The Beginning Of The End

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. Just the story.

A/N: Yet another one-shot to add to my collections. I think I'm going to actually start compiling them someday. But for now, this will do. A little different from the other one-shots I've done, but different is always good, as is change. Happy reading!

I was happy. More than that, actually. I was on top of the world for a moment in time—So high up, in fact, that I thought nothing could touch me; I was invincible, so long as I had him by my side. I didn't feel a void where my heart should be, and everything made sense once again.

But that moment was short lived. Bittersweet, and I'm afraid I have no one to blame but myself...

I guess the first question everyone must have been asking themselves was: where did it go wrong? And it was a question I didn't have an answer to, probably because I don't know either. At least...I didn't when it happened. You know how people tell you something happened so fast, it was all just one big blur? It was just like that. One minute it was all smiles and laughs, and the next? Perhaps it's better to start from the beginning.

Or more accurately, the beginning of the end.

"Hey, Yunie?"

I spun around with a huge grin on my face, my hand still tightly clasped to his as I caught sight of my Al Bhed cousin, Rikku, skipping up behind us. The night sky was filled with laughter, only giving way to the embers that floated around from the bonfire in the center of Besaid Village. Tonight we celebrated not only the safety of Spira once again, but the return of someone I cared for deeply—Someone who captured my heart two years ago and that I refused to let go, even when I knew deep down he was gone. we all stood, reminiscing and chattering away at our victorious adventures in each others company. There were too many smiles to count...

"Yes?" I replied to her cheerily as she came to stand a few feet away from the two of us, blonde braids clinking lightly against the island breeze.

"Whatcha gonna do now that 'you know who' is back?" She nudged him, giving a playful wink as her emerald eyes switched between us almost knowingly. "You still plan on going sphere hunting with us? Or are you gonna be all boring and stay here in Besaid?"

The thought really hadn't crossed my mind just yet, seeing as how I wasn't exactly sure if I were dreaming or not. In hindsight, I guess it was a very sensible question, but again...I hadn't thought that far ahead. Sure I had fun on our little adventures through Spira, but I also wanted to kind of spend some time alone with him. The fact that our whirlwind romance was stunted because of everything that happened didn't really help, and although the love was still very much there, I thought it would have been nice to rekindle our relationship.

"I think I'm going to pass up the offer, Rik." I blushed a bit, but kept my warm smile intact. "Just for a little while, at least. I do wish to come back someday, though."

Her shoulders slumped, arms swinging back and forth defeatedly as her bottom lip pooched out into a pout. That's my Rikku, though—So full of emotion and theatrics. My blue and green eyes looked up at him for a second, trying to judge his reaction, but there was none. He had held the same infectious smile all day long, but nothing seemed to be out of place. Unless you count the fact that he hadn't spoken a single word since all of us had started back to the village.

"Well, I guess that's to be expected from you two love birds!" Rikku perked up, yanking all three of us in a group hug for a moment, and then darting off to follow Paine back to the beach. "We'll be back for you two. You can count on that!"

So now the two of us stood alone as the rest of the villagers practically crawled into their huts, hiccuping and giggling from the celebratory wine that had been passed around for the umpteenth time that night. It was quiet, but again, it's not like I had minded it much. It seemed to be a comfortable silence between us, and somewhere in the midst of it, he had pulled me into a warm, loving embrace. How could I have known then, when everything seemed so...natural?

"Come on..." I whispered against him, slightly inhaling his scent that I had missed so much in the two years he'd been away from me. "Let's go home."

Our walk back toward my hut on the cliffs was void of conversation as well. Perhaps I thought he was just taking it all in as I was, but I couldn't help but to sneak peeks at him here and there through pieces of my dark hair. That trademark smile he'd always held no longer adorned his tanned face, and his body seemed...devoid of any life. It was almost as if I were leading him, rather than him walking with me. I think that's what prompted me to strike up a conversation.

"Hey," I stopped, still holding his hand within mine, causing him to stop. "Is everything ok? You've been unusually quiet since the party..."

I stood there waiting, staring at his back for what seemed like ages, waiting for some sort of acknowledgment, but when none came, I felt sort of winded. He actually just stood there staring ahead of us and there was absolutely no movement. Not a single muscle tensed, and as I stood rooted to the ground, I noticed that he wasn't even breathing—If he had been, it was completely inaudible and almost non-existent.

What had I done to deserve such treatment from him? Sure...everything was fine when we embraced each other, and he had even been ecstatic when reuniting with Wakka and Lulu on the beach. But now it was just he and I, and I didn't even get so much as a glare. Was it possible that he held some sort of grudge against me for trying to find him?

"The least you could do is look at me..." I whispered, unable to suppress the hurt etched into my face as I let his fingers slip through mine; both of our arms falling limply by our sides. "...If I've angered you in some way, I'd really like to know."

"What were you hoping to achieve by bringing me back? Were you expecting everything to go back the way it was?"

