Rikku bounded towards the snowmobile as if nothing had just happened, nosirree, and she was all on top of things. She jumped slightly at the light touch on her back as she leaned forward to adjust the steering yoke and footrests.
"May I join you?" It was the mage.
"Oh!" Rikku glanced over her shoulder as the underdressed woman (not that she could talk) alighted sidesaddle on the seat behind her. The Al Bhed girl looked at the position doubtfully, but there was probably very little that could throw the unflappable mage off-balance. "I thought you'd want to go with Sir Auron!"
The mage chuckled. "Perhaps, but not on a vehicle which he does not know how to steer. Come. I don't trust that Guado to look after our summoner."
Our summoner. Rikku digested this as she set the snowmobile in motion. The woman had been quick to tell her it wasn't her fault, after Wakka stormed off in a snit, but Lulu was still Yevonite. Of course, she had been willing to accept Rikku from the start, after hearing she was Yunie's long-lost cousin, and she had shielded Rikku a few times when Tidus' block-headed comments nearly blew her cover.
That was before Brother had blown it wide open with a rocket launcher. Now Lulu knew she'd been keeping secrets.
But apparently Lulu had already used up all her prickly points on the boys today, because all she said was,"Are you all right?"
"Huh? Oh, sure!" Rikku called over the roar of the engine, resisting the urge to gun the motor and find out just how fast this puppy could go. Lulu was taking the machina in stride, but she'd be pretty scary if Rikku chucked her off by accident. Anyway, going faster meant catching up to that stupid nasty Yevonite sooner. Good thing Yunie was up ahead too, or Rikku might've turned around and chased after Brother's gang.
"I'm sorry about Wakka. He'll... come around, I believe. The rest of us understand."
No you don't, the Al Bhed thought stubbornly. If you did, you wouldn't be on this stupid pilgrimage. You wouldn't have let Yunie leave the island. But all she said was, "I donno about Wakka, but... thanks anyway." She tried to keep her voice from wavering. Easy enough to hide tears, as long as she faced forward.
"He loves Yuna too. And I fear that—" The mage stopped, apparently discomfited by her own words in advance. "I think Yuna will need you, Rikku. You especially, because you're only here for her sake, not Spira's. Just... be careful. Please don't run afoul of Yevon. It might endanger Yuna, and at the least you would no longer be allowed to guard her."
Skinny shoulders hunched in front of the mage. "Yeah, I know," she growled, trying not to vent all her bitterness about Yevon putting Yunie in danger. "I'm not clueless like Mr. Star Player back there, y'know."
"No, you're not," Lulu said grimly.
Ugh. These Yevonites could be so bloody depressing. Rikku couldn't resist pecking at a few holes in their hidebound ways. "Speaking of Yevon, why aren't you walking, anyway? Aren't you gonna get in trouble for usin' machina?"
The mage's sigh was carried away in the wind. "Probably. I will have to atone. I confess, I simply followed Sir Auron. But we are also guardians, and failure to guard Yuna is as great a transgression as failing to follow the teachings."
"At least," Rikku muttered, not caring if she offended the prickly woman.
"On that we disagree. But not on Yuna." Lulu's hands latched onto Rikku's shoulders; they were approaching a crevasse, and the Al Bhed was gunning the motor to bridge the gap. The mage's mute sign of fear gave Rikku a petty kick of satisfaction. "I forbade her to start summoner's training, Rikku. Do you understand? But nothing will turn her from this path. So I watch over her, as you do."
They landed with a teeth-jarring crunch, and Rikku had to kill the engine; the outer temple entrance was just ahead. Rikku sagged over the steering yoke as they glided to a stop. "But Lulu, that's—"
"It's what she wants most, Rikku. Enough to defy me, you, or anything that gets in her way. That's what being a summoner means. I'm sorry."
"Yeah." The Al Bhed's face clouded up again, and she kicked the snowmobile with a loud clank before heading for the doorway. "Well, maybe Yunie'll decide she'd rather stay here and have Seymour's babies or something. Come on, we'd better get there before the blockheads and make sure she's okay."