Title: To my Angel, your Mortal

Author: Sorceress Fantasia

Pairings: L/C

Warnings: AU, romance, fluff, humour

Word count: 7941

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: 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.

Note: This fic is written for my friend, Rainbow Serenity. Happy belated birthday, hon.

Summary: Their friendship was forged by a simple Angel-Mortal game, and never did Leon think that the same game would drive a wedge between them. Or maybe he's just jealous that Cloud's paying way too much attention to his new mortal.

To my angel,

This is your mortal writing to you for the first time. Haven't got much to say, but my friend insists that that's not the way to end my first note to you, so I'll just write some of the things she thinks I should write.

I would tell you my name, but if I did this game would be over in a minute, and my friend would whine all day in my ear for spoiling it. I'm in the same faculty as you, which of course you know is business.

I'll talk to you more in our next note.

Your mortal

To my mortal,

Thanks for the note. I was quite surprised to see a note addressed to me hanging off the net yesterday, and I even thought someone had written the wrong name. I mean, I just got admitted to this school and suddenly I have someone writing to me? That was just plain weird. Heh, then someone told me about this angel-mortal game that all seniors play with the freshmen, and I realized that it could be my mortal leaving a note for me.

Thank god for timely grapevines. Otherwise, I'd probably leave you hanging. Erm, no puns intended.

So, to make up for that, I stapled a packet of chocolate to my note. Hope you have a sweet tooth.

Your angel

P.S. Which reminds me, why am I the angel?

Smiling gently, Cloud clipped his note on the makeshift net and gave it a little tug. Once he was sure that his note was secured and the packet of chocolate he had attached wouldn't drop off the moment he turned around, he took a step back to appreciate his handiwork. His handwriting was a last minute scrawl, but it looked as elegant as he could manage; the peg he had used was relatively new compared to the others on the net, and the chocolate was his favourite brand. Hopefully, his new mortal would like it too.

"Alright, I'm done! Shall we go for lunch now, Leon?"

"We have twenty minutes left before our next lesson starts, and we need five minutes to get from here to the nearest cafeteria. Subtracting another five minutes for us to get back here for lesson, we only have ten minutes to grab a bite," Leon drawled, rolling his eyes. He adjusted his book bag on his shoulder with a sigh, tapping on his watch tiredly as he made to walk away.

Cloud winced. He hadn't noticed that he had spent so much time on perfecting his note… And now Leon, who had waited for him so dutifully, was irritated as hell. It made him wonder, really, why Leon hadn't prompted him to work faster. The brunet was never afraid of voicing out his opinions, no matter how much trouble his comments could lead to or how much he could ruffle other people's feathers.

Then again, Leon was probably walking down memory lane at the sight of the net full of notes, just like he was. After all, it was how the two of them had gotten to know the other. And to think it was just a simple angel-mortal game.

It was tradition, their seniors had told them, for seniors and freshmen to play the game during the first two weeks of school. It was a game played in conjunction with freshmen orientation week, where the seniors posed as mortals and left little welcoming notes for the new students. Of course, there were some cases where seniors posed as angels instead, but that wasn't the main point. The point was: it was the faculty's traditional game of welcoming the freshmen, organized by the faculty committee way before school even started.

With notes clipped on the makeshift net tied between two pillars in their common area, the game would start.

Cloud still remembered his surprise upon seeing his name scrawled messily on a note back then. He had been confused to no end, even resorting to poking the note and expecting it to explode or something, until a kind soul walking by told him about the game. With some trepidation, Cloud returned the note, wondering what sort of person could be on the other end of the game. A reply came from his mortal the next day, and he returned again. Soon, it became a daily routine to walk over to the common area and search through the many notes for his name, feeling an almost warm pang in his heart whenever he found his note. Sometimes, he even lingered in the area, hoping to catch a glimpse of the person who had replied to his notes so speedily, as though he was enjoying the game just as Cloud was.

They talked about all sorts of things, from school-related issues to their hobbies and even their families. Cloud had even tried asking his mortal about which professors' classes were better until he found out that his mortal was also a freshman. It turned out that there hadn't been enough seniors willing to play the game, and so the faculty committee approached a freshman to pose as another mortal.

But that had hardly been a problem. If anything, it only made the game much more interesting. From then on, Cloud started to pay extra attention to the people in his class. Once or twice, he thought he had gotten the identity of his mortal pinned down only to find out he was completely wrong. There was even this one time when Seifer, a classmate, had to show Cloud his note from his mortal just to prove that he wasn't the person Cloud was looking for.

It wasn't until the game was over and the mortals' identities revealed in the faculty's dinner and dance party that he found out that his mortal was one Squall Leonhart, undoubtedly one of the most withdrawn guys Cloud had ever met. That was probably why Cloud had never suspected him, because his mortal told him everything other than his name, and it just seemed so impossible that Squall was the one he had been looking for all along.

