Step in the Void (Version 2)


By Firey A.








Notes: 1) AN at the end of the story. Written in Yuna's POV.


2) I don't own FFX, its characters or anything to do with........*drifts off to sleep*


3) This version is my second one, as I have a bad habit of never editing my work...then going over it and getting annoyed with myself...THEN editing it...doing the same routine over again...not normal! I'm telling you now! Enjoy the slightly better adaptation (although it's improved by miles in my eyes).






Had I the Heavens' Embroidered Cloths...


Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light;

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

~W.B. Yeats






Gone. Completely and utterly. Never to touch again, nor the chance to even reach out with the possibility of...


I've finished it. This is my finish line, and I've visualized it my entire life. My problem is...I never planned for my being alive to feel what it's like—to win.


My mind conveniently informed me of the fact that the sky was fairly bright, and it surrounded us all with its soft clouds, billowing so perfectly that I could almost feel their swells underneath my fingertips. And their texture of indescribable softness, almost known to me. I know my mind was right, of course. But doesn't make a difference.


I would have had him hold me and I'd say all the truths I should have said, but he was only a fading image...a painting of immeasurable value, being worn away... He's not here, but he belongs here: that's the difference. All through my life, I didn't believe that I'd ever be standing wasn't even a possibility.


But I am. And it's all because of him, and his selflessness. It doesn't seem like a quality that you'd associate with a blitzball star...they're all supposed to be self-absorbed and glorified. Well, maybe the latter applied, in his home: Zanarkand, which hadn't really been real. How had you felt, when they told you that it was just a dream?


It was like my own thoughts had split themselves up cleanly and now warred against each other. One set of them was instructing me to pull myself up, suck it all in and turn around to face the rest of my guardians. The opposing set was winning.


He walked away and disappeared into the endlessness of the skies...because there was no choice to be made. And that - it wasn't fair.


It may be the brightness of the sky that envelops me now, but I can distinguish nothing but darkness. I think my brain is trying to tell me that there is nothing else resonating in my heart except a deep and dark pit of blackness, never ending. He's gone. I know it, and it causes this cursed obscurity, and yet...why am I welcoming it?


The fayths couldn't have given us even one minute...even after all we've done. But why am I blaming them? It was I who danced in the first place.


"Yuna..." Lulu's voice behind me was almost unrecognizable. It held a shivering treble that I had never heard from her in all my years with her, but its potency was coming back, slowly. I can barely register its sound. Why? I'm so accustomed to pain and hurt and loss...


If I whistled right now, just as you taught me, would you come back? You promised you would.


I've opened my mouth to speak, but my throat constricts before I could even think the thought of making a response. Screaming was the only option now, and I refuse to allow that to happen. I'm a summoner. I can't...I can't let this happen because the people of Spira...


The people of Spira depend on me. Just as always.


No. The ground is swirling hazardously beneath my feet and I quickly grip the nearest possible support – I can't let them see... By the heavy and sudden footfalls behind me, I could tell that Kimahri is reassuming his position; always ready to catch me when I fall. Do I really fall that often? I suppose I do.


Right now, there's only one pair of hands that I want to touch me. And those hands...they aren't real hands anymore, are they?


Shaking my head before any of my friends...could reach me, I straighten my back, just like my old masters used to instruct me. Take deep calming breaths, focus your energy...I can almost hear those rumpled, charming voices. I press my hands to my chest, as if holding my own heart in place and then speak like a summoner should - with as much strength and courtesy as I can muster.


"Please, I need...the silence." A despairingly polite request, an unspoken question. I hope...oh, I hope they understand. I hope. They always do...understand.


The shift of their feet, the gentle rustle of their clothes as they moved, I am...indescribably grateful for my guardians' evident comprehension. They acquiesced...the sounds of their movement drawing further away. Although I'm not facing them and I assume that they weren't facing me, I bow my head low in appreciation, like I've been trained to do my entire life.


