You said I've changed.
I told you you've missed a few things.
You said you wanted to hear everything.
The question is, can you handle the changes?
"So," Tidus grinned as he thought back on everything she’d just revealed to him. "You sound like you’ve been pretty busy."
Yuna simply let her shoulders shrug, kicking a few stray pebbles from the path they walked along. "I guess so. It's weird though."
"What's weird?" Craning his neck to settle his sights on her, noticing that her stride slowed until she came to stop all together.
Yuna’s head snapped up at the unexpected question, not at all knowing how to go about explaining it; evident by the baffled expression and feeling a bit speechless. She supposed it was natural of him to ask, but that hadn’t offered much in the way of confidence.
The walk back to Besaid had been a long one, seeing fit to take the longer route in an attempt to avoid the crowds, overjoyed that the reunion hadn’t been awkward at all; things had fallen into place nicely, picking up right where they had left off so very long ago. Well, despite the fact that she had just recanted two years worth of adventures...and acutely aware a few details had been omitted in favor of sparing him an overload of information to process.
"It's...nothing." A nervous sort of smile tugging at the corners of her lips as she continued on ahead.
Head tilting the slightest bit, his stare lingering on her back for a moment before sprinting to catch up to her with a smirk of his own. "No...I know that look.”
Turning on her heel, a thin brow quirking in confusion, she stood innocently under his stare.
"That one. Right there!"
"You’re imagining things, Tidus!" A hiccup of a giggle bubbled past her upturned lips as they both looked on at one another.
"I...really don't think I am, Yuna," Head shaking slowly, knowing he wasn’t imagining things no matter how much she tried to deny it. "You're not telling me something!"
"What makes you say that?"
"I might have been gone for a while, but I wasn't born yesterday."
“Maybe it’s Sin’s toxins clouding your judgment again!” Spinning round to continue down the sanded path and leaving him there to gawk at her response.
"Tell me!" Laughing as he stumbled over his own two feet to catch up to her, actively choosing to overlooking her last comment.
"There's nothing to tell!"
She seemed content to lead him further down the road, and as he trailed closely behind, his thoughts turned to schemes, trying to figure out a way to get her to talk. The sounds of their footsteps bled against the silence passing between them, able to see the greenery of the jungle up ahead. An impish smirk crept along the corners of his lips—he knew exactly what he was going to do! Maybe it wouldn’t get her talking, and perhaps even make her angry, but since when did he ever put much thought into the consequences of his actions?
Impossibly lost in her own thoughts, she maintained a steady pace, sights downcast while thinking of how she could clue him in on her little secret. It was the uncertainty of how he would handle it, but was there really anything to be afraid of? The answer to her question had been simple: she wasn’t afraid—quite the opposite, actually; she’d merely been trying to get a rise out of him. An inexpiable bout of deviousness washed over her, not at all aware of where it was coming from, and as horrible as it might have been, she relished the feeling.
Pausing, Yuna noticed that she no longer heard two pairs of feet treading the ground. Curiously gazing up to see the tropical canopy looming overhead, head quickly turning left and then right, turning in circles, but he was no where to be seen. Maybe something caught his attention and she just...hadn’t noticed?
Silence was the response she’d received, and alongside it, anxiousness began creeping into her chest. The sun had already started dipping below the horizon, and upon entering the shrouded area, it’d begun to grow quite dim. Yuna squinted her eyes to adjust her vision, steadily searching for any signs of him off in the distance. Still...nothing.
Her voice unsteady as the fear took hold, feeling a lump rising in her throat. The carefree mood was now rapidly dissipating, giving way to less than pleasant emotions and it was clearly starting to show. Just as Yuna was about to call out to him again, she heard the faintest rustling overhead; all movements ceased, ears straining against the uncomfortable silence, she desperately tried to discern what it had been that she heard. Every muscle tensing as the anticipation took her breath.
All the training and battles over the course of two years paid off.
The ‘attack’ came from her blind side, but she had felt it coming. The unknown presence leapt at her from behind one of the palm trees, attempting to wrap its limbs around her; and without the slightest hesitation, she instinctively dodged its efforts, giving it a forceful shove away from her person.
Gasping at the encounter, she barely had time to get a decent look at the contorted limbs that rose up slowly from the kicked up dirt in the aftermath of the scuffle. “T-Tidus?!”
"What was that for?" Groaning as he nursed his backside with one hand and the other to wipe the dirt particles from his face.
"Well...what did you expect?!"
"A little more finesse?"
"Finesse?" A pointed stare was given in his direction. "After a stunt like that?"
“I was just kidding around,” Pulling himself up from the ground with an apologetic expression that replaced his usual sunny-like disposition.
