41 The Price of Freedom

Tidus looked back at me as I said those words. "I never thought it would come down to this..." I always thought I would go on my pilgrimage, die, bring the Calm, and that would be it. But this was so bittersweet. We would bring an eternal calm, but I would lose the one I love in the process, and not only that, we had to kill the aeons who had helped us all along the way.

I knew though, that was no time for second thoughts. We had to do it. We had no choice. The airship landed on the wet ground, and we ran through the sticky liquid. I didn't know where we were going, or why, I was just following Auron. We approached a set of steps, and when we ascended them, there before us stood none other than my villainous husband. He disgusted and terrorized me on every possible level. "Yuna." He reached out as if to hug me. I spat in his face, and he wiped it off, scowling.

While he was so foolishly distracted with me, despite Tidus' obvious fear of him, Tidus took his sword and hacked into Seymour's back. Seymour's eyes widened and he fell forward. I stepped aside and let him hit his head on the steps. "Yuna! Send him! Hurry" Tidus kept attacking the Guado to keep him from interfering with my sending. Soon, blood red pyreflies were all that was left of him, floating up to join the countless others. That was a relief. One more evil that Spira would never have to live with again.

Auron led us deeper into Sin, and we found ourselves in a bizarre room filled with floating buildings. At the far end of a long bridge was Jecht, with his back to us. Tidus moved to the front of our group, fists clenched, his eyes boring a hole through Jecht. "Why?" Tidus asked softly. "Why?" His voice rose. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything. I'm sorry, son, for operation Mi'ihen...the fires...the Al Bhed...that wasn't me. Sin is taking over my mind. It uses me, my voice. It controls me! I can't help it!" Tidus breathed deeply and slowly. "I don't care. You need to die." Tidus was sad, I could tell, but he was trying to bury it with anger.

"Well, then...I mean...let's end this." Jecht held his hands out at his sides, forming a cross. "Take your best shot." Before anyone could do anything, he stumbled around, as if possessed. He fell off the edge of the platform he had been standing on. We all watched in horror, as from below rose Braska's final Aeon, albeit much smaller than the original.

We fought it with the aeons, and after a long and draining battle, we defeated it. It exploded into light energy, and left Jecht kneeling on the ground, bloodied and tired. "I'm sorry." He said. Tidus ran to him and caught him before he toppled over. There was a brief moment where father and son just looked at each other, wordlessly. Then Jecht spoke. "You'll cry. You're gonna cry. You always cry. See? You're crying." Tidus wept for the loss of his father, despite all that Jecht had done. "I hate you, Dad." Those were the last words that Jecht ever heard. He perished in Tidus' arms.

Tidus pulled himself together and stood up. "Yuna..." "I know." I replied. I began to send Jecht, but in the middle of a twirl, I saw pyreflies rising from Auron's body. I wasn't the only one who saw it, either. "Don't stop. It's alright. This is your world, now." He said. So I finished my dance, leaving us without Jecht and Auron.

"There!" Wakka pointed to a strange bug-like creature flying towards us. Bahamut's fayth appeared in front of me. "Call us! Destroy us! It's okay. We want this." I had no time for sorrow. I rushed to summon Bahamut. Immediately, the creature, Yu Yevon's spirit, invaded Bahamut's mind. Bahamut began to attack us, and the others fended him off while I summoned Valefor...my first aeon, the one who began it all for me.

They fought, and Valefor was killed. I clenched my teeth as I summoned Ifrit, the aeon who we worked the hardest to receive, the aeon from Kilika. He defeated the weakened Bahamut, and then Yu Yevon's spirit possessed him. Ifrit began hurling fireballs at us, and I rushed in fear to summon Shiva, my Macalania aeon. She also died fighting Ifrit, and I called my last aeon, Ixion, the aeon from Djose. They died at the same moment, giving Yu Yevon no place to go.

The airship arrived, and we boarded the deck. I began to send my aeons and Yu Yevon, sadness enveloping me. We were inside Sin when it happened. Sin exploded into countless billions of pyreflies, sending a golden glow across all of Spira, announcing our eternal freedom from the cruel terror that Sin once brought.

I finished my sending, and we floated above the ocean. All was quiet and peaceful, except my thundering heart. I turned to look at Tidus. A blue glow, like that of pyreflies rippled across his body. Immediately, my eyes filled with tears, pouring relentlessly down my face. His own face was a mask of grief, reflecting the anguish that was consuming my soul.

All I could think about was the precious time spent with him on our journey. The first time I saw him on the steps of my home temple, the first time we spoke, the day he agreed to become my guardian, all the times he had comforted me, his stories of Zanarkand...His sweet kisses...

"No." I wept. He hung his head. "Yuna, I-I have to go. I'm sorry...I couldn't show you Zanarkand." He started to walk away. "You promised! You promised you would stay with me always!" He didn't stop, but his shoulders shook as he cried. I ran to him. He heard my footsteps and turned to catch me in his arms, but in a flash of blue light, I fell through him. My heart broke that day when I fell against the hard metal of the airship. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't do anything. He was lost to me, forever. There was one last thing I had to tell him. I stood, with my back to him. I steeled myself to say the last few words, the ones I had longed to utter for months. "I love you."

I couldn't see his face, but I heard his sobs and his translucent arms came around me, holding me from behind. "I love you too." He whispered into my ear. "But I-I have no choice." "I know." I whimpered. He stepped through me, taking half of my broken heart with him. He looked back at me, and I memorized his face, that last moment, to hold forever. Then he ran and threw himself off the airship, falling through the clouds and into the sea below. I went to my knees, wailing. I covered my face, my chest convulsing. I gasped for air, but none came to me. I reached for joy, but all I felt was sorrow. All I wanted was him.

Never in all my life had I felt so alone. I stood on the dock looking out over the ocean, whistling, imagining Tidus climbing out of the water, returning to me. He promised he would come running when I whistled. But I was left longing for what would never be. I cried all my tears until I had no more, and even then, I still wept. When Lulu came to me and told me, "It's time." I knew I had to stop. It was time for me to speak to the people of Spira, to tell them of the Calm that would last forever.

What's worse, it was at the Blitzball stadium that I would give my speech. It was as if someone ripped out what was left of my heart and stomped on it. I wiped my face dry, only to have it wetted again. Finally, I regained my strength, and managed to get through it without breaking down.

As I looked over the crowd, all I saw were smiles. Everyone wore a smile. I tried to emulate that wondrous glee, but I couldn't. "Everyone...everyone has lost something precious." I began. "Everyone here has lost homes, dreams, and friends. Everybody...now, Sin is finally dead." The roar of joyous cheers only emphasized my pain. It should have made me happy, to see them happy, but it didn't.

"Now, Spira is ours again. Working together...now we can make new homes for ourselves...and new dreams." I would never have another dream. Tidus was my one and only dream, my first love, and my last. "Although I know the journey will be hard, we have lots of time. Together, we will rebuild Spira. The road is ahead of us, so let's start out today." People clapped, women cried, children jumped up and down, men pumped their fists and yelled. I held my hands out and they quieted. "Just one more thing...the people and the friends that we have lost, the dreams that have faded...never forget them."

-The End-