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sunset burns a path (to sin)

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"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned."

 

And that's how it's meant to go, right? Cloud doesn't really know - he's never been a confessional type. Always ignored any kind of presence of a God; whether they were benevolent or malevolent, it’s made no difference in Cloud’s life.

 

But Claudia did. In memory of her, he supposes it's the right thing to do. The proper thing. 

 

The problem with doing the right thing is that no one gives a shit. Especially if they're dead. 

 

"It's been...God - I mean, damn , I'm sorry. I don't...normally do this."

 

There's a quiet, low chuckle and Cloud tries to peer in through the grate to see what the old fuck looks like. He knows Claudia went to this guy for years, tried to drag him along...and yeah, there's regret in not spending more time with her but he's not about to start going down that path.

 

"Stop, my child. You may do away with the formalities. Tell me why you've come."

 

For a priest, he's got a deep voice. Like liquid sex and velvet, wrapped up in chocolate and port. It's sinful. And isn't that a wrong thought to have over someone who's probably three times Cloud’s age?

 

"I, uh...my mother...she…"

 

"Claudia?"

 

Cloud’s head jerks up with surprise. "Yes. How did you know?"

 

"This village is not so large. I attended the gathering after."

 

Cloud remembers who did the service. A different priest - grizzled and vaguely annoyed at the whole thing, especially as he’d retired to tend to his farm, but Claudia had insisted in her will that Cid led her funeral. Not...this priest. Hell, he couldn't remember seeing any other member of the clergy anywhere.

 

"I didn't see you…"

 

"But I saw you."

 

Oh, that was... oddly creepy, but Cloud just shrugs, unseen by the priest. "Yeah, funny thing when you've gotta bury your mother. Sometimes their only child is there, too."

 

A soft sigh. "I meant no offence to my remark. I could only get away that evening."

 

This feels like a mistake, and Cloud moves to rise, straightening his shirt. “Sorry. I...should go.” He knows he should be more God-fearing. He knows he needs to do what folks expect of him. His village is small , and things have a way of travelling quickly. And he knows not even the clergy are immune to gossip. What else is there? 

 

But he can’t handle this. He doesn’t know what he’s confessing. Too many plague his waking life to even begin to talk about, and he’s got to get back to the family farm, back to his now-upturned life. This is just dwelling on a past he can’t change.

 

“Allow me to walk you out, my child.”

 

It’s the ‘my child’ that he really hates. Especially in that tone. With that voice. Cloud opens the door and steps out of the confessional booth; aware he looks like he’s been toiling away in the fields. Which he has; trying to get the family farm back to a state where it will become profitable because he can’t just turn his back on his mother’s home again. 

 

(And maybe part of his problem with church is that no one who’s part of it looks like they’ve worked a day in their life - all fat and clean, looking pleased with themselves to be spreading unnecessary fear throughout the masses). 

 

Gazing about the church, he waits for the other door to open, and expects to find the same kind of man he’s seen all his life. He’s not expecting the very epitome of temptation . Long black hair braided over his shoulder, the wisps curling and framing a surprisingly delicate face. A sharp jawline, even sharper cheekbones. His traditional vestments - which were missing , instead clad in a black shirt and pants, complete with the clerical collar firmly in place. Cloud’s eyes drift downwards, notes the silver buckle with what looks like a kind of wolf embedded, and the dirt covered boots where the priest’s pants are tucked into. 

 

He’s tall. Enough so that when Cloud looks up, he feels a kind of warmth curling in his gut, creeping up his spine. But it’s the eyes that Cloud can’t tear himself away from. Rich mahogany, almost gleaming red in certain angles. Or like dried blood.

 

Cloud has seen enough dried blood to know how it looks, after all.

 

“My child? Are you feeling alright?”

 

Oh, that voice . And the tilt of the head, as his gloved hand comes to rest on Cloud’s cheek, and he leans into it almost unconsciously. 

 

“Bit...dizzy. Long day.”

 

“Come, take a seat.”

 

He allows himself to be pulled over to one of the pews, and he watches as the priest sits down next to him. He wishes his mother were still alive, purely to ask for her advice. On how to act, what to do - it all feels overwhelming, these intense feelings.

 

“Do you have a name?” Cloud asks quietly after a few minutes, looking straight ahead. 

