by Th' Lady Shadow
Everyone's very quiet.
It's not so much that we're hiding -- it's just...no one knows what to say.
If Yevon wanted to find us, they would have no trouble. Spira is not such a
big world, and there are many
believers to help their search.
Just the word reminds me of my mistakes. And the shameful thing is, I don't
even know what I've done wrong. Yet I'm a traitor. The people who know me
won't believe it - the
people who don't will do what they have always done. Follow Yevon. Even if
it means hunting down summoners.
Once night fell, I slipped out to visit this nearby spring. I thought that
maybe the silence of being alone would be more soothing than the silence of
my guardians. I take comfort
in the cool water, in the glowing crystals that shine brightly against the
moonlight, but all in all...I don't particularly feel any better.
While I stand in the waist-deep water, my mind can finally ease into its
daydreaming wishes of maybes.
If I just turned around and left. Just started walking, and didn't stop;
just left everything behind...
I could walk off the edge of the world. Escape. I'd bring Tidus too - I
would whistle sharply and call him and he would come and together we could
escape into the sun, escape
this wretched spiderweb of lies and death and deception and...
*Who are you kidding? Daydreams aren't going to accomplish anything.*
I'm still...going to die.
It isn't such a big deal, I suppose. All my life, I knew that this was what
I would do. Summoners have come and gone before me, and many have died much
sooner than I. The
unique thing about me is, it's become an inevitable fact, not just a hopeful
possibility - I will face Sin. I will fight Sin.
After that, it's all speculation.
I was ready for it when I became a summoner. I'm not ready for it now. I'm
scared - scared to death.
In that sense, bringing Tidus along was a mistake. Just seeing him was a
mistake. To this day, I'm not sure what drew me to him so strongly. Another
fault of mine: selfishness. I
am afraid to die because dying will mean losing Tidus, even though I bring
the Calm to Spira. It startles even me how scared I am of losing him.
Startles me how much he means to me. He
shouldn't mean so much to me.
He's been acting...differently lately. More protective, more enthusiastic.
Just like me, the enthusiasm he shows is a mask for his uncertainty. By
pushing forward, we can find the
path we are supposed to follow. Maybe he knows now about my fate...?
His naivety is heartbreaking sometimes. I've concluded that no one told him
the specifics of my duty as summoner. If only it were as easy as I'm sure he
thinks it is: surge forward,
defeat Sin, and be done with the job. Be alive when you finish. Live to see
the fantastic parades in your honor. Live to see those impossibly rapt
smiles on people's faces...everyone so happy...
The stars are so pretty tonight. I've missed stargazing - I used to like
doing it back home in Besaid, but lately all of us are far too tired to
think about anything but sleep. Instantly
I spot my favorite stars, two brightly shining orbs that, from here, look
about three inches apart. I don't know why those are my favorites - perhaps
because they are the two I always
recognized, among all the other billions of stars in the night sky. But no
matter what, I always looked for them when I craned my head up to the
heavens. At least they are the one constant
thing left in Spira.
Of Spira's four maesters - Kelk, Kinoc, Mika, Seymour - only one is truly
alive. The Ronso maester is untinted by the rest of the clergy's corruption.
Kinoc and Mika are truly dead,
Seymour needs no explanation.
He's another mistake of mine. The marriage would have - *did* - make people
happy, though. So...maybe not such a mistake. But by Yevon, it disgusted me
to even kiss the man.
I glimpsed Tidus' expression as he watched -- and got a strange sort of sick
satisfaction. I remember thinking...
*Yes. You understand...I hate it too. Save me...please.*
At that point, coherent thoughts wouldn't come. And Tidus couldn't save me
- I had to save myself. Thank the heavens for Valefor.
Behind me I heard the familiar, soft crunch of boots on soil. Tidus. The
rest of the group was likely asleep. He was here to see me; not just for a
drink of the cool water, or else he
would have casually made himself known to me. It was a bittersweet feeling.
Wonderful to know he cared. Sad to know he had to worry over me.
"...I always thought this would be easier somehow." I whispered, though I
was sure he could hear. The gentle shift of the water told me he'd stepped
in, his silence letting me
know he was listening. And even if he wasn't, I just needed to talk, needed
to be heard. "I thought everyone would help me, with all my friends together
beside me...I've been trying so
"Maybe..." Tidus began slowly; almost cautiously? "Maybe you're trying
*too* hard. They told me...everything."
So he did know. No wonder he'd started acting differently. Ever since I
figured out he didn't know that I was going to die, I had cringed at the
mere thought of the time when he
*would* find out.
"Well, so then...you know..."
I turned to look at him, puzzled. Did he *pity* me now? He saw my look,
"It's just, you know...all those things I said. Like 'Let's go get Sin!'
a-- or about Zanarkand..." he stumbled, remorse visible on his face. "I
didn't know what would happen to you,
Yuna. I guess...I hope it didn't make you sad. Forgive me."
*Oh, if you would only realize that there's nothing to forgive. That your
ambition was sometimes all that kept me going. You've no reason to apologize
I looked up at the sky again. "I wasn't sad. I was...happy."
With a light splash, he dove underwater. A few seconds later he surfaced
and began floating on his back, not too far from me.
"Yuna," he called out. "Just...don't do it."
"The pilgrimage?" I asked blankly.
"Yeah. That's right." Tidus opted, righting himself. He began to swim
around slowly. "Forget all about Sin, about being a summoner; forget all
that...you know, live a normal life.
Come on now, Yuna, what do you say?"
I couldn't believe what he was suggesting. The impossibility of it - the
blessed luxury I could only dream of. Normality. No more battles, no more
open wounds to heal, no more
sendings, no more working ourselves to exhaustion...
Time. That's what he was offering me. Time to live, time to enjoy my
guardians' company, not require it - certainly, time to...just to get to
know Tidus better. That time would be
*No. Don't daydream, Yuna, it only makes things more painful.*
But to think of it...why couldn't I just stop? I might disappoint a few
people, but life was getting more precious by the minute - and shorter, too.
In other words, my days are
And here I'm offered an escape from all that. From everything I've ever
And why not...?
Just the wondrous possibility gives me butterflies in my stomach. Freedom.
"...Maybe I will..."
Tidus looks surprised - he dives again, surfacing in front of me. Time.
"Wouldn't everyone be surprised?" I whispered. I could have so much time...
"Yeah. Except Rikku - she'd be with you!" The most beautiful smile was
growing on Tidus' lips - one of possibility and ambition and the whiff of
freedom that I too was feeling.
"Lulu and Wakka wouldn't hold out long."
He was right.
"Kimahri would say yes, too, I know...but..." I stopped, instantly feeling
guilty. "Sir Auron..."
Tidus was not dissuaded in the least. "I'll make him understand, Yuna; it's
the least I can do for you!"
"No...I should tell him...he deserves it." Telling Auron I was stopping the
pilgrimage - that in itself would be a nightmarishly hard job. I stretched
out, floating among the cool,
moonlit springwater. "What'll I do if I...give up my pilgrimage?"
"Hey! Zanarkand! Let's go to Zanarkand!" He blurts. I look over at him -
isn't that what I'm avoiding? "Not the one in Spira, the one I'm from."
"Yeah...we can all fly there...everyone can go!" His eyes shine an excited
blue at me, his smile now a radiant beam. "Then we'll all have a big party
at my place!"
I stood up, still only a few feet from him.
"And then we could see blitzball!" A wide grin took its place on my lips as
well; seeing Tidus play blitzball was something I'd wanted to do since we
"Your Zanarkand Abes would play?"
"We could all watch you play, in the stadium all lit up at night...I'd
cheer and cheer until I couldn't cheer anymore!" The vision caught me, and
didn't let me go - Zanarkand's
fabled highrises, the great skyways, and the sphere pool, so bright against
the darkness...and I would cheer him on until I didn't have the voice to
make another sound. What a fairy tale...
"Yeah! Right on!"
"Well, what about after the game?"
"We'd go out and have fun!"
"In the middle of the night?" I asked incredulously.
"Hah, no problem! Zanarkand *never* sleeps!" He looked up at the sky, the
radiance of his smile replaced with a more quiet, daydreaming expression.
A city that never sleeps...how wonderful that you could go out at any time
of day or night and do anything you wanted to do. What a beautiful, perfect
"Let's go to the sea, before the sunrise." he whispered. "The city lights
go out, one by one...the stars fade...then the horizon glows, almost like
it's on fire."
The vision caught something in my throat. Standing with him on a foreign
shore and not being lost, just watching...time. And the slow glow of the
sunrise...the beauty of the
The daydream that I would never see...that I would never live to see.
"It's kinda...rose-colored, right?" He continued. "First in the sea, then
it spreads to the sky, then to the whole city...it gets brighter and
brighter till everything *glows.*"
My eyes burned with the beauty of that vision. Like a world being set
aflame, the light would slowly come up upon us both, till we drowned in the
fire-orange light, till the whole
city drowned, and a new day began.
"It's really...pretty. I know you'd like it." He whispered.
I would love it. But...I cannot see it. I'm doing this, fighting Sin, to
save so many other lives, and how could I possibly see this world of yours
if Sin still threatens to destroy it
all - how could I bear to abandon everyone...? Auron is doing this for my
father, and if I stop...I'll fail both of them. And all of Spira.
"I'd...like to see it...someday..." I whispered as well, nearly choking on
the words and trying my best not to cry. He turned to look at me, still rapt
with his enthusiasm.
"Well you can, Yuna. We can both go!"
*In my dreams, yes. I'm destined to die. The only Zanarkand I will see is
those ancient ruins, not the metropolis bubbling with life that you dream
for me. And you'll stand on that
fiery shore alone, watching day after day pass and...
I'll never have the time to tell you how much everything you did meant to
So I have my fleeting dream - it comes quickly, stays for a moment, and
then is stolen away as quickly as it was given.
A single teardrop falls from my cheek and hits the still water, causing
eerily perfect ripples. And as if that act was permission for all the other
tears to follow, I couldn't hold back
from crying any longer.
"I can't..." My voice shook as I choked out the words; I couldn't help it.
"I just can't! *I can't go...!*"
I hung my head, trying my best to stop the tears, though I knew it
His hands came up to my shoulders tentatively; I looked up at him through
blurry eyes, unable to read his expression. Trying to keep a straight face,
I blinked away tears and met
two glittering periwinkle eyes that locked with my own, not letting me look
Tidus gazed at me with an undecipherable expression, and the feel of his
hands on my shoulders lessened - he held me more gently. Moved in closer,
seeing I didn't protest and........
Soothing. That's how it was, that's how it felt, the touch of his mouth on
mine, featherlight like his warm breath on my skin. So soothing it made me
want to cry all over again. He
was so gentle, as if I might shatter...
And maybe I would.
His arms came up slowly around me, holding me against his chest, containing
- not confining. It was the strangest feeling, the most wonderful
feeling...as if all of me were charged
with some strange electricity, my entire body tingling at his touch,
completely aware of every one of his movements. He was insistent in his
kiss, and I welcomed it almost greedily.
He leaned back, and there was nothing to do but trust him.
The water was slightly chilly, but nothing at all in means of a
distraction. I slid my arms around his waist, as much to hold him as to
prevent simply floating away from him - though
I knew well that if I slipped out of his grasp somehow, he would instantly
tug me back into the safe-warm haven of his embrace.
We were falling, sinking - I was falling, but Tidus had already caught me.
Had never let me go to begin with.
For the first time in my life, I felt totally, completely *safe.* Nothing
could ever hurt me as long as he was near. Nothing could stand in our way.
Walk off the edge of the earth...and into the sun. Into heaven. Not a bad
idea...but there was no journey needed. I'd already found a piece of heaven
- just a little piece, but plenty.
Just my own sunbeam, radiant and perfect in its own warmth and brightness.
His hand met mine and our fingers entwined; our lips parted but he cradled
me in his arms, his forehead touching mine. I had never seen that look on
his face before - I supposed
the best way to describe it was just a calm, protective adoration. The 'are
you alright?' expression on his face from just moments ago was gone - it had
become 'let me make it alright.'
A shift in the current of the spring swept me gently down, but Tidus' hands
caught mine and he flashed me that beautiful smile, quiet but brilliant in
itself. With just a slight pull
on my hands and a tiny kick of his feet, he righted both of us - he was
master of the water, truly, for he moved like he'd never known any other
His eyes met mine; his hand came up, lightly moving the hair out of my
face, brushing tenderly across my cheek. I brought my own palm up to stroke
his cheek, smiling at the
expression that came onto his face - the sweetest, most serene smile...
His hand pressed gently into my back, keeping me close - inviting?
I wrapped my arms around his neck and met his lips with my own again; the
feeling was simply too wonderful to abandon for too long. The first-kiss
awkwardness was gone -
Tidus' mouth was warm and eager on my own, and it was with a comforting
sureness that he held me close to him.
I couldn't give up my pilgrimage - couldn't bear to. And I couldn't promise
I could come out of it all alive.
But I could lose myself in him for a little while, and maybe...
Maybe if we're together, we'll be okay.
Futari nara daijoubu.
"I'll continue. I must," I admitted, not meeting his eyes as we both sat on
the shore of the spring, many minutes later. His dream for us was wonderful,
but I couldn't bear to just
throw everything else away. Tidus looked up at the sky, nodding slightly. He
needed more of an explanation than that, and I knew it. "If I give up
now...I could do anything I wanted to,
and yet...even if I was with you, I could never forget."
"I'll go with you."
The statement surprised me - I looked at him, and he continued. "I'm your
guardian. Unless I'm...fired?"
Tidus feigned a throat-cutting gesture with one hand, making me chuckle. I
shook my head.
"Stay with me until the end. Please." I made as much of a bow as I could
while sitting. He turned his gaze to the sky, alight with stars that matched
the shimmers in his eyes.
"Not until the end...always."
I felt myself blushing, but nodded, smiling.
Tidus stood up, and my eyes followed him. "...Maybe you should head back to
The implications of that were so silly, we both chuckled. "Roger!"
And he smiled at me again, in that blessed beautiful way of his that made
me want to stare at him forever.
He turned and left, leaving me to stand up and brush the sand off my skirt.
I brought one hand up to my lips, feeling across the bottom one, recalling
his kisses. Even now they
Hurrying forward, I took a breath and whistled.
He stopped abruptly and turned, almost crashing into me - I gave him a
slightly sheepish grin.
"Wait, I'll go with you."
He nodded and turned, starting to walk back towards the little cave again.
I caught up to him and slipped my hand into his, glancing at him - no, he
Once we reached the cave again, I found that everyone was still awake.
Obviously trying to look as innocent as possible, Tidus busied himself
walking to Rikku and silently
shaking his head. He stood behind her, momentarily resting his hand on her
I took a deep breath.
"Um...Sir Auron? Wakka? Lulu? Kimahri? Rikku? Everyone...we leave at dawn."
I bowed deeply. "And...I'm sorry for putting you through all this.
Auron interjected, saving me from further stuttering. "Enough, you need
"Yes." I bowed again, grateful. "Good night."
They all scattered to their various sleeping areas, leaving Tidus and I. I
pointed to a comfortable-looking nook in the far edge of the cave. "Why
don't you sleep there? Looks like
a good spot."
He shook his head, grinning. "You go. You need the sleep, and you know it."
Tidus was right, of course - I was exhausted - but I wasn't feeling like
accepting 'no' for an answer.
"Just go, I'm *not* sleeping there."
He thought for a minute, then looked around. His grin was mischevious and
foretold a mild prank. He pointed to a small clump of sharp-looking rocks in
another end of the cave.
"How about there?"
"Go to sleep," Auron muttered gruffly, from some unknown place.
"Yeah, Tidus, go to sleep," Rikku chimed in unpleasantly, tossing a nearby
pebble at him.
He picked me up with surprising ease and carried me over to the
"What're you doing?"
"Hold on." He set me down next to it, then grabbed the two blankets and
returned, promptly stretching out and spreading the thick cloths.
"Are you cold? Why didn't you say so? I can cast NulFrost--"
"I'm fine. C'mon, lay down."
He yawned. "There really isn't any other good place to sleep. There's room
Rather confused, I did the only thing I could think of - complied. It was
very awkward to me, but Tidus didn't seem to be fazed one bit. He draped the
other blanket over me and I
brought it close around myself.
It was strange, because for some odd reason I didn't want to touch him -
didn't want him to get the wrong idea, maybe? But it was close quarters
anyway, so I tried to make do.
I looked over at him, halfway asleep - he was still awake, staring at the
ceiling, but when he saw my gaze turn to him, he looked back at me with a
Tidus leaned over and kissed me very lightly, hardly a touch. "Sleep well,
"You too," I smiled, then relaxed and closed my eyes.
As if out of instinct, right before I drifted off to sleep completely I
felt myself move closer to him, lay my head on his shoulder, and slip my arm
over his stomach. Just for that, I
mused silently, Lulu would kill me.
He'd promised 'always.' And he'd meant it.
Who cared what Lulu thought about that?
His strong arms held me close; would always hold me close to him.
Always. No matter what happened.
For those of you who don't know, 'Futari nara daijoubu' can translate to 'if
we're together, we'll be okay' - credit to Noelle for her nifty knowledge of
Japanese, and a big happy birthday
to Ethereal Fury.