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.
So please don’t sue.

 

 

            Sneezing
again Cloud let out a groan before pulling the blanket up higher and nuzzling
against his pillow. His throat was scratchy and he kept going from hot to cold
and his nose didn’t seem like it would ever stop running. He hated being sick,
especially when there was so much he had to do. He had been out of lessons for
a few days and even though he was trying to keep up with his work he hadn’t
done too much of it at all, and he knew his dad wouldn’t be too thrilled about
that.

            “Sweetie,”
Natsumi began while sliding open his bedroom door and carrying a small tray
containing miso soup and hot tea. “You need to eat something.”

            Turning in
his bed he looked over to his mom as she set the tray down on his bedside
table. “How are you feeling?” She continued with a concerned look while placing
her hand on his forehead.

            “The same,”
Cloud mumbled while pulling himself up to a sitting position, “can you pass me
my notebook? I need to finish up my assignment.”

            “Don’t
worry about that,” Natsumi scolded with a shake of her head and holding out the
cup of tea towards him, “the only thing you need to worry about right now is
getting better. So finish this up here and rest okay?”

            Taking the
cup of tea Cloud gave a small nod as he took a sip. Natsumi gave a sweet smile
before ruffling his hair slightly and looking across the room to his book case.

            “Do you
want your sketchbook?” She asked while moving from his side and already making
her way to the opposite side of the room.

            “Sure,”
Cloud answered while setting down his cup. He figured if his mom was telling
him not to worry about his lesson work then he could work on some of his
sketches at least.

            After
retrieving the book Natsumi made her way back towards the other and gently set
the book on the bed beside him. “Only use this once you’re done eating,” she
began while giving him a stern look, “I know your throat is sore but you have
to eat at least this okay?”

            “I will,”
Cloud replied quickly, “thanks mom.”

            “I’ll check
on you in a few,” Natsumi began before leaning down to place a kiss on top of
blond spikes and then she was exiting the room.

            Letting out
a sigh Cloud reached over and picked up the small bowl of soup before carefully
placing a spoonful of it into his mouth. Even though it was a little
uncomfortable to eat, it was actually pretty soothing since it was hot. It
didn’t take him too long to finish the soup and he had just picked up his
sketchbook and flipped it open to a blank page before a knock came at his door.

            “Come in,”
Cloud spoke softly, hoping that whoever it was on the other side had heard him
with his scratchy, low voice. But it seemed as if they did since the door slid
open shortly after.

            “Hey,”
Zack’s voice announced as he poked his head in giving the other a smile.

            “Zack,”
Cloud began before coughing slightly a few times.

            The Samurai
gave his boyfriend a sympathetic look before entering the room and sliding the
door closed behind him.

            “How you
feeling?” He asked while crossing the room to take a seat on the bed next to
Cloud.

            “I could be
better,” Cloud replied with a weak smile.

            “I know,”
Zack began softly while pulling the blond into his arms and gently rubbing his
back comfortingly, “is there anything I can do?”

            Relaxing
against the other Cloud placed his head on Zack’s shoulder. Since he had gotten
sick a few days ago Zack had come over every night after he was free of his
duties to check on Cloud. Even though Cloud insisted that he should stay away
because he didn’t want to get him sick, but Zack quickly dismissed that and
continued to come. Not only that, but he continued to hold and kiss him.
Although it wasn’t exactly surprising to Cloud, even when they were kids Zack
would come around when Cloud was sick. And when Natsumi would try to shoo Zack
away when he was little Zack would only put on his best puppy look and tell her
that he wanted to stay with Cloud. So after that Natsumi had sort of just given
in and allowed Zack to hang around. And it didn’t look like that had changed
even now.

            “Just stay
here with me?” Cloud asked while shifting beside the other.

            “I can do
that,” Zack replied while placing a kiss on Cloud’s cheek.

            Pulling
away slightly Cloud reached for his cup of tea before looking back towards
Zack.

            “How was
your day?” He asked while trying to clear his throat of its raspy tone.

            Leaning
back on his hands Zack tilted his head, “Long,” he started while letting his
gaze drift away briefly.

            “Yeah?” Cloud asked while sipping his drink, urging his
boyfriend to elaborate.

            “Mm,” Zack
began while letting his gaze shift back towards Cloud. Hesitating briefly he
took in a breath before continuing on. “Cloud?”

