Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 9 > Love is not Enough


by Myshu 0 reviews


Category: Final Fantasy 9 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Humor - Characters: Amarant Coral, Zidane Tribal - Published: 2006-03-19 - Updated: 2006-03-20 - 3340 words

Lady Freya,

I understand from your letter that you're seeking a way to prolong the lifespan of the first-generation Genome. I regretfully write to assure you that this cannot be done. The possibility of suspending the genetic inhibitor on our life cycle was simply theoretical, especially as far as the common Genome was concerned. Garland never put it into practice, and he only offered to do so once.

As you might recall, Zidane refused.

All knowledge of the application died with Garland, and then with Terra.

I think it is in both Zidane's and your best interest to let this issue rest and nature take its course. If you insist on helping him, I recommend medicines to relieve pain, as Zidane lacks the self-restorative magic Kuja used to repress his symptoms (I wonder if Kuja used that same magic to delude himself into visions of immortality. Such would explain his ambitious course in life.)

Please take care,


P.S: If you see him before it's too late, tell him that the children and I are fine.


It was weird, Zidane realized suddenly (and then he realized that he suddenly realized this frequently, and perhaps he ought to be used to this fact by now, at least enough to quit stopping in the middle of nowhere to have the same epiphany over and over, and... he lost his train of thought around there) to stand on the plains outside Treno's walls without a single cause to draw his daggers. Having grown up in a world fraught with mist-monsters, it was sometimes disconcerting to wander the present countryside without meeting one.

That was the natural consequence of dispatching the Mist, of course: no more mist-monsters. One would think people would be unanimously happy to be able to travel on foot between the nations, finally free of life-leeching critters, but Zidane learned--not for the first time--that there was no justice in the world when the Alexandrian Monster Hunter's Union came knocking down the castle doors, demanding recompense through gnashing teeth (Dagger tactfully ignored his advice to stick their picket-signs where nobody wanted to fetch them back.)

Bringing his beloved to mind in even that slight way punched another dent in his spirit, and he had to reinforce his footing and clear his breath with a deep sigh before pressing on. Treno was behind him, now, everything worth seeing checked under, "Been there, done that. Again."

His next stop was--

"Why the hell are you dressed like a rat." The outburst, much like its speaker, sounded like too much of a tough guy to ask questions.

Zidane turned around slowly, on guard, though once his eyes confirmed through the midnight's black-and-blues what his ears had picked up, he relaxed his grip on the dagger at his belt.

"Whoa, Amarant. Didn't see ya there." The Genome's tail agitated the clumps of dried grass and snow at his feet, picking up a curious beat. "This is quite a surprise. What's up?" he asked pleasantly.

Standing still in his battle-worn half-slouch, his long face hard and jaded, his eyes shadowed by his grizzly, blood-red dreadlocks, and his giant figure stark against the expanse of frozen weeds, Amarant looked the part of a one-man army sent by a resentful hell to fill the shoes of every monster wiped off the face of the continent. He would've been an unnerving encounter if Zidane didn't know him better.

"Answer my question," he demanded, his demeanor ever-uncompromising.

"Huh?" Zidane spent a moment puzzling over that before glancing his attire over. "Oh. You mean these clothes? Hey, how did you know they were Burmecian?"

Amazingly, without a struggle, he explained himself. "Once upon a time, when I was an idiot kid, one of those rat-monks crossed my path. I looked at him the wrong way or he looked at me the wrong way, it doesn't matter. We fought. I lost. I wanted to understand why."

"So let me guess," Zidane piped in, "You followed him? Gee, didn't see that one coming."

"Go to hell."

"Fair enough."

The stoic bounty hunter spent another moment coagulating his next sentence, as if forming words took as much effort as coughing up a snot-wad. Actually, for Amarant, the latter was probably easier, and the results tended to sound the same either way. "I wanted to know how he beat me. He taught me his secrets. He said he honed his skills through meditation--finding 'inner peace' and all that rot. He made me get up at dawn every morning and stand on one foot like a big stupid statue, just me and my thoughts. He said I was supposed to concentrate on finding my 'inner beast' or whatever it's called."

"Did you find it?"

