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"Necrohol" (FF XII OGC, G) for gunshou
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alimond wrote in ff_exchange
Title: Necrohol
For: gunshou 
Medium: Fanfic!!!
Request: FFXII OGC: Fran and Basch. Outsiders, running away, sibling issues. Maybe awkward campfire conversations - both tend to be silent if not spoken to or offering guidance. Definitely a fascination with physical appearance. 
Fandom: Final Fantasy XII
Characters: Basch, Fran
Rating/ Warnings: G
Feedback: Hope you like it, but concrit is appreciated.
Spoilers: quite a bit, including the death of a particular basch-related judge
Word Count: 1181
Summary: We all carry secrets in our hearts. In some cases, those secrets are other people. 

Notes: Two weeks ago I was in a car accident and broke my spine/neck in three places. As such, I haven't had as much time as I might have liked to write this fic, because I just became able to sit at a computer a few days ago. I'm sorry if it isn't what you had in mind, and if that is the case, I'd like to rewrite it. Enjoy!



Basch is surprised at the speed with which his three new companions process his revelation about Gabranth, and the murder of King Raminas. It is only moments before they are pressing forward into Barlheim again, cutting down Mimics and praying for a gust of fresh air. Vaan still refuses to look at him, and Basch wishes he would; to be absolved by the boy would be like a tiny bit of forgiveness from Dalmasca, the second country he has failed.
When he brings it up again, once the four of them have gained the desert and the sky, Balthier turns to him in surprise.
“We have no real reason to mistrust you. The truth will out in the end,” he says.
“All of us carry secrets in our hearts,” Fran adds from behind them, and Basch meets her eyes for the first time. He is surprised to see neither pity nor compassion there, only a flat honesty, as if she had told him the answer to a math problem.

_______

“Wood warders,” Balthier says quietly, glancing back toward Fran, waiting near the entrance to Eruyt. “They protect the village, and the groves where new Viera spring forth”.
He does not have to tell Basch that this is what Fran once did, when she lived in this place. She could have been no less than these powerful creatures passing before them without so much as a glance, the carriage of their heads proud and threatening, the promise of battle trapped in the honey of their eyes.
She could have been no less, but she could have been more. Much more. Basch suspects this is why she left the village in the end, weary of the monotony, the reoccurrence of each peaceful, warm day. Basch also remembers how home used to weigh heavy on his shoulders, each day seeming the same as the last. He also knows that now he would give much to return to those times, even as he would give much to once again be free of them. He is a man torn between the past and the more recent past, and when they reunite with Fran again, long after the Warders have passed on, he sees the same sweet struggle pushing against the inside of her head.

_____

“I will not return to the Wood. I will wander, as you do, and hear the Wood no more,” Mjrn says softly, and Basch sees Fran’s eyes fall shut, long lashes fading into the fur that covers her face.
“I wish I could dissuade you, but I have felt as you feel, and know that I cannot,” Fran says, her voice heavy with sorrow, and as Mjrn turns to walk away Basch sees that the clear brown of her eyes is darkening around the edges into garnet. He also sees the brittle snap of regret in Fran’s face.
Later, he tries to think of something to say to her, something drawn from his long experience with siblings who cut and cut and give nothing back, but the rest of the party drops off to sleep quickly, and once it is just the two of them awake the silence is thick and the fire fills her eyes with shadows. For the first time in a long time his courage fails him, and in the end he can barely clear his throat enough to offer to take first watch.

_______

“Why do you watch me?”
She asks him when they are inside the Stilshrine, the two of them on rear guard while up ahead Penelo, Vaan, and Ashe take on the foes that guard the path between them and the Sword of Kings. Basch is unsure how to answer, and for a few moments all that passes between them are their footfalls, his heavy, hers light.
“Aren’t you used to men watching you?” he asks, trying to avoid the barbs latent in the question. Like Fran’s claws, they are sheathed at the moment, but he can sense them waiting to emerge and draw blood. He had not thought his quiet observations of Fran were offensive, or that they were noticed, but it seems he was wrong on both counts.
“Your eyes are not Balthier’s, and do not weigh on me the same,” she says. Basch smirks despite himself at this veiled jab.
“How does our regard differ?” he asks. She pauses to fire an arrow at a lingering foe, and then looks at him.
“He watches to consume and possess. You watch to see straight to my core.”
She walks away quickly to join Balthier, and Basch senses she prefers consumption to discovery.

