A/N: Hey peoples! Okay, I'm sorry for not posting this sooner, but on Thursday, it was time for bed, on Friday, I wasn't feeling all that great and went to bed REALLY early, and on Saturday and Sunday, I didn't feel like typing anything (I'm so lazy XD)! I actually had to force myself to type this out today lol.

Well, it was a LOT of work, but I rewrote the ENTIRE first chapter in one sitting. Took me a couple of hours too... x.x

By the way, this is the most I've EVER written for a single chapter... almost 3,000 words... O_o

Well, I'll let you guys read now. So now please read, enjoy, and review. Reviews not only tell me what my readers are thinking, but they also encourage me to update sooner. Like I said, this took me HOURS to finish; a review only takes one to a few minutes, so any reviews would be greatly appreciated. ^^

P.S.: I hope I did a good job, Yukibara! ^^"


"Hello there. What's your name?"

"Rikku."

The girl's—Rikku's—voice left an impression on Tidus; everything about her did.

And it all started in little more than a mere instant…

xXx

"Rikku…" Tidus sighed, staring at the ceiling and resting on the cot in Wakka's hut. He couldn't stop thinking of the energetic Al Bhed girl he had been torn away from not too long ago by some fearsome leviathan. "Sin"… I think that's what they called it… But the beast's name was just a slight deviation and he quickly continued to follow his initial mental path. Now Rikku was pretty; no doubt about it. So were all the girls in Zanarkand. If the way they look after putting on globs and globs of that crap they call makeup on their faces is considered "pretty", then yeah—they were pretty. Tidus thought bitterly. Rikku, on the other hand, was naturally pretty. No makeup, no dolling up; she looked pretty just the way she was—without gunk on her face.

Then Tidus closed his eyes and smirked, thinking of her mesmerizing green eyes, how bright they shined when she smiled and how they misted over when she was feeling sad or upset. Her melodious laugh reminded him of a nightingale's song. Too bad the only nightingale I've ever heard was a recording from a sphere. He lamented for a moment; Zanarkand was so modern and high-tech that no bird would want to live within fifteen miles of the place. Only seconds after that, he smiled again; Rikku was the beautiful nightingale he hoped he could eventually call his own.

He couldn't even begin to name all of the things he found attractive about her. Heck, he couldn't even put a name to most of those things! He just…. found everything about her appealing. He could already feel some small part of his heart already loving her. It hadn't spread quite yet, but he could feel the beginnings of it deep within him. He closed his eyes and memories of Rikku immediately flooded his mind and senses. He could see her, he could hear her… he could practically taste her faint sunflower scent… But he never got to feel her skin, though from the way her face looked it was probably very soft. Despite that, the memories were more vivid than others he's had… and they were the best he's had in a very long time…

I want to get to know you, Rikku; We only spent a few hours together but I'm constantly thinking about you! I'm going to look for you and I'm going to find you… Someday soon, I hope… He nodded slightly to himself upon making that silent vow.

The memories began to fade along with his vision and the last thing he saw before drifting into a silent slumber was a mental snapshot of Rikku's bright smile.

Then he dreamed of her; the only girl who had ever managed to remain unaffected by his charms, where others were instantaneously enraptured with him…

xXx

Only minutes later, two sets of footsteps sounded within Wakka's small abode; one set sounded like an angry stampede of shoopufs, the other like a frightened chocobo.

"Aren't you going to do anything? You are her guardian, Sir Wakka!" The furious voice was new, unfamiliar.

"With all due respect, I can't. There are already two guardians in there." Wakka argued to the Yevonite priest—the new, and clearly angry, man in the hut—as quietly as he could without hiding the emotion within his voice; he didn't want to wake Tidus—the poor man must have been exposed to quite a bit of Sin's toxin, after all—but he also wanted to make sure the devout clergyman understood him.

The priest shook his head in frustration and, trying to reason with Wakka, replied, "But it's been nearly…" and the voices faded as their obviously heated conversation continued outdoors.

xXx

Tidus gasped, bolting upright as he suddenly awoke. He realized almost right away that he was alone. He tried to recall as much of his current situation as he could before eventually giving up since he barely understood anything that's been happening since he first arrived in Spira and then, not even giving himself a chance to recover from his lingering drowsiness, got off of the makeshift bed and ran off to the temple Wakka told him about not too long after he washed up on the shore of Besaid to look for the aforementioned blitzball player; he only vaguely remembered where it was.

Adrenaline coursed through his veins when, once again, his thoughts directed themselves to Rikku. If something happened to him at any time, at that very moment, he would never get the chance he so desperately desired to see her again and—No! I can't think about those kinds of possibilities, not now, not ever, but especially not now!

"Wakka!" Tidus panted once he made it to his destination, "What's going on?"

"The summoner… is still in the Cloister of Trials." Wakka replied worriedly, glancing away from Tidus. Wakka seemed out of it, as though his mind were elsewhere, somewhere away from the temple and even his own body.

