We'll Run Until She's Out Of Breath
She Ran Until There's Nothin' Left
She Hit The End-It's Just Her Window Ledge
One headlight- The Wallflowers
"I want another year like the last, full of memories we can make together." my cousin's champagne flute rises, she presses her lips to Gippal's cheek. Rikku's gaze drifts around the room, appreciating her guests, her husband pulls her close to his side.
"A toast to reunions." I smile, tilting my glass to Gippal's contribution, "To our friends who so graciously made it out to celebrate with us for the new year."
We drink. I scrutinize the people I once knew. Despite everything he's gone through Tidus hasn't changed. And maybe I haven't either, since I can't help but watch him carefully in my peripheral vision, the way he laughs with every fiber, his exaggerated way of telling his stories. I know I'm being unreasonable, inflexible at my post against the wall. Familiar faces take turns approaching me, their questions are unorigional.
Two years and an ocean separated us. The space numbed me; I thought I was getting better, moving on. I thought I'd be prepared for this. I dropped ten stories at first glance- to think what might happen if he looked back.
While helping me sort through my luggage, Rikku said that she noticed I've the difference; I was the one somehow new. She wasn't sure she liked it. I took this as a compliment because she said it with a smile. She hoped this weekend would patch things up—insisting Zanarkand wasn't the same without me. I doubt that in our years growing up and attending school together that I'd ever made much of an impression, sticking strictly to the sidelines, accustomed, but never quite comfortable.
I used to feel at ease with Tidus. He had a way with me. We grew up door to door on the same street. For so many years he was my best friend. High School brought sports, girls and other interests.
But mostly adrianna. She was his first love and when she married only moths after their breakup- he was crushed. Now Tidus seems sufficiently satisfied with a new toy. Her name is Dona Arturo: a journalist, a new pair of vacant eyes- I notice her studying me with dissatisfaction. I was told he met her at one of his games, he agreed to an interview on the condition that it be over dinner. Always in a rush to commit, Tidus keeps to her side. Even the reclusive Paine has managed to find a counterpart in Baralai. And with Lenne and Shuyin growing closer to their wedding everyday, there's no refuge for the uncoupled.
"Yuna?" A thick accent collides into my train of thought, and I shift my weight, turning to address Tidus' date.
"You must be Dona?" I turn all my attention to her with the intention of maintaining eye contact. Her gaze isn't light. She has intentions. She has something to ask me.
"Correct." She smiles, extending her hand. "I figured I'd introduce myself, since you're the only friend of Tidus' that I haven't met."
I receive her shake and try to keep myself steady as I smile back, "I've spent the last few years studying in Bevelle. I've missed out on a few things."
She smiles slowly, "Well, there is time enough to catch up."
"Hmm." She pauses placing her hand in front of her, motioning around the room, "And how do you… how do you know the host?"
"Rikku's my cousin. I went to high school with most of the people here." I answer, "And you know Tidus from blitzball, right?"
"Initially yes, are you close?"
"Actually, we were neighbors growing up. We used to be." I reply, glancing down into my glass, brainstorming an out from the conversation. Use to be. One of my only regrets is that I wasn't here when Adrianna left; I had to hear it over the phone from Rikku. If I had known I might have stayed. Although Adrianna and I had never gotten along, it hurt to know Tidus was going through the toughest heartache of his life and that I could offer no help. Realistically I don't think I had anything left.
I had thought about writing or calling- but what condolence could I offer? Even if I felt he abandoned me, I hadn't behaved any better. It would have been unfair to offer a temporary friendship.
"It seems like a long time ago." A tentative voice from behind us cuts in. Tidus approaches his girlfriend bringing his hand to rest on the small of her waist. "Shuyin and I grew up right next to Yuna."
"She mentioned that." Dona replies, without a trace of embarrassment. "You've known each other for a long time; You must have a lot of shared memories."
"Some." Tidus softens, looking at me for the first time; his gaze is heavy. "Would either of you like another drink?"
"I'll be leaving soon." I answer too quickly, although really, I don't want to. I don't want to go anywhere; most of all I really just want to forgive him.
"Are you staying here tonight?"
"I'm staying for awhile- but it's been a long day with the flight and the party… I'm probably just a little jet lagged but I- I should get going."
