Word Count: 1,488
Characters: Penelo and Basch. No pairings.
Description: Not very many men cannot last long in the life-sucking activity called "shopping"; especially with a woman. Basch is no exception. The least he can do is give words of wisdom.
"Wait, hold on a second! I want to go in here!"
Basch said nothing, only following a very happy Penelo obediently into a local magicks shop, but inwardly he groaned. This was the third magicks shop they'd been to just to find Curaja, a spell they didn't really need at the moment and a spell Penelo wasn't even close to learning yet; she hadn't even mastered Curaga yet. She had, however, insisted that it never hurt to be prepared, and he'd heartily agreed with her when she had said this. He'd even asked if he could accompany her when the group touched ground in Rabanastre for supplies.
But that had been 3 hours ago. And in that approximate time, they had managed to go through 3 weapons shops, 2 armor stores, 4 potions stalls, the gambit shop (the owner had seemed very adamant about explain ever little detail) and the bazaar where Penelo had spent almost half an hour haggling with a surly Bangaa for a better price on some trinkets she found. These were, of course, supposed to be for battle, and she had handled her bargaining with a tenacity he hadn't known existed in the 17-year-old. ...But they were still trinkets.
"Basch...Basch! Are you paying attention?"
In front of him, Penelo frowned minutely as she held up on magicks crystal in each hand. "Come on, Basch! I'm trying to ask you for advice!"
He cleared his throat and shook his head, as if to get himself in the game. "I'm sorry. What was it you needed help with?"
"Well, I know you told me you're better with weapons and shields, but I wanted a second opinion. The shop keeper I just talked with said he has a Curaja crystal here, which he gave to me, but it's a bit…"
"Yeah," she said with a wince.
"Curaja isn't inexpensive to begin with," Basch continued, taking vague note of the said shop keeper a little ways behind Penelo, who was trying to be inconspicuous with his constant looks in their direction. The man's eyes were practically turning into gil.
"I know, but still," Penelo said, biting her lip. "It could come in handy."
"And the other crystal?" he asked, nudging his head a little in the direction of her right hand.
"This one is a Flare crystal. It's just as expensive, but it could come in real handy when we go into the desert again, or any place with a large amount of enemies."
He looked in between the two crystals: the Curaja, sending specks of white light against Penelo's palms, and the Flare, red flames dancing inside its receptacle. He turned over the problem in his head. Curaja would come in handy even though Penelo would be learning it much later, because Fran was close to mastering it and even if she didn't use it Penelo eventually would. Then again, it would be a while before Penelo could even think of using it; her skills with magicks were still in need of some work. That left Flare, which would come in handy when facing large numbers of enemies at once. Penelo was making faster progress in that sector of magick than in her healing magicks. But then, there was the fact that he could somehow not picture Penelo using something so...destructive quite yet. Nor was he sure she would be able to handle such a power. He furrowed his eyebrows as he tried to come up with an explanation for what he wanted to say, but then something hit him.
"How much is this?" he asked, taking the Curaja crystal out of her hand.
He frowned, turning the crystal over in his hand. "That's too much, even for something like this. Normally merchants charge 11,000 gil for Curaja. Is Flare the same price?"
He took the Flare crystal as well as the Curaja, and placed them back on their respective shelves. "It's no use buying these from here. You're being cheated." Penelo blinked a little in surprise, and Basch lead her toward the door. "I wouldn't trust this shop if I were you."
As they were about to exit, an official-looking man with a simpering smile almost stepped out right in front of them. "Miss Penelo, were you still interested in buying the Curaja we had?"
"Um...no thank you, sir," she said with a polite smile.
"Wait, don't go yet!" the man insisted. "Perhaps I could show you some other –"
"We're not interested. Please excuse us," Basch said plainly, giving the man a very minor glare before he and Penelo kept walking. When they had cleared the shop's vicinity, Basch and Penelo exchanged slightly amused glances before Penelo declared they should get some ice cream.
"I hadn't expected him to just leap out of nowhere like that," Penelo said, eating a bit of her ice cream as she reclined on the bench they (and their shopping) were sharing.
"I also hadn't expected you, the one who haggled for 30 minutes straight in the bazaar, to suddenly become so shy."
Basch hid a quietly triumphant smirk with a bit of his ice cream, and Penelo sat up in indignation. "I didn't want to be rude! Even those kinds of shop keepers still have to work somehow."
"Yes, but perhaps if he were fair he would have more customers," he replied.
"That's true," she conceded, taking another bite of her ice cream cone. "And the glare helped get rid of him," she added, to which he softly chuckled. After a moment of silence, she spoke again. "…Basch?"
"...Do you think I should still search for Curaja, or Flare?"
He sat up a bit. "I mean no offense to you or your skill, but while you are making progress in your magicks, you are far from learning such spells. It is best not to rush such things. I'm sure Fran has told you that."
"Yeah, she has," Penelo said with a guilty smile. "I just wanna learn it all! Every spell there is, I want to learn them! That way, I can help you guys when weapons don't work out."
"If it means anything, Penelo, you are doing a fine job at helping."
Penelo huffed a bit. "People tell me that, but there's always part of me that says I could do better. Kind of like what you told Vaan about sword-fighting. Training and training each day, so you can protect your friends or family, always pushing yourself to do more. That's what I want to do."
He turned to her and smiled a bit. "It's good that you have that feeling. Never let it fade, because it will help you become skilled in what you're learning. But never rush what should be done later. While it is good to prepare, sometimes it is best to remain still and work with what you have."
"So...I should give up on the search for Curaja then?"
"No, I think you should continue your search," Basch said. "But I think you should wait until later for Flare."
He raised an eyebrow in her direction. "Are you ready to wield such a destructive power?"
They both seemed to think about it for a moment. Basch imagined Penelo using Flare, hands raised above her head and eyes ablaze with righteous fury against any enemy who stood in her way. While believable, this prospect was also odd to him. The girl in such an image did not match the same girl who was sitting on the bench near him, eating her ice cream and swinging her legs back and forth of the edge.
"...Now is not the time, I think," Penelo said, bringing Basch back to the present. "Don't get me wrong; I still want to learn Flare. But, maybe you're right about it being too destructive. It's almost terrifying actually. Can you imagine me using something like that at this point?" she asked, laughing, though she had visibly shivered just a moment ago.
He smiled as the bell tolled 7:00 o'clock in the evening. "No, I cannot." And inwardly, he heaved a sigh of relief. Time, he supposed, would take care of anything standing in the way of her learning Flare. Until then, she could still be the way she was now, without the troubles coming ahead and without that burden on her shoulders that all warriors acquire.
"We should get going," Penelo said, standing up after eating the last bit of her ice cream cone. "It's getting late, and I know we've been out here for longer than we planned," she said with an apologetic smile. He nodded, helping her pick up some of the bags of what she had bought, and they made their way to the western part of the city.
As they walked under the archway of the Aerodrome to meet the others, Penelo spoke up one last time.
A/N: Welp, it turns out I'm not dead on this story! My muse just kinda ran off and took my brain with it. Really darling, why must you do this to me?
I know I said I would try to come up with something for Fran and Basch or Ashe and Vaan, but I hit a dead end with both (at least I wrote some stuff for both of them). So I cranked this out instead! I'm actually pleased with how it turned out, but (to my shame) I am posting this on the same day I wrote it. I just wanted to put something up after leaving this thing hanging for so long! Special thanks to Bluebearsg and bunannza for your reviews!
In other news, school starts very soon! For some of you it starts this upcoming week, and for some of you other lucky ducks it starts the week after this upcoming week. You can't make me revert my sleeping schedule back to normal! YOU. CAN'T. MAKE. ME.
Comments are appreciated. Thank you for reading!