Quick Author's Note: This is for DeGoneGin, and anyone else whoever asked my advice on how best to torture their characters—er, I mean, how to improve their medical descriptions. And for Klept0, to whom I owe my soul

Additionally, I hope none of you have been complete turds while I've been gone. Keep up with your school work, keep your nose clean and your shirt ironed, and don't whine, just get even.

Lord Braska rolled up his sleeves and wiped his forehead across the back of his hand, then nodded. "We. Let's do this."

The young man healer unfastened the clasps on Auron's armour, and peeled it away. "Yevon save him."

"Don't be so melodramatic, Brynan," the old woman healer berated him, ignoring the fact Auron's midsection lost shape when Brynan removed its leather shielding. "Set your hands to either side of him and hold him together."

Brynan, looking almost as pale as Auron but many shades greener, obeyed and attempted not to vomit.

"Youngins these days," the woman muttered.

"What can I do, ma'am?" Braska asked.

"Start pulling out those teeth and heal the wounds shut. Make sure you don't heal anything but those wounds, we wouldn't want you healing his ribs to his spleen or anything."

Braska was just about to ask what exactly a spleen's function was when Jecht appeared beside him, pulling out teeth and waiting for the summoner to follow his work with curative magic.

"Ewww," Brynan groaned, watching the woman healer physically moving Auron's insides toward their original places.

"Lord Summoner, do you see where he is torn here, and here?"

Braska examined some unknown red thing inside his friend, and nodded, not trusting his voice.

"Heal those."

He followed the woman's orders.

After the last tooth was removed, Jecht excused himself and disappeared a ways down the road. Braska wanted to follow, but wanted more to help his friend as much as possible.

The woman put her hand wrist-deep into the pool of blood that was Auron's midsection; white magic glowed dimly for a moment. She removed her hand, and moved to set the broken ribs. When his ribs somewhat resembled the ribcage it once was, she lifted the bones up to their previous place and nodded to Brynan. Brynan casted a healing spell to set them in place.

"Ma'am—" Braska's eyes widened in alarm. "Ma'am!"

"Gwaya," she corrected, still working.

"Lady Gwaya, he's not breathing!"

"I know," she told him calmly, blood now up to her elbows. "He can't. Cast a cure here for me."

He did, then turned to keep tabs on Auron's reaction. Beads of cold sweat coated the guardian's face; he appeared to be struggling to take a breath, but couldn't. Blue tinged the hollows of his eyes. "Lady, please! Do something!"

Gwaya ignored his frantic pleading and instead just continued working. She frequently moved her hands where neither Braska nor Brynan could see, but Brynan didn't seem troubled. "Fell against the rocks, this one did," she chatted to them amiably. "Nearly split his stomach in half, cut up between his lungs. Surprised he survived the night. Lucky he's got such a good build, or the rocks would've cut clear to his spine. Cast here, while I've got him held together."

Braska obeyed. "Lady Gwaya, please, he's dying!"

"He's been dying since the minute he was born," she snorted, refusing to make eye contact with the summoner.

Jecht appeared again, looking a little less green, and holding Auron's sword. He leaned it up against the rock of the walls and climbed back up onto the little escarpment he currently called home. Edging back to Braska's side, he looked his fellow guardian over. "Eh, Braska, why is—why isn't he breathing?"

Braska ignored him. "Lady Gwaya! Do something! He's going to die!"

"Let me work, and he won't."

Jecht's eyes skimmed over the blue circles deepening around his friend's eyes. "How long has he been like this?"

"A couple minutes. Lady Gwaya!"

"Shut up, Lord Braska," she told him with a hint of resignation in her voice.

"A couple, like what, two?"

"He stopped a little after you left," Braska told Jecht impatiently.

Jecht's mind flew back to blitzball again. A trained blitzer can hold his breath for almost five minutes with strenuous physical activity. A regular guy of the street can usually hold his breath for about three, no physical activity. Jecht knew Auron had to be hurting for air; the blue was spreading from the hollows of his eyes to the slope of his cheekbone, and his lips were blue as well. Dammit, Auron, hang on. "Gwaya, can you speed things up a bit?"

"Honestly, Sir?"


"Sir Jecht. Do you honestly expect him to survive? Air is by far the least of his troubles."

