Kingdom Hearts II

Same Auld Lang Syne

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters are not mine, and this ficlit is. It randomly came to me tonight when I wanted to write something New Years-ish. I decided they can celebrate Christmas in most of the KH worlds, since they have Christmastown and all.

New Year's Eve in Hollow Bastion was always celebrated with the utmost excitement. Though they did have Christmas, and much was made of it, it seemed that some people were more fascinated by what happened a week later---the old year fading and dying in the crisp night, and the new year being born at the same time.

Sephiroth's response was a sarcastic, "For something to be born, something else will always die." To which Cloud would chime in with, "Yeah, I guess that's because there's not enough room for everything."

And Zack would give them both a mournful look and plead for them to at least try to get into the holiday spirit.

Zack loved almost all holidays, of course. Christmas was his favorite. He would have his home lavishly decorated with lights of all kinds---a Santa and reindeer on the roof, lit by red and white bulbs, white lights surrounding them on the roof's edge, and blue, green, red, and white lights on the trees and shrubbery below. More strands were draped along the balcony railing and the porch pillars---multi-color on the railing, and red on the pillars ("For a peppermint look!" Zack said). A huge tree was always in the living room window, with whatever kind of lights Zack felt he wanted that year. This time, it was twinkle bulbs, the kind where some blinked off and on randomly all over the tree, giving an illusion of sparkling.

He always left the holiday decorations up at least until January sixth, and sometimes longer. With his bad leg this year, Sephiroth and Cloud had been recruited to help him deck the halls---amid much grumbling and protesting, naturally. They were content to let Zack leave the lights up as long as he wanted, since it meant they would not have to climb and fly in strange positions again for a while.

"I don't care if you leave them there until June," Cloud had told him.

"By then it'd be too hot to take them down!" Zack had said.

"Well, right now it's too cold," Cloud had retorted.

For New Year's, Zack usually wanted to go to the annual party the Restoration Committee always threw. Since he had just got done remodeling his house before the snow had arrived in November, he had decided that this year it would be perfect to host the get-together himself.

"Fine," Cloud had shrugged. "Sephiroth and I will just hide in our rooms all night."

Once the remodeling had been completed, Zack had gained an upstairs and three more bedrooms. It was well-known by now that Sephiroth had been living with Zack, so they no longer had to hide the fact from anyone at the military base. In addition, Zack had invited Cloud to move in as well. "Why not?" he had said with a wild gesture. "You and Seph aren't trying to strangle each other anymore. And you've gotta be tired of living in that tiny place with broken-down furniture and a lot of spiders!"

Cloud had rolled his eyes in response. He had lived alone for so long that he had not thought it would ever be hard to adjust to it. Yet he had found it lonely when Sephiroth had left upon recovery, after he had stayed for months due to the dragon's work. Cloud had been invited to move in with the Restoration Committee several times, but he had always turned them down. That was far too many people to be trying to live with, especially when one of those people was the always hyper and mischievous Yuffie. It would be a disaster waiting to happen.

But he had not turned Zack down. He had mused sometimes that living with one or two people would not be so bad, if they were either really close friends or else passing acquaintances that minded their own business. And Zack and Sephiroth were about as close of friends as he could get. He had drifted apart from most of the Restoration Committee, save for Tifa and Aerith.

Weird, how things worked out.

So now he was standing on Zack's new upstairs balcony, his arms crossed, his ragged cape blowing in the icy wind. A lot of laughter and music was drifting to his ears all the way from the scene downstairs he had just left. Under the tattered crimson cloth, his wing twitched.

"Too much noise?"

He started, turning with a frown. Sephiroth had somehow snuck up on him without him realizing at all. And Sephiroth knew it too.

"Strange, that you can hear everything happening downstairs, but you couldn't hear me coming up behind you," he said dryly.

Cloud grunted. "What happened to you?" he asked, suddenly noticing something glossy on the older man's cheek.

Sephiroth reached up, rubbing the substance away. "I walked under a mistletoe," he said in irritation.

"Oh brother." Yet Cloud could not help being a bit darkly amused. The great Sephiroth and a mistletoe---what a disaster. "Who was it?"

"Aerith, luckily." As opposed to Yuffie, who would have made a huge show of it. Either she would have displayed open disgust, with a loud "Blech!" or she would have insisted that tradition was followed through by Sephiroth kissing her. Aerith had good-naturedly kissed Sephiroth on the cheek and had not expected him to return it.

"Heh. Did you kiss her back?" Cloud gave Sephiroth a sidelong look.

"What do you think?" Sephiroth said, his tone flat.

"You didn't." Cloud looked back out at the city lights. In the near distance, Christmas lights on other homes were flashing and twinkling. The sky was overcast, signaling another snow storm was on its way. Zack would be ecstatic.

"What's so great about New Year's anyway?" Cloud grumbled. "It's going to feel just the same as the old year."

"Apparently," Sephiroth said, his voice dripping sarcasm, "it's a time of rebirth and renewal, to better oneself by making new resolutions."

"Which'll just be broken in a day or two. A week if they're lucky."

Sephiroth smirked. "If you were going to make a resolution," he mused, "what would it be?"

Cloud shrugged. "To not be such a grouch?" he said sardonically, imitating Zack.

"Or to come to enjoy celebrations," Sephiroth said in an ironic tone.

"Yeah, that too." He looked at Sephiroth. "What about you?"

