A/N: It sort of feels like the end of an era now. I mean, Heart Under Siege is finally finished (thus making it the first M-rated story that I have finished, and the first Kingdom Hearts fanfiction that I have completed (if you don't include oneshots)). I have mixed feelings really. On the one hand, I'm glad its over, because it now means I can go on to concentrate on other material (I mean, I know that I still have to write another chapter for On the Way to a Smile, not to mention continue writing for the new follow-up to this). But on the other, I'm really quite sad to say goodbye to it. For the best part of two years, the HUS universe has been my entire life when I wasn't busy in reality. It's kept me awake at night, it's made me scream in frustration, it's made me proud of who I am. In a sense, it kind of became my baby.

OK, cue procrastination from actually wanting to upload this chapter onto the internet. Let's talk about it! Well, I guess I can let on a few things. Yes, HUS was based upon viking to medieval history, with other cultures thrown into the mix as well, but the initial plan was for the events to act as a basis for a fairytale that would be re-told many years along the line (in fact, HUS actually was going to get a sequel set in the Modern times, but I ended up discarding it because I thought it was becoming way too much like the National Treasure films, Sahara and Fool's Gold). To be exact, HUS was going to be the basis of that universe's version of Beauty and the Beast (Cloud being the Beauty, Leon being the Beast). Of course, the idea fell through, and I'm actually glad that it did fall through. HUS would have been a very different story if it didn't. I also wish I did more for Demyx and Zexion, but maybe they'll get their own tale further down the line. Who knows really?

Then there's the follow-up story to HUS. I'm sure you guys all want to know what it is...but I'll let you find out in this chapter. All I can say is, keep an eye out for the rather cheesily titled Ever After in the next coming days (of which I will be editing the chapters I've done within an inch of their lives). All I can say with that story is...I pray to god that I'm not flaying a dead horse with the idea I used.

OK...um...I know I really shouldn't bore you guys with this author's note. I'd like thank everyone who has read HUS, reviewed it, favourited it or just put it on their story alerts. I would type up the list of names, but I'd be here forever. Seriously...there must be over 500 people who liked this story enough to put it on alert and their favourites if you try not to double count everyone who's done both. 500 people....that seriously is a lot more than I expected at the start. I mean, back when this started, I only really expected maybe 100 at most to read this, so to get this much of a following really is an honour for me. OK...now I must start sounding like I'm accepting an Oscar or an Academy Award now...better get on with the rest.

Thanks to everyone! Please read and enjoy the final chapter of Heart Under Siege, and review please! For they are my Pink Lady Apples! (You didn't expect that one did ya?)

Epilogue. They used to say that the epilogues of stories and books meant that it was the end, and there was no continuing. I'd guess you would say that four years ago, the epilogue of Leon and Cloud's stories were finally put into action. But I'd like to think that their ending, was only the beginning of another story that was not only theirs, but it belonged to other people, to us, too. If it weren't for them both, the peace that we have managed to achieve has lasted this long between we of Hollow Bastion, of Radiant Garden and of Archadia.

So yes, I don't think their ending was the final chapter in a story. It might have been the epilogue for them, but I think it was also the prologue to this new world we find ourselves in.

Thank you, brother. Thank you, Leon. Thank you for fighting for us, and for each other.

The day seemed oddly cheerful despite the grim atmosphere that had settled upon a group of travellers, the sound of wailing women filling the air. A little bit ahead of them were the nobles and warriors that lead the way to the royal burial site, and between them and the mourners was the cart that carried two wooden boxes, the precious cargo that they protected barely making a sound inside them.

Roxas was sitting with Axel atop Flame, his whole body shaking as he fought back the tears. Axel was sitting behind him, holding the reins tightly in his hands as he urged the horse forward. He wanted to comfort the poor boy, but he knew he couldn't do it in the way he wished to do it while there were so many people about. For now, he just allowed the boy to do what he wished, making sure that their bodies were close to each other. The new young king rode alone, his faithful friend walking alongside him, solemn and silent the entire time. He looked small in the large lion skin that all rulers of Radiant Garden wore, the heavy lion-headed cross pendant swaying lightly with each move Oathkeeper made towards the Royal Tombs, trekking through moorland and rock plains, steep hills and slippery cliffs, until finally, they reached the waterfalls that homed the tombs.

