Title: Pumpkins With Faces
Word Count: ~1800
Characters: Sephiroth, Cloud, Kunsel
Disclaimer: I do not own FFVII or Crisis Core and make no money from this work.
Summary: In the midst of a war, Sephiroth learns about holidays and Cloud makes a new friend.
Set in the Draw With Me universe.
Am I even capable of keeping things contained to a one-shot? I have some doubts. I'm working on more for this 'verse, including their arrival in Wutai, but I wanted to get this done for Halloween. The only backstory you're missing is that Kunsel's their buddy. Happy Halloween!
Cloud immediately dropped his pencil when Sephiroth pushed the door to their tent open and broke into a smile. Scrambling for a fresh sheet of paper, he grabbed the pencil again and wrote, Did you have a good day? Sephiroth looked like it had been a good day. He was smiling as he pulled off his boots and seemed more relaxed than most days when he came back to the camp tired and angry.
"Yes, I did. Come here." Sephiroth sat down on his cot and crossed his legs, then patted his lap. He had a box in one hand that he set down beside him.
Curious, Cloud went over and crawled into Sephiroth's lap, letting Sephiroth arrange him how he saw fit. He ended up leaning back against Sephiroth's chest with his strong arms holding him snugly.
"Do you know what today is?" Sephiroth asked, resting his chin on Cloud's shoulder.
Cloud shook his head, wondering if he had forgotten something. He twisted his head around to look at Sephiroth's face to see if he was angry, but just got a kiss on his nose.
"Don't look so worried. I haven't gotten mad at you for not knowing something yet, have I?"
He gave his head another shake. Sephiroth didn't get mad at him—he got mad at other people, but never at Cloud.
"I didn't know about this until today, either, but today's a holiday. It's called Halloween."
Halloween? Cloud mouthed the word. He vaguely remembered a word like that from before he went to the lab.
"That's right." Sephiroth was really good at reading his lips. "I don't really understand it, but Kunsel said that there are pumpkins with faces involved, so I got you a present." He picked up the box, and Cloud peered nervously at what looked like air holes in it. "Do you want me to open it for you?"
Cloud scrunched up his face at Sephiroth. He could open his own present. He wasn't scared.
"Then, go ahead, I'll hold it still for you."
Sephiroth held the bottom of the box while Cloud got the top open. Inside was a weird-looking orange ball with white dangly things on the bottom. Sephiroth lifted it up by a pink bow that was attached to the top of the orange and held it up for Cloud to see. A pair of eyes opened on the front of the orange part and Cloud stared at it in shock. It was alive!
"It's called a Dorky Face. Your eyes are as big as saucers—don't worry, it won't hurt you."
If Sephiroth said it wouldn't hurt him, it wouldn't. Cloud reached out cautiously and poked at it. The part he poked scrunched up and a mouth opened—it looked like it was laughing. He turned around and looked at Sephiroth while pointing to himself. Was it really for him? Where had it come from?
"Do you like it?"
Cloud nodded vigorously. It was a present just for him, so of course he liked it. He remembered presents. And pets. Live things were pets. He reached out again and held it carefully in his hand. It was very light, almost as though it was filled with air, and it was difficult to actually hold it.
"I saw them a few days ago when I was out on patrol." Sephiroth let go of the bow and returned to resting his chin on Cloud's shoulder. The thing stayed in Cloud's hand, however, and even seemed to sink down a little bit. "One of the locals said they gather in abandoned buildings because there's little air movement and plenty of food. Their heads look like pumpkins, so I thought it would be a good gift for this 'Halloween'."
Cloud set his pet down on his lap and mimed eating, then pointed at it.
"They eat bugs. Winter's coming soon, so I'll make sure to make arrangements for some freeze-dried bugs to come in with our next supply shipment. For now, I think it'll be fine hunting for itself."
Their tent was one of the nicer ones, and Cloud swept it out every couple of days, but there were still a lot of little bugs that would hide in the corners. If he took it outside, there would be even more—Wutai had a lot of bugs. Maybe it would eat the big scary ones that sometimes crawled into his shoes.
"Speaking of food, are you hungry?" When Cloud nodded, Sephiroth picked him up and set him on his feet. His pet bounced off his lap and floated next to his head. Cloud pointed to it, then pointed to the door, asking Sephiroth with his eyes. "You can bring it if you want, but you have to be careful with it outside. If it's windy, it'll accidentally blow away."
Cloud frowned for a moment before coming up with a solution. He ran over to Sephiroth's desk and pulled out a ball of string and a pair of scissors. He held up the string and touched the pink bow part.
"Good idea. I'll tie a loop at one end so you can attach it to the ribbon yourself." Sephiroth held out his hand for the string.
