Title: Of Impulse and Explosions
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Theme: [078.] Greed
Word Count: 3,612
Summary: It was best to keep them out of it. Cloud was done.
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing related to the Kingdom Hearts (or Final Fantasy) franchise. I’m sure it shows.
Author’s Note: That’s right, bitches. I’m not done yet.
Reno was a selfish, greedy little prick and Cloud hated him for it. It had been six days since they returned from the Forgotten City, materia in tow, and five since Reno and Rude broke the unsettling news about the Edge Restoration. Zack was having a merry time, waking around six and dragging Cloud with him to the monument site by seven. Cloud tried to tell them repeatedly that he wanted nothing to do with this, but Reno insisted. Zack wanted the company while he did something productive, because nothing really got Zack going like feeling useful now that he was alive again. Tifa either laughed about the whole situation or told Cloud she thought the menial work would be good to get his mind off Sephiroth. So he had no choice. He had to go. And did anyone care that Cloud had just had a bullet through his chest only a little over a week ago? Not really.
And now that he came to it, they all sucked, really. Greedy, selfish bastards that just wanted Cloud to do all the work they could squeeze out of him while he was here without worrying once if he was feeling all right. Sure, Tifa asked every now and then, but Reno hadn’t asked once, and Zack stopped asking once he started becoming annoyed with Cloud’s constant whining. Not that he was whining, but if he was, Cloud had earned it, damnit, so Zack could just shut his mouth.
Zack, it appeared, also had a short fuse when it came to Cloud’s ability with a hammer.
“I don’t get it,” Zack asked on morning five of Edge Restoration work. “How can your aim be so bad?”
“It’s just like I’ve been trying to tell you,” said Cloud. “I suck with tools. Ask Tifa why she’s been laughing about me doing this every freaking day, okay?”
“But you’re so good with First Tsurugi, and...”
“This is how it is, so pay attention. Hammer and nail? Requires way more accuracy than swinging First Tsurugi at Sephiroth, okay?”
“I understand that. You’re just so fucking helpless.”
“I told you I didn’t want to do this. Don’t get annoyed with me now. You thought it was such a good idea to help...”
“Are we bickering again?” said Reno, walking up behind them. “That monument isn’t going to finish itself.”
“Fuck off, Reno,” said Zack.
“I think the power’s gone to his head,” Cloud muttered.
“I just think you should put more effort into it considering you are the one who had a large part in destroying it, Strife,” Reno went on, ignoring the comment.
“How about I put in the effort when I see you fixing Midgar Highway?”
“Would you stop about that already? It looked cool, okay? And Midgar Highway was already unfinished so it’s not like the explosion set us back that much.”
“You almost killed me.”
“Who cares? Lifestream would’ve just chucked you out anyway, right?”
“That isn’t the point. And as far as I understand, this monument wasn’t really finished, either. And what’s the point, anyway? Shouldn’t we be working on more useful things? Like finishing all the freaking office buildings around here so Rufus Shinra can get down to business already or something? How is that asshole doing, anyway, since he fell off that roof after Kadaj, wheelchair and all?”
Reno scowled. “That’s not a very positive attitude, Strife.”
“Yeah, Spike, you’re bringing down the atmosphere,” said Zack, chuckling. “And don’t talk about Rufus Shinra like that. You know it makes Reno cry.”
“And I expected a better attitude from you, Fair.”
“Aw, I’m just playing,” said Zack. He gave Reno a light shove. “I know your love for Rude far outweighs your love for Shinra. You two are still fucking, right?”
Reno crossed his arms and scowled. “It isn’t like that.”
“Oh, right,” said Zack. He mimicked zippering his mouth. “I got it. You want it kept on the DL. Don’t worry, buddy. I won’t tell anyone.”
“Just get back to work,” Reno snapped and stomped away.
“I think I may have upset him,” Zack said, grinning.
Cloud snorted. “He deserves it. Reno and Rude are just unnatural.”
“You would think so. It doesn’t help you hate his guts, either.”
“I hate Reno a lot less when he isn’t trying to get up my ass about things.”
“I thought you like it when Reno gets up your ass,” said Zack, winking.
“Don’t turn your innuendos on me just because Reno walked away.”
“But it’s true, isn’t it?”
“I fucked him, okay?” Cloud hissed. “It was not the other way around. And let’s just drop it already.”
“I’m sorry! I think you and Reno going at it is hysterical. I can practically hear the sweet nothings you must have whispered to each other.”
