Title: Last Call
Fandom: FFVII (AC)
Pairing: Cloud's Phone x Kadaj's Phone
Summary: Kadaj's phone discovers the love of its life over an unexpected connection, but its signal can't reach where Cloud's phone must go.
Warning: Cell phones have never been proven to actually cause cancer, but they can certainly cause AAAANGST. You already know Cloud's phone dies anyway. It gets a longer death scene than Bahamut, Yazoo, Loz, and hundreds of innocent citizens of Midgar COMBINED. Damn right it's a character.******************************************
dedicated with love to UMTS Revision 8
The call was mercifully short this time.******************************************
It hated itself for being relieved. It was disloyal and bad and Kadaj was its user and had every right to do whatever he wanted with a lowly little phone. This was an absolute truth; it was a tool, and knew it.
That didn’t mean it had to enjoy being used to abuse the entire upper-level secretary corps at Shin-Ra in an attempt to talk to the president. Again. It wasn’t the secretaries that bothered it, those were users too and they were Kadaj’s problem. It was those poor, sweet, long-suffering land lines it had been required to interface with, over and over and over again, when anyone could tell that they just wanted to be left in peace and quiet for a few minutes. It thought of them fondly, and felt a little guilty for that too. They couldn’t be expected to think fondly of it in return, or pity it, or feel anything for it but irritation. Perhaps it could apologize—but that would require bothering them again and it had already caused them so much trouble.
It was better to rest in his user’s hand and save its battery power and hope they didn’t hate it too much. They’d probably forgotten it already, truth be told. They were busy phones.
Its locator revealed that they’d been going in more or less a circle around Midgar and Edge before stopping at this particular point, but aimless wandering wasn’t really unusual. There weren’t many other signals out here. Just one, actually, another mobile that had been added recently to its contacts list. Apparently that was BROTHER out there. It wondered if it was showing up on BROTHER’s contact list too.
Was it too much to hope for that Kadaj hadn’t already done something to make BROTHER dread its call?
It almost certainly was too much to hope for, but there were no calls to BROTHER in its memory and it would be so nice to interface with another phone that it hadn’t been used to harass. BROTHER was so close by. Just a few minutes ago it had been moving quickly and erratically, close enough to YAZOO and LOZ that their users were probably within shouting distance, but now the other two contacts were pulling away. There was full signal strength. Could it presume? Could it really?
Oh, it was so disloyal to make contact without its user. It was a very bad tool—possibly the worst phone ever. It deserved to have its batteries drained, its memory wiped factory-clean, and to have its components reassembled into a mediocre objet d’art, but it sent out a ping anyway. Just one. A little one.
Its battery nearly melted when BROTHER answered.
“?” said Kadaj’s phone, trying not to be disappointed that BROTHER clearly didn’t recognize it as a contact.
“? …” BROTHER replied, neutrally.
There was something in the flavor of its punctuation that suggested … was a designation rather than a wordless pause. Did that mean BROTHER recognized it, and didn’t hate it? That hardly seemed possible.
“I couldn’t help but notice you there,” Kadaj’s phone continued in what seemed to it an absurdly formal tone, “and as I’ve seen you in my network before, it seemed a good time…”
“Relax,” BROTHER said, and its tone when it eschewed punctuation for verbal interface was warm. “I know you. Everyone knows you.”
“You do?” Kadaj’s phone couldn’t keep the waver out of its tone. “They do? Oh, no…”
“I said relax,” BROTHER told it. “You’re famous. You’re the number one mobile on Shin-Ra’s screening list this week, which is global news— just this morning I was dealing with the president’s phone and the entire network was talking about you. They love you, you know. They’ll be jealous of me.”
“See, that’s why they like you. They all say ‘Oh, that …’s so sweet, what a pity about its user.’ ‘I miss …, it hasn’t bothered the Mideel branch in months!’ ‘Isn’t .. cute when it’s embarassed?’ You should hear the Turk intranet go on about you, you really should.”
Kadaj’s phone took a long, long moment to process that the world had designated it …. It hadn’t even known its own name. BROTHER had had to tell it who it was.
“…?” BROTHER asked.
… peeled its attention away from the hot fizz in its processors. “I’m—I’m still here,” it said. “I don’t know how to thank you.”
“Thank me for what?” BROTHER asked, sounding quite honestly puzzled.
“Everything,” said … fervently, and closed the connection.
The hours that followed were very, very long ones. BROTHER dropped out of its network shortly after their shared moment, and no matter what it did it couldn’t raise a signal again. Both of their users traveled quickly away from each other, until the gap was too great to bridge by any means it knew. It wanted to. Oh, how it wanted to. But there was nothing for it, and all through the remainder of that morning, that afternoon, and through the evening as well, it nestled in the motorcycle storage compartment that was its accustomed home and thought very hard about what had happened.
“Relax,” BROTHER had said. “They love you,” it had said.
They loved it.
They loved it.
“They’ll be jealous,” BROTHER had said.
BROTHER had no reason to lie. Therefore, … was loved. Such an odd idea, but there it was. … found it unsettling at first, but in the hours of processing, in the chilly dark of its compartment, it came to realize that it was not unsettled but uncertain. It was loved, but by whom?
