Disclaimer: Don't own Auron, don't own Rikku, don't own Home, don't own Yuna, don't own Spira in general... I think that's just about all I mentioned that I don't own. ^^I do own this snippet, though!

A/N: Auron's reflections as the Guardian's set eyes on Home for the first time. Obviously Aurikku. Forgive any obscurity - I'm not finished the game yet, and thus unsure as to how everything pans out. But I was feeling inspired, and I'm happy with this piece... no flames, please! If you have a problem with the pairing, say so if you must, but don't take out a difference in opinion on me. I have a tendency to bite.

GUARD

"Protect the Summoner, even atthe cost of one's life." That couldn't be a truer statement. Yuna must always be my first concern... Yuna, and her sacred pilgrimage. I am not a follower of Yevon. I have seen too much to be anything but a sceptic. That is not of consequence, that I have never cared for spirituality. It doesn't lessen the importance of this quest to the people of Spira.

That might be a lie. I might have cared once, before the duty drowned all else, before I lost myself in it and forgot how to live. I stopped living a long time ago.

The foreboding had risen long before we crested the rise before the place you call Home. The dry desert winds that blazed with the shimmering heat had carried to me the scent and sounds of battle long before we reached that place. The anxiety was not new, was not difficult to keep hidden. I had felt it before. I knew what we would see before you moaned in surprise and despair, before I lay my only eye upon it. The city was under attack, and my Summoner with it.

I ran to find her, of course I did. I am nothing if not a guardian. Without Yuna I am a wandering swordsman, a rurouni. I am the direct equivalent of a merchant without wares, a minstrel with no audience. It has always been in my nature, to guard. An odd quality to find in a man so desperately disconnected from the world around him.

Not so disconnected as I might like. Not so disconnected that I do not notice the soft fall of golden hair when you sleep. Not so disconnected that I can resist your pleas, ignore your childish fears and let you suffer. not so disconnected that I can walk away from you, to find my Summoner, unscathed.

It is a deep hope, one I will not admit to if you were to ask me, that you are able to understand some day why I cannot attach myself to you. To this. Why I cannot touch your shoulder in comfort, or look you in the eye when you are as unhappy, as adult, as you are in these moments of pain. Understand that I am Yuna's Guardian, and that she, and not you, must always be my first concern. When I flee your tears, it must be. My honour must always hold, my wards must survive, even if my pride, my heart... do not.

I know he will comfort you more than I can. He is not a guardian proper; he does not understand, so poorly did his father guard him when he was younger. Until I... he had no true protector. He is another I have taken under my wing.

I know... that this can never be. Still, I hope... I hope that you can understand, and still stay young and vivid and alive. I hope that somehow you will understand. That you will wait for me, though I know that this can never be.

Later, when Yuna's safety is assured, I will speak to you alone. The outcast and the vagabond. I will speak to you and ask who he was to you, one of the many Al Bhed that died today. The selfish part of me hopes he was a boyfriend, a lover, gone forever as soon as Yuna dances. But the part of me that you awakened hopes that he was not a loss that will cut you to the quick, that the rift in your heart will heal swiftly. Sorrow ill becomes you. I will ask and I will comfort as best I can. I only hope that you will allow me to guard you this way, too. I only hope it is enough.

~*~

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