Author's Note: Oh Ye gods. I have been so very distracted this past year or so. Firefly and Chuck fandoms have completely taken over…but I have not lost sight of my OTP from Final Fantasy. How could I forget them? (I'm so shamed!) I am desperately trying to continue with my other FF12 story True Feelings, but to get me back on track I decided to write this.
It is a one shot. Albeit a long one, but my friends know what I'm like. I write and I just can't stop. This is just a tester story for me, to see if I still have the Baschashe oomph in my writing. If any of you who are still following this pairing read this and like it….let me know. I need to know I haven't lost anything.
Anyhoo…this idea came to me a long while ago. It's from my "Book" and it revolves around Basch having possibly OCD. I'm not a great expert on it, but I think Basch is the kind of character who would want to stick by routine, follow it obsessively and be very picky about cleanliness and things being tidy.
As mentioned before, this is a tester story. Let me know what you think, but do so nicely.
Ta muchly. Enjoy.
PPS. This is an M rated story for the ending. XD
Adherence To Routine
There was always routine in his life. There was order and a process to follow that helped smooth and ease the rest of the day.
As a boy, it had been nagged into him, a parental instruction that bared repeating again and again until it became second nature to him.
The knock on the bedroom door came at six am in the morning. Basch groaned and heard the squeak of the door as his mother came rushing in.
"Good morning boys."
From beneath the sheet he heard the sound of water sloshing in a bowl and the sound of his brother's bed squeaking as he rose.
Basch immediately flung the covers back and got up from his bed, rubbing his tired eyes with the back of his hand as his mouth opened wide for a spectacular yawn. His brother mimicked him from his own bed by the window and after both teenage boys stretched, they turned and began to pull off the sheets from their mattresses.
Everything was stripped whilst their mother carefully laid out more bowls of water on the wash stands and when Basch dumped the linen in the little basket by the door, Noah went to the cupboard and sorted out some new ones. Sheet by sheet, both boys remade their beds, tucking every corner and loose side underneath so not a crease or ruffle could be seen. The end results were two beds so faultless and hard that the army themselves would be put to shame.
They were the sons of Captain Fon Ronsenberg, a well respected officer in the Landisian army; so when it came to cleanliness and tardiness, the same high standards were expected from the teenage boys as they were from soldiers.
After making his bed, Basch immediately walked over to the wash bowl, yawned and grunted before dunking his hands in the hot water his mother had already prepared. He cupped some water in his hands and splashed his face, gasping as it washed the last of his fatigue away. Shaking his head a little, he then scooped up one of the flannels, rubbed the diminishing bar of soap across it several times and wet it so he could wash his face properly.
He had washed the same way for the last ten and a half years.
Brow, eyes, cheeks, nose, chin and mouth, in that order. Basch wiped his left ear, followed by the right and stripped out of his night clothes before commencing with the rest of his body.
Neck, shoulders and arms (always starting with the left). Hands and then the fingers, the little one first and the thumb last; chest, belly, including the belly button, hips, thighs…then legs. When he had done his legs Basch wiped the flannel over his feet, making sure he cleaned between each toe, going from left to right and then he stood and attempted reach the parts of his back. When he had completed that, Basch picked up a different flannel and wash his buttocks and other parts.
During this time, his brother matched him exactly in his actions. They synchronised perfectly.
The drying with the towel wasn't so structured, both the boys did what felt wet and then the towels and night clothes were placed in the little hamper with the bed sheets.
The night before, both of them had taken from their cupboards the clothes they wanted to wear and placed them on the small stools by their beds. Now they were dry from their strip wash and with the constant faultless synchronization they began to get dressed.
Basch put on his underwear first then his trousers. Before either of them put on their tops, they stepped over to the wash basins again and rinsed their mouths from a third small bowl of cool water. They both made sure any spilt water was dried from their bodies before slipping on their tops.
Basch smiled. This particular morning, he and Noah had chosen different tops. His was a long green shirt, perfect for the hot summer Landis days, whilst Noah kept with his tradition of a black/grey shirt. They tucked some of the length into their trousers in the same manner and once dressed the brothers started the long process of putting on their boots. The boots were necessary especially for the chores they would later do, the coiled leather strapped sandals would have be preferable, to allow their feet to breathe, but they didn't protect their feet. The laces on the work boots always took forever, as the tightening and fastening hooks ran up most of their legs. Even at the top of the boot, Basch had to wind some of the lace round his calf before securing it properly.
Basch and Noah were ready by six thirty five am and when they had cleaned their bedroom, it was approaching six fifty. They checked and combed their hair whilst looking in the mirrors, Noah scoffed and laughed a little as Basch took longer trying to detangle his longer strands.
At precisely six fifty eight, the brothers took the bowls of water and walked down the stairs to the back kitchen door where they rid the waters in the drain.
From the moment they woke up and to the moment the two boys sat down at the breakfast table with their parents, there had been silence between them. They didn't talk or joke,(except for the occasional laugh or mocking chuckle) because the first conversation of the day was left for the whole family to share. Meal times were always the happiest and loudest times of the day in the Fon Ronsenberg household; breakfast even more so.
"Care to tell me why young Gwen called round, for the tenth time yesterday, boys?" asked their father, smiling with humorous knowing at his wife. She smiled back, supping lightly at her tea as she waited for her two thirteen year olds to answer the question.
"She wanted to see Noah again. She has a crush on him." Basch said as he passed his mother the jug of milk.
"No she doesn't! It's you she's after!" Noah laughed, gesturing with his spoon.
"You're the one she always flutters her eyelids at!"
"Have you heard the way she talks to you, Basch? She puts on that soppy love sick accent only when you're around "Oh Basch, I think you're so strong! Oh Basch! I think you're so funny! Oh Basch! I think you're so cute!""
"She talks like that round both of us!"
"Which ever one of you she happens to like," said the Captain, trying to put on a stern angry look, but failing. "Don't try the twin swap trick again. It's not very nice. For her or us."
"We couldn't do that now, father!" Noah protested jabbing his spoon angrily at the porridge in his bowl. "Not now that he has long girly locks."
"They're not girly!"
"Basch…you do need a haircut." his mother agreed. "It looks rough and tatty."
"But I happen to like it like this!" Basch whined. His mother sighed in reluctance.
"Very well, if you insist. But you have to brush it more often. Wash it too."
"Like a girl!" Noah sniggered.
In the house of Captain Fon Ronsenberg, everything was structured. There was order and lots and lots of routine, but it was a family, who helped, laughed, worked and played together.
