Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or any of its characters. It belongs to Square. I do own this piece of fiction, though, so please do not copy it without permission. Rated M for later chapters and strong language, violence, and sexual content. In this story, the Besaid Aurochs play for the Abes. Why not? We don't really know any of Tidus' teammates, anyway. (The Abes consist of Tidus, Jassu, Wakka, Datto, Baralai, Letty, Keepa, and Botta) Yes, Baralai from X-2. Possibly appearances from other X-2 characters as well. Some people's eye colors are unknown, so I made them up. No Al Bhed language. Sorry. I'm too lazy to try to decipher it, and it distracts a little from the story.
Ch. 1: Introductions
One week before schools begins.
Yuna stretched as she positioned herself more comfortably on her stool. It was early, a little after seven, but she wanted to capture the sunrise perfectly. She held her paintbrush between her thumb and index finger and frowned. I just can't get this damn color right, she thought absently. She took another glance at the sky. She'd been working on this particular watercolor for a very long time. She feared she'd never get it finished. She heard a thump in the hallway and knew that her father, Braska, had risen as well. She put her brush down and regretfully left her painting once more. She walked across the polished hardwood floor to her white bedroom door. She grabbed the handle and pulled it open, taking a quick glance out to see if Braska was slumped on the floor as she suspected. He was, still dressed in his blue and white striped pajamas, the pants at least two inches too short. It had been a birthday gift from Yuna, and she'd guessed his size. She told him he could exchange it for a set that fit properly, but he told her he would do no such thing.
"Father," she called, gently shaking his shoulder.
Of course, she knew she was wasting her time. Braska never just "came around" after one of his nights out. She stood up and padded along the cold floor to the kitchen. She walked over to the coffee maker and turned it on. She sighed and wished her father would finally come to terms with what she already knew: he was an alcoholic. She leaned on the tiled blue counter and rubbed her temples. She certainly wasn't upset with the fact that he drank. Even she had a few every once in a while. But, she hadn't let it completely take over her life as he had. She took a glimpse of her reflection in the oval mirror that sat above the microwave. She wasn't surprised that she was pale, had several bags under her multi-colored eyes that concealer would have to hide, and her small pink lips were dry. She smirked. If the guys in school saw her now, they certainly wouldn't be impressed. She stood five feet three inches tall, with a slender frame that suited her height perfectly. Her shiny dark brown hair was pulled up into a ponytail this morning, the way she'd put it before bed last night. She was still dressed in her sleeping clothes: a white shirt with spaghetti straps, and baggy purple pajama bottoms. She smirked again. The guys at school thought she wore lingerie to bed. They would.
The silver coffee maker buzzed, alerting Yuna that it was ready. She grabbed her father's favorite mug, and filled it, spilling a little on the counter. She carried the mug carefully away from the counter, using her back and butt to open the swinging kitchen door, and went back down the hall where Braska still lay slumped. She hadn't reached him yet, but his head lifted, and his eyes opened. She smiled. For whatever reason, the coffee always entered his nostrils and told him it was time to get up.
"Here you go, Father," she said, swatting to hand him the mug.
Braska managed a tiny smile on his handsome, stubble clad face. His dark blue eyes looked up at his daughter. He didn't know how he'd make it without her. His wife had been killed a year ago, and it had left him a shell of his former self, but Yuna had been his strength, his motivation for going on. She would graduate this year, making him even more proud of her. She was the most innocent, sweetest girl he could think of. Too bad he couldn't go a night without drinking. He needed it. It helped him get a good night's sleep, at least. He took a sip of the coffee, the flavor coming alive on his tongue. He spat it back in the mug.
"It's black, Yuna. Why?"
She grinned at him. "So it'll wake you up."
He smiled ruefully, as she helped him get up slowly from his position on the floor.
