Quistis lay out on the deck of the Celsius, gazing up at the clouds as they rolled by. She sighed heavily and closed her eyes. She lay there for a moment, allowing the wind and the calm around her lull her into a light sleep. She wanted rest, but feared her dreams. She shuddered slightly as a few memories crept to the forefront of her mind. She didn't want to remember, she hated those memories.
"You can't hide from them," a curt voice cut into Quistis' mind. "Your memories will always be there to haunt you. That ... that is something I learned recently myself."
"I know," Quistis sighed. "I've always known, but I wanted a respite, if just for one day."
"We all want to get away, if only for a single day," the voice answered. "Gods, how I've tried."
"Was your past that bad Paine?" Quistis asked softly. "I know a few things I heard from the others on board, but I don't know much. I'd like to hear the story from the source. If you're willing to share, that is."
"Not all of it, but there were a few harsh times," Paine said tiredly. "I was involved in a pretty bloody massacre; one I was a target in. All of my friends and superiors were slaughtered. The only survivors were my team. Nooj, Baralai, Gippal, and me. We all survived a massacre we were intended to die in. After that, I wandered, until I joined the GullWings. You know the rest of that story."
"I guess you're a little like me then," Quistis mused. "I was targeted for death a good number of times before I met you all. I lost count halfway through the massive ordeal my friends and I dealt with."
"You saved your world from annihilation planned by a Time sorceress right?" Paine asked.
"We actually experienced the time compression process first hand," Quistis answered. "It was not something worthy of good praise. That battle took everything we had. And then after we get time off, we get sucked into another dimension. Some life, ne?"
"I didn't go through the new dimension thing, but yeah, I know what you mean," Paine agreed.
The two women fell into silence. They let the wind blow around them, hoping to rid themselves of their melancholy mood. Paine walked from the wall and sat next to Quistis. They sat for several minutes in silence, just happy to be in the other's company. The clouds rolled by lazily as the Celsius flew through the empty skies of Spira.
"Paine," Quistis said finally.
"Yeah?" Paine answered, her eyes still watching clouds.
"Do you ever feel like you're alone, even in a large crowd?" Quistis ventured.
"More times than I can recall," Paine answered evenly.
"I guess we're alike in many aspects then," Quistis mused ruefully.
"I guess," Paine shrugged. She turned her eyes to Quistis. "I've learned to ignore the feeling."
"You must be really strong to do that," Quistis said, her voice beginning to quiver.
"Not strong," Paine replied softly, "just stubborn."
Silence fell again, the two remaining seated on the open deck. They sat, the wind blowing all around them. Paine moved to sit closer to Quistis when a droplet hit her on the cheek. She wiped it off, and tasted it. She found it to be salty.
"Quistis?" Paine whispered, trying to get Quistis to look at her.
"Quistis look at me," Paine ordered softly.
"Why?" Quistis' voice cracked.
"Dammit, just look at me!" Paine barked.
Quistis raised her head and met Paine's narrowed red eyes with her own tear-filled blue ones.
"Why are you crying?" Paine asked.
"I'm alone," Quistis sobbed.
"We're never alone Quistis," Paine said soothingly. "If we feel alone, it's only because we choose to. Whether it's a conscious decision or not."
"What are you saying?" Quistis said her voice weak.
"I'm saying that you and I feel alone because we choose to, probably to avoid pain," Paine replied, holding Quistis' hand. "We have our friends and those we travel with, but they don't understand, so we isolate ourselves from getting attached."
Quistis looked at Paine in wonder for a minute. She quickly recovered from the awe of Paine's knowledge, and lowered her head, staring at her feet. "I don't know."
"We'll only stop being lonely when we stop being afraid," Paine ended. "I'm not sure if I'll ever stop fearing completely, but I've got to change a little sometime."
"We both do," Quistis said silently.
"Growth," Paine said sagely, "it's not what I am accustomed to doing. I just remembered what it's like to grow and change thanks to two people."
Quistis gave a soft chuckle. "We all change when we're around others like everyone here. Just try staying in the same room as Rikku, Selphie, Aerith, and Yuffie. Those girls have some sort of energy and positive aura that doesn't seem to die."
