That Day


There he went again, looking at me with that 'it's all your fault' look. You'd think by now the boy would have known that it never worked on me.

Well, perhaps it did. Perhaps just a little bit.

But it didn't matter that day. I think he was angry with me again - or he was simply trying to get under my skin by spending a good five minutes of the hour watching me like a vulture eyeing its wounded prey; with cautiousness, with eagerness. I allowed him a small smile, if only to let him know that his great enthusiasm on the matter was not wasted on a man who seemed completely oblivious to everything around him. I'm never oblivious. Perhaps I'm looking the other way, but I'm always listening. Always. After ten years, that seems to be all that I can do.

Scratch that. It's one of the two things I can do.

I can listen, and I can guide him. Whether he wants it or not, I'll do it, if only for the shadow of the man that came before him; if only for a promise made so many years ago; if only for him, the boy both me and the shadow care about. And he can scowl at me all he likes.

He stopped looking at me by now, but he was still watching. And waiting. He walked besides me, unusually quiet. Well, he had just screamed his lungs out about... oh, five minutes ago. Six, actually. Something about how this was my fault, something about how he didn't give a damn about my promises to his father, something about... something. I wasn't listening that time. I was too busy watching him. I was too busy listening to his eyes speaking to ever be listening to the false, angry words that spilled from frustrated lips.

He was confused. Maybe he still is. I would have liked to take that pain away, those little cuts that formed inside of him with every mention of his father. But he liked to pretend that it didn't bother him. I wanted to allow him a small freedom, I suppose.

But he was a terrible liar.

I had told him, quite frankly, the truth about his father, what he was, what Yuna and her guardians would have the pleasure of defeating. And what a pleasure it would be, I imagined - not that I had to, since I had already been and gone with all of that ugly business. He was angry that I had acted with what he deemed to be 'insensitivity', but I knew he would appreciate the candor. If I had lied, he would have been even angrier when the truth was finally revealed.

I cared about him, as any father would. Heh - father. I never imagined that I would use that word. How... ludicrous of me. But what can I say after ten years? He grew on me. Perhaps because he needed some guidance then, perhaps because we had both lost that same shadow.

I think I may have needed him just the same.

He looked at me again, this time with more of a melancholy frown. His scowl had been replaced with a delicate, fragile glare - I just assumed it would break as easily as any smile of his would at that moment. Now, he was only pretending to be angry. It was a weak illusion, however.

Still, I needed to say something, anything. I wasn't trying to make him feel terrible. In all honesty, it was the last thing I wanted. It would happen anyway, that feeling of horrible reality, but I wanted to let him know that I would be by his side at that moment - just as I would be at any other time, for as long as he needed me to be.

"We are not bound by our dreams and memories. And sometimes we are more than that, Tidus."

He didn't say anything, and he watched me no longer with false anger, but now only with an innocent curiosity. He always had that about him.

I tightened my grip around my shouldered weapon.

I think he understood what I meant that day.