Wakka's fist slammed down on his alarm clock for the third time. Shit. Why did he have to get up so early on a Saturday? Because you play for the best damn blitz ball team in Spira, ya! He rose out of bed with that thought impounded on his brain. He could hear his uncle, Auron, humming, as he cooked breakfast down in the kitchen. Wakka headed out of his room and down the hall to the shower. He liked Auron. He was old as hell, but he knew a lot of things about life. When Wakka's parents had been killed in a boating accident six years ago, Auron volunteered to let Wakka come to Zanarkand to live with him. Wakka missed Besaid Island, where he was born and had grown up. He sang one of his favorite songs as the shower's spray hit his body. He hoped practice wouldn't take all damn day today. He wanted to make sure he was home with enough time so he could take a nap. Tonight, he would frequent all of his favorite clubs, especially the ones that were particularly nice to the Abes.
He turned the shower off, and grabbed a green towel from the nearby bar.
"Wakka, you better not dare use those green towels! Use the white ones in the cabinet," he heard a threat at the door.
Oops. He put the towel back as he'd found it, and stepped out. Auron hated for anything to be out of place. Wakka grabbed a white towel and wrapped it securely around his waist. He couldn't help but flex his muscles in the mirror. He stood six feet two inches tall, the tip of his reddish-orange coif touching the ceiling.
"Come on. The eggs are getting cold. You can kiss your reflection, and make love to yourself later," Auron said, as he finally moved from the closed door.
Wakka frowned. He certainly didn't need to make love to himself. His cell phone held over a hundred different girls' numbers he could choose from. He left the bathroom and walked down the thick carpeted hall back to his bedroom. He got dressed quickly, and headed downstairs for breakfast. The first time he laid eyes on Auron's home, he thought that a woman lived here. It was too neat and organized. Auron was already sitting at the table, taking a bite out of a sausage link. Wakka sat down and picked up his fork.
"Praise be to Yevon," he muttered, and began to eat.
Auron paused in mid chew, and looked at him over the rim of his dark sunglasses. He was dressed in his favorite red velvet robe and slippers. His salt and pepper hair was still a little damp from his morning shower. At forty, he considered himself in great physical condition.
"What?" Wakka asked, slightly agitated. Auron always stared at him when he said that. Of course, no answer, just the continual slow chewing.
Five minutes later, Wakka put his plate in the sink.
"I want you at the restaurant when you get done with practice," Auron said.
"What? Why? I thought we agreed on every other Saturday, ya?"
"That's the deal when school starts," Auron corrected.
"Okay. How long?"
"About five hours. Be there by two."
"Ya," Wakka said miserably. There goes my nap. How am I supposed to be the life of the party with no sleep, ya?
"Hey, Wakka, what'cha doin' tonight?" Datto asked, as he pulled his clean short sleeved blue shirt over his head.
Wakka grinned. "I'll be at the clubs, ya. What 'bout you?"
Datto shook his head. "Nope. I got a date, man," he said, removing his dark blue headband from his closely cropped hair.
Wakka looked intrigued. "With who?"
Letty, Botta, Keepa, Jassu, and Tidus gathered around the bench. A few other Abes paused to listen in as well.
"I'm going out with Phoenix," Datto said easily.
Wakka didn't believe him. Phoenix was no ordinary girl. She was very picky about whom she dated, and well, Datto wouldn't make the cut. Wakka had only gone out with her once himself. She was a pretty girl, with her bright orange hair and dark eyes. They all agreed she had a great body. Her personality was a little snobby, but those were minor details.
"Stop bullshitting, Datto. Phoenix wouldn't date you," said Letty, laughing. Letty, like most of the Abes, was in excellent physical form, though he was almost as muscular as Wakka.
"Why the hell not, man? I'm not lying," Datto said, his blue eyes looking at each of his teammates trying to find a face that would believe him. He failed.
"You are lying," Wakka said, putting on his socks.
"Look. She gave me her number," he insisted, pulling out his cell phone. He was greeted with more than half a dozen groans.
"She gives everybody her number," Jassu said pointedly. He ran a hand over his short white blond hair, and snickered.
"She's not that kind of girl!" defended Datto. The locker room got quiet.
"He's right. She's not that kind of girl, ya," agreed Wakka.
"What kind of girl is she then, Wakka?" Keepa asked, struggling to pull his jeans up over his wide hips. The Abes repeatedly warned Keepa he could be replaced if he didn't lose weight soon, but after five years, he was no longer concerned with the threats.
