Disclaimer: Characters? Square-Enix. Location? Ditto. Plot? I swear to you, this is straight out of the game. None of this is mine, thank the little gods in charge of mildewing bags of citrus fruits.

Notes: So this is how my game is going, twenty-four hours in. Scenarios might be added, if I continue to play this badly. For now characters are OOC because I haven't been anywhere to learn their particular foibles. Staring at their backsides this many hours, though, has allowed me to create personalities of my own. If laughing at my personal stupidity isn't your cuppa, please turn back.

In No Particular Hurry

"You're going down!"

"Really," Balthier drawled, buffing Cactite sap off of gilt earrings against his sueded vest, "could we be any more repetitive?" He side-stepped a miss-thrown, incandescent sphere, only to trip over a burbling Happy Bunny that was busily casting Cure spells on anything that moved — and a few stationary objects as well. "Wonderful. Just terrific. You, fluffy bunny thing, would you consider healing my poor, bruised dignity?"

Fran glared, and shifted her weight from one foot to another. "I am not a fluffy bunny thing."

"Not you, dear lady, the other fluff… that is," Balthier cleared his throat, and did his best impersonation of a naïve innocent, "the fluffy hare with the silver fur, and the giant ears, and the insanely cute, wrinkled nose… I'm digging myself deeper, aren't I?"

"Yes! Mist Charge!"

Basch — the most current stationary object to have benefited from an ambush-launched Cure — tried to laugh, only to discover that he didn't have a sense of humor. "You'd be better off seeking healing for your poor, bruised ass. Not that I'm lacking sympathy for your plight. That's, what, the eighth time you've tripped over the rabbit? Kill it and be done already."

"Certainly. Kill our merry group's only healer. Excuse my reluctance to partake in needless bloodshed—"

"Pyroclasm! Oh yeah! You're going down!"

"Isn't he done yet?" Fran glowered, but restrained her instinctive reaction to wrinkle her nose — cutely. Her weight shifting had changed to full out hopping from one high-heeled foot to the other. "I need to seek privacy for — necessity."

"That is a bit of a problem. We can't exactly pause during a Quickening — even for necessity. Why, I tore a hole in my britches this last pratfall, and while I'd like nothing better than to break out my emergency sewing kit, repairs will have to wait until that annoying child who has usurped the title of Leader due to our complete lack of interest in the position is done tossing around fire balls."

"And why is it he's the only one attacking?" Basch, contrary to popular belief, actually felt bad that he was subjecting the others to his rather rank self; the lack of a proper bath over the past two years was bad enough, but the added miasma of armor stolen off a month-old corpse created a stench of such stupendous proportions he was surprised the wolves they encountered attacked instead of fleeing. Of course, the one time an Alpha Hyena managed to knock him down the mangy fleabag had rubbed against him, trying its best to pick up the noxious odor. A blow to his ego to be sure, but he'd stolen a Cotton Cap, so he supposed even the most embarrassing of situations had a way of working out for the better.

"Wooo! Mist Charge!"

"That's it." The viera pointed to the South. "I'll be behind that bush." She then quickly loosed two arrows that buried themselves in the clay-rich soil disturbingly close to her companions' most cherished accoutrements. "You will not follow."

"But what if some foul fiend descends upon you while…" Years of association with his partner had taught Balthier many useful things, the most important of which was when to gracefully accept defeat. "Right. Off with you then. If you're needed while we battle this horribly dangerous foe we'll just run in circles and be slaughtered while we await your return."

Fran nodded pleasantly. "Yes. You do that," she said before trotting with all seemly haste towards the aforementioned bush.

"Run in circles?" Basch scoffed, scratching the Bunny behind one perky ear. "Be slaughtered? What kind of plan is that?"

"One that will buy me time to escape while they're gnawing on your scrawny bones, Captain."

"Bwahaha! You're going down!"

"I thought we were supposed to head to Rabanastre; important plots afoot, mysterious agendas to uncover and what not." He patted his (unbathed and unbrushed for two years yet beautifully bouncy and healthily gleaming) pony-tailed hair before sighing. "So why are we wandering the Giza Plains picking fights with Werewolves?"

"How should I know? It's not as if our Woefully Inept Leader confides in me. Point of fact—"

"Aww, not so big and scary now, are you wolf-face? And now for the big finale!" Vaan clapped, and cheered — and ever-so-slowly began looking worried as the grand finale failed to materialize. "Umm, Balthier? Where's the Concurrence?"

"Could it be you didn't earn a Concurrence? That there are certain prerequisites that you entirely failed to fill?" Quickly checking his Gambits, Balthier tossed a Phoenix Down at Basch — first victim of the remaining enraged Werewolf. "We really need to discuss your lack of foresight—"

"Oh yeah, like it's all my fault! If you and Fran pulled your weight—"

"If someone wasn't a complete airhead and allowed us to fill our magical Mist meters—"

"If… If… Hey!" Vaan dodged a blow from a massive sword/axe/giant-weapon-of-hume-smashing, and turned his pout on full blast. "This is all Basch's fault. He keeps dying! If he'd only follow orders—"

"I'm a Guest," the ex-Captain snarled before getting smacked flat by the blow that had been targeted at their blond Leader.

"For the love of…" Balthier pulled out another Phoenix Down, but was sidetracked from his mission by the arrow that had suddenly lodged itself in the leather of his left holster. "How odd. Where… Oh. Oh — Fran dear, this isn't what you think. We're not peeping behind your scraggly bush, no indeed; we're running for our cowardly lives. Except, um, Basch, who bravely stood to safeguard our retreat, and thus has no cowardly life to run for at the moment — Ouch!"

Fran lowered her sharply clawed hand, pleased with the slap she'd bestowed. "Lousy excuse."

"Well, yes, it was, but now Vaan's ahead of us, and the Werewolf is behind us, and you know it takes forever for me to fire this antiquated gun," he panted, and grabbed his partner by her armored arm, and wiped a streak of blood off his face with his free hand, ruining the delicate lace of his cuff. "Why did we make that brat Leader?"

She shrugged, and joined in on the fleeing. "Default option. I warned you that you're getting lazy."

"An unwarranted accusation while we're running the twenty thousand meter dash. Vaan, wait up, will you?" he called out, quietly cursing as his Gambits prodded him into action. "Lovely. I've regained enough Mist Points to cure this ridiculously small scratch on my cheek, and of course I have to come to a complete standstill to cast the blighted spell, leaving me to the non-existent mercy of yon lycanthrope—"

"—That got bored and stopped chasing us a minute ago." Fran patted her partner's newly healed cheek, and smiled at the rising blush. "You shouldn't complain so much. All the exercise has done wonders for your glutes."

"Ah, you've noticed?"

"Actually, it was Basch that noticed, but I warned him that expressing his deepest admiration might lead to unfortunate misunderstandings."

"…Right." Balthier gave a rather lopsided grin. "I think he'll be taking his little dirt nap for a while longer."

"Hey, there you are!" Vaan trotted up, stolen Quality Hide draped across his shoulders and Pointy Hat perched atop his head. "What kept you? That is…" his rather goofy smile fled in the face of Balthier's cocked gun. "I've got a Mist Charge. Let's go get those Werewolves!"

"Not again." The older man debated the merits and drawbacks of Teeny-bopper-Leadercide. "Why must we 'go get those Werewolves'?"

"'Cause Penelo says there's this really super-rare ultra-cool sword thingie they drop, which would come in handy when I'm out exterminating rats and, uhm, ne'er-do-wells and Imperial Soldiers and Seeqs that keep confusing me for a rent boy… What?"

"Would the Kotetsu dropped by the third Werewolf we killed be the Katana you've been seeking?" Fran inquired with freezing politeness, drawing the blade and leveling it at the blond teenager's nose.

"That's it! Heh, guess I must have missed that message, huh? But hey, the other sixty-seven Werewolves we killed were good experience, right? And we've got, like, tons of steps and Clan Points accumulated now. You guys are the greatest! Let's head back to the Estersand—"

"—Fran, I'd really prefer to shoot him now and take the crystal from his blissfully quiet corpse—"

"—and see how we do against that Wild Saurian; sure, there're rumors he can Cannibalize you with one bite, but you shouldn't believe everything you hear—"

"—I'd let you try, but there's a dark power swirling around him that frightens me—"

"—and you can never have too much practice before taking on the sub-Bosses—"

"—It's called optimism, Fran—"

"—Migelo says a good rule of thumb is to be thirty levels above your expected opponent's—"

"—Besides, I already tried sniping him—"

"—and clear as many tiles from your License Board, even if you plan to never pick up a rod in your life—"


"—even if I won't ever find the awesome Zodiac Spear because I opened that chest outside Dalan's—"

"—Your gun missed, Balthier—"

"—but that's why you made me Leader, right? Because I think things through!"

Fran just managed to smack the gun away from her partner's temple before he removed himself from the great game of life. Basch (brought back from the bleak beyond by the tender ministrations of a herd of Happy Bunnies), having finally caught up to the group (after dodging the amorous advances of Alpha Hyenas), wasn't as lucky.

"Well, he can stay dead for all I care," Vaan pouted with arms crossed — for a brisk wind had sprung up raising goose bumps along his exposed arms, and chest, and disturbingly defined abs. "We're low on Phoenix Downs, and I'm not breaking our Chain by going into Nalbina. Besides, I know he killed my brother. Evil twin my ass; next thing you know, he'll be telling me that snobby strumpet we saved in the sewers was a Princess. And a gutter rat like me will be off to save the world from, well, whatever the world needs saving from, I suppose."

"Licentious Seeq traders looking for a good time from local pretty boys?" Fran asked matter-of-factly.

"Oh yeah, they're going down!" Vaan promised as Balthier shuddered and Basch pretty much stayed dead.