Ukiyoe Painting

BY : MystIc19
Category: Final Fantasy VII > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1072
Disclaimer: I do not own FF7 or any of the FF7 characters. I do not make any profit in writing these fanfictions.





 

 

Some words to know!:

 

Donburi-A bowl of cooked rice with some other kind of food
on top of it. Like eggs or tempura.



Sashimi-Raw seafood, usually served with wasabi!

 

Ramen- Chinese style noodles prepared in a soup with various
toppings. Originated in China but very much Japanese now.

 

xxx

 

 

            Wide blue eyes looked about
frantically, taking in the surroundings. The quietness of the evening, the dark
sky and the tall trees, all accompanied by the sound of howling wind that
seemed like a quiet whisper in the night. It was as if it was crowding in on
Cloud and he quickly took a few steps closer to Zack, not wanting to trail
behind him at all and get swallowed up by the night.

            “Stay close,” Zack suddenly spoke up
when he heard Cloud’s footsteps behind him. He cast a glance over his shoulder
before reaching out and taking hold of his friend’s hand that was shaking and
also a little clammy.

            Cloud simply nodded as he tightened
his grip on Zack’s hand. As scary as the place was he felt a lot safer when
Zack was near.

            Letting out a sigh of frustration
Zack turned around, scoping out the surroundings. “I thought for sure we should
be going this way…but,” he explained quietly, more talking to himself than to
Cloud.

            “Are we lost?” Cloud asked softly.

            “No,” Zack replied quickly while
turning his gaze back onto Cloud, “don’t worry, we’ll be home soon.” Although
he had honestly really said that just to calm Cloud’s worries, because the
truth of it was…they were lost. They weren’t supposed to venture this far off
from town into these woods according to their parents. But he and Cloud did all
the time, however they never went as deep into it as they had today, and
somewhere down the line…a turn here or there had landed them off the path that
they were familiar with and the sun had set a while ago making it even harder
for Zack to distinguish the way. But even so, he was determined to get them
back into town quickly.

            They had continued on the path they
were on, both of them falling silent as they went into their own thoughts. Zack
focusing on navigating and Cloud focusing on not being attacked by something
out in the woods. The sound of what sounded like a twig snapping froze Cloud in
his tracks as he looked around fearfully.

            “Cloud?”
Zack asked when he noticed the blond had halted.

            “What was that?” Cloud asked quietly
while shifting his gaze back to the other.

            “I didn’t hear anything,” Zack
replied with a shake of his head.

            “But I…” Cloud continued while
looking off into the woods again.

            “It’s probably just the wind,” Zack
started calmly while squeezing Cloud’s hand comfortingly, “let’s keep going
okay?”

            Giving a bit of a broken nod Cloud
willed his feet to move as he kept his eyes darting this way and that. They
managed to make it a bit further before the sound of leaves shaking up in the
trees above caught Cloud’s attention. He didn’t have time to question what it
was before a flurry of dark shaped creatures flew out of the trees above.

            He let out a scream as they flew
about, making chirping type noises and flapping their wings rapidly. Letting go
of Zack’s hand he covered his head with his arms as if the creatures were going
to attack him at any moment.

            “Cloud its okay,” Zack spoke while
wrapping his arms around the other before glancing up above them, “it’s bats but they’re not going to hurt you.”

            Cloud clung tightly onto the other
as he listened to the bat cries become more and more distant as they finally
flew away.

            “It’s alright,” Zack continued
softly as he kept his arms around Cloud hoping that he could comfort him enough
to ease his shaking form.

            “I don’t want to stay out here all
night!” Cloud cried while turning his face into Zack’s chest..

            “You’re not going to,
we’re going to be home soon okay?” Zack said while pulling away slightly to
tilt Cloud’s chin upward so he was looking into his eyes. It was then that he
noticed the tears shining in those wide blue eyes and he felt his heart sink
from the sight of it. “Please,” Zack started worriedly, “don’t cry.”

            But it was as if those were the
magic words because right after the tears began to roll down the blonde’s face
before he was clinging back to Zack again.

