Today's the day. Squall smiled, while his hands shook buttoning the top of his shirt. It was still over an hour before Squall had agreed to meet Cloud, but Squall couldn't sit still. He'd already fastened and unfastened this particular button about seven times. He'd hardly been able to sleep last night!
He was so excited! And so nervous; Just thinking about all the little things, worrying as he wanted everything to be just right; Would the bike be there? What if everywhere was closed? What if Cloud got sick, or backed out? What if he misjudged everything-
No, no, Squall reached for his toothbrush, again , and went through the mindless motions to keep his thoughts away from that kind of path. I'm not doing that, we're going to have good day - because we’ll be together.
The day would be perfect, no matter what. The moment Cloud had said yes, Squall had began to plot out their date using all his knowledge of the things Cloud liked, and actively avoiding things that Cloud hated. For instance; Seifer. They'd be far from him today, nowhere near the campus.
Squall had also made sure that their day would have several little 'romantic' elements to it. It was a date after all, even if Squall had no idea what to do on one. He'd never taken anyone out on a date before.
All going well, Squall dried his mouth and put on a little cologne on his neck and wrists, wondering if maybe this 'first date' would lead to something a little more official ... Squall paled and his heart beat fast at the thought: Oh Hyne how would I even ask …?
"Cloud, would you be my boyfriend?" Too blunt? "No ... Cloud, I think you’re really cute will y- no, that's too shallow ..." He took a breath and scowled at the mirror, noticing his posture; he scolded himself: "Stop looking down, moron- Ok."
He tried again, though as he did so an alarm went off on his desk, signalling that now was the time to go and get the bike. He conceded in his efforts to come up with a decent speech "... Will have to work on it later."
He spent another two minutes checking that he looked good, one more frantically searching for the keys that were hanging in the door, and a final half minute wondering if he should take a spare leather jacket for Cloud …
He grabbed it and ran, not wanting to miss their ride.
But Squall wasn’t the only one muddling about, in the meantime, Cloud had made a mess out of his usually organized studio apartment. He stood in his room right in front of the dresser beside his double bed where he would try on one set of clothing, model a a bit in the mirror before shaking his head and thinking that one outfit was too formal or to simple; he meticulously sought a perfect happy medium for he wanted to impress Squall. The indecision soon landed most of his closet all over the bed and floor.
“Aw man, what can I wear …” Cloud clutched his hair as he looked down at the creamy khaki jeans he was almost completely sure he wanted to wear. “I had a shirt that I think might look good …” the teen frantically dug through the clothes on his bed until Fenrir’s head popped up. “Oops, looks like I buried you,” he picked up his plush that was tangled in the shirt he was looking for, “Oh! You’ve found it! Thanks little buddy!” Cloud thanked the old toy wolf as he set him down by his pillows and gave him a little pat on the head.
Cloud went turned back to the mirror and out on the mid sleeve shirt he picked and patted it down. The white over black of the shirt created a casual contrast to his pants and gave him a nice and trim appearance. He looked at all himself from all angles checking and checking for any stains or lint.
"Yea … I think this looks nice. Wonder what Squall will think ... " he mumbled to himself. The thought made him feel butterflies in his stomach and he hugged it, wondering if Squall was as nervous as he was. “Oh I hope not … the poor guy gets flustered so easily …I don’t want him to stress, I want him to have fun. It means that I have to do the same,” he reached for his comb and fixed his hair for the hundredth time and took one final look at the mirror.
For the finishing touch Cloud sprayed himself with perfume and put on his silver bracelet. He patted his pockets to make sure he has his wallet and then grabbed his keys.
“Ok, see ya later Zack! Wish me luck!” Cloud said over his shoulder then headed out to the beat of anticipation and excitement.
-At the Academy-
Squall leaned against the wall watching the sunny, mid-morning sky, trying his best not to resort to pacing and fidgeting like a nervous schoolchild. Squall was comfortable, but he was very conscious of what he was wearing, wanting to look good. Wanting Cloud to think he looked good …
He had his leather jacket on, a comfort item as well as his best, and a spare thrown over two hidden helmets resting on the pavement, he hoped Cloud would like the first surprise.
Squall blushed, hoping that he could make Cloud happy. That he could make him smile and laugh and gasp in surprise; that Cloud would blush so bright he could count the freckles with ease. Then, maybe, he'd like this date so much he'd want another one ...
Squall was, admittedly, getting carried away with his thoughts right now. They hadn't even met for date one yet!
Slow down, moron. He rubbed absently at the scar, no longer picking at it but as a habit. I hope Cloud gets here soon, I don't like having the space to think for too long, I start worrying about meaningless things.
Luckily for Squall he wouldn’t need to wait for long, Cloud was making haste to the academy, anxious to meet up with Squall. As he neared the entrance, where they had agreed to meet, Cloud was looking forward to seeing the tender brunet in a more relaxed state and hopefully see much more of that smile Cloud adored so much.
Cloud trembled with excitement, he still couldn’t believe that he was asked out on a date. Just thinking on spending quality time with Squall had his heart pumping with delight.
Upon arrival Cloud spotted the handsome young cadet leaning against a wall. Cloud’s ecstatic his heart leaped.
Looking cool as always, Cloud chortled behind his fist and walked towards Squall, really resisting the urge to just run to him instead. Cloud did speed walk though, fighting his smile a little and wondering just how red his cheeks were. Seeing Squall in street clothing felt a bit strange, but that leather jacket, black as ink, looked so good on Squall. While the jacket made Squall look a bit more broader, the shirt he wore under a casual and refined look, was just the right amount of tight around the chest but a little more loose on the bottom. It framed the Gunblader's triangular body perfectly.
The neck in form of a 'v' showing off just enough flesh for Cloud to swoon on before his eyes caught a long chain-like necklace that held a silver lion head charm around Squall’s strong neck. A touch that just screamed Squall as the regal beast showed off it's profile, roaring to the wind that blew its mane.
Squall has good taste for clothing … Cloud gulped as he took the time to admire the details of Squall’s attire: The shirt tucked in only in Squall's front to show off his belt buckle which was also a lion head, this one in front view. And to add smoothness to his image a pair of sleek black pants blended with the casual looking boots on Squall’s feet.
Cloud had to almost slap himself from the daydream. But he managed to approach without tripping, at least.
Squall was looking at the floor, probably lost in thoughts as usual, so, Cloud softly cleared his throat once he was close enough, and leaned enough to be in Squall's view, "Hi, S-Squall."
Squall blinked, surprised as stiff as ice when Cloud unexpectedly leaned into his line of sight!
Giggles of delight escaped Cloud’s mouth at his startled jump.
Squall turning a little pink in the face as he got laughed at, but Cloud’s sweet amusement was soothing the burn.
The Cadet huffed and finally chuckled too, then turned to greet Cloud properly. Squall was constantly smiling slightly now that Cloud was here, an automatic response. Cloud’s clothes were a snug and warm fit, much more form fitting than the medical uniform. They showed off his narrow waist and slim hips, as well as his hidden muscles in his arms- normally hidden under a lab coat or medical jacket. He looked casual and yet stunning, Cloud really suited the look in Squall’s opinion.
No jacket, Squall noticed, already seeing something going right.
"Hi, you startled me," Squall replied, reaching out and lightly touching the top of Cloud's arm, unsure if he wanted to hug him, hold his hand, lean in for a kiss, but he wanted to do something other than stand there awkwardly.
Cloud laughed and ruffled Squall’s hair as he teasingly replied, “That was the idea.”
Squall rolled his eyes slightly, taking Cloud’s hand out of his hair and holding it between them. "You look," better than I imagined "really handsome."
"Really?" Cloud asked with a hint of relief, his posture inching a bit towards Squall in elation. At Squall’s single nod Cloud blushed and rubbed his warm cheek taking another chance to give Squall another once over. "Thanks. You look very handsome too,” he put his hands ins his pockets in nervous fidgeting, “and might I add cool! "
Squall mentally patted himself on the back for his wardrobe choice; Cloud liked it! The Cadet leaned against the wall again and glanced down briefly, a bit self conscious with Cloud’s praise, reflexively giving his healed scar a little rub as a shy gesture. Plus … he still really wanted to kiss him.
And at the timid gesture half a smile appeared in Cloud’s face, he was all too familiar with it. Although, with his medic instincts -and always looking after Squall’s well being- Cloud wondered if the scar was actually itching, Cool one second, then all shy the next ... or maybe his nose just itches. I wonder if I could remedy that …
Cloud honestly didn't know where he got the little burst of courage but he thought that maybe it could encourage Squall in turn. The medic balanced himself on his toes reaching up to grab the sides of Squall's head to tilt it down enough to place a peck on the scarred nose.
“There. So it doesn’t bother you anymore” he cooed, the baritone warm and soft like a blanket.
Squall was completely obedient to Cloud's light touch, bending down to the height Cloud desired without complaint, and gasping at the peck on his nose, right on his scar.
Squall blushed brightly across his cheekbones and ducked his head a little more, smiling with delight and not sure how to handle something this sweet. One kiss already.
He covered one of Cloud's hands against his cheek and shyly pointed at his mouth, beginning as innocently as he could: "Hey, I think I hurt my lip earlier too ..."
With that sweet, shy smile how could Cloud ever say no to the request. Cloud just loved how Squall kept winning his heart with every simple gestures. He giggled warmed with affection by Squall’s unexpected slick antic, yet Cloud puckered his lips showing Squall that he didn't need to be shy to ask; Cloud wanted Squall to feel free to express his desires. Although, Cloud could understand him, contrary to what it seemed, Cloud was still nervous himself.
Squall cupped Cloud's face and leaned down for a kiss to his lips, not able to resist temptation he stopped to kiss a freckle or two on the way down. Their lips met just for a moment or two, Squall's mind sighing on many levels as it registered that kissing Cloud was as soft and wonderful as he remembered. It was a chaste and short kiss, but it was perfect. Cloud smelt fresh and sweet, something floral and innocent. Squall liked how comforting it was. As he sighed he recognised the blend: sweet mint, lavender and vanilla.
