Title: One Wing
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Implied pre-fic Leon/Sora and Cloud/Riku, eventual Leon/Cloud, Sephiroth/Riku, etc. Everyone/Everyone. Full cast.
Rating: MA overall
Summary: A shower scene, memories, and that damned wing...
Notes: Slightly A/U, uses more Final Fantasy backstory than KH. Contains plenty of foul language, stupid jokes, dated references, etc. This was written more as silliness than high literature.
The nights had been lonely, and he couldn't remember who he was supposed to be going home to.
He hadn't intended to take a shower. He'd just wanted to clean up a bit. But then the thought of a long hot private shower crept into his mind and he couldn't help it. Before long, Cloud was sprawled out in the tub, legs spread, wing stretched against the wall letting the hot water hit him in the midsection. He was tempted to find a stopper and take a bath.
He was a very dirty person. Days cramped in that damned gumdrop ship had left him greasy and sweaty as he'd tried to contain his nausea at the constant jerking motions of the ship.
Looking over at a shelf of bath products, Cloud briefly considered even taking a bubble bath. But he didn't want to smell too floral. Neither Cid nor Yuffie would let him live it down.
After a couple more minutes of being pounded by the hot water, he got to his feet and started actually washing himself. The wing was last, it always was.
"Why do I have a wing?" he asked himself quietly, soaping the appendage as gracefully as he could. "And why only one? Who has the other? Who am I searching for?"
He rinsed the soap off his body and looked for shampoo with a muted scent. Everything smelled like flowers.
Aerith. Flowers. The memories shook him for a moment. And something else, but it was hiding in the back of his brain, not yet ready to reveal itself.
Leon... Squall... Whomever he was. He wasn't familiar at all. How did he end up with the group? Why him?
"Where was I then?"
Not even water and lather kept his spikes down for long. He sighed as he washed the shampoo from his hair. Leon. A lion, thought Cloud. That's what he is.
Male lions have beautiful manes and watch over their territory ruthlessly. That sounded like the man already. Add in some leather and a plethora of belts... Cloud wondered if conditioner would have any effect on his blond spikes... and if he could make the lion roar.
He shrugged, turning off the hot water. "What else is there to do?"
"Cloud?" It was Yuffie, knocking on the door.
"You can come in," Cloud replied.
"Are you decent?" The door opened a crack.
"Yuffie. We fought side by side, tended each other's wounds and lived together for months," Cloud said. "I doubt there's anything you haven't seen."
"The... The wing..." Yuffie stammered. "It's kind of... I brought you some clothes from Leon. You'll have to cut the shirt, I guess, but..." A handful of clothes pushed their way inside.
Cloud wrapped the towel he'd grabbed earlier around his waist and flung the door open.
"I know it's there. You know it's there," he said as he pulled Yuffie into the steam-filled bathroom. "Just look at it. I don't like it either, but it's there."
Yuffie squeezed her eyes tighter for a moment before opening them and looking up at Cloud. She just sort of stared for a minute, before walking around him once.
"Cloud?" She held the clothes out like a peace offering and he immediately took them
"Can you fly?" Yuffie suddenly fell back into herself, clutching her fists to her chest. "If you can, that's so cool!"
Cloud managed a small smile. "A little. I think it would help if I had two." He set the clothing down on the edge of the sink and shook out a mundane pair of jeans.
"No leather?" It was an honest question.
"Bummer, huh?" And Yuffie, still smiling, left the room, pulling the door shut behind her.
He suddenly couldn't stop staring at her. Aerith. Alive. And Well. And making him tea. Who had made him tea? He shook his head at the lack of a memory and noticed some of the longer parts of his hair were still damp.
"Do you even drink tea?"
Cloud looked up from where he was modifying the shirt he'd been given. His claw glove was on his left hand, carefully slitting the material.
He flexed the wing, trying to fold it so he wouldn't have to make a big hole. "I drink tea."
"Milk or Honey?"
"I don't know." It was an honest reply.
"Why do we remember some things and not others?"
"Aerith, do you really want to remember?" Cloud asked, tapping the claws on the table.
She poured them each a cup of tea and sat down across the table from him. "Things come and go. Yuffie keeps telling me stories I told her, but I don't remember them. I keep hoping that when the heartless are gone... maybe it will all come back."
"Maybe." He wondered if he liked sugar in his tea. Had he ever had tea? It was suddenly blurry.
"Don't tell me you like having half of your brain constantly short circuiting!" Aerith exclaimed, breaking into a fit of laughter.
Cloud tore another couple centimeters of fabric. "I think I've always been this way. Besides, it leaves room to make new memories. The kind that'll last."
"Pretty sweet for a heartless." The laugh again, only calmer, softer.
"I'm not a heartless. I'm just doing what I can with the situation." He flexed the wing again. "Where did Leon and Yuffie go?"
"Yuffie went to get something to eat for us," Aerith explained, sipping her tea. "And Leon probably went to the Secret Waterway to train."
"There's somewhere to train here? Is Leon good?" Cloud felt genuinely excited for a moment.
"I think so. I don't fight him anymore, but Yuffie does."
Cloud let a small smile break across his face. "Then maybe being stuck here for a little while won't be so terrible."
"You remind me of someone," Aerith said. "He enjoyed a good fight... but I can't seem to remember..." Her air of seriousness vanished after a moment of thought.
"That's about all we say around here." She laughed. "I can't seem to remember this... I can't seem to remember that... I don't think I'd be surprised if we forgot our own identities one of these days."
Cloud sighed, trying to pull the long-sleeved shirt over his head and fight the wing through the hole in the back. "Been there. Done that," he muttered to the inside of the shirt.
Who. Was. This. Man?
Leon paced back and forth along the water. He'd long since given up trying to be productive and had instead decided to kick stones into the water.
Everyone knew him. "How did he end up on another world? Why wasn't he here with his friends? Why was I?"
That wing. Something about it made Leon uneasy, yet very very curious. He wondered what it felt like. If it was leathery. Or furry. And what Cloud felt, when it was touched.
He knew the man was probably now wearing his clothing. He wondered if they would fit. If they would look good. How good?
Leon shook the last thought from his mind. "He did mention..."
Sora's obsession, Riku... All Leon ever heard about, except of course when he found ways to keep the boy's mouth occupied.
"Where's Squa-Leon?" Yuffie asked as she came in carrying a wonderful smelling paper sack of food. "I have take-out!"
"He probably went to train," Aerith said, grabbing the now empty teacups from the table and whisking them to the sink. "Cloud?"
The blond looked up. He'd been idly obsessing over the uneven sharpness of his claws. He clicked them gently under the table as he shifted. "Huh?"
"Do you think you could go get Leon?" Aerith was talking with her head in a cupboard.
"Not without five maps and two native guides," Cloud replied. "This is the most poorly designed town ever. Worse than the slums to navigate."
"I'll write down really good directions, it should take about ten minutes to go there and back," Yuffie said, setting down the white box she was holding.
Every time he passed a stray heartless, it looked at him for less than a second before looking away. He clicked the claws together, just in case one got any ideas. If they could have ideas...
Cloud had almost lost himself pondering whether or not the heartless could actually think. The only thing that knocked him out of his reverie was the fact that there was no more alleyway in front of him. Only wall. And a storm drain.
"Secret Waterway,." Cloud moaned, quickly referencing the directions the ninja had scrawled for him. "I guess I can always take another shower."
After taking off his socks and boots, he ducked down and trudged through the surprisingly clear water. It wasn't horribly deep, but the ends of the red cape caught the tips of the waves he was making. He'd tried to roll up the bottoms of his pants as well, with little success.
"Leon?" he called as he stepped into an open and vaguely lit area. Most of it was unsubmerged and it looked almost lived in and comfortable. There were a few crates scattered around the perimeter, some with empty glass bottles sitting on them. "Leon?"
"Who is it?" A voice echoed down from a far stairway. Long hair and leather came into view a moment later. "Cloud?"
"Um... Dinner's ready." It sounded idiotic. Cloud shrugged. "Do they always send company to get wet?"
Leon considered smiling. "Yes." The blond looked pretty good in his clothes. If only he'd lose the cape. Leon unconsciously licked his lips.
Cloud was still looking around. "Is there where you trained Sora?" He was still clutching his boots like they'd leave him. He felt ridiculous.
Leon nodded. "Not quite like what you're used to?" His eyes narrowed.
"It's very... private," Cloud said. The other man intrigued him. The other man's relationship with Sora intrigued him.
He wondered what Aerith had put in the tea.
Leon nodded again. "The heartless don't come down here. It's nice," he said quickly.
"I thought I'd qualified as one of them."
Leon regarded the blond for a moment. Without most of the armor, weapons, and grime, Cloud looked almost like a different person. "Whatever."
Cloud didn't say a word as he turned and stepped back into the water. Leon followed him out a moment later, cursing that red cape under his breath the entire time.
Both sat on the paving stones as they replaced their footwear, neither talking.
Despite each of them wanting to ask a million questions, neither one said a word until just before they arrived in front of the house in Third District.
"Squall?" Cloud whispered, using the name Sora had used.
Leon looked curiously at the blond.
"I've heard stories about you." And with that, Cloud opened the door and stepped inside.
Needless to say... neither man said much during dinner.
"What did you do to him?" Yuffie asked, clearing the table. It had been five minutes since Leon stalked back to his house without saying a word.
Cloud didn't say anything.
"Leon is a good person," Aerith said. "I know he's not from our world, but... He's like family now. "
"You'll like him when you get to know him. He'll even talk a little more," Yuffie added, spinning around before depositing empty containers in the garbage.
"I never said I didn't like him." Claws drummed along the edge of the table as Cloud wondered if he should even try to explain that the real problem was trying to figure out how to get Leon naked underneath him.
Leon was sitting at his own table, ritually cleaning his gunblade when there was a knock at the door. He stood slowly and walked over to the door. No one he knew bothered knocking most of the time, and it was getting quite late. Heartless didn't knock, did they?
He opened the door and glared into the blue eyes of the man waiting outside. "You don't have to knock, you know. You are staying here." Heartless do knock, he thought as he stepped aside to let Cloud in.
Cloud nodded and walked into the main room. "Do you have a blanket I could borrow? I really don't have anything with me."
"Going to sleep already?"
The blond glared back at Leon. "It's been a long day."
"Make yourself at home."
Cloud watched as Leon vanished into another room before looking around. It was even more sparse than the small house the girls were sharing. They'd talked for hours about everything they could remember. Yuffie even wrote most of it down. None of them could remember quite how they ended up where they did, only that there were large holes in their memories, and quite a bit of darkness.
"Here." A slight shock as a worn green blanket hit Cloud in the chest. He blinked as he caught it and realized Leon had returned.
"I'll let you sleep in a minute. What did Sora tell you about me?" Leon circled around Cloud as he tried to find words to describe the delicious mental images he'd created the second he saw the man.
"He told me... You're a good teacher." Cloud set the blanket on the floor as he bent down to untie his boots.
Cloud shrugged. Now was neither the time, nor the... Well, it was the place, but Cloud really was exhausted on many levels.
"Maybe." He stripped off his armor and cloak, setting them on a crate.
Leon glared before sitting back down at the table to continue what he'd been doing. Out of the corner he watched the blond eye the tattered sofa before grabbing his cloak again and settling down on the wood floor.
"Too good for my sofa?"
Tired blue eyes still shone as they met Leon's gaze. "It'll be too uncomfortable." He paused. "The wing... It's like an arm or leg, if I hold it wrong it'll lose feeling. It's not the easiest thing to sleep with."
Leon sighed. He could at least sleep on the sofa. "Go sleep on my bed."
Cloud inwardly wondered if this was going to turn into an invitation. "You sure?"
"I can sleep on the sofa," Leon replied. "Leave me the blanket."
Cloud got up silently, dropped the blanket and went into the bedroom. He didn't want to fight with the other man. He was still hopeful he'd at least get a warm body to sleep with.
The room was as sparse as the rest of the house, but the bed looked warm and soft. After a minute of deliberation and another of struggle, Cloud removed his shirt and set it on a barrel that thought it was a table.
Less than a minute later, he was on his stomach under the blankets, wing stretched along the same path as his left arm.
Leon spent an extra hour polishing his weapon, despite the fact it was already gleaming to begin with. He just couldn't stop thinking. Usually, his thoughts ranged the gamut from killing heartless to Dalmatian puppies, but tonight, it was nothing but Cloud.
And he had to walk in the room where said man was sleeping in order to get himself something to sleep in.
Sighing, he got to his feet, brushed back his hair, and pushed the door to the room open.
Light poured into the bedroom through the doorway, but the sleeping blond didn't stir. Leon tried not to look at Cloud while he fumbled through drawers for a pair of sweatpants. Of course, he did look.
Cloud had thrown off the blankets but he was still sprawled the way he had been. Leon marveled at the spot where wing joined back muscle. It looked purely natural, the smooth skin darkening quickly over the appendage. He circled the bed to get a closer look. What could cause a person to have one wing? Where was the other?
Leon reached a hand out to touch it but stopped himself. He'd been dwelling on the wing as much as the man himself. But to touch it. Throwing caution to the wind, he lightly ran his fingers from the middle of Cloud's back to the top tips of black. The blond stirred lightly, almost moaning in his sleep.
Leon stepped back, stunned. As much as he wanted to stroke a little harder, he had no idea what he'd say if Cloud woke up.
Making sure he did indeed have his sweatpants, Leon quickly exited the room.
Cloud woke up the second he had heard someone come into the room. Years of every type of miserable living situation imaginable taught him to be almost overly conscious of his surroundings.
He didn't move; he just listened as the other man rummaged around the room while attempting to be quiet.
And then, Cloud realized, Leon was watching him while he feigned sleep. The other man wouldn't kill him in his sleep, would he?
Leon was still staring. Cloud knew this. But why?
The wing. He only then considered that he'd lost the top blanket.
Cloud relaxed slightly, assuming his abnormality was the only thing holding up Leon's departure. He would have been dead by now, otherwise.
Still, Cloud was not expecting a warm hand to trace the top contour of his wing. He couldn't help shifting slightly and letting out a small disappointed moan when the hand moved away.
Leon stepped back, and Cloud felt more dejected than ever. He now wanted the other man almost uncontrollably, and his horrible anomaly had... Cloud sighed to himself as he heard Leon leave the room.
Leon shifted on the sofa, trying to get comfortable as he pondered just what he'd done. He knew that Cloud was aware of his relationship... Wrong word... Dalliances? Whatever... It was no secret that he and Sora...
He sighed. That was another fine mess in itself, but the boy was just so... delicious. And enthusiastic. And...
But Sora was off looking for someone else. It was always that way...
He had strong feelings of abandonment from times he didn't remember. Everyone always left him, he thought. And Sora... Not like he had any claim on Sorabesides the nighttime.
Nighttime, darkness, shadows, heartless. One of them was half-naked in his bed. And he'd mentioned Riku, the kid Sora was...
Cloud had said that Riku was... His mind searched and came up with delicious, but Cloud wouldn't have said that. Maybe it had been the way he'd said it. Had Cloud...?
He didn't think he could take following the entire train of thought any further. He had a month, or a few days at least, to find out exactly what was going on.
Puppies. Maybe, he thought, he could count puppies until he fell asleep.
Cloud yawned, setting his cup of coffee down on the small kitchen table. He'd been up almost an hour, clunking around the kitchen uncaring if he woke the other man. He hadn't.
At the moment, Leon was sleeping like the dead.
Cloud took the opportunity to get dressed, strap on his armor, and go outside. Without the heartless bothering him, he began effortlessly going through every training exercise and battle move he could think of. It felt great.
At one point he realized he was being watched, but he wasn't sure by whom. Random heartless seemed to be in awe of him as well as he launched into an impressive airbourne combination move.
When he landed, he heard faint clapping. It was Leon, watching him from the balcony in front of the houses. Cloud glared upward at him.
"You ready to take your ship to Cid?" Leon called. He didn't want to tell the other man just how amazed he currently was. Or how badly he wanted to...
"Sure. Let's go," Cloud replied, cutting off Leon mid-thought. Maybe for the better.
Mainly, they just glared at each other as they walked the short distance to Cid's shop.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!