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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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          Mushroom Rock Road. It was a pain to traverse it without a Chocobo, but it wasn't as though they had enough gil for one of those. And Cloud wasn't particularly thrilled about the journey ahead as they made it to the edge of Macalania Woods, especially since there were quite a few people milling around the south end of the road when they arrived.

          "Keep your hood up," came his quiet instructions to Yuna, taking her with surprising gentleness by the arm to lead her through the clusters of people chatting away near the chocobo enclosure. For a moment, he considered 'borrowing' one of the massive birds, but they didn't need to call any unnecessary attention to themselves.

          Although, come to think of it, his spiky blonde hair and glowing eyes were a dead giveaway as well, and he could only hope that word hadn't traveled as far as Mushroom Rock just yet.

          Rummaging around in one of his pockets, he did manage to find some spare change...enough to wrangle a pair of dark black sunglasses from one of the merchants milling around the entrance to the road and slipping them over his eyes to cover the glow. He'd always been ashamed of the glow, anyway. It made him look like a monster, and people could always more about his past than he was comfortable with just by looking at the glow in his mako-infused eyes. He detested the kinds of looks he got because of it.

          The crowds thinned out as they made their way away from the entrance to Mushroom Rock Road and further down the beaten path. Admittedly, the scenery was breath-taking on all sides, and he was glad, at least, that Yuna could enjoy looking at all of it as they passed by. He told her to stay close to him again, as they would more than likely run into fiends without a Chocobo to ride. Not to mention that certain parts of the road were unguarded by railings and had high, dangerous drop-offs.

          "...Look," he murmured after a while, absently putting his arm around Yuna's shoulders to guide her to the edge and make sure her balance was secure before gesturing for her to gaze down at the fields below. "This is where they breed a lot of the wild Chocobos that end up gettin' sold all over Spira."

          It was a beautiful sight - rolling hills, lush greenery, and all kinds of exotic plants...and plenty of Chocobos, of course, all of them in a variety of different colors just like the plantlife surrounding them.

          "See?" Cloud murmured gently, squeezing her shoulders a little as he held onto them close to his body to make sure she didn't fall. "A lot of the military chocobos in Bevelle come from here."


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((I probably have all the locations completely wrong. Mushroom Rock Road is probably nowhere near Macalania Woods, and Macalania is probably nowhere near Bevelle. But...whatever. It's somewhere to go))
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                                                Things seemed to become less awkward and tense as Yuna started to relax a little. She started to enjoy the scenery more, but Yuna still kept pretty quiet. She didn't complain about her feet starting to hurt or said anything about being tired. Actually, Yuna just didn't say anything, though she was longing for a break. It was just that she didn't want to be a bother or even come off as whiny. So, instead she swallowed the words and dealt with the pay. Besides it was better getting use to walking this much now, right? They would be doing this a lot in the future and if she didn't get use to it now, then it would only get harder as they went. As instructed Yuna kept close to Cloud. What she really wanted was for Cloud not to come off as cold anymore. Sure, he's always been distant, but never cold. His usual being quiet and this silence were very different and it made Yuna uncomfortable. She hoped that by keeping her head down and not being so bothersome that he might loosen up a little. Yuna had thrust him into this situation, so it was only for the best that she try to keep herself in check for once. No, more outlandish ideas that could get them in trouble and no more throwing them both into danger. This journey may have been what she wanted, but she didn't want it to happen this way.

                                                Yuna had gotten use to being in Macalania Woods and it's beauty, so it was a little strange when they got to Mushroom Rock Road. It wasn't like it was totally and completely different, it was just weird to Yuna. Never had she thought she would ever found things like this. Bevelle was so boring in comparison. Yuna smiled to herself and looked around, just barely catching Cloud's order. Quickly, she slipped her hood up onto her head and swallowed when Cloud grabbed his arm. It could have just been that he was so gentle or that he had even touched her, but Yuna's heart started to pound in her chest. The reaction confused her greatly, but she pushed it to the side, thinking it was probably just all her nerves and excitement.

