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Of Bad Gil Pieces and Airships (7/12)

Title: Of Bad Gil Pieces and Airships (7/12)
Rating: G
Words: 2,739
Summary: Yuna and Rikku head off to the Farplane while Cid tackles plans.
Note: Chapter 6 found here. Index of chapters can be found here.

The first thing that Gippal saw when he went into his office was Cid lounging in his chair. “Hello son,” Cid said, giving Gippal a smirk. “So you finally decided to move in on my daughter, have you?”

“Oh, leave him alone,” Lina scolded, cradling a still sleeping Jecht in her arms. The boy had inherited Yuna’s dark hair, Gippal noted. “But he is right; it’s about time that you did something.”

Gippal sank down in a nearby chair and kicked his feet out in front of him. “Wait a minute, what do you two mean by that?”

Cid looked at Lina. “Is he really that slow on the uptake?”

“Only with Rikku. Then again, I could ask the same thing about her.”

“So you knew how I feel about her?” He couldn’t believe it.

Lina nodded. “Since you were little. You did have the whole protector thing going on for a while that was pretty obvious.”

Cid laughed at the stricken expression on Gippal’s face. “Good luck with her, boy. She’s going to twist you up in knots until you don’t know which way is up.” He sighed wistfully, which was a very un-Cidlike move. “She’s more like her mother than she knows.”

“So I take it you’re not mad at me.”

Cid stacked his boots on a clean area of Gippal’s desk. “Mad? What gave you that idea? You’ve done a damn fine job here,” he made a sweeping motion with his hand. “Reminds me of my earlier days, back when I was young and full of piss and vinegar.”

“You still are,” Lina said, smirking. “You’re just a lot older now.”

Cid shook a finger in her direction. “Don’t get me started on you. You’ve got Rin so mixed up he doesn’t know what to do with you.”

Lina’s eyes widened. “You spoke with him?”

“Yeah. Now should I tell him where you are? For future reference, don’t go breaking up with a man and then run off without telling him where you’re going. We tend to worry.”

Gippal sat up straighter. “You broke up with Rin?”

Lina fussed with Jecht’s blanket. “Things were moving too fast.”

This is too surreal for words. “Mom, you’ve been seeing Rin for over seventeen years. Glaciers move faster than the two of you.”

She looked down. “Just tell him I’m fine,” she said quietly. She inhaled and looked at Gippal’s desk. “This place is a mess,” she stated, changing the subject.

“My secretary is out. You’re hired until she gets back.” He knew that his mother wasn’t one to sit idle for long. He didn’t know the details about what was going on between her and Rin, but the least he could do was give her something to keep her hands occupied. Plus, Lina was organization personified. Letting her have full control of the chaos that had accumulated in his office would take a huge chunk of the workload off his shoulders.

“Thank you, son.” She looked at Cid’s feet. “Boots off the desk. You’re getting mud on the payroll.”

He rolled his eyes but complied. “You need another hand with that ship of yours?”

Gippal shrugged. “I don’t know. That’s Rikku’s call.”

“Well, seeing as she’s not here and all…” Gippal shook his head. Cid was all but chomping at the bit to get his hands dirty.

“I don’t see why not,” he said. “I mean, you are going to be here until this business is all sorted out.”

“Can’t let my niece and her family walk back home, now can I?”

“Absolutely not. So I don’t see anything wrong with it.” He sifted through a few papers on the desk until he found one with Rikku’s wide, looping handwriting on it. “Here’s a list of engineers she picked out. Have at it.”

“And what about you? Boy your age shouldn’t be stuck behind a desk.”

Lina stood up and nudged Gippal with a hip. “Go, I’m on the clock here.” She smiled fondly at her son. He’d seen the look of dread he had given the piles of paperwork. “I’ll get this settled.”

Gippal leaned over and kissed her cheek. “Thanks, Ma.”

“It’s what I’m here for.”

Cid watched as Lina carried a sleeping baby one-handed and scanned paper titles with the other. Her son had grown into a fine man. He wondered what her stance on grandchildren was.

***
Drums created a pleasant bass counterpoint to lilting pipes as Yuna and Rikku walked into Guadosalam. Things had changed for the better since Tromell took up the mantle of leader four years ago. New shops had popped up, the wares varying from cloth made in Besaid to spears native to Gagazet. Apparently Trommell had decided that the Guado had spent enough time secluded form the rest of Spira and had opened up avenues of trade that hadn’t previously been there before.

And just like the now bustling city, the Guado also seemed to be flourishing. Children ran up and down the paths, their laughter mingling amongst the music.

