"Rikki, what are you doing here?"
"Could ask you the same thing, Will."
Rikki heard Will stand up and dust off the dirt that had gotten on his shorts when he slid down the land entrance to the Moon Pool. She was resting her arms on the edge of the Moon Pool, head tilted on the side upon them.
"You okay?" He asked her. He hadn't seen her much since the party after graduation. He and Bella had been spending a lot of time together before she took off for her two month trip with her parents before she came back to attend college in town. He hadn't intended for them not to see each other, and a small part of him was worried now, seeing her as she was, that perhaps she thought they were only friends because of Bella.
"Oh, just dandy." She said, pushing off slightly from the wall and going under, not looking at him before doing so. She came back up a moment later and his worries that she didn't want to see him disappeared. "Help me out?" She asked, holding a hand out to him as she neared the edge of the pool. He pulled her up and out and once again dusted the dirt off of his shorts while she dried herself off. "What are you doing here?"
Will smiled, something about Rikki looked so much lighter than it had the last time he saw her. He knew she had been gone for a few days leading up to Bella's departure, visiting family and friends, but he had expected her to come back worse than she had been. Instead she looked as she had when she first met him. Light, and carefree, minus the whole mermaid secret thing. "Just came to enjoy the day."
"And Cleo and Lewis. Never realized how often they stick their tongues down each other's throats."
"Ah, yeah, that becomes apparent when you aren't doing the same thing. How is Bella doing, by the way?"
"She's fine, trip just started, so nothing too dramatic yet. How was your trip?"
She shrugged and he didn't think he should push, but he felt the need to, like she wanted him to.
"You seem happy."
Rikki didn't talk for what felt like several minutes, wandering around, using small steps, before finally turning to him.
"I know how you feel about Zane."
"Are you two back together?"
She breathed, and he gathered she was taking the time to think about what she was going to say, not avoiding his questions. Rikki thinking before she opens her mouth.. that one's new. He thought with a chuckle.
"You can tell me anything, Rikki."
"I want to know I can trust him again, before I give in to my feelings."
Something in Will's heart sank as she said those words. "You still have feelings for him?"
"I still love him. I think." She said, sighing heavily and sitting down and looking at her hands, gathered in her lap. "It's hard with not knowing if I can trust him. And what the girls and I talked about, wondering sometimes—mostly when we're fighting—if we're with people because they know, or because we genuinely do love them."
Will brushed off her last comment, deciding his own curiosity could wait. "What brought this on?"
"Did I ever tell you I dated my best friend?"
"I did. And he was my cousin's best friend too. We were all one big group."
"And?" Will had no idea how this could be relevant to Zane, and while he wanted to be there for Rikki, Zane being brought up had a way of making him rather terse and irritable.
"Well, I saw him while I was home. He's dating one of my old best friends—well, dating isn't the right word—and we talked. One of those long talks you can only have with someone you've known forever and haven't seen in a long time."
Rikki was silent suddenly, and any annoyance Will had with her over the topic dissolved at her tone. She barely sounded like the Rikki he knew so well.
"Anyways," she continued, "I, well, I wanted to tell him everything. I wanted to tell both of them everything, it's the first secret I kept from them and it was harder to do so when we were so close. Instead i settled to tell them about Zane, and fudged the truth a little about why we broke up. Same impact, different story, you know?" Will nodded, not that Rikki saw. "And they were just as pissed as I was. As we all were. But when we were alone... He's right. I still love Zane, and I owe him a shot at redeeming himself. At least for the sake of my own feelings."
For the sake of your own feelings you should never talk to him again. He thought, staring at the stubborn and proud girl that was currently hunched over in a sitting position. Zane made you feel this way. He put you here. If anything, he deserves the fullest extent of your powers used on him slowly.
"He tried to reveal your secret, Rikki." He settled for instead.
Rikki gave him a look, one that ensured him the old Rikki was still in there underneath all of this. "You and I both know he wouldn't have done that." And it was true that she knew this, wholeheartedly, as did Cleo and Lewis. Bella trusted their word, or so she said. But Will refused to talk about it. In fact, this was the first time he and Rikki had talked about it since it happened.
"You might, I'm not so sure." The shrug that accompanied his response was met with an eye roll from his female companion in the cave before she stood and walked to the far wall, facing away from him.
The water was reflecting onto the pool, making it feel as though it was moving from the shimmering effect it had. The magic had returned only recently, and they had known almost instantly, Rikki had felt it. She had felt it the moment it had happened. Will and Lewis had found her connection to the pool to be remarkable, while Cleo had asked her if she had felt it when it had been blown up. Bella, while happy the magic was back, had felt almost jilted by Rikki having the connection, and not her. The feeling was gone almost as soon as she had expressed it to Will the next day, yet it stuck in Will's mind.
"Do you want to talk about it?" He asked after she didn't speak. Her mind was lost in the magic of the cave. She didn't tell them, but it was growing, and it was beginning to become too much for her to handle.
Her heart ached at his words, because the only person she wanted to talk about this, about her connection and her confused feelings, was the very person who caused it all.
"Will you help me?"
"Help you? How?" He quite literally jumped up at the opportunity, mistaking her invite as one to learn more about her connection to the Moon Pool.
"Will you help me know if I can trust him?"