by Ky

Summary: Short on gil but in need of a rest at an inn, the party decides that it is indeed possible to fit nine people in one room meant for three. And Cloud can't sleep.
Genre: Humor
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Language
Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy VII or any of its characters. If I did, Cloud would probably get tormented much more often than he already does.
Notes: I'd been toying with this idea for a few days now, and the other day I woke up at 6:15 because I couldn't sleep and decided: heck with it, I'm doing it. There was something oddly cathartic about writing Cid, even if he was only in this for a couple paragraphs. And, I really have nothing against Vincent. He's just so easy to make fun of.
I suppose this is set sometime after the Gold Saucer date but before Cait Sith gives the keystone to Tseng. Which really doesn't make canonical sense, but… it's fanfiction?

Cloud Strife's unnaturally blue eyes glared a hole into the gray wall of the inn. It was late, or, by this point, very early, and no matter how hard he tried, he could not make himself fall asleep. It was all bothering him. Shinra, Sephiroth, the voices in his head—whoever they were. And what had Aerith meant: "I'm searching for you"?

He knew he'd never make sense of it, but his brain would not leave it alone. Sleep was important. Sleep deprivation slowed down one's reflexes and made one make careless decisions in battle. And underestimating an opponent could mean the difference between life and death…

Cloud mentally kicked himself. Even just a catnap shouldn't be this hard. God knew he needed it. But still he continued to stare at the gray wall across the room from him.

The whole world seemed to be in shades of gray and red. The red came from the frustration that Cloud could not make himself sleep, as well as the fact that his eyes felt wide and bloodshot. It wasn't so much that he saw it, but he felt the redness boiling in the back of his mind. The gray was a result of the darkness. It was way past time for it to be pitch-black. In fact, little bits of blue-gray morning light were peeking their way around the curtains. But still the attempt to maintain darkness had bleached the brighter colors from the world and shadowed them with gray.

Having nothing else better to do, Cloud turned his attention to the sleeping people around him for the millionth time that night. Why couldn't he be sleeping soundly like they were? Even Vincent, who had mentioned something about nightmares the first time they'd met, showed no sign of waking. He was sleeping sitting up, one arm balanced on his knee and his head resting on his arm. It was a position Cloud wouldn't have found comfortable, but then again, Cloud wouldn't have found sleeping in a coffin comfortable, either.

The blonde knew that forcing nine people to share one room at an inn had not been a very smart move, but they were in a money crunch right now, and if they spent too much getting comfortable at an inn, they would not have enough gil to buy necessities, like ethers. So they'd all crammed into this one room and tried to make the best of it. Since your standard room only had three beds, there had been some debate over sleeping arrangements, but they'd finally come to an arrangement they all could deal with, at least for one night. Which was how Vincent had ended up sitting on the floor.

Vincent slept like a rock with one eye open. He seemed to have this bizarre ability to fall asleep anywhere and to actually get a good night's rest there, but when something important was going on, or if someone was hovering near him, his eyes would snap open and he would be immediately wide awake. It was creepy, almost like something out of a vampire movie or something. Then again, everything about Vincent was almost like something out of a vampire movie or something, so Cloud decided to leave that one alone.

Across the room from Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, and Yuffie had all managed to squeeze into one bed. They were all snuggled together as if they were at a slumber party. Aerith lay on her side, hands clasped in a silent prayer, as if she'd fallen asleep with some petition still in her heart. Tifa lay on her back, her whole body tilting sideways, with her head and one shoulder sort-of cuddled up against Aerith's shoulder. It reminded Cloud of his and Tifa's childhood together—how, exhausted from a day spent playing, they would fall asleep leaning against each other and their respective parents would end up having to carry them home to their beds.

Sprawled at the end of the bed, on top of Tifa and Aerith's feet, with her limbs jutting out at odd angles and in no way under the covers, was Yuffie. For once, the hyperactive ninja was quiet, except for her soft snores.

