Coming Home


Rikku was aching in too many places to count and felt badly in need of a shower. She had obviously blocked out how hard and how scary the Bevelle Underground had been to traverse the first time, or she wouldn’t have agreed to do it again. She slouched her way off the teleport disk and just stood there, off to the side, head down, as more of her fellow explorers blinked into existence from below.

She heard Yuna’s motherly cluckings as wounded soldiers were helped to a little makeshift triage area where she checked them over and decided on whom to perform simple healings and who should be sent to the Temple’s clinic proper. Brother came racing over to where Rikku stood when he saw the gore on her torso, but she sent him away again with a slightly short response that the blood wasn’t hers. She knew he didn’t deserve her ire, but was too tired to be particularly civil.

She at last gathered the energy to move upon seeing Paine and Nooj appear together on the platform, body language eminently comfortable, the Youth League Meyvn finishing a sentence he’d apparently begun many floors below. They strolled off into the gathered mass, shoulders together, heads close to converse through the noise around them. Leblanc did not materialize at their side with a “Noojy-woojy”, and Rikku’s eyes soon located the reason: Gippal the Player, flirting easily and openly with her at the side of the transport chamber. A wave of loneliness hit the little thief hard, and drawing a deeply frustrated breath she headed for the door, not even wanting to talk to anyone else, just ready to head back to the Celsius.

Then she stopped, seeing Shinra in the corner of the room, his back to the wall, blond head tilted back, eyes on the ceiling. He had removed his mask. He sat behind his instruments and a small case of spheres, but looked at neither. Sighing, she drifted over and plopped down beside him.

“You worn out too?” Rikku asked.

He cocked his head, not really looking at her. “It’s very stressful down there.”

“Tell me about it,” she snorted. “Try it with a weapon in your hand.”

“I’d rather not,” he answered, voice slow and tired. “I’m just a kid.”

She leaned her head back against the wall in the same fashion as Shinra. “Wish I could still say that.”

From the corner of her eye, Rikku saw him turn his eyes towards her. “No you don’t.”

“I don’t?” she returned, dry amusement in her voice.

“No… you’ve never been a kid.”

The little thief leaned her head forward from the wall once more, turning to meet Shinra’s green eyes.

“You’ve always been Cid’s daughter,” he said. “Our princess. When we were alone and hated by Yevon, and still chased by Sin, you were out front, scavenging airships and rescuing summoners. Then you joined up with Yuna and helped defeat Sin for good, for ever.” He dropped his eyes. “I get to be a kid because you never got to be one.”

Rikku felt her eyes moisten, and blinked rapidly to keep her cheeks dry. “So why do you try so hard to not be one?” she asked, her voice small. “Joining the Gullwings of all things.”

He smiled softly. “Because you can rebuild an airship engine by yourself, and beat Vegnagun, and build a sphere re-creator, and make it to the bottom of Via Infinito,” Shinra said. “I joined the Gullwings because you’re kinda my hero.”

Rikku lost the battle against her tears, but the boy genius beside her was kind enough not to say anything. She looked back forward, and covered a surreptitious wiping of her eyes by reaching for one of the spheres in Shinra’s case. “Are these today’s?” she asked, clearing her throat.

“Yes. The new settings are working well.”

She focused on the sphere she had selected. In between bursts of static she could see what looked like a meeting of soldiers in a room full of maps. “I wish Maechen was still here to see these.”

“He was probably there to see them,” Shinra smiled.

“There are some new scholars taking up his mantle within New Yevon,” Rikku lifted her eyes to see Baralai. He squatted down beside her and picked up a sphere of his own, gazing into it. “Now that you two have helped us find them,” he said, “these memories won’t be lost, or hidden, again.”

“I have a feeling that Yuna will keep you on the straight and narrow with that promise,” the little thief answered.

“Not that she’d need to,” he gave her a typically quiet Baralai-smile, “but I know you’re right.” He set the sphere in his hand down once more. “We’re having a party for the crew,” the Chairman gestured at the group around them, “in the residence later. Along with a mini-unveiling for a reporter at SphereNet. You should be there.”

Rikku sighed, aware of the ache in her bones, and her heart, and not feeling like celebrating at all.

“I’m always up for a party,” she lied.

