"Really? 'Dimwitted halfling, please kick'?" Belkar stormed towards V, waving his arms about angrily.

"All I did was cast a Silent Image spell on your back; an illusion which is absolutely painless."

"It said 'please kick' on it, asshole."

"A mere suggestion, I am not to fault if these words were heeded, as I myself did not enact them."

"Listen, smartass, unless you want to wake up with more blisters than Cthulhu's ass, you better cut the shit."

Vaarsuvius rolled their eyes and turned to look at him. A faint smirk of satisfaction spread across their lips at the halfling's frustration. "I am not going to simply yield to your childish pranks. You expect me to overlook the multiple sticky traps you have stuffed within my boots this morning?"

"Hey, you said your feet were slipping out of them, I was doing you a favor."

"I recall saying no such thing."

"Alright, you got me, but still; it was really funny watching you scrub them in the river for like five hours."

"Perhaps you would benefit from the same experience."

"Hu-" The halfling's confusion was cut short as he was lifted into the air by the back of his shirt. Carrying Belkar with a Bugsby hand spell, Vaarsuvius flew over to the aforementioned river and suspended him over the water. Ignoring his curses and thrashing, Vaarsuvius lowered him into the water.

"Perhaps now you will finally put to rest your idiotic notions of besting me. I have devoted my entire life into unraveling the secrets of the cosmos, and no sociopathic halfling can compete, much less best, my true skill. My cunning is unmatched by even the most enlightened of scholars, my wisdom is advanced beyond your most imaginative dreams, and my power exceeds your own in ways you cannot hope to understand. Even the most trained of students could not match my superior skill, and their teachers most certainly can not fathom my power. A pitiful halfling such as yourself could never-"

Vaarsuvius stopped. With wide eyes they looked down to see that the halfling had stopped thrashing in the water. Instantly Vaarsuvius pulled the halfling out of the water and dissipated the spell.

He lied splayed out of the ground and drenched in water. He was quite clearly unconscious and choking on water. Vaarsuvius looked around; nobody to be seen.

They could fetch Durkon to heal him, but that would require spreading knowledge that the elf had all but drowned a fellow party member. Roy would be furious. They themself knew no healing cantrips, nor could they use scrolls if they were to find them.

So only one option was available.

Vaarsuvius placed their hands one over the other on Belkar's chest... His surprisingly toned chest. Vaarsuvius shooed these thoughts away as they began to pump his chest with their hands. After this was done they froze. Vaarsuvius lowered their ears and squeezed their eyes shut for a moment before sighing. The elf very delicately, as if the halfling were a disgusting ogre, tilted Belkar's head back and opened his mouth. Sighing once more before they braced themself, Vaarsuvius leaned in and put their mouth to his.

Fiercely ignoring the swelling feelings in the pit of their stomach, Vaarsuvius began their attempts to fill his lungs with air. Over the next few minutes Vaarsuvius went through the process of pumping the halfling's chest and then... well... providing air to the halfling and nothing more. They were growing increasingly anxious. Belkar's body was still unresponsive, his breathing was still absent, and his lips were still cold. Not that they were noting what his lips felt like, because they were absolutely repulsed to be touching them in the first place.

Finally the halfling sputtered, coughing up water and rolling over onto his side as Vaarsuvius sighed in relief.

Still shaky, Belkar coughed once more and looked over at the kneeling elf. "What the hell, V?! Are you trying to kill me?"

Vaarsuvius looked at the ground, silent for a moment as their own heartbeat settled down. "Regardless, I have realized my mistake before it was too late and remedied it."

Belkar sat up, using a hand to try and wipe his soaked face. "I don't like being drowned, Ears. I tried it once with this hot mermaid and I don't wanna try it again!"

"Again, I resolved it."

Belkar scowled "Wait till Roy hears about this, I bet he'd-"

"There is no need to inform Sir Greenhilt. This matter does not concern him."

"Really? Because I remember a certain uptight elf promising him not to use their magic to hurt party members."

"You have made a similar promise, which will be revealed to have been broken should you relay this story to him."

"Yeah well a few sticky traps pale in comparison to drowning someone."

"I have reason to believe he may have difficulty believing you."

"I'll just tell him to have you use the hand spell again. When you tell him you can't do it, he'll know you already used it."

Vaarsuvius narrowed their eyes. "I would rather you refrain from involving a third party."

"You just tried to drown me! I got limits, you know."

"Perhaps you would be interested in a trade? I have the suspicion that you would be interested in an Explosive Runes. I could scribe you one in return for your silence."

"An Explosion Runes? Really?" Belkar now looked curious. "Because if you want me to keep quiet to Roy, I'm gonna need more than that."

"Of course you would." Vaarsuvius deadpanned.

"Don't worry, Ears, this won't even cost you any exp." Belkar began smiling, a telling sign that Vaarsuvius should be worried.

"You appear far happier than someone who had just drowned should be." Vaarsuvius grumbled.

"Aren't you gonna ask what I want?" Belkar's grin widened.

"That was not my intention."

