auronlu: (Lady)
[personal profile] auronlu
Title: Love Her and Despair
Chapter 20:
The Gippal Express
Final Fantasy X
Characters:
Auron, Isaaru, Wakka/Rikku, Gippal
Rating:
G
Word Count:2400
Summary: Gippal crashes the party.
Navigation: Previous Chapter | Next Chapter
Map of Pilgrimage - Links to All Chapters

Our Story So Far: Following a disastrous Crusader operation, Sin/Lulu transports Summoner Isaaru and his companions to the desert island where Wakka and Rikku are raising a family. After grilling Auron, Rikku realizes Sin is headed for Baaj Island, the new Al Bhed Home, and sends word to her father to evacuate.



"S-Sir Auron?" Yuna clambered onto his knees, clutching at his belt. "Are you going to make the Lady go away?"

Wakka made a small, strangled sound, shooting a panicked glance at Rikku.

For once, Rikku's inventiveness had exhausted itself. All she could manage was a strained, "C'mon, Yunie, he's a stranger; he's not gonna understand."

Auron said nothing, contemplating the small, tear-stricken face before him. Her mismatched eyes were a haunting reminder of her namesake and the fate that had claimed her. How often had he tried to push against the spiral of death?

"She wants you to," Yuna said softly. "She feels sick inside. Can't somebody fix her?"

"Yuna," Auron said, choosing his gruff words with care. "Can anyone but the Lady change the weather?"

"Um..." The girl pondered, then shook her head, curls flopping around her ears. "No, 'cause she's the Lady!"

"Then how can we change her? The Lady is stronger than the weather," Auron said. "But if she leaves, she will give you a gift."

"Um, Auron," Rikku said, clearing her throat and edging towards her daughter.

"Really?" Yuna said breathlessly.

"Yes," Auron said, stroking the girl's nose with a finger. "If you wish it, you'll find a way to grow gardens in the desert."

"Oooh!" Yuna said. "Garden magic? That sounds fun."

"Yunie, it's past bedtime," Rikku said. "Say goodnight to everyone, okay? I'll sing you a lullaby, but only if you come right now."

Yuna set her hands against Auron's coat, raising herself up to kiss the scar on his cheek. "Tell the Lady I said hi." Then she scrambled down and took her mother's hand, waving shyly to the other guests. "Night-night."

Monitoring them until they disappeared around the corner, Wakka turned to Auron with a grudging nod. "We're cool, man," he said. "For now."

"But who is the Lady?" Maroda said. "My brother thinks—"

"I think that we, also, must rest," Isaaru said, rising to his feet and bowing. "Sir Wakka, thank you again for your hospitality. If there is anything you're willing to tell us about the Lady, we would be grateful. But we shall not impose."

"Uh," Wakka said, accent thickening, "I donno what to tell you. Yuna got a bad case o' the toxin, and it's been messin' with her dreams ever since. That's about it. So, anyway...sleep well, ya? We'll make another sweep for your brudda in the morning."



Dawn found Rikku dozing on the couch in the living room, which Auron had finally vacated. As the light grew, a groggy Wakka emerged from the hallway, shuffling over to the petite figure stretched out on the sofa. He lowered himself to the floor beside her, folding his arms on the edge of the cushions and pillowing his face on his forearms. Eventually she stirred, rolled over to check the sphere on the end table, and bumped into him.

"Hey," he said, nosing her tummy above her pajama shorts. "You could take that thing back to the bedroom, ya know."

"Didn't want to keep waking you," she mumbled, rolling towards him for a sleepy kiss.

"You okay?"

"Mmm. Yeah. I just hate waiting!" She rested her cheek on his arm, stroking his ridiculous crest of red hair. "Are you okay?"

"Ya." He exhaled. "So far, so good. But how long we gotta keep 'em here for, eh?"

"Pops wants me to bring Auron to him once things calm down."

A faint buzzing noise outside the house abruptly grew to a throbbing hum that rattled the windows. There was a hollow boom that shook the walls and floor, and the sound faded to a whine, then silence.

"What the—?" Wakka peered towards the front door, hopping to his feet. "Don't tell me Sir Auron crashed the hover."

"That's not our hover," Rikku said, suddenly wide awake.

