A/N: First off, I do not own Final Fantasy XII or any of its characters, although I would love to dream sometimes that I did. This story sat in the deep recesses of my perverted mind from the moment Balthier waltzed his sexy self into the game. Rest assured, this story has no true plot; I just wanted a reason to write some hot sex with Balthier involved. With that being said, I took the liberty of creating Anaya, another sky pirating partner of his that obviously reaps the personal benefits of his company. So, know that this story is not meant to have some hidden meaning or anything like that behind it. It was just nice to play around with my favorite sky pirate. So anyway, enjoy. Oh, and sorry for the lame title. I could think of nothing else. Just pretend that it's... not there haha.

Dangerous Game

Balthier stared longingly as the woman before him cleaned up the remnants of their supper. He leaned against the doorframe, his arms folded tight over his vested chest, as he watched her dry the dishes and bend down as what he could only describe as teasingly to put them back in the cupboard of the Strahl's kitchen. Balthier was certain the length of her black shorts should have been outlawed; they dangerously outlined the smooth curve of her buttocks. Her dark auburn hair stretched down her bare back, covering up the skin there, much to his provocation. She had such a slender back; he hated to see it covered.

And then she turned to the side as she grabbed the sleek glasses they used for their Bhujerban madhu, giving him an eyeful of the black midriff top that hugged her curves as if made specifically for her overly alluring body. His control was slipping.

Fran was out picking up fresh supplies before leaving for their destination—of which they hadn't yet decided—conveniently leaving the two lovers alone in the docked ship. Balthier had every intention of taking advantage of that specific freedom, sure Fran had done it deliberately. The Viera was more cunning than he originally discerned.

"Has something caught your attention?" The silky female voice jarred him from his rather colorful musings. Anaya was staring at him expectantly, one hand rested on a curved, jutted hip.

"To say the least," Balthier answered. He lowered his arms and strode up to her, cornering her against the counter. He rested his hands on the marble countertop on either side of her slender body, trapping her against him. His lips curved into a mischievous smirk as his eyes bore into hers. "Is it your malicious aim to dress so enticingly before me? I could barely contain myself through our meal. Had Fran not been present, I would have had you on the table."

Anaya stifled a chuckle, but it came out as a playful giggle deep in her throat. She pressed her palm against the base of her neck. "I really have no idea what you're referring to, Balthier. Perhaps you shouldn't let your imagination roam so far into unbridled territory. That's far too dangerous for you."

"Sweetheart," he purred, leaning in to graze his lips against her ear, "I was bred for danger."

Anaya couldn't control the shudder spiking down her spine. "This isn't a very good idea," she murmured breathlessly. Even as she said it, she realized it was a lie.

Apparently, Balthier was in full agreement, as one of his hands splayed across her lower back, molding her pelvis into his rather responsive body. "Give me one good reason why you believe this is not a good idea. I can hardly think of anything to prevent my creative imagination from winning me over."

Anaya closed her eyes and swallowed, leaning her head into the teasing touches of his mouth as it suckled her ear. "Fran might return early," she sputtered, her defenses failing fast. "I would rather her not walk in on something like this."

"I hardly believe such an impediment will arise now," Balthier replied nonchalantly. He released a gust of hot breath against the tender flesh behind her ear before trailing his mouth in a gentle graze along her jaw. "You underestimate a Viera's senses. Fran knew full well when she left what would transpire." He thrust his hardened pelvis against her, rousing a surprised gasp from her lips. "Stop producing excuses, sweetheart. I fully intend to take advantage of an airship all to ourselves."

"I'm not making excuses," Anaya said defensively, stumbling over her words as her body responded to his touches.

Balthier's fingers traced a line on her bare stomach, swirling around her bellybutton. "Odd," he rasped, his voice wavering from the thick tension rising in the air around them. "They sound like excuses to me. I hardly understand why you would be wasting your time coming up with such reasons when there are other, more… productive things we could be doing." He suckled the tender flesh of her neck, circling his tongue over her thumping pulse.

"Balthier." His name came in two strained syllables, her mouth barely able to form his name as his lips journeyed up her neck, nipping dangerously close to her mouth. She so badly wanted his taste on her tongue. She clutched the soft fabric of his white shirt, grasping it tightly in her fingers. "You are… far too tempting."

"So you've told me on numerous occasions," Balthier replied with a deep, rumbling chuckle. His lips suckled hers quickly, teasingly, before pulling away. She followed him pensively, wishing to continue their sweet lip lock. "From what I remember, you always enjoyed that trait of mine."

Her frown, especially the scrunch of her nose, made him want to laugh joyously. But he kept it hidden, knowing it would tap her temper rather easily. "I enjoy it when you don't use it against me on most occasions."

"So," the sky pirate began as he pulled away—he found it harder to do than he thought—so he could drink in her tense form, "would you prefer to relocate to alleviate your worries of being caught by Fran or some other unseemly interruption? Your bedroom is closer than mine."

Anaya flung her hair behind her shoulders, her long earrings dangling against her skin, shiny with a thin coat of perspiration. Her frown curved into an almost evil smirk. "I would prefer to finish cleaning up after our meal so I can prepare to navigate our next course."

Balthier's face fell, shaking his head in disappointment. "You're a terrible liar." He rested his hands on his waist. He smirked and nodded once, giving himself a few delicious seconds to take in her evocative pose. "Very well. I see you wish to play a game." He took two large steps toward her, pushing her against the counter once more. Keeping his hands cemented on his sides, he dipped his head next to hers, brushing his lips against her cheek. "I think you'll find I am, by far, a worthy opponent. You will be in my bed by the end of the night." He leaned away from her, flashing his overconfident grin, and turned on his heel, leaving Anaya alone in the kitchen, her heart beating wildly in her chest as she wondered just what Balthier had in store for her.

Balthier rested against the pilot's seat, his arms draped smugly behind his head as he thought of the game Anaya had initiated, the game he was positive he'd win.

