Chapter 11: Reason to Be
Bahamut pondered how to explain Tidus to Yuna. The answer was broad and full of paradox that she might not misunderstand. "You will tell him what I say?"
"Yes," she quietly answered. "He so badly wants to know. We all do."
"Then, he is ready to know. Listen carefully and try to help him understand. This is the way it had to be."
Yuna nodded and braced herself for ... she didn't know what.
Bahamut held his chin at just enough of a level to hide his eyes from view as he related his confession. "The aeons were not enough to help the survivors of the Machina War truly defeat Sin. This was Lady Yunalesca's plan from the beginning, that the Final Aeon would defeat Sin, only to take its place as the next one. The dead could only look on in despair, unable to affect change in the physical world because of their rest. And the spirits who could not find rest were too lost in their own pain. The fayth could not fight Yu Yevon because he trapped our souls in his summoning spell. But the fayth decided to see if one of the illusions from the dream would be strong enough to do it. It was a plan to reflect a part of Yevon's own magic back at him, in hopes that the illusion would be able to cast off the possession of the Final Aeon and then defeat Yu Yevon himself. At the very least, a real life would not be wasted if the illusion did not survive. At least, ... that was the plan." The small boy's spirit floated silently for a moment, no trace of emotion on his half-hidden face.
"Our first choice was Jecht. As world-famous athlete, he was physically capable of becoming a strong warrior, but more than that, he had determination and courage. We needed someone who would not give up until he had won. We sent him to your father, Lord Braska, as a guardian for his pilgrimage. Jecht befriended Braska and the other guardian, Auron. When the time came for Braska to chose which of his guardians he would sacrifice to become his Final Aeon, Jecht volunteered because he didn't think he could ever return home. We thought all was going according to plan. He did defeat Sin, but then he, too, fell victim to Yu Yevon's possession. As the new Sin, he returned to punish the rest of Spira once again for attacking Zanarkand, demanding more sacrifice to feed Yevon's revenge and power, as all the other Sins had before him. His difference, though, was that Jecht retained his awareness of who he was and what he was doing. He hated being helpless to stop his destruction, and he hated Yu Yevon, so he was willing to help us try again. We realized we needed something more - something that Yu Yevon wouldn't expect." The small fayth paused a moment after telling Jecht's story. "Auron's spirit, having made a promise to his friend, searched for Jecht's son. But Jecht's son had died almost a thousand years prior. Jecht just never knew because he had died when the boy was a child. I assume you know the story of how Shuyin died, since you are the one who was finally able to send his spirit to his rest, Lady Yuna."
Yuna blinked and forced herself to nod in agreement. Shuyin was Jecht's son. The concept was difficult to accept, having believed all this time that Sir Jecht was Tidus's father. "I didn't send Shuyin. He left voluntarily, ... with Lenne."
Bahamut became silent again as he hovered in the air before her. His hooded face continued to show no trace of emotion, but Yuna could sense the spirit's momentary sadness.
She considered what she had learned from talking to Shuyin's spirit. "He was your friend, wasn't he."
The boy nodded.
"And yet, ... he used you to attack the temples."
The boy nodded again.
"You must feel very betrayed." She quietly sympathized. "I think, he regrets having done that now."
"He does." The young fayth lifted his chin ever so slightly. "I'm still glad that my sister chose to be with him. He was fun, sincere, and loyal. He had his father's courage and determination, even if his jokes were corny and he got a little cocky sometimes. But when Lenne died, Shuyin's soul changed. He became lost to us because he refused to let go and leave his despair behind. That's how great his loyalty was to her. But we found the part of his soul that desperately wanted a second chance, and we fashioned an illusion around it. The neo-genesis was unique. He was an illusion created from memories, but he shared a real soul. He came from the past into the present, ... like the way we see a star's light only after it has traveled many years to reach us."
"Neo-genesis ..." Yuna tried to understand, so that she could explain it to him when she returned.
