Disclaimer: Final Fantasy X is a work of Square.
This Time Around
Tidus wanted Auron.
It was a rather strange feeling, one that had seemed to come upon him overnight, and he didn't quite know how it had managed to sneak upon him.
Looking back over the past few years, though, he could see the change in his feelings toward Auron had been gradual, slowly morphing from something like filial affection what they were now.
What that was, he didn't exactly know.
But he wanted Auron.
It was the one thing he was sure of, the one thing he was able to make sense out of in that whole tangled knot of emotions bouncing around inside him.
When he thought about this want (which was not often, it had this tendency to make him uncomfortable and so he mostly tried to avoid it), he tried to tell himself to forget about it. He was just seventeen, after all, and Auron thirty-five. Besides, the man was his guardian, and from another world even. Nothing said he was going to stay in Zanarkand forever. It was wrong that he should feel this way about Auron. Funny though, how it somehow didn't feel wrong.
He didn't even know how Auron felt about him.
For as long as Tidus had known him, Auron had always been so quiet, so careful with his words. He spoke little, saying only what he saw as necessary. His only method of comfort was to put a hand on Tidus' shoulder, briefly, although a couple of times when he was little he'd go and crawl in bed with Auron in the middle of the night. Auron had never objected, perhaps sensing his fear and loneliness.
Oh, he knew Auron cared for him, that it went beyond his promise to watch after Tidus. And Auron was proud of him and what he'd accomplished, even if he never showed it or admitted it. But past that, Tidus had no idea.
It was silly, however. That Auron would want him as much as he wanted Auron--that Auron would even want him at all? He was just a teenager. Not exactly inexperienced, thanks to a couple of curious guys on the school blitzball team he'd been a part of until he left for the Abes, but still several rungs below Auron on that ladder of experience. Or at least he assumed anyways. It wasn't as if Auron had ever gone around talking about his sex life (or lack of right now, Tidus was sure), or that he had asked. But there had to have been past lovers. The question was, were they female or male? Maybe both, who knew with Auron.
Really though, he should stop thinking about it. It was just stupid teenage lust, nothing would ever come of it. Besides, he had a game tomorrow. He had to get some sleep.
He woke early the next morning, as he usually did, whether he slept good or not. Last night had been one of the nots. He'd had a dream or two that had left his sheets in something of a mess. It was getting to be something of a regular occurrence these days.
"Morning!" he greeted cheerfully as he walked into the kitchen and spotted Auron slouched against the far wall.
One amber eye gazed solemnly at him, and Tidus grinned. It had taken him years to figure out Auron was not a morning person. He used to think Auron was just ignoring him, and it always used to make him so mad.
"Oh, I see. Haven't had your coffee yet? Don't tell me you forgot how to work the machine again," he teased.
"Hmph," Auron grunted, the only sound he'd probably make for the next twenty minutes or so.
Tidus grinned again. Auron's confusion at "that blasted machine" never failed to amuse him. He'd been in Zanarkand for ten years, but still forgot how to work certain machina sometimes. Usually it was in the morning, when he wasn't awake enough to function.
Obligingly Tidus went over and started some coffee for his guardian before dragging out some food for himself. He ignored the glare Auron was sending his way, not offended in the least. He knew it could sometimes irk the man that he was always so awake and cheerful in the mornings. Once Auron had his coffee he'd be fine.
"I have a game tonight," he said to Auron a bit later. After he'd gotten his coffee, of course.
"Will you be out real late?" Auron asked, still sounding half-asleep despite the caffeine.
Tidus shrugged. "Most likely. I'll be quiet coming in, don't worry."
"Fiends, I know," Tidus finished, sounding bored. He'd only heard the warning a million times. Still, he knew it was Auron's subtle way of showing he cared. He smiled. "I'll be fine, old man. I can take care of myself."
"Like you did against those Sagahins?" Auron asked, deadpan, and Tidus winced. He was referring to an incident that had happened last year. Tidus had almost gotten killed.
"Okay, point for Auron," he acknowledged. "If you're that worried, why not just stalk me? You do half the time anyways."
"I can't watch you forever." Tidus winced again at that, recognizing just how similar that statement was to his own thoughts last night. To hear Auron say it out loud almost felt like a betrayal of some sorts.
Quietly he shut the door to the houseboat behind him, resisting the urge to slam it in his anger. It would not be a good idea to wake Auron.
Still, he moved about the houseboat recklessly, not trying to be real quiet though he didn't go out of his way to make noise, either. He was upset and angry with himself. His team had lost, thanks to his spectacular screw-up of that sphere shot. If he had made it, they could have won. But no. He'd misjudged it and let the other team get the ball and of course they'd taken the opportunity to score. And he couldn't even blame the goalie. If he'd just kept the ball in his possession in the first place--
"Dammit!" he swore, angrily punching the wall, forgetting momentarily about Auron. "Ow.." he rubbed his knuckles, glaring at the wall.