 

“We all have names, my child. You may call me Father Valentine.” Not quite the full name, but he casts a quick glance over at Father Valentine, notices his intense gaze is still fixed upon him.



“I’ve never seen you around. My mother...she mentioned she came to see someone here, for a long time. But surely I would have…”

 

“Claudia did see me, for a time. She also saw Father Highwind. I believe the one before me was...Father Hojo.” There’s a trace of bitterness in Valentine’s rich tone, and Cloud can’t blame him. The man was a creep. Barely a man of God, much less a man of the church. It was partly because of Hojo that Cloud left his village, choosing to only correspond with his mother through letters, never returning even for a holiday. Too wrapped up in his life with his...

 

And aren’t all his regrets just piling up?

 

“What happened to Hojo?”

 

Valentine lets out a quiet sigh and looks away from Cloud. “Dead.”

 

He notices there’s no correction on Hojo’s title, though he can’t say he’s not satisfied by that outcome.

 

“Good. He deserves it. Deserves hell.”

 

“You’re not wrong.” 

 

That surprises Cloud and he looks at Valentine curiously. People talk, and he’s sure most of the village knows why Cloud left, who drove him out. But this dark stranger - would he know? Or were there others?



“Did he…?”

 

“I would rather change the subject, my child.”

 

That shuts Cloud up and he nods, turning his gaze back ahead. The statue of Jesus nailed to a cross looks down upon them, and he can feel the judgement as he soaks up the warmth of being close to Father Valentine. 

 

There’s plenty of room on the pew, he doesn’t have to sit so close, their thighs almost touching.

 

“I should head back. Uh...I’ll…” Cloud can’t say he’ll be back, but he wants to see Father Valentine again. Is it a sin to seek his wisdom for nefarious purposes? Of course it was. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”

 

“Perhaps.” 

 

Cloud stands up and looks down at Valentine. There’s a look in his eyes completely at odds with his neutral expression, and Cloud can’t stop the heat slowly creeping up the back of his neck. “Thank you for listening to me, Father Valentine.”

 

“It’s Vincent.”

 

Cloud blinks, and Vincent’s face softens, the corner of his mouth curling in a smile. “You may call me Vincent, outside of the church.”

 

“But I’m still to call you Father Valentine while I'm here?”

 

“Would you like for us to step outside so you can see how it feels in your mouth?”

 

The blush has to be noticeable by now, and he’s never been such a blushing maiden but he knows he wears his expressions too easily on his face. His mother often teased him about it. 

 

“Uh, no. I’m...good. Thank you, Father.”

 

Cloud turns and walks away, and he can hear the low rumble of laughter from behind him. 

 

*

 

After that, he feels like he sees Father Valentine everywhere. It’s not true - he’s got a congregation to lead. A parish to run. And Cloud is busy on the farm; getting the stables fixed and horses bought, hoeing the soil to prepare for the new crops he’s planning on planting. He’s got a lot of work to be done. 

 

What doesn’t help is the lack of sleep he’s been getting ever since that fateful visit. He can’t help but toss and turn, turning over every tiny detail of their encounter in his mind. It meant nothing. Right? So why is he thinking about it? Thinking about that voice whispering in his ear filth and things he’s only heard down at the docks. 

 

Cloud doesn’t consider himself a man of God, but his mind considers him to be a child of the Devil.

 

When his wakes, inevitably his blankets are sticking to him - wet with his own release. It’s getting to be a pain, to be constantly cleaning his bedding, and so he starts sleeping with trousers on. 

 

It doesn’t help the problem. If anything, it’s worse when he wears a particular pair and he spots Father Valentine walking around the market, dressed in his long black robes. They’re still a far cry from what he’s used to others wearing - simple black, with only a band around his waist - and his mind wanders to what’s under those robes. 

 

Vincent looks at him and Cloud clears his throat, almost dropping his basket. “Ah...hello, Father.”

 

“Cloud. How are you faring, my child?”

 

His nose wrinkles at the child comment and Vincent seems to notice. “Is there something wrong?”

 

“D’you call everyone your child?” Cloud blurts out before he can stop himself and Vincent blinks myopically at him a few times before a slow smile starts to spread over his face; curling the corner of his mouth, faintly wrinkling around his eyes and there’s a wickedness that gleams in them.

 

“And what would you rather I call you? Cloud ?” 

 

“Y-yes. That would be better. I’m not a child.” 

