Setting: FFX, Mt. Gagazet
Theme + Number: Stay Awake, #8
Warnings: K+, fuzzies.
Summary: Warmth in a cold place.
The snow was falling more thickly now. The children -- kids, Lulu had called them in their race on Ohalland's staircase, although Wakka at least was only a few years younger -- were huddled together at the back of the rock alcove. Yuna and Tidus were cuddled together across Kimari's lap, his shaggy arms laid around them; Rikku, improbably, was curled against Wakka, emnities forgotten. The Blitzball player from Besaid was snoring, but the howling of the wind over the outcrop above him nearly drowned out the familiar sound. Thick clumps of snow swirled like pyreflies.
The embers of the fire were low and red. Lulu knew she ought to do something, but there was little left to burn now, and she was dreamily tired. The red coat thrown around her shoulders was barely blocking the wind, and her face and cheeks were numb. The nagging buzz of her thoughts had grown too feeble for the rest of her to remember. Her head drooped forward.
There was a soft sound of footsteps, boots kicking through fresh-fallen snow. Auron flung down another arm-load: a weather-stained wooden shield, bits and pieces of broken wheels and an axle from a wagon, relics of one of the hundred "hard ways" Summoner parties had used trying to beat Mt. Gagazet. Yuna and Tidus stirred together like pups in a burrow as the older Guardian set about adding the kindling to the embers of the old fire. After sleepy glances towards Sir Auron, both of them nuzzled a little closer and drifted off again. Wakka's snoring never missed a beat, and Rikku was probably too deafened by it to notice anything else.
Auron paused in his quiet labors to shake the mage's shoulder. "I thought you were on watch," he said curtly.
"Mmm," Lulu said groggily. "Kimahri... "
"...can't keep the fire going in this storm." Bare to the shoulder, and apparently unaffected by the biting winds, the grizzled swordsman settled beside her and gave her braids a short, sharp tug. "Guardian."
Lulu flinched, frowned more at herself than at his presumption, and molded her irritation into a sullen red knot between her fingers. It was too weak. She mentally catalogued indignities: the volume of Wakka's snoring, Yuna's smile that should have melted Sin to soft rain if the world were less cruel, the deceitful puffs of frosted breath around Auron's stubbled chin that fooled everyone else in the party. Red turned to a claws-and-teeth sputtering sphere of orange that seemed more sparks than flame. She threw it across the cold wood and sat back with weary satisfaction as the fire blazed up again. It was a risky beacon, but a vital weapon against Gagazet's deadliest fiend, the cold.
The others were well and truly asleep; even that professional display had not roused them. Auron gathered her against him, heat radiating from his bare arms like pyreflies from the Moonflow. "Stay awake," he said gruffly at her ear, lips brushing against her blue skin.
She shivered. "Stop that," she muttered. "Someone might see."
"Then," Auron said conversationally, "someone had better stay awake, lest I resort to emergency measures." His ungloved hand slipped under the heavy coat.
"You are the troublemaker, after all," she sighed appreciatively.
The Ronso's yellow eyes gleamed on the far side of the fire, but he kept his own counsel.