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The Truth Beyond the Dream

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Tidus stood by the window of his room at the Luca Inn, gazing out at the full moon. The sound of waves crashing in the distance only heightened his anxiety as he thought about the events surrounding his return. It had been ten hours now since he reappeared in the waters of Besaid with still no idea of where he had been in the time before.

He had been gone two years—a harsh reality he was still struggling to accept. Upon reaching Zanarkand on Yuna's pilgrimage, he had resigned himself to his fate, knowing once they defeated Yu Yevon he would fade. Only he thought that meant residing in the Farplane with his father and Auron, which proved to be an inaccurate assumption on his part. After his brief reunion with them, the darkness came. Far worse, he was conscious of it. Alone and trapped in what he considered to be some type of eternal abyss. It was as though he had ceased to exist, but only to the outside world. His memory was still a bit foggy, but one thing was clear, the years he spent in that dark void felt more like a few days, if anything, he was grateful for the absence of time, but it hadn't made it any less disturbing.

Feeling more anxious by the minute, he retreated over to the queen size bed in the middle of the room and sat on the edge, fidgeting with the blue comforter. At this rate, he was certain his sanity would be gone within the hour if he continued to dwell on what he couldn't change.

Exhaling heavily, he forced himself to take in his surroundings, something he had neglected to do earlier. The aqua painted walls and beige shaggy carpet gave the room a seaside feel with just the right touch of warmth added from the dim light of the lamp on the nightstand. Oddly enough, the décor reminded him of his best friend, Trin. He hadn't thought of her in a long time. She had a strange obsession with seashells, and every piece of furniture in the room seemed to pay homage to it, from the leather sofa against the wall near the bathroom, to the wooden nightstands guarding the bed. Even the mahogany dresser to the left of the door was no exception, complete with a mirror in the shape of a seashell. He smiled. This was definitely something Yuna would appreciate more than him.

Just as his muscles relaxed, his mind drifted to the other thoughts which plagued him since his return—Yuna's adventure. Hearing all about her search for him and being lured into a twisted plot involving Shuyin made him uneasy. It troubled him even more that the blitzball star from a thousand years ago looked exactly like him. Did the fayth mold him from the image of Shuyin? Was he really just a dream returned to Yuna because she destroyed Vegnagun? All these questions swirled in his mind making him nauseous.

The sound of the door opening snapped Tidus out of his gloomy reverie. Holding a cardboard tray of the lattes he'd requested, the love of his life stepped into the room and shut the door behind with a swing of her boot. The moment her eyes met with his, her cheerful expression changed into one of concern.

"You look upset. Are you okay?" Yuna asked, setting the tray of lattes on the dresser.

Hoping to convince her otherwise, Tidus flashed his best grin. "I'm fine."

The wide smile she gave in return led him to believe she had bought his lie. He felt awful for not being honest with her, but the last thing he wanted was to worry Yuna, especially after all she had been through. This was his burden and his alone.

With the lattes in hand, she sat next to him on the bed and handed him one of the cups. He took the styrofoam container from her and rested it on his knee, studying her as she sipped on her latte. She sure had changed while he was gone. Her mocha colored hair was shorter and cut in a layered style which he thought suited the shape of her face. All the new muscle tones on her legs and arms were a clear result of the time she had spent fighting fiends on her latest adventure. Aside from the physical changes, what really surprised him was her shift in attitude. She was much more confident and outgoing than before. It was evident just from her choice in attire that she had embraced a more carefree persona.

His eyes drifted down to the thin black material holding the front of her top together—the Zanarkand Abes symbol. His heart sank. As flattered as he was of her tribute to him, he couldn't help but feel horrible at the same time. Leaving her heartbroken and confused the way he did on that airship had clearly made her unable to move on.

"Gil for your thoughts?"

From the amused look on her face, she must've caught him staring at the symbol on her chest. A warm flush spread across his cheeks. In a feeble attempt to hide his embarrassment, he tore his eyes away from hers and looked down at the cup of latte in his hand. "Sorry. I...uh...kinda drifted off somewhere." He then cringed at how stupid he sounded.

