A/N: hey guys. i know, i know, stop looking at me like that. I'm well aware that i have like 18 other stories to update and/or finish. But you know my policy. I'm not going to write until i'm sure that it's good enough for you guys to read. But I promise I will try my best. In the meantime...
Disclaimer: Not mine.
It never stopped amazing Rikku that she could walk out to the beach and not have to worry about an attack from Sin. She understood the terror of the monster more than most after having a large part in defeating it. Some of the youngest kids on the beach were born in a world without Sin and didn't really understand what the world was like before hand. They were told stories of how Lady Yuna and her guardians defeated Sin years ago, and that was good enough for them.
But Rikku remembered. She sighed in relief everyday. Plus, Sin became her favorite crisis comparison point. When Yuna was losing her cool at having a bad hair day, Rikku would say "You might have bad hair, but at least you don't have to worry about Sin", and then the problem would become less significant. For instance, right now she was saying to herself, "Your dad might be making you get married, but at least Sin isn't attacking". Only, it wasn't working so well this time.
Rikku sighed and dropped her head into her arms. She was curled up on the sand, looking out over the Besaid Sea. She had taken another vacation to Besaid after her father started with his marriage talk again. It was Al-Bhed culture for the leader's daughter to be married at twenty-one and unfortunately for Rikku, her birthday was tomorrow. She had no desire to get married at all and was trying to think of a way out of her fate.
But then again, why not? Yuna and Tidus were married. Lulu and Wakka were married. Heck, even Kimahri was married. The only difference was that all the afore mentioned couples were in love. Rikku hadn't even met her supposed future husband. She had fallen in love six years ago and had never looked back.
Some might call her crazy for falling in love with a much older man. Especially when that man was a former Yevon monk, a closet fun hater, and dead ten years. Rikku didn't care. She might have been young and naive, but she knew the difference from a crush and heart stopping love at first site. Auron was the one for her period. She knew it in her heart and never questioned it. Especially not when he and Tidus came back from the Farplane and he was back to his twenty-five year old sexy self. Not that he wasn't sexy older, but you get the point. But Rikku was still barely sixteen at the time and he was much older still.
She never even questioned her love when he married a sweet natured healer from Djose. He had been back a year when they met and married six months later. His life had been boring ever since, in Rikku's opinion. While she lived in Home arrest, he lived his life the same every day. He woke up early, trained for a few hours, went to work, came home, trained, went to sleep. His wife was nice enough, and Rikku tried not to dislike her, but it couldn't be helped. Rikku was pretty sure the only thing that helped her hold it together was the fact the his wife had never been pregnant. Rikku had a feeling if Mar's belly swelled with Auron's baby, she had to admit that there was never going to be a chance. And it wasn't like Rikku set out to sabotage them, she hardly saw them anymore. She just wished things had turned out differently.
Come to think of it, she hadn't actually seen Auron in almost three years. Her father had her on a tight lease at Home. He only wanted her there to help with the constant rebuilding and constant political banter between all the parties. Auron choose to live his life away from, well, people. Rikku never visited Besaid when he did, so she just had to remember her love from afar it seemed.
But currently, she still had to figure out how to get out of this marriage thing. She ran over the possibilities in her head and there was only one option, disappearing. She jumped up and brushed the sand off her shorts and nodded to herself, turning on her heal to do the brave thing: leave a note.
Listen, I need to leave for a while. Get my head together, you know? I'm not ready to get married and I know if my father can find me, it's gonna happen. I'm sorry to put you in this position, but let my dad know when he asks, k? Don't worry about me. I'm going somewhere safe and I'll be careful. I'll be in touch soon.
Yuna looked at the note in her hand and reread it a few times. Then she sighed and walked over to her spherecomm and called everyone she trusted to keep an eye out for her cousin.
Auron shook his head after listening to Yuna's message. Rikku had disappeared from Besaid yesterday night and was no where to be found. He smirked at the girls solution to her problems and set out to find her. He stepped outside into the cool afternoon day and thought about where Rikku might hide. Auron thought about it and remembered a night on the pilgrimage that might be useful. It was right after the group had fled Bevelle and they took refuge in the forest.
"Auron? Why are hiding here? Bevelle is right next door!" Rikku had said to him, staring up at him in confusion.
"Where do you hide Rikku?" he had asked her.
"Um, in the last place they would think I'd be?" she tried.
