Chapter Forty One

"Can you hold my pants Paine?"

Paine nodded quickly to take the folded blue slacks out of her wife's hands. She never knew what her role was when they left them alone so Rikku could change into a patient's gown. Today they blonde had woken up not feeling too well so her wife was trying to be as helpful as she could. "You want me to hold your shirt too?"


Paine nodded and folded the shirt before sitting back down on the little stool beside Rikku's head. Their standard room had been upgraded since their first ultrasound. This one was tiny, with room only for three people and all the equipment needed to detect life internally. She watched with an odd feeling of sadness as Rikku moved carefully to lay on her back in the paper like dress. "You comfortable?"

Rikku turned and locked eye with her wife before sighing. "I don't like these exams, I never have."

Paine rested her clothes on her lap before leaning her elbows onto the bed and taking Rikku's hand in her own. She smiled softly. "S'okay."

"I've been eating a lot more, shouldn't I be bigger?" All the colorful charts of the womb and the happy pictions of full figured women with baby bumps were intimidating when she was stripped down like this. Paine's voice pulled her attention away from a chart on nausea.

"By the time you are you'll be wishing you weren't."

"You won't be able to hug me."

Paine smiled a little more. "I can try."

Rikku smiled back. "Okay." She whispered. Just then a soft knock at the door and a half beat later and Irene Raymond was present greeting them in her usually cheerful yet calm manner.

"How have you both been feeling?"

"Crumby." The blonde admitted with a tired smile.

Paine nodded. "Glad Rikku's eating more.'

Irene smiled. " Believe it or not both are very good signs. Can you tell me about you diet Rikku?" Rikku told her. "And have you been getting rest?" She had. "What about the morning sickness?" In full force. "And the spotting?" Not anymore. "Well all of that sounds good to me." She flipped open the chart a nurse had given her. "Your vitals seem to be where they ought to be. Eight weeks and counting." She nodded as she closed the clip board and put thick blue gloves on her hands. "Let's just take a look at everything down there; it will only be a moment." Rikku nodded and watched as her doctor looked to Paine who nodded as well. "Now our concern with the Braxton Hicks was as that it was possible the bleeding may have caused it…" Rikku shifted as the cold blue gloves touched her. "Everything seems to look well though." After a small checkup of the physical nature Dr. Raymond sat back and asked Rikku to sit up.

She took off her gloves and discarded them into a waste bin nearby. "Eight weeks is a huge benchmark for any growing fetus. Hopefully we'll see some webbed fingers and toes, eyelids even. Before we start the ultrasound though I wanted to really give you the time to answer any questions you might have."

Paine and Rikku glanced at one another before Rikku decided to speak first. "Well I haven't really seen any physical change yet, I mean some different pants are tighter, but online I read that my breasts should be getting bigger ad all kinds of stuff, I just feel a little behind."

Irene nodded. "I'm going to ask you to only use online material as a very broad timeline, every pregnancy is different, especially yours. One thing that I am concerned about is he or she's size, depending upon today and a few weeks into the second trimester we will get a good understanding on average weight. Right now I don't want you to be concerned about that, your little one is just smaller, so growing into its new home is taking some time. That's why you're eating habits have increased, it's completely natural."

"So he or she might be underweight is what you're saying?' Paine asked.

Irene nodded. "Developed enough for birth but possibly the size of an eight month old, it's nothing we haven't seen before. Rikku do you remember how much you weighted at birth?"

Rikku shook her head no. "My father always says I was tiny, I always thought he was just trying to guilt trip me."

Irene chuckled. "It could be simply a matter of heredity then."

"But it's too soon to tell right?"

"Precisely, now there are other exams we can take starting at eleven weeks but I want to give you the research on those."

"Tests for disabilities?" Paine asked. She had read about this in the surrogate chapter of the Adoption book.

"Yes, however it is all voluntary."

Rikku nodded. "Another thing, um, I haven't been able to sleep really for more than a few hours. That's normal right?"

