Exotic Tastes
Going Forward
by PrettyGothGirl

All Disclaimers Apply
Summary: Cid has dynastic notions, Brother has exotic tastes and when Rikku gets married, Brother's inability to keep his hands to himself exposes the whole relationship.
Author's Note: This wasn't really meant to be a series. I had some more ideas after the first chapter and then other things came up and I completely forgot what I was going to do with it. So, I'm ending it here. In a way, I'm sorry it took so long to get this out. I have other things that need finishing before I start on a new project and when or if I do write another Brother/Paine series. I'll be sure to think it out much better. Oh, and if the end is cliche, well the beginning was cliche too. :P

The wedding had devolved into a party. Paine wasn't surprised. All things that Al Bhed put their minds to eventually turned into a party of some sort and what better excuse for a party than the celebration of two of their own getting married.

Paine sat on the sidelines and watched with a smile as Anikki swung Rikku about the dance floor. Rikku's head tilted back as she giggled uncontrollably over whatever Anikki was telling her. A movement at her elbow made her glance over just as Nooj cleared his throat. "Nooj." She said, cool and non-committal.

"Paine," He shifted his grip on his cane. He blinked behind his glasses. "Is that a dress?" He blurted.

Paine laughed, uncrossed her legs and stood up. "Yes. It's a gift from Anikki. He insisted I wear a dress to Rikku's wedding."

"Oh."

"I believe he said, 'You must be properly attired or I will not be seen with you! It is an occasion of utmost importance.'" Paine sighed. "And Joie backed him up. She threatened to turn to insults."

"Joie?"

"My sister," Paine looked over in Joie's direction. Joie had discovered, much to her delight, that teenage Al Bhed girls were the same as teenage human girls, boy crazy. They'd gone off to giggle over, compare boys, and most likely to drag information out of Joie about Dachi. Paine had noticed the decidedly appreciative looks Dachi was getting from women and girls. Dachi had responded by losing his shirt and that made the looks downright lustful.

Nooj coughed. "You have a sister."

Paine's eyebrow rose. "I didn't spring out from under a rock. I had parents."

"You just never talk about them."

"We don't get along. Are we going to dance or look silly standing here?"

Nooj held his hand out. "If you don't mind just turning in circles."

"Sounds restful." Paine took his hand.

Nooj put the crook of his cane over his other arm and they moved into the group of dancers. "I don't think I've ever seen Gippal this happy."

"They're in love."

"Is that it?"

"Hopelessly."

"And how do you feel about it?"

Paine frowned. "About what?"

"Well, both Rikku and Yuna are married now."

"True." She shrugged. "It was bound to happen. I mean, Rikku's pregnant and Cid was furious about it. Cid is the little bit of family Yuna has left and after the shouting match between Cid and Rikku," she trailed off.

"They went and got married."

"Rikku's already half way gone because of the baby."

"But that doesn't tell me how you feel."

"Usually Baralai is the worrier, not you."

"I was under the impression you and Baralai weren't getting along. He won't tell me why."

"He wouldn't." The music paused and they stopped. Paine stepped away from Nooj's arms. She opened her mouth to answer.

Anikki interrupted. "All right, all right, that's enough." He mock glared at Nooj and put an arm around Paine's waist. "I have fulfilled my duties for the night and now I want to dance with you."

Paine looked over at him. "Oh, you want. You don't always get what you want."

"I got you in a dress and since it's a social occasion I don't want to order you about."

Nooj snorted. "Order Paine about, this I have to see."

Paine stared at Nooj deadpan. "I doubt it." She crossed her arms. "Besides, my captain you dance with me all the time."

Anikki rolled his eyes. "You do this to torment me."

"Absolutely."

He tugged her away from Nooj. Paine glanced back at Nooj. "Sorry," she mouthed. She settled into Anikki's arms and pressed her body against his. "What were you telling Rikku?"

"About Joie."

"They're two of a kind."

Anikki smirked. "Yep."

Paine thrust up onto her tiptoes and brushed a kiss across his lips. "I'm glad you and Joie are getting along."

"Rikku wasn't the only one who wanted more siblings."

"I've a feeling you're going to be an uncle many times over."

