Chapter 8: The Cure For What Ails You
author's note: Sorry this took so long, I needed to do a lot of fact-checking for the FF12-side of things and I haven't been too healthy the last couple weeks (there's a lot of things going around my area). So, here's some back story (head canons) for Balthier. Oh and wrapping up the Ford-issues.
Chapter 8: the Cure for what ails you.
Imperial City of Archades, Bunansa Residence, y696 (1)
It pained him to watch her. His mother used to be so lively, filled with an inner joy that spread to anyone she met. Her past charisma was a painful memory now, too happy and bright. He bitterly swallowed his pain, willing his eyes not to tear up, as he clutched her frail hand a little tighter.
Miracles of miracles life entered her vacant face and she turned to stare at him rather than the wall adjacent to her bed. A small smile lit up her face and Ffamran's (2) breath caught in his throat.
"Cidolfus?(3) What are you doing here? Don't you have nobles to awe with your latest tinkerings?" she asked confused but obviously flattered.
He did his best to smile despite his dashed hopes. "Nay mother, tis I, Ffamran. Father is away in his labs doing as you say."
Mother tilted her head like a bird or a doll with an over-heavy head attached to a too thin neck. "Mother? Ffamran?" she questioned before giving a twittering laugh, nervous and alarmed now. "I'm sorry sir but I think you have me mistaken for someone else."
"Of course, my apologies," he quickly soothed, not wishing to work his mother into hysterics. Not like he did the last time she mistook him for father.
He stayed with her another hour before leaving her in the company of the healers. He retreated to his room to mourn his mother. Alive she may be but she might as well be dead for all the good her deteriorating health did her. (4)
Sunnydale, Sunnydale hospital, present
"This is inconceivable," Xander grumbled as he pinched the bridge of his nose and tried not to think about out-smarting Sicilians and wars in Asia.
“Xander, I know you're just as surprised by this news as the rest of us but, I was under the impre-,” Giles said gently, obviously trying not to come across chiding while demanding answers.
“Not this potent,” Xander insisted. “I was expecting it to dull the pain. Act like the world’s best Tylenol,” Xander continued.
“I gathered as much. Do you have any idea why?” Giles continued patiently.
Sighing, Xander nodded. “It’s all I’ve been able to think about. I think there’s two reasons the spell worked so well. The first is because I have a greater aptitude for magick than Balthier did,” Xander explained, frowning as he thought on it. “It might also be why I feel like my magick reserves are taking so long to fill. I thought my capacity for magick was the same as Balthier’s when he first started but, given my affinity, I believe that’s no longer the case.”
“I find that reassuring,” Giles said. Surprised and confused, Xander turned to the older man for a better explanation. “Since Halloween I’ve noted many changes in you thanks to Balthier. It does my mind good to know it is simply his knowledge and personality that has effected and not the result of the chaos spell trying to turn you more permanently into the man.”
“That could have happened? Why did not you mention that sooner?” Xander demanded more than a little freaked out that a spell could just erase someone like that.
“Because I did not wish to alarm you as you are now. Xander, I already told you that you were a unique case Halloween night due to your hyena possession. It was not the intent of the spell, malicious prank as it was, to cause such strong or permanent effects,” Giles quickly reassured. “Now what was your other reason for ‘Cure’ being so potent?”
“He doesn’t have any immunity to magick,” Xander answered but at Giles’s confused look realized this was another difference between magick and magic. “People are exposed to mist and magick in Ivalice on a daily basis practically from birth. After a while one naturally develops an immunity to it. I don’t know about how much Mist Earth has beyond Sunnydale but I don’t think it’s as abundant here as it was on Ivalice. I had to knowingly search for Mist in order to even start
building up the energy to cast Cure. I’m probably the only person on this planet to have discovered it and have the knowledge to use it effectively.” (5)
“I see,” Giles murmured in a way that reminded Xander of the way Willow would grow quiet as she thought through a difficult problem. Deep thinking apparently required quiet. “What does that mean for the combat magick you said you learned from Balthier?”
Xander felt like his eyes were going to pop out of his skull as the implications settled in. Of course he relaxed slightly when he remembered magick only effected the target. More than once Balthier could recall his companions fighting one thing or another in melee while another cast powerful spells upon the enemy. Chances were Xander would not have blown up the library if he tried to cast fire like he was originally planning.
“Uh, maybe when I try casting Black magick I should do it outside, in a graveyard. If only so I don’t alarm witnesses,” Xander finally uttered. It was amazing just how powerful the spells Balthier thought were ‘simple’, ‘basic’, and ‘weak’ in Ivalice might be on Earth. It was also more than a little intimidating. Originally Xander was planning to share his knowledge with Giles and anyone that asked. Now he had to worry about what someone would do with such power.I feel like I'm Peter Parker.
“Yes, I quite agree,” Giles said, startling Xander from his thoughts but his expression showed he was following Xander’s train of thought; probably without the comic book references.
The sat in silence for some time after that, each lost in their own thoughts.
Imperial City of Archades, Bunansa Residence, y696
The hour was late, or rather extremely early, when Dr. Cid returned home. His entrance seemed more like that of a thief than owner of the residence.
"Good evening father, or should I say morning given the hour?" Ffamran inquired with as much calm and faux innocence as he could muster.
"Ffamran? What are you doing up so late? You should be in bed my boy-" Dr.Cid stated as soon as he relaxed from being startled.
"And you should have been home hours ago, father. Mother was doing well today, she kept asking for you," Ffamran interjected not wanting a lecture on his
habits when his father's were much worse
. "She's dying and when her mind is clear she asked for you but you're never here! Gods father, is your work so important you cannot spend a few hours with her?"
