A/N: Being totally clueless I actually uploaded this without a disclaimer! Whoops, but, I, in no way whatsoever own FFX-2, I only wish I did, but Square-Enix got there first, what with their superior ability and funding... -puppy dog eyes- Please don't sue me, I need money to buy shoes!
Never mind! Second time lucky, this upload may see the light of day! Feedback is greatly appreciated, especially if it's constructive, if you just don't like the pairing, you had suitable warning outside, so don't yell at me, I'm fragile, -mock-sniffles-
One more thing, if anyone would like to Beta for me, I will worship at their feet, because I'm really bad at finding my own spelling mistakes, which would be why I make them in the first place... -rolls eyes- Anywho, I'd also be glad to repay the favour, seeing as I pride myself on the ability to differentiate between the various spellings of 'there', as well as proper uses of 'then' and 'than'! -grins triumphantly- Now... on with the show or something!
'...' Quote or emphasis
Under the Surface,Chapter One: Gather round and listen good
Resultant from the bitterly ironic gift of hindsight, I really suppose I should have noticed my sudden dislodgement from the high wire of sanity and the consequent fall into utter madness.
With the aid of my failing organ of cognitive function, I can hazard a feeble guess that my problems started when my ultimate nightmare scenario came true… and you can hardly blame a girl for losing her marbles over the sheer magnitude of this lurid proclamation. Imagine, if you will, the day from hell, 'my day from hell' to be exact and just a wee bit pedantic. Indulge me; I've earned it many times over.
The Gullwings had been having a rather regular day, until a mass of calls came in. Not surprisingly, hardly any of them were regarding the prospect of sphere hunting, which is our profession, though for some strange reason whenever Yuna's name is mentioned people seem to forget that, so we had to take a lot of the other calls to keep the cash flow out of the red. It's not a glamorous life, but I get to travel, plus, if we find you-know-who for Yunie, the smile she'll wear for the rest of her life will be reason enough to indulge some stupidly rich clientele who just want the High Summoner to fix their insignificant problems.
Anyways, after traipsing all over the island of Besaid for some ciphers,
I tell you, it would've taken less time to guess the combination-
which were eventually discovered with the aid of some little children who were exuberant enough to make the climb up the craggy bluffs, we found Wakka in what now seems to me a permanent state of brooding. I mean, he hardly reacts when I poke him in his pot belly and mock him anymore! Not that I take pleasure from being mean, it's just that Lu's the one eating for two and she's as thin as she was two years ago!
Well, we got the sphere, so the expedition was worthwhile, I suppose, even if it was just footage of a treasure chest we'd already raided. It was pretty late in the day by then, what with the hours we'd spent foraging for four measly numbers.
We'd then battled our way through the tourists in Zanarkand, only to discover that my own father was responsible for making money out of one of my most precious memories! I know, I'm an Al Bhed, we say that memories are only memories, but when the seven of us sat around that fire, it was the first time in my whole life that I'd felt connected, a part of something. I admit we were a motley bunch, but it was the first time I was just Rikku, without my heritage tainting the judgement of others.
I swear to Yevon I almost knocked one of those cloned tour guide's teeth out! I eventually was brought to the point of mass homicide when she said: fabulous! For like, the two thousandth time. However, that was before that good for nothing Pop of mine asked me if I'd like to buy a damned clue! I gave him a piece of my mind alright, the stupid old coot. Like anyone with half a brain cell wouldn't guess that it was monkey! Apart from Yunie, bless her heart… Key-mon? Then Isaaru and his cringe-worthy game show host dialogue? I lost my faith in humanity then. Anyway, as I obviously hadn't suffered enough I was rewarded with a sphere fragment. That's right, fragment, not a whole, a half!
So we returned to the Celsius, where stupid Brother was still pretending to be crippled after the incident at Gagazet. I mean, at the beginning, he was all: Look after Rikku! Then, my name was no longer mentioned in conversation. First I'm addressed as a liability then I'm not addressed at all! Honestly, the whole incest issue is too horrible for me to even contemplate anyway. I'm just relieved that Yunie's clueless. I'm hoping like hell that Paine won't mention it though. I don't care how many respect points I lose, if she opens her mouth I'll throw her off the deck.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, Macalania Woods. This is where my own cousin, hereby referred to as Miss. Goody-Two-Shoes for the rest of eternity, took O'aka the XXIII onboard so we could pay off his debt. At this rate with zippo, seeing as I've never owned that sum of Gil in my life, let alone at the moment. So, I was tired from running all over everywhere with little or no result, I was angry at my stupid family, I was facing becoming homeless if I over-drafted enough to help the peddler, or I had the debt collectors breathing down my neck. So far, so good right? We haven't even gotten to the truly harrowing part of the story kiddies.
