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One Diagonal Scar

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Cloud crosses the Bailey, meaning to head for the Dark Depths. The sun is up - it's one of those endless summer days that Cloud, maybe a little less than half drawn to the darkness, maybe a little more, feels like a blight - and it's already hot. The sky is a burnt blue, empty and endless, and nothing under it is moving. The claymores are humming quietly to themselves, idling in the late morning stillness, and nothing else disturbs the rare calm.

Or not quite nothing. As Cloud crosses the Bailey he hears the steady chink-chunk-clink of someone working in the Restoration Site. Almost without thinking, he changes direction.

It's Leon, down among the fallen masonry and splintered timbers, his hair pulled back in a loose ponytail, his jacket hanging on the rough end of a beam jutting drunkenly out of the skewed ruin. Cloud squints into the light, watching the shadows gather in pools under the muscles behind Leon's arms as they swell with the strain of lifting the blocks of rubble. It's hot, and as Cloud watches Leon drags the back of one big hand across his forehead, smearing aside the stray strands of hair that are plastered there, the back of his white t-shirt dark with sweat. His hands are coated with dust, and he balls the front of his shirt in his fists, wiping his hands clean on the thin cotton before pulling it off over his head.

Cloud is meaning to call out to him, meaning to head on into the Dark Depths, meaning to not stare. But he's remembering the feel of Leon's back against his; the susurrating rattle and clatter of the heartless massed around them; the broad swell of flesh and muscle behind him as he readied himself to fight.

Down in the Restoration Site, Leon stretches, and wipes at his front with the balled-up t-shirt before shaking it out and hanging it over the beam alongside his jacket. Cloud is meaning to not stare, but the muscles in Leon's back are sliding over each other as he moves, and across his shoulders - tanned to the colour of cherry wood - is a spatter of freckles. When he was a boy, Clopud had lain with Tifa in the forests outside of Nibelheim, and they'd talked into the night about how one day, somehow, they'd not be here anymore, stuck in a dead backwater that wasn't even in the middle of nowhere, staring at the stars smeared across the vault of the heavens until the afterimage was burnt into their eyes. And that's what Cloud is seeing now, constellations dancing across Leon's back; galaxies spiralling across his shoulders.

Cloud is strong, but his strength has been forged in suffering and disappointment. A poisonous strength for which he is more conduit than container. Cloud's strength flows through him, and it takes as much as it gives and leaves him hard, and narrow, and as taut as a drawn string.

Leon's strength is different. Cloud doesn't know too much about his history, but he knows there was a boy called Squall, and he has a suspicion that that boy is still there, wrapped up inside the armour that Leon has built to protect him. Leon's strength is a shield, a warning, a barrier between Squall and the world, thick and tough and impervious, built to hide the boy inside the man.

Below him, in the Restoration Site, Leon turns, straightens up and stretches, and Cloud - still meaning to not stare - sees the sheen of sweat glistening on his skin, the swell and roll of the muscles in his chest and shoulders, the jump and twitch of his midriff. Cloud swallows heavily, feeling a little churn of something uncomfortable wriggling in his gut.

Back in Nibelheim, the streams jumped and tumbled down the mountain, rolling boulders over their rocky beds, and in the summer, when the rivers started to dry, heaps of wet boulders would lie gleaming in the sun, their honey colour fading as they dried. Round and wet and every surface curving into the next, dark pools of shadow nestling between them, and Cloud looks at Leon and feels the velvet drag of his fingers over the wet rocks, the smooth hard arcs beneath his palms, the comfort of something solid in a world that wouldn't stay still. Remembers the sensation of Leon's broad back pressed against his own narrow shoulders as the Heartless gathered around them.

Below him, in the Restoration Site, Leon turns back to his work, hesitating for just a moment as he squints into the sun, peering up towards the parapet Cloud has ducked behind as if he's not quite sure if there's something there. But everything is still, the Claymore's idling in the rare early afternoon calm, and with a shrug he turns back to his work.

Cloud stills the tremor of his heart and for the Dark Depths, very badly needig to fight, hoping for Sephiroth.

Desk Job

May. 24th, 2016 01:17 pm
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Because he is concentrating on the book he is reading, leaning over the heavy leather-bound volume propped up on the lectern as he struggles to decipher the antiquated letters, Leon doesn't hear Cloud come into the study.

Cloud hesitates in the doorway for a moment, looking at the spread of Leon's shoulders, the swell of his triceps, the inch of neck showing where he's pushed his hair behind one ear, and steps up behind him, wrapping his arms around Leon’s hard midriff.


Leon feels Cloud’s breath in his ear, his fingers knotting in the front of his t-shirt, his knees pushing into the backs of his knees.

Defences to be mended… Cloud’s hands move to cup the knobs of bone at Leon’s hips… rota to organise… his teeth closing over the back of his ear lobe… oh, god…

Leon gropes behind him blindly with one hand, burying his fingers in the soft spikes of Cloud’s hair, turns around inside his arms, leans back against the lectern. “Yeah,” he mutters, “w...”

Cloud covers Leon's open mouth with his own, tongue pushing in, fingers under fabric, pulling at his flesh, up over the taut muscles of his stomach, up onto the heavy slabs of his chest, thumbs rough on his nipples. Leon gasps against Cloud's urgency, again as Cloud's teeth close on his lower lip, again as he pushes his hips into Leon, hard against him.

Leon drops his hands to cradle Cloud's ass, pulls him closer, mashing his mouth against him, teeth and tongues and saliva and Cloud's breath short and quick in his nose.

"Fuck me," Cloud breathes, fingers tugging at the belts draped around Leon's waist. He is making a little sound in his throat, feral and needy. "Fuck me."

Cloud has the belts undone and Leon's trousers down around his thighs, both hands pulling at him. "Fuck me, Leon. Fuck me. Fuck me."

Leon takes Cloud by the shoulders and turns him, bends him forward over the curving desk. Cloud has his own trousers around his knees, is fumbling at Leon's stiff dick behind him, almost dragging him in. Leon feels the tight nub of Cloud's muscle, pushes forwards, and forwards, and forwards. Cloud shouting.

Leon means to go slow, but Cloud is screwed to the sticking place, taut and tight around him, yelling and bucking under him. Cloud comes on Leon's fifth thrust, stuff stuttering across the top of Ansem's desk. Leon is only seven panted breaths behind, growling through gritted teeth as he falls forwards over Cloud's shaking shoulders.

"So what was that about?" Leon asks, when he can speak again.

Cloud shrugs, pulling the disordered spikes back into place on his head. "Nothing."

"Nothing?" Leon raises an eyebrow.


"Okay. Well, in that case," Leon pulls his pants up, fastens the belts around him, "I should get back to work."

"Okay," Cloud shrugs. "See you later." Starts to pull his pants back on.

"Wait," Leon says.


Cloud's lusts are mercurial, as quick and fierce as a summer storm, and over as quickly as they come. Leon's smoulder, slow to catch but once caught burning hot and long.

Leon nods.

"I thought you were busy?" Cloud takes hold of Leon's hand, presses it against him.

"I was." Leon flexes his fingers, stroking the soft skin below Cloud's navel. "Now I'm busy with something else."

"Mmm," Cloud says, shivering as Leon kisses him again, long and slow and lingering. "Woke the sleeping lion, huh?"

"Squa-aaallll!" Faint and away down the corridors, Yuffie, calling. "Squaalll-yyy!"

Cloud feels Leon tense and pull away slightly.

"It's okay," he says, "she's only just out of the Postern by the sounds of it. There's time."

"Time for what?" Leon manages a small smile; kisses Cloud again; feels him getting hard, pants still rucked around his knees. Hears the door handle start to turn.

"Shit!" Cloud hisses, and dives for the chair. "Quick!"

Leon glances around the room. The door is starting to open. No time to get into the secret passage. Only one thing for it.

"Leon? Leon are you there?" Tifa's voice. Yuffie, still calling, still away in the distance. "Oh. Cloud."

Leon is on his hands and knees beneath the desk. Cloud is sitting on the edge of Ansem's throne with his pants half-way down his thighs and his erection pressing against the underside of the desk. Above him and behind him he can hear Tifa's questions; Cloud's curt responses. Leon reaches up and takes hold of Clouds erection, pulls it down away from the desk an inch or two, lets go.

Cloud makes a small strangled noise and Tifa stops saying whatever it was she had been saying. "Cloud?" she says, and Leon can hear the uncertainty creeping into her voice. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine," Cloud mutters. "I'm just a bit stiff is all."

"Oh, you poor thing! Has Leon been working you too hard?" Certain members of the Restoration Committee had the impression that a full day's work was too much to expect from anyone.

Under the desk, Leon inches Cloud's pants across his thighs, over his knees, down around his ankles; drops his head and runs his tongue slowly over the rucked skin of Cloud's balls.

"No," Cloud gasps, "don't... don't think... that. He hasn't anything I... can't handle."

"You boys," Tifa laughs, but the laugh sounds forced, as if she's half certain something is going on at her expense. "You're so competitive. Always trying to out-do each other."

"It's not much of a fight," Cloud says, before he can stop himself.

Under the desk, Leon takes Cloud's balls in his mouth, sucks on them gently, and then harder, rolling them under his tongue.

"Cloud?" Leon can hear the suspicion in her voice. "Are you sure you're alright? You’re shaking."

"I'm f... I'm fine," Cloud stammers. Leon has let Cloud's balls flop out of his mouth and taken hold of his dick in one hand. He squeezes it, hard, and starts to slide his hand up and down the shaft, slowly.

Leon hears Cloud's breath hiss out between his teeth, cutting off as he drags his tongue along the underside, long and slow until he meets his own descending hand and drops back down to push around again at Cloud's balls.

"Are you sure? Maybe you should get Merlin to give you a potion. You look flushed."

Leon takes Cloud's dick in both hands, opens his mouth wide and lowers his face, sliding his wet tongue over the exposed glans. Cloud's fists come down on the table with a thud and one knee starts to knock against Leon's shoulder. Leon starts to move his head backwards and forwards, taking Cloud's dick into his mouth until it bumps against the narrow constriction of his throat. Leon pulls back slowly, sucking hard at him, tongue rasping over the glans again.

"I... can't..." Cloud says, "stop..."

"Stop what?"

"Looking...." Cloud gasps.

"Oh, Cloud! Not that again!" Tifa sounds genuinely concerned. "You're making yourself ill over this obsession with Sephiroth. Look at you! You're flushed, you're shaking, you can barely speak, you're clearly in some kind of pain. And as for Leon, making you wait for him here, he should know better! Where is he, anyway?"

Under the desk, Leon has Cloud's twitching dick in his hands, tip rubbing against his face as it jumps and jerks as Cloud tries not to come.

"Oh, you know L... Leon," he hears Cloud moan. "He'll have his hands full taking c... care of someone somewhere."

"True," Tifa nods. "He is a kind man. Well, tell him I was looking for him will you, if you see him."

Leon give two fast tugs at Cloud's dick, takes it into his throat as Cloud starts to orgasm, buries his nose against Cloud's belly, pushing into him as he comes, back off him to catch the last of it on his tongue.

"Ah... I... huh.. ah.. will," Cloud splutters through gritted teeth. "And if you see him first, tell him I'm going to kill him."

"Oh, you boys, you do love to fight," Tifa says, leaving the study.
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Leon has been watching him for about twenty minutes before Cloud notices he is there, sitting quietly just inside the tent's porch. It is early still, the pale light only just beginning to lift the heavy darkness with its weak fingers; dawn still just a grey promise hovering above the horizon. Below them, Radiant Garden glows against the night, red and orange and white, scintillant, a net of light spattered across the emptiness like the embers of a fire kicked apart. Somewhere down there, out on the edge where the lights fade out into the surrounding dark, is the little house on Twilight, empty now and waiting, and one of those lights, Leon knows, is their porch. Cloud never remembers to turn the porch light off, no matter how often Leon reminds him.

Behind him, in the tent, one of the twins stirs in his sleep, and Cloud - turning at the sound - sees Leon in the moonlight, watching him. Leon sees the moon shining in Cloud's eyes, sees him blink once, twice, and pulls himself up onto his feet.

"Hey," he says. The bench creaks under him as he sits, and Cloud's hand is cold when he picks it up off the table. "Can't sleep?"

Cloud smiles, and inches along the bench towards him; snakes an arm across his shoulders; a hand into his hair. Leon shivers.

"Aren't you cold?"

"I like it," Cloud says. "I get fuzzy. The cold helps."

Leon frowns. "You'll catch a chill."

"Worry wart."

"Here." Leon pulls his jacket off; hands it to Cloud. "Put this on." Shivers again as the night air bites him.

Behind them, in the tent, one of the twins stirs again. "You should go back in. If they wake up and we're not there…"

"You coming?"

"No." Cloud shakes his head and wraps Leon's jacket around his shoulders, sleeves hanging. "I'm awake now. It'll be light soon. You go back to sleep."

"Okay." Leon clambers to his feet, plants a little kiss on the end of Cloud's nose, hopes he can't read his expression through the gloom. "Come back in if you want."

