Hello, my readers.

ATTENTION PI READERS: Let me apologize for the wait of chapter 6. Along with schoolwork and more, I've also been suffering family issues that take up my time and kill my creativity when I actually do have some time. All in all, I'm not dead, and chapter 6 is WELL under-way. Your wait won't be much longer.

To the readers of this oneshot: I was inspired, and decided to write a quick, unedited oneshot to let PI readers know that I was alive (and to make another contribution to the fandom, of course. :) )

Enjoy! -Ari

It was one of those clear, boring days, with a cloudless sky and moderate temperature that the guardians considered a blessing. Auron personally didn't like this type of weather. In addition to fighting almost every time you moved, ending the day knowing that you had braved cold winds or sweated below the sun's glare and survived was what made the non-fighting journey somewhat enjoyable. If not enjoyable, then challenging. And Auron did like challenges.

Rikku seemed to know this. She was easily entertained and easily entertained him, and gathering firewood for the dusking day was not the most entertaining of jobs. As he and the Al Bhed set off from the 'camp' to find wood that was worthy of a fire, he was almost consciously expecting her to liven the experience up.

She did. On their way back to camp with armfuls of branches, she ran around him and stopped just feet away, turning to him and grinning wildly.

"I betcha I can beat you in an arm wrestling match," she declared, jamming a thumb into her chest. Auron's eyebrow raised significantly. Impossible. "Do you?"

"I do!"

He hated to prove her wrong since she seemed so set on being able to do so, but the sad truth was that he was the strongest guardian in the group. He pointed this out to her as he set the thick branches down. But Rikku just scowled.

"I'll show you!"

Fortunately there was a tree stump nearby (the original tree had probably been knocked down by a rampaging fiend years earlier). Time had worn down the relatively smooth surface, and it served as a good table.

"Left arm," Rikku suggested as they sat. "Believe it or not, I'm better with my left."

Auron freed his left arm and planted his elbow on the table. Seconds later Rikku's tiny fingers slipped through his. He noticed that her skin was unbelievably soft.

"On my mark," she said.

"Ready, set…go!"

Auron pushed softly so he could avoid breaking her arm in half. He was winning by forty-five degrees when, abruptly, a sudden weakness overcame his arm. The numb feeling spread from his forearm to his fingertips, and after just seconds he heard the thud of his arm on their makeshift table. He had lost.

"HAH!" Rikku cried in triumph. She leaped up and did a little victory dance.

Auron looked at his forearm in disbelief, then noticed a bead of blood forming at a tiny point on his skin. He was suddenly less surprised as the realization hit him.

Auron stood up and grabbed both of her arms in seconds, trapping the little thief that he had caught red-handed. In her right hand was the end of the dart that she had used to paralyze his arm. Her eyes widened as his gaze landed accusingly on it.

"That was a clever little trick," Auron said. Rikku looked up at him like a child that had been exposed in the act of stealing a cookie, flailing her arms in an attempt to escape his iron grip. Words spilled out of her mouth, scolding him for being so observant.

Then her tiny fit was over. A wide smile spread across her face.

Auron wasn't expecting what happened next; the thief went on the tips of her toes, leaned forward to extend her chin over his bothersome collar, and kissed him.

In the following mental and physical confusion that washed over, he felt Rikku's wrists slip from his hands. He didn't know why he was lightheaded when her own hands returned to him, this time settling with her body against his chest. Both their lips parted instinctually, mutually.

And then she quickly shoved away from him, her bubbly laughter following her in echoes as she turned and fled through the forest. Auron was left standing in a wave of shock; he had played right into the Al Bhed's hands again.

"That was also a clever little trick," he mumbled to himself when he recovered, returning to the pile to pick up the firewood that they'd both nearly forgotten about. He settled the bundles in his arms and headed after her, in the direction of the camp. "A clever trick indeed."