(I don't own ANYTHING!)

Chapter 4: Tea Party

Rikku slowly sat up and looked around the dark room. "Oh great, where am I now?"

"My room," said a cool male voice from behind the confused blonde.

She shifted her swirly green eyes to the right and stopped on a tall male leaning against the wall near the door with his arms crossed. He looked at her with a piercing gaze, his beautiful cerulean eyes somewhat hidden behind his spiky blonde hair.

"H-how did I get here?" Rikku looked around, embarrassed to meet the handsome man's gaze.

"I found you lying in a pool of your own blood. You're lucky to be alive," the man remarked. His gaze was cool, but not menacing, seemingly ignorant to how flustered the Al Bhed was becoming.

"Th-thank you… um… What's your name again?" The blonde girl brought her gaze back to the man in the black outfit standing before her.

"Cloud Strife. And you are?"

"Rikku!" The petite Al Bhed girl jumped up, smiling proudly, then regretted it as the pain from before eagerly shot up to a critical level of hurt.

"Hmm, Rikku… A name I'll remember," he muttered the last bit more to himself than to the girl on the bed. A pounding on the door interrupted his thoughts.

"Tea time," came a man's cheerful voice from behind the door. Cloud rolled his blue eyes and the doorknob was jiggled a little from the other side. Another voice came from behind the door.

"Is he coming out?" It was a girl's voice, couldn't have been much older than Rikku.

Rikku opened her mouth to say something, but Cloud silently ran across the room to her and covered her mouth with his hand to keep her quiet.

He said softly into her ear, "Don't say anything. Trust me, you'll thank me for it later." Rikku blushed, feeling him so close to her and nodded her head in understanding.

There was suddenly a loud thud causing Rikku and Cloud to snap their heads in the direction of the door. The door suddenly fell to the ground and there stood a girl with long dark brown hair with some streaks in the front. She was wearing a purple top hat that was tilted to the side, and a matching poofy dress that was completed with a neon green apron.

"Cloudie-poo! Were you hiding from us?" The young woman ran and tackled Cloud onto the floor. He had an annoyed look on his face and Rikku couldn't help but feel a pang of jealousy as the young woman clung to the young man.

While Rikku was busy staring at Cloud and the girl on the floor, a man with flaring red hair and light green eyes (so light they seemed to glow) was moving closer.

He was wearing a big black leather coat that covered his entire body.

His face was suddenly really close to Rikku's, she turned her head to see this and jumped back a little, surprised to have her eyes with a pair of light green ones.

"Hmmm, Cloud, who would this fine specimen be?" the redheaded man asked happily, looking Rikku up and down, making her feel uncomfortable.

The blonde man was able to pry the overly clingy girl off of him. Once he managed he stood up and said, "Oh, this is Rikku. Rikku, this is Axel—" Cloud pointed to the man with the dark red hair—"and this… is Rinoa." Just saying the woman's name seemed to annoy Cloud.

"Well, it's tea time!" Rinoa grabbed Cloud's hand and started to pull him, but he held back with as much strength as he could.

"No! No tea time today!" Cloud protested. Rinoa had both her feet on the doorway, pulling with all her strength, now using her legs as levers.

"Don't… be… so… stubborn!" She pulled even harder. The blonde man finally lost his balance and was pulled forward into the hallway into the petite girl.

Rikku tried to contain her laughter at the sight of the two sprawled out on the floor, but failed horribly as she fell to the floor, laughing. The brunette sent an icy glare in Rikku's direction, but realized something was missing.

"MY HAT!" She quickly scrambled across the floor to her big purple top hat and put it back on her head.

"I wouldn't be opposed to tea time." Rikku smiled and stood up. She walked over to Cloud and held her hand out to him, offering to help him up. He gratefully took it and Rikku pulled the blonde man up, feeling Rinoa glaring daggers into the back of her head.

The Al Bhed girl quickly walked past the fuming hatter and found her way outside to a huge long table with lots of different chairs, none of which matched. She was about to sit down in a yellow chair with an orange seat, but it was quickly pulled from beneath her. Rikku fell hard onto her butt and looked up.

"This is MY chair." Rinoa glared at her. Rikku just stood and glared right back.

"My apologies," she said through gritted teeth. Cloud didn't see this display as he sat at the end of the table somewhat next to Rinoa.

The small blonde girl started walking away to find another chair, but was tripped by Rinoa's foot and went tumbling into Cloud. She turned a deep red when she realized how close she was to him. Rikku quickly stood up. "S-sorry!"

As Rikku took a seat next to Cloud (in a red chair with a blue seat) and across from the brunette she thought to herself 'This means war!'

