Author's Note: My first Dissidia fanfiction! This isn't exactly how I planned to start the ball rolling with Zidane and Kuja, but oh well. One could most definitely call this story a spiritual successor to my FFVII story, "Go Fish."
Disclaimer: I don't own Dissdia: Final Fantasy. I don't even own a copy yet; I'm just borrowing it.
Luck, it seemed, was a fickle creature. It didn't matter what kind of charms you loaded yourself up with, it did whatever it damn well pleased. And Luck, the cruel mistress, selected the most inopportune moment to remind Zidane of the heaviness of his limbs and the soreness of his muscles. Stumbling around this strange, ephemeral world, battling his way past manikin after manikin, had taken its toll on him. It was this exhaustion that suddenly slowed his mind to a sluggish crawl. The bright fire of Flare bloomed in the corner of his vision, but his reaction was too late. The force of the explosion knocked him out of the air and he landed hard on the crystal platform below, rolling backwards several feet. A voice inside his head screamed at him to get up, to keep fighting, but his body wasn't receiving the message.
"Why, Zidane, you disappoint me," Kuja said, hovering before the felled Cosmos warrior. "Your performance has been underwhelming. Although my victory was expected, you could have at least tried."
Zidane gritted his teeth, glaring up at Kuja. Did he seriously have to go on like this? 'Zidane Tribal – Talked to death by his arch-nemesis' wasn't exactly what he wanted for an epitaph on his gravestone.
"Even that miserable sad-sack with the scar put up more of a—" Kuja stopped mid-monologue and dropped to his feet. He jabbed a finger at something on the ground. "What is that?"
Working up enough energy to lift his head, Zidane zeroed his attention in on a black object laying in front of him. It must've fallen out of his pocket. "The marker?"
Kuja stepped forward and bent down to pick up the marker, furrowing his brow as he turned it over in his hands. Gripping the two ends, he pulled. The top came off with a pop! "What does it do?" he asked, bringing the tip to his nose. He screwed up his face in obvious disgust.
"You're not supposed to smell it!" Zidane exclaimed. "Squall gave it to me. I was using it to write on my map."
"This is a writing utensil?"
Zidane shrugged. "Yeah."
"But it's so cumbersome! Who would want to write with this?"
A wave of dizziness washed over Zidane as he clambered to his feet and he sucked in several deep breaths to steady himself. Then he took the marker from Kuja.
"What are you doing?" the mage demanded as Zidane pushed up his sleeve. He shrieked when Zidane slashed the tip of the maker across his wrist, leaving a thick, black line on his otherwise flawless skin. "What have you done?!"
"Calm down! It washes right off." Zidane tugged off one of his gloves with his teeth and licked his index finger, then scrubbed at the mark. "See?"
Kuja yanked his wrist back, horrified. "How dare you wipe your saliva on me!" Licking his own fingers, he rubbed at the line. It smudged, but lightened nonetheless. He shot Zidane a glare. "That's gross."
"It's just spit."
"It's been in your mouth and I don't want to touch anything that's been in your mouth," Kuja snapped irritably. He snatched the marker back and knelt down, scribbling a little on the crystal platform before writing his name. Sitting back on his heels, he regarded the marker. "I don't understand you," he informed it.
"I think it's just ink coming through a sponge," Zidane supplied.
"But it's so broad and grotesque." Kuja bent over again. "Perfect for drawing ugly likenesses."
Curious, Zidane peered over Kuja's shoulder. "Who are you drawing?"
"That hag, Ultimecia. I find her insistence on flashing her naked torso at everyone to be quite offensive."
Zidane opened his mouth to point out that Kuja's own attire was severely lacking as well, but decided not to risk souring his mood. It seemed all of those luck charms worked after all.
The minutes ticked by, the silence in the Crystal World only punctuated by the occasional squeak of the marker against the platform's surface. Zidane eventually chose to plunk down beside Kuja, watching the older genome intently. Kuja wasn't much of an artist, but he was right about the marker; it was perfect for ugly likenesses.
"There," Kuja announced, putting the final touches on his drawing. "What do you think?"
Zidane tapped his lips as he surveyed the picture. The horns, tattoos, and wings marked it undeniably as Ultimecia, but Kuja had drawn the witch overweight and wrinkly. It would have been a truly terrifying sight in reality.
