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Optimal Scenario, File 3.0

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: Has it been a week already? Kind of an odd chapter, hard to find a place to break it cleanly. Pacing is all over the place with this fic.


File 1.0
File 2.0


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

File 3.0

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Shelke kept watch while Yuffie picked the door’s lock with a pair of pins she apparently normally kept in her hair.

“If this is going to work, we have to do it while he’s in the shower,” Yuffie explained. “Otherwise his Pre-Emptive materia will warn him before we do anything. I haven’t been able to steal anything from him in months, and my Steal materia is mastered,” she lamented. “So we have to get that for sure. Oh! And we’ll need to make sure we get his Ribbon too, or it won’t work. Even then, you’re lucky most of my materia is mastered – anything less and he’ll shrug it off in a matter of minutes. Damn cheating SOLDIERs,” she added under her breath. The lock sprung. “Score! C’mon, c’mon, we’ve gotta hurry.”

They hustled into the room. It was a mirror copy of theirs, two beds, crimson carpet and curtains, and gaudy chandeliers strewn with fake cobwebs. Behind the closed door of the bathroom Shelke could hear the falling cascade of water. Yuffie pressed a green materia into her hands and grabbed her yellow. “We gotta be fast, you ready?”

Shelke nodded, already warming her cast.

Yuffie threw open the door and yanked open the shower curtain in one smooth motion. Shelke’s spell struck Cloud in the back. He crumpled under the shower spray.

“Yessss!” Yuffie fist pumped. “I wasn’t actually sure if it was going to work! Those crazy SOLDIER reflexes of his are unreal. Careful not to wake him up. If he sees it was us, we’re ruined.”

“Sleep spells are not so easily broken,” Shelke informed her flatly. “If it were an entirely natural sleep, Seal materia wouldn’t be of any use. But you should still hurry. We can’t be sure how long it will last on the mako enhanced.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Yuffie rifled through the pile of black clothes on the floor. “Aha!” She withdrew a mastered purple materia. “I guess I’d better the leave the others or he’ll get suspicious…” She cast a long, appreciative glance over his sleeping form. Water dripped from his blond spikes onto his bare chest. “Gawd, it’s been ages since I’ve seen this. It’s so unfair,” she complained. “How the heck did Tifa let a body like that get away from her?”

Shelke spared a glance at Cloud’s sprawled form. “He has a swordsman’s physique,” she dismissed. “And he’s mako enhanced. It’s hardly surprising.”

“You’re not embarrassed at all, are you? I have to keep reminding myself you’re almost my age.”

“It’s illogical to be embarrassed.” Shelke reached over and turned off the water. While the Sleep spell wasn’t that delicate, external stimulus could still rouse him early. “Are you done?”

“Wait, it’s here somewhere… got it!” She withdrew a thin red ribbon from his clothes. “Now what, should we move him? He’s kinda heavy, but you’ve got mako enhancements too, right?”

Shelke tilted her head, considering. Cloud remained slumped in the bathtub, skin flush and glistening from the shower, one arm draped almost artistically over the side, water dripping from the tips of his fingers. Yuffie’s earlier comments had given her an idea. “It is a rather… nice view, isn’t it? Maybe we should leave him.”

“But – ohhhh, I see where you’re going with this.” Yuffie’s grin was truly wicked. “Will it hold long enough do you think?”

Shelke powered up the materia once more. “I think we can afford to take that chance.”

………………..

Vincent paused when he entered the hotel room. Cloud had headed back early to clean up after the Battle Arena, so he’d expected him to be here. Had he left again already?

The lights were on, though, and the bathroom door stood partially ajar. The sound of dripping water and the faint, steady draw of breath could be heard within. “Cloud?” he asked.

No response. Vincent pushed open the door.

A dishevelled heap of black clothes and belts were scattered on the tiled floor. The shower curtain was thrown back, revealing Cloud sprawled naked in the bathtub, head resting against the wall, eyes closed. Water weighed down his spikes, framing his face, the lingering steam in the bathroom flushing his cheeks faintly rose.

It made… a very fine picture.

It wasn’t as though AVALANCHE hadn’t seen each other in various states of undress before. Sharing tents and budget rooms at backwater inns left little room for modesty. But this was… somewhat sensual, and for the first time in a very long time, Vincent found himself struggling to avert his gaze.

