Chapter 43: Home

The souls of the Farplane remained clustered around the family and friends of the two newcomers as word passed around that Tidus was fading. This had been obvious to any spirit aware of him and his unique predicament for the past two years, but it came as a sad shock to Lenne. She knew how Yuna would have felt if she knew. "You mean … he's fading from the Farplane? I thought souls lasted forever in here."

Kaila winced, as if trying to explain this was going to be difficult at best. "Normally they do. But Tidus's soul is part of Shuyin. He's not a copy. Tidus lived and died as Shuyin. He just doesn't know it. He knows he's not real, but he still thinks he's a completely new person - and in many ways he is. He's proved that to us more than enough times."

"His body was made of illusion magic, and he has altered memories and new experiences – experiences that make him different from you," Bahamut explained to Shuyin. "But the Farplane reclaimed his physical substance almost as soon as he came here. And over the past two years, it's claimed most of his earliest memories, too – even some of the ones we gave him. He's fighting to hang onto more recent ones, though. We're not sure what will happen when all his memories dissolve, but we think his soul could become an empty shell with no knowledge of who he used to be."

Lenne saddened even more. "Like having amnesia or being brain dead?"

Her little brother nodded. "Something like that. For all we know, his soul might even melt away if it has no sense of self holding it together. It might be possible to save him if we merge him back into Shuyin to make both of them whole again, but that might also destroy him. Once he has access to Shuyin's memories, it might be as if Tidus never existed."

Shuyin put a hand to his chest, not certain he wanted to attempt an experiment like that. "Are you sure? Because when I talk to myself, I don't want to hear myself talk back, you know?"

Bahamut shrugged. "That's just it. I'm not sure. We've never done anything like this before."

"Will something happen to me if we're not merged back together?"

"I don't know. Nothing changed for you when he was created, right? However, everything has changed for him since he was sent." Bahamut studied Shuyin's expression before continuing. "Since it's your soul, it should be your decision what happens to him now. You don't have to decide anything right away. Just know that his memories are slowly fading, … and that's all he's got that makes him Tidus, instead of you." Bahamut gave a sympathetic sigh. "Also, there's Yuna. She would like to see him again, if we could find a way … somehow."

Shuyin's gaze returned to the collection of pyreflies overhead. "Does she love him?"

"Very much so," Lenne answered for Yuna, as she watched the little flecks of magic-trapped memories orbiting their tiny sun.

"And does he love her?"

Kaila saddened. "You have to ask? He let go of himself to protect her. He knew ending the dream would end his own existence, but he helped bring it to an end anyway for her sake, … and his friends, … and his father, … and us."

Shuyin lowered his chin to meet her meaningful gaze. "It's not just a passing fling."

Kaila was happy that he remembered their discussion about that, but sad that this was how it manifested for Tidus. "He's chosen this half-baked state of existence, when fading into nothingness could end his misery. We don't know if he's still here because he's waiting for her to join him, or if it's because he still hopes there's a way back. It's hard to communicate with him like this. But his essence is still in there … somewhere."

Shuyin looked to Lenne, who looked back at him as if there was only one obvious answer. "You have to send him back," he told Bahamut and Kaila.

"But, he's part of your soul," Bahamut warned. "If he doesn't rest, your sleep may never be very deep. It could mean a very long eternity for you."

"An eternity without sleep beats spending an eternity separated from the person you love. Always searching … I've been there already. I know what that's like." Shuyin gave his head a shake. "Yuna understood better than I thought. Please, ... send him back to her. I owe her for what she's given me." He looked to Lenne and felt her fingers lace between his own as she smiled back at him.

Bahamut was pleased Shuyin felt that way about it. "Then the only thing holding us back is that we don't know how to do it."

Lenne released Shuyin's hand to pace a few steps back and forth among the moon flowers. "He was originally made from illusion magic – memories – right? If it's anything like summoning aeons, maybe I could give it a try."

The boy glanced to Lord Braska, remembering their discussion, and shook his head. "If the illusion made in here is to be carried out there, it needs to be done by someone who exists in the material and spirit realms at the same time – someone like Sin." His gaze shifted to Shuyin. "Or you."

Shuyin's eyes narrowed with suspicion, and he pointed to himself. "Me?"

