Fandom: Final Fantasy XII
Characters: Fran, Balthier/Penelo
Word Count: 465
Notes: Written for dagas_isa
's 2010 fandom_stocking
It was a quiet, subtle thing. Anyone who didn't know Balthier well would have missed it - no, they wouldn't have looked for it in the first place. Anyone who didn't know him well would never expect subtlety from a man who seemed to live his life on the outside of his skin.
Fran knew him well. Knew him better than he knew himself, most of the time. She knew he was interested in the girl from the moment he dropped her his handkerchief. The bouncing pigtails, the brash determination, the steel look in her eye - Fran knew they were all like catnip to Balthier. He always was a sucker for the underdog.
At first, Fran was worried. It wouldn't have been the first time that she had needed to protect her partner from starry-eyed girls. But as circumstances dictated that they travel and live together, and days turned into weeks, Fran realized that Penelo was in no danger of being taken advantage of. She watched with with curiosity and then outright amusement as the girl very carefully set out to seduce her partner. The air of innocence was precisely calculated, the amount of attention paid was carefully balanced, until Balthier was neatly wrapped around a small, dagger-wielding hand.
Several late-night conversations convinced Fran that she had nothing to worry about. Penelo saw the sky pirate clearly, and had no illusions about what she was getting into. Fran grew to admire the bouncy, determined girl who had a core of steel under that cheerful demeanor. Although she knew Penelo and Balthier would do what they wanted anyway, she nonetheless gave them both her blessing, which seemed to please them.
It was a relationship conducted in glances and brief touches. Only rarely, Fran knew, were they able to slip away and spend any time alone together. Fran amused herself by trying gague how much the other party members knew. Vaan, she knew, was clueless, too wrapped up in his own dream of becoming a sky pirate to see what was going on with those around him. Equally clueless was Ashe, consumed by her drive to retake her throne. Basch might have guessed, but he thought first of Ashe and the rest of them came in a distant second.
No, the one who surprised her was Larsa. One brief shared glance with the young prince told Fran all that she needed to know. Fortunately, he was as amused by the situation as Fran was. So with Fran looking out for her partner and Larsa keeping watch for his adopted big sister, Balthier and Penelo continued merrily on their way, never knowing their backs were watched. Afterall, they were not the only ones who could communicate volumes of meaning in the slightest glance.