Author's Note: I told you my muse was back. :3 So, this was hard to write. I would appreciate some criticism or something. Hopefully I can get the next part out soon. :3 Enjoy.


"Cause a thousand words…" Rikku ran forward, slicing through the makeshift punching bag that Shinra helped create for the little thief. The only thing was, it repaired itself. Almost like a living organism. Rikku wished that it really was a living organism as she panted, sweated and hummed to herself.

In the engine room, Rikku was in her own element, drowning out reality as she continued to take out her mixed emotions on the poor punching bag. "Ha! …Hya!...Suspended…On….Huff, silver wings!" With about three kicks into the side of it, she twirled into the air and came down hard, ripping through the bag and slamming her daggers into the metal floor. Brother isn't going to like hearing about this one!

About a month ago, Yuna had broken the news about her pregnancy. Her worries. Her fears of being so young. After all, women in Spira, especially women who were young in Besaid, never had the best of luck with pregnancies. Lack of phenomenal knowledge and technology in health prevent healthy pregnancies after all. Spira was amazing with machina, but the human body was different in itself, and most did not educate themselves in health anyways. Because of Sin, the focus was on the trade of a family and survival. During the Eternal Calm, before the eruption of peace by Vegnagun and Shuyin, Spira dueled between the leagues, focusing on weapons.

Education caught no one's attention if it didn't focus on some war of a sort.

Yuna was sobbing as she explained, but all Rikku could hear was "I'm pregnant." Paine was caught off guard, entirely dumbfounded. A part of her still maintained her instinct to protect however, and that's when she saw the tears in Rikku's eyes.

There was no future for them after this.

Now Rikku was distancing herself from not only Yuna, but from Paine as well, spending her days in the engine room, or in Luca, shopping and training nonstop. Occasionally bringing Buddy along, only because he never overstepped the fine boundary that Rikku seemed to set up around herself.

She started to sleep long after Paine retired to her bed, if only to avoid her. Sometimes it worked, other times Paine seemed to eyeball her, with a look of… what? Rikku couldn't place it, and she knew that she had hurt Paine, though the warrior would never admit it. Would never admit to being so vulnerable if for only a second to allow Rikku to wriggle her way into her heart.

However, Rikku found herself in a place where she was forced to permanently detach her feelings for Yuna, still so crushed by the news and angry at Tidus for numerous reasons. For taking her away, for being the object of her love, for causing this fear. For being a man. She felt so childish and selfish, but what else was Rikku supposed to do? Smile and continue being insincere? The Al Bhed had been growing, despite her child-like demeanor. She knew it was best to isolate herself instead of trying to hide feelings she knew would never have the time to heal.

She loved Yuna dearly, which was another reason she was doing this to herself and to Paine. She needed to be strong for Yuna. The second reason was so that she could find stability, enough to make it worthwhile for Paine.

Rikku was going to be an auntie soon, because that's how everyone would expect it to be. The usually bouncy blonde was beyond scared and angry and just…in a mess.

Slowly, Rikku see-sawed the dagger out of its lodge until she heard soft breathing behind her.

Damn.

Before her was a gorgeous woman, who made her stomach flip-flop in both anxiety and happiness. Paine never expressed it in words, or in her actions, but everything she felt was in her eyes. Since Rikku fled from the hut, Paine decided to take on the role of a caring friend, when Rikku was too weak to be just that. A friend, despite her blood ties and adventures with Yuna.

For the duration of the month, she had become friendly with Lulu in caring for Yuna, even though Paine had no knowledge of being pregnant. Lulu was filled with knowledge, but she was also older than Yuna and had been with Wakka longer than Yuna had been with Tidus.

Wakka was also wiser than the blonde blitzer, who, as Paine found out, had been staying away from home to blitz more often than normal. He was training. His life was aimed for stardom, where Yuna already walked down that path of being a celebrity of sorts.

They seemed too young, and Yuna was already packing too much baggage to be bearing a child. The adventures made her mind age, but definitely not her body. It was still prone to mishaps, and nothing guaranteed a healthy baby. Nothing guaranteed a peaceful era; Vegnagun proved that.

Paine merely stared at Rikku, who still managed to take her breath away. Sweat dripped from her braids, due to the humidity of the engine room and the workout. She'd witnessed the intensity of her movements, how she fluidly attacked the bag. It caused a strong pang to ache within Paine, a sense of longing for a woman who still had her own emotions to sort through.

How fun was that?

