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                                                The room was fairly quiet. Utensils clicked against glass as the people around a small table ate. Yuna moved her food around feeling nervous about the question she wanted to ask. It was something that her dad would not like nor would her fiance, Seymour. The thing was though, it was Yuna's dream. It was what she was aspiring to be. She wanted to be a High Summoner, just like her father. The only thing was, was that it was dangerous. There were great risks that came with the job, along with great responsibilities. Of course it was something that Yuna was willing to handle. "What's wrong Yuna? You're not eating," Braska, Yuna's father, said giving his daughter a concerned look. A quiet sigh escaped the girls lips. It was now or never and Yuna had chosen now. "I want to become a High Summoner, father," she spoke softly and politely, already knowing the answer. Still, she had to ask. Yuna wanted to know of his decision. She already knew that he didn't like the idea, which was why she was going to have to marry Seymour. It was one of the ways that her father had done to protect her from the cruel world. Yuna's father believes that she's much too naive about how the real world works and he's afraid that she will get hurt. With Seymour, Yuna wouldn't have to worry about money or anything else for that matter. He would take care of her and that's what her father wanted. Then there was Cloud, Yuna's bodyguard. He was brooding, awkward, a little out there, but he seemed harmless enough. With her father's instructions, Cloud followed her everywhere. Well, almost. He never went into the bathroom with her and he never entered her room without permission first. Yuna watched as her father's face turned to one of utter shock. Yet another sigh escaped her lips and just as expected the answer was no. Yuna would listen to her father and of course this would never be brought up again. That's how all things around here worked. She asked, he said no, case closed. It sucked, but it was Yuna's life. Slowly, Yuna stood and bowed. "I will be on a walk." With that she turned around and walked towards the door.

                                                It wasn't long before Yuna heard Cloud's footsteps. She pushed some of her brunette hair behind her ear and placed her hands behind her back. "What do you think of my father's choice?" she asked, looking back at Cloud. She wasn't too worried about being heard, considering they were alone outside. Seymour wouldn't follow, he never did, and neither would her father. The two always let her have her space, making her feel so lonely and so constricted the same time. It was exhausting, but Yuna worked through it. She would keep her smile on her face and try her best to keep everyone happy. That was why she was marrying Seymour and that was why she wasn't going to disobey her father and become a High Summoner. Instead she was going to be a good girl and do as she's told. As people walked by and greeted her, Yuna smiled and spoke to them. It was always humorous to see their reaction to Cloud. Sometimes they would even fear coming up to her. Of course learning that he's only protecting her and that if you have nothing to hide then you will be fine, most of the people warm up to his presence a little. It wasn't like they were wanting to say hello or anything. But still the expressions they wore. There were a few that already knew, but since Bevelle was an ever growing city, there were never many that did. Eventually the two made it to a dock where there was no people. It wasn't much of a dock, but it was connected to the main city and jutted out into the water. Yuna walked down it and soon found herself standing at the end. The wind picked up a little and the girl closed her eyes, enjoying the crisp breeze and the warm sun. Today was a perfect day to be outside.

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          The inevitable had to happen. Yuna was more resilient than they gave her credit for - in his opinion, at least - and she wouldn't be able to stay quiet forever. He...thought perhaps he was the only one who had really known about her desires to become High Summoner, only because she seemed to confide in him more readily than she did others...not that it mattered. After all, it was none of his business what the Lady Yuna did or did not decide to share with her fiance, the Grand Maester, or even her father, the High Summoner (though personally, he didn't blame her for keeping such important information a secret from Seymour. Of all the pretentious, untrustworthy, good-for-nothing...)

          The mercenary was just outside the dining room when Yuna made her announcement, back rested against the wall and arms folded absently across his chest as he inclined his head, listening from the shadows. Tonight...well, it was a big night for Yuna. She had been fretting over the issue for a long time, he knew, and had been wondering precisely what the best way might be to break her intentions to her father.

          "Yuna, that's silly, my dear." Seymour's soft voice wafted like a breeze from the dining room, gently chiding, as though he were speaking to a child.

          The mercenary closed his eyes. ...I'd never speak to you like that.

          "Come now, sit back down. Enough of this charade, hm?"

          But the sound of footsteps echoing across the great dining hall could already be heard, and in the shadows, a pair of eerily-glowing, mako-tinted eyes cracked open. At the same moment, the doors parted and Yuna swept through...and like a specter, Cloud swooped from the darkness to fall into step a few feet behind her without a backwards glance.

          He didn't speak to her immediately...he'd never really been good at conversations. For the most part, he kept to himself, eyes averted and expression solemn behind the high black collar framing his features. But when Yuna did address him at last, he looked up, looking for just a moment like a bad student who had been called out in class.

          What did he think of Braska's choice? Well...the blonde wanted Yuna to be happy, he knew that much. Braska's decision was out of love and concern for his daughter, but ultimately, the decision was suffocating for a free spirit like Yuna's.

