DISCLAIMER: I do not own Fire Emblem: Awakening

Author's Notes: Four-shot based on the Support with Gaius. Blatant teasing, perverted remarks and general lightheartedness.

Falling face first into his pillow, taking in the smell of sugary goodness, definitely makes Gaius feel a whole lot better. Who would have thought this war-business would have been so taxing on him? But, if anything, it was the Shepherds who were taking it out of him. They were like one big dysfunctional family, who stuck their nose into his business where it didn't belong.

He didn't mind, of course. Gaius generally found that if he maintained an attitude that wouldn't allow him to be completely clouded by what was happening around him, nothing that came up would shock him. He just accepted what happened around him. Or to him. Like his companions, for example.

First there was the honey incident with Sumia. As much as he appreciated her help (which, he kind of didn't), it really was an awkward situation he had tried to explain to Bubbles that he had been stung by near a thousand bees (not really). And she had merely raised her eyebrows at the sight of Sumia and him in her tent, shaking her head in that really motherly way – Cordelia was rubbing off on her far too much for his liking – before ordering them to bathe and rub some salve on the stings. Gaius had to admit though that Bubbles had spent maybe a little too long rubbing salve on his back. Not that he minded of course, and just took it as she needed extra hands for her army gig and couldn't afford any injuries. He gave her the absolute benefit of the doubt then, and completely ignored the reaction he was having to her until he was very much alone.

And then there was Cordelia herself, who had made him her child for the rest of their life, insisting on cutting his hair whenever it was getting too shaggy (although he did like the way she cut it), mending his clothes at the slightest sign of fraying, and throwing him into the nearest pit of water the moment he started to smell. He swore his own mother was never as overbearing in regards to his cleanliness. But at least she left his sweets alone, he supposed. Bubbles on the other hand, well, apparently it was free game, and he had found several lollipops and tarts missing on particular weeks of the months. He thought it was best not to ask, as he often found replacements on his bedroll at later dates.

Chrom was a whole other matter. Blue was still very staunch in his princely ways, and Gaius was very keen on drawing him out of that shell as soon as humanely possible. Whilst he had received several pointed looks from Bubbles when insisting on taking Blue out whenever they passed through towns, it was worth it, seeing the look on Blue's face at life outside castle walls. Of course, it would take quite a bit of time for Blue to adjust, but Gaius enjoyed hearing stories relayed back to him about how fascinating Blue found it all. Bubbles just rolled her eyes when Blue blabbed to her about what had happened, and often told him to shush if he went into particular detail of just where they went. Gaius thought it impolite to tell the ladies exactly where they had gone. After all, what woman wanted to know what really went on in the Red Light District? From the broad range he was currently living with, he could say that very few, if any, actually wanted to know.

Lissa still needed to fine tune her needlework, which allowed him to work on his. He would have thought princesses would have the know-how, but, then again, Lissa wasn't the average princess.

Gaius was pretty sure Whiskers just loved to send him up to great heights just so she could get him down. The woman did however know the best spots to find honey, so all was forgiven.

Cherche always needed that damn spear of hers fixed, which he tried to convince her to replace but apparently she liked his handiwork too much to consider the better option.

Sully was hellbent on making him work to the bone, which he didn't mind too much considering it kept him in shape. Bubbles seemed to agree, because he had found her staring far longer than average after a session of his.

Specs always found him around the campfire just as he pulled that pack of cards from his pocket. Naturally, the woman uncovered all his tricks within minutes, but it was that look on her face when he first baffled her that left him feeling accomplished.

Gaius found that he was just always busy attending to someone's whims or his own. Not that he minded, it just meant he really didn't have a moment to sit back and relax. He was always up and about, tending to the various people he had suddenly welcomed into his life. From the crack of dawn till the dark of night, he was doing something. No rest for the wicked, after all.

All the while this was going on, Bubbles was just there, to the side, smiling or frowning at him, although she wholeheartedly argued that she was far more interested in her books than the going-ons of his life. But she was a presence at the corner of his eye that he found somewhat comforting. He didn't mind the odd eye roll or snicker at his antics from her – after all, he would have made a poor thief if he cared too much.

And then she walked in on him.

Gaius had to admit he had never seen a darker shade of red in his life. Seriously, the girl was lucky he still had his smallclothes on if she was so embarrassed by the possibility of skin. Not to mention that Gaius had actually considered purposely walking into her tent stark naked once or twice (if only for his amusement). But, man, he had never really had that reaction to someone walking in on him before. In any normal situation, the female in question would be more than willing to assist. Not that he took Bubbles to be that kind of girl, but the reception to his physique was always positive (and now he was just sounding incredibly big-headed).

And she had avoided him completely until he had cornered her only hours before (not that he would admit it) in the friendliest way possible – entering her tent to talk shop. Instantly, her face went a deep crimson, and Gaius coughed into one hand to smother his laughter. Seeing the almighty tactician flustered was a rarity, but she made a special effort with him in the past few weeks.

"Gaius, how can I help you?"

He swore on his last treacle that she squeaked as she said his name. If he wasn't just there to tease her, Gaius might have said that Bubbles was ridiculously cute. An absolute demon on the battlefield, but no one could deny that she was absolutely adorable around the camp.

