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Dreams and Hopes, a FFVII Trioverse fic

Title: Dreams and Hopes
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core
'Verse: Trioverse
Pairing(s): Zack/Reno/Cloud
Rating: NC-17 overall, PG-13 this part
Spoilers: None really, moving into AU at this point.
Warnings: None. Just some fluff, angst, and three man love.
Disclaimer: All FFVII characters created and owned by Square Enix, not me.
Summary: Cloud receives a letter that will either make or break him.

Previous Parts
Another Lesson in Love and Trust
Double Jeopardy
News to Celebrate
The Next Level

Cloud lingered in the dorm just like the rest of the SOLDIER hopefuls. Every day was begun with painful anticipation as they all waited for their letters. Their ambitions and dreams all hinged on a single sheet of paper to be delivered with the regular mail. Cloud had wondered if the letters would be brought around by courier, but one of his roommates had told him that wasn't the case. It was a bit of a letdown to realize that his most hoped for dream was just a bit of common place communication within the program, lumped in with bills, junk advertisements and credit card offers.

Still, Cloud was grateful that the information wasn't posted on a public message board or announced over a loud speaker. His struggling self esteem would crumple into dust if his feared failure was broadcast before his peers, the SOLDIERS he so wanted to join and his lovers that he desperately wanted to see him as an equal. No matter what Zack and Reno said and did to show him that he already was, it was Cloud who needed to be convinced.

Each day that passed brought with it the disappointment that no letter had come and also shaking relief that he hadn't been rejected yet. Cloud's mind was so preoccupied with the agony of waiting that he was barely managing a few hours of sleep at night. Even on the nights when he was able to stay with his lovers, sated and sleepy embraced between them, Cloud would be jarred awake from a recurring dream that they were walking away from him as he stood with tears on his face and a damning piece of paper crushed in his hand.

Cloud sat on his bunk to pick up an already perfectly polished boot to buff. Garrett noticed him and threw his cards down on the table where an impromptu poker game had relieved him of a few gil. Sauntering over, the darkly tanned native of Costa del Sol joined Cloud on the bunk and lightly punched him in the arm.

"You're going to wear a hole right through the leather, Cloud. Give it a rest, man."

Cloud sighed as he placed the boot next to its mate and twisted the polishing cloth between his fingers. Garrett smiled in understanding.

"It's Saturday. The mail always runs late on Saturdays."

"Yeah," Cloud mumbled.

"Me and some of the other guys are going out tonight. Wanna come with?"

Cloud gave his friend a grateful smile but shook his head. "No, but thanks."

"Look," Garrett said, "Sitting here moping around isn't going to make it come any faster. You act like you've already been rejected and are just waiting to be told to pack up and leave. It wouldn't be the end of the world if you don't get in this year. You can always try again." He ruffled Cloud's hair to make it stand up even more wildly. "I don't know what you're so worried for anyway. You're one of the best in our group."

"But, the test injection..."

"You weren't the only one who got completely wired on the stuff," Garrett interrupted. "Almost all of us reacted strongly to it." He snorted out a laugh. "Hell, *I* thought they had slipped up and given me a hallucinogenic by mistake. I told you I thought I could see words floating in the air whenever anyone spoke. Wild as hell to have all your senses jacked up like that, man. Makes me wonder how the 1st Classes deal with it."

Cloud smiled hesitantly. "Zack doesn't act like it bothers him, but he's always upbeat and happy."

"Speaking of Zack," Garrett grinned wickedly and lowered his voice to a suggestive whisper. "So, it's *that* way between you, is it?"

A deep pink blush heated Cloud's cheeks and left him inwardly cursing his fair skin.

Garrett chuckled. "Hey, don't sweat it. There's nothing wrong with it. I thought it was kinda cute how he rushed down to bundle you away. I'm just disappointed to know that you're unavailable. At least now I know why you've always ignored my charm."

Cloud blushed even harder and swatted at Garrett with the polishing cloth. He couldn't tell if his friend was teasing or not about being interested in him. Being so enamored of his lovers, he had never really noticed or cared if anyone else had ever looked at him that way. He probably wouldn't have believed it anyway. Cloud was still awed, humbled and heartbreakingly grateful that Zack and Reno wanted him.

Garrett grabbed the end of the cloth and it turned into a tug of war that dissolved into a laughing wrestling match on the floor. The rest of the guys abandoned their poker game to take sides and place bets on whom would win. The cheering and good natured insults nearly drowned out the sound of the knock on the door and the mail carrier opening it to shake his head and brandish a bundle of letters.

"Bunch of damn, rowdy kids," he muttered then raised his voice to a shout. "Mail Call!"

