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Basch fic!

pre-game Basch-centric fic. Yes, I've found my FFXII woobie.

The East End’s marketplace was abuzz with activity during midday. Basch wound through the throngs of people, making his way to the armor shop. He had a set of lightweight mail he was hoping to pick up; the repairs had been minor and he hadn’t wanted to bother the already busy palace smith. He’d never had any of his things sent to the shops for repair, but a soldier in his regiment assured him that their work was of the highest quality. He hadn’t had any time to take his mail in himself, but the same soldier had offered to drop it off on his day of leave on his way out of the city. He gave a brief hello to the worker that greeted customers at the door and walked in, his eyes quickly adjusting to the lower indoor lights.

The interior was dark, the familiar smells of leather and metal comforting. He saw that the proprietor was busy with several customers, so he spent some time browsing the glass cases displaying different pieces of protective wear. His eyes caught on a finely woven shirt, magick all but pulsing around it from the elaborately embroidered sigils on the cuffs and hem. He didn’t have any use for mystical armor, preferring the military issue style instead. The added charms on the shirt were a plus for the wearer to be sure, but heavy metal plates and chain mail deflected blades and projectiles better, in his opinion.

“May I help you?” he heard a soft voice near his side ask. Turning, he came face-to-face with a woman in her late twenties dressed in work clothes. She wasn’t a striking beauty by any court standards, but Basch thought she was the prettiest woman he’d ever laid eyes on.

“I was admiring the craftsmanship on this shirt,” he told her, trying to come up with something to say. The lighting from the case spilled over the two of them, illuminating her face and making Basch immediately reconsider his previous thoughts. Her dark hair may have been set in a simple braid down her back, but her fair skin, high cheekbones and gray eyes framed with thick lashes were lovely to behold.

She reached out and traced her fingers along the glass, her nails short. He caught sight of a bandage on her index finger and what looked to be a scar along her knuckles. “It is a nice piece, isn’t it? I’m afraid that if you were interested in purchasing, we’re sold out at the moment. If you’d like a custom order, it could be ready in a month’s time.”

“Actually,” he said, clearing his throat. When had he become so dry-mouthed? “I’m here to inquire about a repair job I had dropped off for me two weeks ago.” He watched as she mentally ran through the list of work orders in her head.

“Was it a small repair? Several broken links in a coat of mail?”

“It was.” At the tilt of her chin, followed her behind the employees only pass-through to the rear rooms. These rooms were equipped with large windows, letting in a vast amount of natural light in comparison to the mostly lantern-lit main area. Spinning wheels and looms were set up in one room, another taken over with dressmaker forms that had leather or metal armor in various stages of completion draped over them. She led him to a third room where a young boy around the age of eight or nine sat near a window, a polishing rag in one hand and a shield braced on his lap. He took one questioning look at Bash before recognition hit him. At Basch’s acknowledging nod, the boy squeaked and then suddenly became very interested in buffing the shield to a mirror shine.

“I’m sorry that it took so long to mend,” she said, picking up the familiar metallic mesh shirt out of a carefully labeled closet full of different types of neatly folded material. “We’ve been backlogged for a while.”

“It’s quite all right,” he told her, accepting the piece. “I can’t even see where the damage had been done; the work is excellent.” A spear point had wound up breaking several links on the shirt during practice drills, and truthfully he couldn’t tell that there had been anything wrong to begin with.

“We aim to please,” she said, a faint pink tint coloring the highest portion of her cheeks. “The lining was torn in several areas, so I took the liberty of mending it after my brother repaired the broken portions of mail.”

Basch looked at the barely noticeable needlework and knew then who had crafted the shirt displayed out front. “Shall I pay the gentleman in front then?”

“Oh no, I can handle the payment. Father’s probably still busy with the metal dealers.”

Ah, then she was the merchant’s daughter. It was odd, because he would have never paired the two together; the shorter, red-faced, balding bear of a man did not bear any familial resemblance to the woman in front of him save for their dark hair. “Then how much do I owe you?” he asked, reaching for his money bag.

“Three hundred gil.” He had expected to pay twice that amount. He’d seen brand new pieces out in front selling for four times the amount she quoted.

The boy at the window must have thought that as well, seeing as he sat up straighter and spoke for the first time. “Gwen!”

She shook her head. “Shouldn’t you be seeing to the inventory, Toby?”

The boy chewed on his lip and looked worried. “But, Father will be displeased. He’ll…”

“Father will not be upset if he doesn’t know, now will he?” she asked, giving Toby a pointed look. Glancing back at Basch, she gave him a shy smile. “It’s the least I can do, seeing that the repairs should have been finished last week.”

He shook his head. “Your work deserves more than that.”

“Please, I insist.”

Basch thought it over before putting the correct amount of gil into the palm of her hand. “Then I insist on buying something else in addition to the repair work.” Honestly, he didn’t have any need for armor, seeing that the army provided him everything he required. Gwen seemed to come to that same conclusion, waving her hand as she tucked the money into a pocket of her apron.

“Perhaps a repair job in the future instead?” She tilted her head, her braid spilling over her shoulder.

“Perhaps.” He gave her a faint smile that she returned. In the better light, he saw she had a light dusting of sun-caused freckles across her exposed shoulders.

“Then I hope to see you again.” The faint pink dusting her cheekbones darkened as she realized how personal her statement came across, but she didn’t correct herself.

“And I you.” It was the truth. He’d never seen her before – or if he had, he’d never actually paid attention – but now that he knew where she worked, and consequently where she lived, for merchants had homes close to their businesses; he was going to make sure he bumped into her often. He bid them both good day and exited the back rooms, leaving the shop with a glance towards Gwen’s father, who was indeed still deep in conversation with other merchants.

Vossler was lounging against the barrack wall when he came back. “Everything go well?” he asked, noting his comrade-in-arms’ noticeably lighter step.

“Quite,” Basch answered, heading into the quarters they shared. Once inside, he contemplated his own gear, unfortunately finding it in excellent condition, before heading for Vossler’s bunk.

Basch picked up a shield. The arm strap was slightly loose, but it wouldn’t take much to get it to break. Perhaps a couple of good tugs would do the trick, for a deliberate swipe with a knife would be too obvious. He glanced over at the gauntlets lying on top of the bed. Maybe ‘accidentally’ hitting them with the blunt part of his axe would dent them enough.

“What, may I ask, are you doing?” Vossler finally inquired.

Basch didn’t look up from his friend’s gear. “We take far too good care of our armor,” he muttered darkly, wondering just who else in the garrison would have something he could borrow.

I don't know, there may be more one-shots like this later on.

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