Silence. I've always thought that it was soothing, reassuring. In my childhood, when my guidance for summoning grew to be too much and too harsh, I liked to flee to the quiet of the beach, bothered only by my own thoughts. But...Tidus. were so much more reassuring then the calm of silence. Now, in comparison, the silence is so loud, and in it, my thoughts are scaring me. I hate it.


Why aren't you here? How can this be? We WON against Sin. Now you're supposed to be here to laugh with me. Just be here, because...


You said you'd stay. Always. But what about now?


Darkness again, at the mere thought. My eyes betray me to my sadness; the emotionless colour my only companion. This time, I can verily feel the dark pervading my being, and there is nothing around me, and nobody to guard me. Guard me, from the pain... But why should I be guarded? Nobody else in Spira is guarded as I am – how am I better then them?




...The strong, throbbing feeling of it all through me, my being, my soul. Not in my body, because it's as though I have no body left to feel this pain, no limbs to function with, no mouth to cry out.


Breathe. I have to remember to...why bother? How can it hurt this much?


A shock went through me, not hurting yet not pleasant, through my limbs and my muscles, sharply. I've come back to myself, to the still, my hands grasping the nearest material of my clothes, but what did that matter?


Tidus, gone.


I'm sorry; I think I'd say to him. I'm not strong enough to do this, because...oh, by Yevon, because---




And I had cried out for him as he had turned away for what seemed to be the last time. He had turned, but not in the normal, easygoing manner in which he does everything, he had turned as if the movement caused him the greatest torture. But no, that wasn't right. The greatest torture had been to see him walking away.


Now I can't stop. The sobs are racking through my brain, great unstoppable torments of thunder, and coursing to the very core of my being; my seeking to hold them in and keep my sanity but they break through the feeble barriers that I create and remain on my lips. Not strong enough. Crying now, unstoppably, like a child. Crying for what? Not strong enough. Oh, cliché upon clichés but I don't broken heart. Tidus is gone, because he never was.


Was? What did that mean? He was...something. Everything. My guardian, my friend, How could the fayths suddenly make it nothing? How? He said for always, but they've made it nothing.


Possible? Why think about it? What else could cause this insufferable anguish, the clammy wetness trailing on my cheeks? I don't cry, but I find myself doing it often.


What had it been like, to look down and see your own hands dissolving away from you?


You're stronger then I can think about. I can't imagine...if it had been I in your stead. Could I have looked back and watched you run right through me? Or was everything decided this you could suffer to watch yourself disappear from me, and I to witness your departure?


And what would you say if you saw me now? I can only imagine, I must appear, outwardly, very weak. Then again...I think my mind is falling apart at its very seams. That would make it weak inwardly as well, wouldn't it?


No, you'd probably do whatever you always do: try to cheer me up. Take those couple of confident steps forward; smile that almost twitchy, jovial grin fraught with hidden meanings. Then catch my eyes and recount an amusing story about your home that would...somehow...relate to what I was feeling. Make lots of crazy gestures, for my benefit. Your attention—it was so different from Lulu's, or Wakka's, or anybody's—it almost made me embarrassed because you'd be so entirely focused on me, and what was wrong.


And I loved it, because I knew that you weren't seeing me as a guardian looks at their summoner, their charge, nor admiring my courage. I could always see it in your eyes...that it was safe, with you, just to be Yuna. Just...forget about Sin, because you weren't interested in that.


But you can't make it right now, Tidus.


My lungs are taut now, caused probably by the violent sobs that are taming themselves, growing quieter within the minutes. It turns into silent crying, the tears that I can't control, yet have no wish to. His name residing in my throat and if I wasn't careful, I know that I'll scream it out. Some sense in my head is telling me not to let that happen--as if his name were taboo, like so many other features that he had run right over. I shouldn't say it. I never should have. I should have never asked him to be my guardian, should have never allowed him to touch me like this: physically and emotionally.