Buddy had picked up info about hiring up at Djose Temple. This was what I was waiting for; I could hear the pocket change jingling in the scary recesses of my mind. Who cares if I had to deal with that jerk Gippal? If he was paying me enough I'd let him ruffle my hair any day! Of course I'd still grumble about it, but that's more on a basis of principle, because inflating Gippal's ego any further means that it would have to have a town of its own to inhabit. This was where my tenuous hold on reality went bye-bye. Yeah, I skimmed through the rest of the trauma, just to hammer home my suffering with just that little pinch more of emotive emphasis. I'd say sue me, but you know about my money problems, so there'd be no point whatsoever in trying.
We'd stood in line, me bouncing happily, because even if patience isn't my strong suit, money speaks my language. That's when good ole pain in the ass Gippal showed up. Walked past the three of us like we didn't exist, pompous creep that he is and all, because it's hard for him to show respect for anyone, let alone the girl who saved the world. Ok, I more than helped, but she deserves the glory, end of discussion.
Anyway, I almost chased after him to ask what the hell he was playing at, but I know Gippal, he's just trying to posture, he'll act all: Why would I need to be impressed with the celebrity, I'm better than she is!
Ok, I'm not really hiding my blazing dislike of the man, but you can't blame me. He's ruffled my hair, insulted me and called me Cid's Girl for as long as I can remember, plus he's an arrogant bastard.
So, we went in, right? Gippal was no longer taking interviews, because three a day must be seriously taxing and all. I told Paine and Yunie to wait outside while I prepared to break out the ass whooping. Stupid Gippal got the last word though, obviously trying to flirt with my poor cousin. That's what the man does, hits on anything with breasts in a skirt. A personality isn't a prerequisite, neither is a pulse, just the boobs really. Well, I'd stormed up to him, poked him hard with a painted finger in the chest, and then got really distracted. Yeah, beginning of the madness I tell you, not because of Gippal and his sexy muscles.
Ok, I'll switch to the exact conversation, seeing as you'll definitely believe that infinitely more than listening to me having a schizophrenic argument because I'm still in denial.
What? It's a good place to be!-
Anyways, I'd just backed the hell away from the leader of the Machine Faction and decided to interrogate some little kid.
He was bent over his work intently, merrily playing with a screwdriver so he could check the wiring. Obviously the poor little mite had to work some of the bugs out yet. I handed him a screwdriver that would actually be of any use, I mean, the other one was bigger than he was, bless, -ok, mustn't get broody just because he's cute.- He muttered a thank you, whether due to embarrassment or the catalytic converter strapped to his face I will never know.
"Thanks for the screwdriver; I just need to deal with some finishing touches. I've created a mini-hover, you see! I'm such a genius!" The way he said that made me think of Shinra and I had to smile. "However, the main glitch is that… well…" I'm sure he'd be blushing if I could see under the mask. "It kind of, can't turn left…" I fought the urge to hug him and coo at the little midget, instead pointing out that a connecting wire had come loose. "Excellent! Now everyone will be in awe of my invention!" He cried triumphantly and I gave him a congratulatory high five.
"What will it transport?" I asked, giving myself a distraction from the hole Gippal seemed to be glaring into my back as much as indulging the little one. Honest to Yevon, I thought my robes were going to melt! Oh, yeah, I'd switched dress sphere in anticipation of this meeting, because I'm uncomfortable showing so much, skin, around people, the monsters can have me in a bikini, but I'm not giving anyone with the possibility of cognitive mental behaviour the chance of mocking my lack of anything to fill said bikini. Sad, I know, but for my height and frame it's impossible to have anything more than I have without a hell of a lot of help. Anyways, there I was, dressed like a soon to be melted nun, staff strapped to my back and praying to all that was good and holy that Gippal would just leave. I was snapped out of my reverie by the young mechanic stuttering his answer.
