DISCLAIMER: Sadly, I do not own FFX, FFX-2, any Final Fantasy game, or any of

the characters therein. Much as I'd like to. I do, however own this story and

any origonal characters that I put there. Stealing them will make me unhappy. If

you'd like to post this or any of my stories on your site, tho, drop me a line

and ask permission.

I'd stopped for the night at the Travel Agency at Macelania, when Kinoc

finally caught up with me. Not that I'd known that he was even following me. But

I'd just been paying for a room when I heard him call my name.

"Auron!" I turned to see his smiling face. "It really is you. I thought

you were dead."

I am. But I'm not going to tell you that. "You seem to have been


"It would seem so. By Yevon, I'm glad to see you."

He followed me back to my room. "What happened to you? You look


"The pilgrimage happened to me, Kinoc. I really don't want to talk about


"Fair enough, I suppose. Braska did die, after all."

"Lord Braska."

"Of course. My apologies. Talk in Bevelle is that they may not make him

High Summoner because of his wife. Are you going to plead his case?"

Not make him High Summoner? What are the priests in Bevelle thinking?

"What the priests in Bevelle do now is not my concern. My part in their travesty

is over."

It wasn't--not yet anyway--but my old friend didn't need to know that.

We stood there in silence for several long moments. Finally he broke the

silence. "Can I buy you dinner?"

"Not tonight, Kinoc. I just want to rest now." It was true enough.

"I'll see you in the morning then. Goodnight, Auron."

"Goodnight, Kinoc." I closed the room's door behind him.

Wearily, I draped my coat over the room's lone chair, and leaned my

sword against the wall. With a relieved sigh I lay down on the bed.

"Jecht," I whispered to myself. "What you've asked may be too much."

I let myself drift off to sleep.

The next morning, I woke early, and had the public bathing room to

myself. As I bathed, shaved and dressed, I reflected on how Kinoc and I had

changed since I turned down the priest's daughter. Or, more accurately, how I

had changed and he had not. When we had both been in training as warrior monks,

and later after attaining our ranks, we had dreamed of being Maesters of Yevon.

We would take the faith to the heathen Al-Bhed. We were going to unify Spira and

bring peace to all the races.

We were fools. One need only live in the temples of Bevelle to have seen

the hypocrisy of the priests and maesters. To see that our religion--our entire

way of life--was a cleverly woven lie.

I did not look forward to a meal with my still ignorant friend. My lack

of faith would disturb him, as his lack of knowledge did me.

It felt like my spending time with him was almost a betrayal of Braska's

memory. And yet, I would do it anyway. I was not yet ready to let go of this

last friend.

The day did not go as badly as I had imagined. In fact, it was much like

old times, without talk of Braska or his pilgrimage. It was very relaxed, and

for that I was grateful.

I didn't know how many more relaxing days I would get.

That night, after dinner, Kinoc bought us a round of drinks. I think he

was hoping it would loosen me up enough to talk about the pilgrimage. It failed

miserably, but I don't suppose I blame him for trying.

We sat in a companionable silence for awhile--two glasses of ale for him

and one for me--before he spoke. "What was it like? The pilgrimage?"

I sighed. I'd known it was coming. "It was hell."

"That's it? No grand stories about your journey? No sage advice or great


I stood and slapped my palms into the table top. "Is that what you want?

Some life lesson? Fine. Here's something they don't tell you about life.

"You will make friends that become so close they are family. You will

laugh with them, cry with them, heal with them. You will love them more than

anything else.

"And then you will watch them suffer and die and be powerless to stop


He couldn't have looked more surprised if I had struck him. He wasn't

expecting something like that little speech. I don't think I was supposed to

have gotten so pessimistic. His old friend wasn't supposed to have changed like


That would have been wonderful.

"Auron," he looked pleading now. "Please, sit back down."

I shook my head. "I can't. I have an appointment to keep. Thank you for

the drink." I turned and walked to the door.

"Auron!" I turned back. "When will you be back?"

"I doubt it will be any time soon. Good luck my friend." I left the

dining room before he could question me further.