It was stupid really. Actually it was dumber than stupid, it was downright idiotic. The two of them had been getting alone fine all day it seemed. At least as far as Cloud could tell. He had returned home in one piece again, like always. He had been greeted unceremoniously by the brunet, as was usual. They worked beside one other for the past three days doing repairs and whatnot. So what went wrong?
Cloud was absolutely baffled by the fight that had broken out between them only an hour prior. It had started out a normal evening. Cloud had been setting out the food from yet another take-out bag and Leon was taking care of some bills. Leon had always taken care of the money situation because he was around more often and paid closer attention to the figures. Cloud had casually asked Leon to put off his operations until after dinner. For what ever reason the brunet snapped at him.
'It may not matter to you if the bills are paid on time, but I would like to keep my house.'
The conversation, or rather, the argument that ensued was lost on the blond. Either way, it ended with the food being knocked to the floor, Cloud being basically kicked out and Leon storming from the house. Cloud had stayed and cleaned up the mess, somewhat, expecting him to return and maybe shed a little light on what had just gone down. He did not.
After about an hour Cloud went to find the taller swordsman, wherever he had stormed off to. He checked the usual places first, the castle, Merlin's, the Bailey, even the canyons where he would blow off steam from time to time. Nothing. Cloud was now at a loss and had to think hard about where Leon would have disappeared to. It was late so not a lot of places were open. It was unlikely he had gone to a hotel or something, given the argument from before. Maybe…? No, it wasn't like Leon. But maybe tonight?
With nothing left to go on Cloud started off to search the local bars and taverns. All-in-all there were only three in the whole city. The first was easy enough to check. Tifa, although busy, keep an eye on most of the people who entered her bar. With a quick glance around and a word with the long haired tavern master it was made clear that Leon had not entered the bar. His search in the second bar yielded the same results. However, the third bar proved to be a surprise.
There, at the end of the long bar, was Leon sipping from a shot glass. Leon was not a social drinker, he wasn't even a drinker. Once or twice during a busy week in the sanctity of his own home maybe, but not it all the time Cloud had known him had Leon ever gone to a bar to drink. He wanted to approach the brunet, but at the same time he kind of wanted to observe this rare occurrence. He didn't know where the urge had come from, especially given the situation he was currently in, but before he knew it he was seated at a back table with a decent view of Leon.
It was rather impressive how much Leon was drinking. He was throwing them back rather easily and told the bartender to keep them coming. It was clear by his near eighth drink, though, that he was not drinking the weak stuff. It was subtle, but his hands wavered as he picked up his glass and his eyes drooped a bit. Cloud wasn't the only one who noticed it seemed as another male slid in beside the brunet. A tingle traveled up Clouds spine and his eyes locked on to the trespasser, though Leon didn't seem to notice his presence.
The man had black hair in a small ponytail and wore a simple pale shirt with jeans. Nothing special, but his body language was smooth and precise. He started chatting with Leon, who for the most part didn't really respond. Clouds fists clenched as he watched the two intently. He was sure any minute now Leon would tell him to buzz off or something, but no, Leon had turned and started talking to him! The way the guy was smirking at Leon angered Cloud greatly. The final straw was when the guy actually had the nerve to lean closer to him.
Cloud was out of his seat and making a bee line for the two in a minute. The man had his hand comfortably on Leon's shoulder by the time he reached them. Grabbing the offensive limb, Cloud yanked the arm away from the brunet.
"We're leaving." Cloud firmly informed his intoxicated partner.
"Who the hell are you?" The dark haired man asked angrily.
Now that he was closer and had less people to block his view Cloud could see the man was rather well built for his lean frame. He was also a wee bit taller than he had first guessed. Regardless, this man had been making moves on Squall, his Squall. He refused to back down and glared at the offender. Leon was either to shocked at Cloud's sudden appearance or to drunk to do more than stare.
Cloud ignored the other mans question and stepped closer to Leon in order to pull him from the bar stool. He was blocked, however, by the other male who stepped in his way.
"Back off blondie, this ones mine." He said arrogantly.
Cloud took the man by the collar and whipped him away from Leon before slugging him across the cheek. The man stumbled backwards and the floor around the two cleared as the other bar goers cheered on the beginnings of the fight. The man lunged for Cloud after regaining his footing, though it was beyond easy for Cloud to dodge. Cloud landed another hit to the mans other cheek, which sent him backwards once more. It took Cloud off guard, however, when the man tackled him to the floor a moment later. Cloud took two hits to the face before twisting around so that he was now on top and slugging the other guy.
