Title: Night On the Town
For: Moogle 8
Request(s): Cloud and Zack having a drink (or a dozen).
Characters/Pairings: Cloud & Zack
Feedback: no earwax please? otherwise I'm cool...
Spoilers/warnings: Impending DOOOOOOM. But if you know what happened to Zack, no new spoilers.
Word Count: 819
Summary: The Soldier metabolism can be overruled if you're determined enough. And nobody's ever accused Zack of lacking determination.
Nibelheim, Zack insisted, was way too damn cold for anybody to endure without a little antifreeze in their veins. He'd been drinking steadily for hours, ever since he came back from the mansion. Apparently it hadn't helped, because he kept drinking more.
"You've just got no cold tolerance," Cloud had tried to tell him. "You came from a jungle, remember? No reason to build up cold tolerance in Gongaga--"
"Antifreeze," Zack insisted, and picked up the whiskey to dump a good stiff shot into Cloud's hot cocoa before taking a chug straight from the bottle himself. "Gotta make sure your blood doesn't ice over, up here. Alcohol doesn't freeze. So... drink your antifreeze, kiddo, it's good for you!"
Mr. Lockhart was giving Cloud the evil eye. Even in his helmet, Cloud was pretty sure he still looked underage enough to deserve it.
"Zack," he tried again. "I'm the designated driver, okay?"
"You're too young to drive," Zack proclaimed, with a flourish of the bottle.
Resisting the urge to smack Zack over the head with his helmet, Cloud slouched down on his barstool and muttered, "That means I'm too young to drink too, Zack."
"Not up here it doesn't," Zack said, hugely earnest. "It's antifreeze. It's good for--"
"I know, I know," Cloud groaned. "Look. Somebody's got to be sober enough to get you back to your quarters. That makes me the designated steerer, even if not the designated driver, okay?"
Zack blinked a couple of times, then looked at Mr. Lockhart. "Is he allowed to do that?"
Mr. Lockhart made a harrumphing noise, polishing mugs with more enthusiasm than was strictly required.
"Come on, Zack," Cloud said, hoping against hope as he tugged on his friend's arm. "Put the bottle down and let's go, okay?"
Zack wobbled for a moment, then wrapped an arm around Cloud's neck and hung on. "You're not gonna leave me, are you?"
"I'm not going to leave you," Cloud said, and leaned all his weight into Zack's elbow. He was loose-limbed enough to stumble along for a couple of steps, even if he brought the bottle with him.
"Promise? 'Cause Seph left," Zack said, hound-dog-eyed. "He's up there all alone and he hasn't got any antifreeze in him and that can't be good..."
"You can take him some antifreeze tomorrow," Cloud said. "I'm sure he'll appreciate it."
"No he won't," Zack prophesied gloomily. "He'll glare at me. And he'll call me a traitor again. He called me a traitor! 'M not a traitor. Just... didn't have enough to convince him to come back down... need more antifreeze."
"Maybe the General doesn't like antifreeze as much as you do," Cloud suggested wearily. "Come on, Zack."
"...not gonna leave me?"
"Never," Cloud told him, and the stairs were almost close enough to hope for. "Don't you leave me either, okay?"
"Okay!" Zack agreed brightly. "More antifreeze?"
"No more antifreeze. --Come on. You're not leaving me, remember? All the way up the stairs, Zack. There could be a monster at the top, you know. Someone's got to look out for me."
"Yeah," Zack agreed muzzily, leaning his head against the top of Cloud's helmet, then making a face when he didn't get to nestle into Cloud's soft, fluffy hair. "Gotta look out for each other."
Cloud was more than glad to find that Zack had left his door unlocked, because he really didn't want to drag him back downstairs and have Mr. Lockhart harrumph at him when he asked for a key and Zack grabbed at bottles.
"Y'r my best friend," Zack mumbled into Cloud's chest as he struggled to get the taller man out of his armor enough to lay him down on the bed. "F'r, like, always. I mean it, man. I love you. ...Sit. Stay. Stay there."
"I know," Cloud murmured, feeling his cheeks burn and for once glad of the helmet. "I'm not going anywhere without you."
"Good," Zack said, listing to the side; once Cloud finished unbuckling his shoulder armor, it barely took a nudge for him to fall sideways... but he wrapped his arm around Cloud's waist while he was at it, as though Cloud were his own personal teddy bear. "Not goin' anywhere," he mumbled contentedly.
With a rueful grin, Cloud took off his helmet and started unbuckling his boots. "Looks like it," he agreed ruefully.
"...stay," Zack mumbled, like a drowsy toddler. "Seph left. 'S not ...right."
"I'm staying right here," Cloud assured him, stroking fingers through the shaggy mess of his hair as he tried to get comfortable leaning against the headboard.
"F'r always? Promise?"
"Always and always," he agreed. "I promise."
"Me too," he said, drunkenly generous. "F'r always. Never gonna get rid of me."
"I know," Cloud said, smiling ruefully.
"Couldn't get that lucky."
"We're stuck with each other," he agreed. "Particularly when you've had this much antifreeze. Go to sleep, Zack."
Notes: (sweatdrop) This turned doooooomier than I'd expected for moogle fluff? But Zack insisted on commentary about about Nibelheim weather and the need to apply antifreeze, and it's Nibelheim... (Had originally planned to do fics for 1 & 7 too, but it looks like they've been gotten already. Will see whether time allows more fics...)
- For Moogle 8: Night on the Town