Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the films Storm Riders or Storm Warriors, and I'm not making any money from this fic
Summary: Cloud survives his fall off the cliff, and Wind needs his help to get rid of his guilt and the last traces of evil
Warning(s): Spanking; spoilers for the films Storm Riders and Warriors; mentions of violence
When he leaped off the cliff after Wind and Second Dream, Cloud fully expected to die.
He didn't want to die... but he'd reacted with all their years of friendship and brotherhood behind him. If Wind died while he lived, Cloud was sure he'd never be able to get past it and let his brother go. But Wind was stronger. He'd grieve, of course; but he'd eventually move on. He still had Second Dream to help him.
And Cloud wouldn't have anyone.
When Cloud hit the water, the shock of the freezing cold was intense enough to cause him to momentarily lose consciousness. He came awake with a sharp gasp – inhaling a large amount of water – and started kicking his legs, trying to push himself to the surface. The trouble was, he wasn't sure he knew which direction was up. His head swam, and he felt himself begin to grow limp. He didn't have the strength to try and fight his way to the surface any longer.
The next thing Cloud knew, someone – or something – grabbed his shoulder in a tight, painful grip. He was pulled in a direction he guessed was probably up, and when his head broke the surface of the water, he began coughing and spluttering.
Cloud's eyes were streaming, so he still couldn't see who had just saved him, even as he was pulled towards what he knew was the shore. Once on dry land, he was forced down onto his stomach, while someone leaned on his back.
Seawater and bile poured out of Cloud's mouth, joining the water still streaming from his eyes. He began coughing once more, keeping his head tilted up so that he didn't suffocate. The person kept pushing on his back, and Cloud didn't fight until the water stopped coming out and his back ached. Then, he pulled away and stumbled to his feet, wiping at his eyes. "Enough!"
"Cloud... Why?" It was Wind who spoke, his voice soft and filled with pain. "You should have killed me... I told you to kill me."
Cloud said nothing, even as his eyes moved around, searching for any sign of Second Dream – though she didn't seem to be nearby. He looked back at Wind, his eyes going to his friend's forehead. There was a tiny drop of blood there – but otherwise, no sign of the evil that had once twisted Wind's features.
"I left her on the cliff. I wanted to save you... if I could." Wind took a step closer to Cloud.
Unable to help himself, Cloud took a step back. He knew that Wind had returned to normal; but a small part of him was still concerned. He'd fought against his brother harder than he'd ever before, and it was difficult to remember now that Wind wasn't evil any longer.
Seeming to recognise Cloud's inner turmoil, Wind stayed where he was. His sword was no longer sheathed by his waist, and water dripped from his hair and chin. "I am sorry," he said softly; sincerely. "It means nothing, I know..."
Cloud lowered his head, remembering Wind killing Chu Chu. She was the second woman to die in front of him; the second he'd been unable to save. But he couldn't blame Wind, even though that might have made it easier. He hadn't wanted to kill his brother. Even at the last, he'd closed his eyes, not wanting to see when his sword struck. But he couldn't find the words to tell Wind that he didn't blame him. He didn't know how to give his friend what he needed.
"Will you speak, Cloud?" Wind asked softly. "Even if you say the harshest words you can to me, I will not blame you. I deserve your anger."
Cloud slowly shook his head, finally looking up at Wind. "I am not angry with you, my brother."
"Why?" Wind asked quietly. "You should be. I could have killed you. I attacked you..." His voice trembled slightly, and he closed his eyes.
"But I am not dead." Cloud wasn't sure how to comfort Wind. He took a hesitant step forward, and – when Wind didn't move or open his eyes – moved even closer. "You asked me to kill you. I did not want to... but if my last attempt to free you had failed, I would have struck you down." Despite his words, Cloud knew that he would have found that nearly impossible to do; and he suspected Wind knew that, too.
"You only live because of your skills as a fighter. I killed an innocent, the one thing I never wanted to do. No punishment could be too great."
Something in Wind's voice caught Cloud's attention. He studied his brother's face, wondering if Wind felt that he deserved punishment. Would that help? "I will not kill you," he said quietly, wanting Wind to understand that.
