Author's Notes: Eee...This story just doesn't want to be written! But, hey!, least I finally got a part out. Everything's going to start speeding up. Angst ahead! Emotional!Blank. Short, I know, but like I said, I'm having problems with it. Remember, please review! Your reviews help a lot. I'm interested in how you view this part, and if it matches any of your theories from earlier. Enjoy!

Bring Me Home

Chapter Eight - Beginning of a Fall

By tir-synni


Zidane's voice catches on the last word, and I startle. What by Bahamut...From above him, I watch Zi's beautiful blue eyes roll back into his head. He falls limp in my arms.

"Zidane!" I shriek. Sleeping good, passing out bad, real bad. This was bad. "Zi, Zi, don't scare me like this!"

Frantically, I lay him on the bed and crouch beside him. Like I have done so many times over the years, since he was old enough to learn how to sneak out of the hideout (less than a month after he joined us, the little bastard), I give him a thorough exam. The horrible shakes and fever from earlier had returned, only worse. Only two bright red spots showed any color on his face. I can hear him coughing slightly, struggling to breathe. Nonono....

I prop him up on the pillows and search for something to help him with. Wet cloth, I need a wet cloth. Usually I use potions, but like he said earlier, it wouldn't--

I freeze. In the back of my mind, I know what I'm going to find when I start combing through Zidane's hair. I taste bile in my throat as I see more white streaking his hair. Zidane, please, don't let this mean what I think it does. Remember all those times I promised you sweets if you were good? I'll give you the whole damn shop this time. Just please, let me be wrong.

Anyway I looked at it, though, I know Zidane's getting sicker. I swallow thickly and stand up. "Don't worry, Zi," I say aloud. "I'll be back. You just hang on there, 'kay, buddy?"

If he answered right then, I probably would have shit myself. I don't care, though. I run out of the room. I need a basin of water and cloths and probably a new blanket and where the hell are you, Boss!?! I can't just watch him die!

Choking, I grab what I need and jog back to the room. Everything is telling me to run as fast as my legs can carry me, but I don't dare with the water. All I need to do is run back to him soaking wet. My hands are shaking so badly that I'm splashing it on me anyway. This isn't like the other times I've had to heal Zidane when he got into a scrape. Then I knew the enemy, I could use potions, magic. Now I have nothing.

Zidane is still wheezing and trembling on the bed when I get back to him. From across the room, I could see the faint light glinting off the white in his hair. I blank it from my mind and set to work. The supplies balance on the table beside his narrow bed. Quickly, I soak the rag and squeeze it until it's damp. Folding it, I pat down Zidane's burning face. I can feel the heat through the cloth. If Zidane doesn't get better soon, I might get sick!

"Hey, Zi," I coo softly, just like he was having a nightmare. Yeah, that's it, Zi's just having a bad nightmare again. I just have to treat this like a nasty, nasty nightmare and everything will be okay. "Blank's here, Blank's here. Shhhhh...." The words echo in my head like a mocking parody.

//"Has there been any other Genome with silver hair?"' I asked....Kuja's arms went real tight around me, and he started shivering.....//

Kuja was dying anyway. Kuja...was...dying...anyway....


"Everything's going to be all right, Zidane," I whisper hoarsely. "I'm right here, and I'm never leaving you alone. Remember, even after I was frozen in the forest. I came back to you. Come back to me."

//"I drank the potion. What's the point, though? I am as good as dead, anyway. Why try prolonging my life now?"//

"We have to plan the party," I continue on. "You wanted a party, remember? And I know you can talk Queen Garnet into inviting some of her richer friends. We're going to have fun now. When the Boss and Cinna get back, we'll have the full group here. I know they've been gone for a while, but that just means they have to be back soon, right? Right? Come on, Zi, you always love giving everyone your opinion. Don't you think so?"

//"...Better place to spend my last days...."//

"The whole gang will be here for the party. And we won't have any pickles. Earlier, you said you didn't want pickles, so no pickles. Plenty of sweets, though. I know you like sweets. You always used to snatch them out of my pockets. You would grab my hands like you were playing, while your tail would raid my pockets. I bet you remember that. You always remember every humiliating detail of my life. You like to tell the other members of Tantalus, especially when Marcus gets you drunk. He did it just to hear you talk, I know he did."

My voice hitches as Zidane moans softly on the bed. He pushes his face again the rag, and I don't know if he's trying to get closer to me or to the cool cloth. I don't know and I don't care. With my other hand, I start playing with his hair. Three strands of silver. So bright, they shine against Zidane's golden waves.

"Zidane, I'm here, Zi," I whisper hoarsely, laying my head beside him. "I'm always right here...."


What?!? I snap my head up, eyes wide. What? I look around the room, startled to see that the room's darker than earlier. I fell asleep. I fell asleep, I can't believe it!

"Zidane!" I shriek, whipping around. There he is on the bed, so still. How could I fall asleep?!? I was supposed to be watching him! I shouldn't have put my head now, what was I thinking! I didn't even notice, my eyes just slipped shut--

"Zidane, Zi!" I breathe, moving my hand. For the first time, I notice I'm still holding the cloth. It's still a little damp, now room temperature. Irritated, I dump it into the basin and turn back to Zidane. The eerie flush is gone from his cheeks, replaced by an eerie whiteness. It almost matches the silver in his hair. Quickly, I count the visible locks, even as I touch his neck. His pulse has steadied, his temperature is down, and I can't see anymore silver in his hair. I want so badly to be relieved, but I can't. Not when I know it's probably going to happen again.

I close my eyes against a rush of tears. "You didn't come back to us just to leave again, you bastard," I snarl. "I didn't give you up for dead then, and I won't now. You're a member of Tantalus, dammit! And you are going to get through this!"

I angrily rub my eyes and jump to my feet. Zi should be okay for the moment. I stomp out of the room to get some light foods. To get well, Zidane needs food. And he's going to eat this damn food whether he likes it or not.

As I slice up some vegetables, I think back over the tale Zidane has told me. More than anything, I hate Garland. I hate him for what he has put us through, and what the chocobo-fucking bastard is still putting us through. And while I want so badly to hate Kuja, all I can do is come up with jealousy. It wasn't his fault. If it wasn't for him, Zidane would have been--No. Bad thought. Think of something else, Blank, anything else.

I quietly prepare a small broth for Zidane, mentally changing the subject. I won't think of Zidane's lovely face, pale and devoid of life. I won't think of his shimmering, mischievous blue eyes, closed forever. I'll think of...of...something different! Anything other than Zidane.

But I can't, and I know it. Just like when he had entered my life so many years ago, Zidane is always uppermost in my thoughts.

"I wonder if you ever realized it, Zidane," I whisper to myself. "How I felt about you. How everyone felt about you. You were always bragging about being such a charmer, but did you know how you had everyone wrapped around your little finger? Did you know that the Boss never would have let anyone else get away with what you took for granted, or how Marcus and I always covered up for you when you were on one of your escapades, or how when you came back to a warm snack, it was because Ruby didn't want you going to bed cold? You were our heart, Zi. Did you ever know that?"

It doesn't take long for the soup to prepare, and silently, I pour it into two bowls. I'll wake Zidane up to try to get some food into him, and then I'll let him get back to sleep. I pray to every deity that I can think of that he'll wake up strong again.

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