Gaius was very familiar with messes-he was actually pretty good at making them-but the tactician's tent always seemed to be in a mess he didn't know how to deal with. A flurry of papers and books were strewn about and he had a good feeling the man usually slept in a small pocket of the tent left slightly less covered. How he got over to that point was probably the secret knowledge of the gods and Robin himself. Stepping into that territory made him a little more uneasy than he already felt. He'd sincerely hoped to find Robin tucked off in some part of camp he could drag him into some privacy to talk without alerting anyone.
Gaius didn't much like poking his nose into other people's tents as it was, at least not for his own damn hide anyway. He stalled at the "doorway" and shifted a bit in place when the other man never looked up from his work. Robin had his face buried in a book, pen in hand, a map set up under everything else with a page of notes off to the side and the pen tip resting right on it. It must have been a fairly serious session as the man actually had that long mess of dark hair pulled back out of his face.
Doubting thoughts dribbled their way into Gaius' mind as he couldn't find his usual casual greeting for Robin. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to turn around, never come back about this, carry on with life. All those things sounded nice and as he was just about to cave Robin looked up, clearly startled.
"Gaius...what're you doing just standing there...?"he asked flatly, once he got over the surprising figure in his doorway.
Gaius glanced over his shoulder and then made his way inside. No turning back now. "Hey Bubbles, see you got your nose in your ink again."
Robin's eyes crossed for a brief moment as he tried to look and see if any ink actually managed to make it that far, but it wasn't like he could really see. He rubbed it anyway, just to be sure. "You're serious...?"
Gaius gave the man a moment to fuss over it before saying anything else. "You got it, you're fine."
Eyes still on red-head, Robin very slowly set his pen down where it wouldn't make a mess and straightened up to give Gaius his full and proper attention. "So, did you need something then?" he asked in his usual, more business-like way.
Now that he was there and being asked, Gaius had no idea how to phrase his question. It felt like somebody just punched all of his language skills out from his gut. "Uh...well...I didn't need anything exactly. I guess it's kinda more like a favor."
Robin raised an eyebrow. "A favor? What kind of favor?" he questioned right away with a very obvious skeptical tone to his voice.
"I don't need any thing! Like stuff. I'm not asking for money or anything. Let's just get that out first, okay?" Gaius blurted back. That flustering, annoying discomfort found its way back into his stomach and he couldn't say he invited it in there. It was the slow type of conversational poison; felt bad every so often and then really struck at the end and ruined everything. He would just have to strike first.
"It's a question. Like...a hypothetical question. Questions about stuff that hasn't happened yet and guessing is kinda like your thing, right Bubbles?" He paused there when he got quite the look in return.
"It's not just guessing. It's using all the information I have, that I know and how well I know the people around me and their capabilities. It starts with strategies and moves into various tactics...I...You don't want a explanation of this do you?" Robin started and stopped himself, putting his elbow to the table and setting his head in his hand.
"Not really, nope. Hear me out though. So you're really good at this strategical tactics business and all. I mean, I don't think big Blue's keeping you around just so he has another mouth to feed. Anyway, I was thinking, since you're pretty good at thinking about thinking like that you can probably do thinking about all kinds of other junk," he attempted to explain, but the more he tried to explain it the harder it was to avoid the issue.
It didn't seem to click with the tactician either as the dirty look he was giving Gaius melted off into confusion. He narrowed his eyes worked out words like they were fighting his tongue. "Are you...asking for my help with something?"
The man was a genius. Gaius' face lit up into a smile, grinning even for a moment. The less explaining he had to do for himself the better. That was always true. "Yeah, exactly like that. I'm looking for just a little help from your noggin. You don't have to lift even one pretty little finger."
Sometimes, he thought he couldn't open his mouth without becoming immediately suspicious as the look on Robin's face was pretty obvious. "You're not plotting some kind of big heist or something are you? I'm not going to help you steal anything."
"No stealing! I'm not taking anything. I mean, unless it's a good idea, but I don't think it's gonna be a good idea. I'm asking you for reasons that I don't want to go into."
