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Karma… or something. (Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, Zack, m)


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For anyone who doesn’t know the fandom: This isn’t related to the plot of the game so you mostly just need some vocab:


ShinRa - Zack and Sephiroth’s employer, and the de facto world government

SOLDIER - Part of ShinRa’s military - like a special forces division.  Zack and Sephiroth are in SOLDIER.

Turks - ShinRa’s intelligence agency.

Chocobos - Big birds that people use for transport, particularly in the wider world outside of Midgar, which is a giant city and ShinRa’s base.


You’ll also need to know that Angeal was Zack’s mentor.  They really cared about each other, but Zack used to drive him crazy.  Angeal was also close friends with Sephiroth 



The credit for the use of this particular allergen goes entirely to another member @chui.  Chui I think you’re long gone now, otherwise I’d have asked permission, but I since it’s only the allergen I’m using I figured you probably wouldn’t mind.  As soon as I read it (on your Drabble thread) I thought the idea was inspired and really wanted to play with it.  If you ever do read this, I absolutely love your stories and I wish I’d known about them (or the forum for that matter) when you were writing - I would have attacked you with comments.



For anyone who’s read Humanity or any of my stuff with the smoke grenade allergy - this is set in a different universe.  In Humanity it was kind of important that SOLDIERS don’t usually have allergies - obviously, that not the case in this fic.



“Does this mean we failed the mission?”  Ray scurries up to Zack’s side as they load back onto the bus.


He’s anxious, Zack notices, the mental tally in full swing.  It’s not a problem necessarily, but he should watch Ray’s back when they get into combat - that’s if they make it that far.


“We’re not out yet,” Zack tells him.  He hops up onto the back of one of the seats to sit on it in reverse.  He likes taking candidates on their eval missions, he really does, but this type of job doesn’t exactly attract the kind of transport spend that ShinRa lays out for his other assignments.  “We just need to regroup,” Zack says, addressing everyone now.  “So who’s gonna tell me how we get things moving?”


“We could call HQ s-,” Juma clamps his lips shut at Zack’s pointed look.  His shoulders hitch in the direction of his ears.


Zack’s told him about fifteen times to drop the Sir.  Juma is military though, so Zack can’t blame him too much.  Some of the sergeants in the security forces are way too fond of their stripes.


“Um… HQ… might… have more intel.”


Zack tries and fails to suppress a smile at Juma flushing and swallowing as he stammers.  He’s thrown him off balance.  He does feel a little guilty about that honestly, but for all they bring with their experience, infantry candidates tend to need a little shake up to make the transition into SOLDIER.


“Yeah, we can call HQ,” Zack said “I’ll do it.  In about two minutes.  Don’t think they’ll have anything on this, actually.  But in general it’s worth a shot.”


A guy at the back, Ben, holds up a hand.  “Uh… there was a chocobo farm in the town?  The staff might have some info on the target.”


Zack laughs.  “Alright.  You take that one, Benji.  Bring someone with you if you want.”


“Right now?”


“Go for it.”


Ben chooses Nabeh and the two off them shuffle off the bus.


“Was that a bad suggestion?”  Ray asks once they’re out the door.


Zack turns to him, with a frown.  “No? It was great.  Can normally get good intel out of a chocobo farmer.  They deal with a lot of travellers, usually know who’s been coming through.”


“So why aren’t we going with them?”


“You’ll find people get less chatty when a dozen guys with swords turn up on their doorstep.”  Zack gives a sheepish grin and tilts his head in concession.  “Also, chocobos make me sneeze, so I’m staying out of it.”


There are a few decent ideas.  Ben’s answer leads to a bunch of suggestions about traders in the town.  They get stuck on that for a bit.  Some people want to check with the weapon seller, some more at the inn.  A guy called Nayr wants to ask down at the docs about boat crossings.  That would probably have been Zack’s first stop too.  He makes a mental note about Nayr - might be one to watch.  Ultimately, they all split up.


