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Cloud knocked on the door once, and Leon answered. They exchanged nods.

"No keys," Cloud explained, following Leon into the house. It was sparsely furnished: a range at one end for cooking, a sink, a wooden table and chairs and the computer area. A single door leading to the bedroom and tiny bathroom.

"There's food," said Leon. "And Tifa called."

Cloud crossed to the stove and sniffed at the pot of stew that sat there, trying to work out whether he was hungry or not.

"You eaten?" he asked Leon.

"Not yet."

A tiny smile twitched at the corner of Cloud's mouth. "You want some?"

"Maybe in a while... I promised Cid I'd...." Leon's voice faded out in concentration. He was frowning at the screen. Cloud peered over his shoulder as endless lines of code flowed down.

"Tag error," he said. "Line 37850."

The stream stopped; Leon's shoulders lowered a little. "Thanks." He highlighted and replaced the code. The computer beeped approvingly. "That's been bugging me all day."

"'S okay."

Cloud's cheek brushed Leon's for a second: smooth skin with only the faintest hint of stubble. Leon's breath hitched.

Cloud closed his eyes. He could smell Leon's hair: shampoo and the faint tang of leather that always seemed to cling to him. Leon's head turned just slightly, just enough, and Cloud kissed the corner of his mouth.

Leon turned further, and kissed him back. His lips were soft, his kiss gentle and the tip of his tongue wet and warm as it slipped into Cloud's mouth.

Cloud curved his fingers around the back of Leon's neck, nudging his chair with one knee so that Leon swivelled conveniently around to face him. The kiss grew heated then, firm and insistent. They both breathed fast, and there was a flush across Leon's cheekbones that gave Cloud a flutter of satisfaction.

They broke apart, taking a moment to look at each other. Leon's eyes were bright, no smile there but heat and excitement, an ache that Cloud echoed.

"On the desk," said Leon, his voice soft and assured. He struggled out of his jacket. "Sit on the desk."

Cloud hitched himself up, pausing only to shove the keyboard and Leon's notes out of the way. Leon placed his fingertips on Cloud's shoulders, skimmed them down his chest, over leather and soft ribbed wool, down and down to the flutter of Cloud's stomach, settling at his belt.

The buckle clinked, there was a metallic drag of zipper, and then Leon touched him.

"Hard," Leon observed.

Cloud gave a little smile. Like he wasn't always hard for Leon. He'd been hard since he walked in the room.

Leon worked through the layers of leather and cotton to find Cloud's skin. His touch was cool, inquisitive. Confident. He pulled Cloud's cock clear of his clothing, rubbing his thumb along the underside. Cloud couldn't help but arch into it, gasping as Leon leaned forwards. Cloud could see his tongue, pink and wet, as Leon parted his lips to take Cloud into his mouth. He braced himself on the desk, hips rocking slowly, cock sliding slowly into glorious, slippery heat. His head tipped back, eyes closing, as Leon's nose brushed his belly.

So good. So, so good.

Leon's tongue flattened out as he withdrew a little, just enough for him to suck properly. He teased with his teeth. Cloud shuddered with pleasure, his fingers sifting through Leon's hair, keen to communicate his gratitude. The ache grew, consuming him bit by bit until he was writhing, desperate to come. But Leon wouldn't let him. He knew Cloud's rhythm and disrupted it, moving too fast, too slow, his tongue missing Cloud's trigger spots by the tiniest fraction.

Finally, Leon raised his head and Cloud's cock slapped wetly against his belly, abandoned, twitching in frustration.

Cloud made a small noise of protest, but Leon was busy tugging at his trousers. Cloud obligingly lifted his hips, panting hard, watching as Leon peeled the leather off his long legs. Boxers followed, then socks. Leon kissed Cloud's knee, then the inside of one thigh. He parted Clouds legs a little and pushed them back, eyes fixed on his dick. Cloud's feet found the edge of the desk and held steady as Leon paused to get his own cock out. It was just out of reach, which was a pity because Cloud's mouth watered at the thought of giving Leon a taste of his own medicine. But the way Leon was slicking it with lube made it clear he had something else in mind.

Then Leon turned his attention to Cloud, and every single nerve ending in his body sang at a the first cold, wet touch to his hole. Cloud's back hit the desk with a thud.

Leon was careful, maddeningly careful, as always. For someone who could be so ruthless in battle, the man had a core so sensitive it was a wonder he survived. To feel so much, so deeply, and to lose everything....

.... well, Cloud should know.

He held Leon's gaze as Leon pushed inside him. Thick and hard. A gasp escaped Cloud's lips, but still he kept his eyes fixed on Leon's, everything laid bare in this one intimate moment. Pain and glory and - fragile yet, but growing - hope.

Cloud felt Leon's fingers in his hair; fluttering, gentle. He heard soft, light breath; Leon's voice in a blissful moan.

Cloud wrapped his legs around Leon's waist and pulled him deeper still.

Arms braced on the desk behind Cloud's head, Leon fucked him. Cloud gave himself up to careful thrusts and frenzied kisses, as eager as Leon to make it last. Truth was, he needed this, the steady rock of bodies, the exchange of breath and the mounting pleasure that seeped warmth through his bones. It was real and human, and with Leon it felt safe.

He craved touch, even as he relished the impatience of the ache within him. He wanted to come, needed to come, and was about to reach between their bodies and make it happen, but Leon's hand got there first. Just. Leon's fingers felt so good that Cloud had to touch them; to feel himself being touched, fingers twining with Leon's in a combined assault on his fragile restraint. Leon's expression was intense: he was biting his lower lip, a wild look in his eyes as control, his ever-present guardian, deserted him.

Leon cried out, arched back, the loose buckles on his leather jeans jangling as his hips drove him deeper, deeper, deeper into Cloud's body. The arch of his neck so beautiful, his skin so pale....

And then Cloud came too.


Later they sat together at the small wooden table, and ate. Leon's warm, socked foot lay alongside Cloud's bare, somewhat chilly one, and every now and then they exchanged knowing glances, almost like smiles.

"Talk to Tifa," said Leon. He was breaking up bits of bread to dip into his stew.

"I can't," said Cloud.

"Because she's mad at you?"

"Because she's scared for me. She thinks if I find him...."

"Ah. Is she right?"

Cloud sighed. Always it came down to this: fear and death. "Perhaps."

He waited for warnings and disapproval. Leon stirred his stew thoughtfully for a moment before he spoke.

"Sounds like you could use a hand."

And something in Cloud screamed No! because this was how it always happened, this is how the ones he loved came to die, this was why he could never let Tifa.... and he opened his mouth to tell Leon he had to stand alone.

But then he saw Squall's face: the pain and glory and everything he'd lost; the bare-naked fear and hope, and suddenly, Cloud understood.

"Just don't die," he said.

"I won't." Leon shoved stew-dipped bread into his mouth, and chewed.

And Cloud could very, very nearly, almost, just, believe him.