One Last Breath by Phantasy_Starlight
Chapter 1, Return from the Farplane
Don’t be afraid.
Calling me Calling me
As you fade to black”
~ One Last Breath
Auron let one leg dangle over the edge of a cliff as a gentle breeze ruffled his hair. The sun was just beginning to set and was slowly forming shadows across the Farplane. Many pyreflies danced around and met up with their loved ones whom they hadn’t seen in forever. The waterfall formed mist at its base and left it swirling upwards to where Auron was sitting.
Strange. No matter how many times he’d sit down here and gaze at his surroundings, the thought of being here was still foreign to him. And even though he was among his former friends, Jecht and Braska, a small part of him ached to be back among the living. Among the land of Spira.
And, most of all, among Rikku.
Auron cleared his throat and shook his head. He wondered what she was doing right now. Was she with Yuna, Lulu, and Wakka, having a good time? Or was she sitting on her bed, her pillow hugged to her chest and crying?
Auron chose the happier version of his thoughts. While Rikku was unpredictable, Auron seriously doubted she’d still be upset that both he and Tidus were gone now. After all, it’s only been a year since the Pilgrimage. She should have been able to heal by now, right?
Almost suddenly, he remembered the pained looked upon her face as his body slowly became nonexistent. Nobody knew about their secret relationship during the final chapters to the Pilgrimage. So it was a bit of a surprise when Auron calmly strode to Rikku’s side and brought his hand up to her face and smiled.
“C’mon Rikku. I don’t want my last image of you to be such a sad face.”
Rikku sniffled. “I can’t help it. You’re the . . . the best thing that’s happened to me. Please don’t leave me.”
Auron looked back at the rest of the group and pursed his lips. It was now or never. Slowly, he leaned down and kissed Rikku on the lips quickly, but passionately. It only succeeded in making her sob more.
“I’m sorry Rikku.” Were the last words he could get in before he completely faded in a crowd of pyreflies.
A hand on Auron’s shoulder jerked him back to reality. He saw out of the corner of his one good eye a younger boy around the age of eighteen. Auron grunted a greeting and moved over a little bit for the teen to sit beside him.
The teen ruffled his messy, blonde hair and hugged his knees to his chest. “Whatcha thinking of?” he asked curiously.
“Is that your only conversation starter, Tidus?” Auron replied with his own question.
Tidus shrugged and smiled. “When you don’t have much else to talk about and you’re bored, it’s really the only conversation starter there is.” When he saw the melancholy look on his former-guardian’s face, Tidus tilted his head in confusion. “Something wrong?”
“No. Nothing’s wrong.”
Suddenly bored, Tidus stood up and stretched. “Remember when you told me I was a bad liar?”
Auron thought about it for a moment. He nodded and smirked. He knew where this was going.
“Well, the same applies to you. You’re as transparent as a ghost,” Tidus saw the face on his guardian. “I mean, well, you know . . . oh nevermind. You know what I mean.”
Auron shook his head. “No, I don’t. And I’d appreciate it if you left me alone.” His voice barely rose above a whisper. Tidus shrugged and rested his hands behind his head. It wasn’t exactly a surprise coming from Auron. He was, after all, quite the enigma.
“Suit yourself. I’ll catch you later.” Tidus hung around for a few more seconds, waiting for a possible, yet questionable answer. Sighing, he kicked the ground and walked away, leaving Auron back in his own thoughts.
“This wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been so stupid to allow my walls to come down and let her into my life. How could I?” Auron removed his glasses and wiped them with the hem of his scarlet robe. When he replaced them on the bridge of his nose, he sighed for what was possibly the hundredth time since he’d sat there.
In his mind, he was constantly questioning his relationship with Rikku. It wasn’t until after the Thunder Plains that he truly developed feelings for her. At first, it was a very loose friendship, growing tighter with every waking moment. Finally, during the time spent in the ruins of Zanarkand, after everyone had fallen asleep, Rikku and Auron snuck up onto a nearby hill and stared up at the stars.
“Auron, after all this is done, will we still be together?” she questioned while resting her head on his muscular forearm. It was his instinct to pull away at the contact, but he resisted and soon enjoyed her presence.
“Well . . . I don’t really know.”
Rikku smirked. “You’re the great, almighty, all-knowing Sir Auron. You have the answers to every question.”
Auron’s face quickly contorted to one of emotional pain. He wanted so badly to take her by the shoulders and scream ‘I’m an unsent! I don’t belong here! I’m not real!’. Instead, he reached out and placed his hand atop hers, easily enclosing it in his rough palm. Rikku squeezed it, almost as if she were reassuring him. It still didn’t take his mind off of the fact that, just like Tidus, he’d leave as well.
Rikku noticed that he wasn’t really focused on her and she snapped her fingers in his face. “Hello? Anyone in there?”
Auron tore his gaze away from the distant ruins and faced Rikku. If he wasn’t wearing his collar, she could see that he was forcing a smile to get her to forget it. His smile (or lack thereof) quickly faded when he noticed she searched his face with her swirled green Al-Bhed eyes.
That next moment would definitely be one not to forget. For what seemed like eternity, Rikku and Auron shared together a single kiss. Definitely longer than both expected, but nonetheless one of those perfect kisses under the stars of heaven. With both eyes closed, they lay down on the dirt, entangled in each other’s arms. He felt her hand trace along the sides of his face and weave its way into his own hand.
Suddenly panicked, Auron pulled away and stood up. He straightened his overcoat out and bit his lower lip. “Rikku, I’m sorry. I can’t keep this charade up. I can’t have feelings for you. I just can’t. You understand?”
Tears sprung to her eyes but she shyed away, hiding her face. When she turned back, her tears were now flowing freely but when she spoke it sounded so harsh and stark. “No Auron, I don’t understand. You’re scared, but led me on to believe that we had something. Or maybe you’re not scared. Maybe you just don’t want to ruin your reputation. ‘Sir Auron. Having an affair with a fellow guardian of Lady Yuna.’ Is that it?”
“No, it’s not like that. But if I explained, you wouldn’t understand. Can’t you see that?” he replied in a tone just as harsh yet hushed as to not disturb the others still sleeping.
Rikku stood up and wiped her lips with the back of a gloved hand. She approached him, standing only up to his chest. With all the strength she could muster, she slapped Auron across the face. Unfazed, he reached out and grasped her arm, gripping it tighter than he wanted to.
“Rikku, you don’t get it. I can’t love you. I . . . I . . . .” he faltered and released her from his grip. Without another word, he sauntered away, farther from the campsite.
He opened his eye and looked around. Auron found himself back in the Farplane, the orange tint still slowly fading. The thought still bothered him, even after a year. The only reason being that, the rest of the time through the Pilgrimage, both made it a point to avoid each other’s presence. It was only when he was leaving for good that they finally realized the whole thing was petty.
“But it was too late.” He said aloud. He rose and strolled away, not taking a look back at the cliff. When he passed a boulder, a hand reached out and stopped him.
“I’m sure Rikku forgives you.” Tidus affirmed.
Auron didn’t bother to acknowledge the question, only jerking his arm away and continued to amble away.
“I know how you feel.” Breathed Tidus.
Auron lay in a bed, covers pushed to the bottom. No matter how hard he tried, for him, sleep wasn’t an option. From across the room he heard Jecht mutter in his sleep and Braska pull the covers higher over his head. Tidus was sprawled on the floor from an earlier incident of falling out of his own bed.
Growling deep in his throat, Auron sat up and put his feet on the cold, wooden floor, sending an unwelcome shiver up his spine. He pushed himself up and crept out of the room, careful not to make any noise.
Auron had no clue where he was headed. Wherever his thoughts told him to go, that’s where he went. He didn’t stop until he was back on the cliff of the Farplane, overlooking everything there was to see.
Suddenly, without any rhyme or reason, he dived over the cliff, wind screaming past him as he was falling closer to the ground. Strangely, he felt no panic; only the pure pleasure and thrill of the free-fall.
As soon as he was going to crash into the field below, black overtook him and he was alone in a cold abyss.
When Auron awoke again, he was expecting to find himself back in his bed in the room. But the bright light that bore heavily on his skin begged to differ. Groggily, he opened his eye and immediately shut it when it met the sun’s glare. When he tried to move, he found his movement hindered by a sort of liquid. He didn’t remember putting his overcoat on before he left the room, which could explain why he wasn’t at the bottom of wherever he was at the moment.
Finally gathering the courage, he pried open his eye again, only to find that, miraculously, he was able to open both eyes. Confused, he held his hand in front of his face and waved it slowly back in forth in front of him. His eyesight was perfect. Frowning, he raised his head and gasped at what awaited him.
Auron was floating in the middle of the ocean off the coast of Besaid. He sputtered to himself when something else of a shock hit him.
Looking down at his body, he stifled a scream. Somehow he wasn’t in his own body at all which could quite possibly explain his perfect twenty-twenty vision.
He was in the body of a younger teen. The body of Tidus!
Chapter 2, The Reunion
“And I wonder
Are you thinking of me
Cause I’m thinking of you.
And I wonder
Are you ever coming back in my life?”
Tidus stretched lazily on the floor. He had just woken up from another one of his many dreams that included him back in Spira with Yuna. Yevon, he missed her so much.
He tried pulling back the covers that weighed heavily upon his being only to find they were around him like a coat of some sort. When he tried to see just what he could be wearing that was so heavy, he also found that he could only open one eye. Heart racing, Tidus sat straight up and looked down at his body. Strangely, he was wearing Auron’s outfit.
“Did we get drunk last night?” he thought aloud. While he thought of this, Jecht looked over at him sleepily. Tidus caught his gaze.
“Hey Auron. You’re not the type to fall out of bed.” He joked.
Tidus raised one eyebrow, still aware he could only see out of one eye. “Dad, what are you talking about? It’s me, Tidus.” Instantly, he brought his hand to his head and scrambled into the bathroom. Flicking on the light, he glanced in the mirror. Instead of seeing the usual reflection of a blonde hair, blue-eyed teen, he was staring into the face of his former mentor and guardian.
Jecht ran into the bathroom too and stood side-by-side with him. “Is something wrong, Auron?”
Tidus frantically looked from the reflection to his father. Then, he screamed.
Auron slashed his way through the woods, having to pause a few times to take in the madness of all this. While his old body was quite sluggish but powerful, Tidus’ body was quite agile yet a bit weaker. Hey, at least he was back on Spira!
Ecstatic, he broke into a run, dodging branches and stones among other things littered about the forest floor. Just over the tree tops he could see the small village of Besaid. This might be the day he could revisit those who, along with himself, had guarded Braska’s only daughter, Yuna.
At the thought, he skidded to a halt. If Auron was in this body, people weren’t going to know that it was really him at all. They’d think it was Tidus! If that was the case, how was Auron going to get with Rikku again, especially since Yuna and Tidus had that little puppy love thing going for a little while. Yuna would definitely want to be with Tidus for a while.
Auron shook the thoughts from his head. He still had time to think of that. All he wanted to do now was to see everyone.
It didn’t take as long as Auron thought it would to get to the village. When he arrived, he slowed down to almost a complete stop. The scene was a whole new world for him. Villagers bustled about, kids playing happily in the sand and on the steps of the temple, everyone just enjoying life without Sin.
His feet felt frozen in place. Fear kept him from making the final step into the village. Auron shook his head, blonde hair swaying into his vision. He didn’t have to go in. He could just leave and no one would know. But he knew that wasn’t like him. Sure, he may have been nervous, but what’s rejoining with your friends going to hurt? He had already experienced death for Yevon knows how much.
Taking a deep breath, he held his head high and marched into the village. It seemed like everyone stopped their activities to watch him pass. Auron approached a girl about fifteen and smiled. “Excuse me, but can you point out where someone by the name of Wakka, Lulu, Kimahri, Yuna . . . or Rikku resides?” the last name made his whole body go weak. So close!
The girl hummed as she looked around. Then, in her heavy accent, she spoke. “I’m not sure about your Rikku or Kimahri, but I know Wakka and Lulu live in that hut over yonder. The next hut is where Lady Yuna stays. Ya?”
Auron looked to where the girl pointed and nodded. “Thanks.”
“Before you go,” the girl stopped him. “I must ask. Are you one of Lady Yuna’s guardians?”
“Was. I was one of her guardians.” He replied, his voice coming out higher than he was used to.
The girl smiled. “I’m sure she’d be happy to see you again, sir.”
Auron smiled and gave a small wave before heading to the huts. When he found the right one, he stood before it. Just how were you supposed to knock on cloth doors, exactly?
He found no need to, however, because the cloth flew back, revealing a rather beautiful woman clad in all black holding a small baby. Her free hand flew to her mouth when she saw the body of Tidus, unaware of who it really was.
“Tidus?” she whispered, “That can’t be you. You’re . . .”
Auron’s eyes were wide with surprise at the woman holding the baby. “Lulu . . . are you a-.” he was cut off when she enwrapped him in her free arm. He continued to stand there while she hugged him for some time. When she pulled free, she was smiling.
“I can’t believe it. How did you get back here?” she asked, bouncing the baby who had begun to cry.
“I don’t know.” Was all he said.
There was a silence as Lulu worked to get the baby to go back to sleep. During this, the door was pulled back again, this time revealing a well-built, dark man with flaming red hair. He walked to Lulu and smiled. “Hey, want me to take him?” he offered, referring to the baby. Lulu cleared her throat and threw her head in the direction of Auron in Tidus’ body. Wakka looked up, his eyes widening quickly.
“No way . . . how . . . when . . . what?!” he stuttered. Auron waved slightly, becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the situation. Yet, he had to remember. They all thought he was Tidus. They were closer to him than Auron himself.
“He doesn’t know.” The gothic-looking woman spoke for him. Wakka’s face split into a wide grin and he hugged Tidus’ body tightly, lifting him off the floor.
“Wakka! Wakka! Wakka, let me go!!” Auron begged while trying to gasp for breath. When he felt his feet touch ground again, he stumbled backwards and fell on his backside, rubbing where Wakka crushed his ribs.
“Hey brudda! I can’t believe you’re here! You’re back! You won’t believe how much you missed here!”
“Yeah, I was just going to ask. That isn’t you’re child, is it?” Auron asked.
Wakka beamed, taking the child into his own arms. “He was born three months ago.”
Lulu stood beside Wakka, one arm linked through his while her other hand brushed the baby around the cheeks and face. “We got married last summer, after the Pilgrimage.” Lulu faded off, her eyes still glued to her baby. “Yuna was real upset it wasn’t her at the alter, you know.”
Auron began to worry. He’d have to act fast to get the right characterization of Tidus which would prove to be a difficult task. What did he have to lose? He lowered his head in mock shame. “Yeah. I . . . well . . . you see . . .”
Fortunately, Wakka interrupted him, his giddiness faded to anger. “You promised her, ya? You know how many days she waited at the ocean, whistling, wanting you home again? How could you?”
Wakka’s tone of voice struck little fear in Auron’s heart only because he knew that, given chance, he could have easily knocked Wakka out. Yet, he was still supposed to play a role, and Tidus would have cowered now. Yet, it was hard to even try to do so. Auron wasn’t used to cowering.
“Maybe you’d like to visit her, no?” persuaded Lulu.
“Like I have a choice.” Auron muttered under his breath.
Wakka looked up from the baby. “What was that?”
“I can’t wait to hear her voice.”
He turned and walked away to Yuna’s hut and stood in front of it. How weird would it be to show even the tiniest affection to someone he had guarded? What would Braska think?
Knocking on the side of the hut, he waited while listening to the commotion inside. A meek voice called out, “Hold on! I’m coming!” when the cloth was pulled back, a small, brunette teen stood in the doorway. When she saw the man whom she’d fallen in love with standing before her, her eyes welled with tears. Auron remained emotionless, his hands wringing each other nervously.
“Tidus?” she murmured, reaching out and running a single finger down the left side of his face. It sent chills down Auron’s spine. He gave no sign of a yes, only standing and staring. Overcome with joy, Yuna jumped into his arms, burying her head in his shoulder, her arms wrapped around his neck. Tentatively, he returned the hug but only to comfort her. Yuna’s voice was muffled, yet he understood what she said. “Please don’t leave me again. Promise me you won’t leave me again.”
Wakka and Lulu watched, noticing how cold ‘Tidus’ was to his former lover. Both gave knowing glares to each other and escaped to the inside of their hut, leaving the couple to their reunion, however weird it may be.
Chapter 3, It’s not the Rikku he fell in love with
“Everywhere I go
Every smile I see
I know you are there
Smiling back at me.
Dancing in moonlight
I know you are free
Cause I can see your star
Shining down on me.”
Yuna and Auron sat in Yuna’s hut, together on a worn sofa. Yuna’s head was rested against the sturdy shoulder of Tidus’ body, her eyes half-closed in a dreamlike state. It had started to dawn on Auron what predicament he just might get himself into. He couldn’t exactly push Yuna off him, yet . . . this was his best friend’s daughter! This was the girlfriend of the kid he watched! Plus, he was in love with someone else. Not this girl sitting beside him.
