Author's Notes: This story is one of the LONGEST I've ever written. All I wanted was to write a short story that would bring Seifer and Squall together and it somehow turned into this gigantic thing. ^^;; Probably because I was engaged in an on-going quest to pair them up differently than most other stories do. It didn't come out nearly as original as I had hoped, but I'm still pretty happy with the way it did turn out. I'll probably write another story for them down the road and try something different, but this will have to do for now.
Warning: This story contains yaoi/shounen-ai material. If you do not know what the terms 'yaoi' or 'shounen-ai' mean, then you probably have no business being here. If you are uncomfortable with boyxboy love, then you probably shouldn't be here. You have been warned. This story takes place after the game's end, so if you haven't finished it, you probably shouldn't read it as it does contain spoilers.
From the Beginning
Chapter One - A Life of Anonymity
His name was Seifer Almasy.
Or, at least, it used to be.
He'd kept the Seifer part, it would have been far too difficult for Raijin to keep his name straight if he'd changed it completely. So he'd just changed the last name. Exchanged Almasy for Maho. Sure, it sounded dumb. Seifer Maho. But, it wasn't the sort of name people questioned. After all, who in their right mind would change their name TO Maho? It was a dumb name, one which Seifer hated with a passion, but at least it wasn't Almasy. At least no one supposed that Seifer Maho was really Seifer Almasy, the Sorceress' Knight.
Changing his name hadn't made it any easier for him to sleep at night, but at least it afforded him the small bit of peace which kept him sane.
A name change had kept people from making the obvious connection on paper. A few tattoos, a bit of make-up, a pair of eyeglasses he didn't really need and a different hairstyle had kept people from making the obvious physical connection. And his aloof, standoffish nature kept people from asked unwanted questions.
Fujin called it 'hiding in plain sight', Seifer just called it surviving.
He survived through anonymity.
He worked in an ordinary job, paid his ordinary bills, lived in an ordinary, if somewhat shabby, apartment and basically made every effort to not stand out in any way. To blend in with the rest of society. Something which was so totally unlike the person he'd once been, that he hoped no one would ever figure it all out.
Soon after the time compression, Seifer had discovered the hard way that not everyone believed in forgiving and forgetting. In those days, he had been living in Balamb, near his former home of Balamb Garden, in the hope of living a peaceful life and maybe, one day, making peace with the people he'd hurt most. But, he'd been too well-known in Balamb. Young soldiers had come on a daily basis to test their metal against the now legendary Sorceress' Knight. Tough men had come seeking revenge for friends and loved ones inadvertently killed by his wayward ambition. It didn't matter to them that he'd been controlled, used.
Seifer couldn't really blame them for hating him and that made it difficult to fight them, for he'd never fought to hurt them, only to defend himself. It had cost him dearly, nearly getting him killed more than once. Scars lined his chest and arms from those days in Balamb, but they did not compare to the deep long scars that had been inflicted on him in later days.
He had been in Balamb with Fujin and Raijin for about a month when they came. Galbadian soldiers. They had come with orders from their new President to bring the sorceress' knight to stand trial for the crimes he had committed during the Sorceress' reign. Fujin and Raijin had done their best to fight them off, but when it had become obvious that they would be unable to stand against the onslaught much longer, Seifer had given himself up willingly.
He shuttered to remember the long days he'd spent in D-District prison, waiting to find out if he would leave there alive or dead. He was fortunate. Though he was sentenced to death, they had delayed the execution in order to make it more public. To announce it to the world and have the world watch in wonder as they righted their past wrongs and brought about a new era by sacrificing the one person alive who could stand as a symbol for the things they had done for the sake of power. All in the name of justice. If he hadn't been their human sacrifice, Seifer probably would have found it pretty damn funny. Fortunately, the delay gave Fujin and Raijin the time they needed to infiltrate the prison and break him out and in return he quite happily gave them the beating of their lives for putting themselves in such danger.
Together they had fled to Esthar which, Fujin stated quite calmly, was the most logically place to hide. After all, it was the only city large enough that, with a bit of a makeover, even the infamous Sorceress' Knight to lose himself in the crowd.
Raijin had a few friends in Fisherman's Horizon, who had given Seifer the thick black tattoos that wound across his arms in order to cover the worst of his visible scars. Fujin had redone his hair herself, dying the tips red and re-styling it before ordering him to let it grow out. Then she had bought him a pair of eyeglasses which he didn't actually need and a bit of make-up to cover the scar that marred his handsome face.
After all that it had been a simple enough task for him to find a job in a small bookstore that didn't care who he was as long as he did his what he was told. Since that time, he had been careful to keep a low-profile, develop a strict routine and avoid anyone who might recognize him for who he truly was like the plague. Concentrating on surviving kept him sane, kept him from dwelling too much on that time. The time when he'd hurt everyone he'd ever truly cared about.... and enjoyed it.