They knew what was expected. Basch did this routine every morning and did so until that fateful day on his and Noah's sixteenth birthday.
The day the Archadians came and invaded Landis.
There was a whole year of living on the streets of Dalmasca for the young orphaned Basch Fon Ronsenberg. He was a boy stricken with guilt and remorse and he had nothing left except the routine he adapted for such a rough living. After he was seventeen, he eventually took to doing chores and errands for a Fiend Clan called Centurio and it wasn't until he took out his first ever mark that things changed.
"I am most impressed, kupo!" Montblanc said, only to have the other members of the clan loudly agree. The tiny moogle had to hold up his hand to silence them; he then scuttled over to the seventeen year old and gazed up and up at Basch. "I think we may have to forgo our rule on age limits and induct you into our clan. What do you think of that?"
"I would be honoured, Master Montblanc." said Basch bowing. "Thank you!"
The others laughed, for they always found the young boy's manners to be out of place amongst the hardy and battle worn fighters, especially when they thought him to be but a simple street rat.
Basch became a member of the clan, the youngest they ever had, but his rigorous adherence to his routine and keeping things clean and ordered soon made the leader, Montblanc, steer him towards a better suited role.
"He's been re-arranging the weapons again, Montblanc." said one large Seeq hunter. "He's changed everything around."
"Does he have to keep doing it?" asked a hume man. "We can't keep track of where everything is now."
"But before everything was in chaos." Basch replied, worried as to why his attention to detail and cleanliness had caused his fellow hunters to call this meeting. Montblanc sighed and lightly patted Basch on his shin.
"I can't deny that your new filing system for our marks and customers have greatly improved efficiency in Centurio. But it is upsetting the flow with which my members like to work with. We are all impressed with you, young Ronsenberg. In less than a year you've gone from being a simple errand boy to one of the few ever to have reached the title of "Risk Breaker." However, kupo, I feel that perhaps you would be more suited to a role which will welcome your unusual habits."
"You do not want me here?"
"It's not like that Basch." said the Seeq. "You are a great hunter, you have everyone's respect, its just that you're so fussy. Every tiny little thing has to be exact for you and we've seen what you get like when the bottles of the potion aren't aligned straight on the shelves."
"It bothers you."
"A little bit, kupo." Montblanc sighed. The reactions of the others told Basch that it bothered them more than a little bit.
He knew what he could get like when things weren't perfect.
"We are not getting rid of you. Instead we've all agreed, kupo, that your membership with us can continue. We don't ever wish to rid ourselves of skilled hunters, so you can accept marks on behalf of Centurio. If you can reach Risk Breaker so quickly, who knows what else you can accomplish. We'd all like to see how that progresses for you."
All the other hunters again murmured in agreement.
"So what do you want to do with me?"
Montblanc hopped up onto the table next to Basch, so he was at a reasonable height level with him.
"Have you ever thought of joining the Dalmascan army, kupo?"
"No. I've not given it much thought at all. Should I?"
"I think you might like it, kupo."
The routine of the soldiers, the discipline and order gave Basch a purpose. Being in service to King Raminas and his family gave him the feeling of home and it lessened his guilt about his parents. He missed them, yet in this role Basch felt that they would be proud of him. Wherever they were, he knew that his parents would have been pleased with how he had carried on with his life.
Every morning it was the same as it was back home in Landis.
He dressed and washed himself in the same way he had done all his life, but with a few additions. The preparation of his armour and weapons were made the night before, he shone and buffed the metal plates to a dazzling blindness; he oiled his leather sandals, polished swords with eagerness and upon inspections, his trainers could never fault him. For anything.
"Why can't the rest of you be like Fon Ronsenberg?" yelled the sergeant to the other soldiers.
"I dunno." murmured one man to his friend. "I'm not an obsessive freak?"
In the very early mornings, Basch was always the first to rise. He went for runs around the training grounds, some of them being many miles before he returned and everyone else was getting up. He got a lot of resentment at first. They hated that he was the model soldier and they were struggling, but Basch never let that dampen his spirits, nor did he hate them back for it.
After his wash or shower, Basch would put on his armour; every part and piece was put on in a specific order. It had to be exact. The training drills were no real match for him either as his father had put him and Noah through similar tests before. The same went for the Chocobo training and archery practice. Basch even took up the extra duties of grooming the Chocobos and looking to their comfort.
At the end of the day, after all his chores, training and duties were finished, Basch would start the whole cycle again in preparation for the next day. The armour was polished, as were his swords and every piece of weaponry he owned was lined up on his rack, ranging from the largest down to the smallest. Nothing was out of place, ever.
"Why do you do it?"
Basch looked up from polishing his sword and saw the other recruits standing around him. He straightened his back and kept a rigid and unwavering posture as he spoke.
"My father taught me that everything must be done right. There are no half measures."
"Your father taught you?"
"He was a Captain in the Landisian army."
He had never told anyone about where he was from before. Montblanc's references were enough to have gotten him in without having been resorted to back round checks. Hearing that he was from Landis was enough to change some of their minds. The Dalmascans knew what happened when Archadia invaded the small republic and they never resented Basch for his strange ways again.
Well, not as much.
As the years went by, his ordered life became filled with more routine, but also it was filled with the horrors of battle and war. Basch excelled in battle, so much so that he was bestowed with an officer's rank . With this higher status, Basch took responsibility for everyone under his command and he took it extremely seriously.
After saving the life of one of the royal princes, Basch was given the honour of becoming a Knight in the order and that saw more responsibility.
It wasn't just his own routine that he had to adhere to, he had to make sure those of lower ranks also stuck to it. Inspections and palace duties were untaken with fierce determination and pride. He became engrossed in it all, it was his life and his purpose. His superiors couldn't have asked for a better knight. They were beyond impressed with his tactical mind and his experience in battle and with diplomacy was remarkable. In fact there was very little that Basch didn't excel in.
Though his obsessive and rather compulsive tendencies for accuracy frustrated some, the scholars of Raminas always marvelled at his writing.
Basch's reports were thicker than most of the ancient tombs in the library, which upset the scholars, but mainly because Basch didn't devote himself to just the arts instead of being a soldier.
Basch's penman ship was talked about often, but his journals and reports were so big and held masses of detail that his superiors and even the King himself asked for brief summaries rather than actually read them.
