No compensation necessary

BY : Cynthia
Category: Final Fantasy VII > General
Dragon prints: 725
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy and all characters are the property of Square Enix. I do not profit from this fanfiction, itís for entertainment purposes only.

"No compensation necessary"

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Author's note:  I really couldn't tell you where this plotbunny came from.  Maybe it crawled out of Angeal's pants. 

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(Warning: Possible spoilers for all FF7 game/movie titles)

*Disclaimer:  Final Fantasy and all related characters belong to Square-Enix.  This fiction piece is strictly a non-profit exercise of creativity and entertainment for people (like me) who can’t get enough of this world and the characters.* 

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            Zack took a seat at the cafeteria table next to his friend Kunsel.  He gave the other recruit a nod and a smile as he snapped open his vitamin package and opened his juice box.  "How's it going, Kunsel?"

            For once, the SOLDIER 2nd Class had his helmet off and his light brown hair was tousled.  He nodded as he finished chewing and swallowing a bite of his burger.  "Not bad, Zack.  I've got field duty at 1400 hours.  I hear they've started you on Mako treatments?"

            "Yeah," answered Zack.  He popped his vitamins into his mouth and washed them down with his apple juice.  "I just had my second treatment today.  They've got me on these supplements, because they say the treatments can cause deficiencies in some people."

            "I heard that, too."  Kunsel took a sip of his soda and regarded Zack with mildly curious, hazel eyes.  "You're lucky, I guess.  Most 2nds have to do more training and testing before they get approved for the treatment."

            Zack grimaced, feeling a little bad for his success.  "They'll pick you too, some day."

            Kunsel shrugged, seeming unconcerned.  "I'm really not in a hurry, to be honest.  Some people have what it takes to rise fast through the ranks—like you.  The rest of us are more suited to the lower ranks and minor stuff."

            Zack shook his head and shook a little salt and pepper onto his veggies.  He wasn't impressed with the meal he'd been issued, but they were monitoring his diet closely now that he'd begun treatments and he was only allowed to eat doctor prescribed meals, to ensure balanced nutrition.  He tried not to eyeball his friend's hamburger and fries too enviously as he seasoned his bland selection of greens, lean ham and a hard-boiled egg. 

            "You know more about this place and the people who work here than anyone I've met so far," Zack reminded Kunsel.  "No joke...not even my instructor knows some of the stuff you do!"

            "Meh, I'm the average guy nobody pays attention to," answered Kunsel with a grin.  He patted Zack on the shoulder.  "Think of me as your eyes and ears, pal.  Weird shit can happen around here and if you're going to the top, you need someone that can tell it to you straight."

            Zack was about to ask him what exactly he meant by that, when the other boy looked at the cafeteria entry and pointed with his burger.  "Hey, isn't that your mentor there now?"

            Zack immediately followed the motion and he nodded, grinning eagerly when he saw Angeal enter the cafeteria and head for the buffet.  He forgot all about his food and he excused himself from Kunsel's presence before he got up to meet the tall SOLDIER officer.  Angeal was built like a brick shithouse—muscular and towering over most other operatives at an impressive 6'5".  He had handsome, chiseled features and he sported a short-trimmed beard growth on his chin.  He noticed Zack approaching and he paused in selecting his lunch to regard the younger man with quiet blue eyes. 

            "Zack," Angeal greeted, his features relaxing into a reserved smile.  "How are you taking to your Mako treatments?"

            "Not bad," answered the 2nd, eager to please his mentor.  "I get a little tingly in my fingers and toes after each treatment, but they said that's a normal reaction for some people."

            "No vomiting?" prompted Angeal, looking at him sidelong as he took a buttered roll from the food line.

            Zack swallowed.  Now that he mentioned it, he was starting to feel a little pukey.  He wasn't going to tell him that, though.  "Nah, I'm all right."

            Angeal stared at him.  "Unbelievable," murmured the 1st with a rueful little half-smile.  "I've never seen someone get through the first phase without suffering nausea."

            Zack scratched the back of his head and grinned sheepishly.  "I guess I'm just lucky.  I've always had a strong stomach."

            "Well, let's hope it stays that way."  Angeal patted him on the arm.  "You've shown more potential than any recruit I've ever trained, Zack."

            Zack felt his face grow warm with pleasure and felt suddenly awkward and anxious.  "Th-thanks, Angeal.  I'll keep training hard."

            Angeal nodded.  "You do that."

