It was Thursday afternoon by the time Xavier made it back to the hotel room. Walking in the room, he headed straight for the balcony where he found Xu with her back to the door, watching the scenery and the world pass her by as usual. He reached out to tap her on the shoulder, but her voice cut him off.

Xu: "Cid sent a message to me earlier... There's a situation we have to handle."

Xavier pulled up a seat next to Xu. As he sat down, she kept her gaze on the ocean.

Xu: "Cid contacted my friend who works in the gym. He asked him for information and found out that there have been some shady goings on at the old disused end of the docks involving late night cargo transports towards Garden and the names NORG and Klaus being tossed about."

Xavier rubbed his hand against his chin as he processed what Xu was telling him. He knew exactly who NORG was, but NORG was dead, Squall had seen to that.

Xavier: "NORG is dead though... Why would people be talking about him?"

Xu turned round to face Xavier. Her face was paler than normal and she was holding one of her kunai in her hands, idly twirling it around in her fingers.

Xu: "Klaus is the name you should be worrying about... I spoke to Cid right after I got the message from Auron. He brought me up to speed on what has gone on since we left Garden."

Xavier re-positioned himself on the chair and leant forwards as Xu spoke.

Xu: "Three days ago in Esthar, Quistis and Irvine were attacked by poachers. They managed to capture one of them and interrogate them. During the questioning the name Klaus was mentioned. The poacher said he had a bounty out on Quistis' head and he had paid for monsters to be transported to FH and then from FH to Trabia"

Xavier: "Bounty on Quistis? Monsters? What's going on here?"

Xu: "Cid sent Quistis and Irvine to FH to follow up on this lead. Turns out Klaus is using the carefree nature of the town as the perfect base for his operations. He's got half the town in his pocket it seems and he's in the middle of shipping something out to Trabia"

Xavier: "What did they learn?"

Xu: "His operation ends at Balamb. The old docks. Cid has asked us to look into it, see if we can find any trace of him or his op here."

Xavier: "Something must be coming soon if he's contacted us when both of us aren't even being considered for active duty..."

Xu: "Apparently Klaus is going to show in FH tomorrow night to oversee some of the operation. If we get a face to the name, we can work through it. But that's the least of the problems we have now..."

Xavier leaned back against the chair, rocking it onto two legs instead of the usual four.

Xu: "Quistis and Irvine saw a Shumi in FH with Klaus' hired muscle..."

Xavier: "That's not exactly odd, since NORG we've learned that some of the tribe aren't as benevolent as they seem"

Xu shook her head. She reached for her cigarettes and offered Xavier one. As he took his out, Xu removed one for herself and lit it. As she exhaled, she spoke.

Xu: "Remember the robes and blood we found in the training center? Remember how a few people said they remember a high pitched whistling noise?"

Xavier: "Yeah... I still haven't worked out what that was all about, I take it they've found out?"

Xu nodded.

Xu: "The Shumi they saw was wearing Balamb Faculty robes."

Xavier was stunned into silence. Everything suddenly fell into place. The robes, the blood, the flashes of gold, the whistling noises and the constant feeling like someone was watching their every move.

Xavier: "But... I thought they'd all vanished when we hit FH after NORG was killed."

Xu: "By the looks of it, they might have done, and just simply bided their time till we took Garden back home. They must have followed in NORG's footsteps and decided to branch out into more suspect things"

Xavier: "Still... Klaus... who or what is he?"

Xu: "From what I can gather, he seems to be some sort of middle-man who has a large network and resources and seems to be stepping up to being more than just a go between. When Cid contacted me earlier, he told me Klaus was involved with Deiling and his corrupt regime, then he just vanished off radar twelve years ago"

Xavier looked at Xu as she spoke. When she said the words 'twelve years ago' he started thinking.

"Twelve years ago... Associate of Deiling... Deiling was known for hiring assassins and disposing of people in his way... Might be a coincidence... I'll wait before asking her what she thinks..."

Xu: "It seems for some reason he's decided to step up his activities and by the looks of it, he has something against Garden... Or whoever he is working with does. I mean why go through all this trouble? Ambushes, smuggling, hired muscle... Something big is going down"

Xavier rubbed his chin as he sat back on the edge of the bed. Xu moved from the window and sat down next to him. Letting out a sigh, she leaned against him, resting her head against his right shoulder and closing her eyes. Letting her left hand wander, she gently squeezed him on the thigh before slipping her hand between his. As he held onto her hand and looked in the mirror at their reflection, he started to think to himself.

"Xu's friend overheard the goons talking... They're based out of the old disused dock... No doubt they're killing time before the big mission tomorrow... Guys like that usually have money to burn..."

Xavier: "Xu... you know Cid wanted us to do some reconnaissance right?"

Xu opened her eyes and looked at Xavier in the mirror's reflection.

Xu: "Go on..."

Xavier: "These guys are on layover. Guys like these love to throw their money about, cause a ruckus and party before the big event... I think if we head out on the town tonight, we'll gain more information than we will staking out the old dock"

Xu: "What do you have in mind?"

Xu sat up. Turning side on to face Xavier she watched and eagerly listened to the plan he had started to come up with.

Xavier: "We need to get into the big club on the edge of town... You know the one where the celebs, socialites, wannabe mob guys and all that hang out... I think its called Kefka's Palace or something"

Xu: "Hyne, it's been a few years since I was in there... I hear its extremely hard to get into now, and it's like 500gil on the door and then the drinks are 100gil a pop"

Xavier: "Let me ring Joker. That guy is more connected than Cid! He'll know a way to get us in there or at least give us an idea of how to get in there... Might even have some resources for us to use too"

Xu: "Alright... I'm gonna go get a shower. You ring Chris and see if you can come up with a workable plan. I don't fancy infiltrating the club from the rooftops - it'd cause too much trouble if we were caught. Being able to get in there through the front doors as easily as possible is the best idea"

Xu leaned forwards as Xavier tried to stand up. Running her hand up his chest, she pulled at his shirt, dragging him towards her and teasingly kissed him before letting go. Flashing him a smile, she stood up, turned round and headed towards the bathroom. As the door closed behind her, Xu looked in the mirror.