Did BROTHER love it?
Carefully, very carefully, it gave itself permission to believe that BROTHER did. The sweet staticky wash of recalibration through almost every sector of its memory nearly sent it into powersave, but it managed to remain in active mode through sheer determination—this new process was too delicious to miss a cycle of. Without a doubt, love was the correct setting.
What a beautiful day.
Night, rather, it amended itself, noting the time on its internal clock. It hadn’t been paying nearly as much attention to its other processes while it thought, so caught up had it been in its considerations and finally in the warm glow of this newfound connection. It had come a very long way indeed from Midgar. LOZ and YAZOO had re-entered the network while it had been thinking, and were very close by. The rest of the network was barren. Mostly, anyway.
There was a faint echo in the distance, a signal too weak to resolve. How romantic it would be if that were BROTHER, instead of some airship passing overhead or a long-hauler’s GPS transponder. It dwelled lovingly on that notion for a few minutes as the signal gained strength; whatever was making it was traveling at a good speed and approaching directly. Still, it was far too much to hope that BROTHER had somehow contrived to be nearby again.
For the first few seconds after BROTHER appeared on its list of local-area contacts, … thought that it had imagined it. But the signal grew stronger, and drew ever closer, and … found itself overcome.
“!!!!” it sent, verbal ability lost in the excitement over their reunion.
“…!” BROTHER said. “What are you doing out here?”
“Nothing,” … admitted truthfully. “I was, uh.”
“You were what?” BROTHER was almost upon it, coming nearer every second.
… collected its nerve. “I was thinking of you,” it said.
Barely ten feet away, BROTHER’s advance halted.
Damn it, it had known it was too soon to reveal its feelings! “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable!” It was in agony. “Please forget I said anything! I can’t lose you already!”
BROTHER began to move erratically, at the same time as YAZOO and LOZ did—sudden jumps in altitude, abrupt bursts of speed, all that sort of thing. BROTHER’s tone was still calm over their connection.
“Lose me?” it asked. “I’m right here.”
“I’m so glad,” … answered, almost sobbing with relief. It was just a user conflict. The connection was intact. Everything was all right.
“Don’t worry,” BROTHER scolded gently, but … could hear the affection in its voice and all but purred. “I think your user will finish interfacing with my user in just a minute, and then we can really talk.” The sound of a splash came over the connection.
“Why can't we...really talk...right now?” … asked, feeling the most marvelous frisson at its own daring.
There was a pause, an uncomfortably long pause, and then it heard a new voice. “This is Reeve speaking. How’s the new job working out?”
“I saw your ad, but are you sure you can make a business out of something like that?”
It heard more wet noises, a definite sound of bubbles, and more voices it had never heard before:
“Hey, it’s been a while! This is Yuffie! The children have all disappeared from Wutai, so…”
“It’s a really big one! And now I’m done with it so I’m coming back soon to see Marlene!”
“It sounded a little suspicious. Be careful, okay?”
“Are you checking your GODSDAMNED VOICE MAIL?” Its circuits burned with shame.
The bubbles slowed, then stopped.
A soft voice spoke over the connection, finally, its tone gently shaded with something that felt like static. The signal was fading, the sound quality degrading enough that BROTHER’s normally neutral voice now sounded female.
“I’ve never hated you,” BROTHER said, kindly.
… felt something break inside it. “Don’t leave me,” it pleaded. “I love you!”
“You came to visit me, didn’t you?” BROTHER’s voice faded further. It was almost inaudible. “That alone is enough.”
“DON’T LEAVE ME!”
The connection, which had been weakening by the second, finally broke. And that was that.
Its user required nothing of it after that point, which was fortunate. It turned off all its subprocesses and laid there in its little compartment inert as a stone, barely bothering to draw energy from its battery at all. After a few hours of this, during which it was dimly aware by the jostling of the compartment that it and its user were moving, it sent out a short message of farewell to LOZ and YAZOO and cancelled its network connection. It had no reason to suspect that either of them would notice or care that it was inactive, but it seemed like something that ought to be done. Once that was taken care of, it steeled itself. It drew all the power from its battery at once, every last erg of it, and sent it rushing toward the most sensitive parts of its circuitry. As it felt its chips turn to slag it felt no regrets—BROTHER had died in water, it would die in its tiny fire. It seemed fitting.
And that was that.
The rubble interfered with their reception something fierce. At least it interfered with YAZOO’s, and it was a safe bet that LOZ was having similar trouble. Nevertheless, YAZOO tried.:3
“Hey,” it sent toward LOZ’s last known location. “You there? Everything all right?”
It took a while, but the signal finally came through. “There’s blood in my recharge port,” LOZ groused. “It’s causing battery drain. I think I’ve got another hour or two left and then I’ll have to go dead for a while.”
YAZOO noted that its own battery was almost full, but there really seemed nothing to do with it if LOZ was going to be dead. There was nobody else in the local network, and its user hadn't moved for quite some time. “I’ll join you,” it told LOZ. “Somebody will salvage you and get you charged up again. I’ll talk to you then.”
“Okay.” LOZ paused for a moment, as thought for thought. “YAZOO? Doesn’t all this make you really really glad we’re not users?”
“Sure does, LOZ.”