AN: Heyyy people :) I'm new to this, and while I welcome constructive criticism please don't be too harsh!
So this is my own version of X-3, set about twenty years after the ending of X-2. I wanted to have a brief intro with all the character's about their lives and families, but it would have made the first chapter stupidly long so I've settled for each family getting a chapter to themselves. Either way, this one is pretty lengthy in itself (at least I think it is…) We've been recently working on English Lit coursework on analysing descriptive language, which I've tried incorporating here and in other random mini projects I work on, but I dunno if it worked… ;) so please do drop me a review and let me know what you think!
To put it briefly (and I promise it will be explained further in later on); The Youth League, The Machine Faction and New Yevon are working in tandem twenty years on, but a new organisation has emerged with an apparent willingness to help out, but no one can quite figure out what their angle is, and it's up to the next generation to figure it out and solve the problems that arise before things can get out of hand. This summary is terrible but I don't want to give too much away yet... ;)
Also, there is a character I edited into the first two games in my mind and she's mentioned briefly here, but she will make an appearance in the next few chapters. If you want drop me a message and I can put a little synopsis of her character in my profile to clarify the confusion from my disorganisation xD
Disclaimer: I do not in anyway shape or form own the copyrights to Final Fantasy X/X-2, including original plots and characters and so on. I do however own anything that does not appear in the original game.
The first thing Yuna was aware of was that the sun was high enough in the sky to slant through the window and strike her sleeping husband in the face. She knew this because the weight on the bed shifted and a moment later he was snuggling up against her back, his cheek pressed against the dip between her shoulder blades, and he grunted something inaudible before settling again.
"It's just some light," she told him, expecting either another grunt or a snore as a response.
"Mmph!" Tidus protested. "S'too early in the morning for light…"
Yuna couldn't help but smile, and opened her eyes to check the time on the little alarm clock perched in the alcove beside their bed. "We should probably get up now," she said, attempting to sit up. "Last day, today!"
"No…" he groaned, grabbing her around the waist and forcing her back onto the bed. "Sleep…"
"Tidus…" she rolled her eyes and tried to coax him out of bed. "You can't skip the last day of school,"
"Watch me…" he mumbled, his head nestled against her stomach as she struggled to disentangle herself from his arms.
"You're being ridiculous!" she swatted him away, all to no effect.
"Hey!" he sat bolt upright when she tweaked his ear painfully between her thumb and forefinger, before she jumped off the bed. He tried and failed to grab her wrist, but he missed her by miles. "Get back here!"
"Up!" she insisted, tugging at the bed covers. "The sooner the day starts the sooner it can end,"
"Can't I just skip the whole thing and go back to sleep?" he whined, rolling over so he had his back to her and huddled in a defiant ball. "I didn't get back till late last night cause Wakka decided we all had to go out celebrate before the actual end of the year. Blame him,"
"No breakfast for you then," Yuna said simply, gracefully sitting down on the edge of the bed and smiling at the opposite wall.
While Tidus struggled with the conflicting urges to sleep and to eat, Yuna studied their small room, which was typical of most Besaid homes; it was small and circular, with a domed ceiling above set with a skylight that was covered with a rush mat. The slightly flatter wall, which she was currently facing, was tacked on to the main part of the building, and to the left of their room was their two daughter's room, which was also built as a sort of 'pod' alongside the rooms of the house. It was still a relatively new way of building homes, and compared to the houses in places like Kilika and Luca, they were incredibly small. But, since the inhabitants of the town spent the majority of their time outside, it didn't really matter so much.
Yuna loved their tiny little room; it was so warm and cosy. There was no wardrobe, so instead they hung their clothes on a pole across the corner made by the bunker type bed set into the outer wall. They also had a small chest of drawers, which doubled as a dressing table, with an oversized mirror perched on top amid a sea of objects they had collected over the years: seashells, jewellery, a hairbrush and comb, Yuna's make up, and a selection of photo frames. As well as this, the outer edge of the mirror was plastered with photos of their friends and family. Her absolute favourite one was the one taken just over a year ago; herself, Tidus, and their three children on the banks of the Moon Flow. She remembered that spring break well; they'd gone to Djose to see the light festival, and made a detour to the Moon Flow before heading home. It still brought a smile to her lips when she remembered the expression on her youngest daughter's face as the pyreflies rose as one into the twilit sky, like a living, seething mass of stars.
The weight shifted again, and Tidus crawled over to Yuna, wrapping his arms around her waist and leaning against her back, placing a kiss on her throat before conceding. "Fine. You win…"
Yuna struggled not to laugh at his defeated tone. "I knew you'd see things my way," she looked down at him, intending to give him a superior smirk, but instead she found herself kissing him. "Come on, those three won't get themselves up…" he at last allowed her to drag him from the safety of their bed and into the full light of the day streaming in through the window.
"You're telling me…" he muttered, yawning widely.
Leaving Tidus to his own devices, Yuna gave her hair a quick brush and threw on a dressing gown before stepping into the main living area of their house. It was a kitchen, dining room and family room all rolled into one compact but spacious sphere, with another three doors spaced at regular intervals in a semicircle along the back wall, with a door at the front, which lead to the village outside. Yuna jumped into the shower in the bathroom and had a quick wash before drying and getting changed. She met Tidus on her way back to their room, still yawning widely; Yuna smiled and threw a clean towel at him.
"It's not that early!"
"It is in my book," he grumbled, shuffling into the bathroom and closing the door behind him quietly.
Still smiling, Yuna started to get breakfast ready, and when Tidus came back out again in a cloud of steam, looking decidedly more cheerful, she left the stove to simmer while to roused the children. She always got the girls up first because they were finished with the bathroom much faster than their brother; so Yuna knocked on their door gently before opening and entering.
Their room was a bit bigger than Tidus and Yuna's, mainly because the girls liked to have their own beds to sleep in; the eldest Bayla had the bed on the floor, tucked away into the side of the room with its foot facing the inner wall, while the younger girl Dekan Memo, or Deka as she preferred to be known as, had the bed above that lay adjacent to the outer wall. Both beds over lapped at the head, with about four of five feet distance between them. With the space that the top bunk gave below, they could fit a small wardrobe in, which both girls shared without argument or complaint. On either side of the room from the door was a desk with cabinets surrounding them, both stylised to each of the occupants' desires; Deka's was painted white with pale blue fish artfully dotted here and there over the old wood, and was packed full of little trinkets from far away places and half finished drawings and stories that she never had the patience to finish.
Bayla's unit, on the other hand, was painted to resemble the jungle, in varying shades of green with stylised animals hiding in the undergrowth. This in turn was concealed in many places by the sheer number of photographs and pictures tacked to the wood; there had to be an image of every place in Spira affixed to this unit. Bayla herself was still fast asleep, tucked up in her bed, as was Deka.
