Brother'd hoped for a break when The Eternal Calm came, but on the first day his father has made sure that it's business as usual for him. At least until he hears a sound coming from the engine ro...
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Brother had thought (or, at least, hoped) that once Yuna and her group had finished doing whatever it was they'd planned to defeat Sin the ship's crew might finally have a vacation. Whether to celebrate The Calm, or Yuna's survival, or just no longer having to constantly fly all over the world on the whims of a young man who'd been too foolish to figure out Brother had asking him to swim the first time they'd met, even when he'd made his miming so obvious that even a blind man could have worked it out.
But deep inside he'd known even from the first time the thought had crossed his mind that there was no way it would actually happen. With his father in charge there'd always be something that needed to be tuned up, or a rumor about some ruins that needed to be checked out, or an ancient machina that needed to be excavated. It wasn't work he usually minded, but it never seemed to end.
Which was why he spent the first day of The Eternal Calm working alone in the bowels of the ship. Cid wanted his precious guns fixed right away now that there was time, but there was only room for one person, barely that, in the small area the ones on the underside of the ship tucked into when they weren't firing. Cid had always believed in sending family members in when he wanted a job done right, and Brother was the one nominated for the job because, as his father had said, "You've been sittin' on your ass in that pilot's seat for weeks while your sister's been off slaughterin' fiends on every corner of Spira! Time for you to do some real work again, boy. Gettin' some grease under your nails'll do you good!" And as far as Cid was concerned that had settled it, though Brother had grumbled a little about how piloting was real work, and a lot harder than killing a fiend, which had earned him a light swat upside his head for sassing.
His work was finally done for the day and he was climbing back into the main section of the airship when he heard a noise coming from the engine room. "Stupid kids," he grumbled as he changed his course. Most of the children who had originally been on board the ship when it left Home had been dropped off around Spira, but a few, the children of crew members, had stuck around. In the weeks since then they'd made a game of sneaking into areas of the ship that were supposed to be off-limits. Though Brother ached down to his bones from hard work and spending the entire day with his body uncomfortably contorted to fit into a small space, and though he wanted nothing more than to ignore the noise and go to bed, he knew he'd regret it if he continued on his way and found out the next day that a child had fallen into the engine.
"Hey, you know you're not supposed to be down here!" he called out as he opened the door. "One more time and we'll make Nhadala start watching you, and you know what that means: no treats, early bedtimes, and digging in the desert when you want to play!" It was a threat that had worked on him well enough when he was little (he didn't want to admit that it still would to that day, even though he now knew her well enough to know logically that she wouldn't really do any of those things), he just hoped the rumors about her putting any kid she saw not doing something useful to work were still floating around the playgrounds.
There wasn't anyone immediately in sight, so he walked forward to lean over the bannister at the landing and see if they were hiding against the stairs. As he walked he said, "Because I'm so nice, if you come now I won't tell anyone you-- Yuna?!"
When he'd last seen her as he'd been finding himself breakfast that morning she'd seemed the same as she always was, which had surprised him. It seemed obvious to him that something had gone wrong during the final battle with Sin, even if it had been won in the end. The lack of a certain fool and the gruff older man his father had always enjoyed arguing with was proof of that. He had wondered how she could be so composed after something like that, but told himself it wouldn't have been his place to ask about it even if he could.
So it surprised him to find her kneeling there, staring up at him with that composure completely gone, her eyes red and puffy from tears, her breathing the small, choked, gasps of someone trying very hard to keep from sobbing.
Brother vaulted over the railing and crouched down in front of her. "Are you all right?" he asked, even though he knew she wouldn't understand. He waved his hands around, trying to come up with some gesture that might get his words across, but failing to come up with anything. "You shouldn't be here like this. You should be with your friends, not alone in the dark. You..."
He trailed off, hands falling to his side, as her breathing stilled and her lips curled up into a friendly smile. If she just wiped off her face and did something about the puffiness of her eyes he would never have guessed she'd just been crying. "/It's all right,/" she said, the words unfamiliar to him. "/Don't worry about me, I'm fine. We have The Calm now. What more could I want?/" Her voice was calm and steady, apart from the tiniest hitch at the end.
In all the time since he'd met Yuna, Brother had always considered her very cold. Yes, she smiled at everyone, and yes, she always sounded friendly enough, but he'd noticed the first day they'd brought her into The Summoner's Sanctum that (aside from with her guardians, he later discovered) she used the same tone with whoever she was speaking to, whatever they were talking to her about. Above the smile her eyes were always distant, as if she didn't really see the person in front of her at all. It might have been his own deep distrust of Yevonites making him think the worst, but he had always felt like she didn't really care about the people she talked to at all.
But she had seen him when he first came across her, her pain-filled eyes focusing on him instead of through him for the first time that he could recall. It wasn't until he'd acted upset at her tears that that had changed, and for the first time he recognized that smile for the mask that it was, hiding all emotion from him but a removed sort of amicability. A mask she was so adept at that she could pull it over her expression in a moment, even when she was filled with grief. He suddenly felt ashamed for ever thinking her cold, if she felt so much that she needed to become so good at wearing that expression to hide it.
He wished Rikku was there. She would have pulled Yuna into a hug, comforted her in a language she could understand, and, all in all, been much better at it. Even his father might have been, if Cid had been struck by one of the rare moments of warmth that usually came when he saw one of his kids depressed. It shouldn't be up to Brother, who could never manage to see her as anything more than a not very close acquaintance in spite of how easily Rikku and Cid seemed to accept her as family, who had never been good with comforting words, and who wouldn't know how to tell her that it was all right to stop smiling and cry if he was.
For the first time he suddenly, desperately, wished that he'd listened to his father when Cid said the common Spiran language could be a useful thing to know, and taken lessons with Rikku instead of scoffing at the idea that he'd ever care what a Yevonite had to say. But now, when he suddenly found himself caring very much because he'd realized that no one should have to hide themselves away in a dark room on their own just to allow themselves to mourn, all he could do was flutter his hands around and slowly, hoping he had the short words right, say, "/You, no./" She didn't seem to understand, so, after a second of thought, he reached out and hovered his hand over her smile then used both hands to briefly pull his own mouth up into a false grin before repeating, "/No./"
This time comprehension dawned, and she said to him, "/You don't understand. I need to smile, so everyone who sees me will know everything's okay. Just because.. he's gone, I can't.../" He assumed that must have been a thank you for allowing her to show her real feelings even though he was there, because even as she'd spoken her face had crumbled and she'd ended up with her body bent low over her knees, the sobs coming again.
He thought that the right thing to do in this sort of situation would be to give her hug, but he couldn't bring himself to. He didn't know her well enough to feel comfortable doing that, and couldn't believe that an awkward embrace would really be very soothing, but he didn't think it would be right to just sit there and stare at her as she cried either. Finally, hesitantly, he reached out and pressed one of his hands flat against her back between her shoulder blades. He felt her press back slightly, not like she was trying to push him away, but as if she was glad of the contact, although her sobbing didn't quiet and her head stayed bent so he couldn't see her expression. He hoped he'd read her reaction correctly.
He didn't know how long they stayed like that -- the engine room had no windows or clocks to mark time by -- so all he knew was that enough time had passed that his arm had long since grown numb from his never moving his hand away from her when her crying finally slowed, then stilled. "You feel better now?" he asked, not really bothered by the fact she wouldn't understand him anymore. He had made up his mind as he watched her bawl to begin learning her language the very next day. The next time he found her like this, he would know what he needed to say.
She sniffled for a minute longer before straightening up. "/Thank you, Brother," she said. "/I... think that I needed that./" Then she smiled at him, the first /real smile she'd ever shown him. He looked at that small, sad, quirk of her lips, at her tear-wrecked and snotty face and her mournful, blood-shot, eyes, and felt something twist in his stomach.
He realized then, for the first time, that she was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen.