(or, twenty slightly-connected facts about the people who saved the world)
Vaan used to believe
in angels, when he was a kid. He'd run around looking for them,
behind closed doors, above rafters, inside boxes or crates or
shelves. Then, he decided that birds were angels in disguise,
watching over him, guiding maybe, or perhaps just looking. Maybe
they liked the way people act. Maybe the angel-birds wished they
could run instead of fly. He used to believe a lot of dumb things
(and most of them were Reks's fault), but the angel-bird idea is
still his favorite. 2.
2. Penelotries her hardest to think that people turn into angels when they die, and that her mother must be smiling.
3. Balthier does not believe in angels.
4. Once, Vaan got lost in the Ozmone Plain, somehow managing to end up tangled in a Chocobo path. Basch found him dangling out of a tree, and he told them that he'd been outrunning some great big monster, and had had to run up a tree to save his own life.
In reality, he climbed the tree to see what the plains looked like from above, and got caught on the way down.
5. Basch once had a dream where he was falling. All around him was darkness, with little tiny pinpricks of light - stars, or maybe just holes punched in a backdrop - and flashes of color. Blues and greens and yellows and reds. It was the strangest dream he ever had, and he had it the night before he went to war with Prince Rasler.
Later, he asked the Geomancer at Jahara what it meant, out of curiosity. The Geomancer looked up at him and said - It is what you believe it is. A prophecy, he thought. Or perhaps just a falling dream, one where he woke up and found himself only inches above the ground, a real-life nightmare, or maybe just a dream. Maybe just a few pretty stars and some insignificant soldier falling through it. After all, not every fall is scary. Sometimes, it's freedom.
And sometimes, it feels like dying.
The stars never felt so far away as when he saw them in his dream. They were so close he could have touched them, and yet so far off he thought they must be in some other universe.
6. Penelo sometimes stumbles on her dances, and pretends that that's just part of the dance. This applies to her entire life.
7. Balthier's mother sang him lullabies, which, if caught off guard in a particularly nostalgic mood (which was rare), he still sings to himself while traveling. He doesn't remember the words, and the tune is fading away. Fran knows the song, but won't sing it.
She thinks that he should let go of his past before it drags him back.
8. Vaan didn't cry at his parents' funeral.
9. Penelo, however, did.
10. Though Balthier will never, ever admit it, there was something redemptive about the Judge's mask - behind it, he was anonymous. He was just a man who could say or do anything, and it was somehow disconnected with Ffamran Bunansa. A man in a mask was not really human, and so he was free to be a chunk of metal or a cruel hand of the law. He could lay down judgement on the people he hated, and they would never have to know that it was he who did it.
The day he decided to run away was the day he had to condemn a young man who had stolen from someone else, and the condemned looked up and said, voice dripping with acid - you're no different than the rest of them.
And suddenly, being able to hide wasn't enough.
11. Vaan knows that Reks died slowly, in pain and probably terror, but listens to Basch when he says that it was over quickly.
12. Fran plays with machines because no one would ever think that a Viera could possibly be good with them. And she's not, not really, but it's the fact that she does it at all that's special. She doesn't have to be exceptional at machine repair to be, well, exceptional at machine repair. Fran plays with the things that make the Hume world work because, in the wood, everything is known. The trees are from the spirit of the wood. The Viera are children of the spirit. Whoever walks into the forest is known, because the spirit knows it.
It's refreshing, really, to find herself not knowing the answer to something.
Life is made of mysteries, which is why the Viera are a dying breed and Archades will collapse upon itself before the turn of the next century. Knowing everything, she's found, is worse than knowing nothing.
13. Basch used to be afraid of the dark, but two years in a dungeon cured him.
14. Ashe secretly hates Vossler for betraying her when she needed him most, and refuses to forgive him. Somehow, she believes that he can know this, even though he's dead. And more than the betrayal, the fact that he died before she could spit in his face for it stings like fire, or like not-yet-shed tears.
She'd like to hit him, so then she could forgive him.
15. Until he was sixteen, Vaan was terrified of heights. Then, he snuck into one of those huge apartment buildings for the rich Imperials traveling around to see all the little people and went all the way up to the roof. He still considers this the best moment of his life - standing windswept on the roof, watching ant-people run around their daily lives, arms outstretched to the sun, laughing, desert air in his face and blue above him. He still thinks that this must be what angels see when they lean out of whatever heaven exists, a world of small people and big skies and, somewhere thrown in between it all, untouchable dreams.
This is the moment that he decided to become a sky pirate, and to never forget the way the sun felt from so close.
16. The first, last, and only time Fran cried was the day she stepped out of the woods and realized that the outside world was not as beautiful as she'd imagined.
17. Once, Penelo was dancing in Mhuthru Bazaar and someone special showed up, some rich Imperial someone, dressed like a king. He showed up and threw an entire pouch of coins to her the first day. The second day, he was in the front and threw her an even bigger pouch. When Vaan saw the coins and the Imperial standing too close, he looked her straight in the eye and said, "Miss your steps. You don't want him close by."
She thinks that this must be the best advice he's ever given her, because she took it, and before too long, the man was gone, and another dancer on the other side of town was disgraced by some rich Imperial and ended up hanging herself.
No one else made the connection, and Migelo never did figure out why she was so shaky the day after the girl was found dead. Vaan covered for her, though, and she's never felt so grateful to him as she did when he told Migelo that she was kind of sick, and that he would do her work that day.
He never let her pay him back, which might be part of the reason she always watches his back in battle.
18. Fran secretly believes that Jote is the strongest of her sisters.
19. While they were in the Tchita Uplands, Vaan told Ashe about his angel-bird theory. She listened, politely at first, but then with more interest. He explained about guardian angels and wings and freedom and how there's always someone watching out for you. She didn't really believe it, because birds are animals just like Humes are animals, and can't really be angels, if angels even exist. She started watching for birds, though, doves particularly - because doves are her favorite birds, because doves mean peace and goodwill and happiness, because she saw a dove on her wedding day, and if any bird is an angel in disguise watching her, it's a dove.
She smiled at Vaan when he finished explaining his theory, and told him that it must be nice to believe in angels. It must be nice to never feel alone. He said that it never really made the feeling go away, but it did make it hurt a bit less.
When she asked which bird he thought was most likely to be an angel, he said a hummingbird, just because. She's always thought that suited him.
20. Ashe sees a dove in the sky on the day before they confront Vayne on the Bahamut, and waves.
(A/N: I am more than unhappy with this, but I've been wanting to write one of these things forever, and so dammit, I wrote it! Review if you like.)