Hey there, readers. This is just a re-upload/completion of something I had written a while ago, for one of those Strifehart kink prompts. A little humour, a little drama, a little romance, all Strifehart. Enjoy!
"Are you free?" On the other end of the line, Leon's voice sounded eerily dead to Cloud.
"What are you up to?"
"Just sitting on the edge of a bridge."
Cloud paused in his tracks, the flow of people on the sidewalk parting to move around him. Turning his bright blue eyes up to the similarly colored sky, he let loose a soft sigh. "Want me to come over?"
"You better have a shitting good reason for dragging me up here, Leonhart," Cloud grumbled, hunkering down beside the brunet and setting the six-pack of beer down on the side furthest from Leon. The 23-year-old worked as a delivery boy by day, bartender by night, but the couple of years he'd spent in the military certainly helped when he'd jogged out to where Leon sat atop the Golden Gate Bridge.
Leon deigned not to respond verbally, and only held out his hand. Cloud tore into the six-pack, taking out two bottles and handing one over to Leon. Twisting off the cap with his bare hand and flipping it into the river below, he took a long swallow before saying anything at all. "I'm...done," he said slowly, rolling the bottle between his palms.
Cloud's gaze focused on Leon, who only stared down at his hands. Moments turned into seconds, and when it was evident the brunet wasn't going to give much clarification, Cloud turned away with a snort. "That's it?" he said incredulously. "That's why you fucking called me up to this goddess-damned bridge in the middle of my very busy schedule? I should have let you jump." He popped open his bottle, sending the cap alongside its mate to the bottom of the river.
"You don't understand," Leon said softly. Cloud glanced to the side as Leon spoke, bottle to his lips. "I'm serious, Cloud," he continued. "This time, I'm serious."
Cloud looked down at the bottle in his right hand, idly reading the label—Corona Extra—while he thought of what he wanted to say. "You're serious," he muttered derisively. "So, what's it take for the ice prince to get serious?" The corner of his lip quirked up in a sardonic smirk.
Leon stared unblinkingly out over the water. "I'm just tired," he finally admitted. "I'm tired of working towards something that...might not even happen."
Cloud raised an eyebrow, and then leaned back on his elbows. "Tired," he questioned, "or scared?"
He observed Leon's back as one shoulder lifted in a shrug. "I don't know," he said. "Maybe both. Scared of what the future may or may not hold, but so fucking tired of trying to attain it." He was 25 years old—young, he knew—but he didn't know how much longer he could wait for the supposed spark that gave life meaning, the spark that everyone else around him seemed to have found ages ago.
They fell silent again, a warm summer breeze blowing steadily at their altitude. It was almost peaceful, being so far away from the rush of humanity. Were it not for the reason they were up there, Cloud thought it would have been a perfectly nice way to spend time with his best friend. He'd only moved to the city a little over a year and a half prior, but he felt closer to Leon than anyone else he'd ever known. After seeing his former best friend—his only real friend, at the time—killed in action, it was hard for him to get close to anyone again. A few months after he moved from New York to San Francisco to be nearer to Aerith Gainsborough, a girl he'd been friends with as a child, she introduced him to Leon, saying she had a feeling they'd get along well. At first, it seemed she was wrong, and all they did was fight. He had been on the verge of giving up on the friendship entirely when Aerith pointed out to both of them that despite their "fighting," they spent more time with each other than anyone else. After that realization, the two became nearly inseparable.
Cloud turned his eyes up towards the sky. "Didn't know you were such a pussy," he said lowly.
Leon turned around to aim a sharp glare at him, and Cloud quirked a smile. The brunet turned back around slowly, and Cloud sat upright again. "That's not all," said Leon.
"Oh?" Cloud tilted his head curiously.