"I'll go see," Wakka said. He stalked across the room, scooped up a blitzball at the base of the coat rack, and reached for the door handle. His face relaxed into a goofy grin as the door swung open. "Heee-eeey! Who's dis bum on our front porch, eh?"

Gippal set his hands on his hips and leaned back, striking a pose. "Someone you still owe two hundred gil. Heya, Taboo, Sunshine, how've you been? How's the Cactuar Patch?"

"Doing great," Rikku said, peering past Wakka's elbow at the craft parked outside. It was a sled-like vehicle with stubby wings, turbine rotors on the rear and bottom, and a guardrail surrounding four seats clustered in a u-shape behind a windshield. A layer of sand had been blown into their home's front entryway, coating outer surfaces in a fine spray. "Keep your voice down; you may not have woken all of them. Gippal, do you have any idea what time it is?"

He spread his hands. "Sure do. Do you have any idea that Sin just flew past your house? Damn thing moves faster than I thought. Can I come in?"

"Oh, why not," said Wakka, dropping the ball and nudging it back into place with his foot. "Though we've kinda got a full house right now. But come on in; I'll get you a drink."

"Thanks, but none of that tea crap. Battery acid, please." Gippal sauntered in and threw himself down on a chair, pushing back his goggles. "Seriously. You guys have no idea how glad I was to see your lights on when I flew over. I was afraid I might find a big smoking hole in the ground."

"You flew over us in dat thing?" Wakka said. "We're lucky we aren't a hole in the ground. What'd you do to your old ship?"

"Landed four miles away. That's my new flyer. Like a hover, only it goes up, not just sideways. Pretty spiff, eh?"

"Great," Rikku said, distracted. "You mean Sin's backtracking? Gippal, what's happened to Home?"

"I was just getting to that," Gippal said. "Half flooded, no power, but it's not as bad as it could've been. Sin trashed the old Guado temple, but left most of the new construction intact. Brother and Buddy are babysitting the evacuees on Delg Island. Elder Cid's assessing the damage to Home with Shinra's salvage team. We had a major Cid-plosion when my scanners showed Sin headed back your way. He ordered me to get you guys to safety, only Sin outran me." Gippal took the glass Wakka set at his elbow. "Thanks."

"Aww, you were worried about us," Rikku said.

"Damn straight. Two hundred gil ain't chocobo chips." He tossed back the amber liquid and beamed, eyes watering. "And that ain't tea."

"Knock it off with the gil, man," Wakka said, plunking onto the sofa and curling an arm behind Rikku. "You been takin' cheatin' lessons from Rin. Speakin' o' which, I thought you were supposed to be on the mainland fleecin' the Yevonites. You decide to come home an' start makin' an honest living?"

"Oh, things were getting a little hot back in Yevonville. Sin's stirred up, and I figured it was time to clear out of the Calm Lands before summoners start showing up for the big dance."

Wakka shook his head. "Cid told everybody to clear out eight months ago, Gip."

"Yeah, well, the Crusaders have been stocking up on weapons ever since Sin came out of hiding. Rin and I made a bundle."

"Same old Gippal." Rikku said. "By the way, did Pops say anything about our...guest?"

"Actually, now that you mention it—Hey! LJ!" Gippal flashed a thumbs up towards the front door as it swung open. "Speak o' the devil. Still chasing Sin all over Spira?"

"Hmph." Auron stamped the sand off his boots and stepped inside.

"Same old Auron," Gippal said. "Long story, I suppose? Auron only does short ones."

"Yeah," Wakka said, face clouding over. "How'd you know him, anyway?"

"L...J?" Rikku added quizzically.

"Longtime customer. The LJ, or rather, O.L.J., actually. The Original Legendary Jackass. "

"And you're the new legendary jackass, I suppose?" Rikku said.

"You always were the brains here, Sunshine." Gippal took another swig and waved at Auron. "Yo. I think I've got something for you. You lose a sword in Kilika?"

The corner of Auron's mouth twitched. "Maybe."

A slow grin spread across Gippal's face. "I thought it looked familiar. Better quality than anything the Crusaders have. I reckon it'd pull in at least a thousand gil, twenty plus if I hold it until the Calm and get Rin to auction it off as memorabilia. Soooo. How much might it be worth for you to buy it back?"