"Basch, it was a routine patrol of the Estersand!" cried Vossler dumping the thick report down on the table. The loud thud of the wad of paper echoed around the room. "We were barely out there for two hours yet you have written a hundred paged essay!"
"It is not a hundred pages long." Basch smiled, flicking the crisp paper pages through his fingers.
"No. You're right. There's more! Basch, you've written on the front and back of every single page. It's a novel length report done within an afternoon, which most of His Majesty's scholars can't write in months! How do you remember so much? How can you expect myself or even Garner and the others to remember this? What about the king? He can't be expected to remember every single word!"
"I remember everything, Vossler. Every detail is significant, so it was necessary to give an accurate report on all the breeds of fiends and how the recent sandstorms have affected their numbers and hunting patterns. The sandstorms effect everything Vossler, you know this. Are you aware that some of the rare Mandagoras are dying out because their mating practices have been severely reduced by these storms? Also there have been sightings of a new species of Wyrm. People need to know what to expect if they go out into the sands. Nothing can be overlooked."
"There's obsessive and out right crazy, my friend. You are on the borderline, Basch." Vossler smiled and gave his friend a whack on the shoulder.
"I am not perfect."
"And you just hate that you're not…don't you?" Vossler tried not to laugh as eventually Basch nodded in reluctant response. "If it weren't for your unwavering loyalty to the men and your devotion to those you fight alongside with, we would all really hate you."
"I am annoying at times I do realise that Vossler. But I can't always help it."
"So is Garner and Maethon. I can be too. We're all annoying in our ways. Just can you tone down your compulsiveness just a little bit when we go and meet the others in the Sandsea?"
"Are you buying the first round?" Basch smirked getting up from the chair.
Vossler sighed and nodded.
"I shall try my best."
There was no point in arguing with Basch. He was (almost) always right.
Princess Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca.
Upon her fifth birthday, Basch became her protector at the request of the King. No one could "tame" this last remaining heir to the throne, that was until Raminas thought Basch would be a positive influence.
So Basch's routine became hers, or rather some of it did. The first day with this new title, he turned up at her chambers and woke her at six in the morning.
"Who gets up at six in the morning?" screamed the tired five year old, throwing a pillow at him in the hope that he would leave. "No one does!"
Basch caught the pillow and gently put it on the dresser chair next to the little girl's bed. He looked around the room and felt extremely discomforted with the state it was in. He badly wanted to tidy up, but it wasn't his place to.
"Actually, Princess, a lot of the palace staff are up at this time. The soldiers, your servants, everyone in your service are up whilst you still sleep. Perhaps being early in rising will give you a different perspective on the way this palace operates."
"I don't have to know how it operates, just that it does! I am a princess, I can do whatever I wish. You, however, cannot barge into my chambers and tell me what to do! Leave now before I have Renee throw you out on my order! My father shall be hearing of your rude intrusion!"
Very big words for a five year old.
"As you wish."
He never moved and nor did Ashe's maid come and remove him. He stood there, staring at her and it provoked her to stare back. It was a game, a game of patience and tolerance, one that Basch knew he would win because the princess was not a patient person. Sure enough, she got so infuriated with his stoicism and ran back to her bed, where she had a tantrum beneath her sheets. After a while, Ashe tried to go back to sleep, but his presence was preventing her from doing so. Eventually, she flung the sheets off and stormed angrily up to him. She poked her finger on his leg.
"This is treason! You disobeyed my order and had the cheek to tell me what to do. At six am in the morning! No princess in Dalmasca should ever be up this early!"
"You might change your mind, princess." he calmly responded. He received a stunned and confused look from the girl before she placed her hands on her hips and defiantly glared at him.
"I very much doubt it!" her voice wavered a little. Her conviction was still tainted with confusion as to what this knight was trying to do.
"You might be surprised." said Basch. "In fact, I think you will be very surprised with what you can accomplish."
In that instant, the fatigued angry little girl looked up at the young knight and actually considered listening to what he had to say. She gazed deeply into his eyes and eventually she nodded her head.
"I can accomplish something? You mean for my people, for Dalmasca?"
"Of course, Highness."
"I like the sound of that. It is still too early, but just this once, I shall give it a try. Sir Ronsenberg…tell me what I can accomplish for my people at six in the morning?"
The twenty two year old bowed obediently and then smiled.
"Why don't you start doing something for yourself?"
"For me?" Ashe's face lit up with a joyous grin. "What? Get a new dress? Go Chocobo riding?"
"How about tidying your room?"
The kick he received to both his shins was a clear sign that she did not like that idea.
Ashe greatly detested how after she had kicked him, he still managed to get her to do it. His deep toned words manipulated her and he got her to actually agree that a tidy room was a safe room. She believed him and so Ashe did the one task all her servants were used to doing.
Everyone was impressed, especially when Ashe began to wake up at six am on her own.
It was a difficult relationship to begin with, the princess was wild and appeared to be untameable, she always had been, but with Basch she mellowed.
Ashe may have become more at ease with him as her protector, but that didn't stop Ashe from hating his compulsive need to have everything the way he wanted. His quirks, habits and mannerisms were soon so predictable, she could tell the time of day just by seeing what Basch did.
He was that meticulous.
She loathed the fact that he liked making order out of chaos, tidying, cleaning and most of all she hated it when he made her do the same.
Yet she couldn't hate him out right. In fact, she took to teasing her favourite knight and her favourite he did become. Vossler, Garner and the others were nice enough, but they were not as intriguing as Basch.
When Basch came to escort her to her lessons or to take her to see her father, Ashe was never ready on time and that tardiness irritated him and made her laugh. She did everything she could to wind up her protector.
In the Chocobo stables, she would watch him gather the greens for the birds into a nice tidy pile, but when Basch's back was turned, she would spread them all over the pens, which in turn caused the birds to cause havoc in their attempts to get some food. Though when it came to his weapons, Ashe had stayed away from them. Until now.
"If I moved these two daggers over here and those axes over there…would you be terribly upset?"
"Princess, please do not touch them. They are where they have to be."
"It is their place."
"Can't they go somewhere else?"
"It is their place."
"If I was stuck in one place all the time, I would be extremely bored. Wouldn't you?"
"They're weapons, highness. Not hume beings."
"Can I just move them a little bit? I'll put them back."
"No, princess. They are dangerous and you should not be anywhere near them. The fact that you are here is because your father was not impressed with either one of us. He told us to be in his audience at precisely 5pm…if you had been ready, we would not have been ejected from the room."
"Daddy was cross."
