A/N: Well I had never expected people to like this as much as they did, lol. And a few requests plus the urge to give this oneshot some sort of finality urged this next chapter. CX This one is the last, thought and I hope it lives up to expectation. CX
Right, on with it!
I do not own Xenosaga and never will. If I'm posting it on FF, isn't that proof enough? XD
Usually work and I don't get along. Actually, that's not exactly true. I don't mind work but right now I don't really have that much to do. I mean what does Gaignun want me to do? Stare out the large window of the bridge and count how many stars there are? It's sort of ridiculous if you think about it. I did have a lot of work, however, because it's been piling up and while Shelley will hand the important matters to Gaignun, Mary always saves the things that can wait until I eventually show up. And she always has that look on her face. Yeah, the one she's wearing now. Do you see it? It's like a burning feeling as if to say "Just where the hell have you been?" It's such a shame that she's so pretty. Perhaps if Gaignun had worse taste in women I'd be more afraid of them and show up for work. Shelley greets me with an elegant smile and lift of her eyebrow; asking without really asking. I make up some random excuse they both see through and while Shelley simply nods her head submissively, Mary smacks me upside mine quite unsubmissively and cracks some joke or other in that strange accent of her's. After the "formalities" we actually get to work. It takes forever to get done but I don't stop and instead work through dinner to get tomorrow's finished too or at least get a head start on it.
Gaignun hadn't said yes to what I'd planned for tomorrow, but he hadn't said no either and to tell the truth, even if he had I would have probably ignored whatever he'd said. I am starting to get sort of worried about him now. I'm going to figure out what that flicker was.
I turn around from the Captain's seat Shelley usually sat in to see Mary carrying a bag that I automatically assume is food. I stretch and check my watch. Damn it's that late already? Mary must be able to read the expression on my face because she smiles and places the bag on my desk. "Lil' Master, what's gotten into that lil' head o' your's? You're workin' awfully hard."
"Yeah," I sigh, running a hand through my hair and trying to straighten out thoughts. "I'm trying to get caught up on all of this stuff." I motion toward the bag with the end of the pen in my hand and she opens it up, "It's food, Lil' Master. You missed dinner. Master Gaignun's been callin' you. You shut him out again?"
I grin and take the food eagerly. I pull it open and pull out a hamburger. Hah, that's kind of funny. How long has it been since I ate something like this? I take a bite and wow this is pretty good. I hadn't noticed how hungry I was. "Yep." I answer between mouthfuls of food.
"Little Master." she says, announcating my alias in a scolding tone. She puts her hands on her hips and glares at me. I sigh.
"How was I supposed to know that he wanted to actually eat with me today? When was the last time we ate together?"
Mary bent down to eye-level, making me feel rather small at the moment. "He's very upset. He's been lookin' forward to seein' you all day."
Hm...That's sort of strange. "He's not doing anything tomorrow, is he?" I ask suddenly, catching her off-guard. She blinks sparkling blue eyes at me and straightens up.
"He didn't say nothin' about any meetings...Why, Lil' Master?"
"I'd said something to him about spending time together tomorrow. You know, like father-son time."
She laughs and winks at me, "Right."
"Well I just thought maybe he was upset because he had something else going on and couldn't do anything tomorrow."
She shakes her head and plays with a golden curl against her cheek, "Nope. I think he's free all day. In fact, I'm pretty sure he is. He had extra time tonight seein' as how you did your work today."
I nod and check the status report that Mary had interrupted. I toss a fry in my mouth and chew it thoughtfully for a few moments. "Gaignun have the cook make me this?"
Mary nodds and sits on the edge of the console, stretching her perfect legs. "Said, 'Well, someone find him and take him this food. He needs to eat.'"
"Hah! I need to eat?" I scoff, dragging a window on the computer into a corner so I can see the one behind it. "His diet consists of coffee and nothing. Unless...what exactly have you been feeding him, Mary?"
That innuendo earns me a slap but it was worth it and she's giggling at me. She steals a fry and nibbles on it absently. "What time do you usually go to sleep--No! Mary, I'm not making a joke here, I really want to know."
She pulls back the hand she was about to smack me with again and thinks. "Well about eleven, but it depends. Why do you ask?"
"I think there's something bothering him and I bet it'll take all day to get it out of him." I shrug and click off the screen. "That should take care of any 'work' that I need to do tomorrow, but if you need anything I'll be wasting my life on Gaignun. You know where his room is, I mean it's your room too."
I braced for it but apparently that comment didn't warrant pain and she nodds. "Good, he was really upset, Lil' Master. When you block him out he gets worried."
I smirk, "Alright well tell him I'm not mad at him or anything, and don't tell him that I'm coming to see him tomorrow. It'll be a surprise."
"Ok," she says cheerfully, pushing herself away from the console. She gives me a quick hug and says goodnight before making her way to the elevator.
"Oh and Mary?" She stops and turns around. "Tell Gaignun I'm being a good little boy and I don't need his constant watching, alright?"
"Tell him yourself, Lil' Master."
'Tell him myself she said. Psh. Fine I'll tell him.' Is the thought that's currently riding on my mind as I make my way to his room. It's earlier than I usually wake up, I'll admit but I'm trying to help today and to be helpful you've got to wake up on time or you'll get behind. Or something like that. I don't know. Whatever. The door to his room slides open at my approach and surprise, surprise he's already awake and working. His head lifts at the sound and he gives me an expectant look.
"I've been a good little boy, Gaignun." I say, "And I don't need your constant watching, alright?"
His expression shifts to confusion, "Alright?"
Happy with my entrance I walk to his desk and lean against it. He sighs and drops the slim pen he's been writing with for the last two hours.
What are you up to?
Nothin' I send.
"I'm here to spend time with my father. What else?"
"Jr." He says. He's thinking that I'm here to distract him from work for some reason. Now when have I ever done that? Now, I'll admit that I love pranks but would I openly walk in like this and announce where I was if I were planning an awesome prank?
It would be a change of pace and would probably surprise me. You are strategic when you wish to be.
"Blah, blah, no one cares. So what are you up to? Got anything I can help with?"
"You want to help? You want to do work?"
"Yeah," I say condescendingly to let him know what a stupid question that was.
He shakes his head in disbelief. "Look, whatever you've got planned just get it over with. I've got a lot of work to do today."
"Gaignun!" I exclaim, humor in my voice. "I'm really not doing anything bad. I'm here to help. Remember? Remember what I said yesterday?"
Gaignun's trying to hide the smile, but I can see it at the corners of his mouth and feel it on the edges of his thoughts.
"Yes, I remember. I wasn't sure if you were going to go through with it, however. If I contact the bridge to make sure of your finished work will I be disappointed?"
I roll my eyes, "You can check my homework if you want but I've got it all done. You should be proud of me."
"Good to hear." He says, finally allowing the smile to break through. He shuffles a few things around and organizes a stack which he places on the right corner of his desk. He shifts his stuff to the left and motions dramatically toward the pile meant for me. "For you, Jr."
I shove him playfully on my way over to it and get to work. I surprise him with my actual devotion to getting all of this mess done. We work mostly in silence but we never really have a need to talk. He can feel my irritation rise and fall with the information in front of me and I can feel his amusement. We continue like this for a good four or five hours until a knock on his door alerts us from our work.
"Come in," he says politely. I smirk and he gives me a questioning look.
Oh no, I fell for it didn't I? What's behind that door?
I shrug. I don't know. Why do you think I did it?
He's about to say something but the sliding of the door commands his attention and instead he sends it. If it does anything to ruin all of the paperwork I've been doing today...
And ruin my work too? Did you forget I've been in here working just as hard as you "Master Gaignun"?
