Rikku and Auron hunt for firewood on Mt. Gagazet. Kind of an Aurikku.
On Frozen Eyelashes and Sticky Situations
Auron wasn't a lumberjack. There were but two people in all of Spira that could
persuade Auron the Legendary to tromp around the frozen glassy slopes of Gagazet
hunting for dry firewood, of which there was very little in this snowy clime. Two people. One was his summoner, of course. The other was his weakness/. He was not proud of it. But it /was an indisputable fact at this point. He had succumbed. /Lulu had him, absolutely./ And she had asked him, sweetly with a slight plum-colored smile.
And while not particularly pleased to be combing this fowl peak for dry and dead pines, he understood it to be necessary. The skinny blonde monkey-girl behind him, however, was neither necessary to this mission nor welcome. However, Yuna had suggested he bring Rikku along. Rikku, she explained, was an Al Bhed --a survivalist. She was good at things like this, Rikku eagerly agreed. And, Auron must admit, the girl did flush out an abandoned rabbit's den full of usable tinder...but Auron certainly could have done such a thing himself, given a little more time.
"Auuuuuron..." The swordsman grimaced at the sound of her voice, nasal and high with protest.
"No." He furrowed his brow, despite the raw, wind-burnt state of his face.
"But there's a cave right there!" Rikku hopped in front of him, flailing her arms in the general direction of Where Auron Would Rather Not Go. "Come on! We can rest for a while. We'll be back waaay before sundown, I swear!"
Auron trudged forward silently and ceaselessly, the slow and steady crunching sound of his boots in the snow infuriating the girl. She put her foot down with all her force, the impact coiling through her like a spring. "I'm cold. I'm not going anywhere 'til I'm good and ready."
"Did you hear me?" The girl wailed into the brutal wind.
She zoomed in like a mosquito and tugged Auron's armless sleeve. "Let's go over there. Seriously, really, truly, I'm freezing." She met his glare with her green eyes large and turned up to like eleven on the sad-o-meter. She even did the pouty-lip-wibble thing that worked on practically everybody, even Pops when he's had about enough of her tomfoolery. Auron sighed his agitated sigh just like every time he reluctantly yielded to anything (which was practically everything that didn't have to do with always marching forward, forward, forward to Zanarkand and the Final Summoning and she really didn't want to think of that right now). He looked towards the cavern. Rikku woulda pumped her fist triumphantly, just like Tidus, if she wasn't all pulling her whimpering puppy shtick right then. She shivered rather convincingly and started to head toward the small weather-hewn shelter.
She paused when he didn't follow. "Let's go! I'm so cold...I've got goose pimples and everything!" She coughed and sniffled dramatically. "I might freeze to death, Auron! I might /die/."
Auron managed a shrug despite the armful of wood (of which he had to carry all, of course). "If my memory serves me correctly, there were no whiny thieves on Braska's pilgrimage and we did fine."
Rikku sputtered indignantly, shouting Al Bhed curses and insults after him. "Yunie doesn't need /you/, old man! Vlig!" Her voice rattled loud enough to call down avalanches and burned hot enough to melt them away in the same breath.
But all the same, he was walking toward the cave, which Auron soon realized was little more than a narrow chink in an exposed bit of cliff-face. He squeezed in sideways and lowered himself into a slump against cold rock. He huffed into his nearly frost-bitten hands and closed his good eye, presently as numb as his dead one. He was not about to admit, to himself or any other, that he was grateful for this brief respite from the elemental scorn of Gagazet.
Rikku followed shortly after, still flickering in her candle-flame rage, and but still pausing to knock her boots against the entrance of the cavern so as not to track in snow. She scowled at him. "They shoulda sent Kimahri instead." She sat with her arms folded, her back to him as best she could in the close quarters. "At least he doesn't want to see me dead."
"Kimahri stays with Yuna."
"Hmph." Rikku still hadn't perfected the art of the hmph like Auron had, but she tried.
