A sequel of sorts to Bikanel Nights. Rikku and Paine are chosen to be the "guinea pigs" of Cid's new romantic cruise-line business. Thar be Al Bhed in this here fic! Have a translator handy. [Rikku...
I had started noticing different things about her starting the day after. Little things; little itty bitty things that suddenly seemed so big. Like....the way her hair spilled over her shoulders when she leaned down to pick something up, the way that tiny skirt would inch up her thighs when she reached up for something, the way her breasts swayed as she continuously shifted her weight from front to back as she stood on the bridge. Like I said; all little things, but all so....intoxicating at the same time. I guess you could say...
Rikku was driving me crazy. I felt like a chocobo in heat, which was new and unusual for me, since I had never had a real attraction to anyone before that. Every time she passed me in the hall I would have to resist the urge to grab her and pull her against me.
So I knew there was an attraction, but...after a week or so, I was beginning to wonder if it was something else, too. I often found myself watching her when she was just sitting down, looking out the window; no extra body parts displayed, no fabric receding.... And I felt something deeper than lust. I would sit and watch her for who knows how long, just soaking in her beauty, her presence, her existence. I was beginning to wonder if....I was...in...well, you know.
'Me? In love? Yeah right.' I would tell myself over and over again, not wanting to even consider the possibility that I may have been attached to someone. But I couldn't deny it after long. What I felt was definitely stronger than a fling-inducing attraction. It was much, much deeper.
The big bad warrior has a soft spot. And it's name is Rikku.
By the time I had finally squared with that little issue, a few weeks had passed since that fateful night in the Bikanel underground. I had to force myself to conclude that Rikku was, in fact, not going to say anything about it, so I decided that I would. That promised to be difficult. Sure, I was good at stepping up...when it came to fighting fiends. But this was a whole 'nother blitzball game.
I made my way to the bridge, hoping Rikku would be there. 'Listen, Rikku. We need to talk...about that night in Bikanel.' I kept rehearsing in my head. 'I've been thinking about it, and I th-'
"Hey Paine!" My thoughts were interrupted by the voice of the object of my recent thoughts. Rikku came bouncing down the hall towards me, same bright smile as always on her face. "Where ya headed?"
"The bridge. Rikku, listen. We ne-"
"Naleajehk cekhymc vnus vydran. Gullwings, du drac pnetka!" Brother's voice rang over the intercom, cutting me off. That bastard; I was ready to lay down some serious hurt. But all hostile thoughts melted away as Rikku's hand grabbed my own, tugging me toward the lift.
"Tell me later, ok?"
Yeah, sure. Just give me another 4 hours to steep in it.
When we got to the bridge, everyone was crowded around Shinra's desk. They were receiving a commsphere transmission from Macalania, sent by Cid. It didn't look like anything important, so naturally I had my protests. Sadly, though, Brother's word was final, and so Rikku and I were sent to Macalania.
By the time we arrived at the woods, it was late at night. Rikku pleaded with Brother to let us wait until morning, which was probably a bad idea. Sibling rivalry, you know. So two fights and a swift kick in the 'nads later, Rikku and I were dropped off in the dark, damp woods of Macalania with Brother holding an ice pack between his legs and cursing his sister, swearing he wouldn't come back to pick us up. Our greeting committee sucked about the same amount as our farewell one did; Cid.
"Why are you in Macalania?" Was the first thing I asked, making sure to not leave out the aggravated tone in my voice. I didn't really want to know; not after that Zanarkand incident when Yuna was still a part of the Gullwings. Cid just crossed his arms over his chest and scoffed at my attitude. At least, I guess that's what he was scoffing at.
"I started a new business, and I needed some guinea pigs-"
"I KNEW you were gonna say that!" Rikku butted in, placing her hands on her hips in a huff, "Haven't you learned your lesson yet, Pop? This place is sacred too, you know!"
"Well, the derned woods are fading, and the guado ain't usin' them anymore so I don't see what's wrong with it!"
"Oooh," Rikku squealed in anger, " What's next, a tittie bar on Mt. Gagazet?"
I had to stifle a laugh. Cid huffed, the continued on.
"I already asked the Guado! They said it was fine, just as long as I don't trash the place!"
I was taken aback, and I'm pretty sure Rikku was too by the look on her face. Cid had asked for Macalania Woods? Maybe Yuna had more of an effect on her uncle than I thought.
"Well..." Rikku began, defeated, "It's still-...they're still...urgh!" She crossed her arms over her chest and pouted as she ran out of retorts, and I just smirked and turned to Cid.
"So what kind of business is this, anyways?"
"Boats! Cid's Romantic Cruiseline! I hired some hypello to make some rowboats fer me, then I charted out some routes through the waterways to make sure the boats come back to where they start."