"As we sent Jecht to your father, we sent his son's neo-genesis to you. Auron's spirit watched over him until the time was right that he and Jecht could pull him from the dream into reality. The neo-genesis was to be your guardian for a short time - long enough to help you defeat Sin and banish Yu Yevon from Spira forever." Bahamut's boyish face saddened again. "Because of our earlier failure, he had to kill his own father. But he is the only one who could have done this. Do you see? It was the only way to free Jecht, us, and all of Spira from Yu Yevon's control."
Yuna remembered Tidus's freely flowing tears as he held his defeated father in his arms, after finishing his tragic deed. His friends had helped him win the battle, but afterwards, they all felt his sadness more than their victory. Even now, thinking about it made her blink back tears. She had cried many tears that day, having to fight her faithful aeons and send them, and her faithful guardians, away - first Auron, then him. Yuna buried her face in her hands, but she tried to keep silent and listen beyond the burning emotion that was returning with the memories.
"When the fayth were sent, he had no choice but to fade with us because he was from the dream. But he could not be immediately dispersed with the rest of the dream's illusions. He was not dead, so his thoughts could not rest. He preferred to continue being your guardian. We didn't know what to do with him." The boy shrugged his shoulders in dismay.
Yuna gave a light laugh and wiped away a tear.
"We thought maybe we could use him to help Shuyin find his peace, but the dream magic we used to make him had developed a consciousness of its own. So, when Shuyin finally did return to us, he wanted to give his neo-genesis a second chance with you, ... in return for what you gave to him."
"Lenne?" Yuna guessed.
"More than Lenne - forgiveness." The child-spirit paused. "We weren't sure it would work, since spirit magic is powerless in your world without being bonded to it, but since you seemed to miss each other so much, we summoned him one more time. His own desire to live is what sustains him now."
Yuna sniffled and clasped her fingers at her chin. "Can he stay? ... Please?" she quietly requested.
"We can't promise he'll never fade away; but if he uses common sense and stays out of trouble, he should be able to live in your world for a very long time. He's as real as he can be, considering his circumstances. Just make sure he does not misunderstand. It was the way it had to be."
"I think he has learned to accept that."
"Lady Yuna, you have done so much for Spira. It was the least we could do to return your guardian to you. Besides, he was beginning to drive us crazy."
Yuna laughed lightly and brushed again at the moisture that began to form on her lashes. "Then, his appearance doesn't mean trouble for Spira?"
"Trouble for you maybe, but not for Spira." The fayth finally allowed himself a hint of a smile.
Yuna stood and turned to her friends with a smile she was unable to contain. Everyone grinned, sharing her happiness. Rikku, who had also been moved to tears at the memories, stepped forward to hug her. "He can stay with us, Yunie! He can really stay!"
But looking at her friends, and their equipment, reminded Yuna of the other reason they had come here. She decided to see if the fayth could help with that, too. "Bahamut, would you happen to know what all this machina down here is for?"
"It's the Heart of the ship."
Everyone standing before the boy's spirit blinked in bewilderment.
"Ship?" Brother asked, confused. "What ship?"
"Spira. She's a ship."
"Like an airship?" Buddy asked, stunned.
"A space ship." Bahamut's body began to thin slightly. No longer bonded to life, like any other sent spirit, he was needing to return to his rest, but it seemed he had one more thing he needed to explain. "A long time ago, a far away world was looking for inhabitable planets to colonize as their population expanded and their resources dwindled. They could not find any worlds suitable to their needs, so they decided to build one. Spira was the first colony world to successfully maintain life, partly because of the way Zanarkand intermingled with non-human races and learned how to summon a magical dimension into the heart of the ship. It brought the ship to life, in a sense. The Founders were not happy about that, though - thought it was too dangerous to be exploring such high powered magic. They are the ones that gave the order for Bevelle to attack Zanarkand because they feared it was going too far. Yu Yevon is the one that convinced Spira to flee from the Founders to prevent an even greater retaliation from them. Spira's freedom was perhaps the only good thing to come out of the Machina War, but we've been fighting to be free of Yu Yevon ever since."
"What kind of fuel could keep a ship running for a thousand years?" Buddy asked, as he looked around at the overhead circuitry with new awareness.
