It doesn't matter anyway. Why am I here? What did I want to do so badly here…? They were all right, I'm not worth it, I can't, I can't…
…Don't move, just don't answer him, just lay here…
"Hey--" A hand griped Cloud's shoulder, jostling him a bit. "Spike, you okay?"
Finally, the blonde lifted his head and looked back. Staring back at him were brilliant, sky blue eyes, full of worry. He had—more or less—befriended the concerned man on their way to Modeoheim. Having both been—as Zack had put it—"country boys", they easily talked. Well, more like Zack talked and Cloud would contribute a thing here or there.
"Spike, you okay?" Zack asked again and Cloud just groaned, putting his face into his pillow. No, he thought bitterly, I'm not okay but what does it matter anyway? It doesn't. The sergeant's right, I can't make SOLDIER. I can't be like you, Zack and I sure as hell can never be like him.
"Hey, c'mon, I know something's bothering you," the dark-haired man reasoned, sitting on Cloud's bed. His hand had long since left the other's shoulder, now on the bed before him as he leaned forward to Cloud.
Cloud felt the other there, staring at him, and he could just picture the look on Zack's face. Eyes wide, eyebrows drawn together and up and a frown tugging at his lips—the perfect, sad, begging puppy dog look. Which was part of the reason nearly everyone in ShinRa knew Zack as "Zack the Puppy". The other reason behind his nickname was Angeal. The man had been Zack's mentor until Modeoheim, where he died and Zack inherited the Buster Sword. Angeal had always said that Zack was "restless as a puppy" and it went around fast. But, then again, so did every rumor whispered within ShinRa's walls. Once it's whispered, it spreads like wild fire on the plains. There's no way to stop it unless a better rumor comes around, Cloud thought.
The blonde was so deep in his thoughts that he had barely flinched when Zack's hands moved to his back and started to massage his shoulders and back in a comforting manner. The chocobo-haired blonde relaxed gradually, loosening his grip on his pillow. He could feel the dark haired man grinning at the blonde's reaction.
"I heard you gave the other cadets a run for their Gil today."
"Mm," Cloud responded, not really listening.
"They said you really let loose. Were you upset about something?"
"Mm." Came the monotone response once more. Zack just grinned, shaking his head. He wasn't getting anywhere with Cloud. He pulled his hands back and waited. Cloud turned on his side, looking at Zack.
"I asked you if you were upset."
"Oh… I'm not."
"You're lying," Zack said, raising his eyebrows and pulling on his best I-am-not-amused expression. "C'mon, Spike, tell me the truth."
"I really wish you'd stop calling me that," Cloud muttered grudgingly. Zack just watched the blonde, waiting for an answer. Cloud turned away, burying his face in his pillow once more. However, he abruptly jerked away from the other as Zack poked his sides. "Don't do that!" His voice came out louder than he'd intended. Zack grinned broadly and proceeded to poke and prod the boy's sides, watching at the blonde squirmed and writhed and cursed. The joking was done with a loud thud, the blonde having fallen off his own bed and—quite painfully—crashed to the floor. Zack crawled over the bed and leaned over, peering down at the fallen one.
"Having fun?" Zack teased. Cloud almost pouted—almost. He crossed his arms and huffed. Zack just grinned and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He stood over the blonde. "Wanna tell me yet?"
Cloud just continued to half-pout. "No. Bite me," Cloud huffed. Zack frowned for a brief moment, faltering at the boy's last two words. Man, he must really be pissed off. Zack bent down, putting his knees on Cloud's chest.
"I can hold you here until you tell me, Spike," Zack pointed out, being stronger and bigger than the sixteen year old beneath him. Cloud's eyes widened and he struggled. Zack waited.
"Look, it's nothing, really!" The blonde insisted, exasperated. Zack still didn't move. "One of the other guys said something I didn't like, that's all…"
"… It just…" Cloud looked away, no longer struggling. Depression hid behind his cerulean eyes. Zack frowned and got off Cloud's chest, pulling the blonde up and hugging him.
"Don't worry about it, Spike. Anyway… Perk up, today is Friday! Let's go out to Midgar and have some fun." Zack let go of him and stood up. Cloud watched the other before standing as well.
"Well, go on!" Zack urged. "Go get ready!" He himself turned to the full length mirror by the door and fixed his hair a bit. Cloud smiled, watching the other primp. He went into the bathroom and changed his clothes, then came out.
"Okay, ready," the cadet said. Zack looked over and grinned.
"Let's go!" He grabbed the blonde's wrist and pulled him along. Cloud blinked as he was pulled along, watching Zack's back before glancing around. Other cadets wandering the halls looked to the two, a few whispering here and there. Cloud lowered his eyes. Zack… didn't seem to notice. He wore his carefree, trademark grin as he pulled the other along down the hall. Cloud bit his lower lip, losing himself in thought
The next thing he realized, they were out of the ShinRa building and walking past the fountain to the train station.
"I came here to make you dance tonight
I don't care if I'm a guilty pleasure for you
We're getting down till the sun's coming up!"
-"Guilty Pleasure" Cobra Starship