Alpha Redux

BY : Seven
Category: Final Fantasy X > General
Dragon prints: 821
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy X, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Chapter 10b is up! As always, thanks to everyone who takes the time to review. I promise, I read every single one with appreciation. Anyway, enjoy ladies and gents! And as always, let me know what you think!
*****

Tidus pushed himself up onto his knees, then to his feet. His mother had taught him to never hit a woman, an nev never had, but if Paine tried to punch him this time, he didn’t know what was going to happen.

Sky blue met ruby red; the two stood there on the beach at dusk, in a stare down. Heaving a sigh, Tidus broke the contact first, and sat back down in the sand. It seemed like Paine wasn’t going to hit him or anything, so he figured it was okay to let his guard down. A small white seashell caught his eye, and he picked it up to study it. “If you came here to rub it in, there’s no need to,” he found himself saying. Why else would she be there?

“I came to talk.”

He threw up a hand in her direction. “So talk,” he mumbled, rolling the smooth seashell between his fingertips.

Much to his surprise, Paine lowered herself to the sand beside him. He watched as she brought her knees to her chest and hugged them, fixing her eyes on the horizon. The wind carried her dark bangs into her eyes, and she pushed them back. “I’d rather you talk, actually,” she requested. “Tell me about your feelings for Yuna.”

Huh? Tidus looked over at the woman who had punched him without a second thought only two days before. He figured she had don for for Yuna’s sake, but who understood Paine anyway. “What do you care?” he grumbled, turning away and throwing the seashell into the rolling tide.

“Yuna is one of two people I call ‘friend’. She’s upset. I care.” she explained slowly.

Paine was looking at him in what seemed like genuine interest, and her features had softened a little. He decided it was okay to share a little with her. Maybe it would get back to Yuna and she would come home. Or send for him to come to her. Something.

“All right,” Tidus agreed, stretching out, crossing his legs at the ankles and leaning back on his elbows.

He couldn’t figure out where to start because there was so much to say. “Okay. I love Yuna. She’s like, everything that matters to me. I mean, blitzball and my friends matter, but Yuna is the most important.” Tidus found that once he started talking, it became easier and easier, and the emotions he carried in his heart became words that just flowed seamlessly from his mouth.

He looked up at the giant half moon, and let the random memories of Yuna suffuse his mind. “I love Yuna because she’s the perfect person. She’s the only person who ever loved me for no reason.”

“Your parents must have loved you.” Paine supplied.

Tidus shook his head. “That’s not what I mean. My parents loved me because I was their kid. Zanarkand loved me because I blitzed like my old man. Girls loved me because I was some trophy or bragging rights or something, ya know? But Yuna loves me just because she wants to,” he explained.

“So you love her because she loves you, then.”

“That’s part of it, but not even close to all of it. I take it you know about the whole pilgrimage and everything right?” he asked, brushing sand off the front of his swimming trunks.

“Mmm,” she affirmed.

“Well, when I first came to Spira, I didn’t care about it one bit. I just wanted to go home. I was all like, ‘Screw Yevon and the teachings’ and all that. But when I met Yuna, and I learned about what she had to do, I tried to change her mind. But that didn’t work.” Tidus shook his head at the memory. “I didn’t know what we were up against or even what I was doing, but I knew I was falling in love with this girl. This holy summoner-daughter-of-a legend-girl,” he laughed, looking over at Paine’s profile.

A small smile appeared on her lips and Tidus continued. “Well, once I knew that we would have to beat Sin to save Spira, I still didn’t care about this place. But when I was with Yuna and I thought about how she made me feel, and how many lives she touched, that’s all I could think about. I went along on the journey to find myself, but I wanted to save Yuna.” A lovesick sigh escaped him. “I just looked at her, and I saw the only thing about Spira worth saving. She was the only thing I felt was worth dying for.”

Tidus exhaled sharply through his nose. “I’ve never loved a girl in my life, Paine. Ever.” Paine’s disbelieving look spurred him on. “Seriously! Well besides my Mom anyway. Yuna just makes me feel like I’m worth something. Even my Mom couldn’t do that,” he finished in a near whisper.

