A Tales of Vesperia Fanfic
(Disclaimer: I own nothing from Tales of Vesperia, though if I did I'd probably go ahead and steal Raven for myself.)
It had been foolishness, utter idiocy, that had driven her to such mad actions. Rita could attribute all of the folly to the swell of emotions she felt towards him.
She'd always known from the start that love was a choice. People who claimed love was uncontrollable, that they had no choice, were losers in Rita's opinion. In the name of unstoppable emotions women left their husbands for another man, men abandoned children so they could be with a younger woman, and people were forced or subjugated in the face of desperately unreciprocated feelings. No. They had a choice, no matter what they said.
It had been such an obscure moment that had sparked it. His fingertips had brushed against the petals of the Fire Lily gently, but his eyes had been even more so. His usual bravado was gone in that space of time, revealing just a glimpse into the depth of who he really was. It was then, seeing him without a smile and with softened eyes, that Rita had felt the first flicker in her heart.
She denied it.
Every time he flirted with Judith, Rita found herself smirking with a little too much mirth when he was brutally rejected. Every time he winked at Estelle and she edged away from him, that made Rita laugh a little, too. It was only later that she began to realise that she paid attention to every interaction he had with the other girls in the party. Rita had a life, she was sure of it. So what was going on?
The next thing she knew, skimpily clad harlots kept speaking to him suggestively in Dahngrest, all dimples and giggles, and Rita found herself wanting to smack some sense into them. Surely not a single one of them had actually seen the serious side to him. None of them actually knew him like they did. So why did none of the other team members care about the stupid way these girls were mooning over him? And then there was the harsh way he spoke to the girl who was clearly head over heels for him. Why did that hurt so much, to see his eyes harden and his voice grow curt?
It was only much later that Rita understood what was going on. She realised it when he spoke of Casey, his eyes distant and his heart so completely remote from hers, that she understood fully what her heart wanted. She tried to tease him, to seem carefree and lighthearted about him and this other woman, and though to some extent she managed to fool the others she knew she couldn't fool herself.
She knew she had a choice to cut it away. There were so many factors against the whole notion. He was over twice her age, even though he didn't always act like it. She found him both incorrigible and a nuisance. He called her 'darling', sure, but he had terms of affection for every girl he met.
And there was just too much she didn't know. As much as he seemed relaxed, he was not an open book. He never let on how serious he was, and somehow she felt like he was always hiding something. She needed to know everything about a subject, but she could hardly say she knew him.
Maybe that was why she was stalling, and she hadn't made her choice just yet. Nothing had quite solidified so far. She hadn't put it into words.
All to say, this moment in time, Rita knew that all those unspeakable feelings had finally surfaced in the most insane moment of her life, and that included all the crazy things they'd done as a team.
She'd been near the prow of the Fierta when he'd stumbled into her, and she'd let out a sharp yelp and dropped the book she'd been engrossed in. She pushed him aside roughly, fingers snagging in his purple coat as her heart beat way more loudly than she gave it permission to.
"H-hey, old man! Watch where you're going!"
"Whoops- sorry, Rita." He steadied himself and gave her that slightly lopsided grin of his, where one corner of his lip was lazier than the other. "Wasn't payin' attention. Some woman kept chasin' me 'round town today. I was just checkin' I lost her properly and that she wasn't gonna follow me onta the ship."
"Hmph." Rita bent over to pick up her book just as he did, and it made her cheeks flush as his warm fingers brushed over hers on the book cover. She snatched it towards herself clumsily, and said the first thing that came to mind in her efforts to distract his attention from her cheeks.
"I can't see why any woman would bother with some old man like you."
"Hey!" He sounded affronted, as always with jabs like these, and thumped his chest with a fist. "This old man's still got some life in his bones."
"Whatever," Rita said scornfully, "I can only imagine that this woman who's been chasing you around is old enough to be my mother."
"Hmm. She'd've had to give birth ta ya at the age of seven, darlin'."
"Whatever!" Rita spun on her heel, gazing out stubbornly at the sea as she felt her cheeks burn while he laughed. He had such a warm laugh.
"Age is not a factor," he said boastfully, "I can make any woman weak-kneed."
"Not me!" She snapped, and then paused as the words sunk in.
Why, oh why, did she say that?
There was a long pause, winds whistling through the lax sails of the Fierta. She waited, with dread, for him to tell her she was by no means a woman yet, and was still just a girl. Only a girl.
"You want ta try me?" He asked softly.
Rita felt an odd, tickling prickle on her palms, and an electric change in the air. Rita felt it charge every nerve ending in her body, and she knew what this was.
It was a choice. She could scoff this off like any other moment. She could roll her eyes and say he was ridiculous.
A laugh started to bubble up her chest to her lips as she turned around, ready to shake her head and walk away, but he was right behind her. The laugh froze in her throat as he grasped her wrist firmly and pinned her to the spot with his eyes. His other hand raised and pressed fingertips gently against her cheek.
The smile on her lips faded as she brain-blanked completely, a white sheet coming up in response to every question in her head. His eyes were so blue, and serious, and so focused on only her...
His fingers curled under her chin, and his other hand trailed up from her wrist, along her arm and around to her back, down to where her waist curved. His hand left a trail that tingled and ached as he leaned closer to her. She almost stopped breathing as his nose gently brushed against hers, his lips so close she could feel his breath against her own...
