Author's Notes: These two villains are poetry in motion, and I don't think there are enough fics out there with them as a pairing. I decided to write one, as they have some things in common (both of them had a "father" that used them and experimented on them), I thought they might make an interesting pairing.

Sympathy for the Damned

Part 18

By Xenobia


"Wake up, Kuja."

Kuja swatted feebly at the hand that was shaking his shoulder. The hand shook harder, and the deep voice said; "Donít make me resort to less pleasant ways of getting you out of bed."

Kuja grumbled crankily and blindly grabbed a pillow, stuffing it over his head. The hand left his shoulder, and he sighed and started to drift back into pleasant dreams of being pampered on a couch, watching an opera with a glass of wine in his hand. The sudden smack of a large hand cracking against his left butt cheek rudely jerked the sorcerer from the dream, and he yelped and tore the pillow off of his head to glare at Sephiroth.

The swordsman was fully dressed and staring down at him with a grim expression on his handsome face. He wore the same outfit that he had been wearing when Kuja first arrived; long, black coat, somewhat baggy pants which were stuffed into calf-high, sturdy military boots, and those shoulder guards that still seemed too large to Kuja. Sephirothís Masamune was strapped to his back securely, and his gorgeous, knee-length hair was bound in a tight braid.

Kuja blinked up at him and frowned. He glanced out the window, noting that the sky was still dark. "Are you having another episode, lover? Youíre acting awfully peculiar." He studied his companionís bright eyes, but there was no sign of aggression or insanity in them. They were intense with some unknown purpose, but over all, Sephy seemed perfectly rational.

"Get dressed. Weíre leaving at dawnís light."

Kuja dragged some wayward hair out of his eyes and sat up. He blinked again. "Leaving? Leaving for where?"

The emerald gaze became hooded. "Home."

Kuja gaped at his tall friend. "Home? Wait a moment, Sephiroth...when you say Ďhomeí, are you talking about my home or yours?"

"Yours. I can never return to mine."

Kujaís mind was analyzing the statement crudely. He narrowed his eyes at Sephiroth dubiously. "Iím afraid I donít intend to budge until you explain exactly what youíre talking about. You told me that there was no way out of this place, and now youíre dressed for war and talking about going home as casually as if I should expect an airship waiting outside to take us."

Sephiroth sighed and looked up at the ceiling. "I swear, if you were a soldier under my command, Iíd have you doing pushups until you passed out! You are so fucking beligerent!" He looked at Kuja again, and there was a guarded quality in his expression. "Since youíre so determined to know every little detail, Iíll explain further...but once Iím done, I want you to move your little ass and get dressed. Is that understood?"

Kuja nodded convulsively, chagrined by the commanding tone in his loverís voice.

Sephiroth relaxed a bit upon seeing that no further arguments would be forthcoming until he finished explaining things. "I lied to you. Your theory concerning a portal out of here beyond the mountains was correct. The portal to Gaia is just over the mountain range, but reaching it is going to be a massive test of endurance and luck. We have to go while itís light out, and move as fast as we can. Those...things out there are weak and confused in daylight. Theyíll try to stop us, but they canít manifest completely until it gets dark. Thatís why reaching the mountains by sunset is so important."

"But, you said that you tried once already, and you didnít make it in time," Kuja reminded him softly. He believed most of what Sephiroth was saying, but something just didnít add up right. Confronting the man for lying to him would have to wait. Kuja had already suspected his lover of covering up the truth, anyway.

"I wasnít sure before, and I didnít travel at the right time. Iíve been thinking about it, and if we leave soon enough and keep a steady pace, we have a good chance of reaching the foot of those mountains by dusk. Once there, we have a chance. You may have noticed that those manifestations arenít particularly focused or graceful. Their sheer numbers is what makes them so dangerous. They arenít fast, and I doubt they would be able to pursue us easily up the mountain ridge. We just have to reach a defendable position before they come out full force."

His gaze slid over Kujaís naked body and narrowed. It wasnít a lusty examination. The bright eyes were business-like and contemplative. He frowned.

"What?" Kuja questioned, looking down at his own body in confusion.

"Iím debating on whether you can handle the pace or not," Sephiroth replied bluntly, eyeing the genomeís graceful form with detached appraisal. "Youíre in good shape, but somehow I donít think youíve ever been subjected to long marches over hot terrain. Weíre going to have to keep that skin of yours shielded too. Youíd burn to a crisp in that sun before we could reach shade, otherwise."

