16 and half pages of my notebook. That's just how long this first chapter is. Teehee. I got.. inspired. And was suffering from withdrawal symptoms, since it's been a while since I've played FFXII.

Genre: fantasy / shounen-ai / AU Pairing: could be and probably will be Balthier & Vaan.

Warnings: OOC-ness, complicated situations, fast-paced storytelling, boy x boy, cliché.. and stuff like that.

(It's too much to write Balthier's way of talking. He's just... aww.)

Thanks for the beta, Thierry-san!

(I feel so ashamed).

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His throat was burning, legs were aching, but he had to run. There was no way he was going to stop. Those monsters were right behind him, he could feel their nasty breathing tainting his neck. And goddamnit, he was running low on Potions too.
An arrow wheezed past his ear and a woman's voice yelled something from far, far away.
' I'm trying, I'm trying!' He wanted to shout back at her, but not a sound escaped him. He kept running and running and finally stumbled.


He let out a silent yell, cursed in his mind when he hit the ground. The monsters reached him, their legs were long, hairy and utterly disgusting. He would have so gladly thrown a spell at those, but...no. Damn that Silence.

'Hey, get off -' He tried to say without a voice, blindly moving his sword, the world suddenly very black - he felt heart-wrenching pain, that same woman screaming something.
"Oh dear boy," someone whispered

... and he woke up, alarm clock shrieking terrifyingly loudly right next to him. No way in seven hells. That dream. Again. He threw the clock away and groggily stumbled out of the bed. He winced, when he stepped on some book that was carelessly laying on the floor. A hiss, a curse - he accidentally crashed against the door - and few steps later he appeared in the the toilet, yawning.

He stared at himself in the mirror and grinned weakly, showing a flash of white, white teeth. Tan skin, ashen-blond hair that stood to every direction known to man. Blue eyes that looked so, so tired. Or positively just dead. He made a face at himself and sighed, grin disappearing from his face.

Vaan von Rosenburg, orphaned at the age of 8, dear big brother having vanished into thin air after that.

After that, his present PE teacher took him in. That was nine years ago. At that time, he had befriended almost every kid living near him, especially his neighbour Larsa Solidor. Although he had to admit, he was very much creeped out by the the older Solidor, Vayne.

All in all, Vaan had quite a normal life. He had friends, he was doing fine at school, his caretaker was strict but good-hearted. Even though he missed his brother terribly. But yes, he had a very normal life, if you didn't mention his weird dreams about fighting and running and someone screaming all the time. He brushed his hair and put on his clothes, tidying himself up a little for his first day in high school. Yaaaaawn.
"Good morning," he greeted when he walked to the kitchen. Basch von Rosenburg was a well-built man in his thirties. Even though he might appear silent and scary, he had a good side to him that appeared usually in the form of a very dry humour or a small smile. Also if you thought about the fact that he had voluntarily agreed to take care of two orphans. Or one, now.

"Morning, Vaan," he said quietly and finished his morning coffee. Without it, he would be like a zombie. Vaan sat down and wondered if he should tell his dad about his re-occurring dreams, they were bothering him so much.
"Don't fall asleep yet. It's your first official day in high school, aren't you happy?" Basch said in his deep voice, but Vaan could just hear him snickering.

"No dad. I'm not. But at least my friends are the same age and few of them are going to be in the same class," he muttered, eating the last bit of his bread. He stood up and went to brush his teeth, humming a song without knowing what it was. Basch raised his eyebrow and took his car keys, thinking only that it was because Vaan was like that. Air-headed, adventurous with too much imagination. It wasn't the first time he was singing something without noticing it. Sometimes it had occurred some embarrassing situations, which the boy would gladly forget.

Basch waited patiently, snickering in his mind at his memories. He had grown to love his step-son dearly during those years - he, too, was worried and melancholic about Reks' disappearance -, ever since the day he had seen the blank-eyed little boy for the first time. It had indeed been quite a tragic sight, Vaan and Reks' parents murdered in cold blood. Victims of the crazy serial killer, who had been arrested ten victims and fifty days later after that. But the boys had been very scarred, they had touched that said good side of Basch in a way that nothing had ever done.