A Realian comes in, pushing a cart of food. Gaignun looks surprised but quickly covers his expression. He thanks the Realian in a pleasant tone while at the same time demanding to know what is wrong with the food if that's in fact what it even is. With a dramatic sigh I push myself out of my seat and stab a piece of food, shove it into my mouth and swallow.
See? Perfectly safe.
He gives me a questioning look.
"I brought all of this for you." I motion. "I wasn't exactly sure what you liked, so I brought a whole bunch of different things. You never eat and if you remember I'd said I'd bring food. Ta-dah!"
He chuckles at me and shakes his head. "I'm not hungry." But that is a sentence I've been waiting for and after a long time of persuading and complaining mixed in with a few threats he gives in and starts to eat and I take over his paperwork, mine's almost done anyway. This seems to make him happy. He's feeling pampered which is weird since he's pampered everyday.
Not by you, Jr.
I make a noise and get back to work. Don't get used to it.
I didn't plan to.
You know Gaignun, you should really take better care of yourself. I send, staring at letters and writing mechanically.
I take very good care of my health. Is his reply.
I'm a very busy person, Jr.
And that'll be your excuse when Peter calls your name.
I'll work myself to death, then?
I sigh and hand him a stack to sign. Gaignun shakes his head and stops eating momentarily to sign finished documents.
"If my son behaved himself I wouldn't be so busy."
Oh, alright. He's going for the guilt trick. Whatever. He should know by now that that kind of stuff doesn't work on me. He grins at my thoughts and takes a bite.
I know. You're a terribly heartless person, Jr.
He almost chokes on his food, coughing because of his laugh. "What did you just call me?"
I thought about it for a moment and shrugged. "Read it in a book once."
"What kinds of books have you been reading, Jr.?"
"The kind you don't. Now get to work."
"To work on what? You took it away from me."
"I meant on the food, you're not anywhere near finished."
Gaignun looks over at the cart. "I can't possibly finish all of that."
"You can try. This should make up for all the food you haven't had time to eat."
He laughs and shakes his head. I feel it again, that pulse. It's weak but I still get it. I look to Gaignun but he doesn't seem upset. Well, I've got to ask him about it sometime.
"Hey Gaignun. What was it that you wanted to tell me?"
He studies the food in front of him for a moment. "I'm sorry?" he inquires as if he hasn't heard me correctly.
"Yesterday before MOMO came, you said you needed to tell me something."
He goes quiet and picks at his food. Now I know I've hit my mark because I can feel that pulse again and it's stronger, almost electric. "Gaignun?"
"It's nothing." he assures me, taking a bite of food. He knows that answer's not going to satisfy me so he's ready for my onslaught of ridiculous accusations.
"You're in trouble. You get arrested?"
I ponder that and grab another document. "Hm...if you're not in trouble then I guess...Oh shit, you got one of the girls pregnant."
He really did spit out his food that time. "No, Jr.!"
I shrug, "Yeah that would be too easy." I tap my pen on the document, trying to make sense out of the boring words. "You got both of them pregnant."
"Jr., I haven't gotten anyone pregnant."
"Good, but you'd better be careful. Do I need to have a talk with you, Gaignun? You know, about safe sex? Has anyone told you? I mean we don't really have a father, but I'll be glad to tell you all about it. Gotta keep my little bro out of trouble."
"Jr." Gaignun warns. He's trying to sound threatening but he can't hide the fact that he found that last one pretty funny. I pretend to be upset. "Gaignun, just tell me. If you don't, I'll keep guessing."
"Jr., really it's alright. I've taken care of it." But the whole time he's speaking I can feel it again. Something's really bothering him. I want to find out.
"Ok, fine." I offer, writing an accident report courtesy of Captain Matthews and his crew. "You're gay."
"I'm sorry?" Gaignun says, grinning. He's having fun. Good.
I nodd and continue with my ridiculous accusations. "You're gay. That's what you needed to tell me, right?"
He opens his mouth to say something but I go ahead, "Only a guy who grooms himself so well, is borderline anorexic, and needs two women to keep him um...'occupied' would be hiding something like that."
