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, Freya Crescent, Sir Fratley, Zidane Tribal - Published: 2006-03-19 - Updated: 2006-03-20 - 3642 words

He woke up with a pungent, sticky, sour-minty-sweet taste in his mouth. A potion was something one's tongue never forgot, even if the last ailment that called for one healed over decades before.
His mind spun around old battles, fresh scars and icy burns, while the potion's simmering warmth nested in the pit of his stomach, gnawing in vain at the throbbing, aching cold encroaching from all his corners. His extremities were paralyzed with chill, but now in a detached sense rather than a mordant one. His toes and fingertips could have been amputated and he wouldn't have batted an eye. Maybe they actually were, and he hadn't noticed yet.

At least he was dry. He was wrapped in his favorite silk, and cool cotton spread around him in a muss of sheets, blankets and pillows. Hazy hearing picked up the static of rainfall, its melody trickling in from an open window. He was indoors?

He opened his eyes, midday twilight pouring in and rousing every sore muscle in his body. He tugged on a sharp breath, only to discover it wouldn't fill him--it was hard to breathe, and every overt movement hurt too much to be worth it.

The bleary grey world came into focus. Old wooden boards stretched across the ceiling and down the walls. A box window was over the head of his bed, its heavy flap turned out and catching the water washing off the roof; tiny streams cascaded off its edges like a curtain of crystal lace. A half-spent candle kept an empty bottle on the nightstand company.

A Burmecian woman sat in a skeletal chair at his side, and her child rested his chin on the foot of the bed. Alerted by his squirming, the mother sprang up and leaned over him, her ears tuned high and her fine white hair spilling around soft green eyes.

"Zidane? Are you all right? Say something," she entreated, her familiar voice bittersweet to his ears.

"Freya...?" he croaked, triggering a sloppy cough. His throat felt ragged.

She closed her eyes, her slender figure wilting with relief. "Thank the gods, you're awake."

The little boy wiggled closer, eyes and ears wide open and considerate. "Hi Uncle Zidane."

Zidane struggled to wet his gullet and put up a friendly response. "...Oh... hi kiddo. You're gettin' tall. What's up?"

"You're in my bed," the boy said with an informative air, as if he were a tour guide.

Freya, misinterpreting him, dressed the boy down. "Brit, shush. Uncle Zidane is our guest. Why don't you go and look for your father and sister?"

"Mmmkay mommy." Brit sprinted out the door and down the stairs in childish haste, thus dismissed.

Freya turned back to him, her cheeks bunched up against a long frown. "How are you feeling?"

Zidane wasted a minute trying to condense his answer into something less than an essay. "...Like I was punched in the kidneys. What happened? How did I get here?"

Freya laughed, a short, scoffing noise. "Believe it or not, Amarant brought you here."

"Amarant...?" He was the monster. He followed me out that far? Why? "Where is he now?"

She shook her head. "I don't know. After he dropped you off, he left." She peered into herself with a sidelong glance. "Which is much more believable of him."

"Oh." He wouldn't expect Amarant to stick around, anyway. It wasn't his way. The gesture was enough. "Where is this? This your house?"

Freya nodded. She then smoothed her hair away from her face and began in a high-strung, maternal rebuke, "Have you lost your mind, Zidane Tribal? You had me worried sick. Why did you try to reach here on foot? It's the gods' cold out there. You could have caught your death of exposure. Why did you even leave Alexandria? What were you thinking?"

"Oh, I had to..." Man, he was so tired. Just talking was wearing him out. "You know, make the rounds. I wanted to see everyone--and everywhere, you know? Before it was too late."

Knowing entirely what he meant, she couldn't help but spot the fallacies. "You should have done this sooner, then, so you could make it back to Alexandria."

"Ah, well... you know what happens to the best laid plans, Freya. I just got hung up, my bad," he casually excused himself.

"No, you don't want to go back," she called his motive.

He shied his gaze away, his silence betraying the guilty truth.

Freya closed her hand around his wrist, pulling him back to attention. "Why, Zidane?"

"How much do you love Fratley?" he blurt out, "Do you love him enough to watch him cry over you? Or do you love him too much to?"

Freya gulped, struck by the personal example.

Zidane closed his eyes before they revealed too much, too close to the point. "No, I... I can't let her. I don't want Dagger to see me like this. I wouldn't be able to stand the look on her face. I'm not worth it, you know? I'm not worth her tears. It's better for her if I just disappear."

Freya couldn't buy it. "Don't talk like that. Stop being ridiculous. Is that what you call love? Abandoning the one you care about most when times get rough?"

He squared up on his elbows with a wince, narrowed a look at her and said directly, "It's not that simple--"

"Like hell it isn't--" Their talk was reaching a desperate pitch.

