Chapter Two

She prodded her fingers lightly against the creamy skin of her wife's cleavage. "So then I'll just go…"

"You're not going alone."

Rikku looked up at Paine from her spot against her chest. They had yet to fall into a peaceful slumber from their long day of traveling. After getting the news of Milana's passing Rikku couldn't do much of anything and it pained Paine to see her trying so hard to be strong about it. She was sitting up in bed clad in only her underwear with her back to the headboard and her arms enveloping Rikku in a warm embrace. "What about this weekend?" The blonde reasoned.

Paine had her fifth dan examination scheduled for this weekend. She had been working hard on it the past year and Rikku knew what it meant to her.

"That's not important right now." She dismissed.

Rikku went back to resting her head against Paine's chest. "She seemed fine at the wedding…"

"It was just her time Ri." She knew that wasn't what she wanted to hear but it was all Paine had. Milana had passed away in her sleep, and that was just that. She herself knew how frustrating that was for Rikku to hear. She wanted to be upset at something, but what could she really be upset about? This was life. "She's still with you."

Rikku huffed lightly. "You're Yeonite is showing." she joked tiredly. Paine had grown up knowing the Yevon scriptures so well only because she and Gippal were made to copy with when they misbehaved. She knew that her wife thought the whole priest hood was bologna but still, it showed and contrasted to the Al Bhed's blunt way at looking at life. "We hold onto people who want nothing more than to be left alone in death…" Rikku quoted and then felt Paine hug her closer.

"Doesn't mean it hurts any less."

Rikku nodded and wiped her face and sighed again. "It hurts a whole lot Paine." Her voice was raw. "She was my favorite person y'know?"

"I know."

They remained quiet for a while. "She told me to enjoy it."


Rikku looked up at Paine again. "Before we left for home, when you were saying bye to Lulu and Wakka, she told me to enjoy this, us, muja." Rikku's face grew hot with tears pushing for release. "That was the last thing she said…to me…."

Paine leaned forward and pressed a long kiss on the side of Rikku's head. "You know what she said to me? Before that?" Rikku looked at her in question with tears staining her face already. Paine cleared her throat softly. "Ev cra kadc rind uha uv druca pmycdat lrulupu E's rumtehk oui bancuhymmo nacbuhcepma." Paine imitated Rikku's grandmother's response when she told her they planned to go chocobo riding on their honeymoon. "Then she pushed me." Rikku laughed because no one bullied Paine out of affection like Milana did. Her laughter made Paine smile but the smile disappeared when she began to cry again. Paine sighed. "Oh Ri, I'm sorry. I'm sorry Princess." Paine sighed gently wishing there was something more she could do,

Exactly an hour and a half later Paine's alarm clock went off. With a swift hand and lucky balance the older woman was able to cut it off before it woke the blonde beside her, who up until an hour ago had lain awake just staring at the wall.

She was going to go to the gym, but now that the dim light of morning crept in she wanted nothing more to just lie there until Rikku woke up. What she'd say then, she didn't know, but the feeling of being completely helpless in the situation frustrated Paine, it caused her to be restless, and that in turn caused any hope of sleep again to disappear. Although she should have been exhausted from travel and staying up all night with her wife Paine shrugged it off as just another feeling, like needing the restroom or being hungry, with the right steps it'd go away soon enough.

She slid out bed and pulled a pair of baggy sweats on before taking another glance at Rikku then heading to use the bathroom. The tiled floor was ice, even though their little love nest was well insulated from the cold January morning outside some things never really changed. Since they had been gone a week the heat had been turned off to save on money, Rikku took her flowers to her father's for keeping and she readied the mini fireplace for their return.

Paine brushed her teeth and washed her face once the tap turned warm. On the final scrub to rid her face of signs of fatigue she noticed her wedding band in the florescent bathroom lighting. For a moment she held her hands still, watching the metal ring with curiosity. She had never really thought of the symbolism behind a ring as a sign of commitment, not really until now that is. It didn't fix any little problems, Paine wasn't expecting it to. Rikku still spent unYevonly amounts of money on ridiculousness, and as she looked down from the mirror she still left toothpaste in the sink. What it did do though was made their goal that much more evident. It made their commitment strong and it gave way for new opportunities to grow.

Paine liked the way it looked on her hand like that; it was probably the best reminder of her reasons. Everything she did now was for them. Even though that's how she thought before to some respects, standing there in the chill room and staring at her reflection gave her direction.

