A/N:  The slightly revised Chapter 7.  Not really a whole lot has changed, just some things here and there.  

Chapter 7 – Dreams of Reality 

The forest was quiet, all of the turmoil of the night fading with the sunlight as it streamed through the thick forest leaves to brush her face, tear-streaked and pale. Kora laid still, her back against the trunk of a large tree, where she had collapsed after running as hard as she could away from that village, and the nightmare that she had suddenly awakened to.

She had no recollection of burning the village, for her mind was lost to her captor when he had taken over. But for reasons unknown, he had in some way lost his grip on her mind, and for the time being she had control, however limited it might be. She could not move, her body was fatigued and she had to rest. It was ironic, in a way.

She could still feel his presence around her, within her, everywhere; inactive for the time being, but still there. He was speaking to her, in that voice that she had come to despise, which hurt her much worse than what he had done. Never had she imagined she would ever hate him, but she did. Her hatred burned inside of her, like the village he had just destroyed with her help. And also like those innocent civilians had been consumed, her anger and bitterness was consuming what was left of her innocence and purity. Soon she would be nothing but evil, a threat to the world, just as he had become. His presence was driving her slowly to the brink of destruction and she could feel herself slipping away, little by little.

‘Nonsense, my dear,’ his cold voice cut through her thoughts, and she remembered that he knew her mind; nothing was hidden from him now. ‘Soon, now, your soul will be completely one with mine. For now, we are still separated by the broken connections of this world and the next. The ones who would send me away from you are soon to discover the recompense of their treason.’

“Treason? You destroy everything that the people of this world hold dear. You do nothing but cause pain and suffering. Why would I ever want to have anything to do with you?”

She could almost hear him chuckle. ‘You forget my dear, not only can I see your every thought, but I feel all that you feel. My emotions died ages ago, when I was that weak, pitiful form of a human. I am but an extended form of that man, so to speak; I remember all that he did, I know all that he did, but I am higher than he was. I am more. He was nothing, a wandering soul lost in the sea of fragile humanity.’

He was something to me,” she replied sadly.

‘And that is how I know that you could never leave me. You don’t want to be alone anymore, and you long for the man you call your husband. You need not want him back, my dear. I am more than that man.’

“You are a monster. The man I knew never would have committed acts such as these. You mock what he stood for.”

He chuckled again. ‘Such harsh words, spoken in ignorance. He stood for nothing, because he knew nothing. As for this, the joining of our souls, I do all of this for you, don’t you see? I want to end your suffering, Kora. I feel your pain just as you feel it.’

“You have done nothing but cause me pain.”

‘My dear, you don’t understand. Once our souls join to become one, you will feel no more pain. You will have no more need for human emotions such as pain, pleasure, hate, or love. None of those things will matter to you anymore. You will have attained true peace and immortality.’

“Why, then, do you cause so much chaos and pain to others if all you are interested in is peace?”

‘You say that as though you expect me to enjoy it. I won’t deny that yes; I did enjoy destroying that village. It was the source of unrest, caused by the ones who destroyed me.’

“You don’t know that,” she pleaded. “They were innocent people.”

‘What is innocence but a lack of knowledge? This concept of innocence is nothing more than ignorance. They knew nothing, and will never know anything. These people disrupted the order that I had laid out for them. It’s not a matter of revenge; it’s a matter of order. Simplicity. I had derived a simple solution to their droll, meaningless little lives by giving them what they wanted. They wanted a higher being to look up to, and I gave it to them. They wanted their lives to be simple, and they wanted a set of rules to follow. I gave it all to them. They needed their little religion to keep them hopeful and give their lives meaning, and all had been going well until they began to question the validity of their beliefs. I am merely trying to put them back in their place.’

“You have given them false hope, and false beliefs,” she replied pointedly. “They had a religion before you. Remember? You are nothing compared to the powers we relied on back then. The summoners…we had the help of beings that could never compare to you.”

‘Those beings are long gone, my dear. They were temporary. I am eternal.’

Kora was silent for a moment. “You are lying.”

‘Believe it if you wish. They are gone.’ He chuckled again, and continued. ‘My dear, you are failing to see the grander scheme of things. Destroying an entire village is necessary for many reasons. It is to make a statement. A statement to those who rebelled against me, that the deaths of these people are in their hands. And a statement to the world, that their treachery will not be tolerated. These people do not know what truth is even if it were to stare them in the face. They see what they want to see. I am merely trying to maintain order in this world and save it from the destruction of these pitiful beings.’

