Title: The Matchmaker's Handbook

Author: Slashapalooza

Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts and I'm not making money off of this. If I did, however, there would definitely be a Kingdom Hearts R in which you could go on this whole yaoi adventure, starring as Sora with playable options of doing Riku, Leon, Cloud, etc. You know. Like Sukishio. Well, I think. Because I've only ever seen the anime. I had no idea there was a game until later. What was I talking about again?

Author's Note: Okay, I'm doing really good on the update-all-my-stories thing, I think. I mean, sure, I'm lazy, but the chapters come out eventually! I'm just glad I didn't abandon these stories because I love them very much.

But no sentimental babble from me. Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate the day of the turkey. I, personally, had a sucky holiday, but I hope yours rocked out loud. I'm very hungry. I'd attempt to put a little crying smiley there, but we all know ff-net got rid of those little luxuries.

Anyway, now I'm starting to ramble. Thanks for sticking with me and my inconsistency or whatever. Because guys? 100-plus reviews for one chapter? I don't think I can love you anymore than I do right now.

Addendum: I really have no idea how I keep ending these chapters with Leon and Cloud. I blame them. They always have to have the last word. Them and their late nights. Whatever. Carry on.

Thanks to: Every single person who read the previous chapter and then reviewed it and even to every single person who read the previous chapter and didn't.

Date Begun: August 24, 2006

Date Posted: November 23, 2006

Rule #2 — Sometimes A Little Planning Goes A Long Way

Tap tap tap.

Sora blinked, the pen he'd been sucking on falling out of his mouth as he tried to locate the source of the barely audible noise. He was in Math class which, in his opinion, was hell on earth. While the teacher rambled on about… something, Sora really preferred to daydream.

However, despite that fact, he still managed to maintain a B average in the class, something that had baffled him and his friends for years. It figured that Sora would be a semi-prodigy in a class he couldn't stand.

Tap tap tap.

He blinked again. It sounded as though someone was tapping on glass. There were only two glass surfaces in the room – the windows on the other side of the room and the little window in the door to his right. And since he was sitting by the door, he looked that way.

He was extremely unsurprised to see Riku's face there, gesturing for Sora to come outside. That was another reason his grades were so surprising; Sora spent more class time out in the hallway with Riku than in his seat. Not that he was complaining.

He raised his hand. "Can I go to the bathroom, sir?"

His teacher nodded and Sora immediately got out of his seat, walking outside to meet his friend. As usual, neither boy said a word until they were a good distance away so as not to alert Sora's class to the fact that he used 'the bathroom' and 'Riku' pretty much interchangeably.

"You looked like you were having fun." Riku said in amusement which only grew at the face Sora made. "Want to go do something?"

"Do what?" the brunet asked warily, almost predicting where this was going.

He was not disappointed. The smirk on Riku's face was devilish. "Fool around."

Honestly, Sora really had no idea if Riku went around hitting on everyone or if it was just him, but he was starting to get a bit curious as to what Riku would do if he ever began to reciprocate. He imagined Riku would run screaming in that case, but Sora somewhat enjoyed the attention, so that route was out.

In any case, they were not fooling around and the longer Sora went without telling Riku so, the longer the older boy would entertain thoughts of it. Or something.

"Riku! I did not sneak out of class so you could… could molest me!" Sora whined, stomping his foot. "Why don't you get yourself a girlfriend if you're so sexually charged?"

"No girl could compare to you, Sora." Riku responded smoothly, stepping behind Sora and wrapping his arms around the younger boy's waist.

Sora blinked, then pouted. He knew he'd taken too long with his reaction that time. "Riku… personal space…"

"I don't believe in that myth." Riku whispered into his ear.

Sora's pouted deepened into a full-fledged sulk. It wasn't as though Riku hadn't done worse—Sora distinctly remembered a sleepover and 'cold hands' being 'warmed' beneath his shirt—but people could see them. He already got enough jokes about being Riku's girlfriend. He didn't need more.

"Stop molesting me," he said, tilting his head away from Riku's.

This did nothing to discourage the boy, who simply held him tighter. "Give me one good reason why I should."

