Too long for comments.There were four things in life that Cloud Strife feared more than anything else. The first was failure, the second was failure in front of General Sephiroth, and the third was currently banging on his door yelling the fourth. Zack Darklighter. Yelling some variation of 'Cloud c'mere I need you for something.' On a Friday night, no less, which meant Zack is almost certainly some state of plastered which in turn meant that the next morning Cloud would inevitably wake up in a strange place with the Planet's worst headache, missing his pants, and likely covered in some kind of dessert or chocobo feathers. Or both."Cloud has guard duty tonight!" Cloud yells back through the door, not daring to open it without a broom or a submachine gun or some other kind of physical deterrent handy. Zack's enthusiasm was known to go to extremes."Cloud's awesome bestest buddy in SOLDIER canceled it because he can do that. Now get your spiky ass out here, I need to you to dress up like a whore and go down to the Slums with me on a top secret super confidential mission!"Sadly, that isn't the strangest thing Zack has ever shouted through a door at him."Are you drunk?" the trooper queries suspiciously, groping for the nearest weapon/pointy thing, which happens to be a mop. "High? Hungover? Concussed? Some other state of mentally altered?""Of course I am, what's that got to do with anything?" There is genuine puzzlement in Zack's voice."And wearing pants?"A moment of silence which means the Captain had to check. Cloud groans mentally and wonders what he'd done in a past life to deserve a friend like Zack."Pants fully present and accounted for. Geez." "And does the General know about this top secret mission?""Cloud, it wouldn't be a secret mission if everyone knew about it.""No dice." Not Sephiroth acknowledged or Sephiroth approved, Cloud is not going. For once in his life on a weekend he'd like to go to sleep in his /own/ bed /with/ pants and maybe Zack would take a hint and show some consideration. He did know how, Cloud knew he did because he'd witnessed it, but for the most part Zack did everything in his power to maintain his reputation of human-shaped force of chaos unless someone forced him to abandon it. Like Sephiroth, because the General was strong enough to knock sense through Zack's thick head, or Cloud himself, because like any husband Zack would eventually and grudgingly respond to lack of sex. "Sorry, what was that?"Cloud frowns in puzzlement, wondering why Zack's voice suddenly sounded further away. "I said, I'm not going," he repeats loudly. "Kay, that's what I thought you said." Definitely further away."Whatever crazy idea you've got cooking in your brain you can leave me out for once, thanks, I'm sure Angel or one of the others of your stupid harem, you bastard would be more than happy to--""If you're standing right by the door, you shouldn't be," Zack interrupts, and then the door explodes inward as the SOLDIER had just taken a running leap and rammed it hard with his shoulder. "Fuck ow ow ow splinters ow.""Goddammit Zack!" Cloud catches his friend upside the head with the mop handle, furious to the point of inarticulation and knowing that a quick offensive is the only solution to avoid getting tackled and carried off over one shoulder. "That was my only door!""Of course it was your only door, you---OW." The SOLDIER bats the offending instrument away with one hand. "What am I supposed to do tonight for a door, huh?!""You won't need one!" Zack is grinning despite his beating, never a good sign. "Wall Market ho, remember?""I told you I'm not goi--" Cloud stops mid-tirade, staring at his weapon. It had apparently broken on Zack's head. They both look at it, and then at each other."Don't you dare," Cloud warns furiously.Two seconds later, the other troopers in Cloud's unit were treated to the now familiar sight of a young blond MP caterwauling and struggling as he was carted off like so much baggage over the shoulder of one manically beaming SOLDIER Captain. Some stared. Some snickered. Most were simply thankful that they hadn't made SOLDIER, since the treatments obviously did fucked up things to your head.*****They ended up using Sephiroth's rooms despite the lack of door (Zell jury-rigged a shower curtain, mumbling about his future bleeding out on the floor), mostly because it was an absolute certainty that no one was going to walk in uninvited, even through a shower curtain.Irvine had taken a hike down to medical, Zell was in a corner pretending desperately that he didn't exist and thanking whatever deities watched over the victims of sadistic superior officers that he was only supposed to tail the group unobtrusively and not participate. Cal stood silent with arms folded and leaning against the wall, waiting patiently for Zack's return.The necessary equipment (and some unneccessary but oh so thoughtful extras, like the riding crop and the handcuffs and the strawberry flavored lube) for the disguise was spread out over half the bed, a counter, and two chairs. God only knew where Zack had found all of it on such short notice, especially the glitter and the make-up. Then again, one never knew with Zack.Rufus is staring at the lot of it with a sick expression. No one in the room blames him.Zack's return is preceded by the sounds of a heated argument/rape out in the hallway soon spilling into the room and resolving into the protests (ignored) and struggling of one Cloud Strife as his best friend methodically and blithely strips him the rest of the way down. The leather pants are already in place (elevator muffled the shrieks of protest), and getting the rest of Cloud's uniform off probably wouldn't have been such a difficult issue if Zack could keep his hands out of them. Which of course he can't. "I am NOT wearing that in front of a Turk and Rufus Shinra and god knows who else and you can't possibly make me--mmpphhf" Being pushed up against a convenient wall and kissed like the world was ending is not an effective way to protest removal of clothing, and Cloud knows it, and so Zack at last succeeds in getting the shirt halfway off."Everyone, say hi to the other Rufus for the evening," Zack announces when he lets Cloud up for air and the boy sags against him, panting. "Perfect look-a-likes, right?""Only if you're planning on giving the Vice President a few hickies to match," Zell mutters.
