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
“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.
“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.”