It seemed strange to Sora, who had only been as far as the marker, to see the large stone rolled away as they stepped into the caverns, the sounds of echoing dripping water lost to the sound of wailing. They walked past many small alcoves, each one holding very different stone tombs. Some were large and elaborate, others were small and simple. Some had arms lying atop of them, while others had large stone gargoyles perched to the side, growling nastily at any spirit who dared try to attack or spoil their most precious treasure. Then…they finally passed his parents tomb. Edea had told him that in life, King Laguna was not one for elaborations and yet he was not going to go about dressed as a hermit. So his tomb, which he shared with his wife, was simple at best, and yet small carved columns were made on each corner of the double grave, a small inscription to ward of evil and placate possible vengeful souls etched into the lid of the tomb. He knew that the next alcove they came across…would be the last of his family's.

King Squall of House Leonhart's tomb had been hastily put together. Thoroughly plain, if it had not been for the fact that the dead king was going to be buried in it, some might rudely comment that it was a grand burial for a simple pauper. There was one decoration however, to honour his memory…and that of the young man that was going to be laid to eternal rest next to him. A large, stone statue depicting the legendary demon Fenrir stood before the tomb, looking impressive and regal as it stood watch with cold unblinking eyes. It would always guard the body of the king and the concubine for all eternity.

And now the bodies were laid to rest, Cloud's going into the tomb first, the Leon's being placed with the utmost care. The two younger brothers, standing side by side, could only watch as possessions were placed into the tomb, the young Strife clutching onto a wooden box as if it were the most precious thing in the world to him. Inside this box was the heart of his brother, which would be buried in Hollow Bastion where his body should have been buried. It had been Axel that had told Roxas and Sora what Leon had said in his last days, and it had been him that had requested of them both to at least let them be together in peace where no one could judge them.

"Sora…" Roxas started.

"Mmhm?" Sora hummed questioningly, blankly staring at the lifeless form of Leon, those cold dead hands clutching the hilt of his sword tightly.

"Are we…doing the right thing?"

Sora only nodded, knowing in his heart…this was the right thing to do. The stone lid began to slide into place, the corpses being put into shadow until finally…it was closed for good. Roxas nearly broke down into a fresh batch of tears; Sora remained steely faced, refusing to cry anymore. He had to be strong, for both of their sakes. Zexion stood forward now, lifting a knife to his palm and slitting it. With a bloodied hand, he pressed it against the stone lid, lifting it away to reveal a small stain of his blood. He quickly bandaged the wound he made, taking a huge shuddery breath to calm himself down. His eyes were red and puffy. His example was soon followed by those who had obeyed and respected the old king, marks of blood littering the tomb. Axel had been the last in this show of strength; his hand was trembling the entire time.

"Good bye," Axel murmured quietly, his hand curling up into a fist, refusing to let it be bandaged by anyone. His grief had been great. Maybe far greater than he was willing to let on.

The young leaders left once the priests began to sanctify the tomb, unable to stand much more of the funeral. For Roxas, it was because he didn't want to embarrass himself by weeping like a woman, while for Sora it was because he wanted to weep without having the eyes of many thinking him to be weak.

"I don't think I'm strong enough," Sora whispered as they made their way back to the outside world, away from this dark underworld. "I can't lead a whole kingdom on my own…"

"But you aren't alone Sora," Roxas spoke, looking over to him. "You have Edea, Kiros, Ward, Zexion, the warlords, you have Riku." He then chuckled weakly to himself, looking at the box. "And what do I have? Only a wooden box with what's left of my brother…"

"But you have Axel, and Lexaeus."

"Lexaeus was only acting as my guardian. He was loyal to a fault to your brother. I know that."

"And Axel?"

"He was loyal to your brother too…"

"He's loyal to you," Sora stated firmly. "To a fault I might add. He didn't go running back to Radiant Garden when Leon died. He stayed with you the entire time." Roxas stayed mute. They felt their clothes become slightly damp by the particles of splashing water coming from the waterfall. "How can you say you're alone when he's been by your side." The blond suddenly stopped, eyes wide in wonder. Sora looked at him perplexed. "What?"

"It's…It's…Isn't that…?"

