askerian: Serious Karkat in a red long-sleeved shirt (Default)
askerian ([personal profile] askerian) wrote2011-02-01 12:30 pm

FF7 - Restore - chapter 8, part 1

OH MY GOD COMPLETE. I'm not sure if the mood stays coherent and doesn't go up and down and sideways, but I'll read it over later. If you have "um, when the fuck did he switch from rage to ^-^" comments about specific moments plz tell me, i'll fix. But anyway.



In the end, there wasn't that much yelling, past the initial 'you're kidding me's. Apart from Barret's bellows, and Cloud had practice tuning them out.

Barret had mellowed out a lot since Shinra went down, so he didn't even try to punch Cloud with his metal hand, which would not have ended well for anyone. Cloud tried to convince himself it was a good omen. Nanaki was just sitting there, nodding slowly, which was all the confirmation Cloud still needed to be sure Nanaki had indeed overheard the other side of those phone calls. Hearing like a SOLDIER; Cloud would remember. Cait Sith's AI was limited without Reeve piloting, and after the first startled jump-and-flail and the "Are you sure?" he'd fallen silent.

A litany of swear words ran out of Cid's mouth like a river, but in an almost normal speaking tone, so that the effect was more vaguely put out than truly surprised. "Shiva's icy tits," he concluded. "Sephiroth's alive again. That what you call 'not an emergency' and 'it can wait'?"

Cloud sighed quietly. "Yeah. Situation's more complicated than that, though."

Cid's eyes narrowed as calculations started going in his brain. "... Where is Sephiroth alive again?"

A "Son of a bitch!" burst out of Denzel's mouth, and everyone jerked and turned. Even Barret stopped growling long enough to stare at the boy. Tifa even managed a "Denzel!" which considering how dead-tired she was, was something of a feat. Denzel wasn't paying attention, though, too busy looking as offended as possible. "'Oh no, he's not a clone' -- that rat bastard!"


Denzel ignored Barret and stared at Cloud, incensed. "He's at the bar, isn't he? He's upstairs. That's why that Zack guy--"

Alright, and there went the yelling. Cloud sighed and took a couple of steps back, found himself a seat on the rocks. "Guys?" he said. "The point of coming up here was so the whole of Wutai wouldn't hear us."

Barret snarled at him. "You keep bein' a smartass, I'm gonna punch your lights out. This is goddamned Sephiroth, you don't get to be all 'whatcha flippin' out for'!"

Cloud looked away. Barret paced around, looking incredulous and incensed.

"He's at the bar? Marlene stays at the bar! Tifa and Denzel stay at the bar! What the fuck he stayin' there for, lying in wait?!"

"I believe we will know once Cloud explains it to us," Cait Sith interjected, voice bland. Yeah, they'd definitely exceeded the AI's ability to cope with the emotional content of the conversation.

Ifrit take him, Cloud wished he could be anywhere but here. Even in the attic with Sephiroth. At least that bastard didn't talk much, and if he decided to stop being all civil and restrained Cloud could just go ahead and put a sword through him.

He owed them all, though, so that was it.

"I don't remember if I ever told you guys much about Zack Fair."

"Name rings a bell," Cid said, frowning. Barret glowered at him, but waited for more, arms crossed on his chest.

Cait Sith scratched his chin and went "Aha! SOLDIER first class... whoa, that's a lot of 'classified's. PHS network's working fine so if you'll give me a minute with the database, I'll just pull the records out--"

"Or I could just tell you about it," Cloud interrupted before Cait Sith bogged himself down with too many downloads.

He looked at Denzel next. He didn't hesitate, really; he'd known Denzel would likely hear the story at some point, instead of vague references here and there and the quick, pared-down summary they'd given him after the clones attacked when he was ten year old. Still, he paused for a second to choose his words.

"When I was sixteen," he said, more for Denzel than any of the others, "I was an infantryman in Shinra's regular army. Zack was a SOLDIER who'd just recently made First Class. He was good, but he wasn't stuck up about it. We were -- I looked up to him."

Denzel watched him, brow furrowed in concentration. "You were friends?"

"Friendly. He was friendly to everyone, and I was just a scrawny kid from the mountains, but he was really nice."

"God," Barret grumbled under his breath. "Alright, we got it, you had a crush."

