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Of Oblivious Knights and Mischievous Thieves

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“You’re so adorable.”

Duran immediately felt indignant and he turned to glare in the thief's direction. Instead of wilting beneath his stare, Hawkeye's smile widened. Both cocky and mischievous. His gaze held his for a moment before they drifted down to the ground before him. He remained facing him, but his eyes looked elsewhere. 

"That's a lot from someone who can't look me in the eye longer than three seconds," Duran retorted.

It was something that Hawkeye had done the moment they had met. 

Hawkeye stood before the invisible barrier, muttering to himself about getting through when Duran approached him. The purple-haired thief had idly glanced in his direction, prompted by the sound of his feet when he suddenly did a double-take. And did that slow, inspecting pan that Duran had experienced multiple times in his life.

He appeared friendly enough, if a little chatty. He needed through the barrier and Duran saw no negativity in letting him tag along with him.

But that was before he realised that the other man kept looking at him, but not holding his eyes for longer than a few seconds while they spoke.

Instead of being sheepish at being caught out in his little act, Hawkeye snorted lightly in amusement. His gaze remained lowered, however, looking idly at the ground, and at Duran without actually raising to look upon his face for longer than two or three seconds.

It almost felt that he was…inspecting him. Or something. 

Still, the fact that he barely looked into his eyes was starting to grate on him. Ok, sure, they’ve only just met but it was still agitating!

"Why won't you look me in the eyes?" Duran asked.

"I'm too busy looking at something else," was Hawkeye’s swift and wholly unexpected response.

Duran unconsciously tilted his head slightly to the side, his face creasing into a look of confusion. "Looking at what?"

"Your abs."

The confusion deepened as Duran's hand threw up to touch his bare stomach. That definitely wasn’t the answer he had expected. Especially when Hawkeye sounded so nonchalant about it. 

"My abs?"

“They’re very impressive,” Hawkeye complimented with a smile.

“Oh, ah,” Duran stuttered. “Thanks?”

Hawkeye suddenly closed the gap between and stood directly in front of Duran. The sudden closeness surprised him, but he remained steadfast, ready to defend himself if necessary. Though…he didn’t necessarily feel anything threatening from the other man.

Although, he certainly didn’t expect Hawkeye to suddenly place his hands against his sides and squeeze.

Duran uttered a yelp, though rather surprisingly made no attempt to pull away. “What are you doing?” he did have the mind to ask.

“I see,” Hawkeye murmured, his expression that of severe concentration. “They’re as taut as I had expected.”

“Well, I am a knight,” Duran swiftly retorted, though he was still completely and utterly confused. Especially by his sheer inability to pull away.

“Hmm,” was all Hawkeye replied with, however. 

How long the thief was going to, ah, physically inspect his stomach and sides, Duran didn’t know. And he most certainly had no idea why he was letting him touch him!

But as Hawkeye trailed a thumb just under the hem of Duran’s vest, he finally moved. But it was a grimace, his stomach muscles tightening because…it tickled.

“Oh, are we ticklish~?” Hawkeye suddenly exclaimed, a smile of pure mischievousness on his lips.

“No,” Duran insisted firmly, perhaps a little too much.

Hawkeye didn’t believe him. His impish expression stated as much. And Duran feared that the thief might try to test his theory.

The sound of scurrying promptly reminded the two of them that they were indeed in the middle of a cave. A cave system filled with monsters.

It was then that Duran finally moved. As he stepped backwards, away from Hawkeye and turned toward the approaching monsters, he noted that he was mildly surprised at the relief and disappointment he felt. Why would he be disappointed? Disappointed with what?

And why did his stomach suddenly twist into knots?

He shook his head. He was just…antsy to get moving. Yeah. First time away from home and all that.

As Duran lifted his sword over his shoulder, Hawkeye stepped around him and…slapped him lightly on the butt. The hit wasn’t hard nor painful, but it was sudden and unexpected. And that caused Duran to utter an extremely undignified yelp and jump a half-foot in the air.

His face flared with embarrassment as he whipped around to stare at the thief. Hawkeye, however, seemed pleased with himself as he sent Duran a strangely playful wink.

“You really are adorable~”

Duran had felt embarrassment more times than he would like to know that he was blushing severely. And yet…he didn’t feel angry. Surprised was definitely something he felt. But not angry.

Something else…something he couldn’t quite identify.

That thief…what was he trying to do?

He tried to concentrate on battle, but fairy started to chirp at him from inside his head. “You really don’t know what he’s doing, Duran?”

“Throw me off guard? I mean, what else could it be?” 

“Um…maybe he was flirting with you?” Fairy returned slowly.

Duran outright scoffed at that. “Flirting? Why would he do that?”

Fairy sighed loudly. “Honestly, Duran, you really are adorable.”

Duran felt indignant once more. “I’m not adorable!”