Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy X-2, or any Final Fantasy game whatsoever. Sadly, SquareEnix has the credit and the money while I have nothing but dirty socks.

Warning: Yaoi, possible yuri, sexual themes and horrible humor. You have been warned…

Thanks to Kimi for being my beta-reader.

A/N: Meh… just spent around two weeks replaying both FFX and FFX-2. Nerdy, I know, but I have no self control. Heh. But yeah, after playing those two games, I got an even stronger urge to finish FFIX, seeing as I ditched that game on the third disk for a year. After that, another urge to play FFVIII. Yep. So things kinda took it from there…


Oh, and has anyone else realized how disappointing the perfect ending for X-2 is? Shame, really.

And I'm drifting off the topic again. Right. Okay, I know I said that the chapters will usually be written in the time period of a day, but this chapter is an exception, and will be written in two sections, otherwise it'd just be too long and messy. Let's just say that the current chapter is the… boring part of the day. Sorry!

Sorry this update took so long. Actually, I had the entire thing done three weeks ago. I know, I know, half of you probably aren't believing this, but sadly, it's true. See, the thing is, I had this European tour thing going on. My goal was to post up the chapter the week before I left, but unfortunately, my beta-reader (KIMI!) couldn't get it done. Yep. And so I was stuck in non-Internet European territory for the next two weeks. Meh. But anyway, I'm back.

Thank you all for your fabulous reviews. I've been hoping for ten reviews per chapter since the start of this, and you guys haven't let me down once. Thanks so much!

The Art of Deception
Natsue Arishima

Phase Four: Gaining Ease in Necessary Lies
Part One

Ba-dump! Ba-dump!

His eyes felt heavy, so he didn't bother opening them, vaguely aware of the fact that, had this been any normal day, he would have been wide-awake by now. But as it was, something told him that today wasn't just another ordinary day.

He was dimly aware of a secure and stable warmth, and a steady, rhythmic thudding. Odd. He frowned, thinking it was his own heart at first, before realizing that no, it wasn't. The gentle beating belonged to something else… something unbearably close… And the warmth. It wasn't his either. It was nice, though… so soft…

And that smell… that indescribable yet intoxicating smell… fresh and clean, with a touch of a nameless scent. It was so familiar.

He snuggled closer, burrowing his face in it.

A brush like silk.

He paused. Cloth?

Struggling, he slowly opened his eyes.

Bright light assaulted his vision, dappling his sight and causing him to hiss. Immediately, he shut them again, even though the light was still there, distorted rays fanning out behind his eyelids. He raised a hand and rubbed his eyes, consequentially losing his balance and toppling over the tempting warmth he had sensed earlier, spurring a soft "umph" from it. It was… it belonged to a person.

So tired…

Warily, he opened his eyes again, just a slit, fighting off the fierce grip of sleep. He winced at the sunlight poring through the small window in the wall, though refused to give in again. Ever so slowly, he pushed himself upright, gazing at his surroundings with distant attachment.

He was on a couch. Around him, slender black boxes littered the cushions, the carpet. There was a TV in the corner of the room, with cords attached to it, connected to a black box, which lay quietly on the floor. Large speakers were placed in the corners of the semi-circle of a room.


And then it clicked.

This was his game room.

And then everything made sense again.

Turning, Baralai blinked at the sleeping blond next to him, head against the wall, one hand on the arm of the couch, and a controller balanced awkwardly over a knee. The praetor smiled slightly, leaning forward and brushing a golden strand away from slender eyebrows.

His hand stopped at the other's face, hesitating.

Would it ever be like this again? Waking up next to him, seeing him before anything else every day… Baralai sighed, pulling back his fingers and rubbing them as if they'd been stung. No. No matter how much a person could hope, things like that — miracles — never happened. Yevon was cold-hearted when it came to matters such as love and want.

He sighed, turning back to the blond, eyes drifting over the smooth forehead, dark lashes, straight nose, strong chin. Gippal looked so peaceful asleep. He sighed. Sure, it was never going to happen, but he could always pretend.

Nothing wrong with that.

He leaned forward again, and was struck with a sudden urge.

He wanted to kiss him.

Baralai refrained from slapping himself on the face, aware that any sudden action would most likely wake the other. Bad, bad, bad! He wasn't supposed to be thinking like that. But… then again, it wouldn't hurt, right? Gippal was asleep… he wouldn't know. Besides, if the blond did wake up, he could just claim he was… what was it? Practicing. Right. And besides, it wouldn't be a real kiss. Just… a light peck. Yup. Nothing wrong with that.

Baralai had self-control. Of course he did.

Licking his lips nervously, he edged closer. Funny how terrifying kissing someone could be, compared to endless battles and the risk of death that, now that he thought about it, really weren't that horrifying after all. But… he wasn't backing down. He wanted to do this, and do it he would.

He stopped when his face was mere inches away. Gippal's skin looked so smooth; not soft, but calm, perfect. He had half a mind to touch him, see how the blond's face felt, but refrained. There would be plenty of other times to do things like that. But… right now… he just wanted this moment for himself.

He swallowed, and had been bracing himself, when Gippal peeked open an eye and grinned.

Baralai's eyes widened in surprise. He jerked backwards, but Gippal's arm (when had that gotten there?) held him firmly in place. The praetor, in his sudden panicked state, turned back to look at his companion, who wore a cheeky grin. That bastard.

"Molesting me in my sleep, huh?" the blond asked softly, breath brushing slightly against Baralai's neck, who suppressed a shiver. "That's not very nice."

The praetor attempted to look unruffled, which, at the moment, was hard for even him to do. "Says the one who probably does it all the time, with your dates and all."

Gippal chuckled. "Not when they're asleep, I don't." He lifted his head off the wall, pulling their faces even closer together. "Though you're partially right. I do make exceptions sometimes."

The praetor felt like he was going to faint, eyes dropping to watch Gippal's mouth as he spoke, dragging each word out slowly and carefully as if he knew what agony Baralai was going through. This was a dream, it had to be a dream… Gippal would never do something like this if it wasn't a dream… He suddenly felt very small.

"What's the matter, praetor?" the blond purred, his other hand snaking around Baralai's waist. Their noses brushed lightly against each other. "Looking mighty breathless there," Gippal whispered, blue eyes locked sharply onto the praetor's brown ones. Baralai immediately looked away. A smirk slowly crawled across Gippal's face as the silver-haired man sputtered, trapped and visibly nervous.

