xantissa: (Default)
[personal profile] xantissa
Bleeding Skies: Want
Pairing: Zack, Cloud
Rating: PG
Summary: Cloud, Zack, pre Nibleheim. Zack talking about Sephiroth, PG
Disclaimer: Not mine
Word count: 1200
Full archive of my stories is here on LJ and here IJ


“You know” Zack started, oddly thoughtful that night. The beer bottle had long ago turned warm in his hand, but still Zack kept staring out the darkened window, sitting on Cloud’s windowsill. He was too quiet for Cloud, too contained. It made Cloud feel fidgety with worry, lost and useless.

If it was something work related that bothered Zack, Cloud didn’t have the clearance to hear about it. If it was personal, Cloud didn’t feel he had enough experience to give any kind of advice. There was only three year difference between them, but Cloud often felt that there was a huge chasm that separated him and Zack.

The black haired SOLDIER kept staring absently out the window, seemingly content with just being in Cloud’s company.

“I used to think Sephiroth was really cold.” Zack said suddenly, shattering Cloud’s thoughts, making them scatter like panicked sheep.

It was shocking, to hear something like this from Zack, the man who always protected the General, who claimed the man was his best friend, who admitted to Cloud some weeks before that he and the General were actually lovers!

“And he is, to a certain degree. He is also horribly misunderstood. People fear him and it warps their perspective of him.” Zack never looked at Cloud while speaking, more likely just thinking aloud.

“But the thing with him is... I think... that he rarely, if ever, truly wants anything. He was raised to think he was just a tool, a thing, and the concept of wanting something for himself is foreign to him.” The dark-haired soldier sighed, taking a swing of the warm beer. “People fear him now, but if they only knew...”

Cloud waited for Zack to elaborate, to say something more about the man Cloud not so secretly adored. Sephiroth was his hero, the unattainable ideal that Cloud may strive to reach, but wouldn’t ever even come close to.

“In Wutai… people, hell even Shinra, doesn’t really know what happened. When Seph was sent there it wasn’t anything more to him than another post, another order. He’d had thousands of them already so why would one more matter? He’d never even saw Wutai before, didn’t know it’s people. He didn’t care. And sending him there didn’t really change anything. The troops were confused by a teenage boy they had barely even heard of that was supposed to lead them.” Zack smiled suddenly. “But you see, Wutai is humid. Humid and wet, very different from Midgar. While Seph was perfectly able to withstand such weather, it didn’t mean he had to like it though. If there is one thing our General truly dislikes, it’s rain. Nothing much happened for months, the Wutai warriors were taking advantage of being on their home turf, while our troops’ morale just plummeted.” Zack fell silent again, obviously remembering something.

Cloud perched closer to Zack. He always wanted to hear more about that particular war, but early in their friendship, Zack made it known that he didn’t like that particular subject.

When the silence stretched out and Zack was obviously still lost in memories, Cloud couldn’t hold back.

“So? What changed? Something happened?”

Zack played with the bottle in his hands, dark hair falling over his eyes, hiding his expression except for the oddly twisted smile on his lips. Something both sweet and bitter.

“Rainy season happened.” Answered Zack, that odd smile still on his face. “You should have seen the look on his face when he learned that the deluge that has been plaguing the camps for a week already would last for the next six months.” Zack rubbed his forehead with one glowed hand, muscles in his bare arms flexing with the movement. “He said he wasn’t going to stay in that place for longer than absolutely necessary.”

Even that twisted smile was lost now. Zack’s face was blank, eyes still hidden by the spikes, and his voice was perfectly even when he spoke.

“After the first week, Wutai counted causalities in thousands. Seemingly within days Sephiroth crushed their supply lines, severely weakened their attack force, and ground their morale into the ground. Every tactical trick known to man was executed with terrifying perfection. He took no prisoners, had all the leaders executed and left for the enemy to find. He had their temples razed to the ground, their priestesses killed and their families decimated. He made sure that the warriors we were facing on the battlefield had nowhere to go back to and he damn well made them realize that. It took two months, barely six weeks really, for Wutai to fall. Not because Shinra wanted their land. Not because Sephiroth had something against those people. Simply because he wanted to get out of that damp climate.” Zack chuckled, but it wasn’t a happy sound. It was choked and painful and full of something Cloud wouldn’t understand for many years to come.

“He was magnificent Cloud.” Zack whispered, his face almost completely hidden in his arms, one hand twined into his black spikes, the other still holding onto the beer bottle. He looked vulnerable somehow, even if he was twice as heavy as Cloud. “So perfect, so damn powerful... it was like watching a god of war in action. There was never a battle too great, enemy too good for him to defeat. And the way he planned his tactics... it was as if humans were some kind of lower species, like the rest of humanity had such a simple grasp on reality it was nothing but an annoyance for him. I was terrified of him then. Of the fucking ease with which he slaughtered a whole damn nation... but he was also the most enthralling, the most damn beautiful thing I have ever seen. Nineteen and he conquered not only Wutai but his own damn army in mere weeks. By the time Wutai surrendered, the same soldiers who sneered at the thought of a teenager as a General, were now ready to jump into the fire if he ordered it. Soldiers fear him yes, but they also worship him.”

There was guilt in Zack’s voice, in his body language, in the way he would not look up. Cloud felt helpless, stupid even in that moment. He wanted to help, to ease the discomfort that so obviously plagued his friend, but simply didn’t know how to.

“What I’m trying to say is... usually Sephiroth doesn’t care, doesn’t want anything. But when he does... there’s nothing and no one that could stop him.”

It would take Cloud years to understand just what Zack was trying to say to him that night. When the understanding came to him finally, he would be pinned naked under the man he loathed and admired, he would know intimately just why Zack looked so torn at that moment.

The End.

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