Thursday, April 4, 2013

Shipping Contest: RhiaxCristoph

The Library Arcanium had many rooms. In one of these rooms, three girls plotted together in an attempt to make a point.

"What are we going to do? I mean, whenever we give Rhia and Cristoph enough privacy to snog each other's faces off, they just stand there and metaphorically stammer." Tash slumped and let her forehead hit the table with a 'thump'.

Jess smirked. "Well. Shove them in a closet. Simple."

"Oooh! I know just the closet!" Phoenixia added. "It's that one just by your room, Jess, for whenever you can't wait to start the fun with whoever your next partner is."

"Mmmm… that one?" Jess closed her eyes in remembrance. "Yeah, that one could work…"

Tash put a hand up to her chin in thought. "No, no, I've got an idea…"


Rhia heard a knock on her door, and put down the Mediterranean recipe book she was flipping through to answer it. The door opened to reveal Michael, and a small crowd of people behind him.

Rhia blinked in surprise. "What… do you guys need?"

Michael backed away from the door and gestured at Rhia. "Ben, if you would."

Rhia got nervous and backed away a step. "Tash?" She called beyond the doorway. "What's going on?"

"Nothing too serious, dear. Just go with it!" Tash called back.

"What do you mean 'nothing too serious'?" It was at this point that Ben had grabbed Rhia around the waist, and hoisted her over his shoulder in a fireman's carry. "Hey! Put me down! What's going on here!" She started to beat her fits against Ben's back.

Ben grimaced. "Rhia, calm down. I'd put you down but you'd run away."

"True." She shrugged. "Still. Put me down! Ben!"

Ben kept walking.



Cristoph was meditating. That was not new. What was new was the small sphere that had just rolled its way into his room.


He peeked one eye open, determined that the sphere was not a threat, and closed the eye again.


The sphere started spewing smoke. Unfortunately, Cristoph did not realize the sphere was spewing smoke until it had nearly filled the room. He got up from his meditation position, and his head spun. He took one step and flopped down to the ground, completely unconscious.

Cristoph's door opened and a vacuum nozzle sucked up all the smoke. Michael, Kyle and Ben walked in.

"That was… much easier than I thought it'd be." Ben picked the used smoke bomb off the ground and pocketed it.

"Yeah, well, he isn't going to be happy when he wakes up." Michael shrugged one of Cristoph's arms over his shoulder. "C'mon, we have to get him dressed."

Kyle grabbed Cristoph's other arm. "Man, he's heavier than he looks."

"It's the height. It's always deceiving." Ben tugged the cowl off Cristoph's face. "I'll get this to Tash and be back to help you out."


Rhia stood, surrounded by Phoenixia, Tash, and Jess, and felt just a little intimidated, as they all had slightly
manic smiles on their faces. Rhia's sinking feeling of doom in her stomach was proven true when Phoenixia opened her mouth.

"Strip." She demanded as she crossed her arms over her chest.

Rhia's eyes got wide as saucers. "You want me to what?"

"You heard me. Strip." She got a sly smirk on her face. "Or I'll do it for you. You can't go on this trip in those clothes."

"What trip?"

The sly smirk on her face got bigger. "We're just trying to make a small point, dearling. So switch out of those clothes and Tash and I will help you into the outfit you need for where you're going."

Tash pulled out a bundle of cloth from out of nowhere. "This is going to be quite a lot of fun for you. Just get into this and let us do the rest. You're getting completely pampered tonight, hun."

"But…" Rhia poked at the bundle, very curious. "What's going on? I'm lost."

Phoenixia, Jess and Tash just looked at each other and grinned.


Cristoph's sight blurred into focus. First he noticed he was sitting in a chair. Second, he noticed he wasn't in the clothes he put on earlier in the day. Thirdly, he noticed that Michael, Ben, and Kyle were standing around him looking sheepish.

"Sorry about that Cristoph." Michael was rubbing the back of his head.

"We were forced to do it." Ben spoke up.

Kyle just shrugged. "They asked for a third set of hands."

"I'm in a yukata, Lord Michael. Why?" He arched one eyebrow.

Michael stammered. "Ehm… I uh, I can't tell you."


"Let me put it this way, Cristoph," Ben broke in. "You have to look good for the part, and the ninja outfit just doesn't cut it. Admittedly, I'm sure she likes your ninja outfit, buuuuuuuttttt…"

"Ben!" Kyle facepalmed. "You're gonna ruin it!"

"She, Ben?"

"Uh… yeah." Ben was now looking anywhere but Cristoph. Cristoph, sensing weakness, turned his glare on Ben, who fidgeted even more. That steely glare was surprisingly unnerving.