"What is this manner of arrogance you have?" Fran's smooth voice penetrated his thoughts. Balthier turned to look at the dark-skinned Viera. "Something has transpired between you and Anaya. I could sense her tension when I returned. You are practically channeling your thoughts into the air for me to read. What is going on between the two of you?"

Balthier chuckled and shook his head, brushing off Fran's concerns. "She has begun a game I am merely eager to participate in. You know I enjoy challenges."

"Of course. You would not be a pirate if you did not," Fran replied. She turned her head back to the flashing controls on the main panel. "You should exercise caution, Balthier. You often underestimate Anaya. Such has been the case since we have met her."

Balthier frowned in resentment, sitting up straight in his chair. "I am not the one—"

"Do not be foolish. She will be victorious otherwise," Fran interrupted in a soft warning. She waved her hand in an elegant motion. "I will handle the navigation. Go. Your thoughts are elsewhere."

The sky pirate released an indignant sigh and pushed himself from his chair, walking in long strides out of the cockpit, as he offered no response.

Fran shook her head, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. "Humes."

The Viera was right, and Balthier knew there was no cause in arguing. He was thinking solely on how he would get Anaya in his bed. The colorful visions played out in his mind, the way she often writhed under his gentle yet passionate touches, the way her lips glistened as she moaned his name, the way her body curved into his as if they were made to fit together. Their encounters were often playful and passionate to a fault.

He pinched the bridge of his nose and released a heavy sigh, knowing such fantasies were sure to be his undoing. Against his stubborn judgment to let the delicious visions continue, he cast them aside and headed for his bedchamber, insistent on taking a cold shower to ease his lustful desires. That private time would give him the opportunity he needed to think on how he would extract his revenge and ensure his victory over his playful lover.

Balthier turned the corner to the private quarters of the Strahl, coming to a crashing halt when he heard upbeat music coming from Anaya's room. No doubt the woman was working out or touching up on her dancing. Either way, the temptation to spy on her was riveting. He noticed the door was ajar, no doubt a means of tempting him to give in to his inner desires, sneak up behind her, and take her like he wished so badly to do.

He shook his head, inwardly telling himself such lack of tact would ensure his loss in their playful little game. So, he turned away from her bedroom and traveled three doors down to his own room, blocking out the trance-like music continuing from Anaya's quarters. He shut the door behind him, basking in the welcoming silence. His head was clouded over as he walked to his personal washroom, shedding his clothes needlessly to the floor as he did so.

Balthier turned on the shower and stepped under the steaming torrent of water, welcoming it as it cascaded down his nakedness. He closed his eyes and craned his neck, letting the water land in a firm spray on his face. He dragged his tongue across his mouth, drinking in the tasteless yet satisfying droplets.

The sky pirate rubbed his palms over his face, opening his eyes into the steam. He narrowed his gaze as he reached forward for the sponge, but before his fingers could come in contact with the soft object, the sensation of fingers snaking around his midsection bombarded him. His eyes widened and the instant urge to turn around was foiled; his body was immobilized.

"I'm proud of you, Balthier," a silky, low female voice whispered in his ear. "I expected you to take the bait when you came by my room. Curiosity was always one of your downfalls. And yet, you've shown admirable strength given the situation. It's too bad you're not as experienced in magicks; otherwise, you could have sensed I was in the room. Vanish has never been so useful."

"Anaya, what are you doing?" Balthier croaked, trying hard to ignore the single part of his body that refused to remain under the effects of her magick spell.

"Isn't it obvious what I'm doing? I'm gaining favor in what you've referred to as a game that I've apparently initiated," Anaya replied. Her giggle echoed in his ear and she pressed the front of her body against his back.

Balthier stifled a groan. The blasted woman was nude, and despite the fact she was under a Vanish spell, he could still feel every nook, cranny, curve, of her body as it arched against him. "Damn and blast, woman, you are playing with fire."

"So you've warned me on separate occasions. It's a shame I was never much for warnings." Her fingers threaded together, resting against his muscled torso. She rested her head on his shoulder. "The spell should be wearing off shortly."

"Which? You seem to have employed two at the moment," Balthier said impatiently. He was attempting to fill his head with frivolous thoughts, anything to bar the suggestive visions bombarding his consciousness.

Anaya made a sympathetic noise deep in her throat. She released him and walked around him just as Vanish faded from her body. Her long hair pooled about her shoulders, and much to Balthier's frustration, she was smiling. His eyes drank in her naked form, his attempts to calm himself now completely shattered. "Well, I suppose you've received your answer." She wrapped her arms around his neck, nuzzling her nose against his. She could feel the tension in his body as he fought against the spell. "You were wrong to believe you could take advantage of me, Balthier. Your arrogance will be your undoing."

Balthier swallowed hard, the desire to wrap his arms around her untamed. "Anaya, release me. Now."

She stared at him for a moment, studying his rugged expression. "Don't get angry, Balthier. You brought this punishment on yourself."

"Anger is the last emotion I am experiencing," Balthier said through clenched teeth. "Aggravation, perhaps, would be more accurate. When this spell fades, you are going to find yourself in a rather precarious situation, sweetheart."

Anaya's slender brow rose in curiosity. "Well, the urge to dispel Immobilize from you is certainly tempting, but I'd rather make you squirm a little more. You have a little while longer before it wears off." She trailed a finger along his jaw. "Now, what should I do with you in the meantime? I could do some rather torturous things."

Balthier groaned, another slew of images flying about his head. The woman was conniving at best. "Has anyone ever told you how much of a minx you are?"

Looking as if she really had to contemplate it, she shook her head and traced a circle on his chest. "Not that I recall. Why?" Her eyes slanted. "Do you think that I am?"