"Is it dangerous in there?" Tidus urged, trying to keep Wakka's mind from drifting too far.

"Sometimes, yes…" Wakka murmured, wishing to give away as little as he could about the possible situation.

"Are you saying this summoner-person can die in there?" Tidus implored, feeling anger bubble up within himself. Wakka's silence was all he needed for confirmation, "I can't just stand here and do nothing while something's tearing this summoner limb from limb!"

It's not that quite that bad… but… Wakka sighed inwardly; the guy really must have gotten quite a dose of the toxin.

"The teachings must be followed! Yevon does not look kindly upon those who forsake his teachings!" the priest from earlier warned; his voice held an ominous edge, a warning for the apparently blasphemous young man.

"Like I care!" Tidus shouted, running into the Cloister. Whoever this summoner was, he wasn't about to let him die! He cleared the Cloister's puzzle with little difficulty and reached a lift. He hurriedly got on it and ran down the corridor leading to the Chamber of the Fayth. I don't know who the heck you are, but I really don't care right now; I'm going to save you! He couldn't, he wouldn't let anything happen to this summoner-person. He may be a selfish—and even shallow—teenager, but even he had a heart.

He wouldn't be able to live with himself if something happened and he could have stopped it.

Wakka, after some running, caught up to Tidus. The boy's got some energy in 'im, ya? "Long as we're down here, I should give you a heads up. There are two other Guardians down here; one's kinda snappy, you can't really tell what the other's thinkin' ya?" Wakka warned as they continued down the passageway.

As soon as the path expanded into a room, one of the guardians—a sultry, large-busted woman who looked like she had seen her fair share of things in the world despite her fairly young age—whipped around and glared at Wakka. "Did you think we were incapable of handling things on our own…?" her voice was fatally calm, while her garnet eyes blazed angrily.

"… Told ya she's got a temper…" Wakka discreetly commented to Tidus and then, aloud, said, "Nah, Lulu. This knucklehead got scared for the summoner and bolted in here, ya?" Tidus paid little attention to Wakka's words and his fear for the summoner remained nearly paramount in his mind, second only to finding Rikku. But the matter at hand was of immediate concern and so he—momentarily—forced away his thoughts of her so he could focus on helping the summoner if need be.

"Is the summoner okay?" Tidus implored, the worry evident in his voice.

Lulu narrowed her eyes at Tidus and tactlessly asked, "Who are you?"

Then the door to the Chamber of the Fayth could be heard opening. Everyone turned around to the unexpected noise. A girl, looking no older than Tidus, stumbled out of the Chamber. Tidus took in every detail about her he could see; he wasn't expecting the summoner to be female after all—and a young woman at that! Her hazel hair fell to just a bit past her shoulders; a small lock on the right side of her head was contained within wrappings and beads. As his gaze traveled curiously downward, he noticed a pendant she was wearing, and then how her chest was obscured by a white fabric wrap; small bits of her black bra were in plain sight. Then he saw the detached kimono sleeves that decorated her arms and then the decorative golden obi—with a large red floral decoration—that held the wrap in place with an elaborate bow. After that, he saw the pleated ankle-length cerulean skirt with pastel pink flower-and-vine embroidery traveling down the right-leg area of the garment.

He then took a quick glance at her black boots—nothing all that special about a pair of leather boots—before traveling back up her form slightly and noticing how the skirt was slitted from the left knee down. His eyes then focused on the last notable bit of her attire: the short staff she wielded. It was mostly blue-handled, but the lower third, near the bottom end of it, was crimson with a small bauble hanging from a string at the staff's end. The weapon was headed with a decorative piece of gold; it wasn't all that intricate—mustn't have been that difficult to make—but it was pretty nonetheless.

This summoner, this girl, was quite beautiful. There was no denying that. But however pretty she was, Tidus couldn't help but think that Rikku was prettier. Even if this girl, standing not too far from him, developed any sort of romantic interest in him, he would have to deny her. Unfortunately for her, she could never hold a candle to Rikku in Tidus' eyes.

Then she collapsed into the other guardian's—a massive lion-esque, blue-furred humanoid who seemed to think more words than he actually spoke—muscular arms. "I… I did it… I have become a full-fledged summoner…" she said in complete awe of her own accomplishment, standing back up slowly and steadying herself with her animalistic guardian's arms. Tidus could hardly hear her soft-spoken voice, more because of the fact that she made the statement half to herself than anything else, but he could definitely tell that she was a fairly quiet—and likely even shy—person.

Since the danger had passed, Tidus allowed himself the luxury of thinking about Rikku once more. The girl before him was orally the polar opposite of Rikku; the summoner-girl spoke quietly, yet made her words clear and concise. Rikku, however, just made herself heard—no two ways about it. Everything about Rikku demanded she be noticed. Ironically, she seemed to completely oblivious to the fact that she even had that effect on people; she was oblivious to the effect that she had on Tidus. Tidus wasn't oblivious though… to the looks she received from the other—male—Al Bhed on the ship, that is; only one didn't eye her like a plump, juicy rabbit about to be thrown to those ravenous wolves—Tidus assumed he was either a eunuch or her brother.

