Disclaimer: I do not own any characters featured in this story. They all belong to the inventive Square Enix.

Part III: Chapter Eight

It was finally time to confront Sin.

I would like to explain what I was feeling or thinking during that time, but to be honest I can't really remember. All I remember was feeling very patient and composed. A bit like the calm before a storm. Or the eye of a hurricane. Just cool, calm and collected.

It scared my friends.

"Why don't you look more… concerned?" Rikku pestered me, tugging on my arm.

I shrugged. "I am concerned. Very concerned. Really."

"Could've fooled me," Gatta muttered.

I pretended not to hear his comment and turned to Cid, who was watching me with a speculative look.

"Well, this is it, eh?" he remarked, scratching his cheek in an eerily similar way that Rikku did whenever she was thinking hard about something.

I nodded. "Yu Yevon is hiding somewhere inside Sin, and we're gonna find him."

"Well, that sounds pretty simple."

I smirked. "Hey! Simple is the way you like it, right?"

Cid returned my smirk. "You got that right."

"Pops! I'm countin' on you!" Rikku chimed in.

"Right, got you covered!" The Al Bhed leader turned and flicked a switch that started broadcasting the Hymn of the Fayth from the ship's speakers. "How's that?"

Rikku squealed. "Oh, right on!"

We all listened to it for awhile, soothed by the serene melody.

"A singing ship in the sky," Lulu murmured in wonder.

"I hope everyone got the message," Wakka added with concern.

Brother suddenly stood up from his station and pointed ahead. "Sin!"

We all looked ahead through the screen and, sure enough, Sin was making its way towards us.

He had heard the Hymn.

"All right, we're going in," I announced, cracking my knuckles.

"How we gonna get inside?" Wakka asked.

I gave him a look like it was obvious. "The easy way! How else?"

Rikku snorted. "Figures."

"Well? Let's go!" Lulu said impatiently, running (and bouncing) her way to the door.

Everyone dashed off after her and I was about to follow too when Cid called out to me.

"Hey, how you plan on getting inside?" he asked.

I paused and gave him a thoughtful look. "If we can't get through the mouth, we'll rip open a new one. You with me?"

He cackled. "Now that's what I call a plan!"

"Father! I know what to use!" Brother called in Al Bhed from the controls.

Cid looked over to what his son was talking about and then began to grin madly. "Aha! Of course!"

He turned back around to face me. "All right! We'll give that thing a new blowhole. All you gotta do is jump!"


"I won't tell ya to be careful. Instead, do your worst, kiddo!" Cid ordered, nodding to me.

I grinned. "Roger!"

"Wait!" Brother suddenly called out, straightening up and turning to face me. I looked at him curiously and then in surprise when he cleared his throat and spoke haltingly, "Rikku, you… guard."

I smirked and gave him a two-fingered salute. "Will do!"

We all gathered on the outer hull of the airship; each trying not to get blown down by the harsh wind.

"I can hear the song!" Rikku said in excitement, trying to hop up and down and not fly off the ship at the same time.

Lulu nodded next to her. "Yes, I can hear the Hymn, too."

"They actually listened to us," Gatta murmured in wonder.

I nodded. "And we won't let them down."

"Hey, guys? Guys?" Wakka called, staring straight ahead. "That's not good, ya?"

We all looked to see what he was talking about and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw Sin suddenly floating there. It let out a shockwave that sent us all to our knees and didn't allow us to get back up. We could all only watch as Sin created a sphere of energy that started sucking everything in. Then it released a discharge of energy that drove a huge tunnel through the ocean and land.

Silence reigned as we all got up and looked around, dazed and confused. It was Rikku who finally noticed what we had all missed.

"Huh? Hmm? WHOA!" she yelled.

We all looked to see what she was talking about, and saw just in time as all that power Sin had gathered up suddenly explodes outward; nearly catching us in the explosion. We all hit the ground again as the ship was rocked by the power.

"Damn you, old man…" I muttered once it was calm (again), picking myself up only to find Sin nose to nose with ship. Again.

"Hey, I saw somethin' shine on the base of Sin's arm! I reckon it's a weak spot!" Cid said over the ship's intercom.

