Ukiyoe Painting

BY : MystIc19
Category: Final Fantasy VII > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1053
Disclaimer: I do not own FF7 or any of the FF7 characters. I do not make any profit in writing these fanfictions.



Turning his gaze away from the lake Zack gave a wide grin as he looked at his younger friend approaching.

"You got out of training earlier today," Cloud said while taking a seat next to Zack on the grass and giving him a warm smile.

"Yeah," Zack replied with a stretch of his arms over his head. "Angeal was summoned suddenly for some reason so..."

Nodding Cloud turned his eyes forward before reaching down to pull absentmindedly at the grass. "Well good, I was bored," he explained with a brief laugh.

Keeping his gaze on his friend Zack couldn't help but to let his eyes trail over Cloud. Taking in his profile, the way his blond spiky hair framed and shielded his face. His small hands that were pulling at blades of grass before moving upwards to move some of his hair away from his face, giving Zack a glimpse at bright blue eyes.

He quickly looked away once he realized his gaze lingering and he felt his face heat up momentarily. It seemed to be happening more and more lately, but he couldn't help but to keep his eyes plastered on Cloud. Everything about him seemed to catch Zack's attention, and now things that never affected him before were doing the exact opposite. Whenever Cloud would smile or laugh it caused a strange sensation in Zack's stomach. Even just a casual touch from his friend caused him to feel flustered.

"You want to have dinner at my house tonight?" Cloud asked while looking back over to Zack. "My mom said she's making your favorite so you may as well come."

"Yeah sure," Zack replied while clearing his throat and shifting his gaze back to Cloud.

"What happened?" Cloud asked with a frown as he leaned forward slightly.

"Huh?" Zack asked while leaning back just a bit.

Reaching out Cloud gently touched Zack's cheek, letting his fingers lightly run over the reddened area. "How'd you get hurt?" Cloud asked in concern while moving forward a bit more to closely inspect the bruise.

"Oh," Zack began with a blink. He had practically forgotten that he even had a mark there at all. "Just wasn't paying attention while I was training. It's nothing serious," he explained with a smile.

"Be more careful," Cloud said while giving Zack a firm look. Laughing slightly Zack nodded. Cloud was always so worrisome, and since Zack had become Angeal's understudy it was as if Cloud's worry had shot up tremendously. And while Zack was always reassuring Cloud that he didn't need to be concerned over every little scratch or bruise that he hardly seemed to matter because Cloud didn't listen. But Zack was okay with that really, it was sort of cute that his friend worried about him so much.

"You should at least put something on it," Cloud continued, "it's not too bad right now but you don't want it to swell."

Giving a wordless nod Zack let his eyes wander over his friend's face. Cloud was so close to him now...too close. So close to the point that he could practically feel his breath. And that wasn't anything unusual really, the only thing that was different about it now was that it was affecting him. The feel of Cloud's fingers against his cheek, his warm breath and those eyes that were so close to his now that he could just stare into them and get lost...

And those lips. If he leaned forward just a bit more...

It would be so easy to just kiss Cloud. To feel the warmth and softness of his mouth. It was more than tempting...but Zack restrained. He couldn't do that and scare Cloud. No, he wouldn't. He was his friend and he wouldn't do that to him. But he just...

"Come on," Cloud said, seeming completely unaware of the conflicting thoughts in Zack's mind as he pulled away and stood to his feet. "We'll put some ice on that, and dinner should be ready soon anyways."

"Okay," Zack replied while getting to his feet as well, trying to appear normal as he and Cloud walked back to his home. They chatted along the way, although Zack was really only half involved. He had too much on his mind...he had Cloud on his mind. He had already more than begun to realize that he had feelings for his friend, but they only seemed to intensify as time went on. He wanted to tell him but...he was scared of Cloud's reaction. But what scared him more than that was to lose Cloud to someone else. That would be...more than he could bare.

Running his fingers gently though blond spikes Zack kept his eyes glued onto the small form of his boyfriend who was clinging tightly to him as he slept. A few times Zack had moved just to shift and change position and Cloud would seem to hold onto him even tighter, almost as if even in his sleep he was afraid of something...and didn't want Zack away from him. But that was fine, the Samurai had no intention on leaving Cloud. They had talked for a while after Cloud had caught him in the hall previously. They came back to the house and carefully talked to each other, although things were still very fragile, tense. And Zack didn't want to rock the boat, so he didn't push Cloud on anything more than he was willing to tell. And the only thing that Cloud had really told him was that he was just stressed out lately from dealing with his father and that was why he was so on edge. And while Zack did believe that to a certain degree...he knew that there was something much more plaguing Cloud. Something that he was keeping from him, and probably his parents for that matter. He knew when Cloud was bothered by something, it was easy to read him in that regard.

