Inevitably carried over from my ff_fortnightly days. C'mon, let's spread the Final Fantasy love!

Series such as Wings of a Soldier's Soul, Trial of Enlightenment, and Touching Hearts with Harps are on hiatus (most likely will be discontinued).

Cross-posted on LJ.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X/X-2

Title: Scholar, The {Pt. I}

Characters/Pairings: Baralai, Auron

Theme: Magic

Spoilers: mild

Rating/Warnings: PG-13

Summary: Auron keeps his eye on the 8th Guardian of the group. Alternate Reality.

"'Doom can incur a ticking time bomb within the victim's body. The caster relinquishes negative energies, which morph into an ominous cloud and twist and alter the natural physiology of the target'..."

Auron hears the boy recite the text from his magic scroll, eyes a deceptive soft, as he watches him observe Kimahri summon the spell via Blue Magic. Knowledge of the foe, resourceful and unassuming, yet that boy–

He faces a fire drake, left hand lifted in dangerous prayer. No amount of hail, or frostbite-inducing wind will break his concentration.

Blood gushes out the mouth and nose. Its proud horns break due to its rapid brittleness, and the Nidhogg collapses from spontaneous cardiac arrest. When they continue to trek Mt. Gagazet and purge the path of fiends along the way, it becomes clear Baralai has more "accuracy" than Kimahri. Intestines. Kidneys. Liver. Spleen. Lungs. The fiends' anatomy serves as his map, to read and explore his potential.

'It's in his nature to cast something like that,' Auron muses, 'A manipulator...'

A healer, a destroyer, and also an expert of tactical warfare. 'He knows too much. He's dangerous.' Auron wonders if they are truly safe, having him as an ally.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X/X-2

Title: Scholar, The {Pt. II}

Characters/Pairings: Baralai, Kimahri

Theme: Magic

Spoilers: mild

Rating/Warnings: PG

Summary: Kimahri hates to be outdone. Alternate Reality.

End of the road; the party turns and a group of fiends ambush them from behind. Too many fiends prowl the Omega Ruins, and all prove to be fearsome. Kimahri growls, brandishing his spear, showing Yuna these foes don't daunt him, not one bit.

Baralai pounces, like a human Queen Coeurl. Beautiful. Feral. Calm. Flipping low in midair, the man-child breaches their defenses, twirling upon landing his wicked staff.

He would cast lethal spells belonging to the elements of nature next, or invisible forces of the universe, but not this time. Darkness ignites, flashing hot colors that blind retinae, and an other-worldly chill pervades the dim passageway. Kimahri witnesses the Ultima spell, where a Wraith's soul evaporates, a Zaurus's body rots until flesh melts, and a Mimic's heart withers inside organic stones.

'Baralai watches Kimahri close. Baralai studies Kimahri well.'

Not to be outdone as a Guardian, Kimahri scours the dungeon for a challenge. They soon confront a Yevon traitor in fiendish form; somehow surviving its Supernova might, Kimahri extracts the ability and relinquishes it ten-fold. Non-elemental magic, which rivals the intense heat and brilliance of the sun.

Kimahri smiles his toothy grin when his prowess stuns Baralai into silence.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X/X-2

Title: Scholar, The {Pt. III}

Characters/Pairings: Baralai, Wakka

Theme: Magic

Spoilers: mild

Rating/Warnings: G

Summary: Wakka watches Baralai train in the brink of dawn. Alternate Reality.

'The kid may not be a lively one, but he sure gotta good head on his shoulders, ya?'

Wakka reclines on an indigo-brown trunk, watching. Upon the third morning since he joined, Baralai rises in the brink of dawn to meditate, then begins his exercise drills when sunlight winks through glittering canopies. Arms sway and hands flex while channeling and releasing raw magic in precise intervals, robes flickering with the violent elements. He seems to dance within the flurry of flames and music of frost, the orchestra of thunder and ballet of water. Momentum flows ceaseless while minutes fly away, and internal alarm clocks soon awaken the others.

Fingertips aglow dispel incoming hostile spells, finally ceasing this spectacle. "Indulge me in a sparring match, will you?" Scarlet eyes glare in challenge, as a moogle doll trots side-by-side its master Black Mage.

"With all due respect, I will not hold back even if you are a woman."

Ever the quick learner, Baralai learns her magical prowess far outstrips his skill, yet he holds his ground strong in this competition of mental stamina. Wakka smirks, pleased to see Lulu's pride flare into light, and cheers her on to mellow her wrath later.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X/X-2

Title: Scholar, The {Pt. IV}

Characters/Pairings: Baralai, Tidus

Theme: Magic

Spoilers: mild

Rating/Warnings: PG

Summary: Tidus likes the priest, despite personal feelings. Alternate Reality.

First time they met, Tidus thought Baralai looked like a girl.

He flirted with 'her,' almost asked 'her' out on a date, until Yuna introduced 'her' as a man and new Guardian. A part of his ego died that day. 'And I'm not the only one on edge, either.'

The way he has Auron nervous, and Yuna head over heels, and Lulu on her toes, and Rikku speechless, and Kimahri polite, and Wakka captivated – 'That's gotta be magic, how he can win over people's hearts like that. He's even got me liking him!'

What kind of priest studies the Al Bhed language in public places? Or worships his religion, yet questions his god without tripping over his own words? Or steals lives human, fiend, and machine using sacrilege in hand?

He knows stuff, Spira's history, all kinds of magic, things people don't know. Tells stories way up there with Maechen. His words are like magic, weaving syllables into beautiful colors and painting pictures for the listener to daydream. "A silvertongue," Auron called him, "A master manipulator. Don't get too close to him."

Yet Tidus trusts him almost as much as Yuna, 'Cuz he believes me when I talk about Zanarkand.'


Fandom: Final Fantasy X/X-2

Title: Scholar, The {Pt. V}

Characters/Pairings: Baralai/Yuna

Theme: Magic

Spoilers: mild

Rating/Warnings: PG-13

Summary: They share a moment in the Thunder Plains. Alternate Reality.

Unable to fall asleep, Yuna rolls over, blinking, catching sight of blood seeping through well-worn bandages. They unravel, revealing a small, fatal wound in his backside. Dark fingertips glow in the rain, channeling Regen under discretion to mend a scar.

Her healer instinct kicks in; she approaches, lowering her voice. "...may I heal you?"

"Don't exhaust your reserves..." Baralai whispers his grudging consent.

Esuna loosens the metal shards, soothing the infection within. Proffered from the folds of his double-layered robes, Yuna uses his small knife to dig around the bullet-sized wound. She fears to assume, yet she holds little doubt – 'This was a very deliberate attempt on his life...'

"You should drink some Remedy. It's healing properties are potent when ingested..."

Heeding her advice, he takes sorrowful swigs, flinching when Yuna plucks the last piece of metal out. His stiff muscles relax, cool Cura closing the hole well, yet hearing her sigh of dissatisfaction triggers paranoia to resurface. Pulling out a needle and thread, Yuna stitches the rest of the way shut.

"I will stay with you until you fall asleep, if you like..."

Baralai leans into her touch, wanting to feel connected, yet fears of the future risks.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X/X-2

Title: Scholar, The {Pt. VI}

Characters/Pairings: Baralai, Lulu

Theme: Magic

Spoilers: mild

Rating/Warnings: G

Summary: Lulu is the natural; Baralai is a hard worker. Alternate Reality.

Earthquakes have an electromagnetic element, which relates to tidal pull and the core of the Earth, the tilt of the axis...

Lulu skims the elegant scrawls, the fruits of his labor and studies on papyrus. 'I am the natural and he is the hard worker. I see...' Cultivating intellect to fuel latent potential, the Scholar relies on logic and formulas, unlike the designated Black Mage loyal to emotions and imagination.

Lulu stands atop the deck, where Cid has the Fahrenheit parked in a remote glen, overlooking the Calm Lands and the teen meditating alone down below. How long has he stood there, distant, still, and silent as a statue, awaiting the right moment to cast? Covering so much space between him and the airship, Lulu wonders 'Will he attempt to mimic the exact mechanics of an earthquake...?'

Over-excessive energy soon escapes from his pores, a soft cyan aura, and he slumps in posture, light-headed, overwhelmed; feet float a margin, arms rise, hands conduct ample magic, and Baralai plummets fast to pound the ground.

Light disappears, light ignites the soil, spreading, rumbling the planet's crust, and a quarter-mile crater bursts into existence.

Her hairs stand on end, like a fretful porcupine.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X/X-2

Title: Scholar, The {Pt. VII}

Characters/Pairings: Baralai, Rikku

Theme: Magic

Spoilers: mild

Rating/Warnings: G

Summary: "Yevonites aren't the only ones who can do magic, you know." Alternate Reality.

Rikku demonstrates her home-made recipe of a Black Hole. "You take a winning formula and drop a shadow gem inside, like this... and viola!" Slipping the pitch-black stone inside the vial causes its mysterious contents to simmer and steam. Chemical reaction; hot light ignites, gravitational force circumcises air, and raw energy rips apart molecules and atoms and particles in limited space.

Baralai murmurs in awe and wonder. "Fascinating... You are quite an intelligent young lady. Thank you for showing me." Unused to hearing honest compliments from a Yevonite, Rikku blushes, scratching her cheek, smiling silly.

"Aw, it's nothing!"

"No. It is not 'nothing.' The way you mix concoctions in record time, why... it's almost like magic."

"...you really think so?"

His kindness tinkles like laughter in her ears, and Rikku blinks, tearing up, mouth crinkling in euphoria. "But of course. You are a prodigy. And I will tell you again and again until you believe me."

Indescribable happiness propels her to squeeze the living daylights out of him. "You are my second best non-Al Bhed friend in the whole wide world!" All the pain she ever felt at this point, 'This guy makes me want to believe it's worth it.'


Fandom: Final Fantasy X

Title: Lucid Nightmare

Characters/Pairings: Auron, Yunalesca, Seymour, Yuna, Tidus, Jecht, Braska

Theme: Disguise

Spoilers: major

Rating/Warnings: PG-13, angst

Word Count: 100/100/200/200/100/200/200 - 1100 in total

Summary: They lived, they hoped, and they died.

A/N: Quotes in bold belong to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Listen to "Wisdom, Justice, and Love" from Linkin Park's album A Thousand Suns.

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight

"Sin is eternal." Yunalesca prays before them and re-welcomes the inevitable with open arms. "Hope is... comforting. It allows us to accept our fate, however tragic it might be."

A walking dead man blasts from the past. "No! Where is the sense in all this?! Braska believed in Yevon's teachings and died for them! Jecht believed in Braska and gave his life for him!"

"Yevon's teachings and the Final Summoning give the people of Spira hope. Without hope, they would drown in their sorrow."

Because my conscience leaves me no other choice

.

"Mother, no! I don't want you to become a Fayth!"

