Final Fantasy - All Series Fan Fiction ❯ Sympathy for the Damned ❯ Part 2 ( Chapter 2 )
"Sympathy for the Damned"
Kuja walked unsteadily out of the bare room that he had arrived in. He was still very weak, and his legs were shaking.
The building was made of sandstone, with tile floors. It was clean, and the hallways were wide. The ceilings were high, making the building seem somewhat airy in its structure. He paused in the long hallway that joined to the room, and he leaned against the threshold.
He had found several bedrooms, and the interiors ranged from plain cells that even a monk would scoff at, to extravagant suites with king-sized beds and elegant furniture. Whoever was responsible for the creation of this place must have realized that different criminals would have different tastes, and they clearly went through pains to ensure that there was something for almost every type. Kuja again wondered why someone went through all this trouble for people who had committed terrible crimes. He could only conclude that this place was meant to hold the chosen prisoners for eternity, and that the creator(s) must have decided that there was no harm in making it comfortable. Indeed, Kuja had already chosen a beautiful, large bedroom for himself. The bed had a canopy over it, complete with gossamer curtains that he adored. He felt secure that Sephiroth hadn't already claimed it-the swordsman gave the impression that he wasn't concerned with creature comforts.
Where had Sephiroth gone? As the shock of his predicament slowly wore off, Kuja's mind sharpened and he began to calculate his situation. He was not dreaming. This was all too real. He was alone in a strange place (supposedly some sort of limbo), but for a man that he knew he would have to be wary of. He wanted to know where Sephiroth was, and not for any frivolous reason. Some of the most beautiful creatures were also the most dangerous. He fell under that category himself; and there was no way he was going to underestimate his fellow prisoner. He rubbed his nearly bare arms as a chill of foreboding shivered his skin, though the temperature of the air was quite comfortable. The climate seemed to be somewhat tropical.
Now that he was thinking more clearly, he replayed the recent events in his mind. There was an unmistakable madness in Sephiroth's eyes that he hadn't heeded well when he first saw him. Kuja was unsure of exactly why the swordsman stayed his hand, when he could have killed him swiftly and easily, while he was frail. Why him? Sephiroth gave him the impression that there had been at least a few others to come to this place before him, and the swordsman had killed them all with barely a thought. If there was truly no way out of this place, why murder everyone who came? Unless they all had the personality of that annoying little summoner girl who followed Zidane around like a shadow, why kill the only company you may have for an eternity?
"Unless," Kuja reasoned, "he studies them all a bit, before deciding they aren't worthy of his company and disposing of them. After all, there are plenty of villains in the world. I imagine he doesn't have to wait for too terribly long for the next one to come in, once he's gotten bored with…with…oh, dear."
For a horrible moment, Kuja thought that he was going to be sick. He put a hand over his stomach and swallowed. Sephiroth was trying him out. He was sampling him like an appetizer at a banquet! When the next person came through that portal, Kuja was sure he was going to either end up fighting for his life or playing an audience to a slaughter. He certainly wasn't squeamish, so long as the blood being spilled wasn't his own, but he had no interest in watching an angel-faced lunatic hack up disoriented "guests" for eternity, either.
He had two major choices; each of which would open up separate, different possible options. He could, as Sephiroth suggested, get on the swordsman's good side and come to some sort of agreement with him. If that could be accomplished, he would have the choice of indulging in games of "dismember the stranger" at random intervals, or he could try to reason with Sephiroth and convince him that their combined energy would be better spent trying to escape. Of course, he would also have to find out why Sephiroth was so intolerant of company. Granted, he hadn't seen much of this place yet, but Kuja was confident that it was huge. He believed that there should be room to harbor more than two people. "Survival of the fittest," he whispered, smiling. Of course. With only one prison mate at a time, Sephiroth could keep company without having to worry about who might be plotting against him. Kill them before they can kill you.
The second major choice was to hide himself away until he recovered his full strength, and then try to destroy Sephiroth and find his own way out. This could lead to him being in the same position that the swordsman had been in, of course. He would be reduced to the task of choosing and discarding people as they came here. Either way was risky, but he felt that he was best off trying his first idea and keeping a close eye on Sephiroth.
Kuja discovered that whatever power it was that had healed his wounds also worked on his clothing. As he explored the arches, hallways and rooms of the building, the tears in his clothing mended, and even the dirt evaporated. By the time he found his way outside, his clothes were as good as new and as clean as if they had just been washed. "Well, at least that's one thing less to worry about," he remarked softly as he looked down at himself. "However, I'm going to be very annoyed if I'm stuck in the same outfit for eternity. I wonder if there's a means to make new clothing in this place..."
