Title: Ocean eyes part 2

Author: Sorceress Fantasia

Pairings: LxC, RxS, some other minor ones

Warnings: AU, romance, sap, humour, OOC-ness

Archive: Finally As much as I would love to lay claim to Cloud, I'm kinda scared of Leon's gunblade. So well, I don't own Kingdom Hearts and its character, and neither do I own the various Final Fantasies and their characters. I don't own the movie that this fic is adapted from. Chapter last revised 25 Jun 07.

Summary: After a wayward merboy, Cloud, saves a drowning high school student by the name of Leon, he revives the human at the cost of losing the ability to return to the ocean palace. So, what's a merboy to do? Based on an old HK movie.

A warm breeze whispered across the ocean, but Cloud was feeling anything but warm. In fact, he thought the tip of his tail was so cold it was actually starting to numb.

His pearl was gone. His god damn pearl was gone! And the worst part? He had given it to a human!

Cloud could just see himself skewered on the king's trident, nephew or not. No, it was precisely he was the king's only nephew that he would be skewered; his uncle was always especially harsh on family, whom he believed should set the role model for the citizens to follow. And despite knowing that it was against their laws to break surface /and/ make contact with humans, Cloud had done so. Two more reasons for the skewering that was bound to come now.

As the blond merboy was imagining how it would feel like to die that way, he heard a particularly loud 'squawk!' and he looked up. He broke into a relieved smile when he noticed it was a bunch of seagulls circling lazily above, and Cloud waved excitedly. Perhaps they could help him with his problems, with their knowledge of the human world and their ability to travel deep into human civilization. Luckily, one of them flew down, landing on a nearby rock.

"Hi kid! What are you doing up here? I thought your king made it law that you aren't supposed to break the surface?" the seagull asked as he folded his wings neatly behind him. Looking at Cloud through narrowed eyes, he added, "You're one of those merpeople who can't help but break rules, aren't you?"

Cloud at least had the decency to bow his head.

"Ah, but it's a good thing too. I haven't seen a merboy in ages! Mermaids I've met, but merboys," –he shook his head- "you must be the first in years!"

The blond merboy raised an eyebrow. So there were other rule-breakers apart from himself? And there were more mermaids than merboys? Gee, the guys were getting soft…

Unaware of Cloud's internal musings, the seagull continued to yak away happily. "And I can't even remember when the last time I met Ariel was… Was it months ago? Or was it weeks ago?" - he scratched his chin thoughtfully- "Can't really be sure nowadays. My memory must be going. Well, the other birds did say age was catching up with me… but I didn't think it would be so soon."

As the bird went on to lament on his lack of memory and age, not a squawk got into Cloud's head. In fact, he had stopped listening the moment Ariel's name had slipped out of the bird's beak.

"Wait! Ariel! You know Ariel!?"

"Why of course… that girl has come up to the surface before, and I happened to be in the area. She kept asking me about human stuff," he replied with a shrug, as though uncaring that the princess was a rule-breaker as well. "By the way, if you ever see her, please tell her that the thing she showed me last time, the one that I told her was a dinglehopper… Humans use it to eat, not comb their hair. I was just kidding, but I think she took me very seriously."

Cloud bit his bottom lip. If this bird was Ariel's friend, maybe he wouldn't mind extending a wing and help out a little. And even though the bird seemed a little scatterbrain, he was probably Cloud's only source of help now. So against his better judgment, Cloud decided to ask for some advice.

"Actually, I'm Ariel's cousin. She's got singing lessons today with her sisters, so she couldn't come up here with me today. Name's Cloud."

A hint of recognition settled into the bird's eyes and he grinned. "Ah, so you're Cloud. Ariel's told me about you. Said you had the most beautiful eyes ever. The exact shade of the skies, she said. Hmm," –he peered into Cloud's blue eyes, ignoring the blond's discomfort at the intense scrutiny- "She is right. You do have eyes the colour of the skies. Very pretty."

