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Of Bad Gil Pieces and Airships (10/12)

Title: Of Bad Gil Pieces and Airships (10/12)
Rating: PG
Words: 4,106
Challenge: first date; rain, break, saved
Summary: “You know what? This is technically our fist date.”
Note: Chapter 9 can be found here. Index of chapters can be found here.

The small microburst of rain that was supposed to be over within minutes turned into a torrential downpour that lasted an entire week. Workers had resorted to digging shallow drainage ditches in the ground around the temple to help stave off flooding. Since working in the tents had proven to be claustrophobic after a while, not to mention stifling with the lack of proper ventilation, Rikku had taken over a small corner of the temple’s large and airy workshop to rebuild portions of the airship’s engine. Her plan early on in the week had been to build small and then hook all the pieces together on site later on. The rain had eventually slowed to a stop by Friday, but she was too far into her project to stop until it was ready to be moved.

The place Gippal had converted into a workshop looked as if it had once served as a main area of worship for the priests and others that had lived there. It wasn’t on the main trail; one had to walk along a neatly groomed footpath before reaching it. Like the temple, it seemed as if it was carved out the side of the rock face. The shoreline sat far below, the distant roar of the surf soothing to the senses as it filtered through the everyday din of clanging metal and the whirring pneumatic sound of tools. There were scars on the floor where pews had once been bolted down and the ornate stained glass windows depicting the teachings of Yevon had long since been taken out and replaced with simple panes of wavy glass that let in a lot of natural light and air.

In short, Rikku felt at home. She was much more at ease and in her own element here, with grease sliding through her fingers and the sounds of tools and the laughter of fellow mechanics in the background. It was when it was time to call it a day and she went back inside the temple did she feel odd. The end of the day meant a blessedly long, hot shower, but it also meant Gippal.

She blushed. Normally, she wouldn’t have minded him much. Before, she would have sat with him and talked about how their days had gone and decompressed, but now that she knew he was interested in more than just friendship with her, she didn’t really know how to act around him. One minute they were fine and things were like they’d always been. The next, he’d give her a look she’d seen him give other girls but had never been on the receiving end of and she’d get a fluttery sensation in the pit of her stomach and it felt as if her skin was on too tight. He’d always been a touchy-feely person, and as someone that liked tactile contact, she never minded. Now it seemed that she was tuned into him much more than she’d ever been in her life, her senses going on hyper alert whenever he was near.

He also seemed to be aware of that fact, if his smirk was anything to go by. There were times when she wanted to really do something to shock the look off his face, like kiss him senseless the way that she had in his office before her dad had barged in on them, and she honestly didn’t know what stopped her. She usually wasn’t this wishy-washy when it came to men. For the most part, she had been the one to approach her former boyfriends, but her bravado failed her when it came to Gippal.

“It’s because you like him much more than everyone else,” Henrik said by her elbow. Rikku’s hands tightened on the socket wrench she held and she muffled a startled scream behind tightly pressed lips.

“I didn’t say that out loud.”

Eyes flashing with amusement behind his protective goggles, Henrik nodded. “Yes you did.” Pushing graying hair out of his eyes, the older mechanic finished attaching his portion of the engine. “I don’t know why the two of you have been dancing around the other for years either.”

“What?” She’d never danced around Gippal in her life. She might have looked longingly in his direction ever since she could remember, but she’d never acted on it.

Henrik seemed to read her expression and he chuckled. “I’ve known you ever since you were old enough to run behind your father like a little shadow. I’ve known Gippal even longer. The boy’s held a torch for you for most of his life.”

Rikku frowned and rubbed her dirty hands on the thighs of her pants. “Are we that obvious?”

“Only to those of us that have known you the longest. You’re good for the other; I’m glad that things are working out.” He moved around the workbench, picking up a piece of metal and turning it in his hands. “Things are working out, aren’t they?”

Rikku blushed. “I guess. I mean, we’ve all been so busy lately. Gippal’s had a lot of deadlines and I really want to get this ship off the ground soon.”

He shook his head. “You young people worry too damn much about profits and business. Leave that sort of thing to us older folks; go out and enjoy life while you still can. Weather finally cleared up, would be a shame if someone didn’t take advantage of the clear skies and go out for a nice walk once and a while.”

She shrugged, looking a few tables to her right. Rayne was there, his shirt sleeves rolled up over his forearms and the edges of the bandana he wore over his head damp with sweat. Of course, no one besides she and Gippal knew about Rayne’s situation, everyone just thought that he was a friend of Rikku’s that was just hanging around to give her a hand on her project. “Maybe,” was all she said before losing herself in her work for another couple of hours.


“You free tonight?” Rikku let out a startled gasp, turning around towards the door to find Gippal standing in the entranceway.

