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Standing Firm on Shaky Ground

Fandom: Final Fantasy XII
Title: Standing Firm on Shaky Ground
Author/Artist: iceprincessd
Theme(s): #22 shadow; flame; footfall; ouch!
Pairing/Characters: Balthier/Ashe
Rating: G
Disclaimer/claimer: Balthier and Ashe do not belong to me. Property of Square Enix.
Summary: “I wish I knew more than basic first aid.”

The skeletons residing in the Lhusu mines were overly fond of casting fire spells, which made running her sword through them all the more satisfying. Ashe turned her head, hoping that by not looking at her burned leg that it wouldn’t hurt as badly as it did.

It didn’t work. She clenched her teeth and muttered a string of curse words instead.

“Honestly, Princess,” Balthier chided, wringing out a cloth. “Such language.”

“You try sitting in my place and see if you can do better,” she growled, hissing when he gently dabbed at her thigh where a blister was already starting to form.

“I’m sorry,” he said in apology. “Times like this I wish I knew more than basic first aid.”

“It’s all right,” she told him, inhaling sharply at another stab of pain. “Thank you for your help.” She tried to summon enough energy to perform a healing spell, but couldn’t. “What I wouldn’t give for an ether right now.”

“Well, you’ll just have to make do with me instead,” Balthier quipped, rummaging through the item packs at his hip. “Fortunately, I’m a resourceful individual. Take this.”

“I thought you said you were out of hi-potions.”

He shrugged. “I was. This one was liberated from Larsa, who carries so many of these things that I’m certain he never even missed it.”

She eyed him critically. “Just how many did you take?” she asked, unstopping the cork and downing the contents. Almost immediately, the pain died to a dull throb.

“Oh, a couple here and a few there. Just in case he got wise to me, I asked Penelo to hold onto them.”

Ashe couldn’t help laughing. “If he did find out, he’d let her keep them as a gift.”

“Exactly.” He ran his index finger over her knee, letting it slide up a few inches to her thigh. “At least it came in handy; your burns look almost healed.”

She looked at him as he carefully wiped dirt and grit from her skin with his handkerchief. His head was bent as he concentrated on his task and for once he wasn’t looking at her as if he had ulterior motives – she knew he could have easily turned the situation into something lewd, aggravating her to no end.

It was when he was being gentle with her that he threw her off balance. She could deal with his flirtatious side easily, it was when he acted nicely for no other reason that she found herself on shaky ground. “Thank you,” she said again.

He looked up from her leg and smiled. “You’re welcome.” He matched her stare for a long while before clearing his throat and standing up. “Shall we make our way back or do you want to continue practicing on these skeletons?”

She took his offered hand and stood, holding on probably longer than she actually needed to. Flexing her leg experimentally, she bent and picked up her sword. “No, let’s keep going. We could use the extra gil more bone fragments can fetch at the market.”

He smirked, reloading his pistol as he fell into step beside her. “As you wish.”

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