Author's Notes: My first attempt at writing some m/m, so all comments/crits welcome! This was meant to be some quick 'n' dirty little one shot but I can't seem to stop writing it! I find Balthier really hard to write, so apologies if anyone finds him OOC in this; I've been watching waaaaaaay too much Buffy recently and keep finding Spike wandering into my brain when I'm trying to write anything Balthier orientated! Hmm, now there's a crossover I wouldn't say no to...Balthier and Spike! *drools*

Enjoy! GR x

Balthier skulked along the darkened streets of Rienna feeling hemmed in and uncomfortable. He shot nervous glances towards the pools of shadows and darkened doorways as he walked, a sardonic smile crossing his face briefly as he remembered the vow he had made to himself when he left Archades; that he would never return to the city.

"Funny how things change." He muttered to himself, hiding his face as a group of drunken revellers passed him. He knew that by distancing himself from his companions, he was putting himself in danger but the prospect of sitting in another tavern, in Archades no less, did not appeal and so he had excused himself, dismissing Fran's offer to accompany him to wherever he intended to go.

"Where exactly do I intend to go?" He pondered aloud; he briefly entertained the idea of taking a cab to Tsenoble to look at his old house but knew this would be flirting too close to danger, even for him; although he suspected that Cid had long abandoned the family manse in favour of his laboratory. He walked nearer to the wall, looking down at the guttering flames of Old Archades when the sound of muffled footsteps made him pause. He kept his gaze fixed on the torch light below, forcing himself not to quicken his pace, lest he arouse suspicion.

He carried on walking aimlessly, his heart beating rapidly in his chest as he strained to hear the footsteps behind him, wondering for a moment if he had imagined them. He held his breath and heard another footstep behind him. Someone was definitely following him, and he didn't intend to hang around to find out who it was or what they wanted.

Crossing the cobblestones quickly, he ducked into an alleyway, shooting a glance over his shoulder and caught sight of a darker patch within a nearby shadow, confirming his suspicions.

"Hey! Balthier!" Balthier froze, pressing his back against the wall. The voice behind him sounded oddly familiar, and without menace. He hurried drew his gun, wondering if he would have time to load it before his pursuer rounded the corner. Glancing up, he saw a figure silhouetted in the torchlight, moving towards him. Balthier felt his panic turning to rage when he saw a flash of white-blonde hair in the flickering torch light.

"What in the hells do you think you're doing?" Balthier snapped as Vaan took a step closer, pushing him roughly against the wall, his arm pressed across Vaan's chest. "Are you trying to get me killed?" Standing this close to Vaan, he could smell the reek of alcohol on his breath; he had learnt early on in their journey that both Vaan, and to a lesser extent, Penelo were fond of a drink. Balthier was never one to turn down a drink, particularly if someone else was buying, but felt like many things, Vaan took his drinking to an extreme, as if he were trying to prove some point. Balthier had often wondered if the boy thought excessive drinking the mark of a true sky pirate.

"Why are you following me Vaan?" Balthier released his grip on Vaan, glaring at him in the gloomy light of the alleyway as he returned his gun to its holster. "More to the point, how did you know where to find me?"

"That guy we met earlier, Jules. He was in the tavern and told me that'd he seen you."

"And how much did that little piece of information cost you?"

"Not that much." Vaan shifted uncomfortably.

"You paid Jules hard earned gil just to find out which godsforsaken part of this city I was lurking in? Why would you do that?"

"I...we were worried about you. Being back in Archades and all. Thought you might be upset or something."

"And what, you thought you'd be my shoulder to cry on? How admirable. I'm fine , Vaan, now go away."

"Go away? Why?"

"Because you're drunk and I'm in no mood for babysitting you. Scamper back off to the tavern, I'm sure the others will be missing your stellar company." Balthier knew he was being unnecessarily cruel but did not want to draw any more attention to himself than he already had and wandering the streets with someone as overtly Dalmascan as Vaan was sure to attract just the kind of attention he sought to avoid.

"I'm not that drunk you know." Vaan called as Balthier turned and walked away, further into the dark of the alley.

"Go away!"

"Don't want to." Balthier glanced over his shoulder to see Vaan trailing behind him, one hand against the wall to steady himself.

"Are you trying to irritate me?" He snapped.

"No. Why, am I?"

"What do you think?" Balthier asked as he turned. "You always irritate me."


"Good? What do you mean, good?"

"I mean I'm glad I irritate you. You annoy me."Vaan countered. Balthier flushed angrily; how dare Vaan suggest that he was annoying!

"Listen, street rat," Balthier growled, "I haven't the patience for you tonight, particularly if you are deliberately being irksome. Now run along. I'm bored with you."

"Get over yourself, Fframran. You're not all that interest..." Vaan was cut off as Balthier flew at him, grabbing the boy's vest in both hands and pushing him hard against the wall.

"What did you just call me?" He pushed Vaan again, pleased to see him wince as his bare shoulders scraped against the brick wall. "Don't you ever call me that again!" He tightened his grip as Vaan pulled half heartedly at his wrists in a bid to free himself.

