Sorry, Try Again
Title: Sorry, Try Again
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts/Final Fantasy VII
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Kadaj, Full Cast
Rating: M Overall
Summary: What if Advent Children Aerith sent Kadaj off to start again in a place he comes to find is called Traverse Town? What if he found himself torn between a young man who looks like his brother, a brother who doesn't know him, a new chance at a mother, and an icy-eyed man who took him in?
"Aerith," Kadaj murmured, lacing his fingers together behind Aerith's back, not wanting to let go of her. Even though he was already sure he'd lost every other sensory enhancement that went along with his previous not-entirely corporeal existence, he could feel a calming acceptance radiating from her.
She would give him another chance.
"It must have been scary," Aerith whispered, running her fingers through his hair. "But you're safe now, Kadaj. You're safe."
"Leon found him," Yuffie said a minute later. "But... He kinda had stuff to do so I've been giving Kadaj the tour. He's seventeen and from a big family, so..."
"I think that you and Leon have enough room for a guest," Aerith commented as she reached back to gently squeeze at where Kadaj was holding her.
Almost embarrassed to still be clinging, Kadaj stepped back, looking down at the worn stone beneath his feet while the women talked about him like he was a stray kitten.
He felt almost like a stray kitten. He'd found the perfect analogy for himself. Finally reaching up to clear the tears lingering on his cheeks, he wasn't the least bit surprised when Yuffie popped in front of his face.
"You're gonna stay with me and Squall," Yuffie announced. "Leon, I mean. I should have thought of that!"
"Leon said there was an inn..." Kadaj whispered. The acceptance was growing to be overwhelming and if anything, he really did want to just lay down and close his eyes for a bit.
"I'm sure you're tired, aren't you?" Aerith asked. "We can go back to the shop right now..."
"I don't want to be a burden," Kadaj replied. "If there's an inn..."
"You're coming with us," Yuffie reiterated, grabbing Kadaj's hand and pulling him a few steps. "And stop crying. You'll get used to everything here. It's hard not to be sad at first. We were all sad."
"Yuffie," Aerith warned. "Be careful with him. He's tired."
"I'm right here," Kadaj reminded her. "And you don't know a thing about me - how can you just take me in?"
"A feeling in my heart," Aerith replied, smiling. "You made it through the darkness. Only a powerful love can do that."
"Love," Kadaj repeated. "Love?"
"Yes," Aerith said as she took Kadaj's other hand. "But you're tired, aren't you? Let Yuffie and I worry about things for a little while."
Nodding, Kadaj let himself be led to a brickwork shop that rose up near the center of the district.
"Cid isn't here right now," Aerith commented as she waved to the clerk with her free hand. "He heard something about rare gummi blocks and headed right off towards some sort of space whale. Even though he may seem a little hard headed, it's always been to keep us safe."
"Cid and Aerith and Leon and I are all from the same world," Yuffie explained. "I think that as far as 'really destroyed' worlds go, we have the highest number of survivors."
"Four?" Kadaj questioned. That was not a very large number. Whatever was being fought against, it seemed as though this group was part of the side losing. Leon had mentioned something - Heartless. But the term didn't mean anything to him. And certainly everything in town seemed quiet, so far.
"Six, actually," Aerith answered. "Two don't live in this world, though. Circumstances."
"If you stay... oh, your eyes!" Yuffie brushed back Kadaj's hair and leaned in to stare at him from just inches away. "Are you sure you aren't from Hollow Bastion?"
"I don't... think so," Kadaj replied.
"Just think what he'll grow up to look like," Yuffie said with a smile. "Aerith, no wonder you like him so much."
"You do look like him," Aerith said with another smile. "Maybe that's why I feel so drawn to you. I don't remember what he looked like at your age though - he was off with the king's army.... My older brother, Sephiroth."
Kadaj wondered why things were spinning around him. And why the girls' voices seemed so far away.
Kadaj blinked once in the darkness before remembering that he was still alive. But what he'd been told - this world was so radically different than what he'd left. Aerith and Sephiroth - siblings? Perhaps it was why the other Aerith - his Aerith - had picked this particular place to leave him.
Thankfully still in his clothes and beneath a pile of nearly suffocating blankets that he could only imagine Yuffie had lumped on top of him, Kadaj could hear just pieces of the conversation occurring in the room beyond.
"Oh, as if you really needed a separate room for all that junk," Yuffie shot back. The first voice - that had been Leon.
That's right. He'd passed out.
"I'm going to go down and talk to Aerith." Leon did not sound happy.
"She helped me," Yuffie commented. "Besides, he needs a place to stay. And Aerith said he's okay."
"We'll see," Leon replied. "But I'm not going to baby-sit."
Kadaj sighed silently. Leon had seemed so much nicer earlier, in person.
Pushing away the blankets, he could see well enough thanks to the light coming in beneath the door. He had to be in Yuffie's room. As he reached for the doorknob, he paused. This was his new home - not a weekend away. He'd been granted sanctuary by an Aerith who was Sephiroth's sister, of all things. With no magic and no real purpose and no one else to rely on to watch his back, Kadaj couldn't help but stumble upon the realization that he had to make all of this work.
He opened the door.
Both Leon and Yuffie had their hands full when they turned at the sound of the door creaking on its hinges. Boxes were strewn around the main room of the apartment, likely what the pair had been arguing about.
"You're up!" Yuffie let her armload drop before scrambling over a low sofa to land right in front of Kadaj. "And y'know, if you open the door really quickly, it doesn't squeak like that."
