Ten Days Til the Veil Falls!
Title: Ten Days Til the Veil Falls!
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Loz/Yazoo, some Kadaj/Cloud parts...
Summary: Ten days of strings-free living. Until the veil falls again.
Notes: For Cyd. A word a day for the last ten days = fic spanning ten days in the life of three young men who get a chance to experience strings-free living. Until the veil falls again. 'Sections' are between hori-lines. Each one is a new day. And yes, the POV shifts. I'm sorry.
"They're rebuilding nicely," Yazoo noted as he glanced at the stone buildings around him. Those that had survived or been repaired were decorated meticulously while those still in ruin made the perfect backdrop to Kalm's other yearly festival - the one for the dead.
"Of all the things for you to worry about," Kadaj interrupted sharply as he marched ahead of his brothers. Loz still had his hand in Yazoo's, a little unsure about not just the surroundings but the situation.
"Learn to let go." Yazoo reached with his free hand to brush some of his hair back. "We only have ten days until the veil drops and we have to go back. There's no point dwelling."
"Yes there is," Kadaj replied as he spun around and stopped, causing Yazoo and Loz to stop dead in their tracks.
"Listen to Yazoo," Loz finally said. "Let's just... have fun."
"I know what would be fun," Kadaj muttered. But as his brothers brushed past him, he frowned and then double-stepped to catch up with them.
"Here," he announced a few minutes later when they got to the end of a street. Obviously the house wasn't at all lived in but it had been repaired enough that it could. A string of orange and purple lights ran halfway across the front gutter from the house beside it as if the neighbor had simply not wanted to stop with his decorating.
Loz nodded. Yazoo paused to look up at the lights.
"We'll have to finish decorating," Loz said with a playful smile as Kadaj jammed his hand upward against the door handle. Inside, a lock popped open.
"No," Kadaj replied quickly. "We'll take care of what we had to leave before."
"But won't we be suspicious?" Yazoo asked. "Wouldn't it be better to go back..."
"How?" Kadaj snarled. "It'll take too long. We have ten days until the veil falls."
Loz produced a candle from deep inside the house. There were remnants of furniture against the walls, some covered by white sheets.
"What is there to take care of?" Yazoo questioned before taking the candle and marching back outside to where the house across the street had firepots outside the front door.
In the still night, he didn't even have to shelter it on the trip back.
"Brother," Kadaj said coldly. "He'll join us."
"And how will we get him here?" Loz peered out the window towards the firepots and lights and then back at the lone candle they now possessed.
"I'll call him," Kadaj replied. "And he will answer me."
"I'm going out," Yazoo muttered, pushing past Kadaj and forcing the candle into his hands.
"Where?" Kadaj demanded.
"Decorations." The sun was still a faint glow in the west. Surely he could use his charm to get a few things. For Loz, at least, who seemed to understand more than he let on.
A breeze would have made him a little more comfortable, instead of the unmoving air that seemed to be filled with smoke from firepots and strange, glowing gourds. One of their traditions, Yazoo decided as he crouched down to look at the roughly hacked designs and faces on a cluster in front of a small house.
Loz would like that. He licked his lips and kept moving. There was a market in the center of town. He would get Loz a little gourd to make glow for the next ten nights, until the veil fell and they were whisked back to death.
Yazoo smiled when he stepped into the market area. Everyone seemed to have stacks piles of gourds in all colors, orange and green and white. Even though one of each seemed like a good idea, he wasn't sure he could carry more than one back with him.
Slipping a hand into one of his outfit's shallow pockets, Yazoo was surprised to find that he did still have a few gil remaining from... before. How that had traveled the world with him, he didn't want to know.
But he also didn't understand how the veil had been lifted for them. He didn't want to.
Picking out an orange gourd to become what the lady-clerk called a 'jack-o-lantern', Yazoo could only wonder why Kadaj would keep hanging onto old grudges even after learning their sad truth.
And he headed towards the house they'd found with his arms wrapped around it, wondering what the next nine days would bring.
Loz chased after the little black spiders that seemed to want to skitter and race all over the house. The morning light had revealed them to be the main occupants of the house, and while Yazoo didn't seem to mind them, Kadaj seemed more... unnerved by their presence.