"I..." It pained him to admit to any kind of weakness. The pain of admitting he wasn't as strong as everyone thought he was hurt just as much as the pain of feeling weak itself. He had always been the strong one, the one everyone could rely on, the one who was there. Growing up in a orphanage had been tough not just for him, but for all of the kids there. He just happened to be one of the oldest, and one of the most mature. The role of leader was one he grew into, and never grew out of. Once he left, it wasn't hard to secure an apartment and job at a construction firm. People trusted him because he was responsible, and acted older than his age, according to both his boss, Cid Highwind, and close friend, Aerith. But it was because of those two traits that Leon always felt lonely; he never connected well with other people his age. He was pleasantly surprised when Cloud entered into his life. He hadn't expected to get along with someone so similar to himself in temperament, and younger to boot. He especially hadn't expected the blond to be there for him in those moments when he most needed someone.
Cloud kicked at his leg, jolting him back to the present. He raised an eyebrow at Leon, encouraging him to finish his sentence. "I just...there's nothing. It's all meaningless," he said brokenly. "I don't have anything, or anyone. Who...would really miss me if I were gone? I'm tired of waiting for a future that might never happen."
Cloud rolled his eyes. Not to mention all of his other friends who loved him dearly, but... "Then why did you call me up here?" he asked quietly.
Leon froze for a moment, turning his head slightly to the side. "What?"
"WHY. THE FUCK. DID YOU CALL. ME. UP. HERE," Cloud all but shouted in Leon's face.
Leon narrowed his eyes and looked away. "Because I knew you'd bitch about it if I died and you weren't there to play cheerleader," he retorted spitefully.
Cloud was laughing before Leon even finished his statement, making a face in mock hurt as Leon punched him in the arm. He casually leaned back again, taking a sip of beer through grinning lips while Leon glared.
"All right, smart-ass," huffed the brunet, "then why'd you come?"
Cloud furrowed his eyebrows in apparent confusion. "What do you mean? You called me and asked for beer, so I brought you some," he replied.
"You could've ignored me," Leon pointed out smugly.
"I—fuck you," growled Cloud. "So sue me if I'm kind enough to grant a dying man's last wish."
It was Leon's turn to laugh, and the sound was so welcome to Cloud's ears that he found he couldn't stay irritated. His lips curled into a grin as he simply sat there, watching Leon laugh, admiring how the residual smile distorted his usually stoic face. It wasn't until Leon waved his beer bottle in front his face that Cloud realized he was even staring.
"What," he said, batting away Leon's hand.
Leon raised an eyebrow. "What? I've trying to get your attention for the past thirty seconds," he said.
"For what? We're sitting 200 feet above a fucking river, what's so damn urgent that you—"
"You were staring at me. For no reason," Leon noted.
Cloud tried to think of a response, but found none. Instead, he muttered something unintelligible beneath his breath.
"What was that, Strife?" asked Leon.
"I said, dumbass, if you're so serious about this, then get on with it," Cloud said more loudly, staring boldly at Leon.
It was Leon's turn to go speechless, and he turned back towards the water, a wry smile on his face. "Aren't you supposed to be trying to talk me out of this?" he said.
Cloud shrugged. "Not really," he commented. "I'm not a fucking psychologist or a police officer, am I?" When Leon only gave him a dubious glance, he continued. "I'm just your best friend, but I happen to know you a hell of a lot better than anyone else out there. And I know how useless it is to fight against you when you're being a stubborn asshole."
Leon didn't say anything for a while, fiddling with the nearly empty bottle in his hands. He leaned backwards against the metal support beams of the bridge, looking up and out at the world around him. "So," he said finally, "I guess this is it, then."
Cloud shrugged coolly. "The police are bound to show up soon, so yeah, you might want to hurry up," he advised.
Leon drained the rest of his bottle and set it down next to him. He stood up on the bridge, toes perched just over the edge, and looked straight down at the fall. He glanced over his shoulder to see Cloud still lounging on the bridge, staring ahead. "You're not even going to try to convince me not to jump?" he whined, allowing a hint of a smile to grace his lips.
Cloud considered him briefly, staring hard at Leon's face. The joking demeanor had evaporated from his countenance. "You really want me to try to convince you that badly?" Without allowing Leon time to respond, he set down his bottle and carefully stood up. As Leon took a step back to turn and face Cloud, the blond abruptly wrapped his arms around Leon's waist. It was then that Leon felt how fast Cloud's heart was racing.
