Tidus thought of Zanarkand that afternoon. Brightly lit and fully alive in the crisp, warm night air and bursting with people of all ages and descent. He missed it so badly- even if it was just a dream of the Fayth. Even… if he, too, was nothing but some soul's imagination.
The group had camped at the Otherworld's outskirts, a place Tidus vaguely remembered to be the site of a lake. His mother had took him there once- before Jecht's disappearance and the sorrow had swept through her, eventually bringing her life to an end.
His old man… how he hated him.
With Tidus that evening were the Warrior of Light, the Onion Knight, Zidane, and Firion. Cloud, Terra, Squall, Bartz, and Cecil were to meet up them by morning at the Rift.
Tidus frowned and lay back on his elbows, staring up at the few stars he could make out above the Otherworld's expansive lighting.
"What's up with you?" Firion asked, noticing his overall lack of positivity and hyperactivity he usually had. "Something wrong, Tidus?"
The blitzball star tossed him a forced smile. "Nothin'," he easily replied. So simple it was to fool these allies of his into thinking he was as happy as could be, never having anything to bother him. He was the overall hope of the Dissidia group- never faltering under pressure, never once feeling the dismal lack of hope the others had after a string of tough battles. Tidus was their light. Their hope.
Their Final Aeon, so to speak, if this was Spira, and he was a guardian again. Just like him. Jecht. His old man.
So of course Firion would think something like the end of the world had just occurred when happy-go-lucky Tidus lost his cheerfulness.
Firion frowned, but dropped subject. Hope was something no one wanted to lose. Especially to him, who had lost a father, his home, and nearly his best friend to the Emperor.
Just like Tidus to Spira. If it weren't for Spira dragging his old man away, his mother never would have died. He wouldn't have had to leave his Zanarkand, his blitz team and life. He wouldn't have had to feel the pain of having to walk away from Yuna….
Zidane suddenly stabbed the earth with one of his daggers. "I hate this," he announced blandly. "Back home, everyone's got their families to celebrate with, and I'm stuck here waiting around for Chaos to show!"
The Warrior Light cocked an eyebrow. "Celebrate? What occasion?"
Grimly he answered, "Father's Day."
And if that didn't automatically bring them into utter bitterness, then Yuna was a gunslinger with an attitude running around with Rikku and the Al Bhed hunting spheres. What a joke that would be. Tidus thought about the idea for a while, taking his mind off of his father. Yuna would have to ditch the summoner job now that the calm- the real, eternal calm- was in Spira.
But as soon as the Onion Knight started on the subject of his father, all of that simply crashed and burned.
Usually the Onion Knight was just as peppy as Tidus most times, but he was always cocky and a bit of a know-it-all. Now he was something completely different- the little kid he really was. Gathering up his knees, he murmured, "I never really had a dad to celebrate with. I… I was an orphan."
Tidus felt a frown coming on. Guilt ate at him- but he didn't know why. Because he had Jecht when the Onion Knight had no one? Because maybe the other warriors never felt the bitter hatred for their fathers?
"I was an orphan too. Baku from Tantalus found me one day and took me in," Zidane said, falling on his back and squinting up at the sky. "My dad… heck, he was more of a master than a father. Me and Kuja both hate him. But… now that he's gone, I just…." He shook his head and fell silent.
"The Emperor killed my father," Firion now started. "I guess that's why I have to hurry and defeat him- to avenge him."
The Warrior of Light didn't seem to eager to tell the group about his father, so that left Tidus. He didn't have one ounce of respect or love his father, nothing to tell these guys that they didn't already know about him. Except….
Tidus sat up and stared into the fire. "My dad turned into Sin to save Spira. He…. No, I mean, I just…."
Gritting his teeth, he shouted, "I hate him! I hate him for making Mom die, for taking me away from home, for making me leave Yuna! I hate him for making me have to kill him!"
Now there was no use in trying to hide the tears that came to his eyes. "I hate him!" he cried again, burying his face into his knees. "I hate him…."
Jecht had turned into Sin to save all of Spira. To make sure Braska's little girl had a good life to live. To give Auron a chance to really enjoy life. To ensure Tidus's future as a blitzball star…. Jecht went through the same troubles Tidus did on his journey as a guardian. He experienced the calm life of Besaid, the fiery will power of the people of Kilika, the brave Ronso of Mt. Gagazet, and all of the hope resting on his, Auron's, and Braska's shoulders. He lived through the pain of every battle to reach the end of the line where he would give his life for this new place- his new home.