"Hey, uh, Rikku. Could you pass me the sugar?" Cloud rubbed the back of his head.

Rikku reached and grabbed the sugar, but found that it wouldn't budge.

"No, I got it." Rikku looked across the table to see Rinoa smiling sickeningly sweetly at Cloud with a firm grip on the other end of the sweet substance.

"No, I have it." Rikku yanked back, pulling the sugar closer to her.

"No, I have it!" As Rinoa pulled on it even harder. Rikku grinned evilly.

"Ok, you have it." Rikku let go of the sugar, sending the pot flying into the air, sugar getting all over Rinoa. Her brown hair now had tons of tiny specks of sugar in it. Rinoa's jaw dropped in disbelief, but was quick to recover as she kicked Rikku in the shin hard under the table.

The al Bhed girl bit her lower lip and leaned forward some and said below her breath in pain 'Son of a shoopuff!'

"Awww! Now my hat has a whole bunch of sugar on it. I want to clean it, but I don't want to take it off." The brunette pouted.

Rikku recovered from the short incident and looked curiously at the girl in the hat. Momentarily forgetting her anger, she asked, "Why not take it off, then? It looks sort of silly."

"WHAT?" Rinoa slammed her hands on the table and stood up. "My hat is NOT silly! There's absolutely nothing silly about my hat! You take that back!"

Both of the girls turned their attention to Cloud who was hiding his mouth with his hand, trying to hide his smile, but they could see his shoulders shaking a little from laughter.

Rinoa had had enough of this. 'I've NEVER been able to make Cloud smile and laugh like that! And now this blonde… TRAMP comes here and does it like it's nothing!" Overcome with jealousy, the brunette's hand "accidentally" slipped and knocked Rikku's tea over into her lap.

The Al Bhed girl's eyes widened and she jumped up. "HOT! HOT! HOT!"

"Maybe you two should go wash off in the bathroom. It's right down the hall," Cloud pointed out, trying to be helpful to the unfortunate blonde girl.

Rikku was gone before he finished his sentence. A few minutes later Rinoa jointed her in the bathroom, sharing the big sink with her, they would both occasionally glare at one another out of the corner of their eyes.

It was Rinoa who first splashed water at Rikku and it was only right for Rikku to do the same. Before anybody knew it Rinoa tackled Rikku to the ground.

"I SAW HIM FIRST!" The brunette yelled on top of the blonde, pulling her hair.

"WELL HE LIKES ME MORE!" Rikku bit Rinoa's arm.

Axel had joined Cloud at the table and they both sat there wide-eyed; the catfight could be heard loud and clear. Cloud slowly took a sip of his tea (eventually, Axel had given him another sugar bowl.)

The redhead let out a sigh "This wouldn't be the first time women fought over me. My good looks are as much a curse as they are a blessing." He took a sip of his tea.

"Uh… shouldn't we do… something?" Cloud looked at the other man, putting his teacup down.

"Nah. It's more fun this way," Axel smiled at him.

The two boys heard something break, causing Cloud's eyes to widen even more. "That's it, I'm going in there." The blue-eyed man put his tea down and stood up, but his friend grabbed his arm.

"Oi, Cloud… if you don't come back… can I have the rest of your tea?"

'Typical Axel,' Cloud thought to himself while he nodded his head.

"Go ahead man, it's all yours." The blonde man cautiously started walking towards the bathroom door and heard his friend yell after him, "You're a braver man than I am, Cloud!"

Cloud just shook his head and chuckled lightly as he slowly and hesitantly opened the door only to find the two girls tangled in each other, pulling each other's hair, biting, scratching, and Yevon knows what else.

The blonde man quickly ran to them and had to literally pry the petite Al Bhed girl off of Rinoa.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's go for a walk, slugger." Cloud had to literally carry Rikku out of there. Rikku just peeked her head over Cloud's shoulder and stuck her tongue out at Rinoa, who was straightening her hat bitterly.

With Yuna, Tidus, and Gippal

The trio found themselves in a huge forest surrounded by trees, except for one area that opened up, letting them look out at the view. There were waterfalls and flowers everywhere.

"I don't think we're in Spira anymore…" Gippal looked around, unsure of where exactly they were. He talked into the walkie-talkie on his coat. "Brother can you hear me? Brother?" Static. "Damn… no response…"

A cat with light purple fur and dark purple stripes started to slowly appear on a branch.

"This is Wonderland," The cat talked to the trio, looking down at them.

"Huh? Who said that?" Yuna turned around quickly and looked up to see the cat lying there lazily on the branch.

"I did," the Chesire cat said and grinned his abnormally huge grin.

"I-it talked!" Tidus looked up at the cat in disbelief, his eyes wide.

"Yes, I talked. I was just as surprised when I saw that you could talk," The feline smirked.

Yuna just shook her head, ignoring how weird this was. "Have you seen a blonde Al Bhed girl that's a little shorter then me with green swirly eyes?"
"Why yes, I did," the cat looked at the brunette girl.

"Will you tell us which way she went?" Gippal looked up at the lazy animal with hope.

"Well it all depends on which way she wanted to go. She could have gone that way—"The cat pointed in a direction—"To go to the castle or she could have gone that way—"He pointed in another direction and started talking faster and faster and more arms started appearing, pointing in different directions. "So you see, it all depends on where she wanted to go," The feline finished, but the trio had already left.

As they walked away Tidus mumbled, "That didn't help at all."
The group suddenly came upon a girl with blonde hair, with ears and a tail that matched the color.

"E-excuse me…" The former summoner gently tapped the girl on the shoulder, causing her to jump and turn around quickly.

"Oh! You scared me… can I uh… help you?" The neko rubbed the back of her head nervously.

"Have you seen a blonde Al Bhed girl a little shorter then me with green swirly eyes?"

"Hmm, nope. I can't say I have, but maybe somebody in my clan has. Follow me," The neko girl started walking, but stopped and turned back around. "Oh, and my name's Aleera." She held out her hand and Yuna politely shook it.

"I'm Yuna, this is Tidus—" She pointed to her boyfriend. "and that's Gippal." She smiled pointed to the Al Bhed mechanic.

Aleera just nodded her head and walked through the woods with the gang close behind her. She got to a tree and started chanting some kind of foreign magic and a door suddenly appeared.

The blonde cat-girl opened the door and walked in with the Yuna, Gippal, and Tidus close behind.

When they got in the tree they saw many people just like the neko. They asked around, but nobody had seen Rikku.

Aleera turned to the gang and said, "Hmm, I believe it shall be dark soon. Yes. You three should stay here for shelter; it's not safe out there when it's dark. I shall be back soon."
Before anybody could say anything else, the young woman left, and the trio heard a piercing whistle ring through the air. Soon, more and more nekos came into the big underground place hidden by the many trees of the forest. It wasn't long before Aleera came back with one other girl. She closed and sealed the door and sat down breathing heavily, probably from running.

She signaled for the trio to come to her and they obediently approached, feeling somewhat out of place.
"Sara here saw your friend out there." Aleera looked up at them, breathing heavily.

"Well then we have to go find her!" Yuna ran for the door, but Sara quickly grabbed her arm.

"Don't, it's dangerous out there. You'll see things that you wish you never did. I don't know if your friend will make it, but you must stay here for the time being until the darkness passes."
"Fine…" The high summoner looked down, defeated. She sat numbly onto the ground and prayed for her cousin.

Back with Rikku

Rikku and Cloud had finally sat down to rest on the side of the cliff, watching the smooth waterfall in front of them.

The blonde man turned his head to gaze at the Al Bhed to the left of him. "You don't… belong here, do you?"

Rikku looked over at him and tilted her head to the side.

"Is it that obvious?" Cloud just chuckled and nodded his head while the petite blonde girl grinned at him, but then she looked down with a solemn look on her face. "I . . . I want to go home . . . I miss all my friends and family. I'm starting to believe that it's hopeless though." Tears welled up in her green swirly eyes.

"Nothing is impossible." Cloud slowly lifted her chin so she was looking at him. Their eyes met and slowly, their faces moved towards each other. Rikku realized what he was doing and blushed a deep red.

Their lips were so close to touching when it suddenly started getting dark all at once. Cloud snapped his head back and quickly stood up, helping Rikku up as well. "Damn, I lost track of time. We have to get out of here… FAST!"

Before either of them knew it, it was pitch black and the same drooling, dripping monsters Rikku encountered before surrounded them. Cloud put her behind him protectively and pulled out his huge sword. One lunged at him but he just sliced it in half like it was nothing.

More and more were coming up. "Rikku, run! I'll stay here and fight them off. Just run back to the house!" Even through the darkness Rikku could see his piercing blue eyes. She stood there hesitating; she didn't want to just leave him there.

"Go!" Cloud yelled again, trying to get her to leave. Rikku, hesitant, turned around and took off running.

The only problem with all of this was that she didn't know where the house was. Rikku slowed down and stopped. Something felt terribly wrong, even more wrong than the night before where she'd been attacked. Almost like something was watching her. Something was, indeed, very wrong.