I'm really sorry, you guys. Wow. I wish I could say something else.

The truth is that my inspiration for Children of Light and Beneath the Mask has completely dried up. Neither has, or ever had, a real clear plot direction. I have spent over a year trying to save them, because they are both really dear to me, but I am coming up with nothing each time. I've invested a lot of heart into these stories, even though I never knew exactly where they would end or how. I won't bore you all with a list of excuses as to why I'm so stuck, because frankly I don't think I have any.

I know this sounds pathetic and obsessive of me, but I have spent the last few hours just lying awake in bed pondering how on earth I was going to break this news to you. Just take this a proof that my readers do mean a lot to me, and I hate that I have to disappoint them like this. I know how aggravating it is when one of my favourite authors suddenly drops a story that I like, and I never thought I'd end up doing the same thing to you guys. It sucks, and all I can do is say how sorry I am, and how hard it is for me to write this.

That's not to say I'm leaving fanfiction. Au contraire! I do have ideas for other stories, other FFX ones and maybe somewhere down the road a Harry Potter fic. But I can't allow myself to publish anything without making it clear to you all that I am 99 certain that COL and BTM are to remain incomplete. I wish I could say that this leaves room for a chance that I will pick them up again somewhere down the road, but my gut feeling is that I won't. I will leave them posted so that whomever chooses to can still read them from time to time. Someday, if and when I post new stories (we can be confident that it will happen at some point), I promise to put more thought into them and make them worth reading.

In closing, I offer my deepest apologies, and I hope that you will understand.


Lucifer's Garden

NOTE: I will only say this once . . . I do not own FFX (2) or its characters/story/elements, I simply exploit them for my amusement and yours as well. FFX (2) and everything in it belongs to Square Enix.

Oh my, a high school fic? Well, THAT'S never been done before! Okay, so I know the whole school thing is dangerously overused, but if you told me to my face that you didn't like it I would call you a dirty liar because you secretly do. Don't deny it! Anyway, this is a Tidus/Yuna story taking place in Bevelle, and I'm including the other characters from FFX and from FFX2. I'm rating it PG13 for language and some adult themes just to be safe. This will alternate between both Yuna and Tidus' point of view. I just might add a bit of other pairings too, possibly Rikku/Gippal, Paine/Baralai, or something, but review and tell me first if you would like more couples.

Summary: Tidus is the ringleader of a fierce gang, and upholds his reputation as someone not to be messed with. But nobody, not even his close friends/gang members, actually knows just how Tidus really feels about life and what he wants . . . until he meets Yuna, the new girl with hidden pain of her own. Yuna, who has never met someone with Tidus' spirit, is immediately fascinated by him and feels that there is more to him than meets the eye. What will she find beneath his tough exterior? What will Tidus discover under her façade of perfection?




The Throwbacks. Somehow that's the name everyone seemed to agree on. It's not like we have the name sewn onto the backs of our jackets, or matching signature tattoos or anything stupid like that. It wasn't official to us. In fact, we aren't even the ones who decided on the name. People just started to call us that, and it stuck with us. I guess you can say they're right; we are considered the throwbacks of society, the good-for-nothings, the punks, the outcasts, the 'mislead', the bad lot, the wrong crowd . . . you get the picture.

Even the teachers don't like walking past us in the halls, and I'd be lying if I said we didn't have a lot of fun being pains in the ass. We like to make scenes, shake things up a bit, go a little nuts. Somebody's gotta make life interesting, right? Outside of school, people cross the street to avoid us, especially if we look like we're in a rowdy mood.

I'm not sure who decided I would be in charge. It was sort of a unanimous thing. There's really no such thing as a 'captain' in the gang. Everybody is their own person, basically, and we don't actually give or take orders. But we need someone for guidance, and all of us know that. When Chappu, or old 'leader', was killed last year, the gang just sort of looked to me for direction. I couldn't turn down the position. I know these kids too well. If nobody stepped up to take control, then we'd fall apart or end up doing something stupid like get caught up with the police. Where we come from, all we have is each other, and we can't afford to not get along. It's stick together or be stranded alone with no protection. None of us want to admit it, but we all depend on each other for more than just friendship.

