Disclaimer: I do not own Dissidia or any of its characters...

Final Fantasy Dissidia: Scents & Spices

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

By Traingham

A.N/ You can pick your friends, and you can pick your enemies. They can do the same...


With breakthroughs in transportation came the march of man's insatiable love for the exploration and conquest of different worlds (Perhaps in the metaphorical sense just as well as the literal). With the rowboat came Prishe's newfound hatred for fishing as well as the kindling of a deeper friendship with Squall Leonhart, and with the discovery of the abandoned galleon the elvaan's newfound love for crab catching and the broadening of worlds between the black lion and the white valkyrie, but with the newest advancement came something quite unexpected. When Bartz and Zidane came about the Prima Vista in all of its questionably sustained glory (Guarded by a terrible beast of a long forgotten age; A story for another time) the genome was caught within the arresting grips of inspiration. He had a vision of something grand, an idea that he knew had to be realized or his journey for the truth of where he truly belonged would progress no further.

Bartz and Squall had contrasting expressions on their faces after hearing this unrealized vision out of Zidane Tribal's mouth. The capricious wanderer sported a large grin that welcomed the prospect of a new, unusual experience where as the commander's left brow raised as if to question the very purpose for the entire conversation and the thief's idea by extension.

"You wrote a play?" Squall finally got around to asking the question that Zidane was undoubtedly waiting to hear. His willing suspension of disbelief could only be taken so far.

Zidane nodded, looking quite pleased with himself once he did. "That's right, and that theatre airship that we found is the perfect place for my stage production!"

"Never figured you for a writer." The black clad gentleman mused thinking back to the theatre within the extravagant looking airship. The world of the warring gods was abound with its share of wonderful and extraordinary to bizarre and terrible discoveries, from abandoned palaces and temples to seemingly bottomless craters gushing with cosmic energies and enchanted forests with trees that stretched ever upward toward the heavens. Every new discovery was tied to all of them somehow, and Squall had a hunch that this Prima Vista held a part of Zidane. "That airship might be connected to your memories."

"I figured the same thing." Zidane pulled a small leather bound book out of his traveling satchel. "I couldn't make sense of the day dreams I kept lapsing into after our little evening cruise until I recorded them on paper. Turns out that I was thinking up a play without realizing it."

"A journal?" The commander regarded the little book with mild interest. How long has he been keeping that?

Bartz produced a journal of his own. "I've got one too." The wanderer informed Squall with a cheerful grin. "You'd be surprised how much it helps!"

"Of course." The mercenary grumbled darkly, folding his arms. Why hadn't he thought of keeping a journal? With all of the random nonsense that his brain tossed at him every other day of the week he should have already been recording them to get a look at the bigger picture. Those dreams of living together with Ultimecia, that eye patched beauty always staring from a corner at his back, that sly looking woman with the short hair wearing that familiar uniform.

I'd probably have a better sense of what they all meant now if I'd kept them recorded in a journal sooner.

Steering away from his own issues, "So how do you know this vision in your head is a play, exactly?" Squall inquired.

"Well, it all took place on a stage, for one." Zidane explained as simply as he could. "I also happened to be one of the actors there."

"Making the hunch about it being a memory more credible." Squall deduced with a bow of his head. "Were any of the others there with you?"

The thief shook his head. "The other actors with me were completely different people. What bothers me is that I was wearing the same clothes on stage that I have on now."

"So you might be wearing a costume right now." Squall was heedful of the genome's concern. "You could have been brought into this world with a false sense of identity from the very start."

"Those daggers you brought along with you were real enough." Bartz commented, well aware of the ominous implications being made here. "And you obviously know your way around with them. Were you using them on stage?"

"I was holding a short sword, actually." Zidane answered, closing his eyes as he brought a hand to the side of his temple where he tapped a finger in deep recollection. "It didn't look like the real thing though."

Squall sighed. "Acting this out might be our ticket to getting further with this..." He looked aside with his arms still folded. "Or we could just be chasing a false ghost." Hyne knew, that song in his head was like a phantom taunting him for his vain efforts to make sense of what it meant to his identity.

"All we need are actors." Bartz said, looking to Zidane with a quick addition of, "...and costumes." He looked up to the clouds. "Props too."

"Scouting out actors isn't going to be difficult." Squall quipped with a sardonic afterthought ofNot that you have much of a wide selection to choose from, all things considered.

There were the warriors of Cosmos, and then there were, well, not the warriors of Cosmos. Peculiarly enough that didn't stop the possibility of Kuja being a prospective candidate from entering his head. The image of Kuja proudly standing upon a stage vanished in a puff of smoke when the lion felt a light poke at his chest.

"That's where you come in, Squall." Zidane told him, sounding ever so hopeful. Prishe and Terra were better at concealing their expectations.

"I'm not scouting anyone."

"C'mon Squall, just one person!" The thief brought both of his hands together pleadingly. "That's all I ask!"

Squall remained silent after receiving the plea, scrutinizing the thief's body language for any suspicious giveaways of his intentions before narrowing his eyes with a question of, "Who?" When you narrow it down to one person I can't help but feel that I'll be dealing with more trouble than this favor is worth.

Zidane jumped at the chance to make his request faster than a magic pot in an elixir shop, with a prompt cry of, "Tifa!" His unfortunate friend's immediate reaction to the sound of that name was about the equivalent of one stubbing their toe on a sleeping cactuar.

An amused smile broke out on Bartz's face at the mercenary's response as he folded his hands behind his head.

Dammit, I was right! Squall squashed the overwhelming urge to face palm at that very moment. Of all of the people Zidane could have asked for "Why does it have to be her?" The lovely bartender made it quite clear to him a few nights ago that she was all too willing to have fun at his expense whenever the opportunity presented itself. Her drop in at Lightning's tent in the middle of his visit of the injured L'Cie could have been nothing short of premeditated, and despite how indirect Lightning had been about it, she was the opposite of pleased by the end of Tifa's 'good natured' visit.

"The hair, Squall!" Zidane answered in a manner that made it sound as though this should have been common knowledge between them. "She has the hair of a princess! That's what I need for the person who plays Cornelia."

This was far too easy to call him out on and he knew it. Squall knew it and Bartz was damn well in the know.

"The hair..." The commander responded flatly, inciting Zidane to hold up both hands as if to deflect the unspoken insinuation that Squall may or may not have been making.

Smiling suavely the thief professed, "Before you say it, I'm more about women with volume below the waist, not up top."

"Hasn't stopped you before." Bartz cracked like a whip from behind the genome, becoming particularly interested in what Warrior of Light was doing a fair distance away when Zidane turned to glare at him. He was staring at...what was that guy staring at?

Now Squall face palmed. "Forget about that." He growled, suppressing the image of Lightning's shapely backside from his thought flow before he became too distracted, which was more a test of his self discipline than he expected. "What is keeping you from approaching Tifa yourself?"

"The promise of her crushing him to itty bitty pieces if he does." The wanderer appeared to be on a roll today, and the genome was none too happy about it.

"Stuff it, Bartz!" Zidane snapped at the chortling mime before turning back toward Squall. "Look, you and her are chums, so you have a better chance at convincing her to take up the part!"

Squall leaned back with a response of, "Chums?" Were the two of them really spending that much time together?

Zidane reached back to clutch at his hair with both hands, directing an incredulous stare at Squall. "I refuse to believe this." He whipped a hand in his direction. "How can you not see how obviously fond she is of you?!"

"She comes directly to you whenever Cloud is unavailable..:" Bartz trailed off with a side glance before going on, "...or unwilling to partner up with her, which is almost all the time."

"And you don't exactly turn her down." Zidane went for the two punch. "As many times you two have left Sanctuary together rumors are bound to start flying around, you know?"

"She better with her hands than me?" Suddenly that cryptic line that Prishe shouted to him from across the pond the other day made a lot more sense. It would also explain Lightning's cold reception of him the other night (And her irritable mood when Tifa walked in).

"Whatever!" Squall came out with it perhaps a little too defensively.

"Then," There was a press against Squall's chest as Zidane began to speak and the commander looked down to receive a thick roll of papers, "this should be no problem for you! Just work that bad boy charm on her and she'll jump right onboard!"

Squall might have blanched. "I didn't agree to" Zidane winked at him before he could finish protesting and hightailed it. Bartz shrugged when Squall set his sights on him and turned on his heel lazily to walk away.

"...Now would be a good time to defect."


END