"Yeah, I found how to die from boredom. I hated that training. I hate standing still for hours like that. I can't stand being in one place. The more I stood around, the more I thought about all the shit that wasn't getting done, and the more pissed off I got." He rolled his shoulders broodingly. "...But I didn't stop. Even when that rat wasn't around anymore, I kept getting up in the morning and doing meditations. I kept doing it even after I grew stronger than that old monk-rat. I still do it." He lifted his huge blue hands in the clear moonlight, scrutinizing them for some profound truth about himself. "And now I guess I'm a monk, too."

"Huh." Zidane crossed his arms and cocked his head, contemplating the significance of it all. "That's some story. I didn't even have to pry it out of you."

"Shut up," was his surly rebuff, "I don't owe you a damn thing."

"What are you doing out here?" Zidane took his turn at questions.

"You're dying."

Zidane's jaw dropped, disarmed by the statement. Not only did Amarant somehow /know/, but he had the nerve to just out and say it like, like /that/, blunt and simple... That was the way Amarant worked, though. Still, it rattled the Genome to hear it from someone else, out loud. He was acclimated to the silence of it--the sickening mantra whispered through aches and pains--that thing he couldn't bring himself to utter. He could think it, and even write it out, but his ears couldn't stand such disloyalty from his lips.

Amarant had said it for him, though, and now it was time to confront it. He levelled the sinking feeling in his gut with a firm blink and asked, "How did you...?"

On cue, Amarant flashed a white strip of paper from his travel pack: a folded letter. Zidane recognized it with a start, and reflexively sifted through his own bag. "Oh damn," he muttered into the empty space the letter once occupied, "Look at that, you picked my pocket." Zidane straightened and scratched his ear, laughing at himself. "I really must be losing my touch, eheh."

"You didn't answer my question," Amarant steered back to his point.

"You didn't phrase it like one," Zidane threw him off, "But yes, it's true. I guess you read my letter, there."

Amarant turned the paper over in his hand, considering its contents again. "Huh."


"I didn't bet you'd have dropped off so soon."

"Sorry to ruin your wager," Zidane played into the poor humor, somehow not bitter in the least. He was at last beginning to feel comfortable in this conversation.


"Do you seriously want to know?"

He chewed it over, either honestly considering the negative or finding a way to answer yes while still seeming cool and distant. Amarant wore an apathetic front like a coat of armor, but both knew curiosity was his second nature. "Might as well."

"Don't worry, it's just a Genome thing," Zidane said, knowing well enough that Amarant didn't need the reassurance. It felt more like a formality than consolation. "Turns out Kuja wasn't the only one with a cap put on his life."

"Garland screwed you too, huh?"

"Actually, everyone born--tsh," he corrected himself with a distasteful cluck, "--made, whatever, in Bran Bal. 'First-generations,' we're called. We only get about twenty-five years, then we're toast. Something to do population control or, uh... Mikoto explains it better than I can."

"Hmm. That sucks." That was the closest to an expression of sympathy Zidane had ever heard from him.

"Yeah, that... sucks." He couldn't really say it any better.

"So what are you doing out here? Wasn't cozy enough with your queen?"

Zidane shrugged indignantly. "What's that supposed to mean? What are you, jealous?"

"Of you? Give me a break."

"No," he turned sincere, "I just... couldn't stay."

"You're running away, then. Coward."

"I don't need you to judge me."

"You've got that right."

Zidane kicked a lump of snow with his heel and stewed quietly in his conscience and pride, two humors never mixed well.

"You know," Amarant spoke again after a considerate pause, graciously changing the subject, "I always thought that loudmouth captain was going to keel over first. Scream red until his head pops off and his heart blows out of his chest like grapeshot, or something. I put my money on him, anyway."

"Money?" The Genome shook his head, getting the literal grip of what his comrade was saying. "Wait, what? You seriously bet on which one of all of us is going to last the longest?"

Amarant gave a noncommittal shrug.

"Wow, that's..." Zidane bit his lip. That's /pretty low/, or many other ways deplorable, but he couldn't bother to be offended on any account other than, "You didn't let me in on it?"

"You guys don't let me in on that bet about me showin' up for your stupid reunions."

"Yeah, but that's... Okay, touché."

"How much do I owe Freya by now, anyway?"

"I'm not sure... About eighty gil, I guess."

