Chapter Twelve: "Strangers in the Night"
Removing Yuna's foot imprint from your face with expensive lotions: 200 gil.
Getting your broken nose fixed: 1,500 gil.
Dinner at the Luca Emporium: 3,000 gil. (What the hell?)
Seeing Mujan's fake eyelashes drop into Yuna's water: Priceless.
Once order had been restored – and Rikku had poured Yuna's contaminated water into Gippal's lap when he wasn't paying attention – we all ordered our meals and began to chat. It wasn't about anything particularly interesting, so I allowed my mind to wander off. Huh, I thought to myself. I didn't really realize it until now, but… I think I'm on a date with Mujan.
It really hadn't hit me that this was, technically speaking, my first date with Mujan. Everything had just flew past my head so quickly, from the moment we met to when she had her… er… accident with Yuna, that I just didn't realize what was going on. I definitely wasn't complaining, because the girl was sexy as hell. But still, if it came down to it, she wasn't the one I wanted to be on a date with. If it came down to it, I would rather be on a date with a certain bubbly blonde…
"Isn't that cute, Paine?"
I snapped back to reality and realized Mujan was tugging on my sleeve, an overly excited expression on her face. Oh Yevon. I had absolutely no idea what everyone was talking about, but I knew everyone was expecting an answer from me. I cleared my throat and grinned at Mujan. "Oh yeah, that's so cute it makes me want to vomit."
Rikku choked on her food. "WHAT?! How can ya think that's CUTE? Anyone who sits outside of my bedroom door for three hours singin' love songs to win me back is a little crazy, if ya ask me!" As Rikku said this, Gippal turned the color of the Gullwings airship.
Mujan nuzzled her face against my arm and giggled. "Well, I wouldn't mind if a guy did that to me. Kuuthacc, you should be flattered. Don't you agree, Yuna?" Mujan leaned in and batted her eyelashes at Yuna (Mental question for myself to answer later: What the hell?) and laughed. I looked around the table and saw several different expressions that were aimed towards myself and Mujan.
Yuna: A polite expression, if not somewhat confused.
Tidus: Interested, with a possible glint of what I was almost 99% sure was his "turned on" face. (Disgusting.)
Gippal: Was the only one not focused on us. Instead, he was busy looking like a Chocobo hit with several blitzballs and then put under a love spell; his eyes were solely on Rikku.
Rikku: …Whoa, I couldn't tell.
It was true. I had no idea what in Yevon's name was going on with Rikku. She was clenching the tablecloth in her right hand, and aimlessly – but violently – jabbing her fork into her food absentmindedly. She was staring with what appeared to be a ferocious fire in her eyes at Mujan; but when she and I made eye contact, her cheeks flushed a bright red and she dropped both the fork and tablecloth. She flashed a grin my way and placed her head in her hands, an interested and slightly malicious look arising on her face. "So," she squeaked out, "How'd ya two meet anyway? I never got ta hear the story, ya know."
…Well this was certainly not a way I would expect to win over Rikku; telling her how I met another girl? An extremely attractive girl? Yevon be damned, I didn't know what to say. But luckily enough for me, Mujan launched into a full frontal explanation of our embarrassing first encounter, right down to the metaphorical erection that she gave me as she was singing on that hill. I tried my best to tune the entire conversation out, as well as avoid eye contact with the rest of the people at the table, particularly Rikku. I could practically feel her resentment seeping through her body and towards where I was sitting. Whether that resentment was aimed towards me or Mujan, I had no idea, but frankly, I did not care.
"…And now, here we are! I'm having such a wonderful time! Aren't you, Painey Wainey?"
I tried my best to muster up a smile as Tidus and Gippal both snorted and started to choke on their food. I shot the two of them a look before turning to face Mujan, saying, "Yes, Mujan, I'm having a good time."
This time it was Rikku who snorted.
After the rather… awkward… moment that ensued as Mujan explained how the two of us met, everything went relatively smoothly. The extravagantly overpriced meal we ate was decent (But certainly not worth the gil), and the discussion became lighthearted as Tidus and Yuna began to talk about their future plans. For most people, this would be a pleasant experience, but for me, it was aggravating, strange, and made me want to vomit for several different reasons. I honestly wanted to just leave to the Thunder Plains, kill several hundred monsters, and then go back to my bed on the ship and sleep.
But I was stuck at that table; my arm was in Mujan's death grip as she listened intently to Yuna shyly tell the story about the first time her and Tidus "had fun" at a Blitzball game (Yevon save me now). I needed an escape, any escape, and fast.
At that moment, a loud orchestrated sound arose from the dance floor. I looked up to see various couples streaming to the floor, their hands falling in just the right places on their partner's bodies as they moved their feet in time to the music. I internally groaned.
Ballroom dancing, an escape?
Well, dammit, I was desperate.
"So… Mujan, would you like to go dance?"
She snapped out of what seemed to be a dreamy daze to look at me. "Oh," she cleared her throat. "It's okay Painey Wainey. I'm just going to sit here for a little while longer and listen to the rest of Yuna and Tidus' story. It's just so funny, and interesting…oh Yuna, you are quite the story teller! Bmayca, luhdehia." Then Mujan released her death grip on my arm and turned her full attention to Yuna, whom it seemed was reaching the climax of the story. (Ha… ha… ha.)