That's what most people didn't, couldn't, understand. Fujin and Raijin both understood that he was under the sorceress' control most of that terrible time, but he couldn't bear to tell them the rest of it. How the sorceress had played upon his true desires and dreams, twisting them about until he no longer knew which way was up. They thought he hadn't really known what he was doing that whole time... but they were wrong. He had known. He had known everything he was doing from torturing Squall to throwing Rinoa into the arms of Adel. And he'd done it all willingly. Hell, even eagerly. Just to please her, because it was her wish. But the worst of it all was that he'd thought everything he was doing was right and just. He'd enjoyed it. Loved the feeling of power that surged through him as he acted on her behalf. When he thought too much about that time, he found he couldn't stop shaking. It was as if he were addicted to some strange, exotic drug. In those hard months afterwards, he had wanted that feeling again so badly that he would have happily killed everyone he'd ever met just to capture one last taste of it's powerful elixir. It was a terrifying feeling. It was the feeling of being unbalanced, no longer in control of his own body or mind. It had gotten better, gradually, but there were times even now when he found himself questioning his motivations. Were his thoughts truly his own? His actions? His desires? Was there anything left in his life that he could truly call his own?
So he had developed a routine, a daily schedule which made him feel safe and in control. He always awoke before dawn, performing the functions of getting ready for work as if they were sacred rituals. He would then leave for work at precisely 7:55am and walk the sixty-seven steps to the bookstore in which he worked to arrive there at precisely 8am. After putting in a full day's work, he would leave the store at 5pm and walk the sixty-seven steps back to his small apartment where he would take a shower, undress and occasionally eat something before he retired to stare at the television until precisely 10pm. At 10pm he would turn off the television and the lights and haul himself off to bed where he would stare at the ceiling until he fell asleep.
Occasionally, Fujin or Raijin would force him to break the monotony of his routine, or at least they would try to force him to break the monotony of his routine. Sometimes they won and he'd go out with them to eat or watch a movie in a nice, dark theater, but most times he refused them and they pouted for a while, then sat with him watching television until he went to bed. Tonight, however, was probably not one of those nights. Fujin and Raijin both had a look of determination in their eyes which was totally unlike them.
"Yo! Seifer, man, you know..."
"GOING OUT." Fujin declared in her usual no-nonsense tone.
"Listen, I don't really..." Seifer began, fully prepared to give one of his usual excuses when Fujin grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet.
"Fujin's right, ya know. Ya always have some excuse for not comin' out with us to the club, ya know. It just ain't healthy to be spending this much time inside like ya been doin'." Raijin added, giving Seifer a shove in the direction of his bedroom. "Now go change into something ya can dance in so we can go, ya know."
Seifer sighed, knowing defeat when he experienced it. "Fine. I'll be out in a minute."
Still obviously unhappy with the prospect of going out at all, much less to a club where there were huge groups of people, Seifer trudged reluctantly off into his room to change, shutting his door firmly behind him.
"Think we're doin' the right think, ya know, pushin' him like this?"
"AFFIRMATIVE." Fujin declared, folding her arms across her ample chest. Her voice dropped to softer tones when she next spoke. "I'm tired of waiting for him to decide he's punished himself enough. He needs to get out more. It's not good for him like this."
"Alright, if ya think that's best, ya know." Raijin muttered, starring at Seifer's closed door with a helpless expression on his
face.Fujin turned suddenly, giving Raijin a swift kick in the shin. He yelped, leaping backwards in case Fujin thought to try and get another kick in. "That hurt, ya know! Why'd ya have to go and do that, ya know!?"
"Ya didn't have to kick me just to tell me that, ya know!"
His blond hair had grown out a bit since those awkward days after he'd first moved here and his bangs hung messily across his pale forehead. Together with a dab of concealer and the eyeglasses he now wore on a regular basis, they made the scar which marred his face practically invisible. The black tattoos which coiled up his arms from wrist to shoulder like a pair of well-trained snakes hid his many scars. Leather pants and a plain white t-shirt displayed his slim figure, which, though still finely toned was perhaps now a bit too thin. No longer the warrior's body it had once been, not even close. The only thing about his appearance that linked him to his past was the necklace he wore round his neck. A copy of the red cross which had adorned the sleeves of his beloved trenchcoat. He would have kept the trenchcoat to, but he had used it to bargain for his freedom with a Galbadian soldier who had spotted him in Fisherman's Horizon. But, the cross he wore now did the job of reminding him of the things he had done and person he had been quite nicely in it's place. Satisfied with his appearance, Seifer turned and snagged a long, black coat from it's hook beside his bedroom door and headed out to rejoin his friends.
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