His eyes. What had drawn me in the first place, those inextinguishable cerulean depths; the colour of the water that was his world, their expression had pierced me as he had faced me. But the fates were cruel...beyond every sense...and when I ran to him...there was no barrier except the cold deck.


And his image behind me.


Propriety, customs and image have nothing on me, so I half sit, half tumble to the ground, turning my legs to one side and covering my eyes with an arm, muffling the remaining sobs. My voice has died away, as if bolted somewhere, and I turn my head up to the sky, holding the tears that waited to be cried in my eyes. Calming myself was...important, so I breathe heavily and try to remember something peaceful.


Those same eyes, miniature whirlpools set in his features, ever expressive, had danced in their amusement when he witnessed my own silly antics throughout my pilgrimage. Our pilgrimage.


"So this is what it's like." I'm not speaking to anybody in particular, save for myself. It's beyond words, as if I was trying to justify what was happening, what HAD happened, to my heart.


My hand had a mind of its own as it reached out seemingly aimlessly into the air. The breeze was gentle, the same breeze that softly blew the strands of my hair to stick to my cold cheeks. "Would it have hurt...this much...if it ended up being me to die, and Tidus to remain?"


He feared having to experience this pain, when Rikku told him of the original final outcome of our journey. My own death.


I shake my head hard, almost like I'm scolding myself – I've been taught to do that, too. It doesn't make much sense, but that doesn't stop anything. "Then...I'm glad. Glad so he wouldn't have to suffer this."


Turning my head to the breeze, I hope that the wind would dry my cried tears so I wouldn't have to scrub my hand across my eyes again. I can't help but keep talking, softly and timidly. "This is what I wanted, right? From the very beginning...this is what I desired."


What I goals had transformed and metamorphosed quickly. My innocence and my lack of experience had paved the road that eventually fell away from Yevon, and you had walked that road right beside me, absolutely without fear. I had felt that, and knew full well that I couldn't be afraid because you'd always—ALWAYS—be ready to protect me, no matter how crazy the venture. Even if I tossed away the faith that held all of Spira in a vice. And where would I be, if it hadn't been for him on that night when my resolve was so harshly tested?


I close my eyes and murmured softly, "Macalania." The memory of his lips finding their path onto mine, his gentle but firm hold around my shoulders, the quiet insistence and assertiveness of his passion that had convinced me that the moment was so very right, and that surrender was my only option because pulling away wasn't justified. I could almost feel his touch, his fingertips that had tickled at my neck ever slightly before being submerged in the pervading cool of the water, the element, which he was undoubtedly master of, and the warmth of his body near to mine....


Quietly, I trace nondescript patterns on the deck with my finger. "We've made Spira happy. That was my goal. I never meant to..."


I can't finish the sentence. The feeling of those painful sobs has welled up in my chest again and I breathe slowly, controlling. The sentence finishes in my mind, regardless.


I never meant to fall in love.


Love. It was so strange. Throughout my entire childhood, Lulu had bred a sort of skepticism about the concept. Thinking about it, it was a bit farfetched: having somebody who would give everything away just to be with you.


It wasn't farfetched now.


If I say it, will it make any difference? Love...that was what burned steadfastly in my veins for the conclusion of our trip, and it was exactly what was turning my heart to ice; ready to shatter at the tiniest touch.


"Is this what we deserve?" I can feel my brow furrowing with the immediate question. It had burst out, questioning the air. "Is it?"


Searching my head for answers to my own query, I find none. "All my father's friends. We have all..."


Taking a gulp of fresh air, my voice becomes stronger. I feel...almost like I'm challenging the wind, daring the fates to come and answer me. Let them come and try to justify this. "We dedicated everything to Spira's future! All of our actions were giving, give, give...and still you take away Tidus, and a response?"


What did I have to say? Who was it that was listening?


I love you. I'll keep repeating it, without fail and without decrease in fervor until my vocal cords give out permanently, until I grow old and gray, if you would just give him BACK.


The air is still, and for a single moment, I nearly thought the breeze had stopped. A second in time, frozen, and I wait in apprehension for some sort of an answer. Deluding myself, of course. There was none.


Instead, I chastise myself for asking. My upbringing gets the better of me – as it often does - and I back down from my challenge to the unknown. After all, how could I act so selfishly? All the people of Spira have made sacrifices, haven't they? These were selfish thoughts.


Tidus' image flashes momentarily in my mind. His self-assured, confident and satisfied grin, the sheen of light perspiration lying on his skin, the dancing eyes of water and the trembling reflection of the sun on the gold of his hair... selfish?


"Or are they?" Tipping my head in silent wonder, I ponder and come to no conclusion. Oh, why am I thinking of this anyways? It doesn't matter, nothing matters.


"It's still not going to bring Tidus back!" I shout it fearlessly, and then recoil at my own boldness.


Nothing comes to me during the next passing minutes. I don't want to be in the company of the silence anymore; I'm afraid of what I might think of or do. But then...I don't want to join the others. Not yet. What was it that they were going to say to me? And I to them? I fear that at Lulu, or Wakka, or Rikku's first syllable, or Kimahri's first caring glance, I might break down and lose all that I've fought for.


More time.


Spira, my home. I close my eyes and visualize all the places on the beautiful land I had traveled. It was almost therapeutic, and it takes my mind off... The refreshing lilt in the wind as I had stood near the bow of our ship and the sun on the water...Kilika's lush and luxuriant overgrown jungle, a mesh of uncountable shades of green...the Highroad, and all the people whom we encountered along the way...


But then...


"How much have I given to Spira?" It is a careful question that I ask now of myself. I wonder at it warily, thinking of my past, my present and my possible future. I had been faced with no choice, but I've had to give up the one value which if I actually had been given the choice, I would never have surrendered: my love. And many years ago, indirectly---


My voice cracks almost embarrassingly when I mumble, "My father..."


Yes, my father. He had given himself up for Spira, too. He had given up his life and the lives of his closest friends, Auron and Jecht, and left behind his home, family and everything just to bring a state of Calm to the land, a most notably temporary state. Had it been worth those three noble lives? When Tidus had asked that question on the Highroad, there had been no doubt resting in my mind. But many events occurred after that, and people have changed...


My mind became a flurry of indecipherable thoughts as I reflect of the celebrations of the defeat of Sin ten years before. The hurricane of parades, the speeches, the never-ending sea of smiles, and laughter. Peals of laughter sounding like the tinkling of silver bells from every building in every street of Bevelle, like a symphony of voices that I couldn't yet interpret as a child.


And myself...I remember a quiet awe. My father's name was spoken by every person I passed; it was amazing. I reveled in the feeling of such lavish attention. Now, thinking of it, I grimace at my own naivety. Then again, I had been very young and not yet hit with the realization of my own personal loss, but...


I'm startled to feel a sudden sense of disgust. The revelation feels like a great weight being lodged into my chest, along with the rest of the ones already there, which had taken up permanent residence.


"Celebration...of the defeat of Sin. My own naive perspective..." I frown and finish in my head. My own perspective was just as naive as every inhabitant of Spira.


They had all danced, laughed, cried. All in a great carousel, a turbulent maelstrom dedicated to the temporary death of Sin. But the death of Sin had equated the death of two legendary guardians, Auron and Jecht, and my own father, Summoner Braska.


"They...GLORIFIED their deaths." The sheer grotesqueness of it all strikes me now, hard. And this, it had become tradition after every defeat of the monster.


Would they...perform the same disgusting ritual of glory...towards the finally departed spirit of Auron, and of...Tidus?


The great heavy stone in my chest moved, slipping down further. I feel almost sick at the thought of celebrating Tidus' death. No, that would not happen. My love...there has to be something done.


