Title: No Man is an Island
Theme(s): #18 disheveled; in the rain; thunder
Disclaimer/claimer: Balthier and Ashe do not belong to me. Property of Square Enix.
Summary: “You don’t have to face things alone.”
The Tchita Uplands were beautiful, but treacherous. This was especially true when it rained, the sheets of water pouring down from the heavens so heavy that it cut visibility down drastically, making it even harder to avoid fiends.
They’d camped for the night under the protection of a stone ruin. It didn’t really afford much cover from the rain, but what it did give was enough for the injured members of their party. Penelo was curled up into a tight ball, still recovering from the poison a malboro had blasted at her. She’d cured herself, but was still suffering form intense nausea. Basch slept sitting up, his face showing the pain he had been so careful to mask during the day. While Ashe appreciated his concern for reserving their stock of potions, the gash on his leg courtesy a coeurl needed medical attention. Her energy was down from curing everyone else during the day, but she was gradually healing the wound while he slept.
“You need to rest,” Balthier said quietly, offering her a cup. The rainwater went down smoothly, quenching her parched throat. “I’ll take tonight’s watch.”
She narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m perfectly capable of taking my watch.”
“I didn’t say you weren’t,” he snapped back. He took a deep breath, composing himself. “I meant, you’re about to fall on your feet. Let the pack mules pick up the slack.” Ashe, Penelo, and Basch had fought the most, leaving Vaan, Fran and Balthier to hang back and carry their supplies. Even out of the main path of danger, Fran had still gotten hit with a blinding spell. Balthier hadn’t known until he had seen the dark cast over her eyes and the way her ears had swiveled around to compensate for her lack of vision.
Ashe ran a hand through her hair, her fingers catching on wet tangles. “I’m sorry. Today was trying for everyone.”
“Which is why you should rest. Tomorrow is likely to be even worse.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Not the optimistic type, are you?”
“I prefer realism instead. The way to Archades isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Fiends even worse than we’ve seen here are lying in wait.”
“Why are you doing this?” she asked suddenly. “You have nothing to gain by helping us.”
He looked into the rain, ignoring the fat droplets that struck his face. “We can’t run from certain things forever, Princess. I’ve known that for years, but have only recently accepted it.” He turned his head so he was looking at her again. “Get some rest. I’ll keep watch with Vaan.”
The last thing Ashe saw before sleep took her was a hazy outline of Balthier, lost in his thoughts and looking alone in the rain. She woke several hours later to relieve him and Vaan, glad that the rain had stopped. Rested, Basch’s leg was easily healed without him even waking. Fran took the watch with her, her eyes long since cleared.
Balthier didn’t say anything to her as he walked past, but she saw that his shirt was transparent and stuck wetly to his skin. She waited until he settled down in the empty space she had previously occupied before going to him.
“I am grateful for your help,” she said quietly, taking the blanket around her shoulders off. “And I wanted you to know that even though you’ve decided to stop running, it doesn’t mean that you have to face things alone.” She handed him the blanket, surprised when he covered her hand with his instead. He didn’t say anything; he merely squeezed her hand, the unspoken thanks all that really needed to be said.