She closed her eyes, and for a moment that felt like ages, he held her there. She could feel his warmth and proximity so acutely with every fibre of her being, it was a little scary.
No, what was scarier was that it wasn't enough. She wanted him to close that tetchy little space between them. She wanted-
He let go of her suddenly, not roughly but quite abruptly, and stepped back a good distance, grinning at her.
"There, I told you I could make any woman weak-kneed, didn't I? What d'you have ta say for yourself, eh, Rita?"
What could she say?
When Rita didn't reply for a long minute, the cheeriness faded from his face, and a slow dawn of realisation seemed to come upon him. Looking worried, he lifted his hands towards her, and then stopped.
In that moment, Rita realised - with a rush of liquid sunlight surging through her - that it wasn't just her. He had held himself back, not because he saw her as a kid, or because he thought she was not his type.
And there it was again. A choice.
She could smile and laugh shakily, and chalk it up to her inexperience. Pretend the moment had no more impact on her than the same interaction might have had with any other man. Let the memory fade and rationalising kick in, that this was better, no complications, no risks.
Or just choose him.
In two steps, she was in front of him, and she threw her arms around his neck so suddenly he had to grasp her to keep balance, his eyes wide in surprise. This close, she could see the laughter lines in his face in crystal detail. She clasped her hands at the back of his collar, and kept her eyes trained on his, trying to communicate it all without speaking.
With people, she always messed up when it came to words. It was just so mortifyingly embarrassing to say it.
When he hesitated again, however, and took his hands off from her waist, she spoke.
"I'm serious, old man."
He looked stunned, and looked at her with such surprise she knew he was wondering if he had heard her correctly. She glared at him to let him know he better not ask her to repeat herself, and felt her glowing cheeks betray her attempt to remain calm at how close she was to him.
Then, at an agonising speed that made her feel like hitting him, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to him. She tucked into him like a book that slid perfectly into a space on a shelf.
It was gentle and warm, and she could smell a hint of soap, bowstring oil and travel dust. She closed her eyes and just pressed her face to his chest, and breathed him in for a moment. The silly him, the cocky him, the aggravating him, the serious him, the quiet him. All of him.
After a long moment, she tilted her face up, feeling his stubble graze her skin as she did so. He just looked at her, his gaze intense, and she couldn't quite take it; she closed her eyes.
She'd intended to bury her face back into his chest, but the moment her eyes shut, he moved in. His lips sought hers with shocking purpose, and she let out a small noise that melted away as he kissed her deeply. She could taste just a hint of ale that he must have had earlier that evening on his tongue, and suddenly, it struck her how incredibly bizarre and yet real this was.
He was really so much older than her. He had a lot of experience with women, she was sure of it. The way he was kissing her was making her grow light-headed with plain pleasure, but reality came grinding in at her head as she realised how far this could go.
She broke off the kiss, and clenched at fistfuls of his coat as she buried her face into his neck, willing herself to calm down. He did not say anything, but embraced her as he waited.
Finally, with tears of irritation at the corners of her eyes, Rita muttered, "I'm sorry. I'm not... ready."
"Don't be sorry, Rita." He laughed quietly in her ear, holding her closer to him. "Damn, if anythin', I should be sorry."
"I... I do want this," she said tentatively, uncertain with her choice of words.
"Good." His body relaxed, and she realised how tense he had been, waiting for her to speak. "There's no rush. We can take it slow."
"You want this too, though, right?" She pulled away from his chest to scrutinise him, and he gave her his lopsided grin.
"Rita darlin'. You're a breath of fresh air to me."
She blushed, but still kept her scrutiny up, and his grin turned to a softer smile as he reached up to her face and touched her gently.
"I've wanted it for a while, but I wasn't sure if it was such a good idea. For you, I mean. I'm sure a pretty, spirited and intelligent lass like yourself can find better suitors."
"Well, of course!" Rita blurted out, narrowing her eyes, "I mean, I am Rita Mordio, after all. But I..." Her hands refused to loosen their grip on his clothes. "...I choose you, Raven."
He kissed her so swiftly in response, she barely had time to react before he pulled away and smiled at her.
"And I thank God for that."
It really had been a moment of pure insanity, when Rita looked back on it now. That she had allowed such a development...
But as she leaned back into his arms, his chin resting lightly on the top of her head as she read her book, she marvelled at how comfortable it felt. He made remarks quite frequently, most of them either lewd or silly remarks about the book, and some useful insights about the information; he sure knew how to act annoying and lazy, but he was quite a smart man when he bothered to make the effort.
It wasn't always going to be so easy or comfortable, she knew that. There was a lot in his past and even her own that made opening up to each other difficult. But as long as they knew that this was a choice they were making, a choice they were willing to stick through thick and thin with, Rita had a feeling it would be a long journey well worth taking.
He made a juvenile comment that made her roll her eyes and try to smack him, but he caught her hand, laughing. He pressed a kiss against her palm and smiled at her.
She laughed back at him as she pulled her hand back and went back to her book.
They were going to be alright.
Author's Notes: I love Raven and Rita, but I've noticed there are a lot of fics out there that assume their relationship is already a given. I wanted to give the way it could happen a shot. I hope it works!