So, here's the first chapter of my new story, Brontophobia. I was going to make it a oneshot, but I think I'll go by days. This is just the prologue. There's not really Rippal in here, but… sorta. It's more of how they became friends. So if you wanna read a Rippal make out session go read Smile Like You Mean It, or Memory of Lightwabes. But if not, stick right here:D Enjoy!

Brontophobia

Chapter One

Rikku shrieked again as the sky was split by a flash of lightening. She ran at a breakneck speed, praying she wouldn't slip on the mud. The Mi'ihen Highroad hardly had storms this bad, and she had been caught in the middle of it when the storm started pelting down on her. She held her hands above her head to keep from getting too wet. Though she didn't care about getting wet, the one thing she hated most besides thunder was being cold. She finally came to the ruin of a machina city and stood under it, staring out at the raindrops that fell to the earth. There was nothing to do now but sit and wait for it to stop.

After about an hour of sitting there, Rikku was wondering if she should risk her life to get to the Travel Agency. She would die out here anyway; why not go out with a noble act? She was just preparing to make a run through death when Brother's voice blasted into her earpiece.

"Rikku! Where are you?" Rikku sighed and dropped her arms, even though there was a leap of joy sparking through her when she heard a voice she thought she would never find comforting. And yet, it was at a time like this. She put her finger to her earpiece and pushed the button to transmit a message.

"I'm on the Mi'ihen Highroad. By those ruins. Where are you?" she asked, letting the button go. Brother's voice boomed back into her ears. She worried her earpiece would break from his voice.

"The Travel Agency. Come and meet us here," he commanded. As soon as her earpiece beeped to show the transmission over, a long rumble started in the air. Rikku shrunk back into herself. The really loud ones always start soft. Sure enough, the rumble slowly became a loud, vibrating boom that seemed to go on for eternity. The metal above her shook and groaned a bit from the vibration. Rikku gasped and yelled when the thunder made its last CRASH. She frantically put her finger to her earpiece.

"I can't! I'll die, Brother! Come get me. Please?" she whimpered pitifully. There was no answer, and she was afraid her own blood would abandon her to the storm.

"You're pathetic. Nere will come get you," Brother said, his voice crackling. The signal was weak from the distance and rain. Rikku could leap in joy. She wouldn't have to run all the way to the Agency by herself. And even better, Nere was coming to get her! She didn't know how her brother had gotten such a stroke of kindness, or maybe he was clueless as to how a teenagers mind works.

In a few minutes, a small hovercraft pulled up to Rikku's sanctuary.

"Need a lift?" Nere asked, giving Rikku a grin. Ah Nere. Perfect Nere. The one that Rikku had been working with for six months now. He was just so… perfect. As she had already mentioned. She nodded earnestly and nearly leaped onto the hovercraft. She wrapped her arms tightly around Nere's waist and thanked Brother silently for being in a good enough mood to allow her a ride back to the Travel Agency.

Except, things aren't usually like that. Especially not now.

"Rikku! You're such a baby! When're you gonna get over this?" Cid asked, exasperated. Rikku linked her hands behind her back and scuffed her toe on the floor.

"I can't help it, Pops," she mumbled. She pointed to Brother. "It's his fault anyway!"

"If that's all you got to say, then you're off the next assignment. No, in fact, you're off the team," Cid said. Rikku could only gape. Her father was dramatic but this was soap opera worthy!

"But-!"

"Rikku! The next assignment is in the Thunder Plains to calibrate them towers. Since you can't handle it, we're gonna to have to leave you behind. And I don't want you slowin' us down again. Until you can prove to me that you can get over this stupid fear o' yours, you are to stay at Home!" he said, turning away. The conversation was over. Everyone threw uncomfortable glances at her. She looked around, shaking her head a bit. Eventually she sighed and sulked off to one of the wooden chairs. She sat down heavily. She heard chair legs scuffing against the floor.

