The night in Treno was eternally young, darkness permanently wreathing the city while stars shone defiantly through, casting their gentle light on the tiny world beneath them.

Dancers had taken their places, all silk and velvet blossoms on the waxed floorboards, touching their left hands together. It was no bawdy, hurried peasant affair. This was upper-class Treno, and Kuja ached to join them.

"Are you going to play cards all night, or will I get my promised dance?"

Zidane pouted in the split-second before realising he had won the card game. He had been claiming winnings from all the players he could find, having found Kuja was quite an adept at talking his way into the most exclusive of cliques. Two years had cleared most people's minds of Kuja's image, if not his reputation, and under the guise of a pseudonym he was still as talented as ever at using his wiles on noblewomen.

Men never knew what to make of Kuja, generally sat back and frowned at him with thorough, solemn disapproval. The worst he ever provoked from a woman was jealousy; most gave in to his wordplay. A true darling of the crowd, he brought forth laughter like sparkling champagne from the older women and delicate blushes from the debutantes. If one was not careful, they found themselves whispering forbidden gossip into his ears within minutes of meeting him.

"If I keep winning, maybe!" Zidane sorted his cars into the appropriate pockets before grabbing Kuja's arm and helping himself up. Two years of being on the run with Kuja had been exhilarating, made pick-pocketing exciting again. They weren't being chased, and the dark truth was both knew Kuja would not be running for much longer, but for the first time they both felt alive and, most important of all, free.

Kuja's lips held a small smirk while Zidane led him onto the dance floor, completely disrupting the other couples while they found a place for themselves. It would have seemed more logical for the wide-mouthed, more masculine if not quite brawny genome to lead, but Zidane was a poor student of dancing. Strange, all things considered his acting and fencing skills were both more than adequate. Zidane didn't seem to mind, though, and Kuja suspected he enjoyed the chance to curtsey shamelessly.

Their 'father' seemed to have created both of them with a flamboyant streak.


Dancing is a strange business, completely sexual and yet completely not; a strange form of communication by touching, reacting and mirroring. One could look up and down their partner's body with bowed head and rarely be judged for it: Eye contact borderlined on a necessity. Zidane had never really 'got' dancing before Kuja, but since his education, he had fallen in love with it. He wasn't particularly good, but enthusiasm and joy in the actions often make up for a lack of grace and light feet, or so Kuja had told him.

Sharing their talents had been a continuous part of the journey, and Zidane had to admit that Kuja was a better student of pick-pocketing than he himself was of dancing. That said though, their tails leant themselves to the two tasks in completely different manners; tails helped pick-pocketing, but hindered dancing.

It was unsurprising how Kuja's clothing seemed to suit the dance, his bare stomach adding to the dips, his half-skirt to the twirls, long sleeves to arm-movements. More mage-like than a fighter's outfit, and it looked good on him. Nonetheless, even if he was more of a lover than a fighter in appearance, he could pack on hell of a punch, and Zidane knew all too well that if he were ever forced to fight him alone, Kuja stood a good chance of emerging victorious.

Step, step curl, step and twirl. Zidane laughed after spotting an older couple, where both the man and the woman were eyeing Kuja's hips with the same expression. His fellow genome had certainly claimed more of the androgynous side of genome traits than himself.

The music had stopped, Kuja giving Zidane a brief dark glance as the announcer declared that there would be an hour's break while the orchestra changed over. Treno might not sleep, but its citizens still required rest from time to time.

"That was unimpressive."

"I only promised one dance." The thief laughed, before patting Kuja on the back. "Come on, we can wait outside for a bit. We'll come back when the music does, okay?"


When an occasion necessitated it Kuja was always quite agreeable, and so he seemed quite content to sit on the outside balcony's edge, legs over the side. It was appallingly warm given the time of year, and the noise levels were not much better than inside, but he felt something close to relaxed regardless. Despite an outwardly cool appearance, Kuja was usually tense, thinking constantly about his actions and the world around him.

Zidane was far less concerned with his inner workings. "You could be such a marriage-wrecker," he laughed, pointing backwards with his thumb to the ballroom. "The number of girls in there so blatantly in love with you-"

"I can assure you that whatever they're feeling is very different to love," Kuja cut in.

"Yeah, well... close enough."

"No, not close enough, Kuja pressed on. It seemed he was quite determined to drive this particular point home. "One thing I am not going to put up with is misunderstanding love."

"Oh shh, you sound like a bad poet. Again."

"It might not matter to you but I think it very important. Love begins with almost anything but lust-"

"Ah, so we're in love then," Zidane interrupted. If Kuja was determined to make a point, then Zidane was determined to shut him up.

Thankfully, Kuja took it well in his stride and laughed, his tail brushing against Zidane's. "There is more to love than you know. Love does not require kinship, friendship, or lust."

"And who made you the ex- mmph!" It was a brief kiss and in between being mildly annoyed and mildly amused Zidane decided Kuja's lips were ridiculously soft. "... what the hell was that?"

"That was proof." A sly, knowing smile. "You are not my brother, not my lover, something other than a friend, and that kiss did nothing for you."

"We are kind of brothers..."

"I beg to differ." He tilted his head before resting it on Zidane's shoulder. "We are something quite different, you and I."

Zidane had the feeling he should have protested, but the night was too pleasant to spoil with prolonged disagreements. Instead, he opted to repeat his earlier statement, seeing as Kuja had not actually replied. "So we're in love then."

"Something like that, yes." Kuja closed his eyes and smiled.


That was new.


They had been resting a while when Zidane realised the music had returned, and moreover it was starting to get a little cold for staying outside - especially considering Kuja's attire. He gently nudged the other genome with his shoulder, careful not to startle him into falling off the balcony.

"You okay?"

"I'm not quite dead yet," Kuja replied wryly before easing himself back down onto the balcony floor, trying to hide the fact his rear had gone numb as subtly as possible.

"That really isn't funny."

"I know." He dusted himself off, twitched his tail to get the feeling back into it. "And what does the night hold for us now?"

"Dancing and beer for starters, and if I get my way."

"And for dessert?"

Zidane blinked, grumbled for a moment, then laughed. "Bed. This eternal night idea is fun, but I need sleep, same as anyone else."

"Glad to hear it. Come, let's join the next dance at the right time."

Kuja walked back inside without waiting for Zidane, who had caught a little glimmer in Kuja's eye that made him rethink part of their conversation.

"... and that kiss did nothing for you."

Had Kuja meant..?

But then, the lilac-haired genome turned and held out his hand, gesturing for Zidane to follow.

Perhaps the finer details of love really didn't matter after all.


The End