"So what do we have to do with this?"
"I need you to take a ride in a boat and make sure they go the right way." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper, then handed it to me. After unfolding it, I discovered that it was a map of the woods; and the routes the boats were supposed to take, and checkmarks next to a list of several landmarks. I didn't see anything wrong with it. I mean...he had asked the guado...
"Alright. I'm in." It'd give me some time to be alone with Rikku. I looked over to said blond, who stopped her fuming momentarily to give a,
Five minutes later, Rikku and I were drifting along the waterways of the floor of Macalania Woods, relatively silent as I checked off the map checklist as we went. I wanted to say something, but the plans I had made in my head earlier had seemingly vanished. I was trying my best to focus my attention on the checklist in front of me, but my attention span was failing me quickly as we progressed deeper and deeper into the thickening forest. Until finally, I came up with an idea to rid myself of the responsibility of checking off the list.
"Well, it's too dark now. I can't read the map."
I crumpled the paper up and tossed it to the floor of the boat, then cracked my knuckles idly and let myself take in the surroundings. It was dark, save for the occasional glimmering of the trees and the shining path twisting about several feet above us. Interrupting my little serene moment, I felt a heavy spray of water come in contact with my face, followed by the sound of a giggle. My eyes fell onto Rikku, who had her hand dipped in the water as she grinned, then splashed me again. With a smirk, I too reached into the water surrounding us and sent a handful at her. She laughed and wiped a few droplets off her face, then sat back in her seat and looked up as if to watch the stars.
Well, Paine, there she is, sitting in front of you, saying nothing, with nothing to do. So why aren't you saying anything?
Why wasn't I saying anything? Mainly because I didn't know what to say anymore. Bringing it up would be awkward, plus the fact that I wasn't quite sure how to bring it up.
Breaking through my train of thought, I felt another splash of water on my face. I looked back to Rikku, who was staring innocently off into the opposite direction. I smirked, though I didn't splash back this time.
I leaned back slightly as I felt a curtain of hanging moss brush across my back as the boat slowly drifted through the dark lagoon. There was no sound anymore, save the distant trickling of water and the gentle nighttime hum of crickets chirping and frogs croaking. Very romantic, you might say, minus the fact that I am not a romantic sort of person. I sat there, watching the trees and small waterfalls as they passed by, before switching my gaze back to Rikku, who responded with a bright smile. Her green eyes glinted in the dim light of the forest, and I smirked.
She giggled, tucking a few strands of her golden hair behind her ear. Uh oh. Hair behind the ear. That meant something was going to happen.
"What?" I repeated, this time a small laugh escaping my lips. She just giggled some more, then reached out as if to stroke my cheek. I think I blushed.
"You're such a bad romantic!" She mused before bringing her other hand to the other side of my face, mooshing my cheeks together in a way that I'm sure made me looks like a fish. She mimicked that face slightly, then spoke again in a joking tone, "Put your lips togedder like dees, and kees de girl..."
She continued to laugh, and I would have...but I couldn't. No, of course not, I had to glare at her for temporarily deforming my face. I'm sure I was blushing that time. Was she serious under all the joking?
Her laughter slowly subsided until she was quietly giggling to herself, staring into my eyes. Her hands on my cheeks loosened before pinching them playfully, and I finally allowed a smirk through. Her hands then slid from my cheeks to around my neck, pulling herself towards me, into my lap so she was straddling my waist. I felt my arms slide around her waist as I looked up at her, her soft, warm lips then pressing against my own. I allowed my mouth to yield to hers, my eyes sliding shut as her fingers gently ran through my hair, fingertips slowly caressing the small of her back.
This was the first kiss we had shared since that night in the Bikanel underground.... and in my opinion, it was ten times better. It may have been the lack of alcohol flooding my system, or the change in atmosphere, or....something. But I felt different things, like little pleasant twangs in my heart.
And then I realized.
Holy shit. I do love Rikku.
She tilted her head to the side in an attempt to deepen the kiss, though it proved rather futile; at this point, the contact couldn't get much deeper. I found myself reaching out for her a few moments later, when our lips parted. She responded by leaning forward, softly brushing her lips against mine before pulling back again, smiling into my eyes as she brushed a few strands of my hair out of my face.
"I love you..." My words echoed in my head before I had a chance to stop myself from saying them. I heard her breath catch in her chest; though I didn't know if I should have been happy or worried. The smile she gave me shortly after, though, convinced me that I should have probably been smiling too.
She reached up to stroke my hair, smile still gracing her lips which soon after pressed against my own again.
She hadn't vocally responded. But she had said more than I ever could...without saying anything at all.