All right, so this was once a co-write that had three chapters and was last updated in 2008. Since then, I've lost touch with my co-writer. No idea where she went. She kinda literally disappeared from the internet.
Anyway, so the other day I was reading over the original, and I loved it. But… I wanted to update it, you know, make it better. I'm a different person and writer than I was ten years ago. I'm really hoping you guys like the new version!
Claudia Strauss was the name on Tetsuya Nomura's concept art for Cloud's mother. Noting this here in advance.
IMPORTANT NOTE OF DOOM:
This story contains incest. If you are not comfortable with this, please read no further. If you are, read away!
A special thanks to rabid behemoth for kindly taking the time to beta this story for me!
Nobody Needs to Know
I Loved And I Loved And I Lost You
January 15, 2017
God, he was tired.
Cloud rubbed at his eyes as he headed back into the chaos of the ER. They were a trauma center, so individual rooms weren't common here. Instead, there were beds set up with curtains, although at the moment it wasn't very busy.
His shift was ending soon, and he couldn't be more grateful. Unlike tonight, the rest of the week had been filled with nonstop patients, which wasn't unusual, just wearying. He had a day off tomorrow, though he didn't know yet what was he going to do with it. Probably sleep. These on-calls were kicking his ass, not to mention the tedious paperwork.
"Take this, take this, take this, take this, third bed on the right!"
A clipboard was pressed into his hands as a fellow resident, Yuffie, ran past, way too energetic. She always was. It was obnoxious. Still, he took the clipboard as he looked after her. She was being paged, probably. That was fine. He'd leave her with the paperwork.
"All right," he said as he came close to the curtain and opened it, his gaze on the patient's chart. He'd had to learn to project his voice early on. He was too quiet to be heard over the general noise. "Mr…."
His heart stopped.
"CLOUD!" a very happily surprised voice called.
It was his brother.
Cloud lowered the chart and came face to face with Sora Strife. The younger man was grinning. He'd filled out a lot since high school, no longer quite as gangly thanks to what was probably the gym. From what Cloud remembered, Sora was after his master's in creative writing. He'd dropped his interest in sports shortly before college.
Bright blue eyes, ridiculously blue, the blue he saw in his own mirror. Spiky brown hair forced down in places with clips that had black skulls on them. Form fitting, faded skinny jeans with holes at the knees, and a black zipper hoodie pulled over a simple red shirt. God. The boy hadn't changed a single iota in ten years, and it didn't matter, because he pulled it off. Had to be the young skin.
His thighs in those pants, the calves being hugged sinfully by denim…
Sora held up his arm. He had an ugly gash and clearly needed stitches. The nurse practitioner was preparing that right now, sitting beside the brunet as she worked quietly.
Cloud couldn't do this.
He stared into those baby blues for what felt like a small eternity and then closed the curtain quickly.
"Hey!" Sora yelped. "Cloud!"
Cloud opened a door blindly and threw himself inside.
Sora couldn't believe what had just happened. He sat there with his mouth slightly open, his brother's name a half-whisper on his lips.
Why? Why had it been like this? Ever since Sora had graduated high school, he'd rarely seen his brother. It seemed that Cloud was always visiting their parents at times that Sora wasn't. During the holidays, Cloud would beg off, claiming he had work. And he probably did, but it was no less frustrating.
Sora thought in the last year alone he'd seen his brother maybe once…? He'd come to drop off some books for his mother to read, and Cloud had left the second he'd shown up. Sora had stared after him, a little dumbfounded.
"Mom," he remembered saying. "Does Cloud hate me or something…?"
Claudia had smiled, her eyes crinkling at the corners. "Don't be silly. Cloud loves you. He's just busy with work, that's all. Doctors have very little free time."
Sora winced as the nurse practitioner—Wendy, her name tag read—began to sew his wound back together. Talk about painful. She'd sterilized it and numbed the area with lidocaine. It wasn't her fault that he had a naturally low pain tolerance.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" Wendy said worriedly. "Do you feel the needle that much?"
"No, I'm just a big baby," he assured her.
He let his gaze wander so that he didn't have to think about the pain. His eyes landed on what must have been another resident at the nurse's desk. He had chocolate brown hair down to his shoulders, stormy gray eyes, and a scar between them and along his nose. The man was eating an apple, chewing slowly with a raised eyebrow as he looked between Sora and wherever Cloud had disappeared.
Okay, so it's not just me then, he thought. Cloud is acting weird!
"So you said you fell on the ice?" Wendy asked conversationally. She was going to be sitting there for a bit, weaving thread through his skin. Why spend the minutes quietly? A fellow chatterbox himself, Sora understood that.
"Yeah," Sora replied. "I did. I was outside the university, on my way to my car, and I slipped on the steps and into the pothole. My arm hit the edge." He wrinkled his nose.
"You drove all the way here?"