“You are trying to maintain your status as a god,” she retorted sharply. “You are nothing but an evil demon.”

A moment of silence passed before she heard him say quietly, ‘We shall see whose side you are on in the end.’

She did not reply. In the end, she would have no choice, and she knew it.  However she still could not resist biting back, “You may force my body to do evil, but my heart will know the difference.”


He said nothing in return, but his silence was less than comforting, even if he did insist on torturing her with his words.

However, at the moment, she did have a small hope that she had discovered a sort of means of stopping him. She was beginning to formulate a plan involving the two men she had seen in the village. That entire encounter had left her confused, but in awe. They had power, extreme power, to have communicated with her on such a level; a level that few had ever had the ability to do. They had extended their consciousness much like she had in the ruins when she communicated with Omega. She knew that they did not realize they had this power; it had happened by accident, which was something that she could not figure out.

And she also knew that he had been lying about the fayth. She had heard them! Their singing…in her dark prison beneath the earth…she had heard them singing. Even in her dreams she had heard them. They couldn’t be gone…could they? It nearly ripped her heart into pieces to think of them as gone. They had been their only company. Had he destroyed them, somehow?

She would find out.

She also wondered if he had seen what she had, how the two of them had come to her. He had not mentioned it, though she knew that he most likely saw them. It was indeed quite odd. She found it even more odd that she could read their thoughts, and see their memories. It had been a shock to regain her consciousness and find herself in the midst of fiery carnage. But then to see those two boys, who looked so lost and confused, appear in front of her, was something that shook her entirely. Even more shocking was that their thoughts, their memories, and their pasts were completely laid out for her like an open book. Memories and pasts that were hidden from them. And because of what she saw, she knew then that if there was indeed a higher power, truly she could believe in one now.

For if they were not able to help her, she knew now what could. She remembered something that had happened long, long ago…something that she had forgotten. But she could not do anything about it until she knew for certain that they were as she thought; until then, she would have to find a time to talk to them again. How, she had no idea. But she would find a way.


When Chappu and Tidus both strode into the hotel lobby the next morning, looking like they’d been run over by a herd of chocobos, the others were waiting for them. Rikku was fidgeting with one braid of her hair, looking bored. Yuna was standing next to a window, looking pensive with a small smile on her face. Wakka had his back turned to them, pretending to look at the row of books lined against the wall. Lulu was sitting in a chair, her legs crossed and a slight frown on her face that clearly read that she was wishing she could be anywhere but there.

All eyes looked up to see them walk in, staring at them with hesitant expectancy, as though they were supposed to give a speech or something. With an eerie likeness, Tidus and Chappu unanimously raised their hands in a somewhat nervous greeting, grinning their lopsided grins and said, “So…uh, good morning, all.”

“Good morning,” Yuna said, smiling at them warmly. “Did you two sleep well?”

Chappu rubbed his head. “Not really.”

“Me neither,” Tidus added. The two of them exchanged a knowing glance.

“Ah, I’m sorry to hear that,” Yuna replied, concerned. “Are you ok?” she asked Tidus.

“Uh…yeah, I’m fine.”

“And you, Chappu? Do you need anything?”

He smiled. “No, I’m…ok, I guess.”

“That’s good!”

Rikku jumped up out of her chair and glared at them, pointing a finger at them accusingly.

“I should hope you’re ok! We’ve been sitting here forever waiting on you two!” she announced. “We thought you two were going to sleep all day! Geez, it’s about time you got up. I’m hungry! Let’s go get some breakfast!”

“The café down the street told us that we could eat there for free!” Yuna exclaimed as she took Tidus by the arm and led him through the door. “Come on!”

Yuna was out the door in a flash, dragging poor Tidus behind her, who was protesting loudly because of it.

An awkward silence fell between the four of them left standing there. Wakka cleared his throat, looking very much like he wanted to say something to Chappu but didn’t quite know what or how to say it. Lulu seemed frozen to the floor, caught between walking out as fast as she could and staying there. Chappu also looked like he wanted to talk, but he looked deathly afraid of speaking. He could feel the anxiety in the air as thick as it was last night, and he had a feeling that anything he said would set either Wakka or Lulu off. But he decided to try it anyway.

“Morning, bro,” he said, offering to shake hands with Wakka. The older brother regarded him silently for a moment before taking his hand and shaking it. A smile formed on Wakka’s face.

“Morning to you, bro.”