"Erm, thanks." Cloud blushed and fidgeted. He wasn't too sure how to handle praises about his looks, being long used to being ignored by the mermaids in favour of Zack and Sephiroth. The girls 'woo-ed' and 'ahh-ed' over their tails, over their eyes, over their hair, but seldom had any girl paid much attention to Cloud.

"You're welcome." The bird winked. "Say, if you could, please say 'hello' to Ariel for me. I haven't seen the girl in ages!"

"Sure, I'll tell her that once I get back. But you know, I kinda have a problem here…"

The bird puffed his chest. "Just say it, and I bet I can provide you with a solution! The other birds don't call me a genius for nothing!"

A genius for bragging, Cloud thought with amusement. "Well, how do I address you?"

"Oh, I haven't introduced myself? Excuse my lack of manners, young one. Anyway, you can just call me Scuttle! So what's the problem you're facing? Is there a human artifact that you can't identify? Or is there a human artifact that you want to see? I can just fly around nearby and see if I can pick one up for you. Humans love to leave their things lying around. I don't know why, but they just do it."

Wasn't that akin to stealing? Cloud was half-tempted to voice out his concern, but at the sight of the joyously proud bird, he couldn't bring himself to dampen his spirits. It generally wasn't a good idea to offend someone when he was the one asking for favours, too. So he merely offered a faint smile.

"Well you see, my pearl… You do know what that is, don't you?"

"From what I've heard around, it's something that gives your people the ability to stay in Atlantica."

Not quite, but Cloud wasn't about to correct Scuttle on that. "I kinda lost my pearl, so I can't get home now. You think you can help me get it back?"

Scuttle gasped. "How in the world did you lose it!? Ariel said that the pearl was supposed to be inside your body! Did you eat something that didn't agree with your stomach and barfed it out?"


"Then how did you lose it?"

Cloud laughed nervously. Was he really going to tell this loose-beaked bird? What if the big mouth told his friends about the stupid merboy who'd lost his pearl to a human –a human!- and couldn't go home? And then, the news would travel to a school of fishes, who would then exchange gossips with another school of fishes, and then bam! Good lord! King Triton hears it from crabby old Sebastian. Then where would Cloud be?

The image of himself skewered on his uncle's trident was still fresh on his mind. Still, if he did not ask Scuttle for help, he was going to have to stay near the coast for god knows how long until his friends discovered he was missing. And once they found him pearl-less and stranded, King Triton was still going to find out stupid little Cloud had lost his pearl to a human.

After a moment of contemplation, Cloud decided he was going to pick the lesser of two evils and just ask for help.

"Well… you see, a human was drowning, and then I saved him. Yeah, I saved him. Then… erm… See, the human had been in the water for a very long time, so I did only thing I could to save him." So far, so good. Now came the hard part. "So I gave him my pearl." There. Saying it out loud wasn't as difficult as Cloud had thought.

Cloud's heart sank just as fast as how Scuttle's jaws dropped. The bird choked several times, like words were clamouring up his throat but unable to get out, and he flailed his wings as he jumped up and down on the rock. "How… How… How did that happen!?" Then Scuttle seemed to realize that that part of the problem had already been answered earlier, and he waved it off. "No, I mean… why? Why did you give it to a human?"

Now that was an interesting question, and a question Cloud had no answer to if he wanted to keep his dignity and reputation. Honestly, what would others think of him if they knew the reason Cloud gave up his pearl to a human was because he thought the human was handsome to no ends?

"I… just wanted to save him," Cloud answered carefully. "But that's not the issue here! I need to get it back! Can you help me with that?"

Scuttle raised an eyebrow. "Your pearl is currently /inside/ a human's body, isn't it? How do you expect me to get it back? Peck at him, open a hole, and grab it in my beak?"

Cloud winced, sinking a little more into the water.

"And from what I know, the pearl will stay inside his body almost like it's not there physically. So it's not like I can find it in his toilet bowl or something. Not that I would actually dig in there, of course." Scuttle's feathers bristled indignantly.