“It wasn’t like that.”
“I just wish you would have like...video taped it...or something. That’s high quality entertainment.”
“You have problems. Let’s just work on the fucking monument before he comes back.”
“I thought you have personal objections about working on the monument.”
“The monument is stupid. It’s pointless and our time would be better spent working on more practical things than a stupid monument. But since Bahamut destroyed it and Rufus Shinra cries himself to sleep at night over the loss of its significance enough to put Reno on the job of making sure it’s repaired, we don’t have a choice.” Cloud knelt down and shuffled through the toolbox. “Now which one am I supposed to use?”
Zack laid a hand on Cloud’s shoulder. “Why don’t you just sit down before you hurt yourself?”
“Because Reno feels we have developed a close enough relationship that leaves me entitled to work for him in his time of need,” said Cloud. He rolled his eyes.
“You know you could have avoided encouraging that assumption by not sleeping with him.”
“I’m just saying...”
“He was like this before I slept with him, okay? We kept crossing paths through the whole Sephiroth disaster and when it was all over...you know, the first time...Reno decided that we were now friends and it’s been this way ever since. The smartest thing I ever did was get sex out of it.”
“The smartest thing?”
Cloud huffed. “Okay, maybe not the smartest thing, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyway, the point is that he’d be like this whether I had fucked him or not. You cross paths with the guy a few times and you’re his new best friend; that’s just how Reno is. Now show me what freakin’ tool I’m supposed to use before he comes back here because he’s watching us now.”
Zack snorted, looked at Reno, pointed at Rude, and mimed shoving a cock in his mouth. Reno glared and quickly turned away. Zack laughed. “Problem solved. Now chill out.”
“That was disgusting.”
“Would you stop your bitching? I took care of Reno and now I’m going to take care of the monument. Why don’t you just go see what else you can work on that’s more purposeful to you or something?”
“Because then you’ll bitch about me abandoning you and how you had to resort to talking to yourself all day or something equally stupid.”
Zack sighed. “You know, Reno does have a point. You’re being a miserable son of a bitch and you really need to lighten up or something. Be happy. Go. Now.”
Cloud looked up glared. “I’m happy. See how fucking happy I am? I am so happy to be stuck in Edge with a healing bullet wound in my chest working on a stupid Shinra monument while Sephiroth could be fucking anywhere. I’m so happy I could shit myself.”
“I told you to find another project if you hate this one so much.”
“Yes. Because that will take me one step closer to my ultimate happiness in destroying Sephiroth.”
Zack rolled his eyes and looked away. “Why don’t you go back to Tifa’s then? Or Hollow Bastion? Or something? No one’s forcing you to be here.”
“I’m going to have to disagree with you on that one.”
Zack turned back and glared. “No. No one is holding a gun to your head and telling you to be here. If there’s somewhere else you’d rather be, just go and stop hanging around here being a miserable bastard. I’ve had enough trying to make you chill out, and I’m sick of your fucking attitude. I’m sorry Sephiroth got away, but it isn’t my fault and it isn’t Reno’s fault, so take out your aggravation somewhere else or just shut the hell up.”
Cloud sneered. “Fuck you.”
“No. Fuck you, you miserable shit! What Reno is trying to do for Edge is actually really good for the people living here. I’m sorry if you can’t see that. And I’m here because I want to help. I know you have issues with this world, but there are some people who call this home. They need this. Everything isn’t about you and your shit, Cloud. So stop being such an ass or get the hell out of here.”
Cloud just sat there, glaring at Zack, but Zack paid him no mind and got back to work. After a moment of silence in which Cloud fumed over Zack talking to him like such a prick, Zack’s phone rang.
“Hello?” said Zack. He paused and then glared down at Cloud. “Yeah, he’s here. What’s up?” Zack paused again and then said, “Yeah, sure. Hold on a sec.” He thrust the phone. “It’s for you. Leon.”
Cloud gave Zack a chilling stare and took the phone. “Hey. What’s up?”
“You’re a hard asshole to get a hold of, you know that?” said Leon.
“I’m not really in the mood for this,” said Cloud.
“Yeah, well, I was just calling to let you know that Riku and I were out at the castle this morning...”
Cloud perked up, a little irritation fading away. “Riku’s in Hollow Bastion?” Somewhere out of his peripheral vision, Zack looked back and scowled.
“Yeah, Riku’s here...” said Leon.
“How is he? How long has he been there?”