Inside the tent, Roxas whimpers in his sleep as Leon climbs back into the bedding, wriggles in against him as soon as he is down, takes hold of Leon's big hand with his little fingers. "Hey, buddy," Leon says quietly into his hair. On the other side of him, Sora sits up from a tangle of his own arms and legs. "Where's Cloud?" he mumbles, not really awake.

"He's just outside," Leon whispers. "Looking out for us."

"For the boogyman?" Sora says, falling back to sleep.

"Yeah," Leon nods. "Keeping us safe from the boogeyman."


It had been Cloud's idea, to take the twins camping. Leon had been dubious, worrying about snake bites and spiders and Cloud's geostigma, but Cloud had decided, and everyone knew that Leon never stood a chance when Cloud had made up his mind about something. And anyway, he'd already booked the camping spot out by Fort Baker. Forts were the twins' new thing.

"It's only one night," Cloud had said, winding an arm around Leon's waist; kissing the back of his neck. "It'll be fun."

"What if there's…"

Cloud slipped his free hand over Leon's mouth. "Shush. It'll be fun."


Leon wakes in the darkness with no idea of where he is. He can hear the soft sounds of other peoples' slow sleeping breath, the billow and slap of fabric as the night breeze fills it, the creak of whatever it is that he is lying on as it moves beneath him, and for a moment - still only half-awake - remembers they're on the ship. "Cloud?" he says, and his groping hand finds the tousled head tucked under his armpit, feels the familiar shapes of the cheek and soft lips, not Cloud's but Roxas', snuggled up in sleep against him.

Properly awake now, Leon lies still for a moment, listening to the flap of the tent's walls in the wind and the air mattress creaking beneath him as he shifts. The twins are pressed in against him, Sora curled against the small of his back, Roxas in the crook of his arm.

"Cloud?" Leon says again, and sits up, gently disentangling himself from the boys' arms and fingers, careful not to wake them. Cloud isn't there.

Leon edges his way into the porch, willing the zip to be quiet as he pulls it back up, shutting the twins in behind him as he shrugs into his clothes.

He's about to call Cloud's name again when he sees him. Just a dark shape against the darkness, but Leon knows Cloud's every contour, even in the star-spattered blackness of whatever time this is. Motionless in the silent night, and Leon thinks that maybe he's fallen asleep where he's sitting, chin propped on one hand, but then the clouds move away from the moon and Cloud turns his head.

It's cold, but that's not why Leon is shivering. Silvered in the moonlight, Cloud looks almost inhuman, pale and fragile, etched with exhaustion, impossibly young, and there's something caught in Leon's throat and he can't quite seem to breathe.

Once, he had thought that he would get used to it, seeing Cloud like this. But as the years passed and they had gone from being friends to being lovers to being a family, it is the single thing that has never changed. Leon still feels like he had always felt, protective and bewildered and scared and helpless. Leon fixes things. It is the rock beneath the foundations of who he is. Fixes things, builds things, rebuilds things, helps things mend. And here is the one thing he wants to fix more than anything. The one thing he can do nothing about.

Leon loves Cloud with a fierce piercing love, so sharp that sometimes it hurts him. He sits in the porch, watching the eggshell boy with moonbeams in his hair sitting in the darkness beneath the wheeling stars, and feels what he never ever allows himself to feel. Small, vulnerable, afraid.

Behind him, in the tent, one of the twins stirs in his sleep, and Cloud - turning at the sound - sees Leon in the moonlight, watching him. Leon sees the moon shining in Cloud's eyes, sees him blink once, twice, and pulls himself up onto his feet.


Cloud had driven them there, taking the turns on Shoreline Highway just fast enough for the twins to cling on to each other, their grins spreading wider with each bend. Leon had kept them occupied with stories of the Gold Rush, tales of covered waggon times, frontier days. By the time they'd got to the camp ground at Kirby Cove everything was a sidewindin', bushwackin', hornswagglin' cracker-croaker.

"Just remember, when the school call, this is your fault," Cloud had laughed, and Leon could only shrug helplessly.


Leon had driven them home. Sora and Roxas had fallen asleep almost as soon as they were in the car.

"You were right."

"I usually am," Cloud smiled. "What about?"

"It was fun."

"Told you." He leaned across and kissed Leon under the ear, resting his head on his shoulder for a moment. "I love you, you know."

"I know. You doing okay?"

Cloud nodded. "Just a bit tired."

"Try and get some sleep?"

Cloud nodded again, sitting back in his seat. "If I sleep, don't drive the whole way back in one go. Take a break at Timber Cove or something?"

"I will."



Cloud slept, and Leon kept his word, but no-one woke up to see it.


Cloud was still asleep when Leon pulled up in the pool of porchlight outside their little house on Twilight, and didn't wake up until Leon had both of the twins out of the car, one sleepy head on each shoulder, a six-year-old in each arm and juggling his keys to get the front door open.

"Here, let me take one." He climbed out of the car into the yellow glow of the light, stumbling sleepily, one hand out against the door to hold himself up.

"Or maybe I need to get these two to bed and then come back for you." Leon looked at the figure slumped against the car, Cloud's eyes heavy-lidded with sleep, all his angles softened under the warm light, smiling.

"Are you going to carry me as well?"

"I might." Leon smiled, hefting Roxas back up onto his shoulder. "Just let me see to these."

"I'll be on the sofa," Cloud smiled again, pushing his hair out of his face. "Keep looking at me like that and we might not make it to the bed."

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Merlin snapped the book shut, eyebrows bristling with irritation. His one rule – his only rule – that he not be disturbed while he was reading. That wasn’t too much to ask, surely?

On the other side of the study door something teetered, toppled, shattered, shards skittering across the flagged floor. The door shook as something heavy hit it. Beyond it, voices; low, surly, clipped.

Muttering under his breath, Merlin lay the book aside and clambered to his feet. He was almost sure what he would see – Leon, arms folded across chest, staring in feigned disinterest at something in the middle distance; Cloud, fist clenched at his sides glaring at the ground. The old wizard gestured wearily and the door banged open.

“I never said I’d join your stupid gang!” Cloud was by the window, eyes fixed on the street outside.

“I never asked you to!” Leon on his hands and knees, picking up the pieces of the retort flask that glistened wetly among the dark liquid splashed over the stones.

“Don’t touch that!” Merlin snapped.

Both men turned towards him.

“All I ask… all I ask is that I be left alone to work! Is that too much? Well?”

The wizard peered over the tops of his glasses at the two young men.

“But he…” Leon started to protest.

“I don’t want to hear it!” Merlin snapped.

“I didn’t…” Cloud muttered.

Merlin’s bristling eyebrows silenced him.

“Well. Neither of you have anything to say for yourselves? Hmmm?” Merlin raised a warning finger and both Cloud and Leon closed their mouths, shooting each other angry glances. “That’s better. Now. If you’re quite sure you don’t mind, I have work to do.” The old man turned back towards his study door, poking at the wet stain spreading across the floor. “Neither of you got any of this on you, did you? Well?”

Leon shook his head, wiping furtively at the long scratch snaking along his forearm where the flying glass had cut him. Cloud made a little gesture of denial, licking his lips.

“Good! Good! I was thinking of trying it out on some Shadows once I’d made a few more adjustments. No telling what it would do to them if I tried it now!” Merlin chuckled.

“What is it?” Leon asked, frowning.

“Eh? Eh? Oh, just a new spell I’ve been working on. Empathga, I call it. I thought if enemies could be made to understand who they were fighting against, they might lose the will to do it. Clever, eh?” Merlin paused, waiting for the two men to be impressed. “Yes. Well. Remind me to try it on you two when it’s finished. Now get out and leave me to work.” The study door slammed to behind him.

Leon turned to Cloud. “You didn’t…..?”

“Nah. You?”

“No. Well, I’ve got a town to rebuild. Have fun doing whatever it is you’re so busy doing.”


When Cloud woke up the following morning he noticed two things straight away. One was the scratch on his arm, itching and inflamed. The other was his hard-on. Pushing the covers away, Cloud took his dick in his hand, smiling a little at the feel of it. Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed he stopped, frowning.

“What the?” he muttered, looking at the dark pubic hair curling at his groin. “What the fuck?” at the voice coming out of his mouth.

He looked again at the dick in his hand, thick, long, raddled with veins, at the hand gripping it, the chewed down nails and the skin calloused by hard labour. Cloud didn’t chew his nails. Cloud didn’t have that much dick.

“Fuck,” he said again. Then “shit!” letting go of what he was holding, wiping his hand on the sheets. “Fuck fuck fuck fuck.”

He lifted a hand to his hair – hanging into his eyes, much too long in the back – and pushed it from his face, rubbing at his eyes and cheeks in an effort to wake up, feeling the scar that shouldn’t be there, rubbing harder until he remembered what he had just been doing with that hand.

“I’m dreaming,” he said, trying not to hear Leon’s voice. “I’m dreaming is all. Just some stupid nightmare.”

He clambered to his feet and stood for a moment, trying to get used to feel of everything being different, of his feet feeling bigger against the floor, of everything being just that little bit further away.

“This is fucking weird,” he said, opening the door to the bathroom.

Leon was looking at him out of the mirror above the basin, hair tangled from sleep, stark naked, dick stiff. Cloud raised his hand and Leon did too. Cloud put the hand on his head and Leon did too. Cloud turned away from the mirror, peering back over his shoulder to see Leon doing the same.

Cloud turned back to the mirror, leaned towards it.

“What the hell?,” he breathed, watching Leon’s lips move behind the fog of breath on the glass. His balls were itching, and he scratched at them absent-mindedly with his thumb. Leon’s dick swung in the mirror.

Cloud looked at it, mouth part open, glanced up at Leon, naked and tousled, looking back out at him. He had to admit that Leon was one fine looking man, and that rebuilding a town kept him in shape, no matter how stupid it was. The heavy muscles of his chest and shoulders rolled as Cloud shifted, the vault of his ribs expanding and falling as Cloud breathed.

Cloud took his dick in his hand, watched the long muscles in Leon’s forearm jump as he ran his fist along the shaft, breath hissing out between his clenched teeth as he peeled the skin back. He could feel Leon’s heart hammering, the pulse quickening in his neck. Cloud rested his hands on the wall, one either side of the mirror.

“If this isn’t a dream then you’re one fucking lucky son of a bitch,” Cloud muttered, and took hold of it again, closing his eyes, his other hand cupped around his balls.


“I don’t think it’s done quite what he expected, do you? And just what are you doing with that?”

Cloud opened his eyes. In the mirror, behind the curve of Leon’s shoulder, he saw Cloud standing in the bathroom doorway, wearing Leon’s jacket. He turned around.

“You didn’t come here dressed like that?”

“Dressed like what?”

“In your jacket!”

“What the fuck are you talking about? Of course in my jacket!”

“Did anyone see you?”

“I don’t know. Why?”

“What would you think if you saw me walking around in your jacket?”

“Oh. Oh, right. Well, I guess you better hope no one saw then.”

“This isn’t a dream, is it?”

Leon raised an eyebrow.

“A dream? Exactly how often do you dream about masturbating me? Although,” he made a vulgar motion at his crotch, “I can see why you would.” He took a step back. “Is that how I look? Weird. I’m used to being the other way around.”

“You’re not kidding,” Cloud nodded, looking at his hair spiked in all the wrong directions. “Merlin?”

“I guess.” Leon frowned, looking at Cloud’s arm. “That’s a nasty cut I’ve got there. Want to put something on that before it gets infected?”

“Sure, sure.” Cloud turned to the cabinet, looking for cream. “So now what?”

“I’ve got a couple of ideas.” Leon shrugged his jacket off Cloud’s shoulders. “You look like you were in the middle of something there.”

Cloud felt Leon’s cheeks flush. “Shit. Man, I just…”

“Don’t worry. It’s not like you were sticking pins in it. Just as long as I get it back in one piece.” Leon dropped to Cloud’s knees. “Anyway, I’ve always wondered how this would feel.”

He took hold of Cloud by his dick, turned him around.

“Oh shit!” Cloud hissed, as Leon ran Cloud’s tongue across the engorged head of his dick. “Oh, fuck, man, that’s my… ah… f…fuck…. that’s my mouth.”

Leon pulled back. “Yeah. So? Want me to stop?” Forwards again.

Cloud could only make inarticulate noises until Leon came up for breath. “Man, how do you know how to do that?”

“You’ve never imagined the perfect blow job? I guess I just know what I like,” Leon grinned. “Also, you have a very… uh… versatile tongue.” Forwards again.

“Don’t come in my mouth,” Cloud whispered, a little later.

“Try and stop me,” Leon mumbled, mouth full.

Cloud did, but like Leon said, he did have a very versatile tongue.


“How long do you think we’ve got ’til this wears off?”

“No idea,” Leon turned away from the basin, drying Cloud’s chin. “Man I should get you to suck me off more often, you were like a hose there.”

“About that,” Cloud glanced at the floor, still feeling the ache in Leon’s balls.

“Yeah. That is kind of awkward.” Leon nodded. “But we can worry about that later, right?”

“Sure.” Cloud said uncertainly. “So…”


“I was wondering. That is, I sort of wanted you to… Fuck it, I don’t even know who’s who anymore!”

