YAY! I FINALLY FINISHED! XD I'm so happeh!. :] Read the platonic, Baralidus goodness! :D
Memories and Mayhem
#01 - Walking
Tidus remembers running away from Bevelle, running from his execution, running to face Seymour Guado, running after killing him the second time, running back to learn a new, permanent means to slay Sin for good, walking on this very Highbridge to pay a visit to a friendly face; Baralai waits at the opposite end, approaching, ready to greet him with a smile.
#02 - Waltz
"That blitzball match was a waltz– you won by four goals!" Naturally Tidus feels flattered, soaking up the attention and praise like a gluttonous sponge, but he has to wonder where does Baralai get his strange phrases from.
#03 - Wishes
Eyes closed, hands clasped, and head bowed in prayer, Baralai stands before a great shrine on the first day of a new year, "Hey, hey, what did you wish for?" praying additionally for Tidus to have patience while ignoring the incessant pokes at his side – he faces the teenager once done, chuckling, "What makes you think I'll tell you?"
#04 - Wonder
As Tidus watches the way those two interact – eye contact lingering, his hand on her cheek, a chaste kiss mutual in exchange – he has to wonder at Yuna's change of heart, the haste of frustration towards Baralai dwindling, and if she is truly happy with him – without me.
#05 - Worry
The Praetor reminds him of calm waters, the most dangerous menace, a mystery, what lurks unseen beneath the surface; whenever Baralai smiles that normal polite smile of his, Tidus doubts the credibility and wonders what are his hidden motives.
#06 - Whimsy
"You don't get out much, do you?" Baralai looks up, pen frozen in mid-signature, guilt written all over his face for neglecting his own personal interests, ever the selfless, responsible praetor, and Tidus proceeds to drag him out of the office, "C'mon. Live a little!"
#07 - Waste/Wasteland
"You must think I'm crazy," Tidus says after telling Baralai his story, solemn, self-conscious, kicking at the dirt, looking away from his reaction, looking away from the tragedy, the desolation, the ruins of what used to be his home; Baralai doesn't waste his breath giving hollow condolences, for no amount of apologies can redeem Bevelle's warmongering ways.
#08 - Whiskey and rum
"Don't you wanna know what kind of drunk you are?" Baralai shakes his head, waving his hand in dismissal, a fifth, firm "no" and still counting, feeling sorely tempted to snatch the liquor bottle and knock Tidus out with it if only to shut him up.
#09 - War
The greatest battle ever to disrupt the very face of this earth began at a dinner table, where two young men engaged in multiple rounds of Sphere Break; both recipients wouldn't give up, no matter how dark the day grew.
#10 - Weddings
Rikku bawls during her cousin's wedding, bawling louder than Aniki, joy bursting in twin floods as his are rivers of tragedy, the siblings' outrageous display of emotion overshadowed by Cid's tearful threats and violent happiness; Tidus swears when he has no tissue left to pacify the merry bunch, wishing Baralai good luck with his new eccentric in-laws, also toying with the idea of his own wedding some day, unaware that he will be joining this same family in the near future.
#11 - Birthday
"Shouldn't you be seventeen?" Baralai says, counting two candles too many; Tidus scowls, crossing his arms like a petulant child, "No, I'm nineteen!"
#12 - Blessing
"Without you," Baralai says, face serious and sincere, praying in Yevon gesticulation, a sign of absolute gratitude, "Lady Yuna would have died in Spira's name. We would have continued to live in a spiral of death, and be ignorant of true freedom. I am blessed to have met you."
#13 - Bias
"I'd choose Youth League from the get-go," Tidus says, having been raised in a world without Yevon, been abused and hunted by Yevon's most loyal fanatics; Baralai gives him the look, a bit betrayed by how fast he made the decision, how he didn't bother pretending to consider.
#14 - Burning
Baralai scowls, heart seething in jealousy, seeing Yuna and Tidus standing close together, hearing her laugh at one of his jokes; it takes Tidus sixty seconds and more to register the smell of smoke, feel the heat on his scalp, "Yeeoooowch~!" and Baralai looks away, whistling, smiling at a pretty bush of flowers, imagining the yellow gardenias to be Tidus's flaming head.
#15 - Breathing
Thrashing in the water, fighting to stay afloat, Baralai clings onto him, coughing, gasping for air; Tidus sighs, rolling his eyes, impatient and amused, a smile of reassurance, "You've got to relax, man. Breathe."
#16 - Breaking
Looking at the man now, Tidus can't begin to imagine the depth of Baralai's conflicted feelings, how often he came close to the breaking point, blaming himself for something he had no control over, mulling over betrayal, misjudging a friend, allowing possession, orchestrating destruction, putting the entire world at risk; he realizes how petty his dysfunctional family problems are compared to Baralai's self-depreciation.
#17 - Belief
Devotees of Yevon may have done a lot of unforgivable things in the past, but Tidus believes Baralai can set the doctrine right again, navigate his people to undertake a proper course through a new and improved life.