"I want you to kiss me, V. The biggest, sloppiest kiss you can muster." His grin was from cheek to cheek now.

Vaarsuvius looked away, their nose scrunched up a little as they tripped over their words. "In no situation would I find it necessary to kiss you, the present scenario included."

Belkar's face turned suave and mischievous. He put a finger on the elf's chin and turned them to look at him. "You want me to keep quiet, don't you? And I know you want to kiss me-"

"Preposterous." The elf casually swatted his hand away, trying to look annoyed.

"I've seen the way you look at me. Come on. This is a win-win situation, Ears." He grinned, leaning forward with a devilish look on his face.

Vaarsuvius quickly glanced around. They were still alone. After a brief moment of thought the elf sighed. "Very well. But know that I consent to your ridiculous terms solely due to the necessity of your silence." They spoke professionally, as if they were agreeing to a business contract rather than agreeing to kiss their sociopathic teammate.

Belkar's eyes widened. He didn't seem to have been expecting the elf to consent to his demands. His face turned red and he stuttered. "A... Alright then."

Vaarsuvius smiled a little, amused at catching the halfling off guard and flustering him. They lightly put a hand to his chin and lifted it slowly, savoring the flustered look on his face. They lowered their hand, slowly leaned in, and heavily closed their eyes. Belkar watched in surprise before slowly closing his eyes and listening to his own heart pump. There was a moment of tense nothingness before Vaarsuvius's lips could be felt tenderly landing on his. Belkar backed up ever so slightly, took a breath, and reunited their lips at an angle.

He rose a hand to cup the elf's cheek, slowly trailing it down the jaw line until it rested there. Belkar wrapped his other arm around Vaarsuvius's waist, pulling the elf firmly towards him and deepening the kiss. His heart pounded in his chest so loud he swore the elf could hear it.

After a moment he felt a petite hand on his shoulder, with the attached forearm lying against his chest. Vaarsuvius allowed Belkar to lean into the kiss and tenderly nudge open their mouth. The elf's thumb rubbed little circles on the back of the halfling's neck as he pulled them closer and pressed harder against them. Their tongues nervously met and then they were kissing. Really kissing.

Belkar's face turned as red as Vaarsuvius's robes. The elf was lost in the moment, lost in the halfling's tender loving touch. They raised the hand that was on his shoulder and cupped his cheek gently. The elf felt the muscles of the halfling strain to pull them tighter. Surprisingly, his kiss was much more sweet and tender than expected. His mouth was inviting, their tongues were dancing, and his hand delicately resting on the elf's face was maddening. It didn't matter that the halfling was cold and wet, all that mattered right now was that they kept going, kept kissing Belkar.


Kissing Belkar.

With a small jolt the elf opened their eyes in shock.

The halfling on top of them was all but melting into the kiss, his face beet red and blissful. He looked nothing like he usually did; crafty and devilish with a mischievous glint in his eye. On the contrary it was rather... loving.

After a moment Vaarsuvius closed their eyes again, mushing their lips together roughly before parting their mouth from his. Their tongues slid slowly back to their own mouths and the two looked into the other's eyes.

Belkar looked as if he was in a daze, his bleary eyes were barely open and his crimson face looked dumbstruck. Vaarsuvius couldn't help but smile at his near catatonic state. "I believe that will suffice?" The elf asked smugly.

The dumb dopey smile on his face told the elf his answer. He spoke breathily- almost as if drunk. "You should drown me more often, Ears."

"Refrain from infringement of our contract and I will not further endanger your life."

"You can endanger my life like that anytime." He was speaking breathlessly, clearly exhilarated. He cupped the elf's cheeks in both hands and leaned in again, lips puckered. Vaarsuvius leaned backward, eyes wide and ears drooped.

"Wha...?" Belkar asked dumbly.

"I apologize. This is wrong." Vaarsuvius looked away, calmly removing Belkar's hands from their cheeks.

"What? The hell is that supposed to mean?"

"I was mistaken in encouraging this behavior, I must put it to an end."

"What behavior?"

"I... Cannot be engaged in a romantic manner with you." Vaarsuvius looked wistful, and they began to pull away entirely from the confused halfling.

"Wha-why not? I mean we were just-"

"I know what we were just doing. And now I am saying that it shall not repeat itself."

Belkar's dumbstruck look said everything.

"Every aspect of this is wrong, do you not see that? With any person I should be coupled with, they should be able to respect and challenge my considerable intellect. My mate wouldn't be a sociopathic, vehement, juvenile...-" The elf was clearly frustrated and struggling for words. Their hand was gripping the roots of their hair and their eyes were widening.

"Hey. Ears."

Vaarsuvius stopped. They didn't look at him but he was sure they were listening. "It's not like all this is supposed to make sense. I don't do this mushy stuff; I just find a smokin hot babe, have my fun, and I'm off. But I really don't give a damn. Sometimes you just gotta stop thinking."

Vaarsuvius looked at him without looking. Their voice was trembling slightly when they spoke. "To what are you referring?"