Sora turned his view to where the other was looking…and felt his jaw go slack. Sitting there, completely composed and calm, was a young boy who looked to be a little younger than they. He wore the most elaborate clothing they had ever seen in their life; white puffed and ruffled sleeves, royal blue short-sleeved tunic above it and thigh-high boots over brown trousers. His hair hung under his jaw line, as black as an obsidian jewel. His eyes were dark, accentuating some high intellect that seemed beyond the boy's years. Behind him was a tall man who's identity was hidden by elaborate black silver armour that made him to appear as a demon rather than as a human man. Further back, there were a group of three; two men, one tall and dark, the other slightly shorter but very fair, and a woman that had silver hair, much like the Jenovas who they defeated. Roxas instantly put himself in front of Sora, trying to shield the new king from the group.

"Your highnesses," the boy greeted, standing up and bowing to them. "Please receive my condolences for your losses."

"Wait…you're…Lord Larsa!" Sora exclaimed, it finally dawning on him on why the boy looked so familiar to him.

"I guess it's now Emperor Larsa," Larsa replied solemnly. The two older boys gave him confused looks. Larsa sighed unhappily. "A few days ago, just a week after Sephiroth's defeat by the hand of your brothers, my brother Vayne was assassinated."

"Oh no," Roxas faintly whispered.

"Although I miss him, it probably was for the best," Larsa sighed again. "He was becoming very paranoid. It was a miracle that I managed to escape house arrest at all."

"But what happened to you?" Sora asked.

"The pirate Balthier very kindly helped me and Gabranth escape. He then escorted me to Dalmasca. Queen Ashelia was a very merciful woman and kind host to me. I shan't forget her kindness. So I waited it out for a while, hoping for things to calm down eventually and then I heard news of the outcome of Hollow Bastion. Her Majesty was deeply upset about what had happened, but the way her country was, she felt like she couldn't afford to send help without compromising Dalmasca to an attack from Archadia."

"We don't blame her," Sora nodded. "I understand that Dalmasca is still feeling some repercussions from war and plague."

"Gabranth then hired some mercenaries to accompany us to Radiant Garden after news of Vayne's death came to Dalmasca. He thought it would be best to reveal ourselves to you to apologise deeply for the trouble my family has caused you." Larsa got down on one knee, bowing humbly to Sora and Roxas. "I…truly am apologetic. If I had more weight to my word, I could have done something to stop this madness."

"…don't apologise," Roxas grumbled, turning away, holding the box even more tightly than ever. "Your apologies won't bring my brother back. But…maybe…we have enough power to stop war altogether."

"That's right!" Sora quipped. "If we agree now that we are no longer enemies, but friends, then no one will have to suffer so needlessly! Right?"

"I don't think it will be that easy," Larsa responded. "It's as they say in Archadia; where there is light, there will always be shadow. But maybe, we can lessen them. It might not be a world peace, but it might be enough." He lifted his hand up. "We can make it official at a later date, but I propose, for the good of Archadia, and for the good of the other kingdoms that we share this land with, a peace treaty between you of the Radiant Garden Empire and the Principality of Hollow Bastion, ad we of the Archadian Empire." He then smiled. "A truce?"

Sora's response was immediate. "A truce."

Roxas was more hesitant, looking at the box for a moment to inspire the courage he needed for such an important decision, swallowing his pride. He took Larsa's hand carefully. "A truce."

Days later, news of Vayne's demise and Larsa's coming out of hiding reached all the kingdoms. The killer remained a mystery though there were rumours of the deceased Emperor being murdered by a man clothed entirely in oriental red, with a limp arm and a scarred wizened face. A month later, Emperor Larsa Ferrinas of House Solidor signed a peace treaty with King Sora Apollo Andros of House Leonhart and Prince Roxas Lumen of House Strife.

Four years had passed since that battle at Hollow Bastion. In the years between, a shaky peace had been established between all the countries and strengthened. Sora had put all the credit on Riku for Radiant Garden's part; his ever faithful and dutiful servant, now training to become head of the household, and helped him and Zexion in the peace processes, offering his suggestions and opinions whenever he was asked. Zexion had once admitted that if they hadn't captured Riku, the seemingly sole survivor of House Jenova would have made a fearsome politician. Roxas on the hand had become an exceptionally accomplished leader once he finally came out of mourning, refusing to allow the past to make him weak. He ruled firmly but fairly, always careful not to make the same mistakes as his father. With Axel by his side encouraging him, Roxas' confidence in himself only grew. It was remarkable how much both boys had changed.