"I think I better come up with a plan. Chris and Xavier are dangerous when they think of things!"

=...=...=

.= Balamb Garden: Quad =.

Chris, more commonly known as Joker was sat in the quad. Dressed in his pale camouflage jacket and blue sweatpants, he sat in the shade thumbing through his deck of cards. All around him, the campus was abuzz with activity. In one corner of the Quad, Nida and Emma were training. Her staff work was coming on well and she could almost hold her own against Nida when he used his staff, but she was still rusty when training against sword users. In another corner, the Treipes were being... well Trepies. With no Quistis about, they were just talking their usual nonsense - how they loved her hair, what they'd love to do with her and the like. The thing which picked the mysterious SeeD's interest the most though was the conversation several feet away from him.

Cadet #1: "So yeah, apparently there's some big celebrity in Balamb tonight... Some Galbadian Tycoon. Everything he touches seems to turn to Gil"

Cadet #2: "What's his name... Something strange... like one word..."

Cadet #3: "It begins with a K... Kriss?"

Cadet #2: "Nah, it's not that... Kliffe?"

Cadet #1: "You mean Klaus?"

Cadet #3: "Yeah... that's the one! He's meant to be in Kefka's Palace tonight... something about contracts... Rumour has it that he's involved in the plans to build that Casino up near Trabia and they plan to add a hunting/survival resort to it for good measure"

Joker kept his eyes on his cards but he focused all his other senses on the conversation happening near him.

Cadet #2: "He must be here to advertise or to try and drum up support. I heard he's bought the old dock which no one uses... Plans to build a ferry terminal to link the casino to Balamb"

Joker reached for his pocket as he felt a vibration. Pulling his PDA out, he looked at the screen - Incoming call... Xavier.

"This can't be a coincidence..."

Pressing his thumb on the green phone icon, he accepted the call.

Xavier: "Chris, it's me... Cid's gave me and Xu a mission and we need your expertise. How long will it take you to get the following to Balamb?"

=...=...=

.=Hotel, Balamb=.

Xavier hung up on his phone call and headed towards the bathroom door. Opening it slightly he shouted through to Xu, hoping she would hear him over the shower.

Xavier: "Xu... I just spoke to Chris. He said he'll be here by 6pm... 2 hours time. He's bringing a few things up for us which might make tonight easier..."

The sound of the running water stopped. The cloud of water vapour which had been forming rose up in the air and started to condense on the chrome finishing's of the bathroom. The shower curtain twitched and from behind it, Xu stuck her head out. Her skin was flushed due to the temperature of the water. Droplets ran down her forehead and dripped down onto the floor. Even though they had been friends for years and lovers for a week or two, the sight of Xu never ceased to amaze Xavier. He stood there in silence, smiling as she looked at him.

Xu: "Let's see if he comes up with anything similar to me then..."

Xavier: "You have a plan too?"

Xu reached out from behind the curtain and pulled a towel off of the rail. Patting herself down with it, she held it out behind her back and folded it across her chest as if it was a dress. After tucking it in, and making sure it covered just about everything, she moved the curtain out the way and shook her head. Running her hands through her hair, slicking it all back, she slowly walked across the bathroom floor towards her boyfriend. Soaking wet and wearing nothing but a towel, she knew exactly what she was doing to him and the look on his face said it all.

Xu: "Xavier, stop drooling... You were saying..."

Xavier shook his head.

Xavier: "Yeah.. Right.. Chris is gonna bring up some gear for me - it'll make me look like I'm someone's private security so i'll be able to get in no problem"

Xu walked towards him. Droplets of water dripped from her arms and legs as she moved. Stopping in front of him, she placed her hand on his chest, leaving a wet handprint on his plain white shirt.

Xu: "That's a good idea... But wouldn't looking like a bodyguard require someone to guard? Who do you know who is famous going tonight? Klaus will have his whole entourage there with him if he's there and they'll make you instantly!"

Xavier shook his head.

Xavier: "Hyne be Damned! I thought that plan was fool proof"

Xu placed her left hand on Xavier's waist and playfully tugged at his shirt. With her right, she moved it from his chest and pressed her fingertips against his cheek. Gently running them down his face, she leaned in and whispered in his ear."

Xu: "It's a good job we actually have someone famous right here in Balamb you can protect..."

Kissing him on the cheek, she let go of him before he could grab hold of her. Teasingly walking past him towards the bedroom, she headed to the doorway to the balcony and drew the curtains across it. Turning back round towards Xavier she looked at him as he kicked the bathroom door shut behind him with his heel.

Xavier: "Xu, everyone knows who you are... There's no way we could get in there with your SeeD credentials"

Xu rolled her eyes as she sat down on the bed. Motioning for Xavier to sit with her, she teasingly loosened the towel covering her body.

Xu: "With what I have planned and what you and Chris came up with, I think we might pull this off..."

Xavier sat down next to Xu. Looking into her eyes, he leaned closer.

Xavier: "What do you have in mind?"

Xu: "I think it's time for Lady Mina to make an appearance again... There is a Card Tournament in a few months after all... And I'm fairly certain she'd need a bodyguard tonight..."

Xavier: "That's perfect!"