"Not that kind. Then, why the hell are you going out with her, anyway, ya?" Wakka asked, turning back to Datto.
"Cause she's not that kind of girl. I'm looking for a girlfriend," he admitted. More groans.
"You're looking for a death trap, ya. There isn't a virgin in that high school," Wakka said, pulling on his dark green work shirt. He personally hated the uniform, but Auron insisted he wear it. It had a yellow collar, with three buttons down the front, with the words The Tornado spelled out in red letters on the back. With this, he wore a pair of black pants.
"What? There are so virgins in that school. What about Lulu?" Botta asked. He and Keepa hi-fived on this theory. He pulled his dark salmon colored hair back into its customary short ponytail.
Wakka thought about Lulu for a moment. It was very likely that she was still a virgin.
"What about Yuna?" Tidus asked, tying his black sneakers. There were a few snorts of disbelief. He remembered Wakka pointing the brunette out to him.
Wakka laughed long and hard, and then he became serious. "He's probably right. Just those two, though."
"Yuna, though?" Jassu laughed, his black eyes dancing at Tidus, who had just slipped his green shirt over his head. He and Wakka worked at Auron's restaurant a few hours on Saturdays.
"Hey, Wakka, hurry up. We're going to be late," Tidus complained, grabbing his gym bag.
"I'll be right out. Give me five minutes, ya?" Wakka said. He watched Tidus stroll pass the lockers and sinks, and out the door.
"Hey, don't mention Yuna around him, ya? I haven't known him long enough yet to feel him out. Besides, he might like her or something," Wakka warned.
"He's not the only one," Keepa sighed dreamily.
"You don't really think she's still a virgin, though, do you, Wakka?" Baralai asked, as he climbed on the bench next to Wakka. There was a glimmer of interest in his chocolate brown eyes.
"Hell yeah, I do. She's the biggest tease in the school. I don't know one guy that's been with her, do you?" Wakka asked.
Baralai thought for a moment. He didn't. He didn't know one that had actual confirmation. He ran a hand through his white hair.
"Nope. I don't know anybody. So…what are we going to do about the virgin tease?" he asked, with a wicked grin.
"We make a bet to find out who can get her virginity, that's what," Botta said.
Wakka's eyes widened. He loved to gamble. But, he wasn't really sure he could win. Yuna wasn't really his type and his gil was on Baralai.
"I'm in," Keepa said, barely containing the drool that slipped from his mouth.
"How much will I get when I win?" smiled Baralai.
"What makes you so damn sure you're going to win? I'm in this, too," Jassu said.
Datto hesitated. He might go along just to be a part of the gang, but he knew for damn sure he had better chances with Phoenix.
"Datto? Letty?" asked Baralai.
Letty gave them a confident smile. "Count me in. Yuna will be moaning my name faster than you can flunk your first history exam, Baralai."
"Okay, me, too," Datto said, giving them a shaky smile.
"How much?" asked Keepa.
"100 gil each? Or is that too much for you gentlemen?" Baralai asked. They all agreed.
"That's five. Five fools. I'm in on Baralai," Wakka muttered.
"Wait. I know this guy that play for the Al Bhed Psyches that might want in. Blappa loves to gamble," Baralai said.
"Hell no. Yuna's cousin, Rikku, is dating Gippal. That's too close for comfort. It'll get to Yuna, ya," warned Wakka. "One more thing. Since I'm not in it, I'll be keeping the tabs…and don't tell Tidus."
Wakka was more than certain that Tidus would never get Yuna, but he didn't want him to know about this. It wasn't a good idea to have everybody in your business.
"When's the deadline? I want to make sure I'm ready to perform," stretched Keepa.
"No rush, guys. You have until the prom. Happy hunting," Baralai said, handing Wakka his 100 gil for safekeeping. Wakka collected the other guys' money, and stuffed it in his pocket. He told the guys goodbye, and then he jogged to the parking lot where he knew Tidus was waiting.
Tidus impatiently rapped his fingers against the steering wheel. Where the hell was Wakka? He knew Wakka didn't give a damn about being late for work, because his uncle owned the place, but he liked being punctual. Finally, he saw Wakka coming out of the building. He threw his gym bag in the backseat and then he plopped into the passenger's seat.
