Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 9 > Practical Medicine

In Bed

by Myshu 0 reviews

Ficlet. Zidane, Freya, and how to learn nothing the hard way.

Category: Final Fantasy 9 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Characters: Freya Crescent, Zidane Tribal - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2007-01-25 - Updated: 2007-01-26 - 1652 words - Complete

"I am not a healer, Zidane Tribal--hold still."

White mages were sometimes called "emergency relief."

"Ah-ahh! W-wait a second."

White magic was renowned for the ability to heal any ailment or trauma short of death (sometimes skirting even that), defying all advances in chemical medicine with a few enchantments, a wink and a prayer.

"Do you want me to fix this or are you going to flounder around all night? I'm about to set your shoulder whether you're ready or not."

However curative magic, like all other spells that augmented the body, had only temporary effects. A strong Cura could last several hours before receding and leaving its patient to fight recent aches and wounds anew. The magic was best used to seal lacerations and set bones while more permanent remedies were sought.

"Okay! Okay. Don't hold back."

He insisted against potions; he wanted to save them. He said he had a feeling they were going to need every last one before their confrontation with Kuja was fulfilled. He wouldn't share that slight doubt with anyone but her, though; he also wanted to save the group's morale.

She said he was being senselessly stubborn, proud and vain, but respected his wishes.

One foot braced against the small of his back, Freya wrenched his right arm into its proper socket with an alarming crack.
"/Mother of fffff/--" Zidane spit a string of curses into his blanket that would've turned Prince Puck's ears red.

They had been on the road together for some time now, each one of the headstrong party of eight looking for their own reason to stop a madman from crimes he'd already committed. Freya supposed that ultimately, this was what they called revenge.

They had been following a lead back to the Blue Narciss that would hopefully unearth Kuja's hideout in the deserts to the east. In the meantime, they camped just clear of the peaked woods that shrouded the Black Mage Village, the twin moons bright and steady over their four little tents. Eiko and Dagger, Quina and Vivi, Amarant by himself and Steiner left alone--or vice versa, depending on which mistrusted the other more by the time the sun had set.

And Freya stayed with Zidane. The dragon knight wished this was the first and last night she'd be stuck nursing her obstinate comrade's injuries, but it was hardly either case.

It started one of many nights like this ago, she remembered. They were all eating around the campfire when he ribbed her with some lewd joke about sharing a tent, something usually directed at the princess and hotly thwarted by her bodyguard. If Freya hadn't caught the insistent glance between the lines, she would've throttled Zidane right there and wrapped up the evening early.

Instead, after the others had retired, she indulged his poor humor and followed him to bed.

"I didn't want to bother anyone else with this," he admitted then, and she was at once flattered and annoyed that he chose to bother /her/, of all candidates. He complimented her powers of discretion, saying she'd appreciate a secret. Then he rolled up one pant leg to show a livid, swollen ankle wrapped in a blood-soaked sock and asked, "You wouldn't happen to have something for sand scorpion venom, would you?"

Once she figured out his scheme, she nearly strangled him anyway.
Earlier that day, one of their recurring encounters with monsters bought him a nasty souvenir. Instead of treating it sensibly and immediately, Zidane accepted a quick, unaccounted Cure from Eiko and walked on the injury the rest of the day, comfortably numb--until after dark, when the spell wore off, of course.

Freya berated him on several counts: for letting his guard down around a sand scorpion, for trying to hide the sting, for trying to walk it off, and then for getting away with all of the above without suspicion. She cursed his feckless machismo seven different ways while obliging his need for medicine, and then kept her honorable word on it the next morning. Nobody else knew better.

The next time, it was a dragonfly bite. It became a parade of exotic bruises and scrapes, each blow brashly taken in Dagger's or Eiko's or Vivi's stead, and sometimes even hers. A Cura always brought him back to his feet and ready to go, and while Dagger gently thanked and reprimanded him at once, saying that next time he might not be that lucky, Freya would privately frown. She knew that "next time" was going to be /that night/, which neither princess nor budding summoner seemed to realize.

"You're lucky I remember a few things from the shamans during my training to become a Dragon Knight," Freya lectured while her patient caught his breath, "Or I'd just sic Eiko on you and be done with all this."

