renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
Renay ([personal profile] renay) wrote2008-01-13 11:36 pm

(fic) (ffx-2) the damages of loss - 13

The Damages of Loss (13)
(Baralai/Gippal, 1,265 words, G)
"Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward."

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13

Gippal collapsed on the beach. The sand burned his skin as he rolled to his back. Rikku danced past him, flinging water everywhere and chattering to Tidus.

"You lost!" She squeezed water from her hair. "That'll teach you to challenge the awesome Rikku and Paine duo."

"By two points," Tidus said. "Two."

"And Gippal scored both of those." Rikku grinned.

Tidus wrinkled his nose. "If we didn't have to end the game early—"

"We can have a rematch when we come back for Wakka's name-day," Paine said. Her skin was sun dark, so different than Gippal remembered. "Why are we leaving, again?"

Rikku shrugged. "Brother says he needs to go to Luca. He's going to drop us off in Kilika and pick us up in a few days."

Gippal tilted his head, blocking the sun with his hands. He knew what that meant, but Brother had been careful never to let Rikku know he had to go places. He wondered if he had changed his mind since Baralai—after all, Cid did have good days.

He turned when he heard Yuna call out to them from the path out of the jungle and hopped up. Baralai followed along behind her. His robes were folded in his arms, and Gippal had to admit the plain clothes Lulu had given him to wear helped him blend in at least a little. Kilika was going to be harder to manage than Besaid had been.

"You look normal," Rikku said, stretching out a finger. "Wow."

Baralai probably flushed, but his face was red from all the sun already. He turned his eyes to meet the ground, a move he pulled when he was nervous at being the center of attention. "I can never tell if you're giving compliments or not."

"Well, I'm not going to say you're hot or anything, Gippal would—"

Gippal was rescued by Tidus, who slipped in from behind to scoop Rikku up, hauling her down to the water's edge. Gippal smiled even though his heart was beating out a song that sounded like a dirge.

Baralai watched Tidus dump Rikku into the rolling waves, squealing, as Paine and Yuna headed toward the Celsius. "I guess your team lost."

Gippal was relieved, let his shoulders relax. "Paine's pretty good when she plays—mostly likes to watch though."

"It seems complicated," Baralai said. "I watched some of the spheres Wakka gave me, of the Aurochs. Maybe you could teach me?"

Gippal crossed his arms. "Man, first Al Bhed, now blitzball—you're pretty demanding."

Baralai frowned. "I could ask someone else..."

Gippal felt like crap. "I didn't mean it like that." It was a struggle to remember that three days ago he had started this whole mess, Baralai shying away from everything. Paine had yelled at him plenty for that, and Gippal thought it was unfair. Hour long hugs in the forrest should've fixed all the holes he had kicked in Baralai's confidence. He guessed it was unfair to expect it, though.

It sure hadn't done Gippal any favors.

"What did Rikku mean?" Baralai's eyes were out to sea. He didn't like the water, which Gippal regretted. Another change that had surprised everyone.

"About what?" He was going to kill her.

Baralai smiled, but dunked his head. "Rikku said I was attractive. You have a problem with this?"

Gippal eyed him and figured if he did throw up all over the beach, he could blame it on all the fish they had been eating. "She's sort of dating this other guy right now." He shrugged. "Sort of, I guess."

"Oh!" Baralai took a step back, then forward, a hesitant dance. "I didn't mean—I understand, I think. You're pretty protective of her."

Gippal dodged Baralai's gaze and turned away. "Best friends, that's us." He kicked at the tiny mounds of sand and headed toward the ship. "Sure you don't want me to put in a good word for you?" He would rather lick a shoopuf, and Rikku would probably explode if Gippal even mentioned the idea. It was tempting for that alone, but not tempting enough.

Baralai matched their steps. "No. I just wondered."

Gippal rubbed at his bare back. "You know you can ask questions without being scared." They hadn't talked about their fight at all, and Gippal still felt like a jerk. On top of that, he felt angry that he felt like a jerk. It was confusing—Baralai deserved it, he deserved that and plenty more, but without remembering it was like throwing bombs into innocent crowds. He couldn't fly off the handle again, and he didn't want Baralai to quit asking.

He had a right to know.

"Sure," Baralai said, shifting his bundle to his other arm. "Everyone is helpful."

"I mean me." That was it; Gippal winced as the shadow of the Celsius fell over them. He didn't want to be the one that couldn't get past the bitterness, after all, the one to shut Baralai out. And if he faced the truth of it, he didn't want to lose the time, either. He kept thinking about Baralai remembering, remembering why he had decided Gippal was as good as trash—leaving again.

"I upset you." Baralai stop at the end of the sand. "I don't want it to happen again."

"It wasn't your fault." Gippal buried his toes in the sand. "Anyway, we worked it out."

Baralai raised an eyebrow at him. "Did we?"

The look made Gippal want to shiver. Baralai was himself through and through sometimes. "If not, you'll have to tell me. I mean, my shirt did get pretty soaked."

Baralai socked him in the ribs with a weak fist. "You promised."

Gippal grinned. "Yeah, yeah. Your secret is safe with me."

Baralai steps echoed on the ramp as he started up. Gippal followed, but Baralai stopped halfway up to turn and stare at him. "I don't..." He looked down. "I don't feel safe with you."

It was as good as being punched—a fist to the jaw would've hurt less. Gippal stepped back. "Well, if you wanted to give me a summary, that works."

"Not like that." The tone told Gippal just how much of an idiot Baralai thought he was. It was so like the old him Gippal reeled. "There's something you're not telling me." The words were a whisper, feathers on a breeze. "Something important." He let out groan and started up the ramp again. "I'm not going to make you. It's yours to tell, but you look at me sometimes—" His eyes glanced off Gippal's. "Like you're mad, or frustrated."

"Not at you." Gippal could hear Tidus and Rikku coming up the beach, and he didn't want to be caught having this discussion. "I wasn't kidding the other day. I was mad, but I wasn't lying." He caught Baralai around the shoulders and pulled him in. "Friends. Anything else is just me dealing with my own stuff." Baralai was burning up under Gippal's arm, even through his shirt. "Friends, okay?"

"Friends." Baralai nodded. "Okay." He rubbed at his neck. "I'm going to go lie down."

Gippal squeezed once more, and let go. All the touching was bad for him. "Have Barkeep mix something for you so you can sleep. That sunburn is nasty."

Baralai smiled. "Thanks." He stepped away, but not before Gippal saw his expression settle back into worry.

[identity profile] 2008-01-14 06:42 am (UTC)(link)
It was as good as being punched - a fist to the jaw would've hurt less.

*whimper* Oh, poor Gippal. Having Baralai say that, I can't even imagine how I'd feel. Also, for some reason which I can't explain, Gippal's step back was very... I dunno. It was good. I can't explain why but that added a lot.

I like all these little things that are just like the old Baralai (like the one raised eyebrow), showing up here. Very nice touches.

See you soon. You know you're getting a glowing comment for the next installment. The sooner you post, the sooner I praise! XD