*   *   *   *   *

Rikku almost fell asleep in the shower. She wanted nothing more than to curl up on her bed and sleep right through the end of the project so she wouldn’t have to go down into Via Infinito again. It wasn’t so much that it was scary — well, there was a certain amount of dread about facing one of those oversized pickles with tails — the Giant Tonberry’s — again. But no, there was something else hanging over her head that made it worse this time: an empty, uncertain future.

Everything she’d done in the Gullwings back when Yuna had been with them had been with a purpose. Whatever dangers they were heading into, whatever great unknowns, they would all still be together for them. But now…

Rikku felt like this was all that was going through her mind lately. Yuna’s imminent wedding, and Paine’s increasing devotion to the Sphere Museum, both hung about her like a Bikanel sandstorm blotting out the sun. All she could do was guess which direction was the brighter and head that way.

She turned off the water and stepped from the shower, pulling her towel from the rack and rubbing it across her skin, her movements lethargic. “Cheer up, Rikku,” she said to herself. “It’s a party. You like parties.”

She slipped her robe over her shoulders and slid open the door to the closet that housed all her clothes, clicking on the light. The little thief blinked as she looked over the shelves. Limited as space was on the airship, she used to share this closet with Yuna and Paine, just as they shared the loft above the cabin for their beds. Not so long ago, these racks and shelves had been full. Now they were half-empty.

At first it had been a struggle with funds, having to choose whether to buy potions or antidotes. Later, she and Yuna had made it an inside joke, arguing over money, when they had more than enough to buy not just supplies, but go on shopping sprees. They always made Paine their foil: “Paine will never let me buy this dress!” or “Paine will kill us if we waste gil on perfume and not weapons!” They did so even when she was around, at which time she’d just glower or shake her head at them.

They did so even when this closet was full of the latest fashions Luca or Bevelle could offer. Shinra once looked into the wardrobe and pondered aloud why they didn’t just use the dress-spheres for changes of clothes and save the closet space for something useful. He was pelted with so many things had to run from the room, all the while declaring that he’d never understand women.

Rikku sighed and shuffled her bare feet as she pushed through the hangers one by one. It was a party, but  it was also a party at the Bevelle Temple. It couldn’t be formal, could it? She hated formal parties. She thought Yuna hated formal parties, but Baralai seemed like the formal party type. Not like—

She swallowed hard and picked out a fun little outfit. Maybe she wouldn’t have to stay very long.

*   *   *   *   *

“The Residence”, as Baralai had called it, was the living quarters for the Chairman in the Temple. Formerly housing the Grand Maester and all his staff, it occupied several floors in one wing of the massive complex and though Rikku had visited Yuna there several times, she always felt one wrong turn away from getting hopelessly lost. Several priests gave slightly disapproving looks to her party attire as she made her way through the Temple, but refrained from commenting out of respect, she assumed, for her friendship with their boss. Or maybe it was because they knew she’d saved their butts multiple times. Either way, she arrived at the party in an irritable mood.

Paine grabbed her elbow as she entered a Residence common room decked with bright, multicolored lamps, streamers and balloons. “Thank Yevon you’re finally here,” the warrior yelled into her ear over the loud music of a band at the room’s far end. “Buddy and Brother are driving me crazy.”

“What, no Noojy-Woojy to protect you?” Rikku laughed.

Paine both raised an eyebrow and narrowed her gaze, which the little thief considered quite a feat.

“Hey,” Rikku said, “Brother’ll drive anyone crazy and Buddy’s got a little crush on you.” She shrugged. “Between Baralai and Nooj both their hearts are a little broken.”

“Well now that you’re here they can wallow without involving me.”

Rikku frowned at her. “Gee, thanks.”

“No,” Paine shook her head, “I meant I can hang out with you instead of them.”

“Until Nooj shows up.”

The warrior put an arm around Rikku’s shoulders and physically turned the Al Bhed ninety degrees. The perennially dour Meyvn was standing across the room, talking with the considerably shorter New Yevon Chairman.

“I wanted to hang out with you,” she said. “That’s okay, isn’t it?”

Rikku wheeled on her friend and threw her arms around her. Paine accepted the hug limply and with a roll of her crimson eyes. Before she could resist, the thief grabbed Paine’s hand and dragged her to the makeshift dance floor before the band.

“Where’s Yunie?” the little thief yelled over the music.

“Probably still in the infirmary, checking on the wounded.”

“How did we make it to the bottom without getting killed, just the three of us?” she raised her hands.

