Author's Notes: Another Blank/Zidane fic! Ha! Not enough of them out, anyway. Some Zidane/Kuja, too. No Zidane/Dagger. The girl isn't bad, even though she looks like Rinoa (shudder!), but this is going to be a yaoi ending. Well, on to the fic.

Bring Me Home


By tir-synni


He's been gone for five years now. For five years, his friends that journeyed with him to fight at that tree and the members of Tantalus have been waiting for his return. I think everyone's beginning to lose hope. If he's still alive, why isn't he back already? Or what if he's still alive and waiting for our help at the Iifa Tree? I hate not knowing, being forced to wait like this. If he's dead...if he's dead, then I don't know what to do.

Every now and then, the Boss takes us to Regent Cid, and we talk to him about Zidane. Each time, he sadly shakes his head at us, and looks worriedly at his adopted daughter. Eiko had had a major crush on Zidane, and like us, she's refused to even think that maybe he had not survived. Heh. I have to side with her on that.

After thanking Cid for his time, the Boss takes us back to the Theatre District. I know he doesn't like us to mope, wants us to think positively, but everyone's drooping. Cinna's cuddling his hammer, and I have to wrinkle my nose at that. Well, I guess everyone droops differently.

"The Regent himself said he doesn't know anything for sure, Blank," Marcus whispers in my ear right before he throws a brotherly arm around my shoulder. "He doesn't know everything."

I grunt. "Yeah, just everything going on this continent."

Marcus grins hopefully at me. "Yeah, but the Iifa Tree's not on this continent. And he doesn't know everything. Don't lose hope yet."

I grunt again. All of Tantalus knows how I feel about Zidane, but Marcus is the only one brave enough to say anything about it. I guess he has the right. He was the only one who knew when Zidane was still with us. Even the Boss didn't know. He's kinda edgy about the subject now. He thinks of us all has his sons, and the fact that one loves the another romantically weirds him out.

"For all we know," Marcus continues, pushing the door to our hideout open dramatically, "he could be in here waiting for us right now."

My eyes widen in shock. "I think you're right."

Marcus snorts. "Of course I'm right, now right about--"

That's one of the first times I've ever seen Marcus cut himself off like that. If I gave a damn, I might even store it in my memory for a later date. But for right now, all I care about is what's in front of me.

Zidane, beautiful Zidane, lovely, alive Zidane, is lying on a cushion in the corner of the room. He's curled up in a ball, his tail wrapped securely around his shivering form. His hair, longer and wilder than it was the last time I had seen him, hides his face, and it is only when I am pushing it aside that I realized that I crossed the room to his side.

I hear the Boss barking orders, telling Marcus to gather the rest of Tantalus that are relaxing at Ruby's bar, and ordering Cinna to run to the item shop to grab medicinal potions. All of this is mainly white noise in the background, however, as I gently pull Zidane's trembling body into my arms. Now I can see his face, pale and drawn, but still so beautiful. I finger a cheekbone, and Zidane stirs at my touch.

"Zidane?" I whisper, unable to believe this is real. But the warm weight in my arms assures me that it is. "Zidane, can you hear

me?"Zidane moans softly, and Baku kneels by my side. "I'm going to fix up his bed and gather some things," the large man murmurs, his eyes never wavering from his adopted son. "Bring him to the bedroom as soon as you can."

I guess I nodded, because he nods back and moves away. Then it's only Zidane and me in the room, and for the first time, I realize it's not only Zidane that's trembling.

"Zidane," I whisper huskily. "It's me, Blank. Come on, wake up."

And then his eyes are open, and I feel like I'm drowning in those so-blue depths. I swallow hard, only to have to swallow again when his eyes light up with recognition.

"Blank!" he breathes. "Blank! It's you!"

Zidane throws his arms around my neck, and it feels like all air is trapped in my lungs as I feel his warm body pressed tightly against mine. I clutch him close, breathing in his scent. I can't believe it! Zidane's back, and he's in my arms.

