Title: Mastered Materia
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Summary: Two souls lost in different ways converge during an ice storm only to begin an odd and wonderful relationship.
Months passed, and each time Vincent traveled between the coast and Midgar, he stopped to visit Zack. And despite Zack's objections, he always brought some small gift to pay his night's room and board.
And each time, they talked a bit more. Vincent never mentioned anyone by name, but slowly Zack was convincing him that perhaps he should rethink his entire situation. Still, he didn't want to hurt Cloud. Cloud was the only one he hadn't failed yet.
Zack had started teasing Vincent, telling him that he never wanted to see Vincent again, because that would mean he'd finally broken free.
"You're duty bound to no one," Zack said as he helped Vincent pack his saddlebags.
"How do you know?"
"Because that is the old way, and the old way is gone. What would make you happy?" Zack asked, watching as Vincent checked over his chocobo's harness one last time.
"Being away from everything," Vincent replied. It was the truth. He actually had grown to admire Zack for living out on his own, far from civilization.
"You're always welcome to live out here. You could build your own room. Or house, even," Zack said, smiling as he smoothed a couple of feathers on the bird.
"Perhaps someday," Vincent said, holding his hand out for the now-customary handshake that usually brought their parting. Instead, Zack pulled him into a tight hug.
"I never want to see you again," Zack whispered before moving just enough for his lips to meet Vincent's.
Vincent fought not to push Zack away. Sure, Zack had made little comments now and then, but Vincent had stopped taking them seriously. And while he did find Zack to be good looking, he just...
It all slipped away though as Zack pressed his tongue between Vincent's lips, begging for entrance. And Vincent, who was still a bit surprised at the entire situation, parted his lips and teeth then let out a low moan as their kiss deepened.
Suddenly, Zack pulled away. "I'm sorry," he quickly said before squeezing Vincent's metal hand and running back into the shack.
So, unsure of anything, Vincent turned and mounted his chocobo. Midgar lay ahead.
On his way back out of town, Vincent stopped in the same small weapon shop he'd run into Zack in. The shopkeeper knew him by name by now and looked up from the book she was reading and waved when he walked in.
"I just got a shipment of your bullets in. And how's your friend? I haven't seen him come by this month." The woman stretched and stood, already moving to get a bag for Vincent's purchases.
"It's early for his supply run," Vincent replied, picking up two boxes of bullets and walking to the counter. "Give him a couple more days."
"Okay," the woman said as she started to ring up the sale. "He's so nice, always buying something and asking if he can take me home with him. If I wasn't a married woman..."
Vincent raised an eyebrow at that statement before pulling a handful of gil from his pocket.
"Actually," the woman continued, "I think he's trying to sweet-talk me into lowering the price on a sword he wants."
"Sword?" Zack had never mentioned it. And he couldn't imagine a weapon so expensive that it would cost more than what the one piece of materia had been sold for.
"Want to see? It's in back right now. I don't have the space to put it out," the woman explained as she bagged the boxes.
"Yes," Vincent replied, telling himself that he'd had quite a few expensive weapons over the years and it was a normal thing.
The woman disappeared behind a curtain and a moment later she re-appeared hefting a sword that was nearly the same size she was. But it was beautiful. It reminded him of something Cloud would have found on the bottom of ocean or in some remote part of the world.
Cloud. Lost in the delusions that had slowly claimed him, he was no longer recognizable as the man he'd been. And Vincent had done all he could to protect the last person dear to him.
Vincent asked the price. And while he really wasn't easy to surprise, he almost dropped the gil he still hadn't handed over.
"I'll take it," Vincent replied after a moment.
"It'll make a nice gift."
"You did understand how many zeroes followed that number?" the woman asked, setting the sword on the counter.
Silently, the shopkeeper rang the sale, shaking her head the entire time. Instead of putting the money in the till, she tucked it into her skirt.
She was still shaking her head when Vincent left the shop. She followed him to the door, flipping the 'Open' sign to 'Closed'. And then she noticed the bag of bullets on the counter and as quickly as she could, she grabbed them and ran into the street.
Luckily, Vincent was still reorganizing the packs on his bird when the shopkeeper ran up to him.
"You forgot these!" she said, catching her breath. She handed the bag over, a bit curious where Vincent was going to pack another bag. The bird was already over-burdened. "Traveling heavy?"
"Something like that," Vincent replied, taking the bag. "Have a nice evening."
By the time he made it to the shack in the woods, stars were already high in the sky. He'd gone the last couple miles on foot, leading his chocobo through the dark in hopes they both knew the way by now.
Vincent knocked twice on the door, hoping the strange incident from weeks before hadn't tainted Zack's generosity.