Tidus knew that Jecht wasn't meant to be the bad guy here. It was stupid to carry on the hate he felt, but he couldn't help it. Every time he thought about even slightly forgiving his old man, the more hate he felt towards him. It didn't matter if he was the exact same as Tidus! It didn't once even matter if he was the real hero, and Tidus was just "Sir Jecht's" son! He hated him!
The Warrior of Light stood, startling them. His grim expression wasn't stoic now. It was… different. "I'll meet with you later tonight," he said, nodding to Firion as if to declare him leader. The Warrior of Light then picked up his sword and turned to leave. Even though his head was turned, Tidus still saw the tear drops falling onto the dirt.
"Light?" he cautiously asked.
The warrior stiffened, did not turn to meet his comrades. "Yes?" His voice was quiet; small and reserved.
He turned to scowl at the ground, his gloved hands slightly clenching. "There is nothing to apologize for, Tidus. I'm just doing a simple… recon."
Tidus stood, ignoring his companion's incredulous looks. No one ever argued with the Warrior of Light. Except Squall, of course, but who hadn't he argued with? "Recon? Well, that can be a two-man job, can't it?"
"Shut up, Onion Peel," he hissed out of the side of his mouth.
The knight rolled his eyes and poked a stick into the fire. "You're stubborn, you know?" Firion said. But since he was always adamant to stay neutral in the Dissidia group's quarrels, he didn't further intervene.
Now the jock turned with a smile. "I'm famous for it."
Another fake smile, then? Another broken mess to fix, even when I was the cause? Seems like history repeats itself. I bet Yuna doesn't have this problem anymore. I bet… she has a good life now. One without a trouble maker like me around to screw everything up.
Like all of those "sacrilegious" acts I committed in Besaid and Kilika. If it wasn't for Wakka and Yuna saving my butt, they probably would have chased me with pitchforks and torches.
"So where are we going, Light?" Tidus asked.
Always following the others, always in the background. I guess that's a good life. It's definitely better than being in charge; always having to put on that perfect poker face to ward off weakness and gain respect.
"Anywhere away from there a while," the Warrior of Light replied, keeping his face hidden in shadow. His voice was carefully guarded, unwilling to let out the simplest clue as to what his true thoughts were at the moment.
Tidus crossed his arms behind his head. "Yeah. So, fight any tough manikins lately?"
Finally stopping, Light turned to him. "Why are you here, Tidus?"
He pretended to think for a minute. "I guess… because Cosmos thought I was a good fighter or something? You know, same reason we're all here."
"I didn't mean that."
Sighing, Tidus looked back at the flickering firelight and the three light warriors. "Life is just crappy, you know? When you're home, and everything is perfect, it's always at the best moment in your life that's ruined when it's all taken away from you. But sometimes leaving home isn't such a bad thing. I mean, I got to meet Wakka and Lulu, Kimahri and Rikku, the summoners and their guardians… Yuna…."
"But then you had to leave again," Light finished for him.
Tidus nodded. "And now I'm only hoping that when we finish all of this… this stupid fighting, that I'll be able to go back to that."
Light nodded, satisfied by the answer. But before the two started off again, he asked one final question: "If things had gone differently for you… if, shall we say, your father was chosen to be the light warrior and you one of Chaos's minions…. Would you still feel the need to hate him so much, seeing him on the 'good' side?"
When Tidus didn't answer, the Warrior of Light stole a glance at him. Tidus didn't have that impossibly bright, beaming expression, nor the brooding, pessimistic one. His face shone with nostalgia. "Yevon…. Everyone in Spira trusted the teachings with their lives. They didn't care about sacrificing summoners and guardians every ten years to ensure a little while of peace without Sin, all because Yevon gave them the okay on things. But… Yuna was different. She was ready to die for her people, but she wouldn't dare let us choose to die either. She said that real peace can't come when you still have to lose something in order to gain a false hope. And so we all turned our backs on hope and actually stopped smiling and being Spira's ray of light. It was all so false, so wrong! And they all believed it! Even my old man… he fell for the trick. He let Braska turn him into the final Aeon, and then he turned into Sin and brought me to Spira to let me sacrifice myself! He never cared about me at all! He didn't care when Mom got sick when he left, too depressed to carry on living! He never cared! So why should I ever care about him? He's the root of all of my problems, even if I'm not even supposed to freaking exist! If Jecht had just left me alone, then I wouldn't have even noticed when the Fayth stopped dreaming and I disappeared! None of us would have even noticed!"
