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They play poker while they're waiting. It's easier to have something to do with their hands and minds while they're waiting on chocobos to mate. Less voyeuristic, in a way. It's easy enough to tell when a mating has been successful, after all - the warking and cackling gives it away. But Chess, the stud chocobo, is a bit shy, and doesn't like being watched while he's doing his job.

Cloud can't believe how many jibes he's had to deal with about that. "Like rider, like chocobo" being the least of them. Tidus, Zidane and Bartz hadn't shut up until he'd taken on all three of them in a pitched battle and flattened them all. The bruises had been worth it.

Everyone had been surprised to learn Cloud knew how to breed chocobos (although the comments about that had been a bit on the offensive side as well). He'd shrugged it off - everyone has to have a hobby, after all. Well, maybe not Light - but then, Light always did remind him a bit of Sephiroth at times - same sort of isolation and lack of connection to what it meant to be human. Or maybe that was the bits of Zack inside Cloud speaking up. It was hard to tell sometimes.

But yeah, they all had hobbies. Noctis was impossible to get away from any pond they found in the wilderness, which had the advantage of being good for their food supplies - Materia could materialise something that she called "manna", but it tasted to Cloud exactly like Shinra iron rations, sawdust in flour glue. From the expressions of the others, he wasn't the only one to find it tasteless and unexciting. Nutritious, yes - he was pretty sure Materia had basically magicked up something designed to meet nutritional needs with minimal distraction, something which fitted the rather odd blind spots of the various personas of Order he'd worked for over the years. But it didn't really satisfy people's need for taste and colour in their lives. So when Noctis was able to catch something in one of the ponds, rivers or streams they encountered (this happened more frequently now - seemed Materia had caught on to what was missing and stocked things a bit better), they ate well that night.

Tidus, of course, tried to teach everyone blitzball, or at least the ground-based version of the game he'd worked out the last time he'd been pulled into these sorts of things, which he called football. Given the amount of times people were hitting the ball with their heads, chests, and elbows (no hands - that was something they'd added in to make things a bit more interesting), the name sometimes seemed a bit silly, but it was still fun to play when they had a bit too much energy, and not enough to do.

Squall could sew, and Lighting turned out to be able to knit, although the glares they'd turned on the people who'd been startled by the discovery had been remarkably similar. Terra was a remarkably good cook - it was she who transformed Noctis' catches into something amazing for the rest of them, with the help of Luneth, who turned out to be a pretty able botanist and forager when he wanted to.

"I grew up in a farming village," he told them. "Even if I did sneak off to try and adventure more often than not."

Bartz was another who was good with the chocobos, and after he'd learned to keep his wisecracks to himself, Cloud gratefully accepted his help with caring for their little (but rapidly growing) flock.

Cecil was a pretty good armourer, and he was glad to accept Cloud's assistance in doing smithing. Squall was another one who was good with the maintenance side of things, as well as with creating new weapons for them out of whatever they could find. Most of them were okay on the maintenance side of things with their particular weapons and gear, but it was Cecil, Cloud and Squall who could create new weapons for them. Zidane was pretty good with leather-work - turned out he'd learned how to fix his own boots in the course of having to tour around his world (this was one thing they all had in common - they'd done a lot of travel in their various worlds, and worn out a lot of boot-leather in the process), since he apparently had slightly oddly-shaped feet.

They had their performers, of course. Firion could play the flute, as well as materialising roses out of nowhere; Zidane, of course, could act and had a very passable singing voice, as well as being able to play a number of instruments. Vaan was good at sleight-of-hand, and when he and Zidane got going on the "magic" tricks, they could keep the party entertained for a long while. Shantotto was a surprisingly good storyteller, once you got used to her quirk of always speaking in rhyming couplets.

But generally their hobbies tended in the direction of practical things - things that would make it easier to get through the long journey, things that would make their task more straightforward. Things like caring for and breeding chocobos.

Both Squall and Zidane carried packs of cards with them, (as did Ace, of course, but he used his as a weapon) and once this was discovered, everyone set about exchanging the various card games they knew. Turned out everyone knew a version of something like poker, so after a few false starts while the various rules were explained and countered, it often became a popular pastime around the camp-fire, or while they were waiting for things to happen. They'd bet favours, or stake bits and pieces of this and that they found as they were exploring. It was quickly determined who the best players were - Squall was high on the list, his poker face and skill with bluffing made him a dangerous player; Cloud was another with an excellent poker face; so, surprisingly, was Luneth, who combined the younger person's passionate intensity with a sharp mind, and the almost uncanny ability to guess what another person was holding in their hand. Cecil and Noctis were both hopeless players - neither of them could bluff worth a damn, and they had no idea what their hand was worth; Cecil tended to stay out, while Noctis would participate for as long as he could afford to, but after the first week, he owed everyone favours. Shantotto was a canny player, when she played - usually she sat out, thinking it a childish amusement; while the cat-woman, Y'shtola, was an interesting player to play against - her play was sometimes inconsistent, but when she was paying attention, she was deadly. Zidane and Vaan were about middling - they were good at bluffing, but both tended to over-bluff. Ramza and Ace did okay, but tended to sit back and watch.

Firion, Bartz, Tidus and Terra weren't all that interested. They'd watch, and sometimes offer commentary, but Tidus and Bartz preferred more active recreations, while Firion and Terra didn't have the cut-throat streak necessary to be good poker players.

But it was during one of the games they discovered Light's hobby. He'd shown up, unexpected, and settled in to watch for a bit. Then, once he'd apparently worked out the rules, he'd asked to be dealt in and proceeded to fleece the other players mercilessly, starting with Vaan and Zidane, then moving on to take some of Squall's best cards, and completely destroy Luneth.

As Cloud pointed out later, it made sense that Light's hobby was being a poker shark. (He didn't mention this was another point of similarity between Light and Sephiroth. That was his private amusement).