"So we're gonna die tomorrow." The man had the worst way of stating the obvious at the worst times. Jecht plopped down next to Auron and watched the campfire dance in the dark, moonless night. "I woulda liked some stars, this isn't a hero's sendoff at all, is – ya still haven't talked to him."
"This is hardly any of your business."
"Woah… ice king."
Auron glared at the other man and then sighed. He didn't feel the need to talk about this with Jecht. Because Jecht was right. He was infuriatingly right on both counts, but Auron didn't want to be honest.
"It's okay ta be scared."
Jecht scoffed and tossed his head back. "Hell na—" he deflated. "Yeah. Yeah, I am." He looked up as if there would be stars. "I mean, do I go back home then, ya think big guy? Or do we just stop? Ever gonna see my kid? I bet Tidus would get along with Yunie real well, what do you think?"
Auron was ready to snap that he didn't want to talk about children he'd never see again. They were going to watch Braska die. He was going to die and there was nothing that they could do about it. He had hours before whatever he said wouldn't matter anymore. Then Auron looked at Jecht's face and saw that same fear. That same train of thought. Maybe he didn’t love Braska the way that Auron did, but there was love in the man's face all the same. Jecht's look plainly said 'distract me'. He forced a smile. "Well, as long as he didn't get in her way, she's bull headed, you know."
"My boy's a strong man by now!" Jecht responded. "He'll be leaving her in the dust!" Relief was in Jecht's face. He pumped his fist from where he sat. "Don'tcha worry about that, my friend."
"You've never seen Yuna then, if you think that." Braska showed up silently with his soft smile. "She's not much of a follower."
Jecht laughed. "Well if she's anything like her old man, I can't imagine that. People like you are born ta lead. To do something."
"We are all born to do something, Jecht. This is what we were born to do." He sat down, placing Auron between himself and Jecht. "And my daughter would probably beat poor Tidus up, knowing her."
Auron laughed. Yuna wasn't a bad child, but the mischief of her mother was loud and clear in her play. She liked to come home scratched and muddied to her father shaking his head and laughing at her. He felt like the girl was his responsibility, that… she was Braska's and she would be there when he died tomorrow. She needed to be protected.
"Naw, Braska. I mean… well… my boy does cry a bit. But he'll grow out of it, just ya wait!"
Braska looked at him and quietly tilted his head. "Is there something wrong with crying?"
Jecht picked up one of the memory spheres and looked it over. He tossed the item in his hands a few times. "No. I… really guess there ain't…" He cleared his throat. "I got some stuff ta do." He got up and tucked the ball under arm. "So… see ya." Jecht then got up and headed over to the clearing, away from his companions.
"You like him." Braska said simply.
Auron sighed. He couldn't lie to Braska. He'd never had that ability. From the day that the man walked into his life, Auron gave Braska a part of himself. Part of his control, all of his honesty, and his total devotion. "I trusted you."
"Well, I always liked him."
"Maybe I see why, now." Auron swallowed a knot in his throat. "Braska I… isn't there another way around this?" He didn't mean the words to come out as they did, fast and in a rush. "Do you have to?"
Braska nodded. "This is how it has to be, Auron. You knew this when we began."
"I know, Lord Braska but I-"
"Braska. Please, this night, I'd like you to call me Braska."
Auron clenched his jaw tightly. Using the word "lord" kept a distance between them. It elevated Braska to the untouchable; to something that he couldn't sully or make his own. It wasn't even that Auron wanted to own him. It was simpler than that. More relaxed. Even if it was to his death, Auron wanted to be at Braska's side and that was where he was. "Braska."
"But you're important to me."
"I would hope so, Auron. After everything that you and I have been through." Braska moved a bit, closer to Auron. He smelled of pyreflies and the air around him was calm and steady; Braska had accepted his fate without question.
"It isn't just that, Braska." Jecht was right; they may all be dead tomorrow. "I do not wish to see you die."
"None of us wishes the other dead, Auron. Jecht and I both would love to see our children again. But we knew-" The calm dropped and Braska looked at the ground between them. "But we knew that we were men walking to our deaths."
"That doesn't make this easier."
"Of course not. But that doesn't make it go away either. I've entertained the notion of running, but then all of Spira would suffer the consequences. This cycle… it's the best that we can hope for."
"…not if the Summoner knows the truth." Auron said plainly. "If Yuna were to know the truth?"
"That's why I left the spheres. In hopes that she would… " he shook his head as his voice trailed off. "I feel so much guilt for leaving her, my friend."
"You didn't leave her, you're saving her. Along with all of Spira, Braska." They really were heroes, the kind that Jecht always talked about, the kind that got parades and fanfare and epic stories written about them. "Our lives are worth that."
"A thousand times over." Braska agreed.
Auron reached a hand out then and grabbed Braska's firmly. "If I make it out of this with any life in me, I will go to her. I'll see this end, Braska. I promise."
Braska looked down at their hands and swallowed.
Auron couldn't meet the other man's eyes. There was more that he felt like he should say, but the words would only add stress to Braska's final night, wouldn't they? Auron could not imagine doing that to someone he loved. So he remained silent.
Until Braska leaned over and pressed his lips against Auron's cheek. "Is it too late to say I love you?"
Auron let go of Braska's hand and leaned the rest of the way into the smaller man. He wrapped his arms around Braska's shoulders and hugged him tightly. Auron buried his face into the other man's hair and just held on.
Because he didn't really know if it was or not.