The next morning Isaaru left his hotel and headed out to Luca's main square, now packed with a variety of people. The tournament's opening ceremony had just begun as Isaaru joined the crowd.
"But first, a word from our sponsor, Lord Rin!" The announcer--Isaaru noticed Shelinda had found a new career--gestured up at the path above her.
Isaaru followed her hand and saw Rin standing by a sphere on a pedastal, surrounded by three scantily-clad women. Obviously, he's very popular. Isaaru's sigh was lost in the crowd's cheering. It's no surprise, really. He's rich, handsome, and even more famous now that he's invented Sphere Break. I wonder if he'll be too busy to talk to me?
Rin smiled at the crowd, and said something in Al Bhed. "I am looking forward to a fair competition. May the best man win!" The crowd cheered, many people waving at Rin. "Good luck to you."
The group dispersed, some to join the tournament, others to watch or just enjoy the day's festivities. The women hanging off of Rin moved away, blowing kisses and giggling as the went. Rin picked up the pedestal and moved to join Shelinda on the lowest staircase. Isaaru noticed Yuna talking to Rin as he walked over.
"I hope you enjoy yourself thoroughly, Lady Yuna," Rin gave Yuna his usual smile, the one that evinced courtesy but revealed nothing. She nodded once and walked past him, climbing the stairs in search of an opponent.
Isaaru saw Rin turn his gaze back to the thinning crowd in the square, and then saw that gaze fix on him. Recognition lit Rin's eyes in a way that his smiles rarely did.
"It has been quite some time since our last meeting, Isaaru." Rin met Isaaru at the bottom of the stairs and took the summoner's offered hand in both of his own. "It is good to see you again."
Isaaru smiled and clasped his free hand to Rin's. Once again the warmth of Rin's hands surprised Isaaru, this time because of the fact he could feel the heat even in the midday sunshine. It was as if Rin has a fire, a passion in him that heated him regardless of where he was.
"Yes, it's wonderful to see you again," Isaaru released Rin's hand, realizing it would look odd if they held hands for much longer. "How have you been?"
Rin chuckled, gesturing at the activity in the square around them. "Prosperous, very prosperous, and very busy. I cannot remember the last time I spent a day away from my work. What about yourself? You seem ..." Rin looked closely at Isaaru, noting lines of tension in his face and a dull look in his eyes, "... rather tired."
Isaaru nodded. "I am. Life as a former summoner has been more complicated than I expected."
"Yes, it must be difficult ...." Rin paused for a long moment. "What about your brothers? How are they doing?"
"I haven't spoken to them recently." Isaaru glanced down, the half-truth sending a sting into his heart.
"I see," Rin cleared his throat softly, "I am not sure if you remember what I told you when we met on your pilgrimage, but it still holds true. If you wish to speak with me, I will be here."
Looking up, Isaaru saw on Rin's face an unfamiliar expression. A gentle smile lifted the corners of his mouth, and partially lowered eyelids gave his eyes a look that was both serious and warm.
Their eyes met for an instant, and Isaaru smiled again. "Thank you, Rin. I ... would very much like to speak with you, when you have time."
"Tonight," Rin said almost instantly, "After the tournament is finished, around sunset. I am staying at a friend's house; he is away on business." Rin gave Isaaru directions, and promised to be there that evening.
Comments encouraged, constructive criticism adored. ^.^