Title: Searching for Vaan

Summary: Nothing was left but the Galbana lilies and the note at his bedside. Vaan was gone, and so the search begins.

A/N: Warning! Confusion, might lead to Balthier/Vaan- even though I can't write romance to save my life. This fits nowhere in the story line, but let's just say there's another year gap between FF12 and Revenant Wings if you want a bit more info and sense into this story. I haven't finished the game yet, so my knowledge is limited…


-Dearest, you'll find me where it's quiet, just listen-

The first time Vaan had started acting weird was when that lady showed up.

It was a fine Wednesday afternoon, all bright and windy. Not a raincloud in the sky, making it a perfect day for hunting. And this is what Vaan did; he was out hunting around somewhere, and by the looks of the teleportation stone he had been holding… it was probably somewhere far. Now that Balthier and Fran had returned for their ship, Vaan had plenty of time to get started on the pilling bills and hunts he had received yet never had enough time to finish them all off; due to his daily visits to treat Strahl.

She just hoped he had enough sense to know which way is East and West.

"Excuse me?"

The door creaked open and brownish orbs peeked from its sides, "Uh… is this Migelo's store?"

Penelo had to blink once, twice.

A well figured woman slowly stepped into fire lit room. She was clad in black from her shoes to the top of her neck, counting out the pink reddish ribbon that was tied to her upper left arm. Her face looked just like Vaan's- only fairer…

"Uh… hello?"

"Oh!" Penelo snapped her thoughts off, deciding it must be the heat wave, "Sorry, uh… Yep, yes it is. Welcome!"

"Great!" The woman laughed, "Is there someone by the name Vaan here?"

"Vaan? Uh… Yes… but he's not here right now…"

"Oh…" The woman sighed, "Oh… I see… oh well then… thank you… I'll just… look around…"

And so she did, she circled the place several times. And then she left. Penelo raised an eyebrow.

It didn't seem to matter at that time, and so she left it be.

And by the time Vaan returned, Penelo had forgotten all about the woman, amidst the sound of Vaan's excited voice, telling them his story.

That night, the dreams started.

-Trust me; I'll be back soon-

"It's nothing Penelo. I'm fine."

"But-"

"Look, I gotta go okay? We'll talk about this later."

Penelo sighed; Vaan's dreams were impacting him and he was starting to look more and more tired by day. She had considered telling the rest of their friends- all scattered around Ivalice. But, to whom should she tell? Larsa and Ashe are no doubt busy with politics; Basch seemed to have his hands full with the army. Balthier and Fran was somewhere around Ivalice- Shiva knows where they are off to now? She didn't want to tell Kytes- he would no doubt tell the other orphans and she really didn't want them to worry about Vaan. Vaan wouldn't like to be fussed around by them either.

She decided to try Migelo.

Said bangaa had suggested herbs.

And… Vaan had flat out refused them.

She didn't understand his stubbornness; it was for his own good anyway. But, when Migelo had shown her the said antidote he was attempting to give to Vaan, she had to agree.

It looked horrible.

-And if I don't?-

Penelo had seen her a few times since then.

That strange woman clad in black, sitting around in front of the terrace of Sand Sea. She sipped on her drink, and glanced at her. Her eyes; as Penelo can see now in the light; had a hint of ruby red in them; she smiled at her. Then she stood up and left, her payment was slipped underneath her unfinished drink. Penelo had tried to catch up to her, but the streets have been unusually crowded lately since the land had gained its hard-won freedom. By the next turn on the road, the woman was gone.

The next time, she was sitting innocently on the top of a building, her legs hanging out. She looked down on the streets of Rabanastre, looking like she was searching for something.

Or someone…

But when she wanted to take a second glance, the woman was gone.

The last time she heard about her, was through Kytes.

"She's pretty Penelo! All in black and nothing else! 'Cept for that red rope around her arm, said she's lookin' for Vaan."

"Did she? Where is she now?"

"No idea, I told her Vaan's out hunting then she left."

The next day, a letter came.

It consisted nothing but a single yellow picture.

But to Vaan, it was a sign.

Penelo frowned, screw the concern of politics- she was sending a letter to Larsa about Vaan.

-Good! You shouldn't trust guys like me-

A few days later, the reply came; simply telling her to calm down and that it was probably because Vaan wanted to become a sky pirate, and thus was seeing new people. The dreams were most likely due to his participation in the defeat of the Empire- as an after effect after being through something harsh. It also reminded her that it might be best to however, keep a close eye on Vaan. It gave Penelo little assurance, but she trusted Larsa. As time passed, Vaan was disappearing from her sight more and more. By then, Penelo had pestered Vaan for answers, but the lad managed to wiggle himself out of it every single time.


"Hey Vaan?"

"Yeah Penelo? What's up?"

"Who was that lady before?"

"Which gal?"

"You know…"

"What? Are you jealous Penelo? I thought you had your eye out for Larsa!"

"Stop laughing Vaan! This isn't a joke! I'm… just worried that's all. You're too gullible for your own good, you know?"

"Yeah, yeah, she's not someon- Hey! I'm not!"

"Do you really want to testify that?"

"Whatever, I gotta run now okay? Talk to you later!"

"Vaan wait! You haven't answered my question yet! Vaan!"


