We Will Never Speak of This Again

"My head feels three times larger than it ought," Balthier said, clamping palms over eyes. "What was that swill?"

"A kind of beer made in my homeland," Basch growled, sitting up on the edge of the bed, back to Balthier.

"It's a wonder Archades took your homeland at all," the pirate replied. "They should've just handed out free beer to the oncoming armies."

Basch just grunted.

Balthier peered out from behind one hand at the knight. Then he hid his eyes again. "Did you call me 'Vossler' last night?"

"I was drunk!"

"So was I," Balthier said mildly. Then he peered out at the knight's back again. "Clearly." He retreated behind his hands. "Despite that, you didn't hear another man's name from my mouth, did you?"

Basch grunted a negative.

Balthier sat up -- slowly. "I didn't think I was your sort."

"You're not!"

The raising of eyebrows was painful, but not sufficiently to keep Balthier's eyebrows at their accustomed level. "You're going to blame that godsawful beverage again, aren't you?"

Basch grunted, and said, "I wouldn't have thought I was your sort."

"You're not," Balthier said lightly, and his mouth curled to one side when Basch's shoulders twitched. "I prefer the sort that grunts less and speaks in full sentences on a regular basis." He watched Basch yanking his bizarre armored shorts up and regarded the rest of Basch's ensemble, scattered on the chair beyond. "And there's something to say about your sense of style."

"What?" inquired Basch as he pulled on his undervest.

"That it's nonexistent," Balthier replied, seizing his dressing gown from the peg. "Don't worry, I won't try to feed you breakfast."

"Hmph," Basch said, fastening the straps on his overvest-armor-thing.

Balthier stepped toward the narrow bathroom door.

"You won't..." Basch began.

"Oh, like I'd want to ruin my reputation for distinctive taste by mentioning this to anyone?" Balthier said without turning.

Basch's shoulders twitched, unseen this time. He bent and swiftly snatched up his boots and swordbelt. "Right."

"Go down the back stairs," Balthier said. "End of the hall, and turn right. The walk of shame will be shorter and less closely observed that way."

Basch grunted, then said, "Sorry."

Balthier gave a short laugh. "For what? It wasn't wholly disastrous -- and believe me, I've had some disastrous nights -- and I suppose there are worse names you could've called me." He glanced in the mirror and gave himself a particularly sarcastic smile. "Vain, for instance."

Or did he say "Vayne"? wondered Basch as the bathroom door opened and shut. He snorted. After a moment, he was padding down the hall and to the right on silent bare feet.