Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 9 > Practical Medicine

Of Dreams

by Myshu 0 reviews

A good dream follows a bad one...

Category: Final Fantasy 9 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Humor - Characters: Freya Crescent,Vivi Ornitier,Zidane Tribal - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2008-07-17 - Updated: 2008-07-17 - 3148 words

It was a mistodon, one of dozens they'd encountered before. Or maybe it was hundreds. It could be a thousand, for all she's been counting. It mattered less by the day how many were reduced to dust, for they seemed as endless as the droplets of Mist from which they spawned.

Simply keeping the road clear of monsters was like trying to fight the Mist itself, futile to a maddening degree. Crawling mistodons, screeching dragon carcasses, gore-tusked sheep that pounced in packs and devoured like wolves--all of the world's abominations were starting to run together as one ghastly parade, carpeting the continents in fresh undeath.

It was another of those giant, spiky, zombie tree slugs. It was one false step, an amateur slip--mere inches either way would've spared all the pain, hassle and humiliation. A mistodon's ichor makes a rank lubricant, she learned incidentally.

Freya cursed the careless landing the rest of the day, and not only because she sprained a perfectly good ankle and put a mastered technique to shame (what good was a Dragon Knight that didn't know how to nail a jump?) Eiko's healing spell was generous and the rest of the party graciously moved on without remark, but she knew that the worst was waiting for nightfall.

So it was hours later that she spent supper brooding over the possibilities. While the others chatted around the fire, their revelry making light of the dangers of camping, she was bracing herself for the inevitable. It was only a matter of how and when—the what, and why and who wasn't even up for question. Somebody was going to try to "rub it in."

It turned out to be more of a literal rubbing than she expected.

As soon as the night fell thick and she was nearly dreaming, he rose to sniff about the sleeping camp like a muu rummaging through garbage. He stalked into her tent, sat down at her feet, lifted her swollen ankle out of the blankets and set it in his lap. The silken bracer was stripped away and two firm hands sank in, diligent fingers rolling over and under her heel like a balmy tide. No excuses--taking no permission and giving no demand, he simply waltzed in and stole the initiative.

Why that boorish, presumptuous, sneaky little monkey, he was so...! What gave him the right to barge into her tent unannounced? Perhaps in all their time on the road they'd grown too familiar with each other, but that didn't justify anything. He should still ask, warn her--something! What if she was indecent? What if she wanted to be left alone? What if she had other company (of course she didn't, and he knew she didn't, but it was rather the principle of it.) She was about to make a noise over his impertinence, but the interjection fizzled out with a lazy sigh. She could hate him, but something about that was too easy. She was above that. Maybe they both were.

Maybe it was simply that, at the end of the day, she couldn't turn down a good foot rub.

Of all the schemes she imagined, a foot massage was at the bottom of the list; it hadn't even glanced her mind. Yet there she was, on her back in the cozy dark, tight-lipped as she let that boy have his way. As much as she might actually appreciate it, if anyone else happened to witness this pampering, it would be the end of her, Freya thought. She took too much pride in her warrior's fortitude to stand the likes of--say, Amarant sniggering, 'Poor little rat hurt her foot?' because that's just the kind of thing he would say and--oh! The picture of his gloating burned her up.

It was bad enough dealing with Zidane. Just because those hearty thief-hands were going easy on her didn't mean he wasn't relishing the petty irony. Moon-blue and campfire-red trickled through the creases of the tent and traced his features with sinister shadows. He had a thoughtful gleam to his eye that always forecasted something devious, and rarely did he let a bad idea stay in his head where it belonged.

"Well well well, let's see, where to begin..." he drawled wickedly, thumbs dragging along the arch of her foot. She had to bite back her pleasure in time to snip, "By shutting up."

He ignored her, naturally. "Ah! I remember." His posture grew strict, one finger wagging at her in a farce. "You were reckless, Freya Crescent. You threw yourself right on top of that mistodon."

She tensed at the patronizingly familiar line, a snarl tipping her muzzle. "Oh, you are NOT..."

