a k a n t h a e - h i m e
Authoress' Note & Disclaimer: I'm not quite sure what this is supposed to be. In fact, I have little to no idea why I wrote it but it felt right. Now that I don't want to waste all of this work - which replaced the time I should have been using to do homework because I am extremely talented at procrastinating - I feel it should rightly go into a Balthier & Fran category. It's AU because, obviously, they didn't have umbrellas in Ivalice. If they did, then I wouldn't care anyway. I don't own FF XII; and also, Balthier and Fran might seem a bit out of character because it wasn't originally supposed to be them. I just enjoy seeing them together (especially after reading certain ficlets in my Favorites List) so I thought I might as well write something to manifest that. Enjoy, all you Balthier & Fran fans out there.
Even though Balfran does, in fact, sound so much better...Raise your hand and treat yourself to a brownie if you agree.
The light the color of a martyr's blood is fading from her body like it's her soul. He's crying and he's wishing he could die too. In fact, he feels so miserable that he nearly misses that wispy chiming voice when it is wracked with sudden bouts of coughing between words. He can hardly piece together the sentence but he does and it makes him wish he could make the promise she wants him to.
"When I leave," - she says it like she's only going away for a while and will come back at Balthier's beck and call, but diseases aren't quite so forgiving and he even wonders momentarily why she has to die in a place like this, whitewash walls, sanitary silence, and all - "I want you to smile. I want you to smile because it will be hard and because if you do this for me I know that you trust what I can say and what I can do. I will know because you think I am an angel and that is a plausible reason for me to become one...When you die too it'll be painless. The time will come when I shall be doing for a dying man what a live one with the same face did for me."
She whispers something again that he can't quite catch because her voice is too small, too minimum, with so little effect it hardly has any at all. He's jolted out of a million other memories that are jostling inside his head. They are all trying to make him forget what is happening and they both know it is almost working. If his consciousness works hard enough it can make him do anything.
So can she, though, the one with the beautiful eyes made from the purest of garnet hues; with hair the color of silver shooting stars floating like driftwood in the middle of a vast ocean. She's making him make a promise that he knows he will keep even if he doesn't want to. Coming from her, the request to smile because she's dying isn't as unusual as it would be from anyone else he knows. It's so second-nature to promise his mind, body and soul to her that he does so for the last time as if it's nothing at all to him. She finds it a bit disappointing coming from one so dramatic as him but she doesn't have the willpower to ask him to do much more. She doesn't and it's all because those two simple words have finally slipped over that luscious lower lip of his.
It's her fall into ecstasy and an existence as a collection of spectral apparitions at the corner of his tawny eyes.
ii. faux pas
He attends her funeral. He's reluctant to do so but if it means disappointing her own brilliant smile (only in his presence, so unfitting anywhere but still extremely remarkable) by not showing up at her newly dug grave with one of his own he won't miss it for all the wealth in the world. She was his wealth, so to speak, and when riches are lost it is only common sense to mourn that loss; even more so when the treasure he has lost is far more precious than anything else he has ever had in his grubby hands.
His smile is just as precious to her because he rarely truly smiles. Sach time he does she tallies it as if it were a day worth remembering. Most of the smiles she remembers before she died are fake ones just for her sake: smiled for the sake of an angel's sanity, whether it be to profess love, chase illusionary butterflies, or to present the ring she's wearing even in her grave...the one taken from a pretty churl's finger in exchange for services to her husband's adopted country.
It's a misty day. He hasn't bothered to bring an umbrella so he gets strange looks from the more sensible members of the minimal crowd that gathers to remember the only angel that chose to walk the earth with her own two feet and not wings made of lace and mirrors. The mirrors become splintered glass and the lace grows tarnished and moldy. Nothing is left to remember the angel's footsteps but somehow, somewhere, all of that sorrow is condensing, forming, going through an extreme metamorphosis.
The product returns to the people she knew and the people she loved (Jote, Mjrn, Penelo, Vaan) and the people she didn't (Noah, Larsa, Vayne) as rain. It's a torrent full of water and salt and tears, but mostly the latter because each drop is like a crystalline regret.
I never got to kiss you.
I never got to know you the way I wanted to.
I never got to sweep you off your feet.
I never got the chance to see you in all your dazzling glory.
I never got the right idea about what you had to say but it was all still so beautiful.
Everyone's crying now. Shoulders hardly touched by rain are now drenched in another sort of weeping reprieve. The umbrellas are a multitude of colors but he isn't standing under one because he'd rather experience the regret he'd felt with her again than not feel anything at all. If he can't have everything, though, he isn't inclined to try. But he can have everything for this little bit of infinity - an unrealized concept sitting in the back of his head waiting for its first and last entrance - because she is willing to give it to him in the form of rain. What she gives to him he will gladly take because most of it is something he has never had. He will never get the chance to be shown those exotic wonders she can show him...No one can do what she has done, he realizes, and feels at peace.
iii. the cloud sea
The rain is still dripping, falling, coming into contact with parched earth as if after a great drought has swept across a famine-struck land full of hopeless, faithless people. He's not one of them because he likes to think that the rain is cleansing to the soul. It is only needed when oneself bogs one down; and right now, it's one of those times. He needs the rain not only to keep away the spirits lurking at the corners of his eyes now that she's gone but also to hide the tears made up of salt water and passion streaming down his cheeks. Pallour turned grey colors his otherwise colorless complexion and he is shivering and he can no longer feel his body. The self-induced hypothermia actually doesn't feel bad - not in comparison to what he would do to attest to the lengths he would go to bring her back.
The numb feeling is soothing, really, because he can't remember his pain and his eyes are closed and he can see sparks of icy flames on the backs of his eyelids and he is trying to keep on smiling. For himself, really, as though he had never made that promise and never let her stop breathing and never frowned ever.
She knows he can't keep his promise for long. She's watching vigilantly behind clouds spurting acid rain. He doesn't want to disappoint her so he smiles wider like he's insane and doesn't want salvation from this newfound hellhole he's gotten himself trapped in. He can tell she knows that the smile is fake because, contrary to his previous belief, she had always known when he was faking it and when it was genuine. A real smile is far more precious, he remembers her telling him one night when the lamp is switched off and there are candles sprawled throughout a room with dancing shadows adorning whitewash walls.
They send him looks like he is crazy when he points to the sky and yells out indiscernible words that speak of blessings, angels and the color blue.
Rain isn't blue but the sky is and when it rains the sky shatters into a million pieces. Those pieces are being pieced together slowly as the rain fades and the regrets of a million people fall off the shoulders of one man who is still smiling and pretending he can't see the gravestone he is standing in front of.
The words are unmistakable to everyone else.
They say, "For Fran, beloved of husband and so many others."
He knows them to be true and oh-so-heart-wrenching. His smile falters for a moment when he opens murky grey eyes to glance down for a moment (Orpheus looking down upon his dead wife Eurydice); and with that simple action his serenity develops cracks so big his entire life is being held together by only one strand of the rope. It's the only strand left and it's in the hands of someone who is dead and soon-to-be forgotten by everyone but him.
No one can say it hurts more than he can.