Bring Me Home
Chapter One - Escaping the Iifa Tree
"I suppose Dagger and the others told you what happened. While we were leaving, I heard Kuja's voice. He wasn't calling me back...he was saying farewell. And I knew then, when I realized he was alive, that I couldn't just leave him. All the things he had done, all the things everyone hated him for...in his place I know...I would have done the same thing. He wasn't bad, or evil. I knew that then, just like I know this now. So when I realized he was alive, I had no choice but to return to him, to try to keep him that way. Even if I couldn't...I didn't want him to die feeling that he was alone. It wouldn't have been right. No one deserved that.
"So, of course, I decided to return to him, and sent everyone else forward. No one agreed with this. Amarant didn't care either way, he just wanted to get the hell out of there, but everyone else either wanted to take me with them or follow me back into the Iifa Tree. You have to understand, this was my fight. Everyone had their own responsibilities. Dagger had Alexandria, as did Steiner, while he also had his queen. Freya had Burmecia. Eiko and Vivi were young, and they had so much to learn about their lives. They had to grow. Quina had to explore the world some more, check out all the foods...you know, Qu stuff. They each had their responsibilities to themselves. Kuja was my responsibility, and I knew I could not leave him like that. So I convinced everyone else to leave, and I returned to Kuja's side.
"Heh, kinda strange, really. Everyone viewed Kuja as so selfish, only caring about his own life. Yet, he was the one who used his dying energy to teleport us to safety. When I called down to him, telling him I was coming, he told me to leave him.
" 'You still have time...' he said. 'Forget about me and go.'
" 'Just shut up, and stay where you are!' I hollered back. Stupid advice, now that I think about it. It wasn't like he was going anywhere. Oh, well.
" '...I don't understand you,' was all he said back. Damn, I hear that a lot.
"We didn't speak anymore until I got to him. The Iifa Tree was kinda pissed, but I was focusing mainly on Kuja. He was in rough shape, I'll tell you that much. I knew it then, but I still had to ask the question.
" 'Hey, are you alright?' Not a word, Blank. Questions like that are required. Besides, I think it made him feel a little better knowing I was concerned about him.
" 'Zidane...? What are you doing here? I thought I told you to go?'
" 'Wouldn't you do the same thing for me if you knew I was dying?' Yeah, yeah, I know. Stupid question. I didn't get an answer. So I brushed it off.
"Like I said, Kuja was in pretty shitty shape. I could tell he was trying to stay awake. He kept blinking at me, and he looked wiped. Still, he was holding on, talking to me.
" 'Your comrades were able to escape?' he asked.
" 'Yeah...I knew you had something to do with it.'
"He didn't answer directly, but we both knew it.
" 'I'm glad they made it,' he responded.
" 'Yeah, well...it's our turn to get movin'.' That place wasn't the safest place to be, and Kuja had to be taken to a healer. I could see him getting worse before my eyes. That still is one of my most horrible memories. The light was fading from his eyes, and his skin was getting pale. Hell, he wasn't even commenting about how his mascara was smearing!
" '...I don't deserve to live after all that I've done. I'm useless,' Kuja whispered, and started to close his eyes. He was giving up. I couldn't let him do that. If he gave up, then he would die still haunted by what he had done.
" 'No one's useless,' I retorted. 'You helped us escape, remember?'
" '...After you guys beat me, I had nothing left...nothing left to lose. Then I finally realized what it means to live. I guess I was too late.'
"I don't think you've ever really seen Kuja, Blank. Before he snapped, anyway. Before Garland told him he would die soon. He was confident, ready and able to take everything on. Hell, he almost won! But in the Iifa Tree, he was prepared to die. That was all he knew, and he didn't see any reason to fight it.
" 'Hey! Don't you go dying on me, alright?' I shouted.
"Soon after, the Iifa Tree branches slammed down after us. Kuja was either unconscious or dead, I didn't know at the time, but I dived over him and covered him anyway. One branch slammed into my side, and another almost cut my hair. I really don't know what happened after that. I guess I passed out.
"When I awoke again, it was dark. Kuja was beside me, and I felt him moving. He was moving slowly, but he was moving. I couldn't see him, but I could feel his hand touching my face.
" 'You stayed,' he said. He sounded so...awed. 'You stayed with me, knowing you could die.'
"His voice was all soft and husky. It was obvious he wasn't up to par yet. I moved a little and realized he had snagged a couple of my potions from my bag. He touched me again, and I felt him press a potion to my mouth.
" 'One of the roots stabbed your side,' Kuja informed me quietly. 'I can feel you bleeding from over here. Drink this.'
"Heh. It was kinda a switch, wasn't it? Originally, I was watching over him. Now he was the one shoving potions down my throat.
" 'Thanks,' I said when I could talk again. 'How many have you drank? Do you feel up to trying to get out of here?'
"I felt him hesitate. 'Yes, I think so,' he murmured. Then I heard a faint whine come from him. I almost panicked. What if he was moving too much? What if he collapsed again? Was he hurting?
" 'Are you all right?' I asked. All right, all right, I kinda yelled it. Give me a break.
"Another mewl answered me. 'My hair's a mess,' Kuja pouted. 'I broke several nails, and I know I look horrible. Besides that, I'm fine.'
"I don't know what urge was stronger: hugging him because he was all right, or smacking him. To this day, I believe if I wasn't so tired, I woulda nailed him.
" 'Come on,' I sighed, pushing myself up. 'We have to get outta here.'
"He summoned a ball of light with his magic, and we were able to look around. After a good look at him, I knew that while he was better, he did not have the strength to free us. I was feeling like shit, but because I was doing better than he was, I decided I would have to be the one to get us out. Kuja looked ready to collapse, potions or no. The ball of light was taking up the last bits of his energy.
" 'All right,' I breathed, straightening myself up. My side felt all stiff and sticky, but I ignored it. I didn't think it was all that bad. 'Let's see if this works. THIEVERY!'
I used my skill Thievery--I wasn't ready to try out my luck just yet with Lucky Seven--to see if I could blast any of the roots away. It cleared out the area if front of us and gave us room to stand. Too bad after that all I could do was sit.
" 'You fool!' Kuja blasted, plopping down beside me. 'You didn't have the strength to perform any spells yet.'
"In case you haven't noticed, Kuja was feeling better. Still, I was doing better, so I hauled my ass back up to try my hand destroying the roots again.
" 'Just rest,' I told him. 'I got it.'
"And the ungrateful bastard scoffed. Trust me, at that moment, I did not need that.
"I screamed and summoned my power up, going into Trance. I could hear Kuja freaking out behind me, and at that moment, I didn't really know why. Now I know. It was kinda stupid to try using any major power then, but I was tired and hurting and not feeling real great, so I didn't give a shit.
" 'Grand Lethal!' I shouted, pointing in front of me. Using my most powerful spell definitely wasn't that bright, but I had enough control that neither Kuja or I was hit by any of the magic. I was conscious long enough to realize that I had cleared a path to freedom, and then I dropped.
"When I awoke again, it was to sunlight on my face and Kuja at my side. He was asleep and curled up around me. Did you know his tail is silver? He had it wrapped around my thigh, real tight. Couldn't feel my toes. His head was resting on my chest, and his long hair was tickling my nose. It was really soft, you know? Like feathers. His arms were wrapped around my waist, and he was all warm. It almost made me want to go back to sleep, but I knew we had to get out of there.
"I started to get up, and felt something tug my side and stomach. I looked down, past all of Kuja's hair, and I saw my shirt was ripped to shreds. Underneath my shirt was strips of Kuja's skirt, or whatever it was. He had used them to bandage my side. I have to admit, I was touched. This was the same dude who had panicked over his hair being messy, and he still tore up his clothes to make a bandage for me. Yep, I was touched.
"Kuja was pale as hell, and he looked really peaceful, so I tried not to wake him when I stood up. I thought back and tried to think of someplace we could go to for help. I doubted the dwarves would recognize him, but I wasn't sure if we could reach there. Last time I checked, the Iifa Tree's roots had blocked that off. I thought Madain Sari would be the best place, all considering, and I knew there was a moogle there I could get more supplies off of. So Madain Sari it was. It was a little bit of a walk, and while I was pretty sure I could make it, I didn't think Kuja could, so I did the only think I could: I picked him up and carried him.
"Kuja never moved when I cradled him in my arms, besides putting his arms around my neck. I don't think he was consciously aware he was doing it. His tail was still wrapped around my thigh, and it put me a little off balance, but I just gritted my teeth and started out of there. By the time I got us both out of there, the sun was gone.
"I knew which direction Madain Sari was, so I just steadied Kuja in my arms and started walking. I really don't know what happened during that walk. All I know was Kuja kept getting heavier and heavier, and I was stumbling more and more. I kept trying to balance with my tail, but I found it preferred wrapping around Kuja's leg. Damn thing always had a mind of its own. After a while, I heard the chirping of moogles, and then they were all around me, leading me inside to bed. Kuja refused to let me go. He kept wrapping his arms around my throat and snuggling, so after a while the moogles stopped trying to put him in another bed. They just let him sleep with me. I didn't mind. I just wanted to sleep, and like I said earlier, Kuja was warm. I just kept my tail wrapped around him and drifted to sleep.
"As the moogles left, each on their own mission, I felt Kuja's lips brush against mine, and I heard him whisper faintly, 'Thank you.' And then I fell asleep."
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