Surprised, but amused, Lenne pulled his pointed gesture away from his own face and patted his hand. "Blitzball player by day; summoner by night … Looks like maybe I wasn't the only one moonlighting?"

His brief smirk easily fell to shame. "Hardly."

"I'm talking about my dark aeon," Bahamut hesitantly reminded him.

"Yeah, I … know." Shuyin scratched his nose and sighed.

"You're the one who turned him against Yuna?" Lenne quietly asked.

It killed him to see the disappointment in her eyes. "I'm -"

She placed her fingers over his lips to stop the apology before he could say it. "It doesn't matter now. It's over. How can we use it to help her?"

Shuyin pulled her hand from his mouth. "You don't want me helping Yuna. The magic I used to summon the dark aeons isn't even real summoning magic. It's force. It's ..." He didn't know how to describe it because he didn't know how he came to have that ability.

Kaila crouched and ran a hand over the tops of the moon flowers stirring up some lazy pyreflies. "Shuyin, did you ever touch Sin?"

"Once. I bumped into it near Bevelle when it was drawing souls to join it, but … that wasn't what I wanted." He crouched in front of her. "You think that's where the dark magic came from?"

"And the dark feelings," Bahamut agreed. "You used to feel like raw emotion, but you must have shed the toxin when you came here." He lightly patted the top of Shuyin's head. "I don't feel anything like that around you now."

"Without Sin's toxin, can you still use the magic?" Kaila picked one of the moon flowers.

"I don't know. Honestly, … I'm a little afraid to try."

"The toxin that taints your soul is still in you," a voice spoke from the outer circle of the gathered souls. "It's just calm in this place of rest." Everyone looked up in shock as the outer circle parted to allow High Summoner Yu Yevon through. "The toxin has fortified your spirit, allowing it to travel through reality in ways that most spirits cannot. Your ability to possess other souls will work regardless of which plane you exist on. However, you won't last long in the material world without a living host before you're banished back here. And only a living soul, or an unsent one with a living shell, is capable of summoning life back into reality." As Yevon came to stand before Shuyin and Lenne's inner circle of friends and family, Shuyin and Kaila straightened, and Lenne offered a flustered bow out of habit. The glen became silent except for the eerie sounds of pyreflies drifting about.

Yevon scanned the wary expressions on everyone's faces, then greeted Lenne with a polite bow of his own. "Perhaps I am the last person you'd want to see here, welcoming you home, but I never got to commend you for your service to Zanarkand during the war. I've been listening to this discussion with much interest, and I think I can help," he said to everyone gathered. "I know of a way around your dilemma. It involves a spell similar to that used when summoning the Final Aeon."

Shuyin frowned and folded his arms in a defiant manner. "Yeah? Well, maybe we don't want your help." Beside him, even Lenne looked skeptical about the High Summoner's intentions now.

Yevon met their unhappy frowns with a wan smile. "Understandable. Your faith in me was … undeserved. I failed both of you, and I humbly apologize for letting you down. But I truly was trying to save as many people as I could. I made the mistake of allowing myself to become blinded by frustration and hate in the process."

A snarky insult nearly slipped from Shuyin's tongue, but he caught it when he realized he couldn't say anything to Yevon about his past that wouldn't also boomerang back on himself. Annoyed that all he could do was be annoyed, Shuyin settled for an angry snort as a response.

"If you choose not to trust me," Yevon continued. "I will leave. But each of you played a role in freeing me from my madness, … especially that little experimental illusion and Lady Yuna." He glanced up to Tidus's pyreflies, then back down to Lenne. "I can think of no better way to show my gratitude than to help him live again, if that's what they both want."

"We want to give life, not take it or trade it." It was the first time Lenne had confronted the man about his plans for her since learning the truth about them a thousand years ago.

"Of course. Allow me to explain. You know that the bond between the summoner and the guardian is very special. It's the same kind of bond allows a soul to become a Fayth - a voluntary willingness to trust and serve. But an aeon of great power, such as the one granted at the Zanarkand shrine, requires a very strong bond of trust between a summoner and guardian because only a pure desire to protect one another can draw two souls together through death and back to life to fight as one. The guardian voluntarily allows the summoner to possess him, fortifying his aeon's body and guiding his actions. The summoner voluntarily surrenders his own physical body to do so." Yevon's gaze rested on Braska and Jecht.

