To Fight Beside You
Resuscitated And Continued
Balthier is growing wary of Tomaj.
Correction: very wary.
Almost as wary as when he spends too much time in the proximity of Vaan, but not quite, because apparently Tomaj comes with alcohol. And that tends to take the edge off just a little.
"Dude, it's not your fault your vieran girlfriend got her panties in a twist over some misplaced innuendo."
"No – no panties," Balthier gripes, for he has downed five beer steins in just over an hour. "Thong. Metal. Quite the sight, really."
"I'll take your word for it."
Balthier had wandered into Tomaj's domain after a fruitless search concerning potions and the like. Granted, he only checked three stalls, but he was overcome with guilt and the only answer to that, he surmised, was alcohol.
"I don't know this city anyway," he grouses, rubbing his temples. "I don't know anything anymore. This is an utter disgrace."
"Well, I'd be in utter disgrace too if I had to wear those fruity looking rainbow rings you've got going on there."
"Tom, no one asked you."
"Not directly, no – but the implication was there."
"And isn't that what got us all into trouble in the first place. Implications."
"Nu-uh. Not me. I'm not in trouble. Truth be told, I'm actually enjoying myself. This is the best thing I've seen all week. Balthier. Drunk. In my tavern."
"It's not actually yours, is it?" Balthier asks, eyes road mapped with blood shots.
"Technically speaking, no. But it is in spirit." Here he pauses so he can take a sympathy drink. He is not really drinking alcohol – actually, it's nothing more than mineral water. Tomaj has a limit. When you're a street ear, you have to – otherwise you start hearing things that weren't said, or you wouldn't be able to take advantage of the things that really were said.
"Also: your shoes are pretty lame."
"Thank you, Tom, for once again extrapolating upon all my eccentricities. I do so hope you are amusing yourself. Is this how you spend your days? Mocking drunkards and lonesome sky pirates?"
"You're traveling with five other people. Lonesome has nothing to do with it."
"Four," Balthier corrects. "… four humes, one viera."
"A pissed one, apparently. Maybe you should get back to her? The leading man doesn't abandon a damsel in distress."
"Fran is no damsel in distress."
"Wow. Then you should definitely hold on to her. She sounds like a keeper." Pause. "Unless, of course, you irrevocably pissed her off. Then you're in trouble."
"You . . . " Balthier beings, gesticulating vaguely, " . . . are an assault on my ears drums."
"So I've been told. Penelo likes me a little, I think. And – speaking of which, how are Penelo and Vaan?"
"I wish not to describe their countenance at the moment."
"Well, that's all very well and fine, but if you're here and they're not – who's with Fran?"
"Oh bloody hell . . . I left her at the mercy of Vaan."
Tomaj can't help but repress a smirk.
"Bloody hell, indeed."
"I gotta get back to the air ship. Now. My partner's well being is at stake. More so than before. Point me in the direction of the door, if you would be so kind."
"I will once you manage to stand up without falling back into the chair."
"Then move the damn chair and I'll fall onto the floor."
"What are you going to do after that? Crawl to the Strahl?"
"Yes. If necessary."
Tomaj shakes his head.
"Knowing Vaan? Yeah, it's definitely necessary."
Basch enters every room at the worst possible time.
He was doing his knightly duty - arms laden with restorative items of every shape and color, cheeks flushed from the effort - when he opened the door to 'Tomaj's Tavern' with his foot (for all other extremities were otherwise preoccupied) and was greeted with the salutations of a very bombastic individual.
"Hey! Hey! There's that dead guy you were telling me about. Except he doesn't appear all that dead. Whatever. You're drunk. What do you know? Anyway – he's got some wicked healing victuals on his person, maybe he can help you out!"
Basch then sees a very disoriented Balthier strewn across the floor.
"That is most unbecoming," Basch finally manages to mutter, looking down on his comrade. "What has hindered your dexterity, dare I ask?"
"The chair," Tomaj supplies. "He told me to move it. Said he wanted to crawl back to the Strahl. Think you could give him a lift? You two seem to know each other."
"Wait, is he … intoxicated?"
"More than intoxicated. He's completely plastered."
Basch's face turns a funny color. Tomaj knows better than to blame it on the faulty lighting.
"Balthier, you are a disgrace. I can not believe you succumbed to the lust of alcohol while your partner waits for your return."
With an indignant snort, he makes for the door.
"I take my leave."
Here Balthier pries his head off the floor to look at the back of Basch's boots as they head for the entrance.
"Must he say that every time he exits a room?"
"Apparently." Pause. "I kind of thought he was dead."
They decide to leave it at that.
Ashe is still feeling guilty for trading in all of their curative items.
