This is Absolute Drivel
Title: This is Absolute Drivel
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII/Final Fantasy IX
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Vincent/Kuja, Aerith, etc.
Summary: Vincent couldn't help himself, really. As much as he liked Aerith, present tense included, he rather wished that she would just stay dead and stop trying to meddle in everyone's lives.
The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon when Vincent crawled out from beneath his own covers, curious if his guest had actually gotten to sleep or if Kuja had stayed up all night reading.
Pulling a robe around his body, Vincent tiptoed down the hallway to glance into Kuja's room. The small bedside lamp was still on, but Kuja was asleep, the book still clutched by slim fingers.
Vincent managed a small smile before remembering just how he'd ended up with a houseguest that he had absolutely no way to get rid of.
Perhaps Aerith would be up. Pulling on his boots, Vincent marched through the front door and past his thankfully upright garbage cans. He'd never really bothered keeping them anywhere but the front lawn - less grass to mow was never a bad thing in his mind.
He paused, trying to remember the last time he actually done anything with the grassy meadow that seemed to be comprising his front yard. Living far enough away from Kalm did have a few advantages, like that of not being harassed by the neighbors that he didn't much care for any tedious outdoor activity.
"Aerith?" he called as he headed towards the woods. She always seemed to circle around that area, making Vincent sure that there was a crack in the planet's crust that let the lifestream flow up. However he hadn't actually managed to find that spot else he would have attempted to pour some concrete in it months ago.
He could understand Aerith being lonely, though. Even though she was supposed to have merged into a nice, collective conscious or whatever she'd babbled about not really wanting to do.
She was the most alive dead person that he'd ever met, Vincent thought. And he'd actually met a couple of other dead people.
Nothing. Even the birds were quiet in his presence as he wandered through the thickening undergrowth.
A twig snapped, giving Vincent a bit of hope. But as he saw a rabbit dart across his path some ten feet ahead of him, it was lost.
"I'll be back," he muttered, turning to head back to his house and whatever his strange guest had in store for him.
The house was still quiet when he returned, something Vincent was almost thankful for. Whatever Kuja had been through - and certainly Kuja had only hinted that his past had been streaked with foul deeds and amends with death...
Vincent nearly dropped the pancake batter that he'd near-lovingly reconstituted from a box - Aerith had pulled a varying-sanity magic-using megalomaniacal-alien silver-haired pretty-boy from some sort of necessary death.
But part of him wanted very desperately to believe that Aerith hadn't been happily trying to bring back Sephiroth. She wouldn't do that. He'd killed her after all. Or sent her to the state she was currently in, at least.
He kept working on the pancakes. Until he talked to both Aerith and Kuja, he couldn't be too entirely sure his assumption wasn't going to make him just look like an ass.
Vincent turned to see Kuja lingering in the doorway, still dressed in the pajamas he'd borrowed and looking quite groggy.
"Pancakes," Vincent replied. "There's coffee on, too."
"This is all real, isn't it?"
"I asked the same thing myself," Vincent admitted. "But I don't really have any problems with you staying for however long you need to."
"I am not a man who willingly becomes a burden upon..."
"You're going to stay," Vincent interrupted. "And the pancakes are ready."
Kuja nodded, frowning a bit before slipping over to the kitchen table anyway.
"You've been quiet the entire way here," Vincent said as they wandered into the business district of Kalm.
"Would you rather have my detailed commentary on the sheer boredom that hike evoked within my tainted soul?" Kuja asked.
"I'm not carrying you back, either," Vincent replied as he dumped Kuja onto the paving-stone roadway. That wasn't the full truth. He would carry Kuja back if it was necessary. Kuja was not built for endurance and seemed almost shaky with fatigue.
But Kuja had wanted to make the trek into Kalm, after all. And it wasn't as though there was really anything else to do. Vincent wasn't quite ready to admit that his entire itinerary for the day had, before acquiring Kuja, included trimming the hedges and perhaps airing out the attic.
Being reclusive and rich wasn't quite the lifestyle he'd dreamed of when he was a child, but it suited him. And any time he finally began to savor the tranquility of his life, either Aerith or someone else popped in anyway.
"I do not recall a request for you to carry my weight to begin with," Kuja said, straightening up. Vincent couldn't help being a little surprised at how tall Kuja was in comparison to the tiny bit of meat on his bones. But also the tail that was cleverly hidden beneath sweatpants was a bit of an indicator that Kuja's body wasn't going to follow the normal laws of growth and genetics.
Vincent didn't reply. He had a shopping list of his own and after pushing a couple hundred gil into Kuja's hands, he headed off in the other direction.
Vincent smirked at the first uncultured thing he'd heard fall from Kuja's lips.
"Come on, then," Vincent said as he glanced back over his shoulder. "We'll get you some comfortable clothing first."
"I doubt a positively bucolic village such as this would have anything worthy," Kuja replied as he attempted to change Vincent's fast pace by strolling along and looking into the windows of each shop.
"Should I assume that what you arrived in was your everyday attire?" Vincent queried. Admittedly, he couldn't help thinking that Kuja looked just a bit better when dressed as a boy, but if the young man wanted to cross-dress, Vincent was fairly sure there was no point in interfering.
"What are you implying?" Kuja asked.
Vincent almost felt uncomfortable with those blue eyes locked on him. The feeling reminded him almost of the expression that crossed people's faces when they saw his own ruby-tinted eyes.
And there was also the fact that his charge just happened to have a tail. Any possible way that he could think of to pass that off as 'normal' simply sounded either like a stupid lie in his head or would just encourage a bit more investigation.
Until he understood just what had happened, save the bad dimestore novel idea of a sudden pop through dimensions, keeping his mouth shut seemed smarter than anything.
As long as Kuja didn't...
Before he could reply to Kuja's query, a shop had caught Kuja's eye, luring him over and leaving Vincent to follow.
"Here," Kuja declared before slipping into one of the newer shops in town, one that Yuffie had told him had branched out from the trendiest sections of the rebuilt Midgar.
By the time Vincent had stepped into the store, two clerks had already descended upon Kuja, toying with his hair and offering him pieces off the racks. Vincent sighed. It was going to be a long day.
But not quite wanting to abandon Kuja just yet, he busied himself with looking around the store. At least he could agree on the color scheme - black with only fleeting bits of color.
"Looking for something in particular?" A third clerk had appeared and was sizing him up.
"I'm just in here with a..." Well there was a question in itself. "A houseguest."
"That is a boy, right?" Vincent realized this clerk was a little older and likely not one of the Midgarian transplants who'd opened the place.
"As best as I can tell," Vincent replied. "But if you're lacking for other customers, I suppose I could pick up a couple of gifts for friends."
Nearly an hour later, Kuja had exhausted both his handful of gil and the clerks who'd been helping him. And while Vincent wasn't entirely sure that he wanted to admit it, Kuja did look quite good dressed in tight-fitting yet androgynous black.
Vincent had his own bag, though, filled with little gift boxes for Yuffie, Cloud and Tifa. And while he'd also found a fitting little charm for Aerith, he hesitated because he wasn't entirely sure that she could take it with her.
"Well?" Kuja asked, spinning around once. "Am I fit for this stage?"
"If the drugstore is considered a stage, then you are," Vincent replied. "I was not intending an all day event."
Kuja smirked. "But those are the most enjoyable."
Amongst the little things that Vincent was thankful for, it was that after a quick meal and a bit more shopping, Kuja seemed to finally be casting off the fatigue he'd exhibited earlier in the day.
Vincent still carried most of their bags, however, leaving Kuja with one free hand with which to point and then ask questions. A pop into a different dimension entirely... Really, Vincent thought that Kuja was taking it fairly well.
"What did you buy while I was trying on clothing?" Kuja asked as they passed Vincent's thankfully still upright garbage cans.
"Gifts, for the people on the calendar," Vincent replied. "If you stay here, you'll probably meet them."
"Friends," Kuja said, repeating the conversation from the night before. "What about family - or a girlfriend?"
"I have neither," Vincent replied before throwing the question back. "And you?"
"That is a complicated query," Kuja admitted as he stepped to hold the screen-door open while Vincent unlocked the house. "I believe the best phrasing is that no one will miss me."
Vincent paused halfway to the kitchen. Aerith had certainly given him a handful. But she had also been there when he'd been freed from his torturous prison and unending nightmares.
"I was considering airing out the attic today," Vincent commented, well aware that Kuja was still following him. "There are boxes up there that came with the house and you're welcome to anything you find."
Kuja frowned. "You're..."
"Putting you to work under the guise of offering you costumes or knickknacks or whatever might be up there to amuse you, yes," Vincent admitted. "Though if you're tired, it can wait."
Perhaps letting Kuja dig through the old boxes hadn't been one of his better ideas, Vincent decided after he realized that he'd been the one carrying things down to the sitting room or out to the yard to hang in the warm breeze that had proved to be perfect for the afternoon's activity.
"I did acquire a few play scripts earlier," Kuja said as he pulled out the third or fourth panel of raw fabric that he'd found while digging. "And a couple of dull-looking novellas that should appeal to you."
"Oh?" Vincent questioned from where he had pulled a crate over to one of the otherwise useless dormer windows that had been propped up with a chunk of wood. It wasn't a true attic so much as a space that had never been converted properly to anything. Boards lined the floor, making every inch sturdy yet the trusses of the house converged to the sides, making the last few feet impassable. The sun was growing low in the sky but the warmth felt good.
"Just fantasies," Kuja replied. "Escapism."
"Wouldn't you?" Vincent asked as he reached to where the paint was peeling from the windowsill. He knew it would be simple to send flakes to the floor with his metal hand, but he tried not to use it.
"I do not have an answer for that, not knowing what sort of man you truly are to hide out in the countryside yet keep so many friends from other locations," Kuja said. He pulled the fabric around his shoulders, making a shimmering purple cloak of it. "I suppose there are many conversations that we should have over the next expanses of time."
"Perhaps," Vincent admitted. "But for now, why don't I just take a few more things downstairs for you."
"Not yet," Kuja insisted as he got to his feet and walked over to the window to peer out over the same horizon. "Not a big enough pile."
Vincent managed to smile.
"I am almost through that last story," Kuja said a moment later, still leaning over Vincent to take in the scenery. "The denouement, however, was so painfully dull that..."
"You fell asleep," Vincent finished. "I noticed."
"Trite and cliché," Kuja announced. "Perfect love and white horses with evil vanquished. And even more poorly phrased erotica, if it could be considered that."
"Escapism," Vincent threw back, flinching a bit as Kuja unconsciously grabbed at his metal arm while righting himself.
"I could write a better tome than that without even pausing for thought," Kuja said. The purple material was still draped over him and he looked a cross between ridiculous and royal as he marched back to where he'd been foraging. "Something to excite both minds and..."
"Then do it," Vincent interrupted, not entirely sure he wanted to hear the rest of Kuja's declaration.
"Do it." Vincent reached to close the window, carefully placing the prop just beside it. The other windows had stayed open on their own, thankfully, though one was most likely going to need a bit of assistance to close again. "You can even... use me as a test audience."
By the time the words were out of his mouth, Vincent knew he was in trouble. But with luck, Aerith would return in the morning and everything would at least be explained, if not sorted out.
As if anything she could say would remove the sudden sparkle that had rooted in Kuja's eyes.
"Do you have a typewriter?" Kuja asked. "If I cannot repay your hospitality with money, I'll repay you with art."
"I never expected for you to bother," Vincent said.
Kuja chuckled. "Neither did I. But I believe that a challenge is all I can find to do with myself at this moment."
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