"Well… you see… we haven't found anything that… can actually… you know… fit… on it yet…" I bit my lip to prevent an outburst of laughter, it'd crush him, I knew.
"Why don't you use it to transport smaller joining parts, like screws, nuts, bolts, spanners, you know, the small and light stuff, it usually takes way too long to get them over here or to Bikanel." His face lit up, I'm sure it did, again I damn that mask!
"That's a great idea lady!" He cried, ok, I just got called 'lady', I feel strangely old…
"I'm Rikku, pleased to meet you!" This was slightly altered from what I wished to say: I'm Rikku, can I keep you? Before he could speak however, I was tapped quite firmly on the shoulder and spun to face the blazing eye of Gippal. I did what could be expected; I laughed nervously and stared like a chocobo in the headlights of an oncoming hover.
"You done ignoring me Cid's Girl? Or should I go stand in the corner until you're brave enough to tell me that you want to dig?" Ooh… damn his smugness…
"None of your damn business what I want!" I spat, realising far too late that of course it was his business, which he jumped on phenomenally quickly.
"Really? Because usually if people come here they want a job… and I hand out these jobs. However, if you just wanted an excuse to see me, for which I can't blame you, then I'd still prefer it if you asked my permission to ogle." He said through that same damned smirk.
"The day I'd wish to ogle you would be the day I was worse off on the eye front than YOU, Gippal!" I screeched, before clapping a hand over my mouth. That was uncalled for, even against someone like Gippal the almighty jerk. "I'm sorry; I should never have said that." He waved me off, but I saw his smirk had left the building and felt even more hideously guilty. "Ok, ok, misdirection failed, Gippal, let me stare at your sexy body, please!" I asked, on my knees, puppy dog eyes out in full force. Yeah, I was as stunned as he was, let me tell you. I still cringe remembering that moment. The smirk came backso wideI was almost blinded by its entrancing shiny-nessand I knew my apology had been accepted.
"Well Cid's Girl, you could've saved us both a lot of years of heartache if you'd just admitted you need me so badly." I fought the rising urge to dropkick him to the unyielding, icy flagstones and then dance on his stupid ego-inflated head. Instead I weakly said:
"I have a name…" Yeah, I'd somehow lost this round because of my darned conscience.
"I know you have a name, Cid's Girl." He grinned and I growled.
"Anyways, we want to dig, give us something with your official seal emblazoned upon it or whatnot so I can leave…" I muttered angrily, glaring at the floor like it was responsible for this change in the balance of power.
"Official seal? That's not a half bad idea! I could have personal little stamps with my face on them!"
I'd prefer to stamp YOUR face.-
"Yeah, great…" I mumbled distractedly, conjuring many painful deaths for the arrogant man.
"First, I need to borrow you for a sec; that ok with you?" I nodded in his vague direction until I suddenly noticed I was being dragged into Gippal's room, by Gippal, the Gippal I had just told I ogled… Ooh dear… I had not expected to come face to face with daddy dearest.
Oh crikey it was a set up.
"Hi sweetie, what a surprise to see you here!" Cid exclaimed, looking all the world for someone who had been waiting for my arrival for quite some time. This is where I should've run; screaming for everything I was worth so maybe Paine could come and save me. Not that she would've saved me, I think she finds it amusing when I suffer, but it was worth a shot, right? Yunie could help me! Then again, she looked about comatose after Gippal had gotten it on with the flirtation. This was when I realised I was screwed, hopelessly, utterly up a creek without any way of getting myself out of said creek, with water infested with eels and leeches just in case I decided to swim for it. At that point in time I was ready to brave the leeches. I mumbled something along the lines of: Look at the time! Then I started to hastily back pedal to the doorway. I felt the cool metal come up against my shoulder blades and panicked.
Why is the door shut? When did the door shut?-
To answer these questions I spun round and desperately tried to open the door. The door was not only closed, it was also locked. I quickly turned round again, full of a dangerous mixture of ire and fear, to see Gippal waving the key at me, cocky grin on his annoying face.
