To Fight Beside You
"Penelo, if you do not stop hunching over your bow like so you are going to develop scoliosis." A one shot on what must have been going through each of our companion's heads as they fought beside each other to save the world.
Balthier is not one for fish.
This is fairly evident when he makes it to Balfonheim and can walk no more than three feet without being overcome with the intense desire to retch.
Of course, the only person aware of this is Fran, for the pirate would sooner swallow his bile thrice over than admit weakness in front of any of his companions, even though they have had more than their fair share of less then stellar moments in his wake.
"Fran, our weapons smell like fish," he complains pettily as they cross over the spread of Cerobi Steppe, lingering beside her as Penelo and Vaan jut ahead and take the lead. They are ecstatic with the prospect of open space and fresh air after being imprisoned in the Pharos for so long.
"Balthier," she begins evenly, used to his odd quirks that only she has the fortune to be graced with. "I do not care."
"Yes, but it agitates me," he continues, pouting. It would take the entire Archadian army to bring this man to his knees (and even that is not a definite), yet he finds it within himself to whine about the current permeating aroma as long as Fran is the only one to hear. It is what she gets for becoming his family.
"I told you not to purchase that," she states flatly. "Your former gun worked just fine."
Balthier rolls his eyes. "Yes my dear, but a man needs to suit up for battle, lest he wants to be bait."
"I thought we used Vaan as bait."
"Hush, Fran. He is not aware of that."
It was at this moment that the blond in question let out a rather deafening squeal in response to being back attacked by a winged fiend of some grandiose proportions.
Ashe let out an oath vile enough to make even Basch turn a rather unsightly shade of crimson and shot the animal out of the sky with a single arrow she had borrowed from Fran some while back. Once the beast fell, Penelo followed soon after, only she was victim to a vicious string of giggles as opposed to Ashe's unrequited wrath.
Ashe is one for cleanliness.
It may be hereditary or it may be a by product of her strict upbringing, but she insists on cleaning her Tourensol every evening after the day's battle and does so until it shimmers enough to constitute as its own vanity mirror rather than a weapon of mass destruction.
"Princess, you are squandering our rations," Basch notes, trying to mitigate his tone but finding it hard, for he does not see any reason to keep up appearances while out on the battlefield.
"Nonsense. This is only the fifth cleansing cloth I've used. We have plenty more."
"They double over as gauze should we run out of Curaga, you know this."
"Well I see no need for Curaga now," she chides, and resumes her dutiful cleaning.
Balthier can be heard muttering something characteristically profane concerning the aristocracy, which Basch finds slightly amusing because, while the man has no problem complaining about what bothers him, he lacks the gumption to actually fix it.
But Basch keeps such thoughts to himself. Even though, were it up to him, he would have confronted Ba'Gamnan a long time ago as opposed to endlessly running from him.
Then again, he presumes that's what sky pirates do best.
Lest they are Vaan. For he runs, just in the wrong direction.
Almost as if on cue, Penelo substantiates in the dim glow of the campfire, teetering on the edge of its glow with a rather troubled expression adorning her features.
"Basch?" she petitions. "Vaan fell into the Nabradia River again."
Yes. The wrong direction indeed.
Penelo has an odd attack stance.
It seems she has formed a rather unsightly hunch while she fights on the battlefield, and it does not take long for Balthier to notice.
"Penelo, you need to stop slouching over your weapon like so. Sooner or later you will fall victim to scoliosis."
The girl does such things subconsciously, for when one grows up an orphan on the streets, one learns to protect the little possessions they have. And when your best friend is a thief, it is only natural to be extra wary because you have seen what quick hands and quicker feet can do.
So she proceeds to haunch over whatever weapon she is currently wielding, despite Balthier's persistent nagging, and even despite Vaan's chagrin and calling her an old maid.
"You're gonna grow up and be like one of those little old ladies with hunches on their back and cobwebs hanging from their nose. And then you'll loose your teeth. And your hair."
"Vaan, that's enough," Basch booms, trying to maintain order, but it's a senseless endeavor, really, for who can claim control of two wild orphans, an ex-princess, a viera, and a sky pirate?
Vaan's face screws up in disdain, for he is not used to people telling him what to do.
"He's not the boss of me," he mutters, sulking behind an ever sauntering Fran.
"Well then don't listen," Balthier offers listlessly. "What's he going to do? Throw you in prison?"
There is double entendre laced within that last conceit but Vaan is too busy feeling sorry for himself to notice.
Balthier looks slightly feminine whilst summoning.
It is something Basch has always noticed and kept to himself, and he wonders if Fran is simply immune to it or has been around females for so long that she scarcely knows the difference.
Just the way he sticks his arm out, all dainty like, and leaves it to hover there, his dramatic sleeves fluttering in the wind, makes Basch wonder if the bravado is all part of the man's act or if he does such things subconsciously.
"It's melodrama," Ashe offers in a curt fashion. "The man is an attention whore. Just look at his garb."
"At least he has garb to look at," Vaan grumbles from somewhere not far off, for just like Basch, Ashe had taken up a habit of telling the orphan duo what to do. The ill will practically radiates off the young boy's less than favorable words.
Basch is well aware Vaan reveres Balthier as some sort of warped role model, and therefore will defend the man to a fault, but he can't comprehend for the life of him why Vaan would rather look up to the outlaw as opposed to him. Since when was a worthy aspiration that of becoming a thief? Doesn't one resort to that in times of dire need as opposed to boredom? Shouldn't the worth of a man be judged on his character and not the amount of entertainment he puts on? His actions as opposed to his words? And his thoughts as opposed to his actions?
There is no way to prove the aforementioned, but Basch likes to think he has a good idea what is running through the sky pirate's mind most of the time.
He simply carbon copies the assumption when trying to get in the headspace of Vaan.
Fran is able to maintain her equilibrium in stilettos.
This amazes Penelo but just confuses Vaan.
"I don't get it!" he finally explodes one evening while the group was out hunting on the Ozmone Plane. "That's just wrong on so many levels!"
Penelo turns to look at him, for all the others had grown quite used to his random, wild exclamations and had learned to pay him no heed. They figured it was best if they let Penelo tend to him, for she was the only one who knew how, or at least, the only one who was willing to do so.
"What is?" she queries, her bow accidentally going off in the wrong direction and missing Basch by mere centimeters. He turns to look at her and she smiles and waves sheepishly.
"That!" Vaan reiterates, pointing at Fran's footwear, completely oblivious to the hazardous spectacle that took place right in front of his face.
"Shoes?" Vaan shrieks, the logic all but barreling him over at this point. "Those are not shoes, Penelo. Those are...those are weapons in their own right! That's ancient Rozzarian foot bondage, that's what it is. Cruel and unusual punishment. Akin to a death sentence, even! Gee, Penelo, you think Fran killed someone and that's why she has to wear stilettos?"
"Vaan," Penelo whispers. "That makes no sense."
"I'm serious!" he continues. "You don't wear spikes like that!"
"I think it has something to do with her heels."
"It's a cultural norm," Balthier offers, coming up beside the duo and interrupting their quarrel. "All viera wear footwear such as that. They have to. The build of the planar region in their foot naturally arches and they are incapable of walking or even standing in anything that doesn't support their ankles."
Vaan pauses. Blinks. Pauses again. And then blinks some more.
"You lost me at planar region," he grumbles.
"Really?" Balthier inquires. "I presumed I lost you at cultural norm."
He then swaggers ahead to join the viera in question, smirk adorning his features.
Basch wears scarcely little armor for a Knight of Dalmasca.
Balthier wonders if all of Rabanstre has an affinity of being as naked as possible, for after growing up in Archades, he is not used to seeing so much flesh.
Well, save for on his viera counterpart.
But pale flesh, ceramic pallors that rival that of opals, on men, no less, this just doesn't sit well with him.
It is no wonder Rasler was shot dead during the battle of Nabudis.
Of course, the sky pirate knows better than to voice such observations out loud, even to an introverted Fran, but he can't help but wonder if Rasler was that moronic with all of decisions, or just his choice of dress.
Though, to be fair, it appeared as though Basch was following in his footsteps, so perhaps Dalmascan citizens were raised thinking they were somewhat invincible.
Vaan is convinced everyone but him is undergoing an identity crisis.
He could understand Amalia, given the fact Princess Ashe was supposedly dead and all.
And while Lamont as opposed to Larsa would win no medals for originality, it still made sense in his mind.
Once could say he started to have his fill of secret alter egos by the time it was revealed to him that Balthier used to go by the name of Ffamran. He wonders what Dr. Cid was ingesting when he decided to bestow such an abuse of the English language unto his child. One would think the family members would catch on to the man's nethicite addiction when he started naming his offspring unpronounceable butcheries that held about as much poetic flair as a butter knife. Perhaps this is why Balthier is so drawn to the lime light. He is probably compensating for a childhood of endless taunts and jeers concerning his less than favorable title.
And then there was the whole Noah thing, in which Vaan had to resist the urge to facepalm because he did not want to seem disrespectful in the wake of the dead (but really, they guy had tried to kill him three times, so Vaan was a little less than distraught when he finally passed on. Penelo still cries about it, though.)
And then Basch up and took his former brother's identity so the rest of Ivalice could go on believing he was dead.
"I'm giving my kids simplistic names," he confided in Penelo one night in the wake of the camp fire. "Like Bob and Joe and Sue. None of this ridiculous fanfare stuff."
Penelo just looked at him. "Please," she droned. "Vaan is no award winner, either."
This is liable for an update as soon as I can think of more scenarios to add. Suggestions are always welcome. I suppose this is a work in progress, liable to change given the right amount of inspiration and caffeinated beverages. Hope you enjoyed!