A finger found its way under Baralai's chin and, gently but forcefully, turned his head back to meet the Al Bhed's steady gaze. "I like to see eyes when I talk," Gippal murmured conversationally, their faces now so close Baralai could feel the other's lips moving lightly against his own like a ghostly touch. "Otherwise I feel like I'm being avoided," the blond continued, pressing even closer, lips brushing with every syllable.

"S-stop…" Baralai mumbled quietly, finally regaining his voice.

"Oh? But I don't think you really want me to." Gippal blew lightly on Baralai's face, a playful glint in his eyes. "Do you?"

The praetor swallowed, speechless again.

"That's what I thought," the blond whispered. Then, slowly, he leaned forward, kissing his companion lightly on the lips.

Baralai tensed immediately, feeling as if all the nerves in his body were on fire.

Grinning, the blond pulled back slightly, locking his eyes with Baralai's, before leaning forward and placing feather-light brushes on the other's lips again. The praetor remained still as stone, fists clenched at his sides; they slowly began to relax as Gippal's kisses became deeper, firmer, giving Baralai the blissful impression that one didn't have to die to go to heaven.

He was about to respond when the blond pulled away again, trailing down towards his neck and leaving Baralai feeling highly abandoned and frustrated.

"Gippal, what — " he gasped, breaking off the kiss, suddenly breathless when one of Gippal's hands slipped under his shirt.

Dear Yevon… This was perfect. His world was perfect. Complete, fulfilled… everything was right, in place…

Or at least, everything was until Gippal burst out laughing.

Bewildered and highly embarrassed, something he'd never though he'd ever feel again, the silver-haired man jerked back and shoved the guffawing blond off the couch, where he crumpled into a heap of blankets, skin and blond hair as he continued his train of hysterical laughter. Just by watching him, Baralai felt his anger bubble.

How dare he!

The following few minutes resulted in serious head abuse.

After Baralai's hand was numb from thwacking the other repetitively with nothing but the burning desire to knock out his brains, he felt slightly more satisfied, though still furious nonetheless. The praetor got elegantly to his feet, straightened his shirt, combed through his hair briefly with his fingers, stepped over a dazed though still grinning blond, and announced loudly that he was going to go cook breakfast, excusing himself magnificently from the room, nose in the air.

When the praetor's footsteps finally died away, Gippal picked himself up, rubbing his head. The smile immediately dropped from his face.

His worst fears had been confirmed.

It hadn't just been a one-day thing. The omelet he'd eaten yesterday hadn't been drugged with some sort of desperate love-potion crap, as he'd previously believed and placed his blame on. Or if it had, the effects were taking ages to wear off.

He had liked doing that to Baralai. Yesterday, and today.

He had wanted more.

He still wanted more.

And he was sure as hell no straight man would ever feel that way.

"Dear God, I think I'm turning gay," he informed the walls with a heavy sigh, blearily leaning back against the foot of the couch as he tended to his new set of bruises. He could feel a headache coming on, most possibly a result of his previous flogging, but also as a result of overworking his brain with worry. He couldn't keep doing this.

He couldn't keep mentally killing himself over the praetor. Denial wasn't worth it. Who knew how many gray hairs and wrinkles he'd get from all his worrying?

Yep. Denial definitely wasn't worth it.

With a small twitch tugging at the corner of his lips, Gippal raised his head thoughtfully, staring with a renewed interest about the room. His eyes dropped onto the TV, realizing that it was still on, and made his way towards it, wincing slightly as his head pounded with the sudden movement. The mild-mannered praetor could sure pack a punch.

Reaching out his hand and resting it on the power button, he gazed at the immobile Tidus on the screen before grinning and flicking the television set off with a nudge of a finger as he shut his eyes.

It was time to try something new.

Almost immediately, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He didn't understand what was happening so far, but he'd figure it out eventually.

It'd only be for a week, anyway.

And besides, he also couldn't deny the fact that he kind of liked watching the praetor squirm.

True to his word, Gippal found Baralai in the kitchen, who, upon his entering, began bustling around the room with much more vigor and noise than necessary, clanging pots, banging pans, throwing/dropping knives, etc. Therefore it became no wonder as to why the blond correctly assumed that the other was both angry at and ignoring him. This assumption was proved true when, whilst slicing some carrots, Baralai's hand supposedly slipped, the knife flew out of his hand, and therefore accidentally buried itself into the opposite wall from whence it came, incidentally several inches away from Gippal's face.

Yep, uberly pissed.

There was no other word for it.

He'd never seen the praetor so angry. Okay, so Baralai's temper had been pushed to the limit several times before, but he'd always sulked quietly, by himself. Today, smoke was practically radiating off of him, and the blond was sure that, had the other been on the battlefield, not even the most vicious monster would have dared approach him.

"Hey, 'Lai?" the blond questioned timidly from the hallway several minutes later, making sure that there was no possible way the praetor could chuck a knife at him from that angle.

"What?" the praetor snapped irritably, chopping off the head of a broccoli with a sudden, furious jerk. Gippal scooted back another several feet. Best to steer clear. Just in case.

Baralai's knife gave an ungainly wobble.


He'd come back later.

Baralai continued chopping things with ire for several minutes more. It gave him odd satisfaction, cutting and slicing small and defenseless vegetables. Oh dear. It seemed he had become blood-thirsty during Gippal's stay. He really needed to hire a cook.

His anger eventually cooled, and he lowered his knife when he could no longer sense Gippal in the room with him. Hoping the blond had left for good, but at the same time wishing for him to come back, the praetor sighed and placed the knife onto the cutting board, rubbing his temples as he sat himself down on a stool. He shut his eyes, exhaling a long breath. Slowly, his furrowed brows relaxed.

Honestly, Gippal was going to be the death of him one day. (1)

He was probably overreacting again, but then again, who wouldn't, after being basically tossed around like a rag doll by the one person he cared for the most. That stupid, good-for-nothing, annoying, mental, crazy, flirtatious, machina loving, irresistible, ever so attractive womanizer. He hated him.

Okay, maybe not, but he could try.


He absentmindedly grabbed a cup, summoned up some water, and gulped it down, blanching at the bitter taste. He knew it wasn't exactly a smart idea, seeing as magical water was always bitter and sometimes even a little harmful when swallowed the wrong way, but its horrible taste and burning sensation was enough to keep his mind on something else besides his hopeless infatuation, at least for the time being.

Or so he thought.