"Because someone might see and then they'd assume things about us!"

Riku chuckled, resting his chin on Sora's shoulder. "Oh really? What kinds of things, Sora?"

"That… that…" Sora's cheeks turned red against his will. "That we're… together."

"But we are together. We're together all the time."

"That's not what I meant!"

Riku sighed painstakingly and released him, taking a step back. "As you wish. Personal space is yours."

"Good." Sora said, the sulk disappearing immediately. "What did you really want?"

"Just to hold you in my arms."


Riku laughed. "Okay, okay, I have a free and I'm bored so I came to see you. Do you mind?"

"You know I don't, but… how long does it usually take to go to the bathroom?"

"Not as long as you've been out here already."

"Right. I gotta get back to class." Sora saw the disappointed look in Riku's eyes before the silver-haired boy managed to hide him and sent the boy a small smile. "I'll see you at lunch."

"Yeah, alright." Riku was about to walk away when Sora suddenly surged forward and wrapped his arms around Riku's waist in a tight hug, then pulled away and waved.

"Bye, Riku!" Sora said cheerfully, jogging back to class.

He was feeling warm everywhere that Riku had touched him and at least now he had the viable option of spending class time thinking up possible means of getting hugged by Riku without seeming like he enjoyed it. It wouldn't do to encourage Riku's perverse nature. Should he ever decide to get a girlfriend one day, she might be put off by the closeness of him and Riku's relationship. They already had a hard enough time explaining it to people anyway.

"Mr. Harada," Sora's teacher said as he slipped back into the room, looking mildly amused. "How is Mr. Masaki?"

"Oh, he's fine," Sora replied airily, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. He then blinked and colored. "I mean, um, I have no idea—"

The amusement grew. "Please be sure to inform him that my peripheral vision is just as good as it's ever been, so if he stands in front of the door and waves, I will notice."

"Um," Sora ducked his head in shame. "Okay."

"I still can't believe you lost!" Seifer said, glaring over Cloud's shoulder at Leon. "Look at that guy, acting all high-and-mighty about it."

Leon, who was sitting on the other side of the cafeteria at a table with Yuffie, either didn't notice the dirty looks Seifer was shooting him, or didn't care. Cloud was willing to bet it was the latter as Leon's range of concern was limited to himself and 'those other people who follow me around all day'.

"He's an ass. There's all there is to it," Cloud replied, taking a bite of his sandwich. "I'll beat him next time and rub his face in it."

Aerith, sitting across from them at the table, rolled her eyes. "Could you be any more childish? And, Cloud, you have other things to worry about."


"Like the fact that the Yamatos are hosting a charity event this afternoon and your mother is displeased." Aerith explained patiently, though it was obvious by her tone of voice that she'd told this to him many times before. Cloud just had a tendency to tune people out whenever they mentioned the Yamatos in anything but a negative light. "To seem humble, the Yamatos invited us."

It sunk in what Aerith was saying and Cloud stared at her blankly. "You mean I have to put up with that asshole all night?" His voice turned incredulous. "What is this? Bad karma? Did I piss off The Powers That Be?"

"Probably," Seifer taunted, ruffling Cloud's spiky hair. "You offended them with this gelled mess you call hair."

"It's not gelled," Cloud said defensively. "Shut the fuck up."

Aerith frowned. "Cloud. Language."

"Like my language is supposed to be saintly when I have to spend all night on Yamato territory. I should just blow the whole place up."

"And kill innocent people not to mention your own family?"

"Sounds good, doesn't it?" Cloud smirked, his eyes glazed over in thought. Distantly, he heard Aerith make a disgusted noise and reluctantly dragged his mind out of it's musings of blood, decapitation, and a battlefield rife with lifeless Yamato bodies.

"I'll see you later," she said, grabbing her tray and getting up. "When you're done being unreasonable."

Seifer waited until she was a good distance away before turning to Cloud with a mischievous expression on his face that never spelled anything good for anyone. "So, guess what?"

"Hm?" Cloud asked now disinterested in anything that wasn't his lunch.

