Author's Notes: This story contains spoilers for the entire game. If you haven't finished it and at least most of the side quests, I would highly suggest not reading this story until you do it will spoil you all kinds of rotten. Also, this story will contain shounen ai/yaoi implications. If that's not your thing you probably shouldn't be here. Standard Disclaimers apply as usual. ^_^
Castle in Spain
Chapter One - The Long Road
If Tidus had learned one thing from his experiences in the Graveyard of Dreams during the past two days it was that he hated walking.
For some reason, he hadn't minded the walking when he'd been traveling with Yuna and everyone else through Spira. At least he'd had someone to talk to other than himself then. Something to distract him from the actual act of walking. Between the constant battles with fiends and the friendly conversation, things had never been boring and now... now he would be happy to have a fiend just pop out at him. At least then he'd have something to do other then trudge forward towards a destination which he was beginning to wonder if he'd ever reach.
The first day he'd had to concentrate on leaping from rock to rock, not wanting to risk another dive into the freezing waters below. That had been okay, but then on the second day he'd reached the shore and from then on it had been walking. Nothing but walking and now he was on his third day and he was still walking across the same flat, dull brown land. No trees, no bushes, no flowers. Nothing but flat brown land, the sickly green-colored mountains on the horizon and the annoyingly pink sky.
"I thought you said this place was dangerous? It doesn't seem very dangerous just... dead." Tidus commented, glancing towards the pink sky overhead. He'd taken to talking to the fayth during the last day or so, even though they never answered back. He was almost beginning to get tired of the sound of his own voice.
A soft crying somewhere up ahead summoned Tidus from his thoughts, bringing his attention back to the present. "What the hell?" He murmured, hurrying in the direction of the sound. A few moments later, his gaze caught on a small figure crouched next to a large rock. How he'd managed to miss it before, he wasn't sure, but then there were a lot of things about this place that he wasn't quite sure about. "Hey!? You okay?"
The figure turned slowly and Tidus stopped a few feet aware, staring in amazement at... himself. Or at least the boy he had been at age seven. The boy gazed up at him with tear-stained cheeks, his eyes red and swollen from crying. "He's left me here all alone." The boy commented, his voice sounding as if it came from far away.
Tidus merely starred, unsure what to do. The boy just continued to stare up at him as if waiting for an answer to an unspoken question. "I... I'm sorry," Tidus said finally, rubbing at the back of head nervously. The boy stayed silent, continuing to stare up at him and Tidus shook his head sadly. "I can't help you, kid."
"He's never coming back, is he?" The boy asked finally, his voice quiet.
"No," Tidus murmured, kneeling down next to the boy he used to be. "He won't ever come back, but you'll do okay on your own, right?"
"I hate him."
"I know, I said that a lot. I hate him, but... I guess... I loved him all along anyway."
"I don't love him. I hate him!" The boy insisted, rubbing dirty hands across his tear-stained cheeks.
"Then what're you crying for? You know he'd just call you a crybaby if he saw you now." Tidus replied, tracing a hand across the boy's cheek. "You'll see him again someday, ya know?"
"I don't want to." The boy grumbled, crossing his thin arms across his chest. "I don't ever want to see him again."
"Then why are you crying?"
The boy seemed to ponder this for a moment, his brows furrowing slightly before he finally shrugged, "I... I don't know." As the words passed the child's mouth he began to fade, disappearing entirely in a matter of moments. Tidus starred at the empty space that had once been a small child for a long moment before looking back up at the pink sky. "That was really weird. What was that about?"
No answer came as usual and Tidus slowly pushed himself back to his feet. "I guess, that's what this place is about, huh? Graveyard of Broken Dreams. Weird," Tidus muttered, turning back towards the mountains. He didn't have time to waste standing here wondering about it. Frowning, Tidus continued along the path towards the distant mountains, because there was just nothing else he could do.
As he walked he saw more crying people appearing in the distance on either side of him. He couldn't make out their faces, but none looked familiar. They were transparent, like what he'd always envisioned true ghosts to be. He could see through them to the plains beyond and the strange, wretched visions, which walked or sat or just stood staring off into the distance. They all seemed oblivious to him as he passed them by in silence. He thought about going up to them, speaking to them as he had the vision of his younger self, but something about them made him uneasy.
Gradually, he began to see fewer and fewer of these strange visions and their lamenting cries grew ever fainter until they seemed to die off completely and all was silence once more. Never had Tidus been so grateful for silence.
He hadn't gone more then a couple yards, starring off at the mountains and enjoy the quiet, before he tripped over something lying in the road and promptly fell flat on his face in the dirt. "Ow..." He grumbled, turning his head to the side and spitting out the mouthful of dirt he'd managed to earn himself. "What the hell was that about...?" He questioned, grimacing at the pain his hands, which had taken most of the impact. He sat back slowly, wiping at his mouth with the back of one hand. "Yuck..." The dirt tasted about like what dirt should taste like and it was really pretty gross.