"Yes. It was supposed to be an important time for both you and he, but you would insist on being indecisive with what clothes to wear."
Ashe smiled. She knew what her father wanted to say, but she was not interested in meeting this prince from Nabradia. It was much more fun to watch Basch's face get all flustered by being late.
"What about the swords? Don't you think it would be better if you had the longest swords on the right and the shortest on the left? I can rearrange them for you!"
"I would prefer it if you didn't."
"It's all right. I won't damage them."
Ashe reached out and took two of the smallest swords and tried to drag them to the other side of the room. Instead she dropped them because they were so heavy and the swords clattered against the others, knocking them off their hinges. Basch cried out and rushed over to the rack, only to watch speechless as the toppling blades dropped like dominoes.
The look of horror and upset on his face made her laugh. It was priceless to see him so worked up. His hands were shaking and he looked to be actually having an anxiety attack.
"What have you done?" he gasped, looking at the clutter of swords that had fallen on the floor. Ashe grinned, held her hands behind her back and lightly scuffed her feet against the stone floor.
"Sorry, Basch." she said, not meaning it one bit. "I didn't mean to."
Her teasing worked well at first, so well that Basch had come close to tearing his hair out and quitting. However, it didn't last long because Basch eventually cottoned on to what she was doing and took to calmly putting things right in the princess' wake.
Such games went on for years, but as Ashe grew and matured into a lady, their pranks became more subtle and less obvious, making a way for a friendship that everyone else simply couldn't fathom.
Then the war came.
In the prison it was a different routine, but routine all the same.
When the morning came (when?) the door to his cell opened and a large bout of light spilled into the room, jolting Basch up from his uncomfortable sleep on the cold hard ground. The light hurt his eyes but after a few moments of adjustment, he was able to see a bowl of putrid water and a plate of mouldy something being shoved inside.
"Enjoy your meal, Kingslayer." mocked the guard. The man was clearly disgusted with the smell that stank out the cell, yet he couldn't help but smile at the feeble wretch scrambling like an animal on the ground. "It was specially made for you, we all chipped in."
In other words numerous people had spat over the "food."
The door slammed shut and he was plunged back into darkness. He could hear them laughing but he was so hungry, so he ate what he could in the hope that his stomach wouldn't bring it back up again. He wasn't able to see what the food was and being covered with gross foulness that he had produced, made meal times a hell, just like everything else.
It felt like hours had passed when the guards came to retrieve him.
They dragged him down the corridor, the same one every day, past the cells of the other prisoners and Basch heard their strong hateful jeers. They spat on him from behind their more "luxurious" bars, the guards kicked and punched him as he tried to wrench himself away from this abuse, but they were relentless. The haul was long, the stone floor cut against his flesh and the strain on his arms reached to almost breaking point but it ended when Basch was thrown into another cold cell.
Here was he doused again and again with freezing cold water to rid him of his shit and foulness. It was the one thing he actually looked forward to in this hell, it washed him, made him feel just a little bit better, yet that brief feeling of goodness didn't last long.
After the "wash" the guards dragged him down more corridors to the cage. He was shackled to the bars the same way every day; his left hand first, then his right, then they fixed the harness on his weakened shoulders and chained his feet to the floor of the cage. He was given another cold water shower just minutes before his cage began the long agonizing ascent to the top.
The first time he was put in that cage, the first time he came out of the pit, Basch was greeted by the man whom he thought had died in Landis. Noah was standing there in an Archadian Judge uniform. A devil, a menacing demon, but so real and alive.
Basch hoped that what he was seeing was just a dream, but his twin's presence was a shocking blow of reality.
"Hello, Basch. How have you been?"
"I've been doing well. A lot has chanced since you abandoned me and left me for dead back in Landis. You…you haven't changed at all."
"Noah, what is going on? Why are you here, dressed like that?"
"What's going on? This is payback, big brother. That's all. You're getting what is owed to you."
Every day his brother was there. Questioning him, talking to him. A lot of resentment and hatred spilled from his twin's lips and it choked Basch up with gut wrenching guilt. He had thought Noah died with his parents, but he never realised that he had left Noah behind, he didn't know that Noah had been tracking him, desperately trying to find him. Basch didn't even know that Noah had been eventually picked up by Archadian forces.
Basch had let his brother be taken.
Noah, or Gabranth as he was now called, spoke to him of everything, what he had done, how he had now become a Judge under the rule of the same people who killed their family. He went into meticulous detail just for his brother and it hurt Basch with every word. It was agony to hear and see what his brother had become, but that was nothing compared to what he said only a few days later.
"I have just been informed of an unfortunate happenstance, Basch." Gabranth took off his helm and approached the cage, smiling coldly. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but Her Royal Highness, Princess Ashelia B'Nargin Dalmasca is dead. She has taken her own life, for the grief of losing her father, of being betrayed by a trusted knight was too much for her to bare."
"NO!" Basch wrenched his arm painfully during his struggle. There was a snap in his shoulder as it was dislocated from its socket. He screamed through the pain. "I don't believe you! I won't!"
"Believe me, brother. Look into my eyes and know that I am telling the truth. Your precious, sweet unattainable princess is gone. Which is probably for the best."
"I won't believe you." Basch hoarsely replied. "She can't be dead. Dalmasca is…"
"Lost without her, just as you are. So now, all you have to do is rot in here and wallow in the guilt of your actions. You killed the king, you killed dear wonderful Ashelia and you killed me, brother. All of this, is your fault."
Noah turned and walked away.
Everyday Basch was sent to see his brother. Gabranth would talk to him, recollect on their childhood, give progress on the war and how Dalmasca was falling apart. Gabranth said everything he could to make Basch feel worse.
Sometimes Basch replied but most of the time he remained quiet with his head hung low. Hearing Noah's voice weakened and saddened him more than anything, but day after day for two years he endured it all.
Once Gabranth was finished talking with him, it was always time for the Ring.
Instead of being sent back down into the depth of hell, Basch was taken from his cage and given a couple of weak potions and elixirs to prepare him for the challenges.
Basch was taken to the Ring, a pit where the prisoners of Nalbina fought to the death. Basch was allowed some rest whilst other men fought, but when he was shoved into the centre of the blood stained arena, only the really skilled in combat stood against him.
He was given a weapon and made to fight and every time he came out victorious. How he was able to do so in the ever thinning state was in, he didn't know. Basch didn't even know how they let him live especially when he left his opponents on the brink of death instead of finishing them off.
