A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

BY : tuatha
Category: Final Fantasy X > General
Dragon prints: 1094
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy X, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

Part Ten

Our second night's journey began uneventfully. Al Na'ir again guided us
across the sands and I only saw one group of Al Bhed, a travelling caravan
that continued on its way without observing us. Everyone was quiet, as sound
carries quite far in the desert, and we only spoke in hushed whispers if at
all. Wakka helped Lulu from time to time as her dress dragged in the sand
and the dunes here were steeper than where we had begun our trek across
Sanubia.

I called a brief halt after Al Mach had risen above the horizon. There had
been a pair of night-vision goggles in the kit and I used these to search
for the signpost. Auron approached. I couldn't find the sign and said so. "A
little further I think."

We continued on and Auron asked me a question. "I recognise Al Na'ir, the
Crescent, but can you show me Odin? I've forgotten how to find it."

We let the others go ahead while we paused. "Kneel down so I can show you."
When he had settled in the sand I knelt behind him and rested my head on his
shoulder. Then I took his hand in mine and pointed. "Al Na'ir. Look above,
See there are three stars in a triangle?" I pointed towards them. "And just
below them another smaller triangle. That's the head of Dra Canbahd, his
pointed tongue tasting the heavens. His body twists across the night sky." I
pointed at each star in turn, naming the brighter ones, Al Wazor, Mirfak,
Alphecca and finally Serik, the tail of the twisting serpent.

On the left I pointed towards Mirzim. "The eye of Odin." I followed the line
of Odin's sword, a great arc of stars that glittered and swung as it slashed
at the giant snake.

"I see it. And the maiden?" he asked.

I pointed to the right of the snake, which separated her from Odin, and
pointed out her shape to him, her hands outstretched towards the knight,
cradling the red jewel of Gienah. "In some stories Gienah is a jewel of
great price and beauty that she offers Odin as a reward for rescuing her,
but others say that she offers him her heart."

"Which stories do you believe?"

I looked up at the stars, and thought there was no doubt at all about my
answer. "She loved him, of course." I stood and brushed the sand from my
knees and Auron did the same. We followed the others. "I always meant to ask
you, who taught you our language? And about the stars?"

"What? Oh, the monks at the temples teach many arcane arts and magiks. I
learned your language there while I studied."

The others had noticed we had fallen behind and had slowed down while we
caught up. Auron continued after a pause. "You know that the Yevonites send
those who become adept at your language as spies on your people. As your
people send spies among the temples. But I was not that good."

I stared at him. "You've improved a lot then."

"Thank you." He smiled a little. "Lord Braska's wife would
speak in Al Bhed to me whenever she could. She showed me the stars and told
me the tale of Odin and the Maiden. I had forgotten how to find it, after so
many years..."

He was contemplative for a time, thinking about the past. "You are very like
her. Yuna is pretty as she was, but has so much of her father in her looks,
and her manner."

I pondered his words. I remembered him telling me of his refusal to wed
within the temple and beinrcedrced to leave. He had said there was no one
else, but even then I found it hard to believe he would have thrown away his
career just because he didn't care for the girl. Love can grow between two
people who are wed, unless one of them loves another. "Did you...care for
her?"

"She was a lovely woman. Very kind, yet adventurous and free-spirited."

"Did you love her?"

"Lord Braska loved her. And she loved him." He spoke with finality, a heavy
tone that forbade further discussion on the topic, but I wondered about it
just the same.

I didn't doubt that he was an honourable man, I could well imagine him
coming to care for a woman beloved by his best friend but never letting a
hint of his feelings emerge, putting her out of his mind, the same way he
had with me. He would have smiled and congratulated his friend, Lord Braska,
even if his heart bled in his chest.

We finally reached the marker a scant hour before the dawn, and dug for the
supplies that were there. I took the second tent, the food and water,
leaving everything else that we didn't need. I reset the marker and we moved
on, finding a place to camp far enough away from the cache that we hopefully
wouldn't be discovered. We used the larger of the two tents for breakfast,
but Auron refused to eat with us when I asked, entering the other alone.
Kimahri took some food and went on watch, so Lulu, Wakka and Tidus sat
together. "Auron needs to eat, we all do." It was true that delicious as the
dried fruits were we had all gotten tired of eating the desert rations. I
gathered up some of the food to take to Auron and left the others there.