            “Cloud,” Zack started while
squeezing the boy tightly. He felt guilty more than ever now for even coming
out here to begin with. To be the one responsible for Cloud’s tears…he couldn’t
take that. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you, if anything out here
tries to get you, they have to go through me!”

            Pulling away slightly Cloud looked
up into Zack’s smiling face before he continued.

            “Got it?” Zack asked while removing
his arms from around Cloud and taking his hand in his again. “So please don’t
be scared, I’m here.”

            ‘That’s right…Zack’s here, I’ll be
fine,’ Cloud thought to himself before lifting a hand to wipe away his tears.

            “Okay,” he said softly while letting
Zack lead him further down the path. He was still scared of the sound of
rustling leaves, the wind and even the sound of crickets chirping, but looking
at Zack who seemed so calm and confident…it settled him down more.

            “That’s it!” Zack cried after a
while of silence, “see the lake
Cloud?”

            Looking in the direction of Zack’s
pointed finger Cloud practically lit up at seeing the shimmering lake before
them. They were just nearing the edge of the woods and past the lake was
town…which meant home!

            “See?” Zack asked with a smile while
ruffling Cloud’s hair, “I told you we’d be home soon.”

           

xxx

 

            ‘That was a simpler time’ Zack
thought to himself while running a hand through his hair. Thinking back to that
time when they were kids he couldn’t help but to let a smile appear on his
face, although it was a bit sad. He remembered how scared Cloud had been that
night, practically jumping at every little noise and squeezing Zack’s hand with
all of his strength. And the only thing that Zack could think of was finding
the way home soon and keeping Cloud calm. That had turned out to be an
interesting evening to say the least, and even though he and Cloud had gotten
grounded for a long time after that by their parents…Zack couldn’t bring
himself to really be upset, because he had managed what he had set out to do.

            It had been
the story of the two’s friendship. Zack was Cloud’s comfort, strength and
security. It had always been that way, and Zack didn’t mind it one bit. To be
able to keep Cloud happy meant the world to him, even when they were kids. It
was what brought a balance to the two and something that Zack prided himself
on. However now…things seemed so different.

            Cloud was
keeping something from him, he was bothered by something and while Zack had his
thoughts on what it could be…the fact that Cloud wasn’t telling him hurt the
Samurai more than his boyfriend realized. Was he a fool to think that Cloud
would still rely on him for everything? They weren’t kids anymore sure but…

            Glancing
down beside him Zack let his eyes fall onto Cloud’s sleeping form. He had
fallen asleep rather quickly after they had finished making love…and even
within that Zack sensed something different. Almost like a sense of urgency and
longing but in a way that he hadn’t experienced before between them. All of
these things were swirling around in his head and he couldn’t bring himself to
fall asleep, so he had just been sitting up in bed now contemplating
everything.

            If only
Cloud would talk to him, he wanted to be able to lead him out of this too just
like he had done before when they were in the woods as kids. But he couldn’t do
that when Cloud was so deep in the dark…if he wouldn’t allow him to take his
hand.

            “Zack?”
Cloud’s sleepy voice spoke up as he shifted under the thin blankets. Zack
turned his eyes back towards him but he didn’t say anything in response.

            “What’s
wrong?” Cloud asked in concern while pushing himself up a bit.

            ‘Exactly. What’s wrong Cloud? What are you
hiding from me?’ Those are the words Zack wanted to speak, but he was sure
that Cloud would just tell him nothing as usual. Act as if everything was fine
when Zack could clearly read the lie in those blue eyes.

            “I…just
have some things on my mind,” Zack replied just as Cloud’s hand slid up his
arm, going across his shoulder and neck before sliding his fingers into dark
hair. He felt Cloud’s fingers run gently through his hair in a soothing motion,
something that always made whatever tensions in Zack dissipate quickly.

            “Do you
want to tell me about it?” Cloud asked softly while looking into the others
eyes, still keeping his fingers moving through raven hair.

            Zack could
see the worry and concern in Cloud’s eyes so he knew he was sincere with his
question, however if Zack spoke what it was that was really bothering him…he
didn’t know what Cloud would do, would he finally crack and just spill whatever
it was?

            “I don’t…understand
why you’re keeping things from me,” Zack finally admitted before shaking his
head, “you’ve never done that.”

