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Don't Nobody Know (But God)

FF7 || PG-13: complete AU || hinted Cloud/Zack, Sephiroth || 736 words
But none of ‘em see the angel by the door ‘cept the man that saw ‘imself reflected in a corpse’s eyes, an’ if that corpse were once the person Strife loved most in all this ugly world, well, ain’t no-one gonna say life’s anywhere near kind.
  • for the prompt "music" from 100_situations



The bar’s dim, worn smooth as ol’ leather an’ tired souls, hot as the Devil’s breath. Agains’ the wall opposite the drink-sticky counter is Cloud Strife, threadbare jeans and worn ol’ boots and eyes like a huntin’ dog at the end o’ his years. Sits in a wood chair, one o’ them hand-made affairs nailed from branches wit’ a seat woven by some poor bird wit' nothin’ better to do, and runs ‘is fingers o’er the strings of a gee-tar sweet as anythin’. The notes trip their way out like sweet-voiced gurls at one o’ them fancy dances, dun up all priddy and makin’ the boys that much stupider, Strife’s fingers the sha-pear-owns keepin’ them young ladies in line and outta trouble.

There’s no light outside save the sharp grin of the moon, liddle sound ‘cept for what comes outta the bar. Low voices, clinkin’ glasses, and the music bein’ coaxed from Strife’s gee-tar. Ain’t too many folks in there, just a few what’s down on their luck: the ship’s cap’n cussin’ out the company what fucked ‘is career right over, the man in the corner wit’ ‘is broodin’ silence and red-shinin’ eyes, the liddle white gurl tha’s the apple of ‘er black adopted daddy’s eye. The barkeep’s a young lady wit’ a broken heart, keeps castin’ bittersweet looks at Strife who don’t notice nothin’ but the dance o’ the strings unner ‘is fingers. There’s an angel by the door and don’t no-one see ‘im.

Though he’s one o’ them country folk way back in the mountains Strife don’t ever sing ‘cept what he pulls outta the strings o’ thin twisted metal. Been comin’ here since the guv’ment decided to bring our good boys back from the war, brought ‘em back with bombs still ringin’ in their ears and dead man’s blud on their hands. The guv’ment said it were a war of democracy but unda’neath all that slickness they was sayin’, Gotta kill them slant-eyed bastards. They sent out our boys, not even men, told ‘em the only way were the ShinRa way and ain’t no two ways ‘bout it, them slant-eyed Wutaian bastards were ass-backwards. Boys like Strife were sent to kill savages and ended up killin’ other boys jes’ like themselves, saw ‘emselves reflected in ded glazed eyes and it weren’t like no fun-house mirrors.

Misery loves comp’ny, every sad fucker knows that. Got a ship’s cap’n with no ship, a man what left ‘is innocence in a coffin, a mismatched daddy and his liddle gurl who know that the color of a man’s skin don’t mean shit when you ain’t got the luxury of delusion. Got a barkeep what loved the Cloud that got sent off and then din’t recognize the Strife that came back. But none of ‘em see the angel by the door ‘cept the man that saw ‘imself reflected in a corpse’s eyes, an’ if that corpse were once the person Strife loved most in all this ugly world, well, ain’t no-one gonna say life’s anywhere near kind.

“Been waitin’ for ya,” sez Strife, fingers never stoppin’ their dancin’. The angel’s the only bright thing in the bar, got hair silver as them freshly minted bullets what tore Zack Fair all to pieces and stole the screams right outta Strife’s throat.

“It’s been a year,” sez the angel, but ‘is words're as invisible to the rest o’ the bar as the war, the kinda shit what can’t be imagined ‘til it’s shoved in yer ugly mug, ‘til ya see it down the barrel of a gun or smell it in the piss o’ terror.

“Maybe,” sez Strife, “but I’ve been chasin’ ya what seems all over the world.”

“He would have wanted you to live for him.”

Strife don’ say nothin’. Lets ‘is fingers sob and wail over the barbed-wire strings what ‘e ain’t been able to say ‘imself since blud n’ grief welded ‘is throat shut. Then ‘e sez, “S’pposin’ ya here fer my soul.”

“I thought you left that behind a year ago.”

Strife’s mouth twists into a skull’s smile, sez, “Aye, s’pposin’ yer right.”

The man’s standin’ up, tossin’ the gee-tar strap o’er a shoulder like it were a big ol’ broadsword and followin’ the angel outta the bar. Life ain’t kind, there ain’t nothin’ but the sharp grin of the moon an’ the silence of lost love. Strife don’ hesitate to shut the door.

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