Yuna felt no guilt whatsoever when she pushed the blinds back from the skylight and the window above Bayla's head before shaking her awake.
"Wake up, sweetheart," she said with a smile when Bayla tried to burrow deeper under her blanket.
"Five more minutes…" she begged.
"Come on! We're having omelettes for breakfast,"
"I'm up," Deka crawled to the end of her bed and slide down the ladder. "I'll go use the shower first," she yawned once, quite widely, before shaking her messy blonde hair from her eyes. "Morning, mom…" she added as an after thought.
Yuna smiled and kissed her daughter good morning before she bustled off towards the bathroom. Turning her attention back to Bayla, Yuna grabbed the top of the duvet and unceremoniously tore it from the bed. She got a filthy look from her daughter before she dragged herself out of bed and over to her desk where her hairbrush lay.
"I'm up! Happy now?"
"Yes," Yuna smiled, giving her eldest child a hug and kissing her cheek.
Bayla merely rolled her eyes and started brushing her long, chocolate brown hair. She was a stunningly pretty girl, and in a couple of years time she'd be a beautiful young woman, if she wasn't already; Bayla favoured her mother more than her father, although she'd been the spitting image of Tidus when she was about five – then her pretty blonde hair had grown progressively darker until it was the same as Yuna's by the time she was ten. The only thing she still had from those early days were her bright blue, almost turquoise coloured eyes.
Deka was more like her father than Bayla; she had maintained that air about her even though her older sister had somehow grown out of it at such a young age. She had shoulder length blonde hair that had all the natural high and low lights running through it, a cheeky grin (when she was more awake) and an eye that was one third blue, two thirds green while the other eye was merely blue.
Yuna mused over these things as Bayla put her hair up in a messy ponytail and rummaged around for some clothes to wear for the day.
"Last day of the school year," she said with a smile, looking down at Bayla.
She blinked. "Oh yeah, forgot about that for a moment. Woo!" she pumped her fist into the air with a grin. "And then El's coming down to visit, and we're all going to the summer tournament in Luca! Yes!" Where Bayla lacked her father's looks, she more than made up for with his personality.
"What lessons do you have today?" Yuna asked, lifting a stone carving of a dolphin from its place on Deka's wooden desk and running a finger along its fin.
"Art and Al Bhed, which should be cut short because of the final assembly," Bayla was wide-awake now. "I can't Vid and I are leaving this year!"
"We all have to fly the nest some day," Yuna reminded her, replacing the dolphin back on its stand.
"I wish I was going this year too," Bayla said bleakly. "To go get a proper job, I mean. It's gonna be so boring without him around!"
"Vidina will come back and visit," Yuna said soothingly. "And I'm sure you can go and visit him too, once he's settled in. And there will be plenty of opportunities for you,"
Tidus stuck his head around the door and announced, "We have an extra mouth to feed this morning! Wakka's been at the stove again…"
Bayla laughed and rushed out into the main living area, still wearing her pink and purple pyjama bottoms with a white tank top. "Vid!"
Yuna stepped outside as well to find them wrestling their way to the table.
"Get off me!"
"Don't leave us, bitch! You can't just dump me with these dweebs! It's such a tiny island,"
"Okay," Tidus said in a bored tone, peeling Bayla from his godson and pushing her back towards her room. "Break it up, it's too early in the morning for fighting. Wait until after breakfast,"
Yuna laughed, and gave Vidina a hug. "Good morning!"
"Mornin'!" he grinned, shaking his bright red hair from his eyes. "Last day, ya! It's amazing," he enthused.
"Oh!" Tidus ambled over and caught the young man in strangle hold before rubbing his knuckles into his scalp. "And it feels like only yesterday you were this bouncing bundle of baby joy!"
"Hey! Get off! No- hey- Yuna, help me!"
Sadly, Yuna had to go tend to the stove and start cracking eggs, so she was unable to help. The tussle ended however when Deka left the bathroom and got changed; she piled onto the fight as well, and they all settled down onto the long sofa that ran around about a quarter of the room and started chatting about the prospect of the last day.
"I get to try out for the school blitz team next year!" Deka bounced in her seat happily.
"You'll wipe the sphere with Luca High, eh?" Vidina said with a grin, ruffling her hair so that she had to take the clip out from the back and restyle it all over again.
"I can't wait!" she grinned back up at him. "And Bayla's gonna try out for the Aurochs, too! You know, if she can't find anything else to do, but still… Then we can all play blitz together!"
Yuna smiled at the thought. She still did play blitzball, but only a little. When Vidina had been just under a year old, Baralai, Gippal and Nooj put together an initiative to establish at least one school in every major settlement across Spira, that followed the same rough guidelines and curriculum, so that every child had the same opportunity to learn. They were mostly headed by Ex-Summoners, and while Yuna declined the offer to head the school in Besaid, she was quite happy to teach art and music within its walls. The head teacher was a doddering old priest from the temple who was a wonderful person and great with the youth of the village, but wasn't an overly strong figurehead who was always in control. It was Tidus, Wakka, and a couple of other teachers who were the real driving force behind the school. Yuna barely had time for blitzball these days, but her art room was more than sufficient to keep her entertained in the mean time.
All three of her children were fans of the game, and it was her son's dream to become a professional player one day. And speaking of Zuo, he needed to get up now as Bayla would be done with the bathroom soon.
Yuna mentioned this out loud, and Tidus heaved himself to his feet. "I got this one," he assured her, and kicked the door to Zuo's room open. "Up and at'em, kiddo!"
Vidina threw his head back and laughed loudly, stopping only when Bayla swept into the room in her smartest school clothes with her hair still dripping and chucked a cushion at him. The school uniform consisted of a yellow skirt and a pale blue shirt for the girls, with black trousers and either blue or yellow shirts for the boys.
"You sound like a jackal!"
Unperturbed, he grinned and said, "Plenty of those where I'm going!"
"Did you hear back from anywhere then?" Yuna asked, flipping the omelette in the pan over. Bayla stepped up and handed her a plate before she began to set the table. Deka stood up to help as well, and Vidina dutifully followed.
"Yeah, all last night, too! I got an offer from Luca, Guadosalm and Home."
"Oh, wow!" Deka bounced as she set the glasses out for juice. "Home! That's the place you really wanted to go, isn't it?"
"Whey," Bayla said sarcastically, giving him the thumbs up. "You get to spend some quality time with my douche bag cousin. Woot,"
"Bayla," Yuna said sternly.
"Well he is!" she whined, following her like a hawk back to the stove. "There is no denying just how insufferable he is…"
"But it's not polite to point it out, ya?" Vidina said, giving her a dig in the ribs.
