Shattered Feathers Prologue

By Tsarmina

I had closed my eyes for what I had believed to be the final time in my insignificant life, shutting out the worried face of my old rival. It was like a final defeat knowing that, despite all I had done, he was still willing to accept and forgive me for all of the crimes I had been guilty of in the past. The destruction of people and their homes seemed not to matter to him as he had stared down at me with those damned blue eyes. Those caring eyes full of concern.

A muffled protest had come, but I was losing consciousness and couldn't reply. I had wanted to reassure him; tell him that it didn't matter that I was no longer going to live. It was time to repent for my misdeeds, and my death would help Gaia heal its wounds and purge itself of me.

But, of course, it seemed fate had a knack for working in unpredictable ways, especially against what I wanted. I woke up with a jolt in a stuffy room, the crude upper bunk only two feet above my nose. I was surprised that I hadn't hit my head on it.

Disoriented, I attempted to determine my location. I twisted my head to one side, but it didn't do me any good: a cramped and messy room was all I could ascertain about the room I was in. A candle flickered weakly on a small table, its flame fluttering wildly in a small gust of wind that had slipped in through the cracked window.

A great groaning noise came from above my bed. Well, more of a grinding noise mixed with a growl of a sick dog. That explained why I had woken up so abruptly. I attempted to kick the bunk, but it appeared that, not only was I tightly wrapped in the blankets, but also my leg didn't even want to obey my command. Not that it surprised me, seeing as I was supposed to be dead. Unless I was dead, and this was someone's sick idea of Hell.

I groaned. No one who's dead should be this miserable. My whole body was sore and I could feel the sharp pain of some of the cuts I had received, accompanied by the dull aches of bruises. No, I definitely was not dead.

I groaned, attempting to roll over onto my side. This didn't work, of course, because of the tightness of the sheets. I tried a little harder, feeling that the covers gave a little. One more push should do it, I told myself.

When people talk about the instances in which an event happens in a split second, you never quite believe that something could happen quite that quickly. Well, that's what I had always thought as well. When one second I was pushing hard on the covers to roll over, and the next I was lying in a heap on the floor, I was more than just a little shocked. Shocked enough to cry out when I hit the rather solid floor with a loud thunk that would be heard across all of the continents of Gaia.

I heard another thump as someone hit the ground near me. I groaned and looked up. How ironic that the last face I saw in one life was the first I saw in another life.

"What are you doing? Trying to kill yourself or something?" Zidane demanded of me, crouching down next to me.

"I think you're the one trying to kill me," I snarled, my voice hoarse. I started to pull myself to my feet, grimacing from, not only the pain, but also the realization that I lacked any clothing whatsoever.

"Let me help," Zidane said hurriedly, grabbing my right arm and pulling me to my feet. "The second I go to sleep, you decide to do this," he groaned.

"If someone hadn't had the covers so tight, I would have been perfectly fine," I snapped, pulling my arm out of his grasp. I sat down on the bed defiantly, pulling the blankets over myself.

"Oh… Sorry about that," Zidane said. He ran his hand through his hair and grinned sheepishly. In the dim lighting I could see dark circles under his eyes. His already unruly blonde hair was even more unkempt than usual, his clothes wrinkled and disheveled. "I guess I thought you'd fall out."

Ha ha, very funny. I kept myself from snarling at him, realizing that the main reason I wished to do so was because I was so very sore. "I obviously managed it regardless of your efforts," I said testily.

"How are you feeling?" he asked, changing the subject abruptly. He started gnawing his lower lip and looked hard at me.

I met his gaze squarely and held it, catching the innuendo. "Like I'll live, despite the ache," I replied simply.

This seemed to satisfy him. "That's good to hear. I was worried…" He trailed off and looked away from me. "You know, it's been two weeks since the…incident at the Iifa Tree. I was starting to think you would die despite everything. The Black Mages and other Genomes were worried, as well."

"Then we're—"

"Yeah. I thought the Black Mage Village would be the best place to take you while you healed," Zidane confirmed.

"I guess I should…thank you, Zidane," I said softly. I looked towards where the little candle labored to survive in the darkness. "I never expected you'd actually return for me."

"I had to. You know that now, don't you?" Zidane shrugged a little. "Besides, I would expect you to do the same for me if I ever need your help."

I let myself smile faintly in his direction. "You expected a lot, didn't you? Even after I tried to kill you and your friends?"

"Let's forget the past. You've proven that you are willing to change, and I want to help you find a place to live. You can have happiness, despite everything that's happened. Everyone deserves a second chance. I had one, you know, and so should you."

I laughed. "You think I will change?"

"No. I expect you to change, Kuja," Zidane replied firmly.


Chapter 1

Final Fantasy 9 Fanfic