            Lifting an
eyebrow Cloud kept his eyes on Zack as the other leaned forward once more.

            “Everything’s
been okay right?” Zack asked while searching blue eyes, “I mean…with the
Shogun?”

            Cloud eyes
widened briefly and he turned to set his cup of tea back on the nightstand. He
hadn’t been expecting that question. They hadn’t talked about the Shogun since
Zack had returned from his last assignment, and even then it was just for a
moment. And the note that Elena had delivered from the Shogun a few weeks ago,
well…Cloud hadn’t mentioned it to Zack. True when he first read it he had been
so shook up about it and wanted to tell Zack, but when his boyfriend came back
that night from the conference in such good spirits because of the days
events…well, he just didn’t want to ruin that. That had been their day. And it wouldn’t be right or
fair to mess that up. He just wanted to keep up the good atmosphere. He told
himself he would tell Zack later, but day after day went by and he had decided
to just forget it.

            “Yeah,
everything’s been fine,” Cloud replied quietly while turning to look back at
Zack.

            Zack didn’t
say anything as he stared into Cloud’s eyes, trying to read them in their
honesty and sincerity. However Cloud broke their gaze as he glanced down
towards the covers.

            “Why do you
ask?” Cloud continued.

            “Just
curious,” Zack replied while reaching out and caressing the boy’s cheek, “sorry
to bring it up.”

            Cloud just
shook his head before moving forward while Zack instantly pulled him back into
his arms. Cloud shifted a little so that his back was resting against Zack’s
chest and he reached out across the bed to pick up his sketchbook.

            “Want to
see the new ones?” He asked with a sniffle.

            “Of
course,” Zack answered while resting his chin on top of blond spikes. He
watched as Cloud flipped through the pages in his sketchbook all the while his
mind wandering. He knew Cloud was lying to him, he could always tell when he
was. And the fact that he couldn’t hold his gaze when he had questioned him a
moment ago was his proof of that. Of what he was hiding Zack wasn’t sure, but
he knew it was something. And he hated the idea that Cloud was keeping secrets
from him. A part of him wanted to push the issue, try to get Cloud to spill
whatever it was. But he thought since his boyfriend wasn’t feeling well that he
shouldn’t aggravate him, but he was going to find out somehow what it was even
if Cloud didn’t tell him himself.

            “I haven’t
seen this one,” Zack spoke up while reaching out to stop Cloud from turning the
page.

            “What are
you talking about I did that one a long time ago,” Cloud replied with a cough.

            “Well you
didn’t show me,” Zack answered, playfully sounding a bit hurt.

            “I’m sure I
did,” Cloud replied, “you just forgot.”

            “I would
never forget,” Zack started before nipping at the blonds’ ear causing him to
laugh and trying to pull away a bit, but Zack only tightened his arms around
him.

            “Yeah
yeah,” Cloud continued with a small smile. He was trying to act normal even
though he was a little worried now. Why did Zack ask him about the Shogun? Did
he know something? He knew he wasn’t going to be able to let that go now that
it had come up, and he was sure Zack knew he was keeping something from him.
Zack had always been able to read him. But since Zack wasn’t pushing it Cloud
would let it go for the time being.

xxx

 

 

            “I’m so
glad you came back today! I was getting lonely without you in lessons,” Aerith
beamed as they walked through the cool halls of the castle.

            “Yeah, I
sort of had to come back,” Cloud replied while clearing his throat slightly.
True he was feeling tons better than he had been a couple days ago, but he
still felt a little sick. However his dad had insisted that he resume his
lessons before he fell too far behind. But he guessed he couldn’t really blame
him, he didn’t want to be tied down with too much work from missing so much, so
he knew he had to go back as well.

            “Sorry,”
Aerith began with a comforting smile and patting her friend on the shoulder.
“If you want later we can go to the Kisiragi Tea House! The soup there is the
perfect cure ya know!”

            Nodding
briefly Cloud thought it over. He actually wouldn’t mind getting out of this
place for awhile, since he had been sick he had been confined to his room, some
fresh air would do him some good.

            “That
sounds good,” he answered and Aerith lit up.

            “Great!”
She began, “well let’s just drop our things off and head out. We can make it
for a late lunch.”

