AN: This is my first ever Final Fantasy fic, so please be gently. It's AU, set at the end of FFX-2 and festivities in Luca - namely a ball following a Blitzball match. I just came up with the idea when I was checking out some updates. I just love the pairing of Rikku and Gippal. At the moment it's just a One Shot...anyway, enjoy!

Disclaimer: Obviously I own nothing - and especially not Final Fantasy

: Once in a Blue Moon :

"Rikku?"

The sprightly blonde jumped when she heard her name in soft tones from behind the curtain. She turned where she stood on the wide balcony of the group's temporary home and smiled when she saw her cousin.

"Yunie," She greeted.

Yuna watched her cousin with interest. She had been watching the sky, silent and still, bathed in the light from the moon. She seemed to embody, in those quiet moments, everything that Rikku wasn't.

"Are you okay?" Yuna asked, her quiet voice seeming to boom between them.

Rikku had turned back to her contemplation and was leaning on the railing of the balcony.

"It's a blue moon…it's the second this month…do you know how often that happens?" She asked.

Yuna shook her head.

"How often Rikku?"

The other girl sighed and rubbed her arms.

"Four or five times every hundred years…which means this is probably the first time we've ever seen it happen"

"Wow," This didn't sound like Rikku. "…Are you sure you're okay Rikku?"

"Uh huh, I'm fine Yunie," She said brightly, throwing a smile over her bare shoulder as if to prove it.

"Okay," Yuna said slowly, she could hear her name being called in the background and knew it would be Tidus.

"We should get back…the party…"

Rikku nodded.

"I'll be down in a moment,"

"Okay…I'll save you a glass of champagne"

Rikku laughed and waved her cousin off.

"Go, go…or else Tidus will be up here looking for you,"

They were in Luca for the Blitzball tournament that had been organised to celebrate, to celebrate many things, and the Auroch's had won. Yuna stood at the landing, her fingers trailing lightly along the marble railing that led down to the ball room where the old group were partying at the gala event to finish the ceremonies. She smiled lightly, she could see Lulu and Wakka, their baby safely asleep in a cradle near-by them. Somehow they had all convinced Paine into a ball gown…of sorts. She had scowled for the first hour or so but now she was smiling – albeit weakly – as Baralai attempted to lead her in a sweeping dance. Yuna's smile grew; Paine looked magnificent in her off the shoulder, black satin ball gown.

"Lady Yuna! There you are,"

She looked down to see Tidus as the base of the stairs. He looked adorable in the suit she'd helped him choose and the blue shirt that matched his eyes. She smoothed down the straight skirt of her own pale-blue dress and started down the stairs. She tried to be graceful, to take her time and look like a princess but she couldn't wait, when she got to the fourth step from the top she threw herself into his arms and, like always, he caught her. She burst into laughter and he laughed with her, swinging her around before they came to a stop.

"So how are you enjoying your happy ending?" A familiar deep voice asked behind them and Yuna turned to see who it was. Her eyes widened in surprised and she clapped her hands in joy.

"Auron? What are you doing here?"

He chuckled.

"I had to come and pay my respects to the girls who save Spira…again"

Rikku shivered in the cool night air but she couldn't go back down there, it was too bright, too warm…too happy. There was somebody missing and it was as though nobody realised it. Why? Why did he have to be so damn selfish? Why did he have to disappear like he had afterwards? He didn't even say goodbye, no note, nothing. He'd just left early one morning. Her throat hurt from the sob she'd been holding in all night and she blinked furiously. The most important question of all burned in her mind, unasked…why had she had to go and fall in love with him?

"Where is Rikku?" Paine asked Yuna who shrugged.

"She's upstairs, on the balcony…I don't think she's in the mood for all this,"

"What's wrong with her?"

"I don't know…she seems so flat lately,"

Paine nodded and smiled vaguely as she watched Baralai. This didn't go unnoticed by Yuna who nudged her.

"He looks very handsome in his suit," Yuna said quietly and Paine nodded before the reality of what Yuna had said hit her.

