Author's Notes: I know Zi's voice is a little different from the other chapters. There's a reason for that. All this is is him talking. Based on the last chapter, do you think he can chatter like usual? Tell me what you think.

Bring Me Home

Chapter Ten - A Ray of Light

By tir-synni


"We stayed in the village for several weeks. I didn't want to leave Kuja. He stayed the same as before, but now....He seemed so tired. He grew paler, and more listless. His eyes grew older. Before my eyes, he was aging.

"Kuja was dying.

" 'You can't just give up!' I told him day after day. 'There is a way, I know there is!'

"You know that damn little dramatic sigh that you do? Yeah, that one. He had it down. Whenever I brought the subject up, the little sigh would come out.

" 'I am to die, Zidane,' he told me every time. 'You can't stop the inevitable.'

"Every day it was the same. And every day he grew worse. His face was trying to match the color of his hair.

"After several weeks, it was impossible to coax him out of bed. He was too tired, too limp. He had given up. It wasn't Garland's power that had been affecting him as much as Garland's words. No matter what I said, he refused to fight what he believed was inevitable. I was giving up hope, too.

"Then it began.

"The other Genomes began falling ill. Flu-like symptoms, mainly attacking the older Genomes. At first they feared it was an epidemic. It was worse. No one realized it until the white streaks began appearing. They were dying of the same thing Kuja was.

"When Mikoto and I told Kuja, that revived him like nothing else. 'Garland must have had all the Genomes on self-destruct,' he revealed to us. 'In case none of his Angels could accomplish their mission. That way, when the next Angel succeeded, the souls of Terra would have younger, healthier bodies.'

" 'That's sick!' I exclaimed. Mikoto just looked on impassively.

"Kuja didn't answered. He pulled himself off the bed. 'When I first showed the symptoms, Garland gave me a potion. It speeded up the signs but pushed back everything else. I could still operate efficiently, and I would die either way. Everyone else will simply sicken and die.'

"Looking at him, finally hauling himself up after laying there for weeks, I knew what to do. Kuja believed that he deserved death. He hadn't fought against his fate. He didn't believe he deserved it. But I knew he didn't believe it of the other Genomes. For them he would fight.

" 'If Garland had that potion handy, maybe he had others, too!' I urged.

"Kuja gave me a wry look. 'Yes, let's just go to Terra and look. Oh wait! I destroyed it! Never mind.'

"Dying and he was still a jackass. Hey, what's that look on your face for? Stop it!

"Hmph! Anyway. 'If there's a way, you have to look,' I retorted. 'It's more than just your life at stake now.'

"Kuja shut up. My proudest moment.

"Mikoto plopped on the bed beside Kuja. Or slowly sat. Whatever. The looks on their faces were so similar that it was funny. Neither of them appreciated the humor. But in the end, it didn't matter. Kuja had a new reason to fight now. Even if it was just absolution.

"Kuja and Mikoto sat for a while, talking about Garland and possible cures. I left them to it. They were just confusing me. Instead, I went to help the other Genomes. It was mainly the elders, which helped. The younger ones were able to make a type of hospital for them. Never before had they a need for one. The Black Mages helped.

"When I got back, Kuja and Mikoto were talking about the potion Garland had originally used. I kinda got the gist of it...after they explained a couple times. Nice smirk, Blank. Looks great on you. Kuja knew the formula to make it. After all, he made it his life to one-up Garland. You know that whole know-thy-enemy thing? He had it down to a T. With the help of the Black Mages, they thought they might be able to change it. That way, they could totally cure someone, instead of simply giving them more time. Kuja was more charged than I had seen him in a while, but there was still a darkness in his eyes.

"They used a section of the hospital to work. The main problem was getting the ingredients. You got it. I had fetch duty. Using the original formula, the older Genomes all had white hair. But they had more time. It was wierd, seeing all those people with white hair. Kinda freaky. Still, they were more mobile. We had a chance.

"For two years, they worked on finding a final cure. Poor Kuja was the test dummy. He was growing weaker. Even with the potions, he couldn't get out of bed. Mikoto gave him new potions, hoping to keep him going. The other Genomes could last a little longer. Kuja had fallen before them, though. He was running out of time.

"At the beginning of our third year in Black Mage Village, we realized we were all running out of time."

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