"Vaan!" Basch said in a louder voice, when the boy took his time.
"Sorry, sorry, I was looking for my sock," Vaan mumbled and wheezed past his stepdad. It was nice to live in a terrace, especially when Basch's salary wasn't the greatest. It would be also nice to live in a big, big house.. yeah, a boy can dream, can't he? The quiet man sighed, knowing exactly what was going on in his son's mind. He didn't say anything, but followed him outside.

The morning was hot, as usual, but there was still a lingering feeling of mist, remnants of the night before. The signals of the autumn to come. Even though Vaan was a deep sleeper and hated early wake-up-calls as every other teenager out there, these kind of silent mornings he did love. Those moments when the whole world was slowly waking up. Vaan stretched out and grinned, waving to Larsa, who was getting into the car with Vayne. The smaller boy waved back and smiled.

Vaan was struck with confusion, when something absolutely weird happened. It made him blink and stare at Larsa's retreating back. For a second, it seemed like there had been a shadow next to him, for a small moment there was an image of Larsa looking very grim with strange, old-fashioned clothes. There was an air of... royalty around him. Vaan blinked again and the image was gone, like it had never even been there.
"Vaan?" Basch's voice floated into his ears and snapped him back out of his trance.
"N-nothing, I'm just tired," he grinned and stepped inside the car.

The ten-minute-ride to the school was silent and comfortable, the back lights of the Solidors' Mercedes blinking far ahead. It didn't take long for the white building to appear to their vision. Galbadian High was a normal, but appreciated school led by the strict, but gentle Ondore. It got its' name from the national flowers, rare, but gloriously red galbadian lilies. They only grew in few places, one of them being around the school. No one dared to touch them and no one even wanted. Too beautiful. Vaan saw them coloring the grass around the school in flaming red and stopped for a second.

He gulped and suddenly felt the loss of his brother Reks much heavier. It was horrible to not know what had happened to him, although it had been years when he had disappeared. Galbadian lilies had been very important to him, his favourite flowers.
"Vaan." Basch's hand on his shoulder felt strong. The blond boy grinned awkwardly.
"I'm okay, dad. Seeing those lilies just triggered a memory o-of Reks..." his voice faded and he scratched his temple.

"Vaaaaaan!" Before he got to continue, something small and blonde tackled him, almost sending him to the ground.
"Penelo, please!" Vaan couldn't help but laugh back at his friend.
"So good to see you again!" The blonde girl said and batted her eyelashes towards Basch, who only shook his head and patted Vaan's back.
"See you around, kid." Two blondes waved and started to walk towards the entrance, chattering happily.

"Your dad's hot. Think we should hook him up with that home economics teacher?" She asked innocently. Vaan burst out laughing.
"No way, dad's so used to being a single, he'll flat out refuse! But the idea is funny, thanks for that. Even though I think know you asked that just for laughs.. you're not the fangirl-ish type... I hope," he said and frowned. Penelo just grinned and nodded.
"Someone needs to take care of you two bachelors, you know. The mighty Penelo's up for that task!" She bounced forward and ran, when Vaan tried to tackle her. That way they moved, earning amused stares from their fellow schoolmates. "Hey Vaan! Penelo!" A yell made them stop suddenly and crash against each other.
"Kytes!" Penelo tackled him too, giggling. Vaan followed and they grouphugged, since they hadn't seen each other for ages.

"Wonderful, wonderful! What's up?" After the necessary chattering, Vaan started to wonder.
"Hey guys... have you seen Larsa anywhere? Did he already go in?" He suddenly remembered and looked at his old friends. Penelo shrugged, but Kytes scratched his head and said:
"I think I saw him going in with that creep-of-a-bro - , I mean you-can-call-me-Vayne Solidor." "Okay, I'll catch up with you guys later. I need to talk to Larsa. Bye!" He grinned and left, leaving Penelo and Kytes behind.

He found his way easily up the few steps and into the crowd of students. There were few familiar faces, exchanged grins and yells and Vaan was gone again. He was a master at that, great at parkouring, acrobatic and it had earned his most famous nickname: street rat. That he was called many times, when he reached the Hall.

Yes, THE Hall.

