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Optimal Scenario, File 4.0

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: Probably not going to be able to update on Tuesday for exciting reasons, so here, have the chapter early!  Why do I even bother with a schedule, really, it all gets thrown to the winds after a fortnight.


File 1.0
File 2.0
File 3.0


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

File 4.0

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



Shelke and Yuffie stood by one of the many mini-game vendors inside the Gold Saucer – some sort of throwing-ball competition that didn’t stand a chance against someone who could throw a shuriken and hit a moving target a hundred paces away.

“The Darkness trick yesterday went pretty well, I thought,” Yuffie offered.

It did, but Shelke was far from satisfied. There had been no progress since – the two had quickly fallen back into their familiar patterns. “It’s not enough.”

Yuffie tossed another ball at the machine. It dinged cheerily with her fifth bulls-eye in a row. “Yeah! Take that! Hey, hey you! I won a prize over here!” While the attendant made his way over, the ninja asked, “What are you thinking next then?”

Shelke considered it. Their time at the Gold Saucer was rapidly running out, and with it the rare opportunity of Vincent and Cloud sharing a – seemingly – private room. “I think it is time to acquire some more specialised supplies.”

Yuffie grinned as she accepted the oversized stuffed cactuar, glancing over with a manic glint in her eye that had the attendant rapidly backpedalling. “We’re actually going to do it? Cloud might really kill us this time, you know.”

“We have no choice. If they continue to be stubborn, we need to be more overt.”

Yuffie threw her spare arm around Shelke’s shoulder and squeezed her tight. “You are my long-lost soulmate in pranking. Come on! I saw something perfect backstage at the Event Square.”

Shelke tilted her head in contemplation. “Backstage? Will we be able to purchase it?”

“Details! Trust me, when you’re an amazing ninja Princess from Wutai, you can get your hands on anything.”

………………..

Upon returning to the Haunted House Hotel that night, Vincent immediately sensed something amiss.

His gauntleted hand hovered over the door to the room. It was unlocked. If he looked closely, miniscule scratches decorated the edges of the inlay.

Yuffie’s handiwork, almost certainly.

It had been an unusual week at the Gold Saucer, the cause of which he’d been growing increasingly suspicious about. So it was with no small amount of trepidation that he opened the door and entered the hotel room.

Even forewarned, Vincent remained unprepared for the sight that greeted him.

Cloud sat on his bed, dressed in a frilly pale lavender dress with a boat neck and short poufy sleeves. It was edged and embroidered with dark purple lace and ribbon, ending at his knees and showing a white petticoat underneath. His legs were half-folded under him and clad in white stockings – his shoes, short heels adored with a bow on the toe. Around his neck rested a lacy choker, and blond ringlets framed his face – hair extensions attached with matching bows. And to top it all off, his hands and fingers were tied together in front of him with an intricate lace of violet ribbon, culminating in a bow across his bound wrists.

Vincent stalled in the doorway, unsure how to proceed, until ancient Turk training kicked in and bypassed the short-circuiting in his brain. That was when he finally noticed Cloud’s eyes. Framed in mascara and thick eyeliner, with a purple sheen that matched his clothes – but more importantly, glazed and vacant. His gaze tracked Vincent’s movement, but showed no sign of recognition.

It had been a long time since Vincent had seen this affliction, but he recognised it immediately. Confuse.

Cloud began to shift on the bed, stockinged legs sliding against the sheets as he rose to his knees. To do what was anyone’s guess – and not something Vincent could risk finding out.

In his pocket rested a small bag of Remedies – quietly purchased after the Darkness debacle. He slipped one of the pills into the palm of his gloved hand. Then, in a sudden whirl of crimson, leapt forward.

Cloud jerked back in response, but Vincent anticipated the move, adding to that momentum by pushing him flat against the mattress. He couldn’t risk a straight-out contest of strength – that was a battle he would lose. But with his hands bound and wits dulled, leverage was enough to keep the swordsman pinned.

He pressed down tight, trapping Cloud’s bound hands between them, and slipped a finger of his gauntlet’s between the blond’s teeth – the metal saving him from losing a finger to the reflexive snap as he nudged the Remedy past them. Then it was a matter of holding his mouth closed, gloved hand firmly pressed over Cloud’s lips as he struggled beneath him, until he finally swallowed.

He watched those mako-glowing eyes carefully, as the blank, unseeing stare cleared and fixed properly on his face. Tentatively, he removed his hand. “Cloud?”

“Vincent?” he replied, confused in the more traditional sense.

It was only then, with the danger past, that Vincent registered how close their faces were and the compromising nature of his position. He extracted himself swiftly, left standing awkwardly beside the bed as Cloud rose to his elbows.

“Why… oh Gaia, what the hell am I wearing?”

The struggle had ruffled Cloud’s hair extensions - the bows in his hair sat lopsided, not helped when their owner tugged on them in befuddlement. “Seems like you had Confuse cast on you.”

“Yuffie again?” Cloud swung his legs over the side of the bed, staring at his bow-adorned heels in disbelief.

“She should know better,” Vincent agreed. “You’re lucky I had a Remedy with me.” There had been a reason why AVALANCHE had voted on outfitting Cloud with Ribbon first, long before they’d tracked down enough for the rest of the team. While they each had fallen prey to Mystify materia one time for another, a rogue Scissor had caught Cloud on their first sojourn to the Northern Continent, and he’d very nearly wiped the rest of them out in the following skirmish. That time, Vincent had been forced to wing him with a bullet to bring him out of it.

“I think she must have cast Sleep first,” Cloud admitted. “I can’t remember clearly, but I’m pretty sure she ambushed me outside.” He held up his bound hands in consternation. “…A little help here?”

Vincent hesitated for half a breath, then took them and set to untying the bow, carefully unwrapping the intricate lattice trap of purple ribbon winding around Cloud’s fingers. “You can’t break it?”

“Not easily. If I can avoid having sore hands for the next hour, I’d rather you do it.”

It was some small measure of comfort that Yuffie had not simply left a Confused Cloud unattended in a hotel room without taking some safety precautions. “I wonder where she learned to do this.”

“I’m not sure I want to know.” Cloud tossed his head a little, attempting to get the hair extensions out of his face. “Where did she even get this stuff? The Gold Saucer isn’t exactly Midgar.”

Vincent unwound the last of the ribbon, leaving Cloud flexing his fingers and then heading towards the mirror. Vincent caught his gaze lingering on the lace choker, before he carefully directed it away again.

Cloud sighed heavily at his reflection. “At least she didn’t go overboard on the makeup.”

“You look nice,” Vincent offered in consolation.

Cloud gave him a dry stare in the mirror. “If you say so. It’s a little tight to be comfortable, though.” He glanced around. “Do you know where my clothes are?”

Vincent gave him an apologetic shrug. “She appears to have taken them all.” She’d been thorough – Cloud’s travel bag was missing, too.

“Of course she did.” Cloud tugged on his hair extensions irritably. “Fine, let’s go then.”

He turned on his heel, teetering briefly in the unfamiliar shoes. Vincent held out his arm for balance. Cloud took it, but within a few steps had mastered his footing and dropped it again. Vincent found himself strangely disappointed, but avoided examining that thought too closely.

It was a short walk through the empty halls of the Haunted House Hotel to Shelke and Yuffie’s room. Vincent ghosted after him. “I doubt she would wait in such an obvious place,” he advised.

“I know,” Cloud said, snatching a piece of paper from the front of the door. He held it up. It bore only two words.

‘EVENT SQUARE’.

Vincent barely had the chance to make sense of the message before Cloud had crumpled the paper in his hands and begun striding through the red carpeted halls once again.

“You’re going?”

“If she wants to embarrass me into hiding in my room, she’s going to be disappointed. I seduced Don Corneo once, as Tifa constantly reminds everyone.”

True to form, Cloud didn’t bat an eye at the curious – and occasionally lecherous – glances he earned as they made their way out of the Ghost Square. Vincent stayed close, regardless.

It took only a matter of minutes to make their way to the Event Square. No sooner than he and Cloud stepped past the entrance though, was he nearly blinded by light. Cymbals crashed and trumpets flared, backed by the cheers and clapping of the Event Square’s small but enthusiastic audience. “Aaaaaaand here we have a lucky couple! Come on down! Give them a hand everyone! Come on, don’t be shy!”

Odin,” Cloud cursed. “My luck cannot possibly be this bad.”

A pair of actors – one dressed as a witch, the other a knight – appeared by their side as though summoned by materia. “Oh wow, you both look fabulous, perfect, are you sure you’re not one of ours?” The witch gushed. “I’m just kidding, darling, but I love your taste.” It took Vincent a minute to realise she was addressing him as she patted his golden gauntlet.

“This way, this way.” The knight ushered them with uncanny speed backstage, into comforting darkness and comparative quiet. “We’ve got our hero and princess! Places, people!”

Hero and… princess?

Vincent glanced at Cloud. He supposed that to anybody who didn’t know the swordsman well, it would be difficult to spot. The frills and lace distracted the eye from the lack of bust, and the sleeves disguised his upper arm muscles admirably. He was slim, after all, and his facial features always had been somewhat… delicate.

Cloud, for his part, simply said, “Killing Yuffie would be too kind. I’m going to steal all of her materia and sell it to Rufus.”

Vincent wondered if he should say anything about his growing suspicions, but given the current situation, offered nothing. “What is this?”

“You’re going to go on stage, darling,” the witch said, and handed him what appeared to be a remarkably well-painted foam sword. He grasped it gingerly with his gauntlet.

“On… stage?” he asked. “To act?”

“Is this your first time to the Event Square, sweetie?” the witch asked. “Well, don’t worry, you’re going to be natural, I can tell. We’ll help you out if you get stuck!”

Lost, Vincent simply looked to Cloud again, who was currently being fussed over by one of the stage hands.

“Relax, I’ve done this before.” There was an air of suffering to Cloud’s voice. “It’s all improv, but it’s cliché. Just respond to whatever they prompt you with and you’ll be fine. It can be kind of fun, even. Trust me, it’s easier to just go along with it.”

Vincent didn’t have any further chance to protest before the knight herded him onstage, under the harsh, near-blinding glare of spotlights and a raucous explosion of trumpets. His gaze swept the audience, struggling to pick faces out of the darkness. Somewhere near the back, he thought he could spy Shelke and Yuffie.

A deep voice boomed over the speakers. “Princess Rosa was just kidnapped by the Evil Dragon King, Valvados! What will become of her? But when all hope was lost…” He paused dramatically as canned trumpets flared. “The legendary hero, Alfred, appears!”

Vincent stood in the middle of the vast stage. For one terrifying moment Hellmasker rose in his breast, before he tamped him back down with long years of experience. He’d not had an outbreak since the Omega incident – he wasn’t going to lose that record in front of a crowd.

The knight pirouetted on stage. “Oh, you must be the legendary hero… Alfred!”

Vincent turned to stare. The knight gestured at him. His line? “Yes.”

Simple, but it seemed to please the knight, as he dropped to his knees. “I beg of you, please save Princess Rosa!”

“Princess Rosa is capable of saving herself,” Vincent replied.

The knight shook his head fervently. “You know not the dark power of the Evil Dragon King Valvados! Please… talk to the King!”

Another actor came pirouetting on stage – this one wearing a crown and royal furred cloak. The crown looked plastic painted gold, up close. “Oh, legendary hero Alfred! You have come to save my beloved Rosa?”

“Apparently,” Vincent remarked. Titters ran through the audience.

The actors didn’t blink an eye. The king merely continued, “You must know, then, on the peak of a dangerous mountain dwells the Evil Dragon King, Valvados, who has kidnapped my cherished daughter! But…! You can’t beat the Dragon King as you are now! Talk to the one who can help you.”

The knight pirouetted to the rear, where he was soon joined by the witch who had ushered them backstage earlier.

A branching path, was it? Vincent could dimly recall seeing such a matinee in his youth.

He turned towards the witch, who immediately curtsied and sang, “I am the wise witch Vala! What do you wish to know?”

This was a retrieval mission, wasn’t it? “What is Valvados’s goal?”

The actress floundered. “He… er… that is… the Evil Dragon King Valvados kidnapped the princess to… Oh, look! Here he is!”

A dragon, if one could call it that, given the obviously fake nature of the suit, lumbered awkwardly onto the stage, Cloud held in his arms. “What ho! I am the Evil Dragon King! I have not harmed the Princess…. I have been expecting you.”

They’d added a tiara to Cloud’s ensemble, along with glossy lipstick that was briefly distracting. “The legendary hero Alfred?” Cloud declared, mimicking the overdramatic tones of the rest of the cast. “It can’t be!”

“Who is your enemy, legendary hero? Say it!” the Dragon King commanded.

They were really hamming it up. Though it was supposed to be cliché, wasn’t it? Vincent glanced at the foam sword still clutched carefully in his gauntlet. “I suppose,” he said, “We must do battle.”

The Evil Dragon King laughed. “Do you think a mere sword can defeat me?”

Cloud abruptly tossed the ropes aside and flung his arms around the Dragon King’s neck. “Wait! You can’t! Val and I are getting married!”

“Married?!” the King exclaimed.

“Er… right! We are!” The Evil Dragon King guffawed, wrapping an oversized claw around Cloud’s waist. “What say you to that, legendary hero Alfred?”

Silence stretched, several beats too many to be merely dramatic. Vincent was frozen in place, his thoughts and his memories many years away. The audience began to shift in their seats, murmuring amongst themselves.

The witch cleared her throat, and whispered. “…Hey, it’s your line.”

Vincent blinked, tearing his gaze back to her.

“Go on.” She gestured minutely to him.

Right. “Is…” His voice came out strangely thick. “Is that what you really want, Princess Rosa?”

Cloud glanced away. “Of course! We fell in love up on the mountain. So you don’t need to fight, and you don’t need to get hurt.”

The witch gasped in realisation. “She’s sacrificing herself, to protect the legendary hero!”

So that was how it was. Vincent dropped his foam sword and drew his gun out of his cloak. “No matter what she says, I’m afraid I can’t let you take Rosa away. I will fight you.”

“Wait, did we give him that?” the knight squeaked under his breath. “Is that a real gun?”

“No, no… this must be… the power of true loooove!” The Evil Dragon King recoiled, dropping Cloud and fleeing the stage. “It is too pure! I have been defeated!”

Vincent bent and offered Cloud his hand. The swordsman had an oddly satisfied smile on his face as he took it and rose to his feet.

“Thank you, legendary hero Alfred!” he chirped.

“You’re enjoying this too much,” Vincent muttered under his breath.

“I’m making the best of a bad situation. The knight was way more fun to play.”

“And so the Evil Dragon King was defeated!” The narrator’s booming voice buried their words. “And the Legendary Hero Alfred and Princess Rosa lived happily ever after!”

“That’s our cue to exit.” Cloud tugged on his hand, all but running offstage. Vincent followed, relieved to leave the lights and stares of the crowd behind.

“You guys were great!” the witch gushed. “That was such a good twist! Best performance all week.”

Cloud handed over his tiara and Vincent his foam sword, and finally the rest of the cast left them be.

Cloud held up his travel bag. “At least our mission was successful. I found it backstage.”

Yuffie had likely dumped it and run to delay retribution. “Are you going to get changed?”

Cloud batted his eyelashes at him. “What, Alfred, did you want to go ride the gondola to celebrate our happily ever after?” He hefted the bag over his shoulder. “Seriously, though, this petticoat itches. And I don’t want to risk Dio seeing me in this or he might propose.”

That was a disturbing possibility he hadn’t considered before. Dio was inordinately fond of Cloud – especially whenever he took an interest in the Chocobo or Battle Squares.

It wasn’t until later, when Cloud was dressed as himself again, hair extensions gone and the lip gloss, if not the eye makeup, finally removed, that Vincent felt comfortable enough to venture, “In the play, you were making a point about…”

Cloud shrugged. “Don’t overthink it. You were great onstage.”

“But I…”

“Didn’t you get the verdict?” Cloud slung his bag over his shoulder. “Turns out sins can be forgiven. Maybe you’re ready to try.”