The glare that Rufus levels at Zell is a rare specimen -- the 'this is the Vice President of the world's most powerful Company at the end of the most fucked up day in history and you just about made it worse' glare, full force, all the usual censors like diplomacy and tact and would-rather-not-be-murdered-now-thanks currently deactivated. "Don't even think of it," Rufus growls, sounding entirely too ready to rip someone's throat out and tentacle rape them. He learnt from Dark Nation, after all. However, it is rather nice to see that worse things could have been done to his dignity. Such as whatever Zack is currently doing to that poor boy. Why on earth did that MP put up with him? Very quietly, he resolves not to put himself in a position to be carted around screaming on Zack's shoulder."Very well." He pushes himself away from the wall he's presently leaning on and glances over at Rafe, signalling the Turk to start picking out pieces of the ...disguise. Not that he trusts Rafe at this juncture, but he trusts Zack even less.
Rafe dutifully begins to sift through the vast collection of ties, belts, boots, straps, collars, various bondage equipment that wouldn't be appropriate for the disguise at all (somehow, he doubted trotting around with a cat o' nine tails was going to help their bid for anonymity, even in such a crackpot haven as Wall Market)...hell, it looked like that SOLDIER captain had raided the entire Honeybee on the eve of a visit by the Don. The Turk continues to rummage for several minutes."This should do, sir." Turning, Rafe presents what he hopes to be a pallatable compromise between innocent and whore. Leather cut-off pants that strap low on the waist. Pale cream jacket open at the front. Polished black boots, with enough metal on them to set off a slew of detectors.And a ribbon. A dark red one, in fact, which ties easily around the neck like a schoolboy's sash. ...Or a collar. But the boy doesn't need to know that little detail. "There's a few other things that might help the disguise, but I doubt the Captain has them in his possession."
Zack would have responded to the comment about things being missing (no doubt he could have found them if he only tried a little harder), but he's too busy groping dealing with Cloud. The boy gives a leather collar a half-panicked, half furious stare. "You have got to be kidding me.""Collar and leash," Zack says firmly, dumping some choice items onto the pile already in Cloud's arms after watching what Rafe had given Rufus. "And all the rest of it. Gotta make sure you two match at least somewhat." He gently shoves the blond in the direction of the other room, since Rufus would probably appreciate (or not) having the mirror in the bathroom to check his disguise in before coming out to face the inevitable ridicule scrutiny of everyone. "And will the two of you move it? It's going to be next week before we even get to Wall Market."
He's never quite appreciated the full extent of the phrase 'skin crawling' before. It feels as though the entire dermis is sloughing away at the moment. Not as bad it ...could... be... not beside the assortment that Rafe passed over. But.Still.And he realizes, as he strides into the bathroom to change, that this means he can't bring his shotgun.After a furious five minutes or so spent scowling at his reflection and wondering just what the hell people think is so hot about this, he storms out again, depositing an armful of suit, black turtleneck, concealed shoulder pistol 1, concealed shoulder pistol 2, materia braclet, and materia (and keys and keycards and wallet and random pens and, strangely enough, a metal ruler) on the nearest chair. He take special care to heft the shotgun before sitting it down on the pile. Anyone who laughs, dies.You know what you need? Alcohol. Lots of it.Ramuh, the pants are so low that they feel as if they're going to fall off. Maybe that's what they're designed to do, except that they're hugging his hips so tightly that he's sure he's losing circulation to his toes. "Fine." He attempts to shove his hands into his pockets -- bad habits -- but there's no way his fingers can even fit into those pants, and settles for crossing his arms instead. "Is there something else, or can we go?"
