Fandom: FFVII: Crisis Core
Characters: Cloud, Lazard, Genesis/Sephiroth
Word Count: 2730
Summary: There are games afoot, and Lazard has been running two steps behind his opponents. The help he needs will come from above.
Lazard Deusericus had at long last been wrapping up the day’s work when a young man fell from above and landed smack on the stack of reports. Lazard rolled his chair back a tad, interlacing his fingers as loose pages drifted around him. “This is highly irregular,” he said.
The fall had knocked the young man’s head gear clean off. There was such a shock of bright golden hair underneath that Lazard considered, for a bare second, the remote possibility that his guest was a recent exile from the heavens. But a second glance showed the young man to be wearing a Shinra Army uniform, so Lazard concluded, quite safely, that heaven had nothing to do with the whole mess.
“Ah… ah… OW,” the young man groaned, gripping his lower back.
“Indeed,” Lazard said. The young man promptly rolled off the desk and onto the floor. He made no move to rise. Lazard stretched upwards in his chair. “Are you alright?”
“Um, yessir?” came the response from the floor.
Lazard propped his chin in one hand. “Aren’t you sure?”
There was a rustling as the young man struggled to rise. He stood with his head down, shoulders bowed and his back to Lazard. The Director took a moment to reassess his earlier conclusion about his guest’s origins. That ass looked heavenly enough.
Alas, the young man turned around all too soon, making a mighty effort to lift his chin. “I’m sorry, Sir. I’ll accept whatever punishment you give me.”
Lazard pulled himself close to the desk again. “At ease, young man,” he said. It had no effect. “You’re not one of mine so technically you’re not mine to punish.” Small comfort that was, if any. The punishment for an interdepartmental incident would be worth twice the offense, if Lazard chose to lodge a formal complaint. If.
“Do you mind if I ask how you came to land on my desk?” Lazard asked. “Contrary to rumor, young men don’t land practically in my lap every single day.”
The young man looked up, blinking. A hint of a blush rose to his cheeks. Lazard waited, resisting the urge to shift in his seat. The young man drew breath to speak, but it took two false starts before the words came out. “Private Cloud Strife, Shinra Infantry, Sir.” He swallowed. “I was assigned guard duty on Floor 49.”
Lazard raised one eyebrow. “Two floors down, Private. Might I ask what you were doing in the ventilation shafts?”
“Investigating… um, noises, Sir.” One booted foot twitched.
Lazard tilted his head. “Noises? What kind of noises?”
The touch of pink in Strife’s cheeks deepened. “Um, uh… creaking, sometimes, Sir. And… banging.” He swallowed. “Voices, lots of times.”
Lazard frowned. “I haven’t heard anything like that.” He hadn’t heard anything at all, least of all the sound of one undersized infantryman shimmying up the pipes. Had to give the young man points for stealth but security would have to be shored up.
“Well, there weren’t any yet, Sir,” Strife said, “but they usually do start in various places around this hour.”
A glance at the clock showed it to be just past ten. There were no after-hours repairs scheduled and they had not run a midnight drill in ages. Suspicions began to rise. “Voices, you said? Around the whole building?”
“Mostly around the SOLDIER floor, Sir, and the conference rooms, and the training areas.” Strife glanced aside. “And sometimes your office.”
“My office.” Lazard sat up, eyes wide. “So you know!” he said. Of course. He rose, leaning forward onto his fingertips. “You know, don’t you? You’ve been ‘investigating’ long enough, I would think. You must know. Why else would you be doing this at night. You have to tell me!”
“Sir?” Strife leaned back.
“I have to know,” Lazard said, voice rising, “Tell me! Who’s been screwing on my desk?”
Strife’s bright blue eyes went a little wild. “Sir?”
“Oh, don’t play coy. What else are you doing crawling up an air vent to a secured floor at this hour of the night. You came for the show, didn’t you?” Lazard began to pace. “Maybe I can finally catch them. If I turn off the lights. Dammit, there’s nowhere to hide in here.” He turned to Cloud. “They think I don’t know, you know, whoever it is. But every morning I come in to work and there are ass prints on my desk! I won’t even mention what else.”
“You don’t have to, Sir,” Strife said, trying to loosen his collar.
“I mean, I don’t begrudge people a little relaxation on their time off. Gaia knows, we work hard enough. But on my desk? The disrespect of it. And it’s insanitary. Did you know I lose half an hour every morning wiping everything down with bleach?”
Strife shook his head. “No, Sir, I did not.”
“They’ve got the training rooms for their shenanigans. They’re welcome to the conference tables. I mean, who hasn’t done it there?”
Strife listened, wide-eyed, eyes on the clock. “Sir?”
“The cafeteria’s completely out, of course. We must have some standards, but there are locker rooms and empty hallways, even the elevators, for the truly daring. Just… not my damn desk!”
“They’ll probably be here any second.”
