Author's note: Sorry that it has been so long since I have written. I had a crazy summer and this semester has kept me busy. Thought you might be happy to note that this is a very long chapter. I hope that you enjoy it and thank you for being patient. Sorry for any bad wording or awkwardness. I haven't been able to spend the amount of time I would like on editing this. Also I have a warning for anyone who hasn't finished the game. If you don't want it spoiled don't read this chapter. Massive spoiler towards the end of it. Also a warning to everyone: this chapter is emotionally draining if you are an immense Auron fan or an empath. It gets happier I promise. Please review and most of all enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Chapter 6: Hope

Throughout his life the same

He's battled constantly

This fight he cannot win

A tired man they see no longer cares

The old man then prepares

To die regretfully

That old man here is me

What I've felt

What I've known

Never shined through in what I've shown

Never be

Never see

Won't see what might have been

What I've felt

What I've known

Never shined through in what I've shown

Never free

Never me

So I dub thee unforgiven

--Metallica "The Unforgiven"

Auron slowly came to awareness. He didn't immediately open his eye. His head felt like it was stuffed with cotton and a numbness pervaded him. What was that stuff that they had him inhale? With that thought came the realization that he could breath without pain again. He opened his eye.

Auron was lying in a bed in the middle of a very simple room. In fact it reminded him of the monks' cells in Bevelle. Across the room from him was the door and Kimahri leaning against the wall. The cat-man had his head down. Why did the Ronso insist on helping him? He sighed and tried to sit up. Gasping in pain, he collapsed back against the bed. Kimahri's head snapped up and he met Auron's eye.

"Auron must rest. Kimahri get Rin. Don't move."

"Wait," Auron gasped, feebly lifting his hand.

Kimahri stopped in the doorway and faced the guardian.

"Thanks," Auron whispered, running his hand through his sweat-soaked hair.

Kimahri nodded and then left the room. Auron touched his hand to his chest. It came away with blood. He sighed in frustration. How was he going to keep his promise to Lord Braska and Jecht if he was stuck in a bed? Again he tried to sit up, this time ignoring the pain. Weakly he leaned back against the headboard.

"Sir Auron, you should be lying down," came the ever-polite voice of Rin from the doorway. Kimahri stood behind him with his arms crossed.

Auron sighed. "I can't stay here, Rin."

Rin stepped into the room and lowered his head. Auron had never seen the Al Bhed reveal his emotions before. The guardian braced himself for bad news.

"Sir Auron, it is highly likely that you will never leave this place," Rin said, meeting the guardian's eye. "You aren't likely to make it through the night, unless something is done."

Auron's eye narrowed. "What can be done?"

Rin shifted slightly under Auron's piercing gaze. "Well, I can bandage your wound and..." the Al Bhed sighed, "if you have the money I have plenty of elixirs and high potions that could prolong your life for a while."

Auron smiled yet another bitter smile. He realized that he had been doing that a lot lately. "I have money." The guardian painfully reached into another pouch concealed behind his sake jug and pulled out all his gil. "Here," he said, holding the money out to the Al Bhed.

Rin took the money hesitantly. He appeared uncomfortable about it, but business was business. "Hold on a moment please," he said, slipping out the door.

Auron glanced at the Ronso. He stood inside the door with his arms crossed.

"I'm not going to live no matter what he does, am I?" Auron asked, meeting Kimahri's yellow cat-eyes.

Kimahri lowered his head.

Auron closed his eye and sighed. What was he going to do?

"Sir Auron?"

Auron looked at the Al Bhed. Rin stood at the foot of the bed with a small bag of potions and a rolled up bandage. Walking over to stand beside Auron, he set the bag down and unrolled the bandage, instructing the former warrior monk to lean forward and take off his coat. Auron did as he was told, setting his red coat next to him. Rin tightly wrapped the bandage around the guardian's chest. He then pulled out an elixir.

"This might give you the strength to make it through the night, but I don't know how long it will last," the Al Bhed said, uncorking the bottle and pouring it over Auron's wound. The guardian closed his eye as some strength poured into him.

"Now, get some rest," Rin said, setting the bag of potions on a table next to the bed. "I will check on you throughout the night."

