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I can't believe I forgot to post this here. Once upon a time LJ was my fandom home and the first place that my fics saw the light of day... and now it is almost forgotten entirely. I'm so sorry, LJ.

So, yes, this has been posted everywhere else already, nothing new to see here. I'm more posting for the sake of completeness/keeping my LJ up to date than anything else. This one is the multichapter, so it'll take a few posts... I'm thinking I'll just post two chapters for now and then do the rest a couple of days apart so as not to spam anyone's friends list too much. ^^;;

For anyone who may not be aware, this is just a very silly little fluffball of a fic. There is still more or less zero plot, it's just a relationship development thing. Eventually resulting in smut, of course, because who do you think you're talking to here.

This first chapter is more of a prologue than a chapter in itself.

Title: Seven Days
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Pairing: Zack/Cloud
Rating: NC-17 overall; G this chapter
Warnings: None
Summary: Cloud has a week of leave to get away ShinRa. He had been looking forward to a break away from everything, until his holiday was unceremoniously infringed upon by one particularly over-friendly SOLDIER. But maybe having Zack Fair along with him isn't so bad after all.

| Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |


DAY ONE

There was a ShinRa vehicle on the road behind him.

Cloud shrugged his pack a littler higher on his back, as if he could hide himself behind it. (Not unthinkable, since it was almost the same size as him.) It was his week of summer leave, the only real time off he'd had in months of being in the infantry, and he wanted nothing to do with ShinRa for the duration of his time off.

It was probably a coincidence anyway. There were precious few roads out of Midgar; while most of the traffic took the north or west roads out towards Kalm, it wasn't as though it was unusual for a vehicle to be on the south route either. It could easily be a unit heading to the mountains for the training exercise. Cloud had done that several times in the last month alone.

The truck pulled to a halt several meters behind Cloud, and Cloud felt his stomach sink. What did they want?

He resolutely kept walking, not looking back. He wasn't it uniform and he wasn't doing anything wrong, damnit.

Cloud heard the metallic rap of someone knocking on the truck's hood, and then it pulled away again. It overtook Cloud with a spray of dust and dirt.

Cloud coughed and glowered ineffectually at the receding vehicle. Had that been necessary? ShinRa was full of dicks. But at least they were gone; for a moment he'd been worried that someone had been sent to haul him back to headquarters. Leave had been cancelled? Emergency mission? He'd fucked up somehow and was going to be dragged back and punished with guard duty for the whole week? He was just being paranoid.

"Cloud! Hey, Cloud! Strife!"

Shit. Cloud kept walking, and the footsteps behind from behind sped up to catch him.

"I know you can hear me, dumbass. You see other Clouds around here?"

The voice sounded familiar, and recognition clicked the second Cloud saw him. Zack Fair, First Class SOLDIER. Still in uniform and all. Cloud had to stop walking then otherwise he would have run straight into Zack, who had taken it upon himself to stand right in Cloud's path, arms crossed.

"Uhm," Cloud said intelligently.

"So. What exactly are you doing?" Zack asked.

Cloud blinked, not sure what the protocol was in this situation. He was off duty, but Zack was still in uniform, so maybe he wasn't? It wasn't like anyone else was around, though. Knowing what he did of Zack from the several missions they'd had together, he would probably be more offended if Cloud tried to salute than if he didn't.

He decided to simply try answering the question. "Walking?" Cloud offered. He thought that was fairly obvious.

Zack wrinkled his nose and looked around. "Here? You chose a weird spot for a stroll, Spiky."

The wastelands that surrounded Midgar were not a pleasant sight, nor indeed pleasant to walk in. As Cloud was well aware, having been doing so for the last couple of hours. "I'm heading to the mountains. There's some good hiking trails there. What are you doing?"

Zack looked at him dubiously. "I came to find you. One of the guys in your unit said you'd just walked off into the wastelands all on your own. I was worried."

Cloud wasn't sure whether to be flattered or mortified that anyone was that concerned about him. Concerned enough to apparently come looking for him.

"Oh. Well. It's just that I'm on leave this week. It's too far to get back home for such a short time, but I didn't want to just stay in Midgar doing nothing. So I decided to take a hiking holiday. That's all."

"By yourself?"

"Yeah."

"Did you tell anyone where you were going?"

"No..."

Zack frowned. "Thaaaat doesn't sound very safe. What if something happened to you?"

"They'd assume I'd deserted and no one would really notice or care that I was gone?" The words came out before Cloud really considered his answer. He hadn't meant to be quite so bluntly truthful.

