Title: Of Course
Author: Sorceress Fantasia
Warnings: AU, romance, fluff, humour
Word count: 4880
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.
Summary: The couch in the library was Leon's favourite sanctuary for reading. It was little wonder why his eyebrows twitched violently when he arrived one afternoon, a few books in hand, only to find a stranger already there.
If there was one redeeming point about having once volunteered to help out in the school library, it was surely this: knowing where all the great reading spots were. And surprisingly, there were not many, probably because students enjoyed lounging in the air-conditioned library during hot afternoons and their snoring usually destroyed any semblance of tranquility inside.
However, despite all that noise, there was still one special spot that had yet to be discovered by the vast majority.
It was almost like a virgin forest, unexplored, undiscovered, and untouched. And best of all, there was a small, warm couch there which reminded him of a solemn soldier standing guard by his king's castle so as to keep unwanted company out. Even if the place got a little cold at times, it was nothing unbearable.
That was Leon's favourite sanctuary for reading.
It was little wonder why his eyebrows twitched violently when he arrived one afternoon, a few books in hand and eagerly anticipating one good read after another, only to find a stranger already there.
The stranger was quietly flipping through a book, one that Leon instantly recognized as a red-spot book, which probably explained why the stranger was reading inside the library. Books marked with those little red damnable stickers were not allowed to be borrowed out of library premises, unfortunately, and so most students just gave up on reading them completely. That problem was exacerbated by the fact that most red-spot books were thick, academic reports that had as much jargon as a medical textbook.
But this was no time to be impressed by the stranger's intellectual prowess, Leon's mind reminded him, not when his favourite couch in the entire library was being invaded! Resolutely, he sauntered up to the stranger, looming over the other to cast a dark shadow. He gritted his teeth when this tactic did not get him the attention he wanted, and tersely, he coughed into his hand.
Thankfully, the stranger got the message this time and he looked up. That was when Leon stopped breathing.
The sight of those precious blue eyes that sparkled even in the shadows momentarily dazed him, and they reminded him of pure, clean water glistening under the sun. Beautiful. The image of beauty was further imprinted into his mind by the stranger's golden hair, looking like silk that had been kissed by the sun's tender touch and spun by the world's most skilful weaver. Vaguely, Leon wondered if goddesses were also envious of the stranger's fair, smooth complexion.
"Sorry, is there anything I can do for you?"
Leon suddenly remembered his initial purpose and regained his composure, standing straight and holding his head up high. "You're sitting in my seat."
This made the stranger raise an eyebrow, and he proceeded to look all over the couch as though looking for something. But he never got up from the couch. "Hmm, I don't see a name anywhere. This should be fair game to everyone."
"It's my usual seat."
"I didn't say it wasn't. Well, if you're so insistent, you can just sit," –he patted the seat beside his- "here. This couch's big enough for both of us."
Indeed it was. The couch was a two-sitter, and it looked like it was big enough to even allow three people to squeeze together.
But Leon didn't want to share his favourite couch. He didn't want to share a seat with anybody, not even with someone as attractive as the stranger, period. There would no doubt be an awkward feeling to sit together with someone, after he had gotten used to sitting alone. And Leon didn't want that to change.
So he was about to just leave and hopefully find another good, quiet spot to read –though he knew the chances were slim to none- when the stranger reached out a hand suddenly and pulled him down onto the couch. Completely unprepared, Leon tumbled onto the cushioned couch like a sack of potatoes, barely holding back a yelp and dropping his books. Thankfully, he had fallen butt first, so the bruise to his pride wasn't quite as bad as it would have been had he fallen head first. Besides, he had fallen rather nicely into the seat.
The stranger just smirked. "Now that we've gotten you onto the couch, we can both read what we want quietly." And he turned back to his book.
Leon gaped in disbelief. "You pulled me down!"
"Yes, that I did, and now you're seated nicely on the couch already. So what's the problem?" The stranger smiled warmly, a faint trace of amusement lingering on his lips.
