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
"To love in the year to come, cherishing the memories we've made and have yet to experience." my cousin's champagne flute rises. Rikku's gaze drifts around the room, appreciating each of her guests, her husband, Gippal, 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 tonight."
We drink. I scrutinize the environment, the people I once knew well. Despite everything he's gone through Tidus hasn't changed. I watch him carefully in my peripheral vision, the way he laughs with every fiber of his body, how he exaggerates when he tells his stories. I know I'm being unreasonable, inflexible at my post against the wall. Familiar faces take turns approaching me, their questions are all the same.
Two years and an ocean had 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 changed; I was the one somehow different. 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.
However, with Tidus I was once at ease, he had a way with me. We grew up together playing on the same street. For so many years he was my refuge, my best friend. But school… school brought sports, girls and other interests.
Despite the heartache left by the hands of his first love, Adrianna, 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 cruel dissatisfaction. I heard 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 his place at her side.
Love: it seems to be a spreading disease around here. Even the reclusive Paine has managed to find her counterpart in Baralai. And with Lenne and Shuyin growing closer to their wedding every day, there is no refuge for the single, hopeless me.
"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, it isn't innocent. She wants something from 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 abroad studying. It seems I've missed out on a few things."
She smiles slowly, "Well, there is time enough to catch up."
"I guess it just depends on the situation, really."
"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 her guests." I answer, "And you know Tidus from blitzball, right?"
"Initially yes, are you and Tidus… 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… as in until Adrianna. One of my only regrets is that I wasn't here when 'they' ended; 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.
I had thought about writing or calling- but what condolence could I offer? Even if I felt he abandoned me, I hadn't behaved much better. It would have been unfair to offer 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 leave. I don't want to go anywhere; most of all I really just want to forgive him. I don't think he ever understood why I left, and maybe I didn't either.
"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. Dona stares, knowing exactly how lucky she is.
I try to make my goodnights quick, missing out only on Lulu and her husband, Wakka. They decided not to attend, which is reasonable with their baby-sized commitment to feed, change, water, and spoil at home. 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 behind by his great uncle. The room is of average size, painted burnt rose with matching 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 beaming 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… 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."
"Knowing you seems like a very long time ago" I say slowly, "almost like a dream."
He rubs his eyes, something I remember him doing often when frustrated. "Why?"
"I..." 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, but I was only a boy, right?"
"And what are you now?"
"I'd like to think I've grown up a little through the years." 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 loosing, about trusting."
"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.
"No… she's a good girl. But I don't think we're working on anything serious."
"Then why indulge?"
"Because she's sexy, fun and female? It might sound a little shallow, but… I don't need to fall in love. I'd like to have married Adrianna, I loved her... but that's over. I'm not in any kind of rush to replace her, you know?"
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. If it had been me, I never would have hurt him. I know you can't always choose who your heart sets its sight on, and I know that it must hurt to loose that; it hurts to have never had that.
"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 again, the desperation, that same, wistful pang. It seems that coming home might have been a backwards idea.