A/N: AU-ish. This fic takes place in a sort of combo-world that includes FF7, FF8, and Kingdom Hearts. While it's not majorly AU, expect to find discrepancies along the way. Worlds have been merged, and if you sit down to do the math you'll find that characters ages are not quite what you'd expect. This is a gift-fic for the awesome Fey and based loosely on many, many rp's. I always lean a bit more towards the original designs of characters. While this does not effect Leon or Cloud massively here, it DOES mean between the two, Cloud is older. The title 'The Reunion' is a nod to FF7, obviously, but otherwise has nothing to do with it.
I probably won't see Fey again between now and Christmas, so I'm uploading it today. Merry slightly-early Christmas, Fey!
I'll be here...
I'll be waiting...here...
I'll be waiting...for you...so...
if you come here...
You'll find me.
Chapter 1: Strangers
I've gotten used to being lied to. I think people lie as easily as they breathe, not because they don't want to be honest, but because no matter what we'd like to believe there's really no way of knowing where the future might lead. For example, I don't think, at three years old, Squall Leonheart could have ever imagined that by the time we were grown half of the world would no longer exist, least of all that tiny orphanage by the sea where we first met. When I was adopted, he told he would wait for me there until I was old enough to come back. I was eight at the time, but still a kid, and so I promised I would definitely return for him. By the time I was an adult, I already knew that neither of us would be keeping those promises. At the very least I was confident that if fate ever conspired to put us in the same place at the same time again, he'd know my name: Cloud Strife. I shouldn't have expected so much out of a toddler.
It was late spring when chasing Sephiroth's after-image landed Cloud in Radiant Garden. At first, he didn't think much about it. As a general rule he'd learned that the world is a big, confusing place over-run with all manner of monsters. He hardly paid them any mind these days--he was chasing much more personal demons. Somehow, the entire meaning of his life had come down to one thing--destroying Sephiroth. There were days he thought if he ever achieved it he would simply cease to exist. There wasn't really any past or present in Cloud's life. He didn't like to think about the past he'd left behind him or the future he might not have. Days bled into one another. Weeks, as it turned out, were nothing more than a pile of days left grouped together in a heap, and months--months were just a larger heap. Cutting through all the trivialities, the only thing that stood out in his mind was the silver-haired villain who so effectively manipulated his very existence. It wasn't an obsession, really. Cloud had determined it was just that he had no life and no motivation to get one. Hanging onto old hatred was much easier than letting the wounds heal.
It was a nice day--sunny, but with a cool breeze. If one could overlook all the heartless, Cloud figured lying back against the cool cement in the square and watching the sky while lazily drifting in and out of consciousness would be a pretty decent way to spend an afternoon, so he let his eyes drift closed. He wasn't really sleeping, but he wasn't really awake either. He was just letting thoughts pass through his mind, none in particular, when a foot connected dully with his ribs.
Cloud grunted and peered up at the features of the broad-shouldered man blocking his sun. "What?" he griped, sitting up.
Leon stared at him flatly. "So you aren't dead then. That's convenient," he replied. A bit of a weirdo though, falling asleep in the middle of the road, he decided.
Cloud rubbed his eyes. He couldn't be seeing what he thought he was seeing. Years had changed him--hell, they'd changed both of them. They weren't kids anymore, for starters. But there was no doubt in his mind who was hovering over him now. A tight knot formed in his stomach as he got up. His gaze traced the scar that marred, but somehow also enhanced, the brunette's features. He wondered if he looked half as awed as he felt to be reunited after so many years, and in such a strange way. Squall had a bag of groceries in one hand.
"Squall, I don't believe it..."
Squall's reaction wasn't what Cloud had been expecting. His expression soured. "Leon," he stated firmly, but not as if Cloud was wrong. It was more like the name 'Squall' somehow rubbed him the wrong way. 'Hyne, he's gotten so tall. Maybe I really am some kind of midget,' Cloud thought wryly. He wasn't a fool. He knew the knot in his stomach wasn't entirely nervousness at meeting an old friend again, it was at least part physical attraction--Squall, or Leon if that's what he wanted to be called, had grown up to be strikingly handsome. Bad thoughts, Cloud. Keep your mind on track.
Leon stared at the blond like he'd grown a few extra heads. "Is there something you wanted, or are you just going to stare at me all day?" He didn't catch the familiarity in Cloud's voice. He was used to being approached by people he'd never seen before who apparently knew him. And Yuffie, to this day, still insisted on calling him Squall in spite of his protests, so he figured she'd sent this guy his way.
Cloud's expression faltered. That's not what he was supposed to say. He was supposed to look confused a minute, then there would be a sign of recognition, and then Squall would declare his name in utter shock. They'd catch up, maybe over a drink or two, and laugh about how stupid they'd been as children. Amazing how quickly one can formulate an expectation only to have it completely and utterly dashed.
"I, that is..." He wanted to say 'you don't remember me?' but it felt too pathetic, so he just looked away huffily and said, "...it's nothing."
Squall looked at Cloud like he was crazy. "...whatever," he answered with a sigh. Wow, he hadn't said that in a while, come to think of it. But what else were you supposed to say to a crazy blond guy who slept in the middle of the street? He sidestepped around Cloud. "If you're going to fall asleep out in the open, try not to do it in the middle of the road next time. Someone might step on you."
Cloud watched him go. He wanted to say something that would stop Squall in his tracks, something that would by its very nature force him to instantly remember, but there was no such thing. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and frowned. As far as Squall was concerned, they were strangers. Cloud had no idea how to go about changing that.