Auron nodded. Rin bowed, turned to Kimahri and gestured for him to follow him. Kimahri bowed his head and looked one final time at Auron. His expression said a lot. Auron closed his eye. He heard Kimahri and Rin leave the room, shutting the door behind them. Rin's going to tell Kimahri that I am not going to make it.

Auron opened his eye and gingerly stood. His legs wobbled beneath him and he quickly grabbed the headboard. He stood there for a while, letting his legs get accustomed to standing again, then he walked over to the door where he had seen his katana. Him and that sword had been a lot of places together. He was reaching out to touch the handle when something flashed inside his head. He was no longer in the room in the Calm Lands. He was in a large chamber in Zanarkand.

A hand brushed Auron's shoulder. He jumped and spun around. Standing beside him was Jecht. He felt himself swept up in time's great river.

"Braska still has to fight Sin, Auron," Jecht said, placing his hands on Braska's shoulders.

Auron lowered his head. He knew this was wrong, but what could he do? There was no convincing them.

Jecht walked over to stand near Auron. "Guard him well. Make sure he gets there," he said softly. "Well, lets go."

Braska and Jecht walked away. Auron turned to face them.

"Lord Braska! Jecht!" he said, flipping his hand sideways in his trademark gesture.

Jecht spun around. "What do you want now?" he snapped, throwing his hand to the side in an impatient gesture.

Braska still had his back turned to Auron. Auron briefly wondered if he was regretful for leaving behind such sorrow.

"Sin always comes back," Auron said, his voice full of pleading and sorrow. He had to stop them. "It comes back after the Calm every time!" Why couldn't they see? "The cycle will continue and your deaths will mean nothing!" the guardian cried passionately, clenching his fist.

Braska faced him and Auron knew that he had failed.

"But there's always a chance it won't come back this time." Braska's voice was full of hope. "It's worth trying," he said gently.

"I understand what you're saying, Auron," Jecht said, sounding like a patient father calming an unhappy child. "I'll find a way to break the cycle."

Auron met his eyes. He felt a flicker of hope. That hope entered his voice as he asked, "You have a plan?"

Braska faced the gruff blitz player. "Jecht?"

Jecht had a big grin on his face. "Trust me, I'll think of something," he said, laughing.

Auron watched in despair as his friend walked away to become the final fayth. Braska followed him, leaving Auron behind to ponder Jecht's words.

"No!" he screamed, slamming his fist into the wall.

The jarring pain brought Auron back to reality. He slid to his knees.

"Damn it," he snapped, punching the wall again. He lowered his head into his hands.

* * *

Rin led Kimahri over to the shop desk. The Ronso should know the truth. When they reached the desk Rin faced Kimahri. The cat-man stopped and crossed his arms. He wore his usual cold mask.

"Kimahri, Sir Auron isn't going to make it," Rin said softly.

Rin was shocked to see the Ronso lower his head.

"I'm sorry. No man can survive that wound. I'm surprised that he is still alive."

Kimahri met Rin's eyes. "Auron strong."

Rin smiled. "I'm sure he is. I don't know for sure how long he has."

A loud scream and a bang made them both jump. Kimahri turned and ran towards the room, Rin close behind. They both burst in to find Auron on his knees just inside the door. The guardian had his head in his hands. Auron didn't seem to notice them. The two walked further into the room. To Auron's left was a dent in the wall stained with fresh blood.

Rin backed away from the guardian. In the state he was in, the man could lash out at them with out even realizing it. Kimahri didn't seem to care. The Ronso put his hand on Auron's shoulder. The guardian tensed.

"What happened?" Kimahri asked softly.

Auron shivered. Rin had never seen him like this before. Something terrible must have happened. "You had a flashback didn't you?" the Al Bhed asked flatly.

Auron remained silent. Rin sighed. Well, at least one thing hadn't changed.

"What started it?" Rin pressed, looking around. His eyes came to rest on the giant katana leaning against the wall. "Was it your sword?" Suddenly a hand snatched his wrist.

"Let it go. Auron tell when want," Kimahri said, glaring at Rin.

"I understand, but I can't help him if he doesn't tell me," Rin said, rubbing his bruised wrist.

Auron stood and faced them. His face had grown paler if that were possible. Rin met his eye. There was no life in it. He knows he is going to die, Rin realized. Suddenly Auron pitched forward. Kimahri caught him and carried him over to the bed, laying him down on it. Rin walked over to examine his patient. The bandage around Auron's chest was soaked in blood. His left hand was bleeding too. Rin sighed. So stubborn. He faced the Ronso.

