Author Topic: Rebirth ~ The Price of Eternity [A Fan Restoration Project]  (Read 1425 times)

Danko Kaji

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Re: Rebirth ~ The Eternal Cost [Restoration Project]
« on: August 26, 2015, 03:15:45 pm »
Chapter 1
Tentative Title: Of Chasing Daylight
part two of three
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(A/N): No real major changes in content. I simply extended/fleshed out certain parts of dialogue, Lulu's in particular. However, I did face some frustration with the redundancy of 'two years' sprinkled throughout the text, so I plan to smoothen that out once I'm ready to finalize the revisions.

*

On the road, each member of the Aurochs approached Tidus to talk with him in turns. They helped him catch up with all the events during his absence; it almost felt like he had never felt. Datto and Keep told him about their team’s progress, as well as their new exercise regiment, and it made him quite proud. New players moved to live on the island in order to join the team -- news which touched his heart. The tournament in which Tidus debuted in Spira two years ago served as the triggering factor to their spike in popularity.

They all walked for about half an hour before arriving at the village, and Lulu greeted Tidus by her tent. “Tonight there will be a banquet directed by the elders,” she said. “It’s to celebrate Yuna’s long-awaited return home, and for returning the three leaders who went missing. This is the best opportunity to show yourself in your best light. Help with the preparations. Make a good impression. But before all that, you can rest there if you like. I know you must be tired trying to absorb everything that happened since you left.”

She pointed to the highest tend in the village, and Tidus recognized it as the Crusader’s lodgings.

“What do they do these days? The Crusaders, I mean.”

“These days? Whatever they want.” Lulu shrugs, crossing her arms. “Yuna’s room is inside the temple, in the same place as always.”

“Oh ho!” Wakka walked by, carrying an armful of wood that would be used for the bonfire.

At the man’s mischievous remark, Tidus felt his cheeks burn hot.

“Honestly.” Lulu sighed, annoyed. “I know what you two are up to. It goes without saying that I forbid you to go there. At least, not yet. Your behavior must not lead to confusion, so it’s be better to wait until Yuna presents you to the elders. Also, keep in mind your attitude will determine the villagers’ opinion of you. And since the temple has become useless, Yuna’s expected to support an idle clergy. You may have heard that Yuna became a sphere hunter for a time. Well, she may have been able to do whatever she wanted before, but only because she left the village without telling them. She knew that if she did, they would never have approved. Now that she has returned, she isn’t free to act on her own anymore. Don’t forget that.”

Lulu ended her long-winded tirade with a shrug, adjusting Vidina in her arms.

Bothered by this, Tidus frowned. “Isn’t she happy?”

“I don’t know. Only Yuna can tell you.”

“From what you’re telling me, that doesn’t sound like her at all.”

She nodded, casting her solemn gaze to the side, as if reflecting on her thoughts. “From what I have seen, Yuna’s feelings about everything are torn and insecure. She feels responsible for the situation, and the village stifles her with their expectations. That is why she flew all over the world with Rikku and her group, the Gullwings, to get away from it all. She wanted to live her own life, if even for a little while.”

“What do they do? The ‘Gullwings’?”

“That’s also something you’ll have to ask her yourself. But in the meantime, please do not do or say anything that can complicate her position.”

Although Tidus didn't understand, he nodded. He didn’t have to understand anything; as long as he cared about her, he would do anything to support her. “Got it.”

Lulu ducked through the flap of her tent, leaving Tidus with nothing to do except join the Aurochs at the village central area. Yuna stood in front of the temple within earshot, yet Tidus could not call out to her. It seemed like everyone wanted to talk to her, and they gave her no choice to refuse. She could always come up with an excuse to leave, she had the authority and the right to, but of course she would never do that. Kindness happened to be one of Yuna’s main strengths; as of this moment, though, it only served to annoy him.

“I’m sure she wants to talk to you, too, ya?” Wakka said, reassuring him. Perceiving the sullen, petulant look, he made an effort to negotiate for a moment of Yuna’s time, yet came back empty-handed. “They sure are keeping a sharp eye on you!”

“Why?” Tidus scowled, feeling impatient. He wondered if they were the same, old stingy ladies who told him to ‘stay away from the summoner!’ two years back. “Did they forget I was Yuna’s Guardian? I stuck by her all the way, even when they stopped her from entering Besaid, calling her a traitor and all that stuff. I deserve recognition and some respect like the rest of you, so how come I don’t see em give me either?”

“Ha! If you say so,” someone said in a sing-song voice. Rikku skipped into view, and then stopped before him to sway on her feet, giving him a roguish grin.