She left the bathroom and ventured into the dark living area then the kitchen. First things first if she were to be anyone's wife properly she needed a cup of coffee in her. By passing the fancy cappuccino maker Rikku brought her one year for her sturdy old coffee maker she purchased when she first moved in Paine realized she was glad they were back in New Luca. All the Calm Lands had was tea, and tea was fine when you only had to lounge about with your half naked wife, but being in the city again meant there were things to be done and that required something stronger. With a little smile she noticed that the timer was already set for her usual morning brew.

Where Rikku found the time was beyond her.

Paine scoured the cabinets and then opened the emptied fridge. She expected there to be nothing but when she literally found nothing she mumbled under her breath and headed into the bedroom to get dressed. Her wife was getting a breakfast this morning and that was that.

Paine quickly found some jeans and a hoody to throw on under leather jacket and a beanie. She grabbed her wallet and was on her way out the door when she heard Rikku cough quietly.

The trainer stilled herself at the threshold and then turned around. "You awake?" She asked the dark room.

Rikku rolled over in a half sleep and rubbed one eye. "E fycrat ouin dransym." She rasped before closing her eyes again.

It took Paine a second to realize that she thought she was going to the gym like she usually did in the morning, and that the laundry Rikku had done before the wedding mainly consisted of her things. Realizing that she must have really been in a half sleep Paine thought to make the hazy morning as mundane as possible before the blonde woke up and remembered.

Knowing that her wife loved being loved Paine put her wallet down upon the nightstand and leaned onto the bed. "Thank you baby." She whispered before kissing Rikku on the cheek. In her sleep Rikku snuggled up to her blankets and made a small content noise.

Not even a half hour later Rikku woke to a quiet apartment. The dream she had had soon was a distant memory she couldn't quite recall. Her head hurt, her stomach was empty, and there was that lump in the back of her throat that reminded her of one thing.


Her grandmother was gone.

The blonde lay in bed feeling more alone than she ever had in a while.

She began to cry.

Knowing that no one was here to see it, not even Paine. Rikku Milan Bayla-Kerrigan just laid there and let herself cry. It wasn't hysterical crying, nor was it the type you could hear; it was the quiet cry for the cruel nature of life. It was the child in her crying because it wasn't fair, because she could remember warm days and cool nights of her childhood spent perched on Milana's lap, sharing a knee with her cousin listening to her knyhtsy chuckle about her youth. The early memories were fuzzy, but she remembered the tall figure in the chair beside her, Kirill at his feet, her Knyhtbub.

She would see them exchange looks, smile, and then continue the tale.

For years she had wondered if that's what love was. Telling tales and smiling from across the room, like life was just this big inside joke only two could share.

That was a long time ago though.

A small bit of bitterness hit her tongue, and she vainly prayed that Yevon bring them together in death. Reality though soon set in and she sighed at her childishness. Her knyhtsy was an old lady. After you lived, you died. Rikku knew this, she accepted it, and in a long time she knew she would come to grips, but right now as she rolled over in the soft sheets of her warm bed she let the tears roll down her face and kiss the sides of her ears before staining the pillow.


Rikku looked up from the tea kettle. Paine had just entered the apartment with her keys in her right hand and a tall brown paper bag from the market down the street secured in her left. She looked a little surprised. "Pypo." She greeted quietly.

Paine removed her shoes from her feet and pulled her maroon beanie off her head. A survey of the small living slash dining area told her that Rikku had been up, but not long.

Over the years she eventually acquired enough furniture to make the apartment seem habitable. The small living room held a loveseat with two decorative pillows Rikku changed every season, and a throw. Then a wooden coffee table cluttered with all types of Paine's things and a magazine or two of Rikku's. The wall closest to the front door held the space where her stand up piano sat; on top of that a few picture frames. It was homey which was nice, but the thought of moving somewhere bigger was increasing becoming appealing to the Judo fighter. Rikku was standing in the kitchen and it was almost lost to her but Paine noticed a blouse and slacks set aside near the four seated impulse buy glass dining table.

She found a spot and placed the grocery bag down on the table before beginning to take off her layers. "Why are you awake?"

Rikku brought the warm cup to her bottom lip and blew gingerly before taking a sip. "I thought you went to the gym."

She shook her head no once she got down to a blue long sleeve shirt. "I went to get you breakfast." She motioned to the brown paper bag before going into the kitchen and leaning across from Rikku on the opposite counter.

