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Of Bad Gil Pieces and Airships (5/12)

Title: Of Bad Gil Pieces and Airships (5/12)
Rating: G
Challenge: Boots, flowers, ninety-nine
Words: 3,438
Summary: Rikku strikes a deal and Cid proves he can act the mercenary.
Note: Chapter 4 can be found here. Index of chapters can be found here.


“Pick up, pick up, pick up.” Rikku jumped from foot to foot, commsphere in hand. “Come on Yunie, answer the darn thing!”

A rustling sound on the other end greeted her. “Yunie?”

“She’s asleep,” Tidus groggily replied, running a hand over his face, his fingers rasping over a night’s growth of stubble. His hair stuck out in all directions and he looked like he had just rolled out of bed. “Do you know what time it is?”

“No. No, I don’t.” She didn’t care at the moment either. “Can you get her?”

“Okay, but I’m warning you; she’s not going to be happy.” He yawned, showing off a mouthful of teeth before turning his back on the commsphere and leaving the room. Rikku couldn’t help but notice that he scratched his boxer clad butt as he left. Really, talk about not having any modesty! Maybe he didn’t know she could still see him, though knowing him, she figured he knew and just didn’t care. It was his own home; he could act however he wanted to.

Your house isn’t all that big! It shouldn’t be taking you this long! Rikku impatiently shifted her weight from boot to boot and looked anxiously at the front doors of the temple. The unsent guy that had called himself Rayne didn’t seem like he wanted to attack her, but one could never be too careful. Not that Gippal’s office had anything that could be remotely used as a weapon should he decide to storm the place and attack; Rikku made a mental note to buy Gippal a nice, sharp letter opener the next time she had the opportunity. What the hell, maybe I should just leave one of my swords in the corner, just for good measure.

A grumpy sounding yawn cut off her train of thought and nearly made her drop the commsphere. “Someone had better be trying to destroy Spira again,” Yuna growled. She too looked like she had just rolled out of bed, her hair sticking out even more than her husband’s. Yuna’s nightgown was rumpled and she definitely didn’t look happy.

“Woah there Sunshine,” Rikku said nervously, eying her cousin. “Somebody get up on the wrong side of the bed?”

“You do realize,” Yuna started, rubbing at red-rimmed eyes. “That I have only been asleep for ninety-nine minutes. That’s an hour and thirty-nine minutes, or if you want to get specific, five thousand, nine hundred and forty seconds.”

“You never used to keep track of things like that before.”

You give birth to a child that keeps you up at all hours of the night. Then we’ll talk.” The commsphere screen shifted and moved, showing that Yuna had picked it up and taken it over to the sitting area. “What’s so important you can’t wait for a decent hour to tell me?”

“There’s a dead guy on my airship.” Rikku bit her lip. “Technically it’s not my airship, it belongs to Gippal, but since he put me in charge of restoring it for him, I’m claiming it until I have to give it over. I almost drowned trying to get the thing up out of the water too. Anyway, I went inside it just a few minutes ago and I met this guy named Rayne. He looked normal when he was in the ship, but then when he got out, he turned all freaky and undead-like. And I think he thinks I’m his girlfriend or something.” She took a breath. “That’s what’s so important that I couldn’t wait for a decent hour to tell you.”

Yuna sat up straighter. “You almost drowned? Are you okay?” Ah, there was the old Yunie that Rikku was used to talking to.

“There’s a dead guy on my airship! Prioritize!” She set her commsphere down and raked her hands through her hair. “He keeps on calling me Aya, whoever she is. Sound familiar?”

“I don’t know, has he said anything about blowing up Spira with a huge piece of machina?”

“No.”

“Does he look in any way like any guy that you used to date?”

“No, he has dark hair. I’m partial to blondes, though I’d make an exception in his case because he’s smokin’ gorgeous when he’s not all zombieish, but…” she caught herself rambling. “That’s besides the point.”

“Has he tried to hurt you, or has he looked violent in any way?”

“No. Actually, I think he was the one that lit a flare and shoved me out of the ship so Gippal could find me.” That was the only explanation she had for Gippal’s side of the story.

