Designed To Fade

BY : tuatha
Category: Final Fantasy X > General
Dragon prints: 477
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 Nine
XxxxxxXxxxxxX

We make our way around the temple towards the cliff-face, finding a
sunny patch of grass sheltered within a grove of trees and sit
there. Braska looks exhausted but at peace, and for a time we sit
quietly looking down at the ocean below. Further out in the deeper
blue water the fishing boats can be seen, indistinct figures moving
about beneath the waving sails.

I know that Braska is waiting for me.

"My Lord..." I begin, then hesitate. "Sir Jecht...says things...and
he looks at me..." My words come slowly, with difficulty. I am
looking at my hands, not directly at him, but I see his eyebrows
raise.

"He implies, something...he thinks that we, that I am unnatural."

"Unnatural?"

His voice is low and soothing, but it does not make it easier for me
to talk. "Our relations. Th-th-that we are...d-d-d"

"That we are lovers?"

He looks at me but I turn my head sharply away to look at the grass
beneath my hand. It moves, tiny blades shifting in the sunlight and
air. I don't reply.

"Why does it make you angry? Do you think it might be true?" He
asks, gently.

My fingers grasp one of the tiny blades of grass and tug. It snaps
between my fingers, leaving a thin trail of sap. Broken so easily.
"I'm not...I'm not...what he says."

"Of course not. But Auron...there is nothing sinful about loving
someone, and being loved in return. I was married, I should know."

"The teachings say that relations...between m-men are an
abomination."

"Teachings penned by a monk in the third century, who feared that
Sin's ravages would wipe out Spira's population? The only reason
anyone remembers them is because the subject is so fascinating. You
should read the entire thing sometime, it's quite enlightening."

I fall silent. I know that he is right and I should be as able to
shrug off Jecht's taunts as he is. I know it's ridiculous, but he is
right that I am afraid that what Jecht says is true.

"There's still something else, isn't there? You don't have to be
afraid to tell me."

He looks at me and his grey eyes reflect the sky from above and the
grass below, and the deeper hues of the sea. Under his influence I
find more words within and speak again.

"My parents. I don't remember..." I am more shocked at the words
that escape me than he is.

"What do you remember?"

I frown, thinking about it. "My mother's dress, it was wh-white. I
could see it against the grass. The b-blood. My father's face." I
shook my head. I could see him looking at me, his face a pale oval
with dark hair in my mind. I'd never remembered seeing his face
before.

"You saw them die?"

"I don't know. I don't remember."

He has a puzzled look, as though uncertain what to make of what I've
told him, and we fall silent again, both lost in our thoughts.

"I don't want you to be angry about Jecht anymore."

"I understand."

"Auron, that wasn't an order. I meant...have you thought that
perhaps Sir Jecht is trying to tell you something?"

"That I'm a...p-"

His hand touches mine, stopping the word before it can get stuck in
my throat. "I think he sees quite clearly, something that you don't
want to." I attempt to protest but he silences me with his own.
"That I love you. How much I love you."

His eyes are greyer now, a darker stormy ocean of colour. "When you
asked to be my guardian you agreed to follow me to the very edge of
the farplane and no further. So I have no right...to ask you, to
follow me in this."

His eyes drift downwards to my lips and I feel a shock of sensation
in the pit of my stomach. His hand on mine shifts slightthenthen
moves to my knee. I feel as though I cannot move, suspended in
stillness as he leans towards me and his lips move closer, brushing
lightly against mine. My eyes close as his have d and and his hand
tightens once as he presses his lips more firmly against mine. The
sensation is pleasant, his lips warm and pliant, molding to mine, so
that when he pulls away our lips cling a little as though reluctant
to part from each other.

He examines me intently, searching for an answer to his question,
but I have none to give. I cannot reconcile Braska's words with
Jecht's jeering taunts, the kiss I just received with my memories.
My confusion must be evi bec because Braska does not seem impatient
or embarrassed at my silence, and there is only a hint of ruefulness
in his eyes when he looks away.

"My Lord..."

"It's alright."

"Lord Braska!" He looks back at my tone. "I love you."

"Auron...I already knew that."

He lies back in the grass and closes his eyes.

"Don't worry, it will be alright." He says, and after a time I think
he falls asleep. I sit beside him, guarding his rest, but my mind is
in turmoil, and remains so for many days and nights following.


XxxxxxXxxxxxX

Jecht grins at our approach and hoists up a fish almost two-thirds
his own height. "Check it out, guys!"

The young fisherman with him does not cease his work filleting and
cleaning but looks up and his eyes crinkle. "Catch of the day, that
one! Think we should cut him up now for tonight, eh?"

"I dunno, Marro." Jecht grabs the tail and head and holds it at
chest height. "I reckon it'd make a nice trophy on the wall."

"Better eating though, we'll have a big party tonight, better than
last night, ya?"

Jecht laughs and drops the fish beside Marro, and watches as he
expertly slices the flesh from the backbone, flipping it and cutting
away the fins, tossing the unwanted parts back into the sea. Lesser
gulls swoop and dive around the boats as the day's catch is cleaned,
and nets are strung out on the beach to dry. Children also run
around on the dock, some working, others talking and watching the
men. It's a busy scene.