Leon found himself unwilling to argue, so he merely snorted and picked up his first book. The other just shook his head with an expression that could only be described as fond exasperation before turning his attentions back to his difficult read. For the longest while, there was no sound between them except for their soft breathing and the crispness of the pages turning.
Strangely enough, there was none of the awkwardness Leon had previously imagined there would be, nor was there any type of disturbances that plagued his reading. Instead, in its place, there was a new, settled warmth in the atmosphere, enlightening him to a level of deeper concentration and greater absorption of the information in the books. It comforted him. And the place felt warm all afternoon, despite the fact that Leon could hear the extra burst of energy from the air-conditioner in response to the hotter weather outside.
And the little gap between their thighs kept its distance through it all, culminating a newfound amiability and comfortable sensations between the two strangers.
When Leon returned to his favourite couch the next afternoon, he was almost disappointed to find it empty.
But he sat down anyway, a new book that was ready for some breaking in clutched tightly in his hand. The library had just shipped in a new series of science-fiction books, and Leon was almost too eager to read every last one of them. He had to remind himself to slow down lest he ripped the covers off and get himself thrown out by a librarian. It took a while, much longer than he usually did, to get into the fantastical world of technology, science, misused knowledge, but once he did, there was little to break him out of the reverie of reading. However, he couldn't help but shiver when the temperature dipped suddenly, almost like someone had poured a bucket of ice over him before leaving him out in the cold.
Leon was quick to grab his leather jacket, casting a faint mournful look at the empty seat beside his.
Suddenly, something flashed right in front of his eyes, zooming by, too fast to be caught. It was probably a hand, but Leon couldn't be sure. A light chuckle betrayed the source though.
When Leon lifted his head and saw who it was, his eyes widened a fraction of an inch as his jaw fell slightly. "You…"
The blond teenager from yesterday just smiled wider. He was dressed neatly in their school uniform, a thin jacket framing his slim and slender form. His slenderness was something Leon had not noticed until that moment, and now that he had, Leon found himself unable to imagine, for the life of him, how the teen would look with a stouter body. It made him look even more attractive, if it was at all possible. And when Leon really, truly studied the other, he finally realized just how young the teen really looked. Probably a year or so younger than himself if they were both in high school, but the teen didn't seem that… old.
"I just wanted to see if you actually come here frequently enough to say that's your usual seat!" he said, amusement lighting his eyes and lacing his every word.
There was a subtle cheerfulness to the teen, the glint bouncing off his blue eyes that were the colour of the sky. And for once, Leon found he could fault nothing about that cheerfulness. It did not stare at others in their face and compelled others to believe its owner was cheerful, like how some of his friends were sometimes, and neither was it a forced cheerfulness of any sort. It was just… a very nice sort of cheerfulness.
"I come here almost every afternoon."
"Really? And I suppose you've named that couch after yourself just to keep intruders like myself out. But you should write your name on it or something; otherwise, people like me tend to ignore it." The subtle, almost subdued cheerfulness was still present.
Leon rolled his eyes. "I'll come back here with a name tag that reads 'Property of Leon' tomorrow then."
The blond teen cocked his head smugly. "Of course," he said simply, a ghost of a smirk dancing on his pert lips. "And with that I'll get a name to know you by." He slumped into the seat beside Leon's right after he had finished speaking, snuggling into the warmth that was the couch. Throwing his bag onto the ground and nudging it out of the way, he pulled up a book, setting it on his thighs. It was the book from yesterday. This time round though, the teen started somewhere from the middle of the book.
He was probably continuing the read, Leon guessed. He really couldn't be sure, since he had been so absorbed into his own book that he was completely oblivious to the teen's departure yesterday. It wasn't something that happened a lot, but it did happen often enough for Leon to not see his behavior yesterday as strange. Now though, that particular habit of his was somewhat annoying; the lack of attention was just bringing home the fact that Leon still had no idea what the stranger's name was.
