Author's Notes: Please review! Please? :|
"Blank..." Zidane whispered, glancing back at the petrified forest. "You promised me...that you would...be careful...I was the one who always took stupid risks, remember? Why did you do it this time?"
He sighed and clenched his fists. "I want--I want to stay here with you, but I gotta go back to the others. I can't trust ol' Rusty to watch over them. But--but I'll be back for you. Tantalus will be back for you. I swear."
His slender shoulders trembling with unshed tears, Zidane stumbled after the others, memories flooding his mind.
You were the first to take me in, to take a poor thief off the streets of Lindblum and introduce him to a real family...Heh...I tried to pick your pocket...
"Winter's tougher than usual, this year," a seven-year-old Zidane Tribal hissed between clenched teeth, holding his tattered clothes tight to him. "And all the nobles went to Treno. Makes the thieving a little bad."
Zidane huddle a little more in the shadows of the Theatre District, keeping a sharp, true-blue eye out for prospective targets. Nothing yet...Better avoid that bastard...Beat the shit out of me last time I tried to steal from him. Nothing, nothing...wait! Right there. The redhead. He seems to have a pretty full pouch. Let's see....
The blonde allowed himself a small smirk before stifling it. Slinking through the shadows, Zidane started for his target. His slender hand snatched out, grabbing the pouch off without disrupting the belt, and pushed off for a sprint.
"Itai!" Zidane shrieked as a hand clamped down hard on his tail. He opened his mouth to scream again, but a second hand silenced him. Zidane's eyes widened in horror as he was pulled into the very shadows he had been hiding in.
"A thief, trying to steal from me," an amused voice murmured in his ear. "Nothing to say, little one?"
Zidane bit sharply at the hand holding his mouth, and instantly, it released hi. "Well, it was your own fault," he replied blithely. "Your pouch was out there in plain sight. A temptation to all thieves."
A snort. "Where'd a little kid like you learn a big word like that?"
Zidane smiled smugly. "A shopkeeper told me that I could resist anything but temptation. Learned it from there."
A small laugh before Zidane was pushed away. The other person, however, still had yet to release his tail. The redhead looked him over, from Zidane's confident smirk, to his wary eyes, to his painfully skinny body. "Thieving been poor lately, kiddo?"
Zidane noticed how the redhead seemed to linger on his black eye. It made him uncomfortable, but the boy tried not to show it. "It'll pick up soon," Zidane assured him. "It always does." He twitched his tail pointedly. "Now, can you...?"
The redhead smirked at him. "You still have my money."
Zidane swallowed hard. But...dinner... he thought longingly, eyeing the pouch in his hand. Food.... His small hand convulsively tightened around the bag before he reluctantly offered it to the stranger. Another day, another fight.
"I'll find another," Zidane replied airily, even as his heart wrenched in his chest. Zidane's tiny fingers trembled when the redhead's free hand clamped over his much smaller one. "P-piece of cake."
Zidane closed his eyes, unable to watch when the redhead took the money. I'll find another, he repeated to himself.
The boy jumped when the redhead closed Zidane's fingers over the pouch. Zidane's eyes shot open, and he gazed at the redhead's gently smiling face. "Keep it," the redhead told him gruffly. "You've earned it. I like your guts, kid. How would you like to join Tantalus?"
Zidane stared at him in wonder. "Tantalus?" he whispered. He had heard of them. An acting group, famous in Lindblum. Also a group of rogues and thieves. "Me?"
The redhead nodded. "Yep. What's your name?"
"Zidane. Zidane Tribal."
"Heh. I'm Blank. Welcome to Tantalus."
Zidane swallowed hard, on the edge of the campfire. His heart burning, Zidane once again looked at the petrified forest, where he had last seen Blank. He plopped down there, staring sightlessly towards the deadened wood.
"You know you had my first kiss, Blank?" Zidane whispered. "Sure, I slept with others, but I never kissed any of them. You were my first. I don't think I ever told you that. I promise I will, when we get you out of there. I won't break my promise like you broke yours, you jerk."
"Stupid, stupid bastard," Zidane muttered, rubbing his pained jaw. Baku had nailed him good that time for "not respecting his elders." Baku had commented that seven years living under one's roof taught most people how to act properly. Not Zidane, though. Bake had told him he was--
" 'Too fucking dumb,' " Zidane mimicked Baku's rough baritone. Zidane growled, and his tail lashed viciously. "Stupid bastard."
Zidane limped into his bedroom and closed the door securely behind him. As he flopped onto his bed, he thought of his family, his birth family. It happened often when he was feeling upset, and it only made him feel worse.
"Did they think I was 'too fucking dumb,' too?" Zidane asked aloud, his voice bitter. "Is that why they abandoned me? Or was it because I was a freak?"
Sniffling quietly, Zidane fingered his tail. He had yet to see another human with a tail. He had seen many species with tails, including Freya's, but never a human.
