Journey's End
Chapter 20: A Minefield I Never Heard Of

"So, Rikku… do you have to do that stupid thing where they teach you how to breathe right and stuff that's all popular in Luca and Bevelle these days?" Tidus asked, chewing on his apple.

I glanced at him as I tossed some lettuce into the salad bowl, watching as Lulu chopped some meat to cook. "I don't have to." I shrugged, breaking a particularly large leaf into smaller pieces. "Why do you say it's stupid?"

"Well… breathing is breathing, right? I mean, it's not going to help you at all. It's just going to make you angry and annoyed. Right, Lu?" He glanced up at her as she scooped the meat into a bowl and began on the next piece.

She looked back up at him momentarily. "It might. Maybe the breathing is more helpful on a mental level, as a form of distraction? I don't think they're necessary, but those breathing classes are popular for a reason."

"I think it has something to do with bonding." I tossed the rest of the lettuce leaves in and started slicing some mushrooms. The sound of the ocean on the beach mingled with the muffled conversations and laughter from the center of the village. I breathed deeply – a form of distraction, as Lulu had said.

Tidus threw himself onto the couch, propping his head up with a pillow. "How will the baby bond with you while you're pushing it out? That makes absolutely no sense. Breathing is not bonding."

"No… for the parents. You know. Cuddling. Breathing. Being calm. Bonding." With a sigh, I chopped a large mushroom in half. Both of my friends looked at me curiously as the knife landed heavily upon the cutting board. "Luca's too far away, anyway. I think the classes are stupid, too, honestly…"

"Did you ever imagine we'd be here now? A few years back, during the pilgrimage? Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, we'd be sitting here? Surrounded by all of this? With all these… these problems that people shouldn't have to deal with?" I wrapped my coat a bit tighter around my body as a cool wind blew through the empty stadium. Yuna was quiet for a moment, but I didn't say anything more. She was going to answer me. She just needed to think about what to say.

I never imagined this. I never thought I would see Bevelle, let alone have friends who lived there and a private suite reserved in the palace that remained untouched save for my very intermittent use. I never thought I would know my cousin well enough to save her. Never thought she would be sitting here next to me, watching her boyfriend coach his very own blitzball team.

I never thought I would love so fully. I was Rikku - a spirited girl who was so defined by her own bubble of happiness that she didn't need to be attached. I never thought I could lose sight of who I was by loving somebody else. I never thought I could lose myself, because my self was so, so strong.

I never thought that I would get the chance to grow up, because I was going to die. That was Spira. Death came quickly, so you died passively, or you died fighting. And I wanted to be one of those that fought for something that I believed in. For one life to be as full as possible until that inevitable end came. For the life of a cousin. For the little pieces of my broken family that remained, a shattered truth which revealed my reality. In all my wildest dreams, I never thought that I would settle. My desire for a large family had been a dream that would never come true, a dream that enriched the tiny bit of life I had left. Time was limited. Happiness was limited.

Yuna turned toward me, her hair waving in the breeze. She just looked at me for awhile, silently appraising my expression with her strange eyes. "I never imagined," she whispered softly, finally breaking the relative silence. "But I dreamed. I yearned for it. For a life of my own." She shrugged. "I never let myself second-guess my decision to become a summoner, because a life of my own wasn't important. I knew that my father became a summoner so that I could have a life. So that I didn't end up like my mom, you know… so I could have the chance to grow up. And I couldn't waste that. I grew up, I saw the world. I saw that hundreds of children would have the chance to live if I died for them. I didn't know what we'd find along the way… I convinced myself that I was doing the right thing. And we did, all of us, but… every night when I went to sleep, I dreamt.

"I saw the life I might have had. Sometimes I was weaving linens back in Besaid. Sometimes I was traveling to see the world. Sometimes I had a family. After I met Tidus, I would dream about watching him play in a big stadium. And when he kissed me in Macalania, I would dream about our wedding and our babies. After I met you, I started dreaming more… extravagantly. I let the dreams go technicolor. I thought about them while I was awake. I'd dream about you and Uncle Cid and Brother finding a way to save me. I dreamt about what would happen if Sin just vanished the same way it always showed up - suddenly. And if it never came back."