"Ben. What's going on?"

Ben, at this point, had put a hand over his mouth to keep himself from speaking.

"Cristoph, look." Michael put his hands on his hips. "Can you trust us?"

The ninja narrowed his eyes. "You wouldn't like my answer."

Michael twitched. "I'll ignore that. I promise that where you're going is relatively harmless. The plot hole is just across the hall. Your partner is already waiting for you."

Cristoph glared at Michael, thought about it for a moment, and realized it wasn't worth fighting over. He sighed. "Fine. But one more thing. Where's my cowl?"

"Uh…"Michael bit his lip and tried not to laugh. Ben failed completely and was clutching his sides. "Tash has it."

Cristoph walked up to the current Librarian, and loomed over her at much as was respectful, and as with as much intimidation as he could emit in a yukata. Tash was not phased.

"Lady Tash, where's my cowl?"

Tash crossed her arms, dangling the cowl from her fingers. "Oh, you mean this?" She blinked, got a wicked grin, and then stuffed it down her shirt.

Cristoph blinked once, twice, and on the third time the tops of his ears turned red.

"Now get into that fandom! Or I'll have you dust the World War II wing with Ben!"

"Yes, Lady Tash." And with that, he disappeared in a dark colored blur.

"Wow. I didn't know you could move that fast in a yukata." Tash shrugged, and grinned to herself. "Now to get to the monitor room to watch." She giggled.


Rhia waited on a small bridge, out of the way of most of the crowds. Tash, after a lot of teasing and giggling over a mysterious reason, had said earlier that most everyone was tired of how reluctant both Cristoph and Rhia were with their relationship, and was just going to shove them together in a date. With no warning. After the initial shock of that statement, in which turned Rhia red, nervousness took hold.

The butterflies were still going strong in her stomach as she waited for Cristoph to appear. 'Well, at least it's the Cardcaptor Sakura fandom, can't get much calmer than this…' Rhia turned from the cherry tree in front of her to look for Cristoph again. She saw his head above the crowd and went to call out to him when the crowd parted in front of him. The words froze in her throat.

His yukata was a deep, dark green, pin-striped with a slightly lighter green to add a pattern. The obi was a steel grey, matching his eyes and adding a neutral to his outfit.

'Oh… oh my. Wow. Um.' Rhia swallowed dryly. 'That's… oh wow.'
It helped that there was just a bit of chest peeking out from the overlap in Cristoph's yukata. After a moment she was able to call out his name.

Cristoph heard his name being called from the side. He turned his head, saw Rhia, and his jaw dropped.

"Oh, Kami, she's beautiful." He whispered, as he took in the sight of her. Rhia was in a light green spring yukata, with silver embroidery drawing the outlines of branches and leaves all up and down it. The obi itself was a forest green, complimenting the rest of the outfit nicely. Her hair was up in a simple twist with two green hair sticks, and a green gem dangled from a silver stud in each ear.

Cristoph went to Rhia, who was blushing lightly. "So this is what Lady Tash planned, Rhiannon? Is there a mission of some sort? I don't know all that many shoujo fandoms…"

"No, no mission, Cristoph." She looked up into his face and smiled, but looked away quickly. "Just… the other Society members got tired of us dancing around each other and our relationship and finally decided to shove us together on a… date." Rhia was now looking anywhere but Cristoph.

"Ah." He nodded once, and unconsciously copied Rhia by looking anywhere but at her.

Rhia grabbed his hand after a moment and tugged on it. "It is a nice day out. I wouldn't mind a walk."

Cristoph didn't quite smile, but the corners of his eyes crinkled, more than enough to get Rhia to beam. "All right, milady, this way?" And he gestured off towards a grove of trees.

They walked for a moment before Rhia asked, "Cristoph? Where's your cowl?"

Cristoph glowered. "Lady Tash… confiscated it."

"Ooooooh." Rhia had a small idea by what he meant as to 'confiscated'. She grinned at the thought. 'Must remember to thank her later.'


More than one agent in the monitor room facepalmed at Cristoph's inquiry.

"Misson? He thought that was a mission?" Michael shook his head. "We dress him up in a yukata and he thinks he's going on a mission? He's more hopeless than we thought!"

"Tash," Jess turned to the blonde. "What did you do with Cristoph's cowl?" By now everyone was wondering the exact same thing. Tash got the same wicked grin from earlier and patted her chest. The whole monitor room exploded with various levels of giggling.


Rhia bounced on the balls of her feet, and her head turned every which way as if she was looking for something.