The extra kisses laid upon his cheeks were indeed a surprise, definitely not unwelcomed though, Cloud’s heart was leaping at the extra affection Squall displayed. It made Cloud wonder if Squall really liked his freckles.
Cloud's toes were bothering him a little so he had to flatten his feet again after the kiss.
"So ... did I keep you waiting for long? I hope not." he asked looking up at Squall while grabbing the brunet's hands and entwining their fingers.
Squall shook his head, "No," he smiled at their intertwined hands and they seemed to fit like puzzle pieces.
"Oh. Good. That's a relief." Cloud responded as he was a little antsy and raring to go, exhilarated now that he was with Squall.
"I'm glad you're here now though. Are you okay today?" Squall gave Cloud a small tug with his hand, he sensed Cloud getting ready to wander off, and so stemmed Cloud’s urge to leave and leaned on the wall himself to give the little message that they were to stay here for the moment. Squall hoped Cloud was curious, he wanted him to be surprised.
Cloud felt the small tug he was given to stay in place and tilted his head a little, looking at Squall with a mix of curiosity and confusion. He felt a bit rude but he just could barely contain the eagerness.
"Yea. I'm okay ... just ... a little nervous ... and excited, sorry," he apologized sheepishly rubbing one of his burning cheeks, "How about you? Are you alright?"
"Better now that you're here," Squall admitted with a slight blush and glance away. He saw Cloud shifting from foot to foot restlessly, and chuckled. He stood a little straighter; "So, are you feeling adventurous this morning?"
"Oh boy, am I!" Cloud exclaimed excitedly leaning towards Squall, a bright smile on his face and that cute blush still on his porcelain cheeks. He quickly stepped back and corrected his little outburst when he saw Squall flinch just a bit at the movement while blinking in surprise, "I mean, yea... I-I'm.. pretty... yea," Cloud smiled shyly while coiling a little into himself and rubbed his arm.
Squall beamed, chuckling a little at that cute response of excitement, "Good." He leaned down and picked up both the spare leather jacket and a helmet, then he tossed the helmet to Cloud, "You'll need this. Come on," he tugged Cloud's hand towards the parking spaces behind the block, a little thrill in his heart and a bounce to his steps as he led Cloud to their first surprise.
Cloud reacted quickly to catch the helmet swiftly and he looked at it confused with a tilted head. But he had no time to question anything as he was pulled into motion.
"Where we are going Squall?" he asked as he was towed by the SeeD Cadet.
Squall grinned and rounded the corner, hands on Cloud's shoulders and he turned Cloud's attention towards a Highwind sports bike. The motorcycle was a shining red, black and silver, looking sleek and powerful even sitting still parked up on a stand. Highwind-MAK0 model.
And Squall got the type of reaction he was hoping for, a gasp of shock parted the blonde’s mouth and widened his blue eyes. Shocked and disbelief, Cloud looked up at a smiling Squall, little sounds that were supposed to be words escaping from the back of his throat as he pointed to and fro between the marvellous ride and the brunet who was endeared by the reaction.
Squall squeezed Cloud's shoulders chuckling at the excited expressions; "I talked to the owner, we get a one way trip into town on her and can drive for as long as we want- so long as it actually arrives at the paint shop sometime today," he grinned, the conditions- and some bribery- had been easy to agree to. Cloud's reaction was worth it.
Cloud didn't particularly care about the conditions Squall was given, he was just too astounded. He's always wanted a bike and the chance of actually riding one had Cloud so excited that he didn't know what to do with himself!
And to reaffirm his excitement he let out a whimper, yet he quickly closed his mouth trying to compose himself as he looked at Squall again. "I---You---We, get to drive this?" This beauty of a machine?!!
Squall let out a breath of relief, Cloud was ecstatic! This was better than he'd hoped for.
He fished the keys out of his pocket and held them up for Cloud to stare at, waving them gently to reflect light and bit his tongue to stop laughing as Cloud’s wide eyes followed the keys; "You drive, I think you'll get the most out of this," he curled Cloud's fingers around the bits of metal and kissed his temple.
The keys were gone in a second! Cloud looking like all his dreams had come true in an instant. A jewel of a memory he was wrapping up as tight as he could in his heart and brain in the hopes that no Guardian Force would ever lay a hand on it. I'll have to write down what happens today to make double sure, I never want to forget this.
Only the start of their date and Squall has already outdone himself. Now Cloud was looking forward to the rest of the day even more. With the keys in hand and in another burst of glee Cloud made a movement to run towards the bike. But he felt like he had to be more grateful, so he turned on his heel right after the first step and gave Squall a very big hug.
"You. Are. Awesome " and before Squall could even respond Cloud planted a kiss on his cheek and then was off.
Squall scratched at his scar, a little bewildered, red creeping up from under his collar to his cheeks; He really likes it ... he's so cute.
Squall watched as Cloud got to the bike and inspected every inch of it. Cloud was muttering about it's features to himself then let out a very low noise that if not restrained, it would have most probably been a squeal of delight. Another faint whimper of joy and Cloud strided the machine, caressing it to appreciate the glossy surface before he put the key in. With a slow turn of the key the motor purred to life making Cloud’s body vibrate with thrill. So much was his excitement that he left his helmet forgotten on the floor from when he had kneeled to look at the motorcycle's wheels.
Squall jogged over to catch Cloud before he ran away with the bike. An amusing thought, but it would be an abrupt end to their date.
He gently slipped Cloud’s helmet over his head. "Safety First, Mr Biker," he rapped the protective hat with his knuckles a few times to tease Cloud of what he had almost forgotten, before pulling his own on.
"Oh, right, thank you." Cloud blushed embarrassed that he forgot to put on such an important thing. He smiled back at Squall as he felt the other teen striding the bike behind him, "I promise I won't speed like a maniac though," Cloud put his hand over his heart..
Squall chuckled, fastening his jacket up at the front for a bit of extra protection, "Go for it I found a route without speed cameras,” he couldn’t resist giving Cloud a little wink at the news.
Squall wrapped his arms around Cloud's middle. He pulled a map from his sleeve and held it up for the driver to see, "We need to get to here, town square," he pointed at a red circle, "But if we go the long way round," he ran his fingertip along several winding roads, also in red, "We'll get the best out of her for our limited time."
Cloud paid close attention to the route Squall showed him and nodded in agreement, "That sounds good to me! Let's mosey," and he returned the wink revving the engine before taking off.
At first Cloud kept a neutral speed to test the bike out. He had been taught the basics once, but he has never rode one by himself. The thrill felt much better than he ever imagined and he taught that after this he wouldn’t be able to get enough of it. Yet he didn’t press his luck to not risk Squall’s safety, and Cloud was in no rush to get off the delightful machine. And having Squall embracing him so closely made the experience much more enjoyable.
Eventually they got to the town square and Cloud parked with surprisingly skill for a first timer.
Squall was grinning with adrenaline for the entire journey! As they parked he squeezed Cloud around his waist. “You’re a natural at this!”
A giggle came from the blond and then he took off his helmet, revealing flattened and messy hair. Flattered by Squall’s praise he smiled at the brunet with such elation in his voice that he seemed almost out of breath, "You think so?”
Squall pulled his own helmet off and ran a hand through his hair, his face flushed with the recent speed too, he grinned, "Of course! Those turns made me feel like I was defying gravity." It was thrilling the speeds they went at, and how safe he had felt despite exceeding most limits.
Squall had clung tight for most of the ride but never once encouraged Cloud to slow down- the adrenaline rush was eye opening and had him shaking a little even now with the high energy.
The bike could turn almost hairpin tight, minimal skid too, and it never had any problem supporting the both of them. Cloud handled it as if he had been biking all his life. Money well spent, Squall thought as he swung his leg off the bike and stretched out, trying to get his thrilled body back to something a bit more normal.
Cloud got off too though his body was shaking with so much adrenaline that he stumbled a little. However Squall was quick to put an arm around Cloud to stabilize him.
“Whao, your legs asleep?” the Cadet chuckled.
Cloud looked up at him with a very faint blush and a sheepish smile, “Yea, seems like they enjoyed the bit of time off.” He bounced a little in place to try and relief the tingling sensation.
Then he looked at the bike again with a dreamy sigh, "I'm gonna get one of these someday," he looked at Squall with a sweet smile and a blush, "I think you'd look cool on one Squall. Maybe we should get one for you too and then we can go on rides together. "
At Cloud's suggestion Squall nodded, Or just the one so we can go on rides together .
He kept that thought to himself, because holding Cloud for the past hour on the bike was something he would long for again. Squall hoped that it wouldn't need to be just a bike thing, maybe they'd have long hugs at other times too.
Squall took the keys and the handlebars, "I want one too after a ride like that, Highwind always makes such good ones, good quality too. Shame they're so expensive." He wondered how long it would take the both of them to save up for one of their own, or even just one for Cloud someday ... I think that would be years.
Squall began to wheel the bike over to a repair shop in the corner, a little reluctant to see her go. But a promise was a promise. "I'll be just a few moments. How about you think about what you're hungry for while I head inside?"
"'K, I'll wait here" Cloud was a little sad that they had to part with the bike but he nodded, regardless. He was so grateful to Squall for granting him the chance and he looked forward to future rides. “I wonder when can I get my own bike. What would it look like? I think I would go with a black one ... Maybe a little gold or silver somewhere,” he painted a mental image, then he smiled “Yeaaa, that would look lovely. I would let Squall drive it too, I really think he would look very cool on a bike …” he chuckled at himself as he daydreamed.
A light breeze flapped the jacket Squall lent him and Cloud caught more of the other’s fresh scent. It was strong but soothing and it had Cloud hugging himself to snuggle into the fabric whilst humming contently.
Squall handed over the keys to the repairman who was expecting him. Squall parked the bike and handed over a letter from the owner on what the bike needed- it was just a new coat of paint. He placed the helmets on the handles and left, hoping that the student who owned the bike would be satisfied.
As he left the building to get back to Cloud and continue their date he saw the cute medic holding the jacket tighter to himself, using one of the sleeves to raise the collar to his nose. His cheeks were getting pink and he seemed to be sighing deeply.
Is he ... smelling my jacket?
