March 2004

No matter what loneliness comes,

No matter what pain you feel,

You mustn't close your eyes to it.

Because even if you lose all your

Words, even if you say it doesn't matter,

If you stumble,

It will be there to help you up.

That's what kind of thing it is.

In a nonexistent place,

I stand as I am.

Please be yourself.

I want you to be that way forever.

Surreal; Ayumi Hamasaki


She was beautiful, lying there in the early morning sunlight. Her mismatched eyes had finally closed; she was smiling gently, serenely, beautifully. Her wispy brown hair fanned around her head, a soft crown adorning her.

Tidus traced the subtle curve of her cheek, his fingers running lightly over her silky skin. He so wished she would just wake already, that she would open those gorgeous eyes of hers and smile sleepily at him.

Impatient, Tidus rose from his stool beside her bed and began to pace the room. He could hear Wakka outside the door, talking to what Tidus assumed to be Lulu. Their voices were low, muted by the door. He wondered what they were talking about. He thought he caught his own name; but he turned his attention to Yuna again.

"Wake up, Yuna," he said, sitting on the bed. He laced his fingers through her own. "You have to see the sky today. It's so blue, not a cloud in the sky. Perfect day for a new baby, you think?"

She didn't answer. Well, she'd never been a light sleeper. When Yuna slept, she could sleep through any attack of Sin's.

"I remember when you told me you were pregnant," he said softly, turning her hand over and tracing the lines of her palm. "You were standing there, on the porch, wearing that new white dress you got in Kilika."


The sun had been shining just as brightly that day. I remembered that; and Yuna stood on the porch, waving to me. Wakka and I coached the Junior Aurochs: the kids on the island who wanted to play blitzball, but were too young to play with any sort of team. It was good for Wakka, and his son. The three of us came up the beach that day, the sun on our backs, exhausted.

Wakka's son was four. Chappu is his name. Of course it is, in honour of Wakka's dead brother. Wakka took Chappu and swung him up atop his shoulders.

"I can see the whole island from here!" Chappu squealed, squeezing his father's head. I shook my head.

"Yeah, right," I said. "Wakka's too small for that."


We looked up; Wakka's large fist had frozen just above my head. Yuna stood there, jumping up and down and beaming.

"You got lucky, ya?" Wakka said, rolling his eyes.

"Sure, Wakka," I said, grinning at him and running toward Yuna.

"See ya later!" Wakka waved; he carried Chappu off toward the village. Yuna came hurrying toward me.

"Hi," I said; she was startlingly happy to see me. Not that she wasn't always, I don't mean that. It's just that ... this time was … different, I guess. "What's up?"

"Oh, Tidus," she sighed, sliding her slender arms around me. "It's …" she looked up at me; I was a little alarmed to see her crying.

"Yuna, is everything alright?" I remember gripping her shoulders, terrified that something had happened, that something was wrong with her.

"Everything's fine. We're going to have a baby."

She said it just like that—crystal clear tears streaming gently over her cheeks, her eyes glowing ecstatically, a soft smile on her lips—perfectly blunt.

"A … a baby?" I wasn't sure how to react at first. A baby? A father? Me?

A baby.

We were going to be parents. Together. A union of us, living, breathing. Inside her. Something we created … together.

I remember laughing, picking her up and spinning around. She laughed, too, spreading her arms as though they were wings, and she was an angel. She is an angel; I think I was crying, too. Or maybe it was her own tears, falling onto me. I'm not sure, anymore.

But the sun was bright and I thought my heart would burst. I was so happy that day. Scared shitless, but happy. Content.

And so it began. She didn't want to tell anyone at first. Women did have miscarriages, after all. She didn't want to disappoint anyone. No matter how much changed in our lives, Yuna would still be the Yuna I first knew. She always wanted to make everyone happy. So, the first two months were in secret. She was nervous; I could tell and I tried to comfort her.

"Yuna," I said, coming upon her sitting on the floor of our small bedroom. Her small hands were pressed against her still perfectly flat stomach. She wasn't showing, not yet. She glanced up at me, biting her lip.

"I thought …"

"You're imagining. Rikku and Lulu are taking you out for dinner tonight, remember? You should be getting ready, not worrying," I told her.

She'd laid two dresses on the bed, one lavender and one black. They looked exactly the same to me; I picked up the lavender one.

"Here," I said, handing it to her. She looked up at me. "Don't stress, Yuna. Go out and have fun."

"Are you going to be alright here?" she asked, taking my hand instead of the dress offered. I shrugged, pulling her to her feet.

