Paine: A Warrior's Story Chapter 1: Warrior

By: AJay Lin Shorn

It was the middle of the night, and everything was silent. Snow fell harmlessly on the streets of Bevelle. The silence was soon interrupted however, by the sounds of heavy breathing and moaning. A tall, 19 year old man with black hair thrown back into a messy ponytail wearing a long crimson coat ran through the thick snow, carrying a young woman. He was a warrior monk from the local temple. His name was Auron. The woman had long, grayish-blonde hair that was very messy and somewhat damp from sweat. She was Abigail, a slightly older woman from the village of Kilika. Abigail held her stomach and moaned again.

"I need to lay down NOW, Auron!"

"Don't worry, Abigail! We're almost to the temple! Please, try to breathe!"

Auron ran through the doors of the temple of Bevelle, and collided into the head priest. He managed to keep a hold on Abigail, but the priest toppled over.

"What is the meaning of this? Barging into the temple at such late hours!" he reprimanded, and stood back up. Auron gasped and tried to catch his breath.

"This woman is about to give birth! We need a healer!" Auron cried.

"A child? I'll find one of the nurses at once!" The priest ran into the Nun's Chamber and fetched one of the sleeping healers.

"Bring her in here, and lay her down on the bed." the priest called from the chamber. Auron obliged, and the healer began to work. Abigail screamed, cried, and squeezed Auron's hand for nearly an hour.

"Why is it taking so long? Will she be alright?"

"Don't worry, this is normal! She's fine!" the nun said. Abigail flailed angrily.

"OKAY?! I'M HAVING A FUCKING CHILD!!! I HAVE A FUCKING HUMAN LIVING IN MY FUCKING BODY THAT IS ABOUT TO BURST OUT OF MY VAGINA!!! AND YOU CONSIDER THAT NORMAL?!" The other nuns, who had awakened to help their co-worker, covered their ears. Abigail attempted to smack the nun, but it was too tiring. She gave a final screech of pain, and her entire body relaxed.

The nun stood up. She held a sleeping baby in her arms. The child had very slight grey-gold hair creeping over her head, and very pale skin. Its body was petite and fragile looking.

"Is she...okay?" Auron questioned the nun. She chuckled.

"She's perfectly fine. Along with her child. It's a girl." The nun handed the baby girl to Abigail, who smiled.

"After that agony I went through for you, my child…there can only be one name for you. Paine. Our beautiful child." Abigail clasped Auron's hand. He smiled as well.

Paine opened her eyes. They weren't brown as Abigail's and Auron's; but a shocking red.

"What...what is wrong with her eyes?" cried Abigail. The nun frowned, and picked up Paine, studying her carefully. Paine squirmed in her arms.

"She appears to have ocular-albinism. Rather rare, but perfectly safe. It shouldn't affect her. Nothing to worry about." The nun handed Abigail the child. Paine yawned, and went back to sleep. Auron took the baby from Abigail, and looked at her.

"Paine..."

"Auron! I must speak to you!"

Auron gave Paine to Abigail, and entered the Monk's Chamber. He sat on a wooden stool, and listened to the priest.

"Auron, you knew that you were going to marry, didn't you? How could you do...that, with that woman?"

"It's called sex. Not that you'd know what that is."

"I know what it's called!" snapped the priest. "The point I'm trying to make is that she is half Guado! You know that they do not walk the path of Yevon!"

"I don't care."

"You should! It is that arrogance that causes Sin!" the priest cried. His young charge could be so FRUSTRATING sometimes.

"I don't wish to marry your daughter. I love Abigail, and I plan to support her and our daughter." Auron stated.

"I see. You have 3 days to change your mind. If not, you will be excommunicated." the priest concluded.

"Hmph." Auron walked out.

A/N: Wonderful. My genius fic is finally ready. Expect more chapters soon, but Paine's story won't truly begin until Christmas. At the time Paine was born, the Guado had not yet converted to Yevonism. This is also before Braska's pilgrimage. That should clear up any confusion about Auron's age or Guado hatred.

Chapter 2: Thief

In the light of dawn, an adolescent girl laid on a hilltop. The 6-year old girl brushed a lock of golden-grey hair out of her red eyes and sighed. Her father was away on a long trip, and he had told her to practice with the sword while he was away. The young girl had been left in the care of an old friend of her father's in Kilika, and she was bored. Her thoughts turned to the rest of her family. The girl's mother had died a very long time ago, only 3 days after she had been born. Her father had been a warrior monk in the temple of Bevelle. She wondered why he was always so emotionless, but suspected it was because he had loved her mother and was still heartbroken. Finally, she thought of her friends, three boys named Nooj, Baralai, and Gippal. She and they were so close-knit; she considered them her brothers. As she thought about them, a small boy with platinum hair and intense green eyes walked out of one of the small straw huts and smiled.

"Hi Paine! You wanna go play with me and Nooj now? Gippal said he'd teach us some more Al Bhed," he said cheerfully.

"Nah. My father told me I had to practice the sword while he's gone."

"Why arencha'?" Baralai inquired.

"Aw, I just wanna watch the sunrise. You wanna watch with me?" Paine asked.

"Okay."

He sat down on the hill next to Paine. They sat like that for a long time, watching the sun slowly emerge from the horizon over the gorgeous bluish green sea. Everything seemed to glow a warm orange color, which washed over the small village of Kilika. Paine looked at Baralai. His hair was even brighter than before, from the rich contrast of his platinum hair and the orange.

"Baralai, do you know why my father left me here?" she asked.

"I think it's cause he's guardin' a summoner on a pilgrimage," he replied.

"Why couldn't I come? I could help guard. My father could teach me how to use the sword, and I wouldn't have to stay with mean ol' Kinoc."

"Well…do you know what happens when a summoner gets to Zanarkand?"

"Yeah, they get the Final Aeon an' beat Sin with it. Why?"

"Well, when they do, the Aeon kills the summoner too. Your dad prolly thought it'd be too much for us kids. But…maybe it's a good thing, y'know? You get to be more independent n' stuff…and you do get to be with us. That's good, isn't it?" Baralai asked.

"Yeah, I suppose it is. But I miss him, y'know? You guys are so cool, but I miss him."

"I know. It's not the same."

The sun was up now, and the orange glow faded, and Paine realized she was clasping Baralai's hand.

A/N: Everybody loves Baraine. It smiles on everyone like somethin' shiny. Yaaay. Expect Paine to age more as the story goes on.

Chapter 3: Songstress

It was late in the afternoon in Kilika. The enormous blue sky stretched over the small fishing village as Paine & Baralai were playing catch with an old blitzball. Baralai then proceeded to perform a Spin Ball, thus knocking Paine over. He doubled over with laughter.

"Owch! That hurt, Baralai!" Paine cried.

"You look like an octopus, all sprawled out like that!" he laughed.