            Zack kept following him as he moved down the line and the older fighter's mouth twitched a little as he regarded him again.  "Was there anything else, Fair?"

            Realizing he was following the man around like a lost puppy, Zack mentally kicked himself and shook his head.  "Uh, no Sir.  I mean, yes.  Um...have you heard anything about your missing friend?"

            Angeal's expression turned stony.  "Genesis?  No."

            Zack deflated, crestfallen.  "Sorry.  Hey, if there's anything I can do...I mean, if you want to talk or something..." He trailed off, feeling stupid and useless.  His nausea was getting worse.         

            Angeal's frown eased and he offered Zack another reserved smile.  "I'll keep that in mind, Zack.  You should go and finish your own lunch."  He nodded at the spot next to Kunsel, where Zack's tray waited untouched.  "You look a little pale and you need to keep your strength up."

            "Right," agreed Zack—though the thought of shoveling any of his lunch into his mouth made his stomach twist.  "I'll go do that."

            "I'll join you," offered Angeal, "after I get my drink."

            Zack smiled happily about that, despite his increasing feeling of disorientation and stomach discomfort.

~***********************************~


 

            Angeal finished his meal first, though he wasn't sloppy about it.  He ate with brisk efficiency, only conversing when asked a direct question.  Kunsel kept respectfully quiet around him, seeming a little intimidated by his presence.  When Angeal bid them both a good day and excused himself to bus his tray, Kunsel chose to initiate further conversation.  Most of the lunch crowd had died out, so he was able to talk without raising his voice.

            "I've got to be honest Zack...I don't know if I want to do the Mako enhancement.  That's why I kind of stick to doing an average job...so I won't get promoted."

            Zack stared at him, confused.  "Okay...so I know you aren't that ambitious, but why would you want to stay where you're at forever, if you've got a chance to move up?  The Mako treatments aren't that bad."

            Kunsel nodded in the direction of Angeal, who had just finished dumping his tray and setting it on the pickup line.  Kunsel leaned closer to Zack, so that there was less chance of someone overhearing.  "I've heard some things about what Mako treatments can do to you, eventually."

            "Like make you super strong?" Zack pressed, shrugging.  "What's wrong with that?  Or are you creeped out by the glowy eyes?"

            Kunsel shook his head.  "No, it's not any of that.  I heard..."  He looked around again before going on.  "I heard some things kind of...shrink...when guys get treated."

            "What kind of...oh, wait...you can't mean..."

            Kunsel nodded urgently.  "Yeah, I do mean.  Come on, Zack...haven't you ever noticed the size of those swords most of the highest-ranking Soldiers carry around?  Sergeant Hewley's blade is like a freaking tree-trunk and that thing the General uses is as tall as he is!  People say they're compensating for something and some of the things I've heard about Mako treatments makes me wonder if they're right."

            "So...you figure it's like steroids?" Zack prompted, frowning.  "You really think Mako shrinks your junk?"

            "Well, it does most of the same things steroids do, doesn't it?  It's just a lot stronger, so I figure the dong shrinkage has to be pretty extreme."

            Now Zack had a lump of dread to go with the feeling of something squirming around in his stomach.  He swallowed and put a hand over his abdomen, narrowly avoiding the urge to cover his groin protectively.  "But...none of my stuff has shrunk.  I'd notice something like that."

            "You've only had two treatments," reminded Kunsel.  He nodded at the men's room, where Angeal was heading.  "How many treatments do you think guys like him and the other officers have had?"

            Zack shook his head in denial.  There was little more disturbing to a virile young man than the thought of his jewels shrinking down to nothing—especially if that young man thought of sex as often as Zack Fair did.

            "Know what?  I'm going to prove that rumor wrong."  Zack scooted his chair back from the table and got up.  "People that say that crap are just jealous."

            Kunsel blinked at him.  "So what...you're just going to go in there and check out Hewley's package?"

            "I've done stupider things."  Zack took a deep breath and willed his stomach to settle.  "Besides, I need to know if there's a chance you're right.  I don't want my shit to shrivel up."

            Kunsel watched with his mouth hanging open as a pale-faced friend stalked into the bathroom behind his mentor with purpose. 

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            Angeal looked up when Zack Fair joined him in the men's room and stepped up to the urinal beside his.  He nodded at the younger man and finished undoing his pants.  He frowned a little as Zack started humming loudly beside him, but he didn't say anything to him.  It was a known fact that Fair wasn't capable of being quiet for more than a few moments at a time. 

