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Written 11/4/07.

Title: Five Things Balthier Bunansa Wanted To Do But Didn’t
Character/Pairing: Balthier/Ashe, character ensemble
Rating: PG
Summary: There were some things that Balthier wanted to do but were either unable to do so or never got the opportunity.
Note: A bit angsty at the end. This one kind of came out of left field in the fic department. Spoilers for the entire game.


The Garamsythe Waterway was no picnic to go through. The twisting sluices seemed to go on forever and ever with the same unending amount of fiends prowling the dank and dimly lit corridors. Balthier wished that they would find a way out soon; he had blanked his mind to exactly what was in the water that was slowly seeping into his shoes, but it didn’t necessarily mean that he wanted to stay in the ankle deep mess any longer than he absolutely had to.

The thief, no, Vaan, seemed to know his way around though. The boy had a half-drawn map that he had handed over to Fran earlier, not needing it to wind his way through the labyrinth of connecting tunnels and gated dead ends. Luckily the biggest fiends that they had come across so far had been gigantic looking toads. Unfortunately, the damned things tended to jump all over the place, making them hard to target. One of them had hit his chest with the back of its foreleg, leaving a smear of amphibian slime across the front of his vest. He’d sneered, but didn’t say anything as he quickly administered first aid to Vaan. The boy was decent enough with a blade, he noted, though he could use some practice to avoid getting seriously hurt.

“We’re headed towards the East Sluice Control area,” Vaan was telling them, wincing as Balthier pulled a little too snugly on the bandage around his arm. “There’s just a few more turns and we’ll get to a spot that opens up to Lowtown.”

“That will be a relief,” Fran said. She looked down at her shoes, the spiked heels not exactly well suited for slippery surfaces like the algae covered cobblestones they had come across in some areas. Balthier was amazed that his partner hadn’t turned her ankle yet. Then again, Fran was always the more graceful out of the two of them; he figured that she’d come out of this without a single smudge on her person.

They were rounding yet another turn when the sounds of metal clashing against metal met their ears. Balthier instinctively moved forward, his pistol at the ready. He knew the sound of Imperial armor by heart and could count out at least four soldiers somewhere in the path ahead of them.

“Someone’s in trouble,” Vaan whispered, drawing his sword. Oh wonderful, Balthier thought. They were saddled with a do-gooder. If Vaan got into trouble, he would probably drag Fran and himself along into it as well. Seeing that the map he had given Fran earlier was only half-drawn, he was their only way out. Balthier gave Fran a look which she returned before the two of them ran after the boy.

They caught up to him in time to see him shout out to a woman in a much abbreviated skirt on the ledge overhead to jump. Balthier fought the urge to run in front of Vaan and catch the woman in his arms instead – he was the leading man after all; it was his duty, not some street urchin’s, to rescue damsels in distress. She might be wielding a sword, but it was obvious that she wasn’t a match for the four soldiers all on her lonesome. It wouldn’t do if her first impression of him was anything short of stellar.

As it turned out, Balthier managed to make a slightly less than perfect first impression on the woman. Battle won, she had turned to thank him and he instantly knew who she was. He might not have gotten a chance to see her in such close quarters, but he had seen her once before as a boy when he and his father had been traveling through as part of his early education and he never forgot a pretty face, especially one that had made such a lasting impression on him at such a young age. Huh, so Princess Ashelia hadn’t killed herself like everyone had said. Interesting. His thoughts flew to the ramifications of her false suicide and the fact that she was in league with the Resistance. He had heard rumors of the gathering support against the Empire, but had hoped that he could keep out of it. Hopefully he still could.

He did take offence when she lumped him into her accusation of being allied, however temporarily, with a bunch of thieves. He should have corrected her and then called her on her false name, but didn’t. When they had been captured later on, he tried to clamp a hand on the anxiety that had suddenly and unpleasantly stirred in his gut, not for his own welfare, but her hers as she was led away.

He didn’t do a good job of it though, and he was grateful that Vaan had come to and was asking questions before Balthier had started crawling the walls of their desert prison for lack of anything better to do than worry.


“So what is the going rate for rescuing princesses these days?” he casually asked her as they flew towards the Sandsea. They were alone for once in the cockpit, the others deciding to rest while they could further on in the ship.

“Whatever do you mean?” she asked, sitting up straighter in the seat behind and to the right of the pilot’s chair.

“Well, you did demand that I steal you; I was just wondering what you were going to offer to me that would make this trip worthwhile.”

She stood up and stiffly came forward to sit in the seat Fran normally occupied. “So the promise of treasure isn’t enough.”

He shrugged. “Well, it is something, but I’ll have you know that fuel is not cheap.” He leaned forward, obviously crowding her personal space.

She bit her lip. “I guess I’ll have to come up with something else,” she told him, leaning forward.

His lips were just about to touch hers when he felt someone shake his shoulder. Balthier’s eyes snapped open and he looked at Fran, who was leaning over in her customary seat. “What?” he asked almost grumpily, glaring at the dark skies in front of them. They were starting to lighten, and he gauged that the sunrise was about an hour and a half away.

“We should be at our destination within the hour,” Fran told him, ignoring his mood. “You were talking in your sleep again.”

Balthier leaned back in his seat and stretched his arms over his head. “Nothing incriminating, I hope?” Considering the dream he had been rudely woken up– or saved from, depending on how one looked at certain situations – the question wasn’t entirely without merit.

Fran smirked, her fingers flying deftly over the keyboard to her right. “No, but I was tempted to leave you asleep for five more minutes.”