"Freya, I'm /dying/. Simple enough?"

Freya sat back down. Zidane sank into his pillow, panting and wheezing. He didn't have the energy to argue any more, which was fair enough, since his companion had been stumped into silence. He blinked back weary tears and met her eyes, set deep in melancholy. He felt like a jerk, enough to apologize, even though he wasn't sure for what.

Any brewing "sorry" was bitten back when a cruel, invisible lash cut through his middle, stealing his breath. He hissed, every joint steeling against the pain. "Ah, ah-!"

His friend hovered closely again, distressed. "What's wrong?"

Zidane muttered through gritted teeth, "Shit. Stupid cramps." He tried to lie still, not teasing the affliction with sudden jerks, but a pinching spasm rolled him onto his side. He complained between whimpers, "God, this is agony. I want to hurry up and get it over with so this'll stop. ...Augh, how did Kuja stand it...? I bet he cheated with magic. I wish I knew that kinda ma--" He gagged on another stroke, flopped onto his back again and curled into a howl. "AaaaahhGeeeeeeez."

Freya, having seen enough, snapped up and flew downstairs. "Hold on, I'll fetch some more potion."

She hit the ground floor, crossed her kitchen and fumbled through the medicine cabinet, overturning packs of herbs and sundry antiseptics before scraping up the more precious vials of potions and ethers, things held over from an age of war that sometimes felt not long enough ago. Freya piled a few into a pouch drawn from her rumpled shirt and scurried back to Brit's room.

She broke out some flustered squawk when she found her guest flailing his way out of bed. Zidane was making some shaky progress towards the door until he tripped over the sheet clinging to his ankles. Freya stooped to catch him, the bottles of potion spilling out of her lap and clattering to the floor.

"What are you doing?" she had to ask, trying to hold him up against his falling and thrashing. His breath stuttered and his eyes were glazed with dizzy and he trembled with fight and flight at once, a mad canary throwing itself at its cage.

"Lemme--I wanna--stop it--go--"

"Zidane!" She shook him a little harder than she meant to, but he finally slowed to a limp, the cloud of panic passing.
He swallowed thickly and remarked, rather diffidently, "I thought 'blinding pain' was just a figure of speech..."

Freya, flushed with relief and pity, squeezed him in a hug. "You poor fool."

He sniffled on her shoulder. "I don't want want to die in your house."

At her aghast look, he amended, "I don't mean like that--you have a nice house, really--I just don't want--I don't want to do this to you. I just want to go--somewhere out of everyone's hair. I can't make you responsible for--it's not fair. Please let me go. I'll get out of your way. It'll be easier for everyone if I just disappear."

Freya, hearing that for the last time, drove her point home with force. She slapped him. "You're a damn fool." And kissed the top of his head; it was a neat, solid peck that held fast to his hair and did nothing to erase the stunned look that had befallen him.

Zidane was placed back in bed and remained thereafter, suitably cowed.


A bottle of hi-potion later, Freya's charge was serenely numb, though he never shook the creeping, frosty feeling that continued to burrow through his ribs.

"You know..." he kept talking at his companion's urging, though the words were getting slippery and tangled with his thoughts, and his lungs were starting to fail him. Freya sat in vigil, listening to his rambling and prodding him when he trailed off, stoking him as she would a fading fire. Occasionally she would sniff and shut out the mist in the corners of her eyes, donning a soldier's front. He wasn't going to see the tense, bottled trembling in her breast and the tears in the backs of her eyes. She was going to hold out for the inevitable. She was going to be his friend, right here, where he needed a friend most.

"i tried so hard to fit in that castle, be a part of it all, help Dagger do her queen-things... i couldn't. she wouldn't even let me, said i wasn't 'schooled in diplomacy' and that it'd just bore me to death anyway. ...haha, i guess she was right. guy like me just doesn't belong in a place like that."


"no, i, i'll always love Dagger, i know she loves me too, but... goddamn, Freya, she lives in another world. i can't even protect her anymore; she's got her knights and general. i was such a third wheel."

"No, never. Dagger would never let you think that's true."

"well, maybe that's why i left."

Freya glanced out the window at the dimming rain clouds. The afternoon was wearing on. Her patient rattled with a low, lost chuckle.

"heh, i'm losing everything... and leaving behind absolutely nothing. shouldn't i feel sad?"

"That's not true. We won't forget. We'll all remember you."

"memories..." he lingered on the term. "it's okay, i don't feel upset over it at all. i don't know why. i feel really... at peace. that sounds hokey, doesn't it?"

"No, I'm... glad to hear that."

"i'd been thinking again, about what you said... if there's a difference between loving someone and loving the idea of it. i think it's true."

"What do you mean?"

"i don't think... i don't think we can..." His eyes clouded and lost focus.