Cloud tilted his head a bit as he looked at him and replied blandly, "Yeah, guess I did."

Tifa spluttered; Cid choked on his cigarette. The look on Barret's face had them laughing; Cloud cracked a smile, until Tifa started wheezing and then he forgot the brief moment of amusement.

"I'm okay, I'm okay. Go on with the story."

Cloud paused for a second, not sure how to interpret her expression. Sure there was amusement in it, but something else too, less comfortable. Unsure.

"Story, Spike," prodded Cid.

"Okay, fine. Anyway, Zack and I were sent on the mission to Nibelheim with Sephiroth. You heard about that part." Denzel nodded. "Hojo grabbed him too, afterwards."

He couldn't speak of the five years in between. He turned away, face to the downward slope. The landscape was gorgeous from there, peaceful and grandiose both, so far from ceramic floors and glass-walled cells and artificial lamps.

"He broke us both out. I was -- kind of messed up. He..."

He was fine, Zack was fine, Zack was home right now, laughing around with Tifa's customers, napping in Cloud's bed, Zack was fine.

"He got us back to Midgar, and then Shinra found us. Shot him dead. I guess I was so fucked up I wasn't worth a bullet."

A pause for breath. A bird of prey was swooping down in the distance, all elegance and precision. He followed its flight until it disappeared between the trees, then turned back around, squared his shoulders. This wasn't time to indulge in a little funk; he had a report to make.

"Anyway. Denzel found him in the church, the evening before we got Reeve's phone call." Denzel confirmed with a nod. "When I went to the church, Aeris was also here. They..." They'd held on to him and breathed with him and they were warm and made noises and smiled and... "They were alive again. Corporeal.

"Sephiroth was waiting upstairs.

"I charged him, but he just kept evading, he didn't -- he didn't fight. He had no weapon on him, not even materia, it was weird. And then Aeris tackles me and goes 'I didn't bring him back just so you could kill him again.'"

"... The fuck," Cid summed up after a long moment of collective stunned silence.

"Yeah. So I... hell." This didn't get any easier to think about; if any it only got more confusing. "He's not acting like the last time we saw him, he's not... He's acting like a sarcastic asshole, but not like a crazy megalomaniac. Least he didn't show it. And even the fact that he would bother to hide that, that's... strange."

"And you believed it?" Cait Sith asked, his little head tilting in mild bewilderment. He was only expressing what everyone else was thinking -- even Cloud himself.

He sighed. The more they talked about it -- the more he had to explain what he'd done and why, and the more ridiculous it sounded. He could barely buy his own explanations. "The point was that I don't know what to believe. Aeris and Zack tell me he's -- not alright, but not completely crazy. He behaves like he's not completely crazy. He even -- that Wutai vet who told me how to fix Tifa, that was him."

Cid bit through his cigarette. He took it out, spat out the end; Cloud found it funny all of one second. "Huh."

"...But he's still Sephiroth. So, I decided I couldn't make that call, and I'd get you guys to come and we'd decide together, only then Reeve called."

There. Done. The whole chain of half-assed, hurried decisions, and now he could just sit here and let them hash it out, because the gods knew he couldn't. He knew he couldn't, he was biased in so many ways and directions he wouldn't have known what 'objective' ought to be if it smacked him in the face.

"So you left him waiting at the bar?" Nanaki asked, slowly stringing the words together like he was afraid of getting one of them wrong -- like getting them all right would make it all make sense. "With Aeris and your friend?"

Oh, wait, no, there was still one boneheaded move to explain. Cloud groaned, ran a hand over his face. "They weren't worried about him attacking them, and he --" the fuck had he been thinking, the fuck "--said he would wait, so I put him under a sleep spell and we left."

Nanaki's head tilted to the side quizzically. "But when you asked for help with Tifa..."

"... He was awake. Yeah." And Aeris could put him under as often as she wanted, if he could pull himself out of it at random it was pretty much useless as security measures went.

"That was a really shitty plan," Cid said, perfectly casual but for the way the tip of his brand new cigarette flared red from the forceful drag he'd taken.

"I know, alright? He was --" Nice didn't work; as for sane, he didn't have a clue... "Reasonable. What else could I have done?"