"Later, Marro." Jecht tells his friend, who looks up.

"I'll see you later, tonight! And if you come back to Besaid, you
fish with me again, right?" He grinned at Jecht, but then saw Braska
and his smile faltered slightly.

Jecht seems not to notice. "You bet."

He came over, and we wandered up the path towards the village.

XxxxxxXxxxxxX


The boat to Kilika is not crowded now but it will be from Kilika to
Luca. Braska talks to the captain and our cabins are assured, and
remembering our difficulty finding room to sleep on the island he
asks for and receives permission to sleep on board the following
night as well while in dock.

Our cabin is tiny, meant to sleep four it is crowded with the three
of us at once. Jecht does not take long to escape. "I'm going
outside, gonna check out the view."

Braska looks up, I know he dislikes being on the water although he
does not say anything. "Be careful, Sir Jecht. If Sin...comes..."

Jecht is dismissive of his concern. "How often does that happen?"

"Often enough." I reply. "Sin is sometimes attracted to boats. The
small boats, like the fishing fleet you went with yesterday are
usually safe, but...some people think Sin can sense the people on
board, if there are many, and rises from the depths to search for
them."

Jecht frowns. "Well, I'll make sure I've got something to hang on to
then." He grins at me. "Just in case."

Later I leave Braska who is about to begin his meditations and
although he doesn't speak his eyes tell me to be careful too.

Jecht is standing by the railing, and I am surprised that the one
time I am not looking for him he is easy to find. I had only
intended to get some fresh air, so my steps falter when I see him,
not wishing to give offence by seeming to ignore him. He looks back
when I approach. "Shouldn't you be watching over Braska, Auron?"

"I think he will be safe enough while he completes his morning
prayers."

I move to the railing beside him and look out over the ocean, the
breeze refreshing against my skin.

"Does he worry like that all the time?" Jecht asks, giving me a
sharp look from under his dark brows.

I consider for a moment, then decide to tell him. "Braska's
wife...died. She was travelling by boat with their baby when Sin
attacked. Yuna, the baby, survived, she did not."

"Ohhhh...right." Jecht looked away. "That's tough. Poor guy."

"Yes. So...be careful."

He looks startled but I do not wait, I leave him, walking around the
deck before returning below. I edge around Braska carefully in order
not to disturb his prayer trance and select one of the smaller
bunks. Jecht will have to take the top one as despite feeling the
lack of exercise from this leg of our journey I do not care for
climbing.

I close my eyes but my thoughts constantly drift back to yesterday,
when Braska kissed me. Jecht seems to have noticed nothing
different, and I open my eyes and look at Braska who is kneeling
with an expression as pure as a child's. He looks the same. I am
afraid it is only I who have changed, somewhere inside.

I close my eyes again and my lips remember his, the way it felt when
his hand moved over my knee, the look in his eyes. The memory is
enough to stir the feelings again that I felt at the time, an
exquisite anguish that lifts me up and destroys me at the same time.
I don't want to feel like this. I don't want to become the kind of
person who would hurt another for some sick pleasure. But Braska
said it was alright. That it was beautiful. His eyes told me he felt
the same thing.

My agonising thoughts take me no closer to resolution and I turn in
the bed, onto my side facing towards the wall. I slept little the
night before, and wonder if I will be able to sleep again without
this torment that I feel, but my eyes close despite the emotional
battering my bodyexpeexperiencing from within and I am awoken later
by Braska.

It is almost evening, the sky deepening blue as we make our way to
the main room where the meals are served. Braska is far from a
fading flower when it comes to eating, digging in cheerfully to the
rather plain fare. My table manners are more restrained, but he and
Jecht are like children, Jecht especially who chews with his mouth
open and talks unrestrainedly. He begins telling Braska about his
efforts catching the fish yesterday and Braska laughs once and drops
his spoon which splatters stew down the front of his robe.

It is Jecht's turn to laugh at him, and he grins back. "Another one
to add to the collection." and he points at a red streak down the
left side. "That's from having barbecue at the Lcafecafe. And this
is an egg I had for breakfast in Bevelle." and he points it out as
well. "I never seem to wash them out in time."

"Not a problem for me." Jecht says and runs his hand over his bare
chest. 'Or for good old Auron here. He eats like a girl."

I look at Braska whose eyes are warm on me, but I have given up
responding whenever Jecht insults my masculinity and am able to
ignore the slight. His words are as insignificant as pebbles, flung
carelessly at the walls of a fortress whose defences are crumbling
from within.

That evening when we return to the cabin Jecht hoists himself up
into the top bunk without complaint, and Braska enters the small
adjoining cubicle for ablutions. He washes out the mark on his robe
and emerges wearing his night robe. It is short, made of fine lawn
and clings to his hip and thigh in the places where it is damp from
where he splashed water on it. I look away from him but the image of
his body remains behind my eyes for a long time, and for the second
night it takes me a long time to sleep.


XxxxxxXxxxxxX


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