When I entered the other tent Auron sat tiredly, not even glancing at me
when I came in. I offered him the food, which he accepted without argument,
and we ate and drank in silence. When we were done I turned to him and
reached for his shoulder. He sighed but said nothing as I performed this
task for him, then when he would have struggled into a prone position I put
my arm around his chest and he leaned against me as I helped him lie down on
the sand.
turnturned away, again disrobing in preparation for sleep. When I turned back
Auron's eyes were darkened, studying me. I blushed, feeling nervous, without
really knowing why. I lay down quickly on the sand with my face turned away
from his. After his breathing evened out I turned and watched his face for a
little while until I too slept.

When I woke I watched him as he slept on. No doubt my eyes were 'clouded by
love' as the poets say, but I thought him beautiful, a source of pleasure
for my eyes. He fascinated me with his careworn, ruggedly handsome face and
the fall of his dark hair, his arms and chest so heavily muscled and
promising vigour and strength despite his age.

At first it troubled me, that he was so much older. When I realised my
feelings were deeper than friendship or respect it took me some time to
realise it was our differences that drew us together, and our age difference
was the least significant of those. My gaze drifted down to the scar that
bisected his chest. While looking at him gave me pleasure, to see his
injuries caused my heart to ache in sympathy. Despite my resolution my hand
reached out, hovering just above his chest, then came to rest lightly upon
his chest.

He woke, looking at me as I kept my gaze at chest level. I spoke lightly as
though I was discussing something as inconsequential as the weather. "It
hurts to look at it. It must have been a fearsome battle."

"It was."

"I wish...I just wish I could heal you."

I sat up and took the precious elixir from my pack. When I would have opened
it, Auron stopped me. "Don't waste it. It will not help me, and you may need
it later."

"But..."

"My injury is healed as well as it ever will be. It is in my mind that I
feel a gaping wound where now there is just a scar. I carry it with me and
it haunts me like a ghost."

I put the elixir away reluctantly. All I had left were potions, I had
nothing else that would aid him, even if he would let me. "Let me try,
please."

"You don't have to do anything."

I disregarded his words, pouring the potion into my palm, then I brushed it
lightly over the wound, caressing his skin with my hands wherever I touched.
By the time the potion bottle was empty he was breathing more easily, his
arms relaxed at his side.

I had run out of excuses to touch him, so my hands moved away reluctantly
and I kept my gaze fixed determinedly at the tent flap and the sand beyond.
It began to blur in my vision, a golden haze. "You're a good healer, Rikku."

Then he noticed my tears. "Why are you crying?"

"I don't know. Nothing." I turned awkwardly and sat fg awg away from him.
His hand brushed against my back lightly.

"It just hurts. Everything and nothing." I added. It didn't make much sense
but I was too distraught to care.

"I hate myself. I hate what I've become." he muttered darkly. When I looked
around his face was wet with tears. I had never seen a man cry before. Tidus
was just a boy, and he cried like a girl, but Auron was silent while he
fought a battle of will, tears escaping like criminals and furtively
slipping down his cheeks. "I hate that you would take my pain into yourself
and let it hurt you too."

"No!" I flung myself at him, and pressed my face into his shoulder. "Hold
me, please." I begged, and he put his arms around me.

"I never intended to hurt you. I should just leave you alone."

"No." I said again. He subsided into silence, and we lay together in the
sand, both of us crying quietly as we held each other like children. When
the storm of our emotions had subsided I stayed where I was, and he made no
move to push me away.

Then I heard a cry of m anm and started upright. There were running
footsteps from the other tent, and Lulu cried out. "Fiend!"

I had forgotten and would have run outside, but Auron held me, and
began pulling at the pieces of his armour. I knelt to help him and we
hurriedly fastened it.

When we emerged I saw the beast, it was a worm, a giant creature that often
buried itself in the sand and ambushed unwary travellers. This one must have
been lumbering through the desert when it found us. It had reared up and was
lunging sideways towards Wakka who scrambled out of its way then threw his
ball towards the creatures thick hide.

"Throw at it's eyes!" I yelled, running forward. "Blind it if you can."

Tidus ran in from the other side and slashed with his sword, but tripped and
fell in the sand. The creature leaned down and sucked in sand and air, and
Tidus was swallowed whole by it's great maw.

Lulu would have run forward to try to aid him and been swallowed up too, but
I held her arm. "Don't, or it will take you too. Use magic, use anything."