Yes. Jecht held Auron's jaw open and hesitated. Man, Auron, you owe me. You owe me a whole shitload. You Spira types probably don't even brush your teeth. Jecht breathed into him.

Braska looked shocked for a moment, and then turned back to berating Gwaya.

Brynan watched Jecht as if CPR had never dawned on him.

Jecht watched Auron with pensive gladness as, at the third breath, the blue faded from the extremities of his face and partially from his lips. "No way am I lettin' you die. No way am I gettin' Braska to Zanarkand by myself. No way."

Lady Gwaya turned to Jecht. "Sir Jecht, I need you to stop so I can heal the muscles that allow him to breathe independently."

Jecht gave him one last breath for good measure, then sat back on his heels and watched her anxiously.

She held him together, though not trusting him to live. She tilted her head to Braska. "We may as well give him a pretty sending. Go on. Here."

Braska ignored her lack of faith and casted.

Auron gasped for air violently, as a man surfacing from a long stay under water.

"Yeah!" cheered Jecht. "That's it."

He took several deep breaths and made a strange, thin, strangled noise; he then began to breathe quite slowly, though regularly.

Gwaya worked patiently to pull together what was left and, finally, twenty minutes after she and Brynan began, indicated to Braska to heal the last part of skin together. She sat back and wiped her hands on her smock and motioned to Brynan. "Clean and bandage him. I'm going back to the agency to wash up. I'll be back in the town should you require me."

"What's the safest way to move him?" Jecht asked as she stood and walked back to the ladder leading out of the low road.

She glanced back and shrugged. "He's good to move however you want. The only things wrong with him are blood loss and shock. The places that Braska and Brynan healed with magic will be weak for several days, but not weak enough to split if he moves."

"I've a device that will help, sirs," Rin told them politely. "I shall prepare it immediately."

"Thanks Rin," Jecht replied with a tired half-smile.

"No trouble, for a deed as brave," he said quietly, more to Auron than to Jecht or Braska; he moved to follow Lady Gwaya up the ladder.

Jecht turned back to watch Brynan carefully clean blood from Auron, then bandaged the weakened ribs and midsection. "I hope he makes it," Brynan said, voice as reverently quiet as Rin's had been. "Rin told us what happened. He told us that this man was injured trying to kill that monster. It wasn't even his problem, or either of yours."

Braska winced, bowing his head.

"What did you call him? What was—is— his name?"

"Auron," Braska replied.

Brynan nodded. "We will remember him."

"Thank you," Braska's voice dropped to a painful whisper.

"He's not dead!" Jecht shouted at them, standing and hopping off the ledge. "He's NOT dead yet! Quit talking about him like that!"

Braska closed his eyes and sobbed once, but silently.

"HE'S NOT DEAD!" Jecht bellowed. His voice echoed through the tiny canyon that was the old road.

Auron was back on the Road again; icy cold water streamed up to his knees. He slammed his fists into the barrier between the Road and his physical reality. "DAMN!" he roared, clawing at nothingness.

"We need to go," his seventeen-year-old self pleaded. "Please. The bridge has appeared. We can still make it before it's too late."

"No!" Auron bellowed, but ceased his futile struggle. "No, I can't leave them."

"Please, or we'll never reach the Farplane," his five-year-old self begged. "I want to see mommy and dad again."

"I can't leave them yet."

His teenage self shook his head. "We're a monk, aren't we? Didn't we prepare for this before?"

He felt his physical self struggle for breath; his self on the Road suddenly felt drained and weak. He took a step away from the barrier, backwards, then stumbled and fell into the water.

"No!" screamed his younger selves.

Everything around him was icy water and death. He felt the waters pick up speed and depth, pushing him towards the gap between his soul and the Farplane. He would surely fall into it, and become a fiend. If he stayed on the Road, he would become an unsent; he would return to the Road every night in his dreams, and struggle always against the waters. He couldn't do even that, however, in the state that his physical body was in.

"Lord Braska," he choked on water, feeling it seep into his being rather than fill lungs he didn't have. "Help me…"

What did you call him? What was—is—his name?



