………………………………………

Ulterior Motives

…………………………………………

They were friends again.

Paine hadn't realized that not being on good terms with Baralai would've affected her so much. She had been so angry when he hadn't even tried to speak to her that day they had their falling out that she had resolved to forget they had started to get along so well. But then when he had showed up at her door, it had been a pleasant surprise, though it had annoyed her at first. And she had to admit that it had flattered her that he had been checking her out.

She rolled over onto her side on her bed and saw that Valentine was curled up beside the pink chocobo; he was giving her a lazy look, his yellow-green eyes half-lidded. She took the chocobo and looked at it, wondering what it would've been like had she accepted his advances. But she wouldn't be Paine if she hadn't shot him down right off the bat. But did she want to resist them now? He wasn't even trying to get at her anymore.

She frowned to herself as something occurred to her. Did she have a… a… she couldn't even think it in her head. A crush? No, no, she couldn't have a crush. Crushes were for little kids. She didn't get crushes. She'd had a crush on Buddy, and that had been why they had ended up a couple; she'd been sixteen back then, and with that other guy, she'd felt more curiosity than anything else and that had been last year. Maybe she'd felt a bit of lust, but she didn't want to dwell on him now.

Her thoughts returned to Baralai and the kiss he had planted on her cheek. She smirked to herself and sighed heavily. The last thing she needed right now was a guy to obsess over. Though it had been a boost to her ego when he had been staring at her legs and back, they were just friends, and as his friend Paine decided that it was her job to push Leblanc away from him. Nothing good could come from him being exposed to that type of trash, she thought with an evil grin. And she'd up one on the blonde.

……

During their physics class a few days later, Paine found that she was actually understanding the class. That and the class project they were working on, mixing certain types of liquids to get an explosive reaction wasn't as hard as writing the scientific equations and all that mathematical rot. Baralai grinned from behind his goggles and they looked up as their experiment popped and went up in a cloud of smoke, turning an electric blue. That meant they had done it right.

There was a whoop from Tidus and Rikku as their experiment did the same, only it turned pink. "Was it supposed to turn pink?" Tidus asked Rikku. She shrugged and raised her hand so that the teacher could take a look at their work.

"How do you think you did on the test in math?" Baralai asked Paine as they ignored the other pops coming from several experiments.

Paine shrugged. "I don't know. Hopefully I got a C at least. I studied the night before, but the following morning I only remembered about half of the things I needed to know."

"You'll do good, just wait until we get our test back," he said with conviction.

Paine just nodded and went back to writing the notes on the board she hadn't completed before they had started the experiments. They were notes for the upcoming test, she thought irritably. The teacher passed by every desk to take in the experiment and he gave the two an A for getting everything done correctly and for being the only ones in the class who had accomplished the correct color.

"Okay, I'm going to ask one partner to go to the sink to throw out their lab projects at the sink. Don't worry, they're not dangerous and will cause no harm to the city water supply," said the teacher when some of the more environment friendly students complained.

"I'll take it," Paine said, pulling off her gloves and grabbing the beaker. She'd have to wash it, and water and leather didn't really work well with each other. She walked over to the line of students waiting for the sink and emptied the beaker in the sink when someone bumped into her back forcefully. She dropped the glass beaker and it shattered. She cursed and turned to glare at Leblanc, who had been the one to cause the accident. Paine picked up the glass carefully and wrapped it in a few paper towels, but as she passed Leblanc, the blonde pushed her more forcefully. In order to not drop the glass, her grip tightened and she felt a sting in the center of her palm.

"What the hell is your problem?" Paine spat as she threw the glass into the trash.

"What's going on?" the teacher asked as Paine shoved Leblanc back with her right hand.

"This klutz broke her glass beaker and is blaming it on me!" Leblanc exclaimed.

Paine scowled. "Yeah, and the two times you shoved me had nothing to do with it?" she asked, showing the teacher her bleeding hand.

"My dear girl! You need to go to the nurse's office!" he exclaimed. Baralai came over and pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket, pressing it gently to Paine's hand. "Take your things and take her to the nurse's office," he said, writing out a note and giving it to Baralai.

Baralai nodded and grabbed his book bag and Paine's backpack and gloves before walking out the door with her, but not before they heard the teacher give Leblanc detention for pushing Paine. As they walked down the hall, he carried their things and checked her hand to see if it had stopped bleeding.

