Here we are, as promised to Aki Masamune: another story in which Chaos displays a quirk or two. In this one, we have a more public and uncomfortable situation, some severe cuteness, and sarcasm (which is alwaysin evidence wherever our dynamic duo go). Sit back, relax, enjoy...then review, and send me birthday presents!
And where are we going?
Wutai. It's Yuffie's birthday.
Oh, fun. I'm going to sleep through the trip.
You do that.
It's unusual for you to be this willing to let me out completely. Are you up to something?
You tend to be unpleasant when I'm restricted to small spaces, as I will be on the way to Wutai. I thought it might be prudent to give you run time beforehand.
Makes sense, I guess.
Get going, then. I still have to pack.
Since when do you pack?
Vincent's replay was to grab Chaos by his non-existent arms and drag him out.
"Alright, I get it," Chaos laughed, stretching his wings.
Be quick about it, Vincent reminded him.
"I will be."
Vincent returned to 7th Heaven in time to meet Cloud in the entry.
"Did I see something about your size flying out on the east side of the city this afternoon?" Cloud asked as he wrestled his boots off.
"Is Chaos acting up?"
"Hardly. I let him out to get a little exercise before we leave; he doesn't like small spaces, so I thought tiring him out beforehand might make things easier."
"Does he get tired?"
"He's asleep now."
"You handle him well," Cloud chuckled.
"I've certainly had the time to learn."
Chaos slept for the rest of that day and the next. When he woke up, he didn't recognize a thing- the small bunk and walls painted an odd shade of blue were acutely unfamiliar.
Hey. Valentine. Where are we?
Somewhere between Wutai and Midgar. I don't know the exact coordinates.
This doesn't look like th- are we on a ship?
It's monsoon season in Wutai, which makes for conditions unsuited for flying, even for the HighWind.
Oh, that's just wonderful.
I hate boats.
Don't fuss. We'll be in Wutai by tomorrow afternoon.
Chaos grumbled but stopped arguing.
A knock on the door heralded the arrival of Tifa, Marlene, and Denzel. Marlene threw herself on Vincent as soon as he opened the door, hugging his leg and beaming up at him- Vincent had spent very little time with her of late, and now she had him cornered.
"Will you take them out on deck, Vincent? I need to find Cid before he tinkers with something he shouldn't touch."
"Convinced he can improve something, isn't he?" Vincent asked, pulling his boots on. The thought brought a faint smile to his lips. Cid didn't believe in any machine he hadn't personally worked on.
"Naturally. I think Cloud's on deck somewhere, too, if you want to try and find him."
"Perhaps we will. Good luck, Tifa."
Flanked by Marlene and Denzel, Vincent headed out.
It was breezy and trying to rain outside, but pleasant enough for the kids and tolerable for Vincent. He picked a clear patch of wall and leaned against it, watching Denzel and Marlene explore.
Ten minutes passed, and Vincent slid down into a squat, rubbing his temple. It felt like he had the beginnings of a headache, but he wasn't sure what the cause was. It wasn't really a headache yet anyway, more like a sort of fuzzy feeling.
"Look! A whale!" Denzel shouted, pointing excitedly.
Marlene ran to Vincent and grabbed his human hand, tugging.
"Come look! It's so pretty!"
He obliged, picking her up as he went to give her a better view. Sure enough, there were three broad, wet back visible in the water.
"Do you see the others, Denzel?"
"No, I- yes, yes I do! Cool!"
A cloud of spray went up from the middle whale. The furthest one dove, tail breaking the surface as it went. Denzel clambered onto the rungs of the railing for a better look.
The fuzziness in Vincent's head increased without warning. Suddenly dizzy, he put Marlene down and grabbed the deck rail to steady himself.
"Are you okay, Mr. Valentine?"
"Yes, Marlene, I'm fine."
He gave Chaos a mental poke in the ribs.
Tell me you had nothing to do with this.
With me being inexplicably dizzy. Are you at fault?
What have you done?
Chaos said nothing.
I told you I don't like boats, didn't I?
Vincent considered this more a moment, then sighed.
You get seasick?
How is that even possible? You have no physical inner ear.
I don't know, I just am. Leave me alone, Chaos growled.
Is this going to be a problem for me?
How should I know? You haven't set foot on a boat before know.
Go back to sleep.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Can we go to the front of the boat?"
"Ship," Denzel corrected.
"We can't go all the way forward, Marlene, but we can get close. Go on and I'll follow. Stay close."