Cloud sank deeper into the water. He was about to sink like a rock (much like how his heart was feeling at the moment) into the sea when something Scuttle was rambling on caught his attention, and he immediately shot up.

"So now the only way to solve this problem is for you to come ashore and get it back yourself. I can help you get some clothes. Like I said, humans like to leave their things lying around, clothes included. I've no idea why they hang it on lines though…"

That was it! All Cloud had to do, was to go ashore! He absently wondered why that idea hadn't come to him sooner, and he guessed it was due to the incessant drilling and lecturing of how merpeople were not meant to live on the land surface by his elders. But now, there was no way around it. Cloud was going to have to go ashore, grab his pearl, and return as quickly as possible. Preferably before the whole of Atlantica found him missing and launched various rescue missions across all the oceans.

"You know, Scuttle? That was the best idea you've given me in this entire conversation!"

The bird beamed proudly, fluffing up his feathers. "So you want some clothes?"

"Yes please!"

"Wait here for me then. I'll go get you some right away!" Scuttle took off quickly, heading in the general direction of some human residences.

As soon as Scuttle was out of his sight, Cloud immediately scoured the area for any traces of human existence. He peered right, peered left, peered in front, peered behind, peered everywhere possible on his rattled nerves, and when he finally decided that there was no human around, he took a deep breath. Steeling his determination, Cloud swam for the area where he had dragged Leon onto earlier and heaved himself onto the sand again. Quickly, he tried to flick as much water off his tail as possible and hoped that the bright sun that day would help.

Theoretically, if Cloud could get his tail to be completely dry, they would transform into a pair of human legs, the very same type that had allowed his father to walk on the land. That man was, after all, a human, and Cloud was his only child. It was a wild and forbidden affair, really, between a human male and a mermaid, and it had only ended in tragedy. They were forced to separate, and Cloud never heard from his father again. His mother wasted away after giving birth to him, and Cloud was entrusted to his uncle, King Triton. He never really knew his parents.

Shaking those morose thoughts away, Cloud concentrated on drying his tail and planning his next course of action. He would have to walk around the human territory, and hopefully find Leon and his pearl. Then, he would get his pearl back and return home to Atlantica. It was going to be a risky adventure, but it was one Cloud had to complete by himself.

"If those lecturers at school ask me about it, I'll just tell them I went on an immersion trip to further my studies," he muttered half-heartedly, and waited for Scuttle to return with some clothes. His tail would dry soon.

Blue… Ocean blue…Ocean blue eyes…

For a short while, Leon had believed those eyes were the colour of the sky. Clear blue, free and boundless. And the hair was golden, just like the sun. It only seemed sensible to link those eyes to the colour of the sky.

But when Leon really thought hard about those eyes when he tried to place who their owners were, he discovered that they weren't the colour of the sky at all.

They were not boundless and free enough to be the sky. It was just a hint (or maybe Leon wasn't conscious enough then), but there had been a measure of concern and fear in those blue eyes. Mysterious, fearful, and restricted to some extent.

So they were like the ocean. Ocean eyes.

And Leon still had no idea who those eyes belonged to. According to all his friends who had found him lying wet on the beach, none of them saw anybody else around. The doctors at the hospital couldn't explain why Leon seemed to be completely fine either, when the brunet had been in the water for quite a long time. The only logical explanation was that someone had saved him before his friends came, and perhaps even gave him mouth-to-mouth.

Just who was it? Selphie had cheekily teased Leon for not knowing who he had quite possibly lost a kiss to, for the person could be a hottie for all they knew.

Leon had to fight to keep down his blush, because for some reasons, he had a vague image of a very beautiful blond hovering over him, looking at him with those ocean eyes. Leon had seen only a silhouette, a blurred image with only the hair and eyes striking his vision, but somehow, he just knew the person was beautiful. It was a gut feeling. Besides, the person had a soft, soothing voice to match.

"You're beautiful, you know that?"

If it were anybody else, the brunet would have felt indignant, and retorted heatedly that he was a man, and a man could only be handsome, never beautiful.