“I wonder how LeBlanc felt about getting her eviction notice,” Rikku wondered, noting the absence of syndicate members.

Yuna shrugged. “I heard she didn’t put up much of a fuss, especially when she moved in with Nooj.”

Rikku shuddered. “You think she redecorated the old League headquarters?” As eclectic as she was, even Rikku had to admit LeBlanc’s taste leaned towards the tacky side.

Yuna snickered. “Lucil would have killed her.” The two women’s styles were like night and day. As loyal to Nooj as Lucil was, neither Yuna nor Rikku could imagine her letting something as garish as bright red and purple velvet draperies with hearts emblazoned all over them go up all over her old post. The statue of Nooj could possibly stay, even if it was on the creepy side.

They stopped at the entrance to the Farplane. “You ready to do this?” Yuna asked. The portal was the same as it had been on their pilgrimage years ago, the surface swirling with pyreflies.

“Yes.” As a rule, Rikku hated going to this place. She had balked at the opportunity to go in six years ago, not wanting to come face to face with specters of her past. Memories are nice, but that’s all they are, she thought, harkening back to the old Al Bhed adage while she took a deep breath to steady herself. Seeing people who had died didn’t bring them back, it just solidified the gap between them and the living even more for her. “Shame that Tidus didn’t come along.”

Yuna shook her head. “No. I…we didn’t want anything happening.” Tidus had initially wanted to come with them, but she had firmly said no. Yuna had been terrified that something would have happened to pull him away from her that no amount of praying to the Fayth would fix. It was a risk she hadn’t been willing to take. “Besides, someone needed to stay behind and watch Jecht.”

Rikku wound her fingers around her cousin’s hand. Giving a squeeze meant to bolster them both, she stepped forward. “Come on, let’s do this.”

Far below the viewing platform, the Farplane Glen looked as it had four years ago. Pyreflies buzzed about in the ethereal way they had, the glow from each of them lending a peaceful feeling to the atmosphere. Even here, the sound of faraway pipes could be heard, joining in with the rushing waterfalls nearby. It was soothing, but it didn’t make Rikku feel any better about being there.

“Oh, look.” Yuna looked over to where a hazy vision of Auron, in his trademark red coat and glasses, arched his scarred eyebrow at them. He rested the hand guard of his sword on his shoulder as if to ask them what they were doing standing around and waiting.

Huh, trust me to think of the one person that could make me jump into whatever I’m scared of. “He’s probably getting after me for being such a chicken,” Rikku said, putting her hands on her hips. She stared him down, not surprised when he stared back unfazed. “You don’t have to say it like that, you know!” Auron smirked at her and then dissolved back into nothingness.

“What does Aya look like?” Yuna asked, looking away from the image of her parents.

Rikku shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably a lot like me, since Rayne thought I was her. I guess we just think of somebody that fits the description.” Rikku closed her eyes and concentrated.

“She’s very pretty,” Yuna commented.

“She’s here?” Rikku asked, opening her eyes. She looked at the woman in front of them and sighed. “That’s not her.”

“Who is it then?”

Rikku stared and gave a faint smile to the woman. She had her hair cut short and layered, giving the effect of having a halo of pale gold around her head, much like dandelion fluff. Her clothes looked as if they were designed for a man; the brown workman’s pants fit her slender waist but were rolled up at the cuffs to expose scuffed boots and the dark olive shirt looked to be a size too big for her petite frame, the sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Her green-swirled eyes were kind and she smiled at both of them. If you discounted the tiny differences, she looked very much like an older version of Rikku.

“That’s Sayde, my mom. I’m surprised I still remember what she looks like; she died when I was really little.”

“How did she die?” Yuna could remember her mother talking about her aunt when she was young, but she never really went into much detail.

“It was an accident. She went down to the boiler room to mess with a valve that had started to act up. They said the built up pressure caused the explosion. Dad got to her before she bled out, but it was too late to do anything to help her.” Even now, Rikku could remember how Cid had looked that day. He had sat there holding onto Sayde long after she had gone, her blood staining his hands and shirt. It was the first time Rikku had ever seen her father cry.

“Cid blamed himself, didn’t he?”

“Yeah. He would have gone down there himself, but Mom had insisted.” She looked down. “Pops couldn’t ever deny her anything, he loved her so much. Afterwards, it was as if a part of him had died alongside her.

“He was so distant at first, hardly paying any attention to the fact that he still had three kids to take care of. We’d always been close friends with Gippal’s family; his dad was one of Cid’s friends since back when they were kids. Lina took my brothers and me in for a while and Amal talked with him.”

