|My Silver Haired Gemini
Author: darkahgony36 PM
What are second Chances for? Well, for starters, to make things right. Could it also mean finding friendship, happiness and love? Continuing AC movie my way. Critics are welcomed.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 15 - Words: 63,739 - Reviews: 43 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 17 - Updated: 04-02-11 - Published: 10-23-06 - id: 3211346
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Hey, Kadaj, hand me that box with the butterfly designs."
The mentioned remnant pointed to the box beside him. "This one?" Yazoo nodded. Just as the youngest one of the three was about to walk over to his brother, Loz kicked the front door open and came in carrying several boxes stacked on top of another, practically hiding his form behind their structure. It literally looked like a stack of boxes with legs, until his voice reassured them it was Loz carrying them.
"I need a bit of help here… can't see…"
Sei rushed forward towards Kadaj and took the box away from him, freeing his hands so he could help his oldest brother. As she handed Yazoo the box he had asked for, she focused on the other two. "Where did you get all those boxes from?" She asked watching how Kadaj took his brother's arm and led him to stand by a couch before starting to unload Loz's arms.
"I got some from down town; the rest were outside in the garage."
"Outside?" Now Yazoo seemed interested as well. "Why bring them in?"
"They had Jake's name on them."
Sei and Yazoo looked at each other before heading over to help Kadaj unload Loz's arms. Finally, with all the boxes scattered around on the couch, Sei busied herself looking at the name tags and the contents of the boxes. Then she started laughing. "These are gifts to him, from his friends," she explained.
The remnants, who no doubt were expecting something of a threat hidden away in those boxes, managed to relax. They had to start changing their ways if they were going to be living normally from then on; they couldn't think that there was a threat around every corner. Yazoo turned and walked away, busing himself with what he had been doing prior to the interruption.
"Wait, all of them are gifts?" asked Loz. Sei nodded.
"Any of them for me?" Kadaj's tone was hopeful as he stood aside, quietly nibbling on his finger nail as he eyed the boxes tentatively. Sei almost went up to him and pinched his cheeks because of the adorable face he made, but limited herself to smile and shake her head.
"Sorry, Kadaj; all of them are for Jake."
His eyes narrowed with obvious jealousy as he muttered, "Isn't that bastard lucky."
Sei couldn't help but laugh. "It's only logical," she said with a grin, "since it is Jake's birthday."
"Wait." Everyone turned around to face Yazoo, who had one foot on the floor and the other was resting on the second step of a bank ladder. "I thought… it was… Crissmaseve…" He was trying to undo a knot on a green and red garland, without having much success.
"Yeah," chimed in Loz, taking a glass ornament by a hook. "I thought Crissmaseve was the real reason we were decorating the house and the tree? And the reason why we were giving him gifts?"
The girl chuckled again, but tried to quiet herself when the remnants looked at her confused; they didn't know what was so funny, and they honestly wanted in on the joke. "Well, you see, it is Christmas Eve," she began to explain, correcting their grammar on the way, "and later will also be Jake's birthday. It lands on the same day."
"So the whole world will be celebrating his birthday too?" Loz dangled the little ornament playfully, as Kadaj questioned Sei with big incredulous eyes. "That's got to be awesome."
"No, Jake's birthday is something only he and his closest friends and family celebrate; Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is a holiday that everyone celebrates. They just happened to land on the same day, because Jake was born on the Christmas Eve day."
The men thought about this for a moment. "How come Jake has so many gifts then?" Kadaj was once again eyeing the boxes. "I mean it just happened to land on the same day. What's the big deal?"
"Well, the extra gifts are because of his birthday."
"Just because it's his birthday? Really?"
"Yeah. It's the only time of the year when people are usually gifted with special treatment. Other than holidays, of course."
"Why do people celebrate birthdays?" This time it was Yazoo who asked. He was still struggling with the garland, but he was listening closely to the conversation.
"Well…" Sei thought about it for a moment. "To celebrate that you made another trip around the sun; to celebrate that you lived another year. Of course, you also celebrate the day the person was born because you're glad they were born in the first place."
There was a cracking sound that startled Sei. Loz had set the delicate frosty-red sphere on his hand, and, like it had happened several times before already, grasped it too tightly and shattered it. Now he opened his hand to reveal the small shards digging into his skin. Sei rushed to him, grabbed his hand and studied it, making sure there was not a wound.
The skin was intact, unlike his self-esteem. As she looked up to him and gave him a reassuring smile, he looked down at his hand containing the shattered pieces of red that shined like frozen pieces of blood, with a somber expression. She glanced at Kadaj and Yazoo for support, only to notice that they were pretty much in the same predicament; Kadaj was still looking at the boxes, and Yazoo still had his attention focused on the garland, but the younger one's expression was also somber and his eyes reflected not only jealousy, but hatred as well, whilst the long haired one seemed too focused on the ornamentary snake to notice that he was gripping it so tightly, his knuckles had turned white and his jaw was set.