 

“Certainly not. Forgive me, Cloud.” Vincent reaches out and Cloud sees he’s not wearing any kind of glove and by God , he really should be. Those long, pale fingers curl around his wrist and Cloud looks down, mouth parted with surprise. “You’re not a child. It’s...a force of habit, as we are all God’s children, are we not?”

 

“I...suppose.” 

 

And he wonders if Claudia ever told Vincent about Cloud’s special friend, the one he ran off with, the one who died at sea. The one who made everything just that little bit better, even when they could never be together like they wanted. 

 

“You seem troubled. Would you like to drop by the church sometime, to alleviate yourself of your burdens?”

 

Cloud looks up, and Vincent is too close - enough so that he can smell the faint perfume coming off him, of a scent he can’t put a name to, because he doesn’t really know that much about fancy smelling things. He knows it smells good. Maybe a bit of lemons. Cloud likes lemons.

 

He likes Vincent being close a little too much.

 

“Uh. If you’re not busy…?”

 

“For you? Absolutely not. Come by this evening, after supper.”

 

Cloud had planned on collapsing into bed with his workbooks, trying to learn how to read with the kind of fluency his mother had. He’d never had time before, and he certainly doesn’t now but he kind of wants to be around Vincent more than he wants to read poetry he’ll never understand. 

 

Those fingers unwrap from his wrist and Vincent steps back. Suddenly, Cloud is aware of how many people are milling about, especially when a young girl comes up to Vincent and tugs on his robes. 

 

“Father Valentine! Mama told me to ask you to dine with us!”

 

He feels nauseous, and he leaves, hauling his basket onto the back of his cart and pulls it along, ignoring the fact that his heart is beating too quickly in his chest, and he can still feel Vincent’s touch like a burn . He shouldn’t go to the church. He won’t. No. Why put himself through such torture? Vincent is merely treating him like… he’s grieving. Which he is. It’s pity. Nothing more.

 

*

 

As the sun sets, he stands in the doorway. He can see the faint outline of the church in the distance, can see the very faint flickering light in the window. His own are extinguished, in preparation for sleep. Yet his mind wanders. Races. Cloud doesn’t - he shouldn’t be thinking about it. Refuses to. Except it’s easier said than done and he’s…

 

Pulling his trousers and boots on, he doesn’t think too much. The cool air bites through his thin sleep tunic, and Cloud only stumbles a few times in the dark, making his way to the church. He can see why Claudia visited so often - it’s within an easy distance from home. 

 

Did she have these thoughts? It sickens him to think she could have thought of Vincent in such a fashion, that they might have…

 

At the iron-wrought door, he pauses. Like he has a head full of mead, Cloud feels like he’s about to be sick all over, and he turns away. The sound of the bolt startles him and he falls backwards, landing with a thud on the ground.

 

Vincent peers down at him, a candle in hand, looking bemused, dressed as he had been at the market. 

 

“You came. I was wondering if you would.”

 

“Did you ever touch my mother?” There is ire in his words and bile in his throat. Vincent shakes his head, offering his free hand to Cloud. 

 

“Not once. She mentioned you had a friend you left with. I did too, once upon a time ago.” 

 

Cloud takes the hand and Vincent pulls him up with surprising strength. He stumbles forward, hand bracing against Vincent’s chest. 

 

“Come inside, Cloud.”

 

The door shuts behind them, and Vincent walks down the path between the pews. Cloud stares after him, but ends up following, watching the swing of his braid against his back. He wonders what it feels like between his fingers. 

 

Vincent sets the candle down and opens the door to the confessional. A part of Cloud is disappointed, but...this is what he’s here for. No matter what lay in his sinful heart. He goes to open the door and - was that a sigh ?

 

They enter, and he sits down heavily, head tipped back against the wood. It’s pitch black, and he can hear the creak of the divider as it’s pulled open. 

 

“You may begin any time, Cloud.”

 

There’s something about darkness that makes him feel safe. At home. He’s done so many things under the cover of velvet black and nothing but the stars and moon to illuminate his actions. 

 

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been...a few days since my last botched confession,” Cloud begins, his voice low. “I...keep having these thoughts. They’re not pure. They’re...I know I’m going to hell. For what I’ve done. What I think. But I just...can’t help it…”

 

“What kind of thoughts…?” Vincent’s voice is low, and Cloud can hear the rustle of fabric. 

