The Sex Talk
As he got older, Tidus got the impression that something about him was off. He finally brought up the subject with the one person he felt wouldn't run away screaming.
Auron's eye left the hook he was baiting and looked at Tidus. "Yes?"
"Is something wrong when a guy my age isn't, um, really interested in girls?"
Something flitted across the swordsman's face and he turned back to the task at hand. "No. Some boys don't become interested in girls until they're older than you. Other boys and men desire those of their own gender. A few just never have a big fascination with sex in general."
Tidus bit his lip. It didn't sound like Auron was disgusted by any of those options... "What kind are you?" he blurted without thinking. The man leveled him a look, and Tidus wondered whether he really wanted to know the answer or whether he would just prefer not having any 'Auron+sex' connections in his mind.
But it was too late. "I've been all three."
Tidus felt his eyes go wide. "Um. Okay. No elaboration necessary, thank you."
"I was not going to offer any," Auron replied. Tidus was certain that he picked up a hint of amusement in the man's tone.
The two men sat on the pier in silence, watching their fishing lines make ripples in the water, moving with the flow. Eventually, Tidus broke the quiet.
"I think I like guys."
Auron raised an eyebrow at him but didn't respond.
"...Well?" Tidus demanded.
Tidus gaped. "You... I... Wha..." He closed his mouth and attempted to string together a full sentence before speaking. "What do you have to say about that?"
"I didn't know I was supposed to say something."
"Of course you are!" The teenager burst out. "You're supposed to say 'it's just a phase' or 'you'll grow out of it' or 'that's okay, I still accept you' or even call me a stupid fag!"
Something that sounded suspiciously like a chuckle rumbled in Auron's chest.
Tidus scowled. "You don't take me seriously, do you?" He resolutely turned his back on Auron and glared at the water.
"You seem okay with the concept," Auron said after a long time.
Tidus huffed peevishly. "Yeah. So what?"
"If you were having an existential crisis about the idea, I would've said something along the lines of your first three suggestions. Since you are more or less calm about it, I figured it wouldn't matter if I didn't coddle or lie to you."
"What if I'm not gay and only think I am?" Tidus demanded. "Shouldn't you be trying to talk me out of it?"
Auron shook his head. "Everyone needs to figure out that sort of thing for themselves; nothing anybody can say makes much of a difference on the reality of the situation. And I don't care who you end up fucking," he added as an afterthought.
Tidus stared at him. Every once in a while he was reminded just of how different Auron was from everyone else he'd ever met.
Auron caught his eye. "Do you need any advice?"
"...No," Tidus admitted. He had already figured that this was something he had to deal with on his own. And he really didn't want to turn to Auron for instructions on the practical aspects of sexuality.
"Do you want me to impart the wisdom on the topic that I've gathered over my many years?"
"No!" Tidus answered emphatically. He would rather go deaf than have to listen to any of Auron's war stories of his sex life! And mentally blind, so he couldn't imagine... anything.
Auron found the teenager's reply amusing rather than insulting. "Well, there you go. I have nothing to say."
Tidus gnawed his lower lip. "But..." he trailed off in embarrassment.
"You could, you know, tell me..." Tidus ducked his head and tried to hide his blush. He knew Auron wasn't comfortable with feelings, and he felt like a girl whenever he wanted his guardian to say something kind to him. It hadn't bothered him when he was younger; in fact, it had been easy to demand, 'You like me, don't you, Auron?' Now that he was older, he couldn't say things like that. Tidus had to try to set things up so that Auron would be forced to give him acknowledgment.
Auron very rarely said something that made Tidus feel warm inside. Of course, the man never cut him down, either.
The teen waited for a while before giving up his hope of a response. It helped that his line got a bite; reeling in the fish distracted him from his disappointment. It was only when Tidus was re-baiting his line when Auron spoke.
"Does it really matter how I think of you?" Auron asked, genuine curiosity in his voice.
"Yes," Tidus admitted. Then, defensively, added, "Parents are supposed to say things like 'I don't care if you're different, I'll always love you' and 'Whatever you end up doing, I'll be proud of you' and all that sappy kind of stuff."
"I'm not your parent," Auron reminded him.
"Yeah, thanks, I forgot," Tidus replied sarcastically. "But you're the only person I've got." He kept his eyes focused dejectedly at the water.
Auron pulled in another catch- his fourth as opposed to Tidus' two. Deciding that six was enough to feed the both of them for lunch and dinner, he stood and picked up the bucket. "Enough," he told Tidus quietly. The boy ignored him. Auron went several steps up the dock before casually calling back over his shoulder, "Whatever you do decide about yourself, I will still like you and be proud of you. You're a good kid." Feeling vulnerable after that admission and not ready to face Tidus with those words hanging between them, Auron resumed walking away at a faster speed.
Back at the end of the pier Tidus smiled at the horizon.