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FFVII - Beer Run (sequel to the kitty fic, and birthday fic for Nekomaxwell) - ChibiRisu-chan
September 17th, 2006
10:07 pm

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FFVII - Beer Run (sequel to the kitty fic, and birthday fic for Nekomaxwell)
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So, it turns out Nekomaxwell, Julius Caesar, and I share a birthday. ^___^ The previous kitty fic was kind of the memorial for the cat I almost could have had; this one's about what happens during the time when Zack's asleep and Cloud and Sephiroth have to survive without him as a buffer zone. But it also involves playing with cat toys and a bitty kitten, so I thought it'd be a good birthday fic for someone whose nickname is, after all, Nekomaxwell... ^__^

Title: Beer Run

Theme: None exactly - sequel to Thirty for Three #21- Naptime, and birthdayfic for Nekomaxwell!

Fandom / pairing: Final Fantasy VII, Cloud/Zack/Sephiroth

Author: ChibiRisu-chan

Rating: PG-15 or so for Cloud's overactive imagination

Disclaimer: sooo not mine - never even played the game in fact...

Table of contents of all 30 fics

Cloud had to really stretch his legs and walk quickly in order not to have to break into a run to keep up with the General, whose stride was so much longer that he felt even more like a kid playing tagalong-soldier than he did with Zack. He was sure the General wasn't doing it intentionally, though; the General moved through the world like a blade through water, sure and swift and with no hesitation, no wasted motion, and the rest of the world swirled and spun in his wake.

...Well. Except for Zack. Zack threw unexpected loops and detours into everything, even into the General's carefully ordered life.

...Maybe especially into the General's carefully ordered life. That thought was oddly comforting and disturbing at once, because as nice as it was to think that Cloud wasn't the only target in a world where Zack was always armed and grinning, somehow he'd thought the General was -- above everything, somehow. Above teasing, above confusion, above hurt... certainly above Zack, he was Zack's superior officer, but...

As much as Zack had laughed at the notion of Sephiroth being his 'owner,' and purred obediently when scratched, Tifa's mother had had a saying about cats. It went along the lines of "you never really own a cat; the cat owns you. It just takes them a while to train you properly."

Most of the time, Cloud thought Zack acted like a happy dog -- all bright-eyed enthusiasm and bouncing, delighted by life and the chance to play with it. If he'd had a tail, it would have been wagging away while he begged shamelessly for the next game of fetch, or tummy-rub, or tasty bits from the table. But there was something particularly kittenish in the way Zack seemed to be 'training' them both in how to play his freewheeling games, and how he called Sephiroth 'boss' as though it were a term of indulgent affection rather than deference or respect.

Cloud had gotten so used to watching Zack poke and prod and throw both of them into disarray that he was almost startled to see how the rest of the world treated the General, and to realize that he himself really was actually much closer to the ordinary person's reactions than Zack had ever been. He'd never spent time with the General before Zack had swept into his life and dragged him along for the ride, and Zack had a positive genius for getting under people's defenses and poking and prodding and tickling when he got there. Without Zack along as a confident, grinning irritant, the General was crisp and flawless and moved without a moment's hesitation, and the people around them stepped out of his way with wide-eyed stares.

Cloud almost wondered if he'd be doing the General a favor if he dragged Zack somewhere else more often. If Zack's poking and prodding at any possible vulnerability was something that shouldn't be allowed, if he was simply destabilizing the General because he knew he could....

...except he could see the tension in the General's shoulders, in the set of his chin and the flat line of his lips. It wasn't there around Zack, but that tension, that precise control, had been in place since the moment they stepped out of the Shinra building, since the moment he strode down the street as though he owned it.

It only took an instant's thought for Cloud to put a name to the way he moved: exhibition drill.

Even off the training field, Sephiroth moved to the unheard beat of a cadence drilled in as deep as his heartbeat, as though every pair of eyes belonged to a drill judge. As though the mere presence of the public made it a drill; as though he could never be off exhibit, let alone off duty, in the presence of civilians...

Cloud stumbled over his own feet, his mind spinning; Sephiroth turned to glance back at him, and Cloud scrambled to catch up, his hand halfway through a salute before he realized it.

"At ease," Sephiroth told him, with a slight quirk at the corner of his lips, and Cloud nearly stumbled again: he doesn't even realize he's doing it. He doesn't know what he's doing...

In a daze, he watched Sephiroth buy a six-pack of beer bottles from a street vendor as though the carton were military provisions; he was so busy staring at the garish cardboard covering in Sephiroth's black-gloved hand that the General actually had to clear his throat to regain Cloud's attention.

"...Sir?"

"We have the first set of ...ammunition, of sorts," Sephiroth said, gesturing with the carton. "The other two requisitions were toys and teasing. I believe you would know better than I the most appropriate types of toys with which to tease him."

"...SIR?!" Cloud felt like his face was going to spontaneously combust. "Sir, I'm -- I'm fifteen, I--"

He couldn't say he hadn't imagined, of course -- Zack was so vibrant, so vivid, that it didn't take much imagination at all to think of how he'd respond to -- to the kind of toys that Cloud was entirely too young to be buying, just as much too young as the alcohol, but--

"As I said," Sephiroth agreed, brows slightly furrowed. "You're younger than I am; you've certainly had more experience with toys, and more recent experience at that."

