Blood and ashes--time burning
On the skyline dark against the stars
A solitary horseman--waiting
Lashed to the wheel
Whipping into the storm
Get up, Jonah
It's your time to be born.
-- Bruce Cockburn


When Tidus remembers his dreams they have been about water. Tonight he is remembering even as he is dreaming which would feel strange except it doesn't. He is on his back, floating in a green-blue sea (he can taste salt in his mouth). The sun is beating down on his closed eyes, not unpleasantly, just giving him something to focus on besides the 4gentle resistance of water beneath his hands. There is water below him and above him; he is by himself but not alone, and the current of the tide hums in his ears.

When Tidus wakes up, he finds he has been crying.


By the time he gets out of bed, Auron is in the kitchen, frying eggs. There's a glass of orange juice on the counter even though Tidus knows he had finished the last carton two days ago. He yawns at Auron by way of greeting and plops down at the table, still in his boxers. It's only Auron after all, and Tidus only ever feels naked when his tan fades.

Auron doesn't acknowledge the blitzer until the eggs are off the frying pan and on a plate, and then only by sliding the dish across the table to the boy and setting down a glass of juice to Titus' right with a weighty thunk. He leans back in a chair and crosses his arms, staring at Tidus expectantly.

The blond scratches the back of his neck, still yawning. "You know I don't eat breakfast."

"That's why you're too thin. Eat."

Tidus gives up and stabs through the yoke with his fork. He doesn't feel like arguing today. They're pretty decent eggs he guesses, although he's not sure what good eggs are supposed to taste like or if there's even such a thing as a really well done egg.

Auron's still staring at him while he eats, and for once Tidus doesn't mind because he knows why. The old guy is like a big nasty stray tomcat most of the time, showing up whenever he damned well pleases to glower at Tidus like the blitzer was his property and not living up to the investment before he saunters off again for who knows how long, but there has been always one day of the year he comes without fail.

Now there are two.

"I'm gonna visit her," Tidus says, chewing. "After practice. You wanna come?"

Auron shakes his head. "She wouldn't appreciate my respects. Nor do I owe her them."

Tidus shrugs and carries his plate to the sink. Auron's gaze itches at the back of his neck. "Look, I'm fine," he says over the rush of the water. "You can go and do...whatever it is you do."

"You seem...distant."

Tidus puts the dry plate back in the cupboard. "Just sleepy. Had one of those dreams you don't really want to wake up from, you know?" He hear Auron chuckle dryly. "What's so funny?"

"What can you possibly dream about?" Emphasis on the 'you'.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Tidus shoots back, smoothing a crease in his uniform. Auron doesn't answer, and Tidus heads to the door, stomping a little.

"Don't you usually bring flowers?" Auron says, which is as much of an apology as Tidus is going to get.

"Yeah. I always do." He nods to the bouquet still wrapped in plastic misty with condensation in his hand, a little puzzled.

Something flashes in Auron's good eye and then is gone again. "My mistake."


It's a small graveyard for such a large city, but Tidus never wonders how so many bodies could fit into such a tiny space. It's just something that /is/, like the color of the sky is the color of the sky which he doesn't question either.

"Hey, Mom," he says, putting the flowers next to the tombstone, not in front of it where the body is buried because he's kneeling there. "It's me again. I'm doing okay. I'm playing for the Abes now. I know they weren't your favorite team, but...yeah. The other guys are okay, I guess. I'm pretty famous now -- ten people stopped me to ask for my autograph on my way here. Four of them were girls so my weekend's pretty full." He runs out of words so suddenly it takes him a moment to remember to inhale. He stares at his hands.

"I miss you," he confesses. "But I don't know if I miss you as much as I should. Everything's so busy now -- everything's going my way, you know? But it doesn't feel...right. Not that I don't deserve it or anything, just that..." Tidus tugs a piece of hair over his eyes, sighing. "Whatever. It's nothing. I only think stupid stuff like this when Auron is around."

He does not look back to see if the grave is still there once he has turned away.


He sits in the stadium stands and watches the field being filled up for tomorrow's game. It's pretty here at night with the globe all lit up inside like some...big, lit up fish bowl.

Yeah, Tidus sure is one hell of a poet.

It'll take a few hours for the crew to fill it up completely and even then players aren't allowed inside the arena six hours until the game. Tidus rests his chin on his chest and sighs. He would like to swim, but just watching the water soothes him enough to get by.

As a blitzer, Tidus has always been better in the water than with the ball. It had taken him practice to become a master handling the latter; the first had come naturally. He's at home in the water.

Might as well grow a damn pair of gills and get it over with, Jecht had said once.

Tidus supposes it's only natural that he's a little sad today. But he thinks that deep down maybe it's those dreams that really make him sad, the idea of an endless ocean beneath an endless sky when all he has ever known is this stadium.

Tidus' life is in the water. He just wishes Zanarkand had more of it.


"What are you still doing here?"

Auron hasn't even moved from the kitchen table. His scar stands out strangely in the half-life. "You never answered my question."

"I didn't?" For some reason, Tidus refrains from snapping that Auron sure as hell had never answered any of /his/.

"What do you dream about?"

Tidus groans. It's been a long day and Auron's being...well, Auron. Why did he ever give the man a key to his apartment, anyway? He had, hadn't he? He couldn't quite remember. Maybe he did.

Whatever. It doesn't matter. Just answer the stupid question and Auron will go away. "I dreamt about the ocean, I think."

At that Auron looks up sharply. "You /think/. You think you dream about the ocean."

"Okay, so I /do/ dream about the ocean," Tidus opens the refrigerator looking for orange juice, remembers he's out and closes it again. "What's it to you?"

"Tidus," Auron says, so softly it is a threat. "How do you know what the ocean /is/?"

"It''s the /ocean/." He's distinctly uncomfortable now, shifting his weight from foot to foot. "Don't be stupid. Everyone-"

"Zanarkand's only source of water is the lake that feeds the stadium," Auron says. "At all. So how, Tidus, /do you know/?"

"Who cares?" Tidus shouts. There's a whine threaded in his voice that he winces at hearing. "Who gives a damn? I-"

Auron is advancing now, reminding Tidus of a time when the man had been much taller than the blond had been, and terrifying. "You should care. You should care very much. Don't you ever think it's odd that whatever authorities there are here let a teenager live by himself? Make a living at a dangerous sport? /Are/ there authorities at /all/ here?" There is something much older than rage in his voice, something much more tired.

Tidus, confused, says, "Yeah there are. There's a-"

Auron brushed away whatever he was going to say, as if it wasn't worth the older man's time to hear him out. "Of course there are, now that you're thinking about it."

Strangely enough, that hurts. "Auron, I don't understand..."

Auron meets his eyes then turns away again with a small shake of his head, all the intensity gone, only the weariness left. "Forgive me. It's not my place to speak of such things. I suppose I'm just getting tired of waiting for you to wake up."

He leaves after that.


When he dreams there is a world of only green and blue and sunlight playing off the breakers like laughter, and the warmth of the water and the sky coming together to form the horizon and hold him there.

Time enough, the current murmurs. We are so tired, but we will give you time to rest before the storm breaks. It is not right to give the reward before the sacrifice, but it is the most we can do. Don't cry. Rest for now.

And Tidus closes his eyes and floats in the dreaming.

Notes: Song call shamelessly stolen from the Technomancers ( because it fit too perfectly for me not to use it. I've claimed many songs for various aspects of Final Fantasy X but none that corresponded with the subject matter of this fic.