I blinked at the harsh light filtering into my eyes. I could barely see anything; a shape sat in front of me. My head still swam and I had the unpleasant urge to hurl. Sleeping potions were much worse than spells; they seemed to give off a very nasty hung-over effect.
"Where…hnn…bright…" I muttered, moving my arm over my eyes.
The shape moved and a moment later the harsh light was gone. I shifted my arm again, trying to adjust to the fact I could see. The room I woke in was not the one I had grown accustomed to; it was small and had very few furnishings and the walls and floors were wooden. Humming filled my ears – the sounds of propellers – and I sat bolt upright. Airships made that noise, and airship cabins looked like this.
"Blank?" I questioned. Had the rescue really worked?
"Oh, I'm afraid not. I do remember him though…I enjoyed killing him."
My breath caught in my throat and I threw myself from the bed. I wobbled on my feet as I turned to face Kuja, his silver hair glittering in the light that still fell through the window. I threw myself at him but was tossed aside. Skidding across the floor I scrambled for my balance, jumping to my feet again.
"Tell me you didn't!" I cried, clenching my fists by my side.
Kuja shrugged and leant on the window sill. "You have to understand why I did. They were trying to take you from me."
"Of course they were!" I yelled, "You're a monster! They were rescuing me."
Kuja strolled over, stopping a couple paces away from me. He smiled warmly, as if he was simply sharing a conversation.
"You don't understand. They're not like us. You and I were meant to be together because we are the same. You were made for me."
I shook my head angrily, stepping backwards until I came into contact with the wall. He was crazy, and I was trapped in his psychotic little game.
"Zidane, don't be mad at me. It's for your own good. I'm much better for you. That…person…he said he loved you and wanted you back. He was going to take you from me! I couldn't let him do that – I had to kill him! The others too; the Princess, the Dragons…they all wanted you."
I slid down the wall as my heart convulsed in my chest. Were they really all dead? Blank…he loved me? I shook my head against, placing my hands over my ears to shut out the painful words. I could barely breathe; not only did the rescue mission fail but they had all died with the attempt.
"How could you?" I screamed at him, pounding the floor with my fists.
"Don't yell, my love. You're mine now – you were always mine. I stopped them from taking you away. No one will replace me, understand? That…boy…he didn't understand. I had to kill him. I'll look after you from now on."
Kuja sat on the floor in front of me, leaning as close as he dared. Was he really that crazy? Obviously yes. I hadn't thought he was that bad – he was never this bad. It was like something snapped when my rescuers came.
"You don't need anyone else now – you have me. We won't be alone now. I was always alone but now I have you back! I'll look after you well. I've been doing a good job!"
I raised my head and glared at him. I wanted to wrap my hands around his neck and choke the last breath out of him. He'd killed all my friends, the only family I knew, and the person who had loved me. He thought that he'd been doing a good job 'looking after me'. Something was wrong with him, I knew it. He'd always been delusional – and now I knew it wasn't just because of the evil forces that had claimed him previously. There was something wrong with him.
"My sweet brother, you don't have to worry now. I'll never leave you again; I promise I'll take good care of you."
He leant forward further, stroking my hair. I didn't have the effort to resist; the last strands of hope I had were all gone. There would be no more rescue missions, since anyone who cared about me was dead. Blank…Tantalus…even Garnet!
Tears slid down my cheeks slowly – I was going to spend the rest of my miserable life with a crazy bastard. There was no hope of ever escaping; alone there was no way I could beat Kuja. I felt like I'd been snapped in two as every last inch of my being ached in pain. I had no will to defy him any longer – the hope that had fuelled my resistance was gone.
"Don't cry, love. There's no need to cry. I won't leave you – ever. Please don't cry…"
I heard a 'thunk' as something was placed in front of me. My vision blurred with tears though I dared not look.
"I brought you a present."
I looked down after a moment and saw the familiar loop of silver lying in front of me. Its clean surface shone at me. I snapped my hand out and picked it up, bringing it level with my eyes. At least with this I could go outside – I would be allowed to walk out of my room. I snapped the clasp open and bent the two halves wide enough at the hinge to slip it around my neck. As soon as the clasp was locked in place, the collar glowed. I couldn't see then, but later I discovered that the joins and the clasp were gone, and on the front was Kuja's name to remind me and everyone else that I now belonged to him.
I lowered my head obediently and Kuja pulled me into his arms. "That's much better. Now everyone knows. No one will come near you again."
More silent tears spilled down my cheeks – I was a fool to think I would be rescued. Kuja would never let me go.
My first mistake was to underestimate him. My second was to believe I could escape him. Those were the two biggest mistakes I made in my entire life and I paid for them with my freedom.