Paine grinned slyly. “Well, I made it because I was with two experienced world-savers,” she said, then executed a little spin move that got a whoop from the Gullwings across the room. She deigned a wave and a wink to them.

“Ugh, you know I hate that,” Rikku frowned.

“What, I’m not allowed to tease?” the warrior raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, you know you are,” she answered, “it’s just that… oh, never mind.”

Paine paused in her dancing, making Rikku look at her. “What is it? Why have you been so down lately? And by lately I mean months and months.”

“Let’s just dance, okay?” Rikku pleaded, and Paine relented for a little bit. Brother chose that moment to slide onto the dance floor and provide an amusing distraction. He had Yuna, of all people, in tow.

“Did I miss anything?” Yuna asked the others.

“Only my spectacular break dancing routine,” Brother answered in their stead, “which I am going to demonstrate to you now!” Which he did, as others on the dance floor moved away from him in trepidation.

Paine watched for a few moments in amused awe, then noticed Rikku had slipped off the dance floor. Scanning the room, she spotted her once more by the food table. She excused herself from Yuna, and approached the little thief from behind with some stealth of her own. “So when exactly did you stop liking being reminded that you’re a hero?” she asked as she arrived.

Rikku, back to the warrior and until that moment entirely involved in whether she wanted the mustard or mayo potato salad, let her head sink until her chin nearly reached her chest. “Not getting out of this, am I?”

Paine reached around her and scooped the mustard salad into the empty spot on the Al Bhed’s plate, then took her hand and led her to one of the brightly decorated tables near the hall’s side, far enough away from the music that they didn’t have to yell to be heard. “Eat, talk, or eat then talk,” she said, “I’m waiting here with you regardless.”

The younger woman ate a forkful of roast…something while she gathered her thoughts. She pondered, occasionally looking up at Paine, each time finding the warrior regarding her with a patient gaze. “That’s freaking me out, you know.”

Paine merely crooked an eyebrow, but said nothing and continued to wait and watch.

Rikku finally sighed heavily and met the crimson eyes, lifting a glass of punch to wet her lips . “When you think of the future of the Al Bhed, like future future, after-Pops future, who do you see leading us?”

The warrior didn’t bat an eye. “You,” she answered.

The thief’s jaw dropped, as did the glass from her nerveless fingers. Paine snagged the cup before it hit the table, then took a sip herself.

“Uhm, what?” Rikku asked.

“I see you, Rikku, leading the Al Bhed,” Paine cocked her head, looking at her friend askance. “Why would I see anyone else?”

The blonde’s mouth worked but no sound emerged.

“Is that your fish imitation?”

Rikku frowned and swatted at her friend. “No! I just… I just— me?”

Paine set Rikku’s cup on the table, then laid her hand over the thief’s. “Is this what your father told you? This is what you’ve been upset about?”

The Al Bhed lowered her eyes. “I don’t get it. How can the two of you see it, and I don’t? I’m no leader.”

Suddenly Rikku felt a hand on her shoulder, and Buddy’s amused voice from behind her. “You don’t think we actually follow Brother, do you?”

She hopped from her chair, cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “Hi guys!” she said to Buddy, Shinra, and the just-arriving Brother. “No more dancing?”

“Yuna got snagged to talk by Baralai and Nooj,” Shinra said, “and Brother needs an audience for his dancing.”

“I got hungry,” the mohawked Al Bhed answered, brandishing the plate in his hand. He sat beside Paine, and gestured back at his fellow male crewmates. “Go get food.”

The other two shrugged and headed for the chow line.

“What are we discussing?” Brother asked the women, then shoved a huge spoonful of mashed potatoes into his mouth.

“The future,” Paine answered.

“The future of what?” he responded, not bothering to swallow first.

Rikku cuffed him on the back of the head, sitting back down. “Don’t talk with your mouth full.”

“Quit,” he answered, “you’ll give me stomachache.”

The little thief rolled her eyes. “Eating too fast gives you a stomachache, you dork.”

Brother swallowed exaggeratedly. “So, the future of what?”

The shortest Celsius crewman bounded back up to the table at that moment, displaying a small plate piled high with shimmery blue goodness.

“Barkeep brought some of his Sweet Flan,” Shinra said in what was as close to an excited tone as Rikku had heard since he’d beaten her in the sphere break tournament in Luca. He nodded back at the food table, where the Celsius’ gangly blue bartender was fussing over a table full of desserts.