          He didn't say any of this, however...wasn't even sure how to say it. Not that he ever really knew how to react to Yuna...usually, he wound up doing so with a kind of pained, somewhat grumpy awkwardness, forcing himself into the (to him) unnatural art of social interaction.

          His lips parted uncertainly as he trailed behind her, eyes lowering. He couldn't help but roll his eyes a little his himself, lips pressing together briefly in exasperation with himself. Why was she asking him, anyway? She knew he was no good at things like these...

          "So...what will...you do now?" he murmured finally, avoiding looking at her. Despite his massive sword and dark, solemn clothes, his voice was oddly soft, quiet (yet nothing like Seymour's - it was deeper, less effeminate), and usually rather uncertain. Particularly so, whenever he was talking to Yuna. "...Marry?"


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                                                The question he asked rang through her mind. What was next? When she thought agout it, she only really had two options, stay and get married to Seymour. not only was he man she didn't much care for, but he also was a man who only truly cared for himself. Seymour acted like he cared about Yuna, but she knew he didn't. By marrying Yuna he became one of the most powerful men in Spira. Her second option was more desirable, to run away and pursue her own dream. The only problem with that was the disappointment. Yuna placed her hands behind her back and leaned forward a little as she thought about Cloud's question. "I... I don't know. I don't want to marry Seymour. I want to become a High Summoner and help people, of course you already knew that," she said. Yuna often confided in Cloud. She found him easy to talk to and it was always nice, because he didn't judge her. He never told her what to do and what not to do. Maybe, some advice, but never a definite answer. Cloud in a way was a breath of fresh air. "I also can't just leave. I can't imagine disappointing my father." A sigh passed through her lips as she continued to look out on the water.

                                                Yuna turned around to look at the blonde male. A smile graced her features and she walked forward away from the edge and towards the streets of Bevelle. She needed to get away and she needed to get away now. All her life she's grown up on these streets. They were all she knew and all she would know if she did obey her father's every command. "Cloud, can you take me somewhere else? Somewhere outside of Bevelle?" she asked, hoping he would say yes. Yuna played with a ring on her finger and smiled when he gave her his answer. The two headed in some random direction and Yuna made sure she stayed close to Cloud. Right now was not the time for her to get into trouble. No, right now was going to be the day she would escape from this life, Even if it's only going to be a little while, she didn't care. It meant that she was going to at least have some taste of freedom. Maybe, it will even push her in the right direction. This would surely clear her mind and help her finally decide on what she wanted to do. She bit her lip and hoped that this would be true

                                                Upon arriving to their location, Yuna couldn't help, but gasp. It was breath taking, especially compared to the city. Here it was serene and beautiful, while there it was busy noisy, and nowhere near the beauty of all this. Yuna twirled around slowly, looking at the landscape and quite enjoying it. This was definitely the perfect place to be. "Oh, thank you Cloud," she gushed, hugging him without really thinking. Yuna smiled and walked further ahead, catching her bearings to this whole place. Suddenly, came to her mind and Yuna wondered how she should approach the topic. She wanted to leave Bevelle, but her father believed she couldn't take care of herself. Maybe, Cloud could teach her. He was a skilled fighter. She has seen him practice a few times, not like she would ever tell him that. Finally, she turned around, a gleam in her eyes. "Teach me how to fight.. Please," she said, giving him her best pleading face. Oh, how she badly wanted this.

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          "I don't want to marry Seymour."

          Cloud was ashamed of the very small and (for him) rare sense of justification and triumph he felt as Yuna uttered those words. He supposed he'd known it all along, because how many times had she voiced her frustrations to him in the past? Every time Seymour treated her like a child, or spoke down to her, or smiled to her in that self-affirming, all-knowing sort of way that he always did...Cloud had always known how Yuna felt about the marriage, really, but to actually hear the words spoken aloud...

          He dropped his gaze again. Confidence was not one of his strong suits regardless of how he felt about any given situation. Especially when it came to Yuna. Because as much as Cloud silently disliked Seymour, the man was the Grand Maester and a symbol for all of Spira. If Yuna didn't want someone with that much power and prestige to give, then why on earth would she want someone like...someone like...

          "What?"

          The request pulled the mercenary rather abruptly out of his thoughts, and he looked taken aback for a moment. Outside Bevelle?

          His glowing eyes rose skeptically toward the high walls of the city, and he found himself hesitating. Taking the Lady Yuna herself outside of those walls, outside the cocoon of safety and protection that had been built up around her for years...it didn't seem like a good idea at all.

          The hypocracy lashed at him, though. How could he think to criticize Lord Braska on his overbearing ways regarding his daughter if Cloud himself was no better...?

          A quiet, reluctant sort of sigh escaped him, and he looked around tersely for a few moments as though expecting to find the right answer in one of his pockets.

          "Just...for a little while."

          Not quite meeting her gaze, the blonde slipped past Yuna and began heading stiffly toward the far east side of Bevelle, holster and sword swinging across his lower back as he did so. It all seemed like a really bad idea...

