A/N: This is a companion fic to Valid Reasoning, written in honor of Nerielle, who writes the best damned Tesla/Nnoitra/Neliel fics I have ever had the pleasure of reading. If you know what's good for you, you'll read them too. This is a twofer, meaning that there'll be another chapter after this, and that's that. Enjoy!

P.S. By the way, the gay joke is just that, a joke. It's not meant to be offensive, it's just there for humor reasons. Got a problem with it? Flame me, I don't give a damn, just try your best to understand that it's just a joke. Nothing more.

-

Chapter One

They were dancing together

-

For the record, Nnoitra hated dancing. That fancy ballroom crap just wasn't for him—then again, what straight guy was it…for? ("And I'm not talkin' about those "oh, I'm just experimenting" guys, either. I mean the "straight as a pole" ones."
"That has got to be one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard you say.") –but there was a masquerade ball, and it was her fucking birthday.

So, yeah, he'd kinda gotten himself into a bit of a tight spot. Obviously five shots of vodka and a couple of sleeping pills mistaken for Advil just didn't mix well. Throw in a best friend and her infamous puppy-dog pout, and five minutes after waking up with a whopper of a headache, he realized that he'd really done it this time.

It wasn't so much the fact that she was the best friend, and the face she was pulling that got him. It had more to do with something entirely different. Something he'd been spending far too much time thinking about lately. Oddly enough, he could never bring himself to shy away from the subject. If anything, he liked to think about it, about the possibility (because that's all it could ever be, you see, just a possibility) of them.

And, obviously, he'd let his feelings for her get the best of him, because…well…look where he was!

He glowered at himself in the mirror, fingers tucked between his tie and neck, as he tugged at the thing. What a pain. Not only was it itchy and uncomfortable, but it made him look like a total dork.

He huffed, and fumbled with the thing for a few more moments, before finally giving up and heading out, a plain black eye mask tucked into his coat pocket. He didn't put it on until he reached the hotel, where the party was being hosted.

As soon as he stepped into the room, he had to remind himself why he was doing this.

Because he loooooo—Oh, no. No, absolutely not. He didn't…that is to say, er, well, you know.

With a sigh of exasperation—at the situation, at his train of thought—he made his way over to the open bar. If there was one thing he liked about these stupid dances, it was the free booze.

Hell, if he was going to make an ass out of himself tonight (which he knew he would) he might as well have an excuse for it.

He reached for his glass, and scowled as someone else picked it up.

Turning to glare at the thief, he instead gaped at the woman beside him.

He'd recognized her immediately, of course. He was just…well…surprised. He hadn't expected her to look so…

"Beautiful…" he said, and found himself fighting the ridiculous urge to blush.

Neliel's quirked eyebrow told him that she heard, and her eyes danced with mirth behind her mask. "What was that, Nnoitra?" she asked in a teasing tone, and leaned a little too close for comfort. Her dress certainly wasn't helping.

It wasn't that bad, really. The hem brushed the floor, and the sleeves reached her elbows, but the neck line. Oh god, the neck line. It dipped low, exposing more than what was—in his opinion—appropriate.

"So, how 'bout a dance?" Neliel offered, smiling prettily, and Nnoitra almost groaned.

He said, "Maybe later." Or maybe never.

She was disappointed. He could see it, even with the mask hiding her features. But she simply shrugged, and said, "Okay." before plopping down on the stool beside him, and resting her elbow on the bar, as she cradled her chin in her hand.

They stayed that way for a few minutes, Neliel with her chin in her hand, and Nnoitra drinking his brandy, until someone finally walked over. A man, who sidled up beside Neliel, blocking her from Nnoitra's view, and offering his hand.

"Hi," the man said with a shy smile. "I'm Tesla."

Nnoitra scowled at the back of this man's head, his grip tightening around the glass in his hand. Who the hell did this man think he was? He opened his mouth to say something snarky, to alert the man of his presence, and let him know that Neliel was with someone. But then the girl had to go and introduce herself…

"I'm Neliel." she said with that smile of hers, the smile that she only ever used for him.

What. The. Hell.

He glared down at their hands, fitting together for a shake.

"Would you care for a dance, Ms. Neliel?" This man, Tesla, asked, still holding Nel's hand firmly in his. Nnoitra couldn't help but think that this man looked awfully familiar.

He opened his mouth to say, "No! She wouldn't care for a dance!" but his date had already agreed, and was whisking—yes, whisking—this Tesla guy away, heading straight for the dance floor with a flourish of her dress, and that smile on her face.

Nnoitra turned back towards the bar, silently cursing, and gulping down the rest of his drink. He blinked and looked up when he realized that the bar tender was staring at him, all the while shaking his head. "What?" he asked angrily.

The other man looked him right in the eye, and said, "That was harsh."

Nnoitra wasn't sure if he should gape or yell at the man. So he did neither, instead opting to twist around on his stool, watch Neliel and Tesla glide across the dance floor, completely in sync with each other, and feeling more irate than he ever thought possible.

Tesla leaned in close to Neliel, almost hesitantly, and whispered something to her that made a deep red dust her cheeks, and a light laugh escape her lips, as she whispered something back to him.

Oh, that was it. This guy was going down.

Nnoitra stood quickly, ignoring the bar tender, who called something out to him—"Yeah, man, you go get your girl!"—and made a b-line for the couple on the dance floor.

Just as Neliel spun out, Nnoitra took hold of her extended hand, and yanked her out of Tesla's grasp, looking down at her confused face as she folded into his arms.

Tesla stared in surprise, eyebrows narrowing in confusion.

"Sorry," Nnoitra said, "but it looks like I'll be cutting in." he threw the other man a challenging look as he pulled Nel further into the crowd, eager to get her away from him.

As he pulled her around to face him, placing his arm on her waist, and gliding her hand to his shoulder, he caught sight of her smiling at him with the smile that was, and would only ever be, for him.

"So I guess it's later then, huh?" she asked teasingly.

He scoffed, but pulled her a little closer. "Guess it is."

As he stared into her eyes, he thought; It would be nice, wouldn't it? If they were more than just a possibility.