#18 - Balloon
The red balloon floats too high for Baralai to reach, so he attempts to use gravity to lower it – POP! – and Tidus has to pacify the crying child with a sloppy, amateur-made balloon animal to redeem the man's dignity.
#19 - Balcony
"Excuse me for being blunt, but what are you doing here?" Hoisting himself over the rail, Tidus gulps, smiling wide and awkward, waving hi, intimidated by the accusation in Baralai's stern frown, of violating his privacy to start with, all the while wracking his brain for a witty excuse.
#20 - Bane
"What's the story behind that scar?" Tidus says, pointing to the pink mark, curious; Baralai pulls on his tunic, straightening the hem, evading his nosy discovery with a humorless smile, "What's the history between you and your father?"
#21 - Quiet
It's hard to get the man to speak up when he's so polite, so darn good at humility, especially when Tidus tries and sometimes succeeds to piss him off; Baralai prefers gravitating his victim's face to the ground over whining, yelling, and throwing hissy fits.
#22 - Quirks
Baralai shifts in his leather seat, getting comfortable, listening to Tidus talk on and on and on (about what, he ceases to care), too overly-polite to dare interrupt, fingers tapping impatiently on his armrest, eyes trained in his direction to appear attentive, yet counting the minuscule threads of his Bahamut tapestry hanging on the wall behind him, hoping for his infamous motor mouth to get tired soon.
#23 - Question
"Will you teach me how to ride a chocobo?" Baralai says, scratching his bare neck, self-conscious, shivering at the draft blowing in from the Calm Lands; happy tweets echo in the distance, along with a green coat going rogue, and Tidus guffaws at the hilarity.
#24 - Quarrel
Tidus erupts in a tantrum, punching the air, kicking the ground, throwing loud emotions to rain from the sky, a boy who's all bark and no bite; Baralai does not flinch, face blank and eyes drawn, mute to the verbal abuse, the ultimate poker face, and he waits for the storm to pass before apologizing to the sun, taking for granted its mortal brilliance.
#25 - Quitting
Never the type to quit, especially at his favorite game of tag, Tidus stalks the oblique hallways and long-winded staircases in search of the elusive Praetor, turning every nook and cranny and refurbished room upside down, exploring the entire temple, becoming increasingly bored and frustrated; Tidus hastens to intercept the furtive man, before Baralai can cross the courtyard and disappear from his line of sight.
#26 - Jump
The last thing Tidus remembers is jumping, diving headfirst into clouds and pyre flies, meeting Braska, Yuna's old man, Auron, his guardian growing up, and Jecht – reconciling, sleeping in a faraway ocean, dreaming – a quiet call of his name and warm humor anchors him to reality, "Welcome back."
#27 - Jester
"Look at me! Look at me!" Tidus says, balancing on one leg while juggling ten rubber balls, a showcase of pretentious flexibility, bouncing backwards, teetering on his tiptoes, until crashing into a fruit stand; Baralai knows it's rude to laugh at someone's expense, but he can't help it when the situation involves Tidus.
#28 - Jousting
"My package is bigger than yours!" Baralai raises an eyebrow, bemused, glancing at the padded envelopes in his arms and then at Tidus's empty hands, oblivious to the sexual innuendo, "What package?"
#29 - Jewel
Upon Tidus's first semi-formal, safe visit, Baralai gives him a personal tour of the city, pleased of his honest enthusiasm despite his initial wariness to see the sights, "Bevelle is beautiful, isn't it?"
#30 - Just
"What the heck is wrong with you, man?" Tidus snatches him by the collar, glaring, liquid rage flaring in his blue eyes, "Hasn't anyone ever told you you shouldn't steal another guy's girl?"
#31 - Smirk
Lately Baralai has been spotting Gippal and Tidus together, always prolonging their visits in Bevelle, making casual conversation, lowering their voices whenever he passes by, a mischievous glint glowing in their eyes, paranoid to believe he's the target of a collaborative prank; Baralai has every right to be wary when they smile like twins.
#32 - Sorrow
Even after hearing the truth from Baralai, the fact Yuna came to him on her own, willingly and without many qualms, worse yet hearing her confirm his claim, Tidus does not receive an apology from Baralai; he's not sure what saddens him more, Baralai's lack of remorse, Yuna letting go of him, or himself standing alone on the losing end.
#33 - Stupidity
Spotting the blonde fast asleep, the sound of soft snores stopping his lecture on post-Sin Spiran politics short, the Praetor snorts, disgruntled; only when absolutely certain the log won't move does Baralai have the nerve to slap him awake, gently, applying pressure and repetition as punishment.
#34 - Serenade
Music resonates from across the bonfire as Baralai dozes beside his pitched tent, off-key notes, fragmented lyrics, awkward clicks of acoustic strings, not exactly the most harmonious of sounds, yet he enjoys the song all the same while the Besaid Aurochs make light-hearted jeers; an aimless blitzball hits the wrong target, and Baralai makes music out of the men's screams regardless of the true culprit.