"What he says is true," Braska confirmed against the doubting looks among their company.

"And then they both die," Jecht grumbled at his former captor.

Yevon pursed his lips and nodded in acceptance of the blitzball player's anger. "I am willing to stand before your judge and jury to explain more about that another time. But in this case, you don't want to create anything new, so no one will have to die. You just want to throw the creation you already have out there into the real world. But it needs someone strong enough to pull it through from the other side – someone that wants it to be real. If the bond between Lady Yuna and her guardian is as strong as you say it is – if it is as strong as the bond of the Final Summoning - her living soul can act as a lightning rod to his. Nothing more."

"Yuna … won't be hurt?" Braska asked with caution.

"And he won't be turned into an aeon?" Jecht remained doubtful.

"Neither of them will be hurt," Yevon promised. "This is not that kind of spell. It only resembles it because it requires a very strong bond of trust to dissolve the boundary between life and death. Without this spell, all you are giving them is a pyrefly illusion – a ghost. They would not be able to touch because he would still be bound inside the flow of magic."

"How do we get her to summon him?" Lenne asked, not sure she understood. "We can't go to her anymore."

"If her desire to be with him again is strong enough, it becomes an act of summoning in itself. If his will to live is strong enough, and he is able to sense her thoughts and feelings, he may be strong enough to pull himself through the portal, … with a little push from us. All we need is a location close to her, a lot of pyreflies, a portal into reality, and someone who can go to her to set up the lightning rod." He turned to face Shuyin.

"And of course you stick me with the lightning rod," he muttered in response. "Lucky me."

"I think it's worth a try," Lenne decided and looked aroudn to see if anyone else was in agreement.

"But I don't know how to do this kind of magic," Shuyin complained.

"Then do your own kind of magic, and leave the summoning to us. You are connected to him in a way no one else can be. You have to deliver his message, since he cannot deliver it himself." Yevon told him.

Lenne's expression lit with a sudden smile. "I know how you can do it! I know how you can reach Yuna." She turned to Kaila and gestured to the moon flower that she held. "May I?"

Kaila nodded and passed the magical flower to Lenne.

"Speak to her using my sphere." Lenne passed the flower to Shuyin. "And give her this."

))((

Valefor led the way through the streams of magic flowing away from the Farplane into the ocean among the sunken ruins off the coast of Besaid. "I don't see it right now, but Yuna lives on an airship that is usually parked here on the beach. Wherever she's gone to, I'm sure the airship will come back to this spot when she comes home."

Shuyin looked at the canopy of saltwater above them. He admired the way the sun danced and sparkled over the surface of the water, casting beams of ethereal light through the ruins and onto the sand. "You know what I'm thinking?" He grinned at Lenne as he swam toward a crumbled tower full of red and blue coral, black seaweed, and tiny yellow, purple, and pink fish. "I'm thinking this would make a good fixer-upper to replace the houseboat. It's a little late to get flood insurance, and the monkey would drown, but ..."

Lenne laughed as she looked into one of the barnacle-encrusted windows. "But the view is spectacular, right?" she said as the school of colorful fish swam by.

High Summoner Yevon looked at the ruins with a sigh. "This was my doing. It used to be a beach resort city. I hope Besaid can rebuild someday. Until then, this is a good a location for the portal. Lenne, would you help Yunalesca gather the Fayth and volunteer summoners into a circle."

Lenne smiled at Shuyin and gave him a kiss as she swam away to help do one last communal summoning for Yuna's sake. He loved the way her long hair flowed around her like that. Once again, it reminded him of a mermaid, … which reminded him of their trip to the hot spring, … which made him smile.

"Kaila and Bahamut." Yevon turned to them. "I need you to start working on some pyreflies." Summoning his staff, he cast a magical glyph in the center of the circle that was forming. "With a little help, of course." Placing a hand on her head, he cast the same spell over her that allowed her to construct memories out of pyreflies in the dream."

Kaila was happy to swim into the glowing symbol and begin summoning her memories back into a semi-solid illusion. "Tidus?" she called with a soft voice that echoed through the plane of magic. Pyreflies began streaming toward her from various directions, followed by a little nucleus of light. Bahamut then drew upon his own summoning magic to fold the scattered memories around the soul and into the image.