"Yamato's running for student body president," Seifer's voice was conspiratorial as if everyone wasn't aware of this by now. And by 'everyone', Cloud meant himself because he didn't think much about the student body. "Dontcha think I should run and knock him down a few pegs?"

He snorted. "I'd vote for Yamato before I voted for you."

"What?" Seifer looked affronted. "Why?"

"Because you're insane," Cloud said sweetly, grabbing his tray and walking away.

"—And then she was all 'you think you can mess with my man and not get your ass kicked? Think again' and I was all 'bring it' and she brought it, but I brought it better and I got detention for kicking her scrawny—Leon, what are you looking at?"

Leon blinked and turned his gaze back to his black-haired companion, taking note of the soon-to-be-pout on her face. As if she really expected Leon to be focusing on a story about Yuffie and her constant fights with the other girls at school. He sighed. "Nothing."

Yuffie glanced in the direction he'd just been staring in, catching sight of Cloud making his way from his lunch table to the garbage bins by the door. "Ah, glaring at Strife again, eh? Sucks that he's coming to the charity event, doesn't it?"

"I'm trying not to think about it." Leon responded with another sigh. "It'll only piss me off."

"Yeah, I know. I'm pretty ticked about it, too," Yuffie said, sounding bummed for all of thirty seconds before her radiant smile was back. "At least Aerith is coming, so I'll have someone to talk to!"

Leon stared at her evenly. "You do realize you're making friends with the enemy, right?"

"She's not the enemy. Her family's not in the election. I don't see why we can't be friends." Yuffie protested, furrowing her brows. "Besides, you're friends with Sephiroth and he knows Cloud."

"Okay, first of all, Sephiroth is not my friend." Leon said heatedly, looking through a nearby window at the elegant boy who was seated under a tree outside, eating his lunch. "Second of all, I think he's an ass."

"I see," Yuffie paused a moment to think, then continued, "Well… what about Zack? I saw you talking to him once and he's friends with Cloud."

Leon raised an eyebrow. "Stalker. And that was only once. I needed homework from him."

"Hmph. I just don't think this election should impede upon your friend-making skills."

"Yuffie, I don't make friends. I hate friends. I hate people in general. Election or no election, I have no friend-making skills."

The black-haired girl sighed again. "See, this is why you're going to lose the student body election and become a source of shame in the eyes of your family."

"Thanks." Leon replied, deciding not to mention that Yuffie was the one who'd forced him to run in the first place. She'd nominated him, bullied a few other kids into seconding the nomination, and Leon hadn't had any say in it other than a sharp kick under the table forcing him to accept.

His eyes slid back to Cloud, who was now standing by the doors and smirking at something that Seifer Almasy was saying.

His eyes narrowed. At least Seifer wasn't coming. It would kill him to have both Cloud and Seifer in his house, especially at the same time.

"Leon!" Yuffie said, sounding exasperated. "You'll have plenty of time to glare at Cloud later, okay? I'm trying to talk."

As if hearing his name, even from the other side of the cafeteria, Cloud looked up, meeting Leon's glare with one of his own. He snorted and looked back at Yuffie. Tonight was going to be fun.

"See you all tomorrow." Kairi said, concluding the newspaper meeting for the day. "And Naminé, I need your article and soon, okay?"

The blond girl nodded and followed the other staff members out of the room. Kairi shut down her computer and waited until everyone was gone – everyone, that is, except for her and Sora, who hadn't moved from his desk.

She closed the door, then turned around to look at him. "They're over there. You got quite a few this time."

"That's because everybody at this school has love problems. Or like to think they do, anyway," Sora quipped as he took out the stack of letters in Kairi's bag. He flipped through them, his eyes just skimming a few lines of each.

don't know why he won't talk to me…

huge fight and now he's flirting with…

parents scared him off…

and then he just comes out and says he's gay…

needed a date so I begged him but now…

totally in love with him, but he doesn't notice a thing…

hit him in the face with my hockey stick and he dumped me…

hook up with Leon Yamato, but he doesn't seem interested…

calls me 'dunce' all the time, like it's supposed to be an affectionate nickname…

Sora pushed the letters into his backpack and slid the bag onto his back.

