Disclaimer: you know the drill I don't own any of the stuff mentioned
"Balthier, are you in here?" Vaan waited for a reply.
"Yes, Vaan is that you, come in would you?"
Vaan opened the door and was greeted by a question.
"Which cufflinks do you prefer?" Balthier held out to boxes to him.
"These ones." Vaan concluded after considering them both for a moment.
"Thank you." Balthier discarded the box Vaan had chosen and put on the other pair.
Vaan gave a slight frown and sat down on the edge of Balthier's bed.
"Going somewhere?" he asked after noticing the pirate's smart attire and the number of discarded shirts that littered the room.
"Why yes, I have a very important dinner date."
"With a girl?"
"Yes" Balthier replied, shooting Vaan a glance in the mirror.
"A lovely lady?" Vaan continued.
"Only the loveliest that I know of, and I know of a lot."
"Oh really who is it." Vaan asked, sounding rather like an excited school girl.
Balthier cocked his head to the side as if it were absurd that Vaan would even question who was the loveliest of all the ladies.
Vaan grinned widely, "I know that look, and it's the "Fran" look!"
"Fran has had a particularly trying day, and she mentioned that she had some business to discuss, I think it only right that I take her for dinner." Balthier replied in a justified manner.
"And so you need to dress in a fancy way for a business meeting?" the young orphan teased.
Balthier found time to shoot an annoyed glance his way between straightening his collar and fixing his hair.
"So I presume you don't want to take a stroll with Penelo and me then, what with tomorrow's trip to the sky fortress ominously looming?"
"Hmm Dinner with my charming partner or playing gooseberry with the street rats? Whatever shall I do? Such a dilemma?" He clucked sarcastically.
"Okay then, have fun getting down to business with Fran." Vaan quickly shut the door behind him, narrowly avoiding the hair brush that was flying swiftly towards him.
"Which earrings?" Fran asked Penelo who admiring the Veira's collection of perfumes and trinkets that were displayed on the dressing table.
"You have your ears pierced?"
"I once had had a little too much to drink; I woke up with piercing that I had apparently insisted on having performed the previous night. We don't oft talk off it." She explained.
Penelo nodded and choose a pair diamond cuff like earrings.
"These are nice; I think you should wear these."
Fran smiled at pushed them into the barely noticeable holes in her long white ears.
Penelo examined the dress that was hanging from the wardrobe door.
"Is this what you are going to wear?"
Fran glanced over and nodded.
"Is it not a little too…um, well I suppose I mean, revealing for a business meeting."
Fran grinned, "You have much to learn, Penelo. I am far more likely to secure the deal I seek if I can offer some… distraction."
"Deal?" the blonde girl asked.
Fran turned away and looked down at her nails as she began to paint them.
"Tomorrow will be difficult; one must make certain agreements in case of…" her eyes not meeting Penelo's, she looked lost in thought for a moment.
"Penelo, hair up or down?"
"Oh please may I do it for you, I've often admired your hair."
"Thank you, but no pigtails okay?"
Penelo poked the Veira's shoulder and pouted. Fran laughed.
Vaan returned to the living room area that joined their rooms. Penelo entered shortly afterwards.
"I couldn't recruit either of them." She explained. "The princess wishes to stay here and Fran is going out with Balthier."
"Looks like it's just you and me then."
"That alright?" she asked nervously.
"Of course it is. Why wouldn't it be?" Vaan chuckled.
Penelo smiled and gave a slight laugh, Fran's door opened and the Veira joined them.
"Wow! You look amazing" Vaan gasped. She looked so different minus her armour, so beautiful and yet ever so slightly vulnerable.
Fran rolled her eyes and clicked shut a bracelet she was carrying around her wrist. She put her foot up on the edge of the chair and tied the ribbons on her high satin shoes.
"Please pick your jaw up of the floor Vaan, it will get dirty." Sighed Balthier who was now standing behind them.
"You are ready to go?" Fran asked ignoring Vaan's eyes which were almost bursting out.
"I am, I never leave a lady waiting." He walked between the orphans and offered his partner his arm, she took it.
Penelo and Vaan raised their eyebrows simultaneously.
"Bhujerba is stricken with many cobble stone paths." Fran said "They can be most perilous to ankles."
"Farewell, do enjoy your walk and don't stay out all night." Balthier said with a slight wave. "Fran, shall we?"
She gave a nod and allowed him to lead her from the room.
The sun was gently lowering in the sky spreading an orange glow around the sky city.
"Tis truly beautiful." Fran remarked.
Balthier "hmm'd" in agreement.
He turned to look at her "You know, the Marquis is absent; perchance do you fancy a little thievery?"
"I do not think that Ashe would approve." His partner's smile gave away any false objection.