Till finally…

He was gone.

Nothing was left but the Galbana lilies at his bed and a note saying:

'Trust me, I'll be back soon'

She crumpled up the paper in frustration.

-So… when you said you'll be back, you were lying?-

"The highest concentrations of Mist can even do damage, leading to over-rapid changes in the environment, and violent behaviour among animals and those more sensitive to the Mist's effects."

Ashe frowned at the latest report she had received. The weather was getting worse. There were such rapid changes in temperatures in environments it sounded impossible for even her to believe. But what was written in the reports, letters, and testimony by her subjects were no lies. And that's not all; hunters have confirmed that more beasts were attacking villagers outside the large cities and travellers alike. The merchants and other people who used to camp outside of Rabanastre during the dry season had wisely opted to stay down in Low Town.

The Mist was acting up.

Not only that, during one of her several ventures through her kingdom, she had spotted yet another difference in the crowds greeting her. There was a decrease in the amount of vierras in the crowd.

A sigh.

Buried under all these reports, as childish as it may sound, she was getting bored. At the very least, Ashe decided, was the meeting she had arranged with Penelo. The girl had sent a letter to her by slipping it among her reports, requesting an 'audience' with her- either it was urgent, or security still felt like a game to them.

She considered tightening up the security, just to give an extra challenge to those couple of thieves she call 'friends'- even if she refuses to admit so, more often than necessary.

-Obviously!-

It was under the guise of a dancer did Penelo enter the palace walls easily. Equipped with a genuine letter from Her Royal Majesty Queen Ashe sent to her several moments ago, she stormed into the castle. Quick and light on her feet, she hastily showed the letter and slipped past the guards. She raced up the stairs, down the corridors and hallways and up to the meeting room that was always preserved for their sudden visits, even if the queen herself won't declare it as such. The door she targeted was brand new, and decorated with designs no different from the rest of the doors in the castl- save for the miniscule Galbana Lily detail carved into the left handle of the door. With keen eyes used to finding treasures like Penelo's, it wasn't that hard to find.

She opened the door.

There was no need to waste her breath on the details of the room.

There was no time.

"It's been a while hasn't it?" The lady in the room started, adorned with the silken clothes of royalty. "Yes," Penelo nodded to her friend, "It has." She looked into her eyes and frowned, "Is something the matter?" The dancer took a deep breath, and replied, "Vaan's gone missing." "And this is such an urgent occurrence?" The Queen- preferably, Ashe straightened herself up, "Hasn't he always been that way? Even in our ventu-"

"It's been months! And he's gone without a word!"

"He'll be fine Penelo…" Ashe assured her, "He always has been. He's probably off hunting for his clan or-" "I've checked with his clan," Penelo interjected, "Montblanc has received no word from Vaan. He doesn't even know he was missing! He thought he was too busy catching hunts outside Rabanastre, but even four months is too long for one to go hunting right?" "Now, now, Penelo…" Ashe sighed, "Even Balthier and Fran took a year to return to us on foot. Who knows where Vaan is…" Penelo remained quiet, "I suppose…" She glanced at her hands, and clenched them tightly.

"All we can do now… is wait… huh?"

"I'm afraid so, come now. Let us sit down and have tea- you look horribly tense for a fluid dancer."

"You mean me hearing your complaints?"

"Like old times then," Ashe chuckled.

"On one condition," Penelo smiled weakly, "You really gotta stop using those ol' formal cryptic words."

They both laughed. Penelo gestured her hand towards the pile of reports, and asked.

"The usual," Ashe answered, "Seems strange things are happening outside on road." "Now that you've mentioned it," Penelo stood up and walked around the cabin, "Montblac said that he has been getting more hunts marks than usual, turns out the beasts roaming around Ivalice are getting more and more vicious. It's like they've gone berserk."

"I know," Ashe groaned, "It has been appearing much in the reports as well. Normally we would've shrugged it off as normal habitat of theirs, however even Giza rabbits are known to attack now. It all just doesn't add up. Not only that, it seems the vierras have gone as well." "Back to their home maybe," She suggested, "Ktjrn and her sister weren't at Clan Centurio when I wanted to ask them again about Vaan."

"How very peculiar…"

-So, you'll die then…-

Basch lazily dragged his wounded body to the entrance of the Lushu Mines, ragged and tired. The Lhushu Mines were never kind, that he knew. But the monsters that were inside said mines, usually stayed inside it. Recently however, there were a more than a few seen roaming outside the mines at night. They didn't venture far in fear of the sun, but it was enough to unsettle the people of the sky city.

They've stationed imperials at the entrance of the mines, but it wasn't easy fighting a Slaven whilst keeping their voices down.

That led to Basch being sent here, with others to set up traps. Unbeknownst to them, there were several of the dead waiting at the entrance. Not expecting this, Basch had sooner sent those with him out of the caves, and settled in for a long battle. He mildly regretted the fact he should've brought more warriors with him, in accordance to Lord Larsa's words.

It was long! But it was over, and he could finally get a breather.

Time to set up those traps.

-Yep. And, don't forget! Live your life before you can't; so I don't have to hear you whining about regrets if we meet in the afterlife-


Preview:

"We should have landed in Rabanastre."

"Please Fran; this is no time for mocking."


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