"You could have seriously hurt yourself."

"You are a jerk--"

He draped an arm over his head, feigning airy distress. "Or even been killed! I just don't know what to do with you."

"If you don't shut your awful trap..."

"It's almost as if you don't have faith in our abilities," he sighed, following through the act. Freya lifted her other leg and stabbed a clawed foot straight into his melodrama. "You cheeky, obnoxious little son-of-a-gun!"

He leaned back to dodge the kick, a ruddy grin cracking his composure. "Haha! Such strong language from the Lady Freya. How unbecoming of you."

Fed up with his smart mouth, she lunged at him, her leg catching in the blanket and twisting an awful way. "I am going to kill--eeaaah!" She flopped onto her side, drawing her knees up to her chest and cradling her throbbing ankle.

Zidane bounced back from the failed swipe and leaned over her. "Ahahaha, oh geez, did you seriously just hurt yourself?" he chortled, almost succeeding at sounding concerned instead of amused. "Take it easy, momma-rat."

She hissed, the recurring pain burning as hotly as a fresh wound. She could hate him, but... "I hate you."

His tone mellowed, though that stupid grin lingered. "Aww, I'm just messin' with you, you know that. I'll stop, seriously. Gimme your foot back."

"..." ...But it's easier said than done. Zidane took her silence for acquiescence and reclaimed her leg. He started again, playing her sore sinews and toes like a flute, and she closed her eyes and buried her face in her blanket. Embarrassing... but it felt too good to resist, every ache melting away at the soft touch. It was completely opiating. Why, how could he be so...?

"There. That better? Not so bad, huh?"

At least she still had the wits to grunt, "Hrmph. This doesn't even make us close to even, you know."

"Heheheh," he simply chuckled, not even his contrary nature denying it. They ran out of things to say and the harmony of the night settled in, too peaceful for words. He sat snugly, petting her foot like a cat in his lap, and she lay drowsing in her blankets. She would have paid real gil for him to rub her foot all night, though at the rate she was falling asleep, that would hardly be necessary.

Freya was somewhere between relaxed and sedated when a timid voice broke the spell. "Hello?"

The more alert of the two sat up straight, his hands neatly retreating to his sides. "Vivi?"

A pair of lantern-eyes peeked through the flap of the tent, a cautious tint to their steady orange glow. "Can I come in?"

Freya rustled herself awake. "Of course."

The child mage shuffled through the opening, his hat dusting the flimsy roof and slipping over his hidden nose. It took him a clumsy while to get situated in the suddenly cramped tent.

"Hey, what's up? Can't sleep?" Zidane asked, one note louder than a whisper.

"Oh..." He made a tiny, ashamed noise as a hesitant shadow stooped over his brow. "I had a bad dream."

Freya lent him a compassionate frown. "You poor thing."

"Did you wanna talk about it?"

Vivi considered it before shaking his head lowly, like a mule. "No..."

"Oh. Well hey, wanna stay with us? Always room for one more, eh?" Zidane offered, pleasantly tactless. Freya had a mind to pinch him, but one look at the boy in his rumpled clothes and floppy hat warmed her heart, as it always did. Nobody could say no to Vivi; he never asked for much. She spread out the extra blanket and the boys got comfortable, Vivi gratefully taking a place on the other end.

"So, what're you guys doing up?" he asked innocently.

Zidane blinked. "Uh..." When he checked his other side, Freya speared him with a threatening look. Don't you dare sell me out; I kept all of YOUR stupid secrets. "Nothing! Just talking about where we're going tomorrow, right Freya?"

He passed her a cheesy wink and she pursed her lips in a scowl, not amused. "...Yes."

"Oh." Vivi didn't even question it. He wiggled under his corner of blanket, the little lights in his inky face dimming with a yawn. "M'kay. G'night everyone."

Zidane patted his shoulder. "G'night. No more bad dreams, okay? Or I might have to scare them away... like this!"

