Chapter II - Velut Luna

Rikku huddled quietly in a corner of the shop, reveling in the protection of the fortified walls about her. She sat atop a bare countertop, replaying the previous scene inside her mind. Perhaps, she had seemed a bit too weak. Her outburst was a little out of line, even for the boisterous teen. Yet, if the others could understand her fear; it wasn't senseless.

And Auron! He hadn't been a help at all. He only shoved her down further, causing her to resemble the dirt upon the heel of his potent boots; superfluous and bothersome. He would never understand her plight, he stood so distant from the all the actions of the world. Her feelings of dislike grew so great for the unfeeling man at times, that she swore she may strangle him eventually. He probably wouldn't even flinch, as her petite hands circled about his strong neck, barely even bruising the surface. Maybe if she grew out her nails and attempted to scratch out his last good eye.

"Is it really that scary?" A soft masculine voice interjected into her murderous thoughts. Rikku looked up quickly, attempting to hide the wicked glaze in her vibrant emerald oculars. A small smile touched her lips, when her eyes met with a pair of placid cerulean. She had liked Tidus upon meeting, his messy golden hair and his whole clueless look only increased his appeal. He seemed so lost in this strange new world, and it was always showing in his eyes. Looks of awe and wonder would cross them at times, followed by looks of confusion or doubt. Was he really everything he said he was? Or was he merely suffering from a nasty bout of amnesia? She shook her head, her smile only increasing its size. What a wonderful, yet piteous boy.

"When I was little, a monster attacked while I was playing in the sea. My brother and I defeated the monster, but...... Kyaa!!" She screeched upon the rumble thunder and flash of light. She closed her eyes momentarily, trying to push the fear from her mind. She was inside now, she was safe.

"But in the confusion my brother accidentally hit me with magic! Thunder magic, and it went Bam bam bam bam bam BAM!" She shouted dramatically, gesticulating with her tiny hands the force of each and every blow. She could still feel the sting of every strike, ripping into her soft flesh like a crazed fiend, offering no mercy.

Looking up from her minute stint, she noticed a few patrons were gazing at her with shocked expressions. Tidus, on the other hand, was staring at her with vast azure eyes, as if deeply shaken by her tale.

"Ohh." He replied finally, shaking himself from his stupor. Perhaps, he had just been a bit surprised by her outburst. Rikku didn't really care if he didn't understand, it had been both painful and traumatic to her. A few exasperated glances from a few bitter people wouldn't change her mind.

"Ever since then, I've just hated thunder......" She ended, glancing away. They wouldn't understand, and frankly she couldn't really do anything about it. Why try further?

Tidus wandered off shortly after a few more moments of examination of the girl. He was in search of Yuna, no doubt. He seemed to care about her the most out of all the guardians. He truly protected her with every inch of him, not just for duty.

Rikku released a long sigh, her eyelids fluttering about her brilliant emerald eyes. They would most likely be departing soon; setting back out into the plain. She didn't want to waste these dear moments of shelter, yet she couldn't shake the impending fear from her horizon. Perhaps, if she thought of happy things she could clear her mind.

"Let's see." She murmured quietly, only to herself. Her eyes traveled about the shop, searching for something to clear her clouded mind. She loved these Al Bhed chalets. They were filled with a dim light, pouring like the setting sun upon the horizon, basking the shop in its ginger luminosity. Gaudy banners decorated the chocolate colored walls, Al Bhed sayings inscribed in a golden color across them plainly. One wall was usually covered completely with shelf after shelf of books, most written in Al Bhed, yet others from the main language for the customers. She loved skimming through the effervescent novels of intrigue and romance. The Al Bhed stories always seemed to entertain her more than the gloomy stories of the main culture.

A loud clanking noise pulled her from her pleasant thoughts, sending her hurling back into reality. She hadn't even realized that she had drifted off into her own world, forgetting completely the horrors of the valid one. Yet, she didn't even need to look up to know who had emerged from his silent brooding against the far wall. She knew what he was indicating, and she detested him for it.