“Then I don’t think he’s much of a threat. Some people that die aren’t. There’s just something here that’s keeping him from moving on.”

“Okay, so he’s a big kitty cat. Could you please come over here and Send him?” Even if he didn’t mean her any harm, his presence gave her the willies. Plus, there was someone out there that had loved him once. Judging by how long the ship had been underwater, it was safe to say that she’d died a long time ago as well. It wasn’t fair that he was stuck without her when he could easily be reunited.

“Sure, but I don’t know when I can get there. The ferries leading to the mainland are down for repairs. Thankfully Tidus made it back home before it happened. They postponed all the Blitz games until everything is up and running again.”

“I’d ask Brother to come over and pick you up, but he’s busy right now with some mission or another. He told me about it, but I didn’t really pay much attention.” Out of the blue, a flash of inspiration hit Rikku. “I know! I’ll call Pops. He’ll be more than happy to pick you up if he could get a chance to stick his hand into the rebuilding project.”

“Get in touch with him and let me know. In the meantime, stay away from that ship, just in case I was wrong and this Rayne character isn’t as nice as it sounds like he is.” Yuna turned her head sharply at the sound of a baby wailing in the background. “I’ve got to go. He’s up again. Call me, I’ll be awake.” Then the screen went black.

Sitting down in Gippal’s chair, Rikku typed up the coordinates for the sphere she knew her father had in his bedroom for emergencies. The little light next to it went off and on for several minutes before Cid picked up.

“Boy,” he said groggily. “This had better be important.”

“Hello, vydran!” she chirped. “Sorry to wake you up.”

There was a slapping noise in the background as Cid groped for the bedside lamp. Rikku heard a click, then the bluish screen was bathed in a pale yellow light. Cid scrubbed his eyes with the back of his knuckles. “You aren’t Gippal.”

“I know.”

“Then what are you doing in his office, using his network at this hour of the morning? Do you know what time it is?”

What is with everybody’s obsession with time today? “No, but I have a huge favor to ask you.”

“Spit it out, girl. The faster you do, the faster I can go back to sleep.” Rikku had forgotten just how much of a grump her father was whenever he didn’t get enough shut-eye.

“Well, it’s like this.” She opened her mouth to tell him the real reason, but decided against it. Besides, if she told her father about her accident, he was likely to just yell at her for being careless, which was something that she didn’t need right now. So she decided to tell a tiny white lie. “The power source on this thing isn’t like the Fahrenheit. It’s got us all stumped.”

“So Gippal needs my help, huh?” There was a hah, I told you so tone in his voice. “The boy said that all he needed was you when I offered to help out.”

That was news to her. Gippal wasn’t one to turn down help, especially if it was offered from someone that had experience in whatever project he was working on. “He hasn’t said anything, but I need your help.” She tried for the biggest doe eyed expression she had in her arsenal. “Will you please come over here?” She batted her eyelashes for extra measure.

Cid harrumphed. “Stop lookin’ at me like that. Of course I’ll go help.” He scratched at the back of his neck. “For a price.”

Rikku groaned. Now he decides to go all mercenary on me. “I’m not getting paid for this one, Dad. I don’t have anything to offer you.”

“Wasn’t talking about you, I was talking about your boss. It’s his ship, after all. You want my help; he has to help out on a couple of big projects I need extra workers on over here.”

“I can’t do that!” She didn’t know how Gippal would react to her putting her nose into his business. She might be his friend, but there were things that even friends didn’t do.

“Fine, then I won’t be seeing you later on today. Good night, tyikrdan.” He moved his hand as if to shut off the commsphere.

“No, wait!” No Cid meant no airship. No airship meant no Yuna. No Yuna meant there wouldn’t be anyone to Send the dead guy, which would leave Rikku in a bind. “Which projects? I’m sure he could spare a few people.”

“That’s more like it. I’m working on the coolant tanks for the workshop forge next. Then there’s the auxiliary power supply network for the entire place, and the new drafting room I’ve been working on still needs a few touches, plus four or five other side projects.”

“That’s too many. There’s no way he’d agree to that.”

