slam open. That. Little. Bastard. Reno struggled through the door, supporting a very very drunk Cloud, who just so happened to be supporting himself by having two arms encircled around Reno's neck and leaning on him for fool support.

Cloud was still giggling when he walked through the door, or rather was pulled through the door. His blue eyes glanced around and noticed all of the decorations, balloons, birthday banner, and finally rested on the half melted birthday cake. He started laughing hysterically before throwing his arms up in the air and yelling at pretty much the top of his lungs. "SURPRISE!" Zack could have killed Reno right now, he really could have.

The red head in question smirked at Zack, and after seeing the murderous look he got in return, pulled Cloud closer to him. Zack was seeing red, and really would have attacked Reno right there had Sephiroth not nudged him in the side and pointed to the birthday banner hanging on his wall supported by two clumsy pieces of scotch tape.

That's right Cloud's birthday. He couldn't start a fight now, because that would ruin Cloud's birthday...well ruin it more anyways. Zack put on his best smile, and turned to face Cloud. "Happy 16th Birthday Cloud." He would play nice, but he was so going to kill Reno when this was all over.

The blond's face split into a grin, and he released his hold on Reno and stumbled over to where Zack was. "Oh this is sooooo sweet! You're just the bestest." Bestest? Though he couldn't really be pissed at Cloud. Drunk Cloud was really cute. He had a small smile on his face and he slowly walked even closer, pushing Zack backwards as he did so. In fact Cloud pushed him so that he landed with an undignified 'umph' on the kitchen chair.

Zack couldn't help the grin that cracked across his face at Cloud's behavior, but he couldn't help his eyes from widening almost comically when Cloud made his way onto his lap so that he was straddling him. Cloud was giving him a really strange look, and Zack quickly shot a glance to Sephiroth who was giving him an amused look...Reno just looked annoyed.

His gaze traveled back to Cloud, who was still smiling. The blond leaned forward ever so slightly and placed a quick peck on the SOLDIER's nose. He looked like he was going to start laughing, but then he steadied himself and started singing to him...yes that's right singing. "Did I ever tell you that I really love you and I think about you all day?" Zack couldn't have been more surprised if Cloud would have sprouted another eye, but really it was extremely sweet. Plus Cloud had a good voice, sexy punk voice that made you panic when you heard it. "I really miss you and wish I could kiss you, but why are you so far away."

Cloud leaned forward and roughly placed his lips onto Zack's. Zack immediately melted into the small display of affection, and had only opened his mouth to deepen it further when the blond pulled away. "Since you've been gone, I thought over and over about you inside my head and where I went wrong, WHERE I WENT WRONG." Cloud bellowed and Zack couldn't help but grin like a full. It wasn't everyday after all that you heard the love of your life singing to you in such a ridiculous manner. "Everyday, I've been thinking a lot about all of the things you would say since I went away, SINCE I WENT AWAY..."

Zack couldn't help the laughter that came from his throat, and he couldn't help but have his hands come to rest on Cloud's hips, pulling the small blond closer as he finished up his masterpiece. "I guess I could call you and ask you "How are you?" But I really don't have much to say...I sit alone and I stare at the phone and I hope that you're doing okay..." The 'okay' was painstakingly drug out, and by the end of it Cloud was laughing just as hard as Zack.

He pulled Cloud into him as hard as he could and he crushed him in a bone breaking hug. "Way better than the Ataris Cloud...really there's no contest." Cloud was still grinning, and Zack couldn't take the blond's cuteness anymore. He grabbed the back of blond spikes and pulled the mouth towards him.

Despite what it had escalated to, Zack had really meant it to be an innocent kiss. Though due to Cloud's drunkness it soon escalated into more than that. Cloud wrapped his arms around Zack's neck and then simply let himself fall backwards. This of course resulted in the both of them, still lip locked, taking an unpleasant crash to the floor. Cloud still giggling, and Zack sprawled rather inappropriately on top of him.

Zack snuggled into Cloud's neck, and he felt the blond innocently grab his hand. Zack's stomach hit the floor at what came next. Cloud's small finger gently traced I love you into the palm of his hand. Really he had never felt so happy before. He softly kissed the nape of the blond's neck before quietly whispering into his ear. "I love you too."

