I'm Coming Back to You

Chapter 15- Tears

Disclaimer: Yes. Tears. That's what's falling down my cheeks as I think of how I wish I could own Final Fantasy IX. Which I don't, by the way—if you haven't noticed yet. Square/Enix owns it. Yipee. Good for them. Not too good for me.

AN: That's umm, "Tears". Like crying tears. Not like the tears in your shirt or your pants. Man, I hate homographs. For some reason grammar isn't my favorite subject, but I still write stories. The mysteries of life never cease to…mystify me.

Oh, yeah…we were somehow back to Zeithi, who I wasn't about to give up just yet. "Why," you are probably asking, "is Zeithi back into the picture? I thought it was just: 'love Zidane and get dumped by him' and then POOF! she was no more." Well, you see… I didn't want to just create a character, with so much storyline and substance potential, use her for a couple of chapters, and then drop her all together. No, I'm not that merciful. I'm gonna finish developing her and show you a little bit more about her before I let her settle down in peaceful contentment. Hehe.

Key: _…_ emphasize (italicize)

       /…/ thoughts

       "…" words

       *…* action

     I had been up and about shortly after waking up, and had been helping Zeithi pick berries and set the table; minor tasks. She wouldn't let me wash the dishes, or sweep the floors—"You're a Queen," she insisted. "Anyways, I can take care of it." She waved me off as she stepped into the kitchen. I was mostly relieved—I'd never washed dishes or swept the floor before.

     I was planning to leave the next day, but for now, I enjoyed Zeithi's lenient, rugged company. We chatted about a lot of different things. Zeithi told me how she used to live in Alexandria and how much fun she'd used to have.

     "My little sister loved to jump rope. It was her absolute favorite pastime. She and her friends would stand at the street corner and skip rope all day, and sometimes it looked so fun I'd even join them. My mother…she loved Gysahl Pickles to death. She couldn't live without them. She said that every time she was pregnant with one of us, she always craved Gysahl Pickles. Oh, how I used to love mama's stories…" She sighed. "How about you?"

     "My mother died, too."

     "Oh…oh yeah. I forgot. I'm so sorry."

     "It's alright. I loved my mother very much, and I'm sure she loved me a lot, too. I learned most everything I know from her. She's not my biological mother, though. My real father and mother died a long time ago. I don't remember either of them."

     "Are you sad about that?"

     "Yes, of course. But, sometimes I realize how nicely things turned out despite all that happened in the past…"

     Zeithi looked at me approvingly. "You know, for a Queen, you're not half bad."

     I was appalled. "Excuse me?"

     "Oh, no, no. That's not what I mean. It's just that, I've always thought a Queen would be proper and snobby and think she's the best thing since cheese. But you're like…like one of us."

     "Thank you," I said gratefully. "It means a lot to me. Zidane has been teaching me to speak like a—forgive the term—commoner. I've been trying my hardest."

     Zeithi paused. "Zidane, huh?"

     "Yeah. The person I asked you about earlier. He's been missing for a while."

     "I see." There was that odd look on her face again. She seemed to be staring at the wall for a moment, before repeating. "I see… Well, what are we going to do tomorrow? You told me that you'd like to leave and find your friends."

     "Oh," I said. "How about the Black Mage Village?"

     Zeithi looked terrified.

     "What's wrong? Haven't you seen a Black Mage before?"

     "Y-yes," she seethed through her teeth, "and I don't want to see another one again!"

     "Why? Zeithi…are you okay?"

     She just shrugged. "I don't wanna talk about it. I-I'm just scared about them, that's all."

     I nodded. Not many people had good experiences with Black Mages. Zeithi looked utterly horrified at the idea of meeting up with them, so I just said, "Well, how about I go on my own? I don't want to trouble you any longer—I mean, I don't want to be a pest."

     "It's unsafe," Zeithi said quickly. "I want to help. How about…I'll take you there, but you have to go in by yourself."

     "If it's fine with you."

     It was settled. We shook on it.

-0-0-0-0-0-

     I could see Zeithi tense up as we moved through the forest. She glanced right and left quickly, as if she was afraid of something coming. "What?" I whispered harshly, also becoming edgy. "Is there any danger?"

     "Of course not!" she said. "Black Mages—I was looking for them."

     I rolled my eyes. Very, well, un-Queen-like."They're _harmless_, you know. They won't do anything to you, especially if they see me. They'll recognize me!"

     "I don't want to see one at all," she snapped.

     I was taken aback. Never had I seen Zeithi so nervous and uptight. She was practically fidgeting. I placed a steady hand on her arm. "It'll be alright. Don't worry. I won't let them near you, if that's what you want."

     She nodded and we continued on. I was starting to recognize trees and pathways, until finally I spotted a Black Mage. "Hey!" I shouted. The Mage turned around, hand up, ready to strike me with a spell. I waved. "It's me, No.33! Queen Garnet. Dagger."

     "You're here!" No.33 exclaimed. He noticed Zeithi. "W-who is that?"

     "This is—" I turned to face her and saw her trembling. "Zeithi? You don't have to come with us, you know. You told me yesterday you didn't want to come in."

     She wasn't listening to me. Her eyes were set squarely on the Black Mage. She was trembling. No.33 was planted on the spot. He was staring straight back at her. I looked at Zeithi again. There was something, in her eyes—intense and flaming. I realized it was hatred. Zeithi raised her right arm and pointed it at No.33. "You. You killed him. You _killed_ him!!! I hate you! You don't deserve to live!!!"

     "W-wha—"

     "Ahhh!" Zeithi screamed, leaping towards him. No.33 broke out of his trance-like state and raised his arms in defense.

     "Zeithi, no!"

     She froze in mid-air, hovering halfway over him. Her eyes went wide, but she couldn't move otherwise. "Stop," I breathed. No.33 nodded. I could see Zeithi relax slowly, in her eyes. I nodded to the Black Mage. "She's okay. Let her go."

     No.33 lowered his hand and released Zeithi. She dropped to the floor, on her knees, gasping for breath. I rushed to her side. "Zeithi, are you okay?"

     "I'm sorry," No.33 said gravely. "I didn't want—"

     "It's not your fault," I interrupted quickly. "It's nobody's fault." I looked at Zeithi. "I'm sure we can sort this all out, and-and—"

     "No!" Zeithi jumped up. "No, no, no, no, no! This is all wrong! It's messed up, it's—"

     She wrenched free from my grasp and bolted into the woods. "Zeithi!" I called after her, but she was gone. I couldn't even see her anymore. "I'm sorry about this," I apologized to No.33. "It's all a big misunderstanding. I promise!"

     "I think," No.33 said, "you should see Mikoto. She knows what to do."

-0-0-0-0-0-

     Mikoto, upon seeing me, didn't look as happy as I expected. For the most part, she looked relieved. "Dagger! Everyone has been worried about you."

     "I've heard." I asked, of course, the ever-present question. "You won't turn me in, will you?"

     "I have no choice but to—"

     "I'm not going to stay long," I told her. "If you threaten to turn me in, I'm gonna leave! You better not try and stop me." Mikoto was silent. I continued: "I just wanted to ask about Zidane. Has he been seen around here?"

     She looked around at everyone. Vivi squirmed through the crowd and ran up to both of us. "Dagger! You're okay! I was with No.288, and when I heard, I came as fast as I can. You're here about Zidane, huh?" He looked up at Mikoto, who's expression was hard as stone. "Oh. Well, I guess we should tell you, then."

     I was confused. "Tell me what?"

     Mikoto bowed her head. "We have received word from Tantalus. Shortly after they lost you, they discovered evidence of Zidane. He is dead."

     What? I stared at her, speechless. Out of the corner of my eye, Vivi folded his hands solemnly. The Black Mages and Genomes were quiet as well, as if we were having a memorial for him that very moment. My breath quickened. I clenched my fists. "No… No!!! He's not dead!!!"

     Mikoto heaved a painful sigh. "It's true."

     "Lying! You're lying!" I began to cry. "Liars, all of you! I can't believe it! I thought you were my friends! You're LYING!!!"

     "Dagger, please," Vivi said. "I'm really sad, too! I—"

     "No!" I shouted. I turned and pushed through the crowd. When I was finally out, I ran and ran and ran, leaping out of the magical barrier and tore through the leaves, choked sobs escaping from my throat. I ran blindly, with no idea where I was going. Finally, I tripped and landed in a ditch. All I could do was cry.

-0-0-0-0-0-

     "Mikoto," Vivi said, "I don't think that was the right thing to do."

     "You heard Baku," Mikoto replied sternly. "We are not going to make changes in his plan without his consent. I am very sure he had a reason for his orders. Anyhow, she will recover." Vivi winced visibly and seemed sad. Mikoto touched his shoulder hesitantly—a strange gesture that she wasn't used to doing. "I did not want to do it either, Vivi. I did not want to see her pain, or feel it. And I did feel it. It was like a burning fire within her soul…consuming all of her hope and crushing all of her dreams."

     Vivi put a gloved hand over Mikoto's. "I hope Zidane gets his memory back soon."

     "Yes…me too."

AN: A little bit short, yes, I know. Some emotional stuff. Oh, and I know you're probably really confused about the whole Zeithi thing—You probably think she's the bad guy, but she has her reasons to dislike Black Mages. But that's to be explained later. That's really all I have to say… besides, of course, asking for reviews. Thank you in advance for the review you are about to submit! *uses her superpowers to will your mouse cursor towards the button…that tempting button…*