Author's Notes: Originally, I was never planning on making a second part to "Promises." However, this story said **** you and made itself anyway. I had no choice in the matter! I wrote it a while ago and finally decided to post it. This is probably going to be the last continuation of "Promises." I hope you like it. Please review and tell me what you think. Like I said, I wrote it a while ago, so....
.....Zidane ends up unconscious in a lot of my fics. Oh well. I guess I'm a sadist. ^_^
"Zidane...Don't do this again, you sonuvabitch. Don't you dare."
Tears burned Blank's hazel eyes, and he bowed his head. Clutched tightly in his grip rested Zidane Tribal's limp hand. Unnaturally still, Zidane lay unconscious on the bed before him. A fresh change of clothes helped banish the memory of the last clothes his young love had worn.
Zidane had never seemed as small and as frail as he did right then, dwarfed in Regent Cid's lavish guest bedroom. His usual, rakish clothes, often aiding his larger than life appearance, did nothing when Blank knew how many bandages those clothes hid.
"Zidane," Blank whispered, freeing one hand to gently finger the bandage on the blond boy's head. Of all the injuries Zidane had sustained in the destruction of Alexandria, the wound to his head frightened physicians the most. Using white magic and potions, the healers had cured most of the other damage, but...with the head wound, there were no guarantees. Already, the physicians feared Zidane had slipped into a coma.
"You've already pulled this stunt on me once," Blank informed Zidane angrily. He pulled his hand away from Zidane's still face to wipe the tears from his own face.
His own...scarred face.
Blank's fingers drifted over the grafted skin. Used when Curaga and potions failed to stop the life draining out of him, the grafts had marred his once fine features horribly. More than anything else, Zidane's unconditional love and acceptance had eased Blank through the hard times.
However, it had not even come up until after the other crisis had calmed.
"Zidane," Blank repeated hoarsely. Maybe if he said it enough, it would return Zidane's vitality to the lifeless shell before him.
"You'd better not fall in love with that princess. I know how you are. Keep your eyes to yourself."
"How 'bout I flash them your way then? Would that be so bad?"
Blan shuddered and cupped Zidane's pale cheek. The rest of Tantalus had made no attempt to remove him from his lover's side, only bringing him food and drink when they checked on Zidane's condition. Sometimes, Baku would sit with him, touching his adopted son's hair and face. Zidane's newest group, while most of them confused by Blank's actions, did not question him. At one time of another, each of them had sat with Blank. Even Steiner had accompanied him once, grumbling about the "scoundrel" even as he worriedly watched over him.
"...promise me you'll be careful, all right?"
"My promise. Now yours."
"Here it is. You have my promise I'll be careful. But I'll need your promise before you'll need mine."
"I never thought it would come to this when we first started," Blank whispered. "I bet you didn't, either. I know what you were thinking about, and it had nothin' to do with business."
Zidnae made no smart-ass remark in return.
Blank closed his eyes, attempting to banish the sight of Zidane lying so bonelessly on the bed. Another image, so similar and yet so different, flashed behind his eyes. Zidane, much smaller and still so frail and pale, lying on a tinier bed. His bright, loving, laughing eyes hidden by shadowed lids. Shivering, haunted, Blank again fingered his grafted skin, his other hand never releasing Zidane's lifeless hand.
"Zidane! You fool!"
* "Zidane! You fool!"
The impish blond grinned innocently at the older boy. "I don't know what you mean, Blank," Zidane chirped. The ten-year-old flicked his tail behind him, touching the redhead. "Baku wanted us to find more weapons."
Blank huffed. With a burst of speed, the older boy caught up to Zidane. "I don't think he meant like that!"
"Stop, thieves! Stop!"
"Do the guards actually expect people to stop when they yell that?" Zidane quipped, pumping his tiny legs.
Blank would have sighed in exasperation if he had enough breath.
The two young members of Tantalus raced through the back alleys of Lindblum, several guards racing after them. The eager guards were no match for the two spry youths, however; their superior knowledge of the backways gave them an edge, as did Zidane's strong tail helping them up the side of a building.
"The sly eagle strikes again," Zidane snickered quietly, flopped on his belly beside Blank. Below them, the three young guards scratched their heads in confusion, wondering where their prey had gone to.
Blank raised an eyebrow. "The sly eagle?" he snorted.
Zidane grinned mischievously. "Ha! Do you really wanna know?"
After a moment's thought, Blank shook his head and hopped to his feet. "Nah, the less I know, the less the Boss can ask me about. Come on. We better get back to the hideout before lights out. You know how strict the Boss is about that kinda stuff."
Zidane pouted but reluctantly agreed when Blank yanked his tail. However, the pout stayed until he forgot why he was pouting.
After climbing back down, the two young thieves crept through the back alleys back to the hideout. All the while, Blank kept a protective arm slung over Zidane's shoulders Partly there to make sure Zidane didn't run off, it was mainly there for Blank's own comfort. So often when he looked at Zidane, he would see the starving streetrat of three years ago. Never before had he ever felt as protective of anyone as he did that little tailed stranger, and over the years, that feeling had only intensified. Thankfully, Zidane never minded. He was a very tactile creature, and when Blank was in that mood, he touched Zidane often, reassuring himself that the younger boy was still safe. Zidane reveled in the affection.
"You think Ruby saved us any dinner?" Zidane asked hopefully, snuggling closer in Blank's grip.
Blank snorted, squeezing Zidane. "Of course. And she'll make sure we eat ever last bit. Now hurry up! We won't get anything if the Boss catches us sneaking in late."
Zidane sniffed but had not time to respond.
"You punks shouldn't be on our turf," a young voice snarled.
Blank stiffened and pulled Zidane close. Nooo...Oh, shit. The blond struggled in his grip, but Blank refused to let him go. I'll protect you, Zidane, I'll take care of you. Just stay behind me!
Half a dozen boys stood before them in the narrow, dank alley. Blank instantly recognized them as members of one of the street gangs running wild in Lindblum's streets. Dangerous as hell if you stepped into their territory.
But I didn't think they had territory this close to the hideout!
"We're just trying to get back to our own," Blank called calmly, belying the terror that thrilled through his veins. "We didn't realize your turf stretched so far. Just tell us the boundaries, and we'll leave it."
The oldest, about three years older than Blank, stepped forward. "Can't do that. Can't let others think that a couple sprats can walk all over us. You'll be a warning to everyone else just how far our turf reaches." The boy nodded at Blank, but spoke to the others behind him. "Use your weapons on the redhead, but the blond's so small you can just thump him. Go for it."
The flash of steel chilled Blank to the bone, and he hastily pushed Zidane behind him. By Bahamut, we're going to die, Blank through, hearing Zidane cry out. The sound of a knife slicing through his stomach drowned out Zidane's screams.
The fall to the alley floor seemed impossibly long. Blank never noticed, only watched as Zidane was held by two bigger kids. The slight boy was slammed hard into a brick wall, but his violent struggles never ceased.
"Blank!" Zidane's shrieks rang in his ears as the world grayed out. "Blank! Blank!"
No! I can't...I can't leave Zidane. Zi, I'm so sorry. Zi, please you have got to hang on!
Blazing pain spiked through his face and limbs with more flashes of steel. Red overcame his vision. Then he drifted into a drowsy numbness. The comforting grayness darkened. Everythig grew terribly distant, and Blank struggled to keep everything from fading. The shadows became his world. He could hear shouts, then screams. Were any of those Zidane's?
"Blank! Please, wake up! Blank!"
Zi! You're here, but...why do you sound so upset? Are you crying? Did they hurt you?
"Don't worry...don't...worry...I'll get you back to Tantalus...or die trying...."
Zi...are you hurt? You sound so tired.
Blank forced one hazel eye open, to see two thin arms wrapped around his chest. The sleeves were torn, revealing savagely bruised and bloodied flesh. With a massive effort, Blank weakly raised his head to look at Zidane's face.
Blood dribbled from the battered child's mouth, nose, and ears. The light had faded from Zidane's blue eyes. Dark bruises hid white, white skin, and even as he dragged Blank, the boy turned his head and spat fresh blood. Mouth free from the crimson liquid, Zidane panted and moaned.
"I...I got a weapon now, Blank," Zidane managed hoarsely. "A...a dagger. Took those...bastards out...with it, Blank. You...you would've been...so proud...."
Zidane faltered, and his beautiful eyes shut momentarily. Then he straightened, and his eyes darkened with determination.
"I...I won't...give in!" Zidane snarled. "I...I won't...give in...until you're safe...until I know...you're safe..."
Those were the last words Blank heard before he passed out. ~~~~~~~
"Cinna, move your fat ass! We need potions now!"
"Hang on, Bro. You can't leave us!"
"Zidane, please, go lay down. You need to rest."
"No! I told him I wouldn't leave until he was okay!"
Again, Blank blacked out. ~~~~~~~
"Blank? You can wake up now. It's safe."
Blank stirred faintly. The pain and the numbness from before was gone, replaced by a strange itching on his skin. Blank frowned and shifted. His skin felt...alien to him.
He forced his hazel eyes open, immediately meeting weary blue. Zidane smiled at him, and Blank became aware that the boy was curled along his side. Bandages covered the boy's blond head, and as Blank glanced down, he realized that bandages covered both of their bodies.
"Blank," Zidane whispered, running his small finger gently along Blank's jaw. "The creeps cut you badly. I got you back to Tantalus. They were able to save your life, but..." Tears made Zidane's crystal eyes shimmer. "I think you lost some of your good looks. It's okay, though. Your charm will make up for it."
Blank blinked, and Zidane's smile softened. "Don't worry. We'll love you anyway. I'm happy you're okay, Blank."
Another blink from Blank. Something was wrong...with Zidane. But what? "Zidane?" Blank whispered huskily. "Where's the others?"
Zidane sighed softly. "They're here. They just don't know you're awake."
Blank frowned. "Zidane, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," Zidane whispered. "I said...that I wouldn't give in...until I knew you were okay. You're okay now, Blank. So...I'm going to take a small nap."
Instantly, the fog over Blank's mind vanished. In growing horror, he watched as Zidane's eyes slipped shut. Instinctively, he knew this was no ordinary sleep.
"Zidane!" Blank shrieked, his scratchy throat screaming in protest. "Zidane!!"
Zidane refused to wake. *
"The head wound those punks had given you," Blank said to the unconscious figure on the bed, "was more serious than anyone had thought. You never gave into it, though, not until you knew I was okay. You were so determined, so devoted. When you did pass out, you slipped right into a coma. You didn't awaken again until almost two weeks later. I was so worried about you that I didn't even care about the grafts. Afterwards, you accepted them unconditionally...you accepted me. It helped me get through it."
Blank leaned over and kissed Zidane's still lips. "You had better wake up. I'll never be able to get through losing you."
As before, Zidane gave no answer, and Blank kissed him again before settling back for his vigil.
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