Warnings: Cat!Balthier, Female!Balthier, Bewildered!Basch, and a good bit of suggestiveness (male/female.. sort of). So basically, not explicit, just kind of (scratch that, very) weird.
Disclaimer: Nothing in FFXII belongs to me.
Author's note: I will start out by saying that my own brain, while it is occasionally a strange place to inhabit, is not quite weird enough to come up with this on its own. Also that I'm really not at all a fan of this pairing. Credit for the idea goes to someone who posted an idea on the FFXII kink meme that was just so cracked out that I had to write it. (Yeah, I know, it's supposed to be anonymous. Oh well).
For reference, the original request was as follows: "Jumping into the cat ears bandwagon. Basch/Balthier Balthier getting changed into a catboy and being all slinky and seductive. Which gets a certain potholder wearing former knight hot and bothered.
Either that, or Balthier undergoing a genderchange.
Magic gone awry, some sort of a fucked up status effect from a monster...find a reason!"
Admittedly, it's a bit of a twist on the original suggestion, but I think it fits. I also feel the need to point out that pronouns got horribly confusing somewhere in the middle of this.
Also posted on thesandsea livejournal FFXII fanfic community with the themes of: 8. What can I say?, 11. Resist, 27. Proverb, 76. Pulling strings, 86. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Anyway, on with the show.
Don't Drink the Green Liquid
"Right, so how am I going to explain this?" Basch muttered, not bothering to mask the frustration in his voice. Somehow when the group had decided to split up to look for the monster they were hunting, he had not expected to find himself unceremoniously flopped in a pile of sand in a far corner of the Zertinan caverns with Balthier in his lap. Correction, an unusually small version of Balthier with cat ears, a tail, and a suddenly remarkably snuggly disposition. It also seemed that the pirate had lost all ability of speech with the exception of assorted mewing noises. Basch wasn't entirely sure what part of that equation he found the most disturbing. In any case, he wasn't exactly anxious to have to bring this now immensely strange creature back with him to rendezvous with the group and have to explain that apparently drinking odd green potions found in caverns was a very bad idea. Basch cringed slightly as the pirate… cat… thing saw fit to nuzzle him in a rather unfortunate and highly inappropriate location. A very, very bad idea indeed. "Alright," the man declared with no further explanation, hoisting the creature that used to be Balthier over his shoulder.
"Mrrow?" A confused and somewhat terrified squeak emerged from… it… at the sudden motion.
"Oh hush," Basch grumbled. It was the pirate's own lack of a sense of caution that had gotten him into this mess and he damn well wasn't going to complain about anything the still Hume member of this bizarre team did, particularly when that happened to be a vague attempt at finding some other mysterious liquid capable of remedying this situation. Balthier made a quiet growling noise and dug newly formed claws into the knight's shoulder. "Okay, that's it." He pulled the creature off his shoulder and dumped him onto the ground, possibly with slightly more force than intended as the whatever-he-was-supposed-to-call-it looked mildly daze. "I'm going to look for an antidote to whatever the hell that was you got yourself into," he explained, then shot the other a pointed glare. "You are going to stay right where you are." He turned and walked away before the other had a chance to recover from his dazed state and complain, though he was fairly sure a moment later his ears picked up the sound of an infuriated hiss in the distance.
After a good fifteen minutes, Basch was already about to give up hope. He thought he had searched every nook and cranny of that area of the cave with no promise of finding another mysterious potion. He supposed he should have suspected as much, having absolutely no idea where the first had come from. If these things were common, he suspected there would be reports of people turning into strange things all over the place. Sighing, he decided it would be best to give up and make sure nothing was attempting to eat Balthier while he was away (though he suspected that even in his unusual new form, the pirate would be quite capable of taking care of himself. Those claws were sharp. The gashes in his shoulder could attest to it). He had only taken a few steps back toward where he had left the other when he heard something clink against the toe of his shoe. Looking down, he blinked once. Twice. He wasn't imagining it, was he? There was a small vial of a strange green liquid at his feet. He blinked again. It was still there. With all the enthusiasm of someone who had just spotted a pile of a few thousand gil, he grabbed the vial and made his way back to where he had left the other.