He shut his eyes, wincing yet enjoying the water's fiery progress down his throat. Fiery… Gippal was like fire… unpredictable yet —

This wasn't helping.

Slightly annoyed, the praetor placed the cup back carelessly onto the counter. He'd always thought of Gippal plenty of times before, but now it seemed he could hardly get the other out of his mind. It was a sudden change; even yesterday, he'd been able to focus on other topics easily. But, for some odd reason, it seemed that he was suddenly… obsessed with… the blond. And that wasn't supposed to happen. Liking someone he could cope with. Obsession he could not. It was a stupid emotion anyway; never once had an obsessive person received anything good in return.


Rubbing his eyes, the praetor nodded to himself, clapped his hands, and got up. He'd go distract himself. He had to distract himself. It'd only be bad if he didn't. He'd never be able to live with himself.

And he almost jumped out of his skin when someone poked him sharply in the side.

"Ack! What the — who — wrong with you! Crazed… manic, I mean —" he exclaimed angrily, or said something along the lines of that anyway. Spinning around sharply and half expecting to see a smirking Djara behind him, he found himself face to face with — well, the annoying blond character whose brain was so small he could probably shove up back up his head through his nose if it ever fell out.

Okay, so he'd work on that insult.

"Hello," he finished bitterly.

Regaining his composure immediately, Baralai scoffed and walked towards the counter again, suddenly very keen on the idea of chopping more vegetables. "What do you want?" he asked, voice acidic, picking up his knife once again, rubbing a thumb over warm wood. "I thought you left."

Gippal followed him at a distance, which was easy enough to do in such a spacious kitchen, hands in pockets. "Probably would have."

"It would have been smarter. I might not be able to refrain from cutting off an important organ." Chop chop.

A shrug, though blue eyes were wary. "I wanted to apologize."

Knife halfway down the length of a particularly large carrot, Baralai paused. Typical. He frowned, suddenly not wanting to hear an apology at all, not even sure he needed one anymore. All Gippal ever did was apologize. Boring, really. The Al Bhed could… spice up an apology somewhat. Like… throw a party or something (though Baralai wasn't sure he wanted Gippal hosting a party in the first place; one like that was sure to last for several weeks). It was kind of sad. He'd thought the blond was creative. Sighing, he turned back to his carrot, attempting to pull the knife through but to no avail, its blade now firmly stuck within the stubborn orange mass.

Great, now even the useless knife was holding a silent strike against him. Traitor.

Almost automatically, Gippal grabbed the utensil from the praetor, sliced the rest of the carrot fluidly, and returned the piece of cutlery in three seconds flat, continuing his previous tread. "Not just for this morning, For the previous couple of days, and possibly the soon-to-come days as well. I dunno… I know I've probably been kinda… odd, lately. But it's hard, you know? I mean, it's always been girls for me. And… I don't really like change, to tell you the truth. It's kind of hard to adjust."

Baralai made a noncommittal noise, not really in the mood to listen to a from-the-heart speech. Showoff, he pouted silently. So what if you've got big, beefy muscles… perfect, slender muscles…

"Look," Gippal said, almost desperately. He seemed to take the praetor's silence as a personal insult; it was rare when he hardly received less than a glance after giving some thought-out and meant-to-be touching speech, but then again, he'd always done so previously with groups of heavy and divorced women. He supposed such long and sickly sweet sentences didn't really appeal to the praetor. It was either that or he was losing his charm, and Gippal hated to think so. Puffing up his chest again (losing his charm? He thought not!), and in the praetor's eyes resembling an overstuffed owl, he took the knife back from Baralai and began cutting up the closest thing he could reach, which, unfortunately, happened to be an onion. "I'll make it up to you." He sneezed loudly.

Damn acidic juices.

"Oh? And how so?"

The blond shrugged again, blinking rapidly. "I'll think on it," he muttered, tears streaming down his face.

He lapsed into silence, and Baralai followed his lead, watching with vague amusement as drop after drop of salt water fell from Gippal's chin and splashed onto slowly dampening onions in steady progression.

Fifteen minutes and ten onions later (Baralai wasn't even sure if they were even going to eat any of them), along with several extremely long and noisy tissue breaks, Gippal cleared his throat, shifting his weight from foot to foot uneasily, almost like he was bracing himself for some sort of horrifying operation. The praetor, noticing his sudden awkwardness, blinked, faint curiosity brimming at the other's obvious discomfort. No, he wasn't sadistic, of course not.

"Gippal?" he prompted softly, trying to look into the blond's (rather puffy — why didn't he just ditch the onions and go cut something else up?) face, though, seeing as the other kept moving, it was a hopeless attempt.

"Have you —" the other began, but stopped and cleared his throat. He paused, staring hard at his hands, before shaking his head and uttering a faint laugh. "Nah, nevermind."

"No, what?" Baralai pressed. He smiled softly, anger dissipating. "Yes, Gippal?"

The Al Bhed bit his lip.

"Have you ever…" His face was red, and he was now obviously avoiding eye-contact with the silver-haired man, fumbling and rendering the current onion into some rather odd shapes. Noticing this, Baralai took the knife back, just in case Gippal got nervous and somehow managed to cut off some fingers, or his whole hand even. The praetor wasn't too keen on mopping up blood from his counter all afternoon.

Fidgeting, the blond grabbed a piece of celery and proceeded to shred it, having nothing else to occupy his hands with. He cleared his throat again. "Right. Okay." He swallowed. Baralai checked the time.

"Have you ever… you know… felt…" The Al Bhed snapped the poor celery stick in half. The action seemed to spur something inside of him; determined, he straightened up and turned to face the praetor head on. "Well, wait, okay. Have you ever felt… more… for a friend, when you know you shouldn't?" His eyes flickered.

Baralai blinked. Yes, yes, of course he knew. Though, what a random question. The optimistic part of his brain was telling him that the only reason Gippal had brought up the topic was because the blond himself liked a close friend (Me! He likes me! Yay!) though the other, more sensible part of his brain insisted that he shouldn't think too much into it, that Gippal had a lot of other friends he might be referring to, lady friends to be exact, much to his sadness and disappointment.

Damn sensibility.

"N-no… No, I don't think I have," Baralai lied after several seconds of thought, not keen on telling the truth this time. He didn't want Gippal asking awkward questions.

"Ah," the blond muttered quietly, strips of his celery piece floating lifelessly down onto the counter. Baralai bit his lip, tempted to take back his words, when the Al Bhed laughed, light and careless.

The sound was enough to make one melt.

