Baralai slipped a tip into the palm of the waitress that had cleared away their plates and began to walk in the general direction of the hospital, Rikku bouncing alongside with her braids flailing.
"So what are you going to say to Yunie when she wakes up?!"
The Praetor made a frustrated gesture with his hand and walked a little faster.
"I'm not sure. I have a lot of Poetry revised from my books. I'm positive that something I remember will be appropriate..."
Rikku snorted in a very unladylike manner.
"Oh great! You're going to recite to her! How romantic!" She rolled her eyes. "I'm sure that Yunie's going to adore the diplomatic approach!"
Baralai blushed and then frowned in annoyance, lengthening his strides.
"Forgive me for being new to this, Rikku." He shot back at the thief who pouted and grinned in quick succession, sidling up to him.
"Okay, Okay! I'm sorry! How about we skip the first question?" She paused. "Hmm... Okay! What are you going to give her for a gift?"
Baralai touched a hand to his forehead and growled. "Rikku..."
She bit her lip and scuffed the toe of her boot, innocently. When Baralai didn't relent, she sighed and offered another apologetic smile.
"Fiiine... Come with me and I'll give you a hand..." She grabbed Baralai's wrist and dragged him to the hospital. Because she was jogging ahead, she didn't see his mischievous and exultant smirk.
They stood by the entry to the gift shop, ignoring a couple of patrons who stood and gawked shamelessly.
"Okay!" Rikku said sharply. "I'm your teacher and I'm going to learn you good so that you major in Yunie!"
Baralai grinned, his amusement winning over the irritated side of his mind. "Sure thing, Teachie." If she wanted to dance, then he'd prove that he knew the steps.
Rikku scowled. "Shut up! Don't you backchat me!" She waggled her index finger in his face.
The Praetor massaged his forehead with one hand, feeling the heat rise in his cheeks. This was getting just a little embarrassing. There was playing and then there was some... The onlookers were kind of putting a dampener on his fun side.
"Rikku!" He whispered loudly. "I'm supposed to be the Praetor here!"
The blonde girl stood there, lip twitching and eyes shining. "Fine then! Do it by yourself!"
"Yevon..." Baralai swore under his breath. He thought quickly, resisting the urge to scream. "I will! Some teacher you are..." He gave her a slightly disgusted look, shaking his head. He turned to a shelf, pretending to browse the books. He smirked again and counted down in his head. Three... Two... One...
"FINE! I'll help you, but you have to be nice. Okay?"
Just like he thought...
Twenty minutes later, they made their way to Yuna's room armed with a delicate silver bracelet and a bouquet of Moon Lilies. The bouquet he'd bought from the Hospital Florist had made a considerable hole in his wallet... Still, the lass at the counter had been so flabbergasted at having Baralai as a customer, he'd got the jewellery a for a third of what it was worth. There were certain advantages that being well known got you. Outside Yuna's room, Rikku stopped Baralai and peered around the door, being careful to stay hidden.
Lulu sighed wearily and continued to hold Yuna's hand firmly in her own, occasionally stroking it with her slender fingers. Yuna had woken up around midnight, delirious with shock and the fever that had cropped up. It was now late evening and the fever had begun to break. Yuna was finally sleeping. The former black mage gently replaced the overly warm hand onto the thin sheet and stretched, turning to her husband. Wakka was jammed in a chair with Vidina curled up in a borrowed cot, clutching a plush Chocobo. If an outsider were to walk in it would most probably appear that he didn't care that Lulu had stayed up all night. That definitely wasn't the case. The couple had discussed the situation at hand and they had decided that they'd have to take turns between being a parent or a sibling. Lulu made her way to the couch to smooth her husband's hair from his face and smiled for the first time in a few days. It was things like this that made it okay.
Wakka opened his dark eyes and smiled up at Lulu, pulling her down beside him.
"Hiya Gorgeous," He said sleepily, touching her face. "So Yuna's asleep now, ya?"
Lulu smiled appreciatively. "It took long enough. They're sure the fever is breaking, so she can sleep now."
Wakka stood up slowly and placed Vidina in a crib that was in the corner of the room. He returned to his seat and pulled Lulu into his lap.
Lulu closed her eyes and sighed. "You were lucky that Vidina was being a handful. It was horrible. She woke up and screamed for Gippal. I guess we looked so bad that she didn't believe he was alive until we managed to get a hold of him for her. Maybe it was the fever speaking? It must have been because after that she began moaning and crying about the Praetor of New Yevon. They had to knock her out with a tranquilliser," Lulu didn't bother to hide her confusion. ", I don't know why she mentioned him of all people..."
Wakka nodded in agreement.
"Well his boat picked her up right? But she wouldn't know about that would she? She never talks to that Yevon scum anyway, does she...? And-"
Lulu smiled into Wakka's shoulder and rolled her eyes slightly, before pulling back and placing her finger on his lips, effectively ending Wakka's protective tangent for a while.
"We can discuss it later. Right now, I think we should go to the room that we were booked and concentrate on other things..."
Wakka was a little confused as Lulu got up and scooped Vidina and his Toy from the cot.
His wife turned around, a serene smile on her face, red eyes shining.
"Like being a family...."
She left it hanging for a moment before re-balancing Vidina on her hips and taking Wakka's hand to lead him away.
Rikku hissed under her breath and gestured for Baralai, who was slightly pale with anger, to hide in the empty room adjacent to Yuna's. Lulu looked up quickly and her eyes opened wide in surprise.
The thief giggled nervously and linked her hands behind her back. "Hi Lulu! Want me to look after Vidina for the night?!?!" She asked on impulse.
Lulu smiled warmly and looked at Wakka, a strange look in her eyes.
"I think that's a lovely idea, Rikku. Thank you very much for suggesting it."
Wakka looked slightly confused but he put his arm around Lulu and smiled as Rikku carefully lifted the sleeping tot out of Lulu's arms. "Yeah, thanks a bunch Rikku. His carry bag is under the chair there..."
She giggled nervously again. "Ehehe, It's no problem at all! I didn't have any plans!" Well there goes clubbing with Gippal...
Wakka and Lulu thanked her again, linked arms and left. Rikku watched them walk down the corridor and out of sight before she breathed a sigh of relief. She motioned for Baralai, who was still obviously mad. Rikku was amazed that the fragile flowers were still intact. She patted him on the shoulder, comfortingly and sighed.
"Don't take it personally, Lai... Wakka used to be a Yevon fanatic." She laughed sadly. "He held it against my heritage a lot, until we uncovered the truth about Yu Yevon. Now he just has some huge grudge against anything Yevon... I'd forget about it."
Baralai nodded and smiled awkwardly. "I'd better, yes. I have a lot more to think about now..."
Rikku grabbed Vidina's overnight bag and Chocobo before pausing in the doorway.
He watched her leave, before turning back to the silent figure in the bed. He was glad that Rikku's giggling hadn't woken Yuna up.
"Well... This is going to be a new experience, I'm sure..." He mumbled to himself.
He slowly approached the bed, toying with the silver and purple ribbons that encircled the bouquet and pulled up a chair. Now or never...
"Hey Yuna. It's time to get up now, beautiful."
His voice was so soft and cracked and somehow she heard him. Slowly her mixed matched eyes opened and focussed on his face. She smiled a little bewilderedly.
He returned the smile. "It's me."
Yuna relaxed into her pillows again.
After a moment Baralai showed her the flowers and placed them by her bed. His heart rate began to increase and he felt a little funny inside.
"I got you these. I hope you like them." He paused and searched his robes for the little silver box. He handed it to her, his wrist shaking. Yuna took the gift and opened it, her eyes wide and shining with surprise and delight.
Baralai's face lit up.
"Would you put it on for me, please?" Yuna asked, her voice light.
He took the bracelet and attempted to do the clasp, his hands fumbling and his face getting increasingly redder. Finally, he succeeded and drew his hand away. Yuna held up her wrist, admiring the delicate chain and the intricate Moon Lily charms that dangled from it to make a pleasant shimmering sound.
"I-I hope you like it, I mean, I can change it if you want..."
Yuna shook her head as vigorously as her condition would allow.
"Don't you dare! It's lovely..." She admired the bracelet for another moment before letting her hand fall. She sighed softly and looked up into Baralai's deep brown eyes, a gentle smile turning up the corners of her mouth. "You can kiss me, if you like. I won't yell at you this time. I promise..."
Baralai looked up sharply from her hands, blushing for what felt like the hundredth time that day.
"Yuna..." He could barely speak now.
"I've had a lot of time to think lately," she said gently. ", And I realised that you made me happy. I didn't want to admit it... Baralai, when I turned you away that night, I wasn't thinking. Maybe I was thinking too hard... Either way, I wanted to say that I'm sorry... I wanted to be with you so badly..." A lone tear slid down her cheek.
Baralai brushed the tear away with the back of his index finger, before cupping her face in the same hand. His expression was intense and honest when he answered her, his eyes locked on hers.
"Yuna... It doesn't matter. I've never felt this way before about anything or anyone... I think I would endure anything to be with you right now..."
After that moment, everything fell into place just as it should. Yuna smiled as Baralai leaned in, wonder evident in her expression, before slowly closing her eyes and surrendering herself to his kiss.
Authors Note: Awwww!! Well I know this is a long time coming... There have been a lot of reasons. Some are personal, but the main reason is that my Notebook has been freezing, blue screening and randomly shutting itself down every five minutes or so. Ask any of the SF people, they'll tell you!!! Well, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I tried very hard to pull it off. I was very blocked about how to get it right...