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 23

By Xenobia


"Zidane, you come here every year, and every year, I tell you heís not coming back," Garnet said crossly, putting her hands on her hips. "I know you feel like youíve got to honor his memory, but may I remind you that one good deed doesnít turn a villain into a saint?"

Zidane crouched down and picked up a dried leaf, turning it over and over between his fingers. He and his wife stood at the base of the Iifa tree, where they came every year since the day he returned to Alexandria. The overgrown, gigantic roots formed a labyrinth around them, and in front of them stood the crumbled remains of the statue of Leviathan. "I hear what youíre saying, doll. I donít blame you for getting tired of doing this, but this time, Iíve really got a feeling. I had a dream last night-"

"Youíve had dreams about him nearly every night, for the past five years!" Garnet interrupted, "If I didnít know any better, I could swear that you were in love with him!"

Zidane smirked up at her mischievously. "You know youíre the only girl for me."

"Kuja wasnít a girl," Garnet reminded him with a scowl.

He laughed. "Could have fooled me." He stood up again and embraced her, kissing her forehead. "Listen, Dagger...I know itís hard to understand, but Kuja and I had some kind of a link. Maybe it was because of how we were both made, I dunno. All I know is, despite all heís done, I do care about him. And no, I donít think of him as a girl, even though I make jokes about it now and then. It isnít like that. I care about him like he was a brother of mine. A spoiled, snooty, troublemaking brother, but still, a brother."

Garnet smiled and returned the embrace. "I suppose I know that, Zidane. Itís just that you come to this place as though itís a shrine to your biggest hero. Weíve built Kuja an epitaph in Alexandria...could you not just pay your respects to his memory there?"

Zidane nuzzled her hair and frowned, trying to think of how to make her understand. She was right the first time, about him believing that Kuja was coming back. He had never actually seen the other genome die, and he couldnít shake the feeling that Kuja was still alive somewhere...possibly trapped. "Now I know how twins feel when one of them is hurt," he murmured without thinking.

Garnet pulled back and stared at him in confusion. "Twins? What are you talking about, Zidane? You need to accept the fact that Kuja is dead."

He shook his head stubbornly. "He isnít, sweetheart. I know it. Last night, I spoke to him. He was hurting bad, and something was after him. He wanted to give up and die, but I think I convinced him to keep going. I know it sounds crazy, but itís true! I also know you donít have a whole lot of love for the guy, but like it or not, heís a part of me. Will you help me out, if Iím right about this?"

"Help you out how?" she questioned warily. Her dark eyes were still looking at him strangely, as if he had rabies. Zidane couldnít really blame her.

"Just try not to hold the past against him too much, if he does show up. Heís going to need help. We can keep an eye on him, if itíll make you feel better, but I promise you, heís not going to cause any trouble."

Garnet shook her head. Sheíd had this argument with Zidane before and she thought that she had already made it clear that IF Kuja ever turned up alive, she wanted him in custody and watched over at all times. "Why do I have to keep repeating myself, Zidane? Donít you trust my word?"

He nodded, and his blue eyes were quite serious on her. "You know I do. I donít trust your emotions, though. A part of you never accepted that your Mother did the things she did because she wanted to. You still want to blame it entirely on Kuja. You still want to believe that he brainwashed her. He was part of the problem, but not the symptom, Dagger."

Her face reddened and she almost lashed out at him in anger, but she made herself take a couple of deep breaths and calm down. After a moment, she nodded. "Very well. Youíre right, Zidane. At least partly. I canít help but feel that if Kuja had never appeared and tempted my Mother with power, she might not have gone down the path that she did. I understand that as far as her death goes, she attacked him, and not the other way around. I understand that he retaliated. I know all of this, Zidane. But, it would take a sincere apology from Kuja himself for me to ever even consider forgiving him, and as much as I want to believe you, I truly donít think heís coming back."

The moment she finished speaking, the air was filled with the crackle of energy, and brilliant bursts of light blinded the couple. Zidane hollered her name and shoved her to the ground, covering her protectively with his body. Both of them squinted against the painful light and looked up to see a hole forming in the air above them.

"What the hell?" Zidane said in amazement. It looked sort of like the portal from Gaia to Terra, but it was smaller. He swore and rolled aside, taking Garnet with him, as a form fell through the flashing portal and nearly landed right on top of them. With a few more cracks and pops, the mystical doorway vanished, taking the blinding light with it.

Zidane cautiously removed his weight from Dagger and crawled to the still body that lay on the ground. His heart thundered in his chest as a breeze picked up the dirty scarf covering the personís head and revealed a thick mass of silver, violet-streaked hair. He reached the person and carefully rolled them onto their back, noting the almost feminine curve to the slim, black-clad hips. He also noticed the limp tail that sprouted from the personís backside, which was so dirty that it was impossible to tell what color it was.

Dagger sat up and stared with huge eyes as her husband rolled the person over and pulled the scarf off of their head. "Well, I suppose this makes me wrong," she said in mystification.

There, lying at the foot of the Iifa tree beside them, was Kuja. He wasnít moving, and he looked like he had been through a war. His face was streaked with tears, dirt, and some sort of white paint, his clothing was torn, and his hands and fingers were bruised and bloody. Zidane scooped the sorcererís slender body up and cradled it, shaking him gently. "Donít tell me youíre dead," He whispered, "come on, Kuja. Breathe."