"Balthier...I..." Vaan began, stilling trying to break free of Balthier's hold. Much to the pirate's annoyance, Vaan didn't look intimidated as he hoped, but amused. "You know, you're pretty when you're mad." Vaan blurted out, still smirking inanely. Balthier did a double take, letting go of Vaan's vest in surprise and trying to back away from him, but Vaan was stilling firmly grasping his wrists, no longer trying to free himself from Balthier's hold, but keeping him trapped.

"Let go of me Vaan. You're drunk."

"I'm not as drunk as you seem to think I am." Vaan replied.

"You just told me I'm pretty and now you try and argue that you aren't drunk?" Balthier struggled again, surprised by how strong Vaan's grip on his wrists was.

"You are, and I'm not."

"Is this you trying to irritate me again? Now let go of me, you're creasing my shirt."

"I'd have thought you would have worked out what I'm trying to do." Vaan smirked.

"What are you trying to do then?"

"This." Vaan lunged suddenly at Balthier, kissing him hard on the lips. Balthier wrenched his arms from Vaan's grip in surprise, pushing the boy away from him.

"What do you think you are doing?"

"Oh come on Balthier, you might think I'm stupid, but I'm not. I've seen the way you look at me."

"The way I look at you? Vaan, I hate to break it to you, but I look at you for precisely what you are, an irritating brat who I can't seem to shake off."

"Liar." Balthier scowled at the sound of Vaan's smug tone. He considered himself to be fairly cosmopolitan when it came to his love life and was not ashamed to admit that several of his previous partners had been male. Admittedly, Vaan had held a certain intrigue when he and Fran had first stumbled across him in Rabanastre. Balthier had admired the contrast between Vaan's tanned skin and pale hair, fascinated with the boy's vaguely feminine features. However, after several weeks in Vaan's company, the attraction had waned. It wasn't that he disliked Vaan, he told himself, he just felt that there was only so much Vaan he could cope with at any one time. And given how quickly the boy had become obsessed with the Strahl, he was glad he had never attempted to act on his attraction. It was obvious, Balthier had thought, that Vaan would also become obsessed with him, and given that they had no idea how long they would be on this journey, the last thing he needed was a lovesick teenager mooning around after him.

"What's the matter Balthier? Cat got your tongue? Just admit it, you want me to kiss you again." Vaan's voice jerked him from his reverie.

"Trust me, I don't." Balthier lied, watching Vaan warily. "You're far too irritating."

"And like I already said, you annoy me. That doesn't mean I don't fancy you."

"Given that you manage to stand your own company on a day to day basis, I'm amazed you could find anyone else annoying. Now run along, I'm not talking to you about this any longer."

"Why not?" Vaan whined, sounding every inch the petulant child.

"I'm just not."

"But why?"

"Do you realise how childish you sound?"

"Just because you treat me like a stupid kid doesn't mean I am one you know." Vaan pouted, pushing his hair out of his face. "You behave like I don't know how to do anything and just get in the way."

"I'm sure you can do plenty of things, Vaan; petty thefts, tantrums, clumsy flirting with any girl who looks your way...there's just no end to your talents. However, I can say with absolute certainty that none of these are of particular interest to me." Balthier looked down at his fingernails as he spoke.

"I bet I could do plenty of things that would interest you." Vaan smirked, looking Balthier up and down in a manner that he felt was far too obvious.

"I doubt that."

"Want me to prove it?" Vaan lowered his head as he spoke, his hair falling over his face.

"And what do you intend to do to prove your point?" Balthier asked, folding his arms across his chest. Someone, he thought to himself as he watched Vaan continue to eye him appreciatively, would have to teach the boy the art of subtlety.

"Whatever you want." Vaan grinned mischievously as he looked up at Balthier, strands of hair framing his face.

"Oh please, Vaan. I'd eat you alive." He was enjoying himself now, the oppressiveness of Archades long forgotten. Goading Vaan had always amused him, but knowing that Vaan wanted him made it all the more enjoyable. He took a step closer, resting his hand flat against the wall above Vaan's shoulder.

"That's what you think." Vaan replied, tucking his hair behind his ears before folding his arms across his chest. "Maybe it's you that has a point to prove, not me."

"I don't have to prove anything to you. I've certainly had no complaints."

"Wow, you're so modest." Vaan teased. "That seems about right for you though, all talk, no action! Hey, that could be your motto!"

"Shut up now Vaan."

"Make me." Vaan challenged. Balthier grinned wickedly in the gloom, grabbing hold of Vaan's wrists and pinning him against the wall once more.

Balthier lowered his head, his lips close to Vaan's ear and whispered "You might regret that."

"You talk a lot, you know." Vaan replied, turning his head quickly.

"Mmm, annoying, isn't it." Balthier's response was barely audible, their faces so close together that he could feel Vaan's hot breath on his cheek. Before he could pull away, Vaan had leant forward, capturing him in an urgent kiss. Balthier let out an involuntary moan as Vaan bit down gently on his lower lip, tightening his grip on Vaan's arms once more, pleased that the boy had removed his ridiculous gauntlets for once. He briefly dug his fingernails into the soft skin of Vaan's wrists as the boy attempted to free himself from the pirate's grasp.