But somehow, that voice… Leon didn't feel too bad about it. In fact, if he were to be honest, he liked it. That voice had been sincere and in awe, and whatever he or she had said was secondary.

Leon had wanted to ask the person who he or she was, but he just couldn't hold on to his consciousness. He sighed.

"Hey Leon, are you alright? Why aren't you eating?" a soft voice to his right asked, and Leon was yanked out his daydream and memories. It was Aeris, and the girl was looking at him worriedly. Then Leon noticed that she wasn't the only one. All of his friends had stopped eating their lunch and were staring at him with a mix of worry and concern.

"I'm fine." As if to prove his point, Leon bit into his sandwich. He had no appetite for anything else.

" Leon, are you still mad at me? I'm sorry! If I had known that you couldn't swim, I never would have done that!" Yuffie wailed.

Leon furrowed his brows, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. This was… what? The eighteenth, nineteenth time that the normally spunky girl had randomly burst into wails of apologies? Actually, he had long lost count, even though it had only been two days since she started. "Yuffie, I'm fine."

She continued to sniffle.

"You know, I'm still wondering. Who do you guys think saved Leon anyway? And the person didn't even stay around to call an ambulance or something. Don't you guys think it's strange? I mean, it's not like the person robbed Leon or something," Kairi said quickly in an attempt to change the topic. She didn't miss the grateful glance Leon sent her way, and she smiled.

Luckily, everyone else caught onto Kairi's efforts as well.

"Maybe the person heard us coming and ran off?" Tidus shrugged.

"But what for? It's not like we'd mob them or something! In fact, we would thank them for saving Leon! And maybe we'd even give them a reward!" Selphie said, before she stuffed the last of her lunch into her mouth.

"Well, you would…" Riku mumbled under his breath, and an unbidden image of an over-excited Selphie mobbing the poor person, shaking the person's hand and almost ripping the poor hand off. He had once witnessed Selphie in a state of over-excitement, and it wasn't pretty. Riku still couldn't think of that incident without shivering.

"Maybe they just decided it was better to let us handle it. We're Leon's friends, yeah?"

"Hey Leon, did you see them?"

If it had been anyone else who asked that question, Leon would have rolled his eyes and snapped. Everyone had asked him that same question so many times he was getting sick of answering it. But it was Sora, and so Leon resigned himself to answering nicely. Or as nicely as he could manage.

"I only saw blue eyes and golden hair. Nothing else."

"But that's such a common combination of hair and eye colour. We'll never find them at this rate!"

That struck a chord with Leon, and the brunet sighed. He wanted to meet the person, wanted to know who the person was, wanted to thank the person. But he was probably never going to see the person again.

Cloud tugged on his jeans again, worried that they were going to fall off and give everyone a good eyeful of his tail. Correction, human legs, as Scuttle had told him. How did humans deal with wearing all these… stuff? When Scuttle had returned with a full wardrobe (with some help from his sea gull pals), Cloud had tried to talk his way out of wearing everything. Pants to cover his new legs were enough, he said. Merboys never wore anything to cover their chests.

But Scuttle had insisted that Cloud wore everything he had his pals had taken the utmost effort to bring back for him. They had even tried to pick out stuff they thought would look good on the blond, he claimed. And no decent man would want to go topless in a city, especially someone as attractive as Cloud, for there were extremely desperate single men and women who would pounce on him the moment they saw the blond eye candy.

So Cloud wisely accepted the white shirt. But the shoes he tried to decline again. Cloud could not understand why humans liked to torture themselves by wearing such restricting contraptions on their feet.

Scuttle had shrugged, and said quite nonchalantly that humans just loved making things difficult for themselves.