"The Farplane," Shinra answered. "Remember the tests we did before allowing the Gullwings to come down here to find Vegnagun? All that energy to power many cities ..."
"The Farplane breathes life into Spira." The spirit-boy thinned a little more. "As long as life exits on Spira, the Farplane will absorb the cast-off energy of its spirits and use it to sustain the ship. You could say that Spira is the real dream, since she is the one who ultimately holds our collective memories."
"Well, dream energy might endlessly recycle, but the part of the ship that is machina is falling apart," Buddy reported. "The pump is irregular, and circuits are failing. If you ask me, corrosion is our biggest enemy now."
"She hasn't had maintenance in over a thousand years." Bahamut shrugged and shook his head. "What did you expect?"
"Why doesn't anyone else know about this?" Rikku asked.
"Spheres containing the knowledge of the Founders that weren't destroyed in the Machina War were hoarded and destroyed by Yu Yevon - one of many ways he was able to keep the people of Spira under his control. That's why surviving spheres are precious."
"I don't suppose, you'd be able to tell us where a few of these precious spheres are, would you?" Brother was almost able to taste the sweet fortune that they could make, if they could retrieve such a treasure.
The boy's spirit shook his head and defiantly folded his arms. "Fat chance."
"Oh come on! We need some kind of reward for fixing such a big machina. It's a whole planet we're talking about!"
"Just keep looking. If you keep finding spheres and piecing together their individual stories, you will soon have a great library of knowledge. And that is a reward that would be truly priceless."
"What world did Spira come from, then?" Paine tilted her chin to one side in curiosity.
Bahamut's body began to swirl with pyreflies as he disappeared. "Earth."
"Wait!" Yuna begged of the bright cloud of light within the floating pyreflies. "I forgot to ask one more thing. Please, ... He would like to know how old he is now."
The fayth's voice continued to answer her, though his light was all that remained. "The neo-genesis was created about three years ago, just in time for the reappearance of Sin."
Rikku giggled. "He's three?"
"Well, that would explain a lot." Pain gave Yuna and Rikku a glance of wry amusement.
"But, technically, his soul is a thousand-year work in progress. So, we'll split the difference and say he's the same age as when he had to leave you - seventeen." The boy's voice trailed away.
Yuna smiled from deep within her heart. "Thank you, my friend. ... Rest in peace," she whispered to the departed spirit.
A few days later, on the island of Besaid, Brother and Tidus were in the engine room of the Celsius working on the hover bike he had crashed. Brother put his hands to his head and shook it in disgust. "No, no, no! You can't put that part there! It goes here! You will never be able to help us repair Spira's heart if you can't tell the difference between a gyroscepter circuit and a spring-fusion conductor!"
Tidus's frustration turned into anger. "Well, you didn't tell me what a ... spring-gyro-fusion-thingy is!" He cast his wrench aside before standing up and walking down the open hatch out of the engine room in a huff.
A moment later, the door from the lift opened and Yuna came down the stairs bearing a two tall drinks decorated with tropical flowers. "Rikku and I have been experimenting with fruit from the island. Would you like to try one of the drinks we made?" Yuna cheerfully handed him one of the cups she carried.
"Oh, thank you! Yuna is an angel to think of such things on a hot and humid day like this." He gratefully accepted and guzzled down the drink to quench his thirst.
"It's just a small way to thank my brotherly bulldog for protecting me so well." She planted a quick kiss on his cheek.
Brother's tattooed face flushed a slight pink, and he waved her away in embarrassment. "It was nothing, really. At least, he will take good care of you, now that he knows he will have to answer to me, if he doesn't."
Yuna smiled in amusement at her cousin's assessment of his previous conflict with Tidus. "How's the repair of the hover bike going?"
Brother snorted in annoyance. "You were right. He's got the mechanical talent of a monkey! He will never be able to help us fix Spira's inner core. He is useless to us except for picking up trash and cleaning the bathrooms."
