Rikku stared at Chappu as if he’d told her something incredibly unbelievable. And he had, in fact, done just that. He was sure that her eyeballs would pop out of their sockets, and he didn’t think that her jaw could drop any lower. He found it a bit amusing, but more uncomfortable than anything else. He had no idea who this girl was, but he had the strange feeling that she knew who he was.
She had nearly dropped her armload of goodies when he’d spoken that name. Chappu?! She may not have paid much attention to Wakka and Lulu’s constant bickering, but Chappu was a name that she had picked up several times. In fact, it was a name that would have been impossible to miss. He had definitely been a hot topic between them.
Chappu…Wakka’s younger, more ambitious and carefree brother. Lulu’s ex-lover. Died during an operation a long time ago much like Operation Mi’hen. That much had been told to her to simply inform her why Lulu and Wakka looked like the world’s worst love/hate relationship. The tension between the two was normally so thick that someone could take a knife and practically slice through it.
And now the very cause of that tension was back, very much in the flesh. Water glistened off of his tanned muscles, and his blitzball uniform was soaked through, as though he’d crawled out of the ocean. She could see that he was shivering slightly, chilled from the wind. Briefly she wondered if he was truly alive…after all, Auron hadn’t been alive, and he had definitely seemed real. But she didn’t really think that this man was dead. If this was truly Wakka’s brother, of which she was 99.9% sure (not many other people could have the same red hair AND fashion sense); then what did it all mean? Why were people coming back to life? How in the world was she supposed to react to all of these events?
Rikku had no idea how she would react to seeing someone come back to life again, perhaps her mother. It was an idea she’d never entertained, because it just didn’t happen…or so she’d thought. Rikku thought about Tidus’ return. Somehow, it didn’t seem as strange as this. How would the rest of them react to seeing Chappu again; a long-lost friend, brother, and lover? Someone who they’d all given up hope of ever seeing again.
She was about to find out when Yuna and Tidus finally broke through the crowd, making their way over to where Rikku was standing with her arms full of prizes. Tidus immediately noticed the ill look on Rikku’s face, ignoring the equally confused man standing near her. Yuna noticed, as well, and both she and Tidus failed to realize that Chappu was even there…or that he was staring at them intently.
“Rikku, you don’t look so good,” Tidus pointed out. “Your face is all pale. Are you getting sick? Hey, wow! Look at all that stuff you won!”
“Is something the matter, Rikku?” Yuna asked, concerned when her cousin didn’t answer.
Rikku sighed and cleared her throat. Obviously they weren’t going to notice until she spelled it out for them. Reluctantly she pointed her half-eaten candy apple to the red-haired man standing beside her and announced, “Tidus, Yuna, I think this is someone you know…”
Confused, Tidus and Yuna turned their gazes to see a sight most unexpected. Yuna gasped, and covered her mouth with one hand. “I must be seeing things,” she breathed, feeling suddenly like she’d been punched in the stomach. One surprise return was enough on her emotions, not to mention her state of mind, but this!? Despite Tidus’s return, this was something she never in a million years would have imagined would happen. “I…I can’t believe it!” she exclaimed. “Chappu?”
Chappu nodded, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. “I know it looks impossible, Yuna,” he said. “And I can’t explain it, but I’m back, for some reason or another.”
Tidus said nothing for a moment, continuing to stare at Chappu closely. “It almost feels like I’m looking in the mirror. You look more like me in real life…”
At the questioning look Chappu gave him, Tidus scrambled to elaborate. “Uh…well, I know you don’t know who I am, but that’s a long story in itself. Anyway, I know you were, well, you know…and I saw you, or at least an image, in the Farplane. And I guess I never realized until now, but man, this is crazy!” Flustered, Tidus looked down at the ground to avoid looking at his mirror image. It was quite unnerving and somehow disturbing.
Chappu nodded slowly, feeling a bit disturbed, as well. “Well, you’re right, I don’t know who you are, but I have to admit the resemblance is eerie. I don’t know what to think about all of this, either. I think…I just need some time…”
A soft voice from behind interrupted the conversation, and his eyes widened. He hadn’t had the time to get used to the prospect of being back, and he certainly hadn’t the time to prepare for this…who he knew was standing behind him. Just the sound of her voice sent a thrill of fear and delight through him. She was there.
