Modes of Existence

Modes of Existence: Chapter One

He was a curious thing, patient #0102. Never spoke a word, ever; as a matter of fact, it was the reason he was in Edge Asylum in the first place. “He just won’t talk,” his mother had desperately cried when she dropped him off. That had been a year and a half ago, and things hadn’t changed at all. Cloud Strife lay on his back, staring mindlessly at the blank ceiling, faintly thinking about how he couldn’t even count the cracks if he wanted to—there were none. Not a single crack in this whole damned place, he thought bitterly, except for the patients here. It was true; Edge Asylum was the premier facility on the whole continent, and Mrs. Strife would do no better for her only son.

Don’t worry, ma’am, your son will receive the best care possible. We’ll fix him up and have him back to you in no time.

That had been a year and a half ago; Cloud had scoffed then, and still scoffed now. Fix him? He was never broken in the first place. The moment he set foot there he knew nothing would change, that he would stay the same until they decided they had wasted enough time and money on him, and either sent him home or had him transferred elsewhere. That what what he had firmly believed, until he met Dr. Leonhart.

If Strife was a curious patient, then Leonhart could be considered a curiouser doctor. To many of his peers, the sable-haired 25-year-old seemed as psychotic as some of his patients. Most speculated that he suffered from an array of disorders, ranging from the rather innocuous avoidant personality disorder up to the pointedly violent sadistic personality disorder. Despite their suspicions, however, he continually proved over and over again why he was one of the Asylum’s greatest staff members: his patients had the highest recovery rate of everyone in the Asylum. Though his method might have been a little unorthodox and perhaps even caustic at times, he was constantly assigned to deal with their severest patients. On a daily basis, he saw patients who were so damaged they were deemed no longer capable of function in society. Speaking of damaged...

“Saix, please try to restrain yourself,” Leon mumbled tiredly and tonelessly, moving slightly to the right and narrowly avoiding being hit in the head with a picture frame. He sighed. There goes another one.

He had paged security almost ten minutes ago, and naturally, no one had come yet. Rising from his chair with a weary air, he vaulted over his desk, ducked under a wild punch, and grabbed Saix’s fist, wrenching it behind his back and forcing him over the desk. The blue-haired patient twisted in his grasp, scratching at the surface of Leon’s desk to be freed, but Leon held him down firmly, the corded muscles of his forearms flexing under the strain.

“Never fear, Reno is—shit, Leonhart, if I knew this was what you buzzed me up for, I’d have brought my handcuffs, too, yo,” said the head of security as he burst through the door. The cocky red-head lifted his eyebrows at Leon, who only saw fit to give him a chilling glare.

“Just get over here and administer the sedative,” he said, voice cold and emotionless.

“Touchy, touchy,” said Reno. He shook his head, his long, red ponytail swishing over his shoulders. He stepped carefully around the broken glass on the floor, throwing a smirk at Leon as he approached the desk. Opening up his emergency kit, he took out a syringe filled with a clear liquid. Before Leon could complain any further, he expertly injected the needle into a vein in Saix’s neck, and within seconds, he ceased struggling and fell limp against the desk.

Leon eased his weight off the man, allowing Reno to take Saix in his arms. For such a slender build, the tattooed nurse possessed surprising strength. “Later, doc,” said Reno with a short nod, making his way out the door. He threw a wide grin at Cloud, who had been waiting outside the psychiatrist’s door since before Reno had arrived.

“Later, Strife,” he said, receiving a nod of acknowledgment from the blond before disappearing down the hallway.

Cloud watched after him for a few moments, a half-smile picking up his lips. He liked Reno. Reno was annoying and brash, but Leon hated him. And Cloud loved that.

He silently slipped inside Leon’s office and sat on the couch, a serene smile on his face as he watched the brunet pick up the remains of his broken goods.

“Sorry for keeping you waiting,” came the low voice of one rather pissed off doctor. Saix had broken one of his favorite picture frames this time, and left deep gouges in his brand new desk. He angrily dropped the broken pieces of wood into his garbage can with a dull clunk, glancing over at Cloud as he opened the closet door for a broom.

The two had long since accidentally come across a system of nonverbal communication. Leon had quickly realized that Cloud was a stubborn ass and would not speak, which was fine by him. Cloud had quickly realized that Leon was one of the few frigid bitches who really didn’t care if he spoke, which was not fine by him. Leon liked his silence. Leon was happy with his silence. Leon probably got off on his silence. Simply for the fact that Leon was the person in charge of “fixing” him, Cloud did not want the man to be happy, much less sexually satisfied. In the space of two appointments, Dr. Leonhart had managed to break Cloud of his protective shell, blank stares, and absolute reluctance to communicate anything at all—all without saying more than 10 words.

So when he looked over to see Cloud grinning so widely his sparkling, blue eyes were narrow slits in his face, Leon knew exactly what the blond was saying: “As long as you’re unhappy, I would’ve waited forever, Dr. Leonhart.”

The shards of glass clinked together as the brunet brushed them into a dust pan. He could feel a few choice words threatening to spill from his lips—most of which involved the blond performing obscene and impossible sexual acts with his mother—but decided at the last moment that his job was worth more than whatever fleeting joy cussing out Strife would bring. He merely grunted in annoyance, tilted the dust pan into the garbage can, and returned his much used broom and pan to the closet.

Cloud watched with diminishing interest as Leon took his seat behind his desk and resumed his cold, professional air. When Leon finally asked, “Is there anything you wanted to talk about today?” Cloud had already laid back on the couch and begun to close his eyes. The required appointment was half an hour long; “required” by the hospital, not himself. While he was there, Cloud supposed, he might as well use his time to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Besides, Saix had done a pretty good job of wrecking Leon’s day, so Cloud didn’t feel so bad for slacking off on his self-imposed mission.

Leon impassively observed as Cloud made himself comfy in the couch, quietly rejoicing that the blue-eyed mute had chosen not to annoy the living shit out of him. With a small, rueful grin, he flipped open his cell phone to check his messages, taking an unofficial, though much needed, break.

Beep-beep-beep. Beep-beep-beep.

...Or not. Leon sighed, pressing the heel of his palm to face as he unclipped his beeper from his belt. Yet another crisis in the cafeteria. Glorious.

“Cloud,” he called out, “you’ll have to come with me, or else you can go back to your room.” He stood, striding over to the napping blond and nudging his shoulder.

Cloud dolefully opened his eyes and narrowed them at the sable-haired doctor. If there was anything he disliked more than the doctor himself, it was being interrupted by said doctor while he was napping. He arose from the couch, brushing past the doctor, about to leave the office.

“If you come with me, there’s a good chance you’ll get to see my day be completely and irredeemably ruined,” commented Leon offhandedly, shoving his hands into his pockets.

Cloud paused, turned, and raised an eyebrow at Leon. Really, now?

The doctor merely smirked and swept passed Cloud on his way out the door, noting as Cloud silently followed after him. At the back of his mind, though, he wondered why he was so insistent that the quiet blond go with him.