Tidus turned his hands over and examined the scrapes with a grimace. "Nice. Real smooth." He grumbled, brushing off what dirt he could from the wounds. He was about to stand up again when he realized that someone was watching him. It was a creepy sensation that sent strange shivers up his spine. Someone was practically boring holes in his back. "What... the..." He murmured, turning slowly to find himself looking into calm, blue eyes. He knew those eyes...
"S...S...Seymour?!" Tidus exclaimed, scooting backwards from the man lying in the dirt behind him and wincing as new pain shot through his injured hands.
"Do I know you?" Seymour answered, sitting up slowly, his gaze slightly confused.
Tidus' reply died on his lips as he took a moment to really look at the man sitting in front of him. This wasn't Seymour. At least not the Seymour he knew. This Seymour was younger... probably no older then he himself. Just when he'd thought this place couldn't get any weirder...
"Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?" Seymour asked, though it seemed more like a reflex reaction then true concern. Like he didn't truly care, but thought he should ask anyway because it was the polite thing to do.
"Um... yeah... I'm fine. I... uh... what're you doing here?" Tidus finished finally, unsure what else to say.
Seymour shrugged, laying back down in the dirt. If this place concerned him in the least, he sure didn't let it show. "Don't know. I've been here for a long time. This seemed as good a place as any to stay. It's quiet here."
"Ah... okay..." Tidus responded awkwardly. This guy seemed different from the others he'd seen in this place. More solid for one thing, obviously since he was obviously what Tidus had tripped over, plus he wasn't crying. All the others had been upset in some way, even the vision of himself, but this guy was perfectly calm. Like he didn't give a damn that he was in a strange place, just accepted it. Really weird.
"You're not another phantom are you?" Seymour asked suspiciously, turning his gaze towards Tidus once more.
"Ph... phantom?" Was that what all those others had been? Phantoms?
Seymour sat up again, reaching out a hand and poking Tidus in the chest. Tidus flinched, but Seymour just nodded with satisfaction. "I didn't think so. You don't act like one of them. They're annoying. Always whining or crying about something. They don't notice me usually. Too busy whimpering about the tragedy of it all. I hate them." He hissed, jabbing a finger against Tidus' knee. "You feel different, too. You're warm. They're always cold. Like the unsent. Except, when I try to send them... they don't leave. They just keep looking at me with those pitiful eyes and then... then they get angry."
Tidus really didn't know what to say to all this. The phantoms got angry? The ones he'd seen hadn't looked like they could get angry. They were just... kind of sad. "What happens when they get angry?" He asked quietly, feeling a chill run up his spine as he noticed the strange haunted look in Seymour's blue gaze.
"They turn into something else. You shouldn't get them angry." Seymour murmured, shivering as he pulled his knees up to his chest.
"You're not a phantom, then?" Tidus asked, rubbing irritably at his bruised, scratched hands.
"No," Seymour responded softly, lying his head against his knees as he continued to stare at Tidus. "I don't know what I am, but I'm not like them. I don't want to be like them."
"You're Seymour Guado, aren't you?"
"I used to be, but it seems like a long time ago." Seymour murmured, his eyes distant. "I was a summoner, but... I didn't want to be." He paused, his eyes refocusing on Tidus as he shook off the ghost of his memories. "How do you know my name?"
"I... um... well... I..." Tidus stuttered, not sure how to respond. What was he going to say? 'Yeah, kinda, but the you I knew was about ten years older and a sadistic bastard. My friends and I had to kill you a couple of times.' He couldn't say that. It sounded stupid even in his head. "I... I don't remember." He replied finally, hoping that Seymour would just let the matter drop.
Much to his surprise, Seymour just nodded, the barest hint of a smile curving his lips. Either he bought Tidus' story or he just didn't care. Either way was okay by Tidus so long as it meant he didn't have to come up with some elaborate lie to ease the other man's mind. He had always been a bad liar. "It doesn't matter," Seymour said finally. "Do you 'remember' who you are at least?"
Tidus flushed furiously, "I... I'm Tidus."
"Tidus, hm? All right. What are you doing here, Tidus?" Seymour inquired, the small smile still tugging at his lips.
"I... I have to cross the Graveyard. I'm trying to get back to..." Tidus began only to be cut off by Seymour's laughter. It was a disturbing, slightly mad sound, which made him flinch. "What's so funny?"
"Cross the Graveyard?!" Seymour exclaimed through a fit of laughter, "You'll die before you even see the other side!"
"What makes you say that?" Tidus responded, his eyes narrowing in frustration. He was beginning to really dislike this version of Seymour. Not that he even remotely liked the other version, but at least the other Seymour had been a fairly predictable sadistic bastard. This guy was just... unsettling. Sure, Guados had a notoriously cynical outlook on life, but this was ridiculous.
"Can you not see? Can you not see the horrors that await you? Look closely at the mountains, Tidus." Seymour responded, his laughter fading as he pointed towards the distant mountains. Tidus turned his glance towards the mountains that he'd been starring at for the past two days. To him they just looked like ordinary, if somewhat strangely colored, mountains.
"What are you talking about?" Tidus remarked, squinting at the mountains as if that might help him see them better.
