Pairing: Basch/Balthier with bits of Noah/Balth
A/N: Uh, I have no excuse for this. None.
This was the place. It had to be the place. The faded numbers on the rusty, dilapidated mailbox told him he was right, and certainly, there weren't any other residences close by to confuse.
But... was this really the home of Noah fon Ronsenburg's twin brother? Everything about Noah always spoke of a clean, affluent, high-class upbringing, but what stood in front of him... it couldn't be. Because Noah wouldn't poke a trailer with a ten-foot stick. And this was a trailer.
It was propped up from the ground with cinderblocks, and had a spreading vine of creeping roses clinging to one side, so it clearly wasn't going anywhere. Faded blue curtains hung at the small windows, and a string of laundry was just visible around the corner in the backyard.
Balthier Bunansa bit the edge of his lip and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with the tip of his middle finger, by force of habit. He chewed on the cap of his pen, and sighed. All right. He had to have the right place, the directions were quite clear. There was no helping it. Basch fon Ronsenburg did, in fact, live in a trailer... and he, Balthier, was here to interview him. He was journalist, and he wasn't going to let his surroundings surprise him out of the best story of his life.
He stepped over the foot-high, slanted picket fence, and crossed the overgrown lawn. As he reached a few crumbling stone steps, he paused - the tips of his brows twitched, and he frowned - no, he wasn't hearing things. There was a guitar playing somewhere in the background, meandering in the barren stillness that only the middle of nowhere could have. Balthier unexpectedly felt his throat tighten as his hand gripped the doorknob, and as he pushed the door open, he heard a voice join the delicate daubs of music.
It was easy to hear the resemblance. Their voices weren't exactly alike - Noah's was technically very good, and he trained hard to put it through what his music required of it. But this voice was richer, darker, like spun velvet in a pale violet, to match the fading light of the song and the sky. Everywhere I look, I turn, it seems that you are there.
Balthier's lips quirked as he followed the voice through a foyer that looked utterly disused, and out into a wide living space - and was startled to see the entire back of the trailer wide open to the western sky, warm with light as the sun was beginning to sink.
The furniture and wide, woven blankets that decorated the room spilled out into the dry, scrubby grass. Among them was a beat-up old tan couch, the stuffing peeking out through the worn corduroy; and seated on this couch, feet planted on the ground, leaning over his guitar, was a man.
Balthier couldn't see the resemblance at all, at first. Noah's hair was cut with a razor precision, he dressed immaculately and tastefully, and shaved with an obsession most women reserved for their exes. Basch, however, clearly paid much less attention to his appearance, as his golden yellow hair was getting past his shoulders, and fuzzy blond stubble ran rampant over his thin jaw. Balthier stepped closer and frowned, hands clamped tightly around his precious spiral notebook. He didn't want to disturb the music, but he didn't like being ignored, either.
Everyone I meet, I learn that they can not compare.
Basch looked up suddenly, and his rough hands stilled on the guitar strings. He hadn't been expecting the sudden addition - and it wasn't a voice he recognized.
"I'm sorry." Balthier flipped his pen around in his fingers. "I didn't mean to interrupt."
"I see," Basch spoke into the silence, raising an eyebrow. "You weren't interrupting anything." He curled a hand around his guitar and looked around, then gestured to a matching armchair at a right angle to his couch. "Considering that you just walked through my house, I hope you don't mind me asking for your name."
Balthier took a seat and crossed his legs, then pushed the glasses up again. "My name is Balthier Bunansa, and..." he hesitated, suddenly not quite sure what he was going to say.
Basch plucked a broken minor chord, then modulated up slightly, as if in question. "...And you obviously came here for a reason." He didn't seem to notice the other's discomfort, and he was patient, if unsmiling.
"...Yes." He suddenly snapped out of his reverie, and back to the business he'd arrived for. "You're Basch fon Ronsenburg, aren't you?"
The eyebrow raised once more. "...Yes." There was a heavy, guarded implication in that syllable; a warning.
"Then are you Noah fon Ronsenburg's brother?"
Basch turned his head to look down at his guitar, and any idiot could see that he was far more comfortable with his instrument than another person - much less a person that asked probing questions. "I can't really deny it, can I."
"No, not after I've heard you sing." Balthier's lips quirked in that half-smile of his, and he sat back in his chair. "You don't sound very much alike, but the resemblance is there."
"We're not identical." Basch's callused fingers twitched, and he touched his strings in the pattern of chords. He'd really just wanted to play, tonight, but it was rude when he had a guest. "No one's supposed to know about that."
"That you're not identical, or that you exist at all?" Balthier arched an eyebrow. "Spare me, I know all the gossip. I've started most of it myself. All I'm looking for is the truth."
"The truth." Basch snorted softly and shook his head; he didn't believe that for an instant. "You're a reporter. That's what you all say."
"Do they? I wouldn't know and I don't much care." He leaned forward, putting his weight on his elbows. "I won't deny that I'm a journalist. But if you think the only thing I care about is a juicy scandal, you're a far cry off the mark. I suppose you could say that I'm... the counterweight, the balancing force against the tide of frivolous music industry lies." He smiled a cat's smile, full of knives and superiority.
"I'd have to be a lot less intelligent than I am to believe that," Basch growled, and he looked up to meet Balthier's eyes with a hard stare. It was a look that belied his words, a look that wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Balthier's smile melted into a perfect mask of geniality. "You'll learn. I've no doubt about that."
When he didn't offer any further questions, Basch finally asked, "What are you here for, then?"
"Right now?" Balthier shifted in his seat. "Actually, I was... rather liking that song you were just playing."
