AN: IDK what I'm doing, I'm just writing. In the past I only wrote Luakkas or even the occasional Aurikku but I really like Raine now, I think there is a certain authenticity and potential to their characters. The title just came about because I like that song so….yeah lol Anyway I hope you like it. It defiantly takes a more...mature tone than my other fictions.

Kathleen

Chapter One

It was morning, Paine could tell because she could see a thin beam of dust pushing past the dingy curtains in her tiny room.

"7:35."

It was a little game she would play when she wasn't too upset about waking up before her alarm. A quick glance to her left at the shining green numbers told her it was half passed seven.

Close enough.

With the ritual rubbing of the eyes and a tired yawn Paine slowly pulled herself from under the worn gray and blue blankets of her twin sized bed. She moved over to her window and peaked outside at the busy city street under her. Rough looking middle class women hand in hand with their young children were all on their way to work and school. Winos crawling back to the park from the hard night of begging and drinking and the occasional random, someone without a real purpose, seemingly there as an extra. It was easy to feel this way on the lower eastside of the city. Paine raked a hand through her hair as she stepped away from the window not even bothering to open it to let light in, by the time she would come home it would be dark and just fine the way it was now.

Staring at her small closet for less than two seconds Paine pulled out a dark gray shirt and her usual tethered dark blue jeans before grabbing a towel and quickly heading down the hall to the community bathroom.

There was no way to describe it, only one word fit. Gross. Paine had tried keeping up and cleaning the small closet like space but gave up a week ago when she found Gippal one of her house mates, passed out hugging the toilet one morning, puke everywhere.

"Fuck it." Paine grumbled as she turned right around and went back to her room to change. She could shower at work if she got there early enough. After changing and making herself look presentable Paine slipped on her old pair of converse and making sure to remember her 12 page research paper she had spent the better part of last night revising in the local library up the street, Paine pulled her brown leather messenger bag on her shoulders and quickly skipped two steps to go downstairs.

"Morning." It could have easily been mistaken for a grunt.

Paine shielded her eyes with her bag. "Jesus would it kill you to put on some clothes?" She shook her head and kept her gaze straight ahead of her as she went into the kitchen.

"Why? Clothes are what brought this economy into such chaos. Did you know that five of the major stock companies where all—"

"It's too early for this Nooj." Paine said shaking her head at her roommate while reaching into the fridge to grab something.

No one really knew how old Nooj was, he hid that very well by shaving very closely and growing his brown hair into a long ponytail. He wore thin rimmed glasses, the kind that looked like if you even sneezed too hard they would snap in two. Paine was guessing late twenties, but that's only because he wore loafers. She had had a economics course with him last year and she and the rest of her roommates were looking for someone to fill a room so that's how he came to be sitting on a kitchen stool with a bowl of cereal and the New Luca Times , completely nude.

Paine learned a long time ago not to ask questions about his tendencies. It was just part of who he was. The clothed version of him wasn't that bad of a guy.

"You won't be saying it's too early when they raise tuition again because the economy is going down."

Paine was reading the expiration date on a jug of milk. She furrowed her brows "…hill?"

"No, just down. We're sucking all the other countries dicks at this point." He said casually, dipping a spoon into his bowl of honey nut cheerios.

"Oh." Paine honestly didn't know why she signed up for a politics course this semester, all she had to do was stay home. "Hey did you have some of this milk?"

"Yup." Nooj nodded not taking his eyes off the paper.

"It's expired."

"They just put those dates on there to scare you, its fine."

Paine blinked and then shook her head again while putting the jug back into the fridge. "Whatever I'm going to be late." She reached for a green apple sitting on the counter and headed for the door.

"Cya."

"Bye." She called over her shoulder before stepping out of their unit and walking down the creaking steps to the first floor and pushing the main door open.

"Paine!" A little voice called as Paine stepped outside into the Spring morning. She turned around to see a little girl about the age of 9, she had deep ivory skin and the prettiest brown eyes Paine had ever seen. She was the building owner's daughter Mackenzie.

"Big Mack." Paine greeted with a small smile.

Mackenzie laughed seemingly forgetting why she stopped Paine in the first place. Then like that she remembered. "Oh!" Momma asked me to ask you if we could walk to the bus together, she had to leave for work early or somethin'."

Paine nodded. Mackenzie's mother was a nurse and often had to run out and do things trusting only Paine to babysit sometimes. "C'mon we don't want to miss it….don't forget your bag." Paine motioned to the hooks near the wall once Mackenzie ran past it excitedly. Paine sighed and picked up the obnoxiously pink bag.