She hopes Basch is fairing better in their side quest, for she is too rattled to think properly.
Which is saying something, seeing as though not much rattles her.
She stumbles from shop to shop, filling up her parcel with various implements that may or may not be of use. She desperately wishes Larsa was with them, for he always seemed to know what he was doing, especially when it came to hi-potions and the like.
At this, her mind wanders. And it wanders far, as it is wont to do in dire situations.
(And after seeing the condition Fran's leg was in, she most certainly believes this classifies as dire.)
"So. Why thigh highs?"
Now she is hearing Vaan in her head. Lovely. As if she didn't get enough of his audio commentary on a regular basis.
"You don't have to answer that, Princess," Basch had said sparingly.
She ignored her would be protector.
"Why don't we take into account your current attire?"
Vaan perked up at the possibility of a conversation. Ashe has never spoken more than three words to him directly. Four, if you count her catch phrase: 'Vaan, do not interrupt.'
"You have enough metal on your legs to count as one of Vayne's winged extremities."
"It's aluminum, Ashe." Vaan was very adamant in getting this fact across. "Aluminum. I don't spend thirty seconds of precious cinema getting dead air ships glued to my body."
Fran is reminiscing.
There is naught else she can do while the orphan duo poke around Balthier's bedroom, doing only the fates know what, but laughing manically all the while. Of course, their laughter is always punctuated by a random, "Fran? You still alive in there?" So at least she knows she has not been completely forgotten.
"Hey, Fam-Fam," Vaan had petitioned one night over the fire.
"It's Balthier, you paisley dolt. Inquire with my correct appellation, if you must."
"Alright alright. Have it your way. Ffamran."
"Oh, fates be damned! I give up! I really just give up! You're just not fun, Balthier. Has anyone ever told you that?"
"If they did I sincerely doubt he'd care."
"I wasn't asking you, Penelo."
"At that volume? You might as well have been."
Penelo tries to switch gears and be helpful after her altercation with a certain sandy haired party member.
"Did you have a troubled childhood growing up, Balthier? If so, that may explain a few things. I means, besides – "
"Besides your father," Vaan cuts in, because he has deemed it his right to do so.
Penelo is about to chastise her partner for the sixth time this evening, but Balthier forges ahead with the initial inquiry.
"Now, now, m'dear – who ever said anything about growing up?"
Penelo's smile slowly spreads across her face. Vaan has never referenced her in any form of endearment, so she decided to cherish what she could get when she could get it, and m'dear will do for now.
Vaan senses innuendo in the air. He doesn't like the stench of it. Thus, he decides that the stench needs to be eradicated as quickly as possible. But how?
"So it's sexy when he says he's childish, but I have to be practically geriatric in my maturity. Unbelievable. This – and he still manages to get a 500 year old vieran glued to his side. I mean – ow! Hey! Fran! Lemme go! Lemme go, dammit! That's my ear! And it hurts! How would you like it if I touched one of your ears, huh?"
"She'd eviscerate you," Penelo proffers cheerily.
"449," Fran states out of nowhere. Well, she states it from somewhere, but it didn't sound like it belonged in their vein of conversation at the moment. Hence why she takes it upon herself to elaborate.
"I am 449 years old as of this morn."
"Aw, it's your birthday?" Penelo squeals. "Franny, why didn't you tell me? I would have gotten you something!"
"What something?" Vaan butts in. "Penelo, we're a pair of miscreant orphans stranded in the wiles of the sand sea. What could you have possibly gotten her? Also, this just in: there's sand in my boots."
Fran stares him down.
"You're couture contains too much iron – "
"ALUMINUM! It's aluminum! How many times do I have to say it? I mean, really. Your ears are big enough. One would think you heard it correctly the first time."
"Oh, you mean like you and my name?" Balthier says under his breath, in that ever present, omnipotent way he is so notorious for.
"It's okay, Franny," Penelo amends. "He's just sensitive about these things. He's sensitive about a lot of things, actually."
"Penelo, you're supposed to be on my side. We're partners, remember?"
When no answer materializes, Vaan finds his train of thought still arriving at the station. About ten seconds later, his garrulity begins anew.
"Hey! Why does she get to call Fran 'Franny' and I can't call Balthier 'Fam-Fam'?"
Fran continues with her Medusa-like stare down.
"Because he does not favor you as much."
"Favor me? Oh please, I'm practically his protégé. And as much? As much as who?"
Fran simply shrugs.
"Alright, so lemme get this straight: I lost my partner and my nicknaming privileges – not to mention the entirety of the sand sea is now lodged within the confines of my boots. My aluminum boots. I can't even – "
Here his train of thought is nowhere to be found.