"Where are you headed now? Want to come with me to the café and get some coffee?" Kairi asked, grabbing her own bag.

"Sure, why not? It's not like I have anything else I could be—" the door opened and Riku stared at Kairi and Sora standing alone in the office, eyes narrowed slightly.

"What were you two doing?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Making plans to get coffee. Want to come?" Kairi asked, an amused look on her face. "Afraid to leave me alone with Sora?"

"Why would he be—" Sora's eyes widened and he turned to look at Riku, blinking. "Is it Kairi you like?"

"God, no!" Kairi and Riku said simultaneously, looking absolutely disgusted at the very idea.

Sora laughed sheepishly. "It was just a question… anyway, do you want to come with us, Riku? And maybe drive since we're too lazy to walk?"

"Yeah, okay." Riku agreed, shuddering once more before putting the disturbing thought behind him. He jabbed a finger in Kairi's direction. "As long as the redhead doesn't sit anywhere near me. I don't want her getting any naughty thoughts about my sexy body."

"Trust me, old man, I don't want to lose my lunch." Kairi replied, wrinkling her nose teasingly.

"Are you implying that I'm old?"

"I don't need to. Your hair implies it already. Not to mention you're a year above us."

"I don't see your point."

"Then hush and accept the facts, old man."

Riku cracked his knuckles and gave Kairi a menacing look, which she returned with her own angelic one. Before Sora could even blink, Kairi had squealed and ran to the other side of the office with Riku growling and following in close pursuit. He felt something stir deep within him – something that made him narrow his eyes and scowl at the two of them – but he couldn't quite identify the feeling.

He turned around and began heading out of the office.

"Hey, Sora, wait up!" Riku called. Sora turned again, noticing that Riku now had a struggling Kairi slung over his shoulder. "We're coming."

"Yeah, yeah…" Sora murmured, ignoring the inquisitive look on Riku's face and instead taking a deep breath and forcing one of his trademark smiles. "Well, hurry up. Coffee waits for no one!"

"He's right. Put me down!" Kairi screamed as she was suddenly dropped flat on her butt, whimpering. "Ow! Riku!"

Riku smirked, walking over to Sora and looking at Kairi over his shoulder. "You said to put you down."



"COFFEE!" Sora butted in before they could start another room-wide fight which was really just a cover for the obvious flirting that was going on right in front of him. "NOW!" He whirled around and stomped out of the room, his entire posture daring them not to follow.

"Sheesh," he heard Kairi say, drawing out the word into two syllables. "What crawled up his butt?"

"Erlack! Parting is such sweet sorrow! Peace on earth and goodwill to beds!" Selphie chanted enthusiastically and she milled about with the other girls trying out for the part of Sleeping Beauty in the school play. Standing next to her, and looking quite embarrassed to be seen with this obviously insane brunette, was Tidus.

The boys' tryouts were after the girls and, besides, he wanted to see Selphie's tryouts for himself and find out if she had any talent for this whatsoever or if he had to bribe the director to get her into the show.

"Goodwill to men," Tidus corrected, running a hand over his face. "And, anyway, none of those lines have anything to do with Sleeping Beauty. Did you even go over what you were reading for tryouts?"

"It's right here," Selphie said carelessly, waving a few sheets of paper in front of Tidus' face. "I'm doing the dance-in-the-forest-with-the-birds scene. I love the Disney version. Don't you? When I was younger, I totally wanted my own singing animals."

Tidus tried not to laugh. "Really?"

"Yes, really! But, apparently, mice can't sing. Cinderella is such a lie." Selphie shook her head as though she'd just announced that someone had a lethal disease. "My entire childhood was a lie."

"Excuse me," a quiet voice spoke up. "But I'm trying to concentrate on my lines and you're speaking a bit loudly. Could you whisper?"

Selphie tensed, turning and narrowing her eyes as none other than Yuna Nandaba got up from her place on the floor and looked at her imploringly. As if she was so nice and mature and sane and not a bitch at all.

Tidus smiled. "Oh, hey, Yuna. I should have known you'd be trying out for this, too. Aurora, right?"

