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the Dangers of Drain Spouts

Fandom: Final Fantasy XII
Title: The Dangers of Drain Spouts
Author/Artist: iceprincessd
Theme(s): #12 gargoyle
Pairing/Characters: Balthier/Ashe
Rating: G
Disclaimer/claimer: Balthier and Ashe do not belong to me. Property of Square Enix.
Summary: “Seriously, I want to know.”

“Where did you get that?” Balthier came up behind Ashe, making her jump.

“One of these days, I’m going to put a bell on you,” she said, picking up the washcloth she had dropped.

“That would take the entire element of surprise out though,” he replied, his eyes glued on her back. There was a nasty looking bruise going from her right shoulder and crisscrossing down to the left side of her hip. “Where did this come from?”

“This morning,” she said, her cheeks pinking despite her best efforts to keep her composure. Balthier frowned, but then realized the mark was the same as the wooden wall panels in the bedroom.

“Oh damn. I’m sorry.” He gingerly ran his index finger over the purplish bruise. Between meetings between the merchant guilds, reconstructing documents to rebuild the city’s funds, and other royal duties, Ashe had all but crawled into bed on her hands and knees, exhausted from the day. This had gone on for well over two weeks, but that morning had been surprisingly light on meetings. She had gone to her chambers for something, found Balthier there – this was unusual because he was usually up and out in the aerodrome for the better portion of the day – and two weeks’ worth of hungry looks and too short stolen moments had finally boiled over into an extremely satisfying encounter. The material of her nightgown hid the fingertip sized marks Balthier knew to be on her hips and the backs of her thighs and he grimaced at the consequences of his overzealous attentions.

“Don’t be,” she said, turning to him with her hairbrush in hand. “I’m not.” She set her brush aside and ran her fingers over his vest. She sighed in pleasure when he stepped closer to her and ran his palms over her arms.

“You have freckles on your shoulders,” he told her, bending his head to kiss the exposed skin. He paused when his lips ran over a slightly raised mark that he hadn’t been aware of before.

“It happened when I was young,” she supplied when he looked at her questioningly. “I can’t remember how old I was; probably eight or nine, but I had a pet chocobo. One day while I was tending to him, I realized he had some sand burrs stuck to his feathers. I pulled harder on them than I should and he let me know.”

“He bit you?”

“Nipped, actually. He was such a sweet thing, but if someone had been pulling at my hair, I would have bit them too.” She undid the clasps at his back, letting the leather vest fall to the floor between their feet. “He was already old by the time I got him and chocobos don’t have a long life span in captivity. He died when I was fourteen.” Next came the buttons on his shirt. “Your turn.”

“I’m afraid I don’t have any interesting chocobo bites to show you.” His hands came up to help her unbutton his shirt. She stood on tiptoe and kissed his chin, her hands smoothing the material away from his chest, her fingers resting at his sides.

“What about this one?” Her nails scraped against a scar that went in an upwards diagonal from his ribs to the right side of his chest.

“Knife fight in Balfonheim. The man who pulled a blade thought I was cheating at cards.” He put a finger to her lips. “And before you ask, no, I was not. It bled something awful and ruined one of my favorite shirts.”

She pushed the shirt off his shoulders, where it fell to the floor behind him. Backing away from the bath to the bedroom, she put a hand to his wrist to lead him to the bed. “And this?” There was a pale white line running from the inside of his wrist to his elbow.

“That one? It isn’t important.” He tried to distract her by attempting to pull her nightgown over her head, but once Ashe set her mind to something, there was little that could keep her from her goal.

“I want to know,” she insisted, keeping a firm grip on the hem of her outfit.

He looked like he wanted to evade the question again, but finally relented. “I was ten. My family home had these odd shaped water spouts on the eaves of the roof.”

“The ones shaped like people?”

“The very same. I’d always wondered just how the water went from the roof to out of their mouths, so one day I decided to see for myself. And of course, I had to conduct my exploration on a rainy day, so I climbed the roof.”

“Oh no.” Ashe suddenly had a mental image of a young Balthier shimmying his way across a tiled roof until he got to the very edge where the gargoyle would have sat. Strangely enough, the young Balthier in her head looked very much like he did now, complete with pointed sideburns and brightly colored jewelry, except that he was missing a front tooth and his hair was mussed.

“Long story short,” Balthier said, yawning as he kicked his shoes off. “I climbed on top of a water spout and watched the flow of water until my curiosity had been satisfied. The only problem was that I had gotten myself stuck. The stone was slippery from the rain and as I tried to back up further onto the roof, I slipped. I scraped my arm against the spout and almost fell.”

“How did you get down?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I just remember going back inside and getting my ears blistered for dripping bloody rainwater on freshly scrubbed floors.”

Ashe shook her head as she climbed into bed with him. “I bet you were a handful when you were a child. Just a mischievous little scamp.”

“And who says that I haven’t grown out of that phase?” he asked, a smirk set firmly on his lips as he pounced on her.

Her laughter was muffled by the sheets he had pulled over both of their heads.


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