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Living Without Worry

Title: Living Without Worry (Brightest Blue Eyes Arc 3)
Part: 7/12
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Sephiroth/Cloud, multiple OCs, Full Cast
Rating: MA overall
Summary: Reeve gets to see Pretty in action; Sephiroth and Cloud also see some action.
Notes: -

After hanging up the office phone, Cloud glanced out the side window to see Reno wandering around the yard, pausing at intervals with a phone of his own attached to his ear.

Even though he knew that Reno wasn't likely to get a good signal unless he wandered back behind the chocobo stable, Cloud didn't bother going out to tell him. Even with Sephiroth quickly catching up the paperwork and putting a slightly confused Matsuko to work on the worst piles of laundry, there were still actual domestic tasks that needed to be taken care of.

Like dinner.

Take out - nothing fancy, but enough for Yuki and Matsuko too, and hopefully leftovers for Hikari who hadn't been feeling well and decided not to even come linger on the porch swing.

That was assuming the Turks didn't eat quite so much like starving dogs for this meal. But Cloud could well imagine them being out of money after so many days on the island.

And since Cloud had yet to see any of the three of them with a phone, Cloud could only assume that indeed, they were going home. But even a fast, small ShinRa plane wouldn't arrive until morning. The landing field crew would appreciate the fuel cell sale, certainly, but... Cloud sighed, realizing he needed to buy one as well and that was why he hadn't been taking the motorcycle anywhere for the last few weeks.

The motorcycle would have been too fast and easy, anyway. Getting one of his feisty, younger birds ready for a trip to town actually would take the time needed to prepare the food.

As he headed out to the barn, Reno waved him over to the edge of cottages.

"You have no signal out here," Reno complained, holding out his phone to prove that he was a few bars short of a conversation. "But I got through to Reeve and we're leaving."

"Just leave an address for the bill," Cloud said firmly, half paying attention to Reno and half mentally searching for the gear needed for the chocobo he had in mind. "I'm going to pick up dinner. For everyone."

"Don't suppose you need a hand."

"You're too friendly," Cloud surmised. "You want something."

"Even when Reeve didn't sound like he was talking through a vat of mako, I think there was something he wasn't asking," Reno replied. "I think he wanted to ask about you. But... Assuming your name isn't specifically on the bill as payable-to, I'm fairly sure that you saw us and kept hidden for the whole investigation, right?"

"Vincent..." Cloud began, only to be cut off.

"Not going to see it," Reno promised. "He doesn't actually spend much time around Reeve's office, so I wouldn't worry too much. He can be fairly easy to shut down, as far as questions go."

"Why?" Cloud asked. "Why would you do this?"

"Other than the fact that you could break my neck like a twig?" Reno asked. "I think we've been through this - work is only work and you seem to have found your own chunk of paradise. I'm not a total bastard - I ain't gonna ruin all this for you."

Cloud chuckled as they reached the barn. "I think I trust you."

"That's pushing it."

"Wutainese takeout, by the way. Not authentic, either. But... No one really cares," Cloud said as he grabbed a saddle and headed towards the stall of a young green male that had potential but didn't seem willing to work with it. "I'll be back in a bit."

Reno just stayed in the doorway and laughed.

But in the long run, Cloud knew he had the upper-hand. Even if he had to return to a life lived by the sword, he could at least do his fair share in keeping his paradise safe.

Dr. Ysole was already in the wood-floored gymnasium, perched on a low row of aged bleachers that looked out over the fading paint that must have designated multiple courts. Pretty wondered why a hospital had a place like this rotting beneath it - maybe it had been an employee perk at some point? Basketball at lunch?.

She had a bag beside her, filled, Pretty assumed, with any medical supplies necessary in case either she or her partner got injured.

Just as Pretty spotted a wheeled rack with bamboo practice swords, she heard a voice behind her. As she turned, a young, dark-haired man came running into the room.

"I'm so sorry I'm late but see, there was..."

"You aren't late," Reeve said, cutting the man off. "We just arrived. I believe we all kept the fair doctor waiting, if anything."