"Well, you know me," Yuna blushed. "Always the overachiever."

"What's cool is you're not stuck up about it. Most girls would have let getting the lead in practically every show go to their heads by now, but not you."

The two dissolved into an entire conversation about cast parties and stage left and long hours and script memorization and other miscellaneous topics that Selphie knew little or nothing about, all of which served to make her feel very, very ignored. Tidus had come here with her to watch her try out, not to talk to Yuna about things he was supposed to be helping Selphie learn about if—that is to say, when—she got the lead role in the play.

If Yuna got chosen for Aurora, Selphie may just have to kill somebody. Starting with Yuna.

"I really do need to concentrate now," Yuna said in that annoying, I'm-so-sweet-and-angelic voice that she used all the freaking time. "But it was nice talking to you, Tidus. Good luck on getting Prince Philip. I'd love to work with you again."

"Good luck to you, too," Tidus replied in that annoying… annoying… whatever that tone was in his voice that would making Selphie think of hot chocolate and baking oatmeal cookies and other comfortable things if he hadn't been directing it towards Yuna. When he turned back to look at her, she imagined her eyes were scorching. He blinked. "What?"

"Nothing," Selphie said through gritted teeth. "Absolutely nothing. I'm going to the bathroom since obviously MY VOICE IS TOO LOUD FOR POOR LITTLE YUNA."

"Um," Tidus managed before Selphie threw her script at him and practically ran for the girls' bathroom. He scratched his head in confusion. "What did I do?"

Sora flopped down on his bed, exhausted. Riku had dropped him off mere minutes ago and both he and Kairi had spent the entire afternoon treating him like he was a time bomb about to go off. Just because he'd snapped at them once. Once. What, he had to be Mr. Fun Happy Sunshine Love all the time? He couldn't have an off day?

Groaning, he rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling, considering the possibilities. Riku and Kairi. Going out. On dates. Together. With each other. Holding hands in the hallway and kissing and—

Sora was going to be sick if he didn't stop thinking about that.

Riku and Kairi deserved to be happy, he supposed, but happy with each other? It just seemed so unfair. Sora had never had a girlfriend before and, while he had absolutely no romantic feelings for Kairi whatsoever, it wasn't fair that Riku always got all the girls.

And he never even noticed! Sora remembered very well how they would walk down the hallways together and a dozen girls would scream Riku's name just to get him to turn and look at them, but Riku never would.

Granted, he was busy talking to Sora at the time. But still. What about Sora?

He sighed, throwing one arm off the bed and rummaging through his backpack for the letters. At least as The Matchmaker he could pretend he'd had enough experience with love to properly advise others.

The first letter was simple.

How do I get Cloud Strife to notice me? Is he even into girls?

Signed, Cloud's Number One Fan.

Hell if Sora knew what Cloud was into. He pretty much assumed the blond was asexual. He and Leon were always so apathetic to the world at large, the many letters he got begging for advice on how to ask one of them out were responded with, 'Don't.'

Placing that one back in its envelope for later, he read the next one.

So, there was this guy I was going out with. It was one of those on-off relationships, you know? Well, last time we were 'off', we were really off. I hit him in the face with my hockey stick and he dumped me. Now I want him back. What should I do?

Signed, I Do Not Have Violent Tendencies.

Sora made a mental note not to say, 'Stop hitting him in the face with your hockey stick, psycho' and set the letter aside in favor of the next one. His eyes widened. It took up the entire page and the person wrote small. Bracing himself, Sora started to read.

Okay, I don't usually do this kind of thing. The pouring-my-problems-out-to-anonymous-people thing, I mean. I'm just getting kind of… desperate. No offense. I'm not going to read this letter over before I put it in the box because then I know I'll just end up ripping it up. Alright. Here goes.

There's this guy I like. I have for awhile, actually. It's impossible not to like him. He's so open and friendly. The kind of guy who makes new friends all the time because he accosts random people in the supermarket to say, "Hey, I have those shoes at home! Aren't they awesome?!" or something like that. He's dependable and funny and endearingly oblivious to how I feel. And that's just his personality. He's got the most amazing eyes, as blue as the sky. I can see where his parents got his name from. And his hair… well, I'm sure we're all waiting for gravity to catch up with it.