The thought of seeing the love of his life again hadn’t been a part of the package deal when he had joined the operation to attempt to defeat Sin. He had known, deep down, that he probably never would get the chance to come back to her. The sudden realization that he would hear her voice, see her again, hold her again…was too much to comprehend. He couldn’t think anymore. His mind stopped functioning, and time seemed to stop as he turned around.
Good gods, she was more beautiful than he remembered. One of the first things he noticed was her hair; it was longer and braided, giving her a decidedly more exotic look. He remembered when she had worn it long; her dark curls falling over her shoulders in a cascade of darkness. She had looked so innocent then. Her eyes, those soulful eyes, were staring at him with immense emotion. Those eyes, which he had so often seen with such fire, such determination, looked at him now with pain, disbelief, and confusion. Those eyes, which had once been so alive and youthful, now looked aged beyond her years. He felt his heart clench with pain as the disbelief faded and her tears came. Oh gods, he thought. Please don’t cry, baby. Please, please don’t cry. I never meant to hurt you…
It hurt too much to see her tears, so he turned his gaze then to his brother, who, much to his surprise, was standing arm-in-arm with his beloved. Nothing could have prepared Chappu for that sight, either. He was furious to see his girl with his brother, even if his brother had every right to be. His mind screamed at him that she was still his woman. The feeling filled his entire being to the point that he could barely stand it. He could not speak.
Seeing the anger on his face, Lulu realized what she was doing and her face turned five shades of red. Quickly, she dropped her hand from Wakka’s arm and looked away. No one said anything. Words were not necessary at this point, and would have only done more damage.
Chappu didn’t miss the look in his brother’s eyes. A look that he wanted to deny that he had even seen. Could he have mistaken that look for sadness? Perhaps regret? He could identify with sadness and regret. His brother had tried like hell to keep him in Besaid on the day that he’d announced he was leaving to go fight Sin. A fight had ensued in which he and Wakka had exchanged very heated words, words that Chappu now regretted saying. Despite Wakka’s relentless stubbornness to never think outside the frame, or in other words, think for himself, Chappu loved his brother; the only family he had.
This tension just would not do. Now wasn’t the time or place to be getting into a fight over this, though he wanted desperately to find out what was going on between Lulu and Wakka. But he would do that later. Putting on his best smile, Chappu clapped a hand on Wakka’s shoulder. “What’s with all this tension?” he asked cheerfully. “Aren’t you going to give your little brother a hug?”
Wakka stared at him, his face completely unreadable. “It’s really you, isn’t it?” he asked suddenly, as though he was just now realizing it. “I’m not seeing things…”
“Of course not,” Chappu replied.
“Three years…it’s been three years…you were gone. Just like that.”
Chappu flinched. Just take it in stride, he thought.
“Yeah, it has been a long time, bro,” he replied slowly. “A lot has changed, I see…”
Wakka’s face turned red slightly, and he cleared his throat. “Of course. A lot can change in three years. People can change.”
“Well, I haven’t changed.”
Wakka met his meaningful gaze with one of his own. “I have.”
“I can see that, too.”
Tidus was becoming more and more uncomfortable by the second. This was just unnatural, wasn’t it? Every time Wakka had mentioned Chappu, something had been suggested about bringing Chappu back. It had been obvious that Wakka missed his brother, and had hated what it did to Lulu. But what was this going on now? It didn’t seem to Tidus, or to Rikku or Yuna, that Wakka looked very happy to see his brother. The complete change in attitude shocked them to the core. Lulu in the meantime had said nothing, but looked very much like she was trying to disappear.
Finally, Wakka broke the silence by embracing his brother warmly, then stepping back, a wide grin plastered on his face. “What is all of this, ya? This is something to celebrate, isn’t it? Nobody ever thought we’d see you again. But it turns out that even the impossible is possible sometimes, eh? If it happened once, it can happen twice. Welcome back, bro!”
Chappu smiled, and all of them sighed with relief.
Yuna yawned, then, feeling the effects of not only the last few weeks, but also what was turning out to be an overwhelming, unbelievable day. She decided to use that as an excuse to end this uncomfortable scene.
“I’m feeling exhausted,” she announced. “I’m all for going back to the inn and getting some rest. We can discuss things some more tomorrow.”
The others nodded in agreement, and followed Yuna and Tidus back to the inn, where they hoped tomorrow would bring answers and understanding to the questions that each of them had.
