It was a building pressure. A feeling so intense that it drove any other thought from his mind; leaving only blind desire and why isn't he going faster. One hand for himself and another to brace his body against the wall, forehead pressed against forearm as his hand clenches and back aches from the angle. Steel calloused hands tighten around his waist, drunken haze clearing enough for want and need to increase in priority.

Breath warms the back of Shinon's neck, a tanned face presses against his unbound scarlet strands. He tries to speak; words muffled and gargled in attempted communication. Shinon ignores the murmurs, arching his back to relieve the angle and working ever closing to the burning heat that is not yet his.

"Hee…y-yer-hee," the man tries, lifting his head slightly and spitting out red hair that sticks to his moistened lips. Shinon shakes his head, pressing harshly against the mass at his back with a heady pant. 'Don't say it, don't say it, don'tfuckingsayit,' he urges silently, working to bring himself over the edge quickly, that edge that is so intense and severe, promising instant gratification.

Pressure building, friction increasing, binding waves of pleasure pulling the breath from his lungs in gasping heaves, encouraging the man at his back to smile against his sweat strewn skin and grip his hips in a white knuckled grasp. "Yer, ah- yer a nice gal, Shina," Gatrie finally gasps out, face buried in sunset strands.

Shinon groans in frustration, hand fisting against the cold wall and muscles bunching in his back as he grinds his teeth. In little more than a second the fierce heat and pleasure switch with discomfort and a humidity that threatens his ability to breathe. The pressure is still there, he wants to believe that it doesn't matter that Gatrie thinks he's a girl, it's still sex, and he doesn't want it to matter. Shinon bites his lip and closes his eyes, bracing his second arm against the building he's spread against and resting forehead on forearm, head sagging against his crossed forearms as his elbows are ground into the harsh surface. Furious. Disappointed.

Again.

A shudder races through Gatrie, chest pressed flat against Shinon's sweat strewn flesh, groaning into familiar garnet strands, blue eyes fluttering in drunken exhaustion as he pulls away after a moment. Shinon doesn't turn his head, breathing deeply as fallen scarlet hair sticks to his sweat slicked forehead and back. The distinct sound of Gatrie falling to the ground makes him turn, shrugging his shirt unsteadily over his shoulder and fastening pants over his frustration.

/

There's a man at the end of the bar. Shinon can't tell what he's drinking; too wrapped up in the smell and oblivion of his own mug to care, but the man still drags his attention from the swirling depths of his drink.

It's the guy's hair, Shinon decides slowly, sneaking looks out of the corner of his eye every time he remembers to. He can't tell the color, the lighting is too dim and smoke makes the overhead air hazy. From the distance it looks familiar, but he knows the strands can't feel the same as sun heated ones that are left ruffled by passing breezes. He eventually stops sneaking glances, he's almost sure he's failed at remaining unnoticed anyway, and openly stares at the fuzzy spikes of hair. Lightning flashes outside, so he turns to look out the window for a moment, waiting for the answering roar. He tries to blindly grab his beer as he stares. He is unsuccessful the first and second try and swivels his head in annoyance, accidentally back handing the mug so that it skids across the counter. It topples on the corner, just out of reach, revolving slowly before being righted by a large hand. Shinon glances up at the stranger standing at the back of his chair; one arm stretched over his shoulder to steady his drink while the other traps his body against the wooden counter.

Coin is tossed on the bar top while he's pulled off the stool and led up a staircase in another hallway. Shinon's eyes are locked on the man's hair, it looks light brown and he thinks it's a little shorter than he wants it. In the dim light he can almost convince himself that it glimmers like gold and absently reaches out to touch it. The man thinks it's a request and Shinon finds himself backed against the wall, mouth occupied and hands fitting against the bones of his hips. The strands are coarse and knotted; his fingernails catch on bits of grit and dirt as he clutches at the dust of hair on the man's neck.

He eventually finds himself backed against a bed, clothing whisked away as hands learn the planes and shape of his body. It's strange, Shinon thinks in his drunken daze; he can see the man's eyes, can reach his hands up and tangle in the hair that's shorter than another's. He doesn't need to make sure the lighting is dim or that the other is too drunk to notice his lack of breasts. The man reaches to release Shinon's bound hair, but stops when a pale hand grips his, knuckles white and fingers clenched despite his previous thoughts. The man knows what Shinon is, another hot-blooded male beorc looking for a lay, but Shinon can't bring himself to release everything. Even here, mouth plundered by a foreign tongue and unknown flesh pressed against his own, he thinks of Gatrie's hands roving through the bloody mane and can't bear to have the feeling eclipsed by another's unfamiliar fingers.