"C'mon, help me up."

Baralai grabbed Paine's hand and began to pull her up, until he accidentally backed up into a short bald priest in a long yellow robe. The priest toppled over.

"Oh, sorry Kinoc." Baralai said.

"Call me 'sir', Baralai." Kinoc disciplined. "I must speak to Paine alone now. Go, I'll only be a minute." Baralai ran off.

"So why'd you wanna talk to me, Sir?" Paine flopped down onto the wooden dock and absentmindedly began playing with a stick.

"Paine, I'm not quite sure how to put this, seeing as I've never had children…but, Paine, your father has…disappeared." Kinoc told her sympathetically.

Paine stopped.

"What?"

"After the Calm began, your father was going home…but he went back to Zanarkand. He came out again near death. A young Ronso found him crawling down Mt. Gagazet, bleeding. He told a wandering group of Al Bhed that a young man was in dire need of medical attention, and they did the best they could to help him. But the next day, he was just gone. There is…a good chance that the fiends got him. Truly, I am sorry." His voice dwindled in volume until it was almost a whisper.

Paine said nothing. But the tears streaming down her face were enough to give her thoughts away.

"Will you be all right, Paine? It's clear you're very distressed." Kinoc asked.

Again, Paine said nothing. She stood up.

"Paine?"

Paine hugged Kinoc. She wasn't just silently crying now, she was sobbing openly. Kinoc patted her on the back.

"Now, now. You'll be okay. Your father asked me before he left to watch over you, if anything should happen to him. Remember?"

Paine nodded. Her tears slowed a bit.

"I can't believe he's gone…he promised me when he returned that he would take me to Luca to see…a blitzball game…" she said quietly.

"Perhaps after you've calmed down, I could bring you to one. What team is your favorite?"

"Guado Glories." Paine said in a happier tone.

"Ah, like your mother. I shall bring you to one of their games, then."

"Sir?"

"
Yes?"

"My father told me that I was to practice the sword…do you know anyone who would teach me?"

"I do. There is a Ronso I know named Kelk. He is skilled with many weapons, including the sword. I can arrange some lessons for you." Kinoc told Paine.

"Thank you, Sir." Paine walked away, to the very hilltop she sat on a month before, watching the sunrise with Baralai only a week after her father had left for Zanarkand. She laid down on the soft incline. Baralai then came up behind her and tackled her. She screamed and wrestled with Baralai, finally throwing him down next to her.

"Aw, you always beat me in wrestling!" Baralai cried.

"It's cause you're afraid to hurt a girl! You gotta attack with your full power if you wanna win."



"So, what did Kinoc talk to you about? Did he find out that you were the one who slipped a Thunder Flan in his bed?" Baralai said teasingly.

"Sshtttt! He'll hear you!" Paine whispered. "It wasn't that, anyways. My dad…he's disappeared. Kinoc says that the fiends may have killed him."

"He's…dead?"

"No…no, he can't be dead."

"Why not?" Baralai questioned.

"I was all he really had left…he wouldn't leave me behind. Remember when Kinoc told us about the Farplane? He said that some people don't become a fiend or a spirit in the Farplane. Sometimes, they have too much to do…and they can't continue on to death.

The unsents. Maybe my dad…is an unsent now. Maybe my dad…will come back." Paine said.

Baralai sat up.

"Let's sing the Hymn of The Fayth."

"How come?" Paine asked.

"Well, it's a prayer for the dead, isn't it? If your father is an unsent, then we're praying for him to come home. And…well, I like it when you sing." Baralai blushed a little.

"Okay, we will!" Paine took a deep breath, as did Baralai.

"I e yu i

No bo me no

Re n mi ri

Yo jyu yo go

Ha sa te ka na e

Ku ta ma e"

A/N: Sorry this chapter was so long. We're hurting for reviews over here, so any contributions are greatly appreciated. I want to know your opinions!

Chapter 4: Trainer

The night sky stretched across the Kilikan dock. An enormous luminous moon, with a scattering of dazzling stars, looked down on 4 people. They were Paine, Auron, Kinoc, and a tall man in a long, layered robe and hat, which had the scriptures of Yevon trailing out from the top. He had soft brown hair and blue eyes, with a thin face. He was the summoner Braska.

"Dad, I want to come with you! I can help guard Sir Braska, can't I?" Paine cried. She clutched at Auron's waist.

"I'm sorry Paine, but being a guardian is far too dangerous for someone so young!" Auron told Paine. Paine ignored him, and continued holding onto him.

"If I let you go onto this pilgrimage, and you got hurt, I'd never forgive myself. I promise to you that whatever happens on the pilgrimage, I will come back! I will!"

"But I need you! Who will help me with the sword? Who will put me to bed? Please don't leave!" Paine sobbed. Auron picked her up and gave her a hug.

"Don't worry, Paine. Kinoc has already agreed to watch you while I'm gone. And I'm trusting you to practice the sword techniques you've already learned. Can you do that?" he asked. Paine nodded. Braska stepped forward.

"I have a gift for you, Paine, but you'll have to put this glove on first." Braska slipped a strong leather glove onto Paine's hand. "Her name is Flurry."

A bird swooped down from its perch and landed on Paine's arm. Her feathers were red, green, orange, black, and purple. The beak was long and curved, and colored a gorgeous gold. Her talons were the same color as her beak, and clearly very powerful. Flurry was gorgeous.

"If you should ever feel lonely, or happen to be in trouble, blow this whistle and Flurry will appear to you. She will assist you in anything you might need." Braska told her.

"Thank you, Sir Braska." Paine said.

"We must go now, Paine. I'll miss you." Auron said. He put her down, and began to step onto the boat.

"I love you, Dad."

Auron turned around. He smiled.

"I love you too, Paine."

Auron and Braska boarded the boat. The boat slowly pulled out of port, and Paine waved goodbye to her father. Auron waved back, until Paine could no longer see the boat. Kinoc stepped forward.

"Well Paine, you must be tired! I'll bring you to your room." Kinoc led her to a slightly large hut. Before Paine went into the hut, she took a last look out on the horizon. She saw nothing but the luminous moon, and its dazzling star cousins.

A/N: Oh yeeeah. You're all wishing you got that hug instead of Paine. :P Why isn't Jecht here, you ask? Because Braska hasn't been to Bevelle yet, you silly. And Jecht is still in the psycho prison. ^^ Again, review. Reviews make me happy.

Chapter 5: Alchemist

A gentle breeze swooped around the island of Bikanel. Dark grey clouds swirled gently, threatening the normally dry island and residents with their first rainstorm. In the machina city known only as Home, there were only 2 people wandering around the living quarters. The first, a tall 14 year-old female with elegant gold-grey hair spilling down her back, and the second, a shorter blond 16 year-old male with piercing grey eyes entered a side room. It was stacked with crates of glowing marbles, feathery blankets, potions, and other strange items. Large red guns lied in the corner.