            They
decided to split up at that point to go to their homes and discard their items
and then they were to meet up at the entrance gate. Cloud had made it to the
entrance relatively quickly but Aerith wasn’t there yet. He looked around at
his surroundings as he waited, watching as people stepped out of the castle
making their way into town or venturing around to head towards the courtyard. A
few people he recognized and within making eye contact with them he gave a
brief bow. Most of them he knew from the dinners that his father dragged him
to, but names….he couldn’t remember for the life of him.

            “Well look
who it is,” a voice spoke up from behind him causing him to spin around. He was
met with a smirk and firey red hair before the other
ruffled his hair. “I heard you were sick, feeling better?”

            “Still a
little sick, but much better,” Cloud replied while batting away Reno’s hand.

            “Good to
know,” Reno
began while placing his hands on his hips and looking around, “where’s Zack,
he’s not with you?”

            “No,” Cloud
spoke with a short cough, “he’s working I’m sure.” The question didn’t surprise
him at all, whenever he saw Reno
his friend always asked where Zack was. It was almost as if he always expected
Zack to be near if Cloud was present. It was sort of something that had stuck
since they were all kids.

            “Yeah,” Reno started
absentmindedly before shifting green eyes back to the small blond, “well what
are you doing just hanging around here then?”

            “Waiting for
Aerith, we’re going to the Kisiragi teahouse,” Cloud explained, “do you want to
come?”

            “That does
sound good,” Reno
spoke with a sigh, “but I’ve got work to do.”

            Cloud
nodded in understanding before sneezing and turning his head away.

            “Geez kid
you sure you should be going out?” Reno
asked while placing his hand on Cloud’s forehead.

            “I’m fine,”
Cloud replied as he met Reno’s
concerned gaze.

            “Well…you
don’t really feel hot so I guess it’s okay,” he
continued while pulling his hand away.

            Cloud gave
a small smile as he listened to Reno.
His friend had sort of become the older brother that he never had. He was
always looking out for him, teasing him and playing tricks on him…but
nevertheless concerned about him.

            “Sorry I
took so long!” Aerith’s voice broke in as she approached the two, “my mom gave
me a list of things she wanted me to pick up while in town.”

            “It’s
alright I haven’t been here long,” Cloud explained before Aerith gave a wide
smile and turned her focus to Reno.

            “Are you
coming with us?” She asked.

            “No
unfortunately,” he replied while shifting his eyes back towards the entrance,
“In fact I have a conference that I should’ve been in already so I better go.”

            “See you,”
Cloud began before Reno
bopped him on the head once more.

            “Stay out
of trouble kids,” he spoke once more before heading inside the castle entrance.

            Aerith let
out a giggle before shaking her head and beginning to walk away with Cloud at
her side.

            “Just like Reno to be late,” Aerith
said in amusement while running a hand through her hair. “Oh! I meant to ask
him if he was going to the dinner coming up.”

            “Reno never goes to the
dinners,” Cloud replied while glancing at Aerith, she knew that.

            “Oh I know,
but this isn’t like a usual dinner. It’s not an all resident;
it’s like just for some of the officials and their families I guess. You’re
parents didn’t mention it?”

            Cloud
simply shook his head and Aerith continued.

            “Well I
don’t know if it’s for all the officials but something like that,” she said
with a laugh. “My dad was telling me about it. I just wondered if there would
be anyone there I would know.”

            “If it’s
something more important he may have to go then,” Cloud suggested with a shrug.

            “Possibly,
I was just curious,” Aerith began before looking towards the ground at her
sandals. “I was thinking of asking Zack though. To come with me. Do you think
he would?”

            Quickly
ceasing his walk Cloud stared at the girl. What did she just say? She wanted to
ask Zack to this official’s dinner….like a…date?

            Stopping
Aerith turned to look at her friend giving him a bit of an odd look. “Cloud?”

            “Um,” Cloud
began while dropping his gaze briefly, “you want to ask Zack?”

            Aerith
started to blush and she began to twirl her hair around her finger, something
she seemed to do when she was flustered.

            “Well
yeah,” she started, “I mean he always goes to the resident dinners you know?
And he seems to enjoy himself there. So, he’s already to use to going to these
types of things. And it would be nice to have him there…I have fun at those
things when he’s around.”