Irene nodded. "Perfectly normal. I usually tell my patients to try and take walks throughout the day. It will help you stay awake long enough to actually get a full nights rest. Naps are good, but too many can really mess with your schedule." They asked a few more questions before it was finally time for Rikku to lay back again. She automatically searched for Paine's hand as Dr. Raymond dimmed the room lights and prepared the ultrasound machine. A few bated breaths and some adjusting later and the grainy image appeared. "Here this one is." Irene said affectionately. She glanced back at Paine and Rikku who were glued to the screen. "Let's see if we can get some proper readings on you today." The doctor said as she continued to move the wand about.

"It grew." Paine commented without realizing.

Irene nodded. "About the size of a kidney bean right now."

Rikku's eye brimmed with tears again. She quickly wiped them away as she kept her eyes locked to the screen not wanting to miss a thing. It was so out of this world insane that this little thing was inside her, trying to make a home for itself. All the drama of the past weekend not even important to it as it tried to grow. "Can she hear us?"

Paine looked down at her wife. "There you go with the she again."

Irene smiled. "Some say it's possible. Rikku I have no doubt he or she can hear you, or at least feel when you speak. Think of the body as a great music hall, it's built to carry vibrations."

"Oh." The blonde said simply still looking at the screen before them.

"If you look here." Irene pointed with her index finger. "these breathing tubes are new, They extend from the throat all the way to the little lungs, and these are little hands over the heart, and a knee joint here…"

"Pypo look at its little knees! drao'na cu lida."

"I see 'em." Paine nodded. They were painfully adorable.

"Now let's take a listen to the heartbeat." Irene moved the wand and adjusted a setting before a quick rhythmic pitter patter could be heard.

"Is it supposed to be that fast?" Paine asked when she heard how jumpy it sounded.

Their doctor nodded. "Yes, at this point Rikku you are carrying ten percent more blood than you did before you were pregnant, that means that this little one is growing at an alarming rate, also in my personal opinion I think they tend to be rather shy, so a little nerves are okay."

"All it has is little nerves." Paine said more to herself as she watched but got a chuckle from both women in the room.

"Let's get some photos for you two to add to your collection."

They got into Rikku's car half an hour later and buckled their seatbelts. Rikku immediately pulled out the new photos of their little jellybean and just stared at them. Paine bit her lip a moment before nudging Rikku's arm softly. "You make 'em cute y'know."

Rikku looked up with a little smile, the same dopey one Paine knew meant she was too excited for her own good and was trying to contain herself. "Babies?"

Paine nodded. "Yeah."

"You wanna have another?"

Paine raised an eyebrow sharply. "Woman—"

Rikku giggled. "We don't even have one full one yet." She looked back down at the picture and sighed. "Oh Paine."

The other woman smiled too. "You're doin' great baby."

"You really think so?" She asked seriously. She needed someone to just tell her she was.

Paine nodded. "Honest." They looked at the picture together. "You didn't tell me your pants were getting tighter."

"I feel subconscious about it, and it wasn't like they were that much more tight."

"You know you don't have to feel that way with me…" Paine tried. "If we gotta go shopping we'll make it work and go shopping. I want you to feel comfortable."

"You'll go shopping with me?"

Paine nodded. "Especially when you need to get new bras. I mean I really think I should be there for that."

Rikku laughed. "No I wanted that to be a surprise."

Paine nodded. "I can wait for now."

Rikku leaned forward and kissed her. "Good." She sat back against her seat and looked down at the images as Paine turned the car on. "Do you think—" She was stopped by her phone going off in the cup holder. She knew by the ringtone alone that it was her father. Rikku calmly put the ringer on silent and continued to organize the images in her lap.

. "He's been calling you all weekend."

"I know."

"You're not going to answer?"

"I don't know what we could say y'know?" Rikku shrugged. "I don't know what there is to say, he's not the bad guy, not really, but I'm still disappointed, I'm still upset about things."

She was pulling out of the parking lot. "Yeah…"

"I still want to tell him and Dragon Lady…" She clutched the envelop in her hands. "But I don't think now is the right time."

"I get it."

"Anyway enough of this. What are you going to do today?"

Paine focused on the road. "Judo and then work."

"You never did schedule your exam over did you?"

"We have a baby on the way." Paine reasoned. "I can't really focus right now."

Rikku frowned. She couldn't argue with Paine on that one. She knew Judo was important to her wife and if it weren't for a lot of things having to do with her she would already reach whatever highest steve there was. "I don't want you to continue to put things you want to do on hold but I understand. Work right now is crazy, I haven't sketched anything that wasn't a floorplan in months and I miss painting."