"So, how do you make these things? Do you just stick 'em in the gun?" Paine asked. She took a gun and attempted to stick a marble and a down into the gun. The blond man sighed.

"No, here let me show you." Gippal took the gun and the two ingredients. He placed each into a slot on the weapon, grabbed a long metal rod at the top and turned it. Paine could hear the two items being mixed within the gun.

"I want to try it!" Paine grabbed the gun and shot it at a target stuck to the wall. A Final Phoenix shot out. It let out a screech before turning into glowing ashes and falling over Paine and Gippal. Gippal laughed a little.

"You're a mess!" he joked.

"So are you!" Paine playfully shoved him, sending ashes scattering on the floor. "I hope that scream didn't wake anybody up. You did say that nobody knew I was coming."

"Probably not. These walls are pretty thick. But I wish I could show you my parents! It's too bad that they're anti-Yevon...how'd you get away from Kinoc, anyways?"

"I told him I had to go on a mission for the temple, so naturally he'd have to let me go. Man, he'd be so PISSED if he found out that I went to my illegitimate Al Bhed boyfriend's island!"

"Oac, E esykeha ra fuimt pa, oui cemmo kenm!" Gippal said. He laughed.

Paine tackled Gippal. They wrestled for a bit, but Gippal lost painfully.

"Oh yeeeeah! Chalk up another win for the Paine-pnehkan!"

"E fuimt ryja fuh, ev E fych'd yvnyet oui fuimt ryja tacdnuoat sa vencd!"

"Dryd tuac hud syga yho cahca, oui cemmo puo."

Paine loved sneaking away from her home in Kilika. At the temples, she had to always act her best, wear heavy robes, and never speak back to a man. But here - glorious freedom! Simply glorious! Paine was about to plant a kiss on her man, when the door suddenly slammed open. Kinoc and Cid, the leader of the Al Bhed, stood in the doorway glaring.

Paine giggled nervously.

"Hiya Kinoc."

"Hello, Paine. We are leaving, and YOU have a lot of explaining to do."

Paine stood up. She made no attempt to straighten her messy hair or brush off her dusty shorts & halter. In fact, she made sure that she looked as provocative as possible, just to make Kinoc angrier.

"Bye Gippal,' she said flirtatiously, and left.

Kinoc walked angrily through the city, until they reached Paine's hoverbike. They climbed onto the bike, and sped through the desert.

"I don't understand you, Paine! I thought you told me you were going on a mission trip! Do you have any idea how worried I was when I went to Bevelle and they told me that they didn't know what I was talking about?"

"Sorry, but no."

"
And then I find you almost doing...that with an Al Bhed?!"

"What do you people have against the word 'sex'?"

"For one thing, it's a filthy thing. For another thing, a lady should not talk about such things!" Kinoc paused.

"You remind me of your father...when you were born, he had the same conversation with the head priest..."

Paine laughed.

"Chip off the ol' block, huh?"

A/N: Sorry this chapter took a bit longer to get up than usual. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a picture of Gippal? Anyways, to my reviewers: Yes, I'm aware that the last chapter took place before all the other chapters. It was a flashback. And to all you Baraine fans: Don't worry! Baralai and Paine WILL get together before the end of this fic. Nooj has got nothin' on Baralai & Gippal. ^^

Translations:

Oac, E esykeha ra fuimt pa, oui cemmo kenm!: Yes, I imagine he would be, you silly girl!

pnehkan: bringer

E fuimt ryja fuh, ev E fych'd yvnyet oui fuimt ryja tacdnuoat sa vencd!: I would have won, if I wasn't afraid you would have destroyed me first!

Dryd tuac hud syga yho cahca, oui cemmo puo.: That does not make any sense, you silly boy.

Chapter 6: Samurai

It was quiet in the tunnels of Guadosalam. Well, perhaps not so quiet. Voices echoed around its thick dirt walls, surrounding visitors with the conversations of Guado, Al Bhed, Yevonites, Ronso, and even Hypello. There was a reason Guadosalam was the Town of The Dead. Within the tunnels, Paine and Kinoc approached a grand mansion in the very center.

"Paine, please be courteous to Maester Jyscal." Kinoc said in an exasperated tone.

"No sweat, Kinoc." Paine said. "But hey, can I go check out the Farplane?" Kinoc sighed.

"Very well, Paine. But please be back in 15 minutes." Paine wandered away from the ancient mansion. Like I'd rather spend time with a bunch of boring religious monkeys when I could be talking to Dad, Paine thought.

She wandered up the carved dirt bridges and tunnels, up the sleek marble staircase, and into the Farplane. There, a familiar face was waiting.

"Baralai!" Paine cried. She ran up to him and gave him a tight, Paine-brand hug. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm working with the Maester's son, Seymour. What are you doing here?"

"Kinoc dragged me here to meet the maester and set me up with Seymour." Paine fake-gagged. She strolled over to the edge on the stone platform, and closed her eyes. Paine thought about her father, how much she missed him, and how much she wanted to see him, to tell him about everything.

Paine opened her eyes. There was nothing but the pyreflies crying.

Baralai spoke next to her. "That means he's alive."

Paine turned to face him. "I've missed you."

"What about Nooj and Gippal? Nooj still lives in Kilika, and Gippal's your boyfriend." Baralai said the last part with a touch of bitterness.

"We broke up. It wasn't safe to be sneaking from town to town all the time. And I don't see much of Nooj any more. You were...my best friend. I missed you dearly."

"I've missed you too."

Baralai was quiet. They drew closer to each other.

"I've missed you too."

He bent down and whispered in her ear.

"E muja oui."

They kissed for what seemed an eternity. Paine couldn't remember what she had been saying a few minutes ago, although perhaps it had something to do with cheese. She could hear the pyreflies howling above them. Paine had never felt this way before, even when she had kissed Gippal. It was a strange, rushing feeling, like she was sprinting 200 yards in only 2 minutes. Finally, their lips parted.

"E muja oui duu."

They kissed again. Again, Paine was so…so joyous; she could barely remember what she had said, but again suspected cheese.

"How long has it been?" Paine asked him.

"I guess 14, 15 minutes."

"Oh no! Kinoc is going to slaughter me! I have to run!"

"I could walk you there...if you'd like." Baralai said in little more than a whisper.

Paine smiled. "Thanks, but I wouldn't want you to get in any trouble with Mr. Antler-Head in the robes." She dashed out of the Farplane, unable to wipe the silly looking smile off her face.

What she saw when she stepped onto the marble staircase made her stop. There was a man with greyish-black hair and sunglasses standing at the bottom. He wore a long crimson coat with a large belt holding it closed. His left hand rested in a makeshift sling of the coat and belt. A long sword was at his side. Paine knew at once who this man was.

