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The Clothes Make The Man

Title: Clothes make the man
Fandom: FFXII
Rating: R, just on the safe side.
Characters/Pairings: Balthier/Ashe
Warnings: barely described sex, hence the rating.
Summary: The clothes might make make a man, but what's under them is a lot more interesting.
Note: When everyday drama and general stress related arm flailing strikes, I reach for the fluff. Haven't done anything with these two in a while, it was meant to be a quick 100 word drabble, but blew up to 966 words instead. Inspired by all the lovely drawings of kookyz with Ashe wearing Balthier's shirt.

“This would be much more comfortable,” Balthier interrupted his own complaint with a sharply indrawn breath, “if we were in a bed.”

“Next time you see an inn anywhere, let me know,” Ashe quipped breathlessly, bracing her hands on her thighs. She bit her lip at the press of Balthier’s fingertips on her hips, hard even though the fabric of her skirt protected her skin. Grateful that he was thoughtful enough to make sure the bruises that would surely bloom were hidden, she shifted her position. Balthier’s guttural groan and answering jerk of hips had her closing her eyes tightly. “I did offer to let you be on top.”

“And let your back take the brunt of this? What kind of leading man do you think I am?” He was positive that there was a tree root digging into his right shoulder, but at the moment, he was more preoccupied with sensations elsewhere. Afterwards, he smoothed his hands over her back, his fingers slipping under the material of her top to stroke sweat-dampened skin. Ashe made a move to roll to her side, but his arms tightened around her, making sure that she stayed draped over him, the crown of her head fitting neatly under his chin.

“One that takes advantage of innocent princesses,” she muttered sleepily, her fingers touching the exposed skin of his throat. She felt rather than heard his low chuckle.

“Next time you see one of those anywhere, be sure to let me know, will you?” He frowned when his fingers went through her shirt. Either during their lovemaking or earlier when the two of them had traipsed off from Jahara to take on the Enkelados hunt all by themselves, the back of Ashe’s blouse had gotten torn. Raising his hand for inspection, the bright red that flecked off his fingertips told him it had happened earlier. “You never said that you were hurt,” he accused.

“It wasn’t worth mentioning. A simple cure spell fixed it.”

“Tell that to Basch after he murders me for letting you get harmed. Your clothes are ruined, your Highness.”

She rolled off of him then, sitting up to undo the clasp that kept her top together. Comfortable with the fact that she was now topless in the presence of a man that had seen her in worse states of undress, she examined the damage. “Again, nothing some soap and a needle can’t fix.” She reached out and cupped his cheek with a hand. “You worry overmuch, pirate.”

“One of us has to.” After re-lacing his trousers, he reached behind him and unbuckled his vest. It fell to the grass with a muted thud and he started on the buttons of his shirt. “Wear this until we can see to some repairs.”

“A true gentleman.” She gasped as he rolled, trapping her under him, his bare chest brushing against her breasts.

“As always,” he murmured, his lips ghosting over hers before skimming down the line of her throat. “Now put that on before I decide to remove that scrap of fabric you call a skirt and get you properly naked.” He stood and busied himself with stuffing her blouse and his vest into the one pack they had brought, careful not to crush the Errmonea leaf they had collected as proof of their victory.

“Well, how do I look?” Ashe asked, coming up next to him, her hands still rolling the sleeves up. His shirt was far too large on her, the hem going down past the line of her skirt, making it seem as if it were the only item of clothing she wore.

He couldn’t help himself, not really. “Lovely,” he said, his hands on her waist and his mouth closing down on hers a little harder than usual.

She laughed. “I think someone is biased.” She bent and retrieved her sword belt, buckling it over his shirt.

“And whose fault is that?” He shouldered the pack and picked up his rifle. Flinching, he felt her fingers trail down his shoulder. “Training injury,” he said simply. “Bled worse than it actually was.” He didn’t elaborate further, not wanting to go into detail about how much it had hurt or the way that his armor had crumpled under the mace’s blow had sounded. Ashe, bless her, didn’t press.

“You have tan lines,” she said instead, her fingers moving over the triangular patches on his shoulders where his shirt had exposed his skin to the sun. It was odd to see him half-dressed, seeing that even when they did dally in the comforts of a bed, be it in an inn or the Strahl, he was always the first to dress, never giving her the luxury of memorizing the dips and valleys of lean muscle with anything but her hands. His rings and bangles looked oddly exposed against the fine dusting of light brown hair and pale skin of his arms, accentuating the line of muscle that ran down his forearm all the more. Several scars, some worse than others, marred his chest and ribs, but her eyes were more interested in the twin lines of muscle that arrowed down at his hips and the narrow line of hair that vanished under the waistband of his leather pants.

“Quit that,” he warned playfully, his free hand sifting through her hair. “Else we won’t make it back before nightfall and they’ll have to form a search party.” He gave her another kiss before starting back.

Ashe held the collar of Balthier’s shirt close to her nose, inhaling the spicy scent of his cologne that he never failed to apply, even in the worst of environments. After an appreciative stare at the way his back bunched as he propped his gun again over one shoulder, she followed him back.

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