"There is no other way. Use me, and defeat Sin. Only then will the people accept you."

"I don't care about them! I need you, mother! No one else!"

"I don't... have much time left..."

"He [Seymour] was always alone – half Guado, half man. I wanted to give him the strength to live by himself. And so I became a Fayth. But... because I let him taste power, he began to thirst for more. He was not satisfied with my Aeon. He wanted more. More power."

"And he found Sin."

.

A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war

"It might be a hopeless campaign, and it might mean defying Yevon... but the Crusaders and the Al Bhed, they're doing their best to defeat Sin. They want to rid Spira of Sin forever!"

'How many died today? People die, and Yuna dances. When will she stop dancing? When will it stop? Yuna won't stop dancing– not until Sin is gone.'

This way of settling difference is not just

Fiends invade Home, Guado hunt for heathens; lambs for the slaughter. Tears are shed for the dead, in light of a far-away explosion.

This business of burning human beings with napalm

Kilika receives the brunt of Sin's wrath worst; the big, bad bully blows wooden houses into smithereens, robs parents of children, and children of parents, and families of siblings. Long-lost cousins are scattered across the globe, soul-searching, striving to fulfill their callings.

Low population, high-level chaos, romances short and sweet, and marriages fast and multiple. Survival of the fittest, a complex web of dependence and kindness built on a holy system.

Yu Yevon; hypocrisy in disguise.

.

Filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows

"The High Court of Yevon is now in session. To those on trial: Believe in Yevon, and speak only the truth."

"Enlightened rule by the dead is preferable to the misguided failures of the living."

"Life is but a passing dream, but the death that follows is eternal."

"Men die. Beasts die. Trees die. Even continents perish. No matter how many Summoners give their lives, Sin cannot be truly defeated. The rebirth cannot be stopped. Yet the courage of those who fight give the people hope. There is nothing futile in the life and death of a Summoner."

"Never futile... but never ending."

Foreboding words haunt Tidus's mind; as he awaits his ultimate sentence, Tidus wonders aloud, "Why is it... everything in Spira revolves around people dying?" His prison mate and fellow Guardian speaks for an immortal, morbid mystery.

"Ahh, the spiral of death. Summoners challenge the bringer of death, Sin, and die doing so. Guardians give their lives to protect their Summoner. The Fayth are souls of the dead. Even the Maesters of Yevon are Unsent. Spira is full of death. Only Sin is reborn, and then only to bring more death. It is a cycle of death, spiraling endlessly."

.

Of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane.

Darkness. Pyreflies. Ear-splitting screams of pain, agony, and despair. Soldiers singing in chorus death's melody. They play along to the chords of murder and insanity, guns drawn at point-blank.

Of sending men home from the dark and bloody battlefields–

Destruction-incarnate vaporizes flesh, blood, and bone from the face of the earth, leaving survivors to bleed, suffer, and slip away on a corpse-littered beach. Machina have tumbled in defeat, and Sin retreats to prowl the waters and protect a myth still hailed as sacrosanct.

physically handicapped and psychologically deranged.

.

"Sin is Jecht."

Cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.

"He came here for you. As long as he is Sin, Jecht will keep killing. He wanted to show that to you. So you would kill him. He wants you to stop him."

Cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.

"He is no longer human. But then... I felt something of Jecht there in that shell, couldn't you? You must have felt him when you came in contact with Sin."

Cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.

"Ieyui Nobomeno ~ Renmiri Yojuyogo ~ Hasatekanae..."

The singing stopped; Calm-shattering quakes reverberate beneath the lake and signify Sin's poisonous presence. Everyone braces themselves as the toxin infects their senses.

'The song... You were listening, too!' An upside-down world, neon signs, gravity-defying skyscrapers, a city that never sleeps. 'Oh, you homesick, too?' Blitzballs lie neglected, as does a sea-side house. 'That's not your world anymore. You're Sin now.' One little boy sits by himself, sad and abandoned, hugging his knees. 'Hey, I'm older now, you know?'

Tidus sees his father in his mind's eye, back turned in timid regard to his son's hatred of him.

'I know. You want this to end.'

.

Cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.

A decade-old memory emerges – "My dream is back in the other Zanarkand. But now I know there's no way home for me. I'm never going to see my son again. My dream's never gonna come true. So make me the Fayth."

"Wait! Sin always comes back. It comes back after the Calm every time! The cycle will continue and your deaths will mean nothing!"

"But there's always a chance it won't come back this time. It's worth trying."

25-year-old Auron then falls to his knees, eyes despairing; 35-year-old Auron now slays his inner demon in vain.

"And the cycle went on."

Cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.

.

Ten years later, after tired of living inside a dream, Auron makes his move. Ripples form on the water's surface. Armageddon swallows the sea and tears the streets. Futures are laid to waste, until they are later reborn under lucid dreaming. Tidus teeters on the edge, fingers slipping off the torn ledge, and his guardian kneels to pick him up, guiding the sun to rise inside the eye of the storm.

"Don't cry."

Cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.


Fandom: FFX-2

Crossover: FFVII:CC

Title: Wings Of A Soldier's Soul

Characters/Pairings: Baralai, Zack

Theme: Transportation

Spoilers: medium

Rating/Warnings: PG-13

Summary: The Lifestream transports the Praetor into the far future. Crossover.

"Baralai!"

I hear voices pleading with me to stop.

"All of Spira is finished!"

I hear voices of the deceased encourage their loved ones to stop me.

"He's panicking. Yuna. End it now."

No, not me.

"Shuyin!"

The living shadow of Shuyin.

"Come, Vegnagun. Let us purge this repulsive world."

An Unsent bred from a millennium of hate, pain, regret, and guilt; now he possesses me, someone with similar, startling feelings.

"Now Vegnagun, fire!"

White-hot energy. White noise. White out.

The past seizes my senses. My body branches off from reality. Now I have become a wanderer, moving aimless inside the boundless confines of my mind. With no direction or sense of true purpose, other than the hate breeding within my soul– anger without a source, sin without an end– I lose sight of the light.

Darkness threatens to consume what is left of me.

.

Bullets launch, bullets ricochet, sparks flash in the rushing wind, and a SOLDIER operative races across a speeding train. Glowing green eyes spy a window of opportunity; he leaps, he crouches, and mako-enhanced muscles propel him through sky-high scaffolding.

'No one can touch me' – suspended in one moment, soaring, smiling – 'because I am a hero!'


Fandom: Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

Crossover: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Wings Of A Soldier's Soul

Characters/Pairings: Baralai, Zack, Sephiroth

Theme: Jealousy

Spoilers: mild

Rating/Warnings: G

Summary: Baralai brings out the envy in Sephiroth. Crossover.

'That boy... looks so beautiful.'

Dark skin sculpted from Mother Earth's clay. Hair more pure than snow, more lustrous than platinum. Smiles and laughter so charming they warm the soul. Eyes a golden brown, his gaze exudes unconditional kindness. Zack Fair, 2nd and 3rd Class SOLDIERS, infantrymen– they are all magnetized, bombarding him with questions about the Promised Land, where he came from, how he can summon magic without materia.

Shin-Ra's scientists classify him as a Cetra, with plenty of evidence – tests and experiments alike– to support their hypotheses. 'If only Professor Gast can see this now... a male Cetra...'


Fandom: Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

Crossover: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Wings Of A Soldier's Soul

Characters/Pairings: Baralai, Aerith

Theme: Writer's Choice (Gifts)

Spoilers: mild

Rating/Warnings: G

Summary: Aerith christens Baralai as her older brother. Crossover.

"Wow. The flowers really like you." I smile, embarrassed, sensing subtle movement on my fingertips, of yellow petals leaning into my touch.

This girl looks like Lady Yuna, radiates the same soothing aura. Waist-length brown hair braided, bangs parted, yet they are of similar build and age. Green eyes exotic like the Al Bhed's, yet lighter and lacking the tell-tale spiral. Delight and curiosity colors her face, before I realize she has been staring at me, too.

"I was thinking... Can you show me more of your magic? I'd love to see!"

I nod and hold out my hand, palm open, and tame fire to flare forth, and summon water to swirl slow, and will lightning to crackle bright, and cast frost to freeze fast. Flexing my arms, I direct gravitational energies to squeeze her in gentle constriction; surprising, how little strain exists as I lift Aerith five feet in the air.

She gasps, she giggles, and she hugs me once her sandals touch solid ground again. "Amazing! You must be a Cetra, like me! I can feel it!" Startled of her boldness, I hold her elbows to steady her excitement, blushing.

"It is not as amazing as yours, Lady Aerith. I may be able to manipulate the elements, but you possess the rare power to access the planet's spiritual energy and use it as your own."


Title: Push It To The Limit

Fandom: FFX-2

Characters: Baralai, Yuna, Rikku, Paine

Prompt: Dexterity

Spoilers: implied

Rating: G

Summary: The Praetor can only fight for so long.

Baralai moves while wasting little effort. Making random calculations where to strike next — Demi spells, Drill Shots, Looming Glaciers, Glints — changing his pattern of attack within a single moment to psyche them out every time.

His strength leaves much to be desired, yet his dexterity keeps them on their toes. Baralai out-dances Songstress Yuna and silences her battle cry; Baralai outwits Thief Rikku and steals her breath away; Baralai outmatches Alchemist Paine and freezes her feet cold; Baralai outstrips these girls in skill, yet desk work has dulled his reflexes.

In the end, he cannot outrun stamina at triple power.


Title: Sharing Is Caring

Fandom: FFX-2

Characters: Baralai, Yuna, Braska

Prompt: Literacy

Spoilers: none

Rating: G

Summary: Yuna dares to share something forbidden. Childhood.

"Yuna. I'd like you to study this alphabet. Can you do this for me?"

Yuna nods, beaming, hugging the tablet close, and Braska departs for his daily meditation. Surveying the temple, she approaches Yunalesca's statue and discovers a boy her age has stolen her favorite spot. He sits cross-legged and straight, eyes trained on the script, face so pretty and serious she blushes. Yuna traces the crisscrossing lines of her mother's native language, murmuring the phonetic letters and spelling out a happy memory, before scavenging the courage to sit beside him.

He spares a glance, catching the strange symbols faster than Yuna can conceal them out of shame. "Hello. Er, can I see?" Curiosity guides his boldness to pull the tablet onto his lap, disregarding her timid fussing. "Can you read this? Truly? Will you teach me?" Yuna stares, uncertain. Baralai leans close and whispers as a priest walks by. "It's the Al Bhed alphabet, right? I tried to read it in secret, but Lord Zuke found out and burned the book Father Braska gave me."

"...please don't tell anyone. I don't want mother's memento to disappear forever..."

Praying in Yevon, he smiles. "Cross my heart and hope to die."


