"So um, Lu, you feelin' okay?"

The mage turned and crooked an eyebrow at the burly athlete, nervously fidgeting with the ball tucked under his arm.

She closed her hand on the handful of ice crystals with a sigh, feeling the cold water drip through her fingers. Blizzaga. She almost had it now. A few more days on Mt. Gagazet tasting the fierce bite of ice needles stinging her bare skin, and she would be able to pull it off effortlessly. Her companions never understood why Lulu seemed to dress so poorly for the elements. She did not fear them. She reveled in them.

Unfortunately, Wakka had been hovering near her most nights, especially since she had stepped forward to offer herself as Final Aeon while the other Guardians stood gawking in shock. She had realized it was a futile offer when she made it, but it would have saved her the trouble of fending him off, at least.

"I'm fine, Wakka. Relax. Our plan will work."

"Ya been up here every night workin' on those spells. Doncha think it would be a good idea to rest? Spend a little more time with Yuna, too, just in case--"

"Wakka." Her eyes flashed. "Don't say it. Don't even think it."

His face fell. "Sorry. I know, we got better chances now than before to get Yuna through this in one piece. I can't help but worry though. You know how she is."

"That is why I am here." She turned suddenly, clenched her hand, and threw a sizzling bolt over his shoulder. Wakka gave a squawk and dived to the deck-plate, dropping the ball under his arm. She chuckled softly as he scrambled after and threw himself across it before it rolled off the curved hull of the airship into the clouds.

"Dangit, Lu!" He swore a few blasphemies at which he would have blushed when they began their pilgrimage.

She smiled faintly. "You need to keep on your toes as well, Wakka. We all must be ready, when the time comes."

"Yeah, I know, but--" he looked up fondly. "You're still really scary sometimes, you know that?"

She shrugged and turned away, shaking out her fingers. Thundaga was coming along nicely, but her hand still felt numb afterwards.

Wakka scratched the back of his neck. "Maybe you're right. Like Tidus says: Victory. We can do this. We've got you an' Sir Auron, an' Yuna's the best Summoner since her father, I know it. Maybe even better." He smiled, hopping to his feet. "So whatcha gonna do after it's all over? Come back to Besaid? No more pilgrimages after this one, after all."

She heard the faint note of hope in his voice. "Perhaps. I might travel for a while. There is still so much to learn about Spira."

"Oh, no." He pressed a hand in his forehead. "I can just see you fifty years down th' road givin' travelogues to everyone who passes by like old Maechen. Come on, Lu. There's better things to do."

"Such as?" Lulu raised an eyebrow. "If you try to get me onto the Blitzball team again--"

"N-no-no, that was Chappu's bright idea!" He waved his hands rapidly. "Well, you know... Tidus told me what you said in Guadosalam. Like you kept tellin' me, my little brudda, he's not comin' back. There's gonna be someone else out there."

"And since when did that become your business, Wakka?"

"Hey." He folded his arms. Somewhere between Besaid and Zanarkand, Wakka had developed enough of a backbone not to be intimidated by the mage anymore. "Yuna said we were like her big sister 'n brother, remember? She's right. I'm allowed to care about you, even if I'm not Chappu."

She snorted. "Wondering if your name is on the 'list'?"

Wakka ducked his head sheepishly. "Ya, maybe. But that's really not why I was askin' -- I just want to see you happy again, Lu, after all we've been through."

"Thanks. But first we have to get through this." She shook her head. "With all due respect, Wakka, you're farther down on the list than Tidus."

"That's not funny, Lu," he stormed, but before he could work himself up properly, she had glided foward and planted a soft kiss on his cheek, totally befuddling him. The sorceress smirked at his dazed expression.

"You were right, Wakka. Brother and sister. I can't think of anyone with whom I'd rather be quarreling, or anyone save Yuna I'd trust as much." She gave his stomach a gentle shove. "Now shoo. I need to get this spell right before we try the Omega Ruins."

Wakka sighed wistfully. "Okay, Lu, but don't stay up too late out here." Shoulders hunched, he turned and headed back towards the loading ramp, cursing and muttering about heathen machina as the gears began to grind, taking him away.

A dark figure detached itself from the shadows of the turret looming over the upper hull and stalked over to the mage's side. She glanced sideways, straightened, took another breath, and let a shower of ice come crashing down on the deck. Ice and snow came pattering down in its wake.

Her companion watched impassively. "Ice forms more slowly than lightning. Try holding it longer before you release?"

"Thanks." She took a few deep breaths and lobbed another icy blast against the hull. "Yes, that's better." Lulu smiled. "Just a few more tries. Rikku's brother will be out soon to scold me for abuse of his father's ship."

"He has a point." He strode over to inspect the metal skin, rubbing the toe of his boot over a dent.

Following him, Lulu reached up, pulled Auron's high collar down, and brushed her lips against his ear. "Your quarters tonight?"

"Fine." His good eye gleamed. "So where am I on this list?"

She laughed, whirled, and threw a sheet of flames that flared up harmlessly where the dour swordsman had been a moment before. "You think I would be foolish enough to put you on the same list with Wakka and Tidus? You, Legendary Hero, are in a class by yourself."