"Much." Auron folded his arms. "However, it will have to be eighty-four gil."

"Broke, huh? I guess 'legendary' doesn't pay well." Gippal slapped his knee. "Nah, man, I'm just pulling your leg. You've got things to do. I heard about that stunt you pulled in Kilika. You're utterly mog-snogging nuts, Auron, you know that?"

"What'd he do?" Rikku said curiously.

"Jumped off a moving ship onto Sin's back and stuck a pin in it. And Sin stopped. He just about drowned when the thing swam off. They're all yapping about how he saved the town. By the way, where's your shiny new summoner?"

Auron nodded towards the back of the house.

"Hoo boy." Gippal began to chuckle, noting Wakka's long face. "Full house, eh? Well, look. I've got orders to take Auron to Elder Cid. I doubt he wants to give you a hero's welcome, old man, but orders are orders. So if you want, I can take the summoner, too."

"Acceptable," Auron said. "Isaaru wishes to consult Cid."

"And the others?" Wakka said, leaning towards Gippal with desperation in his eyes. "Gip, we're up to our ears in Yevonites, and Yuna's got a crush on Auron."

Gippal cuffed his shoulder. "No problem. I'll take them all off your hands."

"Oh, really?" Rikku snorted. "How much?"

"Oh." Gippal folded his arms behind his head and leaned back. "I reckon two hundred gil should cover it."



Happily, Isaaru's offer to pay their travel-fee out of Yevon's coffers tickled Wakka's sense of justice. Maroda was all for it, once Gippal explained that the sensors on his ship could scan the whole island on the way out. After a quick meal, they prepared to leave. Elma's scruples put up a brief stumbling block when she saw the small craft parked outside.

"Wait, is that thing...a machina?" She gave Maroda a lopsided grin. "You couldn't arrange something a little more appropriate for a maester, eh?"

"A maester? Man, Elder Cid's gonna love this," Gippal said. "Look, lady, all the ships off this island use machina, so you're gonna be stuck here a while."

"Er," Rikku said, scratching her cheek, "actually, so does the shower I showed you last night. And our water supply. And the toilet. Come to think of it, that outfit you're wearing—"

"Oh, no." Elma looked down with genuine alarm at the clothes she had borrowed, a loose-fitting pair of cargo pants and a midriff-baring tank top, the only option since she was a good five inches taller than Rikku. "Don't tell me there's machina in it!"

Rikku grinned. "No, no, it's just artificial fabric. Never mind. It won't eat you, I promise."

Elma reddened. "Sorry, it's just—"

Gippal snorted. "Enh, you sound just like Taboo when he first got here. Machina this, forbidden that. You'll get over it." With a shrug, he jogged towards the flyer and swung himself up by the handrails of a short ladder in back, fixed between the tail rotors. "So, is this everybody? Hop on. You comin' with us, Rikku?"

"You got room?" Rikku looked at the small craft doubtfully. "I want to check on Pops, but..."

"No prob," Gippal said, sliding into one of the front seats. "You and Yevon-lady don't weigh more than a chocobo. Just sit in my lap."

"Kweh!" Mbela said from the cluster of heads peeping around Wakka in the front entryway.

"Nice try," Rikku said, wrinkling her nose. "I'll sit on the floor, thanks."

"Don't push it, Gip," Wakka said. "Rikku, I still don't think—"

"I'll be back before you know it, hon!" Rikku said, bouncing over to him and cupping her hands on his shoulders. "Anyway, I gotta make sure Pops doesn't get sweet-talked by Isaaru into doin' something stupid. Right?"

"Okay, okay," he said, slightly dazed by her jiggling. He hauled Rikku in for a fierce kiss that left the children giggling behind his legs. Rikku dropped to a crouch to draw them into a collective hug. "Zap Dad for me," she said, ruffling Etta's hair.

"Oh," Wakka said, disentangling himself with reluctance. "Almost forgot. Isaaru, uh...this is a sphere we found in Zanarkand. It'll answer some o' your questions." He fished out a sphere, cradling it in both hands as though it were a precious heirloom, and slipped it into the pouch strapped to Rikku's hip.

Her eyes darted from Wakka to Sir Auron, who had stationed himself on the rear deck like a mast. "Hoo boy."