Heavy silence lingered in the living room; no one moved a muscle. Sei felt something wet touching her hands; as she looked down, she realized that Loz had formed a tight fist, and the shards had dug into his skin, bleeding him a bit. "Oh, dear." Everyone snapped out of their trance and looked over; Sei led the remnant to the couch and made him sit, assuring that she'd bring the first aid kit before rushing towards the kitchen.
Kadaj tucked his hair behind his ear; the black had grown out by now, and he had cut it off, liking his own hair color better than the artificial. It was a bit past his shoulders, but he fancied shorter hair, unlike his brother Yazoo, who had let his grow even longer, past his waist to his hips. Loz on the other hand, had his unchanged. "You really are stupid," the youngest said, looking at his oldest brother's hand. Loz limited himself to whimper; it wasn't unusual that he was referred to as such, but lately the name calling seemed to hurt more now than before.
"Just too strong for his own good," Yazoo muttered.
"That's the sixth ornament you break for the tree of Crissmaseve," pressed Kadaj.
"It's Christmas. Eve."
"Like I give. A damn."
"I know you better."
"It doesn't hurt, alright Yazoo?" Kadaj was beginning to get moody again.
"Keep that temper of yours in check; remember the deal we had with Jake." The deal went that if Jake could have a whole month of peace resulting in Kadaj controlling his temper and his childish behavior, Kadaj would get to open a present on Christmas Eve; a privilege no one else was given. Which of course, had led everyone to believe a useless deal, but actually had effect; lately, Kadaj's behavior had been so calm, he would most definitely qualify as the next religious Saint, which in itself resulted a scary thought.
"To hell with the deal. I don't care. He can keep my gifts for all I care."
"Can I keep them?" asked Loz. His voice was hopeful as he looked up at Kadaj. His youngest brother glanced at him annoyed. "I mean… Jake already has too many gifts."
"Fine. But only because I feel sorry for you."
Loz lowered his head again, a bright, embarrassed blush on his cheeks. Yazoo's quiet voice drifted across the room. "Way to cross the line. Twice."
"Same goes for you. After all, I'm most definitely not glad you were born, annoying uptight prick."
Yazoo chuckled. "I know." Kadaj and Loz looked up to the middle remnant with curiosity. The long haired one was still smiling as he continued. "You never did give me a gift on my birthday." Now his green eyes slid over to his youngest brother, defiantly smug. He knew his words had hit a sore spot, because Kadaj's pupil was stretched vertically and they flashed with hurt and hatred. He stood up, and for a moment, Yazoo really thought that he would go over and start something, but then the glare on his youngest brother eased up.
"Then you need no more proof of my words, now do you." They stared at each other for a mere second before Kadaj broke eye contact, whirled around on his heels and stalked off to his room.
Loz looked after him and then turned to see Yazoo. He wasn't paying attention anymore; he was back to trying to undo the knot on the garland. "Why do you always have to bother him?"
Yazoo shrugged. "He makes it fun." Then, without turning around, he added, "Watch the hand."
Loz looked down and cradled his wounded limb before any of his blood dripped onto the carpet.
"At what time was your brother coming home?"
"Hmm…" Sei thought about it. "Well, he called; he said he would be home in about three more hours, around there." She nodded, as did Yazoo. It was well past noon; Sei was in the living room with Yazoo wrapping gifts, whilst Loz was in the kitchen looking for something to cook up and Kadaj hadn't come out of his room for a good time now. "Loz won't have trouble cooking with a bandaged hand?"
Yazoo's smile was short, almost bitter at her comment, but he kept his attention fixed on his work. "He will be fine."
The girl began to tape the colorful paper around the box; as she did so, she couldn't help remember what had happened several hours prior.
She had found the first-aid kit almost instantly, and she had been on her way back into the living room when she heard Kadaj and Yazoo arguing. She hadn't meant to eavesdrop, but she couldn't bring herself to interrupt them either. She had listened to every word those two had said to each other, with a dreadful feeling clawing at her heart, but she had still stepped back into the room with a bright smile, pretending she wasn't bothered by the words; pretending she hadn't heard them; pretending she didn't know what was going on; pretending she bought their lie when they shrugged in response to her question regarding Kadaj's whereabouts.
Of course, maybe it was none of her business what went on between them, but the fact that those words had hidden meaning behind them, especially made to attack and damage the listener to whom they were directed to, made her feel uneasy. Something was up; something she and Jake hadn't caught up to.
A knock at the door startled her visibly; Yazoo glanced at her, his eyes reflecting laughter, even though the rest of his face remained pretty much straight. He rose from his spot and went to open the door, rushing as the bell was rung several times in a row; when he finally opened the door, a bag was thrown into the house towards him, like a wrecking ball, forcing him to extend his arms and catch it, backing up a bit.