Paine watched his face as he used the handkerchief to clean away the bit of blood that had trailed under her hand as she held her palm upright. She hissed in pain when his fingers pushed the cloth into her wound, but said nothing to him. They arrived at the nurse office quickly and the woman 'tutted' quietly as she cleaned the wound and then wrapped her hand tightly in white gauze. "The clean isn't too bad, but if you need to clean the wound and replace the gauze, use this. If you are in more pain, go see a doctor," she said, handing over some sterilized cleaning strips and some gauze.

"Thank you," Paine said, placing the things into her backpack after Baralai opened it. Through it all, he had sat with her, silently wincing every time she did, and he looked all too relieved when it was time to leave. "Want to go back to class?" she asked him, trying to ignore her throbbing hand.

"We aced the project and class is almost over. What's the point?" he asked.

She smirked. "You've been hanging around me too long," she stated.

"That's not necessarily a bad thing," Baralai replied, flashing her a smile. "You know, there's something I've been meaning to ask you. I just don't want you to take it the wrong way," he said as they walked slowly towards the cafeteria.

Paine gave him a suspicious look and nodded. "What is it?"

"I wanted to know if you were free to go to the beach this weekend. My parents own a home by the beach and it's free this weekend. We can leave on Friday night if you'd like."

She mulled it over for a few minutes. "You mean just the two of us?"

He nodded, his hazel eyes looking brighter in the sun. "Yes. Unless that's too uncomfortable for you. And don't start getting the wrong idea. We'll be going as friends," he said with an easy grin.

Paine looked at him in amusement and then smiled. "Okay, we can go Friday night. I promised Marta that I would help out for a few hours after school."

"That's okay. How do you help her out?"

"Sometimes I help her cook, or when it's really busy, I wait on tables," she replied. Baralai nodded and remained silent for a moment. Paine just watched him silently before something occurred to her. "Have you told anyone else about your plans for this weekend?" she asked slowly.

Baralai shook his head. "My parents are really picky about having many people over at once, even more so when they're unsupervised. Another thing, they are really crazy when it comes to behavior and that's what I don't like. I don't want anyone to feel bad over something my father will more than likely criticize. My mother isn't so bad. Like I said, all she'll care about is which of the ladies is my future wife or something. Otherwise, I would've invited everyone to go with us," he said with a heavy sigh.

Paine smirked. His mother sounded like an interesting character. "Rikku will never let us hear the end of it."

"Maybe we can plan something for next weekend; somewhere we can all go and not have to worry about any parents," he said and she nodded. "So, I'll pick you up at around eight on Friday?"

"Yeah," she replied just before the bell rang and they walked into the cafeteria. They were the first in line for their food and as such got first pick of all the food. Baralai grabbed a turkey sandwich with a fruit salad, while Paine went for a pizza slice and a Caesar salad. They were already eating when their friends arrived and sat with them. They had all been worried about Paine's hand, and almost all of them had to restrain her from lunging at Leblanc when the blonde passed by with a smug smirk on her face.

Then, during their art class, Paine told the girl's about Baralai's proposal and they almost screamed in excitement for her. "Calm down," she hissed, glaring at the people who turned to look at them in curiosity. "Don't try to make this a big deal, because it's not. We're going as friends and that's it. I just… need to borrow a swimsuit," she said reluctantly. As Rikku opened her mouth, Paine interrupted quite rudely. "No g-strings, thongs, or anything even remotely sleazy. I'll wear a two piece as long as the bottoms are shorts and the top better be enough to cover me properly."

Rikku pouted. "You're no fun. But I know the perfect bathing suits you can wear."

At Paine's blank look, Yuna explained. "You can't wear the same bathing suit both days. It'll smell."

Lulu just laughed softly at the look on Paine's face. "Remember to wear sunscreen, and don't drink. You don't want to make a fool of yourself even if you're only friends," she whispered.

"I only drink alone or at parties," said Paine with a smirk.

"Oh, and remember to swim right after you eat!" said Rikku.

"What?!" The three girls asked in unison, turning to look at her.

"So that he can run into the water to save you if you get a cramp. You can even fake that you're not breathing so that he can give you mouth to mouth."

Even though it was the stupidest thing Paine had ever heard, she laughed. "I don't think so," she said finally.

"I know. It's a little overboard, but you can't deny that it's a good idea," Rikku said with a grin.

"You know," said Yuna, "just because that's how you got Gippal to notice you doesn't mean it's going to work for anyone else."