Cloud didn't mind it one bit though. By the time the game was over and the net removed, he thought he had found his best friend, and he knew Leon, as the guy preferred to be known nowadays, probably felt the same way.

"What are you doing, still standing there? If we don't get to the cafeteria soon, your favourite cheesecake's going to be sold out."

Leon's crisp voice broke him out of his recollections, and with an apologetic yell, he hurried up to his friend.

To my angel,

Thanks for the chocolate, but I don't have a sweet tooth at all, so I gave the chocolate to someone else. Hope you don't mind. But I did try tasting one, and it's much too sweet. How do you stomach that sort of thing anyway?

I'm still not sure what I should be writing about, so I guess I'll start from the basics.

I'm from Traverse Town. I wouldn't be surprised if you've never heard of that place; it's a rather small town, about a couple of hours away from here. Still, I'm currently here only because of my scholarship, which basically pays for my tuition and hostel fees. Unfortunately, a couple of my high school friends tagged along so my initial idea of getting away from their clutches has failed.

And you?

Your mortal

P.S. You're the angel because I'm the mortal. And because someone said so.

To my mortal,

How do I stomach chocolate? As my mum would say, you're seriously asking the wrong guy. I can't live without my snacks, my desserts and my sweet treats. In fact, I think I polished off at least two chocolate bars a day while I was revising for my entry exams. And that's on top of an entire cheesecake.

Anyway, you're right about me not knowing where Traverse Town is or even ever hearing about it. Probably because I'm from Hollow Bastion, and that place is like, on the other side of the globe from here. It's a nice place, but I'd much rather get my degree where the beaches are, and beaches don't come any better than here on Destiny Islands.

Talking about beaches, do you swim? I still haven't had the time to go down for a swim and a tan. Any ideas on which beach is the best?

And you're here on a scholarship? Wow, you must be good with books. I'm lucky I even got admitted. Does that mean I can ask you for help when I have problems with my classes? XD

Your angel

P.S. I'm the angel because you're the mortal? So basically, we define each other? Interesting.

Cloud's eyebrows twitched almost violently as he watched skimpily-clad girls group one dunk each other in the water, laughing and teasing each other about the bit of extra fat in their tummies. Sometimes, he thought that Aeris and Yuffie had some sort of microscopic eyes that enabled them to see one new particle of fat in Tifa's flat stomach, because he seriously couldn't see anything. And if the girl slimmed down anymore, she was going to look like bones.

He was tempted to ask around, but then he saw the dynamic duo too busy with burying Riku in the sand to help him with his query. Riku, Cloud thought, was a masochist. Or maybe a more fitting description would be Sora's love slave, something that the little brunet never realized, sadly enough. The moment a request fell out of Sora's lips, Riku would fall over himself just to help. That was probably how he ended up being buried up to his neck on the beach today, with some help from Kairi. That girl was always there to help Sora carry out his 'tasks'.

Poor Riku.

Vaguely, Cloud wondered when Sora would finally see the way Riku always looked at him. It was so obvious, so palpable and so damn noticeable Cloud could never understand why Sora didn't see Riku's lovesick dreamy gazes. Especially when everyone else could see them.

Tidus and Wakka, whenever they weren't obsessed with playing blitzball, usually shook their heads and sighed upon seeing one of those gazes. Selphie the little romantic would swoon and somehow, one way or another, push Sora into Riku's eagerly waiting arms. Everyone else just sniggered.

Cloud sighed.

"You're bored?" A voice beside him asked.

Again, Cloud felt his eyebrows twitching. He bit back the urge to snap, however, and merely spared his friend a poke in the ribs. His friend rolled his eyes at what he deemed was a childish act and turned away. Cloud's arms had never felt an itch this strong to strangle the person, better known as Squall Leonhart, lounging on a straw mat beside him.

Just this morning, Leon had all but marched into his room in the dormitories, wrestled the comfy blankets away from him and thereby leaving him exposed to the elements of the cold morning air, then proceeded to splash some cold water on his face just to wake him up completely. When Cloud protested vehemently, sputtering as he held up a pillow to shield himself from the water and at the same time, demanding to know what had crawled up Leon's ass and died, Leon simply said:

"We're going down to the beach today."

And that was that.

Unfortunately, that was the exact same second Cloud's roommate, Sora, popped out from his own cocoon of covers. When the little chirpy brunet announced that he was going down to the beach with them, Cloud thought he saw Leon's glare harden for a moment until Sora's cheery smiles got to him. Still, Leon's somewhat good mood lasted only until the minute Sora bounced out of the room to "call everyone down" as well.

