A/N: I know, I am just as shocked.
Thank you so, so much to everyone who took their time to review. But since it's been a (LONG) while since I've updated this story, this chapter is most likely out of tone/style. It's actually quite an awful chapter in terms of quality writing. But I've been stuck on this for so long that I'm tired of looking at it. I hope it doesn't disappoint you too much – believe me, that's my biggest worry and is the main reason why I haven't updated this.
Three Stupid Words
Chapter 7: Morning After: Gippal
I am indestructible.
"We're gonna DIE!" screeches Ugly Girl Number 1.
I continue to press hard on the accelerator, my eyes fixed on the empty desert landscape before us. The wind blasts in my face, and I can almost feel the pressure of my skin being stretched against my bones. But I can't slow down. I won't slow down. Until I find that immature little brat, I will push this hover to its maximum limit, even if it kills Ugly Girl.
But the desert landscape remains bland and devoid of life before me the farther we go. All sand and wavy humid air, but I know she's out here somewhere. The longer we go and the more I try to scan the horizon for the slightest little bump of blond hair, a tight feeling increasingly twists in my chest. And I don't like it.
Maybe – maybe I shouldn't have said that I was drunk, and that last night meant absolutely nothing to me. But I thought I was doing the right thing; I was being honest. And women are always complaining about the lack of honestly in men, right? There you have it. Honesty. And what's my reward? Nearly gettin' shot in the ass with my own pistol by my fuming ex. Hah. See if I ever try that method again.
"Please, slow down, Sir!"
And then I see her. Just like that. Over a few dunes and her head bobbing up and down like a toy boat in the water as she races toward the excavation site. Not wanting to lose her again, I stomp on the accelerator with all my strength, my eyes fixed on her faint frame.
She's right there, so far and so close and I'm unblinking as we zip through the desert sand. I have to reach her, and make sure we settle our dispute before tonight's dinner with her father. And it's not like I want to impress him or anything (because I am an impressive guy). It's just 'cause Cid's little girl has a big mouth for such a small head and if she decides to blurt out what happened last night between us, tomorrow's headline will break news all over Spira with Shelinda sorrowfully reporting, "And our top story for today, admirable Machine Faction leader, Gippal, has been found stabbed to death and left to rot in the hot, desert sand with suspicious dinner knives and fork wounds on his body that have yet to be examined."
"SIR! LOOK OUT!"
And I finally decide to tear my eyes away from Rikku for just one second – just one second in time to see a large, stone structure directly in front of us. Crap.
A tingle washes over my body, creeping up my face and making my eyelids feel lighter again as my brain begins to regain consciousness of my surroundings. The warmth of a woman's slender fingers sliding along my neck and cheek confuses me, and I can't really remember what happened and – Geez not again.
But to my relief, I see (a fully clothed) Kirya instead, the pretty girl of our crew, staring down at me with a concerned look, her hands caressing the side of my face tenderly. Beside her, Ugly Girl Number 2 puts down an empty bottle of potion before turning to me as well. "Are you okay, Sir?"
I nod slowly, making a motion to sit up but a wave of nausea sweeps over me and I fall back down into Kirya's lap. "What the hell happened?" I mumble.
"Told you so," grumbles Ugly Girl Number 1 from behind. "I told you to slow down."
I glare at her as my mind starts to recalls the big rocky structure I'd run into. But I'm suddenly puzzled to see no scratch marks or bruises on her skin. Or Kirya's skin. Or Ugly Girl Number 2's skin. "You used up all the potions?" I ask.
"No, we didn't need it. We jumped off the hover in time," Kirya explains, giving Ugly Girl Number 1 an uneasy look. "We tried to warn you-"
I turn away, pressing my hands into the sand and slowly push myself up. The girls move away to make room for me, each one of them nervously silent. "Where's the hover?" I ask after a while.
"The guys have been repairing it. It should be fixed soon. Luckily you crashed at a fairly safe angle," says Ugly Girl Number 2.
I'm quiet for a while as Kirya frowns, pulling back her hands and folding them in her lap anxiously. I feel oddly nervous under her stare. I then mentally decide that I don't wanna sleep with her anymore; every time I think about it, Rikku's icy glare and bitter tone sends a shiver down my spine and I'm suddenly on the alert for aimed pistols. But Kirya still stares at me, her arms and legs unmoving, and her mouth fixed in a concerned pout. I begin to get a bit irritated. "What?"
She bites her lip, sinking her head forward as her shoulders start to tremble. Suddenly, she flings her arms around me, burying her head in my chest and crying out, "Oh, poor you – you wonderfully romantic man!"
"Romantic?" I raise my eyebrow at her, trying to pry her off me gently, and confused at why she would say such a thing especially after I'd nearly gotten everyone killed. "What are you talkin' about?"
She sniffs in loudly, gripping onto my shirt desperately and violently shaking her head in protest. "You must fight it, Sir! You must! Oh! You're so brave, so brave!"