Cloud turned sheet white and went completely still. He couldn't move as each of his roommates eagerly accepted notes from home, letters from sweethearts, magazines and packets. Cloud rarely got any mail himself so he started to tremble when his name was called. Garrett poked him in the back to nudge him forward to accept the creamy ivory envelope with his name on the front. Cloud took it and sat down heavily on his bunk, holding it as he gathered the courage to open it.

All around him was the sound of ripping paper and mostly joyful whoops as candidates yelled and celebrated their acceptance. Cloud saw one boy, Spence, quietly replace his letter in the envelope to crumple it as he silently left the room.

"Damn. He was really hoping. It must have been because of his really bad reaction to the mako. I heard he had to be restrained and sedated until it wore off because he couldn't take it. He started screaming and crying and trying to scratch his eyes out." Garrett sat beside Cloud again. "You going to open it or what?"

"I want to, and I don't," Cloud admitted. He stared at the envelope as if he could mentally make the contents be what he hoped for.

"I can open it if you want," Garrett said gently and reached for the letter.

"No!" Cloud clutched the letter tightly to his chest. "I...I think. Sorry. I know you're trying to help, but...I think I need to go see Zack."

Garrett clapped him on the shoulder as their fellows celebrated around them. "Go on, then. Don't keep us in suspense too long. I'll bet you're worrying over nothing. You do what you need to, but you better come back and celebrate with us tonight."

"Thanks." Cloud stood and shakily walked to the door. He paused and turned back to Garrett. "Oh! You were accepted, right?" Garrett grinned at him hugely. "Congratulations."

"Go on." Garrett made shooing motions with his hands. "Quit stalling. Go see Zack then you can come back and party with us."

Cloud managed a smile and dashed out the door. Behind the building he could hear gasping, broken sobs and knew it was Spence. His heart stuttered and he nearly stumbled. Was that going to be him, too? Get to Zack, his heart shouted, and he ran faster. Cloud tore through the compound, completely heedless of a few 1st Classes who recognized him and leaned in to whisper to each other and smile. Zack was popular among his peers and, although there was a need for discretion until Cloud was safely within SOLDIER, his friends knew about Cloud. They tended to think it was endearingly adorable the way the boy tagged after Zack with obvious awe and adoration. In a couple it even sparked a little envy and longing. Cloud was oblivious to any of that.

Cloud slid to a stop before the entry to Zack's room, his pulse pounding and his breath ragged. For half of a minute he hovered in an agony of indecision then knocked furiously on the door. Zack opened it, still rubbing sleep from his eyes and clad only in boxers.

"Yeah, yeah. Where's the fire?"

Cloud stood trembling with the envelope clutched in his fist. Zack immediately pulled him inside, shut the door and into his arms.

"It's okay, Spike. We can fix this. It's probably a mistake. Don't look like that! I'll...Cloud?" Zack had managed to pry the envelope from the blond's hand and noticed that it hadn't even been opened yet. He gently stroked a pale cheek, and Cloud finally found his voice.

"I...couldn't, Zack, not in front of everyone." His eyes begged for understanding.

"Not a problem, baby." Zack took a deep breath, guided Cloud to sit on a decrepit looking couch and took the letter and his phone into the bedroom. He came back a few minutes later. "Reno will be here in about an hour. We'll open it together. That's okay, right?"

"Yes." Cloud sagged in relief. His lovers understood and weren't condemning him for being such a wuss.

Zack spent much of the hour trying to distract Cloud with conversation. It didn't work very well. Cloud's wide, fearful eyes were drawn time and again to the envelope lying on the table. He eyed it like it could come alive at any moment and spew its contents at him. Cloud's fear was powerful enough to stir a few traitorous doubts in Zack's mind. What if the kid hadn't been accepted? He knew it would crush the hopes and dreams of his younger lover. Zack stomped down on those negative thoughts and cupped Cloud's face to force eye contact.

"Cloud, look at me," Zack ordered softly. "No matter what, I will always love you and be proud of you. Reno, too. Nothing could ever change that."

Softly stroking his thumb over Cloud's bottom lip, Zack finally had his complete attention. He leaned closer and felt a thrill of satisfaction when Cloud immediately parted his lips on a tremulous sigh. It was Cloud's initial response to each and every kiss and it always had the power to bring to the fore every protective instinct Zack possessed. He had been Cloud's first lover, the one to introduce him to the joys of the body beyond the pleasure of his own hand, and he was determined that Cloud's continually innocent, wholehearted reactions would never be spoiled. Perhaps that would seem odd to an outsider, considering there were three of them involved, but Reno was part of their whole.