"Exactly. The enemy will look in the last place you would ever be. In this case, Bevelle. We will hide right next to Bevelle so we can get a good idea where they will go next and take our next step from there."
"Ingenious" she whispered, looking around with shifty eyes.
Auron smiled at the memory and knew just where to look for her.
Rikku shivered under the cold air in Macalania Woods and regretted not bringing more things with her. To be fair, she was in a rush, but a coat might have helped. Sighing to herself, she walked up the thick tree branches in search of a higher vantage point. She knew her father would look for her in the Thunder Plains because it was the last place she would hide, therefore the place that made sense. But she was one ahead of her father thanks to a certain legendary guardian.
"Rikku" came a deep voice behind her. She jumped up and spun around, barely catching the branch in front of her in time. She looked across the wide branch and saw him standing there. She blinked a few times and tried to speak, but words failed her. Auron was staring at her calmly, looking her over for any obvious injuries. She blushed under his intense gaze and finally stood upright and looked at him. He looked more than good. He was, she did some quick math, thirty-one now, still ten years her senior. This time around, Auron looked stronger. He kept up his training everyday, always the vigilant warrior. His body was not a victim to the separation of his soul and life poured out of his masculine frame. His hair was still a deep brown, no sign of grey at all. She looked over his scar that had mostly faded and then into his eyes.
"Oh, hey Auron" she said cheerily.
"Don't 'hey Auron' me" he said. She had given him a little scare when she almost fell. He stopped looking for injuries and found himself looking at her. She stood in front of him, smiling sheepishly and leaning to one side, classic Rikku stance. His eyes trailed over her body. He hadn't seen her in almost three years and was amazed at what the time had done with her. It was safe to say that Rikku was no longer a child. She was all woman now. He glanced over her long, fit legs and noticed the shorts had been replaced with a skirt. His eyes lingered on her flat, tan tummy and full breasts under her tank top. Finally his eyes settled on her face and he was certain it was a different person looking back at him. Sure, Rikku had always been pretty, but now all grown up, she was nothing short of stunning. Auron looked into her deep green eyes and saw a pink blush spread over her nose and cheeks and he finally realized he was staring.
"So what brings you to these parts?" she asked.
"Yuna has sent out a search party for you" he said simply.
"She did what?!" Rikku cried. "Damn it Yuna!" Rikku sighed and walked past Auron. "You never found me."
Auron grabbed her arm and turned around, finding himself very close to her. He looked down into her eyes and then let her go. "Why are you running Rikku?" he asked softly.
Rikku could never resist his softer tones. Instead of running like she should have, she looked up at him and wanted him to understand. "I can't get married Auron. I'm not going to do it and leaving is my only choice."
"Where are you going to go?" he asked, still speaking in low tones.
"I don't know yet. I figure I'll find out when I get there." she shrugged. She hadn't really thought this through completely, but it was better than the alternative. Auron sensed her doubt and put a hand on her shoulder.
"Until you know, we can't have you running around Spira hiding from Cid. You'll come home with me and I'll let Yuna know you're safe." he offered. Her head shot up and she looked in his eyes, not sure how to react. Staying with him and his wife could be problematic for her heart.
"You won't turn me in?" she asked suspiciously.
He chuckled lightly. "Why would I turn you in to Cid?"
"Good point" she nodded. Auron never liked her father too much. She sighed and nodded her agreement and started following him down the path. She didn't know how this was going to end up, but she didn't see another option right now. They got to the end of the path and Auron turned left and she turned right.
"Hey, where are you going?" she asked him.
"Home" Auron told her.
"But I thought you lived in Djose" she said, confused.
"No, I live in Macalania" Auron said, motioning her to follow him. She jogged up to his side and looked up at him.
"When did you move there?" she asked. Macalania was a new city that had emerged after the defeat of Sin, obviously named for the lake it sat near.
"Two years ago" he answered. He liked it in Macalania. It wasn't too small or too big and everyone was pretty easy going. It served as a large resting city for travelers and Auron enjoyed the access he had to information.
"Well, you didn't have far to search for me did you?" Rikku smiled, leaning in to look up at his face.
"It was why I was convinced to come" he told her. She gasped at the insult and then laughed falling into step next to him. Auron glanced over at her and then handed her his coat.
"Here, you'll need this" he told her, placing it on her shoulders. Rikku took it and groaned inwardly. The coat smelled just like him. It was warm and wonderfully his and her heart stupidly melted a little more.