In the end, Cloud wore the shoes as well, and had one hell of a time learning how to walk in those damned things. As if walking without shoes was not difficult enough…

However, once Cloud had gotten into the human city, he started to appreciate Scuttle's advice. From the stares and drools he had garnered since walking down the human… -it's called streets, Scuttle had shrieked into his ears- streets, Cloud wondered if the humans would really pounce on him if he had refused to wear the shirt. At first, he thought that the humans could recognize him as a merboy and were going to abduct him for some experiment. For some reasons Cloud couldn't explain, he had the mental image of a mentally deranged human male in a white coat reading statistics off his checklist while Cloud floated in some sort of weird liquid inside a glass tube. For more reasons he couldn't explain or understand, Cloud thought he saw Zack floating in another tube beside him.

Anyway, Cloud was almost ready to bolt off and scream for help when he noticed that the humans were staring at his butt, the same way the mermaids always stared longingly at Sephiroth and Zack's tails. With that boost in ego, he figured he was pretty safe except for maybe a few lechers or the likes, and continued along his way. Seriously, it felt good to be appreciated after being ignored by the mermaids in favour of his two handsome friends.

Resisting the urge to blush, Cloud forced himself to concentrate on locating his pearl. He could already feel its faint humming around the area, almost summoning him to its side. Cloud clutched his chest instinctively. It was a strange sensation, the emptiness in his body due to the missing presence of his pearl, his essence. It was much like a void in his soul, something he could survive but couldn't truly live with. However, the emptiness receded a little when he remembered the indescribable sensations that had coursed through his veins, awakened every cell and nerve in his body, the moment when he had kissed Leon…

Cloud took in a sharp breath, and quickly shook his head. That wasn't a kiss. That was only a chaste touching of lips, and Cloud had done so only to save Leon. There was nothing more to it. Still, Cloud couldn't deny how liberating it had felt to… kiss the human. Unconsciously, he brought a hand to his lips, blushing faintly as he recalled the softness of the other's lips.

Then, as quickly as that thought had come to him, Cloud stomped it down. He had come ashore to retrieve his pearl, not act like some lovesick child! And he had to return to Atlantica as soon as he recovered his pearl, so there was no chance of anything happening between him and Leon. Right… he had to return home soon. There was a sudden ache in his heart and he faltered in his steps for a moment, but he ignored it and quickly turned down the street where he felt his pearl was.

"Ariel, Seph and Zack are all waiting for me at home... I have to do this quickly and go back to them…" he muttered as though a chant, like he was trying to convince himself.

Despite all his efforts, however, Cloud could not squish the excitement and anticipation bubbling within him when he thought of the kiss he'd have to share with Leon again to get his pearl back.

While Cloud was still traveling towards his destination and coming up with plans to get to know Leon (after all, he didn't think it was okay for him to run up to Leon, kiss him and run off), something was brewing below Leon, Riku and Sora's apartments. Something that would give Cloud the perfect opportunity to make good on his immersion studies.

"C'mon, Kumo! You don't want to live in some relative's house just 'cause your parents died! You don't even know these people!" a man yelled, running a careless hand through his already mussed up hair. He sighed when his companion looked away and clutched his bag even closer. "Kumo, listen to me. Forget about this life. You're not meant to be a quiet little kid living in a quiet little town. And if you walk up this apartment block now, you'll never escape this mundane life. Kumo, don't you remember how fun it had been? Just you and me, roaring down the roads, the wind blowing into our faces, eating my horrible road-kill cooking and sleeping under the stars? We had nothing to our names then, but we had each other. Isn't that enough?"

Kumo sighed, looking at the photo his relatives had sent him. "But they're my only relatives now. They're all I have left."

"That's not true! You still have me!"


"Please, Kumo. Come with me! Leave this life behind you!"

They gazed into each other's eyes, and in that instance, Kumo made his decision. He nodded slowly.

"Kay," he whispered. "Promise to take care of me forever?"

"I promise." Silver's eyes spelt nothing but determination to fulfill that promise.

Kumo smiled, the first in days since his parents had died. He threw his bag, the very same one he had been desperately clutching to his chest earlier, onto the ground, along with the photo of his relatives. It was his way of showing Silver his determination in leaving this life behind. When they left, he would have nothing left of his old life, and he would start a new one with Silver, and only Silver.