And once Cloud had fallen asleep after Zack had took him into his arms, he started to become curious about some things. Cloud definitely felt a lot more thin to him. He always had a small frame, but he seemed to be even more so. The dark circles under his eyes weren't as bad as he had seen them before but they were still evident on his pale skin. And when Zack had grabbed hold of his arm earlier and Cloud said he had a bruise...he definitely did. Once Cloud was asleep Zack had taken a look at his arm and noticed the fading but still distinct bluish, black mark. But how did he get it? A part of Zack wanted to shake Cloud awake and demand he tell him how he got hurt, but he knew that was useless, and more than that he knew Cloud needed to sleep. However the gears in Zack's mind were turning and he didn't plan on getting any sleep at all.

"No," Cloud mumbled quietly. It was so soft that Zack wasn't entirely sure that he actually heard it, but then Cloud moving a little caught his attention. Stopping his fingers from running through his hair Zack kept his gaze on Cloud, waiting for him to relax and still and continue on sleeping peacefully. But instead he gripped onto Zack more tightly before continuing with his mumbling. "Please...don't."

"Cloud?" Zack asked softly while leaning down a bit closer to the other. He noticed that Cloud's eyes were now squeezed tightly and he was starting to move his head from side to side.

"Please...please," Cloud continued to cry.

"Cloud," Zack began a bit more loud this time while shaking him gently, "wake up."

"Don't!" Cloud shouted, coming awake with a start and sitting up partially.

"Shh," Zack started comfortingly while wrapping his arms around his boyfriend, "it's okay. You were having a nightmare."

"What?" Cloud asked seeming a bit confused as he glanced around a bit. "I...Zack?"

"I'm right here," Zack said softly while pressing a kiss to the top of Cloud's head.

Letting out a sigh Cloud relaxed against his boyfriend, trying to calm his nerves from another one of his nightmares. "I fell asleep?" He asked before pulling away quickly and looking at Zack with wide eyes. "Are my parents back?" He asked quietly.

"No," Zack replied while pulling Cloud back towards him.

"Zack," Cloud continued with a shake of his head, "you have to leave before they get here."

"I'm not going anywhere," Zack stated before glancing over to the window. "Besides I don't think they're coming back tonight. The festival's long since been over. They probably just stayed in town tonight cause of the crowds."

Cloud figured Zack was probably right about that, after all it wasn't unusual when the festival came around to do such. Especially if his father had had one too many drinks and his mom didn't feel like dealing with getting him back home. But even so, Cloud really didn't want anything to happen if his father were to come back and see Zack there. He already had too much to worry about.

"But if my dad sees you here I don't want anything to-"

"It's okay. Don't worry," Zack cut in while holding Cloud tighter. "It'll be fine."

"Okay," Cloud said softly in response, deciding to trust his boyfriend as he always ended up doing.

"Do you want to tell me what you dream was about?" Zack asked carefully while letting his fingers run back through blond hair.

"I don't remember," Cloud replied instantly while curling in more to Zack.

"Alright," Zack said with a nod. He wasn't sure if he totally believed Cloud but he wasn't going to push things. Not anymore, not tonight. Because this evening was about comforting Cloud now, letting him know that he was still there, and that he would always be there. That he wasn't alone and he could rely on and depend on Zack. That was what Zack was trying to instill into Cloud who seemed to have been wavering on that earlier. Everything else that was going on, the questions and things that they needed to discuss...that could come later, in time.

"Try to get some sleep, I'll be right here," Zack continued while pulling the blanket up higher on Cloud who appeared to be shaking slightly. Whether that was from being cold or something else... Zack wasn't really sure.

"Are you sure you don't want to go?" Aerith asked as they exited from their lessons session.

"Yeah I'm sure," Cloud replied with a nod before glancing over to his friend. She wanted to go into town for lunch, but he wasn't supposed to go into town without his father's permission. And besides that he was supposed to be meeting Zack. He had made up some excuse and told his mom he would be a bit late getting home after lessons. She didn't seem to mind either way and was able to convince Saito that Cloud arriving back home later was fine. And although his dad still didn't seem too happy about it he allowed it none the less.

"Okay," Aerith said with a soft sigh, "maybe another time then," she finished with a smile. She was just glad that Cloud was talking to her more now than he had previously. She wasn't sure if he was upset with her for some reason or if he had other things going on. At least now he didn't ignore her, and even if he wasn't still too talkative she would take what she could get.