"Urmgh," Zidane groaned appreciatively, face still buried in the blanket.

"You were reckless. You threw yourself right on top of that zaghnol!"

The boy tentatively rolled over, a relieved color returning to his face, and tested his throbbing joints while Freya rifled through her purse.

"It could have stomped you to death," she peevishly concluded, withdrawing a vial of wiltgrass balm.

Zidane sat up and scratched the back of his neck. "Not if I'm on top of it..." he remarked offhand, wincing at the puddle of drool he'd left behind.

She pushed him back down, evoking a clipped cry. "Your smart mouth won't spare you this time. Now pull up your shirt and let me look at those bruises. We're not done yet."

"Yes m'am..." he drew out a bitter grumble as he complied. "Geez, someone's crabby tonight. You sound like my mother."

"You could've used a mother!" Freya snipped. Whimpers escaped like hiccups as she padded cold balm over his purple ribs, and he squirmed on his belly like a fish. "She might have taught you some sense--not like that band of vagabonds that brought you up."

"Hey, no dissin' the gang," Zidane mildly objected, aware that nothing was going to stop his friend's tirade at this point.

Freya sniffed a flustered note. "I just worry about you. You can't keep pulling crazy stunts like that."

"'iko was in danger," he mumbled evasively into his arms.

"Eiko was fine. She's a perfectly capable white mage and a summoner, to boot. Fenrir wouldn't let anything get within six feet of hurting her."

"Tha's bullshit and you know it."

"Maybe," Freya relented, "But she still has plenty of experience getting out of harm's way."

"Wa'n't fast enough."
"Nevermind that Amarant already had his poison claws in the zaghnol's flank?"
"Wasn't gonna let'er get hurt."
"And look who ended up hurt."
"Not gonna let'er get hurt."
"You're certainly lucky Dagger doesn't see you like this. Poor girl has enough to fret over."

"Not gonna let anyone get hurt," he said as forcefully as he could without the great outdoors overhearing.

Freya wasn't daunted. "We can fend for ourselves, you know. You don't have to be our human shield; it's ridiculous. You think you're going to be a hero, but you're just playing the fool. And at this rate you'll be a dead fool. I'd almost say you don't trust us."

"I trust you guys!" he squawked, finally offended.

"Then have a little faith in our abilities!" Freya argued.

"I do! I just..." Zidane faltered, "I just couldn't take it if something happened to one of you guys and I coulda... you know? I don't want to..." He swallowed and closed his misty eyes, finishing frailly, "I just want to protect my friends."

The Burmecian hesitated, then mellowed, her hand going easy on his side before eventually pulling away. She put a lid on the balm, wiped off the pads of her fingers with a rag, packed up her stray things and then spread smooth her half of the "bed." Zidane lay cemented in place, not moved in any sense until he felt a hand gingerly brush his hair off his cheek. His eyes cracked open and found Freya peering over him, a puzzling, maternal look traced along her muzzle and up her brow.

"You're still so young," she whispered closely, "You don't have to grow up so fast."

His countenance melted, confounded by her again. He dug his gaze into the ground, unable to face her pity with his guilt--for hiding, for lying, for bringing his pain to her doorstep--for all the pain he couldn't hide or steal away from everyone else's. "But we do," he murmured, "We all do."

She only pursed her lips into a deeper frown, tucked the blanket around his shoulders and patted him on the head like some invalid dog. "Get some rest. You'll be as good as new in the morning."

So he would be. He always bounced right back, like a cat. And he'd need all the vigor, because she knew tomorrow would have still more monsters to fight. She knew as well that when it got down to the line in the heat of battle, her little lecture would fly straight out the window. She couldn't stop him as much as he couldn't help it; it was his nature. It was going to take a lot more than strong words to teach him how to count on his friends the way they counted on him.

Until then, she would be his matronly shaman, night after bruised and bloody night.

She knew, because they've had this talk countless nights before.

Their battle was over for now, though. Nothing left to say, Zidane shifted under the blanket, granting a little space for Freya to settle in. She snuffed out the miniature oil lamp and slipped into the warm pocket, pressing her back snugly to his.

They sighed some silent treaty and let sleep roll in, no gratitude anywhere save the fuzzy tail coiled softly around Freya's leg.
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