“Did it work?” Yuna looked at the man who had materialized next to Rikku’s mother. If you put an eye patch on him, he would have been an exact copy of Gippal, right down to the devil may care grin.

“It must have. He seemed like he pulled himself together, but something was different. Before, he hadn’t really pushed Keyakku to be leader after him. It was common knowledge that it was going to happen and everything, but after Mom died, it was almost like making sure Keyakku learned everything he’d need to know was the only thing that kept Cid going most days. He didn’t exactly ignore Brother and me, but he didn’t pay as much attention to us either. He’d finally started acting like himself again when we found his airship, but then we lost Home and Keyakku…” Rikku glanced at her brother’s image. Keyakku was taller than their mother, but bore a lot of physical resemblance to her. “It didn’t take him long to slide back to how he was before. This time he tried to teach Brother like he had Keyakku, but it didn’t work out so well. He’d always compare the two of them and no matter how hard he tried, Brother always came up short. Then one day, he just stopped trying and went out on his own. He found the Celsius soon after and I tagged along.”

She stopped talking and looked at Yuna. “Wow, is our family messed up or what?” she asked, swallowing the thick knot that had formed in the back of her throat. “I know I blamed Cid for not being there when we were kids, but I could have tried harder too.”

Yuna squeezed her hand. “You and Cid are trying to make up for lost time now,” she told her. “It’s a start.”

“You’re right. Sometimes I can see the father I knew before Mom died. We’ve had our share of fights, but I’m glad that we’re spending more time together.” She gave a last glance towards the people in front of them before turning away. “Come on. Aya’s not here.”

***

Tidus greeted them both when they made their way back to Djose. “Man, your dad is tough,” he told Rikku over the hum of the hover’s engines. He held out a hand to help them both down as Rikku killed the motor and pocketed the keys. “He’s got a bunch of people scattered all over that thing.”

Sure enough, workers had started in on analysis, carefully recording each measurement as they worked systematically around the ship. They all looked like kids set loose in a candy store, with Cid directing everything as the biggest kid of them all. Wow, Pops sure doesn’t waste any time, she thought. Gippal stood next to her father, a pencil in one hand as he jotted down notes onto a clipboard he held in the other. Every now and then he’d look up and say something to Cid, who would answer back.

Gippal managed to spot them as they walked over and the easy smile he gave her was enough to make Rikku’s heart flutter in her chest. “Any sign of Rayne?” she asked, trying to ignore the way her knees had wobbled at the mere sight of the smile Gippal had flashed her way.

Tidus shook his head. “Not a peep. Either he doesn’t want us to see him right now or he’s still in shock over finding out he’s dead. Did you two find anything?”

“Nothing,” Rikku answered. “Do you think she didn’t get Sent when she died?”

“It’s a possibility,” Yuna mused. “Or maybe she’s waiting somewhere for Rayne, like they had agreed to wait.”

Rikku snapped her fingers. “He said something about meeting her in Zanarkand. Do you think she might be there?”

“It wouldn’t hurt to look,” Tidus said. “You think Cid will let us borrow his airship?”

“Hey,” Gippal said, walking up to the three of them. “Any luck?”

It felt right to have his arm over her shoulder. It also felt right to lean against his side. “No, but we’re headed to Zanarkand. All we need is Pops to let us borrow his ship.”

Gippal twirled a key on his finger. “Already ahead of you. He said that if we scratched his baby up, there’d be hell to pay.”

Rikku looked at him. “How…” she started.

“I had a hunch we’d need it, so I asked while you were gone.” He winked at her. “Details are my job, remember?”

“Well, good luck,” Yuna told them. She stood on tiptoe and gave Tidus a quick kiss. “I’m going to check on our son. You do know where he is, right?”

Tidus looked sheepish. “Yes?” Yuna rolled her eyes.

“Check my office,” Gippal offered. “Mom’s been monopolizing the babysitting time.”

“Thanks. Have fun, you guys!” With that, Yuna headed inside the temple.

“So, when do we leave?” Gippal asked.

“We? What, your work suddenly figure out how to do itself?” Rikku teased.

“No, but a certain leader told me that a boy my age shouldn’t be spending so much time behind a desk. Cid has things covered while we’re gone.”

Rikku smiled. She was really glad he was coming along. “Okay then. Hand over the keys and we’ll get going.”

He shook his head. “In your dreams. I’ve been dying for a chance to fly that thing.”

“You wish! Gimmie!”

“No way!”

Tidus walked behind them and shook his head. “Kids,” he muttered, climbing aboard before one of them arm wrestled the keys from the other.

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