|miko_no_da (miko_no_da) wrote,|
@ 2009-07-29 10:14:00
|Entry tags:||'long road to destiny', cloud, ffvii, ffx, fic, sephiroth, zack|
[Fic] A Long Road To Destiny - FFVII/FFX - Zack, Cloud & Sephiroth - 6/25?
I was out on a boat yesterday and got a little seasick myself, so I had fresh sympathy for Cloud's plight while writing this. ^_^
Title: A Long Road to Destiny
Series: FFVII/FFX fusion
Pairing: Cloud, Zack & Sephiroth
Warnings: violence, angst, swearing, the usual
Chapter length: 5618
Total length: 33,768
The summoner's journey is a long, hard path to walk. Having guardians you trust makes all the difference in the world.
Cloud clung to the railing, trying not to be too obvious about the desperation in his grip. The receding shore grew smaller and smaller behind them, leaving them alone in a vast expanse of ocean. Soon Kilika would be out of sight completely, and it would be a full day before Luca and the mainland came into view.
"Missing Kilika already?" Zack teased him. His guardian stood nearby, hands shading his eyes as he looked out over the sun-sparkled water. "If anyone should be getting homesick for it, it's me."
"It's 'homesickness' for solid land, not Kilika in particular," Cloud murmured. They'd forced him to eat breakfast early that morning, and he could feel it sloshing in his stomach as the ship rocked along. "At least it's nice and calm today."
"Yeah," Zack said, but he didn't sound like he really agreed. Cloud glanced up and found Zack frowning out at the sea, so calm it was like a mirror. The sky was clear and bright, with only the faintest hint of clouds on one horizon.
"Something wrong?" Sephiroth asked, apparently hearing the same note of worry in Zack's voice that Cloud had picked up. The other man was resting in the shade of the umbrella set up for that purpose, shielding his pale skin from the sun.
"It's a little too nice," Zack said, shaking his head. "You've heard the expression 'calm before the storm'? That's what this reminds me of. We're on the early side of hurricane season, but only barely. There have been storms this early in the past."
"If there was a storm coming, there would have been warning flags up and the captain wouldn't have weighed anchor. He knows the sea as well or better than you, Zack." Sephiroth seemed unconcerned, which reassured Cloud a bit.
"Yeah, I guess." Zack glanced at Cloud. "Don't worry, kid. Seph's right, the captain knows his business. And whatever else people say about the Al Bhed, they always warn us when there's a big storm coming."
"Was I being that obvious?" Cloud muttered, ducking his head. The thought of being at sea in a storm made him sweat nearly as bad as the fires in Kilika's temple had. He felt Evned stir within him at the thought, and quickly urged the aeon back down again. His control over it still wasn't perfect, and he didn't want to encourage it in any way.
"Only a little," Zack said, smiling at him. "How's your stomach? You look a little green around the gills. Oh!" He smacked his forehead, startling Cloud. "Geez, I almost forgot. Here, try these." He reached into his pocket and produced, of all things, a handful of tantal greens.
"Haha, very funny," Cloud said, glaring at him. "What do I look like, a chocobo?"
"Well, now that you mention it..." Zack eyed Cloud's spiky mop of bright yellow hair significantly. Cloud punched him, and his guardian laughed. "No, seriously. You don't eat them, you just chew on them. They help with seasickness." He offered them again, his expression eagerly sincere. Cloud eyed him warily, not quite trusting that it wasn't some kind of prank, but he could find no hint that Zack was secretly laughing at him.
"If you cannot trust your guardians, your journey is doomed to fail before it even begins," Sephiroth put in unexpectedly.
"I trust you both with my life," Cloud said, sighing and reaching for the greens. "I'm just not sure I trust him with my pride." Sephiroth smiled and inclined his head, acknowledging the point. "I'm just going to throw them up again, you know."
"Try them and see," was all Zack would say.
Cloud broke off a generous sprig and popped it in his mouth. It tasted... well, green. He couldn't come up with any other word for it. He chewed it, the tough fibres grinding but not really giving way beneath his teeth, producing a faint trickle of minty juice.
Almost immediately the worst of his nausea subsided. Cloud nearly choked in surprise, then coughed and chewed a little more vigorously. "It helps," he said, thrilled. "I wouldn't want to eat anything, but I'm not about to lose my breakfast anymore, either." The sensation still lingered, but it was much easier to ignore. Maybe this journey wouldn't be such a torment after all.
"I've got more than enough to last the whole trip," Zack declared. He looked justifiably smug. "Can't have our summoner wasting away to nothing before we even get to Luca! So, now that you're not clinging to the rail like a lifeline, want me to show you around the ship a little?"
"Yes, please!" Cloud agreed eagerly.
Sephiroth chuckled. "Yes, go help Zack run off some of his energy so he doesn't go stir-crazy. I'll stay here in the shade, thank you."
"Spoilsport," Zack laughed. "C'mon, Cloud. We'll leave old Sourpuss McLazybones here to his beauty sleep while we have some fun."
Instead of dragging out in an eternity of illness, the day flew by in a whirlwind of fun and new experiences. Cloud already knew that Zack was familiar with ships, but he hadn't realized how much his guardian knew about them. He also hadn't realized that Zack knew almost everyone on the ship at least by sight - and if he didn't already know them, he quickly charmed them into friendliness.
Zack showed him the massive paddles churning the water at the back of the boat, and took him down below to greet the chocobos who powered them by running endlessly in a set of giant wheels. Cloud got a tour of the bridge, and peeked into the room that held the huge gears connecting the paddles and the chocobo wheels. He even managed to eat a light lunch, which was arguably the highlight of the day.