"I must admit you're certainly filling the category at the present moment," Balthier replied, clearing his throat and counting in his head in hopes to regain his lost composure. He'd hoped that going to ten would suffice, but clearly it did not. His thoughts cried out for her to touch him, to end his suffering.

Anaya's giggle penetrated the foggy air. She suddenly recalled the torrent of hot water falling around them. Their water supply would be falling short at this rate, but the female sky pirate hardly gave a care. "Would you like to hear me sing?"

"Blast you, Anaya," Balthier cursed through clenched teeth. "I don't want to hear you sing!" He started to say something else, but bit his tongue and snapped his eyes shut, unable to look at her without suffering the consequences of his colorful imagination.

Anaya stared at him questioningly. "Well, what is it that you'd like me to do?"

Balthier scoffed and opened his eyes once more. "Suddenly you're wishing to give me a choice on the matter? Ironic, considering I have no freedom due to your sadistic need to weave magick over me in the nude."

"The question still stands," Anaya said, unfazed by his firm tone. Her smile only strengthened. She knew the Immobilize spell would be wearing off soon, but Balthier was so clearly wrapped up in his sexual tension that he almost certainly hadn't noticed the spell's strength over his limbs had considerably weakened. She leaned into him, pressing her breasts against his chest. She nipped at his mouth, suckling on his bottom lip. To her surprise, he didn't react. He was trying so very hard to hold on to the last inkling of his pride. "What would you like me to do?"

"I'd like for you to take this blasted spell off me so I can touch you," Balthier hissed. "Release me of your magick. I'm not going to tell you again, and I'm not going to beg."

"Perhaps not yet," Anaya answered playfully. Balthier groaned loudly in response. "Don't be so aggravated. This is what you wanted, wasn't it? A game? It's unfortunate for you that we never established any rules. So, as far as I'm concerned…" Anaya's hand slid down the middle of his stomach, traveling dangerously close to the single part of his body unyielding to her spell. "Anything goes."

No sooner did the words leave her mouth, a sudden weight lifted from his shoulders, freeing him from the magick that held him firm in place. Before Anaya could respond to his newfound freedom, she found herself pinned rather roughly against the wall, Balthier's mouth crushed against hers in a feral embrace. He snaked one arm around her waist, the other lifting one of her legs as he quickly positioned himself at her entrance. He left no room to ponder his next action; instead, untamed instincts took him over and he thrust hard inside her, harder than he anticipated.

Anaya quickly responded, crying out in his mouth as he held her fast against the shower wall. His slightly callused hands, attributed to his use of guns, grasped both her legs and lifted her from the slippery floor. She wrapped her arms around his neck for stability, her fingers digging into the wet ends of his hair.

The sky pirate broke off their forceful kiss, drawing in a hiss of air through his clenched teeth. The sensation of being sheathed within her wet warmth was bliss, relief he'd been inwardly begging for since the moment she entered the shower. Oh, the woman was going to get hers… in due time.

Anaya uttered a soft moan of approval as she clutched his back, curling her toes and wishing for her release. She blinked the stars out of her eyes and found herself gazing into Balthier's passionate, unyielding green depths. His expression was neutral, almost unreadable, but she knew better. She knew exactly what thoughts passed through his mind. Their game meant nothing at the moment; all that was for certain, to both sky pirates, was the need to reach their peaks.

"Oh Gods, Balthier," she whimpered, nearly slamming her head against the dripping wall as his pumping got harder, quicker.

He answered her with a swift thrust, leaning in to drag his tongue along the line of her jaw, over a small scar on the underside of her neck, a minute reminder of one of the first times they met. He could have sworn he felt the walls of the room shaking against Anaya's petite body as he jerked against her in a wild frenzy. Attributing it to his dazed stupor, he shrugged the thought from his mind and returned to bestowing bliss upon the entrancing, beautifully conniving woman sandwiched between the firm wall and his even firmer body.

Balthier locked her dew-coated legs around his back and moved his hands to her hips. Anaya groaned another broken moan of gratitude and tugged on his hair, jerking him into another breathless kiss. He thrust his tongue in her mouth, tangling it around hers.

Pleasure rippled low in her belly, reminding her that she was already dangerously close to fulfillment. She jerked their kiss apart and released a loud, drawn-out moan of his name, craning her head back. Balthier locked his lips over the bare nape of her neck, suckling the tender flesh there as he reveled in the sound of his name on her sweet tongue.

Anaya's muscles suddenly clenched around him and she cried out his name again, blissfully appreciative. Her fingers dug into his shoulders and she bucked against him, stars flashing in her eyes as her orgasm washed over her in a wild torrent. Balthier ran a hand up to her face, cupping her cheek as he bit down on her neck, her own climax pushing him straight into his own. He released a satisfied groan against her skin, lapping over the mild bite mark he'd unintentionally left on her neck.

Anaya whimpered against him and clutched his shoulders as they sunk to the ground in a heap of tired limbs. Balthier's hands were firm around her waist as they settled together on the wet surface of the shower, the sky pirate still sheathed within his lover's heat.

"Fool of a woman," Balthier finally grumbled against her, lazily grazing his lips against the underside of her jaw. "You tempt me far too much for my own good."

Anaya's giggle resonated in the small quarters of the washroom, but she said nothing. She nuzzled her face in the crook of his shoulder and relaxed against him, far too drained to respond. The Strahl pilot noticed her sudden immobile body, and decided it best to retire to his bedroom, as the water of the shower continued to spray around them. With his last bit of strength, he pulled her against him, her legs hitching around his waist much like she'd done during their lovemaking, and heaved himself back to his feet. He quickly turned the water off and carried her into his quarters, uncaring of the wet trail he left on the carpeted floor as he made his way over to his bed.

"Your blankets are going to get wet," Anaya mumbled in a sleepy stupor as soon as her body hit his silk sheets. Her eyes fluttered open, dreamily staring up at him.