"Tell me about it," Paine chuckled. "Rikku's normally got enough bubbly energy for two people. But when her, Selphie and Yuffie get to talking; it's like a train wreck of words and sentences. Can't make a bit of sense out of one word they say."
This caused Quistis to laugh softly. "You're right, those three are impossible," She said, her eyes dancing mirthfully.
"If they're impossible," Paine said leadingly, "why do we hang around them so much?"
"That question," Quistis said thoughtfully, "should be given to the best scholars there is, because I haven't got a clue."
Paine laughed throatily. "I know," She said thickly. "It's a mind boggling enigma right?"
"Right," Quistis agreed.
Silence fell over the two again, but it was a comfortable silence. They laid themselves on the cool metal of the deck, side by side. They lay there, content in the other's company, just watching the clouds roll by through the blue sky. The thrum of the Celsius' engines not taking away from the calm and complete understanding the two women shared. Soon, their comfort began to drift into the realm of sleep. They dozed lightly, until a loud piercing yell brought them into full alert, brandishing their chosen weapons.
"RIKKU!!!" A battle cry that vibrated the entirety of the Celsius.
"Damn," Paine chuckled. "I wonder what that girl did to get Rinoa going."
"Dunno, it might be the missing panties she's been griping about." Quistis shrugged.
"You think it was Rikku?" Paine asked, completely surprised.
"It's possible, she has been acting a little odd lately," Quistis replied.
"Now that you mention it," Paine placed her hand on her jaw, " I did notice Rikku daydreaming off in a corner a few days ago."
"I noticed her extra bits of spacing out," Quistis agreed. "She's either got it bad, or she's lost something."
"Oh great," Paine sighed. "Just what we need, a girl in love."
Quistis laughed a bit. "It isn't all that bad," She said mirthfully. "Just be glad it's not you."
Paine slumped a little. "That's something I definitely don't need." Paine groaned. "She's too much of a handful for me. A little too bouncy and happy."
[Section By: Asukalover88 Edited By: KaitonLocke]
"Rikku stop!" Rinoa yelled, ill-tempered as she raced after the short Al-bhed girl. Rikku spared a glance over her shoulder as she knew she was in bad trouble now.
"How did she find out? I was so careful," Rikku mused thoughtfully.
The desert girl rounded a corner blindly as she ran into a soft, but firm body. Rikku fell back as she seen what she hit.
"Yuffie," The short ninja fell onto her butt as she shook her head in surprise and shock of what have must have been an out-of-control airship.
"Gee, what's the rush Rikku?" Yuffie asked rudely as she climbed to her feet rubbing her behind, but Rikku was already up and in full sprint.
"Bitch," Yuffie muttered to herself as Rinoa rounded the corner just missing her.
"Sorry Yuffie. Rikku get back here!" Rinoa apologized quickly as she was hot on Rikku's heels. The two disappeared around another corner as Yuffie followed at a paced walk. There was a loud thud and a victorious yell.
"I got you, you sneaky little thief." Rikku had tripped and fell over a plant and Rinoa had pounced on the girl to end the chase. Yuffie edged herself around the corner to find Rinoa straddling the young blond girl who, despite her position, continued to struggle.
"I know it was you, Aerith found your little stash. Don't do it again or so help me Shiva I'll ..." Rinoa warned as she balled her fist in Rikku discouraged face. The Al-bhed girl remained silent as she refused to look directly at Rinoa. Rinoa sighed in relief as she climbed off Rikku.
"Serves her right," Yuffie smirked meanly as she turned around to find Lulu looking down at her. The dark woman smiled deviously, her belt buckles clicked in annoyance with Yuffie as she looked at Rikku slowly lean up with tears in her eyes.
"You should never be basking in someone else's misery," Lulu's mentoring tone always irritated Yuffie to no end, acting like her opinion and those metaphors were that of a god.
"She ran into me and didn't say sorry. What do your great teachings have to say about that?" Yuffie snapped as her hands met her hips.
"I think you're a little confused," Lulu waved her fingers quickly casting a confusion spell on the stubborn ninja girl. Yuffie's head slowly rotated in place as she waited to be told what to do. Lulu leaned in and whispered her command softly into the girl's ear. Yuffie turned and headed for Rikku without a second thought. The al-bhed girl still sat on the floor thinking about what she did with tears streaming down her cheeks.