He felt some degree of strength return to him. The words cut across his world and reached his ears without distortion from the waters. Struggling, he pulled himself from the waters just in time to snag his younger selves as they floated down the river past him. With one motion, he moved his five-year-old self to his back, and caught his eight-year-old self in his arms. "Hang on," he ordered his teenage self.

"Are we going to the bridge?" he asked hopefully, grabbing hold of his coat-sleeve.

"We're going back," he told him, trudging up river as the water reached his waist. "We're not done yet."

His other selves grimaced and let out a simultaneous noise of tortured dismay.

The walk was long and difficult, but Auron managed to fight back into his reality. He was immediately greeted with the nightmares that delirium brings. It seemed an eternity that he dreamt, but the most gruesome pictures his mind could conjure only gave him the satisfaction of knowing he was alive.

A tiny boy of five knelt on the beach; the land was eerily quiet. Sin destroyed everything. No women were left to cry over the corpses. No men were left to clean them up. No dogs were left to bark. No birds were left to call. The tiny boy, smudged with dirt and blood, was the only one left. He knelt next to the body of his father, who had washed up nearly a day after the attacks. The corpses were barely recognizable, but the boy knew his parents well enough to know which was his father, and that none of the others were his mother. He was smart for a boy of five, but he had no idea what to do, now. The island was levelled.

He curled up on the beach, and cried.

Music. He remembered the most beautiful, strong voice singing the simple but noble Hymn. The boy awoke to a show of pyreflies; the souls of his village were collecting and swirling, swirling and flying, flying out to sea. He sat up slowly, feeling his burned skin and dehydrated body protest at him. The sight that met his eyes made him forget all of that.

An angel. He remembered the most beautiful angel dancing on ivory feet, a robe of ivory and silver flowing around a swirling form, swirling and flying, flying over water and sand and death, flying into the air and dancing gracefully; all wings, all hands, all dainty feet, all voice and bells and drums. He watched as this angel finished the dance and sent the souls of his village to the Farplane, and he was grateful. He only wished that he'd had as much prudence as to die sooner and accompany them.

"Yevon—do you see him! There's a boy on the beach! He's still alive!"

"Be careful, he may be Unsent."

"He's a little boy for Yevon's sake!"

"Hurry, bring him to the summoner."

Then darkness. Then the Road. He remembered the first time he'd been on the Road. He was too small and too weak to resist the waters. Too weak, and too willing to die. He simply floated and went downstream complacently, until two ivory angel's hands scooped him up and carried him back to the living.

They put him in the Temple orphanage for two years, until he was old enough to begin training. Recognizing him as a tough little kid, the headmaster of the orphanage recommended him to the toughest monk to ever accept an apprentice. The monk was strict; he kept a rigid schedule of training. He gave Auron a wooden sword and a pile of blankets on the floor, and two meals a day. It was more than Auron would have been able to get for himself, and he was grateful.

Five AM—wake up, boil water for the day. Feed the chocobos. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, sweep the floors of the entire Temple. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, dust the statues and glass, beat out the rugs. On Saturdays, tend the master's personal garden.
Seven AM—Make breakfast, eat, clean the dishes.
Seven Thirty AM—Morning exercises.
Ten AM—Sword training.
One PM—Make lunch for the master and the other monks, sit with the orphans and attend while the monks eat. Clean the dishes.
Two PM—Tend the Temple's gardens.
Four PM—Sword training.
Six PM—Unarmed combat training.
Eight PM—Make dinner, eat, clean the dishes.
Eight Thirty PM—Attend Temple services.
Ten-Thirty PM—General studies.
Midnight—Extinguish the torches in the Temple, return to the master's hut and sleep.

Auron turned out to be the worst apprentice his master had ever had—or so the older man berated him nearly every day. He was slow to learn to read, slower to learn to write, and (as a child) he was weak in body. His general studies frequently continued for several hours after the extinguishing of the torches—the monks in the Temple would discipline him the next day for not attending the event. Within a few months, his health began to suffer from the poor treatment. He developed a deep cough and spells of dizziness would overcome him. He tried to ignore it; he didn't want to show any weakness to his master, not when his life depended upon the monkhood. He was soon unable to.