Squall watched Cloud snuggle for a moment and felt a blush of his own rise up. ... wish I had a camera.
He waved a bit as he approached "All done. Sorry for the wait, had to explain something," he glanced Cloud over, noticing that the leather jacket was big on him, but it made his shoulders look a little broader. He looked cool in it. "Were you warm enough on the ride?"
"Yea. It's very warm. Thank you." and the jacket smells so nice too, Cloud neither got startled nor was too embarrassed for being caught in the middle of his snuggling. The blush was there though and Cloud nodded a bit shyly as he pulled the jacket closer.
“Good,” Squall hummed in a little relief and absently rubbed at his scar, “So … do you have any ideas on what you’d like to eat yet?”
Cloud reached for one of Squall's hands and laced their fingers again, he had gotten so much into his previous daydream that he forgot to think of what he felt like eating.
"I could eat just about anything really ... I skipped breakfast this morning" he smiled a bit sheepishly.
Squall frowned a little when he heard that Cloud had not had breakfast, after their thrilling start to the day Cloud might feel weak soon. He squeezed his hand, "You should have said something!"
Squall thought of the cafe that he heard was very popular, brain so scrambled that he wasn't sure he could think of anything else; "Um, how about Balamb's Cornerstone? I think it's nearby, just down the street from an arcade. It's supposed to be a nice place for lunch?"
As he suggested it he glanced around to get his bearings on their location, he felt a bit sad that Cloud hadn't mentioned this, he must have been hungry for a while; “Do you skip breakfast often?”
Cloud could sense the worry in Squall so he rubbed his own cheek, “Sometimes … A lot of the time … It’s a habit I picked up. Granted it’s a bad one but I’m used to it.”
“I’m a bit surprised if I’m honest,” Squall began, starting their walk over to the cafe they’d somewhat agreed on. “I thought a training doctor would be a little more health conscious.” He rubbed his thumb over Cloud’s knuckles with a touch of concern.
Cloud didn't think Squall would get so troubled over him skipping breakfast. But it was very touching how concerned the brunet was being. “It’s alright Squall … but you’re right, I’ll try not to do it so much from now on.”
“Good, please look after yourself,” he squeezed Cloud’s hand, wishing he could say more, but knowing the risk of sounding imposing or possessive, he decided to keep it friendly.
“O-okay,” Cloud blushed trying to calm that elated beating in his heart, “So you said we were going to Balamb’s Cornerstone? I've never been there but I’ve always been curious about it.” he smiled up at Squall to see that the brunet looked a little lost in thought and had a blush on his cheeks.
The pair walked close enough for their arms to brush as they held hands, the sunny day made Cloud look so nice, Squall's expression got a bit soft and dreamy as he admired the effects of the sun on him. Wow ...
Cloud tilted his head while waving a hand in front of the other's eyes.
"Helloooo, Squall? "
Squall blinked, "Huh?"
Cloud puffed and raised an eyebrow whilst smiling helplessly "Are you still here with me? Seems like you blanked out."
Squall jolted like he’d been shocked! Then looked away with a hand over his face, "Sorry!"
Ugh, why are you so cute? Come on Squall, don't be weird.
He bashfully mumbled, "I, er, I was listening ... I just ..." he rubbed at the scar on his nose nervously, "You distracted me."
"Oh? Distracted on a date ? I don't think that's very gentlemanly, Squall ," Cloud crossed his arms and turned from him pretending like he was offended. He didn't know where the playfulness was coming from but he was curious to see how Squall would play along.
Squall pouted, "I was distracted by my date, that's alright, right?" He didn't realise how Cloud was merely teasing until he heard his date laughing fondly. Cloud leaned into his side with a soft bump and Squall lost his slight sulk.
The cadet glanced at Cloud and smiled in response to the playfulness shining in his blue-green eyes. I hope he's not actually mad at me …
"Kiss and make up?" he suggested suddenly.
In response Cloud pulled his lips to the side pretending to think about it. But of course, Cloud wasn't mad and complied to the request, surprised by it, but happy with it. He turned his face to Squall, closing his eyes expectantly but letting Squall decide where to place that kiss.
Surprised, Squall brought them to a stop in the middle of the street just by the arcade. Cloud was leaning up to him but his eyes were closed; a tempting offering.
Squall's hand shook a little as he reached up to tenderly touch Cloud’s cheek and hold him tenderly. Once gently held still, he placed several kisses, butterfly light, on his freckled cheeks.
Each kiss made Squall’s chest feel like it was going to explode. He tried not to get carried away; though his inner voice quietly made a wish to kiss Cloud a lot. I want to kiss every freckle you have, and your lips twice for every freckle.
He hovered near the corner of Cloud's mouth and placed a peck there, "All better?" he murmured.
More than just better ,it's what Cloud really wanted to say, but instead he went with, "Ye-yea. All better!" for each little kiss had made his heart leap and made him feel so fuzzy he got ticklish.
But then he thought, Your kisses are the sweetest ... I wonder if mine will make you feel the same …
With that in mind he reached up to give Squall a sweet peck of his own when his stomach decided it had enough of their cheesiness. It grumbled in a loud protest making Cloud blush as red as a lobster while also making him wrap his arms around his hungry belly. He looked at Squall with a face of both embarrassment and surprise.
Squall blinked at the noise, and then grinned, Food it is then. Squall’s hand still lingered on Cloud's reddening cheek and his other hung a little uselessly by his side without Cloud's hand to hold. "So ... lunch? Or is it breakfast for you?" he smiled gently but the tease was obvious.
Now it was Cloud's turn to pout as he responded in a grumble, "More like brunch I suppose ..."
Squall chuckled at him and Cloud looked to the side still feeling a bit embarrassed. Once he did, he saw the restaurant they were supposed to go to and he liked the look of it.
“Oh, is that it?” Cloud asked as he pointed at the building.
Squall looked where Cloud pointed and nodded,”Yes, that’s the one.”
The building looked elegant and modern. It had a long rectangular shape, taking most of the corner of the sidewalk. It's walls were made out stone, and painted in a creamy color. Cloud imagined that the large glass windows provided a pretty nice view of the street from the inside; he tried to imagine what it would look like during the night.
The entrance must look pretty nice too with golden lights Cloud imagined said lights as he admired the dark brown hardwood surface that composed the entrance of the restaurant. The little plants set on specific parts of the place, Cloud found cute, nicely trimmed little bushes set inside big elegant pots.
Squall's eyes also took a moment to admire the modern building, stonework like much of the city and, thankfully, the many tables weren't overcrowded with people. Great, we won't have any trouble finding a seat, Squall thought with a grin, relieved that they did not need to book a table to be served. "What do you think? Worth spending our time here?" he asked, wondering if Cloud had another preference.
“Yea, it looks like it’s worth it and I can already taste the food!” Cloud responded as he towed Squall into the building.
There were people of lots of ages here: Families with kids, people on dates, one or two business workers escaping their office, teenagers and school kids, one or two old enough to be Cadets- and maybe they were- all the way to a group of old ladies sharing the biggest teapot Squall had ever seen.
Must be a quirk of this place. It was vibrant enough to attract lots of people, and the smell of baking bread, the tang of spices and sweet treats on the air made Squall's stomach echo Cloud's in a wish for food.
Cloud giggled when he heard Squall's stomach, "Sounds like you have a hungry lion in there Squall"
Squall snorted at the pun on his surname. He put a hand to his stomach with a laugh, "I hear here's good for Brunch ."
Cloud laughed with Squall but he agreed, the smell emanating from the restaurant was really appetite inducing.
"Well, there's only one way to find out!" Cloud hooked his arm around Squall's and both teens walked into the restaurant.
The inside matched the exterior in terms of themes and colors: plants adorned the place, hardwood tables and tones of dark brown, cream and pewter. And since it wasn't crowded they were quickly seated, Cloud had slightly tugged Squall towards one of the booths beside the windows, as if he had been asking for permission.
Cloud loved the cosy and private feel of the booths as he sat down, it was exactly what he wanted to feel in a date with Squall.
Once they sat down he picked up the menu to give it a first quick scan.
"So have you been here before? Anything you would suggest?"
Squall shook his head, "No, I've never been here," he scanned the menu to try and match some of the delicious smells in the room to dishes on the card. But all he wanted to do was stare at his date. "I've always leaned towards takeout whenever I wanted a special meal, I'd feel too awkward going out to somewhere like this by myself."
The Cadet gave into his desire and gazed across the table at Cloud, a bit sad that their table wasn't narrower to link hands more easily. But at least Cloud was bathed in sunlight, he looked comfortable, and happy; he had rushed them over to the best seats the restaurant had to offer as soon as he spotted them!
Squall silently preened, knowing his choices for today were good ones, their date was going so well already- and I thought I'd maybe get a goodbye kiss after an awkward date, and I'm up to ... ten kisses now? And we held hands, we’re not nervous at all. How'd I get so lucky?
He asked the friendly waitress for water while they were still deciding, then waited to see what Cloud was hungry for.
"Ah, I get what you mean. I can't remember the last time I've been to a place like this. I rarely did since I was always ... Busy," Cloud frowned for the briefest seconds while absently scratching the spot where his bracelet stood. He quickly shook his head, "But anyways, we'll get to experiment together so that's a plus!" despite the width of the table Cloud reached out with one hand in offering for Squall to take. He was craving some of Squall's warmth.
Squall took Cloud’s hand in his eagerly, maybe a little too eagerly as his quick response caused Cloud to giggle. Squall noticed Cloud fiddling with the metal on his wrist but made no comment yet. He thoughtfully ran his thumb over the back of Cloud's hand, rubbing the knuckles with a gentle fingertip; "You mean busy with studies?" he inquired softly, he picked out a burger from the menu and glanced down at milkshakes and coffee briefly before looking up at Cloud waiting for an answer.
At the question Cloud softly put his menu down as his bright pupils made the faintest of movements around Squall's face. Again he absently went to touch the bracelet then looked down with an unreadable expression.
"More or less, yea ... I had to study a lot ..." Cloud turned to look at the window while his pointer finger scratched the chain causing a little jingling racket "Amongst other stuff ..."