“Maybe just tell me what it is?”

Cloud reddened again. “I want you to fuck me.”

Leon frowned. “Let me make sure I’ve got this straight. Are you saying that you – Cloud who looks like Leon – want me – Leon who looks like Cloud – to fuck you ? Or are you saying that you want the one of us who looks like me – looks like Leon – to fuck the one of us who looks like you – like Cloud?”

“What I’m saying is that I want you to fuck me. I don’t know which way ’round that is.”

“Well then,” Leon grinned. “We’d just better do it both ways, to be sure.”


When Cloud woke up the following morning he noticed two things straight away. One was the scratch on Leon’s arm, yesterdays redness faded to a dull line. The other was his hard-on. Pushing the covers away, Cloud took Leon’s dick in his hand, smiling a little at the feel of it. Leon stirred sleepily, wrapped his fingers around Cloud’s.

“Morning,” he said.

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“If that’s how you really feel about him, why don’t you just tell him?” Tifa snapped.

“Don’t be stupid,” Cloud frowned into his beer, not daring to meet her eye.

“What’s stupid?” From under his hair, Cloud could see Tifa’s fingers drumming on the table top. She only ever drummed her fingers like that when she was angry. “Telling him how you feel and getting it over with? Or mooning around after him like a fangirl for the rest of your life making an idiot of yourself?  What are you going to do when he brings people back? Stick your fingers in your ears?”

“Tifa!” Aerith chuckled. “You’re awful!”

“No, I’m not.” Tifa said. “I’m not. I’m being realistic. Neither of you really think that he’s going to stay single for ever, do you? You think he’s a monk or something? Well, he isn’t. And that means that one day, he’s going to bring someone home, and one day, he’s going to fuck that someone, and one day, we’re going to hear it happen. So,” she stopped for a moment, glaring at Cloud, “unless you want that someone to be someone else, you need to tell him how you feel!”

“But…” Cloud protested. “But… I can’t tell him! What if he says no?”

“At least then you’ll know, and you’ll be able to get on with your life instead of following him around everywhere like you were his shadow or something.”

“I do not!” Cloud glanced up at Tifa. Her fingers were still drumming on the table top. “Anyway, he probably doesn’t even like men.”

Tifa snorted. “Cloud, you can be such an idiot! You…”

“Cloud. Sweetie.” Aerith interrupted. “You are adorable and we both love you very much. But you aren’t always very bright.” She smiled sweetly at Cloud as he opened his mouth to protest, cutting him off with a single raised finger. “You remember when he moved in? When we interviewed him?”

Cloud closed his eyes. He remembered, alright. Aerith – always prudent, always wise – insisted on interviewing prospective flat-mates, and Tifa – always bored – insisted on turning it into a game. Cloud thought the whole thing was stupid, but it was two against one. The worst of it was, they made him sit there and be interested. The worst of it was, when the buzzer sounded, they had made him answer it.

When Cloud had opened the door and seen him standing there, his first thought had been that Tifa had found the manga he had hidden under his mattress and was somehow playing a trick on him. His second thought had been to wonder if he was blushing. His third thought had been that Tifa was going to do that thing with the towel, at which point Cloud had become as clumsy a new-foaled colt.

“Uh, hi? I’m Leon. I’m here about the flat share?”

“Yeah, come in,” Cloud had managed, watching the tiniest hint of a frown crease Leon’s forehead for the briefest fraction of a second. He had followed Leon up the stairs, trying not to see the way the black fabric of his pants tightened across the cheeks of his ass as he took the steps two at a time; the belt hanging on his hips; the three inches of white t-shirt in the gap below the hem of his short black jacket.

Aerith had made a pot of coffee. Cloud sat on the end of the couch watching Leon lift the mug to his lips as he answered the girls’ questions. Cloud had no idea what they were asking, or what Leon was saying in reply, until Aerith had asked him why he was looking for a new place and he had said something about a relationship having come to an end.

“Okay, then, “ Tifa had said. “Unless Cloud has anything he wants to ask you,” and she had shot him a black look, sideways along the couch, “I think we’re all done here. Maybe if you could give us a few minutes to talk it over, we should be able to give you an answer straight away.”

“Sure,” Leon had smiled. “Where do you want me to wait?”

“Well, actually,” Tifa had glanced at Aerith. “There is just one more thing.”

“Oh?” Leon’s smile hadn’t faltered. “What would you like to know?”

“What do you look like in a towel? The shower’s through that door there. There’s a fresh towel on the rail. You can shower or not, whichever, but just give us a couple of minutes either way, would you?”

As it turned out, Leon – freshly showered and with the towel knotted on one hip – looked like he had just freshened up after a hard day in the studio of Polykleitos the Younger. But to Cloud, without the benefit of a classical education to inform his obsessions, he looked like Emba.

“O-kay,” Tifa had said. “I think that just about seals it.” Aerith had nodded. “Cloud?” she said sweetly.

In his room, Cloud had fished the manga from under his mattress with shaking fingers, letting it fall open to the page it always opened to. “Hang… hang on!” he called out, voice cracking and about to come, at the soft knock on his door.

“Sorry, I didn’t want to disturb you,” Leon had said through the door. “I just wanted to say it was nice to meet you and I hope to see you again soon.”

“Me too!” Cloud had gasped, come splattering over the drawing of Emba’s naked torso.


Cloud opened his eyes, nodding. “Oh, I remember,” he said.

“And you remember when I asked him why he was moving out of his old place? You remember what he told us?”

Cloud nodded again. “He told us he’d just broken up with his partner,” he said, flatly.

“That’s right,” Aerith smiled. Cloud hated it when Aerith smiled at him. It always made him feel like he was seven.

“So?” Cloud said.

“So,” Tifa butted in. “Men on the rebound are bad news. Either he was going to be all heart-broken and looking for comfort from Aerith and me, or there was going to be a deranged ex-girfriend hanging on the buzzer at all hours and following us around in Walmart calling us whores. So Aerith did some research. And found out who this partner was.”

“His name is Zell Dincht,” Aerith said quietly. “I think you’d be surprised if you saw him.”

“His name…” Cloud says. “Name…. His… But… Oh, god.”

“So, what’s your next excuse?” Tifa said.

“Tifa! Be kind!” Aerith laid a hand on Tifa’s arm.

“I am being kind,” Tifa said, looking from Aerith to Cloud and back. “He needs a good kick in the backside, and I’m giving him one. I’m his friend. It’s what friends do.”

Aerith nodded. “You’re right. It is what friends do. Cloud,” she turned to the boy, who was still frowning into his beer, “this is a gift Tifa is giving you. Don’t make me angry by refusing it.”

“But…” Cloud said.

“Cloud!” Aerith raised a warning finger. “Don’t make me tell you again.”

“Alright, alright. I’ll tell him. But you’d better be ready to clear up the mess when it all goes wrong.”

The three of them sat silent for a moment, Cloud lost in his own thoughts, Tifa and Aerith grinning at each other.

“Well?” Aerith said after a while. “He’s not here is he? How do you propose to tell him, sitting there?”

“What?” Cloud looked up from his drink. “Now? You mean tell him now? But…”

“Cloud! Go!” Tifa said, getting up from the table and taking hold of him by the shoulders, pulling him up onto his feet, propelling him out of the bar into the street. Cloud stood for a moment, staring at the two girls blocking the doorway.

“Okay,” he said at last. “Okay. Shit, I can’t believe I’m going to do this.”

“You’d better!” Tifa said, threateningly. And “and he’d better say yes,” quietly, to Cloud’s receding back.

“That was a nice thing you did for him,” Aerith said, taking Tifa in her arms and hugging her hard. “I know I can’t be easy for you.”

“Oh, you know,” Tifa sniffed. “It’s been so long now, and I’ve known how he is longer than Cloud has himself. We grew up together, remember? And ever since that whole hero-worship thing with Zack you’d have to have been blind not to see what it was he really wanted. So yes,” she sniffed again, “it’s hard, and I love him, but I want him to be happy and I want to be happy and if we can’t be happy together that doesn’t mean I don’t want us to be happy at all.”

Aerith hugged her again. “You know what?” she said. “You and me need to go dancing.” She turned back into the bar, pulling Tifa after her. “So let’s see,” she said. “What are the choices tonight? How about that one?” Pointing to a tall tanned man with long fair hair. “He looks nice.”

Tifa snorted. “Aerith! He does not look nice! He looks like a classic narcissist. And anyway, if he’s straight I’m Sephiroth.”

“Well, okay, if you say so,” Aerith looked doubtful. “How about that one? You like red heads.”

Tifa narrowed her eyes. “That one… now, you know, that one doesn’t look to bad”. Moving towards the bar and the flame-haired man.

– x X x –

Cloud meant to go straight home, but he kept running through scenarios in which he told Leon how he felt without sounding like a complete jerk, and in every single one of them he ended up sounding like a complete jerk. The best he had come up with so far was “Leon, listen, I think you’re really hot.” Which scored on directness, but failed on pretty much everything else. Cloud decided he needed a drink.

In the bar, Cloud sat sucking down one bottle of Dos Equis after another, running through one scenario after another, each one worse than the last. He was half-tempted to give the whole thing up, but whenever he decided to just creep home and sneak into bed he thought of what Aerith and Tifa would do when they found out. “Better get this over with then,” he said to himself, and clambered to his feet.

Until he stood up, Cloud hadn’t realised just how drunk he was, nor how difficult it was to keep one foot in front of the other. “Whoa, there!” he muttered, reeling against a wall as the sidewalk kept slipping out from under him. “Ten blocks. Ten blocks. You can make it. Ten blocks.”

He does make it, just, and after far longer than ten blocks has ever taken before. It’s only partly because he’s drunk, or rather it’s only partly because he’s too drunk to walk in a straight line. The other problem with being drunk is that when Cloud drinks he gets horny, and when he drinks too much he gets really horny, and he had been half-hard all night thinking of Leon and now that he has got really drunk he has been thinking about Leon sucking him off, and his dick is pressing painfully against the fabric of his pants and every step is making him harder.

And on the steps of the apartment building he fumbles his keys and they go rattling down somewhere dark and he can’t find them anywhere and presses the buzzer until Leon answers.

“Hello?” Leon sounds out of breath, and for a moment Cloud stands there, listening to the sound of him breathing heavily into the intercom. Panting, Cloud thinks, and breaks into a grin that turns into a frown. Why would Leon be out of breath? “Hello?” Leon says again.

“Leon. Hi. S’me. Cloud.” Cloud leans his head against the wall, trying to speak clearly into the intercomm.

“Cloud. Hi. Forgot your key?” Leon buzzes Cloud into the building, each word punctuated by a heavy breath. Panting.

“What were you doing?” Cloud says, before he realises it.

“What? Cloud, are you okay?”

“Fine. M’fine,” Cloud says. “You sound different, s’all. Out of breath. Like you’ve been…” He stops himself just in time by clapping a hand over his mouth, eyes widening in horror. Like you’ve been having sex. He had actually been about to say it.

There is a moment’s silence. “I was working out,” Leon says. “Cloud? Have you been drinking?”

“Mmhmm,” Cloud says, into the hand that is still clapped across his mouth.

“Well, listen, why don’t you actually come in? It’s probably easier than talking through the intercomm, right?”

“Mmhm,” Cloud says again. “Be right up.”

Cloud is thinking about Leon working out, about the way the sweat would be sliding over his shoulders and chest, the muscles taut and slick, about him open mouthed and breathing heavily. He makes it half-way up the stairs before he can’t make it any further and sits down on the first floor landing, kneading at the bulge in his jeans. “Leon Leon Leon,” he croons. “Leon Leon Leon,” half talking, half singing.

“Just look at the state of you.”

Cloud opens his eyes. Leon is coming down the second floor stairwell, wearing only a pair of black pants. Cloud stares at the big pectorals and the way Leon’s torso tapers down to a hard narrow column of muscle and realises that he still has his hand in his crotch. “Leon Leon Leon,” he sings, “how are you doing?”

“I’m okay, Cloud, thanks.” Leon is squatting down next to him, a little grin curling one corner of his mouth. “How are you?”

“Better for seeing you,” Cloud says.

“Well, that’s not really all that much of a compliment, given the state your in. Better for being run over by a truck, too, I’d think. Anyway, let me help you up.” Leon lifts Cloud under the armpits, hauls him to his feet, and Cloud stumbles against him, his fingers splayed against Leon’s chest. “Can you walk?”

“Probably. Don’t want to.” Cloud slides his hands around Leon’s chest, over his back, down onto the swell of his ass.

“Cloud?” Leon says questioningly. “What are you doing?”

“Leon, listen, I think you’re really hot,” Cloud says, and bursts out laughing, as if he’s just made a great joke, and grabs Leon’s face is his slick palms and kisses him, hard and hot, spit and tongues and desperation all mixed up in their mouths.

“Whoa! Whoa!” Leon breaks away, trying to take a step backward, but Cloud is still clinging on to him and Leon is supporting both of their body weights. “Cloud, slow down. What’s going on?”

“Sex, I hope,” Cloud says. He pushes himself up against Leon. “Want me to suck your dick?”