"Shoot!" Brother's voice also echoed over the intercom.

"What, what?" Cid asked in Al Bhed.

"We are pulled by Sin!" Brother replied in the same language.

I cursed violently and Rikku gasped.

"Sin's pulling us in!" she translated for the others when they asked what was wrong.

"Everyone, back inside!" Cid ordered.

"Too late! It comes!" Brother cried.

Thus began to epic fight against the armpits of Sin.

Our first fight against Sin armpits went pretty much like this:

Us: Attack!

Sin: Roar!

Us: Yeah! We took out the armpit!

Cid: Shoots off arm.

Us: Onto the next arm!

And that's how it went down. After we took out Sin's arms we ran into some technical difficulties though.

"Yeehaw! Where next?" Cid cheered over the intercom.

"It is over!" Brother's mournful voice disagreed in Al Bhed.

"What? We have only begun!" Cid yelled.

"But the main gun, it is broken!" Brother explained.

"Th-That cannot be!" Cid cursed.

Rikku groaned while I translated for the others, "The main gun is busted."

"Dang it! All right, back inside! Time for another plan!" Cid ordered us once he was done cursing.

I quickly shot down that idea. "No! We're going in! Every blitzer knows: when you got the ball, you gotta score!"

The others stared at me and then at each other, unsure and a bit hesitant. Finally Auron chuckled and shook his head while giving me a fond look.

"Foolhardy… But a fun plan," he said before turning around and running to the front of the ship and jumped off.

"Hey! Star players first!" I squawked, running after him.

I didn't have to look to know that the others had followed after us.

After that we found ourselves fighting with this weird stuff on Sin's head… or in its mouth. Whatever. It was kind of hard to tell. There wasn't exactly a chart explaining the anatomy of Sin available.

It wasn't a very hard battle. Compared to the others we had faced, it was actually pretty easy. The only big challenge was jumping off of Sin and back onto the airship. That's not very easy when Sin is making a nosedive to the ground and the ship is struggling just to catch up.

But somehow we all managed to safely get onto the airship just before Sin plowed into the outskirts of Bevelle; creating a spectacle of dust and smoke. We all watched it and released a collective sigh of relief when Sin didn't get back up.

With Sin down (for the moment) we retreated to the bridge of the airship to plan our next move. There, Cid and Brother were waiting for us with big grins.

"Rikku, excellent!" Brother cheered in Al Bhed.

"But it's going to come back, isn't it?" Yuna asked me softly but everyone heard her.

I nodded. "Yeah, it is. And it will keep coming back until we beat the guy inside of Sin."

Rikku groaned slightly while Gatta wrinkled his nose in distaste.

Wakka chuckled slightly at their reactions. "The Crusaders would be out of a job if it was this easy, ya?"

"But it has weakened. I'm sure of it," Lulu pointed out.

"So we're winning?" Gatta asked.

I nodded. "Yeah. We're ahead right now."

"All right then; I'll do what I can with the main gun. The rest of you take a break for now. You've earned it," Cid ordered before turning to leave and work on repairs.

We didn't try to argue. It was true after all. We really did need a break to heal, rest, gather some more supplies, and fix our weapons and/or armors.

I spent the break sitting down next to Kimahri in the bridge talking to the Magus Sisters. They were the last aeons I had gotten so I didn't really have the time to forge a bond with them like I had with the others. However that didn't mean I couldn't at least try and make some sort of connection with them.

Sandy, Cindy, Mindy, I called to them. You guys got a minute?

For you, sugar, of course, Cindy purred as she and her companions turned their attention to me.

Is there something you need? Sandy asked with a more serious tone.

Nah. Just want to talk to you guys a bit. You know, get to know you all a little better before we all croak.

Talk? About what? Sandy asked with a bit of suspicion.

How about your pasts? Or why you guys became a fayth?

We became a fayth after our village was destroyed in order to avenge our lost families and friends, and as a way to never lose one another, Mindy answered quietly, surprising me. She had a very soft and young voice.

The rest does not matter, Sandy added in form tone. Our pasts are gone and have no meaning to our lives now.