"Yeah," Cloud began while readjusting his notebook in his hands, "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Okay!" Aerith beamed before they parted ways. Cloud continued on his way, heading towards the garden he and Aerith usually went to. That was where he was going to meet Zack, but he couldn't deny that he was getting a bit nervous about it. He hadn't really spoken to Zack for about a week. Since the day of the festival he hadn't seen him, just like always it was hard to do so. The night that they spent together went by too fast, and when Cloud woke up in the morning Zack was already gone. Cloud understood why he had to leave so suddenly though, he was trying to avoid Cloud's parents...or well his father at least.

A few days later Zack had Kunsel take a note to Cloud and give it to him after lessons, and that was when they arranged to meet. Cloud wanted to see Zack, really he did. But he just didn't know what the visit would bring. What questions would Zack ask? Cloud was aware that he wasn't fooling Zack, and he knew that it wouldn't be long until Zack became frustrated with him hiding something else from him. But he just...couldn't.

'Calm down...if you just act normal then Zack won't be suspicious of anything.'

Reaching the garden Cloud stepped out into it before letting his gaze wander about. He didn't see Zack anywhere around, he must've beaten him there. Walking over towards the small stream he took a seat on the edge, watching the goldfish as they swam about. He was so focused on them that it took him a moment to see another figure in the reflection of the water. Eyes widening slightly he looked up at the bridge that crossed over the stream to see a man standing in the center of it and giving Cloud an unreadable look.

"Oh," Cloud started while standing to his feet and giving a bow. "Forgive me, I didn't know there was anyone here."

"Likewise," the man replied smoothly while continuing to cross the bridge until he was on the same side as Cloud and standing just a few feet away from him. "This used to be an isolated place from the castle."

" It still sort of is," Cloud explained while looking back into the man's eyes. They were striking green, and almost seemed to hold some sort of glow. Cloud couldn't help but to stare. Those eyes paired with the long silver hair were a bit entrancing.

"Mm," the man began, "so then that hasn't changed at least."

"You," Cloud started with a bit of a questioning look, "stay here in the castle?" Surely this man couldn't have, Cloud would remember seeing someone like him around.

"I did at one time," the man answered quickly, "and I don't recall ever seeing you around."

Pausing briefly Cloud's eyes traveled to the giant sword strapped across the man's back. Was he possibly a Samurai? He wasn't wearing the usual Samurai attire and instead just wore a black kimono...but he definitely looked as if he could be Samurai.

"I'm sorry," Cloud said with a bow, "I'm the Chamberlain's son."

"Chamberlain Toga's son?" The man asked with a slight raise of his eyebrow, "I thought his son had moved away once he had married."

"No, my name's Cloud Strife," the blond correcte

d before continuing, "Chamberlain Toga was replaced by my father Saito."

"Replaced you say," the man said softly while looking away in thought.

"Yes, I don't really know the specifics but my father is Chamberlain now. My family has stayed here for almost a year now."

"I wonder what else has changed," the green eyed man said to himself before looking back to Cloud. "I'm sure that I'll be seeing more of you then in that case."

"Um," Cloud started before taking a step back when the man walked closer towards him. He stopped however when he noticed the blond move away.

"Forgive me for the late introduction," he started, "my name is Sephiroth."

Sephiroth? Wait, he couldn't mean...

" in General Sephiroth?" Cloud asked with wide blue eyes. Sephiroth just gave a small nod in reply and Cloud's mouth nearly dropped for a few reasons. Mainly because everyone thought that General Sephiroth had died in battle. After one particular battle when Sephiroth had gone missing and hadn't come back to Edo, they had proclaimed him as dead...and that had been a few years ago. And secondly...Sephiroth was known to be the best Samurai, the most deadly and cold. He was a legend! And while Cloud had never met him himself, he had heard so much about him, it was almost surreal to know that he was standing in his presence at the very moment.

"I...everyone said that you had died," Cloud explained with a shake of his head.

"That would be the obvious conclusion," Sephiroth began, "however you can see it's inaccurate."

Inaccurate indeed. Blinking a few times Cloud opened his mouth to say something only to realize that he didn't know what to say, he was suddenly speechless. After all what could a kid ask someone like Sephiroth?

"In any event," the man continued, "I shouldn't linger about any longer, I have an audience with the Shogun soon."

"Oh," Cloud replied with a nod, "of course."