Even worse, the brunet took to sulking on the beach while everyone else jumped into the water, and he even made Cloud stay with him the whole time. Every time Cloud tried to sneak off for a bit and maybe even touch the new blitzball Tidus had brought for the occasion, Leon would give him a flat stare. Cloud cursed the part inside him that was habitually obedient to Leon.

The sun sure was looking good today… so bright. An idea struck Cloud out of the blues and he grinned; if he was going to have to stay on the beach the whole morning, the least he could do was get a nice, even tan. And knowing how vain Riku could be, Cloud was sure there was a bottle of suntan lotion somewhere in his bag. Surely, Riku wouldn't mind letting him have a bit of the stuff. If he did mind, Cloud would just hide behind Sora.

Smearing a generous amount of the lotion on his body, Cloud moved himself out of the shady umbrella the girls had brought along and never used. Leon was still lounging quietly under the shade, unaware of what was happening.

"What are you doing?"

…Well, not as unaware as Cloud had thought, apparently. Or maybe Leon's internal Cloud alarm had just acted up again. Somehow, the brunet always knew if he was up to something.

"Since your prissiness has forbidden me from playing blitzball and swimming, I don't suppose it'll be too much if I get a tan while I'm being confined here with you?"

Leon had the decency to blush, albeit very faintly. "I never confined you here. You can go have fun with the rest of the guys if you want."

Yeah, and then you'll give me this kicked puppy stare to make sure I stay behind anyway.

"It's alright. I'll just get a tan. Speaking of that, don't you want one too? I mean, isn't that why you got up all blurry eyed this morning and still dragged me out of bed?"

Leon snorted. "Not interested. I don't see why you want to get tanned either. You look better without one anyway." As in on second thoughts, he added, "Is there a reason why you're suddenly obsessed with getting a tan? Like… did your mortal asked you to?"

Ah, so that was it. For some reasons Cloud would probably never fathom, Leon seemed to bear a deep grudge against his new mortal, despite not even knowing who the guy was. When Cloud had grumbled about this to Sora, the younger brunet just gave him a weird snicker and offhandedly mentioned the possibility of Leon getting jealous. That sounded plausible, because he was Leon's best friend in college, and lately, Cloud was a little caught up in the angel-mortal game. Maybe a little too caught up, in fact.

So perhaps Leon had been looking forward to some time alone with him on the weekend?

"Nope. My mortal said he gets sunburned too easily, so he doesn't ever suntan. And talking about him," –Cloud's devilish side surfaced- "I'm really looking forward to meeting him in person on Valentine's Day. I mean, I already know his name since that's how I contacted him in the first place, but I'm still wondering how he looks like." He would have continued to blabber on if just to get a rise out of his friend, but Leon suddenly leapt up from his previously lounging position, looking like a worried father when his daughter told him that she was staying the night at her boyfriend's.

"Valentine's Day? You like him that much?"

Cloud grinned lopsidedly. Leon was really a bit too easy to kid around with sometimes.

"Well, the committee just decided that this year's dinner and dance will be held on that day. You do remember that we're supposed to reveal our identities to our mortals only during the dinner and dance party, right?"

"…Of course I do. And I'm going with you this year."

"But you don't have a mortal." Leon had all but scoffed at the idea of playing, and Cloud quote, "the stupid penpal game" again. In fact, Yuffie had told him near the beginning of their fledging friendship that the only reason why Leon had continued with the game back in their freshman year was because of the combined formidable forces of Aeris, Tifa and herself. The girls still talked with much fond memories about that time when they would take turns to use eyedroppers and guilt trip Leon.

"I can still go as long as I buy a ticket. And you need me there anyway, or you'd get drunk and end up in some alley the next morning."

"I won't," Cloud replied hotly, regretting the day he had let Leon find him in a bar's back alley after a night of wild drinking. He would never forget how Leon kept reminding him of the dangers of passing out like that even when there was a herd of elephants playing soccer inside his head and giving him a killer headache. Thankfully, Leon took care of him as much as he reprimanded him, so the killer headache dissipated quite soon.

Just as he expected, Leon merely rolled his eyes. Cloud took the chance to chuck the bottle of suntan in his face.


"Instead of sulking there, make yourself useful and help me with my back."

Leon blinked for a moment before nodding without a word, moving over almost a bit too slowly. As Cloud started to doze off at his friend's skilful ministrations –Leon was so used to helping him apply suntan lotion that he could probably get a license of sorts already- he wondered absently why it seemed to take forever just to apply that little bit of suntan on his back.

