New fic! (Crowd cheers) Hello my freaky little darlings, it's your good buddy Grey here (aka BalthierFan6828) with another fic for your enjoyment. It's rated M, for all kinds of little things, and the characters will not be perfectly in character (if you follow my stories you know that's not something I'm really striving for). Also, I don't own FFXII or its characters in any shape form or fashion and if you review it…the updates will come. Enjoy my darlings…enjoy.
IMPORTANT: Just so you know where we're starting: The game is over, Ashe has regained her throne, Vaan and Penelo are sky pirates, Basch is posing as Gabranth and Balthier and Fran have taken back the Strahl. A year and a half has passed since the end of the game and our group of heroes have all received messages from Ashe that request their immediate arrival at the palace. She has a quest that only they can handle.
The Edge of Forever
Chapter 1: Just Like Old Times
It was Vaan's considered opinion that Balthier commanded the complete attention of any and every room he entered. Even here, in the glory of Ashe's throne room, the glitter and glamour of the riches around him paled in comparison to the sparkle of danger and mystery that shone in the pirate's eyes. Vaan's heart had skipped a beat upon seeing him enter, as if he were afraid that he wouldn't show, terrified to admit to himself that his heart would be broken if he didn't. But there he was, dressed in his customary mixture of black and gold and leather, strolling lazily into the room as if he were taking an afternoon walk instead of entering a secret meeting in the queen's throne room. Fran followed a few steps behind, just as elegant and solemn as Vaan remembered her being. None of them had seen or heard from the two in months, not since they had taken the Strahl, leaving nothing but a note and Ashe's wedding ring in its place. It took every ounce of control he had not to run up to him and throw his arms around the pirate, but he didn't, after all he was a pirate too now. Besides, he wasn't sure if he would kiss him or slap him once he got close enough. He loved him, oh how he loved him, but Balthier had put him through hell since the Bahamut fell, and Vaan wasn't ready to forgive him just yet.
"Together again," the pirate chuckled, a smirk on his lips, "Just like old times."
Basch, still in his brother's armor, shook Balthier's hand, "It's nice to see you again Balthier. We feared the worse after Bahamut."
Balthier's smile took on a devilish hint of mystery, "I told you all the leading man never dies."
Vaan definitely wanted to slap him.
Penelo rushed forward and hugged him, and Vaan was surprised by how at ease Balthier seemed with it.
"We've missed you both so much," said Penelo, releasing Balthier from her grip and immediately pulling the unsuspecting Fran into an embrace, "You had us all so worried! If you hadn't left that note I don't think I would have ever gotten Vaan to smile again!"
Balthier turned to face him, and Vaan couldn't quite make out his expression. It was something between surprise and sorrow, "Missed me did you, eh thief?"
Vaan wanted to cry, fall into Balthier's arms and tell him that he'd almost died without him. That he loved him and never wanted to leave his side, but instead he shrugged, "Maybe a little."
Balthier's expression fell, and he nodded, "It seems you made a sky pirate of yourself after all." The tone of his voice had changed, only Fran knew it was because he was upset.
Vaan nodded, "I make out alright."
The others had moved on ahead to wait for Ashe, who was supposed to meet them any moment. Balthier stood there for a minute without saying anything, he just looked at Vaan, and the boy felt as if he were looking right through him.
Balthier finally spoke, "So it would seem." He turned and began to walk off towards the others.
"Balthier!" Vaan called out, his voice panicky and a little too high pitched.
Balthier turned around quickly, a sparkly of hope in his eyes, "Yes, Vaan?"
"I…I'm really glad you're ok, and I'm really glad you came."
Balthier smiled, "So am I Vaan."
Unspoken words hung between them, but Ashe had entered the room and the moment was lost. She looked beautiful; the past year and a half had been good to her. She hugged them all in turn, genuinely happy to see them.
"I called you all here because you are the best warriors I know, and I need your help," she said, "You'll be paid, handsomely, for your services when you return."
"What's this all about Princess?" asked Basch, "What are we getting ourselves into?"
"There have been rumors of a strange substance, of which only a small quantity exists, called Anovan. It can be found only at the edge of our known world, farther than anyone I've ever heard of going," she explained.
"And you want us to journey to the edge of the world and find it for you," said Balthier.
"No. I want you to go there and destroy it," she said, "Anovan has the power to destroy the known world. I don't know how, or even what it looks like. But you have to find it and destroy it before it falls into the wrong hands. I have heard rumors. There are still those who would follow in Vayne's footsteps. They have already begun to search for the Anovan."
Basch frowned, "You have my sword, your highness," he looked to the others, "And I am sure the others feel the same."
Vaan and Penelo stepped forward, both nodding, "We're in."
Everyone looked to Balthier, they knew Fran would respect whatever decision he made. The pirate sighed and stepped forward, "I suppose you won't be able to get along without me," he said, "After all, every story needs a leading man."
Ashe nodded, "You leave at dawn."
To Be Continued…
Please review if you want to see what happens next!