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SOLDIERs and Reunions

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Zack’s brain had short-circuited about the time he heard Kunsel’s voice. At that point, there had been no more wondering, no more questions. This was his Kunsel. His friend. Not someone else, not a case of mistaken identity. 

He’d moved around Cloud without a second thought. 

Kunsel sputtered, and Zack was at a loss for words. 

But he didn’t need words. He’d swept forward into the space and pulled Kunsel into a hug, crushing the other SOLDIER against his chest for several seconds.

Dimly he heard Cloud excuse himself to the armory. The door closed, and he was alone with Kunsel.

“Dude, you’re crushing me.” Kunsel finally protested, pushing him away just a little. Though not before giving Zack a final squeeze of his own.

Zack laughed, but stepped back away from him to give him a little room to take Kunsel in properly. As he’d been warned, Kunsel had definitely been hurt. One of his legs was prosthetic below the knee, and a scar that marked his face across his left eye indicated that likely was as well. 

Zack’s heart twisted. 

“I knew there was something fishy about everything.” Kunsel murmured. “But I never found the records proving what they did. I couldn’t find you.”

“It’s fine. If you had, who knows what they’d have done to you,” Zack couldn’t bear the thought of Kunsel getting in the middle. “I got most of your messages. Your warnings. You kept us going for a long time. You did everything you could, Kuns.”

A hum, unimpressed, but clearly unwilling to continue down the thread, given the joy of their reunion.

“I missed you, man.” 

“Yeah, missed you too.” Kunsel’s lips curled into something like a playful smirk. “I can definitely spare a bit of time but we gotta sit,” he said and jerked his head towards the desk he’d been working at when they came in.

Zack flopped into one of the chairs adjacent to it. “All this seems right up your alley.”

“Making use of my non-combat talents,” Kunsel agreed. “Reeve recognized that I tended to know everything and hoped I’d be useful for organizing some of the mess left behind when Shinra collapsed.” A beat. “I like to think I have been, at least.” Kunsel pushed a drink across the desk towards him. 

Cold, there must have been a mini-fridge or something similar under the desk. Zack wasn’t picky, so he didn’t spend much time examining the label, except to note that it wasn’t one he’d seen before.

“Did Strife fill you in?”

Mouth full of an unexpectedly fizzy drink, all Zack could do at first was nod. A moment later, he swallowed it. It was strange. Almost sparkly. Some sort of unidentifiable citrus. 

Zack thought, perhaps, he’d stick to the flavored water he’d been drinking at the bar. Weird to realize how he’d lost his taste for the sickly sweetness of soda.

“He did, yeah. Sephiroth came back. Meteor hit Midgar.” A vague gesture that was meant to encompass all of that

“I’ll spare you the details, then.” Kunsel said, shrugging one shoulder slightly. “Unfortunately, the meteor hit while some of us were still evacuating. Got caught wrong in the rubble.”

Ah. A not subtle answer to the question Zack had been itching to ask, but felt like it was a bad time to do so. Kunsel knew him too well. Or, perhaps, just well enough. Strange to realize how solidly it had stuck all this time later.

Zack grimaced slightly. “I’m sorry.”

Another shrug. “It happened. Nothing to be sorry about.” Kunsel waved it off, as expected. “You given any thought to what you’re going to do now?”

“So far, just going to visit my folks. Figured I’d work on the rest after that.”

“That’s a good plan. No need to rush. WRO’s always got spots, if you decide it’s something you want.”

“Mm. Yeah, Reeve mentioned that.”

Zack didn’t think he was going to do it, at least not on a permanent basis. Zack wasn’t sure…

“‘Course if you want to retire, that’s fine too.”

“I’m not even thirty Kuns; I can’t retire.”

Kunsel rolled his eyes - eye, really. “From combat, you dork. There are plenty of things you can do in civilian life if you aren’t up for fighting. Or you could probably get yourself a position as a trainer for people who do want to fight.”

Training.

That was actually… an interesting idea. One that might benefit from some additional exploration later.

“Thanks.” He said and meant it. “I’ll give it some thought.”

He always had liked training cadets once he’d settled in a little. Helping them learn to make the most of their talents, helping them find their strengths.

“Still awful prone to getting lost in your head.” Kunsel said, chuckling to himself. “It’s good to have you back, though.” Earnest. “You got a phone yet?”

“Yeah! Cloud helped me pick out a model I could work pretty okay and… also wasn’t likely to break the first time I forgot it wasn’t designed to be military grade.” He offered it to Kunsel.

“I’m gonna stick my number in your contacts, then.”

Zack nodded, a grin pulling at his lips. “That’ll be great, then I can bug you.”

“You’d better.” Kunsel growled. “You’re not allowed to be a stranger.”

“I won’t be.” There was nothing to hide from Kunsel of all people. Not now that any contact wouldn’t potentially be used against him.

“I’m gonna hold you to that. Since you’re staying with Strife, I know exactly where to find you if you don’t.”

“You should drop by sometimes anyway,”

“Yeah, maybe I will.” Kunsel conceded. “… Unfortunately, I really do need to finish this draft before the end of the day. Let me show you to the armory.”

“Aww… okay.”

“We’ll talk more later, I promise.” Kunsel said, hand resting on Zack’s shoulder for a second. 

Zack nodded, though once they were standing, he looped Kunsel in for another hug. Only then did he back off enough so Kunsel could lead him back to Cloud. 

Zack felt a little lighter, a little more grounded. Kunsel was here, and he was okay. It wasn’t the same as it had been before, but this was worth having, too.