"Maybe when you go on leave you can paint all day." Paine offered.

"Leave?" She chuckled. "Paine it's not like I'm on my feet all day I probably won't want to go on leave."

Paine glanced at her. "What are you sayin? Eventually you'll have to."

Sensing a heated discussion Rikku tried to wave it off. "I'll see how I feel."

"No we'll see what Dr. Raymond says."

"No we'll see what I want."

Paine sighed as she drove. "I'm just sayin' that I don't want to get a call sayin' you're giving birth in the middle of a construction site."

"I won't go on site visits after a little while Paine that's dangerous."

"It's dangerous now."

"Would like me to quit?"

Paine groaned. "No,"

"So then stop it. I can take care of Jelly while you're away, it'll be alright."

Paine drove in silence for a moment. "…It's not that I don't think you can take care of him or her."

"Then what is it, Pypo?"

"I'm just nervous as all hell that something will happen and we would have gotten excited for nothing…" She looked over at her. "You didn't get an abortion y'know, but things can still end up shitty."

"Paine Dr. Raymond says everything looked fine for now. We're fine."

"I know I know."

"I'm worried too."

"I know you are."

"I'd have to live with…killing our baby—"

"Rikks stop."

"Well you want to talk about it right?" Her cellphone went off again, she silenced it, it hadn't been her father, but this topic was important.

"No, not anymore." It was too depressing. She looked over at her as she drove. "Just watch out for counter tops and shit, you're always walking into those…"

Rikku smiled lovingly at the woman. "Oui'na lnywo."

"I'm not."

"You are."

"Well fine, I am." Paine stopped at a red light, adjusted her shoe and then looked over at Rikku. "You gonna send me those pictures? So I have 'em?"

"Gimmie your wallet. I'll put the little one in there."

"No babe I don't want to bend the original." Rikku had already taken Paine's wallet from the cup holder between them.

"We're getting more next week Paine." She was already taking out the small zoomed in ultrasound photo and finding a place among the cards and cash. "I want you to have this one now."

Paine took her wallet from Rikku and looked inside. "It's not gonna get messed up?" Just then the traffic light changed so she dropped the wallet in her lap and took control of the wheel again.

"No it's okay."

"Thanks, Ri."

"I think it's so cute you have my picture in your wallet by the way."

Paine blushed a little as she drove. "It was in my gym locker…I had nowhere else to put it."

"You're really old fashion for a lesbian."

Paine chuckled. "Well now I have you and Cletus in there."

"Which is even funnier no? I like it."

"So am I dropping you off at work?"

"No you're taking the train. I have to get home, you'll already be working."

"Ah that's right… maybe I don't have time for Judo today…"

"When will you come home?"

"Probably around 12:30."

"Wake me up so I know you're home safe and you aren't arrested or something." She teased.

Paine shook her head. "Too soon."


"Mhm." Paine tossed her a little smile though. She was glad the doctor's visit put Rikku in a better mood. They drove in silence before Rikku sighed almost contently. "Hm?"

"This is crazy…" She looked down at her abdomen and then over at Paine. "Paine!"

Paine chuckled and let one of her hands run through her hair while she drove. "I fucking know….fuck."

"A pypo?"

"Please don't freak out on me, we'll be done for."

Rikku chuckled and then looked at her abdomen again. She was about to make a joke about the whole thing when she was suddenly caught with an apple sixed piece of raw emotion that took it's time sliding down her throat and settling in her stomach. For all their joking and fighting and just general themness Rikku knew she relied on Paine for a certain support, when she was down, her wife had always been there in whatever way that she could and vice versa. This was a real thing and she knew she couldn't do it alone, better yet; she didn't want to do it with anyone but Paine. "Y'know Paine…" She began; the seriousness of her tone caught the other woman's attention. "No matter what happens, there is no one in Spira I rather be riding down this road with."

Paine smiled softly not really knowing what to say. "It's been a ride huh?"

Rikku nodded, a slow grin making its way back to her features. "Mhm."

Paine drove for a block or two before glancing over at the blonde again. "Me too, Ri." Rikku would never ever allow her to say it but in a lot of ways their love saved her life, and though there were moments, especially as of late that really rocked the boat Paine never for once regretting getting in and pushing off the docks all those years back, their love was a perpetual feeling. "Me too."

