Living Without Worry
Title: Living Without Worry (Brightest Blue Eyes Arc 3)
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: Cloud bemoans someone's choice in dish soap, Pretty waxes dramatic with both Twenty and Seventeen. Vincent has to watch his mouth.
"This feels almost normal," Cloud noted as he climbed over the fence of the chocobo pen and landed just beside Sephiroth.
"I know," Sephiroth replied. "Quiet, but normal."
"I tried to call Vincent again earlier, but all I got was a 'tower-busy-error-something' message," Cloud commented. He glanced back at the stable. "Night chores are done. I had just checked on Qui, who has an egg..."
"Hence sneaking out the barn door?" Sephiroth inquired.
"Qui was an S-Rank in her day. Even if the chick isn't a racer, it'll be a good sale," Cloud said. "Though I know... Don't count my chocobos before they've hatched."
"At least you have a distraction."
"I'll call again in the morning."
They had fallen into step while crossing the lawn back to the house, bodies close but not connected. Cloud glanced up at the waxing moon for a moment before speaking again.
"I don't suppose you..."
"No," Sephiroth said firmly. "Not without a bit more information."
Cloud jumped the porch steps and grabbed at the screen door, holding it open. The night wasn't cold, but cool enough that once they were both inside he closed the inner door as well.
"No one did dishes today."
"Matsuko was going to if she had time, but I think Hikari came and picked her up early," Cloud said. "I guess I can start on them. They aren't bad..."
"It's quiet without the Turks."
"Whoever said we had to have some sort of commotion for it to be normal?" Cloud shuffled most of the dishes out of the sink before kneeling to look for the dish soap in the cabinet beneath. "Put dish soap on the list. We're nearly out."
"I thought being in each others lives caused a commotion to begin with," Sephiroth said. "And in the last few years we've had quite a few adventures, even if they've been close to home."
"Point. Who bought the flowery stuff anyway?" Cloud pointed at the soap. "I'm going to smell like roses."
"Freesia," Sephiroth corrected. "It isn't a bad scent, though I guess it's a little strong."
"If you like it so much..."
"You volunteered," Sephiroth interrupted. "And I haven't been through today's mail properly. I'll bring it out here to keep you company."
"There aren't that many dishes."
"There isn't that much mail."
Cloud shook his head as he watched Sephiroth vanish down the hallway, silver hair unbound and brushing against the backs of his knees as he walked.
Almost without thinking, Cloud reached back to pull at where his own hair had gotten long and had to be bound back when working.
"Freesia," he mumbled before returning to the dishes.
"Feeling okay today?" Twenty asked as he jumped up to crouch on the end of Pretty's hospital bed. The thing shuddered for a moment, causing Pretty to grab at the sides. "Don't worry - these things are durable."
"Apparently," Pretty whispered. "Ah... I'm sorry about..."
"No need. I mean, you're sick after all," Twenty replied. "Vincent seemed worried about you, though. You must be his girlfriend."
"Sixteen was just as worried though. He tried to come see you last night but Doc Perrin wouldn't let him," Twenty continued. "I kinda snuck in myself, but..."
Pretty couldn't begin to think of someone who clattered around so noisily as doing any sort of sneaking.
"I guess I pushed too hard yesterday," Pretty announced. "I didn't mean to make anyone worry."
"You'll be fine," Twenty commented as he settled down to sit cross-legged where he'd been crouching. "Doc Ysole said that everyone could visit you tomorrow, though, if you were up to it."
"Vincent said something about you wanting to meet all of us... Us Numbers, I mean. Because I guess you have some understanding of what we are... And why..." Twenty trailed off, looking lost for words.
"Numbers..." Pretty liked that.
"Sixteen thinks of us as nothing but empty things, almost without value," Twenty said. "But... we're something. Even if we've all been made from the same whole... Sixteen has been so quiet since he met you."
Right. Pretty frowned. Because she had told him that the real Sephiroth was still alive and living in peace. Without worry. Happy.
"When I'm better, we're all going to get out of here," Pretty said. "When I can fight again, because I think we'll have to..."
"What?" Twenty's eyes were wide. "Where did...?"
"I can promise you somewhere safe," Pretty replied.
"Not... I don't... Even if you could take us there, Twentyseven might not be able to make the trip," Twenty said. "He is sick. Sicker than you. He..."
The door swung open, revealing a stern looking Doctor Lothaire.
"No visitors," he announced, glaring at Twenty.
"Aw, c'mon Doc," Twenty pleaded. "I'm not taking up much space."
"Let her rest today," Dr. Lothaire reiterated. "No visitors. Not even Vincent or Reeve, who both wanted to see her."
"Fine..." Twenty slid off the bed and started slinking towards the door. "Tomorrow, then!"
"Tomorrow..." Pretty replied, hoping that their conversation hadn't been overheard.
Before Cloud realized that he was actually awake and not still dreaming, bright green eyes were watching him intently from just inches away.