Every day I want to tell him how beautiful he is, but I just can't. First of all, I'm pretty sure he's straight and, second of all, if he hasn't noticed by now then I'm afraid pointing it out will make things weird. Help me?

Signed, Desperate and Original

Sora read the letter over three times to make sure he wasn't hallucinating. Gravity-defying hair? Probably named for the sky-like color of his eyes? Well, okay, Sora was pretty sure he was named Sora because his mother had been so doped up on drugs at the time of his birth that she'd been having some pretty loopy daydreams concerning the view of the sky from her window, but he hadn't shared that with anyone.

But what were the odds that someone had a crush on him? Girls didn't get crushes on him.

Oh, wait, it was a guy writing the letter. Well, that figures, Sora thought dryly. He wasn't the slightest bit put out by this, but that only reinforced his belief that he was just not attractive to girls. Maybe he would end up having to settle with a guy.

He really shouldn't get his hopes up. Sora tucked the letter back into its envelope and placed it carefully in his bag. Tomorrow, he'd ask Kairi to make sure he wasn't going crazy.

However, despite the fact that he was trying to maintain a healthy level of skepticism and it was a guy… he couldn't stop a warm feeling from rising in his chest.

Tidus loved the theater. It was, in his opinion, the best part of the school and, if he could, all his classes would take place in it. Of course, that was due largely in part to the fact that he was a self-professed drama geek and loved to tell people that he only went to school to be in the plays.

His grades were proof enough of that. Honestly, if he had only been able to afford going to an actual art school, he could be spending a large amount of time in his major (drama, as if there was any other option) and a small amount of time in everything else. Now he'd have to hold out for college.

He looked at the stage, surprised to see that Selphie was already on it. She'd still been in the bathroom when they'd all been let into the theater and five girls, including Yuna, had already gone without her making an appearance.

Tidus had been beginning to think she was quitting the bet entirely, so it was certainly a surprise to see her standing on the stage as though she'd been in the theater the entire time.

He blinked slowly.

"Hiya!" She said for the benefit of the camera. The director, Mrs. Kuroni, insisted upon filming tryouts so that she could review the prospective actors and actresses for a few days before making her choice. "I'm Selphie Tillmet, I'm sixteen years old, and I'm cooler than Yuna!"

Tidus resisted the urge to bang his head against the seat in front of him. He heard Yuna gasp in embarrassment and empathized.

"That being said," Selphie continued, not at all bothered by Yuna's reaction. She closed her eyes briefly, then reopened them and began to sing in a strong, clear, and surprisingly good, voice.

"I know you. I walked with you once upon a dream… I know you. The gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam… and I know it's true that visions are seldom what they seem. But if I know you… I know what you'd do… you'd love me at once… the way you did once upon a dream."

She began to dance around the stage, doing an almost perfect imitation of the dance Aurora had done in the Disney movie. The only difference was that she had no singing animals to accompany her. To say Tidus was shocked was a severe understatement.

"But if I know you, I know what you'd do… you'd love me at once… the way you did once upon a dream."

She whirled once, then stopped and bowed. There was a sheepish smile on her face as she finished. "Um. Thank you very much."

Tidus couldn't help it. He stood and clapped. Selphie's face turned bright red as she stared at him and he smiled, his smile widening when she hesitantly smiled back.

"So, how was your day?" Leon asked as he and Cloud stood by the fountain outside his house. Far behind them, in the ballroom, the banquet to raise money for some charity Leon didn't know or care about was in full swing.

Leon had hung around long enough to stand in the shadows like he usually did and glare at anyone who came his way before he'd caught sight of Cloud sneaking outside, had waited five minutes, then followed him.

He'd found Cloud deep in the garden, by the fountain, and they'd decided to stay on the far side of the fountain on the off-chance Yuffie came looking for Leon. Then, at least, Cloud would have five seconds to hide.

"Seifer and I cut seventh and talked bad about your mother," Cloud replied, leaning over the fountain to slide his hand through the water. "I think they're announcing how much money was raised."

