Author's Notes: (shudders) I really need to revamp this story. It’s full of repetition and contradiction. I suppose I should have worked harder on it. Whenever I paused (damn writer’s block!) I lost my ideas for this. Well, I’m going to finish this, and then we’ll see.

Major thanks go to Leanna Diaz and Jordan Terrafell. Without them, I never would have got this far with this fic.

Bring Me Home

Chapter Twelve - My Story

By tir-synni


“Things were grim. As the days passed, more Genomes fell. Every day, Kuja would listlessly play with my hair. He seemed so happy that there was no white visible yet. With the others who had taken the same potion, the white in their hair was a major sign of their failing health. My hair was more out of the ponytail than in.

“Kuja was always awake when I visited, but I doubt he saw me. He would always greet me with a vague smile. Mikoto never left his side. Younger Genomes brought food and drink for them both. It was strange, how everyone in the village seemed to rely on those two. If Kuja’s health worsened, everyone’s hopes faltered. If he held on, everyone kept fighting, too. If Mikoto kept her chin up, so did everyone else. If she began worrying too much about Kuja, everyone fretted about their own health.

“I ended up spending most of my time with the Black Mages. While they, too, had a short life span, theirs weren’t as obvious as the Genomes. They simply...stopped, as they put it. Genomes had a long, painful death. Perhaps that was why they were more energetic than the Genomes. The Genomes struggled to keep their members healthy and secure, while the Black Mages concentrated on a cure. I didn’t know much about medicine, but Mikoto did, and whatever information I found out, I took back to her. Kuja rarely noticed, but Mikoto always had advice to take back to the Mages.

“It’s funny, really. Kuja had made the Black Mages to be worse puppets than the Genomes were. I guess just for comparison. Kinda like to say, ‘We may be bad, but they’re worse.’ I never quite got that reasoning. In the end, though, they were what turned the tables on our battle. The Genomes had lots of mages, but the Black Mages were created to be solely magic users. They lived and breathed magic, while Genomes...well...we tend to think of things...more...physical, I guess you could say. My people kept looking for potions and the such. The Black Mages looked for a spell.

“It was number 362 that tried the first spell. He was one of the few who preferred a number to a name. I can’t remember the reason why...but one day he ran into our home at dawn. I was asleep, wrapped around Kuja. In the other beds, most of the Genomes were still sleeping in their pairs. In the building, only Mikoto was awake, watching over me and Kuja. 362 woke everyone with his happy chattering, but Kuja only looked at him vaguely. He had no idea what was going on.

“ ‘Zi,’ he whispered. I just stroked his hair and looked at 362.

“ ‘What’s up?’ I asked. It was hard not to smile at him. He was bouncing! Like you used to do when you were younger, and had just stolen something really nice. He was beaming at us...I think.

“ ‘A new spell to try,’ he explained. ‘I thought I would try it on Kuja first.’

“That was always how it was done. Any new experiments were always tried on Kuja. To try to prolong his life until a real cure could be found.

“I backed off quickly, too quickly. A dizzy spell struck, and I ended up on my tail. At least I coaxed a smile from Kuja. Bastard always did find it funny when I made an ass out of myself.

“Thankfully, Mikoto ended up getting the coordination in our little family. She helped Kuja sit up while I sat down, and 362 settled on the bed before him. Kuja stared at him, not recognizing him, and started looking for me. I scrambled around both Mikoto and the Black Mage to kneel beside Kuja. He calmed instantly. I’m not sure what it was about me that always calmed him, or why he still recognized me when everyone else was a blur. He seemed his most...aware...when I was around. Whatever the reason, I was grateful.

“I’m not quite sure what spell he was using. Mikoto concentrated hard on him as 362 placed his hands on Kuja’s chest. I gripped Kuja’s hand tightly and focused on him. His eyes met mine in return. They were dark and foggy. Like when Ruby’s dog got that eye condition...what’s it called? When he started going blind or somethin’? I can’t remember. But it was like that. And then...they started to clear. Kuja blinked, still staring at me, and for the first time in too long, he really began to see me. His eyes widened, and hand clutched tightly at mine.

“ ‘Zidane!’ he breathed, his hand tight on my own. I almost cried.

“ ‘No, I’m Mikoto on one of her better looking days,’ I retorted, but I didn’t let go of his hand.

“His free hand came up and fingered my hair. I purred and rubbed against him happily before turning to Mikoto. She was gifting us with one of her rare smiles, and 362 was really bouncing now. I started laughing, while Kuja just looked at us like we were all nuts.

“ ‘It worked!’ 362 crowed. ‘It worked, it worked!’

“Mikoto touched Kuja’s face gently before turning to 362. ‘What was that spell?’

“To this day, I still have no idea what he said. Mikoto was nice enough to translate for me later, though. Pretty much what the spell did was a type of reversal. Genomes and Black Mages, while created in a lab, were still living creatures who should have had the life span of a normal creature. It was a spell that had shortened that for all of us. The later it got, the stronger on us got, and 362 was able to detect the spell. Since he could find it, he could do a version of dispel. But since the spell on us had to be really strong, the reversal spell wouldn’t work until the person was almost completely taken over. Did any of that make sense? If not, I’m still not repeating it.

“The spell was taught to all of the mages. It was harder to do on the Black Mages. Like I said, they just drop. They didn’t have symptoms. Each Black Mage had to be checked individually. Now that took a long time. It’s amazing how many of them there were. The Genomes were easier. If they had pure white hair, or in the case of the Genomes who had taken the other potion, whitening hair, do the spell.

“Kuja was the farthest along, so after the spell had been easiest to do on him. Unfortunately, he was also the strongest of the Genomes. If the mages waited that long for anyone else to do the spell, the Genome would be dead. All they could do was try to prolong each person’s life and do the spell, hoping it would work. If the spell didn’t catch, we wouldn’t know until the Genome was dead. Over the next year, several of the younger Genomes died. The spell had been performed, but it hadn’t worked. The symptoms continued whether or not the spell had been performed, so you couldn’t tell like that. The only way to tell was whether or not the person died. If you tried the spell twice and it had caught the first time, there was the chance of stopping the person’s heart. We lost two other Genomes that way. You just had to hope that the first spell worked.

“Kuja grew stronger in the next couple months. It was like he had a new grasp on life. I stayed with him until it was time for the spell to be cast on me. Since I left them, Mikoto has declared herself Kuja’s guardian. She promised me that she would watch out for him. If the spell worked on me, then I guess I’ll go back one day to check on them. We should find out soon enough if the spell worked.

“Well, you know my story.”

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