"It matters not," he murmured, leaning back down to brush his lips against hers. "Sleep now, sweetheart. You need your rest." He trailed a finger along her face and reached for his trousers, yanking them over his legs. "I will check on Fran in the cockpit, relay that you are indisposed for the night."

Anaya made a sound of approval deep in her throat and turned on her side, curling into a comfortable ball. Balthier ignored the renewed twitch in his pants as he eyed the curve of her bare buttocks. He swallowed and returned to her side, pulling a blanket from beneath her so he could drape it over her nakedness. He surrendered to his inner desire to kiss her again, this time drawing a deep drink of air from her lungs as he did so. He pulled away and smirked, pleased with himself.

"I'll go with you," Anaya whispered.

Balthier released an amused chuckle, resting his hands on his hips as he stared down upon her. She made no such move to join him. "It appears as if you don't wish to do any such thing. Not to worry. We are flying in secured airspace, more than likely over the Giza Plains by now. Surely our queen will not mind." He pulled his white silk shirt over his head, smoothing out the crinkles after tucking it into his pants. "I'll return shortly and share slumber with you. Sleep now, darling."

He didn't have to tell her again. Anaya was deep asleep, her mouth hung open slightly as she breathed steadily against the pillow. Balthier watched her for a moment, their game far from his mind. He grabbed the golden vest on the floor and tossed it on as he walked out the door, leaving Anaya to sleep in his bed, naked and wet. Such a thought was tempting enough to make him act with haste as he tended to his duties aboard the Strahl.

Anaya found herself waking up alone in Balthier's bed the following morning. She was still naked and nestled rather pleasantly in his blankets. They smelled remarkably like him, like the musty cologne he sported on a regular basis. She yawned and shook the lagging of her limbs away as she pushed herself up, letting the blankets spill down at her waist. Her hair was knotted and in full disarray, thanks to falling asleep with it unkempt and wet.

She slid out of bed and walked into Balthier's washroom so she could tend to her hair, uncaring of the fact she was still naked. She wrapped her hair into a ponytail and folded stray strands behind her ears before going back into his room in search of clothing she could borrow just long enough to make it to her own wardrobe down the hall.

"Well, this is certainly a welcome surprise."

Anaya spun around at the familiar, silky voice coming from behind. Balthier was standing at the open doorway, nonchalantly leaning against the doorframe with his arms folded over his chest. His eyes were scoping over her as if she were a sizable piece of meat. "Good lord, you scared me," she gasped, pulling the blanket from his bed so she could drape it around her nakedness.

"Oh, please don't do that," Balthier said disappointedly, pushing himself off the side of the doorway. "I rather enjoyed staring at you in such a provocative state."

"Well, you're not giving me much of a choice, given that you're leaving the door open unceremoniously," Anaya pointed out, her brows raised knowingly. She dropped herself at the edge of his bed. "So, where were you? I thought you were coming back to bed with me last night."

"I did," Balthier informed with a smile as he closed the distance between them. He leaned down to her level, resting his palms on either side of her body. "You were just very stubborn about waking. I suppose you were more exhausted than you'd thought, what with your little magick spells. I went to relieve Fran of her cockpit duties about an hour ago, and thought I would come to check on you while we were in clear airspace and able to reap the benefits of auto-pilot. You're normally not such a late sleeper."

Anaya flashed a grateful yet teasing smile. "And how should I thank you for such care?"

Balthier's grin evolved into a conniving smirk before dipping his head to capture her lips with his. Her taste was refreshing so early in the day. "I'm certain I will think of something." He pushed himself away from her and walked to the door. He turned over his shoulder. "Now, I'm sure you'd like to bathe and dress. Come to me in the cockpit when you're finished. We'll discuss business."

Anaya nodded at him and watched him leave, catching the twitching smile on his lips as he shut the door behind him. She hugged the blanket to her chest and sighed deeply, the previous night's events creeping up back into her head. She closed her eyes and replayed them, detail by delicious detail. She released a shaky breath and swallowed the growing lump in her throat.

So much for playing the game. Balthier clearly had the upper hand, given the way the previous night turned out for them both. Anaya really had no intention of playing such a game. Balthier knew it just as well as she did, but the pilot of the Strahl had a wicked, passionate streak in him. He enjoyed playing such games with her. She'd be lying if she denied that she didn't like them as well.

Knowing her thoughts were journeying into dangerous territory, she opened her eyes and pushed herself from the edge of his bed. She walked out of his room, blanket clutched around her body, and made her way down the hall to her own quarters so she could bathe. She had to wonder, however, what form of business Balthier had in mind for the two of them to discuss.

The Strahl was clear of Dalmascan airspace now, Balthier gazing out into the clear blue freedom of the skies. He took a deep sigh and rested back against his seat.

"Bhujerba?" He turned over his shoulder just in time to see Anaya lean over him to gaze at the navigation panel, somewhat scantily-clad in bright blue attire that yet again flashed off her deliciously tan skin. "Why Bhujerba? Anything of importance there?"

"Not necessarily," Balthier answered, turning his attention back to the control panel. "It's a lovely journey."

Anaya's light laughter rung out in the cockpit. "But surely there's more to it than that. We're not just going to Bhujerba because the path is lovely. What's there that you want to see? Surely you don't wish to travel into the mines. It's awfully dreary in there." She settled herself in the co-pilot seat, crossing her legs candidly and spinning around to face him.

"You have friends at The Cloudborne. I thought perhaps you would like to see them again. It's been quite some time since we've visited," Balthier answered with a wry smile.

Anaya stared at him for a moment. "The last time we were there wasn't the greatest of times to be sightseeing in Bhujerba. I didn't necessarily have the opportunity to do so, what with Ba'Gamnan trying to claim his bounty on you."

"No, perhaps not, but you did have the opportunity to perform for the patrons," Balthier pointed out knowingly. "I think they enjoyed that the most about your company." He turned back to the control panel and flipped several random switches. "You are lovely to watch, I must admit. I'm pleased I happened to catch the last bit of it when I arrived to retrieve you."