Auron shifted his weight, brushing the blonde strand of hair from his aqua eyes. He was so tempted to get up and find a rubber band or string of some sort and pull his hair back. How could someone live with hair that was constantly attacking the tips of their eyebrows and forehead? In a desperate attempt to stop the tickling, Auron smacked himself in the face. Hard.
Yuna looked up and gasped over Auron’s silent whimpering and grunts of pain. She pulled his hand away from his face and gently examined the injury while asking, “Tidus. What’d you do that for?”
“This hair is incredibly itchy!” he exclaimed, his eyes tearing up as a reaction to the pain in his nose. He felt a warm liquid run down his upper lip, falling into the crease between both lips. Auron rubbed his nose with the palm of his hand. When he brought it away from his face, he noticed the red blood smeared within it.
“Oh! You’re bleeding!” Yuna cried out, jumping up from her comfy position. Auron smiled, yet it wasn’t the one he was used to. It was Tidus’ smile, not his. Yet, he worked with it.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll be fine.” He reassured. Yuna shook her head and started to bustle around, finding cloth and other first aid. No matter how many times he’d try discouraging her to help him; she continued to find supplies and such for his bleeding nose.
Three minutes and much clamor later, she knelt beside him, tipping his head back and wiping blood already on his lips. Auron closed his eyes to avert her eyes but still couldn’t escape her presence. Her breath was warm against his neck and cheek, her touch like velvet against his skin. His heart raced and his mouth became dry instantly. It scared him that he was so close to her. But she didn’t know. It wasn’t her fault.
“It might be broken.” Yuna’s voice announced to him. He opened his eyes and eyed her without moving his head downward. Her face portrayed worry. But he could tell she just wanted to laugh out loud.
“What’s so funny?” he asked.
Yuna brought her fingers to his lips, tracing around the sides of them. Auron brought his head down and gently grabbed her wrist to stop her. She paused and then moved her hand to the sides of his hair, brushing it away tenderly. A shiver passed down Auron’s spine.
He felt her hands snake down to the back of his neck as she pulled his face to hers. The next thing they knew was their lips touched.
Auron pulled away quickly at the contact. He shook his head, reaching behind his neck to retrieve her hands that were still gripped around it. He pulled them off him and held them within his own hands. “Yuna . . . I can’t. Maybe I’m not used to this yet, but I need time. You understand?” he felt like he was talking to a five-year-old.
Suddenly, his heart stopped. The pained look on Yuna’s face brought back the memory of the fight between him and Rikku. It was the same way the fight even got started. Sweat collected on his brow as he became nervous about what could happen next. Would she totally go off on him, like Rikku did?
A draft cooled Auron’s midriff, his stomach muscles tightening as the wind wrapped its way around his back and torso. His eyes were drawn back to Yuna’s multicolored ones. While her eyes expressed sadness and defeat, the rest of her face was calm and gentle. She looked down on the ground. “I’m sorry. I should have known.”
Auron stood up and made his way to the door. He pulled the curtain back, letting in a stream of light. He turned back to her and smiled. Auron still had to be Tidus, no matter what circumstances it came to. And if that meant lying to keep his character in check, then that’s what it would have to come to. He sighed. “Yuna, I . . . I still love you.” He stated quietly before stepping outside, letting the door fall back into place. Standing by the door and listening to Yuna’s stifled sobs hurt him inside, but that was the price to pay.
It was late that night and everyone was gathered around a small bonfire, small talk flying between them. A small celebration was being held for the return of Tidus. Sometimes there would be instances where one person would talk about an old conversation or story that had involved Tidus himself and Auron would have to improvise, sometimes going far enough as to saying he’d completely forgot.
After dinner and dessert, everything died down. Lulu had already gone inside with her baby and Yuna retired to her hut as well. Wakka and Auron lay in the dirt, staring up at the sky dotted with stars.
“Tidus, why are you acting weird around Yuna?” Wakka asked.
As blunt as the question was, it didn’t startle Auron. “What makes you think I’m acting weird around her?” he replied with a question.
“Well, Lulu and I aren’t exactly blind. We saw how cold you were to her. And she wasn’t exactly comfortable around you tonight either.”
Auron kept his mouth closed. He couldn’t exactly come out and say that it was really him and not Tidus. Who would believe him? Wakka sensed his uneasiness and sat up. He looked over at his friend and shook his head in dismay. Standing up, he took a handful of dirt and scattered it over the already-dying flame in the fire. Darkness settled quickly over the pair.
“I’m gonna go to bed. You get some rest, ya?” said Wakka as he turned to walk away.
“Wait!” Auron called him back, his body unmoving. His red-haired friend turned around and crossed his arms. “Rikku,” he chose his words carefully. “Is she anywhere around? I mean, will she visit?”
“Can’t say I know. I know she lives in Luca with her father.” Wakka waited for a reply but left when he received none. Auron was left in the dark to ponder his own thoughts. He didn’t even remember when his eyes fluttered shut and he was thrust in his own dream world.
The next thing he knew was someone’s hand on his arm shaking him lightly. Auron felt, not a comfy bed under his body, but the sharp rocks, rough dirt and hard cement against him. He groaned his discomfort and brought a hand to his head, rubbing his eyes.
“Tidus? Is that you?” a voice reverberated through his mind. Slowly, he sat up, keeping his eyes closed. The person’s arms helped him sit up and remain upright. “Tidus?”
Instantly his eyes flew open as he was quick to recognize the voice. His head turned and he was face to face to that of a young, teenage girl. Her green, swirled eyes radiated happiness and joy and her face was fresh and delighted. Even though she showed signs of aging a year, she still had the features Auron had grown accustomed to during the Pilgrimage. When she saw Tidus’ face turn to her, she smiled happily. “Tidus! You’re home!” she cried out.
Auron, though, wasn’t pleased. Here he was within arms reach of the girl he’d fallen head-over-heels in love with, yet he couldn’t do anything about it. His feelings got the better of him and he embraced her anyway. He could tell that she was surprised because her small being tensing up in his arms. Nonetheless, she hugged him back and laughed.
“How have you been, Rikku?” he asked in his stoic way. Rikku didn’t seem to catch it, though.
“I should be asking the same thing. I mean, first you leave and all that. Now you’re back here. How did you get back here? Did you make some deal with someone? Oh, how’s everyone in the Farplane? Did you find your dad? How’d you keep busy? If it were me, I probably would have gotten bored!”
Auron’s head was spinning from the interrogation. “I don’t know, no, fine, no, by sitting there and thinking of you.” He listed. The funny look on Rikku’s face puzzled him. “What? Did I say something I wasn’t supposed to?”
She narrowed her eyes. “Well . . . I thought you and Sir Jecht met up after you jumped off the airship. And . . . you were thinking of me?”
His eyes widened. “I didn’t say that.”
“Yes you did. I just heard you. You said, to keep busy, you’d sit there and think of me.”
Quick, think of an excuse. “I didn’t mean it like that. You’re personality just . . . it was kind of unforgettable, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh,” she hesitated. “Tidus, I probably shouldn’t be asking this but . . . did Auron ever . . . talk about me? Did he miss me?” she asked boldly.
“Of course.” He stated with certainty.
Rikku looked on the verge of tears. Auron lifted her chin with one finger and held her gaze. He spoke from his heart in an attempt to appease her. “I’m sure if he were here, he wouldn’t want you to cry. It’s not the Rikku he fell in love with.”
Chapter 4, Enter Ryo
“Can’t believe, you are here.
It seems just like a dream.
But when you look, in my eyes.
Your love becomes so clear to me.”
~Love Again Tonight
Dance Dance Revolution Max
Tidus looked at himself in the mirror, examining every aspect on his new face. What bothered him most was the vicious scar that ran from his upper-brow to his lower cheek. He ran a single finger down it, tracing its path slowly. Enclosed somewhere in the sealed lid was another russet eye possibly damaged from the attack.
Tidus shuddered at thoughts of how his guardian could have possibly sustained such a wound. The pain it must have caused. Plus, the blitzball star thought, the scar weakened his eyesight dramatically. He looked down at the glasses on the rim of the sink and the collar of his outfit and stared at them. True he couldn’t exactly say that he was grateful for the two items, only because he didn’t know how awful it must feel to be stared at because of your appearance; in Auron’s case, his scar. Yet, he knew that they helped to lessen the sudden sickness in just glancing at it, if that’s what you want to say.
Braska and Jecht appeared in the doorway, both out of breath. “We searched all of the Farplane and couldn’t find Auron . . . or your body . . . or something like that.” Braska said.
Tidus tore himself away from the mirror, but still kept touching the scar on his eye. Jecht crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. “How could this have happened?”
“Oh, I know,” Auron’s body started sarcastically, “maybe our spirits got so sick of being in our regular bodies that they decided to switch!” he said, motioning wildly with his hands. This got some snickers from Braska and Jecht who usually weren’t used to seeing their friend act like so.
Braska lowered his head and brought a more serious tone back within the group. “Well, let’s think logically. Auron would usually be by the cliff if anything. He’s not, though. So, if he’s not there, where would he be?”
Tidus’ face lit up immediately. “I know! I know where Auron is! Auron’s back in Spira! He’s in Spira, looking for Rikku.” When he spoke these words, a horrific expression took over. “He’s looking for Rikku . . . in my body!!”
The sun was poised high above the land of Spira. Auron stood on the steps of the ruins of Besaid’s temple. Gathering from gossip, he pieced together that, after the destruction of Yu Yevon, his followers abandoned the teachings and destroyed the temples. The only thing that remained was the statue of High Summoner Braska, vanquisher of Sin only ten years ago.
His eyes fluttered close in thought. He remembered that day, ten years ago after Sin was defeated, how everyone stood in the streets and cheered victory, thinking this might be the time Sin may never come back. Everyone was so busy cheering, though, that no one noticed the struggling man as he desperately made his way to Bevelle to rely a message. Midway he collapsed, taking in short, shallow breaths. He reminisced how the blood created small rivers on his already scarred body, pooling around him and seeping into the grass beside him.
A bulky, blue Ronso approached him. Kneeling down beside the man, he picked him up and brought him to a place where one could get medical treatment. The wounds were so great that the man never pulled through. He told the Ronso to go to Besaid and find the daughter of High Summoner Braska and take care of her. He thanked the Ronso with his final breath and went limp, never to awake again. Or so that’s how it was supposed to be.
Auron reopened his eyes and discovered he was knelt on the stone steps, shaking slightly. The memories of that day still haunted him. He recalled how a summoner was brought in to perform the sending after his death. Due to the promises made, Auron remained on Spira, refusing the call of the Farplane for ten years.
A hand on his shoulder caused him to jump at the contact. He jerked his head up to find Yuna’s face staring down on him. “You look sad.” She spoke softly. Auron held the back of his hand to his mouth and smirked. He stood up and towered a head over Yuna.
“I’m not sad. I’m just thinking. About everything.” He responded while walking away.
Yuna pulled him back by the hand and stared him in the eyes. “Tidus, I don’t understand. What’s wrong?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“Tidus . . .” she faded, her hand loosening its grip until it was easy to pull away.
Auron sighed. “When I get everything settled, you’ll see. I’ve just got to see where I stand in this world.”
Yuna observed as the man whom had become so cold and sullen to her meander away. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw the statue of her father standing tall over the rubble of the former temple. She bowed her head and brushed a piece of auburn hair behind her ear. “Was it something I did?”
Auron stopped, his eyes narrowed. “Don’t do this to me. I just . . . I . . . I’m sorry.” He continued on, upset that things weren’t going as he planned.
All I wanted was to come back and find Rikku. Not have this body and break Yuna’s heart. Why can’t anything I have planned be easy?
The normally red-clad guardian found himself standing at the water’s edge on Besaid Island. His shoes were steadily becoming wet with salty ocean water as they lapped continuously at them. Dark clouds were forming in the distance, threatening rain. For about an hour now, Auron could smell the rain approaching the island and felt the wind pick up in speed.
It felt like the first time he’d ever taken in the scenery around him. In fact, it practically was the first time he’d even noticed the beauty of the world by his side. He’d been so focused on his duties as a guardian; he never paused to marvel at what life really had to offer.
I guess there are some advantages to this body switching deal.
“Think again, Auron!” a voice reverberated in his mind. Auron whipped around, his eyes darting back and forth across the area. Did he just imagine that voice? It resounded again through his head. “Don’t be so dense! It’s me, Tidus! You know; the guy who inhabits your body as we speak?”
“How the he-.”
“What are you doing?! What happened? I mean, one minute, I’m sleeping. The next minute I’m freaking out because I’m almost twenty years older than I should be!”
“Wait! First, where are you?” Auron yelled, attracting stares from some Besaid villagers whom were near the dock. He grinned sheepishly and turned away. “Where are you?” he hissed under his breath.
“I’m still in the Farplane. But Braska, my dad, and I figured that maybe we can talk telepathically. I don’t know how it worked. Probably because you’re still tied here. But that’s not the point! What happened?”
“I jumped from the cliff.” He replied simply.
“What? Did you expect to kill yourself again?”
Auron inhaled sharply. Up until now, he really hadn’t considered why he had jumped from the cliff in the first place. But now that Tidus had brought it up, it actually made sense in a weird sort of way. Not to kill himself, no. But something along those lines. “I don’t know . . .”
“Well you better know in two seconds or I’ll come down there and-.”
“Tidus, respect your elders.” Braska’s voice scolded. Auron chuckled to himself.
“How do we switch back, Auron? C’mon, you should know.” Tidus importuned, desperation hinted slightly in his tone.
“I don’t know. Why can’t you figure this out yourself? Why is it I’m always the one who should know? I’m always the advice-man. For once, I’m able to think for myself. I’m able to do what I want. I don’t have to follow any rules or guidelines. This is about me. This is my problem!” chided Auron.
Tidus was quiet for a moment. “Do you have any ideas yet?”
Auron screamed. “Shut up! Just shut up!”
“Hey, I think Auron’s spazzing out.” Jecht bellowed. Tidus and Jecht laughed while Braska snickered to himself.
“You know what? You guys can figure this one out on your own. Call me back when you have something.” The guardian seethed, walking away from the beach and deep into the woods.
At long last, he was alone in both mind and body. While the three still could talk to him at any given time, they knew well that Auron wanted nothing to do with them for now.
Thunder roared overhead. He looked through the canopy of trees to the dark clouds above him. It wasn’t long before rain tumbled down the leaves and branches like balls in a pinball machine. They poured down on Auron and dampening his clothes and being. To anyone else, the rain might have put a bigger damper in their mood; To Auron, it felt kind of nice. Almost like how he felt right then.
With his hair clinging to his skull and an occasional shiver through his body, he slowly made his way back to the village. He made sure to take his time and sort out his feelings, which was something he really didn’t do often. When he finally arrived, he didn’t feel like trekking back to his own hut. Instead he came up upon Yuna’s hut. Knocking on the siding, he pulled the curtain back to reveal Yuna chatting sullenly with Rikku and another man.
When Yuna noticed Tidus’ soaked body, she gasped. “What are you doing out in the rain? You should be inside, you’ll get sick!” she reprimanded, pulling him inside by the arm. She sat him down opposite of the other two and left to retrieve a towel. Up until now, he really took no notice that he was actually quite cold. So he was grateful when Yuna wrapped the towel around his shoulders, embracing the warmth it released.
“Auron, what were you doing outside?” Rikku prodded. Everyone stared at her, mystified. She raised one eyebrow. “What?”
The man next to Rikku frowned. “Who’s Auron?”
By now, Auron’s heart was racing. Was he really that transparent?
Rikku brought a hand to her mouth which was already a large O. “Omigosh! Did I say Auron? Oh no, I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m sorry, Tidus!” she apologized profusely, shaking her head at her mistake. She faced the man next to her. “Auron was a fellow guardian with me to Yunie.” She gave no other information regarding their relationship.
Auron cleared his throat and pulled the towel closer to his body. “I’m sorry, Rikku. But, I don’t believe I’ve met your friend.”
Rikku smacked herself with the palm of her hand on her forehead. “Where are my manners? Again, sorry Tidus. Kyo, this is Tidus. Tidus, this is Kyo.”
Auron accepted the hot drink that was offered to him by Yuna. “So, are you two related or something? How do you two know each other?” he asked.
The Al-Bhed smiled and snuggled closer to Ryo. “We met in Luca a few months after the Pilgrimage at a blitzball game.”
“Oh, so you’re just friends?” he sipped his drink quietly.
“No, Ryo’s my boyfriend.”
The mug crashed to the floor and Auron’s eyes bugged out. “YOUR BOYFRIEND?!”
Chapter 5, Don’t mess with me
‘Days swiftly come and go.
I’m dreaming of her.
She’s seeing other guys
Emotions they stir.
The sun is gone.
The nights are long.
