“Rikku. Don’t kick so hard, ya? Well, until you can control the ball, that is.”
“Ok!” The blond-haired Al-Bhed waved to the tall, red-haired figure and smiled, swimming towards the floating blitzball.
Wakka hmmed to himself as he sat down, feeling the sand spread beneath his large frame. He was clad in a pair of yellow shorts, since it was mid-summer, and Besaid summers were unforgiving in their relentless heat. Had his faith remained after the battle with Sin, he would have prayed to the ends of Spira for a rainstorm. Yuna, in a tasteful one-piece, walked up behind the Auroch and laid her hand on his shoulder.
“How is Rikku’s training going?”
“She’s Rikku. Hyper and a ball hog, ya? I have tonsa stuff to teach her.”
Yuna smiled, nodded, and headed for the water. Wakka sighed and thought of Lulu, who, as he was assured, was hiding from the heat in her hut. He smiled and looked to the sky, trying to pick out shapes in the clouds.
Rikku tossed the blitzball to the former summoner, swimming slightly away from her as the young, brown-haired girl barely catched the knobby, blue and white wall. “Let’s see what you can do, Yunie! Pass it to me!”
“Ok,” Yuna said with a smile, and tossed the ball to Rikku. With a splash, the ball sent water into the young Al-Bhed’s face. Rikku laughed as Yuna bowed slightly, yelling a chuckled “Sorry.”
Wakka pointed to the two girls. “Hey, you two. Place nice now. Injuries aren’t fun.”
The girls laughed and nodded, and proceeded to swim about, tossing the blitzball back and forth. Wakka smiled and reflected on how well Yuna was taking Tidus’ absence, or, how well she hid her feelings about his absence. It was only a year after Yuna and her guardians had defeated Sin and Yu Yevon. A new era had been born in Spira; an era without the threat of Sin, and an era without, at least to Wakka and his friends, Yevon.
Wakka turned his attention, once again, to the swimming form of Yuna. Being the leader of Spira really didn’t stop her from trying to have a little fun. She even stayed and lived in Besaid until she was needed elsewhere. And for this, Wakka’s respect for her grew ever more.
Wakka let out an audible sigh as his train of thought once again dwelled onto the real shamble that was Spira. Even though Sin was gone, the Yevon fiasco had torn Spira’s people nearly in two. Those most faithful refused to accept the truth, and still prayed to the corrupted deities. The summoner practice had been all but stopped. Those on pilgrimages stopped when hearing word. The maesters had all been properly dealt with. Still, Wakka, and -he hoped- his friends had faith in the Farplane. Rikku’s pyrefly explanation hadn’t really fazed the belief that one’s soul went to the Farplane in death. Wakka was grateful that he could still look forward to peace in death. Faced with it so many times in the year passed, he had grown to not fear, but respect one’s final rest. Even Lulu could not deny Wakka’s growing maturity.
With a smile, Wakka stood and walked to the shore. “Got any room for an old guy?”
To this Rikku laughed, Yuna chuckling in tow. “Sure,” the hyper Al-Bhed replied, “just don’t get all tired on us!”
Wakka smiled and thrust thumb into the air, winking to Yuna. “Think I’m to old, eh? Well, Wakka show you a thing or two!” With that, the burly islander grabbed the ball and dove into the water.
The lithe figure Lulu harbored walked hastily onto the beach. Her attire was, as Wakka had guessed, mostly consisting of black fabrics. Clad in a long-sleeve wool shirt and a pair of thin slacks, Lulu made her bare feet hop to the shore. The cool mud offered a soothing relief to her feet, seeing as the sand was burning hot. Wakka, arm around Yuna, saw her and smiled, waving an arm in the air.
“Yo, Lu! Water’s fine, ya? Why don’t you come in?”
Lulu hid her smile as she shook her head. She regained her serious countenance and glared at him. “I’d rather not. When you three are done playing, I suggest you come with me to the west end of the Island. Something is happening.”
Wakka, smile fading, nodded and began to swim to shore. The girls followed in suit. Wakka, quizzical look already appearing on his stubble- ridden face, stopped a couple of feet from Lulu. “Something’s happening? What is it?”
Lulu crossed her arms and sighed, nodding to the girls. “Let them get dressed first. I doubt they need to walk into town like that.”
Wakka, despite his knowing of the girls’ attire, looked to them, and nodded.
“Ya, would be a good idea if you two got dressed.”
When he turned back towards Lulu, she frowned and poked his bare chest. “You too. At least put a shirt on.”
