Things to Note: AU, Real Worldish, so possibly OOC depending on your view. :)

Updated: 9/04/2009: Just a few basic grammatical errors I fixed up.

.:`'~ Code Monkey ~'`:.

Cloud groaned as he rolled over in his bed and brought his hand down harshly on the bleeping monster next to it. It continued to blare at him with a constant rhythm, unfazed by the unappreciative gesture. It had a job to do, after all. The alarm clock was well aware that if it were to stop he would fall back to sleep, and if he fell back to sleep when he finally awoke again the alarm clock would be blamed. So the alarm clock continued its loud, waning call with a fierce determination.

Cloud pounded his fist against the alarm clock several more times before he finally gave up and rolled his legs over the side of the bed. Everything in the room wavered in his vision and he groaned, rubbing a hand over his eyes. "M'up..." He slurred, his voice hoarse from a dry throat.

The alarm clock continued blaring anyways.

"M'up!" Cloud called again, more loudly this time and attempted to glare the best he could. Unfortunately for him, he was unaware of just how cute he was when he got out of bed. So the alarm clock continued. It wasn't until Cloud stumbled out of bed, tripping over random wires criss-crossing his carpet and falling onto his face before the alarm clock finally shut up.

The red numbers changed once as another minute ticked by. It was a warning.

Cloud rolled over onto his back with a wince, running a hand over his face again and staring at the ceiling blearily. His face hurt. When he tried to get back to his feet he had to kick several wires out from beneath his feet, finally managing to make it out of the mess that was his room.

A half hour later a still groggy but fully dressed Cloud shuffled into the kitchen with a wide, jaw-popping yawn. He stretched with a soft groan of appreciation as his muscles tingled. The smell of coffee was a welcome respite and he inhaled deeply, pouring himself a cup.

An hour and a half later Cloud finally pulled into work. He shut the car door behind him and ignored the usual beep of the alarm happily chirping, heading into the tall office building at a quick pace as he fumbled with his tie. He was late due to a traffic jam. Not only was he late, but he was late for a meeting with Shinra, his manager.


"Yo, Cloud!" Zack waved from the elevator inside the main lobby, reaching out to hold the doors open for him.

"Thanks." Cloud said as he ducked inside, scowling softly and still messing with his tie.

Zack smiled with a small chuckle and stepped over, swatting Cloud's hands away while he finished the mess that Cloud started. "Running late?"

"Yeah." Cloud answered with a slight frown. "I was supposed to meet Shinra like ten minutes ago."

Zack winced. "Ouch." He finished his work and stepped back, surveying over it briefly before turning his attention to Cloud. "I feel for ya. Everything alright?" He asked, a hint of concern tinting his voice.

"Yeah." Cloud answered again, taking in a deep breath and running a hand through his messy, spiky blonde hair. The two of them had a lot in common. Zack had been his friend for countless years, his best friend and comrade. Someone he could trust. Their family and friends considered them practically brothers. It was generally Zack and Cloud, or Cloud and Zack. Never just the one of them unless it was for business matters. Such as his meeting with Shinra, the boring manager. "I think it's just an evaluation."

"Evaluation, huh?" Zack tsked under his breath. "I dunno Cloud, I think they're catching onto you."

Cloud avoided eye contact as he spoke. "It's not my fault I hate this damn job. I thought I'd enjoy working with computers. But this place makes me want to throw every machine I see out the damned window." He scowled softly, folding his arms pointedly.

Zack laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. "Yeah well it's only temporary, right? Till you find something better?"

"Yeah. I just wish it wasn't so... boring, you know? Maybe then I wouldn't daydream and mess up my codes so much."

Zack grinned widely. "Yeah, that's a problem ain't it? You're one heck of a programmer, but you need to keep your head out of the clouds."

Cloud looked at him. "Shut up."

Zack laughed again.

"How's Aerith doing?" Cloud looked up at the elevator doors. Only fifteen more floors to go. This building never ceased to amaze him with it's height and the slow elevators didn't help either.

"Good, good." Zack answered with a smile, "The flower shop is doing great, all things considered."

