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Optimal Scenario, File 1.0

Title: Optimal Scenario

Warnings: Contains not-particularly graphic shonen ai, mild language, and violence.

Summary: FFVII, Vincent/Cloud. Shelke decides to play matchmaker. This mostly seems to involve tormenting Cloud.

Author's Note: Thanks to pennies_4_eyes ages and ages and ages ago, I was inspired to do some Vincent/Cloud fic, since this was probably my original ship in FFVII fandom way way back in the day. And you know, being Vincent/Cloud, the two angstiest, moodiest guys ever, I naturally decided to write a crack comedy fluff romance.

It sat idle as nothing more than an outline for a long time until writer's block elsewhere drove me back to it at last. So here we are! Updates probably once a week, let's say Tuesdays. It's not going to be a very long fic, looking like maybe 7 chapters all up. All a bit of a stupid fun really.

Hope you enjoy it!



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File 1.0

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Shelke cared very deeply for Vincent.

Part of it was, of course, affection inherited from the memories of Lucrecia Crescent. A great deal more was gratitude for her rescue from Deepground – however unwilling that rescue had been at the time. These feelings were reinforced by Vincent’s stabilising presence in her life after Omega’s fall. The effort he had expended on ensuring she had a safe, friendly environment in which to reintegrate with the outside world had not gone unnoticed.

However, these feelings were not love.

She knew this instinctively, though had considered the matter at length regardless. Emotions were a long-forgotten concept to her, after all, and only recently had she begun to relearn their nuances. The shallowest of synaptic net dives provided a wealth of data on the topic, and subtle lines of inquiry with the many people passing through Seventh Heaven provided even more.

No, she cared for Vincent, but she was not in love with him.

“Bring up the files on AVALANCHE,” she intoned to the computer. Not a proper net dive –she didn’t have the equipment available for that here - just a review of information already downloaded. The holoscreens flickered, text scrolling steadily down one side as pictures flashed on the other.

Though Vincent had said nothing on the matter, comments made by Cid Highwind and Yuffie Kisaragi had led her to believe he was waiting for her. Such a situation could not be endured. She would not be able to return those feelings, no matter how many years passed.

If she allowed this to continue, in the end, she truly would become his Lucrecia Crescent.

Thus, she decided to act.

……………………..

Yuffie had been the first to spring to mind.

“Miss Kisaragi left a message for you,” Shelke informed the gunman without greeting, glowing eyes tracking him as he entered the private dining room above Seventh Heaven.

Vincent made a small sound of acknowledgement, but made no move towards the phone, instead placing a small package carefully on the counter. It looked like it had come from a bakery. At her inquisitive look, he explained, “Marlene.”

Understanding, Shelke nodded. Barret Wallace’s adopted daughter was not shy about demanding compensation for time spent away. Shelke had yet to decide whether this was a ploy to acquire treats or a disincentive for people to leave in the first place.

She blinked when a similar, though slightly smaller package, was placed in front her a moment later. With an inquisitive glance, she opened it to find a small assortment of chocolate cookies.

It was a terribly kind gesture, and she had certainly developed a taste for these particular delicacies. Yet the sight of them now made her heart drop. “You shouldn’t have.” Then, because Tifa had been reminding her of long-forgotten manners, added a reluctant, “Thank you.”

Vincent inclined his head slightly and said nothing of it. Shelke bit into one cookie, chewing pensively. Regardless of their potential meaning, the chocolate was still sweet on her tongue. After a long moment, she asked, “Aren’t you going to return the call?”

“It’s of no great importance,” Vincent remarked dryly. Crimson eyes surveyed her across the table, though his expression was largely hidden by the collar of his cloak. “You have another appointment at the WRO this afternoon.”

Shelke nodded, and sighed. “I will be pleased when the treatments are no longer necessary.” Though they had managed to reduce the frequency over time, the regular trips to the WRO’s research facilities remained a nuisance.

“I’ll accompany you,” he said.

“It is not necessary.” Yet she knew he would come anyway. Whenever he was in Edge, he did so without fail.

Any response he might have made was cut off by the trill of the phone. “That will be Miss Kisaragi, no doubt.” She gave Vincent a pointed look.

This time, his golden gauntlet reached for the phone, delicately holding it up to his ear. “Yes?”