Sei cocked her head at the strange happening, half expecting Jake to have returned already or one of her friends to have arrived to help, but who entered the house was actually the last person she expected to see to begin with. Cloud Strife walked into the house like he owned the place, leaving the door wide open in his wake and then headed over towards her, as if Yazoo and the bag were completely inexistent to him.
"Jake back yet?" Of course he isn't, she thought; he's been gone for a week and he's left me alone with the remnants to watch over the house. But surely you wouldn't know because Jake was very specific in his instructions to not let you or any of the Avalanche team know about it. She smiled bitterly as she imagined Cloud's reaction if she were to actually say that. "Hey there, yourself," she replied instead.
Cloud grinned at her and shook his head. "Sorry." He went over to her, bent and kissed her head before ruffling her hair a bit. She yelped and swatted his hand away, laughing. "What's up?" she asked.
"Well, I brought the Santa bag," he pointed at Yazoo, who was holding said Santa bag by the still open door. He seemed a bit confused as to what Cloud was doing there, the purpose of the bag and the name of the bag itself. "It has gifts for everyone and such."
The girl cocked her head again and then looked at the bag, blinking, before her expression showed understanding and then she looked up at Cloud again, a genuine smile on her face. "Don't get your hopes up," continued the blond, "part of that delivery wasn't brought by good will, rather with business intentions." Sei's smile vanished and she rolled her eyes. Leave it Cloud to admit that there were gifts inside the bag for the remnants, but that they had been delivered merely because it was his job.
"Close the door, will you?" Cloud spoke to the long haired man by the door when Sei shivered a bit. "You're letting all the cold in." Yazoo stood there for a moment while, negatively glaring at Cloud before closing the door quietly, setting the bag aside and then heading for the kitchen without a word. The girl couldn't help but feel sorrow for him; more than once in one day had the remnant been reminded how unlikeable he was to most other people. She was about to comment on it to Cloud when she changed her mind; he wasn't like Jake, he wouldn't say anything to make her feel better, he would just reassure her how much he hated all three of them, not just Yazoo.
"Wrapping Jake's gift?"
Sei smiled and shook her head, returning to her work quickly. "Actually, this one's yours."
"Oh?" Cloud sat beside her and watched her working on the paper folding. "What is it?"
She laughed. "I can't tell you, silly! It's a surprise."
"Then it must be pretty good."
She shrugged. "Eh, it's probably something completely useless to you, but I think it's the thought that counts." She eyed him playfully and smiled brightly. He simply stared at her as he thought her response.
There was a moments silence when she turned around in her seat, looking for something. Once she found it, she grabbed the bow carefully and then peeled the paper on the back, to reveal an adhesive side, which she stuck to a corner of the colorfully wrapped box. Then she took a pen and opened the little folded paper attached to the bow she had just glued to the box and wrote in delicate, legible print her message. She looked it over once she was done and, satisfied with the outcome, she extended her arm towards Cloud and handed him his gift. "No opening until Tomorrow."
Cloud made a face and then nodded in response. "Oh, that reminds me. Wait here." Sei stood up quickly and ran to the game room; she came back holding a bag much like the one Cloud had brought, but considerably bigger. "What's this?"
"Gifts for you and the others," replied the girl with a smile. "Oh and," she added, "If you don't deliver those on good will, I'm going to have to pay you." Cloud opened the bag and peeked inside; she almost laughed at his expression, since it clearly said he didn't want to deliver those either.
As soon as Jake opened the door to his house, he was received with a big hug from his sister and a loud wish for the best birthday ever. Chuckling, he embraced her, picked her up and spun her around a few times before catching a glimpse of Cloud, which prompted him to set Sei down with a kiss to her forehead. He grabbed his duffel bag and stepped into the living room, a smile on his face as he looked at his long time friend, Cloud Strife, standing in acknowledgement of Jake's arrival.
Jake spread his arms, bent his knees slightly and smiled perversely. "Am I getting a hug from you too?" Cloud smiled gently at him, much like an adult smiles to a child when they've said something foolish; this earned a laugh from Sei, who still clung to her brother with both her arms. She'd missed him dearly. Her face was still buried onto his brother's chest when Yazoo and Loz stepped out of the kitchen and greeted him as well. Even Kadaj stepped out of his room and graced Jake with his appearance.
"Loz…" Jake's voice sounded strange almost awed. "Did you make this?"
Sei let go of her brother to turn around and see what he was referring to; the oldest silver haired man had stepped into the living room carrying a big cake covered in white frosting and decorated with red and green, in connection to the holiday, yet the carefully written words Happy Birthday Jake took most of its surface and gave the alternative, and real reason for the cake's existence.
Kadaj was once again eyeing things with jealousy, only this time, his focus point was the cake his older brother held as he nodded in response to Jake's question.
"Something wrong, kid?" Kadaj's eyes snapped from the cake over to its rightful owner and shook his head. Shrugging it off, Jake neared Loz and poked the cake with his finger; the remnant's reaction of taking the cake away from him in an almost lecturing manner made Sei's brother laugh in surprise before he licked his finger. "Oh, geez, that's fucking good. Can't wait to eat it all."