Satisfied that they managed to put together a plan, Xu stood up. Pushing Xavier backwards onto the bed, she climbed on top of him, still wearing her towel and nothing else. Straddling him, her legs either side of his hips, she reached up for her towel and loosened it more so it was barely holding onto her. Looking into his eyes, she smirked the same kind of smirk she'd make when up to no good. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she winked at him and teasingly bit her bottom lip before she ran her fingers down Xavier's chest, soaking his shirt even more than it already had been. Finding her way towards Xavier's waist, Xu let her hands rest on his belt. Pulling at it, she started to loosen it at first before Xavier's hands found their way down to meet hers. Within seconds, the pair of them had loosened his belt enough and undone his trousers, just enough for her to slip her hands down. Leaning forward with one hand down Xavier's jeans, Xu pressed herself against Xavier and teasingly bit him on the bottom lip before sliding her tongue back into his mouth. Following her lead, Xavier slid his hand down towards his jeans and with some slight wriggling, managed to slip them down far enough to allow some movement down there. Breaking from the kiss, Xu rolled onto her side and brought her hand back up and rested it on her boyfriend's stomach. Looking into his eyes, the feisty SeeD reached up for her towel and loosened it even more, allowing it to drop, revealing most of, but not all of her breasts.

Xu: "Tell me Xavier... Ever wonder what it's like to fuck someone famous?"

Xavier: "I did wonder... but in the past week or two, some of my curiosities have been satisfied"

Xu let out a smile at the comment for a moment, but before she could even speak, Xavier slipped his shirt off and threw it at her. Putting her arms up to stop it, Xu left herself wide open to attack. Before she could even untangle herself from the soaking wet t-shirt, Xavier had already slipped out of his jeans and pulled her towel from off of her.

Xu: "You bastard! That's cheating!"

Xavier: "Whoever said Cheater's never prosper obviously hasn't been with you have they?"

Xu smirked at the remark, conceding the point to Xavier but she was quick to make her move. Not allowing Xavier the time to savour getting one over her, she placed both her hands on his chest and pushed him over onto his back. Sliding her legs over his once more, the slim Trabian lay on top of her boyfriend, her naked body pressed against his. Xavier's hands reached down and rested on the thighs of Xu. As he slid his hands up her still wet skin, they eased their way across her backside and up to the small of her back where he rested them. Bending his fingers slightly, he dug his fingertips into her soft skin, either side of her spine and teasingly raked his hands up her arched back. Squirming at his touch, Xu leaned in, pressing her lips against his. As the two lay there, lost in a passionate embrace, Xu's body flinched slightly as Xavier repositioned himself. Taking a sharp breath, she pulled away from the kiss and moved her hips slightly, letting herself get more comfortable. Closing her eyes, she pushed back, sitting on top of him and let her head hang back. Arching her back as they both moved together, she let out a moan.

Sat on top of him, Xu started to move in time with Xavier. Pushing towards him with every push he made inside her. Widening her legs slightly, she gyrated, swinging her hips in a gentle movement with every push he made. Reaching out with her hands, she placed them on his chest and pressed against him firmly. Digging her fingers in, she let her nails scratch against his skin as she dragged her hands down his chest, taking care not to cut him or break the skin, but with enough pressure behind for it to leave a clear mark and to excite him even more. As Xu decided to make things more interesting, Xavier smiled back at her. Biting his bottom lip for a moment, he took a deep breath to steady himself as she pressed herself, forcing him further inside her than he already was. Reaching up, he held onto her by the waist. Firmly grasping her hips, he pulled himself up to meet her, biting at her bottom lip initially, tugging on it slightly before allowing her to slip her tongue back into his mouth as they kissed again.

Pushing Xavier back down, Xu stayed on top of him, but this time she leaned right into him, pressing her breasts against his chest once more. Moving his hands from her waist, Xavier slid them firmly up her back, caressing her spine and the curves in her figure as she squirmed on top of him. Breathing harder and faster, the pair of them carried on, lost in their moment of passion before they finally came to a stop. Xavier let out a soft groan as Xu held onto him tightly before she finally relaxed. Closing her eyes and letting her head rest against his chest, she kissed Xavier on the cheek before nuzzling against him.

Xu: "I love you Xavier..."

Kissing her on the forehead, Xavier smiled and closed his eyes.

Xavier: "I love you too babe"

=...=...=

"BZZZZZT! BZZZZZT! BZZZZZT!"

The rattling of Xavier's PDA across the oak table across the room from them startled the two lovers. With a look of confusion on her face, Xu bolted upright into a seated position, covering herself with the duvet of the bed and looking round like a startled chicobo caught in headlights. Xavier let out a groan and rolled over, bringing himself to a standing position and getting out the bed at the same time. Rubbing his eyes and taking a few deep breaths, he walked across towards the PDA and picked it up. Squinting, he held the phone up and looked at the screen. It was 18:00 hours and there was a message notification. Letting out a loud yawn, Xu looked over at Xavier.

Xu: "Who is it?"

Xu rubbed her eyes before pushing herself back in the bed, propping herself up with the pillows. Reaching out to the bedside table, she grabbed for a warm, half-drank glass of water and took a sip, rinsing her mouth out before spitting it back into the glass. Cringing at the taste, she shuddered slightly before grabbing her PDA.

Xavier: "Its Joker, he said he'll meet us in thirty minutes. He got held up trying to sort out some of the things he thinks we might need..."

Xu: "Can he not push it back till at least 19:00?"

Motioning to the bed, Xu knew she was pushing her luck trying to get a second round in with him, but she had to try. Giving him her best 'come hither' look and motioning for him with her hand, Xu desperately tried to get her boyfriend's attention, but it was no use. Xavier had already put his underwear and jeans back on, opting to remain topless. The early evening sun filtering through the gaps in the curtains highlighted the curves of his muscles and also drew attention to the small bits of stubble growing on his chin and lower jaw line. Snapping a picture on her PDA, Xu smirked as Xavier looked up.

Xavier: "I take it that this means we're equal on spontaneous pictures of each other then?"

Xu shook her head.

Xu: "Not in the slightest..."

Xavier smiled. It had been months since he had seen Xu in such high spirits. He knew she was mischievous and still a teenager at heart when she was round her friends or allowed to just relax, but he'd never expected her to be just like Selphie and Rinoa - full of energy and adorable. Smiling at her, Xu noticed the look he was giving her and sighed.