"What the hell took you so long?" greeted Tidus, as he started the ignition and backed out of his parking space.
Wakka shrugged. "Just giving Datto some last minute advice about his date. Speaking of dates, it's time you went out on a few, bruddah. You've been here all summer, and you haven't had one date. Lucky for you, I didn't tell the guys."
Tidus had moved to Zanarkand the previous summer. He and his father, Jecht, along with his stepmother, Zalora, had lived in Luca. He hadn't really wanted to move, but Jecht had been offered a better job here. He missed his old friends, and wasn't sure he could trust his new ones.
"I know this girl who's perfect for you. Puts out on the first date, too, ya," Wakka added, lighting a cigarette.
Tidus kept his eye on the busy Zanarkand downtown traffic. If she puts out on the first date, she doesn't expect you to ask for a second, he thought. He liked Wakka, he just didn't agree with his player's status. Well, he might have agreed with it a year ago. He'd lived a life pretty much like that. Drinking, smoking, girls. He was determined not to live that kind of life here. Besides, he already had a girlfriend back in Luca, and they had mutually agreed to give their long distance relationship a try.
"Want one?" Wakka asked, offering him the pack, even though he had told him several times that he didn't smoke anymore.
Tidus grabbed the pack, glanced at it, and then tossed it out the window.
"Hey, that cost 10 gil a pack, ya!" Wakka complained.
"Hardly worth the habit if you can't afford it then."
Tidus pulled in behind The Tornado, and parked. He climbed out after Wakka and they made their way to the alley doorway and entered the kitchen.
"You're late," greeted Auron, from the small office off the kitchen.
"Traffic, ya," Wakka said.
"No. You were sitting there wasting time talking to your teammates. We're busy. Get to work."
Tidus and Wakka got cleaned up and Wakka headed into the kitchen to serve as assistant cook to the chef. Tidus headed over to the servers' station. Today, he was working for a fellow waiter who couldn't make it.
"Hi, Tidus. I hear you're helping us out today," greeted Shelinda, the head waitress. Tidus nodded.
"Damn. His apron's going to be full fast. Look at our crowd," Dona said, grumbling.
Tidus glanced around the restaurant. For whatever reason this afternoon, there were a lot of teenage girls here. He felt his neck redden at Dona's suggestion.
"Tidus, table 12," Shelinda said, interrupting his thoughts. He nodded, and stuck a pen between his teeth, grabbing a tablet and hurrying off. He walked up to the table of three teenage girls. They all gave him approving smiles. He smiled back.
"Hi. What can I get for you?" he asked.
"They'd kick me out if I really told him," one girl said to her friends. They laughed.
Rikku slurped the last of her strawberry blast soda and sighed with contentment. She'd just polished off a basket of fries with her cousin, Yuna, and was enjoying her afternoon. She turned in her booth, causing the red plastic to squeal as she looked for their waitress, Dona, for a refill. Damn, she swore, as she saw Dona carrying a heavy looking tray laden with food.
"So, Rikku, are you and Gippal going out tonight?" Yuna asked, stirring her own dark drink, reaching to add a few drops of vanilla flavoring.
Rikku sighed, with the thought of Gippal on her mind. He was the best boyfriend a girl could ask for. They had been dating for three months now, which was a lifetime on her dating record.
"No. I thought maybe you and I could hang out," she told her.
Yuna shrugged, and sat her purse on the table. Rikku stared at it. She never carried a purse. That was like asking a thief to grab it and run off. She ran a finger through her honey blonde ponytail, and straightened her red halter top. She knew she looked sensational in her black miniskirt, and white knee length boots. Yuna was dressed similar, in a deep sky blue halter dress, with sand colored boots. The Zanarkand temperature was beginning its early threat of cold, and Auron didn't really like to turn off the restaurant's air conditioning.
"Okay. I don't have any other plans," Yuna agreed as her cell phone rang. She picked it up, speaking for a few moments.