          Still, he managed to smuggle Yuna out successfully through a side entrance to the city, telling her to keep her head low and avoid making eye contact with anybody until they were on the other side of the walls. After all, the entire city would be thrown into a panic if the Lady Yuna was rumored to have left the premises...

          The vast forest clearing he brought her to seemed to entertain the young summoner, and though most people would not have noticed the change in Cloud's face, a faint smile did touch his features for a moment as he watched her excitement and wonderment. It was...good to see her happy.

          The smile was quickly lost behind a wall of mingled alarm and near-panic, however, as all of a sudden Yuna had swept his tense, bony frame into a joyful embrace. Momentarily dazed, he couldn't even think straight to react at first, the panic manifesting into a look of mild annoyance as he fought to keep his expression neutral.

          Wh...what is she...!

          Pressing his lips together again in exasperation, Cloud's eyes sidled down to the nest of light brown hair against his cheek, then up around the forest clearing as though searching for someone to rescue him from such a predicament.

          Nobody came to his aid, however, and after a few, breathless moments, he slowly, hesitantly began to raise his hand to close around her back and return the embrace-,

          But she was gone before he could, once again moving joyfully through the clearing and twirling around to admire the landscape, leaving Cloud momentarily numb, quiet, and frozen with his arm half-raised in thin air.

          Quickly, his gaze dropped awkwardly away from her again, and he returned his arm to his side, withdrawing to silently berate himself until Yuna's voice pulled him from his thoughts. He looked as though she had just punched him in the face.

          ...Did she say 'fight'?

          A small noise sounded in the back of Cloud's throat, and he quickly dropped his gaze again, giving a sidelong look to the trees around them instead. "Th...that's crazy...what are you..."

          He was...he was supposed to protect her, not brawl with her. The very notion made him feel dizzy, and he let out an awkward cough, shifting his weight a little and trying to figure out what to do with his hands. "I...can't."


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                                                A pout started to form as he shot her down. Why was everyone so against her today? Even Cloud and he always has been on her side. Yuna went over to him and grabbed his hand, her pout still on her face. "Oh, please, Cloud. It's not like I'm asking you to fight me," she said, pleading with her eyes. For awhile the two just stood there, staring at each other. Yuna sighed and dropped his hand. Slowly, she walked away, clasping her hands behind her back and fiddling with the rings there. Maybe, learning to fight wasn't the smartest idea, but Yuna didn't want to be useless all her life. She wanted to have more meaning in her life then just this. Yuna didn't want to play wife, she didn't want to stay at home all day and do nothing. Her life needed something and she has been denied that over and over again. If she went on her journey to become a High Summoner, she knew that Cloud would be there with her, every step of the way. She knew he would be doing all the fighting, but somehow, this made her feel uneasy. She didn't like the thought of allowing him to do so much for her, when she couldn't do anything for him. Even though he was her guardian, her protector, it still wasn't a thought she liked. He's done so much for her and yet she's done so little for him. Maybe, asking him to teach her to fight was crossing the line. It was just that it made it where she could help him, instead of stand on the side lines and watch.

                                                Yuna looked up at the sky and suddenly started to wonder what it felt like to be a bird. They were free to go where they wanted when they wanted. No one would tell what to do or where to go. That's what Yuna wanted. She wanted to be like a bird and be able to free herself from her prison. Suddenly, she turned back to Cloud and gave him a smile. "At least teach me how to defend myself. That's all I really want," she said walking over to him, hoping that he wouldn't deny her request again. "I don't want to be totally useless if I do go on my journey. I want to be able to help you. You've done so much for me Cloud and I haven't been able to do anything for you in return." She sighed and looked at her feet. It wasn't her place to do anything for him. Yuna didn't need to repay him for his efforts, when he was only doing his job. It was just that Yuna felt that she did need to. He not only protected her, but he also listened, when he didn't have to. It wasn't in his job description and yet whenever she needed someone to talk to, he would be the one she would go to. Yuna had no one else. Her mother had long since passed away and her father wasn't the easiest to talk to. Seymour made her feel bad about her hopes and dreams. He would not only shut her down, but also make her feel totally and completely useless. Then there was Cloud. No judging, no using such a voice that made her feel like a child and not almost a grown woman. He was just Cloud and for that she was thankful.

                                                With a small smile on her face, Yuna clasped both of his hands in hers and looked up at him. "Thank you," was all she said. She didn't know why, but the right words just weren't forming. There was so much she wanted to tell him, so much she wanted to say and yet her mind drew a blank. Maybe, it was just that there was so much to say and not enough words to say them. There was a noise behind her and Yuna turned to see a fiend standing in the clearing with them. Her eyes went wide and Yuna moved behind Cloud, knowing that there really wasn't much else she can do. Right now about all Yuna could do was heal a person, which was only good after a battle. In the midst of one, she was just liable to get in the way. Yuna bit her lip and watched as the male fought. She kept wondering what she should do. Without knowing how to fight, she would just get in the way. So, Yuna stood there, fiddling with her hands until Cloud had killed the thing. She went over to him. "Are you hurt?" she asked, her voice soft. Yuna inspected him, looking for any injuries. Overall he looked fine, but to be sure, she pressed her hand to his chest and closed her eyes. Within seconds Yuna could feel a tingling in her arm that spread down to her fingertips. Slowly, the feeling faded and Yuna pulled her hand away. "There," she said, giving him a smile. Well, at least she was able to do something for Cloud.

