Baralai finally speaks to Isaaru.
I am sitting next to him, willing my heart to beat slow and steady. From the corner of my eye, I see the Summoner tense, so I choose to say nothing to him. Not yet. I have to be patient. I can afford to be now. I know my friends would not be patient, preferring to try and speak with the Summoner and then wonder why he rejects them. It is a mistake common among all those who have tried to attain him. I will make no such mistake.
It is difficult for me to decide just what to do because he is right next to me, holding a glass of what appears to be water. I begin to think of Gippal and how he has the same thing, but it is an illusion. My best friend has a clear alcohol that only resembles water. With the Summoner, I'm quite certain that is actually is water, and I'm glad of that. My thoughts are interrupted by the blond Al Bhed owner known as Rin. He stands behind the bar with a friendly, but businesslike smile on his face as he asks me what I would like to have. I politely ask for water. The Summoner snorts and this time, I turn entirely to him.
His face is shrouded by his hair, but I can see the outlines of his high cheekbones, but little else. I need him to turn to me. I need to see his eyes. Right now, that is the most important.
Speak, just speak. It is the only way he will turn. I take a breath.
"You too?" Oh, goodness, I sound like an idiot, and I want to die right here. He will kill me. He might as well because now I know that I am going to be humiliated in a crowded Travel Agency, everyone will laugh, and I'll just die.
"I beg your pardon?" He asks. Any other time, I'd sigh in relief, but my mouth doesn't allow it because my tongue is stuck on the roof of my mouth. His voice is silk laced with a poison that could knock out even the strongest person. It's no wonder many of the fellow Crimson Squad candidates fell victim to him, but this time, I want him to fall victim to me. I can't do that with my mouth failing me, so I will myself to open it and say something that will hopefully impress him.
"I was just wondering if I was the only one here who only ordered water."
Finally, he turns to me and I am stricken. The answers to my questions could not have come quickly enough. His eyes are blue, a very solid sort of blue that I can dive in and relax in its depths if he would allow me to. Right now, he is scanning me from the white of my hair to the brown leather of my boots. I don't find it disconcerting because I am doing the same with him. His robes are tied together by a light rope in knotted loops. I picture my fingers undoing them. When I look back into his eyes, he rests his gloved hand on his chin and speaks,
I can't help but sigh. I honestly expected better because ever since I was a child, I always imagined Summoners being as pure as untouched ground. I never once imagined a Summoner drinking any kind of alcohol, much less a beverage that resembles Gippal's. My thoughts are interrupted as the Summoner leans forward, his sharp eyes fixated on my face.
"You must be one of the many who think who think that a Summoner is without any indulgence or desire," he states, his voice now low and lethal. Pure poison. I'm hoping that he kills me with one of his Aeons rather than with his look.
"I'm sorry," I quickly whisper as my courage slips away. I'm going to die right here, just like all the fellow Candidates before me. I imagine myself going back to my friends like a wounded fiend that manages to escape onslaught. They're going to laugh at me, feel sorry for me, and tell me that I at least took a risk. It doesn't seem the least bit appealing to me.
His smile is the sun breaking through dark clouds, "That's a first."
"Really?" I ask. I am ready to float in the air now. How easy it is for him to have this kind of power over me, but for now, I allow it. I must adapt to him the way water adapts to land. I know it is the only way I could have him where I want him.
"Yes," he nods, "It seems that most people here think that not only are they entitled to me, they have a right to put me on a ridiculously high pedestal and then complain when I don't even bother climbing up."
"I was just surprised, that's all," I respond. "I mean, all the past Summoners I studied just seemed so--"
I begin to chuckle, "Yea. It's wrong to think that way though."
"Indeed," the Summoner's eyes narrow, but I know that he is showing no anger towards me. He smiles again, and I would like more of that. "If it is any consolation, I seldom drink such beverages." He gestures to the drink, "My body is my temple, and I always make certain that I take care of it the best I can."
I understand this perfectly because I am the same way. The only difference is that I can't imagine myself drinking anything that my friends would drink. However, that doesn't mean I'm not curious about what the Summoner now has in his hand.
"What is that, anyway?"
He takes a sip before answering, "It is Yazu. The strongest liquor on all of Spira."
It figures that Gippal would drink something like that.
"Why would you drink something so strong?" I hope I'm not pushing the Summoner away when I ask this, but he smiles again.
"Because it is delicious for one, but it also gives me a feeling that I am alive."
Alive? That word reminds me that one day, this Summoner no longer will be, but I try not to think of that.
"I see," is my only response.
"I don't expect you to understand," he answers, still smiling.
"I don't know if I ever will," I say rather tersely. I remember how my friends would be nearly incoherent with drink while they were on a rare few days break. Why they would ever allow themselves to lose control like that would forever be lost on me. I know Nooj seeks death, but I also know that he would not try to gain it through alcohol. I think it must be to numb the pain he always seems to feel. As for Gippal and Paine, I suppose they find it enjoyable, but they never seem to the day after. Then, they keep doing it when the time is right.
