A/N: In response to my reviews:
the dj experiment: Whether Seifer was possessed or not is debateable. They never actually say he was and many people have differing opinions. I might be wrong about Edea though I can’t see how she wasn’t. That was certainly my take on the game -;;.
chibicherrychan: I hate Rinoa. Is it that obvious…sorry…She just got in the way during the game for me -.-. Stood in the way of their relationship even then.
NightShadow131: That could just be the best compliment I have ever received even if you didn’t mean for it to come off that way. You read my fic in one sitting? I’ve done the same of course but someone wasted three straight hours of their life reading my fic? My, my the ego boost.
Please keep reviewing! I appreciate all my reviews…save of course for flames…Keep the criticism constructive.
Chapter Nineteen - Hatred's Prelude to Tragedy
The days had flown by and now that the week was over Fujin was due back at her garden. The days seemed to drag on there. How was it that when she was finally enjoying herself time seemed to work all the harder to catch up? It simply wasn’t fair. Currently she sat at the end of her bed. Having packed her things before Rajin woke she was simply taking her time to reflect.
She and Raijin had slept in the same room though in separate beds of course. Fujin barely let him kiss her let alone do anything more. Raijin knew better than to argue. Now he was sleeping soundly. She looked over momentarily and smiled. Her pride was valuable to her but things had gone well aside from how stubborn she was with any idea of romance.
She had never had…well…a boyfriend before and now that she was dating, well, it was quite nice. She was actually thankful Seifer had said something though she would never admit to it. Wait, Seifer? Fujin blanched. They had forgotten all about him in these last few days. Surely he hadn’t gone back to him garden without bidding him goodbye. Standing she rushed to the window. She could vaguely make out the outline of the Ragnarok in the distance and the young woman breathed a sigh of relief but couldn’t calm herself. Something didn’t feel right.
She looked back to find Rajin propped up on his elbows. He had just woken and at the moment seemed somewhat concerned by her troubled expression “SEIFER.”
Raijin jumped up and rushed to the window “Oh, good the air ship’s still there. Don’t do that. You had me worried, ya know?”
Fujin went to pull on the blue jacket she had left near the door “I want to see him Raijin. I am worried.”
He nodded, studying her closely. When Fujin actually went to the trouble of using whole sentences what she had to say was generally well worth listening to “What’s wrong Fuj?”
She shook her head as she buttoned her jacket, leaving the collar open “I don’t know. Seifer should have come to visit us by now.”
“You miss him?”
Fujin looked to Raijin, noting the somewhat nervous expression upon his face “Of course,” she gave him one of her rare smiles as she approached “I missed both of you before now. We were a team,” she placed a pale hand to Raijin’s tanned cheek “I love both of you, Seifer’s like a brother to me. We should have gone looking for him before now.”
“You love him like a brother?” Raijin smiled “What does that mean you love me like Fuj?”
She drew her hand back quickly, scowling once more “IDIOT,” she headed towards the door again.
“C’mon Fuj!” he called as she left “I’m worried about Seifer too ya know! Wait up!” snatching his vest from the night stand he hurried after her.
Seifer had left Winhill that night and used what money he had on him to by boat tickets. Now he sat on one of the lower levels, lying back on one of the sofas. The ship was empty despite several other people and they were above deck. It was doubtful they would come down here. He was relieved that he could be alone, barely think straight as it was. He didn’t want to worry about others seeing him in this condition. There had been enough stares when he had limped aboard. Though he looked considerably better than he had the night before, both eyes were black, one swollen. He had a split lip and quite a few bruises. His limp also gave one the impression that a few ribs had been broken. Not that any of this was affecting him half as much as what Squall had said…or rather didn’t say…
He winced. The mere thought of it made him feel sick. He hadn’t had a chance to truly think about things until now and he almost wished he was still only angry “Squall,” a gloved hand covered his eyes. Damnit, he should have never fallen in love. He had been a fool for believing this would work out. It was doubtful anyone could have such strong feelings for him after everything he had done but his life-long enemy love him? Ha. He was an idiot. Now he had to move on. Squall was going to marry Rinoa and there was nothing he could do concerning the matter. Go back to hating Squall.
‘You never hated him.’
“What do I know?” he growled, rolling over on his side despite the pain. It actually managed to calm him at least away from the point of tears. Despite this he still couldn’t help but think about Squall. Without him things would go back to the way they had been. His eyes widened. That thought was unbearable. He wished Squall had never come back into his life. That bastard had done his best to change things for the better. He had given him happiness and now he had snatched it away. Seifer had fallen back down to the miserable life he had lived before and now, if possible, he had slipped even lower. If Squall had felt anything for him he wouldn’t have let something like this happen. He would have at least let Seifer down easier, right? This wasn’t fair. He felt tears coming to his eyes. How could he! Everyone he cared about was taken away. At least Fujin and Raijin hadn’t had a choice. But that was a different sort of companionship...How was he supposed to go on living without Squall?...
