So I had this AU story called "Your family needs you". It was my first FFX-2 fanfic, and you can certainly tell it was my first because it well...kinda sucked. I've decided to give it a total overhaul in hopes that it'll be better the second time around and so far this is what I've got. There will be OOC-ness, just so you know. As usual, I own nothing save for my original characters. I hope you enjoy this!
"They said she was going to be in room 112" Yuna said casually to Paine while looking at the number tags screwed into the wall by each door of the maternity wing as they walked down the corridor. Both had come to visit with Rikku who had given birth to hers and Gippal's first child early that morning. Yuna held in her hands a stuffed teddy bear and Paine brought half a dozen congratulatory balloons, each a different color with various sayings on them.
They also carried along the promise that they wouldn't talk about Gippal not being there while in front of the new mother. Having the baby without him was hard enough; they didn't want to make things any worse for her, at least until she was ready to talk about it.
"Remember what we said outside Paine" Yuna reiterated to the warrior as they stood in front of the door to Rikku's room, pointing at her with the teddy bear's hand in place of her finger. "No mention of Gippal, got it?"
Paine rolled her eyes, annoyed that Yuna would even think she would do such a thing. "Who do you think you're talking to Yuna? Rikku? " Yuna nodded and giggled, realizing the words she said and to whom.
"I'm sorry" she laughed, adjusting her grip on the stuffed animal she was holding. "Of course I don't think that way about you or my cousin." She glanced through the small square window on the door and saw Rikku lying on her side in her bed facing the window, overlooking the scenery. The clouds were big and puffy in Djose that afternoon, and the sun beamed rainbow prisms through the pained glass and on to a potted plant sitting on the window sill, possibly a gift from another visitor earlier. "Oh, just look at her." Yuna whispered sadly, trying not to make them selves known just yet. "She looks so down, and where's the baby?" Not wanting to be hovering in the hall any longer the two looked at each other, gulped and opened the door.
Rikku was staring out into the fields outside, not really focused on anything in particular when she heard the door to her room click open. In the back of her mind she was hoping to see him standing there with a smile to die for on his face, but she knew deep down it was anyone but. Sighing heavily she turned her gaze back to the window ignoring the girls at first, but only to get her bearings. It was the first time since the baby was born that she was seeing them, and she wanted to be more than just a 'sad sack'; a nickname she had given to herself to describe the way she'd been feeling since her husband disappeared the month before.
Putting on a fake, but hopefully somewhat believable smile, Rikku sat upright in her bed and greeted her visitors. "Hiya guys!" she said in a voice that was a mixture of tired and happy as she smoothed out the blankets on her lap with her hands. "It's good to see you both. How are ya doing?" Yuna kissed Rikku first, followed by Paine, and they each took a spot on a side of her bed; Paine on the left, Yuna to the right.
"Forget about us Rikku" Yuna scoffed, placing her free hand onto the bed railing. "We want to know how you are! Oh and look!" She exclaimed, holding up the pink teddy bear. "See what I brought for the baby? Isn't it cute? I saw it at the stationary store in Luca on our way here. By the way, where is the little one anyway? Her name is…" Yuna put a finger to her mouth as she thought. "Lelah, right?" For some reason, seeing the stuffed animal and being asked about the baby suddenly made Rikku upset, and she tried her best to hide it.
"Yeah." Rikku replied. "She's named after Gi…" She stopped, not wanting to say Gippal's name and held up the pink bear to change the subject. "his mother. This is so adorable Yunie, thanks so much." Rikku hoped she didn't sound unappreciative as she struggled to fight the tears that welled in her eyes. She quickly looked away, but no matter what side Rikku turned either Paine or Yuna was facing her. "I promised myself I wouldn't do this anymore." Embarrassed, Rikku tried in vain to knuckle away the streams that began soaking her cheeks but the tears would not stop. "She's still in the nursery." She paused a moment, blowing her nose. "You know what the sad part is?" The two listened intently through her soft sobs. "I don't even want to look at her. She looks too much like…Gippal. I've only been a mother for six hours and already I suck." Rikku finally buried her face into the teddy bear and cried while the two did their best to comfort their friend and cousin.
"They'll find him, Rikku." Paine said hopefully, stroking Rikku's hair with her hand. It was the worst feeling in the world for Paine to see someone that was usually so overly happy all the time virtually inconsolable. She didn't want to fill Rikku's mind with hopeless thoughts, but there wasn't anything else she could say to make her friend feel any better. "Nooj has the best scouts out there combing the deserts with Nhadala every day. Something will come up soon." Nooj put together a special team not only for his and his wife's former comrade, but because Gippal was also their four year old son Juin's guardian in the event something would happen to them.