Chappu then turned to Lulu, who stared at him with a look much like a chocobo caught between two chocobo eaters. He grappled for the words; there was so much he wanted to say to her. But instead, all that came out was, “Good morning to you, Lulu.”

She nodded slowly, and looked down at the floor. “Good morning…Chappu…”

Rikku regarded the three of them with barely contained interest and amusement. It was so obvious that there was something going on between Lulu and Wakka, and now that Chappu was there, it just added to the complications.  It was too much for Rikku.  Oh well; if they weren’t going to start talking, they were keeping her from breakfast. Without another thought, she grabbed Chappu’s arm and dragged him out the door much like Yuna had done to Tidus.

“Knock it off, people!” she exclaimed, irritated. “You can do this later! After breakfast!”

Wakka and Lulu stared after Rikku in astonishment, and silently thanked her. Until they realized they were the only two left. Lulu found this even more uncomfortable than before. Especially because of the way Wakka was staring at her.

“What?” she asked finally as they both walked out the door, following the others. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Maybe that’s because I don’t believe what I’m seeing.”

“And what is that?” she asked, indignant.

“What do you think?” he snapped, a bit more harshly than intended, and winced when he saw her flinch at his words. “I can’t believe you aren’t happy to see him. He’s here, Lu. He’s not a dream, ya know.”

“Of course I know that! That’s why it’s so hard to…” her voice broke off, and she looked away.

“What do you mean? Just last night you said you’d be happy to see him and now you’re not?”

“I AM happy to see him…I suppose. Last night I would have never in a million years believed that he’d ever show up looking just like he always did! Last night I actually started to…oh never mind, you wouldn’t understand. And besides, you really don’t seem overjoyed that he’s here, either. I find that just as unbelievable.”

“Of course I’m happy that he’s here!” Wakka retorted.

“Then what’s the problem?”

He sighed. “It was just such a shock to see him. As much as I wanted him to be alive, I gave up hope of ever getting him back, you know? And maybe…maybe I started to think…” he stopped, and shook his head. “No…it’s nothing. I guess we just gotta get used to him being back, is all. It was different when Tidus returned; it wasn’t three years since he…you know…”

She nodded silently.

He scratched his head, and dared to ask the question that had been on his mind all night long. “So…what are you going to do now?”

She met his eyes, and replied sincerely, “I don’t know.”


Breakfast, for the most part, was quiet, all of them content to merely eat and keep their thoughts to themselves. Little minor conversations went on in an attempt to keep the atmosphere feeling normal instead of awkward. Rikku had tried many times and failed to start a conversation with Chappu, who seemed lost in his own thoughts. However, she had learned at an early age to be persistent, compliments of her father.

“So, Chappu,” she began, for the sixth or seventh time; she’d lost count. “Tell me, has anyone told you about how we defeated Sin this time around?”

He nodded. “Yes, I believe it was him who told me,” he replied, pointing to Tidus, who was rapidly stuffing his face.

“Oh he told you already? So you know about Yu Yevon and all that?”

He nodded again, not really feeling like talking about that subject, or any subject for that matter. It reminded him too much of that strange dream he’d had. He and Tidus had agreed not to tell the rest of the group about their dreams for fear of causing unnecessary apprehension. “Yes I know all about Yu Yevon and his deceptiveness. He told me that, too.”

“So you know that he was evil instead of the god that everyone though he was?”


“Bevelle is in turmoil now because of it. They’re not quite sure what to think of all this. I personally believe that the maesters knew about it all along, but of course I don’t know that for sure.”

He nodded again and stared at her meaningfully. Translation: Get to the point.

“So that means that the Al Bhed were right all along. I’m Al Bhed, you know.”

“Yes I know. Your eyes are Al Bhed.”

His calm response took her by surprise. She had been expecting him to launch into a speech much like Wakka would; the older brother was currently lost in his own thoughts, as well, and said nothing. Chappu stared at her, wondering what she was trying to get out of him.

“Look, uh…” he began, and grappled for her name. “Rikku, is it?”


“Rikku, right. You might think I was against the Al Bhed, but I wasn’t. I did join them once a long time ago, and the Crusaders…in an operation to defeat Sin…” his voice trailed off, and he looked down at his plate.

She swallowed hard. “Oh yeah…I forgot about that. Sorry.”

“No need for you to be sorry,” he said. “So you probably thought that I hated the Al Bhed because of Yu Yevon, is that right?”