The crowed cheered on the fight with great enthusiasm, except for Leon who was watching the scuffle with disbelief. He had never seen Cloud in a 'scuffle' before, let alone a bar fight. He couldn't take his eyes away from the sight.
Cloud lifted the man to his feet and punched him with such force he landed on the table behind him, breaking it. Getting up the man grabbed one of the broken legs of said table and swung for Cloud. The crowd backed up further now that a weapon was involved. Cloud ducked the first swing and blocked the second. The other man was stronger than he seemed and he pulled back to strike again. Cloud caught the leg and jerked it out of the others hands, tossing it to the side. After all Cloud was a fair fighter.
The man lunged non-the-less and swung for Cloud's face. Blocking the blow Cloud landed one of his own, which sent the man sprawling to the floor for the final time. The fight was interrupted by the bar keeper who stepped between the two. Cloud turned and walked to Leon, gabbed him by the arm and pulled him from the bar.
The two didn't speak as they made their way towards the house. Leon was far to blitzed to form a sentence, let alone absorb one. The brunet weaved unsteadily on his feet, but was more or less able to walk on his own. Though on occasion he had to lean on Cloud for support. Once home Cloud helped Leon stagger up the stairs and into bed. Cloud, however, stayed up later in order to deal with his battle scars from the evening.
Leon woke surprisingly early the next morning to an empty bed. It was odd for Cloud to be the first awake. Pushing the thought from his head Leon slid from the bed and proceeded to clean himself up for the day. After bathing and dressing for the day Leon made his way down stairs to officially start the day with coffee.
He was surprised to see Cloud sitting at the table, calmly reading the paper and already sipping at a cup of coffee himself. Cloud's back was to Leon so it wasn't until the brunet sat across from him that he noticed the bruising on the blonds cheek and above his eye along a split lip. Cloud didn't react to Leon's stare, but turned the page and continued the read the paper.
"Cloud." Leon said to get the blonds attention.
He made no sign that he heard, continuing the scan the paper.
"Cloud." Leon said a bit louder, though there was still no response, "Strife."
"Sorry, didn't know if I was allowed to speak in your home." Cloud said bluntly, turning the page.
Leon sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose. All this stemmed from that stupid argument from yesterday. Hell, Leon couldn't even remember most of what was said. He only knew that Cloud's absence the last few times had bothered him. It was common knowledge that Cloud left almost periodically to hunt down Sephiroth, Leon was used to it by now. And yet, the last few times it had gotten to him somehow, it made him lethargic in a way. But then when Cloud returned it made him angry too. He just jumped right back in as if he had never left.
Cloud set down the paper and stood up, not glancing at Leon as he headed for the door. He was mentally kicking himself for staying this long, he had planned to leave before the brunet even woke. Leon reached out and grabbed his arm to stop him. Cloud winced as Leon latched onto his bruised limb. The brunet lifted his hand a bit and saw the discolored splotch, frowning at the sight of it.. Every mark on Cloud right now was from the bar fight last night, the details of which were still a bit fuzzy to him.
Cloud pulled his arm away from Leon and waited for the brunet to speak. He was still in the dark about yesterdays argument and was more than ready for an explanation, seeing as he had gained his new bruises defending Leon in his drunken stupor because of it. Not to mention he was technically kicked out.
"Well?" Cloud asked expectantly.
Leon struggled to pull a sentence together in his head, but was having a hard time of it.
"If you want me to go then I'll go." Cloud said bluntly.
"I don't want you to go." Leon said quickly, "I just-"
"'You just' what?" Cloud asked.
Leon's voice caught again as he tried to form an answer, Cloud just shook his head.
"I think you said it clear enough yesterday." Cloud said, "You don't want this to be a second home. I get it."
"No, its not like that." Leon scrambled for a reply.
"Then what's it like?" Cloud pressed.
"I want it to be your only home!" Leon blurted out.
Cloud was caught off guard by that and stood speechless, his heart even skipped a beat.
"I don't want you running off all the time for weeks or months and just jumping back in like nothings changed! I shouldn't have to fight for time with you against him." Leon just couldn't stop now that he'd started, "You go running off at the smallest sign of him!"
"To get rid of him." Cloud interjected, "I always come back to you."
"In your spare time." Leon said turning from the blond.
Cloud wasn't sure what to say. He had to keep looking for Sephiroth, had to keep fighting him until he was gone for good. It wasn't just for his own sake, it was to keep Leon safe from him as well. But how could he possibly explain that the Leon?
"I'm not going to stop fighting him." Cloud informed him firmly.
Leon didn't reply.
"I won't come back until he's gone this time."
Leon tensed but refused to speak. Cloud turned towards the door once more, gabbed his sword and left the house. Leon stayed home that day.