Seeing that he had finally gotten through to Kumo, Silver grinned and nodded towards his motorbike. Kumo needed no further encouragement. Minutes later, the only evidence of them ever being in the area was the abandoned bag and photograph.

By the time Cloud turned around the corner, there was only a trail of dust the bike had kicked up for him to choke on. Blinking to clear the dust, the blond strolled over to Kumo's abandoned belongings in disbelief. So Scuttle was right? Humans really left their things everywhere for others to pick up? This human trait was so strange, he thought. As a merboy, Cloud had been taught to treasure his belongings and store them well, since some things were liable to floating away if one didn't pay attention.

So with a frown, he was about to bend down to pick up the bag when he noticed the photo lying on top, and he picked that up first. It was a family shot, he guessed, especially since the boy's features seemed to be a mix of the couple's. The mother's brown hair and smile, and the father's blue eyes and spiky hairdo. Cloud frowned. Those blue eyes looked eerily like his own, not to mention the boy's spiky hairdo. He wondered if the spikiness was natural, like his own. Absently, he tugged a lock of his spike down to his eye-level, sighing when it quickly sprung back when he let go. Yup, definitely natural.

Just when Cloud was wondering what to do with the bag and the photo, he heard footsteps coming towards him and then someone was talking to him. Cloud quickly spun around, his eyes widening when he noticed it was the boy in the photo.

"Hey, do you need some help? You look kinda lost…" the boy asked, walking closer as he talked.

Unsure of what to do, Cloud just regarded him curiously. Then an idea came to him. Maybe this boy would know who the luggage and photo belonged to, or maybe the stuff belonged to the boy! Right, so Cloud just had to hand the stuff over and he could go on his way and continue his search for Leon! So he held out the things, and was about to tell the boy to not leave the things around again when the boy jumped onto him with a gleeful cry.

"Kumo! You're here!"

It was lucky the boy wasn't too heavy, or Cloud might have lost his precious little balance and toppled over. He still wasn't very comfortable with his legs. "Wha…?"

"I'm Sora, your cousin! Dad and mum have been waiting anxiously for you all week long! Man, we almost thought you'd gotten lost or something! And mum was about to drive all the way to Hollow Bastion to find you! They'll be so happy to see you now. Really! Luckily I decided to come home right after school, or I might have missed you!" Sora was talking a mile a minute, and Cloud wasn't sure he was registering everything. All he could be sure was that the boy had apparently mistaken him for someone else. His cousin, in fact. Maybe it was the spiky hair…

Cloud wanted to correct the boy that he wasn't that 'Kumo' person he was talking about, but he didn't manage to get a word in at all. Sora was still too excited and caught up with the moment that he couldn't see Cloud as anyone but his cousin.

"Oh, and Kumo, I want to introduce you to my friends! They're our neighbours too, since you'll be living with us from now on too!" Sora added with a beaming smile, and Cloud thought it was going to be cruel to tell him the truth. But he had to do it, since he wasn't Kumo, and he still had to find Leon and his pearl. Then, two people rounded the street corner, and Cloud thought his heart was going to stop.

"Riku! Leon! Come quick!" Sora called out to them. "Kumo's here! My cousin's here!"

The silver-haired boy –probably Riku, since Cloud recognized the other- gave a lazy grin, but he hastened his steps. Once he got close enough, he wrapped an arm around Sora's waist to pull him close. "Sora, how many times have I told you to wait up for us?" he admonished lightly, giving Sora a little nudge on the head that was more playful than angry. Then his voice dropped low to whisper into Sora's ears, to which Sora responded with a healthy blush and a mortified squeak that his cousin was around.

It was then Riku looked up, seemingly noticing Cloud for the first time. But Cloud could tell it was just an act. The boy reminded him of Sephiroth on several accounts, and apart from the obvious similarities on their outward appearances, another trait those two seemed to share was the obliviousness they liked faking to put others off-guard.

"Hi, I'm Riku, Sora's boyfriend. I guess you're the cousin he's been talking about all week long?"

Sora beat him to his answer.

