A/N: This is my take on Gr4Yr4iN's 2012-challenge. I was supposed to use exactly 2012 words for this one-shot and even though the word count here says otherwise, there really are exactly 2012 words used. I know that this isn't my best work. I'm not really happy with it, because it's super random and probably not something I would read, so... yeah. I still decided to post it, though. So hopefully, someone will like it. :)
Oh, and the cover for this story was drawn by the lovely ~KeepCalmForKpop (on dA). Please don't use the picture without her permission!
Today was a special day, because after what seemed to be an eternity, the sun had decided to show up in Hollow Bastion. As a result of that, the grey skies had disappeared and were replaced by a pleasant electric blue. This change alone gave the almost restored world a whole different look, which penetrated the darkest corners of Hollow Bastion and made them almost light up.
The times had changed, that much was obvious. Merlin had once said that when the sun would finally shine, it would mean that they were only one tiny step away from restoring Hollow Bastion to its former glory. Even Leon, who was the more realistic (or rather pessimistic, as Yuffie liked to point out often enough) member of their group, could feel that the dark days were finally over.
Merlin's place was currently empty, save for two serious-looking warriors, who were playing a card game. That was how they were enjoying their free day and kill some time, for now that the Heartless and Nobodies were almost gone, they didn't have to go on patrol all the time.
The one who was at the winning hand, looked as expressionless as ever, while the other one was looking more and more irritable, realizing that he couldn't win anymore. His chocolate brown hair fell in front of his face, perhaps so his opponent wouldn't see the defeat in his stormy blue eyes.
"Interesting…" was the only thing that the ex-SOLDIER said, his voice even softer than usually.
If the situation hadn't been this serious at the moment, then Leon probably would have laughed (as unbelievable as that sounded) at the sight of Cloud's messy, green-colored spikes. That little accident that had changed his hair color had been Leon's fault, and he had sworn that he hadn't done it on purpose. It was the truth. The scary thing about it was that Cloud had stayed perfectly calm under the situation, even when Yuffie couldn't resist keeping her mouth shut about it. If Leon didn't know any better, he would think that Cloud was planning some evil plan to get revenge on him…
Nah, the guy was too dense for that.
But damn it, Strife really was too good at having a poker face, Leon had to admit that. He honestly had never thought that he would be capable to lose from someone like Cloud. After all, how could he be this good at playing poker when he never had the time to sit still? All he ever did, was chase after Sephiroth, his so called "Inner Darkness."
…At least, that was what the brunet thought he was doing all day. After today, he wouldn't be surprised if Cloud had secretly been practicing on his poker skills to finally be able to beat him. Even as a kid, Cloud was known for losing any card game. It was more than obvious that things weren't the way they used to be anymore… unfortunately.
Hmph. Just look at him, the silent swordsman thought, being unable to bear that victorious, almost non-existent smirk on his rather pale face. Looking all smug because somehow, he finally won. And probably for the first time in his life, too.
"So…" the blonde enigma started after a short moment of silence between the two men.
Leon gritted his teeth and his jaw automatically tightened after hearing Cloud's voice. Oh, how much he hated him right now. Judging by the way he was looking at him right now, Leon could tell that big trouble was awaiting him.
"The people here call you the Roaring Lion of Hollow Bastion," Cloud started again, but Leon was wise not to comment on that.
Who knew what this guy was thinking right now.
"I wonder if you're really as brave as they're thinking you are…"
"I can't believe I'm really doing this…" Leon muttered under his breath, as he was searching through the clean laundry to that one item that could be seen as his salvation.
…Unless someone would catch him here, which would be highly… awkward to say the least, because then, he would have some explaining to do.
The other thing that bothered him was Cloud's bet; Leon had exactly three days to find out which brand Yuffie's favorite bra was. Seriously, why the hell would anyone want to know that? Besides, how could he know what Yuffie's favorite bra was? It wasn't like they were sharing the same bedroom, or something.
Cloud could only have one intention with it: he wanted Leon to get caught by someone, so he would never be able to look someone straight in the eyes. He wouldn't be surprised if the blonde had planned to send someone after him with some stupid excuse. That meant that he had to hurry up.
When he lifted the first clean piece of cloth, he was lost for a moment. Clean laundry really shouldn't smell this good. He had to concentrate.
So now, the question was, which one of these was Yuffie's?
The smallest ones, was his immediate first thought.
Wait… why had his mind reacted so fast to come up with an answer? It wasn't like he actually looked at… You know what, he honestly didn't want to-
At that moment, his train of thoughts was interrupted, because he heard someone heading his way. Unable to think of where to put the black bra that he had just grabbed, he just hid it inside his jacket and crossed his arms, so it wouldn't fall. He was right in time, seeing that the door just opened, showing a surprised Aerith.
"Leon? What are you doing here?"
The intensity of her emerald green eyes seemed to increase drastically at that moment, making the man who was looking into them gulp.
"Oh. Uh… I was just… looking for a clean shirt. Never mind, I already found it."