Despite her mood Rikku lifted a weak smile. "Are you worried I'll push you away?"

Paine mentally smiled and stood from leaning on the counter. "A little." She rubbed at Rikku's arm before leaning in and kissing her on the lips. "Morning."

Rikku sighed against Paine's presence. "Did you sleep?"


"Me either."

"You wanna talk about it?"

"What can I say?" Paine shrugged gently. "I feel crumby…I don't wanna go."

"You'll hate yourself if you don't." Rikku nodded and took another sip of her tea. Paine moved and opened the blinds when she realized they were practically standing and talking in the dark. The kitchen was cast a pale winter blue and for a moment she just stared at the blanketed street below for a moment before turning to find Rikku examining her clothes she laid out not too long ago. "You're going to work?"

The blonde nodded. "I should."

"I thought we'd say we'd take today off…"

"What am I supposed to do all day?" Rikku asked gently. "Sit here and think and be all sappy?"

Paine put her hand in her pockets. She had a point there. "I just don't want you hiding behind work." She went into the kitchen and started to make Rikku breakfast when she realized the blonde had already made up her mind. "You'll stay for breakfast though."

Rikku turned and nodded. "Thank you." It was times like these when she really appreciated how well Paine knew her, "I love you y'know?" She thought to add when she realized Paine wasn't working today at all. It would have been a day for them to relax and go out and be together under any other circumstance.

Paine looked up from trying to decide how many eggs to scramble. She flashed Rikku a reassuring smile. "I'm aware Princess." She grabbed four eggs and set them aside.

"Are you making me eggs?"

"Yeah, with mushrooms and spinach and tomatoes."

"Are you making yourself eggs too?"

Paine nodded.

"How cold is it outside?"

"Pretty decent."

Rikku busied herself with fretting over the weather and what to wear until Paine was done cooking. She didn't know what to say to Paine really, it was odd since conversation or silence was never awkward between the two. Rikku could tell that Paine was worried; more over that she didn't know what to do with that worry. A year ago she fractured her wrist while at the beach when her brother was in town. She had never seen Paine so worried even after the doctors told her it was okay and she'd be fine. This wasn't a fractured wrist or anything, not in the least bit, but still, seeing Paine so torn on what to do made her torn on what to do too. Were they meant to talk about the weather all morning?

Rikku just opted for silence.

After a quiet meal of Rikku watching her food and Paine watching Rikku the blonde had had enough. "I'm not going to drive my car into a ditch." She blurted out causing Paine to laugh a little despite the serious connotation.

"I'm worried, give me a fucking break."

Rikku glanced at the time. "You're starting early."

Paine shrugged. "Give me a fudging break."

"Don't worry about me."

"I'm your wife." Little smiles crossed their faces when they both realized it.

Rikku sighed at her when her smile fell. "Will you pick me up from Yunie's later tonight? I have to go over there."

Paine nodded. "Of course, what time?"


"Do you think we'll have enough time to pack and stuff?"

"Well, I was going to let you handle all that, since I'm grieving." Rikku nodded pointedly as she spread some butter on her bread.

Paine smiled a little. "Fine."

A silence fell over them again and Paine could tell it was just another memory that went on. "What?" She pushed wondering if talking about it would help in the slightest.

"Knyhtsy, she probably had stuff getting ready to cook for the next day." Imagine starting a recipe you never would get to finish. Rikku sighed and shook her head at herself when images of bread dough and marinated meats came up.

"What did your brother say?"

"I didn't get a chance to talk to him yet, but Pops said that he found her the next morning and that was that."

"I may sound like a complete ass—"

"Paine Kerrigan you watch it." Rikku warned with no threat behind it causing Paine to smile a little.

"Out of all the million and one thousand ways to go babe, I think she got the most peaceful you could ask for."

Rikku thought about that on her car drive to work. Paine was right, but she hated when Paine was right sometimes, because in Paine being right it meant that some of the behaviors she wanted to regress to would just be completely ridiculous.

Just then the quiet pop morning show she seldom listened to was replaced with the loud ringing of her cell. Rikku pressed a button on the steering wheel and smiled instantly. "You left it on the table."

Paine scratched the back of her head. "No I'm looking at the table, its' not on the table."

"The table in the living room."

"We don't have a table in our living room."

"The coffee table." The line was quiet. "Did you find it?"

"That's not a table." Paine grumbled as she opened her wallet to reach for the judo dojo card to cancel her exam for the weekend.

"It is."


"What are you doing?"