"What are you saying Yuna?"

Yuna smiled coyly as Tidus wrapped his arms around her and murmured 'Wanna dance' in her ear. As she let him lead her off she called over her shoulder to Paine.

"Oh…nothing Paine!" And winked.

Auron watched the girl from behind the sheer curtain; she seemed to feel his eyes on her.

"Yunie I told you I'd…" She began, turning. She gasped when she recognised him.

"Auron!" She squealed and he smiled.

"Now Rikku…what are you doing all alone up here?"

He looked just the same, and she blushed when she remembered the tiny crush he'd had on him a few years before.

"Just watching,"

"It's a blue moon," He observed.

"Yes," She said, "…it's fitting somehow, isn't it?"

He now stood beside her, watching her out of the corner of his eye. She had grown up in the past two years, there was something about her tonight, a calm she'd never really had before. She met his eyes meekly.

"Are you coming down to the party?"

She shook her head.

"In a little while,"

"Do you want company?"

She didn't say anything, she didn't have to. He had always known about the teenage crush she'd had on him, but now he had been replaced and that was right. Tenderly he kissed her temple.

"You should come down later…I want to dance with you at some point tonight Princess,"

She smiled gratefully and took his hands.

"It really is wonderful to see you Auron…and thank you"

She had lost count of the minutes, perhaps hours that she had stood on that balcony. She sighed and forced a smile, smoothing down the skirt of her gown. She had been so excited about this ball…but that had been before. She had had the dress made to her specifications and there was no denying its beauty. It was yellow of course - a ball was no reason for a girl to abandon her signature colour – with a tight, beaded satin bodice and a full, tulle skirt which fell to the floor, the top layer beaded as well. She touched one of her beaded braids; her hair had been left down, and decided to take Yuna up on that offer of champagne. She wouldn't be the first person to attempt to drown her sorrows.

Yuna and Paine watched Rikku materialise on the landing.

"Wow…that dress is…wow"

"It's beautiful isn't it?" Yuna asked.

"Well…it's not my taste," Paine said, but Yuna could see the small smile playing on her friend's lips. It seemed that half of Luca had noticed Rikku on the stairs…at least, the male half.

"She certainly knows how to make an entrance," Baralai said dryly and Yuna smiled.

Rikku barely registered the countless eyes on her as she descended the stairs.

"Princess Rikku…you look stunning, I hope you'll allow me a dance this evening?" A gentleman she recognised but didn't know asked as he passed her on the stairs. She smiled and nodded, not giving anything away. But as he passed, there was another. They were young, handsome, probably Blitzball players, but there was only one person she wanted to dance with…and even then she wasn't sure that she really did. She'd rather tread on his foot and make him hurt like she had been.

She met Yuna and Paine and took a glass of champagne from a passing waitress gratefully.

"Are you having a good time?" She asked the girls, trying to inject enthusiasm into her voice.

Yuna nodded excitedly.

"It's wonderful isn't it? The ballroom is so beautiful and the band is wonderful…everyone's here, Lulu and Wakka have just gone to put the baby to bed in their suite. Tidus is off somewhere arguing about his prowess as a Blitzer. Baralai and Paine had a turn around the dance floor. And even Nooj and LeBlanc are about somewhere…actually, come to think of it, the disappeared together quite a while ago…" She trailed off and mused into her champagne glass.

"We didn't…I mean, Baralai and I…we're not…" Paine stuttered and Yuna laughed but Rikku barely heard them. Not everyone was there, why couldn't they see that?

Rikku smiled as Baralai led her around the dance floor in an energetic Polka and burst out laughing as they turned. He smiled bashfully at her.

"So…you and Paine?" She asked teasingly and he stared at her in shock.

"What do you mean?" He asked in surprise and Rikku rolled h eyes.

"Oh come on Baralai…she does look good tonight…perhaps you should be dancing with her if you know what I mean,"

"Ah…but Paine is not the one who needs cheering up," He said wisely and it was Rikku's turn to be surprised. "…Not everyone is here," He continued quietly as the dance ended, she stared at him in shock, "…yet" He added.