            “What?”
Cloud began while ceasing the stroking of his fingers, “keeping things from
you?”

            Nodding
Zack continued on, “at first I thought it was because maybe the thing with
Aerith. I thought that may have been bothering you but…it’s not that is it?
It’s something else.”

            A silence
fell over them as Cloud looked away from Zack’s intense gaze. He guessed he
wasn’t shocked that Zack could sense something was amiss. He always had the
hardest time when it came to trying to lie to Zack, and it wasn’t that he
didn’t want to tell Zack what was going on but…he couldn’t. After Cloud’s last
encounter with the Shogun, after what he had promised the man in exchange for
his dad’s security of Chamberlain on the council…it was hard to even look at
Zack at all. True Cloud hadn’t seen Hojo since that day, but it was only
because it was a crucial time around the castle and he along with the council had
been tied up with business, his father included. But once things calmed down
once again Cloud knew it was only a matter of time until Hojo would seek him
out.

            “Cloud,”
Zack started while turning Cloud’s face back towards him, “I know you…I love you. I know when something is wrong
and I want to help but I can’t if you don’t tell me.”

            “Zack,”
Cloud began quietly, “I hate to see you worry about me. But really…nothing’s
wrong. You should be able to trust me when I say that.”

            Not saying
anything for a moment Zack just kept his eyes locked onto Cloud’s, searching
them for any hint of dishonesty. Letting out a sigh Cloud looked away before
laying back against the bed. He reached his arms out toward Zack, silently
asking him to forget this topic and come back to bed.

            Cloud had
told him that he should be able to trust him…and while Zack always had trusted
Cloud without hesitance before, he just couldn’t seem to be able to with this.
Even if Cloud had spoken the words Zack was pretty sure…no positive, that Cloud had lied straight to his face.

            Weary from
the emotional bout of it all Zack moved forward and allowed Cloud to wrap his
arms around him and pull him down onto the bed with him. Cloud kept his arms
wrapped around his boyfriend while running his hand along his back
comfortingly. It was the only thing he could do to try to calm the other,
because telling him what he wanted, telling him the truth…it just wasn’t an
option.

 

xxx

 

 

            “Sorry I’m
late Angeal!” Zack shouted while making his way over to his mentor who was
waiting for him in the courtyard. The man cast his pupil a look, giving him a
once over before speaking up.

            “I haven’t
been waiting for long, but even so you need to try to be more punctual,” Angeal
explained.

            “Sorry
Sorry,” Zack replied with a grin while scratching the back of his head. He had
gotten too caught up with Cloud this morning. His parent’s were away and he and
Cloud had been taking full advantage of that. Since they had taken their
relationship to the next level it was essential for them to have some privacy, real privacy. So needless to say when an
opportunity presented itself they didn’t hesitate at all.

            “What do
you say we go into town and get something to eat while reviewing the material?”
Angeal asked, figuring it would be better to get some food in Zack while he
went over the specifics of the upcoming assignments and such. He wasn’t new to
Zack’s antsy ways and he knew his student was more focused if he had something
else to keep him occupied.

            “Sure!”
Zack beamed. True he had eaten before he had come here but he could always go
for more. Cloud had woken up before he did that morning and had prepared
breakfast for the two of them, joking that Zack would starve if he wasn’t
around while his mom was away. Although Zack didn’t disagree at all, he knew
squat about cooking. However most of the guys he knew were the same way. But
somehow Cloud had learned from his mom.

            Even when
they were little Zack remembered Cloud stepping into the kitchen and trying to
assist Natsumi as she prepared meals. And she always allowed him to do so,
giving him vegetables and allowing him to wash them. Or carefully guiding his
hand as he chopped fish. It was something Saito always gave Cloud grief over,
but Cloud insisted it was a good thing to know.

            They made their
way into town, heading into a teahouse that Zack wasn’t familiar with but it
looked nice enough. A young girl approached them with a bow before telling them
to have a seat and then she had scurried off to the back. They had only been at
the table for a moment before she reappeared with a tray. She set down their
cups on the table before filling them with hot tea and setting the pot on the
table.