            Cloud
didn’t like what he was hearing. He had already figured out long ago that
Aerith had some crush on Zack, but now that she…was actually trying to do
something about said crush, he didn’t know what to do. What to say. No, what
could he do? What could he say? Aerith didn’t know about him and Zack so he
couldn’t just quite say “well that’s my boyfriend so I don’t think you two
going on a date would be a good idea.” There wasn’t anything he could say to
defend his place at Zack’s side without letting out their secret, but…

            “I
don’t…know,” Cloud began uneasily, “I mean he may be busy with something.”

            Aerith
nodded before continuing on, “I thought about that too but Angeal is going. And
usually if Angeal is available so is Zack, they seem to work together a lot.”

            “Maybe,”
Cloud replied softly.

            “I should
just…ask him later tonight right?” Aerith asked with a laugh, “I mean, it shouldn’t be a big deal.”

            Cloud felt
his stomach drop. No, no, no. He didn’t like this. But, was he just being
paranoid? Was Aerith just wanting to go as friends?
No, no of course not! The way she was acting, the way she would blush whenever
Zack’s name was mentioned, Cloud wasn’t stupid. But he had to hear it from her
personally…

            “Aerith,”
he started carefully, “do you…” he trailed off briefly before turning blue eyes
back to green. “Do you like…Zack?”

            “What!?”
Aerith asked as her green eyes widened, “Cloud why would you ask that. Zack is
my friend; we’ve known each other for years! He’s my friend…” letting out a
sigh she continued, “but…okay.” She paused for a long time before nodding her
head, “Yeah…I really do. It’s just because we’re friends it’s hard to tell him
you know?”

            Cloud
didn’t say anything, he couldn’t say anything. So he simply stared as his heart
beat quickly within his chest.

            “Please
don’t say anything to him? You’re my friend so I can tell you but…I want to
tell him myself…eventually,” she finished with a laugh. “So please? I know he’s
your best friend and you two tell each other everything but…just keep this one
thing from him.”

            And there
it was. The words that Cloud had already known to be true, but hearing them
said aloud seemed to somehow cut deeper, now that he had to accept that it
really was a reality. He didn’t say anything for a moment as he tried to regain
his composure.

            “Okay,” he
spoke quietly. His voice sounding different even to him, but he hoped that
Aerith would just figure it was because he was sick. And it seemed she did
because she gave him a wide smile before saying thanks and then she was pulling
him along back on their walk into town. She started to ramble on about other
things, but Cloud didn’t hear any of it at all.

             

xxx

 

            He
should’ve known that at the first signs of feeling better that his father would
drag him out to some resident event. Even if he was feeling better he really
didn’t feel like being around a whole bunch of people. Not to mention his mood
was sort of off considering the days events. He
couldn’t help but to keep replaying his conversation with Aerith earlier in the
day. After that when they had gone into town it all seemed to be a blur, the
only thing he remembered was that confession.

            ‘Why Zack?’ He asked himself. There was so many other
different people who Aerith could’ve developed a crush on, and yet still
somehow someway she had to fall for Zack. It made his stomach upset just to
think about.

            “Cloud eat
your rice,” Natsumi began while pushing his bowl closer towards him, “you’re
still recovering you need your energy.”

            “Mom I’m
just not that hungry, I had a big lunch today,” Cloud explained while giving
his mom a pleading look.

            “Fine
fine,” she replied with a wave of her hand before looking past Cloud from their
table and giving a wide smile. “Hi sweetie!”

            Cloud
didn’t even need to turn around to know who it was that was there. There was
only one person who his mom called sweetie besides him.

            “Hi Auntie!” Zack beamed while taking a seat beside Cloud,
“mind if I sit here? I’m starving!”

            “I bet you
are,” Natsumi replied while already preparing a plate for the Samurai.

            Looking
beside him Cloud was met with Zack’s wide grin and he couldn’t help but to
smile back even if he had been in a down mood before.

            “I wasn’t
expecting to see you here,” Cloud spoke just as Natsumi set Zack’s dish before
him.

            “Well I
wasn’t but Angeal thought we should at least make an appearance. I was actually
going to head to your place,” Zack explained while picking up his chopsticks,
“good thing I didn’t though.”