"You're not going to tell me yours?"
"My what?" The teen barely glanced up from the book on his lap.
"Name. You've gotten mine."
"And you're asking to know my name now?"
Leon felt his eyes twitch a little, and he flipped to the next page of his book, bending down to continue reading. "No. I'm not interested." He anticipated a witty comeback, a snarky reply, or maybe even a hissy fit. His younger sister, Yuffie, always did various combinations of the aforementioned three reactions whenever she thought Leon was being anti-social or if he treated her to a nice course of sarcasm. He was a little surprised when the blond teen merely shrugged before offering him a soft smile.
That phrase was spoken so lightly it threw Leon slightly off-balance. He turned back to his book, and after a short while, when he felt the other's gaze leaving him, he started to hear the sounds of crisp pages being turned.
Lapsing into silence, the two students delved into their own reading experiences, both aware of the other's presence but never making another attempt to interact for the rest of the afternoon.
It irked him sometimes.
The warmth exuded by the body beside his own didn't help make occasional harsh blast of the air-conditioning more bearable; the slight caving in of the seat because of the extra weight made the couch feel lower and even disrupted his balance sometimes; and the sound of the pages flipping and books slamming shut grated on his nerves like nails on a chalkboard.
But somehow, Leon couldn't find it in his heart to actually mind the intruder's presence.
Maybe he had, one way or another, gotten used to it.
Or maybe he had even started to warm up to the idea of having another person with him on his favourite couch.
It did seem to be that way, especially when Leon realized that his light grumbles had died down after the fifth day, his sighs stopped after another week, his eyes started seeking out the other's arrival after yet another week, and he begun tapping on his watch and talk about punctuality when the other arrived late.
Of course, his suspicions were pretty much confirmed when on one particularly lazy afternoon, Leon stopped reading altogether upon spotting a rather careless mistake in the blond's homework. Cloud –Leon finally got his name on the fifth day they met, after he finally admitted out loud that yes, he wanted to know the blond's name- continued to visit the library almost daily even after he had finished that red-spot book, claiming that the library was actually a pretty nice place to hang out because of the air-conditioning. Instead of reading, however, Cloud had taken to completing some of his class assignments while he lounged on Leon's favourite library couch.
This new habit of Cloud's became stupendously apparent after Leon spotted and corrected a rather careless mistake in his assignment. It was almost as if Leon suddenly became Cloud's private tutor after that incident, something he grumbled quite a bit about until he discovered that Cloud was amazingly good in mathematics, Leon's weakest subject. Even the one academic year that separated them did not hinder Cloud's aptitude, something that shone through like a beacon of light through the mist.
Soon, their afternoons in the library were spent helping one another with their respective weak subjects, something that Cloud was exceptionally pleased with and it showed in his results.
Leon just remarked that he helped Cloud only because it was mutually-benefiting.
Cloud smiled simply and said, "Of course."
The fact that Leon no longer seemed to resent or even mind Cloud's presence was further validated when he found himself covering up for Cloud during the few occasions where a girl came around looking for him. Tifa – she did say her name was Tifa, right? – was a girl in Cloud's class and his childhood friend, he heard, and one of the few girls whose friendships Cloud treasured too much to cause her any agitation. And there would be plenty of that if she thought he was lazing around the library to take advantage of the nice couch and air-conditioning, which of course Cloud was quick to deny.
Ha! Leon thought that was a lame excuse for being scared of Tifa, though there was good reason to: the girl, despite her young age, had an instructor's license for karate.
So it wasn't all that surprising that Cloud had a built-in Tifa radar that prompted him to duck into wherever was convenient the moment he sensed her coming.
And Leon would somehow, one way or another, feel obliged to help him cover up his tracks.