After waving bye to her little friend Paine jumped back on the bus quickly and found a seat in the back and put her headphones in. She had about 45 minutes before they got to downtown Luca where she worked and went to school. The ride time varied depending on the time of day, traffic, holidays you name it. It was so inconsistent that Paine just decided to be an hour early to everything including work at the universities health and Wellness center's fitness area.

Paine got onto campus around 9:00am and was showered and ready for work when she was supposed to be at half past. She made sure to slip all of her things into her gym locker, all student instructors got one. Paine taught self defense and some higher level martial arts classes when she wasn't in class. The pay was barely there but it was pay, and just enough to pay for her room and grocery's every two weeks.

"Someone looks chipper this morning." Tidus one of her co-workers asked as she came to sit behind the desk with him wearing her dark blue Wellness Center polo. When she wasn't teaching classes she had desk duty with the chatty blonde.

He was a little shorter than Paine and looked to be in desperate need of a haircut. Tidus was easily excitable and had deep blue eyes, Paine wondered if they were real ffrom time to time. Though he was sort of one of them, Tidus seemed to be more grounded. Hell he had a job and had confided in Paine once that he was only in school because he didn't want to just take over the family business and mooch off his parents. He still wore polos when he wasn't working, which for some reason drove Paine crazy.

"Morning." Paine merely replied.

"Or not." Tidus nodded. Anytime he worked with Paine he tried to get her to say more than three words to him. It was his own game because without it they would go crazy out of boredom. "So I have this quiz today that I didn't study for at all—" Paine began to drown him out.

It wasn't like she didn't like Tidus, he just talked so god damned much. Paine busied herself by logging onto the student database and checking her school e-mail.

"Fuck." Paine groaned when she got an email from her professor.

"What's wrong?" Tidus asked leaning over in his rolling chair.

"Fuck." Paine said continuing to read. She paused and looked to Tidus then back at the screen. "This douche just decided to add five more pages to the million page paper he assigned due today."

Tidus frowned, though that was most defiantly more than three words he felt for Paine. "Can you do five more?"

Paine nodded scrolling down in the email. "Yeah but…"

"Just run home get it done then come back." Tidus nodded feeling helpful until he saw the look on Paine's face.

"Not all of us live in the Heights blondie." She rolled her eyes and went back to looking at the screen. She would need to head to the schools library on fifth and then come back for her 10:30 class….or she could miss the boring lecture and just turn the paper in right after class when he was in his office. "Cover for me?" Paine asked quickly getting up and looking for her things.

"What? Yeah I mean…you're leaving me?"

"Tidus it's 9 in the morning, the only people here are people who know what they're doing." Paine said grabbing her bag and heading toward the locker room.

"I got your back!" She heard him call after her dorkily.

##

She literally had two minutes to get to his office. Paine was completely out of breath when she got the office section on the fifth floor of the college of Social sciences building. Paine sighed a breath of relief when she heard voices coming from his office. He was obviously with a student so she waited patiently outside. She was running a mental list of everything she had left to do for today before catching the bus home. She didn't teach a class today so maybe she could leave early. She pulled out her fresh copy of research and nodded to herself reading over the last paragraph of share genius and bullshit.

"Ok I'll be more prepared next time Auron," came a flirty female voice.

Paine furrowed her brows. Auron? Was that this old guy's first name? Paine stepped forward ready to turn in her assignment when the door opened and a giggling blonde tossed a look over her shoulder at "Auron" and ran right into Paine dropping her watered down iced coffee all over Paine and her 17 page paper.

"Oh my god!"

"Fuck!" Paine looked down at her ruined clothes then up at the shorter girl.

"Oh wow I am so so sorry here let me" The shorter women reached forward and Paine recoiled quickly.

She didn't like people touching her.

"Do you know how much it cost to print at this school?" Paine found herself asking. "25 cents page!"

"Paine, that's enough." Professor Gaurrd's scruff voice came as he stepped out of his office. It wasn't lost on Paine that he was adjusting his clothes. "Is that your paper, I was looking forward to seeing it..oh…" He took note of the coffee dripping all over Paine and the paper "I'm afraid I can't accept that."

This paper had taken Paine all semester to write. Was he kidding? "Is there any way that I could possibly…" Paine began quickly flipping through the paper to access the interior damage. She completely forgot about the blonde standing beside her until she looked up at Professor Guarrd and saw he was looking at her with a little smile on his face.

Gross

Paine looked between the two. The shorter blonde was looking at Paine's hands and was completely oblivious to her admirer. "Professor?" Paine asked again. She finally got his attention.

