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Final Fantasy VII, Cloud Strife: A Walk [Jul. 24th, 2007|10:36 pm]


Title: A Walk
Theme: #12 Sunset
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Character: Cloud Strife
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 584
Summary: "How do we feel today?"
A/N: Thanks to kimouski for looking this through.

Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII isn't mine and the story isn't written for profit.

"How do we feel today?"

Hojo has the sweetest smile Cloud has ever seen. It's a trail of honey, sticky and sickening, complete with smears of yellow on otherwise clean and healthy teeth. He's not sure if he remembers what honey tastes like, but he remembers that it stained.

His jailor is made of honey and stains and he can't stop feeling sick.

"Let's go outside," Hojo says—again, without waiting for a reply . Cloud has been strapped in a wheelchair for hours, waiting, body aching from the bindings and a lack of movement. A sharp beam of light has been in his eye almost the whole time, dipping lower, dimming, with each passing second. The sun is setting—it's going to be dark soon—and while he doesn't really want to go outside, Cloud gives Hojo a tired nod, and the chair lurches forward.

His life is an overlap of dream and reality now; he's often uncertain of whether his days are real or not. But he knows the pattern—the dull wince of the wheels as Hojo leads him down the corridors, the first sight of the mansion doors waiting to creak open, the sudden rush of air and light to his face after long darkness.

Cloud always ignores the dread that builds up until his eyes adjust to the light and to the town around him. So far, all he has seen is the skeleton of it, bones grey with ashes and years. Today, in the distance, he recognizes the shape of his home.

Unspoken emotion almost numbs him to everything except Hojo's spidery fingers clasping his shoulders. "If you ask me, they have done a most fantastic job." The fingers tighten into vices before letting go. "Shall we look around?"

The chair moves forward with unnerving lack of effort, the roll of it so smooth that Cloud feels like he's floating. But this isn't his home he's seeing.

"I believe that's where you lived." The scratch of the gravel is quiet. Hojo's voice echoes, like the cheerful ring of a tourist guide. "Unfortunately it's incomplete from the inside, so we can't go in yet. I'm certain you look forward to that."

The air is humid in a way that makes it feel heavy, the mosquitoes shuddering through the air like they're drunk. Cloud doesn't bat an eye when one lands on his nose, touch of its feet light as dust. He knows how dust feels like; it tends to fall on his face from the laboratory ceiling.

"That well, however, is a disappointment," Hojo cuts through his concentration, leaning over to him with a smile to ensure his attention. "Or what do you think?"

Cloud looks and knows that it's just a dream.

They stare at the well in silence for a while, the night deepening around them. Cloud watches as something near the well, a shapeless shadow, staggers and moans the wail that has become familiar to him during his imprisonment—the wail Hojo still hasn't drawn out of him. This is a dream, but he's not going to let Hojo succeed.

They remain quiet when Hojo turns the chair around and rolls him back to the mansion, the sound of gravel louder now. Somewhere in the reality, an assistant is probably moving things around.

Hojo can try to deceive him with a smile and a well that is exactly like a memory, but Cloud isn't buying it. This is a dream; he's only sleeping. There's no reason for his chest to howl.

From: kimouski
2007-08-07 10:15 pm (UTC)
Despite the lack of gore and monsters, I think this is very creepy. I mean, it's Hojo! The man wears creepy like it's a cologne. His smile and his casual way with Cloud is just downright unsettling. And the way poor Cloud just accepts it is so helplessly disturbing. I think the worst part is the shape that staggers away from the well. Just... bad business.
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[User Picture]From: bofoddity
2007-08-08 01:34 pm (UTC)
A lot of people prefer to represent Hojo as this cackling maniac.. well, he was that in the original game, but I personally find it creepier if he acts normal-like or even nice, and I tried to use it here. And in his state poor Cloud can't even fight him, so acceptance is pretty much the only choice he has. It makes me happy to hear that the creep factor is there, it's really hard to judge that sort of things yourself.
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[User Picture]From: bofoddity
2007-08-26 12:32 pm (UTC)
If I think about Hojo/Cloud-interaction in the game, Hojo's "Want to be my guinea pig?" line is always the first thing to come to my mind, adn I think that sums up what those two were about: Taunting and toying. (Or maybe what Hojo was about when it came to Cloud, but anyway!) And a wheelchair ride around Nibelheim is all about blurring the lines between reality and illusion even more.

There's no way that anybody would ever have liked Cloud if he really was as weak and whiny as fandom claims, so the wangst writers it's all about corrupting all the good things away tom the character. But the idea of scared little Cloud weeping in the lab just doesn't do it for me, because he doesn't just bend over, damn it. I think it was only when the physical things became too much for him when he finally stopped fighting: because he wasn't able to.

In any case, I'm glad to hear that this ficlet worked for you! I wasn't sure if pieces clicked together myself, so it's nice to get a confirmation from a very trust-worthy source.
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[User Picture]From: bofoddity
2009-08-20 07:56 pm (UTC)
That cold, desperate game of cat and mouse is even scarier when it's all masked in smiles and shiny colors.

That's a great way to put it. The things that slip under your radar tend to be the ones most dangerous to you.
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