Chappu had been a good leader. He was gentler than the rest of us, and since we liked him so much we had no problem backing down when he told us off. He was never forceful, but he didn't need to be. He got his message across loud and clear without ever raising a fist. He was the kind of guy who would help an old lady with her groceries if he saw that she was having trouble. He'd dive in the middle of a busy highway to rescue a puppy from getting run over. When he was shot last year, we all missed him awfully. He was our rock, and the group has never been the same since then. It's not easy to fill in for him, but I always remember that he tried to bring out the best of us and make us feel like we were more than just street hoodlums. Sometimes I get the feeling that I'll never be as good as he was. I feel like I can never be as strong for the gang as he could be.

Wakka is the oldest one in the group, and also the slowest. He's nineteen, tall, heavy, muscular, and sports the weirdest hairstyle you can imagine. It continues to defy gravity in the weirdest way, and I still haven't figured out how he manages to make it do that. He loves nothing more than to cause trouble, and he is quite good at it. I have a habit of saying that he is trouble-prone, and I'm not far from the truth. He's a pretty decent guy though, once you get past that idiot surface. He's probably the most loyal person you'll ever meet. Surprisingly, he's a huge fan of blitzball and is a devoted follower of Yevon, but you'd never guess that last part just by looking at him. He used to be on a junior blitz team before he fell in with the 'bad crowd'. He was Chappu's older brother, and fiercely devoted to him. When he died, Wakka tried not to let it get him down, but he never really got rid of that sad lost look in his eye.

Lulu is our voice of reason, even though she is the most feared member of the gang. She's an eighteen year old black mage, and –everybody- knows it. She was Chappu's girl before he died, and I think his death hit her the hardest, probably even more than Wakka. She really loved him, and Chappu was crazy for her. I really thought they'd end up getting married and have a shitload of kids. Since it happened, she sort of became our 'head mistress', our Alpha female. When I'm not around, Lulu's pretty much in charge. But ever since Chappu's death, she's never been quite the same. She's colder and tougher, but at the same time she seems more vulnerable and lost. Lulu is tall and curvy with long jet black hair and ruby red eyes that could crack a stone in half with one look. She's obviously gorgeous, but intimidating with a capital I. Anyone with half a brain knows not to piss her off unless they want a million Firaga spells crashing down on their ass.

Rikku is the youngest of us, as we all like to remind her every now and then, but that does not mean that girl is any less frightening. Don't let her cute little girl build fool you, or her perky blonde hair and jade green eyes. When she's mad, she's dangerous. Rikku is a sixteen year old Al Bhed, and even though she's tiny, she's a vicious fighter with more tricks up her sleeve than anyone I know. Of course, when she's not mad she's really a total sweetheart with a wicked flirting streak. Rikku's definitely the most talented thief in the whole city. She could probably steal the stars out of the sky if she really wanted to. She's never been caught for stealing, but if she ever was, I don't doubt that she could sweet-talk her way out of any trouble. Since she dresses in a less-than-conservative way, guys are practically panting for her, and she enjoys every minute of it.

Gippal is my age, you will not meet a cockier, more arrogant little son of a bitch. He's an Al Bhed, like Rikku, but he picks on her constantly and never seems to get tired of pointing out everyone's faults. Even so, it's damn near impossible not to like the guy. He's a real charmer and he knows it. He has a way with women that most guys would die for. He's a mechanical genius and can hotwire a car in less time than it takes to scratch your ass. He keeps the good times rolling with his sense of humour which is more or less just him being a little jerk. People are scared of him just because his right eye is covered by a black pirate eye patch. Honestly though, Gippal's not a bad guy and comes in handy to have around. He's cool and street smart, and knows the whole city better than the back of his hand. He's loyal to the gang, and in any fight I wouldn't complain to have him guarding my back.