Tidus almost didn’t recognize the Al Bhed girl for her tanner skin and… bolder choice in clothing, or lack thereof. For some reason he could not displace, she seemed more put together in his memories.

“Hi, Tidus! It’s been a long time, huh?”

He would agree, if only he knew how long it had been. Since when did the fifteen-year-old tomboy go around flaunting her bare skin and newly developed curves?

Rikku turned in the direction from which she came, calling for someone to come over. A young woman Tidus never met before stopped beside her, sporting short, smooth hair, a stern face, and wore skin tight leather black clothes that only exposed her shoulders. The contrast between her and bright, sunny, loud Rikku startled him.

“This is Paine! A friend; she worked with us as a sphere hunter.”

“Yuna told me about you,” Paine said. “Well, more like harping, actually. But…” She paused to examine him, which unnerved him.

“Two years have passed,” Rikku said, sounding distant all of a sudden, “and yet…” Stepping closer to invade his personal space, she scrutinized him as well, her nose almost brushing his collarbone.

Tidus resisted the urge to lean back, perturbed by their morbid fascination. This bikini-toting, space-invading Al Bhed wasn’t the Rikku he knew.

Two years? He felt his stomach turn to lead. Throughout his multiple conversations with old friends, he assumed his absence had lasted a good several months, maybe a year at most. But two whole years…

“You’re the same as always!”

Rikku’s chipper declaration snapped him out of his miserable musings. He did not know whether he wanted to laugh or cry, but all the same chose to give them a smile. “Easy for you to say! Look at you!”

She made a noise of discontent, twisting away from him to fold her sleeved arms over her chest, displeased by his observation.

This motion caused him to catch sight of Yuna behind her. “You changed, too,” he said, worried. If her taste in clothing had changed, what else did? It made him wonder what else he missed about her, and whether or not he would like this bold, new side of her.

“Hellooo! I’m right here!” Rikku pouted, anchoring his attention back on her. “Man, you are different.”

“But you just said the opposite.” Tidus frowned, annoyed.

“Before, I was talking about your looks. Now I’m talking about you -- as in, the way you’re acting right now. I mean, back then you were a bit spacey, but at least you were a nice guy.”

Although offended at first, he took her remark in stride, hoping she meant it in a playful, mean way. “Geez, thanks for the compliment!”

They burst out laughing, confusing the quieter woman with their antics, and then Rikku began to narrate the events of the last two years. She told him about “The Movement for the Truth,” a popular new fad initiated by a political group that inspired people to follow, becoming sphere hunters without associations, thus eventually leading to the Gullwings… At first, Tidus flooded her with questions for each new name introduced, but now he grew annoyed by the constant flow of unknown people.

“You sound like you had a lot of fun.”

“What, are you jealous?” Rikku smirked, but then dropped the humor at the upset look on his face.

“That’s because I don’t have anything to talk about on my end. It’s frustrating. I’ve been gone for two whole years, and not a single new thing… What was I doing this entire time?”

“A break,” Paine said.

Her crooked grin made it seem like a joke, but maybe that’s just her unique way of cheering him up. In any case, Tidus knew this much: he wouldn’t learn anything if he stood around stuck in the same spot.

“I’m glad you girls had some fun,” he said, smiling. “If you had spent your days crying over me, I’d have felt guilty.”

Despite his light-hearted tone, Rikku frowned. “I didn’t cry! I was more angry than anything else. I wanted to understand why you had to disappear then, I needed to know what happened to you and why. We went all over Spira, visiting places, but after awhile I gave up, and then…” She drifted off into thought.

Tidus quirked an eyebrow. “And?”

“Yuna looked like she was really enjoying herself with us. But if you ask me, she never slacked off, even for a second. She happily jumped from one place to the next, hunting rare spheres, hosting concerts, but ultimately, her only goal… was you. She wanted to find you again. Or forget you. I don’t know.” She added as an afterthought, pinching her peaceful expression into a frown.

It disheartened him to hear that Rikku would think her cousin wanted to move from him. But then again, he couldn’t blame her. Two years… Just the repeating echo of those simple words were killing him.

“Me?”

“Yeah. She left the village when I showed her this sphere of you.”

“What? I was in a sphere?”

“Well, it wasn’t exactly you. This guy, Shuyin, and the woman he loved, Lenne, they had lived in Zanarkand a thousand years ago. Lenne was this famous singer, and a Summoner, too, just like Yunie. I can’t really begin to explain the horrors they experienced together, but all you need to know is Shuyin’s practically a spitting image of you. Yuna even wondered whether or not it was really you, but she believed it could be her biggest clue to find you again. But after all that, we found ourselves standing in front of an ancient war machine from Bevelle!”

