Final Fantasy - All Series Fan Fiction ❯ Sympathy for the Damned ❯ Part 24 ( Chapter 24 )
"Sympathy for the damned"
It took two days for Kuja to awake fully, and Dr. Tot took shifts with Zidane to watch over him. After running several tests, the doctor was certain that Kuja was completely free of any deteriorating conditions. Zidane stayed by the other genome's side as often as he could without neglecting his wife and responsibilities. He was happy that Kuja awakened on his shift. He smiled down at the sorcerer as Kuja's long, pale lashes fluttered and his sapphire eyes blinked open.
"Welcome back. Took you long enough."
Kuja frowned and blinked again, trying to bring the blurred face hovering over him into focus. "Z-Zidane?"
"Yeah, that's me. You've been out for a couple of days. How are you feeling?"
Kuja cast a look around the room, taking in the elegant, expensive curtains, the silk sheets he was lying on, and the tapestries. "I'm in Alexandria." It wasn't a question.
Zidane hated the flat, dead tone of Kuja's voice. "That's right. You fell out of a portal in mid air, and we brought you back here and looked after you. Garnet says you're welcome to stay as long as you don't cause any trouble."
Kuja snorted. "How very generous of her. I suppose I'm under house arrest, as it were?"
Zidane lowered his eyes and flushed a little. "Well, just until Dagger's satisfied that you won't go back to your old, wicked ways."
"Which is it, Garnet or Dagger? She doesn't have two personalities raging in that pretty head of hers, does she?"
Zidane laughed, relieved to hear the old, dry sarcasm returning to the sorcerer's voice. "I kind of think of her as both. When it's just the two of us, she's Dagger to me. When she's doing some kind of queenly business, she's Garnet. In a way, I guess you could say she's two people. She has to act a certain way when she's taking care of her responsibilities."
Kuja turned his head and looked out the window, watching the clouds in the sky. "That makes sense. I can't tell you what a trial it is to love someone who actually has two personalities." He went silent and bit his lip, and Zidane could see the glisten of tears forming in his eyes.
"Hey, you're safe now," the former thief said awkwardly, patting his companion's limp, bandaged hand. "Nobody's going to hurt you again." He didn't quite understand what Kuja had been hinting, but he got the mistaken impression that the other genome had been abused in his time away.
"Hurt me? No, I wasn't hurt. He never hurt me…not really."
"Who, Kuja? Where have you been for all these years?"
Kuja gave him a suspicious look. "How much time has passed?"
"Five years. Can you tell me where you've been?"
Kuja heaved a trembling sigh and looked away again. " Five years. Time must have passed more quickly here than it did there. I've been in hell…and heaven. Odd, how it only seems like I was there for a few weeks, and yet I found someone I could connect with, for once in my life. He's lost, now. I have no ambition, Zidane. As much as I hated Garland, he gave me purpose. I don't even have that, anymore!"
"Take it easy," Zidane said nervously as Kuja's voice began to rise. "Do you really need someone else to give you a reason to exist? Why not do it on your own terms, Kuja?"
"Because I don't bloody want to, all right? I've lost the only person that ever made me feel…made me feel…" He couldn't describe it, and his throat was closing up in grief. Kuja sat up and began to weep softly, covering his face with his bandaged hands.
Completely confused, but aching for the sorcerer's pain, Zidane carefully scooted onto the edge of the bed and put his arm around him. "I'm sorry. I don't know what you've been through, but I'm sorry anyway. Will you tell me about it, or is it too soon?"
Kuja sniffled and thought about it for a moment. He did need to talk about it, even though he had his doubts over whether Zidane would believe any of it. "Very well, but I warn you, it's going to sound insane. There will be no long-sleeved jackets ordered for me, no matter how mad you think I am. Is that clear?"
"Transparent. I promise I would never have you committed, Kuja."
The sorcerer searched Zidane's face for a moment, then nodded in satisfaction and wiped his streaming eyes. "Okay. Well, as you've probably guessed, I didn't die in the Iifa tree as I expected to. Some powerful beings transported me to another world and stuck me in what I at first thought was a holiday resort. Don't ask me who or what they were, because I'm still trying to work that out myself. At any rate, the little tropical getaway was actually a prison set up for the criminally insane, and I wasn't alone…"
Kuja went on to tell the rest of the story, and by the time he was finished, the sun was setting and it was time for dinner. Zidane tried not to be surprised at the sorcerer's description of his relationship with the mysterious swordsman named Sephiroth, but even as feminine as Kuja was, he didn't quite know what to do with the information. "So, you and this Sephiroth guy…er…you…" He flushed and averted his eyes as Kuja smirked at him.
"We certainly did! Many, many times. Don't tell me you weren't aware that my tastes run both ways, Zidane."
Zidane shrugged. "I always suspected it, but it's not something I'm very good at dealing with. I guess because I'm so girl crazy, I can't imagine someone liking other guys. I always thought you had a little crush on Dagger."
"Oh, I did. She's a beautiful lady. I simply don't limit myself to one gender. Oh, if you could only have seen him, Zidane. He's easily the most stunning creature I've ever laid eyes on…or hands, for that matter. He's so intense, too. It's a wonder I'm still able to walk, after being with such a passionate lover." He ignored Zidane's blushing grimace and stared off into space, picturing Sephiroth's flowing silver hair and bright green eyes. "But, he's gone forever, now."
