Title: Time and Time Again
Author: Sorceress Fantasia
Pairings: Leon/Cloud, mentions of Riku/Sora, mentions of Tidus/Selphie, mentions of Zack/Aeris
Warnings: AU, fluff
Word count: 2101
Disclaimer: As much as I would love to lay claim to Cloud, I'm kinda scared of Leon's gunblade. So well, I don't own Kingdom Hearts, the various Final Fantasies or any of their characters.
Note: Written for elkica for her birthday. Happy b-day, dearie! :D
Summary: Both Cloud and Leon grew up in Radiant Garden. They walked along the same road every day, attended the same schools, and even knew the same people. But somehow, they just never knew each other. Even so, it was just a matter of time.
Cloud was born in Radiant Garden.
Two days after he was born, his father left and never came back. His mother, Eleanor, raised him alone in a little house on Nibelheim Avenue, and despite his lack of a fatherly figure, Cloud had a happy if slightly rough childhood. They had little money, but Eleanor always made sure that Cloud had everything he needed and compensated for what she couldn't give him with lots of love.
Leon was born in Radiant Garden too.
A few hours after his birth, his mother died of childbirth complications. Thanks to a bunch of good buddies, Laguna, his father, didn't have to raise him alone. With as much determination as they'd had when they'd still been soldiers, Laguna and his buddies learned to make baby formula and even change Leon's diapers. Despite - or probably because - having three fatherly figures, Leon had a bumpy start to life. The various noises, including the crash of porcelain plates, the indignant screech at the insanely hot bath water and the wail of the smoke alarm in the kitchen, did not abate in their little house on Esthar Street until Leon was five.
Cloud went to school in Midgar Elementary, which was a stone's throw away from Esthar Street.
In school, he made lots of acquaintances but only those who continued teasing Cloud about his turf of chocobo hair after the end of the first week became his close friends. Of them, Zack was the worst and never let up on the teasing until Tifa and Aeris stepped in and pointed out that he had a turf of black chocobo hair. That was when Zack described the chocobo pecking order as dictated by their hair colour at length, and they all laughed. Thanks to his bunch of good friends, Cloud had a relatively smooth school life that was only occasionally marred by his less than stellar grades. But all of them made it through to the nearest junior high, Midgar Junior High, with little problems.
Leon attended Balamb Elementary, which was a ten-minute walk from Nibelhelm Avenue.
After surviving the combined clumsiness of his dad, Uncle Ward and Uncle Kiros, Leon expected very little from school. In fact, the less people that bothered him, the better it was. He treasured the tranquility of the school library as opposed to the playground and the boisterous students who occupied the place. Even so, a few of Balamb Elementary's student population ditched the playground in exchange for the library so they could get to know the brown-haired boy better, and their perseverance eventually broke down Leon's emotional barrier. Before long, Leon was always seen with Riku, Tidus and Selphie. Even after they graduated, all of them got back together in Balamb Junior High. Their new school was right beside their old one.
Nibelhelm Avenue and Esthar Street were connected by a short but busy road named Destiny Road, and it was a road that both Cloud and Leon had to pass through every day when they walked to school. However, in spite of its name, Destiny Road did not let them meet. Cloud had a habit of walking on the right side of Destiny Road, and Leon had a habit of walking on the left. Therefore, despite them passing through Destiny Road every day, they never met. The heavy traffic on Destiny Road kept them from looking across and seeing the other too.
A few months after Cloud started his high school education in Destiny High School, Zack and Aeris finally announced that they were dating. Cloud couldn't say he was surprised; after knowing the two for so many years and seeing how they cared for each other, it would be surprising if they didn't become a couple. Tifa was elated to see her two best friends so happy together. A few more months later, just when Zack and Aeris were settling into their new relationship, Tifa broached the possibility of her and Cloud dating. It made perfect sense, somehow, so Cloud agreed. But things did not work out as well as they'd have liked so a few weeks later, they settled back into being just friends. Tifa said it was better that way, and Cloud agreed.
Leon and his friends went on to Destiny High School as well, since it was the best high school in the area and all the cool kids went to school there. Two weeks after school started, some guy named Irvine hit on Selphie and got hit by a jealous Tidus. After that, Tidus and Selphie became a well-known couple in the school. Once, over lunch, Selphie jokingly talked about how Leon and Riku should get together so the four of them could still maintain their perfect balance. Leon and Riku took a look at each other and almost lost their lunches.
Even though they studied in the same school for three years, Cloud and Leon still did not know each other. Destiny High was a large school with a large cohort, and neither Cloud nor Leon was a particularly outstanding student.
They only met each other for the first time two years after they graduated from Destiny High. It was a really odd thing too, because if the two did not meet in Destiny High, then what were the chances of them bumping into each other in Twilight University that had a bigger campus and a much more diverse student population?
But oddly enough, despite the seemingly lower chances, they did meet. Just once, in one of the seven libraries in the university, just before their final exams in their first year of study.
They were both in the library looking for a book, but Leon got to it first. The book was on a shelf that was at eye-level, so Leon wondered how he had managed to spend 20 minutes in the aisle and yet not see it. But when he pulled the book off the shelf, he thought he might have a faint idea why. There, over in the other aisle and now visible because of the missing book, was a blond who looked slightly miffed and very, very cute.