To my angel,

I haven't gone down to the beach yet. Hadn't exactly had time for it, to be honest, since I'm still trying to adjust to living in the dorms and keeping up with classes. I might be going down this weekend though. And yes, I do swim, even if I don't always enjoy it since some of my friends have the habit of shoving bikini-clad girls into me.

As for classes, I can help if you need it. Just attach your question here or something. But know that I'm not always correct, so I may not be helping much in the end. I'll try my best though.

Anyway, my friend got an extra bar of chocolate because the vending machine went crazy earlier. Two bars fell out instead of one. So I'm stapling it to my note for you.

And talking about vending machines, don't ever attempt to get coffee from the drink dispenser nearby after three in the afternoon. I think that's the time when the machine starts to spit out plain water because it's run out of coffee powder by then. It's happened to me thrice in a row.

Your mortal

P.S. Definitely interesting. But not as interesting as how you'd draw a halo and a set of wings whenever you sign off.

To my mortal,

Seriously? I wanted to go down to the beach this weekend too, but then my roommate just up and decided that we'd hit the town instead. Too bad; I could have met you there. Then again, we don't know how the other looks like, so we'd probably miss each other anyway. Man, I'm looking forward to meeting you in person during dinner and dance. You are going, right?

And you have the best friends. I wish my friends would shove handsome people into my arms when I go swimming. Preferably handsome man, actually. Hope you don't mind, but my sexual tendencies lean towards the curvy side. Straight as a corkscrew, my roommate tells me. It's cool that he doesn't mind sharing a room with me. You? I hope you're not bothered by this. crosses fingers

Thanks for the chocolate! It kept my stomach from growling in class earlier, when I missed lunch for a project. I'd give you a bar in return, but I know you don't have a sweet tooth at all. Maybe a bag of chips instead? The vending machine was crazy anyway.

And yes! That despicable drink dispenser ate my money for two days straight too before I realized what was up with it! Now I sneak up to the staff pantry for my coffee. It's free and always available. And they even have cakes in the fridge sometimes too. Hope the staff will just chalk it up to stray animals that have somehow learned the art of opening the fridge with their paws. Then again, last I heard, this crazy professor in the bio science department seems to have created a couple of huge, mutated rats clever enough to do that…

Your angel

P.S. Well, you could start doodling a set of horns and a trident to make your notes as interesting as mine. XD

P.S.S. Ran into a problem with my accounting class. Help please? Questions attached to the note!

Quickly scanning the area for any passerby and trying to look inconspicuous while at it, Cloud fed some coins into the vending machine before giving a well-timed kick to its side. He grinned when two packets of potato chips fell out instead of one. As he bent down to pick up the snacks, he heard Leon coming up to him, undoubtedly with two cups of coffee in his hands. He choked out a laugh upon seeing not just coffee, but also a slice of chocolate cake in his friend's waiting hands.

"No one was in the staff pantry anyway," Leon remarked offhandedly.

"Good going there. Now we can have a picnic while we're typing our reports."

Walking by the common area, Cloud's eyes lit up suddenly. Shoving the cake back into Leon's hands and ignoring his protests, the blond sauntered over to the net where a new note was waiting for him. Not just that, but his mortal was really getting to know him really well too. Why else would there be an extra large packet of chocolate candy stapled to the note? And it was his favourite brand too!

His mortal was really, really good.

Unclipping the note from the net, Cloud tossed it into his book bag, making a mental note to giving his mortal some chips again. That guy loved his chips like Cloud loved his chocolate.

"Your mortal's treating you like you're his pet or something. He's always feeding you," Leon noted dryly as he adjusted the cake and the coffees. "Should you be eating all that stuff? You don't know that guy."

"You feed me all the time too. In fact, you get prissy when I skip meals, so you're one to talk. And we used to give each other all sorts of snacks back when we were playing the game with one another too, if you remember. I ate everything you gave me, by the way. Did I ever tell you that?" the blond replied, walking over to an empty table nearby to deposit all the food. Tossing his book bag on the bench, he sighed, "Those days were fun. And I got free food everyday."

Leon shook his head, but he followed Cloud to the table anyway. "It's like I picked up a stray…" He chuckled softly when Cloud bristled at the comment, which disappeared the moment he pushed the chocolate cake over. While the blond was busy with devouring the dessert, Leon found himself smiling at how messy an eater Cloud was. He pushed a serviette over as well.

"…I ate everything you gave me too."

"What?" The cake was too delicious to allow Cloud dividing his attention.


To my angel,

No, I don't mind your sexual preference. Personally, I believe that there should be no restrictions or limits on who and how humans can love one another. Same sex, different sex… does it matter? And honestly, we're facing a population explosion, so we could do away with a few more babies anyway.

And yes, I'll see you at the dinner and dance. I wasn't intending to go actually, but if you're going, I suppose I should be there too, if just to see how you look like. That, and I'll get dragged there by my friends anyway.

