Summary: One-shot. Two unlikely characters contemplate the nature of being a parent.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Final Fantasy series or any of its characters.
This is my first attempt at an FF: Dissidia fanfic and my first time writing either of these characters, so I'd appreciate it greatly if you read and review. Thanks and enjoy.
The wind blew across the plain, persistent and powerful. It stung Cecil's face, though overall he found it a help rather than a hindrance. The incessant gusts acted as a constant reminder to his tired body of the need to stay awake, alert, on his toes. His quest for his crystal had already been a long and difficult one and he had faced many enemies. Cecil was on the verge of exhaustion but knew he had to take advantage of these last few hours of sunlight before the dark of night would render his search impossible.
Another blast of air, and Cecil became aware that something else was nearby. He spun round on the spot, keen eyes scanning his surroundings. The tall pillars of marble that littered this area provided ample cover for potential enemies and inwardly he cursed himself for being so careless. Loath as he was to admit it, Cecil knew he wouldn't be able to stand against any of Chaos' stronger allies in his current condition. As though to remind him of his own weakness, his left knee began to throb painfully once more, the ache a souvenir from an encounter with a particularly nasty Garland mannequin earlier that day.
"Show yourself!" he cried out, hoping whoever was watching him had not noticed the slight limp with which he currently walked. "I warn you – I command the powers of both light and dark. I am more powerful than you can—"
"Yeah, yeah. I've heard that one before," replied a gruff voice and Cecil turned to see Jecht emerge from behind one of the pillars, sword strapped to his back, and lean against it with his arms folded across his chest. "You hero types are all the same. Look at me, I'm so powerful, fear me all you lesser beings."
Cecil swallowed, his hand inching towards his own weapon. "Sounds to me more like something a villain would say."
The frank stare with which Jecht responded was enough to make Cecil reconsider his conviction that the older man was among one of Chaos' less competent allies. "Ain't you been here long enough to work out that they're pretty much the same thing?"
"Though you are father to my friend," Cecil said, drawing his sword with a flourish. "I will fight you if I must!"
Jecht seemed almost amused as he hoisted his own blade in front of him. "Is that so? Well then…" He paused, then it seemed to Cecil that the older man almost deflated before his eyes, becoming smaller and more tired somehow. Shaking his head, Jecht planted his sword firmly in the earth before slumping down on the hard ground, back against the pillar. "Look, I didn't come here for a fight. If I wanted one, I could have just stayed with Chaos' crew. I swear some of these morons spend more time fighting each other than trying to take down the so-called enemy."
Warily, Cecil lowered his sword but kept it firmly in his grasp. Much as he wanted what Jecht said to be the truth, it could easily be part of some trap to get him to let his guard down. Still, he took a few cautious steps closer. "Then why are you here?"
"To get some peace and quiet, mostly." Reaching into one his deep trouser pocket, Jecht pulled out two bottles of beer. "And to work my way through these bad boys. Want one?"
When Cecil simply stared at the proffered bottle, Jecht sighed heavily. "Look, I'm not a particularly generous man by nature, so let me give you some advice: take the damn beer."
"But the crystal—"
"Can wait a couple of hours. Hell, most of your guys are still running round in circles trying to figure out which way is left so I wouldn't worry about being last if I were you."
"That's not really the point," said Cecil but still he relented, taking the bottle and joining him on the ground. The earth beneath him was firm but not uncomfortable, and he settled back against the pillar opposite Jecht. With a nod of approval, Jecht popped his own bottle open and took a deep drink. Cecil followed suit.
"You know," Cecil spoke after a few minutes of not entirely uncomfortable silence. "I'm a father too."
Jecht, whose eyes had been fixed firmly on the drink in his hand, looked up. "Yeah? How's that working out for ya?"
"It's wonderful," Cecil told him truthfully, then looked away, a sad expression clouding his face. "And terrifying. He's still young, just a little boy, really, but I worry about… well, everything. If he'll be alright, if he's happy, if he's healthy. But most of all I suppose I'm afraid that he'll start to notice that his father has to go away a lot and one day I may not even come back, and that he'll resent me for it."
Cecil fell silent, unsure why he'd even felt the need to share that. He'd never shared his insecurities about being a father with anyone before, not even his wife, yet somehow, sat here with this strange person in this strange place, it had felt like the most natural thing in the world. For his part, Jecht was quiet for a long time, so long that Cecil grew concerned that he'd somehow offended his companion but eventually he stirred, taking another long drink from his bottle.