Zack dipped his tongue between those pliant lips and explored gently, drinking in the soft moan of desire. He kissed until he could feel some of the nervous tension drain from Cloud's body and the blond looped his arms around Zack's neck to keep him close. Zack left Cloud's tempting mouth to better hear the gasps and sighs as he trailed a line of kisses along Cloud's jaw line and down the bared arch of his neck. Biting gently into it got him a surprised shout of pleasure that receded into a muffled moan accompanied by clutching fingers and the unconscious rocking of hips. Zack was about to start peeling Cloud out of his clothes when the quiet sound of his door opening invaded his senses.

Reno slipped inside and leaned against the closed door. He had a wide, leering grin on his face and motioned with his hand for Zack to continue, but it was too late. Zack's moment of distraction had allowed Cloud to once again remember what he was there for in the first place. Cloud drew back with a hitched breath and all the blood drained from his face when he saw his other lover. The moment was at hand and couldn't be put off any longer.

Better to get it over with, Reno thought, like ripping off a Band-Aid, and scooped up the envelope.

"You ready, baby?" he asked and ran his index finger under the flap.

Cloud nodded shakily and curled into Zack like he was trying to climb into his skin. Reno pulled the letter from the envelope and read it once, twice, a slightly unhappy frown pulling at his lips. His silence unnerved Cloud completely and the blond's trembling intensified into quaking. Zack held on tightly and closed his eyes as little, broken whimpers of hurt quivered in Cloud's throat. The sound pulled Reno from whatever he was thinking and he shook himself before moving to kneel before his lovers.

"Cloud," Reno murmured and waited until his lover slowly met his gaze. He forced a smile to curve his mouth. "Congratulations, baby. You made it."

Cloud stopped breathing, literally, and begged with huge eyes for reassurance that Reno wasn't joking. Reno took one tightly clenched fist and opened it to push the letter into his hand. Cloud sucked in a breath when he started to feel dizzy and hesitantly read the letter for himself aloud.

"Cadet Applicant Cloud Strife, we are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the SOLDIER program. Be prepared to report to Commander Hewley Monday morning at 0700...Zack?" Cloud trailed off and stood on rubbery legs to face his two lovers. Reno had moved to sit next to Zack and was pressed against him. "I...made it? I made it!" he shouted and laughed out loud.

"We knew you would," Zack said, his eyes warm with love and pride.

"Yeah," Reno echoed, a little more subdued but no less loving. "They'd be stupid to turn down someone like you."

Cloud launched himself at them and rained kisses on their faces between bouts of happy laughter. His fear and hesitancy from before was gone, eradicated completely, and his shaky confidence restored by the support of his lovers and a single sheet of paper. He never noticed the increased intensity of Reno's embrace or the way Zack closed his eyes as if in prayer. Cloud bounced back to his feet, all but dancing in excitement, and his eyes sparkled.

"Garrett. The guys. I gotta tell them. We're going to party!" The words tumbled from his lips.

A real smile finally curved Reno's lips and he waved at Cloud. "Go on, baby. Celebrate with your friends. We'll be here when you get back," he said indulgently while Zack grinned and nodded.

Cloud leapt on them for one last breath stealing kiss and hug and raced out the door with the letter clutched in his fist. When the door slammed Reno fell against Zack. Strong arms came around him to hug him close.

"It'll be okay," Zack mumbled into the top of his head, warm breath ruffling red hair. "Hojo or not, he'll be safer within SOLDIER, and we can protect him better. Besides, look how happy he is. His dream came true. We can't take that away from him."

Reno sighed. "I know, I know. You're right. It's what he's wanted most." He let his eyes roam over his barely clad lover and a sly grin crossed his face. "Kid's gonna be gone a couple hours, at least, We might even have to deal later with his first hangover. That will take some strength and patience so we should probably rest up while we can. When he starts getting the enhancements a lot of things will change. You know I don't like change much. I think I need some comforting myself."

Zack gamely kept a straight face and merely arched a fine, black eyebrow. "And just what do I have to do to comfort you?"

Reno slid his hand up Zack's thigh until his fingertips slid beneath the leg of the loose boxers. His grin grew sharp and smug when Zack's breath hitched and his hands tightened on his lover.

"I'm sure you'll think of something."

Reno snickered when Zack slung him over his shoulder to run to the bedroom. Even the smack to the ass he got for his teasing only made him squirm with lust. A couple of hours underneath and overtop Zack was just what he needed to help dispel his worry about Cloud. He was bound by his word, not to mention the threat of death, to keep Turk business within the ranks, but he had heard some disturbing things recently. He'd have to tell Zack if they were to adequately protect Cloud and keep their relationship safely intact. Cool air on his skin when his pants were yanked off scattered Reno's thoughts again.

