A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

BY : tuatha
Category: Final Fantasy X > General
Dragon prints: 1094
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy X, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

Part Twenty-six


We made our way down the path, fighting as we went. After all our journeying
we'd grown stronger, faster, more skilled at despatching the fiends that
crossed our path. Auron was unstoppable and he remained in the front line.
As each new threat presented itself he would size up a target and strike,
more often than not sending it skyward in a shower of pyreflies in one hit.

When we reached level ground we paused to set up camp near a shallow open
depressio the the road. I scouted around for fuel for the fire, picking up
dried branches and sticks from what must have been ornamental gardens that
had bloomed here once, now dead like the rest of the city.

"They will not burn." Auron spoke, as he watched me. I paused as he came
over to me. He took a piece that I'd gathered and crushed it to dust within
his gloved fist as I watched. I let the rest fall while he gave me an
inscrutable look. Then he turned, taking up his sword. "This will, though."

He strode to the doorway of a building, now just a bare arch without door,
standing roofless and empty. He measured the lintel with his eye, then
heaved his sword up and struck the doorway as if weilding an axe. Splinters
rained down, the wood creaked, and then he struck once more, and again,
until several pieces were scattered around his feet. We gathered them
together and with one of Kimahri's firebricks soon had a blazing fire to
counteract the chill of the oncoming night.

Tidus rose, and exchanged a wordless glance with Yuna before climbing an
embankment to again gaze over the city. I sat with my head in my hands and
thought back to the time I'd first met them all, how I'd brightly boasted
that I'd be the merriest of our party. They seemed incredibly foolish words
in hindsight, although as I looked around there wasn't much cheer in
evidence.

Lulu looked grim and determined as she gazed at the fire, while Wakka looked
uncertain and lost sitting beside her. Yuna was contained, but there was no
hesitant smile gracing her visage, and the hope that had always shone in her
eyes was dimmed, although she looked a little brighter when Tidus returned
and sat beside her.

Even Tidus who could be relied upon to lighten the mood seemed abstracted
and moody. Kimahri's emotions were no more visible than when I first met
him, but his shoulders bowed as he stood by the fire, no longer held back
with the pride of the Ronso. How terrible it must feel, to think that most
if not all of your race had been murdered in cold blood.

I thought of my own people, the scattered remnants of my tribe after
Seymour's deadly invasion, of how few of us were left and felt a tear
trickle down my cheek. I wiped it away hastily and glanced up, to see Auron
regarding me with a look of sympathy that sent another tear coursing its way
downward, following the path of the first.

I looked back into the fire and wondered where the airship was now. I missed
my father, missed the way he laughed, his booming voice, the way he'd hug me
like he'd never let go. The way he made me feel special, like I was loved no
matter where I went or what happened in my life.

I covered my face with my hands, to hide the shame of my tears, trying to
pretend I wasn't a weak little girl who wanted to be safe at home, where her
dad would tuck her into bed and tell her a bedtime story, a story that
didn't have anything to do with Sin, or saving the world, or watching her
companions face death on a daily basis.

I felt a stirring of air behind me, then Auron's arms came around my
shoulders. He leaned against me, his face resting against mine, holding me
securely in his arms. In the aftermath of everything terrible we'd faced,
and with the future looming before us I felt a stillness at the centre of
this moment, felt his steady breath and his heartbeat as he made me feel
like I was home and safe in his arms.

I was so grateful for the feeling I began to cry again as I turned and
buried myself in his embrace. He stroked my shoulder as I cried out my fear
and loneliness, and seemed content to simply hold me after I'd finished.
Drained and exhausted I slept, comforted by his closeness and the warmth of
his arms around me.

The next morning the sun rose in an ugly red blaze, a sky that warned of
clouds brooding on the horizon and promising storms before evening. Yuna
stood and looked once more at the path before us, then turned to the rest of
us.

"I'd like...I think perhaps we should rest here, just for another day." She
gave Auron a pleading look, then continued. "If Kimahri wouldn't mind..."

"Kimahri will go back to cave, catch fish."

Yuna nodded. "Yes, that's what I was thinking. If that's alright with
everybody..." Again she looked at Auron, who looked down at the ground, his
features settling into a look of resignation.

"It is fine."

He walked away, towards a bluff on the left, and Yuna seemed to let out her
breath in relief. Lulu stood.

"Wakka and I will go with Kimahri."

"Thank you." Yuna replied to her offer.

Wakka looked surprised. "Can't we stay here? I...Ow!"

Whatever objection he was going to voice was silenced with a sharp movement
of Lulu's foot.
He rubbed his side and frowned up at her, but stood and gathered up his
things without further argument. Lulu walked over to me and paused.

"Worrying won't help."

I nodded in agreement, although it was easier to say 'stop worrying' than it
actually was to do it, but she meant well. "Make the most of your day. We'll
try to be back before sunset."

"Be careful." I told her, and she smiled.

"I'll do my best."

She waved as she left, her moogle mimicking her movement with a sideways
waggle of its paw. I watched briefly as she followed Kimahri up the road,
Wakka following in her wake with his ball under his arm. Then I turned to
follow Auron.

I found him in a ruined tower that overlooked the city. He was gazing out of
what was once a window, now just an empty expanse in the wall. His back was
turned to me, but he turned his head sideways, acknowledging my presence as
he heard me enter.

