It took weeks to get back to Edge, and the duo took their time. Kadaj was never in any hurry anymore, suffused with a patience that the endless trials of their trip had instilled in him.
As they neared, his thoughts turned again and again to Cloud. He didn't feel the old hesitance, the old fear that Cloud would reject him. He suspected that Cloud would be happy to see him, he expected for Cloud to be involved with someone else, he hoped that Cloud loved him, and he planned that—whatever the case may be—he would return to their loft whether Cloud wanted it or not. His big brother was truly out of his mind if he thought that Kadaj would give up on him and nothing short of a restraining order or death was going to change Kadaj's mind. Cloud was his to hold and comfort and ease, and that was the end of any discussion.
"Nervous?" Vincent asked, watching Kadaj pace.
They were in an inn outside of Edge and it was late, almost dawn. But the two of them sat up talking quietly together, sometimes sitting in companionable silence, just relieved to have someone near.
Kadaj shifted his position to the bed and leaned back against the skimpy pillows, sighing, "No, shockingly. What's to be nervous about?"
Vincent nodded a little, and moved his hand into his cloak to fish out something.
"This is for you," he said, holding forth a single, black, white-tipped feather. It was as long as his palm, curving gently.
Kadaj reverently took it. He hadn't seen the Master's wing until the end, when he lay slaughtered on the floor with that beautiful, sad wing drooping over his limp body.
"Genesis," Kadaj sighed, remembering the beautiful, red-headed man who had rescued him and his brothers by opening the ballast doors from the outside. He had had a wing, only pure black, long and graceful and powerful enough to bear him aloft with his little passenger. "I won't forget…"
"I will look for him," Vincent said, speaking of his searches, of what he would continue alone once Kadaj was gone.
"Thank you," Kadaj breathed, grateful to the tips of his toes. Good or evil, Genesis was another piece of the past that Kadaj was unwilling to relinquish. Despite what he may or may not have done, despite what the evidence pointed to, he had played a crucial—if brief—part in Kadaj, Yazoo, and Loz's lives. It would be good to know what had happened to him.
"Sleep, Kadaj," Vincent finally urged, and turned to the window to ponder his own thoughts.
Kadaj placed that feather securely through the leather wrappings of the souba's sheath and sank down into that soft, welcoming bed with a sigh.
He was asleep before he even knew he was sleepy.
They spent the next day making the last leg of their journey into Edge, reaching the newly burgeoning city around midnight.
Kadaj was reluctant to let go of Vincent when he finally hugged him goodbye. He'd come to understand Vincent's terrible loneliness and strange, poetic relief in the ghosts of the past. He'd come to understand Vincent more deeply, perhaps, than he would ever understand his enigmatic lover.
"Please don't forget me," Kadaj asked, finally releasing him.
"You're remarkably memorable, Kadaj," Vincent said, his voice as low and deadpan as it ever was. "I don't believe there was ever a dull moment with you—kidnappings, torture, near-death experiences…I find myself in need of a vacation. Perhaps, Wutai…"
Kadaj gave him a rueful smile and asked, "Are you mad at Reno for sending me?"
Vincent mulled that one over for a moment, thoughtfully crossing his arms and leaning against the nearest building, half expecting Yuffie to pop out of hiding somewhere and accuse him loudly of "draping."
"Surprisingly, no," he finally answered. "Thank him for me, if you would."
Kadaj nodded and gently said, "I'm sorry I had to wait so long to find my father…"
Vincent smirked behind his mantle and replied, "I'm sorry too, Kadaj. In more ways than you can know. You're a young man to make any father proud, and I'm proud of you…my son."
He was gone like a ghost, cloak rippling in swirls around him as he leapt from sight in a dramatic farewell. Kadaj sadly, poignantly wondered if things would ever be the same again.
He was home now. He would return to Cloud if he could, but first he had to visit his brother and Yazoo's fox-faced lover and tell them thank you for helping him when he needed it most.
No, things wouldn't be the same, not anymore…
But perhaps it would be best if they weren't.
Continued in SINS: I'm sorry if this is rushed, there's a deployment coming and I'm not sure how it's going to go. So here's what I had, subject to change!