"Dad!"

A/N: Yay for Baraine. :) And yes, it's time for the third appearance of everybody's favorite bishi: Auron!

Translations:

E muja oui: I love you.

E muja oui duu: I love you too.

Chapter 7: Gun Mage

"Hello, Paine." Auron said calmly.

Paine was stunned. This man couldn't be her father...he had died! She could barely remember the day Kinoc told her...but he was dead! But...she didn't see him at the Farplane...could it be possible that this really WAS her father?

She reached out and touched him. He was real.

"Dad?"

"
Paine."

Paine gasped. She hugged Auron and began crying.

"Daddy! It's you! I knew you couldn't be dead! You wouldn't just die after going so far! I have...so much to tell you!"

"Paine…you're half right."

Paine stopped.

"Huh?"

"I have become an unsent. I too, have much to tell you. But not now. I have a promise to fulfill for a friend," he said.

"What happened? How did you die?" Paine said, surprised.

"I'm sure Kinoc has told you the story of Lady Yunalesca." Paine nodded. "When we reached Zanarkand, she was there waiting for us. An unsent, like I am now. She told us the secret of the Final Aeon...the purpose of a guardian is to become the Final Aeon. Yunalesca kills them. They become a fayth, and then the summoner defeats Sin. It is an endless spiral of death. I...could not accept Braska's death. So I went back to Zanarkand...and Yunalesca killed me."

Paine absorbed this, then spoke. "But even if you were unsent, where did you go? Couldn't you come back?"

"I had to fulfill my promise. One of Braska's guardians was a man from 1000 years ago...from Zanarkand. He asked me to watch over his son. I can't really explain it, but I rode Sin to Zanarkand...and I watched the boy as if he were you. I'm...sorry I was gone so long." He truly sounded sorry, too.

"But then why are you here?"

"I had to see you again. I'll have to go back very soon, but no matter what happens, you'll always be my daughter. Always."

Paine smiled.

"I better hurry back to that big mansion over there…Kinoc will get so MAD, since I'm already late."

"Why were you late in the first place?"

Paine blushed. She giggled a bit.

"Well, let's say that hypothetically, there is a guy..."

Auron rolled his eyes, though Paine couldn't see him doing it.

"It figures. I'll bring you there. Kinoc won't be mad when you tell him you were talking to me."

"Thanks, dad."

"
I'd like to know instead...who this boy is."

A/N: Eeek. Tension. Oo Love the Baraine, for it is your master.

Chapter 8: Black Mage

Kinoc gasped.

"Auron! Where have you been?"

Auron chuckled. It was amazing how many people had asked him that today.

"Hello, Kinoc. I've been fulfilling a promise for a friend. From Zanarkand. I don't wish to explain it right now, but I thought I'd walk Paine back to the mansion."

Paine peeked out from behind Auron and waved to Kinoc.

"I apologize for her lateness. She ran into me, and we were talking."

Kinoc stuttered.

"Well - of course - but I did want her to meet the Maester's son - she has been very trouble-making lately."

"What's to stop her from meeting him now?"

As Auron said this, a very tall man walked down the staircase. He had blue hair, with prongs of it extruding from his head. He wore the long robe of a Bevelle priest.

Kinoc stood up to introduce him. "Paine, this is the Maester's son, Seymour. I'm sure you and he will get along famously. You do both have Guado blood, after all."

Paine rolled her eyes. When did similar bloodlines equal a perfect relationship?

Seymour approached Paine.

"I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Paine." He knelt down and kissed her hand. Paine tried not to gag.

"It's...ah...nice to meet you too?" Paine noticed that Auron was becoming visibly angry, and that Seymour was lingering a little too long.

"Uh..." Paine pulled her hand away. "Yeah..."

Auron pulled Kinoc aside. "I need to speak with you." He pulled him into another room.

Paine ran to the door and pressed her ear against it. She heard Auron speaking angrily to Kinoc.

"WHY did you arrange for Paine to meet this man?"

"Well, I assumed she'd like to meet one of her own kind..."

"That is no excuse! Paine is more human than Guado! You're just using her to become a Maester!"

"I assure you, Auron, that was not my motive! If you haven't heard, she was dating an Al Bhed boy! A heathen! Don't you want the best for her?"

"Do you really think that matters to me? I dated Abigail! I loved Abigail! If she hadn't been killed by those damn warrior monks, just because she had Guado blood, we would have gotten married! Paine would have had a mother!" Auron's voice broke.

"Auron...I'm sorry...truly, I am."

Paine stepped away from the door. She was shocked. Warrior monks? WARRIOR MONKS?

She had lost her mother to the people her life revolved around. Because she was a Guado. Paine's face was contorted with anger, sadness, and shock.

Auron walked out of the room. He saw Paine, turned away from him.

"Paine...you were listening, weren't you?"

She nodded. Auron came up, and gave her a hug from behind.

"I'm sorry I never told you. But...if I told you...you'd never trust Kinoc. You'd never trust anybody again. You were at such an impressionable age...and I knew I had to go on a pilgrimage. You wouldn't be safe if I had left you with Kinoc and you didn't listen to him. He...might not be the best at showing it, but he does want you to be safe. He has nothing but your best interests at heart. He cares about you as much as I do."

Paine was quiet. Seymour coughed a little, and then decided it was best to leave. He walked back up the stairs.

"This whole time...I've been trying to be that which killed my mother...No...I DID kill my mother...if I wasn't born, she'd be alive! She'd still be with you! This is my fault!"

Auron shook his head.

"No...it's not your fault. It was never your fault. I should have listened to the priest that day, instead of being selfish and refusing to marry the priest's daughter. I should have kept you safe, instead of fulfilling my selfish desire to marry your mother."

"You should have...you should have married her."

"We can't change the past. Never be ashamed of what has happened before your time."

"It's hard not to..."

"I know it is. But you have to try. And no matter what Kinoc says...don't spend any time with Seymour. He wants to use you, I can tell."

"Daddy...I'll miss you when you leave again..."

"I know, little Paine-bringer. But I do have to fulfill that promise. It was his last wish. Maybe...someday you'll meet him."

"I hope so."

Auron let go of Paine, and walked out.

"I love you, Dad."

"I love you too, Paine."

Chapter 9: White Mage

Paine picked up the scissors. She sighed, and wondered if she should really do it. She had had this hair her entire life. But it had gotten in her way so long...

Paine cut away her long, grey gold hair. Nearly 2 feet of it fell to the bathroom floor. Her hair was only high-back now. She sighed, and grabbed several hairpins from the counter. Just as she was about to pin her hair up, Kinoc knocked on the door.

"Paine? Are you okay in there?"

"I'm fine! I'm fine! I'm just - doing my hair..." Paine struggled to keep her hair up and grab more pins at the same time.

"But you never do your hair!"

