-Somehow I know you're there, thank you-

"We don't know,"

Ashe shook her head, "We haven't heard a word from him in months, not even Penelo." "And his clan?" Balthier raised an eyebrow, "Surely someone must've heard from him? Or perhaps a whisper from the grape vine?" "None, nothing on his whereabouts and nothing about his wellbeing either." replied Basch. "Where was he?" Balthier shifted his hard gaze to the youngest female in the room, "The last you've seen him, where was it?" "Rabanastre…" Penelo answered,

"I guess I should start from the beginning…,"

"Vaan has been acting strangely for a while, before he decided to go off of the face of Ivalice. He's started getting all there weird dreams." "Dreams?" Fran inquired, "Of what kind?" "I'm not too sure, at first all he sees are these bright lights and crystals, and some kind of land with ice as its floor. Then there were figures of red and yellow battling out with each other. They usually kept him up all night, with each dream they started to get clearer and clearer. He would usually tell me, but then after a while, he didn't talk about it much and finally, he stopped talking about them all together." She continued, "As the dreams continued to occur, Vaan keeps going missing for some periods of time. Kytes and the others say that he would meet a few strange new people, but I shrugged it off by assuming them as Vaan's clan members."

"These dreams, does he wake up screaming?" Balthier rubbed the back of his neck.

"Only on a handful of cases; I don't think they're traumatizing to him if you're implying that. He always tells his dream with such fascination you know?"

"No, I don't." Balthier folded his hands, and looked away.

"So does this mean that you're going to help?" Penelo practically was looking at him with such a beaming hopeful face that left Fran quite amused. But Balthier, still fixed on a tense posture since the announcement of their desert flower's disappearance merely nodded, and made a move to excuse himself from the room.

"Come now Fran, we've a lot to recover from if we're to make this journey."

"Wait!" Ashe cried, "We have not discussed your payment nor of your plans for the journey!"

"On the contrary, I think we've discussed quite enough."

"You mean… you won't help?"

Balthier smirked at the dancer's question and bowed mockingly, "Pack up your things my dear Penelo- it's going to be quite the journey I suspect. Rendezvous back here tomorrow in the afternoon. And your Imperial Highness, I trust you have a suite for us yes?" Larsa slowly nodded, "Indeed I have; your previous suites are still available for your usage." "Wonderful, I'm in a dire need of a bath. After all," The skypirate clicked his tongue and winked, "Can't have myself in such a story state in a presence of a lovely lady I shall be accompanying now can I? Cheerio!"

And they left; leaving an angry twitching Queen, an amused Emperor, a sighing knight, and a quite flabbergasted daughter of the dessert.

-I couldn't-

As expected from the Empire, their aerodromes are equipped with but the latest. Fran knows the Emperor won't mind if they took a few liberties to upgrade their Strahl, even if he did, Balthier would simply tell him that t'was to ensure the safety and protection Strahl would have that would benefit its passengers; dully implying a certain light haired dancer he knew. Upon the matter of the upgrade, she does not see the drones that created the electrical cage and wonders who invented the electrical contraption that captured and reeled them into Bhujerba. Although tis' seemed to be the last thing on her partner's mind.

"You are ill at ease."

"I've noticed that much Fran," grumbled Balthier, he fiddled with the wrench he held and growled. "Helps to flip it around and start from there." Fran hinted him. He stared at her accusingly and changed his position to continue his work, "Grab the gear cog by your right Nono, the second one." The green dressed moogle worked with his employer as he was determined to seemingly drown in his work. "Distraction from such matters is unbecoming, Balthier." Fran reasoned softly, "Haunt you continuously it shall." Balthier gripped his wrench tightly in anger, and exhaled with eminent frustration.

"What do you propose then, Fran?" He ran his hand through his hair, "That brat… he's going to be the death of me one day."


"Sky pirates don't get attached Vaan."

"I know."


"You care." Fran mused, "Tis' is such the way for humes in nature. You roam as he does now." "I know he's going to be fine," Balthier retorted, "He has learned from the best after all."

"What will you do now Balthier?"

"Simple my dearest Fran," Balthier finished his work and slapped on the cleaning cloth, "We find him, finish the job, and grab our reward."

Fran simply sighs.

"And what of your desert flower?"

"He's not..." Balthier frowned, "He has no roots to tie him down Fran- he is learning to be a sky pirate after all."