"Oh no!" Vivi squeaked, too late. The older boy sucked him into a squirming hug, tickling his side fiercely and growling like a pigeon caught in a cat's jaws. Vivi thrashed feebly under the ridiculous assault. "Ack, hehehehe! Help!"

Freya picked up her coat and beat them over their heads, like putting out a fire. "All right, children. Let's get some rest."

"Yes mother," Zidane batted back, and with a playful flick of his tail he released the little mage. Both settled down, splaying over the ground and between the blankets. Freya assured enough cover for herself and then joined them.

Silly children... She could never feel like a mother. Never old enough, never strong or wise enough... It was a job that took more faith than she had. She couldn't relate to anything now. Ages it has been since she felt like a child, herself.

Not since him...

One last lamenting look outside was all it took for the lulling solace of Gaia's good moon to sweep her away.


Something felt... strange. Strangely close, strangely warm, almost stifling.

Who... where...?

Zidane awoke in a tangle of cloth, hair and limbs. He spent a groggy minute orienting himself--sorting the blanket from his legs, his hand from another glove, his tail from someone else's and his hair from the swath of fur resting heavily across him.


Once he figured it out, he froze. The Burmecian had him in a half-hearted, sleep-drugged embrace, one arm around his shoulder and his head tucked under her chin. If he looked a few inches lower, he'd be right in the cradle of her bosom. Her blouse had one too many buttons undone, too, so it wouldn't be a tough show to catch.

Wow. This was a little awkward. He wondered what to do, and whether it would be safer to simply do nothing and go back to sleep, as if nothing was wrong. His tail reached around his back, feeling out--yep, Vivi was still there, and even better--one of the arms slung across Zidane's middle belonged to him. Huh, wasn't he popular tonight? A stranger sandwich he couldn't concoct in his weirdest dreams.

He could make a bawdy gag out of the whole predicament if not for the little guy. He didn't want to spoil Vivi's much-needed rest, all the same. Maybe if he lay still and begged for sleep, everything would pass into morning, no problem.

...Wait, one problem, as the reason he woke up in the first place grew achingly clear: he was on his side, and the ground was putting cold, unyielding pressure on his hips and joints. If he didn't switch sides or roll over or something, he was going to be hurting like a rickety old man for breakfast.

He cursed his bones and shifted his weight from one leg to the other with painstaking care, trying to avoid detection and not sit on his own tail (which would just be moving from one uncomfortable position to another.) By his thieves' grace he succeeded, and relaxed a bit for one problem settled.

He was just getting the feeling back in his thighs when the next problem began to escalate. Freya stirred, one hand rooting in his ribs and squeezing gently. He felt the tips of her claws poking through his linen shirt and gasped, fretting at the possibility that he'd woken her, after all. What was he going to say? Was she going to be angry? Was this even his fault?

He sensed a buried twitch, just above his brow, somewhere in the fuzzy cords of her neck. Her lips quivered, muttering, "...hrmle... ...ther... gn."


"...ver... eave... u..."

His tail ticked, bemused. She was still sleeping. It must be some dream, to animate her like so. He thought he could glean the meaning of it if he listened carefully enough, though the next word provided all the evidence he needed.

"Mmm... Fratley..."

Ah, geez. Did she think HE was...? The way her hand dipped into his side and urged him closer confirmed it. Yep, this was really awkward. Kinda funny, really. It would make a heck of a story for the others, if she wouldn't flay him for sharing it.

He repressed a wry chuckle. If he had been in this spot three years ago, when they first met, he definitely would've taken advantage of it. Their lives were a lot less complicated then...
Of course, the night would've ended with a big red handprint across his face, but he liked to imagine it worth it.

He again contemplated waking her. It was just a harmless dream--for now, at least. He could almost sympathize. During their last stay at an inn, he had a very nice dream about Dagger interrupted when Quina thought s/he heard croaking under the floorboards. She'd be annoyed as well, though on the other hand, she'd be positively livid if he let things go too far.