"Put him down," Barret retorted. "He's a mad dog. Sad for him, I don't give a shit. Too dangerous."

"Barret, not helping."

Cloud found himself a rock to sit in, and watched them. He missed Vincent and Reeve' cooler heads right now; swearing and easily irritated as he was, Cid was good at being objective and planning things out when he had to, but obviously he could have done with a few minutes to bitch up a storm first. Tifa wouldn't participate, keeping her thoughts to herself -- no doubt they weren't positive, anyway. Nanaki couldn't help but see it like the long-lived scholar he was -- a little detached.

Barret was furious. Cloud got that. He would have been furious if the situation had been flipped over.

It felt like such a relief to have it all out in the open, even if it didn't make him feel any less like he'd handled everything all wrong. He still couldn't bring himself to truly believe he should have killed Sephiroth without hearing him out first -- part of him wanted to, wanted to deal with him and be done, but Aeris and Zack would have been so disappointed ... would have been hurt, and yeah, okay, he should be a leader and consider the good of the whole world but they were Zack and Aeris and they'd been dead. They could ask him to put on another dress and pole-dance in the middle of Edge and he'd probably do it. They could ask him pretty much anything and he'd at least strongly consider it. He hoped they wouldn't figure that out, or he'd be in deep shit.

(Part of him wanted to believe in it, that it wasn't Sephiroth's fault and he was sorry and now things could be okay again, like saying sorry fixed anything. It didn't, but it seemed Cloud had an eight-year-old in his head who didn't quite get that.)

"Hey, Spike."

Cloud looked up; Cid was standing beside him. The rest of the group seemed to be done talking, for now; they stood apart, varying from lost to deep in thought to frankly brooding.

Cid raised a hand and knocked his knuckles on the top of Cloud's head. "How are you doing in there?"

Cloud tilted his head away halfheartedly, though he couldn't find the strength to even mock-glare. "Normal enough, but like I'd notice if I wasn't..." He paused, brow furrowing. "... I think -- if he did make plans, they involved me in charge, even if he's not actively controlling me. Cid--"

Cid gave a slow, thoughtful nod, and then a more decisive one, shoulders straightening. "Alright," he announced. "Relieving you of leadership."

Cloud ran a hand against the back of his neck, embarrassed. It wasn't like he was an actual leader, no matter what Sephiroth assumed; they were all equals in the group, just sometimes he ... aw, hell, yeah, he was the battlefield leader, and he supposed this situation was enough like a battle to count. "Mmh. Thanks."

Better if they didn't take their cues from him. He sat, elbows on his knees, spine loosening, relaxing as if the weight of that responsibility had been a physical thing. He could see them looking to Cid, silently asking 'what next?' and he knew it meant he could afford not to have an opinion yet. When all this was over he would owe him a dozen drinks at least.

"Alright. Can't leave Yuffie on her own. We need ta find Vince and ask him what he thinks of her security, how many of us oughta stay. Cait, Reeve knew Sephiroth before he was bugfuck, ask him if he can come and you can stay. If he can't, s'fine, but I'd like it better that way. Tifa, how you feelin'? Think you'll be able to haul ass by tomorrow?"

She frowned, gave a reserved nod. "I'll stay if Yuffie needs emotional comfort, but..."

"Hm. Noted. Barret, you coming?"

Cloud -- and Cid -- expected a growled 'hell yes', but instead Barret turned to stare at Cloud, and then at Tifa. "Whatcha gonna do with Denzel?"

"Ah. We -- I didn't think about that." Tifa bit her lip, sneaking Denzel and Cloud little looks. "He's not really going to be safe at either place..."

"Hey -- no wait, I want to come with you guys!" Denzel protested, but he seemed to know it was a lost cause already.

"I'll drop him at Elmyra's with Marlene and join you guys at the bar. One of your freight ships leavin' soon, right?"

Cid checked the place of the sun in the sky, and then his watch. "Half hour. Okay, that works." He directed a fierce look at Barret. "If you get to the bar before us, don't confront Sephiroth on your own. Just take a walk around the block or shoot the breeze with Aeris. Okay?"

Barret gave a terse nod, otherwise not saying a word. Cloud winced. He'd really fucked up if Barret had gone from loud complaining to this kind of steely-eyed restraint. The first was just Barret blowing off steam. The second was deeper, longer-lasting.