Sephiroth gave a half-shrug. "To learn to like shirts," he smirked again.

"Heh. That'll never happen."

"Neither will your goals."

"Broken before they've even been made." Cloud raised an imaginary glass. "Let's make a toast to the new year."

"Many happy returns." Sephiroth leaned against the balcony, draping his upper wing over the edge as he propped himself up on his left elbow.

Cloud was silent for a moment. "Has this year been good?" he wondered. "It's been weird, that's for sure."

"Well, let's see," Sephiroth said, his voice dry. "We started the year as enemies, or at least, with mutual hatred of each other. Then I was mauled by a dragon and you took care of me."

Cloud nodded. "And Zack came back from the military."

"More dragons attacked Hollow Bastion, and probably still aren't all eliminated. Not to mention those fire creatures." A wing twitched. Those were not the most enjoyable of memories.

"We had a bunch of crazy adventures. You got taken by Dr. Hojo . . ."

"Zack was nearly killed by him." Sephiroth's voice hardened. "And still isn't fully recovered."

"I stopped you from giving into your darkness."

"Ever since then, we've seemed to get along better. Even if we didn't want to admit why."

"Then I died. And your spirit got pulled out of your body. And we got tested."

"We were forced to admit we care."

"And it feels natural now."

"Zack remodeled the house, and you moved in."

"And here we are." Cloud shook his head. "Allies . . . even friends. Weird."

Sephiroth smirked. "It's better than if it ended with me being dead from what the dragon did to me."

"It's even weirder that that happening is what caused everything else."

"I know."

They stood in silence for a moment, absorbing the knowledge of everything that they had experienced over the past year. It was overwhelming, really.

"So . . . do you think the new year will be better, worse, or the same?" Cloud asked.

Sephiroth shrugged. "For us, 'the same' is one calamity after another," he remarked.

Cloud rolled his eyes. "I hate to think what 'worse' would be," he muttered.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it happens, though. It's been relatively calm the last couple of months. I doubt it will last much longer."

"Probably not." Cloud sighed.

The balcony door suddenly slid open. Both men started and looked over.

"Hey!" Zack exclaimed, balancing against the glass and his cane. "It's almost midnight. Aren't you guys gonna come back in for that? Besides, what happened to it being too cold out here?"

"The cold is easier to deal with than the festivities," said Sephiroth, not moving from his position.

"Aww, but you've gotta sing Auld Lang Syne with us," Zack protested, giving him the most mournful look possible.

"I don't sing," Sephiroth said.

"I don't either," said Cloud. A variation of this discussion happened every year, though this was the first time Cloud and Sephiroth had been docile towards each other.

"We'll come listen to you sing," Sephiroth said.

Zack grinned. "Great!"

As Cloud and Sephiroth came over, Zack draped his arms around them both.

"Do you just want to hug us, or are you using us to keep yourself up?" Cloud asked.

"Both!" Zack smiled. "It's gonna be a great year. I just know it!"

"Yeah, sure. Maybe you can give us some of your confidence," Cloud said.

"It'll rub off on you!" Zack reassured, pulling the glass door shut and taking his cane again.

"To be as cheerful as you would be frightening," Sephiroth said as they walked down the hall.

"You wouldn't have to be like me! Just be more positive!" Zack grinned.

"Same difference," said Cloud.

As they reached the stairs and descended, the guests gathered around and watched---save Leon, who was leaning against the wall farthest away. He was the only one besides Cloud and Sephiroth who possibly hated parties even more than they did.

"You don't look too much the worse for wear," Yuffie commented to Sephiroth, and smirked. "I thought you ran away because you were afraid of cooties."

No one else would dare speak to Sephiroth in that way. But he was not going to be rattled by someone who was still a child in his eyes.

"I'm afraid of the insanity that ensues at celebrations," he said matter-of-factly.

"Oh, well, we still have our minds," Aerith smiled.

Zack picked up a nearby cup of cherry punch. "It's one minute to midnight!" he chirped.

Cloud and Sephiroth took glasses as well. As the others counted down, the two recent friends observed. They would not say that they were excited, or even anticipatory, but still there was a certain idle interest. The year was changing, after all. And whatever escapades it would bring would be discovered soon enough. Maybe it was a cause for apprehension instead of interest. Or maybe that was their pessimism talking.

". . . Three! Two! One! Happy New Year!"

The two winged men clinked their glasses in a toast with each other and with Zack.

"Feels the same," Cloud remarked.

Zack downed the beverage almost all in one gulp. "'Should auld acquaintance be forgot,'" he began to sing.

"'And never brought to mind,'" Aerith continued.

As most voices joined in, Leon walked over to Cloud and Sephiroth. "Looks like I'm not the only one who'd rather be anywhere else," he said.

"Why are you here, then?" Sephiroth asked.

Leon shrugged. "Everyone else wanted to come."

"Heh. And we're here because it's our home," Cloud said. "Just like how it is for you when Merlin hosts this thing."

"Zack is happy when we're here," Sephiroth added.

"And if he's happy, you're happy," Leon deduced.

"Something like that," Cloud agreed. It was true, he supposed. This was not so bad . . . just for a few minutes anyway. If it went on for much longer, he and Sephiroth would probably look for an escape again. And Zack knew it. But he would be happy that they had come back for even these few minutes.

"Happy New Year," Sephiroth said dryly to Cloud, sipping from his glass.

"Happy New Year," Cloud returned, drinking from his as well.