Wakka sighed and shook his head, hiding a smile. “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
His eyes met with Lulu’s and he coughed, instantly walking around her to one of the three baskets. He pulled a white shirt from it and slipped it over his bulky torso, his muscles showing through the tightly sized shirt. Lulu tried her best not to notice, but found herself watching him as he stopped at the trail’s entrance. He threw a smile her way, and she turned around quickly, cursing herself under her breath.
Rikku, who was heading to her basket, heard the hushed curse. “What, Lulu?”
Rikku shrugged and picked up her basket, Yuna doing the same shortly after. The two girls looked to Wakka and cocked their heads. Wakka mocked a growl and turned around. He moved to the ruined tower, which served as steps, and waited. A few moments later, the three females came, Yuna and Rikku chattering about something as Lulu tried her best not to look annoyed. Wakka climbed the ridges of the towers and walked slightly ahead of the women, trying to avoid them. Girl talk was something Wakka didn’t want to hear at the moment.
Wakka stopped under the waterfalls and took his headband off. His hair, save the large crest -kept up with berry juice- fell over his head, hiding most of his face and neck. It wasn’t often that Wakka let his locks fall, but his hair needed to be washed of the saltwater, and there was no better neutralizer than Besaid freshwater. The girls stopped and watched as he soaked his head. Rikku laughed, while Yuna tried her best not to. Lulu simply watched, a neutral look about her features. Wakka finished and the four continued.
As they entered town, they each nodded to Gatta. The Crusaders, now without a Sin to fight, were more or less the military of Spira. The riots that ensued in Bevelle once the true ways of Yevon were known were horrendous. The Crusaders helped to stop the mayhem, and to this day, are heavily concentrated in the city. A high number are also in Luca, but most of their job consists of stadium duty. Gatta was Besaid’s Crusader Branch’s Captain. Any fiends that inhabited the area were either his or Wakka’s job. Wakka had adhered to his Blitzball retirement, and without a summoner to guard, took up fiend clean up with Gatta, although he did not join the Crusaders.
In the center of town, a statue of Sir Tidus had been erected. It was crude, and to Wakka, didn’t do the young man justice. Dream or not, someone should be respected with a decent likeness. As with her tradition, Yuna walked to the statue and put her hand on its base. Wakka hated to see her in such agony, but what could he do? Tidus was on the Farplane, and hadn’t been truly real in the first place. Wakka shook his head and scratched at his chin.
“Thinking too hard again?” It was Lulu’s sometimes-harsh voice.
Lulu nodded and sighed. “Come with me, if you’re quite done ‘reflecting’.”
Wakka nodded and the two girls followed Wakka and Lulu to the right side of the temple. Off in the distance, a rather nasty storm front raged. Lulu pointed.
“It’s as if it rolled in from the Thunder Plains. I fear it’s not our usual storm. I sense that it brings…trouble.”
Wakka hmmed and looked to Yuna. “What do you think?”
Yuna hmmed as well, and rested her chin on her fingertip as she looked to the large, gray cloud. “Be it trouble or not, we should warn the people. If it is indeed headed this way, I suggest we all seek shelter.”
Rikku, Lulu, and Wakka nodded in unison. Wakka sighed. “I’m heading back to the beach. It looks far off enough. I…need to think, ya?”
Yuna nodded. “I understand. Just be back in soon, ok? I do not want you hurt.”
Wakka smiled and nodded, placing a hand on Yuna’s shoulder. “I will.”
She smiled and he withdrew his hand, already headed back to the beach.
Rikku tapped Yuna’s shoulder. “Yunie? Is it ok if I ‘seek shelter’ in the temple? I’d feel safer in there than my hut…”
Yuna nodded and smiled. “Why of course.”
Lulu leaned in to Yuna’s direction. “I’m going back to my hut, then. Yuna, I’d like to see you in the temple too.”
Yuna smiled at Lulu and shook her head. “Don’t worry so, Lulu. I will be fine in my hut.”
Lulu smiled half-heartedly and nodded, heading to her tent as Yuna continued to stare towards the slow moving cloud.
Wakka sighed, his back to the beach. The warmth of the sand felt good to him in the later afternoon. The sun was slowly being hidden by the cloud, and he surmised he didn’t have long left until the storm hit. His thoughts were being directed not at the storm, but at Chappu. His brother had always gotten the better deals in life. Wakka was surprised when Chappu went to fight Sin. He had always felt like the lesser brother. He would never tell anyone this of course, but he was still a shadow compared to his brother. Chappu had Lulu, the looks, and the drive to be great…but Sin, like it did to everything, ended any hopes or dreams.
Before long, the tears had welled up into his eyes, and rather than wipe them away, he let them fall down the sides of his face. Chappu was his best friend, and seeing Tidus had given him hope that his brother would return. For all the reasons Wakka had resented his brother, he had plenty more to love him.
With the tears still flowing, Wakka sat up and leant forward, elbows on his knees, head down. The tears were hitting the sand and Wakka watched them as they formed small circles of mud.
Unbeknownst to him, Lulu was standing at the mouth of the trail, watching him. She, too, had tears on her cheeks. Her sympathy towards Wakka was something her cold exterior could not hide. For every fault he had, he could make up for it with one simple look, or action. She had shared a great many experiences with him, each one bringing them closer, yet still separated. She hated the side of her that prevented her from being happy. Every day, she wished for Chappu back, but in another way, she didn’t want to see his return, for the dead are best left resting.
Wakka sighed once more, the tears still coming, but slower now. He slammed a fist into the sand, causing a small crater. A mumbled curse came from his lips as he raised his head and looked to the sky. The cloud was closer, and Wakka could see that it might miss the island. With a sigh of relief he lowered his head and shook it, cleaning his knuckles of sand by wiping it on the side of his shorts leg.
With a soft thud, Lulu sat beside him. “You know, you shouldn’t do that. It will make your clothes that much harder to wash.”
Wakka rolled his eyes and uttered a “Bah” before turning his gaze to the sea.
Lulu sighed, and let her gaze move to the waves as well.
The two sat in silence for some time. The approaching thunder and lightning only magnified the tense nature of the silence, and in time, Lulu felt compelled to speak. “What’s on your mind, Wakka?”
She nodded, sighing. “You do realize we should try and get on with our lives. We cannot mourn forever.” Her voice trailed. “We must accept death and cherish life.”
“I know, Lu. I know. I just keep hoping that one day, I will see my brother again.” His teeth clenched as he spoke the next words. “I wish I could’ve taken care of Sin a long time ago. That way, I’d still have a brudda, and you’d have, more than likely, a husband to go home to.”
“Hush, Wakka. You mustn’t wish such things. We cannot change the past, so we have to look to the future. I, myself, had to realize this…I just wish I could have done so sooner. Chappu would never want us dwelling over his death.” She half-smiled at the visions dancing through her mind. “I could see him now.”
“Yeah, Chappu would say something like ‘You two move on, now. Brudda, you guys are downers, eh?’”
Lulu’s smile widened a bit. “And he would proceed to push us until we did move on. He was an assertive man…”
Wakka nodded, and smiled himself. “See, now this is what we have to do, ya? We have to look at the happy memories and cherish them, while we live. Otherwise, what do we have to live for, ya know?”
Lulu nodded. “You seem to be correct a lot more lately.”
Wakka hmmed. “Well, fighting something like Sin tends to wake up the adult in you. At least, I would hope so. I still got the young’un in me, but I’m trying to mature up. Got Yuna to watch over and Rikku to entertain when she isn’t working on Home.”
Lulu crossed her arms, nudging his shoulder with an elbow. “What happened to the Wakka I knew?”
Wakka laughed. “I 'spose he’s somewhere in Luca, looking for players to recruit.”
Lulu, for the first time in awhile, laughed too. She sighed at the feeling of laughter. It had been so long since she last felt any surge of laughter; she continued to laugh as Wakka stood, stretching.
“Feels good, hearing you laugh, ya know? You need some laughter every once and awhile, Lu. Without it, you’ll fall into your own self-pity…or something like that.” Wakka blinked at what he’d just said, instantly regretting it as his hand came up, scratching the back on his neck, waiting to barrage.
Lulu stopped laughed, but smiled up at him, nodding. “I know. I am a bit uptight, am I not?”
Wakka cocked a half-smile, nodding a little. “Well, I wouldn’t put it that way…but ya, you are a bit…stiff sometimes.”
She smiled once more and stood. Her arms wrapped around him, to his surprise, and his did so shortly after. She muttered a “Thank you” and he nodded. She released her grip on him and walked slowly to the shore.
“Look at the lightning hitting the water. It’s beautiful.”
Wakka watched her from a few feet back and mmhmmed with a nod. He too, began to watch the storm slowly going by. It was going to miss the island, but it was surely making waves.
“Lu. Stand back, ya? Wouldn’t want undertow to take you…under.”
She nodded and walked back a few feet, stopping beside him. They continued to watch the lightning as Wakka tried to find the courage to do what he felt like doing. After a few moments of inner conflict, he closed his eyes and eased his arm around her shoulders. To his surprise, he felt her cheek ease down onto his shoulder, her pinned hair tickling at his neck and cheek. He smiled and leaned into her hair, cheek resting against her scalp. She sighed contentedly and they stayed like that for quite some time, watching the storm roll by.
In a whisper, Lulu said, “Do you ever think Tidus is going to come back? Yuna may look happy without him, but she isn’t.”
He squeezed her shoulder and nodded. “I know all too well, Lu. He’ll come back, I’m sure of it. Just give it time, ya? It’s not like he’s going to just fall from the sky.”
As he said these words, a large lighting bolt hit the water near the shore. Startled, the two jumped back and Wakka instinctively stepped in front of Lulu. His eyes darted to the sky as a flailing figure started to fall.
A rather audible scream could be heard as the figure fell and fell, Wakka’s eyes lit with surprise. As it was close to the water, the scream became distinct. It was human.
With a loud splash, and the garbled end of the scream, the figure hit the water and landed on the sea floor, about twenty feet from the shore. Lulu, shocked, stood there and watched as Wakka ran forward. Wakka grabbed the shoulders of the figure and hoisted it up, to see that it was a strangely dressed man of about twenty years. His hair was a medium-brown, and his garb was very odd. It was gray, white, and black in a mottled pattern. A lot of straps and gadgets were clanging as he lifted the man. He started to pull the man up onto his shoulder, but being that the man was almost as tall as Wakka, he was finding it difficult. He wrapped his arms around the man’s waist and lifted.
To Wakka’s bewilderment, the man coughed, spitting water towards Lulu. He thrashed about and freed himself of Wakka’s grasp. Heaving and grunting, the man looked about quickly, and drew a rectangular object from a cloth satchel attached to his belt.
Pointing what Wakka now knew was a machina weapon, the oddly dressed man yelled, “Who the hell are you?! Stay there or by God I’ll put a goddamned bullet in your head!”
Wakka blinked and immobilized himself. Lulu, still shocked, cocked her head.
“What the hell are you looking at,” the man growled, chest heaving quickly.
Wakka cleared his throat. “Hey, now, put the machina down. We won’t hurt you.”
The man sniffed and wiped his brow in his upper sleeve.
Lulu, coming out of her daze, coughed. “Could you please put the machina away? We bring you no harm. You fell from the sky and we fear you’re hurt.”
The man, whose green eyes were widening, grimaced and looked to his side, where a piece of glass was lodged into his thigh. He gritted his teeth and still pointed the weapon to them. “Who are you?”
Wakka spoke first. “I’m Wakka.” He pointed to Lulu. “That’s Lulu.”
“Where am I?”
“You are in Besaid, home of Maestress Yuna,” replied Wakka.
The man raised an eyebrow and cocked his head, trying to clear his thoughts. “Who?!”
Lulu shook her head. “Don’t tell me that this guy has ran into Sin…”
The man once again blinked. “Sin? What the hell?”
Wakka blinked. “Lu, we defeated Sin, remember?” Wakka turned his face back to the man. “Who are you?”
The man blinked and seemed to think for a moment. “Private, 1st Class, Charles Weston, United States Army, Delta Force.”
This time, it was Wakka who blinked. “That’s a long name.”
The man growled. “It’s Charles Weston, damnit.”
Wakka pushed his hands down. “Calm down, bud. Just calm down. Put the machina away and we’ll be fine, ok?”
Lulu sighed. It was happening again.
Wakka pointed to the black object the man was holding. “The weapon you’re holding.”
The man blinked. “My SOCOM pistol?”
The two Besaid residents blinked.
The man sighed and replaced the gun back to its satchel. Wakka sighed and Lulu walked forward, looking at the man’s wounds.
He seemed as bewildered as they were. His eyes looked to what Lulu was doing. She stooped and took a hard look at his wounds. “This is more than a potion can handle. We’ll need Yuna.”
Wakka came forward. “Can you walk, bud?”
The man tried to step forward, but his leg gave and he fell. Wakka came on one side as Lulu got the other.
Wakka nodded to Lulu and said, “Try hopping on the other leg.”
The man nodded and did so, successfully.
“Man you gave us a scare. Maybe you knocked your head or something, and you’ll remember where you’re from later, yah?”
The man blinked. “I’m from…the United States.”
Wakka hmmed. “Yeah, he hit his head.”
Lulu sighed. “Wakka, that still doesn’t explain why he fell from the sky.”
The man coughed. “I don’t know how I got here…but I think…” His head lolled and he passed out, leaving Wakka and Lulu with dragging him back to the village.