szzzt: Three gold rings and a ruby glint in Zack Fair's ear as he lays on deck and smiles at the midshipman at the masthead. (shipverse)
[personal profile] szzzt
Title: Down to your soul
Author: szzzt
Rating: Worksafe
Warnings: Weird. Also, first posted fic.
Song/Theme: Right Away, Great Captain! = "Down To Your Soul"
Summary: If Cloud gained others in his head, so did Zack.
A/N: Part of a story set in a 'verse that's a pastiche of FF7 and Patrick O'Brian, which will be novel-length if I ever write it all. The line that poked me was "I know you don't know what I'm capable of," but I'll have to leave that for next time. Written for [community profile] oddible, yay impetus to post!





God, the sloop was beautiful, reaching and aching and gorgeous, her pennant billowing out a string of lazy arcs and her copper bottom dripping and shining in the sunrise. He didn't know the man he had to call captain now, but maybe following someone wouldn't be too bad, if he could do it on her.

He knew he and his captain ought to be getting closer, hoisted up her naked anchor-chain, but the trouble was she seemed to be getting farther away. No. He wanted to touch her deck and see her canvas spread, but she was tiny now and he knew he wouldn't make it. He reached out, still trying, but a swell rose up and covered him in a thousand implacable tons of green, and the impossible bright dream was gone.

He floated down and down. It was a peaceful way to drown, by slow degrees stiller and colder and darker green. His arms were above his head, but he was far too deep to reach the surface again. It was a little relaxing, knowing that. Maybe he'd find Cloud down here where all the drowned men went, or someone else he knew. So then if he stopped fighting, it would be okay.

But the deeper he went, the louder the silence got. Anything human would be crushed by the pressure now, and there was nothing here. He was alone in all the bottomless fathoms and unthinkable dark, and he began to worry that he'd come to the afterlife he deserved after all.

When he started hearing voices he was glad, even if it was just his mind playing tricks on him.

At first they were utterly mundane -- "Yes, sir." "Make it noon." "More tea?" -- but then there was the scrape of a chair, hands clasped loosely on parchment, and damn if he didn't remember this, even if there was no way he could remember watching Cloud sit in front of this desk.

Part of him noticed approvingly the way the young man sat rigidly straight, ruthlessly controlling his nervousness, and removed his hat with sincere formality. No hint of toadying or crass familiarity; this one would make a fine officer, if he survived.

"Have you transferred your effects yet?"

"No, sir," said the midshipman uncomfortably.

"I regret it extremely, Mr. Strife." The midshipman said nothing, only his knuckles whitening on the arm of his chair. "The offer to serve under me, of course, remains open; and if I can be of service to you, do not hesitate to mention it."

He saw a dozen thoughts flicker through the young man's eyes, so transparent, like his friend's. The silence stretched, Strife no doubt thinking of his long-absent commission, and pressure brought to bear in the right places; Sephiroth saw the exact moment he decided against it.

"No, sir, thank you, sir."

The expected reply, of course. Strife would hardly do otherwise, but the fading scene still left a sense of regret behind on the blackness, and damn, maybe death was like going crazy, if you couldn't remember what you remembered any more.

But it had been sweet to see Cloud clear-eyed and whole again, even in a hallucination of someone else's memory.

The thought warmed him, though he was long past telling up from down and it was darker and colder now than anyone ought to be able to go. Maybe he was on the right track. Maybe this would lead him on.

More voices would be nice, but there was a rushing in his ears now that would have drowned them out, and something immeasurably great and dark and soft above his head; he wasn't entirely surprised when he looked down past his feet and saw the stars.

These heights were someone's purgatory, so he'd be back, but he couldn't stay. He laughed and stretched his hands to the earth, letting it pull him home.

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szzzt: Sepia-toned and androgynous, an angel crouches, its braid and long earring swaying. (Default)
szzzt

January 2012

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