“Oh my god,” Leon breathes.

“Z’at a yes?”

“How much have you had to drink?”

“A lot.” Somewhere in his head his normal everyday taciturn self is saying what the fuck do you think you’re doing? what happened to not looking like a jerk? but his drunk insistent horny self doesn’t care. He wants Leon, has wanted him ever since he opened the door and saw him standing on the steps, ever since he had jerked himself off over the manga, imagining that he was Yuuen and Leon was Emba. Drunk insistent horny Cloud wants the muscles that he can feel rolling under Leon’s skin to be pressed against him, wants to feel them trembling as Leon comes, wants to hear Leon’s breathless voice in his ear as Leon shoves him roughly up against the wall and takes him, wants to hear his name a sigh in Leon’s throat, to hear himself moaning Leon’s name.

Cloud slides his fingers into Leon’s crotch, feels the length of him straining under his gym pants, rubs hard.

“Shit!” Leon gasps. “Cloud, I…. Stop, stop,” as Cloud begins to fumble at Leon’s waistband, “stop, Cloud.”

Cloud’s mouth is pressed against Leon’s chest, the sweat drying on him salty on his tongue. He brings his teeth together over one nipple and sucks, moving his hand again as Leon’s breath hisses in and catches in his throat, fingers in Cloud’s hair, half pulling him in, half pushing him back.

“Cloud! Stop!” Leon pushes him away, catches him as he stumbles against the wall. “What are you thinking?”

Cloud is thinking about Leon’s skin on his tongue, his fingers tangled in his hair, the smell of his sweat and his breath hot in his mouth. About Leon’s hips in his hands and dick in his mouth and the feel of every single molecule in Leon’s body trembling as Cloud sucked the come out of him and Leon cried Cloud stop don’t god stop don’t stop stop don’t stop…

“What are you thinking?” Leon says again. “Come on, let me take you upstairs.” Stepping away from him, holding out a hand, ready to catch him if he falls.

“I think you’re incredible,” Cloud says, and grins, an embarrassed, sloppy, sideways grin. “I think you’re amazing. I think you’re the hottest thing’vever seen in my life. I haven’t bn able to stop thinking bout you since th day I met you.”

Leon looks at him. He has known that this moment was coming, ever since he’d pressed the buzzer that first day and the door had opened on the blushing blond kid fiddling with the ends of his hair; ever since he’d stood there wearing a towel and seen Aerith and Tifa looking approvingly at his naked torso and Cloud looking anywhere but. It had been the only thing that had put him off moving in, the incredible fog of sexual tension that clung to Cloud like a flock of starlings. It was pretty clear to Leon right away that Cloud either didn’t know he was gay, or knew he was but hadn’t admitted it to anyone. And then there had been the one night when only he and Tifa had been in and she had told him about Zack, and everything had more or less fallen into place.

“So what do you think?” Tifa had asked him.

“I think he needs to find a man he’s hot for,” Leon had said.

“Oh good,” Tifa had said. “Me too,” raising an eyebrow at him.

It had taken most of Leon’s willpower not to take advantage of Cloud, and god alone knew there had been opportunity after opportunity, Cloud seeming to turn up pretty much wherever Leon was, a constant scowling taciturn presence, always there in the background, never making a move. It was almost as if Cloud was Leon’s punishment – because Leon had been forced to admit to himself pretty quickly that Cloud was closer to his ideal than anyone had ever been. It was as though someone had boiled Zell down and poured him into a mould shaped after Leon’s imagination and then slapped a coat of resentment, vulnerability and need over the top, just in case Leon still thought he was able to resist.

And now here he was, in front of him, too drunk to know what he was doing, practically begging Leon to have sex with him.

“Let me take you upstairs,” Leon says again, hating himself.

“No,” Cloud says, and pushes Leon against the cold concrete wall of the stairwell, drags his fingernails along the side of Leon’s neck, bites him on the shoulder. “Want me to suck you off?” he whispers into Leon’s ear.

Cloud is down on his knees before Leon can tell him not to, and in his heart of hearts Leon doesn’t want to stop him. Cloud has his dick in his mouth and Leon is trying to say “Cloud, stop, you’re drunk, don’t” but it’s just coming out as a little whining noise in his throat. And Cloud is drunk and Cloud is horny and Cloud has wanted Leon for too long to care about what might happen afterwards and he is still thinking about Leon’s hips in his hands and dick in his mouth and the feel of every single molecule in Leon’s body trembling as he sucks the come out of him and Leon shouting Cloud stop don’t god stop don’t stop stop don’t stop… And somehow magically it seems to have come true.

“Will you fuck me now?” Cloud says, pulling away from Leon and getting to his feet. Leon has his eyes closed, and he is panting like he was when he answered the buzzer.

“Oh, Cloud,” he says, “just come upstairs. You’re drunk, and I don’t want to have to find another apartment when you remember what you did.”

“Won’t remember,” Cloud says. “Never ‘member what I do when I’m drunk.”

“That’s not really a reason, though, is it?” Leon frowns. “Look, Cloud, I think it’s pretty obvious that I like you, and there can’t really be any doubt that you like me, but I don’t want to take advantage of you.”

“Want you to, though,” Cloud says. “Ev’ry way you can think of”. He steps forward and pushes himself up against Leon again, dick hard in his pants. Leon takes a breath and grabs hold of his shoulders.

“No,” he says. “Come on. Time to stop this.” Cloud can feel Leon trembling, and struggles against him for a moment, but Cloud is drunk and Leon is sober and he’s stronger than Cloud anyway. Leon half-carries him up the stairs, Cloud’s arm over his shoulder, his around Cloud’s waist, and gets him into the apartment. “Water,” he says. “You need to drink water.”

“‘kay” Cloud mutters. “Just sec. Going bathroom.” Weaves away through the room.

For a minute or two there is silence, and then Leon hears Cloud vomiting. “Damn,” he mutters into the silence that follows. “Don’t let him have locked the door.”

Luckily, he hasn’t. Leon finds Cloud slumped under the hand basin, vomit slopped over the edge and dripping into his hair. “Damn,” Leon says again, and lifts Cloud up off the floor, frowning at the dead weight of him, grimacing at the acrid smell of his vomit and the sight of it smeared across Cloud’s shirt and trousers. “Hey!” he calls, and gives Cloud a gentle shake. “You in there?”

Cloud opens a bleary eye. “Sorry,” he mumbles. “Gon’ puke ‘gain”. Leon gets him over the toilet just in time, holds his shaking shoulders as he dry heaves into the bowl, tries to keep his hair out of the lines of bile drooling from the corners of his mouth.

When it’s over, Cloud sits on the bathroom floor, not meeting Leon’s eyes. “Sorry,” he mutters again.

“Feel better now?” Leon says.

Cloud nods. “Need a shower.” He gestures to himself, vomit-flecked and reeking, and clambers to his feet, pulling at his shirt buttons.

“Okay,” Leon says. “Be careful. I’m going to get dressed.”


Half an hour later the shower is still running, but Leon can’t hear any other sounds at all. With a sigh, he opens the bathroom door and sees Cloud sitting under the stream of water, fully clothed except that his pants are around his ankles, water dripping into his open mouth off the ends of his hair. His eyes are closed, but he is breathing, bubbles forming and bursting on his lip.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Leon says and turns the water off.

Cloud is soaking wet. Leon takes his shoes and socks off, and then pulls the sodden pants over his feet. Cloud’s shirt is still plastered with vomit, but Leon takes a hold of the hem and pulls it up over his head, Cloud’s arms flapping. Leon drapes Cloud’s arms over his shoulders and lifts him up.

“What’re you doing?” Cloud says.

“Oh, you’re awake,” Leon starts to say, but only manages “Oh” before Cloud has pushed him back against the wall of the cubicle and kissed him, tongue deep in his open mouth. Cloud tastes of vomit, and under that of semen, and Leon tries to push him away but Cloud is nearly naked and Cloud is slippery and Cloud is desperate and in the confined space of the shower cubicle Leon can’t stop him.

“Take your clothes off,” Cloud pants as he comes out of the kiss to breathe, and turns the water back on as Leon starts to protest. Cloud is tugging at Leon’s belts, a little needy whine in his throat, pulling Leon’s hips into him, bending to bite the soft skin on his abdomen.

“Shit!” Leon splutters into the water that is jetting into his face. “Okay, okay, wait!”

But Cloud won’t wait. Somehow he has Leon’s clothes off and has Leon’s hands in his, pressing them against his chest, his face, his dick. Leon has never seen Cloud in anything less than boxers and a t-shirt, and the sight of him and the feel of him has him hard in seconds. Cloud’s mouth is everywhere on Leon, in his neck, against his throat, biting the bony protrusions of his hips, and Leon is so hard that it hurts and Cloud’s mouth is everywhere and Cloud’s hands are everywhere, pulling at Leon, coaxing Leon, desperate for Leon until he turns Cloud round and pushes him up against the cold tiles on the wall and fucks him, one arm around Cloud’s waist pulling him back, the other pulling on his dick until Cloud comes, hard and shouting with his lips mashed against the wet tiles.

– x X x –

When Cloud wakes up the next morning, every single part of him hurts. Once he can finally bring himself to open his eyes, there is a moment when he can’t work out for the life of him where he is. And then someone says “morning”, very quietly, and kisses him. And Cloud starts to remember.

onediagonalscar: (Default)


Leon glances up from his book, sees Cloud silhouetted in the doorway, his face lost in shadow, black wing blocking out the last of the twilight. He clambers to his feet, laying the book down on the sidetable, a slip of paper marking his place; rolls the stiffness from his shoulders.

"Any good?"

Leon can't tell if Cloud's query is genuine, so he just shrugs, waiting. Cloud's wing beats gently against the air, clawed hand clattering against the door frame.

Leon waits, but Cloud doesn't speak, just stands there in the doorway against the light. Leon can't read his expression, because his face is lost in shadow, but he can hear his breathing, quick and hard, and he can feel the hammering of his own heart, hard and heavy. He turns away from the door, just in case Cloud can see, and shrugs again.

"Just and old training manual. Nothing special." He lays a hand on the book; feels the embossed letters under his fingers; feels his fingers trembling. "So…"

"I'll be gone for a while," Cloud says. His cloak catches the last of the failing light as he turns, dark as heartblood.

Leon lets out the breath he hadn't known he'd been holding and turns back to face the emptiness where Cloud had been.

Hercules had brought him to them, bloodied and unconcious. Aerith had nursed him, stripped him and bathed him and rubbed salves into the long lacerations Cerberus had left in his flesh; bound his wounds and watched with a slight frown creasing her forehead as the healing spells took effect. "Watch him," she'd said to Leon, and Leon had watched, whenever he wasn't fighting the heartless. Through the long days when Cloud lay as still and pale and empty as the spring sky; through the long nights with only the shallow rasp of his breathing - almost too soft for Leon to hear - to show that he was still alive.

In spite of all of Aerith's efforts, Cloud's wounds had festered and he'd grown feverish. She'd stayed with him when she could, but Traverse Town was full of the sick, the homeless, the hopeless, and Aerith was needed everywhere. "Watch him, Leon," she'd said again, and Leon had watched, all through the terrible night when Cloud, burning with the heat of a thousand suns, sat upright in the bed, wide eyed and wild, blind and staring with the tears pouring down his face, the words pouring out of him. Leon had listened, and most of it he hadn't understood, but even so he had understood that it was nothing that Cloud meant any man to ever hear. So he had sat with him through the endless night while the fever danced Cloud along the brink of existence; had held him while he sobbed; had sat unflinching from the blows that rained around his head as Cloud called him the names of all the angels. And when, finally, the fever broke, and Cloud had lapsed back into unconciousness, Leon had refused to leave.

Cloud watches from the roof as Leon heads out into Traverse Town. At night, lit by the soft glow of the lamps and the firelight behind the myriad windows, the little town looks like heaven, it's scars softened and its wounds hidden. Darkness hides a million sins, Cloud thinks, smiling grimly at the irony as he climbs down to the street and softly opens the door.

The book is lying where Leon left it. He picks it up with his own hand, lifting it into the light of the lamp that Leon had left burning. "Let's see," he mutters.

The cover is the rusty red of dried blood, and most of it is taken up by the title, embossed into the leather around a design he can't quite make out. Cloud runs a metalled finger over the ridges and hollows, frowning as he struggles to decipher the title. "Just an old training manual," he mutters, and lets the book fall open at the slip of paper Leon had placed in it.

"O you whom I often and…" his voice fades to nothing as he reads, lips moving silently on the words. He stands for a long while once he has finished reading, feeling the coarse paper under his fingers, staring at nothing, a small flicker of fear guttering alive inside him.


May. 24th, 2016 12:37 pm
onediagonalscar: (Default)

Chapter One

The butt-end of November, and Leon shivers through another Thanksgiving. Not that there's a fucking thing to be thankful for that he can see, as he sits smoking on the steps of the centre, watching the bums come shuffling up for their place in the kitchen line, the next tatty paper plate from the stack bending under the weight of mashed potato; scabs of cranberry sauce congealing. Unless perhaps it's that he isn't one of them.