"Don't speak to me about that—that one-eyed moron," Rikku said darkly.

The other three girls looked at each other in question. Never, never, had they heard Rikku refer that way about her boyfriend. Which meant that they had had a fight. Rikku and Gippal never fought either, so this was a huge turn of events. "Okay, spill," said Lulu seriously.

Rikku sighed heavily and told them what had happened, not knowing that her boyfriend was telling his friends almost at the same exact moment.

"I thought she was going to say no," Baralai admitted to the guys after telling him about his plans with Paine.

"But she said yes, and that's good, ya?" asked Wakka. All the guys nodded.

"Maybe I can change her mind about dating me while we're over there. Sorry you guys can't go, but my parents will flip out and ruin the entire weekend. They have ways of knowing things like these. I have no idea how, but having more than six people at our house without me telling them would be a bad idea. Besides, they're too picky and they would never let a bunch of teenagers stay alone at a beach house."

"Don't worry about it. If you can actually get Paine to look at you the way you want, we won't feel so left out," said Tidus with a grin.

"But maybe you guys could clear your schedule so that we can go somewhere next weekend with the girls," Baralai said.

"To go where?" asked Gippal.

Baralai shrugged. "Anywhere. You guys pick and we'll go."

"Maybe we can go see a blitz game at Luca," Tidus said, running a hand through his hair as he sat back in his chair.

"What about the girls?" Wakka asked.

Gippal nodded. "They won't like that. It's unromantic," he mimicked bitterly.

The other three stared at him with wide eyes. "No way!" Tidus exclaimed after a moment of examining his friend.

"What?" Baralai asked in alarm.

"He and Rikku had a fight!" said Wakka in a whisper. Gippal scowled and crossed his arms over his chest.

"Why?" asked Tidus incredulously.

"My pop liked her, mum didn't. I wanted Ri to go to dinner at my place again, but she won't do it because my mom made her feel bad last time. We got into an argument because of it. I always thought it would be the other way around because my mom thought she was pretty. But as soon as she found out who her father is, mom flipped out and won't tell me why. Can you believe it? Our first real fight since we got together, and it has to be because of my parents," Gippal said with a heavy sigh.

The other three didn't know what to say to him. Wakka patted his shoulder twice but offered no words. "Lu and I haven't fought in almost a week," he said finally, breaking the silence and sounding incredibly proud.

Tidus shook his head and grinned. "That deserves a medal," he said, and the guys snickered.

"So, do you guys have any advice for me?" Baralai asked him, noting that Gippal still looked down. It was sad, to see a guy so upbeat and positive look so wilted. His eyes darted to the girls across the room and noticed that Rikku was her usual self, all positive and bubbly. She didn't look troubled at all.

"Don't belch in front of her," Tidus said with a snicker. "She's probably the type of girl who isn't grossed out, but still, you're on very thin ice here, and anything that you do that she doesn't like could end up breaking that ice."

Baralai nodded and tried not to laugh at their first piece of advice. "You're in shape, right? No flab? Do you have defined muscles?" Gippal asked.

Baralai laughed. "I'm starting to get a little scared at the questions, but yeah, I like to keep in shape."

"Then wear your shirt off as much as possible. And since it's the beach, you can get away with it and she can't even get mad," the blond replied. "If she stares, you'll know she likes to see you without your shirt off."

"Any advice, Wakka?" Baralai asked the quiet guy next to him. Their advice was very amusing.

He shrugged. "Just don't come on too hard with the whole seduction. You'll make her mad instead of getting her scared. She'll beat the stuffing out of you and you'll miss your chance. Ya?"

"All right guys, then wish me luck," Baralai said with a nervous grin.

……

Rikku bit her lip as she sat on the porch of her home. Though her family wasn't the richest in the neighborhood, her father took good care of her and her brother and they had nice commodities. Cid had always provided for them, even though he knew very little about raising two kids on his own. Her pops liked Gippal, even though he had threatened to castrate him if he ever made her sad. Maybe it was better that she didn't tell pops that she and Gippal had had a little spat. Though she was mad at her boyfriend right now, Rikku couldn't fathom not having him in her life.

She blinked her green eyes and looked over when she heard the sound of footsteps coming towards her. She was about to tell off Brother for not leaving her alone the way she had asked, but she realized that this was not her brother. She looked away from him as he sat down next to her with a heavy sigh. They were quiet for a long, unnerving moment.

"I miss you," he murmured while keeping his distance.