"That's good to hear. Have you two set a date yet?"

"Naaah." Zack said with a sudden sheepish look, rubbing the back of his head with his hand. "We're still throwing ideas around. She says she'd like to do it in spring but then considers how nice Costa del Sol is in the summer. Not to mention my parents want us to head back to home."

Cloud grinned. "You mean Gongaga?"

Zack snorted and elbowed him. "Not as bad iNibelheim/i."

The two of them chuckled as the elevator came to a soft stop, the doors opening with a soft chime.

"You better run Cloudy boy!" Zack called as Cloud dashed out of the elevator, his laughter following the blonde-haired programmer as he darted past the reception desk.

"Hey Tif." Zack said, greeting her warmly with a smile. "How's it goin'? Nice shirt." He winked.

Tifa smiled modestly and looked at him after watching Cloud disappear around the corner. "Thanks. I'm doing good, Zack. I don't think Shinra's going to be happy that Cloud is late... is everything alright?"

"Evaluation." Zack answered, sneaking a piece of chocolate from the candy bowl.

Tifa winced.

"Yeah." Zack grinned at her. "So, what're you doing on Friday?"

Tifa laughed. "Going out with you and Aerith for dinner, remember?"

"Oh yeah." Zack's grin grew wider and his eyes glazed over thoughtfully. "Mm."



"Get to work."

He laughed and took a stack of envelopes from her. "Yeah yeah, I am. Hey, I was thinking... what if we invited Cloud, too? It'd be like a double date thing! It'd be great! What do you think?"

Tifa shifted in her seat. "I don't know..."

"C'mon, Tif. It'll be fun!"

She shifted again as a moment of quiet passed between them, attempting to avoid looking him in the eyes. He had a great way of using them and the girls around the office didn't nickname him Puppy for nothing. Thankfully the phone rang and she snatched it quickly, "Shinra Programming! Good morning, my name is Tifa. How may I help you?"

Zack sighed and turned away, disappearing down the hallway to his cubicle.

.:`'~ Code Monkey ~'`:.

Cloud sighed quietly as he flipped a pencil over in his hand, eyes staring blearily toward the front of the room as Shinra reviewed some of the current projects. There were seven other programmers seated around the large, dark wooden table, the surface of which was shined and polished until it was practically a mirror.

"Something to say Strife?" Shinra's professional voice clipped icily and Cloud blinked, startled. He straightened in his seat.

"Uh, no sir." I'm so bored.

Shinra eyed him quietly for several moments before returning to his presentation, explaining the qualities and expectations he had of the programming team.

"With luck, we should have this up and running within a couple of months."

You mean -we'll- have it up and running. Cloud thought cynically.

"Any questions?"

Can I go home?

"Good. You're dismissed. Strife," Shinra stopped Cloud as he stood with his folders, "Stay behind for a moment will you?"

Cloud sighed, slouching a little and watching the other programmers file out. Reno turned and sent him an apologetic look before shutting the door behind him. He turned back to Shinra as his manager walked over to him.

"Cloud," Shinra began and Cloud winced internally. First names, crap. "I just wanted to commend you for your efforts."

Cloud blinked.

"With the exception of today you've shown up without fail to work every day since your hire without absence or tardiness. You're quick to volunteer your services with upcoming projects and meet your deadlines with perseverance." Shinra smiled at him. "You're very..." He paused a moment and Cloud could've sworn he'd heard a gear turning, "diligent."

Cloud's eyes narrowed thoughtfully and he wisely chose to remain silent. There was something else to be said here and Cloud could already tell he wasn't going to like it.

"But there is a problem."

Cloud fought to keep from groaning.

"Despite all of your advantages, your coding work leaves something to be desired," Shinra began, and Cloud automatically emptied his face of emotion. Not because he was afraid or apprehensive, but simply because he honestly didn't want to hear it. "The script is chaotic and unorganized, and there have been several complaints of it not working at all. Do you realize every time we have to sent the code back to you we lose valuable time and money?"

I hear your talking Shinra, but all I can make out is 'blah blah blah'... Cloud looked up at the ceiling.