"He imparts his fondness of you often, surely such efforts are at least merit of the same weight?"

"I've not a clue what you speak of Fran."

-Conscience makes coward us all, Balthier?-

"Sky-pirates, the lot of them!" hissed the Queen. "One swallow does not a summer make." Larsa chided, "I'm sure not all of them are as such. Penelo, you'd best pack up; I have a feeling that it is going to be a long journey." "It certainly will be," Ashe agreed, "Have you all your items?" "I've got enough. Don't be such a worrywart." Penelo joked, "I'll be fine, but I might need a map. Just in case I wander off…"

"You will be with Fran yes? I doubt you'll need it."

"Maybe not," Penelo turned to Ashe, "But it's a nice reassurance. My map isn't complete you see…" "My Queen, would you accompany Penelo to the study room? I trust you know where it is, I am certain you'll find a few maps that might come in handy at a time." Larsa bowed to them, "I'm afraid I have other matters to attend to." "Of course my lord," Ashe and Penelo bowed back and left, with soft mummers of 'unneeded courtesy' by Penelo and 'politeness' by Ashe.

Larsa smiled and walked with Basch.

"Basch?"

"My lord?"

"I cannot help but noticing how tense he was when we spoke of Vaan- he seems to be on tenterhooks. Why do think this is so Basch?" Larsa pondered, "It is not like him." "Balthier is unpredictable, my lord," He remarked, "It is not something unusual, perhaps it is because he considers him as his… apprentice, so to speak." "Perhaps…" Larsa turned to him, "Is there something more of them you wish to tell me?"

Basch closed his eyes, and remembered.


"Balthier! Come on! Give it back! I need that for the hunt!"

"And you were going by yourself? I don't think so. Gear up Fran; we're leaving by the clock's chime."

"Balthieer! I told you I can handle it! It's just a wyvern!"

"And I've said none of that, come along now."

"Balthier!"

"Tis' quite amusing, yes?"

"Well, Vaan's always like that."

"Another hunt? The fate of Dalmasca rests upon our shoulder-"

"Only yours princess!"

"-And you would rather run around for hunts?!"

"We need the gil, now give that back 'thier!"


Basch would like to say how he thought the relationship between the two are indeed like a teacher and his student, nevertheless times are they appear not to be so. Balthier would occasionally teach Vaan a thing or two about the crime he calls his career; sometimes willingly, sometimes with a price he does not mention. It may either be a favor to be asked of Vaan or a foolish prank or even during a handful of very, very few rare times; a companion to search for treasures with Fran. They were not close with each other at all, (Basch admits he can't see them getting along mushily like brothers do) yet they were still at arm's length. They do in fact bicker often about the most pointless things, both stubborn prick heads as Penelo dubbed them during the many times she and Fran watched them both like a show. All in all, it was like it was something more or a few times, less.

They almost, foolishly, seem to be like lov-

"No, there isn't, my lord."

(But instead he doesn't think of it too much- feeling like he would intrude upon something if he does.)

-It doesn't Fran. Sky pirates are most certainly not cowards.-

"Firstly, we have to decide where we want to go," Balthier cleared the large desk and spread out his map, "we can't just go combing Ivalice blindly."

"It is true that it would take far too much time, let us simply start in the places he'll most likely be," Larsa pointed at the sky city, "My men have searched through every crook and cranny, he is not anywhere in Bhujerba. We can cross that one out." "He's not in Rabanastre either," informed Penelo, "Kytes and the others would've told me if they saw him, and we all know the streets just as well as Vaan." "He'll have to be on the move if he remains unfound for months… any of these places is a possibility." Ashe murmured, "It is like searching for a needle in a haystack." "He must've left some clues behind, to lead us to him," Fran turned to the dancer, "Has there been any?" Penelo frowned, and thought; she then slowly reached to her pocket, pulling out a piece of paper. "He did… actually… I've almost forgotten about it, because it didn't make much sense to me. I was hoping you might recognize it."

"This is…"

"Vaan got it before he left. It seemed like it was important so I thought it could help us. Would that count as a lead?"

"Yes, this would."

"What is it Fran?"

