Nobody likes Windy Strife.
They like who zie could be. They like how zie can and will change to be what they want.
Mom, too, never really liked Windy. She loved hir, of course, an unconditional mother’s love, but it wouldn’t be wrong to say that she liked Cloud better. A daydreamer son over the grim and jaded child forever roaming the wilds–in mind, if not also in body.
Windy’s still sorry that zie couldn’t be the daughter that she wanted.
It’s not the first time Windy’s been on Rufus Shinra’s cargo ship–at some point every Turk does a guard rotation on it, Winter not exempt from this–but it’s certainly the first time as a stowaway.
The accommodations aren’t too different, sadly, but zie definitely agrees with the others that finally getting hir feet on the ground of Costa del Sol is a relief.
Still AVALANCHE is technically a terrorist group–and Windy an accessory if not already a ShinRa traitor–and so they have to maintain a low profile while securing a place to rest and recover.
Thankfully, zie has an idea.
“Aerith?” zie asks her, “Can I borrow your spare dress for a bit?”
Everyone else, preferring to pretend zie doesn’t exist, turns to hir with suspicion, but that’s hardly anything new.
“Of course,” Aerith answers, because Winter’s former charge is the nicest and only person that tolerates hir presence. “Though I don’t think my jacket will fit you,” she says while rummaging through her pack.
It’s true that Windy has broader shoulders, but thankfully the dress itself is sleeveless and feminine enough to suit hir purposes.
“This isn’t the time for a makeover,” Lockhart scoffs, “though at least you’ve finally acknowledged that you need one.”
Windy grits hir teeth and tries not to visibly react, but hir gratitude to Aerith is strained.
A quick change and Windy’s current outfit is replaced with Aerith’s pink dress and Winter’s button up shirt folded and coyly tied as needed. It’s hardly anything to swipe a pair of sandals from an outdoor stall–as easy as undoing hir bun–and in a matter of moments it’s not Windy or even Winter the Turk standing there but someone else entirely.
Wendy goes to work.
When the twins had traveled from Nibelheim to Midgar, they had stopped in Costa del Sol. Passage to the Eastern Continent is expensive for one, two is more so.
Beyond the reach of Mt. Nibel’s harsh climes, Windy learns to be softer, warmer. Smile sweetly and look demur, but never promise more than zie can give.
Wendy is just a girl from the boondocks trying to get to the big city, what else would she be?
Surprisingly enough, Butch remembers Windy. Or, rather, Wendy.
Zie was fifteen and new to creating aliases, though zie hasn’t gotten much more creative.
“Wendy, babe, sexier than ever!” Butch calls out from his shop when he spots her approach. “I knew you couldn’t resist this for long,” he gestures to himself, eyes raking up her form. She knows what he sees: she’s taller than before, increase in height greater than her increase in bust, but she’s a fully grown woman now.
Yeah, Butch is sleazy, but he’s pretty well off and, more importantly, well connected in Costa del Sol.
And, unlike some people Wendy met, all talk.
Wendy smiles, leaning against the counter, forearm pushing up and emphasizing her assets.
“Midgar just doesn’t compare to Costa del Sol,” she sighs–perhaps meaning something besides the cities, perhaps not–looking up through her lashes. “Unfortunately, I’m only here to prepare for a party being thrown next week–and of course I can get you an invite–but I need to make sure accommodations are perfect.” She bites her lip, looking away for a second as if checking for eavesdroppers, “I can’t say who it’s for, of course, but let’s just say it’d make quite the buzz.”
Even across the ocean, Honey Bee Inn is famous.
“Is that so?” Butch asks, unconvincingly casual and completely hooked.
Wendy’s smile–or, rather, Winter’s smile–grows sharp, “I don’t suppose you could help me get the key to The Villa?”
In Midgar, the Strife twins were still the Strife twins, but they were Wind and Cloud–brothers both trying out for SOLDIER.
Wind was a man’s man–or, at least, a man in the making in comparison to the utter boys that some of his fellow cadets were. Smart and skilled and surprisingly charismatic, everything a future SOLDIER should strive to be.
Too bad Wind Strife was never real.
Technically The Villa is called Shinra Villa–built by the President as a summer home–but considering the sheer opulence and scale of it, no other villa in Costa del Sol deserves the epithet.
Of course, much like it’s derelict sibling Nibelheim, it hasn’t been owned by Shinra in a long time. But, alas, no one else can afford such an obnoxious piece of real estate, and so it remains empty.
But not necessarily unused.
Windy is still in hir Wendy headspace, flashier and more feminine than hir real self, and so she presents the doors of The Villa with all the flair of a showgirl.
Zie’s actually really proud of hirself, so the continued blankly suspicious stares from the majority of the party aren’t exactly what zie hoped for. Aerith, at least, seems pleased at having an actual bed to sleep in.
Well, it’s not like zie’s unused to going unappreciated.
But it is, admittedly, nicer than the Inn would be and so the group spread out to claim their own piece of luxury.
Except for her brother whose brow is furrowed, eyes clearer than they have been in weeks.
“What’s wrong, Cloud?” zie asks, once everyone else has left the foyer. They don’t often get time alone–how strange, when that’s how they lived more than half of their lives–and zie’s certain it’s on purpose.
He’s quiet for long enough that Windy thinks maybe he’s just going to ignore hir until he finally asks: “Was that a you thing, or a Turk thing?”
There are no female SOLDIERS.
It’s bullshit, yes, but it’s bullshit couched in enough scientific and legal jargon that some country hoyden isn’t going to change their mind, no matter if zie was top cadet.
But there are female Turks.
And the Turks are certainly interested in a candidate who can keep a secret under scrutiny.
Windy is recruited. Cloud is not.
Maybe that’s where it all went wrong.
Windy’s responding smile isn’t the sharp smirk of Winter or the coy curve of Wendy, it’s small and sad and honest.
“You never did like when I pretended to be other people,” zie says helplessly.
Having witnessed the vacant Cloud and the Cloud that is a vessel for Zack Fair–neither of them hir Cloud–zie finally understands.
A/N: Thanks for the prompt, saltykrispycake! I also love Windy, but alas zie does not get much love within Into Thin Air. Perhaps that changes in Unto The Climate? Anyway, I appreciated getting the chance to write more of hir life (even if it is bleak… and repetitive from some earlier ITA ficlets. I really ought to make a cohesive timeline)
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