His master gave him a particularly difficult book and told him to copy it. He worked all night on it and into the next morning. When his master found him sleeping on the book, he was furious. He hauled Auron to his feet by the back of his neck and scoffed when the half-asleep boy stumbled backwards and mumbled in confused protest. He shouted at him about how he was neglecting his studies, and that reading, writing, and numbers were just as important to a warrior monk as swordwork was—not that Auron would know, he continued, seeing as Auron's swordwork was as bad as his writing. He dragged Auron to the stream near the house, and handed the boy a heavy steel blade.

"Onto the rocks," the master ordered him.

Auron struggled to lift the sword, dizzy and lightheaded. He unsteadily crept across the slick rocks that stuck up above the water. About halfway out, he took a moment to steady himself, then turned to face his master.

His master stepped sure-footedly onto the rocks, putting himself between Auron and the shore. He lifted his own sword and looked Auron straight in the eyes. "Are you tired?"

Auron swayed a little. "No, sir."

"Do you want to sleep?"

"No sir." His breath became short. He let the sword meet the water's surface in front of him.

"Are you a weakling? Pick up that weapon! Show it the respect it deserves."

Auron concentrated on lifting the heavy sword and standing at guard. "Yes, sir."

"What's wrong with you?" His master's voice changed. It was suddenly quieter and somewhat gentler, but just as firm. "Square with me, boy. Are you sure this is the life you want?"

"Yes sir," he answered more strongly than before.

"Then what is it? Are you neglecting your studies because you're tired? Are you not getting enough to eat?"

"I just don't understand, sir," he tried to explain, shaking under the sword's weight and his own dizziness. "I've tried to work the letters, but they just don't make sense to me. I understand the numbers, sir; those are easy."

His master frowned.

Auron took it as an expression of disappointment. "I'm sorry, sir, I just—I don't…" without warning, he fainted. The feel of the water against his skin was a cool relief.

The next thing he remembered was his master's voice and being carried to the Temple. "Auron, why didn't you tell me?"

"Hmm?" he squinted up at his master and coughed slightly.

"Why didn't you tell me you're ill? You could've gone to see a healer."

"I'm ill?" he wondered.

The monk shot him a half-hearted glare. "You truly are an idiot, Auron."

"Yes, sir. I'm sorry, sir." He indulged himself in a moment of weakness and lost consciousness again.

He was unconscious and dreaming for quite some time, seeing all kinds of grotesque images and the corpses on the beach; hundreds and hundreds of corpses. He was vaguely aware he was in the healer's hut, on a cot, but in his mind he was still on the beach. His master was glaring down at him, kicking him savagely in the ribs and yelling at him.

Why didn't you save them? You're stupid and weak.
Yes, sir. I'm sorry, sir.
I've been trying to teach you how to save them, and all you've done is ignore me and soak up the Temple's kindness.
I know, sir. Please forgive me, sir.
The Temple doesn't have to tolerate weaklings. We can always just throw you out.
Please, no, sir. I'm sorry, sir. Don't leave me, too. I'm sorry, sir.

Then there was the Road again.

Drums. He heard drums. No, he heard feet. His own feet pounded the dirt path in the jungle-forest of Kilika. He seventeen, a warrior monk, and now a excommunicated heretic chased by executioners—other warrior monks. A half-dozen of the monks he'd trained with were chasing him with orders to kill him by any means necessary. He'd dishonoured the daughter of a priest of Yevon, and thereby dishonoured the priest and Yevon himself. He'd refused to marry a woman he didn't love. In his heart, he believed Yevon forgave him, but the priest and the monks did not.

He ran until he could run no more; his lungs burned and his heart threatened to give out. He was well towards the city, but he knew no one in the city would be able to help him. He stumbled, then fell on his face. He attempted to push himself back to his feet, when a voice rang out behind him.


He froze, recognizing the voice as belonging to Kinoc, a young monk he trained with and was friends with. He turned, still on the ground, and saw that the man had stopped. "Kinoc," he returned, trying to sound as level as possible despite being out of breath.

"You can't get away," Kinoc told him, pointing a spear at him. "They'll hunt you everywhere, as long as you're alive."

Auron stared at him, betrayed and truly frightened. He had his weapon; its weight was the main reason he was unable to outrun his executioners. Excommunicated or not, Auron would not—could not—draw and fight against his friends. He stood as the other monks ran up behind Kinoc and stopped. He drew his sword, pointed it at Kinoc, then dropped it on the ground in front of him. "I'm not going to fight any of you. I grew up with you. You're my friends."

