A/N: It doesn't get any more Tidus/Rikku than this. Look for the longer author's note at the end.
Al Bhed Blue
I can't even remember the last time I got a moment to sit down.
The distant hum of the engines permeates everywhere you go in the Airship, including the little cabin that has become my room. It's comforting actually. Everything in Zanarkand used to emit a kind of low hum, a side effect of all the machina running day and night non-stop. If I close my eyes it almost feels like I'm back there again…
Well, of course, we are in Zanarkand. Floating above it in an airship the Al Bhed salvaged and then made their own. It was this airship that came and picked us up out of the ruins after our defeat of Lady Yunalesca.
It was good to be back amongst the Al Bhed again. Not that there had been much time to reconnect with old friends; once we got on board and arrived at the bridge we had to face the question of what to do next. "Frana? Frana?" Brother had started asking, almost immediately.
""Where, where?" That all you can say?" Rikku had snapped. "Why don't you think of something!?"
I felt a little bad for Brother but I can't blame Rikku for responding that way. We had just destroyed the only known path to defeating Sin and were now tasked with finding an alternative. The stress of what we had just endured in the Zanarkand ruins could be clearly seen on the faces of all of the guardians.
Cid, on the other hand, seemed quite pleased with the situation. "Well aren't we a happy bunch!" he said, upon our arrival.
The last time I had seen Rikku's father was when he was ordering Home to be destroyed. We were all frantically panicking, not knowing where Yuna was, but Cid was as cool as can be. I remember him declaring, "No hare-brained law or teaching can send my little niece to her death! When I save her, I'll make her give up being a summoner quicker than a desert melts ice!"
I don't know if I was anticipating a touching family reunion between an uncle and his niece but I wasn't really expecting what did happen. Yuna had approached Cid and at first the two locked gazes without saying a word. Then Yuna bowed, but Cid responded by turning his back to her. Yuna didn't seem hurt by this; I think for an interaction without words a lot was said between the two.
Shortly after this Yuna had left along with most of the other guardians, which left myself, Rikku and the Al Bhed crew on the bridge. Oh, and let's not forget Cid.
Normally the idea of talking with a guy like Cid wouldn't stress me out. But this is Rikku's father, and I had absolutely no idea what he would say to me. Did he know the extent of my relationship with is daughter? I exchanged a glance with Rikku who gave me an encouraging nod in response.
Cid gave me a full once over. "So… you're the one running around saving my people, huh? First you save my numbskull son over here from near certain death and then you manage to save my determined-to-die niece as well?"
I gave a hesitant nod in response. Cid laughed a kind of belly laugh that was warm and intimidating at the same time.
"Well you've just earned yourself a seat on the battle plan committee. We've got a giant monster out there that needs destroying and I'm told you've got a knack with machina."
His words put me slightly more at ease. It wasn't exactly a big warm 'welcome to the Al Bhed family' bear hug but it wasn't a rejection either.
Cid looked over at Rikku. "Oui'na cina?" he asked. "Get ryc cbihg pid dra Al Bhed meva yeh'd ayco. Ec ra duikr ahuikr?"
You're sure? Kid has spunk but the Al Bhed life ain't easy. Is he tough enough?
Something in his tone had reminded me of my old man and the way he used to tease me. Before Rikku had a chance to reply I found myself reacting out loud:
"Hey, I'm pretty sure I've got what it takes, Gramps!"
There was a moment of painful silence and then… I heard Rikku giggle and Cid let out a huge guffaw.
"Gwah hah ha, I think I like this kid," Cid said, to no one in particular. "Well then, what are you doing in that ragtag crusader outfit? Go see Buddy and get yourself some proper Al Bhed clothes. Then I suggest you go get some rest… tomorrow we're gettin' down to business."
After a quick round of the airship and checking in with the other guardians I made a beeline for the cabin room that had been assigned to me. What with the day I had I didn't waste any time heading to bed. I was just about to nod off and get some much needed sleep when I received a little visit from Rikku.
Sometimes I forget this girl is a world class thief. I hadn't heard her open the door to my cabin, and I wasn't even aware of her approaching the bed until she was climbing in.
"Rikku!?" I exclaimed
"Shhhh! Not so loud silly!"
"What are you doing here?" I asked, lowering my voice.
"What do you think you big lug? I'm sleeping over!" she said with a grin. She gave me a little push. "Move over, would ya?"
Her brazenness made me blush. Not that I wanted her to leave, it's just that this was a little different than drawing our sleeping bags up next to each other for warmth while travelling up Mt. Gagazet.