"If you could not kill me when I was evil, then how can I expect you to kill me now that I have returned to good?" Wind's voice was filled with quiet anguish. "I will leave. I will go to one of the temples, and stay there, seeking forgiveness for the life I have taken and the evil I have done. There is nothing else I can do."
"But there is something I can do – for you." Cloud spoke without conscious thought. "We are brothers. Do you remember when we were young? If we disobeyed Lord Conqueror – or didn't follow his orders – we were punished." He wasn't sure that what he was about to suggest was the right thing to do, but it was the only thing he could think of that might help. "Would it help now? To take some of the guilt, and remove the last traces of evil?" Nothing could take away the guilt entirely – but Wind didn't need to stay isolated from everyone.
Wind opened his eyes, and Cloud could see the desperate need on his face. "Would you do that... for me?" he asked quietly.
Cloud nodded, looking around the beach. The thought of punishing Wind was one that he'd never had before; but it seemed like his brother needed it. Cloud wasn't entirely sure of what to do, but he remembered his own experiences of the punishment, and decided that that he should use those. He spotted a big enough rock, walked over to it, and sat down. It wasn't very comfortable; but it would have to do.
Hesitantly, Wind walked over to Cloud. He started to bend over his brother's knee, but Cloud put a hand on his arm and shook his head. For a few moments, they locked eyes. Then, Wind looked away as he pushed his trousers down and leaned over Cloud's lap. This time, Cloud didn't stop him.
Cloud slowly placed his hand on Wind's back. He allowed himself a few moments to think this punishment through. It needed to be hard. It needed to be severe enough so that Wind would feel properly punished – although it would still take a while for the guilt to go away and for him to truly forgive himself.
Cloud lifted his hand, and brought it down in a hard smack. If Wind hadn't been lying over his knees, Cloud wouldn't have felt the slight jerk in his brother's body.
The first smack didn't leave much of a mark. Cloud didn't give himself much of a chance to contemplate that, though, as he continued to bring his hand down hard. The sound of the punishment echoed around them, but Wind just lay across his lap without reacting.
If Cloud chose to continue like this, it was possible that he would have eventually broken Wind. His hand was hurting, and he knew that Wind's bottom was. But just using his hand wasn't going to be severe enough. He paused, and rested his hand on Wind's back once more.
Wind slowly turned his head to look at Cloud. There were tears in his eyes, and a few had escaped to fall down his cheeks. But it wasn't enough – and Wind must have known that, because he slowly pushed himself up off Cloud's lap.
Cloud stood up from the rock, and his hands went to his sword belt. As he unlaced it, Wind leaned over, bracing his hands on the smooth stone.
Wind's behind didn't show much evidence of the punishment he'd just received, but Cloud intended to change that. Resting his hand on his brother's back, Cloud folded the belt over in his hand – and lashed it down hard. He was rewarded with a grunt, and kept on going – bringing the belt down much harder.
It was after the tenth strike that it became clear Wind was close to losing control. A huge gust of wind hit Cloud and violently pushed him back, causing him to drop the belt and lose his balance, almost falling to the ground as he stumbled.
Slowly, Wind pushed himself up from the rock. There were more tears on his face as he and Cloud locked eyes. Then, with a sound that might have been a groan, Wind slowly bent over the rock again; and the wind died down as if it had never been.
After picking up the belt again, Cloud approached his brother slowly. Once more, he rested his hand on Wind's back, and began to bring the belt down hard, raising welts where each blow landed. After another half a dozen, Cloud heard Wind's breath hitch in sobs. He changed his aim to the as-yet-untouched thighs, and heard the sobs grow in intensity. Still, he kept landing the belt – until Wind was crying without pause, and it was difficult to make out the individual welts on his bottom.
Cloud let the belt fall to the ground, unsure of what to do now; not knowing what words of comfort to give. "You came back," he said at last. "You can make amends for the life you took."
Slowly, Wind stood up, pulling his trousers up and over his bottom once more. Hesitantly, Cloud held out a hand – and was relieved when Wind took it. But he didn't know how to react when Wind used his grip on Cloud's hand to pull him into a tight embrace.