            "Sooo," Zack said conversationally, leaning back a little, "Do you do this a lot?"

            Angeal didn't think he could look more puzzled if he tried.  "Do what a lot?  Pee?"

Zack shrugged and nodded.  Angeal wondered if all Gongaga residents were this strange, or if Zack was just a special case.  "Yes, Zack...usually a few times per day, if you must know. Is there a reason you're asking me this?"

            Zack kept leaning further back and his aim was suffering for it.  "I'm just asking because I hear Mako treatments can...change things."

            Understanding his concern, Angeal nodded.  "That's true, but bathroom habits generally aren't one of them."

            "No?  What about...other stuff?" 

Zack seemed distracted and Angeal glanced at him suspiciously as he finished up and reached for a wipe.  "What kind of 'other stuff', Zack?  I'm afraid you're being too vague." 

He looked away as he tugged the paper wipe out of the dispenser and at that moment, he heard the frantic squeak of rubber soles and a blurted curse.  Angeal turned to see Zack fall over backwards—right through the door of the stall behind him.  He fell onto the toilet with a yell and there was a clunk as his head struck the back tiles.  Angeal hastily tucked his endowments into place and zipped up before hurrying to his student's aid. 

"Zack, what in...are you all right?"  He avoided looking at the poor guy's exposed area as he helped him sit up and checked for blood or swelling. 

"Yeah," Zack said, his face going immediately ruddy as he winced and rubbed the back of his head.  "I'm okay.  I just slipped and fell.  Sorry!"

"I don't know what you're apologizing for," sighed Angeal, still keeping his gaze politely averted.  "You're the only one you hurt."

"I should...I should go," Zack grunted, getting to his feet with Angeal's help.  "I've still gotta bus my tray and get ready for our drill today."

Angeal grabbed his arm as the smaller man started to exit the stall.  "Zack, I think you're forgetting something."

Zack looked at him with confusion.  "I am?"

Angeal quickly glanced down before looking at the wall and nodding.  "You have some southern exposure going on."

Zack looked down, saw his dick hanging out of his pants and quickly corrected the problem and zipped back up.  "Oh.  Thanks.  I'll just...go wash my hands now." 

He went to squirt some soap onto his hands but the pump was slightly blocked—just enough to make the antibacterial liquid shoot out at the wrong angle and hit Zack in the eye.  He yelped and reached blindly for the hanging paper towels.  Now laughing softly and feeling terrible for it, Angeal went to his aid again and retrieved a couple of paper towels.

"Hold still," ordered the officer in a voice unsteady with amusement.  "Here, you got most of it on your cheek.  You may still need to take a trip to the infirmary and have your eye flushed out."  He finished wiping it off and then he dampened one of the towels and gave it to Zack to put over his eye.

"Infirmary," repeated Zack, nodding convulsively as he held the wet paper towel over his eye.  "Got it.  I'm really sorry, Ange."

            Angeal shook his head, still baffled by the apologies.  "You didn't do anything wrong.  Just try not to kill yourself on the way from the cafeteria.  Forget today's drill and get some rest."

            Zack would have normally protested loudly about that, but for some reason he was amicable about it today.  "Cool.  Thanks, Sir.  I'll catch you tomorrow."

            Angeal watched him stumble out of the bathroom and he sighed and shook his head, chuckling under his breath.  Zack's antics always managed to bring a smile to his face.  He just hoped his clumsy behavior was a temporary side effect of the Mako.  Fair was guileless and often silly, but Angeal had never seen him be so clumsy before.

            "What's gotten into you?" wondered the officer aloud as he moved to wash his hands.  Mindful of the way the soap pump squirted Zack in the eye, he was careful as he extracted some of it and turned the tap on.

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            Zack made his way back to the table, where Kunsel sat waiting for the verdict.  His friend stared up at him as Zack placed his hands on the table opposite to him and leaned over it a little, shaking his head.

            "What?" demanded Kunsel.  "Did you get a look or not?"

            Zack nodded.  "Yeah, I got a look and trust me; there's no compensation necessary.  Whoever told you Mako shrinks the junk was dead wrong.  If anything, it might make it grow."

            Kunsel's eyebrows shot up.  "Grow?  Really?"  He looked as though he might change his mind about getting Mako treatments.