Rikku smiled faintly. "We haven't spoken since this morning."

"It's felt like the hours are truly days. Look… I understand your reluctance to see my family again, but I want my mom to see that we're serious. I want her to realize how much you mean to me," Gippal said softly.

The beads in her hair clinked as she turned to look at him. "You really mean that?" she asked softly.

He nodded and wrapped a hesitant arm around her shoulders, drawing her in towards his chest. Rikku smiled slightly and wrapped her arms around his slim waist. "Of course I do, baby-cakes," he said with a grin.

"But what if time passes and we decide to get married and all that and your mother still doesn't like me?" she asked against his chest.

Gippal shook his head. "Then it won't matter. I love my mom, but she has to respect the girl I love too," he said before pressing a kiss to her forehead.

Rikku was warmed all the way to the tips of her toes at his words. Though they rarely spoke of love, it always made her feel so giddy to hear him say the words before she did. "I love you too," she murmured before pressing her lips gently to his.

He responded to the kiss quickly, easily, his hands moving to her hair and behind her neck. She made a noise in the back of her throat and Gippal would've echoed her, but there was the sound of a throat clearing that forced them apart, breathing a bit uneven. They looked over to see Cid, Rikku's father standing at the back door, arms crossed and a scowl on his face.

"Kid, you know I like you, more than I care to admit, but having you feeling up my daughter in our house is just something I don't want to see. Keep it clean or get the hell out of my house," he said darkly.

Gippal stood and nodded. "Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. I really meant no disrespect," he said quickly.

Rikku giggled and stifled it when Gippal gave her an exasperated look, asking her for help. She stood and nearly skipped over to her father. "Come on pops, you forget that you and mom were my age when you were making Brother, as disgusting as that is. Gippal and I were just making up over a misunderstanding. Don't get all pissy," she said with a disarming smile.

Cid rolled his eyes and turned to go. "I expect you both to be smarter than me, brats. I don't want to be a grandfather just yet," he said before he was gone.

Rikku turned to Gippal and wrapped her arms around his neck, standing on her tip-toes to accomplish it. "Did you hear that? He doesn't want to be a grandfather yet, but he's thought about it," she said with a giggle.

Gippal shook his head. "I don't want kids yet either. First you and I need to grow up a bit more," he said, kissing her lips gently again.

Rikku smiled and nodded. "Sounds good to me," she whispered, closing her eyes and breathed in his scent. Gippal was all hers and she couldn't have asked for a better boyfriend. Especially when he was willing to make the first step in making up. He was a rare breed of man that was almost extinct, she thought with a small snicker.

…………

Paine felt a prickle down the back of her neck which usually meant that she was being watched. She looked up from where she was sitting on a stool by the cash register, reading a magazine. Business at the restaurant had finally dwindled down and Marta had had her handling the cash register after she had been the waitress for about two hours. Her mouth curved into a half-smile when she saw that Baralai was at the door, watching her.

She stood and walked over to give Marta a half-hug, letting her know that she was leaving for the rest of the weekend. "Take care of yourself and don't do anything you shouldn't do," Marta said as she walked them out to Baralai's car.

"Don't worry about that," Paine muttered, not even realizing that he had opened the car door for her. "I'll see you Sunday night, okay?"

Marta nodded and smiled. "Have fun, Paine, dear." She turned to the young man as he closed the door to the car. "Take care of her, you hear? She's like a daughter to me and I expect you to respect her like the gentleman that you are."

"Yes, ma'am," he replied with a smile. "I'll have her back safe and sound," he said before walking around to the driver's side of the luxury car and getting in. "You ready?" he asked Paine.

She nodded and looked at the car silently. "This car yours?"

He shook his head. "My dad has given me something bigger that I rarely used. I prefer smaller cars," he admitted, sitting back against the seat. Though it was a smaller car, it had black leather seats, an impressing array of gadgets that she didn't even know what they were for, and smelled of money. Not literally of course, but damn close. He drove in near silence, asking random questions and listening to music for the next forty minutes it took them to get to the beach house.

Paine wasn't much in a talking mood and only answered the questions Baralai made without asking any of her own. She was a bit tired, she could admit, and was fighting not to nod off at any moment. Baralai pulled up to a house that was at a short walking distance to the shore. It was a two-story glass house. It was stylish on the outside and even included its own pool—though with the beach so close by, Paine wondered why they had bothered to put it in—and had a hot tub as well. She followed Baralai as he keyed in the security code at the pad by the security fence and held the door for her.