"Don't leave me," said Cloud, his voice soft in Leon's ear. "I don't want you to do this. I'll do anything if you promise not to jump, because I need you, Squall. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me. You're the only thing I have to live for. I swear, if you jump, I'll jump with you."
Leon's voice caught in his throat as an unidentifiable lump of emotion constricted his breathing. "Cloud..."
"I've never been more serious in my life," continued Cloud, "than I am being right now. Squall Leonhart, I love you so fucking much, more than I've ever loved anyone, more than I've ever hated anyone. If you jump off this bridge, your life won't be the only one you take." He turned his face to the side, brushing his lips across Leon's cheek, and then his lips. His right hand came up to gently caress the brunet's face as he kissed him, smoothing over the fresh tears rolling down Leon's face.
Leon pulled away with a soft gasp, turning his head to the side. "Stop...stop fucking with me," he whispered darkly.
"I'm not," Cloud insisted. "Well, at least, not yet." He rolled his eyes at his own stupid joke. "But if you get off this bridge with me, I promise—"
"Strife," Leon interrupted, his voice tight. He looked Cloud in the eyes and pulled away, crossing his arms over his chest. "This isn't funny."
"Who's laughing, Leon?" Cloud spread his hands in front of him in a gesture of peace. "You asked me to convince you not to jump, and here I am, trying. I'm in love with you," he said pointedly, "and I don't care if you like it or not. It's your choice, Leon. I'm here for you, and you alone. I'm willing to love you. I'm willing to give you a reason to live, if you want it," Cloud offered. "I guess my friendship was enough to save you in the past, but this time, you're serious. And so am I." He stepped closer to the edge, and Leon immediately grew alarmed.
"It's all out there now, isn't it," he said bitterly. "You just want to die, and I just wanted to love you. I was serious when I said you're my reason for living, Leon. If you don't want to live, then I might as well die now, too."
Leon's face contorted into a mixture of worry and severity. "Cloud, stop being so goddamn dramatic," he warned.
A mirthless laugh escaped Cloud's lips. "I'm not being fucking dramatic, Squall," he said snidely, his fingers twisting into his hair in frustration. "I'm being serious."
They stood staring at each other, heedless to time as it passed. What seemed like minutes was only the span of a few breaths before Cloud scoffed again.
"I suppose...you've made up your mind, then," he said quietly, glancing up at Leon through lowered lashes. "I guess this is...goodbye." Cloud flashed a quick smile at Leon, who only stared back with wide eyes. He extended his arm towards Leon in a friendly gesture. "Jump togeth—"
"Cloud!" Time telescoped until Leon was sure he could've captured a butterfly by its wings mid-flight if he wanted to. He watched in abject horror as Cloud took a step backwards, and his foot slipped from the edge of the beam. He saw the moment of clearly written panic on Cloud's face before it all melted away into a serene smile. He saw himself reaching for Cloud—their fingertips were almost touching, if he could just—a little further—
And suddenly, he was falling, too, hurtling downwards from 245 feet in the air. An intense panic arose within him—it wasn't supposed to end like this—until he felt a warmth surround him. "Everything's gonna be all right," Cloud whispered to him, before everything went dark.
"Sweet mother, and I'm the dramatic one," were the first words to make it through his foggy consciousness.
Leon was slightly disturbed that the higher deity who had possession of his eternal soul sounded eerily like Cloud Strife. He blinked his eyes open, at first blinded by the light after being in darkness for so long, and then slowly able to make out forms.
"Come on, dumbass, I haven't got all day to wait for you to wake up," said the Cloud Strife-sounding god, this time administering a gentle shove to his shoulder. Leon instinctively brushed away the hand and pushed himself into an upright sitting position.
"Where...am I?" he asked out loud.
Cloud snorted beside him. "Not in hell, which is where you belong for putting me through that shit," he snapped.
Leon looked sharply to his left to see Cloud sitting next to him, wholly unharmed, and looking slightly put off. "Cloud?" he said softly.
"The one and only," Cloud answered back. "You know, I wasn't expecting to actually have to jump to get you down. You owe me."