            “Oh, I
better go over there with your father,” Natsumi began while looking over to
Saito who was currently talking to some people. “Zack maybe you can get Cloud
to eat something huh? He won’t listen to me,” she finished before tapping Cloud
on the head and then making her way across the room.

            “You’re not
hungry?” Zack asked while stuffing a bite of Sashimi into his mouth.

            “No, I ate
a lot earlier today. I went out with Aerith to the Kisraragi teahouse,” Cloud
explained with a sigh.

            “What? And
I wasn’t invited?” Zack asked jokingly while setting down his chopsticks.

            Letting out
a small laugh Cloud shifted just a bit closer to the other before gently laying
his head on his shoulder. That was safe to do, everyone knew he wasn’t feeling
too well and wouldn’t think much of this small gesture. And even if they did cast
a second look, at that moment Cloud didn’t really care.

            It didn’t
seem as if Zack was worried about it at all and he lifted a hand to run through
Cloud’s hair briefly.

            “How you
feeling?” He asked softly.

            “Okay I
guess,” Cloud replied just as softly. True he was feeling much better when it
came to his cold, but…not with this latest matter.

            “You
guess?” Zack asked while turning his head slightly to look at wild blonde
spikes that were resting on his shoulder. “Do you want to go back home? I can
take you back if you still don’t feel too good.”

            Sighing
Cloud lifted his head and looked towards his boyfriend, “I can’t. Since I was
out all day my dad insisted that if I was feeling so well to go out then that I
would be well enough to attend this.”

            “Even so,”
Zack started with a frown but Cloud just shook his head, letting him know it
was alright. But apparently Zack was having none of it and within a second he
was standing up from the table and gesturing for Cloud to do the same. “Let’s
go.”

            “Zack it’s o-”

            “Okay?”
Zack finished while raising an eyebrow, “Cloud if you’re not feeling well you
shouldn’t be here. Your dad will just have to understand that. Come on.”

            When Zack
had his mind set on something Cloud had found out that arguing about it didn’t
really get him anywhere. And besides, he really didn’t feel like being at this dinner anyways. So pulling himself
up to his feet he followed Zack as they made their way out of the dinner hall,
but not before telling Natsumi that they were leaving. She didn’t mind that
Cloud was leaving and told him that she would make up some excuse to tell Saito
seeing as how he wasn’t around at the moment. But before they could get fully
out of the dinner hall they ran into Aerith as she was on her way in.

            “Oh hey!” She beamed at the two, a wide smile on her face.

            “Hey
Aerith,” Zack replied, returning the smile as Cloud simply gave a nod of
acknowledgement.

            “I’m glad
you’re both here,” she began before shifting her gaze to Cloud, “especially you
Cloud, I thought for sure you wouldn’t be feeling up to coming out tonight.”

            “Well I
didn’t really have a choice,” Cloud spoke softly before glancing back into the
dinner hall at his father who was still engaged in conversation.

            “Oh yeah I
should’ve figured,” she spoke with a laugh before clasping her hands together
and directing her focus back towards Zack. “Good thing you’re here I wanted to
talk to you about something.”

            “Oh,” Zack
began with a blink of his yes, “actually we weren’t staying, we
were on our way out just now.”

            “What?”
Aerith asked as her face fell a little, “Why?”

            “Well I
really wasn’t planning to stay too long, just needed to make an appearance,”
Zack started before glancing towards Cloud, “and he’s still not feeling too
well.”

            “Oh I see,”
Aerith replied with a nod. She kept a smile on her face but it wasn’t nearly as
bright as before and Cloud could sense her disappointment.

            “What did
you need to talk to me about?” Zack asked.

            “Oh,”
Aerith started before waving her hands, “I can talk to you about that later. I
better go inside before my parents start to wonder where I’m at anyways. I’ll
see you two later!”

            She barely
waited for them to say their goodbyes to her before she had disappeared further
into the dinner hall, making her way over to her family’s table. Cloud kept his
gaze on her a moment longer before he started to follow after Zack back towards
his quarters. He was only partially aware of the conversation between he and Zack on the way back. He responded to the Samurai’s
comments but he kept them short and to the point. It was hard to really focus
on anything else when he knew what Aerith wanted to talk to Zack about? Was he
making too big of a deal of it? But then again, how was he supposed to react
after finding out that his friend had a crush on his boyfriend, and potentially
wanted him to go out with her on some type of date?