"It's pretty good," Zidane replied, "but it's missing something." He took the marker and added a mustache.
For a moment, he was worried Kuja would get upset at him for messing with his drawing, but the corners of the mage's mouth tilted up. Then he smiled. Then he laughed.
"How marvelous! Of course she needs a mustache. She's more manly than that loud-mouthed Mateus."
"Oh, you know. That 'emperor' in the yellow suit who parades about, threatening to squash everyone."
Zidane pulled a face. "You really hang out with that guy?"
"I refuse to associate myself with moronic, self-proclaimed deities," Kuja sniffed. "Besides, that armor of his is garish and absolutely ridiculous. I don't believe, even for a second, that he isn't hiding something underneath it."
"Not one for false advertising, eh, Kuja?" Zidane asked, raising an eyebrow.
Kuja tossed his hair in a flourish. "At least I have nothing to be embarrassed about. What you do with your eyes is no concern of mine."
Heat flooded into Zidane's cheeks and he hastily diverted his gaze. "It's not my fault you have nice hips—N-No! I mean..." He blindly thrust out a hand. "Just give me the marker."
The marker was wordlessly dropped into his palm and Zidane crouched down to start drawing. He could practically hear Kuja smirking and opted to ignore him as best he could.
"How do the Emperor's horns go?"
"Out to the sides."
"Don't forget his majesty's face sparkles."
Once he finished the Emperor's head—which was pretty good, in Zidane's humble opinion—he continued it to a sloppy sketch of a busty woman dressed not dissimilar to Cloud of Darkness. Zidane and Kuja took one look at each other, then burst out laughing. Once they pulled themselves together, they looked at fat, old, mustached-Ultimecia and were in stitches all over again. Kuja picked up the marker and gazed at it in wonderment.
"The maker of this was nothing short of genius," he declared.
"Here, lemme see it again." Zidane took the marker and hunched over. When Kuja tried to peek over his shoulder, he scooted around to block his view.
"Zidane, what are you doing?" Kuja asked, sounding suspicious.
"You'll seeee!" he singsonged.
"That worries me."
"Do you have one feather in your hair, or two?"
"Do you think he's alright?"
"I'm sure he's fine."
Bartz and Squall had been searching for Zidane for hours without much luck. None of the other Cosmos warriors had seen him, and they'd even tried to squeeze answers out of a few warriors of Chaos. The only one who had been remotely helpful was Kefka, who said he'd heard an awful racket like screeching children coming from the Crystal World, but neither Bartz nor Squall had high hopes for that lead. Bartz was verging on the edge of full-on distress, guilt ridden about the fact that he'd been the one to deliver Zidane the fake crystal without even realizing it was a trap. Squall assured him that it wasn't his fault, but Bartz could tell he was starting to get worried too. Which only served to further his agitation since Squall just didn't get worried.
"You don't think some Chaos warrior got him, do you?" Bartz asked as they entered the Crystal World.
"I'm sure he's—" Squall cut himself off and abruptly stopped walking.
Bartz crashed straight into his back, stumbling backwards a few steps. "What's wrong?"
Shaking his head, Squall crouched down and brushed his fingers over the ground. "What is all this?" he breathed.
Bartz was about to repeat his question when he noticed what Squall was talking about. The entire surface of the orange crystal was covered in mad scribbles. "It looks like someone went a little stir crazy," he said, scratching his head. "Is that Warrior of Light with a mustache?"
Squall rose to his feet. "I gave Zidane a marker earlier. But why would he have drawn everywhere?"
"Maybe he ran into Luneth," Bartz suggested.
"He's still kinda young, isn't he? Kids love art."
"You're one to talk."
"Hey, what's that supposed to mean?"
Before Squall could answer, a peal of laughter that sounded suspiciously familiar rang out from one of the platforms above them. The two Cosmos warriors took off, hurrying up to the source of the noise only to find Kuja, one of the warriors of Chaos, kneeling over a prostrate Zidane.
"Zidane!" Bartz exclaimed in horror as Kuja picked up a marker and... drew on Zidane's face?
Craning his neck to look over at them, Zidane lifted a hand to wave. "Hey, guys!"
"Hold still, you idiot!" Kuja snapped, pinning Zidane down by the hair with his free hand. The two shared a conspiratorial giggle.
