"You're keeping that."

A nod.

"You're keeping a heartless."

A nod.

" … You're replacing me with a blob."

A no—


Silent obstinance.

"I thought that I was your teddy bear."


Black pants on the floor, leather pants on the floor, long pants on the floor.

Same pants on the floor.

"This one is yours."

Cloud nods.

"This one is also yours."

Cloud nods.

"This one, too."

Cloud nods.


"A pause. "Which pair of pants is mine?"

Black pants on the floor.

Same pants on the floor.




Aerith hands him the platter of steak, and Cloud shakes his head, shutting his eyes closed. "I'm vegetarian."

Cid smirks and makes a snide remark. "Thought he had a taste for lions."


"This is ridiculous."

No comment.

"Seriously, Leon! It'st plain ludicrous! How is he going to defeat Sephiroth?"

A shift.

Tenfold exasperation. "Just look at him! He can't even lift his sword! He has to get around town by rolling!"

And he looks to the window, ignoring the apprehension of Tifa, ignoring a drunk pilot, ignoring a hysterical Merlin as he quietly watches; outside, on the bench, sat a very obese Cloud Strife, who continued to eat Leon's homemade cookies by the dozen, looking a lot like a roosting chocobo. Two, three, four minutes, he watches, staring quietly, before the oven binged and alerted him that another batch of the sweet treats were done.

He walks over, not before smirking in obscurity.

Aerith was right: What a great way to make Cloud stay.


"Wow, Cloud—how'd you lose all that weight?" Yuffie curiously asked, staring down at his midriff. "I mean, it's just gone, like that." She snapped her fingers for emphasis.

Cloud turned his head before speaking."Stamina. Endurance. And swords."

" … what are you—EEEEWWWWWW! I did not need to know that!"


"I don't see what's wrong with liking a pelican."

Cocking of an eyebrow, a quirk of lips. "I never said anything was wrong."

"You're implying it."

Shift here, shift there, a breeze somewhere. "I just said that your choice in animals strange."

"Better than your giant coconut crabs."