Author's Note:

To all my loyal 'Matters of Blood' fans: Don't worry, that's still going.
Welcome to my newest fic, I hope you enjoy it. I also recommend finding a Al Bhed/English translator (.com/) because this is a RikkuxGippal fic, so there's gonna be a lot of Al Bhed. Also, I hate Yuna with all of my black little heart. So if sometimes she seems out of character, I'm sorry. I tried my best to provide explanations this chapter...but seriously, I hate her.

So I run and hide and tear myself up
Start again with a brand new name
And eyes that see into infinity

Through binoculars and night's shadows, the sands of Bikanel Desert didn't seem too bad to Rikku. Only two years after the defeat of Vegnagun, Home, the heart of Al Bhed society, was finally rebuilt. It came as no surprise to the young blonde run away. It had been her father's dream from the moment it was destroyed. Rikku could still feel her father's calloused arms wrapped around her on the deck of his salvaged airship. "Don't worry, kid. The Al Bhed are proud people and the most technological minds of Spira. With our knowledge of machina and Sin gone, we got no trouble rebuilding our rusa (home)."

And blanketed in desert stars sat that vision. Rikku's small airship was perched high in the dunes, giving her the perfect view. Though the days were shrouded in white hot rays, the night brought on a terrible chill. Rikku's golden bare abdomen felt at home pressed in the sand. The pocket sized machina in her hands had a familiar feel. Even after she denounced her people, Rikku could not cover her heritage. The long dandelion hair, the estranged attire including a yellow bikini with a green mini skirt and a long gradient colored scarf, her spiral pupils, bronze complexion, and airship behind her were all proof off her lineage.

Miles below, in the heart of the newly rebuilt city, her father, weary with fatigue from a restless life, was struggling to a podium. His son, or Brother as Rikku called him, stood alongside their father in his usual overalls. His tattoos were exposed as always and his hair was still a sliver of a mohawk. To his left, Buddy, a lifetime friend to all Al Bhed after his accomplishments with the Gullwings. Buddy remained unchanged as well. He dressed the part of an Al Bhed, but underneath, his dark skin suggested other heritage. Shinra accompanied the pair as well. With the exception of the girls, it was a full scale Gullwings reunion. Shinra had grown much taller and had taken on the features of a man since Rikku last saw him. He was sprouting up to be the spitting image of her Brother, tattoos and all. Shinra had traded in his full suit for a pair of overalls that accented where puberty had come in. Other notable Al Bhed also attended the speech. She recognized Rin the famous entrepreneur and Nhadala and Benzo from her days of digging.

Hordes of Al Bhed people were lined up in their goggles and scarves, gloves and boots to see the famous leader speak. It was a spectacle. With Sin gone, the Al Bhed were free to embrace their love for machina. The stage was lit completely with blue light from tiny flying machina, hovering around shooting beams of light. The sound equipment, machina. The stage, machina. Rikku never thought she would see the day.

"So baubma (My people)," her father, Cid, began, "we have overcome." His voice was stern and professional, nothing like the man who raised the full grown woman. "Though Spira had cast out our brilliance in fear of Sin, though renegade Guados destroyed our home, we have overcome."

Get to the point, Pops, I haven't got- Rikku stopped her inner monologue short when she caught sight of the face that defined the life she left behind. The years had changed everyone and he was no exception. Gippal, the Al Bhed youth who battled Rikku in vivaciousness, stood prostrate next to her father like a statue. His good eye focused on the people, his people. This wasn't the man she could find romping around the sand shirtless and covered in machine grease. It wasn't even the man she could find tinkering in Djose with his toys. Gippal had a stern face now. Still a golden Adonis with hard muscles and windswept hair, Gippal was every desert girl's wet dream, Rikku included. But past played too big a part to keep her from drooling over the grease monkey. Gippal's pale pink lips were pursed tight as he now paced from side to side, the same motions he usually went through before public speaking. At least one thing hadn't changed.

Rikku had gotten so lost in her gazing that she almost missed a pivotal moment in Al Bhed history. "And though I would have liked to hand the legacy of the Al Bhed people onto my only daughter, Rikku, or Brother who helped destroy Sin and Vegnagun, I instead leave it to my protégé and friend, Gippal."