Rikku glanced around for Dona. She spotted her and waved frantically, but Dona didn't see her. Tidus caught her eye and gave her a smile. He said something to Dona, and Dona threw a smile in her direction.
"Thanks," called Rikku, as Yuna ended her call. She gave Dona her refill order and turned to Yuna. "Who was that?"
Yuna frowned. "It was Datto."
Rikku frowned as well. "Datto? What the hell did he want?"
"He wanted to go out tonight."
"Yeah. Crazy world."
"I'm going to tell Wakka to get that guy on some new drugs. Why would he think you would go out with him?"
"He's not that bad, Rikku, but seriously. Who next, Jassu?" she laughed, as her phone rang again. This made her and Rikku laugh harder. "Jassu," Yuna said, a minute later into the phone. Rikku was trying her hardest to stifle her laughter. Dona brought her refill.
Yuna hung up. "Wow. That's two dates in…five minutes. Maybe I should have gone out with one of them."
"No way. I know Gippal is hanging out with his friends tonight. So, you have to hang out with me."
Yuna pouted. "I'm turning down dates, Rikku. How can I keep them wanting more, if I don't deliver?"
Yuna was fully aware that she was a tease, and she loved every minute of it. She liked getting the boys all hot and bothered, just to turn cold the next minute. Always promising, but never delivering. She wasn't really interested in any of them, just liked the thrill of the chase. She was determined not to end up like her father: heartbroken, and looking for love in all the wrong places. Namely, his current love affair with the bottle.
"Do you know that waiter?" Rikku asked.
Yuna looked toward the waiter's station and felt her heart beat in triple time in her chest. Filling a glass with ice was the most gorgeous guy she had ever seen. She was trying to place him in their school building and failed. He had the softest looking blond hair she had ever seen, his eyes were the color of the ocean, his skin evenly tanned. She felt a blush stain her cheeks as she pondered briefly if his tan was indeed all over.
"No. I've never seen him before," she said, turning back to Rikku.
"Me, neither, but if I didn't have my Gippal, he'd be mine," Rikku stated.
Just then, Lulu entered the restaurant. She spotted the two girls and came over to join them. She had her long black hair up in a very neat bun. She was wearing a white blouse, which strained to contain her ample bosom, and a pair of snug jeans.
"Hi, girls," she greeted them.
"Hi," they both replied in unison.
Yuna's phone began to ring again.
"Put it on speaker," begged Rikku.
Yuna obeyed. "Hi, this is Yuna," she greeted the caller.
"Hi, Yuna. This is Baralai."
Yuna's eyes widened with interest. She knew Baralai, of course, the star player of the Abes. "Hi, Baralai. What's up?" she said, trying to sound casual.
"I was hoping you would give me the pleasure of your company tonight," he said.
Rikku was nodding vigorously.
"Yes, that would be nice," Yuna replied.
"Okay. Would you like me to pick you up?"
"Yes," Yuna agreed, giving him her address.
"I'll see you soon. I look forward to it," Baralai said. Yuna hung up and squealed.
"Was that Baralai Griffin?" frowned Lulu.
Lulu shook her head. "Why, Yuna? That guy's got a reputation."
"Well, so does she," defended Rikku.
Lulu shook her head again. She'd warned Yuna many times about the way she played with boys. One time too many, and some jerk wasn't going to take no as an answer. Of course, Yuna never believed any of that. And she certainly wasn't going to take advice from Lulu, who was dating someone on the debate team. She was too picky.
Dona suddenly reappeared, holding a refill of Yuna's drink.
"Thanks," Yuna said. Dona was her favorite waitress, but as her eyes kept watching the blond boy work, she knew she was going to have a new favorite soon. She couldn't take her eyes off of him. Yuna had never felt this way about a guy before. Boys usually fell for her.
"No problem," Dona said.
"Who's that guy? Is he new here?" Yuna asked, wanting to throw a flirtatious smile in his direction, but finding it difficult to manage. What the hell was wrong with her? She was a big flirt. Flirting came to her naturally.
"You should find out when his shift is over, so you can go out with him," Rikku said.
"I already have a date for tonight, Rikku," Yuna reminded her.