Paine stayed when Yuna began to cry harder at Rikku fleeing. The silverette dismissed it as fear, the same reason that Yuna was crying. "Rikku loves you, Yuna," she had explained, knowing the brunette would never know the true meaning. "She worries for you just like the rest of us. She looks up to you, always has. If you're not strong, she can't be strong. She needs us, too. When she sees a glimmer of hope, she'll outshine our strength. That's always been our Rikku."

It was true. Rikku wasn't weak by any means; she had deep insight into things. But that blurred the second romance made an entrance. Paine knew the feeling. Every day, she would visit Yuna, who felt hollow by Rikku's absence. Countless times, she had asked for her. Every time, Paine said that she didn't want to return until she was of some help.

Paine didn't really know if that was true, because the day of the announcement, Rikku stopped talking to her. No more early breakfasts, trainings, or even a small conversation right before sleep. Now she tinkered with machina, trained by herself, or went shopping with Buddy. She scowled at the sense of jealousy she continued to feel time and time again. At the overwhelming sense of disappointment she felt when she knew that Rikku never really let go of Yuna.

However, despite it all, Paine was loyal, it was her nature as a warrior. She said that she would be there, and she was. Even if Rikku didn't want that devotion, Paine had already given it.

Emerald eyes stayed locked on crimson for a long time before she whispered, "How long have you been there?"

Paine glanced away, almost in shame for raking her gaze across Rikku. Even now she couldn't control the emotions she needed to keep in check. When Yuna needed her, she tended to her needs. When Rikku struggled with her own emotions, Paine ignored everything she felt within. But it grew and grew, and now it felt like it was going to burst and bubble over in anger and hurt and longing. She finally decided to give into it. Who was she kidding anyways? The walls weren't up all the way from the beginning, and, because of that, she allowed the emotions for Rikku to fester into a horrible infection.

Except, Rikku was the only remedy.

"About ten minutes or so."

Rikku stared at the punching bag, noticing how still it had become once her aggression had eased. It was as if it knew there would be no more afflictions by Rikku, so it died. Interesting. Shinra really was a genius, despite being a kid. The Al Bhed took a step forward, releasing her daggers from her hands and placing them beside the bag, against the wall. Suddenly she couldn't breathe as she felt hungry eyes on her.

"Yes?"

"Why are you staying away from me?" Rikku knew that this was going to happen sometime soon. Why? She was close. Close to accepting everything for what it was. What did Paine want her to do? Wholeheartedly embrace her? Quickly, she shrugged away those accusing thoughts; Paine would never want Rikku to force herself into any situation. Paine wasn't greedy like that. She was. Rikku had only just started seeing Yuna as a friend, someone she had a passing affection for.

That was normal right?

She related it to when she was with Gippal. That passed after a while, and they still remained as friends. Despite the most recent hiccup with him, but she doubted they remembered much of that night anyways. She could be like that with Yuna, and it was possible.

Paine made it seem impossible though. Because Paine suddenly became the rebound. She felt it. She felt it in those eyes. Rikku couldn't live with that, could not live with having Paine feel as though she was just settling for her.

Rikku wanted to be strong enough so Paine knew that she was choosing her when she was stable.

Which is why she continued to avoid her. To clear her thoughts and mind.

"I need time, Paine."

"You're never going to let her go, are you?" Did Rikku hear that right? That hint of hurt? Of anger? Well it was fair if that's how Paine felt, wasn't it? After all, Rikku was the cause of it. She wasn't strong enough because she was wounded by something she felt was surreal herself. The blonde stared at the ground, not wanting to face Paine. She suddenly felt ashamed at not being stronger, at having become so vulnerable.

She wished to be like Paine.

"Are you?" The silverette raised her voice, feeling herself tremble. Why didn't she apply some sort of balm to the situation a while back? Why did she allow the kisses and the hunger to grow? Now look where that got her. The warrior was losing a very fine grip that continued to vanish as the month bore on. She lost one of her best friends after already losing Yuna. Solitude suddenly became unappealing once she lost two important people she'd grown attached to.

Damned attachments did this to a person. Hurt.

"I'm doing this for you!" Rikku quickly became defensive. Paine only raised her voice in battle, when ordering, when taking the lead. Hardly ever in anger unless it was severe. She glanced at the daggers for a moment, judging the situation. She'd never seen Paine look so hurt before, and rarely did she ever expose her emotions, so how did she act when something became overwhelming?

"Don't give me that crap, Rikku." Paine felt herself slipping.

"You act like I don't care about you, Paine."