"Kimahri. Please get me some bandages from that cabinet," Rin said, pointing behind him.

Kimahri nodded and retrieved the items, bringing them back to Rin. The Al Bhed took them from him.

"Would you please assist me?" Rin asked, gesturing to Auron.

The Ronso nodded and walked over to the opposite side of the bed.

"I need you to hold him up for me," Rin said, unwinding one of the bandages.

Kimahri nodded again and slid his massive arms underneath of Auron, gently lifting him from the bed. Rin, then, unwrapped the used bandage from Auron's chest, discarding it in a trash basket near the bed. This done, he bandaged the wound with the fresh bandage. Kimahri carefully set Auron back down on the bed. The guardian didn't even stir.

Rin met Kimahri's eyes and in that look alone he shared all his doubts. "I will check on him periodically. Please get some rest," he said softly, leaving the room.

* * *

Silence blanketed the room. It was a comfort to the Ronso standing guard over the former warrior-monk. The silence didn't judge, didn't require answers. It was an understanding companion. The only thing that broke the silence was Auron's labored breathing.

Kimahri couldn't help feeling sorry for the guardian. With all that he had suffered and as far as he had gotten he was to die in a bed, not in a glorious battle. There was little honour in that. What Kimahri didn't know was that the only part of Auron that was really alive was his body. The guardian's spirit had died with his summoner in an honourable battle to save a life.

Kimahri sighed and pulled up a chair next to the bed. It was going to be a long night and he wasn't going to spend it sleeping despite what Rin said.

* * *

Auron stood in a large chamber near a set of stairs. The room was all too familiar, as were the people standing on the stairs.

Not again. How many times must I relive this?

"I understand what you're saying, Auron," Jecht was saying. "I'll find a way to break the cycle."

Auron felt himself swept up in the stream of time. "You have a plan?" he asked, his voice filled with the same hope it had been on that fateful day.

Braska turned to the blitzer. "Jecht?"

Jecht grinned. "Trust me, I'll think of something." Again he laughed, but this time his body dissolved into pyreflies.

"No!!!!!" tore from Auron's throat.

* * *

Sin towered over him and Braska. Auron shoved his summoner back, holding his sword in front of him. He nearly dropped it when he heard soft words of prayer slip from Braska's lips. He was calling the final aeon. He was calling Jecht.

"No! Lord Braska. It will kill you," Auron pleaded.

The summoner just met his eyes with a peaceful look. He had accepted his fate long ago. Auron sighed and backed away, getting out of the way of the enormous aeon that was about to suck away all of Braska's strength.

A circle of energy dotted with all the glyphs that they had seen in the temples appeared above their heads. Slowly the circle descended towards the ground. As it lowered more and more of the aeon was revealed, starting with the head.

Auron gasped when it was fully revealed. A lot of his former friend could be seen in the beast that towered above them. Auron was also shocked to see that Braska was fine.

So that was another falsehood.

The new aeon attacked Sin. It's huge clawed hands tore at the creature that was the symbol of Spira's suffering. Suddenly Auron felt the hairs on his arms stand on end and an exorbitant amount of energy stirring in the air.

"Look out!!" he shouted, tackling Braska to the ground. A large blast of energy shot out from Sin. The blast headed straight at Jecht. Auron held his breath. The aeon lifted its clawed hands and blocked the shot, the impact knocking Jecht back many feet.

When the blast had ended Jecht gave a great cry. His immense body started to glow. He slipped his hand to his chest and pulled out a large sword. It looked a lot like the one he had used in life. The guardian and summoner watched in awe as Jecht lifted the sword and brought it down in a mighty arc. The immense blade bit deep into Sin, eliciting an ear-piercing scream from the beast. Auron would never forget the sound. But Sin wasn't done yet. The creature readied another of its powerful blasts. Jecht wasn't about to let that happen, though. He again raised his mighty blade and swung it down on his enemy. This time the blade did its work and Sin burst into pyreflies.

Auron stared in awe as he saw a strange glowing apparition escape from the dissolving body of Sin. It hovered above Sin for a while and then started to fly straight at Jecht. Auron watched in horror as he saw the strange thing enter his friend's mutated body.