She looked at me sharply, then. "I dreamt about having stupid problems, like wondering about what fruit stand to buy breakfast from or which cobbler could make me the best pair of shoes for the cheapest price. And I dreamt about having bigger problems, problems like yours. Problems that weren't about people dying all over the place when there was nothing you could do to stop it. Adena and you and Gippal… the whole situation is only hurting you. You and the people close to you. Not hundreds. You know?" She sighed, because it was probably clear on my face that I didn't see it that way. "I never imagined you and I would be sitting here, Rikku. I never imagined that I would get to rock your children to sleep. I never imagined that I would get the chance to see Tidus again. But I dreamt that I would. And everything worked out okay. You dreamt that you could save me, and everything worked out okay." She shook her head. "You're the one who taught me how to dream, Rikku. How to really dream, and how to want something for my own. And somewhere along the way you stopped dreaming. You lost that optimism that made you so different." A sigh. "I don't know how to help you dream again. You've got dreams for Telan and for the new baby, but those don't really count. And you've got dreams about what could have been, but what could have been will never be and you need to start realizing that."

I barely processed the tears streaming down my cheeks. I hadn't expected that my simple and somewhat bitter question would have an answer like this one. I hadn't expected the advice hidden within the analysis. "I know I lost it, Yuna, I know. I've just been trying so hard to keep from falling apart that I lost touch…"

"With yourself," she whispered calmly, shifting a sleeping Telan to her other shoulder so she could rest a hand upon my knee. Always comforting me. Always offering answers and explanations even when I didn't deserve them.

We were quiet as the sharp sound of Tidus' whistle echoed back to us from hundreds of different angles around the empty stadium. He turned to wave at us, and Yuna waved solemnly back, standing up to make her way down to the locker room.

"I'm going to get her out of the cold, okay?" she asked, watching me nod as I continued to let the tears roll down my cheeks.

"Thanks Yunie."

She nodded, walking a few steps toward the aisle before pausing. With a deep breath, she turned back to me and pinned her steady gaze upon my faltering one. "Listen, Rikku… I know you're having a rough time, what with the whole mess - you're surviving right now, I get that. Just trying to roll with the punches. When things got hard on the pilgrimage… when I let myself dream about the could-have-been's too much… I tried to find a way to turn it around. Yeah? A way to make sense of it. I was facing death, but I had the opportunity to save people. I got the opportunity to grow as a person because I cared enough about all those people to give myself away for them. I want you to try and think of this as an opportunity, okay? An opportunity. Not just an obstacle."

I bit my lip as I watched her walk away, carefully cradling Telan so that I could have some much needed time alone to think.

I was still sitting there when Tidus called an end to practice an hour later. The baby was kicking and I was getting queasy, and once he arrived the whole situation was so familiar that I thought I'd gone back in time. This time around, though, I wasn't curled up in a ball in some tiny private place on an island - this time he'd found me crying in an empty blitzball stadium with cold stone benches. In a place that somehow managed to make me feel more alone than I'd felt the first time around.

"Hey stranger," he said softly, kneeling in front of me like he had so often back on the island. "Yuna took Telly inside, right?"

I nodded and closed my eyes to stop the tears, turning my face into the light mist that was beginning to leak from the cloud cover.

His well-trained eyes watched me carefully for a few moments, and then he moved behind me on the bench, wrapping his arms around my shoulders. "Put your head back, Riks… the cold will help. Need me to rub your back?"

I shook my head no. "I'm okay."

"No, you're not, you're a nice shade of pale green. Relax, it'll stop… you know you always feel better when you're calm." He pressed his hand to my forehead, shaking his head before rubbing lightly. "You're clammy, missy. I should take you inside…"

"No, no, I'm fine. I want to stay out here a little longer. If you - well, if you don't mind." Because it felt almost normal like this, almost comfortable. And I knew when he squeezed my shoulders a bit tighter that I didn't have to explain why. He already knew.

"How often are you like this, Rikku? Honesty, please."

"Tidus, I-"

"Honesty. Now." But his voice was gentle.

I sighed heavily, breathing in the cold air to settle my stomach. "A lot in the beginning. It just started up again about a month ago. It's not as bad as it was with Telan, really, it's not."

He groaned, leaning his head onto my shoulder. "That's not saying much, Rikku, you were sick almost every day with her until you hit the seven month mark. And then a few weeks later you went into labor. Not good."

"Four times a week, tops. I'm better at handling it this time, it's not as violent. And I'm around six months now. Really, it's better this time."

He began to rub my shoulders anyway, wincing as he felt my tense shoulders. "And is Gippal helping you out?"

I hesitated. He was, of course. He'd relax with me at night and make sure Telan was tucked in before he came to bed. He'd talk to me about baby names and hold me close so he could feel the baby kicking as we slept. His spare moments were spent in drawing floor plans for the new nursery he wanted to add to the house. "Yeah, he just… he's usually at work when I get sick, and at night if I feel bad I just go to sleep."

"Is he still up at the hospital?" he asked softly, kindly.

I bit my lip, bracing myself for that little bit of jealousy that always showed its ugly face when he was with her. "Yeah… yeah, he's still there."

He reached down to my face, and it wasn't until he wiped a tear away that I realized I'd started crying again. "I think you should talk to me. We've got nowhere to be… just lots of empty time. And I'm all ears."

"And I'm just a big round mess that leaks around the edges," I whispered angrily, wiping furiously at my face.

He pulled my hands down very gently. "Leaky messes are the best kind."

Adena spoke to the doctors with a very strange directness, a mechanical quality. I watched her closely, studying her. I'd add in my own essentials when I felt like it was necessary. Mostly, the details I had to add were the humanistic ones. The ones that had nothing to do with machinery, form-signing, and timeframes.

I was more concerned with the baby. Supplying the clothes he or she would come home in, because I vaguely remembered Rikku being very concerned about that before she and Telan had been released from the hospital. Other details, like what would happen in the event that the delivery didn't go as planned. Discussing options like a cesarean birth versus a natural one. All the risky stuff I'd never known about with Rikku and Telan the first time around. All of the risky stuff that didn't even affect Adena as she continued to chat to the doctor about the inconsequential.

Only three weeks left, if she went the whole way. Only three weeks. That was the only time she grimaced, the only time she showed a little bit of emotion. A little look of regret that made me go a bit stone faced as well. But she kept on talking. And I continued to watch her, both fascinated and uncomfortable – I'd never really seen a human act like a machine before, and her attitude was intriguing at the very least.

"Nineteen. I'm just going to be nineteen!" I shook my head incredulously.

"I know. And that's why I'm telling you not to get pregnant again. Not until you've put a good six years between this one and your next attempt. Even then, only with the consultation of a physician and a lot of thought." The kind doctor looked out over the Luca Bay, shrugging. "You're only going to be nineteen. This is dangerous. You can't push yourself so hard. You're still young yourself, and you need to take the time to be young. Take the time to let your body adjust so that you don't kill yourself and rip apart your family in the process."

"I wasn't planning on this, you know that. And I've been stressed out about Gippal and the whole situation," I protested, slumping a bit in my chair.

"I know. But I want you to start thinking about making sure this doesn't happen again without being planned. I'm worried about your health, Rikku. You didn't come in enough for us to catch it last time, but after talking to that friend of yours, the midwife, and seeing you this time around… I don't want you to risk this again. This condition is very serious, Rikku." She sighed and ran her hands through her hair, tugging at her identification cards. "On a personal note, I cannot watch your father and loved ones fall to pieces again while I try my best to save your life and get nothing in return."

I looked away, feeling rather ashamed of my lack of planning. A little bit ashamed of a lot of things.

"The doctor said it's called pre-eclampsia," I groaned, burying my face in a pillow as Tidus and Yuna both looked at me with horribly stern expressions on their faces. "You know, one of those new-fangled terms for things." That didn't make them look any less scarily parental. "And she also said that because it's not as bad as it was last time, I'll know better if there's an emergency and I need to go in. I'm fine, okay?" A shabby attempt at convincing them that this was nothing to worry about.

"You should be at home. In bed. And I should be there bringing you soup and taking care of Telan for you. You should not be here. Okay? You should not be going to work and trying to handle all of this craziness by yourself. You should not be doing everything you're doing, Rikku!" Yuna hissed angrily, rubbing her forehead.

"She said to take it easy, that's all… I'm not on bed rest or anything."

"Yet!" Yuna cried out, glaring at me as she paced next to the bed. "You almost died last time, Rikku! And your daughter was born early. How can you knowingly risk yourself and your child again? And the rest of us? You know how terrified we all were!"

"Yunie, he finally asked me to come with him. Okay? He wanted me to be here today, for him. What was I supposed to do?"

"Sit at home in bed and knit!" Her voice was still frustrated, but her expression was a bit more understanding.

"I don't know how to knit," I said softly.