"Get me down..." Leon slowly absorbed his surroundings. They were sitting on top of some type of netting-covered cushion, and they were moving. Ahead of them, the bridge was getting smaller and smaller, which meant they had to have been heading towards the shore.
"Yeah," said Cloud, grinning brightly. "Ingenious, aren't I? You can thank me later."
"I don't understand," Leon said, confused. "I saw you jump—I fell after you—"
"Technically," Cloud cut in, "it was me who fell, and you who took the running fucking leap after me. I mean, seriously, Leon, you could've really hurt yourself pulling shit like that."
"So it was all...a set up?" Leon ventured.
Cloud nodded. "Of course," he said. "Didn't I promise you once that I would always take care of you? What kind of friend would I be if I didn't have a back-up plan in place?"
"Friend," Leon repeated mutely, and Cloud didn't miss the disappointment in his voice. He glanced off at the nearing shore, about to make another comment, when Leon continued.
"And how you threatened to jump if I jumped," he said slowly.
"I figured the guilt trip would be a really good last ditch effort," Cloud confirmed.
A heavy silence fell over them, and Cloud watched Leon from the corner of his eyes. He couldn't help but take satisfaction in the crest-fallen look Leon was struggling to hide. With a sigh, he decided to relieve the brunet's torture. "Of course," Cloud commented airily, "it also helped that I was being completely honest up there."
Cloud could feel Leon stiffen next to him, and before Leon could articulate his next syllable, Cloud leaned over and took his face in his hands. He glanced briefly into Leon's eyes before quickly claiming his lips in a gentle kiss. He pulled away with a soft sigh, saying, "I love you, Leon. The only lie I told you up there was when I said I should have let you jump."
Leon searched Cloud's eyes for any signs of a lie, suddenly desperately to believe him. He licked at his lips, unsure of what to say. Finally, he settled on a question that had been nagging at him. "How did you know I was going to follow after you?"
Cloud shrugged. "I was kinda banking on you being in love with me, too," he admitted, "but in case that didn't work out, I figured you'd feel guilty enough to follow me anyway."
"Guilty enough to jump off a fucking bridge?" Leon asked incredulously.
"Well, yeah," said Cloud sheepishly. "I mean, it worked didn't it?"
"I guess," replied Leon absently. "Wait—no, I didn't mean—it didn't work."
"I—I love you," Leon said shyly. Then he nodded, as if affirming the fact to himself.
Cloud nodded as well, his lips thinned into a line. "See, now, if you had just said that on the bridge, you could have saved us both a lot of fucking trouble," he said pointedly.
Leon could only stare at him for a moment before laughter bubbled up from his throat. Cloud joined in, the brunet's grin too infectious to resist, and the pair of them soon had tears in their eyes. As they quieted down to mere chuckles, Cloud laid his head in Leon's lap, much like he'd done so many times before.
"So, what now?" asked Leon, absentmindedly preening Cloud's lengthy but soft spikes.
Cloud shrugged lazily. "Dunno. We could have sex. Lots of sex. In the kitchen, on the couch, in the—"
"I get the point," Leon said, slapping a hand over Cloud's mouth, a light blush painting his cheeks. "What next?"
Cloud moved Leon's hand away from his mouth and held it in his own hands. "Well," he said slowly, "you could move in with me. Not only would it be easier to have sex—" he quickly held up a finger to forestall Leon's protests— "but it'd be easier for me to keep tabs on you the next time you want to pull a stunt like this."
"And what then," Leon said with a slight growl.
"God, what is this, 20 fucking questions?" Cloud raised his eyebrow at Leon. "Oh, I know. I ask you to be my boyfriend forever and ever, right?"
Leon sighed. "Shouldn't that come before the sex and the moving-in?"
"Priorities, Leon, priorities," Cloud said sagely.
"I see," answered Leon. "And what next?"
Cloud pondered the question. "Hm. After we've been sufficiently sexed up and moved-in and boyfriend-ed, I suppose that's when we take on the world—aw, shit," he said, suddenly sitting upright.
"I left the beer on the bridge."