            "Oh yeah," Zack assured him, remembering what he'd seen before he lost his balance and went toilet-diving.  "That wasn't a dick...it was a third fucking leg."

            Kunsel snorted.  "You've got to be exaggerating, man.  Why are you winking at me?"

            "I'm not winking," corrected Zack.  He rubbed his stinging, blurry eye.  "I got soap in my eye when I went to wash my hands."

            "How the hell did you do that?"

            "I don't know, man," sighed Zack.  "I went to squirt some soap and it just came right at my eye."

            "Maybe the soap made you think you were seeing more than you were seeing," suggested Kunsel.

            Zack grimaced and swallowed.  "Okay, so I'm embellishing a little but I'm telling you, there wasn't anything shrunken about that set.  It was—"

            Suddenly, with no warning, Zack's stomach heaved and he had no chance to turn away, warn his friend or cover his mouth.  He projectile-vomited a Mako-tinted spray all over the table, his half-finished tray of food and poor Kunsel's military helmet. The other Soldier got up abruptly and stared at him with wide eyes as Zack tried to stifle his puking with both hands.

            "Damn...was it that bad?" Kunsel asked, mistaking the reason for the sudden vomiting fit.  "Was it like...mutated?" 

  Zack couldn't answer.  His stomach heaved again and he felt the burn as more acidic juices, half-digested food and Mako came up again.  It shot through his fingers and he tried to choke out an apology.  Kunsel started shouting for help and some of the cafeteria staff stopped what they were doing to watch as Zack sank to the floor on his hands and knees, heaving his guts out.

             Angeal came out of the bathroom and Zack tried to hide his pathetic retching from him, humiliated enough by his klutz attack earlier.  The big Soldier ran to him immediately when he saw the state he was in and Kunsel grabbed one of the mop buckets from a janitor and brought it over to Zack.  Helpless to stop his vomiting, the young man leaned over the bucket and tried to bring himself under control.  He felt a broad hand rubbing his back and he heard a woman say she'd get a washcloth for him. 

            "Just let it all out, Zack."  Angeal's voice was the only thing he could seem to latch onto as he struggled to remain conscience.  "It's better to get it out of your system.  We'll take you straight to the medical wing when it stops."

            "Don't...understand," choked Zack between heaves.  "I was...fine!"

            "It's different for everyone," Angeal reminded him.  "Although, I can't remember seeing it ever hit someone this abruptly, before.  That's why we need to get you checked out."

            Zack nodded, gasping for breath as the heaving fits finally slowed and stopped.  Someone wiped his face off with a cool, damp cloth and someone else offered him a couple of tissues to blow his nose.  He tried to get up on shaking legs but the smell of his own mess hit him and he started to fall.  A strong embrace caught him and he passed out in Angeal's arms.

~**********************************~


 

            Angeal listened grimly as the scientist explained Zack's condition to him, as best she could.  "He has a virus," she explained, "and his body has been fighting it off, but the Mako treatments conflicted with that and the vitamins he took appear to have caused a violent reaction; almost like an allergen."

            "What sort of virus," asked Angeal, glancing at his sleeping charge.

            "It appears to be a strain of flu," she answered, "which should have shown up in his bloodwork before his Mako treatments began, but obviously someone made a mistake.  I wouldn't recommend you allow him to have further Mako treatments until we can confirm that he's clean again.  You can have another blood test done in a week."

            "What kind of virus causes reactions like that to simple vitamins?" he asked with a frown. 

            "Sometimes people can develop allergies to certain vitamins as a side-effect of infection," she explained.  "We think that's what happened here.  Fortunately, they weren't in his system long enough to cause severe damage.  He shouldn't be contagious, but he may be more comfortable sleeping here than in the public barracks.  He needs rest and quiet."

            "I'll bring him to my quarters," decided Angeal.  "He can stay there until he's well enough to return to the barracks.

~***********************************~


 

            Zack was shivering as Angeal carried him through the medical wing and he held the young man closer in an attempt to warm him.  He thought about what the lady doctor said and he frowned, still finding it awfully suspicious.  He passed Professor Hollander on the way out and when their eyes met briefly, Angeal felt a shiver of loathing he still couldn't quite explain. 

~**********************************~


 

            "Zack...Zack, can you hear me?"

            Zack opened his eyes a slit and recognized Angeal's face looking at him.  He nodded and his neck felt stiff.  His teeth were chattering and he was bundled up in a comforter, on a twin-sized bed.  Angeal was leaning over him, checking his temperature with an ear thermometer.