Zack was still standing in his way and giving him that concerned little frown, and Cloud didn't quite know how to deal with it. He ducked his head.

"So, uhm. I'd better keep going. I've got a pretty long way to go."

Cloud dodged around Zack and started walking southwards again. He wasn't surprised when Zack took up pace alongside him.

"Cloud! I'm serious. There's monsters and shit out here. What if you got ambushed? What if you got buried under a landslide? What if a tree fell on you?"

Cloud shrugged. "I'd be dead?"

"Your self-preservation instincts need work." Zack said dryly. He crossed his arms. "Well, I can't just let you go wandering out into the middle of nowhere by yourself like this."

A look horror crossed Cloud's face. "Hell no. You're not dragging me back."

"Nope. I'm coming with you."

That stopped Cloud in his tracks. "What?"

"I'm coming with you," Zack repeated.

"Aren't you on duty?"

"Nah. I just hitched a lift with those guys. I've got the week off too."

Cloud was skeptical. Especially since Zack was still in full uniform, though sans sword. "...do you have any water? Food? Change of clothes? Anything for shelter?"

"Nope," Zack admittedly happily.

"Alright, that'd just not fair. How come you're allowed to waltz off into the wilderness completely unplanned and unprepared, yet I know exactly what I'm doing and get in trouble just because I didn't mention it to anyone? Who would I have told anyway? No one gives a shit."

Zack smiled, the same gorgeous, open smile he'd given Cloud when they first met. "I get away with it because I'm Zack Fair."

Cloud snorted. "You can't come. I only packed enough food for myself."

"C'mon, Cloud. I'll hunt us down some extra food or whatever."

Cloud lengthened his strides, as if trying to walk away. The gesture was futile since Zack easily kept up.

"Anyway, you can't stop me following you," Zack continued.

"That just sounds stalkerish."

Zack laughed.

"You still can't come."

"Aw, Cloud. Why not?"

Cloud fidgeted with the straps of his pack. "It's just..." Gaia, he felt bad saying it. Zack was always so nice to him. They'd been on missions together and even hung out a few times before, and they were probably almost friends. Would have been friends, if Cloud allowed himself to accept that maybe friends were something he could actually have.

"Well, I was kinda aiming for some alone time. Y'know. Alone. I'm stuck with my unit pretty much twenty four seven, seven days a week. I mean, they're alright guys, but it's just sodraining having to constantly deal with people and never having any privacy. I was looking forward to a break from forced social interaction."

"Yeah, I remember that much of being a cadet. The barracks are shit for privacy." Zack stopped to ponder this. "So you came all the way out here just so you could jack off somewhere private? That's dedication, man."

Cloud spluttered, blushing furiously. "That was not-- I will hit you," he threatened.

Zack laughed, free and full-bodied. His laugh occasionally erupted into a snort as well. It was infectious sort of laugh, and Cloud could almost have been charmed by it if he wasn't still trying to be annoyed.

"I kid, I kid," Zack conceded, palms raised in surrender. "But seriously, I'm still not comfortable with letting you go off into a potentially dangerous situation with no back up."

"You're a mother hen," Cloud realised.

"I am?"

"You are."

Zack scratched the back of his head thoughtfully. "Huh. That's a new one."

Cloud just shook his head. "Alright, fine," he gave in. "Since I get the feeling I can't get rid of you either way, you can come." Zack beamed, and Cloud quickly continued. "With conditions. I came out here for a bit of peace and quiet for once, so no talking unless I can something first."

Zack looked physically pained by that demand. "But Cloudy-!"

"And you'll have to sort out your own shelter. All I have is one of ShinRa's standard two man tents, and you know what those are like. Two hobbits, maybe, two men, not a chance."

"Yessir," Zack agreed with a lopsided grin.

Cloud straightened up at that, despite Zack's teasing tone. He realised he'd just been bossing around a SOLDIER and superior officer... not to mention pretty much telling him to go away, if phrased slightly more tactfully. Zack didn't seem at all bothered by what must have been a breach in etiquette, if not strictly protocol since they were both off duty.

Zack stuck his hand in his pockets, falling back so he was beside but now slightly behind Cloud, letting him take the lead. He started whistling and Cloud looked back to raise an eyebrow at him. From the grin Zack gave him, Cloud suspected he was purposefully trying to be irritating.

The enforced silence lasted about two minutes, tops.

"So... where are we going?" Zack asked.

Cloud sighed, resigned. He pointed straight ahead of them, at the looming peaks that formed the mountain range to the south of Midgar. Some of them were still dotted with patches of snow, even in August. "There."

[ Next Chapter ]

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