The first really cold day of the year, the kind of cold that fingers its way under clothes and through flesh and into bone, and no matter how many layers, the cold still gets in. Truly cold, and the thin paper of his hand-rolled cigarette sticks to his lip, tearing as he pulls it away - or is it his skin? - too cold to tell until he feels the tang of his own warm blood running into his mouth. Leon spits scarlet into the street.

Behind him at the top of the steps a scuffle breaks out in the line. One guy with a face like Medusa aware of her own impending fate…

"He's coming for you," Euryale whispers.
"He wants your head," Stheno laughs.
"Fair-cheeked Medusa thinks he'll love her," Euryale says, toying with a lock of her sister's hair, stilling the angry hissing with her fingers.
"Poor little Medusa." Stheno hangs her head. "Always had to be the pretty one."
"The mortal one."
"The dead one."

– patchy clumps of beard not disguising the sebum rash that blooms across his cheeks - is swinging the three-quarters-empty bottle of Thunderbird up above his head, mouthing inarticulate noise at the older man who has his hand buried in hair matted into snakes by years of neglect; pulling his head back like Perseus reaching for the bottle.

Leon is about to go and break them up when he sees her. Just for a moment, as he turns his head towards the couple fighting on the steps; just a shadow in the winter darkness crouching among the boxes piled in the alley's mouth across the street. Only a movement, and perhaps it's just a flap of sacking nailed across a broken window or a dog rooting through the trash. Anyone else would just shrug and pass it off, but Leon knows better. She's been there for a couple of days now, sometimes hidden in the gloom of the alley, sometimes just a lump under a colourless blanket in the doorway of the Brake and Body down the street, and once he had caught sight of her disappearing over the edge of the drugstore roof. Always not quite there, just out of sight, vanishing around corners.

Behind him, the homeless guys are still brawling, the fight spreading through the line which is collapsing into a milling knot of open mouths and shouting. Leon pushes through them into the kitchen, a word growled as he passes, and they quieten. Everyone who has been to the centre twice knows Leon; everyone who comes for the first time finds out soon enough that it is better to be his friend than his enemy. Too many withered husks of men have blown into the centre with nothing but their tough-guy act to protect them, and too many of them have suffered too much under the cruel heel of fate to have anything to offer each other but violence. The one's who listen to Leon's quiet words are the one who come back.

Grabbing a styrofoam cup of the scalding black stuff that passes for coffee from the counter, he turns back and walks out into the street, heading for the alley. He wants to ask her if she's okay, if she doesn't want someone to take her over to the women's shelter on Franklin, to get out of the morning's chill, into the warm.

But by the time he reaches the mouth of the alley all that is there to meet him is the wind in the litter and the sound of her footsteps fading. Like always. Gone before he can talk to her.

Leon doesn't know why she sticks in his mind, this girl who he has barely seen, most of her lost in shadow, her face barely visible between the wing of dark hair and the serpent coils of scarf around her throat.

Tifa doesn't know where he is. She'd lost him somewhere outside Arviat and has been tracking him for months, following the rumour of him as he moved along a great southward arc - Manitoba, Ontario, Michigan, Indiana. Always too late; wherever she was he'd been and gone; the trail almost cold. She thought she had him in Elkhart, but the wino in Edge Water Park only wanted to keep her around long enough to knock her over the back of the head while her guard was down, drag her into the trees, do whatever it was he was still capable of doing to her. Idiot. As if she ever let her guard down. But by the time she was done convincing the drunk of his error he was gone, if he'd ever been there at all. Downriver. South Bend. I-90 and out, anywhere from here to Seattle.

But a stroke of luck in Gary, of all the godforsaken places, because some kids had seen him out by Marquette Park; had come across him sleeping behind the Aquatorium, half dead from the cold and the steady diet of nothing he'd been living on. They'd hung out with him for while, they said, shared Red Bull and Casper Disasters, Nollie Impossibles, before he'd just sort of slunk away towards the Calumet River, the Buchanan Street railyards. Heading for the city, they said.

"Why's everyone looking for him, anyways?" one of them called after her as she headed towards the highway and she looked back, Lot's wife, frozen.

"What?" Running, kid lifted by the lapels, pinned to the wall of the pavilion, heels kicking against the fake stone.

"Fuck! Fucking psycho! Ah, bitch!" as she tightened her grip.

"Who? Who was looking?"

"Jesus, I don't know!" Gasping, the other kids in a knot, big-eyed and frightened. Egging each other on; holding each other back. "Some other guys. A girl. Some guys. I dunno."



Tifa drops the boy, runs, their shouts and taunts just noise. They're ahead of you. They're going to find him first. Stupid. Stupid of her not to have realised that she wouldn't be the only one trying to find him. How could she have been so stupid? Calm, calm, she tells herself, heart pounding blood loud in her ears. They're only a day ahead of you. No way they can track him down in a day, not in a city that size. Not even them.

But still she is afraid. Afraid of what might happen if they find him. Of what they might do to him. What they might make him do. What they might make him do to her.

Tifa runs.

Three days before Thanksgiving and Leon rides the L home, hating the crowds, hating the noise, the dirt, the battering rattle of the train. He's walked the length of the cars like he always does, looking for the one with the fewest people, the least need to be pushed around by strange flesh, freest from unwanted accidental intimacies of hips and elbows and knees and other people's breath.

He's been seated for a couple of minutes, a miraculous few feet of empty space around him, when the door at the end of the car bangs open and a kid shuffles in. He's bundled up in himself like he doesn't want anyone to see him, head down, hood up, right arm wrapped around his ribs like they hurt him, fist knotted up in front of his other arm, filthy. Leon sees the fist first, dark and dirty and for a moment he thinks it's a glove, until he sees the bright blood welling from the mashed knuckles.

The kid is coming closer, moving along the car, his other hand held out, a stick of wrist pale and grey under the sleeve of the grimy hoodie, palm-up and mumbling "spare a dollar? Hey, spare a dollar?" No-one so much as glances up from their phone; the pretend-sleepers still sleeping; something in StreetWise too absorbing to stop reading for this filthy kid shuffling along the car. "Hey. Spare a dollar?"

He's almost to Leon now, and Leon can smell him. He remembers the street stink only too well, because once upon a time it had wrapped itself around him, a second skin, knowing every nook and crevice of him, rapacious. Thick and dank and cloying, a mixture of grime and unwashed flesh and resignation and the residue of every kick and curse, and only the really hopeless - the ones too badly damaged to ever go back into one piece - ever carry that smell this thickly. "Hey, spare a dollar?"
The outstretched hand is in front of him, and for a moment Leon stares at it. The flesh is almost yellow beneath the dirt, ridged and calloused, the creases on the inside of the knuckles black. The palm is wrapped in a tatty bandage, no cleaner than the hand, and Leon winces at the angry inch of red skin that shows under its edge; shudders to think of what wound it's hiding, at the filth within it; glances up just to not be looking at the bandaged hand.


Even though he's been thinking of him as a kid, he's surprised at just how young the boy looks. The time he's spent at the shelter has taught him to take a good few years off his estimates of anyone's age, but even under the dirty street pallor, the exhaustion and abuse and bad nutrition, this kid only looks about sixteen at the outside. Narrow shoulders pushed up, head sunk in a frozen shrug. Under his hood, his face is half in shadow, but even so Leon can see the bones protruding over the sunken cheeks; eyes too big and too blue, and one of them is gummed half shut. Lank hair cut ragged, every-which-way stiff with dirt, the colour of old piss. Breath a wheezing rattle.

"Spare a dollar?"

Leon looks at him, sees a mirror held up to his past.

"What's your name, kid?" Before he can stop himself, fumbling through his pockets for change.

The kid is silent for a moment, one hand still out, the other knotted up under his armpit, except for the rough rasp of his breath. "My name?" as though no-one has asked him for so long that he has to think about it.

"Yeah, your name." There's about four dollars in quarters and dimes, and Leon dumps most of it in the kid's bandaged hand.

"Thanks." The kid turns away, knobs of spine visible through the fabric of his jacket; shuffles away down the car, invisible to everyone but Leon.

Under the bed it is dark, and she wants light more than she has ever wanted anything. In the quiet all she can hear is the panicked tumble of her heart, the blood rasping in her ears, the breath hot and shallow in her throat. So loud that she is certain he must hear, and she stuffs the back of her hand back between her teeth, biting down on the meat behind her thumb.

In the next room she hears the muffled scrape of a chair leg pushed back over the linoleum, hears him say "so… where were we?" and then someone starts screaming. She thinks it might be Belle, but she can't be sure. No-one else is making a sound and maybe some of them are hiding but probably they are all already dead. She knows that Jasmine and Alice are, because she had listened as their curses and threats had turned to terror; to noises she had never imagined a person could make, and then to silence. She has hidden in the dark for she doesn't know how many hours, listening to him take her friends out of the room one by one, listening to him kill them.

He had seemed so nice when Shiki had first brought him home, smartly dressed in an expensive-looking suit and with his shoes polished. Not the greatest conversationalist, but Shiki didn't seem to care, and who could blame her, really? He had fairly quickly become a favourite of all of them, and Shiki didn't seem to mind that, either. Vincent, his name was. Vincent Valentine, and Rhyme had rolled her eyes skyward.

He and Shiki had been to the Shipyard Inn after her shift in the Emergency Room had ended, and she had brought him back to the townhouse on East 100th Street around eleven. They were already both half drunk, Shiki hanging off his arm and laughing at his increasingly improbable stories.

Shiki had been laughing since he had first come in to the Emergency Room, a week ago, looking for his brother. There wasn't anyone that fit his description, she knew that straight off, but Shiki had kept him talking while she pretended to check through the admissions records because he looked so nice and had the loveliest eyes and his smile was so charming.

"Wait!" she had called out, regretting every step he took away from the triage desk. With no idea of what she was going to say next.

He had turned in the exit, stepping back as a burly man shouldered through the swinging doors. "If he comes in…" she had stammered.

His smile had broadened. "I'll come back," he said.

And he had come back, every day, and his brother had never been admitted. She had asked him if he had checked the other hospitals, and of course he had, and the idea of him waiting in other ER's, flicking his fringe out of his eyes as he chatted with other nurses, didn't trouble her one bit. Not at all. Because she hadn't dared ask him about himself, she had asked him about his brother.
"He ran away," he had said, and the expression on his face had been like none she had ever seen. "He's not… uh, well, he's not…" he paused. "Let's just say he couldn't pour water out of a boot with the instructions on the heel."

"Is he dangerous?" she had asked, not quite sure what he meant, and he had shaken his head.

"Only to himself. It's happened before. He wanders off, gets himself into some scrape, winds up in a hospital or jail. I just want to find him before something really bad happens."

But he hadn't found him, at least as far as Aqua knew, and something really bad was happening. She closes her eyes in the darkness under the bed, in case it means she won't have to hear what he's doing to Belle.

to becontinued....
onediagonalscar: (Default)

It was Riku who had noticed her first, just a shadow moving through shadows, dogging their steps as Leon moved them through the ruins of another shattered town. When they pitched camp that night, Leon had broken his own rule and taken morning watch himself, slipping out from under Riku’s arm, creeping away quietly to avoid waking him up. Riku was afraid of the dark.

And it had been around five a.m., when the little fire he had lit in the hollow of rocks outside the camp had burned down to a low glow, that she had appeared. Leon didn’t know how long she’d been there, watching him from the encroaching gloom beyond the fading firelight, and it was only when he had clambered wearily to his feet and stooped to place more wood on the embers that he had seen her, motionless behind six feet of steel that glinted softly as the flames began to lick along the log.

Her name, it turned out, was Cloud, and her story was a fair echo of their own: returning home after the Devestation to find the people scattered and the place destroyed. Unlike them she had stayed, living among the ruined buildings, waiting to see what happened, and they were the first thing that had. She’d wanted to know about them, who they were, where they were going, what they hoped to find, and Leon – usually so taciturn – had found himself wanting to tell her, about the guilt he carried and about his failure and about how he had promised himself that he would take care of everything from now on. She had looked at him for a long moment and asked him who was taking care of him.

Dawn was lightening the horizon. Leon took her back to camp with him, and when they moved on that day she went with them. Only Riku didn’t like her. But then Riku didn’t like anybody.

She learnt their ways quickly, and whatever she thought of the rag-bag of waifs and cast-offs she kept pretty much to herself. More and more, Leon found that whenever he glanced up from whatever he was doing he would find Cloud watching him, and whenever she saw him see she would hold his gaze for a moment, not smiling. Leon knew that she wasn’t fooled when Riku wandered nonchalantly away from the camp and Leon slipped off in a different direction; that she saw Riku come limping back alone; heard him cry himself to sleep as Leon held him under the blanket. More and more often, when Riku would wake up in the night, wide-eyed, all hands and mouth and fierce desperation, Leon would feel Cloud’s eyes on him.

He had forgotten how quietly she could move. Like normal, Leon had arranged the watch rota so that it was Riku who relieved him. At first it had been another opportunity for them to fuck, but pretty soon it had become apparent to Leon that Riku couldn’t spend four hours in the dark on his own anyway, and the only way of making the others think the boy was taking his turn was if he stayed with him.