Xu: "I'm turning into Rinoa again aren't I?"

Xavier laughed as Xu shook her head and slipped out from underneath the duvet. opting to put on what she found on the floor first, she settled on her simple black underwear and the still damp t-shirt Xavier had been wearing. Clapping her hands together to catch Xavier's attention, Xu pointed to the packet of cigarettes on the table and her lighter.

Xavier: "Hey, get them yourself!"

Xu: "C'mon, you're right by them, just toss them here and I'll give you one. I've almost finished this packet anyway and I can't smoke Red Fangs tonight, Layd Mina smokes the menthol stuff... Let me at least have one last real cigarette before we go undercover again"

Xavier: "Fine, but you better get dressed and open the windows. Chris will be here in roughly fifteen minutes, you don't want him coming in here with it looking like this do you?"

Gesturing to the mess of clothes strewn across the floor and Xu wearing nothing but a T-shirt and her underwear, Xavier made his point.

Xu: "Pfft.. Fine then! I suppose I better cover up a little bit, can't go making Chris drool all over me and getting you all jealous!"

Xavier: "Please, I would not get jealous if Chris started drooling over you!"

Xu: "Care to test the theory?"

With a tone of mischief in her voice, Xu raised her eyebrow and sent Xavier a quizzical look. Putting him on the spot, she knew Xavier would realise she would prove her point in any way possible. Shaking his head in defeat, he grabbed her cigarettes and lighter. Taking one out for himself first, he threw the nearly empty pack and lighter to her. Smiling and mouthing 'thanks!', Xu leaned down and picked up her jeans and slipped them on before pocketing the cigarettes, her PDA and the lighter. Pulling on a plain vest top, Xavier slipped out of the room, presumably heading down to meet with Joker leaving Xu to get things ready. Walking across the room, she opened the curtains and looked out at the bay. The sky was slowly starting to turn orange as the sun was starting to go down. Resisting the urge to go out for her smoke for a few more moments, the Ninja turned back to the mess of her room and did what she knew best - picked everything up and dumped it in the corner of the room out the way. Clicking her laptop on, she opened her media center and loaded the music. Hitting play, a steady drum beat kicked in followed by a fast paced, upbeat rock styled lead guitar sound. Cranking the volume up and singing along to the words, Xu surveyed the room. It was mostly cleared up, with most things blatantly stuffed in corners or their cases just to free up some space. Satisfied with her clean-up attempt she turned her attention back to the balcony. Unlocking the door, she opened the door and walked out onto the balcony just as the chorus of the song kicked in. Unable to resist, Xu started to sing along louder...

Xu: "You drive me outta my miiiiinnndd... Pretty little suuuuun-shine... Light headed, Dancing on the edge of a knife..."

Lighting up her cigarette and taking the first pull, losing herself to the music, she didn't notice Xavier and Joker slip into the room. Hearing Xu singing, both of them covered their mouths and let out a slight laugh which was barely audible above the music.

Joker: "Thankfully she kills better than she sings!"

Xavier let out a loud laugh just as Xu turned round. Spotting the pair of men, red faced and giggling like a pair of idiots she suddenly stopped in her tracks. Going a nice shade of red herself, she instantly sat down and let her head hang, trying to cover her embarrassment. Holding up her middle finger, she gave the guys her own salute as they approached her. Sitting down next to her, Xavier mouthed 'sorry' but was ignored as a response whilst Joker placed a backpack on the floor. Unzipping it, he left it open for the others to look in.

Joker: "Xavier said you're trying to get into Kefka's Palace tonight. I've got gear here for two approaches - covert infiltration or undercover."

Xu reached into the bag and pulled out a sealed cylinder with a timer and slot for a charge to be inserted.

Xu: "If this is your idea of covert... I've seen your explosives, they're just as insane as Selphie's!"

Joker: "Hell no, that's not for you guys... That's for me! Cid got in touch with me last night and he wants me to do some snooping after assisting you guys - He wants someone to take a closer look at the old docks and to see what's going on"

Xavier rubbed his chin as he looked into the bag. He saw the standard issue earpieces which most private security wore, but the three way toggle switch on them piqued his interest. Picking one out, Joker let out a laugh.

Joker: "That there is a low-jacker. It allows one to listen in to any other earpiece talk in the nearby building, but keeps you from being picked up on. Meaning you can eavesdrop and communicate with each other at all times using the second ear-pieces - inner ear monitors."

Xu: "I won't be able to wear a low-jacker. It'll blow my cover. I can just use a standard inner ear one and use the throat mic which usually sits in my necklace or chokers"

Joker's interest was instantly drawn to Xu.

Joker: "You mean you're both going undercover? I thought it would have been Xavier going in and you infiltrating... You usually hate undercover missions!"

Xu: "True, but I'm not normally recovering from having my ass handed to me in the training center by a legion of fucked-up monsters being ordered about by those Shumi bastards"

Joker simply nodded. Reaching into the bag he pulled out a flash drive. Placing it on the table he slid it across to Xavier who picked it up.

Joker: "This is the building plan of the club. Its got all the security camera locations, black spots, places where you can get a good view of the areas and its also got the guest list too. I couldn't find a Klaus on there, but it doesn't mean that he won't be there or one of his men won't. Someone in there is connected, there are far too many private security guards listed for tonight to just be a normal night in Balamb."

Xu: "Think you can hack their servers and upload myself and Xavier onto the list? If we don't have to lie our way in..."

Joker: "What alias are you using?"

Xu: "Mina Huang"

Joker smiled. It was one of the best kept secrets in Garden that Xu's alter ego was the socialite Lady Mina Huang, card player extraordinaire.

Joker: "You're lucky that the paparazzi don't bother much with Balamb. It'd be mysterious for you to just appear out of nowhere."

Xu: "That's why I've already sent out a few messages saying that Lady Mina will be in Balamb this week. She 'owns' a private residence on the outskirts of town remember. No one will question why one of the Triple Triad champions will be in town this time of year, especially with the annual tournament in the coming months..."

