Sometimes she doesn't smile. Sometimes she just sits and stares into the distance and thinks about god knows what until your brain explodes while you try to figure her out. And it's weird because she's Rikku and she doesn't think that hard about anything and seeing her just drift away in the middle of a movie or a conversation or anything is really fucking weird because it's like she's not there at all and she's quiet and still and those are two things you would never ever ever associate with her unless there's something horribly, terribly wrong.

And the worst part is that when she comes out of it she's all bouncy and smiley again like she never sat there for thirty goddamn minutes looking like some sort of creepy Rikku-doll with lifeless eyes and making no sound whatsoever.

And I think that Rikku is worse than the one that's constantly destroying my temple. I can deal with destructiveRikku, but the silent, sad Rikku? That one I can't even touch. They're not even the same person, really. And I wonder, which one is real? Or is either of them really real?

Because I haven't known, not for sure, since before The Calm. That was when she changed, when everything changed. When she left Bikanel and went head-to-head with Sin. And I still don't know why, because she can't claim unconditional love for the cousin she never even fucking met. I have cousins I have met that I wouldn't even lend twenty gil much less go on a pilgrimage with.

And I get a little irritated when I think about it because I couldn't even ask her not to go because, you know, who am I? Just a guy with relatively little importance, who worried like hell about her back then and who is still worried like hell about her because I haven't got the slightest clue what's wrong.

But part of me thinks that maybe it's got something to do with me, you know? Because every so often when she thinks I'm not paying attention sometimes she looks at me all funny and I wanna tell her to cut it out because in a way that's even creepier than her doll thing. But I can't quite find the words.

- -

Sometimes he doesn't smile. And it's sad because I know just how gorgeous he is when he's smiling, and it's sadder because when he is smiling, it's never at me. And I know that no matter what happens, that smile will never be a smile just for me and I don't know which is worse, the not smiling or the smiling at some other girl.

And I think, I want him to be happy. Because when you love someone, you want them to be happy, but you want them to be happy with you, and maybe if they're with someone else you still want them to be happy, but you want that other girl to fall off a shoopuf or…or maybe get an awful haircut so he'll dump her.

And you think that you can't take one more minute of seeing him with someone else, happy with someone else. And then you feel awful for begrudging him his happiness when, if you really love him, you should put his happiness over everything.

But you can't help wondering what it would be like if maybe one day he just woke up and realized that – unlike that other girl he's been seeing – you really do have fantastic hair and he wants to get married and have lots and lots of babies blessed with the genetic predisposition to fabulous hair.

And you remember that that's why you left Bikanel in the first place, because even though you lovelovelove him to itty bitty heart-shaped pieces, he's just your friend, and that's all he'll ever want to be, and confessing your love for him will only ruin your friendship and forever doom you to that pathetic unrequited-love category. But at least it can't technically be an unrequited love unless you confess it and get rejected. So I'm stuck holding it in. And it's sad because I'm so close to him…and still so far away.


She's so close, but still so far away, lost in one of those little oblivious episodes of hers. Even if I wave my hand in front of her face, I know she'll stare right through it. It's weird because normally she's so animated and larger than life that I guess when she sits there on the sofa, tucked up into a little ball I remember that really she's just one girl, not very big, not very intimidating. She takes up virtually no space at all, probably five of her could fit on my sofa with no problem.

And I wonder what she's got that could be so absorbing. It seems like all she does lately is hang around Djose, fixing up machines, occasionally heading into Luca during Blitz season. And I'll be damned if she's not the best fucking mechanic I've ever had, but then she is Cid's kid.

She hasn't been around with any of the local boys, and I haven't heard tell of any Luca boys either, so I'm pretty sure she hasn't gotten dumped recently. I'd know if she had – and I'd have had a word or two with the kid that was idiotic enough to let her go. Because really, she's Rikku, and I'd take her in a minute if I thought she'd have me. But then again, she's Rikku, two-time heroine, mechanic extraordinaire, practically Al Bhed royalty. She could do so much better than me.

And what would she want with me, anyway, you know? All I've really got is a moderately successful faction and awesome hair. So it's probably best if I just keep my idiotic thoughts to myself.

But I can't help thinking, if she were my girl, I'd make sure she never had a reason to be sad.

Because she deserves happiness. She deserves someone who'll keep her smiling. Because even if she isn't the fastest chocobo in the herd, she's got so much heart, so much enthusiasm for life, so much everything. And I don't deserve that everything she's got.

But I wonder if maybe I should tell her something, anything that'll keep that blank look out of her eyes because Rikku should be anything but blank. And I've got a lot that I want to tell her, but nothing that'll make her happy, keep things from being weird between us, because the last think I want is blank and awkward.

And, as she comes out of her doll-thing and catches me staring at her, I grapple desperately for one goddamn thing that's not weird or creepy, but the only thing that comes out is:

"You know, you really do have fantastic hair."