Paine is the strong silent type. She's Lulu's twin sister, and they share the same scarlet eyes and pale skin but nothing else physically. Paine's tough as nails, and I wouldn't be surprised if she took on any man and kicked his ass thoroughly, never once complaining about her own injuries. She is the ultimate tomboy and hates being called referred to as a 'girly girl'. We don't know much about what goes on in her head, but she's trustworthy and lives for a good fight. She has really pretty silver hair and a red glare that strikes most people stupid with nerves. Paine is sort of the glue that holds us together. When none of us can agree on something and even Lulu's words of wisdom aren't helping, Paine is usually the one that can calm things down. Just her being there is calming, sort of reassuring. Without her, we would have fallen apart many times, and we all have the utmost respect for her.

They are my gang, my friends, and my family. I would never in my life admit this to any of them (or anyone else for that matter), but each of them means a lot to me. I am who I am because they were there with me every step of the way, watching my back and picking me up when I fell down. I like to think that in some way, aside from being 'the leader', I've helped them all too.


The street outside my apartment building is unusually quiet. I step outside into the grey morning light, mildly surprised that there are no gunshot echoes or the sound of angry voices shouting. I look around and see nothing but a piece of trash caught in an updraft, drifting down the dirty street. A homeless man is sleeping off the sidewalk across the street, holding a wine bottle loosely in his relaxed hand.

"Mornin', Boss," I hear a familiar voice drawl. I smirk and turn around to see Gippal heading towards me, his hands stuffed in his jean pockets. As usual, he's wearing his old brown jacket that has more holes than a minefield and a dark green bandana holding back his blonde bangs. His cigarette moves slightly when he talks, since he doesn't bother removing it before speaking. 'Boss' is a personal nickname the gang calls me. It's a joke, really, but in a way I kinda like it.

Every morning we all walk to school together, but I don't know why we even bother with it. It has been two weeks since school started up again, and none of us have been on time once. We don't take school seriously. I figure we see it as just another way to pass the time. In reality, almost all of us have been held back a grade at least once, not because we're stupid, but because we just didn't take our work seriously. Lulu's probably the only one who cares about her grades, and has a chance to make it to university, but she refuses to leave the gang. Actually, sometimes I enjoy school. I really like Art, even though I'd rather stab myself in the eye with a red-hot iron poker than confess it to anyone.

"Mornin', Patch," I reply, using his nickname. Gippal just lives down the street from me, in an equally shabby apartment building with his grandparents. The kind of place where the paint is peeling off the walls and most of the windows are broken, covered only by plastic stretched across the wood frame.

The two of us walk together down to Lulu and Paine's house, which is just around the corner. The girls live with their mom in a run down shack stuffed between a porn shop and an auto repair garage. As Gippal and I come around the corner we see them leaving their house to come meet us. Lulu is dressed in her typical black dress, a strange design she put together herself, and her hair his held back her usual cluster of braids. It's sexy on her, especially the skirt of belts. Lulu's unique like that. She can wear anything and make it look good. Paine is dressed in a tight dark grey t-shirt with a cool design on the chest and loose boys jeans that hide her legs. Over it all she is wearing a huge black hoody with the top half left open like she does everyday, even in the blistering heat. I've never seen her in a dress or anything feminine in my life, but she pulls off the tomboy look really well.

"You ladies are looking fabulous as usual," Gippal says as he drapes his arms around their shoulders. Paine only grunts to acknowledge his flirting, and Lulu just rolls her eyes and shrugs him off, coming up to walk beside me.

We talk for a few minutes about nothing in general before we meet up with Wakka and Rikku, who both live down the block from Lulu and Paine's house. Wakka lives with his parents in a ratty housing project, and Rikku lives with her dad and brother in a small duplex they share with a bitter old woman who owns about twenty-seven cats. The whole place always smells like cat piss, no matter where you go in it.

