Disclaimer: Final Fantasy XII, it's characters and ideas, do not belong to me, not matter how happy it would make me if they did.
Note: Bizarrely, this story started because I associate myself with Fran and I was feeling a little bit dismal one day. This chapter was actually an afterthought when planning out how the story will go overall. I sense that it's going to end up being quite a long story. Odd how that happens, isn't it? I have a few chapters written, but the story has barely even started. Also, I'm not going to post more chapters unless I get reviews. I'm writing this for my own amusement, and I'm only posting it if it's going to be for someone else's entertainment, so tell me if you're reading this thing, okay?
By Wei Jiangling
Chapter 1: Distaste
This is not me.
It was all Ffamran could think as he stared at his judge-outfitted form in the mirror. He failed to understand why his father had thought that this would make him happy. It was true he had been a near exemplary student up until then (with the exception of a few incidents that will not be mentioned, but what young boy doesn't play a few pranks on his fellow students and teachers?), but he had trained as a scholar, not as a judge. He wanted to be out in the world researching and exploring, not stuck in the capital filling who knows what despicable purpose. He frowned at the mirror. In actuality, he had no issue with the judges, but what he did have a problem with was being tied into someone else's service. He had just returned from his third full day of doing nothing but be ordered around by people of higher rank. It was almost intolerably frustrating. Right then and there, he made a decision. He would submit his resignation tomorrow and be done with this horrible job by the end of the week.
Sighing, he removed the infuriating costume and climbed into bed. How had his life ended up getting so out of hand? He sighed a second time, thinking of his father. What had turned the man to such madness? Ever since he began his research on nethecite, he had been nearly impossible to talk to. He was holed up in his laboratory day and night, never giving anyone or anything else a second glance. Ffamran's pleas for more attention had served only to get him a position as a judge at the unusually young age of fifteen. It seemed the man had assumed his son only needed something to keep him busy. It was quite a change from the loving father the boy had once known.
With a slight growl, Ffamran slammed his fist into his pillow. He hated this! He hated being a judge! He hated being ignore by his father! He hated being cooped up in this damned capital city! He smacked his pillow again and again. What did his father want of him, anyway? He had thought he wanted Ffamran to follow in his footsteps, but then he'd gone and made the boy a judge. What on earth was he thinking?
His raged subsiding, he flopped limply back down onto the bed and stared at the wall. What was he to do? He was out of reasonable options. Despite his original interest in it, his father's recent insanity had given him a bit of a distaste for the field of research. He certainly disliked being a judge, and he was even less fond of anything directly involving the military. He had half a mind to run off and become a sky pirate. Had anyone else been in the room, they would have heard a slight chuckle emanating from the vicinity of the pillow. That would irritate his father to no end, he imagined. With a smile on his lips and thoughts of gold a jewels in his head, he drifted off to sleep.
Several months passed and Ffamran went back to his studies. As promised, he had resigned his position as a judge and focused only on a devoted path of learning. In truth, he was far less intrigued by science and histories than one might take him to be, though he generally found them suitably entertaining. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he hoped the dedication would make his father pay attention to him again. Any time he felt disheartened in this pursuit, he abandoned himself to fantasy as his research turned from practical matters to records of valuable treasures and other things of interest to a budding sky pirate. He never gave any serious thought to such information, which was precisely why he found it so relaxing. It was a fun little game he played with himself; a little bit of freedom from a life that demanded so much and gave so little. He feared that without at least some support from his father, no matter how much he studied, he would have trouble securing a decent form of employment. Even then, being holed up in a lab constantly like the renowned Doctor Cidolfus wasn't exactly an appealing prospect. But the scientists' son he was, and a scientist he would most likely become, at least if society had anything to say about it, and one thing everyone in Archades knew was that society would invariably have something to say.
He sighed, unable to concentrate on the book in front of him. He had been doing his best to while away the hours, but evening was fast approaching and he hadn't heard a peep out of his father all day. Had the man truly forgotten it was Ffamran's birthday? He had certainly never missed an important occasion before. The boy was forced to conclude that this was some poor attempt on the part of his father to surprise him, though the possibility seemed less and less likely with every passing minute. Could it be possible that he would actually forget? Ffamran knew his father was distracted and a bit peculiar recently, but he hadn't thought the man was quite that far gone. In that case, then, where was he? Unable to cope with waiting any longer, he went to search for his father in the most obvious place he could think of.
Sure enough, a knock on the door of the lab was met with a familiarly reluctant "Yes?" Ffamran cautiously opened the door, half expecting something to blow up on him (a fear he had held since he had knocked into a certain experiment of his father's as a young boy and barely avoided losing a hand). Nothing seemed particularly dangerous or out of place, though. His father sat at a desk, hunched over a pile of papers, intently examining a jagged chunk of nethecite.
"What do you need?" he mumbled, not even looking up to see who had entered. A surge of anger welled up in Ffamran's chest, but he suppressed it.
"How is your work going? He asked, careful to keep the acid out of his voice.
"Of, Ffamran," Dr. Cid turned toward the boy, his expression becoming ever so slightly softer. Ffamran relaxed almost imperceptibly. At least he knew the coldness of his father's original response to his arrival hadn't been directed at him intentionally. "My work is going well," the scientist continued. "I may not be back tonight, though. There are snacks in the cupboard if you get hungry." Ffamran's face fell.
"So you did forget," he muttered. A look of confusion passed over Cid's face. He peered quizzically at the boy.
"What did I forget?" he inquired gingerly.
"What day is today?" Ffamran responded, his voice taking on a perceptible edge. When his father did not respond immediately, he sharply repeated, "What day is it?"
"Wednesday?" his father replied hesitantly, obviously struggling to come up with even that much information. For Ffamran, that was the last straw.
"What is wrong with you?" he shouted, his hands clenching into fists. "What is so damn important that you've locked yourself away in here and hot given me a second thought for almost a year? What happened to the man who used to ask me how my studies were doing and was always waiting to give me presents on my birthday? Where did he go? I've put up with you ignoring me and never being home, but this is too much!" He paused to catch his breath and restore some semblance of calm. He looked at his father pleadingly. "I just want to know why you're acting like this. Please, just tell me why."
"I…" His father began, obviously taken aback, then paused as something seemed to call his attention away. "Please stay out of this Venat. This is between my son and I." He seemingly addressed the wall. Ffamran's anger faded briefly in favor of confusion.
"Venat?" He repeated, bewildered. There wasn't anything there as far as he could tell. Cid continued, seeming to grow more flustered with each word.
"I, I know, I realize… It's your birthday today, isn't it? I don't have anything for you, I… Please, Venat, be quiet. I'm sorry but… I don't have time for you right now. I'm too busy." Ffamran bristled.
"So that stupid rock is more important than your own son?!" He paused long enough to fix the scientist with a steely glare. "I guess I only thought I had a father." With that, he turned and ran from the room, slamming the door behind him. He couldn't have noticed through his own tears the wetness in his father's eyes, nor the faint whisper that followed his exit.
"I'm so sorry, Ffamran. Happy birthday, my son…"
Note: I've discovered I find Cid an incredibly compelling character. I'm rather sad he probably won't be appearing again in this story.