There were condoms on his bed. A quick sideways glance at the other two beds in the room confirmed that this was not a turndown feature for this particular inn: only his bed – the one with his pack at the foot of it – was graced with the things.

They weren't just on his bed, either, but on his pillow. Like some sort of adult-rated version of the mints used in high-end hotels. In fact...

He took another look.


Tingle Mint brand.

Of course. That had Yuffie's name all over it.

It wasn't so much that the condoms were there that he found annoying, as the fact that every single person who joined their party seemed to feel the need to make an offering to his sex life. Did they really think he didn't know how and where to buy the things himself? Did they think he wouldn't think to buy them on his own?

His friends – and sometimes he applied that label loosely – also seemed to feel the need to make some sort of commentary with their choices. Barret, for instance, had slipped them to him in the hallway at the bar one night, like they were in some sort of spy movie, and this the super-secret microfilm.

He'd purchased size extra extra small.

Cloud hadn't even known they made them that tiny. He appreciated Barret's opinion of his equipment, though. Enough to contemplate giving all the itsy bitsy things to Marlene as 'balloons'.

Cid, on the other hand, had gone large – big enough he probably thought they were too big. They were also 'shaped for a man's pleasure'. As some of the shapes were quite bizarre, he had to wonder what, exactly, Cid thought the mako had done to him.

Aerith – and hadn't that been a shock – had gone for colored. Various shades of pink, actually. They were 'studded for her pleasure', and he was almost more insulted by that fact than by Barret's estimation of his size. (He could take – and would take, and had taken – care of 'her pleasure' all on his own, without aid of latex textures.)

Red XIII chose glow in the dark, for reasons Cloud could only guess... and was reluctant to speculate on overlong. Maybe he thought human eyesight needed the help. Whatever his reasoning, Cloud found a new appreciation for it after Cait Sith gave him a drugstore bag full of Del Sol Teasers. Glow in the dark were positively tame in comparison.

Although there was something strangely appropriate in a novelty toy buying novelty toys.

Beyond whatever judgment of Cloud's character that prompted him to buy them, Vincent apparently felt no compulsion to comment on the content, quality, color, or texture of the actual sex to be had. The package he left on top of Cloud's pack was non-descript and the contents equally plain.

Generic condoms. In multiple sizes.

The former Turk took efficiency past art form into compulsion.

Next had been chocolate flavored – slipped in next to their spare materia – and he'd been certain those were from Yuffie. Especially given all her comments on how stingy Tifa was about sharing her stash of Ultimate Milk bars. He hadn't called her on it, so maybe she was trying harder to get a reaction by leaving these on his pillow?

With a sigh he swept them off the bed and onto the night table, then began removing his belt and pauldron. He was pulling his shirt out of his pants when a soft knock at the door announced Tifa's arrival; she slipped inside when he called that it was open, locking it behind her before crossing the room to wrap her arms around his waist.

"What do you think?" she asked, leaning into him from behind.

"About what?"

She pointed at the mint-flavored, tingling offenders. "About those."

Cocking his head he eyed her over his shoulder. "You left those?"

"Just before we left for dinner." She sat down on the side of the bed and began working at the laces on her boots, studiously ignoring his gaze.

Cloud was confused, and – truthfully – rather disturbed. Frowning, he turned to face her. "Why?"

Smiling, she glanced up at him from under her lashes. "Everyone was doing it?"

Rolling his eyes he folded his arms and continued to look stern. Tried to, anyway – he could see the humor in the situation, even if he wasn't particularly impressed that even she thought it necessary to do his shopping. A weight in his back pocket attested to just how unnecessary it was.

She laughed, soft and teasing, and slipped her suspenders off her shoulders. "Relax. Yuffie gave them to me." Reaching up, she curled her fingers around his waistband and tugged to pull him down on the bed with her. "Besides," she breathed in his ear, "we ran out of generics, and you refuse to use the pink ones."