"Oh?" Basch's eyebrows went up. He wanted to believe this - stranger, who walked in his house without so much as by-your-leave, who barged into his music and dredged up a past he wanted to forget, yes, all those things. But Basch had a singular fallacy of a trusting heart, and anyone with a passion for music was a friend of his. "...It's not done," he muttered quietly.
"I gathered," Balthier replied with an utterly complacent smirk. "You know, when you didn't have more than a first line."
"I'm getting there," the blond bit back.
"Sometime this century?"
"Soon." Basch glared, but he didn't have enough anger in him to sustain it for long. He sighed. "That second line. You thought it off the top of your head?"
"Yes?" Balthier balked slightly, he couldn't tell what Basch was thinking.
"...It's good." In another man, there would have been sullenness, or jealousy, but there was nothing here but appreciation for a job well done.
"Er." The brunette blinked, and pushed his glasses up. "I just built on what you had. It was nothing, really."
Basch's pointed chin came to rest on the wood of his guitar. "The tune's been in my head for weeks. I'm not a word person. Your estimation of my finishing time was... more accurate than I'd like to admit."
Balthier swallowed down the slick innuendo that had automatically risen on his tongue, guessing that it might not be in such good taste, given his current company. "Well, you said you had the tune, that's half the work right there. Go on, play a little, I'll see what comes to mind." He blinked, as if the words had surprised him. "...If that's all right with you."
And for the first time that evening, Basch smiled - it was a warm, inviting smile that brought light to his eyes, and Balthier felt his heart doing little funny wiggly things that were utterly unprofessional. "Of course it's all right," he murmured, like the concept had never even occurred to him.
His fingers took up the running line again, dancing over the strings and pulling beauty from a box of wood and plastic. He sang the first line again, and the second one, that Balthier had come up with. The journalist across the way turned to a fresh page in his notebook and scribbled what they had already, poised his hand to write more, but it left a dribble of ink at the cross of pink and blue lines, for his attention was swept away by the beauty of the melody.
The sky was full to bursting with the dust of stars, and the band of the Milky Way was easy to see, this far away from civilization. Basch had lit some of those yard torch things, and they drank wine and sang and talked of music until Balthier couldn't remember what he'd come here for, because the only page in his notebook that mattered was the spotted, messy, much-revised scrawl of lyrics entitled - in the side margin, as an afterthought - The Truth Is.
Everywhere I look, I turn, it seems that you are there.
Everyone I meet, I learn that they cannot compare.
Everything I see, I do, I touch, I think of you,
Every little thing in life, it leaves me so confused.
Oh, everything was so, so clear before we tore apart
Now all my passion's trapped inside
This lonely broken heart
So if you ask, if you must know
I'll tell you, here's the truth
If you ask, if you must know
I wouldn't lie to you
If you ask, if you must know
I'll tell you, here's the truth
Do I love you? Love you, still?
The truth is...
Noah fon Ronsenburg was seventeen years old. Noah fon Ronsenburg got straight As in everything. Noah fon Ronsenburg had the voice of an angel. Noah fon Ronsenburg was about to miss his afternoon classes, because his boyfriend was smiling at him, and if there was anything Balthier was good at doing, it was smiling.
If the word 'official' implied public knowledge, then no, Noah and Balthier were not officially dating. They had been not-officially-dating for five months now, and they were very good about the not-officially part. Not even Noah's mother, who had the eyes of a hawk and the nose of a bloodhound, suspected that 'band practice' in the Ronsenburg garage more often involved a meeting of lips than a meeting of notes. Of course, when the other members of their straggly little band were there, they kept their distance. But Balthier and Noah were the founders and the leaders of The Judicary, and when they'd finally capitulated to mutual affection, that privileged position left them more than enough space to conduct their illicit passion.
Balthier loved music. Noah thought, at first, that he'd only wanted to start a rock band to fit the pattern of his teenage rebellion. They were only classmates, after all - lab partners, sharing a table in physics and making tiny engines with copper wire.
"I want to start a band," Balthier had said, lounging with one hip against the high black counter and watching the circle of wire spin.
"That's nice," Noah said, one eyebrow cocked. "I don't care."
"You should care, you're going to be a part of it."
Noah gave him a long, disbelieving look. "...Okay, no."
"Yes." Balthier smirked. "You sing, right? I've heard you, don't try to deny it."
Another long look. "Yes. I sing in choir."
"Exactly." Balthier's bright smile told him all he needed to know - that he had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
"Right." Noah just shook his head, and went back to their lab report.
"My house, this Saturday at noon." Balthier was employing his time-honored strategy of Let Noah Do All the Work. "If you don't show up I'll kidnap you, I know where you live."
Noah sighed. Balthier's refusal to do any work in class whatsoever demonstrated a will of iron that he'd yet to see broken, so he knew the other'd stand by his convictions and plans. He'd show up; and then he'd demonstrate that a choral singer was not the same as a rock band singer. They were completely and utterly different, and once Balthier understood that, he'd give up on including him in whatever stupid thing he planned.
Three weeks later, and the band had a name.
They weren't very good at writing songs, so they played covers, and ate pizza, and Balthier wrote lyrics that he couldn't put a tune to. Noah tried, but he just didn't have enough imagination - that is, any imagination at all, so they played what they knew, or played songs they knew were bad. He could tell that Balthier was bothered by it, a little, but the bottom line was that Balthier loved music, whether it was a five-guitar cacophony or a single voice humming an alleluia. His hands would twitch, and he'd get this little happy grin on his face, completely free of his usual cynicism. It was incredible.
So Noah stayed, and he sung, and the other band members came and went but The Judicary was theirs, and everyone knew that.
Noah fon Ronsenburg was seventeen. His band had just gotten its first real gig, he'd scored in the top ten percent on his SATs, and his boyfriend had a hand down his pants and a tongue in his ear.
Life couldn't get any better than this.