"Jr., I assure you, I'm not gay."
"It's ok, Gaignun. You're my little brother and I still love you."
"No, really. I will support you, so who is it? Canaan? Tony? Nah, it's chaos, right? He's pretty cute."
"Look, you don't have to hide it anymore. I'll open the closet door nice and wide for you. Hey, you might even get lucky. chaos could probably be converted."
"But he does seem to have this strange fascination with KOS-MOS."
"Jr." he says again, laughing.
"So unless you can grow perfect breasts, long blue hair and become virtually emotionless then I guess it won't work."
Something wet hits me in the side of my face. I smile and rub it off; chocolate cake. I glare at Gaignun but he's already back to eating, pretending like he hasn't moved and it really looks like he hasn't.
Hmm. So this chocolate suddenly sprouted wings. Did you see that Gaignun?
"Has it ever occured to you that those two women want me because I take good care of my appearance and that I'm actually a secret pimp?"
I think about it, take everything into consideration, make a mental list, throw out impossibilities and, "Nope."
"Well," I say, leaning back in my chair and placing my hands behind my head. "How can I put this simply? Oh, how about: Does not compute?"
Another glob of chocolate hits me. "Well that's one way to ruin paperwork."
I hand over the accident report for him to sign and sigh at yet another piece of paper. "You'd think that with technology as advanced as it is that paper would almost be extinct."
Gaignun signs his name on it and hands it back to me. "You've said thousands of times that paper lasts longer than optical data, Jr."
"Yeah but that doesn't make it any easier to write on. I'll get carpal tunnel."
"You never do work. How in the world--"
"Did anyone ask for your two cents?"
"You took it quite greedily."
I sigh and stare at him. "Are you trying to fight me, Gaignun?"
"I'm not trying to but we are fighting."
"Well then I guess I'm winning."
"How's that?" Gaignun asks, leaning back in his chair. It makes me happy to see him relaxed. I'm glad I decided to come by. I should probably give him a break. If I actually did my work every day then it would save him a lot of time.
"I'm older. I win by two numbers."
Gaignun shakes his head. "Jr., just because you are a few minutes older than I am that doesn't qualify you as automatic winner. Is this argument even a fight one can win? How many times have we jumped topic?"
I wave at him to shut up. "So stubborn." I roll my eyes at the comment. If he wants to play that way fine.
"Hah! I know how we'll settle this!" I push a few folders in the floor, scattering papers and causing Gaignun to raise an eyebrow.
"We're arm wrestling." I say. I hold up my arm and wave for him to come closer. "Come on." He shakes his head.
"Why not?" I whine, gesturing again.
"Because you'll lose."
"No, you'll want me to lose. But it's not going to happen." He sighs but moves closer, pulling his chair to reach me. To tell the truth I know I'm not going to win. I haven't won at this sort of game since Gaignun hit puberty. His arm is easily twice the height and width of mine, probably more but I don't care. He takes my hand in his.
"Promise me you won't complain when you lose."
"Promise me you won't cry when I win."
He chuckle and nods. I mentally count off to start. The minute I hit three I start trying to press him down, but of course I'm not getting anywhere. He's trying so hard not to laugh, I can feel the amusement evaporating off of him. He loosens his hold a little and of course I take advantage of it.
"Shit, Gaignun. That's cheating. You can't let me win."
His eyes widen at the comment. "Why Jr., I'm not letting you win. It's your superior strength."
"Gaignun, come on! This isn't a fair game."
"Oh so you want a fair game?"
I nod, staring at his arm and practically willing it to move. His grip slacks a little and just when I'm about to complain he overpowers me and my arm meets the desk.
"Dammit." I hiss, pulling my hand away from his and rubbing my wrist.
"I didn't hurt you, did I?" he asks, leaning over to look. He's genuinely worried and I could play that up but I shake my head.
"Think I'm a wuss?"
He smiles and shakes his head in response. "No, Jr. Nothing like that."