"Nah, sorry, just being paranoid." Gippal picked up a carrot piece and popped it into his mouth, immediately making a face before promptly letting loose a spray of orange spit into the sink. "Argh, that was… nasty!"

Baralai, wrinkling his nose, wiped off several flecks of carrot that had somehow ended up on his robes.

"Do you know how old that is, or is that just how all your carrots taste around here?" Gippal shuddered, turning on the faucet, cupping some water into his hands, and drinking it desperately, droplets of liquid sliding down his chin. The praetor paused, oddly fascinated, all previous disgust forgotten, eyes trailing the water running down his neck, over his collarbone, into his shirt.

"Ugh," the Al Bhed exclaimed, sticking out his tongue and successfully getting Baralai disgusted again at the half-chewed food on it.

Wiping his mouth, the blond finally leaned back, the bitter taste still as strong as ever in his mouth. The praetor grinned slightly next to him, shaking his head, and Gippal raised an eyebrow. "Well, if you find it so amusing, why don't you try one then?" he challenged, crossing his arms over his chest with a smirk on his face as he cocked his head pointedly towards the innocent pile of chopped vegetables.

Baralai just smiled sweetly. "I think I'll pass, thanks."

He caught the gleam in Gippal's eye just in time, and twisted away when the blond suddenly lunged towards him with a carrot piece in hand, keeping his lips firmly sealed. He probably would have gotten away safely too, had it not been for the fact that the blond's other hand found its way to his waist, and the praetor immediately dissolved into peals of laughter, tears stinging his eyes.

"Get… off!" he gasped, laughing helplessly as his assaulter continued to tickle him relentlessly.

"Not until you say 'ah'," Gippal grinned cheekily, poking at the praetor's mouth as he attempted to shove the revolting piece of food in.

Trapped and reluctant to eat the intruding item point blank, Baralai made use of his final weapon.

He bit Gippal on the finger.


"ARGH!" the blond shrieked, pulling away immediately. Baralai took the chance and scrambled away quickly, lest he be tickled again. "Oh, you're DEAD!" Gippal roared in a wave of shock and laughter, eyes popping and finger spewing blood. He turned back to the cutting board, lifted it up, and began chucking random handfuls of food at his companion, who had, by then, crawled to the other side of the counter.

"Really?" Baralai asked thoughtfully, poking his head out to blow a raspberry before ducking under again, narrowly avoiding a face-full of tear-stained onion. "I believe I'm breathing currently, so your description of 'dead' isn't exactly plausible, is it?" he asked breathlessly, lifting his head again.

Gippal flashed him the middle finger as he grabbed another handful of food and chucked. The praetor merely turned his head to one side, grinning triumphantly.

His conquest lasted for a mere two seconds before he yelped and dived under again; Gippal had thrown the entire cutting board over the counter. It landed with a dull thud against the opposite wall before sliding down onto the floor, leaving a trail of meshed vegetables and sticky juice in its wake.

"You're responsible for scrubbing that off!" the praetor yelled, hands over his head as he waited for other objects to fly after the board.

Nothing came.

Baralai frowned.

He stopped himself from looking up at the last moment; Gippal was probably going to ambush him the moment his head appeared. It was something the blond would most likely do, after all. Satisfied, the silver-haired man settled himself comfortably on the floor.

Minutes passed.

And it was quiet.

Alright, something was definitely up. Baralai cocked his head, listening, but heard nothing. Nothing. Not even the sound of cloth moving, rustling, breathing even. Worry began to nag at him. Gippal hadn't somehow hurt himself, had he? No… not even the blond would be stupid enough to stick himself with a knife on accident during a blurry moment. And besides, even if he had somehow managed to stab himself, Baralai would have known. The blond had never exactly been quiet when hurt.


Slowly, Baralai inched his head up, eyes peeking over the edge of the marble countertop. Nothing but limp vegetables. Brows furrowing, the praetor straightened up fully. Where was that infuriating blond? If this was his idea of a joke, it wasn't funny. Yevon, Gippal was going to get a beating later for this, he'd see t—

"EURGH!" Or something like that.

Something large, heavy and blond pummeled him from the side, laughing maniacally. The wind knocked out of him, Baralai winced slightly as his back connected with the firm, smooth floor, though was given no time to complain when a rain of smelly carrots began pelting at him.

"What — Gippal!" he snapped, though quickly shut his mouth when an orange piece came uncomfortably close. Above him, Gippal was grinning snarkily, looking rather comfortable in his straddling position (somehow, he still managed to look like he was sitting on a throne) as he continued to shove whatever pieces of food he'd managed to recollect into the praetor's face.

"Gippal never loses!" the blond stated with a gleam in his eye, hand wrapped around a large, final piece of onion, which he promptly shoved under Baralai's nose.

"Funny. I recall you lost our little contest two days ag — " Baralai wasn't allowed to finish when the onion piece found its way between his mouth. Stunned momentarily, he shook his head before clamping his lips firmly shut when the item was halfway through, refusing to let it come any closer to his tongue than it already was. Gippal blinked, surprised, and the praetor took the time to spit the thing up and away, where it bounced weakly off the blond's taut stomach.

The Al Bhed stared at it, realized that it was his last bit of food, and made a wild swipe, but was outwitted again when the praetor's hand wrapped around it first and threw it as hard as he could towards the wall.

"Hah!" the silver-haired man cried rather breathlessly, slightly crushed under Gippal's weight (he wasn't going to lie: Gippal was tall, muscled, and immensely heavy). "Looks like I won again. So much for never losing."

"You cheated! You weren't supposed to use your hands!"

His pinned partner blinked. "Never said that, did you? And besides, that'd be rather unfair, don't you think?"

Gippal cursed, grabbing Baralai's hands and wedging them under his legs as well. He looked around, frowning when he realized that he'd have to get up if he wanted to retrieve another food piece, therefore setting the praetor free and giving him another chance to run away. Underneath him, Baralai seemed to be thinking along the same lines, for his eyes gleamed and he smiled coyly. "Go on, Gippal. Go get one. I'll stay put."

"Liar," the blond snapped shortly, before another idea flashed across his mind. A devious smirk slid over his face, and Baralai's eyes widened nervously. Making sure the praetor's hands and body were securely imprisoned under his knees, the blond leaned forward, placing a hand on either side of his target's head.

"And besides," he whispered softly, dipping his head even lower, so that his nose brushed against the other's, who swallowed. "Why should I, when there's another way I can win?"