Shuyin watched in silent fascination as his friends recreated a new version of him – Abes uniform and all. He moved into the circle for a closer look, when Yevon caught his arm and pulled him back.

"You are the lightning rod. Once I open the portal, we won't have much time."

Shuyin nodded, remembering his task. A lightning rod draws lightning toward it, so that it doesn't strike somewhere it's not wanted. Tidus needed Yuna's undivided attention if this was going to work. Shuyin knew what he had to do. He just didn't know how.

With the initial illusion finished, Kaila and Bahamut examined him once more to make sure nothing was amiss. Then, they joined the circle with the other summoners and Fayth. All spirits in the circle joined hands to draw a greater multitude of pyreflies - so many that the illusion itself would not be able to distinguish magic from reality. As the illusion's body became more dense, Yu Yevon stepped forward, lifted his summoning staff, and nodded to Shuyin. Then, he began to dance. The summoners and Fayth in the circle began to dance around him. It was a sending dance, but it was being done in reverse.

Wasting no more time, Shuyin broke away from the other spirits and sped down the stream of magic toward the beach. To anyone watching, it would have looked like one stray pyrefly suddenly swam away from an unusually active group of other pyreflies. But no one on the beach was paying any attention to the current of pyreflies in the ocean depths. Shuyin was trying to think of the best way he could hop around in the real world, and he knew he found the vehicle he was looking for when a blitzball plunged into the water, but then slowly floated back to the surface. As soon as the owner of the ball came swimming toward it, Shuyin cast his magic.

Wakka grabbed the ball, but then turned toward Lulu, who was sitting on the beach letting Vidina play in the sand. "Hey, Lu! Where's Yuna?"

Lulu looked up from casting a shield over the baby to protect his fair skin from the sun. "She said she was going to Luca today, remember? New Yevon, The Youth League, and The Machine Guild announced they were holding a public conference at the stadium."

"Yeah, but would she be on the airship or just walking around somewhere?"

"How would I know?"

"Okay, do you know where she keeps her sphere of Tidus?"

"What?"

"Oh wait! Lenne said it was in a drawer somewhere! Nevermind. Thanks!" Shuyin withdrew his magic from Wakka's mind.

Lulu blinked at Wakka as if he'd lost it. "Lenne who?"

Wakka had no idea why she would be asking such a thing. "I don't know. Who's Lenne?"

"That's what I'm asking you. And what do you want with Yuna's sphere?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Are you feeling okay?"

"Of course! Why wouldn't I be?" He swam back to the shore. "I'm not the one asking weird questions, ya? Crazy woman …"

Shuyin snickered to himself as he sped down the magical current in the water toward Luca. When he reached the docks, the red airship was easy to find. Modern Spira had so few air machina. In Zanarkand, many machina also had magic powering them in some way. Shuyin hoped this was one of those machina.

Swimming through the stream of magic, toward the landing gear, he flowed from the stream of magic into the machina's inner circuitry, then sped through the airship's construct and wires. He got shocked multiple times when the magic flow broke off in one place and picked up in another, and he cursed Yevon's lightning rod idea with each zap; but he hung on tenaciously as he raced through the levels, until he found the deck that looked like the ship's bridge.

"Hey, what's wrong with this scanner?" Buddy complained, giving his monitor an annoyed smack. The sudden static and black-outs usually meant another part needed replacing, and he was in no mood for emergency maintenance.

"Brother!" Yuna's voice came through the speakers. "It's time to go home!"

"Then prepare for lift-off!" Brother exclaimed from his pilot seat. The airship rumbled as the engines kicked in.

From within Buddy's scanner, Shuyin cast his magic. "Hey, Yuna? Where are you?"

"Top deck with Paine and Rikku."

"Top deck? That's too windy for pyreflies," Buddy fussed.

"We want to enjoy the ride!" she happily answered.

"Great! First I get electrocuted, and now I'm going to get blown away. Next time I open the portal and he gets to set up the lightning rod," Buddy growled unhappily and jumped from his seat to run to the lift.

Brother and Shinra blinked in dismay at Buddy's exit. Shinra stood to check the monitor, which seemed to be working perfectly.

