Title: Passion
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: Gippal/Baralai
Prompt: Chocolate (I made this up all by myself since I'm not really sure how the whole prompt system works. Lemme alone! I'm a newbie on LJ!)
Summary: The desert is a hot place. The inside of a tent can be hotter.

The heat of the desert was pounding and aggressive like two sex-starved lovers. Concentrated rays of sunlight beat down on the sandy Bikanel Desert, making it temporarily uninhabitable for some of its common fauna.

Baralai's fingers tugged feebly on his collar in a vain attempt to allow his body to cool off. To his dismay, it seemed that he was the only one severely bothered by the intense heat today. Paine's face was only mildly flushed, Nooj was carrying most of the luggage without complaint, and Gippal was used to the heat, having lived at Home for most of his life.

"Hey, Baralai! You okay back there?" Gippal swiveled around on his heel to stare at a lagging Baralai.

Baralai displayed the content smile Gippal had grown accustomed to. "I'm fine, Gippal. Why do you ask?"

Gippal paused and waited for Baralai to catch up. "You look a little sick, 'Lai."

Out of embarrassment rather than concern, Baralai reached up to touch his own face. To his surprise, it was cold and clammy. "I'm fine. Really. Shall we go on?"

"All right, all right." Gippal crossed his arms and started walking, making sure to walk slow enough that Baralai could keep up. "You Spirans sure are stubborn, y'know?" Gippal tried hard not to laugh when Baralai wrinkled up his nose in agitation.

"You're a part of Spira as well."

Gippal fell silent and watched Baralai's cream-colored lips pull down into a fairly dignified frown. He stretched, pretending that Baralai's answer hadn't bothered him at all. But he could only hang onto the idea for so long before he finally cracked.

"No one's ever called me 'a part of Spira' before."

"How could you not be?" Baralai's voice was full of passion as usual, but something was different about it. Like that calm voice was struggling to maintain volume. "All of us—the humans, the Ronsos… Even the Shoopuffs—We all live here together on this planet called Spira. We may believe in different things, but…"

"But…?" Gippal prodded.

"In the end, we are all the same. Appearances and beliefs are just a fancy guise meant to deceive us all."

"Well, that was kind of deep, wasn't it?" Gippal snickered at the serious look on Baralai's face. "Honestly, I think you're the only Yevonite that believes Al Bheds and the Yevons can live in harmony or that we're all 'the same'."

"Well," murmured Baralai through a breathy sigh, "you must be the only Al Bhed who thinks so as well."

"Maybe." Gippal used his hands to shadow his face and peered out into the distance. Nooj and Paine were farther ahead than he thought, and the possibility of fighting off any straying fiends with just two people seemed rather bleak. "Talk about a lack of courtesy, eh, 'Lai?"

"I would imagine they're grateful for the alone time." Baralai slowed to a stop. Almost immediately, Gippal was alarmed.

"Are you sure you're okay? You look pale."

There was that smile, the one that was supposed to mean everything was fine. "I told you I was fine. Just a little… lightheaded, I suppose."

Wordlessly, Gippal advanced towards Baralai and in one fluid motion tore off Baralai's intricate religious robes.

"Wh—What are you doing, Gippal?!" Baralai stumbled backward and dropped the provisions he was carrying.

Gippal ignored Baralai's question and instead focused on removing the rest of Baralai's outer clothing. It wasn't until all that was left was a single lightweight shirt, his pants, and his boots that Gippal finally backed up from Baralai.

"What in Spira is wrong with you?"

Gippal pressed his hands against Baralai's cheeks. "Your skin is pretty cold for being in the desert. I should've made you take off that unnecessarily heavy clothing sooner."

Baralai's breath hitched in his throat when Gippal cocked his head to the side and softened his expression.

"Heat exhaustion," Gippal explained. "It can lead to heat stroke if we're not careful. I've gotta get you back to camp as quickly as possible."

