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Of Bad Gil Pieces and Airships (11/12)

Title: Of Bad Gil Pieces and Airships (11/12)
Rating: PG
Words: 3,667
Summary: And the truth will set you free.
Note: Chapter 10 can be found here. Index of chapters can be found here.


The high pitched yelp and string of curses coming form the overhead electrical duct made Gippal look up from his project.

“You okay?” he asked, putting the screwdriver down on the metal floor.

“Just peachy,” Rikku groaned, her voice echoing in the narrow compartment. “Remind me again why I got stuck doing all the dirty work,” she grunted as she shimmied closer to the entrance, “when you were the one that was supposed to wire everything together?”

“Because,” Gippal said, grabbing her ankles as she came out of the duct. “You’re smaller than I am. My shoulders wouldn’t fit in there.”

She slid out, her knuckle in her mouth. “I still say that we could have put everything below deck instead.”

“Then it would have taken up too much room and we wouldn’t have any to spare for all the components to the commsphere network.” He took a handkerchief from his back pocket and dabbed at the small cut on her knuckle. “Which I just finished wiring, by the way, so technically I’m still doing most of the electrical work.”

She arched her eyebrow. “And it works?” she asked playfully.

He shook his head and grinned at her. “Yes, it does.” He typed out a few coordinates and the screen at the right of the bridge flared to life. The picture was grainy at first, but then slowly came into focus enough for Rikku to recognize it as the conference room for the Youth League. “Huh. Guess the Noojmeister isn’t home.”

“Nice job,” Rikku reached out and swiveled the camera’s limited angles. “And it hasn’t made any scary crackling noises or anything. I’m impressed.”

Gippal wrapped his arm around her waist and propped his chin on her shoulder. “About time you started recognizing my genius, woman.”

“I’m sorry I ever doubted you, oh fearless leader.” It would have sounded more convincing if she hadn’t laughed. “But I do want to see if the speaker system works. Can you find us a link where there’s guaranteed to have someone to talk to around?”

He didn’t think; his fingers automatically typed up the Mi’ihen branch’s number. The picture sharpened and Gippal frowned. “That’s weird. I didn’t know Rin had moved this sphere into his office.”

“Gippal?” Rin’s voice could be heard in the background. “Is that you?” The two of them could hear heavy footsteps as Rin came closer. The camera angle swung about as the sphere in Rin’s office was picked up and put back down on top of what looked to be a desk full of neatly organized ledgers and statements. A few of the books were open and Gippal noticed that where Rin’s neat script usually filled up every nook and cranny of the page, there was a lot left blank.

“Yeah, it’s me. Did we catch you at a bad time?” Another look made Gippal wonder just how often Rin had actually been using the office as a place to conduct business; everything was neat, almost too neat to actually be in working order.

Rin sat down at his desk chair and the two of them finally got a good look at the older man. Gippal had just talked to him at the beginning of the week, but since then, Rin had a growth of stubble around his normally clean-cut jaw and his hair looked as if he had run his fingers through it repeatedly. He looked tired – there were dark smudges under both of his eyes and the faint laugh lines and crinkles that had started to appear around his mouth were more prominent than either Rikku or Gippal could ever remember then being. “No,” he said. “It’s never a bad time to hear from you. How’s your mother?”

“She’s doing okay,” Gippal replied. “Driving me crazy like usual.”

Rin laughed. “It seems to be a talent she has, doesn’t it?” He sighed and absently smoothed a wrinkle in his coat. “She hasn’t said anything about when she might come back –” he stopped himself, as if unsure about his words, “home, has she?”

Gippal shook his head. “No. Every time I try to talk to her about what’s going on, she changes the subject.”

Rin looked down. “I thought that she would.”

Rikku piped up. “What is going on between the two of you anyway? All that Lina told me was that the two of you were having difficulty seeing eye to eye with something.”

The laugh Rin gave didn’t sound happy. “I have to hand it to her; Lina is the queen of understatements. I asked her to marry me.”

Gippal winced. “Ouch. Did she tell you no before or after she ran off?”

“Truthfully, she didn’t give me an answer one way or the other. She was just gone the next morning.” Rin slumped in his chair. “You know how often I’ve tried to get a hold of her; has she truthfully said nothing to you?”

