Kadaj: Days. How many days? Nights, as well. Too many to count, he was sure, and so he pushed all thoughts of the time passing from his mind and concentrated on the here and now. Finally, after all of this time of sitting alone on the beach, he had come to his conclusions. The thoughts had flitted through his mind, difficult to grasp onto and difficult to see, finding their meanings nearly impossible. But he had done it, finally. His melancholy and apathy had turned into anger slowly but surely as things began to resolve themselves within his mind.
And with the anger came the almost overwhelming need for action. It was overpowering, demanding, and his body ached for him to move and do something.
And, so, with black clouds hovering above the ocean within the distance, the occasional flash of lightning and crack of thunder rolling up to the shore, bringing with it a chill wind that brought goose bumps up along his arms, Kadaj took up his double bladed katana and moved away from his motorcycle. Down, toward the water’s edge, feet dipping into the surf, splashing along, the liquid almost freezing in the cold night, he practiced. How long had it been? Weeks? Since he had taken up his blade and put his muscles to use, but now he would make up for it.
Make up for it and burn away the anger, try to block out his thoughts, otherwise it would wear him down, consume him. When had he drifted? When had he become what he was? Why did he allow it? Why had he changed so drastically, so easily? They were all questions he was currently incapable of answering, and yet that anger was still palpable, still lingering.
No contact. No contact from the one that had once claimed he was a trusted friend. No attempt to seek him out, no invitation to speak, nothing. Silence. Abandonment? The possibilities ran through his mind, one after the other, a new one forming with each swing of Souba.
Who had walked away? He thought he had, and he had hinted at making contact, but that hint had been unseen or unheeded- which was not something he wanted to speculate on.
Swinging Souba, he moved within the lapping froth of the ocean’s edge, oblivious to what was around him, quickening the pace of his heart and the speed of his breath, even as he felt a soft sting at the corners of his eyes.
Vincent: The thoughts were too many and too rapid for him to try and pin point one as a means of focus or even an attempt at understanding. A blur of noise and images just another blessed gift given to him by his hellish benefactor who took the order to end his life to mean an obliteration of his humanity and not necessarily just his heart beat. Though that was ceased as well. Vague glimpses of a past that never was and a future that would never be, a child he had been granted but a son he would never have. A love never ending, her face still unchangingly beautiful in his mind that he couldn’t imagine ever wanting to have begun a family with anyone other than her. And yet...he had, against his knowledge and will, but still it was there. A betrayal to his loyalty to her, were she alive he would have no words to explain himself.
It’s not like you banged another woman, Valentine. Though you were asleep so... It didn’t matter, he might as well have seduced and bed the woman that gave birth to his son. To Cloud.
A quiet growl falling from his lips as he blinked away the salted air shifting off of the water mere feet away from where he feet sunk within the sands. Leather covering his right hand rubbing almost roughly against the corners of his reddened eyes as a dull sting formed and was just as quickly shoved aside. He was beyond that point, there were no longer tears for him to shed, regardless of how easily he was reminded of his failures, his sins, his torture and the redemption that would never be.
Cerberus weight on one side of him, his beloved pistol from a battle prior, Death Penalty, at the other. His friends, companions, loyal and true to him no matter what he desired from them. At times he could have sworn he heard them calling to him, hushed voices that pleaded for him to wrap his fingers around their weighted handles and caress the triggers of either weapon as a lover may trail the pad of their index finger across a woman’s lips. A last kiss. But the voices always belonged to Chaos or Galian and they were getting clever in their torment.
Didn’t know you felt that way about us, Valentine. We’re touched...really...
He ignored the snark underlying within the seemingly harmless words.
Once more his gloved hand rubbed up against his eyes, no one was around; what was the harm, as he stepped along the beach until he found himself glancing up at the flickering lightening in the distance and the imposing storm that threatened to encompass the shore. But it wasn’t lightening that he saw ahead of him, a shimmering silver that caught glimmers of the distant flashing as it moved by will of the young man wielding it. Kadaj. Vincent wasn’t surprised to find him at this particular part of the beaches that surrounded Midgar’s continent; were he running away from something, he would have come here too.
Steadily he stepped and ignored the slight way his heavy boots sunk within the sand, twenty feet between them and then ten before he ceased his progress and let his fingertips dance along the carved surface of his beloved weapon. Cerberus nearly purred beneath his touch.