Uh oh.

Baralai squirmed beneath Gippal, realizing what the blond was going to do. But… too late. His head was caught, his mouth captured, and an idiot tongue was swiftly shoved down his throat.

Seconds later, he blanched, and shot out under the triumphant blond's body, stumbling towards the sink and spitting desperately into it. Hands fumbling, he turned on the water, eyes watering.

"Hah," Gippal declared happily behind him, crossing his arms behind his head as he leaned against the wall, smoothing out his hair. "Who lost this time, huh?"

That had been one rotten carrot.

Skirting around a large group of movers and the massive table they carried between them, Gippal sucked thoughtfully on his lollipop. Another group of men headed closer to him, carrying a cabinet, and he ducked his head casually under to get past them, grinning as he passed. They shook their heads at him, chuckling, and he waved before proceeding his way down the hall, heading towards the living room, where he assumed the praetor would most likely be supervising the morning's actions.

He shook his head. Typical.

Head in the clouds, he nearly smacked into Djara, who was tottering precariously behind a rather large and fragile looking vase. "Hey, slacker," he greeted sweetly.

"Oy!" the redhead yelped, messy head poking out from behind the engraved flowers, match nearly reduced to shreds between white teeth. "You mind?"

"No, not really," Gippal drawled, grinning as the redhead made a swipe for his head, nearly lost his balance, and stumbled wildly for a new grip on the vase, finally giving up and placing it with a thud on the ground. He wiped his brow wearily.

"Thanks loads, you," the man panted.

"Why don't you just push it along?" the blond asked, vague interest in his eyes as he examined his lollipop before sticking it back into his mouth. He noted with faint amusement that the redhead's carefree and lazy manner had evaporated when he had realized that work was necessary this morning. Hah. That'd teach him to never drop a bed frame again.

Djara stared suspiciously at him before his mind registered the words. "Oh. Right." And he left, a slight flush staining dark cheeks, pushing the vase towards Baralai's study.

Shaking his head, Gippal stuck his hands in his pockets before continuing his listless stroll towards the living room, mind clouded with the promise he'd made to the praetor earlier that day, over his apology. Half of him insisted that Baralai hadn't really believed him, that he probably wasn't expecting anything anyway. The same half also pointed out the (sadly truthful) point that it wasn't likely he'd think of anything creative anyway.

But at the same time, another part of him really wanted to do something special for the praetor. He hadn't exactly been an easy person to be around with the past couple of days, and if things kept up, who knew how tarnished his friendship with the praetor would be. He was going to fix it.

He didn't know why the emotion was so desperate. He just… wanted to. It bewildered him somewhat. Baralai was a friend, but Gippal had never been previously struck with such an urge to surprise a friend, mending relationships or not. Sure, he'd planned parties and such, but he hadn't agonized over planning them and perfecting them. Why was he so eager to prove something now?

Baralai was just a friend.

Then again, Baralai was turning out to be a… rather special friend.

Gippal swallowed, frowning; however, before he could start worrying with himself again, he choked on his lollipop.

Damn bonbon.

Cursing and sputtering as he pulled it out of his mouth with a small "pop", the blond fumed before something in his memory triggered and his eyes softened, gazing at the red sphere. His anger faded immediately (as it seemed to have been doing a lot lately; if he didn't know any better, he'd say he was going through a male version of PMS, as odd and horrifying as it would seem). He was actually partially grateful the stupid piece of candy had nearly gorged him to death. It had stopped him from the start of another argument with himself over Baralai, which was something he had just promised to himself an hour ago that he'd stop doing.

He'd worry, think, regret, whatever else he needed to do, after this whole ordeal was over with.


He'd just… go with the flow for now. He'd follow his own flow of emotions, and possibly Baralai's as well on the way.

Head so high up in the clouds, he barely noticed it when his feet guided him automatically to the living room, only regaining the use of his brain when he tripped and narrowly avoided goring a hole in his throat by way of his lollipop. Shaking his head and rubbing his neck, he slowly straightened up, annoyed with the fact that he always seemed to be falling lately. His eyes narrowed in suspicion when he wondered if his mood swings and little falls were somehow related.

It was almost as if there was someone out there, writing his every move and enjoying him or herself (he couldn't help but think it'd be a she) immensely whenever he encountered a particularly embarrassing scene.

Nah. Impossible. (2)

"Yes?" a voice asked from his left, and the blond jerked in surprise, turning to find a shirtless Baralai on a step-ladder, a large paint brush in hand, who stood with his back to him. As the blond watched, the praetor dipped the brush in a bucket full of sky blue paint that had been placed carefully on the second highest rung of the ladder, before returning to a previous spot on the wall.

"Yes?" Baralai prompted again after several seconds of silence, and Gippal, tearing his gaze unbashfully away from dark shoulder blades, broke into a cheeky grin.

"Having fun, 'Lai?" he asked quietly.

Said "'Lai" paused before turning, faint surprise evident in dark eyes. As his eyes dropped onto his visitor, the praetor blinked before smiling cheekily. "Sorry. I thought you were someone else." He turned back just in time to notice the steady drip of paint falling from his paintbrush onto his grey sweatpants. "Oops."

Curiosity slightly brimming, the Al Bhed stepped forward until he was side by side with the ladder, watching his companion pick hopelessly at his ruined pants. "Who'd you think I was?" he asked around his mouthful of candy.

Baralai shrugged, evidently giving up on his pants, for he turned back to the wall and began to paint wordlessly.

"Lollipop?" the blond offered, smirking.

The praetor rolled his eyes. "No thank you," he said pointedly, though added, after another bold stroke with his brush, "Maybe though, if you want to paint for a while."

Gippal put a hand on his hip, mocking indignation. "What kind of deal is that? I give you food and work? That's just cold, plain cold."

"You offered," Baralai replied back, a small smile back on his face. He smoothly held out the end of the wooden brush. "Well?"

Taking the end of it, the blond clambered up onto the ladder next to his friend, who propped himself in a sitting position, leaning against the bare wall he had yet to work on. "You strike a harsh deal, praetor," the blond murmured haughtily. "Is that how you treat your supporters?"

"Perhaps. It's a secret," the silver-haired man said slightly, tugging Gippal's candy from his mouth, who protested, and putting it in his own, before shifting into a more comfortable position and closing his eyes. He brushed a strand of hair away with a finger, surprisingly devoid of paint. "Why, what a lovely flavor."

"You evil man."