What? I asked, not believing what I was hearing. How can your pasts not matter to you? Isn't it your pasts that make up who you are as a person?

Cindy let out a sultry chuckle. He's got you there, Sand.

Sandy said nothing but I knew that she was thinking over what I said.

I wanted to talk to the Magus Sisters some more but I'm afraid time and Sin were not on my side. Rikku, who was watching our resident monster, suddenly let out a shriek and jumped behind Gatta for safety.

"Guys, something's happening to Sin!" she cried, pointing a finger out the window at the great lump in the horizon.

We all got up and watched as Sin rose from its prostate position on the ground and somehow sprouted wings to prop itself on a tower in Bevelle. The point or meaning of this action was completely lost on us all.

No one knew what to say over this… bizarre change so we were all quiet and just stared in wonder at Sin until Cid came bursting back into the room wearing a scowl.

"Cid, what's the report on the main gun?" I asked him, tearing my eyes away from the beast to face the Al Bhed man.

"Still busted. We can't give you any cover fire, son," he said seriously, eyes searching mine.

I smirked and tossed my head back in a lackadaisical salute. "Just take us in. We'll do the rest."

Cid smirked right back. "All right. Take us up, flush to the mouth! Time to end this!"

We all gathered back on the outer hull of the airship and waited as Sin pushed itself off of the tower and came nose to nose with us over Bevelle.

We had to go through yet another battle with another body part of Sin (this time I think it was the nose) before Sin opened itself up and allowed us entry. God forbid it did that in the first place and just let us in without a struggle.

The inside of Sin was… strange. It was kind of like the Farplane only with a blue-light sort of theme to it. The freakiest part of the whole experience was the glimpse of a familiar silver eye and a dark chuckle that made my skin break out into goose bumps.

"Okay, my luck cannot be that bad," I muttered to myself as the airship finally landed on a watery space of land. For the sake of my gag reflex, I tried not to think about what part of the body we were now in inside of my old man.

We all jumped off of the ship and onto the wet ground. As Rikku yelled out orders to her father, I took the moment to look around and figure out where Jecht could possibly be.

Finally I decided to just do it the old fashion way and yelled for him. "Dad! Where are you?"

"We must go to him," Auron explained before I could yell myself hoarse.

I nodded. "Then we will. Let's move!"

Exploring Sin was kind of like playing a videogame. There were levels, puzzles and monsters around as we tried to find the main boss. Only there was no reset button or save sphere around to guarantee our success. We had to rely on our own luck and abilities to get through the strange and somewhat fantastical new world inside of Sin.

About two hours into our walk through Sinland we came across a very familiar person waiting to get in our way, and generally make a pest out of himself.

"Seymour," I sighed, bracing my hands on my hips. I didn't if I should laugh or cry. "Don't you ever give up?"

Seymour cackled and raised up his hands to stare at them with mad, mad eyes. "Sin has chosen me. I am part of Sin. I am one with Sin, forever. Immortal!" he whispered before breaking out into another cackle.

I shook my head. "Sin has just absorbed you."

"I will learn to control it, from within. I have all the time in the world. Since you were gracious enough to dispose of Yunalesca… the only means of destroying Sin is forever gone. Now nothing can stop us!" he cried, beginning to dissolve into blue air between four huge discs.

"Wanna a bet?" Rikku muttered.

"By all means, try! You should thank me. Your death means your father's life!" he yelled.

"If anyone is going to take my father down then it will be me," I said quietly, unsheathing my sword and getting ready for my (hopefully) last fight against Seymour.

There were no tricks this time; no surprise special moves or creepy multiple forms that could wipe us all out in a matter of minutes. This battle was purely a magic one with Seymour wielding enough power to light half of Zanarkand.

I think the four disks he hovered between probably had something to do with his unlimited amount of magic. I know that they were certainly linked since after a couple of rounds we finally began to notice that it was the disks that determined which four level-three spells he would cast at us. We also figured out that after each attack, the disks rotated so a new spell was used, and if each color is the same, the spells increased in power. And since all the disks were all facing the same way at the start of the battle…

Yeah. Ouch.

