Flesh Wound

by llamajoy

A glancing blow to the shoulder, it ought not to have been serious. That the venom of the giant serpent was nothing to be trifled with, they were still learning. Half a day past, the slow bleeding would not stop.

Fran noted it first, in the lag in her partner's step, in the scent of fatigue on him-- but it was Basch who caught Balthier by the elbows when he stumbled.

Ashe was rummaging through their supplies for an antidote; traversing the Ozmone Plains had not been kind to their dwindling stock.

The pirate grasped Basch's wrist, held his eyes. Basch could not fathom the urgency in his face. He had seen the man suffer more, with less complaint.

"No need, Princess," he said, and again there was the edge of intensity about him. He wiggled his fingers unconvincingly. "I'm practically healed already."

She did not see him wince. She simply dropped the pouch with a small sigh. "Just as well, I admit. We will need to restock ere long." And she resumed wiping the sticky serpent must from her own blade.

"Your wound needs looking after," Basch said quietly, unwilling to drop the matter. To Balthier's continued silence, he tried a different tack: "You're ruining your shirt, going on like this."

That prompted a reaction, the tiniest of rueful laughs. "I do have more," Balthier said, but his eyes were guarded. "Fran will tell you. Dozens."

"Not Ashe, then." Basch wondered if he understood Balthier's hesitation. "Let Fran."

Perhaps he might have protested again, but his balance faltered and he swore. "If I must," he allowed. Under his breath, he complained bitterly to lose his vest, but Fran's nails clicked pearl buttons open, one by one. Basch thought, she has done this before, and he held his tongue.

Deftly she tugged at the lacings of his shirt, baring his throat and wounded shoulder. In truth the wound was not deep, but his shirt was a lamentable mess. Fran spoke words of magic to his skin, stilling the flow of poison, returning his flesh to its healthy color.

Basch did not note these things, however; his eyes were drawn and snared by the ridge of pale scarring along Balthier's shoulder. To an untrained eye, it might mean little. But Basch well knew the line and pressure-point calluses left by a certain sort of armor, and he found himself surprised.

Reading the comprehension in Basch's face, Balthier grimaced. "That I am Archadian is no secret, surely, for any fool with ears--"

"But not so common knowledge, the title you left behind." Basch nodded. "The princess trusts you. I do not believe you would be remiss, to let her know you wore a judicer's plate. Your current occupation vouches you've no love for the Empire at present."

Balthier hissed at the sting of healing magic on sundered skin, but beneath it there was a self-effacing smile. "Ever the optimist, I see. I may yet try Her Highness' compassion-- but not today."


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