They made a delightful crunch underfoot, anyway. Killing them wasn't any trouble. And once they were taken care of, he had Yazoo's gift to figure out how to hollow out and stick a candle in.
More candles had been discovered tucked in drawers. But those were for when night came.
Yazoo stretched and rolled over on the sofa he'd sprawled out upon. He just seemed so tired, all of a sudden. But, Loz realized, they had been up fairly late and Yazoo was a bit more fragile than either Kadaj or himself.
And he had been rough on Yazoo - too demanding. He just really liked the noises Yazoo made when he felt good and those moments had been rare on the other side. Aerith had kept them busy. Aerith had...
At least he knew what it was like to die - what happened after death. He'd once wondered.
It involved getting kicked in the head by Aerith and told to get up already. He liked her.
"I'm going to see about getting a phone," Kadaj said before slamming the front door. He was gone.
"What?" Loz asked. He squished another spider.
"Kadaj said, last night, that he'd call to Brother," Yazoo explained carefully. "I thought he'd do it... as Sephiroth. But... he's going to get a phone."
"Do you think he... we..."
"No," Yazoo interjected. "Don't worry about it. We have other things to do."
"Like my lantern?" Loz questioned as he glanced over at the pumpkin sitting on a table beside the door.
"Yeah," Yazoo said. He stretched again.
Loz wondered how long Kadaj would be gone.
Kadaj was the one who brought home the firepot, on the third day. Apparently their neighbor, in a fit of neighborly kindness (and just being nosy) thought it might be a good idea for the boys to have a firepot beside Loz's lopsided but evil-looking gourd as it kept guard on the front stoop.
Immediately into it went everything of little value that was lingering around the house. Crushed spiders and paperwork and the very remnants of burnt-down candles. The flames reflected in Kadaj's eyes.
He clutched his phone tight in his left hand, almost as though he was waiting for it to ring. If he had to set it down, it went into his pocket or within his direct sight.
His plan was a good one. Cloud would come to him. And then he would...
Do something. He wasn't sure. The seething anger and hatred that had surfaced when he'd crawled back into the world of the living was subsiding and something different was taking over. Almost the same feeling he felt when he watched Loz and Yazoo interact silently and almost as if they were trying to hide their burning urges to meld their bodies back into one.
The silence unnerved him. He realized that they'd gone out.
Grabbing the last pieces of a broken chair he'd found while spelunking around in the dark and damp dirt-floored basement, Kadaj went out to sit on the steps and feed the tiny flame that lingered in the bottom of the firepot.
He liked to watch the flames consume things. But it was a little pot, more soup-pot than cauldron.
There was only so much that he could destroy.
A handful of girls ran by, still dressed in their school uniforms. One stopped to wave to Kadaj.
Without thinking, he waved back. And then stuffed another piece of wood downward to feed the flames.
"Don't wear that, it's creepy," Kadaj said as he looked over at Yazoo, who had just stepped into the main room. Kadaj hadn't set his phone down yet.
"Everyone dresses up on Veil Day," Yazoo replied. He didn't think he looked bad. Loz had picked out the costume. Or, more correctly, it had frightened him and seemed like a good idea to keep Loz's hands off of him for a few hours. "It's to scare away the evil spirits."
"We're the evil spirits," Kadaj commented with a leer. There was a pause as he tucked his phone into a pants pocket and sat up properly. Yazoo hadn't even noticed that Kadaj had been reading a book. He didn't really remember his little brother being much of a reader. "Are those thigh-high stockings?"
Yazoo smiled and nodded. Obviously he'd picked a good costume if even Kadaj was creeped out by it.
The lady at the shop had insisted he try it on, what with his hair and slender body. The only thing he really lacked was the female form to fill out the top half of the little white lab-coat dress. And she'd cut the price to fit into his meager price range.
Thin wire lens-less glasses perched on his nose. Bobbypins held a tiny paper hat in place. The heels made him seem much too tall but for some reason he didn't want to fathom, he could walk in them.
He reached into one of the pockets and pulled out a syringe. Without a needle and filled only with rusty tap water, it wasn't as nefarious as Yazoo wanted it to be, but it would do. Kadaj shivered and grabbed the book he'd set on his lap.
