Moping. It wasn't something that Gippal was particularly known for, but he was human and therefore could mope just as well as the next guy. However, he hadn't expected to be paid a visit by everyone's favorite Sphere Hunters in the process of it all. He in the process of finishing his last adjustment to the machina he was repairing, though reluctantly at that. He was sick of machina right about then and just as they walked in he proceeded to kick it against the wall.

"Hey!" A voice called from behind him and a few moments Rikku walked past him to inspect the poor machina. "What gives?" She demanded.

Gippal watched as Yuna and Paine stood idly in the doorway, as if reluctant to be there as he was positive they were. Rikku had a way of dragging people places they didn't want to go. Gippal frowned and sat on the couch formerly belonging to the priests at the temple and sighed heavily. "What do you want, Rikku?"

"You sound unhappy." Yuna noted, her hands clasped behind her back. "Is there something wrong?"

Gippal waved his hand. "Work has been busy this week." Was his reply, and he sincerely hoped they believed him. Too bad Paine was with them. Paine him better than Yuna and Rikku combined.

"You're hiding something."

"Ah-ha!" Rikku shouted suddenly. Gippal opened his one eye to see why. He had thought it was because she had succeeded in fixing the machina but it still lay broken in the corner. Instead she stared straight at Gippal. "I was so right!"

"Eh?" Gippal wondered. "Right about what, do I want to ask?"

"There's something bothering you~!" Rikku replied, jumping up and bouncing on her feet in the hyperactive way she always did. "I knew it since you've been so mopey lately."

"I have not." Gippal replied.

"And defensive."

Gippal bit his tongue as to not shout at her about "not being defensive" as that would only make things worse. "What do you want, again?" He asked, agitation evident in his voice.

"Baralai sent us." Rikku said, after glancing at Paine who nodded once. Immediately Gippal felt his face flush, ever so slightly. "Ah-Ha!" Rikku exclaimed again. "Paine was right!"

Yuna was blushing herself now, looking away to avoid eye contact while Paine's expression was smug, although it looked close to her usual expression. Rikku was happily dancing around the pillar in the room. Gippal frowned, trying to wipe the blush from his cheeks. "Right about what?" He demanded grumpily.

Rikku clicked her tongue once. "You love Baralai~!" She sang, then giggled.

Gippal's blush returned just as soon as he'd wiped it from his face. He turned to glare at Paine. "Did she tell you this?"

Rikku nodded happily. "I can't wait to tell Mr. Praetor…"

"Hu!" It was out of his mouth before he could do anything about it. Rikku's giggling turned into laughter now, and if she had had any doubts they were erased now. "E ryda so meva…" He muttered in Al Bhed, running his fingers through his spiky blond hair.

Paine turned around, but spoke before she walked out of the room. "Moping doesn't suit you, Gippal. Maybe you should do something about it."

Yuna left after Paine, urgently asking if it was alright to just leave like that, while Rikku insisted on staying behind. "The next time we're in Bevelle, I'll be sure to mention something!" and before Gippal could even hope to protest she was out the door after the other two.

Gippal fell back onto the couch. "I'd better do something before Rikku does…" since he knew very well that if he let Rikku handle it, things would turn out worse. It was almost a nice notion to let someone else handle his problems but he knew he had to do it himself.

Something beeped and he glanced at the machina in the corner. "After I fix that, of course…"

Paperwork. The bane of his existence. Maybe not. Baralai thought as he finished the last paper and put it neatly on top of a stack, just in time for an energetic Al Bhed to knock it all onto the ground and take a seat on his desk. He barely had time to recognize her as, "Rikku?"

Sure enough she smiled back down at him and as he looked to the doorway found that both Rikku and Paine had stationed themselves in front of it. Almost as if to say, "there's no way out…" Baralai weakly wondered what they wanted before Rikku began to talk.

"Sooo, how's everything going?" She asked.

"Everything here is… calm." Until you knocked down the last of my paperwork that will take me weeks to resort. He added mentally. "To what honor do I owe this visit?"

"Gippal sent us!" Rikku replied with having to glance at Paine this time. Yuna felt a sense of déjà vu.

However, Baralai did not blush, instead he asked, "and what does he want?"

"Err-" Rikku faltered but only for a second. "He wanted to know…if you ever have any free time…"

Paine sighed lightly. "He wanted to know about making plans for dinner."

Baralai, however, still did not blush. "I see. I wish I could but I've been unbearably busy these days. Can you tell him that I don't have time as of late?"

Paine caught the glance that Baralai sent her. She knew that he knew what they were doing. Now it would be harder to get him to crack. But no matter, Paine knew full well what to do.

"Rikku, come here for a second." She insisted, leaving with the girl and leaving Yuna standing in the doorway, a blush evident on her cheeks.

Baralai didn't so much as bat an eyelash. "I'm terribly sorry about this." She said suddenly. "It wasn't my idea." She added.

"I imagine it was Paine's," he replied. "Correct?"

Yuna nodded just as Paine and Rikku re-entered the room. Rikku as grinning again. "Hey, Baralai, Paine was just telling me this fascinating story about this one time when you were forced to share a tent with Gippal and…" She paused to look at Baralai who had the faintest blush on his cheeks. It wasn't enough for Rikku, though. "and she couldn't sleep at all that night because of some strange noises-"

Finally, Rikku had succeeded in getting the Praetor to blush furiously. "That never happened, I assure you."