After dropping Rikku and Jelly off at work Paine took the subway home and got ready for work. She despised her job a little more and more each day she put on the stupid uniform polo she wore in college. Simone and Delio had really come through for her, but Paine felt like there was always going to be something holding her back now. She was a good senior trainer and manager. She knew she was. She got results and she was fair. Here…here she was just another body, another class trainer to a bunch of ten dollar a month members who were doing it all wrong anyway. They came here to say they came here, and then they went home and ate an entire bag of potato chips in front of the tv. She'd never say any of this to Rikku; though she had a feeling the blonde could sense it. The time to make moves was right now in her opinion. Once Jelly was born there was no time to catch up. On her drive to work she decided to give in and call Lulu.

"How are you and Rikku?" The woman asked after a brief trade of not so pleasant sibling pleasantries.

"Went to the doctor today, everything is still holding so I'd say we're good."

"When do we get to see pictures? You know Wakka emails me asking."

"Wakka emails?"

"During the first few days of the season, all players aren't allowed cell phones."

"Ah so what's up with Tidus and Yuna then?"

"I haven't an idea. Did you call simply to avoid my questions?"

"…and here I am trying to make conversation."

"It's a poor attempt."

"Thanks…no ask Rikku to send them to you, I'm on my way into work right now." She paused. "So when is the welcome home dinner?" She asked sarcastically.

"Keira told you then?"


"I was going to tell you the other night but I learned I going to be an aunt so excuse me for forgetting."

"Whatever it's not important."

"You brought it up."

"Forget I did."

"It will be challenging."

"You guys still need help with Alex Shaw?"

Lulu stopped what she was doing and glanced across the fabric filled room at Yuna. "Possibly."


Rikku stretched out her arms and yawned into her work. "Cu syho mehac.." She mumbled to herself. It was eight at night, after six the building apparently turned off the heat and air-condition so not only did the small conference room for ten that she and Lucil take over start to smell like pencil shavings, oriental take out, and a mixture of their perfumes, but her body didn't know if it was hot or cold, so every twenty minutes or so she would pull her shawl on or off. In the business of drawing straight lines by measurements this didn't help ones focus.

Lucil sat across the large table from the blonde clad in high heels, jeans, and a tank top. Her auburn hair was wrapped up in her discarded work blouse like she were a factory worker, and she was on her third 12 ounce soda pop for the evening.

It was like they were back in grad school all over again.

"Huh? What are you saying about me now?" Lucil asked without looking up from her work.

"I said there are too many lines!"

"Stop looking at them."

Rikku's chuckle turned into a groan of frustration. "I could except I'm almost done with this part here and this is kinda what we get paid to do…make lines… I mean I just realized that all it is lines! Can you believe how many seven year olds can do this job?"

Lucil finally looked up at her friend and chuckled at her hair. It had gone from being up and professional to down, and then to messy as she put her hand in it every two seconds. "You're losing your mind Junior."

"I'm pregnant, and hot, and cold, and my toes hurt, and I'm stuck here until we finish for a meeting tomorrow that I'm a hundred and seven percent sure I'll be sleeping through."

"You have me beat there…" She thought. "I am on my period?"

Rikku chuckled. "Ooh."

"So all I can think about is sex and peanut butter cups." She took a sip of her soda. "It's very distracting."

"The other morning Paine threw the cutest fit over milk when she was on her period."

"Spilled milk?"

"No just milk in general. I keep buying almond milk instead of cows milk and she hates it."

"Yevon bless two women when they are together. I mean forget sinking up right? Now she's probably pissed at you for not getting it at all. When I'm on mine I hate every man I see."

Rikku laughed. "Is this before or after the sex and peanut butter cups?"

"After, if I don't see any men…well then yeah. I want it, but then I do, and they're out having fun, not having to arrange their schedules, not spending a fortune on tampons. It really grinds my gears.'

They laughed.

"Maybe you should marry a woman."

Lucil shrugged. "All the good ones are taken."


She colored. "I have to say I'd let her leave crumbs on the bed."

Rikku laughed. "Ugh I'm so mad I was so into being married that I didn't notice all this drama go down at the wedding! Paine and I are thinking of having another one."


"Well yeah, is it too soon to renew your vows?"

"I think so Junior."

"Well we'll just have a party then."

The two chatted idly for a few minutes more before getting back into their comfortable silence. An hour later Rikku's phone pinged signaling she had a text message. She looked down at her phone and smiled at the image of a bunch of puppies with floppy ears looking out a window. She loved floppy eared puppies. The text was from Tidus.

Are you getting a new pet?

The blitzer was a huge animal lover. Mostly exotic fish though.

One of these little guys is going to protect me from Kimahri with the power of cuteness

Rikku smiled.

Aren't you not allowed to have your phone? Plus KimKim eats puppies for dinner.

We just got them back and this was in my inbox from a friend. Thought I'd send it to you.

I'm going to send it to Paine to see if she gets the hint

Paine was in the process of closing down the courts volleyball nets when her phone went off. She looked at the picture of the puppies and responded.

The little blonde one looks like you

Rikku burst out laughing and quickly quieted her laughs when she realized Lucil was back in work mode now on her fifth soda.

I want oneeeee


Why? I get you things all the time!

Jelly can be a puppy for Halloween.

Oh gosh that sounds adorable

No puppies

That's what you said to babies…


Oh don't get like that.

I'm at work babe.

So am I!


Mhm, big plans going on here, big plans.

Will I beat you home?



Just think about the puppy thing, then we'll go look at some tomorrow, then we'll get one, and then you'll think it's a good idea.

Lol Bye

Ttyl Muja :)

After debating on whether or not she should text her brother that she was pregnant Rikku decided against it and spent the next hour and a half focused on work. By the end of the work day she pulled herself into her car and played loud pop music to stay awake on the drive home. Once she was inside and the doors were locked Rikku slumped down onto the couch and groaned softly.

She would need to shower, set aside her clothes for tomorrow, blah blah blah… Plus not to mention wonder when Paine was coming home, she'd need to do that too. It was only the beginning of the week and she was hoping Friday would hurry up and skip the crowd.


Paine leaned against the door frame and yawned. "What'd they say?" The detectives had called Rikku yesterday evening.

It was Thursday morning and the fighter had worked the graveyard shift for three days straight picking up a few extra hours here and there. Today was her day off and she was ready to pass out the absolute second Rikku left for work.

Rikku herself was dressed nicely in a pencil cut high waist black skirt and a deep blue silk top, her hair was down and in the present moment cascading over her face like a vail as she bent to slip her heels on. "Only that they appreciated me talking to them and would let me know when the date was set… sometime in May." She stood upright and smiled at her sleepy faced wife who had only dragged herself into bed three hours ago. Her hair was a mess, one strap of her tank top was askew, and her cheeks were slightly flushed. "Go back to sleep."

"I will." She reached onto the ground and picked up Rikku's blueprint tube. "That's not too far off... May."

"You're birthday is in May." Rikku reminded.

"Twenty six."

"You don't look a year over twenty two."

Paine chuckled at the weird compliment. "Thanks babe."

"I was thinking, maybe we can have a party for you. I know how surprises make you anxious."

"No party, I just want to relax."

"Maybe a dinner? Just me and you?"

"Not gonna be a lot of that for a while soon."

Rikku nodded; not sure how the comment was meant to be perceived. She picked up her purse. "Hopefully the trial is before that anyway. I think it would be nice to be done with everything in time to celebrate another year, no?" She kissed Paine twice quickly. "I love you. I have to go."

"You sure you don't want me to drive you in?"

"No you're all sleepy."

"I could drive you in." Rikku shook her head no.

"You do too much for me." She chided softly as she located her keys. "You're a good little wife, now go back to bed…." A thought crossed her mind. "If I find out you stayed awake and did a bunch of things that can wait I'll be mad."

"Alright alright, fuck you even nag me about sleeping?"

She smiled. "Yes." Rikku turned to the front door.

"Did you take your vitamins?"

"No I flushed them all in a hormonal rage." Rikku deadpanned as she stepped out of the door into the dark morning and pressed a hand to Paine's abdomen to halt her. "Close the door."

Paine grabbed her hand quickly and kissed it. "Hey, don't fuck with me."

Rikku grinned. "Owie"

"That doesn't hurt." She let her wife's hand go. "You took 'em right?"

"I did."

Once the door was closed and Rikku gone Paine turned off all the lights and went upstairs to enter a deep, dreamless sleep for nine hours straight. When she finally did wake up Paine stretched and then relaxed. Their room smelt like Rikku's perfume mixed with linen. She sighed at her new consciousness and glanced at the time. Her mother whom she had grown closer to over the years yet still maintained her newness in Paine's life was coming over for dinner tonight. They were going to tell her about Cletus and no doubt she would have a ton of adult, rationally conclusive questions Paine wasn't ready to handle. She wondered if she were a man if there would be so many questions. She doubted it, She wasn't though, and she wasn't sorry for it either, she was just anxious about the whole deal. Rikku would go to bed early, Keira would ask if she truly wanted kids now, Paine would answer she didn't know, and that wasn't really good enough of an answer for anyone. The truth being that Paine didn't know anything at all right now. Not a damn thing, so this question wasn't special; it was just another thing she didn't know about. How does one know exactly what they want? The situation required firm answers. Paine knew she didn't want Rikku to have an abortion, she knew that Rikku didn't want one either. She knew that they would only have a solid shot, and though fucked up at times she believed that things just fell into place the way the universe wanted them to be. She knew that she loved her wife, wanted her to be happy, and she also knew that she wanted a family with the blonde. She wasn't sure that would include a baby, maybe a few birds and a puppy, but now here they were. Rikku was eight weeks pregnant with this little person… At the thought Paine leaned across to her nightstand and pulled out her wallet. She singled out the ultrasound image and sighed again, it had knees for fucks sake. You had to be one cold hearted bitch to not find it completely adorable. She wanted this baby, this one with the knees. She wanted it to live a life full of learning and trying new things. Rikku would be good at teaching him or her how to be a good person; he or she would inherit her wife's grace. It was just that her role in all of this wasn't so bold, she just didn't know if she could be a good parent and it scared her. Keira would pick up on that immediately. If she had a choice maybe she'd wait a few more years, until maybe she was in her thirties, but they couldn't wait, it was too late to wait.

Tucking the photo back in her wallet Paine sat up in bed and ran a hand through her hair. She'd told Lulu she'd do the modeling thing. The paycheck she got last week had essentially made her decision for her.


William smiled as he pointed at his two employees. They were all smiles, grace, beauty and brain for today's meeting with the Bluth Foundation and he couldn't be more pleased. He failed to realize Lucil closing her eyes for longer than necessary blinks and Rikku excusing herself only to splash water on her face and reapply a touch of her make up several times.

"They were more than pleased with the details; they weren't expecting Leonardi to be so well represented."

Lucil snorted. "Only them?"

It was a light enough chide that made their boss chuckle. "Lucil and Rikku you are my A- team. I cannot express enough how grateful I am to have you here." He had been holding two manila folders in his hands to which he now separated and gave to each woman. "It's why I want to keep you here, and why I'm offering you both Senior Designer positions in our firm.'

"Us?" Rikku blurted out. Lucil sent her a little smirk before opening and peeking into her folder.

William hesitated. "You're both young and have a lot of skill to learn yet, these positions are offered after a temporary fellowship training here with our Director Patrick Yates." Patty Yates was a functioning alcoholic, a real artistic and talented man when he did showed up. Rikku and Lucil glanced at one another again. So they'd be teaching themselves essentially.

"Temporary?" Lucil motioned to a point on the contract in the folder. "It says two years here." Rikku fumbled through her folder to find the point.

"You will receive a bonus when the contract is signed, and you will be." He paused to find the right phrase. "Put in a position with many benefits and responsibilities." He then touched then both on the shoulders with his clammy hands and smiled as a father might but not before taking a quick glance down Rikku's blouse. "I have to run, please think about it. My door is always open; we can negotiate the timeline and your course of study. Thank you for everything ladies."

Lucil and Rikku watched him hurry after the Bluth chairman down the hall before looking at each other.

"Did he just check out my boobs?"

Lucil nodded. "The guy needs to get laid." They looked down at their folders. "Well this is interesting."

Rikku nodded. "I think we got a promotion."