"Don't look so down. Your dad will get over this. He just didn't want to send out the hovercrafts. He knew that storm was dangerous," Nere said softly to Rikku. She smiled half heartedly.

"Yeah. I'm good at this stuff but… I guess I'm no good in the Thunder Plains," she said. Nere grinned at her.

"Well, don't worry; I'll be sure to tell you if your brother gets electrocuted," Nere said. Rikku laughed lightly. Her spirits were lifted a little bit. She pulled out a hand held keypad and typed a message to Yuna as Nere went back to finish putting away tools. Lately, the only way she could talk to Yuna was through short messages.

Pops booted me cause of a storm. Guess I can visit you now.

She waited a few minutes and Yuna sent a message back.

Aww. Will he let you back on?

Not unless I get over thundaphobia.

Ha! Well, if you were desperate, I'm sure you could just ask Lulu to give you a shock.

Rikku thought. Her eyes alighted as she figured out a plan that she almost hated and loved at the same time.

You're a genius! Gotta go, bye!

Bye?

She leaped up.

"I'm comin back baby, yeah!" she said, a little too loudly. The room went quiet and all eyes were on her. She looked around and grinned nervously. Nere smiled at her like she was one of the most interesting things on the earth. Rikku silently asked her brother, "You wanna go?" He immediately rolled his gaze away to a voluptuous Al Bhed woman next to him, nodding his head at her. She scoffed and walked away. He pointed at her back and mouthed "Call me." Rikku rolled her eyes and ran to her room, stopping short first at Cid's door. "Dad! We gotta go home!" she said, rushing on to her room.

"What? What're you talkin' about, Rikku?" Cid asked. Rikku didn't answer. She jumped on her bed and started contemplating her plan. Death. Hysteria. Happiness. Back on the job. No longer afraid of thunder. 2 to 3. I think we have our winner. At that moment, Cid appeared at Rikku's door. "What in the world are you talkin' about Rik?" Cid asked.

"How to get over my fear, Pops! I could camp out in the Thunder Plains for a week and eventually I'll either be insane or I'll be over this… this…," Rikku fished for the right word. She could never remember what her dad called it.

"Brontophobia?" he offered. Rikku pointed at him.

"That's the one! Anyway, I really wanna be on the team, Pops! Just lemme go into the Thunder Plains and I'll get over this in two shakes. I promise," she said, holding her hand up. Cid ran his hand over the imaginary hair he had and stared at the ground. He thought for a minute, and then looked back up at Rikku.

"Fine. I'll let you go. But you have to promise me two things," Cid said. Rikku nodded and listened closely. "Okay. I want you to go with us for the day you first go out there. If you ever think you can't handle it in this week, I want you to come straight home. Don't try to play hero again Rikku, your mother tried to get rid of one of her fears by forcing it like this and it did not end well. Also, there's gonna be another team out there checking the more technical stuff on the towers and that's gonna take them a good full week. I don't want you getting in their way," Cid finished. Rikku nodded slowly and thought.

"That was three things, Pops," she said with a sly grin. He waved his hand at her. She tossed one of her braids behind her head and changed into pajamas instead of her wet shorts and shirt. Then she lay in bed and starting thinking about how stupid she was for committing herself to this.

She wasn't cut out for something like this. Sure, throw a fiend at her; she'll kick its ass any day. Fiends are predictable. She wasn't equipped to handle something that she couldn't avoid or predict. What was she going to bring? A tent? No, the storm would blow it away, unless she could pitch it up really well. A camper would be a little… much. And that's not camping when she couldn't even hear the storm howling. How would she eat? No doubt it would be a little hard to start a fire in the Thunder Plains. Would she have to eat space food? Live off of a tube for the week? Think about that later. What was she supposed to do? Was she supposed to test herself out there, or did she have to just go about her normal days work. Her normal days work revolves around machina! She started getting jittery. She calmed down when she remembered that the Thunder Plains would be next week. She had one full week to plan it all out. With that, she crawled out of her bed and went back to the shop of the Agency. Nere was still there, to her relief.

