Penelo has been having a night and having it well at Balfonheim’s noisiest and most debauched tavern. She’d worked her way through the last drops of a bottle of Bhujerban madhu, the Rozarrian sherry, and after a cleanse spell, now felt ready to tackle both the Blooming Cactuar tequila—Dalmasca’s own specialty—and the innocuously clear but ominously named Megaflare vodka.
Her troubles might be a couple thousand miles away now, but, even at that great distance, they still weigh down on her. Stupid Vaan. Stupid Ashe. She scowls and knocks back a shot of the tequila. It’s not bad, even though it kicks on the way down.
“Is this seat taken?” Balthier approaches, expression and bearing less leading man and more melancholy.
“Go ahead. I’m just here to drink.” Penelo gestures to the glass of straight up Megaflare. She’s not bothering with the pineapple juice or lime wedge that normally accompanies the liquor. It burns when it goes down, and it’s just perfect for Penelo’s purpose.
Balthier sits down. “That makes two of us. Bartender, a double shot of Ifrit’s Brand, if you will.”
“Sure thing, Kupo.”
They drink together, in a shared sphere of silence in the boisterous tavern, which Penelo thinks is more comforting than drinking alone.
“It’s not fair.” Penelo glares into her cup. “You’ve known this guy since you were both in diapers practically, and your families have been trying to arrange a marriage between you for years. And then pfft,” Penelo waves her hand, “after you go adventuring for a while and things finally start to progress on that front, he decides to up and leave to become the royal lapdog. Not that Ashe doesn't have her charms but—Bartender! Another Megaflare!”
“You’re telling me,” Balthier commiserates. “I found out too late that certain words are unwise to mention to Fran. One of them is marriage. It’s not like anything would have changed. We’d still fly around, and continue our liaison as usual, just with an extra matrimonial bond. We'd both be the leads in our own little happily ever after.”
“What am I supposed to do? I can’t compete with the queen.”
“Don’t ask a Viera to marry you, that’s damn well sure.”
“No, what am I supposed to do, really?”
“Is Vaan really the best fish out there. Given some time and luck, you could probably find someone better—someone who actually knows how to pilot an airship, for one thing. Now a Viera like Fran only comes around once in a life time.”
Penelo nods and wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. “It’s not often that Viera choose to consort with Hume lovers. You'll be hard-pressed to find another.”
Balthier scoffs. “It’s more than that. Fran…Fran was something special.” Balthier knocks back his drink.
“Well, that’s what Vaan was too,” Penelo pouts, “Just someone I could be comfortable with in my own skin. Love is the worst, the way it just up and leaves.” The glass she twirls is unfortunately empty, and she’s not quite ready for another cleanse spell just yet.
“Truer words were never spoken,” Balthier sets the empty glass back on the counter. “Bartender, two more of the Ifrit’s Brand. Give one to the lady. We've a long night ahead of us.”
“Sure thing, Kupo.”
Two glasses of whiskey on the bar later, and Balthier proposes a toast. “To the downfall of love.”
Penelo leans on her free elbow and raises her glass. “Cheers!”