Rikku’s tall tale overwhelmed him, and he breathed. “Are you serious?” Such a crazy story, but then again, the world of Spira often defied common sense (or at least the common sense he grew up with), such as the true nature behind Dream Zanarkand, so he decided to stay quiet.

“I know! It was unbelievable!” Rikku rolled her eyes, bouncing on her heels with barely contained energy, her arms swaying at her sides. “But I’ve seen it with my own eyes, so I can’t deny it. If I stopped to think about the grand scope of things, I would probably be dead! I didn’t have time to think or try to understand. I had to fight, or else Spira would have been toast!”

In order to further illustrate her point, she playfully wrapped her hands around his neck and stuck her tongue out.

Tidus laughed, breaking the solemn air with amusement.

“The machine was called Vegnagun,” Paine said, bringing the two dorks back into orbit.

Tidus raised an eyebrow; he never heard someone call a machina a machine.

“It was enormous, and would have definitely massacred everyone if Lenne hadn’t of stopped Shuyin. Oh, and Lenne was hiding out in Yuna’s songstress Dressphere. For some reason, she chose to communicate through Yuna. Anyway, Shuyin ended up activating Vegnagun once more, and we had to deal with it.” Paine narrowed her eyes on him, making him uncomfortable.

“W-What are you looking at?”

“You.” She relaxed, crossing her arms. “According to Yuna, the Fayth promised to bring you back in exchange for saving Spira again.”

“So, I’m here thanks to him?”

“No!” Rikku said. “Yuna went out of her way to find you, not him!”

At her loud exclamation, all other conversations broke off so that everyone turned towards their small group. The elders surrounding their beloved Summoner frowned at him, and Tidus felt the heavy pressure of their judging eyes. Why, when Rikku had been the one who made that outburst? Through the throng of people, his eyes met Yuna’s. She smiled, mouthing the words ‘sorry’ and ‘later,’ and he smiled in return. For some mild revenge, he decided to demonstrate his disappointment at her show of restraint by acting casual, shrugging. Perhaps she failed to understand his mirth, because she once again mouthed ‘later,’ enunciating the syllables more slow. One of the women who noticed their exchange frowned, looking between them and reprimanding Yuna who simply apologized, before returning to their conversation.

‘Later’ appeared to never come, though, because the elders spoke to her for a long time until a matron declared that Yuna needed to change from her scant attire and proceeded to cart her away into the temple. Tidus preoccupied himself in the meantime, joining in the preparations for the banquet by Lulu’s suggestion. Since the entire village largely contributed in the efforts, Tidus soon found himself with nothing to do, wandering back to Rikku and Paine with a sheepish grin.

Understanding the poor boy’s plight for company, they told him about what happened during his long absence, starting with Kimahri and how the Ronso Elder found that fateful sphere, alluding to New Yevon, the Youth League, and the Machine Faction. Tidus didn’t bother trying to keep up with these new onslaught of names, regardless of how important they might be. The more they embellished the events of Yuna’s concert, first the imposter’s and then her own, the more they were irritating him. How could they make light of such a life-threatening adventure? Maybe he had to be there to understand…

“What’s the matter?" Rikku asked him. “Are you in a bad mood?”

“Wha? Of course not…”

“Yeah, right! You’re lying -- I could tell from the look on your face.” She looked downright upset, pointing her finger at him. “I mean, I did my best to tell you everything, and you… If that’s how you’re going to be, then fine. I’m going to the airship!”

Paine and Tidus watched her stomp off towards the entrance, exiting the village while leaving them in awkward silence, and they exchanged weary looks.

“Don’t take it personally,” Paine said, trying to alleviate his guilt. “I’m sure she only said it out of anger. It’s not just Yuna; Rikku hasn’t see you in so long, she probably got overexcited.”

Tidus gave her a small smile; he appreciated her efforts in cheering him up, even though they haven’t known each other for very long. Paine told him to let Yuna know that the Gullwings were going to leave and that they would come back in a few days. Tidus thought to ask why they didn’t want to stay, but instead chose to mumble some words as his way of answer.

There’s nothing worse than being alone in the middle of a crowd with too many things to do. Not wanting to feel stranded, he sought refuge in the Crusade’s tent -- or should he call it the Auroch’s lodge? -- and collapsed into a vacant bed. Questions and thoughts filled his mind as the day wore on. ‘Soon.” Tidus thought. He closed his eyes and allowed his mind to drift, imagining Yuna’s face the moment they met again.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 11:27:19 pm by Danko Kaji »
Lost in the winds of change~

"There's some things you can't do alone,
but they become easy with friends beside you."

Consider me a wandering 'Maechen' of FFX/X-2 lore.