Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 9 > The End of Times

Salvaging What's There To Salvage

by DevilishKurumi 0 reviews

It's the end of the world as we know it... [Character Death, Character Mutilation, Character Bad-Stuff-Happens-To. See inside for full warnings.]

Category: Final Fantasy 9 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama, Horror - Characters: Adelbert Steiner, Amarant Coral, Beatrix, Blank, Eiko Carol, Freya Crescent, Garnet Til Alexandros, Marcus - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2006-05-12 - Updated: 2006-05-13 - 3034 words

Amarant has trouble opening his eye, because he feels very warm and content to stay where ever he his. He halfway wants to believe that everything from the last few days has just been a bad dream, but he's never been one to lie to himself.
So he forces his eye open and winces as the stitches on his other eye inadvertently stretch. He hates that.
"You're awake!"
The soft voice makes him blink in confusion because he knows that voice, but he can't quite remember where...
"You're so dumb/, Ama-chan! You should /never do things like that again!"
His eye focuses and he sees Eiko sitting on the foot of his bed, arms crossed and face containing a smug, worried expression.
"Eiko?" he rasps.
"Good morning!" she chimes, grinning impishly at the bounty hunter.
He jerks up in bed and stares at her in confusion. "I thought you were..."
He trails off and her grin softens.
"I know," she tells him, "its okay." The grin returns in full force and she asks, "Are you hungry?"
He looks around and realizes he's back in the hospital.
"Where is..." He looks at himself and realizes his clothes are gone. "Where are my /clothes/, brat?"
"Oh, those?" She waves a hand, "They tossed them."
He tries to wrap his head around this new development and can't. "They threw away my clothing?"
"Don't worry; I have something for you to wear." She gives him a look that makes him feel incredibly guilty, and says, "I made them for you a while ago, when I was still hoping you'd come on your own time, and not just because you were saving the world."
He remembers getting letters from the young girl, all talking of politics in layman's terms, asking questions about things that she knew he'd never answer... and he would never write back. He had a bundle of them in a traveling sack... if he ever finds that again. He doubts it and this makes him feel really...
"Your clothes are right here, at the end of the bed," Eiko tells him with that guilty-striking look on her face, "Get dressed, and then we can go help Blank, okay?"
She gets up to leave and Amarant asks, "Who's Blank?"
"A friend," she tells him, "Now wait until I leave before you change!" She wags a finger at him and then skips out of the room, slamming the unstable door behind her.
He stares at the foot of his bed and finds a bundle of deep green fabric and leather straps and hopes that the girl isn't totally inept at stitching like some women.
Marcus really wants to leave.
He wants to get as far the hell away from the theatre district as possible, because it smells like rotting corpses and shit and its hot /everywhere/, even if the sun normally doesn't reach certain areas. He wants to run because it scares him to know that his brothers and old boss are rotting away about a hundred yards from him and he can't stop it.
He wants to leave, but Blank can hardly breathe and can hardly move, so he sits beside the broken down bed and holds his brother's hand. He wonders where Benero went but doesn't have the will to look for him.
Blank is pale and sweaty and grimy, and he can't open his eyes right with all the muck in them and he can't bend his arms at the joints really, not anymore; and, for all of his studying at night just because he had nothing better to do, Marcus can't help him. He doesn't know where to begin.
He wants to tell Blank that, but his brother manages to say, "I trust you, Marcus," every so often in a dry, throaty cough and he /can't/.
To make it worse, sometimes his brother rasps and whispers about angels and help being on the way. Marcus is just thankful that fucking dragon hadn't seen them. God, that thing is going to give him /nightmares/. It had faced off with some vicious, lion-like creature at the top of the Not-So-Grand Castle, and Marcus is almost certain that there aren't a lot of survivors on the other side of the barricade.
Blank suddenly struggles with that mysterious blanket and fights against Marcus, who tries to calm him down and get him to lay back down, because he's just coughs more when he moves -
"I need to go!" he rasps, grabbing at Marcus' shoulders, "We need to go!"
"Shh, hey, bro, it's me."
"Let me go!"
Marcus frowns and pushes Blank against the boards. "Blank! You need to calm down!"
The redhead struggles against him a little more and then goes kind of limp, eyes kind of opening even though they're covered with this weird film -
"Zidane's dead, isn't he?"
Marcus wants to respond but Blank's not talking to him. As the redhead practically sags in Marcus' arms, the leader of Tantalus turns his head and wants to brandish his dagger at the girl and man there but really... why bother?
"Please," he rasps, realizing his voice is no better than Blank's because they've barely had any water, "Help him, he's delirious."
The little girl smiles in complete tranquility and says to the ragged, scarred behemoth next to her, "That's Blank. You remember him, don't you?"
"Vaguely," the man growls.
The girl smiles at Marcus now and says, "We can help you over to the other side of the wall - there's a hospital set up and people are waiting on the other side to help your friend. I told them about you."
"You... how did you even know...?"
The girl shakes her head and Marcus doesn't bother finishing his sentence.