The following silence came around in one of those uncomfortable clouds that hung around overhead and silently judged whoever caused it. At least he felt like it had to be with the way Robin didn't seem to be able to work that one out.
"You're acting...different, Gaius. Look, if you need to talk about something..." Robin began, but he didn't quite finish.
"No, I got it. I definitely got it. It's...advice. I just...wanna ask for a little advice on things, Bubbles. Okay? Worries gone?"
A slow smile cracked over Robin's lips. "If anything I'm worrying more. But I can still hear you out. Just ask me next time. I really don't mind."
It was Gaius' turn to give him an distrustful look. "And nobody is gonna hear about this later?"
"Not a soul. Being able to keep a secret is part of my job."
"Like that thing." Gaius made a gesture at his arm and left it at that. Robin nodded and chuckled slightly.
"And not blackmailing over them."
"Definitely not blackmailing."
Gaius gave him a smaller repeat of the same look and got a glare back.
"I'm not going to blackmail you for the last time. I won't over this either. You have my word," Robin insisted, turning his glare into more of a reassuring look.
That annoying feeling buzzed around his stomach again. It made him wish he hadn't eaten. Of course, out of all the things to run into again in this camp, this would be the thing to come up. When he finally got to forcing words out of his piehole they were less than smooth. "So Bubbles, you make someone pretty terribly mad..."
"Who do I make mad? What did I do?"
Gaius' palm slapped into his forehead. Maybe it was time to cut his losses and run. "I mean... hypothetically you make somebody pretty tart. Ruffle their feathers up bad. Like...maybe you plucked a couple of those feathers too?"
"Did you steal something from someone?"
"No! Nothing got stolen! Well yeah, it did, but that was a long time ago and we can't change the past, Bubbles. Can we focus on the question?" As soon as he started thinking about the specifics, Gaius started to pace across the short distance he had to pace inside the messy tent. This place felt a little smaller than it needed to be now.
"You made someone upset with you...and you want to ask me about making someone mad, but you won't tell me what happened to make them mad?" Robin worked out, his eyes following Gaius' pacing.
"Hypothetically, someone made someone else mad. I don't wanna drop any names here. It was like..." Gaius paused there, both in speech and the motion of his feet. Somewhere under that mess of cloak, his shoulders slumped. "Say I...you did something you can't exactly take back. Something people don't normally give out free passes on. You did...a thing you can't change. Once you do that...there's no fixing that, is there?"
He could feel Robin's gaze fixed on him with that kind of intensity he usually reserved for the battlefield and working. Maybe he was reading him, but in that case, Gaius didn't really want to be read. He kept himself a bit turned away, eyes elsewhere. That might do for mind-reading repellant.
"Well," he began after a long pause, "If I ever did something that terrible...I think I would seek forgiveness once I realized it was a mistake."
"Forgiveness is a pretty tall request, isn't it?" he asked back more casually, glancing Robin's the way. That strong look had faded off into a more normal, thoughtful one and Gaius reacted pretty quick and put up a more natural stance as well.
"It could be, but that's probably the thing I would want. Although, in this case, it isn't really about the person who messed up. It's more about the person who was hurt by his actions, right?"
"Right. And doing something to balance that out. I guess that's kinda steep business too..."
Robin shook his head. "If the effort is honest, I think it's worth something. An attempt someone like that might do to try to fix things-whatever it might be-as long as they were in his own way and didn't really make the matter worse, it would open the door to starting to fix whatever the issue is. It might not ever happen, but to honestly try and put your all into it...it should at least be a start." He smiled more widely Gaius' way. "Forgiveness is a big request sometimes, but that doesn't mean there's no point in at least trying to make up for mistakes; whether forgiveness comes or not. That's what I think I would want anyway."
Gaius fell silent for a moment, letting those words soak in his head before speaking up again. "And if that person doesn't want to forgive you or even talk to you?"
"Do what you can from a distance you can. You can't really force your wishes on anyone; however, if you care about them and what you did, I'm sure you'll find a way to set things right."
"From a distance..." Gaius muttered as he digested that idea. Robin took his quiet for a signal to go on.