Anaya grinned and pushed herself out of her chair, strutting over to stand in front of him. She leaned down to his level, resting her hands on her knees. "Retrieve me, huh? Was that your intention when you came to Bhujerba? I thought you were going to rescue Penelo for Vaan's sake."

Balthier's amused smile faded. He wrapped his arms around her waist, jerking her down into a straddle upon his waist. "Surely you jest. You know very well I had more than one intention. I was not about to leave you in the hands of that fool for him to do with you as he pleased. The moment I discovered you were involved, I made haste to Bhujerba. I spared not a single second." The sky pirate scoffed and shook his head in mild aggravation. "I wished to get you as far away from him as possible. Why do you think I did not initially bring you with Fran and I to Rabanastre? I was attempting to protect you from the likes of him."

Her hands cupped his cheeks. "Your care for me is admirable. Hardly sky pirate material, though," she replied in a whisper. "You're supposed to be a notorious thief."

"I'm the leading man, sweetheart," Balthier rasped, brushing his lips against the underside of her ear. "I don't need to explain myself. The leading man gets away with anything."

"Is that a fact?" Anaya attempted to ignore the shudder careening down her spine at the careful yet brazen touch of Balthier's lips to her skin, but found it near to impossible.

"Shall I demonstrate?" he asked in a near growl. "I would be more than happy to prove it to you if that is what's required."

"I don't think that's necessary," Anaya replied in a hush, digging her fingers into his shoulders as he shifted his pelvis against hers. He was testing her, to be sure. Perhaps their little game was not as temporary as she thought it was.

"Oh, I think it's quite necessary," Balthier whispered in her ear, his hands gently working one of her sleeves down her arm. He cupped his mouth over the top of her shoulder, suckling on the flesh there and circling his tongue in a fluid motion that riled her, tickled her.

She giggled under her breath and leaned into his body against her better judgment, knowing such a surrender was her way of permitting him to demonstrate just what he wanted.

"This… is not a good idea," Anaya murmured, swallowing and closing her eyes as Balthier's hands journeyed under her shirt, cupping her breasts and rubbing his thumbs over the now-hardened peaks. She made a constrained noise in the bed of her throat. "Fran could—"

"She is not so ignorant, sweetheart," Balthier quickly interrupted. "She knows more than what you give her credit for. She will not interfere while I am seducing you."

Anaya hated to admit he was right. Again, she was developing excuses. She didn't want to stop, no, but there was also the nagging knowledge deep in her stomach that she was losing their game, that Balthier was displaying an immense amount of pride in every second that passed, because he knew he was winning as well. All it took was a single touch of his hand to her skin, a simple graze of his lips against her thumping pulse. It was maddening to know the power he held over her.

"This is an inconvenient position," Balthier grumbled. "Hardly any room for what I'd like to accomplish." His aggravation was amusing to her, but she didn't voice it. She raked her fingers through his hair, kneading his scalp. He released a soft moan of approval and gave her a quick kiss on the neck in thanks. "Perhaps the challenge will appease me, however," he groaned.

"Any challenge appeases you," Anaya stumbled, curving her body against his. "You prefer the odds against you."

"Perhaps," Balthier admitted. "I do enjoy knowing that I have earned my spoils."

Anaya jerked away before Balthier could suckle on her neck again. She was glaring at him. "Spoils? Is that what you think of me?"

Balthier chuckled and dragged his tongue along his bottom lip before leaning up to capture her mouth for a sweet, split second. "Certainly," he said. Anaya's eyes widened at his truthfulness. "However, you are, by far, my favorite." He enjoyed the displeased look on her face. "Do not feel jealous, sweetheart. I am grateful to know that there is only one of you in all of Ivalice, and I am the lucky one to have found you."

Damn, she thought. Balthier was always colorful with his words, far too colorful for her to become angry at him. She nibbled on her bottom lip and released a sigh. "I suppose I can't help but let it go that you just called me one of your prizes. You talk far too pretty."

Balthier's chuckle evolved into a hearty laugh, craning his neck back as he released the amused sound about the cockpit. He sifted his fingers through her hair and cupped her chin with his thumb and forefinger. "Only one of my finer qualities. I appreciate the compliment, darling. However, I feel I must point something out to you." He shifted under her again, rousing a delectable moan from in between her lips when she felt his hardened center pressing against her ever-growing wet core. He leaned up to her ear and growled low in his throat. "You are so much more than a prize. Having you has been one of the only times that fate has willingly worked with me."

Anaya felt her limbs grow weak. "Balthier, that's—that's one of the sweetest things you've ever said to me."

"Did you believe I took advantage of you for my own personal devices?" Balthier asked sincerely, pulling his head back to gaze into her amber eyes. "That because I'm a sky pirate, I am incapable of feeling love for a woman? Hardly." He scoffed and rested his arms on the sides of the chair, leaning back comfortably into the cushion of the pilot's seat. "You are more convincing than you give yourself credit for, darling. Far more convincing."

Anaya lowered her gaze and pressed her palms against his chest, rubbing them up and down along the silk of his shirt. "I'm not a succubus, Balthier. I wasn't trying to ensnare you or something."

"Oh, of course not, sweetheart. I never meant to imply that," Balthier replied, grabbing her hand and pressing his lips against the center of her palm. "I bask in every day I have to spend with you, whether it is as my pirating partner or my lover."

Anaya's face fell. She'd never heard him talk so passionately before, not in such a context. She found herself leaning in to him, locking her lips against his tenderly, lovingly. Her fingers dug into his hair, clutching the soft locks as if her life depended on it. Balthier slid his hands around her back, pulling her as close to his body as he could.

And that is when the passion flooded around him, spurring him to tug at her skirts until they were bunched at her hips. He cupped his hand over her core, thinly covered by her damp panties. His erection twitched in his pants, especially when Anaya moaned contently in response to his touch.

