Bared By Moonlight
-written by Dragonkiri-
Rydia sighed in discontent and folded her arms, cursing her insomnia. Though the day had been eventful and the journey to the moon had been long, she and Rosa had gotten no rest as they had hidden near the entrance of the Lunar Whale the entire time. Cecil had decided that it would be wise to get some sleep before venturing out through the lunar pathways toward the Crystal Palace. Everyone else had retired to the sleeping quarters onship, but after an hour or so of restlessness, Rydia arose and made her way to the bridge.
She stood behind the viewscreen of the Lunar Whale, silently gazing out at the pale, dry landscape of the Red Moon. It was interesting, she thought, that what looked vividly red in the sky was really just a dull, boring grey up close. She stared off into the distance at the Crystal Palace, the one object on the surface of the moon that gleamed, smooth and dark in contrast to the pale chalkiness of the rest of the scenery.
And it was really very boring scenery. Though they had only arrived, Rydia already missed the vibrant blues and greens of the Blue Planet. She felt an irrational urge to go outside and look for plant life. Animals, if the monsters roaming outside could be called animals, lived upon this dry rock; why couldn't plants?
"Nice view, isn't it?"
Rydia tensed, jolted out of her thoughts. She turned slightly leftward to see Kain calmly sauntering toward one of the seats near the flying controls. As he sat down, she turned back to the viewscreen, struggling to mask the sudden angry look that flashed across her face. She didn't want company. She especially didn't want Kain's company.
After a moment, she decided it would be impolite not to reply. After all the work Queen Asura had put into teaching her protégée courtly manners, it would be disrespectful not to use them.
"No," she said shortly.
Kain could feel a distinct chill in the air, and it wasn't coming from the vents of the ship. He hadn't expected to see anyone up and about, and he had wanted to be alone to think. He couldn't think within his quarters; the rooms aboard the Lunar Whale were tiny and claustrophobic. Finding Rydia on the bridge was a somewhat unpleasant surprise. The summoner had never been too friendly with him, but since he had rejoined Cecil and the rest on the Giant of Bab-il, she had been downright icy.
"Maybe you should try getting some rest," he suggested, an unsubtle attempt to make Rydia leave. "It's been a busy day, and I don't think you could have gotten a very good nap sitting on the steps down there for hours." He made a careless gesture toward the port-side entrance of the Lunar Whale.
Looks like I'm stuck with her. He frowned a bit, and then after a moment he had an idea. Perhaps if he could get a good conversation going, the atmosphere would be a little less uncomfortable. Granted, Rydia didn't ever really seem inclined to want to talk to him, but damned if he wouldn't try.
"Are you feeling nervous about going into the core?" Kain asked.
As if I'm going to admit anything like that to you. "No." Rydia had her own plan. If she kept up with the curt responses, perhaps he would go away. Or perhaps he would shut up, and she could pretend he had gone away.
For a while, she thought it had worked. Then, "Cecil and Edge tell me that the monsters here are pretty tough."
Not really. There are grenades here that die with a single thunder spell. They take out everything near them, though. I wonder if I could get you close to one before exploding it.. The thought made her smile a bit. The expression wasn't very nice.
Kain misunderstood. "You don't think so, then?"
Rydia quashed a snarl of annoyance. "You were never this talkative before."
"I never really had a good chance to talk to you," the dragoon responded.
"You had plenty of chances to talk to whomever," Rydia retorted derisively, "but you always chose to mope and keep to yourself. As I remember, Cecil and Rosa always had to approach you to get you to say two words every day."
Not expecting to receive anything other than another terse reply, Kain blinked, slightly taken aback.
"Anyway," Rydia continued, "don't bother. I don't want to talk to you." Not now, or ever.
"Why?" Kain was beginning to feel upset. The green-haired woman did not reply, and after a minute, he sighed, feeling his ire drain away. Of course. The reason why was obvious. She clearly was still angry at him for his betrayal in the Sealed Cavern. He really couldn't blame her. His own guilt was the reason why he himself could not sleep.
"I... apologize," he said slowly, hating that it sounded so weak and stupid. Not knowing what else to say, and knowing that even if he could find the words they would never be enough, he fell silent again.
"You... apologize?" Rydia whipped around, clenching her hands into fists as she shot Kain a glare full of vinegar. "Such a joke that is! How dare you? You awful, dreadful man!" She spat the words as she felt her eyes fill with hot tears. She saw him stiffen, and she wiped at her eyes angrily with her sleeve.