"What?" She asked quickly.

He smiled benignly at her and spun her so that her back was to him, and she saw what he saw.

He ran a shaking hand through his hair and tugged uncomfortably at his suit as he made his way into the ballroom and leant against a pillar, coolly surveying the crowd. He wasn't used to a suit and it and it didn't feel right. It was a heavy, black, woolen suit worn with a bright red-short beneath it, and he longed to throw the jacked over the back of a chair somewhere and be done with it but all those thoughts seemed to disappear when he saw her. She was dancing with Baralai and he felt a surge of jealousy as he met Baralai's calm gaze. His old friend half-smiled and whispered something to Rikku and slowly spun her around, too slowly for him, he had been dreaming about that face for weeks. Slowly she looked up and he felt the full force of those green eyes, he tried to smile but he was frozen.

Rikku had to remind herself to breathe as she watched him; he leaned coolly against the pillar. Her eyes widened, he looked so handsome in his suit, she never thought she'd see him in one. Baralai squeezed her shoulders, as if to remind her that he was waiting. But she would not go to him. No, she wouldn't, not after he just left. Slowly he pushed himself off the pillar and walked towards them.

Yuna, like Paine and Tidus, was rooted to the spot watching the goings on in the middle of the dance floor. It was as though the entire crowd knew something was happening, drawing back to give them room.

"Oh my Yevon," She said, realisation dawning as she watched them. Paine too, was beginning to realise the source of their usually peppy friend's melancholy.

Finally he stood before her and she tried to beat back the feeling that if Baralai wasn't standing directly behind her, she could crumple to the floor and stay there for days.

"Rikku…how ya been?" He asked, his voice as cocky as ever and she finally looked up at him. He recoiled when he saw the hurt in her eyes; he'd never seen anything like that in her. She looked like a wounded animal…but something started to overcome that as her pretty features changed and her sad eyes hardened in anger.

Yuna gasped as the slap rang out in the moment of silence as the band finished their song.

"Whoa," Tidus whispered in shock and Paine just simply nodded. Nearby Auron watched with interest, so this was the one.

He cupped his cheek where she'd slapped him, his features showing his surprise. Baralai dropped his hands from Rikku's shoulders.

"Rikku…" He began.

"How ya been? How ya been Gippal? How do you think? I thought we were friends!" She said in an icy voice.

"Princess…"

"No, don't call me that!" She snapped. "My name is Rikku, R – I – K – K – U! You cannot just disappear in the middle of the night like some…some coward an then expect everything to be fine because you come back for one ball! It's moment's like these when you're so damn selfish that I really hate you!" She finished calmly, gathering her skirts and stalking off the dance floor.

"Rikku," Yuna called, following her cousin and shooting Gippal and dirty look over her shoulder.

Yuna found her cousin outside in the garden, sitting calmly on a stone bench.

"Why didn't you tell me?" She asked Rikku quietly, "…why didn't you tell me you were in love with him?"

Rikku laughed sardonically.

"I thought it was obvious…I thought the whole world could tell, when I was either so silly and giggly around him, or pretending I hated him to hide it"

"I'm sorry I didn't see it,"

Rikku shook her head, as if to tell Yuna it was okay.
"How long?" Yuna asked, standing behind her cousin and gently stroking her hair.

"I don't remember, it wasn't any one moment"

Yuna sighed,

"You always have to choose the impossible ones don't you?" Rikku laughed but choked on a sob and Yuna leaned down, resting her chin on Rikku's shoulder and wrapping her arms around her.

"Don't look to me for sympathy…you can really be an ass," Paine told him after he had materialised by her side with Baralai, looking sorry for himself.

"I had to leave," He tried to explain.

Paine rolled her eyes and grabbed another drink off the tray.

"Whatever…don't tell me"

"But she won't listen," He persisted.

"So make her listen!" Paine snapped.

He stared at her and then turned to the crowd, he needed a drink and he spied Tidus by the bar.

