Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Disclaimer: I owneth not KH nor any Square character mentioned herein. No profit is being made.
Characters/Pairings: Leon-main, Full Cast, many FF cameos.
Summary: Morning. The issue with clothing continues. Yuffie declares everything weird. Zack notices something. And Leon finds that he has as much to face as anyone.
Notes: Rating is for language, disturbing content, gore, and sexual situations in this chapter and others.
Leon blinked once, a little confused both by the daylight peeking in his window and also by whatever was blocking most of his vision. Thankfully, before he could so much as shift, the mass in front of him moved a bit, mumbling something along the lines of 'ten more minutes, Squall'.
Yuffie. That was right. Everyone had decided to have an impromptu sleepover.
Trying not to move too much and disturb the sleeping ninja, Leon managed to prop himself up a bit to see that Cloud was still fast asleep on the floor. But he was alone down there; Sephiroth was already gone.
Sephiroth had been waiting for daylight, after all, to fix the hydroelectric generator for the castle. Or to get the tools to do so. Leon couldn't quite remember what time Cid got up at - it was always dark in Traverse Town so the cycle of day and night had basically been lost.
There were two quick raps on his door before it opened and Ellone marched in holding a spatula.
"Squall, I figured out how to make a kinda edible breakfa...Ah!" She stepped back, banging against the door while her mouth hung open, looking from Leon to Yuffie to Cloud and back again.
"Ellone," Leon began, finally moving enough to rouse Yuffie as he sat up. "Sorry... But it's not what you're thinking."
"Huh, Leon?" Yuffie asked softly, reaching to rub her eyes. "Where are... oh! Everything's back, isn't it. Five more minutes, then?"
"We're used to all staying together," Cloud explained, apparently much more awake than Leon had realized. He could only wonder if perhaps the blond had just been laying there, waiting for a moment when his own movement wouldn't pull anyone from much-deserved rest.
"We are," Leon echoed as he tried to squeeze out from beside Yuffie and crawl over her without landing on Cloud. "And as dumb as this sounds, some of us don't fit into the same clothing we were wearing nine years ago..."
"I'm sure I have something for Yuffie," Ellone said, finally relaxing her face to a soft smile. "But you two... Cloud looks right at home in your clothing. I'll have to ask Uncle Laguna for something for you, though, Squall... Leon. Leon. Leon Loire, now, right?"
Leon attempted to glare. He'd only taken Laguna's name because he hadn't expected anyone to comment on it.
Cloud started laughing.
"Sorry, Leon," he managed. "I just can't quite imagine wearing your old clothes. I... Where's Sephiroth?"
"Sephiroth?" Ellone asked, crossing her arms and flicking the spatula almost idly in the air. "The general was here, too?"
"Is something burning?" Yuffie asked, opening her eyes and looking around. "I smell..."
"Oh no!" Ellone took off into the hallway, leaving Leon's bedroom door wide open in the process.
"Today... I'm moving out," Leon announced as he wandered towards his closet. "But first I'm handing out costumes. Cloud, you'll be me at sixteen. Your motivations involve wanting to get away from your sister and secretly harboring a ridiculous fixation on someone it's better not to want romantic involvement with. Yuffie, you'll be playing the part of Ellone at twenty-one. You get to harass Cloud and run around with whoever is wearing Aya's clothing. And I'll be playing the role of Laguna... Ow, no... I can't do that."
Pulling out a shirt for Cloud, he was fairly sure it would fit the blond - it would probably show off a few more muscles and scars than Cloud would like, but Leon wasn't going to complain about that. Pants were a bit trickier, but military-styled cargos appeared beneath everything knocked loose in the dark the night before.
"Can't begin to get into the role of Laguna," Leon muttered. "Too stupid..."
"Wait, is Ellone your sister?" Yuffie asked. "She called your dad 'Uncle'."
"Technically she isn't related to me," Leon explained as he handed the clothing to Cloud. "Socks... "
He kept digging, eventually finding two pairs. At least his organization had gotten better as time had passed. Almost making a mental note to clean his room, he remembered his declaration about moving out.
"Your mother adopted her before marrying Laguna, right?" Cloud said, pulling off the pajama top and trading it quickly for the t-shirt. He glanced down at it for a moment before smiling. "Fourteenth birthday, right? I got you this and a couple of books that Lord Ansem... Nevermind."
"I remember," Leon said. Books from the far kingdom - beautiful fantasy adventure stories...
"Where are you moving to?" Yuffie asked. "The castle?"
Well, that was an option. Not the best place for a long term stay, but...
"I don't know," Leon replied. "I just know that staying here will kill me."
"Ellone said you needed pants."
Leon turned to the doorway to see Laguna standing there with an armload of clothing.
"Morning, Mr. Loire," Yuffie chirped as she attempted to sit up properly.
"Morning," Cloud echoed.
Leon wished he had a camera - the look on Laguna's face was absolutely perfect. Apparently Ellone hadn't mentioned his accidental slumber party.
"Pants, yes," Leon said quickly. He took the clothing from the slack-mouthed Laguna before waving his father away and closing the door.
"At any moment, Ellone will appear with something for you," Leon muttered, looking at Yuffie. "Actually, why don't you go help Ellone and find some clothing. There is no reason to keep staring at one another as if this isn't happening. It's real. We're back. We..."
"Have to move forward," Cloud finished. "I know. Yuffie knows, right?"
"Right!" Yuffie said, bounding off the bed and out the door, slamming it behind her as she went.
"There are the houses of those who've died, too," Leon said after a moment. Laying the clothing that Laguna had given him out on his bed, he picked the least awful pair of pants and a plain green shirt. "They need work, though."
"Sephiroth told me," Cloud commented. "Though those houses might be better for... I don't know. Couples."
"You're right." Leon wondered if all of his clothing was going to fit Cloud or if he should just dig it all onto the floor to box up for the exchange shop. Obviously he was going to need a few things. And even though the thought of all the blood in the now vacant homes upset his stomach, certainly anything usable was worth being salvaged as long as no extended family objected. But clothing and such weren't exactly valuable. Any heirlooms would be rightfully distributed. Just the essentials, like pants...
"You look like Laguna," Cloud said as soon as Leon had pulled the green shirt over his head. Cloud had politely started folding up blankets to avert his eyes as Leon changed, thankfully. And Leon remembered the scenario quite well - Cloud had always been the one stuck cleaning up while he ran ahead to make sure that Ellone had made breakfast.
"If you put on a dress you'd look like Aya," Leon retorted, knowing full well that it was just the clothing that was tainting his appearance. But if he looked like that moron - he still looked like a moron.
He wondered how early Rikku was going to open that shop.
"Should I be saying 'poor Cloud' or 'poor Aya' or what?" Yuffie asked an hour later from half-underneath the boxes of Leon's clothing that she'd insisted on carrying. All together he'd found five empty cardboard boxes in the attic and had managed to stuff in most everything he secretly hadn't wanted to give to Cloud.
That bit of reasoning wasn't worth telling to Yuffie, if only because he'd never hear the end of it. But aside from the awkward pangs of attraction, Cloud was his best friend and even if he hadn't made it all the way through breakfast to pick a few things out on his own, Leon thought he knew Cloud well enough to make a few choices.
"I guess that even after hearing you tell stories about Ellone and Aya, I never realized just how... Caring, right? How caring she is," Yuffie continued. "She could have let Cloud keep eating, though - the food wasn't that bad."
"I'm sure that Aya and Mrs. Strife were worried, though. To them, Cloud is still fourteen, just like you're still a child to your farther," Leon replied. "Who is probably worried about you."
"Maybe," Yuffie replied. "But... he always let me off to play anyway. And I told him that I was always with you growing up, so... I think he knows."
Leon thought for a moment, looking for a mental picture of Yuffie's father. Yes, hopefully Yuffie had explained that they'd grown up nearly as siblings, not as anything else.
Both Leon and Yuffie turned half-around to see who had called out. Wishing he had a hand free to raise in greeting, Leon could only manage a slight smile when he saw Rinoa and Garnet following nearly behind them, clothing lumped onto a red wagon.
"Us too," Yuffie said, trying to gesture towards the next block where the clothing exchange was but realizing she could only really swing her body a bit underneath the boxes she still clutched.
"Yuffie!" Garnet squealed happily. "Let's pick out clothing together, okay! I have some of Rinoa's but we don't quite have the same shape."
Leon found himself listening almost too critically to Garnet, again trying to discern if she was seven or sixteen. Or neither. She was one of Ellone's mages, after all, born to be an almost ethereal power for the town. And so was Rinoa. But Rinoa...
"You really look like your father."
Rinoa probably needed a slight sprinkling of tact. But everyone in town did know Laguna. Leon winced - the next block would likely be the longest block of his life.
"No, my clothing looks like Laguna's," Leon corrected. "Because it is."
"Oh, Leon, look... They even have flags out," Yuffie said, glancing back in the direction they were actually attempting to head in. "You said it was Rikku and Yuna and Paine, right?"
"I'm still not sure I trust their fashion judgment," Rinoa commented, walking alongside Garnet who was actually the one pulling the wagon. "Squall, don't you remember them from school? When they bothered going..."
School. Leon hadn't even thought of that. Yuffie had been taught by Aerith who in turn had picked up various things from other residents of Traverse Town, but everyone in Hollow Bastion hadn't had that option.
"Because you never skipped out, yourself," Leon shot back. Rinoa should remember that she didn't exactly have the best attendance record - not a one of them did. There was always something better to do around town than worry about book learning, after all.
Like read books up in the castle.
In the back of his mind, Leon couldn't help but wonder if everything would just keep tying back to the decisions of his youth and if this almighty second chance was only going to rub his face in it.
"Customers!" Leon could hear Yuna's voice from half the block away, the shop's doors already open and waiting for them. The shop, he knew, had been empty nine years before and was just waiting for someone with a grand idea, so it wasn't as if the three girls had really disturbed anything by claiming it.
"Here's how this works," Rikku began once Yuffie had set her two boxes down on the shop floor. "You get credit for what you bring and each thing you want costs part of that credit. If you don't have any credit, you can just buy things but don't worry, things will be really cheap. Um..."
"That's it," Paine interjected. "It's simple."
"All of this is Leon's," Yuffie explained as Leon added the boxes he'd been carrying to the ones that she'd already put down. "Um, I guess I'll have to get my own things later. But Leon, I'll pay you back if..."
Leon nodded as he looked through the shop. Already the women had makeshift racks set up, mainly consisting of poles laced through upright ladders but already holding a sparse amount of clothing.
"Hopefully by the end of the day we'll have a better selection," Yuna commented. "But Squall-Leon, we'll write down your credit total so you don't have to wait around."
He'd been afraid of that. Either he was going to have to get over the mortification of being stuck in Laguna's clothing or die trying.
Yuffie seemed to be sharing in the cosmic patience lesson as she waved to Rinoa and Garnet and headed for the door.
"It's almost too weird, isn't it?" Yuffie asked as they started towards where Yuffie lived almost as though there were no other destinations.
"Well, like, I mean, Garnet probably still thinks we're gonna play with dolls after this or something but... Part of me wouldn't mind that but most of me doesn't really recognize her as my friend. As Garnet," Yuffie explained. "I think we're going to have to get to know everyone all over again."
"We're the ones who changed," Leon said firmly.
"They're the ones who didn't," Yuffie added. "I know. It's still weird."
"I didn't say that it wasn't." Leon glanced back, up at where the castle loomed. "Yuffie?"
"How about the castle? That might be a good place to..."
"Let's go!" Yuffie announced, abruptly about-facing and heading off in the direction they'd just came from.
"I don't mean now..." Leon began, wondering if Yuffie was really out of hearing range of if she was just ignoring him. But he always felt comfortable with her, as though nine years as orphans together had actually made them siblings.
"You know what's strange?"
"A better question would be to ask what isn't strange," Leon corrected, happy in his assumption that the quickening footsteps that had appeared behind him were indeed attempting to catch up.
"Good point," Zack muttered. "Y'know, you look a little like Laguna in that outfit..."
"No, I don't. I look like my mother," Leon said. "I just happen to be wearing Laguna's clothing because I don't have much of a choice."
"Right..." But Zack apparently realized that the smart answer would be to stay quiet.
"I'm following Yuffie up to the castle," Leon said, pointing ahead of him to where Yuffie was waiting at the beginning of the path. He knew the young ninja had a bountiful supply of energy and when she'd broken off into a sprint, he hadn't been surprised. The thought of sparring and working his own muscles sounded better by the second.
"Looking for anything in particular?" Zack asked. "I know Aerith is going to help in the cemetery. Sephiroth, too. But that shouldn't take all day, right?"
"I don't know." Leon hadn't expected elaborate funeral rights for any of the deceased, but he also hadn't expected them to just get dumped into the ground. However, there wasn't exactly the time or means for anything complex. For lack of euphemisms, they needed to be buried. Mourning, memorials... all that could come later.
"Aerith even spent last night talking to Sheriff Tseng about everyone cooperating," Zack continued. "They're neighbors and grew up as friends even though Tseng is a few years older. For the few weeks that I dated her, he always used to watch me out the window and glare..."
"Is that where Aerith was?" Leon asked, mainly to himself. He'd almost expected her to show up and push him off the bed the night before.
"You'd better not be implying..."
"We're adults, now," Leon said. "I think that's going to be one of the challenges this town will have to face."
"What's what?" Yuffie asked. They'd caught up to her at the base of the castle steps finally though she obviously hadn't heard the entire conversation.
"What you were talking about earlier," Leon explained. "About us not being the people our friends and family remember."
"Oh, yeah," Yuffie said softly before perking up. "Zack!"
"Sephiroth asked that I go up to the castle to check on the generator and make sure it's still running," Zack said. "Apparently it gummed up last night or something. I don't know. I'm certainly not the best choice to look at it. I mean, if it isn't running I probably won't know how to do anything other than give it a good kick."
Ah, that took care of that little explanation. Leon couldn't help but think that Zack was pulling through the entire ordeal quite a bit better than anyone else he'd had a chance to actually pause and talk to. That felt good - that if one person could be okay with everything so quickly that the others would too, in time.
"So he did fix it," Yuffie said, bounding up a couple of steps ahead of the men. "That's good. Maybe if we can get the castle clean, we can make it into apartments or something..."
"Apartments?" Zack asked.
"For everyone suddenly displaced amongst their own families or those who feel exceptionally strange being twenty-five and waking up because their sister disapproved of who was in their bed," Leon said, fairly sure that there was no other explanation that would sound any less wrong.
"I live above a shop," Zack commented. "But the shopkeeper is amongst the dead and I don't think he had much in the way of family. You think I could just take over his shop?"
"Which one?" Yuffie asked. "The old guy who sold weapons? That'd be cool."
"Yes, him," Zack replied. "Well?"
"I don't get to make that decision." Leon wondered exactly who did. Who amongst them got to play divine judge? "Maybe we can start having weekly town votes or something on that sort of thing."
"Who would get to vote?" Zack asked, reaching to push back his hair as the wind blew it out of place.
"We'd have to vote on that, I guess," Yuffie said with a snicker. "I think trying to make things easier just makes them harder."
Nodding, Leon wasn't entirely sure that he wanted to keep talking. Already they were nearly to the castle entrance, door open to invite them in. Sephiroth was the only one dwelling there, as far as Leon knew, and if he was expecting Zack or someone to stop in while he was handling tasks much more suited for his abilities than cleaning house... Leon still didn't like it. Even though the heartless were gone and the town had returned, each minute in the castle made him more and more uneasy.
"Whatever it is, you have to face it," Zack whispered, apparently noticing how Leon was lingering in the sunlight as Yuffie bounced ahead.
"This is twice now," Zack said. "Yesterday and... It's not my business, but..."
Without replying, Leon just took a step forward and headed into the darkness.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!