Chapter 3: Traitors of Yevon

As far as days go, This was not a good day for a certain spunky blonde Al Bhed. Seeing your home blow up followed by witnessing the world's most vomit inducing kiss between a dear friend and a bloody zombie was a damper for the spirits. Add to that the fact that she was now stuck in a cell, imprisoned due to the ridiculous lies spun by the so called rulers of Spira and you had a recipe for a very antsy and ticked off Rikku. Green eyes bright as jade glared at the walls trapping her, vowing that when she bust out of here, Maester Seymour was going to get a couple of bombs dropped into his pants. With a huff she spun and turned pleading eyes to the cell's other occupant.

"Lulu! We gotta bust outta here! No way they're gonna let us just walk away you know."

The black mage leaned against the wall, arms crossed over her chest. "Breaking out would only put Yuna further at risk."

Rikku sagged against the wall. "So what do we do now?"

Lulu's voice was as calm and collected as always as though she were talking about the weather and not their imminent death. "We wait."

"That's it?" Rikku shook her head; tiny feather tipped braids swinging.
Eyebrow sharply arching, Lulu gestured to their current situation with a sweep of her sleeve. "Do you have a better suggestion?"

"No...But at least I'm working on it!" Bouncing back up, the petite blonde walked to the door of the cell and began running her hands along the smooth surface. "If I still had my lock picks I could bust us out of here easy."

Rikku paused, bright green eyes slowly turning to the sombre woman leaning against the wall. Lulu's eyes darted to the younger girl, noting the way those jade orbs seemed to be sparkling with excitement.

"Say...Lulu...?" Rikku began, one hand still placed on the door, the other reaching out to the black mage. "Hand me one of your hairpins?"

Lulu reached up and slowly drew out one of her pins from her tight bun. "Will this work?" She inquired as she handed the beaded pin to her fellow guardian.

Rikku flashed a bright smile. "Just leave it to me!"

Lulu nodded and resumed waiting and thinking. Her thoughts drifting to her other companions. Yuna, Wakka, Tidus, Kimahri...Auron. They were most likely in the same situation as she and Rikku now found themselves in. She heard a sharp click and Rikku's quick intake of breath. Dark eyes flicked to the crouching thief.

"Umm..." Rikku hesitated before slowly showing Lulu the broken pin in her hand. "Sorry."

Lulu shook her head. "It's alright. It was worth the try."

The younger girl smiled up at the tall black mage. "Thanks Lulu."

The two women resumed being lost in their own respective thoughts for a time. Rikku occasionally pacing back and forth, Lulu unmoving. Finally, as Rikku settled on the floor of the cell, legs tucked beneath her, the silence was broken by an abrupt question.

"Are you in love with Wakka?"

Lulu started, jolted out of her reverie. "That's an odd question."

Rikku shook her head. "Sorry. Was just curious."

Lulu shook her head, arms uncrossing to brush her sides as she rested her palms against the wall. "I think you have been listening to Tidus too much."

"Hey, don't think you can get away so easy. Are you or aren't you?"

Dark eyes met twinkling green. "I was in love with his brother. Chappu. Does that answer your question?"

Rikku scratched her cheek with one gloved finger. "Guess that makes it kinda difficult..." she trailed, Lulu's answer giving her pause for thought.

"Love is rarely easy."

Rikku sighed, leaning her head back against the wall. "You know Lulu; sometimes you're about as cheerful as Sir Auron, only not as mean."

A smile tugged at the corners of Lulu's lips. "Hm."

The tiny sparkle that flashed briefly in garnet eyes was not lost on the young Al Bhed and her eyes widened in surprise. "Oh...of course. You and Sir Auron...well that makes sense." She nodded to herself.

When Lulu only offered a blank stare in response, the tiny blonde waved her hands about to clarify.

"You like Sir Auron."

Lulu's arms crossed over her chest once more. "Of course I do. Sir Auron is a well-respected man and a legendary guardian. They're aren't many people who do not like him."

"Don't worry Lulu. Your secret's safe with me." Rikku chirped with a wink.

Lulu merely raised a hand to her forehead and shook her head slightly. She needed to rest. Her head was starting to hurt from staring at the same walls for so long. She closed her eyes for only a moment it seemed before the door was flung open and the guards of the Bevelle temple, warrior monks like Sir Auron had once been, escorted them out of the cell to receive their punishment.

