Alright, so... who's ready for some Leon/Cloud? First shot at using these two particular characters, and it's a fluffy dive into them.

Disclaimer: Not mine, yadda yadda- The incredible creations that are Cloud and Leon... were not created by me.

Warnings: Um... none really...

Broken Ritual

It was hard for Cloud to get up in the mornings, if he could call Traverse Town's perpetual darkness 'morning' in the first place. He'd lie there, thinking, mulling over life and its meaning as he sought for the willpower to get up in what could have been the middle of the night judging by the view from his window. It took him awhile to find it, as he thought about Zachs, and Tifa, and Aerith's death, even if she was alive again. And Sephiroth. Mostly Sephiroth. It seemed like that was the one that made him want to dig further under the blankets again and yet filled him with a fiery determination to get up at the same time.

It was all a ritual of sorts. He'd been in Traverse for a while now, sharing a small house with the others, with him, Leon and Cid getting the second floor while Aerith and Yuffie happily shared a room downstairs. Leon got up earlier than Cloud, and on the rare nights that Cloud had left his door open out of tired forgetfulness, he would hear the door open of the bedroom next to his, and groggily watch as Leon walked across the hallway and close the bathroom door behind him. He'd listen to the sounds of running water and other fumblings of early morning as he dressed, fingering Vincent's cloak and Zax's shirt alternatively.

It was all a ritual. He'd wait for Leon to finish in the bathroom, though there were two sinks, and the door was left unlocked. It was just because they were private people by nature, and knowing the other was the same, granted each other that privacy. Even were Leon to leave something as insignificant as a sock in the bathroom, he'd wait until Cloud was finished to go back in and retrieve it. They simply had never intruded on each other, and never really needed to, living in a world without deadlines and time restraints. Some might have called it ridiculous, but to them it was an acknowledgement of their space and privacy. It was probably their version of friendly consideration.

This particular day, Cloud noticed that Leon had come out quicker than usual, but paid it no heed as he brushed past him, his eyes still sleep-ridden and his step a bit skewed for the same reason. He was about to close the door when Leon spoke up.

"Do you have a razor I could use?"

The first thing Cloud noticed, odd as it may be, was Leon's wording. Of course he had a razor, otherwise Cloud would be growing a beard—he had gone through puberty, even if Leon sometimes teasingly refuted it. So the answer would have to be yes. The more natural question would have been whether Cloud minded Leon using the razor that he had to have. It was almost as if Leon had asked the question in this particular way to guarantee a positive answer, as if he was afraid that otherwise, the answer would have been negative. As if he was afraid of rejection.

"Yeah, of course," he said, noting the prickly shadow that night had uncovered on Leon's face, "Let me find it…"

Leon watched the blonde rummage through the single bag that held all his belongings as he fingered the stubble that a dull blade had been unable to repair that morning.

Cloud handed the razor to the brunet and here they hesitated, because this situation had never come up before. Should Cloud step out again until Leon finished, or should Leon wait for Cloud?

Leon glanced warily at the blonde standing there calmly, though the shift in his eyes betrayed his confusion.

It was all a routine, and they were both aware of the breach in daily habit.

The brunet motioned almost shyly towards the sink, "I don't mind… if you don't, that is."

Cloud held back a small smile as he relaxed and turned to the mirror, wetting a washing cloth, "I don't. Go ahead."

The air seemed to diffuse, and Leon too relaxed, eyeing the blade, "This thing's sharp. New?"

"No… I've had it for one or two months, I think," Cloud mumbled through the washing cloth scrubbing his face.

"That's right… you don't seem to need to shave at all," Leon muttered, lathering shaving cream over his lower face and neck, resisting the urge to make a quick jibe about preteen boys not having any facial hair at all to shave.

"Maybe once every three days," the other responded with a slight grin, knowing Leon shaved dutifully every day, but by nightfall already had the professed five o'clock shadow.

Silence followed, but it was comfortable, and neither was sure how to carry on a conversation much further past that anyway, so silence was preferable. There weren't many words needed between them, their minds seemed aligned in a way that made it useless to explain some of their actions or elaborate their words like they had to for other people.

At the thirdslow stroke, he cut himself, drawing in his breath sharply as a rectangle of red was slicedinto his jaw and with the pulse of his heart, bloomed.

Cloud's hand was above the cut immediately, reacting almost instinctively, before Leon even had time to rinse his hands off and begin to dress the cut. There was a moment where they both stood frozen, Cloud's wide eyes staring at Leon's surprised ones. Then the hand withdrew, as if appalled at having dared to touch him so thoughtlessly, but returned with a strip of wet cloth, hovering hesitantly before lowering to dab at the bleeding gash.

Leon stood still, not realizing the breath was holding, watching out of the corner of his eye the familiar motions of dressing a wound, enjoying the feathery, cold touches of Cloud's fingertips on his skin. Cloud's face was schooled into indifference once more, but despite the calmness of it, his hands were just barely tremulous. The younger man wiped the blood gently, but Leon still gritted his teeth as the cloth came in contact with the raw flesh.

