"dedicated" to kj8673, which is really to say that this story is entirely her fault, since she's the one who dared me to write it. "i dare you. i so dare you," she said, so i wrote it. rikku/yunalesca. AU.)

thicker than water

The others had tried one by one to persuade the Summoner, voicing their arguments in turn. The Ronso was loyal. The Blitzer strong and the Mage powerful. The boy a Faythling, the man an Unsent, and they alone reminded silent. The Al Bhed had stepped forward last of all and tilted her head and shrugged her shoulders and held out her arms, palms up. "Yeah, but I'm blood-related," she had said, sounding contrary.

"You're fifteen," the Mage said.

"You can't," the Faythling added.

"You won't," the Blitzer said, narrowing his eyes.

"If one of us has to do it, might as well be me," the Al Bhed replied stubbornly, a set jaw awkward on her round face. "You heard that person—there has to be a close bond. What's thicker than blood?"

"No," the Summoner said quietly. "I will not allow it."

"If an Al Bhed defeats Sin as an Aeon," the girl replied, "there's no way Yevon can turn us away."

"If an Al Bhed defeats Sin," the Unsent said, "then an Al Bhed will be Sin. You'd be giving them more of an excuse."

"I'm going to do it," the Al Bhed said, looking at the Summoner. The pause stretched forever. The Summoner closed her eyes before nodding.

She dreams while she changes. She changes while she dreams. She moves and morphs and shrinks and grows, twists in on herself and rips herself to shreds. The Summoner wills her and calls her and forms her, but until the moment that she is Summoned, she will not exist. She is the drop of oil in a beaker of water, spreading and reflecting and impossible to touch.

Dark oil, smooth and slick and cool on her skin. She will be a waterbeast when she is born.

never an al bhed before, Yunalesca whispers, voice smearing in the watery air. such strange forms.

If Sin is the bringer of death, Yunalesca is the bringer of Sin. She is Sin, they are Sin, both of them because the silvery woman is creating her and winding her and preparing her for her life. Silver fingers creep up the skin of her arms, sewing and spooling and cool like the moon.

(the summoner travels to the calm lands, the faythling can't change her mind now, he's lost his battle and won't ever die)

what are you? she asks.

Yunalesca designs her a collarbone, snaps her ribs together one by one, kissing each pearly bone as it appears and biting gently the skin that blossoms over. i am hope's gift.

and i am? She doesn't earn an answer. Fayth are all human and Summons never are, so her new body must be both at once. A dragon curls heavy in her stomach, coils around her arms and legs, sharp blue and green and slick with water. Chemicals are all she breathes, wrapping around her lungs. Helium and Neon, sticky bright. Yunalesca greens her eyes and wraps her arms around her back so that she is cradled, heart humming like an engine. Yunalesca gives her lips and kisses them hard, bites and licks and sucks until they work. you are the death your loved ones fear.

Her arms shine with rainbow scales that glint in the clear water, that reflect the blinding neon so she stretches them straight about her head, flashing. Yuanlesca does not glint like she does, her silver hair muted like iron as she bends to form, to test, her torso. Scratches and bites and a trail of tongue, polishing until she shines like chrome.

She bleeds oxygen.

(the summoner spends an odd minute fussing about location, her uncertainty showing for just that moment, before choosing the cliff's edge, the pinacle, the corner with skies in every direction but one. her guardians clear away, but the faythling lingers, he can't help it)

are you born? Her chrome has turned to gold, her gold is flashing blue, Yunalesca is forming her legs, lapping as she builds her swimming kicking legs. She coils and uncoils and drowns, each oxygen bubble just a little too far away. She gasps and stretches her arms up towards the surface. The helium burns her throat, the neon blinds her eyes.

have you made me? she gasps, and scratches at her own throat, unable to breathe or live or think for all the alchemy. Gils burst bloody from her, the blood silvery green, and as the whiteness in her mind becomes her Aeon, her dragonthing, her waterbeast, her

(sin appears as destined, and waits for the summoner to cry for her final fayth. the faythling watches and thinks desperately that he'd have liked to kiss her before now, goodbye goodluck goodjob, but the moment has passed and the summoner begins her spell)

and it starts to rain

(and the summoner strains and revels for the last time in the mere act of breathing and stretching and heartbeats)

and she is wet

(and the water fills the canyons)

and Yunalesca kisses her one last time

(andsomething moves in the water, something green and bedecked in silver wires, scales that shine like chrome and the waters of besaid, a fayth adorned in emerald scales drawn cruelly into spirals)

and she is born

(and she dies)

and Yunalesca names her Leviathan.