Had Cloud fallen asleep in the bath? The water was drained, though. There had been a period of time, recovering from both mako poisoning and later Geostigma, where Cloud would sometimes space out on them from anywhere from minutes to half a day. He’d always gone to great lengths to hide it, though. If it were still happening…

Now faintly alarmed, Vincent reached out with his normal hand and lightly shook his bare shoulder.

His eyelashes fluttered at the movement, and then glazed, sleepy glowing eyes opened a sliver. “Vincent?” he slurred.

He was fine. “Cloud. Fall asleep?”

Cloud blinked, looking around the bathroom in confusion. “…I guess so.” He pushed himself up, bracing against the wall for leverage. “Sorry. Thanks for waking me.”

Vincent handed him a towel and left him to get dressed. The room creaked and groaned, lights periodically flickering for effect. Dio was apparently forever upgrading the Gold Saucer.

Cloud emerged only a moment later, wearing pants but no shirt, towelling his hair dry. “Have you seen my Ribbon anywhere?”

Grateful for the distraction – though careful not to show it – Vincent scanned the room. “No. Did you misplace it?”

Cloud shrugged. “It’ll turn up. It probably blends in with the red carpet.” He draped the towel around his shoulders and sat on the bed. “I guess I should turn in early tonight then. Are you going out again?”

“I had no plans to. I believe Tifa and Barret are taking Denzel and Marlene to the Event Square, and Shelke and Yuffie went shopping. I… opted out.”

“We would go days without sleep in AVALANCHE, but a regular day at the Gold Saucer with Denzel and Marlene is enough to tire you out,” Cloud agreed. “I feel a little bad, though. Tifa and Barret should have time to enjoy themselves too.”

“They seem to prefer it this way,” Vincent commented.

“And Shelke and Yuffie?”

“They also appear to be having fun.”

“Hm. Shelke’s doing okay then? Tifa was worried it might a little overwhelming.”

“And you weren’t?” Vincent asked. His gaze skipped to Cloud’s bare chest and away again. If he weren’t embarrassed about being discovered in the shower, there was no reason for Vincent to be.

Cloud tossed his towel over the back of a wrought-iron chair painted with fake blood splatters. “Shelke’s far tougher than I would be in her position. She has her identity sorted out, for one.”

“That particular issue was taken care of during the Deepground uprising,” Vincent agreed. It had been harrowing, even so. “Our main concern is the emotional component. She’s gone without for so long.”

“We all learned to bury our emotions,” Cloud said. “That was the only way to survive. But that doesn’t mean they ever go away.”

There was truth to that. “…I suppose it’s more a matter of allowing herself to acknowledge them again.”

“Yeah,” Cloud said. “And not just Shelke, either.”

Vincent chose not to comment on that.

AVALANCHE usually granted him the position of the most observant of their crew, and they were usually right. But Vincent often thought they all vastly underestimated Cloud.

………………..

“I can’t believe you actually had the nerve to bug their room,” Yuffie said, and even to Shelke’s untrained ears she sounded approving. “Aren’t you worried about Vincent spotting it?”

“Normally, yes. But these rooms already possess sensors, to activate the atmospheric effects. It made my additions simple to camouflage,” Shelke explained.

“You really are super smart with computer stuff, huh?” Yuffie asked. “It doesn’t bother you when they talk about you?”

“They didn’t say anything they haven’t said to my face before. And in our position, it would be hypocritical to complain.”

“I guess.” Yuffie peered at the tiny video screen. It had been an interesting challenge to configure her PHS to receive the signal – Shelke’s speciality had been in software rather than hardware. “But wow, Vincent plays it cool. I mean, after that sort of eyeful? Cloud can be a moody bastard sometimes but he’s hot, if it were me I totally would have jumped him then and there.”

“You managed to restrain yourself in the bathroom,” Shelke observed.

“Because we were on a mission. Also, it would be weird, you know? After everything.” She tilted her head. “Maybe that’s Vincent’s problem. We’ve got to get them less comrade-y and more lovey-dovey, you know? Get them holding hands. Now sure how, though. Those guys are like allergic to casual contact.”

Shelke tapped her chin in thought. “I may have an idea for that.”

………………..

‘NEW HIGH SCORE! ENTER YOUR NAME INTO THE HALL OF FAME!’

Music blared from the snowboarding mini-game, a wall of sound assaulting his ears from all sides. Cloud’s lips quirked into the slightest of smiles. He’d missed snowboarding – maybe next time Barret organised one of these outings they could go to the Northern Continent. Simulations were fun, but nothing matched the real thing. Marlene and Denzel wouldn’t have seen snow before either - they would enjoy it.

As he turned to go to another game, darkness descended across his vision without warning. Cloud staggered back, turning his head, instinctively searching out a source of light… but nothing. He held his hand up to his face to stare at his palm.

Still nothing. Not even the faint shine of reflected mako from his eyes.

It wasn’t a blackout. He was blind.

“Cloud?” Vincent’s familiar baritone caught his ears. Close.

“Vincent. I can’t see.” He clawed at his face, reflexively trying to pull away whatever had stolen his sight. Something metal caught his right hand in a vice-like grip – only when another gloved hand grabbed his left did he recognise it as Vincent’s gauntlet.

“Don’t. Your eyes are black. It looks like someone cast Darkness on you.”

“Darkness?” It took him a long moment to process that. Then… “Dammit. I never should have told Yuffie I was looking for my Ribbon.” That, in retrospect, had been a stupid move. Of course she would prank him the instant she found out.

“You still haven’t found it?”

“No. Maybe I left it back in Edge.” It had been part of his ensemble for so long he couldn’t even remember taking it on or off anymore – it was automatic, practically muscle memory. But the morning of their departure for the Gold Saucer had been a little chaotic, and the disruption to his routine might have made him skip a few steps by accident. “It’s probably sitting on my desk back home,” he sighed.

“Hm.” Vincent steered him to the right – presumably away from the crowds at the Speed Square. Gradually, the disorienting cacophony fell behind them. “Do you have a Heal materia with you?”

“No.” He hadn’t needed to cast Esuna for years. Ribbon always took care of it.

“The store in the Ghost Square might stock some eye drops. I’ll lead you.” Vincent grabbed his hand and tugged gently on it.

Cloud shuffled along after him, their pace gradually increasing as he grew more confident. He consciously relaxed his grip on Vincent’s hand, worried about crushing it, but Vincent merely tightened his hold in turn. “Thanks. The others…?”

“Tifa and Barret are with the children. I assume Yuffie made herself scarce in case of retribution,” Vincent reassured him. “There are stairs here, watch your step.”

“Right.” Once he found the first one with Vincent’s guidance it was easy enough to follow the uneven path, a childhood spent scampering up the slopes of Mt Nibel lending his feet a surety his head couldn’t provide.

The air grew gradually cooler, and the distant chitter of recorded bats and howls of wolves began to reach their ears. They’d arrived at the Ghost Square, then. Vincent slowed to a stop – Cloud very nearly ran into him, arms brushing against a velvety fabric that felt weirdly liquid. Vincent’s cape, he guessed. Vincent guided his hand to a cold, grainy surface – most likely one of the fake tombstones in the graveyard.

“Will you be fine waiting here? The store is just ahead.”

“Yeah. Do you need any gil?”

“No. I’ll be right back.”

There was the barest shuffle of fabric, like a breath of wind in the trees, and Cloud instinctively sensed Vincent had gone. He clutched the fake tombstone a little harder.

It was no big deal, really. He’d been hit by just about all the various materia before, back when AVALANCHE was just starting out and they were an undisciplined, poorly-equipped mess of amateur eco-terrorists on the run. But it had always been out in the field, in the middle of nowhere, and his other senses had been more than enough to compensate until it either wore off or someone got the chance to cast an Esuna. The Gold Saucer, however, was an all-out assault on the senses, from atmospheric music piped through all the attractions, to passing families and crowds, to the clanging of mini-game stations.

Cloud rubbed at his eyes with his free hand in frustration.

“Are they bothering you?”

He jerked, head swivelling towards the voice. Vincent was back already? “I just forgot how annoying Status materia can be,” he muttered. “Did they have any eye drops?”

“You’re in luck – apparently they only started stocking them recently. Hold still.”

Cloud waited uncertainly. The cool metal of Vincent’s gauntlet caught his chin, tilting his head upwards – his other hand brushing his hair gently out the way.

“Don’t blink,” he murmured, and Cloud could feel the breath of air from the words against his face, he was that close. Then a burst of what felt like icy water bloomed across his eyes. Cloud struggled to keep them open as his vision began to clear, the dark shadow cast across everything smearing into blurry colour.

