Author's Notes: I'm getting more comments on this story than any other. Most of them consists of people yelling at me. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Anyway, I'm grateful for it. It means people are reading it! Thank you! Please, keep them coming!
Bring Me Home
Chapter Eleven - An Angel's Tears
"It had gotten to the point that Kuja could no longer leave his bed. Mikoto had become his constant companion. Those two had become attached at the hip. I still teased them about it, and occasionally, Kuja would even give me a response. Often, he would only look at me with dark eyes. He was dying without ever having achieved his absolution. No cure had been found, and now it seemed all the Genomes had fallen. They still fought, but none were immune. It helped Kuja, watching Mikoto and I walk around. He believed that Garland wouldn't have cursed his last two Angels as well.
"As usual, the bastard was wrong.
"Okay, maybe not as usual, but still. You get the point.
"Anyway. I was with Mikoto and Kuja when it happened. I was trying to force some food down that stubborn ass's throat. Joking, I put a piece of fruit in my mouth and kissed him. It was sweet, I can still recall that. Or maybe that was Kuja's mouth. I slipped it from my mouth to his. I pulled back when I felt him smiling. It was rare to see him smile, so I sat up to look at it. I had a great view of his face shifting into a grimace of horror. He looks prettier when he's smiling, I thought.
"When I saw Kuja's face again, it was even whiter than before. For some weird reason, he was hovering over me. Last I recalled, I was over him. I like being on top. I opened my mouth to point that out, but he cut me off.
" 'I thought Garland would have spared you.' It came out as a whisper. Throughout it all, he had retained that damned pride of his, but at that moment, it was gone. Nothing scared me as much as that. 'And if you're affected, then so is Mikoto.'
"I had just woken up from sleeping over twenty-four hours. Mikoto was nice enough to inform me of that later. So I had no idea what the hell he was talking about.
" 'Huh?' I managed. His eyes were strangely bright. Kuja kept touching my face, like you're doing now. I had never seen him look like that before.
" 'The Black Mages gave you the latest potions while you were asleep,' he continued softly. His hands strayed over my face and trailed through my hair. I felt delicate in his hands, like I was the one on the brink of death. 'It's like the ones they're giving to the younger Genomes now. It'll slow the symptoms, but that's all they promise.'
"It still took a moment for what he was saying to hit me. When it did, I felt sick. The way Kuja had been talking...it made me feel immune. I truly thought that I wouldn't be affected. Now I learned that none of us was safe.
"I couldn't speak, but Kuja didn't seem to mind. He only pulled me into his arms and held me as tight as he could. The illness had sapped much of his strength, but he didn't care at that moment. He just held me tight. I let him. I couldn't do anything else at that moment.
"Later, Mikoto also informed me that, while I was asleep, three of the elder Genomes had been considered officially bedridden. The Genomes were on their last legs.
"Our race was dying. In Kuja's arms, I truly doubted that we could survive.
"It was like the original scenario all over again. Knowing that I was ill seemed to give Kuja strength. While he still could not rise, he struggled to help the Black Mages and the younger Genomes the best he could. All the knowledge he had acquired in the war against Garland came to fore.
"It didn't matter, though. We were Terran creatures. To many of us, it became clear that our hope had died with Terra. Whatever Garland had used to create us contained our hope, but we could not find it.
"With this knowledge, Kuja grew quiet. I tried, but I could not cajole him to speak. He would simply look at me before going through his books again.
"Another year passed. Mikoto, too, had fallen ill. A new potion had been created, but it was for the elder Genomes. It was made with Kuja in mind, actually. But it didn't matter. He was still alive, but he never moved from his bed. He was only happy when I was there with him. His fire was gone. Even with the new potions and spells, he only had a year to live, and he knew it. Everyone did.
"During the day, I helped as much as I could. With the new potion I took, and the speed in which it was given, the only sign I was showing was of sickness. My hair was still blond. The only signs were occasional weak spells. Strangely, the Genomes preferred that to the original method. I guess they felt like they could hide it better. They were still dying, but at least this way, they couldn't see it.
"At night, though, things were different. Everything was really quiet. I still slept with Kuja, holding him tightly. As time passed, he grew frailer and frailer. If not for the potions, he would have died a long time ago. That thought was on everyone's mind, but at night, there was nothing to block it out. All everyone could do was hold someone, and pray for the dawn. I never found out where Mikoto would vanish to, and I never asked. At night, everything consisted of Kuja, and his white hair in contrast to my blond. He would sleep in my arms, and I would protect him as best I could.
"The days passed too quickly. Many Genomes would go to bed, and not rise again. One Genome, about Kuja's age but without his magical strength, died in his sleep. At that point, we could no longer use Kuja as a clock. His magic helped keep him alive. The ones who were given the original potion, the ones running around with hair like Kuja's, were losing whatever hope they had left.
" 'Zidane,' Kuja spoke once, when he was lying in my arms. It was very rare for Kuja to speak then, so I kept my mouth shut. He turned to look at me and smiled. 'Zidane.'
"All I could do was grin at him and nudge him affectionately with my nose. 'Kuja,' I returned, but my heart wasn't in it. I was trying to keep my hopes up, Blank, but it was just so hard.
"He leaned forward slightly and kissed my lips. 'Have I ever told you how beautiful you are?' he asked softly, absently. His eyes were distant. I wondered if he even saw me. I didn't answer, just stared back at him.
" 'You are, you know,' he continued quietly. 'The most beautiful of all Garland's children. I still remember you, when you were young. I tried to hate you, I really did. You usurped my position. You, a little runt! You were Garland's favorite, and with you, I was dismissed like trash. I hated you, I envied you, I wanted to destroy you. But you never let me feel that way. Whenever you saw me, you would always shriek with excitement and throw yourself into my arms. You would always share your snacks, and gossip with me like the flashes that the machines made was the greatest thing in the world. You never let me hate you.'
"I had not heard him speak so much for years. Tears burned my eyes, but I quickly wiped them away. Kuja saw me, though, and stopped the motion.
" 'I cannot cry,' he whispered. 'I have not seen the other Genomes cry. They do not have your passion, Zidane. No other Terran, no Gaian could match you. You always were Garland's perfect Angel. He just never recognized that you could not be an Angel of Death.' With visible effort, he hauled himself up and kissed my cheeks. 'Cry for me, Zidane. Cry for us all.'
"So I did the only thing I could do. I cried."
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