"You didn't," Dr. Ysole replied quickly. "I've only been here for about two or three minutes."

"I'm Pretty," Pretty said, awkwardly bowing in greeting since the dark-haired man wasn't in range for a handshake.

"Pretty?" the man repeated, questioning. "Oh, that's different. Well, I guess that makes it a little easier to be named Twenty."

"Twenty," Pretty confirmed, smiling. "That's a good name. I guess we should get started, though."

"Yeah," Twenty said, reaching to push back dark hair that seemed to be at an awkward, nearly-chin length.

Nearly bumping into each other as they circled the practice swords, Pretty managed to peek up at Twenty's eyes. They were a shocking blue, not quite as bright as Cloud's, and they had the same generally unnerving cat's-eye quality that actually made Pretty more comfortable.

"Sorry," Twenty mumbled, letting Pretty choose first. "I..."

"I'm out of practice," Pretty admitted as she picked up a sword. "But don't go too easy on me. I was really strong."

"I know," Twenty said, choosing his own.


"Your eyes," he replied. "Not just mako once, but mako many times..."

Pretty winced as she wrapped her sore hands around the hilt, stepping a few feet away and swinging it once across and once down. It would do, if she could hang on to it.

"Come at me," Twenty said, walking a few yards across the gym. "I want to see..."

"Right," Pretty said as she swung the sword one last time, making sure she understood its weight and how much power she could put behind it.

She stepped forward and paused. Five seconds. She could do this. Ten.

Their swords let out an almost painfully loud crack as they met, Twenty blocking her in a perfectly textbook move, pushing her back and swinging a split second later. Pretty blocked, nearly losing her footing but managing to push Twenty away before regaining her bearings and kicking out, nearly catching behind his knee.

Twenty jumped back, sword in front of him, trying to hold her at a distance. But with the practice swords, neither had any advantage with reach. He was bigger, but Pretty knew she could be quicker.

Left. Right. She fell into motion that she knew so well that she didn't need to think about it, pushing Twenty back without realizing what she was doing. She could dodge and block anything he tried, almost as though she knew what...

Nearly getting wood cracked against her right shoulder, Pretty realized that she did know every move Twenty was going to make. She knew how to block them. Twenty was still using Sephiroth's style and reactions, something not fitted for a practice sword at the very least. While her Sephiroth had continued to grow and adapt as a swordsman, Twenty was obviously still learning from his own memories.

She jumped and spun, lashing out with her wooden weapon as though she had the real thing in hand, trying to mimic moves that weren't hers, moves she hadn't quite turned into something she could easily do, things that seemed so completely off the wall that they'd be laughable in any other situation.

Twenty was sweating and she still felt as though she was warming up. Cloud would have knocked her down a few times already. Sephiroth would have tried to persuade her to try offensive magic. She wanted her materia. She wanted her own weapon.

She wanted to get better.

Against the wall, Twenty made one last, strong attempt at a block just as Pretty swung.

Dr. Ysole raised her hands to her ears - the crack from their swords meeting qualifyingly ear-piercing.

Reeve's jaw dropped.

Pretty dropped her sword, clutching at her left hand and wanting to cry as it revolted on her in sharp pain.

And Twenty simply held the shattered remnants of his own sword, staring wide-eyed as though he'd never been so horrified in his life.

"S...Sorry," Pretty managed, not quite able to look up and see Twenty's expression for herself. Her hands throbbed. She wasn't sure how tightly she'd been gripping her sword, but obviously she'd overdone after all.

But other than that pain, she felt good. She felt really good.

Applause distracted her. Reeve was clapping, a smile on his face as he stood and began to cross the wooden floor, his dress shoes clacking with each step.

"You..." Twenty said softly. He knelt to pick up Pretty's sword to look at it.

Pretty winced, but this time not from the pain radiating from her left hand. No, yet again she'd gone and told too much, even if hadn't been her mouth that she'd needed to worry about.