"Yeah - don't remind me..."

"You don't need any help?"



Paine tripped over a wastebasket. "No, I'm fine!" It was only then that she realized that her hair and the hairpins had completely slipped from her grasp.

"Uh...maybe..."

Kinoc sighed, and opened the door. Paine was sprawled out on the floor clutching hairpins in one hand and desperately trying to style her hair with the other. He helped her up and began to untangle the mess of hairpins that were clinging to her head in a desperate attempt at sculpting her hair.

This took a considerable amount of time, considering that Paine had never done her hair in her lifetime and had usually left it to grow. Surprisingly, Kinoc was able to style her hair in such a way that she wouldn't be afraid to leave the house ever again.

"Wow. Where did you learn to do hair?"

"My parents thought I was a girl for 6 years of my life." Kinoc said without hesitating.

"You're kidding, right?"

"Yes, I am."

"I thought so. Thanks." Paine gave Kinoc a quick hug, and rushed out to her room.

"Why are you dressing up, anyways?" Kinoc asked.

"I'm going to the Crimson Squad recorder selections tonight, and then I'm going to go out with Baralai. I told you, didn't I?"

"You told me about the Crimson Squad, but somehow you managed to neglect the part about Baralai."

"I did? Oh, what a shame."

Kinoc heard a knock on the door, and went to greet the visitor. Baralai stood in the doorway, and bowed to Kinoc.

"Hello, Baralai. Paine is getting ready in her room. Please, sit down."

"Thank you, sir."

Baralai was about to sit down in a wicker chair when Paine rushed out of her room. She was wearing a long light purple and beige dress. Her hair was swept back into a strange hairstyle that looked a bit like that of the captain of the Besaid Aurochs, but less out there and pointy.

Paine grinned and waved.

"So, should we go?"

"Yeah. Goodbye, Lord Kinoc."

"Goodbye, Baralai. Paine, be back before 11, okay?"

"Sure thing, Kinoc."

Paine strolled out with Baralai, silently shaking with laughter.

"You're really going to listen to him, Paine?"

"Of course not, silly."

Baralai laughed too.

"I should know you better by now."

A/N: I am so sorry for the delay, I got really sick. Then I was just really lazy. Sorry! Oh, and if you're wondering about the new "Slightly AU" that's tacked onto the summary, I have only just realized that Paine, Nooj, Baralai, and Gippal met in the Crimson Squad. They are apparently NOT childhood friends. I slipped my mind but hey, other than that, I think I got everything pretty accurately. If you ignore the romance before the Crimson Squad, then it's actually a pretty likely scenario. And last but not least, I have discovered that Auron is indeed in FFX-2! Sadly, he's in a sphere that is only attainable through a side mission, which I did not complete. *cries* Review or I'll cry MORE.

Chapter 10: Berserker

"Yuna. I'm going to hang back for a bit." Paine leaned against one of the heavy stone walls as the former summoner and her cousin walked down the corridor.

"Are you sure, Paine?"

"I'm sure."

"...Alright."

Yuna and Rikku continued on alone. Paine knelt over the exhausted Baralai, who was breathing heavily. His soft white hair was wet with perspiration.

"...I'm sorry I had to do that," he whispered.

"Why did you do it?" Paine asked.

Baralai brushed away the light strands of hair obscuring his face. His eyes were flashing from brown to blue very rapidly.

"Your eyes..."

"I can feel something inside me...something just begging for destruction. It happened when I was last at the Farplane. A pyrefly just attacked me and...I don't know. I feel angry. Cold. Lonely. But I can TELL these aren't my feelings."

Baralai's hair suddenly began to fade into a light golden color. His eyes stopped on blue. He began to whisper something almost unintelligible. Almost.

"Lenne, I will find you. I can see you now. I will destroy this worthless, floating continent. We will be together."

He passed out. His hair faded back to white. Paine gasped. She began to shake him.

"Baralai? Baralai, wake up!"

Baralai did. He gasped for breath, sweating furiously. Paine clutched his shoulders.

"Baralai! What happened to you?"

"Dreams...I saw Lady Yuna...with someone..." Baralai was barely able to breathe. Paine placed a hand on his heart. It was beating at such a rapid pace, she was afraid it would burst out of his chest.

"Don't worry about that now...you have to rest."

He nodded. Paine propped him up against the wall.

"Has this happened before?"

"Yeah. Sometimes...I just black out. I can see people arguing and fighting...I want them to stop..."

"Is that why you fought us?" Paine asked.

"I tried to stop it...I tried to hold back..."

She tried to distract him from the dreadful memories he kept experiencing. "That's why you lost. Remember when we were children, on the day that I found out my father was missing?"

"Yeah..."

"If you want to win...you've got to attack with your full power..."

Paine kissed him lightly on the cheek.

"I'll come back for you soon. Try to rest."

She stood up, and hurried down the corridor.

A/N: For some reason, this chapter doesn't flow as well as the others. o.O Oh well. I've been getting lazy about updating, because I got flamed for one of my other, slightly worse fics. Which only got flamed because I flamed THEIR story. Apparently, their policy is that if they get flamed, they flame them right back if they think that the flamer's fic is worse. If it's BETTER (which is likely, since their fics are the most plotless, disgusting mass of doodie my eyes have ever seen), then they have the nerve to leave a rude review that "you should be NICE to new writers". Sorry for rambling, but I needed to vent. ^^ In other news, P:AWS (interesting acronym!) has the most reviews of all my fics! Oh, and apparently in the last battles in FFX-2, Auron talks to you during the battle. Along with Jecht and Braska, but Auron's our HOMEBOY! *cheesy smile*

Chapter 11: Dark Knight

Paine swung the sphere camera around. She knew this would happen! She had known all along! A machina strong enough to take Sin down? What a joke!

She yelled, "Guys, where are you?"

There were bodies scattered everywhere. The thick stench of decomposition hung in the air. Former Crusaders and Crimson Squad members laid on top of each other in the powdery white sand, propped up against the ruins of the giant machina that had failed to finish off Sin. One particularly gruesome sight was a young man with red hair that had been torn clean in two. But Paine barely noticed the terrible scenery; she was screaming louder and running faster.

She was so busy looking; she slammed directly into Nooj. Paine stumbled back.

"Nooj! Have you seen Baralai and Gippal?"

"I haven't, but we'll find them. They'll be all right."

Paine and Nooj wandered around the Mi'hen Beach, searching for Baralai and Gippal...or at least, what was left of them.

Paine continued to call out for the others, even though she knew it was hopeless. There was no way that they could have survived...

"Paine!" Gippal yelled. "Nooj!"

Paine turned around. Gippal and Baralai were in a thick, gnarled tree. They had soot all over their faces and clothes.

"WHAT? What are you doing up there? I thought you were fighting Sin!"