"Rhiannon, milady? Is something supposed to happen? I don't know this fandom."

"Oh. This is Card Captor Sakura. One of the sweeter, less violent shoujo fandoms out there. Prob'ly why it was picked to send us here… they want us to get ideas…" Rhia shrugged. "It's the spring festival… one of the Clow Cards will make an appearance eventually. It'll be nice…"

"Clow Cards?"

Rhia closed her eyes and shook her head dismissively. "Oh, uh, this fandom's version of the magical artifact. Think of a slightly toned down version of Duel Monsters and you're close."

"One will be appearing here? Tonight?" Cristoph immediately tensed up and reached into his sleeve, pulling back a throwing knife. Where he had gotten one, Rhia did not know.

"Don't worry! It's only the Glow Card." She put a hand on his, and slowly the knife went back into its hiding place. "It just makes lots and lots of glowing orbs of light. Completely harmless."

"Ah." Cristoph nodded once, sagely.

"Where did you get your weapons from?" Rhia continued curiously. "Didn't the others confiscate them?"

"I'm a ninja," was the sly response. "I have my ways."

"Oh good," Rhia smiled. "It's just… I have a steak knife strapped to my leg at the moment." Cristoph didn't respond, but he looked vaguely amused at this.


Ben sputtered. "I know we stripped him clean of weapons, so how the heck does he still have any knives on him?"

"Better yet," Phoenixia frowned. "How does Rhia have a steak knife strapped to her leg?"

"Great." Harriet sighed. "Two more knife crazy agents…"


The sun was well into setting as the two walked through a path of cherry trees. Wind lightly blew through the cherry blossoms, making them shiver, and a few of them fall. Poor Cristoph had to duck at times to avoid a face full of blossoms in his face from a low hanging branch.

Small lanterns hung from arches off to the side, softly illuminating alcoves, some of which had couples cuddling close to each other, and others kissing—some discreetly, some not.

Rhia glimpsed a few of these couples and almost seemed to curl in on herself. She remembered her first kiss with Cristoph, and just how long ago that was. 'Now I know what Tash meant. I really do wish he would kiss me. This goes on much longer and I'll kiss him first.'

She sighed, and bit her lip. Getting ever so slightly frustrated, Rhia wrapped her arm around Cristoph's middle. Without missing a beat, he put his arm on her shoulders and started rubbing small circles on her back.

'But if he keeps doing that I might be able to wait a little bit longer. Oooh, that feels good…' Rhia shivered a bit and leaned into Cristoph. Unknown to Rhia, Cristoph smiled.


By this time, the Monitor room in the Library had expanded to fit all the agents peeking in on Cristoph and Rhia's date. And added a few, extra large screens.
"Awwwww….." Most of the Society agents sighed. Poor Emily had walked in a minute ago, taken one look at what was going on, and turned right back around.

"Damn it, Cristoph, kiss her already!" Jess yelled and pumped her fist at the screen.


Cristoph's stomach gurgled.

"I am not hungry." He said pointedly, looking at his stomach.

It gurgled again.

Rhia smirked, "I do believe your stomach says otherwise." She led him towards a food stand. "C'mon. I'm sure the food here isn't too bad."

The bento box the stall owner handed them was slightly larger than normal, and there was only one.

"Wait…" Rhia looked up at the stall owner in question. "There are two of us…."

He smiled and waved it off. "Couples deal. Have fun tonight!"

"Riiiight…." She picked up a miniature rice ball with her chopsticks and eyed it; looked up at Cristoph, and then back down at the rice ball. "Here…" She held the rice ball to his lips.

He took it, chewed it pensively, and then said, "Not nearly as good as yours."

Rhia beamed at the compliment, and took a bite of another rice ball. "Oooh, you're right. This is almost a crime…"

A piece of tempura appeared in Rhia's line of sight and she realized that he was feeding her. She happily took it.


"Oh, god," Jared groaned. "Are those carnival games I see coming up? I always hated those things."

"You may hate it," Chloe elbowed him in the ribs. "But it looks like Cristoph and Rhia are going to be in their element. Especially with that shooter game I see off to the side…"

"Oi! Quiet!" Michael threw a piece of popcorn at their heads. "I can't hear anything!"


Rhia settled down behind the gun to eye her target. Her breathing slowed until her shoulders barely moved up and down. To any outsider who didn't know her, Rhia looked almost like a statue. It was the only time she really did stop moving, to zero in on a target with her sniper rifle. Otherwise she couldn't stop moving in one way or another. Her eyes narrowed as they zeroed in on exactly where she wanted to, the bulls eye in the very back. Her finger moved on the trigger, and the target shattered a millisecond later.