He watched as Cloud slightly bit his lip and let his head fall backwards so that he had a good look at the apartment he was in. Zack sat up and watched as the blond's blue eyes scanned the room. Coming first to rest on Reno who was slowly shaking his head back and forth in an amused way, and then focusing on Sephiroth.

Oh yeah that. Okay so Cloud had never really been around Sephiroth. Actually they had never even met. Zack slightly grimaced at the thought of what kind of impression Cloud's performance must have had on the silver haired general, he could only guess not good. Plus once he sobered up Cloud was going to be completely mortified at having embarrassed the hell out of himself in front of his childhood hero.

"You know you have really pretty hair." Oh fuck. Zack slowly rose amber eyes to meet the aqua of Sephiroth's as he stared amusingly at Cloud after his last comment. Cloud was going to kill him.

"Thanks...I guess." You could tell that Sephiroth was trying his best to be tolerable to the small drunk blond. He was after all very anti-social, and this must be taking quite a lot out of him right now. Zack quickly made a mental note to make Sephiroth some muffins for this...or you know something like that. Wait. Did he even know how to make muffins? Zack shook the thought out of his head and went back to the potential crisis at hand.

Zack slowly got off of Cloud, and let the blond roll over into a sitting position. Really he should have just knocked him out or something. Cloud sat up with wide innocent eyes and looked towards Reno. "Don't you think he's really pretty Reno?" Oh. My. God.

He glanced towards Sephiroth and saw that his cheeks were tinted slightly pink and he looked to be trying extremely hard not to glare at Cloud for that last comment. Reno was not surprisingly laughing his ass off at his supposed 'best friend's' expense.

Between laughter the troublesome red head managed to get out. "Cloud...man I can't let you do this to yourself...that's" More laughter. "That's General Sephiroth man!" Shit.

Cloud's innocent gaze faded and his eyes got comically wide. He glanced from Reno, to Sephiroth, and then finally to Zack. The situation seemed to dawn upon him. You could actually see him sobering up. Ridiculously blue eyes filled with tears and Cloud placed a hand over his mouth in horror. He scrambled to his feet. "I think...I think I'm gonna be sick." Oh well. At least it had started out as a good birthday...sorta

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"Zack wake your stupid ass up." Bleary amber eyes slowly peaked open, and cursed himself the minute they did. Bright neon lights filled his vision and he quickly shut them again. Damn Reno probably did that on purpose. Small snickers could be heard from the old clanky truck that they had hitched from some old farmer.

"Oh I'm sorry Zack did you need you beauty sleep." Zack once again opened his eyes, but to his joy this time it didn't hurt near as bad. "Really I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this Zack, but it doesn't matter how much you sleep you're still going to be ugly." It was moments like these that he really regretted saving the smart ass red head.

He slowly made it to a sitting up position in his seat. "You know I was having a really nice dream." More snickers could be heard.

"Oh I'm sure you were, but you know Zack that this isn't your little hick town...beastality is a crime here in Midgar." Not awake enough for a proper comeback, all he could do at the time was glare...really hard.

Now Reno was like an annoying puppy, if you ignored him long enough eventually he would stop whining. "Do you remember Cloud's birthday that one year?"

"You mean the one where I gave Cloud shrooms and had him streak across the entire Shinra Headquarters when he was on guard duty?" Zack's mouth dropped open ever so slightly and he slowly shook his head back and forth. There was something seriously wrong with the red head.

"No. The other one." This caused Reno to smile as he was obviously in the memory of it all. It irked Zack to no end that while he happened to be in the memory he looked so damn proud of himself.

"Oh...yes." Reno threw himself forward and burst out laughing on the steering wheel. "He...he wouldn't come out of the barracks for two weeks after that...and the funny thing was...for once...it was all your fault!"

Zack felt the over whelming need after just reliving that night to defend himself. "It was so not my fault!" He lightly punched Reno on the shoulder, well okay not lightly but still. "You got him pissed drunk and then brought him back to my surprise party!"

"Yes. I did do that." Zack raised an eyebrow at how Reno quietly took the blame, but really he should have known that it wouldn't stop there. When did Reno's mouth ever stop moving. "But I wasn't the one who invited Sephiroth...dumbest fuckin thing you've ever done by the way." Now Zack wouldn't have been too pissed if Reno had stopped there, but like before mentioned...Reno never stopped. "Just think Zack if you would never have introduced them then Sephiroth wouldn't have developed his little infatuation, and more importantly he wouldn't be hauled up somewhere having his wicked way..."