"It's been ten years."

He sighed. "I've seen this barren wastelend in my dreams, felt its emptiness
tear me apart inside. I'm so tired of it, Rikku."

He turned and held out his hand to me, and I walked forward slowly, letting him take my hand and draw me to the window before him. He rested his hands on my shoulders, gazing at me.

I had intended to berate him, still angry about his failure to tell us about
Jecht being Sin, but I couldn't, not seeing him like this. I still needed to know the answer but my question was phrased gently.

"Why didn't you tell anyone about Jecht? When you knew what Yevon was
hiding..."

"Who would I tell?

"The maesters already knew. No devout Yevonite would
believe such heresy, not even from the guardian of the High Summoner
himself. I would have been tortured and killed to free me of the 'delusions'
caused by Sin's toxin."

I frowned. "We would have believed. If you'd come to my father..."

"Do you really think I'd want to have that on my conscience as well? To
spark another holy war between Yevon and the Al Bhed? You know now that
Yevon would sooner kill every one of you than admit the truth."

"Oh!" The more I thought about it the more apparent the truth of his words
were. "I see."

"This was the only way."

"You're going to save Yunie, right?" A sudden fear gripped me. "You're not
going to...to become...like Sir Jecht are you?"

His face darkened. "It is not my intention to do so. Nor is it my intention
to let Yuna suffer the same fate her father did. I will free Jecht. Beyond
that..."

"Promise me. You won't..."

"Rikkuknowknow what it is to be the one left behind. I promise..."
brokbroke off and laughed humourlessly. "My promises multiply like rabbits in
a meadow. Save Yuna. Save Tidus. Save Jecht. Save you...if I can do all
that...will you forgive me?"

"Forgive you?" My lips were numb, and I shivered. He was scaring me with his
strange words, the fervency and desperation with which he spoke.

"I can't..." He turned away and when he remained silent I reached out to
touch his shoulder.

"Auron?"

"I can't tell you!" The words were wred fed from him, then he turned and
collapsed to his knees, burying his head against my stomach as his arms
curled around my waist, gripping me tightly as his chest began to heave.

"I can't..."

My heart was struck with tenderness and pity. How could this be the same man
who'd been so strong for me the night before? The man who'd led us so far,
with such determination and courage to this point? I stroked his hair,
leaning over him until his grip loosened so I could slide down and wrap my
arms around him.

"I love you." I told him and I kissed his rough cheek, tasting his mouth,
salty with remorse and sweet with desire. We collapsed to the dusty floor,
his weight over me comforting as his hands wove into my hair. It was so
familiar, my love for him burning like a flame. His mouth broke away from
mine and he looked down at me.

"You don't know...I can't go on with this." He lifted himself away, staring
down at me in despair as I lay bereft on the floor. Then his gaze turned
away.

"I'm the worst kind of failure, a miserable liar who is too cowardly to tell
the truth even now. To continue in this way shames me."

He rose smoothly before I could move, taking his sword up from where it
rested against the wall. He raised it and bowed his head.

"Nooooo!" I screamed.

I scrambled to my feet too late and ran to him. His arm fell slowly to his
side, his sword clenched in his fist. I stooped and gathered up the fine
glossy strands, still bound together in the simple band that he'd worn it
in.

"Oh, no."

He turned away, but I grabbed his arm and pulled him to face me.

"No! This is all wrong!"

I took a deep breath. "It's not you, it's me. I'm afraid! I don't want you
to tell me something so terrible...that you'd do this, think this."

I shook the lock of hair in my fist for emphasis.

"Do you remember what you told me on the airship? When I look at you, I will
always see the most honourable man I have ever known. Always! Everything
that has happened proves it. E femm muja oui, vunajan."

I frowned, looking down at the raven strands that fell like silk from my
hand. "Even if you don't believe me I will keep this for you. You will never
be without honour in my eyes."

I pulled my shirt open to tuck the lock of hair inside my shirt, near my
heart, then I moved closer, putting my arms around his waist and holding him
near to me. "It's my promise to you."

I felt him sway in my arms, and I could guess at his exhaustion and need for
comfort. "Let's rest here."

"I'm so tired. Sometimes I think if stop to rest I may never be able to move
again."

"I know. I'm tired too. Just lie down for a little while."

I coaxed him down to sit on the floor, and he leaned against the wall, so I
rested on his lap, leaning against his chest. I closed my eyes, content just
to hold him now, knowing he was safe. When I opened my eyes again the light
had shifted across the floor and he was kissing my hair, his hands roaming
my back. My feelings from earlier returned in full force, and I raised my
face to look into his.

"Love me, Auron. Please..." I tugged his collar down to kiss the tender
flesh below his jaw, my other hand stroking his nape as I shifted against
him. His hands tightened reflexively around my waistr dar day was almost
over, and I was desperate to be close to him again. I let the feeling bleed
into my voice. "I'm begging you...I love you so much..."

He gasped and shifted beneath me, responding wordlessly to my plea, letting
his doubts and fears slide away as my hands moved down his body to loosen
his clothing. He rolled over me, and we began to move, his kisses and his
touch and the feel of his body inside mine carrying me far away from the
desolate world we inhabited, far from Zanarkand where we lay amidst the
ruins.

End of Part Twenty-six


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