All right. This story is for my 50 Episodes: Zack Fair prompt on Insanejournal. Three AU story lines involved here. First is Axel-Zack, a KH fusion fic. In that verse, the Kingdom Hearts world happened many years ago, and people like Aeris, Cloud, Sephiroth, Cid, Yuffie were all reborn here. As well as some of the Nobodies. Just because they thought they vanished after death doesn’t mean they are right.
Second set/chapter is a gender switch fic, not entirely willingly, with the Zack/Sephiroth pairing. Be warned.
Chapter three is Turk Zack. Basically how it sounds, with the benefit of having twin brother Aaron around for fun. Zack/Sephiroth, Sephiroth/Cloud, and Sephiroth/Zack/Cloud slash there as well. Aaron/Aeris.
I don’t own FFVII, and I hope you enjoy these.
And that was freaking him out.
Resting a hand over his heart absently, he felt it racing, beating hard and fast against his fingers. It was slowing, which was good, and a soothing sound. When the sound of his own heartbeat had started being calming, he wasn’t sure, but he just accepted it.
He didn’t understand what was going on, but Zack was sure that something was happening. The hair on the back of his neck was always on end anymore, and he worried. Whatever was going to be big. And bad.
Cloud was getting better at using the sword, and Zack leaned against the wall, watching the younger man go through his routine. It was part of his day now to go and watch his friend, helping correct where he saw the other going wrong, and basically play coach. Occasionally he was also the practice dummy, and that was happening more and more often.
Which was good. Zack knew Cloud would be great in SOLDIER, if the kid just got the practice and the self-confidence for it.
Then, as Cloud spun, Zack felt everything to hazy for a moment. Then it wasn’t just Cloud, but another person as well, the faintest of overlays. Another blond, same focus and concentration in his eyes, wearing a black cloak. He had the strangest swords.
Cloud stumbled to a stop, blade dropping some, looking at Zack. The moment he stopped, the vision was gone, and Zack rubbed his eyes. “Sorry, Spike. Just a bit of dozing on my feet. That’s all.”
The dreams shouldn’t be showing up in reality, and he pushed that thought back. Would worry about that later, after he convinced Cloud that, no, he was fine, really.
All the blonds in his life were stubborn.
Whatever was going on, it seemed Zack was having a blast.
For a moment, when the black things had appeared, Sephiroth had paused, unsure of what they were.
Zack hadn’t even done that.
Instead, he had plunged in, a sound that was almost a laugh escaping him. The dark things had focused on him, scattering and reforming, attempting to circle around the black haired man. Sephiroth had stepped in then, not willing to let Zack get hurt.
Something was wrong, though. Zack never acted like that, and the way the man was still laughing was something he would have expected from Genesis more than Zack.
And, eerily, Sephiroth wondered if he really did see what he thought he did. Just for a moment, during one turn to take out the dark monsters, he could have sworn Zack’s eyes were green.
“You aren’t welcomed here.”
The shadow paused, head tilting as it looked at him, and Zack remained in his easy crouch, looking down at the creature.
“I know what you are, and I know what you can do. I don’t know how I know, but I can fight.”
Fire flickered on his fingertips, and yellow eyes focused on that for a moment before looking to meet Zack’s eyes again.
“We didn’t die.” His eyes flickered green, and red threaded through his hair, and Zack ignored all of it. “I know what you want. These are my people. Touch them, and we will destroy you all.”
It wasn’t him, and it wasn’t the one who he had been before. It was both of them, and they were deadly serious.
Couldn’t save Roxas, but this time, they wouldn’t lose anyone.
Well, this was them up shit creek with no paddle.
Seph on one side, and even the famous general was getting tired. Not that Zack was any better, and Cloud and Aeris were lagging. Badly.
It was only sheer luck that let him get all his people into one area, and this was bad. Really bad.
He didn’t want to do this. He hated the fact that he knew so much, and the others…didn’t seem to remember -anything-. That just wasn’t right. The fact that he hadn’t remember till recently didn’t mean anything.
But for now, he had to do it.
Well, might as well have fun with it.
Letting his sword drop, Zack ignored Seph’s curse, and Cloud’s startled sound. “So you guys want to play,” he all but purred at the shadows. He reached out, a move well practiced by now, and let the weapons come. Ignoring the sharp hiss from his side, as well as the sudden pulling back from Aeris and Cloud, he moved forward.
“Told you to leave us alone,” Zack said, fire erupting to life in his hands.
You know, it's really odd being a good guy this time around. How do you stand it?
"Look, crazy voice in my head," Zack muttered, ducking beneath a set of claws, lashing out with the sharp edge of his weapons, flames crackling as it burned the creature. "I really am trying to concentrate, which is kinda hard when you keep talking to me."
You're the one who's talking back. Zack could almost feel the voice smile. Anyone watches us, who do you think is going to be called the crazy one?
"Seph -is- watching us. He is very capable of killing these things and watching what I'm doing at the same time. He's not a General for nothing, you know."
The voice chuckled. There isn't an us. Just you. I'm just what you used to be. Betcha that, if this part of me got reincarnated, then my Heart did, too. The feeling of a smile grew. Red hair, green eyes. Spectacularly messy sense of humor. That would be my heart. Got it memorized?
Growling at what that voice just told him, Zack took it out on the Heartless around him.
This was just not fair.
Something seemed to have irritated Zack. He was tearing through them faster than he had to before.
Sephiroth was already making a note to sit the man down and ask what was going on. He seemed to be the only one who knew what these things were, and those weapons....
If Hojo knew about this strange ability that Zack just showed by pulled weapons and fire from nowhere, well, Sephiroth would most likely never see Zack again.
Though he did feel a dull anger that the man had never shared the fact he could do such things. After telling Sephiroth that being different was fine, that there was nothing wrong with it. After hearing how Sephiroth felt about being different, he still pretended like he was like everyone else.
Still, it was somewhat interesting to see Zack destroy them with such ease. And it let Sephiroth know that fire did destroy these creatures well.
Still would have to have a talk with Zack.
After he was done, as Zack would have put it, spanking the creatures flat.
Perched up in a tree, keeping an eye out over camp, Zack decided he had never felt more lonely in his life.
Midgar had been a ghost town. The place was swarming with Heartless, and it had taken a bit to get to where he had wanted to go. He had never felt so relieved as to find Aeris was okay. And he had seen signs that a lot of the SOLDIERs and troops had gotten out. Still, it had felt good to get back out of Midgar intact, with his people there as well.
Then there had been the talk with Seph. Who seemed angry at him, and Zack couldn't figure out why. It wasn't like he knew this was going to happen, or why he knew what he did. Not really.
And Cloud and Aeris kept giving him these looks. Some of the others who had joined them were doing the same, and he had finally said something about watch and retreated upwards.
He had always liked trees. Been climbing them since he was tall enough to start snagging the branches.
Maybe, if he kept back, they wouldn't look at him like that.
Still, it hurt. He was still him. They didn't need to look at him like he had suddenly changed.
Even if he had.
Wasn't his fault.
This was familiar.
It tickled at the back of her mind, like the voices did at times. Only, with this, she tried to grab it.
Nothing was so frustrating when something was just out of her grasp. Like this almost-familiar feel.
It didn't help that Zack had gone off like a kicked puppy. Oh, he had given a smile and said something about keeping watch, but she wasn't fooled one bit. He was different, and that was strangely familiar as well.
Ooh, how she wanted to go kick those things. Or at least go after Zack and talk to him.
But every time she took a step to go outside of the group, someone snagged her back. Usually Cloud. It was sweet, but it made it very hard to go talk to Zack.
"Aeris, he won't go anywhere, but it'll be really hard to explain to him that I let you get eaten by the black things. Plus, how can you make him feel better if you are trying to eat him in a bad way?"
She gave Cloud a look, which just made him blush, then sighed.
Shadows everywhere, and not one made sense.
The night seemed to take forever, and Cloud couldn't help but twitch every time that yellow eyes got spotted in the bushes. It took a lot to kill those things, and he really was tired. Unlike some of the others, he was just a regular trooper. And the regulars were all started to get a bit ragged.
Not to mention they had a group of people who had no clue on how to fight.
Every time someone fell, it made his stomach knot a little more.
And now Zack was acting weird.
Well, weird for Zack.
The man had almost fled everyone, hiding away. Now and then, Cloud would see flames explode in the woods, but he wasn't sure if that was Zack and those things fighting, or if someone else had been using a fire materia.
And...Cloud was sure he hadn't imagined the faint flickers of red in Zack's hair. Or that his eyes weren't always purple.
What was going on here?
The sunrise, though, was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
Why the hell am I the bad guy here, Seph? Tell me, huh? It’s not like I asked to know what the fuck was going on, and it would have been nice to have been able to sleep during the last few months without waking up freaking out because I’m seeing things that weren’t real.
And I didn’t. Don’t look at me like that, I didn’t. I thought I was finally losing it. There, happy now? Now you know why I didn’t tell you anything, Seph. I was afraid. Afraid that, if it got out, you’d end up not seeing me anymore. That I would just vanish, like all those other people vanished when Hojo found something interesting about them.
Guess what? I’m still freaked out. People don’t -do- things like I’m doing. Everyone is looking at me like I’m just as bad as the shadow things, and it’s frustrating as hell.
You know what. Fine. Fuck it. You got that look in your eye that says you aren’t going to listen to me. I figured if anyone would stand with me, it’d be you. Guess I was wrong about that, too.
I thought you were my friend. Thought you’d stick around me when I needed someone there.
Guess I was wrong. About a lot of thing.
I’m tired, Seph. I’m going to see if I can’t see if I can get a few hours of sleep.
Maybe, this time, I can get it without the voices.
Whatever it was, it was big, it had claws, and it was targeting Zack.
The black haired man was doing his best to keep away from those sharp teeth and claws that oozed blackness, but Sephiroth wasn’t the only one who had tensed when the creature rose up, then crashed down, almost burying Zack from view. With a laugh, the man dodged, fire flaring up in his wake.
It was getting incredibly frustrating, Sephiroth decided. Ever since Zack had walked away from him after that short attempt to actually talk, he had not gotten the chance to confront the man again.
And now this.
His own attention mostly diverted keeping the smaller shadows off people, those with materia equipped doing the same, but, still, he kept an eye on Zack.
Nor was he along in this effort.
So, when Zack vanished under a wave of black, he wasn’t the only one who made a sound of denial.
That…was not allowed. Zack would never let himself be taken down by something so foolish.
Now the man just had to prove it.
For a moment, Cloud’s breath froze in his chest. Beside him, Aeris had gone pale, and Sephiroth had faltered. Just for a moment, but Cloud knew what to look for now.
Zack was gone.
There was something so fundamentally wrong with that phrase that Cloud thought it again, poking at it like a child with a bug. It was just surreal, and he couldn’t quite make it fit with how reality was supposed to work.
Zack wasn’t gone. Any second now, he would pop up, grinning that manic grin and dicing the monster to pieces.
It was nice with faith was rewarded.
The creature popped with a sound that surprised Cloud with the bloodthirsty pleasure it gave him to hear.
That had been a long, long moment, waiting, though.
It was amazing the words the ever so calm General could spit out when he was in the mood to.
Sephiroth was certainly in the mood to.
Watching him stalk towards Zack as the last of the monsters finally died, Aeris felt something in her chest tighten. There was something about Sephiroth that drew Zack, drew in all of the SOLDIERs, and she was always afraid that, one day, it would draw Zack away from her.
The fact she kept seeing Sephiroth with translucent wings in the oddest places didn’t help.
Though Cloud had one as well.
Shaking her head, she watched as Zack grinned up at Sephiroth from where he sat, panting from exertion, looking as cheerful as he always did.
It didn’t take an Ancient to know that he was hiding hurt in his eyes.
Though that hurt seemed to ease as Sephiroth continued to curse Zack out, calling him every name in the book.
She really didn’t get men at times.
Happy? It was knowing everything was going to be okay.
Oh, he wasn’t sure if they were going to be able to keep outrunning these things. He didn’t know what affects the flames and dreams and shadows of a place long gone were having on him besides changes in hair color and a rather sly sense of humor. He didn’t even know if he was even going to survive the next night, or if anyone else was going to.
But he did know that, in his own way, Seph did care, and he already knew how Cloud and Aeris felt about them.
As he sat there, Cloud rolling his eyes at him, Seph muttering about idiot people who didn’t know their own limits, and Aeris fixing up the clawmarks on his arm, Zack did know one thing.
This? This was him happy.