Title: The Lion Who Does Laundry
Author: Sorceress Fantasia
Warnings: Fluff, romance, sap
Word count: 3288
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: Leon's life can be divided very cleanly into two phases: Before Cloud and After Cloud. Sometimes he wonders how he ever adjusted to all the changes dating the blond has brought into his life.
Note: This fic is made up of five separate drabble requests, which I combined into a one-shot during the writing process. Therefore, it is a good idea to read the whole fic instead of just the separate parts. This fic is written for mikan-tsuki, radicaldreamerr, shirou-ohsakura, ree and diety-of-sorrow. The prompts given were 'Laundry', 'Twine', 'Cake', 'Tailcoat' and 'Balance', respectively.
Lion (pronounced LAI-UN) – A species of big cat that is also known as the king of the savannahs, with a wild, golden mane as per its royal status. Untamable by most counts, and carnivorous by nature.
Somehow, though, this particular lion had not only been tamed, it was so whipped it could have been spread across a plate like whipped cream. Or maybe peanut butter was a much more accurate description, for not only could this lion be spread (as per its very whipped status), it was a little nutty too.
There was no other reason why Squall Leonhart, once a formidable lion, would be doing his boyfriend's laundry.
He sighed inwardly. Turning points in one's life were not uncommon, but Leon thought that his was a little weird. He was probably the one person in this world who could affix the label of turning point on their boyfriend to the extent of dividing up his life to B.C. and A.C.
Before Cloud (B.C.), he barely knew how to operate his washing machine, could only cook with the help of a microwave, and he only did the dishes when it become too difficult to slot another dirty spoon into the sink. After Cloud (A.C.), on the other hand, was marked by putting in the exact amount of washing powder for one load of clothes in the washing machine, blueberry pancakes made from scratch right down to scraping microwavable pancake mixtures off his shopping list, and a perfectly clean and shiny sink that could potentially blind anyone who walked too close.
So that explained why he was currently stuck in the laundry room, stuffing shirt after shirt inside the washing machine. He blinked when he noticed a pair of boxers with chocobo prints in his hands. Ah, so that's where Cloud's favourite boxers went. Oh, and the one with the cactuar prints. Staring at them, Leon contemplated for a minute, then rolled his eyes and threw them into the washing machine as well…
…only to have a hand reach out from behind him and dig them out again.
Leon winced inwardly even before he turned around.
Just as he had expected, his blond boyfriend was currently standing right behind him, a scowl on his face. It was strange, how even with the chocobo and cactuar boxers in his hand, the glower was still powerful enough to tell Leon that he was probably going to be banished soon to his beloved couch with only his pillows and blanket for company. And his right hand. Oh yeah, he wasn't about to forget his loyal right hand.
Leon could already hear it in his head. Silk boxers, especially Cloud's favourite boxers with the chocobo prints, should never be thrown into the washing machine. The washing machine was a monster that fed on silk, and once anything that was relatively silky went in, it never came out right. Silk boxers had to be washed by hand with the utmost care, with water that was not too warm and not too cold, and with a strength that was neither too strong nor too weak. Cloud would say all that with a glower on his face, then he'd pause for a moment, and once that short moment was up, that was when Leon was going to get banished to the couch, judging from past experiences.
He had to act quickly.
In an instant, before Cloud even had the time to yelp, Leon had his boyfriend pinned right under him on the floor of the laundry room. With his head trapped between Leon's hands, his blue eyes glinting with a strange light and his jaws slack with surprise, Cloud looked like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. Or from the way Cloud couldn't seem to recover from the shock, stadium spotlights.
Leon grabbed the chance and quickly swooped in to capture his lips, pink and full. While their mouths were happily occupied, the brunet's hands slunk down steadily, his fingers whispering across the fabric that kept Cloud's torso hidden. He cursed the rough and thick texture inwardly; though it was true that one of Cloud's favourite shirts kept him warm and looking all adorable (not something anyone would tell the blond swordsman straight to his face if one treasured one's life, however), it was much too thick for Leon to feel his boyfriend's stomach trembling under his ministrations. Oh well, that could be fixed easily. With a swift, fluid motion, his hand slipped under the shirt, and it wasted no time in touching Cloud's bare skin, careening across his firm abdomen that also happened to be Cloud's sensitive spot.
