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escape artistry

Title: Escape Artistry
Challenge(s): scarf, escape, tie and break, catch, hero
Rating: PG
Summary: He always knew that scarf would wind up making trouble. He never thought it’d help get them out of it.
Note: A belated ficlet for prettygothgirl. Happy Birthday!

“So you had to wear that stupid scarf, didn’t you?” Gippal wasn’t feeling on top of his game. Being kidnapped by bandits – and only a handful of miles from Djose, which rankled his pride more than anything; his security was better that that – and knocked unconscious didn’t do anything to improve his mood. To make matters worse, one of the bandits had hit him on the left side of his head. His eye was already starting to swell shut, leaving him practically blind.

To his side, Rikku grunted and shifted, her back bumping into his knees. “It’s not a stupid scarf,” she muttered, twisting some more. The bandits had tied her hands behind her back and he could feel her fingers grasp onto his pants, using the material as leverage to help her sit up. She was breathing heavily after the struggle, but Gippal felt the feathery brush of her hair against his sore cheek as she rested her head against his shoulder. “Are you okay?”

He rubbed his cheek against her hair without thinking, hissing when pain blossomed across his face. “Just peachy.”

“You always were a horrible liar.”

“I know. I left that part up to you.” He winced at her sharp intake of breath.

“They really did a number on you,” she whispered. “Stay still.” He could feel her moving against him again, then nothing.

“Rikku?” Damn, but he hated feeling helpless. He twisted his hands in the metal cuffs that the bandits had slapped on him and pulled against them to no avail. Even if he were able to painfully dislocate his thumbs, the cuffs were too tight to slide his hands through. Plus there was the fact that his ankles were shackled as well, so even if he did get his hands free, he would still be unable to walk. He was stuck. By sheer luck, it had turned out that his were the only restraints available. Smart girl that she was, Rikku had played the ditzy, yet eager to cooperate captive and had only been pushed around a little bit before being tied up with her own brightly colored scarf.

“Does that feel better?” she asked, her voice near his ear. Turning his head, he saw that she was leaning against the nearby tree, a satisfied smile on her lips. Wait a minute, he thought. I can see?

“What did you do?”

She shrugged. “Yunie wasn’t the only Gullwing that knew how to cast a decent cure spell. I didn’t heal it all the way, just in case one of the idiots that left us here came back before we could make a break for it.”

“And just how are we going to make our great escape?” He had a couple of versions formulating in his head, but by the determined set of Rikku’s jaw, he knew she already had everything figured out and would argue with him until they did things her way. In an effort to save time, he filed away the plan to play dead and then surprise attack one of the bandits in order to steal their handcuff keys for any other time that the situation might come up.

“You’re going to untie me.”

Gippal sighed. “And how are we going to do that?” He shifted his hands behind his back, making the metal jingle.

“Oh come on, you’ve untied knots in the dark before. This will be just like it. I’d do it myself, but my fingers can’t reach.” She scooted closer to him, making them both wince when the back of her head hit his. “Can you get it?”

Gippal extended his fingers as far as they possibly could. He could feel the smooth ovals of her fingernails, then the heavy knit of her scarf. “Who the hell taught them to tie knots?” he wondered. “They’re all tangled.” He pulled again, but soon stopped.

“They’re stuck, aren’t they?”

“From this angle, yep.” He felt Rikku lean her head against his back. He was about to open his mouth and suggest that she make a run for it, seeing that her feet were unbound, but she flopped to her side. “What are you doing?”

She grunted, but didn’t answer him. He turned his head and watched as she flipped herself onto her stomach. She spat out a mouthful of hair that had gotten into her way and started to arch her back.

“I can see up your skirt.” He really couldn’t, but he didn’t see any reason to let the sight of her behind sticking up in the air go without comment.

“Shut up. I’m concentrating.” Gippal heard her shoulders pop and watched as she arched her back so that the big knot at her wrists slid underneath her bottom. She turned to her side and pulled her knees up to her chest, still wiggling her shoulders. Using one foot then the other, she moved so that her arms were now tied in front of her.

“Never pegged you for being so flexible,” he told her, grinning. She rolled her eyes at him and tried to catch her breath. Raising her wrists to her mouth, she used her teeth to pick at the dense nest of knots. She didn’t bother with getting them completely undone, just loose enough so she could move her hands around better.

“It’s one of my many hidden talents,” she replied, searching through her braids until she pulled out a barrette from somewhere underneath her bandanna. Gippal finally saw that it wasn’t an actual hair accessory, but a set of lock picks. “This is another one of them.”

His arms fell to his sides as the handcuffs were unlocked. “My hero,” he murmured, rubbing his wrists with his hands and flexing his ankles.

She tilted her head to the side, beads and braids spilling over her shoulder. “I like the sound of that.” The playful smile fell from her face and she sat very still when Gippal unknotted her scarf. Bending his head, he touched his lips first to one wrist, then to the other, both of them red and rubbed raw from her contortionist act.

“When I catch the people responsible…” He didn’t finish the sentence, but Rikku could see the malicious intent written clearly on his face.

She reached out and gently put her hand against his still slightly swollen eye. Muttering a cure spell under her breath, she slid her fingers through the hair at his temple. “Who’s the hero now?” she asked lightly. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

He watched as she stood up and turned in the direction of Djose. “And who’s gonna stop these jerks if we don't?”

She looked at him behind her shoulder. “Wouldn’t it be a surprise when they come back and find not just two captives here, but a whole crew? I say we head back to the temple, grab a couple of people, and make it back before they realize we were gone in the first place.”

He stood and came up beside her. Winding the thoroughly wrinkled material around her neck where it belonged, he threw an arm around her shoulders. “I like the way you think, Cid’s girl.”

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