Story: Midnight Flight (all chapters)

Authors: AnsticeVolk

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Chapter 1

Title: Wind Wake

[Author's notes: I don't own the song or people. Nightwish owns song and Square-Enix owns characters and all that stuff. Just making sure ya know. Still getting used to this.]

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.
- Aristotle


Paine hears the door to the deck open and the familiar tapping of the thief’s boots as they come closer. Taking her gaze from the dark sky, she glances at Rikku who shines her trademark grin. A small smile tugs at the corner of Paine’s mouth as she turns back to stare at the blue abyss in front of her.

~We’re walking in the air

~We’re floating in the moonlit sky

~The people far below are sleeping as we fly


Rikku’s usually bright eyes are now dreary and moist. She steps closer to Paine and embraces her tightly, crying softly onto the warrior’s collarbone. Paine is taken aback by the sudden touch but it quickly registers that Rikku is crying. “Rikku? What’s the matter?”

Not pulling her face away from Paine, the young girl sniffs loudly, “I miss Yunie, Paine. I-I just want her to come back to us.”

Eighteen days ago Yuna was reunited with Tidus and the two have been inseparable ever since. She seemed to have forgotten all about her cousins and friends. Brother took it hard but Rikku is the one who seems to be taking it the worst. In the past few weeks she’s eaten less, slept less, and wasn’t her usual happy-go-lucky self.

~I’m holding very tight

~I’m riding in the midnight blue

~I’m finding I can fly so high above with you


Paine gently pushes Rikku back and focuses on the young girl’s features. Her eyes, now puffy from crying, her hair, messed up from not taking the time to perfect it, and a small snot bubble popping, making the girl look even more pathetic. Paine’s own outer features were unchanged but her inner essence was in turmoil. She recently found she liked the thief a little too much and seeing her like this was tearing her up from the inside out. Sighing, Paine pulls Rikku back into her and rests her cheek on her head. She stares out and sees they are flying over the Calm Lands.

~Far across the wold

~The villages go by like trees

~The rivers and the hills

~The forest and the streams

The wind leaves and icy trail on Paine’s chest where Rikku’s tears had fallen. A faint “thank you” is heard by the blonde as she takes a step back. She wipes the remaining tears from her eyes and looks back up at the warrior. Her crimson eyes stare back at Rikku’s emerald ones with such feeling that the Al-Bhed wonders if that is still Paine. A gloved hand raises and wipes away the liquid sorrow on the girl’s chin. Paine sees the moistness on her glove and frowns but is then replaced with a smirk. “Famm, fryd tu oui cyo fa ku kad ran pylg? E lyh'd ryja oui ymm cyt mega drec, meddma dreav.”

Rikku’s eyes are immediately brightened as she flashes a massive smile. Quickly placing her arms around Paine’s neck, she stands on tip-toe and pulls the woman into her. The kiss is brief, yet full of emotion, ends when Rikku leans back and looks at a very surprised Paine.

Paine, not knowing where to look, glances at the ground and sees some young Ronso stop their late night snowball fight and gawk shockingly up at them. Paine blushes and wonders why Brother is flying so close to the base of Mt. Gagazet.

~Children gaze open mouth

~Taken by surprise

~Nobody down below believes their eyes

~We’re surfing in the air

~We’re swimming in the frozen sky

~We’re drifting over icy

~Mountains floating by

Rikku smiles shyly and turns a tint of red as Paine turns on her mike. “Brother, let’s make a stop at Besaid and kidnap Yuna.”

“Yuna? Roooger!”

Paine turns the mike off and the Celsius takes a sharp turn in the direction of Besaid. The warrior catches Rikku before she falls and pulls her close. The feeling of the blonde’s warm breath on her neck and the soft touch of her hands on her back causes Paine’s breath to snag. An aura of happiness beams off the Al Bhed as she and Paine ride to go kidnap their friend and cousin.

The ship takes a dive over the Besaid Ocean and towards the small island.

~Suddenly swooping low on an ocean deep

~Arousing of a mighty monster from its sleep

~We’re floating in the midnight sky

~And everyone who sees us greets us as we fly

Translations: Well, what do you say we go get her back? I can't have you all sad like this, little thief.
Well, that is all for this story. I kind of want to make it not a one shot but who knows what I’ll do. R&R pleeeeaase

Chapter 2

Title: Hijacking the Ex-Summoner

[Author's notes:

Yeah...this is the 2nd character owning and on with the sentences.


People seldom refuse help, if one offers it in the right way.
                                                            -A.C. Benson


            Two shadows slink behind some trees and silently creep up towards the village.  Keepa, obviously drunk, is staggering through the middle of the village, yawns, and stretches before sitting down in front of one of the tents.  "Ku ynuiht dra pylg xieadmo yht lusa eh vnus dra udran ceta,” Paine whispers to the thief.

“E's uh ed, Paine.”

            The blonde tiptoes around the tent that they know Yuna is in and enters through the back.  Paine throws a rock into the woods behind the tent Keepa is sitting in front of; the goalie snorts and gets up to see what it was.  The warrior enters the tent to see Rikku waiting for her with a smile.  The two look down on the cot and see Yuna with her arms wrapped around Tidus tightly.  Seeing how they can’t do as they planned, grab and go, Paine grimaces at the sight and picks up a chocobo feather from the nightstand.  Touching it ever-so-gently on the gunner’s back, it causes Yuna to release her man and roll over on her back.

            Rikku jumps slightly with glee until Tidus reaches over and grabs Yuna’s arm.  Paine, resisting the urge to punch him in his face, leans over the cot and tickles his ear with the feather.  Tidus smiles and rubs his ear on his shoulder.  “Heh, Yuna cut it out.”

            Faint blushes crawl up the conscious girls’ necks and make them look at each other.  Shaking her head, Paine resumes her irritating tactic on Tidus’ ear.  He lets go of Yuna’s arm and scratches his ear and stretches both arms above his head.  Relaxing into the cot, he continues sleeping.  “Knyp ran.”

            Rikku takes her cousin’s arms as Paine takes her feet.  They lift her to the ground quickly before Tidus got hold of her again.  Now in the sand, Yuna curls onto her side and snuggles her head into her arms.  Paine sighs as she picks her up.  She walks to the opening and abruptly stops before retreating, quickly, back into the tent.  Leaning her head to look outside, Paine shifts the gunner’s weight in her arms.  “Tyshed...Rikku, ku uid dra pylg yht dno yht tnyf Keepa pylg ehdu dra fuutc.”

            The Al Bhed nods and crawls out the back of the tent.  She finds a stick and throws it towards the trees behind Keepa.  Apparently sticks don’t go as far as rocks and Keepa is nailed in the forehead.  Rikku hears a faint curse, from what sounds like Paine, and scrunches her nose in how could she hit him right in the head.  Keepa stares down and tries to focus his vision on the stick.  A sloppy grin forms on his greasy face as he stands up mumbling something about Botta being annoying.  “Bot-Botta!  I know you-you threw that stick at me, ya.  Just wait until-hic-I find you.”

            The drunkard swaggered towards the temple and held onto the stick like a sword.  Seeing he was far enough away, Paine dashed out of the tent and made a beeline away from the village.  The warrior stopped at the clearing and turned back to find Rikku.  The thief was nowhere to be found.  Figuring she was already to the Celsius by now, Paine turned around and almost dropped Yuna.  Rikku was standing there with the biggest smile gracing her features.  “Thank you so much Paine.  I am really-”

            “Shhh, now’s not the time Rikku,” Paine interrupts the thief, “tell me when we get back on the ship and lie Yuna down, okay?’

            “O-Okay.  Right…let’s go.”

            On the deck of the Celsius, Paine was lying down with her hands behind her head as Rikku jumped around.  Yuna was in the cabin, still sleeping, as Barkeep was busy keeping Brother out of the room.  “She’s back Paine!  She’s really back!  Right now, as we speak, she is sleeping just below us in the bed she always used to sleep in.”

            “Keep bouncing around like that and she won’t be sleeping for long.”

            The blonde stopped leaping around and tilted her head to the side.  Pursing her lips together, Rikku looked at the ground and rocked back and forth from heel to toe.  The warrior closed her eyes and sighed, feeling the wind wisp around her form.  Feeling warmth on her forehead, her eyes bolted open to find Rikku leaning over her, lips pressed against her skin.  A small giggle escaped the blonde’s lips when she saw the fainted tint of red on Paine’s cheeks.  Rikku lied down next to Paine and shifted closer.  Playing with the older girl’s metal studs, Rikku spoke softly, “Thank you a whole lot, Paine.  I can’t even begin to express how happy I am that Yunie is back.  No one had ever done anything like that for me, and I-“

            “Don’t worry about it.  Honestly, I missed the girl a little too.”

            Rikku smiled and quickly hugged Paine and rolled onto her back.  The two stared up at the sky as it stared back down on them.  Rikku’s breath began to slow and in a matter of minutes she was sleeping with a smile on her face.  Paine stayed on the deck for another hour and until she saw the thief shiver she would have stayed there until morning.  Sitting up, she stretched and looked at the thief.  The blonde’s hair caressed her face and the warrior knew that gorgeous emerald eyes hid behind those closed lids.  The girl was amazing, simply put.  She was care-free, kind towards anyone, beautiful, great sense of humor, and really just a great person to be around.  How could someone not fall for her?  Paine sighed and rubber her forehead.  She’s wonderful.  She does her own thing and it gets her by.  Her clumsiness should’ve gotten her into more trouble than it has but she always finds a way to squirm out of it.  She’s overly friendly at times and just anyone can take advantage of it…yet she is strong enough to take care of herself.  She said that no one helped her like I did.  Maybe I now have special place in her heart.  Maybe…

Rikku shivered again and this time Paine stood and picked her up.  Carrying the young girl to the elevator, Paine felt her curl up into her and continue sleeping.  The warrior couldn’t help but smile and close her eyes as the elevator doors slid shut.  The only sound was the soft breathing of the blonde and the beating of Paine’s heart.  Ding.  The elevator opened and Paine carried Rikku into the cabin.  Stepping through the doors and past the bar, the silver haired girl brings Rikku up to her bed near the stairs.  Paine became slightly jealous at how Yuna always had the bed next to Rikku’s.  Tucking the Al Bhed under the covers, Paine walked across the room to her bed and climbed in.

 I’m glad that Rikku’s happy.  She was starting to look like shit for a while there.  Paine grinned a little.  At least now she and her cousin can bond again.  Tidus better not take Yuna away from Rikku like that again…and Yuna better not forget all about Rikku.  She deserves better than that…for all she has done for her.  She better…not…

            Paine drifts off into sleep, her thoughts still with her, not knowing what would be ahead for her the next day.

Translations: Go around the back quietly and come in from the other side.
I'm on it, Paine.
Grab her.
Damnit...Rikku, go out the back and try and draw Keepa back into the woods.


A.N.  Yeah well that is all…I kinda like this story…maybe just a little.  Anyways, please review cause they make me feel like a happy school girl…wait…I technically am.  They make me feel coooool!  Yeah, heh, thanx for reading.

Chapter 3

Title: Quarrel

[Author's notes: Hmm...just that I don't own the people...blah... y'all know it.  On with some rearranged letters, yo!]

You show people what you’re willing to fight for when you fight your friends.
                                                                                    -Hillary Clinton


            Rikku’s eyes open and she stares up at the ceiling.  The morning rays shine in through the windows as she stretches and rolls over onto her side.  Across from her is Yuna, who is still in a somber sleep, and even further across is an empty bed.  Paine…you must’ve carried me down here last night. It seems you’re always looking out for me.  Why are you so kind?  I see the way you are around Brother…calling him an airhead and such.  You keep serious near your old friends…Nooj, Baralai, and Gippal.  You don’t show much emotion and it’s so hard to read you stoic features.  But…you’ve always been there for us…me especially.  You got back Yunie…it was all your plan and you carried it out.  I should make it up to you, Paine, I’ve-

            The door opening down below and the steps revealed a tapping of the warrior’s boots disrupted Rikku’s thoughts.  Rikku shuts her eyes and heard the sound come up the steps.  Reaching the top of the stairs, the tapping hesitates slightly and begins again, only softer.  Paine walked past the two occupied beds and sat down on hers.  Rikku heard a soft sigh and slightly opened her eyes to look at what Paine was doing.  The warrior had her face in between her hands and her elbows rested on her knees.  She looked up towards Rikku and the thief quickly shut her eyes again.  Looking at the clock, Paine reads 8:37 and decides to let the two sleep in.  She lies down on her bed with her arms behind her head and grins slightly.  Heh, I wonder what Tidus is going to do when he finds his girlfriend not there.

            Paine closes her eyes and waits for the other girls to wake up.  Rikku sits up and throws her legs over the side of the bed.  She scratches her head and yawns.  Still intoxicated by sleep, she barely thinks as she walks over to Paine’s bed and lies down.  Paine looks at the young girl, who’s eyes are closed, and is already getting ready to go back to sleep.  A slight blush makes its way through her natural pallor and tints her cheeks pink.  Rikku’s arm pulls Paine close as she smiles lightly into the older woman.  An aroma of vanilla fragrance infiltrates Rikku’s nasal way and draws her into a dreamy state.  Feeling the Al Bhed’s fingers caress her side slightly, Paine closes her eyes again and leans into Rikku a little and falls asleep.  Paine…I think I like you…more than I should be allowed…but I can’t help it…you grew on me…you’re one in a million Dr. P.  Wow, and you make a wonderful ‘body’ pillow.  Heh, body pillow, I’m one funny kid.

            Rikku nestles into Paine and drifts off to sleep, knowing deep inside that Paine would be there to protect her and watch out for her.



            “Rikku!  Paine!  Wake up!  By all the Aeons in Spira if you don’t get up right now I will throw you both off the ship by myself!”

            Rikku, surprised by the gunner’s yell, jolted so far off the bed and fell to the wooden floor below.  Paine sat up immediately and aware, ready for a fight.  She then looked at Yuna’s tense face and relaxed her body, seeing it was nothing to be frightened of.  With an annoyed tone she glares her eyes, “What…”

            “What?!  What do you mean just what?!  If anything I should be asking that around here!  Why am I on the ship?  Where is Tidus?  Did you all kidnap me?  Wha-“

            “Calm down princess…Rikku and I retrieved you from Besaid last night and we brought you back to the Celsius.”

            “You what…why?!”

            Paine glanced down at Rikku who was rubbing her hip from where she fell onto the floor from Yuna’s outburst.  “Rik…Bro…we all missed you and wanted to see you again.  You never even gave us the time of day when you were with Tidus and this is the only way we could actually see you without seeing him.  You two have been joined at the hip since he came back…just who do you think helped you find him?”

            “I know Rikku helped me find him but, Paine, I love him and-”

            “And you don’t love Rikku?!”

            By this point Paine was standing next to Yuna and Rikku was sitting on Yuna’s bed, listening intently to the verbal exchange between the two, not wanting to butt in for once.  “I do love her but-”

            Paine speaks softly, “But you love him more…don’t you?  Rikku came to you with hope that you would find him and so you’d be happy.  She risked her life trying to find him, as did I and the rest of us in some form or another.  The past weeks Rikku has not eaten well, slept well, or even acted her usual self.  Last night was the first time she looked healthy in some time.  Yuna, you owe it to her to at least know she still exists.”

            Yuna turns her head and stares intently at the ground.  “I know she still exists… I just want to be with Tidus…he’s more important to me right now.”

            Resisting the urge to slap her, Paine grabbed Yuna’s wrist with a vice grip and yanked her to the other side of the room where the chairs were.  She turns the ex-summoner around briskly and burns holes into her with her crimson eyes.  “Don’t you ever say that again…since when was Rikku not important enough to you?  Since when was your cousin and not to mention also your best friend, not important enough to rank higher than that boy?!”

            “He’s not a boy!  He’s a man, Paine!  He’s my man and he loves me with all of his heart and I love him with all of mine!  Just because you don’t know how to love and never been loved doesn’t mean that everyone is just like you!”

            Paine was taken aback for a moment before snarling quietly through clenched teeth, “You don’t know me, Yuna.  You don’t know what I know, what I think, what I feel…  I feel strongly towards Rikku…THAT is why I wanted to bring you back.  Honestly, I could have managed without you here.  It was for that little thief over there, who’s crying right now, that I’ve done what I’ve done.  You better get your priorities straight in your mind because turning your back on the one who has helped you the most is immoral and it will come back to get you.  Remember that, Yuna, she will always be your cousin and love you…but will Tidus…always be your ‘man’?”

            Paine turned away from the speechless Yuna and walked towards Rikku who was still crying.  She kneeled down in front of the young girl and placed her hand on Rikku’s knee.  “I’m sorry Rikku…I guess she needs time to set things straight in her head.  Girl isn’t all there, but I’m sure you already knew that.”

            Rikku snorted out a small snot bubble at Paine’s joke and smiled.  The warrior wiped some stray tears from the blonde’s cheek and stood back up.  She held out her hand to help Rikku off the bed.  The two walked down the stairs and towards the elevator, Rikku never letting go of the warrior’s hand.


A.N.  Well, another chapter is finished.  I was going to make this longer…but I became too lazy.  Lots of stuff going on, ya know? (Heh, I pulled a Raijin) But anyways, lemme know what you think and um…yeah I know the people are kind of out of character but I tried to let them be that way without actually letting them be that way.  Okay I’m done, peas review : ]

Chapter 4

Title: Past Experiences

[Author's notes: Alrighty then…I’m am officially on break and that means I’m a busy busy person.  I did this chapter while at work so…don’t get mad that it is eh.  Um, okay then, I guess I’ll let you begin…riiiiight….now….go!

In secret we met - in silence I grieve, that while thy heart could forget, Thy spirit deceive.  If I should meet thee after long years, how should I great thee? – with silence and tears.
                                                - George Gordon, Lord Byron “When We Two Parted”




            It was quiet in the elevator.  Rikku stood close to Paine, her fingers intertwined with hers.  When the lift stopped they walked out onto the deck and sat down near the ornament.  There they stayed until they noticed the ship was getting ready to land on Besaid.  Rikku bolted up and stood in disbelief as Yuna ran out of the ship and towards the village.  She saw the figure run into a tent and it didn’t come back out.

            “Wha…,” Rikku scoffed.

            Paine, who watched the whole thing as well, felt her hands clench into fists and her brows furrow.  Damn her, that little…

            Paine lost her train of thought as she heard Rikku quietly laughing under her breath.  She faced towards the blonde and tilted her head with a questioning look.

            “Ya know Dr. P…I…I HATE HIIIIM,” Rikku screamed the latter part out towards the village, “I’ll never know what I saw in hi-“

            Paine’s eyes slightly widened as she took a small step back, “What?”

            Rikku began to panic a little and a thin veil of sweat started to form on her brow.  She sighed softly and it looked as if she was getting ready to cry.  The warrior didn’t know whether to comfort her, be angry at her, kill Yuna, kill Tidus, or just leave this life behind and start anew.  She decided just to stand there until Rikku had stopped crying.

            “We sort of went out, kind of, about two years ago.  I liked him and it seemed that he liked me.  We fooled around a bit but when I didn’t let him go all the way he got mad and said I was a tease.  He then started looking at Yunie and soon enough went after her, thinking she would be easier since she lived a sheltered life.  She didn’t know what was right or wrong in that area.  Later he came to me and said we should still be friends.  I, being a stupid kid thinking I still ‘loved’ the boy, said okay, hoping he would maybe come back to me.  When he was gone to Sin, I figured that he was a big poopie and that the only reason I liked him was because he said he liked me.  Never did I really like him…nor did he like me for me.  Just because I was cute and had, still have by the way, nice bod.  I guess I’ll never find someone who’ll not use me and like me for me.”