"Stupid rat."



"Did you follow me out here?"

"I thought I saw you in a pub in town. I checked your bag. You let your guard down too much."

"Apparently so. Not that I care anymore. I got nothin' worth snatching, and if I did, it won't mean anything to me soon enough."

"You've become quite the fatalist." He thought he could hear Amarant grin, as if the bounty hunter took pleasure in pinning down Zidane's faults.

"I guess dying puts that kind of spin on things."

"Hrmph. You really are just a selfish loner." He sounded more disgusted, now.

"Maybe," Zidane admitted, stricken with a fit of humility, "...maybe." He then brightened. "Hey, Amarant. Can I ask you a question?"

Amarant snorted. "This sounds familiar."

"Have you ever been in love?"

"What's with you and your stupid questions?"

Zidane laughed it off. "Yeah, that was a pretty dumb one."

"I'll say."

"...Do you have any regrets?"

"Better," the big monk approved, "But still none of your business."

"Sorry, just asking."

"Anyone who says they don't have regrets is either a liar or damn forgetful."

"So which one are you?" the Genome quipped.

"Very funny, monkey."

Zidane relented and turned his gaze aside, into the great basin opposite Treno's mountains. "I guess you're right. It's none of my business."

Amarant smirked and, after a minute of reading the Genome's innocent intentions, supplied, "I never really stopped and thought about it. I just did what I had to do to survive. Always have. If that meant others didn't, that was tough shit. Wasn't any time to second-guess myself."

"But now?" Zidane turned an eye back, still interested.

"What about now?" he growled, taking the query as a challenge, some affront to his intelligence or dignity or who-knows-what. After a minute, Amarant cooled off and indulged him, anyway. "...I guess it's different, now. Too much time to think. I told you, I don't like it. Don't get me wrong; I'm not proud of all the people I've had to take out, but I don't regret it, either. You've got to be stronger than the guy that's trying to off you to survive. That's just life."

"...Oh." Zidane reflected on the sage brutality of the bounty hunter's words, finding their message alarmingly familiar.
He remembered the last time he and Amarant spoke, back in Alexandria Castle, and...

He understood something. A rich, morbid chuckle bubbled out of his control. "...Heh, eheheh, ahahahaha."

Amarant visibly tensed, put on edge by the calm hysteria. "What the hell's so funny?"

"Being strong," Zidane laughed, relishing the chance to quote the monk back, "It's because I'm your friend, right?"

The bounty hunter puffed up as if he were caught at some humiliating crime. He deflated only to snarl back, "Please, bitch."

"Hehehe, I didn't think you cared so much."

"Shut up."

"Maybe next we'll go back to your place and have a spot o' tea, talk about the weather, play cards like old chums--"

"God I hate you." Amarant pointedly turned his back to the ridicule.

"Ahahaha--okay, okay, I'll stop." Zidane sighed a gratified note. "I think I get it, now."

"You don't get anything. You're just a has-been bookworm." Amarant's friendly invective was tireless.

"Ah, well... probably, true. I guess I am," the Genome said soberly.

"What about you?" Amarant came back.


"No, the spider behind you," he sneered and held up the snitched paper again. "I don't buy any of the crap in this letter. I want to hear it from you."

"Oh." Zidane looked at the ground and rubbed his chin. "I... still haven't figured mine out."

"You're full of shit."

"What do you want me to say, 'I wish I wasn't even born'?" the Genome spit out, "I don't know. I don't know what I'd change if I could go back, much less where to begin. Not everything in my life was peachy, but, if anything were different... I wouldn't be who I am. I can't take that back. I can't regret being myself."

"So that's how you're going out, huh?" Zidane couldn't read a smile nor frown behind the question, that time.

"You still think I'm a coward?"

"It's not my place to judge you."

They were quiet. It seemed like they'd circled back to the beginning, everything resolved but nothing gained. A strange feeling of contentment washed over him, and Zidane smiled softly.

He finally felt ready to let go.

"...Go ahead and keep it."


"My letter. Do whatever you want with it. It's about to be out of my hands anyway."

"I could just burn it," Amarant tested him.

"You could. Will you?"

"...I'll see you around," he answered, everything he needed to say already out. Amarant picked up his heavy feet and walked away, back towards the dark life of Treno. "I'm not up for any of this goodbye crap."

