He dreams, at night. He dreams of his old life, of stadiums lit up at night and fans that used to cheer and scream his name. He dreams of sitting on the dock in the moonlight and watching shadows in the water, dark, inky blue like the sky. Mostly, he dreams of her. Flowing skirt and frail body and kind heart. He dreams of her dancing, eerie and beautiful all at once.

Can a dream dream?

Sometimes he wonders why he even believed the little boy, the little boy who was so transparent he could almost see straight through to the other side. He thinks there’s no way it could be true. He can’t be a dream.

But then he remembers the ache in the boy’s eyes, the tired sorrow, the soft lilt to his voice, and he remembers how he wasn’t even very surprised to hear the words. Shouldn’t he have been shocked?

It’s not that you’re dreaming. You are a dream.

Maybe he always knew. He just didn’t want to believe it.

He wanted to keep believing that everything was real. That he hated his old man and resented the time his mother had never seemed to have for him. That it was him who had played blitzball for those yelling masses, him that had leaped high and twirled and soared. That he had truly been the star player of the Zanarkand Abes, because he was simply the best (yes, him, not his old man).

Not because a little boy had dreamed him that way.

Children had come to him and asked for his autograph, begged him to teach them how to play blitzball. Pretty girls had giggled when he walked by, chattered amongst themselves and sometimes he asked them out.

He burns inside just wishing that it had been real, any of it--not just fragments inside the minds of people long dead.

His wishes and his hopes and his dreams had never been real, and they’d never been his.

A smile crosses his face, unbidden and unexpected. Since when has he ever been so introspective, so philosophic?

But the smile fades as quickly as it appeared, because he knows. He was never that way because they had not wanted him to be that way. They made him a jock--cocky and arrogant and confident. Sometimes he wonders what would be different if they had dreamed him another way. If they had made him artistic instead of athletic, soft-spoken instead of boisterous. Would he still be here right now?

Now he thinks… If I can be that way--if I can think and feel and grow, can’t I be real? Can’t I stay?


And it really is that simple.

Maybe you are the dream that will end our dreaming at last.

Everything that he has become will only ensure that he fades. He is strong, and he is more than a dream, and he will end all of it. He will let the fayth rest, and he will disappear. Cease to be (as if he ever was).

That makes him want to scream. Scream like he did all those weeks ago outside the temple, like he always did as a child (because they made him that way).

He wants to scream that he likes this world, damn it! This stupid world that is so different from everything he knew before, this world and all its stupid traditions and stupid beliefs that make people want to give up their lives for the greater good, whatever that means.

He misses his Zanarkand, but he’d given up on going back a long time ago. Somehow he’d known he could not, whether he admitted it to himself or not.

But now he can not even stay in Spira.

And that hurts him so deeply he checks his skin to see if he is bleeding.

Of course he’s not. Not on the outside, at least.

He loves the wide ocean blue all around that makes him think of Zanarkand. He loves the wooded green that he did not have in Zanarkand, and the starry sky he can see better for the lack of monstrous tall buildings. He loves the fact that they play blitzball here, because that helped him from being homesick more than he’ll ever admit.

He loves the people he’s met. The green-eyed girl he met first who was the only one to truly believe he could think of something to save his--the summoner. The laughing blitzball player with the fiery red hair who made him feel accepted. The woman with the icy stare who for all her coldness and her sarcastic jabs gave him a place in heart anyway. The lion who only wanted to know he would not harm his charge. The “legendary guardian” who had reluctantly watched out for him all those years, who taught him all the things most worth knowing.

And then there was her. The little summoner with the dark hair and the mismatched eyes and the shy smile. The one who drew him to her with her warmth and who believed everything he said. The one who had laughed throughout her journey though she had expected death at the end, the one he’d hurt when he had only tried to help (he cringes at the things he said, if only he’d known). The one who’d shown him how to love and the one he’d sworn he would not lose.

Well, turns out he will lose her. Just not in the way he’d thought.

He guesses that maybe he should say that she will lose him. And he can’t bring himself to tell her.

How do you tell a woman that the man she loves was never even real? That he’s really nothing more than the product of overimagination? That he worked so hard to save her but he can’t save himself?

Maybe he hasn’t changed as much as he thinks he has, because he’s too scared to say it (speaking it out loud will make it absolute). He’s still the same scared little boy he always was, the boy that would sit on the docks and cry.

The only difference is that now, he doesn’t have any tears to cry.

But she did teach him something. To smile even in the face of death, to appreciate every moment you have, that laughter is sometimes the most important thing in the world.

He meets her eyes now and he smiles, and it warms him inside to see her follow suit. He thinks that her smile, the look in her eyes, is all that gets him through the days now. He says something to make her giggle, and he smiles more at the sound of it. He loves to hear her laugh.

When he is with her, he can almost forget the ever-lessening number of his days. Sometimes, the love makes him hurt, but mostly he is grateful for it. It is the one thing they can never take away from him.

She thinks that they will defeat Sin, because she believes in him. She thinks that afterwards he will stay in Spira, and they will go back to Besaid together, to live in the peacefulness of the Eternal Calm.

That is his favorite dream.