Zidane wasn't sure how much of Kuja's story was reality and how much was fantasy, but he tried to be as understanding and sympathetic as possible. The truth was, Sephiroth sounded unreal. Even with the fault of having a mental disorder, the man just sounded too powerful, and too perfect. The abilities Kuja described were almost god-like, but Zidane had enough common sense not to say anything out loud.
Kuja still read his expression, and the sorcerer smirked. "You don't believe a word of it, do you Zidane?"
Zidane slowly shrugged one shoulder and tried very hard to look sincere. "Sure I do."
"You are full of shit, my friend." Kuja sighed and lay back down, stretching like a cat. "It's all right, Zidane. I didn't expect anyone to believe me. Sometimes, I hardly believe it myself. Thank you for listening, all the same."
Zidane realized that he was being subtly dismissed, and he shook his head. "I'm sorry, Kuja. I can't leave you alone. For the time being, you're going to be watched day and night."
Kuja cracked his eyes open and glared irritably at the other genome. "Is that so? I suppose this was Garnet's idea?"
"Not really. It's her idea that you stay here under supervision until she's satisfied that you won't cause any trouble. She didn't arrange for anyone to be physically by your side at all times. After talking to Dr. Tot, I'm the one that made that decision."
Kuja sat up slowly and furrowed his brow. "Mind telling me why?" He already had a hunch, but he wanted to hear it from his "brother's" mouth.
Zidane somehow managed to look even more uncomfortable. "We're afraid you might try something stupid, like kill yourself. Listening to you talk has just cinched it for me. It's like you don't think you have a purpose in life without this Sephiroth guy. I'm not letting you out of my sight until I'm sure you won't slash your wrists or something."
Kuja rolled his eyes. "I'm fine, Zidane. Give me a bit of credit, will you? I'm just tired from my experiences and need a few days to recover."
Zidane blew a sigh, looked at him sidelong, then said one word; "Sephy."
Kuja was horrified to feel a lump reform in his throat, and his vision blurred with tears. He began to cry all over again, and he tried to push Zidane away when the other genome hugged him close. "L-leave me alone!"
Zidane stroked the sorcerer's feather-soft hair and shook his head. "Not a chance, buddy. You see what I mean? You can't even hear his name without turning into a sobbing wreck. Real or not, he made a huge impact on you, and you're in so much pain over losing him that I don't trust you to be alone."
Kuja couldn't deny what Zidane was saying, and he gave up the fight and cried himself into exhaustion, clinging to the other young man like a child. Zidane didn't say anything. He just rocked the sorcerer and held him until Kuja cried himself to sleep. With a sad little smile, Zidane carefully tucked Kuja in and went to the door to ask the guard to have food sent to the bedroom. He was determined to make sure Kuja stayed safe, even from himself. Garnet came to the room with the food and had dinner with him, and in hushed whispers, they talked about Kuja and the situation.
"I know he didn't imagine being taken to some other world, because Tot even confirmed that the dirt on his clothes wasn't from here or Terra."
Dagger glanced over at the bed and the sleeping sorcerer. "And the rest? How much of it do you think really happened, and how much could he have imagined? I've never considered Kuja to be the most stable man in the world, if you understand my meaning. Did he completely make up Sephiroth, as a way to fight his own loneliness?"
Zidane spread his hands and shook his head. "That's what I'd like to find out. I mean, if he was alone for five years in that place, it would make sense that eventually, he'd crack and make up an imaginary friend. It's just that I can't imagine Kuja resorting to doing something like that. Maybe the people that put him in that prison created Sephiroth…to test him. I don't know. Whatever really happened, Kuja believes Sephiroth was real, and that's what matters the most."
"He's got to accept his death and move on, then." Garnet said bluntly.
"I don't think it's that easy for Kuja. He was designed to be dependent on someone stronger. Even though he went against Garland, he had to fight with himself to do it. He's really strong, to overcome his natural tendencies like that. The problem is, he wants Sephiroth. His life used to be all about bringing Garland down, but now it's all about Sephiroth."
Dagger was frowning in concentration as she tried to understand this. "Darling, are you saying that Kuja absolutely HAS to have someone else giving him a reason to live?"
"Yes and no. He needs a clear purpose in life. He doesn't have one, now. There's nothing for him to do here, so he's kind of lost."
"He could always try to take over the world," Garnet said dryly.
Zidane chuckled. "I guess he could, but he has no reason to try. I've got an idea that might help him, but I don't think you'll like it."
Now she was looking at him warily. "And your idea is what?"
"Well, Kuja needs some kind of direction…something to take his mind off of things. You want to keep your eye on him, so maybe we could give him a job to do around here."
"A…a job? What kind of job?"
"I was thinking something along the lines of design. He's really good at that sort of thing, and with the city growing and new buildings being made, I'll bet he'd enjoy being in charge of interior decoration. It's just a thought."
Dagger looked again at Kuja's face, disconcerted by how pretty and innocent he looked in his sleep. Most women would kill to look that good all the time. How unfair! She shook herself out of her little fit of jealousy and turned back to her husband. "Only if you go with him while he's on these little decorating adventures…if he even agrees."
"You've got a deal, sweetheart."
-To be continued