Hello! This is my very first fic for FFX-2, and I've decided to go for Paine/Barali because I absolutely love this pairing. There will be mentions of Tidus/Yuna, Rikku/Gippal, and some Wakka/Lulu, but the main pairing is Paine & 'Lai. Next, I want you to know that this is an AU high school fic, I'm aware that there's quite a few out there, but none really focus on Paine and Baralai, so this one will. Don't be afraid to criticize or to comment and also be aware that there may be some OOC for some characters.

Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy X-2, or any of the characters used in this piece of fiction. I am making no money off of them. They are property of Square Enix!


Hanging By A Moment




It was a new year for the students of Spira High School. Many were excited, others were annoyed, some were already planning on how to defy school security to commit acts of vandalism or to skip classes. At the front of the school, a group of girls and a few guys were waiting for one of their friends.

"You know," said one guy, running a hand through his blond hair. "We should just get to homeroom. Did you honestly think that Paine would get to school on time? Even when it's the first day?"

"We made her promise!" exclaimed his friend, a pretty girl with sun-kissed blonde hair, and swirling green eyes. "She always keeps her promises to Yunie!" she exclaimed, waving a hand to the girl who was holding hands with the guy who had just spoken.

"Maybe she couldn't find the right clothes to wear, ya?" asked the tallest of the guys, a note of sarcasm in his voice as he looked at his girlfriend. "She's more like Lu than anyone knows," he said under his breath.

Lulu's eyes narrowed. "Shut up, Wakka," she snapped.

"There she is!" said Yuna, a sigh of relief coming from her. She was most likely the most nurturing of the girls. She worried about her friends, on whether they made it to class, did their homework, and she generally henpecked them.

The girl in question pulled into the parking lot on a mean looking motorcycle painted with red flames that matched her helmet. She placed the bike near a steel pole and secured it with a thick chain she carried around the seat of the vehicle. She then pulled off her helmet and grabbed a hole-filled backpack that was rarely used. She eyed them all suspiciously with wine-colored eyes and swept her silvery hair away from her face and back into the artful style it had been in before getting flattened by her helmet.

"Are we in a committee again?" she asked in a monotone.

The green-eyed girl, Rikku, bounced over to her and clung to her arm. "You were almost late! We thought that you would get kicked out of school on your first day. Why didn't you call us, you big meanie?" she asked with a pout.

Her boyfriend, a tall, blond young man pulled her away from the irritated looking girl before she physically assaulted his girlfriend. "Leave her alone, Cid's girl," he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

"Bite me, Gippal," snapped Rikku. How she loathed that nick-name, and he called her that just to see her angry.

"Not in public, baby," he murmured before kissing her red cheek.

"Come on Paine, let's go see if we have all our classes together," said Yuna, stepping away from her boyfriend, Tidus, and pulling the gray-haired girl along.

"It's too early on in the year for you to be flipping out on me and worrying about what I do or where I go," muttered Paine as they picked up their schedules and found that they had every single class together, due to the fact that Rikku was the daughter of the person in charge of creating the schedules.

"Well, I just want you to graduate with us all," said Yuna as they walked towards their homeroom.

"You should know that school is not something on my priority list right now. I just don't care," Paine replied.

"Well, maybe you should find a reason to care," Rikku put in, sharing her sour candies with them.

Yuna scrunched her face as the sourness hit her tastebuds. "Why are you eating candy so early?" she asked, gagging a little. Rikku shrugged and decided to give her boyfriend a very thorough kiss. Paine made a face. "Maybe you should find yourself a boy to crush on so that you can have a reason to come to school and go to class everyday."

"That's never gonna happen," Paine replied, walking into their classroom. They all sat down near the back of the class and placed their chairs in a little cluster so that no other students could hear what they were talking about. The teacher said nothing and just proceeded to call attendance when the tardy bell rang.

Paine looked at her friends in slight annoyance. Though she loved Yuna and Rikku to death—though she would never tell them that willingly—and they were like sisters to her, they could be quite bothersome. Rikku was always trying to set her up with random boys, and Yuna was always poking her so that she made it to school each day and mostly on time. Boys were stupid. The last one she had dated had been a few years older than her and had been Rikku's brother's friend. Complicated? Well, so had their relationship been.

Buddy had been cool with her, but they were too different and they had had different views on things. He had also been the jealous type and Paine was by no means an ugly girl. Though sometimes she hated it too, she was curvy and guys stared at her the same way they stared at pretty, innocent Yuna, or fun, cute Rikku, or even mysterious, beautiful Lulu. So Buddy had been prone to attacks of hysteria and jealousy when a guy stared at her ass, or down her shirt. The only big difference between her and her friends now was that her two best friends, and other close friend all had boyfriends. Even though Lulu was always mad at Wakka at the beginning of the day, it was obvious she loved him.

Which brought her back to Rikku's current ramblings about finding her a man that would make school more tolerable for her. Paine merely shot her a dark look and walked out of the class without a word. The teacher said nothing, but Paine knew that she would get in trouble if she was caught without a hall pass. She pulled out her phone and opened it, sending Yuna a quick message that told her she would see her at the next class but she couldn't stand Rikku anymore. Yuna replied an affirmative and told her to stay out of sight.

As she rounded the corner, she came face to back with one of the security guards for the campus. She slowed and made as little noise as possible as she walked backwards and away from the man before he turned and saw her. Crap, this was…? He kind of looked like O'aka? He was the worst of them all and usually made up stories of how he found the students, just to get them into more trouble. Paine contemplated on whether she should do something bad to him when she realized she was in front of the girl's bathroom that had an open window she could get out from.

She walked in quietly and wet a bunch of paper towels before creeping back to where O'aka was still standing, trying to look important and smug as he stopped a few girls and asked them for their hall passes. Paine smirked and hauled back before sending the wad of wet paper towels with deadly accuracy at the guards face. He squawked and Paine took off towards the ladies room, where other girls were standing in front of the mirror. Oh, the look on his face had been priceless! She could hear him cursing outside and asking people if they had been the one to do it, or if they had seen where the perpetrator had gone.

Paine waited in a stall when she heard the door open and the girls protested in high pitched voices. That's when she heard someone call O'aka and demand what he was doing, trying to get into the girls restroom. She snickered silently and waited for the girls to leave before making her way to the window and popping it open, glad that no one had noticed that it was loose yet. She jumped out and landed on her feet before taking off at a quick run. She checked her phone for the time and noticed that the bell would ring in a matter of minutes.

As she rounded the corner and walked into the next building, she slammed into someone tall, making her tumble back and onto her bum. She grunted with the impact and cursed, her eyes focusing on the guy who was also on the floor in front of her.

"Crap, sorry about that," he said, standing and offering her a hand. "Are you okay?"

Paine just looked at the offered appendage and stood easily, on her own. "Watch where you're going next time," she snapped before the bell rang and she walked over to the first class of the day.

He frowned to himself and smoothed a hand down his coat before running a hand through his white hair. What a rude girl. It hadn't been his entire fault that they had run into each other. He'd only turned to look behind him for a moment. He then spotted a phone on the ground and picked it up. She must've dropped it. Well, at least it wouldn't be hard to recognize her again. He was sure that there weren't many girls with silvery hair and red eyes; or with so much leather and buckles. The phone began to shake in his hand and he opened it, seeing the arrival of a message.

Should he just invade her privacy completely? She hadn't even offered an apology or asked if he had hurt himself. He shrugged and read the message as he walked. Srry bout buggin u, Dr. P. Frgiv me? Rikku. Dr. P? He snickered and wondered what her real name was as he walked into his first class, which happened to be History of Spira. What a way to begin the morning.


The next time he saw her, she was sitting down with her friends at a table during their twenty minute break between their first class and the second. He had started talking with some guys who had invited him to hang around with them. They were currently waiting in line to buy some type of smoothie and chips from the mini-store on campus.

Gippal grinned and shook his head. "Rikku was flipping out yesterday because I asked her to come meet my parents," he commented.

The other blond, Tidus, raised both eyebrows. "You want her to meet your parents? Are you planning on proposing anytime soon?" he asked sarcastically.

"Well, mum wants to meet her because she saw Ri's picture in my room, says she looks like a sweet girl. Dad doesn't care. He thinks it isn't serious," Gippal said with a shake of his head as they made it to the front of the line.

"Is it serious?" Wakka asked.

"She's the future mother of my kids," said Gippal with a grin. "What about you, Baralai? You got yourself a girl or two?"

Baralai shook his head and for some reason his thoughts went to the girl in the leather. Dr. P. "No. My last girlfriend and I ended because I moved away. We both didn't want the strain of a long distance relationship," he replied.

"Anyone caught your eye yet?" asked Tidus as the girl at the counter handed over him an orange colored smoothie and a carrot cake he claimed was for his girlfriend.

"I ran into this girl in the morning, she was pretty, but rude. I dunno. I kinda can't stop thinking about her," he said with a nervous chuckle.