"Say goodbye, kid. Gotta hurry."

Denzel heaved a loud sigh, but complied, going to Tifa to hug her and then going around the group to shake paws with Cait Sith and exchange 'it was nice seeing you's with Nanaki. Cloud ruffled Denzel's hair when he came in range, flicking him a little smile. "We'll call you as soon as there's news."

"Yeah, do it on the landline," Denzel replied, grouching but not managing to hide his worry. "Phone reception gets shitty back home."

"It's always been like that."

He didn't know what else to say, so he just ruffled Denzel's hair again. This time he didn't even bother looking offended.

"Call me. Yeah? You promise. I'll let all the air out of your tires otherwise, I swear."

"Promise. Now hurry up, or Barret will have to pick you up and carry you."

Rolling his eyes, Denzel waved goodbye at Cid and jogged to Barret, who waited by the path. His hard expression broke briefly to direct a smile at the boy, but it didn't last. He addressed a curt nod to the rest of the group, and they left.

"Now... Cloud, I'm real tempted to leave you with Yuffie." Cid scowled, deep in thought.

Cloud stiffened, and almost protested -- but this was why he'd handed over leadership, he had to mean it, he couldn't disagree whenever he wanted.

"... But if Sephiroth is really playing us, we're gonna need heavy-hitters, and Tifa's still sick and Reeve ain't that. And if he is fucking with us, and especially fucking with you, then we're probably not that much worse off against the two of you rather than just him alone. It's not like there's levels in 'totally fucked'."

Cloud snorted, but relaxed. Maybe he should suspect how hard he wanted to come back home and tell Cid he'd rather stay, at that -- but if he started second-guessing himself he'd never stop. "We still need a plan to stop me. Just in case."

Nanaki's tail twitched. "I dislike suggesting this -- but, Cloud, do you remember your drug tolerance?"


"A sleep spell might fail, or be thrown off with no ill effects in a fairly short time. Knock-out drugs would leave you slower and more unfocused even if you didn't fall asleep. But with your peculiar metabolism it's better to make sure of the dosages. Do you remember?"

Cloud closed his eyes. He could tell by his solemn eyes and quiet voice that Nanaki knew what he was asking. He'd been gassed a couple times since then, had been sick, knocked out, but the last time Cloud had been deliberately drugged into unconsciousness had been at Hojo's. "... Yeah. When we're back in town I'll help you look."

"Okay, people. Anything else? No? Then we're going back down. Cloud and Red, you do that thing. Cait, you get Reeve to meet us, and ask him to get our things loaded on the Shera. Tifa, you get yourself a cabin and rest. I'll go find Vince. We meet at the Shera in two hours."




"God," Barret grumbled under his breath. "Alright, we got it, you had a crush."

Cloud tilted his head a bit as he looked at him and replied blandly, "Yeah, guess I did."

"Okay, so next," Denzel said, "Because ew. You've never had a crush in your life, you lie. Next you'll try to make me believe you hooked up with someone at some point in your life, and that's just not happening."

Cloud blinked. "... Denzel?"

"What? Like YOU wanna think about your parents having sex! Seriously, ew. Just, ew."

OMAKE 2, courtesy of [ profile] joisbishmyoga

"It's not like there's levels in 'totally fucked'."

"Sure there are," Tifa piped up. "There's 'totally fucked', 'totally fucked with a club', and 'totally fucked without lube'. ... What?"

[identity profile] 2011-02-01 12:17 pm (UTC)(link)

[identity profile] 2011-02-01 01:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Eeee! In charge!Cid! And emotional limits exceeded!Cait! And sense of humour!might possibly be being mindfucked right now!Cloud!
(Omakes are WIN)
There are no words for how much I love this. This section, in particular, but also the whole thing. aslkdjalkdfj

[identity profile] 2011-02-01 01:47 pm (UTC)(link)

[identity profile] 2011-02-01 02:11 pm (UTC)(link)
The group dynamic's are still fantastic, and i love the sharing of character time (and how you went that little bit more into giving them purpose and their individual personality - that must have been difficult)
:) The explanation was perfect as was Cloud's withdrawal from the aftermath.
Also. Cid taking control just worked.