The older gentleman looked at his watch. "I'm sorry Paine but the due date was today at 1:00pm it's now 1:12pm, unless you have another copy somewhere of the full 17 pages I'm afraid I can't help you." He said washing his hands clean.

Paine took her time processing the information. "So I can't turn it in?"

He shrugged. "No."

Paine could feel herself heating up. "I was here at one though…"

"How come you didn't knock?"

"Excuse me for not wanting to interrupt." Paine glanced at the blonde girl who for some reason was still there.

"Paine." Auron said firmly. "I'm sorry, look I have a meeting soon, email me maybe we can work out getting an IC grade and then you just turn it in again?" Auron nodded like he was answering for Paine. "I will see you later." He directed towards the blonde who suddenly looked embarrassed.

"An IC?" Paine said to herself. She clenched her firsts and then squeezed them tight before releasing, leaving her hands to fill with blood again. The old Paine would have gotten enraged, but she was different now, she was an adult now. She couldn't keep acting like a product of her environment. Things had changed; she didn't need to fight anyone.

She kept on saying this over and over in her head.

None of this changed the fact that the summer internship she wanted was dependant on her GPA this semester. Incompletes were not acceptable.

"Look I am so sorry if there is anything I can do—" The blonde began. She hiked up her designer backpack and clasped her hands together.

Paine looked at her, again for a second forgetting she was there. "Yeah, next time you wanna blow him? Do it when he's not on office hours." She growled as she continued down the hall. She still had a class to get to after all.

##

By the time Paine got off the bus it was around 11pm at night and the streets were silent. She had kept on her work polo since it was not completely covered in a mocha frappa whatever. The more she thought about it, the more upset she got.

Did these things happen to everyone? Now what was she going to do for the summer break, she had to work. Paine sighed hoping it wouldn't come to her working with Gippal again at his fathers restaurant, sure it was money but at the same time she was putting herself back into the position to repute what happened last summer and she didn't want to go down that rode again, not when she was doing so well.

Paine liked walking around at night. It defiantly wasn't the safest thing for her to do considering the area but she couldn't help but finding it calming, quiet but still very much alive. There was a certain hum on the streets. Everyone was home and inside but you could still hear loud tv sets, arguing couples, children fighting tooth and nail to stay awake. She could be alone, without really having to be alone. Paine had been living here for a little while so she made it home without incident.

She managed to open the door despite one of her roommates leaving the latch on. That should say something about the security of their apartment. Paine thought as she hiked the small set of stairs to her room. She found it odd that the only person home was Elma, a short mousy red head who never came out of her room. The light shining from the bottom of the closed and probably locked door told Paine she was still alive.

Once in the safety of her room Paine sighed and pulled off her top and jeans and got into bed, a second later her cell phone was buzzing.

U home yet?

The text was from Gippal. Paine lay in bed texting back.

Yeah

Spiff on the roof?

Paine thought about it and before she knew it she had changed into baggy basketball shorts and a hoody and left the apartment only to find the roof entrance and start climbing.

"You're late Doc." Gippal a lean toned young man with wild blonde hair and a cocky smile greeted Paine. They had become friends in Juvenile hall when Paine was placed there as a small child. There wasn't enough room in social services. Apparently it was abandon your kid month.

"Where's mine?" Paine asked dipping her hands into her hoody pocket for a lighter while Gippal fished his for the extra joint he rolled for her. "God I needed this." She muttered. She had quit smoking cigarettes a long while ago and needed a release. Drinking was a no go, sex was defiantly out of the question, she was just so wound up lately.

Gippal chuckled to himself. "I could tell by your walk." He mumbled. He was wearing long work out pants with and a hoody as well, his hood was pulled up though, there was a leftover winter wind coming from the East that caused Paine to do the same thing before sending her friend a curious look.

Gippal motioned over the roof and onto the street below. Paine nodded in understanding and for a while the two just stood there leaning against the railing looking down at the occasional shadows that roamed around this time of night.

"How do you know when to say sorry?" Gippal asked out of nowhere. "I'm not a girl, I'm not good at these things."

Paine huffed slightly, for some reason the apologetic blonde from that afternoon came to mind. She pushed it back. "I'm a girl, have you ever heard me say it?"

Gippal chuckled. "You always go around it."

Paine shrugged and they were quiet again. "I was a bitch today…"

"And this is different from any other day because…?" Gippal asked a sly grin in place.

Paine shook her head throwing the story completely out the window. It wasn't like she would ever see the girl again. That night as she lay in bed Paine sighed to herself. "I'm not going to look for her." She said aloud as if this was going to make it law. She wouldn't, if she saw her she would say something, if she didn't well then there it was. Paine fell asleep shortly after making the deal.