He willingly fell under the spell of Zack's glowing eyes and the feel of sword callused palms on his skin. Later. They'd talk later before Cloud came back.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 5th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
This one had me on edge for Cloud's sake. Talk about tension. I love how sneaky/horny Reno is but that glimmer of nasty things underfoot has me concerned.
Jun. 6th, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
Yeah, poor Cloud. I could see him so easily working himself into a froth over something so little as a piece of paper. Lucky for him I decided to twist canon to suit my purposes.

Sneaky/horny Reno is love! Everyone should have one. He certainly thinks so.

Ah yes, the glimmer of things to come. Where there be fluff, there be angst in Lilyverse.
Jun. 6th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
You're evil for keeping us on edge about Cloudy...I admit, several times I almost zoomed ahead to check. But yes, deep exhale, he made it! Aided in his waiting by Zack and his excellent distraction methods, no doubt. :)

So cute, as always.
Jun. 7th, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC)
Sometimes it's fun to tell canon to go screw itself.

Thanks! I just read ch. 23 of "Madness of Angels". I'm...I'm...going to curl up in a ball somewhere until the next update. Poor, poor Zack. I'll have to make sure he gets some extra lovings on my end until the storm passes.

But, then again, I may not have to since the_staci is about to give him more than he can handle easily. ~_^
Jun. 8th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
Hee, isn't it exciting? I can barely keep in my seat. FOURSOME! I've got a tub of ice ready and waiting. :)
Jun. 6th, 2008 04:47 am (UTC)
awww, I love how you write these three guys together. I just recently found your series and I am in love with this trio now. Great job on their personalities and voices, I think you got them dead on. I love how Zack is so supportive and how Reno is willing to do anything to keep the three of them together. Cloud is just plain adorable. Damn, I love this. lol. Keep up the great work! And yes, great balance of fluff and angst.
Jun. 7th, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm having so much fun writing them. The next Trioverse installment is a little edgier, and Reno's protective mode jumps into high gear.
Jun. 6th, 2008 11:26 am (UTC)
The tension is rising, ladies and gentlemen, the tension is rising.

Good lord, you had my pulse rising in anticipation for Cloud's letter, and then with that little bit at the end about Reno hearing disturbing things. Tension. I've said it before and I'll say it again.

And *wibble*...Spence. Good lordy, it made my eyes water. Poor Spence, I felt so sorry for him, he was so heartbroken! Please tell me we get a little bit comfort for him, even if it's just one sentence!

Loved it, can't wait for more.
Jun. 7th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
Spence? I don't think you want to know. Can't say more than that.

Thanks! And yes, tension is rising and the storm continues to brew.
Jun. 6th, 2008 12:49 pm (UTC)
This just made my morning.

I am so glad that you decided to twist canon. Even with the underlying foreshadowing - it's good to see the boys happy. And oh, I think you wrote Cloud so perfectly here. I can so see him unable to even sleep waiting for his letter. And of course loved the adorable obliviousness of Cloud's. Zack and Reno were perfect as well. I've always enjoyed the way you wrote Reno/Cloud and it just got better when you threw Zack into the mix.

I really enjoyed the way you wrote Reno and Zack's reactions to Cloud's acceptence. And not sure if you meant it to come across this way but sometimes it seems Zack's assurances are more for him then Reno. And really liked the way you showed just how far Reno would go to protect his precious people, you got that across with just a few well-placed words.

Anyway, great job as usual and can't wait to read more.
Jun. 7th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Ever since seeing Crisis Core trailers I've been hooked on Zack. Then I found out Reno was in there, too, and had some brief interaction with Zack. Throw in pretty, pretty very young Cloud and my mind went boom.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 11th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
It's those big, blue eyes and pretty, soft lips. It would be like kicking a puppy.
Jun. 8th, 2008 09:38 pm (UTC)
i love reno in this one.... wait! ive always loved reno in your writing! when will you write more? i want to know...
Aug. 11th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading! Reno is just so much fun to write. And the next part is up. Only a two month delay. I feel so lazy.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 11th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
Nobody's as worried as Reno. Messing around with the people he loves is just plain suicide.
Aug. 11th, 2008 06:54 am (UTC)
which should i write? reno/cloud cloud/zack zack/reno reno/tifa or tifa/cloud?
Aug. 12th, 2008 09:15 am (UTC)
Hehe, write them *all*. FFVII is so addictive with so many possibilities.
Aug. 12th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
that doesnt help :):) i made reno and cloud sims!!! YES!
Dec. 21st, 2008 06:05 am (UTC)
I think Cloud won this chapter for my splees not that I am keeping count, I love Zack too, I just don't know him as well as the other two... need to play crisis core dangit.... I know the poor guys worry about being accepted into something and having to wait for it by regular mail AUGH! evillll... I bet they do it just to see how the guys can take the pressure
Dec. 21st, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
Cruel, too, that letters are given to the group en masse. Eventually everyone knows everyone else's fate.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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