Roxas was now twenty years of age. Although he continued his training and actively sparred with his faithful knight, friend and secret lover, he was still quite small compared to the lanky, bony redhead. He was slender, slightly tanned from outdoor activities and he had allowed his hair to grow a little longer past his jaw line, though it still managed to defy gravity with its gentle waves. In the four years, he married Naminé on the advice of Zexion (though Roxas agreed to it as a slight comeback at Axel for marrying Larxene; needless to say, Axel was not amused but didn't complain). Axel hadn't changed much; he was still very much the same person, only he was older and wiser and knew to restrain himself now. That, and Axel had become to a father to a son that Roxas had found himself playing uncle to.

"Wosas!!" Roxas stopped speaking to the advisor that had been trying to tell him something about a problem at one of the farms the principality owned, smiling fondly at the small, slightly chubby four-year old that came dashing over to him, a exhausted nurse trying to keep up with the small redhead. Truly, like father like son.

"Hello Lea," Roxas greeted, bending down when the small boy skidded to a halt. "Terrorising the castle again, hmm?"

"Nursie won't let me go wiv you an' Papa," the boy pouted.

"So you decided to punish her by running away?" Roxas laughed, patting the boy on the head. "You know that you're just a bit too young to ride a horse."

"So?" Lea grumbled, crossing his arms huffily. Although Lea was much like his father, he did have a temper like his mother Larxene.

"How about you go and play with your aunt," Roxas suggested with a smile. "She might be able to get a little treat for you if you're good for her."

"But I wanna go wiv you an' Papa!" Lea scowled, though it soon changed into a yelp when he was suddenly lifted up into the air. Roxas stood up, smiling at the man that had now the small boy sitting upon his hip. Axel shook his head at his small son.

"Pestering the prince again I see," Axel chuckled, ruffling his son's red hair. Lea only pouted angrily.

"S'not fair! You an' Wosas are gonna go haf fun wivout me!"

"Now what makes you say that?" Roxas asked, ignoring the cringing by both the advisor and the nurse maid with them. Roxas had encouraged Lea to call him by his name rather than by his title while he was just a small child, knowing that eventually, when the boy got older, he would conform to the rest of the court on his own time. Living like this though gave him a sense of kinship with Axel's family.

"Becuz when you go ridin', you always haf fun!" Roxas and Axel shared a look, knowing all too well why Lea might have thought that. They did have fun…just maybe not in the same innocent way that Lea thought they were having fun.

"How about I take you hunting with us next time?" Axel offered. "It's just that we have times where we want to have some fun together on our own without anyone else."

"Being alone doesn't sound like much fun," Lea sulked. That's when Roxas leant in and whispered something into the small boy's ear, chuckling at the sudden brightness appearing in the youngster's smile. "You promise?!"

"You have my word as the prince," Roxas chuckled. "Now why don't you go bother Aunt Namine for something from the kitchens. Tell her Roxas sent you." He winked slyly at the child, who wriggled out of his father hold and began rushing off to wherever the Princess was now. The nurse maid ran after him, bowing quickly to the Prince and his knight. Axel looked down to Roxas.

"How do you do it?"

"Do what?" Roxas asked. He dismissed the advisor who had been trying to grab his attention with a very pointed, "Not now."

"Appease that little monkey. I could offer him to teach him how to wield a great sword and he still wouldn't budge."

"Can you blame him for wanting to spend as much time with you as possible?" Roxas asked. "You aren't in Aurelias for most of the year." He looked over to the redhead. "I feel guilty for monopolizing your time."

"Don't," Axel smiled, letting the back of his hand brush against Roxas' knuckles. "It was my choice to honour my vow to you in this way and leave Luxord and Larxene to run Aurelias."

"It must have been hard for you to let Larxene have some sort of power over Aurelias when Kairi married Sora," Roxas murmured. "I know she can be…well…"

"Strong-willed and stubborn. Yeah. But so am I. Why else do you think Lea's so stubborn?"

"He must get his ability to be placated by someone like me from you then," Roxas teased.

"Hmm, maybe. But…"

"But?" Roxas nearly yelped in a high pitch voice when he felt Axel's hand take his tightly. "Axel!" he hissed, "Someone might see us!"

"Relax," Axel chuckled. "I'm not going to do anything untoward for you."

"That does not exactly inspire much confidence in me…"

"Have a little more faith, your highness!" Axel laughed, letting go of his hand though his touch still lingered. "A ride in the forest then?"

"Yes," Roxas smiled. They both knew that what might appear as a simple ride on horseback between two friends to the rest of the world, to them this time was sacred as it was the only time that they could be who they really were to each other. Lovers.

