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Game Over

Title: Game Over
Challenge: The end of the road
Rating: G
Note: Happy birthday, prettygothgirl!

The sun reflected brightly off the water at Luca's piers. Rikku stood and watched the birds swoop down under the surface and come back up with fish in their beaks. The breeze made her scarf flutter around her legs, the tassels brushing her calves. She stood there worrying her bottom lip with her teeth, wondering just why she had agreed to stay behind to talk to the one person she really didn't want to deal with right now.

“I’m glad you could make it,” Gippal said behind her. Somehow, he had managed to sneak up without her noticing and the sound of his voice right at her ear made her back tense. It also made her heart do funny little flip flops at his nearness, but she put a hand to her chest to try and contain the frantic beating before he noticed. It wasn’t fair that he always knew what buttons to push to make her react while she had yet to learn what made him tick.

“What did you want? I can’t stay long.” She didn’t turn around just yet, her eyes glued to the birds floating on the water. She had wanted to slip away unnoticed, to avoid the inevitable goodbye. Now that Spira was safe from its latest threat, she and Gippal didn’t have any reason to work together and she was out of excuses for visiting Djose. Ex-Guardians turned famous sphere hunters didn’t exactly need to go out to the desert to dig for machina parts, especially when their captains weren’t too fond of the guy that ran the Machine Faction. She kept her tone light, but was instantly upset at the way her throat suddenly felt too tight and her words came out thicker than she had intended them to.

Gippal moved so that he was leaning against the pillar she was standing by. She caught a glimpse of purple and yellow out of the corner of her eye, but still didn’t move. If she didn’t look directly at him, then maybe she could say goodbye without completely losing it. “Yeah, Yuna’s gonna give a speech, isn’t she?”

She shook her head. “She’s done giving speeches. She just wants to go home.” Her cousin just wanted to get on with her life, to forget about the boy she had spent two years of her life searching for. And so do I, she thought, reaching up and fiddling with a braid. Except the boy I was looking for is standing right here. She thought back to the talk she, Paine and Yuna had the last time they had visited Luca. I know what it’s like to love someone so much that they’re the only thing you can think of. Yuna hadn’t known who she had been talking about, but the way that Paine’s head had tilted had made Rikku wonder just what Gippal might have said to her when they had traveled together. Even afterwards, Paine had given Rikku the look she usually reserved when she was trying to figure out a particularly complex puzzle where she had almost all the parts together but was missing a key piece.

“So what are you going to do?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Paine’s talking about leaving, and Shinra’s pretty much made it clear that he had fun, but he wants to do something different. It looks like it’s just me, Buddy and Brother from here on out.” Just saying it made her throat tighten even more. After Luca, there would be three more goodbyes to say.

Rikku jerked when she felt something soft brush her cheek. Whipping her head around, she saw it was only Gippal’s thumb wiping away a tear that had slipped down her face without her knowing it. Her breath caught when she realized that he was looking down at her as if he was about to lose something important. “Sometimes,” he quietly started, his knuckles grazing her jaw, “I think you’re too tough for your own good, Cid’s Girl.”

“Well, what do you want me to do?” she asked, her voice cracking. “Go into hysterics about how much I’m going to miss everyone? Rant and rave about how things are never going to be the same, about how it feels like I’m fifteen and I’m being left behind all over again?” She clamped her mouth shut and clenched her hands into fists at her sides. She hadn’t meant to blurt the last bit out, but it came out all the same. “I have to go; Yunie and Paine are waiting for me.” She turned on her heel and took a few steps, but Gippal reached out and grabbed her hand.

“Do you really think that’s what happened, Rikku?” He pulled on her hand until she was facing him.

“There wasn’t any other reason for you to leave Bikanel,” she whispered, her eyes focusing on the metal buckles at his chest. She looked up sharply at his sarcastic snort of laughter.

“No other reason, she says. Sure, there’s no other reason for me to start up any of this. Forget that I left to prove to my girl’s dad that I could defend her. And forget that now I’m in a position that I can provide for her.”

Rikku blinked. “Did you really think I needed you to prove something like that to me?”

Gippal’s fingers tightened slightly on her wrist. “I always figured that you did.”

Rikku didn’t give him any warning before she launched herself into his arms. “Dummy,” she said, her words muffled by his shirt. “All I ever needed was you.” Her arms went around his waist, her fingers clutching the material at his back. She felt his arms go around her and shivered at the feel of his hands splayed over the bare skin at her shoulders and back and the way he buried his face against her hair. She let out a laugh when he lifted her off her feet and spun her around.

“And you know, I can take care of mys –” she started, but never finished because he was kissing her and it felt as if two years had never passed. She sifted her fingers through his hair and pulled him closer, the smooth stone pillar they were standing by now pressed against her back. He slanted his lips across hers and the groan that vibrated against her mouth made her tingle all the way down to her toes.

“Promise me you won’t be a stranger around Djose?” he asked, his forehead gently bumping against hers.

“Only if you call and let me know where you’ve gone off to between visits.” If she didn’t know anything else about him, she knew about his wandering feet. “It wouldn’t do if I showed up and you weren’t around.”

He grinned and kissed the tip of her nose. “It’s a deal.”

Later when Rikku joined up with Paine and Yuna to leave, her cousin gave her a curious look as if she was wondering just why Rikku’s cheeks were a bright pink and why her bandanna was crooked. Paine only rolled her eyes and walked off to board the Celsius.

Rikku looked back to where Nooj, Baralai and Gippal were standing. She gave a brief wave and smiled at the lopsided grin Gippal shot her before turning and heading back towards the stadium.

The unspoken see you later was ten times better than goodbye.

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