The tinny tones of Yuffie Kisaragi echoed through the receiver. Shelke picked up her box of cookies and quietly made her way to her room.

Like any good mission, reconnaissance was everything.

Her personal computer was nothing nearly so advanced as the unit she’d used on board the Shera, but she had long ago hacked into the Communications Network with it. It was a small matter to listen in on the phone conversation in the next room without detection, and she wasted not a moment doing so.

“Viiiincent,” the Wutai Princess dragged the word out into a whine. “You haven’t been answering your phone!”

“Oh?” The word was neutral. Only someone who knew Vincent Valentine well would have picked up on the slight hint of amusement.

“Don’t ‘oh’ me. I must have called you like a gazillion times!”

“Was it important?”

“Super-important! I got a tip on some cool treasure! I’m heading out this afternoon. You’ve gotta come! It’s going to be totally awesome.”

“I already have plans. You’ll have to manage on your own.”

Shelke frowned. That was not how she wanted to hear things go at all. This boded poorly for her plan.

Her plan, of course, being: Find Vincent a new target for his devotion.

Of course, she could have simply told Vincent straight out that she could never return his feelings. But she knew Vincent Valentine well, and suspected that even if she made her position clear, he was unlikely to move on. Lucrecia Crescent had married Hojo, after all, and his devotion had not faltered a bit.

It was an integral part of Vincent’s personality. She could no more convince him to change it than she could ask him to grow an extra arm.

Though perhaps in his case, that metaphor was less than perfect.

Somehow, Yuffie’s pout was as obvious over the phone as it was in person. “You’re no fun.”

“If that’s all…?”

Finding someone to take her place was the best way. Shelke did, after all, care for him. She wanted him to be happy. To do something for him, after everything he’d done for her.

The problem was, she couldn't simply set Vincent up with just anyone - he was a deeply private individual, and his trust was a slow thing earned. Unfortunately, that limited her choices almost entirely to AVALANCHE.

Hence the reconnaissance.

The connection cut. Shelke cut the tap just as quickly. She waited precisely two and a half minutes before returning to the kitchen – it wouldn’t do to draw undue suspicion to herself, after all.

“You’re finished?” she asked.

Vincent nodded.

“And what did Miss Kisaragi want?”

“The usual,” was the low response.

“You’re not going?” she pressed.

Vincent shook his head, and seemed unbothered by it.

She was saved from attempting to formulate a counterargument when his phone beeped. With a flick of his red cloak, he withdrew the device – small, sleek, and black. A relatively new model, though the movement of his gloved hand was practiced as he opened his messages.

After a beat, he said, “It’s Cloud.”

Shelke made a point of fixing herself a cup of tea. “And what does he want?”

“It sounds as though he’s found a new mutation of one of the local monsters inside Midgar. Wants to know if I’d like a look at it.” The phone snapped shut, disappearing back into the fathomless depths of Vincent’s ragged cloak. “I’m sorry. I won’t be able to come along to your appointment after all.”

“I said before, it is not necessary,” she stated blandly.

Vincent inclined his head. “I’ll see you later.” Then with the barest breath of air, the kitchenette was empty again.

Shelke wrapped her hands around her mug of tea and returned to her room. As she took another cookie, she glanced at the clock. She would have to leave for her appointment soon. Her thoughts, however, were occupied quite differently.

That Vincent would ditch Yuffie, yet still accept a much more casual invitation from Cloud, did not bode well for her plan. It appeared Yuffie would not work for her purposes at all.

That was unfortunate.

But Shelke was, if nothing else, industrious. Time for Plan B.

…………………

Plan B was Tifa Lockhart.

During the day Seventh Heaven functioned more like a diner than a proper bar. In the afternoons, between the lunch rush and evening crowd, Tifa could normally be found wiping down the counters and organising stock and keeping an eye out for the occasional customer. Sometimes Marlene and Denzel would sit at one of the tables doing homework or drawing or playing card games. Other members of AVALANCHE – or at least, whoever happened to be present in Edge at the time – would wander in and out, sometimes to visit, sometimes just on their way through.

Shelke chose her favourite spot – a booth in the corner by the front windows, where the warm afternoon sunlight would stream in and she could keep an eye on the whole bar. She settled down with a mug of a hot tea and a book of poetry she had no real intention of reading.

This was where she went to people-watch. Or eavesdrop, as the case often was.

