They Who Change the World

A FFX fanfic by Princess Artemis

© S.D. Green 2004, except for that which is © Square-Enix

Please note this was inspired by a difficult to find sphere in FFX-2, but is a FFX fic.

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He had been walking along the foot of a large sand dune, searching for his summoner and her guardians when a young man called out to him from above.

"Hey! You're Auron, one of Yuna's guardians, am I right?" the voice said.

Auron stopped and looked up toward the young man. He was Al Bhed, with an eye-patch and slightly unusual clothing for his race. He had a friend using a sphere recorder with him. Auron simply nodded to the young man.

The Al Bhed announced, "I just picked up a transmission. Apparently, the Guado are nearby and looking for you and your party. Their orders are to find Yuna and kill her guardians." He paused, then added, "Maybe you should lay low for a while?"

"Is that advice?" Auron asked calmly. To himself he wondered how the Guado had found them so quickly; Sin was not known for leaving tracks when it teleported people to other destinations. It was good information, however. It meant that Yuna and her guardians were in the area and it meant he should be doubly cautious.

"No, I just don't want you causing trouble. Yevon is after me, too," the man replied.

Auron's expression didn't change, but he was disappointed in the young man's selfishness. He would rather had the Al Bhed's statement be advice, although Auron certainly understood why the man would be concerned if Yevon were after him specifically. Then again, perhaps he had simply been intimidated at the suggestion that he would feel free to give out advice to the vaunted 'Legendary Guardian'. It had happened before, and Auron found the idea no less irritating now than he had on any other occasion. Or it might have been something else. Still, his voice did not betray his thoughts. "Then I apologize in advance." He began walking away. It was a fair trade of information.

"You're gonna fight?" the Al Bhed asked, surprised. Auron stopped and looked back at him, saying nothing, allowing his expression to speak for him. "I see...," he said. "I'm tired of running from the temples, too. I have thought about fighting." Then he laughed a bit. "I'd probably look like a jackass if I suggested it to anyone though."

Voice still calm, Auron replied, "Only a jackass can change the world." He wasn't entirely certain why he had said that, and he began walking away again.

"Huh. Good call," the young Al Bhed said to Auron's retreating form.

Auron's voice had been even, so there was no way for the Al Bhed to know how much dark emotion had been in those words, nor what thoughts they kindled. Jackass. It wasn't a word Auron normally used; he had simply taken it and flung it back at the Al Bhed.

Only a jackass can change the world.

Deep in thought, the fading conversation between the two friends on the sand dune barely registered. It wouldn't have had much meaning to Auron even if he had heard it clearly; it was in Al Bhed, and while he had picked up several words during Braska's pilgrimage and more recently from Rikku, he was not fluent.

As he walked, he wondered at that statement he had made. Generally, his words were guarded and carefully chosen, but in that instance, it seemed the words had chosen themselves. The statement perturbed him, drawing forth memories he would have rather kept hidden. He had tried to change the world once...and afterward he felt like a damned fool. Actually, he had tried it twice, and now he was making a third attempt.

The first attempt had been out of idealism mixed with desperation. Auron had not wanted to see his two best friends die. He had begged Braska to look for another way, and instead of doing his final duty as his guardian, the duty Yunalesca spelled out, Jecht had taken the role. It had been stupid, foolish of him to argue with Braska. Failed in his duties and in so doing condemned both of his friends to death. There was no changing the world then; there were no other possibilities, despite all his protestations.

The second attempt was another instance of miserable failure to keep to his duty, driven by grief and rage. He had been so blinded by emotions at the time that he had actually gone back to Zanarkand and attacked Yunalesca. He had helped Braska in his battle, as much as he was able, and he knew precisely what a fool's hope Yunalesca provided. Auron had watched in shock as the aeon Jecht was overpowered by Yu Yevon, snapping the summoner's bond with such force that it alone might have killed Braska if his own aeon's blade hadn't struck him down. Defeated Sin...there was no defeating Sin that way. The Final Summoning was a farce, and Auron's world had come crumbling down about him. His friends had ultimately sacrificed themselves for nothing; the teachings of Yevon were lies, his life had been spent in service to that lie, and Yunalesca was the mother of those lies. Braska and Jecht's lives had been destroyed in service to those lies.

So Auron had tried to destroy her. At the time, all he felt was the grief, the rage...and despair. It had been a horrible dereliction of duty; he had promises to keep, and instead he seemingly threw his life away to assuage his grief.

...But that had not exactly been the case.

