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From Cloud, With Love

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I.


It's a mistake, really, but it's the best one he's ever made.

Cloud was texting Zack, teasing him and then he got a phone call that made him fumble Zack's number.

What fell into the PHS void went something like this:

FROM: Cloud

Miss u & love u sm... Stay safe!!!

<3<3<3

What followed was:

FROM: Unknown SPH

This PHS is classified.

How did you get this number?

Cloud's hand slapped over his mouth as he saw the number change.

FROM: Cloud

I am SO sorry.

I meant to send that to a friend.

I'll delete the number.

He gripped his PHS tightly, waiting for the reply, heart practically jammed in his throat.

FROM: Unknown SPH

Unnecessary.

I will delete your message.

His shoulders slumped in relief. "Oh thank Fenrir."

FROM: Unknown SPH

Who was the friend?

Cloud blinked and then re-read the question. It wasn't like his boring guard shift could get any worse by answering whomever was on the other end.

FROM: Cloud

Commander Fair.

U sound like ur in SOLDIER.

Maybe you kno him?

Cloud chewed at his bottom lip, anxiously awaiting the reply this time. If this SOLDIER was Zack's friend then maybe they'd get along. To be fair, however, Zack had a lot of friends that also looked down on Infantry.

FROM: Unknown SPH

I am indeed in SOLDIER.

Commander Fair is a friend as well.

My mission awaits.

Cloud huffed out a relieved breath. This one was like him, Zack-napped into friendship. Zack was just that good at wriggling his way under any and all walls, be they physical, emotional or otherwise.

FROM: Unknown SPH

I shall do my best to stay safe.

Per your request to Commander Fair.

He cracked a smile at that, happy to have found another friend of Zack's who was at least as socially awkward as he was.

Cloud texted the message to Zack, getting an enthusiastic response.


II.


He was laying in his sleeping bag, wheezing as the Cure took care of his bruised ribs. Missions were awful, though Zack was waxing poetic about his mentor again while on a different mission than Cloud.

Being different divisions sometimes sucked ass due to time differences and the fact that he and Zack were often separated.

FROM: Cloud

Stay safe, u idiot.

Try not to trip when ur mentor

looks @ u

His PHS buzzed twice in response.

Cloud slapped his hand over his face and groaned as he realized what had happened. "Oh godsdammit."

FROM: Unknown SPH

Alas I am not Commander Fair.

Why would he trip seeing his mentor?

FROM: Unknown SPH

There is nothing to fear.

General Hewley is kind.

Okay then. Definitely someone up in the higher ranks of SOLDIER, given the near formal responses this guy gave.

Cloud's tongue stuck out of the side of his mouth as he replied, distracted from his healing body.

FROM: Cloud

He has a crush.

P sure Gen. Rhapsodos would have

an Issue w that

FROM: Cloud

Considering he told me

They're dating each other

FROM: Unknown SPH

Ah.

They favor clear communication.

Scratch that, this friend of Zack's was way the Hel up there in the ranks. He sucked in a breath as he thought about Infantry and SOLDIER losing their shit over Cloud taking up the SOLDIER's time.

FROM: Cloud

Lol, the one secret Zack

will take 2 his grave

FROM: Cloud

We'll just have 2 keep it

4 him

There was a long pause and then:

FROM: Unknown SPH

Agreed.

I'm afraid I couldn't comply with

Your new message

FROM: Unknown SPH

I retained a wound from a

Behemoth.

Cloud hissed in sympathy and then typed thoughtfully.

FROM: Cloud

That's okay.

So long as you're in one piece

FROM: Cloud

Ur fine <3

He waited with baited breath, hoping to read something reassuring.

FROM: Unknown SPH

The wound will fade.

Thank you for your concern.

FROM: Unknown SPH

Your kindness is...

Deeply appreciated.

Cloud read between the lines and gave a deep, slightly pained sigh.

FROM: Cloud

Zack's better @ it

But glad 2 help.

He rolled onto his back and texted Zack, wanting to keep SPH to himself for awhile.


III.


""Haven't you heard? General Sephiroth's been texting! Does that mean he's got a girlfriend?!""

""Rude. Could be a boyfriend, you know.""

Cloud rolled his eyes under his Infantry-issued helmet and waited for his PHS to finish charging. He texted Zack to keep from getting into another fight about his superior officer.

