If That Boy Don't Love You By Now

Cloud's lack of romantic skills and gaping crush on Sephiroth is starting to worry Zack. So, he's taking matters into his own hands. By the time he's through with them, they'll definitely be in love...right? A Final Fantasy: Advent Children CloudSeph fic; Warning: yaoi, AU, OOC

Disclaimer: Final Fantasy: Advent Children © Square Enix
Plot, awkward situations, and potential crack-tastic-ness © Yours Truly

Chapter One: Prelude to Disaster

His fingers danced across the ivory keys with a haunting, swaying melody. The soft-haired blond stood in the doorway, transfixed. The pianist and he were the only ones left in the theatre, everyone else having already gone home. As the silveret’s notes quieted and his fingers slowed, the blond shifted, unconsciously making a noise of displeasure that his private show was coming to an end. The pianist whirled around abruptly, the unfinished chords hanging in the air as his fingers fell from the keys.

Cloud’s eyes widened a fraction before he schooled his face into its usual expression of disinterest. “Sorry,” he mumbled, turning from the doorway and hurrying down the hall.

The pianist abruptly pushed back against the piano, the bench making a screech as he made to stand up. “Wait,” he called out, but the man was already gone.

“Tiiiiiiifaaaaa,” Cloud moaned, slumping down at the bar.

Seventh Heaven, the bar where Tifa worked and they both lived, was busy that night. It was a typically late Friday night; the sounds of clicking glasses, various conversations, and rock music mixed together in the air. The woman in question turned to her friend. “Cloooouuuuud,” she said mockingly in reply.

“Don’t mock me in my misery, Tif,” muttered Cloud. “Get me a Screwdriver instead.”

The dark-haired fighter laughed. “Alright, Cloud,” she said, turning away to prepare a drink, “what happened this time?”

Cloud propped his head up on one hand. “Nothing,” he said sullenly.

“What do you mean, ‘nothing’?” Tifa Lockhart pushed a glass towards him and waited.

“That’s just it, nothing,” exclaimed Cloud, throwing his hands in the air. “I was standing there, watching him, and then he turned around, and I freaked and ran away!” The exasperated blond banged his head against the countertop.

“Hey, easy there, Spikey,” said another voice, “There aren’t many people crazy enough as you to fill the spot of my best friend if you—hey! Tif, lay off!” Zachary Fair laughed and held his arms up in defense as Tifa shoved him off his stool.

“He’s not in the mood for it tonight, Zack,” she said seriously, silently mouthing the word, Sephiroth.

Zack sobered up. “Hey. Hey, Cloud,” he said softly, jostling his friend’s shoulder. “What’s up, man?”

Cloud turned his face toward the sound of his best friend’s voice. “I’m an idiot, that’s what’s up,” he said miserably, not even bothering to open his eyes.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” muttered Zack, glancing down a moment later to see his best friend’s cerulean blue eyes glaring at him. “Joking, joking,” he hastily explained with a smile.

Cloud sighed, finally taking the drink Tifa had made for him into his hands. “I was packing up after rehearsal, and he was playing the piano in the rehearsal room. So I stopped by the doorway to listen, and he saw me, and I…” Cloud trailed off, not finishing the story, but Zack understood anyway.

“Oh,” he said quietly. He looked to Tifa, who only shrugged. “Listen, Cloud,” he began.

“I get so stupid around him,” said Cloud suddenly, “like—I don’t know. I try to act the way other people do, but I—I always end up doing it wrong.” He took a large gulp from his drink.

Zack and Tifa looked to each other. In the three weeks since rehearsals had started, since Cloud first saw the man, he had never admitted this much to them. “Do you mean—I mean, are you—um, you can’t flirt with him?” Zack asked carefully.

Cloud fixed his friend with a hard stare, but said nothing.

Zack let out a relieved sigh. “Wow, that’s it? Why didn’t you say so before? You’re talking to the world’s greatest flirt right here,” he said proudly with a broad smile.

“Hah,” said Tifa.

Ignoring her, Zack slung an arm around Cloud’s shoulders, ruffling his spikes affectionately. “Don’t worry, Spikey,” he said, “you’re in good hands. Seph will be yours in no time.”

Cloud cringed.

Later that night—morning, Cloud noted as he glanced at the clock, the faint glow reading 3:34—he thought about the state of his life, particularly as it pertained to Sephiroth.

Sephiroth. Even his name was irresistible. “Sephiroooooth,” he whispered to himself in the silence, drawing out the last syllable. Cloud smiled, loving the way it rolled off his tongue. He stared mindlessly into the dark for a while, thinking about Sephiroth and how wonderful he was.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t talk to the man; Cloud had no problem asking him what measure they were on when he lost his place, too busy staring at Sephiroth to notice when his measures of rest were over. He had no problem letting the man know he’d done a good job mastering that difficult section, or telling him which parts sounded like they could use some work.

No, the true difficulty was in taking their conversations that crucial step further, past business and into easy friendship, into a relationship, and eventually, into bed.

Cloud turned over, punching the pillow under his head in frustration. He was absolutely terrible at making friends, let alone getting a date. There was no way in hell he even had a chance at Sephiroth.

“And besides,” grumbled Cloud quietly, “he’s probably already got a boyfriend.” Oh, Cloud had no doubt the man was gay. Even if he wasn’t, Cloud highly doubted any woman in the world could stand to date a man who took longer than she did on his hair anyway. He’d be gay by necessity.

Sprawling himself across his bed and tangled between the sheets and the comforter, Cloud tried to get some sleep, desperately wishing he could get the silver-haired god out of his mind. It was a lost cause, and he was losing brain cells, not to mention sleep, over it. He scoffed. Zack doesn’t even know what he’s getting himself into, he thought.

The next morning hit Cloud like a cast iron frying pan to the face. Lazily rolling in his sleep, he threw an arm around the pillow, hugging it tight to his chest. The sun peeked through his blinds, threatening to flood his room with light, but he ignored it.

That was, he ignored it until his alarm clock went off for the fifth time, letting him know he was officially an hour late for practice.

“Shit!” He leapt out of the bed like it was on fire, dashing around the room and getting dressed in record time. Hastily throwing on a button down shirt, he tried to brush his teeth, put on pants, and head out his bedroom door at the same time. Let it be said that Cloud was not known for being at the top of his mental game at nine in the morning.

With a series of loud bangs and curses, he tumbled down the staircase that he had conveniently forgotten was there, arriving at the bottom in a messy heap.

“Tifa, look,” said Marlene, one of the two little orphans who lived with Cloud and Tifa, “Cloud’s awake!” She covered her mouth with her hands and giggled.

“I can see that,” murmured Tifa. She placed a plate of breakfast in front of Denzel and Marlene, and then turned to inspect the groaning blond.

Cloud stood up carefully, cradling the back of his head. “Oww—argh,” he coughed, dislodging his toothbrush from his throat with a slight gag. “Nnngh.”

“And good morning to you, too,” said Tifa pleasantly. “Aren’t you late for something, young man?”

“Oh, yeah, stick it in my face,” grumbled Cloud, fixing his pants and doing the button hastily, “especially since you were so kind to wake me up on time.”

Denzel and Marlene giggled, used to Cloud’s antics. Cloud growled, snitching a piece of toast off each of their plates in revenge. They squealed in protest, until Cloud gave them each a giant hug in apology.

“Here,” said Tifa, handing him a bag over the bar top. “I packed your flute and your music for you.”

Cloud graciously accepted his bag with a nod. “Thanks,” he said. “I’ll see you guys later, alright?”

“Bye, Cloud,” Marlene and Denzel chorused as Cloud waved at them through the door. Tifa came around the bar, watching from the front window of the bar as Cloud straddled his motorcycle and sped off.

“Oh, Cloud,” said Tifa with a smile.

Cloud silently made his way into the theatre, hoping to make his late entrance as inconspicuous as possible. No such luck.

“Mr. Strife,” called out conductor Rufus Shinra, bringing the entire orchestra to silence as the blond entered the room. His voiced echoed and carried in the dynamically perfect room, and Cloud could feel the weight of everyone’s stares on him.

“Uh…director. Mr. Shinra. Sir,” Cloud stumbled over his words as he hurried to answer the man. “I’m sorry—”

“That is exactly right, Mr. Strife,” interrupted Rufus in a drawling tone. “You are nothing more than a sorry excuse for a first chair flautist. Take your seat immediately, unless you intend on wasting even more of everyone’s time.”

Cloud bowed his head, blushing furiously. “Yes, sir,” he mumbled, making his way to his seat. He quickly placed his music on the stand, glancing at the stand next to him to find the right song. The silence seemed deafening as he put together his flute, the metal sliding against metal and making tinny clinking noises.

He held his flute on his lap when he was finished, looking to the director for the start of the song. “Tune,” said Rufus sharply. “You’re late as it is; I won’t have you fucking up the songs because you sound like an asphyxiating canary.”

Cloud blushed again, glancing across the way to see Sephiroth’s reaction. Yes, the self-same Sephiroth who, as the pianist, sat behind a grand piano directly across from Cloud’s position. The very Sephiroth who was, at this moment, waiting and staring with a raised eyebrow for him to play his note.

“Oh,” said Cloud softly, before playing a B flat, loud, clear, and unwavering. Sephiroth matched the pitch, and the two sounds blended together perfectly. Cloud couldn’t help but smirk to himself. I’m always in tune, he thought.

Tapping his baton against the stand, Rufus garnered the attention of the orchestra. “Beautiful. Now, to play the other 1,495 notes,” he said sardonically.

By the end of the eight-hour rehearsal, everyone was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to kill each other, or kill themselves. “Nooooo mooooore,” groaned Cloud melodramatically to the delicate girl who sat two seats down from him, a good friend of his.

She giggled. “Yet I can be sure to see you tomorrow, right?” Aerith gave him a meaningful glance as she packed away her piccolo.

Cloud looked over to where his silver-haired crush stood talking with the director near the piano. Sephiroth looked over in Cloud’s direction, catching his eye sharply before looking away again. The blond sighed softly.

“He’s just so perfect, Aer,” he said breathily. “He’s a musical genius with a body sculpted by the gods themselves. And he has sexy hair. He just can’t be beat.”

“Yo, if you’re talking about Sephy over there, I totally second that,” interjected Reno, the last member of the flute section. The brash redhead was constantly pushing his way into Cloud’s conversations, and the blond was not amused.

“Seriously, if I wasn’t already dating his younger brother, I’d hit that in a heartbeat, yo,” Reno added, nodding for good measure.

“Back off, he’s mine,” growled Cloud, staring at Sephiroth again.

Reno held up his hands in surrender. “Hey, I already snagged one, yo. And besides,” he muttered, “it’s not like you’re making a move anytime soon.”

“Hey,” said Cloud, whirling on him, “I’m gonna make a move soon, just…watch.” He slung his bag over his shoulder and crossed his arms. He would make a move, just…maybe not as soon as he would like. Never sounds nice this time of year, he thought sarcastically.

“Right, Cloud,” said Aerith, “we’ll be watching for centuries.” Cloud rolled his eyes and pouted. Why did she always have to say what he was thinking? Aerith might have been one of his closest friends, but she was way too intuitive for his comfort level.

But he said nothing. They were right, anyway, so why argue? “Whatever,” he grumbled, turning to leave. “I’m gonna head out now. If I spend one more minute in this place, I swear, I’ll…”

Aerith looked up when Cloud didn’t finish his sentence. “Cloud?” She asked worriedly, following the blond’s line of sight, and then she sighed resignedly.

For the only thing that could possibly earn a complete fixation of Cloud’s gaze was…

“Cloud,” said Sephiroth in that irresistible baritone.

Cloud tried very, very hard not to faint.