The door jingled. “Tifa!” a familiar voice yelled out. Yuffie bounded into the bar with a remarkable lack of stealth for a supposed ninja. “I brought the stuff you ordered!” She popped back outside and started hauling in a crate of bottles nearly as big as she was. “Oof!”

“Yuffie! Here, let me get that.” Tifa hurried over and took half the load, manoeuvring it towards the bar. “I didn’t think you were bringing it yourself.”

“And let someone else pick up the fee?” She sounded scandalised at the mere thought.

Tifa gave her an amused look. “I can’t pay you in materia anymore. Cloud’s not willing to part with what he has left.”

“Psh, I’ll just use the money to buy it.”

Tifa cracked open the crate, plucking out several bottles of Wutai spirits and turning them in her hands with an approving smile. “Oh, not stealing it anymore?”

Yuffie pouted. “Vincent won’t let me.”

“Because it’s wrong,” Tifa prodded with a knowing look.

“You guys stole stuff too!”

The conversation devolved into familiar argument from there. Shelke watched over the top of her book.

The bell on the door jingled once more. It was one of the more familiar faces to pass under it. Clad entirely in black, with blond spiky hair, and a sword nearly as large as Shelke slung on his back.

“Cloud!” Yuffie called with a wide grin, echoed by Marlene and Denzel from their table.

He nodded at them, glowing blue eyes skating across the bar to rest on her before nodding again. She managed a small smile and returned the gesture, pleased to have been noticed. She had an understanding with Cloud, after all. She, and Vincent, and Red XIII. Those who had lost years of their lives to mako and experiments.

She turned her eyes back to her book as Cloud took a seat by the bar. Tifa threw a ready-made sandwich in front of him, leftovers from the lunch the rest of them had eaten hours ago. He took it with a quiet thanks.

Cloud’s attention had drawn Yuffie’s to her. The ninja waved at her with a wide grin. Shelke gave another small smile back, and raised her book. Yuffie took the hint that she was busy, and bounced over to where Marlene and Denzel were scratching away at their homework. Excited chatter and laughter filled the previously quiet bar.

“Want some more?” Tifa asked, appearing at her elbow with a freshly steaming tea pot and a warm expression.

Shelke nodded mutely and held out her cup.

"Don't you want to join them?" she asked, sliding into the seat opposite.

"I felt like quiet, today," she replied. If her tonal variation sounded a little more flat than usual, well, Shelke never trained for this kind of espionage. Lying didn’t come naturally.

At Tifa’s doubtful expression, she defended, “I may still look nine years old, but I am much closer to nineteen, Tifa Lockhart.”

“Nothing wrong with wanting to reclaim a little bit of childhood,” was the steady rejoinder.

Shelke took a sip of her tea, thoughts already working on how to broach the intended subject.

Tifa was nice, and understanding, and mature. She was attractive, and strong, and reasonably smart.

But the question Shelke needed to answer - was she available? She and Cloud seemed close. They had separate rooms, but Shelke wasn’t so naïve as to recognise that there might be more to their relationship than met the eye. Besides, the others talked.

Perhaps here, at least, direct was best.

“Are you dating Cloud Strife?” she asked.

Tifa blinked. “What brought that on all of a sudden?”

She shrugged. Social subtlety was a skill she had yet to reclaim.

Her gaze turned knowing again. “Have a bit of a crush?”

“No,” she answered, completely truthful.

Tifa apparently didn’t believe her, though, because her smile simply widened. “Well, we’re not, though I don’t blame people for thinking so. We’re close, but that’s different to dating. Do you understand?” It didn’t sound patronising – Tifa had a way with words, and she was always very conscious of the fact that Shelke had missed out on a normal adolescence, and that some things she considered common knowledge weren’t necessarily. A side effect from dealing with Cloud, perhaps.

Belatedly, Shelke gave an obligatory smile. “I understand. It is… surprising to hear, though. Miss Kisaragi led me to think you were interested.”

That earned a blush, though it was fleeting. “I was younger then. We’re both very different people now.” She leaned forward. “And between you and me,” Tifa said in a conspiratorial whisper, “I think Aerith letting him infiltrate the Honeybee Inn on his own was a mistake.” She gave her a cheeky wink.

Shelke’s smile this time was entire reflexive. The Don Corneo story was regularly broken out at AVALANCHE gatherings, much to Cloud’s eternal displeasure.

