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Cid's Girl

Title: Cid's Girl
Author: iceprincessd
Rating: G
Words: 2,790
Warnings: None
Summary: Gippal could tell you exactly when he started calling Rikku Cid’s girl instead of her own name.
Note: Is there any canon explanation to how Gippal lost his eye? I've looked, but I haven't found anything yet.

Rikku couldn’t tell you exactly when Gippal started calling her Cid’s girl instead of her own name, but she knew that it started sometime after her tenth birthday. She didn’t know why it irritated her so much either. Maybe it was just another reminder that she was the leader’s daughter when all she really wanted was to be a normal girl. Maybe it was the tone that Gippal used when he said it; that teasing, cocky tone of his that made her want to hit him all the time. That’s what usually happened too: he’d call her that name and she’d hit him. Then they’d run all over Home and the hot sands outside, laughing and teasing the other.

Gippal, as angry as he made her sometimes, was one of her closest friends, even if he was a year older than she. They did everything together; they laughed together, they argued together, and they had cried together when Rikku’s mother had died. Rikku had stayed glued to his bedside when he had lost his right eye in a terrible accident; Gippal hung around her even when he complained that she annoyed him. From the ages of five to fourteen, no one in Home could say either of their names without mentioning the other on the next breath.

It was the year Rikku turned fourteen that everything changed, at least for her. Why her stupid brain had to notice how handsome Gippal looked in his work overalls, hip deep in machina parts was beyond her. He was Gippal, her friend. There was no reason that she should suddenly want to sink her hands into his hair, which had always been streaked with sun-bleached highlights that now seemed so alluring. There was also no reason for her heart to skip a beat whenever he did slip and call her Rikku instead of the annoying Cid’s girl either. It annoyed her even more than the nickname did, which made her grouchy whenever he was near. ‘I have a name’ became her irritated reply instead of the customary punch to the arm because even when her fist connected with his skin, she was aware of the muscles hours of digging in the desert had created. She took to avoiding him, which raised eyebrows all throughout Home.

In short, she was miserable.

***

Gippal could tell you exactly when he started calling Rikku Cid’s girl instead of her own name. He had been eleven at the time and she had just turned ten. It was then that everything changed, at least for him. They had been out helping with the dig in section B-7 of the desert. The supervisors hadn’t let them actually dig for anything, but they had been given the job of making sure the workers had plenty of water to avoid heat exhaustion. Gippal looked forward to helping, especially the hover rides to and from each dig site. The drivers usually went through the desert fast, and sitting perched on the leg of the hover with the wind blowing in his hair and clothes, Gippal always felt as if he were flying. He loved it, even though he always kept a white-knuckled grip on the hover’s leg support for fear of falling off. That day he had turned to look at Rikku, who had been uncharacteristically silent at his side. What he saw made his jaw drop. Rikku was sitting on the other leg of the hover, her eyes shut tightly and her arms stretched out wide. The goggles she should have been wearing to protect her eyes from the flying sand were hanging around her neck and the messy yellow mop of hair she had piled at the back of her head was coming loose from its ties and flying into her face. Then she opened up her eyes, looked straight at him and laughed in pure delight.

That was it for him. At first, he tried to ignore all the little Rikku details that he suddenly started discovering whenever he looked at her. This was Rikku, his sometimes bratty friend that he always hung around with. Her pouting was annoying, not suddenly cute. The odd twists of logic that poured out of her mouth whenever she spoke were common and normal, not quirky and endearing. The small cuts on her knuckles or scrapes on her knees should not have made him want to look out for her as much as they did. He told himself that he only wanted to protect her because she was clumsy and careless and always seemed to get herself into some kind of trouble or another. It didn’t take him long to stop lying to himself. A few weeks after the dig incident, the name just kind of fell out of his mouth and stuck. She had been slightly irritated at first, but then out and out annoyed when he refused to call her anything else.

