Final Fantasy X-2

Unchained

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters are not mine and this ficlit is. It was partially inspired by Whisper at the LJ community Pyre Flies. And for those who haven't finished the game, there are pretty major spoilers concerning what happened to Nooj, Paine, Baralai, and Gippal in the Den of Woe and outside it. I hope I've written both Nooj and Shuyin alright; this is my first time for both of them. Thanks to Kaze for plot help and the idea of how Nooj may have managed to partially take control of the problem! As far as I know, this is an angle not explored in canon, but left ambiguous. Do correct me if I'm wrong! The time period in the second half of the fic is towards the beginning of the game, before Nooj met up with Paine or any of the others again.


"Kill them."

The voice echoed through his mind, an almost imperceivable whisper. But despite that, it was as loud as a yell. Its words chilled every part of his still-natural body.

"Who are you? What are you talking about?"

"Does it matter who I am?"

"When you've invaded my body and have decided to speak nonsense to me? Yes, I'd say it matters."

A cruel laugh answered him.

It was the voice of a presence that had been with him since they had all been in the Den of Woe. It had caused them to raise their guns against each other. Only Paine had been able to break the spell then. But for him, the presence had lingered. Its voice had only grown stronger once they had left--but that was not right. It should have stayed behind in the cave.

"They're my friends. I'll never follow through with your orders."

"You know what will happen if so many of you are found alive. Kill them!"

"No!"

"Then I will do it for you."

Against his will, his hand grabbed his gun. His index finger hooked around the trigger as he pulled the weapon out of his holster. He was moving on his own, turning back to face the others as they were going their separate ways. He regarded his friends without pity. The gun fired once, twice. The men fell to the ground without so much as a scream.

"Baralai! Gippal! . . . Why are you doing this? What are you doing to me?"

A horrified gasp met his ears as she called his name. He turned, facing the young sphere recorder. She had seen it all. And it had been captured on the sphere.

"I said your work's done!" his voice cried, echoing words that he had said moments before as himself. Whereas then the tones had been kind, now they were maniacal. He advanced on her, raising the hand holding the gun.

"You can't shoot her too! Stop!"

"You can't do anything about it."

Again the trigger pulled. She cried out, collapsing to the ground. He stood over her, merciless, watching as she gasped for breath. Crimson oozed from the wound, trailing over her skin and her torn clothes to the ground.

Trapped in his mind, he stared in sick horror. He could do nothing for her.

"Paine!"

The voice was delighted.

"You did this. I controlled you, but it was still your body that fired the gun. If they live, that's what they'll believe. They'll never know about me. You won't tell them, will you? After all, it was only because of your intense longing to die that I was able to possess you."

"That isn't true!"

"It is. Otherwise your will would have been too strong."

He stared out through eyes that were supposed to be his. She was staring back, her eyes glazing over as a shaking hand covered the hole in her flesh. Blood seeped through her fingers.

"Captain . . ." Her voice was choked from physical anguish, but moreso from confusion, disbelief, and a broken heart.

"She's still awake. Should we leave her like this, or should we ensure that we put her out of her misery?"

The fury rose in his heart.

"Don't touch her!"

"You couldn't stop any of this. How could you interfere with me making further use of your body?"

"I'll find a way. You won't hurt her any more!"

"Well . . . maybe I'll grant you that one request. I'm feeling generous today; after all, you've been such a good host."

He turned, replacing the gun in the holster. Cruelly and coldly, he left the scene. Paine's labored breathing was still echoing in his ears.


His eyes flew open in the dark. He was breathing heavily, his face damp with perspiration. All around him was silence, save for the insects chirping outside his tent. A gentle night breeze found its way between the flaps, moving over his face and chest as it traveled through the small space.

He sat up on the cot, reaching for his glasses on the nightstand. "That dream again," he muttered aloud, but he was speaking to himself. Throwing back the covers, he swung his legs over the side of the thin mattress and placed his feet on the grass. Then he groped for his cane, which was leaning against the nightstand. Taking hold of it, he began to ease himself upright. His artificial arm and leg creaked in protest. He had been laying asleep long enough that they had gotten used to that position. But he ignored the complaints, limping forward until he reached the doorway. Parting the flaps, he peered out into the night.

All of the other tents stood in darkness and silence. If any members of the Youth League were still awake, they were being quiet about it. The crickets continued their song, entirely unabashed by human interruptions. It was a calm night. But why was it, then, that he felt so ill at ease? Was it due to the recurring dream?

It had been more than two years since whatever it was had taken control of him and forced him to shoot his friends. They had not spoken since, though he had observed them from a distance until he had known they were all going to live.

Of course, their friendships had been broken. He did not know what Gippal or Paine thought about the events of that day, but Baralai was very bitter. And who could blame him? Someone he had trusted implicitly had quite literally shot him in the back. Underneath his bitter feelings was untold hurt and pain.

The strange presence had been right about one thing; Nooj had never told them the full story of what had happened. He had not been able to bring himself to do that; after all, that could make it sound as though he was trying to pass all of the blame onto the apparition and use it as an excuse. And he held himself at fault far more.

It had been his own despair that had resulted in his possession. He did not doubt it. If he had been more vigilant, it would not have happened. Or at least, perhaps he could have driven the presence out before anyone had gotten hurt. Whatever it was had not been able to control him altogether, for if it had, his spirit would have fallen unconscious and been completely oblivious to what had happened. Unless it had wanted him to be awake to drive him further into woe and grief. Maybe it had wanted to break down his heart by making him watch.

His anguish had increased a hundredfold after the shooting. He had wanted to perish more than ever knowing what he had done--and if that was not repulsive enough, he had not even been able to turn his body around to go help them when they had been bleeding to death. He had tried to turn the gun on himself after walking away from Paine. The presence had not let him. And so he had decided--there was only one solution. He would live, and he would make the most of it. With that in mind, he had begun again to battle the spectre. It had taken far too long, but at last he had banished it from his mind and body. It would no longer bother him.

Yet there were still times when it felt as though he was not alone. An odd whisper would float on the air. Eyes would follow him in the night. Occasionally it even felt like icy breath was hitting his face. Once he had even thought that for a split-second he had seen another's reflection superimposed over his own in the mirror. But he had been tired then, and he had not been wearing his glasses, either. The other incidents could be similarly explained away. It was the wind. It was his imagination. It was the product of a still-recovering mind. He had never experienced anything like being possessed before or since, and for one who had always tried to rely on cold, hard logic it had been an immense shock.

"Are you still out there?" he asked aloud.

Only the crickets answered.

"You can't control me any longer. I'm not the same man I was two years ago."

The wind toyed with his dark brown hair. If he listened hard enough, it sounded as though there were still snatches of a voice.

Simple fool. . . . Influenced. . . . Your will . . . strong. . . . It's time . . . a new host. . . .

He narrowed his eyes. His imagination or the phantom? Either way, there would be no answers for him outside. Turning, he hobbled back into the tent. The flaps fell shut behind him.