Setting: Mount Gagazet, pre-canon.
Theme + Number: #90, "Quiet Time".
Warnings: Spoilers for FFX (a fairly major plotpoint). Angst.
Summary: There were three; now there are only two, and the silence of the mountain.
In Zanarkand, it is bearable. The city may be dead, but it is full of ghosts and echoes that create their own kind of life. It is easy to lose themselves in listening, there, to fill their ears with the background noise of memory. They can bear that.
But when they leave the ruins and start back down the bleak mountain where there is nothing for miles but them and the wind, the silence comes crashing down around them like the ringing of a giant bell. They cannot ignore it, or the reminder it whispers in their ears:
They went up this mountain three together, and now they return only two.
Mount Gagazet is full of silences: the silence of still air, the silence of a land abandoned, the silence of snowfall, the silence of the dead, the silence of a secret never to be told. But Auron hears only one silence, the absence of Jecht's footsteps crunching on the packed snow beside him, and Braska hears only one silence, the absence of Jecht's voice keeping a murmuring commentary on their progress. In a world formed of a thousand little silences, these are the ones so large they eclipse sun and snow with the sheer, oppressive force of their existence.
They do no try to fill the silence. To speak would be to give up, because there is nothing to speak of but their loss, and to speak would be to give up and give in to the pain and grief and voices of the dead calling for companionship.
Braska knows that if he speaks, even or perhaps especially to Auron, he will choose to die now, with him, rather than face another hour of nothingness. He cannot allow himself to so choose. His death waits in the valley; he still wants that death more than any other, more than he now wants any life open to him. He must not forget that they do not suffer for nothing. But it is hard, and so he does not speak.
Auron knows that if he speaks, he will shatter before Braska's eyes, collapse into the grief that stabs him like a knife every moment he hears no familiar voice speaking. The only thing he will be able to do is beg to die, rather than live on alone with all that has become his life gone, and he will not hurt Braska so. Braska, too, will die, but he is not yet dead, and Auron must cling to that with all his strength and pride. It is not yet over, and he cannot break yet. But it hurts to be whole, and so he is silent.
The small noises they do make are swallowed by the immense quiet of the world. Not even a scream could dent it. That wouldn't stop Jecht, they think and see in each other's eyes that they think. Jecht would fill the silence with footsteps, with talk and laughter and his sheer undiluted presence that is a shout to the world. But he is no longer here. It echoes itself in their minds like the refrain of an old song.
Jecht is no longer here. He is an Aeon. He is gone. He is gone forever.
And there is no way to end the silence.