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What You're Afraid Of

Title: What You're Afraid Of
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Cloud/Kadaj
Rating: AA
Summary: Mistakes were nothing new to him. Or Cloud. Yet somehow, he didn't think he was making one.
Notes: 'What You're Afraid Of' is a song by Bis, from their album 'Return to Central'.

(the loss I suffer daily hurts like a housefire and there are no survivors)

Cloud didn't look up when the door opened - he didn't even dart his eyes in the correct direction.

Kadaj frowned.

"Lunch," he called as he tossed a crumpled paper bag towards Cloud, smirking when it landed perfectly on the low coffee table just in front of the blond. The television wasn't on. Kadaj wasn't even sure that it worked, but it was really good for setting things on. Right now there was a teetering pile of three magazines, a screwdriver, an electric clock that wasn't plugged in, a plastic box of something that rattled but no one bothered opening, and quite a bit of utter garbage topped off with an empty convenience store cup.

Cloud hadn't cleaned - he probably hadn't even moved.

Kadaj watched closely as Cloud opened his mouth to say something but words didn't come out. Instead he reached down to grab the bag.

"Tifa says hi," Kadaj continued as he took off his jacket and hung it on one of the nails behind the door.


"I know I'm late, but the motorcycle started leaking something," Kadaj said. He contemplated taking his boots off. No reason to, really, since the floor hadn't been swept in quite awhile. Maybe he could do that. Normally he stayed outside, watching the sky.

He didn't really understand why they were living together, or living under the same roof where there actually was a roof and not just a hole like in the remnants of the kitchen. He didn't want to understand. Maybe Cloud wanted to be his brother. Maybe Cloud felt guilty - maybe Cloud felt empty.

Kadaj was surprised when Cloud actually looked up at him.

"Leaking something?"

Nodding, Kadaj felt himself wanting to smile. He had almost forgotten the sound of Cloud's voice. For awhile, Cloud had been so good. He'd wanted to live and build and dream. And then he hadn't. Something had happened and sometimes, Kadaj was afraid that it had to do with his own awakening.

"Denzel helped me tape it up and it got me back here, but..."

"I'll take a look at it," Cloud interrupted as he got up, abandoning his lunch.

"Eat first," Kadaj said firmly as he stepped in front of the door. He was still smaller than Cloud and without a weapon, not much of a real threat. In the back of his memory, he recalled Yazoo doing the same thing once to him. Eat. Things will wait.

Cloud relented and went back to the paper bag, pulling out a sandwich and small container of some sort of pasta salad.

Kadaj looked down at the floor. Maybe they just didn't have a broom.

He couldn't believe that he was being the practical one.

While Cloud ate, he wandered into the kitchen and began to dig in one of the cabinets. The sink was piled high with dishes and the water didn't work, which meant that the lingering liquid inside had to be from the last rain. If it hadn't been making the tiles come up, Kadaj really wouldn't mind keeping the holes above because the rain was nice as it ran through the room and out the back door.

He thought he should hate the rain, but he didn't. He couldn't bring himself to hate anything, which only made him feel more weird and empty. But Cloud just ached - maybe Cloud had his ache...

Kadaj turned quickly when he heard a crash in the main room. He jumped over a couple of crates and landed just beside Cloud, who was digging for tools.

"You ate?"

Cloud pointed at the empty containers on the coffee table.

"There are some hoses in the shed," Cloud said. "Should be an easy fix."

A pause.

"You want to learn?"

"Sure." At some point, Kadaj knew he needed some reasonable life skills beyond the shadowy memories that he'd held onto. He hadn't planned on mechanics - that had been Loz's domain, but Kadaj did like that Cloud was inviting him. Normally, Cloud just said something and then waited a minute before going off to do it. But he'd asked - Cloud had asked.

He followed Cloud silently out to the shed, forgetting that he probably should have offered to carry something. The patch that Denzel had made had already failed and liquid trickled down from the engine to pool on the hard-packed dirt floor of the shed.

Cloud knelt and touched the engine, making sure it was cool enough to work on. Pulling back, he shook his head.

"Not yet," he said. "Needs more time."

And with that, he sat down against the wall and gestured for Kadaj to sit with him.

"I didn't intend for it to break," Kadaj said softly after a minute. He thought it would be appropriate to apologize in some way, if only because he knew how meticulously Cloud had once cared for his motorcycle.


"I followed every proper operating procedure," Kadaj rephrased. He narrowed his eyes without meaning to.

"I know," Cloud said. There was another moment of silence. "Silly."

Kadaj blinked, a little too stunned to reply. That was likely the last thing he'd expected from the blond.

"Not your fault about the holes in the kitchen ceiling or the light being burnt out in the bedroom or all that junk," Cloud continued. "I wasn't taking care of things. Some things need to be taken care of."

Nodding, Kadaj was fairly sure he needed to say something. But he just didn't know what to say.

"Like you - and Tifa and everyone else - take care of me," Cloud said. "You could have killed me at any time."

"Thought about it," Kadaj admitted. "But what good would it do? Then I'd have to step over you twice as often, and you'd smell... worse."

Cloud chuckled and reached over for Kadaj's hand, taking it in his own.

"We're really bad at this, aren't we?" he asked.

"At what?"

"Living," Cloud answered. "The house is a wreck, the yard hasn't been mowed... ever, and we - we are..."

"Okay," Kadaj interjected. It seemed like the right word. He knew why people held hands and he had once suspected that Cloud saw him in multiple ways, but he hadn't ever really thought anything would happen.

He was surprised to be kissed, softly and chastely and quickly enough that it took a few seconds to realize what Cloud had done.

"I can fix the water if you'll do the dishes," Cloud said as he looked back towards the motorcycle. "And we can both fix the roof. You'll need a broom. I'll need lightbulbs. We'll both have to go into town."

"Yeah," Kadaj said as he shifted to straddle Cloud's legs and hold him back against the wall, not letting go of Cloud's hand in the process. "Once the bike cools down and we can fix it. But until then..."

Mistakes were nothing new to him. Or Cloud. Yet somehow, he didn't think he was making one.


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