She never asked him why, and for that he was glad. He didn’t exactly know how to say at the time that if he called her Cid’s girl, he couldn’t call her his girl. He knew that she only saw him as a friend and he hadn’t wanted to jeopardize that friendship. It was too precious to him, more so than anything else in the world, though he’d never tell anyone that. Besides, every time he called her that name, she would hit him. He ignored the bruises she always left on his arm because hitting him meant that her hand was touching him and that was fine by him.

When he was thirteen he had been promoted up the line to assembling machina parts and tinkering with them to see how they worked. The last thing he could remember before everything had turned black one day was a huge explosion. The next thing he knew, he was staring up at Rikku’s tearstained face and wondering why he couldn’t open one of his eyes. He had been groggy from whatever medicine they had given him and promptly fell back to sleep. The next time he woke up, it was dark and there was a Rikku-shaped lump asleep at his side. She had curled up into a tiny ball, her hands holding onto his shirt tightly and her head resting against his shoulder. She didn’t move an inch when he slid his left arm under her, but she did sigh in her sleep and move closer when he dropped a light kiss on her forehead.

Getting used to seeing with only one eye had been difficult. The blast hadn’t taken his sight completely and he could catch flickering shadows every now and then if he really concentrated on what he was looking at. If he was lucky, he caught a glimmer of color in the gloom, but it was always quick to disappear. It was disorienting to see the world clearly through one eye and not the other, so he took to covering his injured eye up instead. At the dig sites and everywhere else, everyone around treated him as if he were an egg about to crack. Everyone except Rikku. After the accident, she made sure that she was at his right, where he couldn’t see her. It irritated him to no end, but when he asked her why she did it, she simply replied that he was going to have to get used to relying more on his other senses sooner or later, so he might as well start with someone that he trusted. He had made some wisecrack to cover the thick lump in his throat, winced when she gave him her customary punch in the arm, and then ran away from her, confident that she would follow.

Things kept on in that routine until the year that Rikku turned fourteen. Then she suddenly stopped chasing after him. No amount of teasing could get a rise out of her. He was so worried about her that he stopped calling her Cid’s girl and resumed calling her by her actual name. That seemed to irritate her, so he went back to calling her his nickname. That made her even angrier. Throwing his hands up in confusion, Gippal decided to leave her alone until whatever funk she was in was over.

In short, he was miserable. The mood swing he had hoped she would get over in a few days lasted for an entire year instead. It didn’t help that whenever he did drop by to say hello that she would get red in the face and stammer or that their once fluid conversations were now brief and filled with awkward silences. He found himself spending most of his time watching her from afar and gritting his teeth whenever any other guy her age started to notice just how pretty she was getting to be. There was nothing that he could do about it, but he couldn’t help noticing that she never responded to any of the advances made her way.

When she turned fifteen, Gippal had enough. He had done some thinking and realized that he wanted to help in the fight against Sin. He knew that the Crusaders wouldn’t take an Al Bhed into their ranks, but there was word about a new unit being formed called the Crimson Squad. If he joined, he felt like he would be doing his part in protecting the world instead of sitting in the desert doing nothing. But before he left, he wanted his friend back.

He had meant to calmly talk to her about whatever was going on and how he wanted it to stop. He hadn’t meant to come storming into the shop where she was busy tinkering with some piece of machina. He hadn’t meant to grab her arm and yank her off her stool, ignoring her startled yelp. He certainly hadn’t meant to drag her out of the shop and off to a nearby alcove to kiss her until they were both breathless. It was just that she had looked adorable with a smear of grease on her cheek and her face set in absolute concentration on the task in front of her. It was just that the skimpy shorts that she had decided to wear that day showed off so much skin from where she had been sitting and the light floral scent she wore made his mouth water and that he had missed her so much…

“Missed you too,” she murmured against his mouth, hands sliding over his back in a way that made his breath catch in his throat. He became aware that he said the last out loud and laughed.

“How long have you felt like this?” he asked, hugging her tight to him.

“Since last year.” She looked up at him and absently swiped at the grease on his chin that must have transferred from her cheek. “You?”

“Years. Forever.” He laughed again and kissed the top of her head. “We’re both idiots.”