Wakka slapped him on the back. "Love at first sight, ya? Who is it? Did you get her name?"

Baralai shook his head. "No. She just up and left. She even dropped her phone, but I haven't been able to return it," he replied.

"Well then, that's your chance," Gippal said. "Return it, get her name and maybe she'll reward you with her number."

"I think she'd sooner deck me than talk to me again," said Baralai as he paid for his smoothie and walked with the guys.

"Sounds like Paine," said Tidus.

Baralai was going to ask about who they were talking about when the bell rang.

"Well, at least we have Phys Ed. next, so we can take our smoothie with us," Gippal said as they walked towards the large section where there was a field for track and football, a gym, a pool building, tennis courts, and basketball courts. The guys met up with their girlfriends except for Wakka, whose girlfriend was walking ahead with Dr. P.

Baralai didn't even know why he was calling her that still. It was just funny. Wakka was sulking because his girl was still mad at him about something he had said regarding her clothes. So they walked in pleasant silence as Gippal sweet talked his girlfriend, and kissed her as they walked, almost running into Tidus and his significant other.

They all stood around waiting for the teacher for a few minutes. Then a man walked out and asked for those who were interested in certain sports to sign up on the lists he had. His new friends complained about the school not having Blitzball, so they decided to just stick with swimming, so that they could keep in shape for their side-hobby and to keep an eye on their girls, who were signing up for that class as well.

"You swim?" Tidus asked as they were dismissed and they walked towards the bleachers.

Baralai shook his head. "Nah, call me a geek, but I rather read. I do take a class of sword fighting and fencing, but that's it. I'm not much of a sports person," he replied as he nearly ran into that girl again.

Paine looked up at him and frowned when she recognized him. "You! I thought I told you to watch where you were going."

"Lighten up, Dr. P," said Gippal. "This is our new pall, Baralai. He's gonna hang with us now," he said.

She crossed her arms over her chest and gave him a bored look. "Whatever," she grumbled as she moved towards Yuna and Lulu.

"Hey," Baralai called.

"What?" she asked dryly.

"You dropped your phone when we ran into each other earlier," he said, handing it over. Tidus, Gippal, and Wakka shared a look of shock. Paine was the girl?

Paine blinked and looked at him strangely. She had thought that she had lost it when she had jumped out the window, but then she remembered she'd had it in her hand when she had ran into him. "Thanks," she said reluctantly.

"You're welcome," he replied, not having the courage to ask her her name in front of all his new friends, who were staring at him with interest.

"Can we get a move on?" Paine asked. They all walked to the bleachers and sat down at the foot of them. Wakka finally made up with Lulu and they were sitting together, holding hands.

Baralai smiled to himself. Her name was Paine, and she defied everything he had ever looked for in a girl. She was rude, sarcastic, painfully straightforward, and she hated cheerleaders and "pretty girls." She got along with the girls in their group splendidly, even though Rikku riled her nerves and Yuna advised her to not skip school anymore.

She was trouble, and he had found this all out in a matter of an hour and-a-half. She was not what his parents would want for him to take home. But his attention was caught, and he couldn't help himself. He looked up and noticed that the girls were standing and turning towards a blonde and her friends.

"What have we here? It's the freak brigade," she cackled, and so did her friends.

"Get lost, Leblanc," Paine snarled, and her three friends had to hold her back. "Or you'll meet the end of my fist again."

"I don't think so, loves. I'll be ready for you and I'll give as good as I get. Why don't you go back to the psych hospital, freak?" she sneered before walking away with her friends.

"Bitch," Paine called as Lulu pulled her back to sit down. "She's gonna get me on a bad day, and I won't be held responsible for my actions," she spat.

"Today isn't a bad day?" Baralai asked Tidus.

He shook his head and smirked. "When it's a bad day, you'll see. Today is a pretty good day for her." He and Baralai snickered quietly.

"Don't let her get to you," Yuna said with an angry sigh. "She does it because she knows your temper flares up easily. Just ignore her and she'll stop."

"We'll meet you guys at the table," Rikku said as they began to walk off. "Painey needs to cool off a bit," she said before kissing her boyfriend and walking off with her friends.

The guys turned to him. "Paine?" Tidus asked.

Baralai shrugged in embarrassment. "She's pretty," he said lamely.

"Yeah, but she's deadly too. Deadly trumps pretty," Gippal put in. "The last boyfriend she had had a rough time getting her to act like a girlfriend. He was just as headstrong as her, but too much stubbornness was not a good thing. She broke up with him after giving him a black eye because he accused her of cheating."

"Did she cheat?" Baralai asked as they began to walk to the lunch area.

Wakka shook his head. "Nah. She's crazy and stubborn, but she's honest. She doesn't cheat and she doesn't bother with lies. Buddy's been trying to get back with her ever since, but she won't have him, ya."

Baralai nodded. "So she's a hard type to please. Why is she like that? Do any of you know?"

Tidus nodded. "I've known her since we were kids. Her parents weren't together because her dad left her and her mom when she was ten. Her mom died when she was fifteen and she's been alone ever since. Lives alone, though we don't know where. I think only the girls know, but they guard it like a secret that will end the world if it gets out."

Baralai frowned. "So you guys think that I don't have a chance?"

They all shrugged. "She's TNT, man," said Gippal. "You need to tread carefully with her or she will blow up in your face. But I guess that if you really try, you can get under her skin. Dunno if she's interested though," he put in.

They walked into the lunch area just in time to see Paine haul back and punch the girl who had talked down to them at the bleachers. Then the other girl returned the punch and all hell broke loose. The security man was on them quickly, holding them away from each other, and then dragging them both off towards the dean's office.

Yuna, Rikku, and Lulu walked over to their table and looked angry. "What happened?" Tidus asked.

Yuna huffed. "Leblanc called her all variations of whore and told Paine that while she and Buddy were going out, he was sleeping with her. I don't think that's true. Buddy may have been overly jealous, but he wouldn't do that to Paine."

"She'll probably get suspended again," Lulu said darkly.

"And on the first day of school!" Rikku complained. "But Leblanc was asking for it. She's such a…… such a…"

"Bitch?" Lulu asked with a smirk. Rikku had never been comfortable with swearing unless she was angry.

"Yeah," Rikku replied with a pout.

Gippal gave Baralai a pointed look. "You see? Now it's a bad day."

Baralai nodded and let out a sigh. It would be wise of him to just forget about his crush and move on to someone who wasn't so high maintenance.


Paine sighed in irritation. She was beyond pissed and didn't feel like talking to her friends much. Yuna and Rikku had called and left messages, but she hadn't answered any of them. She had been suspended for the rest of the day because of Leblanc and would have to serve detention for a week afterwards. The dean had let her off "easy" because they were barely starting the school year, but he said that the next time she was sent to his office, she would be on probation.

She'd always suspected something had been off about Buddy those last few weeks they had been together, but she never would've thought he would cheat. Then again, she was very reluctant to believe anything Leblanc said, without proof. It was stupid to get angry about something that happened a while ago. She and Buddy were through and nothing he said would make her take him back.

Paine produced a cigarette from a secret place in her maze of leather and buckles and found a lighter in her backpack. Smoking sometimes relaxed her, so she'd do it now and then see if her mood was better enough to tell Yuna, Rikku, and Lulu about what had happened.

She was taking a long drag from behind the tree by the parking lot where her bike was, when someone cleared a throat and she looked over. Her eyes rolled when she was met by the hazel eyes of the new addition of their little group. "What?" she asked, not really in the mood to deal with him right now.

Baralai gave her a disapproving look. "I know I don't know you much, but you shouldn't be smoking," he said, eyeing the cancer stick in her hand.

Paine shrugged. "What, are you my father now?" she asked snidely.

"No," he replied patiently.

"Then why do you care?"

Baralai shrugged one shoulder and gave her a small smile. "I don't. But it's a proven fact that smoking causes lung cancer and emphysema. I don't suppose you want to become another statistic," he pointed out before turning and walking away. "And don't get into so much trouble," he called. "It makes it all that much harder to get to know you."

Paine watched him go with a scowl on her face, wondering what the hell he had meant by those last words. She had to admit that he was cute. He was about a half-a-foot taller than her, with white hair, hazel eyes, and a naturally bronzed complexion. There was also something about him that irked her. Maybe it was that know-it-all look he had when looking at his surroundings, but she didn't care. As long as he stayed out of her way, she was fine.

As she stood straight and walked towards her bike, she dropped the half-smoked cigarette and stepped on it. He had a point though, she didn't want to be a statistic.

How was that for an intro? Did I keep characters in character? I know it's a bit short, but since I usually write more, it takes me longer to update. Maybe this way I can updater quicker. Well, I have high expectations for this fic and I hope that everyone enjoyed it because I'm enjoying writing it. I apologize if there are typos or grammar errors and I promise to fix them as soon as I can. I also threw in a bit anti-smoking preaching in there, but no offense to those of you who smoke. Everyone makes their own decision.

Anyway, thanks for reading and go ahead and let me know what you thought!