 

God give him strength. Maybe it’s the remark from earlier - of Vincent once having a friend . Maybe in his youth, he too, struggled with these impure feelings. And then he overcame them. Yes, that makes sense.

 

“I keep thinking about…”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Men. One in particular...laying with them. Like a man would with a woman. I know it’s...I shouldn’t. How do I stop these thoughts?”

 

“...Do you want to stop them, Cloud?” 

 

“They’re wrong . I’m wrong . I’m going to Hell for this…” His voice breaks, and his head tilts forward, eyes shut. It’s dark. He can’t see anything. He doesn’t want to be seen for what he truly is - a monstrosity. 

 

“Cloud...it may feel wrong. But you cannot help your feelings. There are others like you...surely God can find it in His heart to forgive us all?”

 

Cloud opens his mouth and Vincent’s voice continues, closer than before, the low timbre wrapping around him like wolf’s fur and fire. “Who do you think of…?” 

 

He swallows hard and doesn’t want to speak any further. It feels like his mouth is full of cotton and that sickening feeling returns tenfold. “No. I can’t...it’s...he’s untouchable.”

 

“No man is untouchable in the eyes of the Lord. Not even I.”

 

“Aren’t you?”

 

There’s more movement and the door opens suddenly. Faint candlelight flickers, and Vincent is gazing down at him, illuminated like a fallen angel. 

 

“No. Try as I might, even I cannot escape my nature. Why should you?”

 

Cloud allows himself to be pulled up and out of the booth, guided to the pews once more. His heart is racing, and the fear of discovery is more overwhelming than any other fear. “We...I cannot. This isn’t right.”

 

“Few things that feel good are ever considered right . Or even righteous. Are you so afraid of the wrath of the Almighty?” And it feels a little like Vincent is mocking him, even as he pushes him down onto the wooden bench. 

 

“I...don’t know what to think. I rarely do,” Cloud admits softly, and Vincent lets out a quiet chuckle. He sits down, pressing entirely too close and Cloud can’t help the shiver that goes through him. 

 

“Perhaps you shouldn’t think. Allow action to speak for you.” 

 

Vincent reaches out and lifts Cloud’s chin with two fingers, forcing him to look up at him. The shadows dance and play across Vincent’s face, and he’s mesmerized. 

 

“You’re like sunshine...beautiful and illuminating, yet difficult to look directly at.” 

 

Cloud feels positively feverish . He stares, unblinking, and realizes he can’t look away. Nor does he want to. Not when Vincent leans in and delicately presses his mouth to the corner of Cloud’s. It’s chaste, and a full-body shiver goes through him. 

 

“Come to my room.”

 

Like a true believer, he follows wordlessly, without questioning his misplaced new-found faith in sin disguised like a man of God. 

 

The Devil wears many faces.

 

*

 

The room is bare, as Cloud had expected. A wardrobe without a mirror. A desk placed against the wall by a window, and a small bed, with thick fur blankets covering the top. The Bible sits on the desk with a small bowl and jug, and the rosary glints in the candlelight. There is no crucifix that Cloud can see, and he turns to Vincent, the question just on the tip of his tongue. 

 

“We are expected to sleep here, but...I am working on building a smaller house, just out the back. It will be more appropriate, and I can offer this space for travellers and other members of the clergy.”

 

“Will they visit often?”

 

Vincent shakes his head, a sad expression suddenly appearing. “No. I’ve...gone against the ways enough that they have deemed this to be punishment enough, given no one likes to come to these smaller towns and villages. They would prefer to stay closer to bigger churches, work their way through the ranks…”

 

Cloud suspects there’s more to the story, but he doesn’t pry. Instead, he sits down on the edge of the bed, running his fingers over the furs. They’re soft, and he can’t tell what animal they’re from. They’re delightful and he resists the urge to press his face to them. The smell of lemons is here, along with the faint smoke from whatever Vincent burns in the church. He’s momentarily distracted, trying to piece together all this new information and it’s not until a hand touches his hair does he finally pull his wandering mind back to the present.

 

Looking up, he meets Vincent’s piercing gaze, and blinks slowly. “Is this...should I…”

 

The fingers in his hair flex, and he can feel himself harden just at that small action. It sparks something in him to try and lean into the touch, desperate for whatever Vincent deems fit to give him. Something must show on his face, and Vincent leans in, teasingly brushing his lips against Cloud’s cheek and over the top of his nose. 

 

“Lay back,” he whispers huskily, and Cloud obeys after taking off his boots - quickly arranging himself on the bed clumsily. A second thought, and he manages to get the furs out from underneath himself, not wishing to sully them with whatever they may do. 

 

He’s not pure of body, but his time with Zack was limited , and they could only explore so much before - 

 

His thoughts are wandering. Away from the moment, away from Vincent. Cloud tries to bring himself back to the present, and he watches as Vincent blows out the candles. The moonlight is absent tonight and the stars only provide so much glow through the window. As his eyes start to adjust, the rustle of cloth makes him pay attention, and suddenly there’s a bare body on top of his. “This would be better if you were also naked,” Vincent whispers in his ear and shifts to kneel next to Cloud. There isn’t enough room, but he can see the appeal in being naked now

 

The moment his trousers hit the floor a warm body and blanket suddenly move to cover him. His breath comes out quicker, practically panting in anticipation as lips work down over his neck and throat, a tongue licking the hollow. Cloud yelps, and finally gathers the courage to wrap his arms around Vincent. Under his hands, he can feel the tell-tale raised skin of scars but he’s too caught up to ask questions. There would be time for that later

 

Unlike everything else, this feels simple. Vincent rocks against him slowly, his hard length moving over Cloud’s, providing friction that makes him shudder and gasp. When Vincent finally kisses him, it’s unlike anything he’s ever experienced. Tongue tracing over his, licking into his mouth, and a hand wraps around his cock and strokes firmly . Cloud arches off the bed, bucking into Vincent’s grip, and tries to fumble for him, but he can’t reach. Especially when Vincent pins him down at the same time as his wrist twists, his thumb rubbing over the head. 

 

Cloud comes with Vincent’s name on his lips, spilling between them in hot spurts. Vincent moans against his throat, wringing every drop out of him until Cloud starts to squirm. He’s dimly aware of the heavy weight of Vincent’s cock against him, still so hard, and he tries half-heartedly yet again to try for it. This time he’s successful and he marvels at the thick length, moving his hand up and down as he would his own. 

 

“Harder…” Vincent breathes, and Cloud’s eyes have adjusted enough to the darkness to see Vincent bringing his hand to his mouth, licking it slowly. Licking his release. Cloud tightens his grip, resolving to give Vincent everything and anything he asks for. 

 

It doesn’t take long to have him bucking into his hand and shaking as he reaches his peak. It lands on Cloud’s stomach and chest, and when he finishes, he sits back with a sigh on Cloud’s thighs. Without thinking too much, he licks his hand. He’s tried the taste before, but it’s different. Somehow sweet, even with that bitter quality in the back of his throat. He wonders how it would be in his mouth, to drink it all down. Like an unholy communion. 

 

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned and I will sin again. 

 

Without a word, Vincent moves off the bed and to the desk. Cloud watches as he takes a cloth from the wardrobe and dips it into the jug and wipes his torso first before dipping it into the bowl, and repeating the action. He brings it over to the Cloud and methodically cleans him with a kind of slow and gentle touch that makes his heart beat too loudly. For reasons he dares not even think of, even with what they have done. 

 

“We can bathe properly at first sun. I will fetch water from the well. You may join me, but I fear I will be too distracted to complete such a simple task.” Vincent’s voice still flows over him, and he nudges Cloud over until he can climb into the bed and lay down properly, bringing the furs up with him. He covers them both and pulls Cloud against him, settling his head against his chest. Cloud can hear Vincent’s heartbeat, and curls his hand against his side. 

 

Slumber overtakes them and for once, Cloud does not dream.

 

*

 

At first, he worries that this is all a ploy to get him to leave once more. But he catches the way Vincent gazes at him with such fondness and goes out of his way to ‘accidentally’ drop in on him or invite him around...his fears are quickly assuaged. A part of him wishes to see Vincent in all his glory with light , but he doesn’t dare ruin what they have. Eager hands so happy to explore, to get him off. To kiss him. Hold him . Cloud will accept anything he can get.

 

His life slowly gets away from him and he is forced to focus on the farm. The stables are ready for horses, his crops starting to bloom through the frost starting to melt on the ground. Perhaps by next winter, he will be properly prepared, instead of barely scraping by. Cloud knows he’s lucky with what he’s been left, and what he earned as a delivery boy before returning home. But he knows better than most that luck eventually runs out. 