Shinon refuses to give the stranger the chance to think of him as another, needs to be recognized as a man and not as whatever whore the luster of his hair can cause the man to think of. He isn't sure why he's never destroyed Gatrie's illusion, never told him that the long haired redhead he occasionally screws in alleyways after he hasn't been able to pick up any of the local girls is the same redhead that he occasionally buys dinner for after a job. Gatrie's different, he thinks as his legs are pushed back. He tries to understand the hold Gatrie has over his senses, but the blond mercenary's always had that affect, since the first job a vagabond sniper had taken for a ragtag town on the outskirts of Daein.

He remembers how he'd arrived and begun arguing the price of his services, how the bandits that had laid claim to the little prairie community had rushed him in the middle of his negotiations with the mayor. Most of all, he remembers the flash of blue that had drawn his gaze as a blonde knight stumbled out of the town's only inn, lance twirling absently as knocked the attacker on the head, calling out a greeting to the ruffled sniper. Blue eyes dance before his own as the reflections fade, they aren't the right shade of blue, but they're close enough to convince him that he's enjoying the feeling of his back against the stiff bedding and the stretch of his leg over his companion's shoulder. Blindsided as his body tenses, as his lungs stop functioning and he notices the distinct sheen of moisture on the man's chest, Shinon reaches up and pulls the man's face towards his, tongue fighting with the intensity his heart can't yet muster.

He wakes alone in the morning, hair unkempt and twisted from its constant restraint in a black tie and clothing still on the floor. The urges are gone, for now, and he isn't sure what his companion's name was. He thinks about quitting odd men in bars and confronting Gatrie.

Again.

/

He's tearing apart his bed and ruffling through his clothes, trying to find his lost hair tie before he leaves for town with the elder moss heads and Gatrie. His red mane floats across his shoulder, wisps falling in front of his forehead and obscuring his vision as he searches. Under his bed, in his arrow cache, behind the cupboard, Shinon kicks his bed frame in annoyance as the lanky end of his hair swishes in the breeze from the open window, swirling around his waist in an arc as a more forceful gust passes through the opening.

He turned as the door opened. "Hey Shinon, ready to go?" Gatrie isn't wearing his armor, it's hard to cuddle up close to the lasses with all that bulk, and steps into the room smiling before catching sight of Shinon's unbound hair.

The sniper swears, hands rushing to pull the strands back as Gatrie stands near the doorway, hand up to hold the door open and mouth slightly agape. "Fucking knock, moron," Shinon snarls. It's been a few months since Shina's last appearance, and he's certain the blonde was too drunk to remember anything specific. Shinon still looks nervous, both arms raised to keep his hair away from his face as the breeze continues tossing the ruby mass into the air, gleaming strands catching Gatrie's eyes.

"Hee, it's not like you're naked," Gatrie replies, but thinks that maybe he was. Brown eyes opened wide in angry alarm, sunset strands cascading down his back and shoulders, and Gatrie thinks he recognizes him. Which is foolish; of course Gatrie recognizes him, it's Shinon, hair up or down, but the blonde thinks that maybe he's just seen more of the sniper than he's ever seen before. He sees a glimmer in the chocolate gaze that reminds him of Tor Garen, ready and willing, desperate and wishing.

Gatrie grins and digs into his pocket. "I found this the other day," he says, pulling an intact black hair tie and tossing it to Shinon. "I found it in-, in…," the blonde mercenary found it caught in the buckles of his gauntlet and doesn't want to think of how it got there. Not with Shinon looking ready to fit arrow to string, "…in ah-, in the hallway." Gatrie can't suppress the silly chuckle when's he's done, it's easier to laugh than make waves, he reasons.

Shinon turns around to let his hair fall back and straighten before pulling it together, lip between teeth and hands shaking as he catches Gatrie's reflection in the mirror on the wall. He twists the thick cord quickly around his bunched hair in a swift practiced motion and faces Gatrie, face set and hands shoved in pockets so the shaking can't be seen.

"Oscar and Boyd are waiting outside. I heard that a bunch of people have come to town this week for the parade," Gatrie gushes, ignoring that distinct pangs that had made his lungs forget how to function when the hair had slithered from Shinon's fingers like a murdered waterfall. "Hee hee, I bet there'll be new ladies in town, dontcha' think?" he calls over his shoulder as he turned down the hallway.