Dona looked over in the girls' line of vision. She shrugged. "Oh, that's Tidus. He's a cutie, isn't he? He just moved here this summer."
"Perfect," Yuna muttered.
"Not so fast, Yuna. I think he's mentioned a girlfriend," Dona warned, though she approved of the young girl's determination to get whatever she wanted.
Yuna dismissed that last statement from Dona, as she mentally planned where she and Tidus would go on their first date.
"I know that look," squealed Rikku. "She's going to get him."
Even Lulu had to smile. But, she pitied Tidus. It would be too bad when Yuna discarded him after she got him. Lulu waited patiently for Dona to bring her soda and chocobo sandwich. She loved The Tornado, especially the décor. The dark paneled walls, almost black, with all of the bright neon sights decorating the walls. Even the floor was made of black linoleum. The tables were covered with white tablecloths, with decorative tornados in the center encased in plastic, with red neon wiring.
Tidus awoke with a start, his heart pounding in his chest. What the hell was that noise? he thought. He listened again, and sure enough, the pounding was still going on. He could hear something pounding against the wall of his bedroom. So hard, it even rattled his frame of his Player of the Quarter certificate he'd gotten when he played for the Luca Goers. He'd only been with the Abes since the beginning of the summer, but he wasn't ready to show them any of his signature moves yet. He knew that Baralai was the star, so he didn't want to show him up. Yet. He groaned as his eyes looked at the illuminated clock next to his bed. 1:30 am. What the hell was Jecht doing at this hour? It didn't take him long to figure it out as he heard loud groans and moans coming from the other side of his wall. He sighed deeply, reaching for his IPod, and putting it on. As the music filled his ears, he drifted off again.
"Darling, are you still sleeping? You must have had a rough night last night," said Zalora, in her sugary sweet drawl.
She looked down at her sleeping stepson and stroked his cheek. He was so sweet. But, not so innocent. She was certain she'd caught his eyes lingering on her shapely legs on more than one occasion. She swept a lock of long auburn hair behind her shoulder as she sat on the edge of the bed. Jecht was already off to work, even though it was Sunday. She pulled the covers off of Tidus, and admired his strong, tanned legs. He was sleeping on his stomach. She ran a manicured hand slowly up one of his legs. She paused and looked at him. He wasn't snoring softly anymore. And most likely, he wouldn't appreciate her seeing him in his boxers. She knew he was just playing games. He enjoyed the attention.
"What are you doing?" she heard him ask, reaching to pull the covers over himself again.
She gave him a friendly smile. "Oh, nothing, dear. I thought I saw a bug crawl under your covers."
Tidus noticed that she was still wearing her white silk nightgown and robe. He didn't know why his stepmother liked to play with him. He was hoping as he got older, that she would be more of a real mother to him. He'd lost his own when he was four to a mysterious disease, and then Jecht had married Zalora the year he turned nine.
"Zalora, I've told you a million times, stay out of my room," he warned, again.
"I know, darling. But, I'm practically your mother, I was just checking on you, that's all. Motherly concern," she swore, though her pale violet eyes told another story, as they lingered on his bare shoulders. "Is there anything you want to talk about? I'm here to listen," she insisted.
"No. Make that hell no," Tidus said, remembering the last "motherly" talk they'd had. It had been about him entering puberty.
"Fine. I'm having waffles for breakfast. Do you want some? A growing boy needs his strength."
"I don't care," he muttered, watching her leave his room, closing the door softly.
He bolted out of the bed and locked the door, which he could have sworn he'd done the previous night. He never told Jecht about any of this. He could tell his father was more than smitten with his younger wife. Jecht was forty, and Zalora was thirty three. Tidus walked into his bathroom and pondered what he would do with his day. He didn't have blitz practice, and he didn't have to work. Maybe he could go to Luca. Hell no. He should have planned that in advance, so he could have an airship ticket. And the drive was definitely out of the question. But, he missed Darcy, his girlfriend in Luca. They'd been dating for a little more than five months. But, she was in Luca and he was in Zanarkand. He knew one thing for certain, and without question, he wasn't spending the day at home with Zalora.
End of Chapter One.