“Woah Fuj, calm down,” Raijin had lifted his girlfriend off the ground and had just managed to drag the struggling female out of the Ragnarok. Well that had gone well hadn’t it? After going to the airship to look for Seifer they hadn’t been greeted with open arms. That was when Rinoa had accounted for what had been done to Seifer. Needless to say Fujin’s resolve had been lost and before Raijin could restrain her, she landed one good punch to Rinoa’s jaw.
Fuijin was shaking now, furious that she was being restrained.
“You’re the brains remember? Ya gotta keep your head ya know.” Raijin released her once they were a reasonable distance from the air ship. Fujin only took a deep breath and slowly nodded.
“SORRY,” she closed her eye and smoothed back her hair. Within moments she was calm once more.
“We don’t have to go back to our gardens just yet ya know?” he began slowly “I never really had much interest in becoming a SEED anyway. I’m going to head to Balamb. If I don’t stay long they probably won’t notice.”
Fujin looked up and nodded again “I’M COMING.”
“I knew you would,” Raijin took the pale, young woman’s hand “You miss the old days as much as I do.”
Another nod and she was headed back towards their hotel room. It was still early morning and her bags had been packed before hand. They would leave this afternoon. Seifer needed them, she was sure of it.
“What’s wrong with you?” Selphie frowned, tapping Zell’s chin and trying to coax her boyfriend to look upwards. It was afternoon and night was falling soon. Selphie had planned a proper part for Rinoa and Squall before they were forced to return to Blamb Garden the next morning.
Zell looked up reluctantly and merely shrugged “I dunno,” he lied sulkily “I just don’t feel well Selphie, you guys go on without me.”
Selphie’s frown deepened “But I want you to come,” she insisted “You look fine to me.”
“Sorry,” he responded irritably, standing and moving into the bedrooms.
Selphie didn’t follow; she knew that was where Squall was changing.
“Ah!” Squall looked up startled and quickly pulled on his white dress-shirt completely. Realizing it was Zell he quickly turned the other way.
He didn’t say anything at first, merely sitting upon the edge of the bed nearest him. At last he broke the awkward silence “You know…I’d really be the last one to say this…I mean, I can’t stand the bastard…But this isn’t right man…”
Squall winced but quickly banished the pain from his face as he faced his friend “That was the wrong way to go about things…but it would have happened eventually…I don’t love him.”
Zell didn’t seem convinced “You love Rinoa?”
He hesitated before answering and the best he could really come up with was a shrug “Rinoa loves me. She’s kind and…well…
“The kind of girl your daddy and everyone else expects you to marry,” Zell finished dully.
Squall frowned but continued as if nothing had been said “Seifer’s not really the sort of person you settle down with. We slept together, not much more than that. But…he’s…”
“Embarrassing, too risky to be involved with, a guy?”
“Who’s side are you on anyway?” Squall snapped “I thought you were my friend. You said yourself that you didn’t like Seifer.”
“I like him more than you right now,” Zell mumbled under his breath and lay down on the bed.
Squall was clearly stuck by the comment. It was true, deep down even he couldn’t stand himself right now “What would you have me do Zell? Take back my proposal to Rinoa?”
Zell sighed. He loved Rinoa, she was a good friend. He didn’t want her hurt either…but…”I’m not you Squall. I only know half of the story. You know what’s right better than I do.”
There was another long, drawn out silence before Squall pulled his coat on “I wish I did,” he muttered, before crossing the room and leaving completely.
Zell groaned and leaned his head back to meet a soft mew from the pillow “I don’t know,” he sighed, he reached over a picked up the small kitten, placing it on his chest “Who do you blame?”
“We’ve sent students home,” Edea said, taking a seat on the sofa in her husband’s office. She was beginning to show her age. With such stress upon her it was no surprise that she constantly seemed tired now “At least those who have a home.”
Cid nodded, standing from his desk and moving to sit beside her “Most of our students don’t have homes,” he seconded “What about the autopsy?”
Her expression saddened “Ellone’s hands were cut by the glass she had dropped. The blood they found was coagulated. She didn’t bleed until she was dead…in other words not until she was out of the coma state the others were in…“
“So that means it is as we had feared,” he sighed but didn’t wait for an answer before continuing “Do you know what can be done yet?”