Shinon follows slowly, shoulders slumped and eyes half lidded. "Yeah, maybe," he answers, suppressing the urge to pound his forehead against the doorframe as he passes.

/

"Thing's a fuckin' con show," Shinon mutters, leaning against the railing outside the bar and watching the dancers twirl down the main road in the evening torchlight.

"Really?"

Shinon nods sloppily, eyes blurred and movements clumsy. "Chyeah, it's got all dem overpriced stuffs an' half naked gals flutterin' 'round, all shiney 'n 'spensive," Shinon answers, passing the bottle of booze to Boyd absently.

"I don't mind the gals," Boyd replies, happily receiving the bottle.

"Course ya don't, stickin' some gold down dem flashy skirts is der only way yer'll get laid," Shinon laughs. Jugglers are coming down the midway tossing flaming objects and swords into the air. Shinon reaches for the bottle and miss steps, landing heavily against the railing. Boyd giggles, a silly little Gatrie giggle that makes the sniper look around for the mercenary. The blonde had gone to pursue a little pink haired floozy earlier. Boyd wanders off clumsily after Shinon reclaims the bottle, left to his own devices as the jugglers march on.

People line the main drag, leaning against horse railing in front of shops or cheering from seats on rooftops. The all too familiar giggle overcomes the roar of the crowd. Shinon turns to see Gatrie leaning against the building to the right on the bar, an arm around his girl and grin firmly set in place. Shinon thinks he looks happy. His big blue eyes are all lit up and reflecting the torches and fireworks. The floozy is leaning against his shoulder; head barely reaching the mercenary's shoulder. Shinon thinks Gatrie could do better than that as he looks away.

'I'm better than that', he thinks unhappily. The bottle drops from Shinon's fingers, sloshing wine liberally over the shoes of a stranger to his left. It rolls down the street, keeping pace with the parade. He's too distracted by its progression to hear the man's angry shout.

He blinks as his vision turns into a swirl of colors and a pain erupts in his lower back, where the horse railing is biting harshly into his flesh. The man is as drunk as Shinon thinks he himself might be. He coughs as a fist is buried in his gut, slurred words tumbling like water from his lips. He collapses against the railing, an arm hooked over the wooden frame as he blinks and tries to stand. Once upright he delivers his fist to the man's nose, hearing a distinct crack and grinning as blood slides from the area like mud. His knuckles hurt but he doesn't care, until a hand fists in his shirt and presses him back, a fist drawn back above his head.

Shinon struggles to remain upright when his shirt is suddenly released, the man flying away with a dazed expression. Gatrie's standing before Shinon with a huge 'aren't I the best' grin that makes the sniper feel like he's not a drunk with hurt knuckles. The pink haired ditz comes over and drapes her little body across Gatrie's arm, all smiles and praise. Gatrie starts to turn away, grinning and soaking in the attention.

Shinon wants to kill her, stab her little eyes out and throw her corpse to the dogs. A noise escapes his throat and he reaches out and catches on Gatrie's arm, hand tugging earnestly on the tanned elbow. Gatrie turns, as if he just remembering who he'd come to rescue. Shinon opens his mouth to talk, throat suddenly feeling scratchy. He stumbles forward, hair whipping around and is steadied by Gatrie. He catches Gatrie's eyes with his own.

The black cord snaps at the sudden movement, already frayed from the months it'd spent wrapped around the edges of a blue gauntlet, and the red mane falls. Lying against the drop of his shoulder, strands falling to frame his eyes, and ends curling in the small of his back. Gatrie sees that person again, all hope and wishes and doubts, and reaches to touch the murdered waterfall.

Shinon watches the pink haired floozy huff and tap her foot impatiently, so he grins and rests against Gatrie's body entirely, face pressed against Gatrie's neck. He hears the floozy shout something, pfft, little girly's cold, and cracks his eye open to watch her stomp into the bar by herself as Gatrie slings one of the sniper's arms across his broad shoulders.

"You're gonna be the death of my romantic life, yanno?" Gatrie calls down, but he's still grinning as he wraps another arm around the sniper's waist, fingers happy to weave through the red mass as he leads Shinon back to the Greil Mercenary compound.

/

Shinon's badmouthing Ike for sending them to the backwaters of Gallia to cut up a few bandits, Gatrie isn't too annoyed, though he still wishes they could have gone in fall instead. He's eyeing a skinny lass dancing to a lute's rhythm in the center of the floor as he consumes his whiskey. The trip wasn't too long, they're back now and in a bar they haven't been to in a while. Shinon only remembers fragments from the parade in town, a month past, but grins helplessly every time he does.

The blonde mercenary stands suddenly, attempting to talk, finding the process too difficult and giggles instead, traipsing off to chat up the little dancer. The sniper follows his path with russet eyes, tossing more coin to the bar keep and consuming his fresh drink. He's been gathering a few looks from fellow patrons, a little black haired ditz keeps shooting glances his way, lashes fluttering and hiding behind her hand as she giggles. He doesn't care about any of them and watches as Gatrie leans against a far wall, dancer in tow, and chats up the woman. The sniper bites his lip uncertainly; the blonde's pretty far-gone and Shinon doesn't think he's too far behind. Without a second thought he slips the new tie free and allows the ruby strands to fall. He pushes them behind his right shoulder and sips his beverage.

The little dancer hardly notices when she's pushed to another willing patron as Gatrie walks back to the bar. A familiar cascade of red has caught his attention and he stumbles along to investigate.

Before long Gatrie is stumbling up stairs, a hand buried in thick strands and the other pushed to keep balance against the wall. The actions that follow are familiar to Shinon, they don't make it to the bed, per usual, but the wall is fine when he's braced against it on his arm. He keeps his neck straight; he knows how much Gatrie likes to feel the red hair tickling along his chest. He thought it would feel different, thinks that Gatrie must have figured things out by now.

The pressure is there, heat intense, and edge looming. Shinon is too caught up in himself to notice the way Gatrie doesn't spread his hands over the sniper's sweat strewn chest, how he keep his hands planted firmly on the lean hips. Shinon groans aloud, voice mixing with the rush of breath passing through the blonde mercenary's lips. He sags forward, mouth wide in a drunken grin as he jumps off that elusive edge in triumph.

Gatrie presses his open mouth against the back of Shinon's neck, teeth scraping and face struggling deeper into the sunset strands. "I ah-, I like you lots, Shina," he whispers at last, thighs tensing and teeth grinding. Shinon stares at the wall, body heaving and heart jumping. He presses his face to the wall silently as Gatrie regains his breath, hands clenched and eyes shut tight. Wishing. Wanting.

Fucking again.

/

Gatrie is asleep in his room when Shinon sneaks in. They'd returned to the compound that morning, Gatrie humming about fantastic girls when questioned by Boyd.

The sniper shuts the door softly and approaches the blonde mercenary's bed, hand outstretched to shake the man awake. He pauses, thoughts racing, heart screaming, common sense beckoning. He reaches back and releases his hair in a motion, decision found. He leans forward again; arm outstretched, and watches his hand quiver from side to side. He clenches it tightly and waits until his knuckles are a dusty white before releasing. A frustrated noise catches in his throat as the tremors continue. He slowly drops to the floor and leans back against the bed, head in hands, eyes shut tight and lip caught between teeth. It's not the hard, he thinks, it's just Gatrie.

Just Gatrie.

Just I'm gonna fuck you and your sense of how everything's supposed to be Gatrie. Knees pressed together to form a support, Shinon lets his head fall forward, hands dropping listlessly to the floor. He thinks about the pink haired floozy and little dancer.

I'm better than that, he whispers, voice small, in his head. He doesn't believe it.

He's aware of movement on his face, of the sensation of something sliding down his flesh, but ignores it. Tells himself that it's not really there, so it doesn't matter, the small drops of moisture that dot his pant leg merely brought on by imagination.

Gatrie's lying awake, staring at the darkness of the wall. His stomach clenches painfully as he registers the slight noises coming from the mass of red at his back, heard even if the sniper convinces himself they aren't real.

/

Shinon's been in this situation so many times, hates himself every time it happens, but doesn't know how to fix it.

His back is against the wall, shoulder blades protesting as his skin burns white hot. The single candlestick on the wall hardly helps his vision, rain lashing against the windows and clouds stealing moonlight. He knows it's going to be rough, from the man's harsh grip on his waist to the way the foreign mouth attacks his relentlessly.

He thinks he's alright with that, thinks he wants the slow burn of unaided friction and feral heat in the hard eyes that try to catch his own. He shivers as a cold hand moves up his shirt; skin prickling as blunt fingertips work their way up. A hand fists in his bound hair, pulling the strands harshly. Shinon catches the hand before it pulls the tie from his hair. Hips buck against his own harshly and teeth bite his lips. Shinon struggles with the hand in his hair, mouth released in favor of the expanse of his throat. His other arm is pinned behind his body, aching and tingling as he attempts to shift it.

