Final Fantasy VII
The Internet is Serious Business
Notes: The characters are not mine, and this nonsense is. It is based in my Twilight and Dawn timeline, so they're on Earth and Sephiroth is sane again. And it was totally inspired by the 31 Days prompt Laugh Out Loud. Thanks to Kaze for the plot help, specifically the misreading of BRB and Seph's initial reaction to chatspeak, and to Lisa for the ending twist!
The idea of an instant messaging service that only served Jenova Corp employees seemed like a good idea at the time. If someone needed something from someone in another department, or if the person was needed that moment, an instant message could be sent. Theoretically it was quicker and more efficient than email.
In practice it was almost impossible to decipher the code.
Sephiroth crossed his arms, frowning in annoyance at the screen. "After the military, I've had enough of acronyms," he said, his tone flat.
"What is this stuff?!" Cloud grumbled. "'AFK'? I thought it was JFK."
"And 'BRB'?" Zack blinked, bewildered. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Maybe it's 'burble,'" Cloud muttered, his voice dripping sarcasm.
"'TTYL'?" Sephiroth's patience was being seriously tried.
Zack shrugged helplessly. "All I'm getting is 'tootle-lee-loo.'"
"Or 'tittleyule'," Cloud said, slumping back in the chair.
"May I ask what a 'tittleyule' is?" Sephiroth grunted, giving Cloud a sidelong glance.
"A tiny yulelog that's nervous and shaking? I have no idea." It was tempting to slam his hand on the desk. This was getting them nowhere!
"What's this 'LOL' thing?" Zack blinked, pointing at the IM window again.
"'Lunch on Larry.'" Sephiroth's sarcasm had thickened.
More and more this seemed to be a bad idea. But judging from how easily the employees were flinging such nonsense around, they must know what it meant. Sephiroth frowned. Obviously he and the others would have to learn, whether they would engage in such code themselves or not.
"'IDK'?" Zack was frowning at the screen again. "All I can think of there is 'I Donk.'"
"Or 'Doink'?" Cloud frowned.
Zack gave him a look of mock horror. "So it's a Tonberry?!" he exclaimed.
"I would hope not." Sephiroth leaned forward, adjusting his glasses. "'G2G'?"
"I'm drawing a blank," Zack said, shaking his head. "What's with the '2'?"
"'Gaga,'" Cloud suggested. "Times two."
"So now our employees have become infantile," Sephiroth said dryly.
"'IMO'?" Zack scratched his head. "So, is that a new way of saying 'emo'?"
"Or maybe it's a typo," Cloud said. "Maybe they meant 'HMO.'"
"You realize we're grasping at straws." Sephiroth straightened, crossing his arms again.
Zack slapped his forehead. "How are we ever gonna figure this out without looking like idiots?" he moaned.
The door opened. "Hi!" Marlene chirped. "What's wrong?"
The businessmen started. "Oh, nothin'," Zack said with a nonchalant wave of his hand.
Marlene was not fooled. "Are you having trouble with your IM?" she asked, wandering over to look.
"There's too many all at once," Cloud half-bluffed. Well, it was true, he decided, glaring at the sheer number of windows cluttering the screen.
"Well, you can close these two," Marlene said, pointing to them. "They're saying goodbye--'got to go' and 'talk to you later.'"
"Seriously?" Zack blinked, unable to keep the shock out of his voice.
Sephiroth raised an eyebrow. A child could understand what they could not?
Marlene gave a sage nod. "And these two are coming back," she continued. "'Away From Keyboard' and 'Be Right Back.'"
"You know, 'burble's' better," Zack said, pretending to deeply consider the matter.
"This one's telling you what he thinks of some plan--'in my opinion.' And this other one says 'I don't know.'" Marlene looked up at them.
Cloud was obviously embarrassed. But he glowered at the screen. "Whose idea was it to talk like this, anyway?" he frowned. "It was never like that on Gaia."
Marlene shrugged. "It saves typing space," she said.
"As long as you're displaying your expertise, what is this one?" Sephiroth spoke, pointing to the final problematic acronym.
She looked at it. "'Laugh Out Loud,'" she announced.
Zack frowned. "I don't see anything funny about what was being said."
"Oh well. Sometimes people just say it." Marlene moved away from the computer. "If you want to know about any more, I can tell you."
"Oh, we know 'em all!" Zack said, sticking his thumbs through his suspenders. "We just wanted to test you."
"Okay." Marlene smiled. Of course she did not believe him. But she would humor him.
"What are you doing here anyway?" Cloud asked in confusion.
She looked back to Cloud. "I was coming home from school and I thought I'd come say Hi," she said. "May I stay until you're going to come home?"
Cloud blinked. "There's not much to do around here," he said. He would not mind if Marlene stayed, though it would be embarrassing if she saw more of their incompetence around Internet talk.
"That's okay," she said. "I just miss you when you're here." Her brown eyes were expressive and melancholy as she looked up at Cloud.
And how could he say no to that?
". . . If Tifa says it's okay, you can stay," he said at last.
"Yay!" Marlene smiled happily.
Cloud took out his phone. "Go ahead and call," he said.
Marlene nodded, taking the phone to the other side of the room where she would be out of their way. Then she began to dial.
Zack leaned back in his chair. "You know," he said in an undertone, "we might need her help again."
Sephiroth grunted. "We can solve this ourselves," he said, typing into the search engine. "There has to be a website with a glossary of this nonsense."
And soon he had found one. He clicked, bringing up the list.
"'ROTFLOL'?" he frowned.
"I keep hearing 'rolful' in my head," Cloud muttered.
"'Rolling on the floor laughing out loud'?" Zack blinked, reading the explanation. "That's a weird one."
"And 'ILU'?" Cloud crossed his arms. "That would just be weird to get that one here--'I love you.'"
"It's 'weird' to get any of these," Sephiroth retorted.
As he scrolled to the bottom, links for further reference came into view.
"'L33tspeak'?" Cloud frowned. "I'm scared already."
"Let's hope our employees don't fall that low," Sephiroth said, after looking over a preview of the site.
"Hey, what's this one?" Zack asked, pointing to the next link.
Sephiroth clicked. The site loaded.
". . . Their English is atrocious," was all he could say.
". . . Maybe that's because it's a cat?" Cloud suggested.
Zack leaned in, trying to decipher this new mystery.
"'Im in ur fridge, eatin ur foodz'?" he exclaimed in disbelief.
They had wandered into the Livejournal community for cat macros.