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Cure for Anxiety

Fandom: Final Fantasy XII
Title: Cure for Anxiety
Author/Artist: iceprincessd
Theme(s): #2 the subconscious; bury
Pairing/Characters: Balthier/Ashe
Rating: G
Disclaimer/claimer: Balthier and Ashe do not belong to me. Property of Square Enix.
Summary: “You’re humming.”



“You’re humming.”

Balthier tilted his head. “I was? I didn’t know.” The chilly atmosphere surrounding their camp deep within the Pharos made the stone he was leaning against slightly damp. He’d picked the third watch, preferring to already be alert before starting out on another day full of false walls and endless stairs. Surprisingly, Ashe had chosen to sit with him instead of taking the first watch like she always did. He guessed that exhaustion had a part to play in her choice, seeing that as soon as they had deemed the area safe to stay, she had gone to sleep almost as soon as her head hit the floor. The waves of monsters they had fought the day before had taken their toll on her; she kept her sword drawn and her fingers tightened on the hilt any time she thought she heard something.

He wouldn’t say it out loud, but he was in the same mindset. His hand twitched on the stock of his rifle at the smallest sound, even if it turned out to just be Vaan snoring.

“You’re doing it again.”

He caught himself mid-bar and stopped. Again, he hadn’t been aware that he had even started to quietly hum. “Does it bother you?”

She shrugged, shifting against the wall to get into a more comfortable position. As close as they were, he could hear her back pop at her movements. “No, not really,” she whispered. “What song is it?”

“I don’t know. What did it sound like?”

She looked at him. “I’m not going to sing.”

“What, do you have an atrocious singing voice that I don’t know about?” His tone was teasing.

“It’s not that.” She bit her lip and in the gloom, Balthier swore she looked nervous.

“Then what is it, Princess?”

“I just don’t like doing something like that in front of other people. It’s too…personal.”

He shifted his leg, bringing his knee up close to his chest. “Would it help if I started a song then?” He winked. “I know several limericks that you won’t hear in any court.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m sure you have quite a repertoire of those.” To his credit, she had lost the uncertain look she had earlier. “Close your eyes.”

He was going to ask her if he did, would she grant him a surprise, but figured that any smart-aleck question would make her call the whole thing off. Even so, he was in for a surprise when he heard her clear her throat and move closer to him, her arm brushing his. She quietly hummed a few bars and Balthier’s breath caught.

“Interesting,” he mused, his voice breaking the spell Ashe had unknowingly put him under.

“Why is that?”

“It’s surprising what the mind remembers, is all. I had a nanny, a governess actually, when I was very young that used to sing that to me whenever I had a nightmare.” He shook his head. “I haven’t thought of her for years.”

Ashe tried to wrap her mind around the thought of a young Balthier in the care of a governess. Understandably, he hadn’t revealed much about his past, but every once and a while when they were alone, he would hand out little tidbits to her. She never knew if it was because he trusted her enough now to share or if they came out of his mouth unbidden, but she was glad that he shared them with her. “Maybe the environment we’re in triggered it,” she offered.

“Maybe.”

She shifted closer, her arm now pressed against his. “I’d say she knew what she was doing. It was…” she paused and searched for a word.

Balthier turned his head. “It was what?”

“Comforting.” He noticed that her hands had left the sword at her side, her fingers linked together in her lap. “At least I thought it was.” She shivered.

“Cold?”

“A little.” Her shoulders stiffened for a second when he looped his arm around them, but she quickly relaxed. “Thank you.”

“Get some rest; I’ll finish the rest of the watch.” He saw her start to protest, but he cut her off. “If I hear anything, you’ll be the first to know.”

“You’re humming,” she said sleepily, her head resting on his shoulder.

“I know.” Because she hadn’t stopped him, he ran his fingers over her arm in a lazy pattern. Her breath was warm against his neck and it soon held a rattle of sleep in it. He rested his cheek against the crown of her head and realized that the anxiety he had felt since they had set up camp for the night had melted away.

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