She broke off their kiss, the need to gasp for a drink of air too much for her. She clutched the front collar of his shirt as he caressed her, his fingers tickling and sending sparks through her limbs. She snapped her eyes shut and rested her forehead on his shoulder, succumbing to the shudder wracking her body.

Anaya began tugging at his vest, but his free hand stopped her, causing her to lift her head from his shoulder to stare at him in confusion. He shook his head. "No. Let's make this about you for now, shall we?"

Anaya's face heated up in a cherry blush, certain she'd misheard him. "What?"

The corners of his mouth twitched, his fingers stroking through her wet panties. She bit down on her bottom lip, moaning softly deep in her throat. He chuckled and narrowed his eyes, watching her expressions as he gingerly continued his caresses, using his touches as his response to her short inquiry.

She released a sharp gasp when his finger rubbed through the seemingly useless fabric. She shuddered against his palm and nearly jerked out of his lap from the mere force of his touches. She buried her hands under the collar of his shirt, clutching his bare shoulders as if she expected the floor to fall out from beneath her at any given time.

Anaya was getting impatient. She wanted to feel his fingers on her bare, wet skin, fondling her expertly. It was a sin how much pleasure careened through her spine at the slightest touch of his callused hands, his deliciously rough fingers.

"Beg for what you desire, darling," he rasped in her ear, his ministrations ceasing. She whimpered through clenched teeth, her fingers tightening over his shoulders.

"Don't tease me," she whispered sharply. "You know what it is I want."

Balthier made a confirmatory noise deep in his throat, using his free hand to pull down her shirt, freeing her breasts. He cupped a palm over a taut mound, sliding his thumb back and forth over the nipple. Anaya moaned, tucking her head under his chin. He grinned at the genius of his handiwork. The woman was melting in his very arms. "But I do so like to hear you profess those wants. Say it, Anaya. You've played your game, and now, I will play mine."

"You'll hear nothing," Anaya brokenly vowed. She couldn't even trust her own promise, given the strong reaction to his fingers against her. She swallowed loudly and shifted against him, hoping to shake off the ache at her center. She failed miserably.

"Oh, won't I?" In a swift movement, his hands were around her legs, propelling them both from one pilot's chair into the other, Anaya on the bottom and Balthier hovering above her with a familiar, dangerous glint in his eyes. "I will hear you beg, one way or the other." He slid his hands under her disheveled skirts and pulled her drenched panties down her hips, discarding them to the side. He lifted her legs over his shoulders and delved forward, his finger rubbing her, his thumb fondling her sensitive nub.

Anaya gripped the armrests of the chair, biting hard on her lip to prevent herself from screaming. She wanted to beg him, but knew it would fill his ego, so she denied him. That, in itself, became difficult when she felt his tongue dip against her tender flesh. Her hips bucked involuntarily against his mouth as he played his tongue against her nub, tasting her, stroking her with profound determination to hear her scream and beg for more.

But her hips only bucked against his mouth again until his hands shoved her back down into the leather chair. She made a constrained noise, almost angry, but such a negative emotion flew from her mind when he lapped at her again. "Oh, God! Balthier!" She finally relaxed on the chair and succumbed to the passion waving around them, moving her hands from the armrests to rake through his hair. Her eyes traveled to the grand window at the passing white clouds, carving this perfect, passionate moment into her memory.

Balthier successfully jarred her from her mental remembrance when his teeth bit down on her, suckling and tugging the bundle of nerves. She cried out again and nearly ripped hair from his head as she jerked against his mouth, his tongue pushing her right on the edge of heaven and hell.

The words were pouring out before she could stop herself. She hardly cared. "Please, Balthier. Don't stop. So close."

He increased the friction of his suckling, making pleasured noises of his own that added vibrations to her swollen flesh. He slid a finger within her but four times before she bucked so hard his hands could do nothing to keep her still on the chair. She found herself catapulted to another world entirely, one in which they were the only two people and she could honestly find herself worshipping the ground he walked on for bestowing such heart-stopping pleasure upon her.

She crested on the precipice for what seemed like ages, shuddering and moaning weakly as Balthier released her and pulled away for air, licking his lips with a crafty grin. "I believe that's one point for me, love." He leaned over her, brushing his mouth against hers as she attempted to catch her breath and compose herself. "That was a lovely display, I must say. I thoroughly enjoyed it." He chuckled and offered his hand. She took it and he pulled her out of the chair. "Apparently you can agree that you enjoyed it as well, hmm?"

Anaya couldn't control the blush warming her cheeks. She looked away from him and straightened her skirts down her legs. "Perhaps." She studied the cockpit for her discarded panties, finding them lying under the navigation panel. She bent down quickly and picked them up. "I need a shower after that." She tossed him a frown. "Is this the business you wanted to discuss?"

"Always the clever one," Balthier replied with a smirk. He took her free hand in his, planting a kiss on the top of it. "You're quite right. If you can resort to trickery, so can I, darling. Even though I got the better of you last night, I would still consider you the victor given your delicious initiation of the events. I suppose that makes us tied in this little game." He adjusted the cuffs on his sleeves and stepped away from her, sitting back down in his chair. "Shall we continue on for Bhujerba, or would you prefer to go somewhere else?"

Anaya stood next to him, appalled at their casual conversation so quickly after their overly passionate moment. She slid her panties back over her legs, adjusting her skirts to erase the evidence of their interlude. He looked up at her, his smirk tearing through her. Her stomach tied into knots again. She wished his gaze wasn't so smoldering. She snapped away from him before her heart burst from her chest. "No, continue on course." She walked to the door and opened it. "I'm taking a shower. I'll meet up with you at a later time. I'm sure Fran will be joining you soon." She rushed out of the cockpit, leaving Balthier basking in his victory.