“Are you as agile as I remember, Kadaj...” The weapon was pulled free from the holster, glimmering steel catching the distant flashes just as the younger males katana had moments prior. “...without anything to aide you.” A significant click sounded, the hammer cocking back as he aimed the gun with perfect precision and ignored the heavy weight that suffocated the facade of breath from his chest.
Kadaj: The night was deep, almost pitch, as the cloud cover overhead loomed, almost like a giant hand covering the land and blocking out all light. That was no matter, though, as he did not need his sight to wield his blade against an opponent that did not exist anywhere but within his own mind. The sounds of his own bare feet slapping within the waves and atop the wet sand, his breath rasping softly past his lips, the wind blowing, sowing softly through the short grasses around him as the water broke on the shore.
I was pushing... Pushing you away, but you wouldn’t let me.
He swung Souba, the blade flashing silver in the jagged arcs of lightning, flashing and dazzling his eyes slightly as he moved and turned within the surf. His muscles flexed, almost aching, and his silver hair whipped around his face, slapping, stinging slightly on his cheeks. It was almost a dance- hadn’t dancing been a lesson from Cloud?- his feet following a predefined path as his left hand lead with his weapon, turning, spinning on his heel, lashing out and sweeping with the blade.
I was pushing, trying to keep you distant from me, but you ignored me, you invaded my space but I couldn’t resist.
The multitude of thoughts continued within his mind, dozens of them flitting through, but only few coherent enough for him to latch onto and examine. It was almost like they teased, just on the peripheral, mocking him. Was it really meant to be so confusing, so hard to hold onto? That seemed to be the way of this world, now, and he was losing his hope of finding something simple to occupy himself with. There was only so long that he could keep up the energy to seek out, only so long that he could continue to desperately grasp onto something that was not his to have.
Hope is the pursuit of the idle.
A sudden voice caught his attention though, and instantly he had turned toward it, green cat like eyes seeking out the one who had spoken. A short distance, having crept up on him as he practiced, apparently silent and blending within the shadows, was a cloaked figure. He stood watching, unmoving, startled momentarily and frozen to the spot. The voice, the face he could see within the darkness, both held a familiarity he could not immediately place. Then, he saw a weapon raised, heard the clicking of a hammer, the voice now only distant to him as the shot was fired.
It was instinct, more than anything else, the set him into action, his left arm moving, gripping tightly at Souba’s hilt as he raised the weapon, giving his wrist a light flick to turn the flat of the blades toward the other man. A sharp clang, the sword bucking within his grasp, sending a small jolt up his arm, and the bullet was deflected into the distance to land harmlessly within the water.
Vincent: Vincent shifted to the side almost instantaneously as he took an almost absentminded note of his first firing of his weapon having been deflected off into the lapping waves, roaring water that was growing just as fierce as the darkening sky. Lightening flickering and flashing, arcing across the blackened sky and giving light to the shimmering metal and red of his eyes. The thunder followed shortly after as the wind billowed back the fabric of his cloak and Cerberus answered it in kind with a succession of barks that cast brief shadows across his features with the flash from the barrel.
You make it sound like you want this.
Clouds voice in his mind caused his eyes to snap shut and just as quickly reopen to the spar at hand, another caress of the trigger that had him bounding across the beaches soft surface. Backwards he moved, the tips of his boots kicking up sand, clawed fingertips within the malleable ground in a crouch before he straightened and let Cerberus call out again.
You make it sound like you don’t.
Kadaj in front of him, Vincent’s eyes narrowed and flashed a dangerous shade of red that was more directed inwardly than anywhere else. How long had he been walking, letting it fume within him like some acidic plague eating away at him? Days now? Weeks? Was it clear at all? Did he understand any of it in the time he tried to pull apart the pieces just so he could put them back together again? No...but for perhaps the first time since encountering Natas, Vincent almost felt ...
The battle before him. The spar. The flash of steel lit aflame with the bark of Cerberus calling out a challenge to the lightning and thunder that began to rage closer to their location. Stoic and silent, Vincent’s features twisted slightly as his lips parted and he yelled out into the storm with his weapon raised up towards the younger male in the midst of their spar. A sound that was foreign, haunting and it had him moving faster across the short bladed grass and soft sands towards the crashing waves before falling off into silence as it was over come with the thunder beckoning Cerberus to answer it.
Kadaj: Having sent that first bullet off into the distance, Kadaj stood and gazed at the other man. The cape that flared a little in the breeze, the long dark hair, the golden claw he could make out in the flashes of lightening, all of it reminding him of a time ago. Four months? That he could recall, the time between that first meeting and this one here on the beach, both times he had been walked in on without warning, both times startled from his reverie. This time, though, there was nothing with which he could injure himself. Except, of course, a failure to dodge the bullets.
