Authors Notes: Set after the game. According to this story, Irvine acts and dresses like a cowboy because he was adopted by a ranch owner. I can't remember whether he said he was adopted or not, so this might be AU. Squall is a poor widdle depwessed boy, don't you just want to huggle him and make it better?

Pleasantly Depressed

Chapter 3 - Of Goddesses and Chocolate

By Skandranon

Squall popped the last of the pills into his mouth and swallowed as doors to the elevator opened with a ping. Stepping into the large office, he marched briskly to the desk and saluted, his blank face showing nothing of the ache underneath. "You asked me to come, sir?" I wonder what's up now. Cid almost never calls anyone up except Xu.

He had better be giving you a mission or vacation. It's about time you got one of those.

The graying man swiveled in his chair, his gaze grazing over the SeeD in front of him absently. "Ah, yes, Squall. Good of you to come. I need to talk about a new mandate that was put into effect yesterday."

Mandate? "Sir, what's this about?"

Cid set down the folder in his hand and looked at Squall with a serious severity. "It's about the GFs, Squall. The Guardian Forces. The Garden Council put through a mandate that all GFs be kept in control spheres when not in use. Basically, you're going to have to forfeit your GFs to the Garden's custody.

Give up Bahamut and Cerberus? Even at that moment they were stirring as they heard the words, reluctant to leave the mind of a man who was so respectful to them. But Garden law was final, and he would have to do as told. Taking a breath to steady himself, he nodded in acceptance.

"All of them, Squall."

Squall just stared at Cid, waiting for those words to make some sense. All of them? I heard him the first time. I'll give up Bahamut and Cerberus; I'm not making a fuss.

He means me, whispered the ice.

Several seconds later, he was still trying to digest that. No. No, Cid couldn't do that. No. Shiva was his. Right?

Cid sighed, which was a loud business for the old man. "The mandate was meant to protect the SeeDs junctioned to GFs. Shiva is just like the rest of them. She destroys your memories, memories that you might need. Now if you just "

"She is NOT like the rest of them!"

A deathly silence followed, as Cid tried to adjust to the fact that Squall had just talked back to him. Squall never talked back. Ever. He barely even talked. And right now Squall was looking rather livid, his face three shades redder than ever seen on him before and his eyes with an expression that might be found on an enraged chimera. "Now Squall, I know you must be upset about this..."

Slamming his leathered hand on the desk, Squall was somewhat pleased with the way Cid jumped back, but he didn't show it. "Upset! Shiva is mine. MINE! I found her. I brought her here. She doesn't belong to the Garden, or you, and you can not and WILL NOT tell me what to do with her!"

That's my boy! He wants me, he can come in here and drag me out.

Cid held up his hands in defense, sweat beading down his chin. "Now Squall, don't be that way. I'm just filling out the orders of the mandate. Frankly, I voted against it, but the majority wasn't for me. You know the rules about dealing with those who don't obey their superiors."

Yeah, I know. They get kicked out of the Garden. Is that what you're threatening, to kick me out? You know I have nowhere to go. The Garden is my home.

He better not be implying that, or I'll show him why I'm considered a goddess.

Now Shiva, I work for a mercenary corporation, remember? If you damage any property or persons, they'll shoot me, and then they'll arrest me. And then they'll find my body guilty of treason and hang it.

Still, a GF can dream, can't she?

Cid watched anxiously as Squall paused, his eyes flickering back and forth as if following something invisible. "She's... she's talking to you, isn't she? Surely she understands what she's doing to you, how much she's damaging you. You'll never be able to live a normal life this way, Squall, you must reconsider. Shiva, tell him to reconsider."

Shiva, he's wrong. You're not hurting me. We can stay together, and there's nothing he can do about it, right?

Shiva hesitated.

Right?

Well, Squall, he is right about me hurting you. I'm basically a parasite, and you're my host.

No.

Yes, Squall, much as we hate to admit it, I am living off your memories. And as I get stronger, I'll take up more space in here. I'd hate too see what would happen if I got too big...

It's not going to happen. "What if I don't give her up? Are you saying you'll kick me out? Then kick me out. She'll be going with me." This is my home, but... you're my family.

Cid sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Squall, it's for your own good. You'll still get to see her, and you'll junction her for training or battle. Why can't you just accept this?"

Accept it. Right. Like I accepted him making me Commander. Never asked if I wanted that, did he? Just more responsibility and guilt, having to make decisions that kill people. Just like he sent me to Garden when I was ten, because no one would adopt me. Just like-

Honey, Cid's trying to say something to you.

Huh? Looking up, Squall found Cid gazing expectantly at him. Squall stared back blankly, waiting for the man to repeat himself, and he would.

Cid wrinkled his nose in irritation, though he still was on edge from Squall's previous outburst. "As I said before, I hate to say it but it comes down to this, Squall. Let us store Shiva in a GF sphere when you're not in battle, or resign your commission. Please understand I'm only doing this for your own health."

Like hell he is, he's doing this to keep his own job. But... where am I going to go? Maybe to Esthar, Laguna'd take me in. He's still on that guilt trip for 'Not Being There For Me'...but I wouldn't want him to feel obligated. We barely even know each other. And if I leave... I might never see the other orphans again. What would the world be like without Zell, or Selphie? Well, a lot quieter, for one, but still...

"...and you'd lose Shiva anyway."

Wait, what? "What?"

