Step 23: Punching Bag
Step 23: Punching Bag
I've been eating at the Seventh Heaven lately, much to Cloud's annoyance, though not for free anymore, I insisted on paying since I wouldn't want to take advantage of Tifa's kindness, I am still trying to redeem myself after all. I have realized that I'm more human than I thought, which is comforting but at the same time challenging.
I can't be only a legendary hero, I'm a person too and while epic heroes may be just and fair, I as a human, am allowed to have one little flaw, I hate Cloud Strife. I'm not justice, I'm not perfection, I'm not the hero who loves everyone, I'm a human and I can have negative emotions. I find that it's easier to deal with the world when I'm not trying to force myself to like everyone.
As I enter the training room, I see something quite strange and ugly. "What is that?" I stare in disbelief at the life size inflatable toy of Cloud Strife, though a chubbier version.
"A punching bag!" Reno cheers, "isn't it awesome? I got it off the internet! Apparently some random fan girl made it, said something about having moved on to fan girl someone else so she was auctioning her Cloud collection."
"People can get the wrong idea if you buy things like this from fan girls," I pointed out.
Reno shrugged, his carefree expression still present, "who cares, you worry too much about what people think. If you keep worrying you'll get gray hairs... oh way, you already have them."
"Silver, Reno, my hair is silver!" I clarify.
He laughs, the nerve, "touchy!" Then he gives the Cloud toy a gentle push, it bobs back and forth.
I watch the Cloud toy, following it with my eyes like a cat, then give it a small punch, just enough to make it go back and forth again. This is strangely amusing, I repeat the action, I feel a little stupid but maybe I do worry about what people think too much. I shouldn't worry so much about what people think, especially with Reno as the only witness, he doesn't think. I hit the Cloud toy again, and again, until I hit it too hard and it flies away, crashes against the opposite wall of the training room and deflates indignantly.
"You broke it," Reno gives me the sad kitten eyes.
"Sorry about that, I'll get you another one," I'm not looking forward to browsing online for Cloud fan made merchandise.
"It's okay, we can still fix this one," Reno goes over to the deflated toy and observes the rip on its face, like a scar from the forehead down over the nose. "I think there's some tape around here, you know the thick gray one, not cheap beige stuff." Finding the tape is easy enough and Reno fixes the toy with it. "There, now we just need to blow it up again... I just thought of something, could you start blowing it up for me? I'll be right back."
"How convenient," I know Reno is just using me to get out of emptying his lungs, but since I broke his toy, I'll go along with it, "fine."
"Be right back!" Reno runs off, leaving me with the task of restoring the Cloud inflatable.
I take a deep breath, filling my lungs with oxygen and start blowing up the toy. I repeat the action once more then stop, Reno blew it up before me and some strange girl blew it up before him and I'm touching this thing with my mouth? "Ew, gross!" I wipe my mouth furiously and the air I had managed to get into the toy escapes when I drop it. There has to be another way to do this. I search in a near by utility closet and find my answer in the form of an air pump of some sort. I start trying to fill up the Cloud toy with air, but the pump is too fast and strong, I can't stop it on time and the inflatable explodes.
"What was that noise?" Reno returns to find the rubber pieces of his Cloud toy all over the floor.
Here I stand in the middle of the mess, with the accusing air pump in my hand. "I broke it," I confess, "by accident," I add in case there were any doubts, "I'm sorry."
Reno pouts, "I'm not letting you borrow my toys anymore."
"I'll replace it," I offer, though I'm really not looking forward to that.
"Never mind, look what I printed," Reno shows me a print out of Cloud's face with pink hair, increased in size to the proportion of the real one, taking up the whole paper. "I was going to stick it on the inflatable but I guess I'll put it over there." He walks over to the punching bag and tapes Cloud's face over it.
"Good idea," it's completely silly and I know it, but I still think this is strangely amusing. "Let's print more." Pretty soon, I'll have plenty of Clouds to punch and kick.
xoxox xox xoxox
A little later, Tseng, Rude and Elena arrived, with the leader inquiring, "Reno, why is the training equipment covered in Cloud pictures?"
"Sir," I start out a little embarrassed, okay, maybe more than just a little. Being stupid around Reno is not so bad because he will always be more stupid, but I don't feel so great about being stupid around the more serious Tseng, even less around Elena and her overactive imagination. Rude is okay, he's there, but it's like he's not there, he hardly makes his presence known so it's easy to pretend he didn't witness anything. "This is my fault."
"You don't have to take the blame for Reno," Tseng replied, certain that it was all Reno's fault and Reno's fault alone.
"Why is everything always my fault?" Reno pouts.
"It's true, it was my fault this time," I insist. I feel like a goody-goody little boy confessing his mischief to the teacher in hopes of being accepted to hand out with the bad boys, except it all backfires when the teacher won't believe him.
Tseng gives it some thought, "really?" I nod and he gives it some more thought, "well, that's alright, I suppose everyone needs a way to let out their tensions."
Tseng walks over to the controls of the training chamber to get things ready for today's session, Rude stands to the side blending in perfectly with the inanimate objects and Elena pokes the pink haired Cloud face on a nearby punching bag. Reno pouts, but his eyes show amusement and a hint of mischief that worries me, "dude, you can get away with anything."
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII. Special thanks to Kaarina Helvete for the Cloud punching bag idea. The Cloud toy's 'scar' is a reference to Squall.