Yuna tried not to laugh. "Oh, I don't know. He's pretty good with a sword and magic. He'll need that for hunting spheres."
"Are you saying he's better than me at hunting spheres?" Brother looked over his shoulder.
"No, no. You are ... differently gifted." She smiled sweetly at him.
"Oh." He had never thought of it that way before, but he liked the way it sounded.
"As for the inner core, maybe it would be better to ask for the help of the Machine Faction. It's a big job to repair such a big ship. Cid contacted Gippal, and he's on his way to help Shinra with his analysis of the core's design."
Brother set down his cup and looked up at her, aghast at her news. "What'd he do that for? We can handle it ourselves!"
"Well, ... leading the Gullwings is a big job, too. It's very important that we continue to find as many spheres as we can. We need the help of our captain to do that."
Brother folded his arms at his chest and nodded in approval. "Well, when you put it that way ..."
Yuna smiled and picked up the spent cup. Then, she walked down the ramp in search of Tidus. He was right where she suspected he would be - in the deeper water taking out his frustrations on a blitz ball by seeing how many sustained air-volleys he could keep going. After setting the empty cup in the corner of the ramp, she removed the sleeves of her thief sphere attire and folded them nearby to keep them dry. In her bikini top and skort, she stepped into the cool, shallow tide, and waded up to her knees in the water. Putting her fingers to her lips, she whistled to get his attention and held up the surprise drink with a light shake.
In response to her call, he swam toward her until he could tuck the ball under his arm and walk the rest of the way to her side. "Thanks. What is it?" He accepted the cup, examined it skeptically, and then took a cautious sip.
She laughed at how different his response was to Brother's. "It's a fruit drink. It won't poison you; I promise."
"I saw Rikku making drinks behind the bar when I took a break from the engine room. I've seen her mix alchemy potions; don't tell me it won't poison me." He liked the concoction, though, and ended up drinking down the rest of the icy treat rather quickly. "Ah -!" He winced. "Brain freeze."
"I take it your bike repair lessons didn't go so well?"
"Not exactly," he grumbled.
"Well, Cid's talking to Gippal right now about the Machine Faction helping out with the repairs on Spira's Heart. So, while Rikku and I were making drinks, I contacted Kimahri and updated him on what we found out, and then I contacted Tromell, Nooj, and Baralai to update them as well. They think it would be a good idea to use any future spheres that we find to make a big library over the ruins of Zanarkand, like Bahamut suggested. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but even Isaaru and Kimahri thought it was a fitting way to honor the memory of what happened there. I told them I wanted to check with you first."
"You're the only real Zanarkand resident left who can voice an opinion about it."
Tidus laughed lightly at the irony of the word. "It's okay with me." He shrugged. "It's not like the blitz stadium works anymore, anyway." He finished the last of the drink, giving her a sly grin.
She chuckled lightly and bumped the ball out of his grip. "What a shameless thing to say. That's a sacred place for everyone else on Spira."
"Oh, so first I'm the only real resident of the place, but now I'm completely out of touch with reality because I only think I used to live there." He drew back in mock offense. "Get your act together, crazy woman. Either I'm really here, or you're a little touched in the head for thinking you see me." He set the empty cup in the sand and waded further into the water to reclaim the ball.
"Who's crazy? I already explained to you that you're really here." Yuna smiled to herself with a mischievous expression and sneaked behind him to give him a surprise push.
Having heard her footsteps in the water, however, Tidus anticipated her action and easily dodged. What he didn't anticipate was the broken shell that his foot landed on. He hopped back with a wince just as a wave rolled forward and pushed him back into the water with a splash. Sitting in clear, blue water up to his chest, he squinted up at her as she laughed at him. It felt good to be alive - at least, as alive as a neo-genesis could be. Ignoring the ball, he sprang up out of the water and plowed into her, hefting her onto his shoulder, as he had at the blitzball game, to carry her further into the water. "That's twice you've done that to me now, on top of all the other abuses. I think you need to see how it feels."
Yuna cried out and laughed, gripping the back of shirt and hooking an arm around his neck to avoid being dropped into the ocean.
