No Last Name

Balthier?

Balthier.

Balthier Bunansa?

No. Just Balthier. No last name.

I need no last name.

Balthier paces aboard his commandeered ship several days after setting her down in some forest far west of Archades. Likely in Rozarria, he thinks with a smirk. Wouldn't father love that?

He cringes at the unbidden thought of his father – Cidolfus Demen Bunansa. No, no, Balthier thinks, that was not my father.

My father was a better man – a leading man.


Ffamran is escorted into the laboratory by a secretary – a woman with a kind face and a piece of candy for the young boy. He smiles and thanks her for her assistance, and steps into his father's lab with his school bag dangling from his fingers.

It is the last day of school before the autumn break, and he could not be more excited.

"Father?" he calls. The laboratory is empty, it seems, but he knows Cid must be there. He's never left before his son arrived before.

"Ffamran!"

Ffamran turns when he hears his father's voice and sees him in his adjacent office. Before he can make it to the door, Dr. Cid is on his feet with open arms, ready to embrace his son.

The death of his wife has hit him hard, and even nine year old Ffamran knows that his father is not alright.

Not yet, at least.

Cid envelops his son in a tight, warm hug, threatening to lift the boy off of his feet. Ffamran laughs a bit at his father's enthusiasm – it is as though the older man is happier for the break than his son.

"Father, you're crushing me," Ffamran says, his voice muffled against his father's chest, "I cannot breathe."

"So sorry," Cid says, letting him go. He saw the boy only hours ago – walked him to school himself, in fact, but it is not enough. During Ffamran's every absence, whether it be for school, sleep or socialization (which the boy is quite adept at, Cid is proud to see), the doctor worries – worries that his son will be taken from him too soon, just as his wife was.

Ffamran finds a smile for his father – he thinks his dad needs some encouragement, some proof that they're doing alright, so he pulls out a note from his principal and hands it over.

Cidolfus takes the note warily – Ffamran has been no stranger to juvenile mischief, especially since his mother's untimely death, and he has received more than one letter concerning his conduct.

'He is too rash with the other students.'

'He lacks tact. Please speak with him on appropriateness of conduct.'

'He is eloquent, yes, but he cannot simply say anything without sarcasm.'

But when Cid begins to read the letter, he realizes this one is different – it is hand written, not typed, and signed by the principal himself. He reads it, and then looks to Ffamran for confirmation.

"They're allowing me to skip a level. My teachers feel that I am a suitable candidate for expedited advancement."

Cid's face breaks into a genuine grin – something that warms Ffamran beyond what he could have expected. He is not a self-aware boy, and does not spend a great deal of time contemplating his emotions or motives in life, so he is often taken by surprise when something strikes him. He cannot anticipate poignant moments, and when they come, they often startle him into faking stoicism.

This time, though, he does the opposite. He fakes excitement for his father's benefit.

"That's excellent, Ffamran!"

Ffamran wonders if his father fakes it too, but it does not matter. If they are both faking – pretending to make the other think that, even in this moment of small triumph, they are not aching and trying to stem the wounds of their loss, then they are achieving the simple goal of letting the other know they care.


Balthier cringes at the thought of his father as he used to be – the thought of the mighty Dr. Cid when he was humble enough to take his son to the zoo, kind enough to pack his boy's lunch, and human enough to stand over his wife's grave for hours.

He shakes his head, trying to clear it, but the thoughts will not fade.

You need a plan, he thinks, hearing his father's voice in his head in place of his own. Need a plan to survive.

Landing in Nalbina was not a part of Balthier's plan to survive. Indeed, it was quite a deviation from that plan, but as he watches the aerodrome mechanic inspect the damage to the engines, he assumes he will have to make the best of what he has.

"What's the good word?" He watches the pudgy man as he grunts and groans, trying to withdraw his upper half from the engine compartment. He looks to Balthier and gives him a long list of problems – none of which he understands. However, he nods and gives saddened 'hmm's at the appropriate times, effectively convincing the man that he understands his words.

I am a pilot, Balthier thinks, not a mechanic.

How much to fix it all?

"50,000 gil, easily."

"Yes, well," Balthier is staggered by the number. That is nearly all the money that he has left from Archades. "I suppose we should go on and fix it."

Damn, damn, damn.

"I will have my mechanic start on her immediately. What name shall I place on the bill?"

"Balthier."

"And the last name."

There is a pregnant pause. "Just Balthier."


That night, after finding the cheapest place in Nalbina to eat, Balthier reenters the aerodrome, intending to sneak aboard the Strahl for a few hours of sleep. The lest money he spends now, the better off he will be. After all, he has not yet made it to Bhujerba, where his belongings and valuables to be sold are stowed.

I must only get to the sky city, he thinks, and then all will be well.

This is no predicament for a judge to be in.

You are no judge Ffamran. Balthier.

Nothing more than a man on the run.

A sky pirate, perhaps?

Sky pirates are vulgar, vile thieves. There must be a better way.

It is the only avenue to which you are suited. Only until something more suitable to your talents comes along.

