Haha, I forgot to put the author's note on the first submission. Sorry for the false notification!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: ALL DON'T STEAL MY SUNGLASSES READERS, PLEASE VISIT MY PROFILE FOR AN UPDATE ON THE PROGRESSION OF THE SEQUEL.
Seriously. Go there now. It's important. Don't worry, I'm not cancelling anything. Just go and read the update.
Now back to this oneshot: This is the result of a prompt challenge that I requested on the LiveJournal Aurikku community. The first prompt I recieved was,
...Auron finds Rikku post-Moonflow-crossing instead of Tidus? :D" - azrielsdaughter on LiveJournal.
And from that prompt, this oneshot was born.
After the bout of anxiety aboard the shoopuf, in which all non-swimmers were disgraced by their frustrating lack of aquatic talents, any sensible guardian would have agreed that scouting the path ahead for danger was a sensible option. Thus Auron proceeded alone, reserving this time to gather his thoughts. He expected to find nothing unusual.
However, an unusual thing was exactly what he found.
He had not journeyed far when it came into view: through the trees and dense foliage, he caught a glimpse of something with a unique shape strewn across the dry shore. It stood out against the bright colors in the dirt, and his eye was attracted to it, keeping a close watch on it without ever straying as he rounded a curve in the road. With a clear view, growing clearer as he approached, he realized that the object of his interest was not a thing, but a human. A human girl, unconscious on the beach.
His steps quickened until he was doing something of a cross between a jog and a stride. When he reached her, he knelt at her side and touched her shoulder. She stirred, and a moan of pain escaped her.
"Are you all right?" he asked, leaning to the side for a glimpse of her face. A mask and pair of shaded goggles obscured everything but her cheeks and lips.
"Ugn…" She moved again, this time curling and forcing herself up on her elbows and knees. The motion was so sudden that Auron barely missed a collision with her by jerking himself away. She straightened, and attempted to stand, but her foot slipped on the sand and sent her back to her knees again. This time Auron firmly seized her shoulder, steadying her as best he could. "Whoa…"
"Are you alright?" he asked again, gripping the other shoulder when she tried to hoist herself up once more. She shook her head as if attempting to dispel a cloud surrounding it, and laid an arm across her forehead.
"I got beat up," she said. Her voice was like, or at least as appealing as, a blissful melody. The glee hidden in the potential energy of its sounds captivated Auron for such a thorough moment, that the meaning of her words almost failed to register. As he was moving to ask about the ones who had done this to her, she spoke again. "Two meanies beat me up. I thought I was done for!"
She began to rise, and Auron got to his feet as well, keeping a tight hold on her. "Are you severely injured?" He scanned her, but couldn't see any open wounds or tears in her clothing. "Do you think you can walk?"
"Ugh. Not unless I get this thing off," she replied. Auron ran his eye over her again in search of the aforementioned thing that hindered her mobility. A few seconds passed before he noticed that she had just unstrapped the armor around her shoulders, which fell unattended to the ground. She reached around and searched for something on her back. Auron heard the sound of separating zipper spokes. The "thing" that she was referring to was her wetsuit.
Suddenly confident that she could stand on her own, Auron released her. As she peeled the top half of the garb away from her body and began to shimmy out of the legs, he politely averted his eyes. In spite of himself, however, blood rushed to his…face.
When she was completely free of the second skin, she sighed contentedly and stretched her limbs. Auron focused his thoughts on dead puppies and politics. "What is your name?"
"Rikku!" She extended a friendly hand that invited taking, and her handshake was unexpectedly strong (or perhaps, Auron later thought, simply enthusiastic). "Nice to meet 'cha!"
"And you," he said. Then, he added, "It seems that you've recovered." He made this observation just as she bent to examine a nasty fresh bruise on her leg.
"Those big meanies," she was muttering to herself, "I was only trying to—"
"Sir Auron!" Yuna and the cavalry entered the once-quiet clearing. "There you are."
Tidus rushed forward from Yuna's side and essentially rammed into Auron in order to get in front of Rikku. Recognition lit his face as vividly as real flames might have.
Then it was revealed that Rikku's identity held significance: she was the one who had allegedly aided Tidus when he first came to Spira, providing him with food and a friendly face. When this news was made public, Yuna and Lulu pulled Rikku aside for a private discussion. Wakka, eternally confused, glanced back and forth between groups. The secretive meeting soon adjourned, and its purpose was revealed when Yuna dubbed Auron, once again, the lead decision maker of the party, and asked him for permission to add another member to the journey. Auron's stare turned on the unsuspecting girl, whose eyes flashed. Her eyes…
He approached her again. His suspicions must have shown through some physical alteration, for poor Rikku noticed them and cowered, initiated a staring contest with his shoes, growing stiff.
"Show me your face," he said. She made a small sound, but didn't budge. "Look at me."
"Oh—okay." Rikku lifted her face as instructed, but her eyes were squeezed shut in order to hide the obvious from him, as if she was still hoping to avoid discovery. Auron was wryly amused at the clever dodge.
"Open your eyes," he said. Slowly, reluctantly, she did, and the spiraling pupil drifting in a pool of green revealed itself, as did her race. Auron frowned inwardly at his discontented feelings. "As I thought."
"Uhh…no good?" Rikku shifted her weight to one leg and folded her hands before her, slightly tilting her head with a guilty smile.
Auron was no racist, and had no qualms toward the Al Bhed. However, there was a racist present in the group, and he was one who had previously demonstrated tendencies to turn to thoughtlessness and violence on several occasions. When Rikku's identity was in danger around him, so was her welfare. Auron's next question was, "Are you certain?"
Oblivious to his thought process, she confronted him with a fair smile and nodded an affirmative. "One-hundred percent!"
And it was done. The mysterious girl that he'd found face down in the dirt was now a contributor to the pilgrimage, the newest member of their happy family. They set off toward Guadosalam, with Kimahri at the helm. As Rikku passed Auron on her way to follow, she punched his arm affectionately in what Auron imagined was a sophomoric gesture of thanks. She jogged ahead, and she was full of all the energy that he'd previously pictured her voice to contain.
Regardless of the conflicts that Rikku invited, he thought, she would be an interesting addition to the circle.
It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Reviews are greatly appreciated! Thank you for reading~