“I’m afraid not,” she smiled sadly “By all reason it cannot be destroyed. We could abandon this place but then it would no longer be contained…But we cannot put the lives of our students in danger either…”
“I suppose either way this is the end of Blamb Garden,” Cid seemed angry now but Edea made no effort to calm him. He had every right to be angry.
“We’ve been through worse,” she said at last. She wasn’t sure she believed her own words. They had lost so many. More had died and the SeeD patrols were doing no good. They couldn’t. Now they were merely to keep the remainder of students left from worrying.
Cid shook his head “I don’t know what to do,” he admitted, looking over to meet Edea’s eyes. She smiled reassuringly and kissed him. It was clear she had her doubts as well.
It had taken them several days to get to Balamb Garden without the aide of an airship. Surely Squall was back by now. Clearly that was also what Seifer had hoped when Fujin knocked on his door. She noted how the hope in his eyes rushed away as he saw his two old floors at the door instead of a certain former lover.
“SEIFER,” Fujin put her foot in the door before he could close it. Her hardened expression had melted to one of worry as she looked him over. He looked as if he were deathly ill. He’d lost weight and looked almost nothing like his former self.
“The hell are you two doing here?” he did his best to at least sound as if this wasn’t affecting him but even his tone was sad and slightly weak.
“Fujin was worried, ya know,” Raijin looked Seifer over as well, looking up just in time to catch a glare from the woman beside him “…Well…we were both worried.”
“You’ll be in trouble if they catch you,” Seifer left the door open as he walked away. Fujin took this as an invite and entered, Raijin not far behind.
“He’s not worth it,” Fujin said as the door closed behind her. Nothing was worth seeing Seifer like this.
“What do you know?” Seifer snapped, entering his bedroom. He lowered his voice as he took a seat on the mattress “I’ve tried to forget about him…but I love him…I still fucking love the little bastard. Who do I have without him?”
“Well,” Raijin scratched the back of his head. He wasn’t used to these sort of situations and felt awkward in them “You have us, ya know,” he sighed, relaxing a bit as Fujin nodded in approval. Seifer doubled over, covering his face with his hands. He did have his friends. He could leave the garden with them. There was nothing for him here after all. As he looked up Raijin was given a start. Tears were in their leader’s eyes. He had never seen Seifer cry. He had assumed such a thing impossible. Fujin was surprisingly more understanding and Raijin merely stood back as she sat down beside Seifer and wrapped her arms around him.
“Fuck,” Seifer grumbled, attempting to pull away although he found himself considerably weaker than usual “This is humiliating.”
Raijin had gone to find something for dinner. He resolved on cooking something simple, which was nothing more than meat and rice “You want some dinner?” he asked, entering the bedroom again. He looked to Fujin who nodded. She was still sitting on the bed, holding onto Seifer though now he was asleep and partially in her lap. Raijin winced “Is he sick?”
Fujin carefully shifted Seifer back onto the bed and stood “Something like that,” she said softly, looking to Seifer once more before ushering Raijin back into the living room.
“All because of Squall huh?” Raijin had a sad expression upon his face. Who was he supposed to look up to now? He wanted the old Seifer back. Fujin nodded once more and Raijin swallowed nervously “Will he get over it?”
“I hope so,” she sounded incredibly doubtful “…Seifer’s nothing now…and it’s all Squall’s fault.”
Raijin had never seen Fujin so furious but even he could relate. If he saw Squall again he certainly wouldn’t be able to restrain Fujin…or himself for that matter…
Squall walked along the halls, late that night. Soon he would be going on patrol but right now he had something to attend to first. The kitten was cradled in his arms, playfully batting at his shoulder as he hurried along. Rinoa had all but insisted he get rid of it…more politely than simply saying this of course but she had forced him all the same…Angelo had no intention of sharing his master’s room with a feline regardless of how small she was.
He had resolved to see if Seifer wanted the kitten. This would also give him an opportunity to apologize though he certainly wasn’t looking forward to the confrontation. He found the room quickly and easily, shifting the kitten to knock lightly on the door.
Inside Fujin and Rajin were fast asleep on the floor, a makeshift pallet of blankets and pillows beneath them. Seifer was just waking up. Hearing the knock on the door he silently made his way through the living room. Opening the door his eyes widened momentarily in shock then he quickly moved from his dorm room, closing it behind him. He didn’t want to wake Fujin or Raijin. This was between Squall and he.
Squall found it harder to speak than he had originally planned. He saw the hopeful look in Seifer’s eyes and felt his heart sink “Are you all right?” he asked, doing his best to hide the concern in his tone. His clothes were indeed looser on him than Squall remembered. There was also a sad expression on his face. It looked as if he had been crying. Squall certainly wasn’t familiar with this side of Squall. It made him feel guilty
As Seifer spoke up it drew Squall’s eyes up to meet the other’s “Oh,” he said softly, realizing that he had been silent up until now “I, ah, was wondering if you would mind taking care of her,” he held out the kitten. Her eyes had opened completely by now and she had no problem connecting Seifer with one of her first blurry visions several days before. The kitten mewed happily even though Seifer seemed disappointed.
“That’s all?” he asked, his tone more desperate than angry.
Squall hesitated, looking down for a moment “I wanted to apologize as well,” he said slowly, forcing himself to look back up “What I did was cruel...I really am sorry...”
“…Are you still…” Seifer couldn’t bring himself to finish that sentence and instead reached out and took the kitten instead, opening the door momentarily and setting it inside.
Squall also seemed hesitant to continue that train of thought “…going to marry Rinoa?...” he didn’t wait for a response in the affirmative before nodding “I proposed to her. After the trouble here has died down we’re going to have a ceremony in Deling.”
“But you don’t love her!” Seifer shouted now. He wasn’t sure of much anymore but he was sure Squall wasn’t in love with Rinoa.
“How do you know!” Squall responded, a little angrier than he’d intended to sound. This was hard enough for him as it was. He didn’t need Seifer making it any harder “I do love Rinoa!”
Seifer seemed angry now and took a step forward, clearly frightening the shorter young man before him “When we slept together you said-“
“I said I thought I loved you!” he finished, surprised by his own nerve “It was lust if anything. I never loved you and I never will Seifer. I’m marrying Rinoa, that’s the end of it. I can here to apologize but if you’re not going to accept anything I’m saying then-“
“Hell Squall, if you suddenly hate me just say it,” Seifer’s cool was back now though it was certainly just a front “You love me more than you love Rinoa. You were going to tell her about us the night you ‘proposed’ to her. It doesn’t make any sense Squall. You’re not the sort of person to sleep with someone without any sort of feelings for them what-so-ever. You have to feel something for me.”
Squall was sick of this “You can’t just decide what I feel. Maybe I do hate you.”
Seifer was taken aback for a moment. He froze but managed to smirk. At least he hadn’t lost that “You think you feel a lot of things though. Commit to one or the other Squall.”
“Fine!” he met Seifer’s eyes again; this time his own were furious and piercing “I do hate you! I don’t know what I was thinking when we slept together. I was venerable then. My sister had just died.”
Seifer backed up against the door now as if Squall had suddenly placed the gunblade in hand to his chest “But before-“
“Before I felt sorry for you,” Squall said quickly. He’d come up with an excuse for everything “For all I know you are the one killing the students. At least helping whatever it is anyway. It wouldn’t be the first time. You’re nothing but-“ he reeled back as Seifer punched him. Squall raised his gunblade in retaliation “Trying to prove my point?” he asked, rubbing his jaw as Seifer took a step back “You always did handle things this way,” his fingers touched his scar before falling away. When no answer came he looked back to Seifer. The blonde had seemingly crumbled to the ground in defeat. Squall regretted saying anything. He’d meant to apologize. This wasn’t his fault. Seifer had brought it on himself. Yes, he was sure, at least in his mind that he now hated Seifer but even so he knew his words had been out of line. His lips parted as if to form an apology but instead he merely watched Seifer a moment longer, his jade green eyes refusing to meet the now icy blue of his former lover’s. Had what he said really had this harsh an effect? He didn’t allow his mind to dwell on the matter. Casting Seifer one last, passive look, he vanished around the corner of the hallway.
“SEIFER,” it was Fujin’s voice that spilled out as she cautiously opened the door. Raijin was right behind her, startled to find Seifer collapsed against a wall. The blonde got to his feet quickly, rushing into the dorm room. The kitten padded after him in confusion though she was the only one to follow. Fujin and Raijin didn’t have to guess what was going on “UNFORGIVEABLE,” Fujin ran in the direction she had last heard footsteps. Raijin closed the dorm room door, shaking his head. How had things ever come to this? He still followed without much hesitation and a crossing a hallway brought him to Fujin.
Squall stopped as the female’s fingers closed around the back of his SeeD uniform collar. He faced her, his expression empty as he waited for her to speak first.
“What did you say!” she demanded, catching Squall slightly off guard by using a complete sentence. She’d been talking more these last few days. She hadn’t been given much other choice.
“I told him the truth,” Seifer didn’t pull away and managed to keep eye contact “I told Seifer that I hated him.”
