Fandom: Guilty Gear
Characters: Sol, Kliff (and Ky, kind of)
Warnings: Red Side AU. This should speak for itself.
The procession was beautiful.
Something straight out of a fucking fantasy movie, the mourning bands waving from every house in the city, every pole and windowsill. Hundreds of soldiers as the honor guard, ten thousands of people lining the streets and quietly sobbing their hearts out. Triple that amount in lilies, the breeze scattering their scent and their petals all over the main street.
Not a single spot of black anywhere, everything so blindingly white right down to the gold-rimmed coffin that it was surprising they hadn't gone for see-through, put him in crystal like a goddamn sleeping prince for everyone to gawk at and bawl over as if he'd ever been anything other than a distant idol, known by no one, beloved by all.
It made Sol want to gut something and drag it all over that goddamn whiteness because there had been nothing clean about the entire thing, nothing pristine or radiant or peaceful, just a field full of mud and carcasses and the stupid fucking kid clutching at his collar, bleeding all over them both and choking out words he'd never wanted to hear.
He'd made the mistake of passing by a newspaper stand this morning, eyes drawn to the headlines in spite of himself. Savior, they called him. Messiah. Saint. Pages and pages of incoherent blather about being forsaken by God and predictions of the apocalypse, and by the time he got to the part that involved the kid dying for the sins of humanity, the paper wheel had spontaneously combusted.
Sins of humanity, indeed.
Ky would've hated it.
Had, in fact, hated everything about the damn publicity campaign that'd built him up to be that guy, and would've hated this, the way everything had simply ground to a halt, the way people stood paralyzed and unable to carry on. Sol could picture him all too easily, pacing up and down and delivering an absolutely furious tirade on priorities, berating everyone for daring to have a pity party over his person when there were more important things to do.
Like trying to keep the world from ending.
Wonderful candidate he'd chosen for the job, and if Sol hadn't been forced to hold that gaze, intent and lucid till the end, he'd have chalked it up to desperation and the kid not having a damn clue what he was saying anymore.
It would've been preferable to the alternative, but the kid had always known how to hit spots he hadn't even known he had.
The music swelled as the procession climbed the stairs to the looming cathedral entrance, and there, Sol decided to step out, shoving his way out of the throng under the disapproving glares of several honorary assholes. He really didn't feel like indulging the bullshit to follow.
A drink was starting to sound good right about now, and in its own way, the alcohol was more of a tribute to the kid than the church shenanigans would ever be.
The footsteps registered on the edge of his awareness before they even entered the gravel path, the familiar gait now heavy and faltering.
Briefly, he contemplated leaving, but that'd mean mingling with all the idiots and their angst. There was only so much tearful reminiscence he could stand.
Here was quiet, at least. Nobody dared to come here, all gripped with an inexplicable fear of treading these newly hallowed grounds, the gardeners running out of space to put all the flower arrangements that people kept laying down at the gates.
He'd kicked off a couple of them to make room for himself, lit a smoke to get rid of the overwhelming odor of the sprawling floral carpet that was starting to wilt in the midday sun. There was little else for him to do.
At the monument, the footsteps stopped, hesitated, toes burying themselves in the earth and remaining. He didn't need to look to know the old man had bowed his head, searching for words just like everyone else, hollow phrases groping for some semblance of solace.
"You still paying your respects to that son of a bitch?"
Kliff slowly lifted his head again. He'd aged, Sol realized, become gaunt and tired in the space of only a few days in a way more than seventy years of war hadn't managed to change him.
Fragile. The thought stung uncomfortably.
"Gratias tibi ago, Domine, and all that?" Kliff murmured, the chuckle a cough, short and sharp. "You missed out there, at the service. They kept going on about it… the glory and the unending mercy of God. And all I could ask myself was… how I was supposed to thank Him for taking my son."
The second one, too; the first now little more than a specter, one that would occasionally rise from the smoke of the battlefield to bring torment with its familiarity.
Sol had never had any lost love for that boy, but he'd been there to see Kliff's face as the messages went from "your son is MIA" to "your son is probably dead" to "your son is buried in some unmarked mass grave in the middle of a giant dirt puddle, enjoy the thought", and the way he'd looked after his first confrontation with that black, merciless shadow.
"I suppose… I should be, though. At least… at least you brought him back. At least he isn't—"
Lying in an unmarked hole somewhere, there for the taking.
Sol took a long drag of his cigarette, allowing the image to linger. "You don't mean that."
"I just never thought he'd… and I'd… retire." He laughed, helplessly. "Retire."
After a moment, Kliff shook his head, blinking away the haze that had settled in his eyes. "But before that… we have some business to attend to, don't we. He wouldn't be happy with me if I let things drag more than they already have."
There was that.
Sol still wasn't sure why he'd even mentioned it, why he'd said anything at all. It wasn't like anyone would've ever known about the things that had transpired in the kid's last moments, about that damning plea. He didn't want to examine too closely why it mattered.
"The general consensus, if one can call it that, is that there are no witnesses or public statements as to his wishes, and that you have an incriminating record."
Which meant they were just barely skirting accusations of murder.
Kliff paused. "There will be a meeting to determine the validity of… his dying will."
"Well, fuck me sideways," Sol growled. The kid would have appreciated the irony that he couldn't win against the bureaucratic fucktards even in death. "They think I want the goddamn job that bad? If they have some other idiot martyr lined up for it, they can be my guest."
"Oh, it's gonna get through eventually. It was the same way when I…" He swallowed. "When I made my request. Endless debates and haggling. Except…"
Except back then, there hadn't really been a shortage of leaders, or the burial of hope personified to send the entire fucking world into a demoralized meltdown.
"The Gears won't wait for them to get their act together."
"No," Kliff agreed quietly. "No, they won't."
The doors to the conference room banged open, sending pens and coffee cups clattering to the floor.
Two rows of dumbfounded stares met his entrance, shock warring with intimidation and outrage, until outrage won out.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Sol grinned mirthlessly, slamming a handful of maps on the table.
"Remember that guy whom you all gladly sent off to die with shit equipment and shit supplies and shit medicine because he'd be so fucking goddamn nice and protect all of you assholes anyway?"
"Yeah. Those days are over."
- Fin -
A/N: A Sol without Ky isn't fun for anyone involved. He's got no reason to believe in good things anymore.
Thanks goes to Tofu for her help. C&C is appreciated, as always.
- The phrase Kliff utters is Latin for, "Thank you, Lord."