I'm typing this on my laptop upstairs in my room… for the first time. I used my savings bonds to buy it "for college." Yea, right, we all know how often it's gonna be used for that, right?
Okay, this little ditty I started writing on the plane to Florida… most of it I can't read now because there was a lot of turbulence, but I think I'll wing it. It's written in first person because I like doing that. Deplora thinks I'm weird, though. Anyone else have trouble writing first person, or is it just her? This whole story was inspired by one phrase—the phrase I use for the suit of the Club in a deck of cards: PuppyFeet. Not much else to say, really. Anchors away!
Disclaimer: I don't actually own Gippal and Rikku. Really. All I did was borrow them, I was gonna pay it back, I swear. The check is in the mail!
I dunno what to do with myself these days. Yuna found you-know-who, and now she's off enjoying happiness with him… obviously she left the Gullwings first. Paine finally found all the answers she was looking for and was ready to get on with her life, so she left, too. So out of sheer boredom, I left the Gullwings, too. There was absolutely no way I was gonna let myself sit on that ship with Brother and Buddy constantly trying to pick up girls. Buddy I don't mind so much, but being around Brother so much drives me bonkers.
So… now I'm trying to find something to, you know, do. Keyword: trying. I get bored so easily. That's part of the reason the sphere hunting was a good niche for me. We never actually did the same sort of thing twice, even in the same place or on a similar mission. That was always so great for me because I have the attention span of a gnat. Now trying to find something to keep me busy and happy at the same time is impossible—like finding a needle in a haystack only slightly less exciting. Maybe I should do that for a living.
I've been doing random odd jobs. Electrician here, waitress there, hover pilot somewhere else. I even worked at Clasko's chocobo ranch for a while, but I gave it up when a baby chocobo bit me in the butt and I needed five stitches. Nothing's really kept me busy for long. I get bored and quit and move on and find something else for a month or so and then start over again. Paine says it's like I have "life ADHD," because I can't just stay in one place for a long time without getting the itch to get up and move again. I hate to admit it, but I think she's right.
These days, I'm in Luca, working at the Queen Coeurl Bar. Yea, I'm a bartender. I actually like bartending—it's interesting and different things happen pretty often. Keeps my attention span happy. People confide in the bartender. It's like in old films when men sit down at the bar and talk to Old Harry, the Barkeeper. Only I'm younger than Old Harry and I'm cuter. Luca is the main location for all kinds of people, but a lot of them are Breakers. (These days, people who play Sphere Break a lot are called "Breakers.") To appeal to Breakers, I wear my Lady Luck costume, the one Yuna won from that squooky little genius, Shinra. But it's a cool dressphere and seems to inspire people to leave large tips. Plus it has that club suit tattoo right between my breasts, which probably also has to do with influencing the size of my tips.
So it's been two months now, and I haven't gotten so bored I wanna leave. Tidus and Yuna have come by twice—once for a blitzball tournament for Tidus, and another time for a Sphere Break competition for Yuna. She's become such a huge Breaker since she dug up all those coins in the Bikanel Desert. Everyone insists she's playing dirty. I think it's just because she uses all the fancy coins. Other people that I vaguely recognize have also passed by and stopped in for a drink. Mostly I just see new-old faces. Some come in here to relax, some come to have some fun, some come to pick up girls. A lot of them talk with me, even if only for a little while. Usually they ask my advice or ask questions. Usually it's guys who ask. They ask about what to get their girlfriend or wife for her birthday or an anniversary, some guys ask me what to say to that girl over there to make her come back to his apartment with him. Sometimes it's a woman who wants to know if her boyfriend is worth keeping around.
But… it was unusually quiet and inactive that night. It was Sunday, so a lot of people don't actually drink on Sundays and instead get an early, sober night and make sure they're completely with it for work the next morning. Sometimes people would come in who didn't have to work the next day or didn't have to go in until the afternoon. But that night it was just one lonely old drunk guy taking gin directly out of the bottle, listening to "You Make Me Feel So Young" over and over again on the jukebox.
