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.



Disclaimer: I do not own FF7 or any of the FF7 characters. Nor do I make any money from writing this.





Turning the page in the book that he was reading Cloud let out a sigh while shifting in his bed. Either this book was going to have to get a bit more interesting soon or he was sure he was going to fall asleep. And it was a good possibility that that would happen. He was bored. Bored out of his mind. He didn’t like to be cooped up indoors all the time. If he had it his way he would be out right now. But his father had told him he wanted him to stay inside for the day. And that he should focus on studying.

He couldn’t help but frown at that. It was just his dad’s stupid reason to keep him from leaving the castle. He honestly didn’t understand why he wanted him confined. What kind of trouble was he expecting him to get into?

Cloud had half the mind to just go out anyway. After all his parent’s weren’t there at the moment, and he knew they would be gone for a while. But then again it was already dark out now.

A knock at the door shook him out of his thoughts and he placed the book down on the bed. He didn’t bother to mark the page he was on, wasn’t like he was really paying attention to it anyways.

He made his way down the hardwood floors of the hallway in sock clad feet before reaching the door. Sliding it open he blinked briefly in surprise before raising an eyebrow.

“What are you doing here?” He asked softly while peering outside past the other.

“Came to see you of course!” Was the chipper reply he got.

“I thought you’d be at the dinner,” Cloud replied while stepping aside to let the Samurai in.

“I was for a little while,” Zack explained while removing his shoes at the door before walking in, “but Angeal let me leave early since I had been working all day. He figured I needed rest.”

“And you came here?” Cloud asked while sliding the door close.

“Well I was already here in the castle,” Zack began with a smile, “I thought it would be nice to see you.”

Turning around to face the other Cloud gave a small smile. It wasn’t unlike Zack to come drop by and see him whenever he was in the castle. Even if he had had a long, tiring day.

A soft meow drew both of their attention towards the floor, as the small orange and white cat rubbed it’s face against Zack’s leg.

“Tama!” He began while crouching down to pet the cat.

“I think she’s missed you,” Cloud began while moving towards the kitchen.

“Yeah, it’s been a while,” Zack replied, still showering the cat with attention.

The cat was really attached to Zack. He had gotten her when she was just a kitten actually when he found out that Cloud and his family were moving into Edo castle. He knew that Cloud wasn’t too happy about moving there, and so he wanted to try to help in some way. So he had decided on the kitten. She could help provide some sort of comfort to the blonde. And Cloud was more than happy when he received her. And ever since then whenever Zack would visit she would always want to cuddle up to him.

“Did you eat already? My mom made dinner before they left,” Cloud explained from the kitchen.

“I’m fine,” Zack responded while giving Tama one last pet before moving towards the kitchen as well. “Your mom and dad are at the dinner?”

“Yeah, you didn’t see them?” Cloud asked while turning his focus towards the other.

“No, but I mean there was a lot of people there,” Zack explained.

“Naturally,” Cloud replied softly. There was always events like this at the Castle. Dinners and ceremonies that all of the occupants within the Castle attended. However Cloud never liked to attend them. There was way too many people for his liking and he didn’t like to schmooze with everyone. Occasionally, if it was a more important event he would have to go. But one’s that weren’t as important he didn’t, in fact his father preferred he didn’t. So he guessed in some way it worked out to his advantage.

Grabbing a quick snack Cloud led them back to his room where they stretched out on the bed, chatting about everything that came to mind. He was glad that Zack had came by this evening. His whole day had been pretty dull but just being able to see his boyfriend for a while made it better. Even if he could clearly see now that Zack was tired. He was still talking and smiling, but Cloud noticed the tiredness in his eyes. He wasn’t sure how long they had been lounging around but it had been a while, that much he was sure of.

“You should probably get going, I know you’re tired,” Cloud began while poking Zack in his side.

“Hmm? You’re trying to get rid of me already?” Zack asked jokingly with a frown.

“Not that I want to,” Cloud replied with a brief laugh, “I’m going to be bored again once you leave. But…”

“Then I won’t leave now,” Zack answered quickly while letting his gaze pierce the others.

“But you’re going to be so tired tomo-” Cloud started before his sentence was lost against Zack’s lips that were now pressed against his. His eyes fell shut after only a second of feeling the others mouth work against his. His tongue gently entering his mouth, allowing a soft, satisfied moan to escape from the blond.

Breaking the kiss Zack pulled away just enough so that he could stare down into blue eyes that had just opened slightly.

“Still want me to go?” Zack asked quietly, a small smile still etched in his features.

“Not so much,” Cloud answered just before Zack was leaning in for another kiss. They weren’t rushed or forceful. But instead slow and deep, and yet somehow remaining soft and gentle. It practically took Cloud’s breath away. He loved it when Zack kissed him this way, it made his whole body tingle with a sensation that he couldn’t describe…but he knew he loved it.

He slowly ran his hands up muscled arms before bringing them to rest upon broad shoulders as he felt Zack’s hand run down his side before stopping at his hip. A pleasant shiver ran through him as he tangled his hands in raven hair. There was something about Zack’s touch that made him weak and stirred up something within him. Even if the contact wasn’t skin on skin but through his yukata. He often wondered how it would be if it were though. To feel Zack touch him on every part of his body. Just the thought alone however brought an instant blush to his face.

Though they were in a relationship now, they still hadn’t gone…all the way. Not yet. Cloud often wondered if his hesitance was a bad thing, but Zack respected it. He never pushed Cloud, and he knew his boundaries. But they seemed to be alright with where they were at now, and so that was fine. But bit by bit Cloud felt like he wanted more…needed more. It was just a matter of time really, there was no question about that. Zack was definitely the one.

Cloud let out a small laugh when he felt Zack’s lips brush lightly against his neck. He was pretty ticklish, and he knew that sometimes Zack did those things on purpose just to see the blonde’s reaction.

Continuing to trail light kisses down his boyfriends neck Zack stopped right above his collar bone, giving it a soft nip. Cloud took in a sharp breath of air at that before Zack was gently kissing the area, licking and sucking at the junction between the others shoulder and neck. He made sure not to be rough, the last thing they needed was for Cloud to have a mark there. That would only cause problems.

“Zack,” Cloud murmured quietly while squirming under the other’s weight. He was beginning to feel light headed…but in a good way, and his stomach felt like there was tons of butterflies flapping around in there.

“Mm,” was Zack’s response as he made his way back up the others neck before biting his earlobe playfully.

“Don’t!” Cloud began with a laugh at the feel of the tickling sensation.

“Huh?” Zack asked while pulling back to give the other a confused look.

Cloud knew he was only pretending to act clueless and he shook his head. “You know what,” he explained while narrowing his eyes.

“Oh,” Zack started with a certain gleam in his eyes, “you meant this?” He finished while leaning back down to nibble on the others ear.

“Zack! Stop it!” Cloud laughed again while trying to push the other away.

“Does that tickle?” Zack asked innocently as he continued on, now bringing his fingers into it as they attacked the smaller one’s sides.

There wasn’t much that Cloud could do to get away from it. He was laughing too hard by now. All he could do was squirm around and try to push Zack away, but his laughing was taking up all of his energy.

Zack couldn’t help but to laugh right along with the other. Cloud’s laugh was contagious, especially when he was laughing like this. It was very very rare, but when it did happen Zack couldn’t help but to join in. He had to admit that he loved messing with Cloud this way. He had ever since they were kids. But there was something so sweet and pure about the sound that he loved. And Cloud would only ever completely drop his guard when he was with Zack alone. The side of him that nobody else got to see, or knew. And that in some way made it all the more fulfilling.

However the Samurai figured he should stop once he saw the redness in Cloud’s face, no doubt from lack of air. So backing off he sat back on his heels and grinned down at the other who was breathing heavily.

“I guess it does,” Zack stated as Cloud glared at him. But it only lasted a moment before he was smiling at the other.

“I’ll get you…back…just wait,” Cloud explained in between breaths.

Moving beside the other Zack reached out to wrap his arm around the blond‘s waist. “Fair enough.”

Closing his eyes Cloud tried to calm his racing heart and steady his breathing. He heard Zack let out a small chuckle before another arm wrapped around him, pulling him tighter against the other. He was so exhausted he didn’t want to move, and there in Zack’s arms he felt more than comfortable. He just wanted to stay this way…for a little while at least.

The sound of a door closing and a woman’s laughter caught Cloud’s attention. He heard muffled voices coming from beyond his room and then he heard the laugh again. And that’s when it hit him. It was his parents. When did they get back?

Shifting in the bed he opened his eyes when he felt a warmth behind him. Looking over his shoulder his eyes widened as he took in the sight. Zack was still here? He stared at the other who seemed to be sound asleep and currently had his arm still wrapped around the blond.

‘We must’ve both fallen asleep,’ Cloud thought to himself while carefully sitting up and removing Zack’s arm from around him. He knew Zack was tired, he didn’t want to wake him up. Not now, not at this late hour. And he seemed to be sleeping so peacefully. Cloud didn’t have the heart to wake him. So slipping out of his bed he made his way out of his room and down the hall where his parents were.

“Cloud?” His mother asked as he came further into the room, “what are you still doing up?”

“I just heard you come in,” Cloud spoke quietly, “how was it?”

“It was very nice,” his mother replied with a smile, “next time you’ll come to okay?”

Cloud gave a nod before his father spoke up.

“I hope you were able to get some work done. And I’m not talking about those drawings.”

“Saito, leave him alone,” his mother began with a bit of a sigh, “it’s late, he’s tired.”

“I did get some studying done,” Cloud replied anyways. He didn’t know why, he probably really shouldn’t care. But he hated not being able to please his dad. In some way he still wanted him to be proud of him. So he still tried to do most of the things his dad expected him to do.

“Good,” his dad answered before walking across the room to get ready to go down the hall.

“Also,” Cloud quickly started before his father had left the room, “Zack came here earlier. But he, or we ended up falling asleep so he’s still here.”

“Oh!” Cloud’s mom began while covering her mouth briefly, “is he still sleeping? And here I am talking so loudly.”

“What was he doing here and not at the dinner?” Saito asked firmly.

“Angeal let him leave early. He just stopped by here to say hi but he was really tired. And I didn’t want to wake him now,” Cloud explained.

“Well of course not!” Natsumi began in a loud whisper. “I’m sure he’s exhausted, we’re not going to wake him up now. Let him rest! You too Cloud, it’s late, you have lessons tomorrow. Go to bed.”

Cloud could barely get in a word after he had spoken that. Not that he expected anything else really. His mom had known Zack ever since he was little. And since her son and Zack had grown up together and were so close, she considered him just like another son. She was just as protective over him. But in a way, Cloud loved that. That the person that meant so much to him also meant a lot to his family. And his dad…well, while he may never be so open about it he knew that he had a great deal of respect for Zack. After all, he had wanted Cloud to become a Samurai like him.

His mom was saying something else before ushering him out of the room and down the hall before placing a kiss on his cheek and telling him goodnight. He slipped back into his room, sliding the door shut behind him before letting his gaze travel across the room to his bed. Zack was now sitting up and rubbing his eyes tiredly with his hand.

“Is everything okay?” He asked sleepily while peering back at the other.

“Yeah,” Cloud replied softly while making his way back over to the bed, “I was just letting them know you were here.”

“Oh,” Zack began with a brief nod, “it’s fine right?”

Lying back on the bed Cloud reached up to pull the other down beside him. “It’s fine. Get some sleep,” he finished before leaning in to place a kiss on the others lips. He pulled the covers up over them afterwards before moving over to the other side of the bed. While he would love to be able to sleep in Zack’s arms, it was too risky. He had lessons the next day which meant that his mother would be coming in his room to wake him up. And what a compromising position that would be. So, as usual they played the role that they had been for so long. Best friends. And nothing more.





“I’m surprised we finished up early today!” The girl beamed while stretching her arms above her head and smiling.

“Yeah, don’t get used to it,” Cloud joked as his friend let out a laugh.

“I won’t, but that’s why we have to enjoy this!” She continued with a bright smile. But no matter what the situation was, she was usually always this way. Bright and cheerful, and ever the optimist. That was Aerith. For as long as Cloud could remember she was always bubbly and cheerful.

He was grateful that at least one of his friends resided in Edo Castle. Aerith was the Magistrates daughter. In fact her family had always lived in the Castle ever since she was born so she was used to it. But she would usually go into town because she had other family that stayed there. And when they were kids she would often play with the rest of them while she was there. So unlike Cloud she was used to this way of living and was able to “show him the ropes” so to speak. At least now they didn’t have to endure the long hours of their private tutoring by themselves. As the children of High Officials they were expected to be above and beyond in their studies as opposed to other kids. It was sort of a hassle really.