Squall tilted his head, interested, but Cloud's voice had been so quiet ...
Concern overruled curiosity for a moment, though he looked at the bracelet, "You okay?"
The concern on Squall's voice brought Cloud back from the short moment of ponderous thinking and anxious fiddling. He looked at Squall who had his attention to Cloud's bracelet. That's when Cloud took his hand away from the bracelet and cleared his throat.
"Oh, um yea, yea. I'm okay" he smiled and picked up the menu again in an attempt to dissipate the small tension. "I think I'll go with the quesadillas, I’m in the mood for chicken. Aaanndd I think I'll have a milkshake too, they sound tasty. What about you, anything caught your eye?"
Squall accepted the conversation shift, it went without saying that Cloud wasn't willing to say anymore, and though Squall didn't really believe that he was 'okay’ he decided not to pry.
The cadet refreshed his own order in his mind and then waved over a waiter. "I agree with the milkshakes, vanilla-chocolate for me, and I'll go for the spiced burger. Any sides?" he asked as he quickly picked out some fries and then turned his smile to Cloud, thrilled that Cloud was still holding his hand.
"I think I'll just have chips with that. And the strawberry-vanilla shake." Cloud said returning a sweet smile to Squall, content that Squall was caressing his hand so tenderly.
“Sounds good,” Squall offered to gather the menus and handed them to the waiter when she had finished jotting down their orders.
The waiter took the menus while amiably saying that she would be back with their drinks shortly. However, Cloud had made an amusing observation about the restaurant’s desert menu and he was itching to make a little fun of it with Squall. So he waited until the nice waitress was out of hearing range and he leaned in a little bit over the table to speak. He sniggered, “Hey Squall, did you see their desert menu?”
Squall slightly tilted his head with curiosity, “No?”
"It really looked like a total shame, it totally lacked originality. There's only so many ways you can dress up a brownie before you admit you're just simply out of ideas." He chuckled again.
Squall grinned, "I hadn't noticed," he admitted, giving the desert menu left on the table another look. Cloud was right, it was a bit restricted. "The only thing they don't have is brownie on a stick," he muttered as he scanned.
"No, it's there too, see," Cloud pointed, still chuckling. Brownie on a stick, disguised as a yummy looking cake ball on a lolly stick, looking like it was trying to mimic the hardboiled lollipops with the bright colours and sprinkles. It was still brownie based though.
Squall's eyebrows rose up a bit, " Wow ." He rolled his eyes, a bit disbelieving that the entire menu was nothing by brownies recycled over and over again.
His teeth showed with a grin when Cloud laughed a bit louder at his dry, sarcastic exclamation of surprise. "I'm not sure if I'm impressed or dissapointed," Squall admitted as he turned the repetitive list away.
He brought Cloud's hand up to his lips and placed a small kiss to his knuckles, "Want to find somewhere else for desert?" Though you're sweet enough to be one all on your own ... should I say that out loud or is that too cheesy? He blushed a little at his own thoughts.
Squall blushed and Cloud wondered why, he really liked it when that happened and he would have said something. But given how Squall has reacted in the past he said nothing and simply encased the brunet's hand between his own, then smiled and proceeded to rub Squall's forearm.
"I could totally go for some ice cream." and when he said that, for some reason he had the quick mental image of him and Squall licking from the same ice cream cone.The idea of them being so close together gave him goosebumps and it was his turn to blush, holding Squall's hand just a little tighter.
"You like Ice cream too?" Squall perked up, cold treats were his favourite, anything icy- which might have added to his reputation as an ice prince even more. Even when presented with hot treats he waited for them to cool before digging in.
"That's my preference every time, the cooler the desert the better. What is your favourite?" he wondered. His eyes moved between Cloud's hand on his arm, which he flexed a bit to make Cloud blush, and Cloud's wide interesting eyes.
The feeling of those hard muscles again had Cloud stuttering, speaking as he stared at he clothed arm, he had the details well memorized, "Uh-we-well, I-I have to admit I have sort of a swee-sweet tooth. I like most sweet treats, but ice cream would definitely be on my top favorites."
But then suddenly, as he touched Cloud felt another small twitch under the sleeve and the movement seemed pretty deliberate.
Did he ... flex on purpose?! Oh, Gaia, Hyne, whichever! Cloud managed to think rationally, and decided that those flexes had to be intentional. And that triggered a little hidden flirty part of him. "I'm known for my love for sweets but," he gave Squall's arm a good squeeze with both hands then massaged it a little letting him know he was onto him, "I think I found my new favorite sweet treat." Cloud almost purred out his words. On the inside he was very shocked with himself, yet, Squall’s reaction was completely worth it!
Squall blinked, red rushing to his cheeks and turning him as bright as Ifrit! His face felt like it was burning up: Cloud's words, and that purring voice was something he'd never expected from one so sweet and innocent. Hyne, it took about two months before Cloud realised Squall had a deep crush on him! Squall was not prepared for this !
He coughed, almost choking on a gulp of surprise, and valiantly tried to rescue himself from a coughing fit by clearing his throat.
Cloud giggled at him wordlessly.
Squall pouted. He stole my line … well two can play at that game, he thought as he turned that slight sulk into a grin, and retaliating.
"Does that mean you'll be taking a bite out of me, Sweet Tooth?" he flexed again, then twisted his hand to cup Cloud's jaw, smirking as he added, in a sultry voice he'd never used before, as he stroked his fingertips under Cloud's chin; "It would be an ironic twist of fate for a Medic to put me in hospital ..."
The feeling was new but it was rather thrilling. Cloud was melting by Squall's smooth tone. The smirk, the little playful glint on Squall's eyes, Cloud could only think about how hot the Gunblader looked and sounded. Cloud was really liking this whole flirting thing. He removed his chin from Squall's grasp to nibble on one of Squall's fingers. Barely a touch but it still had Cloud blushing with a little shy smirk of his own
"You taste good though. Not sure if I can't resist," Cloud gave him a little wink.
Squall's blush got a little worse: Cloud nibbled him! How could he not blush?
But his smirk stayed, "You'd better find the will to resist. We're in public," he snickered, snorting slightly as they both sheepishly glanced around, hoping other people hadn't heard their most recent conversation.
They looked at each other and laughed again, Squall's ribs hurt trying to keep his laugh levels low enough to not cause a scene.
He leaned on his hand, some semblance of control back, "So you like flirting?" he went back to playing with Cloud's fingers, his own tickling Cloud's palm whenever he moved to memorise another fingertip.
Squall's question made Cloud dip his head with a shy smile, his hand curling around Squall’s in response to the feather light touches.
"I’ve ... Never have done it before really. You're the first person I’ve tried it with," he chuckled and his cheeks turned more red "But I did like it ... You looked pretty cute when you blushed ... "
Squall raised an eyebrow, leaning back in surprised disbelief!
" I'm cute? You're the one who brings a wolf plushie to work in your bag every day," he returned quickly, reaching out to boop Cloud on the nose as if to gently, lightly scold him for mistaking who was the cuter of the pair.
Squall glanced about the table, and either side of Cloud, leaning dramatically far to make it clear he was searching. "Speaking of which, I'm surprised Fenrir hasn't popped up yet to join us. What's he up to today?"
The boop Squall gave him on the nose made Cloud laugh softly and he idly touched the booped spot.
"I left him back at home guarding all of my stuff. My medical tools are pretty pricey, don't want them getting stolen by a goblin." Cloud clawed the air and bared his teeth like if he were the creature.
Squall snorted, hiding his mouth with a hand, “I’m not sure goblins are a problem so much as burglars.”
“Hey, you never know. Either way I wouldn’t want them missing, they cost me a fortune!” he pulled his lips to the side as it occurred to him that maybe he was exaggerating a little bit, “Well … for my standards anyways” he shrugged sheepishly.
Squall paused as Cloud’s final sentence struck an enlightening trail of thought, he knew Cloud's occupation but learnt something new: that the medical tools that Cloud owned were paid for out of his own pocket.
Squall, having been provided for all his life by the academy, realised that getting those tools must have taken a lot of saving, and a lot of investment. "Loyal Wolf, keeping them safe ..."
They glanced up as their waitress arrived with their drinks, the milkshakes looking pleasantly bright coloured. She gave them another beaming smile at their linked hands before hurrying off to gossip with her colleges. Squall didn't pay attention, but at least three other staff members glanced their way with repressed noises of adoration.
There was a brief pause in conversation as they enjoyed their drinks. Squall took the time to try and think of a subtle way to bring up his question. He failed, so he just went bluntly; "So, why did you want to become a medic? It's not something to be taken lightly with all the studying, expenses and emotional trials ..."
The question was unexpected and it made Cloud frown just a little as he sipped from his shake. He vaguely thought of how good the drink was before he consider his answer, his fingers lightly drumming the cold glass in his grip.
"Um ... quite frankly, I never planned for any of it, really..." he pulled his glass a little closer, encasing it between both of his hands.
Cloud chuckled softly and gave a fond little smile as he stared at the drink. "It's all courtesy of Dr Kadowaki. If it wasn't for her, I honestly don't know where I'd be today ..." Cloud's tone had gone a little low towards the end of the sentence while his attention remained on his shake. He was thoughtful, flooded with memories he hasn't brought up in quite a long time.
Squall tilted his head, confused, "That didn't really answer my question," he admitted.
He'd asked about the reasoning, the why and instead got the history. But Cloud was no longer looking at him, or smiling. Squall squeezed Cloud's hand and wondered if it was wrong of him to have asked ...
Cloud looked up at Squall's squeeze to draw back his attention, something that was easily deviated when it came to this particular topic.
"Sorry. It’s just that this topic reminds me of ... certain things. But I don't wanna ramble so, to answer your question:" Cloud took a deep breath focusing now on Squall's warm hand, "I've always been exposed to medicine. I grew up around so it’s always had my interest even as a little boy." Cloud looked again at Squall’s eyes to gauge his reaction.
The Cadet’s eyebrows rose a little, “So young.” He rubbed his thumb over Cloud’s knuckles, “Was that the only choice for you?” Squall winced at how silly he sounded, “I mean, did you know all the way back then that Medicine was the path for you? Nothing else?”