The three of us looked up as a familiar angry yell echoed through the large private apartment that Tidus and Yuna shared. I pushed myself up reflexively, but Yuna shoved me back down to the pillows. "No. You stay. I'll get her. There's a few jars of baby food in the diaper bag, right?" I nodded gratefully as Yuna trudged angrily down the hall to retrieve Telan from the playpen.

Tidus was quiet for awhile as the two of us stared at the ceiling, listening to Yuna's soft voice as she calmed Telan down and talked to her about her frustrating mother and the advantages of peas and carrots or squash flavored baby food.

He didn't turn to face me once he started asking questions. "So you haven't told Gippal about this?"

"Naw, I didn't want to freak him out. He's got enough to worry about as it is."

He raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Well… don't you think he'd rather be worried about his baby and his fiancée than be completely caught by the wayside if something happens?"

"Nothing's going to happen." I grinned facetiously as he turned to stare at me, but it faded quickly. He wasn't having any of that. "Well, that's the plan, anyway."

"Good plan. Except that you're not actually preparing for stuff that might go wrong, Riks."

I rolled my eyes at him and then closed them so I wouldn't have to see his bright blue glare. "Alright, Vydran. When did you take over Ti's body, hm?"


"I know, I know, I gotta tell him. I will. I'm just trying to adjust to it on my own first. Y'know?" I slowly opened one eye to test the proverbial waters, and I found concern in his eyes. Quickly shut my own again.

"What do you mean, adjust to it?" he asked softly, glancing at the open door as if he could see my hesitation. "Want me to shut the door?" he whispered, propping himself up. Trying to act all secretive as if this were a sleepover and we were telling secrets about the other kids. It helped, a smidge. I didn't even have to nod – he'd already sprung off the bed and quietly shut the door.

"Thanks… I hate when she gets all motherly on me. I can handle myself, obviously. I'm doing fine." I groaned into the pillow, trying not to think about just how tired I was and how all I wanted to do was sleep for a few hours.

Tidus messed absently with his blond spikes, glancing at me occasionally as he mulled over his next statement. "She's just worried, Riks. I am, too. I won't go all Cid-ish on you again, but… we've been here already." He flipped his hands at me, the physical embodiment of his loss for words.

"I know." I was quiet as I traced patterns on the bedspread, gathering my thoughts. "Remember… remember what I told you? In Guadosalam, during the pilgrimage?"

"About your mom?" he asked, his expression a bit confused.

"Kind of? I mean… she's part of the reason… but I'm talking about when I said I wanted a big family." I felt uncomfortable. I didn't want to say it out loud because that made it real.

"Okay, yes… remembering. So none of the kids would ever be alone, right? Like you were."

"Yeah." He had a good memory… but I'd known that, already. "I always thought I'd be here by now. Y'know, with kids and all that. I didn't see it this way, though…"

"Well, you can never predict reality, Riks. You can only hope it works out according to plan." His concerned look was more pronounced now.

"I know." I traced patterns again. "My birthday's next week. Nineteen. And my doctor… well…" He waited patiently as I tried to find the right way to say the words. "She pretty much said I'm an idiot if I have any more kids in the near future because these first two times through have been so screwed up." I shook my head as I bit my lip. "It's stupid of me to get upset, I know, I just… well, I never thought I'd live long enough to see it happen, so it was okay to dream. And then we beat Sin and it was possible and I let myself dream too much. So now I'm trying to adjust to something new." I shrugged. "And she said that this baby will probably be early, too… and that if I'm not really careful something might go really wrong. I'm worried about losing it. I haven't had the right mindset to get too excited about it, but I don't… I just wouldn't be able to handle myself if something-"

There was compassion in his bright blue eyes. "It's gonna be fine, Riks, okay? You're not going to lose your baby. You're gonna rest up, like the doctor and Yuna said to. You're gonna let us help. And I know you're proud and all that, but it's better for you and the new baby if you let us help, yeah?" He waited for me to nod before going on. "And regarding the big family thing… At least you've got two babies, yeah? And Gippal? I mean, you've got a family. You've got your dad and Brother, too, remember? And us. And when Yuna and I have kids you'll have nieces and nephews. And I know Wakka and Lulu aren't blood, but you've got Vidina, too."

I thought about it silently for a long moment before catching his gaze again. He was right, of course. Knew the right thing to say at the right time. "I guess maybe everyone gets their wish, right? Maybe just not in the way they expected?" He nodded, a small grin of encouragement on his face.

I had to force myself to put my thoughts into words. Had to force myself to stop staring at the ceiling and look at Tidus' face to see his reaction. "So maybe this whole situation with Adena and the baby is just… well, part of my wish? Extended family? I mean, I'll be in its life if I'm with Gippal, and I'll help raise it. So it's… this is all really good. It's not horrible. It's just not what we expected. Right?" And I thought Yuna might be proud of all my positive thinking if she'd been in the room to hear me.

Tidus was waiting for me outside as I walked down the empty streets toward his and Yuna's apartment. His breath made trails in the cold night air, and a strange expression was on his face. One that I wasn't familiar with at all.

"How was it?" he asked bluntly after taking a single glance at my face.



"It's like she doesn't care about anything. She spaced out the whole time. Kept asking if Rikku would be stopping by so they could talk. But why would Rikku stop in, it's not like they're friends anymore." He didn't react to that, and I hesitated before continuing. "One of the nurses asked if she'd picked a name yet and she admitted that she hasn't even looked. I know I was unsupportive at the beginning, but really? She doesn't even want to help me name the kid. What kind of mother does that?"

Tidus leaned his head to the side, watching as I kicked at the stairwell in frustration. "Not the kind that you're used to, that's for sure." He shrugged. "She'll warm up when she sees the baby." He didn't sound very confident about that.

"And if she doesn't?" I implored, glaring at the ground as if the offense belonged to it rather than to Adena.

He just shrugged again.

We were silent for a long moment, and true to my nature, I struggled to break the silence. "Hey Ti… why aren't you wearing a coat, man? It's freezing out here." I kicked at a rock that sat in the center of the otherwise pristine walkway.

"I… well, it just reminds me of home. Zanarkand was like this a lot. The cold doesn't bug me, much." His expression became a little more conflicted as he looked down at his hands and then motioned to the stairs. I took a seat across from him, not ready to go inside despite the freezing air. "I sort of like it here. It's the closest city to home… same climate and everything. Sometimes it would get so cold that the water would start to freeze around the bridge poles in the water. Crazy, all the details you can get from living in a dream…"

I watched as he stared out over the sparkling water of the bay, far down at the end of the walk. "Maybe instead of 'dream' you should call it a 'memory'. It was real, at one point. Maybe not while you knew it…"

He shrugged uncertainly, meeting my gaze. "Do you mind sitting out here with me for a while? I need to talk to you about Rikku."

The abrupt topic switch caught me off guard, and I felt my brows furrow together. "Sure… what about her?"

"I'm a little worried. Actually, I'm a lot worried. How much do you know about her pregnancy with Telan?" His eyes held mine, and it was like ice. It occurred to me that the term 'a lot' didn't really cover how worried he was, and that didn't help me to feel better in the least.

"She never really wanted to talk about it. Said that she was sick now and then, but that's about it. She's a small girl, I'm sure that didn't really help what with carrying to full term and all of that…" But I didn't continue because under Tidus' knowing gaze, I began to feel ignorant.

"It's kind of hard for me to talk about this. She's my best friend. Yuna thinks I'm stepping out of bounds in talking to you about all this, but I told her to shut it since she stepped out of bounds in telling you about Telan in the first place." And that explained his expression. "Anyway, when Rikku first came to Besaid, I thought that she was making herself sick. She was crying all the time, and listless. Always thinking about you… waiting, I think, for one of us to slip up and tell you what was going on, or for you to come find her.

"It took me two weeks to realize that it wasn't normal for her to be so sick. She was too skinny because she wasn't keeping anything down, and she was always holding onto her midsection like she was in pain. She was staying with me, by then, in the extra room I built for her. Yuna and Lulu were too obvious about their worrying, and she didn't want them to keep watching her. Lulu had me watch her, instead, and I was better about it. She was doing too much, as always. I found her in the bay one day, trying to salvage some vehicle she'd found in the deep water. I made her promise me she'd stop doing that… holding her breath for so long wasn't good for the baby. She was always climbing the old ruins by the dock, and I found her there more than once, sick and weak at the top, clutching her belly like something was wrong.

"She refused to go to the mainland to see a doctor. Lulu's the active midwife on Besaid, and she told her to rest and take it easy. And even when she took the advice, she was still sick every day, like clockwork. Every day for five months I'd wake up to the sound of her being ill in the restroom, and every night after dinner she'd get so dizzy that she had to lie down and go to sleep to make it stop." This fact alarmed me right away, and I could see that Tidus had been waiting for this sign of recognition.

"For the past month or so she's been getting really dizzy and tired in the evenings… I thought she was just tired from taking care of the baby all day."

Tidus continued talking. "Lulu put her on bed-rest for awhile, and then everything seemed to balance out. About three weeks before she went into labor she felt better. Energetic, and always hungry. Lulu calmed down, because this was finally normal. I was worried because she always seemed to have a fever and her color was a little off… she was having some headaches, which was new, and her joints were swelling. The old village women said it was normal, but I didn't think so, and I watched her more closely. She was having some vision issues. Nobody really thought anything of it, but I was worried.

"She started walking down to the beach every night, and it seemed to make her happy, so I let her. The night she went into labor, I noticed that she'd been gone too long. When I found her she was holding onto her stomach again, and all the way back the pains only got worse. Lulu was really confused, because she wasn't actually having contractions until very late. It was something else. And then after the birth, the coma… and when they came home, the indifference she had toward Telan… it was all very strange and unsettling, but then she went back to you and she was better.

"And then today I find her in the stadium with that all too familiar yellow-green tone in her skin, sick as a dog and fighting it as usual, dizzy, clammy, and seeing spots. We brought her and the baby back here and made her lie down. She had a headache, and she was exhausted. She still has a fever. She told us about her doctor's visit the other day, and I'll let her talk to you about some of the stuff when she's ready, but… well, here's the overstepping bit. I called her doctor to get the whole story earlier, because I know her too well and I know she wouldn't let us know how bad it really is so we wouldn't worry. She hasn't told you at all, judging by the look on your face."

I tried to cut in, but his icy eyes silenced me. "Man, I know you're already stressed enough as it is, and she doesn't want to make it worse, but this is serious. And I'm sorry that I interfered or whatever, but… bluntly speaking, I was there for the first time and I know what to look for. With Telan, she had a full blown case of this syndrome called pre-eclampsia, and she had all of the symptoms. She didn't get diagnosed because she was too stubborn to see the doctor often enough for them to catch it. Everything - the headaches, the sickness, not gaining enough weight, high stress levels and blood pressure, vision problems… it all connects to this thing she's got. Sometimes, when it's really bad, the blood can even turn toxic, which is why her coloring was off at the end of the last pregnancy. The problems during the birth, and everything that happened afterwards… it was all because of this. Even the post-partum issues with the baby… all this. And she's got it again. Not as severe, currently, but bad enough because she has all the symptoms again."

"She hasn't told me anything about this… I thought it was all normal, I mean… why would she not tell me?"

"She's got a problem telling you these things, obviously." I knew he was right to tell me all this out here, away from her, where the heat of my anger would warm me instead of burning her. "Gippal, I know you're mad, but I thought it would be best for you to know. She and Telan could have easily died. She almost did, already. I can't lose her… neither can you." I nodded in agreement, pinching the bridge of my nose and kicking the stray rock all the way down the long street.

Tidus stood up and his eyes melted a little bit. He clapped me on the back in understanding. I heard a cry from upstairs, and looked up to see Yuna's silhouette in the window, Telan squirming in her arms. My love for the little girl grew immensely in that moment, as I realized how easily I could have lost her when I didn't even know I'd had her. How easily both of them could have been gone, forever. How easily Rikku could still go, and how stupid I'd been to not notice the signs. "No more babies," I whispered heavily, shaking my head, angry at myself.

Tidus sighed. "Yeah, the doctor thinks that's a wise thought, but… Rikku's pretty torn up about that, that's why she hasn't talked to you, yet." He shrugged and glanced up at the window. I shivered in spite of my heavy coat. "Listen, Gippal… you guys should stay here for the next few weeks, until your baby with Adena comes. You'll be on call when it happens, and while you're at work, me and Yuna can be here to keep an eye on the situation with Rikku. And we'll come help you both as soon as you go back to Djose. Two babies and a stressed out, sick pregnant woman will be too much for you to handle on your own."

"Adena will be there to help," I murmured absently, staring up at the warm glow of the apartment windows. "We won't be handling two kids by ourselves."

Tidus led the way toward the door, silent. But his knowing gaze was back.

Much thanks to Jen, without whom this chapter, and probably this whole story, would never have been completed. Thanks to all the readers who have stuck with me through the process. More to come.