Day 14: In a different clothing style (Turks uniform) - Prompt by me!!
Cloud couldn’t stop staring at Sephiroth as he slid on the black jacket and tightened the bright red tie. He’d thought, initially, that Sephiroth would look like Rude in the suit—like a well dressed brick-wall brawler. After all, he was so strong and broad shouldered, Cloud hadn’t been able to imagine him fitting in the immaculate suit like Tseng did.
Sephiroth had once again proven him wrong.
The suit was perfect. It raised a lot of questions in Cloud’s mind about the Turk budget. The cost of two perfectly tailored suits in his own size and Sephiroth’s was nothing to scoff at.
"Having fun?" Sephiroth murmured, glancing back at him as he smoothed his tie down and buttoned the jacket over it.
"I’m not exactly pleased about this whole mission thing," Cloud replied, "but it’s almost worth it to see you all dressed up."
"Hn. Blame Zack. He’s the one who suggested that our programs should work more closely together."
"Or I could blame you, since you’re the one who called the Turks in to finish your mission so you could come home early."
"But I came home early to spend time with you, so I should be automatically forgiven," Sephiroth replied loftily, walking over and straightening Cloud’s tie. "Besides, it won’t be difficult. Just a reconnaissance mission. Brief acquisition of information. You’ve read the mission documents. We’ll be home before the night is up."
"Right," Cloud murmured as Sephiroth stroked his fingers lightly down the red stripe of his tie, adjusting it intimately. "Let’s get started, then."
"This was just supposed to be reconnaissance!" Cloud yelled over the sound of gunfire, his back pressed against the wall as he took cover from the hail of bullets.
"Plans change!" Sephiroth yelled back, pulling the pin out of the custom Turk-made grenade he’d been carrying under his slender jacket and lobbing it towards the shooters.
Cloud’s newly enhanced hearing could pick up the furious screaming of the gangsters behind them. He tried not to let their venomous curses and the sounds of bullets streaking through the air distract him as he chased after Sephiroth down the alley. The General had the manilla folder of documents safely tucked on the inside pocket of his jacket. Now they just had to get it back to Tseng.
"You should have covered your hair!" He scolded as they rounded a corner together.
"Like yours is any less noticeable," Sephiroth scoffed, his ponytail streaming behind him as he ran. "They were not supposed to be there. It was a case of bad intel and nothing more."
"Well the good news is," Cloud panted, sprinting at top-speed to keep up with Sephiroth, unslinging the huge gun from his shoulder as he ran, "that Tseng is NEVER going to trust us with something like this again!"
Sephiroth let out a sharp laugh, lifting his pistol, sighting down it as Cloud ran past him behind cover. Cloud heard him fire before both of them crouching behind the row of merchant shacks and crates.
"Get one?" Cloud asked.
"I’m not much good with guns," Sephiroth replied blankly. "You may have better luck."
"I have to—" Cloud broke off his words with a gasp as a grenade sailed over the crates they’d hidden behind.
Sephiroth moved in a blur of motion, scooping the explosive off the ground. Cloud let out a breath as Sephiroth stood, lobbing it back towards their attackers with a cool smirk. Cloud felt his tense muscles relax. He hadn’t even realized he was moving towards the explosive as well until he found himself halfway there, looking up as Sephiroth threw it.
Then he heard the gunshot.
Reality seemed to slow. He watched Sephiroth’s eyes widen and his eyes shift targets. Watched his lips part softly.
His hearing was so sharp, he heard the bark of the gun and the meaty, awful sound of it striking flesh. Sephiroth jerked, and his smirk turned into a vicious snarl. Red blossomed on the white shirt beneath his suit, and the shoulder of his suit darkened with blood.
"Sephiroth!" Cloud cried, grabbing his fiance’s jacket and yanking him behind cover as the General gasped in pain.
Another bullet whizzed through the air where Sephiroth had stood only moments before. It severed a few strands of silver hair. Cloud lifted his rifle to his shoulder, peeking over the crates he’d hidden behind and sighting down the barrel. He wasn’t used to how sharp his eyesight was after the mako injections, but he didn’t slow down to think it over.
"Asshole." He growled as he spotted the shooter, gloating and laughing at his success.
He squeezed the trigger. He’d never been much of a gunman as a Trooper, but this time was personal. He hit his mark. He watched the gangsters scream as their leader fell with a hole in his forehead. He didn’t watch anymore. Sephiroth was more important.
"I’m alright." Sephiroth rasped the moment Cloud crouched next to him.
"The hell you are." Cloud murmured, setting his gun aside and pulling Sephiroth’s hand away from the hole in his shoulder.
Sephiroth winced, his hand clenching helplessly on the pavement as Cloud inspected the wound. He pulled off his own jacket and shoved it under Sephiroth’s hand before guiding him to re-apply pressure. His fiance’s pale hand was covered in blood already, and he was shaking just a little in pain. He didn’t make a sound.
"We’ve got to get out of here," Cloud said urgently. "Now. You’re going ahead of me, and you’re staying behind cover, got it?"
"Got it." Sephiroth said, his voice sounding weaker than usual.
"Get to the train." Cloud ordered.
He stood, sighting down the barrel of his rifle again and shot at their attackers. Gangsters dodged for cover from where they’d gathered around their boss’s body. Sephiroth dragged himself to his feet, a stubborn light in his eyes and his face set as he crouched behind the crates, moving towards their escape from the slums.
