Visions of Sugarplums

Wow, I made it all the way to installment three without even a hint of sex! Unfortunately for all the hentai, there's still no sex. If you don't like male/male romance, fluff, or sap, just move on. (Please don't hurt me oh mighty Squaresoft....I'm only borrowing your game Final Fantasy 7 and it's lovely bishonen for a little while. Oh, or Donna Karen, I like your perfume, really I do.)

Cloud leaned back against his chair with a sigh of relief. It had been a long time since he was so glad to simply sit. Keeping one eye on all their bags, and another on his lover, Cloud leaned on the table and tried to think of the perfect gift for his Sephy. This would be his first Christmas and he wanted something spectacular. The only problem was the man seemed to have everything he wanted. *So what do I get him?*

Sephiroth weaved his way back to the table carrying a small tray. He set the food on the table and dropped the tray onto a growing stack near the trashcans. "I still say you should have let me spray that perfume lady back."

The blonde shook his head. "Sephy, it's her job. I mean, it's not as if it won't wash off."

Sephiroth sniffed at his sweater, and wrinkled his nose. "Perhaps, but DKNY just isn't me. I prefer earthy dragon's blood."

Cloud smiled and reached for a spoon and his share of the food.

I don't know how you can eat that."

Cloud grinned "It tastes good."

Sephiroth shook his head and leaned over his salad, poking at the slightly limp lettuce. "It certainly doesn't look it."

Cloud laughed at that and began wolfing down the chili he'd requested. "Mmm, this is really good. Try some!"

Sephiroth sighed and opened his mouth to accept the spoonful Cloud was holding out for him. Taking a moment to gauge the flavor, he smiled. "You're's really quite good considering the location."

Cloud nodded in agreement and quickly polished off the remainder, before reaching for his milkshake.

Sephiroth continued to poke through his salad, setting aside the fresher bits as he watched his lover happily slurp down the thick peach flavored concoction. "Tell me again why you insist on putting me in this sweater because it's too cold out, but then proceed to drink a milkshake."

Cloud grinned and tilted his cup in a mock salute. "Like I said, tastes good."

Sephiroth chuckled at that at took an experimental forkful of salad. "Ugh...this is awful."

Cloud laughed again. "Told you to go for taste instead of health."

Sephiroth's retort was cut short as he felt someone approaching him from behind, and a smooth voice began to speak.

"Hello's Strife...yes?"

Cloud nodded, wondering just when the man had arrived. It was like he'd just materialized out of the crowd.

Sephiroth sighed, and flicked a gaze over his shoulder. "What is it Tseng? I'm on vacation."

Tseng nodded and pulled a chair around so he could sit at the tiny table. "I can see..." he replied eyeing the general's abnormal attire. "In fact...that's part of the very reason I'm here. You didn't respond to President Shinra's invitation to tonight's party."

Sephiroth smiled thinly. "That would be because I don't plan on attending."

Tseng smiled back. "I suspected as much, and so did the President. Which is why I've been ordered to get you to that party if I have to drag you kicking and screaming."

Sephiroth laughed. "I don't scream...and I'm not going to the party. I have no use for sitting about letting his business associates fawn over me like some piece of art. Besides, I already have plans."

Tseng sighed. "Please don't make this difficult Sephiroth. I've been given high orders on this one. Really high orders. It's only for tonight, and you can even bring your friend here if you like."

Cloud blushed a bit at being singled out. "Umm, but I don't know how to act at a party like that. I..."

Tseng smiled. "It won't matter, it's semi-casual, and fairly relaxed. A nice sweater like the general's there and you'll fit right in."

Cloud smiled back, already charmed by the compliment on the sweater he'd picked out. He had never been invited to a real party, and he was curious what it was like. "Would it be okay Sephy?"

Sephiroth send Tseng a look that made it clear he knew he'd used Cloud to manipulate him, and got back a look that said the Turk never doubted it. Sighing at the hopeful light in Cloud's eyes, he nodded. "Okay Cloud. We'll go."

Cloud grinned and Tseng let out a small sigh of relief. He hadn't wanted to play his trump card, and the moment the pair arrived at that damned party he was going to burn the orders to send Cadet Strife to Hojo's lab quite cheerfully and use it toast marshmallows.

He pulled a pair of tickets from his coat pocket and handed one to each. "You'd better hurry gentleman. It begins in three hours, and you'll want to get your purchases home before then I'm sure. I'll even arrange for the ego gifts for our dear President on your behalf."

The Turk stood up to leave, but paused as he passed by Cloud. He leaned over and whispered in his ear. "Make him have a good time, it's the best gift you could ever get him." Cloud blushed and nodded as Tseng walked away, disappearing into the crowd once more.

Sephiroth lifted an eyebrow at the flushed skin. "What was that about? Did he hit on you?"