They got as close as they could and both kids stood at the rail again, on the lookout for more whales. Vincent leaned against the wall, eyes closed, trying to will away the dangerous dizziness. The motion of the ship was more apparent here; it made Vincent sleepy but apparently made Chaos feel worse, because Vincent was feeling dizzier. He was very glad to have the wall to lean against.
I don't feel too hot, Chaos moaned. Think I'm going to hurl.
Don't you dare.
Vincent honestly had no idea what would happen to him if Chaos threw up. If his current symptoms were any indicator, passing out was likely.
I'm sorry, okay? I'm not doing this deliberately. Just let me out and you can ignore me.
That is not an option.
Chaos groaned but didn't answer. Vincent pushed off the wall and began to pace, slowly, from the chained-off barrier to a point near the closest stairwell. The breeze helped a little. The kids watched waves, Vincent paced, and Chaos stayed silent.
About the time that Cloud happened by, Vincent felt suddenly sick to his stomach. Not in a violent, bring-me-a-bucket-now kind of way, but in an uncomfortable, queasy way that made him dread the next few minutes. He moved to the rail and stared fixedly at the waves below.
"Tifa said I'd find you guys up here," Cloud called, jogging up to meet Marlene's delighted charge. "I heard there were whales out- hey, are you okay, Vincent?"
"I'll be fine."
Cloud put Marlene down and told her to go back to Denzel, then put his hand to Vincent's forehead.
"You don't have a fever," he mused. "But you look terrible."
"Chaos is seasick."
Cloud stared at Vincent for a minute, wondering if he was serious or being entirely out of character and kidding.
"Why is it affecting you?" he said finally, deciding that Vincent was serious.
"I don't pretend to understand how the relationship between Chaos and myself functions, Cloud. I just take it as it comes."
"You should sit down," Cloud suggested. Vincent shook his head.
"Being still is no help. I've already tried it."
"Is there anything I can do?"
"Watch the children, please."
Cloud went to join Denzel and Marlene, leaving Vincent to resume his pacing. While the steady monotony helped distract him, it did little to actually calm his stomach.
I am sorry about this, Chaos said softly. As always, the feeling behind his non-existent voice astounded Vincent. I'd have said something if I'd known we were going by sea.
There is little that could have been done, even if you had warned me. Yuffie would never forgive me if I missed her birthday.
Still. Chaos' short statement was accompanied by an uncomfortable queasy feeling that was his seasickness. No doubt it would be worse if it had a physical body to support it.
If you actually get sick, let me out.
If we swap places, yo won't feel it anymore. Only if it gets worse.
I had no idea you did guilt.
Surprise, surprise, smart-ass. Now leave me alone.
As usually happened with Chaos, the conversation ended as quickly as it had begun. Abruptly without a distraction, Vincent lurched to the deck rail and stood there, knuckles bloodless with the strength of his grip.
/I am not going to throw up. I am not going to throw up. I am not going to throw up. /
Marlene, being Marlene, noticed Vincent's predicament and left Cloud and Denzel to tug on his cloak.
"You look sick," she said when he looked down. "Are you sure you're okay, Mr. Valentine?"
"Yes, Marlene, I am fine." Chaos wasn't, but he wasn't about to tell her that. Keeping his personal demon a secret from the children was quite important. He generally enjoyed their company and didn't want the presence of an individual as frightening and unsavory as Chaos to get in the way of that.
"Do you get seasick?"
"Tifa says lots of people do, cuz they don't like the way the boat moves up and down. I like it. It's like being on a see-saw."
Vincent's stomach lurched.
"Do you like it, Mr. Valentine?"
"It usually makes me sleepy, so I suppose you could say that I do," he said slowly, enunciating each word very deliberately. If Marlene was older, she might have recognized this as a warning that he wanted to be left alone. As it was, she climbed onto the bottom rung of the rail and kept talking.
"If it went in a circle, it would be like a chocobo on a merry-go-round," she said.
Is she trying to make me sick? Chaos moaned.
Don't talk to me.
'Do you like merry-go-rounds?"
"Cloud doesn't either. He says that the going around in circles part makes him dizzy. I like that part, and being dizzy is fun. Everything looks weird!"
Vincent groaned softly and leaned slightly over the rail, swallowing hard.
"Hey, Marlene! C'mere!" Marlene obeyed Cloud's call and ran to join Denzel in scanning the waves for whales Cloud thought he'd seen. Cloud trotted down to Vincent. Sensing his worry, both children forgot about the whales and began to edge toward the pair.