Eventually he lost the battle, eyelids fluttering, blinking the tears and drops away. Vincent’s face swam into focus in front of him, crimson eyes so close he could see the tiny flecks of amber within them.

Vincent ran his thumb across his right cheek – wiping away the wet tracks the drops left on his face. Cloud froze in place, transfixed and uncertain of what to do.

A group of children ran past, screaming gleefully at the holographic ghosts in the fake graveyard. The moment broke, and they stepped apart.

“Thanks,” Cloud muttered, wiping the rest of his face clean. An awkward silence lingered between them. “…Do you want to go to the Chocobo Arena? I think I’ll steer clear of the Speed Square for a while.”

Vincent just gestured for Cloud to lead the way.





Next chapter


Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
firedraygon97
Aug. 5th, 2014 08:04 am (UTC)
Yessssss, more FFVII fic! And Vincent/Cloud, wow. I like this pairing, but good fic for it comes by rarely.

As always, you know how I like it when you integrate the mechanics of gameplay into the story. Preemptive materia, Ribbon, Darkness, etc. Can't wait to see what else you have in store for poor Cloud, haha. <3
sinnatious
Aug. 5th, 2014 05:52 pm (UTC)
<3 It's my favourite thing, as you may have guessed. Happy you're reading!
eve_tenshi
Aug. 5th, 2014 12:37 pm (UTC)
Oh Cloud, you're making it too easy for them! Don't just go accepting everything that happens to you! Be more suspicious XD Thanks for the new chapter!
sinnatious
Aug. 5th, 2014 05:53 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, thanks for commenting!
eatsyourface
Aug. 5th, 2014 01:16 pm (UTC)
Oh man I was so excited to see this fic! This is hilarious and adorable!
sinnatious
Aug. 5th, 2014 05:53 pm (UTC)
<3 Thanks!
(Deleted comment)
sinnatious
Aug. 5th, 2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
Shelke is a problem solver. :P
lenine2
Aug. 5th, 2014 08:07 pm (UTC)
Shelke's online romance novels are paying off!

(Anonymous)
Aug. 5th, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC)
YES this is great - they are starting to clue in on the sexual tension! Though as far as cluing in goes, Vincent's Turk senses must be tingling in a "alert-fangirls-conspiring-to-manipulate-your-sex-life" kind of way... (the fangirls being Shelke and Yuffie, of course... ;)

*just an lj-less lurker here; found act v - def one of the best ff7 fics out there - on ao3, then promptly devoured all of your other ff7 fics here on lj. Just wanted to say that reading your stuff is a pleasure - the prose is fluid and natural, the humor deftly woven in, and plot well anchored and developed for your longfics. PLEASE KEEP IT COMING =D =D

Also, "It's illogical to be embarassed" = perfect Shelke!
sinnatious
Aug. 6th, 2014 04:52 am (UTC)
Welcome and thanks! I wouldn't say this has much in the way of plot (and is barely a longfic), but glad you're enjoying it so far~ Hope you keep reading!
caterfree10
Aug. 5th, 2014 11:24 pm (UTC)
EEEEEE More gameplay and story integration! I love it! *flails everywhere*

This chapter was also kawaii as hell. At the same time I kind of want to knock Vincent and Cloud's heads together so they realize they could have a really good thing. (I know it's coming, I'm just impatient as hell.) Then again, I really should always expect this considering my shipping tendencies half the time so. |D;

I feel u Yuffie re: Cloud's good looks. so much.
sinnatious
Aug. 6th, 2014 04:53 am (UTC)
Haha three chapters in and you're already so impatient! Good thing this isn't a very long fic. :P Thanks!

Yuffie pretty much says what everyone is privately thinking, which is what makes her great.
caterfree10
Aug. 6th, 2014 05:09 am (UTC)
I am perfectly innocent, I swears! 0>8D Though to be fair, I'm often impatient for the promised pairings in a lot of fics I read, so this is nothing new. ^^;;

This is very true. Yet another reason Yuffie is one of the best characters ever tbh.
ratzels
Aug. 6th, 2014 12:47 am (UTC)
Wet, naked Cloud is definitely appealing. XD I'll nth the love for integrating gameplay mechanics into story. I look forward to seeing how this charming farce will play out.
sinnatious
Aug. 6th, 2014 04:53 am (UTC)
<3
(Anonymous)
Mar. 27th, 2016 05:02 am (UTC)
There's no way Vincent hasn't caught on by now.


Still adorable, though!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )