Characters: Rikku, Wakka
Pairings: Wakka/Lulu, sorta; past Wakka/Rikku implied
Notes: "Deleted scene" for yuna_flowering, who requested a conversation between Wakka and Rikku, set during A Guardian's Legacy. For anyone familiar with that story, this fits between the cracks of Chapter 17.
Rikku bounded up the stairs from Luca to the Mi'ihen Highroad, hurrying to her destination. Tonight was the party that Paine and Baralai hosted every year on the eve of the big blitz tournament. They'd been holding this event for three years now, ever since they'd moved in together, and Rikku wouldn't dream of missing it; it was one of the only informal gatherings that the former Gullwings and all their friends made a point of attending. Everyone was so busy now, she thought wistfully: Paine with training new recruits to the Spira Defense Force, Yuna with advising the Ruling Council and caring for her three-year old daughter, Rikku herself with getting machina lighting and other systems online in major and minor settlements all over the world. It was satisfying, flying around with Buddy in the Celsius, working with the Machine Faction, seeing how readily machina had been accepted in just a few years. But part of her still missed being a sphere hunter.
Pausing in mid-step, she tipped her head back and looked up, shading her eyes against the rays of the late-afternoon sun, then grinned as she spied a familiar spike of orange hair up above. Taking the steps two at a time, she rounded the last turn and then ran across the landing. "Wakka!" She launched herself at him and hugged him fiercely. Then she took a step back and looked around, checking for the five-year-old boy she had expected to see peering from behind his father's legs. "Where's Vidina?"
"With Yuna," Wakka answered. "Should be at Paine's place already. I had some things to do. team meeting and stuff. I'm headed up to the party now. You?"
"Yup, I was just on my way." Rikku leaned her hands against the railing and took in the view of city and sea. "Lulu with them?"
She felt Wakka freeze at the question, and she turned just in time to see him shake his head slowly as his shoulders started to droop. "Lu isn't coming this year," he said flatly. His grip on the railing tightened, and he looked down, head bowed, back slumped as though the weight of the world rested on entirely on him.
"What happened?" The question, almost a demand, blazed in her mind and started to force its way out, but she stopped herself just in time. "Is everything okay?" she asked instead, leaning forward just enough to try and get a look at his face. She was only able to see his profile, but the news there was not good.
For a long time he said nothing, staring at the ocean, clenching his jaw. Finally he let out a deep sigh and turned to look at her. "It's over," he said. "I moved out last week."
"Oh Wakka." Rikku's heart melted at his look of total desolation. "Do you want to talk about it?"
He shrugged. "Not much to say. We wanted different things, grew too far apart. Same old story, just never thought it'd happen to me."
Without really realizing she had decided to do so, Rikku laid a hand on his arm, resting it on the crook of his elbow. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I know how much you loved her."
"I still do love her," Wakka said. "But it's not the same, ya? I think..." He turned his eyes out to sea again, although he didn't pull away from Rikku's touch. "She's like a sister to me, and I think maybe that's all she ever really was. We both tried to make it more, for Vidina's sake. But, well, we couldn't do it anymore."
"Vidina," Rikku breathed. "Is he taking it okay?"
"I guess." Wakka tensed, standing ramrod straight in what Rikku had teasingly called his "pillar of Yevon pose" in happier days. "It's not like I'm goin' far, just next door, with a couple of the Aurochs." But his eyes still looked haunted, and Rikku ached for him. She took a step closer and tightened her grip on his arm.
"You'll still be a great dad," she assured him. "Next door or halfway around the world. You'd love him and do your best for him even if you moved to Zanarkand."
He shrugged. "Maybe. I... ahh." He shook his head with another sigh. Rikku wrapped her arms around him and leaned her forehead against his shoulder. After a minute, he shifted, removing his hand from the rail to rest the arm across her back. And she forced herself not to think about how good that felt, not to remember stolen kisses on the airship or the night they had spent on the Calm Lands, holding hands and dreaming about what a future without Sin might be like. She'd set aside those feelings once before, and she wasn't convinced she'd be strong enough to do it again. Besides, he needed a friend right now, not a... well, whatever they had been to each other before, all those years ago.
So she concentrated on this moment, on the grief she could feel vibrating from every bone in Wakka's body. "Everything will be okay," she said in her most reassuring voice, trying to project a solidity onto words that she knew would ring hollow on their own. He tightened the hand that rested on her shoulder, then dropped his arm as she stepped away.
"Thanks," he said.
Rikku took in his weary eyes, his creased brow. "You sure you want to go to Paine's?" she asked. "I can cover for you if you'd rather not. Don't worry about thinking up an excuse; I can wing it."
Wakka managed a smile at that, a corner of his mouth quirking upward. "Nah, 's okay. It'll be good to go, see everyone, get my mind off things."
"Well, in that case." Rikku bounced a little taller and grinned. "C'mon. Don't want the party to get started without us, right? Betcha can't beat me there!" She took off up the last flight of stairs at a run and laughed as he shouted after her, his pounding footsteps only a few paces behind.