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: "To clear my debt to my benefactor here, I am producing literature of a higher caliber than his current selections," Kuja informed her. His face was threatening to break a smile.
"I suppose," Kuja said as he paused with his hands mid-air over the ancient typewriter, fingers in proper 'pecking' position, "that the hero should not be prettier than the heroine."
"It's your story," Vincent replied for the seventeenth time since he'd settled onto the porch to watch the sun slowly sink into the trees as afternoon turned to evening. He could only assume that Kuja thought his interest was in the writing, but Vincent was really just hopeful that nightfall would bring Aerith skipping merrily along with a freshly-made wreath of flowers, ready to crown herself queen of the fields and meadows.
It was the seventeenth time, Vincent noted, because after the third time he'd actually began to count.
And somehow the irregular sound of the typewriter was soothing, even the overly long pauses when Kuja misplaced the letter 'P' and grumbled softly under his breath as his tail twitched ever so slightly.
Vincent would be hard pressed not to admit that Kuja's tail was fascinating. Like with an animal, it helped as a gauge of mood. There was also a lingering temptation to pull at it as Kuja strode by in pants forced so low that it could safely slip over the waistband.
Though at the moment, and perhaps just because of comfort, Kuja had changed into a skirt-like yet decidedly male garment that he'd chosen the day before during the shopping expedition. And through some twist, it managed to show only the heels of his boots and the tip of his still-twitching tail.
Aerith was still amongst the missing in action, though Vincent didn't feel that quite the proper term. She was, of course, quite dead. But still missing.
"Lloyd glanced to the sky, where the fiery sun burned a passionate red as it began to dip below the gnarled horizon," Kuja read aloud. "Before him spread the twisted maze of the Forbidden Forest -- the very obstacle keeping him from his beloved."
Vincent wondered if he should just stay silent.
He didn't have that option, apparently.
"You haven't really explained why Lloyd likes this girl so much," Vincent said after a moment of figuring out the least death-inducing thing he could say. "Maybe you should add that in."
"Sakura's looks have nothing to do with it," Kuja said flatly. "Her charisma is best explained through..."
"Bodice-ripping?" Vincent suggested, trying not to smile.
"Perhaps," Kuja said, apparently carefully weighing the suggestion. "An erotic memory from nights previous to bolster Lloyd's grand resolve to rescue Sakura from the also-beautiful Wicked Wizard D'Araben?"
Vincent blinked once. He was hoping for his phone to ring. He'd actually called Yuffie, of all people, in hopes she'd call him back. During daytime hours, even.
"I see Lloyd as a bit of a rebellious knight, really," Kuja continued, reaching to brush stray silvery-purple wisps of hair from his face. The sunset was tinting him in oranges and reds that stuck in his hair, making him look more unworldly than he already was.
"Why don't you save a few surprises for when I read it?" Vincent asked, realizing that he'd come up with the perfect tactic.
"I may need your assistance, however, for certain parts," Kuja said serenely as he slid off of the stepstool that when paired with an orange-crate from the attic formed the perfect, if absolutely primitive, writing set-up. In just seconds, he had gracefully slid between the porch railing and Vincent, smiling serenely. "You did pledge an oath to be my test audience."
"I did," Vincent replied. He had. And he'd regretted it fifteen times that day, along with the fourteen from the day before. And yet Kuja held his attention with his natural charisma, leaving Vincent to feel almost as though there was reason behind the madness that had put Kuja in his life.
Aerith needed to show up soon. He was fairly sure that he was losing it.
Yes, he was losing it - his tainted soul didn't deserve to have requests granted.
Kuja turned, stepping back to reveal Aerith on the other side of the railing, a wide grin on her face.
"Oh, you look like you're doing well..."
"Aerith," Vincent managed before Kuja had descended the porch steps to size up the demi-goddess.
"What manner of mage are you?" Kuja asked, reaching to touch her. But his hand only fell through her almost-transparent form.
"A dead one," Vincent said flatly before frowning in Aerith's direction. "Who happens to owe us a little bit of an explanation."
Aerith laughed nervously, toying with her bracelets for a moment before finally gliding over to sit on the porch steps.
"Well," she began, a smile instantly forming on her face, "I was sort of digging around in the Lifestream, looking for memories and stories, and I struck this connection... Sort of like touching a powerline, I guess, but good. After all, it wasn't going to un-kill me. And... I pulled."
Vincent wondered if he could possibly frown more. That was it? Kuja didn't look very happy about the explanation ever.
"You pulled?" he asked, shaking his head. "Why would you...?"
"You grabbed for me," Aerith replied as she looked up at Kuja. "I can take you back, if..."
"Aerith -" Vincent warned. He was surprised by the sound of his own voice. But he also just couldn't let Kuja go back to nothingness so quickly. As much as he hated to admit it, especially to himself, another body in the house was a welcome thing.
And not when, (he glanced at the typewriter), Kuja was having so much... fun.
"Hey, I'm not here to take him back. It's just an offer," Aerith said, leaning back against the slightly-warped boards of the porch. "But it's his choice."
"If you're right and I did grasp for one last performance, then I'll take this as my final show," Kuja said slowly. "But..."
"Your sickness?" Aerith asked, still laying back and speaking up at where a light fixture dangled overhead, the bulb burned out and never replaced. "Well, that I can only delay a bit. You, unlike Vincent here, were not built to last forever."
"Oh." Kuja turned, looking out at the sunset.
"It's only easy for her to say because death was no deterrent to annoying me," Vincent commented from his chair.
"I wasn't that annoying before, was I?" Aerith asked, sitting up abruptly. "I mean, I did pull your hair and grab your cloak and ask if I could use your hand to open chips but I only did that once..."
Vincent frowned. More.
"Okay, so maybe I was," Aerith decided. "So what's for dinner?"
"You can eat?" Kuja's attempted indifference was shattered in a second.
"No, but you can! I could make some nice..."
"No," Vincent said quickly. "Not after you tried to kill me with salt three weeks ago."
"A chef who can't taste her own food," Kuja noted. "I could put that into my epic narrative."
"Epic what?" Aerith asked as she scrambled to her feet. Her gaze and Kuja's met over the typewriter. "You write?"
"To clear my debt to my benefactor here, I am producing literature of a higher caliber than his current selections," Kuja informed her. His face was threatening to break a smile.
"Oh!" Aerith exclaimed. "I want to read it! Or you can read it to me while Vincent makes dinner."
Vincent wondered just why he'd decided not to go back into the much less-irritating business of espionage, murder and intimidation. At least he'd had decent benefits and a holiday bonus.
In a way, Vincent was a little sad to see Aerith go sliding off into the pines. Mainly because after getting to read most of his rough-draft to her, Kuja seemed in no hurry to stop writing and settle into a proper evening activity, like sleeping.
"Shouldn't you sleep?" Vincent asked as he stood and stretched, intending to do just that himself.
Kuja paused - he'd brought the typewriter in for the night and had settled sprawled on his stomach on the floor, the typewriter in front of him.
"When I finish this chapter," Kuja replied. "For I must catch this vision before it escapes - Lloyd and Sakura kiss under the new moon, just before D'Araben catches them and makes a slave of Lloyd as well."
"Should have rescued her while he could," Vincent said with a shrug. He could only wonder what would come next - Sakura running into the basement to escape?
"But..." Kuja trailed off as he pushed his hair back. His tail was twitching.
"It's your story," Vincent said quickly. "I'm sure you have a devious twist in store."
"You'll have to wait for the morning sun for that answer," Kuja replied as he started typing again.
Vincent managed a slight smile as he watched Kuja for one last minute. With Aerith around, he hadn't had a chance to delve into the lone question that had been nagging him all evening - Kuja was sick. It fit, after all, with his painfully frail frame and pale skin. If he had a chance... if he wanted a chance... there was at least the doctor in Mideel who seemed competent enough to take a look at anyone who happened in without commenting too much on the situation.
Turning to head down the hallway to his room, the sound of keys against paper was almost comforting for a few strange seconds.
The sun was already above the trees when Vincent decided he'd stayed in bed for longer than necessary. He had the strange feeling that there was a frail body asleep in the middle of the living room floor and he didn't want to disturb his houseguest quite so early.
He did need to move his body, though, especially his left arm. Clenching and unclenching his fingers a few times, Vincent decided to add the task of cleaning and oiling the metal mechanisms and suchforth that comprised the horror attached to his body.
He refused to like it, but it was more useful than a stump or one of the constantly tedious newer replacements like Barrett's, which took much more of the body's energy for much less output.
Sure enough, Kuja was asleep on the floor in the middle of the room, looking twice as ethereal as usual and almost small as he slept.
Kneeling down, Vincent scooped Kuja into his arms and turned to deposit him on the sofa, where at least he'd be a few feet farther from the sun creeping through the room. Barely stirring, Kuja did seem to curl under the blanket that Vincent draped over him from the back of the sofa.
Breakfast could wait. Vincent stretched again, heading to the kitchen to get the box of tiny tools that worked the best at taking care of his malformity.
"What are you doing?"
Vincent glanced up. Two hours had passed and he had nearly finished tinkering with his fingers. Kuja was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, clutching the blanket around his shoulders and looking much more rumpled than Vincent remembered.
"Maintenance," Vincent replied before realizing that would never be enough for the inquisitive man. "Needs to be cleaned now and then."
"What gets in... you?" Kuja asked as he closed in on the table. "Debris?"
"A little food, hair, lint... Sadly, nothing exciting," Vincent explained. "I'm nearly finished. If you don't mind a simple breakfast, by the time you've showered..."
"I have come to a bit of an impasse with my tale," Kuja admitted as he pulled out one of the kitchen chairs and promptly sat.
"Oh?" Vincent inquired. No matter what, he was going to hear the details. So if nothing else, he might as well hear them voluntarily.
"Trying to properly recount the emotional response to physical contact," Kuja began before diverting his eyes almost modestly, "without having experienced anything similar in quite some time..."
Thankful for something to divert him from the chuckle that threatened to escape, Vincent just kept on snapping metal into place, until finally he could close his fist without an awkward pull just behind his wrist.
"So," Kuja continued after a minute of silence, "last night I decided that perhaps I could inquire if Miss Aerith would..."
"She has a boyfriend," Vincent interrupted. "Nice guy, but not capable of popping out of the Lifestream that often. And really, I think Aerith might give you too much information."
"A beautiful creature such as her would be taken..." Kuja lamented.
"If you aren't going to go shower, I am," Vincent said. He'd had enough of the topic, and besides, he had a fair bit of oil on his human parts that needed to be scrubbed away before cooking.
"I suppose you'll just have to volunteer yourself to my noble cause." Kuja's voice echoed through the hallway.
Vincent pulled the bathroom door shut quickly and locked it, rather unsure of just what he was supposed to do now that Kuja's already misplaced curiosity had been focused in his direction.
He wasn't really going to have to kiss the man, was he?
The thought wasn't entirely unappealing, after all.
Turning on the water, Vincent slipped under the shower's stream after quickly undressing. The water wasn't warm, but the cold didn't really bother him. In a way, it was welcome. Normally, the only intimacies in his life came in the form of strange, awkward midnight encounters when Cloud came to visit.
But he knew, after all these years, that he wasn't taking utter advantage of Cloud. With Kuja, the fragile little... despite the chill of the water, his hand had wandered downward anyway.
Lazy conversation had revealed a little of Kuja's past, soft mentions of mass genocide and finally learning a little more about life. But he didn't want to think about that, just as he rarely thought about Sephiroth, even when Cloud murmured the name in his sleep.
It wasn't his problem to face, anyway, as long as Kuja stayed a docile, willing guest.
Clean, but unsated, Vincent turned the shower off. Just because Kuja could destroy the world didn't mean he would - Cloud could do the same thing but chose not to... Kuja seemed quite right in his mind, save for the horrible writing and - Vincent paused as he wrapped the towel around his waist - wanting a kiss.
A perfectly unattached, emotionless kiss. In the name of fiction.
He could do that. With his night-clothes in his right hand while his left held the towel in place, Vincent made his way back to his room to get dressed for the day.
After all, one little kiss couldn't change anything, could it?
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!