Do you think?" They began to walk down the hall back toward the wing of offices. "Senior Fellow sounds rather nice."

Rikku nodded. "This is a huge responsibility though."

The auburn haired woman tossed her head back with a laugh. "We are already running this damn place. It's about time some of those oldies in Development move on to greener pastures'."

Rikku chuckled too. "Patty is training us?"

"At a bar no less. To be fair I think he's brilliant."

"Of course but I haven't actually seen him in a week."

"I've been parking in his spot."


"He's not using it!"


Paine stole an olive and popped it into her mouth. "So they haven't called you or anything today?"

Rikku was putting the finishing touches on her salad; feta, olives, mixed greens, tomatoes… she was thinking of adding something else only because by the time Paine's mother got there Paine would have eaten all the olives anyway. "No I haven't gotten a call— would you just wait until dinner?" Paine put her hands up before launching to steal a tomato and moving away quickly. "I've never seen you stress eat before Muja." Rikku half joked as she went back to preparing the salad. It looked sad with its three lonely olives sitting on top like that, she'd have to see if they had marinated peppers. Rikku had gotten home about an hour ago, showered, changed and insisted on being a part of creating at least one dish for the night. Keira was set to arrive in an hour and a half, and aside from the pressed shirt she chose not to mention her wife had been acting a little off.

"Oh yeah? Well I'm stressed." Paine admitted with a little huff as she lifted the lid on one of the stove pots that was set to simmer. "Your dad call?"

"Of course he did."

You guys talk?"

"Of course we didn't."

"How was the meeting?"

"Mmm." Rikku was debating whether she should tell Paine about the promotion offer. She usually would, but right now she needed to really think about if she wanted to accept it or not. Paine would want her to accept it. With the baby… the police, her father…. "It was good, we did really well."

"I knew you would."

"Did you press your shirt?"

Paine looked down to her neat dark blue button down and nodded. "Too much you think?"

"I think it's cute that you're so nervous."

"I don't." Paine watched Rikku turn her back to go into the refrigerator. She took another tomato from the salad bowl and chewed it one before swallowing the whole thing.

"You shouldn't be. Keira has gone lengths at showing she cares…" She found the marinated peppers and turned to see the sheepish expression on her wife's face as she pulled her extended hand back to her side, a grape tomato falling onto the ground as obvious as a dead body rolling out of a closet. "Paine."

"I didn't eat lunch."

"How come there is no more turkey in the fridge then?"

Paine shrugged. "I don't fucking know maybe you ate it. What are you keeping inventory?"

Rikku placed the glass jar of peppers on the table and muttered something in Al Bhed. That Paine was sure went along the lines of how much she loved her. "You aren't nervous at all?"

"My mother is gone Paine, if she were here I'd be worse than you!" She teased.

Paine shook her head. "Ah but Grandpa Cid.."

"Ugh no. We're not talking about him."

"Alright well when you gonna tell him?"

"When I'm giving birth."

Paine chuckled a little and then came back over to Rikku and the salad. The blonde sent her a warning look to which Paine took tiny step back. "Hey so, I went and called Lulu today."

"About your dad?"

"What?" Rikku winced. "No… not about him." There was an awkward silence. "About modeling."

"Oh oh.." Rikku nodded quickly as she worked the glass container open and drained some of the pickling liquid out into the sink. "Mhm."

More silence.

'You think I should tell that fucker about Jelly?"

Rikku looked up. "No I never said that."

"Then why'd you ask about him?"

"I don't know….here." Paine glared down at the tomato Rikku was offering her now. She took it and chewed it slowly. Rikku smiled. "So then about modeling?"

"It's easy money."

"So is tricking." The blonde reminded seriously which made Paine laugh.

"Don't say tricking."

"What? Isn't that what it's called?"

"Yeah but just don't say it." The doorbell ringing suddenly stopped them from their laughter. "She's real early." Paine said to herself.

"Go get the door." Rikku stopped when Paine didn't move. "You want me to get it?"

Snapping out of her thoughts Paine shook her head quickly and jumped into action. "No I got it." She walked into the living room and to the front door with purpose.

"Hey kid."

Paine blinked. "Uhm… Hey."

