I wrote this because I'm a massive perv. It's all a little OOC and totally ridiculous but don't hate me for it. Let me perv, okay? Technically no sex here, but if you're super prude, this isn't for you.

Frog Teeth


It was night. An established time for peace and rest for the better majority of civilisation, except for half the population Lindblum, who must have missed that memo. The hour was not ungodly, but the amount of activity in the streets belayed the closed shops and rising moon. Dirty children ran unwatched through the streets, laughing and shrieking, darting suspiciously around groups foolish enough to let their guard down long enough for nimble fingers to pry open pockets. The night was warm and the skies were clear, so tavern owners had pulled their round, wooden tables onto the streets and here men and women gathered, drinking and singing bawdily underneath the first pinpricks of silvery stars.

Garnet Til Alexandros liked it. It was unfamiliar, yes, but there was some comfort offered by the distraction of countless bodies thronging through the narrow, cobbled streets of her Uncle's city. It reminded her that even in this dark time, even despite the occasional ruin of a house cocooned in scaffolding, life went on. People coped and rebuilt and continued to laugh around a frothy tankard of beer or a forkful of food.

And she liked walking these kind of streets. These places weren't her places and these people weren't her people, but after years of being cooped up in a castle surrounded by 'better folk', it was a welcome breath of fresh air to be reminded of how normal people looked and acted. It had frightened her at first, but she had warmed to their frankness, their crassness and their simplicity.

Most of all, she liked the way he was in these places.

Only the dark and dingy cities could coax Zidane's personality into a state of total comfort. As soon as the thief stepped onto the cracked cobblestones of Lindblum's lesser districts, he seemed to really come out of himself. He moved with practised ease through the cramped, stinking streets, hollering at people he recognised, shoulders back and confident, a whistle plucking his lips. He didn't put on a front for anyone, and she liked that about him a lot. The nobles back home wore so many masks she often felt she might never see the real face beneath, which could be glimpsed only through dubious threads of gossip.

It had been Garnet's idea to stay in the digs of Lindblum, much to Steiner's fervent protests. She claimed she wanted to integrate with the common populace, but really, after everything, she felt Zidane needed a break. Lindblum Castle was a wonderful refuge, but Zidane thrived among his own people. She'd asked him to take her to an inn in the Theatre District and he agreed after a few probing questions that she easily diverted.

The others in their troupe weren't so easily persuaded to leave the luxury of the castle, except Steiner of course, who begrudgingly accompanied them now, and drew attention to himself by generally looking tense, thumbing the hilt of his broadsword and glaring at anyone with four limbs and two eyes.

Garnet was in no rush, and neither was Zidane. He ambled along at a comfortable pace, untalkative but not unhappy, and Garnet distracted herself with the tenements crammed either side of them. They were tired looking houses, with chipping paintjobs and crumbling brickwork. Colourful shutters hung from rusted hinges, thrown wide now to relieve the occupants of the Lindblum summer heat.

So lost was she in her surroundings that it was only Steiner's grumbling that alerted Garnet to the change in the nature of the people around her. She ignored her knight's protests, concentrating as she was on twisting past groups of men that clogged the way. This street was heaving with people attracted to the numerous taverns edging their path.

When Garnet had finished squeezing between two burly men she realised she'd lost sight of Zidane. She glanced over her shoulder and realised she'd lost Steiner too. She suddenly felt like a princess again, lost in an ocean of unfamiliarity, and suddenly panic was upon her.

Zidane poked his head around the girth of a man some way ahead, eyes sifting through the crowd. She ran to him like a lost child that's found its mother but was brought up short by a gaggle of men crossing the street. When they passed Zidane had spotted to her and was waiting patiently. He grinned widely upon noticing her terrified expression and obnoxiously stuck out his hand.

"Keep up or you'll have t' hold it," he drawled.

She scowled and slapped it away. She sensed rather than saw Steiner, who had caught up with her now and was unquestionably throwing dark looks over her head at the thief, who deftly evaded them, shrugged, then continued to saunter down the street.

Steiner muttered something that sounded like 'terrible idea'.

As they neared the end of the road Garnet suddenly realised why this one was so crowded and mainly occupied by men. A feminine call from one of the tenements snared her attention. Her eyes crawled up the battered brickwork of a multi-storey tenement, all the way to the top window. The shutters were painted bright red, thrown open to the night, and lit from above by a little lamp. Several women occupied the narrow space and they called down to the men below, things sometimes obscene but more often simple enticements. One young lady had all but revealed her breasts in a striped corset; she leaned them heavily against the windowsill as she called to a young man in an engineer's uniform. In the window next to hers was a girl as scantily dressed as her partner, bare foot resting on the sill so anyone looking up would catch a glimpse of her pale thigh.

Another girl in a different window needed no such tactics, pretty as she was with buttercream ringlets and a heart shaped beauty spot on her cheek. She flashed someone on the street a painted grin and waved prettily, and much to Garnet's horror Zidane waved at back, tail flicking once to the right with unabashed interest.

Garnet hadn't realised she'd stopped walking until Steiner's hand was on her elbow, respectfully guiding her onwards. His helm was tilted down to hide his red cheeks as Garnet caught the end of something a girl was shouting that sounded suspiciously like a proposition to show her his 'other broadsword'.

Steiner caught up with Zidane in a few strides and snagged him by the collar.

"I will throttle you," he snarled.

"Ge' off." Zidane wriggled expertly from his gauntleted grip. "She wanted to go to an inn in the digs, so I'm taking her, alright?"

"She," Garnet snipped, "is getting tired." And a little flustered. "Are we almost there?"

"Yah," Zidane replied, smoothing down his wrinkled waistcoat and shooting a poisonous in Steiner's direction. "Just around the corner."

"And it's definitely an… an inn, right?" Garnet probed suspiciously. "Not… you know…" She waved a hand at an upper window of a tenement, where a girl was beckoning a bearded man through the door below.

Zidane blinked at her, and when realisation enlightened him a long moment later, as was its wont, he had the decency to look mortified, if only if for the briefest of seconds. Then he laughed, a big, genuine guffaw that she didn't properly understand, but it was a nice sound. When was the last time she'd heard him laugh like that?

She suddenly felt very tired.

Zidane didn't offer any reassurances, just turned on his heel and continued walking as his laughter petered into wry chuckles. Suddenly, he rubbed his temple with two fingers, a brief slip up on his part, but Garnet caught it nonetheless and mentally penned herself a reminder to pay him a visit later.

The Fat Chocobo Inn was more of a tavern than an inn, packed with patrons bellowing over one another like there was a competition to make the most noise. A cloud of pipesmoke mingled with the meaty odour of cooked food, stale beer and staler bodies and the cobbles outside were slippery with spilled ale and other fluids Garnet didn't deign to question.

Zidane melded into the uproar and headed straight to the bar to arrange accommodation. Garnet weaved through the crowd uneasily, drawing looks from heavy set men wreathed in halos of pipesmoke, and glares from the girls that perched undaintily on their knees, faces powdered white and corsets cut devastatingly low.

"He has taken us to one of those places," Garnet accused over her shoulder to Steiner, who was drawing double the looks she was with his cumbersome armour and thunderous expression.

The knight's eyes were torn from those of a demi-tiger who was appraising Steiner with a look that spoke promise of a brawl, and back to Garnet. He belatedly registered what she'd said, glanced around and said, "It isn't one of those places, your majes – ah, m-m'am."

"Then why are there girls here?" she said.

Steiner's cheeks began to flush again. He noisily cleared his throat and his eyes climbed skyward, as if beseeching the gods for an answer. "It's, ah… they just… They're everywhere, your maj – m'am." He saw the opportunity then, and pounced. "I suggest seeking better accommodation elsewhere if the cliental bother you, m'am. I don't understand why you insisted – "

"Rooms are paid for!" Zidane emerged from the mob looking pleased with himself. He stopped, staring from Garnet to Steiner. "What'd I walk into?"

"The queen wishes –"

"No! No, Steiner it's… it's fine." This had been her idea, and she had specifically requested to be taken to a place of the people. These weren't Alexandrians and this certainly wasn't Alexandria, but if she wanted to rule as a fair and empathetic queen then she would learn the ways of commonfolk, and certainly not be frightened off by a few belligerent looking men and amorous ladies.

"Show us to the rooms, please," she said to Zidane.

He eyed her skeptically for a moment, then shrugged and made for a flight stairs wedged at the back of the tavern.

"Your – m'am, I must insist this is no place for a lady such as yourself," Steiner hissed above the ruckus. "Please, let us –"

"I said it's fine," Garnet snapped as she deftly avoided eye contact with a rotund individual who was pointedly eyeing her legs. "I have you and Zidane here to protect me if things go south in a hurry."

Steiner sighed noisily, but ceased his protests and trumped up the stairs after her .

Zidane was waiting for them in the corridor. Garnet frowned. He had schooled his body into a pose of casual nonchalance, but her mage's eyes were too keen and she'd travelled with him long enough to see through his theatrics. He leaned his shoulder too heavily against the wall while one hand picked distractedly at a loose thread on his pants. His eyes seemed cloudy and there was a thin sheen of sweat across his brow.

He noticed her noticing and grinned uncertainly at her. She waited expectantly but he said nothing of it. Instead, he gestured to the doors that faced one another from opposite sides of the corridor.

"Your rooms," he said.

She glanced at the doors. "Are you sharing with Steiner?"

"No, only one bed."

An image of Zidane and Steiner laying back to stomach under the covers painted an amusing picture in her mind and she snorted. "Okay. Where are you staying, then?"

He cocked a thumb to the ceiling. "Hayloft."

"Oh… uh… okay. Are you… okay with that?"

He smiled easily. "I've lived in 'em."

She stared at him. "Are you okay?"

He looked sickly and pale in the thin light of a single lantern and she didn't like that nervous twitching of his tail. Not one bit.

"Yeaaah, just tired." He tried to appease her with a grin and a forced yawn, but she had been expecting some sort of quip about sharing a room with her so wasn't much pacified.

Steiner soon tired of being an audience to their odd interaction. "You should rest, your majesty."

Garnet sighed and nodded. She took the key to her room from Zidane, unlocked the door, then just before she slipped inside she fixed him with a look over her shoulder that replaced words unspoken.

I'm here if you need me.


Garnet watched the moon creep across the sky. It fixed her with a baleful eye and for a moment she felt like she was the only person in the entire world it was looking at. It was both intimidating and comforting, teasing her thoughts away from recent events and an uncertain future. She remembered the times she would creep into Mother and Father's bed when she couldn't sleep and watch the moon just so until she drifted off, cradled in the familiarity of her parents' scent.

Now I don't have a family, she thought despondently. I've only myself for comfort on nights such as these.

She thought of Zidane telling her a story in the Black Mage Village, that night at the inn, and she felt a wave of inexplicable aching come over her.

The Fat Chocobo's cliental had thinned enough so the noise was but a murmur through the floorboards. It was a comfortable sound, like the chirp of crickets when they camped on Laius Plains, or the hoot of the owls in forest near the mage's village. Faintly, she could hear Steiner snoring from the room opposite and somewhere outside, people were drunkenly singing in the streets.

The castle was so quiet, she thought wryly. No wonder I can't sleep.

The bell in the Clock Tower began to toll midnight. It almost obscured the quiet knocking at her door.

Garnet hesitated, thoughts flitting to the leering men at the bar. She waited, still as a mouse hiding from a cat, heart thundering in her chest.

The knock came again, this time accompanied by a whispered, "Dagger? Are you awake?"

Garnet sighed with relief. She swung her legs over the side of bed and onto the floorboards that creaked a response. She adjusted her long nightdress and threw a small blanket around her shoulders to ward off the chill before padding over to the door and opening it a crack.

Zidane all but fell into her room. She caught him awkwardly, shawl fluttering off her shoulders as his face smashed into her collarbone. She staggered, an alarmed yelp dancing off her tongue. He steadied himself before she was crushed to the floor beneath his weight, one of his arms leaning heavily around her shoulders and the other propped against the door frame.

"Suh-sorry I d-" he began but she cut him off.

"Just get in, Zidane, just get in."

With some help from her he staggered into the room and sat heavily on the bed. He was panting slightly and the moon turned the sweat on his brow into silver lacquer. His skin was stark white, amplifying the dark circles under his eyes.

She loomed over him, hands on her hips. "Why do you this? Hmm? Why do you do this? Why must you leave every ailment until it's weaved thick threads of poison through your veins? Your stubbornness will get you killed, Zidane Tribal."

"Don't wanna bother anyone," he mumbled to the floorboards.

"It's more of a bother when you become too sick to stand. If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times, at the first signs of injury or illness come straight to me. And if you're uncomfortable with that then Freya will help – even Eiko! But you can't keep getting yourself into such a state. Especially not now, when we need you most."

He threw her a guilty look. "That's why I… I don't want to say anything."

Garnet wilted. She dropped her hands to her sides. "We all care about you, Zidane. Will you please… please just… trust us, okay? You can't carry the weight of the world on your shoulders alone."

He snorted, glanced away, then swayed slightly on the bed covers. He blanched slightly when she placed her palm on his forehead.

"Tch, what a fever," she muttered. "Hang on."

Garnet skirted the bed to a stocky table at its head, then lit a candle with a taper. Shadows scattered as the amber light chased away the silvery hues of the moonlight. Garnet returned to Zidane and handed him the candlestick. His pupils were dilated and unfocussed and the amber light only served to darken the smudges under his eyes.

"How?" she asked.

"Bitten by a baby gigan toad in the swamp outside Lindblum," he admittedly sheepishly. "Didn't think nothin' of it until I started to feel a bit woozy a few hours ago."

She threw her hands in the air. "A few…? Gods above, Zidane, you know their teeth are full of toxins, you should have said something."

"I know, I know!" he admitted impatiently. "But we only had one Antidote left and I was worried someone else might need it so –"

"So you let yourself get poisoned." She scrubbed a hand through her hair. "Well, the Pancea won't work now because you've left it too long. That type of poison would've sunk its claws into your blood. We'll have to treat the site of the infection first, then use alternatives to cleanse your body."

Zidane was cringing. "Do you have to? Like, now? Can't it wait?"

"It's waited long enough." She frowned at him. "Why are you being a baby? You've dealt with wounds far worse, I can testify to that."

He shrugged, then wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his wrist and swayed weakly. Again, Garnet felt herself wilting and resisted the peculiar urge to brush his sweat slicked hair out of his eyes.

"I have my healing things with me," she said softly. "You're in dire need of a good night's sleep, so let's get this over with quickly, okay?"

He pouted, eyes sketching the floorboards, uncharacteristically submissive.

"Show me," she said.

He remained seated, gaze averted, his tail irritably flicking over the bed sheets.

"Zidane," she warned.

"I'm showin' ya!" he bleated.

She frowned, then her eyes were drawn to the twitching end of his tail. Realisation struck abruptly. "Oh! Oh. It's… on your tail?"

He grunted.

Garnet twisted a strand of her short hair, unexpectedly embarrassed. She allowed herself that, then shook herself mentally. Why is it even embarrassing? It's just a limb. A strange one, I'll grant that, but a limb nonetheless. Come now, you've stitched wounds on his lower abdomen, his back, his thigh – gods now that was an embarrassing one . He'd been well enough then to make several inappropriate comments while she'd been sweating over the wound, but then again Freya had been at hand to deliver a swift cuff around the ears if the comments got too lecherous.

Additionally, he'd made it clear to Eiko one night when she'd become too bold with her questioning that his tail was strictly a 'no touchey zone', though he hadn't specified a reason. And judging by his reaction now it hadn't been a ruse just to get Eiko to go away.

Garnet thought of her white mage mentor, Beatrix. What would she do? She would get on with it, of course. Professional, quick and reliable.

"Where?" she asked, and congratulated herself on her steady tone.

The end of Zidane's tail lifted from the bed sheets in response, like a snake provoked into movement. From this new angle, it revealed a large swelling on tip of the appendage. She tsked and dropped to her knees in front of Zidane, which prompted him to squeal in – what she assumed was –embarrassment, though she could not think why.

Her hand hesitated when she reached for his tail and she noted with horror that she was actually trembling a little.

You. Are. Ridiculous.

She grasped the furry limb just below the wound and pulled it very slightly so the light of candle highlighted its tip. Zidane winced and the tail almost twitched out of her grasp. She threw him an exasperated look, but he wasn't looking at her. He looked flushed and unwell.

With her free hand she carefully ran her nails through the wiry hair, then rubbed her fingers together. Dirt and errant burrs and seeds flaked off her skin and onto the floorboards.

"It would help a lot if you kept it clean," she lectured.

Zidane didn't say anything. That was a worry in itself. A quiet Zidane was a very bad sign indeed. She adjusted her position on the floor as her knees protested against the hard wood. Zidane cast her a quick glance, swallowed noisily, then shifted himself so she wasn't so close to being between his legs. Not that she noticed, focused as she was on his tail.

Gently, she pried apart the blonde fur with her free hand, and winced. The skin underneath was an angry red; inflamed, stinking of infection and wetting the fur with thick ooze. She brushed her thumb along the hair for some time before giving up and fishing through her bag for her little nail scissors.

"What're ya doin'?" Zidane slurred.

"Giving you a haircut," she replied. He whined and she bobbed a shoulder apologetically. "A bald patch is more than you deserve for being so thoughtlessly stubborn."

"Noooo," he protested lamely.

She leveled the flat of the blades against his skin, taking care not to press too hard against the infection, then began to snip away the hair. At length, the wound was revealed; a nasty series of punctures the ringed the tip of his tail.

"Proper latched on, little fucker," Zidane said.

"Well, you can't have stitches now. The wounds have to stay open to allow for the pus –" She stopped abruptly, distracted. She probed one of the punctures experimentally, extracting a hiss of discomfort from Zidane. Her finger came away wet, but when she held the ooze up to the light it wasn't at all like pus, but an odd bluish colour instead, like a sapphire viewed beneath layers of dark cloth. She sniffed it and recoiled in surprise.

"No wonder the infection is bad, you dolt! There's still poison left on the surface of the wound! Why don't you just bloody wash?"

He threw her a disgruntled look. "It hurts."

She peered closer at the tip of his tail, warm breath stirring the fur along its base. "I'll wipe it off but it's undoubtedly lingering beneath the surface. Hold on."

She crossed the room to the bowl of water supplied by the innkeepers for washing her face with, and also retrieved the cloth used for drying. She returned to her kneeling position in front of Zidane, rummaged through her bag again and retrieved a bottle of Elixir.

Zidane went wide eyed. "No, no. Absolutely not."


"They're expensive and hard to come by. We're going to need it for later. Honestly, I'm fine, don't waste it on me."

"You're not fine, and it won't be wasted. This is going to hurt a bit so –"

"Not all of it," he insisted. "I won't drink all of it."

They stared at each other for a moment, neither willing to back down. Garnet pointedly popped the cork from the bottle.

"Half," she said.

"One quarter," he replied.

"A third," she countered.

He hesitated. "A… sixth?"

She rolled her eyes. "A quarter, then. Now drink it before I hold your nose and pour the whole thing down your throat."

He acquiesced reluctantly then handed it back to her. She replaced the cork and watched his eyes glaze over. Elixirs were potent healers and worked as brilliant pain relief, but they also had a detrimental side effect of dulling the senses.

After allowing him a few moments for the pain relief to kick in, she dunked the cloth in the water, wrung it out, then began to dab at the oozing punctures on the tip of his tail. He mewled at first, then apparently remembered his ego, and sat quietly, sucking his bottom lip and staring intently at her hand around his limb.

After a while of cleaning she hummed with concern, turning the tip this way and that to glean a better view of the wound. "Strange," she muttered.

"What?" He sounded breathless.

"Ifrit's Fire," she cursed softly. "The poison under the skin was congealed but the water and warmth has got it moving… You're in for another dose of poison if I don't get it out."

"How –"

"It's just like a snake bite, darn, I'll have to be quick–"

And without warning she bent her head low and took the end of his tail into her mouth.


Zidane bucked and yelped simultaneously, then became snared in a net of horror and stupefaction as she began to fervently suck on the tip of his tail. Any thoughts of objecting was promptly evacuated from his immediate vicinity as he felt her tongue, firm and wet against his newly hairless skin, press hard enough that his tip rubbed against the roof of her mouth. Her cheeks tightened over the tender flesh as she sucked vigorously, the backs of her teeth keeping it firmly in place along with her fingers, wrapped further down its length.

He was almost lifting clean off the bed, shunted into silence by the intensity. Tendrils of pain battled with the pleasure, turning his body hot and cold, rigid then slack. The simple sight of her between his legs with her mouth full of him was enough to send the blood rushing from his head to somewhere else.

"Stuh-stop," he bleated. In his desperation he clutched her hair and slid her off him, and that sight was almost enough to send him into a coma. A trail of spit and poison connected her bottom lip to the throbbing end of his tail, eliciting from him a string of curse words that would have made Baku proud.

Garnet daintily spat blue gunk into the cloth and threw him a baffled look. "What?"

"Don't you 'what' me!" Zidane roared. "What the heck was that? What the heck are you doing?"

She appraised his flushed face and uncharacteristic agitation wearing a confused expression. "I'm sucking the poison out of your wound, of course."

"Please, please don't use the word 'sucking'," Zidane moaned.

"But that's what you do," Garnet explained matter-of-factly. "It's usually an instant fix for poisonous snake bites. You suck the –"


" – poison out of the bite wound before it enters the blood."

"But it's already in my blood!" Zidane shouted. The outburst made him dizzy. He rocked back onto the bed sheets, catching himself with the heel of his hand before he toppled completely. Garnet plucked the candle from his other one before it set the bed on fire.

"Take it easy," Garnet fretted. "Yes, it is already in your blood but there was yet more poison congealed just inside the wound's entrance. I told you. I had to get it out quickly before you got a second dose of poison."

"But…you – you…just – can't…" he stammered uselessly.

Her dark eyes cupped the flame of the candle like a lone star in the night sky . "Does it hurt that badly? Do you need more Elixir?"

I need more than just an Elixir, his brain jibed fiendishly.

He groaned and ran a hand over his face. It came back slick with sweat.

"No, no. Just… just don't do that, okay?"

Garnet flicked a worried look at his tail, which she still clutched tenderly between her fingers. "Zidane, I have to get the rest of the poison out, it's already moving, I –"

"No." I can't believe I'm turning this down.

She looked confused again. "What's the problem? You've been through worse. If you're going to be a baby about it then you'll have to take more of the potion."

He stared at her, disbelief etching lines into his forehead. "You really don't realise what you're doing, do you?" She's totally not that naïve… is she?

She blinked at him, sable eyes wide and guileless.

Apparently, yes.

He rubbed his eyes. His sight was becoming blurry. What choice did he have? He stuck out his free hand to take the candle from her. "Just… just hurry."

She shook her head in bewilderment, then leveled her face with his tail again.

This is so stupid, so stupid, I'm a freakin' idiot. The luckiest freakin' idiot – no, that is not cool. I'm not taking advantage of her, she offered. Gods, get a hold of yourself, Tribal, it's just my tail, not my –

Delicately this time, she closed her mouth around his furry appendage and began to suck.

"Ugh…a-ah! Uh…"

The moans that escaped him could barely be passed as pain fueled. His hand flitted around her head like a moth playing with fire, and it took all his restraint not to tangle his fingers in her hair and push her deeper along his length. He didn't know if he was getting off on the sheer sight of her, the actual tingling of pleasure in his sensitive tail, or if he was just being a massive perv and any action was good action in his books.

One of the wounds was larger than the others so she tilted her head to gain better access to it, causing the tip of his tail to bulge one side of her cheek. He grabbed a fistful of bed sheets as the pain and pleasure clashed again; the discomfort of having the infected flesh teased between her teeth disagreed with the delicious sensation of her tongue gyrating against his tail's sensitive underside.

Her hair was a tousled halo around her pale face and from this angle he was gifted the perfect view down her dress. A gentleman might have averted his gaze, but Zidane was no gentleman and if he ever was going to be, he didn't intend to start now. But even though boobs were great, her face was much more enamouring. Her throat pulsed every time she took a long suck and her eyes occasionally twitched as the bitter taste of the poison hit her tongue. Her swollen lips melded perfectly around his tip, popping wetly as she turned her head again to find another wound. She eased further along his tail, causing his breath to hitch and hiccup in his throat.

She was probably sucking for only a dozen heartbeats but it felt like an eternity, wherein Zidane demonstrated self-control he hadn't thought was humanly possible, but she finally came up for air and spat the last of the poison into the cloth. He groaned once more when she wiped her mouth on the back of her hand, and again when the candlelight brought into focus the saliva slick end of his tail. The image would serve to stoke his dirty fantasies for years to come, he reckoned.

I'm going to die, I'm literally going to die, Odin is going to cut of my balls and I'm going to burn in hell for all eternity –

"Does it hurt badly?" she asked upon seeing his twisted expression.

His voice cracked as he squawked a pathetic, "Uh-huh."

She tsked in that way she did when she's worried but was trying to cover it with sharp mothering. He hated that; he hated making her worry. That expression alone was enough to ease the swelling in his pants. That is, until she rested her hand on his forehead again, kneeling between his legs with the other hand resting softly on his knee for balance.

Gods above, I swear I'll become straight as a fucking priest if you make it so she doesn't notice that I'm practically busting out of my pants.

"Your fever seems worse," she said.


"Maybe I didn't get it all out…"

"N-no, you did, I'm sure you did, like, one hundred percent sure of it, actually."

She threw him that mystified look again, then shrugged and returned to scrutinising his tail. "You're probably right." She sighed with evident relief. "Any more of that poison and we'd have a real problem on our hands. I wish you weren't so darn…" She fumbled for the word, then gave up. Useless lecturing him on recklessness, she'd learnt that much by now.

"We'll go straight to the castle in the morning. Some clean water and some of Hilda's herbs will cleanse the wound properly." She stared him straight in the eye, like she was trying to look into his soul. He leaned back a little, intimidated despite how damn beautiful she looked in the candlelight – maybe even because of it.

"That Elixir isn't doing much, is it?" she said. "I really want you to drink a little more."

He shook his head numbly. "Just need some rest." And some alone time. A lot of alone time.

"Well, we can agree on that, at least. Just let me try to cleanse your blood. And I promise this doesn't involve any sucking."

Dying, I'm dying, goodbye world, the newfound master of self-restraint is calling it a day.

Garnet stood up and popped her shoulders with a groan before plopping down on the bed next to him. She flexed her fingers and then splayed them a few inches from his chest. He smelt oranges before he sensed the surge of magic she summoned to her fingertips. Green-blue light began to emanate from her hands and spread to encompass his chest. It seeped through his skin, trickled into his limbs and up into his head, flitting through every fleshy pocket of his body until he felt like he was borne on dragon wings.

He'd been through this too many times to boast, so they had both become accustomed to being in close proximity when dealing with healing business. Yet there were usually others around, and now it seemed like the whole world was holding its breath, watching and waiting to see what would happen.

"Don't do that," Garnet chided.

He blinked. "What?"

"Your tail. Your flicking it like crazy. It won't help the infection."

He glanced at his furry limb as though surprised it was there, then scratched the back of his head. "Kehehe, sorry. It has a mind of its own."

She glanced up from her hands. "They say eyes are windows into the soul. I think your tail is a window into yours."

He smiled a little, then harrumphed playfully. "Maybe."

"So," she persisted, "what were you thinking about?"

Zidane leaned forward and kissed her.

Her spell exploded in a harmless display of light and glitter. The air pulsed once, as if startled by the burst, which expelled ripples of magic across the room. The bed sheets fluttered and the window shutters clacked quietly, and then the light died and everything went still.

Garnet pulled back from Zidane and threw her fingers to her lips. "Z-Zidane!"

He took a sharp breath in. "Ha! Uh, sorry. It's, um, the poison. Or the Elixir. Or I'm just crazy and stupid, or crazy stupid. Sorry. And you, ah, had poison. On your lips. So I was sucking it off. Before it… you know… got into your… blood?" Smoooooth.

Slowly, Garnet lowered her hands from her lips. She was pouting, but there was something flinty behind her eyes. At length, she said, "You're an idiot."

He attempted a crooked smile. "I know."

Her tongue flicked out to wet her lips and it took everything in the Master of Restraint's powers not to kiss her again.

She went to speak, but the Clock Tower began to chime and she looked out the window, eyes tracing the contours of the moon. When she turned back to look at him, she seemed composed and he felt even stupider.

"Anyway," she said, "you need rest, and so do I. Be up early tomorrow so we can get Hilda to double check your wound."

"Ah, s-sure." Zidane lingered long enough on her bed to scratch his head, then stood up. He stretched as though the movement could dispel the awkwardness he felt, but it only worked to make his head spin. "Think the Elixir is kickin' in anyways. Um, thanks, Dagger. I feel a lot better."

She offered him a small smile and waved a hand. "Just… please, please come see me sooner next time."

The image flashed in front of his eyes again, doubtlessly forever burned into his retinas, of her mouth sliding over the tip of his tail and the thread of saliva clinging to her bottom lip as she pulled away. He laughed loudly to obscure the groan riding up his throat. "Hehehaha! Yeah, will do! Well, g'night!"

He made it half way to the hayloft before the exhaustion gripped him proper, and there he passed out for the night. Steiner found him a few hours later, grunted disapprovingly, then stepped over his body to check on his queen.

"You did what to his tail?"

Garnet stared at the apple juice Freya had just sprayed all over the table in Cid's conference hall.

"I sucked –"

Freya's paw came up with alarming swiftness and clamped over Garnet's mouth. Her ears twitched like leaves pushed in a wind, attentive to the sounds of childrens' feet or the clanging of armour.

"Don't. Just… don't."

Garnet pushed her hand away. "What's the matter? I was only asking because his reaction was strange and you have a tail so I thought, I don't know, maybe it was a tail… thing?"

Freya's celandine eyes arrested her for intense evaluation. Seemingly she did not find whatever answers she was looking for in Garnet's hopelessly candid expression, and she sank into her seat with a groan, pulling her red helm low over her eyes. "I am going castrate him."


Freya rubbed her temple with a tapered nail. "For the sake of upholding the Alexandrian throne's reputation – and my sanity - don't talk about this to anyone. Anywhere. Ever. You take this to your grave, understand?"

Garnet stared at her opened mouthed, then bobbed her shoulder prettily. "My lips are sealed."