As expected, Gaius finds the Shepherds' tactician inside the large tent reserved for strategy meetings with only large, hardbound book for company.

"Hey Bubbles, care to help me with my laundry?"

He hears her mutter something about strange nicknames before looking up from her book and back at him as he stands in front of the tent's entrance. "Not what I was expecting to hear from you. What's this about?"

"Cordelia got on my case about my clothes being in need of a good wash. Figure I'd do something about it before she catches me again and gives me another earful of laundry advice," Gaius replies with a roll of his eyes. "So, gonna put down that dusty old tome and help your ol' pal out? I've got a cookie with your name on it if you do..."

"You do realize I could be studying up on some battle history that could help turn the tides in our next march." She raises the open book in her hands to further her point.

"Or you could be staring blankly at the page, desperately needing a break but stubbornly trying to slog through more text anyway," he counters. Gaius breaks into a lopsided grin as her dark eyes widen in surprise.

"You always get this 'I'm thinking' look on your face when you're really focused. Didn't see it this time, so I figured I wasn't taking you away from anything super important," he explains before she can ask. "So are you coming, or what?"

"...That cookie better be worth it," she relents with a resigned sigh as she marks her place and closes the book before rising from her seat to leave.

It takes a good amount of effort, but Gaius manages to tone down his triumphant smirk to a bearable level as he holds the tent flap open for her.

x

"I know better than to ask when was the last time you washed your clothes," she begins. Gaius has a feeling she's probably spotted that one stain on the back of the left pant leg that even he doesn't know where it came from. "But just how many sweet shops have you robbed lately and how in the world do you keep all of this on you?"

He hears the rustling of fabric and candy wrappers as she drops another handful of sugary confections into the bag holding the rest of the candy she found tucked away in his pockets. Deeming his cloak presentable, he draws it from the stream before looking back to his laundry helper's progress. The once empty bag has begun to bulge at the seams from the massive amount of candy, threatening to spill at a moment's notice.

"I'll have you know that I paid for most of those," he replies as he wrings the excess water of his freshly washed cloak before walking a few paces over and spreading the garment out over a large, flat rock to dry.

"As for my stash, I keep it on me because of what I do. As much as I'd love to keep all this sugary goodness in one nice, safe place, I'd get too easy to track if I kept coming and going to wherever I keep my stash." He dries his hands on his shirt as he approaches and produces another empty sack from one of his larger side pockets. Quickly and carefully, he transfers handfuls of candy to the new bag. "Besides, I can't think of a safer place to keep my sweets than with me."

"Fair enough," she replies a small nod and sets the now candy-free pair of pants next to him. "This one's all clear and ready for the drink."

Gaius thanks her as he sets the second bag full of sweets next to the first, stopping briefly to snatch up a lollipop from the first bag. He makes short work of the wrapper and hums in contentment as he closes his mouth around the candy. With his need for sugar sated for the time being, he picks the unwashed pants and moves closer to the water's edge. As he sets to work on scrubbing out a particularly stubborn stain, the tactician procures a shirt from basket containing the rest of unwashed garments and proceeds to screen the clothing article for candy just as she did with the one before it.

"Maybe you should consider storing part of your stash at the base in the future. I'm sure there's space somewhere in the larder where you can hide all of this," she suggests as she gestures to the two large sacks of candy on the ground. "Unless you plan on leaving the Shepherds anytime soon, that is."

He stops scrubbing and turns toward her with a quirked brow. "And give up the opportunity to be paid in gold and candy for my work? No self-respecting thief would walk away from such a sweet deal."

"Right, what ever was I thinking," she says with a chuckle and a good-natured eye roll.

"Sometimes, I wonder," he remarks teasingly. "Besides, you've seen the women in this army. Eye candy all around. Present company included, of course."

He quickly follows his statement with a winning grin and a wink; a tactic he's used on women while out on the job in as a last ditch effort to keep them from sounding the alarm while he makes his escape.

The tactician only responds with an amused, exasperated shake of her head. "Flatter all you want Gaius, but I am not touching your underwear or your dirty socks. You'll be washing those."

Said maneuver's success rate did vary in the field. Gaius allows himself a small laugh before returning to washing the garment in hand. "Can't blame a guy for trying, Bubbles."

x

"I've been meaning to ask, but of all the nicknames you could have come up with, why Bubbles?" she asks.

Gaius hands her the promised cookie before grabbing another from the jar for himself. He takes a moment to appreciate the baked treat in his hand and licks his lips in anticipation. "Does it bother you?"

"I have to admit, it's grown on me. Much like a bad rash," she says with a smile before continuing. "But you've given more obvious ones to Sumia and Chrom. I'm curious as to what your thoughts were behind the one you gave me."

"I guess it just fit at the time. After all, you nearly caught me in the bath," he replies before taking a bite of his cookie, chewing it slowly and savoring it with an audible hum.

She stops nibbling and sighs into her treat. "Bah, don't remind me about that. I've had enough bath time run-ins for a life time."

Gaius blinks before swallowing his latest bite.

"You sayin' I'm not the only guy you've walked in on," he begins as his mouth pulls into a devious grin, "or did someone walk in on you?"

The less than ideal timing of his question nearly costs the Shepherds their tactician by means of a mouthful of cookie going down the wrong pipe; Gaius takes this as a resounding yes on both accounts.


Author's Notes: Had way too much fun writing Gaius. Trying something different and keeping the Avatar/Female!Tactician nameless. It seems like the right thing to do in my mind since said unit isn't really limited to a certain name. Do let me know if this works/doesn't work for you. Thanks for giving this a read!