She protested when the guards lead Rikku to a separate chamber, not trusting their reasons for splitting everyone up. Her objections only served to give her a blow to the back of the head. A demand for silence. She was a traitor after all. As her vision began to blur and swim, she felt hands on her arms forcing her to move forward. Her feet dragged as she was prodded along. Vaguely she thought she heard a voice she recognized nearby. She squinted as the grip on her arms lessened. A blur of red and then she was falling. Her mind lost in the realm of unconsciousness.

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She didn't want to open her eyes, fearful of the fate that would await her. Her head throbbed from the blow she had received and her body felt warm. She was lying down and as she let her head loll to the side she noted that she had slept on far harder surfaces in her life. Something moved beneath her and for a brief moment she thought she felt the brush of skin against her neck. Like the feel of someone's fingertips...

Her eyes flew open at this realization. Seeing a face looming close to hers in the darkness, her hand flew out automatically to slap the person invading her personal space. There was an audible smack as her hand whipped across the man's face, her palm burning with the force of the blow. She heard a surprised grunt and something metallic skidding across stone before her wrist was seized firmly.

"Lulu!"

She blinked, dark bangs scattered across her face, obscuring her view but she recognized that voice. Slowly, the tension eased out of her muscles.

"Sir Auron?" She asked uncertainly, one hand reaching up to sweep her bangs back to one side.

His gloved hand was rubbing the side of his face that stung from Lulu's blow; a frown creased his brows. "Now I know how Luzzu must have felt." He grunted.

Lulu's face blanched. She had just struck a fellow guardian. Not only that, the legendary guardian, Sir Auron! She swallowed, bowing her head, feeling foolish for overreacting.

"Sir Auron, I apo-"

She was cut off by his voice in the darkness. "You were injured."

Frowning she nodded, yes. It was true; the guards had struck her. Auron's bare hand reached out, gently touching her temple. His fingertips barely brushing past ebon bangs and skirting carefully over the bruise that was forming. With this almost tender gesture came the awareness of his proximity. She could feel his breath on her face in the dark and barely make out the outline of his face inches from hers. Realization dawned quickly; he had seen her injured... He had been the blur of red she had glimpsed before being lost to the darkness. She shifted self-consciously. She had been lying down, her head in his lap and now was sitting up between his legs, which she felt on either side of her body. His left leg was supporting her back.

"The others?" She questioned quietly, wondering if they were nearby as well only veiled in the shadows.

She felt him shake his head. "I do not know."

Unable to bear the darkness any longer she whispered the incantation to a spell quickly. Light flooded the corridor they found themselves in, a flickering ball of fire in Lulu's palm casting dancing shadows along the stone walls. She turned to her companion, frowning in confusion.

"Where are we?"

Auron's eye squinted in the sudden light. "Via Purifico. We were sentenced to die here."

He spoke it with such calm, hardly panicked that Lulu felt there was no need to worry. They were both skilled, surely they could fight their way through anything. If they had what it took to go against Sin then surely a couple of fiends would pose no threat. How fortunate she was to have not fallen in here alone.

Dark eyes took in Auron.

He sat there, one hand resting on the knee at her back, his sunglasses gone, tossed to the side by Lulu's slap, and curiously without his thick collar or -Lulu noted in surprise- his crimson yukata.

In response to the silent query in her eyes he nodded in her direction. Lulu glanced down. His robe lay over her lap serving as a warm blanket in the chill stone corridor and his collar was draped over his leg and had no doubt served as her pillow for while she was unconscious. She turned back to him about to offer her thanks but was silenced once again by his low voice speaking first.

"I would not have you die in this place." Was all the explanation he would offer as he finally stood to retrieve his fallen eyewear.

Lulu lifted the crimson fabric sprawled over her lap, the beads sewn onto the golden shoulder plate tinkling softly. She brought the fabric to her lips and closed her eyes. It had been a long time since she felt this warmth in her heart. The touched feeling one gets when someone does something selfless for your benefit. Her eyes opened to fix on his back. He stood towards the end of the corridor they were sheltered in, his blade resting on the back of his shoulders. His posture was one of the alert warrior. And yet, she had never seen him look so exposed. Without the trappings of cloak and collar he was more the image of a younger Auron that she had glimpsed in spheres made by Sir Jecht. She had to admit to herself, the image was pleasant. She stood slowly, the crimson coat still clutched in her hands and let out a soft chuckle.

