Character(s): Tayuya and Kidoumaru
Prompt: atonement, burning
Author’s Note: For monoshiri. In which I kind of fail at the prompt, but hell, at least it’s about the right characters. That’s something, right? Anyway, A/U and spoilers for manga chapters that came out about two years ago.
Word Count: ~1,200
“Fuckity fuck fuck fuck fuck!”
It had taken something less than three days of living as civilians for Kidoumaru to conclude they made terrible civilians. Their training in espionage, being zero, was not really up to the task of blending them in with a non-shinobi populace, and although they might have been able to use genjutsu to cover up the most glaring errors in their disguises (like, say, Kidoumaru’s extra arms, or the fact that no one as pale and red-haired as Tayuya or as dark as Kidoumaru could be anything but foreign this far west), there was only so much illusions could do. Even normal people were bound to notice fairly soon that Tayuya had about as much training in being a woman as she had in being a spy, or at least that their faked accents were terrible. Then there was the more minor stuff, like how Kidoumaru did all the shopping for fabrics and food when the gender-divide for duties here was really obvious, or how they always sat with their backs to walls and facing all the possible entrances to a room, or how… well, there were one-thousand and one things that pointed to them being outsiders (which they might have gotten away with) or shinobi (which they wouldn’t).
They probably could have picked a better town, one that had more bustling trade and therefore didn’t mind strangers (militantly-minded or no) so much, but their training in scouting had been about as thorough as their training in espionage, and their one goal had been to get out of the way, after everything. They had succeeded at that, eventually, at least after finding a retired medic-nin who could be persuaded to both help and keep quiet about it with prodigious amounts of ill-gotten money, and even with her assistance it had taken months with how fucked-up they both were. They’d had to kill the medic-nin, of course, because if she was so cheap as to be bribable then someone could easily come around with more cash and then they’d be screwed, and at least this way they got their money back. It was around then that they’d made it out to the middle of nowhere (aka the center of Tea Country), but then the aforementioned three days had passed and Kidoumaru knew that their plan A was a bust. So plan B it was.
Tayuya glared at him balefully from over the fire, sucking hard at where she’d burned her fingers trying to grab at the unprotected lower half of the tea-kettle handle. “Kumogakure? Really? You can’t think of anywhere better to defect to?”
Kidoumaru shrugged. “They’re not particularly friendly with Konohagakure so they won’t care about our part in the invasion three years ago, and since Otogakure never initiated hostilities with Kumogakure, they won’t resent us for that, either. Since Otogakure has been officially dissolved ever since Uchiha stabbed Orochimaru-sama while he was dying in his bed, we are neither traitors nor have divided loyalties, so us showing up won’t look too weird. Most importantly,” he continued when Tayuya failed to look convinced, “it’s my ancestral home, and I’m the last of my bloodline. That alone will have them jumping for us to join their shinobi corps.”
At that, Tayuya actually raised an eyebrow. “How the fuck do you know that?”
“Orochimaru gloated about it when he first drafted me from that shithole he found me in. Anyway, I have a rare bloodline limit and you’re no slouch, so they shouldn’t mind when I say that my sticking around is contingent on your acceptance into the Kumo-shinobi ranks. We should be set.”
At that, Tayuya finally removed the burnt pads of her fingertips from her mouth. “Sounds… tolerable, I guess. Better than where we just left.” Irritation made her scowl. “Why the hell did we try and disappear anyway? We already knew we’re awful at being normal.”
At that, Kidoumaru glanced away, looking depressed and angry that he was depressed. It was an expression Tayuya knew pretty well; fuck, it was on her face more often than on his. “I don’t… know about you Tayuya, but after seeing Jiroubou, Sakon, Ukon, and hell, even Kimimaro bite it trying to protect an ungrateful little shit, it was hard to care much about guiding along the precious Uchiha to greatness. When Orochimaru-sama died, there pretty much went my last motivation for trying to do… anything. It all felt kind of pointless, you know? And everyone always talked about how easy civilians had it. I guess I wanted it easy for a while. I never thought it would be worse than the alternative.”
At that, Tayuya rolled her eyes. “Oh for fuck’s sake, Kidoumaru, I could have told you from the beginning that being a civilian would be a mistake.”
Even though he didn’t look directly at her, Kidoumaru still managed to look annoyed through his eyelashes. “Then why’d you go along with it?”