"Now, now, brother, remember that talk that we had about sharing," laughed Sei.
Jake snorted. "Screw sharing; this cake is aaaalll mine!" It was only a joke that earned laugher and smiles from everyone except Kadaj, who simply whirled on his heels again and disappeared into the garage. The birthday man frowned questionably at this. "What's going on?"
Sei and her brother made eye contact momentarily, but it was enough for them to communicate a message: something was wrong, and Jake had to find out exactly what it was. Setting his duffel bag down by the door and assuring everyone that he would be back in a bit to talk about the holiday, he made his way carefully to the garage, his body tensing in anticipation of whatever might be going on in there.
There was silence in the living room for a long time as the four left in there surveyed the situation. Loz and Yazoo got along just fine with Sei, and if it weren't for Cloud, they would be talking non-stop about the party they had planned for her brother. Under normal conditions, Cloud's presence wouldn't have bothered the remnants at all, but they didn't know if Cloud should be let in on the event or not, and Sei wasn't speaking either, meaning that either he wasn't supposed to know what was going on, or she herself didn't know what was the best way to continue the evening.
Sei, on the other hand, just really didn't know what to do. She liked being with Cloud and the silver haired men, but having them together in the same room was like putting a dog and a cat in one room, unattended. There was no way of knowing if they would be friendly with each other or not, but one just couldn't ignore the dog baring its teeth or the cat puffing up in aggression.
Loz finally shifted position and handed Yazoo the cake, who took it almost forcefully before he walked back into the kitchen followed by the eldest of the remnants. They were gone for only a few moments, before they returned without the cake, but with boxes of juice. Loz threw one in Cloud's direction, whilst Yazoo gave one to Sei; they both took it tensely, thinking it an odd way to change the subject.
"Uhm, by the way, Sei?" Loz's voice was almost too loud in the quiet room. Everyone looked at him. "How do we drink this?"
"Oh, just poke the straw in it." She said.
"Straw? Poke it where?"
She smiled and got her own juice box and demonstrated for them. Soon all three were happily drinking their beverages.
"You decorated that cake?" Cloud's question came off as a surprise, especially because it sounded genuinely curious and with no hint of his usual annoyance, irritation and hatred he seemed to reserve especially for them.
Yazoo, however, eyed him coldly. "What, does our life interest you?"
Cloud's expression showed confusion at first and then his eyes went back to being icy pools of blue. "Not in the very least."
"Then don't ask." Yazoo's grin was small, but most definitely arrogant as he squeezed the carton box in his fist, persuading the juice out of the container and into his mouth.
"He's been out of it lately," said Loz, trying to explain Yazoo's behavior, trying to smooth things over again, trying to get Cloud to get rid of the expression he was wearing now, trying to make brother understand that it was okay to be interested…
But then Yazoo spoke again, his words obviously meant to cut through someone; "You have no reason to give him explanations on anything, Loz. He is not interested."
"Yazoo, please, don't challenge him; not our brother, not this one…" Whatever progress Loz had made was instantly erased and then everyone could feel Cloud's threatening aura enveloping them.
Sei sighed. I hope Jake comes back soon…
Kadaj stormed into the garage, looking about him wildly for something to vent on, something to get his hands on, and just… destroy. He'd lied to his brother; he did care about the gifts and everything, goddamn it, what right did Jake have to have so many presents on his birthday when he and his own kind hadn't had any at all? For as long as he could remember, no one had never gifted them with anything except orders and more orders.
For as long as he could remember, he never received a colorfully wrapped box with something fun inside it. Not even something cheesy, like a sweater with heart patterns, or like some damn footsie pajamas. Whatever, it didn't matter, right?
"Your current expression really gives me the creeps, man."
Kadaj whirled around maniacly, his eyes searching around wildly for the source of the bastard that dared follow him to this place—only to land on Jake.
Jake. The one the whole damn city loved, the one all three brothers of his loved more than they loved him. The one to blame for his whole misery. It wasn't fair…"You." He had been so absorbed into his own fuming and determination to convince himself that he didn't care that he hadn't realized Sei's brother's presence until he spoke. Which was really uncomfortable and just plain threatening, because he felt as if he'd had been watched from the shadows, even though, technically speaking, Jake was out in the open for immediate recognition.
"What's up?" he was saying, taking a few steps closer to him. Kadaj backed away so suddenly, Jake stopped in his tracks and his kind, caring expression changed to one that showed concern and confusion.
Don't look at me like that, thought Kadaj. Don't… "It's nothing."
