This came to me spontaneously at midnight, took me couple of hours to finish (in one sitting!). -_-' And it evolved from a super small draft of a disjointed scene one, no, two years ago. I surprise myself, felt like I was possessed to finish something remotely intelligible. Enjoy. :3

Second Chances

When you try your best but you don't succeed

When you get what you want but not what you need

When you feel so tired but you can't sleep

Stuck in reverse

When the tears come streaming down you face

When you lose something you can't replace

When you love someone but it goes to waste

Could it be worse?

~ Coldplay (Fix You)

"Are you feeling alright?"

Yuna approaches the Praetor, dozing and in desperate need of sleep, as they are the only ones on the top floor of the cabin room, excluding the hyperactive, celebrating blondes stirring up a storm with a hypello barkeep for an enabler. Baralai peels his eyes open at hearing the question, regarding the teenaged woman who frowns at the moon shadows glowering beneath his dull stare.

"I can't fall asleep... unless it is completely quiet..." His smooth timbre suffers a mistaken identity, a sad, coarse, soundless sandpaper, vitality growing dimmer still in his languid dark eyes."They're making a lot of noise down there..."

In attempt to lighten the mood, Vegnagun lies destroyed and disconnected in the boundless bowels of the Farplane after all, Yuna chuckles, sympathizing with him. "This is Rikku and Gippal we're talking about." Baralai gives a weak laugh, suddenly flinching when a pang of sharp pain sweeps his brain.

Yuna catches the motion and rushes to his side, concern etched on her face. "Is something wrong?"

"A headache, is all..."

"Let me see if I can..." Yuna trails off soon upon swiftly delving into concentration, placing both hands on either side of his head, pouring magic into her glowing fingertips. Physical contact filters the healing energy into his mind, dowsing the hostile sparks of stress responsible for agitating his psyche.

He groans at the bittersweet sensation, 'it hurts so bad, but it feels good, too,' sighing, swamped in a spiral of conflicted emotions. Brief relief. Transient contentment. Mute gratitude. Immortal regret. Immersing in sin and self-repenting for it while his savior remains oblivious.

Yuna takes a seat by his side on the edge of the bed and starts playing with his hair out of curiosity, free of its blue headband, long tendrils splayed across his face, brushing it away from his eyes, the littlest of caresses easing his misgivings. 'If only it could be that easy.'

"It is all my fault... that Vegnagun nearly wiped Spira from existence..."

Yuna suddenly stiffens, a denial ready to spill from her lips.

"What? That is not true–."

"It is so!" He suddenly sits upright, this action needing a lot of desire and great effort, and startles Yuna by grabbing hold of her hand. His grip seems to be pleading, desperate for a compassionate ear. "A confession, if I may, Lady Yuna?"

Yuna nods, a moment's consideration, ultimately acquiescing after perceiving the sincere request in his forlorn gaze. Pulling her legs up and folding them, she twists her body to face him properly, their hushed proximity tuning out the vocal hilarity resounding downstairs. Baralai gropes for her other hand, clasping them together, laying their linked fingers between his outstretched legs, head bowed in deep shame and contemplating the last vestiges of his worth.

"Shuyin's emotions– the grief, the anguish, the hatred– I am no stranger to them. Because I am weak, I can relate to him. Living in constant regret, failing to protect the people you care about most, wishing for justice and acting upon those wishes, and my hatred for Nooj– of all things!– was horribly misplaced. I don't understand, though I am grateful, very grateful! But why...?

"Why did you save me again, Lady Yuna?"

Appalled and partially unsurprised by his words, Yuna struggles for the right words, uncertain whether or not Baralai wanted comfort, needed it, or simply sought honest answers to quell his inner demons. She settles for speaking her own bemusement.

"Why not? You are a friend."

He scoffs, trapped in a delusion; he is undeserving of her forgiveness. "You call someone who manipulated your feelings a friend?"

His derision reminds her of that haunting memory, foreign arms wrapped in sweet illusion, a bittersweet embrace wrapped in a haze of confusion, and the heat of nostalgia seared into her heart, becoming a scar of twisted longing. Yuna finds herself longing more for affection, pillar of support, safety, than the boy himself. Tidus, her first love. To feel wanted by another, the possibility of reciprocation tangible to her future, and the evil temptation of moving on, leaving behind the past–

This man is dangerous, because he causes a riot of real emotions to inflame her heart, hot and fresh from the present, they seem almost alive and breathing and stronger than the memory containing them. And yet, he is human, too, and not conscious of the profound effect he has on her.

"Why worry about something that happened in the past? You're alive. I'm alive. We've survived." Her hand has a mind of its own, thumbs burrowing out of his sweaty hold and stroking his skin, cold to the touch due to stress, no doubt. "We have our friends, our families... you can't be unhappy about that."

"'re avoiding the question."

"What question?"

He sighs then, frustrated, and gives up, breaking eye contact. That's when Yuna has to scold herself for neglecting the people who are still around and in need of love and attention. 'This is no time to be selfish. Besides, being selfless has always made me happier, because when other people are happy, I am happy, too.'

"Don't beat yourself up inside. You're too young to be grumpy." Yuna giggles, scooting closer to the disgruntled, pouting Praetor, rubbing his arm, leaning on him for the sake of reminding him of her presence. "People still care about you, Baralai."

Who knew the High Summoner can be so silly, so light-hearted, so human– and she's also an expert at masking her feelings, independence a front to lift the spirits of others. The best example of resilience, and Baralai feels inferior for not having the emotional capacity to do the same.

Then again, he was never one for sulking.

Shifting on his side, arm pillowing his head, Baralai gazes up at Yuna's beaming smile, sensing the tickles of a smile stretching his mouth. "If milady says so, it must be true."

"It does no good to dwell on morbid thoughts, especially those by choice." Clutching his right hand, Yuna tugs it to rest on her lap, fiddling with his limp fingers.

"True." Drowsy eyes are fixated on her idle ministrations, appreciating her affections– the sweet words, the genuine sentiments, the heart-warming hand holding– in secret. "How narrow-minded of me..."

"As long as you learn from your mistakes, I think you're okay."


"Of course."

Silence settles within aimless conversation, not for lack of better things to say, but tired of talking altogether. Tired after being possessed, fighting death battles, saving the world, and most definitely dealing with compulsive, complicated feelings. And so they indulge in mutual silence, sharing the solitude, and the companionable presence of another soul.

Inching closer to her knees, head half-leaning on her naked lap, he holds a fistful of her long skirt, tugging on it for speechless permission, and Yuna smiles, bashful and gracious, adjusting themselves in a compromising position. Cheek pressing against her thigh, eyes fluttering shut at the soothing strokes, her palm petting his face and brushing his hair, Baralai crumbles under her compassionate ministrations.

'I should really start considering other men,' Her hand drifts to cradle his cheek after realizing this random epiphany, acknowledging her attraction towards him for the first time, ' this one here.' The slow rising and falling of his chest, his breathing drawn-out and relaxed, Baralai is in a pseudo-sleep, simply resting there with a blank mind and a throbbing heart.

The unspoken question and the wordless answer.

"Lady Yuna, do you care about me, too?"