"Good dream?" Sephiroth asked as he reached down to stroke the erection that Cloud hadn't even realized he had.
Moaning, Cloud closed his eyes. Always Sephiroth. Always. Just like when he'd been younger, he still dreamed about something he had anyway.
"Better have been about me."
"It was... ah, it is. I am still dreaming, right?" Cloud managed.
"Of course," Sephiroth replied. "Though I seem to have lost my place in the script."
"No... I did..." Cloud shifted, crawling onto Sephiroth and straddling him, pushing away the blankets as they kissed. "...was doing something like this."
"What was I doing?"
"Moaning. Softly... I think... You... Want..."
Cloud nipped at Sephiroth's collarbone as hands slid over his buttocks and settled low, searching. He tried to stay quiet, but the dream had already left him near-desperate. Thrusting one of his own hands to search along the top of the mattress, he managed to snag the lubricant without much trouble and shift it along to Sephiroth.
"Needy," Sephiroth commented before arching his own body a bit to let Cloud know that the sentiment was shared.
"Don't you dream...?"
"Not often," Sephiroth replied. "I don't need to."
Cloud hissed as a finger pressed into him, the angle a bit awkward as he thrust downward against Sephiroth's stomach, his arousal sliding against muscle. "Ah..."
"You can come," Sephiroth said before adding a second finger and seeking out just the spot that would make Cloud do just that.
Cloud grabbed at Sephiroth, kissing him fiercely as those fingers dared him to fall into release. He was so close. He felt almost too hot, trying to hold back when his body didn't want anything more than what it thought natural. Sephiroth sucked at his tongue, catching him at the same moment that the hand not already fucking him slid between their bodies to trace the length of his arousal.
He came, wondering why his body was so forceful with release. Raw need tore at him, leaving him grasping at Sephiroth and wondering what he could even begin to give with his own body that would compare to how he felt.
"I am..." Cloud mumbled. "I think. Breathing."
"Right," Sephiroth replied, stroking Cloud's back. Cloud could just imagine a smile on his lover's face.
"In the morning?"
"Now," Cloud decided as he slowly drew himself up before shuffling downward. "If you don't dream, I can dream for you."
Frowning when Sephiroth chuckled, Cloud didn't think his statement was that funny. Still, neither of them was much of a romantic.
He took the head of Sephiroth's erection in his mouth, licking at what had to be some of his own seed smeared from Sephiroth's stomach. Knowing that Sephiroth could see him quite well despite the dark, Cloud kept trying for a decent show, teasing and sucking before finally settling into a rhythm between his hands and mouth that had worked for the last decade and a half.
This was better than his dream, anyway, Cloud thought a moment later as he cleaned the last bits of semen from Sephiroth's penis and his own lips, letting himself be drawn up into a warm embrace a moment after.
And Sephiroth was chuckling again...
"Your hair..." he whispered... "Freesia?"
"Gardener, Anne," Pretty mumbled, pulling another folder from her box. There were only a couple of folders left in it and already she was sure that her identity wasn't amongst them. But, with little else to do, she kept digging anyway, reading each file in full and wondering what exactly had happened that so many women had vanished.
"Angel," she said a moment later. "But... not you..."
She wasn't Anne Gardener, either. Anne had beautiful, short blonde hair and deep green eyes, one of only a few color photos that Pretty had found while looking. She must have been a favorite, Pretty assumed.
Suddenly the thought of finding her own file became less appealing. In the last few hours she'd found some almost humorous reports of bad behavior but she could now well imagine her own file looking like that.
Sighing, Pretty tossed Anne onto the pile that was forming on the floor. Dr. Ysole had given her a new IV mixture and forced a bit more sickening Mako into her body. However she didn't feel much better - if anything, she just felt useless, as though she was stuck in the pattern of fake recovery and impending relapse.
Reaching to hit the 'Nurse' button, Pretty could only guess that both Cloud and Angel had to be quite worried. She hadn't written yet. She'd been so distracted.
But... She also didn't have any idea how to get a message to Mideel - she couldn't think of anyone who could get a message out of the building that she also trusted.
And Vincent had said that her return to Mideel was something to be discussed later.
"Augh!" Pretty flopped back onto the bed and stared at the ceiling. "I want to... I want... I want to be... I don't know!"
"I want a cheeseburger," a voice said. "But the cafeteria is closed for the evening."
"How did you...?"
"You weren't paying much attention and the doors here aren't particularly noisy," Sixteen said from just inside the door. "Twenty already told me that he got in trouble for sneaking to visit, so I thought I'd try to outdo him and not get caught."
"Tomorrow, if I'm better, I can meet everyone," Pretty said. "I met Twentyfour and Seventeen yesterday, too. So... four."
"There are nine of us," Sixteen said. "But... You said that... According to Dr. Ysole, every one of us has been accounted for, including documentation on unnumbered experiments and sundry. The original paperwork doesn't exist, but she has a memory like a trap-cage."