"I didn’t find it funny,” Rushing over to help him...right before a giving him a ‘loving’ shove to his shoulder.
"Ok, all right! I give!" Raising his hands defensively. "I...guess I kinda deserved that, huh?"
She could only turn away from him once she was sure he was fully back on his feet, arms crossing defiantly and lips drawing into a pout at his antics.
"Yuna? Hey, look, I’m really sorry..."
Admittedly, she had been frightened—scared that he had faded again before they’d even had the chance to really enjoy any amount of time together. And, although there was a tinge of anger at him for pulling such a stunt, she couldn’t stay that way for long; it was an impossibility, knowing what kind of person he was long before she fell madly in love with him.
And...he was more than likely aware of it.
However, this presented her with the perfect opportunity to unveil her secret! He would never expect something like this to come from her—Inwardly she was patting herself on the back for coming up with such an idea, hearing Tidus closing in on her space; no doubt to continue professing his apologies for the cruel joke. Little did he know she was in the process of conjuring up one of her own, willing herself to hold out just long enough so that she could see the plan through to fruition.
He reached up to clasp a comforting hand against her shoulder, but she gently shrugged him off, rounding to face him. All the while, allowing an expression of annoyance to settle about her visage that garnered pure shock from him.
"Come on," Narrowing her eyes at him while adopting a defensive stance.
“Uh,” Nervously chuckling as his hand rose to palm the nape of his neck sheepishly. “I’m...not sure I follow.”
Yuna nodded to the sheathed sword resting against his hip; the very same sword that Wakka had given him all those years ago before they departed Besaid. The one she returned to him so willingly when breaking off from the villagers. He followed her line of sight, and when it landed on the sword he couldn't help but to laugh hysterically. Maybe even a little uncomfortably, the longer he thought about it.
"You can't really be serious?"
"Draw it," Encouraging him to do so. "Let's see how much you remember."
Tidus ceased his laughter choosing, instead, to stand there dumbfounded. "Sparring?"
She nodded curtly as her lips curved upward, almost menacingly.
"You don't even have—”
Before the words had a chance to fully escape, a sword of her own materialized, gripping the hilt tightly against her palm. A silent challenge emitted from her slender frame, pointing the tip of Caladbolg in the direction of his Brotherhood.
"Alright," Tidus appeased her, drawing his sword and holding it at his side, "Seeing as how you've never held a sword, I'll cut you some slack."
It amused her greatly—every action and reaction he gave at the notion of a friendly sparring match between the two.
She took a step closer, holding up her sword and he complied in kind, resting their blades atop one another. The clanking sound registered, and Yuna noticed just how apprehensive he looked, deciding to strike first to prove just how serious she’d been.
Withdrawing her sword, she moved to side-step him, thrusting the blade toward him at blinding at a speed that surprised even him. However rusty his skills may have been, he hadn’t completely forgotten his way around the art of swordsmanship, moving to parry her attempt. Blades meeting for a second time, raking together until she moved to push off, taking two steps back.
"What's wrong?" Sensing that he wasn't giving his all.
"This," Baffled at the entire situation he found himself currently in. “How did you—I mean...when?”
While he stumbled over his own words, Yuna seen another chance to strike, spinning around to her left and attempted to swipe at him from the other side. She was met with another parry from him, only this time, the swords met at their chests, both leaning in and bracing with their bodies. Jaws and teeth clenching, the pair struggled against one another, all the while, eyes locking in an intense stare between them.
"Come on, Tidus! Why are you holding back?”
"Why on earth would I want to fight you?" Shooting questions back at her, both sharing the same strained tone amid the stubbornness. "And, more importantly, where the hell did you learn how to handle a sword?"
A forceful exhale sprung forth, pushing off from the struggle once again.
“Fight me as an equal and I’ll tell you.”
The baffled expression never left his face, trying and failing to understand what, exactly, she was playing at. But as he searched blue-green hues, a reluctant nod was finally given; and, maybe, the slightest hint of an intrigued grin.
"Alright, if you're sure."
"No slacking. I want you to put your heart into it."
Tidus nodded and pointed the brotherhood at Yuna. "Ladies first."
She felt a pang of annoyance surge through her, but thought better to use it to her advantage. Raising Caladbolg to rest along Brotherhood, Tidus held his cocky grin and Yuna reflected the same sentiments. Rocking on his feet, his instincts started to kick in focusing on his hands; the most important thing to remember is how to read your opponent, but if you're really good, you can feel them. To know not so much how they’ll strike, but when. He waited for that familiar vibration—the one that came from the slightest movement of their blade and would reverberate against his own.