            "W-where am I?"

            Angeal looked up from the digital reading.  "My quarters.  I took you to the infirmary and the diagnosed you with a flu virus.  Apparently, it caused a bad reaction with your vitamin supplements and that's why you got sick so suddenly."

            Zack frowned.  "W-wow...what a cruddy day I'm having."

            Angeal smiled faintly at him and put the thermometer away.  "Your temperature is a little low, but I can turn the heater on in here."

            "I'm...I'm okay," Zack lied stubbornly.  "Y-you don't have to d-do this, Ange."

            The big man sighed.  "Zackary, you're my recruit, and that makes you my responsibility.  Besides, I'd rather have you here where I can keep an eye on you than in the barracks or back in the hospital."

            Zack thought the latter was an odd thing to say.  "W-why don't you want m-me back in the hospital?  Isn't that the b-best place to be when you're sick?"

            Angeal considered him silently for a moment before moving over to the window and looking out at the city below.  "Ordinarily, yes.  Now, I'm not so sure."

            "Why?"

            Angeal turned to look at him again, the afternoon sun gilding his noble features in golden light through the window.  "I just think some people in the research department haven't been doing their jobs right, that's all.  If you need to see a doctor, I know of a couple outside the department that I can call.  Just give me the word."

            Zack shook his head.  "I'll be all right.  I'm j-just cold and a little out of it."

            Angeal approached the bedside and he watched Zack thoughtfully for a minute.  He sat on the edge of the bed and removed his shoes, socks and body armor.  Zack watched curiously as the bigger man pulled one side of the comforter down and eased onto the bed with him.

            "Can you scoot back a bit?" Angeal asked.  The mattress sunk under his greater weight and Zack found himself rolling toward him without meaning to.

            "Uh...I'm n-not sure," said the 2nd.  He was still shivering, but his face was getting hot. 

            "Here," murmured Angeal.  "I'll help you roll onto your other side."

            Zack cooperated uncertainly and he realized what Angeal had in mind when the bigger man spooned him, sharing the warmth of his body and securing the blanket around him.  Zack blinked, totally at a loss for what to do or how to react.

            "Angeal...Sir?  This isn't regulation, is it?"

            "That depends," answered Angeal smoothly, seeming completely unconcerned and content to snuggle him.  "Sharing body warmth can save your life, under certain circumstances.  You need to warm up and I can make that happen faster." 

            Angeal lifted his head off the pillow and regarded Zack soberly.  "Are you okay with that, or do you think I'm going to do something inappropriate?"

            Zack couldn't imagine his mentor ever laying an inappropriate hand on him, but he kept thinking of what he'd caught a glimpse of in the bathroom and he couldn't help but be very aware of that part of Angeal's anatomy.  He shut his eyes and tried not to focus on it, but his stupid brain kept pointing it out to him like a big neon arrow over a sleazy motel. 

            After a while, he finally stopped shivering and he started to fall asleep out of sheer weakness and exhaustion, but sadly for Zack, he had a hard time shutting up even when he was half asleep.

~***************************************~


 

            "Angeal?"

            The officer stirred a little, nearly asleep himself.  "Hmm?"

            "Did Mako treatments make your stuff grow?"

            Angeal frowned.  "What 'stuff', Zack?"

            Zack yawned, evidently comfortable in Angeal's protective embrace.  "You know...your guy junk.  Did it get that big 'cause of the Mako?"

            Angeal lifted his head to look at his companion.  "Uh...no.  My...'junk' has always been the same."  Realizing the younger man must have had a look in the bathroom, Angeal was treated to an interesting combination of amusement and embarrassment.  He saw that Zack's eyes were closed and the handsome face was relaxed.

            "Zack, are you even awake?"

            Zack gave a tiny, half-hearted shrug.  "I dunno."

            Angeal shut his eyes and shook his head, chuckling softly.  "You really are the strangest recruit I've ever trained."

            Another yawn.  "Sorry, man."

            Something warm spread through Angeal and he smiled at his companion.  He held him a little closer and indulged himself a bit, nuzzling the dark, fluffy hair.  He tried not to think of the possibility that the lab had been tampering with him.  He tried not to think of what Genesis might have discovered before he took off for unknown parts.  Right now, he just wanted to enjoy the nearness of someone he cared for.  The rest could be figured out later.

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-The End  



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