Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 7

Sol Rojo

by Firefly99 0 reviews

[Gennish][Barret-centric] Cloud had done things on impulse before, but had never attempted the assassination of a political leader without consent from the others before.

Category: Final Fantasy 7 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Drama - Characters: Barret Wallace, Cloud Strife - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2006-02-17 - Updated: 2006-02-17 - 1952 words - Complete

Barret had no idea that it was at all possible to rain in Costa del Sol. He'd always thought it was a popular holiday resort because there was no rain there. But either they'd come during monsoon season or it was some sort of freak rainstorm or whatever - one moment he'd been pacing furiously up and down the beach wondering where the hell Cloud'd got to, when the next there'd been a distant rumble of thunder and rain had started beating down like little nails or something else sharp, hard and capable of beating large holes in the sand. He'd dived for cover into the first building he'd come across, cursing the fact that he might get his gunarm wet, and ended up in a hotel.

It was a very upmarket hotel, not like that inn they'd stayed at that one time. The floor was polished wood and the walls were panelled - a woman in too short a dress was playing some boring, tinkly tune on a piano, her notes like sugar, her expression like thunder. The air hung heavy with the smoke of a hundred stale cigarettes, and it made him gag slightly as he entered.

He booted his way along the hall, trying not to look too curious. The first thought that popped into his head was how much of a waste this all was - where he'd come from people were a lot happier than they were in this transient resort, and he strongly suspected it had a lot to do with the fact they had less money. When you have money, you waste it, throw it away on stupid pleasures, do stupid things with it. Without it, it's easier to feel charitable, easier to care about what you're doing. It only served to underline his constant thought that the whole system was fundamentally flawed, he decided, scanning the faces of the people milling around in the lobby for anything that vaguely resembled a genuine, real happiness and failing.

As he turned his face, he was momentarily blinded by a blast of smoke. He snapped his head around to swear at the jackass who thought that everyone ought to have cancer, not just them, and thought it was a good idea to blow smoke in other people's eyes, but -

"What're you doing here, Barret?" Cloud said, more puzzled than anything, slightly lowering the cigarette from his lips. "I thought you hated touristy extravagance."

"I didn't think you smoked," Barret responded, without missing a beat. Cloud stared sullenly down at the cigarette and looked up, a little guilty.

"Yeah," he responded, weak. Normally Barret would have expected a sarcastic comeback, but this...

"What's that supposed to mean?" he challenged. Cloud shook his head.

"I'm just blendin' in with the crowd, alright? I heard...rumours. That something was going to happen here."

"Like what?"

Cloud shrugged and took a drag on the cigarette.

"Cloud, man, you're my friend. Tell me."

"Or what?" he responded, laughing, relishing in the mystery of the moment. "I won't tell you exactly what. But you'll approve."

When Cloud was in one of these moods, nothing worked. Barret knew that by now. He knew about every little thing about how he acted. He knew how he'd touch his hair when he was embarrassed, knew about how the glow in his eyes would strengthen when he was angry, knew about how he could scowl and smile, knew how skinny he was when he took that damn SOLDIER belt off.

"Whatever," Barret said, trying to ignore the fact that he sounded like a petulant teenager. "Is it about Sephiroth?"

"No. Shinra. I can't talk. People might hear."

"What sort of people?"

Cloud waved a hand around the whole lobby. The pianist had finished her tune and had broken into an embarrassingly-bad power ballad accompanied by her own vocal skills. The expensive lobby and the smoke and the music reminded him a little of a black-and-white movie.

"Listen," Cloud said, leaning in, gesturing with the cigarette, drawing a long curl of smoke in the air like a snake, "there's someone important staying here. Heideggar. He's taking a few days out from work. He's a nasty piece of work. He was the one that started that anti-Wutaian race-hate thing back during the war - even when I was on their side I thought it was utterly underhand and stupid...Well, anyway - "

" - the world'll be better off wit' him dead, is that what you're saying?"

"Yes," Cloud smiled, balancing the cigarette in his mouth. "I'm going to follow him into his room and I'm going to kill him."

"You ain't got your sword."

"I have my hands."

"Sure it's gonna work?"

"Yeah," he said. "I might not look it but I can be quiet when I want to."

They waited in the lobby, on a pair of thickly-upholstered chairs. Cloud chain-smoked his way through a whole packet of cigarettes, blending in like he'd never expected he could. Such an odd man. So different from the rest of the world.

"For a non-smoker," Barret had said, "you're not gagging on them much."

"I've been...enhanced," Cloud replied. "They don't have any effect on me. I can block it out."

Then, of course, he was different from the rest of the world - not just objectively, but genetically, physically, carved into each and every cell in his body.

The doors burst open in a mist of rain.

"That's him," Cloud said, his voice dark but at the same time warm with excitement. "I can see even under that raincoat."

They watched as one as he collected his keys, thanked the man and disappeared up the stairs.

Cloud rose to his feet and looked like he was about to follow, but stopped.

"Something wrong?" he asked, calmly.

"I'm alright."