The very second his body hit the soft mattress, Chappu didn’t think he could move. He felt as though he could close his eyes and sleep forever, which was a disturbing thought. Disturbing because that thought was oddly appealing. He didn’t know that he could handle being here again. At the same time, he was afraid to go to sleep. What if he didn’t wake up?
He felt torn. He wanted to sleep; his body tired and aching. But while a part of him rejoiced in his new chance at life, the other part of him dreaded waking up in the morning; dreaded the feeling of emptiness and insecurity that he knew would accompany it. He dreaded feeling this way for the rest of whatever life he had left. He had never felt this way in the past. He never feared the future. He always embraced it, forbidding himself to have regrets, accepting what fate dealt him.
But it was not so this time. He regretted his decision to leave Besaid, to leave Lulu, his brother and friends. He regretted what it had done to them. He could see it: the look in their eyes at the mere sight of him. Instead of being overjoyed to see him, they had looked almost pained. He had upset the people dearest to him, and he felt like they were upset that he had returned. It hadn’t been his fault; he knew that it hadn’t been his choice to return. To see their pain, and have them look at him in such a way, was almost too much for him.
And now he felt a sense of identity loss. He didn’t feel like himself anymore. The Chappu that he was would not have been afraid. The Chappu that he was felt no fear, just accepted things as they came. Now this fear inside seemed to gnaw away at his insides.
He sighed, trying not to dwell on it. He had never dwelt on things for too long, and he was determined not to let it bother him, especially when he was so tired. His mind felt like it was going to explode, and he had a feeling that hearing the story of what had happened to the others was going to make his head hurt worse. Sleep would definitely do him some good.
Fortunately, the instant he closed his eyes, sleep began to overtake him. He smiled slightly, hoping for pleasant dreams to fill his empty memories.
The ocean. Blue, deep, an endless darkness. Surrounding him. He was an excellent swimmer, but for some reason, he couldn’t move fast enough. Something seemed to be pulling him under. Something huge. He tried to scream, but no sound came out. He flailed his arms and legs out, kicking and struggling with every last ounce of strength he had. But to no avail. Above him, the moonlight glinted on the surface of the water, but it was getting farther and farther away. And the darkness grew and grew, until he could see nothing.
Panic filled his heart. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be! He needed help! Who would help him? Was there anyone who knew he was in trouble?
Suddenly a hand shot out from nowhere and grabbed him, pulling against the unseen force that was dragging him down into oblivion. He couldn’t see the person…couldn’t see anything, really, but he was being pulled to the surface again. The hand was strong, gripping his and pulling him along like he weighed nothing. Finally, he broke the surface, and wondrous air filled his lungs. He breathed in deeply, and turned to thank whoever it was that had saved him.
Confused, he looked around him. There was no one there. No sign of anyone. Who had just saved him?
In the distance, he could see a beach. It looked very much like Besaid island…but, was that smoke in the distance? It looked like…
Besaid was burning! Was everyone in the village? Screaming, he tried to swim to shore, but to his horror, the unseen force was pulling him down again. He screamed again and kicked out with all his might, finally hitting something solid and breaking free of its grasp.
He could hear faint screams. Oh god, it was horrible. Too horrible for words! He wouldn’t make it in time! Frantically, he scrambled towards the shore, the water seeming to drag him down even more so as he moved. Panic filled his heart. How in the world did this happen? Why?
Finally he reached the shore and stumbled towards the smoke in the distance. His feet seemed to slow him down as he stumbled through the lush green underbrush of the forest. There was no time to take the path, he had to take a shortcut. He ignored the giant leaves slapping him in the face as he ran with every ounce of strength he had left. He had to save the villagers!
When he finally broke through to the clearing, the sight of the village burning was almost too much for him to take. For a few moments he could only stare in shock. Was this really Besaid village? Was he really seeing this happen? He began to feel light-headed, but took a deep breath, trying to clear his thoughts. There was no time! He had to get some of the people out, somehow.
He ran through the village, avoiding the flames as best he could. They seemed to reach out for him, flames licking at his legs as he made his way to each house. However, as he peered inside each one, he could see nothing but red fire and darkness. There was no way he could get inside and rescue them…most likely they were already dead. His despair mounted as he went from house to house but found no one alive.
Looming in the rear of the village was the temple, looking somehow dark and ominous. For some reason, he knew that there had to be people alive in there. Finding some shred of hope, he ran as fast as he could to the temple, breaking in the door.