“Well…I didn’t know, I mean your brother – “

“My brother is my brother. I’m not him.”

Before Rikku could reply, Yuna stood up and cleared her throat to get everyone’s attention. All eyes and ears turned towards her as she began to speak.

“Everyone…it’s been a rough time for all of us,” she started slowly, fidgeting with the cloth of her sleeves. “And I want to thank you for your support. I know that some things have happened that we can’t explain, such as the return of Tidus and Chappu, but let us welcome them both back equally. I know I can say without a doubt that I am truly happy to have both of them here with me.” She blushed prettily, and smiled at Tidus. “I never would have made it through without you…” She then turned to Chappu and smiled just as warmly. “Chappu…I know it must be hard for you to be here. It…it’s somewhat hard for the rest of us,” she admitted. “Your…loss, it was very painful for us.  But it is in the past. For whatever reason, you’re here now, and I’m glad. Welcome back!”

Chappu felt his throat tighten, and said nothing. He could only nod his thanks, briefly remembering how little Yuna, who had always been as close as a sister to him, always had a way with words that could reduce him to a weeping baby in seconds.

She smiled and continued. “So…what I guess I’m getting at is that the future is ahead of all of us. We have so many new opportunities and possibilities now open to us, and I don’t even know where to begin. I must admit that…I never thought this far ahead. What choice did I have at the time? I just wonder what the rest of you are planning on doing now that the threat is finally over, and we can return to our lives as normal.”

Rikku spoke up, her voice pleading. “Ohhh, don’t leave yet, Yunie!” she cried. “I don’t want anyone to leave yet! I’m having too much fun here.”

Yuna giggled. “I don’t know that anyone’s leaving so soon, Rikku,” she replied.

“I’m staying here,” Wakka announced. “I want to practice with the team, ya know.” He made a slight glance at Lulu, who was staring at her half-eaten breakfast.

“So, Lulu, what about you?” Yuna asked.

The raven-haired mage looked up and shook her head. “I…I don’t know just yet…”

Yuna nodded, understanding. “Rikku, did you have any plans in the near future?”

The young Al Bhed shrugged. “My father wanted to look for a new site for Home. He’ll be back sometime when he finds one, but until then I’m free to tag along with whomever I want.”

“So…that leaves me, Tidus and…Chappu,” Yuna finished, glancing at the latter. “I have given it a little bit of thought, and considered going back to Besaid. I don’t know if I want to keep living there…I think I might. It’s such a nice village, and I have lots of fond memories there.”

Chappu suddenly realized someone was missing. “Hey, Yuna…where’s Kimarhi?”

Yuna sighed sadly. “Kimarhi has gone to Mt. Gagazet, to mourn the his tribe. He was deeply affected by their loss. It’s a great heartbreak for him, so I told him to go and participate in the mourning ritual of his people. I don’t know when he will be back.”

Chappu nodded. He hadn’t known Kimarhi very well; not many people did except for Yuna. “How were they killed?”

“An tortured, insane man named Seymour,” Yuna replied. “His story’s an entirely different one.”

“So…have you thought about what you want to do?” Tidus asked Chappu, changing the subject.

“Not really, I –“

Suddenly, a frantic voice came over the sphere monitor, interrupting Chappu and immediately gaining the attention of nearly everyone in the city of Luca, including the café. Everyone stopped and turned to look at the frazzled-looking woman holding a piece of paper, her hands shaking violently.

“ATTENTION!!! We’ve just received word from a Kilika cargo ship. The village of Besaid has burned to the ground! I repeat: the village of Besaid has been burned to the ground. The cause is unknown at this point. Please remain calm. We do not know if this was an attack or an accident. There are two survivors, both unknown at the time. Our deepest grievances for the families and friends of the victims of this horrible, horrible tragedy…”

The silence that fell over the café was deafening. Not a word was said, all trying to determine in their minds whether they had really heard that right. Surely an entire village wouldn’t be destroyed…especially not anymore, since Sin was defeated. Things like that just didn’t happen when Sin wasn’t around. Even if the person had told them to remain calm, there was no remaining calm…not when the reality of this sank in.

The reality was sinking in for both Tidus and Chappu as the two of them exchanged fearful glances. That both of them had witnessed, in their sleep, the actual destruction of Besaid was a bit too much to comprehend. How in the world were they supposed to deal with this information? Both felt panic rise within them. This was bad…very bad.