Rhia exploded out of her still stance. In her joy, she leapt onto Cristoph and hugged him. He caught her around the waist. They found themselves looking at each other's eyes after a moment.

'Oh, screw waiting for him….' She pressed her lips against his and held. It worked after a moment when she felt Cristoph's arms encircle around her back and squeeze tighter.

A dry cough from behind them broke them out of their kiss, and they separated slightly breathless to see a vaguely amused stall owner. She motioned behind her to the prizes. "You get any one you want. That target was our hardest."

Rhia tilted her head as she looked over the choices. After a moment, she darted towards a corner and came back with something small in her hands. She waved a quick thanks to the stall owner and faced Cristoph.

"Yours." It was a small, brightly colored, stuffed hawk cradled in her hands.

Cristoph smiled softly and took it. "Thank you. But I don't know what Algazdun will say about it."

Rhia shrugged. "He'll live."


Algazdun chirped from his perch in the Monitor room.

The other agents looked from the hawk, to the screen, and then back to the hawk.

"That'll be an interesting conversation." Jared quipped.


A few stalls over had a specific type of ring toss. You could either toss a ring and get whatever it landed around, or pay full price for an item without taking a chance with the rings.

Cristoph had his sights on a specific item, and he wasn't going to let it go.

"Wait here," He leaned down to whisper in Rhia's ear. "I'm going to go get something, and I want it to be a surprise. I'll be back soon."

"All right." And the ninja was gone in a quick blur. Rhia sat down on a nearby bench and rubbed at the bottom of her feet. Standing and walking for long periods of time always made them hurt.

'Today's been nice. Actually, it's been wonderful. A whole day with absolutely nothing to worry about. That doesn't happen too often anymore. And I got to see Cristoph in something other than his normal ninja outfit. I doubt that'll happen much either. Unless I get to plotting…' Rhia tilted her head in thought.  
'Nah. I don't think I want to do that to him outside of a mission. Though if I ever get the chance to take the man swimming…' She bit her lip and groaned quietly at the image that thought gave her. 'That sounds good.'

Something touched her shoulders from behind.

Rhia jumped; her heart pounding as she twisted around to see what was behind her, only to catch a very chagrined Cristoph.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." He murmured as he wrapped his arms around her and waited for her to calm down from the fright. "Didn't mean to scare you." He patted her hair as her breathing slowed to normal. "Shhhh…."

Rhia finally relaxed her tense muscles and melted into the embrace. "I'm okay."

"I'm sorry." He cupped her cheek with one hand and brought out a small, rectangular box with the other. "Open it."

The box in Rhia's hand was heavier than normal for a box its size. She lifted the lid and inside was a set of throwing knives. "Oooh…."

"I'll teach you how to throw them when we get back." He kissed her forehead and hugged her close.


Tash stood up and turned off the monitors.

"Hey! It's just getting good!" Willie yelled from the back.

"We've spied enough. They need their privacy, at least a little bit." She crossed her arms. "Now go on, I know you have things to do. And if I see anyone trying to get another peek, they'll be scrubbing toilets for a month!"
The agents filed out slowly, some of them taking their popcorn with them.


"Cristoph? Can we stay here for a bit? My feet are a bit sore." Rhia had a slightly sheepish grin on her face, like she didn't want to inconvenience Cristoph too much.

"That's not a problem, Rhia." He sat back down on a bench, and after a moment pulled Rhia onto his lap. She squeaked.

For a moment, the two just sat there, silent, looking at the surrounding cherry trees. The wind was slightly stronger now, making the branches weave just a bit. Rhia closed her eyes and put her face to the wind, just letting it brush across her cheeks.

"This place is beautiful. You know, I've only seen cherry blossoms in full bloom once before? And that was in D.C. so many years ago. That… pales in comparison to this…"

"I'm glad you like it, milady." He rubbed the back of his fingers against her cheek lightly. She turned to him and was mildly shocked to see complete awe on Cristoph's face.

"What's…wrong? Cristoph?"

He smiled, somewhat ruefully, and took her hand in his. His hand dwarfed hers, small and somewhat delicate, with a few old burn and cut scars here and there from her favorite hobby. "Nothing's wrong… it's just… I am so lucky to still have you." His thumb started rubbing over the back of her hand. "There must be some spirit or kami out there that likes me because I almost lost you. I could've lost you. I did lose you. And then I got you back. You were gone, and kami all that was left of you was one measly video will and then you were back in my arms, scared out of your mind but back, alive."