"Be patient. I'll have this all sorted. Just wait there."

"I'm not waiting."

Cloud sighed, and rolled his eyes, drawing a comma-like trail in the air with the cigarette.


He disappeared up the stairs after the military commander, his booted feet muffled on the thick carpet, eyes intent, and Barret drew back and waited, like Marlene after a telling-off, trying to quell the urge inside him to yell after him. He felt as if something was going to go horribly wrong - he didn't believe in premonitions, but he believed in prior experience - how many of the AVALANCHErs died trying to assassinate Shinra employees? It was badly-planned and badly-executed - Cloud relied on brute force and sheer power and scare factor, too, when this would require stealth. Tifa, Vincent, Yuffie, they'd all be better at this than him - why hadn't he asked one of them to do it?

The pianist reached the end of her sheet music. The silence that reigned in the room at that time was like nothing else.

He heard a muffled scream. It was a male scream, probably-maybe-hopefully Heideggar - he charged up the stairs, running like an athlete, pounding away through the halls and corridors to wherever the noise had come from, pulling back as Cloud came striding out of the door, his expression subtly grave.

"Sorry," he said, darkly. "I got him, alright."

"Then what're you sorry about?"

"The fact it wasn't him," Cloud snapped, his eyes blazing brilliant green. "It was an imposter, a body double. He was supposed to make sure the real Heideggar went about his business unmolested, you see. They'll find him dead and raise the alarm and Heideggar will be kickin' his heels in his private chopper and...and I've compromised everything, Barret..."

"Calm down," he said, as softly as he could, taking his arm.

"It doesn't matter. They'll know. They'll know it was me."

"Then shouldn't we be getting out of here?"

Cloud gritted his teeth and nodded stolidly.

Barret took his arm and lead him downstairs and out into the rain.

They stood outside in silence for a long while, shivering in the cold. Cloud rooted around for another cigarette, but Barret shot him a glare.

"Don't need to blend in any more, Blondie. Give them a rest."

He sighed, instead.

"It should have worked. I came up with the plan and everything."

"But it didn't."

"What if it had?"

"What's the bettin' they would have picked someone even worse?" Barret said, trying to smile, swallowing down the bitter lump in his throat.

Cloud shrugged, snorted and paced along the road, his hair flat against his head, soaking wet.

"Who gave you the information, anyway?" Barret asked, trying to stay calm.

"Cait Sith, but that doesn't mean a thing. There's every possibility he was also fed false information."

"Don't worry -"

"I messed up. It was all my fault, Barret."

"If Heideggar hadn't have been so underhand you would've got him."

"Perhaps I need a body double," Cloud snorted, closing his eyes. "We could grab some random guy off the street and mess about with him until he looks like me."

"You're not selfish enough to do that," Barret responded, falling into step beside him. "Listen, we'll just get out of Costa del Sol for a while until the heat dies down."

"That's best. The others are in the inn, though. And I don't want to tear them out of bed..."

"We can afford one more night, right?"

Cloud gave a dead sort of nod.

"I think it may have been a trap," he said, sofly, dull. "The Shinra aren't stupid, they know there's a double agent there, so relay around information that Heideggar is going to be staying in some random hotel and get the AVALANCHErs interested...they probably hooked him up to a transmitter designed to go off the second his heart stopped beating. Says a lot about Heideggar that he's willin' to send some random man off to die just to cover his own arse."

"Says a lot about the Shinra that they have men willin' to go," Barret responded.

"Says a lot about me that I killed him anyway," Cloud hissed. "I was just...I was really fired up, and..."

"It's alright, Blondie," Barret said, as affectionately as he could. "If they come after us we can take them, right?"

"Yeah, knight in shining armour, gunning things down with silver bullets," Cloud snorted, punching Barret on the arm that carried the gun.

"That's vampires, isn't it?"

"I think it's werewolves. We haven't met any of either, so it doesn't matter."

"We've met Vincent. He looks like a vampire."

"Yeah, but he's not. He can go out in the sunlight. And his favourite food is Costan pasta. Made with loads of garlic, is Costan pasta."

"I always thought that some of the things he turns into -"

" - trust me, Barret, Vincent's not a werewolf."

"Yeah, but that purple thing..."

"'s a bit wolfy, I'll give you that, but not a werewolf. Either way, he's on our side - he might give you the heebie-jeebies but he scares the crap out of the Shinra as well."

"Did ya just say 'heebie-jeebies' in some kind of...seriousness?"

"Yeah. I say all sorts of weird things," Cloud replied, and he was laughing at the randomness of the conversation. It was nicer when he was laughing. Barret missed these useless little dialogues between them - where had they become so serious they hadn't been able to entertain something stupid?

"The inn reminds me of sailor suits," Barret said, smiling broadly as they trudged towards the door.

"I liked that. It suited you. Aeris said you looked cute in it."

"When this is all over..." Barret said, sighing a little, "how about we know, and you wear that dress?"

"Only if you wear the suit," Cloud replied. They pushed the door open together, nodding together, friends.

The rain continued all that night.
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