 

It’s not until he collapses face-first onto his bed does he realise he cannot remember the last time he saw Vincent. A pang of guilt grips him and he wonders if the priest thinks he is no longer interested. Or perhaps he’s moved on. The mere thought of someone else touching Vincent replaces that guilt with anger, and he sits up, dashing to the front door. It’s too late - he cannot see any light coming from the church. 

 

First light. At first light, he will see Vincent. Even with that promise to himself, Cloud still has difficulty sleeping, eventually dozing off as the sky starts to bleed midnight into grey.

 

The sun is shining brightly through his window as Cloud awakes with a jerk. Hurriedly, he washes himself quickly of the dirt from the day before and dresses in clean clothes. He’s out the door and heading to the church, cursing himself all the way to the door, partially opened. Pushing it open, he looks in, praying to not see anyone else but Father Valentine. How ironic that the first time Cloud thinks about praying, it’s for a rather nefarious reason. 

 

Silence greets him and he walks slowly, heading to the back. Perhaps Vincent is still in his room.

 

Cloud doesn’t expect a hand to reach out and grab him, pulling him into the confessional booth. He lets out a shout of surprise and Vincent laughs as he’s manhandled onto his lap. 

 

“It’s been too long, Cloud. I was beginning to think you had forgotten about me. That you’d come to your senses and decided to do away with someone as old as me altogether,” Vincent says softly, and Cloud moves on his lap until he’s straddling him. This time, Cloud has the height advantage, and he curls his fingers into Vincent’s hair, messing up his braid. 

 

“Never. I could never. I was just...real busy. But I’m here now. I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Cloud whispers back, leaning in to kiss Vincent deeply. It feels like coming home. It feels like faith in something much bigger than himself and yet terrifying at the same time. 

 

And oh, he knows it’s dangerous. This, here. Now. It doesn’t stop Cloud from sliding off Vincent’s lap and onto his knees. He’s been wanting to try this for so long , and he gazes up at Vincent with wide eyes. “May I?”

 

“Who am I to deny such a request?” Vincent lifts his robes and Cloud is utterly delighted to see that he isn’t wearing anything underneath. His cock is slowly thickening under his gaze and Cloud moves forward, eager to taste, to touch

 

The sound of heavy footsteps sound from outside the door and Cloud’s eyes widen for an entirely different reason. Vincent grabs him by his hair and yanks him forward, and suddenly he’s cloaked in darkness under his robes. Vincent’s legs are on either side of him, and he can’t help but touch, stroking along firm muscle and up his thighs, panic and arousal battling for dominance in his actions. 

 

“Hello, Cid. What can I do for you today?” 

 

A hand pushes at his head through the cloth and Cloud presses his mouth to the inside of Vincent’s thigh, muffling a soft sigh. May God have mercy on his soul.

 

Without thinking too much, he grips Vincent’s thigh with one hand and holds his cock in the other, moving forward until he can put it in his mouth. Cloud suckles on the head, tasting faint salt and can’t help but groan. The hand on his head pushes him down further and he tries not to choke, suddenly inundated, his mouth full already. Cloud tries to relax, to take more while breathing, and he didn’t think it would be this difficult. So many things going on at once that he almost forgets where he is.

 

“Ah, shit , I just don’t fuckin’ know ... sorry for m’language, y’know how I get…” Cid’s voice goes up in pitch and Cloud makes a strangled sound. Vincent coughs and he’s not sure if it’s to cover any sound Cloud makes or to hide the fact that he’s starting to thrust into Cloud’s mouth, the head of his cock pushing against the back of his throat. Sitting up on his knees properly, he uses his hands to brace himself onto Vincent’s thighs and moves his mouth down until wiry hair brushes against his nose. 

 

He can’t breathe well. He’s shaking with the effort of holding himself up. But he can feel Vincent’s body tense, the skin under his hands starting to slick with sweat. 

