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Renay ([personal profile] renay) wrote2008-01-15 11:41 pm

(fic) (ffx-2) the damages of loss - 15

OH HEY, I should probably post this instead of leaving it sitting on the update screen, huh. WIN FOR ATTENTION SPAN.

The Damages of Loss (15)
(Baralai/Gippal, Tidus, 2,323 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 | 14 | 15


"That place was trashed." Tidus brushed dust of his shoulder as they stumbled out into the foyer of Kilika's temple. "My hands are all slashed up and all we got was one line?"

"That's all we got at Besaid, too." Gippal gave up and plopped down on the floor. The stones were never cool here, but it felt good to rest. Above him, High Summoners stared down in the low light. "Anyway, there was some messy business here when some badies spawned up from the Farplane."

"Uin ledeac tayt yht bnecuh fymmat po meac." Tidus knuckled his nose. "Guess our mystery guides weren't much for optimism."

"Yeah, well, can you blame them?" Gippal winced; he was going to hurt for days after this. He hadn't exactly expected parts of the chamber to crush him, but he shouldn't have been surprised. He scratched his head, and his hand came away red. "Perfect."

"A rock did knock you on the head." Tidus kicked his foot. "Can we go now that the bad poetry hour is over?"

Gippal stood with a helping hand, and they headed out into the sun. "Longer than an hour," Gippal said. "More like three."

"Can't believe no one else wanted to come on this awesome adventure."

Gippal shoved Tidus to the side, grinning, as they headed by teachers and students spread across the stones outside. They had been in Kilika two days, but the stares hadn't stopped for any of them. Gippal guessed he wasn't surprised — the news spheres had plastered his fight with Baralai all over Spira. It wasn't a surprise people would be confused.

He was confused, that was for sure.

"I am going to go find an ocean and jump in." Tidus rubbed his hair, throwing up a cloud of dust. "You game, or are you going to rush home and pace around Baralai's bed some more?"

"He might be up." Gippal kept missing him when he was awake, either by being out on an errand or sleeping himself. "Still don't get how he caught a cold."

"Probably the same reason I ended up with a runny nose my first two months in Spira." Tidus loped down the steps; Gippal had to hurry to keep up, and it was starting to hurt. "New places, new people. Bound to happen if he really has spent the last few years in Bevelle." They broke down the steps of the temple into the jungle, the calls of birds and animals draping over them as they walked under the canopy of leaves. "Nooj'll give you the eye if you get dirt all over his house."

"Nooj has been giving me the eye since we got here," Gippal complained.

"Hard to blame him, with all the lying you're doing." Tidus held up his hands with Gippal jerked away. "I'm not judging or saying it's wrong, man. You have to do what you think is best."

Gippal kicked a rock down the path, barely missing a monkey that squealed and dove into the brush. "Telling him would just make things more awkward."

"For you or him?" Tidus was too good at reading people.

"Both? I don't know. He has enough to worry about besides the fact we used to—it just feels useless." The beat of their boots on the path replaced their voices for awhile as they curved around. Gippal could hear the sounds of Kilika again.

"You do a bad job of hiding it." Tidus always got a little gruff when giving advice. Leftovers, Gippal guessed, from his own experience with getting it.

"Maybe you could give me pointers on hiding my feel—oh wait." Gippal hated being snide, but he didn't want to talk about it. "Whatever. I'm sorry. I don't know if it's right, and last time I tried to pay attention to how I acted around him it ended with him telling me he was scared."

"I don't remember the old Baralai being scared of much." Tidus pressed a branch back, let it snap back as he passed. "Funny how timid he is now."

Gippal thought about the changes in Baralai, the one here and the one he had known before. Too shy, nervous, and the biggest change drove Gippal crazy because Baralai touched everyone and everything, like he could puzzle all he didn't know out by feeling.

He didn't catch sight of Paine until they were wandering through the trees at the edge of the forrest, and Tidus called out for her. Gippal looked up in time to see that she was pissed. That wasn't good, and he didn't like that her gaze was aimed at him.

"You're late," she said, "and Baralai's gone."

"With who?" Tidus sounded confused, but Gippal got it, had figured it out before Paine even bothered to glance past him.

"He went off by himself?" Tidus swore. "That dude must have a death wish."

"I'm not sure you're that far off." Paine turned away. "He went through Nooj's spheres."

Gippal could feel his heart, a deep beat, making it harder to breathe with each pulse. Paine spoke again and Tidus whistled, but he didn't hear them. He didn't need to hear them to know what Baralai had found. "Who let him do that?"

"Nooj offered. Don't try to blame him—he never purposefully filmed you two being—" Paine was pissed, but she wasn't going to take it out on him, which meant she was more annoyed at letting Baralai slip off. "He's been gone for an hour. Yuna noticed when she went in to give him some medicine, and they've gone out to look for him."

It was suicide. However welcoming the council had been, however understanding Yuna assured Gippal they were of what was happening, the people couldn't understand. They couldn't even know. It had been Isaaru's idea to hide this, to protect Baralai from a council that had too much power. Isaaru's position as Praetor wasn't enough weight against them, and he wouldn't be able to protect Baralai at all if people found out the truth and spread it back to the council they were trying to protect him from. Gippal could already hear Shelinda's perky voice over the commsphere network dishing out the news in his head.

Tidus and Paine were discussing where Baralai might have gone, having seen none of the city in the last two days. But Gippal knew already. He took off toward the gate, dodging crowds.

