Thursday, August 23rd, 2003

12:09 pm

Besaid Police Department; Chief Officer Gregory Walters's officer

The Chief Officer's expression held a myriad of emotion as Rikku finished up her report. As soon as she had left Yuna's she'd gone home and called Greg at his house, knowing it was late and he would no longer be at his office at that time. She'd told him she had a tremendous breakthrough in the case that he'd want to hear about right away.

He'd told her to come to his office first thing the following day, and Rikku didn't spare a moment. As soon as her eyes opened, she'd gotten dressed and headed out the door.

Now, here she was, finishing up her report, wondering what in the world his reaction would be, knowing what hers had been.

He glanced to the floor for a while, seeming to be pondering what he was going to say. It seemed like forever by the time he finally asked, "Yuna told you all that?" Did he sound disbelieving?

She nodded quickly, but not too quickly, she made sure. "Every single thing. Do you think I made it up?"

Greg shook his head and held up a hand. "No, no, it isn't that. But she didn't say any of that when she was first interviewed. None of that at all."

Rikku placed a hand on her hip and almost rolled her eyes, but wanted to still have some respect for the man. "Well maybe after she found out he was going to be killed…" she stated matter-of-factly.

Greg nodded again, the semi-disbelief he'd had fading. "Right. Well, I suppose you'll have to make a written report and send it to the Court. The Judge presiding at tomorrow's trial is Judge Kimahri of Kilika. Make sure to send it directly to him."

Rikku's nose crinkled at the name. "Kimahri?"

Greg kept a straight face, but his tone was one of amusement. "Like Rikku is any better."

She allowed herself to smile, but it only lasted a short while before she became serious again. "I'll get right on that, then. And one more thing…"

"What is it?"

Rikku hesitated, wringing her hands together a little. "You think this is going to help? It's going to save him?"

Greg seemed thoughtful. "I should think so. This is definitely strong, strong evidence. And coming from Yuna, it's a very reliable source."

Rikku nodded, a smile at bay. "Right. Okay then, I'll see you later."

Friday, August 24th, 2003

2:09 am

Luca Apartment Complex; apartment 3A

Rikku glanced over at the pot of coffee that was resting on the counter in the kitchen, squinting to see, as her only light for the past five hours had been from the small lamp on the desk where she was working. The pot was empty, the second pot to be more precise, as was the mug beside her elbow. It was alright, though. She had finished. Why in the world she'd decided to write all of her report out by hand was beyond her cognition. Maybe it was because if she did it with a pencil and paper, she'd feel as though she put more heart and soul into it. Passing off the thought as one of the corniest things she'd ever drawn up, she grabbed the paper (four papers, actually) and set them carefully in the drawer of the desk.

She proceeded to take the mug and put it in the sink, next to the empty coffee pot, and then head to bed. She'd taken a shower long before she'd even started, and it was a smart idea. She would've gone to bed dirty at this point.

With a yawn, she changed into her pajamas and began to slide under the soft, cotton sheets of her bed… when the phone rang.

"This is frickin' endless…" she mumbled, reaching over to grab the phone, almost dropping it in the process. "Hello?"

"Rikku?" came a familiar voice. "This is you isn't it?"

Rikku suddenly became more awake. "Tidus?"

"Oh good, it's you," he said, breathing a sigh of relief. "You sound different over the phone."

She didn't comment on what he said. "What are you doing calling me? Especially at two in the morning."

There was a short period of silence. "Look, I know what's going to happen to me tomorrow."

Her brow furrowed. Then, it made sense. He knew she needed to get a report in that day, and if she didn't, he'd be convicted and sentenced to death. She hadn't talked to him at all that day, so he figured she'd gotten no report, and he was doomed. "Tidus, you don't understand…"

He cut her off before she could explain to him what was really going on. "Just listen to me, Rikku. I have a lot of important things to tell you, and I know I won't get the chance if I wait anymore."

She sighed, knowing she wouldn't get a word in edgewise until he was finished. "Okay then. Go ahead. What is it you want to tell me?"

There was another hesitation. "I really appreciate all you've done, or rather, tried to do for me, Rikku. I really do. Believing in me when everyone else had given up, prying into my head, just being so damn stubborn… Maybe if I would've just told you…"

Rikku raised an eyebrow, thinking she could get even more hardcore evidence if he'd tell her what happened as well. She was still a little unsure about the Court taking Yuna's report as enough evidence. "Tell me what? There's still time, Tidus. There's still time to tell me everything."

"No," came the immediate response. "It's better this way. It really is."

"How can you say that?" she asked, getting caught up in the conversation with him and forgetting there was nothing for either of them to be worrying about.

"I told you before, Rikku. What I did… It's a sin, a crime, wrong. I have to be punished. I want to be punished."

Rikku shook her head, her blonde locks flowing with the movement. "I don't believe that. You don't deserve the punishment a murderer would receive. You know that." Now, she was slipping him hints that she really knew what was going on because of Yuna. Maybe he would pick up on it and stop freaking out.

More silence. "No," he said again. It seemed like that was his favorite word to say to her. "It doesn't matter why. The only thing that matters is what I did. I took lives, and for whatever reason, I have to face the truth… as well as the retribution."

"Tidus, if you'd just let me explain…"

"I'm not finished yet. I don't have a lot of time, and there's something else I have to say."

Sighing again, she asked, "What's that?"

"The way you've treated me… It's nice. I liked it. And I've grown to like you too. A lot. I might even love you."

Her eyes widened. "You can't be -- "

"I love you, Rikku. Thank you for everything you tried to do."

The only sound she heard afterwards was the click as he hung up, and then a dial tone.

Friday, August 24th, 2003

11:45 pm

Kilika Area Courthouse

Rikku wrung her hands anxiously. She kept shooting glances in the direction of Tidus and the attorney who was representing him. It hadn't been a long trial, so Rikku didn't know if it was even an actual trial. There wasn't even a jury. Just what she liked to call an "audience" that she was a part of, Tidus, the defense attorney, the prosecutor, and the Judge. But Greg called it that, so she took it upon herself to do the same.

Rikku had given her report to Judge Kimahri, who was a huge, burly man with hair so gray that it actually looked blue. In fact, all the hair on his body that she could see took on a bluish hue. She was a little amazed by that. Yuna hadn't been in the courtroom, but she'd agreed that if there were any questions regarding the report Rikku had made, she'd gladly appear in person if it was necessary. But only if it was necessary. The prosecutor made a case about how someone like Tidus couldn't be put into a mental hospital, that he needed to be destroyed. He made the comparison between Tidus and a mad, rabid dog. Both were crazy, both were dangerous, and both needed to be put down.

Rikku didn't like that comparison at all. In fact, she'd found it very hard multiple times to just sit quietly and not yell out some kind of remark about how she knew Tidus, and knew he was really just a troubled young man who just needed the right kind of help. And after hearing his confession the night before (although, coming from a mentally unstable individual, she couldn't be sure how sturdy that confession stood, or whether or not it could be taken seriously) she wanted to be the one to provide that help.

The sound of the Judge's deep, growl-like voice snapped her out of her thoughts. "After hearing both the prosecutor and defense attorney, as well as reading the report from the criminal psychologist working on this case, I am prepared to state my verdict."

Once again, Rikku shot glances at Tidus like crazy, but he simply stood as the Judge spoke, not looking around whatsoever. He just stared straight ahead, like a wild animal who feared being sentenced to a life behind bars at a zoo. Although, if the same result applied, he would be much worse off than an animal going to the zoo. Rikku shook the thought from her head.

Stupid thoughts.

"According to the report made by Miss Rikku, it is stated that the murders committed were the result of many years of torment and abuse from his father, Jecht, and were not intentional, nor were they committed out of anything but pure insanity and desperation. Therefore, I have agreed to sentence Mr. Tidus to seven years at the Macalania Mental Hospital, where he will be treated for his mental instabilities and can hopefully one day be cured of his psychological disease."

Rikku couldn't have been happier. There was no doubt in her mind that she was the happiest person in that room. Maybe even happier than Tidus. Probably happier than Tidus.

She waited for everyone else to leave so it was basically just the two of them. She knew there would be a swarm of reporters outside the courthouse, and she wanted to speak with him before any of that madness started up.

She walked up to him slowly, tapping him on the shoulder to alert him of her presence, although he might've already known.

He turned to her, his crystal eyes not so dull and lifeless anymore. A smile formed on his lips. A smile she'd never seen cross his features. A smile she wanted to see more of. "I didn't know," was all he said at first.

She shook her head, smiling back. "You wouldn't let me tell you."

He even let out a quiet laugh that was different. He seemed different.

Of course he seems different, you idiot. He knows he's not being killed anymore.

"Well I have to thank you again, Rikku. I never would've been able to do any of this without you."

She gave a nod. "It's no problem."

"And about last night…" he began slowly, "I really didn't want to scare you or anything. And I don't think I meant "I love you" the way you thought I did."

She tilted her head to the side curiously. "Then… how did you mean it?" She wasn't disappointed, as love was something that took time, especially in the situation they were in. If he would ever in a million years love her, and vice versa, it would take a lot more than her saving his life to do so.

Funny… that's how it works in the movies.

"I'm just very thankful for everything you've done. I wanted you to know that. Maybe telling you I loved you wasn't the best way to go about it. So maybe saying… I love what you did for me would be best."

"Ah, I understand now," Rikku told him, pointing a finger towards him. "Well you're very welcome, Tidus. I knew we'd make it."

"You did, didn't you?" he asked, sounding a little disbelieving of her doggedness, even still.

"I really did."

He let out a quiet laugh, then became serious again rather quickly. "You're going to stick with me, right? All through those seven years I have to be there?"

She nodded immediately. "You can count on it."

Friday, August 24th, 2003

7:23 pm

Besaid Criminal Asylum; outer hall

Rikku walked alongside Tidus, who was sandwiched in between her and the security officer that was escorting him down to the car waiting outside to take him to the Macalania Mental Hospital. She'd spent the rest of that day with him, just talking with him and helping him prepare for the move. She was so glad she'd been able to help him, and see to it he got the help he needed to get better.

She wouldn't visit him everyday, as she still had classes at college to attend, as well as other cases in the future to work on. But she promised him she'd never forget about him, as he was her very first real case. And she also promised to visit him at least once a month, just to check up on him and see how things were going. And that seemed fine with him.

The sun wasn't set yet, but it was beginning to, and painted a portrait of gold, red, and purple tints across the sky as they exited the large, stony building. The car was awaiting him, as expected, and as they stepped onto the sidewalk, Tidus turned to her.

He reached out to touch her cheek ever so gently. Not really in a romantic manner, but more so in a gratified way. "Thank you again," he said softly.

She felt her face grow warm as she smiled. "You're welcome… again."

The smile he'd had remained until he looked past her, and a look of horror replaced the peaceful expression that used to be there.

Rikku's brow furrowed. "What's wrong?" She turned to look at what he saw. Standing not more than twenty feet down from where they were stood a man. He had long, unruly russet hair, as well as a clean cut goatee, the polar opposite of his hair. He had dark eyes that seemed to be piercing straight into Tidus's very soul.

"Who is that, Tidus?" Rikku asked softly.

"…My father."

Final Thoughts:

First off, let me say this has been quite a project. It took me about a year, if not more, I didn't really look, to write this. And yes, I did my research on the mental illnesses and their symptoms mentioned, court cases, and basic rules of criminal psychology, as well as some CSI information. I wanted to get it as close to the real thing as possible, and I hope I succeeded. That was a goal of mine, to be realistic. And original, and I think I succeeded on that one though, lmfao.

For those of you who wanted it to be a hardcore Yuna/Tidus or a hardcore Rikku/Tidus: Well, I tried. It was actually going to be a Tikku when I started it, so that's why there was hardly any Tidus/Yuna action. Plus, it's hard to make Yuna with him anyway, since he's in an asylum and she's… not. So Rikku would've made more sense. But sadly, not enough sense. Sure she spent time with him and grew close to him, but it's hard to make someone fall in love with a psycho (no matter how hot or pathetic he is) just like that. Remember the key word: realism. But I did my best, and I hope the small amounts of romance and fluff I did include made you happy.

Also, the ending… Yes, I know I'm just a horrible little person who deserves to be beaten over the head multiple times for doing this to you. But… it needs to be done. You don't think I'm gonna leave a fic like this all happy happy, with every end tied up, do you? Noo, that's just not the way Wolfy works. If I did that, you'd read it, like it, and be done with it, maybe never even think of ALU again. But with an ending like this, you keep guessing, and it's always on your mind. So I, in essence, take over your brain. lmfao, sneaky, ain't it?

It's really up to you to decide what comes out of Jecht's reappearance. If you want to make it happy and nice, and that he and Tidus make up, sure, go ahead. If you wanna go all twisted and sadistic on me and make Jecht kill Tidus, or vice versa, then by all means, knock yourself out. Another reason I left it like that: You can decide for yourself. The writer doesn't always have all the control. That would just be unfair.

As for a sequel? Nah, probably not. I'd like to wash my hands of this. I could always pick up and write more, possibly titled "A Little More Unwell," but would that be beating a dead horse? In my mind, yes. It's best to leave the crowd after you've taken your bow, and I don't want to become repetitious or redundant, so I feel it's best to leave this fic as is and let it go out in a blaze of glory.

Now with all my talking up there, you may think I've forgotten about all my readers and reviewers. Well ha! I haven't! And to prove it to you…

Very special thanks to:

Fanfic-Lover, Xtreme Nuisance, MOP-TOP TIDUS, Saranomy, Angel1978, Dragon Tears Wing, Burning Ice, scorpion05, Ookami MX, DigiSim, lisa, Shy-Lil-Dreamer, Songstress Lenne, Baby Rose, Harmen, Elyang, Friday13th, ClaymoreMine, yeppers, tikku fan, Ling Ling, Princess of Mirrors, RikuBlader, The Jack of Spades, Vash the unholy, DeGonGin, Zeki, frost, dontbehatin, Neko Kuroban, ze love machina, Genjy0-Sanz0, violet-dream, AarCalen, angels kiss, Smirnoff Ice Lover, lulu, Kanmu, Dragon Scales1, shotgun, kingster0517, meaningless, Final Light Ceres, RS-021 ZAKUI, Noodles3, Sage of Hairspray and Vamp Queen

I'm sorry if I missed anyone, but it's 1 am, forgive me! You know I love and appreciate you too!