Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts II nor am I making any profit from this.

Author's Notes: One of my first tries at Kingdom Hearts ficcage. I really wanted to write something about Leon so I hope this does him justice. Could also contain slight Leon/Aerith if you tilt your head to one side and blink rapidly.

Set during the second game, right up until the Thousand Heartless Challenge.

For Rae.

No Ordinary Boy

When Sora returns to Hollow Bastion, the castle is painted with blood, shadows, and all the colors of sunset. The crooked towers gleam rose and gold, the bailey a cool shine of dark gray. The stone beneath his feet is warm but the air is turning heavy with the coming nightfall. The expectation of another attack is in the air. Sora feels it pressing down on the spot between his shoulder blades and behind his eyes. His steps lengthen.

Leon is on the heights, the prince of a demolished kingdom surveying his inheritance. Sora pauses to watch his silhouette, swallowing his first instinct to call out a greeting. Something in the way Leon is standing, the straight lines of his shoulders, his hidden expression says he does not want to be disturbed. Feeling a little ashamed, as if he is witnessing something private, Sora turns and heads to Merlin's where Aerith welcomes him with a sweet smile and gentle words.

She makes him sit and drink a mild, fragrant tea while she tells him how they fared against the recent invasion of Heartless. Having been taken to safety, Sora had not witnessed the final end of the battle and Aerith recounted their pursuit of the Heartless throughout the castle, scouring shadows from the walls with waning strength. Leon had stayed out the longest, unwilling to rest until he was sure only heartbeats remained.

Once again, Sora feels that desperate determination rise within him, a restless wish that he had been able to stay and fight alongside his friends. If Aerith senses his misplaced guilt, she says nothing, only turns her head to view the full dark that has fallen outside. She seems not at all concerned with a second battle or the fact that Leon has not yet returned. Sora's expression twists with questions.

He cannot understand her calm acceptance. Only a day ago they had been overrun with enemies and Sora had reluctantly filled the skies with shimmering, lost hearts. Yet, here they are, drinking and speaking as if everlasting darkness is not just right outside their door, preparing to knock. Sora stands, his fingers ready for the steel of his Keyblade, ready to do something.

"Stay," Aerith says, with a clink of china, "He'll want to see you when he comes back."

And suddenly Sora realizes that he is tired and it's too late to fly on to the next world. Donald and Goofy had gone down to Ansem's study to look for the King and it would be late by the time they returned.

He stifles a yawn and hides an embarrassed smile with one hand. Aerith takes it as consent and leads him upstairs, ignoring Cid's grumbling at the computer as they pass. She opens the door to one of the spare rooms, a tiny thing with a single bed and a cracked window that Sora immediately feels comfortable in. Aerith pulls down his covers as if he were a small child and cracks his window a bit, a sliver of light spilling out onto the street below.

"When will he return?" he asks, flopping onto the bed fully clothed, his body sinking happily into the mattress. Aerith bends and ruffles his hair, raising a blush to his cheeks and a half-hearted protest.

"When he's ready," she answers and bids him goodnight.

He wakes four hours later, disorientated, to voices in the hall. The door to his room opens quietly but he does not show them he's awake. Instead, he peers through his eyelashes, that strange feeling telling him he should stay silent again.

Leon and Aerith are in the doorway. Aerith is still dressed but her hair has been unraveled and she looks sleepy, as if she had been awakened from a nap. Leon is dressed as well and it's clear he's just come in from the streets, gunblade sheathed against his hip. There are dark circles under his eyes but his gaze is still sharp as he drinks in the sight of Sora sleeping there, perfectly safe.

"See?" Aerith says softly, perhaps a little teasingly, "I told you he was alright."

Leon shifts on his feet, his voice low. "He risks himself."

"We all risk him," she agrees, "but he is no ordinary boy." She touches Leon's arm briefly. "We won't lose him."

Something painful flickers across Leon's face and Sora almost rises then, feeling his heart hurt with them. He wants to tell them that he's stronger than the darkness, they make him stronger, their belief in him is his power. But the truth is a small comfort to those who have such precious little left, and though he is not a child anymore, it is nice to feel protected, cherished.

Sora keeps his eyes closed and Leon backs slowly out of the room.

"You're right." The door shuts soundlessly on a promise. "We aren't going to lose him."

In the morning, Sora gets up early and surprises Leon as he leaves for his morning rounds, up long before any of the others. At Leon's startled expression, Sora grins and hefts his Keyblade to his shoulder.

"Ready?"

The rebel leader of Hollow Bastion blinks and then relents with a dry, "Of course."

He has remembered. Sora is no ordinary boy.

He's a friend, a comrade.

A brother.

The End.