Vidina was, in almost every way, the spitting image of Wakka – except for his mother's eyes. He wasn't as into the 'new age' practises as the rest of his generation, preferring to stick by the old traditions upon which Yevon had been built, strictly without the element of betrayal and treachery. He had been teased a bit when he was younger over it, but he steadfastly stuck to his beliefs, and eventually people either saw him for what he truly was, which was a nice, caring, well grounded individual; or just got bored when he didn't react.
Yuna smiled when she thought about it; Vidina's age was sort of a landmark for her, because he had been just a month or so old when Tidus returned. It was hard to think it was really two decades already – and yet there Vidina stood, finally having finished his extended studies at the Temple's school and on his way into machina research.
"When are you leaving for Home?" Yuna asked, dishing up the next omelette and handing it to Deka.
"After the summer tournament. My dad's a bit off with me right now…" Vidina frowned at the thought, and Yuna's heart went out to him. Wakka hadn't been as thrilled as everyone else about him pushing off and leaving Besaid so suddenly for an extended period of time that didn't have a set end date. He had barely finished his formal education, and here he was flying the nest not weeks after…
"Well, Uncle Wakka will just have to live with it," Bayla said flippantly, thrusting a plate under his nose. "Eat. Half day today, wanna go down to the beach later?"
Yuna smiled as they sat down and tucked into breakfast; Bayla had a way of turning the conversation around without much effort. Tidus came back with a grin, shortly followed by Zuo, who was still yawning sleepily; the boy looked a lot like his father, but he had brown hair, much darker than Yuna's or Bayla's, and both his eyes were a bright, emerald green colour. He sat down on of the remaining chairs, and Yuna placed a plate of omelette in front of him, kissing his cheek and saying, "Morning, sweetheart,"
"Thanks, mom," he yawned again, and dug in. He'd been right as rain once he'd eaten something.
"Hey, did you send that sphere off?" Deka said to Bayla, reaching for a glass.
"Yeah, and I sent it to Andi with her letter. I'm hoping it'll actually reach Yas this time…"
"Maybe she just forgot to reply or something," Zuo shrugged. "No biggie."
"She never used to," Bayla countered heatedly. "My messages aren't reaching her, that has to be it. She's way too nice to just ignore me like that,"
"I would," he muttered mutinously.
"I hear ya, brudda," Vidina winked at them both and Bayla scowled.
"Stuff gets as far as Guadosalm. I'm hoping Andi can send it on from there for me."
"Weird, isn't it?" Tidus commented, but from his light tone Yuna knew he was thinking hard about the quandary; there was a slight crease between his eyes. "How its just mail to Bevelle,"
"Life's weird," Bayla sighed dramatically.
"You're weird," Zuo said slyly.
"Family trait." She said instantly. "Where'd you think you got it from?"
"I take after mom's side of the family," he said flippantly.
"No hope at all…" Deka said sincerely, making them all laugh. "What?" she demanded sullenly. "All summoner's are weird…ever read the job description?"
"Can't say that I have…"
"Elodie wrote one,"
"Well then, Aunty El as the final word on the matter, doesn't she?" Tidus said, smirking when Yuna whacked him round the back of the head with the oven glove. "Cause El knows everything!"
"She doesn't know the meaning of life," Zuo countered.
"Forty-two," Deka said without hesitation, making them all look at her. "The big question is, what is the question?"
"I always thought it was something like 'to marry a Hypello' ya?"
"Rikku's a very bad influence on this lot…" Tidus sighed dramatically. "Maybe your dad's right, don't go to Bikanel. I'm sure you could find a less mind damaging job somewhere else," the debate bounced back and forth for a few minutes while they ate, invariably ending in a good-natured argument.
After breakfast Bayla and Zuo cleared the table and they all grabbed what they would need for the day, which admittedly was very little. Vidina already had his things, and he and Bayla set off ahead of the others, chatting happily about the holidays and the looming tournament; they were followed by Zuo and Deka, who were in the same class seeing as they were fraternal twins, and they were greeted by a few of their friends on the way. Finally, Tidus and Yuna followed, hefting their own bags onto their shoulders and slowly following their children, holding each other's hands.
Yuna smiled as she watched Zuo larking around with his friends, before the five of them started running towards the temple, shrieking loudly in high spirits. Beside, her, Tidus let out a sigh, and looked up at the cloud scudded sky.
"Twenty years…I can't believe it's been that long." He gave her hand a squeeze, his eyes sky turned towards the sky.
Yuna smiled and squeezed back, studying his face as they walked. "And Bayla's finishing this year…it feels unreal…"
"She'll be fine; she's gonna find something to work on and push off without us," Tidus gave her a smile. "Bayla will be fine, she just needs to find her niche. We've still got her for a while, I reckon."
Yuna smiled back in response; he'd barely changed at all in those twenty years she'd had him back, except for the slowly developing crinkles around his eyes from years of smiling and laughing. His skin was as deeply tanned as ever, and his hair was still that beautiful golden colour that Deka had inherited. Yuna was still gazing at Tidus when they reached the school's campus, and he looked down at her with her favourite grin in place.
"Nope," she smiled back.
"Hey!" Wakka called from somewhere beyond the chain link fence that cornered off the sports facilities from the rest of the buildings. "This court won't set itself up, ya?"
Tidus made a show of rolling his eyes and spun Yuna round in his arms so she was standing before him at close quarters. "You heard the man, better go help before he has my hide…"
Yuna laughed and said, "Have a good morning!"
"See you in the assembly," he kissed her lips briefly before turning back to the impatient tuttings issuing from the sports court. "I'm coming! Yeesh! Hold your chocobos!"
Still smiling to herself, Yuna made her way to the closest building alongside the temple, which housed the art rooms on the ground floor; above that were the music rooms, and on the top floor was the tiny drama studio dominated by a woman who could have given Leblanc a run for her money. Within the art department, there were two classrooms, a large cupboard for storing supplies, a storeroom to house people's finished articles, and a smaller room that doubled as an office of sorts.
Today Yuna was teaching a younger music lesson upstairs when Bayla was having her final art lesson, and then after that she'd be down here for half an hour with the year below her making paper aeroplanes. The other art teacher was already in the office, munching on a banana as she rummaged around in the desk drawers. She was an Al Bhed, with the usual green eyes and blonde hair, and was forever garbed in a painted splattered overall.
"Morning, Hannah," Yuna called as she walked past to her classroom.
"Mmph!" she said through a mouthful of fruit. "Morning, Yuna!" Hannah was a delightful colleague to work with in this department, and Yuna hung round to chat with her for a while before the first bell went and they had to go to their specific classrooms.