Tayuya shrugged and reached again for the tea-kettle, this time grabbing the handle correctly and pouring herself a cup. Never let it be said that she didn’t learn, even if it sometimes seemed like everyone else in the universe repeated the same dumb shit over and over. “Well, here’s how I figured it: We’ve been through a lot of crap in our lives, been fucked-up near constantly, and none of it was because of our own decisions. It was because we were too young to do anything about it, or too scared, or too loyal, or whatever. Whatever we did was because other people wanted us to, and the two of us got through that alive by the skin of our teeth. Everyone else we gave a shit about didn’t even manage that much. So this time, I thought we’d mess up on our own terms, see how that felt.”
Kidoumaru snorted and slid his own teacup towards Tayuya. She might have just thrown the tea-kettle at him once upon a time, but quite frankly having mile-high walls between herself and Kidoumaru felt retarded these days. It maybe revealed some weakness that she poured him some tea without anything more than a mild glare, but hell, who was around to care?
“So what?” Tayuya replied, sliding the teacup back towards Kidoumaru.
“How’d it feel when we fucked-up without someone else telling us to do it?”
Tayuya considered this. “I’d say… it felt like we’d finally gotten to own ourselves.”
Kidoumaru’s eyes widened. Tayuya didn’t blame him. They were both still pretty shitty as the being-honest-with-each-other thing. He covered it well, though, considering he didn’t really know how, sipping at his tea like there were delicate nuances to be tasted instead of just old leaves and grinning crookedly in a way that didn’t reach his eyes. “We should try and get a refund. We kind of came out of the box broken.”
As she’d said: pretty shitty. But… they were getting better. “Kidoumaru?”
“That doesn’t mean we aren’t worth fixing.” If she silently mouthed you moron at him afterwards, she knew he wouldn’t take it personally. After all, they were getting better. That didn’t mean they were up to all that soppy shit yet.
Series: Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy: Advent Children
Character(s): Riku and Kadaj
Prompt: living your life in the hero’s shadow
Author’s Note: For chibirisuchan. A really late birthday present (which is why she gets
Word Count: ~1,700
Riku was doing his absolute best (which was pretty damn good under most circumstances) to navigate his way through the wonderful new world of alcohol consumption, and for once the voice in his head was being more helpful than otherwise. Ask for a banana daiquiri.
Riku did, though he remained skeptical as to Ansem’s suggestion. Why?
You do not drink, and in most alcoholic beverages the taste can be off-putting if you are not accustomed to it. Daiquiris compensate for this with sugar and fruit, and you like bananas. There was a pause as if Ansem was trying to remember something. Then- You stupid child.
Yeah. There it was. Riku made a face out of habit, though after two years of having Ansem hang around his various consciousnesses (even if he had gotten rid of Ansem’s “influence,” he hadn’t gotten rid of Ansem proper, no matter what he’d implied otherwise), he was rather used to the Heartless’s insults. Not to say he wasn’t also tired of them, but often as not Ansem seemed tired of them too, so they didn’t fly as fast and as furious a tenth as often as they had before, so it wasn’t that bad.
He still never intended to tell Kairi about it. She’d worry. Or Sora, because Sora would-
Riku made another face and sipped cautiously at the daiquiri. It was actually pretty good, though he could still taste the underlying bitterness of the alcohol. Sora was… not good at dealing with stuff being complicated. Explaining to him how not necessary it was to remove Ansem would take forever if Sora ever understood at all. And how could he? Riku could hardly understand it himself, as mixed up as it was with his darkness and his power and… and Sora himself, he guessed. How even after their reconciliation last year, Riku still couldn’t completely erase his resentment at Sora’s uniqueness, at his easy ability to make friends. With Ansem, Riku was sure unique, and if the Heartless wasn’t a friend, well, at least he was never alone, which was nice. How could Riku possibly tell Sora that the continuation of their friendship at least partially hinged on the presence of Xehanort’s Heartless?
Riku took another sip of the daiquiri. He couldn’t, that was what. So he didn’t tell, and now Sora was off again, playing hero, and even if Riku had been invited, the fact that he’d needed to be asked along by Sora, like an afterthought, had rankled enough that Riku had smiled easily and waved his oldest friend off. “I’ll be fine here. Radiant Garden needs more help with the rebuilding than you do fighting off the latest threat in Agrabah.”
Sora had looked concerned. “You sure?”
“Yeah. You have fun. I’ll be here when you get back.”
So Sora had left. Kairi hadn’t gone with him either, but that’s because she honestly did want to help with the rebuilding efforts, which was probably why Sora hadn’t put up much of a fuss. He thought Riku and Kairi would be together, except Kairi thought Riku was with Sora. When Sora got back, that might be a problem, but for now Riku had whole days stretched out before him where no one would be looking for him, where he could be alone with the voice in his head and no one would be concerned.