Auron glanced over his shoulder at the delicate sound, one eyebrow raised in question.

She shook her head, beaded braids shifting against her back and raised a hand to touch her temple. "My thoughts surprised me." She smiled slightly, hoping it would reassure him that she was quite well otherwise and held out her arm, offering him his yukata.

He moved towards her, taking his robe and pulling it on easily, buckling his belt over the crimson fabric. "You would do well to smile more often."

"Oh?" It was her turn to arch an eyebrow as she handed him his collar.

Auron took the thick collar and wrapped it around the back of his neck, leaving the buckles undone for a moment as he stared down at her. "Yuna...wanted her journey to be full of laughter. Seeing her friends at ease and happy makes her pilgrimage more bearable."
Lulu nodded slowly. "I know that. Does that mean you will also make the effort?"
There was a twinkle of mirth in his eye as he answered. "Perhaps."

She shook her head, brushing the bangs from her eyes in a gesture that Auron had often seen her do when frustrated or unsure. A smile spread over his lips. Seeing this she crossed her arms over her chest.

"You're teasing me." She accused but her tone was light.
"Perhaps." He said evasively.

Seeing her incredulous expression only made his smile widen. Unable to stop herself, a smile tugged at her lips as well. "Very well. I will smile more." She conceded and reached up to grasp the fastens on his collar. She was about to buckle the leather strap that would hold his collar in place and thereby obscure most of his face from view but hesitated. Her fingers held onto the grey fabric. Eyes dark and rich as wine stared up at soft brown. He was so close now. Amethyst nails sneaked from the collar to the skin of his cheek, dancing over the dark stubble there. Next they trailed over his lips, surprisingly soft beneath her fingertips. She felt his hand on her shoulder. His palm cool against her bare skin.

Unsure of what guided her actions she closed the distance between them, both hands resting on his shoulders. She paused, a hairsbreadth away from his lips, eyes half-closed and brows knit in uncertainty. She needed some sort of guidance, finding herself in unfamiliar territory with her fellow guardian. This man whom she felt an unspoken bond with that surpassed regular camaraderie.

Her plea was answered.

His gloved hand slid from her shoulder to her neck, cupping the delicate column of white skin gently as he leaned down. Her eyes closed as warm lips pressed against her forehead. A soft kiss, its effect calming like a warm balm over her skin. She exhaled slowly, unaware that she had been holding her breath. His hand curled around one of her braids, toying it with it, letting the silky pleats slide through his fingers.

She felt his breath stir her long bangs. With a soft sigh she leaned into him, her cheek resting on the cold metal of his breastplate. His fingers continued their play in her braided hair as she let her arms drape around his waist. She knew this was hardly the appropriate moment but...for just a few minutes, staying like this in his arms she could almost forget. Thoughts of a long pilgrimage guarding a summoner who she could not bear to watch die were dispersed and replaced with a sense of peace. No more inner turmoil, no more pain.

Only his embrace.
His deep voice spoken softly lulled her out of her reverie. "Your hairpin..." he began, fingering the broken pin that Rikku had used in the lock of their cell.

Lulu peeked up at the man holding her. "Oh...yes, it broke."
"It can be fixed..." he started then frowned slightly.

"What is it?" She asked, unable to mask the concern in her voice.

His expression softened considerably at the worry etched across her face and reflected in her smoky eyes.

"We must find Yuna." He stated.

Lulu nodded and broke her hold on the legendary guardian feeling slightly foolish for clinging to him so. "Yes." Her eyes dropped to the stone as she started past him but was held back in mid step by a hand on her arm.

Silver shades reflected her confusion back at her.

"We...we will talk later." He squeezed her arm gently before he nodded to himself and strode past into the maze beyond. "Be on your guard." He called over his shoulder.

Vaguely she wondered if he was solely referring to the fiends present or if he meant she should guard her emotions as well. She shook her head for what seemed like the tenth time and brushed her dark bangs from her face, her vision momentarily blurred by a lace sleeve. He said they would talk later. She readied her cactuar and followed the crimson clothed guardian, her mind alert and ready for battle but her heart longing for later to come yet fearing it would only bring more pain along her journey.