"Apparently you're staying here," Leon said flatly from across the room where he was kneeling to grab what Yuffie had dropped. "I expect you to carry your weight."
"I... I might need some help at first," Kadaj admitted as he glanced over towards where the main room transitioned into a fairly messy kitchen. He didn't even know how to explain that even dirty dishes were a mystery to him.
"If Yuffie can do..." Leon began, only to be interrupted by the ninja.
"Hey, this coming from someone who tries to do laundry but is always shrinking my shorts?" Yuffie shot back. She glanced back at Kadaj for a moment. "We aren't always like this. Leon's a good roommate and I think you will be too. Besides, the town has plenty of things to do so it isn't like we even spend that much time here."
"Well, do you fight?" Leon asked as he carried a couple of boxes over to a corner and dropped them. "There are quite a few dangers that go with living here. Even some skill with a sword..."
"I think you'd be surprised," Kadaj replied, smiling ever so slightly. Yes, he could fight. That was about all he could do, but he very much could fight. If taking care of some pitiful monsters would help him along the path to salvation, he could to it.
"Really?" Yuffie asked. "But you're so small! I could probably pick you right up."
There was a pause as Yuffie held up a hand to her head and then shuffled it through the air to see that actually, Kadaj was just a bit taller.
"'Kay, nevermind that."
"Apparently Yuffie and Aerith cleaned out the spare bedroom for you," Leon interjected. "Though I don't assume you have anything to put in it yet."
"That's right, Squall. And even though he would fit in my clothing..."
"I'm right here," Kadaj reminded her. Yuffie laughed.
"Why don't I take Kadaj to Second District to get a few things," Leon suggested.
"But..." Yuffie began.
"And you can finish cleaning up the mess that you and Aerith made."
Yuffie sighed and put a hand to her forehead before flopping back over the low sofa and rolling off the other side before springingly grabbing a box. "Oh, okay..."
"Kadaj? Up to going out?"
"I guess," Kadaj replied as he stretched once. His body felt better, at least, after getting some rest. He wasn't hungry. Wasn't tired. Felt... okay.
"Good," Leon said. "Because I really don't trust either of the girls to pick out clothing for you."
"Squall! I'm still here!" Yuffie exclaimed.
"Leon," he corrected.
Kadaj smirked. Life was really going to be different. But interesting. And certainly not dull.
"So you're a fighter," Leon said as they crossed into Second District. "I should have guessed. You carry yourself like one."
"Huh?" Really, Kadaj had just been looking up at the buildings and the sky, almost forgetting Leon was beside him.
"We'll get you a weapon first," Leon continued. "I look forward to a spar. If you're any good, Yuffie and I will take you to that world that I mentioned before, with the battle tournaments."
"Unless you'd really like to find a job here."
"I do need to pay for... everything, don't I?" Kadaj asked, more to himself than to Leon. Yazoo had always taken care of that petty stuff and he'd never asked questions. But Yazoo was gone. Yazoo and Loz.
He wondered why he wanted to start crying. He'd never really... not until...
"Sorry," Kadaj whispered, realizing he'd just stopped and was standing still. Reaching up to brush away the tears gathered at the corners of his eyes, he noticed that Leon had an exceptionally conflicted look on his face.
"Normally, this is where Aerith would hug someone," Leon said once Kadaj looked up properly. "But I don't really know..."
Still, he moved to put a hand on Kadaj's shoulder, the weight warm and comfortable in the dark town.
They stood there in silence for a moment; until Leon pulled his hand away and gestured that they should keep going.
"It may sound like bullshit, but it does get easier," he said. "I was your age when I ended up here. But I was just angry more than anything."
"Angry?" Kadaj asked.
"At myself, mainly, for failing. For losing everything," Leon admitted. "But that's... I guess the important thing to remember is that what happened wasn't your fault."
Kadaj didn't know how to reply. If anything, everything was his fault. Yet being angry at himself hadn't even really popped into his head. Probably because he hadn't had enough time to think about it.
"Here," Leon announced, pointing at a weapons shop. "Find something you'll be comfortable with and don't worry about cost. Consider it your welcoming gift."
"But..." Bells jingled overhead as they entered. The shopkeeper waved to Leon before going back to the book she'd been reading.
It took a minute before Kadaj realized that there were many worlds worth of weapons almost piled in the shop, hanging on every wall and stacked even in the center. Anything he could think of...
"Anything in particular?"
Kadaj wondered when the shopkeeper had even gotten to her feet and slid out from behind the counter.
"Dual katana - souba," he replied softly. There was a slim chance that anything like that existed in this world, anyway. And it wasn't a particularly well-designed weapon, though usually no one got close enough to realize that little fact.
"Like this?" the shopkeeper questioned as she pulled a sword out what looked like an umbrella stand filled with swords.
Leon was just standing with his arms crossed, watching the entire scene play out.
Kadaj pushed his hair back, staring for a moment at what she was offering him.
"Yes," he said. "Yes, that's... it."
Once the sword in his hands, he couldn't help but smile as he felt a familiar warmth for a fleeting second.
"Well, I think we can agree on a price for it," the woman continued. "That thing has been here for quite awhile, actually. So..."
She looked at Leon. Leon nodded.
"Quite awhile?" Kadaj asked, a little curious. But already he knew this world was radically different. Sephiroth. Aerith. Then... Thoughts collided in his mind and he wanted to run back to Aerith and ask the obvious questions of her.
Leon was still watching him intently, though. They had things to do.
And he had time. All he had was time.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!