"Do I wanna know where?"

The playfulness in her voice surprised him a little. He shut his eyes and gnawed on his bottom lip, forcing back the naughty images that had briefly entered his mind. "I was thinking about our last moments together on the airship."

When he opened his eyes, he regretted every syllable he had uttered. Yuna's face had dropped to a somber expression and a tear slid down her cheek. "I'm sorry." He instinctively ran a hand down her back in an effort to soothe the painful memories from her mind. "I wasn't thinking. I was just—"

"No, it's alright. I didn't think I would react this way now that I have you back." She wiped the tear from her cheek and drew in a quick breath. "It still hurts, you know…thinking about it. I missed you so much. You don't think the fayth will…"

And there it was. The moment he had been dreading for the past ten hours. She may not have actually finished her question, but he knew exactly what she was about to ask. Would the fayth keep their promise? Would he disappear again without warning? He wanted nothing more than to reassure her, but all he could offer were more questions than answers. His heart thumped against his chest like a drum at a funeral, knowing all too well confiding in her about his experience would only make her more distraught. He couldn't let that happen.

"Tidus?"

"I'm not going anywhere, Yuna. I'm back for good. The fayth were true to their word." His stomach twisted with dread as the words oozed out of his mouth like a vile poison, knowing they may come back to haunt him one day.

Yuna's smile was forced as if she had sensed his dishonesty. "I don't really expect you to know that for sure. But I will hold out hope that the fayth won't rip you from me twice in a lifetime."

Somewhat relieved, Tidus released a breath he didn't even realize he had been holding and set his latte on the nightstand then returned to gaze into her bi-colored depths. "I want nothing more than for you to be happy."

There was a hint of uncertainty in her eyes with his admission as though she had misinterpreted it for something else. "You never answered me back on the airship, you know."

His mind swirled in a fog, trying to remember what she was referring to. He had been so consumed by guilt a moment ago and tormented by his experience before returning to this world it was difficult for him to think straight.

"I told you I loved you. And you never said anything in return."

The memory of that day flooded back into his mind. Time felt like it had come to a screeching halt when she professed her love for him. He knew nothing could stop him from fading. Those three words not only melted his heart, but tore at it like razor blades. It was a cruel twist of fate and a bittersweet end to their short lived romance. "Saying the words would've only made it more painful."

Yuna frowned. "For who? You or me?"

"Both of us." With a heavy sigh, he took the cup from her hands and set it on the nightstand then returned to lace his hand with hers. He'd never been in love before. The only times he'd ever said those three words to a girl had been solely to ensure some action in bed. This time was different. He truly had deep feelings for this woman and couldn't imagine a life without her in it. "I love you, Yuna. Now and always."

There was a long pause accompanied by a heavy tension between them. He'd been struggling all day to resist his primal urges, but right now, the desire in her eyes was threatening to shatter his resolve. Just when he thought it was too much to bear, her rose colored lips parted, ever so slightly, to whisper, "Show me."

His pulse quickened. Her request caught him a little off guard. Did she know what she was asking? It was doubtful she was that naïve, but nonetheless, he was a little surprised. Yes, they had rented out a room at the Luca Inn, but he assumed she wanted to use it to be alone and just talk—not that he wasn't all for her offer, after all, he had been fending off his desires the second they had left Besaid. "Are you sure about this? Just because we have this room doesn't mean we have to—"

"Shhh," she said, silencing him with a finger to his lips. "I know, but I want to."

It was becoming extremely difficult for him to ignore the throbbing in his loins with each passing second. If they started something she was unwilling to finish, he was afraid a cold shower would not be enough to deflate his excitement. He moved her hand away from his mouth and slid it down to his chest where he steadied it against him. "Have you done this before?"

Judging from the shade of pink spreading across her cheeks, it was safe for him to assume she had been holding out for him this whole time. "Have you?"

Another question he didn't want to answer. Between the loss of his parents and being left to fend for himself at a young age with Auron checking in every so often, he had been free to do whatever he wanted. And that included trying to fill the loss of a family with a string of failed romantic relationships, leading to more romps in bed than he cared to admit. "I did a lot of stupid things in Zanarkand, Yuna. Trying to fill the void of being alone was one of them."

"I see," she said, looking down at her lap as though she were disappointed with his answer.

"Those girls never meant anything to me." Tidus winced, realizing what his choice of words implied. "Wait, that didn't come out right. What I meant to say was that I was never in love with them—with anyone until I met you. So, it would be different for me this time. Does that make sense?"

Yuna giggled and nodded.

There was something so innocent, yet sexy, at the way she looked at him just then. He could hardly contain himself any longer. They hadn't even kissed since he came back and all he could think about was ripping off her clothes and tasting every inch of her body, but this was his Yuna. He wasn't going to treat her like those other girls. She was special and he was going to make sure she knew it after tonight.

Brushing her cheek with his hand, he leaned in and gently pressed his lips against hers. They were soft and moist, moving over his in a slow seductive manner. He had almost forgotten how good this had felt from the first kiss they had shared at the lake in Macalania. It was as though he had been transported to another time and place where nothing existed but the two of them.

His body burned with desire as he deepened the kiss, pulling her close and running a hand up her back then down to her waist. The gorgeous woman in his arms buried her hands into his unruly blond hair and released a moan into his mouth in reply. Kissing her like this was far better than he had imagined. If things continued at this pace, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to make the night last as long as he had envisioned.

Breaking their kiss, he moved his lips to the nape of her neck and lavished the tender flesh with sensual kisses in a line all the way down to her collarbone. The erotic sounds escaping her lips almost sent him over the edge. Before he could form a coherent thought, she had unbuckled his blitz uniform and ran her hands down the muscles of his chest, venturing lower and lower.

He caught her wrists before they could travel down any further and smiled against her neck. This woman drove him crazy, if she didn't know that before it had to be evident now from his growing arousal.

"I've waited over two years for you. Don't make me wait much longer," she pleaded.

As much as he didn't want to rush this experience, hearing those words run off her tongue like honey made him become unglued. His lips crashed onto hers, moving with a salacious hunger as if he were trying to devour them. The feeling of her delicate hands roaming up his back only drove him to intensify his actions. Leaning her down onto the bed, he slid his hand up her thigh and squeezed gently as he moved it over her hip then up to her waist.

It had been quite a while since he had engaged in any sexual activity. And honestly, his body was starving for the intimacy, especially when it came to the woman he had been desperately in love with for the better part of a year. With that in mind, he was unsure if he would be able to subdue his urges long enough to give her a proper first experience. His hands and lips were everywhere, adopting the approach of a clumsy lover rather than the sensual one he had initially planned to introduce. He wanted her so badly, but he knew Yuna deserved better than the hurried actions he was providing.

Just when he thought he had regained some sort of control, her hand slid over the bulge in his shorts and all hope was lost. The loud hiss he made against her lips surprised him. He had never been a vocal lover in the past—just from his reaction now, he sensed that was about to change.

Since his lover had dared to become more adventurous, he only found it fair to reciprocate the attention with a bold move of his own. Slipping his hand underneath her top, he cupped her breast and massaged it delicately. His gesture earned him a soft moan into his mouth and a firm squeeze of his rear. Their heated make-out session had quickly grown into a firestorm of passion. This woman was so amazing. She hadn't even really touched him yet and he was almost undone.

Through his drunken state of bliss, he felt her hands tug at the opening of his yellow hoodie. Her actions fueled his lust for her even more. His beautiful lover clearly wanted him just as much as he wanted her. Suddenly, his clothes felt like a heavy burden weighing between them. He couldn't take much more.

Abruptly breaking the kiss, he stood and fumbled with the zipper on his blitz uniform before succeeding in freeing himself from the constricting garment. Before long, his hoodie, boots, and armguard joined the leather outfit on the floor, leaving him standing only in his boxers. Sometime during his struggle to strip down, his blushing lover had managed to shed a few articles of clothing as well. It may not have been much, but the absence of her boots, armbands, and half-skirt was a welcome surprise in addition to the sight of her lying on the bed beckoning him with a finger.

Complying with her demands, he stalked her like a hungry fiend, crawling onto the mattress over to where she lay. This new found playfulness she had adopted was something he could get used to. He felt more alive than ever being in her presence.

Settling in a position over his lover, he traced his finger across the thin black material of her top and grinned. "I think someone's a little over dressed for this occasion."

"Hmmm," she purred, her cheeks turning an even deeper shade of pink.

There was something about a girl blushing that drove him wild. He wasn't sure if it was the innocence of it all, or the shyness that turned him on, but Yuna seemed to blush all the time and it was intoxicating.

Toying briefly with the pink hem of her top, he left a tender kiss on her tummy before tugging the material up and over her head then tossing it to the floor. Her nervous expression was a sobering moment for him. A couple minutes ago he was ready to ravage her body. Through all the seductive gestures and playfulness he had almost forgotten this would be her first time. Leaning down toward her ear, he whispered in a husky voice, "You're gorgeous."

His complement was rewarded with a shy smile. Convinced it was a sure sign to continue, his lips journeyed over her shoulders to her collarbone and then down to the valley of her breasts—exploring every inch of her and the salty taste of her skin. The heat radiating off her body along with her heavy breaths suggested she was aroused enough for him to elevate his sensual tactics.

Eager to coax some erotic sounds out of his lover, he enclosed his mouth over one of her breasts and flicked his tongue over the erect peak. The loud moan she gave in reply sent a fiery sensation through his veins. Of all the late night fantasies he had of Yuna during her pilgrimage, not once had he envisioned such a sexy sound to escape her innocent lips. Fueled by lust and desire, he switched to her other breast and mimicked his previous technique, only this time, he was sure to include the one he wasn't busy feasting on by gently kneading it in his palm.

When Yuna's hands found a home in his wispy hair, he had to fight the urge to bite down on the soft mound of flesh in his mouth. This woman was working him into a wild frenzy. Afraid he may do something involuntarily to hurt her, he released her breast from his lips and focused his attention lower.

Sliding down the length of her body, he hungrily moved his mouth over her stomach and stopped near the rim of her shorts. Her soft pants were driving him wild. With a lopsided grin, he thought about what he'd do next and how she'd react. The blissful look on her face was already a sight to behold. Slowly, he slid a hand down the front of the denim material and bit his bottom lip when he felt the heat emanating from her core. Yuna didn't disappoint with her reaction, rolling her hips against his hand while moaning his name.

And that was all the confirmation he needed to continue. Without hesitation, he unbuttoned the denim fabric then slowly slid the zipper down.

"Tidus?"

He froze, unsure if her interruption was a sign of her having second thoughts. "Yeah?"

"This isn't a dream, is it?"

"I dunno. Do you have dreams like this often?"

"Mmmm."

He wasn't sure if that was a yes, or a no, but it didn't matter. If this was a dream, then he had no intention of ever waking from it. At this point, he was fairly certain she was toying with him. "Don't worry. I intend to prove this isn't a dream."

With that promise, he tugged both her shorts and panties over her hips then down her legs before tossing them aside. This woman was just too perfect. She didn't even seem the least bit nervous. He slowly ran his hands up the firm, silky texture of her legs, relishing in the fact she was all his. It may have been selfish, but he had always hoped Yuna would be his—and his alone. And honestly, it frightened him a little. For one, he had never been a possessive type of guy, and secondly, he detested those who were. In any case, he vowed to keep himself in check no matter how difficult it proved to be.

Intent on worshiping the body of the goddess lying in front of him, he positioned himself accordingly on his stomach and left a trail of butterfly kisses up her legs, until he reached his destination at her thighs. Never before had he thirsted for woman quite like this. It usually came down to his needs and his alone, but with Yuna, all he could think about was bestowing as much pleasure on her as possible.

Gently guiding apart her thighs, he found her moist center and wasted no time in tasting the last woman he ever intended to be with. A gasp escaped her lips followed by a long moan. Her delightful response, prompted him to grip her hips in preparation for what would surely follow from what he had planned.

Up until now, Yuna hadn't been too terribly loud, but the moment he switched his technique from slow sensual glides to rapid flicks of his tongue, everything changed. His lover quickly turned into a wild squirming fiend, squealing and moaning her pleasure, far louder than he had ever expected to hear from a woman who had been so quiet and shy on her pilgrimage.

As aesthetically pleasing as it was to his ears, her erotic cries were threatening to become his undoing. The throbbing in his boxers had grown almost painful. No woman had ever made him feel like this before. He was woozy and short of breath. Desperately needing air, he pulled away from his lover only to hear her groan with disappointment.

He chuckled at her reaction, knowing he was creating a monster. If he did get to spend the rest of his life with her—however long it may be—he would gladly do this to her every night. After leaving a tender kiss on the inside of her thigh, he slid two fingers into her tight passage and watched as the frustration in her eyes melted into pure bliss. A soft moan vaguely sounding like his name rolled off her tongue. The sound of her voice was entrancing. If he didn't know better, he'd swear she had cast a spell on him from the hypnotic effect he was experiencing at the moment.

Focusing on his task, he moved his fingers inside in a rhythmic motion, careful of not being too rough at first. Her moans grew louder and more demanding, igniting a fire deep within his soul. The amount of love he had for this woman was almost unbearable. He swore he'd burst into flames at any second, knowing he was the one making her feel this way.

Returning his mouth to her core, he glided his tongue over the sensitive nerves and gradually built up to the flicking motion he had done previously. Each time her muscles tensed around his fingers, he eased the pace of his sensual ministrations, only to hasten them again in an effort to prolong her release and have it build with intensity. Yes, he certainly knew how to pleasure a woman. His past sexual experiences hadn't been the waste he had once thought, especially now, since he was using these acquired talents on someone he truly loved—and he loved Yuna more than life itself.

It wasn't long before she was murmuring his name followed by some incoherent words. The moment she released an erotic cry, he felt the warmth of her essence flow over the palm of his hand. He was certain he had sent her cascading toward ecstasy from the way she arched her back and quivered in delight, gripping the sheets.

Grinning like a kid in a candy store, he rose to sit on his legs and licked his lips, still tasting her on them. This woman was so incredibly sexy. He couldn't help but stare at her in awe as if she were a masterpiece he had just finished painting. His talented maneuvers had left her lying sprawled in a beautiful mess with her eyes glazed over and wisps of her hair clinging to her flushed cheeks.

"Still think you're dreaming?" he asked, breathless.

Yuna shook her head, "Uh ah."

"Good." He stood and removed his boxers, kicking them to the side before crawling back onto the bed over to his lover. "Because this part may not feel so dreamy the first go around." For the second time tonight, he winced at his own words. Way to goGood way to kill the mood for her.

"I don't wanna be with anyone else but you. I love you, Tidus. Not until the end, but always, remember?"

Those words served as a reminder of a promise he had made rather than one of her own. Either way, it tugged at his heart. "Not always, Yuna. Forever and beyond."

Her lips curved into a warm smile. "Forever then."

Leaning down, he captured her lips in a tender kiss and caressed the side of her face. He loved this woman more than he even realized. Just the simplest touch from her hand, or a brush from her lips sent sparks of passion throughout his body. Finally, he understood what they shared wasn't just love, but a rare chemistry one would be lucky to find in a lifetime. Everything about her thwarted his senses into overload. He couldn't get enough of her. This woman was truly his soul mate.

His recent revelation, however, hadn't eased his nervousness for what would follow. In the past, he had a few nightmarish experiences with taking a girl's innocence. He certainly didn't want Yuna's first time to fall into that category. As eager as he had been earlier, he was now a bit hesitant to follow through. The last thing he wanted was to turn Yuna off to the physical act of love between two people. He may have had sex many times before, but this was truly his first time making love to someone.