"Sorry, did you want the book?"
No one ever said that Leon was a good talker, least of all when he was with someone he was attracted to.
"No, it's alright. You can keep it."
That was the first and last time that Leon and Cloud ever saw each other in university. While Leon tried returning to the library a few times to find the blond, he never succeeded, because Cloud eventually found the book in another library with Tifa's help.
It took another two years for the wheels of fate to start moving, and fate came in the form of a new person in Radiant Garden.
Cloud was an only child, but he had a cousin named Sora who was younger than himself by two years. Although they did not meet often since Sora lived in a small town about seven hours away by car, Sora always visited his favourite (and only) aunt and cousin in Radiant Garden at least once every year and even stayed over for a week or two during summer vacation.
Leon was an only child too. He did not have any cousins either, and although it got lonely sometimes, he was glad that no one else apart from own poor unfortunate self shared Laguna's DNA. It was not something he'd wish on anybody.
Sora lived in a small town that had no reputable high schools. So the month after he graduated from junior high, he moved straight into Cloud's house to start his high school education in Cloud's alma mater. While Cloud and Eleanor both insisted that he focus on his education, Sora refused to live off their generosity and so worked in a quaint little bookstore in his spare time to earn his keep.
After the initial excitement of Sora moving into Radiant Garden, life went back to being as bland and uninspiring as it always had until Cloud and Leon's third year in university.
Riku, already in his third year in Twilight University, wanted a book for a class. After exhausting his three favourite bookstores along Dusk Street, he wandered into Shadow Lane. When his eyes landed on Destiny Bookstore, he hesitated - there was no way that the small bookstore would carry the book – but still wandered into the quaint little bookstore that Sora worked at and promptly forgot about the book.
From then on, Cloud heard stories about Sora's admirer almost on a daily basis. Some days, it was how Riku would pop into the bookstore with Sora's favourite latte. Other days, it was how Sora felt his face warm up when Riku smiled at him brighter than usual. Zack and Aeris teased Sora occasionally when they came home from Midgar University, but they usually left the task to Tifa and Cloud.
Leon heard a lot about Sora too. It was difficult not to, because Riku couldn't stop going on and on about him. The only reason Riku would stop talking his ear off about his boyfriend was when Riku needed to leave to visit Sora at the bookstore. Or when the combined force of Tidus and Selphie forced Riku into the car so they wouldn't have to keep listening to him talk.
But even with the mutual acquaintances, Cloud and Leon still did not know each other. The thought that Sora was related to the blond he'd been searching for never occurred to Leon, so he never made any attempts to meet Sora.
Still, it was impossible to resist fate.
Cloud turned up at the bookstore that Sora worked at one day because they'd agreed to walk to a bakery and a florist nearby to get Eleanor's birthday presents after Sora's shift. It just so happened that Riku was also at the bookstore when Cloud popped in, and they smiled at each other politely. When Cloud asked (politely, of course) if Riku would like to join them, Riku (also politely, naturally) declined. Sora had told him of their plans that night, and Riku did not want to intrude, so he had already made plans to have dinner with a friend.
That friend turned out to be Leon, who walked into the bookstore ten minutes later, right before Sora's shift ended. When Sora and Riku tried to introduce them, Leon did not even look away from the blond. Sora shot Leon a knowing grin and pulled Riku along to get his bag at the other side of the bookstore.
Even after two years, Leon still wasn't good at talking.
"Me? Do I know you?"
"You look a little familiar. Were you from Destiny High?"
Leon blinked. "I was, but how did you know?"
"I was from Destiny High myself. Must have seen you around back then."
"You did? I only remember seeing you in Twilight University's Grand Library."
This time, it was Cloud's turn to be surprised. "You're also a student at Twilight University?" At Leon's nod, he chuckled, "Next thing we know, we both graduated from Midgar Junior High."
"I was from Balamb Junior High, actually. But it's already really coincidental that we're both from the same high school and university."
"That's true, but it's strange that I never saw you much. I'm not even sure if I remember you from high school or university."
"It's never too late to start to know each other. I'm Leon." He held out a hand.
Cloud took it firmly. "Cloud."
"Do you… do you think you could join me for dinner tonight?" While Leon wasn't good with words, he was never very shy.
"I'm sorry, but it's my mom's birthday tonight and Sora and I are going to celebrate it with her."
"Another day then."
A smile. "Sure."
As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. And while they would never know, Cloud and Leon had already waited all their lives. Another night made little difference.
Still, Leon was not patient enough to wait another lifetime. They had lunch together the next day, and one lunch led to dinners, movies, walks and various other things.
Cloud was not very patient himself, and he asked – no, demanded – for goodbye kisses by the end of the second week. Goodbye kisses led to other types of kisses, and then before anyone realized, they were already kissing each other good morning.
Five years later, Cloud got married to the love of his life in the classiest hotel in Radiant Garden.
So did Leon.
A/N: I'm really getting out of practice with writing fiction stories. ^_^;; These days, all I seem to be writing are reports and news articles.