“That’s all you’re eating?” Paine frowned at him.

“What’re you, my mother?” Shinra frowned back. Then stepped back from the table at the look Paine fired at him, and moved to sit on the other side of Brother from her.

“Living dangerously, little man,” Brother leaned in to tell the boy genius. Shinra mocked flicking a spoonful of dessert at him.

Buddy completed the circle at the table, between Rikku and Paine, setting his full plate on the table and carefully laying a napkin across his lap.

“So what are we talking about?” he asked, digging up a forkful.

“The future,” Brother answered.

Shinra raised his head, mouth full of Sweet Flan. “The future of what?”

Paine smiled slightly, eyes on Rikku. “The Al Bhed.”

The others fell silent, and began looking back and forth from the warrior to the thief. The two weren’t talking, but clearly something was hanging in the air between them.

“Is this about Cid?” Shinra finally spoke. “I hear he hasn’t given up his quest to rebuild Home.”

“Father? Give up?” Brother rolled his eyes. “Never.”

“Yeah,” Buddy agreed, “not his style.”

“He, uhm,” Rikku said, “even tried to get the help of the Guado.”

“The Guado?!” Brother exclaimed, startled.

“Wow,” Buddy shook his head, fork poised before his mouth. “That takes guts.”

“Guts?” Brother spat. “It’s ridiculous!”

Rikku stared at her brother. Her voice was tight. “Do you have any idea,” she said, “what it was like for him to do that? How much of his pride and anger he had to swallow? Just to hear them whine that they were ‘too weak and fragile’ to help?”

Shinra had set his spoon down on the table, and was staring straight ahead. “I remember it was such a normal day. My mom was worried that all the summoner raids… that Yevon was going to track us down and punish us for it. I heard her talking with my dad about it, but he said we were safe in Home. I… it was the only place I knew, so it really didn’t make sense to me; I was just worried that my mom wouldn’t let me play outside, and was happy that my dad talked her into it.”

The others had fallen silent, looking at the boy.

“I was outside Home with my best friends Fylo and Merrin. They wanted to sneak off to the Cactuar Nation but we knew we weren’t allowed anywhere near that far. We’d gone as far as the sandragora pits when we started to hear this sound…”

Rikku laid her hand on the boy’s shoulder, rubbing gently.

“…it was gunfire and fiends and screaming. I’d heard them all before, even though I’d only ever been a stone’s throw from Home. But this was so loud and jumbled that—”

“It was like some new sound altogether,” Brother finished for him.

Shinra paused, as if having trouble forming the words. “I… we, we tried to get back… back inside, but… that whole wing of Home was on fire and… Fylo ran inside anyway, crawling over some fallen debris and—”

His eyes blinked, and he looked up at Rikku then. “Cid was the one who took my hand. I’d lost track of Merrin when we tried to follow Fylo. Cid took my hand and led me to the airship.” His small hand lifted from the table, starting to raise towards Rikku’s face. “I’ll never forget his eyes. How he knew everything I was feeling just then, and yet, what had to be done.”

Rikku took his reaching hand in hers and just held it gently. She took a breath, then turned back to the others. “Pops got the Al Bhed back together after Yevon had scattered us to the winds,” she said. “He believes that we’re still better off together, with some place to call our own, than left divided like the Guado left us.”

Paine took another sip of Rikku’s punch. “So the question is,” she said, “do the rest of the Al Bhed believe that?”

“That’s the question.”

Buddy shrugged. “I don’t think that the Machine Faction does.”

“Well they’re an outreach group,” Paine countered.

“But they have influence,” Shrinra piped up, back eating his flan.

“Sure,” Rikku said, “but I don’t think they’d campaign against rebuilding Home.”

“Right,” he looked back at her, “except to Cid. I saw that conversation Cid had with Nhadala and Rin at the hot springs, same as you did. Both feel the Al Bhed are better off reintegrated with the rest of Spira. And Rin wants to build his own home.”

“Yeah,” the little thief sighed. “I know. It was discouraging. Plus whomever he visits for help, Pops can’t get anything very positive.”

“And he still battles on,” Buddy said. “That’s leadership.”

“It would be if anyone listened,” Brother answered.

“Still,” Buddy said, “we’ve survived. All in one place like that, the Guado could have made us the next Zanarkand.”

