Oil and Water, Part VII: The Logical Conclusion

When morning inevitably came, Cloud felt like shit. This was because the desert was pretty fucking cold, and the hours directly before sunrise were precisely when the temperatures reached their coldest. It was also the time when the fire had finally decided to sputter out. He noticed the cold most acutely, however, because there was no longer a warm body curled up by his side, sharing its heat with him.

She had been thoughtful enough to cover him with the rest of his discarded clothes so he wasn't completely exposed to the chill air, but there was no sign of her anywhere around their makeshift camp site.

As he dressed, he noticed with a sour lack of surprise that certain key elements of his travelling materia collection were missing. Nothing that would truly set him back - he was nearly rendered speechless to see she'd actually left the Knights alone - but more than one of his mastered All materia slots were distinctly empty. Well, she had managed to get his pants off, so he guessed she'd earned those. His hands slowed as he considered the thought, pausing on the top button of his trousers.

She didn't earn that materia, he decided suddenly. It would make everything that had happened last night sound uncomfortably too much like a trade. No, Cloud decided, she had stolen his materia - again - and he was going to have to get it back. But first, his mission.

Fenrir was waiting for him where he'd left it, a little dirtier than usual but no worse for the wear. He noted with some surprise that Yuffie hadn't tried to crack open the storage case on the bike - maybe she was taking her promise not to steal his journal seriously for once. With a sigh, he swung a leg over the motorcycle and tested the engine - it sputtered once, twice, and then groaned to life just as the first rays of sunshine peeked over the horizon. Lowering his glasses, Cloud hunkered over the bike and set off in the direction of the Gold Saucer, leaving a cloud of dust behind him.

.x.x.x.

He found her in Event Square, casually seated on a bench and stuffing her face full of sugary donuts as the latest set of knights and dragons and damsels in distress battled it out on stage. Yuffie bit her lip and forced her eyes to remain fixed on the play, cheering when the dragon started making out passionately with the king while the stagehands groaned.

"Is that a guy under that costume...? No, I don't even want to know," Cloud said, wincing at the production before turning his attention to her.

Yuffie twisted in her seat uncomfortably and bit into her donut. He waited until she'd swallowed, and then opened his mouth -

"How'd you get back into the Saucer? I thought they kicked you out."

Oh. Was that all? Yuffie grinned reflexively in relief. "Aw, well, you know, it was just a couple of freakin' donuts. Besides, you really think they're gonna turn me away when I come bearing that much gil?" She carefully avoided mentioning where she'd gotten her gil from, though she suspected Cloud already knew. It wasn't like he was going to miss that All materia anyhow, right?

"Technically speaking, that money was mine," Cloud said mildly. Then he snatched the remains of the donut out of her hand and popped it into his mouth. His eyes closed reflexively, and he let out a low sigh of relief that made her stomach flip-flop in recollection. "Oh yeah. You weren't lying, those are really good."

"Worth getting kicked out of the Gold Saucer for, huh?" Yuffie said faintly, her cheeks still coloured with a blush. Her mind was racing; why wasn't Cloud being more of a bastard about that materia she'd stolen? He'd never been particularly nice about her thieving habits before. More importantly, was he going to say anything about what they'd done last night? Or how she'd left that morning?

In all honesty, she'd fled because she was scared. The pleasant languor of a post-coital nap had lulled her into a false sense of security, but as she'd woken in the early hours of the morning, prickles of cold creeping down her spine, the full weight of what she'd done had hit her like a two-ton Moogle.

He's gonna kill me had been her first thought as she watched his slack face, highlighted by the moonlight. Her next was a low smirk; she wouldn't necessarily mind being punished by Cloud as long as it involved copious amounts of sex. He'd been surprisingly good in that department, considering how stunted his conversational and emotional skills were in every other area. Then she'd realized that further sex, retaliatory or otherwise, was probably not going to be very high on Cloud's list of Things to Do. A list which probably featured Tifa in the number one spot.

So, Yuffie did the one thing that she was best at - after throwing some cover on him and stoking the fire, she'd taken off at a run to return to the Gold Saucer. Dio had been sceptical about letting her back in at first, but a couple of carefully bartered pieces of mastered materia had quickly changed his mind. And this time, she'd made especially sure to secure herself a room and a meal before she set off to enjoy the wonders of the casino.

The entertainment was falling a bit flat, though. Most things tended to when paired off against the memory of a fantastic orgasm. So she'd planted herself in Event Square, determined to wallow in a bad play, good junk food, and a lot of pity and self-castigation. She figured it was the closest way to commune with Cloud. Well, second-closest way, she'd already tried the closest way last night.

Reaching for another donut, she shovelled it into her mouth, trying now her hardest to tamp down on the blush she felt growing on her cheeks. White Roses of Wutai didn't blush no matter how badly they wanted to get back into Cloud Strife's pants. He was watching her eat, she realized, and she swallowed nervously, doing her best not to choke.

"So whatcha doin' here? You want me to pay you back?"

Cloud shrugged minutely. "I'm eating your donuts, aren't I?" he asked, reaching into the box on her lap to grab another one. Yuffie managed to still her startled twitch before she could drop it, and she looked up quickly to see if he'd noticed. His lips were twitching upward at the corners, and the expression in his eyes wasn't exactly on the dead fish level, but she still couldn't read him.

She watched him for a while, but he said nothing, so after a moment of tense contemplation Yuffie shrugged and directed her attention back towards finishing her "meal." The play was long over, and the crowds had soon emptied from the amphitheatre, but neither moved to leave. Cloud would occasionally reach over and snitch another donut from her box, but for once, a rare, comfortable silence managed to settle between them. As the last donut disappeared, Yuffie smashed the box flat and casually tossed it behind her back.

