Now that Cloud's finally made it to S class, there's nothing that stands in his way! ...or is there? Note: Originally done for ff_drabble. Reposted here because I felt like it.
Cloud concentrated on his breathing. Around him, jockeys bustled, chocobos squawked and warked, and the crackling voice of the commentator called out the positions on the current, C class race.
For all of its piss poor prizes, Cloud suddenly missed C class. C class had been a cake walk. This, this wouldn't be so easy and, much as he hated to admit it, he was nervous.
He didn't know if chocobos could sense fear, but there was one thing in the stables that certainly could - Cid Highwind.
"Hey Cloud!" The blond pilot slapped an arm around Cloud's shoulders. "Why so long in the face? You aren't nervous, are you?"
"Only a little." He muttered, reaching out to rub the top of Rainier's head. The bird made happy little chorup noises and nibbled his hair.
"Ah, c'mon! So it's S Class, so what?" Cid grinned and gestured with his cigarette. "You have a green chocobo! You jogged through the last three classes! What's going to stop you here? HEY!"
Cid's cigarette was plucked from his fingers by the chocobo in the next stall. The bird blinked at them, curiously, then gave a protesting wark as a tanned hand reached out of the stall and removed the thin twist of paper and tobacco from its clutches.
"Teioh!" A voice accompanied the hand, scolding. "Don't eat those, they're bad for you!"
Cloud looked at the chocobo and tried not to whimper. Black. He'd never even seen a black chocobo before.
The stall door open and the chocobo's rider emerged. He flashed them a smile, too broad and white in his tanned face, and held out Cid's cigarette. The blond took its sorry remains and gave an odd, not-quite-smile. The jockey shrugged. "Sorry 'bout that. He has a terrible habit of trying to eat anything that contains vegetation, burnt or not. By the way," He reached up and touched the brim of his hat in a little salute. In the shadow of the broad brim, his light brown eyes glittered in a way that reminded Cloud uncomfortably of Reno's nightstick. "I don't think we've been properly introduced. My name's Joe. Pleased to meet you. See you on the track, huh?" Still grinning and giving his bird one last pat on the beak, he turned and swaggered off.
The two blonds watched him go, dumbstruck. As he sauntered out of sight, out into the Golden Saucer proper, Cloud looked at Cid. "You were saying?"