Joker: "Beat the lady, receive a ticket... Has Quistis challenged you for one yet?"

Xu shook her head.

Xu: "No, she's got too much on her hands at the moment to even think about the international tournament... Same goes for the rest of you guys too! No trying to get one off me"

Xavier: "Spoilsport"

Xu: "Please... You couldn't defeat Emma!"

Joker laughed as Xavier passed him the flash drive back.

Xavier: "Go use Xu's laptop, get hacking. We've got two, maybe three hours tops to get this all set up..."

Joker stood up and nodded. Taking the flash drive and his bag of equipment, he headed into the hotel room and set to work. As he slipped into the room, Xu leaned closer to Xavier.

Xu: "Do you have a plan for when we're in the club then?"

Xavier: "Not really. I was thinking find you a table, get you set up for the challenges whilst I 'patrol' the area. If anyone asks, I can say it's on the orders of Lady Mina. That'll also allow me to see if I can get into the VIP area... If Klaus or one of his lieutenants is there, that's where they'll be"

Xu: "You do realise none of us even know what he looks like.. If he even is a he..."

Xavier: "True, but tomorrow is the big night in FH, so if we can get pictures of anyone there tonight who looks suspicious and send them on to Quistis and Esthar, it might give them a head start"

Xu reached for the last cigarette in her packet. Pulling it out, she lit it up and took a drag before looking out to the bay once more. Watching the ships gently bobbing on the swells of the sea, she closed her eyes as the faint breeze swept over her.

Xavier: "I'll leave you for a few minutes... Am I correct in assuming getting ready to become Lady Mina is going to take a significant amount of time?"

Xu nodded, still keeping her eyes closed. Taking this as a signal to leave her alone, he slipped into the room to join Joker. Standing next to the enigmatic operative, Xavier looked at the screen as Joker worked his magic, slipping past firewalls and encrypted sub-divisions before managing to access the guest list. Adding in the names of his colleagues, he let out a sigh of relief.

Joker: "All done... Now for the important question... What's Xu wearing tonight?"

Xavier: "I should have known you were going to ask that..."

Before Joker could try and pry once more, Xu shouted through from the balcony.

Xu: "Xavier - you should know better now... Joker, wait and see later on... The pair of you should get ready anyway, it's gonna take me till 21:00 to get fully ready for tonight's performance anyway..."

Shaking their heads, Xavier and Joker got up. Grabbing his backpack, Joker headed to the door first.

Joker: "I got some things to sort first, I'll meet you guys back here at 21:00. We can discuss the final strategy for tonight then."

Xu nodded and waved him off as he exited the room. Locking the door behind him, Xavier sighed much to the amusement of Xu. He knew Joker was only messing with him, but it proved Xu right, Xavier got extremely jealous extremely fast. Walking over towards her boyfriend, Xu reached out and slipped her hand into Xavier's and squeezed it gently before leaning into him and kissing him on the cheek.

Xu: "Don't worry babe... You'll get to see me in my outfit for tonight AND you'll be able to take me out of it too"

=...=...=

Xu glanced at the clock on her PDA - it was 20:20. She had forty minutes to make sure she had everything and was ready to roll out. Having closed the curtains to prevent any prying eyes and locked the door so no one could get in, Xu stood there in just a black lace thong. Opening her wardrobe, she pulled out the dress which she had originally intended to wear for a romantic night out, but give the change in circumstances, it felt more fitting to use it for this evening's mission. Pulling it out of its bag and laying it out on the bed it looked like any other normal long, floor length dress. It was a deep shade of red with golden foxes and flames embroided up the left hand side of it. The front of the dress was fitted, making room for her and the edges were lined with a black trim to give the illusion of something being worn underneath it. Picking the dress up, Xu placed it onto a hangar and hung it up on the door of the large wardrobe. The red shoulder straps were slightly faded in parts, but it was to be expected after the amount of times this dress had seen use in the field. Patting it down and straightening it out, she smiled at it.

"I love this dress, just a shame I only ever get to wear it on missions!"

Reaching into her case, she removed a pair of 4-inch black heels followed by a plain black choker which she usually hid her throat-mic in and also secured her dress with. Placing them on the bed, she reached once more into her bag and removed the two essential things - her thigh straps which doubled up as a holster for a weapon and her make-up kit. There was a reason it took so long to become Lady Mina, and that was hiding her true identity. Not many people knew Xu as a SeeD if they weren't local to the Balamb islands and it was the crucial part to keeping her identity a secret. She rarely wore make-up, so when the chance to become Lady Mina popped up, she went to town on it. Removing her concealer first, she applied a generous helping of it to her tattoo, the one physical mark which would give her identity away. As the specially designed make-up covered up her ink, she reached for her eye-shadow and eye-liner. Keeping her make-up simple, she applied a small amount of purple eye-shadow before adding a thin-line of eyeliner to bring more attention to her eyes. Cleaning her hands off, she reached into the bag and pulled out a small tin. Opening it up, she removed two hazel coloured lenses and placed them in her eyes. Though she didn't need to wear glasses or contact lenses, these were purely for aesthetic purposes and the greenish tint, combined with her already dark brown eyes topped off the exotic look she already possessed.

"Make-up done, tattoo hid, eye's changed... Time to gear up."

Pulling the dress from its hangar, she lifted it up and slid it over herself. As the dress slipped down her body, her right thigh was exposed by the huge parting in the dress which ran all the way from floor to hip. Satisfied with the way the dress sat on her hips, Xu reached up and pulled the straps up across her shoulders before tying them at the back of her neck in a simple bow. Picking up her choker, she slipped it on, securing the straps in place. Making sure everything was tucked in and sitting right, Xu adjusted her dress some more. Satisfied with the results, she reached down for her leg straps and fitted them on. On her exposed right leg, she fastened her slim card case and on her hidden left leg she fixed the small transmitter unit of her wire and GPS locator. Slipping into her heels, she stood in the mirror and looked at herself.