"Quite frankly," Shinra said again, his voice clipped and eyes narrowed at the absentminded look on Cloud's face. "Your output stinks, Strife. What do iyou/i think?"

Cloud bit the inside of his cheek, considering his answer.

I think you should write goddamn login page yourself.

Of course, he didn't say this. He was angry and his pride was, unfortunately, wounded. Cloud had always considered himself a decent programmer, and according to Zack he was one of the best. It wasn't his fault their layouts stunk and their ideas were damn near impossible to code.

But Cloud wasn't crazy. He needed this job.

"I think I'll try harder." He answered methodically with a dead voice, feeling his stomach drop when Shinra fixed him with an icy look.

"Good. You can go."

Cloud didn't ask questions. He turned and left, exhaling quickly and thankful to still have a job.

His cubicle waited for him patiently when he arrived, still the same mess it was in the day before. Cloud switched his computer on, picking up an empty can of mountain dew. He peered into it, shook it, then threw it into the trash. Licking his lips, he turned and headed towards the vending machine. Five minutes later he returned with a cold can of Tab and a small bag of Fritos.

"Yo." Cloud turned his head backwards, looking at the familiar sight of Reno's redhead peering at him from the next cubicle.

"What?" Cloud asked, his word partially a skewed by the mouth full of Fritos he was chewing on.

"What'd Shinra have to say?" Reno asked, hooking his arms over the side of the cubicle.

Cloud shrugged, straightening and swiveling his chair around. "He said my output stinks."

Reno laughed and Cloud grinned a little.

"That's rich," Reno said when he caught his voice, wiping his eyes. "Your output stinks... Aw man if only he knew what the rest of us was doin'."

Speaking of. "How's the game?"

Reno's grin stretched. "Fun as hell, yo. Like the real thing."

"Can I see?" Cloud stood.

"Yeah, sure man." Reno turned and sat down in his chair as Cloud took his turn to hook his arms over the cubicle wall. Reno's desk was as much a mess as his was. A moment later and Reno had the flight simulator on his flat screen monitor. The details were admirably realistic and Reno began typing in a series of keys that made no sense to Cloud.

"This here is the cockpit," Reno began, scrolling with the mouse, "And if we zoom out... we got the bird."

"Huh, that's pretty cool."

"Yup. Next best thing to the real thing. I can put it on your system if ya want." Reno drawled, looking over his shoulder back at Cloud.

Cloud shook his head. "Nah, don't worry about it."

"Fine, yo. Your loss." Reno grinned suddenly. "Speaking of loss... you seen the shirt Tifa's wearin' today?" He whistled.

Cloud winced. "No..." Shit. He hadn't even said hello to her this morning. "I gotta go."

Reno snickered. "Sure thing yo."

Cloud turned and walked out of the cubicle, walking briskly towards the front desk. When he approached Tifa was just getting off of the phone. "Hey," he greeted her breathlessly, resting an elbow on the counter of her desk.

Tifa looked at him and smiled. "Hi, Cloud. How're you?"

"I'm good. How're you doing, Tifa? Sorry I didn't say hi this morning..." He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, a mannerism everyone claimed had worn off on him from Zack.

She shook her head and rested her elbows on her desk, crossing her arms over each other. "No, that's okay. How was the meeting with Shinra? Everything alright?"

Cloud nodded, glancing back over his shoulder. Hanging around the front desk with no business wasn't exactly the best thing to be doing at the moment. He looked back at her. "Yeah, everything's fine. He just went over some of the specs for the Jenova project."

"Ooooohhh." She whistled appreciatively. "You're on that one?"

"Yup." He grinned.

"Good luck."

His grin faltered. "Huh?"

She laughed. "I'm kidding."

Cloud flailed mentally for a second. She was kidding! He smiled at her, unaware of how goofish his expression was at the moment.

God she was beautiful.

Her shirt, yo. Reno's voice chastised him. He looked down.



"Uh... Nice shirt." Cloud said, flustered. The sweater was tight in all the right places, favoring the guys with an ample amount of cleavage with it's low collar. He swallowed, a small voice in the back of his head wondering if she should be wearing that at work, while two more argued that while he was appreciative of the shirt he was also jealous that any other guy could appreciate it as well.