"And?" Pretty was fairly sure that Sixteen had just hit upon the conclusion that she'd been trying to sell him on a few nights previous.
"Maybe you do know the real thing," Sixteen replied. "Twenty attempted to re-enact his fight against you and I can only assume that you could see through his moves because they were familiar."
"You all could- You all could come live with us." Pretty wondered why she wanted to start crying. After only a few days in the facility, she already felt frustrated and trapped. Vincent had said that this project had been running for years. She couldn't imagine....
"No," Sixteen said. "Not all of us. Not easily. Twentyseven-"
"Is sick. I know."
"The lockdown the other night - that was him." Sixteen hadn't settled onto the chair yet, lingering by one of the arms and almost looking nervous. "Twentytwo wouldn't leave him here even for freedom.
"Oh..." Pretty sighed. She was no match for the sort of illness that manifested both mentally and physically -- even if she had managed to calm Sephiroth when his mind ached, she didn't think she could do it again.
"It's a nice dream, though. I've read about Mideel - hot springs shrouded by thick forests, bountiful plains..." Sixteen finally decided to do something more than warily eye the chair, though he didn't look quite comfortable sitting. Instead he stayed anxious, as though he knew any sound outside would require him to dive into hiding.
Pretty nodded. Sixteen to talk to every day and Twenty to spar with... But what Vincent had said mixed with the looks Reeve gave her made her unsure of just if she would ever be returning.
"I hope I can see it again, too."
"What?" Sixteen was on his feet.
"I don't know if they'll let me go back," Pretty admitted. "Dr. Lothaire keeps asking about my memory, and how well I remember things from the past few years..."
"Don't jump to conclusions," Sixteen commented before sitting again, still looking fairly uncomfortable. "He's a doctor and you did lose... everything once before after Mako exposure."
"I know how to call Mideel," Pretty said after a moment of loud silence. "There aren't any phones around here, though - not ones that can call out of the building."
"Talk to Twentyfour," Sixteen said softly. "He likes cables and wires. I'm sure he can find you a phone to call home."
"Yeah," Sixteen said. "And if you call... if you do talk to him... Do me one favor?"
Pretty nodded, even though she already knew.
"Tell him that if he wants us, we'll go to him."
"Nothing else will matter," Sixteen told her. "We'll go. Nothing will stop us."
"Okay," Pretty agreed. "But Angel doesn't like talking on the phone, so I'll have to pass the message along."
Sixteen smiled before reaching to take a file out of the box. He flipped it open and shook his head. "No, you aren't Annabel Christopher."
For a dark, almost desolate bar, the atmosphere was perfect and the interior exquisite. It was the sort of place that had survived, somehow, and hung onto that ambiance even though the two men seated at the darkest table in the furthest corner cared little for ambiance or atmosphere or even the drinks that had been laid out for them.
"Reno will be here soon," Reeve said, checking his watch. "I'm curious if he had a chance to see Cloud. His phone had too much static to be sure of most of what he was trying to say."
"That or he'd been happily acquainting himself with Miss Rae," Vincent said, a slight smile forming on his face. "If you're ever in Mideel..."
Reeve smirked before reaching to where his current drink was gaining a thin layer of sweat.
"You still haven't told me exactly why you're so worried about that girl meeting the patients." Reeve traced a line down his glass before taking a drink from it. "Perrin is sure that she has no memories from before her life in Mideel."
"If she describes even one of them to Cloud," Vincent began, "I am not sure how Cloud would react."
"Plenty of men have silver hair," Reeve noted, gesturing up to where his own was starting to streak. "I... I can't justify keeping her here. Not in good conscience."
"I think that she should continue sparring with Twenty when she can. And eating pancakes. And whatever else she wants to do with her life," Reeve said firmly.
Vincent finally took a drink, only to be pushed over as Reno slid into the booth. A second later, he was on the floor, red eyes focused on him.
"Give me a break," Reno grumbled. "I am never doing that flight again in a jumper plane. No way. Especially not for a false alarm."
"I apologize for that. I hope the vacation more than makes up for the trouble," Reeve said. "Make sure Tseng and myself get copies of all bills you incurred, including any bar tabs."
"Yes, Sir," Reno said with a smirk. "Wonderful bar down there. Personable bartender."
Vincent shook his head. "Did you see Cloud?"
"Getting ready for some chocobo race," Reno replied. "Too busy to even have a drink, but if he's happy, I can't fault him. Gonna have to go back sometime though and stay with him."
"That may not be a good idea," Vincent said before flicking his eyes over to Reeve. "Chocobos can be skittish around loud people."
A good save. Yes.
Not really listening as Reno went on to describe Elena's eating habits and Rude's snoring, Vincent concentrated on his drink. It was neither hard enough nor large enough to take care of the overwhelming feeling of dread welling up within him, separate from his quiet demons but equal in the minds of all of them. He almost asked for their opinions but hesitated.
After all, he seemed to be the only one with a problem.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!