"But I can't—"

Gippal rolled his visible eye and gathered up Baralai's precious clothes. He slung them over his shoulder, along with the provisions Baralai had been carrying, and then turned so that his back was facing Baralai. "Get on."

Baralai's brows rose in utter confusion. "Get on…?"

"My back," Gippal specified. "I don't think you'll be able to make it back to camp on your own without collapsing."

Baralai took several protesting steps forward, but when the world started to spin a bit too quickly, he grabbed Gippal's shoulder for support. "I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize. Just get on!"

Tentatively, Baralai wrapped his arms around Gippal's neck, and Gippal grabbed Baralai by the back of his thighs to support him. "A little awkward," said Gippal, "but it'll work."

It wasn't Baralai that was heavy—it was those blasted layers of clothing and that robe of his. The extra weight didn't matter, though. What mattered was making sure Baralai didn't die out in the middle of nowhere.

"Hey, 'Lai? Why didn't you say you felt weak? We would have slowed down or made you take off all that clothing sooner."

Baralai rested his chin on Gippal's armored shoulder. "We all have our weaknesses. You're underage, Nooj could decide he wants to die at any moment, and I've lived such a sheltered life in the temples that no one believed I could survive trying out for the Crimson Squad."

"But you did!" Gippal enthusiastically shouted.

"Careful," Baralai warned. "There are still fiends out and about."

Gippal adjusted his volume accordingly. "So you came out here to try and prove you could do something on your own? Something like that?"

"No… It's not that I wanted to do something on my own. I wanted to… complete something. My pilgrimage…" Baralai trailed off thoughtfully. "Well, it obviously didn't go very well if I'm here."

Gippal squinted through the brightness of the desert. He spotted the camp site, but it was still a good two miles away. "Now that I think about it, you've lived your entire life in Bevelle's temple, haven't you?"

"Mhmm. It was a wonderful place to be. I could feel the Fayth most strongly there." Baralai wrapped is arms tighter around Gippal's neck.

"So that's why you're so intolerant to the heat. All the temples are kept icy cold except for Kilika's. Then you come to Bikanel Desert, the hottest place on Spira. You're a strange one."

"I agree," murmured Baralai.

The remaining two miles to the campsite were relatively silent, and Gippal thought it was safe to assume Baralai was asleep. When Baralai's grip around Gippal's neck was gone, Gippal had to lean forward and readjust his hold on Baralai's thighs—which, to his surprise, were more muscular than it seemed they should be.

Gippal couldn't help but smile as he realized Baralai must trust him an awful lot to be carried piggy back style—especially when Gippal's hands were pressed against securely against Baralai's thighs. Thighs which were probably so smooth and beautiful and chocolate-brown. Baralai probably tasted like chocolate, too.

Perhaps, thought Gippal, it was a bit wrong to be considering the fact that Baralai would most definitely taste like chocolate, especially when Baralai was in such a critical state. But he couldn't help himself. A certain sort of happiness burst free when Baralai frowned or smiled—or did anything that broke the carefully constructed mask Baralai so often wore.

It was slightly depressing when Gippal arrived at the campsite and moved the flap to the tent he shared with Baralai aside. It was so much cooler in the tent than outside. Carefully, he crouched down and leaned back so that Baralai fell onto his sleeping back as gently as possible.

"Baralai," Gippal whispered as quietly as possible. "You awake?" He smiled when Baralai's eyes remained closed and his lips remained ever-so-slightly parted. "Good. Rest is key to recovery." Gippal softly fell to his knees and leaned over Baralai. As gently as possible, he removed the blue headband from around Baralai's head, and grinned childishly as sweaty white hair fell on chilled brown skin.

As he had done so many times at Home, he retrieved rags, moistened them with lukewarm bottled water, and placed them on various parts of Baralai's body. Gippal silently congratulated himself for staying on task, and when he was finished, he flopped onto his stomach on his own sleeping bag and stretched contently.

--

Dusk approached within a few hours, and Gippal sleepily rolled out of his sleeping bag to check on Baralai.

"Hey, 'Lai? Feelin' better?" Gippal crossed the small distance to Baralai's sleeping bag and sat down beside him. "Are you still asleep?"

Baralai's eyes fluttered open when Gippal removed the rag from his forehead. "Wh—What…?"

"Ah! You're awake. You had me kinda worried."

"I'm sorry," mumbled Baralai. "It's… dark outside?"

Gippal nodded. "You slept for a good four or five hours. Maybe you were just exhausted from all that fiend extermination and the heat got to you because of that." Gippal watched as Baralai slowly sat up, ready to catch Baralai if he toppled over.

"You carried me all the way back?"

"Questions, questions! Really, 'Lai. Your health is pretty damn important. I would have carried you a hundred miles if I knew it would help you."

Baralai offered a different smile this time—a shy smile. "Thank you."

"It's all 'I'm sorry's and 'thank you's with you, isn't it?"

Baralai looked aside. "I do feel much better. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to carry me all that way."

"It was two miles, 'Lai. Besides, you weren't heavy at all. Your robes, on the other hand…" Gippal jabbed his thumb toward the heap of clothes in the corner of the tent. "No wonder you ended up with heat exhaustion. Those kinds of clothes keep the heat trapped between your skin and the clothes."

"Gippal…"

"Don't apologize again, or I'll have to come up with torturous methods to break you from your conditioned politeness." Gippal reached for one of the bottled waters, unscrewed the cap, and pushed the mouth of the bottle against Baralai's lips. "Now, drink."

Without much protest, Baralai parted his lips and drank, although it did make him feel like an invalid. They sat there in silence, with Gippal tipping the bottle every so often to make Baralai drink. When the bottle was empty, Gippal tossed it aside and started intently into Baralai's coffee-colored eyes.

"Yes?" asked Baralai, with uncertainty flooding his voice.

"You're really important to me, Baralai."

"And you're really important to me, too." Baralai smiled and tilted his head to the side. "Someday, I'll make this up to you."

"I'd rather my life not be put into danger so you could save me, but thanks for the offer." Gippal pressed his hands against Baralai's forehead and cheeks, and was pleased to find that they were at a normal temperature.

Baralai watched as one green eye scanned his face, his neck, his torso and stomach, his thighs… "Have I grown an extra body part?"

"No, it's not that." Gippal's brows furrowed as he thought of a reply. "You just look a lot… thinner without all those robes on. I see you have a bit of muscle, but I guess most Summoners are fragile beings after all."

"I'm not fragile." There was that frown again, and once more, Gippal was positive that Baralai would taste like chocolate. "You said yourself that it was my exhaustion and my garments."

Gippal smiled. "At any rate, you should get back to sleep. I'm glad you're doing a lot better." He stood and tromped back to his sleeping bag. Before going to sleep for the night, Gippal proclaimed, "Us Spirans gotta stick together, right?"

Baralai laughed quietly. "That's right." He ran his fingers through his hair, wrinkled his nose when he felt the remnants of sweat, and then realized his headband was gone. "Gippal, did you take—"

But Gippal was quick to feign instant sleep.

"I know it isn't possible to fall asleep that quickly! Gippal!"

"Whaaat?" Gippal rolled onto his side and grinned mischievously at Baralai.

"I would appreciate it if you returned my headband."

"It was all gross and sweaty, so I threw it out." Baralai's jaw dropped a bit. "I'm kidding! It's over there in your pile of clothes.

Baralai slowly got up and shuffled over to his clothing.

"Hey, 'Lai?"

"Yes, Thief?"

Gippal ignored the low blow. "If you had to taste me, what do you think I would taste like?"

"Peach yogurt," came Baralai's instant response.

"…What?"

Baralai shrugged lightly as he replaced his headband. "It's my favorite food."