____


In the Necrohol he almost breaks with the memory of failure. The taste of it lingers in the air like Mist, reminding him that the once-King of this land died in his arms, and he did nothing. Nothing to save him, nothing to ease the grief of his widow, who now leads the party with blade burning bright, heart gone cold but for the fire of revenge.
Fran takes first watch when they stop for a brief respite, and Basch closes his eyes to pretend to sleep, pretend that he does not feel her eyes on him now, picking apart his poorly veiled despair like a fruit, teasing out the hard seeds of his past one by one with her claws. He does not mind; he would do the same to her if he knew how, and everything he might wish to hide is written in the annuls of history all the same.
Still, he cannot resist the opportunity to comment when it presents itself, the two of them apart for a few moments while the rest of the party argues over the rough map Penelo has found in an urn.
“Why do you watch me?” he asks, the teasing quality of his voice unexpected in this place. From the back of his mind he watches with a distant amusement as Fran’s cheeks blush a gentle pink beneath her fur. She, like him, is silent for a few moments before replying.
“Despite my betrayal,” she says, plucking once at her bowstring with restless fingers, “the Wood did not hate me. Think on that.”

______

“Your brother,” she says quietly to him in Balfonheim, “was a man of much honor”.
This surprises him, and he looks up quickly from the mug of beer Balthier purchased him over an hour ago. He has made little progress through it, and it grows warm under the torchlight and the heat of his thoughts, furious and angry and full of grief.
“Too much honor, I think,” she continues, folding her long delicate form onto the barstool next to him. She, too, is holding a mug, half empty and smelling of cloves and oranges. “It weighed on him. He could not unbend long enough to move forward.”
Silence falls for a few beats, broken only by the sound of the pipes to which Penelo is dancing and Balthier’s boasts, drawing a laugh from Ashe and an exclamation from Vaan. 
“Something you and I can drink to, perhaps,” he says, and when she raises her mug in a salute Basch surprises himself by smiling.

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First off, major kudos to you for getting your entry in (and on time, no less), despite your injuries! Get well soon.

As for comments on the fic: Interesting. I like the ...pieces that you've written, like a glimpse into these two characters at various important points throughout the game. I find these two really difficult to get a handle on, characterization-wise, because they are a bit quiet and serious and thoughtful. However, I really like the feel of this piece. I think it's got a bit of a hopeful tone, despite the rather dark feel because of what these two have gone through. It's thoughtful and faceted, just like them. :)

I may not have requested it, but I really enjoyed reading it all the same. Thank you for sharing it!

I like this a lot. Basch and Fran's voices both feel really true to their characters. The first paragraph, especially, captured not just the two of them but the whole party in a way I really enjoyed.

Thanks for sharing this! And good luck in your recovery!

Ok, now that I finished my own gift, I can read this!

First of all, thank you so much for managing despite your injuries! Seriously, you could have defaulted with no guilt. I hope your recovery continues to go well and you feel better soon!

I love the small vignette structure of this, and how elements are repeated and reversed (he stares at her, she stares at him, starting and ending with a conversation about Gabranth). I requested this because I like how Basch and Fran are male and female versions of the mysterious stoic character, and I think you captured the yin and yang of them in a very believable manner. I like the details of their activities and the words designed to appeal to the senses (the smell of her tea, the fur on her face). The end has a nice camaraderie that balances the despair of the Necrohol.

Thank you so much for writing this!

I'm a million years late commenting on this, but it's so lovely. I adore the way you draw out the parallels between them, and the loss of home.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Recced, with love — and continued amazement at your downright heroic participation! ♥

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