Zidane looked after him, wondering... "Hey, Amarant."

The monk paused, yet didn't turn back. "What?"

"Why did you become a monk, if you knew you wouldn't like it?"

Amarant chewed on the dilemma for a spell, and then, in a surprising turn of play, threw the question back at him.

"Why did you marry a queen, if you knew you wouldn't like it?"

Stunned by the retort, Zidane watched dumbly as Amarant stalked off into the night. The Genome pursed his lips and rubbed his nose, flustered and put-out for a reply that would come too late, anyway.

At length, he shook his head and chuckled quietly, dismissing the rhetoric. He shouldered his rucksack and moved on.

"That guy will never change."


The scruffy plains outside Burmecia were winter-green and freezing-wet. The dragon-blessed (or cursed, depending on your outlook) rain had soaked through the hood of his habit and mud had bogged down his boots.

For a legendary period, when the Mist was first dispelled, Burmecia had no rain. Then the Mist returned and the rain came back. Then the Mist went away again and the rain decided not to bugger off after all, it being fine right where it was thanks very much. Roads to the soaked kingdom were a joke, miles of puddles sewn into the landscape, harder in fact to trudge through than the encompassing grasslands. Wagons didn't even bother, and most commerce was done on the backs of chocobos or the holds of airships.

It was a very bad idea, Zidane realized in hindsight, to walk to Burmecia. Scenic route, his ass. How he'd neglected memories of hefting a child-mage on his shoulders the whole, mucky way, he could only chalk up to temporary insanity. Of course, these days the insanity liked to stick around for longer and longer increments, and it was unsettling to have to question every decision he made.

He preferred Steiner's time-tested explanation, really: he was just an idiot.

Now he was an idiot caked in grime, soaked in cold rain and starved out of his mind, his own fault on all three counts. He'd been subsisting on pub scraps and booze for the past four days, but on the other hand it wasn't his fault he'd lost his appetite weeks before. And then he didn't remember the route from the grotto being so far and geez his clothes and his pack and his legs and his skin felt heavy it was like carrying six Black Mages how was he going to ever... oh.
The point was, he'd make it to Burmecia if it killed him. He promised he'd visit sometime.

If it killed him... haha.

If his feet hadn't gone numb with cold he would have noticed sooner when his progress inched to a stop. He discovered to his compounding misery that he couldn't go a step farther, and he threw a sigh up to the heavens that collapsed into a hoarse gasp. As he tasted the eternal downpour a shiver tunneled through his bones and knotted in his chest. A merciless twinge threw him to his knees, and his next breath was peppered with dirt soup. He writhed and trembled in the mire, unable to tell his cold sweat from the cold rain, the world fading like dizzy and the mud cutting his fingers like ice and every vital pulse in his body grinding to a wretched halt while his heart was touched with freezer burn shit please not now, not here like this I don't have time for it I have to get up, please

Just cramps, just stupid cramps he got them all the time this would pass, he would get right back up and, and why didn't he bring more potions, he really could use one now, cripes this is the worst pain yet

He picked himself up on flailing, shaky limbs and then fell back down, over and over, until the trail was his bed--/you've made your bed, now lie in it, boy/--and he sobbed for the simplest wants--for a warm, dry place because this place was so damn cold

"Don't you ever get sick of all this rain?"
/"It is the dragon gods' gift to our people."/
"That's great, but what do YOU think of it?"
/"It makes me feel... warm. Do you not think warmly of your home?"/

He couldn't move, and his sluggish, waterlogged mind was beginning to lose its capacity to care. He could drown and freeze in this puddle and it would be all right, all right for everyone, all right for him, all right for the world, better off without another idiot.

...I wanna go home...

Through the darkness fringing his vision a dripping shadow landed on him, something with big feet that nudged his side and big arms that scooped him up and threw him over a big shoulder that pummeled his midriff as this big sasquatch thing took off in a jog, carrying him away--great, he can't even be spared the dignity of being left alone in the mud, a monster has to drag him off and snack on him--/well joke's on you, buddy, there's not much meat left to snack on./

...mist-monsters don't exist anymore, do they...?

Exhausted beyond hope, Zidane blacked out.
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