"I see that Cloud has passed on his skill," Reeve said, reaching to take Pretty's aching hand. "Did you get hurt?"

"From the IV," Pretty said. "When they switch hands, it'll hurt for a few days. I was holding the sword too tight."

"Cloud..." Twenty repeated. "I know that name."

"This is Cloud's adopted sister," Reeve explained. "That's why she's... really good."

Really good? Pretty honestly hadn't thought of herself as anything more than second rate compared to Sephiroth and Cloud. But she also hadn't done any fighting against anyone else to be able to gauge herself.

"And you said you were out of practice," Twenty stated. "That wasn't..."

"I should have been able to knock you down in the beginning," Pretty said, playing the fight back over in her mind. "You nearly got me a couple of times because I wasn't paying enough attention to angles. Um..."

"Is your hand okay?" Dr. Ysole had appeared, bag in hand.

"Just sore," Pretty said. "No bruises. I didn't get hit."

"How do you feel?" the doctor asked, reaching to feel Pretty's forehead. "Not too hot."

"A little tired," Pretty admitted, actually stopping to assess something other than her hand. "Hungry."

"I'd like to see you fight with an actual weapon," Reeve interjected. "Though I think I'd worry about both of you. Twenty, I don't suppose any of the others could match her skill..."

"Twentytwo is faster," Twenty said, pausing to think. "Twentyfour has a more impromptu style."

"Then I can do this again?" Pretty asked, knowing that as long as her hand ached, she was done for the day, resigned to the file box and likely a physical exam.

"Well, after a..." Dr. Ysole began, only to be interrupted by Reeve.

"Yes!" he exclaimed. "Ysole, I think Pretty still needs quite a bit of recovery time, but part of that obviously needs to be this sort of activity.

Dr. Ysole frowned. Pretty smiled. And a brief flicker of worry passed across Twenty's face but he looked away so no one could see.

With the main lights of the stable turned off so the chocobos could rest as well, Cloud was sitting cross-legged on a mound of straw he'd basically converted to a bed by throwing a pair of old blankets over it. Not that there were many nights that he stayed out with the birds - sometimes if he was expecting an egg to hatch or sometimes when tensions in the house ran too high... An electric lantern buzzed softly from where it rested on a crate a few feet away, lighting the small area well enough that Cloud could continue working on the entry forms for the Gold Saucer that he had discarded the day previous and not gotten back to.

He did enjoy racing because he did have good birds. After the entry fees, each race he won paid back more than enough to take care of his travel expenses. And each breeder or racer who came visiting afterward to buy from his stock - that took care of feed and supplies for the rest of the year.

"Coming in?"

Cloud wasn't particularly surprised that Sephiroth had managed to silently wander through the barn. That was no new trick.

"I will," Cloud replied, pausing with his pen against paper. "I still have five more pages and I don't think I'll get to them tonight anyway."

"Are you going to let Cid ride in a race again this year?" Sephiroth asked as he crouched down to peer over the top of Cloud's paperwork.

"Do I have a choice?" Cloud asked back. Every year Cid promised to knock a few gil off the travel fare if he could ride in a race. At least Cid usually won. That made it all the easier.

"More than likely not," Sephiroth admitted. "I wish I could go watch..."

Cloud frowned. That was about the only thing he didn't like about heading off for a couple weeks to race - there was absolutely no way that Sephiroth could travel too. Though so many years later, Cloud also couldn't help but wonder if anyone really would recognize a sun-baked man wearing very dark sunglasses.

"Maybe in a couple more years," Cloud suggested before finally tapping the papers against the notebook he'd been using as a hard surface to get them even. Tucking them inside, he set the whole thing against the crate holding the lantern and let himself be pinned in place by green cat's eyes that conveyed quite a few ideas at once.

"I thought you wanted me to come in," Cloud finally said, trying to verbally bat at the thick tension forming in the air. Sephiroth would pounce. He just didn't know when.

"After," Sephiroth said softly, inviting himself into the space beside Cloud, pushing up Cloud's shirt with one hand as he caught Cloud's mouth with his.