Zack makes the phone call he’d promised.  He speaks to Maelle, a secretary in the Turks’ office.  She’s pretty used to Zack’s calls at this point.  Before he’s even laid out the situation, they both know she won’t be able to help him.  This is a low priority target - some failed insurrectionist who slipped out of the grasp of the army.  If they don’t catch him, the likelihood is that he’ll fall in with one of the bigger anti-ShinRa movements, but the prevailing feeling is that he won’t be much of a boon to their ranks anyway.  That’s why the Turks had been happy to hand over the recovery to Zack and his prospective recruits.


Maelle is kind enough to humour Zack as usual, and as a bonus she tells him about some of the recent chaos her son has been causing in military academy.  Zack enjoys that.  In fact he kind of hopes her son will end up applying to SOLDIER.  He’s pretty sure they’d get along.


After they’ve talked, Zack wanders out onto the path outside the bus and waits for everyone to return.  He taps out some notes about his gang while they’re still fresh in his mind, and he does some squats to pass the time.  When most of the candidates have made it back, he jumps onto a rock and sits, ready to try to collect whatever information the group have managed to cobble together.  He’s just talking to Seb, the guy who went to the weapon seller, when Ben and Nabeh come back and sit on the ground at Zack’s side.


Out of respect for Seb, Zack keeps up the conversation for as long as he can, but shit, he can feel the change immediately.  He blinks; he sniffs; he scrubs at his nose with his knuckle.  In the end he just drives his whole fist against his nose and grimaces.


“Sorry Seb - give me a minute.”  Zack turns his head, looking at the new arrivals out of the corner of his eye.  “Ben,” he says, the name already an accusation.  “Did the two of you sit on the stupid birds?”


Nabeh’s eyes go wide.  “How did you know?”


Zack gives a long groan, tips his head back and presses the back of his wrist against his nose.  “Lucky guess…”


“We’ve lived in Midgar our whole lives,” Ben explains, uncertainty creeping into his tone.  “Neither one of us have ever seen one up close.”


Zack doesn’t move his gaze from the sky, but he sighs.  “Okay, fine.  But now…hhh!” He scrunches his nose tight.  “…now I’m allergic to the pair of you, so that’ll be… ihh… interesting…”  He twists away from the group, cupping his hands over his face.  “HhhHSHHuHh! HAH’USHHHuh!”  He digs his finger and thumb into his eyes and sniffs again.  “Can you sit in the back?”  He says, talking to them over his shoulder before he bends with another sneeze.  “HahhhhISHHUHhh! Ugh.”  He watches them through narrowed eyes as they shuffle to the rear of the group. “You better at least have brought me some decent information.”


He looks across all of them with a rub of his nose and an apologetic smile.  “Uh, sorry… I’ll be kinda gross from now on, I guess.”  Grimacing, he digs a knuckle against the corner of his eye.  “Go on Seb - carry on.”




Zack has just finished checking the lot of them in at the inn when his phone rings.  He flips it open, taking a glance at the name on the display.


“Sephiroth,” he answers.  “Everything okay?”


There’s a pause.


“Are you ill?”


Zack laughs.  “No.  I’m with the prospective recruits in Mideel.”  He scrunches his face, rubbing his nose in circles with the heel of his hand.  “Couple of guys thought it’d be a good idea to hop on a chocobo.”  He laughs again when his words are greeted only with confused silence.  “I’m allergic.”


“I didn’t know that.”


“Yeah, well when we’re on assignment you don’t usually feel the need to sit on the damn things.”  Though actually, Zack would quite like to see that.  It might be worth the sneezing fits, honestly.  He groans as the now-constant itching takes on an insistent edge. “I’m sorry - hang on.”  Dropping the phone to his side, he curls an arm across his face and gives a single blink, hard and slow. The tickling turns unbearable and tears spring to his eyes.