Smooth, Leon. Very smooth, he thought, sarcastically.
And with that, he rushed past her to the safety of his own bedroom, still holding the side of his jacket with one hand.
Aerith tilted her head to the side at his odd behavior. "What's gotten him so agitated this time?"
In the mean time, when Leon was sure that he was at a safe distance, he face palmed. What was he doing… taking someone else's belongings to his own room. It felt an awfully lot like stealing, something he always frowned at. Damn Cloud and his stupid quests. He'd better make sure that nobody found this in his bedroom. That would really bring him into some serious trouble…
The next day, Leon had put the incident somewhere in the back of his mind. Besides, it was too early to think of anything other than work. There was still a lot to do, lots of buildings to restore and even more blueprints to work on. All he wanted now, was to enjoy his black coffee, dark enough to see his own reflection inside of his half full cup.
Luckily, Aerith hadn't suspected anything, so he was safe. He was currently having the breakfast that Aerith had prepared for him, just like every other day. The young woman always made sure to get up early enough to be sure that he had eaten something. It was one of her old habits. One that Leon secretly had grown fond of, because it meant that he never had to worry about preparing his breakfast. Everything was already there on the table by the time he would get downstairs to the kitchen.
Throughout the years, Aerith had developed a strong feeling of responsibility towards them. She felt like she was the mother hen of the group and so did everyone else. That role of pure sweetness and gentleness fitted her as perfectly as flowers and the color pink did.
"Morning!" Yuffie's cried with a high-pitched voice, even before she had entered the kitchen.
When she walked past Leon, she couldn't resist ruffling his hair and messing it up completely. "Good morning, pretty boy."
The brunet swordsman swatted her hand away and grumbled quite irritably, "Don't," even though it was already too late.
With his hand, Leon brought his hair back in model, wondering how many times she would try messing up his hair for the sake of annoying him, before he would either explode, or leave the place to get to work.
"Aww, aren't you just a little ray of morning sunshine?" she replied, sarcastically, to which he rolled his eyes.
Meanwhile, Yuffie got everything she wanted for breakfast and started eating. The strange thing was that she didn't say anything for a long time. Not that Leon had something to complain about. He liked it better this way. Everything went well enough, until…
"You know what's really strange, Aerith?" Yuffie suddenly started.
This gained Aerith's attention and she turned away from the sink where she'd been washing the dishes.
"I can't find my favorite bra anywhere. You know, that black one. I checked everywhere, even the clean laundry where it was supposed to be. Did the washing machine gobble it, or something?"
As soon as those words had left her mouth, Leon almost choked on his cup of coffee from which he had just taken a sip. He didn't waste much time and got up to leave the room. His seat almost fell and his the ground because of the force that he used to pull his jacket with him.
"What's with him?" Yuffie wondered, thoughtfully. "He's acting even weirder than he usually does."
Aerith only shrugged.
"Leon, are you hiding up her-" Yuffie stopped mid-sentence when she realized that the swordsman she was looking for, wasn't in his bedroom. She was about to leave again when she spotted the item on Leon's bed. That made her stop. "What the…"
She slowly walked towards it and picked it up.
"What's this doing here?"
At first, utter shock was written on her face, but it was slowly replaced by anger.
When Leon heard the familiar beeping of his mobile phone, he put down the pen he was writing with. After fishing the device out of his pocket, he saw that Yuffie's name appeared on the screen.
The brunet male sighed wearily, before flipping it open and saying, "Leon speaking."
"You sneaky son of a-"
At this point, Leon had to hold his phone a few inches away, in order not to become deaf on one ear.
When the raven-haired girl was finally done with miscalling him, it was Leon's turn to snap, "Yuffie, the hell? I told you not to call me during work anymore, unless-"
"Oh, don't you dare talking to me with that tone of voice! I know you're not as innocent as you would like to believe! I know what you've been at all this time!"
At this point, Leon was starting to feel uneasy..
His patience was wearing thin, too and that was easy to hear when he asked her through gritted teeth, "What are you talking about?"
"What the hell was my bra doing in your room, huh?"
"I can't believe you're such a pervert! Cid, okay, I can expect it from him, but you?"
"Yuffie, I can explain-" Leon started, but only to be interrupted again.
"Alright, twenty seconds…"
"I give you twenty seconds to prepare yourself, before I kill you. And I can promise you one thing, it will be slow… and painful."
That sounded a little too serious to be considered one of Yuffie's weird jokes. This was getting bad.
"Yuffie, please, don't do anything that might bring you into big trouble," he said warningly, while looking around for his Gunblade.
Where was that thing when you needed it? Oh no, he hadn't forgotten it, had he?
"13… 12… 11… I'm almost there, Squallie."
Before Leon could even think of what to do next, Yuffie suddenly stood at the doorstep.
Her eyes were shimmering in an almost maniacal way. "Time's up. Surprise, surprise! Thought you could get away with it that easily?"
This couldn't end well…