The lie rolled out of his mouth as easily as ever. Jake didn't need to know what was bugging him; this was something he had to deal with on his own. He'd seen this scenario on TV a lot of times; the person asks someone else what they're feeling, the one being interrogated shakes their head and denies their feelings and they get left alone. Except Jake didn't move. In fact, he didn't seem to believe a word he'd said. Just leave me alone, damn it…
He didn't need Jake's pity. He shook his head. He needed to get rid of those thoughts. Jake was a good person, wasn't he? Yes, he was. A really good person… Enough of a good person to receive so many gifts on Christmas Eve… His eyes narrowed but his pupils stretched again. That bastard. That stupid, irritable, despicable, inferior, offensive—
"What." His response came out harsh and tense.
"I can see your face."
"I can see yours too. Your point?"
"Don't tell me it's nothing. I know better."
"So you do. Do you want a congratulatory gift for that?" Oh, the irony! How he hated the fact that Jake was getting so many gifts and yet here he was offering to give him even more. This man's presence just resulted really infuriating and confusing, that was all.
"Not really," he was saying, "I'm just really worried that you seem to be in a really bad mood."
"The man has eyes," Kadaj sneered. He turned his back on Sei's brother, hoping to give him a stronger hint that he wanted to be alone. Still, Jake didn't budge.
"I can see your face twisted with complete opposition of what you're telling me."
Kadaj didn't say anything. It had always been easy for him to lie, but damn it, why did he have to be such a bad liar? Even though he honestly didn't like Yazoo at this very instant—was very much angry with him, actually—he wished he had gotten his ability to mask his emotions so effectively. Yazoo could tell a lie as easily as he could, but he had what it took to keep a perfect unreadable face.
"Don't worry, Jake." Kadaj's plea was evident in his words now. "Just go back with your sister. I'll be fine."
Jake's hesitation was made obvious by the awkward silence that followed. But then he spoke again. "It's impossible not to worry, Kadaj. I'm not your usual type of guy that will just leave things be when they're not alright. I've grown a habit that it's okay to worry. So I worry. About what's going on with you."
A bad habit. The remnant was fondling a rag; he folded it several times carefully, into a shape even he wasn't sure of. "It's so nice," he muttered. "You and Sei really seem to share a strong bond. You always get along." Which was a lot more than he could say about his own relationship with his own brothers.
Jake took a few steps back and leaned against a wall. "Did you and your brothers have a fight?"
Kadaj looked down at the rag and studied it. It looked like a twisted square with too many sides. He counted them in his mind… 1… "I know that people are born alone and die alone. But in between…I just really wish I could be with someone who will want to be with me." …3…
"I'm sure that deep down, Yazoo and Loz—"
"They don't. We're with each other because we're all we have, but that's it." …5…
"How can you be so sure?"
"Loz and Yazoo have a strong bond. You see that, from a distance. Loz is too weird for me to get along with; he thinks I'm just a child and yet he acts like one all the time. Even though he's older. And Yazoo… Yazoo's older than me too. And he's also weird, mentally speaking, he's… you know, a freaky buzz kill." …6…
Jake smiled. Yeah, it was true that Yazoo was a bit too calm for his own good, but he had to guess that he had his own way of showing humor.
"People have friends and get along. When I see stuff like that, I feel alone."…7. Well, that was strange. A seven-sided square? What was this weird shape called?
"But you're not. I mean, you have people that care for you. I for one can admit I care."Heptagon.
Now or never. Kadaj turned around slowly, looked at Jake straight in the eye and without hesitation… "Then give me some of your gifts."
The smile Jake had had playing on his face vanished and he blinked at the remnant. "…What?"
"You have too many gifts, Jake, give me some of them."
Jake blinked again in shock. Is this what it was all about? He frowned and then shook his head lightly as he stuttered. "I… I can't."
"WHY NOT!" Kadaj's change in attitude had Jake beginning to wonder just how safe it was to be around this kid when he was on the verge of a violent break down. "What gives you the right to keep them all!"
"They're all for me," Jake replied, "I can't give them away."
"That doesn't answer my question!" Kadaj threw the rag at Jake. It wasn't fair…"I want to know why! Are you greedy? Do you think I don't deserve them?" It isn't fair! "Which is it?"
Jake swallowed and then replied calmly. "None. It's Respect."
Kadaj stopped his enraged spree and looked at the other man completely stunned. "…What?"
"Respect dictates that once someone gives you something, you shouldn't gift it to someone else."
"Respect says you shouldn't; doesn't mean you can't."
"I have deep respect for the people that gave me those gifts; for that reason I can't give them away."
"No one would find out." Kadaj's eyes glimmered with an insanity Jake was growing weary of. If he let the remnant's imagination keep running off like that, there was a lot of chaos sure to happen. Jake sighed.
"But what if they did?" Jake almost bit his tongue when Kadaj blinked with confusion. "Think about it, if you gave me something, and I'm not saying you will, but if you gave me something you thought was really awesome and something I would totally love or find humor in… and then you find out I gave it away to someone because I didn't like it or I thought it was useless… wouldn't it make you feel angry?" The man was looking at the remnant carefully now, assessing the expressions the young one reflected. "I mean to put a lot of effort into a gift only to find out you should've just saved your time and money? It's disrespectful. That's why I can't give you the gifts. I might not need them, but it's the thought that counts." The fact that Kadaj looked about to burst into tears almost broke his heart, but then he added something that he knew would put Kadaj in a good mood again. "And plus, you have gifts too. Better some than nothing, right?"