It was like a very large room that could fit like thousand people - in Vaan's eyes, that is - and was used for ceremonies and other events. Vaan's blue eyes scanned the crowd. Damn Larsa for being so tiny... oh there was Vayne, smiling that creepy as hell smile...and there was mr Jules, probably groping some woman..and that gorgeous, darkskinned lady there with that distinct white hair had to be one of the teachers. Vaan had to admit, she was the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. And... he froze on the spot.

W-who on earth was that?

Tall man was talking with the dark-skinned woman - he barely reached her jaw - and smirking slightly. Vaan could see that he was very handsome, but that was not the reason why he froze so suddenly.

There was something oddly familiar about him.

About the way he brushed his short, light-brown hair with his fingers, one could see the glimmer of rings. The way he nodded from time to time to what the woman was saying, answering too sometimes. Vaan didn't realize he was staring like some idiot at the pair, until someone tugged his sleeve.
"Come on, Vaan, what are you doing?" He followed the amused-looking Larsa to the seats near the front, terribly close to that enticing pair. Vaan stared at his lap and felt his face flush, when Larsa chuckled next to him. The poor blond had never shared with anyone that he felt terribly shy when faced with gorgeous people.
"What are you blushing there about? Those two?" Vaan didn't dare to look, since he knew perfectly well who his friend meant.
"Larsa - !"

"I know, those two are good-looking. Just look around, you aren't the only one who thinks so. In this city gorgeous people get the credit, the looks, the admiration, you know," the smaller boy said and smiled a little. Vaan missed the sadness in his voice.
"Good fortune to get them to guide us. They seem to be good people. At least according to what Vayne told me, he said that - "

"Larsa, please, I don't - "

"- Sure you don't want to hear who they are," his dark-haired companion snickered and went quiet. Vaan gave him a questioning look which made Larsa snort.

"Okay, okay. I know very little so pay attention. They have a long history together, it seems. They have seen lots of things, many countries, places you didn't even know that exist. They are like Lara Croft in two bodies. I wish - - oh hey mr Bunansa, miss Viera!" Larsa babbled on, until he snapped back to reality to wave his hand. Vaan frowned at him, he had not missed the words 'I' and 'wish', but he couldn't wonder that much more, since his mind went elsewhere in a mere second.

Larsa had greeted those two very politely, not at all fazed by the fact, that those two moved closer to them.
"Good morning, young master Solidor. I presume you are in good health today as well as yesterday?"

That voice.

Vaan's poor head was in overload, already forgotten all about his worry over what was troubling Larsa. That voice! His hands twitched in his lap and he felt very weird. He was so sure he had heard that voice somewhere. So painfully familiar, so very, very polite, so glorious it made him feel agony. He didn't look up, scared of what he would see on closer inspection.

"Don't scare them," the woman, miss Viera said quietly. Vaan didn't dare to even move.
"You and your young friends hopefully do not mind us sitting here. It is way too crowded over there for our liking," in the voice of mr. Bunansa a hint of annoyance could be heard. Larsa shook his head.
"No, sir, it's no problem at all." Vaan could have kicked his friend.

You...you...just shut up.

But unfortunately the air-head was a bit too kind to do that, so he ceased all action. Until the moment a hand appeared in his vision.

"May I ask what is your name, my young friend?" Vaan opened his mouth but nothing came out. He didn't understand why he felt so panicked, pressured. Could it be that the mere presence of those two, who had such strange auras, amused eyes, was making him that way? He gulped and grabbed Bunansa's hand. The latter shook it and chuckled in a way that made Vaan's heart almost stop. The man's hand was rougher than his, it squeezed his slender fingers with care and warmth.

"I-I'm Vaan, sir. Vaan von Rosenburg," he mumbled, hating himself and Baschs' royal-sounding surname for a second. "Such a pleasure to meet you. Would you be offended, if I called you Vaan?" The blonde quickly shook his head, having the terrible need to not to be rude. A chuckle.
"Fine thing, Vaan. Anyhow, until the time for the introductions, we will be sitting here, pay us no attention at all," the man said, sounding way too amused.

