Designed To Fade

BY : tuatha
Category: Final Fantasy X > General
Dragon prints: 488
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.

Part four

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Jecht stared entranced at the wall of swords on display. I had
already noted the best sword there for him, with a relatively short
but broad blade it tapered into a wicked point that would suit a man
of his build and agility, but as I reached for it Jecht pounced on
another.

I was not surprised that his eye was drawn to it, it was a katana
that was at least a half foot too long and three pounds to heavy for
him, but he grasped it and held it in both hands, as though he had
any idea what to do with it. Braska looked at me and instantly
deduced from my expression that it was unsuitable. "Jecht, perhaps
you should let..."

"I like it!" He proclaimed, so I stepped forward placing my hand on
his shoulder. I pressed with my thumb just above the protruding
joint and he dropped the katana as if it was a red hot poker.

"FfffffffUuuuuurrrrhhhheaven'ssake! What the hell did you do that
for!" He cried as he cupped the injury in his other hand.

"It was too heavy for you. You can't afford to drop your sword in
battle if a fiend taps you on the shoulder." I was about to reach
for the other sword, but stopped and turned to Braska. He understood
immediately.

"Let Auron help you decide. You can trust his advice."

"Trust him? He nearly crippled me!"

"You'll take no lasting harm from what I did."
Then I handed him the sword I'd had in mind from the beginning.
"Here, try this."

I could see he was less than impressed. It was a
serviceable weapon and looked it, plain and unadorned. There were no
fancy inlays on the blade and the hilt was bound with braided
leather. But he could at least hold it comfortably without putting
undue strain on his back and shoulders.

The weapon master came over to us and eyed Jecht with an experienced
gaze. "A novice swordsman?"

I nodded. "We'd like to practice first, but I think that one will
do."

"Yes, a good choice for a beginner. If you decide to take it that
one's 1350 gil with scabbard, and since it's a first sword I'll
throw in a sharpening stone for free."

"That's fine, but we'll see how he does first. C'mon Jecht."

We went out the back to one of the practice arenas where I attempted
to give Jecht his first lesson in swordsmanship. Braska and the
Weaponmaster looked on with amusement. They could have sold tickets
for the show, I'm sure it was very entertaining to watch.

Jecht seemed to think we were going to commence by having a duel, he
couldn't seem to grasp that he needed to learn what to do before he
could do it. When I asked him to stand next to me and follow my
movements, he grew fractious and bored, impatient even when I
corrected his grip on the hilt.

"This is ridiculous. Waving a sword around in the air like a
lunatic."

I was almost out of patience with him. "What would you suggest?"

"Let me hit something with it."

"Like what, for instance?"

He shrugged, hesitating to name anyone, although I knew what he
wanted to say.

"Fine then." I hefted my sword onto my shoulder and strode forward
turning to face him. "Whenever you're ready."

"Right." For the first time he sounded uncertain. Then he raised his
sword and lunged forward. I of course deflected his blade with ease
then withdrew, letting him recover his balance. After several more
tries he began to tire, realising that he was no match for me. I did
not taunt him, which he perhaps expected, since he looked surprised
when I put down my sword.

"I think that's enough for now. Lord Braska?"

He nodded. "That's good, Jecht. Do you like it?"

The man from Zanarkand looked down at the sword in his hand. "Yeah,
it's okay. I'll feel better when I get to hit something with it
though. You know."

And he gave me a feral grin. I had no illusions about what he wanted
to hit. It did not trouble me, I could take care of myself. As long
as he did not try to hurt Braska I couldn't care less what he
thought of me.

"Let's go get something to eat." Braska slapped him goodnaturedly on
the shoulder and we went back inside to collect the scabbard and
stone, and pay for his new sword.

XxxxxxXxxxxxX


I watch the boy as he limbers up, slashing at the air from side to
side, his sword flashing like quicksilver in the sunlight. Then he
grins as I step forward, the feral light in his eyes reminding me of
his father. "You'd better watch your back, old man."

"Hmph." I tell him, and I brace myself in a defensive stance,
lifting my sword and balancing it on my shoulder. Then I allow my
focus to narrow, as I watch the point of his weapon as it dances in
his hand. It seems as though I see nothing but that point, and yet
the process allows all my senses to open to the world, I am aware of
everything around me, a crackle as a twig is broken beneath his
feet, the rustling leaves of the trees above us, the shifting of the
light as the sunlight is filtered down to us.

When he leaps towards me my sword moves almost before he does,
blocking his attempt to strike. His sword twists awkwardly as he
takes several steps sideways. "Damn, I wish I knew how you do that."

I straighten up, oddly pleased that he is looking at me with
something like pride in his eyes. "I don't even know why I bother
sheathing it, it's not as if I could actually hit you." He
complains, reminding me again of his father.

"How *do* you do that, anyway?" He asks, as we continue on our way.
I don't bother to answer. It is not a skill that I can teach him
without many hours of meditation. I'd asked him if his sword skills
had improved, leading to our pausing on the path as he displayed
them for me. His new weapon suits him well, a gift from the blitz
player who brought him here to Luca with him.

