Tidus couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
It was silly, actually. At least that’s what he tried to convince himself. Dead people didn’t come back to life every day. But, that was what he was worried about. It just seemed too good to be true. All of it. After he had been so sure that his fate had been sealed…really, it hadn’t been too much to ask to be allowed to exist. The fayth had assured him that he and his father, because they had been touched by Sin’s presence, would remain real and not just a dream, and thus they had been allowed to exist…only in death. Fleeting images of Yuna staring at him with tearstained cheeks, pleading with him to stay, caused his heart to clench each time he thought of it. How he had longed to stay…to be with her. But he knew he had to go.
And now he was back again, without a clue as to why or how. He wasn’t sure he really wanted to know.
Was he still dead? He didn’t know how to tell if he was or not; after all, Auron had been dead, and the man had breathed, bled, and did everything else that a normal, living person did. The only difference was something was missing…something about Auron just hadn’t seemed to fit. It was the same with Seymour, only not to such an extreme. Seymour had just been insane. Tidus never could fully understand the difference between the living and the dead in Spira, and that’s what bothered him.
However, he was pretty sure, at least 95% sure, that he wasn’t dead. But there was something else…a feeling deep inside his gut that told him that something big was coming. He tried to dismiss it, tried to ignore it, but it was there, like a special knowledge that one just doesn’t unlearn or a sensation much like the feeling one gets when someone is standing right behind them. It was quite unsettling.
There wasn’t any way he was going to tell this to the others. Not yet. Especially not Yuna, who was half-asleep in his arms, holding onto him as if he would disappear any second. He didn’t want to worry her. They’d all been through enough already and he wasn’t about to bring up possibly unnecessary anxiety over a silly feeling. Even if his feelings were usually right.
The celebration had died down somewhat, but there was still a fairly good-sized crowd still milling about, munching on cotton candy or dancing to the still-ongoing music. He and Yuna had danced until their legs hurt and finally he just wanted to get away from the crowd and have some time to collect his thoughts. The whirlwind of a day was coming to a pleasant close, and the effects of everything were starting to catch up with him.
For now, he was content to sit on a bench, Yuna wrapped warm in his embrace, and watch the people enjoy their newfound freedom from a persecution that none of them had ever thought would go away. To be a part of that, and to share it with someone as precious as the woman beside him, was more than he could ever ask for.
Perhaps that was why he was feeling apprehensive, like it would suddenly be taken away from him once again. He would do anything in his power to see that it wouldn’t…
Yuna shifted her position and looked up at him with a dreamy look in her mismatched eyes. “What are you thinking about?” she asked him.
“You…” he said, pressing his lips to her forehead.
He scoffed. “Hey, I’m telling the truth.”
“I know there’s something else on your mind, though. How could there not be?” She fingered his shirt absent-mindedly. “Maybe I’m just delusional, but you’ve been acting strange. Like you’re worried about something and trying too hard to hide it. Tell me what’s on your mind; perhaps I can help.”
He sighed. “It’s nothing to worry about, Yuna. Why waste this moment?”
She sat up, pulling away from him to stare directly into his face. “Don’t hide anything from me.”
He smiled. “What is there to hide? I’m back, aren’t I? Isn’t that good enough?”
“Of course you’re back, and I’m happy that you are,” she replied, slipping her fingers through his. “But…there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you. I know maybe this isn’t the right time, but…why are you back? It’s not because you heard me whistle, is it?”
With all his heart, he wanted to answer, ‘To be with you, of course. I promised you, didn’t I?’, but something pulled at his heart, and he knew he couldn’t lie to her. He had to tell her.
“Listen, Yuna…” he began, looking down at her hand clenched in his own. “I don’t know why I was brought back. I’d like to tell you that I came back of my own accord, to be with you, but I know that isn’t right. It sounds strange to say this with you sitting here next to me, but I feel like I lost something. I feel like I don’t belong. But there’s something else…I feel like there’s something else that’s wrong. I don’t know how to explain. It’s really weird. But it’s just this sense that I have. I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want you to worry in case it was just me being paranoid.”
She stared at him, not knowing what to say. The emotion in his voice was all the evidence she needed to know that he was deeply disturbed. She wanted to make it all go away for him, so that he would be at peace. But…perhaps that was the problem. Her heart clenched as she wondered if he had been robbed of his peace in the Farplane by coming back. She felt oddly selfish for wanting him with her, but he was here now for whatever reason.
What was she supposed to think about all of this?
Sighing, she decided that the night was too precious to start worrying about things. Those things could wait until tomorrow to be worried about. She stood to her feet, pulling him up with her.
“Come on,” she said. “Enough of this for now. Let’s go find Rikku and the others. We’ll talk about it some more tomorrow.”