I was really starting to get painfully bored and I was starting to think that maybe it'd be a good idea for me to kick Mr. I'm-Old-And-Nostalgic out of the bar and close down for the night, and maybe get an early night myself for a change. But then he came in.
Yea… he really wasn't the person I wanted to talk to just then. He strutted into the bar and looked around for a minute like he wasn't sure if the bar was actually open or not. I was hoping that maybe I could duck under the counter and he would think it was closed… just so that he would go away. But I stood out in bright yellow against the white, black, and light blue that themed the entire bar. He spotted me and strutted over like a cock chocobo.
For a guy with one eye, Gippal sees remarkably well.
I couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed by seeing him again. I vividly remember that day at Djose when we introduced ourselves as the Gullwings to the Machine Faction leader. I hadn't seen him for eight months before that, since our little breakup. Looking back on it, I sounded like a freaking idiot, yattering and pretending to be oh-so-cute.
On the plus side, his general presence helped to break up the monotony.
"Hey, Cids' girl behind a bar! I'm surprised Daddy let you work in a place like this where strange men can ogle at your mostly-exposed breasts under the influence of alcohol."
"My breasts are under the influence of alcohol?" I could talk and make witty little remarks a lot easier when Paine and Yuna weren't around… for whatever reason.
Gippal smiled a little. "Ah, yea, that's Cids' girl for you. She can never just let a joke like that slide," he said. And then leaned back and took his gloves off. I knew then I was screwed. Gippal only ever took his gloves off if he was planning on staying somewhere for a while.
I went back t cleaning glasses in hopes that he might get bored and leave, but that already seemed unlikely. He had his gloves off. He wasn't going anywhere for a while.
"What's wrong, aren't you gonna offer me a drink?"
"I don't buy drinks for strange men so they can ogle at my mostly exposed breasts," I said back. He thought that was funny.
"You're never gonna change, are you?"
Ouch. Soft spot. I'd already had this conversation with Yuna aboard the Celsius, just before our last mission. I wanted so badly to change, like she and Paine were changing. I wanted to write my own little story, no matter how short it was. But maybe I just wasn't the changing type. Maybe I was just too eclectic to change a whole lot.
Some coins clattered on the table and I remembered that I was working. Then I sighed. He really wasn't leaving. I knew I should have closed up when I had the chance.
"Okay, fine," I finally conceded. "What do you want?"
"Didn't they tell you to be nice to customers?" He joked. I rolled my eyes at him. Because he hated that. Then he said, "Scotch and ginger-ale if you've got it."
"You're weird," I told him. But I did it anyway. I even resisted this really powerful urge to spit in it while he wasn't paying attention. I gave him his drink but I only took half the coins that he'd put on the table. He was overpaying for a silly drink.
He slid the rest of them over.
"You forgot something."
"No I didn't. That makes 150, drinks are only 75."
"Just because you work here doesn't mean I can't get you a drink, right? Or would you rather take that drink from someone who's already drunk?"
I rolled my eyes at him again. If I did it enough, maybe he would leave. Gippal always hated it when people rolled their eyes at him. He said it made him feel like he was being challenged.
"Come on, talk to me a little while over some cheap Scotch," he persisted.
"I'm not old enough to drink," I said. I was getting desperate now. Everybody knew that Rikku drank, even though she wasn't technically legally old enough to do it. It was al Al Bhed thing to let kids have wine and give them a sip of something stronger every now and then. We aren't as stuffy as the rest of Spira.
"Yea, but I'm old enough to drink, which means that I can tell the bartender to shove off, she's with me and I'll keep an eye on her."
"Fine!" I grabbed another glass and made another drink but I made it a little stronger than his. Maybe if I passed out he would leave. Maybe I should have thought to make his stronger. Then he would pass out and I could leave.
At the very least, Gippal was breaking up the boredom, so I really couldn't complain too much.