"Where were you guys?" Zidane wails against my neck. "I was hoping to find you guys here and you were gone and I had to walk a long way but you should have seen it it was great but it sucked--"

I can't help but laugh. Zidane pulls away and shoots me a hurt look, only to throw himself into me again. He's trembling badly, and I wish I knew why. He doesn't feel cold. Actually, he feels hot.

"I came back as soon as I could," he murmurs. The rascal cocks his head back to one side and looks at me. "Did you guys miss me?"

For the first time, I'm able to really look at him. Zidane looks the same, only...older. The baby fat has left his face, highlighting his cheekbones and graceful jaw. I see the same compassion and strength in his large eyes that has always been there, but it's deeper, somehow, stronger. The body in my arms is taller and has more muscle on it than the last time I had seen him, though he's always going to be smaller than me or Marcus. His tail is definitely longer, too. But mainly it's the weariness and pain in his beautiful features that attract my attention.

"What happened to you?" I ask before I can stop myself. "Are you all right?"

Zidane smiles weakly and rests his head on my shoulder. "It's a long story." Even at that angle, his sharp eyes catch mine. "And there's some parts I only want you to hear."

I stiffen at that, but before I can comment, Baku bellows from the bedroom for us to hurry up. I turn back to Zidane, only to see that he's fallen asleep again. With a sigh, I gently pick him up and carry him to the bedroom.

Baku waits for us with the door open. "He looks flushed," he comments, following me to Zidane's bed. "I think he's running a fever."

I frown worriedly and feel his forehead. So that's why he's shaking. Once again, I can't help but wonder what happened to him during those five years. Where was he? Was he alone? Who, if anyone, was with him? How did he get back here? How did he get sick? What happened to Kuja? The questions running through my mind are making me dizzy.

I hear a thunk in the hallway as Cinna stumbles, then runs in with the medicine. I take it from him as Baku sets Zidane into a sitting position.

"Is he all right?" Cinna asks, coming up from behind me. He's cradling his hammer again. "Do you think he's going to stay here with us now?"

I shrug and watch as Baku tries to wake Zidane up again. It's a little hard having someone drink something when they're unconscious. It might go down the wrong pipe or somethin'.

Like earlier, he revives with a faint moan. Zidane blinks at us, then grins at Cinna. "Hey!" he whispers. "Long time no see." He flashes a brilliant smile at Baku. "Did you have a nice vacation while I was gone?"

Baku grunts and tousles Zidane's wild mane. "Heh. It was boring without you around. Don't do that again, you hear me?"

Zidane laughs quietly, the twinkle back in his eyes. "I hear ya."

I tap his leg to get his attention back to me. "You're running a fever," I inform him. "You need to drink a potion to recover your strength. Were you poisoned?"

Zidane shakes his head. "No, it doesn't have anything to do with that. And a potion won't help, either." He shrugs. "It's a small fit. It'll pass soon."

Baku's face hardens. "What do you mean, a small fit? Why won't a potion help?"

The blond starts to answer, only to be interrupted by a wracking cough. He curls in Baku while at the same time wrapping his tail tightly around my leg. I blink as a sudden wave of emotion washes over me. He wraps his tail around someone whenever he feels very affectionate towards them. I remember when he was younger he used to do it to me all the time.

Finally, Zidane calms. "It's why I couldn't return," he manages. "I had to wait and help as best as I could. Otherwise..." He shrugs. "I wouldn't have been able to return at all."

Everyone freezes. "What?" Cinna gasps behind me.

"I think you better spill it, kid," Baku informs him, tightening his grip on his adopted son.

Zidane catches my eye, and Baku notices the motion. I look up to meet his gaze. "Let him tell me, and I'll explain it when everyone's here," I offer, stroking Zidane's tail around my thigh. Is it my imagination, or did I hear a purr? "You can tell the Regent he's

back."Baku grunts, but he knows when something's going on. He's smart like that. "Yeah, I guess Cid better know." He nods towards Cinna. "You, with me. Blank, you stay with Zidane. I expect to hear a full report later."

Everyone, even Zidane, nods at him and exchanges the Tantalus salute before Baku props Zidane up on a pillow and leaves. Once they're gone, I turn to Zidane.

"All right, Zidane. Tell me everything."

Zidane looks at me solemnly, then begins to speak.

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