“I don’t know,” she told him with a smile, setting her tools aside. She’d made good progress with one of the main boosters; now all she had to do was figure out exactly how they were going to attach them to the power supply. “I’d have to check my calendar.”

“Well, if you don’t have anything planned for later, how about you and I get away from here for a while?”

“Get away? You have any place in particular in mind?” She frowned; the sun had gone down without her noticing. Her stomach gurgled, telling her that she hadn’t noticed the dinner gong either. “And does this place have food?”

Gippal laughed, coming closer to her table. “I think that can be arranged.” He wrapped his arms around her from behind and rested his chin on her shoulder. “So what do you say? Wanna take a break and have dinner with me?”

She leaned against him, his chest warm against her back. “Give me a little while to clean up. I’m a mess.”

“A cute one though,” he agreed, tugging at a stand of hair that had fallen out of her ponytail. “How does half an hour sound?”

“Sounds good.” She put the last of her tools up for the evening.


Thirty minutes and a quick hover ride later saw them sitting on the couch at the front portion of Gippal’s private workshop. She was curled up against him, her legs folded under her. His feet rested on the small coffee table in front of them, and one of his hands was absently playing with Rikku’s hair.

“My mother is driving me crazy,” he admitted after they finished eating the leftovers that Gippal had thrown together into a basket while Rikku went to her room to clean up. They weren’t much, but Rikku thought that it had been the thought behind the meal that counted the most.

“She’s only been here a week. It usually takes her much longer to drive you up the walls.”

He rolled his eye. “I mean, I’m glad she’s here and everything; my records haven’t been this organized ever. It’s just that something is bothering her and all the nervous energy she’s giving off is starting to get to me.”

“Do you know what’s wrong?”

He shook his head. “No. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with Rin.” He took a sip from the wineglass he held loosely in his free hand. “He’s been calling my office commsphere almost twice every day, but she won’t pick up.”

Rikku frowned. “That’s weird. I thought those two were head over heels for the other.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought too.” He took another sip from his glass. The sky outside was clear for once, the large bank of windows in the drafting area letting in the silvery moonlight. The stars overhead looked like millions of tiny, twinkling pinpoints of light. “They must have had some sort of fight.”

“If you want, I can talk to her.”

Gippal ran his fingers through her hair again. “Thanks, I appreciate that.”

The oil lamps he had lit earlier flickered. Rikku snuggled closer before looking up at him, her chin on his chest. “Do you know what?”


“This is technically our first date.”

He sat up just long enough to put his glass on the coffee table. “You’re right.” Settling back down on the couch, he looked down at her. “How did I do?”

“You brought dinner, which earns you a lot of points. Then there’s the spot that has a great view, you made a point to create a cozy atmosphere…I’d say you did pretty well. As of now, you’re at an eight and a half on my dating scale.”

He raised an eyebrow. “That’s it?”

She played with the buttons on his shirt. “Well, for right now. Date’s not over yet and I haven’t figured in your good night kiss score.” She kissed his jaw. “If it makes you feel any better, the average date I’ve been on is usually in the five or six range.”

He smirked. “That’s because I’m better than the average boyfriend.”

Now it was her turn to roll her eyes. “At least no one can say you have a modest streak.” She yawned then, the day’s events finally catching up to her.

“I’d offer to take you dancing, but it looks like you’re ready to call it a night.”

“I’m sorry.”

His fingers slid over the curve of her cheek. “Don’t be. You’ve been working really hard.”

“It should start coming together soon; if the weather holds up, I’m going to start hauling what we have in the workshop back down to the ship in another day or two, depending on how well progress goes.”

“I know I’ve said it before, but you’re doing a damn good job.” His arms tightened around her and he put his cheek on the crown of her head.

She blushed. “It means a lot to me to hear you say that, Gippal. It really does.” She yawned again, her fingers splayed over his chest.

He kissed her forehead. “Come on, let’s head on back. We stay here any longer and my date points are going to plummet when you fall asleep on me.”

“Ah. And there goes your reputation for being such a charming date.”

“Exactly.” He rose and extinguished the lamps.

Rikku laughed, picking up the now empty picnic basket. “Somehow I don’t see you having anything to worry about that.”


“Well, this is my stop,” Rikku said when Gippal walked her back to her room. She covered another yawn with her hand. “I had a good time.”

“I’m glad. I’m going to have to haul you out of your work more often then.”

She grinned. “Is this payback for all the times I saved you from those mountains of paperwork in your office?”

“Something like that.” He leaned down and brushed his lips over hers. Rikku’s hands ran over his shoulders to cup the back of his neck. His hair slid between her fingers, soft to the touch. She stood on tiptoe to better align her body with his, Gippal’s hands warm at her waist. He gently nipped at her bottom lip with his teeth before leaning back.