Paine decided that making her wife laugh today was going to be her mission. "Getting the tanning place number I got earlier."

"What tanning place numbe—Paine!"

Paine smirked. "You don't think we'd match?"

"I swear if I come home and you're orange…" She wouldn't put it past Paine to do something like that just to make her smile now that she thought about it, and it was with that thought that she got what Paine was doing. "I miss you."

"Come home."

"Give me a few hours." She needed time to clear her head.


"Do you miss me?"

Paine smiled. "Huh?"

"I asked if you missed your wife?"

"Why you gotta pull the wife card?"

"Because it's relevant."

"Of course I miss you." Paine thought for a moment. "I think I'm gonna sleep till you come back." She was still jet lagged from the trip home from the Calm Lands and seeing as how they needed to be up and out again tomorrow morning sleep was something she knew she would need.

"Pypo can you please handle the flight?"

"Yeah I got it, is Yuna flying with us?"

Rikku sighed. "I'll find out and tell her to call you?"




Rikku bit her lip. "I know that the timing isn't—"

Paine smiled. "I married you forever; I have all the time in the world."

Rikku smiled. "Bye."


Rikku hung up with the press of a button and hit the speed dial on her phone to get to another. She waited as the phone rang and the light refused to turn green.

"Hey." Came a sympathetic tone.

"Hey Yunie." Rikku sighed. "You book a flight yet?"

"Do we all need to be there?" Yuna asked tiredly. "I mean I know it sounds horrible but I literally have no tears left for this.." Between the warm and fuzzy emotions of her cousin getting married, to the raw ones of seeing Tidus for the first time in two years at the wedding, and now with sad little lump in her throat from hearing about her grandmother had Yuna on auto pilot because if she wasn't she'd be crying at just about everything she saw.

"I kept Paine up all night."

Yuna smiled faintly. "How are you?"


"How was the honeymoon?" They hadn't gotten a chance to talk about it last night when they got the news and it was important not to down play such a special happening.

Rikku sighed as she waited at a red light before getting on the highway. "Lovely."

Yuna shook her head. "Timing is everything."

Rikku smiled at her little joke. "Say it aint so."

"Did you book tickets yet? Is Paine coming?"

"She's booking them this afternoon, and yeah she is, to be honest I don't think I can do it without her." Rikku shrugged as the light turned green. "Can't believe we're married still…"

"I'm happy for you two."

"Thanks Yunz." Rikku reflected on her tone. "I'm happy, I am…it's just…"

"I get it."

"….How are you?"

Yuna inhaled deeply and looked at the samples before her on her desk. "Oh you know." She had been at work for the past two hours. "I think workaholics run in the Shaw DNA." She had grown fed up to having to answer to anyone and now was in the slow and time consuming process of building her own fashion label with Lulu D'Autry.

Alex Shaw was the name they had come up with, taken from Lulu's middle name Alexandria and Yuna's last name Shaw. The line was still in the major planning stages, but now that both women were devoting all their time things were moving faster than they thought.

"Double dosage since you're a Bayla too….Is Uncle B coming?"

"He's supposed to be but you know he's been very consumed by something at work lately. Some secretive thing…" Yuna shrugged. When wasn't he? "Do you want to meet you at the airport?"

"Yeah call Paine this afternoon?"

"Will do."

"How was…"

Yuna glanced up at Lulu who had just gotten in, she was holding a little toy car today. Vidina always gave her a toy before she left the house and Lulu would always sneak it back home to rejoin the rotation. "I'd better go, Lulu's here and we have to brief for a pitch we have with some manufactory."

"Are you really trying to avoid talking about Teedus?"


Rikku nodded. "Have a nice day then."

"Love you, bye."

"Love you too Yunz. Poa."


"You think you'd sneak in here huh? Not a word, not a hi, yo, hello, nothing?"

Rikku looked up from her work bench slash desk and actually smiled. "You mad I made it in before you?"

"You aren't even supposed to be in here today!"

Rikku raised a brow.

Lucil Marsh stood three inches taller than Rikku with auburn hair that reminded Rikku of wine. Her heart shaped face and wrinkling smile made her an easy beauty. The daughter of a Crusader Commander Lucil had traveled all over in her 25 years on Spira and seeing the world only made her want to travel more. Currently though, New Luca was where she was resting her hat.