But on the other hand, while the disks made Seymour more powerful, they also revealed his weakness. Lulu figured out that whichever side was furthest away from him when he attacked was Seymour's magical weakness.

So with that in mind Yuna and I agree that the best way to handle the ball of air was to summon the corresponding elemental aeon to use against the bastard. This worked fine until we ran out of elemental aeons to combat against him. Apparently they couldn't hold up against Seymour's Ultima.

"He's not going to run out of magic is he?" I asked Auron as we watched Ixion collapse into a heap of pyreflies.

"No. We need to use another tactic. Is Anima in overdrive?" he muttered, shoving me back behind him with his shoulder to avoid an icicle.

"I think so. Why?"

"I'm going to use Armor Break on him. Once I do have Anima use her overdrive. If my guess is right then her Oblivion should take him out."

"And if you're not?"

"Then we wasted five minutes. What's your point?"

I shook my head. "Right. Well let's try it."

To my astonishment, Auron's plan actually worked. Anima's Oblivion was the final blow that brought him down for good. The four discs around him shuddered and then shattered and Seymour became physical again.

Defeated, he stumbled backwards before falling to his knees. "No!"

"Yes," I disagreed softly, already beginning to perform a sending.

Seymour watched me with eyes torn between the colors of violet and silver. He looked like he did as a child back in that dome in Zanarkand; begging his mother not to leave him but knowing that it was inevitable.

"So it is you, after all, who will send me," he whispered as he dissolved into pyreflies. "But even after I am gone, Spira's sorrow will prevail."

I shook my head. "You're wrong. Spira's sorrow ends today."

And then Seymour Guado, Anima's tortured son, was just… gone.

"We did it Anima. We saved your son," I whispered, knowing from the burning pain inside of my chest that the fayth was aware of what had transpired, and was now mourning for the son she had to destroy.

After Seymour we had to slog through some more places, fiends and annoying puzzles before finally getting to a place that made me pause.

"This place… it looks like Zanarkand. Does that mean we're getting closer to him?" I asked Auron.

He shrugged. "Possibly. Let's keeping going and see where it takes us."

So we went on. Following the main path took us deeper and deeper into the replica of my home until we finally came to a dead end. It wasn't a waste though because standing at that end, with his back facing us, was Jecht.

When I saw him I froze and slowly the others stopped too. I stared mutely at the tanned and muscular back as my heart began to pick up speed and my hands began to get sweaty. For a moment, everyone and everything was silent. And then… he finally spoke.

"You're late, Auron," he said slowly in his gruff voice.

"I know," Auron replied, and I could hear the hint of a smile in his voice.

Jecht slowly turned around to face us all. He didn't look a day older than from how I remembered him. Still the same tall, broad and tanned man with a mane of spiky dark hair and too many tattoos. His dark eyes slid over everyone with a detached curiosity before finally settling on me. There was a flood of emotions that swept through those dark depths before they froze into two perfect ebony marbles.

"Hey," he greeted, waving one hand.

"Hi," I returned, my voice nothing more than a squeak.

Jecht let out a bark of laughter. "Hah! You got tall, but you're all bones! You eating right, boy?" He shook his head and his face softened. "You've really grown."

"Yeah, but you're still bigger," I pointed out, feeling like a child.

He smirked. "Well, I am Sin, you know."

I flinched. "That's not funny."

He chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck in a gesture of nervousness. "Well, then… I mean… you know." He shrugged and cracked his knuckles. "Let's end this."

I opened my mouth to say something but nothing would come out. God, why couldn't I make myself talk to him? I had so many things I thought I wanted to say to him but now that I actually had him here in front of me… I couldn't think of a thing to say.

"Dad?" I finally managed to whisper.


I wanted to say 'I love you,' or 'I forgive you,' but all that came out was, "I hate you."

Jecht chuckled. I think he knew what I was trying to say. "I know, I know… You know what you have to do."

I nodded. "Yeah."

Jecht turned to his right and stared out at the distance. "I can't hear the Hymn so well anymore. Pretty soon, I'm gonna be Sin. Completely. I'm glad you're here now. One thing, though… When it starts, I won't be myself anymore. I won't be able to hold myself back. I'm sorry."