After a few hours of fighting, he was shoved in the stone room again and given some refreshment before he was hauled back to his cell. Once there, that was where he stayed for the rest of the day and night until it all started again.
Nothing changed about that routine. The men he fought in the ring differed, the insults from the other prisoners changed but weren't ever original, but day after day he had to endure it all.
The first time in his life, Basch was grateful when his routine was broken. It wasn't done because of him, but it was gladly accepted when hope to restore Dalmasca was given to him by a Viera, a Pirate and a young man called Vaan.
She was alive. Hearing such news after two years of hell and torture was a weight off his weary bony shoulders. His heart felt like it could beat again, all of him welcomed her back. He accepted the slap, the anger and detest she gave to him. To see the young heir to the throne, alive, gave Basch new life. He knew he had a second chance to do what was right. For her, for Dalmasca.
Basch adopted a new routine on their journey across Ivalice, completely centring around Ashe. Nothing else mattered except to keep her safe, alive and well, to restore their country.
When they stayed at an inn or hotel in the towns and cities, Basch never booked a room for himself. Instead he stood guard outside the princess' room, ever vigilant.
He did hourly checks on her, opening the door just a little and making sure she was sleeping comfortably; he checked in on the others, though not as much, and he never rest until his body gave out beneath him.
"Is he asleep?" asked Vaan, gently prodding Basch's slumped form with his foot.
"He must be exhausted." said Penelo, quickly but quietly rushing to her room. She returned a moment later with a blanket and put it lightly over his legs.
"I don't blame him. He hasn't been sleeping well since we sprung him from Nalbina." said Vaan scratching the back of his head. "He's pushing himself too much."
"He's doing it for Ashe though. He needs to help her and Dalmasca. We need him too."
"What we need to do is let him have his sleep."
"Will you check on him?" asked Penelo pleadingly. "He won't like it if we just let him sleep, because he'll be worried about the princess."
"I'll keep an eye on them both, Pen. Don't you worry. You concentrate on getting some sleep, yourself."
"Thanks, Vaan. Basch will greatly appreciate it."
"Yeah…I know he will."
If the travelling companions were out in the middle of nowhere, away from civilization, Basch always insisted that he took two watches during the night. The first and last.
He scouted the perimeter of their camp in the most efficient way possible, on the look out for fiends or hostile soldiers. He kept the fire stoked and there was always some warm and cooled water for the princess if she ever woke during his watch.
Whilst everyone else slept, Basch polished and sharpened their weapons. He made sure that every piece of their armoury was in pristine condition; anything broken or frayed, including the armour and footwear, Basch repaired as much as he could. He then checked the supplies of all their bags and made a list of what was needed or running out. Basch organized the camp so everything could be reached quickly in an emergency; and he made sure there was nothing that would hinder them if they needed to speedily disperse their camp.
Vaan and Penelo always kept leaving their shoes directly outside their tent. He moved them aside so they wouldn't trip, but every night was the same. The teens left most things in a mess and were normally the ones who wasted time in the morning trying to get everything packed up.
"Basch…could you not do that thing where you move our stuff around?" asked Vaan one day as he upended his tent in a frantic motion to look for something. He didn't care about the mess he was making or the irritable almost panicky expressions the ex-knight was making. "I can't find my boots!"
"I can't find my extra stash of potions!" said Penelo as she then began to rummage through Vaan's mess and making it even more messy. "I brought them specially for our next mark!"
"Basch? I know you moved my boots! Where are they?"
"STOP!" Basch rose from the campfire quicker than lightening and rushed over to the teens' tent, not knowing that Balthier and Ashe were grinning in amusement at his frantic state. "Stop making that mess. Penelo…your potions are now in my bag."
"Why are they in your bag? Do you think I'm not strong enough to carry all the potions by myself?" asked Penelo, placing her hands on her hips and huffing deeply. She was supposed to show how insulted she was, but she couldn't prevent the smile twitching at her mouth.
"I think you are more than capable." Basch said, noting that Ashe, Fran and Penelo all had the same teasing expressions on their faces.
"Trying to be a gentleman again, Captain?" asked Ashe, passing Balthier his breakfast.
The sky pirate tutted and pulled his handkerchief from his shirtsleeve to use as a napkin. He tucked it into the neck of his shirt and then delicately began to eat.
"He's not a leading man, princess." he said, as Basch began to gasp and fret even more at Vaan's mess. "He's a follower."
"He is more of a gentleman than you." Fran muttered, sniffing at the contents of her bowl and scowling.
"Your words hurt me, my dear." Balthier chuckled causing Fran to shake her head. The tall ethereal Viera turned to Ashe, who was watching Basch's increasing anxiety.
"He is a follower as Balthier says, highness." Fran's soft sensual voice whispered. "But he doesn't blindly follow any one. He will follow you wherever you go, because he is devoted to you. You mean a lot to him."
Ashe lightly bobbed her head and poured the Viera some herbal tea.
There was a loud clutter as Vaan tipped up his sleeping bag and all kinds of knick-knacks toppled out on the ground. Ashe saw the knight almost collapse to his knees. In that moment, when she heard the screeching grind of Basch's teeth, Ashe almost rose to her feet to go over and help calm him.
But it had gone too far.
"Vaan! Stop!" Basch was now on his knees and was trying to clean up after the teen. "Put those things down. Just…please! Stop!"
"I can't find my boots!" said Vaan. Basch got back up to his feet and pointed to the two black boots sitting neatly by the entrance to the tent. The boots that had been there all the time. The ones Basch had put there himself. "Ah. Right. Thanks. I'll tidy up now. Sorry big guy, didn't mean to freak you out."
"That is…" Basch breathed deeply, trying to centre himself, but every time he looked at the chaos Vaan and Penelo had caused it made his fingers twitch nervously. "Fine. It's fine. Please clear this up."
"Basch, are you okay?" asked Penelo patting his arm. "Did you want to help us tidy up?"
He did, he really really did, but he couldn't move. The horror of the mess had paralysed him to the spot. Penelo walked up to him and lightly rattled her pack. She opened her rucksack and lightly nudged the comatose man with her elbow.
"So what's your organizing system?" she asked. "How did you pack my potions more efficiently?"
Ashe smiled. Penelo was trying to help calm the knight by asking him about his methods. Methods that he sometimes enjoyed telling people about. The princess had used the same tactic on him when she was growing up and sure enough, Basch's stuttering breaths became normal once again.