Trying to remember his last good dream brought a vexed frown--why couldn't this kind of thing happen with Dagger? Then again, he wouldn't want to take advantage of her... That was the last thing he wanted, despite his advances (and how much it would infuriate Rusty, to steal away his precious princess.) She was better than that, and deserved better.

...So did Freya. It was a pity that the closest she could get to the man of her dreams was... well, in her dreams. Even when they finally reunited, at long last... Zidane wanted to hit him. He couldn't remember the last time he'd wanted to knock someone's teeth out that bad--before Kuja showed up, that is. And surely the man couldn't be at fault for amnesia, but the moment he saw Freya crumple to her knees, laughter broken like frog song, and that man just stood there... He was lucky Vivi was in the way, because not even the damn King of Burmecia could've saved him.

Unfortunately for them both, Freya was just getting started. Sleepy caresses grew more earnest, one hand pulling up his shirt while the other slid under his belt, dangerously ticklish. Her thumb circled the subtle ridge of his hip and he drew a taut breath, hoping the cool air would slake his suddenly hot blood. Zidane swallowed, nervous now, and so did she, an odd, luxurious purr issuing from her throat. Quite unexpected, for a... well, rat. Vagrant fingertips roamed the small of his back, exciting the little hairs at the base of his tail, and he bit his tongue. If she kept at this rate, he was gonna get...

Velvet arms closed insistently around him, pressing him into her belly with an alluring murmur. He could feel the heat thrumming in her chest, the eager edge to her breath and the swimming sensation in the pit of his stomach and knew he was in trouble now, for sure. Just as he was plotting the best way to break it up without disturbing Vivi, he felt something grazing through his hair--something warm and rough and wet...

Was she licking him??

"What the hell...?" he mouthed, the next best thing to bursting into laughter. Each stroke of the tongue was tender and thorough, like being kissed by a deer. Was this a standard display of affection for her race or what? The image of Burmecians going after each other like salt-licks in bed was enough to send him into convulsions, but he was wedged between hysterics and arousal, her mouth comically grooming and her hand teasing the underside of his tail, the touch so sweet he choked on a mewl.

The perverse humor and pleasure was making him sick--he couldn't take it anymore. If he didn't crack, he was going to break. He braced his arms against hers and pushed, hard. "Freya!!"

One solid jostle was enough. She shuddered, eyes snapping open, and matched his utterly bewildered stare. His skin was throbbing, his breath was clipped and his face was flushed, and he prayed she couldn't tell through the dark.

"Hey, you're... all over me," he explained lamely.

She gaped at him, her hair parting before her eyes like a curtain of silver. Dream-fogged aquamarine crystallized with a crushing awareness of where her hands were and what reality was lying beneath, and for a dazed half-second she seemed more ferociously beautiful than he ever noticed before.

Still, they didn't move--they couldn't, and the most agonizing second in the world passed before Zidane did the first thing he could think of to break the ice: he laughed. It was a bubbly, crazy snicker that built up to a loud, stupid caw, and Freya cringed in outrage. With a disgusted and tired "hrmph!" she grabbed her portion of blanket and spun around, shutting him out.

The bundle of clothes behind him shifted, accompanied by a dopey voice. "What's going on?"

So much for not waking everyone. "Nothing," Zidane asserted, remarkably calm. "Go back to sleep."

"Okay..." Vivi did, agreeably as that.

Zidane rolled aside, free at last, though it took an extra minute to quell his madness. He glanced to his left and found Vivi unmoving in slumber--he'd never met a more trusting kid. He checked Freya again, though her backside was an unflinching wall, refusing to meet him. She was probably mad at him now, but better for being insensitive than for being too sensitive. He wasn't put out with a foot up his rump, after all, so she couldn't be that upset.

He folded his arms behind his head and waited for sleep to cool him off, a quirky smirk stuck on his face.

Yep, that was pretty funny.

Eiko had a giggle-fit that morning. When she asked how he got a cowlick, he laughed and said a rat must've gotten to him.
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