"Now I want you when you're gone
And now it's like you're holding something
Just in front of me"
-- "Guarded" by Disturbed
The Farplane was not Yuna's favorite place. The last time she had been here she was a young summoner fresh on her pilgrimage, painfully naive and filled with the lies of the temple. And he had been with her, making her forget for a while that after that moment she would never see her father's kind smile or her mother's joyful eyes again. Now she was a little wiser, a little more aware of the truth of the world, and her mind was no longer plagued with false indoctrinations. Yet something about the place bothered her.
It was beautiful, with its ethereal opaque landscape, the surroundings as insubstantial as air or a dream. Flowers in unnatural colors, having no smell; the flowing crystal beauty of waterfalls that gave no noise; and always the bright pearlescent light of the pyreflies, floating around her, just out of reach like half-forgotten dreams, fluttering through her hair and over her eyelids, as though excited by the presence of living blood and energy. She was used to them by now--she'd seen enough of death for them to be familiar--but she couldn't shake the feeling that they were sentient.
She hadn't wanted to come back here. She'd told herself two years ago that she wouldn't go looking for him, that she wouldn't wait. She worried that if she entered the Farplane once, if he truly was there, that she would never leave. But in the end, she supposed she had been waiting for him after all. Everything she did, every time she walked the same roads she'd once walked with him and her other guardians, laughing and trying to forget what lie ahead, she felt a raw pain in her heart.
She took her gaze from the landscape and realized that she'd fallen behind Rikku and Paine as they walked. It was Rikku's first time in the Farplane and she was hugging her arms to her chest, her Al Bhed clothing no protection against the cold of death, making no attempt to hide her fear. She had never been a good liar anyway. Paine kept her gaze straight ahead, and Yuna could see no sign of her discomfort but Paine's gloved hands clenched into a fist. Yuna wondered what demons the silver-haired woman might be remembering. They seemed lost in their own reflections, and didn't notice her scrutiny.
Then Yuna heard the whispers. At first she thought she might be imagining them, so preoccupied with her thoughts, because Rikku and Paine were both silent. She listened. She heard only an unintelligible scramble of voices, neither male nor female or maybe both at once. A pyrefly flew glittering past her ear, and she thought she heard--
"Yuna." She drew her breath in sharply, but realized it was Paine who had spoken. She and Rikku were looking at Yuna with concern.
"Yunie? What's wrong?" For a moment, Rikku forgot her fears to worry about her cousin. Yuna could have smiled, but she was shivering. Another pyrefly whispered as it swept past.
"Nothing," she said with a smile, trying her best to sound unconcerned. "You guys go on ahead. There's something I want to do." If possible, Rikku looked even more worried, and Paine was staring at her with a skeptical frown. But they didn't ask questions.
"Let's go, Rikku," Paine said finally. "Leblanc is waiting. And so is Vegnagun." She turned and continued down the path without another word.
Rikku bit her lip. "You'll catch up, right? Don't be too long!" Yuna nodded, and Rikku ran after Paine.
Yuna looked around her, feeling a prickly sensation on the back of her neck. She resisted the urge to rub her arms to warm them. The pyreflies continued their multi-colored dance around her. She had the strange sensation of breath against her cheek. She shivered. Someone laughed behind her. The sound was terribly familiar. She felt a horrible knotted sensation in the pit of her stomach.
She turned around, stumbling, drawing her gun before she could even think about it. She sighted down the barrel, her eyes widening as she saw his face.
"Seymour." After all he had done, she had never wanted to see him again. Rational thoughts were fleeing like frightened mice from a cat. He should not be here.
"I'm so glad to see you well," he said, and his voice was just like she remembered: smooth and dangerous. "You can put that away, you know." He gestured at the gun. "I'm already dead." She realized that her hands were shaking too much to aim anyway. She holstered it, glad of the excuse to look away. Her palms were sweating. Her mouth felt dry.
"Why are you here?" she asked as she found she could speak again. "What do you want?"
He smiled (as she looked at his lips she remembered how he had kissed her, burning and icy at once, and she was scared because she could not remember how Tidus had kissed her at all) but did not answer. Instead, his gaze moved from her face and slowly down her body. She was suddenly aware of her revealing clothing and felt the blush creep across her cheeks and tried not to cross her arms over her chest. Some things she did not want him to see.
"You've changed," he said, his tone amused but with a touch of something unknowable. His eyes were narrowed slightly, and she wondered, like many times before, what he was thinking.
She raised her chin in defiance, although she was still looking up at him because of his height. "You haven't."
He really laughed this time, his head tilted back. The sound reminded her of a lupine fiend's bark. He looked down at her, almost condescending. "Perhaps more than I thought," he conceded. His face was unreadable, but there was a dark shade in his blue eyes that she thought she had seen once before. "But I can see your fear. Some things never do change, do they, Yuna?" The humor had gone from his face. He stared at her now with an intensity that made a chill run down her arms.