"Why are you here Junior?" Lucil straighten out her blouse and laughed before entering the small office and closing the door behind her. She plopped herself down on one of the stiff chairs they put in all the entry level offices and crossed her legs before taking a moment to just observe Rikku for a second before saying anything. Something was off, though she couldn't quite put her finger on what exactly. "Sooo?"

Rikku had to laugh at her goofy tone. "So what?" She asked as she continued to work. Looking up would only feed into her games.

"So did you even get to see The Calm Lands? or were you two shacked up all day?"

"We did a lot of traveling actually." And they had, between Gagazet, the Macalania woods, chocobo riding and the sort Rikku really enjoyed herself, and then there was all the affection, Paine had been so attentive and Rikku knew she had an amazing time too, it was just that she couldn't readily feel that right now. It made her sad to think that, but her body was just dealing with things as they came.

"Traveling?" Lucil raised a brow. "Traveling?" She asked again.

Rikku nodded. "What do you want me to say?"

"Did you take pictures?"

Rikku shrugged. "Some."

Lucil uncrossed her legs and leaned forward a bit. "Alright Junior, what's up? You couldn't wait to leave this place, the wedding was beautiful, I about cried. I mean…." She changed her tone to that of a whisper. "Did you two fight?"

Rikku finally looked up from her work with a small laugh. "No, it was incredible, something just came up…my grandmother passed away the night before last and we're going to Send her this weekend." Saying it aloud for the first time caused a bit of moisture in her eyes she quickly wicked away as she looked back down at her work.

Lucil's usually animated face grew sympathetic. She could see that everything was still raw so she gave the blonde a moment. "Oh Ri… You two were close."

Rikku nodded. "Very."

Lucil sat back in her seat seemingly taking it all in. "That's crumby timing…"

Rikku actually laughed but then shook her head. Why was she laughing? Maybe she was losing her mind…

"I know, I got the call when we got in yesterday and it wasn't like she was in pain or anything she…she just didn't wake up you know?" Rikku tried to shrug herself into believing that that was just that and now that she were an adult and part of being an adult was dealing with these things like adults.

Lucil had known and been very close friends with Rikku now for about four years. Ever since orientation that summer day they had worked side by side. Pulling all nighters, all dayers and even the occasional all weeker. She had a strong sense of self and motivation and that's why the two became friends, they wanted to do the best possible at what they did. Along with that came a friendly rivalry like no other. Sometimes Lucil took to teasingly calling Rikku Junior because she was second of their grad class under her and Lucil knew it made the blonde fight harder, and with that fight they were both able to excel. Lucil was more logical, Rikku was clearly the artist and together they easily breezed through group projects while in school. Here at Leonardi Inc. they were both offered the same entry level job. It was their little game to see who would climb the latter faster, and though at times from an outsiders view in they seemed cut throat toward one another, it really was just a deep bond that came from sharing cubical space for two very long, very sleepless years.

Lucil considered Rikku one of her best friends, and vice versa. It's what made seeing the blonde so un-Rikku made her a little sad. This was supposed to be a happy time for her and Paine. Rikku never really got too specific but she had learned that they had gotten off to a very untraditional start, and that's why being a part of the wedding party touched Lucil. It was such a special thing to see people so in love. It seemed like the couple seldom caught a break though.

"Well it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt."

Rikku nodded having already heard this it didn't have the effect she waited for. "You sound like Paine."

"One smart lady you bagged there."

Rikku glanced at the picture of her and Paine embracing on her desk. She was lucky and she knew it. "She's been so supportive."

"Well you're married now so that's kind of the tune."

"She's amazing." Rikku sighed and looked back to her work. "Anyway I came in because I couldn't stay home, this morning I nearly cried at the sight of butter and I don't want my new wife to think I'm completely nuts so…"

"Just came in for some you-time?"

Rikku lifted the portfolio on her desk. "I don't think this counts as me-time, but it keeps my mind off things I guess."

Lucil nodded and stretched her legs out a bit. "How long are you in for?"

"A few hours max."

"Do you want to see the new contract for the Marq building? William dropped it on your desk for you on Monday but I uh, took the liberty of sneaking a peek." She stood. "This one is a monster."

Rikku sat back in her stock issued office rolly chair. "Marqcus Nowelle? The Yevonite?" She remembered hearing about his crusade to bring New Yevon back into the teachings of inner city schools a year back.

Lucil chuckled. "I wonder what will happen if he finds out the world's biggest Al Bhed is decorating his speaking hall."

Rikku chuckled at the irony. "Should we tell William?" Not that he overzealous boss would care really; as long as the job got done he was happy.

