Some days were worse than others.
"What rhymes with 'adored'?" Balmung asked.
"Bored, scored, word," Reki rattled off, the majority of his mind miles away, but a few braincells having stuck around to deal with the kind of inane questions Balmung occasionally bugged him with while they were both supposed to be working.
"No, no, and that doesn't actually rhyme, so no again. Retry?"
It wouldn't be so bad if Balmung actually ever asked him anything that was related to their work, Reki reflected; that was what they 'shared' this space for, after all. Reki seemed to be the only one who considered it obligatory for all conversation that took place here to be work-related though.
"Since you only seem to want my input so that you can dismiss it out of hand, I don't see why I should bother," Reki snapped - the Descendant of Fianna might be a legend, but in this office, he was just Balmung; irresponsible, impossible and the object of Reki's irrational affection.
"It's for Valentine's Day," Balmung said with a winning smile. "I'm trying to write a poem."
Reki counted to ten. Slowly. Balmung's smile stayed on, so he forced himself to take a deep breath and start over again - by the time he reached nine, a glimpse of uncertainty might have flitted over Balmung's features, although it was hard to say and, of course, Reki wouldn't have put it past Balmung to program his avatar to be able to keep on smiling the exact same infuriating smile all day long.
"Don't you think it's a little cheap to ask me to help you write a Valentine's poem?"
Upper management had been hesitant about a special event on the occasion of Valentine's Day - one of their arguments had been that The World was visited by people from all over the world, and that it would be difficult to come up with something that matched all of the different traditions associated with Valentine's Day. Balmung had commented to Reki, in private, that he suspected management just wasn't 'feeling the love'.
Balmung himself did 'feel the love', naturally - sufficiently so that he was able to convince the management to okay a Valentine's Day event. His main argument had been that 'if it's cool enough and if we put out some cool special items, nobody's going to say anything about it except that it was one of the coolest special events of the year' - in slightly different terms, perhaps, but Reki felt this really had been the main point of Balmung's argument.
"Why?" Balmung sounded honestly surprised.
Reki managed not to quite lose his temper. As if it wasn't bad enough that Balmung was slacking off again while he ought to be working ... well, if he was going to ask Reki to come up with an idea for a Valentine's Day special event at the last minute, Reki was going to turn him down flat. Well, he'd try very hard to turn Balmung down flat. At the very least, he'd make it very clear to Balmung that it was a nuisance, and that Balmung couldn't always count on Reki to take care of things.
"Because ... because you're going to give that poem to the person you love!" Reki burst out. "It's something personal! If you're going to make me help you with it, that's just ... wrong."
Reki knew his face was flushed - his own avatar was standard-issue, at least when it came to displaying emotions. It was one of the greatest things of The World, in Reki's opinion; people's emotions showed on the faces of their avatars, just like in the real world.
Balmung blinked. Reki got the uncomfortable feeling he'd just made a fool of himself, getting all worked up over something that was, when it came down to it, pretty small stuff. Besides, he should have gotten used to Balmung by now.
"I-I'm sorry," he said a little awkwardly.
"Don't mention it," Balmung said, looking slightly distracted.
Reki nodded, once, and went back to ... whatever he'd been doing before, or trying to do before, since Balmung had a habit of distracting him, even when he wasn't saying anything.
"It's not for you, you know."
"What isn't?" Reki asked absently.
"Oh." Well, he hadn't really counted on it, he told himself - obviously, even Balmung wouldn't go so far as to ask Reki's help in writing his own Valentine's poem. In fact, that 'even' was unfair; Balmung was a romantic at heart, and if Reki sometimes found that annoying, then he found it sort of ... cute almost as often. And no matter how it looked and felt, The World wasn't real. It stood to reason that even if he and Balmung were more than friends in The World, that didn't mean Balmung wouldn't - well, if Reki felt a bit hurt by Balmung's matter-of-fact-ness about there being someone else, then he had nothing and nobody else to blame for it except his own foolishness.
"Right now, I've got 'A beet is sweet/but a fill-in-the-blank is adored'. C'mon, Reki, help me out here."
" 'A beet is sweet'," Reki repeated incredulously.
Balmung looked proud.
"Isn't that a bit of a ... weird line for a love poem?" Reki said weakly.
"Who said it was a love poem? It's a clue-hidden-inside-a-poem," Balmung said. "For the special event. But I'm thinking that maybe I should change that 'adored'; it looks like that's not going to work out."
"W-what special event?" Reki knew the answer the moment he'd asked; there was only one special event on the agenda after all. "Valentine's Day?"
Balmung nodded. "They're going to get to hunt for treasure-chests."
"It's symbolic for - well, it's symbolic for something that's got everything to do with Valentine's day," Balmung said. "I haven't quite worked out that part yet."
"It's not that important, anyway," Balmung continued quickly. "The important thing is that everybody's going to have fun - and they will, I'm sure. Everybody always loves treasure-hunts."
"And there's some really cool special prizes they can win." Balmung gave him a look that put Reki instantly at his guard. "Would you like to see them? I could show them to you, if you'd grant me dress-privileges to your avatar."
"If it's clothes, you could put them on yourself," Reki pointed out with a sigh. Balmung loved special items that were, as some of the players put it, 'useless'. Balmung disagreed, of course, claiming that The World was as much about having a good time and meeting new people as it was about combat, if not even more, meaning that there was no such thing as 'useless' items.
"Dear, dear Reki, it's - a gourd!" Balmung snapped his fingers and grinned.
"What?" Reki asked, confused.
"Gourd-adored - it's perfect!"
"You complain about word-adored not rhyming, but gourd-adored is perfect?" Reki scowled.
Balmung made a dismissive gesture. "It will work, that's all that counts. Unlike me in a french-maid-costume, which wouldn't work at all."
Reki's imagination insisted on trying to produce that particular mental image all the same. He shuddered, but Balmung, caught up in his own thoughts, didn't notice.
"You in a french-maid-costume on the other hand ..."