“Get him to help me on at least five of the big ones then.”

“Two, and you pay the workers for their time.”

“Three, with pay, not including the power supply. Final offer.”

“Done. I don’t know how I’m going to convince him though.”

Cid gave her an impish grin. “You’re female, flirt with him. Worked like a charm whenever your mother wanted me to do something.” He wiggled his eyebrows up and down for emphasis.

Vydran! I’m your daughter; you shouldn’t be talking to me like that!” Plus, that was way too much information about her parent’s relationship. “I thought you didn’t like Gippal.”

“I never said I didn’t like him. I just think he needs to start thinking about setting down some roots. When I was his age, I was already married with a son on the way.”

“So you throw me at him, just because you think he needs to settle down?” She put her palms to her reddening cheeks. Note to self: never wake up your father in the wee hours of the morning. It didn’t matter if she really wanted to have her relationship with Gippal turn out to be more than friends, but she didn’t want to hear relationship advice from her own father.

“You need to start thinking about settling down yourself, missy. You’re not getting any younger, you know.”

“We’re so not having this conversation!” She needed to wrap it up fast, before her father started waxing poetic on the value of grandchildren. “On your way over here, will you stop by Besaid to pick up Yuna?”

Cid’s eyes softened. “See, you should follow your cousin’s footsteps. She was the sensible one that decided to stop flying around Spira all willy-nilly and start a family.”

“Yes, yes. I promise I’ll start acting more like her. Can you just pick her up? It’ll give you a chance to see your great-nephew.”

“Fine, but extra passengers is going to cost –”

Rikku cut him off. “The baby fix you’re going to get is payment enough. You’re not going to wrangle another free project out of Gippal.” Enough was enough. If she gave her father an inch, he wanted a mile in return.

“All right, fine. I’ll see you tomorrow. Let Yuna know I’ll be ready to pick her up by noon. It’s a nice, normal time.” He gave her a pointed look.

“I love you too. Thanks.” She reached out and ended the transmission. She called Yuna back up to let her know when to expect Cid. Yuna really needed a vacation or at least some extra help so she could sleep more. Rikku made a note to go over and help with the baby after everything was said and done.

Leaving the office, she tiptoed back to the front doors. Opening them a crack, she peeked outside. Rayne was still inside the ship, pacing back and forth. Closing the doors before he spotted her, she went back to her room. It didn’t look like he was some sort of crazy person, or that he even wanted anything from her.

That thought still didn’t keep her from crawling into bed with her daggers clenched tightly in both hands, or from sleeping with the lights on.

***

“Morning.” Gippal said, sitting down beside Rikku at the dining table. She had been absently picking at her plate of scrambled eggs while skimming through a pamphlet on the newest elevator schematics she had swiped from Gippal’s desk during her commsphere calls. He grinned when she jumped, her fork falling from her fingers and clattering onto the dish.

“Hey.” He reached out and took her glass of juice, ignoring the half-grunted protest she gave.

“Sleep well?” The bags under her eyes told him that she hadn’t.

“I had a lot of things on my mind last night.” Like hoping that some unsent guy didn’t wind up crawling out of my closet or out from under my bed. She stood up and took her plate to the end of the dining line. Gippal followed her.

“So what’s the plan today?” he asked as they made their way toward his office. He held the door open for her and let her go in first. His hand at the small of her back felt right, like it should have always been there. Rikku wasn’t the only one that had a lot of things on her mind, though the things running through his brain the night before had been completely different than hers. He’d spent the majority of the night sitting up thinking about her and their relationship. Guess brushes with death will do that to a person, he thought. As daylight washed over the temple, he came to the conclusion that it would be best to finally tell her how he felt about her instead of just sitting by and pretending to be nothing more than a good friend.

He just hoped that she would still want to be friends afterwards.

She sat down in one of the chairs opposite his desk. “I guess we’ll go around and start taking measurements and notes. There aren’t any blueprints, so we’re going to have to be careful when we do the reverse engineering process.”

“Have any drafters in mind?”