Who are you?
My name is Vincent.
The sounds of more shots reverberating across the length of the beach pulled him from his thoughts, and once more Souba was raised, the shining steel singing out as each bullet rebounded off the blades with a loud ping and a spark. Moving into action, Kadaj began to circle around as Vincent moved, not yet attempting to move in for attack. He was on the defensive, unwilling yet to move closer to the massive gun that was pointed in his direction. He would wait, bide his time, look for an opening. Until then....
Last time we met it was under different circumstances... I trust this time things have varied?
Another shot, the sound vying with the thunder for dominance, and Kadaj lifted up his weapon, sending the bullet away from him harmlessly, the jerk of the sword in his hand sending a light jolt up his arm. It was after the other man came to a stop, the sound of a scream leaving his lips, that Kadaj paused merely to watch him. This man had been so calm, collected, at their first meeting, and now.... Something was off. But was that any surprise, truly, to him? The world seemed ‘off.’ The last shot sounded, and all he required was a slight flinch. He felt the bullet whiz past his arm, and he glanced down toward that limb- his left, his dominant arm, the one he lead with in any endeavour- and merely watched it as if mesmerised. Such a dangerous game they played.
Last time we met, I was different. I am no longer who I once was.
Vincent: Cerberus silenced, the wind taking up its howling into the ever darkening sky and air that seemed to hum with the foreboding storm that whipped up the waters near to them almost violently. Vincent did nothing when droplets of either rain or sea fell on his cheeks, shifting down the curve of his jaw line and soaking into the heavy red fabric billowing out around him. The massive weapon held within his hand, levelled at the young man who he had approached without request and begun their spar. Their dance.
"You intend to live your life in constant suffering as repentance for your sins?"
A stride forward and Vincent found himself raising Cerberus with a shift of his wrist and a tightened hold on the hilt of his weapon, metal sparking against metal he formally introduced his beast to the sleek blade of the younger male. Provoking the other into attacking, into doing something other than deflecting every shot that he made; wanting to intensify this tango they were partaking within into something…more.
"That is not a life you wish to live."
How many more times could he betray and fail her? How many more times would her memories prove to be just another source of torment instead of the blissful interlude of his existence where he felt alive, for once. How much time had to pass before she would forgive him for all that he had done and yet not done. A love never ending but he could never have everything that he wanted, it had always been just outside his reach and even further now that she rested peacefully and he was damned to live within a nightmare without her.
“I am culpable for my actions. I will face those consequences when they come- I’m no coward.”
Thrice more Cerberus brought himself to meet the edges of Kadaj’s blade, sparks resonating and sending flickering light across both their features in the wake of the distant lightning; that wasn’t so distant anymore. Vincent’s eyes narrowed, a flame within igniting the crimson glow that only seemed intensified by the fervour of their movements together.
Who is the coward now, Valentine?
Kadaj: The wind whipping around him, the cold air chilling, his silver hair flipping and flapping within the breeze, followed by the sudden feel of water droplets landing against his skin, and the thunder above having come closer, all of it added onto his feeling of slight foreboding, though he could not identify where it had come from or why. It seemed now that this entire stretch of beach were something else entirely from what he had seen within the light of day- something darker, almost menacing.
“I want to live my life, but that doesn’t mean discarding the past, does it?”
He blinked rapidly when Vincent suddenly approached, taken off guard as the gun was raised like a sword, momentarily unable to take a step backward while the two weapons clashed together, the clang of metal on metal sounding out briefly above the storm around them. He stood, unmoving, to defend against the attacks, his right hand raising up and his palm facing toward the other man as if to ward him off, his hand tightening on Souba until his knuckles turned white.
Was he frightened?
“Then why are you hiding out alone in the middle of the night...”
Holding off the next three attacks, raising his sword higher each time to meet against the gun being swung at him, Kadaj slowly edged sideways, trying surreptitiously to move away, his feet almost dragging in the wet sand, his toes almost numb from the ocean’s nearly freezing water. It made his movements somewhat sluggish and difficult, a little unresponsive- but that just meant he had to move more, be more active, to warm himself, get his body back into shape for this battle.
"I have already told you my intentions of being here, that has not changed."
