A/N: I published this five months ago, thinking it would be a oneshot. But after so many requests to continue with it (and so many ideas on how to do so), I figured... why not? This, however, will probably the last chapter of the story. I always welcome requests for oneshots... they're quick and easy. For now, enjoy the second chapter of Open Doors.
"Oh, Cloud, you just missed Vincent. He just stopped by about half an hour ago."
"I know," Cloud muttered as he sat down on a stool. "He found me at the church."
"Oh," Tifa replied quietly. She knew that tone; it either meant something was up and he didn't want to talk about it, or something was up that needed to be talked about. She took one good look at the expression on Cloud's face and decided it was both.
"Where did he go?"
Tifa tipped her head. "What happened?"
Cloud shook his head. "I'm not sure," came the whispered words. Tifa blinked and set down the bottle of water she'd been holding. She pulled up the stool she kept behind the counter and met Cloud's eye level.
He shook his head again. "Just big."
"Mm," she hummed thoughtfully. "Well, I'm thinking your talk isn't over, and if Vincent knows any better – which I know he does – then he'd agree with me. Which means he can't be too far away."
Cloud shrugged. Tifa stood and placed her hands on her hipbones. "Don't give me that fake apathy." She bent over, resting her hands on her knees. "You need to go look for him. He didn't come here, and the only inn around is the Keeper Inn. There's no other place for him to go, Cloud. You know that."
"Yes sir, a Mr. Valentine signed in just this morning. Was he expecting you?" the elderly man behind the Keeper Inn front desk asked kindly. Cloud lifted his gaze from the top of the desk to meet the man's eyes.
"I think so, yes." He paused. "This morning?"
The man nodded with a smile. "Do you require a room as well, sir? Or will the two of you be sharing the original one?"
Cloud shook his head. "No, no. All I need is his room number now. I won't be staying."
The man looked at the sheet of paper again, adjusting his reading glasses as he did. "Ah, here we are. Room 271. Are you sure you won't need a key?"
Cloud pushed away from the desk and began making his way towards the stairs. "No," he said over his shoulder, "he'll know to let me in."
"Good to see you again so soon," Vincent murmured, holding the doorknob. "Come in?"
Cloud stepped forward as Vincent pulled the door open further. He heard it shut behind him, and he turned as he approached the pullout couch.
"Why didn't you stay at the Seventh Heaven?" Cloud inquired, staring at the couch. A soft rustling of fabric told him Vincent was closer behind him now.
"Why didn't you?"
The corner of Cloud's lips twitched up into a small smirk. He rubbed his gloved fingers, taking an easy, smooth breath in.
"I had to make a house call."
Vincent cocked an eyebrow. "Did you become a physician since I last saw you?"
Cloud chuckled quietly. "As a matter of fact…"
He turned, and his breath stopped short at the realization of how close Vincent had actually been, or maybe he had stepped forward at the perfect moment. Either way, they were closer than they had been in the church, and it was exactly how Cloud wanted it.
"I think I might have," he whispered with a smile. Vincent didn't stop Cloud as the younger male placed one hand on the elder's hip, the other following anon. No protest was made when Cloud pulled Vincent's body to his, the side of his face brushing gently against Vincent's.
Cloud leaned into Vincent's chest, affectionately nuzzling his ear with the tip of his nose once before placing his lips next to it.
"I had to return the favor."
There was no turning back now, and they both knew it. Cloud pulled his head back only far enough so that he could look Vincent in the eye. The older man stared back, waiting for what they both knew was coming.
Cloud moved his head forward, letting his eyelids drop so that his gaze was placed only on Vincent's lips. He pressed his forehead to Vincent's, then carefully let his lips tickle the others. He didn't apply pressure, but brushed his lips over Vincent's, as if to test him. Finally, he caught Vincent's lips with his, slightly pushing his head forward and locking into what seemed like a very long-awaited kiss. Vincent responded by tilting his head lightly, returning the motion of placing his hands on Cloud's hips.
He could feel it… Cloud could feel the desperate cling Vincent had held for so long. He was attached to hope… hooked on it like a drug. He had been waiting for this moment as long as Cloud had, but neither had expected it to be with the only person in the world that had kept the other living.
Vincent felt a chill travel down his spine as Cloud lifted a hand to brush strands of ebony hair behind his shoulder. When Cloud's simple hold of Vincent's body turned into an embrace, Vincent was enveloped in delightful warmth, and he smiled into the never-breaking kiss.
Cloud held Vincent as tightly but as gently as he could, for fear of breaking the most fragile person he knew. Vincent not only returned the embrace, but also lost himself in Cloud's, regretting and wishing that this had come sooner. How his life would have been different if it had, but fate was fate, and Vincent believed that was exactly what had brought the two standing in the hotel room together, sharing the well anticipated yet highly unexpected kiss.
Neither felt it was necessary to break apart. Neither wanted to, really. Cloud, however, had to return to the front desk. He made a phone call to Tifa, clarifying his overnight plans, and kindly explained to the man behind the desk that he had changed his mind; he'd be staying the night.
A/N: I realize this was rather short... but effective, no?
Again, if my Strifentine readers would like requests portrayed, I'd be more than happy to write for you. Writer's block is a pain, and thorough fic ideas would be more than helpful.