“Good night,” he whispered, stepping back so there was a little more room between them. Rikku found herself leaning forward to try and make up the distance.

“Good night.” She opened her door and stepped inside. “Hey Gippal?”


“You got a ten.”

Gippal grinned to himself as he walked down the hallway, a spring evident in his step.


The workshop behind the temple was still open, if the lights blazing inside were any indication. At least he’d have some company. “Hey,” he said, opening up Rikku’s tool case she’d left at her station.

Rayne looked up from the part he had been working on. “Hey.” He was the only person in the building, still going strong after pulling a long day of construction work.

“Thought I’d put in some extra hours tonight,” Gippal told him, already tying a bandana over his hair. He was planning on welding together whatever Rikku and her crew had finished during the day and he knew from past experience that it was going to get hot in the workshop pretty quickly.

“Is Rikku asleep?”


Rayne nodded, putting the part down and wiping his greasy hands on a rag he had stuffed in his pockets. “That’s good. I keep on telling her she’s pushing herself too hard.”

“That’s the thing with Cid’s Girl; she’s as stubborn as they come. Getting her to do something when her mind is already made up is like hitting your head against a brick wall.” He said it kindly, his lips turning upwards in a smile as he inspected her work to see where exactly Rikku had left off. He picked up a screwdriver and went to work.

Rayne moved over to another station, a wrench in hand. “At first, I really did think she was my Aya,” he started. “But now I can see that they’re definitely two different women.”

“What was she like?”

Rayne paused, leaning his hip against the workstation. “She’s…” he searched for a word. “Kind. She works in this café and has to put up with some of the crappiest people I know and somehow she still manages to do it with a smile on her face.” Gippal didn’t correct Rayne’s present tense, not thinking it made any sense to remind the man that both Zanarkand and the grumpy people that frequented his girlfriend’s café no longer existed.

“Rikku is like that too, but I can see her getting fed up with things after a while and dumping somebody’s coffee into their lap if they gave her any crap.”

Rayne laughed. “Yeah, I could see her doing that too.” They worked in a companionable silence, both of them at different workstations. They came together every once and a while to put whatever portion they had been fixing together to form an even bigger component. Rayne would bite out a curse when his hand slipped or a knuckle got scraped, and Gippal would follow suit, save that his declarations were in Al Bhed and sounded a lot more vehement.

They called it a night around three in the morning, both of them satisfied with their progress. It wasn’t done by a long shot, but they had put a sizeable dent in the work. “You’re a pretty decent mechanic,” Gippal said, wiping sweat off his forehead. “If things were different, I’d offer you a job here.”

Rayne grinned, his teeth white against grease-streaked tan skin. “Well, if things were different, I just might accept.” He looked around at the things that still needed to get done. “It’s getting there.”

Gippal couldn’t help but notice the wistful way that Rayne stared at the still disassembled parts. “You miss her, don’t you?”

“Yeah. I really do.” He looked up, catching Gippal’s eye. “But considering how long I’ve been away from her, I think I can wait a little while longer. I’ve been telling Rikku that, but…”

“But she never listens. I know.” Gippal methodically put his tools away and cleared his workstation. “She’s got a romantic streak a mile wide.”

“You love her, don’t you?”

Gippal paused. He slowly closed the lid to the welding kit. “Yeah, I do.” He put the kit back in its place along the wall. “The trick is to get her to love me back.”

“She talks a lot about you.”

“Nothing too incriminating, I hope?”

Rayne shook his head. “No, but the way she looks at you makes me think that you don’t have to work hard at getting her to return your feelings.” Rayne sat back on one of the stools. “Though by the way she talks, it sounds like the two of you hadn’t seen the other for a while.”

“Four years.”

“If you don’t mind me prying, was there a reason?”

Gippal frowned. He’d been thinking a lot about that, especially how Rikku always evaded the topic whenever he brought it up. You were always dating some girl, she had said. I’ve felt this way about you even longer than you’ve felt about me. He opened his mouth. Why didn’t you say anything? I didn’t know how. “Because I was a clueless kid, that’s why.” He stood up. “But I’m going to make up for lost time now.”

Rayne smiled. “Good for you.” He stretched his arms, absently rubbing a hand over his chest. “Girls like your Rikku and my Aya don’t come along but once in a lifetime. Don’t let her go.”

There was something tugging at Gippal’s curiosity. “What does it feel like to die?” he asked, his face serious.

Rayne looked at him. “I didn’t remember anything at first, but now that I’ve been thinking about it, it comes back to me in bits and pieces.” He rubbed at his chest again. “It hurt. I’d like to be all macho and say that I wasn’t afraid, but I’d be lying. As soon as the ship was starting to fall, I knew that I wasn’t going to make it out of there.” He looked down at his feet. “I’d never been so scared before.”