))((

After Vegnagun's defeat, the three faction leaders that had gone missing returned and arranged to hold a joint conference in the Luca stadium that was open to all factions' members and the general public. Their aim was to demonstrate their own unification in hopes of mending the political fracturing they had caused since the beginning of the Eternal Calm. Then, all three of them bowed in apology to the people of Spira who believed in them.

"Somehow we forgot." Baralai's voice echoed throughout Luca as his image displayed on the large screens along the central walkway. "There's a much larger ship out there. One we've been riding ever since we were born. That ship is Spira." (1)

The crowds cheered and applauded. Of course, few people knew the literal truth behind his statement and all that machina under Bevelle, but that was a secret New Yevon needed to keep for now.

"No one knows just where our voyage will lead us. But we do know one thing." Nooj looked to his buddies, and a rare smile touched his lips. "One way or another, we will get by. We'll go on living. The Calm will continue," he assured the stadium full of people.

There were more cheers and applause.

"Just one more thing." Gippal bent to the microphone. "We all owe thanks to a very special lady." He milked the crowd for a few more cheers for a moment. "Yeah, you all know who I'm talking about. We really hoped that she could be here today. She left a message. She said she's going home. So farewell, but not goodbye."

He had no sooner said it than all three heads turned to watch the airship Celsius rise high above Luca and shoot off into the bright blue sky toward Besaid.

))((

"Brother! Higher!" Yuna's voice came through the speakers within the ship's lower deck.

"Rogeru!" Brother's voice answered.

Buddy ignored their fun as he ran into the cabin and up the stairs to Yuna's bed. Quickly, he began pulling open drawers and sifting through them. Then, after a few minutes, he suddenly stopped because he had the feeling he was being watched. Turning around revealed no one, but adjusting his line of sight down, he found Shinra staring up at him.

The Al Bhed boy shook his head. "I'm going to pretend I didn't see this. It's a sad statement about your need for a holiday. Brother sent me to tell you to get back to your chair. The scanner is working fine now."

Buddy rolled his eyes at how this must have looked. "Wait. Yuna wants her sphere of Tidus, but she didn't tell me which drawer she keeps it in."

"Whichever one has a keepsake box, of course. Where else would a girl keep something like that?" Shinra shook his head again and walked away.

"Keepsake box." Buddy fumbled with the drawers again until he found the small chest at the back of one of them. He pulled a lacy bra away from it, paused to remind himself he shouldn't be lingering with the thing, then set the chest on Yuna's bed and quickly opened it. Removing the sphere, he touched the activation button. Shuyin didn't have to watch the whole thing because seeing himself talking to her was weird enough to confirm it was the right one. Setting the sphere on her pillow, Shuyin released his magic hold on Buddy.

Buddy was clearly confused about what he was doing near Yuna's bed, especially since Yuna was not around. But his only witness seemed to be a single pyrefly hovering near the sphere.

Shuyin watched Buddy make a hasty retreat from the strange experience, then reached into his pocket and removed the moon flower. He started to place it beside the sphere, but then realized the magical flower wouldn't last if he left it unprotected like that. Instead, Shuyin's fingers passed through the glass sphere to place the flower inside it. The magical water from Lake Macalania might be able to preserve it.

Now that he had no living host or magical current to flow in, however, Shuyin knew his time in reality would start ticking down. On his way through the lift to seek out Yuna, he found her and her friends coming down from the top deck. Grateful that she was no longer in the blustery wind, the pyrefly slipped unnoticed into Yuna's sphere grid and then his strong energy reached through it into her mind. "Yuna … Come to the beach. I'll be waiting for you." Message delivered, Shuyin released the dress sphere, slipped back through the ship's circuitry, and fell into the sky. He still had one more task to do.

))((

On the upper deck, Yuna had been thinking of how Tidus's sphere had led to this grand adventure. She had been wishing she could tell him about it, since he hadn't been there to experience it. But hearing his voice in her mind like that … Was she imagining it? No. It couldn't have been imagined. His voice had been close and strong, as if he was there, speaking directly to her. "Oh my gosh! Tidus!" Leaving Rikku and Paine with questioning looks on their faces, Yuna broke into a run for the bridge.

"Brother! Buddy! Shinra! Have any of you picked up any unusual signals from Besaid's beach? Anything at all?"

"No, but ..." Shinra cast a slanted glance toward Buddy. "If you want unusual signals, you might want to check your drawers."