Reno never got any further. Zack's fist made damn well sure of that. Without saying a word the spiky haired ex-SOLDIER got out of the car and began walking towards the immensially tall building. He heard the door next to him open, and then what sounded remarkably like spitting.

"You didn't have to hit me you know." Narrowed amber eyes glanced over towards Reno, but Zack didn't say a thing. The thing that was really upsetting him was that what if he was right? What if it was his fault that Cloud was being put through that now? "Anyways how exactly are you planning on getting into headquarters? I mean it's not as if they're just going to let you walk through the door."

"I did it before." Zack really couldn't believe that Reno was being so god damn cheeky still. Then again the stupid little bastard never did know what was good for him.

"Yeah but that was before the president was assassinated. I mean there's bound to be loads more security than there was before, and really I don't think they'll let just anyone in...especially not some ex-SOLDIER that everyone believes to dead." Zack heard something jangling, before he reluctantly turned to face Reno again. What he saw really surprised him.

There in the red head's hands were a pair a nicely polished silver handcuffs. "Why Reno I didn't know that you were so kinky."

"Ew gross. No, but I say we pull a Chewbacca and sneak you into HQ in these." Zack wanted to call him a dumbass, but really he couldn't find a fault in the plan. Reno was a Turk, and as such he was allowed into these kind of places. In fact if he were to walk in with a prisoner no one would bat and eyelash.

Zack held out his wrists to the Turk, completely resigned to his fate. "Cuff me darlin." The red head's nose curled upwards in disgust.

"Please. Stop. I have a weak stomach you know." He put the handcuffs up to Zack's wrists, and just to piss him off Zack wiggled his eyebrows. "Zack stop being immature." Yeah he was one to talk. What. A. Hypocrite. "Let's just get this over and done with."

He couldn't help himself, really he couldn't. In the most seductive voice he had Zack slowly uttered. "Very well. Let's get it over and done with." Zack actually laughed when Reno looked like he could really hurl. Why hadn't he thought of this earlier? This was way more fun than constantly insulting or glaring at him. Plus by the looks of it bugged the hell out of Reno, which was always a plus.

"I hate you. You know that right?" Zack winced a little when the cuffs were placed on extra tight.

"Oh believe me Reno, the feeling's mutual." With that Reno pushed him forward and they once again headed into Shinra Headquarters.

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Cloud stared dumbfoundly towards Sephiroth. "Seph what do you mean see my friends?" He tried not to seem to hopeful, or anxious for that matter. For some reason he thought he might have failed on that subject. He was never really good at masking his emotions, especially not when he was around Sephiroth. The guy could like see through anyone's facade, let alone someone who wore their heart on their sleeve.

Blazing aqua eyes looked up then, and Cloud immediately regretted asking that question. "What do you think I mean Cloud? It's not like I'm holding Reno captive or anything...which of course would leave only one option." As soon as the words left Sephiroth's lips he seemed pissed with himself.

"Reno?" Cloud scooted on the bed so that he was barely even on it anymore. "As in annoying as hell Turk? As in guy that tries to kill me any chance he gets? Why the hell would you compare him to my friends?" Flashes of a dream he had previously had popped into his mind, but he did his best to stamp that out. His head was just fucked and now found it funny to play games on him. "You know what...never mind."

A finally sculpted eyebrow rose at Cloud's obvious mood swing. "Do you want to see them or not?" Cloud's eyes almost bugged out of his eyes at the question.

"What? Of course I want to see them!" It looked to Cloud that Sephiroth was definitely disappointed in the answer. Cloud did his best to make his giddiness go away, but he could tell that it was still bubbling underneath surface. "I mean...I would really like that Seph."

Sephiroth seemed anything but happy at that answer. Though he stood up then and held his hand out to Cloud. "Lets go then. They're in the basement." Gulping, Cloud tentavily took the outstretched hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. He was going to see them, after so long. Cloud paused in his thoughts. What the hell was he going to say to them?