"You're excommunicated," one of the monks spat at him. "You're no friend of ours."

They rushed him. They knocked him down and encircled him, various weapons surrounding him. They beat him with their fists and the blunt ends of their weapons until he was sufficiently immobilized by broken bones and covered in his own blood. He prepared himself for a deathblow.

Then he heard a strong, gentle voice order them to stop. He opened one eye, the other swollen shut, and saw the circle part. A man in robes put himself between the monks and Auron. He knelt beside the wounded man and cast a strange spell of warmth and light and healing. Auron's other eye opened.

An angel. He remembered the most beautiful angel in a robe of red and dark flowing around a protective form, protective and trusting, lifting Auron over water and death and the Road; all wings, all hands, all voice and bells and drums.

"What is your name, young monk?"


"My name is Braska. I am a summoner from Besaid."

A murmur buzzed through the crowd of Auron's executioners.

Auron raised a shaky hand and touched Braska's cheek. "I saw a summoner once… on the beach of Keena."

"Keena was levelled twelve years ago. The summoner you must have seen was Lady Aere."

"I saw a summoner, once," he repeated hazily. "I saw… an angel."

Braska continued to heal Auron's wounds, alternating between healing and glaring at the other monks.

"Lord Braska," Kinoc interrupted them. "We have orders to kill this traitor. He was excommunicated and fled from the Temple upon sentencing."

"What has he done?" Braska inquired, not really caring but buying time.

"He refused to marry Priest Lagir's daughter," Kinoc told him dutifully. "He insulted a priest of Yevon and the entire Order."

Braska scoffed at Kinoc, then turned to Auron. "Auron, would you be willing to accompany me to Zanarkand as my guardian?"

Auron was silent a moment, in pure shock. "I… a guardian…? Yes, my lord. I would be honoured." That done, he lost consciousness.

Braska looked up at the monks triumphantly. "SIR Auron is my guardian. He is under my protection." The group raised their voices in protest, but Braska cut them off. "You can't touch him."

Kinoc sneered; they turned and headed back to the Temple to report what had happened.

Braska knew his guardian was treading the Road, and was a little less than confident he could save him, but at least he hadn't left the man to the injustice of the Order. The summoner hoped he wasn't too late.

"How does it happen?"
"In defence of our friends."
"In battle?"

He awoke in the Travel Agency in a darkened room; breath seemed in short supply, and he was freezing, but he noticed he was under several woollen blankets and a roaring fire greeted him from across the room. He felt downright nauseous, but knew there was nothing in his stomach to dispose of. The fall had made sure of that.

"Unnnhhh," he managed, closing his eyes tightly. For some reason, his throat felt scratchy and his voice, overused.

A hand softly stroked his forehead, and a tired voice shushed him. "It's okay, it's okay, it's only a dream…"

"Most dreams don't include this severe of a headache," he groaned.

Braska's face shot up from where it was resting on his arms. "Auron!"


"You're alive."

"Yes, mi'lord; every one of my nerves will attest to that…"

Braska chuckled, relieved. "Oh Yevon…"

Jecht's face appeared in the door joining that room to another; he scrubbed the back of his hand across his eyes tiredly. "I hear speaking and it's intelligible this time… he awake?"

"Yes," Braska answered him joyously. "Yes, he's awake."

Jecht smiled, exhausted, and walked over to take the seat on the other side of Auron's bed. "Damn, kid…"

"Jecht, thank you," Auron told him. "Thank you for… believing that I wasn't dead… I heard you…"

He wrinkled his eyebrows and squinted his sleep-deprived eyes. "You heard that? How?"

"I could still hear some…" he stopped mid-sentence to take several deep breaths.

"Auron, are you still having trouble breathing?"

"Mi'lord, it's not difficult to breathe, but it seems like… like I can't get enough air…" his eyelids fluttered briefly, and he felt himself slipping back into unconsciousness.

Braska gripped his hand. "You've lost a lot of blood. Please, try to stay awake a little longer."

"How long have I been out?"

"A few days."

"I'm delaying the pilgrimage."

"Auron," Jecht rolled his eyes, "shut up."

"I agree; don't worry about it," Braska told him. "How are you feeling?"