"We are in your debt," Isaaru said, bowing his head towards the family. "Thank you, Sir Wakka."

"So, are we leaving, people?" Gippal said. "Hop on. Wakka, you'd better get the gaggle inside so we don't sandblast you on lift-off. Be good, kiddies!" He waggled his fingers towards the children.

Yuna, scooped up by her father as he herded the children back indoors, began to cry.

"I'm going to regret this, aren't I?" Elma said cheerfully, belting herself into the wing-seat opposite Maroda's.

"Just think of it as a very large chocobo," Maroda said, tucking his spear under his feet.

"Kweh," she said sarcastically.

"Ready when you are, Gip," Rikku said, crouching behind Gippal and Isaaru and gripping the backs of their seats.

"Hang onto your jock straps, ladies and gents," Gippal said, flipping a switch. The deck trembled as the engines whined to life. There was a puff of dust, and the craft rose to the level of the treetops, swaying slightly. "The Gippal Express is ready for launch. Next stop: Home sweet Home."

Elma's heartfelt Oh, Yevon was lost in the drone of the rotors as Gippal slammed his foot on the throttle. With an unsteady lurch, the flyer catapulted forward, crested the orchard by inches, and shot off across the desert sands.


Next Chapter: Love Her and Despair
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Date: 2008-12-07 07:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muggy-mountain.livejournal.com
20!? Dear gods, I have a lot to catch up on. This pleases me, but not so much the fact that I probably won't have the head space until after finals.

Date: 2008-12-07 07:47 am (UTC)
ext_79737: (Auron2)
From: [identity profile] auronlu.livejournal.com
Sooooorry. At least I'm going more slowly now that I've forced myself back into a reasonable balance of work/post. Posts will be more like a week apart.

Date: 2008-12-07 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jlsigman.livejournal.com
GIPPAL!!!

And oh boy, I both do and do not want to see that sphere. I will probably cry my eyes out.

Cid's going to knock Auron into next year, isn't he? ;-)

Great work! That picture is incredibly cute. :-)

Another beautiful one...

Date: 2008-12-07 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vandevere.livejournal.com
It looks like little Yuna might be as gifted as her Namesake...

I'm wondering what that Sphere will show. I'm kinda looking forward to it, and dreading it all at the same time...

Got any plans to bring O'akka-merchant extraordinairre-into the story?

Gippal as a merchant kinda reminded me of him...

Vandevere

Re: Another beautiful one...

Date: 2008-12-07 06:51 pm (UTC)
ext_79737: (Auron2)
From: [identity profile] auronlu.livejournal.com
O'aka's one of the few characters I don't have room for in this story, alas! The rest have at least some connection to the plot. Although I think he gets a mention in a later chapter.

(Clasko, Shinra, Buddy and Brother are pretty tangential but they're still around somewhere... LeBlanc's gang, Tromell and Toblii are the only other folks that don't warrant a mention.)

Date: 2008-12-07 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trekqueen.livejournal.com
awwww this was such a cute chapter with the kidlets, auron and yuna, and even gippal. :D It is fleshing out nicely and coming together. I bet Wakka deep down sort of misses his active monster smacking days but Rikku gets to have all the fun.

Date: 2008-12-07 09:42 pm (UTC)
ext_79737: (Wakka)
From: [identity profile] auronlu.livejournal.com
For now. ;) But yeah, someone has to babysit, which keeps their swashbuckling to a minimum these days.

Date: 2008-12-09 12:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melchar.livejournal.com
I -really- keep finding this better and better. Thank you!

[BTW, went back to re-read some of the last chapters - and it looks like chapter 18 is tagged '17'.]

Date: 2008-12-09 12:38 am (UTC)
ext_79737: (bleeds)
From: [identity profile] auronlu.livejournal.com
I keep using the previous chapter as a template when adding the header. Whoops. Thanks. :)

THANK YOU!
Edited Date: 2008-12-09 12:40 am (UTC)

Date: 2008-12-15 03:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muggy-mountain.livejournal.com
Oh my wow. Gippal. Haha. Hilarious. I love it.

And Elma. What a dear. Slightly annoying, coming at it from the Al Bhed side, but I do like her so very much. Her interactions with Gippal and his machina only polish the charm.