"What do you want?" Rikku wiped the tears away swiftly, trying to hide her unbidden emotions.
"I jus' wanted to tell you I'm sorry for basking in your misery." Yuffie answered.
Rikku looked up at the girl with her own confusion as her mind followed a single line of thought, "That sounds like something Lulu would say," Rikku said through her tears.
"Here, let me help you," Yuffie offered both hands to help up the Al-bhed girl. Rikku took her hands into Yuffie's and pulled herself up. Both girls stood face to face, unsure of what to say or do next. Paine and Quistis spotted the two from down the hall and headed towards them.
"I'm sorry and..." Yuffie cut herself off as she embraced Rikku and kissed her deeply. Rikku's eyes flashed open in amazement as Yuffie pushed her tongue into her
warm mouth. Paine and Quistis watched in awe as Yuffie continued for several seconds with her full-lip service.
Out of nowhere, a moogle appeared suddenly over Yuffie's head and landed lightly on it, snapping her out of the confusion spell. Yuffie opened her eyes slowly to find them staring directly in Rikku's. Shock struck Yuffie instantly, realizing her tongue was not in her own mouth as she jerked back. Rikku's mouth remained slack as her own mind reeled unable to understand what had just happened. Laughter crept from down the hall as both girls blinked, shaking their heads to find where it was coming from.
"Wow, I think that was cutest thing I've ever seen, what about you Quistis?" Paine leered hotly at the two stunned girls as she glanced over at Quistis.
"I'm jealous through and through Paine," Quistis smiled as she covered her own emotions for Paine by poking a little fun. Both girls blushed darkly as they knew it was time to flee, the two ran in opposite directions from one another, knowing it would do them no good, each knew by nightfall all the girls would know about their kiss, and then the razing...
"Come out Lulu," Quistis called out as the Al-bhed and ninja girl disappeared from sight.
Metal buckles clicked slowly as the tall, black cropped haired girl came from into view, smiling cunningly. "You summoned?" Lulu drawled seductively.
[Section By: KaitonLocke]
Rinoa sat on her bed thinking about how she threatened Rikku earlier. She hated scaring the younger girl, but it had to be done. She had been noticing her underwear disappearing, but had no clues as to why. Then, as a complete surprise, Aerith had told her about Rikku's stash of panties and bras. A thorough search of Rikku's hidden alcoves had turned up all of her missing underwear. It even looked like hers were the only ones in the Al-bhed theif's collection.
'That's really odd now that I think about it.' Rinoa thought to herself. 'She's good enough to swipe everyone, save Paine's, underwear. Why just mine?' Rinoa shook her head slowly. She sighed and fell onto her back on the bed. 'I don't get it. Maybe she'll explain if I go and talk to her.'
Quistis eyed Lulu airily. "I did find your little game with Yuffie and Rikku rather funny, but why'd you do it?"
"To teach Yuffie an important lesson," Lulu said guardedly. "It needed to be done, so I did it."
"True," Paine said demurely, " but why have her kiss Rikku?"
"That wasn't the intent," Lulu said, her face coloring slightly. "I only meant for her to apologize."
Quistis chuckled briefly. "So your spell was off this time?"
"Yes," Lulu admitted softly. "I'll work on fixing that."
"You do that Lulu," Paine said, smirking. "We'll be off bashing some dummies I set up in the engine room."
"Don't go too far this time," Lulu said mirthfully. "I remember the last time you were "training" down there. Shinra was livid."
Paine blushed a little and Quistis giggled into her hand. "I'll make sure she restrains herself Lulu." Quisits said, her smile not fading.
Rinoa knocked lightly on the cabin door. "Rikku?" She called softly. "Rikku, I know you're in there, can I come in?"
"Rikku, I'm sorry about earlier, can I please come in? I want to talked to you." Rinoa pleaded.
"... You can come in Rinoa." Rikku said softly, her voice slightly hoarse.
"Rikku?" Rinoa crooned as she entered the cabin. "Are you alright? I hope you aren't this upset because of earlier. I'm really sorry!"
"No, it's not about you," Rikku sniffled. "It's ... it's Yuffie."