"I meant what I said to Edge," he said, his tone even. "In the event that I might turn traitor once more, I beg you to strike me down where I stand."
"If I didn't think that it would have hurt Cecil and Rosa greatly, I would have summoned Bahamut and had you charred to a cinder the moment you appeared within the Giant," she hissed.
Her words were met only with silence. There was really nothing Kain could say to that. He hadn't known that Rydia's dislike for him ran so deeply.
"I have never liked you," the summoner admitted, almost as if she could hear his thoughts. "You have never given me reason to make me like you." His inquiring glance seemed to compel her continue despite herself. "The first time I saw you, you had slain a Mist dragon. My mother lay dead on the ground and you spoke of me as if I were also a creature to dispose of." Kain started, ready to protest when he was shot down with another fierce glare.
Rydia remembered afterward, when she had somehow managed to summon Titan and caused the mountains to crumble. Kain had been presumed dead. After Cecil had gained her trust in Kaipo, she had felt terrible for causing the death of his closest friend. She remembered stories that Cecil would tell as they journeyed through Damcyan's waterways, of his life in Baron, of Rosa, of Kain. He had told her what a good man Kain had been. And then...
"The second time I saw you was in the Crystal Room of Fabul Castle." Kain closed his eyes, slumping slightly in his seat. The sight did not mollify her. "You turned on Cecil, you beat him to within an inch of his life! Your best friend! He told me you were practically his brother!" The tears streamed down her cheeks as she remembered the attack upon Fabul. She had relived that moment in nightmares for years, along with the day her mother died and her village burned.
"I tried to trust you when I rejoined you in the underworld," she went on quietly. At this point, she had turned back to the viewscreen, staring blankly at the gleaming spires of the Crystal Palace. She wasn't even sure why she still spoke, but at the same time she felt better for it; she had always kept these thoughts to herself, never daring to confide them to anyone. "Cecil and Rosa had forgiven you, and that's what mattered to me. You fought with them and not against them, and I felt perhaps I might see what they saw in you. I thought maybe you were all right. And then you proved me wrong.
"That is why," she said, finally answering his question. "I don't like you, Kain, and I definitely do not trust you. I tolerate you only because Cecil and Rosa do, and it amazes me how they can still find forgiveness in their hearts even when you will never deserve it. I can never forgive you for everything you've done. And I will never be your friend!"
Silence reigned on the bridge for a long, long moment. Rydia turned once more to look at him. Kain saw that while the anger in her expression was gone, loathing remained. It was not an emotion he was accustomed to seeing upon her normally good-natured features. It didn't suit her. The dragoon could not say a word. He sat, still slumped in his seat, unable to look away.
At last, she turned, and without another word she headed back to her quarters. She did not look back.
Kain stared blankly at the bleak landscape through the viewscreen. He remained in his seat until the others arose, ready to make their way toward the Crystal Palace. He had not gotten any sleep.
Author's Notes: This scene came into my head while I was at work, and I knew that had to write it down by the time I got home. I've been thinking a lot about FFIV lately, mostly because of the Game Boy Advance release. While I played it, I noticed for the first time that Rydia and Kain... don't interact all that much. There is one scene where they talk directly to each other, and that was in Village Mist. Not the best first conversation, or first impression, ever.
Rydia has had three bad experiences with Kain, and the two worst occured during her childhood. She spends years in the Land of Summons thinking of Kain as That Bad Person - that has to make some kind of a lasting negative impression. Cecil gained her trust, but Kain never has. To be fair, he never had a chance, but at no point even after Rydia rejoins the party is there a scene in the game where she and Kain have any closure. To Cecil and Rosa, Kain is a beloved childhood friend who is under mind control, serving Golbez against his will. Their Kain is "bad" for a short period of time. Rydia, however, has spent years thinking of Kain as an evil man. I personally think it would be very difficult to wipe all that away with a mere, "But he was being controlled by someone else!"
That said, this recent trend of pairing Rydia and Kain together baffles me. I used to think it might be cute, but now that I've thought about it, I don't see it happening very easily, if at all.
All that aside, poor Kain. Despite the harsh beating he gets here, I do really like him. Even if Rydia doesn't!
And before I forget, props to CapsuleKei and Ether for being nice betas, and Jukar for providing an awesome title on demand. You're all awesome!