            Paine’s tense features had softened at the last sentence.  She wanted to tell the thief how much she cared.  She wanted to pull her into her and kiss her.  She wanted to just tell the girl everything…but she couldn’t.  It pained her to know that she once like Tidus.  It pained her to see her crying over a pansy like him.  Yet worst of all, what pained her the most was she couldn’t tell Rikku what she truly felt inside.

            Paine…what are you thinking of me?  What’s going thought your mind right now?  Please do something…just anything…please, Paine.  Please don’t just stand there.  I can’t take it any more.  Do…something…
            The warrior saw the thief’s pleading look and all she could do was stare.  Damnit Paine, move you body…do anything but just stare at her.  Move.
            Using all her might, Paine had willed her body to finally move.  She stepped forward towards Rikku and wrapped her arms around the Al Bhed’s smaller frame.  Rikku melted into the embrace and pulled Paine even closer.  She slid her hands up Paine’s back and under the leather shawl.  She felt the warrior’s abs tighten slightly against her own stomach.  She felt a hand now on the nape of her neck, underneath her scarf and the other at the small of her back.  The cool leather sent small shivers down her spine.  Being this close to the warrior made Rikku think when they were on the deck together the night before.  Rikku had kissed her.  She didn’t make a face, get angry, or wipe it off.  She blushed.  Heh…big, bad Painey blushed and didn’t know where to look.  Do ya think?  Would I be lucky enough for it to be true?  I shouldn’t chance it.  Maybe I’ll ask about it later.  I just wanna stay right here.  Forget Yunie and Tidus.  What I want…is Paine…

            Kashiii.  “Rikku,” comes Buddy’s voice from the intercom, “just want to let you know Yuna is back in Besaid and she told me to tell you and Paine that she is sorry and also that she-” Click.

            Paine’s hand was between the two of them and over Rikku’s mike.  She tilted her head down and looked at Rikku with a sultry look, causing a small blush on the blonde’s face.  “I don’t want to know what she has to say.”

            Rikku grinned and inhaled deeply, making their bodies touch each other again.  She brought Paine into her and embraced her tightly once more.  



            “Rikku!  Brother, your little sister cut off her mike while I was talking to her,” Buddy exclaimed.  He wondered why there was no response so he looked at the captain’s seat and saw Brother heaving with sobs.  He had tissues stuffed up his nose and his eyes were puffed up.

            “She left me…again!”

            Buddy turned and looked at Shinra and they both sighed and shook their head.




A.N.  I suppose that is all for this chapter.  I know it was shorter but…well there is no excuse…just where I wanted to stop had less stuff.  Um, I guess that is really all I have to say…for those of you on break too…happiness towards ya and those who aren’t…some other kind of happiness towards ya.  R & R please, just to be kind!

Chapter 5

Title: Training

[Author's notes: um...still don't owe the people...places...yeah...okie dokie then.  here is a chapta...a fiveo]

Beware the fury of a patient man.
-         John Dryden




            “Hey Dr. P lookie here,” Rikku said as she pointed to a poster on the wall.  “It’s a fighting competition that is gonna be held right here in Luca.  ‘Winners get 100,000 gil and a year’s supply of Chocolate Moogle Coins.’  Ya know Paine, I would enjoy some of those Moogle Coins…mmm so chocolaty and delicious.”

            “Wipe the drool off your chin and look at what is below what you can win.”

             “Only couples may enter…that is a cute picture of Capt. Spira and his wife.”  Rikku just looked at the poster a little more.  “Oh…OH…I get it…like only couple couples, right?”

            Paine nodded and then slightly shook her head at the blonde’s slow comprehension process.  Rikku stepped back and put her hands on her hips and looked up towards Paine.  “So…what’s the problem?”

            The warrior’s eyes bulged a little and her cheeks tinted a pale pink.  “Rikku.  Um, we ca- we can’t enter that.  I mean you and me.”

            “It’s cause I’m Al Bhed isn’t it.  I knew it…I was sooo stuuupid to think-”

            “No, Rikku, it isn’t that you are Al Bhed it’s-”

            “I know Paine, I was just kidding.  Come on…it’ll be fun.  The competition only lasts a day and it isn’t like anyone will be there that we know personally.  Pleeeaase!  Whadya say Dr. P?  Come on!”

            The silver haired girl looked at the poster once more and pursed her lips.  “Well, I don’t know about you but I could always manage having some extra gil around.”

            Rikku smiled flamboyantly and squeezed the warrior in a monstrous hug.  Paine grinned and prayed that no one that they knew would be there; or if there was someone they knew, that she and Rikku wouldn’t lose to them.




            Aboard the Celsius, Rikku and Paine were on the deck sparring to get ready for the competition.  “Okay Rikku, with your speed you should be able to parry an attack and strike the person at least two or three more times.  So instead of stopping after the second strike, keep hitting them and then back away before they can counter.”

            Rikku nodded her head and lunged at Paine with her daggers gripped tightly in her fists.  Slicing a little too hard, she stumbled down from lack of balance and Paine moved in with her sword.  Halting, with the blade pressed against Rikku’s back, Paine stepped aside and lowered her weapon.  Rikku panted heavily and slammed her fists onto the floor.  “Aww, poopie.”

            Paine offered her hand to the thief, who accepted it.  She pulled her up to her feet and rested her sword on her shoulder.  “I’m sorry I keep tripping Paine.  I guess I must just be falling for you,” Rikku said as she tapped the warrior on the nose, smiling.

            The girl quickly cleared her throat, “Let’s just hope you don’t fall for anyone else out there.  If so then there will be trouble.”

            “For you or for them,” Rikku replied with a wink, hoping to catch the warrior off guard with her remark.

            Paine leaned in very close to Rikku’s face and she could feel the warrior’s breath on her lips.  “For them.”

            Herself being caught off guard, Rikku blushed profusely and giggled with nervousness.  “Now, Rikku, this time just stand back and wait for the opportune moment to strike.  Don’t rush in and commence the attack…be patient and let them come to you.  Ready?”

            The Al Bhed nodded and readied herself for the charging assault.  Paine circled her once and then dashed towards the thief with her sword raised.  Rikku evaded the attack and struck Paine three times before the girl swung back the hilt of her weapon and knocked Rikku off balance and to the ground with force.  Rikku looked up with a pouting face and crossed her arms.  “Kad ib meddma dreav...dryd'c hud jano palusehk uv oui.” (Get up little thief…that’s not very becoming of you.)
            “Cu fryd ev ed'c hud palusehk.  Oui red sa rynt yht dryd rind.” (So what if it’s not becoming.  You hit me hard and that hurt.)

            The warrior sighed while looking at the ground and then looked back at Rikku.  “Come, let’s take a small breather.  What do you say?  We’ve been up here for hours.”

            “Well, okay, but only after we spar for five more minutes; if I don’t fall down then we can take a break, but if I do we keep at it until I stay standing.  Agree Paine?”

            Glad the blonde was actually serious about her training for once; Paine agreed and turned on her mike.  “Buddy, cdyndehk huf, damm sa frah veja sehidac yna ib.” (Buddy, starting now, tell me when five minutes are up.)
            “Um…ymnekrd.” (Um…alright.)

            Rikku popped up off the floor and stood ready for Paine to attack.  The warrior ran towards her and drew her sword down for an overhead strike.  Rikku stopped the blade in between her two crossed daggers.  With Paine intent on driving the sword down, Rikku used the silver haired girl’s force to her advantage.  Guiding the sword swiftly to the floor, Rikku quickly sidestepped to Paine’s left and held a dagger behind the older girl’s ear.  She’s learning…heh, she got me…that was quick.

            Standing slowly from her hunched position, Paine rapidly rotated her arm around the blonde’s and created an arm bar to trap the girl in.  Pulling upwards on the arm, the pain caused Rikku to drop her dagger.  Realizing she had another one, she twirled it to reposition it and bring it down onto Paine.  Paine used her free hand to grab Rikku’s wrist with the weapon and she squeezed her pressure point until that too fell to the floor.  Still holding onto the wrist, she swung it over and around Rikku’s head behind her as she released the arm bar.  Thus causing her to be holding onto Rikku’s left wrist with her right hand and them to be facing at each other.  “Now that we’re both disarmed, let us see how you fair with hand to hand combat.”

            Rikku weaseled out of the vice grip that was bestowed on her by rotating her wrist to the outside of their bodies.  Reaching around with her right she initiated a punch to Paine’s stomach, only to be stopped halfway with a swiping forearm.  Paine then jabbed with her other hand and so began a long series of blocks and punches between the two.  Rearing back, collecting her strength for a second Paine unleashed a powerful strike towards Rikku’s stomach.  Rikku somersaulted back on her hands and then to her feet, ready for another powerful attempt by her friend.  Paine ran forward and front flipped high into the air and was coming down with one leg ready to heel Rikku through the deck.  “Eep!!”

            Rikku shrieked as she evaded the girl’s strong attack.  On the floor, Paine swept her leg around to knock Rikku off her feet.  The Al Bhed jumped and leaped over Paine whilst using the girl’s shoulders to shove her more towards the deck.  Paine captured Rikku’s hands, causing the girl to face plant into the Celsius’ deck floor.  “Owie.”

            The warrior rolled the thief over and sat on her with a knee on each side, keeping the blonde’s arms pinned to her sides.  “Well, Buddy hasn’t said time was up so I suppose we keep on working at it.”

            Rikku was panting hard and tried to wriggle her arms free.  Kashii “Sorry Paine, it has been six minutes sense you told me. I lost track of time.”

            Rikku smiled and in between labored breathing, “Heh, I guess I didn’t fail this little session, considering I just fell and it has been six minutes.  So Miss. I-made-Rikku-fall-face-first-into-the-floor, you can get off me and we can go on that break.”

            Shaking her head, Paine got off Rikku and the two began their way to door.  They picked their weapons up off the floor and walked toward the elevator; leaving behind blood, sweat, and plenty of dents, only to be reacquainted with as soon as their break was over.




A.N. Wow…ya know, I feel sorry for the Celsius.  I mean all it did was take them places and they gotta go dent it.  Hm, oh yeah, I changed from putting the Al Bhed translations at the end, to put them right after what was said.  I was thinking how I wouldn’t always want to scroll down to look at it if I dunno what it said.  Yeah, okay then…peas read dis and maybe find it in yer kidney to possibly review…maybe... eh? Eh?

Chapter 6

Title: Competition Pt 1

[Author's notes: A.N. Oh yeah…new chapter…heh, it has been a while…sorry.  Um, did ya know that by feeding hens certain dyes they can be made to lay eggs with multi-colored yolksYeah!!  Also if Wal-Mart was classified as a country, it would be the 24th most productive country in the world.  I would live in Wal-Mart…yeah I would…okay now that I enlightened you with some facts you may not have knew…onward!

The best policy is to declare victory and leave.
-         George Aiken




            “Okay just fill out the personal information at the top and stuff.  Then flip to the next page and read the liability note and sign it at the bottom.”

            Rikku looked up at the woman, “Liability?”

            “Yes ma’am, if something were to happen to you, by signing that it says you agree not to sue and that you are fighting in this competition at your own risk.”

            Rikku made a face and grabbed the papers to sit down to fill them out.  Paine sat beside her on the bench and wrote in the answers for the registration papers.  “Hey Dr. P…what did you put down for weight,” Rikku asked, leaning over to sneak a peek.

            Paine leaned away from the blonde and scoffed, “Mind your own business, Rikku.”

            “Oh come on!  Please Paine!  I’ll show you mine.”

            “I don’t want to know yours.  Now get back on your side.”

            Rikku was laid across Paine, reaching for the clipboard with the papers on it.  Paine was fending the girl off until a familiar voice made Rikku jump off of her.  At the registration counter were Tidus and Yuna getting their papers. ((Now who saw THAT coming?))  Tidus was complaining about having to fill everything out as Yuna just held onto his arm and tried to quiet him down.  She whispered something into his ear and he shut up almost instantly.  Rikku looked worriedly towards Paine who just nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders and continued filling out her form.  Ah, man…this is just disasterrific.  I can’t believe they are here!  I never believed Yunie would want to fight in this competition…not to mention Tidus agreeing to it too.  Okay Rikku…pull it together.  You are Paine are just friends who wanted to compete in a competition to win some Gil and Moogle Coins.  Mmm Moogle Coins…OH…right…just friends.  Okay…calm down.

            Rikku exhaled and sat down next to the warrior who was done filling out the form.  Continuing where she left off she noticed her hand shaking.  Mentally telling herself to calm down again, she finished filling the info out and signed the liability note.  Paine and Rikku stood up and walked to the counter to turn in the papers.  “Okay then ladies, now just walk over to that green box over there, reach in and grab a number, then tell the man sitting next to it your number and he will write down the bracket you’re in.  Good luck!”

            Paine let Rikku pick the number and the piece of paper came out with the number five on it.  Handing it to the man, he took it and smiled sloppily towards the Al Bhed as an eyebrow raised.  “Well, that puts you against…Dvacka and Raztidow.  It will be the third battle so better start warming up.  The show starts in about an hour and a half,” said the grey haired man as he was checking out Rikku. 

Paine rolled her eyes as she grabbed Rikku by the hand.  Responding with a dark tone, “Thanks.”

“Wow, that guy was kinda creepy, ya know?”

“I thought he was going to pounce on you for a minute there.”

Rikku leaned up against Paine and placed her hands on the warrior’s hips, “No one will get close, as long as you’re here.”

A tint of pink covered Paine’s cheeks and she let out an exasperated sigh.  Tidus and Yuna were on their way towards the table so Paine quickly removed the thief’s hands from their position and stepped back whilst clearing her throat, nodding towards the couple.  Rikku pouted for a second but remembered she told herself they were just friends.  How it pained the thief to let that statement run through her head.  Just friends…  “Rikku?  Paine?  What’re you two doing here,” Yuna inquired with a perplexed look.

“We a,” Rikku swallowed, “we…we’re here to fight!”

Paine stepped up from behind the thief and stood next to her.  Yuna’s eyes opened really wide, “are-are you two dating?”

Rikku and the warrior looked at each other before Rikku cheerily answered, “Well, Yunie, what do YOU think?”

Unsure of what to say, Yuna just stood with a dumbfounded look on her face.  Tidus’ face was pretty red at this point so he quickly turned Yuna towards the table with the number drawing.  He guided his girlfriend to the table but before he talked to the guy he looked Rikku up and down with an odd grin.  “Perve.”


“He just checked you out…not to mention his face got redder than Ifrit’s backside when Yuna asked if we were going out.  That little grin of his obviously isn’t directed toward a non-vulgar way.”

Knowing that Paine was right, Rikku just grinned and nodded.  Turning back to Yuna and Tidus, she winked towards the boy and raised an eyebrow as she grabbed Paine’s hand and moved it around behind her tan back.  Snaking her own hand around Paine’s waist she led them to a dim, secluded place to begin warming up.




            “Alright Ladies and Gents of Spira, today we hold the annual competition of the most vicious of couples!  For the next few hours there will be punches, kicks, badmouthing, and diiiirty fighting!  Now if you kill your opponent you will be disqualified but don’t let that stop you from winning!  Hah hah, just kidding folks, these battles will be refereed and any conduct thinking to be overly dangerous will result in disqualification.  There will be a total of fifteen battles today with thirty-two combatants and only one couple will win the grand prize.  Now, let’s introduce the competitors!  In the first round it will be Ara and Tal going against Cheryth and Dryden!  The second battle will involve Aidan and her lover Nuriel battling for the win against Nixie and Varon!  Rikku and Paine will duke it out against Raztodow and Dvacka for the third exciting battle and Ziv and Svetlana will compete against Harkyn and Melantha for the fourth battle.  Moving on to the frivolous fifth battle, Hania and Tait will fight against Keitoaro and Ceinwen!  Ailith and Raynor team up for the sixth struggle to take on Sage and Vivek!  Our former High Summoner and her beau, Tidus, will battle Atifa and Knud for the seventh battle!  Now last but surely not least, Ekon and Chasina will begin the eighth battle against Commander Lucil and Elma!  The first battle will begin in fifteen minutes!  Will Ara, Tal, Dryden, and Cheryth please come onto the fighting platform and we will begin shortly?”

            The crowd roared in excitement as the four first competitors walked up to the platform.  The stage was as big as a Blitz ball field and on it were a total of five stone, square structures placed strategically around the area.  Ara and Tal stood atop one square stretching out their arms and legs.  On the square directly across from the first couple were Dryden and Cheryth taking slow deep breaths whilst holding hands.  Red paint colored the box Ara and Tal stood on while Blue paint colored the box Dryden and Cheryth were on.

            “Hey Paine…those were a lot of fighters…ya think we can beat them all?”

            Paine turned around and looked Rikku square in the eye with an amused look.  Smirking, Paine whispers to the thief, “Don’t worry about it.  I’m sure if we don’t win then all of those tasty…chocolaty…melt in your mouth, year’s supply of Moogle Coins will find an owner more grateful to them.”

            Rikku’s mouth was agape with drool sliding off her chin.  She shook her head and raised a fist to the air, “Ah hah!  We’ll win this tournament!”

            “The time has arrived people and here is the show you’ve all been waiting for!  On the red box are Tal and Ara!  And on the blue box are Dryden and Cheryth!  To win a battle, both people in one couple must agree to giving up, one of you step out of bounds, serious injury will cause the team to forfeit, both combatants are unable to fight, or if you are overly dangerous, the ref will make the call, you’ll be disqualified!  Any questions?  If not, then let the FIGHT BEGIN!”

            Ara and Tal quickly jumped off their box and walked in an intimidating way towards the blue square.  Dryden and Cheryth stood emotionless, weapons in hand.  Dryden held two long swords in each of his huge fists.  Cheryth detained a rapier in her left hand.  Ara and Tal both held onto their double sided axes with such prestige that they looked as if one with the axes and each other.  Stopping in the middle of the stage, Ara and Tal stood ready for the other couple to move.  Dryden and Cheryth both seemed to look as if in a trace.  Their dark hair blew around their stern faces; they didn’t even blink when it slapped them.  Tal and Ara showed slight panic at the weird behavior shown by the other two fighters. 

            The crowd’s yelling was quieted down now at the lack of action going on between the four people.  Half of the viewers whispered to see what was going on at the moment and the other half hushed them in order to see outcome.

            Ara blinked and furrowed her eyebrows when she heard something she didn’t believe.  Cautiously, she padded her way to the blue box and around it, behind the couple.  Tal just stood, ready to charge if his lover was attacked.  Ara climbed up on the box and leaned her head in between the two.  She smirked and called for the referee.  The man in black and white stripes jogged over to where they stood and climbed the box.  “Yes ma’am?”

            “They…they must be narcoleptic.  See for yourself…they’re sleeping sir.”

            The ref laughed aloud and raised his hand after leaning in.  Speaking into his mike, “Since these two are obviously unable to fight, I declare Ara and Tal the winners!” 

            As if on cue, Dryden and Cheryth blinked their open eyes and raised their weapons to charge down at Tal.  Tal stood ready to beat some ass when the ref yelled into his intercom, “HEY!  YOU TWO ARE OUT!”

            The raven haired couple stopped mid step and looked back in disbelief.  The ref explained everything to them and they threw their weapons to the floor and stomped off, most utterly embarrassed.  “Well, take a look at that folks!  Seems Cheryth and Dryden both suffer from narcolepsy!  What a time for it to kick in!  Heh heh, what a shame!  Ara and Tal move up into the next bracket!  Next up for this tournament are…Aidan and Muriel versus Varon and Nixie!  Come on over you four!”




A.N.  Yay, chapter done!  If any of you are narcoleptic I am NOT making fun of you.  I just felt like doing something off the wall for the first battle.  Also when reading the announcer’s voice…I kinda figured it to be like the guy’s from DBZ who did the Cell games.  Yeah…I feel dorkish for figuring his voice to be like that but…oh well.  Read and review please!

Chapter 7

Title: Competition Pt 2

[Author's notes: Yeah...I am finally updating...this is just a short chapter to get me back in the mode of writing...the next chapter should be a lot longer.]

In youth we learn; in age we understand. Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach ---------------------------------------- 


            Aidan and Nuriel were clad in fire red ensembles, each carrying a flaming sword.  Varon and Nixie were dressed in cerulean blue attire and each carried a sword engulfed in what seemed to be the essence of water.  The two couples stood on their designated stone boxes and waited for the ref to say when the fight would begin. 


            “Here we go people of Spira!  The second match starts, the fiery, young couple of Aidan and Nuriel versus the matured, torrent strength of Varon and Nixie!  Who shall emerge victorious?!  Begin!”


            Aidan, a young spitfire, rushed toward Nixie with her flame brand high in the air.  Nixie tightened her grip on her sword, her aged hands popped under the taut pressure.  Aidan reached the ashy haired woman and leaped high onto the stone block.  Slicing down, she attempted to end the battle quickly and severely wound her opponent with an attack to her clavicle.  Not being new to the fighting game, Nixie side-stepped her attacker and hit the young woman with the hilt of her sword and knocked her off the block.  Giving chase, she agilely front flipped off the box and stood ready for another attack.


            Meanwhile, Nuriel and Varon were crossing swords on the other side of the arena.  Metal met metal, fire met water, and youth met maturity.  The swords would steam as the flame brand met the watery essence of Varon’s weapon.  Nuriel was obviously stronger than his opponent, yet what he had in strength, he lacked in experience.  Similarities went for Nixie and Aidan; Aidan may have had speed, but Nixie could read her every move.


            The battle raged, the element of Ifirit versus the element of Levethanian.  Nuriel swiped his blade and singed the hairs of Varon’s graying beard.  Satisfied he almost hit Varon, he dropped his guard for a fraction of a second.  Having read his challenger’s posture, Varon side shuffled into Nuriel and slammed the hilt of his sword under the young man’s chin as hard as he could, rendering the lad unconscious.


            Nixie and Aidan fought diligently, each wanting the win so badly they fought even harder than they thought possible.  Running and slashing horizontally, Nixie tried to land a hit on the back flipping Aidan.  On the fourth back flip, Aidan’s hand slipped from sweat and she fell to the floor stunned.  Nixie raised her blade and brought it forcefully down.  Aidan swiftly rolled to the side and swept the older woman’s legs out from under her.  The woman’s water brand was tossed a few meters out of reach.  Having turned the tables, Aidan smiled smugly.  Raising her own weapon, she was going to end this for good.  Her searing blade came crashing down; Nixie raised her arm, getting ready for intense pain, but then…the hiss of a fire being doused by water could be heard.  Varon prevented his wife from any harm by blocking Aidan’s sword with his own.  Pushing the young girl’s sword away and causing her to falter back, he handed Nixie her weapon that was once oh so far away.  The seasoned couple stood side-by-side and raised their swords.  With hers in her left hand and his in his right hand, they both pointed their blades at their opponent.  Her right palm and his left palm met and they chanted together, razor sharp points still aimed at the girl.  Soon the blades of the swords elongated and strong, rushing water could be heard whirling its way around the swords.


            “Give up girl…unless you really think you can handle this,” Varon taunted with a deep, throaty voice and a smirk.


            “I-I…I…,” Aidan sighed and tossed down her sword, “I give in…you two win, but next time my boyfriend and I will prevail…don’t think you’ve seen the last of me and Nuriel.”


            “Yeah, whatever kid.  Just go get your man and leave.”

             “…and the winners are…the veterans, Varon and Nixie!  What a fight!  But don’t go too far folks; the next battle will be happening soon.  Will Rikku, Paine, Raztodow, and Dvacka please come to the fighting arena?  Your match will begin soon!”--------------------------------------------------             “You hear that Painey?!  We are so totally up next!  Weeee, this is going to be so great!”                        Paine grabbed the bouncing Rikku by the shoulders and forced her to stay still.  Looking into her eyes, “Rikku…remember…this may be a public fight, but it is still a fight nonetheless.  It’s dangerous so be careful and remember what we trained for.  Be patient, don’t go rushing in there Rikku…and remember your speed…keep that in mind too.”                        “Aw come on…I’ve been in plenty of fights before and-“             “Yes but we weren’t fighting for,” Paine leaned in close to Rikku’s ear and whispered, “chocolate Moogle Coins.”             Rikku tilted her head in because the warrior’s breath tickled her ear, and she smiled.  “You’re right Dr. P.  Those scrumptious Moogle Coins’ lives are on the line.  Just like the early bird gets the worm…the best fighters get the coins.  Where there’s a will there’s a way.  Those coins got a date with destiny and we have to be there to meet them.  Teach your man how to fish and there’s no I in TEAM.”             “What?”             “Oh…sorry Paine…heh heh, I was on a roll with some nifty sayings…and I -”  “Let’s just head for the arena before I hurt you,” Paine said shaking her head with a tiny smirk. 

            Rikku “eeped” and followed Paine closely to the fighting floor where the ref was waiting with the other two fighters.


A.N. Okies, that's all for now...thanks for reading and please review to lemme know what you think or to share suggestions.  Later

Chapter 8

Title: Part 3 of the Competition

[Author's notes: Um...just like to say thanks to those who have means a lot...and...on with the action!! XOXO]

‘Tis my opinion every man cheats in his own way, and he is only honest who is not discovered.

 Susannah Centlivre


            “Attention please everyone!  Our next battle starts with members of the Gullwings, Paine and Rikku, and the young couple of Raztodow and Dvacka.  Let’s get it on!!!” 

            Rikku tightened her grip on her daggers and waited patiently, like Paine said, for her opponent to attack first.  “Paine… drao ynah'd tuehk yhodrehk.  Tu fa gaab uin bucedeuh?”  (Paine…they aren't doing anything.  Do we keep our position?)

             “Hah hah!  Look at them Dva!  They are too afraid to attack us first!  Look at the one with short hair!  She is shaking in her little boots!  Bah hah hah!  Look DEAR!  Look at them,” yelled Raztodow boisterously.

             “Raz…shh.  Don’t take them likely…I’ve seen them fight before.  They shouldn’t be underestimated.  The one in black has strength and has extreme battle smarts.  The little one…she’s quick…possibly quicker than I.  Though she seems innocent, she has seen her share of battles….I’m sure.”

             “Gnah…whatever Dva, lets beat the shit outta em.  Damn pussies…HAH literally Dva!  That was a good one that I jus-”

             “Damnit Raz!  Shut up!  Don’t underestimate them,” yelled Dvacka hitting her boyfriend on the back of the head.

             “Ow…fine…let’s just fight,” pouted Raztodow rubbing his head. 

              Dva front flipped off the block and ran towards Rikku.  Raz jumped off the block and landed with a loud thud; his huge size made indentations under his feet where he landed.  He stomped off towards Paine with his burly fists tightened.  “Damn fools, they have Dva’s respect…only I should have her respect…time to feel pain dykes!”

             Reaching Rikku, Dvacka raised her chakram and sliced downwards.  Crossing her blades quickly, Rikku managed to block the attack.  Wow, this chick is pretty fast.  I better stay on my toes. Dva pulled back and lunged again at a dodging Rikku.  Wah!  That was a close one!  She’s good. 

            “DAMNIT!  STAND STILL, YOU,” Raz shouted. 

            Paine rolled to the side to avoid the monstrous swing of the giant man.  Standing behind him, she brought down the blade of her sword with extreme force.  Reaching behind his head, he clapped his hands together and managed to trap the blade between his palms.  Raztodow pulled upwards and threw the sword and its owner over his head.  Paine landed on her side and scrambled quickly to her feet.  Damn, he’s extremely strong.  He’s strong but not that bright…and slow at times.  I wonder.  My speed is enough for him…but Rikku’s…it would annihilate him.  How’s she doing?  Paine glances at Rikku and sees the girl take an elbow to the stomach.  Rikku!  Eragh, I’ve trained with Rikku enough to know how to fight against speed…which that girl has plenty of.  Time for a partner switch.

              “Rikku!  Cfedlr baubma!” (Switch people!)

              “Fryd, fro?’ (What, why?)

             “Ev oui tuh'd vekina ed uid po dra aht uv dra vekrd E'mm damm oui yvdan!” (If you don't figure it out by the end of the fight I'll tell you after!)

             Rikku nodded and ran towards Paine and Raz.  Dva followed closely behind her.  Lifting up her weapon she threw it at Rikku who was stopped beside Paine, facing Raztodow.  Just as the chakram was a foot from Rikku’s temple, Paine ricocheted it off her sword with a swift motion.  The chakram flew right back at its owner with blazing speed.  Surprised, Dva’s eyes widened and she barely got out of the way of the airborne weapon.  The chakram then hit the stone block and fell to the ground.  Paine smirked and sauntered toward the girl in an intimidating like way with her sword on her shoulder.             Though not knowing what the clank behind her was, Rikku just kept her gaze on the huge being in front of her.  “Heh heh…seems I was too much for your girlfriend to handle.  What you need is a man, missy.  A big, strong man to protect you and keep you warm when it’s cold.  To watch over you and make sure nothing happens to you.” 

            “What?!  Let me guess, a big, strong man like you.  Right?” 

            “Well, I’m happily taken, but I got plenty of friends that could take care of you and keep you safe.” 

            “Listen buddy, what she can do and does for me is more than what any man can do for me.  She protects me, watches over me, and can keep me warm.  She’s my best friend…she’s…..” Rikku lowers her voice to a whisper, “my everything now…” 

            “Eh?  What was that?” 

            “Nothing fathead!  Come on!”

             Raz yelled and charged at the thief.  Rikku easily dodged his attacks and managed to get in close and strike him in the ribs.  She avoided punch after punch and countered with swift strikes to the face, ribs, kidneys, and knees.  The battered Raz then began swinging wildly and purely by chance, clipped her.  Losing her footing, Rikku stumbled and Raz whapped her hard on the head.  Crumpling to the ground, Rikku whimpered.  Hearing her cry, Paine stopped her fight with Dva and looked at Rikku upon the ground with the large man above her panting angrily.  NO!  Dva then punched Paine hard on the cheek, causing the warrior to stumble backwards.  As the other girl tried to follow up with another lightning quick attack, Paine used her training and moved to the left and grabbed the girl’s wrist and pulled her forward into the ground.  Paine then turned back to Rikku.  Raz was hovering over her, laughing.  Paine’s eyebrows furrowed and she reared back her sword and threw it at the man who easily rivaled Bartello’s size.  The sword pierced through the air and found its way into Raztodow’s thigh. 

            “Eragh,” Raztodow screamed in pain.  The man hunched over and squeezed his eyes shut.  Rikku opened her eyes and blinked away her blurred vision.  Seeing Paine’s sword imbedded in the man’s thigh, she smiled.  Always watching over me.  Shaking her head, she rolled over to her side, pulled back and kicked Raz hard in the chest with her right foot and then the face with her left foot.  The burly man fell back fast to the ground.  Dust spiraled up around him as he connected with rock, hard Spira.  He was covered in dirt, bruises, scratches, and blood from Paine’s sword and Rikku’s cuts with her daggers.  He laid there and started to reach for a potion.  Rikku kicked his hand with the vial in it, causing it to shatter.  She then pulled out Paine’s sword from the muscular thigh, making him scream out in agony.

             “Give up,” Rikku ordered simply, leaning over and holding her dagger to his face firmly.

             Raztodow winced and yelled, “Dva! DVA!  H-help me.”            

            Dva heard her boyfriend’s cries but couldn’t do anything to help him.  This warrior has had the upper hand since she pulled her into the ground.  It was like she knew every move she was going to do next.  Even her speed wasn’t helping her gain the upper hand, if anything her speed was being her downfall.  Whenever she would strike, Paine would dodge it and counter attack the second quick attack.  There was no way for her to win… was there?  And now with Raz on his back over there…there was nothing she could do.  But she knew this would happen…she has seen these two fight before.  They move beautifully…they know how to use their opponent’s skills against them.  Heh, Raz and I were lucky they weren’t fighting side-by-side.  If so, we’d been out of this fight a long time ago…they know how the other fights and choreograph, it seems, the battle.  I’ve guess we’ve postponed this long enough.  “I QUIT!”


            Paine stops her sword inches from the girl’s shoulder.  Stepping back she nods slightly.  “Raz!  Give up!”


            Raztodow, with Rikku’s blade still to his cheek, squished his face like a little kid and turned his head to the side.  “F-fine…I GIVE UP!”


            Rikku stood up straight and smiled with her head tilted to the right.  “But really girl, you should get yourself a man.  A man can do so much more for you.”


            Rikku’s smile faded into a look of hatred and her nostrils flared slightly.  “Yeah, just like you did for your girlfriend.”  She then kicked him solidly in the ribs and walked towards the warrior.  Her warrior…she knew Paine had to have feelings for her too.  Otherwise she would have protested against this little competition.  It was all a matter of getting Paine to admit it.  Which she would…Rikku would make sure of that.


            The ref came up between Rikku and Paine and held up each their hands.  The crowd roared in satisfaction.  Rikku beamed brightly and Paine smirked with a raised eyebrow looking around.  Rikku then bounced next to Paine and grabbed the girl’s face and pulled her into a very brief kiss.  The crowd yelled even louder and whistled.  Pushing back Paine’s face, Rikku smiled seductively.  “We have to make it seem like we are really a couple.”


            Paine’s face had reddened and her stern eyes had softened at Rikku’s remark.  The girl was right.  They did have to make it believable…otherwise they could be thrown out of the tournament.  Paine tilted her head forward with a small grin.  Rikku beamed again and her heart began beating even faster than it did during the small kiss.  Taking the warrior’s gloved hand in hers; the Al Bhed then led herself and Paine under the stadium so they could recuperate. 


“Wow!  What a battle and a passionate couple!  Hah hah, but things can only get better as we near the championship battle!  As the grounds crew removes the fallen Raztodow, will the next fighters please come up?  Will Ziv, Svetlana, Harkyn, and Melantha please come to the stage?”




            “Man Paine!  We totally whipped their butts from the start!  It was all fwish fwish pow boom boom,” exclaimed a very excited Rikku punching at air.


            “I don’t know Rikku…as I recall…you were on the ground in the fetal position near the end there.”


            “Psh, a minor detail Painey poo!  We still so totally won!”


            Paine cleared her throat at the nickname and shook her head.  “Yeah, whatever you say.”


            “Yeah, that’s right.  WhatEVER I say!  Hm, and right now I say I have to go to the little Rikku’s room.  All this fighting has got me excited-”


            “Just like a dog when company comes over, huh?  So excited they piss all over themselves.”


            “Hah hah hah…you are so funny,” Rikku said in a monotone voice.  “I hope you make a career as a stand up comedian.”


            “Why would I need to be a stand up comedian when I could do it just as well sitting down?”


            “There you go again!  One of these days everybody is going to know how truly funny you are,” Rikku said, already on her way to the bathroom.

             The silver haired girl just watched the thief as she took a right into the corridor.  One of these days…everyone…how truly funny I am.  Do I want that?  Or do I just want her to know how funny I can be?  To make her comfortable…I don’t want to be who I was.  I want…her to like me.  Even if I had to change, I’d change a hundred times just so she would enjoy my presence.  But…what happens if I push her away?  How many times would it take before she never would come back?  Rikku…I can’t tell you what I truly feel…not yet…I don’t want you to be afraid of me.  I need to hold these emotions in a long as possible…because you may not feel the same way…and if you know I like you…our friendship may never recover. 



            Rikku finished washing her hands and grabbed some paper towels.  Throwing them away, she hummed “Real Emotion” and walked out of the bathroom.  Someone then grabbed her and tossed her against the wall.  Ready to get crazy on them she balled up her fists and was ready to let lose until she saw who it was.  “Tidus?”


            Tidus leaned back with his hands behind his head and smiled.  “That was some fight you two had out there earlier.  You two must have been training hard.”


            Not feeling comfortable, Rikku just nodded.  “Oh come on now Rikku.  After all we’ve been through, you can’t even give me a one word answer?  Hm, alright, I’m not going to beat around the bush…I still like you Rikku…I want to…have something with you.”


            Rikku’s eyes widened and she shook her head.  “B-but Paine and I… and Yunie and…and”


            “Come on…we both know you and Paine just entered for the prize.  You two aren’t really together.  Y’all are just using each other to get something.  Oh, and that kiss, pretty hot…way to play it up…it looked as if y’all actually cared for each other.”


            Rikku wanted to yell.  She wanted to tell him they do have feelings for each other.  She wanted to say they weren’t using each other.  She wanted to do and say so much, but instead she just stood there…not being able to move.  “And as for Yuna…she’s a nice girl but…we had something Rikku…you can’t deny that,” Tidus said soothingly as he touched her cheek.  “We had chemistry and raw emotion.  Don’t tell me I’m the only one who felt it.”


            “But-but Yunie, she went to the ends of Spira to find you!  She risked her life, ours as well, to find you and bring you back.  She loves you.”


            “I love her too…but that doesn’t mean I can’t love you also.  You and I connected in a way that Yuna and I haven’t yet.  We were just meant for each other.  Remember, it was you who I met first…not Yuna.  We were meant to be together.”


            Tidus moved closer to Rikku who lowered her head and closed her eyes.  Searching her heart…did they have something those years ago?  Did they have raw emotion?  Could the feeling for him she thought was hate actually not be hate?  What did she feel?




            Paine looked at the huge clock on the announcement tower and noticed that Rikku has taken a little too long to have just gone the bathroom.  The warrior stood up and walked to the corridor to see if the young girl was okay.




            “You feel it…don’t you Rikku?  You understand what I’m talking about.” 


            Tidus cupped her face.  Rikku, still with her eyes closed, tried to sort out what it was she is feeling.  Who is it I really like?  Who do I want?  All of a sudden she felt a pair of duck-like lips on hers.  Is this what she wanted?  Does she like this?  A face.  A face formed in her mind, but it is too dark to see who it is.  The face slowly became clearer.




            Paine turned down the corridor and came upon the stairs that went down towards the bathrooms.




            It was the face of a warrior.  A certain leather clad warrior with gorgeous, silver hair, toned body, and crimson eyes.


            Tidus kept his lips pressed tightly against Rikku’s and began to open his mouth.  No.  NO!  This isn’t what I want!  This isn’t who I want!  “NO!”


            Rikku broke away from the kiss and stepped back.  Rubbing away at her lips forcefully like an unseen virus had embedded itself there, she began to cry.  “No!  I hate you, Tidus!  I hate you!  I’ve never felt anything more for you than pity!  And now… I don’t even feel that.  You are nothing to me.  You hear that?!  Nothing!  And I do have feelings for Paine!”  Rikku kept stepping backwards as she yelled.  “I like her a whole lot!  She’s been there for me!  She’s been real towards me!  I like her for her…and best of all…she likes me for me.  I know if I have no where to run she will be there.  I used to think Yunie was that person…the one for me to run to…but now…I know that it never was her.  It has always been Paine…since the day we first met.  The evening at the Moonflow…with the pyre flies.  Since then…it has always been her for me to turn just took me this long to realize it…and that sickening kiss, for me to finally understand.”




            Paine heard, what seemed to be Rikku’s voice, screaming.  She quickened her pace down the stairs and reached the bottom.           


            Rikku turned around to run up the steps and ran right into Paine.  Paine caught the girl and gently pushed her back to look into her eyes.  Those emerald eyes…with the Al Bhed trademark of spiral pupils were moist and red.  Rikku forced herself onto Paine and hugged her tightly as she cried on her shoulder.  The warrior wrapped her arms around the younger girl’s waist and glanced up at Tidus.  There, he stood.  His frizzy blonde hair with split ends, stupid uneven shorts…. stupid, uneven, short shorts, his duck lip, and his damn cocky smile.  All of which she hated even more.  Paine wasn’t one to hate people…no, she was one who just avoided someone she didn’t get along with.  But Tidus, she could honestly say she hated.  For reasons, she reckoned were because of the way he treated Rikku, she wanted to kick his ass right there in the corridor.  Leave him battered and bruised…and yes…even for dead.  But she’d have her chance soon enough…no doubt they would be in the championship battle…not a doubt in her mind.  She’d wait until then…he would pay.


            “Come on Rikku, there’s nothing here in this hallway.”


            Rikku pulled away and wiped her eyes.  Holding onto Paine’s hand, they turned up the stairs and left Tidus alone.  Tidus watched the two leave hand in hand and it turned his stomach.  He growled underneath his breath and went up the stairs to find Yuna, a safe pace behind the two girls.




            “Paine…I’m sorry.  I’m-“


            “Rikku, there is nothing for you to apologize for.  What did he say to you?”


            “He said he still likes me…he said that we had raw emotion and-and that I shouldn’t be near you, just him.  Paine I’m so sorry!  I-I don’t know why he would do this.  Why would he do something like this?”


            Paine bit her lip.  “I can’t tell you why, Rikku…but if you feel for him, the way he apparently feels for you…then,” Paine’s voice was full of sorrow and her expression was one of grief, “I guess…”


            Rikku’s heart felt as if it was trampled by a shoopuff.  She shook her head vehemently and hugged Paine tightly.  “Please Paine…,” Rikku whispered barely audible, “don’t give up on me.”


            Paine’s chest tightened.  Rikku, I’d never give up on you, I’d always be there for you.  She pulled Rikku in closer and placed her hand on the back of the thief’s neck protectively.  They stayed there like that for a few minutes until Rikku stepped back and sniffed.  She then punched Paine in the stomach.  “What the hell was that for,” Paine said covering where she was just hit.


            “You let me go to the bathroom alone.  I could have been hinting for a hot make-out session in the little Rikku’s room but noooo…you stayed up here.”


            The older girl squinted her eyes and stood with her mouth slightly agape.  She then smirked and raised her head.  “Well, as I recall I was on my way down to the little Rikku’s room, maybe I was just playing hard to get, and maybe I just like to see you wait.”


            Rikku pouted…how is it she can do that…just…make her feel so…so…oh what is the word?  The Al Bhed tongued her cheek as Paine raised an eyebrow.  The warrior then tilted her head and walked past Rikku to the fighters’ warm up arena.  Rikku stood there for a second watching her.  Was she swaying her hips on purpose?  That little tease…she knows I like her…doesn’t she?  Hm, maybe…maybe not.  Rikku beamed a grand smile and jogged to catch up with Paine.  As she ran passed her she slapped her hard on the ass.  Paine’s eyes widened.  Ouch!  Rikku shook out the pain in her right hand as she continued to sprint towards the room.  The sound of heels on marble floor could be heard behind her.  Rikku turned her head to see the silver haired girl gaining on her with an evil glint in her eye.  Panicking, she ran as fast as she could possibly go.  The heels behind her came closer.  How can she be faster than me?  She is going to get me before I reach the doors!  Paine had cast haste on herself in order to catch up with the blonde.  Otherwise, this chase wouldn’t have been as close.  Just as Rikku reached the doors Paine pinned her against them, with haste upon her, her breathing was notably quickened.  With every breathe Paine drew in, Rikku felt her breasts gently graze her back.  Rikku’s eyes were now lidded and she bit her lip with a grin.  Paine turned the young girl around, noticing her flushed face.  Her eyes were intense, her lips pouty, her cheeks reddened, her breathing uneven.  Oh God…Rikku’s in heat!!  Rikku’s new lascivious look caused Paine to blush…to the extreme. 


            Paine swallowed hard, “You’re it…”


            Rikku lessened the space between them as she leaned closer to speak softly into Paine’s ear.  “Ya know,” Rikku nipped Paine’s ear softly, “I could really care less at this point.”

             Paine released a shuddered breath.  Even for Rikku…this bisexual humor was crossing the line.  The warrior noticed her reflection on the glass door.  Her usually pale face was now deeply flushed, her crimson eyes were wide, and a thin veil of sweat covered her features.  She still felt Rikku biting at her ear.  Rikku is just playing around…just making it look like we’re really together.  She isn’t really into me…but even so…doesn’t mean I can’t play it up too.  Let’s just see how far the little blonde will take this.               Paine smirked and raised an eyebrow.  Placing her hands on the thief’s shoulders, she gently, yet forcefully, pushed the girl back against the doors.  Rikku’s eyes were still dazed as she looked up at the warrior.  Paine bent down and pulled away at Rikku’s scarf with her teeth.  Kissing her neck gently, Paine was sure Rikku would snap out of it any second.  The Al Bhed’s breathing increased, her eyes closed, mouth opened, and her eyebrows raised slightly as she tilted her head.  She just gave me the okay…SHE JUST GAVE ME THE OKAY?!  No, no, no, no…she’s is supposed to push me away and say ‘No, Paine!’    

            Now embarrassed by what she was doing, Paine bit Rikku’s neck to subtly jolt her back into reality.  “Paine!”


            Rikku stepped away from the glass doors and was readjusting her scarf.  Paine noticed the outline of perspiration on the door and smiled to herself.  “What,” she said, standing up straight.


            Rikku thought for a moment…this is what she wanted…to have Paine show emotion towards her…to have Paine hold her…to admit that she had feelings for her.  If she said something now, then it might make her recoil back into her black little shell.  She couldn’t have that…even if the bite did sting a little…she’d get through it and continue on her plan to make Paine pour her unadulterated feelings out to her.  Rikku inwardly nodded and grabbed Paine’s hand.  She smiled up at her, “Nothing Painey poo.  Come on…let’s go inside the warm up arena.”

             Paine allowed the girl to lead her into the large room.  She never ceases to amaze me…but I wonder why…she didn’t say anything about what just happened.  That isn’t like her to be quiet about something.   



            “Oh my God did you just hear that?”


            “No, hear what?”


            “Harkyn and Melantha just got disqualified!  They were using excessive force.”


            “Oh man!  I figured something like that was going to happen!  I’m just surprised that they didn’t make the call sooner.”


            “What do you mean?”


            “I was watching the fight before I came down here to warm up.  When it started, Harkyn ran full force towards Ziv and started pounding on him.  I swear the guy didn’t have a chance.  Harkyn was hitting him with cheap shots to the face and back and stuff.  Now I’m talking hard punches, the kind of punching where your face looks like you’re constipated and whatnot!  Oh, and the girl…Melantha…she was kicking the shit out of Svetlana!  Boom, pow, whammy!  Just knocking the crap outta her.  I could’ve sworn the two were going to get some broken bones.  I reckon the refs cut Ziv and Svetlana a break on this one.  That fight should’ve gone to the other two hands down, no doubt about it.  Whoever goes against them in the quarter-finals is going to have an easy time.  Heh, Sin, even I could smack the crap out of that couple.  Then again I guess any ol’ couple could’ve entered.  Like that Varon and Nixie, they are ancient looking and…”

             So the dark couple went and got themselves eliminated.  That leaves the “easy” couple for Rikku and me to take care of.  At least I can conserve my energy for Tidus’ beating.   

            Rikku crept around to the other side of Paine, “Whoa, did you get all that Dr. P?”


            Paine nodded.  “Looks like we just got ourselves a shoopuff’s ticket to Easyville,” Rikku smiled and leaned back with her hands behind her head.


            The warrior poked in the stomach, “Let’s not get too sure of ourselves, they may have just been playing around.”


            Rikku grunted with a pouty look on her face, “You sure know how to take a girl’s good news away.”


            “I try…no really, I do,” Paine said in her usual monotone voice.


            The two girls walked to an empty corner with mats on the floor.  Paine turned on her intercom, “Brother?”


            “What,” he said agitated, “All My Hypello is on right now,”


            Paine gave a quizzical look to blushing Rikku.  “It’s his favorite soap.”


            “Well, I’m sure Shinra has an empty sphere, go and record it, but right now I want you to start watching the competition.”


            “Why would I want to see people beat each other senseless?”


            “Because Yuna will be fighting…and if Tidus is suddenly knocked unconscious, Yuna will need you to come in and save her.”


            “Yuna?!  Oh our love so pure!  I will watch just for you!!!”


            Paine positioned herself down on the mat and closed her eyes.  Rikku stood there confused.  Paine placed her hands behind her head and yawned, “Brother will now watch the fight and when Yuna and Tidus win their match he will yell about how courageous and magnificent she is.  This is when his squawking will wake us up and we can begin warming up for our next battle, quite refreshed”


            “Heh, the Brother Alarm System, complete with witty remarks, gas, and absolute Yunie obsession,” Rikku chuckled as she sprawled out next to Paine.  Using her hand to prop her head up, she gazed at the older girl with much admiration.


            “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t stare at me while I sleep.”


            Rikku smiled and curled up into Paine.  Placing her hand on a pale stomach, Rikku played with the strap until she fell into a content sleep.

Chapter 9

Title: New Poster Couple

[Author's notes: Sorry it took so long to get up.  I've had putter issues.]

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Mahatma Gandhi



“Yuna! So brave, so strong, so wonderfully fit, so firm, so luscious, so…” –click.

Paine quickly turned off her mike and yawned. She sniffed and opened her eyes as Rikku stirred. “Tell Brother just five more minutes.”

Paine just smirked and proceeded to sit up. She scratched her head and pushed Rikku aside. Rikku continued to roll and curled up into a little ball, feigning sleep. “Rikku, get up.”

“No, I don’t think I will.”

“Fine, when I win the competition I will eat all the Moogle Coins in front of you.”

“You can’t win without your partner…you’ll get disqualified,” Rikku countered with a sly grin.

“Not if my partner is knocked out in the beginning of the round because someone got ‘careless’ with her sword,” Paine said walking towards a dog sleeping soundly.

Rikku, with her eyes still closed, simply held up her hand and waited for Paine to help her up. Paine woke the dog up and let it lick her hand and walked back to Rikku. Taking her hand in hers, Paine pulled the blonde to her feet. “Jeez Paine, your hands are sweaty…wipe them off next time.”

“My mistake,” Paine replied in monotone with an inward smile.

Rikku rubbed her face to help wake herself up and stopped. “GUH,” she looked at her hands, “-huff huff- what what what is…is….”


The warrior simply cocked her head to the side and raised her eyebrow, looking at the dog panting happily. Rikku glared and pouted her lips. She reached inside the pouch on her belt and took out a tiny package. She opened it and wiped the dog spit off with the moist towelette. “You know…I bet your hand smells just as bad…and you know…I bet you don’t have any of these,” Rikku said as she sauntered towards Paine.

Stopping right in front of her, Rikku held up the towelette. “I could be nice and let you use mine…or I could just let you have smelly pooch hand. What should I do? Hmm, decisions decis- hey!”

Paine quickly snatched the small wipe from the thief’s hand and began to clean her glove off. “Yeah…or you could just let me take it from you.”

Rikku feigned a scowl. She seems to be in a playful mood. She’s so cute.

“Spira to Rikku,” Paine said waving a hand in the blonde’s face, “you ready to begin warming up?”

Rikku grabbed the moving hand and intertwined their fingers. “I’m always ready to get you hot and sweaty,” she said with a wink.

The warrior fought back a blush and moved her face towards Rikku’s. The Al Bhed could feel the warmth of Paine’s breath on her lips. Rikku heard her say something about letting them begin but all she understood was how close Paine was to her.

Pulling back, Paine stared at the blonde who’s features were a trance-like expression. Paine raised an eyebrow and tugged the thief’s hand to get her to move. Maybe I shouldn’t play around with her so much. But she starts it. It’s only right of me to finish it. Yeah…



“Geez…slow down Paine…this just a warm up,” Rikku yelped as she dodged an attack.

Paine slowed down and wiped away a thin veil of sweat on her forehead. “I’m just ready to get this over with now.” Tidus…you’re going to be obliterated.

“Well, if you keep going at it like that Ms. Painey-pants you won’t have any energy to fight in the championship battle. Come on…the fight against Ziv and Svetlana should be our warm up so lets just go wait until our turn is up again, okay?”

Paine tilted her head sighing. She looked Rikku up and down quickly before she nodded. Rikku smiled and grabbed her hand and they walked to see how the fight with Lucil and Elma was doing.


“Oh and Commander Lucil hits Ekon in the back hard! I don’t think he will be getting up from that one folks!”


Oh isn’t Commander Lucil amazing? She is simply beautiful and marvelous. I’m so lucky to be with her. She’s the greatest things that has ever happened to me and I’m just so so so so so privileged. “Elma, look out!”

Elma turned around just in time to block a strong attack from Chasina. Elma stumbled back and Lucil ran to her side. “You okay?”


The young woman nodded and the two set their sights on Chasina. The strong woman braced herself; she wasn’t going down without a fight. Elma and Lucil ran towards her, weapons in hand. Chasina took her sword and separated it into two. She twirled them twice and met each of the other women’s swords.

“Wow…geez Paine, how come your sword doesn’t separate into two like that,” Rikku asked pointed at the three women fighting.

“Because I’d whip any and everybody’s ass if I had two swords.”

Rikku smiled. She knew that Paine wasn’t lying. If the warrior was that skilled with one sword…just imagine what damage she could deal with two.

The clanking of metal and hard breathing was all that the three women could hear. Everything else around them was blocked out and unimportant. Chasina fought diligently against Elma and Lucil but eventually they would wear her down. Two against one were never very good odds in fighting, especially with trained fighters. Elma and Lucil looked at each other quickly and nodded. Elma stopped swinging her sword immediately, causing Chasina to be caught off guard. Lucil took advantage of this and came up to her side and elbowed her behind the ear, just hard enough to knock her unconscious.


“Well there we have it folks! With Ekon and Chasina both knocked out, our winners of this round are Commander Lucil and Elma! What a fantastic match! As the grounds men clear the floor of those two, will Ara, Tal, Varon, and Nixie please come to the arena? Don’t go anywhere folks, the first battle of the quarter-finals will begin in a few minutes!”

“Wow Paine…so that will make them be matched up with,” Rikku closed one eye and scrunched her face.

“Tidus and Yuna.”


“Tidus and Yunie! Oh neato! Ya know, we only get three more fights until we are named the champs!”

“Don’t be so arrogant Rikku…anything weird could happen at any given moment.”

Rikku tilted her head and squeezed Paine in a tight hug, “umpf.”

The thief rested her cheek on the older girl’s collar bone and closed her eyes. A small smile formed on her lips when she felt Paine hug her back. We’d make such a cute couple. Strong, serious Painey…awesome, funny, super-cute Rikku…no other couple could stand a chance in cuteness. Tidus and Yunie got nothing on us! We’ll be the poster couple of Spira…just watch us. “RIKKU! When’s Yuna coming back to fight?”

“Brother! I though you went back to watching your shows?”

“And give up the chance to see Yuna in all her glory? I don’t think so.”

Rikku sighed, “She and TIDUS will be going against Lucil and Elma later. You’ll just have to wait! In the mean time, you should cheer for me and Painey when we‘re up!”

“Wha? You and….Paine?….Ryja E mucd so seht…? Dryd ec fryd drao yna tuehk…?” (Have I lost my mind? That is what they are doing?)

Rikku just smiled and turned off her mike. She stepped away from Paine and watched as the four fighters in the arena psyched themselves up for the next battle. Ara and Tal were loosening up, cracking there necks and knuckles, where as Varon and Nixie were quietly chanting something.

“Who you think is gonna win, Paine?”

Paine glanced at Rikku and then back to the fighters. “Varon and Nixie.”

“Ne special reasons? Going for the underdogs, eh,” Rikku questioned cutely.

“They know what they’re doing. The other two don’t have enough rank on them to win this match. It’ll be over shortly.”

The thief smiled sweetly and blinked back to the combatants. She tilted her head and watched the fight get underway. Varon and Nixie were kicking the other two’s butts, to put it frankly. Rikku would have figured that Ara and Tal would win because they didn’t get worn out in the first battle like the old couple. Apparently Varon and Nixie were just that good. They are gonna be tough to beat. If Paine and I can get them each one on one and not let them work together…we will have a really good chance at winning. Yep…just have to keep the geezers apart and the fight is a shoe in.

Paine looked quickly at Rikku. What is she smiling about?


“And the winners are….Varon and Nixie! Oh man folks…they had the upper hand the entire battle! With this victory, they will be facing the winner of our next battle! Will they be fighting Rikku and Paine? Or will they be dueling with Ziv and Svetlana?! We will begin the second battle of the semi-finals shortly! In the meantime, why don’t you stop by the concession stand and purchase a cold beverage or a delicious hotdog? Take the kids to get a balloon or a foam finger! Ten percent of the proceeds will go towards saving the Squatter Monkeys of Kilika Woods!”


“Oh Paine! Let’s get a hotdog after this match! I wanna help the cute little monkeys! Ghiki will be happy that I helped his relatives!”

“I thought that monkey died?”

“NO! He is alive and well,” Rikku said matter of factly.

“Surprised me. Come on…we’re up. Let’s do this.”

“Right, Paine!”

Paine and Rikku made their way to the arena.

Ziv and Svetlana were sitting on their box when Rikku and Paine walked into the arena. They quickly stood up once the two were positioned across from them. Svetlana grabbed her battling rod and Ziv tightened his grip on his spear. Rikku twirled her daggers for show, to excite the crowd, as Paine raised her sword and sliced it towards their opponents.


The air was filled with enthusiasm and the smell of hotdogs. The crowd cheered for the match to begin and a chant could be heard shouting “RiPa.” The announcer downed a bottle of water and made his way to the center of the stadium. “Alright people of Spira! It is time for the next battle to BEGIN! Paine and Rikku, I like you to meet Ziv and Svetlana! No need for courtesies now, just begin!!”


The four waited for him to get out of the way and they then began their assault. Rikku made a beeline towards Svetlana as Paine dashed towards Ziv with a menacing glare. Ziv slashed at the warrior and missed as she jumped over his head and landed behind him. Easily she could have taken him out but this was supposed to be their warm up. I can’t knock him out now…I haven’t even broken a sweat.


A few yards away, Rikku was toying with Svetlana. The poor woman was doing her best just to block the swipes coming from the Al Bhed. The clanging of metal hitting metal could be heard all over the stadium. After a few moments Rikku’s smile grew even wider. Paine was still practicing with Ziv when she heard a familiar tune. Is that? She is! Rikku is hitting her weapon on that battle rod to the tune of Real Emotion! She must be getting bored. She even scrapes the blade down it for the notes that are carried out. “Rikku!”

“What,” she said with a grin.


The thief nodded and jumped behind Svetlana and knocked her out. Paine crossed weapons with Ziv and pushed his away hard. He twirled around and lost his balance, causing him to bend at the waist. Having his back open, Paine hit him with the hilt of her sword and he fell to the dirt.

“And that’s it for this battle! Those two just wiped them out! Let’s hear it for Paine and Rikku folks!”

Rikku smiled cutely as she raised her daggers and jumped excitedly. Paine just smirked. She was kind of disappointed in not giving the crowd a better show…but who was she to show off with such second-rate opponents? They’ll get a better fight for the championship battle. Yuna and Tidus won’t go down easy, but by Spira she will win. They will win.

“Yeeeeeeaaaaah,” Rikku yelled as she did one final jump with a punch towards the crowd. Paine sauntered up next to her and gently elbowed her. The thief stumbled and turned to face her partner. She raised her fists and snuffed at her nose with her thumb. She bounced back and forth and punched the air. Paine grabbed one of the lightning quick fists and spun the blonde around. Kicking out the blue sneakers under her, she dipped the owner. Paine grinned staring down at her. Rikku raised her chin and a glint of mischief shot through her eyes. “Kiss me.”


The warrior’s smile lessened slightly as a small blush covered her cheeks. She pulled Rikku up and kissed her lightly on her forehead. The crowed “awed” and both the girls smiled. Paine shook her head with a smirk and dropped Rikku all of eight inches. The mass of people laughed as she turned and took two steps away and then turned back to Rikku. The Al Bhed sat in the dirt with her head tilted to the side. Paine huffed and went to pick up Rikku. She placed her hands under the girls’ arms and raised her as one would a child. She wiped a smudge of dirt off the younger girl’s chin and took her hand and led them towards the arena’s exit.

“Those two are such a cute and funny couple! Hah hah! Well, next up we ha…”

The announcer’s voice faded out as the doors to the warm up arena closed behind Rikku and Paine. They went to the mat they had slept on and sat down. “Say Paine… should we go out there and watch the fight with Yunie and Tidus? We will most likely be going against them the championship round?”

“You can go. I’m going to stay here and focus for our battle against Varon and Nixie.”

Rikku didn’t want to leave Paine so she sat there with her legs stretched out in front of her. She reached for her toes and bobbed a little bit, then she leaned back on her hands and looked at the ceiling. Paine sat cross legged and thought about their next challenge. Soon they’d be up against the water couple and this wasn’t going to be an easy fight. They’re experienced, well trained, quite athletic for their age, and battle smart. What can be their weakness? Lightning? Too obvious…they’re sure to be equipped with armor that’s lightning resistant. Hm… “Hey Rikku.”


“The best strategy I have against Varon and Nixie is to keep them apart and not let them team up. That’s about it though.”

Rikku looked at her. “Is that really all you have?”

Paine nodded. Rikku looked deep in thought for a couple minutes and then an idea struck her. “Say! They’re old right? Why don’t we just cast haste on them and let them have a heart attack? They are taking the risk anyways for competing and being so old. And besides…they have the emergency squad nearby.”

Listening to her idea, Paine figured it was better than hers. They could just cast haste on themselves and then on the other two and just maybe that would work. Rikku came up with a pretty smart idea…she’ll be a scheming strategist in no time. “Fine. It works for me.”

Rikku held her head high and gleamed at her brilliant idea. Yeah. I totally showed Paine my genius. I hope it works…it would suck if it didn’t.


“And now people of Spira! The semifinals begin! With the loss of Hania and Tait and the astonishing loss Commander Lucil and Elma, we have but four couples left. Beginning now…Varon and Nixie will fight against Rikku and Paine. Soon after that Sage and Vivek will battle with Yuna and Tidus! Which couples will make it to the championship battle? Which team will win the 100,000 gil and Moogle Coins? Which team will become the new poster couple of Capt. Spira’s couple competition? Only time will tell! Let’s get the next battle started! Fighters, you know who you are, come to the arena now!”

Paine and Rikku walked to center arena and Nixie and Varon followed suit. The four shook hands and went to their starting blocks. The crowd cheered loudly as the bell rang for the match to begin. The warrior and thief each cast haste on themselves and proceeded to cast it on their opponents as well. The four fought rapidly for quite some time and it seemed as if the plan was a failure until they noticed Nixie grab at her chest. She bent over breathing heavily and Varon ran to her as Rikku and Paine backed off. He talked to her soothingly and eased her down to the ground. He then yelled for the emergency squad to come take her to the recovery center. The medical technicians quickly took her away as Varon picked up his wife’s sword. Walking toward the other two, he smiled slightly. In a soft voice he muttered, “That was very clever of you two. Separating us and using our old age to your advantage…,” Varon wiped at his beard, “I understand you want to save your energy for the final battle…I’ll give in now if you two swear that we can have a rematch…no tricks…just a good ol’ fashioned brawl.”

Paine looked down and Rikku and they both nodded. “Alright then. It’s a deal…but you best bring you A game.”

Varon nodded. “We always do. Until next time young ones. HEY! I ADMIT DEFEAT! THEY WIN!”

The grey haired man bowed and walked in the direction of the recovery center.

“Um…well there you have it folks! Seems like these two are in the championship round! But who will be joining them? Let’s have a cheer for our next contenders, Sage, Vivek, Tidus, and Yuna!”


“Paine…,” Rikku whined.

“What is it?”

“I’m nervous about the next battle. Yunie and Tidus look like they’re getting ready to finish up out there…I think they’ve been practicing.”

Paine rested her hand on Rikku’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about anything. We’ve improved too and we will win. You got that? We’ll make it happen.”

Rikku exhaled and nodded with a smile. She reached for Paine’s hand and glanced towards the arena. She nodded again and looked back at Paine with raised eyebrows. “Well, look sharp.”

The warrior raised one eyebrow and led the blonde toward the stage.

“And there we go! Lady Yuna and Tidus are the winners! They are going against Rikku and Paine in championship battle! It will start in twenty minutes! So stock up on food and drinks because this is going to be one battle you won’t forget!”


Tidus walked out with his head held high and his hand around Yuna’s waist. Yuna’s hand was in Tidus’ back pocket and she wore a coy expression. From the other side, Paine walked out with her fingers intertwined around Rikku’s. Both couples stopped near the center and smoke shot out of the ground behind each. The crowd went wild and the cheer could surely be heard for miles around. Paine stared hard at Tidus who seemed oblivious to her because he simply stared at Rikku. He did a subtle wink and Rikku’s hand tightened around Paine’s. “Why don’t you drool over YOUR girlfriend like that, Tidus?”

Tidus glared at Paine, “Why don’t you go and get outta here bitch?”


Yuna looked at her boyfriend, “What’s you problem Tidus?”

“It’s nothing sweetie.”

Rikku raised her head, “Yeah, heh, I bet it’s too hard for him to pronounce.”

The warrior smirked at Rikku’s attempt to make a mordacious comment. As Tidus was getting ready to comment back, the announcer walked up. “Okay you four… it seems like you’re ready for this. Remember, if you use way too much excessive force, kill someone, break someone’s whatever, and blah blah blah you will be disqualified. You win only if both members of the same party are unable to fight or give in and you get the gist. Well alright, be classy and good luck.”

The announcer turned around and started talking to the crowd. Rikku had a serious look on her face for once and Yuna inwardly winced at the harshness. Tidus’ eyebrows were furrowed and Paine’s eyes seemed to be a brighter shade of crimson than usual. They exchanged final glances before each turned around and headed toward their blocks. “Hey, what was that about back there,” Yuna asked.

“Seriously…it was nothing.” Tidus reassured her, “you ready to do this?”

Yuna nodded and tilted her head with a smile. Tidus leaned down and kissed her forcefully. The gunner blushed and placed her arms around his waist. On the other block, Paine and Rikku looked away. Debating on whether she should or shouldn’t, Paine figured what was the harm in “playing it up” as Rikku put it. She turned towards the blonde and placed her hands on the girl’s hips. She leaned down and kissed Rikku lightly. She began to lean back but was stopped by arms going around her neck. Rikku brought her in closer and her right foot raised. Pulling back, they held onto each other and looked back at the Yuna and Tidus. “Tee hee…I think they’re jealous.”

Tidus grimaced at how well they fit into one another. They looked as if they were meant to be held by each other. Perfect. They molded perfectly into each other. Tidus grew rigid. Feeling his tenseness, Yuna grabbed his hand and petted it. It seemed to calm him down…a little. “AND LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!!!”

They all picked up their weapons and jumped off their boxes. Paine rushed towards Tidus and the two clashed swords. Yuna was firing at Rikku who was deflecting the bullets with her daggers. Yuna then used Trigger Happy and managed to hit Rikku in the shoulder, thigh, and arm. The thief clenched her daggers and screamed. She raced towards her cousin with the fury of an angry chocobo, dodging the rounds being shot at her. Jumping high in the air she came down hard on Yuna. She cut an X right under Yuna’s clavicle, causing her hood to fall to the ground and blood to rise up. “Looks like you’ve been branded Yunie.”

Yuna wiped away some of the blood and looked at her hand. Shaking, she balled her hand into a fist and punched at Rikku. The Al Bhed swatted it away with a forearm and hit the gunner in the stomach with lightning quick speed. Yuna staggered backwards and raised her gun. Rikku lifted her leg and knocked it out of her hand with an inside crescent kick. The weapon went skidding across the ground. Yuna looked panicked for a second but she then stood up straight with a stern expression. Rikku twirled her daggers and threw them into the dirt. The blades stuck into the ground and the hilts vibrated back and forth. “Might as well make this fair, eh?”

Yuna looked downward and turned back pulling a gun out from behind her and aiming it at the blonde. Rikku stood ready. “You think I’d be dumb enough just to have one gun with me? Man Rikku…that wasn’t very smart.”

Yuna fired the gun. Rikku swiftly bent backwards with the bullet going right over her chin like some cool Matrix move. Back flipping behind her daggers, she pulled them up along with her upper body. Both ladies, now rearmed, continued to battle.

“Tch, come on Tidus, surely you can do better then that.”

“Hah hah, I don’t see you outmatching me at all. Perhaps you need to shut your mouth,” Tidus countered.

Paine merely smirked, “Bring it punk.”

They clashed swords again and pushed against each other. Paine inched her way up and summoned enough strength to push Tidus off balance. She swiped downward and cut into his clothes. Barely drawing blood, she clenched her jaw and raised her sword once again. Tidus rolled out of the way and slashed at Paine’s knees. The warrior jumped up and dodged the blade. Steadying herself, she gripped tightly to her sword. Tidus came rushing forward and thrust his sword right at Paine. She used her blade to push it away and came up with a kick to his head. The blitz ball star shook it off and began to use his overdrive, Slice and Dice. Almost unseen, he rushed by Paine and cut her on the arm. He ran past again and sliced her stomach. Running by again he slashed her shoulder. On his final cut, she targeted him before he hit her and she rammed the heel of her palm under his chin and sent him flying. He landed sprawled on the dirt shaking his head back and forth. “Uhh.”

“Tch, damn you,” Paine muttered grabbing her shoulder.


Yuna forgot her fight with Rikku and ran over to her boyfriend. Paine went over to Rikku to see how she was doing. “Tidus? Come on, wake up. Wake up.”

The blonde opened his eyes slowly and let his vision focus. Yuna sighed with relief and smiled. She helped him to his feet and steadied him until he could stand on his own.

“Looks like he nicked you a couple of times, Paine,” Rikku said wiping at some of her cuts.

“Lucky hits. And look at you…,” Paine mentioned.

Rikku shrugged and held out a potion. “Rana...dyga drec.” (Here…take this.)

The older girl took it and drank half of it. Her cuts quickly healed and she gave the rest of the potion back to Rikku. Rikku took it and drank the rest. All the bullet wounds mended themselves and she was back to normal. She threw the bottle away and smiled back up at Paine who looked down and wiped a smudge off her chin. The blonde raised her head towards Paine and suddenly felt herself being pushed forcefully backwards. Landing on her side, she looked where she was standing and found a stalagmite of ice piercing upwards. Some of Rikku’s potions fell out and broke but she grabbed what didn’t and scrambled to her feet as more blizzaga spells were cast towards her. One by one icicles rose from the ground penetrating anything that was above it. Rikku ran as fast as she could to get away from them. A very weak blizzard spell was cast in front of her as she stepped forward. Must be Tidus’. The ice enveloped her boots causing her to be frozen to the ground. Beneath her a blizzaga spell began to form. Rikku winced, ready for the agony. It didn’t come. She was being carried in the arms of a silver haired warrior, away from the frost, with her feet bare. Paine placed the Al Bhed on the ground and sprinted back with speed only possible with haste. She yelled flame tongue and melted the ice with Rikku’s boots. Grabbing them she rushed back and gave them to their owner. Rikku quickly put them on and grinned at Paine. She smiled back and was suddenly struck with a lightning bolt. “Erah!”

The warrior fell backwards and dispel was cast on her. Beneath her, ice began forming. Rikku ran to her and pushed her out of the way. The spell was a small puddle of slushy water. Tidus really needs to stop…that is just pathetic. With Paine out of harm’s way, Rikku turned back toward the spell casters. Yuna, in her black mage outfit, began to cast blizzaga. Not again!! The thief jumped out of the way and rolled back to her feet. The icicles were right on her trail. Yuna was casting them even faster and Rikku was sprinting just to stay a few inches away. Suddenly, Rikku was snapped back into the stalagmite just cast. Her scarf had been pierced right through. She quickly tugged at it and heard a slight rip but was still fixed to it. No! The blizzaga shot up out of the ground. She felt nothing but skinned knees and a cool neck. The crowd fell silent.


A.N. and that is all for now….hah yeah right…I wouldn’t do that!















Rikku snapped her head around and gasped. “Paine! NO,” she cried.

The ice impaled the warrior through her abs. Blood was running down the frozen pillar as she gasped for air.


“Hey there. I’m Rikku. Nice to meet you,” the blonde said holding out her hand.

Looking at it, a tall warrior grasped it and responded, “Paine.”

“Well, now that we are practically best friends now…would you like to join the Gullwings?”

The serious woman looked at the bikini-clad girl and then behind her. There stood a huge airship that had to have so much torque it would leave a crater the size of Kilika Island if floored. She looked back at the blonde who had pyre flies floating around her like some sort of deity. Her emerald eyes, with the Al Bhed trademark, glittered in the setting sun. The Moonflow was never this gorgeous… “Alright.”



A small tear fell from Paine’s eye. “Rikku…”

“I’m here Paine…”


“O-okay…I’ll do it…just hang in there and stay conscious. Please…”

Rikku briskly turned to the other couple. Running towards them with tears in her eyes she screamed, “Machina Maw!”

Something clicked. Without having to change to all her dress spheres, the machina rose from beneath the ground and splashed in front of her with a fantastic thud. Outfitted in gold, Rikku charged the machine and hopped aboard. “Eraaaahhhh!!! Varja!! Smasher, Crusher…Howitzer!!”

Yuna and Tidus were paralyzed by fear and stared wide-eyed at the powerful machina heading toward them. Yuna somehow snapped out of it and casted protect on them. The machina slammed into them with a mighty attack. Smasher then slammed into Yuna as Crusher crashed into Tidus. The two were knocked into the block, which crumbled on impact. The protect seemed to have done nothing.

Behind Rikku, Paine summoned all her strength and pushed herself off the icicle and fell to the ground. “That a way, Rikku…hm…that a way…”

She tried hard not to succumb to darkness and mentally cheered on Rikku. She’s done good…really good…damn…I should’ve brought a potion…or eight. Paine swallowed and looked to the ground…was it? Was she hallucinating? A potion? A hi-potion? Half full? She grabbed it and weakly twisted off the top… Just enough to stop the bleeding…bottoms up… Paine shakily raised the bottle to her lips and drank the bitter concoction. The bleeding began to slow, some muscle began to repair itself, and some of her consciousness returned to her.

“Shockstorm!! Homing Ray!”

Tidus and Yuna were being battered with attack after attack but somehow managed to stay conscious, much to their misfortune. “Shockwave!”

That was the last attack either of them saw before blacking out. Rikku was breathing heavily and her machina slowly began dissolving back into the earth. She stood there for a minute and remembered. She turned back to where she last saw Paine. All that was there was a bloody mess. She followed the trail of blood down and saw her sitting at the base. Rikku ran towards her. “Paine!”

“Rikku…do me a favor…”

“Yes…an-anything Paine…”

“Get off my hand and hand me another potion…”

Rikku quickly removed her knee from the warrior’s hand and dug around in her pouch to find another potion. She had two left. She opened them and placed the opening to Paine’s mouth, slowly pouring the liquid in. After the second potion, Paine’s stomach began healing. More muscle repaired itself, the bleeding completely stopped, and Paine had enough strength to get up. The crowd howled with excitement and relief as Paine stood. RiPa was chanted over and over again with such enthusiasm. “And the winners! RIKKU AND PAINE!”

If possible, the crowd grew even louder and thrilled. Paine grinned at Rikku as she leaned on her. Rikku beamed a huge smile as she helped Paine to the recovery center.

[End notes: Okie. That's all for now.  I'll begin working on the next chapter.  In the meantime, review and lemme know what ya think. Thanks!]

Chapter 10

Title: Food, Sunset, and a Vending Machine

[Author's notes: is the next chapter!!!]

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.

-Judy Garland


“Hey Painey-pants! How’s the boo boo doing?”

Paine looked towards the young thief bounding up the stairs. The windows above their beds were open to let in a warm breeze. It twisted its way around the Al Bhed and down to the bar below. “It’s still sore. How’re you feeling?”

Rikku came and sat next to Paine. “Fantabulous. I still have some minor bruising though.”

Paine stared at her feet. “Rikku…”

The warrior faced the blonde. Rikku’s eyes, as bright green as ever, stared back waiting for her to continue. Paine opened her mouth but couldn’t get out what she wanted to say. She closed it and looked away again. “Paine?”

The older girl inhaled deeply, “Thank you. I owe you one.”

Rikku make a pouty face then looked at her feet. “I’m…actually the one who should be owing you…you pushed me out of the way. Why would you do that? Why would you sacrifice yourself for me?”

People do crazy things…when they’re in love. Paine stayed quiet.

“I would’ve done the same for you though,” Rikku muttered, barely audible.

Paine had heard her. A warm feeling moved it’s way from the pit of her stomach to her chest. She felt as if her insides were on fire. She leaned over towards her pillow and reached under it. She grabbed a small bag and tossed it to the thief. “That’s yours by the way.”

Rikku opened the bag. Inside was her scarf. Tears formed in her eyes and she shook her head as she glomped Paine. She laid her head on her chest and cried as she held on tightly. I can’t believe Yunie would ever use a strong enough spell to do something like that. She could’ve killed us. She could’ve killed you. I almost lost you. Never would I have thought it’d have hurt this much. Never leave me… “Never leave me…”

Paine’s eyes grew wide and then softened. “Never.”


Rikku sniffed and pulled up off her friend. She hid her face as she sat back near the foot of the bed. She giggled softly and looked at Paine with moist eyes. “We have a secret now…”

“What’s that?”

The thief smiled. “I saw that tear in you eye at the competition. You cried, Paine. You are human after all.”

Rikku twisted and laid her head in the warrior’s lap looking up at her. “Rikku…I was skewered by a huge piece of ice…even I can’t control the way my body operates if that happens.”

“Yeah well,” Rikku sat up and leaned on one arm over Paine’s lap, “it still happened and I won’t forget it.”

Paine leaned her head to the side and smiled, “You won’t will you? Then I have no choice but to hurt you.”

She then pinched her once. Twice. Three times. “Owie Paine! That’s playing dirty!”

“Oui drehg dryd'c bmyoehk tendo? Meddma dreav E ryja pynamo pakih.” (You think that’s playing dirty? Little thief I have barely begun.)

With that said, she poked at Rikku’s bruises. The Al Bhed squirmed and stood up with a fist cocked back, aimed at Paine’s stomach. “Don’t think I won’t!”

The warrior grinned, “Do it then.”