FROM: Cloud

U'd expect ppl 2 have manners

But No, talk about some busy guy

Perfect use of ur time

FROM: Cloud

Gen. Sephiroth's a dude like

Everybody else

FROM: Cloud

Fucking SE

Could be fucking emails

FROM: Cloud

U know,

THE THING PHS WAS BUILT 4

Cloud made the ugliest noise as he saw his mistake but even better was SPH's reply.

FROM: Unknown SPH

Not a fan of the

Silver Elite?

FROM: Cloud

Fuck no

Ma taught me better

FROM: Cloud

Idolized ppl r STILL PPL

FROM: Cloud

Admire, yes

Don't make ppl fall

FROM: Cloud

4 ur expectations of them

Ppl r full of faults

He almost didn't expect a response back. Cloud knew he could be a little too blunt at times.

FROM: Unknown SPH

What is your opinion of

The General himself?

FROM: Cloud

Overworked & underslept

Needs a vacation ASAP

FROM: Cloud

Easiest mission on roster +

Three rest days min.

FROM: Cloud

Actually, all of them do

Zack said as much

A thought occurred to Cloud and he typed it out, hoping the SOLDIER was high enough to pull it off.

FROM: Cloud

I'm hoping ur enough rank 2 suggest

Levikron mission by Chocobo farm

FROM: Cloud

So happens 2 b a stocked ShinRa cabin

Three mikes west of Chocobo farm

FROM: Cloud

Levikrons spawn like a mofo

Over there

FROM: Unknown SPH

High enough to suggest it

Will put in packet today

Cloud felt better at that, biting at his lip to keep from smiling at his PHS.


IV.


He's still sore from sword practice with Kunsel, one of Zack's friends he actually liked, flopping down face first on his bed after his shower. Cloud texted Zack out of habit.

FROM: Cloud

Just so u kno, Zack

Kunsel's a brutal trainer

FROM: Cloud

Brutal but fair AF

Glad he agreed 2 training w me

FROM: Unknown SPH

I physically appear nothing like Zack

FROM: Unknown SPH

However, I would welcome your

description of Kunsel's training.

FROM: Unknown SPH

Zack and I are stuck in

A Meeting

FROM: Unknown SPH

I would much rather relay this

Than budget nonsense neither

of us is needed for

Cloud rocked up onto his elbows as he typed, blowing a drying strand out of his face.

FROM: Cloud

Meetings r the Worst

I'll do my best w this shitty chara

Limit.

FROM: Cloud

We started w rlly long knives

Then machetes

Then swords that were

FROM: Cloud

So dusty we sneezed

But perfect size 4 my tiny ass

I'm apparently

FROM: Cloud

Ambidextrous n it's a good Thing

Also wicked fast

Kunsel says so

He flexed his fingers and let SPH read them over and probably show them to Zack too.

FROM: Unknown SPH

Zack confirms Kunsel's assessment

You are attempting the Exam?

Cloud couldn't help the wry chuckle that escaped him at the question.

FROM: Cloud

Yeah

4 like the 20th time in a row

I'm abysmal @ the phys

FROM: Cloud

Been acing the written part tho

So brutal AF training it is

FROM: Cloud

Lol, I'll probs need 3 more

Attempts

FROM: Cloud

Record number breaker

Swear to Fenrir

FROM: Unknown SPH

Whether it take you three or thirteen

Zack said you would be an excellent

Addition to the Corps

FROM: Unknown SPH

He is also valiantly surpressing a laugh

Apparently he's been dying to introduce us

Only to find we had found

FROM: Unknown SPH

Each other already

FROM: Cloud

Sounds like Zack alright


V.


Stuck on the 51st floor of ShinRa, Cloud was full of absolutely righteous wrath.

FROM: Cloud

Zack, I'm going to kill u

U LEFT THE NUMBER OF

THE APARTMENT

FROM: Cloud

OUT OF THE DIRECTIONS U GAVE ME

HOW TF AM I SUPPOSED TO COME

2 DINNER?!?

FROM: Cloud

Scratch that, I'm Pretzeling

Ur sorry ass

FROM: Unknown SPH

You too then?

He cracked up at that, a sound half made of resigned laughter and with trace amounts of his fury.

FROM: Cloud

Sometimes Zack is murder-worthy

Only sometimes tho

Cloud was pacing as he stood in front of the elevator, bumping into someone just getting off, his PHS tumbling from his fingers in the process and hearing another clatter against the tile as well.

"Sorry-" he reached for a PHS, his fingers brushing against gloved ones.

"My apologies-"

Cloud nearly lost himself in eyes that glowed like the Mako mountain streams of his home. "Oh. I think this one's yours, sir."

The sight of his PHS in the General's hands made him scrub at his suddenly hot face.

"... You are Unknown CLD?"

Oh Heavens above, he'd been texting General Sephiroth like he was only one of Zack's SOLDIER buddies.

"Guess that makes you Unknown SPH, sir?" He buried his face in his green scarf, offering the sleek black-n-silver PHS back with a surprisingly steady hand.

"... Did you mean them?" The General inquired softly as they traded devices.

"Sir?"

"Your words about the Silver Elite and placing people on pedestals."

Cloud's spine straightened at that. "I did, sir."

The smile that broke out on the General's face made Cloud's heart beat double time. "Then you may call me Sephiroth, seeing as how we are already friends... I'm afraid I don't know your name. Zack keeps calling you Spikey."

"It's Cloud." He offered, tucking his PHS into its hip harness. "Cloud Strife."

"Then shall we seek out Zack together? He did promise us dinner."

"Only if you lead... Sephiroth." Cloud hummed, the curve of his lips into a smile unbidden but welcome all the same.


After he'd pretzeled Zack, he sat on top of his best friend in the whole wide world (aside from Tifa) and said dryly, "Did you intend for us to meet like this?"

"No? Also, ow, ow, get me out of this hold please? I'll explain." Zack grumbled from his folded position.

Cloud detangled him with a single tug and sat next to Sephiroth, arms crossed and eyebrows raised.

"So ShinRa assigns PHS randomly for the most part but for reasons unknown, they put Seph's right above mine in the numerical order. So you texting him was an accident and probably would've kept being an accident if I didn't recognize your text style. I have been trying to get you two to meet but we're always on missions that are too far apart. It was like, a miracle that the two of you were here at the same time."

"Oh."

"The fact that you two have matching taste is just hilarious though." Zack teased.

"Explain, Zachary."

"Spikey likes 'em tall and serious, you like 'em small and ferocious." Zack chirruped even as he dodged Cloud's hands and then Sephiroth's, "You'll be thanking me at your wedding!"

"Zack, get back-You know what, General Hewley will be better at catching him." Cloud huffed as Zack escaped with a cackle, only to yelp less than thirty feet from the doorway. "Wanna raid his fridge and make dinner?"

"You'd have to teach me but I am a willing student." Sephiroth countered as Zack's whining at General Hewley cut off when the door clicked closed.

"Sounds good," Cloud replied as he pulled out a knife, a cutting board and several bowls. "Let's see..."

His hands guided Sephiroth's, the large hands curled around his own and Sephiroth's chest pressed against his back.

Cloud honestly didn't remember much of that dinner, nor the three that followed it, because he could barely focus thanks to the heat Sephiroth gave off.


He smiled at the title Sephiroth had typed into his phone for privacy and security reasons.

FROM: Seraph

I keep thinking about

Zack's comments.

FROM: Cloud

U mean his stupid comment abt

Me preferring tall and serious?

FROM: Seraph

Yes

FROM: Seraph

Can we see each other 4 dinner?

Mission ran long but I wish to

Spend time with you.

Cloud fiddled with his baton as he typed, the leather strap creaking in his grip. He wondered how to keep his crush from showing.

FROM: Cloud

Yeah.

Guard shift is over in 20


Cloud very firmly didn't brush his hair, came over with his uniform half-off and resolutely did not drop his jaw at the sight of Sephiroth lounging in a t-shirt and half of his own uniform.

Nope.

Maybe if he ignored it long enough, it would be like his friendship with Zack; friends with someone who looked like he stepped out of a magazine. It was just fine.

Except Sephiroth smelled nice and oh, was that-?

"I'm afraid I missed your birthday by some months. However, I was assured that getting such a gift would not be out of place considering how often PHS devices get crushed." Sephiroth held out the box of the limited-edition PHS case with a hopeful look.

It was pink and ridiculous and Cloud loved it immediately. He clipped it onto his PHS and then noticed a note taped to it. He peeled it off, set down his PHS and read it, the note fluttering from his hand as he attempted to process it.