"It was sharp," he muttered.

Cloud nodded, applying a little more pressure and holding it there to soak, and Leon grimaced, "Sorry."

There was no need to add anything else, no need for Cloud to scold, because he knew that Leon had known, it had been a simple careless mistake, and they knew Leon would not repeat it again. There was no need for Leon to feel defensive either, because he knew Cloud knew what it was like to know but still mess up. It was something they'd both done, and deeply regretted.

"There, it'll clot," he murmured, forgoing a band-aid, which was just as well, because Leon would have refused.


And just like that, Cloud turned away and picked up his toothbrush, and Leon continued shaving—much more carefully, of course.

With silence still reigning over them, Cloud's razor safely back in his bag, and the blonde ducking his head low underneath a faint blush, Leon figured there was little else for him to do, and made to leave.

Cloud wasn't sure whether to be relieved or regretful that Leon was leaving—probably relieved, considering it meant and end to the opportunities for Cloud to embarrass himself, and for Leon to see the blush on his face. He watched covertly as the brunet passed behind him, but to his surprise, Leon suddenly stopped at stared at his back. Why…?

Cloud froze, his eyes widening as he realized what Leon was looking at.

For his part, Leon would have continued on his way and left, but something had caught his attention.

Cloud's wing.

Only the tip was visible, buried underneath the folds of the blood red cloak, and Cloud watched with growing uneasiness as Leon simply stood there.

Leon wondered how it was that Cloud was able to keep it hidden so well, it wasn't like the thing was small or something. There was no reason for him to try to hide it. Leon had known about it for a long time—it was a rather hard thing to keep hidden when you lived with someone, after all, and it hardly bothered him. He thought Cloud had known that. Apparently not.

Slowly, he reached out, sensing more than seeing the way Cloud's body completely tensed, rigidly frozen. Cloud's eyes were wide and terrified as they locked onto Leon's reflection on the mirror, though they weren't able to make contact with the brunet's carefully avoiding ones, but all Leon did was gently unwrap the wing from the confining cloth. The cloak fell aside heavily, and the wing was revealed in its dark glory, naked to the world and fluttering lightly with nervousness.

"You're among friends, you know," he finally lifted his eyes, gazing directly at the younger man.

Cloud's eyes seemed glued to the steely-silver eyes that bore into him, and the gaze was so pure, so burning, that he had to wrench his eyes away before they burned his soul as well.

"I… I know that…"

"You don't need to hide it," Leon stated firmly, and Cloud gave him a slightly bitter smile, his eyes flickering over to his before flittering away again.

"I don't do it for you… I'm… I'm hiding it from myself."

Leon took a moment to process his confession, taking in its implications. Was Cloud really so ashamed of what he'd done to receive this brand? Leon closed his eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath and wondering if he was going too far as he reached out once again. His fingersfloated over the wing for a moment before he gathered his courage andgrazed his fingersslowly from the tip,throughout the length of the whole wing,watching with amazement as the blonde shuddered, gave an almost inaudible gasp, his hands gripping the sink as his breath quickened and his back arched slightly.

"… What does it feel like?" he was unable to keep the wonder from his whispering voice, letting his hand rest on the appendage, surprised to find it warm. He let Cloud draw in a shaky breath and open those glowing sea-green eyes of his, unable to lift his eyes from the curves of the demon-like wing. He'd seen it before, but it never ceased to amaze him, especially this close, close enough to touch.

"Like… like running the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth," the younger man's voice was husky, breathless, and to Leon, just as maddening. He raised his eyes to glance at him again, finding glowing emeralds half-lidded with pleasure as Leon stroked the quivering wing again, emboldened by the positive response.

Cloud sighed softly, almost startling Leon as he stretched out his wing, the tip just barely grazing the ceiling, glorious, and Leon was unable to hold back his awe.

"It's incredible…" he murmured, and Cloud blushed, "… Did it hurt?"

Cloud's eyes flickered over to his before focusing on the edge of the sink, "Like hell," and then, too quiet for Leon to catch, "… Again."


Cloud's wing fluttered, as if beckoning him, and Cloud looked away meekly, that beautiful crimson still gracing his pale skin, "Will you do that again?"

Leon had to fight hard to hold back his smile as he let his fingers ghost over the dark membrane.

It was easier for Cloud to get up in the mornings now that he had something to look forward to— a broken ritual.

Okay, I'm writing this as I watch the ending credits for the fist time. Ansem's annoying ... Man, the ending's beautiful, isn't it? And I had no idea that Cloud actually goes to Hollow Bastion and meets up with Aerith, Yuffie and Leon (and Cid). I squealed, it was exciting happy How come all the fics are set in Taverse Town, then?, anyway.

I'm thinking of doing a second chapter, extending this topic with a different scenario, you tell me what you think. It'd be about breakfast (lol).