The man stalks up to the two thieves and, with a kind of calmness that seems unfitting of him, lifts the half-unconscious, mumbling Blank into his arms.
"Can you walk?" he asks Marcus in a gruff, but not quite unfriendly voice.
The thief nods.
"Good. At least one of you isn't utterly fucked."
The man stalks out into the sun and Blank gives a startled gasp; Marcus jogs after the man and is followed by the girl.
"Marcus," the girl says in a quiet voice, and so in response the thief slows his pace and looks to the girl in confusion.
"What... how do you know my name?"
"I'm... a friend of Zidane's," she sighs. "I know a lot of people. I wanted to tell you..." She puts a small hand against her shoulder and nods, "You did everything you could."
There's something final about that sentence and he frowns. "What are you trying to say?"
"I'm saying," she mumbles, "Don't hold yourself responsible for how much worse he's going to get."
"He's not going to get worse," he snaps viciously, and he trudges on in quiet trepidation of what's beyond the rock wall ahead of them.
Eiko sits at the head of the table in the middle of a rough clearing, on top of a plank of wood supported by bricks. The group around her is haggard, defeated, but relieved at her appearance and she thinks that maybe everything will be okay. Other than a few workers on either side of the clearing, working on finding people around them, they are completely secluded and alone.
"I'm sorry I took so long," she tells them.
Garnet, sitting between Steiner and Beatrix, on Eiko's left, asks in a drawn voice, "Where have you been?" She can see Eiko, but the little summoner isn't concerned about that at all. She knew all the bonuses and drawbacks of her new situation when she took Madeen's offer. Not that she's going to tell them, of course - all girls have some kind of mystery about them.
"Mystique builds character!" Zidane had told her once.
"It doesn't really matter," she waves her hand dismissively. "I'm just glad everyone's alright. I would have come sooner but..."
"You keep saying 'but,' and never tell us what you mean/," Amarant growls, from his position across from Beatrix. His eye is on the little girl, but Eiko knows his mind is somewhere completely different. After all, he /had been out nearly a day after all that commotion in the square. Really, he should've known better than to go tromping through ruins in his condition!
"Well, I don't think I'm allowed to," Eiko lies through her teeth, innocently blinking her eyes at her proclaimed "big brother." "You know how these things are."
She grins at all of them and says, "It's been forever since I've seen you all! I'm sorry it had to be like this." She looks at Lani with a catty expression and asks, "Can you hear me, or are you really that deaf?"
"Shut it, brat," the woman pouts, crossing her arms and putting her feet on the table. "This is /great/. All I can listen to is a bunch of old men or a little /kid/."
Amarant shoves her shoulder and she growls at him.
"Eiko," Garnet begins, "I just want to know why I can see you, and why Lani can hear you. Can't you tell me just that?"
Eiko could. She really could tell them, but where was the fun in that?
Then again, after everything that's happened... She doesn't want to keep Garnet in the dark like the old man Eidolon does. She knows he's just doing it for her wellbeing but in the end, it's going to ruin her...
"Um, it's... I kind of had to..."
Eiko wants to tell her everything, about how hard the blasts hit the castle and about how everything had gone red before black and how she had felt so many strands in her soul cut loose, and had felt a sudden emptiness after the dark. She wants to tell Garnet that she knew the second Zidane died, and she could tell her right now that it was exactly twelve minutes and twenty three seconds past ten o'clock at night.
Garnet doesn't even know what day it is /now/.
"I just had to help the Eidolons help /you/, so they kind of gave me special benefits."
"Why don't they just give me my hearing back?" Lani growls, glaring at the little girl. "And, I guess her eyes, if they felt like it."
Eiko rolls her eyes and says, "I'm different/. It was just easier to give me a little help than to give /you a lot." She looks at Garnet, "No offense, Dagger."
Even after four years, Eiko still prefers calling Garnet "Dagger." She only knew that name for nearly three months - even Cid had told her that he preferred that name to Garnet, just because of what it meant to his kind-of-niece.
"I understand," the queen says, even though Eiko's sure she doesn't quite get it yet.
"Forgive me for interrupting," Beatrix mumbles, looking very quiet and a lot different than how Eiko remembers her. She always thought Beatrix was the calm, strong General who was never overly cautious because she always knew how far to go... But right now she seems withdrawn and almost...
"What is it, Beatrix?" Garnet asks, confused.
"What about...?"
Eiko knows what they're talking about because Madeen had told her at the very beginning what had happened to her adoptive parents. "I know, don't worry," she tells the two women with a smile. "It's alright."
"Know what?" Steiner asks, looking beyond confused.
Eiko kind of likes Steiner, just because he's very... She doesn't even know a word for him. She just gets a good feeling from him.
"Don't worry about it, okay?" Eiko stretches and says, "We need to start planning some sort of temporary chain of command for Lindblum, because we need to go soon."
"Go /where/?" Amarant growls, "We don't even know where to start."
"I do," Eiko tells her "big brother," grinning impishly, "Don't worry, Ama-chan, I'll take care of you!"
"If I weren't delusional and in pain, brat, I'd be throwing you up on top of something you couldn't get down from."
