“There’s something off about that Strife kid,” Kunsel muttered, narrow eyed glare hidden behind his helmet’s visor. Next to him, Zack turned, SOLDIER hearing easily picking up his friend’s words.
They both watched the cadets milling around the cafeteria, in particular, a pair of blonde cadets. One who was easily chatting with his peers, the other passively eating his allotted pile of mush.
“Who–Spike? Nah, he’s just a little shy, you know? I mean… yeah, he’s kind small, but he’s got heart.” Zack rambled, meaning well. Cloud Strife was a good kid, a nice one. If that were the criteria SOLDIER chose their candidates, he’d be shoe in. Unfortunately…
“No, the other one. His brother.”
“Oh. You think? He seems pretty friendly. And Cloudy said he was top of the class, I think.” Wind Strife, on the other hand, would make a decent Second Class in no time at all. Maybe even First Class in four or five years.
“Yeah, that’s what’s so suspicious,” The two Second Classes took a seat, their own food much more appetizing than the slop given to cadets. They were three tables away, but they could still pick up on what was being said–SOLDIER senses and all that. Not that cadets were good at moderating their voices. Most cadets, anyway.
“Wind, man, I can’t believe we actually won that last trial!” One of the cadets–Gregson, Greyson–something like that, whooped. Two other cadets at their table cheered in agreement.
“What? So little faith in me, Jake. Maybe next time I’ll pick someone else for my fireteam.” Wind joked, smiling to take the edge out of the words.
“He’s just saying we’re all surprised at how well we recovered after that idio– your brother fumbled the package,” said a different cadet, on the opposite side of the table. He was Smith or Jones, one of those ridiculously common names. He winced at his own verbal slip, knowing what was to come…
“I think my brother did pretty well, considering he didn’t have proper cover fire. We haven’t gotten to the higher level infiltration course yet, and Cloud still made it passed two of the enemies despite his distraction being two minutes late.”
… or not. That was pretty mild. Still obvious who was supposed to be in charge of Cloud’s cover fire and the distraction, though.
“Thanks Windy,” the smaller twin murmured, arm nudging into his brother’s side in gratitude.
“Y-yeah, Cloud. That was pretty cool,” The other cadet tried to backtrack, as others around the table also chimed in tentatively.
“I’m thinking about switching up our fireteam, though. Hey Stephen, you did pretty well on our last demolitions exam, didn’t you?”
A cadet at the very end of the table, Krantz, nearly falling off the bench seat, perked up at the sound of his name. “Yeah, uh, not as good as you though.”
“Don’t be so modest, Stephen. Better than Mitch, right?”
… and there it was.
While the rest of the table didn’t quite freeze, they were hesitant to interrupt. And Mitch Jones–the cadet who might as well have been eating his own foot for lunch–just gripped his utensils and accepted his fall from grace.
Wind, seemingly oblivious to the rest of the table’s silence, continued on, “How about next trial you join my fireteam? We’re all one squad anyway, we should get used to working with each other before the trials become squad versus squad.”
“Sounds great,” Krantz enthused, moving in to the space unconsciously made for him by the other cadets.
“Man, Wind, that’s a great idea” Gregson said, back to his previous volume, “You’d make a great squad leader,”
The rest of the boys around the table nodded and agreed, ingratiating.
“Ha, no way, but thanks. And plus, it’s the instructors that choose squad leaders isn’t it?” Wind demurred, though he waited a bit before switching topics, “Okay, hands up, who did not understand the strategy reading from yesterday? That textbook is so bad,”
The cadets then devolved into whining about their coursework, their classes, and their instructors for ten minutes, until the chime which signaled every half hour went off. As a herd they rushed through clearing the table and leaving the cafeteria.
When they were gone, Kunsel just made a face at Zack who, despite SOLDIER senses not including the ability to see through solids, could somehow still tell. Zack grimaced in return, “I see what you mean,”
Except for two words, Cloud hadn’t said a thing the entire lunch break. And that was to his brother. In contrast, Wind had held court over their table–his squad mates practically bowing down and swearing fealty. Zack himself had been just as popular during their time as cadets, but he hadn’t been that…
“The word you’re looking for is manipulative,” Kunsel chimed in, reading his friend’s shifting expressions.
“… Yeah. But, well. He’s not bad. He totally stood up for his brother, a good brother can’t be a horrible person, right?”
A/N: Uh… don’t know if I quite conveyed what I wanted to… but that’s what you have so… Also, I have a fondness for Windy Strife. I was gonna do another part about how people think Cloud calling Windy by hir birth name is an effeminate speech pattern on his part, when in fact it’s because Windy’s name is actually feminine. And Zack, trying to be friendly and stuff just calls Cloud Cloudy because of it.
Also, wrote two today for some reason… so check out the other one.