Rikku has a cigarette perched between her bright red lips. She and Gippal are the only two serious smokers, even though Wakka sometimes has a drag or two when he's really stressed out. As usual, Rikku's hair is up in a loose pony tail, and is dressed similarly to a street corner hooker. She has tight black thigh-high boots, a short red and black plaid skirt, and a red tube top that barely covers her entire chest. She winks at us as she approaches, and Wakka lifts his hand in a casual wave. He is wearing a black leather jacket, a white wife beater, and black jeans with holes in the knees.

"Are we this late every morning?" Lulu asks dryly, even though by the tone of her voice we can tell she already knows the answer.

"Duh," Wakka snorts. "It's just school, Lu. Nothing to get so uptight about, ya?"

"Yeah, but I think Shorty's getting sick of having detention every week," I say, referring to Rikku, and nudge her in the side. Her face scrunches up into a frown, partly from my comment, and partly from the old childish pet name.

"That creep Professor Kinoc is always trying to look down my shirt. That's the only reason why he keeps me in all the time," she says with an irritated sigh.

We are twenty minutes late by the time we finally reach CBH, Central Bevelle High. As far as schools go, it's actually pretty good. Kids from our area of town are really lucky to be able to go to it instead of one of the ghetto schools we used to attend. It's a public school, and all kinds of students go there, rich or poor. Me and the gang figured it was mostly a prep school, since over half the student body is full of airheads. Not that most of us are particular geniuses at school, but at least we aren't stupid. Except for Wakka, but he's more slow than stupid, even though he had to repeat the twelfth grade. It's pathetic to see the Jocks and the Princesses strutting around like they own the damn place, treating us like the contents of a toilet.

We cut through the parking lot towards the front door when something bright catches my eye. I turn to my left and catch my breath. Rikku stops and grabs Gippal's arm, inhaling sharply. Gippal stares with his one good eye, a delighted grin spreading over his face.

We are facing the most beautiful silver Porsche I have ever laid eyes on in my life. It gleams in the sunlight like an angel's halo, just begging us to come over and say hi. Even Paine and Lulu, who aren't normally interested in cars, look intrigued. Wakka is shaking his head in wonder.

"Oh, dudes . . ." Gippal says excitedly, rubbing his hands together eagerly. "Imaging the horse power on this baby!"

"Check out the interior," Rikku pipes up, leaning in to peek through the sparkling windows. "Leather seats, CD changer AND fabulous speaker system, satellite navigator, DVD player . . . man, this shit is tight!"

"We gotta jack this thing," Gippal says bluntly, staring at me as if it were the only thing in the world left to do. I see the others look at me expectantly for a response and I feel my 'leadership' instincts stirring.

"No," I say finally, ignoring his crestfallen expression. "We can't do it in broad daylight. Anyone could be watching."

"Aw, come on, Boss!" Rikku pleads, grasping my hand. "Gippal and I can do it in less than a minute! Let us do it, please? PLEASE?"

"Cut it out, Rikku," I say firmly, shaking her off. "I said no. I don't want you doing it period, anyway. If you get caught, the cops could trace you back to us and bring us all down with you. I'm not going to risk it, we're in enough shit with the police already. Just let it go, all right?"

Both Rikku and Gippal stare at me in disbelief, like I had hit them or something. Rikku looks like she wants to scream at me, and Gippal looks like he wants nothing more than to punch my lights out. But I could take either one of them easily, and they knew it. My word was final.

We leave the Porsche eventually, and I pay no attention to the yearning looks in Rikku, Gippal, and Wakka's faces. I know they'll get over it before the day is over.

Inside the building we go to our lockers, which are all conveniently placed close to each other in the same hallway. Laughing and talking loudly, we split up and head to our classes. I am the only one who has to go to a class by myself this morning, and with a sigh I make my way down to Spiran History. Yay.

As I push the door open, Professor Maechan squints up at me with his beady little eyes and then stares at me warily.

