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The captain had always been a bit pushy, he knew. He spent a lot of time just doing whatever the hell he pleased; though the masked erune always acted averse to the way he behaved he couldn’t help but feel attracted to it. He made him feel… well, special. Before long, he could feel another feeling begin to rise for the captain, one that wasn’t just respect. He struggled to push those thoughts out of his mind, though he had no real friends to call upon to talk about matters of the heart. He could, perhaps, speak to the leader of his original crew, though he isn’t sure how that would affect either his predicament or his image. As a result, he spent a lot of time thinking about how he felt about the prospect of a romance, and while he wouldn’t call it agonizing, it wasn’t exactly pleasant.

After some time had passed, in which the eternal had come into new strength after mastering the awakened six-ruin fist, he’d decided then and there that his feelings were indeed real. It did help things in his head to find that the captain had reciprocated (he could tell very early on; if nothing else, he was a lot touchier with him than any other member of their crew, sans maybe the summoner and the dragon). He decided not to say anything though, not for fear of initiation, but to offer the captain a chance to make some kind of special occasion for it. Knowing himself, he would probably offer something too pragmatic for the circumstance.

So, the time came and went. They did share more than a few intimate moments, though it became more and more readily apparent that his captain was wholly unaware of his own feelings toward himself, which… being honest, annoyed him. He was always so curious how a man who was so cunning with such a knack for tactics and so quick to pick up on new fighting styles and techniques could be so stupid at times. It wasn’t really like he could speak too much about other people being a bit dense given his own track record, but considering the situation directly involved him, he found himself in a slightly better position to say something.

They spent the time in much of the same way; fighting, training, celebrating, traveling, relaxing, etcetera. The captain moved at his own leisurely pace, and no one seemed to mind. Sometimes he’d look upon his captain and just smile. He’d made a lot of bad decisions in the past, ones that he was ashamed of, ones he could have been prouder of, but this was not one of them. He knew he’d never regret this decision. So, he didn’t mind waiting until the time was right to say something.

Then March came rolling in, bringing with it the spring breeze and the changing of the seasons. As the man in question didn’t join the crew until much later, he had no idea what everyone was so festive for, but he soon came to find out that March was when the crew was first founded. Since then, there were many recruits, but they always held a celebration in March, making sure to land in Zinkenstill, the hometown of the captain and his dragon. Preparations for a party began immediately, some people getting more into it than others. He… well he had an image to maintain, so he didn’t offer much help. Rather he felt… out of place. He passed his time like usual, though his captain was notably absent from much of his itinerary. Hell, he seemed to be avoiding him.

Great.

Soon, the day of the party finally arrived. He bailed. While he was more than sure that his captain wasn’t avoiding him maliciously, it hurt his feelings no less. The way he saw it, there was no reason for someone who’d ruin the party to be there. He had no wish to see festivities, neither was he in the mood. As the sun started to set, he finally found a nice cliff to hang out on top of and watch the sunset. This town sure was beautiful, he thought. A view like this was hard to find.

“Yo.”

Seox looked down on his right, only to find his captain sitting there at the edge of the spot he just found, dressed in a suit and tie. It was a really good look, especially compared to his usual attire. He was fortunate that his mask hid the rosy blush that crept up his cheeks. The way the sunlight hit the figure of the young captain was breathtaking—even moreso than the sunset itself. Noticing he’d been silent for a moment too long, he offered his own greeting.

“I thought you were avoiding me.”

“Hah. You noticed?”

“You can’t hide anything from me, Gran.”

Gran offered a bashful smile before patting the grass beside him, a silent invitation. Compared to usual, he could tell that Gran had really cleaned up for this party. The pleasant aroma of a new soap and shampoo wafted through the air. Before he took his seat, he threw off his hood and removed his mask, placing it on the ground beside him.

“What’s the occasion?”

“Same occasion as for your suit.”

Gran gave a hearty laugh. His snarky comments never really got to him. It was cute, he thought. Even in simple interactions like this he often though that he really loved his captain. After a few moments of silence, just enjoying the breeze as it came and looking over the sunlit city while the sun slowly faded, Gran spoke up. 

“I was raised here in Zinkenstill. Well, me and Vyrn. I used to come to this cliff whenever I was feeling upset. I was surprised when you popped up.”

“Well I wasn’t feeling upset.”

“I never accused you of it,” he said, offering a toothy smile. “But for someone who isn’t upset about it, you sure do sound upset!”

Seox offered a small chuckle of his own. He just couldn’t stay mad at him. “Alright, you got me. It was… kind of annoying that you were avoiding me. I felt out of place with all of these festivities. It’s no place for a guy like me.”

“That’s not true at all! If you weren’t there, there’d be no point to this whole thing!”

“I’m not the captain, though,” he retorted, flicking him on the forehead. “So? What are you doing up here?”

Still rubbing the spot on his forehead, he downcast his head and offered a somber smile. “I wanted to think for a bit. I just realized something.”

Seox tilted his head in confusion.

“After having this conversation, though, I think I know what to do. Talking to you always cheers me up.” The captain gave him a little smile and instantly he felt his heart melt away. He scratched the back of his head for a moment and he could almost hear the blood rushing to his face.

“Well you’re welcome,” he mumbled, almost incoherently.

“Awww, are you blushing?”

Quickly he donned his mask and hood again, seeing this conversation would be entirely too much for him to handle. Gran gave a hearty laugh again, then asked if he’d come back to the ship with him. He protested for a bit, but eventually gave up arguing with him. His fears were entirely assuaged when he returned to see the crew glad to have him and Gran back in tow. He spent the majority of his night enjoying the festivities with everyone.

Long after the sun had retreated into the horizon, Gran approached Seox. The party was mostly finished, and most were passed out somewhere on the ship or in their rooms. It was exactly private, but they were mostly alone.

“Seox.”

“Gran.”

“So….? How’d you like it?”

“It was… enjoyable.”

“So, then I proved you wrong.”

He tilted his head again in confusion.

“You said you didn’t belong. Admit you belong here.”

Seox turned his gaze away. “I don’t think I belong amid such festivities. I’m m—”

Gran cut him off, seizing his mask and turning his face toward himself. “Admit it!”

Seox scrunched up his face a bit, then shoved the man off him. “Like hell I will! You and I both know I don’t belong here!”

“I don’t give a damn where you belong! I want you here!”

“What?”

Gran paused for a moment. Seox could practically see steam rising from his ears.

“Y… Y-You heard me! I said I want you here!”

Seox laughed. Not his usual quiet chuckle, but a real genuine laugh.

“I feel like dancing all of a sudden.”

“Where did that come from?”

“Hey, Nio,” he called. She met the call with a pluck of a harp string. “Can you play us one last song tonight?”

Another pluck of a harp string. He fully removed his coat and threw it to the wind as he extended a hand to his captain. Gran accepted it graciously. Seox was surprisingly well versed in ballroom dance etiquette, though Gran couldn’t figure out why he would have such a skill. They moved as one; as their feet traced each other’s steps, their hands firmly clasped, their breathing in sync. Seox’s smile was wide the whole time, his lips seemingly sewn to a grin. Before long, they finished their dance, though Nio’s song was far from finished.

“You like dancing?”

“I don’t.”

Gran tilted his head in confusion this time. Seox smiled at him, walking over to pick up his mask.

“I don’t like dancing, but I feel like dancing when I’m with you.”

The captain laughed. “What kind of sense does that make?”

Gran retrieved the discarded coat, wrapping it around the shoulders of the eternal. They passed a moment in awkward silence before the captain broke it with a small chuckle.

“I kind of get what you mean, though. When I’m with you I feel weird and out of character as well. I guess now’s as good a time as any to admit this, huh? Seox, I—”

“I know. It was so obvious, Captain.”

“Let me say it.”

He didn’t really want to hear it. He knew he’d melt away if he heard him say the words he wanted to hear for so long. He didn’t want to be put in a situation that’d compromise his image.

“Alright.”

“Seox,”

Actually, fuck this, he thought.

“I lo—”

He pressed his lips against his captain’s.