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Title: Closet
Fandom: FFX-2
Rating: PG-13
Set: Postgame
Spoilers: None
Words: 540
Pairings: Paine/Nooj
Notes: This is a sequel to Shirt and a response to cupcakemonster's Easier as an Analogy. I know, I know. I said I was done with this thread. But the temptation proved too much to resist. So....


The closet was open and today only one oversize sleeping shirt hung inside.

"So." Paine sat down on the bed and pulled off her boots. "That's over then?"

Nooj stood in the doorway. "Yes."

"Did you come to your senses and throw her out, or did she come to hers and leave?" She looked at him in that forthright way he found so unsettling.

"Neither. Or perhaps both. It was somewhat-- look, can this wait for a moment?" Nooj crossed the room and sat next to her, stilling her hands before she could remove any more clothing. "Must our encounters always be so businesslike?"

Paine was taken aback. "What are you talking about?"

"It's always the same lately." Nooj stared into the closet, Paine thoughtfully watching his face. "You come after nightfall and head straight here. We chat a little, a verbal fencing match more often than not. Then it's time for bed and you're gone before the sunrise." He looked at her then, the expression in his dark eyes serious even for Nooj, and she checked the sarcastic response that sprang to her lips. "What are we doing, Paine? What is this all about?"

She realized that he was still holding her hands, and it felt so right and totally smothering all at once. Suddenly she needed to get away, and so she pulled free as she stood up. "What brought all this on?" she asked, crossing her arms.

"Before-- the end, Rikku said some things that got me to thinking." Nooj stood as well, but he preserved the distance that he sensed Paine was asking for. "She may be a silly, impulsive girl, even foolish at times, but sometimes she sees quite clearly." He took a careful step forward. "We have this fiction between us, this idea that we have no claim on one another. But I'm tired of pretending that it doesn't make me crazy to think of you with Baralai. And I'm tired of telling myself that I want anyone other than you in my bed." One more step. "The last time we discussed our relationship, you told me that you would tire of Baralai, but I see no sign of that yet. Am I waiting in vain? Is there something the Praetor has that I have not?"

Paine never moved. "He's easy," she answered softly. "Baralai is easy, and he's safe. Loving you has never been easy, and it is most definitely not safe."

Nooj took the final step that closed the gap between them and lightly rested one hand on each of her forearms. "And you are really that concerned about playing it safe?"

She finally dropped her arms and her defenses, raising her eyes to his as she braced her hands against his chest. "Maybe not. Or at least, maybe I shouldn't be."

He kissed her, once, his mouth soft and feather-light against hers. She raised her palms to his cheeks and drew him down to her.

Later, they did talk at last, hands joined over the kitchen table as they shared their hopes and fears and thoughts about the future. The next day, Paine had a serious conversation with Baralai. And the day after that, all of her shirts were in Nooj's closet.

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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
xerne
May. 8th, 2006 12:49 am (UTC)
You may be swearing up and down, but this is lovely and perfect and I'm glad you wrote it.
owlmoose
May. 8th, 2006 04:44 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you. I appreciate the compliment. :)

BTW, did you see that I filled your drabble request?
kunstarniki
May. 8th, 2006 02:04 am (UTC)
I
Was this what you thought I should hate you about? Why? It works for me. ;)
rustehroll
May. 8th, 2006 05:46 am (UTC)
You please the Monster of Cupcakes!
Yes. I like this. I like Nooj and Paine together a lot. I like how Nooj considers Rikku still silly and foolish and feckless. It's interesting to see your take on this trio as opposed to mine.

;) In mine, Rikku calls the shots. But that's probably because I'm inside her head like the toy in a Kindersurprise. She works more for me, so I'm biased towards her.

I like your portrayl of Paine here. Ahem. I can hear her voice better in my head now since I started playing the game today. (And this whole jumping thing? I'm so not down with this business. Ahem.)

I like how Paine says that Baralai is safe, but to her safe is boring, and how Nooj calls her on this. It's nice to see her... and him... finally getting their butts into gear and doing something about how they feel instead of sorta ignoring it and just smexing.

