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/N: Not really sure about this chapter. I already had the last part of it written and I don't know if I should go through and rewrite it or not. I'll worry about that later I guess, because I think there's really only one more chapter (Sin battle) and an epilogue to write, and I wanted to finish by the end of this month. That would make it a nice even six months from start to finish. :) I'll try, anyway.

A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

Part Thirty

A whisper of sound, of movement behind me made me turn, and I saw the door sliding shut on his retreating form. I was about to follow him, but Tidus reached out to grab my shoulder as I passed him. "Rikku...are you? Are you going to be okay?"

"I..." I stopped. There was no answer I could give to a question like that. "...I have to go."

I turned away resolutely, but not before seeing the concern and sadness in his eyes mirrored in Yuna's. There was nothing either of them could say, nothing anyone could do to fix this.

When I reached the corridor outside the control room I almost expected to see Auron there, leaning up against the wall and looking as remote and unconcerned as ever. I followed the corridor as it curved around the ship, but found no trace of his passing. An irrational dread began to form inside me, a fear that he had vanished because of my failure to speak to him, and by the time I reached the rear of the ship I was almost running.

Then I found myself outside the door of my room, and I suddenly knew he was within, waiting for me, just as he had promised. My heart pounding, I pushed the door open and entered. The door closing behind me sealed out the light from the corridor, and I reached for the light panel but his voice came out of the darkness.

"Leave it." My hand faltered, and my eyes searched for his presence. He moved, and his outline resolved against the window as my eyes became accustomed to the gloom. I moved forward, closer to him, needing to see his face.

"Auron...why?"

"Why? Ten years and I'm still not sure I know the answer. I told myself it was for Braska, who didn't deserve to die, not like that. And Jecht, who did what I could not, but the truth is...I didn't deserve to live."

"What...?"

"I failed, in everything. When I stood there, I knew! I knew it was a lie. We'd been led along a carefully crafted path from the very beginning, all designed to one end, the willing sacrifice of guardian for summoner, and summoner for guardian."

He'd been facing away, staring out the window into the darkness of night outside, but he turned to face me. "It's not about Aeons, or gaining strength. It's about journeying through adversity, and learning to love each other so much that to die seems more like an honour than a burden. It's designed to make it impossible to turn back, or to see reason."

"Why didn't you tell them?"

"I didn't...know how. I tried to convince Braska to turn back, I knew it was wrong, but in my heart not in words. I've had ten years since then to think about it, you know. And then when Jecht asked Braska to make him the sacrifice...I let them go. That's what I couldn't forgive. It should have been me."

I found myself at a loss for words, thinking about what he'd said. I was finally starting to understand him, but the funny thing was it made it even harder to know what to say or do, not easier.

"So now you know. My dark secret." He paused for a moment, considering my silence, then added "I don't expect you to keep your promises...I misled you, yet another sin for which I have no right to beg forgiveness."

"Auron, please..." I begged him. I couldn't bear to hear him say such a terrible thing. "Why didn't you tell me, why didn't you tell us, at the beginning?"

"Tell you? That I was unsent?"

"Oh my...oh!" I suddenly recalled his words, that long ago night at Guadosalam. "You did! You told me and I didn't...I didn't understand. Oh no!"

He chuckled. "I was relieved at the time. I hadn't intended to let it slip. In any case, to tell you then would have meant nothing to you. Now that you've been there and seen Zanarkand for yourselves...you all understand."

"I understand...?"

"It would probably have been better if I had told you. Before. It would have been better for you...if you hadn't loved me."

"Oh, no!" He knew as well as I did that if he'd told me he was dead back then when I first met him my reaction would almost certainly have been aversion. I was having enough difficulty accepting the truth now. "You can't say that. Please...you can't take everything away."

I reached around him, wrapping my arms around him and hugging him tight. "People still love. Even when it hurts, even when people die...if Yuna had died, we'd still love her. We'd still be crying and hurt, but none of us would want to forget that we loved her. When Braska...when he died, did you wish you'd never met him? Never gotten to know him, become his guardian?" I shook him. "Did you? You can't wish people away to get rid of the hurt, I won't let you. I'll always love you, I'll never stop...never."

"Never..." His hands found my waist, pulling me closer, and I reached up to find his face with my hands, touching him again, as desperate to be reunited as he was. He brought one hand up to cradle my head as he kissed me back.

"Don't leave me. Please."

He shook his head in denial...in anger or grief, but I refused to accept that it was at my words.

"I must. I can't do anything else. I made my bargain with fate, it is sealed...and even if it could be undone...I forfeited my life."

"But you saved us! That's why you're here...isn't it? So we wouldn't make the mistakes you did?"

He bowed his head, acknowledging the truth of my words in silence.

"Tidus and Yuna...you made a pact to save them from Braska's fate, and Jecht's. And you saved us..." I thought of Lulu, and Wakka, and gentle, fierce Kimahri. If Yuna had allowed Tidus to die for her, and if she had then sacrificed herself, the rest of Spira might celebrate but for us...our Spira would be a world of devastation and loss. As Auron's had become ten years ago.

"You saved us, Yuna's guardians," I choked back tears to continue "...from your fate."

"I failed, again."

"No! No, but..." I reached him finally, grasping his shoulder and turning him to face me. I knew what he had felt because I felt it too. He was my hope, my heart, my life. I had seen his futile gesture of rage against Yunalesca, and I knew that when I lost him I would be unable to bear the loss. "if I cannot save you, I too am lost."

"Rikku..."

"You lost everything! When I lose you...I will lose everything too."

"No. No." He denied the truth, pulling me into his arms in an effort to quell my words.

"Stay with me. As long as you can. That's all I ask."

"I can't."

"Not now. Please not now."

"I can't...stay long."

"You have to try."

"Alright. As long as I can."

I nodded, knowing it was all he could offer. He did not let go, holding me even tighter. "Will it be enough?"

"Yes." It would have to be, since there was nothing more. Either it would be enough, or I would be undone, my promise to him broken and the sweetest reward of meeting him in the farplane would be my penance.

The salt in my kiss was nothing to the bitterness of regret in his. I clung to him fervently, and if it were possible I would have crawled inside him to make my home there, merged our flesh and blood until we could not be separated, by the farplane or anything else. When my tears finally abated, finally exhausted after all, he cradled my head against his chest, stroking my hair.

"Come. We will be alone together while we can. If that will please you?"

"Yes. Yes."

We helped each other undress, falling into the bed. Whatever else we would have wished, we both slept, weary from our distress. It was comforting to hold him close and sleep beside him for the last time.

He woke me with kisses soft as raindrops, and tears like kisses that splashed hotly on my skin.

"This is the day I longed for, for ten long years, and dreaded since the day I first looked in your eyes." he told me.

He moved over me, and I held him while he looked down at me, kissing my lips and fitting his body to mine, making that slow slide into me until we were together, our bodies kissing everywhere. "If I could, I'd take it back. I would have walked away and not looked back. Braska would have forgiven me if he knew, and maybe that would have been enough."

"Auron. Oh please, Auron. I love you." I wept openly against his shoulder at his confession of love. Braska would have forgiven him, always. We held each other and breathed together, unwilling to hasten the completion of this last act of love, but breathing has its own rewards, and we came together again and again as our bodies sought completion without our hearts consent.

He did not let go, holding me still against him. "You know my story now. Keep it for me, Rikku. Don't let it go."

I shook my head, silently promising that I wouldn't. I would keep his story, and his life, in my memory for as long as I could.

"One last thing. Don't look. At the end. Promise me, you'll close your eyes and remember this instead. Remember us."

"I will. I promise, mujan."


End of Part Thirty


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