"Just came by to make sure you weren't boring your eyes out into any old book – which you are."

Whilst the pink tinge on her cheeks didn't disappear, her brows knitted into a tiny 'v'. Gaius found the effect absolutely devastating, and instead opted to gaze around the room, absentmindedly rubbing the back of his neck. Anyone else, and well, he would just have loved to be his charming self. Bubbles was ... different than a common village girl – that much was obvious.

Oh no. He was over thinking this far too much.

"Gaius, I am really sorry about earlier. I didn't know you were in the bath and I just walked in without checking. I'm really sorry –"

Gaius waved off her apology, hopefully sparing Bubbles any further embarrassment. It didn't really matter to him. Well, it made him curious as to why he received such a reaction, but he wasn't going to bother with it too much.

"Um, I noticed something, and it has me a little worried, admittedly ..."

Startled, Gaius directed his attention back to her. It would explain so much if she noticed that. How embarrassing. He honestly didn't know how he was going to talk his way out of this one. Gaius made the grand decision to avoid her for some time, just so that they both forgot what she saw.

"It's just, uh, some poison oak I got into the other day, I swear. How embarrassing. I didn't want to say anything so you didn't get worri–"

It was not healthy to stay that lovely shade of pink, Gaius decided, but Bubbles waved her hands animatedly, cutting him off. "I'm talking about the tattoo, Gaius! Not the, uh, rash."

"But you noticed that ... too?"

"Gods, no!"

"You just said–"

"It's the one they use to mark convicted criminals, isn't it?"

Gaius fell silent, his grin slipping. Well, damn, Bubbles actually made him fall silent. If he wasn't so worried about his people perceived him, he might of actually cared that she knew that much. Holding out his right hand, as if he could see the tattoo through his clothes, he shrugged. "That's nothing, really. Made a mistake in getting caught once doing a favour for a mate." He paused, judging her silent reaction carefully. "I'd appreciate if you kept that little nugget under your hat, Bubbles."

"Did you just call me ... 'Bubbles'? Well, I suppose in a roundabout way it is fitting. But don't worry, Gaius, your secret is safe with me."

Gaius fixed Bubbles with a hard stare. It was odd for someone to offer him something and expect nothing in return. Most times, when he had been foolish enough to accept, he had been stabbed in the back for it. Literally and figuratively speaking. Not that he anticipated much back-stabbiness from Bubbles, but he had to be careful. Looks were deceiving. He still wanted to save his own hide, after all.

"Blackmail, is it?"

Exasperated already, Bubbles sighed. "Really, Gaius?"

"I can understand taking this prime opportunity to line your pockets –"

"Are you even listening to me?"

"– You can have my portion of dinner tonight, okay? Will that slake your greed for now?"

Bubbles merely gaped at him for a few good seconds, before snapping her jaw shut and frowning. She didn't understand where this pigheadedness came from, but it was not appreciated in the slightest. "I'm not blackmailing you, Gaius! And one helping of bear is more than enough, so thank you any –"

"A hard bargain, Bubbles! To be expected of a tactician! Take this custard pie as a reward." Pulling a custard pie from thin air, he thrust it into her hands with a great flourish.

"No, thank you," Bubbles muttered, thrusting the pie back into his hands.

"I can assure I don't have any money to spare for ransom, but I do have a very particular set of honey cakes that I can offer ..."

"By the Gods, are you listening to yourself? I don't want any treats from you! I'll keep your blasted secret!"

He had not anticipated her shouting at him in response to him trying to butter her up (man, she was totally different to the other girls), and he admittedly had taken a step back, his fight-or-flight instinct kicking in hard. Gaius had seen Bubbles pissed. It was not a pretty picture.

Rifling through his coat, he held up a bar of chocolate defensively. "Whoa, easy there, Bubbles! Here, maybe a little chocolate will put you in a better mood."

Bubbles harrumphed in response, snatching the chocolate and then promptly ignoring him, muttering to herself about how much she was going to kick his butt, so help her. Gaius snuck out of the tent, thinking that maybe it wasn't the smartest idea, cornering her to tease her about walking in on him. Oh well. It had been fun. He had found out more about the girl that she would like to admit.

Gaius had totally noticed the pile of wrappers at her right elbow, the slightest smudge of chocolate at the left corner of her mouth, how he had actually seen her without that ridiculous cloak on, how underweight she actually looked, those bags under her eyes, lacklustre hair colour ... And the queasy look that graced her features when he offered the pie.

Nodding to himself, Gaius set himself upon having a quiet word to Blue in regards to Bubbles. No matter her position, it was clear she was wearing herself thin in the past few weeks alone. He did have some sort of moral code, after all, and it was his sudden duty to relieve Bubbles of hers.

And he just knew it would piss her off to no end.

Rolling onto his side, if he strained his ears, he could almost hear Blue and Bubbles having a go at each, clearly about what he had whispered to Prince Blue. He made a wager with himself that she would stamp her foot. Two sweet buns if she did. A serving of the chef's mystery meat if she didn't. When he heard the thud of a shoe hitting the ground, he grinned to himself. Bubbles was so predictable. It almost made it too easy to win.

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