Undress (me with) your eyes

“Do not touch my mask!” Emet-Selch swatted away the new Azem’s hand like it was an irritating bug. “Were you raised in some desolate backwater? Have you no sense of decorum?”

Azem just laughed in that infuriating way of theirs, infuriating because it was open, honest, but lacking in any sense of superiority. Truly, they were just having a good time. “Are you afraid I’ll do something to it?” they teased.

“If I am afraid of anything, ’tis the possibility that I shall lash out and permanently injure you when next you do something so uncouth.”

“Afraid?” Azem lifted an eyebrow. “You seem downright thrilled by the possibility.”

Emet-Selch let out a long, exasperated sigh. “And here I thought the previous Azem was as irritating a comrade as one could find. Is it your goal to succeed her in every way possible, including in being utterly noisome?” He gestured elaborately with his arms and hands as he spoke.

As Emet-Selch shook his head, Azem reached out again, this time succeeding in plucking the mask from his face. “Aha!” Emet-Selch squawked indignantly, but Azem continued, “I knew all I had to do was get you going on some rant.”

He snatched his mask back, but did not don it just yet. To do so would cut short the furious glare he fixed them with.

“That’s more like it. Your eyes are lovely, you know.”

He felt his face heating up and hurried to replace his mask.

“Oh, please.” Azem shook their head. “Let us cast aside titles and pretense, and reveal our true faces to one another.” They removed their own mask, and now Emet-Selch could see that their obnoxious, beautiful smile reached as far as their obnoxious, beautiful eyes. “You may call me Bacchus. He/him.”

“I will not.”

Azem shrugged. “Well, it was worth a try.” He affixed his mask to the front of his robes like some country bumpkin. “I find honesty and openness to be a strong foundation for any relationship, whether in business or in pleasure.”

Did he have to say the word “pleasure” in such a, well, pleasant tone of voice? “Try that with the rest of the Convocation. See how far it gets you.”

“That’s a great idea. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.”