The question brought memories from his childhood making Cloud smile softly again, "Nah, it’s not like that, it’s just that I’ve always loved mending things. Whether you were a broken toy motorcycle or an injured little bird in the backyard." He paused and thought to add a little humor to his explanation, "So I guess I had plenty of options: it was either this, a vet, or becoming a mechanic."
Squall chuckled at this, "They’re both such hard crafts to study and master.” Squall felt that it said a lot about Cloud that he was prepared to work hard to achieve high, and it said even more that Cloud had achieved one of them; he was determined, pragmatic, and clever.
Still, Squall couldn’t help but imagine him as his other once-goals. He smiled, “You would have made a cute mechanic, or a sweet vet," he confided, though it wasn't a secret.
Cloud giggled as his cheeks turned red actually feeling pretty flattered both by what Squall said and how he was looking at him. It almost made him want to look away, “Yea? You think so?”
Squall nodded with a smile, one side of his mouth higher than the other, "So that's why you're still keeping up to date with modern bikes now? Because you liked to fix smaller versions when you were younger?"
Just thinking about a smaller Cloud made Squall want to cover his face and whimper: It would be too cute to handle, he was positive; if only he could see a photo to confirm!
"I guess? I mean, I just think bikes are so cool! I used to help my Dad tinker them, and when I behaved he would sometimes take me for a ride around the block!” as Cloud spoke his words sounded elated but nostalgic as he was travelling back to a childhood he rarely relived.
But after a very short silence he added, “However, there is another reason ...” Cloud scratched his head looking a bit embarrassed and thinking halfway whether he should tell Squall or not.
“Other reason?” Squall prompted when Cloud was silent too long. The blond pouted and stubbornly slurped his drink while staring out the window, keeping his silence.
Squall could not keep patient as the seconds dragged on. He poked at Cloud’s cheek to get his attention back, “You can’t say there’s another reason and not say it,” he attempted to persuade.
Cloud let out a very low growl and he put his drink down. Yet he could agree with Squall, it would not be fair to prompt curiosity and not satisfy it.
“Let’s just say that I have a certain, problem with travelling inside closed vehicles ... they make me feel dizzy ... very dizzy," Cloud pouted again and slurped on his shake again.
"Carsickness? Or motion in general?" Squall guessed based on Cloud’s description.
Their conversation paused a moment when their waitress appeared with their food, it looked and smelled amazing. Squall gave her an awkward sounding 'thanks', completely nervous compared to how he spoke with Cloud, but she accepted and left, promising to bring sauces in a minute.
Squall had a sudden thought though, "Wait, how were you able to ride the bike then?"
Cloud rolled his eyes and unintentionally let his annoyance show, "Ugh, I knew that was coming.” If only I got paid for every time I hear this!
Squall leaned back in alarm! “Sorry,” he stuttered, Cloud’s sharp tone catching him off guard.
“No, no it’s not you. Sorry it’s just that---” Cloud cut himself off with a sharp exhale to subdue his irritation. He rubbed his temples as he continued, “People tend to question me in a mocking way or to imply that I’m a liar or that I’m exaggerating.”
Squall bit his lip and nervously glanced around, not sure what to say. “Well … we were going pretty fast-”
"No, no, no it’s like, people make assumptions without looking up some information. First of all, let's remember that there's medication for motion sickness." there was still a bit of annoyance in his tone and he sat straight, pushed his shake aside, and put his hands together as he continued to explain,
"Second: To answer your question, we must understand how motion sickness actually works. Motion sickness is caused when our brain receives conflicting messages from our sensory systems such as the eyes and ears. So , when you're sitting in the back of a car and reading a book, for example, your body will sense the movements but your eyes are not. Ergo, your body is telling your brain that you are moving, but your eyes are telling it the complete opposite. Think of it as, you’re confusing your brain. However, this brings me to my next point which the answer to the question: ‘How can Cloud possibly ride a bike if the supposedly has motion sickness?’ Well, the answer is simple really, like everything motion sickness has solutions. One of them being the actual driver in the car. When you drive the car, you’re focusing on the road so all of your senses are conveying the same message to your brain. Other remedies consist of looking outside a window or taking in fresh air -though the window option doesn’t work too well for me- but, that’s not the point. Point is if I’m driving a bike, wouldn’t that take care of two of those remedies? Hm?" with that Cloud finished his very long rant, looking at Squall while taking a big sip from his shake.
Squall blinked a lot during Cloud's rant, and then at the end, when Cloud called on him he held his hands up in slight surrender. "Okay okay, I understand. Sorry.”
He sighed and clasped his hands around his milkshake, "I was just worried, you were so at home on the bike. But if you had been feeling sick that whole time ..." Squall made a face, eyebrows pinching in concern and anxiety, not sure how to describe how gutted he would have felt to have accidently made Cloud motion-sick.
He raised his head with a shy smile, "But I'm happy to hear that there are conditions not met for motion sickness when riding a bike. I wouldn't know the specifics because I never get it, motion sickness just seemed to apply to all motion in my head. Though I'll remember now, Doctor Strife," he managed an almost normal smile again. His hand removed itself from the drink to rest on the table, then on his other arm, it felt cold and weird without Cloud holding it. Miss that ... better hope lunch is over quick to have the next opportunity to hold hands here faster.
Squall had only had his well being in mind the whole time and now Cloud felt bad for the little rant. His frustration was never directed at Squall, but he should've kept himself more in control.
"I'm sorry... I wasn't mad at you. It just infuriates me" Cloud mumbled as he sank a little into his chair with a pout. "'Oh, how will you ever drive a bike if you have motion sickness and blah blah blah'," after the mock Cloud huffed and rested his cheek on a fist and took the first bite out of one of his cheesy chicken quesadillas.
Squall shook his head and smiled at him, "I think you can do anything you put your determination to." He took a bite of his burger too, taking a moment to stuff it with a few fries first, unable to help his little habit even in public; it just tasted so good.
Cloud perked up when he saw what Squall was doing with his fries. He looked excited as he spoke, any frustration gone as if never there. "Oh hey! I like doing that too!"
At first Squall blinked, taking a second to realize what Cloud was referring to. When he did he looked at his burger then at Cloud with surprise. "Re-really?" Squall asked as a big smile spread on his face and Cloud nodded vigorously.
"Ah-huh! it tastes ssooooo gooood!" Cloud smiled at him back, excited over the fact that he shared similar tastes with Squall.
"I-it does! Everyone looks at me funny when I do it."
“I know! They look at me weird too, but you know what? They don’t know what they’re missing.” Cloud said smugly and he winked causing both of them to chuckle.
After that, the two lovebirds finished the rest of their lunch. Squall paid and gave their waitress a well deserved tip and then they exited with their stomachs full and happy.
"That was very good! We should come here again sometime." Cloud said as he looped an arm around Squall's and leaned into him, asking with excitement "So where are we going next?"
Squall was smiling so much his cheeks were hurting. He couldn’t remember grinning and laughing as much as he had today.
He spied Cloud lean into his side, completely at ease with their closeness, and hold Squall’s arm close to him. Squall squeezed him a little closer, accidently giving Cloud another bicep muscle flex to feel; Squall was just enjoying how Cloud always wanted to be close to him.
People rarely wanted to be this close, especially ones that Squall liked.
Back outside, the sunlight made Cloud glow, Squall almost missed the question entirely. He jumped a bit when he realised he was supposed to continue the conversation, "Um ..." His eyes went up to the sky for a moment as he recalled the day plan he'd made for their date.
"How about the arcade?" he asked, Something fun, something interesting too. Maybe I'll get to see another side to Cloud there ...
Though it wasn't intentional the little flex caused Cloud's finger to curl a bit more into the covered muscle.
"Ye-yea. The arcade sounds fun." he blushed, wondering where the courage from his earlier flirt had gone. Despite how firm the muscles were leaning into Squall was like cuddling Fenrir but better. He was glad when Squall pulled him closer, content that Squall enjoyed the exchange of little affectionate gestures. He also had the sudden urge to see Squall without his jacket ... it'd be nice to see those sculpted arms in another breathtaking display of strength. And off went Cloud's mind as he thought of that perfect image: the one his brain concocted of Squall wearing Cloud's glasses while being shirtless.
"Oh dear..." he meant to say that in his mind, but Cloud whimpered the words as he covered his eyes, hoping that the alluring image would go away.
Squall immediately reacted, "Huh? Something wrong?" he reached with his free hand to delicately move some of Cloud's bangs from his face. He grew a little amused when he watched Cloud stubbornly hiding.
"Cloud?" He asked, a chuckle in his voice, making the smooth sound of Cloud's name a little richer.
That rich, mature voice in turn had Cloud's hairs bristling to the point he shuddered. The image was stubbornly refusing to leave and Cloud had no doubt that his whole face was beet red. He had to swallow a few times and he chuckled nervously as he tugged on Squall's arm.
"We-we should go to the arcade now, yea? Please?" I need a distraction! Hyne have mercy! the plea was just a hair away from a squeak making Cloud cringe at himself from how obvious he was being.
Squall let out a soft sigh at the highly embarrassed pitch of voice, I hope I didn’t do something . Squall then turned his head down just a few inches to press his lips to Cloud's temple. "If something's wrong, you'll let me know, right?" he checked, saying it privately by Cloud's ear.
Cloud nodded, pulling his hand away from his face to show some skin colour worthy of a sunburn in august. Squall wondered what had caused that: Blushing? I hope he's not feverish ... well he's a medic, so he'll tell me if he feels weird. He'll know, Squall led the way again, confident that Cloud would be okay until he judged otherwise.
Squall pulled out his sunglasses and slipped them on as the light glared down at them, "I think I prefer to look at the sunlight reflecting off of you than this glare," he murmured, a bit shy about other people hearing him being so forward, and yet so honest.
Yep, there goes what's left of my brain. And since he does he use sunglasses?!! For Hyne's sake it's like he's trying to kill me!
Cloud gulped and had to loosen the neck of his shirt, and fanned himself with it too; because if it not be for that he would overheat, he was certain!