She held it up to the light, and stared at it, "Tis' an insignia, very old and very detailed. It has not been seen for centuries… Where did he get this?" "It was sent to us in a letter, already there waiting for us when we got back from a hunt in the Giza Plains. Migelo said that it was from the black haired girl though." "A black haired girl?" Balthier's ears perked up, "What black haired girl?" "It was a woman actually," Penelo's fingers traced a rough figure of the lady, "She's dressed up in leather black, pink ribbon on her arm and had black hair. She came looking for Vaan once, and then lingered around in Rabanastre for a while before leaving. I never found her after Vaan left." "So, we could assume that he probably is somewhere around her. You've never met this girl before?" Basch asked.

She shook her head, a 'no' then.

"On other matters," Ashe coughed, "Insignias are most likely associated with magick, is that not so Fran?"

"True, akin it is to our Glyphs. A legend only told to those who may listen.

"Upon the beginning, such is the time of the Occuria, during the Thousand Years War wrought by the Espers corrupted in power and supremacy. Tis' in these times, magick was rumored to have entered the realm from unknown worlds. Among these worlds, was the world serving as a battlefield for the gods. The goddess Cosmos is among those known. Tis' her insignia I suspect, though no more do I know beyond what has been told to my kind." "Would the Garif know more of these gods Fran?" questioned Ashe.

"Tis' not for certain, regardless, we may start from there."

-Ignorance does not do one any favor, Balthier-

Even with the sun setting, the heat kept on stroking down the dessert. The journey back to Rabanestre was not long, although the dessert heat was getting to them. Well, at least some of them. Penelo looked perfectly fine, and so was Vaan, the same could not really be said to the others though. They were all sweating, breathing heavily, and were getting red all over their skins. Rabanestre was not far, but the Mimic Queen had not been an easy game. They didn't have much energy left, and there was an outpost there. So why not stop for the night? They could get out their tents and rest, with more people there; it was more unlikely that they'll have to take turns to guard themselves from whatever creature that may come out at night. And so they did.

Vaan crept quietly away from the sleeping forms of his group, and scaled the cliff around before finding his seat.

"It a beautiful night, is it not?"

He jumped and turned, weapon at hand, "Who are you? Show yourself!"

"Calm yourself Vaan."

"Woah… w-who are you?"

A lady, technically glowing under the moonlight was staring at him with gentle eyes and answered. She then requested of his services.

"You want me to what?! Fight for you?"

She nods, and explained her reason.

"That doesn't sound good, seems like this Feral Chaos guy really is all that frightening huh? But, I can't leave Penelo, and the others…"

She says she understands, and explains about how he could manage.

"You mean, I'll fight in my dreams? That really doesn't make any sense!"

She shook her head, no, it does not.


Vaan cracked his back, "It's been a long while since that time eh?" He swung his Javelin spear. He twirled it around, and then he brought it down- hitting and smashing more of the crystal manikins. He swung it around him, and sent his opponents flying where they were mostly, blasted by a fire spell. He grinned in victory, along with flashing a peace sign at his companion who replied back to him with a giggle.

"Vaan come on! The next rift is opening!"

"Coming!"

-Somehow I know you're there, thank you

- Tifa, FFVII ACC -


Preview

"Something is... glowing down there... it looks like... Vaan! It's Vaan!"

"I don't think so Penelo... I know he loves plundering for gold, but he doesn't exactly shine like one."


A/N: the reviewers, readers, favorites and follows- ugh, I can just hug you all. Seriously, cyber-group-hug! Thank you so much for reading and supporting this story! You have no idea how happy I feel when I read your reviews. I was practically squealing! Also, I'm terribly sorry for the late update, I was supposed to upload this last night, but I fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed. Thus, I also apologize for the mistakes you might find in this chapter since editing your stories at 5 A.M. is not a good idea.

Hey, where do you think Vaan went?

Reviews are like Christmas Cookies!


Nightmare Senshi: Thank you! I do encourage people to write more stories with missing character plots; love 'em. And thank you for your comment, it gave me the courage boost I needed to confirm fully that this story is Bal/Vaan. Buckle up then!

Bearchiy: Thank you! I hope I live up to your expectations; I'm afraid I find Balthier as a very hard character to work with.

Grandshadowseal: Thank you! Here's the translation: Who are you?/Vaan, my name is Vaan./You're one of her fighters right? Come on! She's waiting!/Who?/Who else? Cosmos!/

DeathBeth: Thank you! Here it is! I'm afraid chapter 5 will be a bit late, I won't be doing any writing for the next two weeks due to tests…