"I." Auron began with an irritated snap, struggling to soften his voice as he continued. "Don't wish you were dead, Rikku." He couldn't have Yuna's cousin coming back with exaggerated tales of death threats from her senior guardian. "Please forgive me."
Rikku scrunched up her shoulders and lowered her head so he couldn't see her cheeks raising in a giddy grin. Her heart was clipping away like the cogwheel of the second-hand on a clock machina. Oooh/, did she sure like him. She reached out and with her ungloved fingers and started to absently draw patterns in the snow, which melted quickly on contact with her skin, warm with her quick-adapting Al Bhed blood. She didn't mean just regular old like, either. She like-liked/ him. She wanted him. And he was here, all alone. With /her/. She felt totally one hundred percent like electricity. She was so full of energy and he was too, but her energy was all up and down the road, talkin' to every stranger, pettin' every dog, hittin' every shop in every town, jumping on every bed at every travel agency and he was just like...a mountain that mostly sat sad, still and quiet and saved all that energy up for one great ginormous BOOM! or one CRACK! every now and then but made for sure everyone felt it when he did. Or maybe they were just magnets. Set 'em one way and they'll push each other out the door. Set 'em the right way and they'll tug each other 'til they cling hard and fast and maybe even forever. Rikku /got /magnets. Magnets made electricity.
"I thought you were cold." Auron stated plainly as the girl ran her bare fingers through the snow at the cave's entrance.
"Oh." Rikku drew back into the cave quickly, rattling her teeth as loud as she could and rubbing her hands together with a flourish. "Yeah, I am. Mind if I?" She smiled and leaned against his shoulder. "For body heat, y'know."
Auron jerked in startled discomfort, his robe falling from his shoulder. Rikku nearly squealed as they made real skin-to-skin, shoulder-to-shoulder contact. Hot! Except not really --his skin was all cold and shivery. "Wow, you're /freeeezing/." She marveled.
Auron grunted, backing further against the opposite wall. "And you're not." He observed bitterly.
She twisted her mouth guiltily. She supposed it was fess up time. "'Course not. I'm Al Bhed. How else you think I manage to run around in this get up?" She stuck her chest out teasingly and ran a kinda seductive finger from her neck to her navel, gauging his reaction. Of which there was absolutely none, other than a dead averted gaze. Rikku sighed and studied his defined profile, half hidden under that ugly collar thingie. Damn, did Yevon ever do right by making this one. If all monks looked like Auron, she'd totally be the piousest number one Yevonite nun in all of Spiran history. But then she couldn't.../erm/. Nuns gotta be chaste and all.
"Auron?" She said softly, with just the right amount of tacked-on shame and girlish insecurity pumped into her tone. "Do you like me?"
Questions like those made Auron uncomfortable; he'd learned they tended to have surreptitious motivations. But he was backed into a corner, literally and figuratively. He studied her and delivered his response carefully, in measured tones. "I believe you are an advantageous ally." Rikku's raised eyebrows and thrust-out neck made it clear she expected him to continue. Demanding as a pet dog. "I respect your knowledge of weaponry and armour, and your craftsmanship in customizing them."
"Really?' Her tornado-swirl eyes widened. "But you've got all them hoity toity ideals and values and stuff. I always thought you hated me. Me being a thief and all."
"I don't approve of your lack of traditional morals when it comes to personal property, but we have probably benefited from that expertise." Auron looked at her. "Enough?"
This time Rikku didn't hide her smile, and it stretched wide as the Moonflow and twice as sparkly. He was as predictable as a machina. A sexy, sexy machina. He kinda acted like one, too. Rikku knew machina. It if this wasn't a total "now or never" sorta time! She twisted a braid and ran her tongue across her front teeth. "Auron, do you think I'm pretty?"
Auron looked at her, stunned and empty.
"You can be honest, it's ok." She babbled eagerly. "I think you're pretty cute, myself. I mean I'd totally do you."