To his surprise, his plan didn't work; in fact, the silver haired young man looked worse. And then he said, "I don't have any gifts."
"That's not right," Jake said automatically, shaking his head. "I know Cloud brought some for you and Sei and I bought some for you too."
"I don't have any, don't you get it?" the remnant snapped. And then seeing the expression on Sei's brother, he decided to explain further. "I gave them to Loz and Yazoo."
The older one jerked his head back in confusion. "You What?"
"I was angry!" as if that made it alright. "What did you want me to do!"
"I don't know, but certainly not give them away!"
"Okay fine, I didn't know. I can always just ask for them back."
Jake shook his head again. "I don't think it's that simple."
"Why the hell not! Those are mine! They have my name on them!"
"Will they understand?"
"The hell am I supposed to know! I just know that those boxes are mine, and they will stay that way!" Kadaj began to head over to the living room, but his eyes sparking with fury and determination made Jake reach out for him and stop him.
"Wait… Uhm, Kadaj? Wait a second, I—"
"Let go of me, of you'll be sorry." The green eyes that looked at him looked dangerous enough to go with the threat, so Jake eased up on the grip.
"Okay then, you see—"
"Kadaj, our deal still stands," said Jake letting go of him, but still standing in his way so his words hit the young one directly. The remnant studied him as if he were lying.
"You can't be—"
"I mean it." Sei's brother spoke calmly and slowly, so there would be no misunderstanding. "You have to be as proper and as civilized as you've been all month or you won't get to open the gift like I said you could."
"Fine." Kadaj took a deep breath and as calmly as he could, head out into the living room, where he saw Loz and Yazoo sipping juice along with Sei. Cloud was still around, strangely enough, but that didn't really matter for now. He went to stand right in front of his brothers, looked up at them and in the calmest voice he found, said, "I want my gifts back."
Everyone stood in silence as Yazoo and Loz stopped sipping their juice and looked down at their younger brother. Sei blinked and then turned to look at Jake, confused. Yazoo removed the straw from his mouth and swallowed shortly. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me. I want my gifts back. From both of you."
Yazoo looked from Kadaj, to Jake, to Loz, to Sei, to Cloud and then back at Loz and then finally Kadaj again. "You mean to tell me," he began carefully, "that when you said you did not want those gifts, you were serious?"
"No! No, I wasn't! I mean, sort of. But now I take it back! Those gifts are mine! Jake, tell them why!" Now everyone turned to look at Jake, Cloud included. He seemed really interested and even amused by the whole situation; picture so, a remnant arguing with the others over a gift. Now that was something one didn't see every day. Jake sighed and a bit embarrassed, began to explain the whole situation around gifts and respect. "It's disrespectful to gift something that's been gifted to you out of the goodness of their heart because it's as if you were saying that you don't care," he finished.
Yazoo and Loz looked at each other and then at Kadaj. "But, he does not c—mff" Kadaj was putting a hand over Yazoo's mouth to silence him. It was true that he could lie easily, but he could also be brutally honest whenever he wished.
"I want those gifts back."
"But, wait," continued Jake, eyeing the wary, sad look in Loz's face, "if there was any feeling of sincere affection and deep thought into your action when you gave those gifts away, Kadaj, then they should just keep them…"
He trailed off as Kadaj, Yazoo and Loz were shaking their heads in unison. "There was none of that," was saying Kadaj.
"Nope. None," added Loz.
"At all." Chimed in Yazoo.
Everyone sighed. Leave it to them to be so completely blunt. Jake smiled and shrugged. "I thought you would cry if Kadaj took 'em back, Loz"
Loz blushed in embarrassment and shame but shook his head. "It's okay. If you say it's out of respect, I'm okay with it. I feel weird accepting them after what I was just told anyway…"
"What do you think, Yazoo?"
The mentioned remnant addressed the youngest remnant instead of Jake; "If this will keep you from spazzing all over again, be my guest."
"Spazzing? Why, I oughta!"
Everyone held their breath as Kadaj paced around the Christmas tree, eyeing every box underneath and around it. Cloud tried hard not to glare at the remnant, but no matter how much he wished to pretend, his disgust didn't vanish from his face, especially when he picked up a small colorful box he recognized was from Tifa. Jake sat beside him, arm on his shoulder, a weight he found necessary so he wouldn't bolt up and snatch the box right out of Kadaj's hands. It's for Jake, he reminded himself, Jake's birthday. Just this once.