"I don't see you."
"I should have gotten you little demon horns," Yazoo said as he lifted one leg up over the back of the low sofa and quickly pulled the rest of his body over so that he could settle on Kadaj's lap. He still had the syringe out. "Injection time?"
"Stop that." Kadaj raised a hand. But Loz caught it. Yazoo liked how Kadaj's eyes grew wide at Loz's costume.
"You're both creepy."
Yazoo leaned down to chastely kiss Kadaj on the lips.
"Oh, dearest Brother, but we're yours."
The tiny skeleton looked perfect all strung together with black thread borrowed from the same neighbor who'd given them the firepot. Loz had found two of them in the basement - some sort of rodent.
And the idea of stringing the bones into the sort of realistic decoration that many other houses only faked... It seemed perfect.
He wasn't as skilled with his fingers as Yazoo was or as good with details as Kadaj was and truthfully, the first skeleton was in (more) pieces before he'd figured out the proper way to go about his task.
Yazoo had just watched him, curious, until he went out in search of food. They'd all begged around for an odd job or two during the past few days after Kadaj had decided that luring Cloud to their place was a perfect plan.
Living meant needing to eat. Loz had forgotten that part. They'd had everything, before running under the veil and coming back to the world of the living.
He wondered if the mice were there, in the lifestream, living in Aerith's house and chewing on her curtains.
One little mouse skeleton dangled in the window, swaying a bit every time the door opened and closed.
The girls on their way home from school stopped to peer at it, eyes wide as their gaze shifted from the bones to Loz's smiling face.
One gave him a thumbs-up.
And that was all he needed.
Kadaj just kept feeding the firepot. Something was on his mind. But Loz didn't really understand how Kadaj thought; just that Kadaj always had the best ideas.
Except when it came to decorating.
"Are you guys handing out candy on Veil Night?" one of the girls asked. This was the first time they'd actually said anything. Normally they just waved and peered at Loz's attempts at decorating.
"Candy?" Kadaj asked curiously.
"Get lemondrops and anything sour apple flavoured!" another of the girls piped up. "Those are the best."
"Chocolate," a third girl countered.
Kadaj frowned. He and Loz had cleaned gutters to get enough money to eat for the rest of their stay because Aerith had warned them that if they tried anything that might make her angry...
And he was only willing to risk her wrath when it came to Cloud. Because she was his mother too. She'd understand.
"Caramel squares," the first girl suggested.
"To get you to shut up," the third girl shot back.
Kadaj understood, suddenly, why girls didn't really interest him.
"We'll hand out candy on Veil Night," he said in hopes that they would leave. "But it'll be a surprise."
Brushing his hair out of his eyes, he smiled at them from the stoop.
"Good," the quietest of the bunch said softly. "That'll keep the evil spirits away."
And then they ran on, waving as they went, pigtails bouncing.
Kadaj tossed more wood into the firepot. Cloud would come on Veil Night. Four more days.
Four more days to figure out the feelings inside of him and decide just how he was going to handle... everything.
He could hear Yazoo and Loz inside. Yazoo needed to go rake someone's small lawn and earn a few gil.
"Candy," he muttered as he stood up and headed inside. The basement was getting empty. Yazoo needed to go buy firewood. At least the nights weren't cold enough yet to actually need to heat the entire house. Sleeping in a pile in the only undamaged bed was enough.
Loz was too loud. Yazoo was too loud.
Yazoo wondered why Kadaj continued to entertain the school girls. They were of no consequence and their laughter carried far into the depths of the house even though they stayed politely outside. But Kadaj was always out there, waiting, as if their brother would come early.
If he would come. Already they were on their seventh day. Yazoo had raked leaves and delivered baskets of apples. He had walked a yipping little dog and brushed the tangles from a little girl's hair.
They were getting far too domestic. Children had been Kadaj's weapons. But now... he could hear Kadaj's voice mixed in, full of wonder and growing excitement.
Crossing through the main room to stand at the doorframe where only the screen door kept the resilient fall wasps out, Yazoo stayed hidden to listen.