So of course he’d gone to a bar, and sure, it wasn’t all that dramatic, but at least it meant he wasn’t tagging along after Sora.
Ansem made a mental humming noise as Riku carefully swallowed about a third of his glass. Mm…
Knew you only suggested it because you like them, bastard, Riku thought without any true rancor. At least here his tastes ran parallel to Ansem’s… or maybe it was Xehanort. How many opportunities would a Heartless have to drink, anyway?
Someone dropping heavily onto the stool to his left drew Riku out of his introspection. He glanced without any true interest at whoever had interrupted his calm, only to do a double-take at the sight of what appeared to be his clone. This theory was lent credence by the new arrival mirroring Riku’s astonishment, his eerily similar green eyes widening in an almost comical reflection of Riku’s own surprise.
Almost. The likeness was too disturbing for Riku to truly find any humor in it. Riku had been adopted back on Destiny Island without any knowledge of his true heritage, and the only person he’d ever heard of with his coloring was a fellow named Sephiroth that Sora had mentioned in passing. But even then Sora had only noted the skin tone and hair and eye color, not a resemblance that made Riku wonder for a mad moment if they’d been separated at birth.
The newcomer’s voice when he deigned to speak at least was a higher register than his own, making some of the hairs on the back of Riku’s neck lay back down. “Are you a brother?”
Riku blinked. A brother? “Do you have others?”
The newcomer made an expansive gesture, which had the unexpected side benefit of summoning the bartender. “A number. My mother was… prolific. I’ll have whatever he’s having,” that last was addressed to the bartender. Then the seeming clone turned back to Riku, his eyes bright and his smile radiant in a way that was a bit unsettling in their intensity. “Only a few worth talking about, of course, as the others died during the initial Heartless invasion. My eldest brother is a madman, my second eldest is a bastard and disowned us years ago, Yazoo is three blocks down stocking up on instant coffee for the house, and I think Loz got sidetracked at the gummy-shipyards talking about weapon upgrades with one of the mechanics. He does that.”
Riku blinked ago. Then he finished off the last of his daiquiri just in time for the bartender to come by with the new guy’s. “I’ll have what he’s having.” The bartender gave him a disgusted look, but begrudgingly started cutting up bananas. Riku ignored the bartender’s disgruntlement and swiveled his stool to face… er… “That’s… oddly specific. Mind telling me your name?”
“Kadaj.” Kadaj, so named, ran his tongue along the rim of his daiquiri. He smiled again, his odd fervor once more taking Riku off guard. “Tasty! And you?”
“Riku. Do you normally tell your family history to people you meet in bars?”
Kadaj shook his head and stuck his tongue a little further into his glass. “No, but then I’ve never been in a bar without Yazoo and Loz before and I’m pretty sure you’re family anyway, so that’s alright.”
Riku grinned despite himself. Having no family history to speak of, suddenly getting stuck with one—whether it was actually his or not—was strangely comforting. “I’ve never been to a bar before period, but I’ve been around Radiant Garden for a while now. Can’t say I’ve seen you around.”
Kadaj shrugged and downed the daiquiri, making a face that Riku knew meant he’d gotten a brain freeze. “Ouch… yeah, we’re from here, kind of. Had to get out when the Heartless came twelve years ago, though, and we just came back. I don’t remember much of this place, but Loz and Yazoo told me a lot about it, though they don’t remember much more than me.” He made a thoughtful face as he examined the bottom of his glass. “I’ll bring you home after the bar closes and introduce you. Since Sephiroth is off being a crazy vagrant and Cloud won’t admit to being related to us, Loz and Yazoo will be pleased that someone else was young enough to be sent away when Radiant Garden was attacked.”
Riku choked on his new banana daiquiri. Sephiroth, yeah, he’d heard of him, sort of, but… “You’re related to Cloud?!”
“Half-brother,” Kadaj said glumly. “He and Sephiroth had a falling out right before the Heartless invasion and now he won’t talk to us.” Kadaj sniffed, looking unhappy. “He’s a real jerk about it too. Doesn’t help that he hated mother, and now he’s considered one of the great heroes of Radiant Garden since apparently he helped take it back last year and the year before. And he still won’t admit to be related to us, since that would be admitting he’s related to Sephiroth and mother too. No one even believed us when we arrived and said we were the younger brothers of Cloud Strife, except apparently the guy running the gummy-shipyards recognized Loz from twelve years ago and backed us up. I hate him.” And with that, Kadaj gestured for another daiquiri. The bartender looked dubiously at his shrinking pile of bananas but got out the knife again regardless.
