Characters: Gippal, Baralai, Paine
Spoilers: Crimson Squad backstory
Notes: My long-overdue first entry to this community; inspired by the prompts "Water" (007) and "Crimson Squad" (005), and by wildejoy's birthday!
"Okay, you've had your fun. Time to hand it over."
Gippal lowered the sphere camera and held it out to Paine. "Aww, and I was just about to get some real blackmail material, too."
She grinned as she closed her hand around the recorder and pulled it free of his grip. "Actually, that sphere probably filled up about ten minutes ago."
"Damn! Foiled at every turn." Gippal shook his head. "How will I get you to turn over all your incriminating footage now?"
Paine raised an eyebrow. "You'll think of a way."
Gippal watched her walk over to her camera case, put the camera away, and take up her post at the rail next to Nooj; she said something Gippal could not hear, and Nooj chuckled in response. Just watching them made Gippal feel like an intruder, so he turned away and tipped his head back. The sky was black and dusted with high, twinkling stars; he could almost be back in the desert, but for the rocking of the ship and the sound of the water slapping against its sides.
"Looking for something?" Gippal turned again to face Baralai, who perched in the bow, his legs folded in on themselves as he surveyed the scene.
"Nope, just admiring the view." Gippal crossed the deck and then dropped down next to Baralai, leaning back against the rail. "Besides, didn't you just call navigator?"
Baralai smiled. "I know the basics, but I haven't had much practice."
"We'll just have to get you some, then." Gippal grinned, then looked out at the waves. "Man, that water looks nice. Wish we could go for a swim." He let his arm dangle over the side of the ship, the spray of the waves cool against his skin in the night air.
"It is inviting." Baralai shifted, just close enough that Gippal could feel the warmth of his body. "Unfortunately, I doubt the ship will drop anchor tonight; we seem to be moving more quickly now than on the trip to Bikanel. As if they're in a hurry to get wherever we're going."
"Yeah." Gippal slumped at the reminder of the journey's coming end; despite his earlier speculations about the future, he wasn't looking forward to getting back onto land and having to face everything that waited for them there: the final trials of the Crimson Squad, the prejudices of Yevon, the reality of Sin.
A light hand fell on his shoulder, and he turned, looking up into Baralai's concerned face. "What's wrong?"
Gippal shrugged. "Just thinking about how nice it is to be so far away from... y'know. Everything."
Baralai's answering nod was grave, even as his eyes warmed. "Yes." He squeezed Gippal's shoulder, then let his hand drop. "But perhaps changes are on the way. You say that the Crusaders and the Al Bhed have begun collaborating; you and I have proven how well we can work together. And weren't you just hoping for a swift beginning to the Calm? We have many reasons for hope."
Gippal looked down at Baralai's hand, which had fallen onto the back of his own; he turned it over and pressed their palms together. "Doesn't hurt to be an optimist, right?" He forced out a smile as Baralai's long, smooth fingers wrapped around his.
The ship took an alarming dip forward, and Gippal's free arm plunged into the cool sea. Pure impulse took over as Gippal cupped his palm and pulled it out of the water, splashing Baralai full in the face.
"Hey!" Baralai sputtered and shook his head back and forth, water droplets spraying from his hair. Then, pulling his hand free of Gippal's, he smiled and muttered something under his breath.
The air crackled with magic, and Gippal only had time to notice a brief hand motion before his vision was obliterated by a deluge. He scrubbed the water away from his eyes, pushed soaking-wet tendrils of hair out of his face, and fixed a glare on Baralai.
"Well, you wanted to take a swim." Baralai's eyes twinkled as he leaned back against the railing once again. "Close enough?"
Gippal leaned forward and grasped Baralai by the shoulders, then pushed him down to the deck. He lowered his face until their noses nearly touched. "And how do you expect me to get even for this one?"
Baralai smiled, and Gippal's pulse kicked up a notch. "You'll think of something."