Sure enough, as he’d predicted, Yuna contracted her weapon and swung to his right, countering it and spinning around knowing that she’d overextended her lunge. With her back now to him, he promised not to hinder his efforts, using her disadvantage to make a move of his own—the first real attack. He swung at her, but she managed to duck just in time, dodging it and found herself on bended knee. She parried him, giving a forceful flick of her wrist and using what muscle she had to knock him off kilter in an effort to maneuver around him freely. Though, agile as ever, he recovered almost effortlessly with a smile.
He stood there noticeably impressed at her skill, but she wasn’t quite ready to give in to his charms—though she would thank him later for the sincerity. Another thrust was attempted, blocked by his blade, which in turn prompted him to lunge at her. A delicate dance ensued between the partners, leaving behind clashes and whines of metal grinding against one another in their wake. The repeated actions went on for an undetermined amount of time, each finding that the other was swift to block and parry every swing.
Circling back to where it all started, both stood bearing down on the other, blades protesting from the abuse their owners had put them through thus far. Sweat began to glisten along their reddened faces, breaths falling labored and heated between the crossed swords and it was then that Yuna noticed the closeness in proximity they were to one another; the thought was never far from Tidus’ mind, either. In a bold move that equally surprised both of them, she inched forward just enough so that her head slipped dangerously between the blades and brought her lips to his, joining them together in a moment of weakness—for one of them, at least. For the other...it was a cruel and calculated tactic.
And what a weakness to have at such a crucial moment! The second he heard the softest hum of contentment pulled from her against their joined mouths, he allowed himself to cave into the moment, body going slack under her enchantment. It proved to be his undoing, however, for when she felt him give, she pulled away and flicked her wrist, using Caladbolg to disarm him—Brotherhood flying smoothly from his gloved hand and beautifully landing tip down into the ground just out of his reach.
"H-Hey,” Mouth agape in complete shock that she went so far. “That’s low even for you, Yuna!”
“But the look on your face was worth every second of it, Tidus!” Her composure slowly devolving into side-splitting laughter, ridding herself of Caladbolg so that she could nurse the ever growing ache in her sides.
"Ha. Ha. Ha."
His reaction only served to bolster the fit of laughs, knowing she would nurse his dented pride when all was said and done; but before they would ever reach that point, she couldn’t bear to stand on her own two feet anymore, managing a few steps to the nearest tree trunk. Melting to the ground, Yuna tried to regain her composure, breaths hiccuping and blinking away the veil of tears that gathered along her lids to catch him retrieving Brotherhood and settling down beside her.
"Laugh it up," He chuckled, watching her in awe for a moment before turning the antics into a more serious nature. He...just had to know. "Where...did you learn how to fight like that?"
Stifling the last of her giggles, she could only smile up at him, acknowledging the gentle nudge of a reminder: she still hadn’t told him, and perhaps continuing to let him wonder was unfair—especially since she’d promised to reveal the secret afterward.
“I guess I wasn’t sure how to go about it. So...I decided this way would be more surprising.”
“Seriously?” Tidus wrinkled his nose, almost scoffing at the idea that she didn’t how to explain something to him of all people. "Yuna, you know you can tell me anything—though, not gonna lie, I was pretty surprised for sure!”
"Well, it’s not so much that I didn’t want to tell you that I could, but more...how I learned."
Tidus didn't respond at all, but rather...sat there staring up at the canopy, patiently waiting for her explanation. Yuna looked down at her hands in her lap, contemplating how to put it into words—to reveal it in such a way that didn’t sound so...silly. Her thoughts were broken, however, when she caught sight of him slipping his un-gloved hand into one of her own, captivated by how perfectly their fingers slid into one another so perfectly. It was also...the first time in what felt like forever that she felt such sensations; the warmth held between their palms proved that a heart beat fiercely within his chest—that he was real.
That he was right next to her and not...somewhere beyond her reach.
"When you left?" Voice falling softer than it had all day and mindful of the way she chose to phrase certain things. "I did everything I could possibly think of to keep you close to me; even playing Blitzball with Wakka. Of course...I was never any good at it, but it didn’t matter. Not to me.”
The curving of her lips faltered, sharing the space of fondness with pain when remembering what those moments felt like. Still, she dared not linger for too long, lest she keep him waiting for the answer he so desperately sought after.
"Anyway, when Rikku came along and told me about the sphere Kimarhi found, I leapt at the opportunity! I wanted to journey again; I wanted to visit the places we’d traveled to together, but it didn't occur to me that I had no physical strength until the first encounter with a fiend.” Shyly glancing up at him, perhaps to gauge his reactions to stave off the flushing of her cheeks. “Paine and Rikku fought it off, and I just...stood there. Later that night, I talked to Shinra and decided to learn all there was about the dresspheres. I...couldn’t bear the thought of being anyone elses burden.”