"You don't show it." Ouch. That one got her. Rikku glared something fierce at the warrior, who never wavered. She was angry, and armed with words. Rikku wasn't going to take that after she had considered Paine's involvement. After all, wasn't she forcing herself to become a better friend only to allow the time and room in her heart to give to Paine? For Paine to make a home for herself within her. Without inhibitions. Without doubts whether or not Rikku was thinking of Yuna instead of Paine.

"If I have time—"A growl seemed to rip through Paine as she stomped forward, halting Rikky's lousy defense.

"Time?"

Rikku took a step back, bringing her arms up in order to push back Paine if she needed. Yet, when she felt the hands grip her face, all resolve seemed to melt away. She choked up, unable to answer. She couldn't answer. Not when Paine slammed her against the engine room wall and pressed her lips roughly against hers. It felt hungry, angry, and a sense of finality came along with it.

Is that what Paine was trying to tell her? Say goodbye to my feelings, Rikku, you blew it. Rikku's words were muffled as she tried to speak, only to feel Paine's tongue slip in to meet her own. Instead of a simple and stern "Paine," her words were warped into a moaning of the name. A new wave of heat washed over Rikku. Paine could be greedy, if she wanted. Rikku would indulge in her needs.

She was selfish after all. She had hurt the woman pressing tightly against her. She caused her a new feel of loneliness she hadn't anticipated.

Paine was making her realize how much she wanted this. But she needed to purge away the emotions she felt for Yuna.

Rikku finally pushed away Paine, who stared at her with more than all of Spira's agony combined. Rikku felt warmth at the corners of her eyes. Her expression was soft, as she reached for Paine's face, cupping her cheeks roughly and bringing her into another kiss, more gently, softly leaning into her body, reveling in the feel of contact. Emotions were blooming; a newfound strength was struggling to hatch within the Al Bhed.

But these feelings were so damned hard to get rid of and sort out.

"I need time. To stop thinking about Yuna. To think about you. Only you. I'm a person realizing that I love two of my best friends the way that I shouldn't. I'm working through this, and the fact that Yunie could be facing a possible danger. The fact that they aren't ready. I love her. I love you because you've always had my back. You've been my best friend, Paine, and I'm so afraid of losing everything at once." None of the tears spilled. Perhaps Rikku was just too tired.

Paine's eyes began to soften. The warrior began to grasp at her strength again, the wall that was holding her up. She could understand that. The crazy swirl of emotions began to shrink back to their individual departments. Calm wafted over her. Rikku was trying; Paine needed to continue being patient.

It was so hard.

Being lonely for too long, she realized, began to have its repercussions when company was so close. "Just talk to me again."

Rikku began to realize how badly her strategy had begun to affect Paine. She could only imagine the effect on Yuna, and instantly she wanted to kick herself. She had to be strong, stop being selfish, and learn to help others in need. Being the youngest didn't always mean being the weakest. Her feelings for Yuna remained, but after time, they would die and make room for something else to blossom.

Paine leaned her forehead against Rikku's when the Al Bhed wrapped her arms around the warrior's waist. Did it really take her so long to see the damage she was causing? She was supposed to be crafty and cunning and smart. All she was really showing was that she was a coward and ran with her tail between her legs. Her eyes closed as she embellished in the warmth of Paine, in her contact and closeness. She needed this. She wanted this so badly. But if anyone had learned self-restraint it was Rikku.

Paine deserved better.

"I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry, too."

"But I've been selfish."

"I think we all have." Paine smiled down at Rikku, reaching for her hands and squeezing them. Rikku offered a small smile, feeling a sense of confidence sprouting within her. She could do this. For Paine, she could.

"I'll talk to you again."

"Good, I was getting really lonely." This caused the thief to giggle and glance back at her daggers. "Do you need to eat?"

Rikku blinked and returned her gaze back to Paine, whose eyes seemed unreadable now. That was more like Paine, and it comforted her, seeing that her eyes were no longer windows to her emotions.

"Do you think Yunie is making food?" Paine stared hard at Rikku, at emerald eyes that swirled forever into an abyss of strength that Rikku had no idea she held.

It just took the right situation for the airhead to realize that.

"We should check."

Rikku hesitated. She still had time to back out. It had been a month, what would another do? She was leading Paine into another mess, seeing those walls coming back down to keep her vulnerable all over again.

"Rikku?"

"Let's go check." Rikku was a Gullwing, and needed to start owning that title. It would start with Yuna first.


I wanted Paine to seem a little crazed, a little out of character. She's so lonely. Rikku was difficult as well, because she's not stupid or weak, but love affects us all differently. Any comments are more than welcomed.