Ah! Over in the corner were three people, an old man, a young man, and a young girl. They were huddling together, trembling and frightened, amidst the blazing statues and walls of the temple. He wondered why they didn’t just get up and run away. Confused, he tried to call to them.
“Hey, don’t be afraid. Follow me, I can lead you out of the village.”
They didn’t respond. Thinking perhaps they couldn’t hear him over the roar of the fire, he spoke louder. “Did you hear me? I said follow me! If you stay here, you’ll get burned!”
They still didn’t reply, and he was beginning to get irate at this point. He opened his mouth to yell at them again, but was interrupted by a soft voice from behind where he stood.
“Why are you here?”
He stopped short, and whirled around to see a slender woman with long, black hair standing there. Her eyes were hidden from sight, the flames around her seeming to cast more shadows than light on her countenance. He wanted to ask who she was, but he could not find his voice. Something about this woman gave him a cold, sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach.
After a moment of silence she repeated her question. “Why are you here? No…how are you here? You should not be in this place.”
“What do you mean?” he replied, feeling indignant at her question. He had an obligation to try to save these people! Why wasn’t she doing anything?
“I cannot save them,” she said softly, causing him to shrink away from her in shock.
“Y-you can read my thoughts?” he exclaimed.
She nodded. “Your thoughts are open to me, as is your life. Your memories, even. I see them as clearly as I see you. It is strange, though…you cannot see them.”
She stopped, and he wondered what was wrong now. Then the realization hit him that he was supposed to be saving the village! How had this woman made him forget that?
“Hey, why won’t you help me save these people?” he cried. “You’re just standing around here talking weird stuff and freaking me out.”
“I told you, I cannot save these people,” she said sadly. “I am their destruction.”
He stared at her in horrified disbelief. “Y-YOU killed them??? How? Why would you do such a thing? Who are you, anyway?”
She turned away from him. “Questions that deserve answers, but I can’t give you answers just yet.”
With that, she disappeared. He stared at the empty space where she had stood for a moment, wondering what in all of Spira had she been talking about. He then turned around to find the villagers that he had been trying to rescue just moments ago gone, having vanished along with the strange woman. A cold feeling settled in the pit of his stomach…a feeling that somehow, this was only the beginning…
Tidus’ eyes flew open, his heart seeming to catch in his chest. He struggled to breath, abhorring the smell and taste of smoke that still lingered in his senses. The darkness around him that at first seemed so obvious soon swam into focus, and he realized he was in his room at the good old Luca Inn. So real…it had been so real. Relief filled him at the realization that it was just a dream. Only a dream…
I was only a dream, he thought with bitter acknowledgment. Yet I’m here. Why does that seem so parallel to the dream I just had? Could I have really seen a premonition, or something like that? I sure hope not…it’s too awful to even comprehend.
And what about that woman? That was just creepy. I don’t even know who she is…but there was something about her that was familiar. I can’t place it…
His thoughts were interrupted by a fit of coughing, his throat dry and scratchy all of a sudden. He shuddered at the memory of the heat and smoke from the flames that seemed to smother him. That had been so real, and now he couldn’t remember ever being so thirsty. Coughing again, he got out of bed and ambled down the hallway to find the kitchen.
The kitchen door was open just a crack, the soft light spilling out into the hallway. Peering in, he could see a figure hunched over the sink, both arms on each side of the counter. Tidus could see strands of flame-red hair and immediately thought it was Wakka. But then the figure stood up and Tidus could see his face in the light. It was Chappu.
The events of the last few weeks had worked a great deal on Tidus’ mental and emotional state of mind, but having his own mirror image standing right in front of him in the flesh was downright unsettling. He had known of the other’s existence, but seeing him face-to-face in the real world was something he wasn’t sure he was prepared to deal with just yet. But there was Chappu, staring at nothing with an equally disturbed, yet distant look on his face.
What did one say to their mirror image? Aside from the red hair and goofy blitzball uniform, Chappu could be as such. Tidus supposed that things weren’t as wonderful for Chappu as they were for him, though. New discoveries, new awakenings, new anything was always hard to deal with, especially if one had been dead for three years. Tidus hadn’t taken the discovery of his own true story very well, but things had turned out fine for him. Evidently the fayth had given him another chance at life, at least that’s what he wanted to think.
So why was Chappu back? Why would the fayth decide, at that time, to give Chappu another chance at life? If that was truly what happened.
When he noticed that Chappu was looking at him, Tidus realized that he’d been staring off into space, himself, so he entered the kitchen. “Hi…couldn’t sleep, either?” he asked half-heartedly.