Yu Yevon: the cause of Sin's resurrection.

Auron turned to Braska to see if he realized what was happening. The summoner's face was lit up in awe and shock. Auron had a feeling Braska understood better than he did. Then it occurred to him. The summoning of the Final Aeon wasn't what killed the summoner. The Final Aeon itself did.

"Lord Braska, get out of here. He will kill you," Auron cried, moving to stand between his summoner and Jecht.

Braska gripped Auron's shoulders. "You have two promises to keep. I have to die. It will pacify Sin long enough to bring the next Calm." The look of peace on Braska's face dashed all of Auron's hopes of saving his summoner. Braska accepted his fate. But Auron wasn't about to. Behind him he heard Jecht scream as the strange apparition entered his immense body.

"Please my lord, if you live than we can find a way to beat Sin, permanently. We know more than anyone ever has," Auron pleaded, clenching his fist in frustration.

Braska smiled gently at Auron. "You have the knowledge. That is all Spira needs. You must survive to tell others. I will give you the time to get the help you need. I will bring the next Calm with my sacrifice. Please Auron, let this be my final act for Spira."

Auron lowered his head in defeat and sensed more than saw Braska slip around him.

"Come Jecht, lets end this for now," he called out.

Auron spun around. Jecht's huge clawed hands clenched as a snarling sound tore from his throat. He was fighting this fate just as much as Auron had.

Braska lifted his hands. "Please Jecht, end this quickly. You can't fight a god."

A pain-filled scream pierced the air and before Auron could blink Braska was in one of Jecht's large hands.

Not fully knowing what he was doing, but acting out of instinct, Auron ran at the aeon, his enormous katana on his shoulder. "No!!!" was his battle cry as he leapt into the air, sword point towards Jecht to bring it down on the aeon. Before it touched him, Jecht lifted an immense hand and swept Auron away as if he was an annoying insect. Auron hit the ground hard, the wind knocked out of him. All he could do was watch as Jecht closed his hand tighter around Braska. Auron heard ribs pop and the summoner grunt in pain.

"Lord Braska!!!" the guardian called out, lifting his hand towards his summoner.

The aeon squeezed harder. The sound of ribs snapping grew louder and Braska's gasp turned into a scream that pierced Auron's heart. He tried to stand, but Jecht knocked him back down again.

"Jecht! Stop it! Please!" Auron cried, gripping his sword yet knowing that it wouldn't do him any good.

Jecht glanced at him momentarily. His ghost white eyes appeared to be filled with sorrow. Then, he loosened his grip on Braska, but only to turn his large claws towards the summoner.

"No!!!!" Auron screamed, leaping to his feet and charging at the aeon.

Before the guardian could reach Jecht, the aeon's sharp talons pierced Braska's body. A short scream was the last thing that was heard from the summoner as his lifeless body fell to the ground.

"No!!" Auron sat straight up in bed, bathed in sweat.

He was in a dark room. Kimahri was sitting in a chair nearby. He was staring at Auron now. The guardian lowered his head into his shaking hands. The Ronso remained silent. Auron was grateful for it.

"Get some sleep," Auron said softly. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"You too," Kimahri said.

"Hmph," Auron snorted. He was beginning to feel the pain in his chest steal over him. He looked down at the bandage. Slowly blood was seeping through it. Auron looked up to see Kimahri staring at the bandage.

"Kimahri get Rin," the Ronso said, standing.

Auron nodded dully. He was still shaking slightly, but a cloud of numbness was slowly washing over him. He heard Kimahri quietly leave the room.

Will these memories never cease to haunt me?

"Sir Auron, are you ok?" a voice came from the doorway.

Auron looked up to see Rin and Kimahri standing just inside the room. Am I ok? There's a loaded question, he thought bitterly. "I'm ok," he said softly, meeting Rin's eyes.

The Al Bhed's eyes narrowed, but he nodded. "Kimahri said your wound has opened again. May I ask what happened?" Rin asked, ever polite.

Auron wasn't in the mood for it. "No, you may not," he growled, leaning back against the headboard.

Rin lifted his hands in surrender. "Very well," he said, turning and walking over to the cabinet in the back of the room. From there he pulled out a bandage and returned to stand next to Auron. "Sir Auron, please lean forward," he instructed.