Larsa then saw his chance - glancing at miss Viera, seeing that the woman was staring forward with a distant look in her eyes - and said: "Sorry about Vaan here, he gets really shy when faced with strangers." Now the tall lady turned to look, a hint of smile on her face.

"I see," she answered and shook her head, agreeing silently with herself about something.

Vaan could have strangled Larsa and himself, if the opening ceremony hadn't started that moment. For the start, all of their headmaster's talk went past his ears, the presence of the two - especially the man - making him feel tingly and uncertain. It bothered him greatly, since both of them had something that made them somehow very familiar. He knew he had never seen them before, but still, he couldn't shake off that feeling. Not he nor Larsa saw the look those two passed to each other.

All of the students ceased their chattering, rest of them found their seats, when a grey-haired man appeared in the front, small smile on his face.

"Students. Teachers. Good day, good day. Few of you know who I am, so for the majority who don't know, let's start by introductions. I am Ondore, your most humble headmaster," he said with a poker face - there was a smile, Vaan was sure of it, it somehow made him feel better - and bowed a little. But he looked tired, Vaan noted. Dark circles under gentle, misty-grey eyes. He liked Ondore already, he didn't seem like one of those stuck-up tightasses that he had seen in his old schools.

"First, mr Vayne Solidor, could you stand up?" Vaan turned his head to see the said man did as he was told and snort slightly. Someone shifted beside the blonde and he quickly turned back. He did not want to look at the man that was going to be their history and philosophy teacher! Terrible. That guy was like a sneaky snake. Those lessons were going to be lots and lots of pain. Vaan heard a snicker and twitched, trying to concentrate on Ondore and not the people who were sitting on each side of him.

On Basch's turn, few squeals could be heard. Fangirls were really everywhere.

Vaan felt a pang of pride and grinned when he saw his dad's dark eyes settle on him and a smile cross that handsome, gruff face. Ondore nodded on an on and smiled.
"These upcoming years we will host few visitors in our school. Mr...Balthier Bunansa will be teaching you about literature as the assistant of our professor Crowley," the headmaster said. Vaan couldn't stop himself from looking, when the man next to him stood up.

"It is purely my pleasure, master Ondore," Balthier said in a silky tone, smirking slightly. For a fleeting moment his gaze passed by Vaan, the blonde suppressing a shiver. The Hall was deadly silent and staring openly. C'mon, now people. They started clapping right the moment Ondore looked at them, frowned and told them not to be rude. Balthier chuckled, bowed and sat back down, being very happy with himself for making such an impression.

"Miss Fran Viera in the one in charge of the girls' PE group. Be good and give her a helping hand," mr Ondore said and smiled. Fran only nodded and sat back down, her eyes never settling on anything, it's like her mind was elsewhere, not really here. Vaan continued his fidgeting and unconciously slid closer to Larsa.

The ceremony ended right after Ondore had bid them all final welcome and ordered the teachers to guide their students to classes to start the day.

--

The three-hour-day went by in a flash, with plenty of talking and how-have-you-beens. Three hours felt like five minutes, mostly to a certain blond and his friends, when they reached the literature class. Fangirls seemed ready to attack anytime and even the boys were expecting the class. The two new helpers had raised a lot of questions and curiosity in all of them, after all, their city of Rabanastre was filled with, yes, normal people. That intriguing pair was certainly not normal.

Vaan had agreed to that too, but it was not making him curious, it was making him more nervous than ever. Larsa, that sneaky little bastard, had told Penelo about the enigmatic pair who had been sitting by them at the ceremony and how Vaan had acted like a school girl with a crush. Vaan wanted to say it wasn't so, something was wrong, different. But he couldn't, why would they believe his crazy dreams? Those visions?

He let Penelo and Larsa drag him to sit in the front, he didn't resist. Disturbed was the right word for him. He stared at the door, not paying any attention to Crowley. Balthier should be here... then the man was there, smirk on his face, hand dangling with the hem of the white shirt, brushing past his hips.

But Vaan didn't see it, he saw something else.