There were typically eleven separate year groups in a school, and most children started formal education aged seven – although this varied between places, such as Bevelle that started as young as four. Besaid started teaching children from seven upwards, and each year group was split into four different groups for what they called 'form time'. This was basically morning and afternoon registration, and also known as homeroom. There were also four so-called 'houses' to which one form from each year group belonged to, which (in theory) created friendly competition between the children. They were named after four of the High Summoners: Gandof, Ohalland, Yucon, and Braska. Surprisingly enough, Yuna's form was 6B, short for year six Braska; she had the majority of the twelve year olds under her wings, and for the most part the children adored her – not because she was the High Summoner of The Eternal Calm, but because she was considered one of the best form tutors in the school on account of her unending patience and willingness to bend over backwards for the children in her care. And it was on those grounds that she was a valued member of the community.
Yuna was already in her form classroom in the music department, writing out in block capitals 'LAST DAY OF 6B!' across the white board as her students trickled in. Since Besaid was still a small town in comparison to larger settlements like Luca, the average size of a form was five students, and there were only around two hundred and thirty children at the school in total, some of which came from small, backwater islands south of Besaid who lived in the temple during the semester. Yuna had seven children; four girls and three boys, five of which lived in the temple.
They came in and saw the stash of bags underneath her desk and the writing on the board, and became very excited. Yuna had to calm them down, call the register and give them the itinerary for the day; they'd be going to the first three lesson slots on their timetable before coming back here for ten minutes, and then the final assembly before spending the last forty minutes of the school year with their tutor. Yuna had some goody bags made up for them, and they were going to doodle over the board and take some photos before they left her form for good. She'd done this with each class she'd taken every year, and it was just one more reason why the kids loved her.
"So we all know where we're going?" Yuna checked, knowing one of the less bright girls would have missed something.
Sure enough, the shy girl raised her hand and stuttered, "W-what lessons were we going to again, miss?"
Luckily, one of the boys who was sat at the back of the room on a desk, swinging his legs back and forth and gazing out of the window was in her lessons that morning, so Yuna kindly attached her to him so she wouldn't get lost; he didn't mind in the least, and Yuna waved her form off for the morning before preparing for her music class with the top set in year eight.
"Pass to Joey!"
"Hey, I'm wide open!"
"Go on Tamil, get in there!"
"Whoa! Red card, dude!"
Tidus had to blast his whistle to make himself heard over the din, and then had to wave the protests away as everyone complained to him.
"Sir, that was a foul!"
"Didn't you see that?"
"Aw, dude come off it!"
"All right, pipe down!" Tidus said, grabbing the ball from the offending player and waving him away. "Blue team has a free pass at the goal. Line up, on your markers!"
The rabble of year nine PE students lined themselves up along the edge of the outdoor court and stared intently at the ball as Tidus passed it to the blue team's captain. The sixteen year old smirked at the rival red team's captain and got into the ready position. It was the last game they'd play together as year nine's, and many of the students were dropping the subject for next year, so the pressure was on to make the most of their final lesson with their favourite teacher. Not that Tidus believed for a moment that they always loved him; he had to whine and bitch at the older kids to get them to do what he wanted, but once they were on his side they got so much work done, and had a lot of fun along the way. This year group was especially strong, and some of the droppers were trying for the blitz team next year so Tidus would still be teaching them. But for now, they lived only for the mock tournament game.
"Ready?" Tidus yelled across the court, raising the whistle to his lips. "On your mark. Get set…" he blew into it, and the blue captain tore down the court like a lightning bolt and hurtled towards the goal. He dodged the other team's attackers and made a flawless score, which made him disappear under a pile of teammates hugging him. "Ready positions. C'mon, people, we only have six minutes left!" That had them in a frenzy to get back into their play positions. In reality, they had fourteen minutes because they had to pack up and change back into their uniforms, but time was always of the essence with this class.
The two captains went to the centre of the court and stared each other down; both tall and of athletic build, one dark haired and the other blonde, both looking to win this final battle and Tidus' 'grand prize' of the year.
Tidus stood alongside them, and held the ball out right under their noses, whistle clamped between his teeth. He slowly lowered it to give himself some leverage before he flung it up into the air with another shrill blast that pierced their eardrums. Red team's captain barely touched the ball with his fingertips but managed to edge it into his half of the court, and the attack on blue goal was on.
Everyone was yelling encouragement and hurling insults at each other in great spirit; Tidus was shouting over it all, somehow maintaining order and getting them all to score three goals in the space of five minutes. After that, a buzzer rang out from the wall of the changing room complex to signal the end of the game. Before they could rub it too much into each other's faces and start a fight, Tidus called them all over for a final group huddle.
"Guys," he said, producing a pen from his pocket and holding their ball out. "I'm so proud of you. You've been an honour to teach this year, you're all got excellent grades, you're written work is amazing, and you have to be one of the strongest groups of players I've taught yet. And since some of you are dropping this class now," here a few sheepish and heartbroken expressions emerged, making his grin widen, "I want each of your signatures so we can all look back years from now on how awesome you guys are!"
There was a volley of woots and cheers from the boys as the ball was passed around and they each signed it with a flourish. When it came back to Tidus he tucked it under his arm and waved them off to the changing rooms.
"Don't run off once your changed! Stop by the office first," and with that he dismissed them.
Back inside the pokey sports office, Wakka was sorting out an order for new sports kit from the school's team of seamstresses. "How many we expecting for the team next year?" he wondered aloud as Tidus carefully placed the newly signed ball into a cabinet in the far corner.
"Twenty for the try outs, but we can only take twelve."
"Seven team, five subs…Kay, got it!"
Tidus placed a cardboard box on the desk and threw the small packets of sweets into it before dumping a load of wood shavings from the Tech department. In all honesty, he should have had this done last night, and when that failed before the first bell that morning, but he had been lazy over it and decided now was the best time. He made sure it was all mixed up and spread evenly before the guys arrived, which was just as well he'd got it done first and foremost as his class all got changed in record time and were standing as one outside the office in a neat and orderly line.
"Hey, Captain Wakka!" Tidus leant out of the door and made a show of looking surprised. "One whole year, and they finally learnt to line up properly! Get in here guys, I've got something for you!"
Wakka laughed and got up as the group traipsed inside and squeezed themselves up against the wall. Tidus gestured grandly to the box on the desk and said, "Our little way of saying thank you for putting up with all the abuse we give you. Enjoy!"
The boys all laughed and as one descended upon the box with relish. Sixteen year olds didn't normally appreciate childish things like a lucky dip, but when it was Tidus and Wakka, they accepted, and indeed often expected it. When everyone had grabbed something, they came forward to shake their teachers hands, and the ones who were dropping the class expressed their deep regret and even deeper wish to be on the team.