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Characters/Pairings: Tidus, Baralai, Yuna, Rikku, Gippal, Nooj, Paine

Theme: Falling

Spoilers: implied

Rating/Warnings: G

Summary: Tidus and Baralai bond on the beach of Besaid. Good Ending.

Tidus pulls at his folded legs, bored, and Baralai hugs his knees, awkward; eventually one of them breaks the ice. "...how did you and Lady Yuna meet, if I may ask."

The Dream remembers a lost love and old friends bidding him goodbye, ascending clouds, rainbow fireflies, a nostalgic afterlife, and a high five. He snaps out of it, glances at the cousins, hears chit-chat and laughter. Rikku braids Yuna's hair one long extension at a time; her fingers mimic a spiral in movement, in repetition. "It's a long story..."

Baralai contents himself with silence, lost in deliberation. Tidus gets irritated when he refuses to carry conversation. "How 'bout you? How did you guys become best friends?"

The Praetor remembers a misfit family unite against all odds, rising darkness, clandestine motives, imaginary shadows, an uncertain future, and a gun shot. He returns to the present, and hears horseplay resound in the distance. Gippal beats Nooj around with his stolen cane and Paine records the hilarity on film; in reality, they are supporting the conspiracy of disbanding New Yevon.

Baralai sighs with a rueful smile. "An unfortunate twist of Fate."

"Would you stop smiling like that? You're giving me the creeps..."


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Crossover: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Characters: Baralai, Link, Ganondorf, Fado, Zelda, Rauru, Saria, Darunia, Ruto, Nabooru, Impa, Gaebora Kaepora

Theme: The Last Time

Spoilers: Major

Rating: PG-13

Words: 200/100x10 - 1200

Summary: Sages oversee peace and chaos, awaiting the Hero of Time to awaken their mortal counterparts. Baralai transports his soul to another dimension for his validation of priesthood. Crossover.

Link didn't witness the hostile takeover of Hyrule Castle, nor did he witness the downfall of domains. A prophet from a far-away land appears in the Temple of Time, after the Hero of Time departs for seven-year hibernation. Hellfire consumes the land. Moblins invade Hyrule Castle and lay waste to its town.

Citizens flee to the neighboring Kakariko village while the wounded and deceased are left behind and later resurrected as ReDeads. Lon Lon Ranch undergoes a coup d'état. Kokiri children fight corruption at the source of all life. Gorons defend Death Mountain against a legendary dragon. Zoras sleep frozen under an immortal curse. Refugees overpopulate the last Hyrulean settlement. Gerudo consider the foreigner one of their own, after they beat him, and violate him in vain.

Baralai visits each temple and prays. The Goddesses answer; Din acknowledges his strength, Farore recognizes his courage, and Naryu admires his wisdom. Sage Fado of the Wind reveals his destiny. Baralai sings Earth God's Lyric by heart, preserving Hyrule Castle safe underground. Great King of Evil and Navigator of Men; rival practitioners of Black Magic duel. Baralai meets the runaway Princess Zelda, and passes on the ultimate legacy; wisdom, justice, and love.

.

Once upon a time, a wise old soul alongside fellow Ancients forged a sword to repel evil, those who would abuse the Triforce. They bless the legendary blade with wings, the power to connect with the Heavens. Only individuals of pure heart and strong body could lay their hands on it. Sages construct the Temple of Time around it for protection; it serves as the sole gateway to the Sacred Realm. The Master Sword lay hidden in its secret chamber. Prophecy speaks of a Hero.

Rauru presides over the Light Temple. He watches the world. He waits. He wonders.

.

Once upon a time, a green-haired girl played with her forest friends and Fairy guardians. The children consider her to be very pretty, a mother figure, kind-hearted, someone they turn to for advice. An outsider lives among them, the boy with no Fairy. He grows up while the others shun him; Kokiri do not age. Saria likes him, senses something special about him, and soon they become best friends. The Lost Woods echo music and memories, the whistle of an ocarina and friendship.

Saria sits at her favorite spot. She plays her song. She reminisces. She smiles.

.

Once upon a time, the Big Boss of the Gorons governed a four-story cave network. He's tough and rude, a responsible ruler. His people are rock-eating humanoids, whom inhabit the Death Mountain. They are hulking and intimidating, yet peaceful and intelligent– on the edge of starvation. Smoke clouds surrounding the peak reflect the state of the mountain; fiery red symbolizes perilous times. Evil incarnate sought to steal the Goron Ruby, blocked their main source of food supply, infested the cavern with carnivorous Dodongos.

Darunia dwells in his throne room. He protects the treasure. He fears. He hopes.

.

Once upon a time, a young Zora princess performed her sacred duty to feed her patron deity. Daughter of King Zora XVI and heir to the throne, Ruto belongs to an aquatic humanoid race. Monarchy rules her people's fountain and only the Hyrule Royal Family can bypass the Sleepless Waterfall. The Zora are proud and foreigners have never stepped foot into their precious domain until the day Lord Jabu-Jabu began acting strange. Letter inside a bottle travels to Lake Hylia, carrying a princess's plea.

Ruto wanders inside a whale's belly. She senses his pain. She investigates. She rebels.

.

Once upon a time, an amazonian woman remembered the noble, bitter dream of her King years ago. The country of notorious female bandits lie within a vast desert. Hot sunlight and burning winds punish the landscape, and moonlight pierces the dark of night, unleashing a frigid gale to decimate homes. Wind carried death throughout the valley, yet the winds that blew across the green fields of Hyrule brought something other than suffering and ruin. "I covet that wind..." Ganondorf had said, before departing for lands beyond.

Nabooru betrays the corrupt King. She plots a conspiracy. She infiltrates. She fails.

.

Once upon a time, a Sheikah served as Princess Zelda's female attendant and guardian. The Hyrulean Civil War almost wiped out the entire tribe while they defended the Royal Family years ago; battle-worn red eyes and wakizashi sheathed at her lower backside proves her heritage. Times have changed; warriors of shadow are lost history. Old evil are sealed inside a well, the Trinity of Truth artifacts– Lens, Mask, and Stone– are hidden away from wicked hands, and Impa opens Kakariko village where everyone can live.

Impa raises the holy Princess. She safeguards a legend. She strives. She believes.

.

Once upon a time, a peculiar Kokiri girl harbored a morbid fascination for the Lost Woods. Her brother bosses around their forest friends while she roams to foreign lands far and wide without fear. She laughs at the thought what fate could befall those wandering in her permanent place of dwelling. When she meets an adult masquerading in trademark Kokiri attire– green tunic, plus white tights and gauntlets– she wonders aloud whether or not this familiar man will become lost and transform into a Stalfos.

Fado hears the wind whisper things. She tells a secret. She giggles. She disappears.

.

Once upon a time, an acolyte showed much promise to ascend the ranks of Yevon's prestigious Bevellean clergy. Tradition and blasphemy intermingle throughout the millennium and his mentor exposes fractions of the truth to test him. Innocent curiosity and pure passion absorbs the knowledge, that machine fueled by sin comprises the temple. The High Priest deems thirteen cycles of the autumn equinox sufficient to perform the paradoxical ritual. He instructs the child to let go, to connect with a parallel universe, to never forget his origins.

Baralai transcends the material world. He summons his dreams. He prays. He sings.

.

Once upon a time, the Princess of Destiny witnessed a vision of treachery when she laid eyes on her father's associate, the Gerudo King. Words of forewarning from a child convinces no one. Only Impa supports Zelda's machinations– intercept Ganondorf's plan to claim the Triforce by eliminating his chance to open the Door of Time. A Kokiri boy comes and goes, delivering her will, seeking to possess the Spiritual Stones. Ganondorf leads an insurrection before Link returns, and they flee into the fields.

Zelda entrusts the Ocarina of Time to Link. She goes into hiding. She regrets. She trains.

.

Once upon a time, a large and knowledgeable owl soared the skies of Hyrule. Gossip Stones speak of an Ancient Sage reincarnated as an animal who travels between the surface world and a floating land. It knew the name of the Hero before their chance meeting and often spoke of cryptic clues pertaining to a never-ending quest. He has an ear for music, a mind for mystery and secrecy. Gaebora Kaepora migrates to wherever the wind blows.

Time splits into two separate universes. Seasons pass throughout the ages. A Link to the past begins the legend of Zelda.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Crossover: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Characters: Baralai, Zuke, Yo Mika, Bahamut, Link, Ganondorf, Happy Mask Salesman

Theme: The Last Time

Spoilers: major

Rating: G

Words: 100/100/100/100/100 - 600

Summary: Baralai undergoes a pilgrimage to a world without its hero to protect the future. Pre-FFX. Crossover. AU.

A/N: I've made allusions from several Legend of Zelda titles: the Ancient Sages from Twilight Princess, the Sacred Realm and the Book of Mudora from A Link to the Past, Song of Time, Temple of Time, etc. (1) excerpt taken from wikipedia page Enlightenment (spiritual)

"You must enter a state of complete emptiness, my child."

The acolyte meditates in the Chamber of the Fayth, a right only Summoners can utilize. Father Zuke instructs the green teenager to find his center, while Grand Maester Yo Mika presides at this ritual. Isolate the unique whistle of a pyrefly. Hear the choir of a millennium souls. Baralai's coming-of-age requires he transcend his past life, his past self.

"To achieve Enlightenment, you must venture into a passage beyond the material world into a thought-transcending realm of non-duality and unconditionedness(1)."

Bahamut hums a Yevonic chant.

.

Maester Mika watches with sunken eyes how the boy sits like a lotus not yet in full bloom, pulls his hands from opposite sides, holds a perfect circle before his chest, and bows. Throughout this perfect flow of movement, Baralai breathes. Yo Mika smells sweet youth, a passion smoldering beneath the calm surface, and shudders. Once this moment of weakness passes, the Grand Maester speaks:

"Allow me to guide you through an extraordinary journey. Close your eyes and listen. Pay attention to the top of your head and tell the top of your head to let go. Just let go..."

.

Strange, ethereal beings emerge in his mind's eye. They move in a graceful, poetic manner as light glitters bright inside darkness. All six look almost identical, save for the unique insignia each one bears symbolizing an element. He perceives their permission and steps foot onto Golden Land. The glowing triad of triangles resting between a split horizon, surrounded by floating plateaus, resembles an iconic painting from a famous fantasy.

Baralai recalls a verse from the Book of Mudora: "In a realm beyond sight, the sky shines gold, not blue. There, the Triforce's might makes mortal dreams come true."

.

Eons stretch the smallest moments, and Baralai stands before the fourth dimensional gateway. Magical stone wall, missing mystical gems, and sleeping sword blocks his path to the physical realm. Time echoes holy, harmonious music. Baralai identifies the prolonged pitches, understands the ancient notes, and gazes anew at inversion.

Pedestal absent of its Blade of Evil's Bane. Door of Time open at its seal. Spiritual Stones present on its altar. Link slumbers on while Baralai walks. A tall, dark man enters. They cross paths and initiate eye contact. Sparks flare under conflicting energies.

