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Stripes

Title: Stripes
Rating: PG
Challenge: tan lines
Words: 749
Note: Happy (belated) Birthday, gippikuislove!


“Get out of my light.” His demand was sleepy, the foot he used to push at her side barely touching its mark.

“Aww, am I ruining someone’s nap?”

“Trying to keep an even tan going here, Cid’s Girl.”

She rolled her eyes. They were in the middle of the desert, for crying out loud. Her eyes drifted down to the boy lying on the blanket they had brought. Barely sixteen, Gippal was all golden hair and bronzed skin. The lean muscles of his arms had been created by years of hard work, not by hefting weights for fun, like some of their people that had wandered beyond Bikanel and back had reported Yevonites doing. The only place that wasn’t entirely kissed by the sun was a thin strip of pale skin that ran diagonally across his face, usually covered by the patch he wore. She couldn’t help the ridiculously pleased giggle at the thought that out of all the other girls in Home who were prettier, more sophisticated and less accident-prone, he had chosen to be here, with her.

“I’m serious,” he mumbled, his eyes closed. “Tanning time means no Rikku blocking out my light.”

“Dad’s going to kill us when he finds out we’re missing.” They were supposed to be helping out with preparations for the big salvage attempt her father was organizing. Going to a remote island ruin in the hopes of finding a long lost ship under the waves without even knowing for sure if it was really there was right up Cid’s alley.

Rikku didn’t mind – she was going to be part of the team, and getting the opportunity to leave the island for the first time was something that she was looking forward to.

“Nah. He’ll just yell a lot. Too late in the game to get someone trained to replace you if he does decide to kill us.”

“Well, he is practical that way.” She flopped on her back next to him, feeling the sand shift underneath her. “I can’t believe that you’re leaving.”

He sighed. They’d been over the topic several times. She understood why he wanted to join up with the new Crimson Squad, but he knew that she was anxious about the possibility of him getting hurt. “It’s not like I’m going to be gone forever or anything.” He turned on his elbow so he was looming over her, a serious look on his face. “I promised that I’d come back and you know I always keep my promises.”

She stared up at him, at the careless way his hair fell over his forehead, the way that one eye was cloudy and sightless but its twin a vibrant green bright enough to make up the difference. Her hand went up and traced the outline of his lips. “I know you do,” she told him, believing that if he said he would be back for her, he would.

He bent his head and kissed her. He knew that he’d be joining up for a greater cause and he knew that there was a chance that he’d either get injured or die trying to protect Spira from Sin. He sank against her mouth, wanting to soak up everything about his last day in the desert and lock it away in his memory. His fingers caught up in the clips and pins Rikku used to keep her hair up and he murmured an apology when she winced.

And as usual, it was Rikku who took a situation that was well on its way to getting too heavy for both of them to deal with and put a lighter spin on things. “You’re in my light,” she teased, her hand slipping down his shoulder.

He arched an eyebrow. “Forgive me, oh Princess of the Desert. I’ll just be over here then, while you work on avoiding tan lines.”

She rolled out from under him and laughed. “I’ll let you in on a secret,” she said, stretching her arms over her head. The skimpy excuse for a bathing suit she wore moved with her and Gippal couldn’t help but stare.

“What’s that?”

She leaned forward conspiratorially. “I don’t have any tan lines.” Then she turned on her heel and ran to the waters of the Oasis, diving in headfirst.

Gippal sat up. If given the choice of lazing about in the sun or taking a swim with his girl, Rikku was going to win out every time.

Besides, there were plenty of opportunities to sunbathe later.

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