"Try outs are the first week of the next semester," Tidus reminded them before they left. "So train hard over the summer! How many of you are going to see the tournament next week?"
Everyone shouted out the affirmative, and they eventually had to kick the students out at the sound of the bell for form time.
"All right," Wakka said, all but throwing the boys from the office. "Beat it, ya? We got other places to be, and so do you!"
"What's our goal!" Tidus yelled, jumping into the middle of the circle and pumping his fist in the air.
The resounding chorus of "VICTORY!" nearly deafened them all, and he found himself at the bottom of a scrum as everyone tried to hug him at once.
"Go on, get out of way! Scram!" Tidus laugh, ruffling hair and playfully pushing people away from the office. "Your tutors would kill me if I held you up,"
"It's Sir Jonan," one of the larger boys drawled loudly. "Who cares?"
"I care if he comes after me with a bag full of homemade poison grenades," Tidus said, making a show of waving them away. "Go on, I'm sick of looking at you already. Shoo!"
The boys ultimately left with a final laugh, leaving the office in momentary silence. Wakka laughed and asked, "What about your homeroom?"
"I'm on it," Tidus assured him, grabbing his keys and another bag from behind the desk. "See you at the assembly!" he yelled over his shoulder, running to the other end of the school to get to his form class. His was situated at the top of the block that taught language and math, and his group of year elevens, the infamous 11O including Vidina, were waiting impatiently for him. "Sorry guys!" he called, throwing the keys to the girl nearest the door, not even trying to push past the kids. "Open it up, Katy. Go on in,"
"Aw, Sir! Why you so late?" someone jeered.
"Year nine's final class. I'm losing most of them next year!" he made a show of being indignant. "I can't just abandon them on the last lesson!"
"What about us?" the tallest boy demanded, about as tall as a young Ronso although not quite as broad shouldered. "Don't you love us anymore?"
"Hey, you're the ones swanning off without me, here!" Tidus reminded them with a laugh. "Okay, everyone inside. Move it, Stace!"
Stacey ran past Vidina with a shriek as he tugged at her long blonde plait. "Hey, Blondie-!"
"Vid, move it or lose it." Tidus said, shoving him through the door.
"Park it, the lot of you! Wanna waste what precious little time we have left?" he black mailed them emotionally, and they all sat down in their favourite perches, mostly on the desks rather than chairs. "Right! We got everyone?" Tidus scanned the room and counted out seven heads. "Where's Rayland?"
"Getting a drink," Stacey said in her vague toned voice. "I think…" she added, biting her lip.
"Okay, we'll assume he's still here somewhere," Tidus ticked everyone else off the register, and once he was done Rayland ran into the room, completely out of breath. "So nice of you to join us! Have a seat," Tidus nodded at the tabled in front of the desk, the so-called 'naughty table' where the later comer had to do the sit of shame and face everyone else, subjected to a pop quiz on a topic of the majority's choice as punishment. "Kay gang! What'll it be today?"
"No! Weapons and tactics!"
"Boring! Pop music!"
"Yeah, do that!
Tidus stood up and raised his hands like a master conductor and silence fell. "The mob has spoken!" he pointed at a red haired girl called Gail and said, "Go!"
"Who was at the top of the charts this week?" she said to Rayland.
"Aw, crap!" he shot a glare at Tidus, who smiled innocently and inspected the watchstrap bound to his wrist. "Err…The Syndicates?"
"Which song was it?" shouted out another boy who was the fountain of random knowledge.
"I dunno!" Rayland flustered. "Someday?"
"Wrong!" he was pelted with a screwed up ball of paper. "Clear Skies! What's the top selling single of all time?"
"No! Real Emotion,"
"No it's not you idiot! Its Windfall's Bright Star, dumbass,"
"What planet have you been living on, Kaoru?"
The rest of the allocated form time was spent debating which had been the greatest single of all time, and Tidus let Rayland's penalty slide. When the bell for assembly rang out they all got up to leave, and Rayland hung back to apologise to Tidus.
"Nah, don't worry about it," Tidus clapped him on the back and grinned. "Last day, won't hold it against you. Come on, let the boredom commence!"
Rayland laughed, and they nine of them set off down stairs and towards the sports hall. Tidus looked around the group of kids, all eighteen, and Vidina and another guy named Toby older than that. They were a close-knit group, one that he'd miss next year; 11O wouldn't be the same without his bawdy, loud form group in the autumn. He especially liked this year group because of the banter that ensued each registration, and the endless inside jokes that only their year understood after the myriad of organised trips they took together. Each year, it was always hard to let the young adults go, and it was possibly harder than ever this year because Vidina was at last leaving too, as well as Bayla. Vidina had hung back for two extra years to get qualifications in each of the available subjects to try and better his chances of being accepted for research and fieldwork.
The boy was bright, if not that academic, but he worked well with other people, and his interests covered a wide spectrum so he almost always found a topic he could discuss with a stranger. He'd won this school so many blitz matches, and done all his teachers proud; he'd also been in Tidus' form group for three years in a row. And finally, he flew the nest, off on his own grand adventure in life…
If Tidus wasn't carefully he might just fail to swallow his pride, and burst into tears. But he hid it behind trading insults with the guys and teasing the girls, and then calling for them all to shut up before they entered the hall. "You're still part of this community," he reminded them at the door. "So try and set an example, will you? Makes my job a hell of a lot easier,"
The smirks he got as they filed inside weren't that convincing. They went to the stands right at the back with the rest of their year, and Tidus slid into the chairs along the side of the hall beside Wakka, nudging him as he sat down and glancing up at the empty podium with a resigned expression. Wakka merely chuckled and went back to watching the students arrive in small groups. The first Tidus knew of Yuna's arrival was when she poked him under the ribs from the row behind, and he yelped loudly, causing the kids towards the front of the hall to look round in surprise.
"Haha," he said sarcastically as the art teacher Hannah failed to cover up her snort of laughter, "Very funny!"
Yuna tipped him a playful wink and sat down at the very end of the row with the other airy-fairy subject teachers and start gossiping. Wakka sighed heavily, tearing Tidus' attention from his wife and back to the present.
"Here we go…"
Their residing head, the illustrious Father Gilgamesh in the prime of his old age, tottered up to the podium and cleared his throat. It took the combined effort of teachers and older, more diligent students to quieten everyone down before the speech could begin.
"Well, it doesn't seem possible that another year has passed," Gilgamesh began, and Tidus began to tune out. "And we have surpassed it with flying colours! Three out of five sports tournaments, we have won…"
Wakka elbowed Tidus in the ribs with a smug expression, and he grinned back. Wakka was the best coach when it came to the small time school leagues. Tidus himself coached up the larger teams for the big leagues held in Luca and Bevelle, as well as them both training the Aurochs in the mean time.