With that, he took a step backward and then turned, leaping away into the darkness, landing a dozen feet away, at which point he spun, lifting Souba, and activated the lightning materia held with her hilt. The arc was sent widely, a jagged rip of bright light against the blanket of darkness, deliberately aiming the spell away from Vincent.
Vincent: The flash of materia induced lightning tore open a rift through the shadows, pouring down on the two figures who remained prone for the moment, a torrent of chilled rain. Instantaneously, Vincent’s long hair fell to his face and clung to the edges of his jaw line while the fabric around his shoulders weighted uncomfortably with the almost painfully falling droplets. There was a moment if he wondered if they should be colder than they felt, or if he had simply became so numbed to the world around him that nothing was what it should be anymore.
“Why do you care so much to ask me questions?”
Levelling his gaze with the young man some good distance away, Vincent let Cerberus hang from his hand as he tugged at the belts of his cloak with the clawed fingertips of the other. The glimmering metal shimmering as water flowed freely across its polished surface, the heavy fabric falling away from his shoulders as the last leather strap was freed and the wind carried the cloth away. In the corner of his eye he took note of it snagging on a low branch and silently assured himself he would go after it when they were finished; until then, it would only prove a nuisance with the storm raging around them.
“I am the one person who is not object to a conversation if it means that something will be learnt from it.”
Cerberus purred beneath his touch regardless of the faint chill that settled across his uncovered fingertips, the beast in his hand staring ahead at Kadaj in the distance before barking out again in the weapons challenge of the younger male. Vincent could barely hear his weapons call over the din of the storm that whipped around his form, blanketing him in rain as the wind fought against the way his hair became weighted down. Caressing the trigger of his beloved weapon again, Vincent began moving to the side and forward slightly to advance without being overly direct about it, regardless of the way the sand fully gave way beneath his feet.
"Which is it that you would prefer, the conversation; or the battle?"
“I seek knowledge.”
Kadaj: The increased rain pelted down against his flesh, soaking his hair and clothing, causing them to stick uncomfortably against his skin, but there was nothing that could be done to avoid it, no shelter against the weather- he had brought no tent with himself, merely a sleeping bag. He would spend the night drenched with water, but he would survive, just as he always did.
Hadn’t the rain brought him his redemption?
“I think... I want to be held accountable.”
And yet he was still tainted.
“Isn’t that the justice of this world?”
Was justice the misery of solitude?
“To be accountable for the things you’ve done wrong, and to seek to right them?”
He raised a brow at the sound of the weapon firing again and dodged to the side, feet moving without any conscious input from his mind, the move instinctual, ingrained, as though a natural part of every fibre of his body. He moved, running through the sand, still circling, still keeping distance, wet sand flying up slightly with each step. More lightning, flashing and illuminating the world around them briefly, and more thunder, booming and roaring above their heads like some unnamed beast traversing the heavens. A beast that even the weapon of his opponent could outdo in a single instance with a flare from its muzzle.
“It is humans that teach us everything else.”
Battle. Battle which made him feel alive, made him feel as though he had a purpose, battle being the one single thing on this world that made any amount of sense to him- and yet the one thing that most weighed down his mind with thoughts of worry and trespass and the obsession with a redemption that remained continually out of his reach. He had been made to battle- when had he thought that he could find a purpose in any other pursuit?
"You know where to find me after my business is finished here."
Raising Souba again, he turned toward a nearby tangle of grasses, a large plot of land with thickly growing plants in a clump. Activating the materia again, he sent a ragged arc of lightning toward it- the spell hit with a soft boom, the edges of the lightning scorching the grasses, which then caught fire, quickly growing. Even within the rain, they persisted, though he was certain the fire would die before it truly caught. He was not disappointed, though, as he watched the grasses burn. Why, he was not sure, he it had diverted his attention from Vincent, whom he still did not turn back toward.
“I have come to this beach to escape even my brothers' presences. What knowledge do you seek?”
Vincent: Flames licked and devoured the rain soaked grasses, materia fuelled not even the torrential storm would be able to cease their path until they simply ran out of things to consume. Why Kadaj had done it was the mystery to be presented, and he puzzled through it for a moment as Cerberus hung at his side and he let the water flow down along its barrel. Was he giving up? This easily?
You were going to give up too, Valentine. Who was to say he still didn’t intend to. We know you better than that.
His life’s purpose was not to bring anyone else down with him. They were his sins and this was his misery to suffer through; there was no one else on the planet that deserved to be a part of it. Not even Sephiroth, and Hojo was already dead. Holstering Cerberus, Vincent blinked his eyelashes through the rain that pelted against his pallid flesh and stuck the long tresses of raven hair around his almost delicate features.