Lazard spun around and looked at the clock. “So this is the magic hour, is it? Hold on a second.” He went to a drawer and reached in for an extra-large can of disinfectant spray. Cloud recognized the brand. Kills 99.9% of germs on contact, cleans as it deodorizes. “Come with me,” he said, gripping Cloud hard on the shoulder. He shoved Cloud into a corner near the door and switched off the light.
They huddled against the wall together, the only sound being that of their breathing. Cloud tried to clear his throat once and earned himself an elbow in the ribs. Then the footsteps came.
The door lock mechanism rattled twice before it slid open, jimmied by a hacked keycard, no doubt. Two bodies intertwined stumbled into the darkness. Lazard’s finger tightened on the nozzle of the can. The door slid shut but the pair made no move to turn on the lights. A slight glow up above told why.
SOLDIERs. Mako-enhanced, night-vision capable and horny as the devil’s own kin. Lazard grated his teeth in the dark. If the couple now frantically ripping at each other’s clothes had half a mind to take a look around, there was no doubt in Lazard’s mind that the game would end sooner than he planned. But from the sound of it there was no danger of that.
The pair stumbled towards the desk. Lazard heard it shift out of place with impact. He stood, slowly and silently, raising the can.
“He didn’t clear his desk this evening.”
Lazard knew that voice.
“Lube or no lube?”
He knew that voice too. It was worse than he’d thought.
“Hold on, this is a chance to find out what he’s working on. Must be something serious if it left him this scattered. Don’t you want to know?”
“What I want is your pants down and you bent over.”
“In a minute, I’m reading this.”
“Can’t it wait? I’ve already got my sword out.”
“I know, I can feel it. Just give me a moment to move these papers, will you? It’s not going to make things easier if we come all over the requisition forms. The glow’s a dead giveaway.”
That was the final straw. Lazard took aim and sprayed. “Stop right there, you filthy reprobates!”
Two voices yelled and the lights went on. Private Strife stood sheepishly by the door, one finger on the switch. Lazard stood in the middle of the room, spray can sputtering.
And leaning against the desk, shielding their eyes from the harsh spray, half-dressed and half mast, were Generals Sephiroth and Genesis, caught red-handed. So to speak. Sephiroth looked away. Genesis grinned wide. “Busted. And outed too, I suppose.”
Lazard snorted. “Everyone already knows, Rhapsodos.” He lowered the empty can. “The only real question is, why are you two fornicating on my desk?” A new thought occurred to him. “It is just you two isnt’ it?” He spun around, staring at the door. “Gaia, is there a whole SOLDIER stream notching their belts for my desk? Isn’t the Turk supply closet good enough anymore?”
“You’re looking a little flustered there, Director,” Genesis said. He hadn’t even bothered to straighten his clothes. Behind him, Sephiroth was working hard at his buckles and fly, looking more than a little put out. He stood and looked anywhere but at Lazard.
“Who’s that?” Sephiroth pointed.
Genesis took note for the first time of the Shinra Infantryman by the door. “Yes, who is that?”
Lazard sighed. “Generals, Private Strife, my assistant on this little stakeout.”
Genesis smirked. “Cute little thing, isn’t he?”
Cloud saluted sharply where he was, sorely wishing he had thought to put his helmet back on. As soon as he left the Director’s office, he was a dead man for sure.
“Now that we have the introductions over with,” Lazard said, smoothing his cravat, “do you gentlemen care to tell me when my desk became a Location?” Genesis looked back that the Director, blinking. “Oh, don’t act like you don’t know. How long do think it took me to find out about the maps and the list. I can’t say I disapprove, entirely, but there must be limits, man!”
Genesis’s expression grew languid. “A little bird once told me you did more about the list than ‘find out’.”
“Don’t even think about blackmail, Gen,” Lazard warned. “The whole thing will come crashing down on us all.”
Genesis crossed his arms, frowning. “That’s true enough, and then what would we do for entertainment around here. What do you think, Seph? Seph?”
“Yes,” Sephiroth said. His eyes had never left Cloud, who was squirming madly inside his shoes.
“What do you think we should do? Lazard doesn’t want us being intimate on his desk anymore, and I’m afraid we’ve already notched all the other Locations.”
Lazard stared. “All of them?”
“All of them.” Genesis sighed. “That’s why we were making some new ones.”
Lazard sighed again and straightened his spectacles. “Generals, it’s not that I object to the game, Goddess knows I don’t. But couldn’t you at least have wiped up after yourselves afterwards? Coming to work in the morning and finding a scrotum print on one’s desk is most disconcerting.”
“I suppose we could have been more considerate,” Genesis allowed, “but Sephiroth’s always so tired when I’m through, all I can think about is getting him tucked in for the night.” In the corner, Cloud’s face went cherry red.
“I leave disposable wipes and cleaning solution in the cupboard right there,” Lazard went on. “You’ve seen me using them. It would have only taken a minute.”
“Oh, were you dropping hints?” Genesis said.
“Yes,” Lazard said. “I wasn’t sure who it was so I was hoping word would spread down the chain of command.”