Thanks for the chips. I was just feeling hungry in my room while I was catching up on some readings, so the food saved me a trip to the pantry. And I'd pick potato chips over instant noodles any day. I still twitch uncontrollably whenever I see the stock of instant noodles my roommate keeps.

The staff pantry is a viable option, really. I've noticed that quite a few students have been going there for their daily caffeine fixes too. I'll probably try that place out soon too. And don't worry about the staff getting angry over the loss of their food. My friends tell me that they don't really care. It's probably like feeding a pack of hungry strays to them. Why else do you think the place is never locked?

Talking about crazy and weird professors in the school, have you seen Prof Valentine? I heard he looks like a vampire, but I've never seen him before. I think he only teaches the upper levels or the masters class.

Your mortal

P.S. I'm supposed to be a mortal, not a devil. So, no horns or tridents. You'll have to make do with a stick figure. It's supposedly the only thing I draw that actually looks like what I'm drawing. This is why I'm not majoring in art.

P.S.S. I've attached the answers for your questions after this note. You'd better check through them once just to make sure I didn't make any mistakes though.

To my mortal,

You have no idea how relieved I am! I was worried that I'd lose your friendship by coming clean with you about my sexual preferences. But ah, I've never looked at the issue in terms of the population crisis… At least I know you have a dry sense of humour now.

And now I'm really looking forward to seeing you at the dinner and dance party! I wonder how you look like. But nah, don't tell me. Surprise me on that day instead. I guess you're not a blond though, since you seem too smart to be one. Oops, did I just insult myself? XD Ignore my lame blond joke. I've just been exposed to too much of it while I was growing up since I'm a natural blond. I always told myself that I'd dye my hair black as soon as I graduate from high school, and I'd even gone as far as the hair salon, but I just couldn't do it. I've grown to like my blond hair, thank you very much.

You say the staff sees us as strays and so they feed us? It feels kinda weird to take the food now that I know.

Yea, I've been Prof Valentine before. He's just a little pale, but other than that, he doesn't look like a vampire at all, I think. I have his class as an elective actually, and he's a pretty nice guy. A little too serious, but really nice guy. He let me extend the deadline for my assignment because I had some trouble with another class!

Your angel

P.S. Hope you'll be glad to know that your doodle does look like a stick figure. XD

P.S.S. Thanks for the help!

There was an undeniable skip to the way he was walking.

A tune, so soft it was almost inaudible, flowed from his lips as he bounced up the stairs to his room. On a whim, he backpedaled once before going up again, like he was doing a playful rendition of a dance step right off his head. The grin on his face was almost impossible to wipe off, and it was so contagious a few people he passed by in the corridor couldn't help but smile back at him, even if they had no idea why.

He did not lose his smile even when he finally reached his room, where a flustered Leon turned a heated glare on him after several unsuccessful attempts at breaking down the door. Poor door.

"Where the hell have you been?"

Cloud blinked, and his smile faltered slightly. Leon reminded him, all of a sudden, of a roaring lion whose beady eyes were looking for the perfect opportunity to pounce and rip its dinner apart from limb to limb. While Cloud had long already gotten used to the brunet's mother hen tendencies, which tended to surface whenever there was some sort of perceived danger to Cloud, he was never going to get used to his friend's recent surge of… over protectiveness? Jealousy?

There was no word for it, really. And Cloud didn't understand why Leon was acting this way either to give it a name.

Instead, he chose to take a step at a time. "At the dinner and dance party, remember? The one you were supposed to go with me until your professor just up and decided to give your class a test." He still winced at the memory of Leon drenching his notes with highlighter pens, forcing the pens entirely too hard on the thin sheets of paper, as the brunet tried to revise for the sudden test. Cloud wouldn't be surprised if there was a doodle of a stick figure with knives sticking out of him somewhere in those notes.

"The dinner and dance party ended over three hours ago! Where did you go?"

Cloud did not manage to stop himself from taking a step back.

"Would… would you just calm down? I just went for a couple of drinks with everyone else, that's all. Sora suggested bringing our mortals to the nearby pub because they haven't been there yet," –Cloud forced himself go forward, pushed by his friend to open the door, and he grimaced at the creaking hinges that were probably a result of Leon's abuse – "Speaking of which, Sora got so totally smashed like you wouldn't believe it. He actually jumped onto Riku and demanded a piggyback ride, and when we got back here, he just refused to leave with me, so he's spending the night over at Riku's room. I would have worried about his virginity a bit more if Riku wasn't such a gentleman. Thank god for that."