They entered a clearing and Rikku saw the city ahead. It was more like a very large village, full of shops and houses and all kinds of things. They passed a group of men chopping up fish on long wooden tables. The men hollered at Auron and he nodded at them. A few looked Rikku over appreciatively and she ran up to Auron, unconsciously taking his hand. By the time she realized it, she also realized that he had not dropped it yet. They passed a group of women and kids carrying baskets of fruit and bread and they all called to Auron. Rikku shook her head at the thought of a sociable Auron and couldn't quite believe it.
"Don't say it" he whispered to her.
"What?" she asked him. He led her to a row of houses and they walked together.
"I know what you were thinking" he said smiling. Rikku grinned and looked ahead at all the cold looking houses. She shivered to herself. Of course Auron would choose to live in a frozen city. She made a note to find some winter clothes tomorrow.
He stopped at the last house and opened the door and she walked inside. The first thing she noticed was the warmth that hit her. A roaring fire kept the place toasty and she sighed, kneeling down to the fireplace and stretched out her arms. She heard Auron throw some things on the couch and she listened to his movements. After a second he left the room and Rikku looked around. The place was very simple, but very warm, very Auron. She got up and was warm enough now that she could take off his coat. Rikku walked in the direction Auron had went and found a kitchen and Auron making tea.
"Nice place" she said.
"Thank you" he said, pouring hot water in to mugs. "I build most of the house with a few neighbors and then some of their houses."
"Everyone here seems really nice" Rikku commented. Auron nodded and handed her an assortment of teas to choose from. "So why did you move here Auron? Why not move to Besaid?"
"Well, Mar never wanted to move from Djose and after she left I thought about it, and I thought I might get bored in Besaid. There's always something to do here." he answered.
"That makes sense" Rikku nodded, then froze. Wait, what? After Mar left? "Um, Auron did you say after Mar left?"
"Yes" he answered, drinking his tea. "Why?"
"Well, I didn't know you two weren't together anymore." Rikku said. Her heart was flipping in her chest. "Can I ask what happened?"
He lifted an amused eyebrow at her. "Rikku asking for permission to be nosy? You have changed."
"Shut up" she said, kicking him lightly under the table.
"Yes, well she got an offer to be the Chief Healer in Bevelle and she wanted me to move there with her. I told her that I couldn't move to Bevelle. I could never live there again and she decided to go with out me."
Rikku was fuming inside. Who was dumb enough to leave Auron? "I understand. Like I could never live in Guadosalam."
"Exactly" he said. "She didn't understand my reason. I offered to stay close by but she didn't want that. I'm not sure, but I have a feeling a certain person in Bevelle might have helped her make her decision."
Rikku set her cup down forcefully. "She was cheating on you?!" she spat out.
Auron lifted an eyebrow slightly at her reaction, but didn't comment. "I don't know" he answered honestly.
"What a bitch!" Rikku said, folding her arms and shaking her head. Why would anyone cheat on Auron? It was unfathomable to her. Rikku jumped up and started looking through his cabinets and he looked at her strangely.
"What are you doing?" he asked her, amused.
"Looking for something to cook" she explained. "I'm hungry."
"I'm not much of a cook so there is little here" he told her. Rikku pulled out various things and set them on the table and looked them over.
"So what do you eat?" she asked as she tossed things around.
"Fish, the food at the inn" he answered. Rikku just paused and looked at him and then sighed. "I'll be right back" she said. Before he could answer, she was out the door. Auron smiled. He had missed her.
Thirty minutes later, Rikku had the kitchen full of delicious smells. Auron returned from his shower she had sent him of too and almost drooled as he walked in the kitchen. Not just from the food, but from the sight of Rikku cooking with her hair tied up off her neck. She moved around swiftly and steadily and he admired her grace. Grace that had been lacking years ago.
"I didn't know you could cook" he said, sitting at the table while she moved food around him.
"I could always cook" she said, sitting across from him and handing him a fork. "You guys never trusted me to."
"We had good reason" he said. He took a bit of his chicken and almost died. "Rikku, this is amazing."
"Thank you" she said, suddenly shy in his presence. She found that at times, he made her nervous and other times, he was just the same Auron she could talk to years ago. "It's the least I can do, you letting me stay here and all."
"You can stay forever if you keep making this," he commented, unaware of how he had made her heart leap. Rikku smiled to herself and wondered what might happen between them while she stayed here. It could be nothing, but Rikku hoped that she could change that.
A/N: part two up soon