"Penelo, I merely arranged the potions in order of their best before dates." he said, peering into the bag with her. He pointed with his finger at the bottles as he explained. "You have the older potions that should be used first in battle."
"You've measured the exact amounts in each bottle." Penelo smiled. "Haven't you?"
"Yes. I have. It came in great use for determining where to arrange them. Opening new potions all the time isn't productive, Penelo. Finish one, then start the next. I have placed the near empty ones at the top and fuller ones on the bottom."
"Thank you." Penelo patted his arm and then gave him a squeeze. "You're so adorably compulsive and obsessive, aren't you, Basch? That's so sweet!"
"It's not supposed to be sweet, Penelo."
"I think it is. And I'm not the only one." The girl laughed and then waved her hand, signalling Basch to help her and Vaan tidy up.
"Someone else thinks my obsessive compulsiveness is sweet?" he asked.
Penelo nodded but said nothing more.
When someone else took over the watch in the night, Basch made constant wide sweeps of the surrounding area with that person. He checked upon Ashelia, sometimes more than was really necessary, before settling down into his own tent.
Balthier who normally took the second watch would often get impatient for Basch's constant need to clarify things were okay.
"Go to sleep already!" The pirate complained. "Or do you want me to cast a sleep spell on you?"
"I do not need magics to help me sleep."
"Then leave the licenses alone. We're all up to date and they don't need alphabetising!"
"Is the princess all right?"
"Basch. She is fine, you've looked in on her more than six times in the past two and a half hours. If it wasn't your "job" to protect her little Royal-ness, or if you never had this whole past situation with her, I would say you're being creepy. Go to sleep Basch, before I decide to shoot you."
"You wouldn't do that."
"Okay I might sock you one to your jaw in a manly way. Will that help?"
"I will probably hit you back."
"Up for a spar, good Sir Knight?"
"No. I'm tired. Perhaps another time."
"Good! Go to sleep then!"
"I'll just check on Ashelia before-!"
The gun cocked and Basch saw the gleaming silver of the gun barrel pointing in his direction.
"You will see that she is okay?"
Balthier nodded and so at last after two and a half hours, Basch finally went into his tent. The sky pirate sighed and shook his head.
He had met some characters in his pirating "career", but none of them were quite as fascinating or intriguing as Basch Fon Ronsenberg. He was a good man, but he really could learn to relax a little more.
In his tent, Basch washed his face with some of the water he brought along and brushed his teeth. He kept his sandals on, but took off his shirt, folding it perfectly and putting it down on top of his packs. He then made sure that all his belongings, his weapons were lain straight on his left side, and were in easy reach.
If Basch was able to sleep until Penelo came along to shake his tent and poke at his feet, it was a good night, but that hardly ever happened. Prison had seen to that.
He woke often in cold sweats and the fear that still churned inside him made it virtually impossible to get back to sleep. So when Basch was wrenched from his restless sleep like this, he scrambled from his bag and checked the surroundings and (of course) on Ashe if she wasn't on watch. Whoever was, would have the extremely difficult task of getting him back into his own tent.
When it was his last shift, he stoked the fire, boiled the water, listened and watched for fiends, and assured himself of Ashe's health and safety and of course, everyone else's too. Then he would meticulously take his belongs out of his tent and take it down. The tent was rolled perfectly back into its bag and placed in a standing position by his pack. He'd make breakfast from the food which was available, and when it was time, he woke Ashe first, then Fran, Balthier, Penelo and Vaan.
Whilst they ate, he would dismantle all the other tents and pack, or in some cases repack, their rucksacks. They watched him, they joked and made comments and he laughed back with them. It didn't matter where they were, he did everything to keep himself busy, to not think of the prison cell, but to keep them all going to help Ashelia.
It was all for her.
Then everything was for him.
The promise to Noah had changed Basch. Seeing his brother finally come to his senses was a huge lifting relief and he was pleased that Noah had found his conscience and tried to do right for Larsa. But the forgiveness wasn't easy, nor was leaving the princess to uphold his brother's dying wish. It was difficult, it was so damned hard to put on the uniform, to say goodbye to her, but the greater good of Ivalice outweighed his own wants.
He assumed the role of Gabranth after his brother died and upon doing so Basch found his old habits, along with new ones coming together.
Every morning he was woken by a knock on the door and a servant woman brought in some water. She would then leave whilst Basch got up, stripped himself off and washed. His childhood routine of cleaning himself came back quickly and it felt so good.
Though after being in prison for two years, he could never stop having these constant washes. Most of the time, it was just habit, but every so often he would feel dirty, the memories of Nalbina would send him into a frenzy and he had to scrub off the filth that he still felt covered him, almost to the point that his skin became red raw.
The first morning as Judge Magister of the 9th Beureau, Basch was going through his routine as per normal, everything was fine. Until the servant woman came back with the second bowl of water. He was still washing his naked body with the flannels, when she did. The woman screamed when he screamed and knocked over the basin in attempt to cover himself.
"Magister! What on Ivalice is the matter?" cried the young woman as Basch tried to tidy up the mess he made and hide his naked form. "What can I do to help?"
"Don't you knock?" he stammered, using the towels to desperately mop up the water rather than cover himself. He eventually thought it was a stupid thing he'd done and then slopped one wet towel across his waist. The servant was grinning.
"Not especially. You told us not to bother this early in the morning."
"But I'm washing."
"Beggin' pardon , Magister…but you do this every morning."
"Seen you naked lots of times. You never were bothered by my presence. Even let me help you out with your things…y'know when your shoulder was dislocated a while back?"
"Ah." Basch stood and nervously shuffled to the long drapes by his window. He curled the drapes around himself and repeatedly looked with anxiety between the water on the floor and the beautiful female servant who was grinning from ear to ear.
"In the future now….please knock."
"As you wish, Judge Magister."
She never did.
Afterwards, Basch had to learn how to cope with being naked in front of the her and a few other ladies who saw to his needs. Noah had never objected to them seeing him this way and Basch had it on good authority that they helped him out in other areas as well.
He eventually made changes to whatever Gabranth had his "servants" do for him. First one being that he wasn't interested in the "services" they tried to offer and he didn't care whether it made them suspicious. Basch stripped his own bed, not them. He polished and laid out his armour and helm the way he wanted to. He did everything he could, by himself.
The horned devil helm HAD to be straight on the wooden mannequin when he wasn't using it, and sometimes it took ages for it stay in that position. Basch remembered it had taken him two hours to try to keep it still, but it was all worth it.