Rhia looked up into Cristoph's eyes and they gleamed bright silver. If it was from the light or something else, she didn't know but she had a hunch it was more of the latter. "Cristoph, I'm here. I never stopped hoping you would come."

He wrapped his arms around her tightly and buried his face into the crook of her neck. "The time that you were gone was an eternity." A small shudder wracked his frame. "What little reason I had to exist had died with you."

Rhia cupped his face with both hands, at a loss for what else to do or something to say.

"I swear this to you, Lady Rhiannon." His voice dropped an octave. "I will never forget you. Whatever happens, I will not forget you. You are my reason for existence. As your knight-errant, I swear this to you."

He was very close. She could feel his breath on her face. "And I shall stay with you then. No matter where your search for your memories takes you, I will be by your side. As your lady, I will never leave you."

"I love you." His eyes narrowed, just a bit. "My lady." Cristoph leaned in, and kissed Rhia, hard.

His lips were soft, and that's all Rhia registered when she remembered to breathe, when the dizziness got to be a bit much.

They had barely parted for a moment when Cristoph kissed her again, softly, sweetly. And then again on her forehead. By this point, Rhia had all but melted into a puddle. She sat there dazed, with her ear against his chest, listening to his heart.

The two sat there, holding each for the rest of the night until the plot hole back to the Library appeared next to them.


It was dark, and quiet, and Rhia couldn't see or hear a thing.

She opened her mouth to scream and felt the air rushing past her vocal cords, but no sound came out. She did it again with her hand at her throat and didn't even feel the vocal cords vibrating. She clapped her hands and she didn't hear anything. It was pitch black. Blinking didn't help.

'Oh god, not again, no, I can't be here I was saved Cristoph found me…no no no no no no…..'

A flick of something smooth caught her shoulder, sliding down. A sharp edge, touching the surface just enough to not cut through skin. Rhia froze. 'Roxelana… no…'

She tried to scream again. And again. Nothing. Not even a squeak.

'Cristoph! CRISTOPH!'

Rhia fell out of the bed screaming. Sweat drenched the sheets and her legs were tied up better than a Gordian knot. She struggled out of them and threw them away from her, sliding back till she hit the nearest wall with a thump.

It was dark, and too quiet even though she could her herself again. She stood up and dashed for the door, threw herself out of it and into the better lit hallway.

Her bare feet slapped the floor as she ran for the one person who might be up at this hour. Who had some idea of what was trapping her mind.

She opened the door to Cristoph's room and he looked up sharply, surprise and a little bit of something else in his eyes. The ninja outfit was back on, sans cowl. Seems Tash had not yet deemed it right to give back Cristoph's cowl yet.

Rhia walked into his room and saw the lit candles, and noticed that there was no incense burning. She furrowed her brows. "Is something wrong, Cristoph?"

"I am finding it hard to meditate, Lady Rhia."

She sat down next to him and crossed her legs. "Then we're in the same boat. Don't think I can sleep for a while." She nudged him. "Want to talk about it?"

He thought about it a moment, staring hard at the wall in front of him. "I'm… in some sort of liquid. Floating. There's a breathing mask attached to my face. By the time I realize all this is when it starts to go wrong."He shivered. "Coolant lines break… life support shuts down… the people outside the liquid start panicking… the air to my breathing mask stops." He went silent, and Rhia looked dawn and saw that Cristoph was clenching his fists so tightly that his knuckles were white. She took his hand in both of hers and he relaxed. His hand opened and she saw four red half moons on his palm. She hugged him.

"I'm back in that crate with Roxelana… can't see, can't hear, can't speak. I try everything I can to scream but nothing happens. And then I feel something on my arm. And then again on my other arm. It's that knife… she didn't cut me but that made it all the more scary… I never knew when she was just going to come up behind me and cut my throat for real."

Cristoph heard a harsh breathing next to him and realized that it was Rhia, trying her hardest not to panic again.

"Shhhh…." He picked her up bridal style and brought her to the futon. She leaned against his shoulder, both for her comfort and for his own.

"Cristoph." Her voice was a whisper now. "I promise I'll be there. When your dreams finally catch up with you, I'll be there. Because," she swallowed. "Because they look like they're going to be bad." She hugged him again and didn't let go. "My nightmare's happened. They're just dreams now. Yours still have yet to come."

He put his face into her hair. "Thank you. What did I do to deserve you?"

She grinned. "You were yourself, Cristoph. That's all you ever needed to be."

They stayed like that. Rhia was the first to drop off, leaning on his shoulder, and Cristoph followed soon after, his head on hers. If Cristoph stirred from a disturbing memory, it was quickly quelled when Rhia moved in her sleep next to him.

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