Lightning crackles. White horse gallops. Hot pursuit.

.

Carnage interrupts the premonition from beyond the dusk-lit threshold. Clashing metal. Human screams. Crumbling homes. This man laughs, milking amusement from Baralai's bewilderment. As if responsible. As if proud – "Who are you?"

Golden eyes glare crimson. Sun-burnt skin darkens under the declining sun. "I am Ganondorf, King of the Gerudo. I will soon become King of this land once I acquire the Triforce and rule over the Sacred Realm!"

Morbid dreams of grandeur hold no relevance, no solid foundation in reality – maybe in a fantasy, an unreal world –

Laughter mocks his retreat; Baralai witnesses a hostile takeover.

.

Monsters invade the market town. Giant humanoid hounds and skeleton cutthroats hunt innocents for slaughter. Shops, bazaars, and vendors are torn asunder, destroyed by spiked maces and poisonous swords. A mask salesman flees, lugging his wares; Stalfos surround him, and a Moblin raises his spear – "Blizzard!"

Frostbite stalls the killing blow. Cold, righteous fury fuels the Heavenly Strike. Stalfos dodge inevitable impalement. Baralai resists tyranny, chaos, and destruction; Ganondorf corrupts the Sacred Realm. He reaches out and the Triforce separates upon contact, scattering, save for one.

The desert thief screams at the Goddesses as power marks his bittersweet triumph.


Title: Attachment

Fandom: Final Fantasy VII

Crossover: Final Fantasy X

Characters: Aerith, Tidus

Theme: punishment and reward

Rating: PG

Summary: They helped their loved ones save the world and now the memory of their sacrifices haunt them in the afterlife. Crossover.

A/N: A companion piece to mako_lies's Abandon.

"Heeey~! Watcha doin?"

Startled by the casual exuberance, Aerith expects to see Zack again– looking for her, keeping her company; that's what he does– but for once the Lifestream surprises her. This young and energetic teen jogs across the flower field to reach her, soles so fast Aerith cannot see them touch the grass– like a sun racing around the world forever out of reach.

"Hiya! I've never seen you around before."

Giggle. Flirtatious smile. "Hiya. I can say the same for you." Blue eyes crinkle.

"Did you just die?"

Gravity seizes the heart that no longer exists. A dead wind steals her breath away. Bewilderment breaks the spell and Aerith straightens herself, speechless. He spoke his question like a child, innocent in its curiosity; now he looks away, kicking at the dirt. "...cuz, you know, you're staring down at your world, watching your friends live, right?"

Aerith manages to smile, somehow. "Did you... just die, too?"

"Nah. I kinda... disappeared, I guess. I wish I did, though." Before she can ask what he meant by "disappear," clarity kills her all over again. "So my friends would stop looking for me. I wish they'd forget their memories and move on."


Fandom: Final Fantasy X

Title: Pleasure Doing Business

Pairing: Auron/Lulu

Theme: Service

Rating: G

Summary: Just another day at work, on a lovely rainy day. AU

A/N: Revised from the 3-sentence mini-meme and dedicated to mako_lies. :3

The office closes in 5 minutes. Blazers and knee-length skirts run faster than the wind on their way to their respective cars. Lulu loves rainstorms and prefers walking, since she has never cared for convenient transportation and spots her boss's associate from Japan standing before the glass double doors, glaring through sunglasses in a state worse for wear — one arm slung in a cast, his free hand clasping a suitcase.

Lulu dares to approach him, opening her umbrella inside even though it's bad luck, but she wants to challenge fate today, and says,

"Would you like me to escort you?"


Fandom: Final Fantasy X

Title: Breaking Point

Pairing: Braska/Auron

Theme: Service

Rating: PG

Summary: Auron witnesses society collapse, despite the efforts of a devoted doctor. AU

A/N: Revised from the 3-sentence mini-meme and dedicated to deadcellredux. :3

Braska watches the world wither as pandemic strikes through fomite transmission and society falls apart; victims stay home, healthy people forsake intimacy. His colleagues search for answers to an imaginary cure, and the famous doctor heads the case of tracing the devil's magic back to its origins… with little success.

Every day Braska loses someone he loves, someone he cares for — his family, his friends — yet his bodyguard maintains a stoic mask, never allows this horror to move his heart, and comforts this kind soul in place of his deceased wife.

They have each other until the day they die.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Second Chances

Characters: Baralai, Yuna

Theme: punishment & reward

Rating: PG

Summary: Baralai finally has the chance to fly – in the wake of a nightmare.

A/N: A companion piece to my longer one-shot of the same title, Second Chances.

Tweeeee~

"What are you doing, Lady Yuna?"

Yuna gasps and twirls to face her intruder. The Praetor approaches, arms folded at his back, treading with a languid step in his walk. She smiles, self-conscious. "Good morning, sleepy-head."

Baralai attempts to conceal his frown behind his collar, as much as his shame. "...it is the late afternoon. No one thought to wake me up."

"You needed your rest. You deserve it." Yuna faces the horizon again as rushing wind carries the last of her tears. Baralai recognizes acceptance, of bidding adieu to a long-lost friend. "After what you've been through."

Footsteps weigh on crimson-polished metal, until they stop on the opposite side. Baralai touches the outstretched wing, curiosity a guise to his discomfort. The likeness has been sculpted feather by feather. He remembers a time where Summoners used to fly. Heartbreak has clipped the mockingbirds' freedom, yet this nightingale taught herself how to fly.

As the clouds above move closer, looking so dissatisfied, and the ground below grew colder, the heartless wind kept blowing. Baralai used to be his own protection, but now he has lost direction.

Baralai flies for the first time, only to fall when reality comes crashing back down.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Bermuda Triangle

Characters: Jecht, Baralai, Braska, Auron, Yunalesca

Theme: Parallel Roles

Rating: PG

Warnings: ancestor/descendant theory

Summary: Jecht senses the spiritual resemblance.

Jecht sees it.

With the way that kid rips apart space, manipulates gravity to force-coalesce pyreflies into organic metal reminiscent of armor fashioned for Sin, and the fact they tried to intercept him once – liquid ice flares bright in brown eyes, platinum hair whips harsh against hostile energies. Long-ago loyalty must have possessed this prodigal sage somewhere down the road.

Braska falters in the face of familiar evil. Auron stands helpless before an invisible force. Jecht knows if they don't save him now – not an ancient entity, but a human being–

Baralai will become a zombie, just like her.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Youth vs Yevon

Characters: Baralai, Yaibal

Theme: Occult

Rating: PG

Spoilers: mild

Summary: Representatives from rivaling factions butt heads. Pre-FFX-2, before Baralai becomes Praetor and Yuna a sphere hunter.

A/N: Dedicated to owlmoose, Baralai/Yaibal prompt.

"Yevon scum!"

Shrill, reluctant, faltering - this insult only falls on distracted ears.

Baralai blinks, dubious, and stands from his praying position before Braska's statue. Boy no younger than fifteen fidgets under his inquisitive look and spats in defense to his accusatory silence. "W-what?"

"Pardon me, but... were you talking to me?"

"Y... yeah! Who else wears the symbols of Yevon here?"

"Who are you, may I ask?"

"Yaibal! I came here first! These Besaid spheres are now property of the Youth League!"

Incoming attempts of a wannabe bully does not amuse him. Baralai sighs, tempted to pick on the Youth League's "new guy." Islander kids run inside from the village, tripping over bare feet while tagging each other.

Mental light switches on.

"Hello, children."

"Hi, Sir Priest~!"

"Hey! Don't ignore m-!"

"I need your help, everyone. Listen to what I am about to tell you: this boy is true evil. He wants to steal High Summoner Yuna by tricking her to join the Youth League."

Chorus of angry shrieks resound. Yaibal pales and sputters and collapses on carpet when several children latch onto his limbs and tackle him down.

"What?! That's not true! He lies! He lies~!"


Fandom: Final Fantasy X

Title: Winds of Fate

Characters: Tidus, Yuna, Baralai

Theme: Parallel Roles

Rating: PG

Spoilers: major

Summary: In medias res: Tidus returns home with a new friend, just like his father before him. Alternate Reality. Baralidus. Companion piece to The Scholar.

A/N: This 200 word drabble is a prologue to a much grander story I plan to co-write with a close friend and wonderful writer, ladyshiba! Also known as Sorrow has a Human Heart on . ^^

Zanarkand.

Beautiful and desolate, foreign and in ruination; nothing quite like what Tidus imagined for a homecoming.

The rising sun mimics its decline yesterday, bringing to light everyone's dread and ultimate fear. Dawn shines on metal debris and lingering pyreflies within a melancholy sea, once upon a time vibrant and warm and filled with common leisure, lapping on a shore so imperfect and marred by ancient abuse Tidus laments the dream.

He stands at last and breaks the circle, pausing once to regard his Summoner. Hopeless sympathy touches her shoulder. Afraid to look up, afraid to reiterate excuses which have lost foundation, Yuna drops her head. Grief and resolve speaks volumes. She needs him. Yuna needs them now, more than ever. Tidus scales the small hill near their campsite and soon sees a young man not much older than himself. Dark-skinned, platinum blonde, brown eyes narrowed on the horizon - his arms are wrapped around his knees, sitting in his signature vulnerable pose.

He sits furthest from the group, seeking solitude to this madness; how ironic, when he belongs most in this world, yet Tidus can't feel any less connected.

'Tell me a story. Remind me how we first met.'


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Crossover: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Title: Touching Hearts with Harps

Characters: Baralai, Goddess Hylia, Zelda, Link, Impa

Theme: parallel roles

Rating: PG

Spoilers: major

Summary: Baralai plays the loyal guardian to the perfect princess in order to repent for his sins. Crossover. Post-FFX-2. Baralai/Zelda/Link

The Goddess waits by the young man's side.

She gazes upon an alien being, an old soul stolen within restless, imprisoning slumber. Hatred nests deep within his heart. Cradled in darkness he sleeps, chained to the surface, disembodied from his world.

Mogmas dug him out from ravaged earth. Parellas cleansed him in sacred water. Kikwis nursed him using nature's medicine. Ancient Robots provided a Timeshift stone to spark his awakening. Time crafts atoms and molecules and flesh and blood and bone; organic crystallization.

"Oh youth, guided by the servant of the goddess... Unite earth and sky... Bring light to the land..."

Emerging from the dream – or a memory? – Zelda opens her eyes.

Beneath her lies solid, wide, broad ground. Ancient stone structures and skyward cliffs surround her. Cool sunlight heats her cheeks. New sights and sensations amaze her, yet familiar holy music plucks at her heartstrings. Lounging on a nearby rock wall, he almost seems to blend there among the grass with his green robes and dark skin. In his hands he plays a harp. Her harp.