Rikku pushed her plate away and stood. “I need some air,” she mumbled in apology, then hurried across the room to an archway that led to a balcony overlooking Bevelle.

The others looked after her, surprise on their faces, then exchanged looks with one another. Nearly as one they stood and moved to follow. With a glance Paine had the boys hang back just a bit. Yuna intercepted the warrior as she crossed the chamber.

“Everything okay?” the Praetor asked.

“Sure,” Paine replied, hand on Yuna’s arm. “She’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it.”

Yuna frowned, but let the gray-haired woman follow her cousin without another word.

The sounds of the party were muted on the balcony, and Paine had to pause a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. She saw Rikku’s silhouette against the brighter sky beyond, and stepped to her, leaning her arms on the stone wall that surrounded the terrace.

“It’s a beautiful night,” she said, looking up through the clear sky into the dome of stars.

“It is,” Rikku answered, but her voice was small.

“So many lights in Bevelle, reflecting off the water,” the warrior marveled, “they rival the sky.” She half-turned her head, watching her friend. “It’s like pyreflies in Zanarkand.”

Rikku clenched shut her eyes, and raised a hand to cover her mouth, holding back a terrible anguish before it spilled forth.

Paine turned whole to face her, and took the small shoulders in her hands. “Look at me, Rikku,” she asked, then nearly gasped at the shimmering sorrow revealed in the princess’ eyes. “It’s not just this thing with Cid that’s been on your mind, is it?”

“Please, Paine,” the younger girl begged, “just leave it alone.”

The warrior looked at Rikku, and she ached to tell her of the Fayth’s visit. She felt miserable seeing her friend so sad, but knew it would be worse to give the girl a false hope if the Project didn’t succeed. Best to help her where she could, and keep working on gathering clues from pyreflies. She nodded just slightly, and lowered her forehead to Rikku’s.

The little thief gave her a watery smile.

“So,” Paine said, drawing away, her voice carrying back towards the balcony entrance. “One thing this view isn’t is dry.”

“That’s for sure,” Buddy answered, coming out onto the terrace with the others at the warrior’s hint. “Never hear all those waterfalls out on Bikanel.”

“Sure don’t,” Shinra added, coming to the short stone wall and having to pull himself up to see over it. “Lots more wind, lots less water.”

“The question is,” the Celsius’ navigator began, turning towards where the girls were standing.

Rikku finished for him. “Do I really want to live in the desert again?”

“Does anybody?” Paine asked.

“I am for the desert living!” Brother slapped a palm onto his chest.

Rikku frowned at him. “You’re the one that wanted to fly around Spira in an airship!”

“That was Buddy,” he responded.

The darker-skinned Al Bhed clapped Brother on the shoulder. “That was you.”

“This is not the point,” Brother replied. “I miss the desert.”

“You miss sand in your bed?” Rikku asked. “You miss Pops?”

He looked a little forlorn. “I miss Home.” He hung his head. “Yuna is not coming back, and I want to go Home.”

Silence fell upon the group. But for Paine, each of them had a hole in their lives made by that tragedy. One they rarely exposed, even to themselves.

“So how do we get Home?” Shinra asked at last.

“We don’t, anytime soon,” Buddy shrugged.

“Hey, poopyhead,” Rikku chided, “that’s not very positive.”

Paine’s lips couldn’t help but twitch to a smile. “He has a point though.”

“The likelihood is remote,” Brother hung his head.

Buddy put a hand on his friend’s shoulder once again. “It is with Cid in charge,” he sighed.

“Hey!” Rikku snapped angrily. “Weren’t you just saying he was a good leader?”

The navigator raised his hand in defense. “I do think he’s a good leader. Actually I’ve always thought that.” He gave a sidelong glance at Brother, expecting a reaction but not getting one. “It’s just…”

“He hasn’t succeeded so far,” Brother sighed.

Paine looked over the others. “The problem is,” she said slowly, pointedly, “at this point he sounds like a broken sphere, just repeating the same thing to every one he meets, over and over. No one listens.”

Shinra cocked his head, looking at her. He smiled at her meaning. “Yeah, I think we need someone new saying it, maybe in a different way.”

“With a different attitude,” Buddy nodded.

All the heads in the group swiveled to look at Rikku. Her eyes went very wide.

“Uhm… mmm— me?”