"You too," he murmured and kissed her again. She wrapped her arms around his neck and closed her eyes. He sighed and broke it, "All these romantic going ons make me forget myself."

"You'd kiss me anyways."

Anikki licked his lips and spun her about. "As much as you let me." He pulled her back to him. "And it looks like Pops saw that."

"Hmm, your turn."

"You're all heart."

She smiled. "Just dance with me. Cid isn't going to make a scene tonight of all nights."

"He'll just save it until tomorrow."

Paine twisted in his arms. "So, until then, let's dance."

He laughed in her ear.

--

Nooj sat down at the edge of the flat area the others were dancing in and glared into the moving crowd. His teeth ground together as he watched Paine dance with that- that- idiot of an Al Bhed. She smiled. She leaned into his body. She kissed him and laughed about it wearing a dress that he bought her.

Why him? Why an Al Bhed? And of all the Al Bhed, why this particular one? Nooj's grip on his cane tightened.

Brother let her go to the length of his arms and spun her back in to his body. And she didn't protest, raise a perfectly arched brow and tell him to get his hands off her as Brother cupped her hip.

All of a sudden, Paine had a sister and it looked to him like she had a lover too. Nooj's eyes closed.

"Don't feel bad," Someone said beside him. "Today is a happy day."

His eyes popped open and he stared at the young girl with long ash blonde hair and red eyes the same shade as Paine's. She had her hands on her knees and was leaning over to look at him. "You must be Joie."

Joie nodded and straightened. "That's me. You look upset and I can't help but think it's because of my sister and Anikki."

"Anikki?"

"Yeah, her boyfriend, the guy with the Mohawk, Cid's son, Captain of the Celsius." Joie smiled.

"Boyfriend." Nooj muttered.

"It's new, really new I think, like they just made it official before the wedding new and since it's Rikku's big day they didn't want to overshadow it. Official as in, we're officially seeing each other and no one has the right to tell us differently. Not in any, we're getting married way. They haven't even told Cid." Joie frowned. "You don't like it." Nooj didn't say anything. He didn't have to. Joie just went on without pause. "Baralai doesn't either. Rikku and Gippal are okay with it though, mostly because of Braska and Yuna and Cid's sister. They never say her name. She's just Pops' sister or our Aunt. I think Rikku doesn't want to alienate any more family. Paine and I are good at that, alienating family. I'm sure she doesn't want to alienate you as a friend either. She looked up to you quite a bit."

"I know."

Joie sighed. "Now I'm gonna have to cut in and ask Paine if I can spend the night with some of my new friends. This is difficult, but her and Anikki need some alone time. You can't have bothersome little sister's hanging about all the time. And little sisters outgrow their older brothers eventually."

Nooj frowned. Joie's speech patterns were hard to follow. "Are you talking about you or Rikku?"

Joie grinned. "Why both of course? Now… to pester!"

Nooj had to smile and shake his head as Joie slipped through the dancers and tugged on her Paine's arm. He snorted when Anikki started dancing with both of them, turning the dance into a threesome reel. Joie's mouth was moving rapidly and Paine's eyebrow was rising. Paine looked towards Anikki, who asked a few questions and suddenly there was a squeal and Joie threw her arms about Paine and then Anikki and then took off deeper into the crowd.

Nooj looked away. He couldn't stand to see how closely Anikki held Paine.

--

The Next Morning

Anikki rubbed the back of his neck, ran his fingers through his Mohawk and wiped his palms off on his pants. He took a deep breath. He had to tell his father eventually. It was better he do so now after what had happened last night. He'd known that attending the wedding with Paine was probably a bad idea. Yet, Rikku would have said something if he hadn't and it'd been such a great opportunity to get her into a dress.

He was going to have to do that more often.

He straightened his shoulders, time for another fight with his father. He strode into the main area of the cabin and up the stairs.

Cid sat on a couch, staring at his hands.

"Vydran." Anikki swallowed. His palms were sweaty again.

"Son." Cid looked up.

Anikki couldn't read the expression on his father's face. He started to pace in front of the couch, along the rail. He stared at his feet and sighed. He wasn't even sure where to start. He rubbed the back of his neck again. "About Paine and I-" He paused. "We're seeing each other."

"I sorta figured that." Cid's voice was level.

Anikki bit his lip. "I know you wanted me to make a good Al Bhed match." He waved his arm. "But- but I'm not like that. Al Bhed girls are nice girls. They just aren't the girls for me." He made a wild motion towards his chest. "I'm not wired that way. I know that to you I'm a big disappointment."

"Boy-"

"And maybe Paine and I won't work out." His arms flailed.

"Son-"

"And I might find another girl willing to overlook that I'm Al Bhed."

"Anikki-"

"And my children will be like Yuna. That's just the way it is and I can't change it."

"Anikki!" Cid shouted. Anikki froze and they stared at each other. Cid sighed. "Why don't you sit down, son?" Anikki found the nearest chair and sat. His mind was numb. Cid stroked his chin a moment. "Where is that girl of yours?" He muttered. "Paine! Joie! Get your arses up here. This is a family meetin'."

Anikki stared at his hands and heard Paine's boots clicking methodically up the steps and Joie's quick softer steps. Cid didn't say anything until Paine sat on the arm of Anikki's chair and Joie perched on the edge of the other one.

Cid looked between them all and nodded. He looked at Anikki. "Boy, you've never been a disappointment to me, frustratin' and mystifyin' but never a disappointment. You're my son, ain't nothin' gonna change that. So, don't be a moron and talk like that. And if yer children are like Yuna, they won't be a disappointment either. You've shown me over and over that yer gonna go yer own way no matter what I got to say about it. It's your life and how you live it is your choice." He turned his head and looked at Paine. "And if this young lady is your choice. I don't have the right to say you can't. Ain't no one got that right and don't let them tell you different. It ain't like there aren't family precedent for it." He sighed and scrubbed at his face. "I suppose I should've seen this coming, take more after my sister than me." He glanced sharply at Paine. "I'll tell you what I told Braska. You break my little boy's heart, I'll hurt you and that's a fact."

Paine nodded. "Sounds fair."

Cid snorted. "You do your best to take care of him. He's stubborn and doesn't like other people helpin' him."

She smiled. "I know."

"Good. You know whatcha getting into." He turned his head to Joie. "As for you, young missy, bang their heads together when they need it."

Joie giggled and saluted. "Yes sir, Pops sir."

Cid stood and stretched, bones and muscles crackin'. "I'm getting old." He muttered. "You're gonna do whatcha like anyhow." He sighed and headed down the balcony towards the stairs. "Barkeep, you think this old man could get a cuppa coffee on his way out?"

"Yesh, shir."

Anikki stared after his father. Shock combated with relief. He slumped in the chair and looked up at Paine. He felt a smile stretch across his face. Paine smiled back.

Joie interrupted the silence. "So, can I pilot the ship on take off?"

Paine's head snapped up. "No."

"Please?" Joie made her eyes really wide.

Anikki forced himself from the chair. "If one us of supervises you at all times."

"Anikki, I said no."

Anikki rolled his eyes. "You're her sister, not her mother. And if she wants to fly, she's the same as Rikku when we found the Fahrenheit."

"Rikku didn't pilot the Fahrenheit."

"Detail." Anikki waved it off.

"Not a detail, Anikki."

Anikki wrapped an arm about Paine's waist. "Come on, someone has to stand watch while we're all otherwise occupied."

Joie made a face. "Eww gross."

"And she won't have suitors for a few years." Anikki continued.

"Hey!" Joie crossed her arms. "I'm pretty."

Anikki glanced over his shoulder at her. "You're very pretty." Joie beamed. Anikki continued. "You aren't dating for a few more years."

Joie pouted. "You aren't my father either."

"I'm your brother. I'm worse." Anikki grinned. He looked back at Paine. "So, she might as well start learning."

"Plus, you promised." Joie darted ahead of them and walked backwards into the lift. She glared at Paine.

"I did no such thing. I said maybe."

"And he says I can!" Joie grinned.

"Face it, you've lost this argument." Anikki brushed his fingers along her side.

"I wouldn't if you two would stop double teaming me." Paine crossed her arms. The doors opened.

Joie giggled and spun on her toes. She skipped off ahead. The bridge doors opened in front of her. "Guess what Dachi?" She shouted.

"What Joie-blossom?" Dachi asked.