Zidane closed his eyes and let his tail drop down on his chest. The boy, the boy with the beautiful silver hair, the boy he occasionally saw in his dreams, bathed in a vivid blue light, did he have a tail, too? Or was Zidane the only one?
Zidane sniffled again. He hated being depressed. Depression wasn't in his nature. Neither was hatred, for that matter. Idly, he wondered if they canceled each other out.
"So Baku did beat on you again," Blank commented above him. Zidane cracked open an eye to glare a him.
"He's a bastard," Zidane grumbled, closing his eye again.
Zidane felt the bed depress beside him as Blank sat down, then a musky scent infiltrated his nose as the older man leaned over him. "That bastard keeps you clothed and fed," Blank reminded him. "You look much better than when I first saw you, kid."
With a sigh, Zidane opened his eyes, only to meet deep, brown ones inches from his own. His breath caught.
"He got your jaw good, didn't he?" Blank commented, appearing to be oblivious of the turmoil going on within Zidane. "Nasty bruise. Did you use any potion?"
Shaken, Zidane could only mouth "no." A familiar churning was beginning in his gut, and Blank's masculine scent was only making it worse. He had felt this way many times before, and had usually been able to act on the impulse. But not with Blank, never with Blank. Never had he ever been given the opportunity.
Now he had one.
Blank parted his lips slightly, probably preparing for a lecture, but Zidane was only focused on Blank's lips. Quickly, Zidane raised his head, kissing those soft lips.
The contact sent electricity rushing through Zidane, and he closed his eyes, leisurely moving his lips against Blank's. Blank was frozen above him, and when Zidane noticed, he pulled away.
"Blank?" the blonde asked timidly. Had he done something wrong? Zidane wondered, looking at Blank's...blank expression. That had been his first kiss. He hoped he hadn't screwed it up. Zidane smiled encouragingly at Blank, hoping for a smile back. There wasn't one.
"You...kissed me?" Blank wondered aloud. Zidane's smile faded. "You...kissed...me."
Maybe...there wasn't anything wrong with the kiss, a treacherous voice whispered in Zidane's mind, but with the-- Zidane cut the thought off. Now wasn't the time.
"You didn't like it?" he asked quietly, tilting his head to one side.
Blank visibly hesitated. "Zidane--"
Zidane bowed his head. It wasn't the kiss. It was the kisser.
But Blank likes me, Zidane reminded himself. He has always liked me. Why didn't he like it when I kissed him?
Zidane mewled softly and wrapped his tail tightly around himself. He just wanted to be alone. He felt horrible, and he just wanted to hide.
"Zidane, don't do this," Blank sighed, wrapping an arm around his slender shoulder shoulders. "You don't do depressed well. It isn't you."
Zidane glanced at Blank with tears blurring his vision. "I-I can't help it," he sniffled. A big, fat tear rolled down his cheek.
Blank cursed, and Zidane watched in fascination as the older man began to fidget nervously. "Aw, shit, don't cry. Please, don't cry. Men don't cry, remember?"
Zidane sucked in a deep breath, struggling to calm himself. He didn't want to upset Blank. For Blank, he wiped away his tears and forced a smile. For Blank, he brushed off the pain of his first kiss.
"I'm just going to catch some Z's," Zidane informed Blank cheerfully. "Then I'll head to Business District. When I do, you want to go?"
Blank hesitated. "Sure," he agreed. "Just one thing."
Zidane blinked at him. "What?"
"This." Then Blank's lips were devouring Zidane's, and Zidane was clutching the other man desperately. He was in heaven.
Zidane clenched his fists desperately. "I loved you, you bastard," he hissed, tearing his eyes away from Evil forest. "Why did you do something so stupid!?" Bowing his head and trembling, the youth forced himself to his feet. He had to get up early tomorrow and get up everyone else, too. Try to get everyone to Lindblum. Maybe he'd meet Tantalus there, and they could work out a plan.
"Goodnight, Blank," Zidane whispered, closing his eyes. One last memory flashed through his mind. "Sweet dreams."
"You'd better not fall in love with that princess," Blank warned Zidane. He stared in disgust as an oglop, then shoved a glove on. "I know how you are. Keep your eyes to yourself."
Zidane pouted, then fluttered his lashes at Blank. "How 'bout I flash them your way, then?" he teased, sashaying towards the redhead. He fingered Blank's face tenderly. "Would that be so bad?"
Blank sucked in a breath, and Zidane smirked. "Tease!" Blank gasped.
A soft laugh answered him, and Zidane stole a quick kiss. "Time to go."
Blank nodded reluctantly. "Yeah. Surprising you would say that, though."
Looking injured, Zidane fluffed up his tail and raised his head proudly. "Come one. Let's go."
Blank cringed. "I didn't mean it like that." He gripped Zidane's shoulder as the youth started to turn away. "You know that."
Zidane flashed a grin over his shoulder. "Yeah. I just wanted to make sure you knew it."
Blank unwillingly smiled at that. "I know. Just...promise me you'll be careful, all right?"
Zidane grinned. "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."
Another infectious grin, and they sealed their shared promises with a kiss.
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