A minute later, the door opened slowly. "Vincent?"
"Yes. May I stay for the evening?" Vincent asked, keeping his chocobo out of sight for a moment.
"Of course. But after this, I never want to see you again," Zack said before smiling widely. "Go ahead and take your bird back to the shed. I already ate, but I can make you something."
"I brought a few vegetables as well," Vincent said, baiting Zack as best he could. "Would you come get them?"
Zack stopped halfway to the pseudo-kitchen and turned.
"I told you to stop buying me things. And vegetables are very much included. I have a garden for a reason," Zack rambled as he walked outside only to come face to face with an almost smiling Vincent, holding the sword awkwardly with both hands.
"That is not a vegetable," Zack said softly after a moment. He hadn't moved.
"They're in one of the packs, but you need to take this heavy sword I bought you first," Vincent replied calmly.
"You... Sword... But..."
"Have I mentioned this thing is heavy?" Vincent asked, holding the weapon out. He really wasn't having any trouble with its weight. He just had never been taught the proper way to hold a sword that large.
Zack finally stepped forward and took it, eyes wide and glowing as he swung it around a couple times.
"I can't believe it," he said, looking away from the blade gleaming in the light pouring through the doorway and over to Vincent, who was pulling packs from the chocobo. "What's all of that?"
"Things," Vincent replied as he picked two bags to carry in.
"Well let me help you, um, I just need to set this down." The smile couldn't be wiped from Zack's face as he set the weapon inside and effortlessly took every bag Vincent could hand him, carrying them all inside and setting them in the middle of the floor.
"I think you're developing a shopping addiction," Zack commented as he latched the door after all the bags were in and the chocobo was in the stable.
"This isn't from shopping. I... left. For good," Vincent explained as he sat down on the edge of the bed and began taking his boots off. He didn't look from his footwear until a pair of arms enveloped him from the side.
"Does it hurt?"
"Not like some things have," Vincent replied as he kicked one boot free. He was tempted to send Zack to the other side of the room, but just having someone who at least cared in some form or another... it felt good.
"Think you'll ever come back?" Zack asked as he let go of Vincent and sat on the bed next to him.
"You always say you don't want to see me," Vincent said, pulling his other boot loose.
"I didn't like to see you torturing yourself with something that was over. And had been over."
"But that's..." Vincent began, only to stop when Zack grabbed a hold of his left hand, squeezing the metal without reserve.
"Are you sure you won't rethink staying here? Or nearby. I don't want to invade your space," Zack said quickly.
"Wouldn't I be invading yours?"
"If you haven't noticed, I don't really mind," Zack explained. "And what's with the sword? I mean, how did you know?"
"The shopkeeper told me you were interested." Vincent let his cloak fall behind him, not bothering to pull his hand back from Zack's grasp.
"I'll pay you back. You can have back that All materia. Or..."
"Help me build a house. Or at least add on to this one," Vincent said calmly. He'd spent the last couple weeks making the decision. And while his first instinct was to leave both Midgar and Rocket Town for good, perhaps to settle near Wutai on a tiny island and ignore humanity forever, Zack's offer had been a close second.
Still, Zack had seemed to want a relationship, and with him just leaving one... Well, it had been over, really, long before he'd even met Zack. And there was always the very persuasive power of the kiss they'd shared.
The main question that plagued him was if he was doing the same thing Cloud had done, replacing what he'd lost with a substitute. Still, the years seemed to have mellowed Zack into a much calmer man than the one Cloud once told of. Excitable, but less anxious to take on the world and more anxious to finish the book he'd started or make sure there was enough firewood chopped.
Cloud. Cloud had always wanted to take on the world. Over and over again until he...
"You're serious?" Zack asked, letting go of Vincent and standing up. "You'd..."
"Yes, and before you ask, I have thought it through. While an island not plagued by windstorms and ice is much more inviting, I would have no one to buy vegetables for."
"You're something else, Vincent," Zack said, shaking his head.
Vincent just watched Zack and even cracked a slight smile as blue eyes again darted to the shiny new weapon leaning against the wall beside the door.
"Didn't you mention something to eat?" Vincent asked, standing as well and walking over to hang up his cloak.
Halfway through the night, another storm blew in, shaking the window and causing the flames in the fireplace to dance erratically. To pass the time, both men had sat down in the now-cleared middle of the floor to puzzle away at a board game Zack had been working on creating. It still had a few flaws, many of which Vincent was quick to point out. It was an amusing game, if not a little long. But considering they had plenty of time to pass, it was perfect.