Seymour sighed, "Stupid human. You're all the same. Can't see what's right in front of your face."
"Hey! You're half-human yourself, Seymour!" Tidus grumbled, turning his gaze back towards the smirking man.
"Hmph, well.... Yes, I suppose I am, but only half." Seymour murmured, reaching out to take one of Tidus' injured hands in his own. Tidus almost protested, but a look from the other man silenced him. "Do you want to see or not?"
"Ah... yeah..." Tidus answered, hesitantly.
"Then be quiet and let me work," Seymour replied irritably, drawing a sharp fingernail across Tidus' already injured hand. One of the many small cuts widened slightly, fresh blood welling up from the wound. Seymour set the hand against his thigh and turned his attention to one of own pale hands, drawing his sharp nails across his palm and wincing slightly a small scar split open, purple blood slipping across his hand. This done, Seymour carefully pressed his injured hand against Tidus' injured hand, careful to line up the small cuts against each other. He began murmuring quiet words that Tidus couldn't understand and then he went silent and his grip on Tidus' hand tightened.
Pain slipped like an electric current ran up Tidus' arm, forcing a gasp from his mouth. "Wh...wh... what?" He managed, raising his gaze to meet Seymour's gaze with some difficulty.
Seymour gave him a tight smile, "It's easier if you close your eyes. It'll be over in a moment."
Tidus debated the intelligence of such an action. He didn't really trust this strange man who was and wasn't Seymour Guado, but he'd already gone this far....
Tidus closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on anything but the spikes of pain zipping up his arm. He thought of Yuna, of his father, of Auron... and then the pain was gone. He could still feel Seymour's tight grip on his hand, but the pain had faded to just a mild discomfort. He reopened his eyes and found Seymour still sitting there with his eyes closed. He took that moment to study the man.
He could see the subtle differences in Seymour's face now that he was really paying attention. The smoothness of skin which was so characteristic of youth. The dark veins, which lined his forehead and cheeks, were less pronounced. His hair was precisely the same length as the Seymour he remembered. He wondered vaguely if maybe a Guado's hair didn't stop growing at some point. His clothes were different too... they actually kind of resembled black pajamas in Tidus' opinion. They didn't look anything like the summoner's outfits he'd seen while on Spira. It was almost as if he'd been caught sleeping and shuttled off to this place.
Finally, Seymour's eyes opened, blinking up at Tidus tiredly. "It is done." He murmured, releasing Tidus' hand with a wince and Tidus noticed that the cuts Seymour had made on both his and Tidus' hands were gone. Tidus starred at the younger man with wide eyes for a long moment, torn between wanting to ask what he'd just done and really, really not wanting to know.
"Stop looking at me like that. You look like a fish with your mouth gapping open like that. It's disturbing," Seymour grumbled, his voice harsh. Tidus' mouth shut with an audible snap, which made Seymour smile. "Now, pay attention and look at the mountains again."
Confused, Tidus turned his gaze back to the mountains and barely choked back a scream. The mountains were MOVING. Writhing and twisting like a million snakes had piled upon each other to form them. "Wh... what is that?" He gasped finally, unable to look away from the sight.
"Just what it looks like," Seymour responded calmly. "Snakes. They eat the phantoms that wander too close. I've been watching them for days. They're meant to stop those who try to escape this place. No one who comes here is meant to escape. And you," Seymour shook his head, chuckling softly. "You wanted to just stroll across them as if you hadn't a care in the world. Do you see now why I found it rather funny? There is no escape from this place, Tidus. No one can make it across that and who knows what horrors lie beyond those mountains? It's ridiculous to even try."
Tidus turned his gaze back to Seymour watching him in silence for a long moment, "I... I'm going anyway."
Seymour blinked, obviously taken aback. He hadn't expected Tidus to say something like that at all. "You can't. You'll..."
"What? I'll die? I don't think I can die. We're not real, Seymour. We're more real then those phantoms you hate so much, but it doesn't change the fact that we're just dreams. Just stupid dreams, but I don't want to stay here and be just another broken dream starring up at the stupid pink sky for the rest of eternity. Even if I can die or those snakes can hurt me, I'd rather risk it then stay here. I want to go home." Tidus finished, still feeling a bit sick at the thought of what lie ahead despite his brave words.
Seymour remained silent for a long time, considering Tidus' words and then he finally pushed himself to his feet, stretching languidly before turning his blue gaze back towards Tidus. "I'm going with you."
"Wh... what?" Tidus asked, eyes widening with surprise.
"I'm going with you. I think the things you said just now are probably the stupidest, most blindly optimistic words I've ever heard, but.... I'm tired of starring up at the sky and listening to the phantoms moan, so I'm going with you." Seymour replied, sensibly. "Besides, you're probably too stupid to make it to the mountains alone."
"I am not!" Tidus exclaimed, leaping to his feet to glare at Seymour. They were very close to the same height, but Seymour was a little taller and that small difference made the half-Guado smile viciously.
"Then prove it," Seymour responded, vicious smile still firmly in place.
"Fine!" Tidus turned and began marching towards the mountains, not bothering to wait and see if the other man followed.
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