He snarls and swears at the man, attempts to drag the hand away from his hair mostly unsuccessful. The sniper hears the creaking of wood as his mouth is reoccupied and ignores it. The back of his head is beginning to ache as he's pressed further against the wall. He hears the words falling from the man's lips as they struggle, lips unengaged and knuckles turning white from their fight, but can't understand them. A flash from outside lights the man and Shinon realizes they're still in the hallway, because Gatrie is staring at him from the stairwell, blue eyes impossibly wide in the clarity of the not-yet-drunk.

Shinon shivers as the hand pins his to the wall and the other starts on the buckle of his belt. Gatrie's expression clouds and he starts to turn when Shinon makes a noise. Shinon frees his tingling arm and knocks the man away from his face. He shouts, doesn't know what, only that it's loud and Gatrie can't just leave now that he's seen.

The man isn't giving up and forces himself flush with the sniper, blunt fingers working over Shinon's body and frustrated promises whispered in the shell of his ear.

Shinon sees the shadow on the floor still and yells at the man bruising his wrists to fuck off. He knocks the other away and stumbles toward the stairway, vision suddenly blurred and feet forgetting how to function. Gatrie can't leave, not now, not ever again. His red tail is caught and yanked, making him slide to the floor. Shinon is ready to beat the man senseless; he stands when his hair is yanked and stumbles back towards the man.

Gatrie beats him to it, striding past Shinon and hooking his fist in the other's stubbled jaw. The man doesn't move after he falls. Gatrie turns back to the sniper, hands clenching as if he's not sure he should have done that. Shinon only laughs, a hoarse jarring sound that vibrates past his bruises and bitten lips. He steps forward again, wall used for support, and presses his lips to the blonde mercenary's, tired of games, tired of waiting and wanting.

He's surprised when Gatrie immediately returns the gesture, an arm used to keep Shinon supported against his broad chest. There are words in his ear that he thinks he might remember later.

Somehow he finds himself pressed against the softness of Gatrie's mattress, he isn't sure how they got back to the base, doesn't care at the moment. Steel calloused finger flirt across his skin, playing around the edge of his belt and lips tracing patterns across the expanse of his neck.

It's all different, the sniper realizes, his own hands rising to help shed his clothing. This isn't his back arched at an odd angle so he can hide behind his hair. This isn't his shoulder blades pressed together and tense, absorbing the harsh motion of bucking hips against unforgiving wooden walls.

Shinon seizes his chance and digs his fingers into the blonde fluff that tops Gatrie's head, raising his head to bury his face in the sun kissed strands. Familiar hands ghost up and down his arms, bringing warmth to frozen flesh as Shinon reoccupies his mouth. A hand reaches up; smoothing the fly away strands and fingers gently probing the abused area at the back of the sniper's skull.

Shinon is overcome with sensation. The firm chest pressed against his own, the sunny strands soft against his long fingers, the unmistakable desire radiating from the body covering his own. The sniper feels a touch on his tie and reacts instinctively; hand racing to his head and grasping the other, eyes suddenly wide and harsh and breath caught in throat.

Gatrie pauses for a second, breathing no easier than the sniper, and rested his forehead against the other's. "Don't worry, Shinon," he whispers, grinning that grin that makes Shinon believe he is the best. "I won't cover you up," he distracts the sniper with a kiss, letting long fingers weave with his own and sliding his second arm up the lean body, black tie pulled free and tossed on the floor.

Everything feels so new that Shinon can't quite wrap his mind around the situation, his heart is still yelling, his common sense murdered, and his thoughts race slower. Gatrie tangles a hand in his hair and lets the other slid pointedly down the center of his chest, fingers outstretched to feel as much skin as possible. Grinning so widely and openly that Shinon thinks he'll go blind.

He wakes the next morning warm and covered with a mass of muscle and limbs. He isn't sure what to think; ruby hair strewn across the bed, his clothes on the floor, an arm around his waist that he isn't sure should be there.

Gatrie yawns loudly, head turning to catch the wary eyes of the sniper. "Mornin' Shinon, sleep good?" the blonde mercenary questions, pulling the lean body further against his own and smoothing his lips against ones that threaten to smile before his question is answered. Shinon relaxes; his heart's done yelling, his thoughts proceed at a slow untroubled pace, and he doesn't mourn the loss of his common sense.

"Could let me answer, moron," Gatrie only laughs his silly laugh and buried his face in sunset strands.