Still, Vincent guessed Zack hadn't slept the night before based on how often Zack yawned as they played. Finally, Zack excused himself, pulling off his shirt before walking over to the bed.
"Wait. Do you want the bed?" he asked as he scratched his side absently. "Or should we just share until you get something else set up. There's enough room for us both."
A loud crash of thunder woke both men from their slumber. From the far edges of the bed, they could see each other's glowing eyes in the low light of the dying fire. Without saying anything, Zack crawled out from under the covers to stir the small flames, adding a couple of logs to hopefully last until morning.
"Stupid storm," he muttered as he poked the fire one last time before heading back towards the bed.
"It'll clear," Vincent said, sitting up and looking towards the window, inadvertently knocking the shared blankets into a jumbled pile.
It took a minute to attempt to resituate the covers between the two of them. Every time one of them would try to figure out how they'd been sleeping, someone ended up much too close to the other.
"I don't suppose you'd be willing to compromise," Zack said after realizing one of the blankets wasn't even turned the correct way.
"It's a cold, stormy night. I promise not to try anything."
Vincent thought a moment. The mixed signals between the two of them had grown almost frustrating as the evening had worn on. Maybe the key to figuring out what they both wanted was for one of them to try something. Still, they settled wordlessly beside one another, each staring at the ceiling as they waited for sleep to take them back into its oblivion.
"I'm still having a hard time believing this is all happening. I mean, I never expected..." he trailed off as though not sure how to continue.
"I believe I feel the same," Vincent said, turning so he was lying on his left side and facing Zack.
"You feel the same?" Zack asked, turning as well so they were only inches apart.
Their lips met a moment later in a slow kiss their bodies followed into even slower. Each touch was light and tentative, both exploring and still asking permission. As the kiss deepened and their tongues met, Zack pulled Vincent closer.
Vincent let Zack move him, guide him. Zack's right hand grasped Vincent's left, hanging onto the now-warm metal until after the kiss finally broke.
"You still sure about this?" Zack asked, shifting them both so he lay partially on top of Vincent. He brushed a bit of stray hair from Vincent's face as he waited for an answer.
It was definitely rushing things a bit, but what reason was there to wait?
"Yes, Zack. Yes," Vincent replied as he reached to touch Zack with both hands. He could feel the other man's partial arousal against his thigh. For a moment, he wanted to scream at Zack to stop, though all Zack was doing was working on the buttons of Vincent's shirt. Panic threatened to seize him, telling him he was betraying Cloud. But no, he was betraying Cloud by staying with him. This was freedom, and, Vincent told himself, it was to be enjoyed.
With the buttons undone, Zack pushed aside the fabric of Vincent's shirt and kissed the many scars that crisscrossed Vincent's body. Vincent had always taken it as a blessing in the past that Zack had never asked about the source of any of the old injuries, but he also made it a point to not ask about the ones Zack had.
Zack looked up from his current position, on his hands and knees near Vincent's waist and caught the red eyes watching him. Vincent had shed his belts for the night, but he still had on his usual black pants. At the time, he didn't think it would matter what he slept in, and with a limited wardrobe, he didn't want to change unnecessarily.
Vincent's eyes flickered closed as Zack reached down to unbutton Vincent's pants. In a couple swift motions, Zack had his hands pushing the material down over Vincent's slim hips as Vincent arched up to aide him.
After Zack pulled off Vincent's pants, he gently bent down enough to kiss one last scar on Vincent's ankle before rising from the bed to undress himself. He'd only been wearing a pair of sweatpants, his normal sleepwear.
Vincent opened his eyes then, when he felt Zack's weight leave the bed. The two of them stared at one another in the fire light, appraising each other's bodies carefully.
Zack stood there, fully naked and not at all modest. Over the months, the two had seen each other naked several times, but never like this.
"Hold on just a moment," Zack said suddenly before taking off towards the other side of the room.
As he dug through a pile of things on the far side of the shack, Vincent propped himself up and pulled his shirt off. It didn't really matter, but he would have felt silly leaving it on.
"Ha!" Zack announced, leaping up and almost bouncing back to the bed, hands tight around something. Vincent didn't get to see right away though as Zack pulled him into a kiss the moment he was close enough to do so. The mysterious object was set down somewhere on the bed, but it didn't matter as Vincent reached up to tangle his right hand in Zack's hair.
Neither one seemed to want to move too quickly or be too eager. Somehow their positions had been reversed as they explored one another's bodies, leaving Vincent straddling Zack's legs. It was a bit awkward, actually, since Vincent didn't feel himself to be the most creative lover. Still, after a reassuring glance up at Zack, he brought himself down to take Zack's arousal into his mouth, carefully licking the small beads of fluid from the tip and swallowing them almost hungrily. It felt a bit like a dream, really, full of freedom and opportunity. Hearing Zack moan, Vincent hoped it was a dream neither would wake from.