"That's right! See? Kumo's got our photo! The one mum sent him!"

Cloud wasn't sure what else Sora said, for his attention had been instantly grappled away and his eyes glued to the tall brunet coming his way. The very one he had saved just a few days ago from a watery grave, dragged up to the sandy shore, and revived with a single kiss… Cloud quickly averted his gaze, fighting to keep his blush down. But it was so difficult to, when his mind summoned up the memories and would not let them dissipate. Leon's lips were so soft…

"Kumo? This is Leon! He's Riku's elder brother, and our neighbour too!" Sora chirped, unaware of Cloud's discomfort.

"Umm… Hi Leon, hi Riku," Cloud greeted with what he hoped wasn't a dreamy voice. When Riku's grin widened (what for, Cloud wondered), and Leon responded with a curt nod after a short hesitation, he smiled. While it was completely unintentional, the misunderstanding was providing Cloud with the perfect opportunity to get closer to Leon. And by doing so he would be able to get his pearl back soon, he hoped.

That was when Leon's gaze on him turned heated, and Cloud resisted the urge to fidget. Did Leon recognize him? Gods, it was only a second when Leon's eyes had opened that day on the beach. Could he recognize Cloud from that one second of a glance?

"Erm, is anything the matter?"

Thankfully, Leon only shrugged. "No," he answered curtly, and walked into the building. Riku and Sora followed him inside, but not before grabbing Cloud's hand and taking him along.

"Err, Sora? Where are we going?"

"To my house, of course! Oh wait, I mean our house now. We've cleared out this room just for you, Kumo! It's pretty big, so I think you'll like it! You just go take a look, and if you see anything you don't like, just tell us and we'll change it or something. Leon and Riku live just across us, so it'll be pretty easy. They helped us with your room too," Sora answered cheerfully as they waited for the elevator.

Leon was living so close by? Bonus! Cloud hoped his inward cheering wasn't showing on his face, and he snuck another glance at Leon. When Leon noticed his glance and looked up, Cloud quickly looked away to hide his blush and smirk. The brunet's gaze lingered on him for a long while, right until the elevator doors slid open with a soft swoosh.

As everyone packed into the elevator, neither noticed Riku's knowing grin.

The Utadas, as Cloud quickly found out, were an easily excited bunch of people who valued family ties very much. It was easily evident when Sora's parents, Keniichi and Aya, rushed home from work immediately when the boy called them at work to inform them that Cloud had finally arrived. The blond got his second clue when Aya pinched his cheeks and Keniichi pulled him into a bone-cracking bear hug when they were all introduced to one another. They both asked –no, demanded- that Cloud call them by their names, and fully respected Cloud's choice to be called Cloud instead of Kumo as well.

It was apparent that they valued hospitality as well, and Aya whipped up a sumptuous meal while Keniichi showed him around the house and helped him settle into his new room.

"Cloud? How's dinner?" Aya asked. "I made all my best dishes tonight, but it's been so long since I made all these! Do you like it?"

"Yes! It's delicious, all of it! Thank you so much, Aya." And there was not one ounce of flattery in his words, because it was truthfully the best dinner Cloud'd had in ages. Not to mention, it was the first real human meal he'd had since coming ashore. It was great; Cloud had long since gotten tired of eating seafood day in and day out.

Aya grinned widely. "Great to know someone appreciates my cooking! These two," –she pointed at Sora and Keniichi- "never say anything about my cooking anymore, and those two," –she pointed to Leon and Riku- "have probably gotten bored already. They have dinner with us at least three times a week!"

"I'll never get bored of your cooking, Aya! I just thought you'd feel my genuine gratitude if I just eat quietly," Riku teased, picking up another piece of the beef stir fry in front of him and chomping it down with great delight.

"Oh, enough of flattery, Riku! You know I'm letting Sora marry you even if you hate my cooking!" she returned in good humour, her eyes lighting up when Sora blushed happily and Riku sported a face-splitting grin.

Cloud blinked. Was Sora getting married already? His confusion must have been pretty obvious, because Keniichi just slapped his back with a laugh.

"Don't mind us, Cloud! We're just a noisy bunch, and Aya just loves teasing Riku and Sora. Those two have been joined by the hips since they were kids! Me and Aya have long accepted that Riku's gonna be our son-in-law someday. So what about you? Got a girlfriend or boyfriend you haven't introduced to us yet?"

"Erm… nope, none at all."

"Ah, no worries about that. I'm sure you'll find someone to settle down with soon enough. Introduce all your friends to Cloud, alright, Sora? Especially those from school."

While Sora and Riku assured Keniichi they'd sic everyone they knew on Cloud, Cloud risked a glance at Leon. The brunet was still eating his dinner quietly, his face a mask of indifference. Cloud thought Leon still looked as handsome as that day on the beach, even though Leon looked a lot sterner awake.

"Talking about school, we've already registered you into Sora's school last week. I called them on my way back, and they've assured me that you can start attending classes tomorrow. Or do you want to take tomorrow off, since you just arrived today and all…" Aya trailed off, waiting for answer.

"Oh, tomorrow's fine, I guess." The closer he could get to Leon, the better.

"That's settled then. Leon, would you do me a favour?"

The brunet looked up with a raised eyebrow.

"You're Cloud's age, so we requested that he be put in your class. We were hoping that you could show you around school. Is that alright with you?"

"I'm okay with it."

And that marked the end of Leon's involvement with the conversation at the dining table. While the others carried on with their colourful and rowdy jabs, teasing and witty comebacks, Leon remained solemn and ate his dinner quietly. But every once in a while, he would look up, gaze at Cloud, and look away again.

"You like him."

Leon did not look up from his book as he answered, "Who?"

"Cloud," Riku answered, flopping messily onto his brother's bed. He ignored Leon's scowl at ruining his otherwise perfectly neat bed. "There's no other reason why you'd look at him so much the whole night. Quite heatedly too, I might add. And Cloud kept gazing at you dreamily too. Aw, you two will make the perfect couple, the type who'll drag each other to the nearest closet available to make out while you're out of the house. Wonderful, isn't it?" He sniggered.

There was no reply for so long that Riku almost thought his brother had fallen asleep, or that Leon could not be bothered to reply, in which case there were only two possibilities: one, Riku's guess was correct, or two, Leon thought Riku's guess was too absurd to warrant an answer. He was wondering which one it was when Leon finally deigned him an answer.

"I just find him familiar."

Riku raised an eyebrow. "You've seen him before?"

"Maybe," - Leon slid a finger between his book to keep track of the page as he looked up- "I remember seeing that golden hair, and those eyes."

"I say Cloud's eyes are a very recognizable physical trait. No one has eyes that blue, not even Sora, and that's saying something. They remind me of the sky, you know?"

"…they remind me of the ocean."

At that, Riku sat up straight. "You think he's the one who saved you at the beach?"

Leon shrugged, but did not seem to entirely dismiss the possibility.

"But if Cloud's the one, don't you think he would have recognized you? Or maybe he's forgotten about you?"

"Maybe," Leon answered, but somehow, he didn't think so. The person who'd saved him had murmured tenderly while Leon was half-conscious, murmuring that he thought Leon was beautiful. If so, he must have given the person quite a lasting impression.

Cloud had the golden hair and blue eyes Leon remembered of his saviour, and that coupled with the blond constantly sneaking glances at him all night long like he was trying to be sure who Leon was, made it all seem probable that Cloud was the one. It really didn't help that Cloud was the cutest guy Leon had seen in a long time, so maybe Leon was inwardly hoping that Cloud was the one he'd been looking for.

And Leon was going to find out if that were the case, come hell or high water.


A/N: I just completed Kingdom Hearts 2 last month (the Japanese version, of course), but I promise no spoilers. After all, this is AU. But I may bring in some characters from KHII, simply because I like them. Still, they're probably not going to have major roles, and the limelight will always be shining on our dear Cloud and Leon.