Now he stood in the open arch that led into a large courtyard. A gentle breeze brought the scent of garden flowers to Kuja's nose, and he sniffed appreciatively. "For hell, this is really nice," he said with a laugh. Sunlight angled into the spacious, enclosed yard, and Kuja shaded his eyes and looked for the sun. He was no expert, but judging by the position the glowing ball was at in the sky, it was now late afternoon. He narrowed his eyes on the sandstone walls surrounding the courtyard and contemplated. What was beyond those walls? They weren't very high at all, and he could scale them without too much difficulty, if he wished. The sound of running water distracted him for a moment, and he followed the noise and found the lake Sephiroth had told him about. In truth, it wasn't a lake, but a large, clear pool. A small stream fed into it, and Kuja could see through the clean water all the way to the bottom. It wasn't very deep, and it was obviously man made. Dark tiles lined the bottom of the pool, and there were flowering bushes all around it, providing a token of privacy to anyone who used it for bathing.
Kuja shook his head. "Lake, indeed." He wondered if Sephiroth had ever even ventured this far out into the courtyard. The only reason he could imagine the other young man mistaking this pool for a "lake" would be if he only saw it from a distance. The thought that perhaps his fellow prisoner never bathed made Kuja grimace. He hadn't smelled bad. Maybe he was one of those individuals who didn't believe in immersing themselves in water. Kuja had met Gaians who had the quaint notion that baths were like sitting in their own filth, so they poured the water over their bodies or used sponges to get clean. He had never understood that. There were few things as sinfully wonderful as lying in a hot, scented bath and relaxing. He did enjoy the rain, however.
Kuja's mouth pulled into a delicate frown as he approached the pool and knelt gracefully beside it, dropping his hand into the clear water. It wasn't cold, but it certainly wasn't heated, either. He sighed. It appeared that any bathing he did here was going to be done in room temperature water, out in the open. No bubbles, no washcloths, and he was beginning to doubt there was even soap. He stood back up and shrugged. No matter. He didn't intend to be here for very long. He could have a hot bubble bath when he returned to Gaia (since he couldn't very well return to Terra, after making it practically uninhabitable).
It never occurred to him to think that he might not return home. Kuja was not a person for "maybe" or "hopefully". He would escape this strange-though charming-prison. The only question in his mind was of how soon. He also intended to find Sephiroth, for the swordsman seemed to have vanished, and Kuja didn't like not knowing where the dangerous man was.
Kuja eventually became hungry, and he was finally satisfied that he had explored most of the compound. He made his way to the dining hall, which had been the second room he had discovered. The first was (thankfully) a bathroom, complete with toilet, sink, shaving paraphernalia (which he didn't need), and fresh towels. He had even tested the bathroom, rather rudely, in fact. He was curious to find out if some sort of phantom butler would come in and clean up the mess, or if it would magically clean itself. Thinking about this, he snickered. If Sephiroth had been a lady rather than a man, Kuja never would have tested the housekeeping the way he chose to. He was still, after all, a gentleman-and there were five more bathrooms throughout the structure. If there hadn't been so many to choose from, he wouldn't have expressed his opinion of being kept here in quite such a vulgar manner. His laughter turned into a frown of annoyance as he recalled that some of the thoughts that led him to the outcome of his "artwork" revolved around his insane, beautiful companion. It really wasn't a healthy practice, to fantasize about a madman who would probably just as soon cut your privates off as participate in any of the erotic scenarios your mind conjured up.
"Next time, I'll think about the lovely canary I left behind," Kuja muttered, remembering the dark-haired beauty that Zidane probably held in his arms at this very moment. Yes…Garnet was a much more wholesome image to picture…one that wasn't likely to turn into a frothing lunatic at any moment.
Sephiroth's voice cut through him abruptly. "The next time for what?"
Kuja closed his eyes and swore silently. He could feel the tall swordsman's presence at his back, and he felt a thrill of danger mixed with annoyance that the man had come up behind him so quickly, and without him sensing it.
"I left a little present in one of the bathrooms for our jailers," Kuja snapped caustically. "To show my appreciation for being put in this place."
Sephiroth glided around in front of him, and his incandescent eyes flashed with what might have been amusement. He folded his arms over his chest and said; "I unfortunately discovered your `gift', earlier today. I must say, I'm impressed. I wasn't aware that people could…produce…that much of it."
Kuja shrugged, and to his horror, he felt his cheeks warm. "I was built to excel, so to speak. Perhaps making me easily excitable was his way of insuring that I would be easily distracted. Who knows?"
"Garland. I've already mentioned him. He's the old nut-job that made all of us genomes and came up with the idea of draining the life out of Gaia to restore Terra."
Sephiroth's pale eyebrows came together in a frown, and he tilted his head. "So, you're from another world entirely. Interesting. That's five different ones, now."
Kuja frowned, now. "What are you talking about? You aren't from Gaia or Terra?" He really should have known, given Sephiroth's strange eyes and his accent. "How is it that we can understand one another, then?" Even more curious now, he added, "Where are you from?"
"I come from the Planet."
Kuja waited, thinking that the other man was going to say; "The Planet of…" and then give him the name of the planet itself.
Sephiroth didn't finish. He didn't add a name, either. He stood there at the threshold, blocking the way into the dining hall, and he looked at Kuja expectantly.