Zack was grabbing at the blankets on either side of him as Vincent took as much into his mouth as he could, swirling his tongue over every inch of Zack's erection.
"Vincent," Zack gasped, suddenly beckoning for Vincent to stop and crawl back up into his embrace. For a moment, Vincent didn't move, a slightly hurt look on his face as he brushed hair back from his face.
"Was that not..." Vincent began, only to get pounced on by Zack.
"That was amazing. I'm keeping you. I just want... more," Zack said with a smile. He was lying fully on top of Vincent, pressing their bodies together so even their foreheads were touching as he spoke. Vincent nodded as best he could for his position, almost knowing that this was what he needed. He needed something new or he would dwell on the past for too long.
And really, he needed it now. Zack had moved down enough to suck on Vincent's arousal while preparing him with the aloe lotion from the first-aid kit Vincent had bought months before.
Vincent hissed at the invasion, but did what he could to relax and not put his claws through the mattress as Zack slowly pressed a cool, slick finger inside of him.
"Am I hurting you?" Zack lifted his head up, looking for reassurance before proceeding.
"No, it's just... been awhile," Vincent replied quickly, not opening his eyes as Zack kissed his hip. Zack took the answering moan as permission enough to go further. By the time he'd worked a second finger in to stretch Vincent, the man beneath him was writhing in pleasure from the dual stimulation of the fingers inside him and the hot mouth again around his erection.
The resulting orgasm left Vincent shaking and feeling empty for a moment before Zack repositioned himself, guiding his own arousal to where his fingers had been moments before. And Vincent only let out a long, low moan as Zack thrust almost over-eagerly into his body.
Vincent winced as Zack's quick pace bordered on painful until Zack shifted position enough to hit inside perfectly. The resulting sensation was like nothing Vincent could remember. Any lingering thoughts and doubts were chased away by the intense pleasure that was coursing through his body. It wasn't that he'd meant to give himself over so completely. It just happened.
A moment later, Zack reached to stroke Vincent's renewed erection in a countermotion to his own thrusts, earning a rare cry from Vincent. Their eyes met again, briefly, reassuring each other for a split second before they both gave themselves back to one another's bodies.
Vincent came first, his orgasm causing him to arch up and grab for Zack's back with both hands. He pulled Zack down to him, kissing him and working his fingers through Zack's unruly hair. A moment later Zack untangled himself from Vincent's grasp, thrusting hard and fast until he too found his release, crying out Vincent's name and a string of praises.
They lay there afterwards, not letting go of one another.
"Hey," Zack said after a couple minutes had passed, "I just realized something."
Vincent didn't say anything, he just looked questioningly at Zack.
"You were using... both hands."
"Ah. I..." Vincent looked away then. The blissful joy was fading quickly as he realized how much he was keeping from Zack. He knew almost too much.
"What is it?"
"I haven't been entirely truthful," Vincent replied. He was hesitant to look into Zack's eyes, but did anyway, surprised not to find any anger or confusion.
"I have a few things to explain too, but we have years to worry about all of that."
"What?" Surely Zack wasn't going to be so accepting. Not of him, not of...
"So get some sleep, we have to start building in the morning," Zack said, yawning and pulling Vincent even closer than he already was.
"I could get used to this. In time," Vincent replied a minute later. But the only response he received was a light snore. Zack was already asleep, not worried in the least about what the future might bring them.
Perhaps, Vincent thought as he felt sleep beginning to claim him, it was time to let go of the past and look forward to the future. The last thing he saw before closing his eyes for the night wasn't Zack, but instead the glittering mastered All materia, shining in the firelight from its place in Zack's new sword.
A/N: This went from pwp to epic and back down to what you just read. It was written basically in two sittings, amazingly. The only thing that stalled a bit was the end, but that's just because it wants to be a 20-chapter epic again. Someday I may re-write it as such, with more detail about Cloud's madness and the months that were skipped over. And a bit more resolution. I don't know if these two'd stay together, but they balance each other well, don't they?
The 'Famous' outtake... This almost made it in, I swear, until I realized it was too hilarious and killed it:
- Vincent opened his eyes then, when he felt Zack's weight leave the bed. The two of them stared at one another in the fire light, appraising each other's bodies carefully.
"Well, what do you think?" Zack asked, watching Vincent watch him back.
"It's cold over here without my pants," Vincent replied, rather puzzled why Zack fell to the floor laughing.
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