"Rikku… is this such a good idea? Isn't Brother in a cabin a few doors down? And… and…"
"Oh, don't worry about Pops."
"Oh, I most definitely worry about Cid!"
Rikku shushed me again. "Then keep your voice down!" She settled down in to the bed and pulled up alongside me on my right.
At the risk of sounding redundant I asked her again, "What are you doing here, Rikku?"
She pouted in response. "You know, some guys actually like it when their girlfriends climb into bed with them…"
Huh, I think that might have been the first time she called herself my girlfriend. I won't deny it made me happy. I try hard not to grin like an idiot.
I make an effort to come up with a clever reply. "Well… something tells me you are here for reasons beyond fulfilling an overwhelming need to cuddle."
"Cuddle?" Rikku says in response. "I'm not here to cuddle," she says, kissing me in the process.
Ooookay, keep it together Tidus. A girl in your bed making out with you sounds nice. But her father, the intimidating leader of an entire people who also happens to be in near proximity of these thin-walled airship cabins, is probably not the kind of man who wants to be woken up by the sounds of a guy making out with his daughter.
But Rikku doesn't let up. Her intensity is doing a number on me and I'm having a hard time holding myself back. I try desperately to think on other things. Zanarkand Ruins. Sin. Seymour. Chocobos.
"Hey, where's your head at you big meanie!?" Rikku says, interrupting her kisses.
"Sorry… I was just thinking of Zanarkand… and Sin," I reply, which is sort of true. I won't mention why I was focusing my attention on these things at the moment.
My words cause Rikku to grow a bit more serious in demeanor. "Yeah… you know we haven't really gotten a chance to talk since what happened in Zanarkand… that's why I had wanted to come and see you."
"See, I knew there was something more…" I say teasingly, before Rikku interrupts.
"Kevd, what's going on?"
Her use of my Al Bhed nickname brings me to a more somber state of mind. I know that Rikku tends to refer to me in this way in our more serious conversations.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"Something isn't adding up, you know?" she said. "We did it, we saved Yunie and now we're going to figure out a way to beat Sin without any summoners and guardians from ever having to die for stupid Yevon!" She pauses, thinking. "But us defeating Sin is going to depend on you and the fact that Sin is your dad. How is that going to work? Are you going to fight him yourself?"
"I… I don't know yet. Maybe? We have to destroy Sin… whether or not he's my old man."
"Right… but I just… want to know that you'll be safe okay?"
Rikku props herself up and looks at me with a concerned expression. We're positioned in such a way that I'm lying on my back while she lies on her side, facing towards me. The dim lighting drapes us both in shadow but I can still make out her eyes, which never fail to captivate me.
"All this time I'd been thinking of saving Yunie. How we had to make her stop her pilgrimage before she sacrificed herself. But I never really thought about how… well… now that Yunie's pilgrimage is over…" Rikku's face betrays a kind of sadness I am not used to seeing from her. "Tidus, you can't do anything stupid okay? Don't be a bit stupid meanie, okay? After all we worked for don't go… sacrifice yourself okay?"
"Hey… hey Rikku no… don't worry okay?" I say, my free hand reaching for her face. "I'm not going to do anything stupid…"
Well… I guess that depends on how you define 'stupid'. I know I should probably tell her about how I am a dream of the fayth. And how the fayth told me that they are tired of dreaming. But who knows what that means when it comes to me facing off against my old man?
Besides, in this moment there is nothing in me other than the impulse to make the girl next to me feel happy, loved, and secure.
My days in Spira thus far have all been about going backwards: Back to Zanarkand. Back to Home. They've been about stopping forward progress: Stop Yuna from getting married to Seymour. Stop Yuna from completing her suicide pilgrimage. There's been so little time to think about the future, let alone strive towards it. Zanarkand was the end of my story, or so I thought.
But now I find myself starting to entertain the idea of a future. That is, the kind of future that includes the girl lying next to me. I know I shouldn't let myself start thinking this way. I don't know what exactly is going to happen next but chances are there aren't many chapters left in my story.
Out of my memory comes a conversation Rikku and I once had, a long time ago back when we were in the desert, at Home. During one of our Al Bhed Psyches blitzball practices a teammate name Eigaar had been talking about a girl he intended to ask to marry. I had brought it up in conversation with Rikku later, because it struck me as a little bit odd; Eigaar was a year younger than myself.
"Isn't he a little young to get married?" I had said.
Rikku had simply shrugged in response. "Some people marry really young in Spira, you know."
"You mean people our age are getting married?"
"Yeah, Fiends are around, and there's always Sin, right? One of them might get you, you know?" She paused, then, "Lots of people marry the first person they fall in love with, just like that!"
"I'll probably be the same way," she added. I thought I had noticed Rikku blush with those words but the next moment she was back to her chipper self. "But if you ask me I don't think Eigaar has a chance with her…"
Her words from this conversation keep playing over and over in my mind until an intense look from Rikku takes me out of my contemplative state. She too had been lost in thought, but now she looks as if she had just made up her mind about something.
"What are you thinking about?" I ask.
"Well… when I thought you were dead… after Operation Mi'ihen… I thought a lot about what I wish I had gotten the chance to say or do with you," she says. "I thought about how we had never kissed and I had always wanted to, back when we were at Home."
I smile and lean over to give her a quick kiss. "Well then, I guess you've gotten what you've always wanted," I say lightheartedly.
"I didn't like the feeling of having regrets," Rikku continues, her focus undeterred by my playfulness. She's grinning now, and I sense a mood shift.
"I didn't either, back when we were separated," I offer in reply, not knowing what else to say.
It doesn't occur to me what she is truly getting at until Rikku begins shifting and moves on top of me. Without much effort she positions herself so that she straddling me; her hands rest on my loose fitting Al Bhed shirt while those green eyes peer down at me.
"Rikku?" I say, surprised.
She smiles at me. It's an unsure but determined smile. "After we face Sin… I don't want to have any regrets, okay?"
My mind finally catches up to the situation at hand. I think very carefully about what to say to her in this moment. I could lie, and tell her that she has nothing to worry about. I could tell her that there won't be anything to regret because we'll have plenty of time to do the many things people in love get to do once this business with Sin is over and done with. And I could kiss her but then gently push her off of me and tell her that these things shouldn't be rushed into.
But even without telling her the truth about me being a dream of the fayth… Rikku has lived her whole life in Spira. There is no future guarantee for anyone here.
Yeah, Fiends are around, and there's always Sin, right? One of them might get you, you know?
"You're thinking too much," Rikku says, kissing me again. Her hands begin wandering without bothering to wait for my response. The top few buttons of my shirt come undone and her left hand begins tracing the scar I received from that ice monster back at Macalania Temple.
Lots of people marry the first person they fall in love with, just like that!
"You know, it's not that complicated," she adds, her voice louder now, more confident. "I want this and I'm not going to regret it."
I'll probably be the same way.
She's right, of course. When I stop thinking and overcomplicating things I realize that the very beautiful girl that I'm in love with is currently in my bed, working to take my shirt off.
I decide to lend her a hand.
"Okay your turn!"
"Umm… okay… your favorite color?"
"Hey you big lug you should know this by now! Blue! Like your eyes…"
"Yeah, you're right I already knew that. Okay your turn."
"How did I get these perfect abs? Well let me tell you a little story— hey ow! No hitting! I'm still naked over here!"
"Don't interrupt my turn, meanie!"
"Ha ha okay okay. What do you want to know?"
"….Tidus, how many girlfriends did you have… you know, back in Zanarkand?"
"How many? Ha, I never had a girlfriend. Well, none unless you count blitzball."
"Naymmo? I can't imagine the 'star player of the Zanarkand Abes' being single."
"Believe it Rikku. I mean I had my fair share of female fans... but I was obsessed with beating my old man's legacy no matter what. Blitz was my one true love. Well, until now."
"Now... Drana'c uhmo oui."
There's only you.
A/N (Updated 4/1/14 6:00PM): I would love to hear what you guys think in your reviews. I tried extra extra hard to keep this in character. This scene was no accident, it was very carefully though out.
A personal pet peeve of mine is when fanfic writers throw characters into romantic scenes simply for the sake of getting their favorite characters to make out/make love, etc. This is usually done without respecting the characters themselves. I wanted to make sure the above scene make sense within the context of my story as well as the world of Spira established by the real game.
Since I write from Tidus' perspective its easy to convey his reasoning, but I wanted to make sure that this made sense for Rikku's character as well. The conversation about people in Spira marrying young is taken word for word straight from the game, its a conversation between Rikku and Tidus in Guadosalam that you get depending on some player choices (google it). I changed the context of the conversation to Home for my story but i think it still conveys that this is a realistic decision for Rikku to make given the circumstances. I also feel like this straight from the real game conversation can combat the possible question of the characters being so young.
Let me know what you think, I'm very interested. Next chapter will be up in 4 to 6 weeks.