By Fen-cyra

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Blank x Zidane ( a little of Zidane/Random woman) - Nothing too graphic

Disclaimer: I do not own, nor do I attempt to own, the characters from Squaresoft (Now Square Enix)'s Final Fantasy 9 game.

N/A: Originally written for a dear friend who is a big fan of this pairing. I had planned on making it into an extremely short story, but then it ended up being a whole lot more for some reason…

Mama-Blank! Haha~

Error Status: Still have no Beta Reader. Expect ridiculous, third-grade errors. : /

The sky was dark, the night young. The stars glistened in the darkened blur of the night time sky like an awakened dawn. It was at this time that many people were in bed, bundled up in a warm cocoon of blankets made of wool and expensive fabrics. In Lindblum; there were no children to be heard causing a ruckus on the once busy city streets, no cart being wheeled across cobblestone walkways, and not a sound of what could be labeled as 'Theft'. All was quiet here at night, much unlike the sleepless City of Treno. And yet, every night, there was one place that was filled with life.

A pub, as angered housewives so lovingly called it, was a place one could go to for many unique reasons. If you had a particu larly hard day, this was your sanctuary. If you were feeling lonely, this was your place of commerce. If there was an itch in your pants you just couldn't scratch well hell, this could be your sexual rendezvous too. It all depended on what you were looking for when you chose to walk through those doors.

And for the young thieves of Tantalus, it was a place to let loose and have fun after a hard day's work, pockets deep with the riches of their wealthier targets. It was a dog eat dog world. Unfortunately for some, these boys were at the top of their game.

"What can I get for you boys tonight," One of the bar maid's asked upon their arrival, her ankle bracelets clanking against each other as she scurried over to their usual table. "Anything special? Or will you have the same tonight?"

Without hesitation, one of the boys slammed his hands on the table's top. He leaned back in his chair with a toothy grin. "Ah, just give us the same thing you always do, babe. I'm sure it'll taste just as good as it always does."

The others nodded. After all, this wasn't a celebration of sorts. It was only a midnight rendezvous of wine and lust.

"Sure thing, hun," The woman cooed, leaning forward to blow a kiss, winking at her loyal patrons before strutting back over to the counter.

She made it a point to let her hips sway, smiling at the thought of all the hungry eyes following her.

"So I guess Gabi is working tonight," Zidane spoke up, tracing a figure eight in the wood of the table. "Haven't seen her in a while."

"I guess so," His friend said, chucking a balled up napkin at him. "You plannin' on hittin' on her tonight?"

"What? No…I was just trying to start a normal conversation. Jeez, gimme a break, Blank!"

"You, a normal conversation? Your whole life consists of only two things: Theft and Sex. And I'm pretty sure when you're not trying to charm some broad off her feet your thinking about it. You're an oversexed teenager with a knack for robbin' people. Now am I right, or am I right?"

Said boy huffed, crossing his arms over his chest and looking away. The others laughed in agreement, each one with their own say of the situation. But Zidane was neither impressed nor flattered. He didn't think he was either of those things. Well, except for being good at stealing. That he was good at. And he might be a little woman hungry, but that wasn't a bad thing, right? He wasn't exactly the definition of a whore. It was mostly the attention he loved, and he found he could get it best by flirting. The girls would always swoon over his rehearsed charm and grace. He was the epitome of an extraordinary actor when it came to pick up lines and tall tell lies of beauty and infatuation.

But he couldn't deny his need to have some beauty beneath him whenever he could, given the chance.

But being able to sate his lust required a great deal of effort.

"C'mon Zi, I'm only joking," Blank remarked, "Stop taking things so seriously."

He hadn't noticed when it happened, but Blank had moved from his seat to stand behind him, leaning over his shoulder to reach out and pull at his cheeks.

"You know I hate to see that frown on such a cute little face."

A bit agitated, he blushed and batted away the hands, rubbing his cheeks. "What the hell Blank? Cut that out!"

Outwardly he growled, but inwardly he was beginning to laugh himself. He couldn't really be mad. They always did things like this. That's what their good friendship had been mended with so many years ago. And you know you're one hundred percent comfortable with someone when you can crack a sexual joke, physical or verbal, and still have both parties laughing at it. They knew you were joking, and you knew it was a joke. It was a mutual understanding that had translated into a comical sense of attitude.

It was outgoing and strangely familiar.

"Oh? Is that a smile I see on Mr. Tribal's face?"

He snorted, trying to stiffen his mouth when he felt to corners lifting gently in a wayward smile.

"Tch, no."

In false agreement Blank swayed his head from side to side with his head tipped upward, pushing his lower lip out slightly. "Mm-hm…alright." He folded his arms, grinning from ear to ear.

That was it. At the gesture Zidane burst out into a fit of laughter, clutching his stomach and hunching over the table.

It ended with the cheerful sound of beer glasses being set down in the center of the table. And suddenly the regular noises of the pub stood as background senses; the sound of chatter from the other men at their chosen tables, and the clanking of glasses at each cheer and salute of opportunity. Then there were the sweet whispers of fizz in the Treno brew, and sweet lime flavored shots, cups oozing with the foaming liquid of exciting forgetfulness.

A single light flickered. But it went unnoticed. Eager hands went out, outstretched and wiling to grab the first of many rounds of alcohol they were to consume that night.

"Time to get drunk!" Marcus exclaimed, grinning when the others joined in, leaning forward to smack their glasses into one another and letting some of the sweet liquid spill out and onto the table.

Like usual, their first drink was in unison, which quickly turned into multiple. The bar maid they had first encountered was coming back more and more, her clothes blurring with the background. And soon enough, like clockwork, Zidane felt he needed to be noticed amongst his brothers.

Maybe it was the heavy buzz of drunkenness that settled so fondly in his mind, but he was beginning to feel gutsy. It made him grin.

He sat back with only one hand on his glass, tail swaying idly behind him while his eyes beamed with mischief. "Hey Gabi!"

Blank threw him a humorous stare from across the table. He set down his glass and swallowed the mouthful, turning to laugh. "Oh no, looks like he's already had too much to drink. He's getting' that look in his eyes."

Cinna nearly giggled. "Ladies and Gentlemen, place your bets!"

"You guuuuuys. Stop that! 'm not gunna' h—"

"Hey there, sugar. What can I do for you?"

There she stood, ready and willing before he could even force out the rest of his sentence. With her order board in one hand, she fingered the pen in the other, smiling down at him.

"Heeeeey Gabi," Zidane slurred, chuckling at his own lack of sobriety. He knew he was getting drunk. And he liked it. "I wuz wn'dern…w-what wuz such a …a pretty girl doin' workin' n a place like this."

It was his opening act. And most likely, she would take the bait. If it wasn't the 'I'm innocently devious' look on his face that would win her over, it would be the fact that he'd managed to keep that same look as his tail slid right under dress. It fluttered against her inner thighs, making not only her hair stand on end, but his fur as well. It was a mutual sensation of surprising lust.

"Aw guys, looks like the little kitten is goin' for the win tonight!"

Zidane didn't catch it, but Blank did. He grinned at Marcus, laughing at the inside joke while the man placed more gil on the table for his bet.

"Kitten," the Bar maid asked in a baby voice, fingering the blonde boy's chin thoughtfully. "And does this kitten purr too?"

He was too far gone to catch the joke.

He didn't miss a beat. Not with his mind on that one track he'd been on since the booze kicked in.

"Bet I kn' make yooooou purr, baby…"

She giggled, turning to wave at the owner to let him know she'd be a while before turning back around and taking a seat on his lap. She was interested now.

"Oh, I bet you could…" She tossed an arm around his shoulders, looking across the table at the red head. "So…you gonna' tell this little 'kitten' story, hun? There has to be a reason for such a cute little nickname…Or do I have to beg for it," She asked with a pout, sticking more than just her lower lip out. She seemed to be overly confident that the shirt she'd chosen to wear that day wasn't as small as it looked around the bulk of her spilling breasts.

"Well..." Blank began, laughing a little. He looked to Zidane. Although he was paying more attention to the ample breasts in front of him, he was fairly certain he'd not want his moment ruined. "Eh…it's just a little inside joke," He said, deciding to give the boy a break.

But Marcus was already laughing at the remembrance.

"Ya' see…" He began, ignoring the bothered look Blank shot him.

For years Marcus and Blank had been taunting their younger tailed 'brother' after discovering one of his awkward mannerisms one morning.

It was only for fun, of course. They'd never actually tried to bother him with it.

'The Kitten', Zidane was known as.

As Marcus began to tell the story, Blank remembered it just a little differently…

They were all a few years younger, around thirteen, when they'd had their first 'Night Out'. As Baku had dubbed it, it was a night to bring his young ones into adulthood, and it only began with alcohol. In the era they grew up in age was never the question when it came to having a good time.

And breaking these boys into full maturity meant women were involved as well.

But on this night of initiation Zidane proved far more rambunctious. As usual, he was determined to prove a point that he was a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, luck was not on his side that night.

Somewhere in the midst of all the excitement, he'd had far more to drink than he could take in a single sitting— a feat he'd tried to accomplish in an attempt at showing his brothers up. Halfway through the night he would soon learn that patience is a virtue.

Heaving with nausea, the remainder of his time there was spent with either him clinging to the table miserably, or hunched over a bucket in agony.

The night was supposed to end with him, like the rest of his Tantalus brothers, taking a woman to his bed, but instead he'd ended up shunning them away. With a stomach still full of unsteady liquid and a head full of haze, seducing women was the last thing on his mind. While the others were charming the beautiful women looking for love in the pub, he was slouched in his chair, worn out and clutching his stomach. His head was pounding and his legs were weak.

Had it not been for the shoulder Blank offered, he'd be face first over the table.

And he was grateful that Blank had turned down the women that night, if only to help him through.

It meant a lot to him. It told him he wasn't alone. And when you're so ill you can't walk straight, a little mercy goes a long way. Being so defenseless scares you, and a hand to keep you steady is reassurance.

He didn't remember it, but he'd fallen asleep in Blank's bed that night, clutching to the bulk of the other's arm like a life raft. And he never let go.

Because of the other's 'successful' night, there was a heavy scent of sex in the air, fresh from the night before. The girls the other members had brought home—surprisingly, even Cinna— had just left, and when the other members of Tantalus awoke to find the blonde boy curled so affectionately around Blank, they were howling with laughter. Would it not have been for Zidane's heavy sleeping, he would have easily come to. But no, it was his bedmate that roused from his slumber, rubbing his eyes grumpily.

"What the hell's so funny?" He grumbled. But even as the words left his mouth he registered the weight at his side, felt the sturdy grip on his arm. "…Oh."

"You guys have fun last night?" Marcus snickered. He knew they weren't like that, but it was fun to poke at the situation. After all, that's what they always did. "You didn't get 'im pregnant, did you?"

Blank grinned. "Oh, loooooads of fun. Hell, he might be carrying twins."

A grungy shirt was hurled across the room, and Blank caught it with ease. He tossed it back with more force and a laugh, mock arguing with its owner. Apparently, the others were too tired to push it any further. Silence once more filled the room.

Lucky, Blank thought. HE didn't really feel like defending himself right then; too tiring.

It brought his thoughts back to the situation.

The softness of another's skin warmed his own.

Now that he thought about it, he silently wished maybe he had left Zidane for a while the previous night, long enough to find a girl of his tastes. Then he'd feel the same sated urge of actual intercourse and gentle sensations of a good night the others felt. He imagined it would be nice to fall asleep that way, hugging her close and falling asleep against her warmth and soft skin.

But no, he'd already chosen. Regret or no, he was still glad for what he'd done. He had a feeling he'd have been guilty had things gone differently.

Well, he thought, at least he didn't have to sleep alone. Some warmth was better than no, no matter who provided it.

He sighed, trying to shift into a better position without waking Zidane.

As a result of his movements, the sheets ruffled. Suddenly the bed seemed smaller; the weight of the other had moved closer as well. Had he moved? Or was it Blank who moved closer?


While the others continued, one by one, to fully wake up, Blank noticed the grimace on Zidane's face.

He frowned, wanting to watch his peaceful expression instead. He looked hurt, just like he had the night before. Was it the alcohol that still haunted his immune system so? Or was it the tiny glimpse of a nightmare trying to work its way into his consciousness?

Either way, the nurturing side of Blank wanted to help the smaller boy. Self consciously his eyes flickered around the room to assure the spotlight was elsewhere.

He laid a hand on the back of Zidane's head, pulling him closer to lie against his chest very lightly. If he was lucky it would be enough to calm him. With the others still in the room it would be more difficult to try his usual method. So his tactic of the age old motherly gesture was all he could do.

It did little to help though, and Blank became anxious. What if Zidane started having a nightmare, screaming and kicking out like he often did as a child? He was still rather young. And to grow out of such a thing would take more time to heal his emotional scars.

He wanted to be able to reach out and hold him like he used to, to comfort him easily with his hands and body heat.

Inevitably the others would see should he go through with it, but with this situation he decided maybe he could brush it off. He could do that for Zidane.

He'd do anything for Zidane.

The boy could have still been sick. The thought of a grotesque protein spill crossed his mind and it made his nose scrunch up. The smell alone would be enough to make him sick. And with Zidane being so close, there would be no way of avoiding it.

"I think its dead," He whispered to him, trying to soften the mood by poking the blonde's arm with his finger. He mistook the resulting noise as a sign of awareness and misjudged the movement.

"Why don't ya' give him CPR?"

Apparently, he'd been heard by someone else.

Blank grunted. "He was sick last night; really sick. I'm sure you'd 've done the same if you were in his position," he opposed in contrast, gesturing to the younger male newly curled much like a child in its mother's arms in the crook of his arm and chest.

Marcus tried to stifle the laughter in his throat with a cough. "What, and cuddle next to you at night?" He couldn't hide the sheer amusement in his tone.

Blank shook his head, laughing to himself. "You're an ass."

They were all near their own beds and cots, so by time the initial event had blown over none of them could really see what was going on when Blank moved a little closer. Besides, the boy against him had his back to the wall. There was a good chance no one would notice with his functional arm being the one near the wall as well.

The grimace was still there, meaning whatever ailed him had continued to. In response he tried the only effective thing he knew, what he'd been doing for years to soothe him; he reached over with his free hand and began to lightly stroke the back of his head, fingers lacing through the slightly matted hair near the tied string hanging loosely at his neck. He tugged it lower to get a better range. Stroking gently, he was careful not to tangle the already messy tresses.

He smiled comfortably in the dim light, his hand sliding over the ponytail and down the back of his neck, and down over the loose fabric of his tank, coming up over the hem of his belt free pants, and glided through the length of the bristling fur. It wasn't a scrape of fingernails, or the pressure of his fingers that changed. It was the same gentle touch that ghosted this path repeatedly. When his fingertips first reached the base of his back, he massaged his fingers through the tiny bristles of hair, pulling his nails down against that firm softness as he swept through the rest.

It never failed to calm the boy down, acting as a counter to his worries. No matter if he was fully awake or not, restless tail or limply lifeless; it always worked.

Zidane, Blank thought, mirrored a cat in this manner. In retrospect the tiny felines loved this kind of 'petting', as he called it. In fact, they often dozed off when you did it. He guessed it was a similar feeling to when you let someone else comb through your hair. You love the feeling of someone else doing it, and it almost lulls you to sleep. But you can barely feel it if you did it yourself.

It was a funny thought sometimes, thinking his friend resembled such a small animal. What, with him being human and all. But the thought did cross his mind more than once. He supposed it's what made him so at ease at times like these. It made all the more sense to think it wasn't an eccentric occurrence. Maybe there were others just like Zidane somewhere, and maybe they too liked this sort of thing.

But the image of grown men and women stroking each other's tails was a little less innocent in Blank's mind. His hand faltered slightly as he whisked the thought away.

There was only one Zidane whether he was part of a specific race or not. And what he liked and disliked measured up to only the reality that everyone has different tastes. He wasn't a cat, and he wasn't an animal. He was just Zidane.

His eyes had slid shut in the now serene room, giving him more room for his thoughts. Vaguely he registered a nearly inaudible noise. His smile grew, and he nearly laughed.

Only Zidane could be the culprit of such an odd noise. Similar to a moan and less than a sigh, it rumbled through his chest. The tone was often set light with a hint of unfamiliarity. But as an other noise, grunt, or sigh he made in his lifetime it held the mark of himself. It was throaty but light, almost always a cross between a growl and a groan. He could never quite tell exactly what it was, but he liked hearing it. And he could only hear it when moments like this came along.

"Zidane," He whispered, opening his eyes, and running his nails along the length of the tail, only to have it pull from his grip at the end to pat against the window side bed. "Zidane, are you awake?"


Blank sighed, bringing that hand up to trail his fingers from neck to spine, massaging the very back of his tail where, he imagined, the light skin connected gradually with darker bits of fur underneath the shirt and pants. He stroked the sides with his thumb and pointer finger before returning to running the length of it in a closed palm. He felt the other's back arch slightly each time he'd run his hands down that prickling length, chuckling softly to himself at the reactions he was invoking. The image of a cat appeared in his mind again as his fingers tickled the bareness of his lower back, before returning to rubbing a path down to that fur once more.

And there it was.

The distant drum of a throaty voice returned and blossomed; a noise that could almost be called a 'Purr'.

The gripping fingers around Blank's arm loosened considerably, and he shifted his weight to get a better hold of the thumping appendage in his hand, trying to keep it from wriggling free of his touch. He hated to let it slip from his grip, liking the feel of it on his finer tips. Admitting, he loved Zidane's tail. Ever since he'd met him as a child he'd found an oddly affectionate curiosity in the anomaly protruding from the boy's lower back.

But always with this little game, it was like cat and mouse.

Just when he thought he had his prey in his hands; it was whisked away. Whether it wanted the attention or not: he wasn't sure. The same could be said for the boy who owned it. But he had a guess it was a good sensation, given his reactions.

"…Zidane," He tried again. "Hey…wake up."

He stopped the petting long enough to place both his hands on his shoulders, gently shaking him. He always knew when the scene had to stop. He knew it probably looked questionable to any onlookers who may have caught him in the act. And he wasn't that willing to be pegged as something he wasn't.

But as soon as he did, the action was interrupted by a very confused Marcus.

"…—the hell is that gurgling noise?"

Blank was now aware of how loud the sound had become. And suddenly he was embarrassed, knowing full well what it was and how it had happened. And he didn't exactly want to explain that he'd been practically feeling up his fellow Tantalus brother while he slept, that he was sating his ever curious lust for that tail of his and how it worked…

And what it made Zidane do.

That noise.

He swallowed. "I think it's….Zidane….making that noise." It was the truth, yes. But he acted like he didn't know why he was making that sound.

Even after the attention to his tail, Zidane was still feeling the affects. Or so it seemed. But looks could be deceiving.

"What? HE'S making that sound? How in the hell—"

He leaned in close, wrinkling his brows in silence before confirming the noises. He started to laugh. "Is he…is he purring?"

Thankfully Marcus was the only one left in the room besides himself and Zidane's now waking form.

Blank shook his head with a sigh.

What started out as a simple joke had ended up being the joke of a lifetime, one that still had the two of them laughing. Zidane, of course, was always embarrassed beyond belief, denying it had ever happened. He didn't remember the petting, which Blank was thankful he wasn't interrogated for. But that didn't stop Marcus from referring to him as Blank's 'Kitten'. Thankfully, the possessive noun was only mentioned in private.

Blank always denied the rather intimate title, deciding it was best not to claim such a thing. Joke or not, he wasn't trying to make the situation into something it wasn't.

And yet somehow throughout the years, Blank had begun to feel proud at the title.

He was strangely proud to know he was probably the only one who could make the smaller thief make such feline-feminine noises. A goal perhaps it was, and one that could give him the upper hand in any argument.

Who else would have the time to search such spots? Girls were only one night stands who, from visual experience have tended to ignore that tail of his. And none of the other boys really held enough curiosity to find out.

But Blank did.

In an…unknown kind of way that bordered on curiosity and infatuation; a weird obsession that kept him balancing on a string of 'What if's.

He wasn't worried though. He knew he wasn't 'playing for the other team'. He loved girls, and sex with a woman was all he sought after in the subject. He held no desire to be with a man.

And then…there was a tail.

"Oooh," She cooed. "So he does purr…"

She had turned her attention back to Zidane with renewed interest. "Well aren't you just adorable!"

Zidane was already far gone, tail twitching around her waist in drunken affection. He was leaning slightly forward, eyes hungry and body eager. No amount of words could save the situation, or make it any less sexual. It was clear the younger thief wouldn't be sleeping alone tonight.

Well, at least not for an hour or so.

She leaned in, giving him a chaste kiss to his temple as she squealed over his boyish looks. Even as his tail wound around her waist it went unnoticed.

Blank visibly frowned.

Seeing any part of him going ignored almost made him angry. In a way he felt like Zidane was being used which, ironically was what they all did to the women. They used women as a way to sate their sexual urges before sending them on their way. There wee no other emotions attached. But with Zidane…

Blank felt the anger in him stir, and he couldn't quite place the emotion that came with it. Zidane was different, different from the women at the pub, and different than those on the streets. He felt that if anyone was interested in him, they should take interest in every part of him.

Just like the many women Zidane had encountered thus far, she was oblivious to his tail. It could have been that she wasn't paying attention, or that the little sips of brew she'd been sneaking, or even the tightness of her corset that had her body numb, but she didn't take notice.

From past experience, this act could turn into something quite nasty. Some people were so blatant about their unwillingness to get involved with someone of animal decent. This woman could be no different than the nobles in Treno who shunned the likes. And with Zidane's birth given appendage so unacknowledged the outcome of his and her little escapade was unclear.

His blood boiled. A knot twisted in his chest, his stomach churned.

But instead of voicing his opinions, he chose to brush the unknown feeling away. "Aw Zidane, I think she likes you." He was good at acting. It saved him.

He saw the wide grin Zidane displayed, and the shaky hands that fingered the lacings on the girl's bodice. It was clear he'd had enough for the night. He was ready to leave, and he wore a look that read he was hell bent on taking her with him.

"How 'bout we go elz'where…" He slurred in a whisper, face pressed against her neck with a deep inhale. "…Alone."

She nodded with a giggle, encircling his shoulders with her arms. Flirtatiously she pinched his ear, running her hand down the side of his neck.

When she rose to stand she let her other hand drop to glide across the front of his pants, teasing the lifting length just beneath. The tail around her waist slipped from her, falling into its calm sagging position at his rear.

She didn't seem to feel it. It left Blank to wonder how anyone could miss such a thing. Maybe she was just as dense as her words.

She helped him to stand when he couldn't on his own, laughing giddily at the boys' looks.

"You don't mind lil' ol' me takin' Ziddy here for a while, do you?"

Her apologetic smile was irresistible to the already drunken males still sitting. All agreed except for Blank, who waved his hand in dismissal, taking in the rest of his glass in large gulps. He was still mad at her. But at this point he couldn't remember why.

Maybe, he figured, he was jealous Zidane was about to take her to his bed when he himself didn't have someone.

'Yeah, that's why,' He tried to convince himself.

In truth, he'd forgotten the real reason why. But the unknown emotions still ran through his system when he watched the two slither on out, her arm around his shoulders.

Weaving through the empty streets, the pair somehow made it back to the Tantalus hideout. Through stumbles and sexual jaunting, Zidane had managed to keep his current company entertained, all the while keeping a distance behind. It was amazing how evasive his tail could be to her, how even now she'd yet to notice it.

In Zidane it was something else to see such an aloof nature of drunkenness become something so sexual and outwardly appealing. Even as he nearly fell it made the girl's eyes sparkle with unmistakable lust. Clearly she was on that one same track as he. And just as he, she was determined to see it through to the end.

She was hooked. And he was reeling her in with every second that passed.

"Hunny, you sure are somethn' else."

When they breached the doorway he was teeming with need. She padded softly past him. The scent of her body oils swept in a warm breeze past him, and that was it. He didn't want to miss his chance.

Now in the privacy of the secluded home, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her to the closest bed, wasting no time in easing her down onto the fabrics. His immediate kiss was sloppy and uncoordinated, but she paid it no mind. To anyone on the verge of drunkenness themselves it was erotic and sexual. It meant hunger of another kind. It promised passion to a greater level. She reveled in the knowingness of what was to come.

She heaved a needy moan and her breasts nearly spilled from her top completely when she stretched back. With him pressed do tightly to her it was near impossible to catch a breath. Already, she was panting. But she kissed back, helping him to unlace the corset tied so tightly around her waist.

"My, oh my…so quick…" She cooed breathlessly.

She counter acted with her hands unclasping his various belts, ripping them from his pants. "I'll never understand why a cutie like you would be wear'n such baggy pants."

Things were heating up fast with only one thing on their minds.

Slowly she tugged his pants down, impatiently waiting to see her prize. But something caught in the back and stopped her midway. She huffed adoringly when he leant down for another kiss; her hands reaching back to find whatever had snagged. A clasp or button, she imagined. Some simple and easy to detach so she could have her way with him.

Zidane pushed up against her as her hands fondled his lower back.

She pulled away, her fingers unable to find the problem. She felt around, trying so hard to concentrate while he busied himself with thrusting up against her still clothed form.


She nearly jumped when she lowered her grip on him. Fur met fingers in a gentle brush.

She wasn't expecting it. She'd found the reason for the snag, and she wasn't too thrilled about it. She pushed him away enough to turn him sideways, thinking her eyes were deceiving her.

She sat up as best she could. "What's that?" She asked.

He looked back before returning her confused look. "My tail."


She shook her head, almost in disbelief. "…Is it real?"

He nodded, still confused.

"I...I didn't know you were one of those animal people…things."


When she pushed past him and stood up she frowned horribly. How she could have missed it, she started to wondered. It was longer than his arm. And yet…

"You always had it?"

Again, he nodded. Now, her evening was ruined. She was already reaching to retie her candy colored corset. And there would be no rendezvous for her, not tonight.

And not with him.

"Oh goodness," She sighed, pausing a moment. "I'm sorry hun, I really am. I just…I'm not int'rested in you kinda' people."

He shot her an odd look, one that turned depressive when she turned to leave. And when she was gone, he was left to slink off the bed with only his thoughts. His pants were still slightly pulled down, his vest almost completely fallen and his tank ruffled considerably. He sat, facing the bed, mind barely registering what had just happened.

Had he been rejected?

He rubbed his face with his hands, trying to think straight.

A slow kind of melancholy settled in him at the realization. And it drained away a little of the alcohol. As he became more aware of the situation he also became aware of the still pulsing organ between his legs.


A lust not yet sated. And the price he was paying for being a little different in the world.

He scoffed miserably, setting into a sense of normalcy with an angry growl.

With a while to spare, his mind pushed his lonely feelings aside. His hand reached down to pull his erection free of its bindings—being a little harsher than needed— and letting it lean over the hem of his pants. One hand gripped the side of the bed, his forehead now pushing against the cool fabric as his other hand went to work relieving the tension in his groin.

Alone. It was such a contrast to the situation he'd just been in. All because of a stupid thing. And now, instead of being deep within a beautiful woman he was hollowed inside his own trembling grip. It was no different than any other time, save for the bruising hit to his ego.

When he came, it was unfulfilling. Although he heaved his breathe there was the element of company he missed. There was no one to share it with.

He sighed shakily, trying to clean the minimal mess he'd made with one of his dirtied shirts on the floor. He fixed his pants when he stood on wobbly legs, moving to lay flat on the surface of the bed. His thoughts came back, fluttering against the loneliness inside his heart.

He found he was a little more sober. Amazing what a rush of blood could do to clear your system.

And there, reality began to sink in.

Back at the pub, his remaining brothers were still having a good time. Most of them, like the other men there, were still drinking. But for Blank, he'd chosen to sober up some with a few tall glasses of water. He'd wanted to go and check up on his friend, even with Marcus' jokes of Zidane 'getting a good ride'. There was still something nagging him in the back of his mind. It was something he just couldn't shake off.

And it was confirmed when the flirtatious barmaid made a hurried entrance, taking no time in rushing back to her job.

"Well that was quick!"

Blank's frown grew. " Yeah…"

He refused to listen to the jokes being made about it. His mind was already going through scenarios of what could have happened.

The hideout wasn't very far away, about five minutes or so in walking distance. The air cabs made it possible for the fastest travel. And night time air travel made it especially more plausible that the reason this woman had returned in thirty minutes was not because she'd been quick. No, Blank suspected a hasty get a way that somehow involved hurting his friend.

He knew what would happen.

In a split second he'd made up his mind. He was going to check on Zidane; whether he wanted the attention or not. Maybe Zidane was handling it well back home. Or maybe he was angry at the dense woman. He couldn't know until he saw him for sure. But he knew he wanted to see, just to know he was alright.

"I think I'm gonna' head back for the night since Zidane's done. I'm feelin' tired."

It was the perfect cover, his casual tone hinting nothing more than what was said. He stood up, noticing that none of them were even listening. Of course they weren't listening; they were drunk. Luck was really on his side today.

Shaking his head, he stood up before his seat and waving off the others.

"See ya'."

Making his way out the door he took a deep breath to calm his nerves. The breeze swept across his skin in threads of consolation, and he picked up his pace only a little.

As he walked down the cobblestone streets in Lindblum he felt a little more at ease. The air was crisp and cool, the sounds minimal and faint, and the weather was the perfect temperature. He inhaled deep, letting it out slowly in a content sigh. Surely whatever alcohol was left in his system would dissipate with the rush of sobriety flowing through the night time breeze.

And it was enough to help him think of a plan of action. The walk home helped him think a little straighter, walk a little calmer, and react a little better. He wouldn't want to make any situation he might walk into worse.

When he stumbled into their home, the hideout, he was feeling refreshed. But the sight of Zidane made that good feeling flutter.

He watched with heavy eyes as his best friend hunched over his knees, sitting otherwise quietly on the edge of the bed, shoulders shaking slightly.

Was he crying?

Maybe it was the upright fetal position he was currently in, but the scene could almost pass for comical had it been the right setting. It made his heart ache in a way, with that brotherly protectiveness tugging at his consciousness like it usually did when the younger thief was in trouble. It didn't matter the situation; like a motherly instinct, he'd always try to help. He couldn't understand why he felt closer to him above the others.

But he did.

Softly he strode over to the boy, feeling completely comfortable as he sat down on the bed, encircling an arm around shaking shoulders. It was a brotherly gesture. It was casual.


There was a flinch at the embrace, accompanied by a sharp intake of breath.

"C'mon now, what the hell are you cryin' over?"

His only answer was watching the other curl up tighter, pushing his face tightly against his knees. Only for a second it was, for he lifted his head a moment later. Slow and steady. When he looked over, his eyes were glistening. They were swollen with tears, the liquid making way and sliding down in a clear trail across his cheeks.

"I'm sure it's not as serious as you're makin' it out to be."

Defeated, the boy's lower lip trembled. "I ain't cryin'…"

"You're a terrible liar."

Blonde hair shook as he buried his face back against his knees. He was embarrassed. And now he was getting angry; he just wanted his friend to leave him alone. What right did he have to make him feel worse? He was already humiliated. And now he had the honor of crying in front of the one person he knew the most, the one person he'd always tried to be strong for.

His self worth was crumbling. He hated showing weakness. Being strong minded meant everything to him. It gave him the chance to prove he was something more than someone to be taken lightly. Being strong meant he could conquer the world with just a smile, just a joke and a little hard will. He could be named as someone courageous, someone who never backs down and always pulls through.

But now, he couldn't even find the words to express himself.

He sniffled, whipping his face with the back of his hand. "I…." He closed his mouth, hesitating. "…"


Zidane paused a moment more, suddenly feeling childish. His cheeks flared with embarrassment. "…She didn't want me 'cuz of my tail." He whispered. "That's why she left."

He could guess how he looked now, so against his nature to throw a crying tantrum over something like this. But he'd dealt with it for years, and after being turned away nearly each time by the various women he'd sought after it suddenly became a problem. But, with the problem being attached to him, he was unable to rid himself of it. So he was stuck in a rut, so to speak.

Blank shrugged. "Maybe she just didn't fancy it. Some girls are finicky like that." He looked away for a moment, and then added thoughtfully, "There's other fish in the sea."

"I know…"

"So why the long face then? It's not like you to sulk."

True, it wasn't. But he wanted to blame it on the alcohol to wet his gears. With the haze of alcohol breaking down his barriers he had nothing to build his wall of protection with. And when the tides of reality hit; he was left with the despair of having to deal with his own problems. He was forced to face them. He couldn't just smile and push them away like usual. And that he didn't like.

"You should get some sleep. You're prob'ly still a little drunk, so you won't even remember being sad in the morning," Blank offered. "So how about i—"

His sentence was jostled when Zidane reacted on impulse, and Blank barely caught him when he hurled himself against his chest.

He held him there, offering—not for the first time— a shoulder to lean on. He was silent. Whatever sadness his friend was feeling, it was good to know that he could help to comfort him.

Even as it was something as nominal as having a tail.

Continuing his hold on him, he stroked the lightened strands of hair on the back of his head. He smiled, giving in to his own impulses. "That's a stupid thing to be self conscious about…a tail."

The hand that he held against Zidane's shoulder blade moved lower.

There was that strange emotion he had coming back to haunt him. His chest felt a little tight, but he cleared his throat and thought of other things. Like Zidane.

He wondered how he felt through all of this. It was easy enough to just tell him to get over it, that there will always be bad days among the good ones. He could tell him to stop being so girly about it and to move on. But now, he knew, he didn't want to. The only thing he wanted to do was steady the hand over his back and try his best to console him without making himself feel any less masculine himself.

Hah, he laughed inwardly. Fat chance of that one. He probably looked like quite the flip, a jeering word to describe a sensitive man.

So he would use his hands to provide the emotional healing this night. But through an unknown embarrassment and fear, like always he'd only allowed the physical contact when they were alone and out of visible reach. A time like in the here and now, when it were only them to react.

He wasn't sure why exactly, but it bothered him to let others know about this. It was a well kept secret both Zidane and he hid from the others. Should he let it out he might be judged. And for what he'd be judged for…he wasn't ready to deal with.

His hand hesitated as his thoughts shifted gradually.

Zidane had always been the smaller male out of the group, dwarfed even to some, next to a normal human's height. One could guess he was about five feet, give or take a few inches. He was loud and outgoing in any situation, forcing people to recognize him. It was probably a way of disguising his height, Blank guessed. But Zidane never talked about it; how small he was he was compared to others. Maybe it never bothered him. Or maybe he just never cared.

It was difficult to tell with him sometimes. In many ways he seemed so eccentric, so unique, and so…different.

He was androgynous by nature, with his semi circular face and smaller chin, with eyes shaped so wide it was far from the normal elegance. They held a sense of boldness and vulnerability and nativity all wrapped up in a single note. His waist had kept its lithe shape as he grew, and his hips were a tad broader than naturally masculine. Although he had the body of a toned male, he definitely had a curl about his body that couldn't go unnoticed. He was graceful yet energetic, appearing somewhat concise with the length of his dark honey hair tied at the back of such a slender neck. Not a strand ever seemed out of place. It had always managed to frame his face perfectly. Even when he came home with a tangled mess atop his head it seemed to fit him.

And then there was that anomaly hanging just at the beginning curve of his buttocks.

From first, and most, glances, he appears completely human. His height may be different from many, but besides his tail there really isn't much to set him apart from the other humans of Lindblum. Listlessly soft to the touch with the contradictory roughness of the actual fur, the appendage always seemed to display its owner's attitude. Swaying when he was calm, thumping against his heels at anger, swinging from side to side when he gets excited, and interestingly bristled with surprise. It was both bold in strength and sensitive to touch. The tail was truly an accent to the young thief.

But what purpose had he been given to have been born with such a thing? Humans certainly don't need them. Are they to help balance the already pretty stable equilibrium in a human? Certainly a tail was not essential for survival. And he was sure the original anatomical blueprints hadn't included such an oddity as a sensuous attribute, considering the numerous people who'd decided to discard the thought that his tail even existed.

So why had Zidane been given such an enigmatic trait? Was it really as purely for looks as he was beginning to wonder? Was it to distinguish him above all the rest that he, like the others unknown to his race, was different?

Another question. What race was he?

No one knew. But then again, no one in Tantalus had ever really talked about it.

Until now, Blank figured. Maybe it was time he voiced his opinions.

"You've never worried about it before. Why the sudden change?"

He heard the hiccup, felt the tremor. Clearly Zidane was frustrated with himself. "It keeps happening…them n' this…stupid tail…"


Blank felt him fidget in his arms, warm skin grazing across the rough patches of diverse textures of his own skin. The feel of this simple friction was oddly comforting.

It was tangible.

"I just…why does everyone think it's weird I have a tail?"

Blank could understand the confusion, what with the many different species living together in one city. It was easy to wonder why anyone should even question his appearance. There were many different races living together in Gaia, and especially in cities like Lindblum. And yet…

Blank smiled, pulling Zidane close and letting the hand on his back shift lower, slipping down under the back of his loosened pants undeterred. Fingertips brushed the paper thin hairs spotting his lower back, barely touching the base of his tail.

The touch itself wasn't a sexual gesture, as it never was. But there was something about it that seemed a little off, a little too comfortable.

"They're just not used to seeing it."

His fingers hesitated. For a moment it almost felt wrong to have his hands on his younger friend in such a way. He was his brother by nature, but stranger by blood. What was once a childhood comfort now seemed awkward with his fingers underneath the barriers of clothing. Not only were it that, but his goal was something positioned dangerously close to what could possibly cross the line, should his fingers stray.

And suddenly, he imagined reaching out and petting that tail to be strangely inappropriate. He wasn't sure why.

Was it the change in age now?

Did growing up have something to do with it? It hadn't been that long since he'd done this.

"…" Zidane was silent. He wasn't going to complain or decline the comfort. He never did. And that made the situation worse.

Blank pulled his hand away, rubbing in circles on the small of Zidane's back instead while the other lay gently on his shoulder blade. He didn't want to cross that forbidden friendship line. And he felt he might if he'd gone any further. Not that he wanted to, but the whole idea of it was beginning to rattle him.

He was beginning to feel weird now, the third person vision of him with his hands down Zidane's pants being the key element of embarrassment. He shook his head with a sigh, closing his eyes. Maybe things had changed.

It was a shock when the body in his arms shifted upward, bringing the fur into contact with his end fingers just barely.

He was actually encouraging him.

"…You…don't wan'na touch it anymore….?"

That startled him. He opened his eyes. And for a moment he was confused. "Huh?"

With his mind in the gutter for a moment he quickly recovered. Then it hit him. Was Zidane worried now that Blank too was beginning to despise his difference in the world?

The look he was given prevented any further conversation at the moment. So he sat in his stupor, eyes lingering on the half hearted, near smiling face of Zidane. He paused in consideration, fingers twitching thoughtfully.


His curiosity returned. He mentally argued that it was the permission he'd been granted that egged him on.

A question prodded at his senses. It was one he'd never thought of asking.

"…Do you like it?"

He took the invitation, giving in to his hand's desires. The tail twitched in his grip when he ran a hand down its length, rolling the tip between his fingers while his other hand repeated the path from base to tip. He didn't begin at the back of his neck like he usually did. That was only something he'd be willing to do while his friend slept. Otherwise he'd be too embarrassed; it was a little too intrusive for him to openly commit to.

And it was a little weirder in an affectionate sense.

Zidane fidgeted, shifting his weight multiple times and rolling his shoulders forward, seeming to ache with the need to lie down. It didn't look very comfortable, sitting against him the way he was…

Things were beginning to feel differently now, Blank thought. With that body against him; arching into his touch like the animals he resembled in times like these, the fur covering that wriggling tail fanning out to meet his touch. And there, he heard, was that sound again. Stunningly it was a rare moment to find him doing it so openly. After denying any previous accounts of such noises, he was sure being courageous.

Only this time, it had a slightly different pitch to it.

Low and husky, Blank could see the visible quake in the blonde's throat when he looked down and angled his neck to get a better view. He leaned back, noticing the other's eyes had slid shut, his mouth hesitant as it opened and closed slowly. There were also the beginnings of a blush tinting his cheeks.

Maybe he was getting a little embarrassed too.


But he felt it again; this was wrong.

On an animal it was normal. No one would consider these reactions to be affectionate and normal gestures if they knew it was coming from Zidane. No, in fact, it was beginning to sound like quite the sexual innuendo. But Blank almost couldn't find the means to cast away his curiosity. It grew somewhere far out of his reach.

His conscious told him to stop. This situation was beginning to get uncomfortable; he feared it would only lead to something he wasn't sure he was willing to go through with.

It was a little more than odd. "Hey. Now, don't you go fallin' asleep on me," He teased, trying to make the silence less awkward. "Can't have anyone thinkin' anything funny 'bout us."

His voice seemed to bring Zidane from his sleepy trance, and he brought his head up with an expression on his face that was so unlike him. And Blank couldn't place it.

He was still stroking that tail with his hand, not realizing his other hand was practically massaging the back of his hip bone as well.

When he did realize it, he stopped, pulling both hands back immediately. "What's that look for?" He asked, joking away his apprehension.

Trying to make himself more comfortable, Blank slid back against the propped up pillows. Zidane didn't notice right away, being as caught up in the moment as he was, but now that he'd come to he lowered his gaze, nearly collapsing on Blank's chest. He nuzzled him, mewling deep in the back of his throat.

"Mmmn, you gonna' sing me to sleep too?"

He chuckled, pressing his cheek against his chest with a grin.

"Tch, like hell I am," Blank teased, pushing him off his chest. "Now get over to your own bed so I can sleep."

"Awww, but Bla~ank. I don't like sleeping near Cinna. He snores too much and he smells like pickles."

Blank couldn't help but smile. Just like that, as it always went, the near intimacy switched into a comical moment between the two.

"I don't care. Now go, before I kick you over there."

He watched as Zidane pushed away from the bed dramatically—a move that almost sent him crashing to the floor with traces of alcohol still in his system— and play stepping across the floor. "Oh woeful am…" He had to think of the words. "…I! ...That mine heart hath be shattered!" He roared. "Why, oh blessed love, why doth thine truest form seek such…vengeance!"

He thumped onto his bed face first, rolling in fever attempt at a climatic ending of some misguided play.

"You've got problems," Blank announced, amused, and tugging the headband free from his head.

He blew out the single lit candle near his bed, the sound of fabric rustling a small comfort as he let his consciousness fade away into slumber.

It had worked again, and Zidane had already forgotten his despair. He was content to lie on his side, tail now patting softly against the blankets under him as it thrummed him to sleep. They would be fast asleep before the rest of the gang returned from their outing. But as always, no one would be aware of the alone time the two had shared. Neither of the boys ever mentioned it.

Though the joke of being a kitten was still out in the open, it was easily brushed off with the simple details of the night before.

No one would know now…they were careful; like two lovers indulging in an affair. Perhaps it was the need to feel so masculine that guided them into secrecy. The 'No Touching' rule applied in public was always honored. Blank would lean against a wall, sit in a nearby seat, or lay casually on his bed when he spoke with Zidane. There was nothing to suggest a closer bond between the two.

And Zidane mirrored his actions. He had no idea they were beginning to create such a complicated mess. It was only comfort, Zidane had always told himself. He'd loved the mothering touch Blank had always used. The way he'd talk him to sleep as a child when in a nightmare was calming, the gentle petting of his tail when he was upset was soothing, and the encouragement he gave when he felt hindered was thoughtful. Zidane could never go to anyone else for these things. He'd been strapped to Blank since day one.

Maybe that's why it never felt odd they still felt so close, so willing to touch.

And as long as Blank was by his side, he felt fearless. He knew no matter what happened he would have someone to help him should he need it. The though alone helped to calm his nerves most times.

He smiled in his sleep.

"Night Blank," He whispered.

He shuffled through the blankets one last time, tucking his hand under his cheek…

…And falling asleep.

There was nothing out of the ordinary when Blank awoke the next morning. Cinna was busy inhaling his breakfast, Marcus was attempting to rub away his hangover, Benero and Zenero were still huddled in a sleeping mass of blankets and pillows, Baku was stashing yesterday's treasures away in chests and dressers for later sales, and Zidane was…missing?

He looked around again, making a mental note that he hadn't gone crazy. For once, Zidane had been up before him. He'd gotten up before everyone, he guessed. Blank sat up, rubbing his eyes and pushing the resilient strands of hair from them to take a third look around the room.

"Where's Zidane?"

Marcus groaned, heaving a heavy sigh, fingers still rubbing the pain from his temple. "Dunno, he left early this morning. Didn't say a word." He leaned back on his cot, adjusting his bandana as if it were too tight. "Sure was makin' a hell of a ruckus though, rummaging through all his stuff."

A silent fear gripped at his heart. He swallowed hard, clearing his throat before speaking again.

"Did he leave again? You know…to find his birthplace or something, like last time?"

Already he was feeling a little anxious.

"Not sure, bro. But it wouldn't be the first time. You and me both know he does this sort of thing."

It was true; this would be the third time he'd left. And each time Zidane had left it left his brothers in Tantalus wondering if he'd ever return. When he left, he never said anything to warm them. But he would be gone by morning, traveling to far off, unknown places for long periods of time. He would disappear for days, weeks, and sometimes months.

By now they'd for the most part gotten used to his estranged disappearances. But it never made it easier to handle. He was their brother, and by blood relation or not; he was family.

Blank stood, grabbing his headband and ignoring the head rush of his hasty rise. "I'm gonna' go talk to Baku."

There was no doubt; he was a little worried. He could feel his stomach beginning to knot up. Had Zidane really left again?

He found Baku in front of their hide out, staring out over the stairway.

"Look at em', all huddled together like a bunch a cats paw'n at the fish in the pond," He huffed, snorting through haughty laughter. "And that Lowell ain't even the faintest bit talented."

He was referring to Lowell's fans, Blank was sure. He walked beside Baku, peering down at the landing below. There was indeed a crowd of women, with a non-surprising few die hard male fanatics just at the entrance of the stadium where Lowell made his usual appearances. There were screams and chants, citations of scripts and adoring cheers. But that was the usual here. Lowell was an acting sensation to the artsy people of Lindblum. That much was clear.

"It's funny," He told Baku.

"Funny my ass," His elder barked. "That right there is sad. Some people don't know what talent is, not even if it smacked em' in the damn face."

Blank tried to laugh, but something in his chest fluttered. He held his breath, looking back at the retreating man. "…Boss?"

"What?" He asked, stopping to turn around. "You wanna' go congratulatin' that fool too?"

"No," Blank shook his head. He hesitated, not sure how to begin. "…He's…gone again, isn't he?"

It was more of a statement than a question. He didn't have to mention a name; Baku knew.

"Who, Zidane? Well of course left!"

"Hn?" For a moment, Blank felt a little confused.