"I get to fly the ship!"

Paine sighed and Anikki squeezed her waist and let her go.

"Not without me watching." He shouted and trotted off after Joie. Paine shook her head.

"That's a relief." Dachi replied.

"Not nice, Dachi." Joie pouted.

"I'm not a nice man."

--

Cid stared as the red, overly gussied up (in his opinion) ship took off into the air. He sipped his cup of coffee ignoring the way the wind whipped sand about. Hypello could make a damn fine cup of coffee. The Celsius hovered for a few seconds and then moved off to the east and gained altitude. Cid looked down and kicked at the sand. A smoldering fire pit and bits of trash were all that were left to tell the tale of the wedding from the day before.

He sighed and squatted down. The ramp to the other airship opened, unpainted, paint scratched off, metal dull. Rikku walked down the ramp, a hand on her swollen belly.

"Pops."

He looked up. "Your brother seems happy. You think he'll marry her?"

"You're obsessed with grandchildren." She shook her head, beads on her few braids clacking together.

"Don't have to be married to have children." He glanced significantly at her stomach.

Rikku flushed. "I don't know if he'll marry Paine or not. It was a surprise to me to find out that he'd cracked her shell enough to even date her." She bit her lip. "She's hard to get to know."

Cid snorted.

Rikku put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm glad you talked it out with him."

"Goin' off about disappointments and how he is the way he is, like I don't know that."

Rikku squeezed. "Maybe you're both growing up."

"Don't be cheeky with me."

She leaned down and kissed his cheek. "I love you, Pops."

"You fix up that airship nice. Don't over do it like your brother."

"Gippal wants it yellow or purple." She grinned.

Cid groaned. "Oh tarnation." He could see it now, purple with yellow lightning bolts. "Didn't I give any of my children a sense of taste?"

Rikku giggled again. "He's joking. We're going to head off now."

"Be careful."

"Drop by at Djose, 'kay."

"I will."

--

Eyes closed. Paine stood on the end of the deck. Her head tilted back feeling the wind race through her hair. She felt Anikki slip his arms around her waist and his shoulder support her head. She smiled. "I was thinking."

"It's a good place to think."

"A good place to be."

"Oh?"

"An escape from down there." She slid an arm over his. "I think it's the only way I can stand it."

Anikki snorted. "My boisterous personality and fine looks aren't enough."

She opened her eyes and laughed. "If we were on the ground all the time. I'd be committing murder of those who annoyed me once too often because of you, Al Bhed and Yevonite alike."

"Well, I wouldn't want that." He smirked. His eyes sparkled behind his goggles.

"It will never end in this lifetime." She murmured. "Both sides poisoning their children."

"I say, we don't think about it and just live the way we want to. Fuck them all. They say it will never work. We prove them wrong."

"Ignoring it won't make the problem go away."

"No. However, it will give us more energy to focus on other things." He raised and lowered his eyebrows.

She reached up and pulled the goggles off. He didn't need to hide behind them around her. "Campfire songs and dancing?"

"Those too." He angled his head and managed to kiss her. She relaxed further into him.

"Anikki. Paine!" Joie shouted over the intercom. "Sphere waves from the Moonflow!"

Anikki straightened with a sigh. "And she's supposed to be a Black Mage?"

"Timing has nothing to do with black magic."

"I was thinking more the mysterious and aloof qualities." He didn't let her go and turned them towards the door for the lift.

"You're a black mage." Paine pointed out.

"Which means what?"

"Mysterious and aloof does not describe you."

"Will you two hurry up or the Leblanc Syndicate might get it first. Oooh."

"So what does describe me?"

"Eccentric."

"You could've steered her towards something that fit with her bouncy and happy nature for her primary job, like Songtress."

Paine shuddered. "No."

"Dachi won't let me change course!"

"And there is nothing wrong with eccentric."

"I didn't say there was."

"You're mysterious and aloof. And you're a warrior."

"It makes perfect sense."

The doors shut behind them, cutting off the conversation. A gull swept across the deck and hovered a moment at the statue of the gull. Once it realized it wasn't alive it gave a raucous croak and flew off. A moment later, the ship's engines increased their sparkling and the huge red ship left it behind.

THE END

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