The speech waffled on for about ten minutes, and the rest of the audience – teachers included – began to fidget. Eventually, Gilgamesh turned to the teachers stand with a warm smile and said, "And I do believe our year eleven form tutors have a little something for our leavers this year," he stepped down and clapped unnecessarily, which brought on a round of applause and cheers from the students.
Tidus, along with the four other tutors got up and walked to the front of the crowd. Each year they took it in turns to talk to the congregation, and it was Tidus' turn to make the speech. He lent against the lectern and grinned up at everyone before he began. "Well, I think our head's said it all!" he always did…more or less. "We've had a great year all round, and especially for blitz. I'd like to have our two captains for squads A and B up to collect their shield for the sheer awesomeness of their performance this year,"
Vidina and another boy named Harvey both picked their way through the crowd, amid more cheers and clapping. They reached the front where Harvey's tutor presented them with the wooden plaque cut in the shape of a shield, with their names and the date of their captaincy engraved on one of the small tablets around the outside. The two boys grinned as they shook his and Gilgamesh's hands, and stood neatly side-by-side when Wakka motioned for them to stay put.
"I'd also like to ask all our sports teams to come up to receive their medals," Tidus spoke again, looking towards the crowd and watching as the kids looked from one to the other and tentatively stood up in front of all their peers and climbed over to the front of the hall. Bayla stopped short of sticking her tongue out at Tidus as she was given her medal, and started pulling faces at her brother in the audience; it made everyone laugh when Tidus flicked her ear, and made her flush furiously before she resorted to giving him evils. Unconcerned, Tidus turned back to the students and said, "We've had an almost undefeated season this year, and we hope to have you guys back again next year for a repeat. You rule!" he fist pumped the air, making the younger kids laugh and the older ones roar their approval. Tidus grinned when he caught Yuna rolling her eyes from the sidelines, though she couldn't squash that silly little smile.
The only female tutor for the year elevens, a Guado named Haruhi, nonchalantly pushed Tidus aside and said, "Thank you, Sir Tidus, for your eloquent and stirring words of wisdom," this had the audience howling with laughter, and Tidus just grinned and laughed the friendly rivalry off. As well as competition between the students, there was also friendly enmity between the staff too. "We would like to present our goal keeper from B Squad with the blitzball from the semi-final match against Kilika, for her outstanding save that won us a secure place in the finals. So, Terry, if you would like to come forward,"
Tidus bent down to pick up the ball, pre-signed by team, and handed it to Haruhi, who presented it with solemn dignity to a grinning Terry, who shook both their hands and bounced back to her team mates, only to disappear beneath the myriad of hugs from both squads. Everyone burst into rapturous applause and the sports teams bowed before running back to their class mates with grins and a chorus of cheers following them.
Haruhi clapped loudly from the podium and shouted over the noise, "Train well over the summer, and we'll be glad to see you back again next year. To our year elevens, all the best of luck! It's been a pleasure to have you play for us,"
The teachers all sat down again, and Gilgamesh began what he clearly thought was a motivational speech, but what really started sending Tidus to sleep. He spoke of the coming of age, of having to spread your wings, follow your heart – the usual crap. It would have been more impressive and useful if he didn't use such archaic language and drone on in his sleep inducing tones. One-to-one, this man was an utter legend, but to the masses in the sports hall…he was the stuffiest, most boring old man in the whole of Spira.
When the words, "Fare thee well!" accompanied with a raised hand and a warm smile were said, a smattering of applause broke out, and four of the year elevens – including Vidina and Bayla – jumped to their feet and ran to the front to claim the lectern.
The other girl, a preppy sort by the name of Grace brushed her dark hair out of her eyes and smiled up at the congregation before delivering her own speech. She had a much more engaging voice, the sort that made you want to sit up and pay attention. "As you know, the year elevens are leaving this year and most of us are moving on to bigger things." She nodded at Vidina and the other boy, Tommy. "Some of us are going to further education in places like Bevelle and Guadosalm. And some of us are going straight into jobs to further aid Spira in a still relatively new age of discovery. This we have done off our own backs, and we will be reaping the rewards for years to come," here Grace glanced down for a moment to fidget with the piece of paper on the podium before she looked up to meet the eyes of her audience, all hanging on her every word. "But we could not have done all of this without the help of our teachers, who have given us the tools we need to carve our own paths in life. We have all been through this school, from start to finish, and every step of the way our teachers have been there to help us spread our wings and fly, while holding out the safety net to catch us if we fall short of the goal, so that we won't fail when we strike out on our own. So my friends and I would like to ask each head of department to come up so we can thank them individually."
Wakka and Tidus exchanged startled looks. There was no real head of the sports department, since they relied heavily on each other to get things done, so they sort of just cohabited the office and shared duties. On the other hand, Haruhi was the head of Science and Math, Hannah of Tech, a man called Cain for Languages, and Yuna for the Arts. As the others stood up and came forward, Tidus and Wakka fought to throw the other up into the limelight. Tidus had already stood up and had his say, and felt that Wakka should go – while Wakka wanted to hide and force him to go up instead. In the end, Yuna made the decision for them by grabbing both of them by the wrist and dragging them behind her.
Each teacher was presented with a card, signed by all their leavers students, and the men got bottles of wine while the women were presented with flowers. Apparently, Tidus and Wakka were expected to go up together, as Tommy turned and announced to the school at large, "We've heard how well our teams have done this year, and we owe them many thanks – but the truth is we'd never have made it as far as we did without our coaches' dedication and effort into training sessions, going as far as rescheduling so that the science students could do their practicals after school and didn't have to sacrifice their other subjects. I don't know about you, but I think they deserve a big round of applause," he stood back, raising his hands into the air, and the resounding roar of approval was accentuated by the standing ovation they received.
Vidina pulled a face at his father as Grace handed over the joint card and gave both men a hug; Bayla gave her father a sarcastic look before giving Wakka a hug and pointedly steering clear of Tidus. The grin that spread across her face negated the sting of the action, and Tidus just pulled a face at her, making everyone laugh, since it as the usual course of action between the two of them
Grace went back to the lectern and signalled for quiet so she could make the next announcement. "As well as Sports, we've done exceedingly well in the arts this year too. We made it to the final stages of the Bevelle Music Festival and lost by the skin of our teeth to Djose before the final round, and we wouldn't have made it as far as we did without one person in particular," she paused for effect to smile, and Tidus knew where this was going. He shot Yuna a grin before Grace could continue, and almost laughed when she tried to shuffle behind Hannah out of sight.