Leon sighed. “He’s been here since the day before yesterday. If you called your boyfriend you would know these things. It’s not like he can call you without your damn phone, but you know, we’ve already been through how hard you are to get hold of.”
“Leon, please don’t give me this shit, okay? I don’t have a phone to call him, and I’m not going to ask Tifa for hers any time soon so I just wanted to know what was up with my boyfriend. You know, why he’s in Hollow Bastion, what he’s up to, how he is...”
“He came because he wanted to talk about some stuff and...geez, Cloud, this isn’t the point of why I was trying to call you. Let me tell you what I need to and then you can talk to Riku all you like.”
Cloud sighed. “Yeah, okay. I’d rather talk to him directly, anyway. So what’s up?”
“Okay, so Riku and I were up at the castle this morning and decided to head back to Merlin’s for lunch and you wouldn’t believe who we saw out in the Dark Depths on the way back.”
Cloud sighed. “Who?”
It took a second to sink in and then Cloud said, “Son of a fucking bitch, cock sucker mother fucker. You’re fucking kidding me. Okay. Fine. Look, Reno’s all up my ass and Tifa’s been pissing me off and don’t even get me started on Zack, so you know, I’ll be there as soon as I can sneak away.”
“Yeah, okay,” said Leon, and with that, Cloud snapped the phone shut. He handed it back to Zack.
“Don’t even get you started on me, huh?” said Zack.
“Shut up. I’m still not fucking happy with you.”
“What was the call about?”
“Nothing. Leon just needs me back in Hollow Bastion.”
“So you’re heading back there?”
“At some point, yeah. Why?”
Zack regarded him for a moment and then shrugged. “Just curious. You better tell Tifa before you take off, though. She’ll be pissed if you just leave without telling anyone.”
“Yeah, right,” said Cloud.
He stared up at the sky as Zack got back to work. Sephiroth was in Hollow Bastion. Son of a fucking bitch.
“Zack said you were in a bad mood today,” said Tifa as they sat down to dinner that evening. Zack averted his eyes.
“Reno’s kind of getting under his skin,” said Zack.
“He also said you got a call from Leon. What was that about?”
Cloud knew he could tell them the call was about Sephiroth and they’d understand when he took off, but the last thing he wanted was someone volunteering to come along for moral support. Tifa was likely to tell him to take some time before flying over there with his wounds only freshly healed. Zack would agree and then he’d be held here in Edge even longer than he’d like, at Reno’s mercy, and on edge with all of his friends. Cloud sighed.
“Nothing,” he said. “Leon’s just got a lot to do and he wants me to come back to help. That and he’s probably badly in need of some company other than Yuffie.”
“Riku’s there, too, right?” said Zack. He lifted his eyebrows in a knowing gesture. Tifa frowned.
“So were you planning on going back to see Riku or something?” she said. “Because he’ll probably be gone by the time you get there.”
“Are you leaving already, Cloud?” said Marlene. She pouted.
“I already told you Leon asked me to come. It has nothing to do with Riku,” said Cloud. He looked pointedly at Tifa. “And if I wanted to go back to see Riku, I don’t see how there’s anything wrong with that. Sure, he’ll probably be gone by the time I get there, but he’s been in Hollow Bastion twice since I’ve been here so he’ll show up there again eventually.”
“I don’t know why you can’t just help out here,” said Tifa. “Leon’s got plenty of people to help him out in Hollow Bastion and Reno only just got the Edge Restoration started. Besides, Denzel and Marlene like you around.”
There was nothing that irritated Cloud more than when Tifa tried to use the kids to get him to stay. He frowned.
“I don’t really want to work on the Edge Restoration, okay? I hate this place and if I have to be working on some stupid project, I’d rather be doing it with people I care about.”
“So you don’t care about us?”
“That’s not what I said.”
“Yes, you did. You hate Edge and you’d rather not do anything with us because you don’t care, right?”
“I don’t care about Reno or Rude or Shinra. I didn’t mean you.”
“Then what’s up, Cloud? Just stay around here and help out. We like having you here. If you don’t want to help out with the Restoration, don’t, but you could stick around. Besides, what if Sephiroth shows up around here again?”
Cloud rolled his eyes. “What if he doesn’t? Listen, I don’t have anything against you, or Zack, and I love Marlene and Denzel, but I just want to get out of here, okay? I hate being here because of personal reasons and you know that. Just let me get out of here for me, okay?”