The first time Tifa came stomping, reminding Leon of an angry mother looking for her wayward child, he claimed that the only person he knew who sported spiky hairdos was the resident pyromaniac in the next class. No one could ever miss that crown of flaming-red hair, he said, and compared to that, blond spikes were just so bland he never bothered looking out for any.
The second time Tifa came around, a few days later, Leon engaged her in an engrossing conversation that involved the Dewey decimal system and their school librarians' inability to keep to it much because of all the inconsiderate students who enjoyed chucking books here and there. While Tifa was trying to be polite and tell Leon she wasn't interested in knowing how the system worked, Cloud very discreetly snuck out of the library.
The third time, Leon just directed her to the basement, where he alleged he had seen a boy with blond spikes making out with the resident pyromaniac. Tifa was gone in a trail of dust before Leon could even think of telling her that the boy's hair was sandy-blond, not golden-blond. Vaguely, he thought he heard Tifa screeching and promising to take her childhood friend to the psychiatrist as soon as possible.
Leon cleverly left the library before she came back for his blood. Cloud very cleverly trailed after him and left the library as well, even as he was trying and failing to suppress his chuckles.
They eventually ended up in a coffee house nearby, sipping horrible, horrible coffee and eating overly sweet donuts. As Leon frowned at the horrible coffee –and wondering why the hell he was drinking it even if Cloud had ordered it for him- he offhandedly asked the blond why he kept avoiding Tifa.
"She would crack my skull, take my brains apart and put it under a microscope to find out why I keep hanging around the library. No matter what I do or say, she'll never believe it's because the library's a great place to read and do my assignments," Cloud replied, shrugging. Then, as though he had seen something flash across in Leon's eyes, he grinned and added, "Of course, there's that amazing couch there too. And let's not forget your great companionship."
Leon snorted, ignoring both the little bit of satisfaction welling up within him and also the urge to say rather smugly, "But of course." Instead, he merely shrugged and said that the only reason why he let Cloud sit on his favourite couch was because Cloud could help him with his mathematics.
"Of course." Cloud's voice was light and teasing, but it was the beautiful glint in those baby blues that told Leon, in no uncertain terms, that he was doomed for life.
…How dare Cloud not visit the library for three days in a row!?
Cloud's side of the couch was already feeling the ill effects of no human presence that it had positively wilted, slumping more than usual. Not just that, but the air-conditioner was also blasting extra hard on him, almost as though it was reprimanding him for Cloud's absence. And the librarians kept walking by and asking him if he'd had a lover's spat with the sweet little blond. The head librarian even came over personally and gave him a sincere lecture about overlooking minor arguments and making up with one's boyfriend, all the while wearing a look that reminded Leon of how his mother used to look to him when he stole a chocolate chip cookie from his sister's secret stash.
"Bad boy," she would say as she tapped his forehead, a frown marring her otherwise beautiful features.
But Leon hadn't stolen his sister's cookie this time! In fact, he wasn't even sure when the last time he had even eaten a cookie was! So why was everyone –and everything- pointing fingers at him?
Leon could just plead innocence while shaking the metal bars of his jail cell. Or he could punch a wall.
Sighing, he pushed himself off the library couch and headed for home. Somehow, the couch didn't feel as inviting as it did before, and all the librarians' jokes about his supposed spat with Cloud were driving him nuts. It was time to fix the situation, starting by getting the blond's telephone number from his neighbour Aeris, who just so coincidentally happened to be Cloud's classmate and class representative.
As he exited the library –amidst some yells about swallowing useless male pride and just apologize to his 'boyfriend' from the librarians at the counter- Leon grumbled inwardly to himself that he was just finding out the blond's number so he could call him. Not that he actually wanted that string of otherwise useless number. And ringing up the blond was just so he could get those librarians off his back.
No other reason.
Vaguely, Leon thought he could hear Cloud's smiling voice echo through his head.
"… Leon?" Sniffle. Cough. Sniffle. Cough cough.