"I know." A bronze eye peeked open. "You might want to take your shirt off, too." Lips twitched but refrained from smiling, the silver-haired man realizing just how suggestive his previous sentence was.

Gippal blinked, cocking his head to one side as he looked down at his shirt, before a smirk inched its way across his face. He slowly leaned forward, breathing lightly on Baralai's face. "Didn't know you were the hasty type, 'Lai," he purred softly. The praetor scoffed, swatting him away.

"Think whatever you want, but I'm not going to be responsible when you realize you've painted your shirt blue."

"Uh huh. So that's all it was about, huh?" the Al Bhed murmured, nipping the tip of Baralai's nose playfully. The latter quirked a brow. Laughing, the blond pulled back, placing the brush carefully back into the bucket of paint before resting his hands on the hem of his shirt. Pausing momentarily, he bit his lip before chuckling, and ever so slowly pulled the shirt off over his head, flashing Baralai mocking smiles along the way.

"Stop with the show already," the praetor muttered, shoving the other lightly, who laughed again, before throwing his shirt down on the ground. "Go do that with someone who's interested."

"Oh, you broke my heart!" Gippal mocked dramatically, a hand over his bare chest as he pretended to swoon. "Oh, how could you!" He broke into fake, hysterical sobs, a perfect replica of a naggy girl Baralai had met on his travels during the Crimson Squad, who could have passed for a loud and blubbering shadow had she insisted on it.

Grabbing the brush and still wailing, Gippal wrote the message "Me and Baralai FOREVER!" sloppily on the wall, decorating it with hearts and stars.

"Oh, stop it, you," Baralai laughed, flicking the blond on the head, whose wails were immediately replaced by the usual smirk. "You're a moron."

"I know," the blond replied contentedly. He rubbed his nose, leaving a streak of blue behind unknowing. Baralai bit his lip, smiling. "What was her name, anyway? Linda? Lacy? L-something," Gippal muttered, staring hard at the ceiling as if it'd help him remember, before laughing as he recalled the memory.

"Tristy," Baralai stated, smiling as well, either because of the recollection or Gippal's lack of it. "And would you mind me asking why you were suddenly spurred to bring up the topic?"

Gippal shrugged. "I found your photo albums. And either way, she was no doubt the most devoted girl I'd ever met in my life. Running around after you as if her life depended on it." The blond shook his head, dipping the brush in the bucket again as he began to paint over his previously sloshed words. "The only girl that was ever taken with the praetor," he stated climactically, a hand over his heart. "Young love is always so innocent."

"Only girl?" Baralai asked, eyebrow raised as he bit back another smile, taking the brush from the blond and painting a stronger coat over a squiggly heart.

"In those days, my adolescent friend, you were nothing but a white-haired pipsqueak."

"And you a brainless fop. Oh wait, you're still like that. And need I remind you that I'm the older one?"

Gippal laughed. "Fairly spoken," he chuckled, sticking out his tongue as he watched Baralai paint with alarming patience, actions covered with their usual fluidness and perfection. Honestly, that praetor. Was there anything he wasn't good at?

A sudden thought struck him.

"Hey, 'Lai…?" he asked slowly, staring hard at the back of a silver-haired head. The praetor nodded that he was listening, dipping his brush back into the paint. "Do you ever take a breather?"

A pregnant pause. "Pardon?"

Gippal shrugged. "You know. Take a break off from work."

The blond twitched when Baralai began laughing. "Gippal," he replied, slightly exasperated. "Why else do you think I'm home right now? It's not everyday I take a week away from my office." The praetor shook his head, and Gippal frowned, a hand on his hip.

"So, you calling this a break?"

"I should think so."

"Dun look like it."

The steady swish of brush against wall stopped as the praetor paused, eyes slowly glancing over to his companion, who was staring at him carefully with arms crossed tightly over his chest. The atmosphere had sudden changed from friendly teasing to tense accusation. If he didn't know any better, it was almost as if Gippal was… mad at him. Mad, at him, for reasons unknown. Baralai bit his lip.

How absurd.

He turned back to the stretch of white wall, painting over it in bold strokes, eyes narrowed and deep in thought. Why was the Al Bhed mad at him? It wasn't as if he'd done anything wrong.

He missed the smile sneak ever so slowly across the blond's face.

It seemed as if Gippal had found a way to make it up to Baralai.

But first, he'd need to make a call.

Running a brush through his damp hair doubtfully, Baralai slipped off the towel around his shoulders with his other hand and hung it over a chair, stepping out of his bathroom and into the familiar master bedroom, making a beeline for his dresser. He placed the brush thoughtlessly onto polished wood before kneeling down, hand resting on one of the smooth, silver handles, pulling it towards him to reveal a drawer full of light pastel shirts. Carelessly picking the closest one to him, he reached for another drawer and grabbed a pair of pants as well.

He sat down on his bed, shaking his hair out of his eyes as he pulled the sleeveless shirt over his head, the pale blue a stark contrast against his tanned skin. Hesitating, he frowned, standing up again as he slipped on black pants, before sidestepping around his bed to reach for his usual headband, still rather unsure about this whole ordeal.

Ten minutes ago, he'd still been painting the living room. Ten minutes ago, Gippal had also run out of said room wordlessly (though still rather loudly) with all the speed and annoying intensity of a fly. The blond hadn't given any explanation either, though had rampaged back into the room two seconds later and demanded that he, Baralai, stop painting and go upstairs and… what was it… refresh himself.

Honestly, he wondered about the blond sometimes.

The praetor had protested, seeing as his goal for today had been to finish painting the living room. But Gippal had forcefully wrestled away his brush, called in a spare mover, and handed the dripping item to the bewildered artificial blunette, telling him that if the job wasn't finished by dinner, he'd suffer a serious flogging and be denied all pay.

Baralai hadn't been given a choice, really.

Slipping the band around his head, Baralai frowned, biting his lip. He was nervous, there was no doubt about that, seeing as Gippal had also told him five minutes ago something along the lines of "I, being my brilliant self, have found the perfect way to pay you back for my… bastardedness. Yes, never would you have guessed it… we're going sightseeing!"

Which explains Baralai's unease and sudden urge to shoot himself.

He didn't understand how the two of them going sightseeing could count as Gippal paying him back. The blond wasn't knowledgeable when it came to Bevelle sights; if they were going to actually frolick around staring at Yevon landmarks, it was Baralai who was going to do the showing, and Gippal the one in awe and surprise. So basically, when the blond claimed that he was acting out his apology, it actually meant more leisure time for him and more work for the praetor.