Perhaps it was for the best. He hadn't liked Kadaj's ideas about preparing for war. He hadn't liked the thought of harming Cloud. They hadn't been expressly forbidden from harming Cloud, but it also hadn't done much good the last time anyway.
Three days left and they were finally figuring out how to live. Yazoo slumped back against the wall and slid downward. He liked it. He liked being alive - truly alive and not driven by something insane inside like they had been before.
Kadaj was laughing about something again. One of the girls squealed and then they all shouted a parting call.
"I know you're there," Kadaj said a moment later. The screen door swung outward and with Kadaj sitting there, Yazoo didn't bother moving.
"Where's your phone?" Yazoo asked quickly. He chuckled while Kadaj fumbled, finally unzipping some part of his clothing.
"Very funny." There wasn't the usual anger behind the words.
"We still need to get you a costume," Yazoo noted. "Did you ask the girls what you should dress up as?"
"No," Kadaj said. "Are we going to dress up and hand out candy?"
"Loz already bought lemondrops and chocolate and caramels," Yazoo replied as he looked up to where the sweets sat in a rusty bucket on the end table that Loz had used to string the mouse skeleton together. The black thread had fallen onto the floor.
Already the house was feeling like a home, despite Kadaj's attempts to burn it all piece by piece.
Things were changing.
Loz thrust up into the heat of Yazoo's body, his hands firm on Yazoo's hips. They'd been busy for a couple of days - he hadn't been able to sate his lust. Not with Kadaj always around. Yazoo had been standing under the uneven pulses of water in the house's rusty bathtub and really, he'd just had to take a leak.
Yazoo had been the one to call to him. Yazoo had reached a hand out and grabbed at other zippers. Yazoo had kissed him and not let him put his cock away.
There was something almost scary about Yazoo when he was hungry. Even if he complained later, it was because he pushed himself so hard.
Now Yazoo was clinging to the edge of the tub, shower forgotten and silver hair hanging in wet clumps over his shoulders. Loz was settled next to the can, wishing for a little more space, considering yanking his pants down a bit more because he hadn't really gotten them down enough to keep the cold teeth of his fly-zipper from biting at parts he normally only let Yazoo nip.
The bathroom door flew open, banging against the plaster wall hard enough that it left a dent.
Yazoo was shaking beneath him, startled. Loz turned and snarled at Kadaj. His younger brother ignored the feral sound and shook his head.
"He's on his way."
And then Kadaj was gone, leaving the door open.
Loz kicked it shut with one foot and reached to pet Yazoo's head. Not that it mattered. Yazoo would be the one to strike back, after all. He would be... and Kadaj would get more than a few seconds of fright.
Revenge, Kadaj knew, was a dish best served cold. He was freezing. Despite the vinyl clinging to his skin, he felt like the breeze was blowing through him.
"It's so cute!" one of the girls squealed. "Your brother picked it out?"
"Yeah," Kadaj mumbled.
"You look good in it," one of the others said. "How old are you? You look like you should be in school with us!"
"Next week," he lied in response. He'd be gone. They'd be gone. Back to the lifestream.
And out of a kitty cat costume made of skintight vinyl and fluffy accessories.
He wasn't even going to admit how Yazoo got him into it.
"Yay!" The girls clapped their hands.
"You'll look very handsome in our uniform," the quiet girl of the bunch said. Kadaj smiled at her. He hoped she meant the boys uniform, which he'd seen a few times on previous days.
Not that he'd be there. No...
"What are you going to be?" Kadaj asked. It seemed like an innocent question.
"I wanna be a catgirl!" one of the girls exclaimed.
"Pompom girl," another added.
"You are a pompom girl," the first girl replied.
"Not this time of the year."
"Faerie princess," another girl said.
Kadaj smiled. The firepot was burning low.
And his... He froze. Yazoo had taken his phone.
But it was okay. Cloud would come. Cloud was coming.
The thought was delicious.
He wondered what his brother would dress as.
He'd left Marlene and Denzel with Tifa, ignoring their requests to stay and dress up as a dragon to go along with witch and wizard. Tifa had only sadly smiled and waved as Cloud had headed off towards Kalm.