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating … a little bit, but can he get any hotter? Cloud rolled back his lips and clung to Squall's arm with both hands.
It didn't take them long to reach the next stop of their date, the arcade wasn't far. Though Cloud could have used a little extra time to come back from the near-fatal swooning he just had. Courtesy of a completely oblivious Squall.
Squall glanced up at the massive building, low ceiling, bright displays, lights and exposed wires were everywhere in sight. There were money slots pinging, gambling machines guarded closely by a bouncer periodically checking for ID, Vs games beeping, consoles of all models musically advertising, prize winning games, carnival games, one or two people selling candy and snacks. Harmonising in a cacophony of crowded noises.
Thankfully it was the time of day without the noisey young school children to add to the lively din. No youth running about and picking the best places to sit and hogging the best game machines.
Squall glanced at Cloud and put his sunglasses away, "You're still very red, are you okay?" he asked, rubbing Cloud's back gently.
The initial reaction to the rub was Cloud standing as straight as an arrow, a little squeak sounded at the back of his throat and Cloud hoped that only he himself heard it. But he quickly melted under the soothing movement and he rubbed his face humming an approving response.
"Yea. I'm fine. Just a little ... hot outside." he responded when he remembered he had to say something to Squall in order to calm him.
"You sure?" Squall inisted leaning in to look at him.
Cloud nodded as he diverted his attention to look around the when something quickly -and thankfully- caught his eye. A few steps away was a sign that read: 'Triple Triad tournament! Come and show off your strategic skills!'
"Oh hey, look over there Squall." he shook the brunet's arm while pointing with his other hand, "Looks they're holding a Triad competition over there."
Squall glanced up at the mention of his favourite game, temporarily distracted from Cloud's odd behaviour, much to the blond's relief.
"Hmm, I had no idea there was a group here." He gave the prizes a glance over and hummed to himself, there were a few good ones. He'd have to keep an eye out for more tournaments in the future ... since he'd left his deck at home.
Squall sighed, "I didn't bring my cards with me, damn. Top prize looks interesting too," he glanced over the little figurines that were for winning, aware that some of them were worth their weight in gold normally. "The one day I leave them out of my pocket."
Cloud certainly did not expect Squall to grumble almost like a pouty child. It caused Cloud to giggle behind his fist.
"Aawww, maybe they have starter packs to lend us? I've never played before and I’d love it if you teach me? Please?" Cloud asked in the sweetest way he could muster, holding on to Squall's arm and looking up to playfully bat his lashes.
"Er-" Squall rubbed his nose, at the scar point, and glanced away as Cloud used those big eyes on him. That has to be illegal …
He saw that there were in fact some starter packs on the fringe groups of the cluster of tables, someone looking really depressed was guarding them- likely they'd already been defeated in the contest.
I wonder how long this game has been playing for …
Squall gave Cloud a bit of a smile, and a happy sigh and nodded, "Okay, let's do it."
“Whoo!” Cloud whooted but not too loud and he gave Squall a gentle pull to lead him towards the tables ahead where the starter packs were.
"Which one do you think we should go with Squall?" Cloud's excitement was enough to rival that of a child's, his dual colored eyes even looking as if they were alight.
Squall scooped up a pair of them and idly looked at the top cards to see what they had to offer. They seemed to be good enough, though honestly they were a jumble, just like any starter pack, not geared or practiced towards a strategy or a winning chain of events.
The kid guarding the starterpacks didn't even glance up at them, staring longingly at the games ongoing. Squall raised an eyebrow at him, then turned to a free table; "They're all basic cards, a random mix."
He gave Cloud one of the decks and sat opposite him on a small table, "The aim of the game is to win as many cards as possible by having the higher rank," he pointed to the numbers. "You must have ten to win, nine on the square and one in your hand all captured to your colour. Sometimes elemental boosts or effects can come into play, but I'm not sure these cards will have those," he gave the beginners cards a bit of a silent scoff, missing his deck. Hopefully this'll be fun regardless. I'm sure teaching Cloud will be interesting.
Cloud hummed going into his patented 'focus mode'. He attentively listened to Squall's explanation while, to better read the cards, he took out his glasses and put them on, staring at every detail the cards had. He saw the cards had different monsters and that the background of his cards were pink while Squall's were blue.
“The color in the background, I’m assuming that’s just to tell us apart, yea?” he looked at Squall's face and saw him sort of pouting at the cards in his hands and Cloud smiled. “Squall? Are you grumbling?”
Squall looked up sharply at the call of his name, his eyes narrowed a little, “ No ...” he responded. Yet his tone of voice confirmed Cloud’s observation.
"Ah-huh …” of course Cloud didn’t believe him and that only made the blond teen smirk. He choose not to tease Squall for it though … not today at least. “Alright, I think I get it. But there’s only one way to find out. I'm so ready to beat you," he challenged with a smirk.
Squall saw Cloud looking competitive and smirked, amused and sweetened by his look over those glasses. His bad mood evaporated instantly. "You're going to beat me on your first try?" he chuckled and flipped a coin, catching it and keeping it hidden, "Heads or tails?"
"Tails. And oh yea, so you better get ready, you'll barely know what hit you Leonhart." Cloud was feeling pretty cheeky but he wasn't just teasing, he actually felt competitive and hoped to beat Squall. At least once. But it wasn't the only goal in his mind, he was looking forward to have fun with something Squall clearly enjoyed. It just made Cloud more happier to see Squall in a more carefree side.
The coin was Heads, Squall showed it to Cloud to prove it was genuine, it sat innocently on the back of his hand. "Heads, I start," Squall said, a little redundantly, but he was a little excited to play.
"Pick up five cards in your hand, reach for more when you play or discard them, but always hold five," he instructed Cloud. Picking his up and putting down a card quickly since it was going to be a basic game and he was more focused on making sure Cloud knew the rules before playing with any strategy.
Which meant, in turn, that the first few rounds might give Cloud an advantage … the competitive streak in Squall was feeling dented at being so easily brushed aside for chivalry.
As the turns passed the more confidence Cloud gained and the more excited he got. He always listened and paid attention to Squall's rules though, he wanted to learn as quick as he could so he could beat Squall in a fair game. As they went along, Squall took the time to explain with examples and hypothetical scenarios where spells, effects and other rules would take place. It was a lot of information to swallow, but Cloud's head was used to gathering heavy information so he had his ways of retaining most of it.
Cloud won the first match, but he wasn't particularly proud of it as it was more of a mimic match just so Squall could teach him. That didn't mean he didn't took the chance to tease Squall by gesturing like he was polishing his nails on his shirt.
Squall's competitive streak didn't take it too hard though, it was just a little dented.
Squall huffed and he smirked, "Showing off, are we? You ready for a little more serious round?"
"I was born ready " Cloud replied while cracking his knuckles really liking this competitive side of Squall. There were little sparks of a playful rivalry between them that ignited Cloud's own competitive side.
They started the next match quickly, Cloud would repeat the rules he was just explained under his breath as it was one of his ways of memorizing things. Of course he did make questions here and there but could overall play without much guidance, which, Squall was happy for since he could feel the challenge and was impressed by the fact that Cloud, even in learning, was a pretty tricky foe.
Cloud’s moves were not always tactical, which made him unpredictable to plan against. Squall's overall cautious yet lightning fast attack method was enough to push Cloud back most of the time, but the blond was a wild card.
Squall won their second match with a pleased grin, laughing briefly in unrestrained joy when Cloud demanded a rematch, claiming he was going easy on him to let that bruise from the first game heal.
"You're mouthy when you're competing," Squall teased, purring slightly as they reset the board. His eyes were lit up as he saw the same determined spirit in Cloud as what burned in himself. Squall was glad to have something in common, perhaps in other games he'd see it again. He silently made plans to get some two player games for the future.
"I like it." Though your smack talk is more adorable than threatening. He was tempted to say it out loud, but held that back as Cloud snatched the coin from the table to flip.
Cloud pouted but said nothing as he picked Tails and in a struck of luck the coin landed on his end.
"Ha! I begin this round." He teased having too much fun with their back and forth.
This time around was more easier to keep up with Squall's strategic mind. Even if Cloud was mostly making it up as he went, he was able to read and counterattack Squall's assaults.
I don't know what's more fun: the game itself or just playing with Squall. Maybe both, though I think that playing with Squall just makes it all the more interesting! smiling shyly, Cloud paused his thoughts for a moment blushing slightly as he stared at his cards, Though I think that all I’ve been doing with Squall has made me feel that way.
And yet, despite those innocent thoughts, Cloud gave it his all and in a few more rounds wound up in a draw with Squall. They both stared at the board surprised then looked at each other ... Squall smirked first then Cloud grinned returning the glint of challenge that was in Squall's eyes.
"You know what that means." Squall taunted.
"Sudden Death!" Cloud exclaimed trying to deepen his voice a bit more for dramatic effect. And then both teens laughed.
In one quick draw Cloud became the victor over a very shocked Cadet. At first Cloud couldn't believe it, not being able to express words he huffed while pointing at the board using his free hand to hold his bangs back.
Squall growled and rested his cheek on one of his hands drumming the fingers of the other hand on the table: Watching with a pout as Cloud whooped, jumping from his seat.
After Cloud celebrated his victory he looked at the pouty teenager and was immediately endeared with the face.
"Aaawww," Cloud cooed as he made his way to Squall, wrapping his arms around Squall's neck before partially sitting on one of his thighs and giving him a sweet kiss on the cheek, "I couldn't have done it without your teaching. You're a great teacher."
Cloud's words didn't make Squall feel much better. He continued to pout through the several sweet kisses placed on his cheek as he waited for the bruise on his pride to feel a bit less sore.
Cloud, in this instance, wasn't helping him by bestowing this amount of sympathy on him.
Squall turned away, still pouting, but wrapped his arms around Cloud to support him on his perch, liking his weight against him. "Beginners luck," he grumbled, blushing a little when Cloud kept laughing at him. If I had my personal cards he wouldn't be sitting here laughing.