Yep. It made perfect sense, didn't it? Add a bucket of sarcasm.

And besides, even if Baralai hadn't minded the extra work (honestly, going around with Gippal should be called of as 'babysitting' instead), he still wouldn't have been that pumped. Why? It was just… dumb.

Sightseeing. Hello?

Baralai let out a pent up breath, shutting his eyes. He'd admit, it probably wouldn't have been so bad if Gippal had decided to go sightseeing a week ago. But the fact remained that currently, he and the blond were in the role of two overly happy men (cough cough hack hack), and Bevelle, seeing as it was the holiest spot in Spira, sported a small population of narrow-minded, Yevon-loving freaks.

Not to be blunt or anything.

Glaring at his reflection again, the praetor finally turned away from his mirror and headed slowly towards the door. Stepping over the threshold, he paused, unconsciously tapping his nails on the doorframe (definitely a habit he should get rid of) as he gazed intently at his feet, deep in thought. Personally, he wouldn't mind walking around Bevelle in his current state. He dealt with matters like these all the time; it was something called a job. He could cope with them.

No. It wasn't himself he was worried about. It was Gippal.

Hadn't the blond hated… no, despised his previous outing several days ago?

And that'd been by himself. The praetor couldn't even imagine the outburst that would inevitably come when the people of Bevelle witnessed the pair of them together. The two sexually disorientated men.

It was only a matter of time before Gippal would probably kill himself.

Had the blond even thought about this? Or had the whole sightseeing ordeal just been another randomly spurred exploit that the Al Bhed would later regret? Knowing Gippal, it was probably the latter.

Baralai shook his head.

He waited downstairs for five minutes, nodding at passing workers and feeling extremely bored. He should have been working right now… It was his house after all, and unlike some people, he enjoyed the feeling of satisfaction after knowing he'd done something to improve a possession. Frowning and tapping his foot against a box, the praetor shifted uncomfortably, eyes flickering up occasionally towards the clock in the kitchen, where he could just faintly read its numbers.

Where was Gippal?

Getting increasingly impatient, much to his surprise, seeing as he was usually a rather composed person, Baralai was just about to go back and pick up his painting job when the blond pranced into view, grinning his dazzling smile from up the stairs. The praetor rolled his eyes as Gippal slid down the length of the banister, dismounting with grace the silver-haired man didn't know he had.

He couldn't help but laugh.

"What?" Gippal asked curiously, crossing his arms.

Baralai shook his head. "Took you long enough."

The blond grinned cheekily at him. "Sorry. Makeup is ever so time-consuming, as I'm sure you'd know." He dodged away from the blow he knew Baralai was bound to throw at him, smirking. "Nah, sorry. I was calling someone."

"Oh?" The praetor raised an eyebrow.

"Jealous?" the blond teased.

"Keeping wishing." Baralai furiously forced away any waver in his voice. Clearing his throat, he frowned. "Anyway, not to be rude or anything, but just why did you decide to take me… er… sightseeing? Not that it isn't such a brilliant idea or anything," he added sarcastically.

The blond chuckled, ruffling his companion's hair. "This, my friend, is your problem. Loosen up, man. You shouldn't need an excuse to have fun. It's what life's for, you know? If you keep wasting it on politics and work, you'll be a second Nooj." He lowered his voice, leaning forward. Baralai blinked. "And you know no one wants that," the blond whispered, tugging lightly on a silver lock. "You've got all the wrinkles you need as it is."

"Hey!" Baralai yelped indignantly.

Gippal grinned, sliding past the pouting praetor and opening the door. Sunlight washed over the dim hall and Baralai squinted, watching as the blond slipped past the open door and stood, waiting, on the other side.

"Well?" the blond prompted.

The praetor had no choice but to follow, shrugging hair out of his eyes as he stepped outside. He closed the door, feeling considerably lighter as he did so, as well as experience a small dash of daring. He hadn't been outside in early morning on a weekday for ages. He could feel all previous flickers of doubt ebb away. Maybe Gippal had been right.

Almost as if he could tell what was going on in the praetor's mind, the blond grinned and offered his arm. "Shall we?" he asked in a mock accent, looking down his nose at Baralai, which was actually quite a difficult feat considering the fact that the praetor was still in the doorframe, therefore momentarily the taller of the two. Smiling, the silver-haired man slipped his arm through the blond's, and the two of them marched straight-backed across the lawn. It was only until the inner streets of Bevelle came into view did Baralai remember his previous concerns.

He stopped.

Beside him, the blond blinked, cocking his head. "Something up?" he asked softly, words mingling with the faint choruses of other voices. Baralai frowned.

"You don't have to do this for me, you know," he muttered, staring harshly at a wall. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Gippal's calculating stare, one that he so rarely wore, seeing as it was usually replaced by the more common confused look. Baralai bit back a smile.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Last time, you hated walking around in Bevelle. You don't have to do it again, Gippal. There are plenty of other ways to pay me back." The praetor smiled, gaze shifting from the wall to a blue eye. He inched forward, elbowing the blond in the side. "Coins would have been a better apology. You know. The yellow ones. That start with a 'g' and end with an 'il'."

The blond laughed at this, shaking his head at the praetor's grin. "Never knew you were bitter, 'Lai," he said softly, poking the other in a ticklish spot, and the praetor squirmed away, glaring. "And you're right, I don't have to do this, but I want to." The blond shrugged. "I did think about the consequences, you know."

"That's a first."

"Hey! I'm not that stupid!"

"Could have fooled me," the praetor replied back smugly, though happily enough. So Gippal did have a brain. He just… used it rarely. "So you really don't mind? You know you're wasting an entire day of your ever so carefully sculpted plan, practices and all."

Gippal raised an eyebrow, flicking Baralai on the nose. "They're not 'practices'. Hell, like either one of us needs practice in that department." He trailed off, laughing slightly, though when Baralai continued to stare expectantly at him, the blond sighed. "I just told it to you that way so you wouldn't punch me if I randomly kissed you or something. I mean, okay, we're both decent kissers, but what's the point if we're not used to each other?"

"Uh huh."

"And besides, what makes you think this entire day's going to go to waste? Don't flatter yourself, 'Lai. I'm doing this for me too. You know, to see how convincing we'll be in public before Sunday."

"Oh, and there I was, thinking you loved me," Baralai muttered sarcastically.