He shook his head, fully awake now. “And here I thought you were supposed to look out for your partners.” He looked behind them, noting that everyone else was taking advantage of the long flight to rest up. Ashe was sitting behind him, her head bent so her chin was touching her shoulder. The gentle rise and fall of her chest told him that she was sound asleep.

Fran didn’t say anything, but the mischievous smirk didn’t leave her face.


He had gotten used to the idea of heading back home. He snorted; he hadn’t thought of Archades as his home for six years. The Strahl was his home; it had been ever since he had first laid eyes on the ship and would always be, no matter what happened in the future. He might have gotten used to the idea of heading back to Archades, but it didn’t necessarily mean that he liked it.

He picked at the stones littering the cave they had decided to rest in before reaching the Phon Coast, sending a few smaller ones skittering away from him. He looked up, noticing that everyone else was either healing someone or on the lookout for more fiends that might head their way. He was the only one that was moodily doing absolutely nothing. He knew that he had been difficult to travel with since the decision had been made and he had tried his best to be a more pleasant traveling companion, but had only been able to manage a silent distance.

He felt something trickle down his temple and absently swiped at it with the back of his hand. He cursed under his breath at the bright crimson stain that now marred his knuckles and the edges of his shirt’s cuffs. He hadn’t even felt the injury or knew when he had received it.

“You’re only going to make it worse,” Ashe said, crouching down next to him. Her fingers were surprisingly gentle as she dabbed the majority of the blood away with a cloth. “Why didn’t you tell me you were hurt?” she asked.

“I didn’t know,” he told her. Honestly, he had been so preoccupied with the chance of confronting his father that he had been walking around in a haze, defending the rest of his party from fiends but never actually being with them one hundred percent. “I’ve been distracted.”

Warmth danced over his temple and the dull headache that had plagued him for hours suddenly went away. “I know,” she commented, her fingers still running through his hair, smoothing the strands behind his ear. It seemed as if she didn’t know that she was doing the action, and he didn’t want to stop her. “Is there anything you want to tell me?”

He looked down, keeping his eyes trained at the spot where her free hand rested on her knee. Her fingers were nicked and dirty, but still deceptively delicate looking. The nail on her second finger was chipped and the one on her index finger was broken all the way to the pink.

Her hand stilled in his hair. He wanted to close his eyes and press his cheek against her palm, to take in the rare moment of comfort that she offered, but didn’t. There were so many things swimming through his mind, he needed time to organize his thoughts before he shared them with her.

“Nothing worth sharing at the moment,” he murmured instead, fluidly standing up, forcing her to move away from him. “Thank you.” He gestured to his temple.

She looked up at him, seemingly puzzled by what had just gone on between the two of them. “You’re welcome.”


As soon as he found out that Bahamut’s glossair rings were malfunctioning, he knew there was a high probability of never seeing Ashe again. He had thought about grabbing her around the waist and kissing her breathless like he had wanted to do ever since he first laid eyes on her in the Garamsythe Waterway, but settled for walking away from her instead. It wouldn’t be fair to her, especially if the odds went against him and he didn’t make it out of there.

“You don’t have to come,” he told Fran as they left the Strahl. He slid his hand over the metal of the loading bay, a farewell without words.

Fran didn’t say anything; she just gave him a look as if to say that she was planning on going even if he hadn’t have asked before quickly walking ahead of him, her hair falling behind her in a snowy white waterfall.

“You should have told her something,” she told him instead, her movements quick and efficient as they tried to repair the damage.

“Such as?” He grunted as he slid a component into place. “A princess like her and a pirate like me, do you really think that would have worked in the end?”

“You would have made it work. I’ve never seen you back away from a challenge before in all the years I’ve known you.” She ducked a bit of flying metal and her ears twitched painfully atop her head at the grinding noises that were all around them. “I don’t know why you decided to start today.”

He gave a harsh laugh in between tightening bolts, but didn't reply any further.

It was when Bahamut was crashing down around their heads and the blood freely running down Fran’s leg was making his grip on her slide precariously that he heard Ashe’s voice over the intercom. You mustn’t die!

He willed his legs to move. There wasn’t any way that they were going to get out of there at this rate, but there had to be a place onboard the giant ship that would protect them. There, at the emergency escape bay. He prayed that there was a ship still docked.

“I won’t,” he said, but he knew that he was out of the intercom speaker’s range and she wouldn’t ever hear his promise.


It was a cowardly thing to do, to send the ring back to her by way of messenger – and Vaan serving as messenger boy, no less – instead of in person. It had been a year since she had seen him, though he had seen her a great many times since then. He was a master at hiding in the shadows, watching as Ashe slowly regained the kingdom that had been taken away from her.

He had debated on giving it back. As silly as it sounded, it was the only physical link that he had to her now. He couldn’t wear it, but he had ran his fingers over the cool metal again and again over the course of the year, wondering just what in the hell he should do. He’d never been at a loss of words or actions before, but then again, he hadn’t ever felt the way that he did before either.

He melted into the lengthening evening shadows and watched as she stood out on her balcony. His mind screamed at him to move forward, to make himself known. She clutched the note he had written close to her chest, her eyes fixed on the skeletal remains of Bahamut as the sun sank behind it.

Balthier turned away and silently walked to the aerodrome, towards his freedom and away from her. If his heart felt heavy at the decision, he ignored it. Out of habit, his hand fumbled into the pocket of his trousers, looking for the smooth metal band that had offered him some amount of comfort before he forced himself to remember that he had given it back to its rightful owner.

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