Oh my god, has it really been a year since I updated this? *fail* Well, again I have triumphed over NaNoWriMo, though not nearly so gloriously, and I think I've recovered now and should be able to post some new things soonish. I hope at least some of you are still with me!
Happy Birthday, Belle. *love*
Journeys is a series of 100-word drabbles (or mini-moments, if you will), completely random and unrelated except for every tenth one (the last of each chapter); this chapter's "Fate" and last chapter's "Haunted" are related to each other as well. A couple of these contain mature themes, mentions of sex, violence, etc., but nothing explicit.
Disclaimer: dood, fanfiction. Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, and the characters and universes therein are the property of Disney and Square Enix. I receive no remuneration for this work; it is a parody and as such utilizes the Fair Use clause of the Copyright Act.
He sees him in waking dreams. His face haunts him, his cheerful voice haunts him, their tangled fate haunts him, and it's only when dusk's about to break that his obsession shifts from black hair and a warm, sweet smile into blue eyes and brown hair and solemn grace and the weight of more than just this world on his shoulders.
Every morning he wakes up to that beautiful gaze, and every morning he tells himself he'd want him to move on, but he's never quite able to reveal the reason he's not free to give his broken heart away.
Gone was the shy confidence, the bright smile, the innocence shining in those blue, blue eyes. No longer was Cloud the quiet boy Leon—Squall—had known, the best friend who always had his back and laughed and fought and grew up with him.
No, the man staring at him now was not his Cloud. This Cloud was broken, jaded, hardened by things he'd endured in the nine long years he'd been gone, things Leon couldn't even fathom.
But he was not the only one so affected by time. The sliver of sadness surfacing in Cloud's eyes was evidence enough.
No matter how long Cloud stood under scalding water or how roughly he scrubbed at his skin, he was never free of the darkness. It clung to him, seeped through his pores from the inside, and it was all he could ever smell, all he could taste, all he knew. It subsided around certain people, mostly the ones he was bound to from his past, but their presence hurt him so much, physically and mentally, that he couldn't bear to be too near them. He was blinded—literally—by just how far he'd fallen, that they would be so pure.
He doesn't know what Cloud is going to do next, and it's intimidating and thrilling all at once. He shifts against the restraints, blinking and then blinking again as if that would help him see through the fabric over his eyes. There's limits they both abide by, and that comforts him some, but he doesn't like to not be in control. He never has.
But this is a test of trust, and he does trust Cloud and Cloud needs to know that and believe in it wholeheartedly. If this is what it takes, then this is what he will do.
The long afternoon wears slowly into evening, the sun casting its heavy rays over two men locked in deadly combat. Sweat slides smoothly down exertion-warmed skin and makes worn leather stick to aching, tired hands, but they will not let the pattern of advance and retreat and the rhythmic clash of steel sway until the moonless pitch of darkness falls too far for them to see. Only then do they stop, yards from each other at first and then mere feet, weapons coming to rest and hands reaching out to clasp together in mutual understanding and gratitude.
Cloud couldn't help the way his cheeks warmed when the girls discovered the silver ring on his left hand and promptly began to fawn over him. He lifted shyly proud eyes to seek Leon out from across the room, and was pleased to see the man's gaze soften in that rare, subtle way he had. With all the attention safely focused on Cloud, Leon took a moment to lift his ringed hand as well, the back of it facing Cloud, and he smiled, just a little. That sight alone was enough to make Cloud put up with the endless questions.
Looking at Leon now and seeing a light in those gunmetal eyes that he's never seen before, jealousy adds its bitter weight to the tightness in his chest. It's clear that there's a history there between them. The depth of it is made even more apparent when Irvine tips his hat off and reaches over to plant it right onto Leon's head, and Leon laughs. Leon laughs. It's a strong, rich sound, heartfelt and carefree like Cloud's never heard before, and all of a sudden, more than anything, Cloud wants to be the one to make Leon laugh like that.
It's quiet in the house they built in Radiant Garden what seems like forever ago. The night's unseasonably warm, and there's no movement except the sigh of curtains and the path Cloud's palm follows from Leon's shoulder to his wrist and back again.
Finally Leon sighs too, softer than the curtains. On their next pass, he catches Cloud's fingers in his own.
"Let me go."
The words contradict the valiant way he tries to hold on. Cloud's mouth sets into a heartbroken line.
"I can't." They've had years to prepare, but time doesn't make the inevitable any easier. "I won't."
The wind thunders violently against the walls of their home, trembling into the very floorboards. More than once Cloud wonders if it has the strength to tear down the structure completely. He lays silently on his side, very much awake, wide-open eyes fixed on the window as if it might shatter at any moment.
"Not one for wind storms, are you?"
He starts, having thought Leon to be asleep despite the din outside. A warm, heavy hand comes to rest on his side in comfort and question; in response he only settles back a little further into his lover's arms.
"Why?" Cloud demanded weakly, staring at the object in his palm and then staring at Leon. "Why me? Why couldn't it have been Aerith, or Tifa, or someone who deserves—"
"But you do, Cloud," Leon interrupted softly, solemnly. "And...it couldn't have been Aerith or Tifa or anybody else. It's always been you." He closed Cloud's gloved fingers around the small wooden ring, worn and smooth from all the years spent in one pocket or another, and then took a reluctant step back. "I'm not asking for anything in return. Just..." He sighed. "I just needed you to know."