So Aeris wasn't kidding when she said Cloud had been taken down by a serious bout of flu. Must be the library's air-conditioner. Damn machine. He would have to talk to the head librarian tomorrow.
"… Leon, are you still there?" Hack. Sniffle.
"…Of course I'm still here."
"Why are you calling? Is anything wrong?"
Of course something was wrong! The blond hadn't been to the library for three days already! Their couch was crying for his return! The air-conditioner was reprimanding Leon for his absence! And the librarians were worrying over him! How could the blond even think that nothing was wrong?
But none of those came out of his mouth. Instead, he found himself snorting defensively.
"I'm… I'm only calling because it's strange to sit on that couch alone now. And the librarians keep asking me where you are. It's not because I miss you or anything, alright!?"
There was a moment of awkward silence over the line, disturbed only by the shrill cries for help by the pen currently being wrung dry of its ink by Leon's fist. Once the pen was deemed a martyr by the rest of the stationery, the little notepad by the telephone was the next to go in crumbled messes. The fourth sheet of paper heaved a sigh of relief when Leon's hands stopped the torture on poor innocent stationery, a sure indication that the person on the line had just spoken.
"Of course." The dazzling smile was so vivid in Cloud's voice Leon found the image imprinted onto his mind. A pure, sparkling, dazzling smile that almost compelled Leon's lips to curl up in the corner.
"So, so are you coming back to school tomorrow?" The fourth sheet of paper in the little notepad screamed in horror as Leon's hand descended upon it. Before long, the wastepaper basket welcomed its latest guest.
Another sniffle wrecked the phone line. "I don't think so…"
And so the fifth sheet of paper joined its siblings in the wastepaper basket in a blaze of glory as confetti.
"I mean, I want to go back already –I've missed so many classes- but my mum wouldn't hear any of it. Said I'm not supposed to get out of my bed even, much less get out of the house. So I guess I'll probably get back only next week."
"I, I see." The telephone in Leon's grip starting choking and sputtering under the pressure, wailing for help to save itself and the multitude of electronic circuits and wires within its body. The surviving notepad wiped the sweat off its forehead, sparing a bit of time to say a little prayer for the poor telephone.
A heartfelt chuckle traveled over the line, sending a delightfully sinful tremble down Leon's spine. "Oh, is that disappointment I hear in your voice? Leon, you miss me, don't you?"
Leon snapped, albeit a stammering mess. "Of, of course not! It's… It's just that the librarians keep hounding after me because you're absent!"
Cloud just chuckled again. "But of course. I understand." Suddenly, there was the sound of feet shuffling and yells over the line, and Cloud quickly hang up, saying that his mother would kill him if she found him out of bed. Before he hung up, however, Cloud left with a promise to see him on Monday.
The sixth sheet of paper was vandalized with a number of 'Monday's within the next few seconds, though it was saved from meeting its end in the wastepaper basket as Leon strolled off.
Unfortunately, Leon's mother came in soon after to tidy up her son's room, and upon seeing the doodled sheet of paper, she sighed and just threw it away.
Monday dawned bright and clear, much like how Leon's mood was like, though he would kill anybody who dared to even hint it. That was why despite how curious his classmates were about why the brunet came into class that day in extremely bright spirits, they just spared him a glance and quickly turned back to gossiping amongst themselves. Not one person even brought up the issue the entire day, simply because they all pretty much valued their lives. Some of the more observant ones were also clever enough to not mention how Leon's steps had a certain bounce to it when classes were over for the day and he took off for the library.
On the other hand, the librarians were puzzled to no ends when instead of waving off their suggestions of apologizing to the pretty blond, Leon had thrown them a smirk before marching off to his favourite corner. They got an answer of sorts when minutes later, a certain pretty blond pushed through the library gates and headed off in the same direction.
It was absurd.
Why couldn't he even pay attention when he was just pretending to read? Just where was that blond? He'd said Monday, hadn't he?
