Author's Notes: Some great guesses, but unfortunately, I can't answer any of them yet. Just have to keep reading, I suppose. ^_^ I'm happy a lot of people tried, tho. Oh, and remember while you're reading this: what Zidane thought Kuja meant and what Kuja actually meant are two different things. See if you can figure it out.

Bring Me Home

Chapter Six - Inspiration

By tir-synni


"I awoke early the next day to Kuja stroking my hair again. I raised my head--it was kinda laying on his chest--and looked up. He smiled back at me, but his eyes were sad.

" 'The moogles have been in here, and they checked on your side,' Kuja said softly. 'You slept all through it.' He nodded beside the bed. A bottle of potion rested on the table. 'They didn't have anything stronger. Something to do with the Iifa Tree's roots. I have drank one already.'

"I nodded, and Kuja grabbed the bottle for me. Ha! You should've seen him. I guess he thought I was an invalid or somethin', because he held the bottle to my lips like I couldn't do it myself. I drank it, nice and obedient, never looking away from Kuja's face. He looked so sad and worried.

" 'I drank the potion,' he mused, putting down the bottle and petting me again. I would have started purring, but Kuja looked so depressed. I just cuddled, instead. 'What's the point, though? I am as good as dead, anyway. Why try prolonging my life now?'

"I have to admit, I was surprised. I thought the answer was obvious. 'Because you can't die until you've lived,' I answered promptly. 'Lived without worrying about Garland or Terra or even Gaia. Everyone's going to die someday. But you shouldn't surrender to it until you've lived your life.' I believed it then, and I believe it now.

"Kuja looked at me, and his hand stilled on my head. I couldn't help it. I kinda meowed and kept shoving my head into him until he started again. Like I said, I couldn't help it. You and Kuja are the only ones who do heavy petting, so I was milking it for all it was worth. By the way, keep petting. That feels good. Purrrr....

"Ahem. Anyway. He started petting me again, and he kept studying me. He had this...look in his eyes. I couldn't figure out what it was then, and I can't figure it out now. Then he smiled. Kuja still looked sad, but not as bad as he was before.

" 'Zidane...' he whispered. I wish I knew what he had been thinking. The tone of his voice...the look on his face...Sometimes, people do that to me, especially you, but I don't understand it. 'Zidane, I...You can't compare me to you.'

"Yeah, I was insulted. The guy kept saying that he was hopeless and everything, but he still through he was better than me! He still kept looking down at me! Pissed off, I pushed away from him. I landed in a heap on the floor, but I didn't care. I'll admit, I was hurt. Just because I was a thief and he was this all-powerful, beautiful mage. I told him that, too.

" 'Yeah, I forgot,' I spat out bitterly, 'we're on two totally different levels, aren't we? I'm just some scoundrel--' Ugh, I can't believe I used one of Rusty's words! '--and you're a high-and-mighty lord. I keep forgetting, the rules that apply to me don't apply to you. I guess I'll keep my advice to myself from now on.'

"I know I shouldn't have struck out like that, but at the time, I didn't care. During the whole trip, Rusty kept shoving it down my throat that I was nothin' but a worthless thief, that everyone was too good to be around me. In the end, he changed his tune, but it didn't change what he had done the rest of the time. I was sick and tired of it, and coming from Kuja, it was a low blow.

"I huffed and jumped to my feet. I felt a twinge in my side, but I just ignored it. I figured, after two potions and a night of rest, my side couldn't be that bad. I lashed my tail and stalked off. I heard Kuja yelling after me, but I ignored him. Fuck him, I thought. Surely he doesn't need a lowly thief's help!

"I ignored the moogles' squeaking, too, and headed towards the desert. I was only trying to help! I missed you so bad then, Blank. You would have understood; you would have helped. You would have been able to keep everything under control. I wanted you there.

"I stayed out in the desert for a while. I heard Kuja shouting for me, but I just said hell with him and sunbathed. I waited until my temper cooled and my skin warmed before I returned to the house. I felt kinda tired, but I guess it made sense. I hadn't eaten for a while, and my side hurt.

"The moogles must have read my mind, because I returned to a table full of food. The moogles couldn't really cook, but I was starving, so I didn't give a damn. It wasn't until I finished that I noticed Kuja was silently watching me. I froze.

" 'Your side still isn't healed,' he told me quietly. 'You must rest.'

"I sniffed and lashed my tail. 'We don't have time to rest,' I retorted haughtily. 'We must find a way to get to Black Mage

Village.'"Kuja blinked, startled. 'Black Mage Village?' he whispered.

"It was on the tip of my tongue to make some smartass remark, but I couldn't do it. He looked so vulnerable standing there, and he had been hurt enough. I couldn't add to the scars.

" 'The Black Mages and the Genomes live peacefully in the village,' I reassured him quietly. 'The Black Mages even have a chocobo. Its name is Bobby Corwen.' I grinned at him. 'Funny name, eh?'

"Kuja cracked a smile at that. Why they name a chocobo Bobby Corwen, I'll never know, but it always gets a good response.

" 'I can teleport us there,' Kuja offered, 'but...' A shadow passed over his face. 'I am not welcome there.'

"I beamed at him. 'To the Genomes, you're a hero,' I reassured him. 'You defied Garland, became independent. You started a movement. And with the Black Mages...' I shrugged. 'You gave them life. By your example, you gave both them and the Genomes hope. You'll always be welcome in Black Mage Village.'

"Kuja still looked uncertain, but the sadness in his eyes had faded. I pressed my advantage.

" 'No other Genome had rebelled before you,' I continued on. 'You showed the Genomes that they could be their own person. You inspired them, Kuja! You inspired the Black Mages!' I took a deep breath. 'And you inspired me, too.'

" You should have seen it, Blank. Kuja doesn't look nearly as dignified with his jaw hangin' loose.

" 'Wh-what?' Kuja whispered disbelievingly.

" 'You inspired me,' I repeated truthfully. 'When I first learned the truth about myself...when Garland attack me and brought me under his will so easily...I was lost. I...I had always fought so hard to defend the people I love, and he told me I was created for nothing but destruction. He used some spell on me, and it felt like he had broken me.'

"Kuja nodded. 'It was a spell he used to keep the Genomes under control,' he verified. 'He always liked to tell me, what he gave the Genomes, he could so easily take away.'

"I shivered in my chair. 'It shook me up real bad,' I admitted. "I felt totally hopeless. My friends helped bring me back, but the memory of you helped the most. You had known all your life, and you had refused to let it beat you. You fought back. So I fought back, too.'

"Kuja gaped at me a lot like you're doing now. While I was waiting for him to recover, I started preening my tail. It had gotten dirty in the desert. You know how hard it is to clean sand out of fur? It's hard as hell, let me tell you.

"About when I had cleaned most of the sand out from my tail, Kuja decided to quietly bask in my words and not to bring it up aloud. Instead, he just asked, 'When do you want to go?'

"I shrugged. 'Now.' "

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