Cloud waited a moment, tucked carefully out of sight, then lifted his gun and fired another shot towards the gangsters without bothering to sight. He heard them shouting and scrambling again, and took it as his chance to follow Sephiroth. With any luck, they’d spend long enough hiding from his potential sniping capabilities that they’d be able to get away.
"Did you get him?" Sephiroth asked softly, sounding surprisingly calm.
"I did," Cloud replied blankly, tucking himself under Sephiroth’s arm as they rounded a corner, putting a solid wall between themselves and their attackers. "Did that bullet hit anything important?"
"Potentially clipped an artery," Sephiroth commented. "I bled quite a lot. But it is already healing."
He staggered as he spoke, and Cloud grimaced at the weight on his shoulders. He slung the rifle onto his back, gripping the wrist of the arm Sephiroth had wrapped around him and holding him firmly in place.
"Just keep walking," Cloud said, fighting back panic. "If you die, I will never forgive you, so keep walking."
"I’m not going to die," Sephiroth replied softly. "I wouldn’t leave you like that."
Cloud didn’t answer. He didn’t think a statement that asinine deserved an answer. A few inches lower and the bullet would have pierced Sephiroth’s heart. A few seconds later on pulling him out of the way, and the next shot would have hit him in the head. As strong as Sephiroth was, as impervious to damage, Cloud didn’t think even he could have withstood that.
"I’m sorry," Sephiroth murmured. "It was stupid of me. I’m not used to it."
"To what, guns?" Cloud snapped, glaring at his lover.
"To being afraid," Sephiroth replied softly. "They threw a grenade. It could have killed you…"
"Idiot," Cloud whispered, shifting closer to Sephiroth under the guise of supporting him. "That’s no good reason to get yourself hurt…"
"Hn," Sephiroth shifted, wincing, and pulled his hand and Cloud’s jacket away from staunching the bleeding on his shoulder. Cloud glanced over, and his eyes caught on the shining metal of a bullet cradled in the blood-stained cloth.
"Your body pushed it out?" He asked softly.
"I was made to be very good at staying alive." Sephiroth responded, his voice low and exhausted.
"We’re nearly there." Cloud said instead of responding to Sephiroth’s statement.
“It’s so strange,” Sephiroth whispered softly, “to have someone worrying over me like you do…”
He kept moving, but fell silent after the words, pressing Cloud’s jacket back to his still-bleeding shoulder. The moment they were on the train, he sank into a seat and leaned his head back, breathing slowly and deeply.
Cloud spent the train ride with his fingers on Sephiroth’s pulse, counting the beats of his heart. Sephiroth didn’t object. He didn’t do anything but breathe and watch the ceiling of the train. Everyone who had been in the car with them when they first boarded vanished quickly, leaving the two of them alone.
Sephiroth’s heart kept beating, and Cloud stayed close at his side. When they arrived on top of the plate, Cloud wasn’t surprised that Sephiroth stood on his own as though he’d never been hurt and walked inside, but he knew it for what it was. It was the same front Sephiroth put up when he was wounded on missions, or when he was exhausted from nightmares that kept him from sleeping, or when he was pensive and sad for reasons even he didn’t understand. It was easy for Cloud to see the lie in Sephiroth’s strength once he knew to look for it.
He followed his General quietly as he dropped the blood-stained envelope into Tseng’s waiting hands, and waved off the Turk’s uneasy gaze. Sephiroth didn’t speak to either of them, but left the room silently. He walked to their apartment and stood in the doorway when Cloud opened the door, just breathing. He’d abandoned Cloud’s bloody jacket on the train, and the blood stain on his shoulder was stark.
“Come on,” Cloud murmured, sliding Sephiroth’s jacket off his shoulders gently, careful around where the bullet had been. “Bed.”
Sephiroth followed him silently, letting out a slow breath as he moved after Cloud, his head finally lowering and his stance shifting and weakening as he dropped the mask of strength. By the time they got to their bedroom, Sephiroth collapsed atop the covers, his dress-shirt and pants still on. Cloud sat next to him, stroking his face lightly and trying to calm the fear twisting inside him.
He unbuttoned the stained white shirt gently, peeling off the fabric. Sephiroth shifted obligingly to let Cloud slide it off of him before going back to lying still, breathing softly and slowly, his eyes closed as he recovered. The wound was healed, but the blood was drying on Sephiroth’s skin, caked down from his shoulder to his hip. Cloud took his time cleaning Sephiroth’s chest while his lover rested, letting each moment remind him that they’d lived.
"I’m fine, Cloud," Sephiroth whispered into the silence after a long while. "It was just a bullet. I’ve had worse."
"I know," Cloud whispered, leaning down and kissing Sephiroth lightly. "I guess I’d just never even considered it before."
"Considered what?" Sephiroth’s green eyes were bleary and tired as he cracked them open to look at Cloud.
"That I might lose you." Cloud said softly, brushing his fingers through Sephiroth’s hair, loosening the ponytail holder and setting his long silver locks free. "That you’re not invincible."
Sephiroth stared at him a long moment, then tucked his chin and closed his eyes again. He let out a slow breath and turned into Cloud’s gentle hand. Cloud was never sure if Sephiroth was asleep before he could respond to that statement, or if he simply had no answer. Either way, he was left watching the silver general sleep off one more close call, with the horrible knowledge that if he had still been a Third and not a Second on this stupid disaster of a mission, Sephiroth would be dead.