"You look like you had fun," Sephiroth observed when they both returned, sun-flushed and windblown, to the top deck.
"I had no idea boats were so interesting," Cloud exclaimed. "I didn't even know there were chocobos, or anything. Zack knows everything." He'd developed a touch of hero-worship for his guardian over the course of the day. Which was only fair, really, considering the way he already idolized Sephiroth.
"The greens seem to have worked their promised magic," Sephiroth noted, smiling at him. "The wind has picked up, but the waves don't seem to be bothering you at all."
Surprised, Cloud looked out over the water and realized he was right. The earlier glass-smooth surface had vanished into a froth of small wavelets, and the boat was rocking quite a bit. Yet Cloud was still only a little nauseated, easily ignored. "Thanks, Zack," he said, the words warm and sincere. "I was really dreading this, but it's been a great day."
"Huh? Oh, yeah, no problem," Zack answered, distracted as he stared out over the water. The clouds were still sitting on the western horizon, but they were no longer a thin mist. Piles upon piles of them broke the line between water and sky, reaching in some places high enough to make Cloud feel dwarfed, and they were a dark grey in colour. Dim flashes lit the clouds from within at irregular intervals, and Cloud shivered as he realized it was lightning.
"Is it going to storm after all?" Cloud asked uneasily.
"Maybe, but I'm sure it's nothing," Zack said, obviously making an effort to sound reassuring. He turned away from the rail and clapped Cloud on the shoulder. "Let's go check out our quarters. You're the only summoner on the ship, so we get the reserved cabin all to ourselves."
"Reserved cabin?" Cloud repeated, surprised. He followed Zack back down the stairs, and this time Sephiroth came with them.
"Sure," Zack said. "This is one of the main ferries between Kilika and Luca, so they see lots of summoners between calms. As a courtesy they keep one cabin reserved if there's a summoner aboard." He stopped in front of a discreetly marked door and threw it open with a grin. "Ta-dah... what the fuck?"
The room within was complete chaos. Their bags - Zack's and Sephiroth's bags, really - had been brought down, and someone had torn into them and scattered their belongings everywhere. Almost everything had been broken, torn, or otherwise ruined. The bedding on the berths had been knotted together - and from the smell of it, someone had used it as a toilet as well. Written in what looked like charcoal across one wall was a single word: 'Heretic'.
Cloud stood there, gaping, torn between rage and humiliation. "I guess somebody noticed I'm Al Bhed," he said, his voice tight. He started to pick his way forward, hoping to at least salvage some of their equipment, but Sephiroth grabbed his arm and stopped him.
"Let the ship's crew take care of the mess," Sephiroth said quietly. "Zack, you stay here and watch over him while I speak to the captain. People who are willing to go this far might be tempted by an opportunity to act more directly, and they must still be on the ship somewhere."
"They won't get the chance," Zack promised, his eyes snapping with outrage. He shut the door again to block the worst of the stench, and gestured for Cloud to wait across the hall.
The ship's mate who hurried down the stairs a few minutes after Sephiroth's departure was pale and sweating, and looked oddly nervous. Cloud eyed him warily as he approached, but the man stopped just out of arm's reach and bowed to Cloud. "The captain sends his regrets and apologies, my l-lord summoner," he said, stumbling only a little over the title. "We'll clean up the mess right away, and he respectfully offers one of our other cabins for you tonight."
"And our belongings?" Sephiroth prompted, coming down behind the man.
The mate gulped and glanced over his shoulder at the former summoner. Cloud had to bite his lip on a laugh as he realized why the man was so anxious. It wasn't guilt, as he'd first thought, but rather an understandable and very healthy fear of Sephiroth's displeasure. Having seen the man deliver one scathing dressing-down in Besaid already, Cloud had a certain amount of sympathy for innocents caught in Sephiroth's fury.
"Anything we can fix or salvage we'll give to you in the morning," the sailor said. He hesitated, but when Sephiroth gave him a pointed look, he added unhappily, "Anything that needs replacement will be our own expense, of course."
"Thank you," Cloud said, doing his best to play the part of the dignified summoner. He even bowed to the man, making the sign of Yevon.
"The room in the far corner is unoccupied," the man said, pointing at the door furthest from the soiled cabin. "It's much smaller, but..."
"But we're just one summoner and a couple of guardians, not a whole big party," Zack said, apparently taking pity on the man. "We'll manage."
The room was indeed much smaller, with only four narrow hammocks slung from posts instead of berths built into the walls, and almost no room for luggage. Cloud could immediately see why the room was still empty; it was right next to the engine room, and he could hear the creaking of gears and the occasional strident 'wark' from the other side of the wall. The mate was eyeing him anxiously, looking like he expected a tantrum of some kind in response.
Cloud smiled. "It will be nice to be able to hear the birds," he said. "Practically like being at home." Obviously relieved that Cloud wasn't going to kick up a fuss, the mate bowed again and hurried off.
"Well," Zack said, leaning his sword against the wall before settling easily into one of the hammocks. "This isn't so bad, really. Could have been a lot..."
Cloud just barely managed to get a hand over his guardian's mouth in time to stop him from finishing the sentence. Unfortunately his hasty lunge also tipped the hammock over and dumped Zack out, getting them both tangled up in the process.
"Don't say it," Cloud scolded his bemused friend. Sephiroth, chuckling, moved to help untangle them. "Just don't ever say things like that. The universe is always happy to prove that you're right -things can always get worse."