As Cloud growled in his throat and pulled Leon closer to feel the heat culminating between their bodies, the brunet let himself grin.
While the additional chores like the laundry that came with having one more person in the house were pretty irritating sometimes, at least he'd learned how to press Cloud's buttons in a good way and get the best out of everything.
And this was something Leon didn't have in his B.C. days.
Like the extra laundry load, Leon hadn't counted on how much one additional person in his bed would affect his sleeping habits.
He had always thought that he would never change, the way he lived his life each day. Wake up promptly in the morning, not taking even an extra minute to dress or wash up, and then knock himself out with the amount of work he had to do as part of the restoration committee so he'd go to the land of the dead the moment his head hit the pillow.
That didn't change all right, but only in the B.C. era. It was a completely different story once A.C. arrived.
Extra strenuous activities before sleep notwithstanding (which made him feel like the luckiest man in the world most of the time, he'd admit), Leon seriously didn't appreciate the deadweight in his arms after said activities. Who would have thought that Cloud Strife, battle-hardened warrior with a snappish countenance to anything he deemed too sweet or sappy, was a closet cuddle bug?
Leon certainly hadn't thought so.
Right up to the minute his blond boyfriend had snuggled up against him, shifting so that his ear was directly above Leon's heart and one arm was thrown across Leon's broad chest.
The first few times, once the afterglow had faded, Leon had tried to extract himself from Cloud's cuddling. Years as a soldier trained to act immediately in the face of danger, he found that it was extremely difficult to reach for his gunblade when someone was clinging onto him like a heavy blanket. Besides, nights in Radiant Garden were already warm enough; he didn't need the extra heat.
Unfortunately, Cloud refused to budge one inch, and Leon was too worn out to protest much. That, and he didn't want to antagonize his boyfriend too much and get banished to the couch again.
Then before he knew it, he had already gotten used to the late night cuddling to even want it to stop. One night on the couch (a result of his inability to recognize that Cloud's silk boxers with chocobo prints couldn't be tossed into the washing machine) was more than enough to teach him that while the nights in Radiant Garden were indeed warm, it was also impossibly chilly when one knew one's boyfriend was sleeping across the hall in their bed, alone, having kicked his recalcitrant boyfriend out earlier.
So he had gotten used to the late night cuddling.
The morning cuddling was another issue altogether.
Cloud had never, and would never, be a morning person. He was the type who'd bite the heads off anyone who dared disturb his slumber, and even someone as mischievous as Yuffie had gotten the message after having a sword pointed at her throat for trying to yank his blanket away. Aeris and Tifa were the fortunate exceptions to this rule, though that didn't necessarily mean that the blond would willingly wake up even they tried to lure him out with his favourite breakfast.
Basically, that blew Leon's original routine of waking up promptly in the morning to hell and back.
Another distinctive change Leon noticed in the A.C. era was that while he had a tooth as sweet as a bitter gourd previously, and he would rather pick up his gunblade and kill the heartless and nobodies in the Crystal Fissure than touch a piece of candy with a ten-foot pole, that all but evaporated in the face of the inevitable force that was Cloud.
Of course, as with all things involving his boyfriend, things had started innocently enough. In fact, it all started with Aeris, the resident merry homemaker and self-designated baker.
It was one of her many habits, baking a pie or a cake on some of the lazier afternoons after she was done with all her other chores. And then she would, for some reason or another, leave it on the window sill as though it were some sort of bait or lure. Perhaps it was, for the aroma of her baked goods traveled far and wide, and even stingy ol' Scrooge had offered to buy them (probably for resale). Nobody failed to notice that Cloud always got back fairly on time on those days. Sometimes, he even beat everyone else and entered the house the instant the cake touched the wooden frame of the window sill.
Aeris further encouraged this phenomenon by leaving cookies and other sweet tidbits in all the possible places that Cloud would stow his sword before he set out to work each day, reminding him subtly of the desserts that would appear on the window sill later that afternoon.