Cloud handed them over, but held up his hand with his fingers together and his palm facing Sephiroth. Sephiroth duly paused, recognizing Cloud's signal for 'wait'. Cloud pulled up on his hair and made a pained face; he didn't want to tie anything to his pet's head if it was going to hurt.
"I don't think it's painful..." Sephiroth looked carefully at the connection. "It didn't mind me picking it up by the ribbon. I think if you don't pull hard on it, it'll be okay. Maybe hold it by its body if it's really windy, just in case."
Cloud nodded and waited while Sephiroth cut a nice length off the ball and tied a loop in one end of it. Knots were hard, but he could manage a loop with one hand. His pet held very still while Cloud looped it through the ribbon and pulled it snug, but not tight. It was well trained... or it just liked floating in one spot, Cloud wasn't sure. He supposed that if Sephiroth had found it, it probably hadn't been trained. He took a few steps and smiled at Sephiroth when it bobbed after him. Having a friend for while Sephiroth was away would be nice.
Sephiroth headed for the meal line and kept an eye on Cloud as he led the Dorky Face over to the table in the far corner where they usually sat. Most people left Cloud alone, but it never hurt to keep watch.
"What's Cloud got?"
Sephiroth turned as Kunsel came up behind him. "His Halloween present. One of those Dorky Face things that we've been seeing in the abandoned villages. I caught it for him this afternoon."
"Halloween present?" Kunsel pulled off his helmet and tucked it under his arm, shaking his hair out of his eyes.
"You said it was a holiday. You get people presents for holidays, right?" Sephiroth frowned; he had been certain that was the right thing to do for holidays.
"Um, well, it's not really a present sort of—never mind. Yes, presents are for holidays. A Dorky Face, you said? Is that safe?"
He nodded as the line moved forward, and he grabbed two trays. "I cast Silence on it. There's nothing it can do to hurt him. But don't tell Cloud; I don't know how he'd react to that."
"Yeah... that might be an issue."
"He likes it," Sephiroth said, trying to justify his choice, "And it hasn't tried to escape. I made sure it was one of the little ones, so it's probably not afraid of people yet. The locals said they don't attack anyone unless they're frightened."
"Relax, sir, I'm not about to send you to the firing squad for rendering a monster harmless."
"You can't—" Oh. He understood. It was a joke. Sephiroth hoisted the loaded meal trays and headed over to Cloud. Kunsel would follow him, but that was all right. Cloud liked it when Kunsel joined them at meals.
Cloud was petting the Dorky Face's top when he sat down, but he stopped and started rummaging through his pockets almost immediately.
"I've got your notebook here," Sephiroth said, taking it out of his breast pocket. Cloud had left it behind when they left the tent, too fascinated by his present to think of it.
Cloud grabbed for it and wrote excitedly, It caught a mosquito and ate it up!
"Cool!" Kunsel said as he sat down and began digging into his meal. "That sounds handy. Maybe I should get one for in my tent. There's been a mosquito in there for the past three nights and it's driving me crazy."
We can come over to visit. Cloud smiled proudly and patted the Dorky Face again.
"Even better. I never was very good at keeping pets. Have you thought of a name for it?"
Cloud's eyes went wide, and moments later, his eyebrows furrowed and he seemed to be deep in concentration. Sephiroth hadn't even considered that it would need a name. Apparently, Cloud hadn't, either.
"Eat your dinner while you're thinking," Sephiroth said, tapping the edge of Cloud's tray.
Cloud ate distractedly and didn't pay any attention to the conversations as people stopped by to chat with Kunsel. Finally, as he was finishing up the last of his potatoes, he took up his pen again.
"Eggplant? You're calling it Eggplant?"
Sephiroth frowned at Kunsel. What was wrong with that? Was it a bad name for a pet?
Cloud just nodded once and tapped the name.
"Why Eggplant?" Kunsel asked.
He looks like a pumpkin, so I thought I would call him Pumpkin, but we had pumpkin pie for dessert last week, and everybody liked it and wanted more. If his name was Pumpkin, people might want to eat him.
"Okay, I don't really follow that line of logic, but fair enough. Pumpkin is a dangerous name. Eggplant's not?"
Everyone always complains when there's eggplant. It's yucky. If his name is Eggplant, no one will eat him.
Kunsel looked at him with a bewildered expression, and Sephiroth shrugged. "Sounds like a good name to me."
Everyone has to call him Eggplant for me so he learns his name. I don't think he can read.
"All right." Kunsel gave his head a shake and reached over the table to pat the Dorky Face. "Hello, Eggplant. Nice to meet you. Please come to my tent and eat the mosquitoes in it."
A/N: Dorky Faces, y u so silly? Thanks to Urplesquirrel for brainstorming with me about the lifestyles of the orange and the floaty.