She frowned at his use of her name without a title. As though they were friends, or--
"There's no need for you to be afraid," he said, thankfully breaking off her embarrassing chain of thoughts. "I can't hurt you, like this." He walked toward her with a cat's grace. His heavy robes made no noise as they trailed on the ground. He stopped close to her, too close, (was that her heart thumping so wildly?), and every nerve in her body was willing her to move, get away, but she held her ground. She would not let him see her weakness. But she could still not look him in the eyes, this close. She was staring at his chest. The inky lines of twin dragons were tattooed on his pale skin, the symbol of power and life, disappearing beneath folds of blue fabric. They were close enough to touch. She blushed and looked up into his face. The last time he'd been this close, she had been prepared to marry a dead man to save the world.
"I can't even touch you," he said quietly, and there was another strange unreadable shade in his voice. He raised a hand and touched the long, tapered fingers to her cheek. She squinted her eyes, expecting to feel them on her skin, her stomach in a painful knot, but his hand passed through her like a winter breeze, and she felt only an icy chill. She shivered.
She met his eyes again and was surprised to see the pain there. For the first time that she'd know him, he had let down his mental barriers and for her to see something of his true thoughts. She steeled herself against pity; he could be trying to manipulate her, but with something other than words. But maybe it was not the first time.
With an acute clarity she suddenly remembered where she had seen that look before. She had ordered Shiva to cast her glittering ice upon him, and as he lay dying with frost still clinging to his eyelids, his mother having forsaken him, she had felt sorrow at what she had done and knelt by his side, uncertain and hesitant, still not willing to believe that she had killed a maester.
He had looked at her through half-lidded eyes, a faint ironic smile on his lips. And he'd said, "You would pity me now?" He was graceful, even in death, sprawled on the temple floor like a savior crucified.
"I know why you're here, Yuna," said Seymour, eyes half-lidded as he leaned over her, bringing her back to the present. "I know what evil lurks here, the enemy from the past. That's not the only reason; that's not why you were looking around so carefully." Yuna inhaled a little too sharply, watched the features of his face betray his emotions. She wasn't comfortable around this new Seymour. She had spent the last two years remembering him as a monster, and her nightmares would not let her forget. She did not want to start thinking of him as a man.
He smiled slightly, bitterly. "You've come for him." His voice was deep with unrepressed derision. Yuna had no doubt whom he was referring to. She was not surprised that Seymour hated him. Tidus was everything that Seymour was not.
"That's not true!" She had to crane her neck back to meet his gaze. It was too much--she looked away as she said, "I've moved on." She knew that every word was a lie, was why she had left her home to find the spheres, hoping in the deepest part of her heart that she would find him again. And she knew that Seymour could probably see the truth all over her face.
"Did you love him?" The question was so unexpected that she had to look at him again. He stared at her, and his expression was unreadable, his gaze more intense than she had ever seen them. She could feel the blush spread across her cheeks. She wrung her hands nervously.
"Yes," she said, and she met his eyes this time, challenging him, fearing what he might say. Fearing that she would actually care what he thought.
She didn't know how much time passed as they stood there, still as Fayth statues, neither moving or speaking. She felt as though her heart was going to jump out of her chest, and her legs were shaking. She looked at his hands, hanging limp at his sides. After what felt like an hour his hand raised and swept his hair back, and he looked away from her. It was the first vulnerable gesture she'd seen from him, and she really wasn't quite sure what to think. She wondered what her answer had meant to him.
"Like I thought," he murmered, dropping his hand. Suddenly Yuna realized that she had never learned his age. At that moment, he looked incredibly young.
He sighed, and still not meeting her eyes, he said, "Actually, I'm not here to torture you with a mental interrogation. I was ordered to speak with you."
"Ordered?" The abrupt change in subject had her bewildered.
He smirked. "By your dear friend, Sir Auron. He was quite a lot of influence here." He didn't seem happy with the thought. "However, I must admit I had my own reasons for wanting to see you." Seymour looked at her again, his smile a different sort than before.
"I've had a lot of time to think," he said. He gestured at their surroundings. "In a quiet place like this, I have all the time in the world." He laughed, pleased with his joke. His face transformed quickly into an expression of complete seriousness. "I came upon a startling realization," he said quietly, "and have had to reassess all of my actions from two years ago. This insight began to burn away at my consciousness, until I could think of nothing but what it meant. I do not believe that Sir Auron knew when he sent me to you. But now is likely the only opportunity I will ever have."
He breathed in, and closed his eyes for a moment, as though steadying himself. Yuna looked at him curiously, but with a strange feeling growing in the back of her mind.
Seymour opened his eyes and stared at her for a very long moment. Finally, he spoke. "When my mother died, I realized that I had never truly cared about her. I clung to her as a child must, for she was to be my salvation." He took a step forward. "I thought, until I died, that I had never loved anyone, that I was a monster who could do nothing but hate. But now I know I was wrong."
Yuna tried to swallow but her mouth was dry. She listened.