“I had not been seeking knowledge.”
Not stepping forward, but moving across the quickly dampening soil that turned into mud and clung to his boots, Vincent strode closer to the crashing waves that threatened to consume anyone who moved too close to them. They lapped at the metal tips as they sunk within the sand. In the corner of his vision he remained watching the younger male as his silhouette flickered against the back drop of the growing fire.
Kadaj: He continued to stand in front of the licking flames, his eyes drawn downward, locking onto the fires not so distant from his feet. He could feel the heat vaguely through the rain, feel it against his skin, and he felt almost drawn to it, the warmth it promised. He didn’t move, though, instead kept his back to Vincent, wholly apathetic to moving or dodging if he heard the sound of the gun once again. Vincent would not shoot, of that he was certain, his memory of their previous encounter vivid within his mind. Vincent would not shoot, which was fortuitous in that he would not move- how coincidental.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he did wonder if the tall brunette had run across his brothers in his travels. Vincent had seemed unsurprised to find him on the beach, though he could not guess how long he had been watched before hearing the other man speak up. It could have been moments or hours- he didn’t know nor truly care. If any harm had been intended, it would have been already caused. He was safe.
I had not been seeking knowledge.
“Yet you were still seeking, else you would not still be here with me.”
As he let the words slip from his lips, he also let Souba slip from his fingers, the double bladed katana dropping down with a thump into the wet sand, falling somewhat away from him. The water coursing down his face cooled his cheeks, but he still felt the sting at the corners of his eyes. Weaponless, he stayed on his feet for several moments longer before dropping down to his knees and sitting on his legs, wrapping his arms around his midsection.
Overwhelming. That was the word that first came to mind. The solitude had been overwhelming.
Vincent: The wind whipped the tresses of his hair across his face, obscuring his vision as he turned slightly to watch the younger male disarm himself and then seemingly collapse to his knees. No, things were not right with Kadaj, and Loz had barely even touched the surface. For a moment, Vincent wondered if the eldest was protecting his brother...or simply didn't know. It didn't seem likely that Kadaj would withhold information from his family, but truth be told he didn't know him all that well. Well enough, it seemed.
"If I tell you it was you that I was seeking?"
Stepping away from the raging waves, Vincent moved across the beach to step relatively close to the younger male and yet keeping a great distance between them. Kadaj had already made his point quite clear about proximity by using his lightning materia the first time. Letting his gaze shift over and down at the other on his knees, the brunette merely remained silent as he watched him for a moment before moving to continue forward.
"There is a shelter beyond this ridge, Kadaj, and this is only the beginning of the storm."
He wasn't intending on staying, hell he didn't even intend on beginning a spar with the silver haired male before he had brandished Cerberus on a whim and found the challenge accepted. But in all honesty he had no idea what he was doing anymore, or what the point of trying to figure it out was. It would never change anything, to him it was just another moment of waiting for yet another knife to slash through his flesh and reopen a long healed wound.
Giving one last glance to Kadaj, Vincent blinked away the water at his eyes and the sting that formed at the corners.
Blaming it on the salt water again?
His clawed fingertips grasping roughly onto his cloak as he pulled it free from the low branch and slung it over his arm, hesitating for a moment to see if Kadaj would follow him to the shelter before stepping away purposefully towards its location.
Kadaj: Sitting on his knees and watching the flames within the grasses before him, the rain making an effort to put the fire out, and the fire itself trying valiantly to sustain itself. It was yet another battle, but one he could observe from a distance and hold no danger of becoming an unwitting opponent. No, this time, he could just be a watcher to the world around him. Seeking... him? Was that what Vincent was doing on this forsaken strip of land next to the black ocean, beneath angry clouds and thunder and lightning and a torrent of rain. Was he being sought out?
He almost didn’t want to believe it, almost wanted to deny it. Who would seek him, anyway, and for what purpose? He didn’t know. From the corner of his eye, he could see Vincent moving- though the desired distance was kept, his point before wholly understood without any further elaboration. It made this encounter simple, to have himself understood so easily and willingly without him having to find the proper words to express himself. The mention of shelter, too, was an invitation, though at first he didn’t stand. Why not just sit here on the beach with the storm raging around him, being pummelled by fat drops of water?