He looks up. He smiles. I am glad you are safe and sound. She gasps.

"You're... the voice in my head...!"

.

"We should hurry, Link. Now that your Loftwing is free, you should fly to the ceremony..."

Zelda trails off, pensive. Beside her stands her best friend, the one person she holds no secrets from. Link has always been such a good listener. Maybe he will understand.

"But before you go, I have to ask you something. I... I heard this voice a few moments ago. Did you hear it, too? It's been happening a lot lately. It's the strangest feeling... Almost like someone is calling out to me.

"Have you ever wondered what's beneath the clouds? Some say that it's an empty, barren place, or even that there's nothing at all down below, but I just have this feeling that they're wrong. Some of Father's old texts talk about a place called the Surface. The old tales describe a whole world down there, far more vast than Skyloft! The thing is, no one's ever been down there to see it, and our Loftwings won't fly through the cloud barrier.

"...But I can't help imagining the wild things that might be waiting down below. Someday I want to see for myself."

.

"Indeed. I have been waiting for you to descend from the sky."

"H-How do I know you didn't just send the tornado to steal me away? Why did you hurt Link? Why am I here?"

"For one..."

He pauses to pluck the golden instrument and it soothes her, despite her annoyance. How dare he manhandle a sacred relic of Skyloft that once belonged to the Goddess herself? Because I enjoy his music. Zelda blinks, dubious at this unbidden thought. I've never met him, have I? But... he feels so familiar...

His presence calms her, like a long-lost friend. Why?

"I had no hand in that attack. There are evil forces at work who are intent on exploiting you." His gentle and kind voice anchors Zelda back to the reality of her situation. "Second, a Demon Lord by the name of Ghirahim wishes to resurrect his master and he has set his sights on you."

"But, why me?"

"All will be revealed in due time."

Following his line of sight, an old hunched woman cloaked in exotic clothes stands at the exit of a sealed temple. Wrapped thrice around her forehead, a long grey braid swings like a pendulum.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: In Memory of Past Horrors

Characters: Baralai, Cid

Theme: Parallel Roles

Rating: PG

Summary: Cid forgives, but never forgets. Post-FFX-2.

Baralai breathes in the Bikanel heat. Nostalgia lingers in memory of explosions, drills, bloody murder, and friendship. Blowing sand and glaring light assaults his sight; somehow, Baralai misses these unpleasant sensations. Once he disembarks, that hulking mass of ruination reminds Baralai he does not belong here.

The driver walks ahead and Baralai takes a moment to recover from motion sickness, before treading man-made bricks. Beneath him he senses the unnatural absence of compact earth, metal plating torn from invasion. Baralai knows. Baralai remembers.

Al Bhed mill about, sweeping the area free from debris and rust. Some are equipped with weapons to decimate the rubble into more manageable pieces while others hosed the rust and blood off salvageable parts. Baralai spies their bald leader, barking orders and overseeing the clean-up operation. Upon his approach does Cid notice the Praetor's presence.

Cid sees the ghost of a dead man. Tall, humble, and open-hearted. Robes flicker and eyes implore communication. His niece trusts this man, journeyed through Hell and high water to save him - a friend, a lover, a leader of haters.

History repeats itself and this time he vows to make the right choice. Hatred and death shall be consequences, never again.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X/-2

Title: Catalyst

Characters: Baralai, Kinoc

Theme: Occult

Rating: PG

Summary: Baralai begins his reconnaissance mission in the name of Yevon. Crimson Squad. Pre-FFX.

Baralai shields his eyes from the sun, hand outstretched to cast shade. His sigh breezes the impossible humidity. Hand on his hip, he scans his surroundings; sand, dunes, and more sand occupied by pitched tents and nervous recruits. The horizon ripples beneath a clear blue sky.

The first day of training. His first day of reconnaissance.

Maester Kelk Ronso entrusted him a secret task, an honor for a humble priest such as himself, and yet...

'How will I be able to keep tabs on Maester Kinoc if he insists on privacy and special treatment? I must learn the true aim of this exhibition.'

Baralai muses Maester Kinoc organized everyone in teams, compacting individuals in consideration of their complementary strengths and weaknesses. Vague instructions demand they seek each other by reporting immediately to their designated stations. Before embarkment, a lieutenant provided each person a basic map of continuously-shifting geography.

Kinoc also issued uniform-custom guns. Square barrel, crimson insignia on hot metal, heavy clip loaded with death's favorite lead, and a difficult trigger.

The gravity of his sacrifices did not occur to Baralai until this put his religious tolerance to the test. 'Am I allowed, no, expected to use this?'


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Crossover: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Title: Courage of Farore

Characters: Baralai, Zelda, Fi, Link

Theme: Parallel Roles

Rating: PG

Spoilers: major

Summary: Zelda and Baralai are safe in the past. Link starts his first trial in the present.

A/N: I intended to write more drabbles in this chapter, but I decided I will post whatever I have finished and publish them in "parts." I'm sorry if the lack of chronology confuses the plot.

Baralai plucks at her heart strings like intimate memories of old. Ode to the Golden Goddess of Wind, he plays chipper, uplifting music. Zelda envisions freedom in the form of home, valiant Loftwings flying in every color of the rainbow, and the face she loves most. Link. Smiling, laughing, sleeping, like Baralai. "Will you teach me how to play the harp?" he said, once upon a time.

Baralai pours his heart out into the sky. He sings now in another's tongue, "Ieyui~ Nobomenu~," beneath sunlight that filters through the open ceiling, surrounded by Blessed Butterflies.

"In my world, old Gods have faded, but there still lives a mortal goddess. You are not alone in this universe."

Their memories permeate, the latest chilling her bones. Zelda does not dare approach, not after the revelation of their absolute relationship. The Hero of the Goddess. The original Hero. The man Goddess Hylia fell in love with. "You only like me because I remind you of Link."

Her heart aches. Zelda closes her eyes, praying only she knew how, conflicted. Liar. You are a liar, aren't you? Isn't it that I have feelings for Link... because he reminds me of you?

"Yojuyogo~ Hasatekanae~ Kutamae..."

.

"Master Link. As expected, I cannot follow you into this realm, for this trials calls out to your mind alone. This is the nature of places known as Silent Realms. They are domains of the spirit, accessible only to the Goddess's chosen hero. This particular trial, Farore's Silent Realm, tests the limit of your courage. Your spirit has temporarily separated from your physical body so that you may undertake this challenge. To reach the location of the flames that will enhance your sword, it is necessary for you to overcome this trial and undergo spiritual growth."

Light glows forth from his chest.

The Spirit Vessel; a mysterious plant that represents his spirit.

"If you take even a single step outside the protective circle you stand in..."

One step out and bloodlust screeches. Eyes flash crimson.

"...the Guardians of this realm will wake up and pursue you, Master."

Tear of Farore rests between them. One out of fifteen.

"If a Guardian manages to land even a single hit on you..."

Link dashes once the Guardian springs to life.

"...your spirit will shatter and you will fail the trial."

Leap of faith - within arm's reach -

"May the Goddess watch over you, Master."


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Two Of A Kind

Characters: Baralai, Seymour

Theme: Occult

Rating: PG

Warning: mild

Summary: They are part of the same mold; Yevon's manipulative children.

"Why do you serve such a despicable man?"

Baralai never dared to disagree.

He had been many things to many people. Maester. Summoner. Monster. Manipulator. Human. A willing teacher, to a willing victim.

Seymour opened his eyes to reality, exposed the reviled truths behind Sin's birth without mercy. Mentored him through everything - developing immunities, analyzing the intricacies of Yevonic politics, and corruption predating Yo Mika's time. Baralai inherited his silver-tongue and mysterious charm and pride of a sophisticate, retained some semblance of humility to admit gratitude.

They were distrusting buddies, but Seymour taught him how to live again.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: One-sided

Characters: Baralai, Paine

Theme: Second Best

Rating: G

Warning: mild

Summary: Old friends confront each other about choices made. In-game, Youth League partiality.

"What do you want?"

The Gullwings had planned to depart, before Baralai pulled Paine aside to talk in private.

"I want to thank you, without assuming you had anything to do with us – Gippal and I – being shot at. If it were not for you, I would not be standing here today. I owe you my life, but you must understand why I decide not to give it to you."

Paine scoffs and opts to be sarcastic. "I doubt you want it still. Considering the pain you must be going through–"

"You assume too much." She ignores his dark look.

"You still haven't told me. Whether or not you've discovered anything about what you saw two years ago. Nooj, he... he wouldn't tell me anything."

"You forget who I am now." Baralai looks away, evasive. "I am not at liberty to discuss this with you."

"You would if you knew, right?"

"In the end, you chose Nooj, so I can't say."

"...sorry for ignoring you back th–."

"Keep your apology. I do not want it." Paine scowls. Jackass. "I have nothing more I want to say. Goodbye."

When Paine leaves first does she realize he refused to show his back.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X

Crossover: Inception

Title: Your Dream Is The Scene Of The Crime

Characters: Auron, Yuna, Tidus

Theme: Parallel Roles

Rating: PG

Warning: epic win

Summary: To dream or not to dream? Inception parody, FFX-styled. Part 1/3.

A/N: First part of... I don't know, 3 parts? Or 5? It's dependent on the Inception trailers. I have too many plot bunnies to leave this as a stand alone. XD

Sunglasses lampshade madness.

Jecht sounds the siren. Auron makes his move.

.

"What's the most resilient parasite? A fantasy."

.

Round and round Yuna spins her staff,

spinning pyreflies, spinning the threads of her dream.

.

"One fantasy born from a Summoner can build cities."

.

Starlight ignites the universe. Pyreflies

roam through planets, and Zanarkand reincarnates.

Tidus does not recognize the people he sees

in Seymour Guado's sphere recording.

.

"A fantasy can transform the world and rewrite all the rules."

.

Atop the peak of Gagazet Mountain, a

statue-esque mural channels an eternal sleeping waterfall.

.

"Which is why... the story must end."


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Mocha

Pairing: Baralai/Yuna

Theme: Parallel Roles

Rating: G

Warning: none

Summary: On another windy morning, they begin work at Starbucks. AU.

A/N: I consider this 'parallel roles' based on ladyshiba's daily life experiences in Pennsylvania's "hormonal" weather. We had a conversation yesterday, and I paraphrased her words that worked as a drabble. :3

Tagline - Her love for coffee started when he treated her to a mocha latte.

"I hate these high winds and bitter, bitter cold..." Yuna sneezes, and clasps her coat tighter. On another bitter windy day, Yuna has to walk to work. Her jeans don't shield her legs from turning lizard-like in this merciless, zero degree chill!

Bursting through the doors of Starbucks, Yuna arrives red in the face, a little dizzy and stiff. She wants a latte to defrost herself, now. Behind the counter, a handsome tan coworker welcomes her. "Good morning, Yuna. Would you like some hot chocolate to warm up?"