He stepped inside his room, hand instinctively reaching out to flip on the lights. His mouth was still running off a mile a minute like some machine on auto-mode, and Cloud was vaguely aware that he was completely rambling random nonsense and gossips. Somehow, however, he found himself unable to stop. A voice inside his head warned him against stopping too, in fact.

For the first time since knowing his best friend, Cloud didn't want to hear whatever Leon had to say. He had never seen Leon so scary, so angry, so… domineering. Best to defuse the bomb with some idle chitchat, he thought.

As light flooded his room, he tried to busy himself with getting himself ready for bed, hoping that Leon would take it as a signal to leave and thus sparing him the mental anguish of coming up with conversational gambits. It was Sora's forte, not his. He had to forcefully suppress a pout when the gaze burning into his back persisted, and then there was a soft click from the closing door.

Still, the situation didn't seem too bad. At least the fire-blazing murderous aura Leon had been radiating previously was being watered down, albeit slowly. Sora would be proud to know how mentally calming his antics could be. Cloud made a mental note to start collecting a file on the younger boy's endeavors and exploits.

"Who is your mortal?"

The sudden voice, seemingly so calm and normal again, almost caught Cloud off guard. He paused midway in pulling off his shirt, quickly pulling it back onto himself to save himself from the blazing sparks of fire that Leon was giving off again.

"Erm, a freshman named Sephiroth. He's actually older than us because he took a couple years off to set up his own firm before coming back to school. Pretty nice guy, very mature and gentlemanly." Definitely nice guy. Sephiroth was extremely charming and charismatic with his dry sense of humour, something Cloud had already known from their many notes, but he had not expected his mortal to be so much more interesting than that. The man was even rather roguish, using flamboyant language to trick Cloud down into the dance floor several times. Not that Cloud needed any encouragement at all, of course, especially so when Sephiroth was an accomplished dancer. The man did seem to have two left feet when it came to casual dancing, however.

Teaching him how to dance anything that wasn't foxtrots and waltzes was something Cloud knew he was going to enjoy thoroughly.

"He even asked me out for a drink next week."

Cloud wanted to slap himself upside the head for uttering that last sentence. He was sure that everyone within a quarter mile knew how much Leon disliked his new mortal, and yet he had let that tidbit slip out. Idiot. He continued to chastise himself mentally as the room dipped to subzero temperatures. Even so, he could not help but chuckle at the mental image of Leon and himself in penguin suits.

No, when he turned around to face his friend again, he decided that a polar bear suit would be more fitting on Leon. Cloud 'eeped'.

"Are you going out with him?"

"Well, yea… I mean, it's just a drink…" Cloud was proud of the fact that he did not let slip that he was probably going to do some dirty dancing with Sephiroth too.

"I don't mean that, and you know it. Are you going to date him?"

Cloud started to button his shirt again. "Maybe? I don't know. It's a little too early to talk about that sort of thing, don't you think so? I've only known him for a couple days short of a month," –he bit his lower lip, mentally going through the number of days thus far- "Far too early," he concluded.

"Does that mean you're actually considering him?"

Woah, loaded question there. Too bad Cloud couldn't come up with any way of avoiding that question on such short notice. He thought he could hear the Funeral March, played by a full orchestra and accompanied by roaring thunder and lightning streaking wildly across the sky, playing behind him.

…Darn his overly creative imagination.

"Erm… maybe?"

And darn his inability to lie to Leon.

Though he didn't exactly understand why, Cloud wasn't surprised to see Leon's fists clench at his answer. He bit his bottom lip again, and a blush which he failed to hold back coloured his face. It irked him that words, something he desperately needed right now, were eluding him like whimsical butterflies fluttering out of his net's reach. Worse still, in a strange case of cosmic irony, he couldn't decipher the look in Leon's grey eyes, even if Cloud had never seen them as expressive as they were right now.

There was a tinge of melancholy, some anger, a little hatred and even a quiet hint of shame… but the rest, he couldn't read.

Suddenly feeling awkward, Cloud hastily threw his closet door open and hid behind it, as though it was some sort of shield meant to protect him. From what, he didn't know. His stiff fingers, almost afraid to move and destroy something –anything- worked clumsily through his shirt buttons again. Something told him that slipping out of his shirt right now was a dangerous thing to do, but Cloud wanted the pretense of normalcy much more than his unexplainable fear.

But just when his fingers had finally freed the second button, Leon's voice cut through the tense air like a knife.

"It's been over a year."

Cloud stilled in his actions. It took him a moment to look up at his friend again.

"We've known each other for over a year." Leon's voice was soft, dull and flat. Yet, despite that, it held more feelings than Cloud had ever thought possible. "Why is it that you won't consider me even after a year, but you'd consider going out with someone you've known for only a month?"

Hey angel,

Are you single?

