Well, I figured the poll for a fic people wanted me to do had been up on my profile long enough, and since the current winner was a oneshot, I'd just get it done.
Yuna ached as she summoned the Magus Sisters. The aeons had helped her on her journey, helped Spira's summoners for so long. Watching them disappear into pyreflies, watching them die? Yet she almost felt guilty for feeling this way, when Seymour had lost his mother, the one person in all the world who really cared for him, to become Anima.
When Tidus had to kill his own father in order to free him, and yet he was managing to stay as upbeat as ever, even though she knew it had never been this false before. She knew he had to ache inside, the way she had when she heard the news of her father's sacrifice, the way she had every time she saw his statue, and yet he was still forcing himself to smile for her. Still encouraging her.
He was the one who taught her to find some way to enjoy her life, to find something to laugh at even if it was only the ridiculousness of their pathetic attempts to laugh.
What had they to laugh at, to find joy in? When she was going to her death because she didn't really value her life, so of course the most sensible thing to do was sacrifice it for the people who gave her a home? When he was lost in a strange land, everyone he knew was probably dead and he'd been told that the monster ravaging Spira was his own father?
They'd both been forcing themselves, Tidus to be cheerful, herself to be serene like a proper summoner that it was ridiculous. It really was ridiculous, so very fake, and that was why they couldn't help but laugh, really laugh, in the end.
Someone from Zanarkand being washed up across time a thousand years in the future: how ridiculous it was. And Yuna letting everyone think she was so noble when she was just following in her father's footsteps, going along the path laid out for her to her death and letting lack of resistance be mistaken for strength?
He'd been trying so hard to hide his own mourning of the lost, his own knowledge that he was going to a place where he would no longer be able to escape the truth that everyone was dead that he hadn't let himself see that all of them were just like him. Trying not to face the fact that they were escorting Yuna to her death, trying not to face that every step they took closer to Zanarkand was a step closer to losing her.
No, it wasn't just Yuna that had wrapped themselves up in his lies that everything was going to work out okay, who had let him make them look at the world with fresh eyes. Focus on the present to forget the future. To not think about the past, about what happened to her father and his old man, and know it for the future.
Know that they were going in circles. That even as they walked into the future, they were caught in the rut left by the past. Going downward, ever downward. Spira's spiral of death.
It was Tidus that talked about 'after this.' After the journey. Tidus that made Yuna think of having a real future.
Then, when Yunalesca said that the bond between summoner and sacrifice determined the strength of the aeon, whether or not they would be able to beat Sin?
The daughter of the last High Summoner. The son of the man who was now Sin.
Yuna had seen the inevitable future stretching out before her, just like before, but the thing was that Tidus had shown her that there was a real alternative to that pattern. Even the Al Bhed who fought the pattern, fought to save the lives of summoners, Spira's most powerful magic users who were needed to protect the people against fiends and keep the fiends from bringing Sin down upon their communities, might defy the pattern but they couldn't deny that it was the way of the world.
They, too, had centered themselves around the need to defeat Sin to avenge the lost. They too battled it again and again, more and more dead to avenge every time. Even if they used machina, wasn't that because they didn't believe that getting rid of machina could create a world without Sin?
But Tidus had grown up in a world without Sin.
He was living proof that such a world was possible.
Through his eyes, she'd seen how, how messed up her world was. How horrible the pilgrimages were, how terrible the sacrifices were. That they were nothing but false hope, because all of it would happen again. The deaths, the tragedies, another summoner coming in the footsteps of her and her father.
Would it have been one of Wakka and Lulu's children next, growing up on stories of Yuna and how brave she was, how strong, how a real person had defeated Sin… And then when Besaid was attacked by Sin, as it inevitably would be?
Tidus was, was hope. Even though he hadn't had any himself, he'd managed to give her hope when he screamed at Valefor: no, no, this was not true, this was ridiculous, there had to be another way, there would be another way, Yuna was not going to die.
Tidus was not going to die.
Yuna would have sacrificed herself for his sake, but when Yunalesca spoke of sacrificing the one most important to her, the one who saw Yuna, not a high summoner's daughter when Wakka and Lulu had always known that, had seen her father's face in the temple before they first met her but Yuna?
She'd seen the inevitable future she'd spent her entire life, all her training moving towards. She'd made her way to her own sacrifice, her own noble suicide step by step, until it seemed as though she was being pulled by gravity or the tide, that her feet would keep moving, forced along by the sheer momentum built up over the ages… and she'd stopped.