"I'll find something to entertain me," I said. "Wakka and Gippal are bound to drift over here at some point."

"I'm sure they are." She stretched up to kiss me; I held her to me for a moment.

"The baby'll be fine. Look who's its got for parents," I told her. She giggled against my chest.

Month two was when things got … weird. She just kept eating. She was always eating. And the kitchen was always empty. On top of that, she started eating the grossest things.

She'd take fish from the village and stuff it full of peanut butter, or something like that. Well, she'd cook it first; she hadn't gotten that bad. But, yeah, I think you get the idea. It was impossible to eat with her, or eat around her. I think she even slept in the kitchen some nights, she was there so often.

I wasn't sure what to say to her, exactly.

"Oh, jeez, honey, we're out of food again."

Yeah. That would have gone over real well.

Month number three:

Oh, boy.

Pregnant women have serious mood swings.

Just thought I'd warn the rest of you poor fools who decide to knock up their wives. Wakka sure forgot to.

Thanks, buddy.

Yuna would be perfectly fine, singing through the house, impossibly cheerful. And then she'd find a dish in the just emptied sink and fly off the handle. Over a goddamned dish. A spoon. A mug. It didn't fucking matter. It would be just a water glass and she'd blow up at me, when it was her damn plate in the first place.

Or she'd just start crying; we could be out in the village she'd look at the children playing with a dog and she'd start sobbing. And everyone would glare at me, as if it were my fault.

Hey, she's the pregnant one, not me.

Oh, but I can't use that one, can I? Not yet.

"Tidus, this dress doesn't fit me anymore!"

Well, duh. You're pregnant. That's what happens.

And then she'd burst into hysterical tears, because the dress was a little too tight on her stomach.

"We can't go with Wakka and Lulu now!" she would cry, sinking to her knees. She was only showing a little bit; not enough to really take any notice of. Her dress didn't fit her right at the stomach anymore and it was this that made her freak. It was the black dress I'd rejected two months ago; I thought it looked breathtakingly sexy on her now.

"Honey," I said, kneeling beside her, "Yuna, sweetie, it's fine. You're just overreacting, really—''

"Oh, am I?" she spat, climbing to her feet. "Well, excuse me." She shot a nasty glare at me before stalking out of the room.


"I'm sorry," she always said later, curling up beside me as we lay in our bed, enveloped in darkness.

"It's alright. I shouldn't have—''

"It's not your fault. I was overreacting. I always overreact these days." I heard her sniff and begin to cry softly.

Oh, fuck.

But I took her into my arms, holding her and kissing her tears away, making her smile again.

I hated fighting with her. Those months were the only time we ever did and I hated it. I couldn't stand her looking at me in any angry sort of way. I hated watching her cry, even though I knew it was only the pregnancy; neither of us could do anything about it; it was neither of our faults. But I hated feeling helpless, watching her suffer through it all. I couldn't help her. I could comfort her, but that was all I could do. It wasn't enough, to me.

Month number four:

She told everyone.

I couldn't walk down to the store without being assaulted. Men slapping me on the back – or on the butt in the case of one Auroch and I do not want to go there. Ever. – or hugged by women, or eyed jealously by men and women alike. Paine wrote a letter – she was up in Mushroom Rock with Nooj, helping out with the Youth League, or so she says – congratulating Yuna and I.

Lulu knew. Of course she did; that woman knows so much sometimes it scares me.

I don't know Gippal that well; he's still located up in Djose with the Machine Faction. I think he and Rikku have a little something going on, but no one tells me anything.

Like Wakka.

But he came down to Besaid, just to see Yuna – and probably Rikku; she was in town at the time, and staying with Wakka, Lulu, and Chappu. He's more in love with himself than Rikku, but he's not too bad, really.

So, everyone in Spira knows now. At some point, I think there'll be a damn crowd gathered outside our house to cheer us on.

Month number five:

She's showing. Oh, man; every damn day she's buying new clothes to fit her. Nothing fits, nothing looks right, blah blah blah, Yuna. So your little sexy gunner shorts don't fit right now. It'll be fine, it's not the end of the world. They will, eventually. Don't freak.


Of course, I go with her on these daily expeditions.

"Tidus," she always asks, "does this make me look fat?"

Yuna, you're pregnant. What do you think?

"You're beautiful, honey," I tell her; she's still prone to burst into tears or run off in a fit at any moment. But she always does end up crying, because I tell her she's still beautiful.

Well, of course she's beautiful; she's always been beautiful. Nothing's ever going to change that. Why do I have to keep telling her that?

Month six:

My sex life is over.