Tidus goes on to tell me that he is the same blitz player who will
now be travelling with Yuna, having just retired officially as
captain of the Besaid Aurochs. He is only one of her guardians. It
is rare for any guardian to have more than two, but Tidus informs me
that as well as a silent Ronso warrior named Kimahri, Yuna also had
a woman accompanying her, Lulu, whom Yuna had grown up with in
Besaid.

I find myself looking forward to meeting her, the daughter of
Braska. And I hope she will be willing to accept one more guardian
on her journey.

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A spray of seawater flew over the railing, falling in heavy droplets
on my face and coat as I made my way towards the bow of the ferry.
Braska was inside, talking to the various travellers who were making
their way to Kilika. As a newly ordained Summoner he was the object
of much attention, almost everyone wanted to speak to him, to wish
him success on his pilgrimage, or ask for his blessing.

There were so many people who wanted to be able to one day say 'I
met the High Summoner on his pilgrimage, before he brought the
calm', to touch his hand as though he was a sacred relic. To tell
the truth it made me angry. They all knew he would die, but none of
them ever asked him not to go on.

When I realised Jecht had disappeared it gave me an excuse to leave
Braska to look for him, which was why I was now on deck, despite the
deep ocean swells that crashed against the side of the boat. When I
passed the cabins Jecht was still not in sight so I made my way onto
the upper deck. I found him there, sitting crosslegged with his back
to the mast, a sphere in his hands.

I thought about turning and going back now that I knew where he was
but he saw me and grinned. "Hey, Auron, smile for the kid, okay?"
And he turned the sphere recorder in my direction.

Instead I shook my head. "I just came to see that you were alright."

"Checking up on me?"

I shrugged, bracing my feet as the deck rolled beneath me. Jecht was
oblivious, his body swaying in response as though he'd been born to
the sea. For all I knew he had. I turned once more and grasped the
rail of the steps leading below.

"Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out." He
admonished me, obviously aware of my continuing antipathy towards
him. My anger flared at his words, no doubt displaced from the well
meaning folk downstairs and I turned and walked toward him.

"What do you mean?"

He looked up to answer and stood. "I mean you're acting like a jerk,
that's what! I'm not going to run off with your precious sword, and
I'll pay Braska what I owe him as soon as I can. You can drop the
holier than thou attitude, I know you're just pissed 'coz Braska
asked me along on your precious pilgrimage."

My eyes narrowed. "You're not fit to be a guardian to him."

"That's what *you* say, but Braska thinks differently." He
responded. The boat yawed beneath our feet but neither of us
noticed, too intent on our argument to pay attention. "You're
jealous. You thought you were the only one that he needed and you
can't stand that he asked me."

I was ready to wrestle him to the deck and beat the crap out of him,
but the ship's bell rang out once, sharply cut off as something hit
the boat with a shuddering groan, a massive dark shadow in the water
that drew the boat down into the trough of its wake.

The deck disappeared from beneath my feet and I was sent flying
toward the railing, which now protruded improbably at a horizontal
angle from the deck, with a wall of water gaping far beneath me.
Jecht had been standing nearer to the mast and had grabbed it when
Sin first hit, and he reached out to grasp my coat stopping my fall.
I dangled helplessly in his grip as time seemed to yawn widely, then
the boat hit the bottom of the trough. Jecht's grip on me was broken
as we both hit the deck hard and the water beneath the boat seemed
to shatter, sending a sheet of water up over our heads which rained
down on us as we lay there, leaving Jecht and I soaked to the skin.

I hugged the wood on which I lay gratefully, then looked at him. He
could have done nothing, watching as I'd been swept away, but
instead his instincts had saved me. I had to revise my opinion of
him based on his actions. He raised himself onto all fours and
looked around at the ocean in disbelief.

"What the hell *was* that thing?"

"Sin."

"That's Sin? No wonder you guys are obsessed with beating it, then."
He whistled long and low. There were shouts from below as the crew
ran along the deck, checking the boat's hull for damage. Jecht cast
about him and then swore. "Damn it, I lost the sphere!"

When we returned below, Braska saw me and his face relaxed in
relief. "Auron!"

He came forward, hugging me tightly despite the fact that I was
soaking wet. "Thank Yevon you're alright!"

He held me close for a long moment then drew back and addressed
Jecht. "Sir Jecht! You weren't hurt?"

"Nah, just a bruise or two where I hit the deck. Auron's probably
got a few bruises too. We were up top, admiring the view when it
hit."

Braska's eyes widened when he heard where we'd been. "You saw it
from up there? Sin?"

"Yeah, even got a good picture of it, but I lost the damn sphere. It
fell overboard." He grinned then gave me a look that dared me to
contradict him. He could have told Braska that he'd dropped the
sphere to save me from certain death, but instead he'd pretended
nothing had happened between us.

"Well, I'm glad that you're both safe."

A crewman came past, telling us that Sin had disappeared back into
the depths of the ocean, and the boat was not taking on more water
than the pumps could handle, so we limped onward to Kilika.

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