Yay.
owlmoose
May. 8th, 2006 06:02 am (UTC)
Re: You please the Monster of Cupcakes!
It makes sense that we would have different perspectives, because I am mostly inside Paine's head just as you see everything through Rikku's eyes. And naturally I am more than a little biased when these particular characters are involved, because, if I have an OTP, Paine/Nooj are it. ;) (Are you surprised? No, I didn't think so.)

It's nice to see her... and him... finally getting their butts into gear and doing something about how they feel

That was how I interpreted Nooj's reaction to Rikku's comments in your fic, particularly to the "you should do something about it before Baralai does" bit. That's what I saw going on in his head there, the realization that he really does want more with Paine and that by just letting things go on as they are, he's running the risk of losing her and it's time to make a move. And as soon as I saw his brain making that click, I knew I had to write it.

Anyway. Glad you liked it. Thanks!
rustehroll
May. 8th, 2006 01:28 pm (UTC)
Re: You please the Monster of Cupcakes!
Oh believe me, you've corrupted me (brought me into the light?) and I can't really see Paine with anyone but Nooj now. Either that or she's asexual which doesn't make much sense really XD. I like the pairing, Nooj and Paine, and it suits how I see them (which of course is heavily influenced by you and Kster, and I'm almost preferring how you write her than to what I'm seeing in the game. Funny how that works).

And yes, Rikku is definitely telling Nooj to hurry his adorable buns up with Paine. I think some of that is her own regret over Gippal and taking too long, but maybe I'm reading too deeply into her character. She seems smart enough in FFX. *shrug*
owlmoose
May. 8th, 2006 01:47 pm (UTC)
Re: You please the Monster of Cupcakes!
I can't really see Paine with anyone but Nooj now

*rubs hands together gleefully* A convert! And you haven't even gotten to any of the canon evidence that caused me to think of them together in the first place! ;) My work here is done.

You would not be alone in thinking of Paine as asexual if you took her character that way. I don't understand the interpretation, really; maybe it's because she's not obviously sighing over some guy like Yuna and to a certain extent Rikku? Or because she dresses in leather and has a sharp tongue? Dunno.

I think some of that is her own regret over Gippal and taking too long, but maybe I'm reading too deeply into her character.

Since this is all post-game speculation, I think one could definitely make a case for that. I agree, Rikku did seem pretty sharp and fairly perceptive in FFX. I actually did not care for where they took her character in X-2, but I will leave it at that for now.
rustehroll
May. 8th, 2006 11:08 pm (UTC)
Devious, devious Owlmoose. I will eventually, I'm sure. We'll have to discuss. Or, well, I may blather at you excitedly in that blathery fashion I tend to go on in.

Hmm. It's really not that she she dresses in leather and has a sharp tongue -- it's that she seems... too confident, too GOOD to just settle for a guy. To me she's too independant, she doesn't need someone to prop her up when she's feeling weak. In a way I kinda feel that there are no men deserving of her coolness. Ahem.

And I may end up agreeing with you on X-2 and Rikku's uh, developments. We'll have to... yeah... at some point... yeah... (I'm only twenty minutes into it, but I think I like fanon better than canon)
mneme_forgets
May. 9th, 2006 04:05 am (UTC)
I like the two options Paine gives for how Rikku and Nooj ended their relationship. It amuses me how both reflect not exactly wonderfully on Nooj.

I like how he describes their relationship as "businesslike." That is exactly what it seemed to be. I adore how Nooj stares into the closet while Paine focusses on his face.

I like the way Paine is rather ambivalent to Nooj's sudden possessiveness - especially the gesture of grasping her hands.

I like the very ordinariness of the final scenes of this story - the kitchen table discussion, the simple symbolism of Paine's shirts all in one place. It's sweet and ordinary and I think that a bit of normalcy would be something precious to these two. They need a little bit of domesticity after the chaos they've lived through (although I am sure they would still partake in some chaos too, being who they are). But with Spira becoming a world where people can work on living instead of dying it's good to see these two just living.
owlmoose
May. 9th, 2006 06:28 am (UTC)
It amuses me how both reflect not exactly wonderfully on Nooj.

Me too. ;) Although it's also an illustration of the verbal sparring thing that Nooj calls her on later.

But with Spira becoming a world where people can work on living instead of dying it's good to see these two just living.

That is a lovely analysis. :) Thanks.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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