"So, I'm going camping," she said with a grin, sitting across from him at the small coffee table. He raised one eyebrow.

"Really? Where?" he asked. Rikku's smile wavered for a second as she uttered the horrid name.

"The Thunder Plains," she stated as fearlessly as she could. This time both his eyebrows went up.

"You sure that's a good idea? A little… extreme?" he asked. Rikku grinned.

"I live for extreme," she said, leaning back lazily in her chair. He grinned and picked up his cup of hot chocolate.

"I forgot," he said lowly before taking a sip of hot chocolate. He then held out the cup to her. "Want some?" he asked. Rikku's heart gave a little leap. What did she say? Yes? No, I'm afraid you have a disease, J-K? Instead of taking the chance and starting to finally flirt with Nere, she said,

"Uh--ye…?" and took the cup, putting it to her lips for a moment and taking a small sip. She then put the cup back down on the table. Nere started laughing. "What?" she asked.

"Uhye!" he said, doing a bad impersonation of her. She started laughing too, in spite of herself.

"Shut up! I didn't want to hurt your feelings and make you think I'm a germaphobe," she stated plainly. He only laughed more at this.

"Too late," he said. She stuck her tongue out at him.

"Meanie."

"Germaphobe." Rikku shook her head and looked away at the shelves of merchandise, biting her bottom lip to try to keep her smile away, and still failing. "So, when are you going on this lovely trip in nature?" he asked.

"Next week. I'm heading out with the team, and then when you guys are done there for the day, I'll stay. Do you know how to pitch a tent?" Rikku asked. Nere nodded. "Well...?" Rikku added dully.

"Yes!" Nere said with a grin.

"Good! Then you are useful for something," Rikku said.

"I'm useful for things other than tents!" he stated. It was Rikku's turn to mimick.

"Rikkuuuuu?! How the hell do I make this thing work? I've been working on it for hooooooours!" she whined over exaggeratingly. Nere laughed, but stopped short when Cid snapped,

"Well!" behind him. Cid pointed a finger at Rikku. "Lil' Lady, you're never gon' get married if you're gonna be havin' a mouth like that!" Rikku stared at her father, astonished. He was really behind if he thought Rikku would still be getting married in a year or two. When he made his departure, Nere turned back to Rikku with a laugh. She could only shake her head.

"I think I'll be sent to a Yevonite convent someday," she said faintly, pressing her fingers to her reddening cheeks.

She and Nere continued conversation for a while longer before she started yawning.

"You can't go to sleep, Rikku! You told me you wanted to watch the sunset," Nere said. She looked confused at him.

"What time is it?" she mumbled. He turned and looked at the clock.

"Four forty-five," he said. Rikku rubbed her eyes.

"Alright, let's go then," she said, standing up.

They sat there, watching the sun slowly dip down into the bay in front of them. Rikku eventually nestled down onto Nere's shoulder. She closed her eyes for only a few minutes. Until she felt Nere start to tickle the tip of her nose. She scrunched her nose up.

"Don't go to sleeeep…," he whispered.

"I won't. I promise," she replied. She stayed awake until the sun had disappeared under the horizon line to go awaken another part of Spira. With that, she closed her eyes against the dusk and fell asleep.

Storms really take it out of you.

She awoke safe in her bed the next day, remembering only a little of how Brother had come outside and insisted on taking Rikku to bed, telling Nere that he would never be in his sisters room, tried to lift Rikku, and failed. And Rikku remembered being gathered effortlessly into Nere's arms and carried to her bed, where he kissed her forehead and said goodnight to her. She hugged her pillow. Oh yeah. But she only remembered a little bit.

Update (7/1): Yeah, oh damn, I just remembered that Home was destroyed... I don't know how to fix it, so I'll just leave it as it is. Just call it a stupid writer moment.