"Forgiveness comes from two sides. If one side won't budge then at least the other can do what they can to avoid letting the same mistake be made again. If this wronged person won't listen to you, Gai—to your hypothetical person, Gaius, then that person will just have to make sure it doesn't happen again," Robin carried on, stumbling over that a bit to correct his near-miss with his phrasing. "It's like you said, we can't change the past, but the future's open ahead of us, as long as we're making that effort to change it."
After everything Robin said, the answer seemed stupefyingly obvious. Here Gaius had been, beating himself over the head to come up with a proper idea, some kind of fancy words that might help somehow, but it was simple. Simple he could work with a lot easier. Burying himself in regret didn't do much to solve the problem or to lighten the weight on his chest. Maybe he hadn't done everything he could just yet, especially not now that the issue had some into the light again.
"If it's too late...?" Gaius asked quietly, his eyes on the floor as he was still mulling all this over.
Robin rested his head back in his hand and kept smiling. "That's not really a good excuse to not try at all, if you asked me."
Crossing his arms over his chest, Gaius gave Robin a bigger grin in return. "Well, I guess our man is just gonna have to give it a shot then."
"I guess he is. He might feel a little better to at least know he tried," Robin answered with a knowing tone. Gaius had a damn good feeling that the brainy one had already picked apart his words and figured out the situation at least a little bit. He didn't like that particularly, but even though he was the center of attention sometimes, Robin wasn't chatty about private stuff. For a man who couldn't remember his own private life, at least he guarded other peoples' fairly well. The thought helped drain away that fluttering feeling from earlier.
"He might. He's not good at much, but there's something..."
"And that is?"
Gaius grinned and gestured with his index finger over his lips. "That's secret, Bubbles," he said as he winked and turned for the doorway. He paused mid-step and turned around, riffling through his various pockets and hiding places until he turned out a hard candy. He set the candy on Robin's book and grinned just a bit wider. "There you go. You know, for keeping it to yourself."
Robin put on a look somewhere between amusement and being offended. "I really don't need a bribe."
"No, I insist. It's on me. Just one though. I can't part with more than one."
It left him shaking his head, but Robin pocketed the candy and let the issue go. Sometimes there was no reasoning with the red-head. "Fine. You don't have to give me anything next time though. If you want to talk again."
"I'll remember that if I want to start a tab or something," Gaius snarked back, still grinning away. He made his turn for the door then, waving over his shoulder.
"There's no tab!" Robin groaned and let out a sigh. "Just...be careful out there."
"You got it, Bubbles. See ya'," Gaius called back and cut a path through the camp as casually as he could manage. Walking around with so many cluttered thoughts didn't suit him, but as he made it to the outskirts of the circle he found those thoughts were getting a little more organized. He didn't expect to run in, save the day and fix everything, but there was a safe distance he could work from. Nabbing something wouldn't put things right; however, he had at least one more skill. He could keep the sharp part of his blade pointed the right way. Maybe it wasn't very much, but it was a place to start.
"She won't even see me if I'm watching her back," he decided there, looking out across the field. He played dumb sometimes, but it wasn't like he never saw the dirty look that person gave him the second she laid eyes on him. Even though it would take time and probably a lot of putting his tail in danger, this was something he could do.
Shouting and a figure riding over the distance caught Gaius' attention. "Risen! Just north of here, near town!" the scout yelled out, immediately sending the camp right into battle preparations. Chrom appeared on the scene so fast, Gaius could have sworn the man popped into existence at the first sign of trouble. The prince and the tactician teamed up fast to get orders out and the army moving north, the latter taking details from the scout and already making plans of attack. They were definitely an impressive team.
Gaius snapped back to his own position, knowing what he needed to do. He made himself scarce, but just as ready to go. Soon enough, he picked out the blonde saddling up her horse and preparing to ride out as well. Part of him itched to go say something so he convinced himself that was the stupid part talking. If the girl knew he intended to keep back and watch out for her safety, she would probably think he was a cretin. More than she already thought he was a cretin anyway. "Considering Twinkles, she'd easily say it to my face," he thought.
Something about the idea drudged up a bitter laugh out of him. That was how it had to be, at least for now. He had to start somewhere.