“You,” Shinra said. “It makes perfect sense.”


Buddy smiled. “Because you’re not Cid, but other Al Bhed will give you the same respect, because of who you are.”

“You’re like our Yuna,” Shinra nodded.

Rikku put her hands to her head, shaking it side to side. “But… but I’m not a leader like Yunie! She’s all organized, and wise, and dedicated…. Me, I’m a total mess!”

“Rikku!” Brother took his sister by the shoulders. “Oui yna hudrehk mega Yuna, pid oui’na zicd fryd fa haat.” You are nothing like Yuna, but you’re just what we need.

“Yeah,” Buddy added, giving her a wink. “Headstrong and annoying. Perfect for us.”

Paine watched her friend closely as her fellow Al Bhed expressed their support. She saw her eyes move from wide with terror to round with wonder to crinkling at the edges from happiness, with perhaps just a hint of tears in joy.

She felt her own bit of wonder as she watched. That was her Rikku, ever her Rikku, but still… that sheen, that mask of the fun-loving girl was fading now, and from deep inside had blossomed that wonderful heart, that soul of a leader, the Al Bhed’s princess.

And the Bevelle Project seemed all the more important now, that they might find the one who could truly hold the princess’ heart within his own.

*   *   *   *   *

Just inside the common room from the terrace, Yuna stood, out of sight, but listening. The look on her cousin’s face as she’d passed, along with Paine’s brusque dismissal, suddenly made her feel so out of touch. The Gullwings had been her life for the better part of two years, and yet, as she watched them cross the floor, then head out onto the balcony to comfort Rikku, she realized how little time her life in Bevelle had left her for anything else… including keeping up with the lives of her very best friends.

She looked around the room at the partygoers. Yuna had met many of these people before, during her travels with the Gullwings. It had been such a happy time for her, but so often she’d felt terribly guilty. Of course it should have been enough, as Rikku had often said, that she’d defeated Sin. How much was one person supposed to give, right?

But maybe that was it. She’d expected, from the moment she’d decided to follow in her father’s footsteps, that what she’d give was her life. So when she hadn’t… well, that two years she’d spent, people lining up to speak with her, get her opinions, partake of her wisdom… that time had been overwhelming, but it had also been… familiar.

She just hadn’t been ready for it. Not then.

At the time she joined the Gullwings, Yuna had thought she was looking for Tidus. Thought that he was that part of her life that, having been ripped away, was what was missing.

He wasn’t.

What was missing was her purpose. Her time with the Gullwings showed her that she had the need to help people. It’s what made her happy. But not by sitting in Besaid and hearing petitions and giving out advice.

Being in the Gullwings had led her to these people, these partygoers before her. Warriors, leaders, scholars… people who went out of their way to help others, to make their lives better. Now, she was one of them.

Yuna turned her head as she saw Baralai coming her way. This man, this leader… he had taken in his grasp the reins of Spira’s greatest institution, merely because so many still looked to its shattered husk for guidance and the men who tried to run it before him had fallen to the corruption of its seductive power. He saw what needed to be done and he did it, not for personal gain, but for the good of others.

It was something very familiar to her. Coming to him had been like coming home.

“Hey,” Baralai said as he arrived, lifting a hand to touch her arm.

“Hey,” she smiled at him.

“What are you doing over here, all by yourself?” he asked.

Yuna gestured towards the balcony doorway with her head. Baralai furrowed his brow and squinted through the opening to see the group gathered outside.

“Everything okay?” he asked his fiancée.

The Praetor glanced back over her shoulder and out the doorway again herself. “They’re trying to solve an old problem,” she answered. “One I think they’ve been avoiding for a long time.”

“Can I help?” he asked.

Her eyes scanned the room. “No,” she said, once she’d spotted her target. She turned back to Baralai and smiled, then kissed him. “But thanks.”

Of course he’d asked. It’s what they did. It’s why she loved him.

Yuna pushed off the wall where she’d been leaning and headed across the crowded common room for the food tables along its side, just outside the kitchen.

“Mish Yuna, what can I do for you?”

“Barkeep, can I talk to you for a minute?” She glanced around the chamber. “Maybe in the back room?”

“Of coursh,” the Hypello answered, and turned to shuffle towards the kitchen.

Yuna glanced back towards the balcony before following. She smiled.

It’s what made her happy.

Unsent: Chapter 5