            He didn’t
really realize that they had already made it back to his home until he was
stepping into the place and sliding the door closed behind him. He listened to
the bell on Tama’s neck tinkle as she ran up and greeted him and Zack at the
door. Zack had already stooped down to shower the cat with attention as Cloud
moved into the kitchen to start some tea. Once he was done he entered into the
living room where Zack now was and took a seat at the small table, setting the
teapot down and two cups. He poured some for both he and Zack and placed it
back down on the table.

            “Thank
you,” Zack spoke up while reaching for his cup after gently moving Tama from
off of his lap.

            Cloud gave
a nod as he carefully sipped the hot liquid, relishing how good it felt coating
his still slightly sore throat.

            “Do you
think you’ll see Aerith tomorrow?” He asked while setting down the cup, however
still keeping his eyes fixated on it.

            “Hmm?” Zack
asked while peering over his teacup at the other.

            “Aerith,”
Cloud started, “she said she wanted to talk with you.”

            “I don’t
know. I may not be here tomorrow until evening so more than likely I won’t see
her,” Zack explained while giving Cloud a curious look.

            Aerith may
have asked Cloud not to say anything to Zack…but really? There was no way he
could keep this from Zack, not when it was eating at him so badly like this.

            “I know
what she wants to talk to you about,” Cloud quickly blurted before finally raising
his gaze to meet Zack’s.

            Reaching
forward to set down his cup Zack raised his eyebrows, “and that is?”

            Scratching
at his head briefly Cloud let out a sigh, “apparently there is some conference
dinner or something with only the officials…or some of the officials and their
families or something like that. But she wants to ask you if you’ll go with
her.”

            “Me?” Zack
asked while sitting back slightly, “why, I wouldn’t be able to attend anyways
if it’s just for the officials.”

            “Not if you
go with her,” Cloud responded instantly before a frown settled on his face.
“Besides that’s not the point…would you go with her?”

            Pausing
briefly Zack studied the look on his boyfriends face. He suddenly didn’t look
too happy and Zack realized just why that was.

            “Not if you
don’t want me to,” he answered carefully, “but I think she would just want me
to go so she wouldn’t be the only person around her age there.”

            “No Zack!”
Cloud cried, startling Tama who had come to lie beside him recently. “She likes
you! I told you that already, it’s a date!”

            “Cloud I
don’t think it’s a date. I mean a conference?” Zack explained calmly, trying to
calm down the blond.

            Balling his
hands into fist Cloud looked away. Why did Zack always have to try to
rationalize things? When it came to their friends he supposed it was only
natural, and then again Zack was just too nice for his own good sometimes. But
Cloud was serious about this! And the fact that Zack was so calm about it while
he was getting upset only made it worse.

            “It is!”
Cloud shot back, “she likes you! She told me so herself today, and she told me
not to tell you because she wanted to tell you when she was ready.”

            There was a
brief moment of silence before Cloud shook his head, preparing to get up from
his seat.

            “It’s fine, go with her if you want,” he mumbled before Zack
reached out to grab hold of his wrist.

            “Cloud I
won’t go, I told you that already,” Zack said while looking into blue eyes.

            “I don’t
want you not to because I said so,”
Cloud replied before running a hand over his face. “It’s
fine…just forget
it,” he began while pulling his arm away from Zack.
“It’s been a long day and I still don’t feel too well, I think I’m just going
to go to bed.”

            He didn’t
wait for Zack to reply and instead just got up to his feet and walked down the
hallway into his bedroom. He slid the door closed behind without hesitation
before moving over to his bed and pulling back the covers.

            “Cloud?” Zack’s voice called through the door before it
quietly slid open.

            “You can
go, I’ll see you later,” Cloud replied just as he had sat down on the bed.

            Closing the
door behind him Zack stepped into the room and walked over towards the bed.

            “Why are
you getting so upset up with me?” Zack asked quietly while taking a seat on the
bed cautiously, “I won’t go with Aerith, it’s not even a question. And I won’t
because I don’t want to give her the
wrong idea. Not just because you don’t want me to.”

            Letting out
a sigh Cloud shook his head. “I’m not upset with you Zack…just the situation,”
he explained as best as he could. “It’s just…she told me she liked you and
there wasn’t anything I could say to
that you know? I couldn’t tell her that you’re taken.”