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"Don't be fooled." Aeris let herself slip further into the planet's calling as they whispered their warnings. "He's not who he was...he'll betray you." It was her mother that was talking. Usually though it was Zack. She loved talking to the energetic SOLDIER, and yet he hadn't talked to her for quite awhile now. The brunette of course had her theories about why that could possibly be, but she would let them be nothing more than that until she saw Zack with her own two eyes, and really by the way things were going she didn't know if that was even a possibility anymore. The voices were deafening, they were reverberating off the inside of her head and she couldn't take it anymore.

In an attempt to distract herself from the onslaught of the planet's voices, she tried to strike up a conversation with her cellmates. "How long has it been now?" Really Aeris didn't even know who she was addressing. She was just trying to stop the oncoming headache that was going to come as a result of the treacherous voices. Though that wasn't exactly right, they were after all just trying to help her.

"Days...Weeks...It doesn't matter." Oh that was great. Out of all the people to get her out of her depressed mood she just had to get Vincent. "He's never going to let us go."

"Well 'scuse us if we haven' resigned ourselves to this hell hole jus' yet." That would be Barret. Apparently here attempt at lightening the mood had roused some other members of their little hell. It had been like this for awhile. The first couple of weeks everyone would try to think of an escape plan, or just try some friendly banter. Though now people went days at a time without even muttering a single word. Aeris hated to admit it, but it seemed that everyone was starting to give up hope.

The only time any of them even managed to talk was when one of Sephiroth's clones, she thought it was the one with the 2 on it's hand. Aeris paused right there. If they had killed that clone when they had found him in the sewer tunnel then this wouldn't be happening right now. Granted if they did end up killing him then it was a chance that there would be no one around to bring them their food.

"I agree with Barret. We can't give up hope! Cloud will come to save us...he has to come to save us." Aeris peered as far as she could out of her cell so that she could just barely see Yuffie's crest fallen expression. It was times like these that she seriously debated the ninja girl's true feelings towards Cloud. After all it was sort of not spoken, but everyone else in their small jail already considered Cloud dead. After all what other reason would Sephiroth have to seperate them?

She wanted to say something to Yuffie, nut Nanaki beat her to the punch. "Yuffie I know you don't want to believe this, and really no one has spoken it out loud, but we have to consider the possibility that Cloud is already dead." Aeris's heart clenched at that. She wanted to believe that Cloud was alive, she really did. She hadn't felt his body return to the planet, but what if it just hadn't. What if he was just floating around somewhere and the planet had rejected him.

"You're wrong!" Aeris once again glanced towards Yuffie and saw that her eyes had filled with tears. Cid who was right across from her placed a comforting hand on her arm. It wasn't much but it seemed to calm her down considerably. "He's not dead...he's not..."

"Well I'll have to agree with the girl on one thing." Aeris's heart jumped up into her throat and she spun around to face the door at the sound of the silky voice. Sephiroth hadn't been here since the first time, apparently Vincent had upset him far to much and he didn't want a repeat performance. Now he stood there in all his glory, smirking down at them. But behind him... Was that? No it couldn't be...Oh. My. God. "Cloud is definitely not dead."

Aeris's eyes widened dramatically at the appearance of the ex-SOLDIER. His clothes were in complete tatters and what was worse he seemed to be bleeding out of several gashes in his body. Had he been tortured? What had he endured while they were locked down here? Cloud's cheeks had sunk in considerably and his muscles had all but depleted. Did he not get fed? From the teary vacant expression on his normally stoke face Aeris could only assume the worst.

"Spike! Man I never thought I'd be so happy to see your stupid face." Barret was smiling, and now that she looked around it seemed that everyone seemed to be relieved to see the blond haired warrior. Even Vincent was looking a bit more cheerful than normal. Cloud though...Cloud looked scared to death.

The blond opened his mouth to speak, but then winced when Sephiroth's blade was held to his throat. Aeris could see a trail of blood slide down Cloud's chin where the blade had grazed too close. From the expression on Sephiroth's face it was apparent that he was none too happy with this situation.

"Such intelligent friends you have Cloud..." The blade was released from the blond's throat, and Aeris noticed with some confusion how Cloud continued to lean onto Sephiroth. She decided that he was just simply too weak by this point to walk by himself. There couldn't possibly be another explanation after all. "Go ahead Cloud tell them our deal."