"We were...until Gippal decided that we should hide in this tree." Baralai jumped down from his perch. He brushed the black soot away from his clothes.

"Turned out that Sin blasted our former position first. If I hadn't made Baralai move, we would have probably died." Gippal said in his usual teasing tone.

Paine whacked Gippal in the arm.

"That's not funny, Gippal! What if you had died? What then?" She folded her arms.

"Sorry, Dr. P."

"
Don't call me that!" Paine whacked him again.

They were quiet for a bit.

"Should we go see Kinoc now? We WERE told to reassemble after the operation." Baralai said.

"Yeah. Won't he be surprised when he sees that we've lived!" Paine replied.

As the 4 Crimson Squad members departed from the Mi'hen Beach, a summoner could be seen in the distance, sending their fallen comrades.

"Hope we get that fancy war medal Kinoc's always going on about." Gippal commented.

The other 3 chuckled.

A/N: Review for great justice. And pie.

Chapter 12: Gunner

Abigail hummed a melody to the small newborn in her arms. She was sitting in a soft armchair in the lovely Guadosalam house. Her daughter was quiet, as she usually was. Paine was a very strange baby...she had never cried before. Only once. That was strange, seeing as that Abigail was very emotional and forward with her feelings. Hadn't she heard that daughters took after their mothers?

Her fiancee, Auron, was away on some sort of mission for the temple in Djose. It had been so sudden; especially considering he had been called to the temple only 3 days after their child was born. Couldn't they let him get to know his daughter? Caring for a child was not a simple task, even though Paine didn't cry. It was difficult raising a baby alone. Abigail understood now how the unmarried mothers struggled to bring their offspring up right.

Abigail closed the small leather book she was writing in, and closed her eyes. She fantasized about the airships she used to read about in her old storybooks. When she was 6, Abigail would read about the Al Bhed machina airships. She would often lay against the safe-barrier in the Farplane, and dream about being an Al Bhed on an airship. Would her child have those same thoughts? Or would she be more like her father, dreaming of becoming a powerful warrior and defeating Sin? The latter was likely. But she was only rambling to herself now...she should just go to sleep...

A sharp rapping came at the door. Abigail groaned, and stood up. She placed the sleeping Paine into her pram, and went to answer whoever was calling at this unearthly hour.

When she opened the door, a trio of warrior monks forced themselves into the home.

"Who are you?! What do you want?!" Abigail cried, as the monks began ransacking the bookshelves, the icebox, and the beds.

One of the warrior monks had a knifegun. He raised it towards Abigail.

"Be quiet, woman! I suppose YOU are the one they sent us out to look for? The half blood that is distracting our star monk? The one who made him turn down the hand of the high priest's daughter?"

Abigail panicked. "What do you want from me? I haven't done anything to you!!"

The monk chuckled a bit, then yelled at the other monks.

"You got everything?"

"Yeah, just kill 'er, already!"

A wave of fear spread through Paine.

The monk pulled the trigger. A flickering blade sprung from the gun and struck Abigail directly in the chest. The pain flooded her body, as if it was trying to replace the crimson blood that was flowing freely through the wound in her chest. By the time she hit the floor, the monks were gone. Her face felt cool, like her blood had been replaced by ice-cold water. Her eyes spun, and went dark. She felt bits of her soul pushing against her body, pleading to escape their prison. Abigail knew she was dying. But she wanted to wait for her beloved to return. She wanted to say goodbye.

Half an hour after the monks had raided, Auron returned to his house. He had completely forgotten to bring his sword, and knew that there were fiends on the road to Djose. But that was only part of the reason. Something had been tugging at him ever since he had entered the Moonflow. As he approached his house, he noticed that the door was slightly ajar. Auron was puzzled, and opened it.

What he saw shocked him. The house wasn't just wrecked, but destructed. Bookcases were shoved over, tables were broken, chairs were upturned, and blood was oozing on the floor. Abigail's blood.

Auron ran to his near-dead fiancee, who was barely breathing. There was a huge, gaping wound in her chest. Her gorgeous hair was caked with her life, her eyes were lumps of coal, and her breath was a glacier.

He held her in his arms, and began to cry. She summoned what little strength she had left in her corpse-like body, and wiped away the tears that slid down his beautiful face.

"I love you," Abigail said. It was barely a whisper.

"I love you too," he said tearfully.

He kissed her one final time, before she slipped away.

"Take care of Paine," she whispered.

"Abby...don't go..."

"I'm dying, Auron. Please...protect her..."

He paused. "I will. I swear to the Farplane that I will protect Paine with my life."

"Thank you...beloved..."

She gasped for one more breath.

"I love you...goodbye..."

A pyrefly flew out of her chest. Soon, more flew out of her body. Then, they stopped. Abigail's eyes closed. She went cold and limp.

The only person he had truly loved was dead. Dead. She would never again sing to herself while she cared for Paine. She would never see her beautiful daughter grow up into a young woman. She would never get to ride on an airship.

Abigail's pyreflies didn't fly upward as they normally did. Instead, they gravitated to her daughter's pram. They sang their strange, melodic cry to the child, and swam into the young body.

Paine woke up. She cried.

A/N: Wow. Dramatic. (BTW: I beat FFX-2 AGAIN!!! At last, I can finally write a completely accurate fic.) Why, yes, last author's note WAS from the AYB video. Perceptive.

Chapter 13: Lady Luck

Paine stumbled away from the Mi'ihen Travel Agency. What had just happened? There was a pounding feeling in her head, and a sharp pain in her chest. Her memory was fuzzy. Nooj? Was that Nooj? And a gun?

Had Nooj shot her? Was that what happened?

Paine sunk to her knees. The last things she saw before she blacked out were the crumpled forms of Gippal and Baralai.

An older man, who had heard the gunshots, ran from the exit to the Newroad. He was a guardian to one of the summoners that had been passing through.

He was also Paine's father.

Auron ran to his daughter. She was bleeding at the chest, sprawled out on the ground. It was eerily similar to when Abigail had died, 16 years ago. There was only one difference. He could save her now.

Meanwhile, a different scenario was taking place deep within Paine's mind. She was walking around in a dark, dark void. Paine could see absolutely nothing. Suddenly, a glowing, floating figure appeared in front of her. The figure began to take shape and sharpen. Soon, Paine could see a very tall woman in front of her. She had long, grey-gold hair, like hers use to be. There was something vaguely familiar about her...

And suddenly, she knew.

"...Mom?"

The woman smiled.

"Hello, Paine."

Paine ran to Abigail. She tried to hug her, but couldn't feel her. Her arms just went through her.

"You can't touch me, honey. I'm nothing but a ghost now."

Paine stepped away.

"You're almost dead. Nooj shot you."

Paine was startled.

"How did you know that?"