            A look of
understanding crossed over Zack’s features and he automatically reached out to
place his arms around the other. Cloud quickly melted into the embrace and held
on tightly to his boyfriend.

            “It’s just
so…frustrating,” Cloud continued while burying his face in Zack’s chest. It
wasn’t fair. He loved Zack, he was with Zack. He should be able to
say that to everyone without repercussions, he shouldn’t have to hide it…and he
shouldn’t be afraid to lose it, but he was.

            “I know,”
Zack whispered while running his hand through blond spikes and tightening his
hold on Cloud.

            “Zack it’s
not just this,” Cloud started, “it’s just it made me realize. You’re a Samurai,
and for your age you’re already so respected. It’s not going to be long before
the girls are going to start lining up for you, you can’t dodge that forever.”

            “Cloud,”
Zack began firmly, “you don’t have to worry about that.”

            “Yeah I
do,” Cloud replied, obviously not convinced with Zack’s answer. “I feel like I’m
going to lose you somehow. If not because of Aerith then because of…”

            “Because of?” Zack asked while pulling away to look into
Cloud’s face. But the boy wouldn’t meet his gaze and instantly moved back into
hug Zack, not wanting to separate from him for a moment.

            “Cloud
you’re not going to lose me,” Zack continued softly while running his hand up
and down Cloud’s back soothingly. “You have to trust me okay? Nothing is going
to come between us. Ever. Understand? It’s you and me always.”

            The only
thing Cloud did after that was hold onto Zack tighter. The Samurai didn’t know
what he could do, or say to make Cloud believe him. He had this notion that
they were going to be pulled apart ever since he had moved into the castle. And
while Zack thought that it would fade away after sometime it had remained a key
element in their relationship and Cloud would always worry about it. No matter
how much Zack tried to tell him otherwise, it was as if it wasn’t enough to
make Cloud believe him. Girls flirted with him all the time, but Zack wasn’t
interested. He was polite but never gave them anything else that would make them
think he was interested. And Aerith? She was his
friend, he didn’t think of her in such a way. And if she did admit her feelings
for him ever, well, he would just refuse her in the nicest way he could and try
not to hurt her feelings too much. But no matter what, or who came his way….he wouldn’t
be budged. He had all he needed right here in his arms. If only Cloud could
trust him on this.

           

 

xxx

 

           


            “Dad?” Cloud asked while stepping into the apparently empty
meeting hall. His dad had told him to meet him here after lessons because he needed
him to go with him into town for some things. Maybe he wanted him to run
errands as punishment for bailing out on the dinner early the night before. He
didn’t know if he was early or late, but he figured he must’ve came to late seeing as how nobody seemed to be present any
longer.

            “Great,” he
mumbled quietly. Now his dad was probably going to be even more upset with him.
He decided he should probably head back home and see if his dad was there
waiting for him. But just before he was going to head out the door two people
stepped in. He paused briefly as he stared at the two and the blond woman gave
him a smirk before turning to the man.

            “I’ll go
check on the preparations for this evening,” Elena spoke up before bowing and
making her exit.

            “Cloud, I’m
glad to see you. Your father told me that you had been feeling ill recently,”
Hojo spoke while raking his eyes over the blond before him.

            “Yes your
Excellency,” Cloud began with a bow, casting his eyes downward once he saw the
man’s eyes trailing over him. “But I’m much better now.”

            “Good,” the
Shogun replied with a smile, “I’ve been away on business myself so my time has
been limited. However, I was looking forward to seeing you.”

            Pausing
momentarily Cloud carefully lifted his eyes to meet the Shogun’s. He noticed a
certain glint in his eye, one that made him uneasy and he averted his gaze once
again. How was he supposed to respond to that?

            “I assume
you received the note that I had Elena deliver to you a few weeks back?” The
man asked with a slight tilt of his head.

            “I did,
yes,” Cloud replied while biting his lip. This wasn’t really a topic that he
wanted to discuss, however he knew it was inevitable. While he may have been
able to dodge it for the past couple of weeks it didn’t mean that it had gone
away.

            “Then shall
we set aside some time for us to get together?” Hojo asked while crossing the
short distance between them until he was standing in front of the other, gazing
down at him with a curious look.