“Hello,” Aerith spoke as she bowed to a few people that they passed in the halls. Cloud only did a few times, he wasn’t as focused on passerby’s as she was.

They made their way through the Castle before heading out into one of the gardens. It was one that they came to often. Nobody really came out there and since they weren’t always able to leave the Castle this was second best.

“Oh look my flowers are starting to bloom!” Aerith exclaimed while running over to a bed of small flowers that had just started to sprout pink petals. She had planted them here a while ago and made sure she came to water them daily.

Taking a seat on the ground beside the small fountain Cloud pulled out his sketch book before rifling through a few pages and landing on the one he wanted. He gazed over the garden briefly before looking back down to the paper. He had started to sketch this garden recently. Making sure to capture every little detail that he could. Every tree and stone and the many fountains around the area. To try to create on the paper just as clearly what he saw with his eyes.

“Don’t forget to add these,” Aerith began while casting a glance back to her friend who had already begun to sketch lightly in his book. Sometimes when Cloud would start to sketch he didn’t like to be distracted, he was completely focused on what he was doing. And the look in his eyes, it was almost as if he were trying to mentally capture the picture before him perfectly before he would even begin to draw anything.

Kneeling down to another part of the flower bed she pulled the bottom of her kimono closer to her so that it wouldn’t drag in the dirt. Leaning forward she better inspected the flowers before smiling, they were coming along just fine.

“I missed you at the dinner last night,” Aerith continued as she fiddled around with the delicate flowers.

“Oh…sorry my dad wanted me to study,” Cloud explained while glancing over to the flower bed and beginning to draw the new plants there.

“Typical,” Aerith replied with a giggle. “Though it would’ve been nice if you came. Then the three of us could’ve all been together for a bit.”

“Three? Who else was there?” Cloud asked.

“Zack. For a while anyways, but then he left. But I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to him,” Aerith explained while looking up in thought, “he seemed to want to leave though.”

“He was just tired,” Cloud replied instantly while stopping for a moment to look at his work so far.

“Did you see him last night?” Aerith asked curiously while looking back to the other.

With a nod Cloud continued with his work. “He dropped by after he left the dinner.”

“I see,” Aerith replied quietly.

Pausing Cloud glanced up at Aerith. She was partially turned away from him playing with the flowers. But he could still see a hint of a smile on her face. Though it was sort of more like a sad smile.

Letting out a sigh he glanced away. He hadn’t said anything, and she hadn’t either…but lately he was beginning to get the feeling that she had feelings for Zack. She would bring him up frequently and was always asking Cloud things about him. At first he didn’t really think much of it, they were all friends, but…there was something different.

“I’m sure he tells you everything…right?” Aerith suddenly asked while turning quickly, her long brown hair whipping over her shoulder.

“As in?” Cloud asked quietly. He couldn’t help but to feel a bit nervous about what she was getting at.

Giving a small chuckle she shook her head. “I don’t know,” she spoke before flashing a smile. “Let’s see!”

Before Cloud could react she was knocking into his side playfully before peering down at his sketch.

“Wow, it’s coming along great Cloud!” She started in awe.

“It’s…there’s still a long ways to go,” he replied softly. She was saying something else now but he was only partially listening. What was it she wanted to really say earlier? It was going to annoy him. Was he just being paranoid? He often was when it came to he and Zack. It scared him more than anything to think of anything coming between them, but at times he just couldn’t help the thoughts that would creep into his mind.

“I agree with her. I think it’s very nice.”

Aerith gave a small gasp of surprise as she and Cloud both turned around to see who the voice belong to.

“Oh!” Aerith began while scrambling to her feet and quickly bowing, “your Excellency so nice to see you.”

The man simply smiled at her before turning back to Cloud who was now standing up as well.

“Hello again,” Cloud spoke with a bow.

“Chamberlain Saito’s son correct?” The Shogun asked with a tilt of his head.

“Yes,” was the blonde’s quick reply.

“Hmm,” Hojo began, “I believe I saw your parents briefly last night but I don’t recall seeing you there.”

Cloud was silent for a moment. It wasn’t unusual for the Shogun to go to the events, even if it wasn’t for long. But he didn’t expect for him to really notice his presence there or not. And he wasn’t sure if not attending was in someway insulting to the man.