"It's not necessary for you to understand," the Summoner comments, taking another sip of his drink. I stare intently at his mouth. I think about leaning over and pressing my lips against his. Has he ever been kissed before? Has he ever kissed anyone? Are his lips soft? How much of the 'Yazu' would I be able to taste when I finally do kiss him? It suddenly occurs to me that I still don't know his name. I can't do anything until I know his name.
"I'm sorry. I never heard your name," I say and the Summoner grins, his eyes piercing through my heart.
"That's because I never gave it," he answers and I am tempted to die right there, but I realize that he seems to be toying with me. I can't give up. I have to know his name. I was never like this when I first met my friends. I know that the man is a Summoner and I know what he has said to the others before him, but why should that make him different from Paine? When I first met her, I just went right up to her and asked her name. With the Summoner, I feel as though my brain is just leaking out of my ears. I want this stopped.
"May I ask what your name is?" I finally ask, and he presses his lips together. This makes me nervous, but it quickly vanishes when his smile returns.
"I am Isaaru."
Isaaru. I helplessly lean back and breathe out. I am beaming and I can't control it. Actually, I don't want to control it. I don't even want to hide it in my collar. Isaaru. His name is a caress, an embrace, a feeling of warmth and security as I imagine myself in his arms.
"What is your name?" He inquires after taking another sip from his beverage.
"Baralai." I wonder if he hears my name. I sound soft, shy, and worst of all, frightened. It's everything I don't want to sound like. I brace myself.
"Baralai...." he echoes. It's not a question. He does hear me and I am thankful for it. He rests his elbow on the bar. "Fitting...."
Isaaru (Fayth! I could say this name a million times and it would never be enough) shakes his head. My first impulse is to do what Gippal would do and that is push as far as I could get away with. I would do this if I knew that Isaaru wouldn't push back, but I know that not only would Isaaru push back, he would push far. That is the last thing I want, so I choose to let it go. I watch him look at his glass, his index finger circling around the rim. He is pondering what to do. I can sense it. It's clear to me that he's so used to rejecting people that he is at a loss now. Despite his placid demeanor, I know he is echoing my fear, but his fear is what might happen should he either allow this to continue or end it now. He has doubts. How could I blame him? He is a Summoner and Summoners--
His blue eyes are suddenly upon me and I stifle my gasp. Does he mean to reject me? We know each other's names now, but does it make a difference? He said 'fitting' when he spoke my name, but does that really matter? I want to ask him if he intends to send me back to my table, and if so, then I wish he would just say so and get it over with! But, I do not do this.
"Please don't turn me away like you've done everyone else." Oddly enough, I do not sound like I am begging nor do I sound desperate. I sound like someone who knows he is needed, despite the misgivings of the other.
Isaaru raises his eyebrows before replying, "I don't intend to".
I feel embolded now, so I ask him, "What did you mean when you said 'fitting'?"
"Your name has three meanings." I perk up, intending to hang on to his every word as though they were ropes hanging over a cliff. "One is 'in darkness and light', the other means 'child of the sea', but it's the third meaning that suits you best."
I tilt my head, "What is the third meaning?"
"'Son of heaven.' "
I am glad my skin is dark because I am blushing so furiously that I'm sure I'll burst into flames. Son of heaven? I did not know this, but I am glad to know of it now. I am always fascinated with meanings.
"What does your name mean?" I lean forward as I voice this question.
Isaaru takes a sip of his drink, " 'Fiery Light' ".
Now that is fitting considering what he has said to those who have come before me. Speaking of "Fiery Light", I look out the window near my friends' table and I see that the sun is now very close to the horizon because the clouds I can see are turning a light reddish purple. I look at Isaaru, who is now finishing his drink. Without thinking, I put my hand on his arm. He looks at me.
"I won't force you to do anything you don't want to do," I state as I grip tighter. I can feel the course fabric of his sleeve under the palm of my hand. I want to feel his pale skin. I want to see the contrast between my darkness and his light. He is still looking at me, but he is frowning, so I know I must be decisive, "I would be honored if you went outside with me to see the sunset."
He opens his mouth to reply, but he seems hesitant. I lick my lips to hold back my silent prayer that he does not reject me after all. I say nothing more, but I gently run my fingertips across the knuckles of his hand. Finally, he looks at me.
"The honor is mine." He is smiling. Oh Yevon, he is smiling.
I now feel as though I could fly to the heavens he claims I am the son of. I slide off the stool, holding his hand. I do not wish to let go. I can hear the mummers of the other patrons and the Crimson Squad candidates. I'm not concerned about how they feel about all of this. I don't have to be. I smile at my friends as I pass their table.
"Score!" Gippal shouts, holding up what must be his third glass of that "Yazu". Paine and Nooj are also raising their drinks. They do not need to say anything. Gippal has already taken care of that. I smile at all three of them, thankful to have people who I can count on when I am troubled. Isaaru picks up on this because he nods at me, his grin widening.
"They helped you, didn't they?" He asks, and when I nod, he comments, "You must be grateful for them."
"Oh, you have no idea," I answer as I lead him out of the Travel Agency.