“For you?” said Tifa. “For you. Are you serious? Everything’s about what you want or you need! Do you know how hard it is for everyone when you’re gone? Or how we feel when you just blow us off? You come here for a little while and then you just take off right away without caring or even thinking about how it affects us! Do you ever think about anyone but yourself?”
“Excuse me?” said Cloud. “Are you kidding me? Do you ever think about how your guilt trips get to me? Or how much pressure you put on me all the time to hang around this stupid place or come back here when I don’t want to be here? Do you ever consider how many bad memories I have here or that I come to this place I hate so much just to see you half the time?”
“Oh, be real. You come back for Sephiroth!”
“Every time I’ve come back here hasn’t been for Sephiroth,” said Cloud. “I guess you haven’t noticed that!”
“Yeah, maybe once in a while, but how often do we have to chase after you, huh? And you never stay when we ask you to! All you care about is what you want to do! You don’t care about Marlene or Denzel wanting you here or that I might want you here! You take off all the time, even when you’re still in this world! And what about the way you’ve been treating Zack just because you’re worried it might upset Riku?”
“Oh, don’t you even bring Riku into this!” said Cloud. He pounded the table. “That’s fucking unfair! The entire way you treat me is unfair! You have this bizarre preoccupation with keeping me around here as long as you can possibly manage without having any gratitude I come to visit in the first place!”
“We’re friends, Cloud. I shouldn’t have to have gratitude for a friend visiting me!”
“You know what, Tifa? You’re right. We are friends. That’s it! And friends don’t have to go through this kind of shit I have to go through! Friends visit friends for a day or a week, but you want to keep me here for fucking years catering to you and the kids! And now you want me catering to Zack, too, just to make him feel better about everything that happened!”
“No, Tifa. It’s fucking weird the way you try to keep me here, and I’m sorry if you’re still in love with me, but it is! You’re constantly up my ass about things, acting like I should be here all the time because I have to be! But guess what? I don’t! I’m not your boyfriend! I never was! I don’t have to be here in this stupid world for you! And I’m not his boyfriend anymore, either!” Cloud jerked his head toward Zack and then looked right at him. “Yeah, that’s right. I’m not. And I’m not going to be ever again!” Zack shook his head and looked away, but Cloud looked right back at Tifa and kept going. “And you know what else? I’m not their father! Marlene and Denzel aren’t my kids! They never were! Vincent is way more of a father to them than I am! And I acknowledge that I was living here when they first came to stay with you, but I’m not anymore! I have my own life and I’d like to just live it without you constantly guilting me! I can’t take it anymore, Tifa! I know you mean well and I love you to death but you need to just let me go instead of trying to hold me hostage here!”
Tifa pressed her lips together, looked down at the table, and then looked back up. “Cloud, I think you should go calm down before you say anything else you might regret,” she said, calmly. “You’re way out of line and I don’t appreciate it, especially in front of the kids.”
Cloud could do nothing but stare at her and shake his head. He took a breath. “Fine. I’m going to bed. Please do me a favor and don’t wake me.”
Tifa folded her hands in her lap. “Good night, Cloud.”
He turned from the table and stormed upstairs.
It was eerily quiet downstairs for the rest of the night as Cloud lay in his bed, staring at the ceiling, fuming. The only thing he regretted was losing it in front of Marlene and Denzel, but he couldn’t help it. He was so sick and tired of Tifa acting like he was her goddamn husband or something, and then there was Zack acting like Cloud owed him something, and he was just at the end of his goddamn patience. Perhaps he had overreacted, but Cloud just couldn’t be calm right now when he was already fuming about Sephiroth. And maybe he was being selfish, but Cloud felt like such a child under Tifa’s watch, and he just couldn’t kiss her ass anymore just to make her fucking happy. Clearly nothing he did was right and therefore was no good for them, anyway. It was best to just keep his distance and eventually they’d realize it was for the best. He was done.
He pretended to be asleep when Zack came up to bed and stayed that way, staring quietly into the dark until Zack was snoring and surely asleep. He waited another hour and then snuck out the bedroom door, prepared to pretend he was heading to the bathroom in case Tifa, Vincent, or one of the kids caught him wandering the house this late at night. When the house remained quiet, he took the stairs down to the bar, scribbled a quick note to explain he was leaving, and then headed out of the house on foot. Fenrir would be too loud and sure to wake someone and Cloud decided he’d just have to have good faith she’d still be around if he ever returned to retrieve her.
It was close to one in the morning when Cloud boarded his gummi ship and set course for Hollow Bastion.
(Prompt Table) for previous installments. 78/100 Complete.