Riku, for his part, gave Kadaj a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. It actually explained a lot, like why Cloud refused to talk to him whenever he came visiting with Sora and Kairi to Aerith’s house. “Sounds pretty bad.”
Kadaj clasped Riku’s hand under his own, his grip almost unnervingly strong, though not as much as the brightness in his eyes. “Glad I’ve got a new brother. You seem much nicer than Cloud ever was, even before he disowned us. You’ll like Yazoo and Loz too… well, Loz, at least. Yazoo doesn’t talk much.”
Riku smiled back. He didn’t mention the unlikelihood of their relation—he’d been left on the orphanage’s doorstep when he was only a year old, more than four years before the Heartless invasion of Radiant Garden, and the likelihood of him ending up at the Destiny Islands was even more laughable. He didn’t want to mention it. Kadaj was, to say the least, weird, but having five brothers (even if one was seemingly crazy and another estranged), might give him the distance from Sora he needed to keep from resenting his friend, if he had other people to relate to.
Ansem, who had stayed silent during Riku’s exchange with Kadaj, chose then to cut in with You just want something that will make you stand out. Sora has no siblings to speak of, does he?
As Riku clinked his glass together with Kadaj’s to celebrate their newfound fraternity, he mentally shut the door in Ansem’s face. “I think I could grow to like instant coffee.”
Kadaj just snorted in return. “You shouldn’t. It’s terrible. Yazoo just buys it because he’s cheap.”
Series: Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy VII
Character(s): Axel and Reno
Prompt: meeting the partner
Author’s Note: For chibirisuchan. A really late birthday present (which is why she gets
Word Count: ~400
Reno stared up at the man who was supposed to be his new partner. “Kind of
short, aren’t you?”
The rookie’s hands twitched on his keyblades. “Kind of skinny, aren’t you?”
Axel glared. He was sensitive about his weight. He had not idea how the kid knew. Xigbar had probably told him, the fucker. “Well you can just
listen to me. I’ve been at this job a long time, and I know the ins and outs of Shinra like nobodies’ business. You just stick close and follow my lead, and you might make it past your first mission. I don’t care what backwards town they got you from, you won’t last five minutes in Midgar if you try and do your own thing.”
Rude’s mouth twitched at the corner, though he otherwise remained impassive. “I’ll keep that in mind, partner,
just stay out of my way.” And with that, the rookie stomped right on past Axel into a darkness rift. Axel watched him, his mouth hanging a little bit open. What a little shit. He’d been at this job for three years, and this kid bordered on Larxene for sure rudeness.
Normally Axel wouldn’t have taken it, orders from the Superior to keep the new guy in one piece or no, but even ignoring the keyblades, weird enough as they were, there was something oddly compelling
about his new accomplice, even if he was way too tall. Reno grinned and stuck out his hand. “I have a feeling this is the beginning
of a completely shitty week. Axel groaned. What in heart’s name had he done to deserve this? Whatever it was, it must have been
pretty damned good. He’d half expected Tseng to stick him with a corporate type, but Rude seemed alright. Even offered to buy him a drink after they got off work. Reno stuck his hands in his pockets and whistled his way back to his office in just the right key to unnerve the secretary who’d gotten his coffee wrong that morning. Yep, things were looking up. It helped that Rude was totally
hot, but not all that much. Axel ground his teeth together as he contemplated the short addition to the Organization. He could only hope that
things would get even better tomorrow. They probably even get to blow something up! And to think that just this morning Reno’d been dreading
meeting his new asshole of a partner.
Series: Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy VII
Character(s): Axel and Reno
Prompt: warning labels
Author’s Note: For chibirisuchan. A really late birthday present (which is why she gets
Word Count: ~1,100
“‘Flammable. Keep out of reach of children’,” Reno recited carefully, squinting in the poor light at the label on the side of the container. Then he grinned. “Good thing I can’t read.” The thirteen-year-old had managed to get a hold of a quart of lighter fluid by stealing some cash from a wino and telling the guy at the general store that he was buying it for a cookout at his foster family’s place. The fact that he’d ditched out on foster care a week before apparently hadn’t traveled down the grapevine yet, thank Bahamut for his former ‘family’s’ disinterest.
Either way, he had lighter fluid, and more importantly he had the location to the hangout of that jackass who had beaten him up yesterday and stolen his money. Hence needing the wino’s gil to make this plan work in the first place.