Far from being eaten, the former Balthier was curled up in a little ball, napping rather happily from the looks of it. While Basch wouldn't be willing to admit it, some part of him found the scene unspeakably adorable (though still kind of disturbing). Shifting his glance for a moment between the sleeping cat-man and the vial of something or other, he briefly contemplated just leaving him that way. He would probably cause less trouble in that form. It would be somewhat difficult to steal things and even harder to pilot and airship, he imagined. Then he remembered the earlier episode of bizarre kitty snuggles and decided that it was his responsibility, no, his duty, to change the man back to his original form. He only hoped that whatever was in the little bottle wasn't going to do something worse. Heaving a sigh, he closed the distance between himself and the sleeping creature and gave him a gentle tap to wake him up.
Alright, maybe not so gentle. But the damned thing was awake now at least. He rather cheerfully popped the cap off the vial, which obviously caught the groggy cat's attention as he seemed to be jumping for joy. It was not long before the creature had consumed the entire contents. Meanwhile, Basch took the opportunity to close his eyes and hope for the best. When he dared to open them again, the sky pirate was again a human. Unfortunately, he seemed to not be a he. What Basch saw upon opening his eyes was a very confused-looking woman in Balthier's clothes, looking herself over as if she were peering at some sort of fascinating puzzle. Basch blinked. The sight didn't go away. Damn.
"Well," was all he could think to say.
"Can I talk?" the again Hume, but still not quite right, Balthier ventured, a smile forming at the result. "Oh good, that meowing business was getting a bit tiresome." Basch considered that for a moment and thought that perhaps he had preferred the meowing to the Hume's typical sarcastic chatter. Oh well. He supposed that was one problem solved, anyway.
"Have you looked at yourself?" Stupid question. Of course he had, that's what he was just doing. Not that Basch had a better way of addressing the problem that had yet to be solved. To his surprise, the sky pirate burst into a hysterical yet obviously cheerful fit of laughter.
"Attractive, aren't I?" the man… woman… thing quipped once the laughter had subsided to the occasional small giggle, twirling around and posing as if she were a model on a runway. Basch was so taken aback by the behavior that he could do nothing more than stare, his mouth agape. The woman laughed again, then to Basch's further amazement began dancing and singing.
"I feel pretty, oh so pretty!" The woman who used to be a man was bouncing around the area leaping on and off of rocks, singing to herself the whole way. Apparently whatever combination of chemicals had done this had no adverse effect on the pirate's energy level.
"You're enjoying this," Basch observed, once he was able to remember how to speak. His strangely cheerful companion hopped down from a rock to land gracefully in front of the man.
"Wouldn't you?" she asked with another giggle. Basch took a moment to recall all the odd stray thoughts that had ever crossed his mind. As he expected, mysteriously becoming a woman had not been one of them.
"I doubt it."
"You might have a different perspective if you just got finished being a cat." Basch pondered that for a moment, deciding that being of the wrong sex probably was preferable to being of the wrong species.
"Besides, it presents a wonderfully fascinating opportunity," the other added.
"Oh dear." Basch was not going to begin to consider what kind of unsavory scheme the sky pirate was cooking up. Particularly when it apparently involved Balthier going back to earlier cat antics, that being getting very close and snuggly with the other man. On a normal day, he would have probably pushed the other away from him on instinct. However, this was about as far from a normal day as Basch had ever experienced, and he was so utterly confused that he really was not sure there was such a thing as an instinctual reaction in this situation.
"I've always wanted to know what it felt like from this side." Basch blinked, running through all possible meanings of that comment, and landed with some trepidation on the one he thought most likely to have stemmed from the other's mind at this moment.
"Surely you're not implying," he trailed off not really wishing to say anything further. This was a dream, he consoled himself. It had to be a dream. It absolutely could not be real life. Real life wasn't this bizarre. Real life didn't involve a female Balthier clinging to him with obviously inappropriate ideas in his… her head. He wasn't entirely sure why his dreams included such an abomination either, but that was another point entirely.
"Oh but I am, Baschey-waschey," the other commented, snuggling closer and tracing little circles across the man's chest with one finger. Right, suspicions confirmed. This had to be the creepiest dream Basch had ever had in his life. How desperately he wished he would just wake up screaming and it would all be over with.
"Don't call me that," he managed. Somehow, he could feel a slow, creeping insanity filtering into his brain. Right, all a dream. That was not Balthier. This whole thing was a figment of his imagination, which was apparently far more warped than he had ever considered.
"But it's so cute!" the woman cooed at him playfully. Basch could not help but feel that the other was having entirely too much fun at his expense.
"No," he said flatly, which caused the other to pout.
"Oh fine, I'll stop." The pout was gone in about half a second and replaced by a look that could only be described as coy. "Come on, Basch, humor me. How many men can make a claim like this?" Basch frowned back at the other.
"How many men would want to?" the knight retorted. He thought this situation was the kind of thing you kept as a deep dark secret, not something you publicized. He knew he was going to deny it ever having happened. That is, on the off chance that it wasn't a dream, which he was absolutely convinced it was. After all, who in their right mind would think that there were strange potions lying around in caves that made people turn into women and cats?
"But don't you think this is an unparalleled opportunity to satisfy a long held curiosity?" the woman continued. Funny, Basch seemed to recall some sort of proverb involving cats and curiosity. In any case, he saw no reason this had anything to do with him. Well, aside from the obvious.
"For you, maybe," he snorted.
"Surely, there's something for you in this deal," the woman pointed out, without further clarification.
"I'm waiting," Basch replied after a moment of what he considered to be awkward silence. The woman leaned in close to whisper in the knight's ear.
"How many girls have you been with lately?" Basch blinked. That was a valid point, actually. It wasn't exactly like the so-called kingslayer had a particularly active social life, having been holed up in a dungeon for two years and whatnot. On some level, disturbing as it was, the prospect was awfully tempting. And he had to admit the woman who was standing in front of him was quite notably attractive. He supposed that only made sense. The sky pirate, however troublesome he may be, was unquestionably handsome as a man, so it seemed natural that he would be similarly attractive as a woman. With an added layer of cuteness in the fact that she was smaller in form that he had been and the clothes didn't quite fit right. Wait, had he thought some part of this whole fiasco made sense? There was something seriously wrong here.
"I don't degrade myself with… whatever you are," he told him as seriously as he could muster, though he could already feel his resolve fading to the temptation and the confusion and the general feeling of oh god what the hell is going on here. In any case, it was a last ditch effort at fending off the sky pirate. If there was one thing he would give the sky pirate credit for, it was that he was very good at pulling metaphorical strings. Pushing one's metaphorical buttons. Licking one's not so metaphorical neck. Oh dear. "Stop." The woman obeyed the command, but peered up at Basch's face with a pout.
"Why?" Basch wasn't entirely sure what to say to that. He would have thought the answer was inherently obvious. The other pondered for a moment, then seemed as if he… she… it had suddenly understood something. "I don't think I can get pregnant if that's what you're worried about. I'm still a man," he paused, looking down at his present body and curiously poking at one of the newly formed breasts, then shrugged, adding, "I think." It was remarkable how only the one who had not been suddenly transformed seemed to be at all disturbed by this.
As for the things the former Balthier had said, they were things Basch really did not want to think about. Actually, Basch did not want to think about anything at the moment. He was far too befuddled by this whole mess to continue these vague flailing attempts at keeping a grip on reality. So he made an executive decision. He was simply not going to think about anything for a while.
"Alright, you win," he conceded with a heavy sigh, ignoring the other's obvious joy. "Just one request." The woman nodded and Basch continued, "Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop reminding me of who you actually are." The plea was met with a devious grin from the former Balthier, who would for the moment be known to Basch's poor muddled mind as "Her." He couldn't quite deal with anything else.
"No problem, Baschey." Yup, brain gone. Checked out. Good night. If one were compare the workings of the mind to a hamster running in a wheel, the hamster in Basch's mind had quite clearly just had a heart attack. Hopefully it would revive after this whole incident was over. On the other hand, he couldn't quite bring himself to care. He was doing his best to cut out any thoughts other than recognition of the fact that he was being cuddled by a very attractive woman. Who was just a woman. Not a sky pirate, not a man, just a woman. That and the fact that he seemed to be rapidly losing pieces of clothing. Strangely enough, that didn't quite bother him at this point. His resistance was entirely broken. In fact, he found himself giving in the feeling of a kind of warm touch he had not felt in a very long time. It was not long before he had managed to similarly undo the garments of the woman and they were both lying in the sand, engaged in a flurry of kisses and touches, moans and sighs, and otherwise highly enjoyable personal contact, culminating in loud gasps and a feeling of total relaxation. Basch laid still for a moment, catching his breath and letting a nearly inevitable sense of happy contentment wash over him before pushing himself upright and beginning to gather his clothes. His companion seemed to still be in the happy contentment phase.
"You're not half bad, old man," the woman muttered quietly, smiling softly as she saw the man move for his clothes. Basch just stared back for a moment, then went on with his business of getting dressed. He would have had a few choice things to say about that comment if he was actively thinking.
By the time Basch was fully clothed and enough time had passed for the metaphorical hamster in his head to start breathing again, the effects of the green liquid seemed to have warn off. Balthier had gone back to being his normal male self, thankfully also fully clothed, though Basch in his deepest secret thoughts honestly would not have minded if the potion had not worn off and Balthier was not fully clothed. He would never openly say it to anyone, but he could tell that the (far more attractive in his own male opinion) sight of the female version was something he was going to miss. On the other hand, the rest of him was rejoicing in the fact that they seemed to have regained some level of normalcy.
"I suppose we really should go find the rest of the group," the pirate finally suggested. Somehow, in all the craziness, Basch had almost forgotten that the rest of the group existed.
"Not a word about all of this nonsense," Basch reminded threateningly. Balthier mimicked the pouting face he had been using as a woman, which Basch noted was far less effective now.
"You didn't like it?"
"That's not the point," Basch answered, immediately kicking himself for having left open the possibility that he had enjoyed the whole experience immensely. Even if it happened to be the truth, he would rather not have given the pirate the satisfaction. The pirate's lips curled into a self-satisfied smile, but he made no comment other than to pat the other man on the shoulder.
"Don't worry, who would believe me anyway?" Basch supposed that was true enough.
"Point taken," he commented, beginning to walk in the direction of where he thought their rendezvous point was supposed to have been (that hamster wasn't quite at full strength again yet), making it as clear as possible that he wanted no further discussion on the way back to the group.
"Where have you been?" Vaan exclaimed irritatedly once they made contact. "You were supposed to have been here half an hour ago!" The two men exchanged vaguely nervous glances.
"We ran into some trouble," Balthier explained. When the group seemed to be anxiously waiting for futher clarification. Basch decided to chime in.
"Yes, whatever you do, do not drink the green liquid." That was met with raised eyebrows all around.
"It turned me into a cat," Balthier added cheerfully, receiving four even more incredulous looks. He shrugged. "I got better." It was Ashe who broke the ensuing silence by letting out a loud exasperated sigh.
"Look, if you're just going to make up stories, then we may as well get going. Our work here is done." With that, she turned and began to walk away, the rest of the group trailing behind her. Balthier hung back ever so slightly to remain within Basch's earshot.
"See? I told you they wouldn't believe me," he commented under his breath before picking up his pace and joining the rest of the group.
It really shouldn't have surprised him, especially with the way Balthier had delivered what little information he had given. It was not exactly a believable story, what with mysterious vials of green liquid and changing into a cats and so on and all the rest of that nonsense.
The only thing Basch almost regretted to admit to himself was that he sort of hoped that Balthier might someday happen across a vial of that strange potion again.