Month seven:

She was lying beside me, sleeping. She hadn't been sleeping so well by that time; she couldn't turn onto her stomach anymore. She'd gotten huge, too; her stomach was protruding beside me.

But she was sleeping and I was watching over her. She was gorgeous, lying there in the moonlight with our child inside her.

I ran my hand over her stomach; I swear I felt something kick.

"Hey in there," I said quietly, "You keep it down. Your mother's finally sleeping. I love you, kid, but Yuna needs her sleep."

My hand was still resting lightly on her; no kick came.

"Yeah, that's it," I said, resting my head against Yuna. "I can hear you, you know. You're all right. I … well, I didn't have the best dad in the world growing up, but I swear to be the best for you. I'm not gonna let you down, kid. I can't. I love your mom too much to disappoint either of you. I promise."

When I lifted my head, Yuna was watching me quietly; her brilliant eyes reflected the tender moonlight and her own tears.

"I promise," I repeated to her.

"I love you," she said; I kissed her in reply.

That child, our child, was what we'd created, what our love for one another produced. I was terrified of what sort of father I would be; but Yuna was there; she would always be there to help me and tell me when I was going all right. We were each other's support, each other's lifeline.

Month eight:

I don't know what she thinks she's doing.

"Yuna, you can't just go wandering all over Spira just for –''

"It's not all over Spira, it's just down the street to visit Lulu." Yuna smiled reassuringly at me, kissing the corner of my mouth. "You can come with me."

"Okay. But just—''

"We'll be fine."

What's wrong with me? I can't stop worrying, thinking something could do wrong. She could still lose the baby, it's entirely possible. She could fall getting out of bed in the morning, or hit her stomach in some funny way. And what if some psycho freak that's still in love with the idea of Yevon, or Seymour, or some other schitso moron bent on taking over the world attacks her for destroying that dream? What if, what if? I can't stop thinking of all the possibilities. We're so close and there's so much that could happen. A random blitzball, that damn dog … it's driving me insane.

Yuna understands. I think. She says she does; of course I believe her. I love her.

"You're imagining, honey. There's nothing to worry about," she tells me.

But, still …

Month number nine:

Oh, fuck. She could go into labour at any moment. Everyone's here. Well, Gippal and Rikku mysteriously vanished about an hour ago; Paine just got in with Nooj and there's Baralai, over with Wakka.

And I can't stop ­pacing. Yuna keeps telling me to sit down, I'll wear myself out.

"Tidus, please."

Well, I sit beside her and she rests her head on my shoulder.

And suddenly, we're in our bedroom, with Nuchu – the local healer, since Yuna can't do it herself. Well, of course not, you idiot – and a bunch of his little blonde assistants. Yuna's squeezing my hand so tightly, I think she must be crushing it.


"Everything's fine, Yuna, you're doing great. I'm right here," I tell her.


"What?" I snap, turning to one of the blonde nurses.

"Sir, we need you to leave right away."

"Oh, no," I say, turning back to Yuna, to my wife; but her eyes are squeezed shut and she's breathing heavily, sweating hard.

"Get him out of here!" Nuchu orders from his position between my wife's legs. His face is tense, set.



I'm led away from Yuna; she begins screaming as soon as the curtain falls behind me. Terrible screams. I hate hearing her that way; it makes me sick and want to scream myself. I've never heard anything like that come out of her before and I don't ever want to hear it again.

"She needs me."

I try to turn around, try to get back to her.

"That's my fucking wife!" I scream; Wakka's holding me back, holding me away from the curtain and Yuna.

"Calm down, kid, ya?" he says; but his voice is shaking.

"I can't fucking calm down."

She keeps screaming, oh God, why doesn't she stop? Why doesn't someone help her? Why can't I help her?

Lulu is standing there, her hands twisted together; Rikku's head is resting on Paine's shoulder, who's eyes are shut tight. Gippal, Baralai, and Nooj have all let the room, I see. And Wakka is still holding my arms, holding me away from my Yuna.

I hate him.

I hate them all. Why the fuck won't you help her, guys? Why don't you do something, besides just standing there, trying not to hear her? I can hear her; I want to help her.


It's quiet now; Gippal, Nooj, and Baralai are back in the room; Gippal's arm is around Rikku's shoulders and she's leaning against him now. I think she's fallen asleep. Wakka shakes me a little.

"Sir, congratulations." Nuchu is there, looking flushed. "You're the father of a beautiful baby girl—''


Beautiful baby girl … my baby girl …


Yuna … where's Yuna? I can't hear her anymore … is she sleeping? What's going on? Why isn't he smiling? Where'd Paine go? Why the fuck does everyone keep disappearing? I want to see Yuna, I want to see my wife. Where's my daughter? Where's my damn kid? Where are they? Why is Wakka leading me away? Why is Rikku crying? And where's Nooj get to now? Can't he stay in one place for five fucking minutes? I want to see Yuna! Yuna! Yuna!


"I held her," Tidus said, stroking Yuna's pale cheek. "She looks just like you."

Birds chirped just outside the window; a breeze filtered into the room, blowing at Yuna's wispy locks. Their daughter was outside, being cleaned up by Nuchu's nurses.

"She was crying when they brought her out to me," Tidus continued, smiling gently, "I was waiting with Wakka and they brought her out, all wrapped up in white blankets. She stopped crying once she was in my arms. We have a beautiful daughter, Yuna. What should we name her? We never talked about names, you know."

Wakka entered, looking strangely pale under his tan. Tidus put a finger to his lips.

"She's sleeping," he whispered. "Don't wake her."

"I, um, won't," Wakka replied, glancing at Yuna and rubbing the back of his neck.

"Good. She hasn't gotten much sleep lately." Tidus turned to the young woman, her hands laced over her stomach.

"C'mon now, man." Wakka's large hands rested on Tidus's shoulders. He pulled the young man to his feet.

"Why?" Tidus's cobalt blue eyes locked with Wakka's, full of confusion and hurt. "Please, don't make me leave her."

"Tidus – look, you've gotta go now. Everyone wants to see you, ya?"

"Why me? Why don't they want to see Yuna?" Tidus challenged, trying to pull away. Wakka's hold on him tightened. "You're going to wake her up!"

Wakka's eyes closed.

"She's ... She's not—''

"You're the father of a beautiful baby girl.

"But …"

"Sir, but you're wife's lost a lot of blood. There's nothing we can do for her. We couldn't help her. I'm sorry, sir … but we lost her."

"Please, sir, if you would hold your daughter … it's important that she be held by a parent."

"She's not gonna wake up."

Wakka's voice was low; Tidus suddenly couldn't breathe. His knees were weak, rubbery; he couldn't stand, couldn't see straight, couldn't see anything.

"I killed her."

Wakka's large fingers dug into the boy's shoulders; his bright eyes flew open.

"Don't you say that, ya? You didn't do nothin'," Wakka said firmly.

"It's my fault. I got her pregnant—''

"It ain't nobody's fault. These things just happen sometimes." Wakka shook Tidus hard; Tidus blinked, letting his head hang limply.


They left the room, left the eternally sleeping Yuna lying on their bed, her fingers still laced together, her beautiful face caught in the morning light.

"Is he all right?" Lulu whispered, watching the pallid young man walk out to the centre of the room.

"He'll get there," Wakka sighed, hugging her with one arm.

"Why didn't you do anything?"

They all looked round at Tidus.

He was standing in the middle of the room, his hands curled into fists, his pale, messy hair sticking up wildly; cobalt eyes burned glaringly at Baralai, at Wakka, Rikku, Paine, Nooj, Lulu, Gippal. Nuchu had long departed, leaving a couple nurses behind. Convenient.

"Why didn't you help her?" Tidus demanded, his voice low, quietly dangerous.

"Don't you think we tried?" Baralai stepped forward, his hands out, palms up, pleading.

"You're a fucking praetor!" Tidus shouted and launched himself at the unsuspecting Baralai. "Why didn't you stop me from murdering her!"

"Tidus, stop it!" Wakka seized him around the waist; the boy flailed, still trying to get at Baralai; the young praetor skittered backward, unharmed.

"It's no one's fault, ya hear? She's dead, it's hard to hear for all of us. But we couldn't do nothing. Now listen, you got a baby who needs her daddy, who needs someone to love her like only you can, like only you will."

"I can't do it alone," Tidus whispered, sliding limply to the floor. "I wasn't supposed to …"

"What the hell you think we're doin' here?" Wakka retorted, stooping down beside the young man. "You still got us."

Tidus stared at the floor; he felt tears overwhelm him and spill down his cheeks. Rikku knelt, touching his shoulder hesitantly at first. Tidus shook and trembled and cried harder than he ever had in his life; Lulu joined Rikku and took him into her arms, rocking him tenderly. The others gathered, one by one, even Baralai; the sun was shining brightly, the sound of gentle waves reaching their ears; children's laughter and a dog's bark. And in the next room, in the arms of a plump nurse, a sleepy newborn baby began to cry for her daddy.