Anaya double-checked the course headings. They would be arriving in Bhujerba within several hours given their current speed. She rested against the chair and stared out into the bright blue sky, taking calm at its beauty.

"Your thoughts are elsewhere," the Viera's smooth voice said next to her. "What troubles you?"

Anaya turned to look at her and sighed deeply with a shake of her head. "Nothing you want to hear, trust me, Fran. It's something between Balthier and me."

"I forewarned Balthier not to take this course of action, but I see his ego has resisted," Fran replied with a shake of her head. "He underestimates you."

Anaya scoffed. "It doesn't seem that way."

"He is intimidated by you," Fran informed firmly, keeping her eyes cemented on the dashboard of the Strahl. "You hold unspeakable power over him that no one has held before."

Anaya stared at her Viera companion for a moment, drinking in her sage words. "That is not my intention, Fran. I never had the notion of coming into his life and trying to control him in any way. It was the very thing I escaped when I left home. I despised being controlled, not having free will. I would hate to do that to someone, especially someone I care for like I do for Balthier."

"So long as you do not use it against him, all will be well," Fran advised. She looked up at the Hume sky pirate. "I know of your game with him. You should cease."

"I didn't even start it to begin with," Anaya groaned defensively, rubbing her hands against her face in aggravation. "You know Balthier likes challenges. He started this." She sighed and leaned her folded arms against her knees. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy this to some extent, but I know what that man is capable of." Her thoughts journeyed back to just an hour before when he'd thrown her into the reaches of ecstasy in the very chair in which she sat now. She turned away to hide her blush. "You know there's little I can do about this now that it's started. Either I can accept defeat or continue to play along with it, and I would rather not do the former."

"Then I can offer you nothing." Fran turned her attention back to the dashboard. "Bhujerba is approximately two hours away."

Anaya nodded and pushed herself out of her chair, deciding to leave their conversation at that. "I'm going to stretch my legs a little, if you don't mind."

"I do not. Take your time. Perhaps you could also locate Balthier and inform him of our approximate dock schedule," Fran said.

"I will. I think he's resting in his quarters. I'll let him know." Anaya turned and walked from the cockpit, heading down the hall at a leisurely pace. With every step she took, her heart sped up and thumped harder against her ribcage. Nearly every sexual escapade she'd shared with Balthier flooded her mind, how every time held a different level of passion. The man knew what he was doing.

She hated that.

She halted at Balthier's bedroom, heaving a sharp sigh, her eyes fixed on the gray metal of the door. She rapped her knuckles against it three times, waiting for him to answer. But he didn't. She knocked again, this time calling out his name. Still no reply. Aggravated, she opened the door and took several steps inside, looking around for him. His shirt and vest were draped over the back of a chair on one side of the room. "Balthier? Are you in here?"

She peered into his bathroom, but it was vacated. There were no signs that he'd been in there lately to bathe. She rested her hands on her waist, puzzled to where else he would be. Shrugging, she turned around to leave, but found herself staring into blazing green eyes that almost made her crumble where she stood. Balthier was smirking, shirtless, his trousers barely clinging to his hips.

Anaya stammered when she noticed his pants were carelessly undone. She gave herself a swift mental kick, jerking herself back to reality. "Balthier, what in the world are you doing?"

"Waiting for you, darling," he purred as he backed her up against the wall. He plastered his hands on either side of her head, barring any possible escape. "How much longer until we arrive at Bhujerba?"

"Umm, about two hours," she faltered. "Fran asked me to deliver that information to you. I should get back to the cockpit and assist her." She pushed herself from the wall, but he made no movements to let her go.

"You will do no such thing," he said firmly. "I think I have given you enough time to recuperate from our liaison in the cockpit earlier." He dragged his tongue along his lips.

Anaya rested back against the wall, her breath hitching in her chest, a shudder sparking down her spine. "We have other pressing matters to attend to."

"Like?" He leaned in, grazing his tongue along the trail from her ear, down her neck, to her shoulder.

"We have been leaving too many duties for Fran of late," Anaya scolded. "This has to stop now, this game we are playing."

"So be it." Balthier lowered his hands to his sides, but continued roving kisses along her neck. "If you wish to leave, you may do so. I will not stop you if that is what you desire."

Anaya cursed inwardly. She couldn't leave now. As soon as his kisses started, she could not say no to him. She closed her eyes and released a shaky sigh.

"You can't do it, can you?" Balthier's hands gripped the sides of her skirts, shimmying the article of clothing slowly down her hips until it pooled at her ankles. "You can't leave when you know what awaits us."

"You are inconceivable," Anaya choked. She pressed her palms against his chest, saying nothing on the fact she was now bottomless, save for the panties that suddenly felt remarkably loose. "We need to be focused on other things."

"I do not disagree with you, darling, but it is so difficult to do so when you are in front of me, looking so deliciously irresistible," Balthier replied in a heated groan. His mouth stretched into a smile as he pulled away to look at her. Her face was flushed, her eyes boring through him, silently screaming for him to touch her, to kiss her. "I have a difficult time discerning where my attention should be focused when you are in my presence."

Anaya couldn't ignore the burning at her center. Damn her body, but she wanted him. She didn't care where; she didn't care how, so long as she had him. Shaking her head, she breathed, "this is wrong."

Balthier chuckled heartily. "If this is wrong, then I daresay I'd like to be wrong more often." He dragged his fingers along her bare legs, traveling up to the panties that hugged her hips. "Can we consider this our tiebreaker, then, darling? The end of our palatable game?" His hand dipped under the top of the silk garment, his fingers playing upon the damp curls of her aching center.

Her control shattered. She propelled herself at him, knocking him back several steps. Balthier answered her with firm hands under her buttocks, hoisting her against him in a straddle, as he carried her over to his bed. He nearly dropped her upon the mattress, following her intently with heavy kisses. He ripped the clothing from her body as if her very flesh begged for freedom. His clothing, as little as he had on, was soon to follow.