My body is as stiff as a board as I stand, stretching my arms reluctantly. I stare into the sky, in the direction of where Tidus had leapt, perhaps searching for an answer that evidently will not arrive. Where is he now? I think. I suppose that I would never know. What is he contemplating right now?


Suddenly, I feel extremely empty. Yes, those symbolic stones were fossilized in my stomach, causing a sickening sensation, and forever would there be that painful lump in my throat, but it was as though all emotion had vanished, without a trace, from me.


Empty. That is how I felt as I picked myself up from the ground, after falling through the body of my own love. There had been an insurmountable level of despair, and it was as though pieces of me were falling away and into the ocean...dissolving. And I had seen the translucent sheen of his arms as Tidus had wrapped them around me for the last time; I had imagined what the embrace would feel like, because there had been nothing there.


A single, solitary and personifying tear runs down the side of my cheek rapidly, dripping lightly onto the deck.


"I have sacrificed the person I love, the only value I would never sacrifice," My voice was flat. "I have no goals and nothing to offer, because I have already achieved mine." I state this with a short simplicity of truth. For a moment, I believe myself to be finished in my declaration, but then I added, "The people of Spira will need me as their role model, and as a guide. I must aid them to prosperity. This is my goal now. I have completed my pilgrimage."


There was one more truth left on the surface of my mind, but I didn't need to say it to have it acknowledged: Tidus, there will only be you, because I'll never recover from this. Appeal to the testimony of my now-broken spirit, which will heal, and my forever-irretrievable heart, which will not. I believe that my own heart beats within you, and yours in me, and it is impossible for me to love another.





Further away, Lulu turned to stare in the near distance. Wakka stood slightly behind her, focused grimly on the same object. They had nothing to comment upon, apparently, until I turned around and started towards them


At my movement, I could see they both shifted, feeling a bit more at ease. Even from where they stood, I am certain they could both perceive the set expression that I am now holding – permanently - on my face; hopefully an embodiment of emotional and mental strength. That is what I am aiming for, at least. As I draw nearer, I smile, though obviously halfheartedly, solely for their benefit.


Both Lulu and Wakka solemnly bow, to my surprise. That is not in their style...well...maybe Wakka's. My older 'sister' steps forward and links her arm with mine, saying with quiet acknowledgement of a victory, "Summoner Yuna, you have won."


I hear this and stop, thinking. They're watching me expectantly, I know, because I can see them out of the corner of my eye. I come to a final consensus and asserted softly, "WE have won. Everyone."






(Many days after returning home)


Besaid Island.


My permanent residence. It's a perfect dream-utopia for the common person, although I find it baffling that we've managed to keep the population low. Not that any of the locals are complaining. They guard this tiny island so jealously, like it was their one and only treasure, which, in truth, it is.


But what is there to say, really, of this priceless treasure of theirs--of mine? White sand beaches that retain the warmth from the sun and send energy 'zinging' through your feet, trees and plant life so intensely coloured that people who aren't conditioned to them often have to cover their eyes, and exotic animals that are fascinating to study and to interact with. Not to mention the inhabitants, who are all quite pleasing in manner, although very low-maintenance and low-key. I fell in love with this island when I was small, mostly because even I could sense that everything around me was pure.


Life seems to slow down here, and that's what makes it so very relaxing. It's as if our little island has a time zone of its own, because nobody is in a rush, especially since there is no violence (really) to worry about. Of course, there is the odd fiend that comes wandering in, but the village is armed with plenty of able-bodied men working here, the Aurochs (who are getting stronger and stronger as the days go by), and of course, my ramble of guardians.


Remarkably, all of them agreed to come to Besaid. It was obvious that I, Wakka and Lulu would return--it's our home--but I was almost certain, though not exactly pleased, that at least Rikku would have to visit with her father in advance. She just tossed her ponytail and asserted, "I'll do whatever I like, thank you very much."


The villagers, in preparation for our arrival, erected a neat little collection of personal tents for our party (a nice touch) just near to the village, off the main path. It gives us an adequate amount of privacy, because ever since it was announced that I was going back to Besaid, at least for the time being, many tourists and sightseers have tried to stop by. There is also some strange plan in the works, Wakka tells me, that the villagers want build a huge house for us. Apparently, they are dreading over 'people such as us' (a statement which I have yet to understand) living in tents. I protest, evidently, but nobody seems to be listening. You have to appreciate the generous spirit of the people of Besaid, but sometimes they go a tad overboard. To that note, it was also difficult, for me, at least, when a number of them came to offer their consolations to me about...Tidus, who barged his way into the lives of many people in his...short...stay here.


I don't want to think about that right now.


There was one instance with a villager that almost completely unnerved me. Strangely enough, it turned out to be an aged friend of mine to almost touch that breaking point: an elderly matron who used to invite me for dinner many times as a child. She has always struck me as beautiful, not in the regular cultural sense that exempts all older persons, but the fine and delicate bones of her face, the gentle movements of her hands and her graceful walk, now hampered a bit by a cane, have always made an impact upon my soul. I want to grow old like her.


So it was with her; her snowy and wispy hair lifted by even a slight breeze, the lines that exemplified her experience on her face creasing and her hands with a barley noticeable tremor, that led me to a peaceful clearing amid the trees of Besaid to sit and talk, and it was she who firmly asked me: Have you talked with your guardians? Are you going to open back up to them sometime? Do you realize their concern for you? How long are you going to smother your emotions?


I know the others are worried about me. They have been doing an absolutely marvelous job putting on a facade that everything is all right, but I can almost feel their curiosity resonating. The questions are hovering, 'How are you holding up?', or 'What are you thinking?' or even 'What happened between the two of you?', but they haven't gotten the courage (or audacity, if you wish) to inquire.


This is all good for me, of course, because I don't think I could stand to answer one of the likes of those questions. Some wounds are still far too fresh, and others...well...I already know will never heal, ever. I haven't peace yet. But acceptance is the key, I suppose. I've just got to find it, then.


I suppose...yes, I have been running from their contact. We all interact normally about daily affairs and talk quietly over our meals together, but I myself have shied away from the depths of friendly contact. But I—I just have to get away from their voices. They never seem to cease conferring about the event and it results in my fleeing, trying not to hear their confessions about the time because it provokes my own: Rikku saying how she never suspected Sir Auron was an unsent, Wakka confessing that he himself had been quite near to tears at the departure of two guardians. I don't—I can't—listen to it.


Hmmm ... Rikku and I went out to the beach this morning. It was nice, very peaceful, but she was fairly fidgety. And, as is her way, she is pretty fussy--she'd make a good mother someday (I told her this and she screeched loud enough to make the glasses ring)--over me and she's the one closest to the breaking point, regarding the questions.


But it was nice, regardless of my needing to be a bit on my guard about that. The easiest way to steer clear of the topic is to talk about HER, which I am more then willing to do.


She had jerked as we ambled down the sands and gripped my arm, her eyes all seriousness. "Yunie, can I tell you a secret?"


Her evident discomfort and enthusiasm to talk makes me burst into sporadic torrents of laughter, and this was no exception. She had released my arm and put her hands on her hips, her bare feet digging into the sand as she set her stance. "I'm SERIOUS. Yunie..."


I rolled my eyes and looked away, trying to keep myself from laughing again, and then answered, "All right, all right. What is it?"


Biting nervously at her lip, Rikku twisted and contorted her body for no apparent reason before bursting out, "I think I'm smitten with the entire team of Aurochs!"


She had straightened quickly and scanned my face for a reaction. At first, my thoughts went somewhere along the lines of 'you were so worked up about THAT?' and then the absurdity of the entire thing hit me and I could stop laughing.


Rikku was quite indignant, and then started hitting my back, thinking that I was choking because of my over-abundance of laughter. Needless to say, a lot of teasing is going to go into THAT one.


When I finally stopped, I gave her the required withering look, exactly what she was looking for, and she assured me uselessly, "Well, don't worry. It's not SERIOUS or anything like that."


Fighting off another laughter fit, I waved her away and we trekked back to the village. She left her hut a few minutes ago, giving me a devilish look that ascertained exactly what she was going to do. Gods, she just couldn't get enough of flirting with big, brawny men. It's a wonder she's not attracted to Wakka...


Speaking of him, he's probably going to rain on Rikku's parade right about now. He hasn't announced anything, but now that...the finished, I'm certain that Wakka is going back into blitzball. I mean, perhaps when he made his retirement decision, he was counting on a longer journey, or the return of Sin or something of the like. Anyways, he's been training the Aurochs extra-hard now, so he MUST be up to something...


Kimahri is constantly funny. I think the journey really brought out his lighter and more humorous side, because he's always commenting on Rikku when she's silly and Wakka's hilarious mannerisms. Not to mention how the effect of Besaid's heat has on his fur coat... He's currently solving this 3-dimensional puzzle that we bought on a stop in Bevelle. It's intrigued the rest of us, so I suppose Kimahri's taking a crack at it and is going to prove us all to be idiots.


And of course, there's Lulu. She's being very...sisterly to me – and acting completely normal. It's lucky...she seems to be the only one who isn't behaving differently in my company. It's sort of reassuring, I think, and there are times when I just want to cry everything out to her. But, I'm afraid...of the crying. Ever since...on the airship...when I just let it all out...I'm afraid that if I do it again, this time I won't ever get a hold of myself. And that would render me useless to Spira, right? Not what Tidus would want...


...Never mind. Forget I said that.


But, my speculations on Spira were right, it seems. They really DO seem to need me in some head position, and it makes me a bit uneasy. I don't believe that I should be put on display just to make the inhabitants of this land feel better. We've got to form a new internal system and the like. Not to mention that Yevon itself has come crashing down, so a new form of Spiran unity must be developed.


I've got some potential meeting set up in a few weeks regarding the topic. I've met with some regional leaders--they all wanted to talk to me for some reason--and we've sent out some scouts into most of Spira to see what the people want to keep and don't, and maybe we'll form something out of that.


Most of those leaders I encountered on our journey—in an almost-shameful lap of luxury—back through Spira, to Bevelle, to Luca and eventually back home, here. Of course, they all were intent on hearing about those final moments, before and after, the end destruction of Sin. My desperation grew to be quite great.


Our party passed, on foot, through Guadosalam, and it was very difficult, reassuring the Guado people. They all were extremely bewildered by the turn of events regarding Maester Seymour and his intentions. Regardless of the trouble they have sometimes given our group in the past; they were disarmingly polite and focused on making penance. As we were making to depart, I almost lost my nerve that was holding me in place and I turned to the guard of the entrance to the Farplane. We stared at one another for some time, until he finally nodded in respect towards me, in an indication that I should go on my way.


I'd praise that Guado to all of my abilities now, because I don't think I could have held to go to the Farplane and see what—who—was there. I'd rather not discover it, and I believe that he could sense that.


I suppose I've already got my future set out for me. It appears that everybody associates me, and my guardians, with fixing the world and making it better. I've got to ask sometimes, wasn't defeating Sin enough? But I guess if I can help in any way, it's a great deal more useful then doing nothing. I won't sit idle. And perhaps one day, I'll be worthy. One day, I'll have done enough to deserve his return, maybe.


"Would you stay here if they put you in such a position of leadership?" Lulu asks me. The future--my future--was a common enough topic between her and me. She was always asserting that whatever I do and wherever I go, my guardians would follow and protect me, even though my pilgrimage was finished.


Pondering her question, I respond with a fair certainty, "Yes. I don't like Bevelle, or any of the other important places in Spira."


Lulu is making dinner, tossing her long hair back in impatience because it keeps slipping over her shoulders. As she stirs one pot, she looks up and holds my eyes in that special way she has. "No nice memories of Bevelle?"


I look at her with mock astonishment. "How could you guess?"


We both fall silent and I look down at my hands, clasped tightly in my lap. I wonder briefly why I get so tense whenever anybody, even my friends, converse with me. The sad truth of it is, I know the answer. There's something else on her mind – as there always is, almost voiced. I look up and speak just at the same moment Lulu does.


"Do you think that---?"


"I was wondering..." She doesn't finish her sentence.


Smiling at each other, I motion for her to speak first. Lulu absentmindedly tucks her bangs behind her ear and measures her words carefully, "Off-topic...I've been wondering know, on the pilgrimage, the way you felt..."


She trails off again, shying away from it. It was wondrous--the woman-who-always-speaks-her-mind backing off, but there's this mutual respect that we have for each other. Then again, shouldn't I, out of the same respect, at least tell her something to assuage her worries? Lulu waves her hand quickly, silently instructing me to disregard what she had just said. I bit my lip and looked down, then plucked up my courage. This was *Lulu*, right? I can tell her anything.


"How I felt...about..." This was almost as if I were telling it to myself.


Her eyes dart up to mine with a steady intensity as I speak. His name almost seemed to lie on the table before us. Tidus.


I look away and answer as truthfully as I can without letting my emotions get the better of me. I know she is watching me closely, but I don't want to let her see...


"I loved him." She sighs audibly at my answer. I know that it was exactly as she expected. Had she feared for my emotional well being throughout the entire voyage? I'm certain of it now.


My voice is a great deal stronger as I add to my statement, "And I still do." I meet her eyes now with my own certainty, because my feelings are the same as I thought they'd be that fated day on the airship when I considered everything. I fear that I'll see pity in her eyes, and I can't stand to see such a thing, so I stand up sharply.


"I'm going to tell Rikku and Wakka that dinner is almost ready." Lulu doesn't say anything, nor do I wait for a reply as I hastily make the perfunctory bow before leaving the hut and setting out on the makeshift trail.


I don't even need to think about where to put my feet on this familiar slope as I head to the beach, where I know the Aurochs would be practicing, with Rikku watching eagerly. I have traveled this path so many times, even when I was small and only seven, yet to be exposed to battle, hurt, true friendship


A throbbing but incessantly regular stab of pain rocks my chest, but I only rub slightly at my neck in return. I'm getting used to that pain.


There was one night, characteristically peaceful of Besaid, when I was sleeping surprisingly well. But this sudden knowledge pierced my subconscious, brought me roughly out of whatever I was dreaming and I sat up straight in bed, knowing perfectly well: he was there. The shadows had almost beckoned to me as my gaze had darted around the space, searching for his easygoing form. I was certain.... I had felt that golden hair on my cheek, heard that familiar teasing chuckle.


But he wasn't there at all.


A quiet, almost uplifting knowledge burns within me, now. My heart is beating within his chest, wherever he was, and it is his powerful heart, full of unbridled passion, that drums through me now. Each beat is like a gentle consolation, an attempt to heal what is untreatable. Even so, it still felt nice.


So this is how it's going to be, I think in a resigned fashion. And in this state, it's how I'm going to face the undetermined future, a future...without love. Mine's already past. What was that saying that he had told me, that past day when we had visited the Farplane? When one lovebird dies...


But really, even after the multitude of speeches and declarations I have made--all of them endearing to the public yet utterly meaningless to the lover side of me, a side which he had created and it would exist solely for him--maybe everyone else was reassured, but I haven't moved from where I last was.


I still can't say his name.


















AN::: I don't think I'm particularly skilled or adept at writing angst...of a sort, but that doesn't prevent me from doing it anyways! Anyways...please tell me what you think at the e-mail at the top of the page, or the convenient little review button at the bottom and to your left, thanks. I mean use the poor feature, after all the slaving the people of FF.N have done over it. ~Firey A.