Tifa blushed. "Thanks."

Cloud cleared his throat as an awkward silence passed between them. He looked down the hallway towards the vending machines as a small light bulb flickered over his head. "Oh! Hey, you want a soda?"

"A soda?" Tifa asked hesitantly, looking down at her nearly empty glass of water.

"Yeah." Cloud smiled at her. "I'll go get you one, if you want. Since you can't really leave your desk, you know? I could even get you a glass and some ice."

"Oh." Tifa said, and Cloud's enthusiasm drooped a little at her voice. "No... No, that's okay. Thank you Cloud." She smiled at him. "I sort of... am on a strict diet right now. Sodas aren't really the healthiest thing right now, y'know? All that sugar..."

Cloud bit the inside of his cheek. "Yeah..." He agreed quietly, "Yeah!" He agreed with a little more enthusiasm, rubbing a hand over his face. Tifa smiled at him still, her eyebrows lifting for a moment as she looked down at her desk and pulled out a pen.

Cloud bit the inside of his cheek harder, staring at her. Just ask her, you idiot.

"Say, Tifa-"

The phone rang. Tifa lifted a finger as she snatched the phone from the cradle a little more quickly than usual, "Shinra Programming! Good morning, my name is Tifa. How may I help you?" She chirped into the phone cheerfully, smiling at the other voice on the line. "Oh, certainly Mr. Valentine, just one second..." She turned away from Cloud then, swiveling in her seat towards her computer and typing on the keyboard.

Cloud felt his heart break with every click of the keys.

Dejectedly he turned and shuffled back to his desk, shoving his hands into his pockets.

"Welcome back, yo. How'd it go?" Reno greeted him, quirking an eyebrow as Cloud ignored him and sat down at his desk.

Cloud slumped in his chair, pursing his lips and staring at the screen of his computer blankly. Even the cheerful image of a bright yellow bird on his screen didn't seem very colorful anymore. He sighed heavily, picking up a pencil and flipping it in his fingers. A moment later he pulled up closer to the desk and opened a program on the computer, attempting to type in some code and do some actual work.

A half hour and one line later Cloud gave up. He set the pencil down noisily and grabbed his half-eaten bag of Fritos, popping one of the corn chips into his mouth. Crunching loudly he stared up at the ceiling, eyebrows drawn together in thought.

Good going Strife, he chastised himself mentally, You'll never get a date with her at this rate. He frowned. Was it him? Did he stink? Have some food on his face?

He sighed wistfully, popping another crunchy chip into his mouth. Tifa Lockheart. Jewel of his own heart, really. He'd fallen in love with her the first day he'd stepped out of that elevator. It was just unfortunate that nearly every guy in the office had the hots for her. Could he blame them? She had the body of Aphrodite herself. Her voice was a Siren's and her heart made of gold. She was purity and sin altogether in one. A beautiful woman with a strong mind, who took better care of herself than half the people Cloud knew.

Cloud sighed again.

"Jeez get over it, yo!" Reno's muffled voice called from the other side of the cubicle.

Maybe it wasn't him, Cloud guessed. He dug his hand into the bag of Fritos, dismayed to find himself almost out. Plucking a chip out of the bag he flicked it over the side of the cubicle, amused by Reno's squawk of protest.

If it weren't for her... Cloud mused thoughtfully, I think I would've quit this job a lot sooner. This may just be temporary until I can find something better but I have to be honest with myself. I haven't really looked.

No other place would have Tifa.

Of course, if he did find another job, he might enjoy his own life a little better. He had to admit he'd much rather be at home, stuffing his face with coffee cake. That sounded pretty good, actually. In fact, maybe he wouldn't even go to work. He'd wake up, eat his cake, take a nice hot bath. Yeah, that sounded good. Then after he'd relaxed in the bubbles he'd go right back to his big, warm bed and go back to sleep.

That sounded so good right now.