Yuna blushes. "Thank you, Baralai. I'd love to have some."

Baralai does what he does best - routine efficiency. Hot milk, melted chocolate, and brisk stirring; he even adds the little marshmallows Yuna loves so much. He concocts the cure in record time. At the smallest sip mocha sears her tongue, killing her cold from the heart first on its way to the stomach. Baralai smiles at her bashful contentment.

Yuna remembers the day she wandered in alone, looking for a job, and he had been there, gracious and sympathetic. By the following month, he started training her, and always kept his hands to himself.

Nowadays he drives her home.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Crossover: Inception

Title: Your Dream Is The Scene Of The Crime

Characters: Shuyin, Yuna, Baralai

Theme: Parallel Roles

Rating: PG-13

Warning: epic win

Summary: The difference between dream and reality; the fine line has been desecrated. Inception parody, FFX-2-styled. Part 2/3.

A/N: Ultimately had to change the title, because Reflection really wasn't doing it for me. XD

Lightning storms.

Shuyin plays the organ.

Vegnagun awakens.

.

"Never recreate from your memory."

.

Lightwaves.

Trema the Unsent fluxes

the collective unconscious; Yevon's

Zanarkand in its former glory.

.

"Always imagine new places."

.

Two years, the Eternal Calm.

Yuna dashes the bustling streets of Luca.

Pyreflies flee in the form of a ghostly moogle.

.

"He's hiding something..."

.

The Gullwings infiltrate Bevelle;

there the Praetor stands guard at the entrance.

Right hand Razor Rod, left hand magic and machina.

.

"...and we need to find out what that is."

.

Nooj wanders the Underground.

Baralai investigates. Vegnagun has gone rogue

like Spira's three beloved faction leaders.

.

"We got to break out of here."

.

Den of Woe.

Music of destruction echoes.

Soldiers kill comrades,

driven insane.

.

"Give him the kick!"

.

Friends reunite at the crossroads.

Unanswered questions resurrect inner demons.

A cloud of pyreflies possesses an innocent, vengeful man.

.

"This was not a part of the plan!"

Yuna falls asleep in her songstress attire

and dreams of him – of them together – in a

world where tragedies come true.

.

"Wake me up~!"

.

Lovers run from the law.

Crimson soldiers aim their rifles.

War criminals are terminated, torn apart

from one another's embrace.

.

"Wake me up!"


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Love Letter #1

Pairing: Baralai/Yuna

Theme: Second Best

Rating: G

Warning: none

Summary: Love letters sent over the course of Yuna's uneventful life. Post-game, Normal Ending. Hints of Tidus/Yuna.

Dear Lady Yuna,

I hope life has been kind to you.

It had only been four days after the Vegnagun crisis when Yuna received a letter via air mail. Crisp, cream parchment sealed with personal feelings. Lulu held onto it until Yuna returned from her daily morning swim.

I write this to you

As we are many miles apart,

Surrounded by a crescendo of sounds.

His opening poetic lines flatter her, despite the paternal look Wakka throws her way. I am sitting in a sandwich shop right now, ordering my lunch when you happen to cross my mind, he had written, Gippal teases me to no end, of course, but Nooj on the other hand...

Elegant handwriting lightens in sync to his anxiety, his words bolder by polite flirtation and tentative fondness. Her mind's eye conjures his present image unbidden, back straight, legs folded, lovely eyes focused, his handsome face calm in concentration. The silly smile and subconscious giggle scares Wakka.

I wonder how you are doing. Do you fare better than I come sleepless nights? It haunts me, and so much has been left unspoken between us...

Yes. Like her love for a fleeting dream.

Yuna closes her eyes.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Love Letter #2

Pairing: Baralai/Yuna

Theme: Second Best

Rating: G

Warning: none

Summary: Love letters sent over the course of Baralai's busy work schedule. Post-game, Normal Ending. Hints of Tidus/Yuna.

A/N: Edited, as of 01/29/2012.

Dear Baralai,

I'm glad to hear from you.

Seven days since his first letter had been sent, the wrinkled response lies clutched in his hands. The Kilikan ambassador decided to make her cousin's privacy difficult to accomplish; right now two adults fall back into childhood routine.

Your way with words always impress me. Have you ever thought about writing your own book? But I don't see you writing an autobiography so maybe not...

Did you know? Wakka and Lulu have a baby now! I babysit him sometimes when the parents want to... um... Never mind.

Well, how are you feeling nowadays?

"Finally!" Paper almost rips upon possessive ensnarement, and Baralai steps aside to dodge her undignified lunge. "Do not force me to employ gravity on you." Whole-hearted threat falls useless upon insolence, and Baralai keeps eyes in the back of his head, walking faster when sensing Dona approach.

I have trouble falling asleep, too, for my own reasons... Maybe we should find a way to eliminate this problem we share. Any suggestions?

Oh, I know! You should come vacation in Besaid.

If you ever need a friend, I'm here.

"Hmm? Well, sounds like she wants–."

"Quieten."


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Cry For Help

Characters: Baralai, New Yevon Council

Theme: Occult

Rating: PG-13

Warning: crime

Summary: His last resort, a desperate act wrapped within conspiracy. Post-game.

A/N: Plot bunny that evolved into my guilty pleasure. Whew. Got this out of my conscience. XD This drabble commemorates change and rebirth for our community! :D

1) BEHOLD THE HOLY WORDS OF HEAVEN_MONUMENT. THEY DO NOT BELONG TO ME.

"I am glad you all could attend today."

"What is the meaning of this, Praetor?"

They hold a meeting off the record. Door locked by tradition, the room soundproof and a favorite of Maesters passed. Mysterious urgency incriminates his impatience, of tireless months gone and excuses made and tolerated.

Baralai smiles. No more.

"Are you familiar with the tale of the Ouroboros?"

"Ahem. Praetor, if I may presume... we have no time for your scholarly inclinations–."

"It is the snake that eats its own tail, a symbol of life, death, and rebirth. A vision of immortality and renewal. It promotes power, elegance, and dynamism.(1) Fascinating, isn't it? We should aspire towards that."

"...We do not follow."

"Is this in any way relevant to our goals?"

"But of course. This has everything to do with New Yevon. You see..."

Chair screeches. Hands in his sleeves, Baralai circles the room. One step at a time.

"I grow weary of this cycle. We reap fruitless grounds none of you desires to abandon. It has become apparent to me..." Head held high, Baralai glowers at his fellow men and women and withdraws an instrument of secrecy. "Compromise became an option impossible to plant."


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Daylight Dies, Midnight Reigns

Pairings: Tidus/Yuna/Baralai

Theme: Second Best

Rating: G

Warning: a broken heart

Summary: And the fairy-tale ended. Good Ending. Implied Yuna/Baralai.

"This beach belongs to us!"

They take a walk, away from the celebrations. Tidus breathes in the salty breeze of the ocean, throwing his arms to reach for the starry sky. Yuna giggles at his enthusiasm. "Tonight is our night, isn't it?"

"Yeah! We're the ones who saved Spira, you know, after defeating Sin last y– I mean, three years ago! We have a holiday all to ourselves!" Tidus pulls her into an embrace; twirling together, they stumble and laugh together, until Tidus hugs her close. "Just you and me..."

Yuna squeezes him, eyes downcast. Poignant pause. Gulp. "...you mean the world to me. I love you very much." Her confession steals his breath away and ferocious butterflies flutter in his stomach. Tidus gazes into her eyes and strokes her beautiful face. Yuna blushes. Sadness hides behind the smile. "Those two years without you... I almost lost the will to live. All my life I... I only knew how to die, as a Summoner, then I learned how to live. It was so hard..."

"Yuna..." She never told him this before. Not in full detail.

"I thought I lost you. I almost did." Sigh. "...but, I almost lost him, too."

"Huh? Who?"

Yuna steels her heart to confess the most difficult truth; she steps back and touches his shoulder, a firm gesture neutral in its imminent finality. "You are my best friend. I really hope you can understand..."

"Yuna..." A lump grows in his throat, fearful of the tense atmosphere. "What are you saying?"

"You mean everything to me. You are the reason why I'm alive. You make me very happy." Yuna clears her throat, losing the nerve. "I-I don't know how to say this gently..."

"I-I don't get it! Why all of a sudden–?"

"Two years." Grief echoes in those simple words, days of dreaming, wishing, waiting for a miracle that may never happen. Their life together felt too good to be true that it lacked something. "...two years have passed, Tidus. More than two years, and... at the end of my journey with the Gullwings... where no matter how I looked for you, I couldn't find you... I dared to consider moving on. And there you were, waiting for me. I didn't know how to explain my happiness then, but... it... i-it took me a long time to realize... I've become a different person once you woke up."

"But, but you haven't given me enough time!"

"...I-I know. I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry. I didn't... I don't want to hurt your feelings. Not at all. You... you will catch up in time, naturally. It was the same for me. At many turns, I was hurt, I had to listen to the truth. I... I heard it so many times... from different people, as different words... I... I learned a lot. I learned to be selfish. I learned to be strong... even without you... and before we reunited... I... I started developing feelings... for someone else.

"I'm sorry."


Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

Title: Sketch

Characters: Naminé, Roxas, Axel, Xion, Terra, Ventus

Theme: Second Best

Rating: G

Spoilers: mild

Summary: Another Side, Another Story: Sora's evil twin keeps Naminé company, Riku's light reminisces friends lost, and two figures of the past lament on individual failures. Three drabbles in connection to myDo You Accept It? series. Inspired by Birth by Sleep's reconnect.

Endless raindrops. Solitary footsteps. Neon lights. A cloaked stranger. A World That Never Was.

Teenager shrouded in black sits alone on a twilit clock tower. Two hundred fifty-five days earlier, this Nobody has been given a name.

A gloved hand offers sea-salt ice cream, convincing act of affection. The boy receives it from his fire-red best friend and smiles. A girl with black hair, who resembles a long lost childhood friend; she turns her face from the perpetual sun, smiling, becoming a departing memory.

The setting sun belonging to some distant islands.

Home sweet home.

I scrawl these images into my journal, preserving clandestine visions on liquid ink and solid paper; my unique power allows me to perceive a lot of things by sixth sense. Fresh wind blows through the open window, billowing white curtains. Smooth, scratchy, and expert strokes of an artist, tropical colors blending seamless on two-dimensional white.

I hear her hand brush the crumbs of crayon off her latest piece, smiling, like the girl before her, holding the sketchbook low to admire her work.

I smirk, pausing my busy hand at last, and say the name opposite of her hero, aware she thinks of him, too.

"Riku."

.

Is this a dream?

Independent and incomplete, apart from Sora, Roxas munches on sea-salt ice cream — like Axel, alive, not dead, who sits to the far right of me. Xion — I finally remember her name after all this time — she's eating sea-salt ice cream, too, beside me, beside Roxas.