--but the thought of Zack laughing and gasping and panting all at once, the way his eyes would shine, the way the sinews in his throat and the back of his hands would stand out as he tensed and shook as Cloud tickled him with-- with-- or, or if he pushed... something... in... and Zack would arch his back and curse through his teeth with that fierce grin and that wild light in his eyes --

"Private Strife?"

"...huh?"

--what other kinds of toys were there? He didn't know very much, but... if... if the General wanted... toys... for Zack...

"Toys, " Sephiroth said, his brows quirked together. "Playthings. Some little objects for teasing pets, or people who are like younger brothers. You have more experience with both of those areas than I."

"...OH!" Cloud felt nearly light-headed with relief. "Oh, THAT type of toys! Ah... ahaha... uh... yes, sir! I can-- I can definitely go buy-- um! Right! We -- we need a toy store--"

"Yes, I'd said that," Sephiroth said. "What had you thought I'd meant?"

"I... uh..." Not going to answer that. Hate to have to kill myself from humiliation. Uh. Need a distraction-- "There's a store!" Cloud said, pointing over Sephiroth's shoulder. "I'll, uh, I'll be right back, sir!" And he took off at a run.

When Cloud had finally gathered up the nerve to go through the checkout line with the pile of tube socks he'd shoved into his basket because his brain had gone totally blank and all he could really think was that no soldier ever had too many clean pairs of socks, Sephiroth was standing outside the door waiting for him.

"Strife," Sephiroth said, "this appears to be a pharmacy."

"Uh. Yes, sir?"

"...So long as you're aware of that, then."

"Yes, sir."

Cloud could feel Sephiroth's gaze on the top of his head; he wondered if his scalp could get sunburned from force of bewildered-stare, but he certainly wasn't going to look up to meet his eyes.

"...I assume we are still in need of the other sort of toys, then."

"What?” Cloud yelped. "No, sir! No, I didn't -- I wouldn't -- they wouldn't have sold me-- anyway!" He held out the bag of tube socks for display as he scrambled madly for ideas.

"That's all I bought, sir, I swear! I -- um. Anyway. We can--" He blinked, shook his head, and dove in head first. "We can put them on the beer bottles! Because they're like a Zack-version of the catnip sock."

The arch of that one silver brow was just devastatingly sardonic. Cloud scrambled to keep his head above the water of up-shit-creek-without-a-paddle somehow.

"No, really," he said, hoping if he could make himself believe it hard enough, the General might believe it too. "It'd be just like a Zack-catnip-sock! They've got beer in them and Zack likes beer the way my cat likes catnip and it'd take too long if we sewed them into mice. The socks, I mean, not the beer. You can't really sew beer, I mean, which is why I got... socks... sir...?"

Sephiroth was rubbing at the bridge of his nose the same headache-pained way he did when Zack was running around on a caffeine high, which made Cloud feel a little guilty, but on the other hand at least he wasn't standing around at parade-attention anymore.

"...sir?"

"We are still somehow failing to have the same conversation," Sephiroth said, and there was a distinct curl of amusement tinged with frustration in his voice. "Let me ask these things in order, cadet."

"Um. Yes, sir." Cloud scrunched his eyes shut and tried to brace himself for imminent death by humiliation.

"First, why would a pharmacy be your first choice for a toy store? Second, what other toys would a pharmacy not sell to you? Third, are we not still in need of types of toys that a pharmacy would not offer?"

"Uh. It was... um... convenient, sir? Yeah. It was... pharmacies have a lot of things, you know?" He laughed nervously. "And. Um. Other toys. There are... um... well, I can't buy alcohol, sir, I'm not old enough, and there are... um... other things... that pharmacies sell... for, er, people older than me."

"I don't believe he smokes any recreational drugs, legal or otherwise," Sephiroth said. "Alcohol seems to be his preferred vice."

"Which is good!" Cloud said desperately. "Because they're a pharmacy and they wouldn't sell things like that to me if he did. --Things like recreational drugs. Right. Because I'm underage. --Sir."

With a faint sigh, Sephiroth said, "And the third point?"

"Uh... which one was that, sir?"

"Pharmacies stock drugs intended for humans; are you not in need of a replacement mouse-toy for your cat?"

--oh. OH. THOSE 'other toys!' Cloud turned around and whacked his forehead against the wall of the pharmacy, hard, twice. Sephiroth caught his shoulder before he could connect a third time.

"Private Strife?"

Cloud tried to fumble his way through it dizzy, because he certainly hadn't done too good a job of it when theoretically in his right mind. 'Because I thought you meant a sex-toy shop, sir,' was clearly not going to go over well.

"I, er, forgot?" he offered. "My poor cat. I can't believe I forgot she needs a new mouse..."

"She seemed reasonably content with the drug in a sock during the interim," Sephiroth said, watching him warily for any sudden moves toward the wall again.

"...Yes, sir," Cloud said, eyes down. "They're happy with catnip any way they can get it, sir."

"So where do they sell appropriate toys for pets?"

"Um. There's this little pet shop in Sector Five..."

Above the plate, people simply made way for Sephiroth and stared as he passed. Below it, some of them cowered and others scattered like ...well, like rats. Cloud tried to keep close to him, because the way some of them glared seemed to have less to do with awe and more to do with seething resentment.

The humans weren't the only ones to react to him, though. The moment that Sephiroth passed in front of the pet store's awning, there was a half-second of dead terrorized silence and then all the animals went mad at once.

The biggest of the birds had begun beating his wings against the bars and screaming in a voice too much like human; the littler animals, the herbivores, were huddling into the farthest corners of their cages. The owner came hustling out of the back, about to demand what was setting off his stock like that, and his face actually turned grey when he saw Shinra's legendary General standing in his store.