            Zack
reached for his cup and took a sip before quickly pulling it away and setting
it back on the table, causing Angeal to raise an eyebrow at him.

            “Too hot,”
Zack said with a smile.

            “Oh, I can
bring you another pot at a different temperature,” the girl spoke while
reaching out to grab the pot of tea.

            “Oh no,”
Zack started while reaching out for her hand to stop her from taking the tea
away, “please it’s fine. It’ll be good after a
moment.”

            “Well
okay,” the girl replied with a slight blush on her cheeks. “Are you two ready
to order?”

            “Just ramen
for me,” Angeal spoke while picking up his cup of tea.

            “I think
I’ll have donburi,” Zack decided as the girl gave a nod, preparing to walk away
from the table. “Oh!” Zack chimed before she got too far away, “and also maybe
sashimi please?”

            Nodding
once more the girl scampered off and Angeal shook his head at the other.

            “What?”
Zack said with a smile, “you know you’ll want some once you see it.”

            “I should
ask you not to make the waitress so flustered,” Angeal spoke up with a small
smile.

            “Huh?” Zack
asked while blinking his eyes, “what did I do?”

            “Not much I
suppose, but enough,” Angeal explained while setting down his cup.

            Letting out
a laugh Zack scratched the back of his head, “oh well…”

            Angeal
couldn’t help but to smile. Zack was a natural charmer, all he had to do was
smile at a girl and they would melt. So a small touch like Zack had done
earlier would clearly only make things worse, but amused Angeal how Zack seemed
to be unaware of it.

            “I was
hoping to have Kunsel here as well but he still seems to be away,” Angeal
continued while pulling out a file.

            “Yeah I
don’t think he’ll be back until tomorrow evening at best,” Zack spoke while
leaning on the table with his elbows.

             “It’s fine,” Angeal
said while looking at the contents before him, “when he returns I may be
sending him and you along with others on another assignment. Apparently the
Shogun thinks it’s a top priority now.”

            Just from
hearing the Shogun mentioned Zack’s smile fell and he narrowed his eyes
slightly. “Top priority how?”

            “Not all of
that information has been disclosed yet, “Angeal said while looking up at Zack,
“but just be aware that you may be going on this and it could be similar to the
last time.”

            “What?”
Zack asked as his eyes widened slightly, “you mean…as in duration?”

            “Possibly,
it depends on the severity of the situation once you get there,” Angeal
explained just as the waitress returned setting down their dishes before them.

            “Angeal I
can’t do that back to back,” Zack started with a shake of his head, “and I
can’t be gone that long again…I can’t. It’s too soon.”

            “What do you
mean you can’t?” Angeal asked sternly while picking up his chopsticks, “you’re
a Samurai, this is your job.”

            “I know but
I…” Zack continued while trailing off a bit helplessly. I can’t leave Cloud again. I won’t! He needs me.

            Not saying anything for the
moment Angeal studied the other. He knew something was bothering his pupil.
Zack was always a ball of energy and whenever his face fell and his spirits
wilted it was a red flag to Angeal that something serious must be wrong.

            “I assume
this has to do with Cloud,” Angeal stated while picking at his ramen.

            “Well,”
Zack began while lifting blue eyes up towards the man.

            Letting out
a sigh Angeal shook his head at the sad puppy eyes he was receiving from the
boy.

            “Zack,”
Angeal started, “I understand your worry, but I’m sure nothing will happen with
the Shogun and Cloud again. After that night I’m sure he’s backed down.”

            Wait what? That night?
The Shogun and Cloud…

            Angeal
frowned at the look that crossed over Zack’s face and he set down his
chopsticks before leaning back slightly.

            “Zack?” He asked unsure as he kept a hard gaze on the
Samurai.

            “Tell me
what happened,” Zack demanded with a serious voice, his eyes boring into his
mentor’s.

            “What?”
Angeal asked in slight confusion.

            “That
night, what you’re talking about. What happened with Cloud and the Shogun?”
Zack continued, becoming more anxious.

            “While you
were away. That time at the dinner, when Cloud’s food was…” Angeal started
before tilting his head a little, “you didn’t know about this?”

            Zack quickly
shook his head and Angeal let out a sigh while pinching the bridge of his nose
briefly.