But, no, that wouldn’t do. Without a word, Kadaj grabbed the hilt of Souba and lifted her, standing himself, and turned toward his motorcycle. Slipping the weapon into her sheath, he grasped onto the handlebars of his bike and began to push it. It was slow, the massive tires digging into the soft, wet sand, but after a few false starts, he got it going. Looking up through the darkness at the figure ahead, he began to follow quietly, feet digging into the mud below him, and wheeled his motorcycle forward, searching out this shelter Vincent had spoken of.
He didn’t know what it was that compelled him to follow, besides, perhaps, this burning desire for company after having isolated himself for so many days.
Vincent: Once within the shelter that a damp cave along the beach, provided, Vincent strode across its stone ground and moved to sit with his back against the rough walling. The rain that had assaulted his form weighing down his clothing, but he barely felt the shift in temperature anymore, and doubted he was shivering in any manner. Waiting in silence, the elder brunette did little more than pull his hair away from his face before he let his head rest back against the wall and his arms folded over each other at his stomach. His cloak discarded off to the side to dry on its own, Vincent watched the door for the younger male to arrive; a faint lingering of doubt in whether or not the other would follow him but he saw no reason not to when his other option was to stay out within the storm.
Sighing, he let his eyes close in the mean time as Cerberus rested at his thigh and Death Penalty found itself removed from its holster to rest almost affectionately within its master's lap. Scattered. It was the best term that he could come up with to describe the way his thoughts shifted around each other until they were an indecipherable mass. Always present was her beautiful features, the smile that he died for and the shine that illuminated his darkest days. Lightning flashed outside of the cave, sending shadows across its entrance and light to dance along his pallid features, glimmering across the crimson hues of his eyes as he watched Kadaj in the distance trudging closer with his motorbike in tow. For a moment he wondered what he would do if Kadaj hadn't followed him. Sit within the dank cave, thinking, until the darkness consumed him and Chaos raged on?
A quiet succession of clicking sounded within the darkness, and Vincent realized he had been pulling the trigger of Death Penalty subconsciously; the safety preventing it from firing off a shot but the concept of his actions stilling his hand. Would it be that simple? Holstering away that weapon as well, the ex-Turk bent a knee up and let his arm rest across it as his gaze settled halfway between the entrance to the cave and the wall in front of him.
Kadaj: He didn’t look up as he began to trudge behind Vincent, just trusting that the elder would still be there is he raised his gaze. He hoped that the backpack he had strapped to the motorcycle hadn't become soaked within, his clothing and his book stored inside it, but he could check once he was no longer trapped beneath the seemingly never-ending rain. Across the beach and through the mud he pushed his bike, only glancing up once to notice the indicated shelter- a cave- and the fact that Vincent seemed to have vanish.
It took him several long moments to make it, angling the bike toward the entrance which, thankfully, was large enough for him to wheel the vehicle inside. He parked it near the entrance, against the wall, and then pulled his backpack, his weapon, and his boots from it. Those he dropped farther within the cave before returning to the bike and pulling free the sleeping bag. The cover was soaked through, but unrolling it, only the lower portion was wet, and, he hoped, it would dry quickly. Crouching down beside it, he opened the backpack and pulled out a dry pair of jeans and his book. A quick inspection told him the book was fine, not a trace of damp on it, and he set it carefully to the side.
Then, he stood again, looking around the cave for something to use for privacy, but there was nothing. Looking down at himself- the soaked t-shirt, the soaked jeans, his bare feet which were pale and still very cold- and then just shrugged his shoulders. When had modesty ever been an issue? Pulling off his t-shirt, he laid it aside, flat, to dry, and his jeans followed. Some minor debate was held internally before he discarded the soaking boxers as well, and then slipped on the dry jeans. He was still cold, but there was nothing he could do to dry himself further but wait. Lightning flashes outside the cave revealed a multitude of small stones which he could arrange into a ring to form a firepit, but coming up with the necessary kindling was proving to be more difficult.
Picking up Souba again, he unsheathed her and then walked to the cave entrance where he’d spotted a nearby tree. Perhaps he should have done this before changing, but it was too late now, and a quick step out into the night gained him several branches to use to make a fire, and he was back inside the cave soon. He’d not gotten too wet, luckily, and back within the safety of the cave, he began to strip the branches of their leaves. How to start a fire now, he didn’t know, and using the lightning materia within the confines of a cave seemed too dangerous.
“Why would you be seeking me?” The question had sat at the back of his mind as he moved toward the cave, and now that he was finding some semblance of comfort, he decided it was time to speak it.