"I know, but now we know who you like~!" Rikku sang, grinning.

Baralai cleared his throat, then said, "I think it's time you left."

Rikku frowned. "But we're only trying to help, see Gippal-"

"Rikku." Paine said, cutting her off. "Let's leave before we're thrown out."

Rikku pouted on her way out. "Fine!"

Yuna apologized at least three more times as they left.

Baralai sighed heavily, covering his eyes with his hands. What did they want him to do? It didn't make any sense. Maybe he should just speak to Gippal and clear things up. Yet, if they'd already spoken to him maybe that wasn't such a good idea. With yet another sigh he decided he had to do something and on that note called for someone to arrange transportation to Djose Temple.

"Are you sure that they'll actually deal with it on their own, Paine?"

"I'm sure."

"Um, are you guys sure we should've meddled? I mean, Baralai is the Praetor and Gippal is an Al Bhed, not to mention another man and-"

"Calm down, Yunie, its fine; trust us!"

Yuna sighed.

Gippal was still repairing the machina, in deep thought, when a messenger of his knocked on the door. "Oui ryja y jecedun."

Gippal looked up wearily, wiping sweat from his brow. The machina was in pretty bad shape after Rikku had tried to fix it. "Fru ec ed?"

The Al Bhed, however, just shrugged. Helpful. Gippal thought, a bit sourly, before he stood up and said, "Caht 'as eh."

The Al Bhed nodded and left, returning a few moments with the last person Gippal had honestly expected to see. He tried not to show his shock, which he of course didn't do very well, as Baralai entered the room. "Hello, Gippal."

"Err, hi… Baralai." He could feel the tension in the air. He sincerely hoped Rikku hadn't told him anything, though doubted that highly seeing how stiff and tense Baralai seemed, and compared to how stiff and tense he normally was, he seemed really tense. "Is there something you want?"

"I just got a visit from Paine-"

"You too, huh?" Gippal cut him off. He didn't want to hear the rest, he already knew. "Look, whatever they told you is probably right and I'm sorry."

Baralai paused. "They didn't tell me anything, Gippal." Gippal looked at him and felt his cheeks burn. He'd done exactly what Paine knew he would. Now he'd have to tell Baralai himself. "But is there something you'd like to talk about?"

No, not really, is what Gippal wished he could say but he knew that the rift would grow if he continued to deny it. He and Baralai weren't exactly on speaking terms as it was, not since they'd parted ways. Gippal always regretted that. "I guess I should tell you, then…"

It wasn't the ideal place but Gippal knew it was the only place. He sat down on the couch and motioned that Baralai may as well sit. Baralai should have noticed that something was off long ago, and he would have, except that he had barely spoken with Gippal since they'd split up. No one had spoken much.

"Look, this is sort of stupid but…" Gippal sighed heavily, pausing for a long time before he continued. "I know that this goes against the teachings; that's why I've never said anything. So before you say anything, I'll ask if you still want to know."

Baralai contemplated this for a second. It meant that what Gippal was going to say wasn't something that Baralai probably wanted to hear. He knew well enough what it was, just from his conversation with Paine and Rikku earlier yet he didn't want to admit it himself. Besides that, being friends with the Al Bhed was already bad enough.

"You can tell me, I'll understand." Was his final reply, hoping it was enough to convince Gippal that whatever it was, it wasn't enough to ruin their friendship.

Gippal didn't look up from staring at the ground before he continued. "E muja oui." He whispered so quietly that Baralai almost didn't catch it. "I love you…" He said, this time in English.

A tense silence filled the room. Gippal felt Baralai stand up and he knew the man was leaving and would never come back and then, just as he looked up, soft lips brushed against his. Gippal was surprised enough that not only did he jump but he fell backwards and banged his head on the wall, at the same time grabbing Baralai and pulling him with him. "Oww…" He whined, holding his head with both hands. He was equally as confused as hurt. "What was that for?" He asked.

Baralai chuckled, sitting beside him and taking his head to examine it. "You're fine." He pronounced, then turned Gippal around so that he could kiss him again, but this Gippal wasn't so surprised and didn't fall backwards. Actually, this time he wrapped his arms around Baralai's neck and pulled him closer to deepen the kiss.

Baralai pulled away, and Gippal removed his arms from around his neck. "So I take it you're not mad?"

"No, I'm really angry, actually." Baralai replied.

Gippal grinned. "Why?"

"Because you won't shut up and kiss me again."

"Ohh…" Gippal grinned as he pushed Baralai down onto the couch and proceeded to kiss him again, but this time he refused to hold back.

"I told you it would work out." Paine said. Those two had settled their differences ages ago. Baralai wasn't a slave to the old teachings, anymore.

Rikku grinned wider, but refused to peer away from the commsphere so carefully recording each moment. "I guess you were right."

"Yuna blushed furiously. "Um, maybe we should turn it off."

"Leave if you want." Rikku said, refusing to do what Yuna suggested. "But I wanna see every moment of this, so I can blackmail Gippal of course."

Yuna and Paine sighed.

Finally finished a GippalXBaralai fic OTL

Hmm, not quite what I had planned but okay.

Except, why the frick did I fall in love with his pairing?

Final Fantasy X-2 (C) Square Enix

P.S. this is all for you, StainsofBloodonYourHands xD