You know those…trading cards they had? They would have come out about 20 years ago now. They were all the heros, of course. And then, places, cities, environments, weapons. It was all a game, just a child’s game. You used the environments, deserts, forests and weapons to empower your hero and army members – or you could just trade them.
I had the perfect pack. I hope my mum’s still got them. They would have been sent home with my personal affects after I…died. She better bloody have them. Oh god if she’s thrown them out – they’re worth a fucking mint. I miss her letters now, though. The knitted socks she used to send me. When was I ever going to wear knitted socks? To keep you warm, she used to say. To keep you warm.
So, I had this deck of cards. I know now that they were just military propaganda, and they did their job. I had my favourite cards, and was inspired by them. I enlisted when I was 16, I skipped school, skipped one of my exams and lied about my age. I thought I was clever, covered my tracks. It didn’t actually matter, they wanted young, eager kids to train up. Didn’t matter if they weren’t legally adults. I had a dream of what it was like. And for a little while it was like that, the training was good, I was healthy, I was motivated. Long gone were the days of feeling the hot sun on the back of my neck and helping my mum with the house and clearing vines out of the windows. I was at the top of my game.
But then…it’s like when your throat fills with smoke. One minute, it’s a little tingle, a funny little feeling running up your spine and then your eyes are watering and you can’t explain what’s wrong to everyone else because you’re already choking. I went off the record for a little while, did some freelance work. I still wanted to be a hero, but I needed someone. I needed someone to lead, someone to stand next to me and keep me in check.
I needed Cloud, as it turns out.
I still have the habits, how I hold my sword, how I dress, comb my hair, shave. But that’s just from all the basic training. I could never be Cloud never be the hero ShinRa wanted, but maybe he’s what I need.
I don’t know if I can be what he needs, but I’m certain of one thing – the kid needs a stiff fucking drink.
Zack knocks on the door, but doesn’t bother waiting for permission before he enters Cloud’s room. He’s not sure if he should be relaxed, flirty, his tone full of cheeky banter. Or if he should be the trained soldier he know he can be. His tall frame fills the doorway, a hand slides up the rest of the doorway to the corner.
“Midgar or bust?”