#35 - Sarcasm
"Why, Tidus, you hurt my feelings," he says, and the blonde realizes too slow Baralai doesn't appreciate his masculinity being mocked, especially when his effeminate looks are the butt of old jokes.
#36 - Sordid
Once upon a time Seymour Guado's vassal, once upon a time Wen Kinoc's murderer, Baralai proves to be a better man than all the Maesters previously in power, yet he is also no different from them; Tidus doesn't have to know, will never need to learn of his sins – the Praetor will carry his secrets to the grave.
#37 - Soliloquy
Baralai has the weird habit of mumbling aloud at length when he believes no one's looking, so Tidus one time eavesdrops out of curiosity, hearing him complain about the Youth League and their beloved mevyn, Nooj, the occasional Al Bhed-hater, Nooj, Paine and blackmail material, Nooj, women and gay men vying for his attention, Nooj, Gippal's latest prank, the stingy, old-fashioned council as a whole, and Nooj – Nooj, Nooj, and Nooj.
#38 - Sojourn
Appearing at the Praetor's doorstep, feeling jilted, still stubborn against initiating eye contact, kicking at an invisible pebble, "Can I stay at your place?" Baralai comprehends the reason of his visit and smiles, touched by Tidus's desire to mend their friendship.
#39 - Share
Whenever Tidus describes his awesome exploits in professional blitzball, both good and bad, mainly his golden moments, he tends to get carried away, "And after I made that winning shot, I was so happy I cried – you know what, I take that back," and Baralai gleans satisfaction from coaxing confessions out of him when he's normally acting the tough guy.
#40 - Solitary
Tidus appreciates when Baralai doesn't question his desire for solitude, doesn't judge his behavior as odd to want to think without distraction and Baralai understands when Tidus doesn't want to speak, doesn't feel the need to fill the silence with words – and so they lounge in the courtyard side by side, enjoying the peace and quiet.
#41 - Nowhere
Tidus missed out on two years of his life, dwelling on the brink of life and death, belonging to neither, stuck in a limbo of nothingness, unconscious – time seems to move too fast now while Tidus struggles to catch up, trying to trust the leader of thirty-first generation traitors and forgive the Praetor's inherited crimes.
#42 - Neutral
Where there are verbal fights and petty skirmishes, Baralai hovers to clean up the mess, forfeiting his feelings for the sake of understanding all parties present, proposing compromises and sticking to them, acting as the emissary for all races – Tidus can't bear the thought of leaving him to deal with problems alone, determined to lend a hand and help lift his burdens even if Baralai denies dependence.
#43 - Nuance
"I like you," Baralai says, straight-faced and sincere and arguably innocent; Tidus blushes, suddenly uncomfortable, mortified, disturbed, hoping desperately for a punch line to a horrific, corny joke.
#44 - Near
Inching closer to his companion, cuddling up to his side, damning Baralai's thick coat and his own thin clothes, Tidus ignores his curious look, teeth clattering and body shivering like crazy, "Don't get the wrong idea. We have to share body heat if we're gonna survive this blizzard."
#45 - Natural
Baralai wouldn't call himself a master chef, but at least he can prevent his own starvation by preparing edible food; however, Tidus has to supervise him when it comes to outdoor cooking and he wants to ask how he became such a natural, too busy panicking about his flying, missing patties to steal the chance.
#46 - Horizon
Tidus should have been paying more attention then, instead of the sunset, at Yuna and her sad smile two years ago, Baralai and his solemn gaze now, looking at a view so orange and red, treating it like their last, Tidus never knowing about the impending doom – instead of moping about his alcoholic father, Tidus decides to do something about it, lighten up the spirits of a severely serious man, vowing to save him from whatever depression he's drowning in.
#47 - Valiant
Pyre flies implode behind him, scattering to the sky and Baralai turns, surprised, wide-eyed and speechless, witnessing the ghostly remnants of his fiendish assailant disappear; Tidus strikes a pose, catching his Brotherhood sword in the air, smiling proud, "Don't worry. I've got your back."
#48 - Virtuous
"Do you believe in abstinence?" Baralai says, an attempt at civil conversation, and Tidus shrugs, seemingly bored of the topic already, "I don't think it matters when you do it with the one you love."
#49 - Victory
"I want to feel you close to me. Is that so wrong?" Baralai says, tone light and smile evil, laughing at the pure fear coloring his pale face, pleased to have traumatized Tidus once again.
#50 - Defeat
The look Baralai gave him when Tidus slugged him in the jaw, smug and passive-aggressive, for once heeding the call to testosterone temptation, he retaliates before Tidus can react by throwing the next punch, a far cry from his usual peacemaking persona, and they answer to the challenge, holding nothing back – later, both men will be walking away, together, all wrapped up in each other, bruised and sore and satisfied to let off some steam – "No hard feelings, right, buddy?"