"Okay," he pauses, peeling his gaze away from mine, "How about you, Babe?"
"I could use something to wet my lips."
"Gotcha" Tidus winks, knowingly squeezing her shoulder and then glancing back at me. "Hopefully I'll see you around, Yuna."
Tidus heads upstairs to the mini-bar. His Levi's are sized perfectly, and his dark navy shirt, with a few buttons left open, advertises both the Zanarkand symbol on a white-gold chain he inherited from his grandfather, and his muscular chest beneath a black undershirt. His sleeves are rolled, exposing the tan skin of his forearms.
I try to make my goodnights quick, missing out only on Lulu and her husband, Wakka who decided not to attend. Vidina will turn two next month; I've heard he has the flamboyant red hair of his father and the temperament of his mother. I hope I have a chance to see them before I head back to Luca.
Rikku placed me in the west wing of her husband's home. Gippal had bought the estate with an inheritance left by his great uncle. The room is of average size, painted burnt rose with dark mahogany furniture. The bed is queen sized, and the sheets white and gold. A picture window sits along the sidewall, where long, sheen drapes blur the outside scenery. I strain my eyes watching beyond them at snowflakes iridescent in the dark.
The door to my room opens a crack, and I hear a voice, thick and disgruntled, call my name, "You in there?"
"Where else would I be…?" I turn to face Tidus. He shuts the door behind him and moves towards the window. We stand in silence for a moment. He's too close; I don't know what to do with myself.
"Are you going back to Luca after the holiday?"
"I think so."
"But you're done with school, aren't you?"
"Yes but..." I pause, "I haven't made up my mind yet."
"You could stay." He states quietly, his voice shying away. I wonder if he's nervous. "You know, I—We'd like you to stay."
"What would I do with myself if I lived here?"
"You could live here with Rikku, I'm sure you'd easily find a job." He justifies. "Zanarkand is the most amazing city in Spira."
"I have friends back home."
"Luca isn't your…" he pauses to compose himself, then turns to face me, "Look; I just want you to know we all missed you, alright? And I understand why you're mad at me." He leans against the window, running his fingers down the lace curtains. "I can't fix that."
"I never asked you to." I move away from him. I couldn't think standing there.
"I thought about visiting… showing up and like, surprising you…" He smiles, rubbing the back of his neck, "but I didn't know how you might react, and I haven't had a lot of time off."
"It might have shown me you cared." I reply.
"You know I care." He says quietly, "You matter a lot to me."
"It seems like a very long time ago" I say slowly, "almost like a dream."
He rubs his eyes, something I remember he does when frustrated. "Why?"
I pause to weigh my words, "I don't know you anymore."
"That's probably my fault." He reluctantly admits, "I was wrapped up in scholarships and girls. I was a prick... you know."
"And what are you now?"
"I'd like to think I've grown up a little." Tidus moves away from me and situates himself at the edge of my bed, "I've learnt a little about friendships and the people important to me. About losing, about trust."
"And now, do you trust Dona?" I ask, immediately wishing I hadn't. It was none of my business but instead of a flash of anger, Tidus' eyes remain clear, cerulean. He chuckles.
"She's a lot of fun but I don't think we're anything serious."
"Because she's sexy? It might sound shallow, but I don't need to fall in love. I'd like to have married Adriana, I loved her... but that's over. It was so unrealistic to think I'd wind up with my highschool sweetheart. I know that now but I'm not in any kind of rush to replace her."
I understand what he's saying, but I think the point is that it still hurts—and he's not ready to move on. I know he loved her but I wish he hadn't.
"It's late…" I bite down my bottom lip, "You should go."
He looks down, brushing his palms on the denim of his jeans, "Yuna…"
I shake my head, walking to hold the door open for him. "I'll see you, later."
He gets up, walking intently towards me. "I want you to stay." His hug isn't hesitant or careful. I can smell the musk of his cologne on his neck. Unable to resist closing my eyes I let myself imagine that he's not going to let go. He gives me a tight squeeze before excusing himself.
It's hard to fall asleep. I can feel it happen again. Desperation and that same wistful pang. Coming home might have been a backwards idea.