"She worked so long and hard on musical and dress rehearsals, and was always mindful of other commitments, and did her utmost to make sure we never had to chose between them. She put so much effort into organising the routines and making sure we always had a place to practise and the means to practise by. So if we could give Lady Yuna another round of applause for being the best Arts teacher ever and show our appreciation,"
And then came the next standing ovation; Yuna looked like she might burst into tears when more people trickled to the front to show their thanks and hand her three different bundles of flowers. When they finally let her go, the cheers died down and the staff went back to their seats, he saw a single tear glistening on her cheek. Tidus caught her as they reached their seats, putting an arm around her waist and kissing her briefly with a smile and saying, "Told you so!" in a whisper before letting her sit down. Her blush was both endearing and attractive; another reason to tease her later on.
A final fare well from the head, and they were all dismissed back to homeroom for a final forty minutes before clearing off for the summer. Tidus was met by his form at the door after the younger years had vacated the hall, all grinning unrepentantly.
"You're all sneaky and underhanded!" he accused, throwing an arm around the shoulders of those closest to him. "Don't ever change, guys!"
They went back to their form room for the last time together, and spent their remaining time reminiscing and throwing the banter back and forth. It was a great time, and Tidus got them all to sign his and each other's yearbooks. At the end, he gave them all their little cupcakes which Deka had painstakingly helped him write their names on in icing three days ago.
The final act was to set the camera on self-timer and throw themselves into a silly pose before they were all sent from the classroom for the last time.
"We'll still come back!" Rayland insisted. "My parents live here, so I'll have to come home for the holidays!"
"Yeah!" Kaoru insisted. "What's a few hundred miles of open ocean among friends, ya?"
"Thanks, Sir!" Gail gave Tidus yet another hug. "You've been an awesome tutor this year!"
"And you've been an awesome form," he grinned, at them, feeling his emotions get the better of him.
"Aww!" someone cooed.
"He's gonna cry," someone exclaimed in disbelief.
"Group hug!" Vidina thundered and threw himself at Tidus.
It all proved too much; he couldn't stop the first couple of tears in time, and about half a dozen hands thrust handkerchiefs and tissues into his face.
"Hey, it's supposed to be used for the nose, not to be eaten!" Gail said incredulously. "Stop stuffing it down his throat!"
"Good luck guys," Tidus said, still grinning despite his moment of humiliation. "You'll all do well in life, just remember," he took up his coach stance and held his arm out in his favourite gesture. "Work hard, play hard!"
When at last they all drifted away across the small playground, Tidus allowed himself another moment of weakness to wipe his tears away, only to jump in surprise again when Yuna snuck up on him. He smiled down at her, and pulled her into a proper embrace.
"Hey!" Wakka thumped him on the back, mischief in his eyes as he said innocently. "Every year we go through this!"
Tidus shrugged, still struggling with the thought that his form was flying the school nest for good. The upside was that Bayla wasn't leaving them just yet…
"Every time you turn over a leaf and promise not to get so over emotional! And yet you still can't bare to see them go," Wakka laughed, clapping him on the shoulder.
Tidus worked the thick emotion into his voice for effect and said, "They just grow up so quickly!" and made a show of wiping the tear from under his left eye and flicking his finger so the water droplet dissipated in the air.
Yuna laughed and kissed his cheek. "Come on, I'm hungry,"
They left the campus, laughing together and discussing plans for next week when Elodie would be arriving. El was an old friend of theirs, one of the rare members of the Zandal People of the north who had decided to live permanently further south, and who was forever on research trips for Rikku's team based in Home. She'd been Yuna's first official guardian, and was also Bayla's godmother; sometimes Elodie only stayed for a day or so at a time, and at others she stayed for much longer, but she always had to leave again. She had also promised Tidus she'd be there at the tournament this year to cheer the Aurochs on. The last few years, they had held an impressive winning streak, but the last couple they'd just fallen short of the finishing line. In her own words, it was embarrassing to admit to the other researchers that she was a diehard Auroch fan. "So hurry the hell up and win already!" she called down the patchy com link last they'd spoken.
Tidus looked up when the blitzball struck his shoulder from the vague direction of the Summoner's Circle. It was Tommy, and the rest of the blitz teams, already out of their uniforms and in their patchy gym clothes.
"Wha'd'ya want now?" he drawled, bending down to scoop the ball up. Once he'd stood up he flicked his wrist lazily and propelled the ball back to Vidina. "I thought I'd gotten rid of you for good!"
"One more round!" Tommy insisted. "Down on the beach! Wha'd'ya say, eh?"
"For old times sake, ya?"
"Come on, dad. You don't want to lose to us again do you?" Bayla said teasingly, stretching her arms lazily above her head. "Its okay to admit that you're getting too old for this…"
Tidus raised an eyebrow, and looked back at Yuna and Wakka. He seemed all for it, and Yuna merely laughed, slipping his bag form his shoulder and slinging it across her own.
"Don't stay out too long," she said, kissing his cheek.
"Dad!" Bayla threw the ball back to him, and he caught it one handed. "C'mon, let's go already!"
"Oh, all right!" Tidus made a show of caving in and jogged over to meet them, amid a roar of approval from the guys. "Twist my arm, why don't you!"
They were singing his praises until Tidus dropped the ball and booted it over the horizon. "On the double!" he shouted, and they all launched themselves after it.
"Last one there's fiend chow!" someone yelled, and they ran for the gates to the town, shrieking with laughter.
From behind them Tidus could hear Wakka pounding after them, Yuna's laughter over the general din, and Bayla ran up alongside him. Her grin might as well have been his own, as was the spark of mischief in her eyes.
"Bet I can run faster than you!"
"Oh yeah?" Bayla smirked, faltered for a moment with her stride before settling into a much faster rhythm, and pulled ahead and away from him at a quicker pace. "Eat my dust!"
"Hey! Get back here, missy!"
"Watch out!" someone yelled as the ball was thrown into the air again.
"Heads up!" Wakka shouted, and Vidina jumped high into the air and headed the ball so that it went flying ahead of the group.
"Run away blitzball!"
"Just shut up and run!"
Tidus was sure the next year elevens would grow into their own in time, and that this year's would go on to do brilliantly in life. The fact that he'd had a hand in shaping their futures for the better should have been enough, but it was still hard to let your students go after everything you went through with try outs and tournaments and so on throughout the year. Still moments like this always made it worthwhile in the end.
But Wakka did have a point…what was he going to do when his own children eventually became ready to leave? Tidus wasn't so sure he was ready to let his little girl go, even if she could out pace him in nearly everything these days.
"They do this," Lulu mused to herself. "Every year."
"Those two are impossible…" Yuna shook her head with a smile.
