I would like to thank all my reviewers and readers in general! I rely on you to make this story stronger! :)
The afternoon was coming to an end as the sun finally set itself under the horizon of Luca. The night sky was all that was left, only stars and the moon lit up the Earth's celestial sphere. Down a path through the ghetto of Luca, two young men stumbled off the sidewalk and into the held on to Gippal's drunken body, his weight was released on Tidus's left shoulder making them tumble along the way.
"Gippal, you're such a jackass..." Tidus muttered under his breath, looking down at his friend wobbling along side of him. Going out for drinks was not a good idea, and he knew it. Tidus was not the type to go out for drinks and get drunk into the next day, yet he couldn't leave his closest friend out to fend for himself, especially since he's an Al Bhed. If anything, a bar fight could break out simply because of his green swirls.
"Who you calling a jackass, cry baby?" Gippal's voice was dragged out, almost to the point of no recognition. His words were guzzled before spoken, in the end, coming out as if his ability to enunciate was suddenly obliterated.
"You know what? I'm sick of being your baby sitter!" The spunky blond let him fall on the floor with a thud, followed by a smack after Gippal's face made contact with the cement floor.
"You! Come back! I'm sorry!" His whines were enough to make Tidus think twice before leaving his close pal passed out in the ghetto of Luca. Rolling his sapphire eyes, he lifted his friend up once more.
"Expect me to charge some major Gill when you wake up tomorrow," He paused to reach into his pocket for the apartment keys, coming to Luca for a month-long vacation was Gippal's idea, "'cause this whole, I'll-save-your-sorry-ass-every-time-you-get-drunk is not working out for me."
"C'mon, Tidus. I just don't see the point in not getting drunk. Have some fun..." Gippal leaned on the wall of their limited apartment. "You make me look bad!" He chuckled quietly, looking down at Tidus's hands struggling to unlock the door.
"Of course I make you look bad, you're older-Shouldn't you be the one telling me not to drink?" With a smirk, he opened the door; pushing Gippal in was one of his first goals at the moment, so with a shove he let go of the animosity he had a few seconds ago.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm the bad guy!" Gippal yelled from his room after getting up and languidly walking across the small living room into his personal space.
"Just go to sleep already!" Tidus retorted, plopping himself down on the couch and kicking his boots off. The silence in the apartment was agitating him, but he was tired of aiding Gippal and wanted nothing more than to get some sleep.
"SHE'S WHAT?" Cid's voice growled from inside his private cabin in the headquarters of Home. Brother stood outside his cabin, too scared to face his dad about the episode aboard the salvage ship. He bribed a worker, a rank under him, to tell his father in the fear that he would kill him. He was the older brother, how could he let Rikku die? It wasn't fair, she was still fifteen.
"Bring Brother in! HUF! E HAAT RES RANA HUF!-(NOW! I NEED HIM HERE NOW!)-" Cid raged, veins popped out around his forehead and neck. Although his skin is usually pale, the man prone to anger, was beet red. His bald head was covered in sweat, mostly from the hot sun of Bikanel's dry weather but also from the stress and hard work he put into keeping Home updated with new machina or as Gippal calls it "machines." Tears can never be seen upon his stern face, but whoever didn't know him well, would say he was about to cry.
Brother walked in, reluctant to take another step before his arrogating father. Feeling the courage to look up, Brother locked his gaze with Cid's and out of nowhere, a stream of Al Bhed rolled off his tongue.
"E ys cunno, vydran! E dneat du cdub ran pid cra zisbat yht E luimth'd tu yhodrehk palyica E fyc cdaanehk dra creb, E luimth'd zicd mayja so cdydeuh yht lnycr! E oammat vun ran du cdub, pid oui ghuf ruf cdippunh cra lyh pa! Fa muugat vun ran vun ruinc pid vuiht hu cekh uv ran! Fa-"
"Enough!" Brother fell silent, and proceeded to take a sit when his father signaled him to. "Explain to me-Explain to me how my girl happened to die because of a damn Octofiend!" He stuffed a cigar in his mouth, quick to lit it, he inhaled the drug and blew out smoke on Brother's intimidated face.