"So glad you chose to join us, Mr. Lorac," he says sternly. I salute him with one casual finger and stroll over to my desk, rolling my eyes as he tells me to see him after school for detention. Why does he bother anymore? He knows I won't show up. A young mousey-haired girl named Shelinda is staring at me nervously. She's scared shitless of me, ever since the gang and I cornered her and I stole some of her money, the way regular bullies are 'supposed' to. I leer at her and she flinches, looking away sharply. I snicker at her and head to my desk, pleased with myself.

Across the room from me I see a pair of dark brown eyes staring at me. I turn my head and end up looking directly at Dona Calisto, a tall exotic looking girl with sultry lips and legs that go on for miles. She's the most popular girl at school simply because she's kind of a slut. Dona winks at me and smiles, and I raise an eyebrow carelessly in response. I dated her once, and we slept together a few times, but she got too clingy and wanted a relationship, when all I wanted was a good lay. So, I dumped her, and she's been trying to win me back ever since. But I don't trust her. As soon as she lets me sleep with her again, I know she'll try to be my 'significant other'. She can have any pick of the litter around here, so I don't know why she wastes her time begging me to come back. As far as I'm concerned, Dona can go throw herself in front of traffic.

I have a long string of girlfriends behind me, but never anything serious. They were all just three week long flings that never went anywhere beyond a good ride in the sack. At the moment I'm single, but I always keep a sharp eye out for new prey.

Speaking of which . . .

The door opens suddenly and somebody new steps in uncertainly. Everyone looks to the door, including me after I tore my gaze away from Dona. I find myself staring into a pair of bicoloured blue and green eyes. I blink in surprise and realize that I am looking at a girl I've never seen before.

"Professor Maechan?" she says quietly to the old man up at the front. "I'm Yuna Ressan. I transferred here from WB Prep, and the secretary sent me to this classroom."

"Ah, yes, Miss Ressan, such an honour! I am so very pleased to have the daughter of Lord Braska Ressan in my very class. Kindly take your seat over there behind Miss Ferguson in the back. Welcome to CBH," Maechan says cheerfully, gesturing to a girl named Elma who sits right next to me. A surprised murmur ripples around the room at the mention of Lord Ressan.

I stare at this Yuna girl, who is smiling politely but shyly at us. WB Prep? As in West Bevelle Prep? The richest, snobbiest private school in the whole city? And her father is Lord Braska, the former High Summoner that defeated Sin twenty years ago! I don't think CBH has ever had a famous celebrity's kid attend the school, none other than the High Summoner's.

She's kinda hot, I have to admit, in a humble sort of way. I watch with fascination as her brown hair shines in the light pouring in from the window, the way her light skin looks like it's glowing. Her hips sway as she walks, clueless as to how attractive they are, and her legs look smooth and sleek. I notice her clothing, which is far from designer material. She doesn't dress like a millionaire; knee-length flower pattern skirt that hugs her figure, white blouse with the top half left open to reveal a dark purple tank top underneath, silver charm bracelet, white tennis shoes . . . she looks more like a librarian than a summoner's daughter. Even so, nearly every pair of male eyes are examining her just as closely as I am while she walks down the aisle.

Everyone stares at her as she makes her way to her desk, which is quite close to me in the back. She hugs her books to her chest and keeps her pretty eyes down to the floor, obviously uncomfortable under everyone's curiosity. Strangely, I want her to look back at me so that I can have a closer look at those mismatched eyes.

As if reading my thoughts, she suddenly lifts her face up and stares directly at me. Her eyes locked onto mine, and for just a moment it held. I don't even blink, but before I can control myself I grin at her. Are my eyes are playing tricks on me, or did I just see the faint trace of a smile on her lips? But the moment ended soon. Too soon, in my opinion. She looks away once again as she takes her seat and opens her books.

Even though she doesn't look back in my direction, I find that Spiran History has just become much more interesting.