"That's… a bit weird." Gippal laughed. After a moment of silence, the vague feeling of carrying Baralai filled his hands. It tingled. Then the imagined chocolate taste filled his mouth. Not imagined, Gippal thought. He was positive Gippal tasted like chocolate. "I really wish your skin wasn't so dark."

Baralai laughed and stared bemusedly at Gippal. "And why is that? So I'd have a better excuse for being heat tolerant."

"No…" Gippal stood and walked the small space over to Baralai. "It makes you unique. Every time I look at you, it makes me want chocolate."

"You're telling me looking at me makes you hungry?"

Gippal nodded. "You really…" He laughed and turned his head away to avoid the temptation. But Baralai would have none of that.

"I really what…?"

Gippal pressed one hand against Baralai's cheek and looked at him quizzically. "You really make me want to do this." He tilted his head and pressed his mouth against Baralai so forcefully that the two almost fell against the fragile tent wall.

Baralai had little experience in this situation, having been locked up solitarily in temples most of the time. Hesitantly, he opened his mouth and Gippal was more than happy to brush his tongue against Baralai's.

The feeling was electric. But Gippal pulled away with a satisfied grin. "I was right. You taste like velvety chocolate."

"Wait! I—I'm not quite sure what you taste like."

Gippal grinned and wrapped his arms securely around Baralai's waist. "Oh?"

Baralai's face flushed a deep red, but he refused to look away.

"I don't want you to get sick, though," said Gippal seriously. "You really did worry me."

"I won't get sick… Honestly, I feel so much better than I did out in the desert—"

Gippal slid his tongue back into Baralai's mouth before he could finish his sentence. The warmth of their tongues sliding against one another in an awkward dance and their mingled breaths were an indescribable feeling to Baralai. He wanted more—could feel Gippal's hands on his hips, pulling him closer—he wanted more.

Baralai closed his eyes and the sensations increased tenfold. Gippal's lips were softer than they appeared to be, and when Gippal pulled away for a second time, Baralai was left feeling dazed, but content.

"What do I taste like, 'Lai?"

"Absolute perfection," murmured Baralai.

Gippal laughed and kissed the corner of Baralai's mouth, nipped on his ear and the hallow of his neck until Baralai was barely standing up on his own. "You know," Gippal said in a hushed voice between each delicious kiss, "this could happen more often if you didn't wear so much clothing all the time."

The moan that escaped Baralai's lips as Gippal found a tender spot surprised both of them. Gippal, mischievous as ever, focused on that one spot with his mouth, kissing and mouthing and nipping at it, pleased when Baralai offered a pleasured moan each time.

When Gippal started tugging at the remainder of Baralai's clothing, Baralai couldn't help but do the same to Gippal's. Baralai felt as though he would do practically anything to keep Gippal's mouth there on his neck.

Gippal eased Baralai onto his back and into the sand, still toying with Baralai's tender spot on his neck.

"Gippal…" said Baralai breathlessly.

"Mm?" Gippal switched from Baralai's neck to his mouth again, and Baralai suddenly lost the idea of what he wanted to say.

"I…" Baralai struggled to find coherency.

Gippal slowly broke the kiss and smiled down at Baralai, whose face was still flushed. He moved his hand along the fine muscles in Baralai's thighs, and leaned close. "Give me your permission, 'Lai, and I'll give you an even better feeling."

Baralai closed his eyes, and before he lost his voice again, he murmured, "Please."

--

A/N: Hooray! So, uh, this is my first mantouching fic(let). I hope the lovely people at this community like it. I'm sure it isn't perfect and that's riddled with errors, but… I hope you enjoyed it anyway! Originally, this was a bit longer, but I realized that it had two different plots so I ripped them apart and made them into two ficlets! Is this still a ficlet since it's nearly 3,000 words long? Damn. Written in about 4 hours, no breaks, just a sudden burst of inspiration. I shall be posting the other ficlet soon! I'm still brimming with inspiration, so I'd better use it before it burns up!