The day he left, I asked him why. His response was "it is my duty."
I told him "that's not good enough."
He said "I'm going to be strong for you, Vaan."
That's when I should have opened my mouth and said "don't. Don't do that. I can be strong for me. Don't treat me like a child."
But I said nothing. He wouldn't have listened and I could think of nothing better to say as a farewell.
I watched him walk away, head held high, broad shoulders glinting under the metal, hoping that one day my words would be true.
The day I heard of his death, I sat on his bed and stared at the picture on his table. It was of the two of us, but the sun obliterated all but him.
I asked him why.
His response was "I did it for you. I did it for our mother and father. I did it for Penelo's brothers."
I picked the frame up and threw it against the opposite wall. Screams tore at my throat and my fingers tore at the bed and I cursed at him because his intentions were noble. Because he was strong and brave and loyal.
And I was a child who could never hold a candle to a brother I would never see again.
The day I visited his grave I stood over the sepulcher and stared down at his name carved in stone and I asked him why.
His response was "I made a sacrifice."
I laid the lilies on the dirt and stayed quiet, feigning understanding and hoping that my falsified wisdom would make up for my stubborn inability to learn.
The day I first killed a man, I stared at the blood on my hands and I asked him why.
His response was "so you would know peace."
I laughed at him coldly and unsheathed my sword. My reflection was distorted in the blade and I wanted to run it through my middle and end this cruel inquiry.
A moment later I buried the weapon beside the body and walked away living. Neither death would be in vain.
The day I turned fifty I returned to our house and walked the crumbled halls until I was back at his room. I sat in the chair that overlooked the street outside the window now devoid of glass and asked him why.
His response was "so you could grow old."
I smiled and said "but I would have given all this for a short while longer with you," and I meant it.
I cried that day. I sat, old and alone on his bed, in the quiet peacefulness of the afternoon and cried because I finally understood my older brother.
And I still couldn't catch up.