Cid rolled his eyes. "Honestly, Squall, sometimes I don't know where your mind goes. As I said, the new Garden mandate requires me to enforce this upon you whether or not it's voluntary. We can't have people running around with that much power, especially if we've just... er, kicked them out. If you resign, I'll have to take Shiva from you anyway."

Squall snorted. "You and how many behemoths?"

Cid sighed. "Me and every single SeeD available, I'm afraid. Please, don't make me order Quistis and the others to hold you down."

Shit. They'd hate to do it to me, but they would. Shiva, what am I going to do? I don't want to hurt them, but... I don't want to lose you.

Shiva was silent for a time, but it was a restless silence that told Squall she was thinking. Finally, she gave the GF equivalent of a sigh, which for her was a shiver of ice down his spine. I think we should do as he says.

But Shiva-

No, Squall. If you refuse, they'll still take me from you, and then make you leave. At least if we cooperate, we'll still get to see each other sometimes.

This was too much. But Shiva, I... but you... but we... ow. The headache had returned, and had brought reinforcements. Where the hell did I put those pills... He patted himself down absently, searching for his missing fix. Pants pockets...jacket pockets... belt pockets... boot pockets... crotch pocket... glove pockets... inside jacket pockets...

You just finished off the bottle, remember? Five minutes ago. Wait for them to kick in, please?

Cid watched all this with a pleasant smile of panic, wondering whether Squall was on something, or just off the deep end. Why was it that he always ended up promoting the "troubled" ones? "Yes or no, Squall. Make a decision."

Say yes, love. I don't want to see you hurt.

Yes, he definitely needed some whiskey to get through this. A bottle at least. The problem was, his whiskey stash had been missing for about three days now. It was there, and then it was simply gone. Since he couldn't think of anyone who could and would steal his booze (Zell and Seifer didn't have access to his room, and Quistis had her own stash), he decided that the liquor must have somehow fallen through a rip in the space-time continuum and was now making someone happy in another dimension. His loss, their gain.

Scratching his head, Irvine wondered if the cafeteria would serve him alcohol if he begged really, really hard. There was no way he would attempt to soothe a pissed Selphie sober.

Unfortunately, that was what it looked like he was going to be doing. Turning around, he surveyed his expensive top-secret technical equipment 'borrowed' for this mission. Roses, check. Key to the Observation Deck, check. Chocolates... check and double check, and I hope she doesn't get sick from this many. CD player with battery pack, check. Romantic CD, check. That's everything. Now all I have to do is coax her into meeting me up at the Deck, and pray it doesn't rain.

It hadn't been his fault in the first place. He had no interest in Claudine Bishop whatsoever, despite her lovely blond hair and... other attributes. She really had tripped and gone falling into his arms, just as he turned the corner. Honest.

Of course, fate had decided to mock him, and Selphie had seen them like that, Claudine laughing and blushing as she twisted in his arms in what was not an innocent manner. He still had a bruise from where his petite fiancée had chucked her shoe at him. Sighing, he picked up the room phone, crossed his fingers, and dialed.

"Hello?" chirped a sweet voice on the other end, the type of voice that told you that the owner might have had too much sugar.

Gathering up his courage, Irvine slipped into I'm-reaaaally-sorry mode. "Hey, honey. Look, I-"

And she hung up on him. Okay, trying again.

"I don't want to talk to you." Slam. And again.

"Honey, give me a moment to speak, please baby?" Silence from the other end, but no dial tone, so things were looking up. "I know what it looked like, but it was completely an accident. AND-" he said quickly before she could hang up or scream at him, "I'm sorry. I'm an idiot and fool and you're always right. Right?"

"Don't you try to sweet talk me, Mr. Kinneas. I should've known this would happen. You've always been a loose gun. What, is that... that, Claudine, better than me? Well?"

Sweet talk mode initiated. "Of course not baby, you're my precious little brunette. My soon-to-be-wife, Light Of My Life. You know I love you and only you. Look at that ring on your finger. Doesn't that say, 'I'm in this for the long haul'? I'm not gonna run out on you."

A pause, and then a soft reply. "I... er, I threw it across the room."

He sighed. Throwing things worth that much. "That's okay sweetie, I probably deserved that. No harm done, of course."

Another pause. "Um, I meant, as in, the Cafeteria room."

He rubbed his forehead to quell the oncoming headache. Great, it was probably covered in ketchup by now. "That's no problem baby, I'll find it for you. But... all I'm asking is for a chance to make it up to you. Yes? Please?"

After a long and tense moment, she finally sighed, the sound coming across tinny through the phone. "All right, Irvine. Where do you want me?"

It took physical effort to keep from thinking about the double meaning of her words. "Great. Tonight? The Observation Deck, at ten o'clock. Just knock on the door; I'll already be there."

"I'll be there, stud. You better make this worth my while." A giggle, then a dial tone.

Letting out a huff of air in relief, he slumped back on the bed. Good, she didn't sound as mad as she had been. If things worked out well that night, he would be sleeping of the make-up sex in the morning. And... ah dangit, he was laying on the chocolates. Shifting his weight off of the treats meant for his dearest chibi one, he now found himself lying on the CDs. He gave up, stood up, and paced. Yep, make-up sex tonight. The best kind. Selphie would be all giggly and sugar high, and would latch onto him and cover him in kisses and never let go.

Some small part of his mind, the part that mostly hid from the world behind steel reinforced doors, piped up. You don't really want to have sex with Selphie, do you? He promptly took out a rifle and shot that part of his mind with pulse ammo until it whimpered and quieted. Yes, I do. I think.

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