Apart from Yuffie, who had protested against the obvious show of favouritism and eventually had to be placated with a cookie stash of her own, nobody minded the arrangement much, and it kept Cloud coming back for more so they didn't have to worry about the blond suddenly disappearing again.
And then he got together with Cloud.
Nobody had ever told Leon that eating all those sweet stuff was a prerequisite to dating Cloud, as was doing his laundry (must remember to wash his silk boxers by hand) and cuddling in bed.
So three days into dating the stubborn blond, Leon had sighed and gave in, opening his mouth to allow Cloud to shove that forkful of chocolate cake into his mouth. At least Cloud liked to lick his lips every time after feeding him, as opposed to using napkins.
Just when Leon thought he had more or less gotten the hang of dating the blond (in fact, he secretly harboured the belief that he had enough material to write an instructions manual for it), the town had called for a huge party in celebration of the one year anniversary of Radiant Garden's restoration. As per his unwritten but widely acknowledged leader status, Leon was thrown into the forefront of the party, made to give a speech and attend to all the guests.
Worse still, the girls had talked their way into a tailcoat for Leon, which they believed would help him cement his leader status further. That, of course, was nothing of concern to Leon; he had never wanted to be the figurehead but things just seemed to force him into the position. Aeris was well aware of that too, for she was the one who whipped out her secret weapon and very nicely 'persuaded' Leon to just give in: no tailcoat, no pies and cakes on the window sill for a month.
It really wasn't fair, for Cloud got restless and even cantankerous whenever he had to go for a few days without his sweet treats. And Leon wasn't gearing up for another night on the couch again.
So Leon grudgingly put on his tailcoat for the night, wondering for the umpteenth time how the blond had gotten out of wearing the cumbersome clothes. Was there even anything that could stand up against the combined forces of the girls?
…Apparently, there was. Not only had Cloud managed to evade the tailcoat, he had somehow, gotten out of the 'mingling with guests' thing that Leon had to do. In fact, nobody said a thing when Cloud merely spent the celebration cooped up in a dark corner, brooding and eating his cakes and occasionally, glaring at Leon.
Leon actually hadn't noticed the glaring at first. He had expected his boyfriend to just stay on the sidelines during the party; it was not in Cloud's nature to dance and frolic around and make merry. And then a few of the townspeople started tapping Leon on the shoulder and asking, "Lover's quarrel? Didn't think you had it in you, arguing with Cloud."
The brunet at least had the decency to blush at their observations before turning around to see that yes, Cloud was indeed shooting daggers at him. Leon could already feel all the 'You're sleeping on the couch tonight' vibes.
Finally, he wandered over, where Cloud was sitting on some empty crates and devouring a slice of his apple pie.
"Cloud? You okay?"
When the blond did not respond, he knelt down on one knee to meet his eyes.
"Did you have enough of the chocolate cake? It's your favourite, isn't it? Shall I get you another slice?" Leon applauded himself mentally for being to say all that with not one regard of the little voice in his mind that was accusing him of being henpecked and utterly, utterly whipped. Like whipped cream or peanut butter.
Cloud took another vindictive bite of his pie.
"Cloud?" When his boyfriend still did not answer, Leon sighed and resigned himself to a night on the couch. "Did I do something?"
"You're wearing a penguin suit."
"You're wearing a penguin suit," Cloud repeated, his tone reminiscent of one a teacher used on her unruly and slightly dim student.
"The… The girls made me."
Cloud snorted. "It's ugly and you look weird in it. It's like it's not you anymore."
"And… that makes you mad at me?"
The sigh Leon received for his efforts made him feel a little silly. And stupid. Mustn't forget stupid.
"Mr. Diplomat, if you don't mind, please remove that penguin suit. I'd like to see my boyfriend again."
Leon blinked again, and when the implications of that softly uttered sentence registered completely in his head, he smirked. "I suppose that can be arranged," he leered, reaching out to grab Cloud's hand and lead him away from the celebrations. Cloud snorted again, a light blush dusting his cheeks, but he put up no objections and allowed himself to be pulled into their bedroom.