Her fist cocked back again and then dropped. Unable to go through with it, she went and sat on Yuna’s old bed, now hers. She put her elbows on her knees and placed her chin on the heels of her hands and huffed. Paine stood up and walked to the banister. “Hey Barkeep. Toss me two Moogle Coins.”

“Yesh Mish Paine.”

The Hypello bent down under the counter and brought up two coins. He threw them up to the requester with surprising accuracy. Paine caught them and nodded. Walking back to Rikku, she kneeled down in front of her holding out the two pieces of chocolate. “Truce.”

Rikku smiled and grabbed them. “Fine…but it’s only temporary. I’ll get cha later!”

“I’m sure you will.”

The blonde stuffed an unwrapped coin in her cheek and chewed. She tilted her head and stared at Paine. The warrior smiled slightly with a small nod. She turned to her bed and laid down. Rikku began unwrapping the other coin and stopped. She stood up and jumped on Paine’s bed, straddling the older girl. “Let’s go do something.”

“And what do you suggest?”

“Let’s go for a walk. Just the two of us. No Brother, no Buddy, no Shinra, no Barkeep. You and me. What do ya say?”

“Hm…sounds safe so far…any place in particular?”

“The Moonflow,” Rikku responded a little too quickly, “Or…Macalania Woods…or”

Paine placed a finger on the thief’s lips, “the Moonflow will be fine.”

Good. That’s just what I wanted to hear! “I’ll go tell Brother to drop us off.”

Rikku cheesed a big smile and hopped off Paine. She ran down the stairs and towards the elevator. She seems happy about this. Is this a date? !! Paine sat up quickly. Is it?! No…it’s not…it’s a simple outing…just the both of us…at…the place we met. Hm…I bet she doesn’t even remember we met a year ago so…nothing special really. A small activity to fight boredom…yeah.

The warrior talked to herself when a familiar voice entered her head. “Paine, you ready,” Rikku yelled up from the bottom floor.

She got off her bed and walked down the stairs. “You changed.”

The blonde now wore denim jeans with a white halter top. Her belt hung on one loop and was draped along her hip on the other side. She wore white sneakers and bracelets of many colors on her wrists. “Yeah I changed. It’s starting to get a little cooler now, but I’m glad to see you noticed!”

It’s hard not to in something that different. “…did you want me to change?”

“You don’t have to…but I mean…if you want…it’s a lil chilly,” Rikku said scuffing at the floor with her shoe.

“Alright…I get it…give me a minute.”

Paine went back upstairs and looked through her drawers. She settled for jeans, a black spaghetti strap tank, and a fitted bomber jacket. She put her boots on and went back downstairs. She tapped Rikku’s shoulder, who was sitting at the bar. “Ready to leave?”

Rikku grinned and nodded. They walked to the elevator and pressed the engine room button. The ramp lowered and the two girls jumped down. Brother’s voice came over the outer intercom. “E’mm kad oui dfu mydan. Fa yna kuehk du ryja puoc hekrd uid.” (I’ll get you two later. We are going to have boys night out!)

“How much you wanna bet he is going to forget us?”

Paine smirked. “I bet you…he will.”

Rikku tugged at Paine’s arm. “Come on…let’s go.”

They walked in silence for a while. Paine kept her hands in her jacket pockets and Rikku kept hers clasped behind her back. Both knew they wanted to say something but neither knew what to say. Rikku ended up breaking the silence with small talk. “So…you think it’s good that they got rid of the machina that used to transport people around the Mi’hen Highroad?”

“For the chocobos it is…but I doubt lazy people thinks it’s a good idea.”

“You one of those lazy people, Paine?”

The warrior nudged Rikku with her elbow and smiled. “I was about to ask you the same thing.”

“Hey! I’m a very active girl! And I’m happy they finally thought of the poor chocobos. Those things running them off the road and killing them. They have it hard enough with the fiends around there.”

“Well, they’re doing fine now. Their population has grown a good bit since they’ve taken them away.”

“Good. Spira needs more chocobos. They’re so cute and fluffy…especially the baby ones.”

I seriously doubt you wanted to talk about chocobos, Rikku. “Yeah…”

Rikku inhaled deeply and stopped. Paine stopped too. The blonde’s mouth moved to the side and she looked down at the grass. Paine eyed the Al Bhed and waited to see if she would say anything. When she didn’t, she moved in front of her and lifted the girl’s chin with her hand. Emerald eyes stared back into crimson ones. “Is there a reason you wanted to come to the Moonflow?”

Rikku’s gaze went from Paine’s eyes to her lips and to some brush behind the warrior. Paine took her hand away and took a half step back. When Rikku still said nothing, she started to continue to toward the lake. “You’ve forgotten haven’t you?”

She stopped. “Forgotten what?”

Rikku’s voice sounded faint. “That…this is where-”

“We first met?”

Rikku’s eyes brightened immediately. She remembered! “Yes.”

The older teen turned around. “How…could I forget that?”

The thief smiled and ran up to Paine. She ran her arms around the girl’s waist and pulled her into a hug. Paine encircled her arms around the blonde and gently smiled into her hair. Rikku’s eyes closed as she listened to Paine’s heartbeat. The thumping had increased slightly since she laid her head down. She moved her hips toward Paine’s and pulled her closer. Again the heartbeat had increased. Paine swallowed softly and pulled back. “Come on. Let’s keep going.”

Rikku bit her lower lip and nodded. She then entwined her arm around Paine’s and walked closely beside her friend. Reaching the lake, they both searched frantically for Tobli, in hopes he wouldn’t be around. Much to their delight he was off at the Thunder Plains, striking up some new business scheme. “Hey Paine. You know they built that new café on the lake around here. What do you say we go try it out?”

“Alright. Quickly, the shoopuff is loading now.”

They jogged to the huge animal and boarded. It being close quarters, Rikku clasped herself onto Paine, nearly knocking her over. Steadying herself on the railing, Paine held Rikku with one arm and the rail with the other. “Oh oh oh! Look bro look! That’s Rikku and Paine! They totally won that tournament a few days ago! Oh man! Let’s go talk to them! Come on come on!”

“Dreke, I seriously doubt celebrities like that would want to talk to you. Just leave them alone will ya?”


“No man! They’re not like that. They are awesome. Please come with me to ask them for an autograph once we get off!”

The older brother shook his head and grumbled, “they don’t want to talk to you or give you an autograph. They are on a simple outing and don’t want little snot nosed kids like you ruining it.”

Dreke huffed and crossed his arms.

“You hear that Paine? Us…celebrities! People want to ask us for our autographs!”

Paine raised an eyebrow. “That’s different. I didn’t think the competition would have been that popular.”

“It most def seems that way! We gonna give that kid an autograph when we hop off of here?”

“Did you want to?”

Rikku smiled brightly and nodded her head vigorously. When the shoopuff stopped at the café half the people got off. The two brothers had began to head to the pier to fish when Rikku ran up to them. “Hey there. I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation and we’d,” Rikku said as she grabbed Paine’s arm and pulled her next to her, “love to give you an autograph.”

Dreke blushed profoundly and wore a huge smile. He quickly emptied his pockets looking for a piece of paper and marker. He held a crumpled receipt and stubby pencil out to them. Paine reached over to one of the tables and grabbed a napkin with the café logo on it. She then reached in her jacket and pulled out a black marker. Quickly signing her name, she handed it to Rikku. “Heh heh, I reckon that’s a lot better then my receipt and pencil,” Dreke mumbled, quite embarrassed.

Rikku signed her name and added some O’s and X’s to make it cute and handed it to the blushing boy. “There you go, Dreke is it?”

“Yeah! That’s right! Oh…would you mind writing ‘To Dreke’ on that? I mean…if you could…you don’t have to at all.”

“Sure, no problem!”

Paine glanced at the older brother. “Would you like one too?”

He quickly shook his head up and down, speechless at how nice they actually were about this. “Hand me another napkin then Paine.”

Rikku took it and signed it and gave it to Paine. “Um…to Trahnk…if you will…”

Paine stopped for a moment. “And how do you spell that?”

Rikku giggled as the boy answered, “T-R-A-H-N-K…”

Placing the marker back in her pocket, she handed him the napkin. He bowed and fawned over it for a minute before his little brother snapped him out of it. “Man, thanks a bunch you two! This really means a lot! Well, we better go catch dinner…if y’all wanna join us we’ll be just over there. Again, thanks a bunch!”

The two brothers ran off, leaving the two girls with a view of their backs. “So…you always carry a marker in your pocket?”

“You never know when you may need it.”

“Hm, what else you got in there?”

The warrior raised an eyebrow and gave her a small smile. Slightly shaking her head, she walked towards a booth under the awning. The blonde quickly followed and sat across from her friend. A waitress almost immediately came up and asked what they wanted to drink. “Tea.”

“And I’ll have the same…oh, but with two lemons please.”

The waitress walked away to get their drinks. She quickly brought them back and laid down two menus. “Awesome, thanks sweetie,” Rikku said with a wink.

The server reddened slightly and walked away. Paine stared at the thief. “…did you just wink at her?”

Rikku, who was taking a huge gulp of tea, sputtered out a very wet cough. She quickly wiped away the mess and stared at Paine, who looked back emotionless. “Um…heh…yeah I think I did.”

Paine picked up her menu and opened it. With a tiny shrug, she averted her gaze down to the entrees. What…that’s it? She shrugs and looks away! Oh no no! I’ll make her jealous. Where’s that waitress…girl is gonna have a fun night tonight! I’ll get a rise outta Paine.

The waitress came back with a tablet and asked what they would like. “I’ll have Lady Spira’s Hoagie and…Rikku?”

Rikku licked her lips and leaned her elbow on the table. With cheek in palm she smiled sweetly at the waitress. The girl raised her eyebrows and smiled shyly back. “Is the Machina Minestrone any good?”

“Um…yes it is actually quite good,” the waitress answered nervously.

“Really,” Rikku grinned as she looked the girl up and down, “I’ll take your word for it. Now…does it come with a salad?”

“Y-yes it does.:

“Hmm sounds wonderful. I’ll have that then.”

The server wrote it down and walked away quickly. Paine tongued her cheek for a moment. Is she doing this on purpose? Is she trying to make me jealous? It is Rikku after all…

“Yeah…so…this is a really cute place. I’d hate to be here during hurricane season though. Whoosh…there I go.”

Paine merely nodded and looked around. She caught sight of a little girl being tugged by the arm, a giant white bird perched atop the gazebo roof, and the rays of a sun getting ready to set. Usually she didn’t like watching the sun set, but here…she enjoyed it…it seemed right to be here. She sighed and turned back to Rikku. The blonde had her head in her hands and was watching Paine. “What?”

Rikku smiled and shook her head. This caused Paine to become self-conscious and straighten out her jacket. The Al Bhed smiled wider and leaned back in her seat. “Do you feel different? Like…this place has released something inside of you?”

The warrior wondered if that was what she was feeling. It did feel as if her soul was free…as if there was nothing holding her back from what she wanted. A sort of euphoric feeling. She felt Rikku’s hands in hers and looked up. “You do, don’t you?”

Paine bit her lip briefly and nodded. “Paine…I just want to tell you that-”

Rikku stopped talking as the waitress walked up with their orders. She quickly released her friend’s hands and moved her drink aside. The server swiftly placed the food down and asked if they needed anything. A forthright no and a flirtatious response were her answers. Paine didn’t want Rikku to keep flirting but who was she to stop her? Not like they were together or anything…although everyone who watched the tournament figured they were. Paine’s expression was melancholy for a moment before it changed back to the same expression the young warrior always wore. Not unnoticed to Rikku, the thief simply pursed her lips and stared down at her food with feelings of disheartenment.

The two ate in near silence, with the occasional comment about how good the soup was. After they were done, the lady brought them separate checks. Paine pulled out some gil and placed it on top of the check. Rikku reached in her pocket for her gil and did the same. “Hm…you think 60 gil is too much a tip for a 104 gil meal? Heh heh.”

“Why don’t you just leave 100 and a key to the Celsius while you’re at it,” Paine retorted as she got up and walked to the railing.

Rikku pouted as she left her money and slowly walked up to Paine. Maybe I overdid it…I never knew she could really be that sensitive. “Paine…”

Paine merely hung her head down to stare at her reflection in the water below her. She could see Rikku’s walk up beside her. Neither of them said anything. Rikku looked as if she was about to cry when she perked up just a little bit. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a Moogle Coin. She scooted it over Paine as a peace offering. Paine glanced at it and knocked it off into the water. Honestly, the offended expression on Rikku’s face made her feel much better. She smiled and even laughed a tiny bit. Rikku took out 20 gil and set it where the Moogle Coin once sat. Paine again glanced at it and this time grabbed it and pocketed it. The blonde huffed and placed her hands on her hips. “You have anything else in your pockets? Either the sea or me will end up with it.”

Rikku took out a napkin she stole and reached into Paine’s jacket and took out the marker. She wrote ‘Sorry’ on the napkin and signed it with a heart and her name.”

Placing it next to her friend she waited. Paine read it and turned so her back rested against the banister. She grabbed the napkin and looked at it again. Taking a step towards Rikku, she shoved the napkin in the blonde’s mouth and walked past her. Rikku’s head fell and she took the paper out of her mouth. Sheesh…now I’ve done it. Hasn’t she heard the saying that to err is human and to forgive is divine? And she kept my 20 gil… Tentatively, two strong arms wrapped themselves around the Al Bhed. Rikku melted into their owner and sighed happily. A faint scent of vanilla enveloped her senses and she leaned her head back to look at the warrior. Paine looked down at Rikku. She looked so beautiful right then. The setting sun made her face glow and her green eyes gleamed brightly. The thief’s breathing had become slightly irregular as she stared up at Paine. Her eyes turned scarlet in the sun’s rays, her complexion was exquisite, and her gaze was smoldering. Rikku bit her bottom lip. She wanted to kiss her so bad. A real kiss…not the short light pecks they did for the tournament, but a genuine kiss that meant something.

Rikku turned to face the older teen. She pushed a couple strands of hair out of Paine’s face, only to have them fall back in the same position. She smiled and moistened her lips. Paine was inwardly freaking out right now but, like a true warrior, she hid her emotion and looked as cool and calm as always. She swallowed hard and gently licked her lips. The thief began to slowly move closer to Paine and her eyes began to close. Paine wanted this more than anything…but why couldn’t she close the distance? She looked away and placed two fingers on the thief’s mouth. Rikku’s eyes opened. Removing her hand, the older girl walked backwards and sat at a table. She ran her hands through her hair and hung her head down with her fingers laced behind her neck. Rikku stood there dumbfounded. Should she go talk to her?

Damn. I’m such an idiot…that was the perfect moment. Why couldn’t I kiss her? Why couldn’t I just…why? She’s all I want and yet…I just can’t. She obviously feels the same as I do…I think. No! She does…stop doubting it Paine. Shit…that was the perfect moment…and I ruined it. Idiot. Why am I such an idiot…Rikku…

The blonde figured it was best to let Paine think to herself for a couple minutes. She rested her head on her crossed forearms and looked out to the sea. Maybe I was too forward. Maybe she really doesn’t…like me. Did I mess up again? She was just so beautiful…I couldn’t help it. Yeah! I’ll just say I was caught up in a moment and that I don’t really like her like that. But wouldn’t that be the biggest lie I ever told…bigger than the time I told the girls’ blitz ball team that Brother was gay so he could stay in their in the locker room. Heh, man where they surprised. Rikku looked back to Paine. She was still in the same position.

I wish I hadn’t have walked away. How can I go back? What do I say? That I am a foolish airhead who is hopelessly in love with you? That you complete me and I never want to lose you? Damn, that’s so cliché. Eragh! That was the perfect moment!! Paine looked over towards Rikku. Why would she like me? I’m cold, distant, sarcastic, standoffish…everything she isn’t.

Paine…please come back. I promise I won’t come on to you. I’ll give you your space but please just let me know everything is okay. I’m sorry.

She’s perfect. Paine smiled. She is everything I’m not. She closed her eyes and sighed. Fuck it. Paine stood up and walked to Rikku.

Hearing her footsteps, Rikku turned to face her. “Paine I’m really sor-”

Rikku’s words were cut off by Paine’s lips pressing against hers. Her hands were on Rikku’s face, pulling her closer. Rikku inhaled sharply and closed her eyes. Placing her hands on Paine’s hips she felt her slowly pull back. Her face held a dubious expression which made Rikku smile at her finally showing some insecurity. The last few rays of the sun shone upon them. Rikku’s eyes sparkled with intrigue as Paine’s fiery eyes danced with anticipation. Reaching around her neck, Rikku drew Paine into warm kiss. The warrior encircled her arms around the thief’s waist and pressed their bodies together. Rikku tilted her head and deepened the kiss. Gently, Paine bit Rikku’s lower lip and felt a hand run through her hair. She felt Rikku’s tongue lick her bottom lip softly. Paine pulled back minutely and breathed against the Al Bhed’s mouth, lips barely touching. They inhaled deeply as they connected in another brazen kiss.


The two girls quickly separated and looked next to them. There stood a fifteen year old boy with eyes bigger than a blitz ball and mouth agape. Rikku smiled and grabbed Paine’s hand. Running past the boy, she placed a Moogle coin in his mouth and they ran to the pier. Cid’s daughter was laughing hysterically as she sat down on the edge of the dock, bringing Paine down to sit next to her. Swinging her legs back and forth she slowly calmed down. The silver haired girl smiled and gently chuckled, “Well, if that wasn’t a mood dampener.”

Rikku laughed again and hugged Paine. “That stupid kid! Hah hah, what a little skeezball! Heh heh…ohhh…man…heh…hey. It’s getting late.”

“I told you Brother would forget us.”

“Nah, I think I told you,” Rikku said scrolling up the page.


“How much you wanna bet he is going to forget us?”

Paine smirked. “I bet you…he will.”


“See…I mentioned it first.”

“You know…I didn’t deny that you did.”

Rikku grinned and kissed Paine, “Come on…we gotta go find an inn. Guadosalam is the nearest so lets go there!”

The two stood up and walked to the shoopuff boarding bench. They sat down and as soon as they did, two familiar faces ran up. “Hey you two!”

“Hey Dreke. Trahnk. You two just get done fishing?”

“Yeah we did and check out this whopper I caught five minutes ago,” Dreke boasted as he held up a ginormous fish.

The fish flopped around and Dreke lost grip on the rope and it fell on Rikku. She shrieked and threw it back to Dreke who caught it and began laughing. “Oh man…I’m sorry Miss Rikku…this guy is pretty strong…I’m real sorry about the slime on you.”

“Paine! A guh,” the slimy girl sounded as she pointed at the goo on her shirt.

Wiping a finger through the goop, Paine simply retorted with a smile, “Yep…that is fish slime.”

“Wha? Slime Paine! Fish slimy slime goo slippery nasty wet fish mucus-like stuff!”

Paine stood up and took a step near Rikku. “Well, wash it off then,” she said as she pushed her off the deck into the water below.


The two boys and warrior were laughing as she splashed around in the water. She then grabbed some rope out of Trahnk’s hand and tossed the end down to blonde. Rikku grasped it firmly on her end as Paine and the boys began to pull her up to the dock. Finally reaching the top, she stood up and began slinging water off her arms. Paine whispered loudly to Trahnk, “She kind of looks like a drowned rat.”

Hearing her, Rikku launched herself at her and squeezed firmly to get as much water into her clothes as possible. Paine tried to pry her off but the girl had a death grip on her. Dreke tried to help Paine but was instead victim to the goo Trahnk threw at him. When the shoopuff finally arrived, both girls were soggy and the brothers were covered in fish slime. The Hypello gawked but didn’t say a word.

At Guadosalam, the girls said bye to the guys as they went back toward the Moonflow with their caught dinner. They walked into the inn and asked for a room. “The twin beds will be…240.”

Rikku smiled, “Just give us the queen and we’ll be just fine.”

Paine quickly looked at her. Rikku winked, “what? It’ll be cheaper.”

The receptionist typed it in, “alright…that will be 190.”

“See that…I saved you 50 gil.”

Paine smirked and rolled her eyes. Handing the lady the money, she got a key in return.

They walked back in the hallway and their room was the last door on the left. “Hey! Right near the vending machines! Alright! How about a thank you Rikku for saving me money and getting a spot near the food machines!”

“How about I just let you sleep in the bed and not have you camp out on the floor.”

“I’ll take it!”

“Here. Take the key and I’ll go get some clothes we can sleep in and wear while these wash.”

Taking the key, Rikku unlocked the door and glanced back at Paine as she walked to the small store. The thief twirled around turning on the lamps and singing. She plopped down in the burgundy chair and sighed happily. “Today…was a great day.”

Twenty minutes later, a knock on the door. Rikku walked out of the bathroom with a towel on and opened the door. Paine walked inside and handed Rikku a pair of green and white shorts and a white and yellow chocobo shirt. “You done with the shower?”

“Yep. You can go on ahead.”

Nodding, Paine headed for the door with her black pants and black and green tank with a Tonberry on it. She tossed them on the sink counter and stripped down to take a shower. Rikku soon knocked on the door as asked her for her wet clothes. “Okay…I’m coming in! My eyes are closed!”

She had one hand over her eyes and the other was reaching on the ground for the clothes. Grabbing them she smiled and began laughing, “you know…” she searched for the toilet bowl handle, “this is for poking my bruises and pushing me into the water.”

With that said, Rikku pushed down on the handle and bolted out of there. All she heard was her name being screamed and a stream of curses. Putting all the clothes in a bag, she proceeded to the laundry room, every step laughing at the expression Paine probably had when the ice water hit her. She placed the bag on the counter and smiled at the young man reading a magazine. She placed 20 gil on the counter, “wash and dry please and the room is 14. Thank you.”

Paine was towel drying her hair when Rikku got back. “Mission Clothes Wash completed.”

The older girl nodded and turned to go brush her teeth. “I bought you a toothbrush. It’s in the bathroom.”

Rikku glanced down and began laughing so hard. Nearly in tears she tried to babble at what was so funny. Not catching any of it, Paine glared a little. Rikku grabbed her and took her to the bathroom mirror and turned her around. Looking back at her reflection, Paine saw what Rikku found so funny. On the seat of her pants in white lettering was the word “Doink.”

Rikku finally caught her breath and blurted out, “yeah! I’d doink that! Hah hah hah hah!”

Paine grabbed her toothbrush and toothpaste and walked out, closing the door behind her. If it wasn’t her then maybe this would be a little funny. But she hated being the butt end of a joke. Back in the Crimson Squad, the boys sometimes would gang up on her. Of course it was okay if they all ganged up on each other…just not her. She walked in the bathroom to spit out the toothpaste and Rikku was sitting on the counter holding her toothbrush. Paine gave her the toothpaste and walked back into the main room and laid down on the bed. She soon heard a spit and the water run. Then the padding of feet shuffling closer on carpet. When the noise stopped she opened her eyes just in time to see an airborne Rikku falling closer with a huge smile. “Got cha!”

Paine quickly rolled off the bed as Rikku flopped down, face first, into the bed. She muffled into the pillow, “mmhf…that tho wathn’t fair.”

Laying on top of Rikku and balancing on her, Paine grinned, “I don’t see what wasn’t fair about it. You didn’t ask to squish me…”

The blonde pushed her off and jabbed her in the side. “I shouldn’t have to ask! You should know that I always have the right to squish you.”

“Is that right?”

Rikku quickly straddled her and pinned her arms over her head. “Yeah…that’s right.”

She leaned down and brushed her lips against Paine’s. Rolling over to the side Rikku looked at the ceiling with a smile. Paine elbowed her in the ribs and they soon started fighting. Paine had soon gotten Rikku in a “hogtie” position with her feet and hands held together with a bed sheet. A knock at the door. Rikku groaned and slipped out of the sheet to go answer it. It was the receptionist lady. “Sorry, I forgot to tell you two that there is free breakfast in the morning until 9:30. Alright…have a good night.”

Rikku smiled and closed the door. She turned around and walked back to the bed. “Free brekkie in the morning…that’s all.”

Another knock was at the door. This time Paine went to go answer it. There stood the laundry boy with their clothes. Taking them, she gave him 20 gil and he was on his way. “Rikku…did you already pay the laundry kid?”

“Yeah. I gave him 20 gil when I dropped off the clothes. Why?”

Paine sat the clothes down on the dresser. “I just gave him 20 more gil.”

Rikku laughed, “I guess the kid had a good night tonight then.”


Rikku pulled back the covers so Paine could climb in. She leaned over and turned off her lamp. Paine laid there for a minute before she turned off hers. Rikku snuggled closer and wrapped her arms around her friend. “Night Paine.”



A.N. Yep…that’s all for this chapter…yeah it was mainly a filler and sort of a day in the life like thing. But I kinda had some fun writing it ^.^ Neways…thanks for reading and please review if ya don’t mind! All reviews will be greatly appreciated!





Chapter 11

Title: Hero of Hearts

[Author's notes: Sorry for the uber long wait.]

Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.

Dr. Joyce Brothers




“Please…help us.”

“Hah, you think I’d ever help peasants? You’ve got another thing coming woman.”

“Sire please! We have a little girl at home! Do it for her sake!”

“Help her?! I don’t even know the brat! You’ve taken enough of my time already. Out of my way!”



“Paine what is it?”

Paine looked around the room and gathered her surroundings. Rikku looked at her with a worried expression and held her hand in her own. Paine’s frame relaxed with a sigh and she shook her head. “It’s nothing. Dream is all.”

Paine…I’ve seen you wake up like this before. That same expression on your face, as if you were a little girl again, facing your biggest fear. Never have I seen fear on your face like the terror that is shown from these…”dreams.” It’s alright, I’m here for you.

Rikku scowled slightly and pushed Paine’s hair out of her eyes. The warrior stared at Rikku as if there was something she wanted to ask but couldn’t. Come on, Paine…just say it. I’m here for you. “Rikku?”


Paine looked away and focused on the blanket. The blonde tightened her grip around Paine’s hand slightly. The silver haired girl raised her head and gazed back at the thief. “You look like shit when you first wake up.”

Taken aback, Rikku’s jaw dropped and she threw Paine’s hand back at it’s owner. “Well, fine then Dr. P! You can go and eat breakfast by yourself without any of this hot Rikku at the table,” Rikku pseudo-yelled while headed to the bathroom.

Paine’s smile quickly faded as she focused back on her dream. Mother? That is you isn’t it? You and Dad. Why…why now do you come to me? After all these years, you finally show up in the my dreams? Only in these past few months though? Why? I thought I was finally done dealing with you two….with accepting your deaths. What good do these dreams do? They do nothing. They are nothing!

The warrior crawled out of bed and grabbed her clothes and changed. Rikku finally came out of the bathroom and stood before her friend. Placing her hands on her hips, she began tapping her foot; obviously wanting an apology. The taller girl just smirked and skimmed past her to go brush her teeth. Coming out of the bathroom, Paine saw Rikku already dressed and sitting on the bed. She sat braiding the strands of hair that had become loose and readjusted her headband. Once finished, she cocked her head to the side and leaned back on her hands. Paine shuffled over to her and kneeled down. She put her hands together and placed them on the Al Bhed’s lap. “I’ll tell you about it later.”

Rikku beamed and dropped down to her knees and hugged Paine. This was a big step for you, Paine. I do understand that. Never be afraid to let me in… “So, you were just kidding about me looking like poo, riiiiigght?”


“No. That was truth.”

The thief gasped a smile and grabbed Paine and pulled her into a kiss. “Now do I still look bad?”

“Horrendous, atrocious, appalling, down right ghastly,” the older girl replied trying not grin.

“You,” Rikku exclaimed as she pushed Paine down onto her back.

Bestriding her and holding both hands to the ground, Rikku leaned in close. “You don’t really mean that Painey. You’re just,” she nipped at Paine’s ear, “trying,” pecking at her jaw line, “to get a rise out of me.”


"Yht fryd ev E ys, meddma dreav?" (And what if I am, little thief?)

“"Drah oui sicd pa bihecrat, muja,” Rikku whispered. (Then you must be punished, love.)

The warrior scrutinized Rikku’s expression and found nothing but lust, wanton, and desire. Rikku slowly traced her finger down Paine’s chest and stomach and up again. She toyed with the metal necklace and rested her hand behind the other girl’s neck. Feeling the thief’s thumb stroking the back of her neck, Paine took her free hand and grabbed Rikku’s white halter and pulled her down into a deep kiss. The heat between them could still be felt as the two parted. The blonde kissed her again as her hands ran down Paine’s sides and under the tight shirt. The feeling of taut muscle beneath her fingertips, the aroma of vanilla enveloping her senses, and the taste of mint on her lips made Rikku’s head spin. She soon figured that Paine was just a walking aphrodisiac. “Paine, E...oui'na...oui'na ysywe-” (Paine, I…you’re…you’re amazi-)

“Shhh,” Paine whispered as she pecked the Ah Bhed’s lips, “shhh.”

With that, she closed the distance between their lips once again and rolled Rikku over. Now on top, she held the thief’s arms down and began slowly kissing her neck. The blonde’s increased breathing urged Paine on as she kissed and traced her tongue along Rikku’s collarbone. Rikku freed a hand and pulled the warrior’s face up to hers. She gently kissed her and parted her lips for allowed entry. Taking the invite, Paine explored Rikku ever so gently. With intense arousal, Rikku deepened the kiss feverishly. She was caught up in the moment when she started lifting Paine’s shirt up, only to be stopped by a whiney voice.

“RIKKU! Kad uh dra creb! Fa'na hud kuehk du fyed rana vunajan!” (Get on the ship! We're not going to wait here forever!)

Ahhhg! Damn you, Brother! Of all the days for you to get an early start on things! “Ahh. I’m going to kill him!”


“Not before I do,” Paine whispered as she smiled and kissed Rikku.

The two girls got up off the floor and grabbed their stuff. “Thanks to your brother, so much for breakfast.”

“I think I’ve gotten enough sweetness this morning. Let’s get him to take us to the café for an omelet. He so owes us.”

The older girl nodded and the two left the room. Once they boarded the ship, the Al Bhed ran over and punched her brother on the arm. “Rikku! What was that for?”

“Firstly, it was for you not picking us up last night. Secondly, it was for ruining this morning. Thirdly, it was for being a nuisance, and fourthly it’s just an obligation! Now…to make up for your lack of brains, you get to take me and Painey here to the café to get us an omelet.”

Brother rubbed his arm and was rearing back to slug Rikku when Buddy stopped him. “Alright Brother calm down. Now Rikku, we will be happy to get you that omelet but it’s gonna have to wait. We’ve gotten some strange sphere readings and it’s nothing I’ve ever seen before.”


Paine stepped in, “I thought all the spheres were found by the time we defeated Vegnagun. How is it you’ve found these sphere waves?”

“Well you see,” Shinra turned around in his chair, “I’ve been working with our sphere locator. Some time ago I found that Sin had somehow covered a lot of spheres with a sort of cloaking device. The same stuff the toxin was made out of. After tinkering with what the locator searches for, I’ve been able to set it up to find the airwaves that Sin has embedded on these spheres.”

The warrior scoffed and crossed her arms, “so why not do that to begin with?”

The crew looked at Shinra and waited for an answer. “I’m just a kid.”

Paine threw up he hands and turned around and whispered, “I’m just a kid…right.”

Rikku smiled at Paine. “Okie doke then…does anyone else know about the cloaking toxins? I mean we need to know if we’ll have competition getting these spheres.”

Buddy went and sat in his seat and started typing stuff in on his computer. After a couple of minutes he shook his head and turned around. “Right now there have only been theories. No one else has publicly announced their findings but that doesn’t mean they don’t know. Shinra can’t be the only genius in Spira.”

The girls sighed and looked at each other. With a slight nod, Paine turned around and walked toward the elevator. The blonde watched her go and faced her brother. “It’s decided then. Full speed ahead boys, next stop…where ever the spheres are!”



“Hu, E's pucc yht fa mayja frahajan E's nayto!” (No, I'm boss and we leave whenever I'm ready!)

“Frydajan Brother. Mad ic ghuf frahajan OUI yna nayto,” Rikku told her sibling. (Whatever Brother. Let us know whenever YOU are ready.)

The young Al Bhed shook her head at Brother’s yelling and left in the same direction as Paine. Reaching the elevator, she found Paine leaning against the wall. “You think we’ll find anything interesting?”

Rikku pushed the button and put her hands on her hips. Sighing, she shifted her weight and shook her head. “ I don’t know Dr. P. I mean, I hope we do but what if Sin’s toxin erased the contents on the spheres like it did everyone’s memory. You know about that first hand. You lost-”


“Rikku. I’m aware of what I’ve lost,” Paine whispered as the elevator door opened, “yet I’m also aware of what I’ve gained.”

She walked inside the elevator and pressed the button for the cabin. Rikku walked in and hugged Paine and rested her head on her chest. “Me too.”


“Yuna, what’s wrong with you? I thought we talked about this? It was a competition and-”

“I almost killed my friend Tidus! I-I was way out of line and that spell was completely uncalled for! I’m so ashamed…I haven’t even asked how she’s doing. What kind of friend am I,” Yuna whimpered.

Tidus kneeled down in front of her and grabbed her hands. “You’re a good friend, Yuna. You just got carried away with the competition and wanted to win so bad. Don’t punish yourself for that. If you want we can go visit her and see how she’s doing.”


Yuna’s two toned eyes welled up and she smiled brightly. “You think she’d even talk to me again?”


“If she’s as good of a person as you say,” Tidus inwardly cringed, “then she will welcome you happily and with open arms.”

“That sounds nothing like her but I hope you’re right,” Yuna sniffed and kissed her boyfriend. “Thank you Tidus…thank you so much.”



Inside the cabin, Rikku and Paine ate breakfast and waited on the couch for Brother to be ready to leave. “This is getting ridiculous.”

“I know Paine but it’s Brother…remember that time right after you first joined us? When we waited two days to get that sphere in Macalania because he had a bad sunburn and wanted to peel himself.”

The warrior suppressed a small grin, “I almost left after that.”

Rikku leaned into Paine, “I’m glad you didn’t. This would’ve been hard without you.”

The silver haired warrior shifted in her seat. Where would I be if I hadn’t have stayed? Dead possibly. My lifestyle would’ve spiraled into Nooj’s reputation. Deathseeker. That would’ve been me. Maybe I’m afraid of being alone. Why didn’t I leave? “Paine…why didn’t you leave after that? I mean I’ve grown up with Brother…I know how he is. But you just became a Gullwing a few weeks before that.”

“I don’t know Rikku.” Sure you do. You can tell her. “I mean it could’ve been…” It could’ve been nothing…you know why you stayed. “I wanted to find my purpose…and what my parents did before they died.”

Rikku only heard Paine mention her parents once before. She said they were taken by Sin and the conversation was dropped. Never again did she think Paine would talk about them, even more it being herself bringing it up. The thief was speechless but she wanted so much to say something. What do I say to this? She’s sharing her past with me and I don’t know how to respond. Oh Rikku think think think! “Your parents?” Smooth Rikku…just repeat what she just said….nice.

“My mother and father. The last time I saw them I was 14. They told me they had business with a priest. Said they’d be back by nightfall. I was too busy playing to care where they went…just as long as they didn’t make me go with them.” Paine swallowed and exhaled softly. “Night came and my parents didn’t come home, so I went to look for them. I searched everywhere and asked everyone and one man said he saw them. Said they just headed back to the village about an hour ago. Upon my return, I found our home a wreak. Sin had come and demolished everything. My friends, neighbors, pets, everything….destroyed. I ran towards the sea in hopes of seeing Sin to let it kill me too. All that was there was the silent sound of everything lost. I blacked out. The next morning I sat where my home used to be, feeling sorry for myself like an idiot.”

“Paine you had just lost everything.”

“That’s no excuse!” Paine immediately felt bad for raising her voice at Rikku. “I shouldn’t have felt sorry for myself. I should’ve been thankful that I was still alive, that I could go on living. Instead, I wanted to end my life. I didn’t have the courage to do it myself…so I went to find a fiend to rid me of my despair. I searched, only to find the whole are to be clear of fiends. By that time, I had done a lot thinking…I vowed I wouldn’t die until I found why I was spared from Sin’s wrath. By joining you, I was hoping it would lead to answers.”


Rikku fought hard to hold back tears. “Have you…have you found your purpose yet?”

Crimson eyes caught emerald and held their gaze for a long moment. “I think-” You know. “I know I have. I was spared by Fate to help the fight against Vegnagun.” Is that all? Maybe to protect your old friends, Yuna…Rikku, perhaps? Paine lowered her eyes. I was saved to kill Vegnagun wasn‘t I? The others’ lives just happen to get entwine amongst mine…right?

It was her all along.


No, the other girl you’re hopelessly in love with.

Damn…I’m a smartass even to myself…. “Paine?”

The warrior looked up just in time to see a Rikku throw herself at her. The thief rested against her and squeezed tighter. Her warmth ran through Paine and instantly her heart swelled. You’ve changed. A year ago you never would’ve even touched Rikku. It took you four months to even give her a compliment. Now you’re kissing her, hugging her, and telling her your life story. And there isn’t a thing in Spira, that you would trade for this moment. Paine knew that her conscience was right. There wasn’t a thing in Spira that would make her stop loving her. “Paine, I farted.” Except maybe that.

Paine blushed slightly, exhaled and shut her eyes. “Oh I didn’t mean to ruin the moment! I’m really sorry, Paine!”

Rikku looked as if she was getting ready to start crying with her nose reddening and her face scrunching up. The older girl stood up and held out a hand. “Let’s get some fresh air, Hero.”

The blonde took note of Paine’s choice of words, however, she still allowed herself to be led to the deck. Once outside she felt a lot better. The sun had felt good on her skin and the wind’s caress seemed to help rid her of stress. Rikku released Paine’s hand and ran over to the hood ornament. She plopped down and soaked up all the sun’s rays. Ah this feels so nice. A morning chill, happy sun beams, and my love. “Life can’t get much better.”

“Or can it?”

“Hm? Paine you say something,” Rikku questioned as she sat up.

“Can life get any better,” she questioned again, sitting down.

“I’d like to see how. I mean…what else do we need? We have our health. We have food and all that stuff. We have a job that we love. We have saved Spira…and…we have each other.”

Paine thought it over. We do have everything…don’t we? There isn’t anything else I need or want. Yet why does that question bug me? Can life get any better? No, it can’t. But that nagging feeling. What is it?

“So, Paine…ryja oui paah drehgehk ypuid ic?” (have you been thinking about us?)

Rikku always felt a little more at ease using her native tongue. The day she found out that Paine could understand and speak it was one of the happiest moments of her life. Something as simple as being able to communicate fully and wholly with another person she cared for, was huge for the young thief.

“Oac.” (Yes.)

“Sa duu! E drehg fa'na kuut dukadran, Paine. E's hud zicd cyoehk dryd palyica E drehg oui'na rud, pid palyica fa'na ytunypma yht fa, is...lusb-me-sahd aylr udran famm?” (Me too! I think we're good together, Paine. I'm not just saying that because I think you're hot, but because we're adorable and we, um...comp-li-ment each other well?)

Compliment each other? Has she been reading Yuna’s old romance novels again? After that time she said she “fondled” the machina, Yuna and I had to take them away. The silver haired woman cleared her throat. “Rikku, E-” Okay Paine how do you say this? You can’t drop the l word on her now…you have to prevaricate this. “Um…Rikku, E ytuna oui suna dryh oui ghuf yht,” Damn, I just used the word adore. Have I ever used that word before? Ack now I’m rhyming! Rikku you make me flummoxed! Fuck! Flummoxed?! What’s wrong with me?! (I adore you more than you know and)

“Yyyyhhhttt,” Rikku coaxed as she leaned towards Paine. (Aaaannnddd)

You make me hot and horny? What?! What do you want from me? Calm Paine calm…this is Rikku. Nothing is different between you two so stop acting like a little kid. You’re an adult…find the old Paine. “Respect points, Rikku.”

Cid’s daughter fell face first into the Celsius. Rubbing her face, Rikku sighed contently and smiled. “I can never win with you, can I?”

“Oui fuh so raynd.” (You won my heart.)

With that said, Paine stood up and walked back inside the airship. Rikku watched her friend’s figure disappear behind steel doors. She smiled again and laid back down. Studying the clouds, she let her mind wander over everything that has happened. Yunie almost killed Paine. Paine and I are together. I love her. She adores me. Vegnagun was her purpose to live. Not me. She lost everything she’s ever know at the age of 14. Thus, causing her to be rather reclusive and cold. I like to see someone come out cheerful and bubbly after that. Um…the spheres that were touched by Sin can now show up on radar. Hopefully the toxins didn’t erase the recordings. I’m not her reason to live. I shouldn’t be so selfish! Brother is a big poopie head. He needs to get some leadership skills. He owes me an omelet too. I need to make sure he does get me that. Vegnagun is more important than me. Stop it! Stop it stop it stop it! “Guh!”

Rikku sat up and hit her forehead. She cares about you, Rikku. Vegnagun is nothing…you’re what is left and here with her. You and her. You’re the thief who stole her heart…you’re the one who triumphed. It’s you and no one else. If anyone hurts her…Yunie…Yuna.

Grabbing at her temples, the Al Bhed slowly massaged her headache away. “Uh, this headache is disasteriffic.”

[End notes:

A.N. Yeah I really didn’t wanna stop right here but I am…I’m kinda playing with ideas and trying to figure how I’m gonna work it. Ya see the way I write is I get one idea…find a quote I like…center that chapter around it…and involve that one idea somewhere in that chapter. Now, for this one it is different because my idea was gonna be the ending but now it’s not and it’s gonna be in the next chapter. Yeah y’all don’t care…I’m just rambling… again…sorry this took forever and a day to get up. Sorry again that it isn’t as long as other chapters…this is more getting me back in the groove of writing. Neways, thank you for reading and being my inspiration! Kudos for you!


Chapter 12

Title: The Unveiling

[Author's notes: I just realized that the way this story is formatted makes it hard to read.  Like not being able to discern when they are talking, thinking, or when it's just regular narration.  I apoligize for that.  This chapter should be in the way I want it read.  Should....]

Without mysteries, life would be very dull indeed. What would be left to strive for if everything were known?

Charles de Lint


Paine walked briskly through the sliding door of the Bridge, “Brother! Let’s go already!”

“Paine! I am leader and I say I’m not ready yet!”

The warrior grabbed the Al Bhed by his suspenders and shook him. “I don’t care what you say. I say we leave now. End of discussion!”

She threw the man back down in his pilot seat and glared at Buddy. He quickly turned away and started typing furiously. “Um, there is a sphere near Kilika Woods. Head there then?”

Brother was slumped in his chair, pouting, arms crossed. Paine hit him on the back of the head. “Eyah! Fine! We go! But not because you said so! Because I, leader of the Gullwings, decided we were ready.”

“Good,” Paine said with a wry smile.

The silver headed female walked back to the elevator and took it up to the cabin. “Tysh, Brother. Oui zicd kud dumt.” (Damn, Brother. You just got told.)

“Kyr, E TET HUD KAD DUMT! E zicd vekinat ed fyc desa du ku huf.” (Gah, I DID NOT GET TOLD! I just figured it was time to go now.)

Buddy scoffed, “Hmmph...frydajan oui cyo syh.” (Hmmph…whatever you say man.)

Shinra turned around in his chair and looked at the other two. “Cra fyc y meddma suna ykknacceja dryh iciym. Oui drehg cusadrehk ec ib?” (She was a little more aggressive than usual. You think something is up?)

The three friends shared an amused glance. “Naaahhh!”


The elevator stopped at the cabin and Paine didn’t move. Instead she pressed the button for the deck. The doors slid open and she walked out into the morning air. “Rikku?”

The thief wasn’t near the ornament. She probably went back into the cabin then. “Hyrah! Got cha!”

Paine side stepped and watch the blonde fall face first into the deck. Her feet hung in the air for a second and plopped down into the floor with a loud thud. Groaning she moved, rather twitched, slightly and mumbled under her breath. “You and your reflexes.”

The warrior smirked and lifted the girl to her knees and examined her face. A tiny bruise was forming on her jaw line already. She rubbed it lightly and looked into saddened eyes. Immediately her heart sank. “What is it, Rikku?”

“How is it you always manage to stay ahead of me? I can never seem to sneak up on you but you so easily can do it to me. I’ve always prided myself on being able to sense people and know when they are near but not with you. Even with your loud boots, you can still manage to sneak up on me. And by Spira I can never seem to catch you off guard,” the blonde huffed.

A small smile grew on the older girl’s face as she shook a few strands of hair away from her eyes. “You want to know my secret?”

Rikku’s eyes widened and she leaned forward with a nod. Paine licked her lips and whispered into the Al Bhed’s ear, “I’m a ninja.”

The younger girl burst into a fit of giggles and fell back. Paine tilted her head and studied her friend with amusement glittering in her eyes. Cute. Rikku’s fit finally calmed down and she wiped a tear from her eye. Her smile was still wide and her cheeks still rosy. “So, kunoichi, you have any tricks of the trade?”

A thin, silver eyebrow twitched and raised. “Perhaps.”

“Uh huh? Care to share?”

“Not really.”

Rikku scoffed and was suddenly sent hurling forward. She smashed into Paine and the two went sliding across the deck. Both of them slammed their bodies close to the ground and tried their best to hang on and not be thrown off to the land below. “Damn Brother.”

Reaching for her mike, Rikku yelled into it, “BROTHER! FA'NA UH DRA TALG!” (WE’RE ON THE DECK!)

Some static and an insouciant answer came back, “Fryd? Drana ec duu silr feht.” (What? There is too much wind.)


A panicked sound came from the microphone and the Celsius slowed immediately. Rikku grabbed Paine and they went inside the door. “After everything we’ve been through, to die because Brother threw us off the ship.”

Rikku grimaced slightly and hugged Paine closer, still trembling. But if we had been thrown off…it would’ve been okay because I was with you. If only you knew how much I like you. Paine sensed Rikku was troubled and stepped back for a moment. “Rikku?”

The blonde shook her head and forced a weak smile. “Come on…let’s go lie down for a moment.”

Paine allowed herself to be led to the cabin and once they arrived they went up to the couch. Rikku sat down and patted the seat next to her. Paine sat down in the corner and Rikku curled up against her with her head in her lap. She closed her eyes and gently stroked the warrior’s knee. Brother’s voice broke the silence, asking if they made it inside safely yet. Touching her intercom, Paine responded with a monotone, “yes.”

The airship shifted in gear and continued on toward its destination. Both the girls relaxed into each other and the couch and drifted off into a light sleep.


Paine stirred as the Celsius slowed down, causing the blonde to shift. She now looked up towards Paine. “I can see up your nose.”


The warrior shook her bangs out of her eyes and tilted her head down. A calm smile formed on her face and a gleam of mischief passed quickly through her eyes. She took her hand and cupped Rikku’s face gently. As the Al Bhed closed her eyes she moved her hand and grabbed the girl’s nose and pulled. Rikku whined nasally, “nnnn Peaine! Lnet go!”


The silver hair girl chuckled quietly and released her nose. Rikku tapped it and flared her nostrils to make sure they were still working. Now sitting up, she glared at Paine who returned an innocent look. “Don’t give me that look, missy! You‘re not so innocent.”

Paine softly tilted Rikku’s chin up and leaned in for a kiss. The thief quickly gave in and returned her show of passion with ferocity of her own. They separated, breathing slightly labored. The warrior took one more quick kiss and stood up, holding out her hand. Rikku formed a wide smile and took the hand gratefully. You’re such a softie now, Paine. Both girls thought in unison.



Down in Kilika Woods, they passed Donna and Barthello. Rikku made small talk about the competition, sphere hunting, and what was new. Paine waited patiently and only added input when Rikku brought her into the conversation. After a bit, the two were off on their mission once again.

“Paine…I don’t see any cave.”

The warrior had been silent since they passed through the gate and into the woods. She used to play there as a kid and knew exactly the cave Buddy was talking about. She found it while playing hide and seek with Tarja, her best friend, and they covered it up expertly so no one else could find it. Judging from the area around the opening, they had done a pretty good job hiding it. Only minor scuff marks that could’ve been made by a Squatter monkey easily. “Here.”

Rikku turned her head towards Paine and moseyed up behind her. “Wow. How’d you know it was here?”

“Lucky guess,” Paine replied in a low voice.

The blonde sensed something was wrong and she was guessing it had something to do when she was younger. She touched the warrior softly on the shoulder and turned her to face her. Grief appeared in her eyes briefly before being replaced by a callous expression. Rikku pleaded quietly with her eyes and the once cold expression turned benevolent. She smiled down at the younger girl and urged her forward. Inside the cave was cool and damp. Just as Paine had remembered it. The women followed several twists and turns, searching for a glowing orb. “Wait you two.”

Buddy’s voice had surprised both of them and they jumped ever so slightly. “The sphere should be located to your right.”

The duo looked right and then at each other. Rikku shifted her weight and answered back, “uh…Buddy…there is only a wall there.”

A chuckle could be heard over the microphone. “Well, looks like you two better start digging.”

Rikku grimaced and Paine sighed. They walked over to the wall and began to remove some of the dirt. “If this thing caves in on us I’m going to haunt you for the rest of your life, Buddy.”

A soft laugh was all that answered. Once the two took away about five inches of dirt, they hit rock. Wiping away the grime, they found something to be written illegibly on it. The word ‘to’ could be read and an ‘a’ and an ‘e.’ “To something something something comma a word with an ‘a’ and an ‘e.’ Wow, that doesn’t really help us does it, Paine?”

“No, not really. Let’s just get the sphere and go.”

Rikku nodded and grabbed the brick. “We should take this to Shinra to see if he can find out what it says.”

Upon pulling the brick out, a red sphere dropped to the ground below. Paine picked it up and she and Rikku headed back out. Once on the airship, they gave the brick and sphere to Shinra and waited. “This should only take a moment.”

A fuzzy image popped up on the screen and Rikku leaned heavily on the chair to try and get a better look. A figure of a woman could be seen. She had long silver hair and garnet eyes. She was on her knees bowing down to someone. There was another shadow beside her. The silhouette looked like a man. He, too, was on his knees bowing. The image faded away and came back to the woman staring at the sphere recorder talking. “What is she saying? Say Paine…that woman kinda looks like you. Paine?”

The older girl stood there stunned. Her eyes flickered back and forth as her gaze penetrated the screen, unblinkingly. Rikku turned her away from the screen and shook her lightly. Her expression unchanging, Paine closed her mouth. She looked down at Rikku’s feet and then back at the screen. “Mom?”

[End notes: Okay....I know...cliff hanger...hate me now!  I know I know.  But I'm gonna start workin on the next chapter and hopefully not stop half way through.  Yep.  You know you wanna review.  :D  I'd be a happy camper if you doooo.]

Chapter 13

Title: Next Stop...

[Author's notes:

A.N.  And where have I been?!  Actually I’ve been in Iraq.   Gotta love deployments.  But since I have some down time and am back, I figured I should get to work on what I started oh so long ago.  Please forgive me for taking this long. 


Losing and illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth.

-Ludwig Borne


            “Mom?” the team repeated.

            Paine stepped back from the screen and shook her head.  No, it can’t be.  They died because of sin.  “Shinra, check the date that sphere was recorded. “

            Shinra typed furiously on his keyboard.  After a few moments he responded, “it was recorded 3 years and 5 months ago.”

            I was 15…my parents didn’t die from Sin.  The warrior’s mind was running with thought after thought after thought.  How could I have missed them?  How come they never found me?  Why still haven’t I found them?  I’ve been all over this damned world and haven’t seen them.  Why put this sphere in the cave I used to play at?  Did they know I would eventually go back there?  “Play it again.”

            The sphere started once again and Shinra turned it up to max volume.  The imaged jumped constantly.  In the first part it looked as if they were in a temple.  The second part looked as if they were on the bridge near the Djose temple.  Paine’s mother’s voice could barely be heard.  “Paine, my darling daughter, I know you will find this.  You have always been strong and I know Sin could not take you.  From birth I knew you were meant for great things.  Upon your father’s and my return home, we found it in shambles.  There wasn’t any sign of you but we felt you were alive and must have moved on ahead.   I’m sorry we had to leave you that day.  I pray every night that it didn’t happen but every morning I am answered the same.  We leave this sphere where you and Tarja played.  We know you’ll come back here.  We have moved to Djose temple in hopes of finding a summoner who can destroy this fiend we call Sin.  We will be working there and we have faith you will return to us.  We love you, our precious warrior.  Praise be to Yevon.”

            Rikku broke the silence with a small “umph” as she reached towards the brick on the table.  She stared intently at the markings that have mostly worn off.  To blank blank blank…comma A, E.  Paine must be the last word…three letters?  Our.  What’s this next one?  That kinda looks like an L…little?  To our little...”To our little” RIkku whispered under her breath.

            “To our little spinel,” Paine said almost silently.  A minute smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.  “They used to call me their treasure gem…when I was little.”

            Rikku touched her arm softly and held to her the brick.  A shaky hand grasped the piece and held it under poignant eyes.  A small gasp escaped Paine’s lips as she grabbed the sphere and left.

            “Rikku, ku caa fryd cra fyhdc du tu,” Brother commanded.  (Rikku, go see what she wants to do.)

            The blonde hesitated but nodded and chased after Paine.

            The warrior was in the cabin changing out of her clothes.  She grabbed a towel and headed to the shower.  Rikku clomped up the stairs and glanced at Paine’s area.  The brick was resting on her nightstand, facing towards her pillow.  The clothes she had just worn were strewn across her bed with no attempt of organization.  The Al Bhed picked them up and checked the pockets before she tossed them in the laundry bin.  She grabbed a clean set of the warrior’s clothes and set them on the bed.  She laid down on her own sheets and picked at her nails, waiting for the silver haired girl to come back.

            Inside the bathroom, Paine stood under the hot water as it cascaded down her body.  Steam took up every area of the room and a faint sob could be heard.  The warrior surprised herself with he own emotion.  Tears mixed with water and soon she couldn’t tell if she was still crying or not.  Her hair fell in front of her face and she pushed it out of her eyes as she leaned backwards and looked up.  The light above her was barely visible from the cloudy vapor.  Should I look for them?  It’s been almost 5 years.  I would have thought they would’ve found me by now.  Maybe they don’t want to hear from me.  This explains the dreams I’ve been having though.  What should I do? 

            Rikku listened as the water shut off and the soft tapping of wet feet hit the floor.  A few minutes later the door opened and a towel clad woman whose life just turned upside down, walked out.  Her damp hair was hanging loosely over her eyes, still dripping a little.  The sun made the silver glitter radiantly as she shuffled over to the clothes waiting for her.  “Thank you, Rikku.”

            The thief smiled with a tilt of her head, “it’s no problem.  It’s what I do.”

            The warrior quickly got dressed and sat down beside where Rikku was laying.  She handed the girl her towel, who sat up and began drying her friend’s hair.  They began doing small things like this about 2 weeks after Yuna left.  Rikku loved to dry and brush Yuna’s hair, yet with her gone, she slowly fell into a depressed state.  One afternoon, Paine decided she needed to help the little thief cheer up and she asked her if she’d mind fixing her hair.  Rikku had teased it so much, from having withdraws, that the warrior sported a perma-fro for 3 days.  Since then the blonde has calmed down and had actually given Paine a few other hairstyles.  Both of their favorites being the simple tousled look with mousse to keep it looking wet. 

            “I don’t know what to do, Rikku.  Should I find them?  Should I say leave them alone?  They didn’t even come look for me!”

            Rikku jumped slightly at the tone of her friend’s voice.  She cleared her throat, yet her voice was shaky and quiet, “we’ve been to Zanarkand, Besaid, and everywhere in between, Paine.  It isn’t like you have a permanent address they could’ve found you at.”

            Too busy wallowing in her self-pity, Paine failed to realize the practical side of the situation.  She was right about that.  It isn’t like she stayed in one place for very long.  Even when she was with the Crimson Squad…they were all over Spira.  Perhaps they did try and find her.  Maybe they were waiting for her to find them.  But what happens if they didn’t want her to find them?  “What if they didn’t want me to look for them?”

            “Then they wouldn’t have left you that sphere, baby.”

            Another point made.  That’s Rikku 2, Paine 0.  “We should go to Djose and see if Gippal knows anything.”

            Rikku wasn’t sure if this was a question or a statement so she smiled and nodded anyways.  She folded the towel and tossed it at the foot of her bed.  Pushing back the warrior’s bangs, Rikku leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek.  “Missed.”

            The blonde smiled sweetly and pulled her into a soft kiss.  Sitting back, she pushed Paine’s bangs back again and cupped her cheek.  She opened her mouth but closed it and gave a smile.  Retracting her hand, Rikku stood up and headed for the stairs.  “Rikku,” a weary voice called out.

            The Al Bhed turned back with a questioning look.  “We can leave tomorrow.  No rush today.”

            “I’ll go tell Brother.”

            “Dryhgc…” (Thanks…)

            “Hu bnupmas.” (No problem.)

            Turning back around, she headed down the steps and toward the elevator.  The boys were waiting eagerly when she got down to the bridge.  “Zicc?”  (Well?)

            “Cra fyhdc du ku du Djose yht dymg du Gippal du caa ev ra\'c caah dras.  Cra cyet ed fyc ugyo ev fa mavd dusunnuf druikr,” Rikku relayed.  (She wants to go to Djose and talk to Gippal to see if he\'s seen them.  She said it was okay if we left tomorrow though.)

            Brother sank into his pilot’s seat and punched his hand.  “Nekrd...fa mayja vencd drehk dusunnuf drah.  Ku nacd ib.”  (Right…we leave first thing tomorrow then.  Go rest up.)

            Buddy and Shinra left their seats and headed to the elevator.  Rikku waved them bye and shuffled over to her brother.  “Dryhgc Brother.  E ghuf oui dfu ryja ryt ouin tevvanahlac pid drec naymmo sayhc y mud.  Du ran yht du sa.” (Thanks Brother.  I know you two have had your differences but this really means a lot.  To her and to me.)

            A hint of pink covered his cheeks and he waved his hand nonchalantly.  “Frydajan.  Ku yht kad uid uv rana.”  (Whatever.  Go and get out of here.)

            With that, Rikku punched him lightly on the arm and left the room.  After hearing the doors slide shut, Brother placed his hands behind his head, smiled to himself and sighed.  He then rubbed his hair back and forth and leaned forward to press autopilot. 

[End notes:

A.N. annnd that is all she wrote. Yes too long of a wait for such a short and shitty chapter but I have to get back in the swing of writing again.  Thank you all for being patient. 


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