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 25

By Xenobia

       

"No, you imbecile, I said Mocha, not puke orange!"

Zidane coughed to cover the laugh that nearly escaped at the sound of Kujaís ranting. He walked into the newly built house, following the sound of the other genome scolding the poor painters. He found the sorcerer in the lounge room. The man who Kuja was nagging stood a good head taller than him, but he was clearly intimidated by the unusually pretty creature that glared up at him. The other painters shifted uncomfortably, unsure of how to react to Kuja.

"Howís it going?" Zidane asked with an amused grin.

Kuja turned from the unfortunate painter he was scolding, and he wore a sour expression on his fair features. "Itís a wonder Alexandria looks so fabulous, with color blind people like this designing new housing. I think I can prod them in the right direction, though."

Zidane shot an apologetic look at the poor workers and took Kuja gently by the arm to usher him into another room. "Go easy on them, okay? Most of these guys are still apprentices."

Kuja grimaced. "Oh, all right. I suppose Iím being a bit unfair. It just feels good to lash out at someone." The sorcererís eyes unfocused and his expression saddened.

"Is there anything else I can do, Kuja? I know youíre hurting. Youíre doing real good with trying to keep your mind off of it, but you need to let it out, once in a while."

Kujaís gaze sharpened as he came back into the present. He shrugged. "Well, there is one thing, but you may think Iím insane for requesting it."

Zidane smirked. "Too late, on the insane part. Whatever it is, Iíll do it for you if I can."

"Have the place where the rift opened watched," Kuja whispered, biting his lip.

Zidane studied his "brother", unused to seeing Kuja appear meek. "Thatís all? You want me to have people watching the Iifa tree?"

Kuja nodded. "Yes. For a while, at least. I simply canít accept that thereís no hope for Sephiroth. My heart tells me that thereís still a chance he could have escaped. Someone has to be there to show him the way to me, if he makes it. I know Garnet would never allow me to go there by myself."

Zidane blew some stray wisps of hair away from his eyes and nodded. Yes, Garnet was keeping a very close eye on Kuja, and there was no way sheíd let him out of the city without a heavy escort. "I understand. Weíve already got people watching the Iifa tree for any signs of violent activity. I donít think assigning some people to watch the spot you arrived at is going to be a problem."

Kuja began to smile a little, which gratified Zidane. Still, he had to be truthful with the other genome. "Kuja, what are the odds that if this friend of yours does show up, heíll come peacefully? No offence, but you said yourself that heís prone to violent streaks. I donít want to have to hurt him."

The sorcerer snorted. "Hurt him? More than likely, youíll be picking up the pieces of your men for a week, if he feels threatened. Just make sure they know not to point any weapons at him and to mention my name, if he does show up."

Seeing the doubt etched on Zidaneís face, Kuja sighed and said; "Just trust me on this, Zidane. If Sephiroth is told that Iím waiting for him, heíll know he came to the right place and wonít be so wary. If he hurts anybody, Iíll take responsibility."

Zidane scratched his chin as he looked at the other genome thoughtfully. "You know, I had my doubts about this guyís existence before, but listening to you now I think Iím finally starting to believe heís real. Thereís no way the Kuja I know would ever have gotten this hung up over someone that isnít real."

Kuja wasnít sure if he had just been complimented or teased. "So I fell in love...big deal. Is that so hard to comprehend?"

When the other genome raised his blond brows at him, Kuja smiled and answered his own question. "I suppose it is."

Zidane laughed and patted the sorcererís silk-clad arm. "Itís okay, Kuja. Itís just another thing for the rest of us to get used to. Youíre still you, but thereís something different. Youíre more human now, if that makes any sense. I think being in love agrees with you."

Another snort. "Itís damned inconvenient, if you ask me."

Zidane just grinned.

       

"So, how is he?" Garnet questioned later that night. She lay in the huge bed they shared and watched her husband undress. A tiny smile showed that her mind wasnít entirely on Kujaís well being.

Zidane threw a grin at her as he wriggled out of his trousers and tossed them into the laundry bin. He climbed into bed with her and pulled her close, savoring the feel of her naked skin against his. "Heís doing all right, all things considered. Heís asked me to have the portal watched, in case his missing buddy happens to make an appearance."

Garnet frowned and pulled away enough so that she could look him in the eye. "It isnít healthy for him to go on obsessing about this ĎSephirothí fellow this way, Zidane. Did you agree to his request?"

"I had to, baby. If you could have seen his face...he was so full of hope. I never imagined Iíd see Kuja as a lovesick guy, but Iím telling you, thatís exactly what he is. If I was him and Sephiroth was you, Iíd feel exactly the same as he does. I donít think he made him up."

"You believe him, then?" Garnetís dark eyes were wide and full of wonder.