"I give up. Again."
Vaan thinks candle light dinners are stupid.
"Way, way stupid," he intones, incase Penelo missed it the first time. "I mean, first of all, you can't see what you're doing, or even what you're eating! It could be laced with cyanide for all you know!"
"Vaan. You can't see cyanide."
"Yeah. Well. Whatever."
He dismisses the correction before picking up the slack and starting anew.
"It's a fire hazard for one thing," he continues, in tones of great import. "Last time I checked? Napkins? Yeah; they're highly flammable. And you could stab yourself with your own fork if you're not careful. A knife, even!"
All this controversy was initiated compliments of Balthier's bedroom and the flotsam he had floating around concerning his day to day life.
"Penelo, we're looking for rum, remember? What are you doing under his bed?"
"I happen to be looking for something else, is all."
"What?" Vaan queries. "Dust bunnies? Speaking of bunnies, Fran can probably hear you. She can probably hear our hearts beat. We should just look for the rum. It's under the floor boards, remember? Not under the bed."
"Well, for your information, Vaan, what I happen to be looking for is."
"And what's that?" Vaan asks before promptly checking his vernacular and amending the aforementioned inquisition with " . . . pray tell?"
(His attempts to mimic Balthier's jargon go uncommented upon.)
"Dudes don't keep diaries, Penelo. We keep journals. There's a difference."
"Is there?" she questions rhetorically, continuing on with her fruitless search for Balthier's leather bound notebook.
"I saw him writing in it the other day when he thought no one was watching," she explains. "It has to be here somewhere."
"Penelo. Fran's in pain. Um, priorities?"
It was the first time ever Vaan had to reprimand her-as opposed to the other way around.
"True. But I already located the rum. So you go give it to her while I finish up here."
"Wait, what? When the hell did you find the rum?"
"When you were complaining about candle light dinners."
Vaan now sees a bottle of rum situated in the far corner of the room.
"Yeah. Well. That's nothing special. I could have found that if I wasn't waylaid by our resident captain's love affair with scented candles."
Upon issuing this excuse, said captain's protégé remembers his own priorities.
"Hey Fran! You still alive back there?"
Penelo's legs stop kicking. Her head is completely obscured by the Rozarrian sheets and her voice is muffled as a result. Her only visible asset is … well … her ass.
"Vaan! My gods! Go check on her proper!"
When neither moves toward the door, Penelo takes it upon herself to elaborate.
"I'm busy. Besides, I already did my part. I found the rum. Now it's your turn."
"This is highly unlike you, Pen. Fran is in pain."
"Then go make it better."
The moment is bereft of communication for the next five seconds.
" … Hurry not," comes a voice from down the hall. "I, too, wish to see this notebook you speak of."
"See? I told you she could hear our hearts beat!"
Penelo sighs, braids all askew from rummaging through Balthier's personal effects.
"All I found was a calling card for Flamenca's Brothel House in Rabanastre."
"Try under the mattress," Fran suggests, voice as strong and solid as ever. "Then fetch the rum. And tell Vaan 145/100. 'Tis his blood pressure."
"She can hear my blood pressure?"
"Okay. Now I'm officially impressed."
Penelo has never garnered more relief then when she intentionally intoxicated a disabled viera.
"Go," Fran orders, pinching her nose and throwing back the alcohol. "This beverage agrees with me not, and you have more important matters to attend to. The notebook. Retrieve it. Quickly; before I slumber."
"Slumber?" Vaan parrots, disappointment evident in not only his face but also his tone. "I thought we were gonna get you good and drunk."
"Perhaps. If I do not wretch first."
"Okay! It's decided then!" Penelo is only too happy to oblige. "Vaan, you stay here and help Granny Franny vomit, and I'll go look for the notebook!"
" … You're being a little immature about this whole thing, ya know."
As if Vaan is one to comment on maturity.
"You heard Fran! She wants me to go."
Vaan is clearly missing something because he is not female and does not understand the intrigue of a hidden diary.
"The two of you are insane," he concludes. "At least Fran has an excuse. You're just acting like . . . Filo."
"Oh please. Filo would be proud."
And without further ado, Penelo is off.
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing!
I'll make my best effort to respond to one and all!
Also: Flamenca's Brothel is from a story by the wondrous Pellaaearien entitled GOOD ENOUGH. I wanted to pay it homage, since I do enjoy reading it so. I hope you don't mind, m'dear. If you do, I will gladly take the reference out. But I thought you'd get a kick outta it.
(And yes – I got both sky pirates drunk in one chapter. Now they can nurse corresponding hangovers in tandem. How romantic.)