Cid looked away from him, playing with his monocle. His shoulders were hunched in shame and Ffamran was disgusted with this poor figure of a father. "Your mother... her condition is very hard to witness."
"So you hide away in your lab and leave me to keep her company! Do you think that makes anything better?" Ffamran yelled, wincing along with his father at the volume. It was too odd an hour for raised voices.
"No. I don't want to hear it. Either be here for mother or don't be here at all," Ffamran snapped but managed to keep his voice low.
He left his father in the foyer then, ignoring his father's calls for his return. (5)
Sunnydale, Sunnydale Hospital, present
“Geeze Xander, what did you do to Ford to land him in the hospital for hours?” Buffy jokingly asked as she, Willow, and Miss Calendar joined them in the waiting area.
Xander felt saying a ‘simple and basic’ healing spell was not going to be accepted and at this point he was getting tired of repeating himself. Besides, at this point Xander now knew that was hardly the case. “Giles and I have been studying Balthier’s brand of magick since I wanted to be able to use it here. I was finally able to find some of the energy source I needed- “ he indicated his jewelry much to Buffy’s amusement and the others’ puzzlement. “- and decided to try a healing spell on Ford since it was safest,” Xander explained. “He was okay with it!” he added when he saw Buffy’s displeasure. “Giles walked in shortly after and decided taking Ford to get checked up to measure the results and ensure nothing harmful happened. As you can see, we’re still here.”
Eventually Buffy nodded acceptance and took the remaining next seat to Xander. “Ford’s parents will be in town soon to pick him up. My mom’s waiting for them back at my place, she’s going to bring them here,” she explained.
“Giles, why isn’t Xander in trouble?” Willow asked after a moment.
“Pardon?” Giles asked obviously confused.
“Well, it’s just- last night you and Miss Calendar yelled at me for recklessly endangering myself and others by trying to learn magic. So why isn’t Xander?” Willow asked calmly but Xander could sense the storm beneath.
“Willow, the magic you were trying to learn and the magick Xander is focusing on are very different. At the core, Xander’s magick relies on an entirely alien energy source to the magic Miss Calendar and I know. His is… safer, for lack of a better term, because of this. While I am displeased he cast magick on Ford without supervision, Xander otherwise took the best precautions he could if I understand his magick system accurately,” Giles said carefully, obviously trying not to upset Willow.
“So why can't I learn Xander's magick then?" Willow asked, obviously annoyed at perceived double-standards.
Xander laughed, "Could you put up with me long enough to learn?"
Willow frowned. "You? But why not-"
"Because I'm the only one that knows how to cast magick and very little at that. So even if you learned magick from me you'd still have to learn magic from Giles and Jenny to supplement your repertoire. Assuming I would agree to teach you of course," Xander smiled but there was nothing nice in it.
Xander was sure Willow was about to protest more except Ford finally, finally, joined them in the waiting area.
"Whoa, I'm more popular than I remembered," he commented wryly as he took in everyone's presence.
"Ford! You're okay! You are okay... right?" Buffy asked worriedly, eagerly hugging her friend. Apparently attempted murder was an easily forgiven offense in Buffy's books. No wonder she and Angel were making things work.
"For a guy still dying of cancer, I'm in surprisingly amazing health. Doctors think I should give chemo a shot, it might help and I can deal with looking like Professor X if it saves my life," Ford admitted with a shrug and wide smile. (6)
"That's great! I got to call my mom, let her know you're out. I'll be right back," Buffy said before rushing off to the nearest payphone.
"Don't take this the wrong way but, I'm really glad I didn't cure your cancer," Xander said after a moment of awkward silence.
"Yeah, I can see why," Ford agreed easily, relaxed. "Still, no consequences? I don't owe some demon my soul now do I?"
Xander could see more than one person give Ford a hard look at that. Really, why worry about your demon owning your soul when you were willing to become a vampire to avoid dying? Ford smiled sheepishly under their unimpressed looks.
"No, no consequences like that. What side-effects there was were on me and they were minor," Xander reassured to everyone. It wouldn't do to get Giles and Miss Calendar worried.
"Well, this day has been unexpectedly long and tiring. Now that we know all is well may I suggest we all go home for the day? Xander and Willow, we'll discuss your magic lessons tomorrow," Giles suggested, as he gratefully stood and stretched.
"My lessons? I thought I was self-studying," Xander questioned but he knew what Giles meant. Until Xander had a firm grasp on his magick, Giles was not going to let him practice alone. It was nice to have an adult around that cared.
1- FF12 has a calendar. Balthier was 22 at the time of the game (706). He's about 12 here.
2- Balthier was originally named Ffamran mied Bunansa. I'd change my name too.
3- Cidolfus, aka Dr. Cid, Balthier's father.
4- Not much is known about Balthier's family besides his father. It's assumed that the two are the surviving members of the family with Balthier's mother and two older brothers deceased by the time of FF12.
5 - Yes, I know Ffamran/Balthier comes across very mature for his age but he became a Judge at sixteen. Later that same year he ran away with a prototype military purpose airship and became the sky pirate Balthier. It's subtle but in the game you can see Balthier inherited his father's brains.
6 - I'm treating this scenario as casting cure on a poisoned party member. It does not cure the poison status affliction, only removes damage it has caused. Until poison is treated/fades it will continue to cause damage making cure something of a stop-gap measure if you're an idiot like me that never has enough antidotes before the white-magick spells to heal poison become available.