A/N For Enide-Dear's Family Bliss universe contest!!! I hope you enjoy it, Enide!
Pairings: ValenWind and Kadaj/Reno!
Summary: Moments of strife and reconciliation in the ValenWind household.
Stepping on Toes
In the end, it was inevitable that they would hurt one another. There were too many memories, too much resentment, too much pent-up paranoia, and far too much pain for it to go any other way.
Hurting each other was inevitable. It was all about what happened next.
“Yer broodin’ again.” Cid commented, leaning into Vincent’s space at the table. “Thought we’d worked through the broodin’ phase.”
“Some things are worth consideration.” Vincent kept his voice even and his eyes low.
“Come on, don’t give me that.” Cid complained, scooting his chair closer. “The boys are out playin’ or fuckin’ or pesterin’ the neighbors. No reason to hold back on me, Vince.”
“Perhaps I simply don’t want to talk about it.”
“Perhaps yer givin’ me the runaround an’ feeling sorry for yerself.” Cid said in a halfway snide mimicry.
Under the table, Vincent’s gauntleted hand curled in agitation.
“I’d prefer to be alone, Chief.” He forced his voice to be kind—forced his words to be gentle.
Cid, to his credit, stopped halfway through sliding his hand under Vincent’s shirt. His eyes flicked up from where they’d been enjoying the pale column of Vincent’s neck, and met his gaze.
“Would ya really?” Cid asked after a moment, his gruff voice unsuited to such quiet, uncertain questions.
“Sometimes. I wasn’t made for this. For family life.”
“Ya weren’t ‘made’ at all.” Cids lips pulled down in a frown, and he removed his touch from Vincent to fish out a cigarette. “Jest because He fiddled around with ya—”
“I was not referring to Hojo’s experiments.” Vincent tucked his chin, hiding behind the mantel of his increasingly sentient cape. “Even before that. There is a reason I did not have a partner in the Turks. I have always been a solitary person.”
“What, I’m crampin’ yer style?” Cid demanded, flipping open his lighter. The fire reflected dancing in his blue eyes, highlighting his annoyance.
“You make me tired sometimes.” Vincent replied, too honestly. “It would be nice to know that I could leave sometimes without you falling apart, or relapsing into alcoholism, or fighting with the boys.”
“Ya jest spent forever layin’ upstairs while I hunted down yer demons! No one fell apart then, did they?”
“Forgive me. I do not mean to sound ungrateful for what we have. But Cid, try to understand. I know to you I was away, and not with you. But to me that time was simply nonexistent. Like being in the coffin again.”
“Yer askin’ for a break?” Cid asked softly.
“I just want some time.” Vincent replied. “You have your work and your workshop. Spaces that are yours at least in spirit, and only shared by others. I would like time to find that freedom for myself.”
Cid took a long drag, and Vincent fel disappointment well inside himself at the way the man obviously closed himself off as he inhaled.
“Well shit, Vince.” he drawled, too casual to be true. “I ain’t never had th’ power ta trap ya here.”
Vincent didn’t know how to fix the look in Cid’s eyes. So instead he did as he’d wanted to for weeks. He fled his safe home in search of the loneliness that he sometimes found himself missing.
“My bad.” Reno gasped, clinging to Kadaj’s wrist, legs thrashing as the remnant held him off the ground by his neck. He did it as though Reno weighed nothing. The flaring eyes glaring up at him flickered with rage.
“Don’t call me that.” Kadaj hissed, his lips pulled back in rage, baring sharp bone-white teeth.
“Never again.” Reno swore, his voice choked by the fingers slowly tightening around his throat.
Kadaj put him down, and stood in place breathing hard while Reno escaped the room.
Later, Reno grabbed them both a beer from his apartment’s fridge, and clinked the bottles lightly together. Swallowing hurt after the rough treatment, but he was a Turk. He was used to pain. Kadaj grimaced at the taste of the beverage, but drank none the less. There were some memories that needed burying so badly that any shovel would do. Reno almost offered him a hit of his prized drug stache, but he’d avoid it if he could. Highwind might never forgive him for that.
“Do you have a cure materia?” Kadaj muttered over the edge of the bottle after half an hour and two beers had passed for them both.
“Yeah.” Reno said with a shrug. His voice sounded rough and wrong in his ears. “Slotted in my EMR.”
Kadaj left the table without a word, and Reno closed his eyes, breathing, trying to trust. Kadaj wouldn’t club him over the head with the mag rod. Probably. Even if he did, he almost certainly wouldn’t kill him with the hit. Again, probably. But then, he hadn’t thought the remnant would try to murder him for the ‘Little Seph’ comment earlier that night either.
When the chair across from him scraped back, Reno looked up in time to watch Kadaj hold the materia over his arm, watching Reno closely. Their eyes met and locked together. Then Kadaj slowly sank the orb into his forearm as though he were no more substantial than pudding. But Reno had felt and kissed and gripped that forearm—he knew that it was as solid as his own.