Not surprised by his train of thought, he was trained to always seek improvement as a mercenary, Squall mentally debated over the validity of that victory, knowing that using a refined deck against a beginner was unfair. Out of the question unfair. It wouldn't have meant anything in terms of bringing him a victorious satisfaction.
Yet, if Cloud had lost, with the fair cards or against his pro ones, he would have taken defeat with grace, Squall knew. It was just a subtle difference between them.
He sighed, realising that he was just making a fool of himself, and turned his head to rest on Cloud's shoulder, "Did you have fun?"
Still smiling from endearment Cloud leaned his head over Squall's, giving his arms a gentle squeeze to press Squall closer.
"A whole lot! To be honest this game is much more fun than I expected" he placed a delicate kiss on the top of Squall's head, then leaned on it again. "And it was even more fun playing against you. Thank you for teaching me and I'm definitely looking forward for future challenges."
Squall huffed, finally letting his pout morph into a small smile, "Good. Because I'm not going to pity you after that defeat." He reached up and stole Cloud’s glasses in swift movement and slipped them on his own nose, "You'd better do your homework." He smirked, laughing at himself, and ruined the image of stern teacher instantly.
Even this close his poor nearsight could process just how irresistibly sexy Squall looked with glasses. Cloud had to fight the swoon just so he wouldn’t drop dead across Squall's lap. He managed though by pulling Squall to his feet along with himself, taking back his glasses.
"I wouldn't expect a-any less fro- from you" okay, so at least he managed not to stutter too much, that was good. Proud, he put on his eyeglasses again. Then asked, "Wanna see what else is there around to play? "
Squall smirked again, noticing the slight stutter and gathering up the cards while Cloud blushed and flustered; Is that the glasses or something else that causes that? he wondered, handing the cards back to the sulky kid guarding them; who didn't even raise his head to acknowledge their return.
Squall ignored him too, and stood close to Cloud as they walked back towards the hub of games, feeling happy and proud of himself when he casually slipped their fingers together to hold hands, without hesitating or blushing. It felt so natural.
"Anything around here caught your eyes?" he wondered, "Want to try the slot machines?"
Cloud mock gasped and nudged their shoulders together, "Squall! We're underage!" he pretended to scold.
Squall just laughed and they went towards the lively carnival section to see what there was on offer, so far Squall had only really seen a few retro games that looked interesting, but waited for Cloud to speak up since he wanted to do something Cloud enjoyed next. So long as he doesn't ask to go on the Dance games I think I'm up for anything.
Cloud laughed along with Squall hiding his face into Squall's arm.
"Silly." He told him as he turned to look around to see what game caught his attention. “Let’s see … um …” retro games, fighting games, sports games, Cloud eyed them all with lips to one side.
Cloud was split between the hockey tables or one of the racing games. He was about to ask Squall to help him decide when, not so far away, he spotted a shooting range booth. Now, what had Cloud's interest wasn't the game itself, no, it was one of the prizes.
The young medic didn't realize he had stopped walking, halting Squall as well; he really tried not to whimper and he really tried not to coo ... outloud, that is. Because hanging from a corner of the booth was the most adorable chocobo plush he has ever seen: Medium sized, yellow as can be, an adoringly big head with spiky 'feathers' and blushy cheeks. Big blue eyes and stubby wings holding a red fluffy heart.
Cloud quickly looked away, feeling embarrassed as he considered he was to old for such toys ... but the little toy bird called to him. Cloud's eyes stood no chance and he had to look, albeit, discreetly. The teen bit the inside of his cheek.
Cloud had gone quiet and brought their lazy wandering to a stop when he halted in his tracks, Squall looked at him and followed his line of sight to spot the adorable cause. Cloud pouting a bit, face pinched with longing and his eyes flitting towards the shooting range, or just above it where the prize counter was.
He was shaking with some kind of repressed emotion and when Squall took a glance at the prizes himself he thought he spotted the reason. "It's cute. Do you want it?"
At the question a soft hum sounded at the back of Cloud's throat as he looked at Squall. His cheeks showed some of his embarrassment.
"Wha- what are you t-talking 'bout? " he mumbled looking down an away from Squall.
Oh no... I think he noticed...
"Well you stopped to stare at it just now-" Squall pointed out. Cloud just got redder. Squall leaned against his shoulder to offer him somewhere to turn and hide his ruby face if he wanted. "It's okay, I think it's cute too."
Cloud’s hand one laced with Squall's while the other held on to the brunet's arm, both squeezing a little hard as Cloud pressed his lips together firmly.
"Yea... It is cute. Doesn't mean I wannit..." except, he did no matter how nonchalant he tried to sound; mumbling and so obviously trying to resist the urge to hide into Squall's arm wasn't going to help his case. Or, perhaps he should have hid his face into Squall, maybe that would've prevented him from looking at the little plush bird again and from further digging himself a hole.
Squall rolled his eyes, Can you be any more obvious? He reached across with one hand and tucked a strand of blond hair out of Cloud's face. "Hmm ..." Wow, that pout.
Cloud’s expression helped him make up his mind. He quickly dug out some change, "What do we need to shoot to win it?"
"I dunno … why would I if I don’t need it ..." he shrugged just like a little kid when they refused to accept they wanted something; trying to ignore Squall and grumbling under his breath.
Squall kissed his cheek, "Then I'll have to win it for Fenrir. As an apology for stealing you for the day, I'm sure he'll love the new company, it's as cute as you are," he even felt brave enough to wink before stepping up to the stall to see what the prize qualifications were. Top prize? “Limited edition plushie, hit all targets within the time frame.”
"B-bu-but---" between the compliment and the kiss all Cloud did was stutter then cut himself off; looking up at the plushie to wonder just how soft or fluffy the toy was … Cloud crossed his arms in a little stubborn protest, seeming to forget that his next choice of words would not help his position.
"Fine ... for Fenrir's sake then. I suppose he does get lonely … I guess ... maybe ..."
"Alright," Squall laughed, pulling Cloud back to his side as they made their way to the front of the booth. Though Squall made sure that Cloud was out of the way enough for him to safely aim.
The brunet handed the stall owner the money and stating that he was going for the top prize- the man's smug look, doubting him, was enough to fan the flames of a new kind of competitive nature in him. I'll take that look off of your face, old man.
"Want to wish me luck?" he asked Cloud softly, as he was given the rifle and pellet bullets.
Cloud thought about wishing Squall luck for a bit as he was still being stubborn. He knew he would feel bad if he ignored Squall so he turned to give Squall a quick kiss on the cheek.
Squall nodded and held up the rifle. To make this game more unfair for most of the customers playing; reloading time was included, and the rifle shot one pellet at a time. Squall pulled the gun open to see how it worked and silently appraised his chances; so long as there wasn’t a jam this rifle would work well within the time.
"Ready kid?" the owner asked, stepping back and holding up a timer filled with sand and painted like candy canes.
Squall ignored him and patiently set up the ammo in a neat line, he loaded his first shot then held up the gun, "Ready."
"All the targets before one minute is up. Ready, set- Go!"
Squall's trigger was pulled a second later, reload, fire, hit. Reload, fire, hit. The rhythm was a bit different to his gunblade, but familiar enough to keep him on target every single time. Each circle of red and white fell one by one. There were only two really challenging ones, and that was because they were partly hidden behind a curtain, and one was being propped up in the corner- not even on a stand. Before he knew it, he'd ran out of bullets and targets.
He set down the rifle but when he was out of his focus he noticed that the people around him were very still.
... Why is everyone staring and quiet? he glanced about. "What?"
The stall owner was still holding the sand timer. "... half-time ... Fucking hell, kid."
Having witnessed Squall’s skill before, there had been absolutely no doubt in Cloud's mind that Squall would be able to pass the challenge. But Squall just seemed cooler each time he did it. Cloud was left mouth opened while his poor heart was about to take flight from how fast it was beating.
Cloud did notice something though, for a quick moment before Squall started shooting, Cloud noted a single flash of green overtook the calm slate in Squall’s eyes. From there Squall just emitted this powerful presence Cloud was already familiar with but still left him breathless.
He pressed his hand to his fluttery heart, he wanted to compliment him, he just couldn't find a word to do Squall's coolness justice.
Squall turned to Cloud, who was blushing and big eyed. Squall pushed away the toy rifle, almost entirely forgetting about the prize and the people giving him open mouthed stares. "You okay Cloud?" he checked, resting a gentle hand on Cloud's shoulder. "You look a little-"
"You were so cool! No, amazing! Just---holy shit!" Cloud interrupted Squall, jumping into him for a hug then looked up at him with awe and admiration.
But Cloud wasn't the only one that interrupted, "Damn it kid! You even shoot my reserves! Bloody hell, you plan on ruining me!" the fuming stall owner grunted taking the riffle away.
Squall hugged Cloud back and twisted his neck, a little painfully, to see the stall owner, "Um- sorry, no I-" he rubbed at his scar self consciously as several of the crowd began to clap him on the shoulder or say praise of their own. "I-I thought they were obvious enough to aim for ... and I didn't want to risk not winning," he added, glancing down at Cloud with a soft smile.
"Aw, don't apologize Squall! You were fantastic!" Cloud hugged him again a little tighter snuggling into him while he was at it.
Squall sighed in relief and then turned to point up at the toy-
"You're not a fucking soldier are you, kid?" the stall owner asked, not moving. Still standing there looking like the cat who lost the cream. Shrewdly waiting for Squall to say anything that would invalidate his challenge.
Squall hesitated, knowing that if he said he was a training mercenary this man would say or do something to cause a scene. "Just a student. The Chocobo plush please," he pointed again, keeping his words to the point and as polite as he could.
But the stall owner still refused to budge, now demanding to know where he learnt to shoot, was it legal and-
"Dude, just give him the damn thing," someone in line swore.
"Yeah, he won it fair and square, it's not his fault your game was child's play to him."
With more heckling happening all around them, the stall owner finally relinquished his prize. Knocking it off the roof with the rifle and sneering at how Squall caught it with ease. "Fine. But don't come back."
"Wasn't planning to," Squall returned icily and guided Cloud away, the crowd making him uncomfortable with the amount of attention he’d earned.