The way those words spilled from his lips. They were tainted with anger, and maybe it was my imagination, but I could have sworn I picked up a hint of disappointment. My head raised slowly, eyes still connecting with his now tense back, and that's when I felt the sting. If I thought I was winded by his ignoring me, then I can't even begin to describe how crushed I was when he actually did respond.

"Are you didn't want me to look for you?" I asked, amazed that I found my voice among the relentless waves of hurt that was consuming me. "Have I made some sort of mistake by doing so?"

"You should have let me go back then. You should have just left everything as it was, because you really don't know what you've done."

"How could you say that?" My voice cracked unevenly, biting back the anger slowly creeping up and fighting back hurtful tears that stung my bi-colored eyes. "I don't understand where all this is coming from, nor do I understand how I could've done anything wrong. The Fayth wouldn't have-"

"The Fayth have nothing to do with this, Yuna!" He growled, finally turning to face me with a cold glare; a strangers gaze. "No matter what you've done for Spira, no matter how much you've done for doesn't give you the right!"

"What is wrong with you?" Choking back a sob as I took a step back – a loose fist hovering over my rapidly beating heart. "Has two years apart really made you hate me so?"

The curiosity bit in to me, refusing to let me tear my eyes from his, seeming to search for the person I knew /had/ to still be there. But all I seen was an empty shell of the audacious and cheerful man I once knew. His oceanic blue eyes that I used to get lost in seemed darkened, the only light held within them was from the pale glow of the moon, narrowing them at me accusingly. Like I had been the one to bestow so much pain and sorrow within him—A possessed version of the man I love; the man who had once loved me.

"Every action has a consequence, Yuna. I thought you would have learned that by now. And because of this, I have to be the one to do it. Do you have any idea how much it kills me to know it has to be me?"

"W-What?" Taking a few steps back as he advanced toward me slowly, as if he were stalking prey. "You're not making any sense!"

"Don't you understand? I can't stay...and neither can you. If you had just let me go and carried on with your life, this could have been avoided."

Before I could say anything else, or even blink, I felt winded again. Only this time, my back collided with one of the stone pillars on the hill, just offset from the statue people would pray to before setting out from Besaid. His weight pressed against me to the point of not being able to take a breath...and then came the blindingly sharp pain; flashes of red and black blanketed my eyes as a painful groan escaped me. He held me there, pinned between him and the pillar. The taste of my own blood filled my mouth—A single thin line of it trickled from the corner of my lips and down my chin as I struggled to gain my vision back.

"A life for a life," He whispered against my right ear, breathing ruggedly as he bore the brunt of my full weight against him, lowering me to the ground gently. "If everyone were allowed to bring a loved one back from the Farplane, where would Spira be right now? Death is something people cannot escape. I never truly existed in the first place, so bringing me back threw the balance off. I was meant to sleep with the rest of them..."

I struggled to breathe, but it was futile as I felt my own pulse slowing in his embrace. Silent tears slipped from my widened eyes, and even though the man I loved had betrayed me in the worst possible way, I couldn't find it in myself to let him go. Even when the life poured out of me, I stubbornly fought to keep my grasp on him.

"I didn't want to, Yuna. I swear on our love I didn't want to do this..." His voice came soft, a gloved hand reaching up to press my head onto his shoulder lovingly, stroking my hair. "But don't worry—I'll be waiting on the other side for you, ok? I promise."

Before long, I was hoisted up in his arms and being carried to the very statue the five of us had stood and prayed at when I left Besaid and started out on my Summoners Pilgrimage. He sat with me, holding me close to his chest; blood falling shamelessly to his skin. Taking both my arms and wrapping it around his torso, and his around mine, I felt at peace. There was no malice. No hurt or pain anymore.

I wanted to say something. Even if I was seconds away from leaving this world, I wanted to tell him everything. I wanted him to hold me, speak to me—I wanted him to be there, because I was scared. Scared of dying alone. Scared of not saying goodbye. Scared of what awaited me on the other side. But while I was thinking of all the things I wanted to do, I felt his warmth fading; or maybe it was just my body falling cold with death. Whatever it was, he wasn't, as I was left with nothing more than the glow and cries of pyreflies in my midst.

With the last bit of strength I had, my arm reached out, fingers stretching weakly to touch what was left of him as he lingered. He was waiting on me. Even in my death to which he had inflicted, he refused to leave me to die alone. His presence surrounded me and the warmth found me again as I smiled. My body relaxed and I let my head fall to the statue behind me to rest as my hands fell into my lap limply. Eyelids fluttering slowly. The last thing I remember seeing was the iridescent glow of him, and a single cry reached my ears.

'Everything's ok, Yuna. Let's go home...together.'

At his words, my eyes closed for the last time and drew my last breath.

So you see? I can't blame him for my wrong doings. I should have left the balance of life alone, and carried him in my heart. But, really, I can't complain. He carried out the order in which I had disturbed, and although I'm gone from Spira and the rest of my friends...I'm still not alone. He is still here with me, and I with him. Only this really is for forever and always.