A weak gasp and a cough rewarded Zidane for his efforts, and he grabbed the water bottle strapped to his leg hastily and unscrewed it. He held it to the cracked, bleeding lips and whispered encouragement, allowing some of the cool liquid to dribble onto them. Kujaís decorative eyelids fluttered, and his mouth moved. Zidane tilted the sorcererís head and held it steady as he carefully poured some water into his mouth, and Kuja swallowed.

Garnet stood up, still staring at the returned sorcerer with shock and surprise. "I...Iíll contact the men on the airship and have them bring a stretcher," she said through numb lips.

Zidane tore his attention away from his "brother" long enough to give Garnet a thankful smile. "Youíre doing the right thing, sweetheart."

She returned the smile feebly. "Weíll see. Just let it be known now that I hold you responsible for him, dear."


"How is he doing, Dr. Tot?"

The eccentric little man was practically jumped on by Zidane the minute he came out of the bedroom they had put Kuja in. He patted the young manís arm soothingly. "Take it easy, son. Heís just dehydrated and a tad feverish. Iíve cleaned him up and given him a mild sedative and some water, but Iím more worried about his mental state than his physical one."

Zidane shared a confused look with Garnet. "His mental state? What do you mean?"

The doctor sighed and removed his little round glasses. He began to clean them with the edge of his plaid shirt as he explained; "I wish I knew where this fellow has been. I took some samples of the soil on his clothes, and itís not native to Gaia. It isnít from Terra, either. Kuja has been through some powerful trauma. Tell me, do you know anyone named ĎSefy?í He keeps calling that name, and a few minutes ago, he opened his eyes and looked at me. Youíd have thought I was a demon! He tried to shove me away from him and he even tried to cast a spell, but the poor lad was too weak, and he passed out from the effort."

Garnet shot Zidane a look that said she thought this was a huge mistake, and Kujaís violent reactions proved it. He sighed and rubbed his temples. "Thatís the dream I had last night, he was shouting for someone with that name, too. I think wherever heís been for the past five years, this ĎSefyí person was with him. I think they died to get him home, too."

Both his wife and the doctor looked at him with skeptical expressions. Tot cleared his throat. "I see. I wonít bother asking how you know all this, since Iíve learned how unusual genomes can be. I have a theory about genetic empathy between you fellows, but I donít want to jump to conclusions. I think it would be a good idea to have Kuja guarded until he recovers and has regained his senses."

"You believe he could be dangerous?" Garnet asked with an expression that said she already knew as much.

Totís eyebrows lifted when he caught her meaning. "To other people? Possibly. To himself? Most definitely. After listening to the lad mutter in his sleep, Iím convinced that he could be suicidal. Thatís why I want you to have someone guarding him day and night. He isnít in his right mind at present, and he needs a lot of care."

Zidane swallowed and gave Garnet an expectant look. His concern for Kuja made him sensitive to the way she had automatically implied that he was likely to go on a destructive rampage. "Well, is it okay with you if I watch over him, or would you rather slap him in chains and throw him in the dungeon?"

"Zidane, that isnít fair," she said with wide eyes and a blush.

All the anger drained out of him and he hugged her. "I know, Iím sorry. I just feel like youíre looking for any reason at all to toss him out and forget about him, and Iím kind of stressed out. Iím sorry."

Garnet shook her head and leaned into the embrace, resting her cheek on his shoulder. "Iím sorry too. Your instincts are partially right, but not because I want revenge. Iím passed all that, Zidane. Iím only concerned for the well being of my people, and Iím having difficulty digesting all of this. I just canít think of him as some poor, wounded boy, right now. Not until I know that he wonít go back to his old ways the moment he gets better." She pulled away to stare into the genomeís eyes. "Promise me, Zidane. Promise me that you wonít let your feelings for Kuja cloud your reason. If he starts to behave like a criminal again, I donít want to have to fight you over what will need to be done."

"I...I promise," Zidane said reluctantly. "Only because I know in my gut that Iím right about him. He doesnít have any reason to go back to doing the things he was doing before. Heís free of Garland, now." He frowned and looked back toward the door, reminded of one very important thing by mentioning Garland. "By the said that other than some dehydration and fever, Kujaís healthy."

Dr. Tot nodded. "Indeed, he is."

"That doesnít make any sense, now that I think of it. I was ready to be scrambling for some way to cure what Garland did to him. Do you remember me telling you about how he designed Kuja to Ďwear outí after some time?"

"Yes, I recall that. There are no signs of any deterioration in his body, nor any diseases or viruses. If you like, I can run more tests tomorrow, when heís stronger."

"That might be a good idea," Zidane replied, still frowning, "his life was definitely on a timer, the last time I saw him. He was getting weaker and weaker every minute. Could something that serious just go away?"

Dr. Tot lifted an intrigued eyebrow. "I assume that Garland programmed some sort of genetic disorder into Kuja when he created him. Perhaps his mysterious sojourn to wherever heís been cured him, or perhaps it merely put it into temporary remission. I believe, with your permission, that I should test him often for symptoms. I should hate for it to come back and kill him because of a lack of precaution on my part."

"Yeah, we should be careful," Zidane murmured, hugging Garnet more tightly. It would suck if Kuja came back and got another chance at life, only to weaken all over again and die. It would also suck if he hung himself or did something else that was equally stupid. "Looks like Iím the babysitter," Zidane said, trying to grin. He couldnít help it...he was afraid for Kuja.


-To be continued

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