                                                After a bit Cloud stopped them and placed his arm around Yuna's shoulder. She could feel her stomach knot up and twist and when she got to look down, her whole face lit up. It was gorgeous around here and she got to see so many Chocobos in one place. Yuna placed her hand over her mouth and took in everything, telling herself that her body's reaction were of what she was seeing and nothing more. Yuna was barely even aware of Cloud holding onto her shoulders to make sure she didn't fall. "This is so beautiful," she whispered, her fingers curling into her palm, but keeping her hands up so her chin was being covered. Oh, she so badly wanted to hug Cloud, but knew that wasn't the best idea. Not here. It was dangerous and one little mistake and one or both could end up dead. That was the last thing either of them needed.

                                                Instead Yuna turned back to look at Cloud and kissed his cheek gently. "Thank you," she said, with a small smile. Yuna looked forward again, still trying to take it all in. God, she wished she could go down there. Of course she couldn't and of course they had to keep moving. Yuna sighed and followed Cloud when they finally started to move again. The whole scene had distracted her to such a point that she had forgotten about her aching feet until the moment they started walking again. Yuna winced a little as she took a step and hissed when she took another. This wasn't going to turn out well. Cloud was bound to notice and if he didn't, he would notice how slow she was being.

                                                ooc ;; sorry for not getting this up yesterday
                                                i was in a funk xP

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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 looked as though he had just been struck across the place with an anvil, his expression dazed as a kiss was planted against his cheek. His hand came up blankly to brush over the spot as Yuna swept away from him, feeling rather overwhelmed for a moment or so.

          Realizing he was still standing at the edge of the cliff, he gave one final, dazed glance down to the valley below and then moved away from it, trying to remember which way they were going down the straight, narrow road...and trying to remember what his name was as his fingers lingered against his cheek.

          "Y...yeah. Beautiful," he agreed absently, though his eyes were lingering on Yuna's retreating form as he said it, not the scenery below them.

          Feeling foolish, he shook his head to clear it and berated himself mentally for what felt like the millionth time. Yuna was engaged, and whether she liked her fiance or not, Seymour was known for his power and prestige. Next to the Grand Maester, Yuna would never notice someone like...well. Someone like a would-be penniless bodyguard.

          Sliding the dark shades up his nose a little, Cloud paused as mako-enhanced senses picked up a small wince from nearby. His grip came suddenly and firmly around Yuna's arm, halting her in her tracks.

          "Are you all right?" he demanded immediately, his voice stern as he forgot all about his usual hesitance and reservations around her (he usually did forget whenever he thought she was injured or in trouble). "Did you get hurt?"

          He looked her up and down as he held her arm, trying to recall whether there was any point on their journey so far that could have had her wind up injured. Maybe she was just tired of walking...he had been pushing her pretty hard, he realized with a twinge of guilt. He'd only been trying to keep them from getting caught, but...

          I should have been more careful with her.

          He lowered his eyes for a moment. "Come on," he murmured quietly, turning and leaning down so she could climb up onto his back.


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((It happens))
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                                                His eyes were on her. Yuna could feel Cloud watching her as she walked away from him and of course he could tell that she was in pain. Suddenly, Cloud's hand stopped her from moving. She looked up at him with wide eyes, finding herself at a loss for words. Of course she knew the answer he was looking for, she just couldn't get the words out. In the end she didn't have to since it seemed that Cloud had put the pieces together. Yuna climbed up onto his back and held on tightly. "I didn't want to be a bother," she whispered with a sigh. Yuna rested her head on her arms, turning her head to the side to where her hair was brushing his neck.

                                                Yuna watched the scenery pass as Cloud carried her. She still couldn't help, but feel pathetic at that moment. No matter what she did, she couldn't make herself seem useful. Maybe, all she was good for was healing and sending souls. Even then she wasn't sure if she was any good. The only person Yuna has ever healed was Cloud, but it was always minor things a few cuts and bruises. She's never healed broken bones, deep cuts, or anything that could possible be worse then that. She knew she could heal someone, but she didn't know as to what extent. The only thing she did know was that she could only heal injuries, not diseases.

                                                A sigh passed through her lips and she started to fiddle with her fingers. She tugged at her sleeves, getting lost in her thoughts.

                                                occ ;; ugh this is so bad xP

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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 could...never be a bother.

          Cloud continued in silence, all too aware of the gentle, flowery scent that was now assaulting his senses with Yuna atop his back, or the brush of her silky hair against his neck every so often as she leaned onto him...grumpily, he kept his eyes trained ahead, depositing Yuna only briefly to strike down a fiend before gently gathering her back up again and continuing.

          It was a hot day, at least in these parts, but not to the point where he felt as though he was going to pass out from heat exhaustion or something. With any luck, they'd be able to clear the road and continue onward before the end of the day.

          In the silence (at least on his part), Cloud found his mind drifting uneasily, and before long, he began to dwell.

          "...Lady Yuna," came his eventual, quiet voice, reluctant to speak. He'd never once called her just 'Yuna'. "I...told you that you were just a job, but...you came to...save me. You'd risk everything...for someone who'd tell you something like that?"

          Even if he'd been lying when he said those words, he still felt a heavyset guilt in his chest. He was relatively certain that he didn't deserve to have Yuna throw anything away for his sake, nevermind her life and livelihood, and possibly her future as well. "You must really...hate Seymour."

          At least, you must do if you felt like the only other option was tagging along out here with me.

          He paused by a traveling merchant and tipped a few sparse pieces of gil into the man's hand in exchange for a corked glass bottle of water. He paused, handing the bottle up to Yuna before continuing on his way down the path, his eyes trained on the ground in front of him along with his usual deep frown.

          "I just...didn't think it'd be worth it to you."


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                                                Every time Cloud had to put her down to fight, Yuna's feet would hurt and send pain up her body. She wasn't use to pain. Not this kind at least. Sure, she's scraped her knee, gotten a paper cut, and other small injuries, but nothing that seemed to last so long. Even after being on Cloud's back for long periods of time it would still hurt. Maybe, it was just something she would have to get use to or maybe it will be something that will eventually fade away. Yuna kept dwelling on these thoughts, the only thing pulling her out was being set down. Until Cloud finally spoke up. Lady Yuna... She really hated that name. It was something Seymour called her and demanded all the staff to do the same. If it was anyone else demanding this, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. No... Lady Yuna was just so formal and made her feel a bit uncomfortable. There was no need to be so formal around her. She was only human after all. Yuna sighed and listened as Cloud spoke.

                                                "It wasn't because I hate Seymour," she spoke softly. Yuna placed her chin on his shoulder gently and took a deep breath. "Getting away was a plus, but at the time, I was thinking about you dying. I couldn't stand the thought. It made my stomach twist into the most uncomfortable knots and my throat felt like it was being closed up. Saving you was probably for my own selfish reasons. I wouldn't have been able to live with myself had I not done something." The words just poured out. There was no stopping them, no time to think about them, they just came. Yuna didn't regret them though. She didn't care how absurd it sounded. What she said was true and really that was all that mattered. To her at least. A small smile came to her lips as another came to her. "It was worth it. Even if they figure out I had helped you, which they will, I don't care. At least I get to keep my very best and only friend," she said, pulling off her earring and showing him the item that was bound to give them away. Yuna squeezed the item in her fist for a bit, before putting it back on.

                                                After a bit, Yuna rested her forehead on his shoulder and closed her eyes. She thought about her future and how much more exciting it seemed to be. Yuna knew for aiding and embedding a criminal she could die. There was nothing her father could do. No, it was up to the very person she hated, Seymour. He was the Grand Maester, the head of Spira. He was the leader and therefore he had control over her future. She didn't know if he would kill her thought. Seymour never seemed fond of her. No, it was something else. As if there was a deep fascination he had of Yuna. The summoner bit her lip, but pushed the thought to the back of her mind, bringing another one forward. "Cloud?" she asked suddenly. "Can you just call me Yuna? I don't want it to be so formal between us." Once again she found herself playing with her hands as she waited for his reply.

                                                ooc ;; considering i did this with a massive headache
                                                I am quite proud of myself

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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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          "But I..."

          Cloud hesitated, then turned to face forward again, mostly to hide his expression.

          Best...friend?

          The mercenary's expression softened, and he felt...oddly light, even with Yuna still occupying his back. He didn't feel it was necessary to take back what he'd said before, about how Yuna was only a job to him. Clearly, that wasn't the case, considering he had been both fired and sentenced to death, yet he was still by her side now as though nothing had changed.

          He couldn't help but smile a little...not a sad or longing smile, but a peaceful one. As much as he was generally capable of smiling, anyway. No...he wasn't sad or disappointed, because he'd never, not even for a moment, considered the possibility of anything more. Just so long as Yuna was happy, it was all right. It felt...good to be considered a friend, even. Really good.

          Still, best friends or not, his expression faltered a little as the young woman spoke again, choking slightly. Call her...Yuna? Just Yuna?

          "But I...I just..."

          Why wasn't his voice working? He cleared his throat roughly, his head spinning...how on earth was he supposed to call her just Yuna?

          "I...but you're..." Expression irritated with the nonsensical stupidity coming out of his mouth, he glanced off to one side and opted to stay silent until he could talk again. He hadn't stuttered since he was a child, and he wasn't about to start again now.

          Moodily, he veered off the path for a bit, intent on finding some shade now that the hottest part of the day had reached them. Finding a little, spiraling decline, he made his way carefully down the side with Yuna in tow (though since they were down there anyway to wait for the sun to start waning again, he thought he may as well take Yuna to the wild chocobo enclosure while he was at it).

          "...Here," he grunted, stooping briefly and tugging a small handful of Gyshal Greens up to give to her. "If you feed these to one of the chocobos, you'll be able to pet them for a little while."

          He let her slide down off his back so he could go and refill their corked flask with water again at the shimmering lake nearby...despite having walked for almost two days straight (mostly with Yuna on his back) and not having slept the night before, he didn't appear to be tired...or at least, he didn't show it as he called over his shoulder to Yuna again.

          "Don't make any sudden movements, or you'll scare them."

          He knelt at the water's edge to fill the flask, his glowing eyes surprisingly gentle behind his shades as he watched Yuna among the great fluffy birds. Really, anything was worth her smile...but then, he'd known that all along.


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((Haha))
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                                                When Cloud couldn't seem to find the words, Yuna couldn't help, but giggle. The more he tried, the more flustered he got and to Yuna it was amusing. Well, it was also kind of cute. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't laugh," she said, still trying to hold in her giggles. "I just have never seen you so flustered before. Hesitant, yes, flustered no... It's kind of cute actually." Yuna could feel her own cheeks heat up, especially when she decided to go and kiss him on the cheek. Still she kept her smile on her face. It had grown silent between them and hot. It was one thing being out in the heat, it was totally different when you were on someones back. What made it even worse was the fact that Yuna was also wearing mostly black and so was Cloud. He must have been roasting at this point. Yuna sighed to herself and watched as they started to go off the trail. She was thankful to get a chance to be out of the sun and she was sure Cloud needed a break anyways. It had been awhile since he had started carrying her. Yuna had been so lost in thought that she hadn't even considered this before. The only time Cloud ever let her down was to fight and it wasn't like that was the most relaxing thing for him. Her good mood suddenly went away. Once again Yuna turned her mood sour with her own guilt. How long was this going to last?

                                                Yuna grabbed the item that Cloud up to her and looked at the Chocobos. She was actually going to be able to touch one? This thought made her excited. Yuna has always seen them around Bevelle, but she's never been up close to one. She had even heard stories about how they can go rogue sometimes, but Yuna has never heard of a Chocobo attacking someone or running off. Not in Bevelle. It wasn't like she had many other places to compare stories to. Cloud started to walk away, giving her instructions of not making sudden movements. Her heart pounded in her chest as she slowly held up her hand and giggled as a yellow Chocobo came over and started to eat it. The female pet the creature slowly and smiled when more started to surround her. Yuna turned her head back to look at Cloud and gave him a huge grin, before looking back at the Chocobo. Once the food was gone, they all walked away and Yuna ran over to Cloud, giving him a hug.

                                                "Oh, thank you Cloud!" she said, looking up at him with the biggest smile she's worn in awhile. This was definitely turning around to be a good day. The summoner released Cloud from her hold and went over to their bag. She opened it and grabbed the last two loaves that she had packed. There was still more food to be eaten, but since these would go bad the fastest, she figured that they should be eaten first. Yuna hand one to Cloud and then started to munch on her own. Of course standing there, made her remember how hot it was. Yuna unzipped her sweatshirt and slid it off, revealing a light blue shirt with a white floral pattern crawling up her side. It was a little more snug then Yuna was use to, but she liked it regardless. It was definitely more her then the black she had been wearing. Quickly, she put her sweatshirt away and turned to smile at Cloud. "I'm ready when you are." She sat down on the closest rock and waited for Cloud to tell her it was time to go.

                                                ooc ;; note to self:
                                                quote yourself not your partner
                                                it's a lot easier in the long run xD
                                                they're so cute! <3

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          Cloud's face contorted to an expression of sullen exasperation as he was giggled at, though of course his sulking didn't last long and faded along with the color in his face as he felt a gentle peck on his cheek again.

          Clearing his throat, he busied himself with getting the water and checking through their supplies, though he was oddly clumsy about it as he did so.

          Still, he did look up when Yuna approached one of the chocobos, expression softening again as he saw her smile. He'd never felt he would be able to bring her much joy, as he had nothing to offer her himself...but it was nice to see her smile.

          He straightened up and moved tentatively over to the bird as well, his hair looking surprisingly similar to the bird's ruffled feathers as he pet the long neck.

          "I wouldn't trust riding them, the way they are now. But - oof."

          Abruptly, she was hugging him, and Cloud hadn't any idea what to do with himself. His arms hovered a few inches from her back, unsure of whether he should return the gesture or not, and he fought to keep from wincing as she leaned into his sides and torso.

          "It...it's nothing," he muttered gruffly, rather wishing she hadn't thanked him. She...since when had she owned any clothes like that? Cloud had only ever seen her dressed in loose, flowing, traditional garments, and as he felt the color rushing back to his face, he was determined to keep his eyes firmly on the ground. Only on the ground.

          He skulked past her with his bread in one hand, feeling suddenly hotter than before as he leaned down a little for Yuna to climb back up onto him. "H...here," he muttered, passing up the water to her again.


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                                                Yuna smiled and got onto Cloud's back. She finished off her bread and took a sip of the water. "It's not nothing. Without you none of this would have happened," she said, giving him a hug with the best way she can from being on his back. Cloud started walking and Yuna relaxed against him. Even though they were on the run, she felt oddly at ease. It was probably just knowing she was away from her home and all the... Well, the tyranny that was her life. Well, and being away from Seymour too. That was definitely a plus in this whole thing. Yuna knew that if they ever caught them, then there was a chance she would still have to get married to him. She didn't like to think about it though, so she just didn't. Yuna pushed the thoughts from her mind, trying to keep herself at ease. In all honesty, Yuna would rather die then marry a man like Seymour. With a sigh Yuna rested her forehead on Cloud's shoulder and closed her eyes.

                                                After a few days of the same thing, sleeping, walking, and repeat, Yuna was starting grow weary. Sure, their scenery changed, but their routine didn't. It wasn't like they could do much anyways. Cloud was now a wanted criminal for kidnapping Yuna, while everyone was on the lookout for Yuna to bring her home. Wherever there was people they would both have to cover their faces. They would avoid any large cities or heavily populated areas. Everything about what they did was careful and methodical. When things cooled down, Yuna planned on getting Cloud to the things that they missed and the temples that would bring her closer to being a High Summoner.

                                                The two were walking in one of the forests. Yuna as always was looking around in wonder, when she heard something off in the distance. She looked up to the sky and saw an airship off in the distance. "Um... Cloud..." she said, pointing in the direction. She bit her lip and knew what was coming next. Either they would have to hide or face the oncoming trouble. Of course they choose the former and ran for cover. Yuna ran as fast as she could, trying to keep up with Cloud, but it was becoming hard. She grabbed Cloud's hand, so if anything, he could drag her along.

                                                ooc ;; this took a lot longer then i anticipated

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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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          "Tch..."

          Cloud's glowing eyes lifted bitterly to the approaching airship, and his hand closed securely around Yuna's as he felt her grab him, ducking through the streets at top speed to steer clear of the airship's watchful search.

          Figures.

          "Hood up," came his usual mantra to Yuna, expression stoic despite the increasing weariness that seemed intent on wearing him down day by day. It had been different when he was younger, and back when his body had been in better condition...but the relentless traveling was a seemingly endless challenge this time around.

          Regardless, the mercenary had shown no fatigue, and as they broke free of the city and into the wilderness, he skidded down an incline with his boot angled out in front of him to brace himself as he guided Yuna down as well. No sooner had they hit the bottom, he ducked and pulled her into the hollow of a tree. Necessity overshadowed his usual awkwardness, and he wrapped his arms around the young woman, pulling her in close against his body to shield them both from the prying eyes of both the overhead airship as well as any ground forces that decided to come along with it. Who knew what kind of scanning magic they were using from the sky?

          "Stay still," came his quiet voice against her ear, his slender frame fitting into the curve of the hollowed out tree as, inevitably, they heard the massive roar of the airship's engine flying overhead. The trees rustled, and even in the hollow of the wood Cloud could feel the breeze brushing past them. He drew his knees up around Yuna, holding her closely and listening to the sound of the airship passing overhead.

          He didn't move again until it had faded into the distance, and then, finally, he released Yuna and leaned back with a sigh.

          "We need to sell your earring," he murmured to her, rubbing his covered arm. "Sell it to the right merchant, they won't recognize it for what it is...but once they sell it again, it'll start passing through some of the underground networks. Eventually someone'll recognize it, and they'll think..." he closed his eyes for a moment, then rolled his shoulders and hauled himself out of the hollow tree base before extending a hand to help Yuna up as well. "They'll think I stole it back when I kidnapped you. It's pretty valuable, isn't it?"

          He leaned wearily against the tree they had been hiding in and nodded to her softly, his eyes hidden behind his dark shades as usual. "They can't find out you helped me. We...have to sell it."

          Not to mention (although he hadn't told Yuna), if they kept going the way they were, he wouldn't be able to support the two of them. They had run out of the rations Yuna had packed and had needed to buy more. Being on the run didn't exactly earn Cloud a great income, and aside from the occasional fiend dropping gil, he knew they were running low. He'd planned to start sneaking some of his rations to Yuna instead so she didn't go hungry, but if they didn't come into at least a little bit of money before long, there wouldn't even be enough left to buy food for her.

          "...Are you all right?" he added as an afterthought, awkwardly dropping his gaze as he realized he'd just been hauling her along by the arm and then wrenched her roughly down into the tree to hide.


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                                                It was whirlwind of actions after they had spotted the airship. The pair ran through the streets and into the forest. At least there they had more cover, but Yuna knew it wouldn't be enough. She pulled her hood on and made sure it stayed on as she they continued to run. The two ran down an incline, that was luckily not to steep and Yuna found herself squeezing Cloud's hand. Suddenly, Yuna was being yanked into a hollow of a tree and held close to Cloud. She wrapped her arms around him, squeezing her eyes shut as she ignored the painful throb in her chest. Now was not the time to dwell on these emotions she's been having as of late. Well, at least not to think of them as extensively as she has been. As the airship passed overhead she gripped his shirt more tightly and squeezed her eyes shut. They had stayed like that until the sound passed, fading in the distance.

                                                As Cloud let go of her, Yuna did the same. She took deep breaths and tried to calm herself down. Suddenly her earring was mentioned. The one that she was stupid enough to bring. The one that held great importance to her. Yuna placed her hand over it and looked down at her feet. "Then let them find out," she suddenly blurted out. "I don't care. I... I would rather die then to marry Seymour." Tears swelled in her eyes and she looked away as the two climbed out. Now, was not the time, now was the time to think rationally. Yuna knew things weren't going well for them. She didn't know to what extent, but she knew there was trouble to come for them. The summoner sighed, pushing the thoughts to the back of her mind.

                                                "Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little shaken," she said, running a hand through her brunette hair. Her hand stopped at her earring and Yuna took a shaky breath. With shaking hands she took the earring off and held it out to Cloud. Her voice suddenly going quiet. "Take it. If I'm holding onto it, I won't be able to give it up when the time comes." Yuna dropped it into Cloud's hands. She turned away and looked out, not wanting to think about what she had just given up. Yuna grabbed her arm from behind her back and held back the tears. The earring had been her mothers...

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          Cloud looked a little taken aback at the sudden outburst, but then his expression sobered and he shook his head slightly.

          "But...you want to be the High Summoner. Right? If...that's what you want, then...they can't ever find out that you helped me."

          Reluctantly drawing his hand away from his black sleeve, he took the earring from her as it was offered, searching her face questioningly as he did so. He'd never asked about it and didn't know what significance it had to Yuna, but even he could tell he was missing something as she handed it over.

          He closed his fingers around the item and nodded uncertainly.

          "...Sorry," he said, though he wasn't quite sure why.

          Unsure of what else to do, he turned hesitantly away and started further through the trees...he didn't want to go back to the same town again now, just in case.

          "What about your feet? Do you need me to carry you?" he murmured over his shoulder, knowing they had traveled far and long over the past week. He knew they would reach Luca if they kept moving in the direction they were headed, and from there, he hoped to be able to smuggle Yuna, unrecognized, onto a ship headed for Kilika Island. From there, they could reach Besaid, and after the searches for Yuna died down, she could begin her journey toward becoming High Summoner there.

          "We have to be careful crossing the Mi'hen Highroad. It's-,"

          Sudden, unbearable ringing throughout his head in mid-step, more powerfully than he'd ever felt it before. Ringing, in his ears, an intense pressure building without warning...behind his shades, his gentle blue eyes flickered, becoming slitted and green as he collapsed onto all fours, the muscles on the left side of his body locking immovably and his left arm curling up toward his chest uncontrollably as his breath caught.

          ....What's.....

          N....no....not...now...


          Pictures, sounds, flashed uncontrollably through his line of vision, but the voices were muted beneath the incessant ringing, and he could not hear everything they were saying...the pressure was building further, more intensely...

          And then, just like that, it was gone. A gasp escaped the blonde before he could stop it as his eyes flickered back to 'normal' behind his shades, the locked muscles collapsing in on themselves and the ringing vanishing as quickly as it had come about.

          Try as he might, he couldn't stop his shoulders from shaking, panting heavily as he regained his breath and fighting off the expected spell of dizziness and nausea that followed the attack.

          ...Where....am I.....


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                                                "No, I'm fine for now," she said, knowing it was true. Yuna had gotten use to walking so much, though her feet would still hurt, it just wasn't as bad. Slowly, the pain in Yuna's feet was disappearing and she was glad she could walk on her own. It made her feel at least a little capable. Of course there was still more for her to do to become more so. Yuna started to turn around as Cloud spoke. Her eyes lingered on the scenery, for just a bit. Until she realized that Cloud had suddenly stopped. Yuna turned around only to see Cloud on the ground, looking like he was having difficulty with something. Her eyes went wide as she watched, not sure what to do. She had never seen this happen to anyone. There was something wrong with Cloud and Yuna was at a total loss as to what it was. During Cloud's attack she had stood stock still, not sure what to do. Even if she did know, she couldn't move. She found herself frozen to her spot, eyes wide and mouth hanging open. What had snapped her out of it, was Cloud falling to the ground, panting.

                                                Yuna quickly made her way to his side and turned him over onto his back. "Cloud! What happened? Are you ok?" she asked, her voice and face filled with worry and concern. She looked down at him, having a feeling something was off. Slowly, Yuna pulled off his sunglasses to see some confusion in his eyes. Yuna bit her lip and put her hand over his forehead, checking for a fever. She tried not to think about his sudden confusion, worried what it might mean. If Cloud had forgotten then they were in trouble. Yuna had to stay optimistic though. She kept telling herself that he was just disoriented from his sudden attack. Everything would be fine once he caught his bearings. She licked her lips and then looked down into his eyes again and her eyebrows furrowed.

                                                The confusion was still in his eyes. It seemed so deep that it would never disappear. "Cloud...?" she murmured, hoping he would remember. That she was just over analyzing this whole situation. Yuna sighed and dug into the bag, looking for the water. It had recently been filled, thankfully and Yuna gave some to Cloud. She tried to hide her worry, knowing that when you showed such worry to someone who was sick or injured, then they start to assume the worst. Yuna had to stay optimistic and she had to show it. Quietly, she checked the blonde for wounds, only finding a small head wound. Regardless, she gently placed her hand over it and closed her eyes as she concentrated on her ability. The sensation ran up and down her arm and slowly disappeared as the feeling left her body and went into Cloud's. Removing her hand, she saw the wound slowly heal up and then disappear all together. Yuna was thankful he didn't have anything much worse then that, since she still had no idea as to the extent of what her healing can do.

                                                For awhile, Yuna didn't move from her position. She listened as Cloud's breathing went back to normal and felt as his heart rate slowed down. Still she didn't make him stand up or move. Yuna kept Cloud in the same position, wanting to make sure he was totally ok first. Even though they probably needed to keep moving, Yuna still kept them where they were. She knew it would be dangerous that the airship could turn around and find them. For right now though, Cloud needed to rest. Besides, Yuna didn't know where they were going. She had known where they were, but that was about it. Yuna didn't have the slightest idea as to what was coming up next or even where Cloud was planning on taking her. He never shared his plans with her. All he did was tell her the places as they showed up, warned her about fiends or other possible dangerous in the area and then kept moving in silence.

                                                It was always in silence. Cloud never really said much, unless Yuna asked him a question or something he knew would peak her interest. She had learned a lot on this trip, but Cloud still remained a mystery. Yuna had been hoping that she just might get to know this mysterious male more. All she had found out though was that he knew a lot about Spira. It made Yuna wonder if he traveled around a lot before he became her guardian. She never asked, but after what just happened, Yuna suddenly wanted to know just about everything. It seemed that their time was short. Somehow, Yuna felt that if she didn't ask now, she would never know and Cloud would be gone from her life. This thought made her sad. A sigh paused through her lips and Yuna looked away for a bit, not thinking about the hand that she had started running through Cloud's blonde hair.

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          The glow in Cloud's eerie blue eyes seemed to have dulled a little as he cracked them open, beckoned by the unfamiliar sensation of fingers running through his hair. His vision blurred and then cleared, and Yuna's anxious face swam into view above him, making his heart sink.

          Lady Yuna...

          Without thinking, he tried to sit up, flinching halfway and then falling back to the ground with a slight wince as his arm wrapped around his body.

          Shame and disappointment in himself began to flood the young man's chest, and his vision blurred again for a moment, his eyes fluttering shut as he fought to clear the dizziness.

          "...I'm fine. Sorry," he uttered vaguely, his voice sounding far-off to him. "I just need to eat..."

          He sat up abruptly, clenching his teeth as he did so and marveling bitterly at how very like a hangover this was becoming.

          He stole a glance at Yuna, then tore his gaze guiltily away from her, lowering his head. What if it had happened while she was in danger? I'm not cut out to protect anyone...

          Without warning, he got to his feet, taking a step forward to catch himself as he began to fall again and wearily straightening up, angling his body so he could use balance to hold himself up rather than strength...since he didn't feel like he had any at the moment.

          Reluctantly, he lifted his dimmed mako eyes up toward Yuna again, looking oddly like a young boy that had just been caught doing something bad. "...Sorry," he muttered again, glancing away. "It's nothing. I...should have eaten something before."

          Which was probably true, in a way, he thought as his hand came to rest over his slender abdomen. He gave Yuna a stern nod. "I'm fine now. Are you sure you don't need me to carry you?"

          I just need to push myself harder...


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