Cloud turned his fearful blue eyes towards Sephiroth, and got a small nod in return. Slowly Cloud turned back to face him and to Aeris's surprise came to rest on her. "Seph...er Sephiroth." He quickly cleared his throat and Aeris couldn't help but think that it sounded a little fake. "He has agreed to let all of you go."

Excited whispering could be heard all around, but Aeris didn't even blink. She had been staring at Cloud this entire time and thought she sensed that he had changed. Whispers from the planet tried to brake there way through her head again, but she ignored them without listening to what they said. She couldn't place her finger on what was wrong with him though.

"All of us Cloudy?" Cloud's eyes shot towards Yuffie and he seemed to swallow a knot in his throat as he stared at her guiltily. "That means you too right?" At this Cloud's eyes widened almost fearfully, and he leaned even further into Sephiroth's embrace. Wait! Embrace? Aeris scratched that picture from her mind immediately. What she meant was grasp, he leaned further into his grasp.

Aeris saw the exact moment when things started to get serious. Cloud all but fell back into Sephiroth's arms and his eyes glazed over and went far away. The bottom dropped out of her stomach, and the sad part was that if she asked him if he was alright she doubted that he would even hear her. He seemed completely out of it.

It seemed that Sephiroth also seemed to notice the blond's out of body state, because he took it upon himself to take up the slack of answering questions. "No. All of you will not be let go." Aeris heard what sounded like a whimper come from Nanaki's direction, and it looked to her that Yuffie was on the verge of fainting. "Cloud has agreed to sacrifice his life in exchange for the lives of your pathetic group."

Aeris's eyes widened and she suddenly felt very frantic. "No! No you can't do that!" She banged her palm as hard as she could against the bars. "I'd rather rot in this cell forever than have Cloud die because of me!" Cloud's eyes widened and they turned to her, before tearing up and turning away. It kinda looked like he whispered something to Sephiroth, because after leaning forward Sephiroth than nodded.

"Yes, well I would discuss that with the rest of your party." Aeris watched in horror as Cloud completely sagged in Sephiroth's arms. Had he passed out? Apparently he had, because in the next moment Sephiroth had hoisted him into his arms bridal style. "No need to be hasty about...you have until morning." With a small wave he left leaving them alone with probably the biggest decision they had ever had to make in their lives.

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Cloud had never been more relieved in his entire life than he was when he got out of that room. The looks on their faces. The way they all were looking at his torn up body as if they had somehow caused it. The torn up part being that Sephiroth thought it would be fun to surprise him with a quick play session with the masamune before they went downstairs to the basement.

He still couldn't believe he actually had the guts to go in their and face them after his obvious betrayal. How could he have been so selfish? How could he not have been thinking of them the entire time? More importantly how could he have fallen in love with someone who had destroyed anything and everything he had ever cared about.

"Are you alright puppy?" They were back in the bedroom now. Sephiroth had shakily laid Cloud back on the bed and had now put a hand on his shoulder blade. The blond rolled away from the hand in disgust, and curled his own arms across his chest.

"No alright! I'm not fucking okay!" Hot tears fell from his eyes and rolled down the bridge of his nose. He didn't even bother try to wipe them off. Cloud felt the weight on the bed shift considerably, and he couldn't help but lean into the hot body that had curled up against his back. A strong arm draped across his chest and pulled him into a comforting embrace.

"You know it had to be like that don't you?" Cloud didn't even bother to respond. He just did his best to curl into himself. "Would you rather I had told them the truth? At least this way they'll eventually be able to forget you."

At those words Cloud couldn't help but let the dark feelings that had been welling up inside of him brake out, though he still never turned around. "What like I'll eventually be able to forget Tifa? Or my mother? Or anybody else you've murdered?" He felt the body behind him stiffen, but at the moment he didn't give a damn about how this might be affecting Sephiroth.

"That's not fair." Blue eyes snapped open, and he pulled out of the arms that had gathered around him. Cloud spun around so that he was facing Sephiroth, and couldn't help the angry expression that was on his face.

"How is that not fair?" Cloud's words were pure venom, but he couldn't stop himself. "You murdered them Sephiroth. You captured everyone else. Hell you even have me held hostage." Cloud tried to ignore the narrowed eyes Sephiroth was now sporting. "So tell me how me be a little pissed isn't fair?"

It looked to him that Sephiroth was trying his hardest to keep his temper in check. Instead of backlashing, he reached for the sheet and begin to wipe off the nearly dried blood from the wound on Cloud's neck. The blond for his part batted the hand away. "Don't touch me."