He made his own bed and dressed just like he did with his old Dalmascan armour. The Judge's many layers took longer, but Basch didn't mind in the slightest. The more layers, the more he enjoyed the process.
After he was dressed, the rest of his day was spent assisting Larsa, doing endless paper work for the 9th Beureau, having meetings with the other Judges and making alterations to some of Noah's unfinished projects. But Larsa was his main concern.
It was different seeing to the growth of a young man instead of Ashe. Larsa was very accepting to his protector's strange compulsiveness and picking on details. Larsa was beyond fascinated by the way Basch slowly adjusted each individual item on his desk, alphabetized and categorized his reports with fierce scrutiny and even with the way he kept trying to straighten the curtain blinds made the Emperor grin.
"You are worse than your brother." said Larsa, softly. Basch turned away from the curtain, a little tense that the bottom corner of the blind refused to uncurl and he smiled lightly back in return. If anyone else had said that, it would have hurt him, like a knife or dagger ripping his chest open. To be reminded of Noah, of their similarities, hurt, but coming from Larsa, it was different.
The intent was never meant or perceived as hurtful or snide.
"The curtain is fine, my friend." said Larsa. "I need to talk to you about…"
A large box of thick heavy files were placed in front of him on his desk, cutting him off.
"Everything is there, sire." Basch said. "Everything going back sixty years. The water treatments, funding, fiend reports from Sochen and the housing projects. There's also the reports on the renovation of the orphanages."
"Oh…you've even colour coded them. I like it." Larsa heaved one of the coloured files out of the box and because it was so heavy, it dropped from his hands and landed on his desk with a huge boom. Larsa had jumped back in shock, but also in sheer surprise at how big just one of Basch's research "files" were. He flicked it open and browsed through with ever increasing surprise.
"They're in order of priority." said Basch patting the box with the others.
"And you've done little pie charts, too." Larsa ran a finger over one the diagrams on the pages. "Nothing has been left out, though I do wonder where you get the time to be so detailed."
"Time is all I have, sir."
"And you're spending it doing this? Basch, I know you are doing everything you can to help me. I appreciate it more than you could ever know, but your well being is affected."
"My well being is not of consequence, my lord. Yours is."
"And the citizens of Archadia?"
"The citizens of Ivalice."
"Your concern is over everyone? Which includes a certain ruler of Dalmasca?"
"You leaving her was good for her well being?"
Basch cleared his throat. The boy was extremely perceptive.
"Can you see that I also highlighted the key points I think you'll be interested in?"
Larsa smiled. It was impossible to miss the streaks of blue ink covering most of Basch's hand writing.
"Just the key points?" Larsa chuckled lightly. There was being accurate and then there was overkill. But having Noah as his guardian for a few years made him understand.
The little emperor knew everything all too well.
In fact, as the months and years went by, Larsa picked up on his guardian's habits as well.
Archadia kept Basch's mind and body busy, Larsa's growth as emperor and as a man was his focus. Basch relented on nothing.
Unfortunately, such engrossment in helping Larsa, made him forget the one thing in his life that made him truly happy. The feelings that had been stirring within him ever since he had seen her alive on the deck of the Leviathan.
Five am in the morning, Basch Fon Ronsenberg was awake.
So, just like every time before, he rose to get up.
Unfortunately he couldn't.
"You are not thinking of getting up and leaving are you?" asked the soft groaning voice in the bed beside him. Gentle warm hands stroked across his bare chest as two teasing feet slipped up and down his legs, toeing the sweat drenched hairs, tickling him, enticing him.
But forty years of routine, of compulsive habits screamed at him to get up. His upper torso rose from the bed, but he was slammed back down and then covered with a squirming slippery naked body.
"You are not going anywhere."
"I have to get up." he protested, looking to where the two bowls of water should have been waiting for him. He felt anxious, why hadn't the water arrived? He couldn't wash and if he couldn't wash, he couldn't strip his bed, get dressed or do anything. The rest of his day would be ruined.
"Did you just hear me, Basch? You are not going anywhere."
"I have to get up! Please…let me."
"I don't want to let you get up."
"I have to!"
"You cannot. You promised."
He was beginning to shake, his hands were twitching and his mind was ever focused on where the water should be.
"Sshh…my knight." Ashelia whispered into Basch's ear as she took up his shaking hands and placed them on her thighs. She motioned them in slow circles over her skin and then rested his palms on her bottom. His hands were still shaking. "Basch…you're with me. You promised that you would stay with me now, is it so difficult to do?"
Basch tore his gaze away from his wash stand and looked directly into the pair of most astonishing grey eyes. He smiled and when she threaded her fingers through his long greying hair, he shook his head. He pulled his hand off from her bottom and curled his arm around her waist pulling her to him.
"It is difficult, aye."
"Then why don't we try something different?" asked the young Queen, smiling.
He didn't understand. In fact, he was still reeling from the events that lead them to this moment.
The welcoming dinner had been surprisingly intimate, just himself and the Queen and not with others as he had thought it would be. It had taken an order from Larsa to make Basch at last return to Dalmasca. Seeing now a woman, a ruler with grace and startling beauty, Basch couldn't believe that he had been so foolish as to have left her.
Ashe was not a child any more. She was Queen and she ruled her country with strength and great compassion, but when they met again, he saw in her eyes how much she had missed him.
The years difference was nothing as they ate and talked, their conversations were light and humorous at first. She even teased him as he straightened all the cutlery on the table with shaking hands. But as the wine became plentiful, lowering both of their inhibitions, the truth came out.
Confessions were made and it became extremely awkward, for both of them.
Basch made the choice to end the evening in a respectable manner. He excused himself from the table and bid Ashelia a good night. However, the supposed dutiful kiss to her hand lead to much more. It led to a promise that, now, he was having difficulty in keeping.
"Something different?" he asked, still fighting against her to get up and carry out his routine.
"I've known you all my life, Basch." Ashelia, stroked his bearded cheek and calmed him slightly with a long gentle kiss to his lips. "I know that you have this adherence to routine and you can't break these habits easily. Being brought up as a soldier, its hard to be anything else."
"It is all I have ever known." Basch murmured into her mouth.
"Then will you allow me to help you change them, just a little bit?"
"I would welcome it…but…"
"No buts, Basch. Close your eyes."
He did so. The urge and need to get up and continue with his daily tasks wasn't diminishing, his body still shook, but then he felt Ashe's body lightly slipping up and down ontop of his. Her hand still stroked at his damp beard whilst her other caressed down his neck, over his shoulder and down his arm.
"Start from the beginning." she whispered, her breath warming against his ear. "It is six am. You don't have to get up."
"I have to wash…I have to get dressed and be on time for breakfast. Then I have chores and duties to attend to…."
Basch felt her finger press against his lips, he felt her hips push into his aching groin and then gently grind against his swelling hardness. He groaned.
"You don't have to worry about breakfast." Ashe softly replied. "Today, your chores are going to be done by someone else. You have something new."
Basch felt her slide off him and the bed creaked as she slumped down beside him. Ashe kept a hold on his hand and squeezed it as it and the rest of him still shook.
"Its six am. Turn to me. Look at me."
Basch did as he was told and upon opening his eyes, his gaze locked with hers.
She was so beautiful.
"Now, you're going to kiss me. Kiss me as if you were going to wake me up, and kiss me like you mean it."
He did. He moved his whole body over to her, stroked a lock of her hair away from her face and planted his mouth over hers. He meant the kiss with every inch of his being and when Ashe responded back with equal desire, his arms eagerly coiled round her and squeezed. Her arms responded as well, sliding up his scarred back and clenching into his long hair. It was so intense. He was overwhelmed, just like last night, by the sensation of her, the taste and heat of her. His body was aching for her and so he began to roll and position himself on top of Ashe.
None of them knew how long that kiss was, but they didn't want it to end. Yet end it did, when Ashe pulled sharply on his hair, jerking his head back.
"Now say good morning to me." she said, teasing him with a sly smile.
"Now say good morning to me." she repeated, softening her hold on his hair.
"Good morning, Ashelia."
"Touch me." Ashe's voice begged with gasping breaths. "Touch me and let me know that waking me up is going to lead to something amazing."
Basch smiled and lightly stroked her cheek.
"I know what you are trying to do, My Lady.." Basch traced his hands from her face down her neck and across her shoulders, before planting another kiss on her lips. "You're trying to distract me."
"Is it working?" she smooched into his mouth, trying (and failing) not to smirk again.
"I think it may well be..."
"May well be? That will not do." Ashe turned her head away from his kissing lips and breathed hard and wanting into his ear. The tips of her teeth scraped against his earlobe. "Touch me. Love me…Basch. Show me that this isn't just…"
"This is never just. Not with you." his rough growling voice heaved desperately into her neck. The movement of his chin, the stroke of his beard bristles against her skin made her moan and she let out a sigh that finally made him forget all the things he had become so accustomed to.
Inside him, the need and compulsion to adhere to the routines of his life disappeared as his Queen, the woman he loved encompassed him completely. She was the reason he felt so alive as he pushed himself within her; she was his life and feeling her, seeing her convulse with pleasure as he slowly began to thrust with his hips, made Basch forget everything else.
There was only Ashelia Dalmasca….his princess, his Queen. The woman who held every ounce of his devotion and love. He didn't need to fall prey to the habits that had ruled his life, for she ruled him now. He was completely hers and Basch would never let anything take her away from him.
"Basch!" Her name called for him, she cried and moaned for him. She wanted him and he would give her everything. "BASCH!"
Time lost all meaning. The desire to get up and wash was gone, replaced by the want to kiss every inch of her sweating sweltering skin. He grazed his mouth over her chest, lapping the sweat pooling between her breasts, he sucked and bit at her neck, resulting in euphoric wails from her throat. Basch felt all her pleasure. He felt her exploding release just before his own. The uncontrollable shaking of her body, the clenching of her around him sapped all the strength he had left before collapsing on top of her, trying to catch his breath.
"You can wake me up like this every morning, if you stay." her own breathless gasping voice whispered lovingly in his ear. "Stay with me, Basch. Please?"
To wake up like this every day? Basch murmured a deep moaning "Aye" into the crook of her neck and felt her response, her hands threading through his drenched hair and a loving kiss to his heaving chest.
He would stay.
Nothing else mattered at all. Not their age difference, not their stature or their pasts. There was only now and the future.
He loved her, he had from the moment he saw her alive on that ship. The moment her hand slapped across his face. He had loved her for being alive, because it meant that he was too.
"I will never leave you."
Those whispered words made Ashe finally relax into his embrace. She kissed him again, on his collar bone, his chest and neck, before they both finally fell asleep in each others arms.
Ashelia woke, unsure of what time of the day it was, but she woke with a smile. He was still next to her, his arm around her shoulders protecting her, holding her curled body tightly to his. She stroked at his chest and lifted her head to gently press her lips against his nipple.
"Good morning." she said, looking up into Basch's smiling face.
"Good afternoon." he corrected, proudly. Ashe's eyes widened in surprise and she nodded, clearly impressed.
"You managed to stay in bed with me that long? That's wonderful, Basch."
"You being here made it easier to remain."
"Do you feel better for doing so?"
"Do you have to even ask that question?"
She shook her head. It was all so clear upon his face. There was no remorse, anxiety or tension. The burdens that he had carried all his life, that had been hidden behind a face of stoicism, had vanished and now through the most beautiful smile she had ever seen, Ashe knew that it was gone.
Basch was content and truly happy for the first time in forty years. The young Queen crawled up his torso and then gave him a blissful long loving kiss. He responded eagerly, dragging her on top of him, but Ashe felt something.
She pulled away and frowned.
"Is something wrong?" he asked. Ashe noticed the slight hint of worry in his voice and it wasn't because she broke the kiss. She gazed into his glazed blue eyes and saw that he was indeed hiding something.
Ashe slipped off him and sat bolt up right in bed. She surveyed her chambers and it didn't take long to figure out what he had done.
Of course he couldn't remain in bed all this time with her. Just one night together, one day breaking away from years of learnt habits wasn't going to be forgotten that easily.
"You've tidied my room. Haven't you?" she chuckled.
"I couldn't help myself."
"I have servants that do this, my love."
"Servants who are all up before six am in the morning, Majesty. Servants who could not come in here and disturb their sovereign whilst she sleeps." Basch sat up and nestled Ashe into his lap. He nuzzled again at her neck, giving Ashe that excited warm jolt that shot down her spine.
"But you didn't have to." Ashe curled her hand up and round the back of his neck to play with the long strands of his hair.
"Yes, Ashelia. I did."
"You did a very good job."
Ashe couldn't help but laugh hysterically when she felt her lover, her knight release a heavy long sigh. His head dropped on her shoulder and his mouth moved as he uttered
He hadn't changed.
Nor did she ever want him to.