"Nice to know you don't wear that clunky coat all the time," Gippal piped up after a moment of silence. He frowned, pausing, before a small smile flickered across his face. "Speaking of which, I think you're missing something…" he whispered softly, grin growing. The blond inched forward, eyes fixed on the praetor's neck, who swallowed nervously.

"Really?" Baralai questioned, shifting uncomfortably. Gippal's hand found it's way to his, lacing their fingers together. "I… don't believe so."

"No, trust me, you're definitely missing something," the blond murmured, pressing his body against the other's, who attempted to back away before realizing that his back was to a wall. Crap.

Crap crap crap.

"Gippal…" he swallowed, shivered slightly as the blond's nose brushed softly against his neck.

"Hmm?" the Al Bhed drawled lazily, flicking out his tongue as he traced the other's collarbone. Baralai nearly jumped, tensing, though something about the way Gippal was holding his hand soothed him immediately, and he relaxed as the blond planted a trail of kisses onto his neck, barely touching him with his lips. It was so warm…

Baralai closed his eyes, letting out a small breath —


The blond smirked, pulling away as the praetor clamped a hand to the spot where he now had Gippal's teeth engraved against his skin, rubbing furiously. "Vampire," he muttered, pushing the other off of him as he stepped away from the wall, continuing their previous way with a slightly larger ominous air. "That was completely unnecessary."

Gippal shrugged, slinging an arm around the praetor's shoulder. "I thought it was. Your own fault for not wearing your lurid green garb when needed."

"How does that have anything to do with this?"

"Well, seeing as we're supposed to be together, there's gotta be visible proof; otherwise no one would believe us. I wouldn't have done that to you if you had been wearing your coat with that freaking high collar, but hey. Bad timing, 'Lai." The blond smirked.

"Honestly, you have some serious judgement issues."

"You know you love it."

Baralai had to smile, though didn't give the blond the satisfaction of seeing it by elbowing him sharply in the ribs. While the Al Bhed staggered into the nearby wall, letting out a tangle of colorful words, the praetor examined him intently. There was something different about him… Like he was more open, more… He couldn't find a word for it. Well, either way, Gippal had undoubtedly changed. It wasn't that obvious; you had to really know him to see it, but it was there.

The praetor shook his head, grinning, and dodging a rampaging tackle from behind, sending the blond flying to the earth again. Al Bheds. So simple.

They had reached the center square, bickering still rather loudly and randomly, the praetor nitpicking at Gippal's faults and the blond shooting back rather incoherent excuses and ramblings, unknowingly attracting a rather large and disorientated crowd. It was only until a wall had been built around them comprised of saucer-sized eyes and hanging mouths did the praetor notice, rolling his eyes and poking Gippal in the side, who blinked, looking around, and snapped crossly, "What?"

Yes, Gippal had definitely changed, and though something told Baralai it wasn't a permanent one, he was grateful for it anyway.

The blond kept his cool for the majority of the first hour, smirking and grinning seductively at men and women alike, though the start of his new habit was halted when the praetor literally beat the crap out of him and dragged him away from a group of young women, hissing, "You're gay, dammit!" The blond had been promptly tied and tethered for a five minute timeout in the middle of a bathroom, grinning weakly at all passerby, while Baralai tapped his foot angrily against a tile outside. It was only until the blond screamed rape from inside a bathroom stall as he wormed his way away from a rather menacing old man did the praetor pity him and let him go, though only after several doses of firaga spells and a rather furious beating with a sledgehammer.

Gippal decided not to flirt after that, sticking close to his possessive, angry, and surprisingly evil epitome of a boyfriend for the day.

They passed several food stalls without incident, though disaster struck again when the two of them walked into a clothes department, when Gippal tensed, turned a violent shade of green, and lurched behind a bewildered Baralai, quivering.

"Er… Gippal?"

"Shut up and pretend you're alone!"

Baralai refrained from pointing out the fact that the two of them were standing in front of a row of mirrors, and that the only beings who wouldn't be able to see the blond would either have to be on drugs or be plain blind.

Only until a man in a repulsive neon coat (Baralai wrinkled his nose, feeling as if he'd gotten stupider just by looking at it) passed did the blond sigh and straighten up, only to be attacked by said man. The Al Bhed let out a rather feminine scream, raced around in several large circles with the man clinging to his leg, and promptly began beating his assaulter on the head, who seemed to overlook the fact that he was getting his brains dashed out and instead was overjoyed from the fact that the blond was touching him.

Baralai rubbed his temples, stood awkwardly by the sidelines as the number of onlookers increased, muttered about how stupid this was, and joined the fray, grabbing the stranger by the ears and hurtling him outside the shop, where he landed on his bottom and blinked dazedly at the sun.

Five minutes later, Gippal was his usual pompous self again, telling anyone who cared to know about his epic struggle and heroic escape from the neon hermit. The praetor gave him several minutes of glory before frog-marching the blond out of the store.

It was like babysitting all over again.

He sighed, and the blond looked down at him, surprised. "Something up?" he asked softly as the two of them walked past a saleswoman, whose glazed eyes were fixed intently on them and apparently had no idea she was being robbed.

"No, not really."

"If you say so." The blond grinned at him, his arm finding its way over the praetor's shoulders again. Behind them, a group of girls pouted and turned away, while two toothless men stared at them with hungry expressions in their eyes, reaching out for them as they passed. One of them caught a fistful of Baralai's pants, who raised an eyebrow and tried shaking him off. The man held on tighter, now giggling insanely.

"Lookit! I got ta praeto'!" he said hoarsely to his friend, who hadn't been nearly as successful in his mad groping.

Gippal cleared his throat.

Several screams and punches later, the blond slung his arm over the praetor's shoulders again. "So. Shall we continue?"

The praetor had a sudden newfound affection for the blond.

(1) Gasp! Do I sense… foreshadowing? Mwahahahahaha!

Nah, just kidding.

(2) Gippal: You… EVIL WOMAN!

N. Arishima: Why, whatever do you mean?

Gippal: You… you've been… You've been purposely making me out as some kind of ditz! I knew something was up after I fell of a couch two times in a row! You—

N. Arishima: Nonsense! Now, go and… and ravish Baralai or something. I'm busy— /type type/

Gippal: Aha! You're doing it again! It's all plotted out, isn't it? I mean, it's all too random to be a coincid— WAIT! IT WAS YOU! YOU made me go down on Nooj! Why, you little—

- This conversation has been deemed further inappropriate for virgin ears -

- End of Part One -