Cloud desperately wished that Zack was there. Zack knew how to make everything go right, because he was so good at knowing exactly when and how to make things go wrong too. Cloud wasn't the one who knew how to read the way the General's pupils contracted into slits, the way his perfect composure never faltered; and yet there was something not right about it, the way he looked around at the screaming, terrified animals in utter silence.

"Sir," the shop owner said, in a trembling voice. "If -- if you might -- I'll bring you anything you'd wish to see, sir, if, perhaps -- outside, a little further--"

Sephiroth inclined his head, then turned on his heel crisply and walked out -- perfect, flawless, and inhuman. Cloud gulped hard, nodded an apology to the frantic store-owner, and ran after him.

"I'm -- I'm sorry, sir, I -- didn't know, I didn't think-- I'm sorry!"

Sephiroth tilted his head, brows quirked, the sharp bones of his face too crisply carved out of shadows by the glare of the magnesium street-light.

"...There is nothing for you to apologize for."

"But-- but--" Cloud dug both hands through his hair. "I didn't think they-- they're pets, they're-- not supposed to--"

"It's all right, Private," Sephiroth said, startlingly gentle. "I'm accustomed to it."

"You're not supposed to have to get accustomed to it!" Cloud said, frustrated. "Lab animals are one thing, anything would be afraid of the Shinra scientists, afraid of anybody who pokes at them, that's something totally different-- these ones, they're pets. That's what a pet store is, it's... they're not supposed to..."

He trailed off helplessly, glaring down at his shoes, and wished desperately that he could be Zack just for five minutes. Zack would have known exactly what to say, what to do--

Black-gloved fingertips turned his shaking, fisted hand over, and pressed lightly at the knuckles; Cloud's fist uncurled despite his best intentions, and Sephiroth placed a few gil in his palm. Cloud stared at the coins for a moment, numbly, and then looked up.

"...Sir?"

"Your cat would like another toy, wouldn't she?"

"That's -- I mean, yes, sir, but--"

"Go and find her a toy she'd like, Private. It's not complicated."

Cloud stood wavering for a moment, and then dashed into the store.

"Oh, Holy -- he's not coming back in, is he?" the store owner asked, looking straight past Cloud's head for any taller shadows following.

Cloud didn't feel like dignifying that with a response. "Have you got anything that isn't afraid of a Soldier?"

"Anything with a brain's afraid of Soldiers, kid, including me," the store owner muttered. "If you want a pet for a Soldier, get a rock."

"Wrong answer," Cloud said, and leaned over the store counter, and wished for the thousandth time that he was Zack -- but for the moment, his scrawny, fluffy-headed, unintimidating teenaged self was going to have to do well enough. "Think harder, before the General gets tired of waiting."

That got the man's attention, anyway; he nearly tripped over himself trying to make excuses. "I don't sell chocobos, they need too much space, and they're the only things stupid enough not to-- I mean-- I don't sell chocobos. Go ask at the Gold Saucer, see if they've got any chicks or any retired racers or--"

"My cat didn't mind him, once she got distracted by the catnip," Cloud said. "If you have any easygoing cats that really like catnip--"

The store owner reached under the counter and fiddled with a cage for a moment, then produced a squalling black-and-white spotted kitten and a fistful of catnip mice. "Here," he said. "Just try your luck out there."

"How much would it be for--"

"Just don't bring him back," the store owner said. "Not him, not anybody First or Second Class. And we'll call it even, how's that, kid?"

Cloud sighed, and stuffed several of the mice in the sock-bag in order to have both hands free for the scrambling kitten.

He'd thought it might go all right; the kitten was certainly interested in the catnip mouse he'd unwrapped, but about halfway across the street, the tiny little thing froze, ears slicked flat back. It made a pathetic little mewling sound and tried to shove itself up Cloud's sleeve, the mouse-toy completely forgotten; Cloud stopped where he was, and swore to himself as he tried to carefully extract the kitten from a trembling, claw-scrabbling little huddle in the armpit of his uniform.

"Strife," Sephiroth called, not moving from beneath the lamp. "Your kind intentions are appreciated, but please don't torment the creature. Your cat seems to have been an aberration."

"Mine's older, she's less afraid of people," Cloud said, hunching his shoulders forward to try to grope down the back of his shirt as the fluffy little thing slid down his spine and scrabbled at his belt from the inside. "This one's -- gods that tickles -- probably too young, I should-- gah-- should ask him if--"

"Don't," Sephiroth said. "I thank you for the thought. And the thought is kindness enough. Take this little one back."

"I would, sir, if I could get it out of my uniform--" He didn't dare untuck his shirt because it would be too far for such a little kitten to fall, and his arms just didn't reach far enough down the collar of his shirt.

Sephiroth hesitated for a moment, then took a step forward; the kitten's squalling was mostly muffled by Cloud's shirt, but it sank all its claws into Cloud's back, and his squawk of pain was loud and clear. The General stopped where he was, and began carefully backing away.

"Sir-- I'm sorry, I'll -- I'll get you a fish or something? They don't play very much, but-- they're pretty, and they're kind of soothing to look at, and--"

"I really don't need another pet, Private," Sephiroth said, and when Cloud looked up, he was actually smiling -- it was a faint, rueful thing, but it was a smile. "Zack takes more than enough supervision by himself."