“Well no…I was studying,” he finally spoke. Yeah right.

“I see,” the man began, “well I do hope you’ll make time to attend the next event. In any case Chamberlain Saito never told me that his son was an artist,” he finished while letting his eyes drift back to the picture.

“Oh no your Excellency, it’s just a hobby,” Cloud replied while bending down to retrieve the sketchbook from off the ground.

To his surprise the Shogun reached out and took the book from his hands. But not before catching his hand in his briefly. “A hobby?” He started, “hands like these belong to an artist.” Letting his hand go Hojo skimmed through the book briefly before allowing a smile to appear on his face. “You’re very good at what you do.”

A compliment? From the Shogun? Cloud couldn’t believe it. Only his friends and family had ever seen his art, but to have the Shogun see it and like it meant a lot. Maybe now his dad wouldn’t think he was wasting his time with it.

“T, thank you,” he began. He was suddenly at a loss of words and could only look back at the other.

“Excuse me,” a soft voice broke in before the same woman that Cloud had seen earlier in the meeting room came up to them, “I know you wanted some down time but there’s a matter that’s come up that needs urgent attention.”

Cloud glanced over to the blonde woman who had her head bowed at the moment. He knew she was some sort of official but he hadn’t seen her around.

“Very well, “ Hojo replied with a nod before the woman lifted her head and shot Cloud a look. He gave her a small bow in acknowledgement but that was it before the Shogun spoke up again. “It seems I have work to do. However Cloud I look forward to seeing more of your work. Perhaps sometime soon that can be arranged.”

“Uh…yes. If that’s what you want,” the blonde replied still in shock as the man gave him a smile. He handed the sketchbook back to Cloud and then he and the other woman made their way out of the garden and into the castle.

There was a thick silence for a moment before laughter filled the air.

Glancing beside him he saw Aerith standing there with a huge smile.

“See Cloud! You can be as modest as you want but there is still no hiding your talent!” She explained while clapping her hands excitedly.

Cloud couldn’t help but to let a smile slip out. After all, it was a pretty nice feeling to be acknowledged for what he loved to do.




It was pretty quiet in the Castle now. Everyone had returned to their chambers so there wasn’t a lot of people roaming about like during the day. But it was actually nice to come out during the evening when it was quiet. Cloud didn’t like when it was so crowded and preferred it this way actually.

He was just leaving out of the library now. He ended up staying there a bit longer than he intended and decided now that he should be getting back. His parents wouldn’t really mind him being out now since they knew he was in the Castle, but still his mom worried easily no matter what. But then he guessed that was just how all moms were.

Making his way down the quiet halls he stopped briefly when he heard some laughter that sounded a bit far away. Curious he looked around before walking up to a window on the side of the hallway. He glanced down towards the courtyard to see a few figures. There was lanterns around the area so he could see them pretty clearly, and if not anything else he knew who it was by their voices.

The one who was laughing loudly was Kunsel. One of Zack’s good friends that he had met since becoming a Samurai. And the other who was sitting down on the bench with the fiery red hair was Reno. Cloud could spot him a mile away, not just from his hair but from his laugh.

Frowning a bit Cloud looked around at the others. He knew them but wasn’t acquainted with them like he was with Reno and Kunsel. And then the frown vanished from his face when he spotted Zack. He had just walked over beside Reno and taken a seat next to him.

What were they all doing just hanging out in the courtyard? And they were sort of loud, but Cloud figured nobody would say anything since a few Samurai were present. Pulling away from the window he thought for a minute. He really should’ve been getting back but he sort of wanted to go down there at least for a little. Just to say Goodnight to Zack if not anything else. He hadn’t seen him since earlier in the day when he left from his house from sleeping over. And with that thought he turned and went down the opposite direction, making his out of the castle and into the courtyard. He opened the gate which made a loud creak and all of the chatter quickly died down. Walking further into the courtyard he finally came into everyone’s view once he stepped into the illuminated parts of the area.

“Hi,” he spoke softly, sort of feeling put on the spot.

“Well look who it is!” Reno exclaimed with a grin

“Hey!” Kunsel spoke up just as Zack stood up from off the bench. The others around simply went back to their previous conversations. They didn’t know Cloud, but they did know he was a friend of the other three.

