Fandom: Mass Effect/Final Fantasy XII
Spoilers: Implied, for Garrus's recruitment mission in ME2
Notes: Written for the 2016 Final Fantasy Kiss Battle, to a prompt by lassarina. This is justira's fault, entirely. My first time writing any sort of ME fic at all, so be gentle.
Also on AO3.
Garrus flipped a credit chit at the bartender. "Another," he said.
The asari shot him a hard glare. "Haven't you had enough already?" In answer, Garrus glared back, and the asari picked up the chit with a heavy sigh. "Fine." She tapped the chit to the reader, then frowned. "Huh."
"What?" Garrus drained the dregs of his drink and pushed the glass to the side. "Something wrong?"
"It's been declined," the bartender said.
Garrus clicked his mandibles in irritation. "That can't be right," he said. "Try it again."
The bartender crossed her arms. "It won't work," she snapped. "Besides, like I said, you've had enough."
"Fine," Garrus rumbled. "I'm sure another bar on Omega would be happy to take my money."
"Be my guest." The bartender tossed the chit at his face, but before it could hit him, a hand snatched it neatly out of the air.
Garrus turned; the hand belonged to the human man sitting next to him at the bar. The man studied the chit, pushed it toward Garrus, and then pulled another out of his vest pocket. "Let me cover it," he said.
The asari looked at him, glanced at Garrus, then turned back to the man. "You sure?"
The man shrugged. "Why not? I hate to see a good fellow go begging for a drink. And I'll take another of these" -- he tilted his own empty glass in her direction -- "as long as you're at it."
"He's not exactly begging," the bartender grumbled, but she took the proffered chit and verified it before pouring the two drinks and handing them over. Then she slid around to the other side of the bar, as though to avoid any further conversation, not giving them another look.
Garrus turned toward his seatmate, who he thought might provide better company. "My thanks," he said, lifting the brandy snifter.
"Cheers," the man replied, clinking his tumbler against Garrus's glass before taking a drank.
Garrus sipped at his own drink, savoring the burn as it went down. "You're fast," he commented.
"I suppose so." The man picked up the credit chit that the bartender had left in front of him and walked it over the backs his fingers, a trick of agility no turian could hope to imitate. Then he stuck it back in the pocket of his gold brocade vest with a shrug. "Comes with the territory."
Garrus noted the old-fashioned flint-lock pistol hanging off the man's belt, the ruffles on his shirt. "And what territory would that be?"
"Terminus, naturally." The man set down his glass. "But I have been remiss in making introductions." He tapped his chest. "Balthier, captain of the Strahl, at your service. And you?"
"Garrus Vakarian," he said, holding out his hand for a shake. "Of nowhere in particular, these days."
"Not a native, are you?" Balthier pulled back with a wry smile. "Although no one here truly is, excepting perhaps Aria herself." He glanced down at Garrus's hand. "Quite a grip you have, there."
"Like you said, comes with the territory." Garrus glanced at the heavy rifle propped on the stool next to his leg. "It takes a steady hand to dance with the Widow."
"And fine dance partner she is, if you know the steps." Balthier nodded. "Though a fellow with arms as long as yours can surely fight at close range, at need."
"At need," Garrus agreed. "When you go up against the mercs on Omega, you take whatever advantage you can get." He tipped his head sideways and narrowed his eyes. Was Balthier flirting with him? It seemed probable, but with humans, it could be hard to tell.
Pleasant as the thought might be, it was time to call it a night. Garrus drained his drink and lightly set the glass on the bar. "Thanks for the drink. I won't presume on you for another."
"You are certain?" Balthier cocked an eyebrow. "We might find somewhere else for you to buy a round."
Garrus shook his head. "Nah, I'm good for toinght. Besides, that was an idle threat, mostly. This place has the best selection of dextro-alcohol on the station, and I'll be back tomorrow, ready to be extorted again." He tapped his temporarily-useless credit chit on the bar -- he'd have to restock it in the morning. "Care to join me? I'd be happy to add you to my tab." He widened his eyes into a grin. "Such as it is."
Balthier chuckled. "Consider it a date," he said, sliding off the barstool. "You seem a likely sort to swap some good war stories. For now, perhaps you'll walk me back to my ship? I arrived only yesterday, and the comings and goings of the station are still a mystery to me."
"I've only been here a few weeks myself, but I'll do my best." Garrus stood, steadying himself on the bar before retrieving his rifle. Maybe the bartender had been right about that last drink. Just as well to have company, then.
He pocketed his credit chit and followed Balthier out of the bar. At the exit, they paused. "Which berth?"
"Forty seven," Balthier replied. He looked to his left, then pointed right. "That way?"
"You've got it." Garrus clicked his jaw, amused. "See, you don't need me."
"To the contrary." Balthier glanced sideways up at him. "There are at least five turns ahead of us, through a dark and secluded area, and where would I be if I forgot one of them?"
Garrus had to smile, mandibles flaring. Yes, Balthier was definitely flirting. Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe he'd just been alone too long, but Garrus found himself distinctly intrigued. Even if Balthier was human. "After you, then."
They walked down the hallway in comfortable silence, Balthier checking the turns and Garrus confirming them, until they reached the entrance to the berth. Balthier turned, brushing Garrus's hand with his own. A casual touch, light, and entirely suggestive. "My thanks for a pleasant evening."
"Same to you." Garrus bowed slightly, then straightened to keep from wobbling again. "Looking forward to tomorrow."
"As am I." Balthier stepped in close, eyebrow raised, lips slightly parted. It seemed like a signal, and Garrus obeyed it, leaning down to press his mouth on Balthier's. His skin was warm, soft, almost like kissing a pillow. Unusual, but pleasant. Comforting. The sour scent of levo-alcohol blended with Balthier's own musky smell, and Garrus found himself leaning in closer, curving a hand around Balthier's shoulder while Balthier stroked his left mandible, a thrill that went down to his toes.
After a moment, Balthier backed away, and Garrus let him go. "Tomorrow, then."
"Tomorrow," Garrus echoed, and watched him disappear into the berth. He had no idea where this new friendship -- relationship? romance? whatever it was -- might be headed, but it would definitely be fun to find out.
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