Bartz looked helplessly over at Squall, but his companion seemed just as confused. He shifted his grip on his gunblade as though he was unsure whether to attack or not. The enemy was here, but instead of fighting, Zidane and Kuja were engaged in an art project?
Both Cosmos warriors jumped into a defensive stance when Kuja suddenly burst out laughing and collapsed, rolling onto his back and clutching his stomach. Zidane sat up and grinned stupidly at the two. A thick mustache was drawn over his top lip. Bartz couldn't help snorting, but quickly covered his mouth when Squall shot him a withering look.
"Zidane..." Bartz had to ask. "What are you doing?"
"We're drawing!" Zidane replied, as though it should've been obvious. But, in a way, it was. "Wanna join?"
Squall gestured to Kuja with the tip of his gunblade. The mage was still tittering and Bartz noticed a mustache had been drawn on him as well—two thin lines that curled into spirals at the ends—along with a triangle in the center of his chin that he assumed was supposed to be a goatee. "What about him?"
"What about him?" Zidane echoed.
"Aren't you two supposed to be fighting?"
"Oh, we've done plenty of that!" Zidane motioned to the marker smudges on his arms and the majority of Kuja's torso. "We only have one marker."
Bartz was shocked that it hadn't run out of ink. "So... did you get your crystal?" he ventured.
The blond genome's face went blank. "Crystal?"
"The ones Cosmos told us to look for?" Bartz said in exasperation. Zidane hadn't forgotten had he? "Remember?"
Recognition lit up Zidane's eyes. "Oh yeah! That crystal!"
"Did you get it?"
Bartz slapped his palm over his face. "You mean you've been drawing this whole time?"
Zidane shrugged sheepishly. By this time, Kuja had collected himself and was sitting up, looking as cool and indifferent as he could wearing a marker mustache.
"It's time to stop playing," Squall said sternly. He walked over and plucked the marker from the ground. "Do you know where the cap is?"
"I don't. Do you, Kuja?"
Kuja leaned over and grabbed Zidane's tail, using it to swish something off the edge of the crystal platform. It was only after it went sailing into the air that Bartz realized it was the marker cap. "I haven't the slightest idea," the mage replied airily.
Squall grumbled under his breath as he headed towards the lower platforms. He jolted to a halt and pointed at a drawing. "Hey! Is that supposed to be me?" he demanded.
Zidane's eyes flew wide and he jabbed a finger at Kuja. "He did it!"
"How dare you blame your misdeeds on me!" Kuja leapt to his feet. "You know damn well that was you!"
"Liar! You drew the mustache on him!" Zidane was up as well, summoning his blades.
Kuja levitated into the air. Magic crackled between his fingers. "But the little raincloud over his head is your handiwork, Zidane! Just like those chocobo wings on Cloud!"
The two genomes clashed together in a flurry of metal and sparks. Kuja launched himself up into the air and was quickly pursued by Zidane, who propelled himself off of a nearby crystal pillar. Bartz and Squall stood on the platform, watching them for a few minutes, before Squall turned to leave.
"Hey, wait. Don't you think we should help Zidane? Or something?" Bartz asked.
Bartz frowned, then turned back to the sea of drawings spattered over the ground.
"Are you coming?" Squall called over his shoulder.
"Yeah, in a sec. I want to see if I can find that drawing of Cloud."
"What... is this?!"
The Emperor stared down at the scribble as though the heat of his glare was enough to erase it from existence. When Ultimecia peeked over his shoulder and covered her mouth to muffle her laugh, the Emperor came very close to skewering her with his staff. It was horrifying—some armature artist had placed his head, his beautiful, sacred head, on the body of some scantily-clad woman.
"When I find out who did this, I will crush them," he growled.
"Oh, Mateus," Ultimecia guffawed. "You take things much to seriously."
"A declaration of war by some cheeky Cosmos warriors, no doubt. And when I find them, I will—"
"You are being melodramatic. It's only a little harmless vandalism."
The Emperor narrowed his eyes and tapped the point of his staff at the picture drawn beside the one of him. "Is that harmless vandalism to you?"
"COSMOS WILL RUE THE DAY SHE ALLOWED MUSTACHES TO BE DRAWN ON ME!"
A/N: I don't know how mustaches ended up being the thing, but I can totally see Zidane scribbling mustaches on people he doesn't like.
Thanks for reading!