Cid smiled gently. "You have no reason to want to see me, I know. Milan has been avoiding my calls you see and—"

Just over his shoulder another car was pulling out of the driveway and a slender figure holding a huge potted plant glided up the path. She looked back to Cid who was unloading a speech he must have practiced twelve times. His concentration on the words and not on her reaction.

This was all happening too fast she realized as Keira waved over at her.

"Cid," she greeted in a pleasant yet confused manner. "I didn't know this was a double date." The playwright smiled charmingly at the tall man once she got to the door. Keira looked dover at Paine who looked a little pale and then back at Rikku's father who looked just as confused as Paine if not more so.

She invited them in, because what else was she supposed to do? She cold feel Keira watching her closely though and she prayed that the older woman understood that she should probably ask why she was here after Cid left. Politely enough Cid and Keira began a strained conversation on the state of things irrelevant in their own lives.

Paine met Rikku standing in the kitchen with her hands on her hips. Before the blonde could say anything Paine jumped to her own defense.

"What was I supposed to do?" She whispered.

"Tell him I don't want to talk to him and close the door in his face." She threw back. "Be on my side."

"I am on your side, don't even pull that shit." Paine grabbed her keys off the counter.

"Where are you goin?"

She shrugged. "To ask Keira for help getting something from the market I forgot."

Rikku smiled a little. "Wait wait." She pulled at her arm. "Thank you."

Paine pulled her arm away but nodded with a smile. "Just make it quick."

Paine came back with a watermelon and Cid was still there.

Rikku looked up from the completed salad when Paine remerged into the kitchen. "What the fuck this thing was twelve dollars." She yell-whispered.

Rikku threw her hands up silently. "He won't leave- wait, twelve dollars? Paine we can't afford twelve dollar watermelons, it better cure cancer or something—"

Paine scoffed. "It was the only thing they had that I had to wait for to buy you more time, they're out of season I have no clue where the fuck he pulled this thing from." She whisper yelled back slapping a hand gently on its dark green surface

"It's probably not even sweet!"

"That's not the fucking point!"


Paine became better aware of her tone, "Well what the fuck do we do now?" She whispered, she was sure tomorrow she would find this hilarious, right now the very real panic of things not going to plan was washing over her, and judging by the way Rikku kept blindly adding salt to the salad she was making as she watched the area that led to the living room let Paine know she was feeling it as well. "Rikku." The blonde snapped her head back to her wife. "What do we do?"

"Well I can't tell him… I just can't Pypo not right now."

"Do you really think he won't find out from everyone else sooner or later, wouldn't you want it to be from us?"

"We can't leave through the backyard right?" She asked seriously.

Paine thought about. "No…"

Rikku sighed and looked over at her wife with worried eyes. "I get what you mean but Pai I'm…I'm a little scared." She shrugged helplessly. "Your mother will be nothing but great, but Pop can't handle anything not going his way and…well what if he goes crazy and runs off again? Or what if he hugs us? I don't think I can take either right now." She loved her father, but this right on top of the Auron situation- she just couldn't find the words and judging by the look Paine was giving her she understood.

Moments later Paine emerged from the kitchen.

She loved her wife, she loved her wife, she loved her wife…

"Uh…" The judo fighter cleared her throat. "Rikku and I are um….we.." She curled her hands in and out of fists trying to grasp the right words. "We…you see the thing about why we invited Keira …well.."

First the watermelon and now this? "Are you okay, Paine Amelia?" Keira asked more than mildly concerned at this point.


Rikku and stepped out into the living room to stand by her wife, words could not say how much she appreciated the gesture but she rather not raise this kid alone and Paine truly looked lie she were going to pass out any second now.

"We're pre—"

"Pre-pregnant." Paine finished. She nodded once at Rikku and then looked back to their parents. "Like really…really….pre…pregnant."

AN: Um…hey? Anyone still read these things? Review and let me know! Back-ish by popular demand I'm not super certain if I am going to be updating regularly, it's all up in the air, but I gotta say after reading Scales up to this point one weekend while sick in bed I fell in love with the story all over again. My goal in this is to bring you honest writing that's true to the story we've kinda built together (and somewhat grammatically correct) but also true to the story teller I've become. Also Yevon since when did they make reading Al Bhed on this site so difficult? Need some feedback on how much you guys want things already translated. Hope all is well with everyone!