“What are you doing out here so late?” Zack asked while walking over towards the other.

“I heard you guys,” Cloud replied with a raised eyebrow, “you’re a little loud.”

Zack gave a laugh before apologizing and then Reno quickly cut in.

“Or maybe,” the redhead began while standing up a bit wobbly, “you just have sensitive ears blondie.”

Kunsel reached out and helped him to sit back down before letting out a laugh of his own.

“Are you drunk?” Cloud asked.

“Yes,” Reno replied perfectly normal, “yes.”

Shaking his head Cloud looked back to Zack who simply shrugged.

“He’s had a difficult day so we took him out for a drink or…few,” Zack explained while walking away from the others and motioning for Cloud to follow.

Cloud just nodded at that response as he followed Zack. Reno often had “difficult days” and the blonde knew that was because of his occupation. Though it was never flat out told to Cloud what it was Reno did. Not even Zack would tell him. But he knew it was something important, and at the same time dangerous. If Cloud had to guess he would put it along the lines of a spy for the Shogun ate. Or even an assassin. But he had to keep it quiet. Nobody could know, not even Reno’s family. However Cloud knew Zack was aware since he was a Samurai, but not even he would tell Cloud. He understood why though.

“I was going to stop by but I figured it was too late,” Zack continued while looking beside him to the smaller one.

“Oh I wasn’t even home, I was just heading back from the library now before I came out here,” Cloud explained.

“Library? Can you take a break from studying for just one day?” Zack asked while smiling at the other.

“I would but my-”

“Dad would get upset,” Zack finished with a sigh. “Yeah I know. I wish he would ease up on you a little. You should really let me say something to him.”

“Yeah that would be great, “ Cloud replied sarcastically. No matter how annoyed Zack would get at Cloud’s father at times, the blonde would never allow him to say anything. It would just make things too awkward and complicated.

“It would be,” Zack shot back before giving a bit of a laugh. But he decided to turn the conversation so as not to upset Cloud. “How was your day aside from that?”

“Fine. Got out of tutoring early today. Aerith and I went out for a little, I worked on one my sketches,” he explained while partially letting his mind drift back to the conversation that he and Aerith had. He was slightly wondering if he should mention it to Zack.

“Oh show me,” Zack lit up while stopping in mid step to look at the other.

“What?” Cloud began while stopping also, shaking the thoughts from his mind. “Oh I don’t have my book with me, I set it down at home already.”

“Well don’t forget it next time,” Zack replied while reaching out and ruffling the others hair.

“It’s not finished,” Cloud started before he remembered his run in with the Shogun earlier. “That reminds me though. The Shogun said he liked my work.”

“Huh?” Zack asked a bit confused while letting his hand run gently down the side of the others face.

“When Aerith and I were in the garden in the North Corridor, I was working on my sketch,” Cloud explained, “and then the Shogun happened to come by there. It’s weird, Aerith and I go there all the time and usually only a few people pass by. It’s one of the quieter areas. But he was there and he came up and talked with us for a few and he saw my book and took a look through it. He said…I was good. It was…nice. Maybe I should tell my dad that right? I guess they’re not that silly after all if the Shogun took a notice of it.”

Zack was silent for a moment before furrowing his brows, “that is strange. You’ve never run into him like that before.”

“I know,” Cloud began with a laugh, “Actually I did last week too but just for a second. He didn’t seem to remember I was the Chamberlain’s son.”

Last week, and now again? Zack didn’t like the sound of this “chance” run in. Not in the slightest. Not when he knew…

“He said he wanted to see more of my work later. He got called away so I didn’t have time to…but maybe at the next event or-”

“No!” Zack suddenly spoke. He wasn’t looking at Cloud anymore but instead off in the other direction. Something that he tended to do when he was thinking hard about something.

“What?” Cloud asked, suddenly confused as to what his boyfriend was talking about.

Turning his focus back to Cloud Zack shook his head. “No. If he asks for you or tries to arrange some meeting, don’t go. Stay away from him.”

“Zack,” Cloud started at a loss for words. Why was he saying this? “It’s a good thing. If I can get him to recognize it then maybe-”

“I said stay away from him,” Zack cut in, his voice stern and serious.

Cloud wanted to argue back but the look in Zack’s eye made him not. “Why?”

