It's one of the few things his father taught him to do beyond turn his face fast enough no one can see the tears. Maybe the only thing--he wasn't taught blitz, that he ever remembers, just became determined to be better than his old man, bouncing the ball off his head, off his elbow, and one day he was the star player. Maybe not as good as Jecht, but he doesn't like to think that much about it.
(Cause maybe he'll never be as good as Jecht, and that's an idea that would pop up, if he thought it out too much, and an idea he's not ready to admit to yet.)
But he's swimming, and his lungs aren't giving him the signals that are familiar by now--seven minutes and thirteen seconds til you have to come up or you never get to, Tidus--and there's something beautiful in it, in this not-having-to-surface.
He's in between, and the sound of the water around him--no fish, no machina machines below, no nothing but the waves and him--is only broken by something that sounds like
(come to pray)
the Hymn of the Fayth.
Or maybe it's a memory that he probably made up of his father singing him to sleep.
Or maybe it's bells ringing at the temples.
Or maybe, just maybe, it's the sound of being dead.
He doesn't know.
But his lungs aren't burning, and the laws of physics aren't working like they should, so he stays there for a while longer, not ready to come up yet.
He remembers a lot.
You don't forget.
He remembers Wakka and innuendos that he maybe would or maybe wouldn't have followed through on if Wakka had commented on them. Wakka's the easiest to remember, really.
Wakka had already lost a brother. And it wasn't that it got any easier to do it a second time around, but--
But you knew what to expect.
So maybe with Wakka he feels the least guilt about diving into pyreflies.
So he floats, and he remembers, and the bells are a little louder.
But he isn't coming up yet.
He thinks, maybe, Rikku would've stopped them all if she knew what would have happened.
He doesn't know if she would've been able to convince him to stop.
He doesn't know if she would've been able to convince her.
It's the second one that hurts, a little.
It's all of it a moment.
It's all of it years.
He didn't know they could be the same thing before.
Tidus kinda thinks if you're a dream, though, you're allowed to view things however the hell you want.
Auron's arms are warm around him, in the water.
It's the hug he always wanted from Jecht and never got--but maybe in the end that one slap of the hand was enough, was better.
Maybe. Or at least he'll tell himself that.
And then Auron is smacking the back of his head, roughly, and it's under water so it shouldn't hurt, shouldn't be able to, but it does, anyway. Tidus spins in the water, briefly, and he can tell for certain there's no one else there.
He still hears the voice that's raw from sake and too many miles with too little sleep say, You were given life.
He doesn't think about her.
It's not the same as not remembering. It's just that thinking would hurt, thinking would mean responsibility that Tidus maybe isn't ready for, thinking would mean--would mean maybe that diving into pyreflies and being washed away by Sin are about the same thing.
Would mean that maybe he's the same as daddy dearest.
Maybe he's worse.
The water's still warm and comforting, but he thinks he shivers in it anyway.
It's all passed in an instant. Since the moment he dove in.
Just as much time as is needed to make a decision. Just as much time as it takes a sphere to lose its glow.
He doesn't know how much time it's been, but he knows you always listen to your father. His mother said that at least once.
And it's a voice that's somehow strong and raw from sake, both, and it's a voice that drawls things out from too much of anything fermented it can grab, and the slaps that come together to both sides of his head are at the same moment.
You always did cry.
Except he's not crying this time, as he looks up and sees the sun through the water.
He'd never noticed the surface was so close. But maybe there wasn't enough time for that before.
Maybe he's only been in the water for a second, but he's finally, finally, starting to feel the burn in his lungs again, and the shock of it is enough to make him smile.
It all started, he thinks he hears as he kicks slow and lazily--but he's still kicking--up, when I saw this sphere of you.
It's a voice that smiles even when it wants to cry, and he's not, exactly, swimming up towards it, but the bells of the temples and the song of the fayth are blending with the voice into something that makes him kick a little harder.
Maybe she's there, and maybe she's not, and--it matters. It matters in more ways than he's ever wanted to admit. In a way he won't say, because he's his father's son, but it matters the way making your arms solid for that much longer matter, and it matters the way a hand slapping against his own matters, and it matters in the same way that looking someone straight in the eye and not caring if there's a tear falling or not matters.
He thinks, maybe, he hears a grunt of approval, breaking in the sound of voices singing and someone telling him a story.
And then he breaks the surface, and takes a breath.
Because this is his story, and he's not ready to let it end just yet.