Needless to say, Leon did not spend that night out on the couch. And he also realized the futility of resisting all the changes the A.C. era brought into his life. Apparently, A.C. was not just marked by extra laundry (including silk boxers), cuddle bugs and the development of a sweet tooth, it also heralded the coming of a fashion consultant.
And so Leon resigned himself to adjusting to everything Cloud brought with him into his previously ordered life. Well, not that his life was chaotic now; it just had a new type of order that dictated almost everything he did. The power of A.C. was not to be messed with, after all. Leon still remembered the couch.
But sometimes, he wondered how in the world he'd managed to keep up with all that had changed, how he'd /allowed/ his life to change so much it reminded him of a total upheaval, a revolution.
In the time before Cloud, Leon had occasionally wondered, even though being buried to his eyeballs with restoring his hometown and clearing the area of heartless seemingly made marriage difficult to envision, what his life partner would be like. He didn't have a lot of choices, honestly speaking, when he was still living in Traverse Town. There weren't a lot of girls about his age, and the fact that Traverse Town was only a temporary shelter for refugees whose world had been swallowed by the darkness meant that developing a romantic relationship with any of them couldn't last.
His first potential partner was Aeris, coincidentally one of the sweetest girls he'd known, and at first glance, things seemed to look really good between them. Where he was cold and aloof, she was warm and sweet. Where he was a fighter, she was a healer. They certainly balanced each other out quite nicely, he thought.
But time came and time passed, still his feelings towards Aeris did not proceed beyond that of a good friend. Sometimes, she even felt like a younger sister, much like Yuffie (who was not even considered for a potential partner due to her age and obvious streak of mischief that drove Leon nuts on some occasions).
Then Tifa appeared in Hollow Bastion, and Leon allowed himself to assess the possibilities again. Tifa's womanly charms were certainly seductive enough, and her determined optimism evened out his occasional bout of pessimism. Sure, the woman was a tough fighter like himself, but the little imbalance was something Leon was willing to overlook.
However, his lack of a romantic feeling towards Tifa killed the potential relationship before it even started. Besides, Tifa seemed much more interested in Cloud than she was ever in him, so that sort of pulled the plug on any possible development too.
That was when Leon finally took a good look at Cloud, one of his best friends in Hollow Bastion ever since he'd turned up one day with Cid. Leon had always been aware of how beautiful Cloud was, had always known that the blond was the one who understood him best, but he'd long shot down the possibility of dating the blond. After all, they were far too alike.
He was cold and aloof. So was Cloud.
He wasn't a good conversationalist. Cloud was even worse.
He was a fierce fighter. Cloud was a fierce and battle-hardened fighter.
Too similar. There would be an obvious imbalance between the two of them, so how could things ever work out? Friendship and romantic relationships were quite different and their friendship proofed no base for comparison to a romantic one.
Then there was too much alcohol one night, and Leon, more than just three sheets to the wind, forgot all about his logical conclusion and just impulsively kissed Cloud. Who'd ever have expected the blond to respond with something that wasn't a punch, a kick or even just a hard shove?
The next morning, lying in bed with a killer headache which was only alleviated by the blond snuggling up against him, Leon decided to just scrap his well-thought out argument of imbalance. To hell with it, he'd thought. He certainly wasn't going to care about such silly issues if Cloud had chosen him.
And so Leon soon found himself admiring the coming of A.C., which sometimes made him wonder if he'd been insane that morning.
Still, silk boxers with chocobo prints, cuddling in bed, sweet stuff and no tailcoats aside, Leon would be the first to admit that life was well and dating Cloud was one of the best things that had ever happened to him. Well, life would be even better if the danger of sleeping out on the couch would just stop looming overhead like some coming thunder storm, but Leon chalked it up to one of the many risks of dating someone as volatile as the blond.
Nothing he couldn't deal with, really.
A/N: So I've finally returned to writing fics for Leon/Cloud, my OTP. Did anyone miss me when I went on to write for other pairings? And talking about other pairings, go read my Zemyx fic that was posted just a few days ago! Ahem...
Anyway, please remember to review! Reviews keep me motivated!