"I, uh..." It was scientifically impossible for Belkar's face to turn any redder or for his eyes to go any wider. He looked down and shuffled his feet. He cursed to himself in his head, unable to force any words past the knot in his throat.


He froze. The elf hardly ever used his name. He looked up at Vaarsuvius's eyes and realized they were just as scared and confused as he was.

"I do. Uh. Want to be romantically engaged with you." He managed to get the words out.

Vaarsuvius's ears drooped and their eyes widened even more. "B-b-but that's completely irrational! Our pairing together is entirel-"

"It doesn't matter, dammit. You like me, don't you?"

"R-ridiculous." The elf looked away, pursing their lips.

Belkar was getting annoyed. "Vaarsuvius. We were lip-locked on the ground just now. Not to mention the fact that YOU kissed ME in the first place. You can't just swap spit with someone and act like it never happened. Especially when we just made out like two seconds ago."

"You are also disregarding the fact that you coerced me into doing so."

"I told you to kiss me. I didn't say you had to clean my teeth with your tongue and put your hands around my neck."

Vaarsuvius looked pained and embarrassed. "Bitterleaf, I-"

"Tell me if I kissed you right now that you'd pull away." Belkar interrupted sternly.

Vaarsuvius swallowed hard and looked at the halfling, trying to think of some form of excuse.

But they couldn't.

After a moment Vaarsuvius stood up, clearly making an effort to keep their voice calm. "I see. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I must go now."

"What? Oh hell no! You are not walking away from this!" He pointed after the elf.

"I have nothing to discuss with you." Vaarsuvius slowly began walking away.

"Bullshit! You're madly in love with me –just say it." He followed the elf angrily.

"I am not-" Vaarsuvius was cut short as Belkar jumped in front of them with his arms spread out.

"Hold it, Ears! Give me one good reason you won't give in and be with me."

"Other than the fact that I possess no romantic attraction concerning you?"

Belkar made no response, eventually forcing Vaarsuvius to continue. The elf sighed. "It is rather evident that we are incompatible; a relationship would be disastrous."

"How do you know?"


"Did I stutter? You have no idea what will happen if we get together, you're just guessing."

"It is the only possible outcome."

"Wanna bet? Why don't we try this thing out and see?"

Vaarsuvius brushed past him. "I see no reason to partake in such a useless experiment."

Belkar watched for a moment before looking away again. "Fine. I guess you can't stand being wrong."

Vaarsuvius stopped walking and looked over their shoulder.


"No, it's cool. I'd rather walk away than be proved wrong too. No big deal."

Vaarsuvius turned to look at him. "I am not wrong."

"Then why not prove it to me?"

"There would be no sense in doing so."

"Yeah, 'cause you don't want to know you're wrong."

"There is no need for proof! Does a bird have to take flight to prove that it can? Or a sword to be swung to prove it can deal damage? No! Such things are a natural progression of logic and reasoning!"

"Then what's the harm in proving that to me?" He was smirking now.

"BECAUSE SUCH THINGS NEED NO PROOF TO BE ACCURATE!" Vaarsuvius yelled, growing more and more agitated.

Belkar resisted the urge to look at the elf's clearly frustrated face. He simply shrugged. "I mean, hey, if you're wrong, you're wrong. No need to be a sore loser about it."


Bingo, Belkar grinned.

"I will prove it to you. You will see that we are without a doubt entirely and completely incompatible. And when all doubt is cleared you will refrain from discussing the issue again. Are we clear?"

Belkar forced himself to stop grinning and turned around with an indifferent expression. "Sure, whatever." He walked past the elf smugly.

Vaarsuvius took flight to catch up to the halfling, landing in front of him with a pointed hand raised. "We must first establish the parameters of this experiment."

Belkar raised an eyebrow, grinning. "Alright, like what?"

"Firstly, we must establish that this experiment will be a continued study until the incompatibility of our pairing is evident to both parties."

"That, or until both of us agree we were meant for each other."

Vaarsuvius narrowed their eyes "Yes, fine. Now we may move on to the rules of said experiment." They pointed their hand again. "We are to act as if we were genuinely courting at all times. Neither party is allowed the use of charms, potions, enchantments, or any other sort of unnatural influence to beguile the other into admiring them."

"So no love spells or potions, you mean?"


"That goes both ways, then. You can't intentionally try to piss me off and make me call off the 'experiment' by blowing me up every two seconds with Explosive Runes." He pointed at the elf, a hint of a growl in his voice.

Vaarsuvius raised a hand and closed their eyes. "Agreed. No sabotage of any sort is permitted. Additionally, none of our compatriots are to be informed of the nature of this experiment."

"Why not?"

Vaarsuvius paused for a moment. Truthfully they didn't want the others to know about their... fondness for a certain halfling. "They may attempt to sway the outcome of the experiment with their own sort of sabotage."

Belkar nodded, giving Vaarsuvius relief. "Is that it, then?"

"I believe so. The experiment will conclude when both parties can agree on the compatibility or incompatibility of our pairing."

"Alright, then. See ya later, sweet cheeks." Belkar walked past Vaarsuvius, waving his hand casually.