"Honey, I know everything that has happened to you. When I died, I asked your father to watch over you. He has done as good as a job as he can. But I know that watching a child, caring for it, protecting it...takes a lot more than just one person. So...after I had died, bits of my pyreflies joined with your body. My soul and yours live in the same body. All your life, I've protected you where your father could not. When you were in that cave with the Crimson Squad, and the pyreflies tried to invade your body, I repelled them. Now, this is the last time I can protect you."

"What are you going to do?" Paine asked.

"I am going to use the last of my soul power to heal your body. After I save you, I will leave for the Farplane. I can help you no more."

Paine spoke again. "But...I need you."

"You don't need me, Paine. The only time you really needed my help was in that cave. Everything else you have done was YOU. Not me."

Abgail's figure began to fade away.

"You're waking up. Tell Auron that I love him, and that it's up to him now."

"Wait! Don't go!"

"Goodbye."

The black void vanished so quickly Paine gasped. Auron was bent over her, mending the place where Nooj shot her. He looked up, and saw that she had awakened.

"Paine! You're alive!"

Pyreflies flew out of her body when Auron spoke. She was rather tired, but told her father, "I saw Mom."

"You did?"

"Yeah. She said that her job is done, and that she loves you."

It occurred to Paine that Baralai and Gippal were also near death.

"We have to help them!" Paine pointed towards where she thought the 2 men laid.

Gippal pokes his head out from behind her. "Already been helped, but thanks for noticing!"

Baralai was behind Auron, with a worried expression on his face.

"Paine, are you okay?"

Paine nodded. She felt strangely less emotional.

There was a definite absence in her body.

A/N: d00d, loose ends are lyk, so totally unkewl. So, lyk, I totally tied them up! *explodes*

Chapter 14: Full Throttle

A/N: Yeah, it's been awhile since I updated. Sorry. uu;;; This is the second-to-last chapter, with some nice fluff tacked on. All good things must come to an end, sadly.


The golden-orange sphere dipped under the horizon. Everything in the long-ruined city glowed a rusty orange color. There were only two people anywhere near the ruins, watching the famous Zanarkand sunset. One was a girl, the other a man. The girl wore black leather, the man a priest's robes. They sat around the fire, saying little and thinking more.

"How long has it been, now? A year?" he asked.

"Maybe. It doesn't seem so long ago," the girl replied without looking up from the fire.

"What have you been doing?"

She finally looked up. Her eyes were a shocking red.

"Well...mostly, I've been looking for the old spheres of the Crimson Squad...trying to figure out what happened in that cave. But..." The girl paused, considering her follow-up.

"You know that both of my parents are dead, right?" she said. "I've been looking for spheres of them as well. I never met my mother, so I thought she might be in some old spheres. Maybe in Kilika or some place. But I don't know how'd I'd get there in the first place...so I'm a little stuck."

A short pause.

"What about you?"

The man let out a heavy sigh. "I've been in Guadosalam, working for the new maester. Yevon's got all sorts of lovely secrets that we don't know about. Not very fun."

"I suppose it wouldn't be. Was he the one with the...hair?"

"Yes."

The girl broke into a fit of giggling, remembering the maester's scary-looking hair.

"I remember when I first met him. His hair was creepy. What's he like?"

"He's quiet. He only talks to his attendant, Tromell. He's smart not to talk very much...you never know who you can trust." He sniggered a little.

"He's disturbing. I can't believe Kinoc wanted me to marry him."

There was another silence.

"I thought you were going to marry ME."

The girl and the man laughed together for what seemed like forever.

"You know..."

"Hmm?"

"There are these people called 'sphere hunters'. There are groups of them all over Spira. Two in particular are rather interesting...the LeBlanc Syndicate and the Gullwings. Perhaps you should look into them."

"Really? Interesting."

Paine glanced down at Baralai's hand.

"...Baralai, you are aware that I am madly in love with you, right?"

"...Yes."

"Is there any particular reason why you are trying to sneakily grab my hand, as opposed to grabbing it out right and passionately making out with me for all the pyreflies to see?"

"...No."

"Oh, okay."

Chapter 15: Mascot Epilogue

A/N: Well, as I said in the last chapter, all good things must come to an end. This is the last chapter. About some of my future writings: As some of you may have noticed, my FFX-2 parody has been taken down. I’ve decided to rewrite it so that it fits’s Nazi guidelines. I’m also thinking of writing a Kimahri centric-fic, because he’s cool like that. So, enjoy this last chapter of PAWS. Oh, BTW: I probably got the order of how they go down the aisle wrong. Don’t hold it against me.


Ding-dong!

“Coming!”

Yuna rushed to the door, and opened it.

“Hey, Yuna.” Paine greeted.

“It’s about time! You’re a whole 10 minutes late! We can’t have a wedding if the bridesmaids are late!” Yuna teased.

“The excitement has gone to your head. I’m never late.” Paine said, and whacked Yuna on the head lightly with her bouquet of pansies.

“Yeah, you probably won’t be as late as Rikku.”

“Hey! I heard that!”

Rikku had driven up on her motorcycle. She walked up to the door and imitated Paine, whacking Yuna on the head with her bouquet.

“So, where’s Tidus?” Paine asked.

“In his room, getting dressed. You know we’re not supposed to see each other dressed until the wedding.” Yuna replied.

“Speakin’ of which, where’s your dress? I wanna seeee it!” Rikku cried.

“Okay, okay!” Yuna laughed, and went to her room. She returned moments later, with a sky blue dress over her arms. She held it up for them to see. The dress was made of satin, with no sleeves. It had a chiffon shawl over the skirt, which was a midnight blue. The bodice was corset-like and also midnight blue, with a pattern of a waterlily sewn into it. The hem was lined with dark blue feathers.

“It’s...it’s...BEAUTIFUL!” Rikku cried, and ran her hands over it.

“Lulu made it for me.” Yuna beamed.

“I thought wedding dresses were supposed to be white.” Paine queried.

“They are, but only if you’re a virgi - ” Yuna stopped and turned bright red. Rikku and Paine laughed.

“Oooooh, has Yuna been NAUGHTY?” Rikku teased.

“I – I ...” Yuna stammered.

“Ah, it’s okay, Yuna.” Paine said, patting her on the back. “At least you’re not lying about it. Who else is coming?”

“Hmm...Lulu is the maid of honor, and Wakka is the bets man...Kimahri, most of the village, Brother, Buddy, Shinra, Gippal - ”

“He’s my date.” Rikku interrupted. She nodded knowingly.

“That’s nice, Rikku.” Paine said.

“...Nooj, Leblanc, Ormi, and Logos.” Yuna finished.

“I’m surprised all of Spira isn’t coming, what with you being the world’s savior and all.” Rikku said.

“Isn’t...Baralai coming?” Paine asked.

“You know, I don’t know. He never responded to my invitation.” Yuna said.

“O-oh...” Paine said. She sank down into a wicker chair.