Vincent glanced away. He had much better control of his beasts now, and some measure of closure with Lucrecia, but…

Cloud didn’t give the thought the chance to linger, already moving ahead. “Let’s mosey. I have a thief to go get revenge on. And considering we both wound up onstage, I’m willing to share my vengeance with you.”




Next chapter


Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
caterfree10
Aug. 10th, 2014 03:55 am (UTC)
LMFAOOOOOOO Literally laughed out loud at Cloud and Vincent getting caught at the Event Square. JUST TOO GOOD I LOVE IT. I also like how stealing Yuffie's materia and selling it to Rufus is considered worse than killing her. 'Tis 1000% truth tho.

Aw c'mon Cloud, let Vincent think a little more and he might hit the proper conclusion so you two can get somewhere. x3

I love this fic so much, oh goodness. :3c
sinnatious
Aug. 10th, 2014 10:04 pm (UTC)
<3 Your comment brings me joy.
eve_tenshi
Aug. 10th, 2014 05:44 pm (UTC)
Wow, Yuffie and Shelke are truly evil masterminds. Also I really hope Cloud actually manages to get some measure of revenge against her instead of just forgiving her by the end ._. The poor guy deserves it.

Very smooth of him to turn such a miserable situation into a profound message for Vincent though~ I must admit, since this fic came out, I've started reading other Vincent/Cloud fics, though I hadn't really shipped them before, so I blame your awesome writing for making me lose even more sleep than I otherwise would have e_e
sinnatious
Aug. 10th, 2014 10:05 pm (UTC)
Evil, or merely misguided? XD

Oh nice, a convert! \o/ The fics for it are a little thin on the ground but over the years a nice backlog has accumulated for the pairing, hope you're enjoying it! :)
ratzels
Aug. 10th, 2014 07:32 pm (UTC)
“If she wants to embarrass me into hiding in my room, she’s going to be disappointed. I seduced Don Corneo once, as Tifa constantly reminds everyone.”

Cloud, your shamelessness warms my heart. <3
sinnatious
Aug. 10th, 2014 10:08 pm (UTC)
I mean, it all depends on how you played it out, but canonically he did in fact play the role to the hilt. <3
qem_chibati
Aug. 11th, 2014 01:42 pm (UTC)
Ahhhh, I love it. But wow Yuffie is sooooo dead. XD
(Deleted comment)
sinnatious
Aug. 13th, 2014 05:26 am (UTC)
I hemmed and hawwed about doing the dress thing so it's so overdone, even in my own writing, but in the end figured people would appreciate it. :P You're welcome!
firedraygon97
Aug. 12th, 2014 03:26 am (UTC)
So fun!!

1. Using Remedy to treat Confuse - this scene makes things much more realistic, since you've got to force your confused teammate to drink something while they're trying to attack you. Great detail!

2. I guess we should've been expecting a cross-dressing scene, haha. ;p

3. The play! It's been so long that I don't remember who I did the play with, Tifa, Aerith, Barrett...? Anyway, it was cute. <3

You definitely got me back into Vincent/Cloud reading, and I just machined through all of esama's fics this weekend. >__O Check those out if you haven't had a chance yet!
sinnatious
Aug. 13th, 2014 05:30 am (UTC)
Thanks! I always used to wonder about that. Esuna is easy, but how were the other cures administered mid-battle?

Ahaha sorry, I nearly didn't do the cross-dressing thing since I've done it so many times already but why not. It seems to be a hit no matter how many times I revisit it. :P
rafira
Aug. 12th, 2014 05:50 am (UTC)
(this is also a review of chapter 3 too) i am very much liking the gratuitous descriptions of wet, dewy Cloud. loving the yuffie shelke combo!
sinnatious
Aug. 13th, 2014 05:32 am (UTC)
Thanks! I should really devote more words to gratuitous Cloud description, it's what the people want! :P In all seriousness though sometimes I think writing fanfiction can make you lazy about writing descriptions so good to have that reminder.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 13th, 2014 06:08 pm (UTC)
OMG, you are genius!!! I can't believe anyone could write Vincent/Cloud fanfiction without giant angst. And here you are!! Best crack ever!
sinnatious
Aug. 14th, 2014 02:45 am (UTC)
Heh, thank you! It gets a little less cracky here on out but hope you enjoy it!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )