an ff7 fic by MEG
who does not own any of this
You learn the dumbest shit when you spy on people. Like how Cloud is fine when he's asleep or when he has to stay alert but he hates falling asleep and will stay up for as long as he can, sometimes thirty-six or forty-eight hours, until finally his body just shuts down without bothering to ask his mind about it. You find out the reason why he actually wears those spikes in his hair is because if he doesn't gel the hell out of his hair it looks like you could puff out your breath, make a wish, blow it out and his hair would just go flying, blowing in the wind. It's actually kind of cute sticking straight up but even as an animatronic cat you've got enough sense to not call him Dandelion-head. And Tifa moves a little differently when the wind's from the east, like her chest hurts. You find out about the scar she's got going down her front and you're not surprised. Also, she spent one night reading a really bad novelization of Loveless. It surprised you because she usually read things like Ten Easy Ways To Make a Dinner for Five on a Budget for Two or Removing Spleens the Fun and Easy Way With Your Fists. That was when you realized she was actually watching Cloud trying not to fall asleep.
And Yuffie actually detaches every piece of materia that Cloud and the rest of you let her have, puts them down her shirt and cuddles her throwing star like a teddy bear before she goes to sleep. It's actually kind of cute, in a bizarre and frightening way, and you wonder how you've become the sort of person who will sit in a meeting and watch a teenaged girl sleep on the little screen of your remote control when you should be paying attention. You watch the whole group sleep all the time, come to think of it: the time zones are pretty fucked over. Most of the time when they're awake and doing things it's midnight Midgar Standard Time at the earliest. Aerith sleeps deeply, easily, but somehow she's always awake a quarter of a second before something happens. Barrett would sleep standing up if he could, but he sleeps hard, the sleep of someone used to physical labor.
Red sleeps curled up, his tail over his nose. It's kind of funny because of the flame at the end of his tail. You always wonder if his nose is going to catch on fire or something. Sometimes if he's really deeply asleep and Aerith is in a particular mood she uses Red as a pillow, which Red hates because of his dignity. He likes Aerith, so he lets her do it. One time Cloud hadn't slept for seventy-two hours, running on sheer nervous energy and stubbornness, and finally his eyes had just rolled up in his face and he'd landed on Red like a brick. Red put up with it but he spent the entire time Cloud slept with a look in his eye that dared anybody to make a single comment, or to try it themselves.
And Vincent ... well, technically Valentine probably slept but nobody had caught him at it, not even you. At most he lies down but you can see the faint glow of his eyes in the dark. Sometimes he goes up and roosts in trees like a vulture or something. It must be a Turk thing, you think. You can't remember seeing Tseng or his people ever relaxing, not even Reno.
When the computer that controls Cait's body goes into sleep mode, the cat body curls into the moogle's arms, like a real cat. You're an engineer because you like details, after all. When Cait himself is in sleep or diagnostic mode, the secondary computer in Mog activates. You're not going to admit it, ever, but there's a difference between the two computers, and you can tell right away which one you're dealing with. Cait's AI is tricky, designed for inductive logic, for dealing with humans, and it's sharp and a little sly. Mog's AI is big and dumb and patient and slow.
You keep thinking what sort of sick fuck am I?, but now AVALANCHE is more real to you than your job at Shin-Ra. You think sometimes that you're going to quit, you're going to join them, but you've got a job to do and people to keep safe. Midgar is your baby and not Mr Rufus Fucking Shinra's goddamn toy. Anyway, you know that you'd be useless trying to help them -- how sad is that, you think, the robotic cat riding on the giant fucking moogle is more useful than the middle-aged engineer. It's not fair but that's life.
So you're there with them even though you're not and you watch them and you lie to them and you lie for them. You're one of them now and you will never be one of them.
But that's okay.