As he walked off Baralai leaned in to her.

"Now aren't you glad we don't have these kind of dramatics?" He whispered and she smiled again as she felt him slip his hand around her surreptitiously.

"If you ask me," Tidus began,

"Which I haven't"

Tidus ignored him,

"…Hey, with Rikku looking like that tonight, I don't know why you didn't chase right out after her," He rolled his eyes at the Blitzer.

"Well don't you like her?" Tidus persisted as they ordered another round of drinks. He sighed heavily.

"Of course I do,"

"Well I think you're an idiot,"

"Are you okay?" Yuna whispered.

Rikku nodded, sniffing and blinking her eyes quickly.

"Uh huh, he just makes me so mad,"

"Of course he does,"

"But Tidus doesn't make you mad,"

"We've had our share of problems"

"Yunie you're boyfriend fading away because he was a dream doesn't count as a problem,"

"Well…he always promised me he'd be there and when it turned out he couldn't be I was mad for a while"

"Really?" Rikku asked,

"Well…a little…sort of," Yuna smiled sheepishly and Rikku groaned and hung h head in her hands, "Talk to him Rikku, things will work out. After all, he did come back," Yuna stroked Rikku's hair once more and went back inside to give a certain someone a push outside.

"You!" She said, cornering him at the bar with Tidus. "Get out there and get down on your hands and knees and apologise! You hurt her! And no one hurts Rikku!"

He raised his hands in self-defense,

"Whoa, Lady Yuna, it's nice to see you again too,"

She smiled in spite of herself but quickly turned it into a half-hearted frown.

"Go!" She said forcefully.

The gardens of the venue were beautiful, all tangled and overgrown but somehow unspeakably perfect. Tiny lights seemed to be hidden all around and Rikku had found a small creek that flowed throughout. A small stone bridge led over it and she stepped onto it gingerly, peering over the edge. Metallic fishes that seemed to light up the murky depths flicked backwards and forwards. She smiled in wonder but frowned when she felt eyes on her. She looked up at him, framed underneath the tree with the bright blue foliage.

"Rikku…"

"My name is…" She began but stopped dead. "You just called me Rikku"

He smiled at her slowly, uncertainly.

"Why?" She asked.

"Because it's your name…because it's a beautiful name" He whispered the second part and she felt her cheeks grow warm.

"I'm sorry I slapped you," She whispered.

"So all it takes to get an apology from you is a compliment?" He asked slyly and she frowned.

"Actually I'm not sorry," She said firmly and he laughed.

"Come on Rikku, I'm just joking" He said teasingly, stepping closer to him.

"Yeah? Well maybe I'm sick of jokes Gippal, maybe I'm tired of being a joke to you," She said plaintively as she took a step back. He looked at her in shock.

"Why the hell would you think that you're a joke to me Princess?"

She bit her lip and looked up at the sky, the blue moon.

"You've never taken me seriously, I've always just been the silly girl, the giggly girl, the one to joke about and tease,"

"Rikku," He began, sounding shocked, "You're one of the things I take most seriously,"

"So why did you leave?" She asked, turning on him. He looked wounded for a moment by the pain in her big sea-green orbs.

"I needed time, I needed to think. I needed to be sure,"

"Sure of what?" She snapped.

He took another step closer to her and she stepped back, off the bridge now.

"Sure of how I felt" He answered her truthfully as he stepped towards her yet again, his eyes darkening as he watched her closely.

"About what?" She asked, her voice barely above a whisper, barely daring to hope.

"About everything," He said with a shrug and her stomach dropped.

"Oh…and what did you decide?" She asked coolly.

He stepped toward her again, but this time she didn't move away. He towered over, meeting her defiant eyes. She wouldn't back down to him! He licked his lips and she felt h knees go weak again and couldn't look away from his face.

"That you're everything," He whispered huskily and she felt her eyes go wide.

"Then why did you leave me?"

He shook his head slowly.

"Because you're just a kid Rikku,"

"You're oneyear older than me Gippal!" She snapped.