"But pets don't get themselves in trouble nearly as much as Zack does, fish especially--"

"--I hold responsibility for too many lives already." That slight, wry smile hadn't changed. "I command thousands, I direct the lives of men all over the Planet, I send my comrades to die with a word -- and I myself am sent half across the globe at an hour's notice, for weeks or months, and I return to either training or a Shinra laboratory. I would need an assistant to be sure that any pet I kept would not die of neglect when my duties take me elsewhere. I do thank you for the kindness of your intentions, Private; but I cannot in conscience accept."

"...Oh. Um." Cloud gulped hard. "I'm... I'm sorry, sir."

"As I said," Sephiroth replied, leaning idly against the street-lamp, "there is nothing for you to apologize for."

"I'm sorry anyway."

Sephiroth ran his fingers through his hair, brushing it out of his face, with a rueful chuckle. "You've spent too much time around my pet lieutenant, Private Strife. Time enough for his more inexplicable habits to begin rubbing off, in any case."

"...Yes, sir." Both hands cupped awkwardly over the kitten-shaped lump in the small of his back, Cloud carefully carried himself and his shivering little passenger back into the pet store, and sat on the edge of the counter to untuck his shirt and coax the little needle-sharp claws out of his uniform. He gave back the mice, except for the one that he'd opened, and paid for it, and shuffled his way back out of the store feeling inexplicably as though he'd been kicking puppies.

It was hard to make himself lift his eyes from the ground, hard to look any higher than the clasps of the General's boots; he couldn't shake the feeling that if he'd just been Zack, or more like Zack, he'd have found something soft and warm and affectionate that the General wouldn't be able to let go, something that would make him smile whether or not he meant to. Something that would look past the Mako taint and the unnerving, slit-pupilled predator's eyes and curl up in his hands and purr for him anyway. Zack made things like that happen, whether with catnip or with beer or with the sheer force of his own charm, and...

...and the General was walking toward him, and the garish carton of beer had sprouted ears.

Cloud blinked, and looked just a little higher.

...Lots of ears. White and blue tube sock striped ears. There were tube socks tied over the beer bottles in some complicated little bundle that left little ear-shaped tufts sticking out each side.

"Do you think these will be acceptable for teasing him with?" Sephiroth asked, surveying his work with a critic's eye. "I based them on your description of beer-containing catnip-mouse-replacements, and they do seem to fit his criteria: alcohol, toys, and teasing, with the addendum that alcohol makes everything into toys. But mice also have eyes, and whiskers, and tails--"

"We, uh... we can do that, sir," Cloud said, still blinking at the beer-sock Zack-mice. "There's lots of laundry markers and buttons and things in the quartermasters' wing."

"Ah. Useful to know." Sephiroth turned toward the rail station, the sound of his long, measured strides the only thing clean and crisp down in the slums.

Zack made a better pet for him than anything from that store anyway, Cloud thought, half-trotting to keep pace at the General's side. Zack knew how to tease him, and how to train him to tease back. An ordinary cat wouldn't have had a chance of coaxing the General into hand-making toys to suit its tastes.

And Zack had the good part of dogs, too: the fun-loving, happy-go-lucky, devotedly loyal part. The General needed that constance and devotion just as much as he needed the teasing, if they were ever going to teach him how to -- how to walk, without pacing cadence, and how to laugh like you meant it, and -- and all the things that made the General think that Zack had been rubbing off on Cloud, because the General needed Zack's type of rubbing-off-on from as many sides as he could get it.

...The overly unhelpful part of his brain promptly supplied an image of himself and Zack rubbing off on the General.

In great detail.

Complete with sound effects.

Cloud nearly walked himself straight into a lamp-post.

The General's footsteps paused for a moment. "Private? Are you all right?"

Cloud shook himself all over, and ran to catch up. "Sir, yes sir!"

...And if the General asked him why he was spending so much time blushing bright red, he'd just have to blame it on a catnip allergy.

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Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:artimusdin
Date:September 18th, 2006 03:35 am (UTC)
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... I'd just like to say I love how your Trio interact. So utterly clueless at times, and yet so perfect. <3
[User Picture]
From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 18th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
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...*___* those are the bluest eyes I've ever seen on a cat that wasn't Mei Ling. Who was also a siamese and her eyes were seriously cobalt blue. How wrong is it of me to be thinking Cloud-with-Jenova-eyes thoughts right about now?

erm, anyway, thank you! I'd been thinking of Cloud as having more hero-worship than perving-on so far in this series, until I got into his head in this one and he started coming up with some pretty spectacular misinterpretations of 'toys' and innuendoes and my brain reminded me that he IS a teenaged boy... this was fun to write. ^___^
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From:icedark_elf
Date:September 18th, 2006 04:04 am (UTC)
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*glees at the pretty* Oh, Cloud, you and your toys. >.> *has bad, bad thoughts*

And Zack is an odd mix. *pets the boys* Cloud was just trying to help, and Seph is so....Seph.

*uses own puppetKitty icon*


Go, Zack, use your corrupting from a distance powers!
[User Picture]
From:pegunicent
Date:September 18th, 2006 04:53 am (UTC)
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PK! -huggles and loves on you all- I love the mess I started with you Greed-Sama, and now I have even more ideas. And this was a perfect makemesmile fic!
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From:wickedorin
Date:September 18th, 2006 05:40 am (UTC)
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Oh poor over-sexed little Cloud's brain. ...Or is that under-sexed, considering...

