The Perfect Day
By: Koorino Megumi

Happy late birthday to my good friend Sore wa himitsu desu. This one's for you!

Of all the times something like this could have happened, it had to be now. Vaan muttered to himself irritably as he headed to the bridge of the ship, disappointed and grumpy because his perfect day had just been ruined. And why? Couldn't she suck it up--for him?

"Vaan," Balthier greeted as the boy stepped onto the Strahl's bridge. "Sleep well?" The man frowned as Vaan trudged up to him gloomily. "Perhaps not. Why the long face?"

"Penelo's sick." Vaan plopped himself into one of the chairs, looking about sullenly. "So much for our big trip."

"Sick?" Balthier raised an eyebrow at him. "Did she say what was wrong?"

Vaan waved a hand vaguely. "Tired and hot. Oh, and..." He grabbed his nose to do a stuffy impression. "Her nose makes her sound like Migelo." Leaning back in his chair, he sighed again. "Some timing."

Balthier gave a sigh of his own. "Vaan, my boy, it sounds like you still have a lot to learn."

Vaan bristled at the man's tone, sitting up and giving the sky pirate a look. "And what do you mean by that?"

Balthier rolled his eyes. "Think about it! If you were sick, would you want Penelo to be up here lamenting the injustice of it all?"

"Well, no. But she-"

"What would she be doing?" The man was watching him rather patiently, a half-smirk curling his lips.

Vaan scratched his nose, thinking about the last time he had gotten sick. "She'd probably be making soup or something. But I-"

"You just left her in her room. Alone."

The thief cringed and was silent for a moment as the sky pirate continued watching him expectantly. "I guess...I should probably do something for her, shouldn't I?"

"And that's one more lesson about women learned." Balthier stood, clapping Vaan on the shoulder. "Better get to it. If she starts feeling too miserable first, she'll be insufferable all day."


The sky pirate was already striding toward the door, waving a hand over his shoulder at Vaan.

"Hey, Balthier!" Vaan protested, chasing after him, "But what do I do?"

"Oh, I'm sure you'll figure it out."

Vaan was left standing alone.

Penelo was half-asleep when she was stirred by the sound of something crashing loudly onto the floor.

"Gyaah!" cried a rather familiar voice. "Yeowtch!" There was a splash, and the boy's yelling dissolved into a hiss.

"Baan?" Penelo asked, giving a sniff in a vain attempt to clear her sinuses for decent speech. "Whad are you doing?"

Vaan was currently at the foot of her bed, doing an odd little dance while he tried to balance a bowl in one hand and suck on the thumb of the opposite one. He stopped at her voice, turning to look at her with his thumb still in his mouth and his cheeks heating up. He extracted his thumb. "I...uh...brought you something." He ran the hand through his hair, sheepish, and stepped up to the side of the bed, offering out the bowl.

Penelo started to pull herself up.

"Oh no, don't do that!" Vaan cried, putting out his hand in a gesture for her to stop. He set the bowl of soup on the table next to her rather hurriedly, and some of the hot liquid splashed onto the hand that had been holding it. Vaan hissed in pain, sucking on that thumb now and giving Penelo a pretty good idea of what must have happened when he'd entered the room.

When he had stopped wincing, the youth put his hands behind her shoulders. Penelo watched him in surprise as he helped her up, reaching awkwardly back with a hand to prop her pillow behind her. "There we go."

She giggled at the look on his face, his eyes narrowed in concentration as he finished that step and reached for the bowl again. She also couldn't help but notice her pole on the floor in the doorway and the glistening puddle of spilled soup beside it. He was trying far too hard, she decided, and the thought made her smile.

"What?" Vaan asked self-consciously. It seemed to dawn on him at that moment that a tray would have been a good idea because he started looking rather frantically around the room, holding the bowl halfway extended to her.

Penelo decided to save him the trouble and reached out and took it. It was hot and would probably make a mess of her blankets, but she was the one who did the laundry anyway. She set it on the blankets on her lap, picking up the spoon and taking a bite.

The flavor was something that defied description. It was mucky and thick, and she wasn't even sure what kind of soup it was supposed to be. But she smiled at him anyway. "I just wand do dank you."

"Oh." He reddened again but grinned back at her. "Just...get better soon! Maybe Balthier can take us on the trip tomorrow."

She stopped with a second bite halfway to her mouth. "Is dat why you're doing dis?"

Vaan looked at her in surprise. "What? No!"

"So I can be your nabigador?" she persisted, "Is dat all?" She hoisted the bowl menacingly.

Vaan gulped and put his hands over his face. "No, Penelo!" he cried, "That's not what I meant! I did this because...because..."

She paused, eyeing him. "Because?"

"Because...I just wanted you to feel better," he finished lamely. He scuffed a foot on the floor. "You woulda done it for me."

Penelo's anger crumbled at those words, and she set the bowl back down, taking another bite and smiling through her desire to cringe at the taste. "Dank you, Baan."

Vaan perked up at that, looking at her hopefully. "You mean it?"

She laughed. "Yeah, I do. Now you bedder go clean up de floor. Baldier is going do kill you."

The youth winced. "I don't think I need to worry about the floor, really... Just wait until he sees the kitchen."

Penelo burst out laughing at that. Vaan smiled sheepishly back at her, and suddenly, she found that she was feeling much, much better.