"That's nice," Leon said to both statements, wrapping his arms securely around Cloud's waist. He didn't want the blond to go tumbling into the fountain unless pushed, after all.

Cloud smirked and straightened, not missing the chance to rub his ass against Leon's crotch. "Missed me, did you?"

"I miss you more when you do that," Leon tucked his head against the crook of Cloud's neck and pressed a kiss there, smiling when a shiver ran down Cloud's spine. "And vice versa."

"Mhmm," Cloud murmured, tilting his head back to rest against Leon's shoulders. "The good thing about you having this obnoxiously huge yard is that people will think I got lost trying to find my way back."

"Screw people," Leon said as he turned Cloud around in his arms and kissed him. Cloud made a small noise and wrapped his arms around Leon's shoulders, returning the kiss wholeheartedly.

There was always something about kissing Cloud that made Leon want to momentarily relinquish the tight control he kept over himself. He didn't know what it was.

Altogether, Cloud wasn't really that special. There were a million blond-haired, blue-eyed boys all over the world, and there were probably at least a quarter of them who had the same silent attitude.

But Cloud.

Leon pulled back a moment to breathe, resting his forehead against Cloud and taking note of the smirk on Cloud's face. He returned the smirk with a rarely seen smile before a flash lit up in the corner of his eye and he shoved Cloud roughly away from him, whirling around to see where it had come from.

A reporter had just taken a picture of them, thankfully from the other side of the fountain, and was now hissing, "Hurry up. I think they're having a fight," to someone in the shadows of the garden.

Leon had about five seconds to think about this before he was nearly toppled into the fountain by Cloud leaping on his back. The added weight made him fall over, missing the fountain by inches, and onto the concrete.

"Get the fuck off me, Strife," Leon grounded out, trying to throw the blond off him.

Cloud grabbed his wrist, pinning it to the ground hard enough to bruise. "Yeah, fuck you, too, Yamato."

He finally managed to flip them over, barely aware of the flashes of light going on all around them now, as he punched Cloud to get him back for the bruise that had to be forming on his chin right now from the fall.

"Asshole!" Cloud coughed, giving back as good as he got.

"Bitch," Leon taunted, dodging the second strike and bending Cloud's hand back. He was about to break Cloud's jaw when he felt himself being hoisted off the blond and dragged backwards.

"You are so dead," Yuffie's voice hissed from beside him and Leon looked upwards to see his father's red face glaring down at him. His gaze flew to Cloud, expecting an attack, only to find that the blond was being restrained by his father as well. Their eyes narrowed at the same time.

"Great job, Strife," Leon's father said dryly. "You couldn't keep that animal you call a son under control long enough for us to hand over the check?"

"My son's the animal? Yours was on top last time I checked," Cloud's father sneered. Leon was never more thankful for his extreme self-control than at that moment.

Cloud, who had no such luck, burst out laughing.

"This is not funny," Mr. Strife hissed, hoisting Cloud to his feet. "Go wait in the car. Aerith, go with him."

"Yes, Mr. Strife," the brunette said politely, grabbing Cloud's arm and leading him away. Her entire stance was disapproving.

Leon was hoisted to his feet in a similar manner and shoved in Yuffie's direction. "Take him upstairs," his father said in exhaustion. "Make sure he doesn't cause any more trouble, would you?"

"You got it!" Yuffie chirped, dragging Leon past the reporters and into the garden. Leon reached his free hand up to touch his jaw and winced. That was definitely going to bruise. And Cloud was probably going to have a black eye by morning.

He sighed. "Sorry," Leon murmured, though he knew there was no way that Cloud could hear it.

"Oh, don't worry about it!" Yuffie said reassuringly, reminding Leon of her presence. "Your Dad's great at damage control. I'd be more concerned about what he's going to do to you once the reporters are gone. Good job putting the fight by the fountain, though. Better than at the banquet. I have no idea when those reporters sneaked out there."

Leon tuned her out again, wondering if the Strifes kept ice packs in their cars and if Cloud was going to be okay once his Dad got a hold of him. He sighed again. He'd just have to find out tomorrow.