41) honey, oil, and water. (leon, cloud) for SilverInkblot
"Merlin told them to leave Pooh's storybook alone. Now look what happened. "

"We should not be here."

Leon harrumphed, stepping around a bush that looked way too happy. Cloud followed behind skittishly, or at least as skittish as someone like Cloud could be.

"I'm serious, Leon, we need to find a way out of here."

Leon turned around, shooting the blond an annoyed look. "Will you relax? We're in a book, not a war zone."

"I'd rather be in a war zone," Cloud muttered. "I'd feel more comfortable there."

Leon rolled his eyes and declined to comment. At least he'd convinced Cloud to leave his sword behind—an incredible feat. It wasn't as if they were going to run into any Heartless here. The sight of the massive Buster sword would probably scare the book's inhabitants more than any evildoers they'd run across. Leon had left his own gunblade behind as well—hidden inside a large log they'd stumbled across in a flowery field.

Flowery field. He'd give his right arm to be back on the cobblestoned streets fighting off Heartless. In Leon's opinion, Merlin should be locking up the book tight and stowing it somewhere safe, instead of keeping it right in the open in the middle of a town riddled with Heartless.

But no one asked for Leon's opinion in regards to Merlin's fancy book.

This lack of concern led them to the situation they were in now. Cid and Merlin had been arguing, and the pilot had thrown his coffee at Merlin, who naturally ducked. The book had been splashed with half a cup of black, lukewarm coffee. Normally Leon would leave them to fix their own problem, but Cid had been called away by a sudden breakdown of the Claymores at the restoration storage site, and Merlin had expounded some nonsense about magical fields negatively reacting against each other, massive cosmic explosions, blah blah blah.

Which left the unlucky Leon and Cloud, the only ones who happened to be in the house, to go in and check up on the book's residents.

"This is one of the reasons I'm gone so often," Cloud muttered. "I could be doing something useful right now."

Leon rolled his eyes, but declined to comment. Mention the name 'Sephiroth' to Cloud and it was like talking to a brick wall. "Let's just make this fast," Leon replied. "Get in, get out."

Cloud grunted his assent. They walked for another ten minutes or so before Cloud stopped and pointed. "Look. Three points west."

Leon did. He blinked. "…Is that a bear doing yoga?"

"Sure seems like it."

The bear did look like the one on the cover with Sora—a golden yellow, with a plump belly and soft black button eyes. Leon approached slowly, with Cloud trailing behind him. Coward.

Pooh looked up, but didn't quit his weird yoga-thing. "Oh, hello, Somebody-I-Don't-Know."

"Uh… hi."

"I would be glad to talk, but I am in the middle of my stoutness exercises. Do you think, perhaps, we could visit later?"

Leon threw a glance behind him. Cloud shook his head vehemently. Take care of this NOW, he mouthed.

Grimacing, the gunblade wielder turned back to Pooh. "I'm sorry, Pooh Bear, but my friend and I need to talk to you now."

Pooh looked up, now a tad concerned. "Well, if it is an emergency, I suppose I can do my stoutness exercises in a little bit." He straightened up and began toddling away from them. "Please, come inside. I think it's about time for a small smackeral of honey."

Cloud and Leon both had to bend double to fit through the tiny door, and the chairs weren't any easier to navigate. Leon decided on sitting cross-legged next to the table. He and Cloud took up about two-thirds of the room's surface area. Maybe this is what it felt like to be a giant.

Pooh set two tiny ceramic pots in front of them and plopped into a chair. "So, Somebodies-I-Don't-Know, what do I—well, need to know?"

"Well, there was a bit of an accident—where we come from," Leon replied slowly. "And we wondered if it affected your forest here."

"Has anything unusual happened lately?" Cloud interrupted.

Pooh scrunched his eyebrows together in thought, tapping a honey-covered paw against his temple. "Think, think, think…" He suddenly brightened. "Oh! Yes! Now that you mention it, there was this big river that appeared. Different than all the other ones."

Leon suddenly felt like his day was about to get a lot longer. He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Is it brown?"

"Brownish-black. And it smells very nice."

"Has anyone tasted—well, drank from the river?"

Pooh shrugged. "Well, we all tried a little slurp, but nobody really liked how it tasted. Except Eeyore. He's been drinking it all day."

"You think we could go see him?"

"That does sound rather fun." Pooh finished off his honey and began reaching for the untouched jars in front of Cloud and Leon. "But perhaps, first, I could just have another teensy smackeral of honey? Just to keep my tummy from getting rumbly on the way…"

It was another two hours before they finally set off to meet the mysterious Eeyore. They were walking on another forest path when Pooh stopped abruptly and craned his head upward. "Oh, dear."

"What?" Leon followed his gaze. There was a large structure peeking out of the forest that appeared to be made entirely from… branches? Upon closer inspection, it looked like a spire that would top a larger tower.

"A castle?" Cloud proposed softly. Leon shrugged.

Pooh looked confused. "Oh, bother. I think Eeyore has perhaps been working a bit too hard on his house."

"Heeeeeey!" A fourth voice appeared on the scene. Sora ran in from behind them, looking out of breath. He gave Pooh an affectionate pat on the head, then turned to Leon and Cloud. "Sorry I'm late," he managed between breaths. "Aladdin's pet monkey got us into trouble again and we had to shake off some guards."

"No problem. Uh, there might be something weird happeni—"

Suddenly a grey blur zipped past the group. "Ifoundmytailhurrah!"

Leon groaned. Oh, please don't let that be…

"Oh, good!" Pooh smiled. "I was afraid that Eeyore would be tuckered out from working so hard, but he seems so chipper and energetic today!"

Leon just couldn't catch a break today.

Sora gaped. "That was… but… Eeyore?" He whirled toward Cloud and Leon. "What did you DO?"

"Not our fault!" Cloud quickly deflected blame. Leon shook his head and motioned Sora closer.

"Cid accidentally dumped some coffee on the book," he whispered, watching Pooh out of the corner of his eye. "Apparently it… made a river."

"A river," Sora repeated.

"Of coffee." Leon paused. "I think this Eeyore character might have been drinking from it," he added lamely.

Sora shot him a deadpan look. "Really. What gave it away?"

Cloud was already edging away. "I'm sure you can handle this," he said absently. "We'll just be going now."

Sora waved them away and turned to Pooh. "Alright, Pooh, let's go get Eeyore sorted out, okay?"

"Alright, Sora." The bear twisted around to wave goodbye to Leon and Cloud. "It was nice to meet you, Somebodies-I-Don't-Know!"

Leon offered a half-hearted wave back before catching up to Cloud. "Well," he said finally. "That was strange."

Cloud just shook his head. "Let's just get out of here before some… bookworm eats us or something."

That prompt has been sitting on my requests slate FOREVER. My apologies to SilverInkblot for the ridiculous amount of time it took to put it out. Hope that it was OK!

Espy continues to sporadically update as my life is crazy. Summer begins in May for me. Anyway, my story arc only has three more chapters to go! So, question: would you guys like a "teaser chapter" for the story arc, or just have me release the whole thing at once and keep it a secret til then?

Thanks for reading and reviewing! Concrit is accepted and loved.