Wakka pounded the great beast, and scored several direct hits, causing its
eyes to swell and close.

I took a grenade and a vial of ochu poison, pouring the poison into the
grenade's cavity and screwing it shut. I threw the grenade so it would land
beneath the belly of the beast. The explosion barely scratched the worm's
hide, but a cloud of noxious fumes rose from the blast, enveloping the
monster's head.

The creature turned green, and Kimahri and Auron slashed at it with their
weapons. Lulu cast a fire spell, and I rushed in to strike with my own claw
at the fiend. It was badly wounded by our attacks, and it collapsed, its
body heaving with a great tremor. A wave swept from it's stomach and it
vomited a great spume of stomach contents, including Tidus. He landed on the
sand, gasping like a fish pulled from the sea as the fiend collapsed.
Kimahri leapt forward and with a downward lunge finished the creature off.
We ran to Tidus, who picked himself up out of the sand.

"Yeeeeeuuuuucchhhhh!" He shook his arms and legs, wiping off globs of sputum
and unrecognisable lumps of decayed matter that had erupted from the fiend's
guts. We did not have enough water to wash off the mess, so I used sand,
scrubbing at his arms and legs. Tidus got the idea and began rolling in the
sand like a dog would. When he was done he was relatively dry, but his
clothes and hair were full of sand.

No one else was harmed, so I went to the carcass of the beast. With a small
knife I began hacking beneath it's ribs. Kimahri came over and began to
help, and we soon opened up the creatures belly. I searched among it's
innards, finding a whitish coloured organ which I pulled out, and sliced
open. Within were a number of dark coloured gems, a valuable prize. I also
took some thin strips of meat from around the ribcage and placed them on the
horizontal flap of the canvas tent. They would dry in the sun during the
day, which would cure the meat. We didn't need it, really, but it was
something different to the rations we'd eaten during the day, and for such a
disgusting beast the meat was sweet to taste and very nutritious.

While we worked Kimahri cleared his throat several times. I thought he had
sand caught in his throat or something, it didn't occur to me that he wanted
to say something but was nervous. That was the kind of thing I did, not the
Ronso who rarely spoke, but always did so with certainty.

"Rikku and Auron...stand on the same ledge."

He paused and I wondered what he was going to say. I knew that he had known
Auron for a long time, and I was worried that he would disapprove, but he
surprised me.

"Breathe the same air, share the same food, Kimahri understand. Rikku good
for Sir Auron. Mates stay strong for each other."

I wished it were true. I didn't know how to explain that whatever we felt
for each other had been put aside because of our quest. "I just want to help
him. That's all."

Kimahri's eyes were knowing and wise. "Sir Auron good for Rikku too."

I smiled. It was true, despite all the tears and sorrow we had shared. "Yes.
Yes, he is."

Kimahri nodded and we dropped the subject. When we returned to the main tent
the others were seated. The Ronso sat with great dignity, crosslegged in the sand.

I showed them the gems I had collected, then stowed them in my bag. We
couldn't light a fire at the moment, but when we did I would use them on our
weapons and armour. Tidus groaned when I opened the pack with our lunch in
it, but Lulu remembered she had some biscuits she'd saved from the inn at
Macalania and we ate and drank together. I thought it quite convenient that
she had only just remembered them, but when she saw me looking at her she
winked at me.

She was extremely clever. Wakka and Tidus just accepted the good fortune of
biscuits at a time when we were all heartily sick of desert food, but Auron
also hid a smile at her deception.

I ate quietly, thinking about Kimahri's words. I was constantly
second-guessing my decisions, and I wondered if I was wrong to stand aside
because of Auron's reluctance to be involved with me while our pilgrimage
continued.

Tidus had demonstrated great fortitude while we followed Yuna's trail,
seeming in good spirits, constantly cheering himself up with hopes of their
reunion. I doubted I could have shown the same unwavering faith if Auron was
missing and he was the focus of our search instead.

If I lost him I would be consumed with regret at the lost opportunity to
love him while I had the chance. We had spent two nights lying side by side
but had been separated in spirit, and I decided I would not let such a
chance slip in the future. I knew he cared for me, and I knew he desired me.
If I abased myself, abandoning pride to show him how much I needed him he
would love me despite his resolve to the contrary. My heart did not care for
pride, and love would give us both strength as Kimahri had said, strength to
face the future.


End of Part Ten


You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story