This was apparently not the right thing to say. Sephiroth's eyes blazed and the next thing he knew the older man was on top of him. He had pinned him in a rather painful position on the bed and strung his hands up so that they were pinned above his head. "What did you say to me?"

Cloud's eyes widened fearfully at the murderous way Sephiroth was looking at him. Those weren't his normal eyes, those eyes were a darker green. Those eyes were they eyes he had seen walking through the fire all those years ago at Nibelheim.Cloud gasped when Sephiroth's free hand came to rest in his hair, stroking it gently before traveling to his slim neck.

"You wouldn't mind puppy if I went ahead and went through with my part of the agreement with your friends." Cloud let out a gurgled cry as the hand tightened painfully around his throat. He sucked in an intake of breath, only to have it burn even more because it got stuck in his blocked air passage. Cloud could hear his windpipe cracking under the pressure and he couldn't get Sephiroth to stop.

Cloud could see dark spots dance across his vision, and he did his best to try to pull away from the hand as he was starting to lose consciousness from lack of air. "Seph...please...n..no..." Sephiroth didn't stop, in fact he squeezed harder. With what Cloud could see his eyes were blazing green and his mouth was curled into a sadistic smile.

Tears fell from his eyes, and Cloud really thought he was going to die. "Please...don't...I...I...lo...I..love you!" The hand stopped squeezing, in fact it retreated all together. Sephiroth jumped from the bed and held his hand to himself as if he had been burned. Cloud shakily sat up and rubbed at his sore throat. He watched as Sephiroth eyed the hand that had just been around his neck as if it was some alien life form.

Sephiroth turned fearful eyes to Cloud. "Oh God...Cloud I didn't...I never...Oh God..." The last part was pretty much a sob. Cloud's legs felt like jelly as he slowly walked over to where Sephiroth was standing. Not thinking he could talk at the moment even if he wanted to, he simply placed a hand on Sephiroth's shoulder.

The silver haired man jerked away from him like he was poison. "No don't come near me." He actually sounded frantic and Cloud was getting worried, well worrieder. I mean it's not as if you can't be a little worried after you just almost get strangled to death by someone you love.

Cloud opened his mouth to try to think of something to say, but Sephiroth never gave him a chance. He scrambled to the other side of the room and snatched up his leather coat. Shucking it on quickly, he then rushed towards the door. Once there though, he paused and Cloud could see that his shoulders were shaking.

"I'm leaving." Cloud's eyes widened. He rushed forward but a raised hand stopped him. Sephiroth had yet to turn around. "When I get back I expect you and the rest of AVALANCHE to be gone." At those words Cloud's heart hit ground zero.

"What?" Cloud croaked out. "You can't be serious!" Sephiroth didn't turn around, he didn't need to. Cloud knew that he was dead serious. The blond could feel tears pooling at his eyes.

In a more resigned voice he asked his next question. "And if I don't leave." Cloud didn't stop the sobbing voice that he had now sunk too. It felt like someone was pouring battery acid down his throat and punching him in his windpipe at the same time every time he spoke, but he didn't give a damn. Whatever pain his throat might be causing him it was nothing compared to the pain in his heart.

Sephiroth turned his face over his shoulder to look at Cloud. With an intake of breath he saw that there were tears falling down the silver haired man's face. Sephiroth was crying. Sephiroth was crying because of him. Their eyes connected briefly and Cloud could see the regret and sadness in Sephiroth's. Cloud didn't blame him for what happened, why did he have to blame himself. "If you're not gone Cloud than I'll kill the rest of your friends." Sephiroth didn't even stop for a response. He walked out and shut the door, and as soon as he did Cloud collapsed onto the floor. How could things get any worse?

fdfdfdfdfdfdfdfdfdfdf

There that was SO hard to write. But I loved the beginning part with Cloud's birthday. Truthfully the flashbacks are my favorite things to write. But I absolutely loved it where Cloud started singing to Zack. It wasn't planned at all but I was listening to alone in santa cruz at the time and couldn't help myself

Thank you SO much for the reviews I've received so far. And you know I would love love love to get more of them, so if you would be so kind as to hit that little button on the bottom of the page and drop me a line it would be most appreciated
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