Nanaki, or 'Red XIII' as he was affectionately (or lazily) called, pricked his ears as an awful scream began to build in intensity. Without any desire on his part, they slowly began to turn away from the piercing racket.
By the time Yuffie burst into the room, they were flat against his skull. He squirmed in pain. "Cetra's sake, child, stop doing that!"
"But – but – I – Ididn'tdowhatImeanttodoanddidwhatIdidn'tmean – to – to – DOOOOOOOO!"
As his ears attempted to close themselves off completely, Nanaki slunk under the bed before snarling, "Kindly compose yourself. My ears are not meant to take this kind of abuse."
The only response he got was a cacophony of noisy weeping. Frowning, he slowly emerged from the underside of the bed, which hadn't experienced the joys of a regular dusting for some time. He tried to ignore the girl's sobbing by vigorously washing himself.
It was futile. Endowed with the power of good lungs and a healthy second soprano wail, she was simply more than he could bear. He decided that dust-free fur could wait for a few minutes. "Would you mind telling me what happened?"
Yuffie gulped for a few minutes longer before she could regain control. "I – I was mugged!"
"Mugged?!" The big cat bounded to all four feet, tail lashing angrily. "Where? How? When? And what kind of mugger takes your clothes? We need to tell Cloud!" He ran out of the door. And then two things happened at once.
First, his abused ears pricked once more. He distinctly heard the door lock, the sound of feet scampering into the shower area, and underneath it all a feminine cackle. Startled, he came to a stop so suddenly that he sat down.
And secondly…he couldn't be sure that his nose hadn't deceived him as he rushed out of the room, but he could almost swear that Yuffie didn't smell entirely right…
Tifa leaned precariously from the door frame. Apparently keeping her balance while trying to shield her modesty was a little more difficult than she had anticipated, as she kept swaying back and forth. "What's all the noise? It sounded like Yuffie."
"It...it was," the cat stammered, wondering whether or not to tell the tale that he had been given. Prudence won out. "Uh…I think that I lay my tail on her while she was still asleep. My apologies." And before she could ask more questions, he tumbled over himself just like a cat is apt to do and tore down the hall.
Tifa stood there, so bewildered that she became oblivious to the fact that there were others in the hotel besides herself. An elderly man saw a bit too much and staggered back to his suite clutching his chest. A mother gasped and hustled her children by, covering their eyes but completely neglecting her husband, who stood in silent, if pleased, contemplation of the glories of the female mammary.
"Teef," a male voice from within her room croaked, breaking her reverie. Finally realizing that she was standing in public wearing little more than what the Lord gave her, she gave everyone in sight dirty looks and slammed the door.
Cloud stirred on the rumpled sheets. "Baby, come warm the bed. It's freezing in here."
"We're in Costa Del Sol."
"You sure?" He sat up and squinted out of the window. Wincing, he turned away from the glare and tunneled under the pillows. "It looks just like the sun rising near the crater."
"That's the sun's reflection on the water."
"What's all the white stuff, then? Isn't that snow?"
He sat up, frowning. "You sure?"
Tifa nearly smacked her forehead. Some days it seemed as though the Mako poisoning made up for the glowing eyes and fabulous hair by making its victims absolute crack-heads. She could be at home in Corel with Johnny right now if she wasn't here. And really, what did Cloud have going for him, besides those gorgeous muscles and that huge…
A grin broke out on her face. "You wanted me to warm the bed?"
Barrett emerged from his room somewhat dissatisfied, and walked in the direction of the dining hall. After an hour in the mirror, he had given up on trying to get scruffy and had to resign himself to looking overly pretty for the day. He considered knocking on Cloud and Tifa's door, but the springs were squeaking again. Shaking his head, he went to the next door down. Clearly, this room's occupants were occupied in talking. He could hear them in the hall as he passed by.
"…well, what the hell are they doing in here, then?"
"You tell me, O Pirate of the Pu-"
"Hey! As I recall, you weren't any slouch in the ol' sack yerself, vampy! And just how do you propose we fix this mess?"
There was a shuffling of heavy metal boots, and then a delicate 'harrumph.' "I don't see where there's a problem. What's done is done. Besides, I refuse to take responsibility for another's person ridiculous behavior."
What followed next was a cussing out of the most indecent sort. Even Barrett's coal-miner sensibilities were offended. Ears threatening to go up in flame, he walked on. "Do they really want everyone to know that they're bed buddies? Some people just don't know how to be discreet."
He came across Nanaki still trying to fend off the amorous embrace of the dust bunnies as he exited the building. "Hey, Red."
The cat spared him an exasperated glance before wrenching his neck around and continuing his wash. Barrett tried again after realizing that he wouldn't get an answer otherwise. "You want to go get some chow?"
Nanaki mulled the offer before yawning with open maw. "I don't know if I can eat the food here. I'm a vegan."
"You're a natural carnivore," Barrett pointed out reasonably.
"I supplement my diet with MouseFu, thank you very much. It is perfectly legitimate that some people should prefer the taste of factory-processed soybeans to fresh meat. It is also perfectly acceptable that these soybeans should be enhanced with mouse essence to make them edible."
"Are you shittin' me?"
Nanaki came as close to a grin as he was capable. "Damn straight. There's a good café down the street."
Yuffie watched from behind the rickety shutters as the pair walked off together and sighed, feeling that disaster had been averted. She had managed to fool Nanaki, and from the sound of the argument down the hall, it didn't sound as though Vincent and Cid were any closer to figuring out exactly what had happened last night, nor what they were going to tell everyone else. A sly smile crept onto her face. Maybe she had enough time to make a quick raid on the materia shop. Tying up her bright orange sneakers, she strolled outside.
The first thing she noticed was that it was awfully breezy outside. True, the town was on the coast and she wasn't one for lots of clothing – actually, she rarely wore more than the local laws dictated was necessary for decency – but still…
And she was getting an awful lot of leering smirks from the locals. She certainly wasn't as well-equipped as Tifa or even that idiot fourteen year old working the front desk of the hotel, but this many people staring so hard at her and then running off laughing…
Sure was windy out here.
She bent over the glass counter, trying to ignore the melody of whistles behind her. The shopkeeper stared at her incredulously. "Uh, miss –"
Flashing him her best smile, she asked sweetly, "May I see this set, please? The mastered elementals."
He handed them over before walking away with his hand clapped firmly over his mouth, chest heaving. Yuffie turned them over in their velvet lining, then nonchalantly pushed the case away. "I've changed my mind. Thanks, though." She strolled off, hand deftly moving towards her pocket to stash the pilfered orbs.
The sound of plinking on the cobblestones made her freeze.
The green stones winked at her from their new home on the ground. The store owner, alerted by the telltale noise of materia hitting the ground, came bursting out of the side of his shack. "Hey!"
What the hell? You grab the rocks with one hand, switch and put them in the opposite pocket. Swipe, slide. What's the deal?
"Stop! Thief! Stop that naked girl!"
The wind picked up quite violently, flinging an eddy of sand at her rear. Yuffie winced upon feeling…the unmistakable sting of sand smacking her bare ass. For the first time all day, she looked down.
Sneakers. Socks. Shorts? Uh, no. No leather buckler. No midriff-baring turtleneck.
Yuffie Kisaragi was definitely walking around Costa Del Sol in her underwear. Though to her credit, they were quite clean.
Son of a gun…
A/N: Uh-oh. It's not looking too good for the Yuffster. Will the Knights of the Round take pity on her and save her? Or will they all just laugh at her tan lines? Find out...whenever I update again!