It was so true. His mother always ditched him when his old man came around, and he always felt like he was baggage to her. She was his mother, and he knew she loved him, but he still felt like he was some kind of burden to her. Yuna’s love was something he had never experienced, and never wanted to experience with anyone else.

“You didn’t do it, did you?” Paine’s voice interrupted his train of thought.

“Huh?” Tidus wondered aloud.

“I can see it in your eyes.” Paine fixed her stare on him. “You didn’t cheat on Yuna.”

What? “What are you talking about?” he asked, frowning.

Paine’s expression matched his. “Yuna. I’m talking about her seeing you kiss a woman in the market,” she said rather brusquely.

In his short life, Tidus had found that there were times when clarity was so crisp that it felt like being kicked in the chest, with it’s overwhelming force.

This was one of those times.

Tidus jumped up, adrenaline rushing through his system. Yuna saw that girl kiss him? Was that why she was mad? Why she cried on the ship? Did she see the fight? Was she even mad about the fight? Is that what she saw? She thought he cheated on her??? Tidus let his mouth fall open and he just stared at Paine. “She saw that girl kiss me?” he heard himself say.

The frown deepened on Paine’s face. “Obviously.”

Thoughts and memories of his and Yuna’s last conversation were racing through his head, and he couldn’t speak. Had they really gotten their signals crossed this bad? Shit shit shit. He was such an idiot!

He reached up grabbed his head, not knowing what else to do with his hands. This was bad. Or was it good? Yuna wasn’t mad at him for fighting likrabirabid dog, but she was…she was hurt by him for cheating on her...oh shit! Tidus concluded that this was definitely bad.

“I didn’t kiss that girl, she kissed me!” he exclaimed, walking in front of Yuna’s friend. “She asked me for a hug because I was her favorite and I said okay and then I hugged her and then she grabbed my head kissed me before I could get away, and then I told her I was with Yuna and she didn’t care, she just walked off,” he babbled.

Paine looked a little leery of his explanation. He could tell she wanted to believe him, but she was wary. “Paine, you’ve gotta believe me,” he implored, “I would never do that to Yuna. I love her! I-I wanna marry her!”

The ring! That was it! He could make her see. “Hang on a sec, okay?” he instructed, backing away and motioning with his hands for her to stay where she was.

He began jogging toward the palm tree by the clubhouse where he’d put his knapsack before practice. It seemed stupid to do so at the time, and he didn’t know why he had done it, but now Tidus was glad he’d taken the ring with him that afternoon. The small nylon sack was sitting against the wall, just where he’d left it. Slowing down to a walk, Tidus snatched the bag up and shoved his hand inside. Before he completely pulled the small velvet box out of the bag, he was running back toward Paine, kicking up sand behind him and leaving footprints.

“I bought this,” he panted, tossing her the box. “In Bevelle that day.”

Using her fingertips, Paine carefully popped open the small case, and there was no mistaking theck ick in her eyes. Not that she was the most expressive person in the world, but Tidus had been around her enough to read the emotions in her eyes. She was a lot like Lulu; the only way you could read her heart was through her eyes. He lowered his head, looking into those stormy eyes. “Do you believe me?” he asked, pressing his palm flat against his heart..

Paine looked back down at the ring and studied it for a minute. “Gagazet diamond,” she stated.

Nodding, Tidus knelt down on one knee in front of her. “Yeah, it took a lot to get it, but I did.” He reached over and pointed out the Macalania gems to her. “Those have a pretty special meaning too,” he commented.

“I know. Your first kiss was there,” Paine’s voice was softer than he had ever heard her speak.

How did everyone know that? “Did Yuna tell you that?” he asked, resting his elbow on his knee.

She nodded, closing the box and handing it back to him. Tidus watched as she stood and duster per pants off. She folded her arms, and walked close to the edge of the beach. He walked over to stand beside her. “When Rikku and her brother first found me, I felt lost too,” she said in a hushed voice. “I didn’t have any memory and I didn’t have anything or anyone to trust in.”

The weight of this confession was not lost on Tidus. He felt a strange platonic affection for Paine at that moment. He knew that a warm heart had always beat under that cool exterior of hers. Paine shifted her feet, and looked down at her boots. She continued speaking. “But Yuna and Rikku never judged me. They just befriended me, no questions asked. Now I trust them with my life.” She looked up, and out to the sea. Tidus’ eyes followed hers. “So I know what you mean, about someone loving you for no reason.”