Stop it. Stop talking, please!

"That's enough," I gasped, straining to get my voice to work. "Let's finish this, okay?"

"You're right. Well, then… Let's go!"

Jecht crossed his arms in front of his chest in the shape of an X, calling from inside of him some blue-purple power that he formed into a ball and thrust in his chest. I could only watch as he—DAD!—fell back.

"I believe in you. Be good. Goodbye…"

"Jecht… he loved you…"

"He loved you…"



Epiphanies have the oddest timing. Seeing Jecht transform himself into a monster made me realize how much I wanted to save him. That's why I suddenly started screaming for him and lunged out to grab him. There were yells, gasps and a scream from my party, but they were all fuzzy and strangely muted in my ears. All I could hear, all I could see, was Jecht as he fell back and out of my reach… and into Braska's Final Aeon.

Jecht was an impressive aeon. He looked like a giant bear-dog thingy while maintaining some of his own personal traits. Like his tattoo, bandana, sword and hair style. And as he roared and growled above me, I stared up at him with a bitter smile and unsheathed my sword.

"I promise this'll be quick," I muttered as my friends joined me at my side. "Hit me with all you got, dad!"

I found out something interesting during that battle against my old man.

Apparently even as a 12-foot aeon Jecht still had the ability to piss me off just by being himself. How you ask? Well, because he was a pain in the ass to fight!

Not only did he have two powerful monstrous forms (each one spikier than the one before), but he also had to have two little helpers called Yu Pagodas floating around to remove status effects and use Power Wave to heal him and increase his overdrive gauge. Little bastards. I made sure to have Gatta and Wakka take them both out early on in the battle.

Yuna and I were summoning aeons between casting protection and curing spells while our guardians unleashed all they had on my old man. Lulu and Rikku had to keep doublecasting Flare and Ultima and any other spell they could think of; Auron and Wakka kept using their Overdrives and needed buffing spells every fifteen minutes; and Kimahri and Gatta kept using Stamina Tonics on everyone between their own attacks.

Jecht met all of our attacks with his own unique assaults. Triumphant Grasp, Jecht Beam, Jecht Bomber, and Ultimate Jecht Shot were the main ones (anyone else notice a theme with these names?), and they were all annoying.

"Shit," I cursed when Gatta got hit again by the Jecht Beam and was petrified. I had to quickly cast Esuna on him before Jecht could shatter my guardian into a thousand pieces.

"We aren't making any progress," Yuna huffed next to me, struggling to stand up straight. She and the others were tiring and quickly losing their will to keep fighting. If we didn't kill the Final Aeon soon than we were the ones who were going to be facing the reaper.

I looked back at Jecht and tried to spot any potential weakness in his form. The only real thing I could see that looked vulnerable was the tattoo on his chest where he had pulled out his sword.

To hell with it. "Gatta, try and hit the middle of his tattoo!" I yelled to the Crusader while ducking a flying fireball from Jecht.

My guardian nodded and did as I asked. When his weapon hit the middle of the aeon's chest he let out a great roar of pain and doubled over.

"Well waddya know?" I muttered before signaling to everyone to try and hit that same spot again.

Ten minutes later Jecht dropped his sword and collapsed to the floor in a shaking heap. As he shuddered a strange black fluttery blob (Yu Yevon?) rose up from him and left. As soon as it was gone there was a giant fiery blast as the Final Aeon disappeared and left behind only Jecht.

Pyreflies fluttered around him as he staggered, looking ready to collapse. Auron was ready to run over there and catch him, but I beat him to it. I sprinted to my old man and caught him just he toddled forward. Carefully, I eased him so that he was sitting on the ground while leaning against me with my arms wrapped around his shoulders and waist tightly.

I don't think there are words to describe what I was feeling at that moment. Jecht was warm and real and my dad. I was close enough to him that I could feel his heart as it fluttered in his chest; sounding like a frantic bird trying to escape its cage. He was shaking slightly and struggling to breathe and his eyes were slowly darkening.

He was dying.

I was going to lose my dad.