The crowds cheered, the women swooned, and Rikku felt her stomach drop. Sure the boy was good with a wrench, but with an entire race of people?

Gippal waved humbly at the crowd with a half smile. Ham it up, Gippal, we all know you wanna, Rikku thought. "So bauma, it is with great honor that I take the position as meuh of the Al Bhed people." That word, meuh, hadn't been used to describe a leader since Rikku was very young and her father was in the army. It was Al Bhed for lion, a word she would never use to describe Gippal. "And tonight, to honor our former meuh and irreplaceable vydran (father), Cid, I present to you this…" a holographic curtain faded in a shimmer, revealing a giant building. Its architect was unmistakably Al Bhed with its exposed gears and geometric shapes. "After years of digging in the Bikanel desert, we've found some pretty cool stuff." His professional persona was wavering slightly. "And with our new and first museum Kas uv dra Tacand (Jewel of the Desert), we finally have the means to commemorate all that we've found."

Rikku rolled her eyes and thought about the last time Gippal called something…or rather someone his kas uv dra tacand.

I will disappear
I told you once and I'll say it again
I want my message read clear
I'll show you the way, the way I'm going

"Where are we going?" Rikku called to Gippal who was far ahead of her. Rikku was used to the feel of sand weighing down her boots, but she never had to run this far and this late.

After almost two miles of exploring the dunes in the cold desert night, Gippal came to a halt atop of Unbryh. The Al Bhed's ancestors once named all the dunes in Bikanel and it was customary to memorize them to keep from getting lost. Unbryh was the dune that children were never to visit due to the large amounts of fiends that occasionally hunted in that area. When Rikku met Gippal at the top, she understood why.

Below them, a glistening abyss of pyrflies lit up Unbryh. "The Yevonites can have their Moonflow," Gippal stated. "Sit with me, Cid's girl." He patted her on the head like a dog. She groaned in disapproval. "I gotta tell ya something."

"And you had to take me here?" she questioned.

"I wanted us to this place together before I left."


"Yeah," Gippal said with chagrin in his voice. "Rikku…there's no sugarcoated way to put this so…here I go…I know what your dad's planning and while I think it's noble, there are other ways to save the summoners."

Rikku blushed wildly, hoping he wouldn't notice, but the light the pyrflies gave off gave her away. "What are you talking about?"

He could see through her act easily. "Summoners have been disappearing left and right, and at the heart of it, an Al Bhed. I'm not stupid."

"You don't understand!" Rikku burst. "My cousin is a summoner. Her life means something to me. Just because the Yevonites find the summoners disposable doesn't mean I have to."

Gippal brushed some of the sand into the hole, causing the pyrflies to scatter a little before returning to their normal frenzy. "So these soldiers came through about a week ago scouting candidates for this thing called the Crimson Squad. We're gonna go fight Sin."

"We? So you've already decided." Gippal nodded, gaining a scoff from his companion. "I thought that was what the Crusaders were for."

"I just need for you to be happy for me," he said while falling back into the sad. "It's not every day a nobody from the desert gets picked to be an elite soldier. I will bring great fame to our people."

Rikku stood to exit. It was the same thing her father said when he started salvaging machine from the ocean floor. All Al Bhed men cared about anymore was restoring glory to their fallen people. "Then go. Make yourself a warrior. Prove to Spira that the Al Bhed is something to be reckoned with. Then come home and my father will promote you to be his caluht (the word for second, as in second in command). Then the people will elect you grand meuh of all the desert and you can be the overlord of sand."

Gippal caught her ankle with one hand and tugged her down. If he were careless, she could have ended up at the bottom of the pit, but Gippal calculated her fall perfectly. She landed flatly across his torso, face in the sand. "What do you have against your own people?"

"Can't we just be happy with what we have?" she mumbled into the sand.

"Not when there's a chance for something greater."

Gippal let out an 'oomf,' as Rikku rolled over onto her back, planting her belt back firmly into his groin. "I'm sorry. Whatever you do, pops and I are still proud of you."