Interested in what Vincent and Reeves reactions will be (seeing as both had the chance to know/vaguely-recall zack, that is if vince remembers some of those who dared disturb his slumber)

Anyhooo thank you for the update whootwhoot. I'd love to say can't wait for the next one buuuuut I can only imagine how difficult a chapter it would be to plan and write... so i'll change it to 'I'll be waiting patiently for the next installment of this fantastic story' <3

(omakes are love though, 'without lube' chortlechortle)

[identity profile] 2011-02-01 04:12 pm (UTC)(link)
^ this. She said so much better than I did.

[identity profile] 2011-02-04 05:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Zack Seph bunnies? mmmmmmmmmmm yummie

(I've got a dirty secret, Valenwind was my first ff ship, so Im inclined to love Cid, and what he does, if he is portrayed as Cid)

Haha are you calling Zack some kind of wanting-to-merrily-lope-around-the-fields over-eager puppy who wouldnt investigate anything that would distract him from funtimes? Jk, the well developed mans-best-friend gotta-scram-hound that he became wouldnt be searching for anything but the necessities which was shown

But yeah i understand your head cannon, though cc roaming caves was fun :P

Excellent, more Vinny to come (ps i like the splitting up of everyone meeting him at once-too many times a group introduction destroys any individual reaction and coming to terms)
<3 <3

[identity profile] 2011-02-01 04:10 pm (UTC)(link)

I love the hmmm oh yea I guess I did have a crush. Made me smile. :D Actually the whole thing made me feel happy.

I also totally approve of you having Cid taking charge. So many FF7 fics still have Cloud as the nominal leader while Seph is around possibly screwing with his brain. :D

AT anyrate I needed this today!

[identity profile] 2011-02-03 06:09 pm (UTC)(link)
It wasn't particularly good or bad day. Just a blah grey day if that makes sense?

[identity profile] 2011-02-01 08:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Love love love love love love love, oh my god, you updated. Annnnnd then you cut off right before the part that EVERYONE IS WAITING FOR. C'mon Asuka! :D Anyway, I can't wait til the next bit, really. Things are moving along so well here. ♥

[identity profile] 2011-02-02 09:01 pm (UTC)(link)
*sobs obnoxiously* More Zack and Sephiroth and AEEEEERITH, yo. ♥_♥ ilu Asuka.

[identity profile] 2011-02-02 09:56 pm (UTC)(link)
It would be TOTALLY POINTLESS, but you would love writing it, and as we fangirls do so love fanservice, we would definitely love reading it. And anyway, you could have cute dialogue between them- I don't really know what level the Zack/Aeris/Seph relationship is at the moment, but I could see Aeris and Zack trying to creep in the shower or something. Or just standing in the bathroom talking to him while he's in the shower and he's all "go awaaaaay" except you know, in Sephiroth speak. I do miss them though, just because I love how you write all three of them.

[identity profile] 2011-02-01 09:33 pm (UTC)(link)
~We're sorry, the commenter you've requested is unable to reply right now. The Sqee limit has been exceeded and the Commenter will have to reboot before basic functions can be resumed. Please try again later. Thank you and good day.~ *click*
ext_407641: (candyheart)

[identity profile] 2011-02-01 10:17 pm (UTC)(link)
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It's fun how Cid goes all, "if we're all gonna die anyway, might as well let you see your lovers friends one more time."

Also, Nanaki, ouch. And Cloud just quietly goes with it. Ouch.

[identity profile] 2011-02-02 01:58 am (UTC)(link)
It didn't, but it seemed Cloud had an eight-year-old in his head who didn't quite get that.

"All right, we got it, you had a crush." "Yeah, I guess I did."

Am I supposed to spend all of this chapter kind of wanting to cuddle him? Probably not. More seriously, I loved seeing all the plans and plots sorted out.

[identity profile] 2011-02-03 12:08 am (UTC)(link)
Nawww, probably not. Well, maybe one day he will actually be happy. That will only increase the cuddling instinct, I have no doubt. Also, the omakes are hilarious, for the record.

