Hold my hand inside your hands.
I need someone who understands.
--"Til Kingdom Come"
The thrum of the engine could be felt in the wall as Auron leaned his head back to stare at the ceiling of the airship. He was in his usual spot--the corridor outside the bridge. If anyone needed him they simply had to take a few steps to the door. Tidus had passed by him countless times. The boy was becoming more and more restless the closer they got to Bevelle.
They would learn the truth once they arrived in the holy city. They would reach the final chapter in both his and Tidus's stories. In a sense, Auron was relieved. It had been a long journey and he was finding it harder and harder to ignore the Farplane's call. But there was regret mixed in the relief. It was a shame that they couldn't find someway to save Tidus as well. It was a shame that in the end Yuna would lose the one she loves. It was a shame that this was their only choice. It was just like every other choice he ever had to make--one life over another. It seemed to be the way of Spira.
Auron sighed. Why did so much of his life consist of regret?
Suddenly the door beside him slid open. "We could have been in Bevelle ages ago!" snapped a short, blond haired girl over her shoulder as she stormed into the corridor.
"Gimme a break!" snapped a harsh male voice. "We're still learning how to work this thing!"
Rikku didn't reply. She just whipped around to storm away. Auron raised an eyebrow as her green eyes met his. She gave him a sheepish grin, as if apologizing for her father's actions more than her shouting match with him, and walked away.
Auron shook his head, smiling to himself. At least some things didn't change. He frowned as a thought crossed his mind. Where had he seen a smile like that before? A subtle touch of irritation crept over him. He looked down the corridor Rikku had just flounced out of. Did she remind him of someone from his past?
Closing his eyes, Auron pictured the smile the Al Bhed girl had just given him, vaguely recalling a young girl from his past giving him a very similar smile. A stream of memories washed over him.
"Braska's daughter. . .Besaid. Braska's wish," he gasped, clutching the arm of the young Ronso pleadingly, part of his mind registering how low he had sunk since attacking Yunalesca. The pain in his chest was unbearable. He was seeing everything through a bloody haze. Each breath was a struggle.
The Ronso looked down at him with pity. They had met in the Calm Lands briefly, exchanging names and then parting. From that exchange the two had gained respect for one another.
Auron wondered how much respect the Ronso had for him now. He could see that Kimahri understood he was speaking to a dying man. The Ronso gripped his arm in return, nodding slowly. "Take daughter of Lord Braska to Besaid?" he inquired, meeting Auron's eye steadily.
The ex-monk nodded his head weakly. The pain was receding now, his vision going. "Yes," he gasped. It was the last breath he took. He felt his hand slip from Kimahri's arm and hit the ground. His eye slid closed as the pain slipped away until there was none left; nothing left, just blackness. Then, drifting up in front of Auron's closed eyes was a single pyrefly, followed by another and then another.
It would be so easy to just slip away; go to the Farplane and be with Braska. So easy. A cloud of pyreflies was now hovering before his eyes. No! He couldn't allow this. He had a promise to keep. Jecht was counting on him. The cloud started to descend; the number of pyreflies in his vision lessening. As this happened, his vision slowly came back, but it wasn't the same as before. It was hazy as if he were looking through an early morning fog. He must not have been completely back yet.
Did he really want to become an unsent? Did he really realize what that meant? It would go against everything he had been taught. Anger welled up in him. But everything he had been taught had been wrong. Everything!
"Daddy! Are we there yet?" a perky, sweet voice tore into his dark musings. So, his hearing had returned to him as well.
If he'd had eyes, he would have tried to find the source of the voice, but it seemed that the only view he was going to get was the one he had now. At the thought of this a cluster of pyreflies ascended again before his eyes. No! He needed to focus on this world, not the next.
"We're almost there," a gruff voice replied and then a well-built, bald man stepped into Auron's line of vision soon followed by a tiny blond girl.
The girl clung to her dad's hand as he took great strides towards the city of Bevelle. He was the first to spot Auron. As the man's eyes fell on what Auron assumed to be his fallen form, he stopped. The already stern look on the man's face changed to one of disgust and he quickly moved on.
A cynical part of Auron's mind acknowledged the irony that the bald man must have felt upon seeing a fallen warrior monk just outside the holy city. The man must have realized the battle that Auron was now fighting-- a battle Auron still wasn't sure was right. He was finding it increasingly hard to ignore the desire his body had to either come apart and drift to the Farplane or to transform into a fiend and tear this scornful man to shreds. No! He mustn't become a fiend. He would kill the girl and her father if he became a fiend.
A tiny hand slipped into his. He thought it odd that he could feel it.
A young blond head popped into his line of vision. She had to be only inches from his face. Her messy hair framed a thin visage and the green eyes and spiral pupils of an Al Bhed. "Are you okay, Mister?" she asked, her innocent voice calming him some.
Auron didn't reply. He couldn't reply. His voice was paralyzed just like the rest of him. Just like he had been when Jecht walked through that door to become the final summoning. He was about as useful now as he was then.
Auron jerked his thoughts away from his self-pity. It was bad enough that he had fouled things up. He didn't need to add to his degradation.
The father was talking. ". . .away from there. That man's dead," he said, contempt evident in his voice.
Rage filled Auron--the kind of rage he would have never felt while he was alive. Damn Spira and all on it! This system took away the only people he ever cared about. Those two sacrificed their lives for this? For a man who could look at another with such disgust and no sympathy? They died for a system that could create such a man? Damn them all!
A red haze descended over Auron's vision. He could no longer see the girl. All he could feel was rage and hatred. His paralysis suddenly transformed into something much worse--a tension. It was as if his body was no longer meant to be the shape it was. Something inside of him was fighting to get out--fighting to free itself from humanity. His canines no longer fit inside his mouth. His muscles weren't formed properly. They needed to be smaller, more compact. Fingers were too long, nails too short. The tension kept building. Building until he felt like he would burst or more likely snap at the all too willing victim sitting right next to him. He could smell her. Innocent, not yet corrupted by the system that had corrupted her father. If he ended her right now, she would be freed from that torture. If he just. . .
A tiny hand squeezed his. "He's not dead, Daddy. He's just sleeping," a young sweet voice broke through his agony, calming him. He could feel the tension slip away. "Look. He's breathing," the girl added.
"I'm telling you, he's dead!" the man snapped back, an urgency in his voice that suggested he feared for his daughter.
The blond head popped back into his view. Her small palm touched his cheek. "I know you're not dead."
It was almost like someone had pulled him from a frozen lake. Everything came back in beautiful clarity. He didn't feel the need to struggle any longer. He didn't feel the base urges to tear these people apart. Gently, he squeezed the girls hand back.
A huge grin crossed her face quickly turning into a sheepish one as her father snapped, "Rikku! Get your butt over here! Your cousin is waiting for us!"
Auron pushed himself away from the wall, frowning. Some things really didn't change. He walked down the corridor, passing through the door the blond girl had slipped through not too long ago. He knew where to find her--the same place he had when she went off the cry after Home's destruction. That time he had left her alone, feeling his presence wouldn't be wanted. This time he slipped through the door into a small compartment.
Rikku was standing at a huge window with her arms crossed looking like she was still angry at her father. Her head turned as he entered the room; the shock on her face almost made him smile.
He crossed the room to where she stood, placing his hands on her shoulders. "I owe you my gratitude," he said enigmatically. He gently kissed her forehead. "Thank you."
Smiling to himself, Auron walked away, enjoying the absolutely shocked expression on the young girl's face.