He does not move through the water. The water moves him. He is carried by its whims and his tremendous form is pulled under by the weight of the sea. He’s propelled forward, an unstoppable calamity, and he goes through every town and every village, every island and every boat and raft and every ship that wanders into his path as if he has a personal vendetta against all things that come up against him and have the temerity to be dwarfed by him.
He remembers a time when the water was his domain and not his lord. The memories are fragments of fragments, and he cannot reconstruct wholly the meaning of them. But he knows that he once bent water to his will and flitted through it without letting the waves ever catch him, that he was small enough that it could happen but big enough that he was loved for it.
He had a name then, too, that others chanted and that he called himself, and it’s not what he’s called today and it’s not what he calls himself anymore, because he doesn’t call himself anything anymore.
He has no days or nights. Months and years mean nothing. He lives outside time and that’s why he is so surprised when he glances across the glowing expanse of the sea and he sees a man.
No ordinary man because has a staff. He has on layered robes of many brilliant hues and he looks like he’s sinking into the fabric, his young face sticking out of the collar like some delicate flower out of a bush.
Pyreflies all around him. He moves his staff and his body in a hypnotic trance. A cluster of the still living surround him as they watch the dead attain liberation.
He goes under and his mind spins in circles like the summoner spun before.
Has it been that long? Or is a decade really that short?
Can two lives buy only this much?
Can a sacrifice so big be so small when held up against reality?
He descends the depths and touches the seabed and a memory materializes in his mind like the moon that appears in the sky after a long, scorching day.
A girl with her staff and her robes, so small and so delicate. Her shoulders sag with the weight of the world and still, she dances.
People die , he thinks. People die...he tries to say and yet he cannot form the words.
She chose him. To be honest would be to say she really had no choice at all. She loved him so much that there was no one else who could ever be what he became. And he loved her so much that he considered it a gift, a blessing. Now no one could ever say her name without his or his name without hers and every thought of her that passed through a person’s mind would be followed by a thought of him and they would merge together until they became one thought.
Had they rebelled against fate, they would not have this. This is what he tells himself as he continues to exist in a state of prolonged nonexistence.
Summoners are everywhere. He goes through a village and one arrives on his heels to sweep up the souls and send them skyward. They’re all participants in a perverse competition and their prize awaits them with its jaws unhinged deep within a ruined city.
Every time he sees one marching along to whatever is ordained for them, he stops for a moment and studies the companion striding at their side or following solemnly in their wake. Sometimes, there is more than one guardian, and he has to wonder which one has the terrible and beautiful luck of being more precious, more beloved.
There is one awful incident that violently assaults his memories. A ship runs into him and as he looks up, he sees a young girl with a head full of golden curls and wide green eyes set onto a too small face. Her staff is tight in her grip and her lavender robes billow in the savage winds.
She’s trying her hardest not to fall and not to let go but together they don’t work and she spills over the railing. Splash.
Many summoners perish during their journey. It’s not earthshaking. But as he watches her struggle in the water, he catches sight of a blue and white blur as it dives from the ship and lands near her.
Her frantic flailing eases as she’s swept up into strong arms and held and steadied.
He watches her look up at her savior and her face transforms from fear into something that he does not want to recognize.
Her guardian regards him with a cautious gaze and he is about as young as her, maybe a few years older. He has this rounded face and these brown eyes turned up at the corners and brown hair that must cascade down his back when it’s dry. His shoulders have a rigidity about them and there’s no doubting his readiness to die to protect all he loves in this world.
He imagines them in Zanarkand. Imagines her moving through the final temple with him at her side, both of them taut with anticipation of death.
He wants to kill them right here and now. He can’t stand the image of her crumpling to the floor, her life drained. He knows what it will feel like for him to watch it happen, and not be able to scream.
For once, he wishes he could choose to mete out death.
He’s the sun transformed into a magnificent beast. He glows gold and red and yellow and he’s crowned with a twisting tower of horns and antlers and his mouth is a row of pointed razors. His strong arms are wings and his nimble feet are talons.
He’s no longer Tidus, the star blitzball player, the hapless otherworldly refugee, the devoted guardian. He’s Yuna’s final aeon, and he’s the weapon she will use to defeat Sin forever.
Together, they will bring eternal calm to Spira and right what went wrong and set the world back on its axis.
The first time the sea brought him back to Besaid, he hovered just under the surface of the water. A group of children playing on the beach stopped what they were doing because his presence has an electrifying effect and the hairs on the backs of their necks must’ve stood upright. They bolted and within moments a group of men arrived in their stead. Among them was Wakka and so he saw one of his old friends again.
As he has no awareness of time, he didn’t know how long Wakka had spent growing but he looked older. He had a full beard and some wrinkles under his eyes. His hair was still a dizzying shade of bright orange-red, and one of the children who had run shared it with him.
He saw Rikku once aboard an Al-Bhed steamer ship. She was wearing what was essentially a bikini with a skirt. She perched on the railing and her feet dangled. He destroyed a wooden ship in their vicinity and she went off inside and all the cannons that fired at him must’ve been under her command.
He thinks sometimes that he sees Auron. Auron glimmers for brief moments on the darkening horizon or a shadow of him passes over his back on misty mornings. He dreads ever seeing him up close.
He can’t visit the farplane. Yuna’s face is frozen into a smile in his mind and he has no way of dislodging it. She remains in that exact moment when she knew she was going to die and she looked at him as if she could convey every ounce of love in her with just that one look.
She does not grow older, and her summoner’s garb clings to her like a funerary shroud. She’s eternal and she’s unchanging and the world parts around her and meets again when it’s passed her, and it moves on.