Freya squeezed his arm. "We can what?"

He sucked in a startled, raspy breath and resumed, "it's... i don't think we can really love someone until we give up the idea. i don't think you can find what you're looking for until you stop looking for it. then, when you've got nothing left to lose... there it is."

Zidane cringed all over and she watched helplessly. She cursed herself and rigid, callous fate, stripping her of the power to stop this. It's just like--he's just like--just like the Black Mages. Just... /stopping/.

"...funny... you know who i'm thinking of now?"

Freya gulped. "Whom?"

Just like /him/. "vivi. he was right. genomes are more like black mages than I ever thought. and i guess my number's up." He snorted at his little morbid pun, and then mellowed. "i never got to... say goodbye, y'know? before he...stopped. i had just... i had escaped from iifa, and the black mages t-took me in... they said he stopped the night before i came around. i just... it's funny. if i had woken up a few hours sooner, i woulda had the chance to tell 'im goodbye myself."

"That's such a shame," Freya remarked sadly.

"you think so? i dunno. it makes me happy."

Her left ear ticked. "Happy?"

"yeah. they said he was right there beside me the whole time... i didn't even realize. freya. vivi was a really good friend."

Freya nodded and stroked his shoulder reassuringly. Even through the carrion worm silk she'd carefully dried, Zidane's skin felt like damp ice. "Yes. Yes he was. Vivi was a good friend to all of us."



"i'm cold."

"I know. I'm sorry."



"do you love me?"

She had to wonder how much of his delirium was attributed to the hi-potion, and how much was... She blinked hard again. A Dragon Knight will NOT cry at her comrade's vigil. "As my dearest friend."

He smiled weakly, pleased with the reply. "...i'm not afraid anymore."

All feeling drained from him with a quiet sigh. Freya nearly dropped to the floor before reaching him, gathering his bony frame into her arms and holding on tight. A single, desperate sob brushed his neck.

Freya felt overwhelmingly humbled by the scene--so submissive, so complacent, such a childlike surrender, such a meek voice, such a frail creature hiding in a bundle of robes and a drooping hood and shivering with cold or death or fear of death, she couldn't quite tell...

She realized, then, that she had missed something--something tragic and important.

She wasn't there when he stopped. She was in Burmecia, busy. Working, regrouping, rebuilding, oblivious.

But now he's come to her.

And she gets to watch him stop all over again, for the first time.

His last breath was wasted on ridiculous anticlimax--typically, selfishly, stupidly, lovably /Zidane/.

"you're not gonna wanna hear this... heh... but alex thought you were pretty hot."


Freya deftly hopped backwards off the roof of her house, surveyed her solemn handiwork, wiped the last tear from her salty muzzle and walked away.

She walked fast and far, through and around town, her feet as restless as her heart. Her pacing was broken when she bumped into her husband on a narrow street. He was sporting the decorated armor and pike of a palace sentry, and was probably on his way home from duty. Freya realized with a leaden pang that he didn't even know they had a houseguest today.

"Freya!" Fratley exclaimed, concern mixed in his tone once he noticed that she was armed and dressed for travel. "Good day seeing you here, my love. What are you doing? Where are you headed?"

She was grateful (not for the first time, either) for the way the dipping nose of her headgear concealed her eyes. "Fratley?" she addressed him neutrally.


"Is there a difference between loving someone and loving the idea of love?"

Fratley tipped his hat, showing his lifted brow. "The idea of love?"

"Yes, I mean... Can you be in love with being in love, without actually being in love? Or is there not a difference?"

Fratley wrinkled his nose and then answered in the next beat, as sure as if he were quoting a text, "No, there can't be. Love is love, and that is all. Love is the purest thing there is. It's all one ever needs."

Freya stared at the cobbles, her stance unreadable. "...It must be enough."

"What?" Fratley pried, "Why do you ask? Has something happened? What's wrong, my love?"

She shifted her halberd across her back and picked up her feet again, marching past Fratley. "...Nothing."

He turned after her, bemused. "Where are you going?"

"To make the rounds," she replied, her stride unrelenting.

"You'll be back soon?"

Rain filled the growing gap between the couple. Neither Freya's glance nor voice breached it.


She paused at the corner of a broader avenue, a misty halo on her fiery coat and helmet where the rain kissed her. "It's okay," she spoke up, her words bathing the alley in calm echoes, "You loved me too much to look back. I won't look back, either."

"What?" Fratley yelped, his concern rapidly sinking into alarm. When he started towards her, his wife lept clear of his path, sailing over the nearest building with a Dragon Knight's trademark grace. He imitated her path for a few bounds, only to watch her trail vanish into the clouds.

"...Freya!!" He trotted to a stop upon the ridge of a strange rooftop and searched the crowded afternoon market, nettled and lost.