The hangout wasn’t much, just a locked door (easily picked), some cheap walls, a mostly functioning roof, and some shitty furniture, though Reno wouldn’t have minded it for himself if he hadn’t known it was already occupied. He hadn’t been so hurt yesterday that he couldn’t follow the jackass and his friends home, and so here he was, ready to light this place up like Christmas above plate.
It wasn’t until he’d sprinkled the last of the lighter fluid over the couch and was riffling through his pockets that he realized he didn’t have any matches. Which was bullshit, because he’d totally had some yesterday, which means either they’d fallen out during the beating or the asshole had stolen those too. Not that it mattered which, because he had like five minutes before the asshole got back from his usual job as a bouncer and that was not enough time to go back to the general store, and wasn’t this plan just shot to Hades?
Apparently not shot enough, because it was then that Reno heard a voice in the doorway say, “What in Ifrit’s name do you think you’re doing?”
Reno’s first instinct was to jump behind the couch for cover, but that would just put him further from the door. Instead, he turned, as casually as he could (which was pretty casual, Reno could say from prior experience), and smirked. “What does it look like I’m doing?”
It was a guy, though not one of the ones Reno had seen hanging with the asshole yesterday, thank Bahamut. Tall, taller than Reno was ever likely to get (damn it), with hair the color Reno wished he had and tattoos Reno wanted to say made the guy look like a clown but in reality just made Reno want to scowl in envy. The fact that the guy was dressed like someone who regularly went diving through garbage bins (even if he didn’t smell like it) didn’t detract from the fact that Reno hated him immediately and forever.
The guy didn’t seem to share the same sentiment (not that Reno expected him to); in fact he mostly ignored Reno in favor of squatting down and dipping one finger in the puddle of lighter fluid closest to the door. Then he sniffed. “Is this lighter fluid?”
Reno shrugged. “So what if it is?” He calculated his chances to get past the guy (shitty), so just continued standing there, his thumbs hooked in his jeans’ belt loops and ready to make a break for it while trying to make it seem like he wasn’t.
The guy’s reaction didn’t turn out to be exactly what Reno had been expecting. The widening, slightly deranged smile that showed far too much teeth was in fact enough to make Reno take a step back and glance around for something to use as a weapon. “Great! I knew I’d forgotten something.” And then the guy’s left hand started to blaze.
Reno had one panicked second to think materia before the guy pointed leisurely at the biggest puddle of lighter fluid in the room, the one near the back at the foot of a wooden folding chair, and said, “Fire.”
Fortunately for Reno, his body reacted faster than his head did, which was why he was already sliding under the guy who was shooting fire and was halfway out the door before the flame had even made it a third around the room.
The guy wasn’t far behind him, and though they were both short of breath by the time they stopped running three blocks later, for the guy it was mostly because he kept on gasping out laughter. “Oh Ifrit, that was beautiful.” He clasped his right hand on his left forearm tightly. “I love this thing, I really do.”
Reno didn’t keep on going after the guy stopped, even though he really should have. “That where you kept your materia?”
“Damn right.” And then there was that smile again, the one that made the guy look like he’d been bitten by something nasty and the effects were just starting to show. “Don’t even think about trying to steal it, though. I went through a lot of shit to get this thing, and I won’t let some punkass kid take it when I’m not looking.”
Reno couldn’t help but puff up a bit at that. Like some jerk like this guy had any right to call him a punkass, and he wasn’t that much younger, anyway. “It’s Reno, and I wouldn’t steal your shitty materia if you asked me to, guy. If I wanted a Fire materia, I’d go rip off the Materia Shop in Sector 7 and get a mastered Fire, not the lame basic you have.”
“Would you now?” The guy’s eyes slid halfway down as if he had just lost interest in the conversation. “Whatever. The shithead’s hideout is now ashes and I’m pretty sure that’s what we both wanted.”
Reno shrugged, doing a pretty good job (he thought) of emulating the guy’s nonchalance. “Yeah, I guess.” He turned to go.
Reno turned. “Yeah?”
“It’s Axel, not ‘guy.’ Got it memorized? You’d better, ‘cause you’re going to hear it again some day.”
Reno snorted. “Sure, whatever you say, guy.”
Axel grinned yet again, still looking rabid. Despite himself, Reno was beginning to admire that grin, if only for the sheer balls one had to have to wear it below plate armed with nothing better than a basic Fire spell. “Damn right.”
If Reno was mirroring the grin—looking less fearsome but no less deranged—as he shifted his gaze to watch the smoke from the fire they’d set wind up coil around the plate, Axel didn’t say anything about it before walking away, soon turning down a nearby alley and disappearing into its shadows. Reno didn’t really notice him leaving, too captivated by the rising flames to recognize that he was now alone.