He had been about to take off when Jake somehow, by some sheer freak accident of nature, convinced him to stay a little longer. So there he was, spending quality time with everyone under the condition that he wasn't allowed to leave the house until Kadaj had opened his gift, and had taken whatever item was in the box, out for everyone to see. Which was why Jake and Sei had been stalling the moment, right up until Kadaj had almost exploded with emotion and desperation.
So yeah, Cloud wanted to snatch the box away from him, but was really looking forward to when he finally opened it so he could just get out of there.
Kadaj went to sit on Jake's other side, across from Yazoo, Loz, Anna and Mimi. Sei was sitting on Cloud's other side, between him and the remnants, and she, just like everyone else, was waiting for the youngest remnant to open his gift. Kadaj set the box on his lap and looked it over; found a card, read it was from Tifa and then set his hands on the box, a huge smile on his face. He took a deep breath… then—
"You are awfully happy about this for someone who does not care." Yazoo's voice startled everyone; they all turned to look at him confused, only to see he was looking intently at his brother with laughing eyes. Kadaj stared at him, also confused for a moment.
"Shut up." He was about to start ripping the paper, when Yazoo spoke again.
"No, I mean it. You have a stupid grin on your face."
Kadaj sighed. "I mean it too; don't make me go over and shut you up myself."
"I would love to see you try."
Kadaj was up in a flash, gift under one arm as he began to stalk over to his brother. "Alright, you—"
"Hey guys, chill for a sec." Jake was on his feet, his arms around Kadaj, pulling him back preventing him from getting any closer to Yazoo, who hadn't even moved from his place on the couch and still had that laughing look about him. Everyone started talking at once as the birthday man tried to restrain Kadaj, earning a laugh from Sei. Jake, finding that it was useless to hug Kadaj in order to keep him from moving, got in front of him and pushed him back as he said, "Dude, calm down I said."
Kadaj still wanted to go forward, his eyes fixed on Yazoo, but with Jake's body in the way, he backed up a bit and limited himself to just point at his eyes with his index and middle finger before turning his hand to point at Yazoo in a manner that said he would be keeping his eyes on his brother. Then he turned to Jake and pushed him off lightly saying, "And you, don't touch me if you don't want to eat my fist." As he went back to sit on the couch, he added, "The only reason I don't hit you right now, is because it's your stupid birthday."
Everyone quieted down; then Jake spoke in a matter-of-fact tone. "Actually, it's customary that the birthday person gets punched on their birthday."
Sei opened her eyes wide and then shook her head. Was he insane? Was he setting up the remnant for an attack? "Wait, Jake—"
"What?" Kadaj stopped on his tracks and looked back at Sei's brother. He seemed interested. Cloud, on the other hand, began to tense up.
Jake nodded and ignored the others. "Yeah; everyone attending the party has to punch the person the same number of times as the years they've completed."
"Are you serious?" Now Kadaj seemed really interested. Cloud cleared his throat and Sei began to wave her arms to catch her brother's attention; she felt the need to remind him that Cloud was around.
"Yeah; it's a custom that's been going on for decades. You didn't know?"
Cloud coughed loudly then extended his leg so he could tap Jake's foot. Jake's response was a mere step aside to allow Cloud some leg space, since he figured that was what he needed. Kadaj shook his head.
"The fun part is the one being hit can't strike back."
"Dude, I'm trying to get your attention here!" Said Sei, finally. Jake turned around and flashed his sister a grin.
"Zat so." Kadaj eyed him warily; he was also beginning to think the man was lying or setting him up.
"Yeah." Said Jake. "Tell you what," he added, offering his shoulder to Kadaj, "why don't you go first."
"Jake!" Sei said between her teeth. Kadaj looked at her and then back at her brother… and suddenly a huge grin spread across his face. He set down the box he was about to open—to Cloud's alarm—and got near the girl's brother. "My pleasure."
He got into a punching position, and then seemed to think better of it because he eyed Cloud as if barely noticing he was around. "Cloud knows about the tradition, don't worry about him," reassured Jake. Then he turned around and faced Cloud. "Right?" Strife looked at Jake with a look that most surely said something among the lines of I-hate-you, before shaking his head and sitting back with eyes closed, a heavy, defeated sigh escaping his lips.
Sei looked at him confused, and deciding it was alright after all, turned to her brother, who was smiling at her. She couldn't help but smile back.
Feeling reassured, Kadaj took a swing at Jake's arm.
Jake looked at the spot that was punched, and then back at Kadaj. "No, man, come on. Hit me."
Kadaj blinked. "I did!"
"Like you mean it!"
"Are you sure?"
"Go for it; twenty-four times! You won't get another opportunity like this for a year!"
That got Kadaj ready for another punch. He hit Jake again, hard enough to make him slide back on the carpet. "Hot damn!"
Jake rolled his eyes. "Is that it? Sei can hit harder." Then he turned to his sister and waved. "No offense, sis. "
Kadaj straightened. "What? No way!" His face showed incredulity.
"Then hit me with your best shot!"
