Fandom - Kingdom Hearts
Pairing - Cloud x Leon
Rating - G
Summary - They knew each other by name, but never did they meet.
Notes - AU. Another one of those fics I dreamt about. Warning for literary vagueness. I also shamelessly stole the title from a Gundam Seed doujinshi.
One day, Cloud Strife dropped his keys.
On that same day, Squall Leonhart picked up Cloud Strife’s keys. It lay on the ground, a cold unobtrusive light on the gravel. He picked it up without a second thought, his knees creaking slightly with effort.
Cloud Strife watched. Squall stood up once more, the keys tightly held in his fingers. Cloud uncurled his fist and flattened his palm. The keys jingled as they fell onto Cloud Strife’s open palm.
Eyes met in a flicker of time. Ten seconds. The awakening simmering in the glare of the sun. Beams glanced off honest eyes. Ten seconds. Cloud nodded and looked away. Squall Leonhart walked past.
It was ten seconds too soon.
Not all company heads were bureaucratic bastards. Most of them were. But occasionally, even the most hardlined boss knew when to call it quits for a day.
Zack flirted with the waitress. The bartender served the alcohol at its best. Rufus and Sephiroth had their table, watching bemusedly as Reno and Seifer had a drinking contest. Cid and Vincent moped in a corner. Selphie and Aerith were giggling over a magazine. The windows were soft with indoor lights, the harshness of the outside muted by laughs.
Squall Leonhart lingered in a corner. Cloud Strife had the corner. Now known, they languished with the knowledge. Eyes never met, but trembled underneath dark lashes. Cloud watched the man move like fine whisky in a glass. The chink of ice constantly heard over the din of their co-workers.
He came over to Cloud’s corner and said if he cared for a drink.
Cloud replied he didn’t care for much at all, but he didn’t have the will to refuse free drinks.
Eyes met. Ten seconds. Cloud noted the thin hoary curve of his eyes. Squall watched the play of fervent blue.
It broke, like shattered words at their feet. Again, they were ten seconds too soon.
But, progress was progress.
It became routine. They would meet at the table near the right end of the bar, next to the faded photograph of Julia Heartilly. Snippets of conversation would be laid bare on the table. The tense shoulders were gone and the lingering uneasiness flew away. Squall remembered when Cloud Strife smiled. Cloud remembered the day Squall tripped over his shoelaces.
And then they touched.
Squall had asked if he could love him.
Cloud said that loving was something beyond him.
Squall wanted his love.
Cloud didn’t know what that meant.
They were ten seconds too early.
It ended as soon as it began. Routine faded into absence and mutual ignorance. Work was work. Some noticed. Others didn’t. The world spun onwards.
Then the next company evening in the same bar took place.
Zack still flirted with the waitress. The bartender still served the alcohol at its best. Rufus and Sephiroth had their table, still watching bemusedly as Reno and Seifer had another drinking contest. Cid and Vincent still moped in a corner. Selphie and Aerith were still giggling over a magazine. Winter breathed onto the windows, hiding them from the outside world. The warm yellow glow of the swinging light washed over them like a mother’s care.
Squall stood in his corner, his bad mood scaring away what concerned friends he had. He watched, not seeing what he did.
Cloud Strife approached him with two glasses of scotch.
Squall liked gin. Cloud preferred scotch.
Squall liked the cold. Cloud enjoyed the burn.
Try some, Cloud said, the yellow light flickering over his face like a dying star.
Squall hesitated. Ten seconds. Ice clinked.
He took the glass.
I don’t understand, Squall admitted.
I don’t either, Cloud said, but I guess I’ll give it a shot.
The glasses clinked in harmony.
Cloud smirked and said, what do I have to loose?
He said that ten seconds perfectly in time.
I always liked the idea of saying something at the right time. This little ficlet was an illustration to that idea.