Yuna gripped Tidus’s arm, in desperate need of support. “I…didn’t just hear that, did I?” she whispered. “Please tell me I didn’t just hear that…”

“I heard it, too,” Wakka mumbled, in shock. “I don’t believe it. I won’t believe it until I see it.”

Rikku jumped to her feet, holding her head with both hands and shaking it in disbelief. “This just isn’t real!” she cried. “This isn’t supposed to be happening. We killed Sin, didn’t we? Sin can’t come back, can it?”  Her voice rose to a higher pitch with each question, as she was going into hysterics.

“Rikku, calm down,” Lulu said firmly. “Of course Sin can’t come back now. We defeated it for good. It could have been an accident. A very…unfortunate accident…”

Rikku didn’t look convinced. “Are you sure? What could have destroyed an entire village like that?”

Silence fell over them once more, surrounded by the frenzied talking of the other people in the café. Yuna began to cry quietly, her arms around Tidus, who didn’t know what else to do besides gently pat her on the shoulder and let her cry.  His eyes searched the table, and was instantly met with Chappu’s gaze, a single question within both identical pairs of eyes.  Chappu shook his head, ‘no’, which conveyed enough of an answer to Tidus.  Neither one of them wanted to mention their dream…no matter how frighteningly accurate it was, and neither one wanted to admit that they were truly not surprised by the news.  That dream had been entirely too real.

            Lulu shook her head, fighting back her own tears over the village that had been her home most of her life.  She wasn’t afraid of crying…she was only afraid that if she started crying, she wouldn’t be able to stop.  And she was afraid…perhaps a bit irrationally, but still afraid of both Wakka and Chappu trying to comfort her, and she didn’t want another fight.  As surreal as everything seemed at that moment…Chappu sitting just inches away from her, looking alive and well…and now the news that her childhood home had been burned to the ground, she felt completely and totally lost.  She didn’t really know what to do.  Or what to say.  And that also made her feel incredibly helpless…something else that she loathed.

            Wakka felt numb.  None of this should be happening, his mind tried to reason.  His mind seemed to be going in ten different directions.  He hadn’t even had time to dwell on the fact that his brother just all of a sudden showed up as though he’d never been dead, not to mention all of the repercussions that had run through Wakka’s mind the instant that he’d seen Chappu standing there looking as though he’d just been for a casual swim.  He’d also felt extremely guilty that he had been so short with Chappu, like he wasn’t happy to see his own brother…and truthfully, Wakka really didn’t know whether he was or not, which just made it worse.  And now this.  What in the world was he supposed to worry about?  It was too much.  Just too much.

            Finally, after a long, dreadful silence, Rikku was the one to speak.  “So…what are we going to do now?”

            Yuna brushed the tears from her eyes.  “We…we go to Besaid.  It’s only right that I send the people there to rest in peace.  After all they did for me…”

            “Are you sure, Yuna?” Lulu asked.  “We can get another summoner to perform the sending.”

            “No,” she replied firmly.  “I must do this last thing for them.”

            Lulu shrugged.  “It is your right to do so as you wish, Yuna,” she said softly.  “We will go with you.”

            Yuna smiled.  “Thank you.”  She then turned to Rikku.  “Will you call your father and have him pick us up in the airship as soon as possible?  Please tell him that it’s an emergency.”

            “Sure thing!” Rikku replied, and ran outside and back to the hotel, where she had left her communications device. 

            Yuna then addressed the rest of them, her hand gripping Tidus’ as she spoke.  “Everyone…I don’t know what has happened to Besaid, but we will find out.  After I perform the sending, I want to go to Kilika, where they will have taken the survivors.  We need to talk to them.  They may be able to tell us what, or who, caused the fire.”

            Lulu looked concerned.  “What if it was simply an accident?”

            Yuna shook her head.  “It’s very possible that it may have been an accident.  But something tells me that it wasn’t.  Perhaps…perhaps I’m being paranoid, but I want to find out for myself.”

            “Yuna…Sin is gone,” Wakka said in a low voice.  “It isn’t coming back.”

            “I know,” she replied.  “But I just have this feeling.”  She looked to Tidus for support.

            He squeezed her hand.  “Well, we’re in this together, so whatever happens, we’ll be there for you!” 

            She smiled at his enthusiasm.  “Again, thank you so much.”

            “Hey, what are we here for?” Wakka asked, his own enthusiasm seeming to come back.  “Besides, if it wasn’t an accident, we gotta make ‘em pay, ya?”

            Tidus raised his hand.  “Ya – I mean, of course!”