            “I thought
for sure Cloud had told you this when you came back,” he explained.

            “He
didn’t,” Zack continued while leaning further onto the table, “Angeal please tell
me…I need to know what happened.”

            “This
isn’t…my place. If Cloud wanted you to know he would’ve told you himself. I
don’t think I should be-”

            “Angeal, please!” Zack suddenly shouted, causing a few heads
in the small teahouse to turn and look their way.

            “Zack,”
Angeal began sternly, while sending Zack a warning glare. His student lowered
his head a little before leaning back from the table. But he still kept his
eyes pleading and didn’t look away from the other.

            “There was
a resident dinner one evening,” Angeal began, deciding to give into Zack’s
whining. “Cloud and his family attended, as did I, and of course the Shogun.
The night seemed to be going well but a little later into the evening I
couldn’t find Cloud anywhere and I had learned that the Shogun had left
sometime during the night.”

            Zack didn’t
like the sound of this so far. His hands were on the edge of the table and
gripping it tightly as he listened to Angeal continue to explain the events to
him.

            “After a
little searching around I went to Hojo’s quarters and Cloud was there. I took
him home with me that night. It appeared that somehow Cloud had eaten something
at the dinner that had been drugged, and it was that way that the Shogun had
been able to take him away so easily.”

            “Drugged?”
Zack asked in disbelief before shaking his head, “How did….I mean…when you got
there was everything okay? Was Cloud…

            “He was a
bit shaken up of course, “Angeal supplied, “but I got there in time before
anything more could happen.”

            Dropping
his gaze Zack continued to shake his head. He couldn’t believe it, if Angeal
hadn’t noticed that Cloud was gone…if Zack hadn’t asked Angeal to keep an eye
on him while he was away, then that night…surely Hojo would’ve…

            Why didn’t
Cloud tell him? He had asked him when he returned if everything was okay! If
the Shogun didn’t harm him in any way and Cloud had told him everything was
fine. Why didn’t he tell him what happened? Why was Cloud…constantly lying to
him?

            “Zack,”
Angeal started while keeping his gaze on the younger one. He didn’t know what
was going on in his mind and he was hoping that he would stay calm about this.
“I know Cloud’s your friend and you want to protect him, but this is-”

            “No,” Zack
spoke quietly with a shake of his head. “Cloud is,” he continued while
clenching his fist tightly, “he’s my…”

            “I know,”
Angeal replied gently with a nod. “I know Zack.”

            Glancing up
at his mentor and noticing the understanding look he was giving him Zack gave a
nod. He was partly aware that Angeal knew about him and Cloud, although he had
never told him straight up he knew that he sensed it. But he definitely knew
now.

            “Why didn’t
he tell me?” Zack asked while placing his elbows back on the table.

            “I imagine
he just didn’t want to worry you,” Angeal explained before picking back up his
chopsticks.

            So he’d rather shoulder this all alone? I’m
his boyfriend, I should worry about him! Cloud…I don’t want you to close me
out.

            “You haven’t even taken one bite
of your food,” Angeal said while pointing to Zack’s cooling bowl of donburi.
“It’s in the past, try to relax and not let it bother you.”

            Picking up
his chopsticks slowly Zack looked at the food before him.

            I don’t know about that Angeal…is it really
in the past? Or is there still more going on?

 

xxx

           

            “Come on!”

            “I don’t
know…I mean that would take time and I’m not even sure what I would want to
do,” Cloud explained to his bouncing friend beside him.

            “It would
just come to you!” Aerith beamed, “like all your other work does.”

            “Maybe,”
Cloud replied with a sigh. They were out in their usual garden, Cloud with his
sketchbook and Aerith tending to her flowers. But somewhere during the course
of time Aerith had brought up the upcoming cherry blossom festival. Cloud knew
it was coming up, his mother was a seamstress and every time the festival came
around she always began to work on special kimonos for them to wear for the
event. But now Aerith was telling him that he should work on his painting and
submit it in the gallery for the festival. And while it did sound like an interesting
idea, he didn’t know if he really had the time. That and he still hadn’t even
tried his hand at painting. The one canvas that he had purchased to do so still
remained blank and was covered in his room.