Exposed to their emotions of lazy joy, transient contentment, and poignant peace brainwashes my rationality. I am so happy, I don't care if this is a dream. My friends are always alive in my memories, no matter the cruelty of reality. One by one, plucked by the darkness — friends leave my life just like that, fallen to their fate. Only the strongest of hearts remain human.

The sweet-sour taste of my favorite childhood treat reminds me of pleasant things, sad things, unforgettable things.

Father… wherever you are, be it heaven or hell…

Sora, Koi, Tōya, Kairi… all my best friends…

Master Zen, Naminé… everyone from the Organization…

I pause in mid-bite and raise my eyes to the crimson gold white horizon, the twilight sun burning my retinas in the form of countless memories. Xion's recognition joins my voice, uttering his name, the one who impacted our lives the most.

"Riku."

.

A world far, far away, still beyond recovery from its dark and dismal state, restored to its former glory of starlit nights and miniature suns, of shooting stars and lamp lights in the minds of those who survived the tragedy eleven years ago.

A boy, pure light, and a girl, pure darkness — they nap shoulder to shoulder on a crown-shaped crescent seat, heads nestled together in serene slumber.

Movement rustles within ancient nightfall. Quiet so as to not startle them, Terra stands at his friend's side, hand resting on the bench, fondness overshadowing his guilt, his regrets, his numerous mistakes. A shady youth hovers near the girl on the opposite side, his gauntlet-garbed arms folded on top of the stone, staring at the pair, crystalline cold blue eyes frozen over with wisdom and universal secrets.

Sensing radiant magnitudes from two stalwart hearts, the brunette's eyes flutter open, lifting her face to acknowledge her guardian. Stirrings awaken her companion. His eyes open, too, blinking, as if awakening for the first time. Ventus smiles at Terra, who grins back, and look up to the sky.

Koi and Zenshin mimic their reverence and give voice to their dearly beloved, the light.

"Riku."


Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

Title: Reverse/Rebirth

Characters: Xehanort, Riku, Ventus

Theme: Parallel Roles

Rating: PG

Spoilers: major

Summary: The Heartless Boy has no friends. None left, at any rate. Birth by Sleep, part of my Do You Accept It? series.

I stand on the land of my birth and same old beach, my childhood, a lifetime I believed I'd never return to.

Memories deceive my eyes with washed-out illusions. Eyes that cease to mirror the sky now resemble afternoon sunlight instead. Nostalgic sounds tantalize my new senses. Sonic vibrations rupture my ears. Drafts too hot whistle in my chest cavity. Leaves so sharp they are piercing in its innocent rustles. Twitters echo clear from ridiculous distances. Waves lap slow on grains of golden warmth. Memories sing along with nature, like a seashell reflecting the emotions inside my heart.

I face the ocean, not unlike peculiar youths before and after me – many, many years ago and many years later – watching it ripple and glitter for so long it stings my retinae.

"This world is just too small."

Soon one boy will return home as an old man, wrapped in mystery and telltale black cloak, where the night falls and the world sleeps. He dumps his limp package at the plateau, a comatose preteen boy.

"There, you see?" Speaks parting words to him, convinced of his fate too soon.

"An empty world, like a prison. I imagine you'll be right at home."

In my mind's eye the image returns; not so much a boy since he wants to be a man, the youth turns to acknowledge someone.

Familiar long bangs are parted, shadowing his dark cheeks, and then his short hair lengthens in milliseconds, a rare smile to grace his pale, impassive face. Silver tresses lighten into platinum, turquoise eyes peek behind untrimmed bangs; familiar faces I wish I can claw beyond recognition.

Orange light burns behind closed eyelids, imprinting another extension of a memory not mine. The old man turns to walk away, ignorant of the imminent miracle.

A hand rises – "A Keyblade?" – pinpricks and dozens and showers of starlight dance in the dark. Hearts have touched in slumber, a link missing and station restored, awakening as one; eyes re-open to gaze anew at a cloudy sky.

Ire floods my heart. No matter where I go and what I see, my friends are nowhere to be found. Light always mocks me without mercy, tantalizing me since the moment I lost everything. Clenching my fists, scowling, I scream at an ocean I know will never answer back.

"Let my friends go! Give them back their hearts! You big, fat jerk!"


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Fractured

Characters: Baralai, Kinoc, Jyscal, Yunalesca, Zaon, Trema

Theme: Ending as the Beginning

Rating/Warnings: PG-13, for violence, death, and mind-rape

Word Count: 1000

Summary: Trema flees into the halls of Via Infinito and Baralai descends into darkness, the depths of pure insanity. Pre-game.

Author's Notes: I referenced four short pieces from my The Pilgrimage series and weaved them into these drabbles.

EDITED as of March 16, 2012 at 9:00 PM.

He never expected this. In his most gratifying nightmares, yes.

Where his death plays again and again and again once more. His last memory alive agonizes him in the afterlife, where no Farplane promises peace.

There he stands, fortifying the path.

Warrior monks die quick deaths, but that man he wants to save him for last. Baralai desires to see him hurt, and savor his suffering.

With a single shot, the rifle clatters to the ground. Kinoc cradles his wrist, suddenly sways on his feet, forced onto his knees under invisible pressure. Baralai bolsters gravity; relentless pain assaults his internal organs.

Baralai will not stop, no matter how much Kinoc screams, no matter how much it exhausts him, until that sinner cannot move, or breathe, or even survive. Baralai will crush everything for what he is worth. He is worth nothing, and he will become nothing in death.

'Nothing will stop me from fulfilling this revenge.'

Baralai breathes, like the first time Maester Kinoc taught him how to clear his mind and control his emotions on the battlefield.

All the wrath he never released then, for the sake of propriety, for stealth —

"Why won't you stay dead?! You insufferable cur!"

.

"My son must be stopped... You are... his living legacy... You must perish!"

Snow storms.

Whimsical manslaughter.

"What I do, Baralai, I do to enlighten you."

The wind roars, then howls, and he prays, collapses on his knees, prays to die, cries his heart out into white skies, and a blood-curdling scream shakes the very foundations of the mountain.

Adrenaline, pain, and anguish injects poison into his veins, and Baralai absorbs the rage of a thousand Ronsos. Goes on a rampage, lashes out at illusory foes — split-second meditation — and when he conjures Waterga to envelop his body, soul frozen over and mind shattering into diamond dust, does he regain his senses and vows vengeance in the name of his fallen allies.

(fallen by his berserk mindless bloody red hands)

"My master may have dyed my heart black, but he... Maester Seymour taught me how to live again, and you... You stole his will to live! You are not a father. You are not worthy of the title Maester. You are a monster." Baralai snarls. "Like father, like son!"

Spindly limbs stretch and twist into polished pieces of a black jigsaw. Baralai abandons the elemental puzzle undeserving of completion.

.

First Summoner of the millennium, daughter of Yevon; her soul has taken refuge below Bevelle, alongside her Guardian. The image of an amorous embrace ripples — Lord Zaon disappears, dismissed by his lady.

Cataracts of lethargic warmth flood bodies, blinding survivors, silencing the fallen, zombifying the brave. Baralai glares, gritting his teeth, sluggish and defenseless. Fiend-form forsaken, Yunalesca advances, unhindered by bullets and flames. Naked arms outstretch, transparent hands touch his face, "You are a true warrior, with a brave heart... like my Lord Zaon..." an ancient chill cripples his willpower.

Foreign sounds stifle his heartbeats, illusions deluge his mind. Baralai collapses on his knees, clasping his staff to his chest, desperate. Pity embraces him, a Summoner's graces.

"Poor creature… let me be your liberator…"

"Lord Baralai! Baralai, sir! Resist that fiend's seduction!"

"Please, do not… I… I will… stand my ground… and be strong…"

On the brink of death, the face of his savior emerges in his mind's eye. 'Lady Yuna…'

A straggling pyrefly glows — "I will stand my ground and be strong! I don't know when it will be, but someday I will conquer it. And I will do it without false hopes."

— and Yunalesca lets him go.

Rising forth like a spiral, Baralai begins to dance.

Millennium-long rebellion blasts into being and Baralai plants his feet firm. Razor rod parts the sea of raw turbulence. Yunalesca abandons mercy and re-animates the ultimate demon, platinum silk twining into its brain-stem.

"You are not in the proper state to Send anyone, son of Yevon."

He charges once the coast clears, into the jaws of Hell.

He stomps on skulls that lash out with venomous fangs, feet light and fast, bouncing on the stairs of his demise, and Baralai leaps to land before the lounging ghost. Crackling ice dispels weaponry, gun withdrawn and left hand numb, right hand ready with another pistol, and Yunalesca flicks her wrist again to disarm him. Baralai plunges to punch her —

Instantaneous force-field propels him away. Teleport spell warps him up to speed, fists glowing white.

Gravity amplifies his rapid descent; collision extracts the parasite. Pyreflies dispel solid form, permeating the chamber. Human hands constrict around a woman's neck, connects target to recipient. Absorption risks sanity, causes evil light to seep into (from) his skin.

Yunalesca shrieks like a siren, relinquishes Mind Blast —

And calm delirium reminds Baralai of his true aim.

.

"I must protect my beloved... I must protect... I... must..."

A shadow of his former glory, armor golden in its splendor, and Cadabolg's shade in hand — there stands the Paragon of living nightmares. Legend speaks of Lord Zaon's passion surpassing that of the sun; now a demon whispers in his right ear, using selfless wiles to fester the flames of loyalty. Obsession in full bloom, and an undying love.

Baralai brandishes his staff, "I have people to protect as well. Please, forgive me, Lord Zaon," and lunges, undaunted by his enlightened form.

Sparks ignite when they cross steel for claw.

.

Rumor has it Trema's previous profession involved taming beasts. It made sense, why he unleashed his precious fiends into the catacombs of Bevelle, making secrets their nest.

Baralai approaches him unarmed; the man had no intention of fighting, of surviving.

Stardust shrivels into ashes, spelling his death wish.

"Do not think I don't know who you are, Baralai. Wen Kinoc's beloved soldier, Seymour Guado's favorite vassal, and Kelk Ronso's trusted protégé... Lady Yuna may be the paragon of pastlessness, but you — You are the Navigator of Spira's future!"

Baralai left him to rot, in denial of crimes committed and past-lives.


Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Title: Diabolos Incarnate

Character: Baralai

Theme: Violation

Rating: PG

Summary: The onset of eternal suffering. Original Game Canon.

The written word dissatisfies him.

Drives him to inaction, the Mevyn's name second on the blacklist.

Black ink bleeds onto paper, unlike the bite of the bullet on crimson crying skin. A feather quill constructs a message of compromise, the feel of softness on tense knuckles like an angel's blessing. Nothing like the silvery cold metal of a pistol, the pull of the trigger releasing an explosion of bitter heart.

