Eiko, now thirteen, gets word that Zidane is back in Lindblum. This visit, she has plans for him.
The one and only duty of hers was to let her know right away when Zidane had come home to Lindblum for a visit.
It was his own fault that she had to keep track of when he was around. She wouldn't need to if he didn't always visit Tantalus first. Of course she believed him when he said that he always planned to visit her as soon as he'd checked in with his family--who wouldn't want to stop by and see their favorite princess in the world?--but what if something horrible happened back in Alexandria while Zidane was still in the Theater District? What if Garnet got held captive by an evil Oglop when she was too tired from a long day of ruling to have enough energy for summoning? Or what if Steiner accidentally caused an international incident because a visiting noble thought that his guard having rusting armor was a giant insult?
Then Zidane would have to leave Lindblum again without ever coming to the palace to see her, and Eiko did not like that thought /at all/. So it was really better for everyone if she found out about him being there in time to run down to Tantalus' hangout and meet him there.
Especially when she had a cunning plan that the people at the palace probably wouldn't be happy with.
"Zidane!" she called out as she burst into the hideout, throwing herself into a hug in a swirl of skirts when she saw him right in front of her. She had been practicing how to move to get the skirts Hilda loved to dress flowing prettily around her all the time, she thought it made her look especially princesslike, and Zidane liked princesses. Even if it had kind of changed to his liking queens.
"Eiko! Hey!" Zidane hugged her back, then pushed her away so that he could get a look at her. After a moment his expression turned over-dramatically suspicious and he said, "Wait a minute... who are you and what did you do to the real Eiko? You do a good impression, but the Eiko I know is only this big." He held a hand to his side at the height she'd been when they first met.
Eiko proudly stood up as straight as she could, pulling herself to a full height that now reached Zidane's shoulder and looked like it was going to get even taller before it started slowing down. "Maybe if you came to visit more often you'd know how big I'm supposed to be now, Zidane."
"Don't make it sound like I've been leaving you lonely, little princess," he said, pinching her cheek like she was still a child. "You know it's only been a few months, and you were a lot shorter then."
"I've been having growth spurts," she said proudly. "Just watch me, Zidane, this time next year I'm going to be /tall/. Maybe even as tall as Freya."
Zidane pulled a face at her. "Don't say things like that, Eiko. It'll make me feel old if you're growing up."
"Don't forget, I've been a young lady the entire time you've known me, Zidane. I'm just finally getting the body to match." Eiko looked around them then, noticing the lack of anyone else in the room. "Aren't all the others here?"
"Nah, I don't know where those guys are. I saw the Prima Vista at the docks so I know they aren't off on a job, but they weren't around when I got here."
Eiko grinned, seeing a perfect shot to put her plan into action. "Well, Zidane," she said in a sing-song tone, "if you need to do something to pass the time, I have something you can help me with!"
"A princess, looking for help from a thief? There could be a scandal!"
"Thief, pfft. You're practically a king now, if you guys ever get on with the wedding. It will be like strengthening the diplomatic ties between Lindblum and Alexandria!"
Zidane's eyebrows raised. "'Strengthening diplomatic ties'? Just how big of a favor are you looking for, Eiko?"
"Just a little one. Very very tiny. Here!" She produced a small chapbook and offered it to him.
"/The Sorceress and Her Knight/," Zidane read off the front. "A classic. Do you want us to do this for your birthday?"
"No, I want you to run lines with me. I haven't gotten to play at acting with anybody but servents who want to do other things in forever/, and you know it used to be my favorite things." She leaned forwards and flipped to a marked page, then batted her eyelashes at him, prepared to butter him up. "Just go through this one scene, and I won't bug you about it again. It will be so much more fun with a /great actor reading the male lead."
He grinned, and ruffled her hair. "All right, Eiko. Just one scene."
She instantly pulled herself into character, because she suspected that if she didn't she'd begin giggling giddily at the butterflies that had begun fluttering in her stomach. "What will become of me?" she asked, clasping her hands above her heart, trying to think 'sorceress'.
"Fear not, sweet love!" Zidane exclaimed, his years as an actor shining through as he automatically projected his voice across the whole room, empty though it was. "Cruelty need not be birthed from power; can not even a witch's wild magic be tamed by her own gentle heart? My own dear nurse was a sorceress of some power, you may follow in her footsteps."
They continued batting lines back and forth, the sorceress afraid of what her new powers might cause her to do, her lover adamant that nothing would change her, and that he would remain by her side even if it did. Eiko became more and more nervous the further into the scene they got, but she did her best to hide it. She wanted to get through this more than anything.
"I will make you a promise you then, if it will set your mind at ease," Zidane finally said, reaching the end of his lines. "If ever the world shall part us, let us return to this place. You shall find me waiting, love, I swear upon my heart."
"Then let it be so sworn," she said, her voice dropping to a whisper. She couldn't seem to make herself speak any louder, "And let us seal it with a kiss."
She swallowed hard and closed her eyes, tilting her head back and puckering her lips. She had been waiting for this moment for six years, and finally it had arrived.
She blushed brightly when she felt Zidane's hand cup her cheek and tilt her head slightly, her heart throbbing so hard that she worried it might just pop open. There was a pause, and then at last she felt his lips...
Brushing against her cheek.
Her eyes flew open, more than a little outraged, as he hopped away from her, grinning in a way that made it clear to her that he knew full well how annoyed with him she was. "Well, it was fun getting to go back to the old job for a while, but we should really get you back to the palace before Cid starts thinking I've gotten into the business of kidnapping princesses again, shouldn't we?" he asked, turning to start for the door.
She stared after him, spluttering slightly as her face grew even redder, finally snapping just as he seemed to escape into the street. "You call that a /kiss/, Tribal?" she yelled, chasing after him. "I thought you were supposed to be /smooth/!"
He laughed his way to the air taxi station, keeping just out of Eiko's grasp the entire way.