"It was a pleasure meeting you Cloud," Sephiroth began while taking a few steps away from the boy before casting one last look his way, "I'll see you soon."

Cloud didn't get a chance to say anything else before the man was retreating completely and exiting the garden and back into the castle. The only thing Cloud could do was stare at the entryway in which the man had disappeared just moments ago. It was still so strange to him, surely with a man like Sephiroth arriving back in Edo the castle would've been in an uproar. Not unless the Great General was lying low. Perhaps that was why he was out in the garden where he thought nobody would notice him until his audience with the Shogun.


Looking back to the entrance Cloud saw Zack burst through the doors before quickly making his way over to the other. He seemed to be quite excited about something and once he was in front of Cloud he leaned down and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

"Hey," Cloud said with a smile while looking up into blue eyes.

"Sorry I'm late," Zack started before shaking his head, "but today's been a bit crazy. You won't guess what's happened!"

"General Sephiroth's back in Edo?" Cloud asked with a raise of his eyebrow.

Pausing briefly Zack pulled back a little and gave Cloud a bit of a confused look. "How did you know?"

Cloud couldn't help but to laugh at the expression on his boyfriends face before he spoke up. "I saw him...just moments before you got here. He was out here when I arrived."

"Really?" Zack asked and Cloud simply nodded. Letting out a sigh Zack ran his hands through his hair before letting a wide grin spread across his face. "It's great though isn't it?"

"Absolutely," Cloud replied. He knew Zack was beyond happy about this. Unlike himself Zack knew Sephiroth. He was in training to become a Samurai when Sephiroth had disappeared, so while he never actually fought along side him in battle the man was still like a mentor to him. And since Angeal had taken Zack under his wing he was always around him and therefore knew others around him.

"Listen," Zack started seriously, "I know we planned to spend some time together now but...with everything that's happened today...I really want to go to the audience. Angeal will be there also so I think I can get in. It just seems pretty important you know?"

"Oh," Cloud started with a nod, "yeah of course it is. Go, we'll see each other later."

"Are you sure?" Zack asked hesitantly.

"It's fine," Cloud reassured with a smile.

"Thank you," Zack said softly before leaning in and kissing Cloud, "I promise I'll make it up to you."

"You don't need to," Cloud replied while bringing up his hands to push gently at the Samurai's chest, "now go before you're late."

Giving the other one more smile Zack nodded before turning and making his way out of the garden. Letting out a sigh Cloud took back up his spot near the stream while running his hands over his face. While a part of him was disappointed that Zack left...another part was oddly relieved and he couldn't help but to feel slightly guilty because of that. Relieved only because it was another escape, another opportunity to ditch the questions that he was sure would be coming his way. He knew he couldn't keep on running away forever, surely in time Zack would either grow tired of it...or he would. But at the moment it seemed the easiest thing to do, he had yet to gather the courage to tell anyone about the dark secret that was plaguing him. And in all honesty if he could keep it to himself and bring it to the grave with him he would...but, he couldn't hide something like this from Zack. No, not when he knew how protective his boyfriend was. But he would worry about that later, because right now he had been lucky enough to dodge the topic again.

"Again your father misses dinner," Natsumi said to herself with a sigh.

"I think he's even more busy now," Cloud started, "I mean the whole castle has sort of been in a an uproar since General Sephiroth came back."

"That's true," Natsumi began while stopping clearing the table and shaking her head briefly. "I still can't believe he's back."

Cloud nodded as he began helping his mom clear the table. He knew exactly what she meant, it was still a bit strange for everybody to know that Sephiroth had returned and was as good as ever. It hadn't been too long since he had returned back to Edo and since that day, after the audience he supposed things got a bit chaotic once word started to spread. He wondered just how the audience had gone, he wanted to ask Zack but he hadn't seen him for the last few days. His father had mentioned a little from what he had heard but he hadn't actually gone to the audience himself. Just what did the Shogun have to say about the General's return?

"Cloud will you take some dinner to your father? He get's back so late now that he doesn't even eat," Natsumi explained while moving into the kitchen.

"Okay,"Cloud replied just as his mom finished packing up the meal for him to take to Saito. Within a few minutes he had left from his quarters and was making his way to his father's office. It was very quiet in the halls seeing as it was now evening and Cloud was glad for it, he didn't want to have to get caught up talking to any passerby's at the moment. He just wanted to go back home and maybe work on his painting that he had been neglecting for so long. But before that he would write a letter to Zack, it was his turn to respond after all.

Coming to a stop once he reached his father's office he lifted a hand and knocked a few times. When he was greeted with silence he tried again before carefully pulling open the door and peering inside.