In Borealis castle, a far different scene was playing out. Riku felt like things had changed immensely in the four years after they had lost the old king and Cloud. He had changed physically; although he had always been quite slight in musculature, he felt like he might have possibly put on "a bit more meat" as Tifa had put it. Only slightly though, as he figured that he had gained probably more strength in his legs than anywhere else in his frame. His hair had grown much longer too, more to the length of Yazoo's though he tied his hair back with a slim piece of leather -coloured blue- that Sora had bought for him in one of his impulsive gift buying. He had grown taller -two more inches he was proud to say- but he had reached the end of his growth spurt. He wouldn't have minded these changes, had it not been for the fact that his physical changes paled in comparison to the ones Sora had gone through.

In all his twenty-one years of life, Riku never thought he would be nearly winded by a large frame tackling him against the new king's desk. A familiar voice that had deepened in four years hollered into his ear, "Riku!"

"My liege, that is not exactly a safe greeting to make to anyone!" Riku scolded, still not believing that this was the same sickly and frail boy he had met five years ago.

Sora, now age twenty, had changed so much. He was bronzed over from the sun by his insistence at being on top of his now impeccable sword fighting skills, and his consistent need to exercise rather than work. He was taller, about two inches taller than Riku now, and because of his constant exercising he was even more strongly built and broader than ever -so much so that Riku, rather embarrassingly for him, got carried over to bed one time like some sort of bride when Sora was feeling especially…affectionate. Needless to say, after that event, Riku felt like his pride as a man had been severely wounded. And although Sora had changed so much, there were something's that were still the same. His personality was still very much intact, being as exuberant and daft as ever (even though Sora did have his moments of total maturity), and his opinions on work were still "why bother? Let's go do something more interesting!"

In other words, Sora was still the cause of the majority of Riku's and Zexion's headaches. It seemed that only Sora's new wife, Kairi, could keep up with him.

Sora pouted lightly. "But Riku, I worked extra hard just to come back early!" It was true; Sora had been in Lindblum dealing with new trade routes between the Empire, Lindblum and the newly discovered land of Spira. He should have been there for two weeks with Zexion, but Sora was a week early.

"And I suppose you expect some sort of reward from me, hmm?" Riku asked.

"Yes!" Sora exclaimed, nuzzling the silver-haired servant's neck lightly. Riku pulled away slightly.

"Wait just one second, my liege," Riku started, "before you even think about trying to get a reward out of me, why don't you tell me where Zexion is and what the result of your hard work was?" He crossed his arms. "If I find out you've left the bulk of the work to Zexion, don't expect anything from me for a month."

"You're so cold," Sora whined, trying to look adorably puppy-like. Unfortunately, Sora as a healthy man couldn't quite pull the heartbreaking look that he was able to create when he was just a child. That, and Riku had built up an immunity to it. One withering look from the servant was enough to make the king behave. "Zexion's staying in Lindblum for a while longer. We've established that we give the Spirans wool, some weaponry and leather to them in exchange for medicinal herbs, spices and this odd coloured dye…"

"Coloured dye? For clothing?"

Sora nodded. "It's an odd colour. It's sort of like…well, you know the colour roses are?"


"Yeah. Only a lot more…brighter and…well, they call it a 'hot' colour."

"My…why is it that I suspect that it will be a colour very popular with the ladies of the court?"

"Probably because it will be," Sora shrugged. "Now…about that reward…"

"Go see your wife first," Riku droned.

"Hey! That's not cherishing!"

"Who said I should be the one cherishing?" Riku asked, unable to help but smirk at the look of sheer indignant offence on Sora's face.

"Because you said that you-!" Sora never finished his sentence, because Riku very quickly placed a chaste kiss on the king's lips, a small quirk on his lips as he saw the surprised expression on the other's face. He pulled away, licking his lips.

"Welcome home, Sora," Riku said softly, smiling ever so subtly. If it had not been for the sudden entrance of advisors, Riku knew that Sora would have him in a flash. While the advisors were too busy speaking to each other, Sora quickly grabbed Riku's arm and pulled him close, whispering into his ear: "The usual place. Tonight. Please…"

"Of course," Riku smiled. "I shall be waiting, my liege."