He could sell this, he really could.Those were the first thoughts that crossed Rafe's mind when he saw the Vice President walk out, all decked out in leather and lace, with the perfect pouty expression on his face for an obstinate schoolboy playing hard-to-get. The Turk wonders if there are lessons for these things. The crinkled eyebrows, the crossed arms, the mock imperious gaze...all that was needed was a bit of seductive spin, and -Not that this interest was any reflection on his professionality, oh no, this was simply an objective observation of the disguise's authenticity on the open market. And. Of course. ...Building history. Yes. They needed some background in the event that any patrons got too curious and started pressing for sources. "Just a little rouge for the lips and blush." He swipes the necessary items off the bed and hands them over. "Otherwise, unless Captain Darklighter has any further suggestions, we should have you and your body double here practice acting the part before setting off."
"The body double has a name," Cloud grumbles as he re-enters the room a heartbeat after Rufus, the expression on his already painted face just as irritable as the Vice President's but wearing his outfit with a sort of resigned familiarity. As much as he disliked Zack's habit of trotting him out in public in embarassing outfits, there's also something to be said for the way the SOLDIER suddenly can't quite look at anything else in the room except him. "It's Cloud." He remembers who else is in the room and jerks his gaze to the floor. "Um. I mean. Trooper Strife, Vice President sir." He doesn't know the Turk's name. "At, um, your service." He winces, realzing how wrong that probably sounds, and wonders frantically if he should be saluting. Couldn't you get in trouble for not saluting superiors? Did it count if you were dressed like a whore at the time? Zack is no help either, of course. "No further suggestions," he echoes vaguely in answer to Rafe, gaze fixed and thoroughly distracted, and behind the flustered nervousness Cloud can't help a tiny expression of triumph when Zell snickers. Cal also catches Cloud's eye to give him a slow wink. "Hair," she reminds the distracted Captain gently."Right, hair. Just mess it up." Cloud does so, not quite daring to look at Rufus or the dark haired Turk. "Anything else?""Er."Cal prods Zack. "Practice.""Right, practice." The SOLDIER shakes his head, recovering from whatever dark sewer his mind had obviously disappeared down once Cloud's ass in those pants had come into view. "Not difficult at all, your Highnessness. Just act like Scarlet and hang all over Rafe. But blush. And don't look anyone in the eye. And don't say anything you don't have to. Don't get insulted by what anyone says or how they look at you, remember you're supposed to be taken and act like it...actually, Cloud, just c'mere."
Warily, Cloud does as asked, knowing full well he's about to get horrifically embarassed and probaly molested by the hungry way Zack is looking at him. He stops a short distance away and waits, eyeing his friend."Hesitance is good.” Zack’s voice goes clinical, as if he were teaching a bunch of recruits the basics of firearm safety. “You don't want to act like you're bored with your client, or someone might think to ask if you'd prefer a new one." He takes a step towards Cloud and the blond waits, watching."Flatter your client by making everyone else in the room want you, and then make them watch him have you. Prove you’ve been bought and paid for." Another step forward has them almost but not quite touching. Still Cloud doesn’t move, leash trailing from his collar down the length of his spine and stealing looks from under his messy bangs. One hand rises to take Cloud's chin, lifting it proprietarily, and the boy raises his eyes defiantly with the motion. Zack's thumb traces across the soft fullness of Cloud's bottom lip. "Make them watch very, very closely," he instructs softly, head bent just above the flutter of blond’s suddenly unsteady breathing. He waits there, catching and holding Rufus’ gaze beyond Cloud’s shoulder, until Cloud takes the initiative and, letting blue eyes slide closed, shifts the final centimeter into Zack and fits himself to the older man with the ease of long practice. The kiss is predictably long, enthusiastically passionate, and doubtless unfit for public decency statutes. Zell by this point is staring resolutely at the opposite wall, face crimson and fingers twitching. Cal raises an eyebrow and turns to Rufus, since apparently Zack won’t have his mouth back to say anything for several minutes. Who knew ordinary troopers could hold their breath that long. “Think you can handle that?”
No. No way in hell..........But he's Rufus Shinra. There is nothing that Rufus Shinra cannot do. "Yes," he grates out, looking around for a coat. "And I'm not wandering around in the building wearing this." He snags a trench that looks like it'll fit off Zack's bed. Black, and leather, but infinitely than what he's wearing at the moment. And if they sneak out through the backdoor -- that's one thing he's had enough practice in, anyway -- chances are they won't run into anything.Tseng had BETTER not be in the area.He sneaks a glance at Rafe out of the corner of his eyes, and resists the urge to sigh. Not to say that the Turk isn't good looking, but the hair.It could be worse. It could be............Durman.Or.RENO.He takes a moment to gather his thoughts from where they have fled screaming to cower in the corner. Nothing wrong with Reno, except that he'd find ways to make a simple kiss even MORE illegal than Zack and Cloud. If that's even possible. "Let's go," he says, unwilling to drag out this farce any longer.