Silence and excessive scrawling mutes the memory - of a scream, of a murder misplaced, of an unsolved conspiracy spun.

Sin drowns him to want and never reach for the light.


Title: Sacred Signature

Fandom: Final Fantasy X-2

Crossover: Eternal Sonata

Characters: Baralai, Frederick Francois Chopin

Theme: Body Swap

Rating: G

Spoilers: mild

Summary: Time ticks like a pocket watch; it had never been his to begin with.

Author's Note: Have I ever mentioned how much I love crossovers?

Somewhere out there, surely another version of me exists.

A gentleman, even in another life - someone frail and in failing health, bedridden and forever dreaming into a fever, someone pain-stricken with the reality of tuberculosis.

Baralai amuses himself one day in his office, mind drifting from politics and documents. The circles and connecting curves of his hand-script twist into classical music. On one hand, fingers drum wooden piano keys - the perfect medium for his experimental imagination where passion superimposes tedium.

He writes, weaponizes his music, summons the pocket watch of healing light to rewrite damage done, fights against his merry band of friends to ensure his control -

"This entire world is my dream! I will not let you destroy it!"

And Baralai blinks.

Sharp and flat notes dominate the paper sheet full of fugues set on repeat - ink raindrops blot white, of a love never meant to last - a revolution spells history for a war-torn country, a home he can never return to -

"Never extinguished by any means, burning without wood or oil..."

He flexes fingers that itch to channel his will, picks up his pen, drops it, tests his grip on a quill instead, and writes.


Title: Unbalanced World

Fandom: Final Fantasy VI

Character: Terra

Theme: Violation + Body Swap

Rating: PG

Spoilers: for the opening

Summary: The Overworld will return to order someday, but not for the Esper-girl. OGC.

Author's Note: I hope the body swap between Terra and the Magitek Armor via nightmare isn't too ambiguous. Also, my first time stitching! :D Critique!

Tagline - Magitek Armor marches on snow-field (over and over again). When will the nightmare ever end?

Magitek Armor marches on snow-field.

A golden crown glints in the snowfall. Whispers, deadly whispers, they numb hir mind, hir emotions, hir sense of self.

Dark clouds and lightning storms dampen hir independence into submission.

'The Witch,' they call hir, whose trance-like eyes see the light for the snowflakes, because nothing has ever shined so bright, so transient than the flames of a fifty lives stolen.

Taint consumes innocence in a single breath. For every breath sie takes, sie feels her heartbeat less.

Hir heart beats for a mad man, after all.

Snow melts on eyelids as tears.

.

Fiends and human companions alike fall before hir feet - only to await incineration. Cold-blooded hands navigate mechanic controls, a puppet pulling a puppet by the strings.

Blasts of bioshock bend wolves and mammoths and Narshe's elite guard until they break. Corpses pave the path, point the white trail red, into darkness.

Victory must feel like vicarious revenge, because the frozen-esper crystallizes hir freedom, murders third-degree masters. Hir world does not return to order, but hir name symbolizes earth ravaged by military conquests; land nourished by thousands of tears and bought for the lives slain by hir sword.

Sie descends deeper -

- breaks into pieces only for magitek technicians to rebuild hir.

Magitek Armor marches on snow-field.

(a puppet of the empire pulls this puppet by the strings)

Sie meets resistance at Narshe's doorstep, unleashes esper-powered laser beams to clear chaos. Missiles bomb homes (over), strips human flesh clean (and over) and hir chassis strain under blunt force trauma (and over again).

Sie moves blind and voiceless, always have and always will be, "she won't breathe unless we tell her to" - confusion clouds crackling -

- until sie awakens and remembers hir long-forgotten humanity.

"My name is... Terra..."


Title: Unbalanced World II

Fandom: Final Fantasy VI

Characters: Terra, Arvis, Locke

Theme: Amnesia

Rating: PG

Spoilers: major

Summary: Terra experiences kindness after eighteen years of long-forgotten-cycling misery. OGC. Part I

Kindness rejuvenates control back into her broken body, acts as a blanket to protect from cold dreams (and cackling laughter that short-circuits her brain like sharp lightning) and kindling light lulls her from ever merciless slumber.

Fire crackles, muted by distance (fire beams terminate the unfortunate) the embers of peace and silence burning to provide warm shelter. Kindness speaks to her, an old man who smiles through conscientious wrinkles. Terra blinks, remembers how to blink, remembers nothing - water stings cobalt eyes.

Kindness breaks the instrument of her slavery, nurses her back to health.

Reality comes knocking at the door.

.

Terra does not remember her great escape, does not remember the journey to the mine caves, nor the crossing of a bridge, or the hostile voices of her pursuers. Terra remembers darkness, remembers stumbling through black walls and eerie sounds before enemies corner her (you are all my enemy), remembers her capture (by whose hand?) -

"...I can't remember anything... past or present..."

- remembers falling - breaking into pieces - falling forever -

"You have amnesia?!"

Kindness stuns her into awakening. Colors invade her vision, kind colors - blue clothes, yellow and green and orange bandana, grey eyes the equilibrium of twinkling concern. Newfound strength numbs the pain in her ankle and Terra stands tall, lifts her chin to meet eye contact, dares to assume this man allows her freedom to speak.

"A man said my memory would come back..."

"Give it time." Unknown sentiment lightens the darkness over his face. "You're safe with me! You have my word!" His bravado confounds her, as does his dazzling grin. "I won't leave you until your memory returns!"

He holds out his hand. Timidity clasps calloused fingers a moment later and squeezes them tight, scared to let go, scared to be dreaming.

Something inexplicable warms her heart.


Title: Wayfinder

Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

Characters: Baralai, Xehanort, Terra

Theme: Outside Looking In

Rating: G

Spoilers: Xehanort's overall backstory (and Terra's fate, plus the end of Kingdom Hearts, and plot mechanics of Dream Drop Distance)

Summary: Baralai dives into the memory of all hearts. Fanonical background for my Do You Accept It? series.

Author's Note: Tribute to upcoming Kingdom Hearts title Dream Drop Distance. Beware my headcanon! :D

Baralai drops into a distant dream.

He used to be someone else, once upon a time – twice – thrice – multiple lifetimes ago.

Baralai remembers stomping across desolation, keys sticking out of the ground like dead daffodils – and a name, another – a man with no heart – an ancient letter which marks the beginning of the end. Trail-worn traveler throughout forgotten years, master of magical blades and arcane darkness beyond his dying breath; his heart never stops beating.

He loses sight of the light (countless times), but has never lost sight of a promise. "In your hand, take this Key..."

Time and borrowed memories weather the voice, 'the light... it feels so warm...' where water washes away flesh, heart and soul swimming in the stream of memories –

"This world is just too small."

"... you will find me, friend – no ocean will contain you..."

"To a heart seeking freedom ... this boy sought to escape from his prison."

"...so long as you champion the ones you love."

"And he opened his heart to darkness."

"Riku!"

Afternoon tides carry him in destiny's embrace, and now he stands on a beach. Baralai breathes with eyes wide shut, and prays –

"One day, I will set this right."


Title: L'Impeto Oscuro

Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

Characters: Baralai, Xehanort, Terra (Riku and Ventus implied)

Theme: Amnesia

Rating: G

Spoilers: plot mechanics of Dream Drop Distance, secrets of Birth by Sleep

Summary: Baralai does not remember his home or his family. Only a little boy and the promise he made. Fanonical background for my Do You Accept It? series.

Author's Note: Tribute to upcoming Kingdom Hearts title Dream Drop Distance. Dedicated to heaven_monument for his wonderful contribution to headcanon. :3

To cross time you must cast off the flesh.

Before you can cross time, you must not exist.

You may only travel in one direction with the flow of time.

While crossing, you cannot rewrite the realities that occurred at those times.

He hears a voice in his head, his voice, the Earthshaker of planets – sees a little boy with silver hair and aqua eyes, sees a young man with long hair. He has traveled to the ends of the earth to find him, fight him, possess him, protect him – from myself, from another incarnation.

"Why are you so important to me? Is it because you are my friend, or my prized possession...?"

Gauntlet fingertips reach for empty air, and Gaia's Bane materializes from the memory unchained, the only memory belonging to the light. Sunlight glistens on heart-warming metal and blinds amber eyes adjusted to life-long darkness. Baralai remembers a lust for power, a journey for knowledge, details like his favorite letter (X) and his favorite numbers (thirteen; seven; one), but does not remember his home or his family. Only a little boy and the promise he made.

When Baralai travels through dark corridors, he flies on demon wings.


Title: Playground

Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

Characters: Riku, Selphie, Wakka, Tidus

Theme: Hospital

Rating: G

Spoilers: beginning of Kingdom Hearts

Summary: Riku dreams of change, of childish desires leading into darkness.

Author's Note: Snippet of Do You Accept It? Chapter 1.

Tagline - Kingdom Hearts uses dreams as a hospice for children with potential.

"What are you waiting for? Come on! Come on!"

Selphie tugs the prospective Keyblade Master by the hand, a girlish giggle and eager bounce to her step. They leap off the makeshift port and tread golden sand. Green eyes are a darker reflection than his own, crinkling at his annoyance.

"What is most important to you?" The capricious lilt stuns Riku into silence. Selphie giggles again and lets go, small fingers splayed on a yellow dress. Plastic bops the back of his head and he whirls around, spots an orange coif and roguish grin.

"Hey~! You okay?"

Something bounces at his periphery. Riku picks up the beach ball, in the motion of absentminded routine. He smirks, kicks it hard, and Wakka catches it fast. Brown eyes glint beneath the shade of sunlight.

"What do you want outta life?" Nonchalance dulls the surprise. Riku narrows his eyes instead, suspicious.

The reality around him feels too much like a lucid dream, like the preteen boy running passed them at the speed of lightning. Tidus flashes a smile, brown hair bleached by tropical heat and saltwater. "What are you most afraid of?"

And Riku watches his friends embark darkness for worlds beyond.


Title: Never Again

Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

Characters: Riku, Baralai (Eraqus implied)

Themes: Amnesia + Hospital

Rating: G

Spoilers: Hollow Bastion events, teeny tiny Birth by Sleep secrets

Summary: Baralai hospitalizes the superimposing pain of those in coexistence of his heart.

Author's Note: Snippet of Do You Accept It?, the climax.

"What're you doing? I said get out of here!"

His friends flee, because they have no choice. Heartless run amuck, darkness flooding from the Keyhole's seal, dystopian castle borders crumbling down, but Baralai doesn't move. Ansem stands before him, anchored by soulful light – but not for long.

It terrifies him how history repeats itself.

Baralai remembers falling – someone dear to him disappearing – embracing cold air –

Self-blame flares. No. Never again.

True identity forgotten,Baralai will never forget regret.

Riku restores his original body at the cost of his control, and collapses.

Racing against time, Baralai reaches out.

Never letting go of the light