Title: Watch Fire

Rating: PG

Characters/Pairings: Basch, Balthier, vague mentions of Dr. Cid

Wordcount: 331

Warnings: Spoilers for the Pharos.

Other: Birthday present for logistikanyx. Takes place just after the events at the Pharos.

The night was dark and still, broken only by the flickering light of the campfire. The watch so far had passed without incident, something for which Basch was always grateful. Even so, his eyes were always watchful of the surroundings, especially since those of his present companion seemed to be less so.

Balthier was staring into the fire, his chin resting on interlaced hands and his elbows on his knees. His face was full of a seriousness uncharacteristic of his typical demeanor, his eyes focused on the crackling flames and his lips displaying a contemplative frown.

Basch had never seen Balthier like this. In the course of their daily activities, one would have thought the pirate had not been affected in the slightest by the death of his father, but here in the quiet solitude of the night and the fire, he seemed openly distraught.

He wondered if the other even remembered that there was another person sitting there with him. He supposed it didn't much matter. Balthier was lost in his own thoughts, and as long as Basch was keeping a mindful eye on the environment there was nothing to worry about.

"How could such an intelligent man be so stupid?" Balthier questioned in barely more than a quiet mumble. He hadn't addressed his question to Basch, nor to anyone or anything in particular as far as he could tell. It merely served to confirm Basch's suspicion of what consumed the other's mind. For now, he remained silent.

Basch's eyes traced the path of an ash rising out of the flame and couldn't help but think it was reminiscent of the way the crazy scientist had looked as the stone absorbed him. He wondered if that was why Balthier was watching the flames so intently.

"Are you alright?" he finally asked. Balthier shifted his gaze toward the other man without otherwise moving or even changing his expression.

"Always," the pirate replied simply, and turned his eyes back to the flames.