Tearing along the open road towards Kalm, Cloud had the worse feeling in the pit of his stomach. But seeing Kalm aglow after years of rebuilding helped settle him. Even on Veil Night, when the rift between the living and the dead was thin.
Not that it wasn't always thin where he was concerned.
"Aerith?" he asked the wind as he parked Fenrir outside of town.
The wind did not respond. He took his sword into the city.
Veil Night in Kalm seemed just like Veil Night in Edge - everyone in costume and running around merrily. He kept walking.
"They'll all be dressed up!"
Cloud looked over to see a group of girls congregating near a closed apple stand.
"We have to wait for Daki," one of them complained. "Then we can go see Kadaj and his brothers."
He froze. And then he circled around once, waiting for their last group member and very slowly heading after them. Not a one of them gave him much of a second glance until they made their way to the last house on a street lit only by firepots and pumpkins.
"My turn!" a princess-girl cried and bounded up to the door to knock. "Better give me treats or I'll lift the veil on you!"
Not quite the version Cloud was used to. But on the last night of the lifting of the veil... He wondered what the trio was doing handing out candy in Kalm.
The screen door opened slowly and three men filed out. Cloud gasped. Yazoo was perfect in a nurse's outfit, Loz was a convincing security officer, and Kadaj was poured into a kitten costume.
"No lifting the veil on us yet," Yazoo said as he surveyed the group. And then he saw Cloud.
Their eyes met. Kadaj looked up. Loz realized what was happening.
The girls all turned to finally see who the addition to their group was.
"Brother," Kadaj stammered. He seemed to be at a loss. Cloud reached for his sword.
"No," Loz ordered. "We're... handing out lemondrops."
"You're Kadaj's big brother?" one of the girls asked Cloud. Her smile was wide and genuine. "You must be the oldest. We come and talk to Kadaj every day after school, but next week... he'll be in school with us."
"He will?" Cloud asked before deciding to play along. "Good for him. I didn't get to finish school."
"Oh," she replied. "What are you supposed to be?"
"He's a hero," one of the other girls said. "Duh. Look at his sword. I bet he rescues princesses."
"Like me." the princess-girl giggled.
"Of course," Yazoo added. "Why don't you ladies come back after you're done begging for candy and we'll give you whatever's left."
"Oooh!" they squealed in unison. And then headed off, waving and blowing kisses until Cloud looked away.
"We're living," Yazoo explained. "We've been here for ten days."
"This is the last day," Loz finished.
"Cloud. Brother." Kadaj descended the few steps to stand in front of Cloud. "I called you here."
"Why? Are you going to kill me?" Cloud was honestly a little confused. He'd never been quite the brightest bulb on the string.
"I thought I was," Kadaj replied as he held out his hands. "But if you're living, then... I'm not going to take it from you. Life is..."
A gaggle of ghouls and devils ran by, interrupting Kadaj for just a moment. Loz stepped down to offer them caramels.
"I understand," Cloud replied. "I think."
"And it's just for the rest of the night."
"Right." Then Cloud thought of something. "How's Aerith?"
"Mother," Loz said fondly. "Now..."
Cloud chuckled. "May I come in? Someone will need to blow out the candles when the veil falls."
All three nodded.
"You live here?" Cloud asked as he stepped inside. Obviously no electricity, and not much had been done with the interior.
"Ten days," Yazoo reminded him, slinking over to lean on him. "Aerith told us everything."
"I want to go to... school with them," Kadaj said softly as he sat down. His cell phone was on the table. "You never called me back."
"Too much static," Cloud replied. He couldn't very well sit with a sword on his back. Loz was looking at him oddly.
He took one.
"Next year," he said after a few moments of thoughtful silence, "come to me."
"Next year," Yazoo echoed.
"I want to see their school," Kadaj added.
"Save my decorations?"
Cloud nodded. He'd always thought it would be nice to have a place in Kalm. Somewhere to get away from Edge that wasn't too far away.
And when the veil fell and his hand suddenly closed onto itself instead of being tangled with Kadaj's fingers, Cloud couldn't find a shred of anger or sadness. Only hope.
He smiled. He wondered what Aerith thought of their costumes.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!