"Dad?" He asked while scanning the apparently empty room. It seemed as if Saito had stepped out for a moment. Crossing the room as the door shut quietly behind him Cloud set the item down on the desk. He couldn't help but to let his eyes travel over the desk and the papers that were scattered about. He didn't read much of it but his eyes were able to catch a few names and that stirred his interest. However he didn't have a chance to snoop for very long when he heard voices getting closer to outside the door. He wouldn't have minded otherwise...but one of those voices belonged to a man he didn't want to see. He thought he could quickly try to exit but he didn't want to take the chance of running into his father and the Shogun because he knew he would probably be forced to stick around and probably worse thereafter.

Glancing around the office his eyes landed on a shoji screen over in the corner. It was merely for looks and he was sure neither of them would take a second glance at it so he decided to hide behind there.

"Very well then," the Shogun's voice sounded as the office door was opened.

"It'll be ready by tomorrow morning for sure," Saito explained before taking up the seat at his desk.

"Before the meeting?" Elena asked while shutting the door behind her.

"Yes," Saito replied while looking at the bag that was placed on his desk and opening it up.

Hojo gave a small smile as he took a seat on the opposite side of the desk. "Your wife takes good care of you."

"She does," Saito replied with a laugh while pushing the bag aside for the moment, "she worries easily."

"Well then if that about sums it up," Elena started before Hojo glanced her way.

"Why not take what you have to the conference room," he suggested, "we'll be needing those ready for the meeting tomorrow after all."

"Of course you're Excellency," she replied with a bow before stepping out of the room.

"I assure you this will be ready by tomorrow you're Excellency," Saito reassured the man across from him.

"I have no doubt about that," Hojo replied with a smile before letting his eyes scan the desk. "I've been meaning to ask you Saito, how is Cloud? I haven't seen him since the festival."

"Fine thank you," Saito replied while shuffling through some papers, "just busy with his studies."

"I see," Hojo began while leaning back slightly in his seat, "that's good to hear."

Holding his breath when he heard his name mentioned Cloud crouched down even lower behind the Shoji screen. How long were they going to be here? If he was gone for too long his mom would probably start to worry. And if he waited until his dad left the office then he would surely get in trouble if his dad got him before he did. But it wasn't as if he could pop up way. Eavesdropping definitely wouldn't win him points at all with his dad. He guessed he was just going to have to wait it out.

"Perhaps you could arrange for him to meet with me again," the Shogun continued.

'No! Dad please... say no.'

There was a thick pause and the only sound was papers shuffling before Saito let out a sigh and placed his arms on the desk.

"I'm not too sure if that would be a good idea," Saito started, "my son has been a little...out of sorts lately."

"Hmm," Hojo mused while adjusting his glasses, "about Fair I would assume."

"Yes I think so," Saito replied.

"Well I'm sure he'll come around. I'd like to see him again though," Hojo continued, dismissing Cloud's mood as if nothing at all.

Cloud felt his stomach churning, just the thought of being with the Shogun again was enough to make him physically ill. He closed his eyes tightly and let out a breath that he hadn't been aware he was holding. Why couldn't the Shogun just go away, disappear. Was it only wishful thinking when he thought the man would leave him alone after he got what he wanted?

"I thought," Saito began softly while taking a glance at the door before leaning on the desk with his elbows, "that was just a one time thing."

'What? One time what are you...'

"One time thing?" Hojo asked with a raise of his eyebrow, "did I ever say such a thing?"

"I took it to mean such," Saito replied with a shake of his head.

"Well I'm sorry for the misunderstanding," Hojo began, "however that isn't what I meant. Cloud is rather special to me, it's not my intention to cast him aside so quickly."

Letting out a sigh Saito ran a hand through his hair before looking towards the Shogun. "When?"

Clasping a hand over his mouth Cloud's eyes widened. This, he wasn't actually hearing this was he? There was no way that his father could've actually agreed to...

"I'll let you decide that, just try not to make it too long," Hojo explained while rising from his seat.

"Yes You're Excellency."

uthors Notes:And here is chapter 14! I apologize for the tardiness of this chapter, and I know it's much shorter than what I usually write as well. But! I just needed to touch on a few crucial things this chapter and things will start to fill out later. A little certain something called Final Fantasy XIII has been occupying my time as of late so forgive me. But there you have it, Sephiroth is the last chracter to be introduced! And Saito has knowingly made some arrangement with the Shogun when it comes to Cloud? Oh my...until next chapter everyone!

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