Bliss. That could just about sum up how he felt right about now in this lazy heat. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the wind gently caressed his skin as it blew through the window, and the sound of a heartbeat against his ear sound so comforting to him after a night of such dissolute yet delicious pleasure. He looked up slightly, seeing that his honey-blond bard was sleeping soundly still, unfazed by the rest of Lindblum waking up. Zexion couldn't help but smile, leaning up and kissing Demyx gently on the lips. Although he had been heartbroken when Leon died, Demyx had immediately rushed to Radiant Garden when news of the old king's death spread across the land, staying with Zexion until the advisor found the strength to move on many months later. Demyx even put off going back to Bhujerba to just be with the petit advisor, something that Zexion had come to know for Demyx to never delay returning to his exotic home. He truly was grateful for the sacrifices Demyx had made…for his sake.

And here they were now four years on. With Riku starting to handle nearly all of Sora's paperwork these days, Zexion found himself coming to Lindblum whenever Demyx was around. And because he saw more of Demyx, he actually opened up more and even started acting very unlike himself around the bard. He had to say, there seemed to be less insults from Zexion these days. Though he still called Demyx a spoony bard occasionally.

"Are you awake, Zexion?" Demyx murmured sleepily.

"Hmm, yes," the advisor nodded. "Don't let me wake you."

Demyx sat up, wrapping an arm around the smaller man and lifting him up with him, shaking away the grogginess out of his eyes. "We need to do this more often," he yawned, bringing Zexion into his body in a search for warmth. Although it was uncomfortable at first, Zexion was growing accustomed to the cuddling.

"It all depends on how much you travel during the year," Zexion sighed. Demyx could only nod, very subtly tightening his hold.

"…I thought about staying in one place for a year or so. You know, give it a go," Demyx murmured. Zexion looked at him with a strange look. "Hey, I have to try it out before I make a decision. I might like staying in one place."

"You're not doing it because of me, are you?"

"Well, you're one of the pros of staying in Radiant Garden for a year."

"And the others?"

"Don't have to worry about where the next meal is going to come from or where I need to sleep for the night," Demyx replied honestly. "But you're the most important reason to me."

Although a part of Zexion was happy that Demyx was willing to put his wandering on hold just to see what it would be like to live in one place for a year, the other part of Zexion didn't want to be the reason that Demyx had stopped seeing the world. So he took that one brave step that he was too afraid to make whenever he felt like Demyx was drifting away from him again. "I…I thought about leaving Radiant Garden for a while."

"What?" It was Demyx's turn to look surprised.

"Well, I've only really been within the perimeters of the Empire so I feel like there is so much more that I have yet to see…so I thought, maybe if I could get permission from the king, I could leave his service for a while and travel the world…with you…" Zexion nearly yelped when Demyx suddenly brought him into a huge bear hug. "Demyx?"

"Is that what you really want? To come with me?"

"Yeah…it is."

"It might be difficult."

"I know."

"You might get sick of me sometimes."

"I know."

"There may be times when you get homesick."

"I know."

"And there will be places that won't be so accepting of our relationship like the Lindblumians."

"I know. And I don't care." Zexion could only chuckle dryly to himself. "Listen to us…anyone would think that we were eloping."

"Zexion," Demyx whispered, "we sort of are." He the pressed his lips against the advisor's before the smaller man had a chance to protest, his hand cupping the other's cheek while his hand sunk to rest upon the small of his back. Zexion, still tender, could only surrender.

He thought he could hold out, that he could make the bard bend to his will. But he realised that Demyx had had the upper hand in their relationship the entire time that they had known each other; and he didn't mind at all. Finally relinquishing his last bit of pride once he was released from the bard's kiss, Zexion whispered quietly that phrase that Demyx had told him every day through words from his mouth and on paper. "Tvaam kaamayaami…"

For Demyx, that was far more precious than any treasure he could be given. "Madarthe api."

Year 3500

Maybe he had been hallucinating, but there was something strangely familiar about his new SOLDIER partner. He put it down to maybe it being due to just how he seemed similar in colouring to his old partner Seifer, but the brunet knew that there were enough differences between a heavily trained Crusader model and a prototype model called Fenrir for both to be completely different people. That and their personalities were total worlds apart; the Crusader had been loud, proud and arrogant to the point of annoyance, but the Fenrir was quietly confident yet genuinely modest. That, and the Fenrir was like a child when ever he saw something new in this new world that lacked steel walls and tools of science that he found himself in. Seifer had been the type to shoot first, ask questions much, muchlater.