Zidane nodded and kissed her softly. "Sure do. Love isnít a figment of the imagination, honey. Sephiroth has to be real, for someone like Kuja to fall for him. Isnít that funny? He used to be the worldís most dangerous villain, and now heís too busy pining for someone to bother trying to take it over. Heís just like the rest of us poor mortals, now."

Garnet didnít think it was funny at all. Not because she thought Kuja would revert to his old ways, but because she had to grudgingly admit the twinge of sympathy she felt for the sorcerer. "I remember what it feels like, to wait for someone without even knowing if theyíre alive," she murmured, hugging Zidane more tightly.

Zidane swallowed a sudden lump in his throat, reminded painfully of how long it took for him to recover and make his way back to Alexandria. He had feared that his Dagger was lost to him, perhaps married to a noble. She hadnít forgotten him, though, and she had waited for him for two long years. "Iíll never forgive myself for taking so long to get back to you," he said softly, trying to smile and failing.

"Youíre here now, and that is what counts," she replied. Then she kissed him, and they both forgot all about Kuja and his mysterious, missing lover.

       

Weeks passed uneventfully, and Kuja became more listless. The possibility that Sephiroth hadnít survived became more and more evident, and Kujaís interest in living dwindled more with each day. He hid it well, until a visit from Freya brought chaos that wasnít entirely unexpected.

Zidane had meant to send Kuja on a little holiday to Treno with escorts, before his friend arrived. He knew that Freya wouldnít handle news of the sorcererís return well. She had every right to hate Kuja, and Zidane was afraid of what she might do if she learned he was being sheltered within Alexandriaís walls.

Freya arrived earlier than her letter had said she would, however. Three days before Zidane could make the arrangement for Kujaís "holiday", the Dragon Knight showed up. Unsurprisingly, Amarant Coral was with her. She had been traveling with him more and more frequently, since her previous lover, Sir Fratley, had never regained his memories. Zidane didnít know if Freyaís relationship with the monk was an intimate one, or more of a partnership. Amarant and Freya had always understood one another, somehow, and there seemed to be a silent agreement between them.

Zidane was stunned when they were announced to the royal audience chamber, and he gave Dagger a look of sheer terror just before the pair entered the hall. "F-Freya! Wow, you look great! You came early, too!"

Freya was surprised by her old friendís barely concealed dismay. "I apologize for the early appearance," she said gracefully, "the journey did not take as long as we expected. Is it a problem that we have come so soon?"

"Of course not!" Dagger said smoothly, smiling brightly at them. "Zidane was merely hoping to throw a party for you, and he hasnít had time to arrange it. Itís been over a year, after all."

Freyaís elongated, delicate features relaxed into a smile. "Zidane, you know that you donít have to go through such trouble for me. Visiting my friends is always a pleasure, and I need no such celebrations planned for me."

Dagger nudged her sweating husband into action. "W-well, you know me. Nothing but the best for my pals. Have a seat, you two."

Amarant noticed monkey boyís unusual nervousness with interest, but he couldnít put his finger on what could be causing it. With a shrug, he plopped unceremoniously down on the nearest cushioned chair and relaxed. Freya took her seat beside him with more grace. "How are Steiner and Beatrix doing," she inquired, "I have not heard from them since they were wed."

 

"Ah, you know how Rusty...er...I mean Steiner is. He had to have a huge country house built for the love of his life. Theyíre still working on it, but theyíre going to stop in for a visit next week."

Freya smirked. "Would that we could stay for that long. I regret that we shall miss them."

Zidane was finally calming down as the gears turned in his head. If he could keep Freya and Amarant busy, he could sneak away to get Kuja packed and off to Treno. "Iíll be sure to give them your regards. Why donít you two go into the dining hall and have something to eat. I need to take care of some things real fast, if thatís okay."

Ever eloquent, Freya nodded. "Of course. Again, I apologize for showing up unannounced. I must say, you make a surprisingly good ruler, Zidane. I never would have imagined you as a king."

He chuckled self depreciatingly. Ever straightforward, Freya had managed to speak the thoughts that many of his friends were too polite to say aloud. "I have my moments."

He was about to make a joke at his own expense, when he noticed Freyaís eyes narrow and fix on something past his shoulder. Zidaneís heart thundered in his chest as Kujaís melodic voice rang out from the corridor behind the thrones.

"Zidane, Iím sorry but I had to fire one of the painters. He was too busy leering at any female unlucky enough to be walking by the house we were working on to pay attention to his work."

Both Zidane and Garnet turned to stare at Kuja with white faces. He paused and put his hands on his shapely hips. "Look, I said I was sorry! It isnít as though Iíve killed the fellow."

It wasnít until he heard Freyaís outraged, "YOU!" that Kuja began to understand why the rulers of Alexandria were staring at him the way they were. This time, his lack of protocol when entering the royal audience chamber was sure to cause trouble.

 

-To be continued


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