Kuja held his hands out. "Yes? You come from the Planet of…?"
"Exactly. There's no `of', however."
Kuja's eyes went blank and he tried to make sense of this. After a moment, he shook his head and tried again. "No, darling angel, I think we've misunderstood one another. What is the name of the world that you came from?"
Sephiroth looked equally perplexed. "I just told you. I came from the Planet."
Kuja covered his mouth and coughed to cover up the hysterical giggle that was trying to surface. The brightness of Seph's eyes obviously wasn't an measure of his intelligence. "Yes, we've been over that. What did you call your planet?" Perhaps the name of the world was simply too complex to be translated? He was still wondering how two people from completely different worlds-perhaps even dimensions-could understand one another's words. Unless by some fluke, this "Planet" was actually Gaia and poor Sephiroth was so muddled he couldn't remember the name.
"For the last time, my world is called Planet. Nobody ever bothered to name it anything else."
"Oh." Kuja was dumbfounded, but he realized that Sephiroth was becoming impatient with the conversation, so he changed the subject. "So, shall we sit down to eat? You said you spared me because you were curious, so I'll be happy to fill you in, so to speak. We may as well get to know one another, if we're to get out of here."
Sephiroth stepped aside to allow Kuja to pass, but he argued, "I've told you, there's no way out. Beyond these walls is a barren wasteland, with no end. It's even worse when the sun sets."
Kuja paused and looked over his shoulder at him. "How so?"
Sephiroth shook his head and lowered his eyes. "It doesn't matter. We can't escape this place. The only thing to do is eliminate possible threats and wait." He drew his beautifully crafted sword and pondered the shiny blade for a moment, eyes narrowed. "Perhaps some day, I'll grow weary of all this and join the others in the peace I gave them."
Kuja stared at him. He realized he had been wrong, at least partially. Sephiroth thought, on some level, that he was performing mercy killings, it seemed. Only those who caught and held his interest in a positive way weren't "freed" from this prison, and Kuja had no way of knowing if anyone before him had ever lived for an entire day in this place. "Why didn't you kill me?" He didn't really expect an answer, but the way Sephiroth was staring at the sword was disturbing. There was an expression of almost sexual hunger on the young man's sculpted face, and Kuja half expected him to start showering kisses along the length of the blade. Annoyed with it, he decided to make a joke.
"You know, if a man needs a sword that big, he could be compensating for something."
The emerald gaze snapped to him, and Kuja hastily constructed a magical shield around himself and nearly took a step back. He held his ground, however, and kept a playful, charming smile up to show that he was teasing. He hid his surprise and intrigue well when Sephiroth's mouth curved into a crooked, confident smile. He didn't say anything, but that smile said that he wasn't the least bit insecure about his manhood.
Kuja's gaze suddenly wanted very much to slide down the young man's body to see what size the bulge was below Sephiroth's waist. He blinked and somehow managed not to leer at the attractive swordsman as he said. "Well, shall we sit? I take it the food should appear shortly?"
Sephiroth nodded and sheathed his weapon, and Kuja gave a casual toss of his silvery hair and managed to look relaxed as the tall swordsman joined him at the table. He stared at Sephiroth as he started towards one of the many chairs situated around the long table, for he felt that he was playing a dangerous game of roulette, here. Instead of moving to the opposite side of the table to take a seat across from him, Sephiroth walked straight to Kuja and pulled out the chair that the sorcerer was about to sit in.
Both of them frowned at the same time. Sephiroth's actions were those of a gentleman who was pulling out a chair for a lady. He seemed just as confused about his behavior as the genome, but he schooled his features and said; "allow me. You are, after all, my guest."
Kuja was too disciplined to let his surprise show beyond a slight furrowing of his brows. Just as politely, he smiled and gracefully lowered himself into the chair, then allowed the taller man to push him forward a bit. "Thank you."
Sephiroth said nothing, but when he took his place on the other side of the table, he kept his gaze lowered, and his face was a tad flushed. Kuja could have sworn he saw the swordsman's lips move, and it looked like he was saying, "What are you doing?" to himself. Kuja didn't know if he was more amused or disturbed. He was causing conflicting thoughts in the swordsman-likely because of the grace of his barely hidden body and the prettiness of his features. Perhaps seduction wasn't the best idea, after all. At least, not right now. Sephiroth's behavior and the way he seemed to argue with himself so often made Kuja wonder if the man had at least two personalities inside of him, and making moves on him when he was clearly so befuddled could cause the worst to happen.
Kuja smiled with cheerfulness that he didn't really feel and kept his shield up as they waited for the dinner to appear (or whatever it did. He still wasn't quite sure of what to expect. He hadn't seen any ghostly servants yet, so he assumed the place magically created things). He filled the silence by telling Sephiroth his story, and he was relieved to see that some of the chaos faded from the swordsman's gorgeous, feral eyes as he listened with interest. Perhaps this dinner would be pleasant, after all.
-To be continued