Auron took a few more deep breaths before he answered. "Dizzy. Cold. A little… nauseous."

Braska nodded. "Do any of your wounds still hurt?"

"nnnhah… hah… hah… ow… Mi'lord… do not make me laugh…"

"Everything, hm?" he smiled a little.

"Mmmhmm…" his eyes fluttered closed again.

"Auron, try to stay awake, please," Braska told him.

Auron's eyebrows knitted and he forced his eyes open with a sigh. "Please, mi'lord," he pleaded. "I'm so tired…"

"I know. We've got to try and get you to eat while you're awake, or you'll only get weaker. Jecht and I are going to sit you up, okay?"

"…do I have to?"

"Auron, I'ma keep you awake by slapping the shit out of you," Jecht threatened. "And in your state, you wouldn't be able to do anything about it."

Auron shot him an evil glare and pushed himself up on the heels of his hands.

Braska shoved some pillows behind him to sit against, then turned to Jecht. "No fighting. I'm going to go find food." He near ran across the tiny room and out the door.

"Yeah, you hear that?" Jecht laughed. "No fighting, you might hurt somebody."

Auron sighed in irritation, then chuckled in spite of himself.

"Hey uh… Auron? What else did you hear while you were out?"

He wrinkled his eyebrows. "I heard someone ask what I was called, and Braska answer. Why?"

"Nothin'." He ignored Auron's second glare. Instead, he turned his gaze to the floor and asked, "What were you dreaming about?" Seeing Auron's raised eyebrow, Jecht spread his hands palm-out in a gesture of subordination. "You don't have to answer if I'm being nosey, but you were screaming something awful."

That's why my voice is so hoarse. "I dreamt a lot of things. I think… the only one I really shouted in was…" he paused to take another few deep breaths and meditate on how to word it. "I dreamt I was at Shai's room again." His voice dropped almost to a whisper.

Jecht raised an eyebrow and tilted his head back, indicating that Auron should continue.

"Shai is… a woman I was involved with once."

Jecht whooped. "You had a girlfriend!"

Auron shook his head. "A group of women came out of the room with… with the smallest baby girl I'd ever seen. She was wrapped in so many blankets it was as if there was more blanket than child. They gave her to me, and… she was perfect, except that she was so tiny and frail, even for an infant. I… I suppose it's how any man who became a father would feel when they see their child for the first time. She opened her eyes and stared at me for a long time, and… I felt like nothing would ever be wrong with the world again. I would never let anything happen to the little child, and she trusted me as if I were family. She was so quiet, but she wasn't afraid." He chuckled fondly. "Most little children are afraid of me, but not her. And I loved her for it. Shai came out of the room and laughed at me, and made as if to take the child away from me. When I refused, she—"

"Wait," Jecht interrupted. " 'Shai' is the girl's mother?"


"Why wouldn't you give her back her kid?"

Auron's upper lip twitched in a barely suppressed expression of pure disgust. "No child should ever have to grow up in the care of that thing that calls herself a woman. She only begat the child to use it against me; I knew the child wasn't mine, but no innocent soul should endure that woman."

"So, bad chica, eh?"

Chica? What in the name of Yevon is that? Auron paused for a moment. "…Your unique choice of diction never ceases to amuse me."

"Get on with it," Jecht urged like a kid at story-time. "What did Shai do?"

"She tried to take the child from me, but I wouldn't let her. She cast something on me, so I couldn't move, and she took the girl right out of my arms." Auron clenched his hands into fists and took a breath to try and calm himself. "The child started wailing and screaming… the last I remember seeing of her was the look… the look of abject terror. No child should ever know what that kind of fear is, but she knew and… I couldn't do anything about it. After that, I only remember pounding on the door of Shai's room and trying my damnedest to knock it down. That is most likely why I was screaming."

"Yeah, I'll bet you were screaming," Jecht growled. "Take away a man's child, and-"

"She wasn't mine," Auron insisted sadly. "But… Thinking back… I wish I really had been there when she was born, to take her away from that and at least put her in an orphanage far away from that woman, where she would be safe."

Jecht looked up at Auron, noting that suddenly his friend seemed years older and terribly weary. "So, the child is real, but isn't yours?"

