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Sun Up

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"He said he'd be back," Denzel mumbled from where he was mostly-asleep and leaning against the wall of the hallway.

Tifa sighed, but she didn't try to dissuade Denzel from sleeping in the hallway. Somehow, Denzel's belief that Cloud would be in on time most always proved true and Tifa knew that the boy had to have something to believe in.

Though sometimes she wished it wasn't Cloud.

The bar was closed for the night and Tifa stepped over Denzel on her way upstairs to wash up and sleep. The sun would be up before either of them knew it, and Marlene would be wide awake to start her own breakfast even if no one else was around for it.

And not long after the door to Tifa's room had closed for the final time that night, there was a soft click in the lock of the front door, opening slowly and just widely enough that Cloud could slip inside.

"Cloud?" Somehow Denzel always managed to hear him come in, especially when Cloud was trying to be quiet.

"You're still up?" Cloud's voice replied in the dark. Before Cloud could find a light, Denzel was on him, arms wrapped around him half like a lover and half like a son. Cloud winced, but he knew Denzel couldn't see him. He wished he knew what he was supposed to be, other than an idol.

Because that was the last thing he wanted - idols haunted one's dreams, demanding things that Cloud didn't ever want to take from Denzel.


"You're back," Denzel whispered. "I was waiting."

There was a pause.

"Can I sleep in your bed tonight?"