Your favourite mortal who is already ten minutes late for class

My dear, dear mortal,

…Is there a reason why you're asking? Trying to cut down on the list of potential suspects while you're figuring out who I am? Then again, you already know who I am, just not how I look like.

Anyway, the answer is yes. And you?

Your dearest angel, writing this note in class

Cloud stopped breathing.

Leon seized the chance, crossing the room in a few purposeful strides and with a harsh push, slammed the closet door shut with a loud crash. Something had broken inside, but neither cared much for it at the moment. Their eyes, each brimming with undecipherable emotions, met and locked. For the longest moment, they had everything and nothing to say. And their eyes never broke the connection.

"But…" Cloud's voice was hoarse. "…you've never said anything about liking me."

"You've never said anything about not liking me, either," Leon replied, his gaze as hard as diamonds and as soft as velvet. It was a look Cloud found familiar but couldn't place a finger on it all of a sudden.

"But it doesn't work that way… Just because I don't… not like you, it doesn't necessarily mean I like you," Cloud noted weakly, his voice hitching.

"Then do you like me?"

The simple sentence was like a chord strummed in an empty room, one that was vast and almost vacuum-like, reverberating throughout in tireless echoes. Something shattered silently.

"But you're straight…" Yet, when Cloud searched through his memories, he could find no one occasion when anyone, least of all Leon himself, had ever verified this little piece of information. Come to think of it, Yuffie had even once made a teasing jab at Leon's so-called straightness, provoking wave upon wave of giggles and chuckles from the other girls.

"If only you were well, unstraight, you'd make a pretty cute couple with our Cloudster here," she had said while laughing herself silly over the comment. Cloud remembered Leon's embarrassed outburst and everyone's catcalls. He almost believed it could be true. Almost, until he reminded himself that guys like Leon couldn't be batting for the other team. Guys like him were always straight.

He couldn't even define what 'guys like him' actually meant, but Cloud just knew. People like Zack, Zidane, and more recently Seifer… All those people who had made his heart skip a beat before turning him down because they were straight.

Maybe, in all that rejections, Cloud had just started to tell himself that guys like them were always straight.

And maybe after a while, he started to believe so.

Leon shook his head. "I never told you that. You just assumed it on your own and never bothered asking me."

Maybe… possibly… perhaps, after a while, Cloud couldn't find it in himself to ask again.

He sighed. "I just…"

Leon didn't seem to have heard the quietly uttered words. Instead, he continued, "Haven't you ever wondered why I turned everyone down? Or why I refused to go home during Christmas breaks, breaks that were just too short for you to return home because you live too far away from school, choosing instead to stay in the dorms with you? Or that I've never dated anyone?

"Didn't you ever think that I did all that because I like you?"

In the silence that followed, Cloud took a deep, shuddering breath. Leon's stormy gaze were pleading, the emotion so foreign and awkward in those bright grey eyes. It seemed so tangible all of a sudden, the plea, like it extended an invisible hand that was nothing more than a tendril of smoke over to caress his cheeks. It soothed him.

Something stirred within him, and a warmth crept up his face at a sudden realization.

The look in Leon's eyes… Cloud finally remembered what it reminded him of. It reminded him of the look in Riku's eyes, every time he looked at Sora. That love struck, lovesick, tender gaze, mixed with a veil of wistfulness that Cloud had always seen but convinced himself it was just a phase. That helpless gaze that had always made him sympathize with Riku because of Sora's obliviousness. That same gaze that Cloud had always prided himself on being able to see.

He just never thought Leon's eyes would look at him that way too.

"The way you look at me…" Cloud whispered as he reached out a shaky hand to cup Leon's cheek, breath almost catching in his throat. "You've always looked at me this way."

Leon smiled softly. Before Cloud could say another word, Leon closed the final bit of distance between them, claiming his lips for their first kiss.

Neither uttered another word for the rest of the night. None was needed. Not anymore.

My (single) angel,

I'm just curious. And yes, I'm single too. Does it sate your curiosity?

Your favourite mortal

My dear, forgetful mortal,

Sate my curiosity? If you've forgotten, you're the one who started asking if I was single. So there. :P

And too bad you're straight. Or we might make the best couple on campus! XD Nah, just kidding. Don't take me seriously and more importantly, don't get scared off.

Your (happily single) angel

The vending machine had no idea why it was suddenly being seen as a devil-in-disguise. Cloud, the blond kid who had always kicked its side for an extra packet of snack, was glaring at it like he was mentally willing for it to spontaneously combust or something of the likes. The way the blond was glaring at it, it made it feel like it deserved nothing short of a gory, violent death for eating the coins and then not spitting out the potato chips.

