Author's Note: This stemmed from another random conversation. Thanks, Kerttu!
Disclaimer: I don't own this, and I DO know how the actual plot goes. Don't worry :) My sanity, on the other hand...
"Mouse Trap. I wanted to play Mouse Trap. You roll your dice, you move your mice. Nobody gets hurt." ~ Bob the Tomato
Cloud groaned, pain rattling his body from being slammed into the roof of the dilapidated ShinRa building. The One-Winged Angel, Sephiroth, hovered above him, Masamune raised. Cloud's foot throbbed from having been skewered by the cursed blade and the cut on his cheek stung. Reaching to grip Frist Tsurugi's hilt, he hauled himself to a sitting position.
With a smirk that would have made Angeal Hewley frown in disapproval, Sephiroth careened down toward him. Cloud, however, weakly lifted his hands in a 'T' position. Sephiroth promptly decelerated and landed lightly atop the dented metal beside his fallen opponent.
"Something the matter?" Sephiroth asked, making a face as he wiped some of the blood off his sword.
Cloud grimaced. "That last hit really did a number on my shoulder." A dull ache spread down his right side, accompanying the shooting pains.
One silver eyebrow raised. "Would you like to call it quits for the day?"
Cloud gingerly dabbed at the blood oozing from his cheek with the hem of his shirt. "Yeah."
Setting Masamune aside, Sephiroth plopped down next to him and began to rifle through his coat pockets. "Is it too dark?" he asked, shooting a glance up at the sky. Black clouds swirled menacingly overhead.
"Nah. Tifa keeps bugging me about 'trying to find my light,' and it's annoying the crap out of me. Darkness is nice."
Sephiroth snorted, producing two boxes of cards with no small amount of triumph. "That's why I kept my distance from the female population. Well, aside from Mother, but mothers are different. Uno or Go Fish?"
"Go Fish." As the mako in his body began to knit the skin on his foot back together, Cloud shifted to sit cross-legged. "She keeps dropping hints like I'm going to ask her to marry me or something." He raked a hand through his matted spikes. "You have no idea how frustrating it is."
Sephiroth spared him a pitying glance as he slid the cards out of the box. "Have you flat-out told her you have absolutely no feelings towards her whatsoever?"
"I've tried, but she always goes off on these spiels about how I need to get over what happened to Aeris and move on."
Sephiroth paused in his shuffling and blinked. "What does Aeris have to do with anything?"
"I have no idea!" Cloud exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air. "I tell you, being the Planet's Hero is tough."
"Well, I know someone who would gladly take up the position should you ever resign." Sephiroth began to deal the cards.
The comment perked Cloud up. "Seriously?"
"Mmhmm. He's got a few screws loose, but I think you'd like him. What do you want to do for stakes?"
Frowning, Cloud rested his chin on his hands. He drummed his fingers a few times while he thought. "How about... if I win, you get rid of the Geostigma and if you win, I'll give you any two of my mastered materia."
"Only the Geostigma? I was fully prepared to hand over my Moogle plushies if need be."
"Eh, I figure everyone would be pretty mad if I didn't do something productive. But if you're offering..."
Sephiroth quickly cut in. "No, I wasn't."
"Whatever, then. Is that fair?"
"...Do you have Ultima?"
"Then yes, it's fair."
And so the two of them commenced their game of Go Fish on top of the blood-spattered roof of the ruined ShinRa complex.
"Got any twos?"
"Go fish. Got any eights?"
"Your Ultima materia shall be mine."
Having lost sight of the two combatants long ago, the AVALANCHE crew began to wonder what had become of their spiky blond hero. They eventually happened upon them over an hour later. Sephiroth, who had been defeated in the first game, declared that they should play the best four out of five. Cloud agreed, as he had nothing better to do.
"Cloud!" Tifa cried, rushing to the scene only to stop short in confusion. "What's going on? Are you hurt?"
The noise startled Sephiroth and Cloud, both of whom had been engrossed in their game. Cloud glanced up at Tifa, then at his foot. It seemed to have healed, and his shoulder was feeling much better. "Nah, not really."
"Then just wha' the hell d'ya think you're doin' Spiky?" Barret roared. He waved his gun-arm around.
"Playing Go Fish," Cloud replied, oozing 'duh.'
The AVALANCHE crew stared.
Tifa was the first to regain her voice. "But what about the kids?" she demanded. "And the Geostigma? And-and me?"
Cloud shot Sephiroth a told you so look. "What do you think we're playing for? Gil?"
"They don't take gil as an acceptable form of currency in the Lifestream," Sephiroth mumbled.
"What are you talking about, Chocobo-brains?" Yuffie yelled, causing those both in and out of her immediate vicinity to flinch. But she was always yelling.
Rubbing his eyes, Cloud set his cards aside. Face-down, mind you, so Sephiroth couldn't cheat. "If I win, he'll remove the Geostigma," he explained as patiently as he could. "It's so much less painful than fighting."
"But... ain't that what yer s'posed ta do?" Cid asked, scratching the side of his head. "I mean... don't y' two hate each other?"
The two mortal enemies burst out laughing. Sephiroth wiped away a tear of mirth.