"I know, but sometimes, when I look at you, I just see that little girl and I feel like…like I'd be taking advantage of her…"

"I'm not a kid Gippal"

"I know," He said pointedly, staring at her outfit. She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. "And besides, I turned 18 while you were away!"

He grinned.

"I know…I brought you something," He said quietly, reaching into his suit jacket for a plain, thin box.

Her eyes widened as she took the gift.

"You got me a gift?" She asked but she didn't wait for an answer as she quickly opened the lid. Inside was a gold tiara, designed come down in a V on her forehead; set in the point was a large blue stone.

"It's a moonstone," He told her as she ran her fingertips over it so softly.

"I thought they were golden-brown" She mused quietly.

"They are, this is rare, it's a blue moonstone"

She smiled up at him. "What?" He asked, but she shook her head.

"It's lovely," She told him as she pulled it from the box that she set on the ground beside them.

With him helping she placed it around her hair.

Slowly, so slowly - he didn't want to scare her away – his strong arms slipped around her waist. She dropped her head, watching him pull her against him and she was glad of the support, she felt like she used to when she was a little girl and she got giddy from spinning in circles for minutes at a time. Finally she looked up.
"Rikku…" He whispered, his voice cracking as though it hurt him to say her name out loud, he lowered his face to hers slowly. It was Rikku who pushed herself up onto the tiptoes of the combat boots she wore beneath the beautiful dress, and crushed her lips to his, taking him by surprise. She began to sway on her toes and pulled back down to ground. He looked slightly dazed.

"I never thought…I mean…I always thought you just saw me as…" Gippal stammered and she giggled.

"I think this is the first time you've ever been speechless" She teased.

Pulling away he placed his hands on her upper arms.

"Rikku…what do you want to happen?"

She bit her lower lip and looked up at the moon before back at him.

"The same thin I have for as long as I remember Gippal…I want you…"

He smirked and pulled her to him, molding their bodies together and leaning his head down to rest on hers.

"In that case I'm going to apologise now for everything that happens past this point," He said quietly. She pulled back, staring at him with a question in her eyes. He smiled strangely but wet on in a strangled voice. "…Because I know I'll be an idiot, I know I'll say things that will make you crazy, and I might do things that hurt you…"

Rikku raised her eyebrow, what did he mean? "…But I will never mean it. Damn it…I'm already doing it." He said with a sigh and she giggled which just made him frown.

"I guess I'm just apologising in advance for every time after this that I'm going to be an arrogant, conceited jerk, even thought I'm going to be trying so damn hard to please you," He sighed and stared past h but she reached up, grasping his chin and forcing him to look at her.

"Apology accepted, but jut so you know, I kind of like the arrogant, conceited, jerk side of you…it's kind of cute" She winked at him and he swept her up into his arms.

"What are you doing?" She squealed.

"There's a dance floor with our name on it," He replied. "…Rikku? Are you wearing your combat boots with this dress?"

The band was playing an energetic pop song when Gippal entered the ballroom with Rikku in his arms. He made his way straight to the centre of he floor and set her down. Yuna grinned as she watched the two take to the floor. It seemed any problems had been resolved when she saw Yuna wrap her arms around Gippal's neck and pull him down for a sweet kiss. Yuna turned to Auron,

"It's not just my happy ending," She told him.

"Hmm?"

"Before, when you arrived, you asked I was enjoying my happy ending. It's not just mine," She said. Auron followed her train of vision to see Paine and Baralai dancing, and the traces of lip gloss on him, to where Lulu ad Wakka were arguing good-naturedly over whether or not he needed another beer and finally to Rikku and Gippal, the latter having discarded his jacket and tie and seeming to enjoy the attentions from his Al Bhed Princess.

"Well we should all enjoy it," Auron said quietly, "They happen once in a Blue Moon" He said with a cheesy smile and Yuna rolled her eyes.

AN: Please R&R to let me know what you think! I hope it wasn't too terrible, or that nobody was too out-of-character!