He knew now that his true intent in attacking Yunalesca was not revenge, or some dishonorable method of suicide...it had been, deep down, an attempt to prevent her from perpetuating her lies. There could be no Final Aeon without her...and the world would be forced to change.

Still, a failure. Yunalesca had struck him, slapped him away like an annoying fly, and it had taken Auron two full, excruciating weeks to die.

Slow death had allowed him to fulfill one promise, however...to remember his duty. And by some bizarre twist of fate, death had allowed him to keep the second.

Jecht would laugh, but perhaps Auron had not been quite enough of a jackass to change the world then, despite what he had set out to do.

Auron suddenly snapped out of his reverie to find that he hadn't been watching where his feet took him. It didn't matter much; he was lost in this desert, but the least he could have done was pay attention to the sand formations and half-buried ruins so he would know if he had been wandering in circles. Realizing he was too deep in thought to be of much use hunting for Yuna or the other guardians, Auron chose to sit in the sand for a while. He has glad to have his sunglasses; the sand was bright, and they provided his one good eye some protection from the glare.

He took the dark glasses off for a moment, turning them over in his hands. Death had been a strange existence for him. The glasses and his tall collar had become necessary in Jecht's Zanarkand. Jecht had warned him, as he took Auron to the sleepless city, that there were some scars a man could have and retain his dignity, and some he couldn't. It had proven true, in a way; Auron rarely allowed another to take his dignity, and no one in Zanarkand had, but they had tried. Many folks there had reacted in shock; of those, most clearly thought he must have been insanely stupid to get himself hurt that way, and worse yet to allow the gash to heal without the benefit of a real doctor. Others looked at him in pity for the perceived disability, not knowing that he had quickly learned to make up for the lack of depth perception and peripheral vision...that he was still a formidable sword fighter. Auron did not tolerate either attitude easily, and he had resorted to the glasses and collar to stave off unwanted attention.

He placed the glasses back on his nose. The young Al Bhed he had met also appeared to have been missing an eye; for a moment, Auron wondered how the man had lost it. Probably an accident with machina; in any event, it certainly had not been lost in as ghastly a way as his own had been. The young man was alive, that alone proved it.

The glasses and collar had served another purpose, however. They had been the foundations of his 'temple', as had the change in the way he wore his kimono. A temple to guard himself from acting like a complete fool...to guard himself from his own deep-seated idealism and his sorrow at his failures. That was his 'Chamber of the Fayth', his inner sanctum, where no one was allowed to go, not even himself.

In Zanarkand, in death, he had easily erected a temple, and he already possessed the chamber of the fayth; it had not taken him long to build a labyrinthine 'Cloister of Trials' to keep everyone out. A naturally introverted man with much knowledge could easily make himself cryptic, distant, and cold...utterly unapproachable and completely intimidating. That is just what Auron did, although the act was not entirely conscious.

He chuckled to himself. Having fully created his temple façade, he gained mystique, which attracted attention of another variety entirely. It had not been his intention, but it seemed to him there was little women enjoyed more than enigmas, and solving them became irresistible to them. But Auron tolerated that sort of attention slightly better than the disgust and pity he had attracted before, for it mattered to him not at all. He simply avoided them; his only concern in Zanarkand was Tidus, and the sorts of girls and women that kept his company were generally uninterested in someone with gray hair. Most of them, anyway.

Those thoughts led him to another, and back to his original concern about his words to the Al Bhed. There was another Al Bhed of Auron's acquaintance who seemed to find nothing quite as delightful as trying to unravel him. He wondered if Rikku thought he was a jackass.

Auron was certain that, if asked, she would state that he was a 'meanie'. He supposed that counted. His façade held quite well against all of her attempts to drag him out, which irritated her to no end.

And she was someone out to change the world. Was Rikku a jackass? Auron rubbed his forehead. No, she wasn't. She was annoying, yes, but her concern for her cousin was real, perhaps more genuine than many of the Al Bhed who kidnapped summoners. To them the pilgrimage was an abomination on principle. To Rikku, it was personal. That was something worthy of respect. But could she succeed?

The Al Bhed also wanted to change the world. So had the Crusaders...they had proven that with their blood during Operation Mi'ihen. But they had failed. Certainly not all of those men and women involved had been jackasses. In fact, in his estimation, it had been the maesters of Yevon who were best labeled 'jackasses'.

Only a jackass can change the world.