"Hey! Goldilocks!" Wakka called as he strode up the beach toward them. "When you're done being a kind and loving gentleman to your girlfriend there, how about giving me a hand up here at the village with a few things!"
Tidus stopped swinging Yuna over the water and set her down gently on her feet. "What is it with everyone calling me that? Is there a reason for it, or have you people never seen blond hair before?"
Yuna swept a strand of thin, brown hair behind her ear that the breeze lifted into her eyes. "You've never heard the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?" Realization hit her. "If you can't remember Shuyin's past, you probably can't remember his childhood either."
"She's a little girl in a children's story, ya?" Wakka informed him with a chuckle. "And since you're having to rely on a bunch of girls to protect you from fiends ..."
"Very funny." Tidus squinted one eye shut into the sun and patiently wiped the salt water from his arms before wringing out the hem of his Besaid shirt. "You know a smart man would enjoy being surrounded by three women on a long road trip. ... Well, except when they kick him out of the hot spring into the freezing wind and snow."
"Heh." Wakka chuckled. "A smart man would know not to say something like that in front of the one woman who could send him packing."
Tidus looked at Yuna, who lifted her chin and began tapping her fingers on her arm. "He's right, you know. You're pretty vicious now. Do I really want to travel with you any more?" He lightly scratched his chin as if rethinking this decision.
"So, Goldilocks, you going to make yourself useful and help me back at the village? Or you gonna bum around all day on the beach?" Wakka asked again.
"Well, I'm definitely not going to help until you stop calling me that." Tidus squinted into the sun again, as he crossed his arms defiantly and stood his ground.
Wakka got in Tidus's face. "You gonna make me?"
"Seven to nothing, old man."
"Who are you calling old, little girl. I'll sweep the beach with you tonight." Wakka turned and walked away. "I'll put you on diaper patrol, that's what - now that's scary work, right there!" he called as he strode back up the beach toward the road to the village.
"He doesn't realize it yet, but I've got all the time in the world now to whip him back into shape." Tidus gave Yuna a mischievous grin.
Yuna laughed lightly and turned to head back to the airship. "Well, don't hurt him too badly, okay?" She stopped with a small yelp, when her long braid pulled taut behind her. He was holding onto it again.
Tidus grinned and closed the short distance between them, but then his grin faded in slight embarrassment as he toyed lightly with the fluff of hair at the end of her braid. "Will you tell me the story of Goldilocks when I come back?"
Yuna smiled at the child-like innocence of the request. "I have lots of stories I can tell you. In fact, I should make spheres of all the stories I can think of to put in the new library at Zanarkand, so that they don't become lost. Our stories are part of our collective knowledge in a different way. They don't just represent who we are, but also who we hope to be, ... kind of like our dreams."
Tidus liked that explanation. He smiled, kissed her lightly, and then released her braid. Wading back into the deeper water, he picked up the blitzball. "Bonfire tonight, ... on the beach then. Okay?"
"I'll be waiting ... right here," she promised him, as he had promised her when he remained behind on the edge of the Farplane.
"I'd better go see what Wakka wants in the village," he called over his shoulder as he jogged up the white sand on the beach. "I guess I have to be nice to him before I cream him tonight on the beach, so I can coach his sad little team!"
Yuna chuckled lightly to herself and shielded her eyes from the sun to watch him disappear from her view down the road to the village. She dug her toes into the cool, wet sand beneath her feet and felt the pull of the tide wash some of it away, but she was confident this time that he had not really disappeared. He would return to her again and again. "Now it's our story."
I would like to thank all of you who left reviews during the original version's posting five years ago and those who wrote or left messages during my year's absence from this account. Your support and encouragement reminded me why I enjoyed writing in the first place - to imagine, to explore, to have fun, to entertain. My readers are my inspiration. The best-written story in the world is worth nothing if there are no readers to appreciate it.
If you are new to my Final Fantasy fan-fiction series, thanks for taking the time to check it out. And if you enjoyed this one, "Spira's Sphere" is the sequel, which I will be uploading next.