Restore-verse, written for the prompt "Misfortune" for SheWhoFlies. Sephiroth and Cloud riding bikes. Or trying to. Must be Cloud's unlucky day.

13. Misfortune

When Sephiroth doubled back, he found Cloud seated on a jutting rock at the side of the road, staring at his bike. The Fenrir was propped up against another rock at the end of a trail of motor oil. The splatters had reached an impressive size toward the end.

He stopped his own bike in the middle of the road, arched an eyebrow at Cloud's somber expression. "Strife?" he asked, pointedly.

"No pieces to fix that," Cloud replied.

He sounded strangely incredulous. Sephiroth quirked his eyebrow a bit higher. Huh.

"... I had no idea this kind of failure could even happen, and now it's the third time in a week --" Cloud exhaled forcefully and got up on his feet. "Nevermind."

"I would offer to take a look," Sephiroth said slowly, aware that Cloud was already starting to bristle with territorial impulses, "But I was never interested in learning more than how to change a tire."

Cloud stared at him for a second, as if Sephiroth had just admitted that all those times they'd sparred (or fought for real) he had been winging it and he really didn't have a clue about swordplay as anything else than 'flail it around, see what happens'. It was unexpectedly entertaining.

He didn't think Strife would find Sephiroth mentioning he'd always had minions... ah, mechanics to fix those pesky details for him very endearing, though. He sobered up, outwardly at least.

"Midgar is still five hours away. I suggest you hide the bike and come back later with a truck. Unless you'd rather stay and wait for me to arrange something?" he inquired, sure that would get him a 'no'. "I don't believe this area is particularly rich in monsters..."

"Or," Cloud replied, vaguely glowering from the insinuation that he might have a problem with monsters from any part of the globe, "I could get my PHS and call someone now."

Or that, yes. "Who will still be five hours away."

Strife stared at him for a minute, eyes narrowed like he suspected Sephiroth of various nefarious things. In the end he seemed to be unable to figure out anything specific to suspect him for, and shrugged.

"Ah, hell, why not. I'll come back tomorrow." A sigh. "Just let me get the swords..."

Sephiroth watched in undisguised amusement as Strife proceeded to pull out a half-dozen blades from the bike. "Have you ever heard of 'less is more'?" he inquired silkily. Cloud sent a black glare his way.

"I don't want to hear that from you, Mr. Seven Feet Long."

He heaved, pulling the heavy bike straight, and started pushing it toward a couple of big rocks. Sephiroth personally thought there was little risk it would be stolen even if left in plain sight -- the road they'd taken was often deserted for days on end, and no one but a SOLDIER could have handled the thing in the first place. Granted, someone might still want it for pieces...

"With my luck I'm going to come back to find nothing left but the handlebars," Strife said as he trudged back down to the road.

Sephiroth let out an almost silent chuckle.

"... So." Cloud holstered the pieced-together sword and sized him up.

"Did you perhaps want to drive?" Sephiroth inquired, with a hint of incredulous politeness that meant surely he must be dreaming if he thought that was going to happen.

For a second Cloud's eyes glinted in challenge, but apparently the god-given right of a man to drive his own bike wasn't something he dared to desecrate. "... Nah." Sighing, he walked up to the bike and swung his leg over the seat.

Being much cheaper than Strife's Fenrir, the seat wasn't long enough to allow him to do that without brushing against Sephiroth's shoulders, or, once seated, to prevent his thighs from bracketing Sephiroth's hips. The contact made him shuffle in his seat, looking for a better position for a few seconds before admitting that there wasn't any.

Sephiroth stared ahead at the dusty road, and considered with mild bewilderment the little flutter of warmth and interest curling in his belly.

That was... perhaps not entirely unexpected, in hindsight.

"... What are you looking at?"

"Merely contemplating the drag of your sword against the wind and its effect on fuel use," he lied smoothly, and revved the engine.

"Hey, stop dissing the sword already," Cloud retorted as he grabbed for Sephiroth's shoulder to keep from being thrown off.

Perhaps this was Cloud Strife's unlucky day, but Sephiroth found he couldn't quite agree.