"Okay, let me just gather my strength," he crouched again. "I have to do what I do better than her."
"Cry and beg for mercy?" Yazoo's comment earned laughter from everyone, even a smile from Cloud, who bit his lips from the inside to avoid showing it. He had to admit it was funny, in an obscure way; he knew better than anyone the boy's intensity when he was angry and sad, and it most definitely surpassed Sei. Kadaj glared at Yazoo and was about to stalk over to him again, before Jake grabbed him again and made him back up. Between laughs, he said, "He's just kidding, man, everybody knows you're tough!" He slapped his hand on the remnant's shoulder to get Kadaj's adrenaline pumping as he shouted, "Nobody can beat you!"
"Except me!" chimed in Anna, "I'll stomp that punk into next week!"
The young remnant eyed the red-head and smiled. "Oh really? When's your birthday, Anna? Can't wait for it."
Anna slapped her hand on her knee, hinting at annoyance. "Okay, you little son of a—"
"You're getting all angry 'cause you know I'm right," Kadaj pointed out, laughing along with the rest.
Anna shook her head. "In your dreams."
"No, really. Girls are weak."
"Except my sister." Jake uttered teasingly, lightly nudging Kadaj's rib. The young boy looked at Jake, then at Sei, made a face then nodded. "…Except your sister."
"And Tifa." Said Loz. Cloud opened his eyes and eyed the oldest remnant with a bit of curiosity as everyone else agreed. Kadaj shrugged it off. "But every other girl is weak."
Anna began to get huffy. "NO, girls are smarter, stronger and better than guys."
"Fine." Kadaj headed over for the living room table, got on his knees and put his arm on the surface. Then he raised his hand, cupped it and glanced at Anna with challenge. "Let's find out. Arm wrestle. Right here, right now. Me versus you; male versus female."
"You're on." Anna got into position as everyone laughed and leaned forward to see the match.
Cloud narrowed his eyes and shook his head. Sei touched his arm and smiled. "What is it?"
"That really is incredible." He said, pointing at the already going match. "In fact, I wish they'd realize it's so incredible it defies common sense." He looked up at Jake when the man came over and sat on the couch's armrest, setting his arm on the blonde's shoulder once more.
"Everything about them defies common sense, pal." Cloud sighed but didn't say anything. He just watched how the three silver haired men interacted with both the young girls that were Sei's friends. He could bet that Jake had used his abilities on them; if they knew who these men were, they would stay away from them instead of acting so friendly.
The girl named Anna was laughing hard the same as the youngest remnant and was now using both her hands to try and bend the boy's arm backwards. "Anything I can do to help? I'm stronger than he is." The oldest of the three remnants offered as he got closer.
"Loz, you traitor!"
"Forget it, man," was saying Anna, shaking her head, "if you wanna help, assume fetal position and stay outta the way! I am so gonna flip this guy over with pure, raw girl power!"
"Yeah right, you're so weak, you don't even…" Cloud tuned out the rest. He didn't want to hear it. But then Sei laughed beside him, bringing him back just in time as she turned around and said to both him and Jake, "Finally; there's someone who plays with the same intensity he does."
Jake laughed too and shook his head. "No, they seem to be on equal standards, but look closer; if Anna's not careful, Kadaj is going to win this match."
As if on cue, Mimi tackled the remnant by surprise. He literally screeched like a car pulling on the breaks in the middle of a speed race, and then he finally lay on the floor, face up with Mimi sprawled over him. "YES!" screamed Anna. She was still holding Kadaj's hand, and she was putting her weight on her own limb to keep the back of his hand glued to the floor. "I WIN!"
"YOU CHEATED!" Yelled the remnant, squirming to try and get up.
Jake and Sei were laughing madly as they stood up to break up a fight that was most definitely about to break out between them. "Orite, that's it!" said Kadaj, letting himself go with Jake. He was about to say something, but then his thoughts and words were cut off when Jake shoved his still unopened present into his hands. He smiled, let himself loose and then sat on the couch, present on his lap again. "Time for my present. Plus, knowing Tifa, she probably gave me something super awesome to finish off with you." Sticking out his tongue at Anna, he tore open the box and then extracted the gift, showing it off to everyone. "It's a watch." He looked it over and pressed a few buttons. "Hey, think this has some electrical charges or something to keep that girl away from me? I bet that's totally it." He laughed loudly. "Tell Tifa that I'm—" His eyes filled with confusion as he looked around the room. "Where is he?"
Jake and Sei looked behind them to see the couch empty. A cold draft of air circled around the room, answering the question, before Jake spoke. "He went home."
Kadaj frowned. "He went home? But why?"
Jake smiled gently as did Sei before she replied this time. "He went home, because he went home."
Yazoo stood by the window and quietly looked on outside, until the figure of his Big Brother faded into the distance.
HELLO EVERYONE! Go to my profile for more information regarding this chapter, and the story in general. Hope you had a fun time reading this chapter!