“So you’re single?” she asked, just to confirm.

Tifa’s grin grew mysterious. “As far as anyone here knows.” And then she stood and headed back to unpacking the crate of bottles from Wutai.

Shelke’s heart sank as surely as it had when Vincent gave her the cookies. One of the Turks, perhaps? It didn’t escape her notice that they came by regularly, and that the bald one lingered at the bar, always closest to Tifa.

The door jingled again, and Barret Wallace’s thundering tones followed. Her gaze wandered back towards the bar. Seventh Heaven was growing noisy now, but one small pocket of calm remained, quietly eating a sandwich.

Cloud Strife.

Cloud Strife, who Vincent had brushed off her appointment to assist. Cloud Strife, who Vincent trusted more than any other. Cloud Strife, who understood what it meant to be an experiment, who was strong and quiet and mature.

Cloud Strife, who, she had just learned, was not dating Tifa Lockhart after all.

Shelke snapped her book shut, and hurried to her room.





Next chapter

Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
sinnatious
Jul. 22nd, 2014 03:39 pm (UTC)
LOL well in fair warning I doubt there will be no angst, considering, but it's all a bit too stupid to take too seriously. :) Oh dear, please keep your expectations low! Glad you like it so far though~

(Anonymous)
Jul. 22nd, 2014 02:41 pm (UTC)
oooh, glad I decided to stop by here today! Vincent/Cloud isn't my ship usually, but I think if you can make me ship Genesis/Cloud, you can probably make me ship this twice as much. *o* Hah. Looking pretty good on that so far!

Looking forward to the rest of the fic! Thanks for sharing.
sinnatious
Jul. 22nd, 2014 03:41 pm (UTC)
Ha well conversion isn't the goal! But thank you for taking a chance on it regardless of your shipping preferences. :)
caterfree10
Jul. 22nd, 2014 03:17 pm (UTC)
I'll admit, I don't read Cloud/Vincent too often, but I'm already looking forward to this. That and I don't get enough cracky fic in my life so I can't wait to read more. :>
sinnatious
Jul. 22nd, 2014 03:44 pm (UTC)
Not too sure how good I am at crack but hope it will satisfy~ :)
(Deleted comment)
sinnatious
Jul. 23rd, 2014 03:16 am (UTC)
LOL it's only 7 chapters, not really enough time for anything epic. But I appreciate your maniacal optimism!
lenine2
Jul. 22nd, 2014 09:11 pm (UTC)
Hooray, a new fic!

ETA: This is particularly cool because I just came across the cutscenes from Dirge and finished watching on Sunday. I can picture Shelke and Vincent so much better now, especially Shelke and her glowing eyes.

It also turned me into a Reeve fan.

Edited at 2014-07-22 10:18 pm (UTC)
sinnatious
Jul. 23rd, 2014 03:16 am (UTC)
There really isn't enough Reeve fanfic out there, is there? I had this issue after Dirge.

Dirge had some pretty cheesy cutscenes though didn't it? I liked a lot of it but oh god I cringed and laughed a little at that last one with all the split screen cheering on. XD Didn't really fit with the utter darkness of the rest of it.
lenine2
Jul. 23rd, 2014 03:50 am (UTC)
I skipped an awful lot of it. The plot got too boring. I wanted to like Shalua, but what the hell was going on with her outfit?

Rosso - UGH. And I started to count the number of times the bad guys said "So... we meet again!"

Still, the scenes with Vincent, Chaos and Reeve were worth slogging through it.
sinnatious
Jul. 23rd, 2014 05:53 am (UTC)
Shalua is like design-by-committee. She has the robot arm and eye thing and lab coat, but then stilettos and hooker outfit?

Ahaha the villains really were so awful. The Rosso vs Cloud fight was cool in terms of 'yay fight scene' but also I had a hard time taking it seriously because Rosso was soooo not a threat after Sephiroth.

Hey, at least you didn't play the game! Honestly I didn't actually finish the game, got a little over halfway then youtubed the rest. :/
lenine2
Jul. 23rd, 2014 01:46 pm (UTC)
Every time Weiss did his maniacal laughter thing I thought of Harvey Korman in Blazing Saddles.
axilet
Jul. 23rd, 2014 03:57 am (UTC)
Yes! You're writing multi-chaptered fic again! :D

I don't ship Cloud/Vincent, but then I didn't ship Cloud/Genesis once upon a time, either ;) Though if it's anyone who needs some crack fluffy romance times to cheer up the eternal angstfest that is their lives, it's Cloud and Vincent ;)
sinnatious
Jul. 23rd, 2014 05:54 am (UTC)
Haha you can blame giftfics for all the one-shots.