Once out of the crowd and standing in a quieter spot of the arcade he held out the toy for Cloud, holding it with two hands and letting Cloud go to present it properly. "For yo- oh, sorry," he chuckled, holding it out of reach with teasing chuckles, "I mean for Fenrir . I'd better hold onto it-"
Cloud's hands were left hanging empty in mid-air as Squall took the plush out of reach. Once again embarrassed he lowered his hands and pouted.
“Heeeeyyyyy, but he’s not the one on a date! That’s not fair!” Cloud’s protest was so near a whine that he almost looked like a fuming little chocobo chick squawking for food.
Cloud reaching up, almost spitting feathers in frustration was making Squall shake with laughter. He held the toy up higher and his smug smile melted into mirth, “No no no, you agreed ‘for Fenrir’ before I paid,” he reminded Cloud, poking his nose lightly.
It was such a challenge to say anything to Cloud, much less a tease, without devolving into laughter. Squall had no idea where he was drawing the willpower to stay focused.
But Cloud wasn’t about to give up on that adorable yellow plush. He tried to stretch out his arm as much as he could to reach it, but Squall leaned back a little with his arm stretched all the way up as well. Cloud tipped himself on his toes and supported himself on Squall, grunting as he tried to reach. It caused Squall to huff in amusement and still tried hard not to laugh.
“Come on Squall!” Cloud whined again.
“Nope.” Squall held it as high as he could, huffing uncontrollably when Cloud sounded ready to explode with denied want, pouting with red spots on his cheeks from frustration.
“B-but I saw it first! ” if Squall wouldn’t give it to him, then he would try to take it … Or at least try. The short medic tried jumping to get what he wanted.
Squall backstepped, “Whoa, better try harder, Cloud,” he taunted. Squall leaned forward to steal a quick kiss on Cloud’s pouty lips; then turned and quickly weaved his way through the crowd towards the exit with the Plush safely in his possession.
The kiss caught him off guard making Cloud blink a few times while blushing in the middle of the arcade. Once he was no longer dumbfounded he shook his head and went in pursuit. “Oh no you don’t! ”
Squall slipped out of the arcade, covering his mouth to keep a laugh muted as Cloud’s little roar of determination reached him through the crowd. He’s squawking again, he snickered.
The cadet waited for Cloud to spot him again before waving the plush tauntingly, wide playful smile on his face at Cloud’s dramatically angry, determined expression. “Well if you don’t try to take it ... how do I know you really want it more then Fenrir?”
“Ugh, come on! You know, you can be the worst when you really want to, right” Cloud protested as he ran towards the teasing brunet. Squall made Cloud chase him for a bit more having to slow down his speed just a little every here and then so Cloud wouldn’t lose him. It was at times like this that Cloud would curse his short legs, catching up to the cadet was a bit of a challenge.
He is a trained mercenary after all … Doesn’t mean I can’t keep up though. Like before, Cloud felt that little spark of competitiveness that gave him a bit of a boost. Mere minutes, and a few streets, later Cloud saw that Squall stopped by a park a few feet ahead. When he was near the brunet Cloud jogged to a stop and leaned on his knees to catch his breath in a few seconds.
“Is this your payback for me beatin’ you in Triple Triad?” he huffed in between subtle pants.
Squall crossed his arms, “I would never be so shallow,” he assured. He watched Cloud pant and wobble on tired legs and smiled fondly. Squall took a careful step forward, keeping the plushie out of reach, to pat Cloud on his head, he took some appreciative moments to ruffle Cloud’s golden spikes. So soft, Squall mentally sighed, he leaned down a few degrees and smiled, “You really want the plushie huh … you ran all the way to the park.”
Cloud huffed blowing some of the strands of his bangs and mumbled, “Yea ... I do …” Cloud guessed that after chasing Squall there was no point on denying again that he wanted the plush chocobo. He crossed his arms with a small pout on his face as he was actually enjoying the affectionate ruffle he was being given.
Squall squeezed Cloud’s shoulder as the blond straightened up and regained his normal breathing, Squall’s icy blue eyes were sparkling with mirth and paradoxically warm and soft. Not at all like ice. “But if I give this to you, wouldn't Fenrir be lonely when you're not around?” Squall hugged the plushie to his chest and unconsciously placed his cheek against it to enjoy the softness, “He won’t have a friend to talk to.”
“Technically, if I have this little guy he would still be in my house with Fenrir sooooo, Fenrir would still have a new buddy …” Cloud rubbed the back of his neck and blushed adding as an afterthought, “Just, not for only himself …”
Playing along, Squall tapped his chin in deep thought, “Still … I’m sure he’d like it more coming from me, and after I went through all the effort too,” he smiled when Cloud lightly snorted at his words.
Yeah, what effort? That was child’s play.
Squall’s face lit up a little, “Maybe if you offer me something it’ll persuade me to let Fenrir down gently?” he suggested, hoping that Cloud could tell by his tone that the joking was over. He was willing to hand over the Chocobo for any reason now they’d had their fun.
And of course being familiar with Squall’s mannerisms Cloud picked up that there was something the brunet wanted. Cloud’s demeanor was now more calm as he looked into Squall’s eyes to see just the trace of a request. Butterflies fluttered in Cloud’s stomach and he couldn’t help the brief smile.
"How abouuttt ... seven kisses aaaaannnd a second date?" Cloud wiggled his brows stepping closer to Squall.
Squall's face was shocked for a several seconds, frozen all over in surprise so he stood with the plushie resting in his arms between them; fighting the strong urge to hide his face in the fabric.
He blushed, then he hid the toy behind his back and quietly asked, “How about eight?” not entirely able to meet Cloud’s eyes, as he giddily thought about the second date.
Humming, Cloud looked at the sky for dramatic effect then looked at Squall again. “A’right, deal,” and with his pointer finger he gestured Squall to lean in towards him.
Squall closed the small space between them, the plush squashed between their chests, each teen used one hand to hold the toy and their spare to grasp at each other.
Ducking down the small distance, Squall brushed their lips together briefly, soft and sweet. He pulled back an inch to judge Cloud’s reaction, and was ecstatic that Cloud was leaning up on his tiptoes for more. “One.”
Cloud grinned and pecked Squall’s lips then nuzzled him as he counted, “Two. This could take a little while,” he chuckled.
Pleased that Cloud was enjoying himself, Squall echoed his laugh, “True, but you offered so many to start with, now you’re realising just how long this’ll take?.” Cloud snorted, Squall smiled at Cloud’s little defensive dismissal of the subject. Squall ran his hand through the back of Cloud’s hair. “Hey, you’re not getting the plushie until tomorrow at this rate.”
“Then stop stalling and,” Cloud finished his sentence by puckering his lips as he tapped them.
Squall pressed their foreheads together, “Yes Doctor,” he pressed their lips together again and closed his eyes. Cloud was warm, and he smelt like vanilla and lavender just like at the ball. Squall let their kiss last a little longer then parted their lips with a content sigh. “Here,” he relinquished the soft, cute plush to Cloud.
To someone who had just offered him a second date, he may have won a plush today, but he definitely traded it for something better.
The medic gasped and snatched the plush, he was about to snuggle it too, but he rose an eyebrow at Squall and said, “But I haven’t given you all of the kisses yet?”
Squall nodded, “I know, I’ve put them on your tab.” He touched Cloud’s cheek gently, “If it’s okay I can stop by while your at work to collect the rest?” The cadet blushed slightly, “So you don’t forget too …”
Cloud hummed as he blinked a few times, “Alright. Sounds fair.” And pushing whatever embarrassment he had and snuggled the soft toy; right for Squall’s viewing pleasure. “It’s so soft … and fluffy” Cloud cooed softly and it was followed by restrained sound of adoration as he squeezed the plush in his arms.
Smiling contently when Cloud almost snatched it, possessive from the instant he held it, and began to feel it all over for the softest parts; squeezing it momentarily out of shape in sheer joy!
Squall watched Cloud admire it, snuggle and coo at the toy for a few moments, then shyly dared to steal one hand away from Cloud’s beloved plush, "Is it too hard to admit that you wanted it from the start?" he squeezed Cloud's palm and linked their fingers. He began leading them away from the park entrance as he saw several people looking at them, and it began to make him feel a little self conscious with all the PDA they’d just been doing. Better go somewhere quieter now. We’ll start walking back to the academy, the journey will take a while without a speeding bike.
Cloud ceased his snuggling at Squall's question and looked up shyly at Squall who raised an eyebrow waiting for his answer. Cloud groaned hiding his pout behind the Chocobo plush. “To be honest I’m just embarrassed by the fact that I like plushies so much …,” he squeezed Squall’s hand and nuzzled the Chocobo, mumbling into it, “I just can’t help myself.”
“ … but it’s cute like you,” Squall argued gently, letting Cloud groan and hide his face into his shoulder. The brunet smiled and leaned his head against Cloud’s for a moment, “So … ready to head back and show Fenrir his new friend? It’s going to be a long walk from here.”
Cloud briefly looked up at the sky before answering, “Yea … I guess we should head back. Don’t want you to get in trouble either …” Cloud’s tone sounded a little dispirited and he kept his gaze on the floor.
Squall heard Cloud’s disappointed tone, and saw his unhappy face, understanding the feeling as it felt that their time together was over too soon. He glanced around for an idea on how to cheer him up, then spotted a cheerful looking ice-cream shop. “Hey, how about we plan this again? I think that I remember promising you ice cream?” he pointed at the store, right next to a cheerful, lively looking dog park.
Cloud looked at the shop that looked like a frequented place. But the park beside it also picked up his interest and he tilted his head looking at Squall, and sounding a little more perked up. “Could we go to that dog park too? I really like spending time with you like this ...”
“Yeah me too!” Squall grinned, eyes soft and warm as he held Cloud’s gaze. “It’s supposed to be sunny again next week, lots of people will be here with their pets.” He saw Cloud practically shake with excitement and put his arm around his shoulders.
“Sounds like a plan then! I’m gonna have a little chat with my good mentor Dr Kadowaki.” Cloud leaned into Squall already looking forward to their next time as he enjoyed the last of the peaceful stroll home with Squall.