"Looking for something?" He asked, knowing what I wanted but obviously doubtful of the lengths I would go to so I could get it. I leapt at the key, full body tackling him to the floor. Yup… he didn't see that one coming.
"GIVE ME THAT KEY!" I bellowed, which I must admit is rather out of character for me, but as I blame for everything now: madness. Gippal must have been deaf even before I yelled, so he didn't relinquish the key. In response to this ultimate act of stupidity, I wrenched my staff from my back and whacked him full in the face with it. From the way father winced he heard the crunch of cartilage as well. He seemed to have decided that Gippal might need some help, so I was bodily hoisted off him, flailing wildly with my stick. I managed to crack one of the guards in the kneecap with my heel and the other got an elbow in the kisser, so I was temporarily free again.
Cringing, because I don't actually like hurting people if I can help it, I beat the two poor guards into the happy land of the unconscious and went after Gippal for my key. He'd gotten up at this stage, but his nose was streaming blood and I could trace the imprint of my staff head in his face. He looked angry. Well, angry was a bit of an understatement, if looks could kill, I'd be dust in the wind by now. I did the whole, nervous laughter again and hid my staff behind my back. I must admit at present that this was not the wisest thing to do, because without my scary weapon he thought it was a good idea to lunge at me. Too many people underestimate me I'm afraid, I've got the best reflexes in the game! I don't quite know which game we were playing, but I would win it, definitely, what with my mad skills and all. Er… Yeah, I'm trying to avoid recounting snapping my arm out to wrench the staff in a whirling overhead arc, all equipped with a nifty pirouette, that quite possibly split his skull. If there's any compromise for anyone, he did drop like a stone right away, so he couldn't have been in THAT much pain, right?
Leaning over the out cold Gippal, I dropped my staff to grab the key and clap in delight. This was my greatest mistake in a big list of stupid mistakes. Father had snuck up behind me and grabbed me, trapping my arms at my sides and leaving my legs useless. I struggled anyway, snapping my head back to give Pops one heck of a black eye, but the infernal man still wouldn't let me go! Not even when I asked politely! "GEROFFAME!" Okay… not exactly polite… or coherent… but I asked! Well… ordered… demanded… not that synonymous with asked…
"That any way to greet your own father? Kids these days! Just ain't got no respect fer their elders!" He said, giving me the disappointed parent act, still holding me fast in his bear hug.
"Pops, you don't get to pull 'disappointed father' out of your bag of tricks, not when you spend 90 of the time playing 'absentee father'." I grumbled, having ceased my struggling because it wasn't getting me anywhere and my legs were beginning to feel like lead weights.
"Most fathers don't have kids like you and Brother…" He muttered back.
"Whose fault could that possibly be, Father of the Year?" I snapped sarcastically.
"Beats me, DAUGHTER, but spare me the compliments, my ears are burning!" He said, laughing at me. Yes, the man had the audacity, the NERVE, to laugh at me!
"Ok, no compliments then. I guess seeing as we have to wait for Gippal the Great to return to the land of consciousness; I have to talk to you about Zanarkand." I said, quite seriously, well, I snorted a bit when I mentioned Gippal, but it was quite funny.
"In all due time girl, but this conversation might not take place at all." He laughed bitterly and I tried to turn my head in askance. "Young Gippal over there will wake up, take one look at you, call off all bets and run!" This time he laughed in genuine amusement.
"You're not going to give me a heads up until he wakes up, are you?" I asked, groaning in vexation. I like knowing stuff, it's a vice, and it pisses me off when I'm out of the loop.
"Of course not, I'd prefer you to settle down enough to let the poor boy talk to you before you break his nose!" He chuckled and I blushed. "Again!" I do regret hitting Gippal, I know he's evil, but it sounded like it really hurt. "I'll tell you that I warned him though, said you weren't going to take this sitting down, didn't quite expect guns blazing however." I could tell by his voice that he had quirked an eyebrow and was shooting me a sardonic look.
"I've had a really bad day. On the best of days, dealing with Gippal is a dampener, today of all days? He's lucky to be alive." I said, glaring disdainfully at the sprawl of limbs. Cid laughed again.
"I think I should've waited before unveiling my tours, right?" He asked.
"You shouldn't have them in the first place! It's… it's…" I stuttered irately.
"Like turning Home into a theme park?" He asked, sounding guilty.