"The thunder hasn't stopped yet......" She stated without knowing. An irate glare from that penetrating russet eye told her of her folly. How could a man with such a hindrance as he still hold so much power and coercion at his service? Yet, one look from the man could send Rikku crashing back a step, suddenly so uncertain of herself.

"There was no point in wishing for it," He replied bluntly, still glaring at the girl ruthlessly. Rikku mustered up her courage, jumping down gracefully from her seat upon the countertop. She puffed up, attempting to stare down the one-eyed bully. She wouldn't let him frighten her into submission once more, not this time.However, with another flash of lightening, Rikku was sent flying back to her prior compliant fear.

Auron turned from her with the slight raise of his brow, releasing a quiet sigh.

"You can wait your whole life if you want," He said in harsh reply, almost mocking her fear. He then preceded to walk out, completely oblivious, or just ignoring, her seething gaze.

Rikku scoffed loudly at his back, undoubtedly enraged by his careless reply. He never ceased to surprise her, growing colder and colder with each momentary encounter. She may be younger than him, but she was still as strong as he. She was more poignant as well, which far outweighed his silent resilience, in her opinion.

"You don't have to be so mean like that!" She growled at the closing door before her, stamping her petite foot for potency. She could see his crimson cloaked back disappearing into the haze. She wouldn't let him get away with his uncaring remarks, and she would let him know she wasn't the weak little girl he obviously assumed.

Within moments, Rikku was fleeting out the door, quickly gaining on Auron's steady gait.

"That isn't the way to make somebody feel better!" She yelled at his back, not surprised in the least that he didn't stop. She was slowly becoming away of his shameless existence, not regretting a single callous word uttered from his mouth.

"Hey! You listening to me?" She was close now, two steps away from the "legendary guardian". For once, she wasn't struck with awe from his imposing frame in contrast to her diminutive one. At the moment, anyone watching would most likely think the girl mad, she was like a mouse attacking slumbering lion.

"Stop walking away from me!" She commanded, grabbing hold of his scarlet coat. Auron came to halt upon contact, languidly he turned to face the cheeky girl. Rikku recoiled a bit, releasing his coat. His single eye emitted such intensity it was almost painful to retain her fiery gaze. Yet, she astoundingly did not falter, and maintained his severe gaze as she spoke.

"How can you be so cold to a little bit of fear! Not everyone can be all high and mighty like yourself, but you could at least show some compassion toward others once and awhile," She spouted, her voice preserving a high tone. Her hands were placed defiantly upon her slender hips, as she gazed up at the insensitive man expecting him to turn away any moment now.

However, Auron didn't turn from her. Instead, he laughed. His laugh resembled the low rumble of thunder, echoing across the darkened skies.. Her eyes widened unmistakably, as she watched the older man laugh at her fury. Which, all in all, infuriated her all the more.

"What is it!" Rikku demanded, dropping her hands and clenching them in tiny balls at her sides. Auron simply glanced about, saying all without words. Rikku's angered expression fell, as she realized she was standing in the center of the Thunder Plains, completely unprotected, yet completely unaware at the same time. Her mouth dropped open, yet she didn't have time to counter his chuckle at her expense. A flash of lighting ripped through the sky, striking the earth near the astonished girl. She was sent into hiding behind the very man she had been scolding profusely a few moments before, clinging onto the back of his jacket for dear life.

Auron didn't even flinch a muscle at the strike, nor the actions of the girl. He stood like a barrier, unmoved by the chaos about them. A cascade of golden hair peeked out from behind the blockade, surveying the scene. It really hadn't registered in her mind that she was still clinging mercilessly onto the ruby folds of Auron's coat; Auron gave no sign of any detection either.

The trample of footsteps behind them, brought Rikku back to reality. She promptly released the coat, as if it was a serpent about to bite her. She gazed at the spot she had just occupied with disgust, hating herself inwardly for showing the need for his protection. How could she be so lackadaisical?

"Let's go," Rumbled Auron, much like the thunder that reciprocated in the heavens. Rikku breathed a sigh of relief, as they restarted their trek across the plains, once again thanking everything that no one had noticed her muddle up.