"He probably will," Jecht told him quietly and his words held such weight and sincerity within them that Cecil knew it to be the truth. "You just gotta hope that one day he realises what's true of most father's: everything you did – even the meaningless stuff, even the bad stuff – it was all for him. See, this is the funny thing about having kids. You think they won't change you and when they show up for a while you think that you were right. Then, slowly but surely, this tiny little creature creeps up on you and ends up stealing your heart."
A smile tugged at Cecil's lips and he tilted his head to one side. "That's... actually very sweet. Or kind of disturbing if taken literally."
Jecht snorted. "Heh. I'll drink to that."
Pushing his hair back from his face, Cecil took another look at the man sitting opposite him. The scars that lacerated much of his face and body seemed far more stark and vivid in the dying light of the day, especially this close up. His clothes appeared more tattered than Cecil had remembered, and he wondered whether that was a result of Jecht's time here in this world or whether he'd just not been paying close enough attention when he'd encountered him in the past. Even despite the dark matted hair being so different to Tidus' dirty blond look, it was easy to see the similarities between father and son. The same tanned skin, the same laid back style of sitting, even the same smile, though Tidus' had a certain lighter quality to it that Jecht's weathered face was lacking. Idly, Cecil wondered whether one day he and his own son would look anything alike.
"You should quit worrying about your kid," Jecht grunted, pulling Cecil out of his revere. "He'll turn out just fine. Good blood."
"Don't mention it." Jecht cleared his throat a little, as if unsure whether or not he should continue. "Your brother, Golbez… He's a pretty good guy, underneath it all."
Cecil thought about his brother, how he had appeared to him not so long ago and actually offered assistance in his journey to finding the crystal, and he nodded. "I know. So is your son Tidus."
Clearly uncomfortable, Jecht shuffled and half-shrugged, as if trying to shake the compliment off. "Yeah, I guess he is."
"You're very hard on him," continued Cecil softly. His tone was in no way accusing but simply matter-of-fact.
"It's only 'cos I care. The harder I am on him the more likely it is he'll realise that people in this world – hell, in all worlds – just ain't no good and he's better off not trusting anybody."
"So, you're mean to him to show him that people are mean?" summarised Cecil slowly, trying to work through the logic of that argument in his mind. He leaned back and laughed quietly to himself, holding up his bottle of beer. "You know, I think I may have had too much of this stuff because that almost made sense to me."
Jecht grunted before adding, almost as an afterthought, "Plus his stupid hair really pisses me off. And that happy-go-lucky stuff he keeps up 24/7. I have no idea where he got that crap from."
Inclining his head a little, Cecil smiled. "He's certainly full of energy."
"Full of stupid more like," growled Jecht. He rolled his eyes expressively, rolling his bottle between his hands in an agitated manner. "Stupid as a kid who on the day they were handing out brains slept in instead then went and bought his stupid at a two-for-one sale."
Chuckling despite himself, Cecil felt compelled to document this historic moment, when two enemies were able to sit side by side, united by what made them alike rather than separated by their differences. He raised his beer bottle upwards in a toast. "To absent fathers!"
With a wry half smile, Jecht lifted his own. "And their resentful kids!"
The two men clanked their bottles together then drained what was left of their contents. By this point the sun had almost finished its descent and the plains were dipped in a cloak of semi-darkness. The wind had started up again, becoming more and more forceful with each gust. As though by some unseen signal, both men rose from their positions on the ground. Jecht rolled his shoulders back, tilting his head from side to side to remove the cramps in his muscles. Cecil patted himself down, mentally inventorying all of his belongings. He handed the now empty bottle back to Jecht with a word of thanks, who vanished it and his own in the deceptively deep pockets of his shorts.
"Well, I suppose I'd better…"
"Yeah. That crystal ain't gonna find itself," finished Jecht, smirking ever so slightly. He stuck out one rough, calloused hand. "Good luck."
Cecil grasped it firmly with his own and they shook hands. "And you."
And with that, the fathers walked away from one another and back to their opposing sides in a war that would never truly end. Though neither knew it, they were both silently hoping the same three things: that they would live long enough to return home one day, that the other would do likewise, and that their sons would one day understand why they'd had to leave in the first place.