Cloud blushed even more and shook his head. "No! He was just giving me a bit of advice."

Sephiroth nodded. "Ways to feed Shinra's ego even more no doubt. Well come on, if we hurry we might get the tree up before it's time to go."

* * *

Cloud and Sephiroth sat back to admire the tree they'd brought back, a startlingly realistic fir that had been treated to even smell real. Cloud had wanted white, but Sephiroth insisted that if he was going to have a tree it could at least look natural. Now that it was up, Cloud had to concede it had been the best choice.

The lights danced across the deep green branches, making the sliver and blue ornaments seem to shift colors. Purple, red, green, all phased in and out with the twinkling bulbs. For the sake of efficiency, the presents had been shoved into gift bags, and placed beneath, but the effect was still the same. It looked like Christmas in Sephiroth's home for the very first time.

Just then the doorbell rang, making the couple blink at each other. "Who on earth could that be?" Sephiroth wondered aloud as he went to the front door. He glanced out the peephole, and saw a familiar shock of wild black hair that was slowly turning white in the falling snow. Opening the door he let the shivering man enter.

"Whoo...thanks Seph! Thought I was going to freeze my nuts off out there!" Zack said with a cheerful grin. He noticed the tree and the boy beside it and grinned even more. "Yo Cloud! How's it hanging? I see you convinced the general to quit being such a Grinch."

Cloud giggled and nodded his head. Zack always amused him, with no effort at all. "Yeah, but now we have to rush to a party."

Zack gave him a thumbs up. "I know...I'm here to pick you guys up. Favor to Tseng. He didn't want you guys showing up in a military vehicle. So he had me hire a limo. I wasn't about to pass up a chance to ride along of course, so I kinda invited myself to tag along."

Sephiroth sighed. There went any chance of seducing Cloud to stay home. Oh can't be any worse than the shopping.*

* * *

Sephiroth pasted on a fake smile as a rather shapely woman from one of the multitude of companies Shinra was trying to purchase pulled him against her and insisted on a dance. *I really have to learn to stop tempting fate. I'd rather be shopping.* Nevertheless, he held in his bile as the scent of several different liquors assaulted his nostrils and led her to the dance floor.

Cloud sighed as he sat at the table, watching Sephiroth dance with some woman he didn't recognize. She was vaguely beautiful, and her clothes spoke of much wealth, but the pained look in the Sephiroth's jade green eyes showed he wasn't happy about the arrangement at all. Somehow that look made him feel much better.

Someone sat at the table across from him and Cloud turned and saw one of the prettiest teens he'd ever seen watching Sephiroth and the strange woman. "Scarlet." he said flipping his blonde hair out of his bluer than blue eyes. "She's going to sign away half her company for a handful of gil and a dance. I'll never understand women. I mean, we didn't even threaten her."

Cloud blinked, the politics going straight over his head. "Huh?"

The blonde smiled and looked Cloud over. "You're pretty cute. I'm Rufus, you here with your parents too?"

Cloud shook his head. "No, I'm here with..." He was cut off by the arrival of another person. A little older than Rufus, the young man had a head full of hair the color of crushed strawberries. A set of mirrored sunglasses perched in the unruly mop and his dark blue tuxedo was in total disarray. A candy cane hung from one corner of his mouth, twirling slowly as he grinned at the pair.

"I told you not to run off Ruffie, I'm supposed to be guarding you after all." he purred, before looking across the table at Cloud. "Hello there, would you care for a drink?"

"That won't be necessary. I've already brought him one."

All three men turned to see a slightly annoyed Sephiroth standing just behind Cloud with a delicate crystal cup filled with a creamy green punch. Cloud grinned and accepted the cup, taking a small sip. "Wow! This is really good." The rest disappeared in one huge gulp.

Reno laughed while Rufus looked a bit horrified at the lack of refinement. Sephiroth just smiled and pulled Cloud to his feet so they could get a refill together. He knew the blonde's voracious eating habits were due to the ridiculously short meal periods given to cadets. It was hard to slow down when you were used to wolfing down six courses in ten minutes.

A few cups of punch later, Sephiroth put his hand to the small of Cloud's back and began leading him to the dance floor.

"Come Cloud. I feel like I've danced with everyone here but you."

Cloud blushed. "But what will people think?"

Sephiroth smiled and rubbed the back of the blonde's neck. "I don't give a damn, but if it makes you more comfortable, we'll say I'm teaching you to dance."

Cloud grinned. "That won't be too far from the truth. In Nibelheim we don't dance like these people do."

Sephiroth chuckled. "That doesn't surprise me, there wouldn't be much call for ballroom dancing in a town that doesn't hold balls." He stopped in a more open area of the floor and took a moment to show Cloud the basics. The young man was a quick study, and faster than one would imagine they were moving across the floor in perfect tandem.