This is a little one-shot I decided to post while working on my full length fanfic "Reconstruction", which will tell the story of Garnet's attempt to rebuild her kingdom after the war. In this one, "Pillow Talk", Zidane and Dagger discuss the future of their relationship, and come up with a surprising solution to the first of many difficulties facing them.
A little history is in order. I am completely in love with Final Fantasy IX, despite the fact that I have never played the game and have no intention of doing so in the near future. All of my experience with FF9 comes from watching the official video sequences on YouTube, a few AMVs, and reading fan fictions. So without further ado, my Final Fantasy IX fan fiction debut. Enjoy!
The first sensation he felt was warmth. The young man didn't bother opening his eyes yet. He just wanted to lay still for now. Morning sunlight bathed his skin, and he felt a cool breeze rustle his hair.
When he did open his eyes, he regretted not opening them earlier. The first thing he saw was soft yellow sun shining on pink skin and long, raven hair. The woman lay in the bed next to him, facing away from him.
His breath caught in his throat, and his eyes widened with wonder. Merciful God, but she was beautiful. He had seen a lot of women, good-looking ones, his usual devious mind telling him things like Man, she's hot, or Boy, I could land her easy.
But not this one. Not Dagger. She had a different kind of beauty; the kind that inspired feelings in him he had never known before. Instead of the hotheaded lust he was used to, looking at her gave him a sort of child-like awe. This woman was so far above lust it wasn't even funny.
He lay quiet for a moment, listening. Her breathing was soft and regular: she was still asleep.
He reached out a hand tentatively and brushed his fingers over her shoulder. Those shoulders had borne a burden he knew he would never understand. He had suffered his share, too: the loss of his brother; the sight of Dagger's wide, grief-stricken eyes as her own beloved city was literally blasted out from underneath her. But nothing he had been through could possibly hurt as much as the losses she was still dealing with.
His finger tips moved down over her arm, and he thought about their reunion yesterday, and the wild night that had followed. After wrapping her arms around him so tight he could scarcely breathe, pounding on his chest, and swearing she would kill him for leaving her, she had dragged him up to her room, and what followed certainly didn't kill him. On the contrary, he thought for sure that he would die if he didn't experience that at least three more times.
His hand moved down beneath the covers to cup her hip.
"You shouldn't take advantage of a lady in her sleep, Zidane," she muttered, adding a soft chuckle.
"But you weren't asleep," Zidane countered, drawing her against him, enjoying her warmth and her scent.
"But you thought I was," she continued the repartee. She turned in his arms and faced him. "Still a rouge at heart," she sighed, pulling herself tighter against him. She draped one leg smoothly over his, and ran her palm over his bare chest. "An incredibly sweet, handsome one, but a rogue nonetheless." She punctuated the remark with a series of short kisses on his mouth, followed by a much longer, deeper one.
She momentarily forgot her baser desires and buried her face against his neck, still trying to convince herself that he was real, that he was not dead or floating about in some God-forsaken other dimension, but here, in her arms, stroking her hair as she held him. To her, the tender touch felt so much like their wild embrace in the courtyard yesterday that, for the moment, it was all she wanted. Forget lovemaking; she just wanted him to be here, to keep holding her.
To her mild surprise, he gently disengaged from her. He slid out of her bed and walked across the sun-speckled burgundy carpet of her room, to the window. Zidane felt no shame or fear standing naked in front of the window: he was well over seven stories up. Anyone looking would be too far away to see anything.
Looking out over the city of Alexandria, he inhaled the sweet morning air. The place really was beautiful, even prettier than Lindblum on its better days. He wondered how these people managed to have such lush farms and gardens when he had yet to see a cloud in the sky here.
That settled it, he thought. He was definitely staying here, in this city. He might go off traveling once in a while, when the mood took him, maybe even visit the guys in Lindblum some time. But he would always come back here, to Alexandria and his beautiful Dagger. Home.
He heard a soft giggle behind him, and turned to see her sitting up in bed, the coverlet held to her chest. Her brown eyes held a cheeky glint.
"What's so funny?" he asked, puzzled.
"Nothing," she laughed. "You just look so dashing."
He looked down, and back up to her.
"You little tease!" he rebuked with mock severity, striding quickly over to the bed. "Come here, I'll give you dashing!" With that, he tumbled on to the bed, and pulled her over on top of him.
Fifteen minutes later, they were in roughly the same posture they had been in when he woke, but the Queen of Alexandria was in a somewhat different mood.
"Zidane?" she whispered.
"We should stop doing this."
His heart sank as he misinterpreted her meaning. "Doing what?" he asked, tilting her chin up to meet her eyes. "You don't mean you want to…baby, for God's sake, was it something I said? Just tell me what's wrong, and I swear I'll do anything to…"
"No!" she stopped him harshly, "Will you stop and listen to me for a minute? You silly, I don't want to stop seeing you altogether! It's just...this." She gestured to their bare bodies, and the tangled sheets around them.
"Oh," Zidane muttered, feeling like he was going to die from relief. Crisis averted, he donned his roguish smirk again. "Wow. It sure didn't sound like you were having second thoughts a few minutes ago."
For that matter, Queen Garnet thought, she wasn't having any thoughts a few minutes ago. She had been tossing about in a thunderstorm of sensation and emotion, a storm she would gladly return to, if not for the potential cost.
"What?" she asked dumbly, realizing her attention had drifted for a moment. "Oh. Well, it's not that I don't want to sleep with you anymore. It's just…"
"You don't want the consequences," Zidane finished.
"That's part of it," she admitted. "But it's not just about my getting pregnant, or creating a scandal." She shook her head. "I love you, Zidane. I can't bear to think of you as a consort, or a sex object. You deserve better."
"I don't mind being your sex object," he said, trailing his fingers up her spine, trying to arouse her again.
She removed his hand rather hastily. "Will you stop that and listen?" she demanded. "As much as I'm enjoying this, it isn't right."
His voice turned dead serious. "So marry me," he stated simply.
Garnet was aghast. Leave it to Zidane to propose to a lady in a tone that sounded as if he were helping her pick out a new pair of shoes.
"Zidane Tribal, you are the absolute limit!" She interjected. "Really? You, the King of Alexandria? Tell me, have you ever led more than…" She trailed off, and put a hand to her lips. She had gone too far with that one, she realized shamefully.
But it was too late. He got out of her bed and jerked his pants on. "Zidane, wait." She said, trying to hold back tears. "I'm sorry."
"Forget it," he snapped. "I guess you're right. Hell, I've led parties of four or five dozens of times, but a couple hundred thousand? Maybe that's just too many for me, Dagger."
"Zidane, for goodness' sake, I still love you—
He folded his arms over his chest impatiently. "I just asked you to marry me, Dagger. You said no. Make up your mind."
"I can't marry you, Zidane!" she insisted, her eyes tearing up. "I can't!"
He shrugged, feeling a rare lack of sympathy. "Then what do you want?" he demanded. "Look, believe it or not, I can live without sex." He deflated, walked over, and sat next to her on the bed. "But I can't live without you, Dagger. I went through hell and high water to get back to you; I can't stand to lose you all over again. So it's either king or concubine. Take your pick."
At that moment, the wildest of ideas entered Garnet's mind. "Zidane," she muttered thoughtfully, "I think I have a place for you that will beat them both."
"…And arise, Sir Zidane Tribal!"
The queen removed the sword from his shoulder, and the courtyard erupted in thundering applause as he rose from his knees and faced her. No one else noticed the silent thank you that passed to her through his eyes.
The citizens of Alexandria filed by to shake his hand or offer congratulations. A mighty armored hand clapped him on the back, and he inhaled sharply to keep from losing his breath.
"Congratulations, my boy!" A gruff voice said behind him. "I assure you, you shall find the training most educational!"
Zidane turned to face the massive armored figure. He coughed a few more times, still winded. "Thanks, Rusty," he wheezed.
He shook hands with Captain Steiner and General Beatrix—man, that was definitely the hottest military officer he had ever seen.
He turned to talk to Dagger, but General Beatrix motioned to him, and started to walk away, so he followed.
"Zidane," she said when they were out of earshot of the crowd. "I am certain there is a perfectly good reason why a carefree young lad such as yourself would suddenly desire the responsibilities of knighthood," she said sternly. She followed the somber remark with a grin and a knowing wink. "Just don't let your heart rule your mind."
Yikes, Zidane thought. This lady is good.
He shrugged. "Hey, don't worry, General," he laughed. Walking away, he added over his shoulder, "I'm always in charge of myself."
The general just shook her head and smiled as she watched him walk away. Somehow, she was certain that neither his heart nor his mind would be in control tonight.