 

Cloud chances a moan around Vincent, and that seems to pay off. The hand on his head holds him in place as Vincent rolls his hips up, and Cloud feels Vincent’s muscles tense . He can feel the vein against his tongue jump, and he knows the minute Cid leaves because Vincent starts to thrust into his mouth in earnest. It’s too sudden and he chokes, spit dripping down his chin as he tries to breathe through his nose, but he can’t and -

 

Vincent comes with a muffled gasp, pulsing down Cloud’s throat, his body curling forwards. He lets up after a few moments and Cloud sits back with a wet cough, dizzy. Semen and saliva drips out of his mouth, and he must look disgusting. But Vincent just gazes at him with such reverence that how he looks and what they’ve done is the last thing on his mind. Especially when he’s yanked back up and there’s a tongue in his mouth, and a hand seeking the bulge in his trousers. 

 

*

Summer brings work and when Cloud isn’t tending to his farm, he’s helping Vincent construct his house in the plot behind the church. The first time Cid comes to help them, Cloud blushes furiously , and Vincent doesn’t even hide his smile. But it seems the only word that has spread throughout the village is Cloud’s newfound faith in God under the watchful tutelage of Father Valentine. People are wondering if Cloud will also become a man of the cloth. 

 

“Should I?” Laying back in the grass, shirtless and sweaty, he looks over at Vincent, dressed casually in a white shirt rolled up to his elbows and trousers. 

 

“No. You would have to study away from me…I’d rather keep you around, if possible. There’s nothing to stop you from assisting in my sermons, if that’s something you’d like to do?”

 

Their conversations are rarely about their faith. They have spoken about Cloud’s past in detail, although Vincent is less than willing to open up completely about his own. If the scars littering his body are any indication, it’s far uglier than Cloud could ever hope to imagine. Yet he yearns to learn more about his lover’s past. 

 

“I don’t think so...I’m happy to watch you up there.” Cloud closes his eyes, soaking in the warmth of the sunshine threatening to hide behind an ominous raincloud. He does adore watching Vincent, but he wonders if part of it is because of their little secret. And he should worry about how sinful it all is, how wrong , but Vincent never mentions it. So neither does Cloud. 

 

A soft clicking noise sounds near him and there’s movement as Vincent drops down to sit against Cloud. For a moment there is only silence, the air thick with possibility. 

 

The first few drops hit his face and Cloud jerks with surprise, scrambling to sit up, blinking against the wet intrusion. Vincent laughs and without thinking, Cloud pushes him back against the grass. It’s too open - anyone could come by and see them here, laying in such a manner that it’s hard to misconstrue it as anything but what it looks like. 

 

And as the rain starts to fall in earnest against their bodies, Cloud leans in and kisses Vincent deeply. Hands wrap around his body, holding him close as their clothes are soaked through. He shivers against Vincent, can feel the way he’s hardening underneath him, but the kisses they share are unhurried and languid. Any thoughts of someone seeing them dissolve under the warm spring rain and Cloud’s heart swells for Vincent. 

 

*

 

Cloud pays attention. To the way Vincent braids his hair, forever precise but he never cuts it evenly. To the fragility of his constitution - forever doubting Cloud’s affections, fearing he'll leave. To the way he lingers by gardens but never encroaching on a stranger's territory, choosing to scent the flowers along the fences. To the way he curls his body around Cloud and clings like a mollusk on a boat; all long limbs and wandering hands even in the heavy light of darkness and humidity of summer.

 

The house is completed, and Cloud spends most of his waking moments between there and tending to the farm. He contemplates at one point hiring someone to help out but thinks better of it. He likes his quiet life and the tranquility he’s created and surrounded himself with. Bringing strangers around would only invite questions he doesn’t want to answer. Nor does he feel that he should.

 

One afternoon, of no importance beyond the brisk breeze sweeping through the land (a signal of autumn appearing), Cloud wanders through the church, paying no mind to the iconography. It no longer weighs him down with guilt and shame, and he’s strangely excited . For what the future may hold for them, for the growth of his farm, for…

 

Happiness. He realizes he’s finally found happiness in the last place he ever expected, and it may not be without its problems (the secrecy, Vincent’s mood swings, his own inability to express himself), but everything is enough for him. And Cloud prays (without thinking about why or what he’s praying to) that it is enough for Vincent. 

 

He casts a glance to the confessional booth - both doors are open, and he can’t help but feel his face heat up at the obscene acts they have committed. Always on Vincent’s side, and never in the presence of someone else after that incident with Cid. It doesn’t stop Vincent from whispering in his ear about someone walking in on them, his fingers stroking him quickly, drawing soft moans out of him like an instrument. 

