Two years can change a lot of things.
He dropped his ball immediately and drew his sword, intending on getting up there and protecting her, when he was stopped by Keepa coming up from behind him. "Hey, man!" he said. "Planning on doing some blitzing?"
"Later!" Tidus replied, glancing anxiously up the path. "Yuna's--"
Keepa followed his line-of-sight, looking unconcerned. "Hey, she's gettin' back to running the gauntlet," he said, obviously pleased. "We were wondering if she was goin' to keep practising there now that you're back."
"The... gauntlet?" Tidus asked, then was distracted by the sound to gunfire back where Yuna was. Startled, he turned to look at her again just as the fiend collapsed, watching as she ran straight over its fading body already shooting at the next monster up the path.
"The Gunner's Gauntlet," Keepa clarified, sounding proud. "/No one/ can beat Yuna's score at it, not even the guy who set it up. Just what you'd expect from our high summoner, ya?"
"And... she does this a lot?" Tidus asked, keeping his eyes fixed on Yuna, who was now backing herself into a waterfall at the edge of the cliff, hiding herself from the fiends in the spray, perfectly steady on her feet despite how slick he knew the ground was there.
"She takes a few runs through everytime she comes home, man. Hasn't been doing it since you got back though. We were starting to worry she might've given it up now that she doesn't need to keep sphere hunting." He smiled at her fondly. "Been a shame if that'd happened. Someone like her shouldn't spend all their time cooped up in town."
And Tidus smiled too, but didn't know how to respond. The Yuna he'd known would have wanted a quiet life now that Sin was gone and Spira was at peace. And, even if she could defeat fiends that came after her, he would never have imagined her going out and fighting them just for the sake of fighting them.
It just wasn't like the girl he'd fallen in love with, and he wasn't sure how he felt about that.
- - -
"/Why/ are we doing this again," Tidus asked, impatiently kicking at the sand with his foot.
"Because Gippal asked me too," she replied, patiently brushing the sand off the top of the machina part she was unearthing with her fingers.
"You shouldn't do everything other people ask you to all the time, Yuna," he said, squatting down in front of her and resting his hands on her shoulders. "You've already saved the world for them. You should concentrate on things you want to do now."
She kept her focus on the ground in front of her, but he was close enough to see the corners of her mouth tightening slightly. "This is what I want to do now," she said.
Now that was not the response was expecting. "/Why/ would you want to do this? It's boring, and hot, and there's sand getting into places on my body I didn't even know I /had/."
"I like doing this, Tidus. It's calming, and... and it's important/. Something important that /I can do, and not just because I'm the High Summoner. Gippal might have hired me because of that in the beginning, but that's not why he called me to help now. He did it because I work /hard/, and I've kept coming in when almost everyone else quits after their first dig, and because I've found more parts for him than almost anyone else." She turned away from him suddenly, reaching for her canteen so he could see her face. "If things were different," she said softly, "this is what I would do for the rest of my life."
"/Hey,/" he said, pressing his hand flat against her back and then wrapping his arms around her shoulders when he felt the slight tension in it. "I'm sorry. I didn't know it was that important to you."
He wondered how many other things he didn't know about her now.
- - -
"What have you done?/" she asked, close to shouting. He had /never heard her voice sound so mad, never would have imagined her sounding like that toward him.
"I... dunno, Yuna," he said, frantically going over everything he'd done that day in his mind, trying to think of what could have upset her. "I'm pretty sure whatever it is is just a big misunderstanding," he said quickly, "I can't think of anything that might've--"
"Brother says you fired him!"
"Oh! Ohhh." Well, he hadn't expected her to get upset over that, but at least it was something easy to explain. He was sure she'd listen to reason. "Yuna, I know he's one of your friends, but you can't let friendship stand in the way of having the best blitz team you can get! Wedge was free, can you believe that? When I saw he wasn't on the team I thought for sure someone else had to have him, and when I found out he was available I had to grab him!"
She pressed her palms flat against her temple, closing her eyes tightly. "You fired Brother for Wedge," she said flatly.
"Well, duh/. C'mon, Yuna, he was just about the best player we /had two years ago. I know Brother was just about as good, but Wedge had to take someone's place, and that was the best spot for him. I figured Brother's too good to force to sit on the bench the rest of the season, so I freed him up to go to another team."
"You... you... oooooh/, we /had Wedge, Tidus! We had to get rid of him because he'd gotten so out of shape that he was awful! Two years change thing, haven't you noticed that yet?"
"...Yeah," he said, examining the anger on the face of his sweet, gentle, summoner. "Yeah, I've noticed. But, look, I'll start one-on-one training with him, and in no time he'll be--"
"That's not even the worst of it, Tidus!" she said, cutting him off again. "You don't have any right to hire or fire anyone! I'm the manager of this team, and it's my say who's on it. I've been training them for months, so they'd be the best they could be, and I already got rid of one of my players so you could be on the team."
"Wait, are you saying you wish you hadn't made room for me on the team?"
"No! No, I wanted you here, Tidus. I wish you still could be."
His body went cold. "What?"
She took a deep breath, and closed her eyes. "I wouldn't feel right letting Wedge go when he'd only been on the team for an hour because of a mistake you made. And I will not be releasing Brother from his contract unless he wants to go. Like you said, Wedge needs to take someone's place. So, you're suspended until his contact expires at the end of the season."
"/What?/ Yuna, you can't--"
"I'll take your place on the team, and Brother can take mine," she continued, not seeming to notice his objections. "We won't be as strong as we were, but, if I start Wedge on intensive training today/, we should still have a chance at the championship." She sighed, and the anger left her face, leaving her just looking drained. "I'm /sorry/, Tidus. I never would have wanted to do this, but the Aurochs put their /trust in me and I need to do what I think is best for the team for them."
"Yeah... yeah, I get it," he said. He slumped down onto the locker room bench, and watched as she left to go talk to Brother who was waiting on the other side of the door. He watched her unconsciously curling her hand around his arm, leaning toward him and smiling warmly as she let him know he was still on the team.
He tried to remember the last time she'd been that at ease with him.
- - -
"This isn't working anymore, is it?" she asked one night, her back pressed against his in the bed they'd shared since the night he'd returned.
He wished he could pretend he didn't know what she was talking about, considered for a minute playing dumb and hoping that thinking she was the only one who'd noticed it would shake her enough not to keep up the conversation. Then he sighed and replied, "No, it isn't."
"I still love you," she said, sounding lost, and sad, and suddenly so much more like the summoner who he'd been guardian to. "I don't know what happened to us."
"Two years happened," he said, wishing that he could argue against this, wishing that there was any way that he could make her back into the girl she'd been during the pilgrimage.
"No," she said sadly. "No, a few months happened. If Rikku hadn't made me leave Besaid, if I hadn't joined the Gullwings, I would have stayed on this island and been content to never change. It all started when I saw that sphere I thought was of you."
"But, if you hadn't, I would have stayed in the Farplane forever."
"I guess... we just weren't meant to be together," she whispered.
He rolled over and embraced her, and knew that once the morning came things would never be the same again.
He wished that they hadn't had to end that way.