Buddy broke into a nervous sweat. "Why would she want to do that? She's looking for a sphere in the scanners, right?"

"Sphere? My sphere!" Yuna turned and raced back down the hall to the lift.

"What's -"

"Yunie?"

"Sorry! No time!" Yuna apologized to Paine and Rikku, shutting the doors on them. As soon as the lift settled on the lower deck and opened again, Yuna raced through the cabin and up the stairs to her bed. She was stunned to see her drawers turned out, but even more stunned to see her sphere of Tidus was out of its box and on her pillow. Her heart nearly stopped, however, when she picked it up to find a single flower from the Farplane glen within its glass.

"I can't promise anything, but we'll do what we can," Bahamut had told her.

Feeling as if she could barely catch her breath, Yuna dropped the sphere on the bed and ran back to the lift. As soon the doors opened to the engine room, she rushed to the window. "Faster, Brother! Hurry!" Still above the clouds it was impossible to see anything below, but she knew he was down there. "Open the hatch!"

"It would be helpful if we landed first, yes?" Brother's voice came over the speakers.

"Yunie, what's going on?" Rikku took over the link, sounding almost as excited as Yuna.

"He's here! He's back! Just open the hatch!" She anxiously ran to the closed exit ramp.

))((

Shuyin flew back to the summoning circle as fast as he could. Yevon's portal burned through the stream of magic into the ocean itself. With no time to waste, Shuyin grabbed Jecht and Auron as he swept over them. "Come on! Help me push him through before it closes!" The three of them snatched the illusion and swam with him to the portal releasing him into the pyreflies of the ruins.

Swirling around the reborn illusion one last time, Shuyin cast his magic, but only briefly touched his twin soul's mind before letting him go. "Wake up. She's waiting for you." The lightning rod connected. Yevon's spell ignited with a flash of stormy spirit magic. When the bubbles, lightning, and pyreflies cleared, their illusion was gone.

))((

Sensation ... He could hear the waves of the ocean, dull and far-reaching beyond him. With only a moment of initial hesitation, Tidus lifted his chin and found that the could move again. Giving his small body a big stretch overdue from a long hibernation, he grinned at the feeling of the cold, salty water on his skin once more. There was sunlight up above, so he swam toward it. Breaking the surface, he filled his lungs with air for the first time in two years. Treading water, he turned around to see where he was. Besaid ...

He had no idea how or why he arrived. He only knew he was glad to be back. After giving a loud, shrill whistle to let Yuna know he was here, he smiled at the warmth of the sun on his face and lay back in the water to watch the clouds pass while he waited to be found. Less than a second later, he decided he had waited long enough and swam for the shore.

As he waded through the shallow tide toward the beach, however, he heard a distant roar in the sky and behind him. What the ...? He squinted into the sun to see it better. An airship … An airship he didn't recognize … An airship he didn't recognize that was moving so fast it looked like it was going to run him over in a few seconds! Too stunned to run, he tried to shield himself with his arms as it swooshed down over him, blowing wind and water in a turbulent spray. But when he heard machina grinding and realized he was still standing, he turned around to see someone running down the opening hatch. Yuna leaped into the water before the ship could even touch the ground. Tidus was surprised by her arrival, but congratulated himself on an exceptionally well-done whistle.

Yuna crashed into him with a full-body hug that nearly plowed him backwards. Tidus wrapped his arms around her, both of them refusing to give up the embrace.

"Are you … the real thing?" she asked, afraid to hear the answer, afraid let him go. (2)

He felt real enough, however, they had both been fooled once before by his surreal existence. "Maybe." His soft response reflected his uncertainty. The memory of fading from reality was still too fresh to take anything for granted.

Yuna reluctantly released her hold on his neck to step back and survey him. Hesitantly, she placed her palms over his chest and gave a light press. Her hands didn't pass through him this time.

Tidus was relieved to feel her touch. His clothing felt cold and wet, and his skin felt warm, already beginning to dry a bit. But he couldn't trust his own senses to know whether he was real or not. Did he even look like himself anymore? He couldn't tell if she was disappointed with what she saw. "Do I pass?" he asked, his brows rising with a measure of worry.

"Mh." Yuna nodded with smile of approval. "You're back."