This caused Fujin’s concentration to waver. How could he be so cold? He had been near emotionless before but never this cruel. This couldn’t be the real Squall. Surely it was just an act. He was trying to fool her, Seifer, everyone including himself. She shook her head “You don’t mean that.” He attempting to pull away but Fujin held fast “You may not love Seifer…but you certainly don’t hate him…”
Squall’s resolve was wearing thin and he pulled away from Fujin, violently this time. She stumbled back as he pushed her but Raijin was only a few steps back. He caught the young woman with one arm and struck Squall across the face with the other. It was instinct that caused Squall to draw his gunblade in retaliation and though he had no intention of using it that did not stop him from using the weapon as a shield when Raijin attempted to punch him again.
The young man quickly pulled his hand back again, placing a palm over bloodied knuckles after striking steel. Fujin had recovered by then and was too furious to restrain herself. She tackled Squall, knowing he wouldn’t dare attack her as she had no weapon. Indeed Squall moved the gunblade to one side and dropped it as she tackled him. His breath left in a sharp hiss as his head connected with the ground. There was no time to take another breath, Fujin climbed on top of him and pinned him down with her knees. Without a second thought she punched him. The fight didn’t take long to escalate though not by much. Squall rolled over and they switched positions several times before he remembered Raijin. He would had no chance of winning with Raijin here. As his confidence faltered so did his strength and Fujin found her way back to the top. Squall’s eyes widened instead of closing in preparation for another strike. If Raijin was here now why wasn’t he helping? Fujin couldn’t take Squall on her own; he knew that much for a fact. But Raijin hadn’t stepped so much as uttered a syllable for that matter. That was when darkness moved in his blurred range of vision. Fujin punched him again but didn’t manage to repeat the motion before he could raise his head “Raijin!”
The female on top of him froze, pulling back her arm and spinning around. Indeed a familiar mass of darkness was only a step away now. It loomed over them both, casting a sickening sensation over both she and Squall in favor of shadow. But Fujin wasn’t concerned with the creature at that moment. Her good eye scanned the hallway and soon fixed upon Raijin. He lie only a yard or so away, motionless on the floor. Though he was on the other side of the creature it wasn’t hard to make out his body through the hazy mist that created the thing between them. She pushed off from the floor in the direction of Rajin but stopped centimeters short of tearing through his attacker as Squall caught her arm “Don’t!” he managed, scrambling to his feet attempting to run away. Raijin was in a coma at best. He knew there was nothing they could do for him and nothing they could do to defeat this thing for that matter. The best he could do was to get Fujin and himself away. “Rajin!” it wasn’t her normal, stoic, one word reply and Squall winced at the agony in her voice.
“We’ve got to get out of here!” Squall put his weight against hers and Fujin was forced to stumble after him. He even managed to get her to the end of the hallway until her pale hand slid from his own “Damnit!” he cursed, running back after her as she darted back towards the creature. Fujin had been away from the garden for a long while now and knew next to nothing about this thing though she clearly knew enough not to touch it. Squall held his breath as Fujin dove past its side, tumbling behind it. She rolled to a stop, getting to her feet though she didn’t straighten before rushing to Rajin and fastening her arms around his chest. Squall gave a short lived sigh of relief and followed after her again. The darkness had yet to move, as if it were considering which human to go after next. Squall looked to Fujin one last time. She was pulling Raijin away, looking back for anywhere to hide. She wouldn’t be quick enough. Part of him wished to turn away and run but Squall rushed towards the creature as well. He reached for his gunblade just before it, hoping to distract the thing. He knew he could get away…but the darkness seemed to sense this as well…Fujin collapsed wordlessly as the black haze moved through her then dissipated as if it had merely been a hallucination.
Squall stood frozen, attempting to manage a grasp on reality once more. Enough sense returned to him to check on both Fujin and Raijin. He dropped to his knees at Raijin’s side. He was lying on his back again though Fujin’s arms were now wrapped around his chest from when she had been attempting to pull him to safety. Now she was in the same state as was though she had only collapsed to her knees, doubled over Raijin, her head resting upon his left shoulder. “No, no, no,” Squall repeated this softly, his voice shaking as much as his hand as he reached out to check both of their pulses.
“Don’t bother,” came a woman’s voice, soft and slightly pained “They’re already dead.”
A/N: Don’t stop reading! Hey, come back! If you’ve committed to the story for this long don’t give up on me now, I am going somewhere with this. Don’t worry. If the writing wasn’t up to par it’s because I’m mostly asleep right now. This was the only chance I got to write with all the school work I’ve had lately. I blame your reviews on my latest chapter for my lack of sleep. Not that I’m complaining. Please keep reviewing! It doesn’t take long to review and it means the world to me. This fic doesn’t have long to go so please just see it through.
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