"I like this place," Baralai commented. "More even than the mansion. I don't know if it's because I puts me closer to the ocean, but the sounds sooth me when I'm stressed."

"It's nice," she replied as they stepped into the house and she could take in the interior. It was spacious and very scarce with the furniture, thought it gave a sense of peace with whites and dark mahogany. "Really nice."

"Come with me, I'll show you your room," he said as he turned on a few lights and lead the way down a long corridor. The room he showed her was very nice and matched the rest of the décor. A huge bed made of mahogany with white sheets, a vanity next to the closet, and a couch and desk by the sliding door that lead to the back deck and had a grand view of the ocean.

"Is the water cold on this part of the shore?" Paine asked him.

"You want to go swimming now?" Baralai asked her with a smile. She only nodded once. "The water is lukewarm at this time of night, but the weather gets cooler. If you want to swim, you can use the pool. It's warmed."

Paine nodded. "I'll do that then," she said as she placed her bag over the desk. "Will you join me?" she asked as he turned to go.

"I'm kind of hungry, so I will sadly decline and go see what I can order. Would you like anything in particular?" he asked.

She shrugged and shook her head. "Anything you get is fine," she said with a small smile. He smiled back and walked out of the room, shutting the door.

Baralai sighed to himself and wondered what he had been thinking when he had invited her over, so that they could be alone. Alone. He had no idea what to talk to her about now. They'd covered most of their childhood, and their early adolescence. What now? He sighed to himself and walked over to the cabinet where his mother kept menu's from different restaurants. While he grabbed a bottle of water and perused random menu's, he looked up and did a double take.

Baralai cleared his throat and tried not to stare as Paine walked towards the door that lead to the pool room. She was dressed in a two-piece bathing suit that showed off her long torso and legs. Though he had already seen her legs before, his eyes were riveted to them again as she walked towards the deep end of the pool. Then she dived and he finally released a breath he hadn't even been aware he had been holding. Damn, she was hot.

He finally settled for a restaurant and called to order the food. Maybe being alone with her hadn't been such a good idea, he thought once again.

………

Paine took in a deep breath of fresh air and smiled as she took in the beach early in the morning. After having dinner with Baralai out in the terrace, they had watched a few movies in the flatscreen in the sitting room for the rest of the night before going to bed. He had some strange tastes in movies, but she hadn't objected to any of them. Now she stood in a pair of shorts and a sweat shirt, out in the terrace, taking in the air and the sunrise. Sleeping in a strange bed had cut her hours short.

Her mind was in utter peace, no thoughts running through her head at the moment. The sliding door to the far right opened and she looked over, seeing Baralai step out in a muscle shirt and sweats. She smirked when she noticed that his hair was still messy.

"Bed hair can be a real drag," she commented, making him jump and turn to look at her with wide eyes. Then he smiled and ran a hand through his hair until it was almost normal.

He walked over to her and then turned his soft caramel-colored eyes back to the sun rising. "I didn't think you'd be up this early," he commented.

Paine shrugged and took a lung-full of fresh air. "I'm an early riser, unless I've been out partying or I have a hang-over," she said matter-of-factly.

"And this happens often?" he asked in amusement.

She smirked and shook her head. "No. Only because I party with the girls and Rikku can hardly hold her liquor. Yuna doesn't drink, so that leaves me and Lulu. Left to our own devices, we set things on fire and try to shave Wakka's head a few times every time it happens. Wakka has threatened to shave our heads too in revenge if we touch his hair."

Baralai let out a chuckle. "That's very interesting. You're such a party animal. Anyway, would you like some coffee, or something to eat?"

"You're going to cook?" she asked him, red eyes glinting in amusement.

"Actually… I was thinking that maybe you could cook something," he said slowly.

Paine frowned. "I have a tendency to add too much salt to my eggs. I don't think you'll like them that way. I can cook my basics, but maybe it would be better if we went out to eat something?"

Baralai shrugged. "I've watched my dad barbeque. We can stop by the supermarket to buy some things so that we can make our own lunch. How about that?" he asked.

"That sounds great," she said as they walked back into the house to chance.

"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Paine asked as she and Baralai stood before a barbeque grill, trying to figure out how to work out the knobs to get the thing working.