And I am left while the tears fall.'
Auron stood up and shook his head, an uneasy laugh escaping his lips. “No . . . you can’t have a boyfriend. I mean . . . .” His eyes darted back and forth across the room. Without another thought, he stormed from the hut. He hadn’t even realized that his ankle was bleeding slightly because of the shattered mug that hit him. Ignoring the pain, he ran back into the woods, his mind focused on nothing.
Because he wasn’t looking to where he was going, Auron’s foot caught in a root and he fell face first into the dirt. It was then that the whole scenario finally caught up with him.
“Does she really even like him? Can she truly be over me?” a flash of Rikku’s face as she snuggled into Kyo’s arm flashed through his mind. Auron bit his lower lip and pounded a fist into the ground. “Why was I so stubborn? Why couldn’t I have just told her I loved her when I had the chance? Yuna’s still waiting for Tidus.”
Auron closed his eyes as they stung with unwanted tears. This was just like that situation with Lina, the Priest’s daughter. He remembered how Lina had cornered him, telling him how it wasn’t necessary to marry her at all. How she already was in love with another man, a fellow warrior monk with Auron.
He had had a crush on her all those years, and she’d dismissed him for another man. Although it hadn’t hurt him as much as this, it was the same deal as this. This wasn’t some high school crush. He’d given his heart to Rikku, so to speak. And she hadn’t even bothered to wait for him, as if he’d even come back. Auron knew he was being selfish, but this was Rikku he was thinking about.
Footsteps resounded through the woods, leaves crunching as the person approached. Auron stood up, his back still turned. “Tidus, what’s your problem? What do you have against Kyo?” Rikku grabbed Auron’s wrist and spun him to face her. Her face was hardened and expressed anger and annoyance. Her eyes were narrowed to slits and were dimmed. Auron was surprised at how scary she looked when she was upset.
He was lost at what to say. Somehow he found his voice and responded. “Rikku, it’s not that I have anything against Ryo or anything. But . . . what about Auron?”
“What about Auron? I can’t help it if he’s gone and I’m still here.”
“Didn’t you love him though?” Auron pulled his hand away and tried to remain calm.
Rikku inhaled sharply, her eyes brightening with tears. “Tidus, he never once told me he loved me. I wasn’t about to make the first move. Auron was . . . very reserved and all that. How could he have truly loved me when he never expressed it?” she whispered. She smiled sadly and looked up in Tidus’ aqua-blue eyes. “It was really hard for me to get over him, but when I met Ryo . . . he was just . . . everything I wanted.”
Auron felt like he’d been punched in the stomach. He never realized how Rikku truly felt about their relationship. In fact, he thought she was quite happy with the way things were going. How could I have done this to her?
Ryo came strolling through the woods, interrupting ‘Tidus’ and Rikku. He stood back and ran a hand through his jet black hair. “Um, did I come at a bad time?” he asked.
Rikku wiped her eyes and fell into Ryo’s embrace. “Nah, I was just headed back. Tidus and I had a few issues we needed to work out.” She stated coldly. Ryo looked past Rikku’s head, glaring at Auron dangerously.
“Why don’t you go on ahead back to the village and get warmed up? I’ll catch up in a few minutes.” He sent her ahead. Then, he stalked towards Auron. “If you ever make my baby upset again, I’ll personally kill you. Nothing you say will change her feelings towards me. Don’t attempt to mess with me . . . Tidus . . .” he warned before striding away.
“She doesn’t love you.” Auron hissed loud enough to grab Ryo’s attention. Ryo spun around, his eyes narrowed. Auron walked past Ryo while continuing to speak. “You’re her rebound. She is still in love with someone else.”
Ryo only stood, dumbfounded.
Meanwhile, back in the Farplane, Tidus, Braska, and Jecht were thinking of ways to get everything back to normal. They all sat around a deserted area near the cliff, thinking of any ideas. Tidus was constantly slamming the palm of his hand to his forehead as if it’d do anything to make him think better.
“Y’know, this wouldn’t have happened if Auron hadn’t’ve jumped over that cliff.” Jecht complained.
Braska brought his head up slowly as an idea formed in his head. “Wait a minute. ‘This wouldn’t have happened if Auron hadn’t’ve jumped over that cliff’? Do you think that, if Tidus jumps over the cliff, they might switch back?”
Tidus grinned. “Should we try it? Should we try it? Should we try it?”
Jecht put his hand on the teenager’s shoulder. “Calm down, boy.”
“Well, what do we have to lose? I mean, Tidus won’t die anyway, regardless. C’mon Tidus, what do you say?”
Tidus jumped up and ran to the cliff’s edge. “I’ll see you two later. I’m getting back my body!” he called behind him. He sprung into the air, pulled himself into a ball, and plummeted into the black void below. Then, before he could even let out a scream, a chilling sensation overwhelmed him and he was thrust into nothingness.
When Tidus awoke, he was washed ashore, sand and water coating his skin. His eyelids fluttered open and he sat up. He looked down at his outfit and groaned. Apparently the trick didn’t work. Tidus was still clad in red with silver-streaked hair and bad eyesight. He looked out onto the horizon and sighed.
“You’ve got one week to get everything worked out, Tidus!” Braska cried out to him in his head.
Tidus looked to the sky. “What are you talking about? Is there a time limit to this body switching thing?”
“Sort of. Do you remember hearing that, those who are unsent for too long become fiends?”
Tidus’ heart dropped when he realized what Braska was getting at. “You don’t mean . . .”
“If you and Auron don’t hurry up, you’ll both become fiends!”
Chapter 6, The Proposal Part I
“Cause when there’s you
I feel whole
And there’s no better feeling in the world.
But without you, I’m alone.
And I’d rather be in love with you.”
‘I’d Rather Be In Love With You’
Auron had spent a majority of the week avoiding Rikku. She, too, seemed to be avoiding him as well, always spending time with Ryo. While she appeared happy all the time, Auron could see it in her eyes. Rikku was downright miserable. Her front wasn’t working so well. But she had Ryo fooled, that he knew.
Over the week, the guardian had developed a liking for the clearing in the woods where he had the argument with Rikku. It became his little thinking spot. It was also a way to leave the world of heartache and confusion behind.
“This isn’t like me.” He thought aloud to himself, twirling a leaf by the stem in his fingers. “Why am I so upset over Rikku? She does have a right to choosing who she wants to date. Or fall in love with. Besides, it was sort of wrong that I was even interested in her. I could be her father for Yevon’s sake. Yes, maybe this was for the best. Maybe I should just figure out a way to get back to the Farplane and leave Rikku in peace.”
“Oh, come off it Auron. Quit being so melodramatic.” A voice Auron recognized as his own spoke from below the tree he was sitting in. Surprised, Auron looked down to find his own body grinning back at him.
“Yup, the one and only. And, if I may say so myself, your body, it sucks. I can’t see anything, and this darn outfit is too bulky for its own good.”
Auron smirked to himself and hopped from the limb of the tree. He had to agree that, while Auron got the better end of the deal by getting to be Tidus for a while, Tidus had to deal with the fact that he was in a body that was almost twice his age. Suddenly, he noticed how Tidus’ face glowed as he circled Auron.
“I did not know I looked that good! No wonder all the girls back in Zanarkand wanted to go out with me. Sheesh, I’d go out with myself!” he said arrogantly.
Auron grabbed Tidus by the arm and frowned. “You don’t know the situation we’re in, do you?”
Tidus suddenly became serious. “Actually, it might be worse than you thought.” He replied.
The older guardian raised an eyebrow and brushed a strand of blonde hair from his face. “What are you talking about?”
“Well, you see. Jecht and Braska found out that we only have a limited time on Spira or we’ll be transformed into fiends. You know, because we’re out of the Farplane? Oh, that, and your predicament with Rikku. As well as mine with Yuna.” He stifled a laugh. “The funny thing about all this is . . . Yuna will probably believe me. We could go and tell her now, and she wouldn’t mind. Probably be embarrassed because she kissed her boyfriend’s mentor and her father’s guardian, as well as her own. Other than that, it’d be no problem-o. But then you have Rikku to deal with and she has her boyfriend who she claims to love but I think she’s trying to get over you too early which could actually be a bad thing because then she’ll-.”
“ALRIGHT! I get the picture!! God, will you shut up!?” Auron shouted, quickly becoming annoyed. Tidus sneered and crossed his arms. Silence followed, only interrupted by the chirping of faraway birds.
“So, what do we do, boss?” Tidus mumbled. Auron leaned back against the tree. His blue eyes scanned their surroundings. For the first time in forever, Auron was totally out of ideas.
“I don’t know.” He whispered. He let a smile escape his lips as he pushed himself off the tree. “Tidus, I just wanted to say I’m sorry. This is, after all, my fault. If I hadn’t of jumped-.”
“No, don’t start. We didn’t know this would happen. Besides, what happens happens for a reason. You should never regret anything in life, am I right?”
“Yeah. You’re right,” he nodded. “Well, I guess the first thing we should do is head back to Besaid Village. Everyone’s going to freak now that they think I’m back.”
Tidus chuckled. “It’s kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh! The dead are escaping the Farplane! It’s the end of the world!’.” He let out a girly scream, impersonating what a girl would do if she, or anyone for that matter, would do if they found out.
Both headed back through the woods, Tidus in awe at being back in Spira. It was almost like he was seeing everything for the first time once more. When they finally reached the entrance to the village, Auron pulled him aside behind the wall. “Tidus, you’ve got to listen to me. The thing is, I don’t think that everyone’s ready to find out that we’re not each other yet. I’ve been wanting to give it a little more time before I, or we,” he corrected when Tidus gave him a funny look. “Tell them. So, I’m going to need you to act like me for a little while. You got that?” he instructed.
Tidus pushed Auron away and smiled. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine! Being you will be easy. Look! ‘I’m Auron and I don’t have a clue what’s going on around me. I date girls that are half my age and I like to drink sake!’ How’s that?”
Auron narrowed his eyes and pushed Tidus ahead. “Shut up and keep walking.”
“No! Really, was that good?” Tidus persisted. Auron found it quite hard to push Tidus in his former body.
“Yes, it was fine. Happy? Now, let’s go.” He lied.
The older guardian noticed how many people were eyeing the red-clad man who happened to be Tidus. Of course. Auron was Braska’s guardian. And Braska was a sort of legend around Spira. So it was only fitting his guardians were legends, too.
Tidus didn’t seem to notice, however. Instead, he walked up to Wakka’s hut and pushed the curtain door beside. Lulu was holding the baby and shrieked when she saw the silhouette of someone in her doorway. “What the heck!?” she exclaimed.
“Lulu! It’s me! Tid- er, I mean, Auron!” Tidus quickly recovered. Auron slapped a hand to his forehead and shook his head in dismay.
“Auron? Oh god, Auron! You nearly gave me a heart attack. How did you get back here? What’s going on?” she had managed to calm down enough to finally talk.
“Oh, what am I doing back? I don’t know. Ask Tidus over here! He’d be happy to tell you.” Tidus replied cheerfully, nothing close to Auron’s persona. He then looked down at the baby Lulu was holding and smiled. “Lulu! I didn’t know you were a mother!”
Lulu smiled and shifted the child to her other arm, grinning at him softly. “Yeah, after Wakka and I got married, we both wanted a child. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Auron intervened. “Lulu, I’m sorry to interrupt this little reunion, but you don’t happen to know where Rikku, Ryo, and Yuna are, do you?”
The Black Mage nodded. “They took a ship over to Luca and are going to stay there for a while. I’m surprised they didn’t tell you.”
“Luca? Yeah! I can’t wait! Do they still play blitzball? Oh, and those nightclubs! I haven’t been to one of those in ages!” Tidus blabbered, not even paying attention to the looks that Auron and Lulu had given him.
“Wow . . . Auron . . . you’ve sure changed.” Lulu speculated.
“Yeah . . . Auron. Why would you want to go to nightclubs in the first place? We’re here to see our girlfriends. Not take a tour of Spira. Which, by the way, we already toured when we were on our PILGRIMAGE!” Auron reminded through gritted teeth. Tidus looked at him stupidly for a few seconds before he got the hint.
“Oh! That’s right! I’m supposed to act like you.” Tidus covered his mouth when he realized what he said. “Crap. I’ve gotta learn how to keep those things to myself.”
Lulu had one eyebrow raised. “Guys, what’s going on? This is getting a bit out of control . . .”
Both guys were quiet, neither one wanting to admit what really was happening. Tidus spoke first. “Well, you see . . . I’m not Auron . . . and that’s not Tidus. We kind of switched bodies.”
Lulu’s mouth dropped and her eyes widened a little bit. “Wait a minute . . . you’re each other? Tidus is in Auron’s body and Auron is in Tidus’ body?”
“Yes. That’s why I can’t get near Yuna. Because she’d be with the wrong person.” Auron chipped in.
“Why haven’t you told the girls yet? I mean, they need to know. Rikku is slowly, but surely, falling in love with Ryo.” She then turned to Tidus. “And you! Be grateful Wakka isn’t here. Do you realize how sad Yuna was when you left? You promised her and then left her alone for a year!” Lulu was now up in Tidus’ face. “You owe her an apology! I don’t care what she says about your . . . dilemma . . . but you’d better find a way to make it up to her. Fast!”
“I’m sorry, Lulu. It wasn’t my fault. Really! I wouldn’t have made those promises if I had known I wouldn’t be around much longer.” Tidus explained.
“Lulu, you don’t happen to know if there’s a ship leaving port anytime soon, do you?” Auron asked. He didn’t care for these petty arguments. He just wanted to get to Rikku!
“I think there’s one leaving tomorrow to go to Kilika and then to Luca. You can stay here for the night if you’d like. There’s still a lot of explaining you guys need to do. Wakka will want to hear also. So, maybe you should wait until he gets home. Make yourselves comfortable.” She gestured to the room before them. Auron and Tidus gave each other a calming look and both made to the couch.
Lulu had left the hut, leaving the two men alone. Tidus turned to Auron and shrugged. “See, telling everyone isn’t that hard. Why would it be so hard to tell Rikku and Yuna?”
“Because, I don’t want to push her farther away.” Auron whispered, looking down into the palms of his hands.
“Well, you’d better find a way to tell her soon. We’ve got a limited time. Remember that.” The teen reminded, leaning back into the couch and putting his hands behind his head.
Auron pursed his lips and looked to the door. Let’s hope telling her will be easier said than done.
Auron and Tidus stepped off the ship on the port of Luca four days after leaving Besaid. Tidus was busy jogging up ahead, anxiously looking from one site to the other. Auron, however was too busy with other things on his mind.
After much yelling and scolding made by Wakka and Lulu, everyone figured it was for the best that the two told Yuna and Rikku immediately what happened. And both agreed that it was Yuna they told first. With her on their side, it’d be much easier to convince Rikku who they were.
Ryo was another story.
Even if they did tell her in the short amount of time they had, how could they get her to break up with Ryo? Would she even want to break up with him?
“Auron? Hey Auron! C’mon, let’s go! Lulu and Wakka said they were staying in one of Rin’s resorts he has set up here! It should be near the Blitzball stadium! C’mon, I want to see Yuna!” he called out to his mentor.
After aimless wandering for over an hour in the large city, they finally stumbled upon a large resort hotel. Many people were bustling through the large, revolving doors, suitcases and all. Cars and such would pull up to the door and brush past the two as if they were nothing.
Tidus crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, are we going to stand here all day?”
Auron turned and raised a single eyebrow at him. “Are you attempting to boss me around? You may have forgotten, but I’m still older than you.”
The teen suppressed a giggle. “It’s so funny to see you say that . . . in that body.”
Auron rolled his eyes and walked through the revolving doors, Tidus in tow. When they walked in through the doors, their jaws dropped to the ground. There were no words to describe just how . . . ornate the lobby was. The ceilings were painted with angels like in a cathedral and the furniture was lovely red velvet trimmed with gold. The marble-tiled floors were cleaned to perfection and every employee wore ironed uniforms.
While both continued to gawk, a tall, blonde man approached them from behind. “Ah, Welcome to Rin’s Hotel. How may I help you?”
Tidus turned around and smiled as he recognized the man. “Hey! I know you! You’re Rin. Remember me? It’s Tidus.”
Rin appeared confused. “I’m terribly sorry. But you cannot be Tidus for you are Auron and you,” he gestured to Auron, “Are Tidus.”
Auron cleared his throat. “Long story made short, we switched bodies.”
Rin, still mystified, spoke. “Well, if you say so. Anyway, how may I help you? Would you like to stay for the night, perhaps?”
“Actually, we were wondering. Did Rikku, Yuna, and a man named Ryo come through here?”
“Yes. Just yesterday. The man you are talking about, Ryo, paid for the penthouse at the top of the hotel, of course. Would you like to visit them?”
“That’d be great.” Auron agreed, walking toward the elevators and pressing the button to go up. Tidus caught up with the key to the trio’s room as well as their own.
“Don’t worry about the price. It’s on the house.” Rin called after them as they made their way onto the crowded elevator.
After numerous stops on the way to the top, Auron and Tidus finally arrived at the penthouse suite. “Maybe Rikku’s a gold-digger!” Tidus suggested rather loudly, receiving a cold stare from Auron. “Oh, that’s right. You’re dead.”
“Just give me the key.” The guardian retorted. Tidus handed him the key and both proceeded to the door. As they were about to place the key in the door, it flung open.
“Ryo, don’t worry about us! We’ll be back in-.” Rikku was stopped when she was face-to-face with Auron and Tidus. Yuna appeared from around the corner and stopped, too.
“Uh, hey . . . Rikku.” Tidus greeted rather awkwardly. His gaze, however, quickly fell upon Yuna who was still standing back shyly. Auron jabbed him in the stomach, bringing him back from his dream world. Rikku was now looking at Tidus (Auron’s body) with such surprise.
“Oh my gosh . . . Auron . . . .” she whispered. “Why are you back?”
“Um . . . because I was allowed?” Tidus tried.
Rikku snapped from her trance when Ryo appeared from around the corner as well. “Girls, what’s wrong? Are you alr-.” He halted when he saw the red-clad guardian in the doorway along with ‘Tidus’. “Rikku, who’s this?”
Still a bit dazed, she turned to Ryo and spoke faintly. “Ryo, this is Auron. Now, if you’ll excuse me, Yuna and I have some shopping to do.” She reached for Yuna’s hand and pulled her out the door, between Tidus and Auron.
Auron looked behind his shoulder at the girls who were still rushing to get away. I don’t understand . . .
Chapter 7, The Proposal Part II
Auron was sitting on a bed in the hotel room both he and Tidus were staying in. Rikku’s face as she opened the door only to find Auron standing there . . . . actually it was Tidus in his body . . . but still.
“C’mon Auron. Why don’t we go out and get a drink or something? Let’s get over girls for now and just hang out. I mean, we’re in Luca! Let’s do something!” Tidus flipped the stations on the TV in the room only to find nothing on. He turned it off and flopped back on the bed. “Actually, new idea. Let’s take a nap and wait until tonight to go out. Maybe we can get together with Rikku and Yuna, if Ryo will let us with Rikku.”
“I’ve gotta go take a walk.” Auron muttered under his breath and left the room, despite Tidus’ protests.
There was still so much of the city Auron had yet to see. But none of that mattered to him right now. All he desired, if anything was a drink of sake. That was when he stumbled upon the bar wedged between the blitzball stadium and some other shop. He walked inside and immediately sat in a chair along the bar.
The bartender walked over to him and smiled. “Is there anything you’d like to drink, sir?” he asked pleasantly.
“Sake.” Was all he said.
The bartender’s smile fell to a frown. “I’m sorry. I’m going to have to ask for ID. You kind of look underage, kid.”
Auron was quite fed up, yet he kept his calm. “Look, I’ve been having a really rough day. I’d explain it to you, but you’d call someone to put me in the nuthouse. I’ll pay you however much you want. Just give me some sake.”
The bartender immediately took up the offer when he heard about how much gil he could make. “Yes sir. Sake, coming right up! That’ll be 500 gil.” He sneered, milking him for all he was worth.
Sighing, he gave up the gil he had and slammed it on the counter. The bartender came back with the sake and slid the gil into his hands, his eyes glowing greedily.
“Maybe a few drinks and I’ll head back to the hotel afterwards.”
Tidus awoke from his nap, the covers pulled up to his chin. The room was dark because the sun had set not to long ago. When Tidus opened his eyes, he saw no sign of his mentor. Groaning, he slipped from his cozy cocoon and stumbled to turn on a nearby light. He noticed a note placed beside the nightstand. Still half-asleep, he picked it up and read it.
Please come meet me by the blitzball stadium tonight at seven. I’ll be waiting there.
P.S. I got your room number from Rin.
Tidus looked at the clock next to the lamp and moaned. It was 7:10. Hurriedly, he left a note to the real Auron explaining everything and left. He made his way to the large blitzball stadium which towered over all buildings and arrived at the meeting spot within fifteen minutes since he left the hotel room. Rikku sat on a nearby bench looking preoccupied. Tidus began to worry. What was bugging her?
He sat on the bench next to her and looked out into the crowd of people. “Hey. Sorry I’m late.”
“Auron, you’re not supposed to be back from the Farplane. Everything was going fine without you here.” She spoke harshly.
“Rikku, what’s the ma-.” A gleam from a ring on Rikku’s left ring finger caught his eye. Everything was slowly coming together.
“Auron. Please, just leave. I fell out of love with you when you never came back.”
“Rikku, tell me what’s wrong!” he demanded.
A single tear cascaded from her eye as she turned to face Tidus directly. “Auron . . . I’m engaged. Ryo proposed to me last night.”
Tidus felt his stomach drop. Ryo proposed to Rikku. He continued to listen to Rikku talk. “I didn’t know you’d come back to me. I had to move on. I’m . . . I’m sorry.”
Tidus couldn’t even speak. How would Auron react? “When’s the wedding?”
“In two months. Ryo wants to get married as soon as possible.”
“Two months . . .” he stood up from the bench. “I’ve gotta go.” He excused himself, leaving Rikku to ponder everything by herself.
Tidus had to hurry and tell Auron. They not only had to worry about becoming fiends, but now Rikku had an upcoming wedding with Ryo! Willing away the pain that so desperately wanted to consume his chest and legs; he ran into the hotel and eagerly pressed the up button, hoping Auron was back in the room.
He reached into a pocket of his coat and pulled out the key to the room. Thrusting it open, he smiled to himself when he saw Auron sprawled across the bed. He closed the door and shook Auron in an attempt to wake him.
“Auron! Auron, I know you can hear me! This is important, it’s about Rikku!”
Auron stirred and opened his eyes halfway. “What? I’m extremely drunk and I want to go to sleep. Leave me alone.”
“Rikku’s getting married to Ryo!” he bellowed. Auron froze, his eyes opening suddenly. Tidus continued. “She told me he proposed to her last night. She was really sorry and she . . . she doesn’t love you anymore.”
Auron sat up and grasped Tidus around the collar. “You liar. She still loves me; I can see it in her eyes. She’s miserable with Ryo, I know it. You’re both lying.”
“Auron, let go of me. I’m just telling you what she told me. She told me the wedding was in two months. Auron, we have two months, if not less. Now, let go of me!”
The older man obliged and released his grip on his coat collar. Tidus tumbled backwards on the bed and hit his head on the edge of the nightstand. Auron, however, was still in a stupor. When Tidus recovered, he sat back up on the edge of the bed and glared at his mentor. “Auron, you’ve gotta tell her. If you don’t, she’ll marry Ryo and you’ll never get to have her again. I know she still loves you. It’s like you say. Her face portrays happiness and all that good stuff that comes with a relationship. But her eyes hold a different story. And she’ll never be satisfied until you tell her.”
“It’s not that easy. You see, I can’t just go up to her and tell her I love her. Even if I was back in my own body, I couldn’t say it. I don’t know how to express that sort of emotion.”
“Shut up, Auron! I’m getting sick of you moping around about how you can’t tell her you love her! You can’t even tell her that you’re you in my body! I don’t get you sometimes. You want to lose her, fine. But when we’re back in the Farplane, don’t whine to us about how you regret not telling her.” Tidus reprimanded. He walked to the door and opened it. “I’m going to tell Yuna about everything. Maybe she can help us out.” Tidus slammed the door behind him.
Auron sat, staring at the door for several minutes, thinking of Tidus’ words.
You want to lose her, fine. But when we’re back in the Farplane, don’t whine to us about how you regret not telling her.
“For an eighteen year old, you’re not as dumb as I thought you to be.”
Yuna opened the door to find Auron towering above her. She couldn’t even speak for he had dragged her out into the hallway and closed the door softly. “We need to talk.”
“Sir Auron . . . how’d you get back? From the Farplane, I mean.” Yuna asked, a hint of fear in her voice.
“Look, that’s not important. But what I’m about to tell you must be kept secret from Rikku until the time comes. You must promise me that what I’m going to say will stay between me, you, and the real Auron.”
“ ‘The real Auron?’ Wait . . . what’s going on? What happened to Auron? Who are you?!” she began to get frantic.
“Yuna, listen to me! Auron’s fine. Well, if you don’t want to consider heartbreak as something of being ok. Now, promise me you won’t tell anyone. We don’t really want to be considered crazy. And this is really hard telling you for some reason unknown to us.”
“I’m Tidus. I’m the real Tidus, stuck in Auron’s body.” He confessed. Yuna halted, her mind registering what just came out of his mouth.
“That’s not right. I mean, Tidus has been here for a while now. You’re Sir Auron . . . aren’t you? I’m sorry, I’m just . . . confused. I don’t get what’s going on . . . .”
“Auron jumped from the cliff in the Farplane and landed in the ocean off the island of Besaid in my body. When I did the same thing in an attempt to get my body back, I just landed here in Auron’s body. You’ve gotta believe me.”
“I do believe you . . . it’s just . . . overwhelming. . . I mean, you’re back.” She whispered, he multi-colored eyes searching Tidus’ own. “I missed you, Tidus.”
All thoughts of telling her everything washed away, replaced with dreams of being with her once more. The girl he fell in love with over her pilgrimage. “I . . . missed you, too. You can’t imagine how much pain I felt having to leave you.”
Yuna took a step forward. “This isn’t a joke, right?”
Tidus took a step forward as well. He reached his arm out and pulled her into an embrace, stroking her short, brown hair and looking down at her. “Now, why would I lie about coming back?”
Something nagged at him to tell her about their time limit on Spira, but he just brushed it away.
She needs to find out sometime, but I just can’t tell her now. Why interrupt her happiness?
Tidus hugged her tighter and smiled. “I also wanted to say I love you. I didn’t get to say it last time, before I had to leave.”
Snuggled into his chest, he could barely make out what she was saying, but he still caught it quite clear. “It’s alright. You being here makes up for it all.”
Chapter 8, Mistaken Identity
“Will you walk me
To the edge again?
And I am drinking again.
Woke up tonight and no one’s here
I’m giving in to you.”
Rikku and Ryo sat in a booth in a fancy restaurant overlooking the waters off the coast of Luca. Rikku kept looking down at her new engagement ring and couldn’t help but feel guilty at wearing it. Ryo noticed her uneasiness and reached across the table to hold her hand. “Sweetie, what’s wrong? Are you having some doubts? Listen, everything’s going to be fine, don’t worry.”
She shook her head. “It’s not that, Ryo. Its just . . . remember how I was telling you about Auron, and how he was just a friend?” she started.
Ryo laughed. “Oh, that blonde-haired dimwit? Don’t tell me he’s got anything to do with you having-.”
“Listen to me! No, Auron’s the one who just appeared the other day. The one in the red coat? The other guy you’re talking about is Tidus. But that’s not the point. Look, this is really hard to say, so I’m going to say it. During Yuna’s pilgrimage, when I met Auron, we started seeing each other secretly during the journey. Well, when he died, of course I had to let go of him and that’s when I met you. I guess you could say I’m a little guilty about wearing this ring and then seeing Auron come back.” When she looked up, she gasped. Ryo’s face was contorted to express such anger and jealousy that Rikku had never seen before.
“Auron’s twice your age, Rikku.” He tried to keep his cool but it wasn’t working.
“I realize that. And it was just a silly little crush. Can we just drop it now? I told you what I was feeling-.”
Ryo had stood up and knocked everything off the table. The commotion drew everyone’s eyes to the couple. “I forbid you to see him again, under any circumstances,” he shouted. He reached out for her hand but missed when she pulled away. He tried again but failed. So he pulled her hair and finally grabbed hold of her wrist. “We’re leaving.”
Rikku winced as she was dragged through the maze of tables, everyone avoiding her eyes. Nobody would help her. Ryo was the richest guy in Luca. Why would they want to mess with him? When they finally came outside, Ryo pushed her away from him and glared down upon her. She tried hard to hold the tears of embarrassment and shame back. “It’s not what you think. I love you, Ryo. Please, you’ve got to believe me. Auron’s just a thing of the past. Would you stop being so jealous and possessive?” she pleaded.
When he saw just how hurt she was, all anger faded from his face, replaced with fear. “Oh god, Rikku. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean . . . I wasn’t thinking, I . . . Rikku I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?” he repeated.
The Al-Bhed immediately looked up at her fiancée. How had it been that, less than ten seconds ago, Ryo was pulling her hair and yelling in her face to being all gentle and apologetic? She pulled away from his hand which was resting on her cheek and shook her head. “What are you trying to pull?” she hissed.
“What are you talking about? Sweetie, I didn’t mean to hurt you and I promise not to do it again. I was just a little jealous, that’s all. C’mon, don’t be all cold towards me. Let’s go back to the hotel and order some wine and forget about tonight,” he suggested. Rikku looked back at his face and couldn’t help but smile. Ryo’s face was just so adorable when he wanted his way. She nodded and linked her arm through Ryo’s when he offered it.
“I promise I won’t pull your hair like that again. Nor will I embarrass you in front of a whole restaurant either,” Ryo whispered in her ear, though Rikku could detect a hint of playfulness in his voice, almost as if he didn’t mean it at all. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind and figured it was her mind playing tricks on her and leaned closer to Ryo’s muscular arm. She breathed in his cologne and sighed. How could she not forgive him, either? He was everything she wanted.
He was everything she wanted . . .
Yuna was lying in Tidus’ bed, Auron sitting in a chair in the corner and Tidus standing against the wall. When Yuna had found out about the whole ordeal, she came back with Tidus and agreed to help them with getting Rikku back with Auron, even though she thought it was a bit wrong on all levels.
“Yuna, how long has Rikku been with this Ryo character?” Tidus spat, almost disgusted with the name.
“Well, they met about two months after the Pilgrimage, so . . . I’d say about eight months.”
“Why would he want to get married to her so soon? Only eight months after they’d started dating?” Auron raised one eyebrow.
“I heard him talking to his father on the phone last night after he proposed to her and he said that he was a bit jealous of this ‘Auron’ guy. He knows she still a bit attached to you, Sir Auron. So, to erase you from her mind, he wants to marry her as soon as possible.”
“So, you’re saying he really didn’t want to propose to her out of love? He’s jealous?” the blitzball star inquired.
Yuna looked at the ground and thought of what to say. “Well, I didn’t say that. He does love her. She’s practically his whole world. But, yes. His jealousy is a bit of the reason that he proposed to her. I’m worried for Rikku. Sometimes I’m worried he’ll hurt her, the way he gets jealous.”
Auron snapped his head up at Yuna at this comment. “What do you mean you’re worried he’ll hurt her?”
“I’m afraid he’ll go overboard with this whole engagement and jealousy thing that he’ll do something drastic. I could be wrong, though.”
“Are you saying he’s abusive?” Auron persisted, leaning farther and farther off the chair.
“Calm down, Auron. She didn’t say that. All she said was-.”
“No, Tidus,” Yuna interrupted. “I think that, if he was pushed enough, Ryo might actually become abusive.”
Tidus let out a nervous laugh. “But Rikku’s always going on and on about how perfect Ryo is. It doesn’t make sense.”
“Why didn’t you stop her, Yuna?” the older guardian’s knuckles were white from gripping the sides of the chairs tightly.
“I tried. But she was so convinced that she was really in love with him. So, when he proposed, it was such a blessing for her. She could forget about you and go on with her life.”
Auron stood up and paced the room. “This is my entire fault.”
“Oh, shut up Auron! Please stop with the dramatics. Look, just go tell her right now how you feel. Tell her everything. I can’t stand much of your moping anymore!”
“Tidus!” Yuna scolded.
“No, I’m serious. I told Yuna about how I felt. I told her about our problem. You? What have you accomplished these past weeks? Absolutely nothing.”
“Shut up!” Auron screamed, throwing a phone book at the teen, hitting him in the chest. “I’m sorry that I have no clue what to do. I’m sorry that I’m absolutely scared of rejection. Well, Tidus? What more do you want me to say? I’ve exploited my weakness to you. What more do you want?” he continued to pace the room. “God, Tidus. You just don’t know when to quit. Not everyone is as brave as you, alright? I know you mean well when you motivate someone, but sometimes enough is enough.”
The tension was thick enough to cut through. Tidus nodded and pushed himself off the wall. “C’mon Yuna. Let’s go,” he muttered, opening the door for Yuna and leaving after her.
Immediately, Auron pulled a handful of gil out of his pocket and counted it. Just enough for a drink down at the bar. But before he left, another idea hit him. One that involved Rikku. One that she would love.
Tidus and Yuna wandered the streets of Luca, looking at the displays in the shop windows. Tidus was so glad to be next to Yuna again and to be next to her without a constant worry about her being a summoner and him being a dream. It was then he felt like he was dropped into a tub of ice, cold water. Up until now he had completely forgotten about how he had a limited time on Spira.
He grasped her wrist and pulled her back to him. Her multi-colored eyes, bright with happiness, fell upon his. “What’s wrong?”
“I . . . uh . . . I forgot to tell you something. Well, you see . . . oh this is going to be hard,” he looked around and frowned. “Here, come with me. Let’s go over there so we won’t be bothered.” He pointed to a staircase leading up to the Mi’hen Highroad. Both climbed to the top where a ledge at the top of the stairs overlooked the whole of Luca. The Blitzball stadium shone the brightest of all the buildings and rose above all.
“Tidus,” she spoke in her gentle voice. “Is something wrong?”
“Actually Yuna . . . I have to tell you this or you’ll never forgive me. Well, you know how those who refuse to go to the Farplane become fiends?” he started, not one looking over at Yuna. “Well, since Auron and I are technically from the Farplane, we don’t have long on Spira. If we don’t finish what we came here to do, then we’ll certainly become fiends.” He finally faced Yuna who had a pained look on her face. “I’m sorry.”
She smiled sadly. “It’s alright. I should have known there was a catch.”
Tidus pulled her closer to him, a bit annoyed that Auron was a bit taller than himself. Cursed body switching thing. “You’re sad,” he whispered.
“No, I’m fine,” she lied.
He pulled back a little and lifted her face so he could see it. She was, indeed, holding back tears. “Why do you continue to hold back your feelings? It’s not a sin you know.”
She lowered her head, a single tear falling down her face. “I’m sorry.”
Seeing his girlfriend cry, Tidus couldn’t take it anymore. He did the one thing he would have done if he was in his own body. He leaned down and kissed her lightly on the lips. Yuna gasped and pulled back. “Tidus, what if people see us? I mean, they think you’re Auron.”
“No one’s up here. It’s late anyway. Everyone’s asleep or out partying.”
Convinced, Yuna nodded. Both leaned in and kissed each other under the shining moon and glittering stars. Nothing could have been more perfect.
Except one Al-Bhed happened to be walking up the stairs after her ordeal with her fiancée. When she saw the couple kissing on the ledge, she had to cover her mouth to keep from screaming. Auron . . . was kissing her cousin Yunie! Frantic, she rushed down the stairs, unnoticed.
Moments later, she found herself in the arms of Ryo. He tilted his head and frowned. “Rikku, why are you so upset?”
“Let’s not wait to get married two months from now. I want to get married sooner,” she sobbed.
Ryo felt a smirk plant on his face. “Sweetie, whatever you want. We’ll get married in two weeks, how’s that sound?”
Rikku nodded, wiping a tear from her face. “Perfect.”
Chapter 9, He never loved me
“And stay there as
How I love your peaceful eyes
Did you ever know
That I had mine on you?”
~Eyes on Me
It was early the next morning and Yuna couldn’t feel anymore happier. Humming to herself as she bustled around the hotel room, she almost missed the glare Rikku kept throwing at her. It looked like a mixture of disgust and hatred. In mid-tune, Yuna turned to her cousin and tilted her head. “Is there something wrong?”
“Don’t talk to me, Yuna. You know what you did. Last night, with Auron?” she hissed almost dangerously.
Yuna raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was with Tidus all night, except for the time when we were all in their hotel room . . .” she brought a hand to her mouth when she finally realized what Rikku was talking about. “Wait! Are you talking about last night, on the ledge of the stairs by the Mi’hen Highroad?”
“Wow, you’re quick,” the Al-Bhed retorted, breezing past Yuna and walking to her room that she shared with Ryo.
“Rikku! Wait, it’s not what you-.” The door slammed behind Rikku, leaving Yuna alone in the living room area. Her heart was pounding and she held onto the sofa for support.
Wow, what a great way to find out . . .
It was then she realized just how much deeper the problem was slowly becoming. If Rikku thought that it was Auron that Yuna was kissing, how great were the chances that she would take him back if and when he switched bodies back with Tidus? Slim to none, she supposed.
Yuna took a deep breath and proceeded to knock on Rikku’s door. When she received no reply, she gently cracked it open and wasn’t too surprised to see the blonde curled in a ball, sniffling. She walked across the room and sat on the bed, her back to Rikku.
“If you’d only let me explain. I have an excuse-.”
Rikku’s laugh came out higher than usual. “An excuse? To kiss my ex-boyfriend? To kiss your father’s guardian? TO KISS YOUR GUARDIAN?!”
Yuna closed her eyes. “No, that’s not it. You see-.”
“No, you know, I don’t even want to hear your excuse. I saw what happened with my own eyes, Yuna. I’m not blind,” she sat up and stared her cousin in the eyes. “The thing that sickens me the most isn’t the fact that you kissed him. No, the thing that totally gets to me is that you’re kissing him while Tidus is here. You’re a little whore.”
Yuna was totally taken aback. Her eyebrows furrowed. “Alright Rikku. I see where you’re coming from. I’ll just leave. I’ll stay in Tidus and Auron’s hotel room for the time being.”
Rikku laughed again. “Oh, ok. So you can screw both of them at the same time?”
The brunette ignored the comment and simply walked away. Before she reached the door, however, Rikku called her back. “Yuna, I forgot to mention. The wedding’s been moved to two weeks from now. And as for you and me looking for a wedding dress together, you can forget it. I’ll have Ryo hire someone to help me. Don’t bother coming either or I’ll have you kicked out. Auron too.”
Nodding, Yuna gathered her luggage and trudged the flights down to Tidus and Auron’s room. She knocked at the door and waited with her head down. While she pretended to not care that what Rikku said hadn’t hurt her, in truth, the words had hit her hard.
Tidus opened the door and sized Yuna up and down. “What’s wrong? Why do you have all your stuff with you?”
She raised her head. “Tidus . . . .” she whispered and jumped into his arms, clutching the red coat tightly as she cried into his chest.
“Woah . . . wait a minute. You didn’t answer my question. What’s with the luggage? Does Rikku know about this?”
“She saw us last night! She saw us kissing and thinks that I was kissing Auron! She was really mad so I left and told her I was staying here for a while.”
“Rikku saw us kissing? I thought she was at dinner with Ryo.”
“I don’t know what happened or anything. All she told me was that she saw us on the stairs. I tried to explain but she wouldn’t even listen to me. I don’t think she wants anything to do with Sir Auron anymore all because of us.”
“Well, this is certainly looking up.” Tidus replied dryly. He grabbed the heavy suitcase and dropped it inside. Yuna placed her two other smaller bags beside it and sat in an empty chair. “Did anything else happen?” he asked.
“Rikku told me that the wedding is in two weeks. They changed it. She told me that neither ‘Auron’ nor I could come either.”
Tidus grinned. “This is perfect!”
“Excuse me?” Yuna replied flatly.
“Don’t you see? She still thinks that I’m Auron and Auron is me. That means Auron can go to the wedding no problem! He can stop it from happening!”
“Oh my gosh . . . Tidus you’re right! He can stop the wedding and still confess his love for her in the amount of time you guys have before you have . . . to go . . . .”
“Don’t worry about that right now. We’re going to stay and we’re going to get everything sorted out. This time, I promise.”
Yuna shook her head. “Why can’t I just believe that?” she whispered.
Tidus opened his mouth to reply but clamped it shut quickly. She was right. There was no guarantee that they could find a way to stay. But they had to try. The door to the room opened and both Yuna and Tidus looked up to see Auron holding something in his hand, trying to hide it from their view. “Hey.”
“Whatcha got there, Auron?” Tidus cocked his head to the side in curiosity.
“It’s nothing. Just something I picked up on my way back from the bar.”
Tidus began to grin evilly. “It looks like you’ve got a ring there.”
The older guardian laughed. “Oh, you can only wish,” and placed the item in the nearby safe, locking it up after closing it. He pocketed the key and left the room. Immediately after his departure, Tidus scrambled from his spot and tried to open the safe with no prevail.
“What do you think he has, Tidus?” Yuna questioned, kneeling beside the safe.
“I’ll bet you anything it’s something for Rikku. Do you think he took what I said about him not doing anything to get Rikku back to heart?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe . . . .”
Rikku flipped through a catalogue of bridal dresses, trying to find the perfect one. Although she appeared to be looking at the catalogue, in truth, her mind was somewhere else. The argument still played itself in her mind. Every so often she was tempted to call Yuna at Tidus and Auron’s room and apologize. Yet, the other part of her brain told her she had a right to remain mad at her cousin. Why should she be the one apologizing?
“Rikku! Sweetie, where are you?” Ryo called out from the other end of the suite. Sighing, she tumbled off the bed and proceeded to Ryo. When she appeared by him, he smiled happily. “Have you been out with Yuna looking for anymore dresses?”
“Yuna won’t be helping me look for dresses anymore. We got in a fight earlier and I forbade her and Auron to come to the wedding, if that’s alright with you.”
“Of course it’s alright. But . . . why did you tell Yuna to get lost, so to speak?”
“I saw her kissing Auron last night. That’s why I came home hysterical last night,” she explained. Strangely, Rikku felt tears prick her eyes and blurring her vision. Just why was this bugging her so much?
Ryo pulled her into an embrace and stroked her hair gingerly. “Shh . . . don’t worry about them. We’re together now. There’s no reason to be upset that . . . Auron kissed your cousin. You were right in not letting them come to the wedding.”
“Then why do I feel so horrible?” she sobbed.
“You know, you shouldn’t be feeling so bad about this. You’re not still stuck on him, are you?” his voice came out cold.
“No, Ryo. I love you. Auron means nothing to me.” That was what she always said to his questions now. It felt so automated now whenever it was spoken.
Ryo lifted her head up and wiped a tear from her cheek with his thumb. “He was stupid to let you go. You’re too good for him,” he smiled. “If it makes you feel any better, the date of the wedding has officially been set to two weeks from today. C’mon. Let’s go out and go get you a dress. Will that make you feel better?”
“You do love me, right?” Rikku suddenly blurted out, catching Ryo by surprise.
“Of course, baby. Why?”
She lowered her head. “Auron never told me he loved me. He just left.” Rikku felt a sting across her cheek and gasped. When she looked up, she saw Ryo, his face turning a dark shade of red.
“Dammit Rikku! I told you never to talk about him in front of me! Get over him! You’ve got me!” he hollered.
Rikku whimpered and started to walk backwards towards the door, her eyes never leaving her fiancée. She knew her cheek was probably a tinge of pink and this startled her. She reached for the doorknob but was stopped when he pulled her back. Try as she might, she couldn’t pull away from his grip.
“You listen to me. This moment never happened. It was an accident. Pure accident,” he ran a finger down the cheek he had slapped and exhaled shakily. “I care about you, alright? I don’t want you to hurt anymore. Auron didn’t care about you. I didn’t want to hurt you, but I want you to know I truly love you. Please believe me,” he said.
It took a few moments for the Al-Bhed to register all this. If Ryo did love her, why would he want to hit her? This didn’t seem like the Ryo she fell in love with. This one seemed harsher now that they were engaged. Nonetheless, she signaled her awareness by planting a kiss on his lips quickly. “I’m sorry. It’s just . . . nothing. I’ll try not to talk about him anymore.”
“That’s my girl,” he smiled and kissed the top of her head. “So, do you still want to go shopping? Or do you want to stay here?”
“I’ll come with you. Maybe some shopping will clear my head.”
On the way out, Ryo sent Rikku ahead, telling her he’d meet her by the blitzball stadium. When she was completely out of view, he moved toward the desk where a young woman stood. She smiled at Ryo. “Anything I can help you with, sir?”
“I’d like to check out of here. My fiancée and I would like to leave tonight, if possible.”
“But, we have you booked for another three weeks,” she differed, looking at her computer
“I realize that. But there’s a change in plans. Have our bags packed and put aboard the ship leaving for Bevelle as soon as possible. And if anyone asks where we are, pretend you haven’t the slightest idea.”
The woman stared for a moment, confused. Yet she obeyed. “Alright. I’ll send someone up to your suite within an hour. Would that be alright?”
“Excellent. You’ve been very helpful,” Ryo smirked, handing her a twenty out of spite, and left to catch up with Rikku.
Chapter 10, I won’t let it happen again
"When I see your smiling face
And my heart begins to race
That's when I begin to realize
That I'm in love with you."
~Set on You
(Yes, this song's written by me)
Later on that evening, Auron made his way to Rikku’s hotel room. His heart pounded heavily as he worried what she’d think when he told her. He knew he should have gone down to the bar before telling her everything. If he ended up regretting it later, he could always blame it on the liquor.
When he reached the penthouse suite, he took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Now or never, Auron. Just tell her. He nodded to his thoughts and knocked on the door. The door opened and he opened his mouth to talk but stopped when he saw who it was. A girl about eight or nine was staring back at him with wide eyes and a toothy grin.
“I’m . . . sorry. This is Rikku’s room, isn’t it?” Auron tried to look past the door to see if this was the right room at all.
“Serenity, darling. That isn’t housekeeping, is it?” an older woman’s voice called out. From the room to the right emerged a rather wealthy looking woman who couldn’t have been much older than thirty-five. She was slowly putting earrings in her earlobes as she spotted her daughter at the door with an odd-looking man.
“Mommy, is this Rikku’s room?” Serenity asked her mother. The woman pulled her daughter away from the door and smiled at ‘Tidus’.
“I’m sorry, sir. There’s no one here by that name. My husband and I just happened to get this room as we were checking in. They said the people here before us had to leave unexpectedly and left no excuse. I’m sorry.”
Auron still tried to look past the woman to see if she was lying. “But . . . I know that she’s up here. I was just here last night to see her. She wasn’t supposed to leave for another three weeks or a month or so. Are you sure that she’s just not hiding or something?”
“Sir, I swear that there’s no one else in here besides me, my husband and my daughter. I wouldn’t lie about such a thing,” she said with force. Auron gave up looking for Rikku inside the room and left to go back to his hotel room. His mind was swarming with thoughts about Rikku’s whereabouts. Just why would she up and leave so suddenly without a word to him?
When he opened the door to his room, he saw Tidus and Yuna on the balcony of their room. Tidus had Yuna in his arms and his chin rested on hers. Auron opened the door to the balcony. “Hands off, Tidus. This isn’t the time to cuddle with your girlfriend. Sorry, Yuna,” he scolded.
“Yeesh, sorry. What’s your problem?” the blitzball star released Yuna and leaned against the rail.
“Rikku’s gone,” Auron quickly said. His eyes focused on the cars driving around on the road. The blitzball stadium was lit up and people lined up to get inside. Of course, there was a game tonight. That’s why it was so crowded.
“Auron, what are you talking about? She went shopping with Ryo today. Of course she’s gone. She’ll be back later,” Yuna reassured, earning a cold glare from the guardian.
“That’s not what I meant. I mean, she’s gone. I went up to her room to . . . well . . . that’s not important. What I mean is that someone else had the suite. Ryo and Rikku checked out sometime this afternoon,” he explained.
Tidus’ eyebrows furrowed and he ran a hand through his dark hair. “I can’t believe it. Do you know why? Where’d they go?”
“I don’t know. Yuna, they didn’t say anything about them leaving this morning?”
Yuna shook her head. “Nothing. All I know is that they were going to go shopping for wedding stuff and then go out for lunch. I had no idea they planned on checking out.”
Auron growled and stormed inside, throwing a few things inside the suitcase that he and Tidus had brought. The couple hesitantly moved inside. Tidus asked, “Auron, what are you doing?”
“We’re going to find her. We’re going to find Rikku even if it kills me.” Tidus snorted at the comment and Auron glared daggers at him. “Not one word.”
The younger guardian saluted; a goofy look still on his face. While he was busy giggling, he failed to hear Auron say, “I let her go once. I won’t let her go again.”
Yuna walked over to the safe and tapped it with one finger. “Sir Auron, did you forget something?”
He moved quickly to the safe and opened it up, taking out the mysterious object and placing it in a pocket. After everything was packed up, all three headed to the desk in the lobby. They approached the woman that Ryo had spoken to earlier. “We’d like to check out,” Auron announced. Tidus and Yuna exchanged glances from behind Auron’s back.
“Ah, yes. Your name?”
“Tidus and Auron.”
When she finished typing in the names, she frowned at the screen. “You were booked for . . . two more weeks . . . wow . . . two in one day.”
“What are you talking about?” Auron leaned across the counter. “That comment wouldn’t have anything to do with a young man by the name of Ryo and his fiancée, would it?”
“Auron, calm down . . . people are staring,” Tidus warned.
“I’m sorry, sir. I cannot give such information away,” the girl said.
“No! This is important! I need to know where they went!”
“Sir Auron, c’mon . . . leave her alone . . . she doesn’t know,” the summoner pleaded.
“She does know! She knows where they are!”
“Is there a problem?” Rin asked from behind in his thick, Al-Bhed accent.
“Where are Rikku and Ryo?” Auron pulled back from the counter and jumped right before Rin.
“Rikku and Ryo? They are gone? Strange . . . uh . . . Lorena . . . please tell these kind people the whereabouts of Rikku and Ryo.”
Lorena bit her lower lip. “I was told not to tell where they went.”
Auron turned back to her. “You do know where they are!”
Tidus leaned over to Yuna. “Have you ever seen Auron like this?”
“I’ve seen you like that, so seeing Sir Auron yelling like that isn’t much different.”
“Lorena, I’ve given you permission to tell them where they are. They are, after all, paying guests.”
She sighed and looked at her manicured nails. “From what the man told me, he wanted the bags on a ship leaving to Bevelle. But that ship left about an hour ago. The next one leaves in two days.”
Auron felt ready to be sick. Just when he thought he could catch up to her, she was out of reach once more. He nodded and looked back at Tidus and Yuna. “Well, we’ll have to wait for two days.”
Yuna shook her head. “You’ve seem to have forgotten just who else lives in this city. Who was Rikku living with when she met Ryo?”
Auron smiled. “Cid.”
Tidus snapped his head up and widened his eyes. “Cid has the Airship!”
“That’s right. We’ll be able to get to Bevelle before Ryo and Rikku. And you can stop the wedding from happening,” the brunette stated.
Chapter 11, Bruises and tears
“Knew there was somebody somewhere
Like me alone in the dark.
Now I know my dream will live on
I’ve been waiting so long.
Nothing’s gonna tear us apart.”
~At the Beginning
Richard Marx and Donna Lewis
Yuna ran up the stairs to find her Uncle’s house atop his car and machina maintenance shop. Eagerly, she knocked on the door and waited for him to answer. Tidus and Auron hung back a little bit, looking around at the framed pictures and architectural designs of the latest machina.
Suddenly, the door flung open and a bald man approximately in his forties stood, wiping his hands which were covered in oil with a dish rag. When he saw Yuna, he chucked. “Hey there, Yuna. How’ve you been lately? Everything fine?” he questioned.
“Actually, we were wondering if we can ask a favor of you. If it’s not too much trouble,” she replied shyly.
He moved aside from the door. “Sure, c’mon in,” he looked around the house. “I wasn’t really expecting company, so excuse the mess. I’ve been working on a new telecommunicater that’ll work ten times better than the version they have out now.”
As Tidus and Auron moved inside, Yuna smiled. “Hope you don’t mind, but they’re part of the favor as well.”
“Sir Auron and Tidus . . . nice to see ya again!” he grinned, holding his hand out for a handshake which both shook promptly.
All four sat on a worn out couch, junk around them. Auron spoke first. “Cid, we were wondering . . . you see. Sometime this afternoon, Rikku and Ryo checked out of the hotel that we all were staying at and left for Bevelle without telling any of us.”
Cid raised an eyebrow. “Rikku left for Bevelle with Ryo? The wedding’s supposed to be here in Luca. Why would they go to Bevelle?”
“Another thing,” Tidus interjected. “Yuna mentioned something about the wedding being moved to two weeks. You don’t know anything about that, do you?”
The man looked quite perplexed. “Rikku hasn’t really mentioned anything about the wedding since the last time I talked to her. And that was about three weeks ago. I didn’t even know she was in town until you guys told me.”
“So you know nothing?” Yuna prodded, only receiving a shake of the head. She sighed and continued. “Well, now that that’s out of the way, we have something else to ask you.”
Auron leaned forward in his seat, resting his elbows on his knees, shaking the blonde hair from his forehead. “The ship for Bevelle left this evening. We were hoping you could lend us the airship until we get her back.”
“My airship?” Cid laughed. “Kids, why should I lend you the airship when you don’t even know the first thing about piloting it?”
“Vydran! E lyh ramb!” a teenage boy’s voice called from another room. Immediately he ran into the room the four were conversing in, and frantically spoke in Al-Bhed. “E lyh umo dra yencreb du Bevelle! Bmayca?”
Auron, Tidus, and Yuna looked at each other. Neither had understood a word he had just said. Yet Cid stood up and lifted his hand to his chin in thought. “E tuh’d ghuf . . . .”
“What did he say?” Tidus asked, adjusting the red coat.
“Brother said he would take you there . . . but . . .”
“But what? We have our pilot. We have our destination. What more do we need?” Auron exclaimed.
Cid eyed Auron with one eyebrow raised. “Son, hasn’t the last few times we’ve met taught you to respect your elders?”
Of course. Cid thought Auron was Tidus and vice versa. The older guardian growled and looked away. This whole body switching thing was too crazy. This is what got them in their predicament in the first place.
Cid nodded towards Brother. “Brother, dyga dras du dra kynyka yht kad dra yencreb nayto. Fa’na kueh’ du Bevelle!”
“Translation?” asked Tidus.
“Pack your bags. We’re off to Bevelle!”
Rikku sat in a room aboard a ship headed to Bevelle. When had they agreed they were checking out of the hotel? Heck, why was she on this ship at all? Ryo had insisted that Bevelle was a much better place to get married. After all, it was where Maester Seymour and Yuna were wedded. She snickered to herself. If only he knew half the story . . .
The door opened and Ryo stepped inside, shutting it quietly behind him. “Hey, Rikku. How you holding up?”
“Why did we leave Luca?” she demanded.
Ryo chuckled. “For the last time, sweetie. It’s a much better place to get married. Why go to Luca when we could go to Bevelle?”
“That’s not the whole story! You’re hiding something, aren’t you?”
Slap! Ryo had smacked her across the face. “You shut your mouth. I will not tolerate that tone of voice when you talk to me, understand?”
Her eyes were widened and her mouth opened slightly. “Ryo, what’s wrong? Why are you all of a sudden hitting me?”
He stood up, his black hair falling over his menacing eyes. “If it’s the only way to keep you in line, so be it. I’m so sick of you talking back to me, of talking about Auron. You’re always complaining or crying about something. It’s so irritating!”
Rikku stood up as well yet was at least a head smaller than he was. “I do not complain! I never talk back to you, and so what if I talk about Auron? He means nothing to me now! Why can’t you see that, Ryo?”
She felt something hit her in the stomach, causing her to lose her breath. She was on the ground, doubled over in pain. Ryo kneeled before her and leaned close to her ear. “It sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself that he’s not a part of your life anymore.”
He got to his feet and held his fists by his side. “You’d better learn to control that temper of yours, baby. It might be your downfall,” he mocked, kicking her in the side as well as her lower thigh before calmly striding away. The Al-Bhed girl tried hard to hold back the tears yet failed as she felt a tear escape the edge of her eye and slide down her small cheek.
Brother parked the Airship somewhere on the outskirts of Bevelle. Tidus and Yuna marveled at the large city. Auron rolled his eyes. He, too, would have found it interesting, but he had lived there since he was a small child. There wasn’t much else to look at.
After saying goodbye and thanking Cid and Brother, the trio trekked to the port where they knew Rikku and Ryo would be docking. Along the way, all three noticed how everyone sort of studied and eyed them as they walked through the city to the port. Yuna had to reassure them that it was because they were the ones who brought the Eternal Calm. Both Tidus and Auron seemed unfazed about their publicity. Tidus because he had lived in the spotlight since his father, Jecht, had begun to play blitzball; Auron because . . . well . . . Auron never seemed fazed by anything.
Before long, they finally made it to the port. Large ships were pulling into dock as well as some little boats. They searched for the boat that could possibly be carrying Ryo and Rikku but found it was much more difficult than imagined. Auron looked out to the ocean and spoke, “We’re going to have to split up. Yuna, you go left and Tidus will go right. Eventually you’ll meet halfway on the other side of the port.”
“That’s great, Auron. But, what are you going to do?” Tidus questioned.
“Well, someone’s going to have to stay here and see if anymore ships come in. I’ll be the one to stay,” he faced Tidus. “That is, unless you have any objections.”
“No! I was just asking . . . I mean . . . ah forget it. I’ll see you two later,” he stammered, walking away to begin his search. Yuna, too, left and began her search along the other side of the port. Auron waited until they were out of sight before sitting on the dock, staring at his reflection in the crystal waters below him.
Yevon . . . or whoever’s listening . . . if you could help me with my one simple wish, you’d make me the happiest man alive . . . or something like that . . .
Yuna had felt like she’d been walking for hours but knew it had been at least twenty minutes. Sweat had begun to collect on her brow as the sun beat heavily on her. How had it been, that just last night, it was such a comfortable temperature and now it was hotter than . . . well . . .
She figured taking a brief break wouldn’t hurt anyone so she found the nearest bench and sat down. She scanned her surroundings and suddenly felt overwhelmed. It seemed like yesterday she was guided through the streets, Maester Seymour Guado by her side. He’d tried, on many accounts during their time alone, to get closer to her. To reassure her about this whole ‘wedding’. Yet she wanted no part in it. Her heart had belonged to Tidus.
During her reminiscing, she failed to see the ship from Luca pulling in.
Rikku had one hand on the rail of the ship, her other hand holding onto Ryo’s. About an hour after their fight, he’d come back with a bouquet of roses and apologized for his ‘unacceptable behavior’. How could she not have forgiven him?
“What do you think?” he asked, referring to the city.
“It’s the perfect place to have a wedding. I can’t believe I thought so otherwise,” she breathed. He gave her hand a squeeze and picked up their luggage. Both descended the ramp from the boat after it docked and looked around for their hotel that Ryo had made new reservations at. Ryo took at glimpse at his fiancée and saw the dark blue and purple bruise that formed on her lower thigh where he kicked her.
“Don’t wear such short shorts. They’ll show your bruise,” he whispered, pointing to the bruise. Rikku looked down and gasped. She didn’t even realize it was there until he showed her. She desperately tried to pull down her shorts to hide the mark only to find that her shorts wouldn’t reach that far.
“When we get into town, I’m buying you different shorts. It’s about time you wore new ones anyway. I don’t want other guys staring at my baby,” he joked, but she knew he was being serious deep down. Nodding, she picked up one of her bags and followed Ryo.
Yuna snapped her head up when she saw her cousin and her fiancée step off the ship. She started to walk towards them but stopped when she saw Ryo’s mouth move and Rikku instantly look down at her thigh. Yuna followed her gaze and gasped at the bruise. How could someone sustain such an injury? Rikku was never clumsy . . .
Unless Ryo had hurt her on purpose.
Yuna quickly dismissed the idea. Rikku would have told one of them if Ryo had hurt her. Besides, she had said it herself. Ryo was everything any girl wanted. Nice, smart, handsome, even rich.
Yet a small part of Yuna told her that Rikku was still young. Would she really know that she was endangered?
Stop being silly, Yuna. It’s a bruise. It’s not that big a deal. People get them all the time.
“Yeah, but not ones that look that bad,” she countered with herself as she watched the couple walk away through the crowd and disappear.
Chapter 12, Flashback
“I’m here without you baby
But you’re still on my lonely mind.
I think about you baby
And I dream about you all the time.”
~Here Without You
3 Doors Down
Rikku sat in her hotel room, trying hard not to cry. Ryo had gone out to pick up some more shorts for her in downtown Bevelle, leaving Rikku alone. Somewhere between the proposal all the way up to being in Luca, Ryo had changed. And not for the better. Rikku suddenly felt scared of her fiancée. It was like he was controlling her.
“No. Ryo loves me. He’d never try to control me. He just doesn’t want to see me get hurt again. I’m just ornery to think so otherwise,” she persuaded. Her thoughts went quickly from Ryo to Auron. How Ryo always told her he wasn’t good enough for her. That he was just a guy who had no purpose in life, yet insisted in staying in Spira.
All these insults ran through Rikku’s head, taunting her and depleting her happiness. Soon, the insults disappeared yet were replaced with flashbacks of the pilgrimage.
“Show me your face,” Auron ordered her, glaring down on her.
Rikku was reluctant. She showed Auron her face, yet kept her eyes shut. Auron sighed and raised one eyebrow. “Now your eyes”
She pried open one eyelid, then both. Her heart began to pound at the older guardian’s reaction. Her teal eyes were swirled yet bright. Only those who were Al-Bhed had swirled eyes. Rikku shrugged. “No good?”
Auron smirked, yet it was hidden under his collar. He turned to Yuna and nodded his agreement before turning away. Rikku couldn’t help but smile. She was actually a guardian.
“I hate lightning . . . can’t we get inside . . . for at least a little bit?” the blonde-girl whimpered.
“It won’t matter. The storm won’t cease. It’s best we continue on,” Auron replied gruffly, motioning to the rest of the group to press forth. Rikku, however, wouldn’t budge.
“You guys are so mean! All I want is to go inside! I don’t like lightning!”
Tidus placed his hand on Auron’s shoulder. “C’mon. I’m kind of tired, too. Let’s just stop at the inn and stay there for the night. We can rest up and leave tomorrow morning.”
“I have no objections, Sir Auron,” Yuna piped up.
“Let’s give the kid a break, ya?” Wakka smiled back at Rikku who was shivering in fright. Lulu had no comment.
“Fine. We’ll stay for the night. But we leave first thing tomorrow morning.”
When they all came back, Rikku jumped in the air happily. “Thank you!” she yelled before running inside to take shelter. While everyone seemed to enjoy the short break, Auron couldn’t help but feel just a bit annoyed. If it were Jecht and Braska, they would have wanted to push forth. But he was stuck with a bunch of novices who had no clue what exactly they were up against or what lie ahead.
Auron walked down the hallway to where all the rooms were. He chose a room at random and opened the door, his eyes widening at the sight. The Al-Bhed girl was sitting on the bed, her knees drawn to her chest and he head buried. He turned to leave when Rikku called to him, “Auron . . . can you stay here . . . please? I don’t wanna be alone.”
“Then why don’t you join the rest of us in the lobby? You won’t be alone.”
She shook her head, which was still buried. “No, I want to stay here. Please don’t go,” she begged. The guardian still had one hand on the doorknob, contemplating whether he should leave or not. He sighed defeat and softly shut the door, taking at seat in a chair on the opposite side of the room. He didn’t have to look up to know Rikku was smiling now that he was there. Auron picked up his flask from his side and drank lazily from it.
“Umm . . . Auron . . . what’s in that?” Rikku asked.
He wiped his lips with his thumb and looked at her. “Sake.”
She nodded and stretched her legs out in front of her. “You know, I’ve been dying to ask you this . . . but . . . what was it like on your last pilgrimage?”
Auron growled. “Is this your attempts at small talk?”
“Sorry, sheesh. Someone’s grumpy,” she grumbled, pulling herself back into a little ball.
Irritated, Auron rose to his feet and proceeded to the door. “I’m leaving. Why did I really think you were scared in the first place?”
“No! Don’t! Come back here!”
Auron opened the door but felt a small hand grasp his coat. He turned to meet the eyes of Rikku which were glazed over with tears. “I wasn’t joking when I said that I was scared. Please don’t leave me alone! At least stay until I fall asleep. I promise I won’t ask anymore questions.”
He pulled back. “I shouldn’t-.”
“Just this one time. I promise.” As he closed the door again for a second time, Rikku smiled. She hopped away and pulled the covers down off the bed and crawled in. As she laid her head on the pillow, she looked over at Auron who was still standing beside the door. She propped herself on one elbow to reach over to the lamp on the nightstand. “You don’t want to sit down? Because when I turn off the light, you won’t be able to see.”
“The lightning’s enough to guide me back to my seat. Besides, I’m not staying long, remember? Only until you fall asleep.”
She nodded and clicked the lamp off, turning over on her side and slowly shutting her eyes. Every so often she’d jump at the sound of the thunder but would calm down when she saw Auron still standing by the door. Soon, her eyes remained closed and her breathing became regular. Auron shook his head and turned to leave when a lightning bolt lit the room up and showed how peaceful Rikku looked in her sleep. He approached her bedside and kneeled beside it, watching her carefully. He placed his arms on the bed and buried his head in his arms, forgetting he could have left at anytime now that the blonde was asleep.
He, too, closed his eye and succumbed to a well-needed rest.
Rikku tried to keep warm as she fixed up one of the machina that had been damaged in the Crawler explosion. She was still thinking of a way to get revenge on her brother when she met back up with him. Trying to kill her just because she was an Al-Bhed guardian was no excuse! At long last, she pulled back from the machina vehicle and smiled at her handiwork. She got on the vehicle and started the engine, happy that she was able to fix such a complex piece of machinery. She looked around at the rest of her friends. Tidus mounted his machina with Lulu behind him. Kimahri offered to share with Wakka only because he was still seething at everyone else for not telling him Rikku was an Al-Bhed.
That left Auron. Without a ride. And Rikku was the only one with an extra seat.
He strode over to her and stared at her. “Is this seat taken?”
“No . . . you can sit here.”
Auron ran a hand through his hair and paused. “Maybe I should drive. I don’t think it’s really . . . right . . . for me to be a passenger and have to hold on to you, if you know what I mean.”
It took a moment for this to register with Rikku, but she obeyed and moved back, Auron taking her place at the wheel. She held tight around his stomach and just sat back and enjoyed the ride. “You know, Auron. I really didn’t get to thank you back at the Thunder Plains. For staying with me.”
Auron grunted a reply and Rikku couldn’t help but laugh. “I guess I’ll take that as a ‘Your Welcome.’”
Everyone watched as Tidus left the clearing at Macalania Woods. It was just after twilight and everyone had managed to escape with only cuts and bruises after they survived the ambush at Seymour and Yuna’s wedding. They all met back in the Woods, making sure to keep hidden as long as the soldiers were still looking for them.
Yuna wouldn’t stop apologizing after the commotion died down, saying everything was her fault. But no matter how hard everyone tried to convince her otherwise, she still had a guilty conscious about the whole ordeal and summoned Kimahri to accompany her at lake not too far off. Everyone knew Tidus was the only person who could calm her down and sent him to talk to her.
Rikku sat in a tree, the soft pitter-patter of diminishing rain soothing her nerves. She sensed someone approaching her and reached near her belt for a grenade. The shrubs were pulled back and Rikku sighed a breath of relief when she saw it was only Auron. She removed her hand from the grenade and jumped from the tree to greet her friend.
“Hey, Auron. Why’re you out here?”
“I should be asking the same thing. I saw you leave the group soon after Tidus did and just decided to see if you were alright,” he clarified. Rikku nodded and moved back to her tree and climbed back up to her branch. She heard the older man laugh. “When did you learn to climb like a monkey?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she defended.
“I’ve never seen someone climb a tree so swiftly like that. At least, not since I was little.”
Rikku pulled her glove on a little tighter and looked up through the trees at the stars. “You know, I haven’t really had the chance to take a good look at the night sky since I was little. It’s really pretty. What do you think?” she babbled.
Auron removed his scarlet coat and placed it on a nearby rock and took off his collar as well. “Quite honestly, I don’t really care to take a closer look at my surroundings. It all looks the same in the end, at least in my opinion.”
“Oh, c’mon Auron! You mean you haven’t really marveled at the sunrises or sunsets? You’ve never stopped to look out over the oceans of Spira? You haven’t lived yet. Everything’s so beautiful if you look hard at it.”
She saw the pained look on his face but it quickly disappeared. She wondered if she hit some sort of nerve or something in him, yet shook her head and turned away to look back at the stars. Auron sat against the tree. “For a sixteen year old, you sure are wise for your age.”
Rikku shrugged and descended from the tree, sitting beside Auron. “Well, when you have two older brothers who act their shoe size, you’ve got to learn to grow up a bit faster. Actually, I only have one brother now that I wish to disown.”
“Wish I knew how that felt like. I was an only-child whose parents were killed by Sin and had to fend for himself,” he voiced.
Rikku tilted her head. “I didn’t know that your parents were killed by Sin, or that you were an only. Wow, that’s probably the most information I’ve gotten from you since I met you,” she joked.
“Must have slipped.”
She smiled at him. “You can say whatever you want. I know you’re warming up to me,” she poked him in the arm with her index finger, causing Auron to move around restlessly until she stopped.
“Maybe you’re constant optimism is rubbing off on me,” Auron mumbled just loud enough for Rikku to hear.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she stifled a yawn and leaned inconspicuously against his shoulder. “You know, I think out of everyone in the group, you’re most fun to talk to.”
Auron blushed. “I’ll take that as a compliment,” he replied, mimicking Rikku’s previous response.
The Al-Bhed stifled another yawn. “Yeah . . . something about you just keeps me . . . coming back . . . to you . . .” she faded off and fell asleep.
Auron smiled at the girl and maneuvered her so he could get his coat to cover her and keep her warm. When he came back, he placed her so her head was resting comfortably in his lap and the coat blanketed her whole body. And for the first time, Auron looked up at the stars and took Rikku’s words to heart.
“So . . . Rikku . . . you and Auron . . . you’ve been hanging out an awful lot lately,” Tidus asked as everyone wandered through the Calm Lands. Rikku blushed and grinned.
“He’s nice to talk to. Once you get past his tough exterior.”
Tidus brought his hands behind his head and blew a piece of hair from his face. “He’s lived with me since my old man left and my mom passed away and I have yet to get to that stage where he’s ‘nice to talk to.’”
The Al-Bhed looked on at Auron who was leading the group. She watched him with admiration and felt herself turn red. “Guess I’m the lucky one.”
Rikku sat with Auron on the cliff overlooking the old ruins of Zanarkand. Everyone had already fallen asleep at least two hours ago. Rikku looked at Auron’s profile and smiled. “Do you think, in the end, we’ll still be together?” she asked, leaning against him. She felt him tense up and was about to move away when he relaxed.
“I’m not . . . sure . . . .”
“You should know. You’re the almighty, all-knowing Sir Auron! You know everything!” she teased.
She couldn’t remember what she said next or even what Auron said. It didn’t matter because all she remembered was the fact that Auron and Rikku shared their first kiss on the cliff of Zanarkand under the starlit sky. It couldn’t have been more perfect. That was . . . until Auron pulled away, panicked.
“We can’t do this. I can’t keep seeing you,” he made clear.
Rikku could feel the tears prick her eyes. She hadn’t realized until tonight how much she’d fallen in love with Auron. From the Thunder Plains, to Macalania Woods, to now. They’d come so far. And here he was, telling her they couldn’t see each other. It stung her. So she did the only thing that she would have done if it were any other guy.
She slapped him across the face.
Auron gripped her wrist, his eye narrowed. “Rikku, don’t you see? I can’t see you. I . . . I . . .” he released her from his grip and stumbled away. Rikku’s teeth were bared and her eyes bright with tears. She fell to the ground and covered her head with her hands to hide her face in shame. How could she have thought someone so perfect could truly like her back?
Her eyes darted back and forth between the hologram of a younger Auron shout angrily at a holographic Yunaleska. Everything was starting to become so surreal. The next thing she knew was younger Auron leapt at Yunaleska, his bushido sword held high above his head. Yet, no blood was shed. No screams were heard. Just the loud thump of his body slamming into the ground and the ‘shink’ of his sword digging itself into the ground beside his unconscious body.
The Al-Bhed dared to look at Auron and made out his facial expression in the badly-lit area. Anger, pain, horror . . . just pure angst. He never took his eyes off of Yunaleska as she smirked at the memory. She smiled as Auron turned to his comrades and spoke. “Now! This is it! Now’s the time to choose! Die and be free of pain or live and fight your sorrow!”
Yet the older guardian’s expression never left her mind. It seemed permanently etched in her thoughts. And the whole scene where he’d lay, unconscious, at the summoner’s feet. Just how had he survived that attack? It hadn’t seemed possible.
So it was true. He was an unsent. He never survived that attack in the first place. So she stood, numbed with pain as she watched the pyreflies leaving the man’s body. She was so scared to be without him. He’d done so much for her and she’d done nothing in return. Tears began to fall down her cheeks as Auron passed by.
“C’mon, Rikku. I don’t want my last image of you to be a sad face,” she remembered him saying.
“I can’t help it. You’re the best thing that’s happened to me. Please don’t leave me,” she cried. Rikku almost laughed to herself. It was almost like history repeating itself. She told Auron to not leave her the first time they really spent time together. He agreed that time. This time, he had no choice, and she new that. He was leaving her for good.
With her head lowered, she felt so embarrassed. But she felt Auron lift her head to meet her gaze and kissed her quickly. It wasn’t like at Zanarkand yet was just as good.
She tried to reach out for his hand, his coat, anything! But he was already fading. The last thing she heard from him was, “I’m sorry, Rikku.”
“No! No, Auron, come back! Don’t leave me! You’ve got to protect me! Come back! I love you!”
She collapsed and pounded the ground. “Auron . . . I love you.”
Rikku sat up, her heart racing and her cheeks wet with tears. She brought her hand to her forehead and gasped for air. Yet, she knew she couldn’t deny it any longer.
Ryo walked in the door, bags in his hand. “Rikku, I’m back.” He ambled into the room Rikku was in and dropped his bags at her appearance. “Sweetie . . . what’s wrong?”
With her mouth slightly open and her eyes wide, she spoke shakily, “I’m still in love with Auron.”
Chapter 13, Savior
“But what you miss is love
In everything below and up above
And could she bring it all
Yuna was running back to where Auron said he’d stay if they’d found anything. When she got there, she was already out of breath and she had an unreadable expression on her face. She tapped Auron’s shoulder and he whirled around, his aqua eyes dimmed with stress.
“I saw Rikku . . . walking with Ryo . . .”
Auron smiled and stood up, dusting off his legs. “Where’d she go?”
Yuna shook her head. “Auron, there’s more. Rikku didn’t look pleased. And she had a bruise on her leg right below the hem of her shorts. I know she didn’t have that when she left Luca.”
“What are you saying, Yuna?” Auron whispered, searching her eyes.
“I think something happened on the ship and he hurt her. It’s not easy to bruise yourself on your upper thigh. And it was so dark . . . dark purple and blue.”
“He . . . he hurt her?”
“I’m not sure. I might be wrong, so don’t get all upset just yet. But we need to find her quick. I wasn’t lying when I said he easily gets jealous.”
The sound of footsteps reverberated on the dock as Tidus jogged over to them, taking his glasses off as he approached them. “Thank Yevon I found you two. Listen, I happened to be walking back when I overheard to girls talking about Ryo. They said something about him staying at the Bevelle Grand Hotel with his fiancée who we can only assume is Rikku.”
“Do we know where that is?” the Summoner thought aloud. Auron nodded and pointed to the large building not too far in the distance.
“Bevelle Grand Hotel. It’s kind of hard not to miss. But it’s about five miles from here, so we’d better get going. No rests this time,” instructed Auron as he, once again, took the lead and directed them through the large city in hopes of retrieving Rikku.
Ryo stalked toward the Al-Bhed, his eyes narrowed with fury. “I’m sorry. I must have misheard you. Did you . . . did you just say you were in love with . . . Auron?” he hissed.
Rikku was already off the bed and trying desperately to figure out how to get out of the situation. “No . . . that’s not what I meant,” she replied weakly. Damn, she wished she had her smoke bombs right about now.
“You bitch! I totally devote myself to you! Even go as far as give you the world, and this is how you repay me?!” he shouted, slapping her across the face. Rikku screamed but Ryo quickly covered her mouth and rammed her into the wall. He had her arm gripped so hard that it was losing circulation.
Despite the fact that her mouth was covered, Rikku continued to scream, though she knew no one would save her. She tried to dig her nails into his arm and managed to get her mouth free for about three seconds to yell for help. Ryo replaced his hand over her mouth and smirked. “You’re not as weak as I thought you were. Look, you managed to draw some blood. I’m impressed.”
Tears sprung to her eyes and this time she scratched at his face. Howling in pain, Ryo released her and covered his face with his hands, still screaming. Rikku tried to run but fell to the ground as he grasped her around the ankles and tripped her. Without warning, she felt Ryo’s fists punching her small being continuously and could faintly hear him yelling at her. “I can’t believe you! You should be grateful that I’m doing this to you or you’d have probably gone back to that low-life guardian by now! I’m the only person in your life now! Me, you hear?”
Rikku could feel the tears running like little rivers down her cheeks and tried to avoid his attacks by rolling away from them yet was always pulled back for more. He rolled her over on her back and leaned close to her while grinning menacingly. The Al-Bhed was shaking now in fear and was aching all over. “Ryo, stop. Please, don’t hit me anymore . . . stop . . .” she whispered.
He laughed and sat up. “Or what, baby? You going to get your friends to hurt me? They’re back in Luca and have no clue we’re here. It’s you and me,” he ridiculed.
“So that’s why we’re here! You didn’t want them to interfere with our relationship!” Rikku accused boldly.
She felt his fist connect with her face and immediately felt blood from her nose run down her upper lip. Ryo straddled her and pinned her arms under his knees. He leered over her and gripped her chin roughly, forcing her to look into his eyes. She wasn’t crying as much anymore yet tears still escaped her eyes and she could taste the awful flavor of blood inside her mouth.
He pounded the ground next to her and kissed her roughly with almost no feeling whatsoever. Rikku tried to pry away but the man was too strong. She felt him move his hand up her chest and grip her around her neck. Her friends couldn’t save her. They were in Luca while she was here, being kissed and touched by a man she thought she loved.
After what seemed like forever to Rikku, Ryo pulled away yet still ran his hand around her body. “Look at you. You look horrible. Maybe a few new bruises can change that,” he chortled and slapped her across the face. “Now, kiss me. And this time, I want you to mean it.”
As he leaned down again to kiss her, Rikku caught sight of her nails and didn’t spare a second as she dug them into Ryo’s neck. He jumped off of her and kicked her. Rikku rolled out of his way and scurried to the door. Ryo was still shocked by her sudden attack and was still on the ground, muttering a long string of curse words. She stood up and flung the door open, running out into the hallway. When she reached the elevators, she frantically pressed the down button.
One of the elevator doors opened and she rushed inside, pressing the door close button as quickly as she possibly could. When the doors closed, she pressed the button for the lobby and backed away into the corner.
Rikku caught sight of herself in one of the silver walls. Her hair was disheveled, her mascara was running down her face due to her tears and her nose was still bleeding. Cuts and bruises littered her body and she just looked absolutely horrible. The Al-Bhed walked over to the wall and touched it gingerly, scared of her reflection.
The dam inside broke and she cried once more, pounding and punching the wall furiously. How could she have been so stupid? Why hadn’t she defended herself when she had the chance? No, she had to continue to be with Ryo and let him always have his way. Why hadn’t she seen it coming?
The elevator slowed to a halt and dinged when the doors opened. She turned and stuck her head out the elevator, making sure Ryo wasn’t waiting for her. Rikku knew she only had a limited amount of time before he’d chase after her so she made haste and ran out of the lobby with people staring after her. She kept her head down and continued to push people out of the way.
She reached out to push someone else out of the way but was stopped by his large frame. Hesitantly, she looked up and saw her three friends standing before her. They all looked at her, shocked and scared of her appearance.
‘Tidus’ stepped forward and brushed a strand of blonde hair from her face. His aqua eyes pierced hers and he grabbed her arm, examining the bruises. When he looked back at her, his face was nothing short of anger. “Rikku . . . who did this to you?”
The girl shook her head, words failing her. She continued to look at the pendant he wore around his neck, refusing eye contact.
“Who?!” he asked again, his voice louder.
Rikku looked at him and said, just as her voice cracked, “Ryo got mad at me and gave me what I deserved.” She felt his arms envelope her being and she went weak, crying and whimpering into his exposed chest. Yuna and the real Tidus watched, both upset and ready to attack Ryo.
Auron looked up at the hotel and scowled. “I’m going after him,” he announced. He turned to the two behind him and lowered his head. “Go get the police. Take Rikku with you.”
The Al-Bhed girl appeared alarmed. “Please don’t! He’ll come back after me. Don’t go.”
The older guardian let go of her and smiled. “You know, you sound just like the time you asked me to stay with you at the Thunder Plains. You haven’t changed a bit.”
“What’re you talk-.”
“Tidus and Yuna will explain everything as they go to the police station. Now go. I’ve got some business to take care of with a man named Ryo.”
And with that, Auron pulled away from Rikku, walking ever so calmly towards the hotel, smirking that his chance to wring Ryo’s neck had come so soon.
Chapter 14, Oh How Revenge is So Sweet
I pressed the button to go up to the twelfth floor. The elevator doors closed and I leaned back and closed my eyes. I had to pause for a moment and calm down. I was so mad that, quite honestly, I couldn’t see straight. Seeing those bruises and cuts on Rikku tore my heart in half. She didn’t deserve this. And I had to make sure Ryo knew that.
“Back off, I’ll take you on.
Headstrong to take on anyone
I know that you were wrong
And this is not where you belong.”
The elevator doors opened and Auron stepped out, taking a long, hard look down the hallway before him. With his fists clenched by his side, the guardian stalked down to the hotel room where his prey awaited.
“1256 . . . 1258 . . . 1260 . . . 1262!” he twisted the doorknob and flung the door open. The room was dark, the curtains were shut to block out any sunlight. The room was in disarray with chairs toppled, the bed comforter wrinkled and the carpet beside the bed held tiny drops of blood.
Auron cautiously made his way to the next room and peered inside. There sat Ryo on another bed, his head hung low and his hair covering his eyes. When Auron wandered in, Ryo slowly brought his gaze up and smirked. His neck was covered with dry blood and his arm looked like it was punctured with Rikku’s nails.
“I knew she’d send you,” he whispered, rising to his feet and swaying slightly. “I thought maybe she’d send that Auron guy, but she sends her little pretty-boy friend. It’s not like it matters. I’ll kill both of you and get my girl back. She can’t escape me. She loves me and she’ll come crawling back, begging for forgiveness.”
Auron’s eyes flickered. “Liar. She wants nothing more to do with you. They’re calling the cops right now. But it’s not like it matters. I’ll have disposed of you by then,” he mocked, crossing his arms and raising his chin slightly.
The guardian could have sworn he saw a look of worry on Ryo’s face but it disappeared too quickly to confirm that. Ryo brought his hand to his neck and wiped away some of the blood, laughing. “That girl isn’t too bad of a fighter. If she would have only listened to me when I told her not to go back to Auron, none of this would have happened. She’s such an idiot.”
“Shut up!” Auron shouted. “Rikku’s not an idiot. She’s more than you’ll ever be! She’s kind, smart, funny, and not to mention strong. She doesn’t deserve the likes of you! Like I said when we first met, she doesn’t love you.”
As he said this, Ryo had begun to swing his fist at Auron’s face, yet Auron leaned backwards to avoid the attack. Auron smirked. “I really shouldn’t be fighting you. I’d only be stooping to your level. But, since this does involve Rikku, I guess I can make an exception,” he reasoned, grasping the back of Ryo’s head and slamming it into his knee.
Ryo recovered quickly and threw Auron to the ground. Before the guardian could get to his feet, he was pushed back down with the toe of Ryo’s shoe. Ryo smirked and stepped hard on his chest, causing a few cracks to be heard. Auron screamed in agony knowing full-well that Ryo had managed to crack a few of his ribs.
“Bastard . . . .” he hissed.
“I know. I’ve heard that from all my ex-girlfriends. But they didn’t have their ex-boyfriends to come after me. It looks like Rikku really is special.”
Auron rolled out from under Ryo’s foot and kicked him near the ankles, causing him to collapse. He pounced on Ryo, grabbing him around the collar and shaking him violently. “How could you? You’re sick! You should die! How could you?!” he repeated over and over, his breaths much more shallow and raspy due to his ribs. “You said you loved her!”
“And you don’t think I really did?” Ryo cried out in exasperation. Auron discontinued shaking him yet held him still by the collar. “I wasn’t lying when I said I loved her. But I’m not about to let her get away with some things. And if that meant I had to beat her senseless . . . well . . .” he closed his eyes and grinned, “So be it.”
The guardian narrowed his eyes. “You sound like you enjoy hurting her,” he muttered and started to punch and slap him. “Did she beg for you to stop? Did she cry? Did she take it without a word?” he bellowed and dropped Ryo. He stood up and kicked Ryo in the side before pinning Ryo down with his foot. Ryo reached into his pant pocket and withdrew a pocket knife. He flicked the knife open and sliced Auron across the leg. When Auron didn’t let up, Ryo resorted to stabbing the knife into his leg.
Auron pulled away and quickly jerked the knife from his leg. He looked up just in time as Ryo brought a large object over his head and dropped it, causing Auron to see stars. However, he lashed out blindly with the knife still in his hand. He opened one eye and saw the blurry figure of Ryo trying to avoid his attacks. Auron brought the knife over his head and brought it down on Ryo, snapping his eyes open when he heard him screech.
The knife was embedded in the back of his shoulder and would be quite hard to get out alone. He collapsed to his knees in front of a desk and scowled at Auron, one eye shut. “Damn you!”
Auron knelt before the man. “You brought it upon yourself,” he said and reached out to remove the knife.
Ryo wriggled from Auron’s hold of him, pulled the drawer in the desk open and retrieved a gun. He aimed it at Auron and began to laugh. “This is a turn of events, isn’t it? I always knew this would come in handy. As a matter of fact, if worse came to worse, I was going to use it on Rikku if she told me that she was going back to Auron. Then she could have been with him permanently in the Farplane where they rightfully belong!”
“You’re crazy . . . look . . . just let me get the knife from your-.”
“No! Stay away or I’ll shoot! Don’t think I won’t. I’ve got nothing to lose anyway.”
“Ryo . . . just-.”
“You don’t think I’m being serious do you, pretty-boy? If you value your life, you’d be wise to stay right there.”
Auron kept quiet this time yet still stared at Ryo with hatred and fear. He winced in pain as he took in a deep breath, trying hard not to move too much. Ryo looked ready to pass out. His clothes were slowly becoming soaked with blood and his eyes were becoming dim. Sometimes he’d slouch over but snap back up as if trying to desperately stay awake. Auron knew that, if not in five minutes, Ryo would soon be in the Farplane.
“You know . . . it’s funny . . . . How one minute . . . . Your only wish is to die . . . . Because you’ve caused so much pain . . . . And the next . . . . You want to live . . . because you want . . . . To repent . . . for any pain . . . . You’ve caused,” Ryo chuckled to himself.
“You’re not going to die. You can’t. You’ve gotta get arrested by the police first or I won’t be satisfied with how this turned out.”
“You won’t . . . . be satisfied?” Ryo looked up angrily. “You know . . . . pretty boy . . . . I really shouldn’t leave . . . . Just yet . . . .” Ryo raised the gun and aimed at Auron’s chest. “Here’s a parting gift . . . .”
The door flung open and Rikku appeared in the doorway. “Auron!!” she screamed.
The loud sound of a single gunshot echoed in the otherwise silent hotel. Time seemed to go into slow-motion. Auron looked up at Rikku, his hand clutched over his chest. He coughed up blood and reached his other hand out for the Al-Bhed girl. “Rikku . . .”
She ran to his side and removed his hand from his chest and stifled a sob at the bullet wound. “Oh Yevon . . .”
He looked at her and weakly took her hand which was still on his chest. “I don’t . . . feel . . . anything anymore . . .”
Both tore their gazes away from each other as they heard another gunshot from the other side of the room. Ryo smirked, brought the gun away from his chest and lifted his head to meet the couples’ gaze. “Are you happy now?” he asked. His face went blank and he collapsed onto the ground, dead.
Chapter 15, My Last Breath
Author’s note: Song chapter! Yay! Last time I did this was with my ‘Foolish’ story. I have a few one-shot songfics I’d like to do now that I’ve gotten back into this sort of thing. ^.^
Disclaimers: *flicks a crumb on the table* Nothing . . . . Is mine . . . -_-‘
Rikku watched as Ryo collapsed to the ground, dead. The whole scene was surreal. Auron had one hand over his chest in agony while the other held Rikku’s hand. The Al-Bhed just wanted to fall through a hole and die. This was all her fault.
Auron looked down at Rikku and smiled weakly. “Glad you could make it,” he breathed. Without warning, he fell face first onto the ground. Tidus and Yuna ran into the room but stopped short when they saw the scene before them.
Hold on to me love
You know I can’t stay long
Rikku picked the guardian up in her arms and brushed a strand of the blonde hair from his face. “Why didn’t you tell me when you first came back?”
Auron snorted and looked away. “I would have, but you looked so happy with Ryo.”
All I wanted to say was I love you
And I’m not afraid
“Liar. You were just scared. You were scared of my reaction that you had come back,” she debated, shifting him in her arms. Auron looked back at her, his gaze distant and dimmed.
“That may be true. But I know now that I love you and I can’t let you go.” Shakily, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the item he’d picked up in Luca. A small box. When he opened it up, a small silver ring sat snugly inside decorated with red rubies and green emeralds.
“I knew it! It was a ring! And for Rikku!” Tidus exclaimed when he saw the piece of jewelry. Yuna elbowed him in the ribs and shushed him.
Can you hear me?
Can you feel me in your arms?
Rikku kept glancing back from the ring to the man in her arms. “What do you want me to do with this?”
“Rikku, I’m really sorry I couldn’t have told you sooner or acted on my feelings. I went out and bought the ring before you came here to Bevelle. I picked out the red rubies for me and the green emeralds for you. I know I can’t stay long, but I want you to know that I love you and I’ll always be waiting for you.”
Holding my last breath
Safe inside myself
Are all my thoughts of you
Sweet raptured light
It ends here tonight
“No, you’re not leaving me. You’re already dead. You can’t die again, it’s just not possible,” she laughed, pushing the ring back.
I’ll miss the winter
A world of fragile things
“Well, at least it’s certain I won’t become a fiend now, huh?”
“There’s no way you can go back. We’ve already gotten this far. Why can’t you just . . .”
“Listen to me! I can’t stay. You know that and I know that. No use denying the obvious. I’m giving you this ring because it’ll serve as a reminder that I’m going to wait for you in the Farplane, no matter how long that’ll take. Hopefully not anytime soon, right?”
Look for me in the white forest
Hiding in a hollow tree (come find me)
“Sir Auron . . . .” Yuna’s meek voice whispered for Auron. He looked back at her and nodded.
“It’s certain Tidus will stay. I’ve broken the spell. Tomorrow morning he will be back in his own body.”
Tidus looked up, fear in his voice. “Wait! I’m going to have a bullet in my chest? What spell? Why didn’t I know any of this?”
Auron chucked but soon found himself wincing in pain. “No. Everything’ll be healed. Only I will be gone. Trust me on this. You’ve had to for the past some-odd years, right?”
Rikku pounded a fist on the ground, regaining all the attention. “Why does it seem like you’re saying your goodbyes? You’re not dying!” she screamed, tears falling down her bruised cheeks.
I know you hear me
I can taste it in your tears
She felt his hand reach up and brush one of the tears away. “Why must you always be so stubborn?” he croaked.
“Because you’re the only person who I could ever truly love. In the end, it was always you. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. And when I finally get the chance to see you again . . . well . . . sort of . . . you’ve gotta go back. It’s happening all over again. You’re leaving me and I’ll be all alone without you,” she faded off, burying her head into his chest.
Holding my last breath
Safe inside myself
Are all my thoughts of you
Sweet raptured light
It ends here tonight
He stroked her hair as his means to comfort her. He was never good with this type of stuff. Yuna was being held close to Tidus, whimpering into his crimson coat. Strangely enough, Tidus didn’t even look sad. He just had a blank look that made it rather hard to detect what he was feeling at all.
Closing your eyes to disappear
You pray your dreams will leave you here
Still lost in his thoughts, Auron vaguely heard the Al-Bhed whisper, “You can go now.”
There was no more debating or fighting, only defeat. She’d simply given up what she’d wanted since the end of the pilgrimage. Another chance to be with Auron.
But still you wake and know the truth
No one’s there
“Rikku, remember the ring. I’ll wait for you beside the cliff in the Farplane. Come find me. And remember. I’ll always love you and I’m not afraid.”
Don’t be afraid
As the pyreflies emitted from Auron’s body, Rikku found herself calling out to him once more amidst the tears and heartache. Soon she couldn’t even feel his being, only air and her hands connecting as he faded away.
Calling me calling me as you fade to black
“I’ll wait for you by the cliff in the Farplane. Come find me.”
(Holding my last breath)
Rikku shook her head, reaching out for the ring where Auron had let it slip from his hand. It dawned on her that, with this ring in her possession, Auron was never really leaving her. He’d be with her always. And, when she wore it, she wouldn’t fear anything.
Don’t be afraid
(Sage inside myself)
Because he’d be waiting.
Calling me Calling me
(Are all my thoughts of you)
Soon it was only her, Tidus, and Yuna in the room. Yuna knelt beside her cousin and pulled her into a hug, letting her cry on her shoulder. Both didn’t even look up when a group of policemen stormed into the room, demanding an explaination. Tidus tried to explain but he, too, had no clue what just happened.
Sweet raptured light
It ends here tonight
“Are you going to be ok?” the Summoner asked, staring at the bloodstained carpet where her former guardian had just been.
Holding my last breath
Safe inside myself
“At least I know he never meant to hurt me. And I know he came all this way . . . just for me. That’s gotta show for something, right?”
Are all my thoughts of you
Yuna released her and stood up, offering a hand. “C’mon. Let’s go back to Luca. I’m sure your father will want an explanation.”
Sweet raptured light
Hesitantly, the Al-Bhed was helped up and, with Tidus in tow and leaving the policemen behind, the three somberly left Bevelle, and all the chaos, behind.
It ends here tonight
Three months later, Rikku sat at a bar with Tidus and Yuna. Just a week ago, Tidus had proposed to Yuna and they were now celebrating the occasion since they’d been so busy before.
Auron was correct in saying that Tidus would be back in his own body the next day, no wounds detectable. Although none of them knew what the spell was that he’d broken. They still took his word for it and left it at that.
“Rikku? Do you want another drink?” the blonde blitzball star asked cheerfully. Rikku snapped her head up and smiled, pushing her drink away to signal she wanted more.
A light caught a gleam in the ring on Rikku’s left ring finger. She gazed at it lovingly. She remembered when her father asked a few days after they arrived from Bevelle where she’d gotten it. It took a lot of courage (and Al-Bhed curse words) to finally get him to accept that her heart belonged to the guardian and no one else.
There had been few times that guys had asked her on dates and tried to get her to be their girlfriend, but she’d declined every single one, only pointing to the ring on her finger. That was all it took for them to shrug and walk away, dejected.
Rikku didn’t care how long it took until she could finally see Auron in the Farplane. Because she knew, in the end, he’d still be there where he promised.
Waiting by the cliff for her to return.
Auron let one leg dangle over the edge of a cliff as a gentle breeze ruffled his hair. The sun was just beginning to set and was slowly forming shadows across the Farplane. Many pyreflies danced around and met up with their loved ones whom they hadn’t seen in forever. The waterfall formed mist at its base and left it swirling upwards to where Auron was sitting.
It had been so long since he’d last been in Spira. He’d lost count at thirty years. He remembered when he’d finally come back to the Farplane how Jecht and Braska were waiting to know what happened. All they knew was what was told to them in the beginning of the ordeal.
The spell. Auron didn’t even know about the spell yet he talked about it as if he’d known about it forever. Once he’d said those three words to Rikku, the next morning everything would be back to normal. Tidus already had the advantage. Yuna held onto his memory and made him real, not just another dream.
How funny fate can be. He never imagined that it’d be Rikku his heart would belong to. But you can never control what’s already decided. Maybe that’s why fate, to him, was so funny.
Closing his eye, Auron layed back on the cold ground and fell asleep.
Rikku looked at her surroundings. She almost couldn’t contain her giddiness. She was finally in the Farplane. Actually, that wasn’t so great if you about it. But it meant that her waiting was finally paying off.
The ring was faded and wasn’t as shiny as when she first got it but it was still in good condition and looked like it was well taken care of. Giggling slightly, Rikku ran towards the cliff in the distance where she knew a certain guardian would be awaiting her arrival.
“Auron . . . .” a voice called to him in his deep slumber. Groggily, he turned away from the voice, thinking it was just another dream. “Auron! Get up!”
Angrily, he sat up, still half-asleep. “What? What the he-.”
Rikku smiled back at him, waving happily. “You kept your promise,” she flipped her hand over and showed him the red and green ring he’d given her.
“I always keep my promises. I stayed ten years out of the Farplane just to watch Tidus and Yuna.”
Rikku squealed and pounced on him, wrapping her arms around his neck. “I can’t believe it! I’m here with you! With you!”
Auron returned the hug. “Well, it took you long enough, didn’t it?” he teased.
“It could have been worse. I could have gone off and married some other guy and left you hanging.”
“But . . .”
She pulled away from their hold and kissed him on the lips. She laughed at his surprised expression. “But I love you too much.”
“I can deal with that,” he replied.
The Al-Bhed girl looked around and frowned. “Is there anything to do here besides sit? Please tell me I won’t be sitting for all eternity or I might have to leave and become a fiend. That’d probably be more fun.”
Auron stood up and helped Rikku up as well. “I’m sure you can find something to do. There’s a small town not too far off. Strange, I know. And you can stay in a house right next to mine if you’d like to.”
Rikku made a face of displeasure. “Why can’t I just stay with you? Wouldn’t that be much easier?”
“It probably would unless you want to live with Jecht and Braska as well. It might get a little awkward.”
She nodded and thought for a few seconds. Suddenly, she clapped her hands together and said, “Well, if I can’t live with you, why don’t you come live with me?”
“I don’t know . . . I mean-.”
“Look, we don’t have to sleep in the same bed or anything. That might get a little awkward. But we have a lot of catching up to do and all that. C’mon! It’ll be great! And when Yuna and Tidus come, they can visit and stuff!”
“ . . . . . I guess. Since you put it that way, I guess there’s no harm in that.”
“You . . . are you . . . . really?! You mean we can stay together? This is going to be great!” she cheered, jumping up and down and causing the guardian to laugh.
After calm was restored, both smiled at each other and wondering if this was a dream. Auron held out his hand and Rikku took it. Both walked to nowhere in particular, just somewhere where they could be together happily, uninterrupted.
Auron looked over the cliff at the waterfall and turned back to Rikku. “So, what have you been doing these past years?”
She shrugged. “Nothing much. Just passing time.”
He stopped short, pulling her back to him. For so long, he waited for this moment. And, after being away for so long, Auron pulled her close and kissed her on the lips without worry of separation, rejection, or what others would think.
For once, neither were afraid.
“True love has no ending”