He'd had a bad dream. Of course, being the silent brunette he was, he didn't even say a word. He'd woken with a silent scream of terror, and now he sat straight up and held a hand over his face, over the scar that crossed his nose. It hadn't been the fight, nor had it been any of the events of scarcely a year ago.

It had been Rinoa's death.

He didn't want to remember that. Of everything that had happened, he most wanted to forget her death. But of course, he couldn't. This wasn't the first time the nightmare had struck him and it probably wasn't going to be the last one knowing his luck.


And now he was panting, both in shock from the nightmare and in terror still. He'd been too little, too late to save her. He'd managed to save others of course, but not her. Not his Rinoa.

Damn. That dream again! His Dagger wasn't dead! That tail swished behind the blonde, the monkey scowling and looking over at the other person in his bed. His Dagger.

Well fine, her proper name was Garnet, but he'd called her Dagger for so long it was just natural now. She was round now, with what was to be their child. He reached over and brushed some hair from her face, leaning to kiss her cheek as he got up from the bed and got dressed. When he looked back to smile at her sleeping face again, she was looking at him from under her lashes.

"Mornin' beautiful." Zidane gave her a little bow, tail twitching mischievously.

Garnet smiled right back at him, getting up from their bed and stretching and nearly toppled over. Zidane caught her, kissing her cheek and helping her back to her feet fully.

The scene blurred and with a start Zidane remembered that Garnet had left him. She wasn't dead, no, she'd left him. Before he'd even gotten to see their child, she'd kicked him out of Alexandria and banned him from the place. Now he was wandering and sighing in utter sadness.

Horrible. It was just horrible.

So you could imagine how inattentively it was that Zidane wandered his way into the Ancient Forest. He didn't realize where he was up until he looked up and saw the tree that he'd just bumped into.

"Ow!" He rubbed his head, flicking his tail in annoyance. He was alone this time, and there was no way he was going to forget that they'd nearly lost Vivi here to some plant, as well as his Dagger – no, she wasn't his anymore, was she? He'd get that stranger if it was the last thing he did. And they could have lost his buddy Blank permanently. They'd been lucky not to, and even now Zidane remembered the nights he'd spent with his best friend.

Yeah, he'd never told Dagger about that. About how part of the reason he'd been so tormented over what had happened to Blank back then was not just because of how good friends they'd been. He hadn't told her that he and Blank had once been lovers. Something just told him it wasn't a good idea.


Squall let out a heavy sigh. Ok, fine. He was hungry. But how could he go back to the cafeteria when he remembered Rinoa's laughing at how Zell had shoved hot dog after hot dog down his throat? How could he go anywhere without remembering her? It had been his stupid fault.

He dropped his hand from his head when an announcement buzzed over the Garden.

"Squall, please report to my office. I need to speak with our top SeeD about a mission."

It was Cid. The brunette sighed once more and got up from his bed, slowly as he could. Fine. Fine, fine, fine. He basically dragged himself up to Headmaster Cid's office, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Squall. There are some deeper parts in the Fire Cave nearby. A young child from Dollet that was visiting got lost in there. I'm sending you to go get her."

"…."

"I knew I could count on you! Get going, we need to find her fast."

That was how Squall found himself in the Fire Cave again after so long. He wasn't very pleased about it, moving deeper than he had even known the place went. And when the Fire Cave suddenly turned into a beach, he found himself even more confused. And who was that blonde with the tail? He'd never seen someone like that before and Squall found himself staring at that tail. Was it fake?

No, it didn't appear fake at all, but what was a guy doing with a tail? Hmph. Squall was on a rescue mission anyways, he didn't need to bother himself with the random stranger. The brunette resumed looking for the child and found a hat, badly charred.

Oh fun.

Did this mean that little girl was dead, perhaps charred to death in a place she should never have been? He needed to go back and tell the others what he'd found then. But funny, there didn't seem to be an exit anymore!

Squall grunted, displeased with this turn of events. He looked over at the blonde again, before he realized that the other was … crying? It was none of his business.


Zidane had seen the stranger come into the little cavern. Who'd known that a cave deep in the Evil Forest had lead to a place like this? He'd fled here to escape the plant spiders that had come after him with a vengeance, and in his mind's eye he could just see them waiting outside for him to exit the fiery cavern. He'd seen a little girl run out of here, but he had no idea if the plant spiders had taken her or something.

She'd kind of looked like his Dagger. No, not his Dagger. The Queen Garnet. She wasn't his anymore. He twisted to look at the male again. "You know, the girl went out of here, out there." He pointed with his tail, reaching up to wipe away the tears that Garnet's leaving him had caused. "There are monsters out there though."

He's kinda cute, in a big strong silent type sort of way. The thought leapt unbidden to him, and his tail lashed. "If you're planning to go out there, mind if I tag along?" The monkey boy had ulterior motives, of course. What else was he to do when Garnet had left him and he spotted someone cute? Plan to get together with him of course!

Poor poor unsuspecting lion. The monkey was on the prowl.