"Y-You really are inferior dullards. Why would you think that?"
"Yeah, I mean, this is how we solved things last time."
Yuffie's jaw dropped. "You mean you two sat around in the Planet's Core playing cards the whole time?"
To that day, Sephiroth had never actually explained why he hadn't been wearing a shirt during that particular game, but Cloud was willing to let it slide considering how terribly the ex-general had lost. "Pretty much. I mean, Seph is fun to spar with and all, but... he sucks at card games."
Sephiroth stuck out his tongue. "I was out of practice, okay?" he snapped. "You would be too if the only person around to play with was Zack Fair."
"Ay!" Barret shouted. "And what about that, huh? What about all the stuff Sephiroth did?"
"Sephiroth didn't kill Zack," Cloud pointed out.
"But he hurt him," Tifa said, "and me."
"And he went crazy!"
"And burned down your home!"
"And killed your mother!"
Disbelief washed over the group as Cloud shrugged. "So? Mistakes happen."
"Mistakes?" Tifa shrieked. "You call ruining your life a mistake?"
"I did nothing of the sort," Sephiroth said. "And if you're referring to Cloud's handing over of the Black Materia, he lost that in a game of Checkers."
"What about Aeris?" Tifa hissed. "Didn't she mean something to you?"
"For the last time, NO! She was Zack's girlfriend, for Gaia's sake!"
"But that bastard killed her! Don't you hate him for that? Even a little bit?"
Cloud and Sephiroth exchanged a glance. "Why?" he asked. "He sent her back to the Lifestream to be with Zack."
Tifa's mouth flapped open and closed a few times. "Wh-what about Meteor?" she stammered. "He was going to destroy the Planet!"
Raising his arms, Cloud motioned to the ruins around them. "He was going to destroy Midgar," he corrected. "As in the evil organization threatening this Planet's existence? Holy was only cast so it wouldn't smash a huge hole in the ground."
"Kind of like... a pillow for Meteor to land on," Sephiroth supplied thoughtfully.
Cloud expressed unspoken approval of Sephiroth's analogy by smiling at him while he swatted the general's wandering hand away from his cards. "Yeah. It would have worked too, if the Planet hadn't freaked the heck out."
"So what's all this Geostigma crap, then?" Barret boomed.
Sephiroth glared at AVALANCHE. "Do you know what it's like having a mother who's missing half her body because some deranged man claiming to be a scientist injected her cells into every Tom, Dick and Harry on the Planet? I was only trying to retrieve of Mother's cells so we can stick her arm back on!"
Everyone on the roof collectively covered their ears when Yuffie squealed in disgust. "Ewww! I did not need to know that!"
"Can you guys just leave already?" Cloud whined. "I really want to finish this game. My Ultima materia is on the line."
And just like that, Tifa snapped. "Fine! I see how it is. Consider me out of your life forever, Cloud!"
"I never asked to be in your life in the first place!"
Wheeling around, Tifa pushed her way past the others and ran off somewhere, presumably back to the bar. It was probably best, since Denzel and Marlene had been left unsupervised for an awfully long time. Were there still Shadow Creepers running around Edge? Cloud wondered if he should've included getting rid of them in the terms of their wager as well.
"Well, aren't you a sorry-looking crowd."
Cloud turned at the unfamiliar voice and was presented with a face full of soft, black feathers. An auburn-haired man wearing an elegant red leather coat gracefully alighted a few meters away. His large black wing giving a final, distinguished flap before coming to rest at his side.
Sephiroth smiled, big and goofy, at the newcomer. "Genesis! I was just mentioning you earlier."
Genesis put his hands on his hips and arched an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"Hey!" Cid exclaimed, pointing a finger. "Ain't you s'posed to be dead?"
"Even if the morrow is barren of promises, nothing shall forestall my return," Genesis drawled. He quickly lost interest in conversation and turned his attention to the card game. "What are you playing? Poker? Bridge?"
"Go Fish," Yuffie muttered.
The smirk that spread across Genesis' face was the one that had made even the staunchest of SOLDIERs wet their pants. "Deal me in," he barked as he moved to sit down. "I'll make you both sorry you got out of bed this morning."
"Speaking of which, where have you been the past few years?" Sephiroth asked.
"Sleeping. Underneath Midgar. But I heard some noise outside, so I thought I'd come see what the fuss was all about."
"You've got to bet something," Cloud interjected.
Sephiroth answered first. "He bets half his stash of can openers."
"You drive a hard bargain," Genesis grumbled, picking up his cards.
"I'm playing for a mastered Ultima, so it's only fair."
The rest of AVALANCHE shifted awkwardly, each wondering how what had seemed like an epic struggle for the Planet's survival could have boiled down to this. It eventually appeared to be the general unspoken consensus that they would all go home and forget that any of this had ever happened, when Cloud turned glanced over his shoulder once again.
"Hey Vincent, wanna join us?"
The ex-Turk gunman, sole host of Chaos, who had been silent up until that point, shrugged and strode over.
"Got any sevens?"
A/N: A few sentences into this, I realized it would be my first humor fic without Genesis. As you can see, I fixed that.
Thank you all for reading!