He’d been staring off in the distance, simply listening to Yuna—really listening. It wasn’t until her voice subsided that his eyes blinked away the trance-like state, turning to notice her own eyes had dimmed; no longer holding that familiar, hypnotic twinkle that always thrived within them. A reassuring squeeze was given against their joined hands, urging her to continue—that it was okay if she felt certain things while telling her story.
"Sorry," Head shaking slowly, pausing long enough to take a deep breath and letting it filter through her nose before continuing on. "I...came across the warrior dressphere. The sword? It looked exactly like yours—no...it was yours. I was overcome with so many feelings, but above them all, I wanted to find a way to stay connected to you; even if you weren’t around, so everyday, I would made time to learn on my own. It’s...embarrassing to admit, but when we journeyed together, I watched you. Even though you'd been gone for so long, as I held the sword in my hand, I could see you as clear as if you were standing right in front of me. Each swing I took, every move I made, you always shone through."
The words wound themselves around his heart, taking hold and rendering him voiceless. It wasn’t embarrassing at all, knowing that she was watching, when it’d often felt like her sights were so sternly settled against a future she would never see. That she cared enough to carry him with her when she had been deprived of him all this time, or that he had left such an impact on her at all…
That she loved him so dearly.
"It shows," Whispering against her ear when he was able to formulate intelligible sentences again. "I'm...glad that I was the reason for a lot of things that you did.”
More over, he was just...happy to be able to hold up his end of the promise he made to her. Always.
Yuna wrapped her arms around his middle, twisting herself around him and nuzzled her head gently in the crook of his neck; a sigh of relief falling against him now that the truth was out in the open. The silence that fell between was welcoming, comforting, even; she was glad to have him back, and would spend every waking moment reminding him of it.
But this particular moment would be short-lived. Nightfall was swiftly approaching, and with it, mirthful celebrations were to be had in the village proper—Besaid eagerly awaited the couple, knowing they would be lavished in warmth and praises once the two graced them with their presence again.
"We...should probably start heading back before they come looking for us." Reluctant to pry herself from the safety of his embrace, but it couldn’t be helped.
"Guess we kinda have to, huh?" Taking one last breath and holding it for a moment, and releasing it alongside a lazy chuckle. "Oh, and for the record: don't think your kisses will always have that kind of affect on me!"
“Is that so?”
Flashing him an amorous smile, she leaned up and ghosted her lips along his—just enough for him to feel them there, but not enough to join them completely. And, as she predicted, Tidus' body began to loosen and his breathing ceased all together, leaving him there to ponder over his own words in the aftermath.
"I think I just proved you wrong."
Leaving a very frustrated Tidus to sit under the tree they shared as she rose to leave. Sadly, she never did get very far.
Turning to face him, he had a very serious look on his face, unable to tell if it was anger, disappointment or a little of both. Her posture softened, instantly remorseful for her actions—perhaps she’d tiptoed a little, too, far over the line this time.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn’t have—”
He placed a finger against her lips in an effort to silence her, and when he accomplished that, both hands went to her shoulders to turn them round. Tidus moved them together, slowly and only stopping when he felt her back gently bump into the roughness of the trunk; he maintained a distance close enough to make her squirm, but not to leave her completely uncomfortable—it was high time she had a dose of her own medicine.
"H-how long what?" Shallow breaths taken at the sudden change in his demeanor.
"Blitzball. How long can you hold your breath now?"
He had posed the question so casually, as if nothing were amiss, leaving Yuna to stand there...head tilting and brows to furrow in a state of bafflement. Had...he gone crazy—had she driven him mad? Hands moving against the roughness of the bark, she gripped the tree and leaned away in an effort to understand what it was he was playing at so suddenly.
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Just answer the question. How long?"
"Two minutes and forty seconds..."
Tidus let his hands rise to rest on either side of Yuna's shoulders, following her as she crept back until his lips stood dangerously close by her ear. He said nothing, letting the seconds tick by, relishing the way her breaths had suddenly began falling so shallow. And when he thought she just might faint, he let his mouth faintly brush against her earlobe, garnering shiver from her in response.
"We'll have to fix that."
"I-Is that a challenge?"
"No, not a challenge,” Their eyes briefly locking onto one another as he pulled away from the confines of her neck. He knew then just how much he had her attention, seizing the opportunity and leaving the briefest kiss upon her lips. “That’s a promise.”
I said you'd changed.
Y ou said I'd missed a few things.
I said I wanted to hear everything.
The thing is, between us, nothing's changed.