"Yeah… I've got blood all over the inside of my car. It's going to be a real bit—" He stopped and cleared his throat. He tried to show good manners around strangers, and a potty mouth wouldn't do. "It's a real mess."
"I bet," she said distractedly.
Sora had to look away. He was a little squeamish. The sight of the needle going through his skin was downright terrifying and disgusting. How did Cloud work here, with so much blood and gore? Oh, sure, there was the normal stuff, but even then, you had puke, you had… nope, he was done thinking about it.
The brunet at the counter left in the direction Cloud had headed. He came back several minutes later with Sora's chart and started firing off questions in a slow, bored voice. The tag clipped to his scrubs read Squall Lionheart. Sora wondered why his bedside manner was so awful. If he didn't want to be here, why become a doctor?
The second he was done talking, before he could slip away, Sora asked the question that had been hammering at him for a solid fifteen minutes.
"Hey, um… so…" He cleared his throat awkwardly. This guy was… intense. His eyes let you know right off the bat that he wasn't interested in talking past your diagnosis. "Cloud, that's my brother. He left. Is he okay, did something ha—?"
"Dr. Strife got paged." And he closed the curtain all the way around.
"Is he always like that…?" Sora muttered to Wendy.
Yeah, that so wasn't surprising.
January 17, 2017
"So what was with your brother the other day?" Squall asked as he signaled for two more shots of tequila.
Cloud waited until they'd both downed the shots before he answered, his lips stinging. "What do you mean?" He knew exactly what Squall was getting at. That didn't mean he was going to answer.
How did you tell your friend that you were unhealthily fixated on your brother and had been for about a decade?
You didn't, that was how.
Squall gave him a long look.
Cloud slapped some cash on top of the bar. "I've got to get going. I need to be at the hospital in six hours." Paopu Memorial, the grueling residency program that made you rethink doctor-dom.
"Wait." Squall pulled a twenty from his wallet and put it on top of Cloud's contribution to the tab. "I'll walk out with you."
Cloud knew what that was code for.
Two hours later, Squall slid into his jeans and buckled his belt. Cloud fell back onto the mattress, damp with sweat and physically satiated, which he'd long ago accepted would be all he'd ever get. His heart was taken. No attempt at giving it away to someone else had ever worked.
That wasn't so bad, though. This thing with Squall had only ever been about sex and was infrequent. Cloud supposed that sometimes even the most standoffish of men could be driven to loneliness. He knew that feeling well, as he was standoffish himself.
The brunet pulled on his shirt, his muscles rippling with the short movements. He gathered his hair back, grabbed a band from his pocket, and tied his hair off his face. He had a beautiful body. Anybody with two working eyes could see that.
It just wasn't Sora's.
Cloud scrubbed his hands over his face. He had to stop doing this. It was never, ever going to happen. It was fucked up, twisted, perverted, whatever negative connotation you could spin on it. He'd accepted that long ago, had done everything in his power to try to make it go away. It wouldn't. So he soldiered on, the future of loneliness awaiting him sometimes more than he could bear.
"I'll see you." Squall tugged on his buckled boots and shouldered on his bomber jacket. He shoved his bangs off his forehead.
Cloud lifted a hand in farewell.
Snow was gathering on the window. He watched it drift down in the light from the street lamp until he fell asleep.
Across the city, Sora sat on the windowsill in his living room, his eyes fastened on the snow as he took a sip of his hot chocolate.
"Oh, my God, Sora, your obsession with snow has got to stop." Riku shook said snow out of his hair as he came through the front door. They shared a house, and had since Riku had finished with his master's in forensic science. Sora hadn't started college until a few years after Riku had, so his best friend had gotten the head start in the financial department.
Sora loved it. Apartments were stuffy to him, and with the money he got for living from his student loans, he was at least able to pay most of his share.
"Every time it snows, there you are, watching it like you'll never see it again. We live in Radiant Gardens. We've lived here all our lives. When has snow not fallen in January, at the absolute latest?"
Sora frowned at him. "Geeze, you're cranky. Bad day at work?"
Riku specialized in criminal forensics. The classes he'd had to take to get his job made Sora's mind spin just thinking about it. Chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, psychology, anthropology, entomology, medicine and criminal courses… Yeah. That was a lot.
Sora supposed it was worth it for about 100k a year.
"That asshole Ethoran was there. He's creepy as fuck, thinks he knows better than me because he's a withering old man, and tries to recruit me all the God damn time." Riku yanked his jacket off and stomped into the kitchen. Sora could hear him throwing his keys on the table. The fridge door opened.
"I got stitches the other day!" Sora yelled. He hadn't seen Riku that much this week because Riku had been pulling night shifts.
Riku stuck his head out of the kitchen. "What was that?"
Sora raised his arm silently.
"Jesus Christ, Sora!" Riku strode across the living room in his socks with a leftover half a sub in his hand. "What the hell did you do this time?"