Baralai gave her a look. "I'm not a complete moron, you know. I just… forgot how to get it to the right temperature. Besides, we can't eat outside for the rest of the week. I want normal, homemade food," he replied as he finally saw the grill turn on. "I got it," he said with a grin. "Pass me the steaks, will you please?"

Paine nodded and handed the plate over. There was plain white rice cooking inside and they had bought some type of coleslaw salad at the store. She just hoped they didn't end up blowing up the house just because he wanted "homemade food."

Against herself, she let her eyes wander over his bare back and down to his ass. She raised a brow in interest and cleared her throat when he turned and almost caught her looking. She darted her eyes to the ocean and let out a sigh. She was having fun, she could admit. Baralai was sweet and funny and he made her feel good about herself. When they had gone swimming a few hours after breakfast, he had stared at her when she had been wearing another one of the borrowed bathing suits—which Yuna had insisted hadn't even been worn by them because the weather had been too cold recently.

She had stared when he had taken off his shirt too, but even though he thought she hadn't seen his reaction, she knew that he had seen hers, if only because the faint smirk on his face had been an indication that he had. Damn it. He was cute, she could admit, but the way he acted towards her was… unsettling. He treated her nice and she liked it. Even though he had told her that he would no longer pursue her, Paine felt that he had some type of hidden agenda.

"Excuse me," he said, brushing past her, his fingers lingering on her hip before he moved back into the house.

Paine shivered to herself and watched his retreating back until he was out of sight. Okay, the touching was being a little less subtle and she didn't know whether she should feel annoyed or completely flattered. She stood in the sand just past the stairs that lead to the terrace, her eyes now on the setting sun. The entire day had passed having fun and being comfortable with this guy that she now knew she had a crush on. A big crush on, no matter how childish it sounded.

Well… maybe it was time for her to do something about it.

Baralai stared at her from the kitchen and let his eyes check her out without the fear of getting caught. God, she was a pretty little thing. Dangerous, but he loved that about her. She wasn't very tall, and she was slim, but her attitude made her larger than life, and that was something else he admired of her. Not to mention that she had killer curves that he had risked dismemberment to touch a while ago. She hadn't said a thing or overreacted when his fingers had touched her hip. He had been expecting a fist to his jaw, but nothing had happened. She hadn't even flinched at his touch. Was that a good thing or a bad thing?

He turned off the flame for the rice and walked back out with a bottle of water for her and for himself. He came up behind her and took in the scent of the sea on her skin from where he stood. Her hair was pushed back from her usual style and was still damp from their swim in the water. He closed his eyes for a moment, but when he opened them, his vision was filled with rosy cheeks from the sun and puzzled, red eyes.

"Baralai?" she asked softly.

He managed a small, embarrassed smile. "I brought you some water," he said, trying not to blush at having her catch him like some stalker smelling her hair.

"Really?" she asked haughtily. He swallowed hard and nodded, but when he handed over the bottle, Paine's fingers touched his more than was necessary. He only now noticed how close they really were; their noses were nearly touching.

Just another inch and their lips would meet.

Paine closed her eyes at the gentle brush of his lips on hers, but the kiss never went any deeper than that because there was a throat clearing from behind them, and they broke apart. She blinked rapidly and tried to force some air into her lungs, not even realizing that she had been holding her breath. Stupid, yes, but then again she had been holding her breath in anticipation.

"Crap," Baralai breathed. "Our weekend is officially over," he muttered, eyeing her in disappointment at them having been interrupted.

"Who are they?" Paine asked as she took in the man and the woman at the sliding door. Though just by looking at them, she already knew who they were.

"My parents," Baralai replied darkly.

Hehehe, I know you're going to hate me for taking so long to update and leaving such an evil cliffhanger in its place. But this had to get done. So more Paine-Baralai interaction, and some Rikku/Gippal as well. I was asked by a reader to incorporate more couples into the story. I'm really trying, but I don't much feel an inspiration for Tidu's and Yuna, even though I do like them as a couple and as characters. Lulu and Wakka can be a little more easier, but I rather like Rikku/Gippal just as much as Paine/Baralai. But I'll try. Thanks for the positive reviews from the last chapter and I hope everyone liked this chapter! Have a great weekend!

Byebye

Joey

P.S. Though I know that no one has asked, I'm going to explain anyway. I don't hate Leblanc or anything like that, but she's not particularly my favorite character. She's going to be the antagonist for a few chapters, but then someone else is going to come in, even though that person isn't evil in the game. Sorry for the grammar errors in this chapter, I'll fix them later!