"Cloud," she said, concerned and utterly serious, "why don't you dress up as a girl? It's the only way."
Cloud had only thought his day was going downhill fast before -- Aeris insisting to come along, Tifa to rescue -- but this precise moment was when he realized at the end of the slope was a rather nice cliff, and he had just rolled right over the edge.
If either Aeris or Simon had started to laugh Cloud would have dismissed the whole thing. Instead Simon streaked ahead through the crowd with the intensity of a lion on the hunt, Aeris following on the housecat's heel with her fingers tight on Cloud's wrist. He threw Skally a pleading look, but she merely kept trotting along, eyes bland and whiskers twitching in silent mirth. Traitor.
The rest of the morning whirled by in a mess of brain-searing moments that he did his best to exist through without thinking too much about. His reputation in Wall Market was probably beyond repair before he was halfway through hunting down everything Aeris insisted he needed to pass. It was almost a relief when he could retreat to the clothes shop and disappear in the changing room.
Almost, because whenever he was there it meant he had to put on the dress again.
"Why do I have to change underwear again?" he grouched, trying not to think too much about silk cupping his privates. Brr.
"It'll show through the dress, Cloud," Aeris replied patiently. "Are you ready yet?"
He didn't want to be, but he was, so he pushed the drapes open and trudged out, dress, perfume, lingerie, wig and all, already somehow knowing that in a matter of seconds Aeris would start in on his posture and gait instead.
"Hm, not bad," said the dressmaker's little black terrier, trotting all around him so that her long belly-fur swished around her short paws like a floor-length skirt, tail straight up like an antenna.
"You're right," the dressmaker replied, looking Cloud over thoughtfully. Cloud stood there and pretended he was elsewhere, which had been working pretty well so far for him. "This may be a new business for me."
His daughter was so pleased with her father's returning enthusiasm for his craft that she offered them the dress. Cloud tried halfheartedly to look pleased; thankfully everyone was still exclaiming over the dress and wasn't looking at his face. Apart from Skally, who looked cynical and mildly amused.
"Yes, yes, very good," she drawled, and licked one of her paws, the picture of unconcern. "Just one small issue. How are we planning to disguise my being female?"
Every eye turned to her; she huffed and kept grooming, ignoring them pointedly. Skally was a slender, long-legged feline, and her fur was short and sleek enough that there was no way on earth to disguise the utter lack of balls under her tail.
Simon dropped off the counter where he was making nice with the dressmaker's daughter's mouse and strolled up to her, tail up. "Hm, actually, that man might like that one of his potential paramours might possess a rare same-gender daemon."
He started circling Skally, looking her up and down the way Aeris did before deciding that he needed a tiara or a pair of high heels; Cloud was tempted to warn Skally but she'd abandoned him to his fate earlier, she could manage on her own.
"What will be harder to disguise," Simon added after a long, thoughtful pause, a purr rolling under his voice, "is your predatory strength, how lethal you are. It's lucky you also have a hunter's grace, and such a dainty, elegant muzzle..."
... Alright, wait a minute there, thought Cloud, not sure if they'd been complimented or not. Skally merely watched the daemon strolling around her with a jaundiced eye and replied, "You're aware that I'm about four times your size, right?"
Simon tilted his head and tried to look mild and innocent.
Cloud choked. Aeris hummed out a distracted little song and started poking around in the hangers. "Oh, Miss Cloud is so pretty, I'm jealous. I need a new dress too!"
The frenzy of activity this provoked around the dress shop managed to thoroughly distract everyone from the topic of her daemon's shameless behavior. Cloud was not fooled.
He was also doing his best to pretend he was not, actually, standing around in high heels and silk panties, so he just sighed and looked at the flyers on the wall until it was time to go.