Baptism

At three in the morning, shadows have lengthened, the city is asleep, and Cloud watches.

The water is cool around his feet, the grass is damp, and the moon casts its reflection on the water. The ripples glow. Soft cracks and pops of animals' lucid dreaming can be heard, but he finds the nighttime idling of the forest comforting. Cloud watches some more.

His wing is wrapped around him as a baby would a blanket, its normally cool darkness softened by the luminescence of night. He needs the protection tonight—not from the heartless, not from some epic foe of a battle long forgotten, but from the stirrings of his own heart. It's only been a lunar cycle, but Cloud feels like he's aged a thousand years.

Yet it's only been a month.

A month since the trembling, a month since he was touched with the most intimate of touches and covered with kisses lighter than starlight, a month since their gentle passion dissociated with the first inklings of dawn. A month. A month ago his sated, sweat-soaked body was covered in a soft sheet to await his release from Morpheus' wings; a month ago he awoke to find that the juxtapose of slow burn and crazed inferno was nothing. Meant nothing.

He shivers in the nippy breeze.

It had been strangely...cleansing, in a form. The sadness, the torment, the darkness...everything had been washed away. If only till daybreak, some screwed salvation had been obtained in a holy baptism of blood; was it now so surprising that it hurt to find out he was lost?

Still, Cloud watches.

"It was just sex, you know," a voice cuts through the sighing silence. He does not have to turn to know who it is. "Just sex. Between adults. That's all it was."

He doesn't bother to respond, but the wing hugs tighter to his skin, and he is grateful for it. The voice speaks again, this time sounding nervous and a bit remorseful, but he cannot bring himself to care.

"I didn't mean...to hurt you."

"I know," Cloud murmurs.

There is silence for a while, and footsteps shuffle anxiously. Cloud does not realize he is crying until his wing shudders at the droplets' touch. He looks to the horizon. The night has not ended.

"Cloud—"

"Go home, Leon," he responds, moving his feet around underwater and staring as the ripples form. They expand outwards until the surface calms, and then they disappear. He watches some more.

"You are upset." It wasn't a question.

"It shouldn't matter to you if I am upset or not."

"And why shouldn't it?" There is a hint of anger in the lion's voice, but the wolf is not alarmed.

"Because you do not love me," comes the quiet reply.

"Cloud, I slept with you!" The anger is mixed with frustration, and he grateful that Leon cannot see him as the tears continue to fall. "I think that means—"

"I thought you said it meant nothing."

Leon cannot argue that simple logic, and they both know it. He cannot see the emotions crossing the brunette's face but the weight of lost redemption is pressing down on him and he cannot breathe.

"Go home," Cloud repeats.

There is hesitation and then the sound of retreating footfalls as the lion obeys. And silently he mourns his reversed immersion, silently the tears will not cease falling, and silently he hopes that he can be forgiven.

The water runs red.

fin