No. No, don't leave me, dad. Don't go. Please, don't leave me again. Nononononononononono—

"You'll cry. You're gonna cry. You always cry. See? You're cryin'," Jecht laughed, reaching up a hand to catch a tear on my cheek.

"I hate you," I rasped, more tears breaking through. "I hate you so much. Why do you—"

He stopped my meaningless rambles by pressing a clumsy hand against my mouth. "Save it for later," he advised.

I let out a laugh that was one-half hollow and one-half crazed. "Right… We've got a job to do, don't we?"

"Good. That's right. You are my son, after all," he said with a nod, and for the first time in my life I saw a hint of pride in his eyes.

Seeing that… and maybe seeing him like that made me realize that I was proud of him too. I was proud of Jecht and everything that he had done to try and save Spira. I was proud of my dad.

"You know… for the first time, I'm glad… to have you as my father," I told him.

"Heh… You really are a good boy," he mumbled, smiling up at me.

The black blob from earlier took that moment to reappear and buzz around us like the pesky insect it was imitating.

"You stay away!" I snarled, batting at the blob. If that fucker came within even a foot of my old man…

Jecht stopped my swatting by weakly grasping my wrist. "Enough. You know what to do. The aeons…"

Tidus, call us! Bahamut pleaded to me in my mind.

"Call them!" my old man ordered.

Call us! my aeons demanded in one voice.

I had no choice but to comply. "Okay."

And then Jecht just… dissolved into pyreflies as the world turned itself inside out. When it reasserted itself, we found ourselves standing on a giant chained sword floating over an abyss that looked a lot like the Farplane. Once we got our minds together we realized that standing in front of us was the very person we had come to defeat.

Yu Yevon had no form. He (or perhaps it?) was just a mass of red and purple energy. During the course of a thousand years I guess his body and soul just couldn't handle the turmoil of summoning and powering Sin over and over again. The man who had started this whole stupid, sick cycle was gone. Now all that was left was his last desire: to summon.

I stared at the blob of energy and felt a hatred greater than anything I had ever felt in my life begin to boil in the pit of my stomach. Because of this moronic summoner countless people had lost their lives over the last one thousand years thanks to his wish to preserve the memory of an ancient city. God forbid that he dedicate all that energy and power to saving the remaining people left of that city instead of turning them into living statues.

True, without Yu Yevon's retarded idea I wouldn't exist, but to be perfectly frank at this point I didn't care about my own existence anymore. All I could think of was the fayth and their thousand years of duty and of Operation Mi'ihen where I watched Sin kill all those people.

So much sorrow. So much death. And for what? A memory?

Pointless. All so pointless.

The blur zoomed around us, making us duck so we wouldn't get hit. I wondered for a moment if the thing could possess people, and then decided that I would rather not take the chance to find out.

I looked to Yuna and found her staring at the blob with a shaky yet determined expression on her face. She met my eyes and nodded.

"Okay, guys. Let's finish this."

Summon an aeon, let it get possessed, and then send it. That was pretty much the whole strategy to our fight against Yu Yevon. Sounds easy right? Yeah, well, think again.

Don't get me wrong now. Yu Yevon wasn't anywhere near as hard to fight as Jecht, but he wasn't exactly a piece of cake either. The aeons he possessed seemed to become stronger and crazier than they were normally. That made fighting them back long enough to perform a sending pretty damn hard. Hard enough that I left the summoning and sending to Yuna and just focused on helping the guardians hold off the aeons.

We got pretty far without too much trouble. But then we ran into Yojimbo. And that's when… that's when it happened.

I was holding him off when his sword managed to pierce my stomach deeply. Not deep enough that it went straight through me, but deep enough to cause some major pain. I actually think he cut something important inside and I was probably now bleeding internally.

I hissed and pulled away, the blade sliding out freely. I held a hand against the wound and flashed the aeon an evil look. For a moment, Yojimbo actually looked apologetic but the expression gave away quickly to blind bloodlust.

I'm not stupid. The injury was fatal if left untreated. But since I was already going to disappear… well what was the point of wasting a good healing spell or potion on it?

"Are you okay?" Lulu asked me, glancing at the wound I was hiding with my hand.