"Make-up, straps, shoes, dress, choker... Hair..."

Running her fingers through her hair, she allowed the right side of her fringe to drop down more, whilst she secured the majority of the left side of her fringe with bobby-pins. Pulling out her hair pins, she threaded them through a hairpiece she placed at the back of her head, making it seem like she had actually tied it back in some capacity. Making sure everything was in place one last time, she reached for her handbag. Inside the bag was her tanto and six kunai along with her PDA, cigarettes and her lighter. Pulling out the box of smokes, she pulled one out and placed it between her lips. The all white cylinder except for a golden trim just above where the filter started was a menthol variant of the brand she smoked, known as an "Ice Fang". It was lighter in taste, didn't smell as strong but it didn't have the same kick to it. Lighting up, she took a deeper first inhale than usual before she blew a thin column of blue-tinted smoke. Making her final check in the mirror, she smiled.

"If this doesn't work tonight, I don't know what will"

=...=...=

Sitting there in the lobby, fully suited in a generic security outfit with his low-jacker earpiece in and a standard issue Colt.45 in hand, Xavier was tense. He hated not having his swords with him. They were an extension of himself at times, and it defined his approach to combat.

Joker: "Hyne Damn Xu! Hurry up already! I wanna see what Lady Mina is wearing this time!"

Xavier: "This time?"

Joker: "Yeah... Last time me and Xu took an undercover mission in Galbadia, she busted out the Mina alias and absolutely killed it at the hotel there - managed to get to the target and obtain the relevant information with minimal effort needed. All she had to do was wear her little black dress and a smile"

Xavier: "You're doing nothing to re-assure me here Chris... I've only just got with Xu remember... We might have been best friends, but I really don't want ideas in my head right now"

"Idea's like what?"

Both of them turned to the stairs. Xavier's jaw dropped as Xu was stood halfway up them. Her arms rested on each railing as she let her right leg lead, revealing the split in her dress. Tilting her head to the right, she let her fringe hide most of her face, but her eyes could still be seen, the purple and black highlighting combined with the hazel lenses captured everyone's attention. Totally speechless, Xavier just stood there gawping at his girlfriend whilst Joker, ever the opportunist, took pictures on his PDA. Slowly descending the stairs of the hotel, one by one, Xu brushed part of her fringe back. With every step she took, heads in the lobby turned - everyone was awestruck by the transformation of the pretty and slightly exotic looking SeeD into the world famous card-player and socialite who everyone wanted to get their hands on. Coming down the stairs to a chorus of whistles and camera clicks, Xu waved a hand for her audience before setting her eyes on Xavier. Looking at his awe-struck face, she smiled even more, thinking to herself:

"Just the result I wanted!"

Xavier eventually moved from his spot. Walking over to the staircase, he held out his hand for Xu to take.

Xavier: "Lady Mina, if I could have the honour?"

Xu turned her head to one side and let out a slightly girly giggle. Placing her hand in Xavier's she turned back to him properly.

Xu: "Certainly"

Xavier helped Xu down the final step and walked her across the lobby towards Joker who pulled out the throat-mic and transmitter for Xu. Passing her an inner-ear receiver which she tucked into her right ear, hiding it behind her hair, Joker talked her through the plan he had come up with.

Joker: "Channel 1 is general chatter from the club. Channel 2 is your own feed with Xavier. Channel 3 is a priority channel, it will be linked to me. If I notice anything strange, I will radio you guys. When C3 is broadcast, pay attention. It might save your asses"

Xu: "So what's the plan - We go in, play cards and info-mine whilst you investigate the docks and do something?"

Joker: "You know those charges?"

Xavier: "Yeah..."

Joker: "Let's just say if you guys get made, they'll be your escape route. If Klaus has something here which is dangerous, it's being blown sky high. That explosion won't be big enough to damage Balamb in any serious way, but the fire and the noise it will make WILL draw everyone's attention. I've even got a few cadets who are in position with guns to make it seem like there is a full blown fire-fight happening. That should draw Klaus out if you two can't"

Xu shook her head. She knew Joker was eccentric sometimes, but this plan was risky at best. Using Xavier and herself to act as a decoy for him whilst they used him to act a decoy for themselves... If either of them was made, it wouldn't be long before the entire operation fell apart. Folding her arms, Xu looked at Joker.

Xu: "You do realise this is the only real shot we have. For all we know, tomorrow night in FH could just be an elaborate ruse set up to draw attention elsewhere and throw us off the tail of Klaus? If he is as connected as he is, I'm fairly certain he knows SeeD are actively looking for him. We can't afford to fuck this up tonight"

Xavier: "We won't fuck this up Xu. All we have to do is just focus on our part. Joker can do the rest and I have faith in him."

Xu nodded her head. She didn't intend to come across as mistrusting of Joker, but the stakes were high for this mission. There was a credible threat to SeeD and Garden, one which unlike the sorceress was a huge mystery. Garden had its share of enemies, but facing a terror campaign was something none of them were prepared for. Re-adjusting her handbag, Xu walked towards the door.

Xu: "Shall we go gentlemen?"

=...=...=

.= 22:00. Kefka's Palace, Balamb =.

Xavier and Xu approached the nightclub. Walking slightly ahead of her, Xavier had his sunglasses on and one hand pressed against his ear whilst his other hand rested at his hip, hovering over his Colt.45 pistol. Surveying the line of guests queuing to get into the club, he walked straight towards the doorman and a P.R girl who held the guest list in her hand. Following him, Xu slowly walked. Holding her bag tightly in her hand, she kept her eyes peeled for anything unusual. Hearing some people exclaim that Lady Mina was present and seeing some camera flashes from the corner of her eye, she stopped just behind Xavier and turned to smile to the crowd of onlookers. Waving her hand, she let the photographers snap her a few times before turning her attention to the P.R girl and the doorman.

