Author's Notes: Just out of curiosity, can anyone figure out the end of this chapter, or did I word it too vaguely? (shrug)

Bring Me Home

Chapter Five - Faint Understandings

By tir-synni


Zidane has just told me a really heartwrenching tale. He has just told me his worst nightmare...had actually been a reality. He just told me of how he'd watched all those people die. I know Zidane. He's the one whose favorite line is, 'You don't need a reason to help people.' He just old me of how his life had been turned totally upside-down, and how he had wept in the arms of his former enemy, someone he had believe had banished him to die...and not even that assumption of his was correct! He has just told me all this, and all I can think about is there was no love involved. Nope, none at all. Just a therapy thing. No love, no love! But...Zidane had admitted if they hadn't been so tired, they would have made love that night.

No, Blank, I scold myself. They would have fucked. There's a difference. You know Zidane's done it before, so it's no big deal.

Except he didn't stay with the others for five years.

I can't help but gulp. I can remember plenty of times when Zidane returned to the hideout reeking of sex. Sometimes men, sometimes women, always casual. Even when he was younger, he had the ability to seduce others. A flash of his big blue eyes, long lashes lowering seductively, a slow swipe of his tongue over his sweet, pouting lips. His tail would rise, playing alluringly over his thigh. Oh, yeah, I've had plenty of time to think about this. For Zidane, he was simply playing for another audience. Unlike other times he put his acting skills to use, like on the stage or during a haul, he receives prizes other than material goods. Sex is nothing important to him. He adores being touched anyway; why would sex be any different? It was one of the reasons why I never tried anything with him, with sheer terror leading the pack. When we made love, that's what it would be: Making Love. Not sex, not fucking. It wouldn't just be important to me, it would be important to him, too.

I turn my attention back to Zidane. He has the mug of water to his lips, drinking the cool liquid slowly. However, his eyes are focused on me under heavy lashes. He looks...almost subdued. Hesitant. I blink. Why is he looking at me like that? What is he expecting?

I guess he doesn't find what he's looking for, because he looks away. Putting down the mug, he plays with the cheese on his plate. When he glances back up, a familiar smile dances on his lips. I recognize it immediately. How could I not? I have seen it plenty of times when we were on stage together. Only one thing mars his performance: the clear pain in his eyes.

"Do you remember when we first met, Blank?" Zidane asks quietly. I nod. With Zidane, it was expected our first meeting would be memorable. Everything else involving him in my life has been. "Do you remember how, after I had joined Tantalus, I would always leave, trying to find my original home?"

Again, I nod. I can't figure out what point he's trying to...Yes, I can. Shit.

Zidane notices my widening eyes, and his smile turns into a sardonic grin. The look in his eyes never change. "I could only remember the bright blue light. For some reason, I could never remember the rest, unless it was in my nightmares. After Terra, Dr. Tot told me it was probably because my stay there was so traumatic that my mind refused to remember it. Heh. I guess that makes sense. Kuja ousted me almost immediately after the destruction of Madain Sari."

Zidane's smirk doesn't fade, but it doesn't hide the trembling in his lips. I stare at him in utter shock. Zidane--Zidane!--looks like...he's going to cry.

"You guys gave me a home," Zidane continues quietly, his eyes shifting from me to focus on his drink. "You guys took me off the street, gave me a home, and took care of me. And I wanted to go back to Garland." I can't see Zidane's eyes directly, but I can see their reflection in the remaining water. The grief in them tear me apart. "I wanted to leave you, Blank."

I can only stare at him. I should be happy that he focused on me like that, but I'm too worried. Is he so open--so vulnerable--because he's sick? Or is it because he's talking to me? He's usually more straightforward with me about his emotions than with the other Tantalus members, but...Queen Garnet once confided in me that even when Lindblum was attacked, Zidane hadn't cried. He had taken care of her, and later some of the frightened citizens of Lindblum. Even then, Zidane hadn't surrendered to his pain. Why is he allowing it

now?Shaking myself out of my thoughts, I gently pull Zidane into a one-armed hug. "You didn't know," I comfort him. "And we didn't help. Every other member of Tantalus knew where they had come from. You didn't. And you'd never seen another Genome, either. We never blamed you."

Zidane doesn't answer right away; his hands clench around his mug. I would love to be able to hold him, comfort him. I don't, though. I'm not that dumb. He's always shown himself to me because he trusts me not to pity him. He hates that. Zidane's always preferred to be smacked out of self-pity than to be indulged. The Boss has always readily obliged.

Instead of speaking useless words that I know will annoy Zi, I start petting his hair. Instantly, I see his deathgrip on his mug relax, and I smirk. Yep. Zidane's a kitten, all right. One day, I vow to myself, I'm going to scratch his back. Maybe I can get him to purr.

I run my fingers through Zidane's hair, and for the first time, I catch a flash of silver. Huh? When we were younger, I would always play with his hair. It was always a rich, honey-blonde. I pull out a thick silver strand, toying with it. It slips easily through my fingers.

I turn to Zidane, a ready quip on my lips. It's something stupid, like mocking his age or somethin'. It never comes out, though. Again, Zidane's staring at me with that strange, intense look. He's staring at my fingers, entangled in his silver hair. Wha?

Then, just like that, Zi's mask is there. The charming smile of the rogue he plays so often on stage. "We caught it too late," Zidane explains conversationally, an eerie, shielded darkness in his eyes. "We didn't realize, and even when we did, nobody suspected. Got a great reaction from Kuja when we found out, though."

I blink and say the only thing that comes to mind. "Huh?"

Zidane grins, his eyes hidden by lowered lashes. "Can't tell ya. That would be jumping ahead."

Silently, I continue playing with his hair. In the back of my mind, pieces are slowly falling into place. I don't want to see the full puzzle. Nononono. I don't want to see, I don't want to know. I'm not going to think about it. Not Zidane.

Zidane's tail squeezes my thigh reassuringly. I didn't know it was there. I refuse to think of why he reassuring me. I refuse to think maybe he knows what I'm thinking. That would only cement it.

Another thought sneaks up, and I shiver. Zidane, wanting to talk to me alone, saying regrets he would never say otherwise, revealing the pain shining so clearly in his eyes.



Zidane squeezes my leg again. "I think I better continue," he comments softly. "Maybe it'll help you understand."

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