"Fine, you win." I grumble, moving back to paperwork that's almost finished.
"And you're not complaining."
"I will if you don't shut up and count that as a blessing. Here, sign this and be quiet."
He takes it and signs the underlined blanks. "You know, Jr. We could play Russian Roulette. That seems more up your alley."
I smirk at him. "Yeah it is, but not with you, idiot. Are you trying to commit suicide?"
"We could have a duel, then."
"I don't miss."
Gaignun shakes his head.
"It's the truth and then what? How in the world would we explain that to the doctor? 'Oh my son and I were playing a game and he shot me.' I'm sure he'll love that."
An idea was forming in the corners of his mind so I decided to go ahead and say, "Hey Gaignun, here's a thought. How 'bout a nice tall glass of shut the fuck up?"
See now that's the thing about giving Gaignun food. You try to feed him and he wastes it all by throwing it at people, don't you? We should put up a sign, hang it around your neck: Do Not Feed.
"I've eaten everything you've given, Jr. You should be happy." He licks his lips and makes a face, "Actually, I never eat that much so I'll probably be sick and that should make you even more than happy."
I snicker at the comment. "It does. What of it?" I shuffle a few papers out of my way. I'm getting so close to being finished that I have to deliberately work slower so that I won't rush through it in the excitement.
He shrugs. "You're terrible."
"I am, but you love me for it."
The sharp flicker crosses our link. It's strong one and it disturbs me. I look over to Gaignun. He looks sort of sick and it worries me a little. I hadn't really meant to make him sick. I stop what I'm doing. "Hey, you alright?"
"I'm fine, Jr. Why do you keep asking?"
By now I'm starting to get fed up with this game. I know that the flickering pulse I'm getting is from him and I want to know right now where it's coming from. "You can't tell me you can't feel that."
Of course he can. I know he can. There's no way he wouldn't be able to. "No, Jr. I haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about."
"That's bullshit!" I exclaim, angry. My shouting surprises him and I feel a little guilty about the outburst. "Look, I didn't mean to yell, but I know when something's bothering you and to be honest, it's starting to bother me."
"Worry me, Gaignun. It seriously worries me. What could be so terrible that you can't tell me? I'm your brother. We've literally been through hell together. So what are you so afraid of?"
A plethora of thoughts and emotions hit him at once. They're so jumbled I can't read or focus on just one. It's as if a bunch of incoherent numbers are sliding down a screen. The mind's like that. He frowns and pulls something out of his pocket. He flips it in his hand, a coin. I know this trick.
It flips it, a metallic cling resounds. I smirk at him. Does he really think I'm not going to win this one? I wait for it, time it just right and when it's almost down I whip out a Makarov from its place in my back pocket and fire. The bullet hits and it's up again.
Gaignun catches it and opens his hand. Hah, I was right. Tails. He has to tell me now. I won.
I don't miss.
He seems genuinely upset but I'm doing a victory dance inside. He has to tell me. Has to. He struggles with himself for a moment because he's lost. That was a dumb game to play if he'd wanted to win. Maybe he secretly wants to tell me and he's just afraid. Is that what that pulse is? As if to agree with me I get another strong flicker.
He looks at me with a strange seriousness I've never seen before. He almost looks scared and that sends a whole different wave of worry through me. I haven't seen him look like that in a long time. Then he says hesitantly and carefully, "I'm in love with you, Jr."
It's taking me a minute to realize what he just said and then it hits me. I blink slightly, trying to hold in the information. I think again on what I have heard before I finally say, "You. You? You're in love with me? Like for real? This isn't a joke? Gaignun Kukai, 'secret pimp', Could-have-any-woman-in-the-world is in love with me?"
He seems to be at a loss for words as he only nods in response and has closed his mind off from me. I too am at a loss for words and without thinking I chuckle, "Knew you were gay."
"Jr. I-I'm serious," he says, "I...love you."