Xu: "Hello there. I believe I am on the guest list... Lady Mina Huang and her bodyguard, Hwang Sun"

The PR girl scanned the list. As her eyes darted up and down the sheet with names on, Xu silently hoped that Joker's computer skills were good enough to get them in with no fuss. After what seemed like an eternity the young brunette wearing a tight, revealing tube top with a short black skirt which looked eerily similar to that of a SeeD Cadet smiled.

P.R Girl: "Gotcha right here Lady Mina. Welcome to Kefka's Palace. The list says that it is your first visit here, so as compliments of our owner, Mr Kefka, here is a token for one free bottle of champagne."

Passing Xu the drink token, the girl indicated for her and Xavier to head towards the door. As they reached the roped off enterance for the guest list and VIP guests, the doorman held his hand up.

Doorman: "I'll have to search your bag Ma'am and your guard will have to surrender his firearm if you wish to enter the establishment."

Xu took to the defensive. Holding her bag tightly she shook her head and spoke in a very neutral sounding tone of voice which had a slight hint of authority and intimidation behind it with the words she chose.

Xu: "I am sorry, but you may not check my bag. My cards are in there. I cannot afford anyone seeing which deck I have brought tonight. I am here on official business for the Triple Triad International Society - I have three invitiations for the card tournament in Dollet this fall and they must be won fairly tonight. If any word of my cards get out, it won't be a fair contest."

Doorman: "As much as I would love to respect your wishes Lady Mina, rules are rules..."

Xu: "My guard will not surrender his weapon either. In Trabia it is customary for any VIP or guest of honour to have a full armed guard with them at all times. In Deiling and Dollet they too allow me free passage with my guard being armed..."

The P.R Girl reached for her radio. Speaking in short sentences to what Xavier and Xu assumed was the head doorman, she quickly walked towards them and spoke in a very apologetic manner.

P.R Girl: "The head doorman says it's fine. He has background checked Mr Hwang's credentials and he has a full permit to carry his weapon. He also says Lady Mina can come through without a bag search. She is of good character not to be bringing in any contraband unlike most of the socialites and celebrities who try their luck every weekend."

The doorman snorted at having rank pulled on him. Reluctantly, he unbuckled the rope barrier and allowed Xu and Xavier to pass through onto the red carpet and up the stairs towards the gold-finished metal doors. As they reached the top step, the doors slid open revealing the VIP entrance to the club. It was a marble floored corridor which had a red carpet leading towards the main hall of the building. Along the wall between the marble columns were pictures of the owner, Mr Kefka with various celebrities who had visited his establishment. Stopping in front of one of the pictures, Xu let out a slight chuckle, drawing Xavier's attention to the picture.

Xu: "Well... Would you look at that..."

Standing in the middle of the picture was Mr Kefka. He was a short man, standing at five foot four, he had a receding blonde hairline, wore a tacky pair of sunglasses, had a very awful fake tan and a golden crown in place of his right canine tooth. Wearing a white suit with black pinstripes on it, he stood with his arms folded, sporting a smug expression on his face. Standing to his left was none other than Zell and Quistis and to his right were Irvine and Selphie.

Xavier: "When was this taken?"

Xu: "Must have been the night of the gathering in Selphie's office. They must have left for Balamb to blow off steam before the big mission after we both left..."

Xavier read the caption.

Xavier: "Kefka meets the children of fate... That's a ringing endorsement if he ever needed it. His joint has the SeeD stamp of approval..."

Xu: "Let's hope they didn't mention us or show anyone pictures of us then... That could make things difficult"

Moving on from the photograph, they entered the side hall of the building. Along the dimly lit corridor, only illuminated by black lights and small floor lights, they looked along the VIP area of the club - numerous private rooms were there, each one guarded by a member of club security or one of the guest's own security entourage. Noticing a guard with a sub-machine gun and a machete outside one of the doors, Xavier tapped Xu and whispered something in her ear before they both nodded and walked into the main club. Passing the VIP guard, the Triple Triad champion and her guard walked towards one of the corner booths and sat down. Flagging down one of the serving girls, Xu handed over her champagne token and smiled. As the girl left to retrieve the complimentary champagne, Xu pulled out her card box and set it on the table.

Xu: "Machete, SMG, slight overkill for a nightclub don't you think?"

Xavier: "Just a little... You think you can get in there or find out who is in there?"

Xu: "Yes... But I have a question..."

Xavier: "Do I want to hear this?"

Flashing him a mischievous smirk, Xu spoke anyway.

Xu: "I could get in there if we weren't an Item... I mean, who wouldn't let me go anywhere looking this good?"

Xavier shook his head as Xu laughed. Under the table, she slid her hand over the seat and rested it on his thigh, giving it a squeeze, she looked him in the eyes and spoke again, this time, without the sarcasm.

Xu: "Relax baby, I'm kidding. I could get in there, but only if Joker's distraction is needed. If it was two years ago, I would have easily got in there... But I'm with you now. I don't need to play the seductive undercover vixen anymore..."

Xavier: "So it was true... What Joker said about Deiling?"

Xu: "To an extent... Wait... which time in Deiling?"

Xavier's face dropped. He knew of Xu's past with regards to the opposite and even sometimes the same gender. He knew she had been with other people, but despite himself having a past of sorts, hearing talk about Xu's history hurt him a little, especially since he had been after her for so long.

Xavier: "Black dress, Hotel?"

Xu cursed under her breath. Shaking her head she looked at Xavier and squeezed his thigh again.

Xu: "Did Joker tell you what that mission was about?"

Xavier shook his head.

Xu: "Figured as much... He's a bastard sometimes!"

Taking a deep breath, Xu spoke straight to the point.

Xu: "That mission was to snare a bastard who was the head of a human trafficking ring. Abducting people from the streets of towns and forcing them into slave labour or making them fight for illegal meetings where large sums of cash exchanged hands..."