“HAH… HAH’ASHHhAH!  HhhhASHhuh! HEHtASHhAH!” He sniffs, returning the phone to his ear. “Ugh. I’m sorry.”


“Are you sure you didn’t sit on the chocobo?”


“No, I didn’t…” Zack glowers with annoyance that is more directed at Ben and Nabeh and the birds themselves than it is at Sephiroth.  “I don’t know what it is about those things.  Honestly, send me anywhere you want.  I’ll don’t care.  I’ll do mechs, dragons, summons… No problem.  But ask me to stand within ten feet of those stupid feehhh- feathers and it’s seconds before I’m a wrrhhh-huh.. a wreck-HIH’TSCHHh!”  He groans and sniffs.  He could do with blowing his nose really, but they’ve wasted too much of this call on his allergies already.  “What did you ring about?” He asks, rubbing at his eye with his free hand


“I wanted you to take a look at something, but it can wait until you’re back in Midgar.”


Zack sniffs again.  “We’re done for the day.  I can talk it through if you want?”


“What I want is for you to stand under a shower until you sound less like a victim of Wutain flu.”


Zack snorts.  “I think I might want that too.  But shouldn’t we…”


“It will wait.”


“Are you sure?”


“I am.  Have fun with your recruits.”


This time Zack’s groan is long and heartfelt.  He spreads a hand between his temples, dragging his fingers and thumb across his eyes in a slow pinch.


At the other end of the line, Sephiroth gives a rare chuckle.  “You know, I had a very similar response from someone else once.”


Zack’s laugh bursts up through his scratchy throat.  He has a pretty good idea who.   “Oh yeah?  Angeal, right? Yeah, yeah, I know, I -hh… I had this coming. HHTt’ASHhhAh!”


“I hope you feel better Zack.”


“I w-hh… I will.”  He scrubs at his nose with the heel of his hand.  “Hht’USCHhuh! HTt’TSCHYEW!  HUHT’tSCHUH! Ughhh. I’ll probably get that shower.”


“Good.  And Zack-”




“Bless you.”


Zack thanks him with a laugh and hangs up the phone.  He gives the receptionist a guilty smile while he helps himself to about a dozen tissues from the box on the counter.  Then he hefts his bag over his shoulder, and disappears off to find his room.

Edited by SexualOddity
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Aww! I loved this! 💗 Sephiroth’s insistence that he not discuss the reason for his call until Zack was feeling better was very kind of him.

And there are more FF fics by chui? Excellent! I’ll have to start going through the older pages. I’ll just have to do it manually because I can’t use the search function until I’m fully validated.

Anyway, thank you for the fic!

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Thanks so much for the links.
I like chui’s idea of Zack being allergic to chocobos and also Cloud being  allergic to cats.

Poor Cloud! (I would have loved to see his revenge on Zack by putting chocobo pillows and quilt in his bed after the kitten nightmare expanded upon!)

So is your fic called Karma because of Zack being paid back by his recruits because of what he was like with Angeal when he was a recruit?

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2 minutes ago, solitaire-au said:

Poor Cloud! (I would have loved to see his revenge on Zack by putting chocobo pillows and quilt in his bed after the kitten nightmare expanded upon!)

Oh my goodness me too. Such a hot idea.  My brain already tries to expand on it on a not-infrequent basis 😅


4 minutes ago, solitaire-au said:


So is your fic called Karma because of Zack being paid back by his recruits because of what he was like with Angeal when he was a recruit?

Yes! That's it exactly. I'm glad that came across.

There's a really beautiful moment in Crisis Core when Angeal has died and Zack is grieving and then it cuts to Zack talking to a bunch of recruits and passing on a lot of the things Angeal told him.  I think the idea is that Zack steps into Angeal's shoes a little after that? And I like the thought that maybe occasionally the recruits also make Zack realise what Angeal went through trying to mentor him 😂

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