Vincent: Keeping himself occupied in whatever small manner Vincent could think of within an empty and dank cave, he began to unclick and separate the pieces of Death Penalty while setting them across his thigh in an almost absentminded manner. It was almost a repetitive thing to do when he knew he wasn't in danger, though there was always Cerberus and Chaos as a last resort, to pull apart his beloved weapon and then put it back together in perfect precision. Messing with the chamber and focusing his gaze down within it, Vincent took note of Kadaj within the entrance to the cave and then dropped his line of sight back to the task at hand. There was nothing to say at the moment, no words that could be exchanged between them that would be of any grave importance.
The next time he glanced up it was to note the lack of modesty the other held before he looked away again almost as quickly more out of respect for the younger male than anything else. Death Penalty, now in pieces, sat scattered on his lap and he looked it over for a long moment. Odd how a weapon so deadly could look so harmless when it was just assorted scraps of metal, but when they clicked together they were enough to instil fear on occasion. Alot of things held that trait. Sighing inaudibly to himself, Vincent picked up the barrel and then began reassembling the item.
When it finally clicked into place, the brunette replaced the materia that had been removed before hand and aimed the weapon at the gathered pile of kindling that Kadaj had supplied. Casting a low level fire at them, Vincent holstered his gun only when flames began to flicker and throw shadows around the cave; the light sending a glimmer across the red of his eyes as he glanced up at the younger male before settling back and letting his wet hair fall over his face.
"Your brothers have a message for you, and I promised to deliver it." Closing his eyes, Vincent folded his arms over his chest and exhaled slowly. "They said they've missed you, and I am fairly certain they are on their way to find your location."
Kadaj: Having stripped the wood for kindling and piled them within the ring of stones, Kadaj sat again, his gaze only occasionally shifting to the other male who seemed wholly intent on dismantling his weapon and then restoring it. His own hands played across the length of Souba before he pulled a wetstone from his bag and walked to the entrance again to moisten it, then returned to the makeshift firepit and sitting down again. Laying the sword across his lap, he began to absently sharpen the steel blades, the hiss and scratch of the stone moving across the metal filling the cave.
The lighting of the fire drew his attention and he looked up as the flames grew, pausing in his sharpening of his beloved Souba’s blades to watch the flickering light. It was soon that he could feel the warmth radiating toward him, and he found himself shifting more toward it, a hard shuddering racing down his spine. He hadn’t realised how cold he was until that moment that the fire began to illuminate the cave, and he set his sword aside and wrapped both arms around himself, rubbing his palms over his biceps. A glance to his left showed him the defiling glowing tattoo he had been branded with, and his fingers passed over it, testing once again to see if it would vanish- but it persisted, as always.
He could feel the water dripping down his face from his hair, down his throat and then to his shoulders, racing down to wet the tops of his jeans, but he said something of it, merely reaching out toward the fire to warm his hands. “I knew they would look for me. I expected them to. I just wanted to be alone for a time.” Leaning slightly forward, he passed his left hand close near the base of the flames, quickly, the fire licking around his fingers, then sat back again, wrapping his arms around himself again.
Vincent: Absentmindedly watching the other from the shadows of the cave, Vincent slunk back further against the wall and pulled his leg up to his chest as some semblance of covering. It was odd how exposed he felt without his cloak to shield him from the eyes of the outside world, odd to him how vulnerable it left him even with both his weapons holstered on either thigh and the leather of his clothing clinging uncomfortably to his skin. Could people tell when they looked at him? Could they see the things he had done and not done through out his existence that simply piled up the committed sins? Was it painted on his features in some shade of red to match his eyes, the color of betrayal; the hue of damnation? Now that he was there with only the darkness to hide him from the wandering eyes of the younger male, was it clear to see who he really was?
A demon. An abomination. A lost cause.
My beloved. My beautiful. I never got the chance to avenge you, to seek out and destroy him as he destroyed both of us. As he destroyed everyone. My doubt lead to the downfall of so many, my hesitation...my sin.
Lowering his gaze to the floor, Vincent watched the shadows dance in front of him and yet the light of the flames never really reaching his own form. The flickering lumination stretching to cover the tips of his boots but ceasing inches before; taunting. It never ceased to surprise him how often he could find irony in some of the most mundane of situations; he, the dark one cloaked in shadows that suffocated and signified his sin. Kadaj...an unspoken hope within the young male that screamed forth through the deafening darkness that perhaps there was redemption after all, and he remained beside the flickering flames and blanketed in the light that it provided. Crimson hues within tormented eyes shifted up slowly as Vincent followed the line of shadow caused by one of the stones, letting his gaze rest on the other as he watched him almost play with the fire that burned between them.
