A/N: Something light hearted and fun. Future AU. (Hopefully not OOC -crosses fingers-)
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VII.
"Don't I know it."
The pilot lit a cigarette, calmly inhaling and exhaling the chemicals, thus reducing the need for his fix. "Feels like we're babysitting sometimes."
"They don't pull our hair or scream for attention." The 'anymore' was dropped.
Cid lazily watched Vincent from his seat on the outdoor patio. "No they don't but look at them now. You can't say that they aren't acting like children."
"Well Cid," chuckled Nanaki as he approached the lounging pair. "They aren't getting any younger."
"Har har har." The blond rolled his eyes and slouched deeper into his seat. "You know what I meant Red."
Their resident sniper shrugged and flicked at an offending dust mote off his cloak. "As long as they don't drag us into this…"
"Into this pissin' contest? Macho-testosterone display? Excuse to unhealthily consume large amounts of sugar?"
Again, Vincent shrugged nonchalantly while watching his younger friends in the open yard gorge themselves in a cake eating contest.
Nanaki piped up, "Shouldn't you be joining them, Cid? Macho-testosterone display sounds up your alley."
"If it were a drinking contest, they'll lose terribly." Cid scratched his cheek absently. "But as it is, Shera'll skin me alive if I turn up sick to the stomach 'cause of too many sweets."
"I'm sure Barret and Tifa would disagree with you if you try to intoxicate Marlene and Denzel with alcohol." Nanaki's tail twitched in amusement.
"Whatever; you got my back, right? After all, it ain't a party with out booze." Cid smirked at the pale ex-Turk.
Vincent sniffed, clearly disagreeing, and turned his head away from Cid. "Not this time." Expertly ignoring Cid's glare, he refocused his attention to the figure approaching them.
The blond nodded. "Hey."
"Spike! How nice of you to join us," greeted Cid as he chewed on his cigarette.
Cloud regarded his three comrades and chose the seat next to Nanaki. "I don't want to be around when one of them decides to throw up."
"Afraid Tifa will make you mop up the mess?" teased Red XIII, fangs glinting under the dusk light.
A faint smile. "Perhaps."
"Who do you think will win?" asked Vincent out-of-the-blue.
"Why Vince…Didn't think you'd be the one to start up the bettin' pool!" Cid cackled and slapped his hand loudly onto the table. "I say a thousand on Barret. He's big and big obviously equates to a need for lots of food."
Nanaki voiced the group's sentiments. "We're not betting Cid. Vincent was just asking a question."
A curse. "Oh come on-!" groaned Cid, frowning, before he spat out the stub in his mouth and ground it under his heel.
Cloud shook his head, blond wisps of hair flying. "Denzel will win. He's still growing – you know how teenagers are. I'm sure he can eat everyone under the table."
"I agree…But I don't think we can count out his friends yet." Nanaki nodded sagely. "No. They're still going strong."
"Thousand on Marlene." Vincent glanced at Cid, a slight smirk touching his lips. "She will be the one to win."
Equally parts exasperated and amused, Cloud thought that Vincent's background as an ex-Turk was shining through. How many times over the years have he seen Reno bet with the bar patrons?
Cid smirked. "You're on Vince. Father versus the birthday girl. Any other takers?"
Nanaki rolled his eyes heavenwards, entertained that Vincent was indulging Cid. "No."
"I'm out." Cloud tapped the table counter idly. "I like the money in my pocket."
"Not even for little Denzel?"
"Cid…He's nearing eighteen, not very 'little' anymore."
It was obvious that he wouldn't be able to coerce the blond man into playing i.e. forfeiting his money. "Fine. Be that way spoilsport."
For a few moments there was silence before Vincent spoke up again, crimson eyes slightly crinkled. "Everyone else is starting to drop out of the competition."
Red XIII nodded in agreement, "There goes Denzel's friend…And the rest of his pals."
The four comrades winced when they heard a rather unsavoury gag and hoped that Cait Sith, who was nearby, had the mess under control.
"So it's goin' down between Barret, Marlene, and Denzel. Knew it from the start." Cid wagged the second cancer stick in his mouth before lighting it. He roared out to their friend, "Go Barret! Show 'em up."
Barret, obviously hearing Cid, waved a free hand into the air in acknowledgement.
Tail flicking side to side, Red XIII observed. "Look…Denzel's slowing down too."
"He's turning a bit green," murmured Vincent softly from his vantage point.
"Do you think he might-?"
A crash. A bang. Several screams and cake splatters followed.
Both Cid and Cloud got up onto their feet, startled, but quickly deflated when a very familiar groan reached their ears.
"Ohhh I'm fine Tifa; it's just a little bump…Sorry I'm late Marls…Got a bit caught up."
…Apparently, Yuffie parachuted from the sky and landed on top of the table stacked with the colourfully frosted cakes – the very cakes the kids (and Barret) were eating. Most of that cake was now ruined and splattered all over the contestants.
"Only Yuffie," muttered Nanaki as he looked up into the very sky their 'ninja' fell from.
"I hope she's alright," offered Cloud. No one moved from their seats though, fully knowing that Tifa was taking excellent care of their energetic, albeit sometimes clumsy, friend.
Cid watched the spectacle that was Barret trying to wipe pink frosting from his eyes before Marlene yanked her surrogate father to her height and cleaned it away for him. He pressed his lips together, trying to repress the fond grin. "I wonder who won."
"Ahh…I believe Marlene did," answered Vincent silkily.
"She did?" asked Cloud and Nanaki in unison while Cid glowered at their gunner.
"By half a slice..."
Even as he uttered those words, Cait Sith, who was moderating the contest, approached Marlene with a plastic golden crown and declared her as their cake-eating champion. She cheered in triumph, "I won! I beat you all – even you Daddy."
Cid, incredulous, glared at the sniper. "How did you know?!"
"I was counting when the competition first started," was the mild explanation.
"You were countin'-!" The rest of Cid's words were lost in a stream of curses as he slapped the thousand gil into Vincent's waiting hand.
Eyebrow raised as if mocking the pilot, the gunner nodded and got up, "If you'll excuse me."
"Damn him that-" Cid cursed some more, angrily pushing his burnt out cigarette into the ashtray.
The three friends watched as Vincent left their circle, calmly approaching the cheering birthday girl…and suddenly everything became oh-so clear. Both Cloud and Nanaki shared amused grins while Cid made a rude gesture at Vincent.
From above the din, they could hear Vince say, "Happy Birthday Marlene", and they watched him present her with one thousand gil – Cid's, to be exact.
Cid's left eye twitched. "That conniving son of a-!"