"I'm back." A wave of emotion nearly overwhelmed him as he pulled her to his chest, wrapping one arm over her shoulders and the other around her waist. "I'm home," he repeated in a grateful, broken voice. Burying his face into the base of her neck, he struggled to stay in control over the tears that were forming, even if they were tears of joy.

Yuna closed her eyes and allowed herself to be wholly engulfed in his embrace once more. "Welcome home."

))((

With the reverse-sending rites over, the spirits commended each other for their success and began their flight back through the stream of magic to the Farplane to rest once more.

"Thank you," Lenne told Yevon as the High Summoner started to go.

"Glad to be of help." He nodded and looked to Shuyin. "I guess I'm starting to figure things out now." With a small smile, the ancient summoner's pyreflies dispersed and he went on his way.

"See you back in the glen!" Jecht called to his son. With waves, he, his wife, and his friends were gone.

"Thank you. Both of you." Kaila gave Shuyin and Lenne hugs. "Rest," she sternly reminded him with an accusing finger, as she pulled away and disappeared.

Lenne chuckled lightly and looked to Shuyin as if waiting for him to defy the order.

"So, ... what do we now?" he asked, turning to her.

Lenne laughed at the expected answer and slipped her hand into his as they swam through the stream of magic back toward the Farplane. "Now, we can rest."

"But that sounds so boring," he complained. "I got a little brother now. I say we go pick on him. That's what little brothers are for, right?" He reached to give Bahamut's head a scrub since he swam along beside them.

Bahamut grinned. It was good to have the real Shuyin back. Then he raced ahead of them, leaving them alone.

"We could haunt him, you know? I could go out there and hide his blitzball or something. I could make his reflection pull funny faces at him in the mirror, or put words in his mouth that he shouldn't say, or make him have funky dreams so that he talks in his sleep or wakes up with drool running down his chin. This could be really fun."

Lenne laughed at his prank ideas, but then her laughter became softened by unexpected tears.

"Hey, ..." Shuyin drew near in apology. "I was just kidding. If you want me to sleep the deep sleep, I'll sleep, okay? Promise."

Lenne dried her eyes. "Shuyin, if you're not ready to rest, I'll go wherever you want to go. It's just … I never got to tell you how much I love you before all this happened."

"Yes, you did. I understood."

She touched his cheek. "It's so nice to see you smile again, ... to know that it's really you." Laying her head and hands on his chest, she smiled, too. "Welcome home, Shuyin."

Drawing his arms around her, he rested his cheek against her forehead and closed his eyes with a sigh of contentment. "I'm home."

))((

"Every man has his follies - and often they are the most interesting thing he has got." - Josh Billings

The End

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Author's Note:

1) This line from Baralai about Spira being a ship is what inspired the first story in this series and the whole idea that their world might be made of machina. I just find it very ironic that a church that forbids technology would have so much technology underneath it – even down in the Farplane.

2) I had originally just cut and pasted Tidus and Yuna's reunion scene from my "Spira's Dream" story, but I decided to revamp it a bit and keep it from Tidus's perspective. The dialog is my translation of the Japanese version. I chose the switch because, again, I prefer the emotion that comes across in his Japanese actor's voice. (Yes, I realize no one else might share my dilemma hearing two voice actors in my head and having to choose one over the over.) ^_^ But also because I wanted to add a note on two phrases: "okaeri" and "tadaima". I sooooo wish there was a better way to translate these! Basically, they mean "welcome home" and "I'm home" (or "welcome back" and "I'm back"). But they mean so much more than that here. In Japan, these phrases are used as family members come and go from home. For Yuna and Tidus to exchange them under these circumstances means they both feel this is where he has family – this is where he belongs. He really says "Tadaima" twice in his dialog, but I broke it into two different translations to try to stress the intimacy felt the second time he says it. I noticed the English version did the same thing. Just a little background on this scene's dialog if you didn't already know.

I would like to thank all those who left reviews during the original version's posting, and for those who leave reviews for this current post. Thanks for reading! Your kind words and encouragement are very much appreciated. ^_^ I will take a short break for some reading and other projects that need finishing, and then I will begin revision and upload of the final story in this series. It's called "Spira's Revenge". It picks up where "Spira's Sphere" left off, but events from this story are also relative to that one.

M'jai~