Letting out a sigh Zack scuffed a hand through his hair before glancing around. “Because of his reputation.”

“Reputation?” Cloud asked with a shake of his head, “I don’t…understand, what’s that supposed to mean?”

It wasn’t something that was really a secret. A lot of people were aware of the Shogun’s “reputation.” But Zack wasn’t surprised that Cloud was unaware of it. He didn’t really get tangled up in the matters of the Officials and the things that went on in the Castle.

“He has an…infatuation, I guess you could say,” Zack started while looking into blue eyes. The pureness that was held within them was noticeable to anyone, and Zack knew that a man like Hojo would surely fall for it.

Cloud remained silent as Zack stopped speaking and looked into his eyes. He blinked briefly waiting for Zack to continue.

“Or what I mean to say is,” Zack continued after a moment, “it’s not a secret that he likes your type.”

“My type?” Cloud asked as his eyes widened slightly.

Zack nodded, “you’re young, attractive…”

“Zack that’s not funny!” Cloud snapped, becoming a bit irritated.

“It wasn’t supposed to be,” Zack replied seriously, “you think I would joke about this?”

“He’s married!” Cloud continued.

“Because he has to be,” Zack explained, “sooner or later he’ll need an heir, so of course he needs a wife. But his interests are elsewhere. That’s just to save face.”

The Shogun? Really?

Cloud suddenly felt nauseous. Who knew that the Shogun had an attraction towards younger boys. He was mostly shocked, but more than that he was sort of freaked out if the man really was interested in him.

“So,” Cloud began quietly, “what would he…” he couldn’t finish his sentence, let alone even form a thought.

“He won’t do anything to you,” Zack quickly spoke up while wrapping his strong arms around the other. “Don’t worry about that. I didn’t mean to scare you, I just wanted to make sure you kept your distance from him. He seems overly interested, I don’t want him to get the wrong idea.”

Wrapping his arms around Zack he shook his head, “but he’s the Shogun, so what could I-”

“You’re the Chamberlain’s son. He can’t do anything forcefully since your family is of that status.” Zack explained softly while squeezing Cloud tighter, “just avoid him and he’ll get the hint. Okay? It’s fine.”

Now that Zack had enlightened him about this, he supposed he could see the signs. The way that Hojo was smiling at him the first time they met, he got a weird vibe from it but just dismissed it. Then the way he held his hand briefly when he took his sketch book from him. And also the week before when he was in the meeting room…the way Angeal broke in…

Cloud, you should be leaving now though right? Don‘t you have lessons today?

Did Angeal know? Did he perhaps get the feeling that Hojo was eyeing him in some way and was trying to get Cloud to quickly exit? He wouldn’t doubt it. If a lot of people knew about the Shogun then he supposed it would be easy to pick up on.

A shiver went through him as he thought about how the man was probably thinking of him. He didn’t want him to look at him anymore, or smile at him now that he knew he probably had some ulterior motive. Was he just hoping to lure him in? And just how many boys had he brought to his bed? He definitely wasn’t going to be one of them!

“You’re shaking,” Zack spoke gently, “are you cold?”

“A little,” Cloud lied. He wasn’t cold at all, but he didn’t want Zack to know that he was so freaked out about the information. It probably wasn’t a big deal, the Shogun would eye him for a while and then move on once he realized Cloud wasn’t interested.

Zack knew that Cloud was lying about being cold. After all it was spring and it was pretty warm out. But he wouldn’t say anything, he didn’t want to embarrass him.

Leaning down he placed a kiss on the boys cheek before speaking into his ear.

“It’s really alright. You know I would never let anything happen,” Zack whispered before following up with another kiss.

And that comment helped Cloud calm down a lot. Because ever since they were kids Zack had always looked out for him, been his protector. And it was that feeling of security that made him happy.

Zack was the only one whose arms he wanted to be in. Nobody else’s. No matter what.


A/N: And here is chapter 2! Slowly brining in different people who will start to tie into the story later. Wanted to focus this chap on ZackxCloud and their closeness, and the Shogun's budding interest in Cloud! And yea it's Hojo, lol I had to pick a character that would make people squirm at the thought of being with Cloud. If it was Sephiroth or something, I wouldn't get the same reaction! Lol. Anyways, thanks for the reviews everyone, they mean a lot! Will post chap 3 soon!

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