What of Tidus? What did he think? What were his qualities? Auron knew he would want to change the world if he knew enough about it. At this point, he lacked even the fundamental knowledge that all other guardians had, and they in turn lacked the knowledge Auron had. Even Yuna was ignorant of much of what he knew. There was also the matter of Tidus' existence, another thing of which he was ignorant. Auron knew of it, though. He had known the instant he entered Jecht's Zanarkand...he had felt it in his pyrefly body that he was in a place that was formed of nothing but pyreflies. He could even sense the fayth who dreamed of Zanarkand, using something like the same sixth sense that allowed him to communicate with Jecht despite the other being both an aeon and Sin. In that instant it had clicked—the giant fayth at Mount Gagazet and the summoning suddenly made sense. If they defeated Sin for good, destroyed Yu Yevon, Zanarkand would end, as would Jecht and Tidus. Would that matter? Auron didn't think it would, if Tidus learned of it, which Auron felt he should before the end. Tidus loved Yuna, and he was Jecht's son. He very likely would lay down his life for her as Jecht had for Braska.

Tidus also had many of the qualities that Auron understood were those of a 'jackass'. And he knew quite well that once Tidus learned of the fate of the summoners, his estimations on whether Auron qualified for the title would skyrocket, simply because he hadn't told him. As it was, Tidus probably already considered him qualified, despite the respect and trust Auron knew he had from the younger man.

Auron dipped his head, removing his glasses and covering both eye sockets with a hand. Maybe Tidus had what it took to change the world. But if he did, it was not because he was sometimes a jackass.

Jecht was an unqualified jackass, and he wanted to change the world as well. But that was not why he would succeed, if he did.

Rikku, Tidus, and Jecht...they all wanted to end the reign of Sin by ways other than what tradition demanded. Auron wanted that as well. They wanted it badly. Wakka, Lulu, Kimahri, and even Yuna, however, did not. That didn't mean they wouldn't try another method, but they had set out for the traditional route, and that would be the one they took...

...If the rest failed in their purposes.

Perhaps Yuna would change her mind when she learned about the Final Aeon. Auron hoped she would, actually. It was a burden most difficult to bear, guarding and guiding the daughter of Braska to the fate of Braska.

"And what does any of this have to do with being a jackass?" Auron asked himself. "Why did I say that?" He felt he was no nearer to an answer to that question than he had been when he first started asking. Then, unwillingly, as his thoughts found their way through the temple he had made of himself, he realized the answer.

It must have been nothing more or less than self-hatred, he thought. I said it because in my innermost thoughts I have sat in judgement upon my living self and found it sorely wanting. That conclusion is entirely unjustified.

The truth of the matter was...he had been young and inexperienced. Nothing more shameful or wrong than that—he had just been...young. And now he was not, although he was still, in his personal chamber of the fayth, an idealist. Auron grit his teeth at that. He hated that about himself; it was one of the reasons he had built such a formidable cloister, so that even he could ignore that aspect of his personality. Idealism made him act like a fool; it got him killed.

It also drove him to uphold his honor, to maintain his unlife for his duty...and it caused him to make a third attempt to change the world.

No... It is not 'only a jackass' who can change the world.

It was the young woman who wanted nothing more than to save her cousin's life.

It was the young man who, when he learned of it, would not bow away from non-existence to save the life of the woman he loved and to free from his chains the father he claimed to hate.

It was the man who gave his life to defeat the very thing he became when he had no reason to do so other than simple friendship.

It was the idealist who resisted his own death to rectify in the present the things he couldn't change in the past.

These were not the actions of 'jackasses'. They were, however, perhaps the only chance Spira had to be rid of Sin forever.

Rikku's love. Tidus' determination. Auron's idealism.

Jecht's sacrifice, without which none of the other three would ever have come together.

Auron stood, replacing his glasses. "Well, perhaps it does take at least one jackass to change the world," he said with a smile. He fancied he heard Jecht laughing.

The smile faded, and Auron's temple doors closed. It was past time to get back to finding Yuna and his fellow guardians. Sand crunched beneath his boots as he began walking.

The End

Author's note: Most of the dialogue up until the young Al Bhed says "Huh. Good call," is straight from FFX-2, but I think I did change a few actions. I left out the particular Al Bhed's name because the sphere doesn't show them introducing themselves, so I've got no reason to believe Auron knew his name. Anyone who has played FFX-2 for long will know who he is, but it's hardly of any importance.

Author's note 2006: I like this fic too much to leave it off my account here, so I altered the dialogue a bit--now it's not straight from FFX-2, but it conveys pretty much the same meaning. I paraphrased.