"I'm fine," I lied, trying to pretend I didn't have a hole the size of my fucking fist in my stomach. For the record, pulling off such an act is as hard as it sounds.

I muttered a cure spell to stop the bleeding for the moment. It wouldn't hold for long but it would be enough to get me through this last battle at least.

After Yojimbo we took out Anima before finally coming to the Magus Sisters. It was the first time I had ever seen their aeons' forms.

They're a mantis, a ladybug, and a wasp, I mused before shrugging. Well. At least they aren't a gangster samurai, or a flaming hound from hell.

When the Magus Sisters were defeated and sent the only thing left was Yu Yevon itself. The blob wasn't very hard to fight. Actually I think the aeons from before were the real challenge. It was made even easier when I noticed that it was vulnerable to zombifying attacks after Auron hit it with his Zombie Attack.

"Rikku, Gatta, throw some Phoenix Downs on the bastard!" I yelled to my guardians who quickly complied.

As soon as the Phoenix Downs hit the blob it began to steam and then melt away until there was nothing left. There weren't even any pyreflies around it to show that it had once been human. It really was just a cloud of instinct.

There was a moment of silence between all of us as we slowly absorbed the fact that we had just defeated Yu Yevon. Then Gatta let out a great sigh and threw down his weapon, and it was like a signal had gone off because then Rikku was screaming and jumping up and down while trying to hug Yuna, and Wakka cheered and lifted Lulu into a hug and swung her around. Even Kimahri and Auron wore expressions of relief and joy over our final victory.

I, on the other hand, collapsed to my knees and wrapped my arms around my stomach, and leaned over until my forehead touched the floor. I didn't want my friends to see all the blood I was leaking again and try and heal me. I didn't want them to think I was going to live when I wasn't.

I wasn't there for very long when strong arms pulled me up to lean against an armored chest. I leaned my face against the cool plate and grasped one of the arms as they wrapped around my shoulders and waist.

"Auron," I gasped, struggling to focus through the pain. It was beginning to get harder and harder to breathe. "Auron, is it…?"

"Yes," he answered, kneeling down and pulling me further into his lap. I felt him rest his face against my hair and breathe deeply. "Yes, it's over. It's finally over."

I smiled and closed my eyes and allowed my body to relax against him.

It was finally over.

Yu Yevon, Sin, Jecht… it was all over.

About damn time too.

"Sir Auron, is he…?" Yuna's questioning voice came from somewhere off to my side. I tried not to sigh. It was time to face my friends and tell them the truth.

I struggled to open my eyes again and face my friends as they crowded around me in concern. Looking at them, I tried my best to smile and appear nonchalant. "I'm dying, Yuna. And you can't save me. No one can. Don't worry; I knew this was going to happen. Once the fayth are all gone I'll cease to exist."

"Wh-What? What does the fayth have to do with anything?" Rikku cried, kneeling down next to me. She looked torn between crying and yelling.

"Long story short, the fayth fuel my life. If they go then I go. End of story."

"But there must be a way for you to live without them!" Gatta exclaimed, his eyes growing big and fearful.

I smiled and shook my head. Then immediately regretted it since it made my head pound and my vision turn black. "No, there… there isn't. But it's okay. I knew that it was going to end like this. So… Yuna? Perform one last sending for us all."

Yuna looked hesitant but one piercing look from me and she gave in. "Very well then. Everyone stand back."

Yuna was a beautiful dancer. That was all I really managed to get during that last sending. As she danced everything began to get fuzzier and quieter. The pain from my wound began to disappear as my form began to unravel from existence.

Tidus? a soft voice called to me in my mind.

I struggled to focus on it. Valefor?

Yes, she assured in her child's voice. Tidus, you did it. You destroyed Sin for good. You saved all of Spira!

I didn't do it alone you know, I reminded her. You and the others and my friends helped a lot too.

Yeah, but you started it. We could never have gotten so far if it wasn't for you, Ixion said, sliding into the conversation.

You saved us all, boy, Ifrit complimented in his usual gruff voice.

And now it's time for us to say goodbye, Shiva said softly. Tidus, thank you for all your help. Thank you for ending the dream for all of us.