"So how've you been? Brother and Buddy told me that the three ladies of the Gullwings quit a while ago. They said you were the last one to leave, but that was still more than six months ago… what have you been doing all this time?"
"They went all the way to Bikanel for girls?" I asked, thinking that was where he had bumped into them.
"How'd you find out we all left? They must've seen you somewhere unless you called them—highly unlikely."
"Well, I did call them."
"What for? Did you have a fiend problem? I thought that was all in the past since we knocked down all the aeons."
"I know, we haven't had a fiend problem in a long time, thanks to you guys. I'm still embarrassed that my machina were beaten, but a bunch of girls actually won."
"There's something to be said for Girl Power," I said a little cockily. For a while, the Gullwings were the strongest fighting force in Spira. Nobody but me seemed to get any pride out of that.
"Yea, yea," he took a nother drink. "Maybe all the enemies were distracted because they could see up your skirt."
"You jealous of them?" I teased. I figured he would just laugh about it. After all, there really wasn't anything left between us but a friendship since we broke up. And that was more than a year ago. I figured he'd already had a few new girlfriends since then.
"Only a little bit. I never did get the chance to fight you guys. I would've liked to."
"We beat your 'indestructible machina experiment' five times! That has to convince you that we'd've whooped your butt!" I thought for a second. "Or did you just wanna fight us so you could see some girls hopping around in slinky costumes?"
"That's such a guy thing. But I can sort of understand. I mean… nobody can deny how cute Yunie is."
I think he choked on his tongue or something then. He started hacking an awful lot and his face got red.
"Oh, no, please don't throw up. I just cleaned the floors." After I said that, he started laughing and choking at the same time.
Finally, he calmed down and stopped coughing.
"You okay? What the heck was that all about anyway?"
"You thought… you thought I was talking about Yuna."
"Was it Paine then? I know you guys were friends way back, so I guess it's only natural." I was sort of playing dumb on purpose. I had an inkling about what he meant, but mostly I figured I was being silly. Whatever part of me still likes him, there's an even bigger part of me that knows nothing will ever happen.
"You really need to work on playing the dumb blonde. When you're not actually oblivious and trying to pretend you have no idea what's going on, you're really not convincing."
"And stop rolling your eyes at me, you know I hate that!"
"I know that you know that I know that you hate that. That's why I'm doing it." Pause. "And you never did tell me how you found out we'd all left."
He finished his glass before he said anything. "I called the Celsius when it was in range. I was looking for you."
"Oh… well, all you had to do was ask me."
"Nobody knew where you were. They were actually worried about you. You know, because they had no idea where you were or what you were doing."
"They should know better than to worry like that. I always find something to keep me busy."
"That's what Paine said." He tilted his head a little. He was staring at something. "Hey, turn this way and tilt your head back for a second."
"I just wanna check something."
"You're not gonna do something perverted, are you?"
"No, I just want you to turn this way."
So I turned towards him and leaned my head back a little and the next thing I knew he was tracing his finger on my chest.
"What the fuck was that about?" I yelped. I would have jumped back but I remembered that I was sitting on the bar and if I jumped back I would fall and crack my head open. "I thought you said you weren't gonna do anything perverted, you freak!"
I guess at one time I probably would've liked it… but Gippal wasn't even my boyfriend anymore. He was my ex-boyfriend. And he was just being perverted. Maybe he was drunk… but he hadn't had all that much to drink. I turned my back to him.
"Just leave me alone!" I yelled.
"Puppyfeet," he said, quite out of context, actually. Even I couldn't let that one slide.
"What? What the hell are you talking about?"
"The Queen of Puppyfeet," he said, expecting me to understand… for whatever reason.
"I still have no idea what you're talking about," I told him, slightly coldly. He reached out again and I snapped his hand with a rolled-up dish towel. "Can't you take a hint!"
"No, no, it's not that—really, I didn't mean to do anything. It's just…" he sighed and combed his fingers back through his hair. He did that when he was thinking painfully hard. "Do you remember when you were younger and me and Brother tried to teach you how to play cards?"