Beautiful, as always. And I laughed a little too loudly in parts, but everything's alright now.
[User Picture]
From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 18th, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC)
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^____^ I think Cloud's brain's probably in the over-hormonal and under-outleted niche at the moment; I've got something I'm going to do about that, but this being FF7, it's going to be traumatic for all involved (and no I don't write rapefic, ever; this is an entirely different type of trauma). Must get more cuddles out of the road first...
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From:lanerose
Date:September 18th, 2006 06:12 am (UTC)
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Your Zack, Seph, and Cloud absolutely make me melt into a puddle of happy goo with their fluffiness.

... well, that, and crack up at Cloud's oh-god-it's-not-sexual-he-didn't-mean-it-that-way adorableness. Poor dear. ;_; Seph has *no* idea what he's doing to the boy. ^.^
[User Picture]
From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 18th, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC)
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Not a single blessed clue. stops self from giving spoilers from a few fics down the road. DANG I need more writing time anyhow. Yeah. It's not that Sephiroth is innocent, not by a long shot-- he's been in the army for how many years?-- it's just that he's got the combination of 'fraternization = court-martial or worse' and 'underage = worse' drilled into his head so deeply that it doesn't even occur to him that that might be what Cloud's thinking about... which I am going to do something about, but it's going to be evil and heartbreak-inducing and yeah... anyhow.
[User Picture]
From:firedraygon97
Date:September 18th, 2006 06:27 am (UTC)
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Hahaha, I love the ending~!! ♥ And Cloud's misunderstanding throughout the whole piece is hilarious. XD Please do write more soon!
[User Picture]
From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 18th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC)
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I need more time! Or I need to win the lottery and pay my house off or something... (sweatdrop)
(Deleted comment)
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 18th, 2006 03:52 pm (UTC)
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In a different context Sephiroth wouldn't have been nearly as oblivious; it's just that he's got these tidily separated compartments in his mind and things don't cross over. Toys are for children and, apparently, for pets; sex is either for married people who want children or something that soldiers do against regulations to the people of the villages they loot and burn; there's no compartment labeled sex-is-for-fun in his head. (Not yet, anyway. Plotplotplot...) Anyway, yeah, he's -- not innocent, but kind of innuendo-blind, really. And this is even after Zack's been working on him.

Poor Cloud, trailing around after a walking fantasy and trying too darn hard not to slip and the walking fantasy hasn't twigged to any of it...
(Deleted comment)
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From:askerian
Date:September 18th, 2006 08:32 am (UTC)
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exhibition drill

Oh, Sephiroth. ;_;

And the sex shop. And the kitten. And aaaawwww. I'm totally torn between laughing and wanting to squish them both hard. T_T They really need a Zack in their lives, don't they. *sniffle*
[User Picture]
From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 18th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
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They really, really do. I think this is one of the reasons the OT3ness of these guys hit me so hard -- by themselves anything involving just Sephiroth and Cloud is going to be so horribly broken, because they're both so messed up and they need someone whole enough to help them figure out how things are supposed to be. And Zack is the perfect balance for them both...
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From:aphelion_orion
Date:September 18th, 2006 09:10 am (UTC)
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Oh god. Sephiroth. Cloud. WIBBLE. *cries*

It's... they're so incredibly fucked-up. Both of them. The poor, poor dears. I so hope Zack will give Cloud some self-worth therapy. ^^

Oh, and the fic is love. But you knew I would say that, right? Right. ♥
[User Picture]
From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 18th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
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The funny thing is Sephiroth was actually asking perfectly reasonable, normal questions this time around (who would go toy-shopping in a pharmacy?) It's not his fault Cloud's brain was on a different track entirely!

And poor Cloud, having to tap dance around "uhhhh no I wasn't thinking perverted stuff really!" around a superior officer who looks and dresses like THAT. Cruel and unusual punishment all around.

Poor messed-up guys, I have way too much fun giving them brain-noogies...
[User Picture]
From:miko_no_da
Date:September 18th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)
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*wibbles all over this* Oh gods, poor Cloud. Poor, POOR Cloud. Thinking Seph was asking him for sex toys. *snickers madly*

I love it when you write these two interacting WITHOUT Zack there, because it really drives home how awkward they both are. Cloud realizing that Sephiroth always walks in cadence was very touching.

OW, though, my gods his back must be in shreds. Kitten claws are SHARP!
[User Picture]
From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 20th, 2006 02:42 am (UTC)
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^___^ yeah, I've been on the receiving end of little needle-claws all over the place. (With the cat who likes hiding under skirts, most often.) Yeowch...

And I just want to hug 'em both and give 'em common-knowledge transfusions somehow. They're both trying so darn hard and they've both got no clue what they're doing and they're kind of fumbling around each other trying not to hurt anybody or trip over anything...
From:lissiel
Date:September 18th, 2006 06:31 pm (UTC)
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Omg, cloud thinking that Sephiroth was asking him to buy sex toys had me laughing until I couldn't breathe. Likewise, the end is FABULOUS.