Thank you for allowing all of us to finally move on, Yojimbo clarified.

And for freeing Spira from its cruel spiral of life and death, added Sandy of the Magus Sisters.

You will never know how thankful we are that you came, Anima whispered.

And then one by one I felt each of my aeons leave me as their power died and their souls were freed from their statue prisons.

Finally there was only one aeon left within me. The one who started the whole thing.

Tidus, Bahamut called in his young (old) voice.


There's something I need to tell you before I go. You started off in life as a dream, but when you stepped through from your Dream-Zanarkand into the real world of Spira, you became more than just a dream. You became real. I can't stop you from dying. We fayth fuel your life. Without us your life ends. But since you're now real, since you now have a soul, your life will continue through the cycle that all souls go through.

And… what cycle is that?


They say that right before you die your life flashes before your eyes. This didn't happen with me. I think being a dream had something to do with that, but that's just me making a guess.

As I lay dying I did think over my time though. I mused over how short and quick it was. Can something so short have any meaning? Can you really live what you would call a GOOD and FULL life in only seventeen years?

So I flipped through my memories like a person flipping through a photo album, and tried to find anything substantial. Anything with real meaning. And you know what? This is what I thought of:

I thought of my Zanarkand at night all lit up and buzzing with life. I thought of the stadium during my first professional game as a Zanarkand Abes, and of my uniform and the blitzball and the fans. I thought of my mom sitting in her garden with dirty hands and life blooming all around her. I thought of the day Sin attacked my beautiful Zanarkand and tore it all apart along with my life.

I thought of the dreams I shared with Bahamut, and all the different emotions I felt each time we talked. I thought of that first day I met Anima and gained her aeon and friendship. Then I thought of the times where I met Valefor, Ifrit, Ixion, Shiva, Bahamut, Yojimbo and the Magus Sisters. How each encounter was different but just as meaningful as the one before.

I thought of Shelinda with her pointy hat and shy but bright eyes. I thought of Kelk and his huge paws and honest expressions. I thought of Luzzu and his kind smile and determined spirit. I thought of O'aka and all of his little gadgets, and of Rin and his agencies. I thought of Cid and his ship and his people and family. Hell, I even thought of Seymour and his ever changing eyes and incomprehensible mind.

I thought of Yuna sitting at the table with her book that day back in Besaid, and of Wakka playing in that final blitzball game. I thought of Lulu when she stared at the dead image of Chappu in the Farplane, and of Kimahri when I told him I wanted to save Yuna.

I thought of Rikku standing with her people over the graves of their dead as I performed a sending for them. I thought of her expression when I told her she could come along and be my guardian.

I thought of Gatta fighting to protect Belgemine and me that first day back at the Moonflow Road, and of the day when he saw Luzzu on the Farplane.

I thought of Belgemine on that day when she tried to stop Luzzu from fighting in the Mi'ihen Operation. And then with her hair down free and smiling as I released her from Spira.

I thought of Auron that day we stood over my mother's grave together, and how I cried and cried and he just let me without any judgment. Of how that last night I had with him he held me so close and tight against him while whispering 'I love you' over and over again in my ear with so much emotion in his voice.

And I thought of Jecht and that sparkle of pride when he looked up at me in his final moments. How for one moment when I was holding him I actually felt like we had a parent-child bond. And how much it hurt to know that that bond was about to be broken.

Yes. Yes, my life did have meaning. Maybe not as much as some people but it did count for something. There were bad times and good times and some in between. I met a lot of good people and some not quite so good ones. But most importantly, I had managed to save my friends and the lives of so many innocents from a clergy of lies, hypocrisy and death. I had managed to give them a chance at life. And, really, that was probably the biggest thing that mattered to me. I gave the people of Spira a chance to live out their lives.

You know, before all of this I thought death was a scary and hard thing to deal with. But then I came to Spira and saw what death really meant, and how easy it was to succumb to it. How easy it was to just give up and give in. The truth is that it takes more strength to live than it does to die. Funny how I didn't realize this until my own life was draining right out of me.

But then that's my life for ya. One ironic twist after another.

Godamn fayth.