"And Baralai has guards searching around the clock as well." Yuna added, speaking about her own husband of three years. It took about three of the six years since Vegnagun's defeat to convince Yuna that Tidus was not coming back, and even though he had some trouble initially, Baralai finally won her over, marrying her in one of the most talked about weddings had on the shores of Besaid. When Yuna found out Rikku was pregnant she could not have been more thrilled. She and Baralai also had a two year old son of their own named Adlain.
Rikku composed herself, drying her eyes with the last of the tissues in the box. "I guess that means there isn't any new news, huh?" The girls shook their heads, but Rikku smiled. "I know they're doing all they can. I really appreciate it."
"Well they miss Gippal as much as we do." Yuna grabbed a comb off of the tray table and began to brush Rikku's long blonde hair gently. "Baralai tries to hide how he's feeling from me, but he doesn't know I can hear him praying for Gippal when he thinks I'm asleep." She separated Rikku's hair into two parts and put them over each shoulder. "There you go! no knots!" She announced, smiling her best for her cousin. Suddenly the door to the room opened and in walked Nooj, Baralai, their boys in tow and a nurse cradling a pink bundle.
"Look who I ran into, Mrs. Arakaki!" The nurse chimed, bringing her baby over to her. "These gentlemen" She motioned to Baralai and Nooj "Were admiring little Lelah in the nursery and said they were on their way up here so I thought I'd bring her up for you!" The woman handed Lelah to Rikku, but she was reluctant to hold her daughter, telling the nurse to let Yuna hold her instead.
"Why don't you take her first, Yuna?" She suggested, swiftly putting the infant into her cousin's arms. Lelah fussed a little during the exchange, but it wasn't anything a silly face from Yuna couldn't fix. Rikku was relieved her baby didn't get upset being in someone else's arms since she wasn't ready to hold her just yet.
Adlain ran over to his mother, grabbing at the bottom of her skirt in hopes to get a better look at the person she was holding. Yuna walked over to the recliner in the corner of the room to sit so her son could see. "You wanna say hi to Lelah, 'Lain?" She addressed him by his nickname, tousling his short auburn hair with her fingers. He nodded, blinking his brown and blue eyes innocently and Yuna sat him on her lap next to the baby. "Go ahead. Say hello to your new little cousin."
"Hi baby!" Adlain greeted in a high pitched voice, kissing her on the head and then putting two of his fingers into his mouth; his trigger for shyness. Yuna in turn kissed the top of his head and smiled at Baralai from across the room. Juin went over to his own mother and Paine scooped him up in her arms, resting him on her shoulder.
"Hey there, Juin!" Rikku squealed, reaching for his hand. "How's my big boy doing? High five!" She rose up her palm and Juin slapped it quickly before giggling into Paine's neck. "It's so nice of you to come see your Aunt Rikku! Have you been good?" Juin's face remained buried, a little shy himself but he had a sharp red eye focused on Rikku.
"Well Juin," Nooj asked, coming up behind his wife and son. "Have you been good?" With his metal finger he nudged the boy's chin out from the safe haven of Paine's neck and grinned. "I guess you haven't been good, have you then?"
"No daddy I have!" Juin spoke at last, making everyone in the room laugh. "I really have!"
Rikku enjoyed having everyone there; it was comforting and a pleasant distraction from her thoughts that seemed heavily focused on the one person that was not there to celebrate this moment with her. She could remember the day Gippal found out he had to leave on that dig like it had happened only yesterday.
-One month prior-
"Oh my goodness Gippal it kicked!" a very pregnant Rikku exclaimed with a hand to her eight and a half month stomach. Her husband was washing some dishes in the sink; one of the chores he'd decided to take over to give her a break while she was expecting. "Put those cups down and come over here to feel!"
Setting a newly cleaned glass down onto the counter, Gippal walked over to the table where she was sitting and knelt down beside her. He settled his hand on her belly, grinning when he felt a movement from within. "It's gonna be a fighter with a kick like that!" He declared proudly, leaning into Rikku for a kiss. "We're gonna have a toughie on our hands; an Arakaki to be proud of!"
Rikku put her hand on top of Gippal's and raised a questionable brow. "First of all, we're gonna be proud of it whatever itturns out to be, and who says it's gonna be a boy anyway? What if it's a girl?" She watched as he thought for a moment, a hand rose to his chin in contemplation.
"Well, if she turns out to be a girl, I just hope she's not gonna be as whiny as you!" Gippal went back over to the sink and Rikku laughed, grabbing the dish towel he left on the table, crumpling it up and throwing it at his head. He leant down to pick it up and when he rose his demeanor turned serious. "She'll be beautiful like you…" Gippal looked away, his face still solemn. Rikku worried about his sudden change in character and stood up beside him.
