Categories > Games > Final Fantasy X-2 > The Confessional - Continued

Part Seventeen

by Ikonopeiston 1 review

The group lands on the mainland; Nooj and Paine talk

Category: Final Fantasy X-2 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters: Baralai, Gippal, Nooj, Paine - Warnings: [X] - Published: 2005-08-03 - Updated: 2005-08-03 - 2675 words

The Confessional

Part Seventeen:
This is the most absurd planning I have ever experienced. Each time I think this group of Uninformed Militarily Illiterate Blackguards can do nothing worse, they prove me a liar. After the unnecessarily brutal ship voyages to and from Bikanel, after the murderous slog across the vile desert of that Yevon-blighted land, after the compromise of my honor due to the quality of the dregs they took into their misbegotten excuse for an army, after all that - they land us back where we started - at the Mushroom Rock Road. I couldn't believe it when I saw those familiar cliffs looming as we approached land. Back at the Mushroom Rock Road! In the name of all the forgotten gods of this abandoned planet in this ignored universe, why here? What was the point of sailing us to the Island of the Masochists if only to return us to our starting point? Is this their idea of a sacred joke? Are we to be herded back on that rickety ship and transported somewhere else as they giggle and pretend it was all intended to work out this way? Or will they simply drive us back on board, sail out to deeper waters and scuttle the damned thing? I am a rational man and I can make no sense out of this action. If they wanted to train us hard, they could simply have chased us into the Thunder Plains or the Calm Lands and spared both them and us the ordeal of sweltering on that ... boat for days on end. They could have marched us up and down the Highroad for as long as seemed essential if a long walk was what they considered training. And done it without giving us water if they wanted to see how we responded to thirst. Damn them for a bunch of soft, stupid, slug-like psychopaths stooping at the shrine of Yevon. May their corrupt souls be eternally devoured by hordes of minute stinging fleas which will feast on that which is given them until the ends of time and the death of the moons.

I am afraid I became too free with my language this morning when I recognized our destination. It was bad form on my part. A captain should not curse in front of his men and I think I may have offended Paine. Or maybe not, I thought I noticed her giggling behind her hand when I turned suddenly to apologize. Well, at least I won't have to choke down any more of the capsules against the sea-sickness. I had begun to dread the sight of them even though I remain grateful for their good effects on my overall comfort.

Last night was a strange one. I cannot recall any time in my life when I have felt more a part of something outside my own skin. It was as though for a short time, I was a normal and ordinary man, uncontaminated by that driving force which has possessed me from my earliest memories. I felt at ease and, for a small miracle, laughter came without effort. Until just at the end when the talk of a Great Calm reminded me of all I have not done and must do.

Paine lay in my arms and we did not discuss the understanding which had passed wordlessly between us. I hope she knows I am giving her as much of myself as I can. Never before have I stayed with a single woman so long or with such contentment. She fulfills me in ways I had not known I was lacking. She would make me fully human if such a thing was possible any longer. Her unstinting acceptance of what I am and what the world has made of me lets me believe for however short a time that I am not the loathsome grotesque freak I know myself to be, that I am not totally repulsive to a woman of beauty and discernment. In her arms I am once again a complete man if only for the time I am permitted to stay in her arms.

I thought Gippal would hurt himself laughing when he, too, saw we had merely sailed in a circle. Baralai seemed somewhat alarmed at the way Gippal was hysterically howling from the sheer humor of the thing. The Alchemist appeared puzzled as if he had expected something different. I often wonder exactly how much of the mind-set of the priests and Maesters he absorbed during his time among them. It is not that I distrust him; he has proven himself completely loyal in many ways. It is that I am aware of how the infection which is Yevon can burrow its way into the mind and heart. And the lad had been under the influence of the pernicious religion for so long it would be surprising if he did not have some remnants of that sickness still within. So it is not abnormal that I should wonder just where he expected us to land.

Immediately upon our disembarking, I was told to keep myself in readiness for further orders. I have done so; I have also organized those whom I still consider my responsibility here along the road, distributing what supplies have been made available and I have cooled my heels to the sounds of feasting and much revelry from the tents of the Mighty Conquerers of the Sands of Bikanel. They are sparing themselves nothing while we, their myrmidons, wait their pleasure. Damn them to the hell of their own begetting. And they consider themselves the leaders of an army. They do not have the capabilities to lead a battalion of fleas along the limbs of their own unwashed bodies. Bah!


I have been released from my duties to the larger group of those who traversed Bikanel and am from this moment responsible for only my own Group Five. The teams from the other destinations have landed and new teams have been formed from the survivors of the 'training' the Maesters imposed upon us. I cannot tell how many have died in all but the mass assembling along the road seems markedly smaller than the one which marched out all those days ago to such boasting and pomp. The Maesters seem pleased so they must have achieved their purpose of getting rid of a number of us one way or another.

As usual, the commands are to hurry up and wait. I am accustomed to that in the army but this crew of autocrats exceeds anything else I have ever known. It would appear we will not be given our fresh orders until the morning so I am leading my group to our old camping site where we have water and privacy. I think the ending of this venture is near and we should take advantage of our comforts while we can. Later, maybe we can walk down to the target field and exercise while occupying ourselves. I should like to see how much my aim has improved now that I have been regularly using a gun.

When I told the other three my proposals, they agreed with enthusiasm. Gippal immediately tackled poor Baralai and they engaged in an impromptu wrestling contest which the Al Bhed lost. He will never learn he can't beat the deceptively willowy Alchemist at hand-to-hand combat. Give the man a machina weapon and he is awe inspiring. Disarm him and he is not. Early training always shows in the end. Baralai was tutored in the basically non-lethal techniques from boyhood as part of his preparation for the priesthood. Gippal grabbed a gun in one hand and a knife in the other as soon as he cleared the birth canal. It is very amusing to watch them grapple. Gippal with his endless optimism and Baralai with his resigned competence.

