Chapter Twenty-Six

Epilogue: The part about happy endings

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Tidus and Auron leaned on the railing together, watching the sphere pool being filled and enjoying the ocean breeze in their hair. They glanced up at Tida and Yuna as the two women took their seats in the stands nearby. Yuna was cradling a small blond infant in her arms, a gift and joy to her and her husband in the very beginning of their middle age. Tidus was going to have the opportunity to raise a child, a son, after all. Tida seemed rather awkward, but happy as she slid into the seat next to Yuna. She was very obviously pregnant.

Aurie and Pacce, newly married, were seated with Rikku and an empty seat reserved for Wakka. Aurie, who had taken a respite from the team to help Tida out and start her life with Pacce, looked blissfully happy, but her husband seemed a bit beleaguered. She set a face pace and was not easy to keep up with. If Pacce could have remembered what Rikku was like at her age, maybe it would have made him feel better. The Al-Bhed woman, much beloved and soon to take Cid's place in leading her people, was energetic even at her age, but the passage of time had slowed her down. She seemed to be dozing slightly as she waited for the game to begin.

Tiron was in Zanarkand for the week, playing three straight exhibition games after losing during the first tournament round for the fifth straight year, but his parents were in the stands. Lulu in her somber black dress always looked out of place in the stadium, even, if not especially, when she cheered on the Aurochs or the Abes. She loved the home team, but her son played for the Abes and she couldn't let him down. But his contract would be up soon and the Aurochs wanted him back. Maroda at her side, the ever adoring husband, had wanted to go to the Zanarkand stadium to see Tiron play, but the boy had insisted that both of them see the game in Luca. It was a special game, after all.

Lord Braska and Jecht, seated in the row just behind Yuna and Tida, couldn't help but to lean down and make silly baby noises at their little grandson, who was for reasons unknown terrified of the rough voiced and tattooed guardian. The only thing that could distract or appease him was the headpiece of Braska's robe, at which his tiny fists would grab whenever Braska leaned too close. Needless to say, the two men were frightfully irritating to Yuna and Tida knew quite well what lay in store her child and herself once it was born. But, she hoped, at least she would have Auron to fend them off, unless, of course, he was the same as his two friends.

From below, Auron and Tidus were watching it all, one seemingly contented and the other brooding ever-so-slightly.

"I know you want your son to learn the game, but is it wise to bring a screaming infant to a blitzball game?" Auron questioned his friend quietly.

"Dad brought me to my first game on the day I was born." Tidus reminded him.

"Then Yevon be praised that Bahamut was born during the off-season." said Auron, referring to Tidus's son, named after the Fayth that had given them both a second chance.

"And Tida?"

"It was a compromise. She wanted to play. I convinced her just to spectate, at least for a while." shrugged Auron, not that Tida had needed much convincing. "She would never miss one of your team's games." he added. The Djose Shrooms had replaced the Guado Glories, which had lost almost all of its players during a certain unfortunate incident two years before.

"I know." chuckled Tidus, beaming at both of his children. "You know," he began to say as he looked at all of their friends, their comrades, their family in the bleachers, "I have always wondered why everyone began marrying and settling down willy-nilly after we left." Like Sir Gatta, Tidus was turning into a man of deep thoughts.

"We had never had the chance before. Life was a struggle. Love was rare. People married only for practical reasons and often cursed the life they left to their children." Auron answered, as serious as ever before.

"Wow. You really know how to bring someone down." said Tidus.

"A leopard cannot change his spots."

"Do you think people would call ..." he began to ask before a familiar voice interrupted.

It was Wakka in his favorite 'Save the Shoopuf' T-shirt, who, like Tidus, had come up from the locker room to be with everyone else while the Aurochs took on the newcomers in the Shrooms' first Yevon Cup match.

"You guys going to stand around all day?" he asked, grabbing them both by the shoulders. "Why so serious? It's game day!"

"I was just asking Auron if he thought this was what people meant when at the end of a story it says, 'And they all lived happily ever after.'" said Tidus.

Wakka frowned and told them, "Well, you know, whatever they say, I guess we made our own happily-ever-after here, right, bruddas?" "Now let's enjoy the game!"


The End
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A/N: Thanks for reviewing, Lynx, Bunny, and Shido21!
Shido21 asked a couple of good questions: "Are you going to keep him [Auron] 35 inside?" "are you going to keep the personality of the 35 year old Auron or are you going to revert him back to 25 year old Auron or will there be a gradual change?" Well, I hope the answer to those questions are found somewhere in the chapter above.
I know this is probably not exactly how everyone wanted it to end ... But this where I envisioned the story ending a long time ago, like when I started writing it.