Eiko waves her arms and says, "Enough! We need to find someone to help make sure Blank and Marcus will be alright."
"Why do you care so much about two thieves?" Lani asks, scratching the side of her head in annoyance, "They don't have anything worth taking."
"They're friends of Zidane, and besides, they're nice people."
Garnet looks away and Amarant looks at her, eye narrowed slightly and face dark with thoughts Eiko doesn't want him to have, if only because they're not good for anyone.
"Whatever," Lani grumbles, seeing Amarant's direction as well, standing and shaking her head. "I'd rather be deaf than have to listen to this little brat any more." She turns on her heel and stalks off, easy as she can, waving a bit and saying, "See you," in a very final voice.
Eiko watches her leave with little remorse - she doesn't like Lani and she's not going to pretend she does. But she finds it interesting that while everyone else has noted her leaving, Amarant's eyes linger on her retreating form and even after he turns back to Eiko with a level look, Steiner is still glancing in that direction.
"What do we do, then?" Amarant asks the girl, bringing her eyes back to him.
Eiko shrugs. "Everyone at the hospital seems pretty good at what they're doing, so I guess they don't need any help from me. The only thing I want people to start worrying about is building places for people to sleep... and food. Oh," she jumps a little, "And the theatre district! There are probably more survivors over there and I don't want them alone."
"Eiko..." Garnet rasps, before shaking her head. "We'll find someone to start organizing what you want. But... can you take me to see Blank and Marcus, first? I want to..."
Eiko doesn't want to tell the two thieves what's happened to Zidane. She's kind of dreading it, honestly; Blank already knows on some subconscious level but he's so... /hurt/, so tortured right now that she doesn't think it'd be a good idea.
Still, Garnet's keeping enough things from people. It wouldn't do for her to keep something like this away from the two men, who knew her husband long before she had.
Eiko stands and nods. "I'll take you to them right now, if you want."
Garnet stands and so does Beatrix and Steiner, but Amarant stays in his seat, staring off into space and acting weird for himself. Then again, Eiko isn't surprised.
"Alright, let's go!" she exclaims, ignoring Steiner's backward glance at Amarant. She tromps ahead, a grin on her face and her thoughts in quiet rotation.
Marcus sits very close to the bed Blank has been put in, his eyes sunken with lack of sleep and his head hanging slightly from exhaustion, and Steiner is rather surprised that the man is holding up so well - that he has refused rest even though a bed is made for him only a few steps away.
Eiko is sitting on Blank's bed, hand on the thief's foot, and she says, "We're making plans to leave Lindblum soon, Marcus."
The thief looks at her briefly before returning his vigilant gaze on his brother-in-arms. "Right."
"We don't know what's wrong with Blank," the little girl continues carefully, "But the healers are going to give him special attention because I asked them to. We'll help him, okay?"
Marcus shifts his head and looks steadily at Eiko now, shaking his head. "Don't do that," he mutters roughly. "Blank would hate getting preferential treatment. It's not right."
Blank mumbles incoherently and his eyes open just barely.
The older thief is already over his comrade, and he rasps out, "Blank, you're awake - good. I thought you might be..."
The redhead coughs and chokes out, "Not quite yet."
"How are you feeling?" Eiko asks, smiling easily at the thief who is now almost staring at her in disbelief.
"...Wishing I was still delirious. Wouldn't feel so stupid, then, for thinking the regent's daughter to be an angel."
"You don't know the half of it," Eiko mutters to herself. Steiner hears it but doesn't comment, because he doesn't see Beatrix or his queen raising it themselves.
Blank's eyes halfway run over the group and stop on Garnet.
"...So," he whispers, licking his lips and closing his eyes, "She's alone, huh."
Garnet's face changes in that nearly imperceptible way and Steiner knows she's on that edge again, but he's not going to reprimand the thief. He could very well be on that edge as well.
"...Yes," Eiko tells the thieves in an undertone.
Blank sighs and he seems to drift off again; Eiko is talking quietly with Marcus and so Steiner looks to Beatrix.
"Are you alright?" he asks, because he hasn't had a moment to talk with her in nearly four days.
His wife looks to him with weary eyes but manages a half smile and a nod. "I should be fine."
He wants to tell her that he loves her, and that he doesn't need her to keep acting strong because he can do it just fine on his own, but the words choke him and so he turns his head towards the broken window.
"Marcus," Blank rasps suddenly, eyes opening slightly and going over his friend. "Will you go with them?"
Marcus stares at his friend in complete confusion and Steiner feels himself doing the same.
"I'm not going anywhere without you," the older thief tells the younger, voice stiff and full of a strange emotion Steiner can't place.
"I don't..."
Blank looks weakly at Eiko and at the three in the back and says something quietly to only Marcus. The other's face pales and he grabs his comrade's hand in a tight grip.
"Don't start that bullshit - I'm not going. You'll be fine."
He turns to them and says, "Can you guys... leave?"
Steiner wants to tell him that they can't leave until preparations are complete but Garnet's already nodding and Beatrix is leading her away, so he follows and shuts the door behind him, leaving Eiko alone with the thieves she had saved.

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