[identity profile] 2011-02-02 02:28 am (UTC)(link)
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! ^____________^ oh man, I LOVE the detailing. The lines that got omaked both hit me pretty hard in the original, but I love your hand with exposition-drops too - Cid checking the sun before his watch, to make sure he'd changed the time zone on his watch right! Cid is totally the only one of them who'd do that, and he WOULD, too. And Tifa Carefully Not Commenting about Cloud having a crush. And Cloud being so relieved to have someone else take over -- and thinking so dispassionately about what it would take to knock him out if Sephiroth was taking him over...

tephra: A furry liger-ish dragon portrait in profile (Default)

[personal profile] tephra 2011-04-17 11:22 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm re-reading as part of my FF7 fic binge and this comment: "Seph is farsighted, can't read the newspaper comfortably without holding it as far from his face as it'll go" has put lovely, lovely images of Seph wearing reading glasses in my head.
tephra: A furry liger-ish dragon portrait in profile (Default)

[personal profile] tephra 2011-04-18 01:25 am (UTC)(link)
There is no why with hotness like this:

Or if you prefer the other the glasses look he probably uses on Zack a lot...

Of course that look is hard to do when Zack does this:

Yes, I was bored. XD
tephra: A furry liger-ish dragon portrait in profile (Default)

[personal profile] tephra 2011-04-18 02:49 am (UTC)(link)
The side effect of coming at the fandom from AC, no clue what Hojo actually looks like other than the dark hair in the pony tail and glasses of unspecified style. I went with rectangular because of Seph's face shape.

More oval-y:

I get the glasses images from, they have "try them on" PDFs which give you a direct on view at life size, which is great for pasting into things once you cut out the white background.
tephra: A furry liger-ish dragon portrait in profile (Default)

[personal profile] tephra 2011-04-18 03:09 am (UTC)(link)
I stuck to metal frames in black, figuring Seph likes to stick to the black and silver theme. I bet Zack (or Aeris) would get him something in a color... red maybe? :)
edenfalling: colored line-art drawing of a three-scoop ice cream sundae (ice cream sundae)

[personal profile] edenfalling 2011-02-02 03:52 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, I like this! Poor Cloud, not only having to deal wiht all the ways he knows he's biased and emotionally unbalanced by this situation, but also having to face the chance that Sephiroth is trying to pull the puppet thing again. And just the sheer depth of how much he needs Zack and Aeries... *pets him* It makes such a lot of sense for him to turn leadership over to Cid. I also like that Tifa is trying to let the others reach their own conclusions, and that Barret insists on taking Denzel somewhere safe. Yay for parents thinking about children!

A few editing notes:

He'd really fucked up if Barret had gone from loud complaining to this kind of steely-eyed restrain. You're missing a T at the end of restraint.

"Yeah, do it on the landline," Denzel replied, grouching but not managing to hide his worry. "Phone reception gets shitty back home."

"It's always been."

It feels as though you're missing a word in Cloud's response -- I'd advise switching to "It's always been like that," or just "It always has been." It isn't technically wrong as written, but it sounds awkward and most people wouldn't construct a sentence that way.

[identity profile] 2011-02-03 01:51 am (UTC)(link)
*snerks* The fact that Tifa was the one that said it in jo's omake is hilarious.

Very good. I like how everyone stayed in character, & how you showed Cid's perceptive side.

[identity profile] 2011-02-12 02:19 am (UTC)(link)
I'm sorry this is gonna be very little but I couldn't not make happy noises. I love this fic. I love the way you write it and put so much thought into it. I love how you write Cloud's personality, it feels like him when I'm reading. One of my favorite parts of this chapter was Cid taking over. It was almost like Cloud de-aged over the space of five second, if that makes sense. It might have been my brain imprint spinning the story but it felt like he got lighter and his thoughts clearer? Something like that. Anyway, all around love and thank you and I'll be around again eventually.

[identity profile] 2011-04-09 08:09 pm (UTC)(link)
... I never thought Cloud would have admitted having a crush on Zack. Who's next ? Tifa ? Done, living and sleeping together kinda do the trick. Aeris ? Well, nothing is more painfully obvious than his feelings for her.

That leaves... Sephiroth. *squeeeeeeeeee*

And thumbs up for Cid in charge. And for the previous chapter, the giant huddling together on Tifa's bed and Vincent's condoleances were absolutely masterful.

Love this fic more and more. Hope the next chappie comes fast ^^