"Well, that's that, I guess," she said airily. A sense of sweet resignation filled her; at least their roll-in-the-sand wouldn't be affecting their prickly friendship. If anything, it'd seemed to smooth over the rough edges. Still, it had been really good sex... but all good things had to come to an end eventually.

"Is it?" Cloud asked absently, leaning back on his elbows and staring blankly at the vacant stage.

Yuffie grinned at him. "Yeah, it was good while it lasted... uh, really good," she blushed, earning a curious glance from him, "...but I really didn't get all that much time off for my vacation, so I'll have to be getting back soon." She stood up and stretched, working the stiffness out of her knees and back. "And I guess you'd better get back to Tifa, too. More deliveries to make and all, right?"

Now his eyes were trained on the bare patch of skin exposed by her high-riding shirt, which conveniently happened to be at the same level as his eyes. Yuffie grinned as she pulled her arms over her head, giving him another gratuitous stretch for the road.

"I already told you, I'm not dating Tifa," Cloud said, his eyes not moving from her bellybutton. "Besides, the last time I was in Edge, I got this impression she was spending time with Barret."

Yuffie bit her lip. She guessed it wasn't her place to tell him that Tifa, while waiting for Cloud to make up his mind about the status of their relationship, had been spending time with Barret for the past two years. It was obvious that she'd never given up on Cloud, holding onto some last ditch hopes that the blond would one day come to his senses. Considering his soft spot for children and the fact that she'd all but adopted Marlene, however, Barret was practically in love with her despite that fact. Still, if there was something nobody ever wanted to see again, it was another emotionally castrated zombie-Cloud, roaming the world with the ability to potentially Omnislash anything that looked at him oddly, and so the issue had never been pressed.

The way Cloud was fixating on her stomach, though, was making Yuffie wonder if a little meddling was in order. "Hey, Spike, are you all there?" she asked, waving a hand in front of his face.

He caught it, his blue eyes finally lifting to meet her own. "I ask myself that all the time," he admitted with a wry grin. "Don't really know."

Yuffie's smile faltered from the intensity of his gaze. "Oh," she breathed. "Uh, alright, as long as we're clear on that." She moved to pull her hand from his grasp, and his grip tightened.

"You're really annoying, you know that?" Cloud said to her amicably, rubbing circles with his thumb into her wrist in a strikingly similar fashion to how he'd rubbed her the previous evening. Yuffie clenched her thighs together and smiled tightly.

"I can't stand talking to you. We always end up fighting about the most inane stuff." He was pulling her hand in now towards his mouth, and oh gawd, what did he think he was doing? She'd never be able to make a clean break from him if he kept on looking at her like that.

"Plus you stole my materia, and you haven't really paid me back for that yet."

Yuffie swallowed. "I gave you my donuts," she countered weakly.

"You didn't even split them evenly," Cloud replied, bringing her fingers to his lips. His tongue snaked out, licking the remaining crystals of sugar away from them, and Yuffie felt her knees weakening as he swirled his lips around the soft pad of her index finger and gently sucked.

"Guh," she managed to say intelligibly when his mouth released her finger with a wet pop.

"... but I guess I could be convinced to live with that."

Yuffie blinked. Wait, what? "... you wanna date me?" she spluttered.

Cloud frowned. "No, I want to fuck you," he clarified. "I thought we moved past that dating part last night." Yuffie made another incoherent squeak, and Cloud grinned at her. "Not much of a motor mouth anymore, are you?"

Flushing, Yuffie snatched her hand away from him and planted it on her hip. "We'll see about that, mister. If I recall correctly, I wasn't the one left drooling and cross-eyed last night!" she snapped.

"No, you were only drooling," he countered smoothly. "We'll have to work on that cross-eyed part."

Yuffie flushed again, her eyes sparkling. "Right now?" she asked.

"You have a room here?" At her quick nod, he grabbed her hand and stood up. "Good, I need a shower."

"It'll cost you," Yuffie warned as she allowed herself to be dragged towards the exit.

"No, it won't. It's my money," Cloud said without looking back.

"I was talking about sexual favours," Yuffie snipped, causing him to trip.

Cloud paused, then turned to her with a cocky grin. "... we can negotiate on that point."

The warmth in his eyes, the smile quirking around his lips, even if welcome, were completely unfamiliar to her. Yuffie realized belatedly that she could be in serious danger if he continued to drop his expressions so freely around her in the future. Her steps slowed uncertainly, and they came to a stop before the door.

Cloud turned around and regarded her. "Yuffie?" he asked quietly, sensing her hesitation.

Feeling uncharacteristically serious for once, Yuffie looked at their loosely joined hands. "Cloud... are you sure about this? I mean come on... we're like... I dunno, oil and water! We just don't mix!"

He stopped and looked at her. "I think you have it wrong," he finally said. "You and I, we're oil, and the rest of the world is water." His hand tightened on hers. "Maybe I don't want to mix. Do you?"

Yuffie stared at him, feeling an uncertain smile lifting the corners of her mouth. Yep, that's a definite full red alert, she thought to herself. Oh well. Never do anything half-assed, that's what Godo always said. "Right!" she told him confidently, giving his hand a firm squeeze. Then she used her grip to pull him back and send him sprawling across the floor. "Last one to Ghost Square has to pay for the rest of our stay!" She was already sprinting out the door, not waiting to hear his reply.

Cloud lifted his head off of the floor - damn it, was it actually sticky? - and glared after the quickly retreating ninja. "Brat," he muttered under his breath. Pushing himself to his feet, he began to stroll after her with a small smirk. Well, like she'd said. He could always find creative ways to extract his revenge later.

- end -