“Sorry, but she’s been pretty quiet about it. She has been acting weird, like there was something on her mind that she was struggling with. You know her drill when she gets that way: my office hasn’t been this clean since before I moved into the temple.”

“I just wish she would talk to me. It doesn’t matter if she says yes or no, I miss her.”

Gippal nodded. “I’ll see what we can do to get her to open up.”

Rin sighed. “Thank you.”

“Anything else that you want us to tell her?”

Rin shook his head. “No. Just tell her that I love her and…” he ran a hand through his hair. “Just that I love her.” Then he reached out and the vidscreen faded to black.

“Wow,” Gippal whistled, rocking back on his heels. “I knew that something big was happening between those two, but I didn’t think that it was this big.”

Rikku nodded. “No wonder she’s been looking like she was guilty about something. I bet she’s felt awful about leaving Rin without any explanation. I know that…” she stopped, thinking back on just how she had left Gippal four years ago without any explanation of any kind. “It must be hard for her to deal with,” she finished lamely.

“Yeah, it must be.”

Rayne came up to them then and propped his hip against the console. “Is there any reason that she would do something like that?” he asked. He had seen Lina walking around the temple grounds by herself many a night well after everyone had gone to bed, looking as if she was struggling with something. He didn’t have much experience when it came to women, but he had occasionally walked with her. At first, he had claimed insomnia as his reason to be up so late, but she had told him early on that Gippal and Rikku had explained everything to her. He had been grateful, because he really hadn’t wanted to lie to her about his existence like he had been to everyone else. Several times, the topic of their nightly discussions had been their respective lovers and he strongly felt that Lina loved Rin very much. Why she would turn his proposal down was beyond him.

“I don’t know. Rikku, you got anything?”

“Nope.” She looked around. “You two want to call it a night? I’m beat.” That and it would give her enough time to talk to Lina girl-to-girl after she grabbed a shower and something to eat.

Gippal nodded. “I guess. I mean, there’s not much left to do now and…”

Rayne cut him off. “Call it a night. We really did a lot today.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. Go grab a beer or something, you deserved it.” He gave a crooked grin and made shooing motions with his hands. Leaning back against a wall, he crossed his arms and watched as Rikku and Gippal walked out of the ship. As they walked towards the temple, Rayne noticed that Rikku took Gippal’s arm as she laughed at something he said. He smiled softly, remembering how he and Aya used to walk the streets of Zanarkand hand in hand just like that. He could see daily that time had moved on and that the world was different since he had died, but it still felt weird to him. All that time underwater without any memory or consciousness made it feel as if he had been away from Aya for mere weeks instead of centuries. He looked around. The work on the exterior of the ship had been completed as well as work in the engine room. There had been several tests and everything was in working order as far as flight went. After a few circuits around the area, both Rikku and Gippal had wanted to fly off to Zanarkand when it was certain that the ship wouldn’t crash to the ground. Rayne had told them no. He wanted to be with his girl again so much that it hurt, but he also wanted to see the ship he used to own be restored to her former glory. Aya would understand, he knew it.

As it was, there wasn’t much left to do any more. The bridge was almost complete and the galley kitchen had been fitted with everything that it needed to operate. The sleeping quarters had been transformed into a mobile office for Gippal, with a bed in the corner almost as an afterthought. He shook his head. Really, the man was a workaholic. No wonder Rikku had to go drag him out of his office every once and a while. Not that she was any different. There were nights that workers had to coax her out of her work with the lure of food, seeing that more often than not, she skipped lunch.

“Just a while longer,” he whispered, going to sit in the pilot’s seat. Running his hands over the new leather armrests, he stared out of the windshield. “Just a while longer.”

***

Rikku found Lina sitting outside tossing little pieces of bread to the monkeys that occupied much of the temple grounds. They hadn’t gone inside since she’d been there, so she guessed that Gippal had set something up to keep them out and away from the machines. She could only imagine what sort of mischief they could get into otherwise.

“Hey,” she said, sitting down on the bench next to Lina.

“Evening. Did you finish working for the day?”

“Yep. We don’t have a lot left to do; if we keep to this schedule, we could get finished this week, if not sooner.”

Lina smiled. “That’s great news. I’m sure you’re happy with how progress has gone. I know that my son is.”

Rikku fidgeted. All through her shower, she had wondered how she was going to broach the topic of Rin. “Yeah, he really is. We got the commsphere network up and running today. Gippal did most of the wiring, so I was kind of worried.”