I thought about that for a minute. "Vaguely. I think you taught me to play because nobody else would play with you guys, and you were desperate for a game. Or something like that."
"Yes, exactly. Actually, we just had extremely good luck and everybody else was convinced that we were cheating," he said, with a hint of a smile. He sounded so old when he reminisced like that. "You were probably about… eleven. Brother was fifteen, I was fourteen… ringing any bells?"
Maybe it was. Maybe just a little tinkle. "But I was a lot better at it than you guys were."
He nodded. "You and your freakin' fantastic luck. Do you remember what card you almost always had, even if you didn't use it? We all started to think it was your lucky card."
"I don't remember. I think it was a Queen, but I don't remember which one," I said, honestly trying to recall which card I always had when beating everybody in the camp at cards.
"Clubs. The Queen of Clubs. But you never remembered—"
"Oh, yea, I remember now!" I interrupted him. "Yea, I remember! I never remembered any of the other suits except for Hearts and Diamonds, so I called the Spades Flowerbuds, and the Clubs were—"
"Puppyfeet," we both said at the same time.
I glanced down. My Puppyfeet tattoo. I'd forgotten about that… but I guess it still served me some luck, now… we never lost a fight when fighting as Lady Luck.
"I can believe you remembered that," I said.
"Well, I can't believe you almost forgot it."
I smiled. First genuine smile all night. Gippal was still a dork and a jerk, but he was a deeply complex dorky jerk.
"Do you wanna go out for a walk or something?" I asked him without actually thinking first.
"Sure, why not?" He stood up. "I hear Luca's really pretty, with the sphere pool lit up at night." He took his gloves off the bar, but he didn't put them back on.
I went about my business closing up all of the cabinets and everything for the night, and I locked the front door behind me as we left.
"What about that old guy in there? The one who played that song a hundred times?" Gippal asked. I was surprised he even noticed.
"It's not like he can get at the alcohol. Besides, he probably passed out anyway. He'll get a nice long nights' sleep on the floor and someone will find him tomorrow morning when they open up for breakfast."
"Lucans drink with breakfast… sounds like my kind of place," he remarked.
I decided that was too silly to grace with a reply.
The air that night was cool, but heavy. It was nice, though. Sundays were always empty. There weren't many people out wandering like there usually were, but Luca was still a place for the frivolous. There were still a lot of people playing Sphere Break, and they would probably stay out until morning—Breakers really take their games seriously. Other people were out on walks like we were, but they were probably gonna head off to some hotel rooms in a little while. At least I took some comfort in the fact that I would never be getting a hotel room with Gippal. Ever.
I was letting him lead so that I wouldn't have to think too much. Eventually he walked us over to the docks where we could see the ships pulling in and out and sailing past. Like in the days before the Calm, Luca was still a port city. Its main source of business came in the form of sailors, boats, and cargo. And blitzball. They were sill really big on blitzball.
"This looks like such a great place to live," he said after a little while. "Exactly your type of place. The same thing never happens twice."
"Yea, that's pretty much the appeal."
"Maybe I should move here," he joked.
"Naw… the Faction would absolutely fall apart without its fearless leader guiding the way."
"They're doing pretty good these days… you know, now that they've stopped trying to make indestructible machina experiments and then depending on a bunch of girls to bring it down." He sighed. "I really think they'd be okay without me. That's how I can come here to see you. They don't need me to hold their hands anymore."
"Well that's a good thing, isn't it? It means you've done your job right."
"Yea… but I still can't help but feel a little useless now. Maybe I should just pack up and do what you did."
"I don't think so—you'd look silly as a waitress." We both laughed at that. "On a more serious note, I think you should do whatever makes you happy. If you wanna stay with the Machine Faction, then stay with them. You've always loved working with machina, even when we were kids. It's something you love to do. You'll always be needed there for something, I can guarantee that. But if you really want to flit around Spira doing everything under the sun until you find something you like to do—that's fine too. For some people, that's what it takes."