"No way." Lucil made her way to the door. "You want to come check out the foundation? I hear a museum stands there now."

Rikku stood from her desk. Something about the quiet halls of untouched artifact as opposed to her tiny office seemed appealing. "They are taking down a museum for that poopyhead?"

"Well it was a Yevonite museum…"

"Oh." Rikku chuckled at the expression Lucil shot her. "I'll meet you downstairs." She had to grab a few things first.

"Sound good." Lucil paused before the door. "Hey Junior?"

Rikku looked up.

"If there's a will….."

Rikku rolled her eyes with a little smile. "There's a way." If she had a dime for the amount of times Lucil said that she'd be filthy rich.

"That's right." Lucil grinned before slipping away and closing the door behind her.

As annoying and cheesy as it was after four years Rikku appreciated it every time. If she could conceive an idea, or a want or a goal, it was hers. This mentality was what helped when she thought nothing else would.


She was about to reach for the conference room door when her cell phone began to buzz. Taking a moment to check the time Paine stepped aside to answer it. "Kerrigan."

"Pypo it's me."

"I know." Paine glanced at the time again and decided to slip into a stairwell right beside her to take the call. "Are you alright?"

"I just wanted to let you know that I'm going downtown with Lucil to look at a new building, are you sleeping? I thought we could meet somewhere here after."

"I couldn't sleep." Paine admitted restlessly. "Yuna called me, I did that, we leave tomorrow morning, bags are packed, so I came into work to hold a meeting real quick to see where I need to be for Monday."

"You're at work? Fryd yna oui tuehk? Oui haat du nacd!."

"I could say the same thing to you."


"Where do you want to meet?"

"The park?"

Paine smiled. "Central."

"Around 4ish?"

"Yeah I'll be done by then."


"Bye Rikks."

"Bye Pai."


"I heard she got married." Chuck whispered before reaching for his cup of coffee.

The meeting room in the athletics department at BridgePort Studios was filled to capacity. Which in all actuality was about seven people or so including Paine. Paine however was still on her way up for the trainer's morning meeting she liked to have every day or so to get a better idea on what everyone was up to.

Paine had never considered herself a terribly shy person. I mean she did teach two large classes for the majority of her college career. Being Senior Trainer wasn't as scary as she thought it would be. Everyone kind of already held a healthy amount of fear and respect for her, that and her unquestionable results with clients made everyone realize she was all business. It left little room for social interactions beyond the norms with her crew. Paine didn't think it was a smart idea to be besties with anyone that she had to command. It did leave an air of mystery about her to everyone around her. All the trainers liked her as a boss, she got shit done, but seldom knew much about her personal life. So when Paine decided to take a week off for her honeymoon everyone was shocked. They didn't even know she was engaged seeing as how she wore her engagement ring around her neck when she went to work to keep from damaging it. She was the only one with keys to her office besides the Bridgeport owners, so it wasn't even like they could sneak in there and look at the three picture frames she had on her desk facing her chair.

One of Rikku, herself, Vidina, and Lulu at one of Wakka's Blitz games.

Another of just her and Rikku at the port going out for dinner a year ago.

The last of little Mackenzie in her first Judo belt of the junior league.

Annie, one of the trainers on staff had probably the biggest crush on her boss, and she had always wondered why her subtle advances were never returned. Needless to say the idea of Paine being taken annoyed her, but she liked her job, and besides being hot Paine was an awesome boss.

"We'll see." Annie shrugged at Chuck's comment.

"Someone should just ask her how the honeymoon went." Eddie, a beefy Kilickan with short black hair shrugged too. "She's either gonna say yes or no…"

"He's onto something." Zen, an older trainer in charge of alternative medicine nodded,

"I mean doesn't she seem a little young to be getting married?" Annie asked the room.

Chuck laughed. "You're just pissed it aint you."

Annie shrugged. "Well so?"

The room laughed but that all died down when Paine entered clad in black yoga pants that stopped mid shin and a deep red form fitting top with her dark gray thermal half zipped down now that she was in doors. Everyone straightened up a little and watched as she took the seat at the head of the small egg shaped table. She slipped her cell phone into her pocket and cleared her throat.

Paine got into a zone whenever she got to work. She was focused and it showed in her work and results. It's why she had moved up to Senior Trainer in only four years of working here. She loved her job, she really couldn't see herself doing anything else if she were honest. She always knew she liked training herself, and then working at NLU taught her she actually sort of enjoyed the challenge of training others. It was the one field where you didn't have to be all smiley if you didn't want to.