“Can’t carry no dead weight!” Barrett had snapped, and everyone knew that that was pretty much what Riku was. Good at your back in a fight, but other than that the boy was a liability. Cracked, and the cracks were showing.

“Thinking about him again, huh?”

Leon looked up with a start. Cloud was standing a few feet away, leaning on her sword, watching him in the pale light of the dying fire.

“Mind wandering?”

Leon nodded. “I guess.” He paused, waiting for the woman to speak, but she stayed silent, staring at him.

“Did you want something?” He said at last.

“It’s a shame, you know,” Cloud said, and squatted down on the ground in front of him. “And a waste. A man like you. The things I could do with a man like you.”

“What are you….?” Leon started to say, stuttering into silence as the swordswoman placed the flat of a hand against his belly.

“You and me,” she muttered into his ear, leaning her weight against him, breasts flattened against his chest, fingers tangled in the belts draped around his hips.

“Wait!” Leon protested, but the belts had fallen away under her fingers and she had slipped a hand into his trousers, long fingers curling around his stiffening dick. “Wait,” he said again, weakly, as Cloud pulled him free of his clothes.


“Such a pity,” she murmered, dragging her fist up his dick as she pulled her lips away from his ear and hunkered down over him. “The things I could do for you.”

Leon groaned, the slow drag of her gloved palm almost unbearable over his exposed glans. “Don’t…”

“Don’t?” Cloud raised an eyebrow, the motion of her fist not slowing. “Is he that good? What does he do to you, then, that you think I can’t do better?” She glanced up momentarily, grinning, saliva’d lips gleaming in the firelight. “Tell me.” Bent forward, ran the tip of her tongue across his balls, up the underside of the shaft.

“He n… ah!” Leon gasped as Cloud took him in her mouth, tonguing him as she sucked. “Needs me to look affffuck!” as she slid forward down him, burying her nose in his hair. “After him,” he whispered.

Cloud came off him, kneading him again in her fist. “And what about you? Who looks after you?”

Leon shook his head. “I can look after myself.”

“You’re doing a good job of pretending not to care,” Cloud grinned. “But,” and glanced down as his straining dick, dark with his driven blood, silvered with saliva, “you’re full of shit.”

“He needs me,” Leon said again, bucking his hips involuntarily into the rhythm of Cloud’s hand.


“He…. ah! He does!”

“He’s using you to punish himself.” Somehow, she’d shrugged her way out of her top, still wrapped in the ragged red cloak she always wore. She was – and Leon hardened as he saw it – lean and strong, long muscles honed by hardship, boyish but for the swell of her breasts. “Like that, huh?” a little smile twisted at the corner of her mouth as she felt him stiffening under her hand. “Here’s something he can’t do.”

She placed the tip of Leon’s dick against the underside of her breasts, letting the weight of them rest there for a moment, grinning again as Leon strained involuntarily upwards. Taking hold of herself in both hands, Cloud leant forward, pressing together and down.

“Ah….. shit…..” Leon gasped, his breath hissing out between his clenched teeth. “Fuck! That’s … Ah! Fuck, that’s…”

Once – not so long ago in months and years; a lifetime ago in his experience – when he had been just a boy, there had been a girl, and he had thought the strange troubling sensations in his belly and throat when she was nearby might be love, and once when his friends had pushed him blushing and reluctant onto the floor and he had had to ask her to dance with him she had said “Oh! Yes!” in a little voice that sounded surprised and happy. She had leant against him as she reached up to peck a little kiss on his cheek and her breasts had pressed against his bare forearm and he had almost recoiled in surprise at the strange alien feeling of them, so unlike any part of his own body, soft and firm and yielding and heavy and cool. And they had danced and she had kissed him again and run off laughing, and later that night Leon had lain in his bed, remembering the press of her breasts against his bare forearm as he jerked off, strange and magnetic and repellent and incredible.

“Fuck!” he groaned again, as Cloud began to move more quickly, moving her heavy breasts up and down the length of him.

“You like that?” She tucked her chin in against her neck and drooled a long chain of saliva onto the head of Leon’s dick as it thrust out between her breasts, glancing up at him from under her hair, smiling at the sight of him with his eyes tight shut and head back, pulse jumping erratically under the curve of his jaw.

“Fuck, yes!” Leon muttered, “fuck yes!” He was trembling now, his hips jerking spasmodically as he thrust without rhythm. “Fuck…. Fuck… F…uh! haahh!” Three gouts of come splattered across Cloud’s face as Leon bucked wildly under her.

“See” Cloud said, clambering to her feet and wiping at her face, “it’s not so bad is it? Being the one being taken care of every once in a while?”

Wordlessly, Leon shook his head. Behind him, he could hear the sound of someone making their way towards them through the trees. Alarmed, he turned towards Cloud, but the swordswoman was already gone, melting into the darkness. Hurriedly, Leon cleaned himself off and lay back, waiting for Riku to arrive. It was going to be a long night.

onediagonalscar: (Default)
~Prolegomena To Any Future Redemption~

Afterwards, Riku lay on the mattress staring into the beam of dust and sunlight that was the bare room’s only illumination.

That’s us, he thought. Dust and sunlight. Even now, it still felt wrong, thinking of himself in that way, as a part of something. Me, You. Always me, and you. But us? How can we be us?

For nearly a year now, Riku has been alone, a me without either a you or an us, and he had quite deliberately set himself apart from the world, apart from everyone and everything that threatened him. Alone, he could be strong. Apart from the world, no doubts could assail him, no ties of friendship could trick him into weakness; into failing; into darkness. And now this.

Propping himself on one elbow he looked down at the silhouetted figure sleeping beside him. Through the gloom he could only see the long tangled hair where the light caught its gloss, sparking in the dark. Brown, in this light it was raven-dark.

Can it be real? Riku sighed, and glanced back into the stream of sunlight. Is it really you making me feel like this? Like a million motes of dust dancing in a beam of golden light? Squinting, he pushed the silver hair out of his eyes, shaking his head. What did you do? How did you do this to me? I should hate you…

The figure on the mattress shifted and sat up; a thin sheet falling away from a shoulder blotched with red crescents. Riku stared at the fading marks, aghast.

Are those my teeth? What was I doing?

“You bit me again.” Knowing blue-green eyes; hollow eyes; sharp-faced; eyes that darkened now in the presence of pain; of Riku’s pain.

“Riku.” A strong hand closed on the boy’s shoulder, raised like a shield between him and whatever this was. Riku gave a start.

“Riku, please… let me try… I really think you should…”

“Shut up!” A sudden savage kiss silenced the speaker. Shut up! Don’t make me! Don’t! Just do what I need and shut up!

The ferocity of Riku’s need was frightening, and for a moment Leon fought against it, but only for a moment.

“It’s okay,” he murmured, “it’s okay”. But the wire-taut, breaking-point tension in the boy told him it was anything but.

Afterwards, Riku dreamt of yellow-eyed, empty-eyed faces; lush-lipped; the taste of rot in their mouths; empty, darkened, shadow creatures; heartless.

“It’s raining again,” Leon turned away from the window, tightening the straps around his forearm. “They’ll be out soon.”

“I know.” Riku shrugged. “I’ve been smelling them for an hour now.”

Leon frowned. “You really smell them?” He reached out towards the scowling boy, taking the thin chin in his gloved hand and tilting it back, peering into the glacial blue eyes that glowered from under the silver hair. Ice and ice and ice and ice; a mantra tied into his heartbeat.

“No,” Riku shook his head, shuddering as he felt the rough drag of the gloved hand slide across his cheek. “Not really. It’s not a smell.”

“Then how…?” Leon dropped his gaze. Let me in, Riku; let me help you. Had his eyes always been this colour? Leon tried to remember the first time he had seen the boy – it seemed like an eternity ago. Had his eyes been this cold then? But rather than how the boy had looked, Leon remembered the feeling of encountering him. It had been as though a vast and powerful machine had suddenly begun spinning; as if the two of them were standing in the silent eye of an insane shrieking hurricane; like a maddening electric charge building up in the empty air. A sound so loud it could not be heard, but which numbed the senses, silenced the senses; a blasting turbine roaring.

“How do you think?” Riku sneered, and yet again Leon was reminded of another boy, scarcely older than this one; an emotionally deadened, introverted boy, whose only goal was to go through life alone, and free; a boy called Squall. It had taken the love of a soul greater than his own to show him that his detachment, his defence against pain, was not a crutch but a shackle, and now – faced with this distorted mirror of his younger self – he wanted desperately to help Riku see the same thing.

“I don’t know.” Leon shook his head.

“Because they’re here!” Riku jabbed an arm towards Leon, catching him with stiff fingers in the pit of his stomach. “And here!” His other hand shot forward, but this time Leon was ready, and caught him around the wrist. “And here,” Riku poked himself between the eyes, “and here”, whispering now, and thumping himself over the heart. “Because they’re inside me, Leon. Because I was weak and stupid and… and I tried to use them and they took everything from me and took hold of me and they ate my heart!”

Still holding onto Riku’s wrist, Leon pulled the boy towards him and held him trembling against his chest. “But you beat them, Riku,” he murmured. “They took you and they tricked you and they used you, and you beat them. You, a boy, against the whole lot. They thought you were weak – all of them – and you beat them all. They tried to control you and use you and defile you, and despite everything they did to you, you survived. You survived, Riku.”

“Do you think you know about it?” Riku muttered, and pulled away. “Used me? I let them! I wanted them! I wanted to know that there was more than that island and I was so stupid and jealous and hurt that I believed everything they told me. I believed them! How could I have listened to them, Leon? Even then I knew they were lying, but I wanted what they said they could give me, so I believed. And do you know what? When they had me, I enjoyed it! When I wasn’t me, when that was me”, he spat the word out, as if it tasted of filth, “I felt more alive than I’ve ever felt. The darkness, Leon… oh, you can’t imagine how it feels. To have that in you and to know it and to use it, it’s like nothing else you could ever know.” Except… the unspoken thought… dust, and sunlight… “And imagine… imagine knowing that you have to give it up, whether you want to or not, and then… oh, then, when you finally decide to be rid of it, come what may… imagine learning that you can’t! I can’t get it out of me, Leon!”

“It doesn’t matter.” Leon looked at the boy, who was shaking with a pent-up fury and despair. “So what if you can’t? Who can? The important thing is that you beat it. Even though you wanted it, and asked for it, and enjoyed it, you learnt from it, and rejected it, and beat it.”

Riku stood looking at him in silence for a long moment. “No. You don’t get it. There’s no going back now.”

“So let’s go forward.” Leon picked up a long black coat from the untidy heap of clothing on the floor and held it out towards Riku. “Come on. There’s still Heartless to kill.”

Utter silence. A deserted city, illuminated by a thousand lighted windows and the neon reflecting off the relentless, senseless rain. A dark city, flat and colourless in the steel-grey glare of light on water. Nothing moving except the rain falling. And then, a figure.

A dark figure; hooded, silent, centred. Blindfolded. Walking out into the silent soaking streets.

A world without you.

A small, quiet smile, of infinite regret. A movement like lightning, and in the same instant the empty streets were full, the darkness roiling into life from out of the dancing water.

Above him, images he could not stand to see and could not hope to forget projected on screens that brightened the night. Images that taunted and accused him; that took the tattered remnants of his heart and twisted them into choking knots; acrid, bitter knots of guilt and loathing. Around him, the hate and emptiness made manifest; a hundred thousand hollow dancing fragments of what he was, what he chose to be, mocking him with vacant yellow eyes.

The eyes will close.

And so, again, on night after endless night, a savage ballet, the choreography of his self-loathing and redemption. After months without feeling, or of feeling only pain, he had discovered a way to a new sensation. A delirious abandon that came from slaughter, that came from giving himself utterly to the acrid joy of destruction. Blind and blindfolded, uncaring, made untouchable by his scorn. Night after night, carving a path through the rain. Through the heartless. A path towards…

Behind the Darkness, a door to the Light. The secret place. A world between. A forgotten world. The End of the World. Maybe our journey meant nothing after all…

His voice… it’s left me. This time… I’ll fight.

This time, someone else was there.

After an unguessable time alone, Riku – blinded still by hate, and blindfolded – had sensed someone there among the emptiness. At first it had appeared to him only as an absence, or rather as a lack of absence. He knew where the emptiness was, without seeing it, for it was a part of him, and in him, and all around him. And it was all there was. Until this new thing appeared, this shape, moving through the darkness. An unthinkable thing; a forgotten, almost undreamt-of, unbelievable thing. A heart.

He’d fled from it. A heart! He had embraced his own emptiness; chosen to live with his own sacrifice; had learned to feed on the guilt and pain. He had become resolved to never again not being alone. And now this. This heart, this beating, living heart. Leon.

And once he was there, Leon seemed to be always there. Alongside him, killing with him, as if he too came with the rains. And although Riku ran from him, wherever he ran, there was Leon. Never coming near him, never acknowledging him, never speaking. Just, there.