"Saying 'yes' and proving it are two different things." Zack may look the part of thoroughly corrupt senior officer, personal boytoy draped all over him and everything, but there's a note of gravity in his voice that hadn't been there before as he gives Rufus a steady. "If you freeze on the spot out there because your dignity won't let you play the role, we're all liable to get shot. Forget for a moment how pissed off you are and recall that going to Wall Market was your idea. This is all for your benefit."Rufus ought to know that anyone getting caught sneaking the Vice President out into the city without an official escort is probably grounds for court martial, termination (possibly even in the fatal sense), or god knows what else. In order to make it look like he gave a damn about his son's welfare with all this Avalanche business, Daddy Shinra was more or less obliged to crack down very hard on all official security measures. That way no blame would possibly be accorded to him if (when) an assassin's bullet finally found its mark."We're not asking you to strip naked and dance on a pole or anything." Zack detangles himself from Cloud and tosses his own leather jacket at the trooper. "Just kiss the man so we know you're committed and we'll be off. Pretend that it's .."--and he catches himself-- "..er, someone else, if that helps."
He can almost hear the name in that last sentence, which makes his ingrained paranoia shriek and wonder just how Zack has found out.But in the meantime......he's pretty damn sick and tired of being shoved around. No doubt there's an element of truth in that this is an effective disguise. Perhaps it's even the best one and he's not being taken for a lark. It doesn't mean they're not getting a huge kick out of it and laughing at his expense, and damned if he's going to let that go on. People have largely stopped bullying him precisely because they quickly learn that he doesn't play.Irritation melts away. Fury melts away. He stalks forward, discarding the coat on the nearest coat hanger (Rafe) and comes to a stop bare inches away from Zack."You forget yourself, Captain," he says softly. "Your duty is to protect the executive at all costs, whether it's my father making one of his weekly pilgramages to Wall Market, or myself. Said duty is to be carried out at all cost, and falls solely on you --" he pauses to sweep the room with a glare "-- on all of you to perform, regardless of how your charge handles himself. If I freeze on the spot, your job, SOLDIER, is to make sure that I don't get shot. If I decide to walk into Wall Market flaunting my Shinra ID, it's up to you to make sure that I don't get killed." He smiles grimly. "That's what we pay you for. Not to play your little games. The fact that I have a tendency to indulge your schemes to make your job easier does not detract from this.""May I further remind you that my father visits Wall Market on a regular basis. Without excessive escort. Which casts serious doubt on your claim." He stares Zack in the eye. "I believe that being reasonable is generally the optimum solution. But in Shinra, rank is all that matters. And if the rank wants to be uncooperative and incompetent, then the file damn well follows." Eyes narrowed, he scans Zack's face for a brief second, allowing himself to switch mental gears. Black hair. Black eyes. Delicate Wutaian features----months, no years of unrequited frustrated obsession are behind him as he wraps his arms around Zack, one hand tangling in his hair and the other around his shoulders, lips meeting the others' without any trace of hesistancy. He ignores the sound of Zell being horrified in the background, ignores the even deader silence radiating from Cal as he concentrates on one thing. Kissing Zack like he's never going to kiss anyone ever again, in a way that's guaranted to leave onlookers wondering just what the Vice President has been up to in his spare time, and reflecting that maybe it's a bad idea to give him access to all the security cameras in the building.It's easy to kiss Zack to whom response is pure spinal reflex, tongues included, thank you. When he draws back with a gentle nip on the other's lower lip, he reflects that they probably won't need the rouge or the lip gloss. "Good enough for you?" he asks, tone deadpan except for the slight hitch in his breathing.
Good enough? Try fucking fantastic.Zack has tendency to be over-confident in certain areas and he knew it. It’s his bad habit to run roughshod over people that let him get away with it. Precisely three people in the world know better than to let him, but that’s suddenly not quite true anymore as a fourth demands immediate attention.…boy was hella committed. Boy was hella good at this, too. He even knew how to do that thing with his tongue that—Cloud kicks him. Unobtrusively, of course, but it’s still getting kicked, and Zack’s got a rueful look on his face when Rufus lets him up for air. Be careful what you wish for, indeed. He’d been right about this, just like he’d told Seph. One waited a lifetime for the leader that deserved his title and then found him in the most unexpected of places. Right in front of you.Zack also doesn’t answer the question. Instead, takes a step back and salutes crisply, the kind that only Sephiroth saw from him, and there’s not a hint of mockery in his quiet words. “At your command, sir.”
Rafe watches this political (or was it personal? The two men seemed to have some sort of history) tiff with indifference, though he is privately amused and thankful for the captain's abrupt change in air. If he'd known of the VP's power of the mouth, if you will, earlier, perhaps this whole pointless discussion could've been stemmed at the root. Ah, well. The free soft porn more than made up for it."Shall we get going then? The train leaves in half an hour."