                                                ooc ;; for the sake of adding something to the post
                                                i added the fiend

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          Cloud almost winced when she grabbed his hand, the gesture making him feel terribly guilty...he was sure if he met her earnest gaze, he wouldn't be able to say no. Gloved fingers remained limp in Yuna's grasp, and he turned his head away to one side, expression somewhat pained. Was it really a good idea? He wanted her to be happy, of course, but having her happy and having her safe didn't always go hand in hand.

          Maybe she's tired of me.

          Not so far-fetched, considering he spent most of his time following her around to make sure no harm came to her. But of course, if she could defend herself adequately, there was really no need for a bodyguard. Maybe it was what she wanted, though the thought stung a little. Despite the fact that arguably the most powerful man in the world, Lord Braska, had chosen Cloud out of the teeming throngs of men upon men who came from all over the world to prove themselves worthy of becoming Lady Yuna's bodyguard (most of them at least twice Cloud's size and weight), Cloud still didn't really have that much confidence in his abilities or position. Maybe Yuna would be better off defending herself. Because what if he couldn't? If he failed to protect her, he...how was he supposed to live with something like that? He'd almost died twice in the past trying to save her, and his body was littered with a lifetime of scars that she didn't know about...but if he really did fail her, if he did die...

          Well. The thought of any harm befalling Yuna because of his failures was too much to bear.

          He looked up a little as Yuna spoke again, giving a slight, brief shake of his head. It always made him extremely wary when she talked about going on her journey, as much as he wanted to be supportive. "You're not...supposed to help me. Doesn't really matter what happens to me, s'long as you're safe."

          He gave a determining nod as he said it, and shifted a pair of faintly glowing eyes to meet hers for just a moment. "What I mean is...you don't owe me anything. So..."

          He trailed off, unsure of where he was going with the statement. Was he saying no? Could he say no to Yuna?

          She thanked him, and he drew out of his thoughts abruptly, startled. "Wh...what? Why?"

          And...why was she still holding his hands in her tiny ones? Face drawn in exasperation again, Cloud found himself glancing sideways to avoid her gaze as she grasped his fingers between hers, expression surly.

          There was no time for a debate, however, and his heightened senses kicked into overdrive right before Yuna turned at the sound of the approaching fiend. Drawing his sword automatically as Yuna moved behind him, he moved to strike it down, which really didn't take all that long. If taking out a stray fiend was the highest level of skill required to be Lady Yuna's bodyguard, Cloud would have had a lot more competition for his position.

          Still, her concern was touching, and his expression abruptly softened again as she came hurrying toward him after he had dispatched the monster. "I'm fine-," he tried to dismiss, hesitating when he felt the vaguely familiar feeling of warmth spread through him as she cast her healing spell.

          "You...didn't need to do that," he uttered softly, still looking awkwardly off to one side with mounding anxiety as her hand lingered on his chest until, finally, he cleared his throat gruffly and turned away from her. After a few moments, he realized that the correct response probably should have been "thank you", and groaned inwardly as he kicked himself.

          Ultimately, though, it was his skepticism in his own ability to protect her that finally had him consenting to her original request. If he couldn't protect her, she needed to be able to protect herself in his place. And so, he paused for a few moments after having turned away from her before, finally, he heaved a long sigh.

          "Move your feet further apart," he uttered softly, turning around to face her again and placing his hands very gently on her shoulders to guide her, twisting her body sideways slightly. "Don't face the enemy head-on, you'll leave too many openings."

          Moving around behind her, he nudged her feet a little further apart with his shoe and, after hesitating for a moment, slid his arms around her from behind so he could take her by the wrists and raise her hands into the correct position to defend herself. "Make sure...make sure your arms are always protecting your chest and your face. Don't...ever let your guard down."


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                                                For some odd reason, Yuna felt greatly disappointed when he turned away from her. A frown was on her face and she wondered if he really didn't want her to return his help. Cloud may say Yuna didn't owe him anything, but she felt she did. Yuna sighed and looked down at her feet. Maybe, he found her as useless as everyone else. That could be why he doesn't want her to return the favor. She didn't want to be seen as useless though, especially to Cloud. He may be her bodyguard, but she saw him as a friend.

                                                Cloud spoke, surprising Yuna. Well, no not that he talked, but it was what he said. She looked at him confused as he told her to spread her feet apart. What was he talking about? Yuna stared at him confused, but did as he said. With his hands on her shoulder, she followed his movements. A smile crossed her face as she realized what he was doing. He was teaching her how to defend herself. It felt kind of weird to be doing this in dress, but of course she didn't have much else to wear. Her father didn't approve of girls wearing pants, so he made sure she always had a dress. Of course it was also traditional clothes for a summoner.

                                                As Cloud put his arms around her, Yuna started to feel a little funny. Her stomach knotted up and she started to feel butterflies in her stomach. Really, she had no idea as to what it was. It was probably nothing, but still it worried Yuna. She shook her head mentally and allowed her arms to moved into the correct position. The two continued this and Yuna listened closely. She took every one of his words and locked them away, to be sure that she remembered.

                                                Yuna was so focused on the words he was saying and the movements he was making that she had completely lost track of time. That is until she realized just how dark it was getting. "Oh," she said looking up at the sky. It was starting to turn an inky black and Yuna bit her lip. She wanted to continue, but knew that if they didn't head back soon, then they would be in some serious trouble. A shiver ran down her spine and she sighed. "Can we continue tomorrow?" Yuna turned around, forgetting how close they were. A small gasp escaped her throat and Yuna started to blush. She smiled at the blonde and took one step back, before grabbing his hand and running back the way they had come in.

                                                It sucked to know that she would be leaving this sanctuary, but Yuna knew they had to. At least for the day. Tomorrow they could return and either continue their lesson or just relax. To be honest Yuna was ok with either. Once the pair made it to the entrance, Yuna slowed down and let go of Cloud's hand. "Thank you... For everything. Thank you for teaching me, for being there for me, for listening to me, for protecting me. In short thank you for being you, Cloud," she said, looking at him and smiling. Yuna placed her hands behind her back and clasped her hands together.

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Д ʀ є x ʂ ɩ ɳ ȿ . . . є ʋ є ʀ x ʄ ɵ ɾ ɠ ɩ ʋ ҽ η ?

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          Despite himself, Cloud also lost track of time, and by the time Yuna spoke up the skies had become dark, illuminating the mercenary's faintly-glowing mako eyes as he gazed up at it. He really shouldn't have kept Yuna out so long, but...spending time with her in such a way, instead of just following her around, it was...

          "Tomorrow?" He hesitated, but then gave a slow, reluctant nod. "...Yeah. We can come back."

          He wasn't sure how he felt about willingly leading the lady summoner outside her city walls in secret more than once, but he couldn't say no to Yuna's enthusiasm. Offering one of his faint, rare, awkward little smiles (which quickly faded into a mild panic as she took his hand in hers), he followed tersely behind her back toward the entrance of Bevelle. Security was tighter at night, of course, but they managed to sneak by without Yuna being recognized (it was dark, after all) and back toward the castle. It took him that long, but finally Cloud managed to muster up some kind of reciprocity to Yuna's thanks.

          "...Lady Yuna. I -,"

          "Oh, thank Yevon, milady, there you are!"

          Cloud's words were more or less lost under the soft (but currently loud and exasperated) tones of Seymour as he came hurrying toward Yuna no sooner had they reached the castle. The Grand Maester swept up to her gracefully, spreading his arms and looming fretfully as he fussed over her.

          "Oh, my dear, you had us worried sick...whatever were you doing, wandering the city so late at night..." Turning over his shoulder away from Yuna for a moment, Seymour's expression twisted viciously as he laid eyes on Cloud. "Worthless ingrate! You're supposed to keep her out of harm's way!"

          "..."

          Disregarding Cloud like a piece of trash, Seymour turned back to Yuna to address her in his (in Cloud's opinion) condescending, almost scolding fashion. "Come now, you poor dear...let's get you into some fresh clothes ready for dinner...it wouldn't do to keep your father waiting..."

          He ushered Yuna down the hall a little to try and get her walking in the direction of her room, then whipped around and advanced upon Cloud hastily, grabbing the mercenary's left, clothed arm and slamming him up against the wall.

          "So help me if it weren't for the Lady Yuna I would flay you within an inch of your life, boy," he hissed under his breath, his gaze murderous as he bore down on the mercenary from his Guado-sized height. "Remember your place. You answer to ME, not the Lady Yuna. And I won't have you tainting her with your peasant ways!"

          Cloud clenched his teeth, his fiery blue eyes narrowed in a near-flinch as he glared bitterly up at Seymour's furious face...but though it had nothing to do with nerves, he could feel a sweat beginning to break out over his features, and for just a moment, his eyes flickered down to the clothed arm Seymour was pinning against his chest, almost questioningly.

          "Oh yes." The Guado's sly, triumphant voice had Cloud's eyes snapping back up toward him. "I know all about the Stigma. I know."

          As if to illustrate his point, his eerie, elongated fingers curled more tightly into Cloud's covered forearm, the simple action making the mercenary's knees buckle underneath him so that Seymour pinning him to the wall was the only thing holding him up.

          "And don't think I won't be the first one in line to find your replacement once you're gone," Seymour hissed. "Worthless!"

          He shoved away from Cloud and turned on his heel, striding briskly down the hall in Yuna's wake to catch up with the girl on the way to her room and leaving Cloud to close his eyes and slide grimly down the wall to the ground, clutching his left arm. At least Yuna was never around to witness Seymour's antics...


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                                                Yuna wanted to know what Cloud was going to say. It could have been important or something. Regardless, she wanted to know. Maybe it was the tone of voice he had. Yuna would confront him later, when they were alone. Of course in her own house that was easier said then done. The only way to get totally privacy was to go into her room. Yuna knew that it wasn't usually the smartest idea, but it was the only way she could really talk to him. Even if they had to whisper, well at least she did. Cloud didn't usually talk when she was confiding in him. Sometimes she wished he would. She wanted to hear what he had to say on the subject, what his thoughts and opinions were. Of course having someone listen was far better then having no one. So, Yuna never made him speak, unless he wanted to say something.

                                                Just as Cloud was about to speak, Seymour decided to show up. He expressed his worry over her and scolded Cloud. Instantly, Yuna felt bad. She didn't think about the fact that they would blame Cloud and not her. Really it was her fault as to why they were out so late. Cloud was just letting her have what she wanted. Later Yuna would explain this to her dad, leaving out the detail of leaving the city and her lesson. There was no need to get Cloud into further trouble. Besides she wanted all of that to be left a secret. A sigh escaped her lips and she looked down at the ground. She scrunched up her face as Seymour talked to her, making her feel like a child. He did it every time she did something bad in his opinion. It drove her nuts really, but it wasn't her place to say anything. Seymour was higher then her in Spira's hierarchy and speaking ill of him would be greatly frowned upon.

                                                Yuna was going to say something, telling Seymour that it really wasn't Cloud's fault, but the man pushed her towards her room. The female did as she was told, sighing to herself. One of these days she would get away from Seymour. She didn't care how or when, but she knew that she would. There was no way she was going to marry someone like him. He was so rude with his words, though his tone was always so polite. Yuna slipped into her room and shut her door, before Seymour could enter. Quickly, Yuna changed into something else, that was a little less traditional, considering she wouldn't be going anywhere.

                                                It was no surprise that when Yuna opened the door Seymour was there waiting for her. It was also no surprise that Cloud was standing at a distance. Yuna flashed Cloud a small smile, but ignored Seymour as she walked down to the dining area, where her father was already waiting. The instant Yuna looked at his face, she knew she was about to be scolded. "Where were you Yuna? The whole city was in an uproar," he said, his voice stern. Yuna cringed and looked down at her plate.

                                                "Cloud and I just went for a walk. I didn't want to go back at the moment and I had pleaded with Cloud to let me stay out. It's my fault, I'm sorry," she said, feeling Seymour stare at her as if he knew this were a lie. Well, it wasn't entirely a lie, there were just bits and pieces missing from her story. Bits and pieces that she wasn't about to disclose.

                                                "Well, don't do it again." Yuna nodded at her father's request, knowing she would have to pay better attention tomorrow. The rest of dinner was eaten in silence and Yuna didn't once look at the two males. Seymour kept glancing at her, waiting for her to fess up what they were really doing, but that was something that would stay between the summoner and her protector.

                                                When Yuna finished eating, she stood up and bowed, before leaving for her room, with Cloud behind her. Another sigh escaped her lips and she pulled Cloud into her room, closing and locking the door, so no one interrupted them. "I'm sorry, for getting you into trouble," she spoke softly and quietly, not wanting either one of the two outside of her room to hear. Yuna sat down and placed her head in her hands. "Seymour was terribly mean to you and... I feel like such a child when he speaks to me. It's like he's using a baby voice, without actually using a baby voice." She sat herself down and gestured for Cloud to take a seat as well. "Oh, what was it you were going to say, before Seymour so rudely interrupted," she said, hoping he still voiced whatever it was he was going to say.
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Д ʀ є x ʂ ɩ ɳ ȿ . . . є ʋ є ʀ x ʄ ɵ ɾ ɠ ɩ ʋ ҽ η ?

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          It was a while before Cloud appeared in his usual place near the dining hall to wait for Yuna to finish eating. First he had to get to the point where he could pull himself to his feet, and then, feeling a grim sort of resentment toward Seymour for causing such things, he'd had to throw up as well. It had been a while since he'd had to do that...long enough that it was almost a surprise to purge the black sludge from his body.

          Almost.

          But indeed, by the time Yuna was settled for dinner he was back in the shadows as usual, and falling into step automatically behind her once she was finished as he always did. He tried to wipe some of the sweat from his forehead and the back of his neck as he followed her, expression stern as he moved through the long halls. Of course, though he would follow the young summoner to the ends of the earth, he would not follow her into her bedroom without permission...and so, when Yuna pulled him inside without warning, Cloud was more than taken aback, especially when she closed the door behind them.

          Back and shoulders instantly becoming stiff, he set his jaw firmly and slid his eyes off to one side, horrified. He...couldn't be in Lady Yuna's room...not with the door closed, and...not him. He wasn't anybody, and especially not somebody who belonged in Lady Yuna's room...

          "...What?" Taken aback, he realized she was speaking to him amongst all his fretting, and tried hastily to zone back in to what she was saying. 'Sorry'?