"Father, I can't expect you to understand, but we had to work so hard to get there, as did the Summoners and Guardians before Yunie and me. It was the last place where we were all together, happy, before… he… left us. Where we knew where we were going, there was a dark cloud, threatening to burst overhead, but we fought it every step of the way. We found a way, but it was… so hard… Tidus was the closest friend I had… Yunie, she loved him so much… and I couldn't tell her that he had to leave, because the Fayth were tired of dreaming, because there was no other way we could save her." I stammered through a sentimental soliloquy, frustrated with myself and my loss of my happy go lucky demeanour. "She would have died, in vain, and it would start all over again. So we made the sacrifice for her, and it hurt her more than I could ever have imagined. She wasn't a fighter, her Aeons weren't strong enough to protect her, she wasn't strong enough to protect herself, so we fought for her, while she watched creatures bonded to her soul extinguished, because there was no other way that we could find. We took two precious things from her, to save every other worthless, undeserving life, because that's what it is to be selfless. That's right; I didn't feel selfless as I watched her cry until there was nothing left. I watched her ribs showing clearer each day, I saw the deep rims under her eyes etched ever deeper, and all I could tell myself is that Spira was safe, the Eternal Calm had come, I had done my duty. I didn't feelas damnedselfless as I should've done." I bit my lip as I felt his grip going lax, refusing to cry, refusing to feel it all again. "She's allowed a bit of self indulgence, father. She deserves this much. But where he stood, are tourists who cannot possibly understand what she has given them, so I ask you, give her the one thing you can give her, because she's not ready to give him up to memories yet." I tore myself from his grasp, pivoting to stare into his dark, shining eyes. "Do it or I will disown you, my heritage and whatever ridiculous plan you've come up with this time. Don't make me beg, father." I asked, staring hard into his eyes, so unlike my own, so similar in the emotions they contained.
There was a loud knock on the door, which quickly devolved to frantic banging. I opened the door to meet the concerned ruby eyes of Paine. I turned on the irritating yet endearing mega-watt smile. "Why hello there Paine, concerned about little old me?" I asked demurely, giggling saccharinely. Paine looked over at the three bodies and grinned.
"Worried for everyone else in the room with you, especially Gippal, but I believe his ass whooping was deserved. Ten respect points." She smiled softly.
WHAT? It wasn't my fault I was abducted!-
"PAINE! I didn't do anything wrong! I NEED those respect points! Why must you take them away?" When the worst comes to the worst, bring out the big guns: the high pitched, decibels louder than human beings could stand lung popping whine.
"If you don't want them you don't have to have them." She was smiling way too much. Paine smiling frightens me. Very, very much, I think it's because I laid the smack down on Gippal… interesting… -Wait… I EARNED respect points?-
"WHEEE!" I threw my arms around Paine's neck and squeaked happily.
"Stop that or you'll lose twenty." She grumbled. My arms went to my sides immediately and I laughed sheepishly.
"So, what's the emergency?" I asked, trying to change the subject from my losing of the respect points.
"Well, we were wondering how long an ass kicking would take, but I'm glad you were so thorough, Yuna's only just come round from the flirting. She's still muttering an occasional: Unclean, but she's not flipping out anymore." Paine tried not to smile, but I was doubled over in laughter.
"Gippal has that effect on women… he likes to think he doesn't, but he's not all that good with the flirtation aspect of wooing." I giggled and swore I heard Pops growl. Gippal sat bolt upright, looked at the three of us, each shooting him death glares and whimpered like a frightened puppy.
"Well, Miss. Paine was it?" He continued at her brusque nod. "I'll be sure to return my daughter to you shortly, but I need to speak with her and Gippal, for just a moment, if you don't mind." He said, not pulling off suave and debonair by any stretch of the imagination. Paine looked to me in askance, before shooting another look at Gippal and biting back a snigger. I took the time to give him the once over and flushed crimson. His face still looked like it had been pressed in a waffle iron, his nose was swollen and puffy and still trickling blood that was rapidly clotting over his lips and chin, whilst he was sporting a rather colossal bump on the back of his head, which seemed to have split from the blood it was pouring.
"Did I do all that?" I asked desperately, wide eyed. Cid looked at me and grinned wryly.