She was gone.


He stood outside her dwelling, getting soaked and ruminating over how much he hated it. His gaze fixed on the strange banner plugged atop the roof, piercing the shingles. He only flinched when a dribble of rain sifted through his dreds and into his eyes.

"Huh," Amarant grunted. "So it's finished."

"Whoa," chirped a slick, cocky voice. The monk shifted far enough to glimpse Puck approaching from behind, Uthor steady on his liege's heels. "Hey, aren't you the flamer Amarant?"

The bounty hunter returned a dangerous growl.

"Yep," Puck confirmed, "You're a feisty one. If you're lookin' for Freya, she just took off."

"You don't say," Amarant grumbled in the most caustic tone he could muster.

Puck threw an arm vaguely southward. "Yeah, I saw her jump over--"

Amarant pushed around him, sauntering off. "Shut up, king rat."

Uthor squawked at the snub and His Majesty huffed in the monk's wake. "Man, what an asshole."


Fratley rushed home. He wasn't sure what he was going to find, but hopefully there would be a clue towards his wife's strange behavior.

He stopped short of the threshold to his house, two distractions catching him at once.

The first, his daughter, bounced up to him from the next street and hugged his legs. "Hi Daddy! School was fun today."

Fratley blindly petted the hood of Adele's poncho, his eyes glued to the diversion on his roof. The girl, taking her father's unresponsiveness for a bad sign, followed his gaze upwards, until she was looking at... a flag? Someone had jammed a short blade--it almost looked like a dagger--upright into the sloped roof and tied a strip of purple cloth to its grip.

"Daddy, what is that?"

Fratley replied, trepidation icing his voice, "It's a hallow flag."

"What's it for?"

He drew a deep, collected breath and explained. "It's an old tradition. On the field of battle, Dragon Knights would honor a lost comrade by taking a cloth token from his person and tying it to his weapon, making a flag. It's proper to use the colors of the warrior's clan for the cloth, so all who see the flag will recognize the weapon and clan colors of the deceased."

"What's 'deceased'?" Adele innocently wondered, "Izzat dead?"

"Yes, it's another way of saying dead."

"Did someone die? Is that why a hallow flag's there? It's a purple flag. Which clan is that?"

"It's..." He scratched his nose, trying to conjure a correct answer over admission that he didn't know. He eventually failed, and instead ordered the girl at bay. "Stay here, pumpkin. I'll go see."

"Hey hey, Fratman!" Puck paced up to the group, startling the Dragon Knight before he could set foot one inside his own house.

"Your Majesty! Regent!" He spun and bowed briskly to Puck. Adele followed her father's lead and curtsied.

"Geez," Puck launched into a rant, "You look like you've seen a ghost! First Freya, then that flamer guy, and now you two! What's with all the moping around here? It's already raining--sure as hell don't need more waterworks. You losers made me forget why I came over--"

Puck skipped backwards when he spotted the makeshift monument on the roof. "Whoa! Is that a hallow flag? Who the hell just died?"

"That's a good question," Uthor commented, as clueless as the next man.

Brit abruptly stormed out the front door, sobbing loudly and clinging to his father's free leg. "Daddy!"

Fratley juggled his weapons and children, fighting to stay cool despite the rising bile in his throat. "What's wrong, Brit?"

"Mommy left and Uncle Zidane is dead!"

Adele's hands flew up to her mouth with a squeak. Uthor stiffened and Puck fumed.

"Who the--Zidane? Don't tell me that bastard kicked the bucket already; he's not ten years older than I am! What the hell's going on?"

Uthor tapped his superior's shoulder. "Your Majesty, really, children are right th--"

Puck whirled on him. "Don't gimme your prim-and-proper bullshit now! Somebody just died, for craps'sake. I can swear if I want."

Fratley staggered back, shook his head, scanned his surroundings, urgently sped indoors and vanished upstairs. Adele and Brit were stranded outside, the former shocked and the latter crouched on the sidewalk, blubbering to himself.

Puck began to interrogate the rain. "What the hell's Zidane doin' out here, anyway? And what the hell happened to 'im? Shouldn't his queen know about this or somethin'?"

Uthor righted his bearings and nodded. "You're right. We should send notice to Alexandria right away."

"Yeah, do that."

Uthor shuffled away, a low-key, "Oh my," on his breath.

Fratley reappeared, clutching the doorframe and looking only a little better than someone who had, in fact, seen a ghost. He simply nodded at his king's questioning look.

Puck, never at a loss for words, blithely lamented, "Damn, Zidane's dead. Didn't see that comin', no sir. Vivi's friend. Helluva nice guy. Kicked a lot of ass in that war thingy, too."

The king flicked his tail decisively.

"Oh well, shit happens."
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