He looked back down at his desk, glancing at his monitor. This job wasn't too bad, he guessed. He got to do what he wanted so long as he met deadlines. He wasn't bothered. Reno and Zack both worked here. The work itself was pretty easy, if boring. He got to create his own code and programs, able to flex his creative muscles.

"Bullshit." He muttered.

"Watch the mouth!" A familiar voice piped up from behind him and Cloud winced as something hit the back of his head.

"Ow." He grumbled, turning in his seat to spy Zack perched over Reno's side of the cubicle. A second later and the redhead joined him with a fox-like grin on his face.

"Looks like your heads back up in the clouds." Zack said with a small smirk of amusement, Reno's snickering doing nothing to appease Cloud's mood.

Cloud scowled. "Don't you have work to do?"

"Nope! Lunch break kiddo."

"Don't call me that."

"Why? Look at you. Here sulking in a corner. You're acting like one." Zack said with a cheerful grin.

"Looks like someone kicked your puppy," Reno drawled lazily, adding his two cents.

Cloud scowled at the both of them. "Shut up."

They both snickered. "Cheer up yo," Reno said, "It ain't that bad."

"What do you know?" Cloud objected sardonically, frowning into his suddenly empty bag of Fritos.

Zack walked over from behind the cubicle wall, his hand pulling out from around his back and presenting a fresh bag of unopened corn chips. "It's like what Reno says. It ain't that bad, Cloud." He said with a friendly smile.

Cloud felt a surge of relief flood his system just from the assurance he received. And the bag of Fritos did their part as well. He smiled back and took the bag, opening it. "Thanks Zack."

"No problem." His friend replied and looked up at Reno, who was watching the both of them amiably.

"You're lucky you got friends like us yo." The red head said.

Cloud smiled at the both of them. "Yeah. Guess I am."

And he was, really. Maybe this is how he got through his days at a job he would otherwise hate. If it weren't for Zack and Reno he would've given up a long time ago. They both understand his feelings for this place and for Tifa. And since the get go they've been providing the support he needed. He loved them both for that.

"By the way..." Zack said with a mischievous grin. "What are you doing Friday night?"

.:`'~ Code Monkey ~'`:.

Code Monkey get up get coffee
Code Monkey go to job
have boring meeting with boring manager Rob
Rob say Code Monkey very diligent
but his output stink
his code not functional or elegant
what do Code Monkey think
Code Monkey think maybe manager want to write goddamn login page himself
Code Monkey not say it out loud
Code Monkey not crazy just proud

Code Monkey like Fritos
Code Monkey like Tab and Mountain Dew
Code Monkey very simple man
with big warm fuzzy secret heart
Code Monkey like you
Code Monkey like you

Code Monkey hang around at front desk
tell you sweater look nice
Code Monkey offer buy you soda
bring you cup bring you ice
you say no thank you for the soda cause
soda make you fat
anyway you busy with the telephone
no time for chat

Code Monkey have long walk back to cubicle
he sit down pretend to work
Code Monkey not thinking so straight
Code Monkey not feeling so great

Code Monkey like Fritos
Code Monkey like Tab and Mountain Dew
Code Monkey very simple man
with big warm fuzzy secret heart
Code Monkey like you
Code Monkey like you a lot

Code Monkey have every reason
to get out this place
Code Monkey just keep on working
to see your soft pretty face
Much rather wake up eat a coffee cake
Take bath, take nap
This job fulfilling in creative way
such a load of crap
Code Monkey think someday he have everything even pretty girl like you
Code Monkey just waiting for now
Code Monkey say someday, somehow

Code Monkey like Fritos
Code Monkey like Tab and Mountain Dew
Code Monkey very simple man
with big warm fuzzy secret heart
Code Monkey like you
Code Monkey like you

.:`'~ Author's Notes ~'`:.

Weee! That was fun. :) Hope ya'll enjoy the story. I'm really digging Jonathon Coulton (that's who did Code Monkey, youtube it!)right now. I didn't really have much of anything planned with this story, it was just a fun tidbit. I'm thinking of doing Skullcrusher Mountain and Creepy Doll next. :D Not beta'd (since I wrote this completely spur of the moment) so any mistakes are my own.