Chappu nodded, looking away. “Yeah. Bad dream.”
“Same here. Things were pretty crazy before yesterday. I guess it’s just the after-effects.”
“What happened before yesterday?” Chappu asked, and then it dawned on him. “Oh, right. Yuna defeated Sin. I remember someone mentioning that.”
Tidus rubbed the back of his head, wishing he could think of something to say that wouldn’t sound weird. What was he supposed to say? He was at a loss, which was quite a rare occasion.
“Yeah, Yuna defeated Sin,” he said, a little less enthusiastically than perhaps he should have. “For good, you know. Sin will never come back.”
“Sin always comes back,” Chappu stated matter-of-factly.
“Not this time. We defeated Y – " Tidus clamped his mouth shut, mentally kicking himself. Chappu didn’t know about Yu Yevon! He couldn’t tell him just yet…
But Chappu wasn’t about to leave it alone. “Defeated who? What are you talking about? Like I said, even if you defeat Sin, it always comes back. There’s nothing else, and no way to truly defeat it. Don’t you know that?”
Tidus bit his lip. “Well…” he started, wishing he could just disappear into the floor. There was no way around this now. “We found a way…to defeat Sin for good.”
Chappu stared at him, astonished. “Are you kidding? How?”
“Sin…wasn’t just Sin. It was controlled by someone else.”
Tidus cleared his throat again, desperately wishing for that drink of water now. “I, uh…don’t think I should tell you right now.”
Chappu frowned. “You can’t just stop there, you know. You’ve got to tell me, if you’re telling the truth.”
“Oh I’m telling the truth. The others would vouch for me. But…maybe you should be sitting down to hear this.”
“Just tell me already. Who was controlling Sin?”
“Yevon. Only it wasn’t the Yevon that you think, it was the real one, called Yu Yevon.”
Tidus waited for the outburst, but none came. Instead, Chappu simply stared at Tidus with a thoughtful look on his face. He then nodded his head, his lips twisted into a smirk.
“Somehow…it doesn’t surprise me,” Chappu said then, nearly causing Tidus’ jaw to drop to the floor. “I always knew something was up with that whacked religion. My brother was all gung-ho about praying and ‘atoning’ for our crimes and what not. But I never got into it. I got to thinking…if Sin hadn’t gone away for good, then what was Yevon doing to help us all this time? If we hadn’t atoned yet, then we’d never atone. I never believed that crazy belief, which if you know my brother at all you can imagine how well this went over with him. What you just told me makes sense. I believe you.”
“So you’re not angry?” Tidus asked, not believing what he was hearing.
“No way. Look, you probably think I’m like my brother, but I’m not. Wakka’s a good guy, he really is. But he’s too hotheaded for his own good. He needs to chill, relax, and learn to think for himself. That always annoyed me about him. But you say that Yevon was the sole cause of Sin? Heh…I bet that must have nearly killed my brother.”
Tidus chuckled. “Yeah, he wasn’t too thrilled.”
Chappu laughed. “Good old bro. But I bet he pulled through for you all, I know he did. He always does. Man…I missed him…”
The smile on Chappu’s face was replaced with a solemn frown, and Tidus felt the sudden light-hearted atmosphere leave the room as quickly as it came. Now it was back to uneasy silence. He felt the scratchy tickle at the back of his throat return and remembered why he had come to the kitchen anyway, so he quickly got a drink. Water had never tasted so good.
Chappu was silent for a few moments before asking out of the blue, “What was your nightmare about?”
Not really wanting to discuss it, Tidus shrugged. “I dunno…it was weird. No big deal, though. What about you?”
Chappu mimicked his shrug, looking down at his own cup of water. “I dreamed I was back in Besaid.”
Tidus nearly choked, but said nothing.
Chappu continued. “Only it wasn’t as I remembered it. Everything was on fire, and I tried to save the villagers, but I couldn’t. It was like they all had been consumed already. It felt so real; the heat, even the grass on my feet and the crackling sounds of the flames. Finally I went to the – “
“Temple…” Tidus finished for him, his voice shaking.
Chappu met his eyes in wide-eyed shock. “And I saw the – “
“Woman…with the – “
“And she said…”
“‘Why are you here?’” they finished in unison.
They stared at each other for what seemed like forever, before Tidus finally said in a low voice, “I have a really bad feeling about this.”
Stay tuned! R&R