Yes, yes. It will have to do. I shall be a classy sky pirate.

A leading man among supporting types.

Speaking of support…

Balthier is staggered when he finds a woman, not a man, leaning into the Strahl's lower engine compartment, and this is no ordinary woman. Her clothing is composed of metal and leather, and it is barely clothing – straps, really, assembled in such a manner that they cover all the parts that need to be covered, and leave to the eyes all that would tempt – all that would taunt him.

There are few viera in Archades, but Balthier has heard of their legendary aversion to clothing. It has been accepted in all of Ivalice and bothers few in these times, and Balthier knows he should not stare at her as she bends forward and works at some of the wires, but he is only seventeen, and the world cannot expect too much of him at the moment.

"Who are you?" Her voice startles him – he thought he'd gone unnoticed, but as she withdraws herself from the compartment and stands to her full height, Balthier sees her ears and is reminded of the revered Viera sense of hearing. Of course she'd known he was there – his thoughts had probably been loud enough for her to hear as well.

"My name is Balthier. I own this ship." As always, his voice is undaunted and confident. There have been times when Balthier has hated his innate ability to keep calm, but it has served him well more than it has annoyed him.

"You have done considerable damage to the engine. One must wonder whether or not you are a real pilot, as this is likely the same ship Archades reported stolen two days ago."

Balthier swallows hard and his stomach ties its self in a knot. How could he hope to talk himself from this predicament?

The viera knows.

She laughs and turns towards him, and he sees her face for the first time. All his life, Balthier has favored shorter women of pale skin and hair with strong features exotic to Archades – women who reminded him of his mother – but he cannot help being attracted to this woman – can he call her a woman if she is viera – who is towers over him as he approaches and whose features are so delicate and dark that she seems beyond the realm of all he knows…

For a second, he fears that he cannot speak, but then the words come and he remembers that he is Ffamra mied Bunansa, for whom words are ever present and smooth.

"I believe you may have made a mistake."

"This is the prototype. There were only two with the design of folding wings."

"This is the other."

"I dismantled the other after it was wrecked."

Damn!

"This ship is none of your business beyond her repairs."

"She will be noticed in the skies."

The viera's voice makes him melt in ways he had not known he was weak enough to melt. Something in the inflection of her voice, he tells himself, something about the way she speaks – nothing to do with her at all.

"Well then I suggest you fix her so you are not caught in the fray when she is recognized."

Balthier makes for the door to the cabin, but he does not reach if before she speaks again – before he hears the echo of her heels on the stone floor.

"I could disguise her, if you wish," she says. "The ship could be painted and be one of a kind."

I do rather like uniqueness.

"Go on."

"We could fit her wings with metallic edging – if it were contoured it would give her speed – a failing in the design."

She is asking for something. Balthier turns. She has followed, but keeps her distance, as all viera do from humes. There is something she wants in exchange.

"We could make her faster and change the shape of the nose. Even the designer would not know her."

"And what's in it for you?" he asks. He sees her tense as he steps closer, and the most base part of his hume-self aches to touch her, to see what lies beneath that leather and sheer fabric. "Why would you offer this without naming a price – as if it somehow benefits you?"

"I would ask you to take me with you for a time."

"And how does this serve me?"

Save for the benefit of looking at you.

"I would keep your ship in working order and tend to any… needs you may have."

Oh, dear.

Balthier looks up at the ship. She is beautiful the way he is, but he knows the viera speaks the truth. Nabradia has not been known for her airship trade, but he must go to Bhujerba, and who knows where else, and as the Archadian Empire expands, laying waste to all who would stand in her way, the chances of him being recognized as the rogue judge rise. Why take the chance of having the ship known as well?

He will disguise himself – cut his long hair away, grow a beard, pierce his ears… anything to separate himself from his former identity.

Why not take on a viera partner as well?

"Can she fly now?"

"In an hour or so she will be able to."

"Alert me when she is ready. We will leave before morn."

"Yes, Mr. Balthier."

"Just Balthier. We are partners in crime now, after all."

He smirks at her for the first time, and as his face contorts into his trademark smile, the one so like his father's, he knows it will not be the last.

Balthier has never set much store in fate or deeper feelings of certainty, but as he looks at her in the aerodrome's florescent light, he knows this is the beginning of something that will change him, though for better or worse, he does not know.

No, this will not be the last time he smirks at her, and he hopes this will not be the last time she smiles at him.

"What is your name, viera?"

"Fran."

"Well then, Fran," he inclines his head to her in respect and greeting, "it is good to have you on board."


Author's Note: I'm glad there are some people interested in this! Updates won't be as rapid as they were for Ever At Your Service, but I will try to stay on top of this.

Also, if you have a Livejournal account, you can find me at SapphireWings7, where I update with drabbles for different communities, as well as the fanfiction that you will find here. I think it's probably easier to read there since the documents keep their proper formatting.

Yes, this is shameless advertising. Be my friend?

Either way, thank you for reading and I hope I continue to keep you happy!

-BAW