Cloud,

It feels strange to tell you like this but I cannot figure out how to tell you any other way. Text was how we met and text, perhaps, is a fitting medium to tell you that I am very fond of you.

I enjoy our time cooking together because you fit in my arms. You smell like the high mountains you come from. Your laughter lights up whatever room you are in and your smile makes my chest ache in a way I have never felt before. Perhaps I am reading too much into your actions but I couldn't help but notice your heartbeat when you looked at me. Always double-time and the same as my own, especially when we make eye contact.

Would you like to be more than accidental friends?

Sephiroth

When he finally looked up, the resignation on Sephiroth's face cemented his decision. He scooped up the note, dug for a pen and wrote on the back with a smile on his face.

YES

Cloud handed it over, watching as Sephiroth's expression changed from hurt to hopeful.

"'Yes?'"

"Mmhmm."

"... May I?"

Cloud met him halfway, fingers curled in black fabric as he pulled Sephiroth down for a kiss. Fingers wound into his hair, Sephiroth cradling the back of his head as he kissed like a man who'd been half-starved for attention.

They broke apart and then touched foreheads, Cloud still astonished that this man wanted to kiss him like that.

"I'll kiss you like for as long as you'll allow me to, Cloud." Sephiroth breathed out, mirth clear, "Yes, you did say that out loud."

"Guess Zack was right, the asshole."

"Oh? In what manner?"

"We really are suited for each other." Cloud drawled out, surprised as Sephiroth picked him up and pressed him against the wall, his legs wrapping around those ridiculous hips.

"Say that again, Cloud," Sephirith purred as he nuzzled against Cloud's exposed neck.

He let out a gasping laugh as he responded, "Sure thing, Seph, as much as you'd like..."


+I.


Cloud hated Hojo with a fire matched only by Sephiroth.

Thank Fenrir Zack had pulled what little string he had in the Turk department (courtesy of his Turk friend) and gotten Cloud on this mission to Nibelheim with them. At least the locals couldn't coerce his boyfriend or his best friend into doing anything other than what they were assigned to do.

He lead them around the bridge, having broken it with a well thrown rock and then guarded the front door of the ShinRa Mansion with his fellow Infantry member.

Sephiroth and Zack marched into the Mansion, both of them grim-faced.

He sent a text he knew Sephiroth would enjoy.

FROM: Cloud

Miss u & love u sm... Stay safe!!!

<3<3<3

Sephiroth marched right back out, grabbed Cloud's hand and took him inside, placing both hands on his temples. "I have an awful headache this close to the Reactor."

"I'll go get the samples, okay? Zack can sort through the paperwork because despite his puppy face, he's pretty good at the stuff."

"Hey! I resemble that remark. Also, Seph, what's this about a headache? You look like you need to rest. Tell you what, we'll call ShinRa and tell them we need a few more days to sort this out." Zack fussed, doing what he did best.

Sephiroth opened his mouth to protest so Cloud pulled out the best weapon in his arsenal. "No more kisses until you get some rest, Sephiroth."

"You can't-"

"I can and I will, Seph, because you're worrying me. You look paler than normal," he chided, tracing his thumbs over the famously sharp cheekbones of his boyfriend. "plus you said it yourself. You've got a headache."

Sephiroth finally folded, realizing that he couldn't fight both Cloud and Zack. "Very well, I will rest tonight."

"I mean, if any of those samples is giving you a headache... No one specified it had to be... y'know... alive." Cloud suggested as he lead Sephiroth out, taking his hand as Sephiroth rubbed briefly at his temples.

"You may be onto something, Cloud." Sephiroth sighed, his shoulders straightening as he stepped further from the Reactor.

"Loopholes are everywhere if you know where to look," he murmured.

"Yeah, none of us are staying in the gothic aesthetic by ourselves. The place gives me the creeps." Zack muttered, slinging his arm over the shoulder of the other Sgt. they'd placed on the mission. "Can you imagine being stuck in there?"

"Definitely not, there was a reason our parents chased us away from the fire hazard we were just in." Cloud pointed out as they collected Tifa and went to the Inn.

He watched Sephiroth arm-wrestle Tifa and be surprised at her strength, thinking about a single fumbled number and how it changed his life.