Leon felt his eyebrow twitch violently, oblivious to how the book in his white-knuckled fists was begging for mercy. Vaguely, he shot a glance to the empty seat on his right. He'd have to call the blond again tonight. Seriously, what sort of flu bug could confine a teenager to bed for almost a week? There couldn't have been sudden complications over the weekend, could there?
He was so engrossed in listing out all the possibilities that he completely missed the footsteps coming his way. His head shot up, however, when he felt a depression in the couch.
The blond, despite his pallor, still offered a megawatt dazzling smile. In fact, perhaps the paleness only accentuated his frail beauty, evoking an overwhelming sense of protectiveness that very nearly engulfed Leon. That was what Leon kept telling himself when he shrugged off his leather jacket and wrapped it around Cloud's smaller frame. Ignoring those wide blue eyes and slackened jaw, he adjusted the jacket until it was hanging just nicely off Cloud's shoulders.
In his defense, he merely mumbled, "It's not because I'm worried for you, okay? I just don't want you to get sick again and pass what you have to everyone."
Cloud blinked at him for a moment more before dissolving into bouts of chuckles. Putting a hand over Leon's that was still lingering on the jacket, he said, "Of course. You don't really do things just to show you're a nice person, do you? I mean, you always –and I do mean in all the time I've known you- do things only for a practical reason. That's good. The world could use a few more practical people like you, hmm?"
Leon's lips twitched.
"Oh man, this is one great jacket. It's really warm, and not to mention soft. Where did you get it? I'd love to get one for myself too, and-!" Cloud was forced to swallow the rest of his words when Leon suddenly lunged in to press their lips together, those arms wounding around Cloud's body to keep him in place. It was warm; it was chaste; it was so sweet, and the soft peck was as light as a dragonfly dipping the water in quick, successive staccatos. Yet, the ripples caused from the swift, light dipping was not so quick to dissipate.
Though short, the peck sent a tingle through their bodies, resonating with each other's until the urge to lean in again became so difficult to ignore.
Though swift, the peck opened a new avenue of emotions, flooding their hearts with something so pure they yearned for more.
And though light, the kiss conveyed more passion than any deep kisses ever could.
Cloud stared at Leon.
The brunet started stammering, "You, you were being noisy. I'm just… I'm just helping out the librarians to keep the noise level down."
After a moment of blinking, the megawatt dazzling smile returned to Cloud, gracing his lips in the way that drove Leon absolutely crazy.
"Of course," he replied, voice soft and demure.
Leon hid the deep blush that had stolen onto his face by bowing his head, flipping his book open and trying to read again. His free hand, however, was not content with being the nice boy, and it shot out in a flash to grab Cloud's arm, pulling Cloud closer until their bodies were pressed heatedly against one another's. Without looking up from his book, Leon added, "And this is just to share body warmth, just so you won't get a cold again. Sharing body heat is a simple but effective way to keep warm."
His blush deepened when Cloud chuckled.
"Of course. Whatever you say."
And then Cloud rested his head on Leon's shoulder, sighing softly. He smiled wider at the tightening grip on his body, and he snuggled closer.
They spent the rest of the afternoon spooned up together.
And so years later, Leon would ask Cloud to move in with him, but he would claim it's just much more economical than living alone. It isn't like he wants to see Cloud every single minute of his life, obviously.
Cloud would just smile sweetly, give a nod, and reply with his favourite phrase, the one that would also serve him well when Leon's eyes home into a certain couch in the furniture shop, almost an exact replica of the couch in their library years ago. Cloud would smile just as sweetly when Leon claims that he wants to buy the couch because it's comfortable, not because it brings up good memories from their early years together.
And he would always, always, say the one sentence that Leon would eventually identify as an endearment between them.
A/N: This is the one-shot I was talking about in my other fic 'Vanilla'. Thanx so much for the overwhelming support! All the motivation that came from reading the reviews made me finally finish this fic up!
Please review if you enjoyed this fic! And Merry Xmas everyone!