“A couple.” She’d seen a few people around the temple that had helped her father in the past with different projects. She needed to go around and talk to them to see if they’d be interested in helping out.

“Hey Rikku?”

Not one to sit still, she was up and snooping around the bookcases that lined one of his office walls. “Hmm?”

“I really like you.” He cringed as he said it and rubbed the back of his head. Great way to sound like some snot-nosed kid there, he berated himself.

She still had her back to him, a hand playing with a few strands of hair as she perused book titles. “I really like you too,” she told him, taking a book out of the shelf.

“Look at me,” he finally said, exasperation starting to creep into his voice.

“What?” She turned to face him, her cheeks faintly pink.

“Why haven’t we ever worked together?”

She frowned. “We do work together.”

He exhaled. “That’s not what I meant.” He ran a hand through his hair. “You and me. Why haven’t we ever gotten together?”

She froze. Gippal could all but see the gears spinning in her mind and waited until she got her thoughts in order. “You never asked,” she said calmly. She turned and put the book in her hands back on the shelf. “Plus you were always with someone else.”

“I’m not with anyone now.”

She cocked her hip and stared at him. “You asking?”

He grinned. “Yeah, I’m asking.” He leaned against the edge of his desk. “So what do you say?”

She made a big production of thinking his request over. “Oh, I don’t know Gippal. I had a couple of offers from guys in Luca a few days ago that were a lot more put together than your ‘so what do you say’ bit.” Okay, so that was a lie. Yes, she had been asked out, but this was Gippal. She’d been waiting for him to say something like this to her ever since she’d been eight. She just wanted to give him a hard time.

He rolled his eyes, knowing full well what she was doing. Three strides were all it took to stand in front of her. “Rikku,” he said, playfully tugging at her braid. “Will you be my girl? Will you go out with me and all that stuff?” His eyes were soft as he looked down at her.

She swallowed. “And all that stuff?” She was trying for a more lighthearted mood, but looking at his expression was making her heart leap into her throat.

He took a step closer, clearly invading her personal space. “Yeah. All that stuff.”

She smiled up at him. He was so close that she could smell the spicy scent of his soap and the mint from the toothpaste he had used earlier that morning. “No.”

He blinked. “No?” That was unexpected.

She took a step towards him, making him take a step backwards so she could pass by. “The timing’s all wrong,” she told him. “Ask me again after a few accident-free days.”

Something clicked. “Wait a minute, you think I’m only telling you this now because of what happened yesterday?”

“I don’t think; I know. If nothing would have happened yesterday, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” She crossed her arms in front of her.

He didn’t say anything for the longest, but finally opened his mouth. “You said to ask you later, right? Does that mean you’re interested?”

She blushed, but didn’t back down. “Oh, I’m interested all right. I just want to be sure you’re asking because you’re interested too.”

He laughed low, more as if he were laughing at himself than at her. “I am interested in you.” I have been since you were fifteen, he added silently.

Her lips curved upward and her eyes sparkled. “Then prove it to me.” She held her hands up when he moved towards her, his intent written clearly on his face. She laughed. “Not now. I have to go enlist some drafters.”

He grinned. So she was going to play hard to get. She looked adorable with the cocky smirk set on her face. I can play that game too, he thought, determined to keep her on her toes.

“Fine,” he told her. “Just do something for me before you leave.” He rounded his desk and looked down at the mess of paperwork waiting for him. He was not looking forward to that chore.

“Anything.” Her tone was light, but she thought it was funny that he didn’t already know she would tap dance through the Thunder Plains with the lightning towers turned off if he asked her to.

He smiled. “I’m glad you said that.” He sat down in his chair and stretched his long legs in front of him.

“So what do you want me to do?”

The gleam in his eye should have tipped her off, it really should. “Well, seeing as you want me to wait to show you how I feel, I guess you’re going to have to do all the work here.”

She arched an eyebrow. “What kind of work?”

He planted his palms on the surface of his desk and leaned forward. “Kiss me.” His face settled into a familiar expression that reminded Rikku of the time he had dared her to try and sneak up on a napping cactuar when they were kids. “And not some little peck on the cheek either. Kiss me like you mean it.”

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