So what was it that seemed so nostalgic whenever he was around the spiky-blond haired SOLDIER? He thought it was because maybe the Fenrir had acted in a similar way to Seifer when they were alone together in the brunet's two-person apartment but he had no recollection of the Crusader ever being as close or as -he guessed- devoted as the Fenrir was. He certainly had no memory of Seifer ever trying to sneak into bed with him, or of ever waking up with the scarred blond curled up next to him. And he definitely had no memory of having to kick the Crusader out of bed every single time if he did do that.

He couldn't put his finger on it. He really, honest-to-Hyne couldn't.

"Leon, what's wrong?" The brunet looked down, looking into the Mako-infused eyes of the Fenrir model. Once again, the SOLDIER had somehow managed to get his head onto the brunet's lap while Leon was too engrossed in his own thoughts.

"Nothing. And why have you got your head in my lap again Cloud?"

"Because the TV is boring," Cloud answered with total bluntness, blinking slightly.

"And you think I'm more interesting?"




Leon sighed, not willing to get into another pointless argument with the SOLDIER. "You can be so impossible sometimes…"

"Not like you complain about it a lot," Cloud answered back. "Actually, you hardly complain at all when we-"

"You even dare try and finish that sentence, I will send you back to Hojo faster than you can count to ten."

The blond jumped off the couch at that, suddenly on his knees and burying his head into the brunet's knees, looking at him pitifully. "Don't send me back…please…" And once again, Leon had been defeated. Well, not that he ever planned on sending Cloud back to the labs anyway…

"Stop grovelling for my approval," Leon muttered, petting the blond's spiky hair. "I'm not your master."

"Then does that mean…?" The Fenrir model suddenly perked up. Leon just nodded his head.

"No funny business this time though. I swear if you put your hand down my trousers again…"

"Not in heat. I swear!" Leon chuckled a bit at the SOLDIER's eagerness. Not in heat, he said. Yeah right. He'll only believe that until Cloud actually shoved him away when he wanted to be a bit more affectionate (and even that was unlikely). Cloud slowly inched his way up, his hands very carefully resting on top of Leon's thighs. The brunet just looked at the SOLDIER, neither pushing him away or encouraging him to come closer; he knew that Cloud didn't need any encouragement on his part if he wanted something from him. "Leon," Cloud whispered. "Can I really…?"

"You're only kissing me. Nothing more than that."

"Understood." Cloud leaned up a bit more, letting his hands slide to the other's hips. Leon sighed. Yeah, now that was more than familiar. The familiarity, the strange sense of nostalgia, came over him when he felt the other's lips over his.

This was not the first time they kissed, but it was not the one that told him that they were more than just a SOLDIER and the SeeD commando that Cloud was partnered up with. He just wasn't sure how he could describe their relationship at all. Either way, he wouldn't deny that he felt a small buzz of bliss when they did this now that the initial wariness and disbelief had worn off. That taste though…that bittersweet sensation…where had he tasted it before?

He jolted when he felt Cloud's hand slide up his back under his shirt. He pulled away swiftly, yelling, "Dammit Cloud! That's far enough!"

"You're such a prude," Cloud muttered.

"I'm not going to ask where you learnt that. And I'm not a prude." He suddenly pushed the SOLDIER off him, feeling satisfaction at hearing the blond collide with the floor. "I have a SOLDIER that has the libido of a Mako-induced horny dog." Seriously, he knew there were a lot of people who had relationships with SOLDIERs, but Cloud really took the prize for biggest sex drive in and out of his canine heats. He even rivalled Axel, possibly the most notorious playboy in Radiant Garden's capitol city's SeeD base. The main difference was that Cloud seemed incredibly hung up over Leon while Axel had a different skirt to chase every week.

He looked down, shaking his head when he saw the patented 'kicked dog' look on Cloud's face. "Fine, fine. Come here." The blond perked up again, clambering up onto the sofa again and letting his body rest against Leon's. It was a solemn, silent agreement between them both that Cloud wouldn't try his luck and Leon wouldn't lose his cool when the blond did touch him in an appropriate fashion.

Leon finally put the familiarity down to maybe they were just complimentary to each other personality-wise. Because for all Cloud's advances, and for all his resistance to them, Leon had never felt uncomfortable around the other. Not that he would ever tell the blond that. "Training tomorrow," Leon muttered, absently watching some mindless idiocy on the TV. "Promise you'll go easy on the cadets."

"I will."