Kuja put his hands on his hips and tossed his hair. "You sir, have underestimated me for the last time! I may look pretty and soft and weak, but I was made to withstand worse punishments than sunburn and long walks. Give me a bit of credit, Sephy." He shivered and hugged himself. "Yes, Iíve endured far worse things."

Sephirothís expression softened the slightest bit, and he nodded in understanding. As a living experiment himself, he could easily guess what sort of things Kuja had endured while being primed up to become and Angel of Death. "Use that, then. We wonít have our powers to rely on, so if it comes down to fighting, I want you to think about all those things that were done to you and use your anger against them. It will get ugly, brutal and lethal if we get surrounded, and neither of us can afford any weakness." He sat down beside Kuja, who was nodding and still hugging himself.

"Look at me."

Kuja did so, and Sephiroth cupped his chin and stared into his eyes gravely. "I know youíve got the strength to pull this off, Kuja. If you didnít, you wouldnít have survived for as long as you have. Youíre a fighter, like me. All you have to do right now is decide whether you WANT to fight for this. Do you want to?"

Kuja swallowed and straightened up. "Of course."

Sephiroth nodded in approval and briefly stroked his cheek. "Good. Weíve got to go within an hour. We have to travel lightly, so donít go packing a bunch of shit we donít need, okay?"

Kuja smirked. "What is your definition of Ďneedí?" He glanced over at the bottle of lavender oil that was still lying on the floor at the foot of the bed.

"Quit your playing and get serious. Youíre smart enough to know what I mean."


"How about this?" Kuja stood in his robe and pulled out yet another outfit for Sephirothís inspection.

Sephiroth sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "No, that wonít do either. This isnít a fashion outing, Kuja. Donít you have anything practical in there?"

Kuja pouted thoughtfully and replaced the flowing, skimpy garments back in the wardrobe. "Iíve made all of my clothes in the style that Iím most comfortable with, Sephy. I...I suppose Iím not much of a military strategist."

Sephiroth smiled in spite of himself. It was rare to see Kuja contrite, and though he didnít enjoy the genome putting himself down, he couldnít help but fall in love with the expression of innocent dismay on his lover's face. That carefree demeanor was part of what made the genome so strong, after all. As pressed for time as they were, Seph had to admire the way Kuja always managed to have fun no matter what situation he was in.

"Donít worry. Weíll find something. I just donít want you wearing anything that can catch. Your problem is you mix tight-fitting pieces with loose ones. What about that black bodysuit you made when you first came here? Do you still have that, or did you alter it?"

Kuja brightened. "Iíve still got it. Itís somewhere in here." He fished around among the hanging clothing, cursing now and then and muttering "what was I thinking with this one?" when he found an outfit he wasnít fond of. Sephiroth shook his head and grinned, glad that they had already packed a light pack before turning to clothing. If he had realized it would take this long for Kuja to find appropriate clothes, he would have chosen to wait another day. As it was, there was no turning back now. Kuja was alive with determined energy, and now that the goal was in sight, there would be no delaying.

"Here it is," Kuja sighed with relief as he produced the bodysuit. "Will this do?"

Sephiroth examined the outfit with critical eyes. Though there were a lot of openings in it, there were no loose parts that could catch on anything. "Itíll have to. Weíll have to find a jacket or something to cover up the exposed parts, so that you donít burn."

Kuja smiled at him. "So protective of me," he sighed theatrically.

Sephiroth snorted. "Iím just being practical. You wonít think Iím so chivalrous once weíre out there and moving. Iím going to drill your ass if you start lagging."

Kuja leered and looked purposely below the tall manís waistline. "I would never object to having my ass drilled by you, Sephy."

Sephiroth rolled his eyes. "Come on, get dressed. Weíre running out of time and we still need to find a weapon for you. Remember, you canít rely on your magic once weíre outside these walls."

Kuja sobered. "I know that. I do know how to use some weapons, Sephiroth. I prefer using my magic, but I can handle knives and such. Not as well as you, but it should suffice."

"Good. I need to know you can defend yourself if I fail to."

Kuja stared at him, touched and surprised by his statement. Sephiroth wasnít concerned about his own safety at all, it seemed. All of this preparation seemed to be centered on making the trip as safe as possible for Kuja.

"Iím going to defend you too, you know." Kuja said past an annoying lump in his throat.

"Yeah, I know. Letís go and find something for you to use."


-To be continued

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