A hand landed on his shoulder, and he whirled around, irrationally lashing out at Auron before he even had a chance to say anything. "Leave me alone!" he half-shouted, half-growled. The hand he'd knocked off when he'd turned around returned, and he shrugged it off again. "Just go away, Auron," he said.
Auron looked at him a moment, his eye studying Tidus' face, and then he nodded, leaving the teen to be by himself.
Tidus watched him walk away, a sudden wave of guilt crashing over him. He felt bad now. He had no right to snap at Auron--it wasn't Auron's fault he'd lost. Auron hadn't done anything to deserve that.
He knew, though, that part of it stemmed from his frustration at wanting Auron, an unattainable fantasy he could not have. That his lashing out had more to do with the feelings Auron's presence near him never failed to evoke than it did with losing tonight's game. After all, he'd lost games before, and he hadn't been awful to his guardian then.
Hot tears pricked at his eyes, but he didn't cry. He'd given up on being a crybaby, wanting to prove to Jecht he was better than that, even if Jecht would never see. He briefly thought about going after Auron to apologize, not sure whether he should or not. If Auron was asleep already, he didn't want to disturb him. But if Auron wasn't asleep, he might be expecting Tidus.
At last he decided to go apologize, no matter if Auron was awake or not. He left his room and headed down the hall to his parent's room where Auron had slept ever since Tidus' mother had died. For some inane reason, he found himself trying to remember where Auron had slept before that and couldn't. Their couch, most likely. Or maybe Auron hadn't stayed with them then.
He stopped in the open doorway, staring silently into the dark room at Auron's still form lying on the bed, trying to discern if the man was awake or asleep. He couldn't tell.
Tentatively he took a few steps in the room, towards the bed. "Auron?" he said softly.
Auron sat up fast, and though Tidus couldn't make out his face in the blackness he felt sure the man's eye was focused on him.
"Sorry, did I wake you? I didn't mean to..."
"Don't worry about it." Auron's voice held no trace of anger or hurt in it. While he had expected to not hear the latter, Tidus was relieved to not hear the former.
He took another few steps, coming closer. "I just wanted to say sorry for snapping at you. I shouldn't have." He thought about saying he didn't mean it, but it wouldn't have been true, because he had meant it. So he kept silent on that.
"It's fine," Auron told him dismissively, letting the blond know he hadn't been bothered by it.
"Okay." He stood there, knowing he should go to bed now, but reluctant to leave. He wanted to be a little kid again, so he could crawl in bed with Auron and sleep curled up next to him. He knew if he tried that now, Auron would just tell him he was too old. Which was true, really.
"Was there something else?" Auron asked, but the question wasn't rude or irritated-sounding. It was simply Auron's way of letting Tidus know he'd listen if Tidus wanted to talk.
Tidus hesitated, then went and sat down at the edge of the bed, Auron moving over to make room for him. "We lost tonight," he said quietly. "I... I screwed up. I misjudged my shot, and it cost us the ball."
"This is why you punched the wall?"
He paused for a moment. It would be easy to say yes, but it wouldn't be true. He didn't lie to Auron. Ever. If he was honest with himself, the screw-up of the shot was the least thing that upset him; it was just the easiest to focus on. What had really upset him had been the disappointed looks he'd seen his teammates giving him. That, and the harsh accusation the coach had flung angrily at him in the locker room, in front of everybody else.
"What was that out there, Tidus? You screw up like that often? Why can't you be more like Jecht? You think we hired you solely for your own talent? Should have known better than to let a kid play with professionals."
The words had stung him like nothing else ever had. To be more like Jecht--exactly what he never wanted. It had brought back a flood of memories with Jecht that Tidus had spent the last ten years trying hard to shove out of his mind. For the most part he'd succeeded. Strange how one uttered sentence could ruin all that he'd worked for.
"No," he admitted softly to Auron, all that having gone through his mind in about thirty seconds. "Coach wanted me to be... more like my old man. He said it was why they hired me so young, not because of my own talent." Auron remained silent at this, so Tidus continued. "All my life, people have been telling me to be more like Jecht. But I don't want to. I don't want to be known as "the next Jecht" or "the new Jecht" or something like that. I just want to be Tidus, star player of the Zanarkand Abes, even if I'm not a star player yet." He looked up at Auron then. "That's not so wrong, is it? To just want to be known for what I can do, rather than what my old man accomplished?"
Auron shook his head, openly gazing at the teen beside him, for once without his dark glasses. "No," he said gently. "It's not wrong, Tidus."
