Author's note: I have absolutely no idea where this came from, aside from I was wanting to write something else about the two of them (because they're all I write for the moment aside, at least in the realm of fanfiction) and was getting very frustrated by the fact that my muse was not working for me, and somehow that emotion suddenly got dumped upon poor Balthier. And for some reason Fran was combing her hair. …….. shrug

Disclaimer: I don't own Fran, Balthier, or anything else in FFXII.

Who Wins the Game

Swish.

Strands of long, snow white hair flashed in the periphery of Balthier's groggy vision as he blinked the sleep out of his eyes. Looking in the direction of the motion, he noticed Fran kneeling atop the mat on which she had slept the night before, running a comb through her voluminous locks. The two were camped in a far corner of the Mosphoran Highwaste, hoping to evade detection while the Strahl was under repairs. The fact that it also meant that they were alone together in a nicely secluded area was not lost on Balthier, though in such cases it often seemed the opposite case with his Viera companion, who in this particular instance appeared to be preoccupied with her hair and had yet to notice that the young Hume was even awake.

"Good morning," he muttered as he sat up, still a bit sleepily, hoping to draw some attention to himself, but to no avail. The steady rhythm of the comb stroking through her hair continued as it had previously. "Fran," he directly commanded her attention, but still received no response.

Swish. Swish.

"Fran," he repeated a bit more forcefully. He knew full well that those sensitive Viera ears had been able to pick up every sound and movement he had made, but for some reason, the activity of preparing her hair for the day seemed to leave the woman completely unaware of her surroundings. Not to mention the fact that it brought focused attention to her highly appealing hair and made it flick back and forth in such a tempting way. Again not to mention she had a rather frustrating habit of doing such tantalizing things before being fully dressed in what little her daily outfit consisted of in the first place. "Fran." Still no response. Honestly, there were times he would swear that she just enjoyed torturing him and she was doing this to him on purpose.

If he had been able to see around to the features of her face, he would have noticed a small, amused smile playing on her lips. Though it seemed that he had never realized, this was a game she often played. She so enjoyed watching, or rather listening since looking at him would constitute a loss of her self-defined game, the tension she inspired in her Hume companion, and constantly marveled that such a simple action as combing her hair was able to produce such an effect. She did not do it to be mean, though she supposed she did take some guilty pleasure in her ability to bother the poor young man to such an extent. It was more that it typically led to a certain inevitable conclusion that neither would easily complain about. A quiet, frustrated growl from behind her signaled that she was about to win her little game.

"Dammit, Fran." The words were accompanied by a blur of motion ending with Fran again laying on the mat, pinned under her Hume companion, the comb having skidded across the ground to some mildly unreachable distance. She blinked at the frustrated young man innocently.

"Something wrong?" The Hume frowned at her.

"Well, aside from the fact that I've been persistently trying to get your attention and you haven't so much as said good morning to me, no," he told her, his voice carrying the hint of sarcasm that always appeared when he was irritated. The Viera frowned in an expression of sympathy that was only halfway feigned and shifted to free one of her hands and brush it lightly over his cheek, a gesture that in itself seemed to melt away a large part of the Hume's annoyance.

"Anything I can do to make it up to you?" she whispered in a voice that combined with the way the two were presently situated should have made the answer inherently obvious.

A short while and a good deal of activity later, the pair lay side by side gasping for breath. When she was again able to speak, Fran turned her head to face the young Hume beside her, her eyebrow quirked and a smile on her lips.

"Good morning?" she queried drolly.

"Uh-huh," the man murmured softly, still sounding out of breath and possibly half asleep, "Knew I'd get your attention somehow." He smiled contentedly at the thought, not bothering to open his eyes. Fran watched him for a moment, then shoved herself back up into a sitting position, her long, clawed fingers weaving their way through a few strands of her disheveled hair. She sighed in a gesture of mock disappointment, though the grin on her lips spoke otherwise.

"Now I shall have to comb it all over again," she commented, reaching for the comb and beginning the long process of ridding her long hair of all its tangles. Balthier simply nodded.

"Do whatever you like," he consented, shifting so that his head rested lightly across the Viera's leg, "I'll be right here."

Fran merely continued to smile and go about the business of combing her hair, leaving them both to feel as if they had won.