I doubt this fic will convert you but I hope you enjoy it regardless!
ashoakandthorn
Jul. 23rd, 2014 11:49 pm (UTC)
Whoo! Rom com! This will be fun.
ratzels
Jul. 24th, 2014 03:53 am (UTC)
Ahahahaha this will be awesome.

I don't actively ship these two, but I can certainly see the appeal. And now, so can Shelke. XD
sinnatious
Jul. 24th, 2014 04:57 pm (UTC)
Shelke is really just a stand-in for fandom in general right? XD
aori_tsuki
Jul. 24th, 2014 09:22 am (UTC)
Oooh, Vincent/Cloud? Like you, this pair was my original ship too when I played FFVII back in the day. Angsty guys with Nomura's pretty boy style and it was an instant winner for me after Vincent's recruitment. Damn, now do I feel old.

Can't wait to see the rest of this fic! We need more rom-com cracky plots here, and the mention of Rude/Tifa made me smile like crazy. Shelke is undeniably adorable! And...Lucrecia. Man, there's so many issues with her (for me) that I don't see why Vincent is still stuck with her, DoC be damned. It'll be interesting to see how you resolved Vincent's infatuation with her here, especially with Shelke essentially being a Lucrecia 2.0 for Vincent. Maybe. Idk, maybe we'll get an answer if Squenix makes a FFVII remake -_-

On another note, I'm...at episode 2 Mekaku City Actors. I'm surprised the original concept came from Vocaloids and actually spawned a series, but so far it's interesting enough to keep my attention! So far it seems like they're jumping between plot points from episode 1 and 2, but it could only serve as a catalyst on Shintaro's misadventures with terrorist, right? With...Momo involved...alright, everything is going to turn dark, is it?! That's like, the theme for the animes released this season. At least MCA has decent music?

(Also, I'm so calling the eventual 5th Act/Fallacious Deity/Beloved crossover on the Christmas drabbles. Crossover with all your FFVII writing, indeed!)
sinnatious
Jul. 24th, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC)
Ahaha I know what you mean, when I think back to the PS1 days... I mean, we're on PS4 now.

Oh nice, you're watching it! Plot jumps allll over the place, it makes sense eventually but you do kind of have to think about it. Has a bit of the old Fridge brilliance to it.

(Oh god my brain hurts trying to even make that work, you cruel cruel people XD)
aori_tsuki
Jul. 26th, 2014 12:31 am (UTC)
Man, it's really been that long since the PS1 era, huh? It's amazing how the graphics went for pixelated to whole 3D renderings while the stories remain the same at its core XD Good ole Squenix!

Well, as long as it makes me think instead of me staring dumbly at my screen, the series will have my interest ;D Are you watching anything else atm? I wanna drag you into a few other series as well!

(I shoulda specified calling that someone will be brave enough to prompt that C: Man, your multi-verse is growing bigger with each passing year!)
sinnatious
Jul. 27th, 2014 06:24 am (UTC)
Just Sailor Moon Crystal right now. I gave Haikyuu a bit of a spin because I'd been craving a decent sports anime but it got much too generic/formulaic much too fast. :/

Ahaha probably! Giftfics have been getting dangerously meta lately.
qem_chibati
Jul. 24th, 2014 10:51 am (UTC)
*dolphin noises*

Ahh, this is a really interesting start - the authors note + summary sounds epic. XD

I love how Shelke's come to her conclusion for matchmaking. Completely logical choice! :D
sinnatious
Jul. 24th, 2014 05:20 pm (UTC)
Heh, don't get your expectations too high! But I hope you'll like it regardless. :)
(Anonymous)
Mar. 27th, 2016 03:31 am (UTC)
I wanted to wait until I was on a proper Vincent/Cloud mood to read this. Now I am! And this is ready! And finished!

I really like how you tackle Shelke's character, and the dynamics in the groups she observes so easily.

Also, yeah, moving on from Lucretia can only be healthy!
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )