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Disclaimers and Notes: Same as before! (Sorry if this drifts off the humor bend for a bit. My bad. ^_^; "Rayle" is actually a little town in Georgia that me and my mom drove through. She thought it would make a good name for a girl. Khee hee...)

When You're Evil and Dead
By: Sforzie

Chapter 18: Between Heaven and Hell

"Is there anywhere between heaven and hell that we can go to talk?"

Perhaps Zidane wasn't the best person in the afterlife to ask about this. But he was the only person she felt that she could talk to without being mocked. Openly mocked, at least.

He smiled brightly, frantic creme colored tail betraying his true emotions. "I think I can think of a place."

Zidane managed to convince the guards that he could be trusted with guarding Kuja for a little while. He was a hero, after all. Villains could be trusted in the care of heroes, right?

The guards were dumb enough to agree with the tail-boy's simple logic.

"Okay, you can open your eyes now," Zidane's amused voice prompted her.

Kuja opened her eyes. She was laying on her back, staring up into darkness. Zidane was sitting next to her.

"What the--where are we?"

"I had to bring you through the last place you were when you died," Zidane said with a shrug. He got to his feet.

Kuja sat up, brushing herself off. "...the Iifa Tree? We're back on Gaia?"

"Sort of," he grinned.

Kuja looked between her feet. A large root had slammed through the ground there. Kuja sweatdropped. "Not the exact location, I assume?"

Zidane looked at the root, then at his sister, and shrugged with a grin. "Something like that."

He pointed up a spot of light overhead as Kuja got to her feet. "Up there."

"We have to climb?"

"Oh, it's not that far," Zidane laughed, hopping to a near-by root. "Come on!"

"This is ridiculous," Kuja muttered as she jumped after him.

"Girls..." Zidane sighed and shook his head.

"Hey! I resent that!"

"You resemble that."

"I bet I could beat you to that hole," Kuja said, hands on her hips.

"You're on!"

It was close, but Kuja did manage to climb through the hole just before Zidane. Her little brother flopped onto the branch that they had climbed out onto, out of breath.

"I didn't think you were that fast," Zidane wheezed.

"You don't think much, Zidane," Kuja smirked, looking around curiously. "I ran from Bahamut, remember?"

"Yeah, back then I was hoping that he'd barbecue you."

"And now?"

Zidane shrugged. "Still would have been interesting."

"How heartwarming."

"I thought so..." Zidane got to his feet. "Come on, this way."

Zidane led Kuja up and around several more of the large branches of the Iifa Tree. It was a lot greener than she remembered, but that was probably just natural. Or Nature.

Finally Zidane stopped on a high branch and sat down. "Here's good."

Kuja sat next to him, looking down. "Why here?"

"No real reason," Zidane said, smiling faintly. "Although it has a really nice view."

"Of what?"

Zidane pointed down toward the base of the Tree, which was easily visible from where they were seated. A small figure was making its way along the base.

"Who's that?" Kuja squinted, but she couldn't make the figure out any better.

"Rayle Tribal," Zidane said with a smirk. Kuja sweatdropped.

"Let me guess...."

"One of my descendents," Zidane grinned with a nod. "Well, one of Mikoto's, actually."

"She seems to be ascending at the moment," Kuja noted.

"Yeah, she comes up here once in a while."

"Why?"

"To talk to me," Zidane grinned again.

"To you? Why you? You're dead."

"She likes to try to communicate with the spirits of her ancestors," Zidane said, wiggling his fingers. Kuja looked toward the horizon and noted a small village there.

"Zidane, when are we?"

"How very observant of you," he said with a laugh. "Well, this is a few millenia ago. But...about 500 years after you died."

"Why now?"

Zidane shrugged. "Just because."

"Right."

"Now..." he took his gaze away from the slowing climbing figure of the girl. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Well... Sephiroth delivered your note," she said.

"Oh really? Did he read it?"

"No, he was a little too drunk to manage," Kuja laughed. "Of course, I could barely read it. Your handwriting's terrible, Zidane!"

"I was a little drunk at the time," he grinned.

"Excuses, excuses," she said, waving a hand dismissively. "Anyhow, I came up here to talk to you about my little problem."

"I'm sure Kefka and Sephiroth would love to hear you refer to them in that fashion."

"They'd love to hear me refer to them in any fashion."

Zidane laughed. "So what's the problem?"

She hesitated, looking thoughtlessly across the expanse of the Iifa Tree for a moment. "I don't know which one to chose."

"That can be a problem," Zidane agreed.

"I mean, I feel like I'm actually starting to really like them... but I feel like I have to chose one over the other."

"And you want me to help you chose?"

"Sort of.... I mean, I guess I could use some help."

Zidane hummed to himself. "Well, Sephiroth seems to like you," he said after a moment.

"Really?"

"Mm-hmm." A faint nod. "And I haven't had the dubious honor of chatting with Kefka, but based on what Edgar tells me, he's a complete nutjob."

"Edgar or Kefka?"

Zidane laughed. "Kefka... since he's crazy, he probably likes you too."

"Very funny." Kuja sighed "I know that they both are interested in me. And their affections seem...real enough, although I'm not totally sure what they're focused on..."

"You used to be a guy, what do you think they're focused on?"

Kuja flushed, looking down at her chest. "I have a slight idea."

"Do you think that's all of it?"

She looked back up, studying Zidane out of the corner of her eye. "Perhaps. Maybe. With them I'm not totally sure."

Zidane swished his tail thoughtfully. "I'm afraid I'm not too good at helping out with this kind of thing."

Kuja laughed. "I could always ask Garnet."

Zidane made a face. "It's probably better that you came to me for this, in that case."

"I thought you'd think so."

He smiled. "Umm... well... let's see." Zidane's tail continued to curl.

"Don't think too hard, you might sprain your tail."

"Ha ha." Zidane tilted his head. "Well, um... tell me the first thing you remember about each of them."

"You mean like how I met them?"

"Yeah!"

"Well, I met Sephiroth first," Kuja said. "He was drunk, had an Alexandrian soldier on his arm, and was telling people that he had a sword."

"Sounds...interesting."

"Was a bit unnerving," Kuja smiled, shrugging. "Kefka was equally..odd."

"He does look pretty weird."

"He didn't do anything to freak me out," she laughed. "That's just his natural presence."

"So you can't rule either out based on the 'do they scare the figs out of me?' criteria."

"I didn't know that that was a criteria..."

"I think it is." Zidane hummed again. "Well, what do you like best about both of them?"

Kuja caught a loose strand of silver-violet hair and twirled it around her finger thoughtfully. "Well, let's see..."

"Maybe I shouldn't have asked just a difficult question."

She smirked. "It's not that hard." After laughing a bit to herself, Kuja cleared her throat. "My favorite thing about Sephiroth would have to be his...presence."

"Presence?"

"Yes, you know, the way he carries himself. And his looks," she smiled, continuing to twirl the lock of hair around her finger. "Yes...hee hee..." She started off vacantly for a moment, until Zidane cleared his throat. "Oh? Right..." She giggled.

"Perversion is still a trait of the genomes, I see," Zidane smirked. Kuja giggled again.

"It sneaks up once in a while," she said. "And let's see... my favorite thing about Kefka would have to be his enthusiasm."

Zidane blinked. "Enthusiasm?"

"Yes, he's quite energetic," Kuja said. "Even if it is a bit unnerving at times." She shrugged, pulling her finger from her hair. "He tries."

"So you like Sephiroth for his presence and Kefka for his personality."

"Yes, something like that."

"Too bad you can't just combine the two of them," Zidane said with a laugh. "Then you'd have the perfect guy."

"Ah, my silly little brother," Kuja shook her head. "The perfect man already existed."

"Really?"

"Yes," she smirked. "But now I'm a woman."

Zidane sweatdropped. "It hasn't hurt your ego any, now has it."

"Nope." Kuja flourished her arms and posed a bit, despite being seated. "How an ugly old coot like Garland ever managed to create something so beautiful and wonderful is beyond me."

"And what about me?"

She shrugged, lowering her arms. "What about you?"

"You really haven't changed."

"No, not...not that much." Kuja laughed bitterly and shook her head. "Mm, no..."

They lapsed into silence. After a few minutes Kuja leaned and peered down into the Iifa Tree.

She looked down at Rayle. "You must come here a lot, if she's expecting you."

"Frequently enough, I guess," Zidane said, following her gaze. "You know, she's in a bit of the same jam as you are."

"How's that?"

"Rayle's trying to decide between two men. I'm betting she chooses the nice one, even though he isn't that bright."

"You're biased," Kuja smirked. "So...which one does she chose?"

Zidane shrugged. "Don't know."

"But this is in the past, can't you just look and find out?"

"Sure I could," Zidane smiled. "But I don't want to jump ahead in the story."

"You're strange."

"It runs in the family."

Kuja sighed. "I suppose that her case is a bit like mine. But I'm trying to chose the better of two evils, it would seem."

"Well... you seem to like both of them. Don't you have the option of not chosing?"

Kuja blinked slowly. "I suppose. But I don't think it would be fair to them."

"When have you ever been fair?"

She smirked. "You may have a point... but still, I feel like I should chose one."

Zidane scratched his head thoughtfully. "Well...um... which one is more like what you would have looked for in a person while you were alive?"

The smirk lingered. "Sephiroth. He looks more like a woman."

"Verrrry funny."

"Well... I don't know what I looked for in a person while I was alive," Kuja said. "I didn't spend much time looking for people. Other than myself."

"You were the only person you ever really loved, eh?"

She smiled. "Yeah. Something like that."

"I suppose you'll have to try things differently now that you're dead."

Kuja laughed. "It's odd though... since I've been dead, I've developed a great sympathy toward all the women I hit on while I was alive."

"I'm supposed to feel bad about being such a tail-chaser when I was younger," Zidane said. "But...well..." He shrugged.

"Old habits die hard."

"Pretty much." Zidane grinned. "After all, me and Garnet did have five kids."

Kuja's eye twitched. "Five?"

"Yup."

"Lucky sonnavabitch," Kuja sighed. "Now I remember why I hate you."

Zidane laughed. "You're just jealous that I got to peg Garnet."

"Uh-huh."

"You know what'll make you even more jealous?"

She sweatdropped. "What's that?"

"I'm still pegging her."

"Gaaaah!!" Kuja jumped to her feet. "Quit reminding me about that, you little tail!"

Zidane hopped to his feet as well, tail waving eagerly. "Oooh yeah, she really likes it!"

She tackled him, nearly knocking the both of them off the branch. "Shut up shut up shut up!!"

 

Rayle Tribal hummed as she climbed the Iifa Tree. She always liked climbing the tree. The climb never failed to relax her. She got the feeling that things were always at peace on the big old tree.

"Huh?" she blinked curiously, brushing a blonde feather from her eyes as she squinted up at the higher branches of the tree. Her tail twitched. "That's odd..."

She could have sworn she heard a taunting laugh float down from one of the highest branches....

----

end chapter 18