Cloud ponders about the lies in his life. Violence ensues. Yaoi. Some spoilers for Advent Children.
Cradle Will Rock
It's a violent job, being a delivery man.
It's not a violence like the unadulterated hate they had bore for Sephiroth. That was a burden, something in need of being dispensed of. Instead, it's a violence like the feel of a rushing waterfall when one canoes down a cliff's edge, the explosion of adrenaline and the heart-pounding aftermath of the realization that one is still breathing, still alive and in one piece among the rocks and water. A miraculous thing, a baptizing experience, a gift.
It's a violence that Cloud Strife has made an art of. He feels it thrumming in the air every time he leaves Edge's barriers with a screech of his bike. He feels it rearing its ugly scent when the air changes around him, and the anticipation of an incoming battle takes over the surrounding atmosphere. And when such warnings become physical manifestations, whether in the form of a panther demon or a massive bird of prey, he feels the weight of his swords in his hands, ready and dripping with the chilling glow of Materia and death.
It may seem strange to many of his peers that someone like Cloud Strife revels in the pleasure of destruction. In truth, he doesn't. Not particularly. He doesn't really appreciate the sharp crunch when the back of his sword snaps some creature's bones in half, neither does he like the splatter of blood nor the stink of intestines. The monsters are just impediments, objects to be removed from his path to take one particular thing from point A to point B. They are unavoidable, frequent, but they are in no way, shape, or form, mundane.
One wrong step and he can lose a limb. One miscalculated swing and he will pay with half of his body's fluids. Cloud knows this. The packages he deliver direct him through many unknown terrains, and his only goal for the days ahead is to reach the destination intact. It may look simple, graceful even, to the passerby when they see him riding on his bike while fighting two hellhounds at his heels. But Cloud alone feels the danger, can taste it lingering in his mouth. He has traveled to the world's edge and back, faced dragons and griffons and other hideous monstrosities, but he hasn't been alone. And he is alone now, isn't he? Absolutely, completely, and ultimately alone once he leaves the familiar city for days on end.
There is nothing less comforting than knowing he only has himself to fall back on in the midst of grand nothingness. Monsters or no. Cloud has learned that the hard way.
He doesn't really know why he's doing this. It's another thrill that he didn't ask for, and this time there isn't even any moralistic glamour behind it all. It started as an innocent bread-and-butter job, something he took up with the full expectation of his soon-to-come death. He had felt Jenova's claw tugging at him ever since The Battle ended, a good year before he actually contracted Geostigma. He didn't know that the job would outlast his disease, and what he had perfectly planned out - a good way to disappear without a trace - would drag him on in the complete opposite direction.
So he did his duty, perfected his kills, and played the most trustworthy middleman one could hire. And it no doubt would have been suffocating, had he not unintentionally invited a different kind of violence onto himself. A violence of skin and hands and mouth and limbs, of claws and teeth and that hot delicious pressure on his chest and around his body. And the sense of relief, of feeling something solid and pure, will linger within him long after the source vanishes into the moonlight.
He has completely forgotten when and how it started. But he does know that when the sun begins to drop down the even landscape, right before his inevitable return to Edge from his current delivery, there is something else waiting. All he needs to do is to simply stand next to the opened window, and it will come. Coming in that almost imperceptible flash of red among the orange glow and the cold breeze. He will suddenly find crimson eyes inches from his own, and the pressure of his escalated heartbeat will begin to constrict his throat. Two arms will extend then, and Cloud will let himself be pulled into the growing darkness.
What they do cannot be described as a mere act of sexual release. It's closer to an eruption, a complete absorption of the senses within the physicality. They leave their marks- teeth, hands, claw - that scar and burn upon each other. Marks that will scab and be erased later. It's a duel of pleasure camouflaged in unspoken rules and unnecessary regulations, where the breaking of skin and blood vessels is allowed but the popping of a button is not. Where one can bite off the clasp of the earring and the other will retaliate with a tug hard enough to tear into the lower lip.
They do not always make their way to the hotel bed. Partly because of the frantic nature of their coupling, partly because of the springs' dire protest and the danger of a collapsed bedframe. More often than not they simply fall on the floor, kicking away the table and the chairs if necessary. Their clothes usually end up scattered all over. Then they fall into the rhythm, a pace frenetic yet delicate enough for Cloud to become hopelessly addicted to. Afterwards they will pass out on the cold wood with Vincent's red cape as a source of warmth, along with their shared body heat and perhaps the remnant of a fire in the brick fireplace a few feet away.
Cloud prefers the floor. Bloodstains, then, don't have a chance to become signatures on the cotton-white sheets. He also doesn't have the luxury to be comfortable and think when morning comes. Vincent usually leaves at the first ray of light. As quiet as the man is, Cloud always wakes up hearing the clicks of Vincent's many buckles. He will lie there, pretending to be unconscious until he feels the gentle kiss against his cheek right before Vincent's disappearing act. He will then wait five seconds, open his eyes, and sit up to prepare himself for the unavoidable arrival of the day.
He will go back to Edge with all of the residual scratches and bruises shining from his skin and blame the monsters. Tifa has stopped asking the details after the third time, and let him go on to his shower in peace. Once he gets in the water he scrubs himself raw while trying not to remember anything. He tries not to remember how white slender fingers felt on his shoulders, or the sound of heavy breaths panting beside his ear, or the exact number of times he has come while writhing in heat. He tries not to wonder what the funny feeling he has inside his stomach is whenever they happen to actually sleep on a bed, when Vincent will sometimes lick clean the wounds they created earlier. Cloud always finds himself trembling after that, like someone is shaking him from deep within and yelling at him to stop. He has never dared to find out what.
He keeps a Cure Materia behind the razors and the aftershave in the bathroom cabinet. It is there to treat those cuts and bury them flawlessly beneath his skin. He always emerges out of the shower and reverts back to his usual self - his role as companion to the persistent Tifa and guardian to the curious children. And he plays it perfectly. But there are leftover things from his trip that he cannot shake off, so he compensates. He makes love to Tifa and satisfies her every whim. He plays with the children and teaches them letters and math. He cooks and cleans and helps out at the bar and does things that earn astonished looks from the men and compliments from the women. And he earnestly believes all of his lies until it's time to make another delivery. Until he feels the fire from his angel of Death and wholeheartedly welcomes the release.
It's a violent job, being a delivery man. It's an even more violent job to keep all of his ache inside himself, a private battle that Cloud is sure that his body cannot win. He is sinking waist-deep within the light of domesticity, but he's still dangerously close to something sinister, where one look of a certain demon can seduce his entire being into nonexistence. The only protection against it is the weight of his guilt, and that is fading fast against what his soul screams for. Cloud can practically feel the red shadow glowering like a blaze of glory, threatening to break free the hold of the suffocating light.
And one day, it will.