            “Not maybe,
you will!” Aerith continued, “do you how many people
like your work? But not everyone gets a chance to see it, so this way you can
show it to tons of people!”

            “I’ll think
about it,” Cloud replied with a smile, clearly amused by his friend’s
enthusiasm.

            “Good
enough for now I guess,” Aerith said with a smile before making her way to the
stream of water and taking a seat by the edge.

            Lifting his
gaze from his sketch he looked to his friend who had begun to try to skip rocks
across the tiny steam. He kind of wanted to ask her if she had changed her mind
about inviting Zack to the Council dinner since he hadn’t heard about it in a
while. But then again maybe she forgot…and he didn’t want to bring it up and
remind her. That would just be one more problem he would have to worry about.

            One more problem…

            Shaking his head he dropped his
eyes back to his sketchbook, taking his pencil and lightly shading the sky in
the landscape. He almost scratched across the page however when the sound of a
door slamming loudly caused him to jump. Looking towards the garden entry way
his eyes widened when he saw Zack step into view.

            “Zack,”
Aerith began while placing a hand on her chest, “you scared me.”

            “I’m
sorry,” Zack replied quickly while shifting his focus towards Cloud.

            The blond
raised an eyebrow; Zack had never come out to this garden. In face Cloud didn’t
even know that Zack was aware where it was. Not too many people knew about the
garden in this corridor, which was the reason why Cloud and Aerith came to it.

            “Hey, what
are you doing here?” Cloud finally asked while lowering his sketchbook to the
ground.

            “Looking
for you,” Zack said once he walked over right in front of Cloud.

            “Oh…why,”
Cloud began with a look of confusion, “is everything okay?”

            Reaching
out his hand Zack grabbed a hold of Cloud’s before pulling him up to his feet
quickly. “We need to talk.”

            “Well,”
Cloud started while giving Zack a bit of an odd look, “can it wait till
tonight? I thought you had things to do right now anyways.”

            “They can
wait,” Zack continued while squeezing Cloud’s hand harder, “we need to talk to
now.”

            “Okay
fine,” Cloud replied before trying to pull his hand away from Zack’s now
crushing grip, “Zack,” he started while giving his boyfriend a wary look.

            He started
to walk away, keeping his hand around Cloud’s before he realized that going
into the castle wouldn’t be the best idea. They had more privacy out here,
aside from…

            “Zack let
go!” Cloud said with an irritated tone while trying to snatch his hand away
again. But Zack wasn’t letting that happen, although he did relax his grip on
the other. He hadn’t intentionally meant to grab Cloud’s hand so hard, but he
was just so worked up.

            “What’s
wrong?” Cloud asked while pushing at Zack’s chest to put a little distance
between them. Upon coming into the garden Zack hadn’t smiled at him or even
greeted him for that matter. He had just gone straight towards him and snatched
him up, and even now with their close proximity there seemed to be some sort of
angry aura radiating off of the Samurai. In all honesty Cloud was a bit
unnerved by it all.

            “Aerith do
you think you can give us a minute?” Zack asked while turning his focus towards
the girl.

            “Oh,”
Aerith began while standing to her feet, “I…sure yeah,” she replied with a  nod. She had been
sitting there watching everything unfold before her with a look of concern and
also confusion. She hadn’t ever seen Zack look anything but happy…so this was a
change of pace. Not lingering around for any longer she said a quick bye to the
two before exiting out of the garden and making her way back into the castle.

            Once Zack
heard the door close he turned his gaze back onto Cloud and let go of his hand.
Cloud was staring back at him with wide eyes and he almost looked a
little…scared. Gritting his teeth Zack looked away briefly. He didn’t mean to
scare him but…he was just so angry! Confused, he just…

            “Are you
going to keep lying to me?” Zack asked, surprisingly calm as he turned his gaze
back to Cloud.

            “What is
this,” Cloud began with a shake of his head, “Zack I really don’t know what
you’re talking about.”

            Scuffing a
hand through his hair Zack let out a laugh, more from frustration than humor.
“Oh really?” He asked, “So you didn’t lie when I came back from my last
assignment and you said nothing happened with the Shogun? You were telling me
the truth?”