"Yuffie?" Rinoa echoed, confused. "What about Yuffie."
"She ... she kissed me!" Rikku blurted.
"She WHAT!?" Rinoa shouted.
"She kissed me," Rikku whispered again.
"I ... she ... I thought ... what?" Rinoa stuttered.
"Yeah, my thoughts exactly," Rikku laughed angrily. "She up and kissed me, and after the way she's be insulting and pushing me around lately."
"Wow ... that's out of left field for sure," Rinoa murmured, mostly to herself.
"You're tellin' me!" Rikku spat bitterly.
'Why all of a sudden?' Rinoa thought to herself. 'She never showed signs of liking Rikku before. Was the way she was acting her trying to lie to herself about how she felt? What's going on? And why is this making me feel so sad? What in the world is happening!?"
"I wish she'd make up her mind," Rikku moaned. "One minute she hates me, the next she's shoving her tongue in my mouth."
"Maybe something was wrong with her today and she was hit by a bad spell during her hunting?" Rinoa tried hopefully.
"I did see a moogle hit her over the head," Rikku said thoughtfully.
"Lulu!" Rinoa shouted.
"Nah," Rikku dismissed it easily. "She wouldn't do that, she likes Yuffie as much as Paine's head over heels for Quisty."
"Yeah I guess you're right," Rinoa agreed. "I'm sure it was just a coincidence. I bet it was ... wait a minute! Paine's in love with Quisty!?"
"Yeah, you couldn't tell?" Rikku said animatedly. "I mean with all the secret looks and brooding over something Quisty says all the time, it should have been something anyone can see."
"Oh, I guess I missed all that," Rinoa mused quietly. 'I'm really out of it if I missed that. What in the world is wrong with me? I guess my time around Rikku's affecting my sense of the obvious."
"I feel a little better now," Rikku said suddenly. "What did you want to apologize for? I sorta deserved what I got for stealing' and stashing' your panties."
"Right, about that, I wanted to know why it was only my panties." Rinoa asked thoughtfully.
Rikku blushed and began stammering incoherently. "I ... well ... um ... yeah ... right ... hehehe ..."
Rinoa stared at Rikku oddly for a second then shook her head as if to clear her thoughts. "Right, well I guess it doesn't matter. It's done and over with, so let's forget it. I'll talk to you later okay?"
Still blushing, Rikku nodded enthusiastically. "Sure! Well talk some more later. Bye!"
Rikku all but shoved Rinoa out of her cabin and shut the door. Rinoa stood there for a moment, and then turned to walk down the hall to the elevator. She placed her finger on her lips and pondered Rikku's reaction to her question, and her hurried goodbye.
Back in her cabin, Rikku sighed and leaned against the door. 'Crap... that was [i]WAY[/i] too close. I can't tell her yet. Not now, not after the incident with Yuffie. I'll tell her, but not now. I'll definitely tell her."
Down in the engine room, Paine set up a series of dummies and targets in the open half of the room. She and Quistis summoned their weapons and readied for the attack. Tensing her whip, Quistis waited for her Paine's first move. Paine narrowed her eyes and coiled for a leap. Simultaneously, the two struck; Quistis' serrated whip cutting all of the hung discus cleanly in two, while Paine's sword dismembered each of the dummies easily.
"Heh," Paine scoffed, "not enough targets this time. That was too easy."
"Maybe it seems that way because there's two of us and we're fighting in sync?" Quistis offered.
"Could be," Paine shrugged. "Still too easy, not enough room in here anymore."
"That's true," Quistis agreed. "Maybe we should get Shinra to build us some mobile training bots."
"That might make it a little more challenging," Paine said thoughtfully. "It'd be a hassle to have him fix them all of the time though."
"That's true as well," Quistis sighed. "I guess we're too well trained now to improve our training while we're in flight."
Quistis folded her whip and let it disappear into her subspace pocket. Paine followed suit and her sword slipped into her pocket as well. The duo slid to the floor back to back, leaning on the other comfortably. Quistis smiled contentedly while Paine released her mask and closed her eyes. Silence fell and the pair reveled in the warmth of the other's body. Soon, the hum of the engines lulled them to sleep.