A little sequel to my story, Morning. Hope people likes it. XD

Permanent Mark

The hangover passed. It took far too long.

Patches of his memory were still lost as he groggily clambered up from his bed but unfortunately for the Knight, there were some memories he wished he could forget.

How could he have allowed himself to behave in such a disgraceful manner? The drinking was the main culprit, as it took away any sense of control he had normally. It had been a long time since he had been in a state like that, and the hangover and sickly feeling in his stomach, would make it even longer before he would do anything like that again.

The other culprit was Balthier. The younger man's constant goading and dares forced Basch Fon Ronsenberg to try and keep up with his antics. A lame excuse. A terribly lame excuse for Basch never had to do anything Balthier tried to pressurise him with. But it had happened all the same.

It was terrible. It was ungentle man-like. He had shamed himself.

Though not all of it had been terrible.

Ashe.

Basch staggered to the bathroom. He leaned up against the sink and turned on the cold water tap. He stood there for a while, watching the water fall into the basin and swirl down the drain with a fixed mesmerised stare. He placed his fingers in the stream and ran his wet fingers over his face and through his hair. It did little to make him feel better.

He closed his eyes and he remembered the few hours he had spent with the Queen. Those few hours could have been more if he hadn't left. Things would have been so different if he had stayed liked she asked.

The memory of Ashe was always so clear in his mind. He remembered every single touch she gave him, every kiss….the way her skin felt against his. Her smell….her smile. He remembered the passion getting out of hand, boiling beyond physical endurance. Beyond the physical endurance of both of them…and the bed.

He heard her laughter, above the cracking and breaking of the wood. Her laugh was sweeter than any music and it was infectious a sound, almost as much as her rapturous cries.

He would never hear that again. Ashe had made it quite clear when he and Balthier were released from the prison cell. His stupid and childish behaviour had ruined any kind of future they might have had together. Perhaps it would be best for him to go back to Archadia as soon as possible.

Basch needed a shower. The rank smell of booze was wafting off him still and it only made him feel even more disgusted with himself. He needed to clean it off.

He ran the shower and when the temperature was just the right scolding hot, Basch stripped off his foul odorous clothes and stepped inside. The heat of the water did wonders to every ache and pain in his bones, the soap he lathered over his torso covered the smell of alcohol.

But as his hand reached down, there was a new pain. He hadn't felt it before, but it was worse.

When his fingers touched his right buttock, the sensation of pain made him leap out from the shower. His foot caught the edge of the step and he was hurtled across the room, hopping and wobbling to keep himself balanced.

Basch was able to steady himself against the door, but the pain in his bum still hadn't gone. He cursed loudly and he tried to gaze round and see what wound had been inflicted upon him. Basch couldn't see, so he walked out of the bathroom and to the dresser where he knew there would be a mirror.

He turned round and angled his head so he could see the reflection of his bottom.

What he saw, he did not like at all.

He screamed with all his fury and he cursed the name of the one he knew to be responsible.

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"BALTHIER!"

The door flew open with a crash and the pirate was startled so suddenly that he fell from the chair. The young man couldn't get back up, but he didn't need to as two very strong hands hauled him up, right off the ground. Balthier was dangling in the air, peering down into the eyes of a very angry Basch.

It was one of the few times Balthier was ever actually afraid.

"Ahh!" He smiled as politely as he could. "To what do I owe this lovely surprise visit?"

"You did this to me!" Basch growled.

Did what? There were so many things that the two of them did. Balthier tried to think what particular "This" Basch was going on about, but it wasn't easy when he was being throttled.

"Erm…if I remember rightly, I did not make you drink."

"I'm not talking about the drink. I'm talking about my….."

Basch's hands suddenly released him and Balthier was sent crashing down to the floor again. When he looked up, he saw the anger had passed and was replaced by the all too familiar "Basch shy blushing" phase. He was embarrassed about something.

"Your?"

Basch coughed an uncomfortable cough, covering the word that he was too shamed to say.

"I'm sorry? I didn't hear…"

"My rear!! I'm talking about my backside!"

All of Balthier's defences came up in a flash. He scrambled away and held up his hands. He was more than afraid now, he could feel himself trembling.

"I did nothing to your precious backside! I wouldn't go near it, touch it….or…." Balthier grimaced. "I don't want to think about it!"

"But you….." Basch was seething once more. "You must have gotten this monstrosity put there! You must have done! There was only you! "

Balthier shrugged his shoulders.

"Erm….what are you talking about, Basch? What has been…..?"

The sky pirate watched as a very embarrassed Basch, walked back over to the door and checked that the lock was on. When he came back to Balthier, his head was bowed and his balled fists were tensing so much with frustration.

"I have a mark….on my…."

"On your arse. I get that…fine….don't need too….WHOAA!"

It wasn't exactly what either of the men wanted to have happen. Basch had turned round and pulled one side of his shorts down, so the flesh of his rump was clearly seen. Balthier's hands went to cover his eyes, but upon seeing the mark…he was pleased he did look. He started laughing.

"Oh this is a dear diary moment!" roared the twenty something as Basch pulled up his shorts. "In fact, this is a priceless moment I shall treasure for the rest of my life. I just wish I had a memstone!"

"It is not funny, Balthier. These things cannot be removed!"

"You shouldn't have gotten it done!"

"I know nothing of this! I did not get this disgusting thing carved into my flesh! It was your doing!" Basch sneered. "This is exactly the kind of prank you would take great pleasure in inflicting upon me!"

"I wish I had thought of it. But alas, I was not responsible, because I can remember everything I did last night." Balthier got to his feet and smoothed out the crumples in his shirt. "But can you? Can you seriously say that you recall everything?"

No. He could not. His inexperience of drinking so heavily had taken its toll. Memories were patchy, details were foggy, with the exception of Ashe. She was the only thing he could picture so sharply.

"But don't worry." Balthier chuckled as he wiped the tears from his eyes. "It's accurate. You can't sue anyone for libel."

"I am NOT…"

"Oh please, my good man. Everyone knows that you are and now you have the mark to make it official! I'm sure her highness would love it."

"She is not seeing this!" Basch shook his head. "Nor are you to mention it."

"Won't that spoil your fun?" Balthier smirked. "If her highness can't see it…then I take it you won't be…."

"I'm leaving for Archadia as soon as I have finished making amends for our….misbehaviour. I have shamed Ashelia too much. She does not want me around and I shall honour that at the very least. I won't be a bother to her any more."

"Will you tell me when you remember getting it done? I love the artistry….so detailed."

"I did not do this." Basch sighed. "And if you did not….then I shall find the person responsible."

"Good luck with that. Seriously. I hope you do find them."

Basch let a deep disgusted growl escape his lips.

"This is still all your fault, Balthier. I should never have listened to you."

Without another word, the disgraced Knight turned and stormed out of the room. The door slammed behind him and Balthier was left with only his amused thoughts.

Those and the guilt.

As he thought about it, he did feel responsible. Well…he was.

The moment when the giant of a man had passed out, provided a remarkable opportunity . The blow to the head by a flying chair had put Basch out for a while, but he and Vaan had checked he wasn't seriously injured. Then it was just a case of taking him down to Janaek's and getting the tattoo done. Bangaa artists were the best.

Basch could hate him for it now, but Balthier certainly wasn't going to let a drunken night spoil things for the Queen. He had seen how disappointed she had been with Basch and Balthier knew he had to make it all right.

But how would showing the Queen of Dalmasca, a tattoo of the Royal Seal and "Property of Ashe" on the bum cheek of the man she loved, make anything better?

He had to come up with a plan. A good plan.

And when it came to dealing with the female psyche…he had to talk to someone.

That would be Fran.

She might not be too pleased about it either.

But Balthier was going to do this. He would do a good deed for Basch and Ashe.

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"Stoppit! I mean it! Please! Just stop taking those mem-pictures and get me down from here!"

She couldn't stop. Sure she was angry that he had been stupid enough to follow Balthier, but this was just too good to be true. The memstone was still recording and people were still laughing too.

"Penny! Please! I'm sorry! Just give me some clothes! Please! I beg you!"

"I think now would be a good time to let him down, miss." said a soldier by her side. The older man was shielding his eyes. "There are children around and we can't have them looking…."

"It's okay. You can let him down now." Penelo sniggered as several soldiers cut Vaan's bonds from the fountain and covered his nakedness. There was only so much torture that she could put him through and Vaan had been humiliated enough now.

"When I see those two….they are going to…."

"Vaan…." Penelo rested a hand on his bare shoulder. "You're lucky you're not being arrested for this. So why don't you just come home and we can all laugh about this."

"I'm not laughing, Penny."

"That's what you think."

Did she just wink at him? Vaan was so confused.

As he walked nervously through the still starring crowd, Vaan tried to figure out if she was being serious or not.

Penelo looked round.

She wasn't angry any more. There was an entirely different look in her eyes now.

She was scheming something and from that smile…Vaan knew it was something good.

Balthier's words came flooding back.

"Trust me, Vaan. We tie you up and Penelo will certainly see you in a new light!"

That rotter.

To be continued?