Lina laughed. “Do you still tease him about the time he melted that circuit board?”

“Well, you have to admit, his goof up cost Home to not have electricity for three straight days.

“And how did his work today go?”

“Really well. We managed to find somebody to talk to.” She looked at Lina from the corner of her eye. “Rin says hello, by the way.”

Lina stiffened. “He did?”

“He did.”

She put the bread aside, which a monkey instantly grabbed and ran away with. “How did he look?”

Rikku pushed her hair out of her eyes. “Not good. He looked like he hasn’t slept well in a while, if not weeks.” She silently added not since you’ve left.

Lina bit her lip. “I think that I might be the reason for that.” She sounded miserable. “You know how long Rin and I have been seeing the other.”

“Since as long as I can remember. The two of you are great for the other.”

“In all that time, he never asked me to marry him. Until recently.” Rikku swore that Lina’s lips started to finely tremble.

“What did you tell him?” Thinking it was best to play ignorant, she waited patiently for Lina to answer.

“What does it look like?” The laugh she gave was hollow sounding and bitter. “I ran.”

“But why? Don’t you love him?”

Her answer came instantly. “Of course I love him! I’ve always loved him, even before I married Gippal’s father.”

“Then what’s the matter? Why not say yes? It’s not like the two of you haven’t been living together for years anyway.”

Lina wrung her hands. “It’s difficult to explain. I guess it started a long time ago.” She stared off in the distance for a while before continuing. “Before Rin, even before Amal, I fell in love with someone else. We were both just kids then, probably no older than twelve, when he was killed in a fiend attack. I was devastated, but as the years went by, I was able to accept his death and move on. That’s when Amal started courting me. And I loved Amal very much, even more than I had loved that boy. When I heard the news that Sin had gotten to the ship he was on, it very nearly did me in.”

“And that’s when Rin came around to help out.”

Lina nodded. “Rin was always in the background, and I had a feeling that he felt something for me, but I was never certain. Growing up, I had started to care for him but never knew how to tell him, especially since we were friends. I worried that if he hadn’t felt the same that I would have lost his friendship, which was something that I didn’t want to do. If he would have told me that he had loved me before I had married Amal, I most certainly would have ended things. But then I wouldn’t have had Gippal, so I guess things work out in their own ways.”

Rin sat back. Hearing Lina talk, it was as if history was repeating itself. Before, Rikku thought that Gippal might have had feelings for her that went beyond friendship, but she could never tell if he was playing around or was serious about things, especially the way that he teased her about everything. And she had valued his friendship too much to risk losing it if he hadn’t returned her affections, so she had stayed quiet and watched as he went out with other women. And just like Lina, she had run away instead of dealing with it, quietly stepping away from Gippal’s life without so much as a goodbye.

“He loves you,” she said quietly.

“I know. Which is why I won’t marry him.” She looked down, her hands clenched tightly in her lap. “I don’t want him to wind up dead as well.”

Rikku stared at her. “What? Do you honestly think that the two people you cared for died because they loved you?”

“It isn’t that hard to believe, especially since they wouldn’t have died if they hadn’t known me.”

Rikku shook her head. “That’s crazy. It wasn’t like you were the one that killed them. That boy died in a fiend attack, which is pretty common in the desert, even now with beefed up patrols. Pop’s been trying to make things safer for everyone in New Home, but the fiends attack just like they’ve always done. And Sin was everywhere. It was hard not to get into an attack.” Knowing what Sin actually was made her wince at her next words. “It was a mindless killer; destruction was just something that it did.

“Things happen; there wasn’t anything that you could have done to prevent them from dying and you didn’t do anything that caused their deaths. Everyone dies; it was just their time.”

Lina bit her lip. “It’s easy for you to say that.”

Rikku shrugged. “And you’re totally underestimating Rin. The guy bounces back from everything; he’s lived with you for how many years and survived?” She leaned forward and rested her elbows on her knees. “He really misses you. He looks terrible from just a month away, think about how much worse he’d be if you stay away any longer.”

Now it was Lina’s turn to look at Rikku critically. “Probably as bad as my son did when you left him.”

Rikku tilted her head. “Gippal wasn’t that bad off; he didn’t have time to think about me with all the girls that he dated.”