What do you want from me? Riku screamed silently into the rain, as more and ever more heartless fell beneath his need to feel something other than pain. The scoriating drive of killing was a euphoria; but beneath it a new feeling was growing.

Beneath the emptiness, Riku knew that Leon was there for him. Almost never did he allow himself to hope that this strange unlooked-for protagonist could feel his pain; that he would be able to understand it, lead him through it, succour it. For admitting to that hope meant risking opening a door that he had thought sealed forever. Admitting the possibility of healing meant loosening the chains he had bound about himself; meant allowing the chance of friendship, and with it the chance of loss. And he was not sure that loss was a thing he could bear again.

And yet, far more than he dared to hope even in his most desperate of weak moments, Leon’s thoughts were of Riku. Ever since he had found him, blinded by despair and blindfolded, Leon knew that Riku needed him, and that he needed Riku. Beyond anything, he wished that this tormented, anguished boy would accept him as his friend; would sense in him his opposite and completion. Leon longed to see into Riku’s heart, to heal it, and to lead him out of the darkness.

Many things held him back. Most of all he recalled those who had tried to make a favourite of him, their pupil and novice. Often enough, in the academy at Balamb Garden, he had felt the longing eyes of older men upon him, and had countered their proffered friendships with dumb rejections. But he knew that he could help Riku; could bring him some relief from his rage. How can it be wrong? Leon could not still the doubt, but neither could he silence the imagining of Riku’s never-heard, almost unimaginable, clear, untainted laughter, nor the never-felt sensation of his moonlight hair under his hand.

Until, almost inevitably, without either of them having planned it, they stood face to face in the silent soaking streets, surrounded by the still shadows of the heartless they had slain, Riku’s blindfold dancing in his trembling hand like a blackened flag of surrender, tears staining his cheek.

“Don’t be afraid. Weep, it’s alright.” Leon held out a hand to Riku who, unable to reply, fell to his knees. Leon sat on the wet street beside him, holding Riku against him as he shook and sobbed, one arm around his shoulders, the other cradling his head. Riku’s arms encircled his waist, his cheek pressed against Leon’s chest.

Utter silence. Until the roaring of his own blood in his ears and, beneath it, the beating of a living heart. Only then did Riku know what Leon felt for him; that he loved him, and had him in his thoughts; him, the abandoned, vagabond boy. And Riku wept before him, exposed, shamed, unable to speak.

On a whim, Leon took a strand of Riku’s hair and very gently began to twine it into his own, raven-dark in the rain. Riku’s silver lay amongst his like the play of sunlight across water. He felt Riku shift against him, and then his breath against his neck. The muscles of Riku’s back had become rigid, and both of them were trembling. It was, Leon knew, both fear and desire. Slowly he lowered his head and as he felt Riku’s mouth rise and trail across his jawbone he shuddered and then their noses came gently together, and then their mouths opened against each other. For the first time, Riku’s face became wet with another’s tears.

Afterwards, as Leon lead him along the empty street, Riku glanced up at the skyline. There, high above him, where he had not been able to look for so long, the pale flickering images of his lost companions gestured to him, not in censure, as he’d thought, but in entreaty. “I’m sorry, Kairi,” he whispered, and felt Leon’s fingers tighten momentarily around his own. Behind the image of the girl, the first pale beams of sunlight were beginning to break through the clouds.

~The Blind Shall Lead the Blind~
Leon awoke very early from a troubled sleep. He had been dreaming – of what he could not recall – and the dreams had drained him so that he had gained no rest. And now he lay awake in the blackness, trying to breathe the stifling, foetid air filling the room.Lifting himself quietly from the bed he padded across the room, to where the heavy shutters were fastened across the window. Everything about this place was overdone – the concrete walls too thick; the many-windowed buildings too tall; the lights in them too bright. Everything grandiose and looming and portentous, as if plucked from the mind of a narcissistic depressive. It’s the kind of place Squall would’ve loved, he thought, but then he’d be telling me to go talk to the wall.

Freeing the bar, he lifted the shutters to the ground and leaned into the opening, straining for the coolness of the early morning air beyond the room, hoping for some breeze to find its way in and stir the dank stillness. He was already hot, and could feel the sweat beginning to gather at his collarbone. Lifting the shutters had been enough. Waking had been enough. Beyond the window, the rain fell.

Drawing a hand across his chest he turned from the window towards the chair where he had thrown his clothes the night before. Picking through the pile he discarded one by one the black leather things he habitually wore, shuddering at the thought of the thick stuff against his skin. Cursing, he threw the clothes to the floor. His temper shortened daily, as his desperation to escape this heat grew.

Returning to the window he leaned again into the lightening air. The stone sill beneath his hands was damp and warm, as if the room itself were sweating in the oppressive heat. Pressing down on the ledge, he lifted himself over the sill and sat with his legs hanging over the emptiness, gazing over the town spreading below him. A thought came to him: if I were to jump, then there would be a wind. He ran a hand through his tangled hair, feeling a vague irritation at its unfamiliar length. I need to get this finished. I need to be me again.

The wrongness of the place oppressed him. When he’d been a child, in the orphanage in Centra, his one escape had been to wander in the pouring rain; to sit by the pounding ocean staring into the teeth of the storm, and to feel the lash and sting of the gale-driven water cleanse him. Always Edea would find him and scold him, but she knew his name and nature almost better than he did. Exasperated and at once afraid and proud for her dark, brooding charge, she would tell him that he had the breath of spirits in him; that base flesh was no vessel enough for the soul he bore. Cid, hearing this, would pace the floor, worry twisting his face, and tell his wife not to fill the child’s head with such nonsense. He’d just had a rough time of it, he said, and would settle down when he was grown.

Gazing now over the soaking, steaming city below him Leon shuddered, the longing for the cleansing blast of the storm strong upon him. The scouring rain had become more than a comfort for a solitary, moody child: as he grew older and left the orphanage to train in Balamb Garden, he had come to need it as others needed far-off places, or women. And at times like this, times when he was trapped in a place where the air did not move, where the rain just fell, he would fret and rage at himself, feeling the grime and sin of the world about him like a shroud. On occasion he would run until he collapsed, or fight, savage and insane, until, bleeding and sore, he would limp away to nurse his anger in solitude. At these times the names he was called would be terrible, and most of them came from his own mouth.

And now here he was, grown, but not settled, and still the yearning to be out of the room – out of the stillness, into the storm – began to beat in his ribcage like a second heart. A bead of sweat swelled and broke at the base of his throat, coursing slowly downward between the muscles of his chest. Angrily he dashed it away, cringing at the feel of his own slick flesh beneath his fingers. For too long he had been here, in this place where the water just fell from the sky, and where the air never moved.

Suddenly he drew his legs up and turned on the window ledge, dropping lightly back into the room. For a short while he stood motionless in the half-light, his chest rising and falling in rapid, short jerks. Then, crossing to the bed he pulled back the covers and saw what had woken him. Riku was gone.

Cursing himself for a fool, Leon grabbed the coat hanging on the back of the door. His cloak… Even in his anxiety for the boy, Leon was momentarily taken aback. Why would this be here? Surely…

He was surprised at the feel of it. It looked so heavy, like oiled wool, and yet it weighed nothing, as if it were silk. Pressing it against his face, Leon inhaled a great lungful of it’s scent – of Riku’s scent – and pulled it on. The cool cloth brushed against his naked flesh as if there were wind woven into the fabric.

What are you doing? he scolded himself. This is hardly the time to be getting off on his coat! Crossing to the door he pulled it open and hurried from the room.

Descending the dark staircase at the end of the passage, he began to move more carefully, wary of disturbing any of the building’s other occupants. He actually had no idea if the building had any other occupants, but if it did, the chances of them being friendly were rather slight. At the foot of the stair he hesitated, as if uncertain of how to proceed, before crossing to the thick door guarding the front entry to the building. As he pushed it open, the wood clung to his fingers momentarily, before peeling free with ugly slowness. He hands were, he realised, still drenched in sweat, although beneath the coat he was dry.

Stepping out into the street, Leon glanced quickly around. At the feet of the buildings shadows massed, and any of them could be Heartless. But of Riku there was no sign.

But then, there, at the end of the street, a flurry of movement and the flash of neon on steel. Leon’s heart quickened at the sight of the familiar dark figure, the lonely boy surrounded by hordes of squat black shapes, the ringing song of blades.

Wait… blades?

Suddenly Leon was filled with panic. That wasn’t Riku. How could it be Riku? For one thing, he had two keyblades. For another, he was wearing the coat.

“Odd, isn’t it?”

Leon span around. Riku was sitting on the wet ground by the side of the doorway, his back to the building.

“What? I mean… who?”

Riku looked up at him, grinning. “It suits you,” he smirked, “but you can’t keep it. Sorry.” He stood up, and Leon saw that he was naked, and dripping wet.

“What are you doing out here?”

“Watching him,” Riku gestured to where the figure had been. The street was empty again, and there was no sign that anyone had ever been there. “He arrived just before you did. We fought together once or twice. I don’t know who he is.” He looks just like…

Riku’s expression was unreadable, but suddenly it began to crumple, and tears slid down his already wet cheeks. Leon took a step towards him, but the boy shook his head.


Leon hesitated, uncertain.

“You’re pleased I’m like this.”

It was a statement, not a question, and for a moment Leon was dumbstruck. Riku glanced towards him quickly, a small cruel smile twisting at one corner of his mouth.

“What? No! I…” Leon began to protest, but Riku wasn’t looking at him, wasn’t listening.

“You think I deserve it.” Riku’s voice was flat, totally without malice or hurt. “You think that I did it, and that I deserve it. You think it makes me weak and you like it because you think that you can control me because of it. You’re just like everyone else. You’ll abandon me, too.”

“No!” Leon reached for the boy’s shoulder, but Riku shook him off. “I don’t think that! I hate that you feel like this!”

Riku turned away, scowling, and Leon let out a long sigh. “Riku…”

“What?” The boy span around, eyes wide and blazing with glacial intensity. “What, Leon? What do you want from me? Why are you here? I didn’t ask you to come.”

“No.” Leon shook his head. “But I came anyway.”

The small smile flickered again, and this time Leon saw it, and flinched.

“You’re quite the hero, aren’t you? Make a habit of it, do you, saving poor, defenceless, kids from themselves? Does it make you feel better?”

“So what do you think? Do you think you’re the only one who made mistakes? Who can’t forget?” Leon was pale-faced and trembling now, struggling to keep himself under control, wanting more than anything at that moment to drive his fists into the grinning face, to eradicate the challenge and mockery in the smile. “I gave up my name, Riku, because of what I couldn’t do when I was him. When the Heartless came, and took Radiant Garden, I failed, Riku. Everyone who depended on me, I failed, and we lost our homes and our lives and our loves.”

A head of violence was building up in him. All the impatience and rage that he felt, all the guilt and bitterness, was about to spill out of him. In front of this boy, who he thought he had come here to help. Maybe it’s not him that needs helping.

Riku had glanced back to the floor, and was edging uncomfortably forward. “I’m sorry, Leon, I know you’ve been through a lot. But I just don’t understand why you’re here.” He was shaking now, with cold, and emotion.

For you, idiot! Because you make me feel like there’s a future worth building as well as a past to avenge. I love you! Are you stupid? “I’m trying to work out how to make things better.”

“That’s simple though, isn’t it? Don’t we just kill the evil guys?”

We… “It’s more complex than you think. An enemy that’s pure evil only exists in children’s stories. Right and wrong aren’t what separate us and our enemies; it’s our different standpoints, our perspectives that separate us. Both sides blame one another. There’s no good or bad side. Just two sides holding different views.”

Leon paused, and shook the sodden hair out of his eyes. “And I can’t believe that you’re doing this to me now! We’ll catch our deaths out here. Are you trying to get us killed?”

Riku grinned. “No. I just like seeing you in that coat.”

Leon shook his head. “Well, I’ll wear it for you, then, but you’re going to look very odd in my jacket.”

“Oh, I don’t know. You’re not that much bigger than me, old man.” Riku dodged the backhanded cuff Leon aimed at him. “And I’ve got to warn you, I don’t know what they were thinking when they had those made. Black shows everything and they’re an absolute pain to get clean.”
onediagonalscar: (Default)
Later that same night, when Tifa heads over to the Brake and Body, she finds Leon there as if nothing had happened, in the parking lot, the others ranged around him, waiting. Biggs and Wedge seeing how far they can spit. Irvine picking at his teeth with a sliver of matchwood. Tifa looks at Leon, one eyebrow up in question. Leon stares back at her, puts out his cigarette in the palm of his hand. Zell give a low whistle.

Leon leans up against the hood of his car, a Puerto Rican bullet in his shoulder. He isn’t speaking. He never says much anyway, but tonight the Mexican bullet in his chest is making every breath he takes feel like the air is on fire.

“Well?” Tifa says. “Leon?”

Leon shakes his head, mutters “hey, man, give me a cigarette,” a grim little smile on his lip as seven packs appear out of the darkness beyond the halo of brake lights. Zell already has one lit for him and Leon takes it in one hand, throwing the beer bottle he’s been holding at the wall of the parking lot where it shatters, shards of glass and Dos Equis blooming across the brickwork.

“Leon?” Tifa says again. “What happened?”

“Dead,” Leon grunts. “All dead.”

“All of them?” Tifa’s eyes widen in surprise.

Leon nods, and Zell whistles again.

“So now what?”

Leon shrugs, wiping at the blood that blackens the chrome.

Earlier that same night, Leon had been kneeling on the tarmac in the rain, drops like diamonds under the cone of streetlight, Cloud’s carcass cradled across his thighs, his cold dead head pressed against Leon’s chest. Tifa had been crouched behind the dumpsters crammed into the alley beside the diner, calling to him and calling to him, trying to make him come back out of the light, but either he can’t hear or he is just ignoring her. She runs out in a low crouch, hesitating on the edge of the pool of light.

“Leon! Please!” She hisses.

“I’m not leaving him.” Leon’s voice was flat, expressionless, and he wasn’t looking at her.

“Then bring him! But get out of the light!”

“I’m not leaving him.” Leon wasn’t looking at anything except the wet dead face crushed against the t-shirt clinging to his chill flesh.

“Leon! Please! It’s not safe.”

“It makes no difference.”

“Come out of the light,” she says, more gently. “Do you want to get killed as well?”

For a moment Leon doesn’t answer. “It makes no difference,” he says again.

Tifa wants to shout at him, to grab him, to drag him back into the darkness of the alley away from the eyes of the men she knows are hiding out there in the night, down the street, watching Leon. But Leon is kneeling on the tarmac, rain dripping off his fringe into Cloud’s cold dead face cradled against his chest.

“Please, Leon,” she says again.

“Why?” Leon says, and Tifa knows that nothing she says will mean anything to him now.

“Leon,” she says, waiting.


“Why did you never tell him?”

Tifa reaches out a hand, takes Leon by the shoulder, recoils as he turns his face towards her, just for a moment. Tifa has never seen Leon cry before, and doesn’t want to now, but even the rain can’t hide his tears.

Leon mutters something that Tifa doesn’t quite catch.


“I said,” he lifts his head towards her again and just for a moment she sees something in his eyes that is even worse than his tears. “‘Because it would have made me weak’. And because it would have made him weak. And because we can’t be weak. Not us. We’re the fucking heroes, Tifa. The big fucking heroes.”

Tifa squats in the rain, just outside the circle of light, wondering if there is anything that she can say that won’t sound callous, or patronising, or facile. Probably not, she decides.

“Cloud…” she says, and sees Leon stiffen at the sound of his name. “Bring him out of the rain, Leon”

“It makes no difference now, does it?” Leon says, and looks up at her again. “He’s dead.” His voice cracks on the word, and he is sobbing openly now, shoulders shaking, great shudders racking his body as he hunches over the corpse in his arms, pulling it to him. “Oh, god, Tifa, what am I going to do?” he says, and for a moment it seems to Tifa that this isn’t Leon at all, but a lost and helpless boy, alone in the world he has walled himself up in, terrified by the very thing he has created to protect himself.

“Squall?” Tifa says, so quietly that the falling rain is louder than the sound of her voice.

Leon is pushing the wet hair out of Cloud’s eyes. “Cloud,” he says, and kisses the cold, slightly open lips. “Cloud.” Tifa watches Leon’s fingers on Cloud’s cheeks, wondering how often he has imagined doing exactly this, only with Cloud’s eyes closing instead of open and staring, and the blood rising under his cheekbones and Leon’s breath not the only breath in Cloud’s mouth.

“What’s the point, now?” Leon says, and Tifa opens her mouth to reply before she realises – just in time – that he isn’t talking to her, probably doesn’t even remember that she’s there, and he is pushing the wet hair out of Cloud’s eyes and kissing the cold dead lips and Leon’s tears are smeared across Cloud’s face – grey now in the leaching light under the streetlamp – and he is talking, talking, talking, the words spilling out of him as if they had been building up for years inside him until he couldn’t keep them in any longer. And the words that Leon is saying are the most beautiful, most unbearable things that Tifa has ever heard and she doesn’t want to be hearing them and she doesn’t know if it’s the rain or her own tears but suddenly she can’t see and when she hears Leon crying “I love you so much” she starts to back away, but not quite quickly enough not to hear what he is whispering into Cloud’s ear and as she clambers to her feet she hears someone away down the road calling out something in Spanish.

“Hey! Pachuco!”

Tifa backs away from the light, glancing down to road, down to Leon, and back. In the distance, four or five figures are coming towards them.

“Hey, pachuco!” one of them steps forwards, arms in the air.

“Leon,” Tifa says.

“Hago la lucha!” the man shouts, and then “dáme esa pistola, hombre!”

“Leon!” Tifa says again, more urgently.

“Hijo de la chingada madre!”

Leon glances up. “You’d better go,” he says, quietly.

“Leon!” Tifa says. “You have to come!”

“I’m not leaving him.”

“Me la tiré, hombre!” one of the men shouts, and the only thing Tifa wants more than Cloud to still be alive is for Leon not to speak Spanish, or Mexican, or Puerto Rican, or whatever mix of the three these men speak among themselves.

“Pinche fresa!” one of them spits, and she sees Leon stiffen.

“Tifa, go” Leon says quietly.

“Dijo que yo era mejor que tú!” the man laughs, grabbing at his crotch.

“Ay, que pinche pancho!”

Leon gets to his feet, very slowly, and steps forward, over Cloud’s body.

“Go, Tifa,” he says again.

Later that same night, when Tifa gets to the Brake and Body, she finds Leon leaning against the hood of his car as if nothing had happened. The others are ranged around him, talking about a shoot-out in South Deering, but Leon isn’t saying anything. Only Tifa can see the blood that is pooling around his shoes, black under the sodium lights.

“Leon,” she says, but he just shakes his head, gestures for her to get in, brodies through the stop light into three lanes of on-coming traffic before the others know what’s happening, leaving them gaping at the blaring horns, hiking the cuffs of their trousers up out of the spray from Leon’s whitewalls.

“Leon?” Tifa says again, and then “Leon!” as she sees the blood that has soaked into his white t-shirt.

“It’s over,” Leon says, throwing the car onto the ramp onto the freeway.

Tifa tries to talk to him, to reassure him, to make him explain, but Leon says nothing until the car rolls to a halt where the concrete service road runs out, under the skeleton of a dead tree. Leon climbs out of the car and stands on the sloping gravel where the factories peter out and the sprawling railroad yard unravels into a wilderness of scrub running down to the lakeshore.

“It’ll get better Leon,” Tifa is saying, “you just have to give it time.”

“How much?” He turns back towards her. “A week? A year? It’s not going to get better, Tifa. He’s dead. How much time will make that better?”

Tifa shakes her head, hot angry tears in her eyes. “I don’t know,” she says. “But it will. People survive this. They get over it.”

“Get over it? He’s dead, Tifa. And I love him. I don’t want to get over it. I want him back.” Leon would be shouting, only there is a Puerto Rican’s bullet in his shoulder and a Mexican’s bullet in his chest, and the breath is rasping in his throat. Tifa sees the bloodstain on his t-shirt darken and shimmer as more black blood wells up.

“Where is he, Leon?”

“There,” Leon gestures towards the blocky concrete building that sticks up like a broken tooth by the lakeshore. “He’s in there.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Nothing.” Leon shrugs his jacket off his shoulders carefully; peels the sticky t-shirt off his torso. Tifa sees him wince as the cloth pulls away from his flesh; gives a little gasp as she sees the bruising around the entry wounds, the blood smeared over the darkened skin.

“Oh, god, Leon!”

Leon smiles, and Tifa’s heart would have broken to see it, had it not already been broken. “It makes no difference,” he says. “He’s dead. What would I do? I can’t get over it, not if there was forever to try in. I just can’t.” He pulls something out of his trouser pocket and tosses it at Tifa. “You should go, probably.”

Tifa stands looking at the bunch of keys in her hand. None of the things she wants to say will fit past the big chunk of grief that is sticking in her throat. “Why didn’t you tell him, Leon?” she whispers at last.

Leon has already moved away towards the little concrete building where he had laid Cloud’s body earlier that same evening, but he must have heard her because he stops and looks back over his shoulder. “I did,” he says. “I told him an hour ago, when I came to find you. And an hour before that, when I brought him back. And an hour before that, when we found him.”

Tifa stands in the darkness, holding Leon’s car keys in her hand, watching his back as he walks away from her. “There’s no love as true as the love that dies untold,” she hears him say. He hesitates, and just for a moment she thinks he’s going to change his mind, come back, ask her for something. But he ducks his head under the low lintel and vanishes through the dark doorway.
onediagonalscar: (Default)
Cloud runs through the streets, dodging from one doorway to another as the morning comes on. Grey snow is driving down the canyon of the street; dogs barking from the windows of derelict buildings. He leans into the wind, the snow in his face.

Behind him, down the potholed road where the weeds and bushes choke the streets and the entries are full of undergrowth and tangled branches, whoever it is that is chasing him pauses.

A chainsaw coughs to life.

Cloud grins to himself, thin-lipped in the chill.

He doesn’t notice the cold and doesn’t care about his pursuers; the shot he’d injected into his hip hours ago still making him wing-heeled and invincible. But he can feel it starting to wear off, the familiar warm sweetness of come-down spreading over him like melted honey. Underneath the chemical burn of the Mercury driving his limbic system, he can feel the artificially-heightened spatial awareness fading; can feel his dampened-down hunger and thirst begin to edge back; the rising goad of liberated sexual arousal.

Behind him, the growl of the chainsaw. Ahead of him, only a few blocks away, Leon.

A final burst of energy before the drug wears off and exhaustion takes him. Clouds ducks his face out of the wind and sprints along the shattered street. Shoulders in through the splintering door, hardly halting to tap the combination into the keypad.

In the gloom of the pre-dawn morning the room is just a mass of shadows. Cloud turns, the shriek of the over-revved engine in the street outside; parts the blinds and peers between the slats, eyes narrowed into the glare of the torches.

Five or six figures, one with the saw hoisted above his head. No real threat.

Cloud turns again.

The slats of light fingering in through the blinds zebra the hump of Leon tangled in sleep, pale light barring the bed. Through the play of light and shadow Cloud only sees him where the long tangled hair – raven-dark in the darkness – catches the beams, wan light falling across his pale face. As Cloud starts to undress, Leon shifts in sleep, the thin sheet falling away from a shoulder blotched with red crescents. Cloud runs his tongue over his teeth, remembering…

… how Leon had cried out quietly and bucked against him and Cloud had bitten down hard to stifle his own shout…

Naked to the waist, Cloud feels himself hardening at the memory and Leon sprawled naked on the bed. He snaps on the light and sees him, asleep with one foot planted on the bare floor, pale muscle and dark hair, a map of desire. As Cloud watches, Leon shifts, making soft sounds in his sleep, and his dick rises up from the brown tangle at his groin, hard and pulsing. Cloud wonders if he’s remembering…

… fingertips and tongue across his skin; the heat inside Cloud’s mouth, his throat constricting as he swallowed…

Kicking free of his pants, Cloud clambers onto the bed, takes Leon’s dick in his hand, feels the weight of it against his palm before closing his fist around it. For a moment he just holds it, marvelling at its weight and warmth, at the softness of the fragile sheath of skin, at the way it trembles as the blood engorging it throbs to the beat of his heart. Then, slowly, he begins to raise and lower his fist, watching the foreskin peel back and the glans glide free on the down stroke; how it rolls back over the dark head more slowly than his fist moves on the up.

On the bed Leon, still asleep, makes a small inarticulate noise in the back of his throat and puts the back of a hand against his mouth, biting down on one knuckle. Cloud slides his free hand under Leon’s balls and squeezes gently, still working at his dick with the other. There is a little twist of lust uncoiling in his belly, filaments of fire spreading through his arteries. Leon groans again, and Cloud quickens the motion of his hand, runs a long thumbnail over the contracting skin of Leon’s balls.

“Wha…?” Leon says, and pushes himself up on his elbows, foot scrabbling for purchase against the bare boards of the floor. “Ah! Fuck!”

Cloud feels Leon’s balls clench, the first dry spasm shake him, and then the quick pulsing kick as he comes, once, twice, and again, longer. Semen slops over Cloud’s still moving fist and Leon is writhing under him.

“Ah! Fuck! Stop!”

“Morning babe,” Cloud grins.

“Morning.” Leon closes his fist over Cloud’s, struggling to stop him, voice catching in his throat. “Coming down?”

Cloud nods. Outside the window, a bottle smashes against the wall, splashing sparks across the glass as the makeshift bomb explodes and petrol showers, igniting. Jeering laughter, and the chainsaw is still screaming, and someone is shouting about burning the fucking fag Delivery Boys.

Cloud lets go of Leon’s dick and lowers his face to it, licking at the slick of come that had smeared down it. Leon lets out a long shuddering sigh that turns into a whimper as Cloud takes him in his mouth.

“Oh… god…” Leon groans. “That ffffffffffff…ah! That fucking drug!”

“Shut up,” Cloud says, coming off Leon for just a moment. “Just shut up and fuck me.”

Leon does what he’s told.