Title: The Show Must Go On
Author: bnomiko
Rating: PG-13 to eventual R (maybe NC-17?)
Pairing(s): eventual Zidane x Kuja
Spoilers: through the end of the game
Disclaimer: "The Show Must Go On" and "Hang On in There" are performed and recorded by Queen. Final Fantasy IX is the creation and property of Square Co., Ltd. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: "Take care of Kuja." Zidane wondered if he'd misunderstood what Garland had meant by that. A canon inspired tumble through the events at the end of the game and beyond, hitting Kuja's issues along the way.
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

This is a SHONEN-AI fic (male + male romantic relationship). If you are offended by homosexual relationships, please do not read this. Flames will be disregarded.

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The Show Must Go On

Prologue: Hang On in There

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Don't let go
Don't lose your reputation
Thank God you're still alive, ha
You're still in one piece

Hang on in there, hang on in there
Pray for that magical moment and it will appear
(Wait for the moment)
Wait for the sunrise - oh
Just wait and see and it will seem so clear

- "Hang On in There," Queen

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You are on your own now.
Zidane... take care of Kuja.
... and protect the crystal.

It had started with those four simple words: take care of Kuja.

When Garland's fading voice had delivered that last message in Memoria, Zidane had thought he'd understood the task that lay before him, that it was up to him to take care of Kuja once and for all, to eliminate the threat the older Genome posed to all existence on Gaia.

He'd done his best to hold to that, both he and his friends... They'd confronted Kuja, clashed against him in one last, bitter fight, pushing him to the brink of defeat, before the fearsome mage had unleashed his ultimate spell, intent on taking them out with his last breath...

But they'd survived. And so had Kuja, though they hadn't realized it until later when, despite his injuries, he'd somehow teleported them away from Necron as the godlike entity had corroded, destroying everything in the immediate vicinity as he had faded from their world. Then he'd managed to send one last message to Zidane, faintly bidding him farewell. And Zidane, rash as ever, made his decision...

It should've been simple. Get in, find Kuja, and... well, Zidane hadn't thought past that, actually. Certainly it hadn't been an issue when he'd finally clambered up onto the platform which Kuja had lain. His brother had looked like he was knocking upon death's door: bleeding profusely from a nasty open wound on his left side, the tears in his clothing revealing a multitude of additional cuts and bruises. His skin had been white from blood loss; his silver hair painted with blotches of dark red. If that hadn't been enough, Zidane had known, even if the injuries had somehow been less severe... it wouldn't have mattered. Garland had said Kuja would die soon. And Kuja had expended so much his energy in that final battle; could he even recover from that?

And though it hadn't been the time or place for a heartfelt conversation - the Iifa Tree had been going wild around them - Kuja had been desperate to talk, despite how short and labored each breath had become. He'd asked after Zidane's companions, had spoken of regret... and then he had passed out. For a split second Zidane even thought Kuja had died, just like that. And in that moment, he'd suddenly wondered, had he misunderstood the meaning of those four simple words? Take care of Kuja... And what, help him? Save him?

Then the Iifa Tree's branches suddenly reared up and surged towards them, like angry snakes zeroing in on a meal, and the only thing Zidane could think of doing was throwing himself over the prone body beside him as the world went dark all around them.

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Author's Notes:

April 24, 2012