"Heeeey…" Sora glared. "What do you mean, this time?"
Riku smirked. "We both know how clumsy you are."
"It was the ice's fault!" Sora huffed. "I slipped on some stairs and landed in a pothole the size of—" He stopped as Riku burst into laughter. Then he narrowed his eyes. "Really? It's that funny?"
"It's fucking hilarious." Riku wiped a tear from his eye, shook his head, and headed back to the kitchen.
"You're a jerk!" Sora retorted. "Oh, and something weird happened with Cloud."
Riku paused. "You saw Cloud? Will wonders never cease?"
"Yeah, I know," Sora muttered into his hot chocolate. He wanted to finish drinking it before it got too cold. "But it was really weird, right? I came in, and I didn't even know he was working." He didn't know diddly squat about his brother's schedule. "And he shows up, and he sees me, and… get this, he doesn't even say a single thing before he just ran away!"
Riku pushed his brows together. "Ran away?"
"Yeah! He opened up my curtain, was like all doctorly for two seconds, saw me, and then…" Sora gestured with a hand to indicate scooting off. "He just closed the curtain and vanished. He looked so panicked."
"What? That's… strange."
"I know," Sora said empathetically. He'd tried to tell his mother and she'd just clucked that Cloud probably had to attend to some patients. "And I asked my new doctor about it, the one who saw the whole thing, and he totally brushed me off. Said Cloud had to go and then left me there. He was really rude."
If Sora hadn't happened to glance up just then, he would have entirely missed the knowing expression on Riku's face.
"What?" he said.
"What?" Riku echoed.
"What was that look?"
"Don't do that, Riku! You know exactly what I'm talking about!"
"It's just that…" Riku searched for words. "He's been acting this way for, like, a super long time. I wouldn't put too much stock into it. He's got issues, I don't know." Riku raised his sandwich. "I'm starving, so if you'll excuse me…"
Sora let him leave and frowned at the snow, as if it could solve all the mysteries about his brother.
"Sora…" Cloud's arms wound around him. Sora was shivering, had just emerged from their family's pool. He was sixteen and still sad that Cloud was often away at college. "I missed you…"
Where had that Cloud gone? The sweet one?
Seriously, what had Sora done to make his brother hate him so much?
January 31, 2017
Sora ran his fingers through his spikes as he stared up at the menu board at Starbucks. Normally he got a frappuccino, but it was too damned cold for that.
"I'll have a caramel macchiato, please. Hot, yeah." He gave the barista his credit card.
He had to be at the university in half an hour, and he was already late, but he needed his coffee. He thrived on caffeine. He was a grad student. He didn't have much of a choice. He was worked to the bone as it were.
Five minutes later, Sora took his macchiato and wound his way through the crowd. He preferred the Starbucks by his house. So close to the university, every place around here was busy, busy, busy. Doctors and students mostly, but the usual businessmen, as well.
The door jingled as it opened, and a familiar blond head full of spikes appeared.
Sora lit up. He couldn't help it. He loved his brother, and he'd been hoping to maybe run into him at this location. "Cloud, hey!" He waved a hand.
The bastard did it again.
Not hindered by a nurse and stitches, Sora tore after him. What the hell?!
"Hey!" Sora grabbed onto his elbow. "Cloud, c'mon, what did I do?!"
"Quit! Let me go! I have to get to the hospital!"
"Oh, that's bullshit, and you know it! You were just walking in to get coffee!" Sora was so angry he couldn't stand it. What could he have possibly done to deserve this treatment? He'd once been his brother's entire world. What had changed?
"Sora, just go. Okay? Go away. Leave me alone." Cloud took to the sidewalk.
Sora stared after him in disbelief and then caught up with him. Well, sort of. Cloud had much longer legs, so Sora was sort of stuck trailing behind him. "No! I won't until you tell me what I did!"
"You didn't do anything!" Cloud yelled over his shoulder.
"Then why are you running away from me?!"
"Sora, quit! Go away!"
"NO!" Tears touched Sora's lashes. He'd never been good at not being a big baby. Maybe it wasn't manly, but to hell with that. He didn't deserve this, he didn't, he didn't, he didn't.
"Sora, I swear to God—"
"TELL ME!" Sora screamed.
Cloud whipped around so fast, Sora was still choking on the last word. He stumbled back despite himself. He'd never seen Cloud look so… so angry.
"I'm in love with you!" Cloud shouted.
What kind of a thing was that to say…?
"Don't joke around!" Sora yelled. "Okay, that isn't funny! It's not—you're not—"
Cloud got directly in his face. "But I am." His words were a hiss, nothing more. "I have been. For years. And I can't stop it. So I stay away from you, to save you. Okay? Okay, Sora? Stay away!"
Sora was left standing there as his brother left, because this time, he couldn't bring himself to follow him.
The macchiato dropped out of his hand and splattered against the icy sidewalk.