The five of them hurried back to the base they had started from, thankfully this time with no interruptions of monsters or other creatures on the way. While they were back, Noctis had gone and talked to Monica to get what information he needed next. On the way back from the tomb, Noctis had received a call from Cor with him saying something about going after a base to take down. Cloud could only assume that they would be dealing with that sooner or later.
As Cloud waited around, he saw that Prompto was wandering around, holding his camera. Eventually he turned to face Cloud and walked over to him. "Hey Cloud, gotta say you standing there all serious with the stars in the background makes for a great shot. Can I grab a quick pic?"
Cloud shrugged. "Sure, I guess."
"Great! Just hold that pose a moment longer… and there we go!" Prompto stood back up and smiled. "It looks great! Can't wait to show it off to the others."
"How many photos do you take?" Cloud decided to ask.
"Like overall? Or just each day? Cause I try to keep a limit on it, like ten to fifteen per day or so. Otherwise I'd probably have like a hundred or more and that's just too much. I can only save so much to the camera y'know?"
"I think I get it. You've always liked that sort of thing?"
Prompto rubbed the back of his neck as he smiled, most likely reflecting upon a good memory. "Yup, though when I was younger I was more focused on just taking pictures of cats and dogs and other animals. Took me a bit to get more confident before I started taking pictures of people and other things."
Cloud nodded. "I see. Good to hear."
"So do you have any favorite hobbies?" Prompto asked.
"What do you mean?"
"You know, like how I like photography and stuff. Course I know people can have more than one hobby. But like, what's one of your favorites then?"
"I… I've never really thought about it before," Cloud replied. "Does working on my motorcycle count?"
"Motorcycle enthusiast totally counts!" Prompto replied. "Seriously you gotta tell me more about it. I am more of a tech guy, but motorcycles can technically count, right?"
Cloud tried his hardest to refrain from smiling at the bad pun, but a little bit started to show through. But before he could give any answer, the other three walked over to him. The conversation on the motorcycle was going to have to be put on hold. "So what's the plan?"
"Monica gave me the directions to the base, at least some secret way of sneaking it. It's just a little ways from here," Noctis answered.
"While we are close to the base, after today's long ordeal we should rest up while we can," Ignis added. "Cor will be at the base by morning from what I heard. But now that just leaves where shall sleep."
Cloud raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean? Isn't there a caravan right over there?"
"Yes there is, but there is also a haven nearby, and I am trying to decide what would be less cramped for the five of us," Ignis replied. "And while I know you are wondering, a haven is a small area of land that is embedded with magic that wards off the daemons."
"Yeah, we usually camp out at one if we aren't close enough to a motel or anything," Prompto added. "Or when we don't have enough money."
"Still either way it would be cramped like the caravan," Gladio interjected. "The four of us can fit fine, but I'm not too sure how well it would work with one extra, even if you are on the smaller side. Might be room, but can't really tell right now."
Cloud withheld his thoughts to retort Gladio's comment. Instead he tried to think of something else to say on the subject. "So it's just like camping out in the open?"
"Yes, but we do have our tent," Ignis replied.
Cloud just gave the group a shrug. "If we're camping outdoors I don't mind sleeping on the ground outside. Wouldn't be the first time at least."
"Are you sure? You wouldn't be cold or anything?" Prompto asked, looking a little concerned.
"I've slept in worse conditions, I'll be fine."
"Can't we just like… buy another tent or something?" Noctis suggested. "They can't be that expensive. Or maybe like we can actually see if all five of all can fit."
Ignis sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose. "They cost a bit more than you would think, but if need be, we can put aside some gil just to be on the safe side."
"It's really not necessary," Cloud started to say, but Ignis seemed to have more.
"And what if it rains?" Noctis continued on. "You just going to let yourself get soaked?"
"Noct," Ignis interjected as he placed a hand on the guy's shoulder. "You cannot force him against his will. Besides we still have only begun to know Cloud, crowding up in the tent for a night is a bit different than the caravan,"
Cloud could understand what Ignis was trying to get at. He barely knew the guys and it would be a bit awkward to be sharing a tent with them. But then on the other hand Cloud had spent those years as an Infantryman sleeping in tents with others when out on missions. Usually each man would have his own tent, but there had been times when he had to group up with others. Even on his journey to stop Sephiroth with the AVALANCHE team, there were times where they had to camp out in the wilderness using the small tents they were able to buy.
Either way it wasn't something he was unfamiliar with, but he wasn't one who was willing to just jump into something like that. He was still overall a private guy who liked his personal space. It was going to take him some time before he felt like he would be comfortable with it, but until then he was just going to deal with it how he could.
"I'll be fine by myself for now," Cloud finally said. "You guys at least have extra sleeping bags or pillows I could use, right?"
"Yes we do in fact. So if that is that case, I assume we are settling on heading to the haven? There is one just south of the outpost, close enough we won't run into any daemons."
"Sounds like a plan," Gladio said.
"And that means Iggy's cooking for tonight!" Prompto cheered as he pumped a fist into the air. "Aw man Cloud, just wait till you try Iggy's cooking, it's like his second calling or something. It's totally out of this world!"
"If you want to get technical, Cloud's from out of this world… literally," Noctis replied snarkily.
"Dude! Don't go stealing my bad jokes! It's my job to make all the bad jokes and puns!" Prompto exclaimed.
"And yet we'd be happier if you stopped making those puns," Gladio said as he gave Prompto a shove.
The five of them walked south from the outpost, and true to Ignis's word, there was a haven just nearby. Just as they approached, Cloud could practically feel the magical energy that came off of it, with the strange runes that glowed blue and the small blue fire pit.
"I'll get the fire started," Noctis said as he approached the pit.
"And I'll get the tent set up," Prompto replied.
Cloud only could stand there as he watched the four set up around the campfire that was now lit. Soon there were chairs around the fire and a mini grill and other cooking equipment off to the side. Behind him was a tent and it was a bit larger than he had expected, but he could tell that four people could be fine, five would probably be a bit more questionable.
Soon enough Ignis walked over to him and held out a journal. "Since you're our guest, I thought you could be the one to decide what we'll eat. I know the food most likely is foreign, but hopefully there is something to your liking."
Cloud nodded as he started to look through the journal. Some of them had circles next to them, giving Cloud the thought that those were the ones that were available. There were a lot of foods that really were unfamiliar, but they were intriguing. After a bit of reading, he finally came to his decision. "Prairie-Style Skewers I guess?"
"A good choice," Ignis replied. "Relax and sit back, I'll handle all the rest."
Doing as he was told he went down to sit by the fire, right near were Noctis and Prompto were. Right away Prompto looked at him and gave a friendly smile. "So Cloud, you play any video games back in your world?"
"What!? Don't tell me that they don't have video games there!"
"Man that must suck," Noctis added.
Cloud tried to think. He figured that a video game was some game that most likely was done through some technological means.
But he wasn't exactly sure what kind of games they were talking about. Sure there were some at the Golden Saucer, but other than that, he hadn't really done much else. It was probably as close as he was going to get though.
"We have some stuff. Some vehicle simulation games and stuff. I don't really remember though, it was at an amusement park that I went to over two years ago. And… I mean I guess the training simulations could count."
"Training simulations?" Gladio asked as he sat down in one of the chairs next to the group.
"Training for…" he was about to say SOLDIERs, but then he knew that would open the floodgates to even more questions. He hadn't actually used the simulations when he was working for Shinra, only during his time taking it down did he have a chance to use it. So instead he went with phrasing it a little differently. "When we weren't out in the field. We'd put on a headset and a simulation would be set up around us."
"Oh! So VR," Prompto stated. "So at least your world isn't completely boring. But like, you don't even have phone games? Wait, do you even have phones?!"
Cloud started to laugh. "Why wouldn't we have phones?" From his pocket he pulled out his flip phone to show to the guys. What he didn't expect was for Prompto and Noctis to start laughing near hysterically.
"What in the world is that?" Prompto laughed.
"Looks like some old relic," Noctis snorted. "Like something my dad would use when he was my age."
Even Gladio let out a chuckle. "I didn't take you for the old man type when it came to a phone."
Cloud hardly expressed any amusement at their jokes. "What do you guys have then?"
"Only the latest coolest smartphones from Insomnia; Crownsguard addition," Prompto said as he held up his smartphone. "It's got all the latest features and the coolest games downloaded, like King's Knight."
"I bet that thing can't even get games," Gladio laughed. "Let alone reception."
"Hey wait, who says it couldn't?" Prompto suddenly asked. "What if it actually could through some magic Astrals involved way?"
"Only one way to try," Cloud said as he flipped it open, causing the screen to light up. If he could actually connect to some cell towers… would he be able to make calls? And if he could do that… would he be able to call home? To be able to call Tifa and the others to let them know he was okay? It was a hope, but honestly he wasn't too sure.
He opened up the contacts list as the three boys crowded around him to watch. He scrolled down until he reached Tifa's number and hit the send button to start the call. Pressed the phone to his ear he held his breath, waiting for the ringing sound. But there never ended up being any sound at all.
Sighing, he clicked end and flipped it closed. "Guess it doesn't work."
"Well what about calling one of us? Like maybe calling your world doesn't work but here it might? Can I see for a moment?" Prompto asked as he held out his hand.
Reluctantly Cloud handed over his phone and Prompto started to dial up a number on it. Once he hit send he waited just as Cloud had before, and just like before he ended the call after a few of waiting. He handed back Cloud his phone. "Guess you're stuck without phone use."
"Or we could buy one," Noctis suggested.
"Noct," Ignis said as he walked over carrying two plates which he handed to Gladio and Prompto first. "Just like a tent, phones are not cheap and we wouldn't be able to get him an Insomnia made one either."
"But wouldn't it be smart for him to have one? You know in case we ever got separated or something?" Noctis asked.
"Yes, you are correct," Ignis replied as he handed out the other two plates to Noctis and then Cloud. He headed back to grab his own plate before he continued. "But currently now is not the time to worry about it. I will write it down though so when we have enough funds and the time, we can get Cloud a proper cell phone."
"You really don't have to do all this for me, it's not needed," Cloud said as he looked over the food Ignis had made. It really did smell good, he knew that much, so he could only guess it tasted just as nice.
"But Noct makes a fair point. While it is unlikely, it would be wise that you have one in case you were separated."
"Plus if you are stuck here a while, better to have it sooner than later, right?" Prompto added on before going back to eating his skewered food.
Cloud frowned ever so slightly. While he didn't mind helping out the guys, he did wonder about going home. Ever since he got here it was always in the back of his mind. But he couldn't let it be his focus… helping Noctis and his friends had to be the focus. Wondering about home could come at a later time.
"Maybe, but I wouldn't say you'd need to do it all now."
"We will do it when it is most opportune," Ignis answered. "Now I feel you may have some other questions on your mind. Since we have the time now, we could answer them if you like, but only if you let us ask things in return. It's only fair that way."
Cloud nodded. "Yeah, I understand. I'm just not used to having to answer so much."
"Take your time then," Noctis said as he shrugged slightly. "Wouldn't want to burn up all the stories right away anyways."
"True…" Cloud mumbled as he stared up at the night sky. "Well… where to begin…"
Just trying to develop things and all, trying to get stuff. I'll probably go over some of it in the next chapter of course, gotta know how those boys react to Cloud telling them stuff, right? Lol. Thanks for reading!