Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VII and all associated materials are property of Squaresoft. The song "What's Up Lonely" belongs to Kelly Clarkson.

What's Up, Lonely
By: Nanaki BH

"And… is it normal for me to be attracted to other boys?"

It certainly wasn't the most common of questions for a routine checkup; let alone from the young Rufus Shinra. The stethoscope the doctor held fell from his hands and clattered noisily on the floor. He was quick to apologize and had it returned to his nervous grasp. What could he tell him? All that was said in his office was typically kept confidential, but he also had an obligation to his president.

Then again… he looked down at the young shirtless boy who lay on the table, obviously shaken by his own inquiry. How could he betray the young master Shinra? After all, he had an even friendlier relationship with him than his overbearing father. "It's perfectly normal for boys your age," he said, though he smacked himself for it inwardly.

"Really?" Rufus asked timidly, sitting up on the table. He had his hands in his lap and his shoulders bowed together like a frightened animal. "But… what if I really do… you know… like guys?"

It was the question of the century. Rufus Shinra too had an obligation to his father: a child. He had to marry and bear him an heir. The problem was: Rufus had already shown discontent with that request. This new addition to his dilemma would only prove to complicate things further.

The doctor took him by the shoulders to ease him. "Don't worry. It's something that all kids your age go through; boys and girls alike. There's a time when they wonder if maybe they're attracted to the same sex. It lasts anywhere from a day to a week to many weeks."

"I know that, but how long is many weeks?" he asked.

He decided not to be alarmed by the boy's question. There was no need to be; not for him, at least. If Rufus were gay, then he would support him as a doctor. It wasn't his father's place, nor was the doctor even inclined to tell him what went on in that room. The president would have surely appreciated the word, but he wouldn't be hearing about this conversation. If he were to hear about it, it would be from Rufus's own mouth.

"Each person takes their own time with it. What sort of things have you noticed?" he asked him, picking up his clipboard.

A look of terror (and a slight trace of anger) crossed Rufus's face. "Don't write!" he said desperately. "Please… I just don't want my father to know."

That fact was fairly obvious already. The doctor had already made up his mind to tell his father nothing that they spoke of in private. "Don't worry," he said, putting aside his paper, "this is all very personal for you. I understand. But please; go on."

Rufus sighed and for a moment seemed to be at ease. "I've just been noticing guys. It feels really weird to say, but it's the truth." In his voice, he could hear the change of adolescence; raspy and shy. The thought occurred to the doctor that Rufus seemed a little young to be having such feelings, but he didn't stop him to comment. "And… I know that my father will want me to get married sometime down the road and that scares me. It's not because I even feel pressured. I've tried looking at girls like that but everything just falls short. I want to look at them like that, but I can't."

"What about women?" he asked. "Maybe you just aren't interested in girls your age."

The young vice flushed a little and looked down to hide his face. "No, it's not that. I've thought about that too. And I know it's not because of pressure because… I've looked at guys and thought that it wouldn't be so bad if he told me to marry a man." He laughed. "That's so odd, isn't it?"

It wasn't odd for the common person, but once again, it was Rufus Shinra. "How do you feel about this?" he asked, sitting down in his rolling chair. He didn't want to appear intimidating.

"I feel embarrassed… I know that some people just are and they can't help it, but why me?" He stared at his hands and rubbed his thumbs together as a minor distraction for himself. "But then I think about what my father wants me to do… and then I'm just…"

The typical Shinra, he thought. "Scared?" he asked.

"Yes. That." He said it like it was a foreign emotion; something he was denied. For a second, the doctor allowed himself to feel pity for the boy. Everyone should be allowed to fear.

"Now tell me," he said, crossing his legs at the ankles, "who's got you feeling like this? You don't have to mention any names, but tell me how you've felt exactly when you've looked around. What kinds of things do you notice about the same sex that interests you?"

Rufus smiled a little secretively. "Oh, I've noticed certain people… Promise you won't say anything? Even to that person?"

His doctor agreed with a silent but curt nod of his head.

"Reno," he said simply.

That male prostitute that Veld picked up for the Turks? He wondered. Wasn't he involved in illegal weapon sales? "Are you talking about the Reno I think you are?" he asked.

He lay back down on the small sterile bed and stared up at the white ceiling tiles. He had a small waist and very fragile looking shoulders. On a first glace, the doctor thought, it would be hard to imagine him as the future Shinra president. The smile he wore though gave it away. "Yes," he said. "I don't know any other Renos, I mean. Do you?"

"But you," he sputtered, looking him over again. "You don't strike me as the kind of person who would be interested in… him."

"What's that supposed to mean?" he inquired, eyebrows furrowing ever so slightly.

His doctor cleared his throat, worried that he may have offended him. "Do you know what kind of person he is?" he replied. He once again gave himself an inward slap on the wrist. He shouldn't have been so forward. He had no place to steer him to or away from any decision. His only purpose was counsel; to listen.

Rufus's eyebrows were still closely knit, but now in a slight show of confusion. He sat up again and dangled his feet over the side of the bed. "No, actually," he said softly, "I don't. I don't know anything about him, but I wish I did." He gently pushed the golden hair from his eyes with a flick of his wrist. "And don't tell me anything about him."

"Why not?"

"I want to find out all about him from him. I've heard my father whining about his insubordination, but I can't rely on my father for an unbiased opinion." The insecurity was gone from his voice. Perhaps all he feared was for his father's acceptance. Either that or his sudden comfort with the matter could only mean one thing… He kept his mouth shut though.

"Just keep in mind what I said…"

"How about you just hand me my shirt?" he said crossly.

Smiling, he picked it up off his desk and handed it to him. "You know I'm serious, Rufus." Rufus stared at him impartially. "You don't want him to go saying things to your father either. Be careful with what you say."

"I have no intention of speaking one word to him." The doctor implored him to continue. "I mean, not for now at least. Just one kiss for now should tell me all I need to know. I'm sure of that."

Author's Notes: It was short and to the point, I guess. This story was written for "#4 our distance and that person" on 30kisses held on Livejournal. I actually like writing these kinds of touchy sensitive stories… dunno about you guys; so tell me what you think!