 

Vincent is nowhere to be found in the church and so Cloud heads out the back, to the small house. It’s simple yet structurally stable, and while it seems out of place, it reminds Cloud of Vincent’s very presence in his life. 

 

“Vince…?” Cloud calls out, keeping his voice low in case he has visitors. He never does, but he would rather err on the side of caution (and maybe in his mind, he’s still waiting for his fragile happiness to come crashing down around him). He makes his way through the living space and suddenly finds himself pressed against a wall and out of breath. 

 

“I was wondering when you’d show up,” Vincent murmurs in his ear, hands holding his hips in place as he grinds against Cloud. A shiver courses through him and he tilts his head back against Vincent’s shoulder, mouth parted in anticipation. He’s not let down and Vincent kisses him firmly. With one hand, Cloud reaches up, curling his fingers in the long braid by his face and Vincent lets out a small noise of curiosity that quickly morphs into a moan when Cloud tugs lightly.

 

With familiarity, Vincent pushes him in the direction of the bedroom. They had constructed a bigger bed, if only for Vincent’s legs, but it has the advantage of fitting the two of them in their intimate moments.

 

Shedding their clothes quickly, Cloud reaches out to Vincent and yelps when he’s pushed onto his stomach. Hands pull his hips up, and he gets the hint, positioning himself on his hands and knees, his body thrumming and eager. He hears Vincent moving around and flinches when a cool, slick finger touches his entrance. 

 

“Do you…?”

 

“Yes. It’s just...cold.”

 

“You’ll warm up soon enough.” 

 

Cloud does his best to relax against the intrusion, allowing Vincent’s fingers to work him open slowly. Like a lazy summer day there is no hurry in Vincent’s motions. Closing his eyes, he starts to rock backwards against Vincent, his cock heavy between his legs. Fluid spurts from the head when Vincent crooks his fingers and rubs a particular spot inside Cloud that makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand on edge, his very skin tingling as pleasure rushes through him. A wanton moan spills from his mouth, and another. 

 

“Please,” Cloud gasps, unsure of exactly what he’s pleading for. Vincent seems to know - Lord, does he know what Cloud wants, even as he pulls his fingers free, leaving Cloud clenching around nothing and aching for more . His body gets what it wants in the form of the blunt head of Vincent’s cock pressing into him. Slow, frustratingly too slow , and Cloud lets out a sob, canting his hips back. A low chuckle seems to vibrate through him from Vincent and he can feel every inch working its way inside of him. 

 

It feels like hours. Days. When in reality, it’s merely minutes until Vincent is flush against his buttocks, rocking ever so slightly, grinding his hips into Cloud. He feels full , uncomfortably so, and grips the blankets tightly, willing himself to relax, to breathe. 

 

Eventually Vincent starts to withdraw and thrust back into Cloud, building a rhythm like the cadence of his sermons. Cloud twists the blankets in his hands, cursing and praising Vincent with equal ferocity. His breath hitches when Vincent yanks him up and wraps one arm around Cloud’s chest to keep him upright. The other hand winds his braid around Cloud’s neck, holding it in place against his throat. 

 

For a moment there is only silence pierced by Cloud’s labored breathing, his hands loose by his side. He doesn’t move as Vincent tightens his grip and rolls his hips, hitting that same spot he had discovered earlier causing Cloud’s cock to twitch and leak against his stomach. 

 

“Angels have nothing on you, Cloud,” Vincent rumbles low in his ear as darkness starts to creep into his increasingly blurry vision and all he can manage is a strangled gasp. When Vincent lets up, the first full breath feels like heaven . He gulps it in as Vincent speeds up, deep and hard, relentless . Cloud is reduced to nothing more than a quivering mess of moans and cries of pleasure; his skin slick with perspiration and nothing keeping him from falling but Vincent and his sheer strength of will

 

Vincent grinds his hips into him and the force of it pushes Cloud over the edge. He comes untouched, spilling against his stomach and onto the bed, panting Vincent’s name like a prayer. Clenching around Vincent’s member, he can feel the hot seed spurting into him, and his body feels like it’s pulsating in time with Vincent.

 

Every inhalation feels like the last as he falls away from himself, sinking into the aftermath of warmth and their shared passion. Cloud feels Vincent lower him onto the bed, easing him onto his side and he can still feel him inside . It brings him a kind of indescribable comfort, and he drifts off to sleep with only a sense of belonging. Here. With Vincent.