"She blew up my temple!"

"Uh…" Paine looked up from her book long enough to raise an eyebrow over her friend's exclamation. "Yeah. She's Rikku. It's kind of her thing, though I'm sure it was an accident."

"This is the third time!"

"Did I stutter? She's Rikku. Completely disasteriffic."

Gippal collapsed into a chair, dropping his head onto the table. He sighed miserably, drumming his fingers on wooden tabletop.

"What am I supposed to do?"

Paine idly turned a page, not at all sympathetic to Gippal's plight. "Nothing. What could you do?"

"I don't know. Ban her from Djose?"

Paine snorted. "Like that would work. You'd just make her mad, and then she'd blow up your temple on purpose."

"I see your point." He let out another long-suffering sigh. "Come on. There's got to be something I can do. You spent a year together, you should know all about her. Gimme a hint, Paine. Come on. For old time's sake."

Paine rolled her eyes. "Look, Rikku will be Rikku. There's nothing you can do about that. But you could try distracting her from any activities you don't want her partaking in. Sort of a positive reinforcement idea."

Gippal slouched back, studying Paine suspiciously.

"You're suggesting I train Rikku," he said.

"You say 'train', I say 'distract'. That's the beauty of subjectivity." She turned her attention back to her book.

"You think it'll work?"

Paine shrugged noncommittally. "I don't see why not. It's better than letting her blow up your temple again."


"Sorry, sorry, sorry!" Rikku clasped her hands before her, eyes squeezed shut, supplication evident in every line of her body. "Really, I'm so sorry, Gippal! I promise, I'll never ever again practice my alchemy in the fayth chamber, or experiment with ice grenades, or…or…what was that last one, again?"

"Tamper with machina overdrive boosters," Yuna prompted.

Rikku winced. That one had been especially painful.

"Yeah, sorry, I forgot. How'd I do, Yunie?"

"Well…" Yuna sighed, torn between answering honestly and appeasing her younger cousin. "You'll do better when you can actually remember everything that you did in the first place. You might want to stay away from Djose for a little while, though. I hear Gippal really hit the roof."

Rikku laughed awkwardly. "Yeah, he kind of did. I mean, I can totally understand. It's not the first time that I've trashed his place. But I didn't mean to, honest, and…and…well, I can't really help being so clumsy, can I?"

"I guess not," Yuna answered. "To be honest, I am sort of surprised he hasn't kicked you out of Djose. You do tend to leave a trail of disaster in your wake, Rikku."

"Gippal? Kick me out? No way, he wouldn't," Rikku exclaimed. "Sure, he'll be a little bent out of shape for a while-"

"A little?"

Rikku sighed. "Okay, a lot bent out of shape. But I'll apologize and fix it up and maybe help out around the temple for free for a little while, and everything'll be fine again. Right?"

Yuna attempted a smile, falling far short of reassuring.

"I'm going to have to grovel, aren't I?"

"Probably," Yuna replied. "Don't worry. He'll forgive you. He always does."

"Yeah," Rikku sighed. "He does, doesn't he."

- -

Rikku wisely kept her distance for a few weeks, but Gippal knew the inevitable would occur, and she'd show up laden with gifts and apologies. And so she did, early in the morning, in the middle of the week.

He was asleep, sprawled across his bed on his stomach, only half under the covers.

"Hey, Gippal?"

"Mmm." Her voice barely penetrated his sleep-fogged mind, and he turned his face into his pillow, praying for a few extra minutes of peace and quiet. The edge of the bed depressed, and sleep retreated just a little further from his grasp. He tried to sink back down into it.

"I'm sorry I blew up your temple."

"S'alright." His voice was slurred. She knew he was still mostly asleep.

"I promise I won't do it again."

"Uhm hmm." Groggily, he realized that someone was in the room with him.

"I brought you back something from Bikanel." She scooted a little closer, fascinated with the broad, bare expanse of his back. His arms were buried under the pillows, and the sheet came only just over his rear. From what she could see, his legs were bare. Was he wearing anything under that sheet?

He turned over, only just managing to keep the sheet around his waist, blinking up at her. His one good eye widened in surprise.

"Cid's girl? What are you doing in here?" He sat up, clutching at the sheet. Unfortunately, his sudden movement forced Rikku off the bed, and she landed hard on the cement floor.

"Ow. You could maybe warn a girl before you throw her off the bed." She rubbed her bruised backside.

"You could maybe warn a guy before you sneak into his bedroom," he countered. "I don't wear pajamas, kid."

Her lips formed a little 'o' of surprise. "Oh. Well, uh, I just wanted to apologize for blowing up your temple," she said. "You know, I thought we could have a nice, rational conversation, and here you go picking on me again."

"I'm getting up in three seconds, kid, and I'm not taking the sheet with me," he warned. "You can wait in my office like everyone else."

He was always looking for new ways to embarrass her, and she was getting pretty darned sick of it.

"What if I want to see?" She suggested wickedly.


"Oh, come on, Gippal, don't be such a meanie." She pursed her lips into that little pout that he found so amusing.

"Two." He fought off a grin, struggling to keep his features arranged in that no-nonsense, forbidding expression he knew she hated.

Rikku lost her nerve and dove for the door. Even as it closed behind her, she wondered if he really would have followed through on his threat. Funny, she could face Sin and fight, but she just couldn't quite take Gippal in stride.