/I watched you walk across the street
Slightly stooped, not seeing me,
And smiled to see that mixture of
Clumsiness, grace, intensity./
"Are you going to tell where are we going? Please?"
Big, blue eyes are looking at Sephiroth with a silent plea and the General chuckles, ruffling blond spikes. "Then it wouldn't be a surprise, don't you think?" he asks with amusement, going back to making their dinner. The first time the General started making a meal Cloud's jaw almost hit the floor. The Demon of Wutai doing something so... so ordinary? Someone call a doctor! Now the cadet is used to it and often helps in the kitchen; it's the least he can do in exchange for being saved from eating in ShinRa's cafeteria.
"I guess so," murmurs Cloud, chopping vegetables. He knows he shouldn't press Sephiroth so much, but since Zack said this surprise would be 'fantastic' Cloud has been trying to guess what it is. What could Sephiroth buy him for New Year's Eve? Everything. Is it really surprising that Cloud wants to know what it is, so he'll have a chance to buy something nice too? As if he would buy anything good enough for Sephiroth with his salary, but still.
Sephiroth sighs, brushing Cloud's hair with his lips. "Don't think about it, okay?"
The teenager looks at his partner, frowning. It's hard to be angry with Sephiroth when he is so relaxed you can see the faintest of smiles on his face, and when he wears his white apron. Add pinned up hair and Cloud is ready to melt in seconds.
"I don't want to disappoint you with my gift," he says finally, laying down the knife and throwing vegetables into the pot.
Two strong arms wrapped themselves around the cadet's waist, pulling him back till he is lying against the wide chest, with silver strands brushing his cheek. "I'd be happy even if you didn't buy me anything, Cloud." The low voice is so close to the teenager's ear it makes his knees go weak.
"But – "
"No buts," whispers Sephiroth, his chin resting on Cloud's head. "Trust me. Just... trust me."
Cloud nods, turning round and hugging the General. Zack told him once about Angeal and Genesis; people who were supposed to be Sephiroth's friends, but in the end they betrayed his trust. He won't be like them.
"You know I do," the blond says softly with his eyes closed, laying small kisses on Sephiroth's arm.
The General only hugs him tighter.
/Then suddenly I feared the cars,
The streets you cross, the days you pass/
Waiting for the fireworks isn't boring like in previous years. Nope. Sitting with Sephiroth on ShinRa HQ's roof (authorized personnel only) under a blanket is something Cloud didn't even dream about. People under them are celebrating, their laughter and music reaching their ears. The cadet doesn't mind; after all it is something that both of them like: being together, alone, but still close to other people.
Cloud takes a sip of hot cocoa, snuggling closer to Sephiroth. The man leans his head on Strife's shoulder, his eyes half-closed, arms wrapped around the smaller man's waist.
" – I hope you like it," murmurs the General, breaking the silence between them.
"I do." The cadet puts his mug down and starts stroking Sephiroth's hair, knowing how much his partner likes it. As he suspected, the Demon of Wutai smiles a little, content. "It's a great place to see fireworks."
"This is why I chose it. Just don't tell Zack about this or next time we will be sharing it with an overexcited puppy."
Cloud giggles and Sephiroth raises his head from the cadet's shoulder, kissing him briefly. "I like your laugh." Then he sighs, pulling Strife closer. "You have no idea how much..."
"Hush." The teenager lays his finger on the man's lips, silencing him. "No bad thoughts, please? Let's... Let's just relax, okay?" Azure eyes are looking at the General with his plea, and Sephiroth nods, kissing Cloud's ear.
Sephiroth leans over Cloud, his green eyes peaceful, with an emotion the cadet doesn't want to name - because then it would disappear, because it would be too beautiful to be true - and whispers into his ear words the teenager didn't expect to hear: "You keep me away from falling."
Cloud reacts to these words before his brain registers them properly; he is kissing Sephiroth hard, demanding as if saying 'I'm not going anywhere, I won't let you fall...'. Below them people are enjoying the first fireworks, saying 'Thank you' to whomever they want, being grateful for another year. They can die in the next five minutes, tomorrow, in next month, but now they are alive and together.
Sephiroth ends their kiss with a small pop and Cloud is pulled onto his laps in a second, hugged tight. Wanted and loved. It isn't hard to believe, not really. The General is trembling slightly, kissing his face like a starved man and Cloud lets him, softly murmuring words of affection.
'I don't want this to end.'
/You hold me as a glass holds water/
The first fireworks startle Cloud. He turns away from the window, his face unreadable, hidden in the shadows. Of course he got an invitation to celebrate New Year's Eve with his friends, but he couldn't bring himself to go with them. With new memories - old memories, but forgotten until now - he would only destroy their party.
His gaze lands on the photo Tseng gave him a few days ago; the anger - how dare Tseng look into Zack's personal things!? - disappeared when he saw who was in that photo. Could Calamity's Child really look so peaceful, almost relaxed? Even if yes, then why was he lying on the couch with his head in the lap of a younger Cloud? Why?
Cloud doesn't know what made him put this photo in the frame. Some kind of a longing waking up again inside of him, squeezing his chest painfully. If only he was stronger... Everything could be different. They would be sitting together now, enjoying another year spent together. It would be...
The frame makes a satisfying sound while crashing against the wall, the photo slowly falling down.
'... I won't let you fall.'
The ex-SOLDIER hides his face in his hands, his knees giving away under him; he lands on the floor, hard, his arms shaking. He doesn't move during the whole celebration and next few days, pretending he doesn't hear Tifa's calls. A single photo did what even Sephiroth couldn't do.
It broke him.
/You can be shattered like a glass./