The tattoo glowed through the darkness on the younger males pallid flesh, and though Vincent took note of it by letting his gaze rest on it for a long moment; there was really nothing to be said aloud. Another creation of Hojo's, and if not his directly than Shin-Ra at least; the mark was unmistakable. This new discovery settled heavily within his thoughts, though confusing at first, it would be something for him to ponder on as he remained sitting in silence across the way from the younger male. Kadaj's existence was forged by the will of a madman and the establishment that supported him, not some pardon from death...not some form of redemption. Did that mean that there was never any redemption for the silver haired boy and in essence no redemption for himself? He had already settled on the thought that his own existence was doomed to damnation instead of some just out of reach bliss; but Kadaj as well, even when the young male did nothing wholly wrong? Or was his recreation by Shin-Ra just a tool in his redemption? A subtle second chance that he would have to work through in order to find what it was he sought; Vincent would have to think on it further.
Shoulders shuddering slightly, though he barely took note of it, Vincent found his eyes falling further closed the longer he sat there until the fire in front of him was no more than a faint glow against his eyelids. How long had it been since he last slept? When he arrived at Cid's...the two days of rest...three weeks ago? Shifting his arms to rest at his stomach, the elder brunette kept his leg bent up in front of him as his chin dropped down and his head shifted away from the stone wall. He was going to fall asleep this evening, there was no doubt about it and if the hushed manner of his Demon's speech was any indication, they would rest as well. Forcing his eyes to blink open slightly, Vincent gave one more glance up to Kadaj before lying down on the cold and slightly damp ground where prior he simply sat motionless. Watching the other through the soaked strands of his long hair, the ex-Turk did little more than curl one arm over the other at his chest to fight off what cold there was before he let his eyes fall closed again. He would rest.
There was no danger here.
Kadaj: Sitting within the dark confines of the cave with the storm raging on outside, the cave’s entrance soaked from the errant rivulets of water that managed to find their way inside, Kadaj said no more as he waited for some response from the man sitting within the shadows. None came, though he did catch sight of the occasional look sent in his direction, but still he said no more, sitting as close to the flames as he could to warm up his chilled flesh. It was working, slowly, the droplets of water that had drenched his skin evaporating in the heat and the warmth spreading down his arms, to his chest, over his face.
In time, the shivers down his spine began to still, the goose bumps raised against his arms smoothing out again. He could feel his own eyelids drooping down slowly, though he snapped them open again the moment he felt himself begin to lean. When was the last time he had taken the time to sleep properly? Several days, at least, and now the exhaustion was creeping up on him quickly. The lack of decent food, as well, was wearing on him. Crustaceans and fish, the odd bit of wild fruit of vegetable, but nothing truly substantial had been fed into his stomach since he’d left his brothers on the beach.
Looking up again, by this time feeling his hair had mostly dried, he noticed that Vincent seemed to have fallen asleep. No noise had been made, and the man hadn’t moved closer to the fire to share in its warmth- but that was no matter, Kadaj knew he would move if that was what he wanted. He stacked some more wood onto the flames, giving the ashes a quick stir with one of the longer branches, and then finally shifted himself, slipping into his sleeping bag. It was warmer than the air around him, and soft. Pulling his book, the gift from Loz, toward him and almost cradling it, Kadaj closed his eyes and tried to relax.
He had no fear with this stranger nearby, no inkling of being unsafe, though truly, he had no where to go even if he had. He would sleep, rest, relax and regain some strength. In the morning, providing the storm had passed, he would go diving for crabs and other edibles and eat. Perhaps by then his companion would have awoken, and they could speak more- or even stare at each other from opposite sides of the cave. Either option would suit him well enough and not leave him feeling disappointed. Wrapping the sleeping bag more around himself, Kadaj allowed his mind begin to drift, the darkness of sleeping overtaking him even with the crackling fire nearby shedding light all around the cave. Sleep, that was what he needed. With no further worry about the stranger in his midst- or any other thing which might be dwelling within the deeper reaches of his mind- Kadaj allowed himself to fall asleep.
There was no danger here.
((Summary: Vincent finds Kadaj some time after meeting up with Loz, and they have a little spar before looking for shelter.))