He inhaled deeply at the rush of healing magic that poured over him. The touch of Kadaj’s spell sent shivers down his spine, but it eased the ache in his throat.
“Never again.” Kadaj whispered.
“Never again.” Reno agreed.
Kadaj liked his Turk lover’s scars. They were so human, so fragile, so Reno. It was easy to kiss them and fondle them and play with them, and Reno seemed to revel in his brushes with death.
‘Makes me feel alive, yo.’ He always drawled with hooded, well-pleased eyes.
They had the house to themselves for once, at last, and Kadaj did love having the home-turf advantage so dearly. It was fine being in Reno’s apartment, but this bed smelled like him, and the act of claiming his lover meant that much more when it was on his own territory.
“You gunna kiss me everywhere but my dick?” Reno asked, sprawled lazily amid the blankets, his little shivers of desire betraying how deeply he wanted Kadaj’s touch.
“Well, now that you mention it.” Kadaj summoned his wickedest grin, pressing his cheek back into Reno’s knee, drawing his teeth over the surgical scar there from when he’d ripped a tendon years ago.
“Ah fuck, yo.” Reno’s grin was rakish and pleasant, despite the way he twisted just a little in want. “You’re killin’ me here.”
“That’s the plan, Turk.” Kadaj replied, biting Reno’s ankle lightly.
“Hey, woah, easy on the biting.” Reno’s voice shifted in pitch, but Kadaj rolled his eyes, sliding down to his Turk’s foot.
The stroked a thumb over the missing toes, felt Reno shiver in tension. He smirked as he lowered his lips, nipping lightly at the scar. Reno hissed in a breath, stiffening, and Kadaj blinked, looking up at him, surprised it had such a potent effect on him.
He went still when he saw Reno’s face.
The redhead had gone sheet white, his eyes wide and glassy, his lips parted. Even as Kadaj watched in growing confusion, he started to tremble. Actually tremble. As though he were afraid.
It wasn’t right. Kadaj couldn’t make it mesh with the Turk he knew. He couldn’t understand how this could be the same cocky Reno who’d smiled through surgeries, who’d laid beside not only him but his wildcat brothers with a lazy confidence that in no way reflected his actual strength. He’d never seen him afraid. Only seen him shocked once or twice. He pulled back, hands withdrawing slowly.
“Reno?” He asked after a long moment, edging closer.
A blink of those glazed eyes answered him, a shuddering breath dragged from between shaking lips. Kadaj pressed his hand very lightly to the center of Reno’s chest, and held it there, feeling the thready, panicked pulse under his fingers. He didn’t know what to do with this. Didn’t know how to help or what to say. But he knew what he would do for his brothers, and that would have to do.
He slid his other hand into Reno’s hair, and drew him slowly forward, placing a soft kiss on his forehead. A ragged breath gasped in from the body below him answered the touch, and it was followed by another. Kadaj stayed still, one hand in Reno’s hair, one on his chest, watching, waiting for his Turk to fight through his mind and back to him.
“When I say easy on the biting,” Reno finally said, the words trembling as though he were freezing to death in the cold. “I mean it.”
“Got it.” Kadaj choked back on the unwelcome emotions that had risen in him with Reno’s panic. “No need to be dramatic about it.”
“Brat.” Reno growled, inhaling a deeper breath.
Kadaj could never say it. Could never apologize for causing the flashback. But he pressed his hand over Reno’s heart while he calmed down, and he stroked his hair gently instead of yanking and pulling. He waited, almost patiently, while the Turk calmed down. It was the closest he could ever come.
He hoped that Reno understood the apology. He hoped he understood the endearment.
“Right.” Reno finally snarled, not pulling away but instead gripping Kadaj tightly and turning them over to hover over him, still pale, but grinning again, his eyes sparkling. “You raise the memories, you drive ‘em out, yo.”
Vincent came home some time later with flowers. Cid crushed the poor bouquet between them the moment his husband stepped into the room. Even Yazoo eventually averted his eyes from the passion of the kiss they shared.
Yazoo and Loz didn’t quite understand the levels of drama between their family. The two of them settled most of their troubles, their flashbacks, and their arguments without ever saying a word. Or, at least without saying much. “You’re beautiful” would work wonders on Yazoo. “I think you’re clever” always seemed to soften Loz.
So though they were kind to Kadaj when he pouted, and made extra sure to keep Cid busy when he moped, and made Vincent tea when they could, it was never fully understood for them. What they did understand was the moment it ended. Because in the end, they had come to accept their new normal—the chaos of Cid and Reno yelling at each other while Kadaj grinned pleasantly with wicked delight in his eyes, and the warm low sound of Vincent laughing into his breakfast.