Paine rarely indulges in their juvenile play any longer. She will take the time to drub Gippal occasionally and rubs Baralai's nose in the dirt when she thinks he needs it but she usually just bats them across the back of the head when they get too obstreperous. She is not a lady of endless patience. I wonder how much longer she will put up with me? I have a feeling we are overdue for a serious talk and I do not know how to initiate one. Pillow talk is no good for this; it cannot help but merge into more incoherence. Maybe we can meet by the pond and speak together. We'll see.


There are few things more welcome than the opportunity to submerge one's entire body in a pool of cool clean water. Happily I availed myself of a good supply of the soap I prefer when I left the hospital. Since I am due to go back for what is euphemistically called a 'wellness check' in a few weeks, I should be able to replenish my stocks before they run too low. I feel as if I smell like me again. Gippal will replace the desert-grade lubrication in the machina limbs tonight with the more water resistant and durable type and I shall be ready for whatever the Maesters - may their bowels rot and drip from their lower orifices - have in mind.

Paine has agreed to join me here shortly. She will want a wash and then we shall sit and try to reach some sort of understanding about our relationship. I know I should have been more subtle in my statements but I am not a diplomat or a cozener. I don't know any way to introduce a subject except bluntly. So I just told her I thought we should talk about some things and she agreed. I am hoping that here, where we first learned one another, we can begin to explain the things which are pulling us apart. We usually see most things the same way ... I am blathering


I am dazed and incoherent.

I hope I said the right things in the right way and that she understood what I was trying to say. I do not have the gift of a smooth tongue like Gippal nor an ingratiating manner like Baralai. I am what I am, a plain-spoken man with few charms and no persuasion. But I think she understood.

I do not believe a man such as I have become is capable of love and so I could not say the words to her that I hear other men say to their women. All I could do was make the effort to let her know how valuable she has become to me during these past weeks. I tried as best I could to tell her what it means to me to have her beauty in my arms and her body next to mine in the nights, how grateful I am for her acceptance of my scars, my temper, my bad behavior. How I shall miss her when she leaves and will be both the richer for having known her and the poorer for having lost her.

Above all, I tried to communicate as clearly as I possibly could the truth of my feeling for her. I told her she has been my reason for continuing to live, that without her I would have long ago found a way to stop my heart. That seemed to matter more to her than any other thing I said. She sat with her usual quiet concentration and did not shift her eyes from mine save to close her lids from time to time and crease her brow. I don't know what that meant and only hope I did not hurt her or cause her to doubt my sincerity. I am glad she did not cry but that might have meant she understood what I was so awkwardly trying to tell her.

When I had finished, she wrapped her arms around me and burrowed her head in the hollow where my right shoulder joins the neck and nuzzled there for a long time. I held her as tenderly as I could although I was raging to merge my whole body with hers and become one person finally and forever.

Then she told me. ... I did not know. I feel so stupid, so unspeakably dense not to have understood. I have never been loved before. Yes, I have had other lovers, some for only a night and some for several day.. I have shared my bed and my body with women since I first became a man but this? No, never have I been given so magnificent a gift as this. She loves me. She told me about events earlier in her life, things I would never have asked her and would never have expected her to tell me. She opened her mind and soul, laying out all the treasures she has and offering them to me. I am humbled and ennobled at once. She loves me. I did not expect this and I am still vibrating like a struck harp.

I bent before her and kissed her feet, savoring the roughness of the desert calloused skin. Every inch of her is divine and flawless. She is a goddess made incarnate for my personal pleasure. I undressed her like an acolyte unveiling the image of a deity and eased her down on the fragrant grass and stroked her as though I was forming her out of the memory my hand has kept of her shape. I touched every part of her with my lips and my fingers, worshipping her as I relished her sweetness.

When I had shed my clothing as well, I gave myself up to her gaze and touch. We learned one another anew as if we had been strangers before this moment. Our coming together was like a melding of universes. We were protean, all things at once. And we were one, I felt every molecule of her; I became her. And she was become me. Time stopped and we lay wrapped in one another while ages passed, worlds were born and died, the stars flickered out and new ones were lit. She loves me.


Other things took place in the afternoon. We went down the Road to the old Highway and found our target range still intact. We shot a few rounds. I did not pay much attention to how I did, being still focused elsewhere ... somewhere beyond. Gippal and Baralai cut their usual capers, rolling over the terrain like a pair of bull pups. We came back to this camp and made a meal of what the Al Bhed had caught during the day.

I moved through those hours like a man walking in a dream world. There is no knowing what the others thought of me, except Paine. She was at my side whenever I looked, more often than not looking back at me. We were isolated in a private, prismatic globe of understanding. I have never before in my life known anything like this. I am warm and content, all the bitterness drained and even life has a fresh fragrance and taste; it is the morning of the world. I feel like I could open my mouth and laugh so loudly and freely that the sky would echo it back in a great shout of joy which would transform the planet. My laughter could transmute Sin into a force for peace and happiness. It could bring the end of killing and war and misery and woe. I am the source and center of light, the epitome of all that is good. I am the sun and all the lights in the darkness. I am the moons and the silver glow on the white flesh of my love. I am alive and loved!

Now to the quiet pond in the shadowy glen. Now to the arms of my lady. I have so much to prove to her, so many assurances to make. I shall pray that the sun oversleeps.

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