She'd told Yunalesca no. Quietly, and politely, but no.
No, she would not. She would not take one more step along that path.
She was willing to sacrifice herself and her future happiness: she'd drunk in the belief that it was necessary at her mother's breast, just like her father who had believed that killing himself would give her more of a future than having a father. She'd been willing to ignore the fact that her friends would mourn, because they too swallowed the lie that this was more important.
But no. Not Tidus. He was from Zanarkand, he hadn't committed Bevelle's sins. He wasn't from her Spira, he hadn't earned this, he wasn't any part of this!
He was the one thing in her life that wasn't ruled by Sin. Her clumsy bond with him was the one thing that was hers, and Yunalesca wanted her to sacrifice it?
She'd been very sorry, really she had, but no.
With all the force of the world and its history pushing down on her, she'd said no, and realized that there was no force that would make her do this. She'd felt the weight of it all pushing her forward, thought that it would push her off-balance and make her stumble forward, step by step. Thought that it would knock her over, make her fall before Yunalesca like Sir Auron, unable to stop the pattern any more than a fisherman could stop the tide from coming in.
She'd stood there, feeling so weak, feeling the immense force pressing down on her and said no. No, she would leave the pattern, go into terrifying uncertainty with all the world ranged against her, but she would not do this.
And it was true. Yunalesca couldn't make her. Not when she had Tidus by her side. Not when she had Tidus to protect.
If she'd faltered, if she'd failed, he would have died. It was certain, inevitable.
Then, from somewhere inside her, had come the quiet little voice that said no. That would not happen. It didn't matter what happened to her, it never had, but even though Tidus was so like her…
She wouldn't let it happen. She'd been able to see how wrong it was, when it happened not to herself but to the one beside her.
She understood Seymour, she really did. Yunalesca had told her that Yuna was damning Spira to destruction with her little no, and she hadn't cared. Really, she hadn't. She'd known that was sad, and terrible, to take that risk, in her mind, but her heart hadn't cared at all. What had the world cared for her death? No, they would have celebrated it, just like her father's, because it meant they and their families could be safe even if only for a little while.
She was a part of Spira as well, raised not to care about the sacrifices of others, told not to, even though it was her own father. Told to hope for the deaths of summoners, as long as they died the right way, so Spira could life.
And if people died so Tidus could live, then oh well. Yunalesca, Yevon and their spiral: that was what they had made Spira. What right did they have to complain about her doing just what they had done?
Just following her own path… No, there wasn't any path. Just fumbling around in the dark for a way for Tidus to live. For a way to end this, so he wouldn't have to learn to fear Sin like everyone else. For him not to be caught, the world had to be free.
And when she was free, she could be with him, in his world. They could live.
She wanted to live, and that was why she was killing the aeons.
She was murdering beings who had done so much to help Spira, even if that was what they had wanted all along. Why they became aeons in the first place.
She was cutting them down because they stood between her and Yu Yevon, between her and Tidus and life. Maybe the real reason she felt so terrible was that she wasn't as reluctant to do this as she should be? Because part of her was already thinking 'oh well,' and not caring about the cost anymore than when she had destroyed Yunalesca, destroyed Spira's parody of hope, the one thing that at least bought them some years to rebuild, some years without Sin?
The Magus Sisters died, and Yu Yevon appeared again, finally without an aeon to hide it: what would he do now? Was he coming towards them to charge them or try to flee?
Yuna saw that darkness engulf Tidus, heard him cry out and futilely struggle and remembered that he had been called forth by the fayth to fight Sin, just like Sir Jecht. He had been born from the wishes of the dead to protect Spira.
He had fought for her, fought beside her just as long as Valefor.
He'd protected her, and…
She could see it now, see it all now as he rose up into the air, water circling around him, circling around his sword, as he raised it into the air and slashed it down, overdrive calling forth a tidal wave to engulf them.
Yuna almost wished the power of the fayth hadn't revived her, when she got to her feet coughing, chest heaving to force the water out of her lungs as Wakka exclaimed, "Whoa, Tidus! Sin can do that? It can take people too?"
As Lulu explained that Tidus, Tidus was a dream of the fayth and Yuna wanted to protest. Wanted to say no. He was her dream.