He despised those lustful looks those single-minded bastards threw Rikku's way. Well, okay, so he might have had similar feelings, but that's where the similarities end. Despite being an admittedly horny teenager, he wasn't out for a quick fuck. He wanted her, yes, but he wanted it to be meaningful, and he wanted it to happen when it was meant to happen. It was like meeting Rikku changed him; he went after women shamelessly in Zanarkand, but it was like Rikku had enchanted his thoughts, his very way of thinking. Now he hardly knew the Tidus that flirted like the world was going to end any minute. Who he thought he was and what he thought he wanted had changed.

"You there, ya?" Tidus was blown out of his self-induced trance by the sight of Wakka's hand waving in front of his eyes.

"Uhh… Yea. Did something… happen…?" Tidus replied, still slightly dazed. Wakka instantly burst into laughter and hooked an almost uncomfortably tight arm around the younger man's shoulders. Tidus tried to wriggle his way out of the redheaded Guardian's hold, but to no avail, his attempts at finding out what was so funny about him were just as fruitless.

"H-hey! Wakka! Let go! C'mon, man!" Wakka completely ignored Tidus' pleas and finally let himself fall on his behind. Tidus tried to glare at Wakka, but found himself laughing alongside the man instead.

It seemed that laughter would be one of the only things keeping him going… Until he could find Rikku, at least.

xXx

After a couple of explanations—and almost being mauled by the furry Guardian who had been identified as Kimahri—Tidus was… fairly up to pace. So basically, Yuna—the summoner—has to visit temples from all over Spira and pray to these things called the "Fayth" to get these other things called "Aeons" to defeat Sin and bring about The Calm… Easy enough, right? Tidus went over all of the information in his mind, nodding to himself as he recalled that said information was correct.

He had asked a couple of questions to the ever-temperamental Lulu—figuring she knew the most out of the entire group—but he received quite a bit of an attitude along with his answers, so he kept the inquiries to a minimum. However, after some holding back, he finally gave in to temptation and asked Lulu about their next destination. "So," Tidus began, "where exactly is this.. Kilika-place?"

Wakka laughed again at the teen's expense, not even able to form words with the immense oxygen-usage of the jovial sound blasting from his lungs.

Everyone else looked at Tidus strangely, while Lulu sighed exasperatedly and impatiently explained, "It's approximately fifty miles off of the coast of Besaid." She shook her head, wondering how the boy could have forgotten something so commonly-known. She didn't dwell too much on it though and walked past him, her dress of silk and leather belts trailing behind her slightly as she did so.

Then Tidus was only in Yuna's company, but the silence was awkward, so Yuna took it upon herself to try and make both of them feel at least somewhat more comfortable.

"I apologize for not properly introducing myself. I am Yuna, and you are…" she pondered a bit, "Tidus, am I right?" Her tone was polite and proper; she truly did make the perfect religious mascot. Tidus nodded politely in affirmation. He may be the poster child of your stereotypical rowdy teen, but his mother had thankfully taught him the decency to have manners when the situation called for it.

"How long will you be traveling with us?" Yuna asked, genuinely curious. She really wouldn't mind if he stayed with them during the entire pilgrimage, but she wanted to know anyway, since he planned on leaving them at some point.

"I'm gonna go my own way when we get to Luca. Wakka said I'll probably find someone I know there." Tidus said. That's what I want to believe, at least… He mentally sighed.

He averted his gaze from Yuna's eyes; they reminded him of Rikku somehow. He couldn't pinpoint what exactly, but he came up with a possible—and likely correct—reason. Yuna looks so… I don't know… submissive; like she'll do whatever she's told like an obedient student. But Rikku… Yes, what about Rikku?

Rikku looks more like she'd rather get suspended than do something she doesn't want to do. Heh... She'd probably end up with more than a few marks on her permanent record. Tidus chuckled a bit to himself—quietly, so Yuna wouldn't notice. Rikku wouldn't do something just because someone tells her to. I bet she'd demand to know why she has to do whatever and if the reason's not good enough, she'd probably go tell the guy to drop dead or something.

Rikku seemed to be happy doing what she felt she should do, while Yuna seemed more like she wanted everyone else to be happy, even if she wasn't.

"I see then… Well, I hope to Yevon that you find that someone, whoever they may be." and she smiled, though Tidus could tell it was forced. He made no comment on it and nodded again in response.

Rikku… he mentally murmured fondly. He missed her so much; more than he probably should. He had spent only a couple of hours with her after all. But he just couldn't help himself. He would follow through with the promise he made to himself when he was laying on the cot in Wakka's hut.

I'll do whatever it takes to find you, Rikku… I promise…