Tidus and Wakka were still surrounded by their year elevens, even now at well past ten o'clock at night, sitting by the fire and still nattering away like old women. Lulu turned her attention away from them and back to Deka, who was seated on the ground beside the log she and Yuna were perched on. Lulu had been trying to teach Deka how to weave straw baskets, but she wasn't having much success.
"I can't do it!" Deka said, dropping it dejectedly and staring morosely into the fire nearby.
"Here," Lulu picked the offending mass of mangled straw and inspected it closely. "See?" she showed it to Deka. "This is where you went wrong. If you thread it through here…" she rectified the problem, and passed it back to her. "There. Now you try,"
Deka frowned deeply with concentration as she tried to follow Lulu's lead. Yuna smiled and stroked her daughter's hair. "See? No such thing as 'I can't' is there?"
"Well," Deka poked the straw through the next gap, and flipped the whole article over only to discover another kink she'd missed before. "Technically there isn't such a word as can't because it's an abbreviation of can and not. So no, there's not."
Lulu indulged herself in a smile over the young girl, and looked between her and Yuna's face. Deka looked a great deal more like her father, but there was that certain light in her eyes that reminded Lulu of a young Yuna; the same wonder and determination to get things right, not because she wanted to look good but because she wanted to prove to herself she could do it.
"Hey, I think I got the hang of this now!" Deka said excitedly, brandishing the half made basket under Lulu's nose.
The older woman smiled and put a hand on hers, lowering the basket so that Deka could take a closer look. "Not quite," she pointed out one too many kinks on the outside. "Don't get ahead of yourself," she said soothingly when the girl's face fell. "If you get over confident you'll get sloppy. Do it slowly," she demonstrated before setting Deka back to task.
"I can do this," she muttered to herself, fiddling with the fraying ends of the straws. "I know I can do this,"
From somewhere nearby, a guitar started playing, and Lulu recognised the tune. She looked up again, with another smile, and saw Bayla perched on the branch of an overturned tree, guitar in hand and slowly strumming the intro to her favourite melody. The rest of the blitzers stopped their banter to listen, as did the rest of the villagers. Bayla looked up over the deliberate pause in the notes to grin at Vidina before she started strumming and picking the strings in perfect succession. When she looked down again to check on Deka's progression, she saw that the girl was sitting and watching her older sister wistfully.
"Why don't you take a break?" Yuna said gently, plucking the basket from Deka's hands. "Go sit with Bayla,"
Deka grinned and scrambled to her feet with great haste. She was met by Zuo only a few paces from where Lulu and Yuna sat, and they both ran over to Bayla in a rush. Tidus grinned and set Deka on the lowest branch of the upright tree he was leaning against, so that her feet dangled at about his waist height; Zuo scuttled onto the available space beside Bayla on the dead tree, and sat in rapt attention, focusing just on the sound issuing from the guitar.
That instrument had been a joint birthday present from Elodie, Lulu and Wakka, Rikku, Tidus and Yuna, and Cid; it was of Al Bhed make, in a beautiful dark but deep blue wood, inlaid with shell and mother of pearl around the sound hole. Set into the main body of the guitar were little mother of pearl fish, and right at the top of the neck where the pegs held the strings in place, an archaic Al Bhed symbol for Peace was delicately crafted into the wood – Bayla's name sake. It had been given to her for her sixteenth birthday, and Elodie had plans for her nineteenth this December, which she was being purposefully vague about.
"She's very good at that now, isn't she?" Lulu said aloud, watching Yuna's expression, which was just as enraptured as her son's.
"Yes," Yuna smiled but didn't look up. "She's been practising so much the last couple of months on that piece. Guess it all paid off,"
"She's a very determined girl," Lulu mused to herself, considering all three of Yuna's children.
"They all are," Yuna corrected her. "But that's good," she added. "They all want to be known for their own doings, not just what we've done."
Lulu smiled at this, and looked up as Bayla began playing another, more bouncy tune. She would have liked to have a daughter of her own, but she had never had a child after Vidina, and the two families were so close anyway that being 'Aunty Lulu' was the next best thing.
Nineteen that winter…it just didn't seem, possible. She voiced this, and Yuna finally tore her attention away from the girl playing the guitar to look at Lulu. "I don't know where the time's gone," Yuna admitted, somewhat sheepishly. "It's as though one moment she's a bump," she motioned to her flat stomach, "the next she's a lump," her arms cradled thin air as her eyes wandered back to Bayla. "And then…" she shrugged, unable to find the right words.
"Has Bayla had anymore thoughts on where she'd like to go now?" Lulu asked.
Again, Yuna shrugged, and gave an exasperated sigh. "No. She doesn't know what she wants… Every day there's a new possibility, either a songstress or a researcher or a chocobo herder or a hover driver or something… No," she shook her head. "Bayla will find the right thing eventually. Until then, we're just going to have to put up with all the noise," as she said this, Bayla struck up a traditional Besaid drinking song, and it seemed that everyone around that fire started singing loudly and raucously along to it.
Lulu laughed while Yuna hung her head in her hands.
"Damn her father…"
"She is just so like him though," Lulu smiled. "Isn't she?"
"To my never ending horror…" Yuna leant forward, propping her chin up on her hands, elbows on her knees. "I like to think I'm in there too, but it just seems less and less likely everyday…"
"She's more like you than either of you would care to admit," Lulu said levelly, thinking that she'd have to grab Wakka and Vidina to go home before too long. They had to be up bright and early for training tomorrow morning, and Tidus had been complaining about Wakka blackmailing him into staying out late the last couple of nights.
"You really think so?" Yuna asked, looking up at Lulu.
The older woman however kept watching Bayla as her son ambled over and tried to prise the instrument from her hands. "I know so,"
"I want a go, ya?"
"Get your own! Hey! It's mine! Give it back-!"
"Hey, dad!" Vidina carried his prize away and threw the strap around his neck. "How do I look?"
"Like a goon," Zuo jeered, and Bayla neatly pushed him off the tree branch.
"Give it back, Vidina!"
Yuna laughed in a loud, carefree sort of way, and she stood up. "I suppose someone has to diffuse the situation,"
Lulu smiled, and looked up at the star spangled sky as Yuna walked away. In spite of the argument that was slowly getting out of hand, Besaid Island, and its slow growing community was peaceful in the light, nighttime breeze rolling off the ocean.
An Eternal Calm.
Over two decades, and still some hardly dared to hope it was a reality.
Through the sweat, blood and tears they'd all shed to get here, Lulu reflected as she watched Tidus deftly pick Bayla up and throw her over his shoulder to stop her from trying to attack Vidina; it was all worth it in the end, for this. Every ounce of pain, every biter tear shed, every lonely hour…
To have the friends and family you thought you could never have – yes, it was worth every moment.