“Hey, don’t sit down just yet! We’ve gotta put on our bridesmaid dresses!”


Eventually, the guests began to show up. The wedding was taking place on the Besaid beach, under the stars. Buddy, Brother, and Shinra came in the airship, but everyone else showed up by boat. Paine soon realized why all of Spira hadn’t shown up when Shelinda, the reporter from Luca News, came with her cameraman in tow. Everyone pretty much behaved themselves, except for Brother who showed up in quite possibly the gaudiest tuxedo ever devised and regularly broke into sobs several times before the wedding even started.

Paine still saw no sign of Baralai. She waited by the dock most of the time before the ceremony, but he never showed.

Paine sighed.

“Guess he’s not coming, then...”

Paine looked at her watch, and realized it was 15 minutes until the ceremony was to begin. Everybody else was seated in front of the large marble arch in front of the ocean. Paine ran to the back to take her position.

“Where were you?” Rikku whispered.

“Nowhere, I was just waiting for someone.” Paine whispered back.

Suddenly, the pianist began to play a slow, sad song that sounded nearly identical to the song Yuna sang in the Thunder Plains. Paine walked down the aisle next to Wakka, followed by Rikku & Gatta. Then, Tidus walked down the aisle alone to the end.

But before Yuna walked down the aisle, Paine realized another boat had come in while the beginning of the ceremony had happened. She craned her neck to see who was driving the boat. Could it be...?

It was. Baralai climbed out of the boat, and waved to Paine. She waved back, and gestured to an empty seat near the altar. Baralai snuck over to the seat as discreetly as possible, which wasn’t very discreet at all.

And then, Yuna came down the aisle with Cid. Truthfully, Paine had thought her wedding dress was a bit gaudy when Yuna had shown it to her. But when she came down the aisle, Paine was absolutely stunned. Her arms were full of dark blue pansies, waterlilies, and white narcissus, and she was wearing a dark blue veil nearly identical to the one she had worn in her near-marriage to Seymour Guado, which was fastened to her hair with a barrette shaped like a flower.

“She’s beautiful...” Paine whispered to Rikku.

“I’m getting all misty-eyed.” Rikku said, her voice breaking. “Our wittle Yunie’s grown up.”

They reached the arch. Cid took Yuna’s & Tidus’s hands, and placed them together. Paine looked at him, and realized he was crying too. He joined Rikku and Paine at the left side of the altar.

The preacher began to speak.

“Good evening, all of you. We are gathered here tonight to witness the uniting of Yuna Cissuhan and Tidus Kiynteyh in holy matrimony. If there is anyone present who objects, please speak now, or forever hold your peace.”

Brother attempted to stand up and scream, but Buddy held him down and clapped a hand over his mouth.

“Tidus. Do you take Yuna to be your wedded wife, until death do you part, in sickness and in health, and in riches and poverty?”

“I do.” Tidus said, looking deep into Yuna’s eyes.

Paine looked behind her. There was a sort of rocket launcher behind them.

“Rikku! We should move a little!” she whispered loudly to Rikku. “We might get set on fire!”

“What?” Paine pointed to the rocket launcher. “Oh. That must be that ‘big surprise’ Yuna was talking about. She’s gonna set them off when they kiss. There must be another one over there.”

Paine gestured for the right side of the altar to watch out for the rocket launcher.

“They’re gonna go off at the end!” she whisper-yelled.

“...and in riches and poverty?”

“I do.” Yuna said, nearly crying as well.

“Then, in the name of Yevon, I hereby pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

Yuna and Tidus wrapped their arms around each other and kissed. And as Rikku predicted, the fireworks went off. The entire audience looked up and clapped. Even Brother stopped sobbing and watched the spectacular light show.

“So ROMANTIC!” Rikku cried.

“Yeah...yeah, pretty romantic.” Paine said, looking at Baralai. He smiled at her, and she smiled back.

The pianist began to play the end of the song in a crescendo.

“Ladies and gentleman, I am proud to introduce you Mr. And Mrs. Kiynteyh!”

Everybody cheered. And thus, the party to end all parties began.


The reception was wild. The wedding band played nothing but hard rock music the entire night. Wakka amused the crowd with his drunken rendition of the chicken dance. Brother tried several times to jump onto Yuna and pry off her huge wedding ring, only to be stopped every time by Buddy. There was a cake fight several hours into the party, which resulted in some very messy palm trees. When the bouquet was thrown, there was a scuffle between Leblanc and Rikku, which resulted in the bouquet being flung away from them and into Paine’s arms. Finally, the last dance began. It was a song called “Suteki da Ne” which Yuna and Tidus insisted had some sort of significance.

Paine leaned back in her chair and watched everybody else dance.

“Hey.”

She looked up. It was Baralai.

“Would you like to dance?”

“With you? Of course.” She took his hand, and they began to slow dance.

“Lovely wedding. I’m sorry I showed up late,” he whispered in her ear.

“It’s okay. I was worried you weren’t coming.” Paine whispered back.

“How could I miss an opportunity to see you?”

“Heh. Good point.”

They danced closer and closer until they were almost embracing. The song was ending, but Baralai and Paine showed no signs of stopping.

“I saw this really beautiful plateau on the way over here. You want to get out of here?”

“Love to.” Paine said.

They pulled apart, and snuck off from the reception. Everything was absolutely beautiful under the full moon, Paine thought. Or maybe it was just beautiful because Baralai was there.

They reached the plateau. It was absolutely gorgeous. They were directly above the reception area. The ocean was glowing a beautiful azure. The moon shone over them like the sun. Millions of tiny stars covered the sky.

“It’s beautiful...” Paine said in awe.

“I thought you’d like it.” Baralai said.

“I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be.” Paine said, and kissed Baralai.

“Then...I suppose I ought to show you why I was late.”

He reached into his pocket, and pulled out something. Paine’s heart stopped in her chest. It was a ring. He took her hand, and placed the ring on her finger. It was a ruby, carved into the shape of a sword.

“I had to get this for you. It took a couple of weeks to get it carved like that. I hope you like it. Will you marry me?”

Paine’s eyes began to water.

“I love it...”

She flung her arms around him and began to sob.

“Is that a yes?”

She nodded.

“All the crap that’s ever happened to me...can’t possibly ruin this moment. I love you. I love you so much.” Paine cried.

“You’re awfully teary for someone so happy.” Baralai chuckled. He wiped away her tears.

Paine sniffled. “Thanks.”

They kissed, more passionately than before. Paine sighed, and let herself fall onto the cool grass.


Meanwhile, down at the reception area, Yuna and Tidus were looking up with utter confusion.

“Are those people SHAGGING?” Tidus asked, stunned.

“It looks like it.” Yuna said, equally stunned.

“Hey! Where are Paine and Baralai?” Rikku cried.

“Oh, crap...”

Fin