My only nitpick is Auron's interaction with Yuna. It was a lovely scene, but I had trouble hearing everything said in Auron's voice, you know? I can imagine him thinking along that line, but not saying it, or at least not so much of it and not so directly. But then again, we see very little of Auron's interaction with young Tidus and I'm sure Auron took *something* away from that.

That aside, you've really breathed life into a lot of characters I hadn't considered much, and they're all distinct. The roots are deep and gosh there's some brilliant stuff popping out here. Reading this feels like a canon learning experience at times --oh I'd never even considered THAT!

Date: 2008-12-15 04:18 am (UTC)
ext_79737: (Auron2)
From: [identity profile] auronlu.livejournal.com
I had a lot of trouble with that speech, as you detected.

I wanted him that across to her somehow, but you're right... he talked too much. I'll have to work on that conversation again sometime after watching a bunch of Auron-clips in a row, and see if I can't get the same message across more cryptically.

The trouble is, he's dealing with a seven-year-old (symbolism; she's exactly the age that Yuna senior was when Braska died). He can't go too gruff and cryptic on her, or she won't get it.


As for Elma, I'm having a little problem juggling this many characters in one scene -- I usually write 2-4 at most -- but I wanted at least one traditional Yevonite in the party during the Al Bhed part of the story, since Isaaru and Maroda had friendly dealings with the Al Bhed in FFX and are entirely too comfortable with them. Someone needs to speak for the old Yevon side of things. But... then the character started getting away from the author. ;)
Edited Date: 2008-12-15 04:23 am (UTC)

Date: 2008-12-15 04:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] muggy-mountain.livejournal.com
Yeah, Auron can be hard to write when you'd rather him just say it, damn it and be done with it, and adding a young child to the mix would double the challenge. I thought the first bit of the speech worked well, and though I don't really think you need to rewrite it, I'm totally happy to go Auron geek on you.

Perhaps if you split the sentiment up, with Auron dropping little bits of it here and there when it's brought up. Perhaps not even directly to her, but in conversation with Rikku, or less likely, Wakka. Or perhaps speak through actions, that always tends to be rather Aurontastic, or even just leaving it in his thoughts --the reader knows, even if the characters don't. I always thought one of Auron's character brilliances was how he hung-back constantly. Even in the game, the audience knows far more about him than any one of the other characters --so much of him is revealed indirectly --through dreams, spheres, ghosts and discussions with other characters.

I don't think it merits a rewrite though --and, like I said, Auron could harbor a tender side like that.

And do I ever hear you on Elma --characters have a way of getting away once they're put down on paper. But I think what you've done is more clever than annoying --and the annoyance is well-played. Not at all on the, say, Wakka level. It adds to the dynamic to have a Yevonite on board, like you said.

Date: 2008-12-15 05:48 am (UTC)
ext_79737: (Default)
From: [identity profile] auronlu.livejournal.com
*pokes idly*

Hmm.

Would it work to replace the second part (the "it's sleeping in you now" paragraph) with something less poetic, more cryptic:

"I think you'll find a way to make gardens grow in the desert."

I didn't want to have Auron sound like a prophet. He can't see the future, and he has no idea what little Yuna can do. He was just trying to point her on a different path than a summoner's, since at this point he agrees with Wakka that it's a bad idea for Yuna Jr. (And if Isaaru fails, there's a possibility that little Yuna might grow up, become a summoner, and try to find some way to "fix" the Lady... which could break the cycle, but also could lead to her and Lulu killing each other...which is just unthinkable.)

But Auron doesn't really know what abilities Yuna Jr. has, apart from an obvious affinity for spirits, so he hedged his bets by saying that perhaps she'd use machina to do it. Unfortunately, that made his speech too longwinded.
Edited Date: 2008-12-15 05:48 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-07-03 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cumuluscastle.livejournal.com
Intriguing that Wakka will collaborate with Auron in keeping the secret.

I am also full of hilarity at the fact that Gippal gets to call Auron LJ without getting punched and that he is trying not to smile in Gippal's presence.

Ha ha - just sit in my lap. I enjoy Gippal and the way you've characterized him. I also like how Isaaru keeps showing that (like Yuna) he is the consummate diplomat. Offering to pay for the transportation out of Yevon's funds was sheer genius in opening Wakka up.

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