"Yuna, I loved you, as much as it was possible for me." He visibly sagged, as though something heavy and burdensome had been taken from his back. His eyes were blue, like the sky, like Tidus's, and Yuna really wished he wouldn't stare. Her thoughts were scattered. She was shaking. She thought she might faint. She couldn't find the words to speak, didn't know what she would say if she could.
"You have no reason to believe me, of course," he replied, his voice strangely gentle. "But I promise you that I tell nothing but the truth. I know I have hurt you many times, have used you selfishly and without care, and this will only cause you more pain."
Yuna finally found herself able to move. She hurriedly, frantically, moved away from them, her hands in fists beside her. Her eyes were wide. She had never expected this, never wanted this.
"Why?" she asked shrilly, unable to think of anything except his words repeating in her mind. "Why are you telling me this? I don't want to know! I don't want to remember you this way!" She felt angry tears welling up in her eyes. She had never let him see her cry, never wanted him to see her weakness. "I want to hate you!" She wished he wouldn't stare, wished he wouldn't have such a painfully honest look in his eyes. And the worst thing, she thought, was that Tidus had never had the chance to tell her.
"I didn't want you to keep remembering me that way. I wanted to make up for all the things I've done to you." He looked tired. He walked toward her. She couldn't find the energy to move. She stared at the ground, shaking, tears falling off the end of her nose. He reached out to her, but his arm stopped before her as he remembered he couldn't touch her.
"I wanted closure," he whispered, dropping to one knee before her. "Allow me to be selfish one more time."
Gradually her breathing slowed, and she looked into his eyes. The sincerity she saw there scared him.
"How?" she asked quietly, wiping the moisture from her eyes.
"I had convinced myself," he began, "that you were nothing but my pawn, to use for my own ends. I would earn your trust, and as my bride we would have the necessary bond for you to be my summoner, and I your sacrifice. When we were in Macalania Temple , I realized I was fond of you. I thought of you as a little pet, of course, a bird trapped in her cage. I developed something of an obsession. Then I suddenly had you alone in Bevelle, all to myself. That kiss--it wasn't completely an act. It didn't mean nothing, to me. You were mine, at last, and I admit that my feelings were not virtuous."
Yuna remembered all too well. Her lips tingled, as though they still felt it. Waves of cold and warmth spread through her body. When she had kissed Tidus, it had felt different, sweet instead of passionate, soothing instead of hot.
"I--" Yuna started before she even realized she was speaking, then shut her eyes grimly and admitted, "I didn't feel nothing either. And that's why I was so angry, that day." Seymour looked more surprised at her words than if she had flung herself on him and declared undying affection.
He smiled coyly. "I knew you felt some attraction for me, at first. I will admit I used it to my advantage." His gaze seemed far-away, as though remembering. "It was only as I watched you send me that I truly saw you for the first time. Your inner strength, the determination that lit a fire in your eyes. You have beautiful eyes. Your firm belief in protecting your people, in wanting to single-handedly save the world. I admit I was sickened by your naivete and complete sweetness, but gradually I began to enjoy those qualities." He stood, now that he had finished.
Sometime while he was speaking, Yuna's mouth had fallen open and her eyes were wide. She swallowed. She thought of the moment she had first seen him, his eyes seeking her out in the crowd, their color so pretty she could only stare. She'd had dreams about those eyes, that night. She thought she might be having more dreams now.
"Well, then," Seymour said, as though resolved of the issue. "I now have to explain the reason your former guardian sent me. I have a message from him."
"'Yuna, live.' Those are his words."
"That's it?" she asked. The message sounded just like something Auron would say, as undecipherable as always. "What does it mean?"
"I believe," Seymour replied, "he is telling you something you already know the answer to. However--"
He paused for a moment. "I have very little time left in this form, and then I must go back. I will give you some advice. I hated Spira because it took away the people I cared about, and I hated life because mine was taken away from me when my mother gave birth to me, a half-breed hateful to humans and Guado. Yuna, I chose to be what I am. But you don't have to. You can be free, happy. It's your choice."
Seymour smiled, and it was as true and beautiful as an autumn sunrise. Yuna found herself smiling too. She walked up to him, held her hands before her awkwardly. She had never expected to feel grateful toward him.
His body seemed less solid, and pyreflies slowly drifted in the air around him. He gave her one last, long look, as though hoping to preserve her in his mind. "Until we meet again," he said, and faded into a haze of light. She looked around her as the pyreflies danced in the air.
"Thank you, Seymour."
She found Rikku and Paine waiting for her.
"Yunie!" her cousin cried, running up to her and enveloping her in a hug. "Where have you been? I wanted to go look for you, but Paine said no--"
"We don't have much time, Yuna," Paine said, her gaze sharp and her face curious.
"Let's go," Yuna said. "We shouldn't keep Shuyin waiting."
Note: Auron's message is actually in Yuna's official game art. The words are on the wall to her right. The link is here: http colon slash slash www dot rpgamer dot com slash games slash ff slash ffx-2 slash art slash ffx-2034 dot jpg
Replace the words with the appropriate symbols and you'll have the link.