"Stop squirming." Balthier hissed, finally releasing his grip on Vaan, raising one hand and twisting it into Vaan's white-blonde hair, pulling the boy's head back and forcing his tongue into his mouth, pleasantly surprised when Vaan returned the gesture; he'd expected the boy to be inexperienced, perhaps even clumsy, but Vaan caressed his tongue in what the pirate considered to be quite a skilful manner, eliciting another moan from his throat.

He felt Vaan's hands moving to his hips, bringing them closer together, and pulled harder on the boy's hair, feeling rewarded when he heard Vaan moan. He lost track of time as their kisses continued, tongues fighting for dominance. He felt Vaan begin to pull away, trailing kisses along the pirate's jaw and throat and released his grip on his hair, tilting his head back as Vaan's teeth lightly grazed his neck. He closed his eyes, focusing on Vaan's movements, wondering briefly just who had taught the boy such tricks, cursing his constrictive leather trousers as Vaan bit hard on his neck. He was vaguely aware of the boy's hands moving slightly, but paid little attention, reaching up and stroking Vaan's blonde hair. Balthier thought later that he must have taken this as some kind of sign as the pirate was soon jolted out of his pleasurable trance by Vaan's hands moving to the front of his trousers, quickly unbuttoning the fly and moving to slip his hand inside.

"I don't know how things work in Dalmasca," Balthier began, grabbing Vaan's hand, his tone slightly drowsy with lust, "but here in Archades, that sort of behaviour will get you arrested."

"You want me to though, don't you." Vaan leant back slightly to make eye contact with Balthier, a coy smile playing across his face. "So why not?"

"Not really an option, is it." Balthier replied, stifling a moan as Vaan rolled his hips closer to the pirates, his own excitement evident beneath his baggy trousers.

"Why isn't it an option?" Vaan asked, lowering his head and running his tongue along Balthier's throat, causing him to shiver.

"Because we're in an alleyway. In less civilised settings I might not complain, but I'm not prepared to get myself locked up for a quick fumble."

"Well...uh...where are you staying tonight?" Vaan asked, his voice slightly muffled as his kissed Balthier's neck.

"Why? You won't be going there with me." Balthier replied, breathing heavily.

"Why not?"

"Look, as fun as this has been, I don't think it's a good idea for you to come back with me."

"How come?" Vaan raised his head slightly to look at Balthier. The pirate sighed, disentangling himself from their embrace and turning his back on Vaan.

"Look Vaan, this might not be easy for you to hear, but I think I should say it anyway." Balthier began, folding his arms across his chest. "I'm not interested in some kind of relationship with you. I wouldn't want you to get any ideas if you did come back with me. Gods only know how long we'll be stuck on this journey together and quite frankly having you obsessing over my ship is bad enough. I don't want you obsessing over me as well." Yes, he thought, smiling to himself, that sounded about right. There was no way Vaan could mistake his intentions now. Shame though, he pondered, looking down at his arms, it had been a while since he'd gone to bed with anyone and there was always a certain sense of accomplishment in taking someone's virtue . He heard a stifled sound behind him; gods, was the boy crying? Rolling his eyes, he turned to face Vaan, his annoyance turning to outrage when he realised the youth was laughing, hand clasped over his mouth.

"What," He snapped, "Is so funny?"

"Uhh, I just thought this was some casual thing." Vaan grinned, smoothing down his hair. "I'm not planning on declaring my love for you or anything! But, uh, if you don't want to, that's fine by me."

Balthier regarded Vaan for a few minutes. He would be lying if he said he didn't want to take Vaan up on his offer; perhaps bringing the boy back to his hotel wouldn't be such a bad idea. And besides, he thought, if he does get clingy afterwards, well, no one ever said that Fran and I were on this journey long term.

"Consider yourself warned then." Balthier grinned, tilting his head slightly and gesturing that Vaan should follow him. "Don't blame me if you end up getting hurt."

"So where are you staying then?" Vaan asked as he fell into step with Balthier.

"Just come cheap, anonymous little hotel, somewhere I'm not going to be recognised. Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise for the old man." He finished angrily, glaring up at the Draklor laboratories, looming large over the city.

"Makes sense, I guess. You got anything to drink back at this hotel of yours?" Vaan grinned as they walked side by side through the streets of Rienna.

"No. Even if I did, I wouldn't be giving any to you. Smells like you've already had plenty to drink tonight." Balthier admonished. They walked on in silence for some time, Vaan apparently lost in his own thoughts.

"Balthier?" Vaan finally broke their silence after several minutes. "You weren't surprised that I'm into men as well as women, were you?"

"Hmm? So you find other men attractive as well?"

"What, you think you're the only guy I find attractive?" Vaan laughed. "Why are you so full of yourself?"

"Well you never gave any indication." He glanced up at a building ahead. "Our destination. You can tell me more later."