Auron silently obeyed. He felt like an automaton: nothing seemed to have an affect on him. He was only vaguely aware of Rin wrapping a clean bandage around his chest.

Why did Braska have to die? Auron couldn't shake the thought that he should have been the one to sacrifice his life, not his lord. Braska had a way with people that his guardian never would have. He would have been better suited for the task ahead. Auron squeezed his eye shut angrily. Lord Braska had already given so much. He deserved the rest that his sacrifice gave him. Now it was Auron's turn to shoulder the burden of Spira's spiral of death.

"Sir Auron?" Rin's voice brought him back from his dark reverie. He looked up at the Al Bhed.

Rin was standing a short distance from the bed. He held the remnants of the clean bandage he had used in his hands. "You should try to go back to sleep," he said softly, almost sympathetically.

Auron nodded and leaned back against the headboard. Rin turned to Kimahri. "That goes for you too, sir. You will do him no good if you pass out from exhaustion on the road." Kimahri glared at him. Auron covered his mouth with his hand to hide the smile that crept across his lips.

With that said, Rin left the room. Kimahri met Auron's eye.

"I know," Auron snapped, the smile returning. "Just promise me that you will do the same."

Kimahri nodded and sat back down in the chair. Auron glanced at him for a second and then slid down under the covers. With one final look at Kimahri, Auron closed his eye and drifted off to sleep.

* * *

Kimahri watched Auron slowly nod off. The Ronso fought his body's need to rest. Auron was very likely not to make it through the night and Kimahri wasn't about to have the guardian die alone.

The Ronso studied Auron's face, trying to keep his weary eyes from wanting to shut. The deep lines of pain and sorrow that usually covered the guardian's face were no longer there. They were smoothed over by a look of peace that Kimahri had never seen on the man while he was awake.

Whether it was that look of peace or that the Ronso was too weak to fight his exhaustion any longer, Kimahri slowly slipped into unconsciousness.

* * *

He stood in a strange room, surrounded by many young people. To his right was a young woman holding a staff. She was performing a strange dance. He wasn't certain, but it looked like the dance of the sending. She turned to face them and then gasped. She stood staring at someone to his left. Kimahri turned to look. A man in a red coat, that looked vaguely familiar, stood there calmly as pyreflies escaped him. Kimahri felt his eyes widen.

"Don't stop," the man said softly yet firmly.

Kimahri looked close at his face, trying to figure out why he looked familiar. All he could be certain of was the look in the man's eyes. He looked a combination of tired and melancholy, almost like he didn't want to leave these youths behind. But what Kimahri noticed the most was the far off look in his eyes. It was like the man was already seeing the Farplane.

The young woman said something in protest, but the man cut her off.

He lowered his head for a moment. "It's all right," he said soothingly.

Kimahri watched as the man stepped up to him and gave him a friendly hit on the chest. The Ronso narrowed his eyes. He knows me.

The man continued on. He stopped next to a young man with unruly blond hair. The man didn't look at him, just stared ahead.

"It's been...long enough," he said to the boy, his voice heavy with weariness.

The man then moved on, heading towards the young woman, more and more pyreflies, escaping his body. He moved past the woman, lowering his sword off his shoulder and holding it before him. He glanced back at them and Kimahri noticed a small smile on his face. He shouldered his sword again.

"This is your world now," he spoke in a firm, strong voice.

With that said the man disappeared in a cloud of pyreflies.

Kimahri slowly opened his eyes.

Auron.

The small thread of thought disappeared with the dream. He briefly wondered what time it was. It was hard to tell in the small room. There were no windows. His curiosity over the time quickly changed to alarm when he noticed that the bed that should have held Auron was now empty.

************

Author's note again: I hope you enjoyed this. I realize that a lot of people believe that the final aeon kills the summoner by sucking their life out when they summon it, but I don't believe that. The reason is that Yu Yevon possesses the final aeon and that is how Sin is reborn. The possessed aeon then turns on the summoner and kills him. Jecht didn't kill Auron because he still had some control over himself at the time and knew that Braska had to die to bring the Calm. If you can't accept this, then just look at it as poetic license to develop Auron psychologically. I am not meaning to be offensive to anyone who believes the other way around. I think both are possible. I just picked this way to develop Auron better. I hope I didn't scare anyone away or offended anyone. Again thanks for reading.