"Love is never easy." She murmured to herself, reiterating her words to the young Al Bhed earlier.

Never easy but always worth the risk.

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To be continued...

A.N. Notes: Erm...my apologies for the exorbitantly long delay between posts. I've been in Japan for the past three months. ^^; Then I got home and told myself no more procrastinating! I will write a chapter per week until all my fics are updated and complete. But then I lost my notes to this fic...*sigh* I had actually everything planned out and mostly written out by hand and I lost it! I blame Air Canada. (And I'm allowed, I'm Canadian. ~.^) I had my notes when I left Japan...but miraculously when I opened my luggage upon my return to this iceberg known as Montreal they could nay be found. Alas.

End result being...well I'm not entirely satisfied with this but...*prays* I hope you guys like it.

And now...thank yous!! To all those wonderful individuals who took the time to review ch.2, I thank you and send Auron plushies to all! *hugs* Your reviews are what keep me going and what made me come back to this fic.

Frith~Here is your third chapter. ^__^ I hope you like it. So please don't scream, more was written. And let me tell you...I share your pain about the overabundance of Auron/Rikku fics. -_-; I mean what the hell?! What's he supposed to be a pedophile or something? *sigh* Ok...I am calm. But now you know why I felt I had to write this.
Jaded Echo ~ I agree. Aurikku is creepy. Gives me nightmares...*laughs* And thank you, you paid me the best compliment by saying I kept them in character. *hugs*

Evilded ~ *bows* Thank you. I aim to please. They're my fav couple too.

Vash-chan aka Makoto Almasy ~ Thank you! You have no idea how happy it makes me when people tell me I keep people IC. ^_______^

Calypso ~ Thank you. *smiles* I hope you enjoy ch.3.
MWPP and Lily ~ Fear not Lily-chan! It shall indeed be finished.

The Jack of Spades ~ I live for the day Lulu and Auron rule the world my friend. *grins* And I'm glad you liked the hairpin bit. Actually that was the part I was worried people would hate. ^^; So thank you for letting me know you enjoyed it.

Goddess 001 ~ Thank you, and I do intend to get to writing a lot more now. ^_^

Prometheus Untied ~ Wow...um...that was a damn good review. *laughs* Now I'm nervous. I hope you like this chapter. ^^;;; I personally am not so pleased with it but...I've been working on it forever and would like to get on with the story so I figured I would post and hope that people receive it well.

The Black Raveness ~ You know...that is a good bribe. ^______^ It's really hard to work on a fic when you're uninspired so I often look for other FFX fics to inspire me but...*sighs* It's hard. Not many people write Lulu/Auron. So I have to...create my own inspiration I guess. *laughs* And that can be very difficult given my limited talent with storytelling.

Onyx Eyes ~ ^_______^ Thank you. I'm a huge Aulu fan too. I just think they're really good together.

Zelgadiss2nd and 3rd ~ *giggles* I think you should know that your reviews made me giggle out loud. ^___^ Thank you. *bows*

RocketGurl ~ I agree. There aren't enough Luron fics! Tis a true tragedy, one that I lament daily.

Falling Rain ~ Glad you like. ~.^
Hiro-Gema ~ Thank you. Yeah, I'm a big fan of having people interrupt. I mean c'mon it won't be fun if they get together right away! *laughs* I'm so evil.

Kyris ~ Glad you like the descriptions. I love describing Lu and Auron. *laughs* They're just such an elegance about them. And Auron's just...*.* Ahem. Thank you. ^____^

SugarNSpikes18 ~ I did write more. ~.^ And I shall continue to do so with support from lovely readers such as yourself.

KariAnderson ~ I completely agree! They are meant to be together. *nod nod*

Fair and Cold ~ Thanks. *hugs!* Yeah, I'm convinced they belong together and you know...I do the same thing with sappy parts. *laughs* Which makes them difficult to write at times.

Sway ~ *giggles* Now now, there is no need to worship though I am open to bribery. ~.^

Shiro ~ I'm God? ._. Huzzah!! Well...God of sap perhaps but alas, my power ends there. *laughs*

Wewe~ Thank you for reading. ^___^

*takes a deep breath* Wew. And that's it ladies and gents. *bows* Arigatou to everyone! You guys are great! ^_________^