Gippal thought back to the Den of Woe and the nightmares that sometimes plagued him, years after the fact. “I think I understand what you mean.”

He left the workshop, feeling a tiredness that went beyond physical exhaustion.


He tossed in his bed, the usually comfortable mattress and cool sheets not doing a thing to help him sleep. He’d almost fallen asleep in his shower, the water turning from warm to cold before he got out, but now he was wide awake. Swinging his bare feet over the bed, he got up and went to his door. It was nearly five; the morning shift people would be waking up soon and he knew that the ones on kitchen duty were already up and bustling about, the smell of freshly baked bread winding down the hallways even this far from the kitchens. Even so, he barely bothered with a robe as he left his room, thinking to spend a little while in his office before going back to his rooms to try and get some sleep.

His feet had other ideas though. Before he knew it, he found himself standing in front of Rikku’s door. He raised his hand to knock, but paused. She’d been sleeping for a little under six hours and by the dark circles that were starting to show under her eyes, he knew that she needed a lot more. I don’t even know why I’m here, he thought, turning away. It was then that her door creaked open.

Green eyes stared up at him. “What are you doing up so early?” Rikku asked, opening the door wider. She looked him over from the top of his mussed hair and missing eye patch all the way down to his bare feet. “You look like you haven’t slept much.”

He sighed. She was wearing an oversized shirt that went down almost to her knees. Beyond that, he couldn’t tell what else she was wearing. The tips of her toenails – an electric blue now – caught the light from the hallway. “Couldn’t sleep.”

She put her hand on his wrist and led him inside her room. “Want to talk about it?”

“Nothing much to talk about, I just can’t get comfortable.” He glanced at her. “Could I sleep here?”

She smiled up at him softly. “What a role reversal. If I remember it correctly, I was always the one to sneak into your room when we were kids.”

“Yeah, but that was only when there were thunderstorms and you didn’t want to wake up anybody at your house.” He took her statement as permission and slid his robe off, draping it over the bench at the foot of her bed. He couldn’t help but notice how her cheeks turned a slight pink when she realized that the only thing he was wearing was a pair of loosely fitting pajama bottoms that slung low over his hips.

She recovered quickly, pushing her hair out of her face. She’d taken the tiny braids that were always present out, causing some sections of her hair to be wavy while the rest were straight. “That’s because Brother always made fun of me. You never did.” She rubbed her eyes with the heel of her hand, fully aware that she had bed head and stale breath. A part of her brain that logically stated that she had known Gippal since they had been little kids didn’t think it was that much of a big deal, but the girly, ‘my boyfriend is in my room’ section of her mind was horrified.

Gippal pulled her sheets down and sat on the mattress. “You’re not getting up, are you? It’s still really early.”

She shook her head. “No. I usually get up a few hours from now, but I heard someone at the door.”

He tilted his chin. “Huh, and here I was trying to be quiet.”

She giggled. “And that’s why I’m the thief and you’re the engineer. I’m stealthier than you are.” She sat down on the opposite side of the bed. “You aren’t still a bed hog, are you?”

He looked affronted. “Rikku, I’ve never hogged a bed in my entire life.”

She rolled her eyes and scoffed. “Yeah, right. That’s why I always found myself this close to falling off your bed whenever I stayed the night.”

“Do you still snore?”

Her eyes widened. “I don’t snore!” He grinned and she hit him with her pillow. “Meanie,” she muttered, pulling the sheets over her legs and settling down with a yawn. She turned to her side and smiled when Gippal’s arm went around her, his hand a comforting weight at her hip.

“Brat,” he countered, his breath warm against her ear. Her hair tickled his nose, but he didn’t care.

“You’re hogging the bed again.” She didn’t sound as upset about it as she had made herself sound earlier.

“No I’m not. I usually sleep on this side.” His knees curved under hers as he spooned behind her. He pressed a kiss to her temple. “Get some sleep.”

She moved her hand so that she could link her fingers with his. “You too.”

Gippal listened to the soft sounds of her breathing for a long while. Even there with her, sleep was proving to be elusive. Outside her door, he could hear workers start to shuffle around, getting ready to start their day. Rikku sighed, mumbling something under her breath in her dreams that he couldn’t catch. He buried his face against her hair, inhaling the bright citrus scent of her shampoo. It seemed like forever, but he finally felt his eyelids grow heavy. Rikku’s fingers went slack and she let go of his hand as she fell into a deeper sleep, but she made up for it by turning to face him, her hand on his bicep. One of her legs tangled with his and she moved so her head was resting on his shoulder. He moved his hand so it rested at the small of her back, bringing her even closer to him. He drifted off to sleep then, a contented smile on his lips.

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