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Title: Changed
Fandom: Final Fantasy IX
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: very light Kuja/Zidane
Rating: AA
Summary: After escaping from the Iifa Tree, Zidane and Kuja are making the best of things...
Notes: For dentedsky

Zidane had yet to figure out which activity Kuja seemed to enjoy more - acting or thievery. Kuja was equally talented, and either way he tended to look perfect in a dress.

Sitting up, far out of the way until the next scene when he had a role of his own, Zidane couldn't help but smile as he watched his brother. Every second that Kuja had lived past their escape from the Iifa tree had turned into a chain of miracles as Zidane watched Kuja truly learn to live.

They had been rescued some time before and had ended up in Lindblum. Nearly two years had passed before Zidane had made his way to Alexandria. And back.

Dagger... no, Garnet - Garnet's hair had gotten long during that time. She had changed, he had changed, and...

Well, he was back in Lindblum, watching Kuja rehearse his role as the dramatic heroine, careful to keep his normally deep voice in a high register.

He hadn't told Garnet - Queen Garnet - about Kuja. There hadn't been an opportunity and honestly, well, he wasn't sure that he wanted her to know. Somehow, well, it would only complicate things more as far as their burgeoning friendship went.

Tantalus hadn't been contracted for anything interesting in awhile and, well, a few performances would pay the bills. Zidane leaned back where he sat. He could still hear Kuja's voice, and Blank responding. As long as Regent Cid didn't catch wind of a new Tantalus show... Well, in a wig and dress Kuja probably only looked like Kuja to anyone who knew him. But Eiko, and Hilda...

Zidane sighed. He hadn't visited Eiko lately, either. He'd promised to, after Alexandria, but he also knew that he wasn't hard to find in the streets - even if there were other Genomes wandering through more and more often.

So that might be a problem - thus far they'd managed to keep Kuja in smaller roles, but female performers tended to, well, only pass through Tantalus and not stay.

The truth would out itself eventually, Zidane knew. He just had to find a really, really good way to help it along. A way that wouldn't get Kuja trapped between two powerful summoners.

He looked up at the ceiling, fairly sure he should be finishing with the set-building instead of laying around on the pieces.


Shifting a bit so that he could lean over the edge of the scenery, Zidane glanced down. Somewhere during his fall into deep thought, Kuja had decided to climb halfway up to where Zidane was sitting - something that was not an easy task while in costume.

He smiled and reached down, grabbing Kuja's hand and pulling his brother up to him.

"...thanks." At first, when they'd been rescued, that had been a difficult word for Kuja to say and for anyone else to believe. But the gratitude had been and still was sincere.

"You have to be more careful," Zidane chided before settling Kuja beside him in a poof of heavy skirts and Kuja's long wig.

"Blank went to see if lunch was ready."

Nodding, Zidane studied his brother for a moment.

"What?" Kuja asked as he reached up to brush away stray hair that was a mixture of the wig and his own. "You're looking at me like I'm somehow less than..."

"I did knock your wig off a bit," Zidane admitted. "But that's not it. We're going to have to tell Garnet. And Eiko. And..."

"Tell them...?"

"About you," Zidane finished. He paused. More than likely he'd never mentioned that he hadn't told everyone.

Kuja was silent for a moment.

"You didn't tell them?" Kuja asked softly. "Oh."

"But you saved us," Zidane said quickly. "And you've been... good."

"So I've been your captive this whole time, have I? Kept safe for my own good?" Kuja asked. He didn't sound angry, but Zidane had yet to figure out how to tell exactly what Kuja was thinking.

"You could have left," Zidane replied. He looked away, down at the stage. "I just... didn't want you to. Especially if you had to use magic - that would make you even weaker and..."

"I don't do anything that I don't want to do," Kuja interjected. One of his hands caught Zidane's and held it. "This life is fascinating, to tell the truth. Every day there are new people, new books, and new experiences. And there are still things I'd like to do."

Zidane met Kuja's eyes for just a moment before looking down at their hands.

"I'll have to help you down."

"Consider it practice for the scene where you have to carry me," Kuja retorted.

"Which isn't fair, you're taller than I am," Zidane said with a mock-frown.

There was a pause, and then they both laughed.

"We could invite Mikoto, too," Zidane said as he scrambled down to the stage floor and looked back up at Kuja. Somehow, he knew that finally it would be okay. If Kuja was sure, well, he could be sure too. But first he had to get Kuja down from the top of the half-built set.

He held out his arms and smiled. "It's okay, Kuja - if you jump I'll catch you."


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Disclaimer: I don't own it, I'm just playing with it. All titles and characters belong to their respective creators and companies.