The two held a look, and then exchanged the smiles of two people who weren’t exactly on the same page, but at least in the same chapter. Friends.

Paine spoke, her face gone back to the mask of impassiveness she always wore. “I believe you. But Yuna doesn’t.”

Tidus groaned inwardly, swaying in a circle on his feet. Man, he couldn’t believe he had been so dumb. How was he going to convince Yuna of the truth? He thought back to the other day again, when he’d told her all those things about guys being macho and all that. He could see why she’d reacted how she did. Fuck, she must think he was an insensitive jerk.

He began pacing back and forth. “I need to see her,” he said, more to himself than to Paine. “I know I can make her understand. I know it.”

His new friend turned to him. “We’ll leave in the morning,” she said.

Tidus stopped in his tracks and turned to face Paine. “You’ll take me?” he asked, making sure he’d heard her right. First she’d hit him, and now she was going to help him?

She nodded, nodding her head toward the docks. Tidus peered over her shoulder, and saw one of the gunmetal gray Al Bhed mini-ships at port. He realized she must’ve taken that straight here to talk to him. From what he understood, the smaller ships were used to transport the Al Bhed in charge of demonstrating machina. The big ones were used to transport the actual machina. He guessed Rikku and Paine probably had their own just to cruise in sometimes. “You can fly that thing?” he asked, walking past her to see a little closer.

“Yes.”

A slow smile spread across his face, as he faced Paine again. Emotion bubbled up in him, and he enveloped her in ar hur hug. “You’re so awesome!” he gushed, squeezing her tight.

He felt her initially stiffen, but Tidus figured she didn’t hug a lot anyway. Now that they were friends, she was just going to have to get used to it. His smile broadened when he felt her lightly pat him on his back. Once. Then twice. Finally, he released her, and she cleared her throat, obviously uncomfortable with the affection. Tidus just thought it was funny. “We will leave at dawn, and be there in time for Rikku’s birthday party tomorrow night.”

At the Home? “Aren’t we still having her surprise party here?” he asked.

“Yes, but that’s in tays,ays,” she explained. “Rikku’s actual birthday is tomorrow. So Cid and all of her Al Bhed friends wanted to have a party for her there, as well.”

“Oh, okay.” Tidus walked back over where he left his bag and placed the velvet box back inside. “So you’re staying the night?”

Paine shrugged, starting in the direction of the house. “I suppose that’s the most practical thing to do.”

“Cool,” he grinned, following her. “Slumber party with the Paine-ster.”

She rolled her eyes. Tidus threw an arm over her shoulder. “So don’t you owe me an apology for the other day?” he grinned. “Or do you just like seeing your handiwork on my face?”

Frowning, she shrugged his arm off. “No, I did that so you wouldn't look like such a pretty boy. It's for your own good."

He stopped walking. Seriously?

Paine looked over her shoulder at him, with her tight-lipped smile. Oh, she was joking again. “You’re so mean,” he laughed, jogging and then catching up with her. He’d have to get used to her brand of humor. “But I’m glad you’re my friend,” he added softly, looking at her face to gauge her reaction.

She raised her eyebrows, scratching her arm. “Well, friends don’t let friends run around looking like wild fiends,” she said, changing the sensitive tone quickly. Her hand went to his shaggy blonde hair and pulled it down into his face. “I am not taking you anywhere with that rat’s nest on your head. We cut it tonight.”

Tidus pushed his hair out of his eyes, and shot her a mock-angry glare. “Jassu likes it,” he baited.

Paine didn’t bite. Or even flinch at his comment. “Whatever. I don’t.” The lit torches on the front porch of the house were visible to them now. Wakka or Lulu had probably cooked dinner, and he was starving. “Besides, you’ll need all the help you can get come tomorrow,” she added.

He sighed. Too true. And somehow, he doubted that a new haircut wodo mdo much good in this situation. “I’ll take whatever will help my chances,” he thought aloud.

Tidus didn’t know what he was going to say to Yuna, but he knew it had to be good. Losing her was just not an option.


To be continued….


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