"You know something," he said slowly. "For a ditzy blonde, you say some pretty poignant stuff."
"And for a guy that spends all of his time covered in machina grease, I'm surprised you know a word like 'poignant.'"
"You just can't resist the chance to make me look like an idiot, can you?"
"It's hard to resist. I'm only human, you know."
"Yea, but you're the Queen of Puppyfeet. That makes you a little bit more than just a normal human, now, doesn't it?"
Queen of Puppyfeet… I shook my head. I still couldn't believe he remembered that after all these years, particularly as he usually forgot really simple things—like passwords. But in a way, it was kinda cute.
Maybe he was right, and Puppyfeet really was my lucky suit.
"What's up, Cids' girl?" He asked. "Your face is all contorted in deep thought. It looks painful."
"Could you do something for me?" I asked suddenly.
"Call me by my name. Just once," I said softly.
He didn't say a word. He looked really frightened, like a rabbit in headlights. His eye was opened really wide.
"Or tell me why you won't call me by my name. Why you're always calling me 'Cids' girl.'"
"It's just a reminder," he said.
"A reminder? Reminder of what?" I asked, sort of shocked.
"It reminds me that you're Cids' daughter. If I call you 'Rikku,' then it makes me feel like maybe there's still a chance."
"Pops said something to you, didn't he?" I growled. Pops was so insanely overprotective of me that it felt sometimes like he was trying to smother me. He never did approve of me dating anybody, let alone Gippal.
"Yea, kind of. Well… he yelled at me. And used a lot of four-letter words and threatened to have me hunted down if I did anything to you. But that was a while ago… I guess you're fair game now that you're eighteen and you don't even live with him anymore."
"You make me sound like an animal when you say that." I pretended to sulk. He gave me a crooked, half-bitter smile. At least I understood now why he gave me the cold shoulder for a while… and all this time I thought he thought I was annoying… or something.
He was right about another thing, too—Pops was thousands of miles away, in the Bikanel Desert. Or maybe he was in Zanarkand, trying to make something out of it again. I wasn't tied to him anymore, by any means. Legally, by the laws of Spira, I was my own person now that I was eighteen. By the tradition of the Al Bhed, I was an adult when I was sixteen. Either way, I was all growed up, now.
When he looked my way, I kissed him. Just because. Felt kinda nice after being single for so long and watching Yuna and Paine hook up with long lost loves.
"Any reason for that?" He asked. He was pretty calm, considering.
"Just 'cuz. There's nobody around anymore to tell us to stop or to yell at us or to turn the hose on us."
He started to laugh. For a second, I thought he was going to fall over. Then I got offended… why was he laughing at me?
I got my answer soon enough. He could tell I was angry so he searched his pockets and pulled out a piece of thin cardboard, folded up. It was old, and it had probably been in his pocket for a long time because the corners were bent. From the back of it, I could tell it was a playing card, and then I opened it up.
"Why do you carry this thing around with you?" I asked, waving the Queen of Clubs in front of his face.
"Because never in your life have you sat still for a picture. It's the next best thing." He snatched it from me and put it back in his pocket. "I think you were right about it—it's a good luck charm."
"Maybe it's not the card," I said. "Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm the real Queen of Puppyfeet, and I'm good luck." I was just being silly, of course.
"Maybe you are."
There was a streak of light across the sky—a shooting star. How appropriate.
"You made a wish, right?"
I shook my head. "I don't wish on stars. I like to do things by myself."
He stood behind me and put his arms around me. That was nice, and I sighed. It really had been a long time since someone held me like that.
Who knows… maybe the Queen of Puppyfeet really is good luck. Maybe I'm good luck. Maybe. Who knows? Definitely not me.
But that's okay. I don't mind. After all, I am the Queen—and that makes me just a little bit more than just plain human.
Hehe… that was fun. I've never written for Rikku before. What did you guys think? Yes, no, maybe? Let me know—I always appreciate feedback.
Until next time, kiddies!