In a way, Cloud envied the closeness the girls shared. It seemed safe, comfortable. Tifa, Aerith, and Yuffie were never afraid to hug, to lock arms, to giggle and share "girl talk." There were times when Cloud longed for some of that closeness, but he knew it wasn't something he could possibly ask for. Tifa would hug him from time to time, but her hugs were awkward, like she was hugging him more to demonstrate something than because she thought he needed a hug. Aerith would put a gentle hand on his arm, and Yuffie would punch his shoulder while she was talking to him, but these were usually more like gestures than they were actual displays of reassurance.

And as for the males in their motley crew? Cait Sith hardly counted. He was a fortune-telling robot, albeit an incredibly cute one. He was currently slumped in a corner, emitting exaggerated cartoon snoring sound effects.

Red XIII tried, but he still didn't always understand humans. And when humans didn't understand humans, the understanding became that much more difficult. Cloud didn't feel as close a connection with him as he did with some of the other members of their party, but he enjoyed Red's company, nonetheless. Upon arrival at the inn, the native of Cosmo Canyon had insisted that if he could not have his own bed, he should at least get a cushion, so he was curled up on top of two pillows, with his tail wrapped across his nose.

As for the rest of their party, Cid and Barret had their own issues. They were men like Cloud had known in the military—often so wrapped up in masculinity that it got in the way of practicality, which led to the current sleeping situation.

Cloud, Barret, Cid, and Vincent were the only ones that hadn't found a place to sleep, and there were two beds remaining. Since three people had managed to fit into the first bed, it followed logically that two people should not have much of a problem. And so everyone would have a fairly comfortable place to sleep. They only had to figure out the arrangement.

Of course, Vincent and Barret further complicated this situation. Vincent silently surveyed the room, took his place on the floor, and then became unresponsive, apparently sound asleep. This single action, while appearing completely innocuous, threw the whole sleeping situation off balance.

Now there were three people and two beds, meaning that one person would not have to share a bed, and therefore all persons would not be equally uncomfortable. And logically it followed that the person who got his own bed would be Barret. Barret was easily the size of two men anyway, so really the idea of sharing a bed with him had been something near suicide.

Which left Cloud and Cid, staring at the last remaining bed. If one did not know Cid like Cloud knew Cid, one might suggest a logical solution. But by this point, Cloud knew Cid. In his crass and opinionated way, Cid made sure of this. Once one had become acquainted with Cid, one became very aware of his habits and his disposition. Anyway, if one did not know Cid, one might suggest that the two should just share the bed.

But really, logical as it may sound, this simply was not an option for either man.

Cid snored. Rather loudly. In fact, he was snoring now, which may have been contributing to Cloud's insomnia. This wasn't just ordinary snoring. This was sawing logs. Throw-a-pillow-at-the-other-person-cover-your-ears-and-scream sort of snoring. And it was occasionally punctuated by a hacking cough because, well, chain-smoking does that to you.

The worst part of this was that Cid didn't know just how loudly he snored, and when it was brought to his attention, he didn't care.

"Shit, y'all are pussies. I don' snore that goddamn loud," had been his exact response.

Not only did Cid snore, but he smelled rather strongly of the cigarettes that he was never without. Although, having lived in Midgar, second-hand smoke was the least of Cloud's pollution worries, he did not find the idea of spending a night in close proximity to such an odor appealing.

Not to be misunderstood. He, like the rest of the party, had begun to find many of Cid's idiosyncrasies endearing. But any effort he could make to avoid waking up smelling like an ashtray was, in his mind, well worth it.

It was not exactly an idea situation for Cid, either. Call him a sexist, a homophobe, he didn't care. He'd say whatever he damn well wanted. It wasn't hurting him any. Cid was not going to share a bed with another man, especially if no one else had to. It was an insult to his masculinity! If Cloud tried to crawl in bed next to him, shit, he was sleeping on the floor.

An unspoken understanding followed. If Cid had to sleep on the floor, he would pitch a fit the likes of which the planet had never seen when his back hurt the next morning. During the course of this fit, he'd probably invent several new swear words.

So it really was the best scenario for both of them when Cloud found a nice spot on the wall to lean against and try to fall asleep.

And now it was practically morning, and Cloud found that finally his eyelids felt heavy. Maybe, if he tuned out Cid's and Yuffie's snoring and Barret's sleep-talking—"Damn Shinra, don't take my socks…"—maybe he could get a few minutes of peace.