Genesis shrugged. “We just thought you were being a little OCD.”
“I have to be,” Lazard said. “You’re leaving your spermatozoa all over my work space!”
“We don’t have cooties,” Sephiroth said, eyes still on Cloud. “Why did you get a regular army private to help you out?”
Lazard looked heavenward. “I asked the Planet for whatever help she would provide to solve this mystery, and she dropped this young man practically into my lap. Heaven sent, I don’t doubt.”
Sephiroth kept frowning. “Is this something he’ll need to see a psychiatrist for? I would say he looks shaken.” So many of Sephiroth’s encounters with regular military personnel ended up like that. It kept the company shrinks in business.
“I don’t think so,” Lazard said. “It’s not like this was news.”
Sephiroth raised one silver eyebrow at the boy. “Really.” He straightened up to his full height and stared down. “How did that happen?”
“Well, we can be pretty loud, Seph,” Genesis said. “I imagine he isn’t the first trooper to come across something strange in the night.”
Lazard turned back to Cloud, curious now, though he would not give his accomplice away. Genesis began to move in. “Is that it, Private?” he was saying. “Do you sneak around spying on SOLDIERs in the night? Is that what the army’s into these days?”
Cloud swallowed. He was already up against the wall and had nowhere to run to. “Not the whole army, Sir.”
“How many, then?”
SOLDIERs could hear your heart beating. They could tell when your pulse quickened. It was no good lying. SOLDIER made sure the army knew that. “Just me, Sir, far as I know.”
Genesis smirked. His fingers twitched the way they did when he was aching to preen. “Out with it, then. Where did you find us first?”
“Yes, where did you first get a glimpse of me and everyone’s hero, in flagrate delicto? The storage room? The library? Under the trees in the break area?”
“You may as well tell him,” Sephiroth told Cloud. “He’ll be miserable with curiousity if you don’t.”
Cloud swallowed. “Actually I never caught you two at all. Sirs.” He took a breath. “I just overheard that… uh, things were happening in the Director’s office and thought I’d come take a look.” He was starting to look rather snowy white.
Genesis’s smirk disappeared. “Overheard? Overheard from who?”
“Not that many people know we’ve been breaking in,” Sephiroth said. He caught a glimpse of Lazard’s face. “Of course it was us, Director. Who else has high enough keycards to do the job?”
“I’m so relieved,” Lazard said, eyeing what he hoped was only a very large thumbprint on his shiny desk.
Genesis crossed his arms. “Who would be talking about it though? Angeal’s almost the only one who knows and he’s not given to chattering.”
“Actually, Sir, it was First Class Hewley,” Cloud said, deciding that if he were to die, it would be best to go with a clean conscience. “He was talking to a younger SOLDIER. With dark hair, kind of spikey like mine.”
Genesis’s eyes narrowed. “The puppy,” he said with some venom. “Angeal coddles that boy. Teaching him, my foot. Teaching him too much, discussing such matters where any little trooper could hear.”
“They were only discussing where to try next, Sir,” Cloud said, sensing that he had caused more trouble. All three men turned their eyes to him.
“Yes, Sir. They were in the conference room, Sir.”
“Table’s sturdy there,” Lazard allowed. “Doesn’t hold prints too easily.”
“I knew it,” Genesis said. “I knew it. Didn’t I say so, Seph? Angeal must have been bending that boy over everything within reach from the start.”
“Fair is attractive,” Sephiroth said, eyes still on Cloud.
“And more importantly, legal,” Lazard said, whipping out his paper towels and bleach. “Gentlemen, I will be upgrading my door lock in the morning, and if you should by chance manage to circumvent them again, clean up after yourselves.”
Genesis sighed. “It’s no fun if you’re okay with it.”
“But where do we go now?” Sephiroth said. “There’s nowhere new left anymore.”
“We’ll find someplace,” Genesis said, watching Lazard scrub at the desk. It really was a shame. Desks were such convenient objects, large enough, usually sturdy, and more comfortable than up against the elevators, or on top of the specimen tanks in the lab. Where could they go that offered them both the thrill of the forbidden and the comfort of a large, sturdy, very personal desk. Genesis began to smile. “I just had an idea,” he said, grabbing Sephiroth’s hand.
“Where are we going?” Sephiroth said, letting himself be led up.
“All the way up, my pet. All the way up.”
The door slid shut behind them and Cloud finally allowed himself to breathe. Lazard had stopped scrubbing at mystery prints and was standing ramrod straight. “Sir,” Cloud said, “if you don’t mind me asking, what kind of punishment will I get for this?”
Lazard turned. “Punishment? Oh, don’t worry about it.” He smiled. “You helped me put a stop this nonsense, didn’t you? Consider it a favor done, and not a word to anyone, and we can just let this little incident go.”
A weight lifted from Cloud’s chest. “Then I’m free to go, Sir?”
Lazard appeared to think it over, eyes to the ceiling. “Not just yet,” he said. “First, show me how you climb up the vents.”