Disclaimer: I own neither Final Fantasy XII nor its characters.
A/N: Another improbable one-shot and the same boring disclaimer (you think I could be a bit more creative with it...well, I can't.) I ask forgiveness for this extremely unlikely scenario, but I just had to write it. It was written for Ashmanda (though I did change a bit of it from the original...sorry.) I hope everyone enjoys it!
"Vaan, what did you do to him!?" exclaimed a very agitated Penelo.
The young man looked terrified to answer. His gaze went to his elder companion that he was struggling to keep upright.
"Well?" she demanded as she began to fret over the slumped form.
"I swear I thought I was giving him a potion!"
Vaan staggered and a groan sounded from the man that was being held aloft.
"What did you give him?" Penelo asked icily, ensuring that every syllable oozed with displeasure.
"…baben ooo…" Vaan muttered.
Penelo took a moment to stare daggers at her childhood friend before demanding, "What?"
"I think it was Bhujerban Madhu," Vaan sighed and another groan came from the bulk he shouldered.
"Oh Vaan," she chided. "What were you even doing with that?"
"Well, Balthier gave…"
"You mean stole," a clipped tone came from in front of them.
The arched eyebrow on his face was all the expression Penelo needed to see to know that poor Basch was never going to live this one down. Balthier sauntered his way to them, casually cocking his head from side to side as though inspecting some part of the Strahl.
"I believe we will be camping here tonight," he drawled as he tapped a finger to his lips.
"What? Why are we stopping so soon?" another voice demanded.
Ashe approached and stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of the hunched over form of the Dalmascan knight being held up by Vaan. Fran came into view directly behind her. The viera shook her head and then took her place at Balthier's side.
"Is he alright?" Ashe asked hesitantly.
"So how much did he drink, I wonder?" Balthier toned in amusement.
Penelo turned her head towards her friend as her hand went to Basch's forehead.
"I thought it was a potion," the young blonde offered meekly.
"So not only is our dear captain severely inebriated, but he has done so unawares in a much weakened state." Balthier tsked and shook his head but did nothing to hide the grin forming on his face.
Basch gave another groan and since no one was offering, Penelo resigned, "I'll watch over him tonight."
"And I think it best to keep him downwind in case the man can't hold his liquor," the sky-pirate drawled as he turned and walked away.
He was followed by his Viera companion and the princess. Vaan stuck around because he was still the ballast that kept the elder man upright. But Penelo felt the young orphan would be more useful as an errand boy and immediately sent him to fetch water, a blanket and pillow, and her pack. Vaan wasted no time in unceremoniously dropping his heavy burden and running off to do her bidding.
She growled at the boy's retreating back and struggled to turn the knight who now lay face down on the grassy plain. Penelo finally succeeded, after much effort, and hovered over him with two fingers on his pulse. She listened to his shallow breathing and counted the rhythmic cadence of his heart and sighed a breath of relief. At least he was asleep, even if he looked rather uncomfortable lying on the ground on his back.
Penelo turned her head to look for Vaan and muttered. How long did it really take to get just a few simple things? She started to stand, and then yelped as she found herself being pulled down by two very powerful arms. She felt her face on fire as Basch drew her tighter against him and, of course, this was how Vaan found her when he finally got back.
"Um, Penelo," the boy questioned in a very unsure tone as he peered at his friend who was now lying on top of Basch.
She pushed against the man's chest gently, but the man's grip was surprisingly strong for someone dead asleep. She doubled her efforts and was rewarded by him rolling onto his side and now having her hands pinned against his chest as he pulled her even tighter.
"Don't just stand there!" she gasped while Vaan just gaped at the pair. "Help me before he squeezes me to death!"
At the mention of death, Vaan sprung into action. He wasn't ready for Penelo's perceived demise, especially at the hands…or in the hands of someone they both knew and trusted. He grabbed a hold of one of Basch's arms and pulled, but the man shook the boy off easily and left no room for Penelo to escape.
Never one to be dissuaded, Vaan tried again…and again…and again. But every time he pulled, Basch retaliated.
"He punched me!" the boy exclaimed holding his hands over his bruising eye.
Penelo stilled and Basch's grip loosened, but not enough to release her. She sighed, dropping her head back, and immediately regretted her act of defeat. A gentle snore escaped the captain's lips and Penelo could feel his breath at her neck. If this wasn't torture, she didn't know what was.
"Just go get Balthier," she growled, not liking the idea one bit.
Vaan muttered and stalked away to do as he was told and moments later a very amused sky-pirate walked into view. He chuckled and shook his head as he drank in the sight of the two tangled on the ground.
"I truly had no idea that your affection for each other ran so deep," he drawled, lips spreading into a wide grin.
"Shut up and help me," Penelo growled as she tried pushing against the sleeping man.
Balthier cocked an eyebrow and smirked as he watched the knight's arms tighten around her. She stilled and he relaxed. Ah if only he had a way to record this…
"He does look peaceful," the sly man reflected. "It would be a shame to deny him a most well deserved rest."
"Yeah, well I'd be happy to let you take my place," she grunted, trying hard to push Basch's face away from her neck.
"I prefer much softer bodies, with far more curves than the good captain possesses," he stated.
Penelo gave another yelp and Balthier laughed outright as he watched the slumbering man nuzzle his face against her exposed neck.
"He is so going to start shaving!" she exclaimed in frustration. "Are you even going to try and help me?"
"Just relax," he offered with a chuckle.
"I'm surprised he hasn't woken with as much fuss as you make." Balthier smirked down at her. "But think now, every time you try fighting, he tightens his grip. Relax and his arms loosen."
"Remind me to never ask you for help again," she muttered, but relaxed all the same. "You could at least try to get me out of this."
"I can only garner that Vaan already attempted that and quite frankly, I have no desire to have my face marred. Besides, I think the pair of you seem well suited for each other."
"You're only saying that because I'm stuck here."
"Fran would have never let herself get caught," he chided with a grin. "And, personally, I think Ashe would have killed him by now."
Penelo sighed and twisted in an attempt to get comfortable. Basch's arms tightened about her and she growled.
"Just give me the stupid pillow and go away," she muttered unhappily.
The brunette smirked and retrieved the pillow and blanket lying nearby. He cautiously made his way towards the pair, grinning all the way.
"Now, now, I have no intention of taking her from you. She won't thank you for a stiff neck, so play nice," Balthier teased as he dodged a stray fist while placing the pillow under Penelo's head.
"Thank you," Penelo said softly as the sky-pirate chuckled and tossed the blanket over the two.
"Sweet dreams," he said with a wave and then walked back to where the other three party members were.
Penelo gave another sigh and resigned to her fate. She had to admit it wasn't so bad being in the man's arms. 'Well, she might as well make herself comfortable' she thought as her arm pushed its way from his chest to around his waist. Her eyes widened in shock as she felt a hand trail down her back to rest just above her rear.
"That hand better not go any lower mister or I will kill you," she growled softly.
Morning came and Basch could feel something warm pressed up against him. And though the feeling was pleasant, the dull ache in his head was not. He stirred and groaned as the ache became a throb and then stilled when he heard another moan, one not coming from him.
His eyes shot open immediately and there nestled well within his arms was the tiny Dalmascan girl. He suffered the pain in his head and forced his eyes to focus on their severely compromised position. Why did he not remember a thing of what happened last night?
Now Basch was man who feared nothing, but the situation he found himself in was slowly turning the man into a coward. 'Gods, what if someone spots us thus?' he thought in a panic. And then his insides turned to ice as he spotted the familiar form of his sky-pirate companion.
"Be a good man and let her sleep," Balthier whispered quietly and Basch gapped at him.
The brown-eyed man knelt down and offered his friend a flask of water. Basch carefully accepted and managed to drink without waking the girl. His eyes still begging for an explanation from the younger man.
"Now as the dear girl has no father anymore, captain, I feel I must insist that you make an honest woman of her," he drawled softly then rose and sauntered away.
Basch's eyes grew even more round and he shot up, beginning to choke on his drink. This of course woke Penelo, who found herself being flung to the ground. She blinked in amazement then instinctively rushed over to Basch and began patting the man on the back as he coughed.
"Are you okay?" Penelo questioned, full of concern.
"Forgive me," he rasped in reply.
She blushed and fumbled with her words. "Um, yeah, about that…well…"
The silence stretched and Basch tried in vain to recall the events that led up to this morning. Surely there would be some form of memory after such a night, but his head just throbbed in cadence with his ever rising heartbeat, giving him no further insight. He sighed and wondered just what he should tell the poor girl.
"Look it wasn't that bad," she said in a tone that sounded more like she was trying to convince herself as she sat down next to him.
His shoulders slumped as his ego took a turn for the worst. It wasn't bad enough that he had managed to accost her and failed to remember a thing, but now she was conveying she hadn't even enjoyed the evening either.
"Penelo, forgive me," he said forlornly, "but I remember nothing of last night's events."
The girl's face brightened and she smiled at him. "That's okay, like I said it wasn't that bad."
At least this time she sounded far more certain of herself.
"Vaan thought he was giving you a potion and it turned out be some Bhujerban Madhu," she explained and Basch felt another knot form in his stomach.
Now he could add being inebriated to his list of shortcomings in this affair, but at least his headache was now explained. He listened half-heartedly to her go on about how careless the young man was. He inwardly cringed when she described his initial behavior and his childish actions. As her tale progressed, he listened more intently but still with a sense of dread.
"And well, you just wouldn't let go," she continued. "Balthier then came and told me to give up. But he was right, every time I relaxed, you didn't try squeezing me to death. And like I said, it wasn't really that bad."
He watched as her face went through a flurry of expressions and shades of red as she explained. It was all too much for him to take. There was one simple matter she had yet to touch on and he could no longer tolerate waiting for her to say it.
"Penelo," he started and then stopped, trying to think of just how he should put this.
She looked at him with concern and took his chin in her hand as she inspected his eyes to see if he might still be drunk. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"I am fine, truly," he insisted awkwardly, now all too aware of how close she was to him.
"I can get you more water if you want."
He shook his head and boldly took her hands in his. "Penelo, I behaved reprehensibly and though I have no memory of the night, I would make my amends."
Basch watched her gaze at their clasped hands. He watched her cheeks turn a lovely shade of crimson that made her look quite beautiful. The way her eyes sparkled in the dim light of the dawn, even the perplexed look that sat on her porcelain features was making his heart beat faster. The idea of 'making an honest woman' of her was extremely compelling at the moment, but he had his duty to perform first. Not to mention the fact that she was young, so very young. Though, perhaps, if she did not mind…
"I have my duty to the princess, but if you are willing I would ask for your hand."
She cocks an eyebrow and reminds him, "Basch, you're already holding both of my hands."
He chuckles and nods at her. "I am aware. I am asking for your hand in marriage, Penelo."
"You're asking me to what?!" she exclaimed as she pulled her hands away from him like she's been bitten.
Basch frowns. "To marry me."
"Basch what exactly do you think happened last night," Penelo asks as her entire face turns bright red.
A triumphant smirk graced the lips of an all-knowing sky pirate as the girl's exclamation echoed over the plains.
"You play catalyst," his viera companion stated with an arched brow.
Balthier chuckled. "It was bound to happen eventually. Let's just say I'm helping them along."
"Come now, Fran. I am the essence of helpfulness when it comes to dear friends," he drawled with a grin as he adjusted his cuffs.