You can't miss what you never had. You can't hurt what you can't touch. You can't touch what you can't see.
He had never had any delusions about wanting anything from the start. He was a man on his own, with heavy responsibilities on his shoulders, and a life to live. His own, to be exact. And he functioned so that other people could live their lives. It was symbiotic, he supposed, but he never cared. He lived his own life, and other people lived theirs. He was curious but never inquisitive. That was just the kind of person he was. And he thought that he was probably the only other person like that. He was usually right.
That was why, when Cloud Strife came into the picture, he was not particularly taken or repelled by the man. Cloud was just there, and he kept a reasonable and polite distance between himself and those around him. Leon appreciated it. Life went on.
He came and went as he pleased, drifting along aimlessly like a stray current in the ocean, or a wayward breeze that whispered across vast lands before licking away into nothing. In those brief instances where they would be in the same room, Leon almost felt like Cloud was nothing but a soulless shell; his existence was fragile and fleeting, a man about to die. Leon did not care to understand. He busied himself with his work.
There was a wall between Leon and the rest of the world, and occasionally someone would open the door in that wall and rouse him for the moment. That person was usually Yuffie, but Yuffie opened everyone's doors. She sometimes never even bothered knocking. They were used to it, and it felt warm somehow. So when it seemed like Yuffie was about to wrench open Cloud's door, Leon wasn't the least bit surprised. He wasn't even bothered when he saw that airy smile ghost across the other man's lips as he took her in past his wall and let her get comfortable. Leon still knew. There would never be any true understanding. Yuffie had opened his door, but the distance between them was still far greater than she would have hoped for it to be. Leon left it alone.
He lived for his work, working to live, and he was always busy, busy, busy. Sometimes he would catch sight of the Keyblade Master in his usual mischief-making, and that was when he would set things aside, air out his little wall by allowing a window to hang ajar. He saw so much of what he once been as a child in the Keyblade Master, felt a bit cheated out of it, was never resentful. In fact, watching the kid made him feel a little happy. Maybe that was why, when he saw Sora rapping fast on Cloud's door, it made him stop a while to see the awkward, almost child-like recoil. There was no pain, no disgust, no terror. Leon thought it was strange. This was Sora they were talking about. It was none of his business. Sora bounded off, the world kept spinning.
Cloud had never been on his mind before. There was never any space for Cloud Strife. Cloud was a stranger, someone Leon didn't know, so he didn't have to bother. He came to mind when they crossed paths. They never crossed paths. He never thought about the man. But now he was. And suddenly, he felt like he… was missing something.
There had never been anything for him to miss.
They don't see him trying to approach Cloud, they don't try to because they know that Leon doesn't want them to interfere. They don't try to notice how he starts to consciously hope to run into Cloud more often, not even to see him, but to speak; when they meet, it's a nod and they part. Maybe he saw something in Cloud that he had lost when Cloud Strife first made their acquaintance, but no one would know. Leon surely did not.
They don't speak, they never speak. There was nothing to say, and the void of words was a companionable silence. They were in no place special – the Postern, in fact – and they met per chance and this time they do not part. Cloud had not been going anywhere, and Leon found that his mindless wandering to Ansem's Study no longer dire or even remotely fulfilling. They do not walk away, and somehow, the void starts to feel emptier than it should.
Twilight descends and still none move. The wall between them had always been rather thick, the distance between them the furthest compared to everyone else and their warmth. Leon isn't warm. Cloud is icy cold. They stare dully at the bleak sunset that is casting a shadow over the Bastion. Night shrouds over them. The stars are sparse in the sky. More worlds are blinking out, but not tonight. Sora was doing his job well.
And then it happened.
Just a touch. Just a brush. Just a hand on his shoulder, squeezing in what could be considered an after thought of camaraderie, but it's gone as fast as it had come and now Cloud is walking away. He had only been there for sunset. His footsteps echo hollowly down the way before he is gone. No trace, no sound; nothing is left of him and his presence.
You can't hurt what you can't touch and you can't touch what you can't see. He could see Cloud, but he couldn't touch him. He couldn't know him. He was nothing Leon knew, and because of that he couldn't hurt Cloud. He doubted anything could hurt Cloud, and it made sense. Because you couldn't love what you couldn't hurt.
But as the warmth seeps away from where those fingers had curled around that part of his shirt where his collar and his neck met, he realizes that Cloud had hurt him long ago.