Not about to push Sephiroth away - not when the day was going so well and just the slight exhale of Sephiroth's breath against his neck shot arousal through his body - Cloud reached to find the buttons of Sephiroth's shirt, trying to undo them one-handed.

Almost effortlessly, Sephiroth shifted their positions, putting Cloud on top of his body to be able to work the pesky buttons free. Gasping, Cloud couldn't help wanting to thrust against Sephiroth as he shifted downward a bit and their covered arousals brushed together.

Tracing the contours of Sephiroth’s neck with his tongue, Cloud pushed Sephiroth's shirt open, revealing tanned skin that looked even darker in the dim lantern light. Taking a nipple between his teeth, Cloud flicked at it with his tongue, almost wanting Sephiroth to be loud enough to wake the birds.

He could feel Sephiroth's erection pushing at his stomach as he slid his body downward, teasing Sephiroth's other nipple with the same care.

They'd made it - the Turks would be gone in the morning and their secret would be safe. Wondering if so much of his distance for the last few days had been partly fear, Cloud could understand why this was his automatic response. This was what they came back to - connection and drowning in each other's bodies.

His hands worked quickly at Sephiroth's pants, fairly sure button and zipper were instinctual these days, licking at the tip of Sephiroth's arousal before even getting the material away to expose the rest. Cloud couldn't help himself - he wanted.

That morning, Sephiroth had wanted. Now it was his turn. Cloud knew that Sephiroth wouldn't have come out to seduce him without lube so he dug at Sephiroth's pockets, finding a nearly empty tube after a moment of listening to Sephiroth try not to chuckle at the entire scene.

"Stay quiet or you'll wake the chocobos," Cloud murmured, slipping away to take off his own clothing and giving a second for Sephiroth to slide out his already half-off attire.

"I'm not the one who needs to stay quiet," Sephiroth replied, holding out a hand to beckon Cloud back to him.

If Sephiroth ever, for a second, thought that even now he could be resisted, Cloud knew otherwise. He could feel the pull deep within him.

Mouths locked in a deep kiss a moment later, their hands tangled together as they spread lubricant over one another's arousals, hands stroking the same steady rhythm, together. Cloud broke the kiss to moan as one of Sephiroth's hands slid upward to press a pair of warm fingers into his body.

"Ah... Seph..." he managed, his voice breaking before he could even realize what he was saying. "A...Angel..."

Just fingers weren't enough, teasing him within towards an end he imagined differently. Pulling his body upward, he reached down to help guide Sephiroth into him, grasping Sephiroth's erection and moving to where those fingers had been.

He didn't bother with slow - slow wouldn't have worked. Cloud needed and wanted, letting his body take in Sephiroth's length without pause, trying to be quiet but failing in the end. For a minute he didn't move, trying to breathe even as strong fingers started toying with the tip of his own arousal, sliding around the head before wrapping lower and waiting.

When he moved, that hand moved, stroking him just as he could well imagine Sephiroth felt, deep in his own tight heat. Not able to keep from racing to release, he let his body rise and fall over Sephiroth's, unable to keep his eyes from meeting Sephiroth's and locking.

Had he ever really doubted? Looking into Sephiroth's eyes, he thought he could see everything. Each motion of their bodies was almost secondary until the tension tightening within him pushed past even the moment itself and Cloud let his body fall against Sephiroth's, his semen hot against his own stomach.

Not sure which name he was crying as he let his body be moved again, Cloud just clung to Sephiroth, settling against the straw bed as Sephiroth thrust deeply into his body, almost forcing his own climax to be able to settle beside Cloud. For a moment they clung to each other, bodies still shuddering at intervals.

"What are you thinking?" Cloud asked a few minutes later, knowing moments of silence likely were resulting in some strange plan or other. He hoped Sephiroth wasn't thinking about the sagging shutters on Cottage #3. They'd already had that discussion earlier.

"I don't know," Sephiroth replied, sounding fairly honest in his confession. "I just have this feeling that something isn't quite right."

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