##

After a rather shaky morning Paine found herself craving caffeine so instead of heading straight into work she detoured to the on campus coffee shop. Paine ordered her coffee and was contemplating if she should add something festive like cinnamon or honey. Deciding that she wasn't in the mood Paine capped her black coffee and was on her way out when golden blonde hair caught her eyes. She froze.

There, at a window seat, looking very content with sitting by herself was the blonde from yesterday. She was wearing a linen blouse and some dark blue jeans. The woman couldn't be older than Paine she thought, and if she was in the coffee shop she was defiantly a student. No faculty member stepped foot in there, they would get eaten alive.

Paine took a deep breath trying to swallow her pride, capped her coffee firmly, and began to walk over.

The blonde was picking at a banana nut muffin while reading what looked like a very boring text book. Her right hand tightened her hold on a pink highlighter then relaxed it, tightened, then relaxed, tightened— Paine realized she was staring and calmly cleared her throat.

Fierce green eyes locked onto her auburn ones. It surprised Paine a little. They were so vibrant, and alive, yet mysterious. A small bit of hazel hugged the center, but the green hue was defintaly not mistakable.

After a second the blonde seemed to recognize Paine. Her curious gaze fell to Paine's coffee. "Is that for me?" She asked her gaze flickering back to Paine.

"Uhm…" Paine looked a little confused but then got it, she almost smiled. "No." She held her coffee close to her body as if in emphasis.

"Oh…"

Silence.

"Look I just wanted to apologize about..um…what I said…yesterday…" Paine nodded to show that she was done rambling like an idiot but then she just opened her mouth again/ "I um, you were just trying to help, I didn't mean to insult you."

She held her breath for a second and watched the blonde closely.

"It's okay…." She nodded. "You seemed stressed I didn't, take it to heart."

Lie

She had cried for about thirty minutes straight in the ladies room.

Paine nodded feeling better. "Right..okay." Paine turned around.

"Won't you join me?"

Paine turned and wondered if she had heard her right. She was pretty sure she gave a half assed apology for calling this girl a slut and now she was inviting her to sit down? Just like that?

To make the point clear the blonde moved aside her book a little for Paine's things.

Paine couldn't help but sit. There was just something about this woman, she seemed like any other NLU student, snobby rich and or a blonde. But today with new eyes Paine couldn't help but see….well she didn't know what but it was there, there was something there.

"I'm Rikku." She introduced shyly.

"Paine." Paine placed her coffee cup down.

"I, I know."

"You do?"

Rikku began fiddling with the paper from her half eaten muffin. "I asked Sir Auro…uh Professor Guarrd. He said you were a good student…."

"With an IC." Paine said before should could think.

"Yeah see don't worry about that, he was just being grumpy I talked to him."

Paine stared at the girl across from her. "You didn't have to do that." She was capable of handling things on her own.

Rikku shrugged. "But I did so… be happy." Rikku looked down to her book and closed it. They were silent for at least three minutes.

"What uh…book is that?" Paine asked suddenly feeling very awkward sitting here with her.

Rikku looked down to the book. "Introduction to International Law?" She read.

Paine felt a small tug at her lips fight to show itself. "You don't even know."

Rikku shrugged again an effortless smile on her face. It fell though once they got quiet again. They actually finished their coffees and Paine checked her watch. "I should…go now. I have work."

"Oh…yeah…I have reading." She nodded.

Paine stood. "Um…bye." Paine felt she should do or say something but nothing came of the pregnant pause before turning on her way to leave.

"Bye." She heard from behind her as she quickly made her way out of the coffee shop.

Rikku watched her leave in a hurry. Either she was really going to be late for work or her attempt at making a new friend had failed terribly. She sighed and looked back to her text book. Sometimes she really and truly did not understand the things she did. Why would she even want to be friends with Paine? She had called her names… but had apologized in the cutest of ways. She lacked basic social conversational skills…. But for some reason her silence was enough. She was obviously here on some kind of scholarship… but that meant she was at least intelligent right? Rikku shook her head at herself.

"Y'know you have to actually open the book to get information out of it." Rikku quickly looked up to see a familiar face.

"Yunie." She smiled.

"Staring at it like that is going to make people talk." Yuna teased further as she took the seat across from her cousin. The brunteete pointed to the half eaten muffin. "May I?"

"Of course of course." Rikku pushed it toward her. Yuna was her fathers, sister child. They had always grown up knowing each other. They were more like siblings than anything.

"So." Yuna began after picking a larger piece of the muffin off and popping it into her mouth. "I just got a call from Monica, the girl in my accounting class, what do you say to a day off? Her Aunt is Renee Mante remember?"

Rikku nodded. "The fashion designer?" Yuna was a fashion Marketing major.

"That's the one, she is creating her Fall collection and wan't some fresh eyes."

"Isn't it Spring?"

Yuna chuckled lightly at her cousin the law student. "Fashion is always a few seasons ahead."

"Oh." Rikku chuckled. "That would be fun but…I have to study for this test."

Yuna's face fell slightly. "Oh, well… what about tonight? You're still coming over right?"

"Defiantly!" Rikku nodded. "We need to pick a movie already." Every once and a while the two girls would get to gether off of campus and watch a movie together, eat ridiculous amounts of junk food, and have some serious girl talk.

Yuna nodded happily again. "Oh so, how was that paper you had to write for Sir Auron's class? When I left you were on like, page five."

Rikku suddenly felt sick. "I uh, I finished."

"Good, because you know how Sir Auron is, he's only hard on you because he knows you." Yuna nodded.

Rikku reached into her bag for bottled water. She needed to get the taste out of her mouth before she really did throw up. "Yunie when you were taking his class did he ever—"

"Oh hold on." Yuna held up a finger and pulled out her cell phone that was vibrating like a…vibrator. Rikku almost wanted to chuckle at suspicious it seemed, especially of Yuna.

A week later Rikku found herself climbing the stairs of the Social sciences building. She had gotten a text saying that they needed to talk but that's what it always said and they seldom talked.

In the beginning it was terrifying yet exciting. Rikku could feel a rush of confidence course through her and she felt even more attractive than those models Yuna would help dress. But as the first semester progressed these steps got even steeper and by Spring Rikku was disgusted with herself. How on earth had she let herself become one of those students? Cutting it off was not an option, Auron was a close friend and partner in her Uncle and fathers law firm, he had held this over her head multiple times when she refused. So she continued, hoping one day he would just get tired of her, they were mid way through the Spring semester and Rikku didn't see that happening any time soon.

It got to the point where she couldn't even look at herself in the mirror. Sometimes Rikku just wanted to hide away from it all. Just curl up and forget, maybe even get a new body that hadn't been touched by him. The situation was so fucked, and far gone that she missed the window of being able to tell someone. Ask for help. You'd like to believe that the window was always open; in fact they teach you that it was always open. But this was real life, and in the real world people could care less. So she swallowed her pride and confidence that people knew her best for, and knocked on the office door.

"Come in."

##

Paine clad in a black fitness top and black fighter shorts slipped out of her shoes and used a bar to stretch. She had just finished teaching her higher level class some new moves and was surprised at how it gave even her a work out. Her bare abdomen burned as she pulled out of the stretch. She began cleaning the room and getting it ready for the next spinning class when she heard the beginning of a light rain tap against the small window in the corner near the punching bag. She put her things and went to look at it. Did you ever wish you could be there when something actually started? When she was younger Paine would stay up just to watch the first peek of sunlight in the sky, or would fret that she missed the very first raindrop. She wasn't sure why she wondered these things, she just did, and now as a young adult nothing had changed. She was a little disappointed, yet still pleased that she caught the first real shower. Paine shook her head at her childishness and slipped her thermal on and then her shoes. She finished prepping the room for the next instructor and was about to leave when she went back to the window, mentally trying to figure out how wet she would get if she ran from the gym to the bus stop. She decided that cutting through the student parking lot her best bet. She always forgot her umbrella.

With a friendly wave to Tidus she left the gym and quickly made her way toward the parking lot. Her leather bag was tucked under her thermal as not to get it wet. It was as if Mother Nature knew about her little plan to out run it and the skies opened up pelting rain down harder and harder with each second until it was almost hard to see in front of you.

Paine sighed and just started walking; at least the rain wasn't too cold.

She maneuvered her way through the cars but stopped when she heard something.

"Fucking keys." Rikku gritted her teeth as tears easily fell down her cheeks mixing with the rain. She was glad she didn't have to hide them anymore. Was this even her car? Rikku checked the license plate quickly and groaned. Great, she had just keyed someone's car. She stopped what she was doing and let out a pitiful sounding noise. Why was her life such shit?

She seemed to be having some sort of breakdown Paine gathered and just like that her body began to move towards her.

What am I doing?

She said sorry, that was supposed to be that. Paine bit her lip and looked ahead to the bus stop.

She had her own problems.

AN: Questions, Comments, Concerns... Reviews?

KathleenDee