"That is of no matter; I do not think that we will be seeing much more of her highness after tomorrow."
"This bother's you?" her voice rife with curiosity.
"Not particularly, I should be glad to return to the skies and pirating. Do you not miss it?"
"I do, but you mean to tell me you have no intention of sweeping the princess up and abandoning our previous life?" She continued, not meeting his gaze.
Balthier laughed loudly, "I assure you I have no inkling to become king."
"Not even to win the heart of fair maiden?"
"I do not desire her heart or any part of her actually." He corrected.
"You lie!" she protested suspiciously.
"Never to you." He whispered softly into her ears.
They soon reached there destination, a small restaurant was doing business up at the gardens on the edge of Bhujerba.
The waiter showed them to their table; it was right at the edge and boasted a fantastic view of the sky and the still setting sun.
Fran took a bite out of a bread stick and inspected the menu, her eyes skimmed over it but she wasn't really reading. She was considering her partners words and how for some curious reason they had eased her anxiety.
"Bring us some Madhu, please." Balthier asked the waiter.
He turned his attention back to his lovely associate, whose loveliness was only enhanced by the sunset.
She glanced up from the menu and met his eyes with her own.
"I do not know what to choose. I think the pasta, maybe."
The waiter returned with a pitcher of Madhu, Balthier poured it into their glasses.
"Are you ready to order?"
"I'd like the steak and my partner would like…?" Balthier waited for her to reply.
"The pasta, I am sure now."
"Okay, thank you it shan't be long." The waiter went to give the chef there order.
"Now, what was it that you were so eager to discuss?"
"After dinner I shall tell you, but for now I am concerned for you." Fran replied placing her napkin on her lap,
"I've told you, I hold little to no affection for the princess." Balthier smiled.
"Not about that." She gave him a serious look.
"I know, but rest assured my father died along time ago in my heart."
"It still troubles you, don't pretend it does not." She placed her hand on the table, a momentary thought to reach out and take his hand flittered through her mind, but she did not act upon it.
"It's hard, no one wants to see someone they care about change into something so different, so obsessed." He admitted.
"Will you be okay?" she asked a concerned look striking her face.
He laughed slightly, "I will, especially with you looking out for me."
The waiter delivered their food.
"Heh, we have not drunk our Madhu, how unlike us." She remarked as she lifted her glass.
Balthier did the same and they clinked them together in a toast. They both downed the alcohol in one attempt.
"A top up?"
They finished there meals as quickly as they finished their pitcher.
Fran was a lot more relaxed now, she laughed loudly at an anecdote Balthier told and insisted that they ordered an ice cream sundae went half's on eating it.
The sun had now almost completely vanished.
She reached out for her glass but Balthier stopped her.
"I believe there is still an issue you wish to discuss." He pressed.
"Oh, indeed." She shifted nervously and flicked a stray piece of hair from her eyes.
"Tomorrow will be most dangerous, will it not?"
"I am afraid so." He said taking a sip from his glass.
She nodded, "The sort of situation that calls for "doing something heroic" no doubt."
He put his glass down and listened a little more intently. "Perhaps."
"Then…" She paused and looked out over the sky.
"Then…?" he urged her to continue.
The waiter placed their ice cream between them and the retreated.
She picked up a spoon and took a large scoop. "Oh cold"
"Then what, Fran?"
"Then if you must do something heroic, promise to take me with you." She took another scoop.
Balthier picked up his spoon and joined her in devouring the sundae.
"It might be dangerous" he said after a pause.
"I care not." She put her spoon down and allowed him to have the strawberry at the bottom.
"No, but I do. If anything were to happen to you, well I simply couldn't bare it."
"And so you understand. If you die then I will take my life anyway."
"Fran!" in all the time he had known her she had never shocked him so much.
"Tis the truth, I want to die with you because I can no longer live without you."
Never before had she spoken so openly of the undeniable bond and developing feelings between them. Balthier respected how hard it must be, especially for Fran, to speak in such away. There was simply no way that he would miss out on such an opportunity to assure her of his devotion to her.
"Then I propose deal, we live together and we die together, although I hope not for a good few years." He held out his fist to her and she went to punch it. Before she had a chance to tap him, he had grabbed her wrist and pulled her over the table, knocking the ice cream glass to the floor and Fran on to his lap.
His hand caressed her jaw, "I think this a deal that is best sealed with a kiss."
Her heart was pounding hard, he had never before been able to catch her so off guard.
She closed her eyes and leant in closer to him, unable to resist the over whelming desire he installed in her. Balthier blessed his luck and gently pressed his lips against his partners. She allowed his straying hands to wander and wrapped her arms around his neck in order to deepen their kiss.
"Done." She murmured as they eventually broke apart.
A/N: can't sleep late night balfran writing heh, please R&R