"In two blows… sometimes I forget how much you take after your mother…" He chuckled and I crouched over the moaning Gippal, readying my staff for a curative spell. He saw the staff of doom, shrieked like a little girl and tried to back away.
Paine had actually cracked up by this point, which was freaking me out an awful lot, but I couldn't complain, happy Paine was a welcome change, heck, if she wasn't all monotonous anything was a welcome change! Gippal was still shuffling slowly backwards, not making much leeway in his concussed state of mind.
"Gippal, I'm not going to hurt you," I started in a gentle, talking to a small child armed with something horrible and liable to be very difficult to get out of hair and clothes voice. Gippal whimpered and shuffled faster. The overall effect was like a crab scuttling without the aid of many of its legs and would be hysterically funny if I didn't feel so guilty. Obviously my ploy had failed so I decided to use the voice that got Pops and Brother to shut up for a second instead of fighting. This voice has been honed to perfection over many years of my embarrassing family duking it out, usually at public functions, which is another drawback of being the 'Princess' of a people, let me tell you, if I'm not breaking Pops and Brother up I'll be otherwise 'engaged' with the bachelor Pops has auctioned me off to for the evening. Nevertheless, the voice always does the job, so don't knock it. "GIPPAL! SIT STRAIGHT, SIT STILL AND DO NOT MOVE A MUSCLE OR YOU WILL REGRET IT UNTIL THE END OF YOUR MISERABLE LITTLE LIFE!" I screamed.
Pops, Gippal and even Paine stood, or slumped in Gippal's case, to attention, staring at me with wide, frightened eyes. The storm cloud over my head seemed to instantly dissipate and the demonic fire in my eyes was extinguished and I exuded mellowness. I smiled softly at Gippal, whose muscles seemed to be acting against the orders of his terrified and overloaded mind, given the fact that his limbs were trembling. This was imperceptible to the others in the room, but I saw it alright, what with his face being two inches from my own.
I probably should have spent my time in a wiser way, instead of staring for a good long while before confirming that his eye was the colour of the ocean. It was a mixture of blues and greens, you know, where the sea just begins to leave the aqua coloured shallows, swirled into the sapphire of the depths. Oh, plus there are little flecks of silver, like the foam on the crests of the waves. They change colour when he's happy.
I'm insane… He was looking at me strangely, as if just noticing I was there, for the first time. I smiled softly and closed my eyes, flickering from my physical vision to the iridescent spectrum given to me by the dress sphere. I must admit I'm not as given to the arts of ancient magic as Yunie, or Lu, but I could cast anything I damn wanted to! I just, might end up in a coma afterwards…
I saw the magic meandering around the contours of the staff's head, colours racing each other and colliding in a fine mist of light. Concentrating hard, I managed to coax the magic out, infusing my fingertips with it. I drew the patterns with familiar ease, watching the glyphs gyrating and pulsating under closed lids. I moved my hand to Gippal's face, watching my fingers streaming stardust, little rivulets of life dancing upon his breath as he exhaled sharply. I opened my eyes and saw his panic. Oops, I probably looked even crazier going off into what appeared to be La La Land. Dropping my staff, I caught the hand straining towards me and squeezed gently, touching my fingers to his face and closing my eyes again. I gently pushed the magic into Gippal's offended appendage and the fragments of crushed cartilage straightened and knit together. I then traced the superficial epidermal damage, watching the skin expand and restore, the tiny blood vessels summoning back the lost life essence and sealing themselves tightly against further invasion and wanton destruction. Running my hand through blood matted hair, I located the colossal bump with a small wince, probably from all parties involved, then proceeded to irrigate the inundation of plasma and repair more damaged blood vessels. The skin had closed over itself and I couldn't detect any other cranial trauma, so I discharged the magic back into the staff and let out a tired sigh. Opening my eyes to meet the confused stare of Gippal I waved feebly.
"Take two potions and call me in the morning!" I giggled drunkenly and slumped forward into his lap.
A/N: Ta-da! does weird dance Remember, feedback is appreciated very very much begs Review! I'll give you shiny things! Well, maybe not COOL shiny things... more like... tin foil...
Thanks for the advice, faithful reviewers, I hope I've double-spaced enough... I am so very bad with machina...