But really… the vending machine had, in the two years since Cloud's admission to the school, been kicked on an almost daily basis so as to force it to spew out not one, but two packets of snacks for the price of one. Surely, it had earned the right to trick Cloud ten times over.

Too bad Cloud didn't seem to care much for fairness when it came to vending machines and whatever stood in his way for food.

The vending machine almost shivered. If it could, it would have picked itself off the ground and ran for it. Maybe it would even settle down in a nice girl school and get the student population to coo over its latest collection of chocolate bars. Too bad it couldn't just up and escape without tripping over the electric wires, so it resigned itself to just sitting there and get kicked several times more.

"Cloud? What are you doing?" a deep, rich voice rang out from behind Cloud, and the vending machine sighed in relief. Was this its savior?

Sadly, as the blond looked over his shoulder, his feet did not forget to deliver another spiteful kick to the machine. Ouch.

"Oh, hi Seph!" Cloud waved in a friendly gesture before turning back to scrutinize the problem at hand. "This machine ate my coins. And my chocolate is still inside," –the machine felt itself get shaken - "Oh, c'mon! Just spit it out already!"

Sephiroth's handsome face twisted into a mix of wry amusement and disbelief. Digging into his pocket for some spare change –and thereby not noticing the machine's mental cheers and words of gratitude- he said, "Give me a second."

Before he could find the exact change, and before Cloud could even respond, the machine felt someone smoothly feeding some coins to its waiting mouth and pushed a button. Rather unwillingly, the machine spit out two bars of chocolate, one of which was Cloud's that had been stuck inside earlier. Then again, there wasn't much of a choice. It either surrendered the food and therefore spare itself from more kicks, or it could withhold the food again and endure more abuse, which would certainly be doubled now that the blond's best friend and shadow had arrived as well.

It heaved a sigh of relief when Leon straightened up after picking up his purchase. No more kicks, it thought.

However, it wasn't so sure ten seconds later, after Leon had grabbed Cloud's waist and pulled the blond close enough to make him squirm a little before getting comfortable. It was only after pressing a short kiss to Cloud's lips that Leon yielded the bar of chocolate over.

The look on Sephiroth's face scared it a little.

"We have class in five," Leon noted simply, addressing the lithe blond snuggling in his embrace.

"I almost forgot about that one… can't we just skip it?"


"Not even once? I'm tired already."

"Be good, Cloud. I'll get you coffee later."

As the two bantered back and forth, standing entirely too close together with their arms loosely draped around the other, the vending machine tried to inch itself further away. Sephiroth was just standing there, mild shock registering on his handsome face, and that was a deadly combination. It had always thought Cloud to be the cutest guy it had ever met, with features of an angel. And what did the blond do? Kick it repeatedly for food.

The machine had a bad feeling that Sephiroth was going to turn out the same way…

And it was right, when Leon shot the silver-haired man a superior smirk and walked off with the blond in tow. It swore to itself to find a way to leave the cursed school as soon as possible as it endured another heavy kick.

My blond angel,

Are you free this afternoon, after classes? Riku told me there's this cheesecake cafeteria downtown that's been pretty popular with our classmates recently. Interested?

And by the way, keep this between us or Riku and Sora and everyone else will try to tag along. They make too much noise and spoil the mood.

Your only mortal

My dearest mortal,

Yes! Absolutely! If the cheesecake cafeteria you're talking about is the one I'm thinking of, I'll hug you to bits for asking me there! I've been waiting to go there for days, and now it's finally the weekend. :)

…What mood? Is there a mood you need to go into before you can start eating? Oo Besides, the more people there are, the more fun it gets. You don't eat much cheesecake anyway, but Sora will compete with me for the champion title of 'most cheesecake devoured in a minute'. And Riku cheers us on.

And honestly, if you didn't want them to know, you shouldn't be passing me this note during class! Hello, I'm sitting right next to you! They'll be wondering why you wrote me a note instead of just whispering to me!

And why are we still calling each other mortal and angel? We already know each other's name since like, a week ago, during the dinner and dance party! We've been hanging out almost everyday since!

Leon, you're really weird sometimes. XD

Your hungry angel, better known as Cloud


Moral of the story: Don't ever be a vending machine in whichever school Cloud, Leon and Sephiroth are studying in.

Author's note: Believe it or not, I finished this fic yesterday, and today, the vending machine in school ate my money and refused to give me my sandwich. Must be bad karma. I was soooo tempted to kick it. Seriously! And because of this, I had to skip lunch. The damn machine ate my lunch money! Argh...

Edit: There was a huge mistake in one of the Angel's messages earlier, so I've fixed it. Hopefully it'll be easier to understand now. Anyway, yes, the messages were written by Leon (Mortal) and Cloud (Angel) in their freshmen year. XD