There hadn't been time for homesickness before now. The first few weeks
he had wandered confused and angry and the next few he had spent good
and stinking drunk on the theory that things might make more sense if he
weren't sober. And then Braska and Auron had come and given him a path,
however warped, for him to follow and in the respite that had brought he
had time to reflect and become lonely.

Braska had brought his two Guardians back to his home which wasn't
helping Jecht much either. Braska's house was beautiful, round and
strangely open to the air as if forming its own courtyard. It wasn't much
like Jecht's Zanarkand penthouse apartment, but the simple concept of a
home to go to and a family waiting there was enough to remind him of
what he was missing.

And might never see again. Man, was that a kick to the head.

He wasn't usually such a maudlin drunk and he wasn't even drunk at all --
he had only had one glass of the sticky liquor served with dinner. Braska's
house was a walk away from the beach and Jecht had staggered down to
watch the sunk sink into the horizon, turning the sky such brilliant and fiery
colors it might have been melting into the sea. Spira did have one hell of a
sunset, he'd give it that. Great view of the stars too.

"Sir Jecht?"

If people didn't stop calling that he'd punch one of them in the teeth. Yeah
he liked being held in awe for being the best blitzer in history, but there was
something slightly cringing in how this title was said. However this person
would not be the first victim because whatever else you could say about
Jecht he didn't hurt little girls.

Yuna picked her way down the path of crushed seashells with bare feet, her
white shift and her hair mussed more than they had been at dinner.

Seeing her plight, Jecht grinned and went to pick her up, carrying her to
the sand. Her eyes widened with surprise, but Yuna didn't squirm or
protest in his arms. On the ground again she smoothed out her dress.
"Thank you."

Jecht couldn't help but like the kid. She was so cutely solemn without
being humorless, simply dignified and very focused. Tidus could learn a
thing or two from her.

When had he last seen the brat? Jecht had talked to Chera on the phone
three days before coming to Spira; midway though the conversation the
reception went muffled as though she had put her hand over the receiver
and he had heard her ask 'do you want to talk to daddy?' and a very faint
and sullen 'no' in return, but he couldn't remember beyond that. Jecht was
a shitty father but at least Tidus was just as shitty a son.

He tipped an imaginary hat at Yuna, winking. "No problem, little lady."

Yuna giggled although she probably didn't get the joke, fiddling with the
pocket of her dress. "If it's not too much trouble," she said, her blush
pronounced even in the sunset light. "Would you... would you do
something for me, Sir Jecht?"

"Uh...sure." Might as well indulge the kid.

"Thank you, Sir Jecht!" She had her father's smile. "You're going to have
to kneel first, though."

Jecht shrugged, getting down on one knee. "Like this?"

She nodded. From her pocket, Yuna carefully took a dark green loop of
something and put it around his neck. "Sir Jecht," she said, tone very
formal now. "Please keep my father safe so he may defeat Sin."

Jecht fingered the necklace, frowning. It was made of some sort of leaf -
strong and supple enough to be strips of palm fronds, maybe - intricately
knotted. He wondered if Yuna had made it herself. Jecht ran a hand
through his hair. "Look, kid, if this is part of some ceremony or something,
I don't know what my line is."

Yuna shook her head, a little alarmed. "Oh no! Well, I mean it's not a
ceremony, really. It's not an /official/ ceremony. I just thought that it might
be nice for you and Sir Auron to just...have something for extra luck. Not
luck -- you don't need /luck/ -- just maybe it'll help a little. On the
pilgrimage." Her hand was hovering close to her mouth as if she were
barely resisting the urge to suck her thumb.

He recognized the sentiment in her eyes, the strain around her mouth.
Chera looked like that when he left to play a game with an arm or a knee
that hadn't quite recovered from the last one, looked convinced that this
time he wasn't coming back. They had told him about the thousands Sin
had killed and the villages built only to be destroyed, but he hadn't realized
how truly horrific Sin must be to make such a sweet little girl so sad.

Tidus could curse his father's name until the end of the world and back
again if it saved him from ever having to look like that.

Jecht got to his feet, making a face as his right knee popped, and put a
hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry about your dad. Leave that to me and
Auron. We'll take good care of him for you."

She gave him a smile that was obviously meant more for him than for her,
and ducked her head down again.

That was another thing. No one ever followed up their 'Yevon bless you,
Lord Summoner,' and 'may your pilgrimage be successful.' Yuna wasn't
asking him to bring her father home.

He didn't ask. It was not a child's burden to tell him, and he wasn't even
sure he wanted to know.

He sat down unceremoniously on the sand, watching the water. Yuna
hovered uncertainly until he patted the ground to his side in invitation. She
settled down, hugging her knees to her chest. "Sir Auron told me you were
from Zanarkand."

Jecht snorted. "Did he? I woulda thought he'd just tell you I was a

Yuna giggled. "He said that too. But I don't think you are."

"What, from Zanarkand or crazy?"

"Crazy," she said with a playful lilt, still giggling a little. "What's it like?"

"Zanarkand? It's..." How to explain it to a kid who had never seen a
lightbulb? "It's a big city. Bigger than any on Spira. It's full of tall buildings
made of metal. They're at least ten times taller than the trees around here.
There's a huge blitzball stadium. Everything's all lit up with lights, even at

"Like the stars?"

"We have lights /in/ the buildings, all sorts of different colors too. But from
far away they look a little bit like stars."

She rested her cheek on her knee, sighing dreamily. "It sounds very nice."

Tidus probably would like her too. What would it be like, the two of them
meeting, Tidus acting as tour-guide to Zanarkand or Yuna introducing the
boy to the beaches of Spira? Chera would adore Braska and maybe Auron
too although the man had a stick so far up his ass it could double as his
spinel cord.

Watching Yuna watch the sky turn to purple, Jecht knew that the
Zanarkand he described was a place he would never see again and that here
and now he was in way over his head.

It would be a frosty day in hell before details like that scared the King of

Shitty father or not, Jecht could at least tell when a kid was about to pass
out and for all her dignity Yuna was showing the classic signs. "Whattya
say I give you a piggyback ride back to the house?"

Yuna yawned, rubbing the back of her hand against her eye. "But I wanna
hear more 'bout Zanarkand."

"How about this: I'll tell you the secret to performing the Sublimely
Magnificent Jecht Shot Mark III on the way." She probably wouldn't
remember it in the morning.

Yuna made a sleepy sound of assent, her eyelids fluttering closed. Jecht
crouched with his back to her and she scrambled her way on board.

"I'm famous for giving the best piggybacks in Zanarkand," he informed her
as he stood up and adjusted the extra weight. It was true, according to his
most important source.

"Zanarkand," Yuna murmured. "I'd like t'go there."

Jecht grinned as if he were back on the stadium screen and the whole world
could see it. "Who knows? Maybe one day you will."

He followed the seashell path back to the house.