Paper Tiger

Jecht/Auron. PG. ~500 words. Angst. Pastfic.
He finds Jecht waiting for him.

Days, weeks, months. He doesn’t know how much time has passed. Gagazet’s cruel icy touch lingers on his skin. Memories surface from his confusion like greasy black oil. Zanarkand. Braska. Jecht. Sin. Dazed eyes wrench open, a bloodstained hand clawing in panic at the right. Bile scorches his throat. The gut-clenching agony of loss and the wracking pain of useless wounds steal his consciousness again.

He leaves in the dark night, having nothing but his meaningless thanks to offer in return for kindness freely given. He’s careless, brutal in his new self-bestowed pilgrimage. If only he’d had this body to serve his lord, how much pain he could have spared them. If only he’d-

‘If’ is a word damned, he hates it. He hates it and can’t stop thinking it. He blames himself and feels guilty for it. What right has he to take blame for decisions freely made? What right has he to feel this black, all-consuming rage? None, that blasted smug tone echoes in his mind. Be at peace, the voice of his lord beseeches.

Denial screams through him, fury burning brighter than the deadliest spell cleaves the cursed life from fiend after fiend. He bleeds, but doesn’t feel it. He dies anew every hour, but doesn’t rest. Stopping is the one thing he lacks the strength to do.

The earth is scarred, Spira is pock-marked with Sin’s destruction. He knows each blackened furrow, each crater exploding in flashes of light, choking dirt and burnt air over again and again in his mind. It drives him mad. He screams his voice into nothingness, searching in arrogant vain.

Pyreflies gather at the centre of his hell. Masses of them brighten the sky, endless swirling colour and light. It’s beautiful, this beacon of false hope. It disgusts him. Countless lives brush his skin and make his stomach churn.

He finds Jecht waiting for him, sitting patiently on the tattered ground.

Jecht is hollow, transparent in this new half-life. The sour mix of sadness and regret and anger he feels is mirrored in deep red eyes. He can’t speak as Jecht stands, can’t make himself swallow the boldfaced truth shoved viciously down his throat.

“I waited,” Jecht says, gesturing at the torn earth with one hand and rubbing the back of his neck with the other. His voice resonates, unearthly, only half his own.

All he can do is stiffly nod. He’s not ready for this, not prepared for Jecht’s passive acceptance of their manipulated fates. He’s not willing to give up everything he’s already lost.

“‘Least I’m not clunking around in that getup,” Jecht begins.

No. Silence falls as he shakes his head. No, no, no. It echoes over and over again, louder and louder until it spills from his lips in a torrent of shock and rejection. “No,” he whispers. “No. Stop it, Jecht. Stop it.”

“Auron,” Jecht finally says, and tries to touch him. Incomprehension mars his face for less than the single heartbeat neither of them have. He turns disbelieving eyes to the incomplete shadow Auron has become, and breathes his own furious denial.


One Response to “Paper Tiger”

  1. Kris Says:

    Oh that’s wrong… but I love it! Not enough of this pairing.

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