"Vincent, the kids- whoa!"
Chaos's wings snapped out straight, nearly hitting Cloud before they were drawn in tight against Chaos' back. The demon shuddered and threw up, bent nearly double over the rail.
"Cloud?" Marlene and Denzel had arrived. Denzel hung back, eyeing the demon standing where Vincent had been, but Marlene marched right up and yanked on Cloud's hand. "What happened to Mr. Valentine? What did he turn into?"
"This is Chaos," Cloud said gently. "He isn't feeling well, and I think he'd like to be alone."
Marlene ignored this not-so-subtle hint and climbed up half the deck rail. From there she was tall enough to reach out and stroke Chaos' right wing.
"It's okay, Cloud. I can take care of him on my own. You don't have to stay if you don't want to."
Chaos looked blearily up at Marlene, not quite understanding why she wasn't running away from him, screaming in terror. She smiled sweetly at him and continued to stroke the smooth, leathery skin of his wing.
"You'll be okay," Marlene promised. "I'm good at taking care of people."
"Thanks," Chaos croaked.
Tifa came up nearly an hour later, with Cid following behind her. They found Cloud and Denzel first, having an impromptu lesson in sword-handling, using borrowed broom handles in place of real weapons.
"Down there," Denzel said, pointing. Tifa threw Cloud a look that said 'you just left her somewhere?' Cloud shrugged.
Tifa shook her head and headed in the direction Denzel had been pointing, trailing Cid, Denzel, and Cloud.
Down near the bow, they stopped. Tifa and Cid stared. Chaos sat on the deck, back to the wall and eyes half closed. His left wing was entirely limp, drawn out to the side so Marlene could pet it. She sat beside him, clam and doing her best to comfort her new friend. There was a bucket within easy reach of Chaos, donated by a junior crewman who would have to clean up any mess left on deck.
"What in the name of the Planet is going on?" Cid hissed.
"Chaos is seasick. Marlene is keeping him company," Cloud said simply. He examined the scene, broom-handle tapping gently on the toe of his boot. "They've moved. It was the right wing when I checked last."
"Doesn't he scare her?"
"Since when is he cuddly?"
"Since Marlene touched his wings. I think he'd play dress-up if she asked and he was feeling better."
Chaos grabbed for the bucket. Marlene said something to him and patted his shoulder.
"She never ceases to amaze," Tifa chuckled.
"Isn't anyone concerned that this looks like an accident waiting to happen?" Cid asked.
"He's too sick to do anything," Cloud said dismissively. "Just moving from down where Denzel and I were to where he is now was a major effort. Even Marlene could take him."
True. Chaos had finished with the bucket for the time being and was slumped heavily against Marlene. She stroked his hair, awkwardly because of the angle, and continued talking. Her voice didn't carry, but it was clear that she was trying to comfort the miserable demon.
"I think it's best to leave them be. Unless the weather gets bad, this is probably the best place for him to be." Cloud spun his broom idly.
"Was Vincent okay with this, Cloud?"
"Seemed to be. Not that he said much; he was trying not to puke."
"They get along better than we thought, don't they?" Tifa mused, leaning against the wall and watching the unlikely pair.
Sometime later, Chaos was stretched out on Vincent's bunk, falling asleep to Marlene's steady petting. She was dozing off as well, but no one wanted to pull her out from under Chaos' protectively extended wing. In the corner, Cid flipped through a magazine.
"Cid?" Marlene yawned.
"I wanna go to bed now. He's asleep."
"'kay. I'll walk you to Tifa's cabin."
Marlene slid carefully off the bunk and trotted over to the pilot, putting one small hand in his and rubbing at her eyes with the other. Chaos didn't even twitch.
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were a complete pushover," Vincent chuckled.
"She's nice," Chaos said defensively. "If feels good to have my wings petted."
"Yo do realize that your image has been forever destroyed by one seven year-old girl, don't you? Striking fear into the hearts of Cloud and Co is a thing of the past."
"I can handle it."
Vincent laughed, earning a slightly irritated look from Chaos.
"Who takes over?" he asked finally.
"I'll keep control, if you don't mind. No point in repeat the events of the afternoon. You can have the body back when we hit dry land."
"No such thing during monsoon season in Wutai."
"You know what I mean," Chaos growled.
"Mmhm. Now get to sleep. Even you need it after a night like this one."
As Chaos drifted into full unconsciousness, he heard Vincent's parting jab at his pride.
"So the great demon's weaknesses are seasickness and little girls. Who'd have thought you could be so cute?"