"What is it, Gippal? What's wrong?" With her hand she pulled his face toward her and spotted a tear trickle down his cheek. "What gives?"
Gippal shrugged her hand off of his face and turned to face the sink. "…If it is a girl, could we name her after my mother?" He asked, and with his hands leaning on the edge of the basin he looked out of the kitchen window. His mother passed away when he was just a teen; they were very close until she was stricken with a rare illness that eventually took her life. Gippal promised himself if he ever had a little girl of his own that he would like to name her after her. He never mentioned anything to Rikku about it up until that point, and he hoped she wouldn't mind.
Rikku's lips curled into a smile and she wrapped her arms around him, hugging Gippal from behind. "That's the best idea ever. Your mother would be so honored."
The two shared a tender embrace when the comm. Sphere rang in the living room had begun to ring. Gippal spun around and gave his wife a quick peck on the forehead before going in the other room to answer the call, and Rikku turned the faucet back on deciding to wash the last dish in the sink. The clock on the far wall struck eight and she wondered who was calling so late. Gippal came back into the kitchen looking serious again; Rikku unfortunately knew why this time.
"You have to go out on a dig, don't you?"
"Yeah." Gippal sat down on one of the wooden kitchen chairs. "They've discovered some new route in Bikanel, possibly a place we haven't dug at yet. We leave tomorrow." He sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry Cid's girl. I can't say…"
"You can't say no to them, but you can say no to me who is gonna be giving birth any week now!" She placed her hands on her belly with worry in her eyes. Rikku was so angry and hurt that he didn't say no to the dig, because digs could take anywhere between days, weeks, and sometimes months depending on the situation and that was time Rikku just didn't have. "I want you here when the baby's born, Gippal!" She demanded and started to cry, grabbing the dishcloth off of the counter and covering her face. "I need you."
Gippal felt horrible; he approached Rikku and gently moved her hands downward, revealing her tear stained face. "Rikku I'll be back before you know it. Please don't worry." Not knowing what else to do he just pulled her into his chest and held her tight as she continued to cry, rocking them both from side to side. "You're not gonna be alone when the baby comes, I promise."
"Don't make me promises you can't keep, Gippal." Rikku warned, clutching him tighter as he continued to rock her. "You better be there."
She whispered her next words so softly Gippal didn't hear them.
"Please…you have to be there."
Unfortunately, three days into the dig there was a massive sandstorm which knocked Gippal's excavation hover off of the radar, and despite recovery efforts they were unable to find him and his three man crew. Shortly after Rikku received the devastating news that he was missing she went into labor, giving birth without him unable to keep his promise.
"I guess we should get going." Nooj announced after about an hour, picking a sleeping Juin off of Paine's lap so she could stand up. "I think someone needs a nap." The boy scratched his nose and blinked his eyes for a second before resting his head on his father's shoulder, falling back to sleep. Yuna held Adlain, her fingers interlocked by his bottom as his head rested against her chest. Baralai was holding Lelah, and he approached Rikku's bed ready to hand her over but she was still apprehensive, waving her hands and shaking her head no.
"Baralai I don't know if I can." Rikku said sadly, her voice about to break again. "What if she doesn't want me? What if I can't console her?"
Baralai offered Rikku a sympathetic smile and sat down beside her on the bed. "Don't worry about such nonsense. She needs her mother, and if she doesn't have you, she won't have anybody." Slowly the praetor transferred Lelah from his own arms to Rikku's, and she hiccupped, startling her mother at first. Rikku became nervous when the baby began to fuss, but all doubts disappeared instantly when they're eyes finally met. When he knew that mother and baby were situated Baralai kissed Rikku on the forehead and smiled, rising to his feet. "Everything will be all right. We're all here if you need us, you know that." With a final caress to Lelah's tiny head Baralai said his goodbyes and left the room, meeting up with his own family in the hallway.
When Rikku looked closer into her little girl's eyes, she noticed they were definitely Al-Bhed, but they were blue green spirals instead of just the solid green she had; a combination of hers and Gippal's. Seeing those eyes filled her heart with the tiniest bit of hope that Gippal just might return to them safely, and she realized that it wasn't going to do either her or her new baby any good to sulk.
"Hello there, Lelah" Rikku said softly, touching her little nose softly with her index finger. "I'm your mama. Your daddy isn't here right now, but he'll be with us soon, kay?" She paused to once again knuckle away tears, but Lelah smiled at her, giving Rikku instant inner strength. "You and I are gonna be a ok until he comes home, I promise."