            Sucking in
a breath at those words Cloud looked away. He had almost forgotten about that
with everything else that had been going on. But from the way Zack had said it
Cloud was sure that he knew about what happened. How had he found out?  Did Angeal tell him?  It had to be, he was the only other person
who knew.

            “Zack that
was…different,” Cloud started softly.

            “Different?
What does that mean?”  Zack asked,
shocked by Cloud’s response.

            “Because I
didn’t lie to you because I wanted to keep some big dark secret from you!”
Cloud shot back, “I did it because…I hadn’t seen you for so long and I missed
you! And I didn’t want to ruin our time with talking about the Shogun or having
you get angry! And I didn’t want to replay that whole night again, I just
wanted to forget about it! And I figured it was done and it just…didn’t
matter.”

            “Well it is a big dark secret!” Zack countered
just as quickly, “and I understand that you don’t want to talk about it, it’s
not pleasant, I get that! But what I don’t get is why
you lied about it, something that serious you would hide from me? If anything I
thought I would be the person that you came to with something like this. But I
have to find out from Angeal that my
boyfriend was almost raped, and I wouldn’t have known a damn thing about it
otherwise!”

            Raped. That
word seemed to hang in the air thickly and Cloud kept his eyes averted from
Zack. He knew Zack was right, and if Angeal hadn’t been there that night…Cloud
was more than aware about what would’ve happened. Maybe that was another reason
why he hadn’t said anything to Zack; he didn’t want to admit to what almost
really happened. To not say anything about it, to say everything was fine…was
almost like erasing it from his memory.

            Letting out
a quiet sigh Zack stepped forward. He knew that the subject was probably still
sensitive for Cloud, and he didn’t want to make things worse but he just needed
Cloud to understand him.

            “Cloud, I
love you. Of course when I hear something like this it hurts me,” Zack
continued, “and the fact that you kept it from me…I just don’t get that. I’m
here for you, I’ve always been here for you. And
that’s no different now.”

            Lifting a
hand Cloud wiped away the few tears that had managed to escape from his eyes so
quickly. The next thing he knew was Zack’s arm were wrapped tightly around him,
holding him close as he started to cry, not caring about holding the tears back
anymore and completely unraveled there in his lovers arms.

            “Talk to
me,” Zack started soothingly after a while, “what else is it that’s bothering
you?”

            “I can’t
tell you,” Cloud finally admitted while clinging to Zack tightly, “I want to
but I can’t.”

            “Of course
you can,” Zack replied while threading his fingers into blond hair.

            “I can’t,”
Cloud insisted while burying his face in his boyfriend’s chest. “You’d hate me
and…I don’t want that.”

            Hate me? Those words were enough to
unsettle Zack and he pulled away slightly to look down at Cloud. He cupped his
face with his hands and tilted his head up, looking into a tear streaked face
and sad eyes.

            “Cloud,” he
began softly while wiping away the tears, “I could never hate you. Never. No
matter what. Please never think that. Okay?”

            Cloud gave
a weak nod, still not entirely sure about that. After all, once Zack knew what
he had told the Shogun, how could he ever look at him the same again?

            “Tell me
what’s wrong,” Zack said again, keeping his eyes locked onto the innocent blue
while placing his arms back around him.

            Closing his
eyes briefly Cloud decided to just give in. He couldn’t keep lying to Zack
anymore, he wouldn’t. To hurt the
person that he cared most about in the world because of the sick, twisted
Shogun…it hardly seemed fair.

            “That night
of the dinner that Angeal told you about,” Cloud started while looking up at
Zack who just gave a brief nod, urging Cloud to continue“well I didn’t hear anything from the
Shogun after and so I thought…maybe it would be okay from that point on. But
then later, I got a message from him saying he wanted to see me.”

            “When?” Zack asked, interrupting Cloud’s explanation.

            “He didn’t
say when, just…he wanted to see me soon. I got that message a little after you
had gotten back,” Cloud continued, “but then it had been weeks since I heard
anything from him and I had gotten sick so I wasn’t out as much. But I ran into
him when I went to meet my dad at the conference hall a while ago…”

            He trailed
off after this and Zack squeezed him tighter before running his hand up and
down his back comfortingly, trying to give him the courage to continue.