She could see what was going to happen now. Could say it as Tidus darted forward again and again to chip away at Sir Auron's defenses with quick hit after quick hit.
They were going to kill him. The last one. The True Final Aeon. The fayth's warrior, the fayth's weapon, created to end their dream and free them from Sin.
But he wasn't Spira's champion, he was her champion!
Kill him. Cut him down, like all the others, to reach Yu Yuvon. One more death to end it all.
Kill him herself, or let the others do it. Rikku and Wakka had already rushed forward to help Sir Auron, they wouldn't ask this of her.
Finish it herself, stand aside and let it be done…
…or walk forward on legs that tried to tremble, because she knew that what she was doing now was wrong, just as she had known that it was right to fight Yunalesca.
"Yuna, Yuna what are you doing?" Lulu cried, because she knew.
"I won't, I won't let you hurt him!" Yuna said, and turned, and gripped her staff tight.
Then she kept turning. No, not to face them. To face Tidus.
Not to ask him to fight it, fight it for her, not when Sir Jecht hadn't been able to forever. She owed so much to him: it wasn't him that owed this to her.
"Listen to me, all of you! I know you're tired, I know you've been dreaming for so long, but you want to be free, don't you? If you've dreamed a thousand years for Yu Yevon, to give him his Zanarkand, then you can give me my dream! You owe this to Tidus, you owe this to me! I overthrew a thousand years of tradition, I killed Yunalesca, for him! Not for you! And he, he fought for me, this whole time! We said it, didn't we Tidus! We agreed on this! No more sacrifices! No more! I won't sacrifice Tidus! Promise me!" Yuna demanded, turning around to glare at the unseen fayth with eyes that were teary not with grief but with some strange union of it and fury. "Promise me you'll let him come back to me! He's an aeon, isn't he? He, he promised that he would come when I whistled! He promised me, and you won't make him break that promise!"
"Yeah!" Rikku shouted. "Go Yunie!"
"You'll let him come back to me! If you don't I'll, I'll…" Yuna's voice shook with the force of her conviction: she didn't know what she would do, but she, she would, she would make them give him back!
"You'll regret it!" Rikku finished for her, and Yuna wished she had her cousin's way with words.
She'd destroyed Spira's hope for Tidus' sake, risked her world. She was grateful to the fayth, really, and she should apologize to them for being so rude.
Once Tidus was back.
Once she'd taken him back from Yu Yevon, she thought, replacing Sir Auron in the front lines and calling forth holy magic.
How, how dare he force Tidus to attack her! The way he would have if he'd become the final aeon! As though everything he and Yuna had done meant nothing, as though they were still following his plan, his path! How dare he!
Yu Yevon didn't even last a minute after Tidus fell, both because of everyone's anger and everyone's hurry. To end this, end him, end Sin, so she could safely summon Tidus.
So she would know.
So she could stand out on the roof of the airship once the part the rest of the world cared about, the part that wasn't why she had done this at all even if once she thought it was the entire purpose of her life and whistle.
Whistle and fall forward into Tidus' arms, wrapping her own around him and clinging to make sure that he was solid, to say that he was hers.
"…Sorry," he told her later, with that sheepish smile of his. "I should have said something." But he hadn't wanted to make her sad. Not when he could keep her happy just a little longer.
"Well, I can't really point fingers can I?" Yuna asked, laughter bubbling up inside her because this was ironic but it was also so perfect. "I didn't tell you that I was going to die. I let you think that everything was going to be fine all that time, even knowing that I was getting your hopes up and playing with your feelings and that I would be leaving you heartbroken." It made her blush, and she should feel more ashamed, but she was just so happy and it was all so perfect with the sunset behind them as they flew towards the dawn.
The poll prompt was 'Tidus is the water aeon, so...' and the really nasty thing about him qualifying as an aeon is that it means that Sin would possess him and Yuna would have to kill him.
I do tend to think of it as the ending of FFX-2 happening because the fayth realized that seriously, they'd better give Yuna back her man or their asses were next on the kicking list. It's not that much more character development from, "Your plan sucks," to, "If you don't give me back Tidus, I will have Shinra use all this machinery to make the Farplane so noisy that you will never get a wink of sleep." And Paine and Rikku would nod and be all seriously, she will do it.
FFX-2 hopefully happened in the first place because Tidus being the sacrifice at the end of FFX kind of did make it a broken Aesop.