Blurred images. Jumbled memories…can’t make sense of them…
“Don’t go, you’ll be killed!”
I don’t understand…what’s going on…?
“I’ll be fine, you’ll see.”
…Didn’t want to leave…I don’t want to come back…why does it hurt?
“You’re not going to at least take your sword?”
“I don’t need it this time, bro. Hey don’t give me that look!”
“…Under attack…here it comes! Watch out!”
His eyes opened slowly, a panicky feeling deep in the pit of stomach, and a violent flow of memories hitting him with full force. He groaned and clenched his teeth together, biting back the tears that formed in his eyes. His head felt like it had been run over by a chocobo and the fact that he was lying waist-deep in the ocean, his head resting on grainy, wet sand, was not helping his morale at the moment.
Did I survive that operation?
He was reluctant to sit up and look around, not wanting to see the dead and strewn bodies of his friends all over the beach. Operation Spira Deliverance had been a foolish mission…too many people already killed by Sin. All they had been doing was just asking for more death…their own. He’d had something to live for…
But that was…a long time ago…or was it? Why do I feel like something is wrong? Why do I have this strange feeling like I’m not where I’m supposed to be?
Fearfully, he raised his head and looked around. No dead bodies. No machina strewn anywhere. No signs of a battle at all. Just a bunch of rocks, wet sand…and oddly enough, the sound of lively music being played.
Where the hell am I?
He raised his head a little more to see the lights of a city he had never expected to see again. The warm and inviting lights of Luca seemed to beckon him, and smile formed on his lips. This was quite the surprising change: to go from being attacked by Sin on the Djose shore, to finding himself half-submerged in the ocean, lying on the beach near Luca.
But something still didn’t seem right. Other, more painful memories were resurfacing that overshadowed what would be an otherwise pleasant awakening…
I lifted my head; I could see Sin in the distance…going away. His job had been finished and we were defeated.
Blood…all I saw was blood. I felt my side, felt the warm, sticky fluid there…I knew I was…
Gritting his teeth, he shakily stood to his feet. He placed a hand over his heart, dreading the worst. He could feel a heartbeat, though it was alarmingly faint, while he otherwise could have mistaken the aches and pains in his muscles for just ghostly reminders of his past life. He then placed a hand at his side, where Sin’s attack had hit him. No blood. Something definitely wasn’t right, here.
There was an emptiness in his mind; memories that refused to surface. It was a sharp reminder that there was something missing. He wasn’t where he belonged. He didn’t know what to do. Aside from all of that, he felt as though he would pass out any second. This was just too much.
I don’t know why, but I think I was…dead. I remember… dying that day. But nothing else after that. Just this…void. This awful void. I hate this feeling…
The cool wind from the ocean seemed to cut into his wet skin, and he shivered. He couldn’t stand there and think about this all night, not like this. He couldn’t even think, not with his mind confused and cluttered with seemingly displaced memories.
“Well, no sense in staying here. Might as well go in town and figure out what to do next.”
Walking through the city, it occurred to him that Luca somehow felt…different. He found himself simply staring at the buildings, the stadium in the distance, and the people around him. It felt so good to see all of them again. Forgetting about how strange it felt to be there in the first place, he had to simply stop and look. His heart ached. How much had he missed while he was gone?
Apparently, he’d missed something. The whole city of Luca was celebrating some huge event. The music was almost deafening; there were people dancing in the streets, and the smell of food suddenly made his stomach start growling. It seemed like he’d shown up at quite a party.
Whooping and hollering, a group of kids ran by him, barely paying him any attention. He grabbed one boy by the arm and stopped him.
“Hey kid, can you tell me what happened? What’s all this celebration for?”
The boy stared at him like he’d grown two heads. “Where have YOU been? Sin has been defeated by Summoner Yuna!”
“Sin defeated? By Summoner Yuna?” There was only one Yuna he knew, and she hadn’t been a summoner before…
Oh god…if Yuna defeated Sin, she’s gone…this is too much to take. Forget the fact that none of this is making any sense…
“Yeah…have you been hiding under a rock or something?” The kid finally wrenched free of his grasp and ran off.
“I guess so…” He shook his head, running his hands through his wet hair. This was just insane…and it hurt to even think about it.
A cheery female voice jolted him to awareness, and he whirled around to see a rather cute blonde girl standing there, smiling at him. She had her arms full of stuffed animals and candy, and was at the moment chewing on a half-eaten caramel apple.
“Hey Tidus, where ya been?” she asked. “I’ve been looking for you all over the place. What’re you doing way out here? The fun is near the blitzball stadium! See all this stuff they’re giving away? Well, they’re not really giving it away; I won them in these really cool games! Hey!!! Where’d you get that red hair dye! That looks awesome!” Her eyes then wandered over his clothing, and she raised an eyebrow curiously. “And…may I ask why you’re wearing those clothes? That looks too much like Wakka’s blitzball uniform…hey, and I thought you were with Yuna!”