And the fact that seph is just standing there like, ??? just makes it THAT MUCH BETTER.
[User Picture]
From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 20th, 2006 02:50 am (UTC)
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^_______^ Thanks! I had a LOT of fun writing this. I actually went back and tweaked the innuendoes a WHOLE lot once Cloud started blushing and squirming at me. Sephiroth's original set of questions made it much clearer he was thinking of cat toys the whole time, and so forth. I have too much fun torturing poor little chocobo-head...
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From:cephy
Date:September 18th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC)
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Oh, Cloud. Don't you realize, Zack already did find Seph something fuzzy and affectionate and not worried about the mako, it's called you. ^^

This was wonderful, absolutely wonderful-- I love this little series to bits, for so many reasons.
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From:elanor_pam
Date:September 19th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
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That's exactly what I was expecting to happen in the end of the fic - the realization that Cloud was the perfect little fluffy pet. XDD But still, him not noticing his own worth is part of what makes him so damn huggable and cuddle-worth.
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From:kalla
Date:September 18th, 2006 08:01 pm (UTC)
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I have this huge GRIN on my face... and if my co-workers ask, I will burst out laughing and be unable to stop until I am dead of mortification.

I love the way you portray these guys.. and really.. I'm not into the threesome or the pairings they present.. but these are far too priceless for words!
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 20th, 2006 02:55 am (UTC)
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^_______^ it's really cool hearing that a fic can overcome someone's aversion to a pairing; that seems to be pretty rare to run across in fandom, so I'm glad it worked for you! Must go off and write more evilcutesubversion, mwahahaaa...
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From:edenfalling
Date:September 18th, 2006 08:13 pm (UTC)
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*melts into a pile of fluffy goo and utterly fails to be coherent*

Um. By which I mean I love this. And I would give you chapter and verse as to why, but, as previously mentioned, I am currently failing my coherence test.

*wibbles* *melts again*
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 20th, 2006 02:56 am (UTC)
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^_____^

*looks around sneakily*

*collects up butterfly-goo and stashes in refrigerator for later recongealing*

(gotta keep you around for writing fics, you know!)
From:lessien22
Date:September 18th, 2006 10:21 pm (UTC)
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Wow! I wish I could say more, but... wow! I love your series. Cloud's train of thought was hilarious! But then again, it would be hard to stop your mind from falling in the gutter around someone like that. Perfectly understandable. And Sephiroth.... *falls over laughing* You write each of them perfectly.

Can't wait for more!
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 20th, 2006 02:57 am (UTC)
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thank you! Dude, I am SO looking forward to Thanksgiving break. I want to write a ton of stuff. And hopefully I can get my house-winterproofing done before then so I'll have time for it...
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From:mushroomsheep
Date:September 18th, 2006 11:54 pm (UTC)
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Hee~ it's the interlude-type thing! ^^

"Toys" haha. Cloud and his overactive hormones ^^ Zack's been teaching him a little too much, methinks. It was really cute though (as always) especially the flustered Cloud and his running into a pharmacy thing. I loved the literal head-wall there, too. :D

For some reason, the image of Sephiroth leaning against a lamp post really stuck to me. It gives him that bit of a civilian air, despite his stiff pose and cadence. And, as always, I am stuck between poofing into fluff and shoving Sephiroth into a nicer environment.

Love, love, LOVE reading your stuff. Always makes me day~
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 20th, 2006 03:00 am (UTC)
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^_____^ thank you! I really really wish I could draw, 'cause the way he was standing there in my head with the light pouring down over him and his hair and those eyes and the black leather was just, er, mrrowr. I just totally suck at drawing, which is why I stick to fic, but... that was totally one of those bite-your-knuckles-and-whimper-at-the-pretty kinds of pictures in my head...
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From:mistress_yuna
Date:September 20th, 2006 03:11 am (UTC)
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Aw the ending was adorable! I cannot wait for this to continue!!! Sephiroth is learning, slowly, but he is!
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 20th, 2006 03:35 am (UTC)
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^____^ I'm working on it! I'm not sure whether the next one's going to be an awwwcuddle one or an omgtrauma one though... (sweatdrop)
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From:arora_kayd
Date:September 20th, 2006 06:10 am (UTC)
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Best. Ending. Ever.

Oh Cloud, you and your poor 15-year-old brain. *hee hee*

Jsut as brilliant and amazing as the first one. Thanks so much for sharing..
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 20th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
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^____^ I really do know someone with a mint allergy! Okay, it's peppermint, not catnip, but poor Cloud's looking for any excuses he can get...
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From:xlacklusterx
Date:September 20th, 2006 07:23 am (UTC)
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What else is there to say? you write the characters perfectly. I especially enjoy Sephiroth's for-lack-of-a-better-word "innocence" about everyday things or emotions. That was a great idea* and I loved how cloud's mind wondered into the gutter randomly, lol. It's nice to see what Cloud and Seph are like without what Zack does to the group chemistry (even tho I love him, he's the best). Your writing is so enjoyable! encore! <3 ^^
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 20th, 2006 02:40 pm (UTC)
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^_____^ thank you! Glad you liked it! Yeah, I should set up some more twosome time for each of 'em; there's only THIRTY of the things to write, after all... and crazy me, I just went and signed up for another theme community while I was at it...
From:shadowform
Date:September 23rd, 2006 05:19 am (UTC)

About everything.

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I don't tend to comment very much since it's not easy for me to express my thoughts and don't like to leave one-line comments, so this may be it for me. In any case, I stumbled across your journal somehow two days ago, shortly before I was about to give up entirely on tracking down decent FF7 fiction. I promptly devoured everything I could find here and followed a few convenient links to the journals of a few others who've commented around here for more. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of your writing. More than that, even. I was having a terrible past few days, and reading your stories brought a much needed smile to my face.

Your characterization is unique and refreshing, and I'm sure you've heard all of this before. The interplay between the three characters is entertaining, and, at times, heartbreaking, when one recalls their inevitable futures. In a way these stories would be beautiful as canon; a means of allowing the characters happiness before the events of Nibelheim set in, but somehow it's such a sharp contrast that I can't imagine how it can be reconciled with events to come. I can't picture how characters so innocent and naive can become jaded or vengeful. It's as though there is a huge piece missing in the middle, regarding what happens in their minds, and notably how Cloud and Zack feel and respond, since we're given a fairly good idea of Sephiroth's perspective. The Cloud you write could never raise a hand against Sephiroth, and your Zack... well, I can't see his smile fade.

It is for that reason that I hope you plan to tackle the grey areas - how these personalities you've defined could grow to become what they do - between the pre-game and post-AC areas. More than anything, I am drawn to solid characterization and how defined personalities grow to develop.

However, even on their own these stories address an aspect of the overall storyline which I hadn't bothered to give much thought to or felt any interest in initially, and it will be difficult not to consider them as what really happened. I've bookmarked the index and plan to become a regular lurker. Thank you very much for sharing your writing; I can't wait to see more.
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 23rd, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)

Re: About everything.

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*____* meep! Er, wow -- thank you so much! I'm glad the fic-fluff helped out some with the bad days, too. I think that's one of the reasons I tend to write so much fluff: the world sucks sometimes, and escapism isn't always a bad thing. And these poor characters went through so MUCH hell in their own universe...

More fic recs in case you might not have bumped into 'em: Check out ciceqi's Mascotverse and miko_no_da's Got Your Back for more pre-game how-it-should-have-been fics, because they're both totally awesome! (And if you happen to be in the mood for fluffy AU crack, check out icedark_elf's PuppetKitty tags. "Mine is an evil purr..." ^__^)

Timeline: Yeah, I'm planning to put pieces of this fic arc all the way through the timeline, although I probably won't touch either official-BC or DoC timeline stuff because I know nothing about either of those games. (But Sephiroth's been nagging at me for months to take dictation on his monologue about why he isn't insane and never has been and why trying to vaporize the planet was a perfectly rational reaction to the way life is; and although I'm writing that description tongue in cheek, one of the reasons I haven't actually sat down to write it is that it's going to be hard, and messy, and cold, and I'm not entirely confident in my ability to pull it off but I know I really have to nail it solid.) Even before that, though...

It's always seemed in my life as though the only people who can really hurt you the most badly are the ones you loved and trusted the most. And it doesn't have to be intentional; sometimes the unintentional things hurt just as badly, and spiral out of control, and shake your belief in everything you thought you'd known about whom you could trust, who was safe, who was kind...

I need to have the nerve to go ahead and take the first sledgehammer to their lives before Nibelheim; I'm debating over whether it has story-integrity if I let them fix it any first, or if I have to leave it broken at the time we meet continuity again. I probably won't know for sure until I get there. I think I may do some patching but leave things still unhealed, still wobbly, and then Nibelheim goes and drives all of them right over the edge, even though Sephiroth's the only one who's commonly viewed as insane (and chibi Sephiroth in the back of my head is glaring at me with one foot tapping and going 'objection! It's entirely a matter of scale. The boy kicks over an anthill and nobody objects; I try to kick over a larger anthill and suddenly I'm labeled genocidal, where's the justice...').

Anyway, yeah. I'm not looking forward to having to write the angst, because I like writing fluff and giving them chances to be happy (even if broken) better. But I think the story NEEDS the angst to get written, so I have to just buckle down and do it.

...but I may write more lethal fluff first, because the chocobos have been pecking at my head even longer than Sephiroth's monologue, and nobody can resist Those Eyes. ^_~

Thank you! Wow, still flattered/impressed/happy about how you're reading past the single stories to the pattern of the whole arc... thank you again!
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From:moriapolonius
Date:September 26th, 2006 11:56 am (UTC)

First-time reviewer

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he couldn't shake the feeling that if he'd just been Zack, or more like Zack,

So he made himself Zack, didn't he. This screamed foreshadowing to me, whether intentional or not.

he'd have found something soft and warm and affectionate that the General wouldn't be able to let go, something that would make him smile whether or not he meant to. Something that would look past the Mako taint and the unnerving, slit-pupilled predator's eyes and curl up in his hands and purr for him anyway.

And it looks like Zack has already found something like that, right? Only Cloud needs some convincing to curl up and purr.

And Cloud has a suprisingly dirty mind. Who knew he had it in him? Not that I blame him, with Sephiroth in view and Zack around.

Anyway. I've been reading your Final Fantasy fics almost since you started writing them, so forgive for staying in the lurkdom for so long.

I'm sure everyone says that, but your take on the characters is amazing, especially Sephiroth. His alienation from the rest of humanity -- something he's aware of and yet doesn't fully realize its extent -- is heartbraking. Cloud is absolutely touching and Zack is a league of his own.

I can't help but notice that this series seems to be Sephiroth-centric. Even though it's mostly written from Cloud's POV and Zack is running the events, it centres on Sephiroth's reaction and growth. I don't mind, but I wish I could read a part from Sephiroth's POV and how he perceives Cloud and Zack (since I've already had the taste of Zack). Not that his perceptions don't come across form others' POV, but still.

I can safely say that your Sephiroth, Zack and Cloud are my favourite together with Madam Hydra's. I can't really comment on them being in character (or not) since I've never played the game (and having never played an RPG game, I doubt I ever will), but the enjoyment factor is 10 out of 10.


