It was violent sex that time, moving from the foyer to the bedroom in slow degrees. Cloud was a discordant mess of willing submissive and snarling beast, but he responded so wholeheartedly to Sephiroth’s touch that the man simply couldn’t keep his hands off of him.
It was, in part, grief—Cloud had lost a very dear friend, though he would never burden Sephiroth with his feelings and mention it. Death had a way of forcing the living to seek what proof they could that all was not darkness and despair. That Cloud sought some kind of cold comfort in Sephiroth’s arms was as desperate as it was sad, for the General was hardly used to offering such things. Instead, he distracted Cloud with heady, overwhelming pleasure, working his body into boneless relaxation, indulging his darker side. There was no planning to it, no caution—just that small, taut body and Sephiroth’s own, knotted together across his bed in a spill of silver hair and heat.
He found it to be a suitable substitution for thinking so hard of his little private.
And the entire time Sephiroth worked him with such intense, single-minded determination, that mark glowed like a small moon trapped at the base of Cloud’s slender, limber spine.
It was utterly blood-boiling to see that stamp of ownership on his pearly white hide, and Sephiroth felt an all-encompassing sense of possession to gaze upon it. He touched Cloud more intimately than he ever had before, sucking on that glowing mark, tasting the boy’s helpless capitulation through his very skin. It drove him to greater and greater passion, riding Cloud’s compliant little body with rough urgency time and again until they both were spent and exhausted.
There was no talk of leaving this time—the hour was late, and Cloud was too weakened to go anywhere. He lay quiescent in a comely sprawl across Sephiroth’s bed, panting and flushed and slick with spent cum, his blond spikes spread in a wild halo around his head and his big blue eyes half-closed in pleasure.
It was an encounter that set the pace for the next few months. Sometimes Cloud stayed, but never when he felt Sephiroth preferred he wouldn’t. The boy was uncannily intuitive where his unpredictable lover’s moods were concerned, and would always make himself scarce at such times. Whatever they shared, Cloud never lost his deep fear of Sephiroth’s power to hurt him, or his despairing apprehension that the man might do so just because he could. They settled into a routine but not into comfort, always treading warily around one another, waiting for the storm to break.
At times it angered Sephiroth that he felt so strangely about Cloud. He attributed it to his own sense of ownership where the boy was concerned and refused to allow the possibility of anything else. Whenever Cloud seemed to be softening towards him, Sephiroth would find himself oddly irritated, putting him at a distance, keeping him at arm’s reach, though it in no way kept him from indulging his appetites with the child’s ever-developing and growing body.
The stresses of work came to bear on him, the unusual occurrences at Nibelheim growing more frequent and more disturbing. Time and again he sent SOLDIER operatives out there, and time and again they either came back without their MP escort or not at all. Each time the Turks pulled clean-up, they found no sign of what might be happening, and the President didn’t consider it important enough to deal with offensively. Provided the reactor worked, it was of little import.
Still, he returned from another briefing on yet another failed mission in that god-forsaken little shit hole to find Cloud waiting for him at the security desk, clearly disturbed. Aggravated to be bothered, he nonetheless snapped his approval for the boy to accompany him, and made his angry way to his quarters.
They no sooner got in the door than Cloud’s breath came out in a soft sob, saying, “I didn’t make it, sir.”
“Didn’t make what, private Strife?” he asked, whipping the Masamune off of his back to hang her on the wall rack. He started to remove his gloves, his irate thoughts on yet another missing SOLDIER. He really was going to have to get a handle on this, or else go himself and look…
“SOLDIER,” Cloud breathed, miserable tears welling in his big blue eyes.
“Well,” Sephiroth snapped, all thoughts of his original plan to comfort Cloud erased by his irritation with his current situation. “There’s always next year.”
Cloud seemed to wilt at his indifferent acceptance of this, as if his failure had been a foregone conclusion, expected of someone like Cloud.
“Sir…” he softly said, trying again to convey how upset he was, his guilt at burdening Sephiroth apparent on his miserably sad, beautiful face.
“Cloud, it has been an extremely trying day,” Sephiroth told him, tossing his gloves down on a chair and unbuckling his pauldrons to cast them aside before starting on the buckles of his long coat. “Whatever it is that is bothering you, just spit it out.”
“I…Never mind, sir,” Cloud whispered, utterly crushed. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” the man shortly said, and flung his coat down, pausing to fish out his cell.
“Sir, please don’t be so—”
“What, Cloud?” he asked, and his temper revolted against the hurt look on Cloud’s face, the pain he saw etched there. He’d told him before that he was simply a possession, that he didn’t have feelings—so why was he looking at Sephiroth with all the signs of someone broken entirely? “If you have come here to whine then you are welcome to leave. I don’t have time for your puling, private Strife! You’re worse than a puppy sometimes, always getting underfoot—”
The second it left his mouth he wished it hadn’t. He could have chosen no better weapon to wound with had he taken a thousand years to consider it.
Cloud’s sad face hardened at once to one of outraged, furious hurt.
“Cloud,” he said, trying to fix it. His temper very rarely got the better of him and was always quick to flare, quick to burn itself out. Now he was left with a mess on his hands and wondered why he’d even said such a thing. If anything, even when he was present in Sephiroth’s home Cloud was so quiet and effacing that the man could forget he was even there.
His failure with SOLDIER compounded by Sephiroth’s thoughtless, sniping comment, Cloud buckled. He was out the door before Sephiroth could even reach for him.
Unwilling to make a scene, Sephiroth called the security desk to clear him, and alleviated the obvious concern of the guards who had already tried to restrain the angry, hurt private. Cloud had fought like a man possessed, managing to both wound one of the guards and escape down the stairs. Sephiroth ordered the pursuing sergeant to be called off and Cloud left alone, no record made of his gross violation of the rules.
What had he been so addled about?
Sephiroth put his cell down and frowned, recalling something about not getting in to SOLDIER.
Ah, yes, Cloud’s lifelong dream. He’d planned to provide the boy with comfort, but he’d given him the emotional equivalent of a slap to the face. He hadn’t meant for that to happen, he’d just been focused wholly on his current issues with SOLDIER. He hadn’t even realized that the final grades came out today. Well, that would solve one of his problems—at least now he would have more recruits to fill his ranks.
But no more Cloud to fill his bed.
He wondered if even that brand would pull the boy back to him, but doubted it. Genesis would not have thought of such a possibility, that someone might not want to answer his summons.
What an ungodly mess.
Sephiroth heaved a sigh and went to his study, pushing aside his deep turmoil to do his job. Cloud would wait. He would have to wait.
It’s what possessions did.