It didn't take him long to get the the headquarters once he got through the people on the main decks. It was late, the sun stretching toward the horizon as Gippal slowed on the pier toward the building. It was huge, a burnt orange in the fading light. Yevon had added on to it over the years, even though a lot of the additions had been lost during the riots and burned down. Some citizens had made it a hotel afterwards, decks surrounding on it all sides for tables or events, like an island of its own. There were a few groups sitting around, one of them two kids playing with dice. One kid looked up at him. He nudged his friend.

"He's around back." The kid was young, but didn't sound mean. "Someone punched him in the face before we pushed them off the deck." His voice told Gippal just what they had thought of it, so he relaxed and nodded his thanks.

Gippal found Baralai behind the building, alone, dangling his feet into the water. Gippal watched him for a minute, head hanging. There was an ice-pack on his cheek, so someone had taken care of him. He glanced back at the hotel and started the for edge.

"Hey."

Baralai didn't respond, but his legs stilled in the water. His pants were soaked up to the thigh. Gippal sat down beside him, but not close enough to tough.

"So I guess you know."

Baralai laughed. "Gippal, I barely know anything. Or did you forget?" He moved his hand, and Gippal saw the bruise along his jaw, already bursting into color. "You want to hear some of the things I know? I know I hurt the man that hit me and I didn't have to. I know that everyone in Spira hates me, and before I counted just a few that didn't and now that's gone, too. I know I watched a sphere where you—" Baralai's voice caught on a low, skipped with his quick intake of breath. "You kissed me. I kissed you back. We weren't just friends, Gippal."

He didn't know what to say, so he chose the safe route, and lifted a shoulder.

"It won't get out of my head." Baralai pressed the ice back to his face. "We were happy, but you hid it from me. Why would you do that?"

Gippal snorted. "'Lai, you're answering your own questions. It's always past tense with us. Those spheres were recorded before you went off the deep end."

"I had a right to know."

"Maybe and maybe not. You're not that person anymore."

"I might as well be." He kicked up water. "I'm taking his punches and walking in his shoes."

"Well, the first one was optional and you chose it by going out without us." Gippal watched the water lap up, ripple after ripple. "I was going to tell you. Later."

"How much later? When you were done hauling me around? When I met some invisible requirement?"

Gippal couldn't believe he was going—but yes he could, because with Baralai it had never been about embarrassment. It hadn't been about anything but them until Gippal realized—too late—that it was about power, and Baralai had him all wrapped up. History repeating as he said, "I loved you. You don't have that for me. Don't you get it? It's different."

"I wouldn't have made you feel bad," Baralai whispered. "It explains some things."

"Like what?" Suspicious comments, Gippal didn't like those. They grew into secrets.

The look Baralai gave him was affectionate, like he might as well have rubbed Gippal's head. "Just things. I don't like feeling out of the loop. I wish you would tell me things so I don't have to stumble into them."

"I never know what you want to hear."

"Everything." Baralai pointed to the building behind them. "Like this. Who designed this? It's ugly."

Gippal didn't expect it, so he laughed at the horror laced in Baralai's voice. "New Yevon engineers, I guess."

"I hope it wasn't me," Baralai said, giving the hotel a sad look.

Gippal wasn't going to get thrown off that easy. "Everything? If I see something you used to know, just tell you things?"

"Yes. It's not that hard, I—I need answers, I need to understand." Baralai pressed his hands into the edge of the deck. "Everything."

Gippal could embarrass him with that all over the place, but he didn't think Baralai would appreciate his privacy being invaded and everyone knowing where Gippal had taken off his clothes in public. In fact, Paine might kick him him out of the airship if he tried. "I'll give it a shot."

It was getting darker; the sun had slipped behind the horizon to color the sky dark blue and bright orange. It made Gippal wish they were up in the air to see it, anywhere but here, where the city was hostile and there was nowhere to go.

"I could believe in us," Baralai said. "Us. It makes sense why you came. I'm sorry."

Gippal tilted his head. Baralai threw apologies around like confetti these days, but it was still so odd to hear him do it. "For what?"

"I hurt you every day you have to be with me." The bugs were starting to buzz as Baralai sat, looking for words. "It's not fair."

"Not much is these days." Stupid thing to say. "But I'm not hurting so bad. Stupid in love with you still, happy that you're here, angry that—" He breathed into his palms. "Angry at you for things you don't remember. But I don't regret you being here."

"I want to be the person in those videos again," Baralai murmured. "But I want to remember. If I do, I'll never make it." He stared at Gippal long enough that Gippal shifted away.

"What?"

"Do you want me to remember?" The tone was curious, but Gippal didn't know if he wanted to go there. "Really."

Stars were out above their head; he could barely see the shapes of anything around him. "Not really." He let out a breath. "I never want you to go back to where you were. You remember, you'll trip over yourself trying to get away from me." Gippal hated him for a minute, hated everything he had done to bring them both to the dock. "Dirty Al Bhed. One of the last things you said to me, and that's the truth. So no, I never want you to remember."

Baralai still move fast for the man who couldn't remember any fighting techniques at all. He knocked them both back on the deck with his lunge, arm clasped tight and Gippal only had a second to roll them so they didn't go for a swim.

"Gippal—"

"You're crazy—"

Baralai was warm under him, familiar, comfortable. He fit. "I won't run away from you even if I do." He touched Gippal's face, followed trails. "Now I'll have to keep your secret." He smiled, and all Gippal could do was lay his forehead on Baralai's shoulder, and laugh until he cried for real.

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