By the way, I found your LJ because I was curious if you wrote any more of the Count Cain fanfic I've read a couple of years ago at ff.net. Are there any chances for continuation or have you completely abandoned it? (I hope not...)
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:September 26th, 2006 01:27 pm (UTC)

Re: First-time reviewer

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oooooo! *__* have coaxed a lurker out of hiding! (pets lurkers, carefully, because they are soft and squishable like kittens)

(anyhow. ^_~)

Yeah, the foreshadowing was entirely intentional -- I have a perverse addiction to just sticking the knife in and twisting it even in the middle of chronicfluff! I can't seem to help myself. They're such easy targets when they've got that much built-in angst already.

And that's an interesting point about the effect of having it be from Cloud's point of view -- I'd meant it to be showing how Cloud slowly, slowly gets up the courage to feel like an equal partner, shifting from his terrorized worship in the first fire scene to somebody who feels like he has a place taking care of and worrying about the other two, both in the chocobo fic and more so in the "Fever" theme I haven't written yet. But I think a side effect of writing so much from Cloud's point of view is that his absolute hero-worship of Sephiroth is coloring the rest of it.

I've definitely got two planned from Sephiroth's point of view, but neither of them are exactly what you'd call non-traumatic, so I should probably dig through the themes and see if there's any others I could scrounge up and apply to the inside of Sephiroth's head. Hmmm.

(and hey, don't worry about not having played the game -- neither have I! My entire experience with the game is shoulder surfing for cut scenes about 10 years ago while my friends played it at me -- and since the last thing I saw before that was approximately on the tech level of the original Legend of Zelda on some NES or other, I was in AWE. ^_~)

On the Cain story -- yeah, unfortunately I think that one's gone. I got to the point where I'd have to put real, substantial work into laying out murder mystery plotting and clues and figure out what I could mention and what I couldn't and how to manage the readers' perceptions of the various suspects, and I'd have had to kill Althea, and she was so much fun with the snark that I really didn't want to kill her, but nobody in Cain's life EVER escapes unscathed, and I just didn't want to put that much work into a story that was going to depress me that much both while I was writing it and after. ^^;; I don't know how Yuki Kaori does that level of grinding angst and horror with basically every series she writes, but I suspect she needs a serious dose of Prozac...

I'm sorry about that! I should have realized before I started that my natural instincts go so much to fluff that I'm really not meant for Goth angst melodrama ficcing. Translation was fine, I didn't have to put that much of myself into it because I was working on finding her words, not mine, and the story was all laid out. But ficcing just didn't work.

...I say while writing Final Fantasy 7 fic that's going to lead up to Nibelheim and other massive trauma. But the thing about Final Fantasy 7 fic is that nothing is ever final, not really -- see also Advent Children, see also how nobody seems to STAY dead, see also how even the ones who stay dead are still hanging around watching... (anyhow.) I guess with FF7 fic I have more faith in my ability to wring a happy ending out of what looks like a pretty grim one to start with, and that's part of the lure...

anyway, thanks for delurking, and I promise I don't bite! unless people leave badly spelled demands that I 'update now or die bitch !!!111one!', that is. But under most circumstances I don't bite, honest...
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From:chibirisuchan
Date:December 6th, 2006 05:52 pm (UTC)
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^___^ Yeah, Cloud doesn't quite get it, and neither does Sephiroth from an entirely different direction, so they keep knocking heads together unintentionally and going 'huh?' and Zack really needs to restock on the clue-by-fours... ^_~
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From:kuro_fenikkusu
Date:October 21st, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
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*Snortsplutter* Uh, do you know what exhibition drill is? I think your referring to Regulation drill. This is Exhibition drill.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JLcP52Giq4
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From:kuro_fenikkusu
Date:October 21st, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
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Whoops, i forgot to mention how much i love this.
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From:megpie71
Date:October 29th, 2007 10:49 am (UTC)
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Just a quick note to say how much I enjoy this series. It's fun seeing the three of them interacting in a positive manner - even moreso given I know where the heck canon is taking things. It's a sort of "oh gods, no, *don't* go to Nibelheim, damnit!" moment for me every time I see them doing something silly and happy like this.

Final Fantasy VII is nasty enough to the boys in canon. I figure the fans have their work cut out for them supplying enough fluff and schmoop to counteract that. (Let's not worry about the cheerful thought that the more fluff, schmoop and happiness we provide for the period before canon kicks off, the worse the tragedy is at the other end...).
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From:chainey_clink
Date:August 4th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
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he doesn't even realize he's doing it. He doesn't know what he's doing... So, was that the first time Cloud 'got it'? Also!

"Oh, THAT type of toys! and "What had you thought I'd meant?" had me clamping my hand down to keep from giggling. Oh good gods, the way his mind ran off when thinking of teasing Zack with 'toys' startled and amused me.

"We are still somehow failing to have the same conversation." That's happened several times now, but I don't think you noticed the others. (Oh no, just now I had to ignore the want to place 'sir' at the end of that sentence)

"--Things like recreational drugs. Right. Because I'm underage. --Sir." ...nice save there, Cloud.

-and pressed lightly at the knuckles; Cloud's fist uncurled despite his best intentions, and Sephiroth placed a few gil in his palm. That was strangely cute, you know.

"Wrong answer. Think harder, before the General gets tired of waiting." ...then again, a concerned Cloud is quite nice, too.

Cloud nearly walked himself straight into a lamp-post. Hate to reiterate, but ow, my face hurts from grinning so much.
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From:toki_mirage
Date:January 10th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
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HAAAAHAHAHAHA!
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