Xavier stayed silent.

Xu: "I went back to his room with him, intending to just knock him out with sleep powder and then to get evidence on him, but he got violent. As soon as I got into the room, he tried to choke me with his belt so I'd be easier for him to have his way. I ended up hitting him with one of my hairpins which was laced with a weak poison. It wasn't strong, but it was enough of a kick to send him into anaphylactic shock."

Xavier: "See, if I knew that, I wouldn't have been so confused and edgy"

Xu: "Ignore Joker. He's just doing it to get a rise out of you because he's just jealous I kept shooting him down... Just relax babe."

Listening to Xu, Xavier let the matter drop. As they stopped talking, the complimentary bottle of champagne arrived at their table with two glasses. Popping the cork and pouring one of the glasses for herself, she looked at the serving girl again.

Xu: "Could you please get my associate some water? He is on duty and I'd hate for my protection to be intoxicated... Also, could you please announce that Lady Mina is here and is accepting challenges for the Triple Triad Tournament in Dollet this fall? I have three tickets to give away, it would be a shame to let them go to waste."

Nodding politely, the girl took the message and request and headed back to the bar. Moments later she passed the glass of water to Xavier and smiled as the Club's DJ interrupted the generic sounding dance number.

DJ: "Good evening denizens of the Palace... I have a special announcement from one of our special guests this evening... If you fancy yourself a Triple Triad master or think you can beat a champion... Head on over to the back of the bar, where the one and only, Lady Mina is here tonight."

The club buzzes with excitement as Xu stands up in her booth and holds her hand up in the air, letting everyone know where she is.

DJ: "Lady Mina has three.. That's right, three tickets to the Fall tournament in Dollet and the only way to get them is to beat her in one hand. If you think you can do it, form an orderly queue and let's get someone from the court of Kefka to Dollet!"

The crowd cheered as the music came back on. Sitting back down, Xu pulled out her deck of cards and started to shuffle through them, ready for her challengers. Switching her feed to channel 2, ready to receive Xavier's messages, Xavier flipped to Channel 1 and got up.

Xavier: "I'll make the first pass now, see what I can gather. Try not to destroy them all dear."

Xu: "I won't."

Nodding at him, Xu motioned for the first challenger to approach her. As the man sat down to play a game of cards with her, Xavier slipped away. Walking around the perimeter of the room, he looked for anything slightly suspicious. As he stood there, watching people forming a queue, a buzzing in his ear alerted him to something.

"The boss said he's going to slip out in the next few minutes and check on the packages. If you make the DJ hype Lady Mina some more, he can get in and out with minimal effort"

Xavier: "Xu, nod if you hear this... Someone is planning on using you as a distraction to slip out. Want me to investigate?"

Looking across the room, Xu nodded, then shook her head.

Xavier: "Copy."

As the night drew on, more and more people were leaving Xu's table with their hopes dashed. Xu was allowing them to chose their cards from her deck, or to use their own whilst she played the random rule to make it more of a challenge, but each person she faced was defeated with relative ease. Even when she tried to throw one hand, the other person couldn't capitalise. Frustrated with the standard of playing, Xu waved Xavier over.

Xu: "Mr Hwang... Please inform the DJ that I am going to give the tickets to the club as a gift. I tire of the lack of a challenge here. I wish to retire for the evening."

Gathering her cards up and finishing her drink, Xu picked up her bag as she headed towards the DJ. Meeting Xavier halfway, they approached the booth and handed the tickets over to the DJ.

Xu: "Thank you for the time, but unfortunately, tonight has been a wasted endeavour. I was hoping for someone with a slight modicum of talent to face me but I find myself faced only with disappointment. Send Mr Kefka my regards."

As Xu and Xavier headed towards the VIP area, there was a crackling on their earpieces.

Xu: "Channel 3?"

Xavier nodded. Moving into an alcove, they listened to Joker's message.

Joker: "Big news, Klaus is there. I'm going to give you guys the break you need to find him. In two minutes there will be an explosion. As soon as you hear it, pull the fire alarm near the VIP women's toilets. It'll trigger a drop. Xavier can use what is inside it. After that - storm the VIP room you had your eye on..."

Xu: "Affirmative"

Readying their junctions, the two undercover SeeDs headed towards the toilets and waited. After what seemed like an eternity, there was a loud noise and a rumbling which shook the building. Ducking out of sight, several of the security guards who were armed with machetes and SMG's ran past them towards the rear exit of the club. Pulling on the fire alarm, a panel in the wall slid back and a basic katana dropped out. Picking it up, Xavier smiled. Flicking to C3 he addressed Joker.

Xavier: "Thanks for the sword. I take it we're expecting a hostile reception?"

Joker: "I'd guess so. Me and the cadets are just retreating, it's safe to say, we pissed off Klaus' men somewhat by blowing up his Limo at the docks."

Xu: "Keep it out of the streets, try and get on to the back wall, there's a passage there which leads to one of our Salamander boats. That'll get you to Garden quickly"

Joker: "Got it. Good luck guys"

As the last of the guards ran out, Xu smashed the fire alarm near the men's toilets, this one trigged the siren which signalled for the evacuation of the club. Withdrawing her tanto and a kunai, she nodded to Xavier who stepped forwards with the katana drawn. It wasn't his own personal katana, but the basic sword was still as deadly in his hands. Heading down the hallway, they made it to the door which the heavily armed guard once stood in front of.

Xu: "You ready?"

Xavier: "Are you?"

Nodding at each other, Xu cast protect on Xavier and then herself as her partner brought up his boot and smashed it into the door. Knocking it off its hinges, the two of them charged through the door with their blades drawn, ready to face who was on the other side.

=...=...=

A/N: The song Xu sings is "Pretty Little Sunshine" by hard rock band Audrey Horne. Check them out!

For a better representation of Xu's dress. Think Ada Wong of resident evil, in THAT dress