Tidus sighed. "Good." He continued to look at Auron, still not wanting to leave despite the fact that Auron looked as if he wanted sleep now. What he wanted right now, and what he was (to his shock) actually considering doing, was to kiss Auron. Just this once, just this time around. Even if Auron killed him afterwards, even if it only lasted so many seconds, he wanted it. Wanted to feel Auron's lips under his, to explore his mouth, to taste the older man and familiarize himself with it. He wanted it so bad his hands actually twitched at his sides, aching to reach up and pull Auron down on him.
But it would be stupid. It wasn't right to do it unless they both wanted it. Even if they both did, it still wouldn't be right. People didn't do that kind of thing--it was immoral. Or something. It didn't matter that they weren't related. Auron was twice his age. Auron was his guardian.
Yet, looking at Auron right now, it didn't seem to matter so much. Even knowing it was wrong, it felt right, and he longed to kiss Auron. The way Auron was just looking at him without saying anything wasn't exactly helping either. What was Auron thinking about? He wanted to believe that it was about him, in the way that he wanted. But he wasn't stupid enough to really think so. Still, just this once...
Tidus decided he didn't care what Auron might do to him, didn't care what the consequences would be. He knew if he didn't kiss Auron now, it would drive him crazy with regret for the rest of his life, wondering what could have been. He reached out his hand, clutching at Auron's clothes, and then pulled him down to his own face until their lips met. He expected Auron to pull back from him and demand an explanation, or worse--say nothing. But Auron offered no resistance, merely tensing slightly at the contact.
So Tidus kissed him. Auron's lips were somehow rough yet soft at the same time, and he enjoyed the sensation of feeling them against his own. After a moment, Auron kissed him back, responding with such pleasure that Tidus almost broke off to stare at him and try to figure out why the hell Auron wasn't killing him. Then Auron's hands were wrapping around him, pulling him closer, tugging at his clothes, and Tidus realized he didn't care why.
He woke the next morning, body sore and slightly sweaty. Auron was still asleep next to him. Tidus didn't want to wake him, so he carefully slid out of the bed and crept silently down the hall to his own room. He dressed in silence, wincing a bit at the soreness. Obviously his body still wasn't used to that activity. He grabbed his blitzball and headed outside to the docks, planning on practicing his sphere shot.
Three hours and five hundred missed shots later, Tidus finally acknowledged the hopelessness of the charade and gave up. He couldn't concentrate--the only thing his mind could focus on was Auron. He was anxious for Auron to get up, nervous about what his reaction would be to last night. He had no idea what it had meant to Auron, and he was scared about what would happen next. He didn't regret it, exactly, but he was worried.
He tossed the ball into the air, attempting one last shot for good measure, not even caring when he missed again.
"No wonder you lost last night, if you played like that," a voice remarked without malice.
Tidus, on his way to retrieve the blitzball, froze. "Auron!" he said in a somewhat high-pitched voice. He didn't dare turn around and look at the man. "What are you doing down at the docks?"
"Looking for you."
"Me? How come?" Well, that had been a lame question. He was glad when Auron chose not to answer it.
"About last night-" Auron began hesitantly, then stopped.
"Yes?" Tidus asked as calmly as he could. He felt awkward and hoped Auron didn't notice.
"It shouldn't have happened," Auron said.
"Of course not," Tidus agreed. He felt as if Auron had suddenly shoved a very sharp and very painful knife into his gut, deep. He ignored it.
Auron went on, much to Tidus' dismay. "After all, it's not right."
"Nope," Tidus said matter-of-factly. The knife was pulled out and then rammed back in, this time aimed at his heart. He told himself he'd thought the same thing.
"You're just seventeen." Auron was determined to plow through all the reasons why they shouldn't have done it. "I'm thirty-five. Twice your age. I'm your guardian."
"I know," Tidus replied, though he didn't know why he bothered. Auron wasn't giving his replies any notice.
"I'm supposed to be protecting you, not corrupting you. Besides," now it had turned into a lecture, it seemed, "people shouldn't do this kind of thing. It's immoral."
Auron had to have been reading his mind when he stared at Tidus last night. "They shouldn't," he acknowledged. "It is immoral." He felt like any moment he'd cry, or be sick. Or faint. Maybe all three.
"How would you feel about it happening again?"
"What?" Now Tidus spun around, looked at Auron in something akin to disbelief. Surely Auron wasn't suggesting... after all that...
"If.. you want.. to?" For the first time, Auron sounded unsure. But he stared steadily at the blond, waiting for an answer.
Tidus slowly began to grin. "When?" he asked.
"How does now sound?"
The grin widened. "Sounds good to me."
2005 butterflie February 10, 2005 Thursday 6:10AM
Author's Notes: comments, criticisms, flames etc all welcomed and appreciated! This was my fourth FFX fic, and the second one finished.
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