"…It is complicated." He rested his head back against the pillows. "I'm going to sleep," he stated in a tone that brooked all argument. "Tell Lord Braska that I just passed out, that way you won't catch any of the blame."

Jecht wanted to laugh at his friend's sudden willingness to lie to his 'Lord,' but the story of the child still weighed heavily on his mind. "Alright, you do that. Rest well."

Not five minutes after Auron returned to unconsciousness, Braska returned with a bowl filled with what could only be termed 'gruel.'"

"Hmm, Auron'll be glad he missed that," Jecht whispered to Braska, wrinkling his nose at the bowl.

Braska seemed dismayed at his bad timing, but set the bowl aside just in case.

"Braska? What d'ya know 'bout a woman called 'Shai'? Auron and I had a nice little talk about his dreams, and apparently-"

"I know," Braska cut him off, his voice taking on a dangerous tone. "I know."

Jecht took it as a hint to shut up and stop asking questions, but to his surprise Braska continued.

"Shaisatánia… I don't know what her purpose with Auron was, but she wanted to use him for something I'm sure. Auron confronted her about her… explicit activities… with a warrior monk friend of his."

Jecht tipped his head to the side and squinted in question.

"Shaisatánia owns and operates a brothel in Bevelle. Warrior monks are expressly forbidden to partake of women."


"When Auron turned up in her brothel and started making demands for her to stop having relations with Talrys, she decided she wanted Auron instead of her current warrior monk. I don't know exactly how she managed to get him in bed with her, but all Auron has expressed on that matter is regret. She called for him after he returned from a long assignment, and informed him not-so-subtly that she was with child."

That's the dream… "So, Auron has a kid?"

"Not exactly. With as many men as Shaisatania had been with, it's impossible to say if the child was his or not, but most likely not. The way the timing worked out, she was with child before they bedded. She was the type that would've used that child against every man she was with."

"So what happened to her?"

"She's probably still running the brothel—"

"No, not Shai, the baby."

Braska shook his head regretfully. "If the child could no longer benefit her, she probably destroyed it."

Jecht felt very cold all of the sudden. "So... it doesn't matter whose the baby is… she's dead…" He turned and regarded Auron's sleeping form with a pained expression. "Braska, he had a nightmare about—"

"He frequently does," Braska cut him off again. "He knows in his heart there was nothing he could do to save that child, but he still feels so badly about it. I don't think the nightmares will ever really stop until Shai is dead."

"So let's kill the bitch on our way to Zanarkand, eh?"

Braska simply shook his head sadly.

Auron was no longer having nightmares. He didn't really understand what the dream was about, but he was lying on a beach on the island where Braska and his family had lived before Braska's wife died—Besaid, he thought it was. The sun was warm, and the breeze was perfect. He was lazily unafraid of fiends or Sin, despite his proximity to the ocean. He was reclining on a sort of a sandy slope, so he could see right out over the waves where a handful of people were playing in the water; and right into the eyes of a very tiny child which rested on his chest, just over his heart.

The child blinked at him, silently, then reached up and wrapped her tiny fingers around his chin. He smiled gently and allowed her to amuse herself with his facial features, then get bored and snuggle back into the material of his shirt. He vaguely noted that his shirt was not his customary red, but rather the loudest, most obnoxious flowery pattern that could possibly exist. He didn't care.

A large, fluffy white dog came bounding down the beach towards them, tongue lolling in a doggy sort of grin, and young girl with messy blonde hair came chasing after it. The dog stopped when it reached Auron, going over to give an examining sniff to the child on his chest. Protectively, Auron shooed the dog away, and noticed that the child didn't as much as fuss.

Uncle Auron, momma says you shouldn't spend so much time in the sun, you might get all burned.

Well, tell your mother that if she didn't spend so much time in the sun, she wouldn't worry so much about me.

The girl with messy blonde hair tipped her head to the side in confusion, then shrugged and turned to run off. Kay. C'mon, doggie!

The dog bounded after her.

The infant (who held so still while he 'defended' her from the dog) now wrapped a tiny hand around the collar of his shirt and sighed contentedly. She trusted him so much, she feared nothing. She didn't even fear him. And he loved her for it.

Hey look! I actually finished something!

Klept0, email me or something, dude. I've got a drawing to send you.