He couldn’t repress the smile that came to his lips. This girl sure knew how to talk. While he didn’t know who she was or what she was talking about, he figured she could help him. He had many questions.
“You know Wakka and Yuna? Is Yuna still alive? What about Lulu, is she here, too?”
The blonde girl stared at him, frowning. “That’s not funny, Tidus. Come on, what’s wrong with you?”
“I’m not Tidus, I’m-"
“Hey, Rikku! There you are!” He and the blond girl both turned to see Yuna in the distance, making her way through the crowd.
What a relief, he thought. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s still wonderful to see that she’s still alive.
His thoughts were distracted as the blonde girl waved, then got an odd expression on her face. She looked warily back at him, and then pointed to another man that was walking behind Yuna…who, he noticed, looked strangely like him. However, that didn’t surprise him. At this point, everything was strange. But the blonde girl, however, was clearly confused. He was beginning to understand why she had thought he was someone else.
“If you’re not…then who are you…?” she stammered.
He sighed. “My name is Chappu.”
Cold. That was the first thing she felt when she regained consciousness. Cold and aching, fatigued muscles. But air…wondrous air filled her lungs, and she was breathing again, if painfully, but still breathing. She opened her eyes, squinting against the sudden flash of pain that came with that slight movement. Her head was hurting, and she struggled to control the pain as her eyesight swam into focus.
“Where…where am I?” she said aloud, shocked to hear her own voice, which was barely above a whisper. Her throat was dry and parched, and she was overcome with a fit of coughing. She stared in horror when she saw drops of blood splatter to the ground.
I’m coughing up blood…why does my whole body hurt? What happened to me?
Little by little she struggled to sit up, pushing against the floor with her shoulder, using every ounce of strength that she had. Her body was extremely fatigued; her arms and legs felt like jelly. Clenching her teeth against the stinging sensations in her muscles, she finally made it to an upright position, but her head was swimming and she felt like she might faint.
However, the dizziness passed after several moments, and she could finally look around at her surroundings.
Years confined in that pool, clinging to what little life I had left…she thought. What happened? Somehow, I got out, and he…I heard him…in my mind. He…died. Where is he now? I don’t remember…I wish I could remember. I feel strange. Something is…wrong…
Her mind was hazy, some of her most recent memories cluttered and confused, as if a dream. She didn’t know what was going on or why she was still alive. Deciding that sitting there on the cold floor would get her nowhere; she pushed herself up and shakily stood up, wobbling but finally gaining her balance.
Climbing the steep paths through the dark, dimly lit corridors was not an easy task. She tripped several times, falling to land on her already-sore body. But she refused to be stuck in that dismal place any longer. Her only thought was to get out. Anywhere but there. The urge to be free of that place began to consume her so that tears streamed down her cheeks, and she was whimpering pitifully, crying to anyone who could hear her to help her get out of there.
Finally she saw the light, the glorious light of day. It beckoned her, calling to her, and she stumbled blindly, wanting desperately to see the sunshine, to feel warmth on her face. Almost…there…she could almost…taste it…
Stepping outside of the mouth of the cave, she looked up at the sunlight. Warm and beautiful, as she remembered it. The light hurt her eyes, which had become so accustomed to darkness, but she didn’t care. All she wanted to do was stare at the sun as though she’d never seen it. She raised her arms above her head and stretched, smiling for the first time in over one thousand years.
But her elation was not to last. Her smile instantly turned to a look of sheer terror as something unimaginable was happening to her. That feeling…the feeling that something wasn’t right…took over with full force. It started low in the pit of her stomach, almost like a hunger pain, but then it grew to unmentionable proportions. Her mouth opened in a silent scream as this sensation filled her entire body…as though her very soul was being ripped apart.
She couldn’t move. Her mind began to cloud over, and her thoughts went hazy once again. Her heart clenched when a voice began to whisper, and she could only describe it as coming from within her…
“Thank you, my darling for getting us out of here…now we can see the world together. It’s time to go…”
Then there was nothing but chilling, endless darkness, where it was useless to scream because it would only be silenced. She was trapped...and he had taken over.
Kora’s mouth twitched in a smirk, and her eyes looked around to survey the surroundings.
She raised her arms and stretched again, gazing at her fingertips amusedly. “Ahhhhh…free motion once again! Now, Kora…where should we visit first?”
My notes: Well…hopefully the plot has begun to reveal itself. It's starting to become more and more clear for me, at least. Chappu is back! (Who'd have known? @_@) Enter lots of extra little subplots that I’m going to have oh-so-much fun with. Tell me what you think! Next chapter is coming soon!