A/N: So I like just beat the game. And I'm like totally in love with Amarant. You all seem to like him somewhat too, with all the Amarant/Freya I've been seeing. (Bravo, I was glad I wasn't the only one to see it!) But there's a dreadful lack of Amarantslash – especially since him and Zidane were so totally digging each other.
Anyways, this has nothing to do with Zidane/Amarant. I just wanted to write this.
Updates will be sporadic. You might get a few more chapters of this before I go silent for months – just look at my SSX or Invader Zim fics! Oh well. Review and tell me what you think about my idea.
Amarant Coral is drunk out of his mind.
Not an uncommon occurrence, really, but it's still a worthwhile thing to note. He's been staying at a crappy little village in the crappy Forgotten Continent, in the middle of a crappy desert. The sun is too hot and the nights are too cold, so he's having trouble adjusting. He knows he's going to leave soon, because the weather just doesn't favor him.
So, Amarant is drunk in a crappy little bar at the very edge of night, in the middle of his fifteenth ale, when a feeble little guy comes up to him and tells him, "That's my seat."
"I don't see your name on it," the bounty hunter grumbles, not wanting a fight but feeling it coming.
"Do you want a fight?" the man asks, voice supposed to be low and dangerous but just sounding pathetic.
"Not really. Go away, kid."
"I'm going to get you for that one!" the kid growls, and suddenly there's a hand over his drink.
"I think you best step outside," the barkeep mutters to Amarant, because the kid is obviously popular in the village and Amarant isn't.
"...Whatever." So he downs the drink quickly, gets up, and leaves without paying. The barkeep is shouting after him, so he turns and throws a fist at the first person available.
That first person is the barkeep, who flies back into the bar, door slamming shut. There must be pandemonium inside, but Amarant is already stalking away, towards the inn.
His vision is considerably blurred and doubled, and so he's not quite sure who he's seeing stumble towards him, but if he didn't know better... No, he knows better. He steadies his pace, puts his hands in his pockets, and gains back his cool, calm exterior, sure that he must be hallucinating.
The figure stumbles into him, barely coming up to his shoulders, makes a noise, and practically rolls to the side in surprise. Amarant, too, is surprised – the hallucination isn't a hallucination at all. He wants to take a fighting stance but doesn't have the mind to do it.
"I know you," he growls instead, turning and crossing his arms. The male is tiny – much smaller than he was the last time he saw him – and looks pale even by his standards. His hair is tangled and ratty, dirt on his fine silk clothes and chest heaving.
"..." The male doesn't respond. Maybe Amarant is hallucinating.
"Y...I know you...?" The tiny little guy looks dazed, like an chocobo who just ran off the side of a cliff without realizing it. "I... I know you."
"Yeah, I'm the guy who kicked your ass." Smartass comments against insane madmen who can blow up the world. That's a smart move, there, Coral.
"He isn't here," the bounty hunter mutters, annoyed. It's always about Zidane. Kuja is staring at him, confused.
"But... isn't..." He shakes his head, the movement causing his whole body to shudder. "I'm thirsty."
"I'll bet you are," Amarant mutters, "You planning on blowing up the world again?"
"What? Oh... no, no..." Kuja laughs, almost hesitantly, a definitely different laugh than he had before. "I'm far... much too... can't concentrate..."
He collapses and it's only the bounty hunter's instinct that catches him before he hits the ground.
It's not in Amarant's nature to forgive. He isn't Zidane – he doesn't just forget about previous conflicts and pretend they never happened. And Kuja is obviously weak – he should be strong enough to blow Gaia into tiny shards, but he looks like a little porcelain doll that Eiko threw around too much. He could probably crush the Genome's neck if he wanted to. But he's in no mind to think about killing. And besides, it's against his nature to kill something that can't fight back.
And didn't he already kill Kuja, anyways? He distinctly remembered throwing a Rune Blade at him. That hadn't looked good – even the red fur hadn't been able to hide the blood.
"Goddamn, Zidane. You've fucking softened me up." Amarant easily scoops the porcelain death angel into his arms and stalks to the inn – fifteen ales and he can still tell the inn from the brothel.
The innkeeper looks at him but doesn't say a word – he probably thinks Kuja's one of the whores, and that almost makes Amarant laugh.
He settles Kuja down on the bed, frowning in annoyance. He has some potions, but he is saving those for his next venture out into the wild. Grumbling, he grabs one from the dresser and leans over Kuja, tilting his head up and practically forcing the potion down his throat.
The Genome gags, and then wearily opens his eyes. They look dull and bleary. "Wh...What happened...?"
"Hmph. You collapsed." Amarant snorts, "I thought you were stronger than that."
"I...I am. I'm... not...?"
"Make up your damned mind. Either you're still strong or you're not. Careful, though," he sneers, "The wrong answer might lead me to breaking your neck now."
"...I am powerful – don't... you're talking to me wrong."
"I'm talking to you just fine, considering you wanted to blow up my planet, scumbag."
"...no, no, not... not that. Mm, everything's warped. You talk wrong. It's all upside-down backwards and flip-flopped."
"You're the one who's talking wrong. You're insane."
Amarant's growing a little worried. He's already moved as far as the wall will allow him, but the Genome is talking strangely and saying things that don't make sense. Not to mention the fact that there's still just a little bit of coherency left... as if he understands himself but doesn't understand at the same time.
"Something's wrong – is he alright? Must be... couldn't live without him..."
"You sound like you're hot for your brother."
"I could make you suffer."
The first thing Kuja's said that sounds like himself. It startles Amarant. Kuja struggles off of the bed, stands shakily, and says it again. "I could make you suffer."
Amarant doesn't back down. "Try me."
Kuja stumbled forward, and drops to his knees, but snarls, glaring at Amarant angrily. "I can make you suffer!" he shouts.
"K...Kill me before I make you regret your life!"
Now Amarant has to blink, frowning thoughtfully. "That's the game, huh?" he mutters to himself.
"K-Kill me now or I'll m-make you suffer!"
"How should I kill you?" he asks, pacing forward and grabbing Kuja by the hair. The Genome yelps but keeps glaring. "Short and fast, to show my appreciation, or long and slow to show you how much I care?"
Amarant snorts, "Careful, you might start sounding like the Black Mages you hate."
"I can't... Kill me now – I don't... don't care how!" Kuja throws himself against Amarant, shoving him forcefully. He's weak, alright, but there's still the remnants of power, and magic crackles dully from his fingertips. "Kill me now, goddamn you! I'm supposed to die!"
"I think all you're going to do is be a little bitch and whine about how I won't kill you. Sit your ass down before you hurt yourself." Amarant shoves the silver-haired male onto the bed, reassured when the other flops onto it helplessly. "Damned monkeys..."
He goes to the door and peers out into the hallway, catching sight of a moogle heading down the steps, dressed in a ridiculous spotted cape.
"Hey, you." The animal – fairy, whatever – stops and turns, looking at Amarant in curiosity.
"Where you heading?" The moogle looks at the bounty hunter curiously.
"Perfect. C'mere for a minute. I want you to give someone a letter."
He lets the moogle in, and Kuja stares at it in confusion. Amarant writes a clumsy note down and folds it up, handing it to the moogle. "Can you give that to Zidane?"
"Zidane!" Kuja exclaims, sitting up as the moogle says the same.
"I know him!" the animal exclaims, "Sure, I'll make sure he gets it." The moogle grabs the letter and lets himself out as Kuja stars at Amarant incredulously.
"What are you doing!"
"I'm sending a letter to Zidane, telling him you're alive..." He frowns, rubs his chin and says as an afterthought, "And that I'm gonna take you back to him eventually. He's probably going to want to see you."
"To kill me?"
Dear god, the kid sounds hopeful. "I doubt it." And he looks unhappy at the thought. That's probably not good. "Why do you want to die so badly?"
"Why don't you want me to die?"
A perfectly logical question. Amarant snorts, "I want you to die, I just don't kill things that are so much weaker than I am."
"I am not weak!" Kuja growls, starting to get up again, but suddenly thinking better of it and laying back down. "I'm... I'm not weak...?"
"Yes you are. Now shut up. You're giving me a headache."
There is a few moments of silence. Then...
"I'll bet," the bounty hunter growls, "What do you want me to do, get you something?" No answer. It's not a yes, or a no, but Amarant feels a little guilty – and a little more angry with a certain monkey-tailed thief. "What do you want?"
Kuja raises his head and looks at the bounty hunter in confusion, before sighing. "Wine," he murmurs. Amarant groans.
"Do I look like someone who has that shit on me?"
"No," Kuja responds, just as quiet as before, "I don't mind." Moments later, "May... May I use your shower?"
"Whatever. Just don't collapse again – I'm not coming in to get you."
Kuja gets up, stumbles his way to the bathroom, and leans heavily against the door. "I...I'm...sorry." His voice is small and very quiet, and Amarant almost doesn't catch it. When he turns to look at the Genome, he is already in the bathroom, door closed behind him. For some reason, the apology doesn't sit well with him, and he begins to pace.
He realizes after the shower starts that pacing is useless, and settles into bed, closing his eyes and putting his hands behind his head. He hasn't slept in a day or two, but he doesn't think he can now.
A strangled scream jerks him out of his blank dozing, and he sits up, frowning in annoyance. He's not going in there – no fucking way.
The air around him crackles with a sudden power, and he jumps from the bed, making it to the door in only two or three steps, he isn't sure. He grabs the knob and turns it, suddenly thrown back as a wave of power hits him. He stands, and makes the moves back to the door, staring in surprise.
Kuja is floating in the middle of the room, eyes wide and looking above blindly. The roof is being ripped from the walls and energy crackles around him.
"What the fuck are you doing!" Amarant shouts, and Kuja tries to get his eyes to focus on the bounty hunter.
"Stop me!" he screams, "I can't see! Stop me! I don't want to die!"
Amarant does the one thing he does best – he punches Kuja in the jaw, knocking his head to the side.
Kuja cries out, and Amarant hisses when the energy burns him. "Don't let me die," the Genome whispers, starting to glow. "I can't stop..."
"Goddamn it," Amarant draws back, and grabs a sword from the corner – a silly little thing he bought in case he needed it – and throws it, watching it slice through Kuja's bare chest and leave a long, angry gash.
Kuja suddenly gasps, and his hair flickers to silver, and then back to red, before settling on silver. He slumps to the ground, fur disappearing as quickly as it appeared. There is a flash of light, and he's out of trance, shaking in the corner of the shower that pours steam into the sky.
"What the hell are you thinking!" Amarant shouts, stalking to Kuja and grabbing him by the throat. He doesn't respond, and so the huge man shakes the tiny one, furious.
"C-Can't control... I can't control it," he whispers suddenly, gazing blindly at Amarant. His eyes are still red, and he looks tense. "I'm trying to hold it back, but it's... hard... If I go back to it I'll die... everyone will die..."
"We need to get out of here," Amarant growls, and puts Kuja down, looking for something to let Kuja wear. He settles on a huge dark cloak, throwing it to the Genome, who puts it on with shaky hands, eyes wide and watching Amarant gather everything he can. "Come on," he mutters, and Kuja follows him, stumbling.
They exit the inn with only a minor confused conversation with the innkeeper, and Amarant grabs Kuja, pulling him up into his arms and taking off in a mad dash.
"P-Please, I don't want to anymore.. Tell it to stop!"
"I'm not telling your crazy powers to do anything," the bounty hunter hisses, and they're far enough away from civilization. "You don't have to worry right now. Go ahead."
Kuja shakes his head, grabbing Amarant's arm. "No...!"
"You're going to have to, one way or another – it's just going to explode later, when we're in Alexandria, maybe?"
Kuja screams and Amarant is knocked back on his ass, thrown a few hundred feet from the man, who's suddenly blazing red and staring at him malevolently.
"Why are you making me do this!" he shouts, and Amarant is forced to stay down in case he gets hit by the power. Maybe they aren't far enough away.
"You need to calm yourself down, you crazy bastard. Me punching you just makes you stronger."
"I c-can't control it!"
"Yes you sure as hell can. You made yourself trance, now undo it!"
"I... I'm trying...!"
Suddenly, he stops all movement. Even the air is frozen, and he stares at Amarant with dull red eyes.
"Everyone is going to die. I cannot stop." He's glowing again, raising too high in the air for Amarant to reach him...
"Kuja!" the bounty hunter shouts, "Do you want to die!"
"...No...?" His voice echoes in the air and his own insecurity shows.
"Then calm yourself down!"
Kuja looks down at him, eyes narrowed.
"Do not try to stop me, you pathetic... no – no no no!" Kuja grabs his head and closes his eyes, "Calm down – calm down..."
"You don't have to worry," Amarant says slowly, "You can take your time out here. Just don't hurt yourself."
"You don't care."
"I care about myself, and if you go off, I'm fried."
Kuja moans, chest heaving. "I'm trying – it's so hard. I'm so strong – you are nothing but why do I want to kill you? It would only end my life and I don't want to die."
"Come down here, relax. We'll go to Alexandria and you can see Zidane, and he can help you." And then Amarant won't have to worry about his head being blown up.
"Zidane can't help me." His hair flickers briefly, and he slowly lets himself down to the ground, hair finally settling on silver. He looks at Amarant, out of trance, wrapped up in the much too large cloak, and breathes heavily.
"Do you have it under control?" the bounty hunter asks, crossing his arms. What he wouldn't give for something to lean on.
"I blew up a part of the Iifa Tree, just to get out." The confession is hallow and calm. "I woke up and Zidane was gone. And I couldn't move, but then it came back... And I blew up the tree."
"How long ago?" Amarant asks, slowly coming closer, in case he goes off again.
"...A week and a half, two weeks, maybe?"
"And you've been wandering around the desert since then?" Kuja nods and Amarant growls, before looking around at the emptiness. There's a forest due west, he knows, but he doesn't think they can get there right now. He comes up to Kuja and sits down, legs crossed, and stares through his hair at the tiny little guy. "Should've said something sooner," he grumbles, and pulls out his satchel, pulling out a battered canteen and handing it to the Genome. "It's just water, don't get your hopes up."
"I don't have any hopes," Kuja murmurs, taking the canteen and almost drowning himself. He leaves some for Amarant, however, in a vaguely kind gesture. "I... Are you sure you won't kill me?"
"Goddamn, you runty little bastard," Amarant growls, "You just got through telling me you didn't want to die. You're really indecisive."
"I don't know what I want."
"That's pretty damned obvious." Amarant sighs and looks up at the sky. "Get some rest. We'll head to Conde Petie tomorrow, and take an airship to Alexandria."
"I can't go to Alexandria like this!" Kuja suddenly exclaims, blinking, "I'm not even really wearing clothes, and my hair is ruined..."
"Oh, for god's sake, are you a damned woman or something?" Amarant growls, frowning at the Genome, who stares at him incredulously. "Just get some sleep. We'll worry about your crap in the morning."
And Amarant lays down and falls asleep.
He wakes up feeling warmth next to him. It takes a few minutes for Amarant to remember what's happened, since those fifteen drinks have taken a slight toll on his poor head. He rubs bleary eyes with a massive hand and blinks, looking at Kuja in confusion. The tiny guy is curled in the huge cloak, as close to the bounty hunter as he can be without actually touching him. He thinks briefly of shoving him away, because the guy is too close for comfort, but then thinks a little longer on it. The Genome looks like a bad replica of his former self – his face is drawn and uncomfortable, and his hair is distinctly messy. And it's been a long ass time since anyone's actually gotten close to him by choice, and not because they were on the receiving end of his fists... He sits up a little and reaches out. "Kuja."
The name is so strange. He never thought he'd use it again. He had been so sure that he had died, and here he is. The Genome stirs and rises into a sitting position as easily as a cat would.
"You look better." It's not a compliment, or a happy note, just an observation made with a dry voice.
"I feel better. I haven't slept in a very long time."
"Come on," the bounty hunter grumbles, getting to his feet. He really does feel a lot larger – almost too big compared to the tiny monkey. He digs through his satchel and pulls out some gyshal greens, looking around in mild annoyance.
"What are those?" Kuja asks, confused, as he stands as well. Amarant shrugs.
"Chocobo bait," he replies as a far off sound responds to the strong smell the plant gives off. Kuja watches him as he stands completely still, gazing steadily into the distance. The sound repeats, louder, and Kuja blinks as a huge bird comes towards them, running so fast it's almost a blur. Amarant smirks as the Chocobo comes to a skidding stop, looking at Amarant with wide eyes. He moves forward, and the bird hesitates, until he holds out the greens.
Amarant snorts, and he puts a large hand on the Chocobo's head, stroking the feathers easily. "Would you rather take two extra days and end up fighting lots of wild beasts?" At Kuja's confused gaze, he nearly laughs, "What, have you never seen a Chocobo before?"
"Not... not so close up."
"Shit, you really should get out more." The Chocobo is big, even by Amarant's standards, but he has a feeling it wouldn't be able to hold them both. He shrugs, and looks at Kuja. "Get the hell on, we're going to Conde Petie."
"...It's safe to ride?"
Amarant chuckles, "You think a Chocobo's gonna hurt you? Holy hell, you can blow up the planet and you're afraid of a giant bird."
"I use more elegant forms of transportation," the Genome stutters in indignation, crossing his arms. He doesn't look at all menacing in an oversized cloak, and Amarant shakes his head, pointing to the bird.
"Get on," he says, and before the monkey can protest, he picks him up and puts him on the Chocobo's back, sitting sideways. "Hold on to him tight," he says, and Kuja bites his lip.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm leading him. I can run practically as fast as he can, after all." With that, he pets the bird one last time, having a quick stare down with it, and then takes off running. Kuja yelps when the bird follows quickly, but gets a good grip on some feathers and holds on.
Amarant wants desperately to laugh at Kuja's expression as he slides shakily off the Chocobo, but manages to keep a cool position, crossing his arms and smirking. The bird looks a little tired, but it crows in satisfaction – it has all rights to, since it beat Amarant in their little race.
Kuja watches Amarant suddenly grin and go to the bird, petting its neck casually. He mutters something lowly to the bird, and laughs when it crows again – it's almost surreal, watching such a giant, callous man talk to the animal like they're sharing a private joke. Amarant gives the Chocobo another bit of greens and then lets it go running back towards the forest.
"We'll go in and get on the next airship off of this stupid continent," Amarant growls as he paces back to Kuja, who stares at him in mild curiosity. "What?"
"...I don't know."
Amarant shrugs and starts across the vines, heading towards the village. When they enter, there is no greeting – he's been here so often they don't even bother anymore. "When's the next airship leaving?"
"Innabut twen'y, thir'y minues," a dwarf nearby responds, frowning, "Y'best 'urry."
"Yeah, I figured that much. Come on," Amarant growls to Kuja, motioning for him to follow as he winds through the bustling market hall, towards the newly erected ticket booth. "We need two tickets for the next airship."
"A'hm. Th's abut one 'undr'd gil, per ticket." Amarant snorts and practically throws the money down, before taking the tickets and heading back outside. The ship is just a stone throw away, and Amarant looks at Kuja. "People might recognize you."
"Put the hood up, you fool," the bounty hunter mumbles, and Kuja does so, face only visible if you looked the right way. Amarant doesn't look, and passes the tickets to the dwarf who is preparing the ship.
There's not many people on board – this is a cargo ship, but they obviously allow passengers often enough to have rooms. Kuja looks around in mild surprise, because the layout seems different than how it should. Amarant notices his head turning often, and frowns. "They changed from Mist to steam a couple of months ago. They can lay the ship out differently now."
Amarant lets Kuja wander as the ship departs, deciding to stay on deck and watch the scenery fade to spots. They get higher quicker now, with steam engines. He leans against the wall, and crosses his arms – Alexandria isn't too far away, and then he can ditch Kuja and get the hell out of there.
Kuja comes back towards him after about a half an hour, talking with a dwarf who is obviously flying for pleasure, and he's smiling. Amarant puts himself on guard – that smile looks too devilish to be good for him.
"Oh, um, yes." Kuja is looking at him curiously, and he realizes he doesn't know Amarant's name. "Did you know where this ship was heading, exactly, when we boarded?"
"...No. I assumed it was heading to Alexandria."
Kuja grins brightly. "Assuming is so careless. We're not going to Alexandria."
Amarant frowns, and growls, "Then where, exactly, are we going? Keep in mind I'm already in a bad mood from having to cart your ass all around."
Kuja claps his hands together as the dwarf moves on in fear of the bounty hunter. "Why, we're going to Treno!"
Amarant's reaction is instantaneous. "What!"
Kuja is still grinning, "Oh, Alexandria hasn't been accepting airships for a few months now! They're only accessible over land. So, we're going to Treno!"
"This is just great. I'm stuck with you, and I'll probably end up seeing Lani."
"Who's Lani?" Kuja asks, blinking thoughtfully, "That sounds so familiar. Oh, I don't even know your name."
"Well, I can hardly keep dodging around your name!" Yeah, Kuja certainly looks a lot better than he did yesterday. "We'll be in the city of nobles – why, I know half of them! I can hardly introduce you if you're going to be nameless."
"You're not introducing me to anyone. We'll take a Chocobo to Alexandria right when we land."
Kuja frowns, "But it'll be dark. We'll be tired. And I'll have to buy new clothing... I'm not going to spend the rest of my days walking around in cotton."
The monkey actually looks aghast at the very idea. It pisses Amarant off, but he has a point. Kuja probably has money stashed somewhere, and he does look pretty stupid walking around in a big cloak. And Lani would probably find out he ditched her to go to Alexandria, and then he'd get hunted down by her. All in all, he has no choice, and finally nods reluctantly. "Fine, we'll stay there for a night. But we're going to Alexandria, whether you like it or not."
"I'll be fine with it, so long as I have something nice to wear. Now, what's your name?"
"...Call me whatever you want – it won't matter in a couple of days."
Kuja sighs, frustrated, "What does Zidane call you?"
Kuja nods, frowning. "It sounds vaguely familiar. Oh well. Well, I'll see you in a little bit, Amarant, I'm going to go look about some more." He walks off, murmuring about the interesting mechanics behind steam engines, and Amarant blinks. His face is warm.
Kuja says his name strangely.
A/N: Sorry for any OOC you might encounter. First time writing proper Kuja and first time writing Amarant at all. It's depressing, really.