Dumbfounded, slightly terrified, and feeling a panicked, urgent need to remove himself from the situation immediately, Auron stuttered. "W-We. We need to leave now." He rose to his knees, frantically rearranging the firewood in his arms.
Rikku stood, her shoulders slouching to afford for the low ceiling. She stood in the entrance with her all of her spidery limbs splayed out, blocking the exit "Nu-uh."
"Why?" Rikku demanded. "Boys like me. Almost every single boy I've known does." Still blocking the exit with one arm, she reached put one hand on his face. It was a little warmer, but his breath still came out in puffs. She followed his pronounced and unshaven jawline to his neck, where there were goose pimples. She wanted to go lower, but that stupid cowl!
Auron took her wrist firmly as soon as he fully regained his motor control. "Do not do that."
"Oh, /please/. It's not like it's a big deal. I'll even do all the work. No commitment." She chirped casually, scratching her cheek.
Auron shook his head slowly. "You're /young/--" He stammered.
"Since when has that /ever /been an issue for Yevonites? You should be honored!" She gave a small mock-indignant snort and lowered her voice to a loud whisper. "I'm no virgin, if that's what you're hung up on."
"I did not need to know that. I do not care--"
Rikku had lifted her shirt. She grinned /Perky as morning songbirds/, she liked to say. "Let's go."
Rikku let out a huff of air that sent a stray strand of her blonde hair billowing upwards. "You at least owe me an explanation."
"I do /not/."
And then it struck her. She let the other arm fall. Auron silently noted this strategic opening. He would still have to push her aside to escape the alcove, and he would rather avoid physical contact at all costs. He briefly pondered how he might knock the girl unconscious without any long-term damage. Alas, Yuna would not likely respond well to such a plan, honorable motive or no. "You like /boys/, don't you?"
"Seriously, it all makes perfect sense now! The whole refusing the hand of the priest's daughter thing, the whole Braska obsession. And you were a monk! I can't believe I didn't figure it out before. Like, /hello/! Am I the last to know, or what?" Rikku continued eagerly. "It's ok by me. Except that I bet you'd like it if you tried me. And uh-- don't the Yevonites have some kinda taboo against it? Something about keeping Spira alive by birthing more babies or something? It's cool with us Al Bhed though--"
"That's not it. Lulu and I---" Auron stopped with a lurch. Oh Yevon.
Rikku's jaw fell open like the hingeless maw of a Bikanel rat-snake. "You're serious?"
Auron was silent.
"Holy crap, that is /too /much." She erupted into sharp, explosive giggles. "Do you guys like sit around and bond over your tragic pasts or what? I bet you're all into hot, mopey sex. That is too cute."
Years of monastic training barely kept the man in check. The muscles in his jaw betrayed him in a quivering spasm.
"Seriously that is beaut-i-ful! You and Lu. Who'da thunk." The yellow-haired girl paused and fixed on his glare mischievously. She continued in a sing-song voice. "Now does Sir Wakka know about you two?"
Taking full advantage of his height, Auron drew himself in and towered over the scrawny teenager. "You." He snarled. He literally snarled! Rikku shrunk back, her boots making hushed crunchy sounds in the snow. "Will take great care that neither Wakka nor anyone else ever hears of this conversation." He stepped around her, continuing in his low, intense tone generally reserved for sacred oaths. "Do otherwise otherwise only with the knowledge that your service to Lady Yuna will no longer be neither required nor welcome immediately thereafter." He returned to the trail and began to walk quickly, leaving the young thief gawking after him.
She let out a long astonished whistle. Yow. Was he serious? Ain't no telling, with Sir Auron. Old man's off his rocker, that's for sure. Auron and Lulu. The Grump and Grumpess. The girl smirked. One day, she just /knew/, he'd piss Lu off and then BAM! Thundaga, right in the kisser! Oh, would Rikku laugh! She couldn't wait.