I rose from my seat and cleared my throat. "Well, Rikku, would you like to dance? That is, of course, if Gippal doesn't mind." It was clear that Rikku was in a similarly uncomfortable situation; Gippal was attempting to share some of his salad with her, as she adamantly refused his offer. Rikku's face lit up as she hopped to her feet and wiggled her… behind. "I'll take that as a yes?" I cocked an eyebrow at her.
"It's only a HECK YES! Sorry Gippal, but I'll be back, kay? Don't ya have too much fun without me."
She intertwined her arms with mine as we walked away to the dance floor.
"Ya know Painey, you're a real good dancer."
"Oh, shut up."
Rikku and I had managed to last through three different songs; my irritation with the night was growing in multitudes, but I managed to remain calm because… well, obviously because I was with Rikku, and she was in my arms. It also was a nice boost to my already swollen pride that Rikku was thoroughly impressed with one hidden talent of mine: ballroom dancing. (That's right, bitches. Paine can kick ass on the field and on the dance floor.)
She giggled as I gently dipped her towards the floor. "Ya know ya like ta get compliments. And besides, I'm willin' ta bet it's better than hearin' Miss Lover over there call ya 'Painey Wainey'." My eye twitched as Rikku mentioned this. "Pft, that nickname even hurt me. Besides… I think I'm the only one that gets the right ta call ya names like that, don't ya think?"
That blew me away right there. It was such a simple comment, and yet the backdrop – the possessiveness – of it struck me right in my chest. Rikku, possessive of me? This was more of a boost to my pride than any verbal compliment could give me.
I lifted Rikku slowly towards me and scoffed. "You think so? Don't be so cocky, Rikku."
She laughed as I twirled her in time to the finale of the song. "I don't think so Painey." She twirled back to me and grinned as I dipped her one last time. "I know so."
It was soon after Rikku and I returned to the table that everyone decided it was getting late and that we should all go back home. Goodbyes were said, and awhile later I found myself alone with Mujan. (Gippal had pleadingly asked Rikku if he could take her home, and she was too afraid he would burst into tears for her to say no) We were walking slowly towards her home, which turned out to be a little ways past Besaid Island; for awhile we walked in silence, side-by-side, just enjoying the moonlit scenery. But eventually, Mujan slowed her pace and opened up a conversation.
"So, how long have you and that Rikku girl known each other?"
I was a little surprised she brought that up. I cleared my throat and slowed my pace to match hers. "Well, we've known each for a few years now. We used to go around Spira, along with Yuna, in the Gullwings crew, and help bring justice and peace to everyone."
Mujan laughed. "Much like superheroes, hu?"
I couldn't help but chuckle at this comparison. "Yes, I guess you could say that."
Mujan didn't immediately respond; we walked a little further along until we reached a tiny hut near where she and I had first met. We stopped in front of the hut, and she turned to face me with a smile. Curiosity was bubbling inside of me. "Why did you ask about her anyways, Mujan?"
She scooped up my hands in hers as she smiled delicately at me under the moonlight. I tried my best not to think about how pretty she looked, and how the moon illuminated her golden hair to look ridiculously irresistible. There was no doubt she was attractive to me, especially in that moment, but, strangely enough, it felt… wrong. I shook that thought off to the side, along with the thought that a certain perky blonde could be the cause of that bizarre guilty conscience, and focused on what Mujan said next.
"E tuh'd ghuf, naymmo… it just seems as though there is strong connection between the two of you, is all. Especially when the two of you were out there on the dance floor; I looked up from talking to Yuna, and kuuthacc, the two of you were simply in your own world." She dropped my hands and looked down onto the ground. "You two aren't dating, are you?" Mujan looked up at me, her pitch black eyes awaiting my answer, filled with anticipation – and what seemed to be fear.
I knew what I wanted to say.
I knew that I wanted to say No, but you have no idea how much I feel for her.
I knew that was what I wanted.
I knew that was what was right.
But I didn't say that.
Instead, I chuckled and swatted the air in front of her lightly, as though to dismiss that idea. "No, there is nothing going on between the two of us. There never has been, and there isn't currently. She is just a colleague – a friend of mine – that I am relatively close to."
Why did I say that?
Mujan's face lit up. "Oh," she beamed. "Okay. Well… it's just something that you should consider, hu? I'm definitely not encouraging it – I do like you after all – but it's just something to be careful for."
My eye twitched.
"But there's something else I want you to consider tonight."
She smiled, and leaned forward towards me; towards my face.
I knew what that meant, and if I was smart, I would have brushed it off, gave Mujan a hug, and said goodnight.
But I didn't.
I kissed her instead.
It has been three years. Three long years since I last updated this piece of fiction. I reserve every right to bash my head in, throw books at me, or send ravenous Chihuahuas after me to punish me for making you all wait so long. But it's finally here, the next chapter, and you probably also want to kill me for ending it that way. Forgive me though, it's 4 in the morning, and I just had to write this next chapter before it slipped from my mind. Thank you for reading this, for waiting… and now all that I ask of you is this: REVIEW! (Please.)
Also, this chapter is loosely based off the Frank Sinatra song, "Strangers in the Night".