It was Balthier, but it wasn't. This one had a dangerous edge to him, eyes were so sharp like a blade. Even his clothes were weird, old-fashioned with a gold-decorated vest - were those trousers real leather? - there was a big gun clutched in his hand, pirate, pirate, little voice nagged. Without a sky a pirate is nothing. This Balthier stared at something, smirk appearing. He was saying something and the image was gone -

"Vaan?" The blonde blinked rapidly. It was Balthier - this time the real one, or was the image-Balthier real too? -, whose face was only few inches away from his. Vaan could hear snickering around him and he quickly backed away.
"S-sorry, I was just..." Staring at you like you have two heads and thirty eyes or something? A hand patted his shoulder. With a strange glimmer in those eyes, Balthier smiled.
"I see." That's all he said. The blond staggered, trying to find some words, but failing and hiding his face behind his hands. Balthier had slid away to sit in the corner of the room to observe with a small smile in his terribly handsome face. Vaan couldn't concentrate on what the old literature teach, professor Crowley was croaking on about. He was staring at his hands all the time. That vision... what in the world was that?

"You okay?" Larsa leaned forward and poked his temple. Vaan flinched and nodded, not at all sure if that was the right thing to do. Would it really hurt to tell the truth?
"No worries, in a minute you'll be getting out of here." No joking, just a serious face that eerily reminded Vaan of the vision he had seen this morning. Maybe some part of Larsa noticed that everything wasn't alright, even though his blond friend hadn't told him. He notified the dazed Penelo and stole small glances in Vaan's direction from time to time. He was sneaky like that, that Larsa, the rich brat with too much time on his hands. He probably had devoured his brother's library, all the books about kings and queens and philosophy and psychology. Really, he was 16 and knew lots of things that kids that age shouldn't know.

Sneaky little bastard indeed.

But as much of a prodigy as Larsa was, he could not see the reason behind Vaan's little odd behaviour. The blond felt bad for not saying anything, but he couldn't. It was enough that those two could see that it all related somehow to the dashing stranger, perhaps to his dark-skinned companion. They couldn't be more right. Vaan had seen those weird dreams of his for two years, but the first time he saw a vision had been this morning. The same morning when those two came.
It was their fault.
It had to be.

He wasn't going to stay here any longer, up and gone he was and crashing against somebody just outside the classroom.

"Oww..."

"Be careful of your step, Vaan," the soft, singing voice said. The boy gulped and raised his head up and up, damn that one for being so tall, even adding those high heels. White hair circling around the dark-skinned face, stunning in its exotic beauty, that intriguing agelessness. How old she was, Vaan didn't know, but he wanted. Just a little piece of a proof, that she was really a human, like that - pirate? Where did that come from? - man there. Fran's hand on his felt cold, her nails like cats'. No vision. Not a single flash of anything weird. Vaan felt a little relieved.

"Yeah, miss Viera, I'm sorry! I'm in a hurry," he shook off his doubts and confusion and managed to flash a grin. Fran let out a little sigh and nodded, heels clicking against the floor as she went on her way. Vaan didn't even wave goodbye, he had to get out of here. He ran down the steps, taking three at once, his bag smashing against his back. He didn't care, out, out, out, oh, the scent of Galbadian lilies slid from somewhere far and he knew he had managed. He took a deep breath and looked around him.

Basch had told him to wait, to look for him, since he could take a little longer than Vaan. That "little longer" meant only few minutes, so...

Hey, hey!

Wait a second!

Basch was already there!

Or...

oh shit.

That homey brush of straw-yellow dreadlocks. Gaze harder than any diamond. It was and wasn't. Vaan froze for the third time that day. He wasn't seeing things. It was Basch and still wasn't, it was this weird image of him, exactly like it had been with Larsa and Balthier earlier that day. That stranger had Basch's face, body, hair, but his eyes were so different. So hard, hurt, yet they held such loyalty - to whom? -, the sledgehammer that was merciless in his grip, the icy-blue shield clanking against his armored legs. Vaan knew that if he blinked out, it would be gone in a flash, like it had appeared. But still -

a moment and there was nothing but Basch and his suit and pleasant breeze of the wind. Vaan sniffed and let out a tired sigh. Three times for one day. That's too much. Basch didn't ask anything, just patted his son on the head and drove away.

The scent of the flaming lilies followed their way, waiting for their return.

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Rewievs are always welcomed with open arms!