"What the-?" I turn to Ugly Girl Number 2 for some form of common sense but she's watching Kirya in agreement. Annoyed, I look down at Kirya myself and repeat, "What are you talkin' about?"
She sniffs in a final sob, staring at me with a hopeless expression as her hands cover her mouth slightly before falling back down on my shoulders. She then pats my chest gently. "It's okay, Sir." She pauses before sighing, "We know."
There are so many things wrong with that statement – a statement that no previously drunk man who just lost his girlfriend, slept with his ex, and has a date with his ex's father, should hear. I grimace inwardly. "Know… what?"
She bites the bottom of her lip furiously, ready to burst into another sob if she has to open her mouth to answer.
"If you ask me, Sir, I think it's her loss," jumps in Ugly Girl Number 2, giving me an encouraging look. She gestures to the rest of the crew who've stopped their task of fixing the hover to watch us. "We all think so."
"Her loss? Who? Cid's Girl?"
Kirya embraces me again, shaking her head. "Oh, Sir. You don't have to be so brave. Let it out. C'mon. We're here for you," she whispers.
Ugly Girl Number 1 hisses, "Kirya! Stop upsetting him!"
Kirya glares back at her, grinding her teeth. "I'm not! I'm providing emotional support!"
"Whoaah there." I push away from her grasp, smoothing down my shirt and loosening my shoulders. "I don't need any support for anything, alright? I'm fine."
Kirya shakes her head at me sadly, pressing a hand to her chest with a gasp of admiration. "So brave, so brave…" she continuously whispers.
I hesitate. And then, "Would y'all just get back to fixing the damn hover and let's go?" I shout.
Ugly Girl Number 2 frowns, inching toward me with open arms. "Oh Sir…"
I duck from her grasp, rolling to the side in the sand before standing up. "I mean it! Get back to work!"
Kirya lowers her head disappointedly, waving her index finger at me as she stands up as well. "You know, you're going to have to confront your emotions sooner or later, Sir," she says in a stern voice.
I can't look at any of them anymore. Gripping my head, I turn away and try to resist the urge of pulling out my gun and finishing the job of shooting myself. My hands ball into hard fists, and I take an aimless swing into the air. I feel angry, and stupid, and angry some more that I can't recall a single thing about last night. And yet the whole world seemingly does.
A comforting hand suddenly sets on my shoulder. I turn around to see Kirya staring at me with wide, teary eyes that seem too much like an animated cartoon character to be real. "We only want you to be happy, Sir," she whispers gently.
I scoff. "Yeah, well I'm not."
She nods understandingly, slowly pushing me down to sit back in the warm sand with her. Curling her legs toward her body, she leans her petit head on my shoulder, patting my knee sympathetically. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"No," I answer bitterly.
Ugly Girl Number 2 skids towards us and lands in front of me with a thump, uprooting a pile of sand into the air. "You don't have to be so defensive of your feelings with us, Sir. We can help!"
"I don't-" I stop. I think.
And then I realize.
I glance at them both before abruptly turning away with a painful expression. "Actually…" I close my eyes, sorrowfully biting my lip as if reminiscing an upsetting memory. "Maybe you can."
"Oh, of course we can, Sir. What would you like to share with us?"
"You see…" I shake my head, closing my eyes with a helpless groan. "I was so brave…"
"And so romantic…"
I lift my head up, staring at them both with a disguised gaze. My voice comes out weak and they believe me. "I mean, what did I do wrong? What did I do?"
Kirya sighs. "You didn't do anything wrong, Sir. Syrisina shouldn't have embarrassed you like that in the first place."
"Actually, I think Lady Rikku embarrassed him a lot more," chimes in the little guy, Paeul, who has left work on the hover and is taking a seat next to Kirya.
My mouth is a bit hung open as I try to process what they've just said. "Embarrassed? Me?" They give me a confused look at the questioning tone in my voice. "I mean… It wasn't that embarrassing…"
Another male crew, a bit chubby and short, joins us, snorting, "Yeah, right…"
Ugly Girl Number 2 slaps his shoulder angrily. "Can't you be a bit more sympathetic?"
Chubby Cheeks shrugs his shoulders innocently, "But she did embarrass him! In front of complete strangers, in front of his friends, in front of Syri-" He cuts himself off and stares at me with wide eyes, as if I'd tear his mouth from his face any second now.
I narrow my eye and am about to calmly tell him to continue when Kirya wraps her arms around me and rubs my shoulders relaxingly. "Maybe this isn't such a good idea," she says. "It's just making you more upset, isn't it?"
"I'm fine," I spit out. I glare at Chubby Cheeks. "Go on, talk."
He's frozen still, swallowing nervously as a bit of sweat trails down his forehead.
"Hey, it's fixed!" calls Zek by the hover.
Chubby Cheeks scrambles toward him as the others follow shortly, leaving me and Kirya behind. She pulls me up to stand with her, and squeezes my hand gently. "It'll be alright, Sir," she whispers, hugging me momentarily as my mind begins to wonder how the hell I could've been publicly humiliated by Rikku, and yet ended up in bed with her the same night.
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