"You too, really?" he wheezed.

"Naymmo!( Really!)" Rikku sighed deeply into the night air. A cloud of mist from her breath dispersed into the jumble of pyrflies. "You know, I'm not gonna be the same girl when you see me again."

Gippal tried frantically to relieve the weight that Rikku had pressed against his crotch to no avail. He finally gave up, distracted by her last comment. "When I get back you're still gonna be five foot nothing, lanky, and covered in grease. Next time you see me, I'm gonna be meuh."

Rikku lifted herself up, putting more weight on Gippal's pain. "Whatever. I have plans too, you know."

Gippal playfully put a hand on her cheek and stroked it gently. Though they fought constantly like teenagers did, there were bonded tightly through their friendship. They had seen each other cry. They had seen each other laugh. As children, everyday was their tiny adventure. Time and time again an emerging adult would break past their inner child. Gippal's small sign of affection reminded Rikku that soon Gippal would be a man and would be in search of a woman, while she still felt like she would be a girl forever. "Oui yna dra kaz uv dra tacand, Rikku.(You're the jewel of the desert, Rikku.) I know you'll do great things while I'm away."

So I run and hide and tear myself up
Start again with a brand new name
And eyes that see into infinity

As the procession came to an end, following an extravagant performance from Spira's favorite pop star and twice savior, Yuna, Gippal met in his new office with his mentor and friends. They were having a few drinks together before heading their separate ways. With the exception of Rikku, everyone Gippal cared about was in his office huddled together with tiny glasses of tequila. Bikanel did have a great supply of cactus.

The tequila was a less intense blend. The Al Bhed called it dnayd, for treat because it was to be sipped after dinner, though Gippal and Cid had been known to shoot down the harder stuff after long days of diplomacy. The Al Bhed were trying to get on better terms with the Guado who were dying out slowly. The Guado sought to understand the ways of the Al Bhed who had managed to salvage their dying race and keep a solid and pure bloodline.

"So, meuh, what's your first order of business?" Nooj joked. His date, the lively Leblanc, toyed with his ponytail as the crippled meyvn leaned on his cane.

Gippal nonchalantly ran a hand through his hair while swigging back his last bit of dnayd. "Tomorrow I'm handing over the Machine Faction to Brother." Everyone had a shocked expression. The Machine Faction was Gippal's baby and life's work. Handing it over to Brother was like handing over your fine china to an infant. "What? Just because he's a little airheaded doesn't mean he's not familiar with machina."

"Rikku would have been a better candidate," Paine mumbled through a sip. The gang shot an evil glare at Paine for referencing their excomrade. Speaking her name was all but forbidden since the day she denounced her friends, her family, and the entire Al Bhed race.

I was almost there
Just a moment away from becoming unclear
Ever get the feeling you're gone?
I'll show you the way
The way I'm going

Nooj, Baralai, and Gippal were gathered around a bar in Luca after their big speech. Vegnagun had been defeated and Yuna had been reunited with her former love, Tidus. After a few rounds, the three had been considerably drunk, even Praetor of New Yevon, Baralai was a little on the hammered side. They were chatting wildly about their future plans. "I think my first order of business will be to tell all those damn monks to take the sticks out of their butts!" Baralai shouted with a slur. The group noted his use of butt rather than ass, implying he wasn't completely drunk yet.

Gippal laughed and slapped Nooj on the back. "What about you, Noojie? You thinking 'bout going anywhere with that lady of yours?"

Nooj blushed at the mention of Leblanc. She could be a little obsessive at times, but she stood by him faithfully and at the least, he owed her a date or two. "What about you? Anything we should know about you and a certain dame from the desert?" Nooj asked in rebuttal. His glasses hung lopsided across his face.

As fate would have it. The aforementioned dame from the desert had been present. Feeling a little down about not being mentioned the entire speech, she drug herself to a bar where she could unload her distress on a drunken stranger and a whole bowl of cherries. Ever since the day she met Yuna, she had lived in her shadows. Yuna was the grand summoner who saved Spira twice and went on to become a pop sensation. Was there anything the girl couldn't do? It angered Rikku to no end that people brushed her off like a side note. She wondered if one day someone would write down the tale of the grand pilgrimage and Rikku would simply be a reference at the end confirming that she had indeed been a part of it. The entire pilgrimage to Zanarkand, Rikku had to remain bubbly to make up for everyone's grieving over Yuna's upcoming death. No one took the time to assess Rikku's feelings after seeing her home blown up. No one thanked her for going against Yevon's wishes and becoming the first Al Bhed guardian.

The second mission to save the world, she had to listen to Yuna's daily sulking over her beloved Tidus. Yuna had signed them up to go digging in the desert to help her childhood rival build a giant weapon. Rikku was getting a little tired of being walked on without any reverence to her wellbeing. The one person she thought was finally starting to come around and appreciate her, Gippal, waved off her contributions like a fly during his public speech about Spira's newly acquired peace. She wanted to rip the microphone from his hand and scream: You're welcome, Spira.

After a good deal of cherries and conversation with sleeping hobos, Rikku's ears perked up when she heard a drunken Gippal mention her name. "You mean Rikku? Cid's girl? You gotta be kiddin' me! I mean sure, great body, but she's got a mind like a fish tank…not a lot going on up there!" The other men nodded and laughed. "Did I ever tell ya that Cid actually wanted me to marry her? Get this, the old man pulls me aside one day and says: Son, the kid's got a good heart and a lotta drive, she just needs your direction.'" His impression of her father was immaculate, but in no way flattering.

So I run and hide and tear myself up
Start again with a brand new name
And eyes that see into infinity

Following the incident in the bar, Rikku proceeded to start her life anew. She began by writing long letters to each of her old friends, all with a very 'fuck you' message to them. She told her father to basically take his desert and his proud people and shove them where the sun didn't shine. She accused Yuna of being a stuck up whiney princess and hoped she had a wonderful life with her zombie boyfriend. She told Paine to change her tampon and try smiling once in a while. Lastly, she told Gippal that he was an arrogant, know-it-all, womanizing prick and if she ever ran into him on the street she would kick his ass.

It was all downhill from there. Rikku stole a mini airship from her father and went out to see the world on her own terms.

Since that day, the friends did not feel comfortable mentioning Rikku, especially not around Cid, who mourned the disappearance of his only daughter, and Gippal, who did really still love his childhood friend.

Paine's comment caused an awkward silence to fall over the room. "I'm just gonna say it," Paine began, breaking the silence, "has anyone even heard from her in the last two years?"

Everyone either shook their head or answered in the negative. "Do you think she's even alive?" Yuna asked.

"Don't even think that," Gippal snapped.

Yuna added, "I'm just saying, Rikku has been known to be a little…absentminded. Self-sufficiency isn't really her thing."

He tried to force a laugh, but Gippal had been more than a little worried and shocked that she hadn't come about in two years. "I'm sure she's fine and soon she'll level out and come back to us."

"Do we even want her to come back?" Yuna asked, prodding further Gippal's frustration. "She said some pretty nasty stuff when she left. Besides, she wasn't really a grand asset to any of us."

Paine was shocked at Yuna's callousness. It had been developing since the day she found a sphere with the man who looked like Tidus, Shuyin. Yuna hadn't been too great of a friend. The only thing that mattered was Tidus, causing her to treat her friends like second rate nothings. Paine wanted badly to slap the ex-summoner, but knew it would solve nothing. Instead she stated, "Rikku was there every battle you brought on, every dungeon you drug us into, and every argument you put us in the middle of. You wouldn't be standing next to Tidus right now if she wouldn't have allowed to you to come aboard her airship."

Tidus had been silent the whole night. It was weird for him think that Rikku could get mad at anyone. Ever since the day he met her, she had been nothing but a true friend to him. He wanted badly to defend her honor, but didn't know the new Rikku well enough to support any claims. Instead he fell back and waited for the girls to end their argument. "No one asked her to come along. Every day I had to put up with that high pitched sniveling sound. I say good riddance."

I will disappear
-30 Seconds to Mars