          "Doesn't matter." He shifted his gaze away from her again as she apologized. He wished she wouldn't...though, his expression softened a little as she spoke of her frustration toward Seymour treating her like a child again. He gave a hesitant, awkward nod, trying to figure out where he was supposed to be looking without being inappropriate. He shouldn't be in here...

          What I was...going to say? He shook his head a little, blonde hair flying briefly out in all directions as he did so. "It's...nothing. Just...that you shouldn't thank me, there's...no need. Just doing my job."


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                                                There was an awkward tension in the room. Yuna really wished he would relax, but she knew he wouldn't. He never seemed to relax. A sigh escaped her lips and she looked down at the floor as she thought about... Well, there was no particular thing she was thinking about. Mainly, about her life here at home, which naturally sent her to thoughts of escaping her life. She wondered if Cloud would try to stop her or if he would follow without a word. Would Seymour follow her or even her father? Seymour probably would, but only because Yuna was to be his wife and it would be quite troublesome if she were to just simply leave. This somehow pleased her. Making Seymour chase her down and try to bring her home. Put him into a frenzy when she refused. This thought made her smile. Yuna looked up and jumped a little when she saw that Cloud was in her room. She felt horrible for forgetting about him.

                                                Yuna stood up. "But... It's not your job to listen to me or even teach me how to protect myself to some extent. You took your job and went above and beyond what was asked of you. That's why I'm thankful. Sometimes I feel like I burden you with everything," she said, running a hand through her hair. Yuna's earlier question to herself came to mind and before she could stop herself, the question popped out of her mouth. "If I were to leave, would you follow me?" She cocked her head to the side and watched him.

                                                The chance to leave for her journey was becoming a very real option in her mind. Maybe after some more lessons with Cloud, she would be ready. Yuna had a feeling she already knew his answer. She knew that he would say yes, because it was his job to protect her. Even if she left her life her behind, he would come with her, because it was his job. Yuna sighed, wishing it was something beyond that. For some reason the thought that he was doing all this because of his job made her kind of disappointed. Really she wanted it to happen for some other reason, though that wasn't likely to happen. "Would you follow me, even if it wasn't your job?" she asked as she looked down. Her voice was quieter then usual, but it was loud enough that Cloud should be able to hear her.

                                                There was a knock at her door and Yuna jumped. "I... I'll be right out," she called. Footsteps receded down the hall and Yuna looked at Cloud, hoping to get an answer. She bit her lip and watched him for a second, before she could feel her cheeks heat up. Yuna looked away and started to fiddle with her earring.

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Д ʀ є x ʂ ɩ ɳ ȿ . . . є ʋ є ʀ x ʄ ɵ ɾ ɠ ɩ ʋ ҽ η ?

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          "-You'll never be a burden."

          It was said bluntly, abruptly, even before Yuna had finished speaking the words. Cloud seemed to realize the hastiness in which he retorted, however, and grimaced a little, feeling foolish.

          Tired, glowing eyes flickered sharply toward the door as a knock sounded, and once again, it seemed as though every muscle in the mercenary's body locked up, tense and rigid where he stood. What would anybody think, if they saw him in here?! Not that there was anything to think about, but...if it looked like there was...

          He cracked his neck in a kind of exasperation, wishing grumpily that he was just somewhere - or someone - else right now. The footsteps, however, faded away again after Yuna called out, and Cloud's breath came out in a short, sharp sigh. His eyes drew back to the young woman in front of him, sincere as ever but still reluctant to speak.

          "What do you mean...leave?" he uttered quietly. "For how long?"

          Though...the question was somewhat rhetorical, and he felt as though he already knew the answer. The idea...it both troubled him and made him feel a faint sense of pride toward the stubborn young woman. To go from everything she had ever known to a whole new world, a whole other life, was impressive to say the least. But it still troubled him greatly.

          Though perhaps not as much as Yuna's question, and Cloud literally had to swallow the abrupt "yes" that was trying to force its way out of his throat...there was a long, long pause.

          But he didn't trust his expression, in the end, and turned quietly away from her before speaking. "No," he uttered quietly. Somehow, the words - the lie - was far more painful than Seymour's damage to his arm could ever be. "If it wasn't my job...I wouldn't follow you any longer."


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                                                Hearing those words coming from Cloud made her lose all hope in what they had. It was a friendship that she cherished, but all he saw was a girl who needed to be protected. At least that's what she believed. Cloud told her that if it wasn't his job he wouldn't follow her. So, maybe all this really was, was for his job. Maybe, he found that he had to be forced to listen to her. There was really no one else for her to turn to, but him. She really hated that idea, but now it all seemed true. Yuna could feel tears forming and she didn't look up at they fell. Why was she crying? She shouldn't be so worried about Cloud's feelings towards her or even what he thought about her. Yuna was his boss' daughter, nothing more and it should stay that way. Yet, Yuna didn't want it to be that way. She so badly needed a friend and now even that was being denied her. A hand was brought to her mouth as Yuna fought back sobs. She didn't want Cloud to hear her crying, though with all the sniffling it would be pretty obvious that he would know.

                                                Suddenly her door flew open and Seymour stepped in. As soon as his eyes set on Cloud they turned into slits. If looks could kill, Yuna knew that Cloud would be dead five thousand times over with just that one look. She quickly rubbed at her eyes, but the tears kept coming and Seymour noticed this. "My dear, what has this man done to you?" he asked in his condescending tone. Yuna shook her head, not wanting Cloud to get into anymore trouble. Of course that wasn't the case. Seymour ripped Cloud out of her room, grabbing his clothed arm. Yuna couldn't help, but notice how Cloud winced. Regardless the girl followed and tried to pull Seymour away. "Stop it, he didn't do anything." It was technically true. The only thing he did was tell her the truth, that was no reason to punish him.

                                                Somehow Yuna had wedged herself between the two men and pushed on Seymour's chest. "Stop now! All he did was tell me something that I didn't want to hear, but I will have to face regardless. That is no reason to punish him," she said, looking Seymour right in the eye. The man stared at her and scoffed, before leaving the two. Yuna didn't look back at Cloud. Instead she turned her head down, wanting to use her short hair to cover her face. "I'm sorry about Seymour." Her voice was just above a whisper and without a second thought she went into her room, feeling the tears start to fall again. Yuna shut her door and curled up into a ball on her bed. What was she doing?

                                                ooc ;; uh i would have time skipped
                                                but i didnt know how far in the future we should go
                                                so... yea lol

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Д ʀ є x ʂ ɩ ɳ ȿ . . . є ʋ є ʀ x ʄ ɵ ɾ ɠ ɩ ʋ ҽ η ?

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          Cloud never had been, and never would be, a large man, but compared to Seymour, who was half-Guado, the difference in stature was even more noticeable. Still, it was likely that the mercenary could have put up more than a good fight against Seymour, had he the ability to do so. And if anyone but Seymour had grabbed him in such a way, they likely would have lost that fight.

          Yet he had never stood up to Seymour, not even once. Not even when the much taller, broader man loomed over him in such a triumphant and mocking way, no matter what he said or did...Cloud never did anything more than meet the Guado's eyes with his own cold, emotionless stare, silent and waiting.

          Because although he may have told Yuna it was just a job to him...it was a job that he'd rather die than lose. He'd never be allowed to stay at her side, if the job was taken from him, would never be able to protect her...would never be able to see her again.

          And Seymour knew it. Yuna may not have known the lengths Cloud would go to to keep his job, but somehow, Seymour did. He always had. And he knew that he had the power to take that job away from Cloud...the power to make sure the mercenary never laid eyes upon Yuna again. Needless to say, he took advantage of it.

          His vision distorted briefly, a loud ringing filling his ears and drowning out Seymour's words as the pressure around his arm increased from being grabbed...for the second time that day, he found himself being slammed up against a wall after being hauled out of Yuna's room, and he couldn't help the soft, strained noise that escaped him from the impact.

          But then...suddenly, Yuna was between them, and Cloud's senses were swept up suddenly in the flowery essence that he had long since come to associate with Yuna's natural beauty. Hazy, green-blue eyes cracked open, and the young woman came into blurry focus before him, pushing Seymour back.

          Yuna...?

          He almost didn't want her to interfere. For once...he found that he and Seymour agreed on something. He had made Yuna cry...and though he knew the lie he had told her was for the best, he still hated himself for it. If Seymour wanted to rip him to shreds for making Yuna cry, well...Cloud rather wanted to let him.

          Instead, though, Seymour was striding back down the corridor, leaving them alone once again...but only for a moment.

          All at once, Yuna was sweeping back into her room and closing the door, though not before Cloud saw the tears sparkling down her face.

          "Yuna-!"

          His quiet voice didn't carry, and he found himself suddenly alone in the corridor, his arm outstretched toward the door she had disappeared behind. His breath left him in a despairing sigh, and he dropped his head, leaning against the wall for a few moments in defeat and gripping his arm.

          Yuna. I'm sorry...

          He lingered for a few moments, almost venturing to knock on her door...but then deciding against it and moving back down the corridor away from her. It wasn't often that he visited the room that Lord Braska had assigned to him when he had first been hired to protect the man's daughter, but for now, he couldn't get there fast enough...rather than entering his room, he instead collapsed into it, his breathing heavy by the time he hit the floor and waited for the world to stop spinning. He didn't know how Seymour had found out his secret, or when, but the man had really done too much damage this time. He could feel an attack coming on, though he hadn't had one in quite some time...unsurprisingly, his body reacted badly to the sudden agitation of the poison substance that had been coursing through him for so long, and he could feel it flowing from the skin beneath his arm, the ringing in his ears, could feel his eyes flickering between soft mako blue and a violent, slitted green...images flashing through his line of vision against his will...and finally, he lost consciousness on the floor of his room, his hand rested limply over his covered arm where he slept.


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((Timeskips...well, skipping to whenever is fine with me. Cloud will be awake.))

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