            “He
mentioned the message, and said he wanted to set up some time for us to get
together. And I told him no and…something else along the lines of not liking
me. But I guess that made him upset and he said my father’s position as Chamberlain
was easily replaceable.”

            Zack
stopped his motions at that and Cloud hugged him tighter as more tears fell
from his eyes.

            “Zack I
couldn’t let my dad lose his position because of me! It’s not fair; everything
would be turned upside down if Hojo got rid of my dad on the council. I would
do anything to make sure that didn’t happen…I can’t.”

            “Cloud?”
Zack asked unsurely, “wait what are you-”

            “I told you
that you’d hate me!” Cloud cried while clenching his hands into the front of
Zack’s clothes.

            Pulling
Cloud back abruptly Zack held him by his shoulders as he searched his face for
clarity.

            “What did
you do?” Zack asked as his eyes widened. He couldn’t hide the worry from his
voice at that moment even if he wanted to.

            “I told
him…I’d do anything he wanted but he had to promise me that my dad’s position
would be safe. He had to…promise me that,” Cloud explained between sobs while
shaking his head, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

            Zack’s
stomach dropped once his boyfriend had uttered those words and for a moment it
seemed like everything had stopped. The Shogun was getting so desperate, that
since drugging Cloud hadn’t proven to work before he was now resorting to the
one thing that would actually make Cloud sway. Using his father as leverage was
the only way that would get to Cloud and Hojo was very well aware of that. He
was playing the blackmail card so to speak, and he knew he was playing it well.

            Sinking to
his knees suddenly Cloud continued to cry while covering his face with his
hands.

            “Cloud,”
Zack began while dropping down in front of the other and quickly wrapping him
up in his arms.

            “I didn’t
know what else to do…I couldn’t do anything else,” Cloud explained while
clutching at the Samurai.

            “Don’t
worry, nothing’s going to happen. He can’t do that, he’s only trying to scare
you into doing what he wants,” Zack told him softly, “its okay.”

            “He can!”
Cloud cried, “And next time I see him I know he’s going to-”

            “Don’t,”
Zack broke in quickly while tightening his hold on the smaller one, “he’s not
going to lay a hand on you.”

            “Zack,”
Cloud began shakily, “I’m scared to…see him again. I’ve been thinking about it
constantly and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

            “Next time
you see him keep it exactly the same,” Zack spoke firmly, “you don’t go anywhere
with him. No matter what he says, his threats are useless. He can’t take your
father off the council without any reason behind it. Shogun or not he can’t,
that’s just not how the council works.”

            “I don’t
know…he made it seem like he could,” Cloud replied.

            “That’s
because he was counting on you to believe that,” Zack continued before shaking
his head, “but he can’t. Trust me,” he finished before placing a kiss on top of
blond spikes.

            “I’m
sorry,” Cloud said again while closing his eyes and leaning against his
boyfriend who continued to hold him close against him.

            “It’s okay,
don’t apologize,” Zack spoke softly; “Don’t be scared, he’s not going to lay a
finger on you.”

            I’ll see it to it that he won’t. That you can be sure of.

 

xxx

 

            “Your Excellency the meeting is
about to begin,” Elena announced while stepping into the office.

            “Very
well,” Hojo replied while turning away from the window he was peering out
briefly. “Elena,” he continued while looking back out the window to the garden,
“are you familiar with Angeal’s pupil that tends to be around here often?”

            “You must
mean Zack Fair,” Elena answered with a nod, “I know him well enough I suppose.
Why do you ask?”

            “Yes I
thought his name was Zack,” Hojo said to himself, while looking out the window
at the blond who was being held in the Samurai’s arms. “What are his ties to
Chamberlain Saito’s son?”

            Elena
thought for a moment before speaking, “I know they’re best friends. I believe
they grew up together, they seem to be pretty close.”

            Pretty close indeed.

            “I see,” the Shogun said with a
bit of a smirk before finally taking his gaze away from the window, “we better
go, I don’t want to delay the meeting.”

           

 

 

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

 

 

           

           

           

           

           

           

 

                       

           

           






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