"I'm sure we would have noticed."
Tidus and the Warrior of Light turned to see Zidane, Firion, and the Onion Knight. Crossing his arms, Zidane continued. "So what if you don't like your dad. Heck, if Kuja hadn't dropped me off in Gaia, I probably would have destroyed half the world! That's the one thing that keeps me from hating him. Why can't you do that with Jecht? Cecil doesn't hate Golbez, does he? No, and I'm sure he never will."
The Onion Knight nodded. "Yes, and there can't just be nine light warriors! That's asymmetrical!"
"Asym-what?" Tidus deadpanned.
"Never mind," Firion cut him off, shaking his head. "The point is, you can't really have that peace you want when something trivial like this is bothering you. We all have our common goals, right? To banish evil, to avenge old friends and family, and everyone else's dreams. Well, what about you? You're always the happiest of the ten of us, and you always egg us on to 'keep going' and to 'never give up'. But right now, it sounds an awful lot like you're the one who's about to give up. Not only is that hypocritical, but think of all the worrying everyone's going to go through over you. Especially Terra- you know how she is."
Grumbling, Tidus muttered, "Terra would have a panic attack if someone stubbed their toe."
Firion nodded. "Exactly."
Tidus scowled up at him. "So what's the verdict, you want me to keep up the act or what? I am going to always have to be the life of the party while you all get to be sulky?"
"I'm not sulky!" Zidane and the Onion Knight cried at the same time.
Firion and Tidus ignored them. "I don't want to force you do anything, Tidus. I just don't what you to turn into Cloud or Squall."
"Excuse me?" the bland, monotone voice of Squall Leonheart sounded.
The five warriors turned to see the second group finally arrive. Terra immediately rushed over, checking to see if anyone was dying over a stubbed toe or some other minor injury. Bartz commenced to drag Zidane into a lengthy conversation about chocobos (or something about Cloud), and of course Cecil, Cloud, and Squall were being the mature ones, aware of the situation. "Daddy issues again?" Squall asked, casually swinging his gun blade on his shoulder.
"No, we were talking about your amazing fashion sense. I hear that fur and leather is all the rage," Zidane managed to snicker before Bartz and Terra started their travel stories.
After a short glare to the thief, they resumed the conversation. Again crossing his arms behind his head, Tidus explained, "Today's Father's Day, and it turns out that none of exactly have much of a father to celebrate."
"Sephiroth killed my father," Cloud quietly said, getting that distant look in eyes again. The light warriors then knew that it would be a good three days before the ex-SOLDIER would speak again.
"Yeah, well… no use in wasting time on something stupid. Bartz, shut your mouth for an hour or two and help me set up camp. Shortie, you and Cloud can help too. Terra, start on some dinner," Squall instructed. Stabbing his gun blade into the ground, he wiped some hair from his eyes and left.
Cecil, with a sigh, turned. "I should go help Terra."
"Well… what an eventful day, huh, guys?" Firion said. But, when he turned around, he noticed both Tidus and the Warrior of Light were gone. A smile crept up on his lips. Tidus and Light were complete opposites. That meant they could understand the other's perspectives more than either could imagine.
"ZIDANE, STOP REACHING FOR MY EFFING GIL!"
"Sorry, Squall~!" Zidane sang, spinning over to hang with Terra and Cecil.
The story was the same for him, it turns out. Light had once had to fight his own father. It wasn't as bad as mine and my old man's, of course, but everyone has their story. But back then, Yuna also said that it was her story also, that ours were intertwined. If that's true, then why are we so distant now? Will we ever see other again?
When this is done, will I go back home?
Or will I go to Zanarkand?
And just then, as Tidus and Light held silent vigil for the men they could never fully love nor hate, a sharp whistle split the air.