(Initially, this was supposed to be a parody of the whole love triangle debate, with Cloud confused more than anyone else. It's become more thoughtful than that, but there's still a touch of humour. Poor Cloud is all depressed and angsty, so he decides he needs some counselling sessions. And who better to give him advice than Squall Leonhart? Please read and review.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Final Fantasy characters. Square-Enix do.)
Squall sat with his arms folded, waiting. He really didn't want to do this, but Rinoa had made him volunteer, and he would do anything for Rinoa. She had him well and truly hen-pecked.
A man with spiky blond hair walked hesitantly through the door.
"Come on then," said Squall in a bored voice. "Sit down and let's get it over with."
The man sat down. An empty desk separated the two of them. "I'm... I'm Cloud," he said quietly. He held out his hand for Squall to shake. Squall ignored it.
"What's the problem?" Squall asked. This was the last time he would ever agree to hold counselling sessions, he thought, as Cloud shifted uncomfortably in front of him. He'd never met so many screwed up people.
"Well, I... see, there's this girl, Aerith, and another girl, Tifa... and I'm sure one of them is supposed to be my one true love, but I don't know which!"
Squall grunted. Girl problems, huh. He could relate to that. "Which one do you care most about?"
Cloud wringed his hands. Pathetic, thought Squall. "I don't know, I care about both of them!"
"Which one do you protect? Which one would you do anything for?"
"I wanted to protect both of them," sighed Cloud. Tears filled his eyes. "But I couldn't. I couldn't protect Aerith. I thought I loved her... well, it was strange, but I only just realised how strongly I felt for her when it happened."
"When what happened?" asked Squall impatiently. "Cut the crap and get to the point."
"When she died."
"She's dead? You let the woman you love die?"
"I know," Cloud whimpered. "It's just... it was hard to tell... my feelings were so strong. Was it love, or grief, or guilt? Or all three?"
God, this man was really messed up, thought Squall. "Don't you even know your own mind?"
"No," said Cloud mournfully. "I had a little identity crisis, you see."
Squall rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Now tell me about this other girl."
Cloud brightened up a little. "Tifa... well, she's alive."
Squall snorted. "That's a start."
"I do really care for her," said Cloud. "But if I can't move on, I don't see how I can start a new life with her."
Squall thought of Rinoa, and how he would react if she died. Would he be able to move on to anyone else? But he regarded the man in front of him with disgust. Cloud was wallowing in self-pity.
"All right," he said, trying to inject a note of sympathy into his voice. "I understand how you feel about Aerith. Someone you love dying... I imagine it would really tear your heart out."
Cloud's head drooped. One of his blond spikes poked Squall in the eye. Squall recoiled. That guy should really get a haircut, he thought. He tried to focus back on the issue at hand. He hated listening to other people's problems. It just made him think of what might happen to him and Rinoa. Squall hardened his heart.
"Well, tough luck," he said. "You failed to protect the girl you love. You'd never make a knight, Cloud. You'll just have to get over it the best way you can. Maybe this Tifa can help you."
Cloud's head drooped even further. "Yeah..." he whispered. "Well, thanks... I guess."
"Get out then," said Squall.
Cloud looked up, surprised at the other man's hostility.
"I haven't got all day," said Squall pointedly.
Cloud nodded. "I'll... I'll try someone else."
"The guy in the next room's free," Squall told him. He was glad to see the blond man leave. Cloud had no right to have more angst than him.
(Yeah, so Squall wasn't that helpful. You didn't really think he would be, did you? Next chapter... Cloud turns to another famous Final Fantasy hero for advice.)