They spent the rest of the day and most of the night sitting up talking. It was if the drought in their friendship had finally broken and both of them were eager to tell the other about what had been going on in their lives. If she was upset about his news on joining the Crimson Squad, she didn’t let it show. She asked him how long they had before he left and he merely shrugged, estimating that the string of repairs he wanted to finish before he left would be done in a couple of weeks. She had snuggled against his chest and simply said that would have to be enough.

They snuck away to steal whatever moments they could. It was awkward at first, noses bumping and fingers snagging on unfamiliar clothing, but it never went any further than that. Time, the watchful eye of her father and the overprotective glare of her brother factored into their short-lived relationship.

“Don’t you cry over me, Cid’s girl,” he told her the day that he left Home. She had punched him hard in the shoulder and kissed him even harder before pushing him towards the main entrance. That was the last that he saw of her until months later, Home in a burning ruin and fiends attacking everywhere. Things had changed; his involvement in the Crimson Squad was forcing him to go into hiding. There was no way that he could involve Rikku in it. Besides, she was a big-time guardian now, going up against Sin herself to try and save the world. When she found him on the airship after Home’s destruction, he hadn’t wanted to let her go, but he had to. He had told her that he would be there when she got back, but knew it was a lie. When the airship stopped for repairs, he nimbly hopped off.

“Take care of yourself, kid,” he whispered, staring off towards the mountains of Gagazet and beyond, where Rikku’s journey would eventually end.

***

Two years later found both of them on different ends of the world. Rikku and her friends had indeed managed to save Spira, beating Sin for good and bringing the Eternal Calm. Gippal found himself as the Machine Faction’s leader. He still couldn’t understand why people that he had known since he was a kid looked up to him, an eighteen-year-old guy, as their leader. He just hoped that he wouldn’t fail them. He had purposely chosen the abandoned Djose temple as his headquarters for a couple of reasons. One, the lightning that ran through the temple served as a never-ending supply of energy for machina research and production. It was practical. The second reason was basically to give Yevon the finger. It was juvenile, but Gippal just couldn’t stop himself from setting up shop in a once sacred temple doing research on forbidden machina. The third reason was that the temple’s ability to seal itself up within the rocks surrounding it proved to be the best sort of defense, just in case people still clinging to the old teachings decided to come after his people with torches and pitchforks. So far that hadn’t happened, but one couldn’t be too careful, especially seeing the second reason he chose his location.

When he first saw Rikku again, he hadn’t recognized her right away. He had looked her over with the vague interest that he typically gave every other female, but there was no connection that the gorgeous blonde in the skimpy yellow bikini top and mile long legs had been the Rikku he had left behind. It was when he had taken a much slower second glance while pretending to give the former summoner a once-over that it had clicked. He had been stunned momentarily, but for the most part pleased with how attractive his girl, no, Cid’s girl had become. She and her friends were interviewing for a job in the desert, looking for a little extra cash. Rikku hadn’t blended into the background behind her two friends -and what the hell had been Paine’s problem, pretending that they hadn’t met before? - while they talked, but she hadn’t exactly spoken up either. What he had wanted to do was grab her and demand that she acknowledge how they had felt about the other, but took his cue from the shy glances she gave him behind lowered eyelashes and said nothing.

So he fell back into the teasing mode he had often relied on back in their childhood instead. “Well if it isn’t Cid’s girl,” came out of his mouth easily. He grinned as her eyes narrowed and waited expectantly for the punch that would soon follow.

“I have a name,” she told him automatically, shoving him out of habit. He inwardly smirked when he caught the faint red stain covering her high cheekbones and couldn‘t help but notice how her fingers had faintly curled into the folds of his shirt, as if she hadn‘t wanted to let him go after the brief contact. It felt as if he were fifteen all over again, but instead of being confused like he had been at the time, now he knew that her response meant she still felt something for him.

The way he saw it, it looked as if he might still have a chance with her. She was off having fun seeing the world that she had once helped save. He didn’t have any plans on going anywhere any time soon. He could wait, tease her, and call her the one thing that irritated her the most just to see her eyes sparkle with annoyance. She always did look cutest when she was mad at him.

For now, that would have to be enough.

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