"I already told you! I tried to stop her, but it would be impossible for me to stop steering the boat and run for her rescue! The lives of other Al Bheds were at stake aboard the salvation ship!"
Cid's face was blank, he didn't look angry or sad. He just smoked.
"We'll search the perimeter once more, she must've washed off onto the islands surrounding the ruins. For all we care, she could be in Kilika, trying to reach us."
"Wakka! Look!" Yuna was excited, like a five year old, she jumped around the plaza of Luca. The sky was clear in this early Lucan morning, and the seagulls were out to pray for fresh junk food out on the streets of town, a town where travellers littered carelessly. There was a fountain in the center, while citizens enjoyed their weekend around it buying cotton candy from old street vendors or balloons that a life-size moogle offered.
"I hope you can attend!" The moogle's ecstatic voice made Yuna flutter with joy.
"I see you've gotten acquainted with the moogle vendors," Wakka looked at the giant, walking teddy bear. Its tiny purple wings fluttered, and his puffy pink nose flared up and down as he sniffed a child's head, "They're quite a sight, ya. I wonder what they're promoting now?"
"He mentioned something about a concert! But I don't know if we'll stay long enough for me to see it..." Yuna looked up at her balloon, her eyes showed a hint of disappointment but Wakka knew just the right thing to make her happy.
"How 'bout I getchya some ice cream, ya?" He put his hands on his hips, keeping his blitzball under his arm. The sport was always with him, literally.
"Really?" Yuna softly asked, looking up at him with a sparkle in her eyes, putting aside the feelings of melancholy.
"Great!" Yuna hopped along before Wakka, she ignored the fact that she was a sender. That her parents were dead. That she was alone, and that she wanted nothing more than to just run away. She thought of this little break, after all Luca was a city full of cultural resorts and cafes with diverse backgrounds from all over spira. Almost like a mini-Zanarkand, only with less machina.
Zanarkand. Her mind trailed off into images of the "City That Never Sleeps." It is said that its lights are brighter than anywhere else in Spira, that at night, everyone was still walking around. Having fun in the bustling city it was. Oh, she wished to be able to run around a dimension of colors, or neon lights that flashed and invited her out to a boisterous night.
She skipped in a daze, disregarding the people around her. For all that, she collided into something hard and warm. Losing her balance, she fell on the floor and looked up in a fright. At first, she was utterly confused and completely oblivious to the compromising position she was in. A second went by until she let out a high pitched shriek from her bitty mouth, scrambling to get off a young man who was just as stupefied as she was a few seconds ago.
"Ain't that a double whammy!" Gippal cheered from the side, whistling and shuffling his feet towards his friend. He extended his arm out for Tidus, who warily took the assistance from his hungover friend.
"This still doesn't mean you're off the hook for last night." He brushed himself as he stood up on his feet. Yuna quietly got up on her feet as well, in a daze as she contemplated the boy before her.
Tidus ignored Gippal's smart comments and snickers about this humorous "double-whammy," and decided to focus his attention on the damsel. "Sorry about that, are you okay?"
Only an apprehensive blush came from Yuna. She wasn't used to talking to boys her own age, specially boys that were as handsome as Tidus. Years of training could never prepare her for this kind of ceremony.
"Yuna! Don't run so fast, ya?" Wakka huffed and leaned over to support his bulky self on his knees. He finally realized that they weren't alone, and locked his attention on the two blonds. "What are you kids doing to Lady Yuna?" He scolded them, but Yuna gripped his arm, letting him know they were O-K.
"It's okay...they're, er, friends!" She smiled behind the big man when she noticed their confused faces.
"You sure? I never knew you had these kinds of friends, ya..."
A scowl formed on Gippal's face. Tidus was stoic.
"Positive." She gave him her charming smile, the one that made her eyes squint with a sparkle; if that didn't convince him, then what could?
She stood before the pair in silence until Wakka was out of hearing range to the ice cream parlor.
"Um, so, now we're your friends?" Gippal chuckled, making her blush deeper.
"Just play along!" An unexpected outburst came from the young lady, making both the boys' and her eyes wide , " He could've killed you!"
"Killed us? Why? It was a mere accident." Tidus's confused reaction maintained for a good portion of the conversation since the "killed" part came up.
"He's almost like a guardian."
The instant she mentioned a guardian, Tidus chose to take a closer look at Yuna. He noticed her traditional dress. She wore black boots under a long, flowing, pleated skirt. It was purple and with a flower patten, along with a black spaghetti-string camisole under a white sash of clothing that wrapped around her neck and over her chest. Her eyes intrigued him the most, seeing as her right eye was blue and her left was green. She was a Yevon beauty, he was certain that this girl was untouchable.
"A guardian? That's the kind of baloney I hear my dad say when he talks about summoners-" Gippal spoke his mind before being nudged by Tidus to shut up. His comment was truly uncalled for.
"So," Tidus continued, completely ignoring Gippal, "what brings you to Luca? You don't look so, er, ordinary."
"Yes, well, um, no. I, uh..." Yuna had never felt this nervous before. Not even when sending, she was always the collected type. However, this boy-he was different he had a pair of cerulean eyes that eagerly scanned their surroundings. His tan skin wasn't an ordinary sight too, and his muscular physique made him all the more tempting.
"Wait! I know who you are!" Gippal interrupted, pointing at her with his index finger. It made Yuna feel more accused than recognized. "You're Yuna! Lord Braska's daughter!" He chuckled and turned to look at Tidus. He looked surprised, but not greatly, it was almost expected. She looked like the type of girl who lives in a temple, which was partly true, since she lives in walking distance from the Besaidian Temple.
She sighed in defeat and looked down to where Wakka had disappeared, he was taking a while with their ice cream.
"Yes, it's true. Please, just treat me like an ordinary girl, I don't want any attention." She pursed her lips and expressed pain through those intriguing eyes of hers. Tidus felt bad for her. The instant he saw her walking around the plaza, he was mesmerized by her elegance and grace, but her eyes seemed to show constant agony.
"Yuna! I got you your favorite, a Vanilla Cone." Wakka smiled at her and handed her the ice cream. Although she was glad he was there in time to avoid any more questions, she felt let down at not being able to know the two boys better. They conveyed the impression of being luxuriant and lively, feelings that she chased after but couldn't find.
"Thank you," She smiled back at Wakka, then turned to Gippal and Tidus who still stood there with blank faces, "and thank you, too. I hope to meet you again." Her eyes mostly swooped into Tidus's as she finished her sentence. She didn't know why, but she ached to stay with them. She had the desire to run off on Wakka, be herself. But now was not the time, and surely she wasn't going to stand another one of Lulu's lectures.
"Will I ever see you again?" Tidus reached for her hand, a bad move; Wakka held his wrist with power before Yuna could turn to face him.
"Wakka! No!" She reached out her hand as well, taking Wakka's hand off without difficulty and keeping her Vanilla Cone intact in her other hand.
"Why are you defending him, ya?" He didn't take his eyes off of Tidus, both men were staring daggers at each other.
Yuna stammered to answer, eventually finding hidden strength to do something she had never done in her life. Talk-back. "Because I want to! He's my friend, can't I have friends?" She held on to Wakka's arm with pleading eyes. A long pause filled the group, even Gippal was cautious to not open his mouth with the tension that filled the air.
"I'm sorry," Wakka apologized to Yuna, but avoided eye contact with the radiant blond. "Make your farewell quick, ya? We need to board the S.S. Winno in a few." He walked up a set of stairs, probably on his way to the Besaid Auroch's locker room. The infamous blitz team had a game last night, but Yuna had missed the action after falling asleep in her cabin aboard the ship. Lulu didn't want to wake her up, presuming that she was too exhausted from her sending in Killika.
"I told you, he isn't afraid of protecting me!" Yuna cried out in concern. Tidus on the other hand, was content with the outcome of their banter. He was reassured that Yuna wasn't just a passing memory, he had a chance to absorb anything he could about the porcelain beauty.
"Well he's gone now, isn't he? Where do you live? I heard him mention the S.S. Winno." He smiled at her, amused by her expression when he engulfed her with questions.
"I live in Besaid," The innocent girl she was wasn't afraid to give out critical information, such as where she lived. However, Tidus made her believe that there was nothing to fear. She mentally slapped herself, realizing how nonsensical the idea of trusting a man she just met was not possible.
"Really? You're the first person I've ever met that lives there, I'm mostly well known towards the north of Spira. I am from Zanarkand, after all."
"You're from Zanarkand?" Her eyes gleamed with buoyancy. The city displayed itself on Tidus, adding to Yuna's furor.
"Yeah," He turned to a cocky stance, "I'm none other than the star player of the Zanarkand Abes. The best blitz team in all of Spira!"
"Really? That is-" Gippal broke in after being shun out of the couple's conversation,
"Astonishing? Awe-inspiring? Breathtaking? Mind-blowing?" Yuna nodded with each word Gippal added, his inquisition only entertained Tidus as he watched Yuna agree with determination.
"Huh, this little girl doesn't seem to like Zanarkand very much!" Gippal joked with sarcasm, but his fit of snickers stopped at the sight of a discouraged Yuna.
"I wish I could go to Zanarkand..." She trailed off and Tidus understood her disturbing interest in Zanarkand.
"Why don't you come with me?"
She gazed into his eyes silently. Debating whether to take his offer or not wouldn't make a difference. She had to take action somehow, she didn't stand the idea of dying in Besaid without getting the chance to experience all of Spira.
"What? Why?" Tidus scowled, he knew it had to do with her guardians. He cursed himself for thinking she would just accept his offer and run off, they both knew she would owe her guardians an explanation.
"It's complicated. You wouldn't understand." In reality, she didn't want to explain her life story to a stranger whose name was unknown to her. "What's your name anyway?" She asked.
"Tidus. Just call me Tidus." He quickly responded, dismissing the factor of names before Gippal could introduce himself. He was too engrossed in Yuna's business to care. "And I'm pretty sure I would understand." He said with a smirk, he didn't want to scare her way.
"I'm pretty sure you wouldn't." She denied to tell him anything else, he already knew where she lived and that was enough. Before he could ask anything else, Wakka came out of the blitz team's lockers and into the plaza.
"Sorry to interrupt, but we have somewhere to go, ya?" He looked over at Yuna, signaling her to wrap it up once more. Tidus was enraged on the inside, who was this Wakka guy to tell Yuna what to do? Then he remembered. He's her guardian.
"Well, it was nice seeing you both." She gave them a fake smile that seemed too real for the boys to discern and waved goodbye. Gippal just kicked the cap of a beer bottle and walked off, leaving behind Tidus to wave goodbye. He really wished to get a hold of her and show her the world. She struck him as being the immoderately sheltered type.
"Yuna, I still can't believe you knew those kids, ya?" Wakka kept asking as they boarded the S.S. Winno. She was silent for most of the trip, and repeatedly apologized without directly giving him a response.
"Pardon my bad manners, I didn't want to defy you."
Wakka sighed, he didn't want to be too protective of Yuna. "It's not that I don't want you to have friends, it's just that boys are not the same as girls, and well, um..."
"What Wakka's trying to say is that he doesn't trust boys. It's in their nature to pursuit magnificent women like us." Lulu walked into Yuna's small cabin. The raven haired woman smirked, amused by Wakka's sudden concern.
"I still don't understand..." Yuna shook her head.
"You will in time. Don't feel afraid to ask me questions, remember I'm here for you." Lulu gave her a hearty smile.
"I would appreciate that," She smiled and, inevitably, a million questions popped up in her head. She wanted to know why she was so nervous around Tidus, why she felt attracted to him even though they had just met. She hoped that he was just a passing memory, but the thought of his smile made it hard to forget. Soon enough, she'll be able to travel Spira and pay Tidus a visit. She secretly let a smile creep up on her silky smooth face. Small, plump lips stretched across in a grin that made her look serene. Thoughts of Zanarkand filled her mind in a rush of adrenaline as she imagined herself running through the streets of a futuristic utopia. Before she realized it, she had fallen asleep. Lulu and Wakka exited her cabin, discreetly turning off her light and closing the door.
"So what do you think?"
"What do I think?" Yuna let her gaze plummet into the sea colored orbs, they were inches away from her own eyes. The golden-haired boy was only inches away from her.
"Yeah. Isn't the view beautiful?"
"I know," He looked over to the horizon, "I remember looking into this same horizon with my dad..."
"Why are we both so alone in this world?" He looked down at a pondering Yuna, and chuckled.
"See, the thing is, we are not alone. As long as we have each other."
"Huh? What?" Her chestnut colored hair stuck on to her forehead and temples, she rubbed her palm across them feeling her finger tips become damp with sweat.
"We're home. We arrived at Besaid," Lulu whispered to her, hushing her from continuing a fit of breaths. A look of concern appeared on her usually aloof stare.
"Oh, I just had a...weird dream."
"Come on, let's get you to my hut. I'll give you a potion." She helped Yuna to her feet and escorted her out of the ship. The rays of sunlight hitting the deck made Yuna's eyes sting, and squint from the sudden disclosure.
"Lady Yuna! You must help!" A woman waved from the shore on the pale sand; Yuna was beginning to miss this beach yet she was only gone for two days.
"What seems to be amiss?" She gathered the strength to stand up straight after travelling inside a boat for hours.
"An Al Bhed was washed off on the shores of our sacred island! She's been injured, but the elderly refuse to help, they said that Al Bheds have gone against the Yevonite religion and won't use their cure spells on her!" The woman, who appeared to be in her early twenties, was becoming desperate as she explained the predicament at hand.
"Yuna, have you learned white magic from the elders yet?" Lulu turned serious as she began to altercate with Yuna, who also turned grim after hearing such daunting news.
"I know some cure spells. Luckily I managed to skip some lessons and learn Curaga. Where is this Al Bhed you speak of?"
"In the crusader's hut!" The crusader's hunt was once, obviously, used by the league of crusaders that lived in Besaid. They were for the Yevon religion and wanted to make things right by participating in an operation in the hopes to defeat Sin, the colossal monster that once threatened Spira. Operation Mi'hen was a failure as most of the crusaders died, and High Summoner Braska was witness of it. He didn't mean to be a mere spectator, but during his pilgrimage to summon the Final Aeon, Maester Kinoc would not let him pass until the operation was through. Maesters shared a shady past during those days, so Yuna didn't like to think about it as she blamed them for tricking summoners in becoming martyrs for the Yevon religion.
"There she is!" The woman rushed into the hut first, then stooped down beside the pale girl on a bed. The girl was unconscious, and stripped of her clothing for she only wore some old robes that were a couple sizes too big for her. She winced in her sleep and twirled from one side to the other.
"I'll need a moment alone with her..." Yuna whispered. Lulu and the woman followed her command and retreated from the hut.
"Don't worry...this won't hurt..." She whispered to the girl, knowing she was unconscious. She let her hands levitate over the girl's chest inches away, but not having physical contact. A cloud of blues and greens interlocked with Yuna's hands and the petite girl's torso. Yuna closed her eyes, singing a hymn to herself, feeling her energies expend out of her palms. This process maintained for another five minutes. The last bit of energy withdrew from Yuna, and at that second, she opened her eyes and finished her administrations with one last whisper.
"Help!" The Al Bhed sprung up from the bed to a straight sitting position. She turned her frightened eyes to Yuna. She stayed kneeled down next to the bed until a drowsiness idly brought her to the ground, her eyes rolled back and all she saw were two swirls of green before darkness over took her vision.