Anaya moaned softly as his lips found her throat. His warm tongue lapped against the tender flesh, shivers careening down her spine. His fingers journeyed to the back of her neck and his teeth discovered the delicate shell of her ear. Warmth flooded her from the tips of her toes, to her fingertips, to the very recesses of her soul.

Balthier's masterful hands cupped a breast, rolling the nipple between his fingers. Anaya made a contented noise in the bed of her throat, her body arching into his touch. The sky pirate was greedy; he wished not to waste his time on foreplay, although it gave him an immense amount of satisfaction to see his lover writhing and moaning beneath him from the mere brush of his fingers.

It drove him utterly insane.

"I hope you forgive me for such haste," he rasped, dragging his lips, his tongue, along the line of her jaw. She released a shaky breath and gazed up at him in question. Her eyes widened and she gasped when she felt his hands roving down her sides, grazing against her stomach, her bellybutton, until both of her legs were spread, knees bent against her belly. A finger slid inside of her core, testing her readiness, although she was certain that was quite unnecessary at this point.

His finger left her as quick as it had joined with her, but such an unbearable emptiness was barely felt. Balthier thrust himself forward, sinking an inch or two inside of her. A hiss of air escaped her teeth in response as he slowly pulled out and entered her again, this time gaining another inch. He pushed forward, giving her a moment to accommodate him. Another inch. And another.

Anaya sighed in satisfaction when she felt him push against the edge of her world, and she slowly lowered her body back upon the bed. She tucked her knees as far back against her body as she could, and he began moving to a quickened song in his head. Balthier rested against her legs, her feet draped over his shoulders, as he thrust again. But it wasn't enough. He hurried his movements, striving for his heightened sense of pleasure, for hers, but it was as if he couldn't reach it.

"Not enough," he groaned. He wrapped his arms around her body and quickly spun her around until she settled on her knees, her chest plastered against the satin of his bed sheets. Anaya pushed herself up on her palms, looking over her shoulder in impatient query as he spread her legs, situating himself forcefully between them until he was once again sheathed inside her wet heat.

Anaya responded with a delighted squeal, her back arching and her bottom meeting with his insistent thrusts. It was like nothing else mattered to him as he moved against her without abandon, that there was nothing else he could do but strive for the release that would wash over him like a summer's breeze. And to her, nothing else in the world mattered but the feeling of him pumping into her, faster and harder every time.

She leaned in to him, hungry for his touch, and he answered her with a firm hand curing over her breast. She bit back a moan—for what reason she couldn't tell—and closed her eyes. She felt his other hand stroking her lower back, holding himself in place as he moved within her, his heartbeat thundering in his ears. He reaped the benefits of their position, but he wished he could witness her expressions, the way her eyes fluttered, her cheeks flushed, her luscious mouth hung agape as passion flooded her veins.

Lucky for the sky pirate, he had an impeccable memory of the woman bucking against him, and that was enough for him.

She chokingly moaned his name, as if it came with far too much effort to utter, as she met every one of his thrusts with profound precision. Her hair began to fall in front of her shoulders as she moved with him, groaning his name, moaning her gratitude for his sexual expertise as his rough hands caressed her breasts, her back, her buttocks. She felt him lean over her back, molding his body into hers, unrelenting in his movements even as his lips found the curvature of her back. His lips, his tongue, made a ragged trail over her. He moved away, groaning her name, when he felt her muscles clench around him. She was close, dangerously close.

A callused hand found her breast again, rolling, pinching, rubbing the hardened nub in between his fingers. She cried out, her neck craned back and her fingers digging into the mattress beneath them. Any control she had over her body was now lost to the passion Balthier weaved over her.

"Find it, sweetheart," he coaxed, his voice raspy with desire as he sped up, slowed down, sped up again as if to torture her into her release.

Anaya answered with a drawn-out moan, an intelligible response a far cry from her mind at the moment. Everything in her existence was suddenly jumbled as her world quaked. Her knuckles whitened, hurt, as she clutched the sheets, ripping them from the mattress. Buttocks still firm against him, the rest of her body fell to the bed, her face pushed into the bed as her orgasm began to climb, began to overwhelm and attack every nerve-ending.

"Oh Gods, Balthier! I'm—" Her declaration cut off with another bold thrust, throwing her violently over the edge. Body convulsing, Anaya cried out his name, riding out the intensity of her climax, hoping to push him straight into his.

And she did with the way her muscles clenched around him, the way she screamed his name with no reservations, just gratitude. It was as if something shattered within her, within him, at the very same time. He grunted and groaned her name brokenly, collapsing atop her back as he released himself deep inside her body, shuddering all the while.

Wrapping an arm around her middle, he pulled himself carefully from inside her, collapsing next to her spent body. He wiped the beaded sweat from his brow and spun on his back, quickly jerking the heavy-breathing woman into his arms. She curled into his side and sighed contently, fully sated from their passionate lovemaking.

It was several minutes before Balthier spoke. "So, who do you believe is victorious?"

Unable to stifle a chuckle, Anaya peeked up at him, nipping a tender kiss against his chin. "What do you say to a draw?"

Balthier scoffed, grinning deviously. "The leading man does not settle for a draw, sweetheart."

Anaya nuzzled her face into the tender crook of his shoulder. "You will settle for a draw this time, or you'll have no future opportunity for a game like this one again."

A low roll of laughter rumbled deep in his throat. "Well, I suppose I could settle this time around for you, darling. You are a very convincing sort of woman." He squeezed her nakedness against his body and was silent again. He cleared his throat, rubbing a hand unconsciously up and down her arm. She looked up at him in question. "How about the best three out of five?"

Anaya flashed him a look of disbelief before it melted into a grin of her own. She pushed herself onto one elbow, peering down at him with a familiar glint in her amber eyes. "Mr. Leading Man, you're on."