"How was the honeymoon?" Annie asked with a smile.

Paine looked up from the leather bound agenda Rikku got her when she was promoted last summer. She wasn't stupid, she knew Annie Cortellano had a little thing for her, and she was an attractive enough woman; running about in the workout clothes they did showed that off a little more than in other professions, but Paine had realized a while back that Rikku's personality had spoiled her for anyone else. She expected all women to be as multi dimensional as her wife, be as goofy and as passionate, be as beautiful and as talented. Annie wasn't her type because Rikku was her type. It was an odd thing to realize and in the beginning Paine didn't know how she felt about it. Rikku hardly liked the idea that she had admirers, Paine found ti amusing since the territorial thing was more her style than Rikku's.

"It was nice."

"Where'd you go?" Zen asked.

"Calm Lands."


Paine nodded.

"How long have you two been together?" Chuck asked.

"Five years."

"Does she have a name?" Leon, another trainer who was second in command after Paine asked. He worked with Paine the most when it came to planning but Paine was such a private person. They all knew she had a girlfriend, it wasn't like Paine didn't talk to them, it was just that somehow no one realized how little they knew about her until she was taking off a week to get married.

Paine chuckled and glanced at her wedding band. "Rikku. Anything else?"

"She hot?" Chuck asked.

Paine shrugged. "Well I married her didn't I?" The room laughed and some of the male trainers hooted. "Alright alright, business now okay? Let's start with the weigh ins from when I was gone, whose actually making progress with water exercises? Chuck?"


Paine's office was like one of those tiny shoe box private investigator offices you saw in the movies. It had a decent sized window which overlooked the parking garage and some nearby shopping complexes. It had a desk, two chairs that were semi comfortable, and a computer from the last generations of technology. You walked in and Paine's neat desk was to your right and then the semi comfortable chairs to your left. She had seen Rikku's office and her wife had it good compared to this thing. It didn't matter though. It was hers and it brought along a very small sense of pride that she were actually able to get something not everyone could get. All the other trainers had a locker room and a common area, hardly anything to really go crazy about, yet still.

It was around one in the afternoon and she was leaning back in her chair on the phone to schedule another work out session with a client she had been with since day one.

"You're being lazy."

"I'm tired ya? You try and run 'round with this little guy all day den go do laps wit duh team. I don't know how Lu does it!"

"Thought you were a champ?" The Luca Goers had been last season's champions, the year before that the Psyches, the year before that the Goers, and the year before the Psyches. Rikku joked that by she and Paine being together they had single handedly started one of the fiercest blitz rivals in a while, all through their connections with the teams.

"Not on Tuesday's ya?"

"Fine, we'll have to schedule something when Rikku and I get back," Paine moved the mouse on her computer to open up a scheduling system they used at Bridgeport. "How's your knee?"

"Forget about my knee, how's Rikku?"

Paine sighed. "She's working." She knew so because that's exactly what she said when Paine called to check up on her before hanging up. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do…"

"Eh welcome to da married people club ya?" Wakka was going through something similar. It was the one thing they couldn't talk about though.

Paine sighed. She really wondered if there was something she should be doing right now that she wasn't. She was a wife right? Didn't she have duties now? Especially when she knew Rikku was hurting. "I guess being there is all I can do."

Wakka nodded. "Not exactly da best timing ya?"

"No not really, but its fine y'know." Paine shrugged. She wasn't about to wish Milana passed away at a different time just for her own gain. She and Rikku had never been closer, it's just with the new closeness comes new insight into what the other was thinking. Paine didn't want Rikku to drown herself with work just so she didn't have to deal. It was like drugs or some other vice…

She had to pick a day to go to her meetings.

Once the medication was gone, the time with Martha, the specialists, once that was all gone Paine had a moment, she had a moment where she was just so scared that now there was nothing at all to catch her, she would not and could not put it on her wife, their relationship had been about that enough. So for the last three years Paine had set a time and a day out of every week to show up to a group and just try and absorb it all.

It was scary how it never really went away, not really.

Some days she was just more hypersensitive than others, but for the most part she could go on living a healthy life. She still got tiny headaches here and there, but not more so than other people; it was just that Paine knew what it was from. The cliché about everyday being easier was true in some respects. She hadn't been around anyone from her past besides Gippal in a long time and that was important, but then also along with working and really cultivating relationships with people in her family was what made it most rewarding.

A random smile creased her features.

She married Rikku last week.


Paine cleared her throat. "Yeah, so you wanna plan something for next week?"

"Yeah we'll spar or somethin' ya?"

"Yeah sounds good, where is Vid?"

Wakka chuckled at his three and three quarters year old son sleeping sloppily on the couch. "He's out cold."

"We should all do something when we come back. It'll cheer Rikku up some."

"Yeah yeah, I'll tell Lu." Wakka's schedule was rather open in the cold off season. "Aye um…you speak to Yuna any?"

"Since we've been back?"


"No, why?"

"Tidus is askin' 'bout her."

Paine rolled her eyes. "Why doesn't he just fucking call her?" What were they in kindergarten?

"Dat's what I been tellin' him to do!" Wakka shot a glance at Vidina who seemed to be used to his loud voice and was still fast asleep clutching a toy he had been playing with only moments before.

"I don't like to get involved." And she didn't. This thing with Tidus and Yuna. They were able to be friends for a while there and then something came out that Tidus was apparently the Abe's number one player for a reason which the blonde claimed wasn't true at all. Paine actually believed him, but the damage was already done to whatever thing they were holding onto. Paine had no idea how things blew over with the wedding, but like she said before she didn't like to get involved unless she really had to, she usually let Rikku handle this never ending saga. Paine knew Yuna was hurt, but she was holding herself together last she heard. Tidus well, Wakka said he was having a hard time adjusting to fame, them holding onto one another was probably the worst idea in Paine's eyes, but again, she didn't like to get involved.

Paine scratched at the back of her head when she caught sight of the time. "Gotta meet Rikku soon."

"We'll talk later." Wakka nodded. Now that he and Paine were brother and sister in law officially their relationship had grown into something resembling siblings. They shared a lot without really saying much.



It was already pretty misty and dark. The grass was wet and the blanched patches of snow made it difficult for anyone to really enjoy Central Park, at least anyone but Paine and Rikku for this was their spot. Standing before the small pond where they had their first kiss those many years ago. Rikku was wrapped in her scarf and knit cap while Paine stood alone in her leather jacket and beanie beside her.

Rikku had arrived a few minutes ago to her wife just standing there and staring. She stuffed her hands into her red coat and stood beside her without a word. It was strange how just her tall beauty's presence calmed Rikku like nothing else.

"You must be cold." Rikku noted with a glance to her right. Paine was looking at something on the icy water until now.

"I have my thermal on under."

Rikku watched as she turned back on the water. "..Are you sure you want to come?"

Paine looked to her then. Their eyes met and that's when Paine extended her left arm and Rikku snuggled up under it and wrapped her arms around Paine's slim torso. "Shut up." She mumbled quietly.

Rikku exhaled and watched her breath escape before her, she couldn't find Paine's scent in the cold outdoors but she could feel the warmth her body radiated. It felt nice against her cheek and reminded her of The Calm Lands.

"What do you need me to do?" Paine asked softly without looking to her side. She had given up guessing all day and just needed to know.

Rikku glanced up at her. "Just don't let go…even if I want you to."

Paine looked down at her. "Never."

"I missed you today." Rikku admitted. Paine hesitated briefly before leaning the small distance between them and pressing a gentle kiss on her cold lips. Rikku leaned into it, because for the last twenty-four hours it made her feel more than everything she had tried to do to ease her mind. "Does that mean you missed me too?" The blonde whispered not being able to help the little smile at the corner of her mouth.

Paine nodded and rested her forehead gently against the blonde's "I missed my wife, yeah." She whispered back. Rikku smiled lightly and tip toed a step to kiss her this time.

"We're married." Rikku smiled after it simply trading in her worries for staring up at Paine's warm eyes.

Paine nodded as she snaked her arms around Rikku's body. "We're married."

She was sad, but the truth in all honesty was that with Paine she could feel nothing but love….the love she had promised Milana she would enjoy. No doubt Home would be taxing on her, and she'd most likely push at the woman who had her arms wrapped around her so surely, but Rikku knew that getting on one knee and asking Paine to marry her had been one of the best things she could have done because she couldn't just do this life thing with anyone. No, that placed had always been reserved.

She was that the more certain with every kiss.

AN: Hey everyone, sorry for the long update, I really intended to have this done sooner. Anyway what do you all think? Are you sad? happy? mad? Tell meeee. We'll see some very familiar faces soon so review so I feel bad about not updating faster lol.