“Why do you think he dated so many? They weren’t you.” Lina paused and reached out to touch Rikku’s hand. “He’s loved you for as long as he’s known you. It hurt him more than he would let on when you disappeared from his life.”

Rikku blinked. “He doesn’t love me.” He couldn’t. “I mean, I know he likes me, but…”

“Honey, I’ve known you since before you were born. I consider you a very bright woman, but when it comes to Gippal, you have a severe blind spot. He loves you. The question is, do you love him?”

Rikku felt as if her heart was doing summersaults inside her body. Opening and closing her mouth several times, her mind flashed back to the past month. All the times she and Gippal had spent, the way that he looked at her, the way she felt about him, how she loved waking up next to him, everything. “Oh,” she whispered, realization making her hot and cold all at the same time. “I have to go.” She stood up, her knees wobbly. “Talk to Rin. He deserves some sort of explanation.”

“I will, if you tell my son how you feel about him.”

“That’s where I was going in the first place.”

***

Gippal stared at his desk. It was too orderly. The distinct lack of paperwork overflowing made concentrating on the legal wording of the contract he was working on difficult. Tapping the pencil he held in his hand against his teeth, he crossed out several lines and pondered how to reword them.

“Hey, how did things go with Mom?” he asked, looking up when he saw the door open and Rikku stand in the threshold. He frowned when all she did was stand and stare at him as if she hadn’t seen him before in her life. “Rikku?”

“Did you date all those girls because I left?” she asked, closing the door behind her.

“What?”

“Four years ago. Did you date all those girls everyone at Home said you dated because I left?”

“Who told you that?”

“Your mother.”

Gippal rubbed at the back of his head. “I thought we’d already talked about this. No jealousy, remember?”

She shook her head. “This isn’t about jealousy, Gippal. It’s about if you loved me before or not.” She swallowed hard. “It’s about if you love me now.”

He stood up. “Back then, I tried to get a feel for how you felt about me. Every time I tried to let you know that I was interested, you gave me the vibe that you weren’t into starting a relationship past anything resembling friendship.

“I’m not gonna lie; when you fell off the planet, it really hurt. It made me feel like you didn’t value our friendship as much as I had thought you did.”

“That’s not why I left,” she told him.

“Then why did you?” Before, he had just accepted that she had walked away. He figured that she had her own reasons and wasn’t going to press her to explain, but now that she was bringing things up, he wanted to know. Moving so that he was standing in front of her, he asked, “What made you leave me? Leave us?”

She stared up at him. “I never knew you were interested in me. I just thought that you were always teasing. When you kept on seeing other girls, it hurt. I…” she bit her lip and looked him in the eye. “I loved you too much to just sit back and pretend I was happy being just a friend. That’s why I left.”

He took a step backward, as if her news was a physical blow. “You loved me?”

“Since I was ten. Probably even before that. I’ve always been in love with you, you dope.”

She should have expected him to react to the news in a positive light, seeing that Lina had told her that Gippal loved her, but the fierce hug that he gave her still took her breath away. She felt his hands fist into the fabric of her shirt, sighed at the way he buried his face against her throat. “You love me,” she heard him mutter, his words muffled by her skin.

“I’m so sorry I left for so long,” she whispered, her throat tight as she slid her arms over his shoulders, her fingers in his hair. “I’m so, so sorry.”

He lifted his head and let her go long enough to frame her face with both his hands as he kissed her, long and deep. “I’m sorry I never told you how much I loved you before,” he said, his lips brushing against hers with every word.

“So, new rule?” She held onto him tightly, her head against his chest. “No matter what, we let the other know what we’re thinking so there’s no more confusion.”

He pressed his cheek against the crown of her head, her hair soft against his skin. “I can live with that.” His hands slid down the bare skin of her arms and he enjoyed the fact that she shivered and that it was his touch that made her respond that way. Tangling his fingers with hers, he brought her hand up to his lips for a kiss.

“E muja oui,” he said, knowing then that he’d never get tired of telling her that.

Rikku smiled. No matter what, she’d never get tired of hearing him say it either.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
sixpoint
Jun. 14th, 2008 01:56 am (UTC)
I think your writing is definitely a source of inspiration. This is one of the fics I think I'll never get sick of reading ^^;
Looking forward to more, loving it so far.

(i suppose this comment is a little late.. i haven't been keeping up XD")
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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