Baku had a thunderous laugh at the boy's sulking face. "I sent him out to Alexandria to get some information on the security of the Castle. You know, for the kidnappin' and all next year. Gotta' be ready to pull off somethin' like this," He stepped forward to land a semi comforting hand on his son's shoulder with a 'thump'. "He ain't gone!"

Blank visibly softened. And when Baku left; he felt relieved. He'd all but forgotten about their plans to kidnap the Princess of Alexandria. He'd been too busy looking out for Zidane to even think about it. That and the job of every day life kept his mind to wander from their future heists.

And of course it would make sense that Zidane be the one to go now; he was the fastest when it came to escaping; the stealthiest when it came to stealing. He was the prized possession of Tantalus, and a good actor on the stage.

He sighed, looking down once more at the crowd of blinded fans.

"It's always been his dream," He thought aloud. "To be like that; having people swoon over him like a satchel of gold, to hear the roaring crowd calling out his name in envious glory, to have the light always shining…on him..."

He'd been leaning on the stone hand rest, gaze lingering over. So enthralled in his gaze was he that he jumped when he felt the rough hand tap his back. And he looked to his side, seeing Marcus grinning at him, mimicking his pose over the stone.

"Gettin' a little poetic, eh?"

Blank looked down, snorting a laugh. "It's those damn skits messin' with my perfectly soiled brain."

They shared a laugh. And silence took place, with the wind sweeping past them.

"How's your hangover?" Blank asked his comrade, snickering as the mention of it brought a groan out of the other.

"Bein' a real bitch. It's starting to go away though, figured some fresh air would help."

Blank nodded with a "Hn". Small talk was nice, he decided. It was calming. It helped to keep his mind from everything. And he enjoyed it.

"I'm lucky. The water I had helped. So no hangovers for me."

"Wise ass."

Blank smiled. "Hey, what do you think of Lowell?"

"Lowell?" With an upturned brow Marcus held a questioning look. "What, he got out of his cage again?"

"…Not if his fans have anythin' to do with it."

"Hm, Lowell," Marcus thought aloud. "Well, I bet if you looked it up in the directory, you'd get 'Talent less Loser'. But…that's just me. Only thing he's full of is shit."

Blank snickered and settled for the calming silence when the conversation ended. He kept his gaze over the stairway, looking lazily to the crowd.

The crowd below was still relentless, screaming for their infatuation to show up. They were oblivious to how ridiculous they looked, especially to the two males overhead.

"I heard about Zidane," Marcus muttered, breaking the silence. "I bet you're relieved."

Blank looked surprised. "Hn? You singling me out?"


"I'm not the only one who cares about him," He spoke a little too fast for it to come out as a joke. Goosebumps broke put on his skin and he tried to stay casual. "He's our brother. Why wouldn't I be?"

But Marcus just smiled. "Because," He said. "You care about him more, bro."


"…You might not even know it, I think, but…you kind of cling to him sometimes."

Blank stiffened, suddenly defensive.

"I only help him when he needs it; like when he's sick, or when he has nightmares. That's called being a good friend, not a—"

"Whoa, calm down there Captain Obvious. I wasn't tryin' to call you somethin' you're not. I'm only sayin' how it looks. None of us would do those things. We all help each other and watch each other back's n' all, but…" He huffed, searching for the right words. "You just seem to mother him more than we do, you see?"

For a moment, Blank was confused. "Do I…?" But somewhere; he knew. He did feel a bit more attached to the tailed thief. With what connection he wasn't sure. Though, he did feel like something was there.

He got a grunt in response. And he frowned.

"…I didn't realize."

Such a lie. But do go on, hide what you feel. Make everyone think you're oblivious to what you do, how you feel.

It was all he could say. He didn't know what he felt now. After being called out for the nurture he'd given Zidane from the time they'd met as children, he now felt unsure of how 'normal' his actions were.

There was something in Marcus' words that hinted at the more…intimate moments. It made Blank worry. Had he seen? He was surprised when the other spoke up so suddenly.

"I know," He confirmed. "And that," he began in a softer tone. "Is why you feel so bad when he's gone."

"I feel the same as everyone else," Blank tried defensively.


"Of course, what else would I feel?"

Marcus shifted his weight more onto the stoned hand rest. He was deep in thought, trying hard to find the right words to say. He was never really good with these kind of conversations. But he tried.

"Let me ask you this, then," He said seriously, still looking down at the crowd to avoid a direct stare. "What would happen if Zidane left for good? What if he didn't come back?"

The words hit hard. It had his wheels turning.

What would happen when Zidane found the girl of his dreams, and what if he left Tantalus? He was sure the Boss would have no choice but to let him go, but, could Blank let him go so easily? What if Zidane left for good, and never came back?

How would he take it?

The whole conversation sunk in deep, reminding him what Marcus had said was true; he couldn't live securely if there was no Zidane there to protect, to tease, to joke with, to party with, to work with, and…to love.

Love…was that the emotion he was searching for in his fellow comrade? If so, was it the kind that a mother would give to a child? Or was it the kind a couple shared in front of the stars in the depth of the night?

What was it, this feeling?

"I'm gonna' go for a walk."

Marcus nodded, knowing he needed his space. He felt him walking away, his boots thumping unnaturally loud over the hollers from the crowd below.

He wasn't trying to cause any trouble. But he'd had a feeling that the other two were getting a little too cozy with each other. And he wasn't quite sure what they were trying to do. He wasn't about to push hate onto them. He could never hate his brothers.

He'd be willing to admit it was a little odd to see two males flush against each other on a single bed, one so fluidly sprawled between the others legs while hands caressed and petted him. Marcus had, in fact, seen this once before.

It was something he'd seen after their rehearsal last fall. It was before their first big play of the season, and they were all hyped up.

Baku had asked him to take their props back into the spare bedroom. They were inside their homey aircraft, and he remembered nearly falling from the swaying. Baku never was the best at easy steering.

With props in hand, he barely managed to get to the end hallway where the only spare bedroom was. He gently set the props down, absentmindedly noting the opened lock.

The door was already cracked open.

He was apprehensive. Ready to fight off an unwelcomed guest he readied his weapon, pushing the door open only a fraction more. It was quiet when it moved, allowing him to see a little more of the room.

His eyes had centered on the single bed in the room. And there they were, Blank and Zidane huddled on the bed like a couple of lovers. The sight alone was enough to catch him in his initial shock. He'd definitely thought they were in some kind of relationship.

And since then, he'd been dying to ask if it was true.

In real time, as Blank walked away Marcus found his steps to be hesitant.

"We'll still be here," He offered in some kind of reassurance.

"…Yeah…I know."

A/N: This whole story turned out a little weirder than planned.

I AM continuing this.

But 'ugh' to my writing skills. Sorry guys, I know it's a bit messy. Been gone for a while and it's going to take a while for me to get back into fluidly writing.