Pairing: Mild Sephiroth/Cloud
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Summary: How Zack settled on 'Spike' as Cloud's nickname. (Prompt: "Spike.")
Word Count: 1,000 words
Note: Title from a scene in The Boondock Saints. Mild mockery of the use of 'kitten' as referring to anything other than a baby cat, and Cloud being a little more forthright than I normally write him. Crack is a great excuse.
An Expert in Name-ology
"Excuse me, sir – "
Cloud stopped halfway through the door of Sephiroth's office when he saw the grin on Zack's face and Sephiroth tiredly pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Should I come back later?" Say yes. Please say yes.
"No, it's fine," said Sephiroth. "What is it?"
Damnit. Cloud hefted the stack of papers in his arms. "One of the SOLDIER Third officers asked me to bring these to you. I think they're requests for new socks." He wasn't entirely sure why the officer hadn't just done the errand himself, but Cloud wouldn't argue having an excuse to visit Sephiroth during work hours.
"They're too chickenshit to see the big scary general themselves, Kitten, that's why you always get stuck with the chores," said Zack, sprawled over the couch that he'd dragged in one day and declared his own.
"Lieutenant Fair has taken it upon himself to give us all nicknames." Sephiroth held out a hand and Cloud obediently passed over the stack of papers without taking his eyes off Zack.
"I'm beginning to believe that his superhero comics are not about superheroes," Sephiroth commented dryly, and Cloud fought off a sudden case of blushing.
"What?" asked Zack. "You're short and the secretaries are always cooing over you and wanting to stuff you with pie. Which isn't fair, by the way."
"I am not – " Cloud paused, because he couldn't really argue that he wasn't vertically challenged, and if he said 'cute' then Zack would latch on to it and hold it over his head (metaphorically, damn it) for the rest of the week. "Don't call me that." It made him sound less like a skinny guy who'd helped support his mum with hard countryside labor and more like he belonged in the Honeybee Inn. In lingerie.
"Kitten," Zack cooed.
"I'm going to punch you in the face," Cloud scowled.
"Think you can reach that high?" Zack cackled. "Chocobo-head."
"I'd be happy to kick you in the dick instead." Cloud suddenly remembered that he was standing in front of Sephiroth's desk and felt that humiliating case of blushing spread over his nose with a vengeance. "Um, sorry, sir."
"It's quite all right, Cloud."
"Hey, you apologize to Sephiroth for threatening to harm me?"
"He's not a dick," Cloud pointed out reasonably.
"He has a point," said Sephiroth, and Zack nearly fell off the couch when he whipped out a hand to point at him accusingly.
"Favoritism! You're just saying that because he can totally cut you off for a week."
"Zaaack," Cloud groaned, covering his flaming face with his hands.
"Maybe Sephiroth's the cat here. I mean, he acts all cool and like 'you mere mortals are beneath my dignity' and plays favorites with his humans. He's also shiny and has a claw that's seven feet long. Hey, you aren't trying to compensate, are you, boss? Cloud, is he compensating?"
"Oh my gods," Cloud moaned. Why wasn't there a materia powered by sheer mortification that could make the floor swallow him up? (Graviga didn't count because that could very well take out the whole ShinRa Tower, and while Cloud might be willing to overlook Zack there was still Sephiroth to consider, who was entirely innocent here, and so Zack was only saved by proxy.)
"Zack," Sephiroth said warningly, and Zack put his hands in the air.
"What about 'Sugarpie'?"
"How about 'shut up or I kick you in the dick'?" Cloud muttered, finally realizing that he'd spent too much time around both Zack and the other teenage boys in his squad and that his mother would've scoured away his tongue with soap by now if she could hear him. He reflexively winced.
"I'm sensing some hostility here. Do you want to talk about how you're feeling right now, Sugarpie?"
"I'm feeling like causing you extreme physical discomfort will go a long way towards making me less hostile."
"Your face is making me less hostile."
"What? That doesn't even make sense!"
"Children," said Sephiroth, and Cloud's second realization of the day was how embarrassing it was to have his superior officer…lover…hero...someone-he-kind-of-really-car ed-about-however-you-looked-at-it refer to him in the same tone normally reserved for Zack and puppies that piddled on the carpet.
"He started it," Zack and Cloud said simultaneously. They glanced at each other, and then Zack burst into laughter while Cloud leaned over and let his forehead thunk onto Sephiroth's desk. If Sephiroth busied himself with straightening the sock request forms to hide a smile, the other two need never know.
"Better be careful, kiddo, your hair's so spiky that your head might get stuck to the desk," Zack gasped, and the mental image of that sent him into another round of barking laughter, kicking at the couch's armrest. Sephiroth calmly slid his hand forward between Cloud's forehead and the desktop so the kid wouldn't end up bruising himself. When Zack started talking about 'Spike' and changing all of Cloud's nametags on his uniform (and Cloud swore to the gods that if Zack ever did that, and of course it was entirely possible, then maybe salvation-by-proxy wouldn't be enough after all and hey, that Graviga was starting to look pretty awesome), Sephiroth told Cloud, "I suppose now would be a good time to tell you this is likely his revenge for being called 'Puppy' amongst the SOLDIERs for the last two years."
Cloud's head jerked up. "Wait, what?"
"Damn it, Sephiroth, you swore you wouldn't tell!" Zack cried, but Cloud was quickly moving to the other side of Sephiroth's desk and saying, "Wait, tell me. Tell me."
"At least make him work for the blackmail!" Zack begged, but Cloud had an unspoken alliance of defense with Sephiroth. Sephiroth said with an entirely straight face, "Indeed, not long after he came his comrades began calling him 'Puppy.' I imagine it may have something to do with his enthusiasm and the difficulty his officers have in training him."
"Oi, the thing with the water pipes was not my fault!"
Cloud wasn't normally one to grin like a devil, but now it was a close thing. After all, he did have access to the papers requesting things like socks and the nametags on uniforms.