Deeping the kiss, he coaxed her thighs further apart then proceeded to join their bodies as one. Immediately upon entry, her muscles tensed around him. From the way she whimpered against his lips and dug her nails into his shoulder blades, he was almost positive she would protest going any further. Anticipating such an outcome, he halted his movements in order to present her with an opportunity to withdraw.

Instead of taking him up on his offer, her hands slid down to his rear and urged him further inside. His lover's bold actions made her intentions abundantly clear. Honoring her silent request, he carefully completed their joining and groaned against her lips. The titillating sensation from being inside her snug warmth made him feel a pang of guilt. He knew this was anything but pleasurable for Yuna right now, but he intended to turn that around.

Careful not to move until she had time to adjust, he gently parted ways with her lips and gazed into her eyes. "I love you, Yuna…so very much."

Her uncertain expression melted into a warm smile. "I love you, too…also, so very much."

He couldn't help but chuckle at the way she mimicked his sentiment. There really wasn't another woman alive who he could ever love more. Suddenly, her expression turned serious. At first, he thought she had misinterpreted his reaction as poking fun at her, but when her legs wrapped around his hips, he knew that was not the case.

Taking her cue, he slowly rocked his hips against her and studied her facial expressions in an effort to adjust his movements accordingly. Unfortunately, that plan hadn't lasted long. His eyes slipped shut as a familiar feeling of pleasure stirred low in his body. It had been far too long since he had experienced a sexual release through any means other than his hand since arriving in Spira for the first time. All of his senses seemed to heighten with every movement of her hips—the soft caress of her fingers running down his back, her moist lips on his neck, her breasts brushing against his chest, all accompanied by the sound of her moans echoing in his ears. All the times he had done this in the past and not once could he recall ever feeling such intense pleasure build inside him like he was experiencing at that moment.

Struggling to last, he bit the inside of his cheek until the metallic taste of blood passed over his tongue. At this rate, he was certain a sword through his chest wouldn't prevent the inevitable. The room suddenly felt like it had reached a hundred degrees. Every soft moan in between his lover's heavy breaths was inching him closer to the point of no return. His breaths had already turned into pants and his pulse was pounding so fiercely, he was afraid his heart would explode at any second.

And then, by some miracle, her muscles clenched around him followed by a long erotic cry. Her release had to have been the most welcoming sound he'd ever heard, especially since he'd been teetering on the edge for what seemed like forever. Thrusting his hips furiously against her, the pleasure culminating inside his body began to erupt. His breaths came in short gasps. The room felt like it was spinning. Just when he thought he would lose consciousness, his world exploded into a blissful blur.

Collapsing beside his lover, he draped an arm over her waist and gasped for air.

"I didn't know men sounded like that during—" She paused, breathing heavily as a fierce blush spread over her cheeks. "Well, you know."

Even after making love, she still couldn't bring herself to voice the act with the proper words. Her shyness was adorable, but he intended to help her overcome it eventually. "I almost passed out. I don't remember making any sound."

Yuna giggled. "It almost sounded like a growl."

Clearly the intensity of his release had consumed him to the point where he had no control, or memory in doing such an act. "I guess you bring out the animal in me," he grinned.

And as bashful as ever, she avoided his gaze and looked down at the sheets.

"Hey, look at me," he said, lifting her chin with his finger. "What we did was beautiful. You have nothing to be ashamed of."

Her face brightened. "You're right. And we'll be together, always."

Certainly that was his intent, provided he didn't fade from Spira into that darkened abyss again. Hoping to conceal his sudden shift in mood, he pulled the covers over their bodies and snuggled against the pillow. "Still think it was all a dream?"

Responding by mouthing the word no, she reached for the lamp on the nightstand and switched off the light.

The moment the room darkened, his eyes grew heavy. Sleep would consume him soon and he didn't want that to happen. He wasn't sure if he'd wake up beside Yuna or in that darkened abyss. It didn't matter. His body refused to give him a choice. His eyelids drooped. His breathing slowed. And then it came—darkness.