            “I can’t,”
Cloud quickly responded, still keeping his eyes downward. If he went with the
Shogun again there was no doubt in his mind that the man would stop his
advances, and Angeal wouldn’t come to his aid this time.
No, this time he would be on his own with nowhere to turn.

            “And why is
that?” Hojo asked calmly, reaching out his hand to run through soft golden
hair.

            Cloud felt
himself flinch inwardly but he tried to remain neutral on the outside.
Carefully he took a step back before looking up towards the man who now had a
bit of a frown on his face.

            “Your
Excellency I don’t think,” he started with a shake of
his head, “I just believe your interest is misguided.”

            Hojo
actually let out a laugh at this which caught Cloud by surprise.

            “Cloud,”
the man began while adjusting his glasses, “trust me. That is certainly not the
case.”

            “I just,”
Cloud started softly before Hojo took another step forward and placed his
finger under the boys chin, tipping his head up slightly.

            “Cloud,”
Hojo spoke while letting out a quiet sigh, “this chase was fun while it lasted,
but it’s grown old already.”  Slipping his arm around the others waist he
pulled him closer towards him so that they were pressed firmly against each
other. “There isn’t much you can contest to.”

            That wasn’t
what Cloud wanted to hear. Even if he knew that that was true, it still was
something he didn’t want to fully admit. Hojo was the Shogun, and if he tried
to oppose him the man could make things really bad for him and his family.
There was no limit to what he could do. And Cloud was just a kid, the son of
the Chamberlain but that hardly mattered it seemed.

            “Does your
father enjoy his position as Chamberlain?” Hojo asked while letting his hand
travel up the younger one’s back.

            “Very much
so,” Cloud replied while turning wary eyes to the man, all the while trying not
to squirm from the subtle and yet prominent touch of fingertips
moving
up his back.

            “So if he
were to say…be replaced, would that not be a good thing?” Hojo continued while
keeping his gaze firmly on Cloud.

            “What!?”
Cloud practically shrieked while pulling away abruptly from the man’s grip. “Of
course that wouldn’t be good, my dad has done so much to obtain his position.
He can’t just be replaced so casually.”

            “It
wouldn’t be hard for me to find another Chamberlain, there are many others who
would jump at the chance,” Hojo explained calmly.

            Cloud’s
stomach dropped from that comment. What was the Shogun thinking!? To demote his
father would be to disgrace him and their family and there would be no fixing
that. His father was a very proud man, and he knew something like that would
crush him. Not to mention everything he had worked so hard for would be for
nothing. Hojo couldn’t do that, could he? Titles aside, he wouldn’t be so mean
as to actually take away his fathers position would he?

            “Please
don’t” Cloud quickly spoke while shaking his head, “my father is a good asset
to the council. You know he is. Please, it would hurt my family too much.”

            “Hmm,” Hojo
mused as a smirk appeared on his features, “I can see it’s just as important to
you as it would be to your father.”

            “It is,”
Cloud spoke softly.

            “So say I
allow him to keep his position, without ever being in jeopardy of losing it. Is
there any benefit to me?” The Shogun asked while narrowing his eyes at the
other.

            From the look
on the others face Cloud clearly knew what the man was suggesting and he felt
his world become a little darker. What could he do to get out of this? Nothing. That was what. Because not only could he not defy
the Shogun, but he couldn’t allow his father’s position to be taken away
because of him. That wasn’t even an option. So he really had no choice in the
matter of what he was about to do.

            “I’ll
do…whatever you want,” Cloud whispered, feeling the tears of frustration begin
to sting his eyes.

            “Will you?”
The man asked again, taking a step closer as his eyes lit up with what appeared
to be amusement.

            Nodding was
the only thing he could do, he couldn’t bring himself
to speak those words again. “If my father’s position remains safe,” he added as
sternly as he could.

            Without
warning Hojo leaned down and pressed a kiss against Cloud’s lips, causing him
to stiffen. And as much as he wanted to push the man away…he knew that now he
couldn’t. He had pretty much just signed his fate in blood, and there wasn’t anything
he could do but accept it.

            “Don’t
worry Cloud; Chamberlain Saito’s position will remain secure.”      

 

           

           

           

 

           

           

           

           

           

           






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