I know he's serious. I can feel it, but for some reason I'm rejecting it. It just doesn't make a damn bit of sense. It's just not registering. I shake my head a little.
"Wow, this is weird." I say, putting my gun away and attempting to focus back on work. I found myself suddenly wishing I hadn't pressed the issue. "And a cruel trick." I add, finally. I'm purposely avoiding him but I get a strange sort of pained feeling that washes over me. "What's this for?" I continue, certain that this can't be real. "That prank I pulled last week? What I said about impregnating people? Almost killing Idiot yesterday?"
I hear shifting of his chair and his footsteps toward me but I'm desperately trying to ignore him. My hand scribbles illegible letters onto the document in front of me which is sort of a shame. My handwriting is usually very good. It rivals Gaignun's. Yep. It's actually probably better than Gaignun's. Of course it is! I'm Jr., it's going to be better than Gaignun's an-
My attempts at blocking out whatever he's feeling fails miserably as I feel his hand on mine. It stops my furious scribbling but I try my best to ignore him.
In fact it's so much better that it should be classified as its own technique. You know, like calligraphy or something. I mean it wouldn't be called calligraphy. I don't know what the hell you'd call it but it'd be called something. Something cool li-
"Jr.," His hands grab my face and force me to look at him. "If nothing else, believe me."
"Why?" I ask but it comes out as a whisper and I hate myself for it, but his eyes are pleading with me. They're desperately pleading with me to believe him. "I don't know why." He admits, running a thumb under my jaw carefully. I feel powerless for some reason under his gaze and my hatred and confusion at myself only grows. "Perhaps there isn't any specific and definite reason for this but I just can't help it."
I want to say something but I don't know what it is. I need to say something but I can't find the words to describe it. I want to kill something but I can't move to threaten anything animate or otherwise. He leans closer to me and I should move but I can't. God there are a lot of fucking things I should do and Gaignun probably wouldn't be offended by any action I made since he was coming in closer like this. He's mere inches away from my lips and I can feel his breath on mine when he says, as if reading my thoughts (which is he probably is), "You don't have to answer. You asked and I've told you. The urge to tell you is gone."
Move, damnit! Why can't I move? I swear to God if he's using that hypnotic thing on me I'll fucking shoot him. I'll fucking sho-
"Is there anything else," he says and he's so close, shattering my threats, "you want to ask me?"
Hell yeah there is! Gaignun smiles nervously at that and he's moving those nonexistent inches closer...
"Master Gaignun! Hey, Master Gaignun?!"
I sigh with absolute relief as he pulls back. Thank the good lord for Mary.
"Come in," he answers, his voice a little strained. I try to gather my thoughts as Mary comes bouncing in in that merry-skipping way she does. She chirps cheerfully about something to Gaignun, I'm not paying attention. Whatever it is makes him frown though, but I could seriously care less. I can't seem to think past 'What the fuck just happened?'
"Jr., there's an emergency meeting. I'll go since you've been so generous today. Do you think you can handle the rest of the work?"
I shake my head to clear my thoughts, "Uh...yeah, no problem. I've only got three documents left. You'll have to sign them, but I've got it."
Our eyes lock for a few moments and I'm not sure what else to say. He doesn't seem to be either. This has to be one of the only awkward moments we've ever had. Great.
I can't believe myself. How stupid have I been? Why couldn't I tell? That damn flicker's been announcing his feelings this whole time. It's been hinting, he's been hinting at this for two straight days even if it was subconsciously. And did he just make a pass at me? God what was happening? I calm myself down, knowing we would have to talk about this later. Really talk.
'So much for hinting', I think to myself but it leaks and he looks back at me on his way out so I deliberately send: That was a full-blown suggestion, wasn't it?
He turns back to walk out the door but I don't have to see his face to know that a smile is forming across his lips.
A/N: Phew! Well there it is. The ending's not all that great, but I had to end it somewhere and it just wouldn't end! XD I hope it wasn't bad and lives up to expectations. CX