A sore in the corner of your lip, an accidental bite turned swollen and huge to your tongue, salty tangy mean, rub at it while walking, suck and restrain the need to bite, walking walking and wrapping cloth around the heel of your foot for fear of blisters. There's no sand in your eyes now; why are you crying?


Tying feathers in your hair help you go faster, that's what you say, that's what you cling to. Words can be like that, can't they? If you can watch her summon gods and holy, you can believe that the down in your braids keeps you


Something keeps you moving.


You cried for Keyakku when he died, because you forgot that you disliked him. He had asked you on a date once or twice, you had weakly refused, and now he's dead. Your brother cried when he flew you all away, stupid Aniki with no fear of that sort of shame, and you could barely muster the anger to hit Wakka.


Auron says to you, don't cry, because this is Yuna's story. If you seem weak, her resolve will weaken. Summoners hide their pain from the people, and Guardians must hide their pain from them.


You tell yourself later, on the trail to Gagazet, that you didn't hit him because you were too tired then, but it's too late to hit him now.


"This is my story," Tidus says. "This is my story," Yuna says. She is the Summoner, he is the hero, Auron is the one getting redemption, so why do the rest of you go?


You keep walking.


There will be parades when you get home, but Home is gone. The Al Bhed will still party, but what's the point to that? Tidus complains that there's no point in celebrating someone's death, and you tell him about the giddy-drunk celebration when your grandfather died a few years ago, and he isn't the only one to stare.


The Guado attack Home. "Why are we standing around sad?" Cid yells, most charismatic when in front of many faces, "They lived good lives, didn't they?"


Yuna lived a good life, didn't she?


You collect more feathers, tie them to your shoes and string them on your earrings, where they tickle-scratch your neck and you keep checking to make sure they're still there. You want to get there quick, quicker, quickest.


Choose your guardian, choose your fayth. Lulu is the first to step forward, then Wakka, then Kimahri. Tidus doesn't, but he would if someone asked, you think Auron might, too. You wouldn't, not ever, not for a whole box of wings.


So is it wrong to be the only one that wants to live more then anything else?


There was a boy you knew, who decided he wanted to be a hero and fight in the Crusaders. Don't go, you told him, and when he didn't change his mind for you you started yelling, Go, go, leave. You'll get killed, you'll get shot, I hope you do, I hope. You think of him a lot. No one's heard from him in months.


The hymn of the fayth doesn't mean God, it means War, it means Hate and Oppression and Never Giving Up. Do the Yevonites know that it's your race's favorite lullaby?


You think late at night that you'd like to become feathers and be blown away.


There might be another way, Yuna says. We can do this, Tidus says. Your story, Auron says. You and the others stay quiet; it isn't your story at all, but the joy is still nice to watch.


Sin looks beautiful perched on the steeple, and you almost believe in God.


Just a little more walking, right? Tidus has been quiet all day. You catch him walking away from Auron with red eyes, and Auron doesn't react as he watches him go.


Jecht is just like Tidus, but Tidus isn't really like Jecht. Is he the one we celebrated deaths for, you wonder, as the Blitzball stadium swirls round. You are dizzy and silent and a living witness to Auron and Tidus and Yuna's stories. Jecht dies with grace and boisterousness. Sin is suddenly a hero.


The fayth pick you, assign themselves to you and the others, the crackling one whispering behind you, raising the hairs of your arms with static. Don't be afraid, he says, you're invincible now.


Just for a minute, you are Sin and Sin is God and God is--


Auron dies.


You scrub at your eyes when Tidus goes too, but you don't think it's polite to cry when Yuna isn't. After all, she's the hero now.


Yuna whistles and you untie the feathers from your hair; you don't need to walk anymore.


Yuna keeps whistling. You bury the feathers, the potions, the targes, make two separate graves for them in the Oasis sand.


The boy is alive after all, obnoxious as ever, and he's forgotten by now that you had fought. He asks you on a date and you accept, have fun, he asks you on a second but you refuse because


Yuna is still waiting.


Feathers float in the sandy oasis water, ugly when wet and too heavy to fly away.