Stitch In Time
By Scarlet Fever
The smell of fire hit his nostrils fully. It was mingled with the smell of burning flesh and blood. They were standing in a field, fire illuminating the night sky. Despite the warmth given off by the flames, Seifer felt cold, his body shivering from more than the temperature. It took him a moment to notice that his hand was the only thing warm on his body. He looked down at it. His small hand was being held by another one, not much larger than his own.
"I’m scared," he whispered, his voice sounding young. Seifer looked at his hands again. He was only a child, maybe three years old.
"Don’t be. I won’t let anything happen to you."
He looked up at who spoke. A girl, around seven or eight years old was smiling sadly at him. Her voice sounded older than her years, like she had rapidly aged within her small body. Her eyes were lit up by the copper light of the fire, making them look more golden. Her eyes were a familiar golden brown, mixed with flecks of green, matching the emerald flecks that would sometimes show up in Seifer’s own eyes. Her hair was held off her face by two pigtails, bound just below her ears. She had dark hair, but there were pale copper highlights which reflected the fire. Why was everything on fire?
"We have to go," the girl urged, tugging on Seifer’s arm. She was looking around, looking for something, someone that Seifer couldn’t see.
"But, what about Mother?"
The girl frowned. "She’s gone, Seifer. Come on, we have to hurry."
"But, Lilly…" Seifer began, tears beginning to stream down his face. He could hear pained screaming coming from somewhere. "Mother…."
The girl Seifer called Lilly pulled on his arm. "Please! If we stay, they’ll get us!" She pulled him into an empty house. "We’ll hide here."
"Who will get us?"
Lilly said nothing.
She sighed. "Seifer…. Mother did something very bad. And, now, we have to hide."
"What did she do? It can’t be as bad as the War."
"It’s worse." Lillith had a grim look on her pretty face. Seifer noticed that his facial structure was the exact same as hers. "Much worse." She pulled a rug off the floor. There was a trap door underneath. "Seifer, I want you to go down in that door, okay?"
"What’s after us? Why is everything on fire?"
"Tell me!" Seifer cried. He pouted. "I’m not a baby anymore. I can be brave like you!"
Lillith smiled. "Everything’s on fire because they’re burning us at the stake. All because of Mother. They crucified Daddy, you know. Right on the family crest. Right on the cross-sword."
Seifer’s eyes widened as he looked at Lillith. "Why would Mother do this?!"
"I don’t know…" Lillith’s calm voice trailed off as she seemed to sense something. "Seifer, hide."
He nodded, hearing the tone in her voice. He jumped down into the hiding place, shocked when Lillith didn’t jump in after him. "Lilly?!" Seifer cried as she closed the door over him, latching it locked. He heard her place the rug back on the floor.
"Seifer, if you care about me, you’ll be quiet, okay?"
Seifer nodded, tears streaming down his face. Mother and Daddy were dead. What if Lilly died, too? He would have nobody. He covered his mouth, stifling a gasp as he heard a multitude of footsteps above him. Suddenly, he felt a dark presence all around him. All the footsteps stopped, except for one pair, which were moving slowly. He bit his lip, trying to hold in his frightened sobs, wanting to do what Lilly had asked of him. He curled up in a ball, hidden in the dark, his tears falling into his lap as he heard one solitary voice, silencing everything around him, stopping his entire life, dead in the tracks of time.
"Kome with me, little kitten."
Seifer awoke with a start, his body covered with a sheen of sweat. For a moment, he didn’t know where he was. He then remembered that they were in Lunatic Pandora, the strange black box that brought Sorceress Adel to them. So much had happened to them. He had done so much for Ultimecia, everything she asked of him. She had promised that she would return his ‘dreams’, his life to him, but all he had were these strange nightmares of himself as a child and the girl named Lillith. Was she the sister that Edea had mentioned? He sighed, getting out of bed. He was glad that they had made quarters for him within Lunatic Pandora, for he still couldn’t stand to be around the Soldiers. A small shiver went down his spine as he thought of Zell, probably laughing at him, or thinking of him as a disgusting slut. There was no doubt in Seifer’s mind that Zell had watched the tape, for the other’s curiosity always had been great.
As Seifer began to put his clothes on, he passed a mirror. His reflection now caused him to shudder, for all he could see was a misshapen monster, fed to his psyche by his Mistress. In his mind, he believed that’s what he really looked like, and his true appearance was becoming a faded memory. So much had happened to make Seifer forget more about himself than his appearance. Having Ultimecia directly inside his mind was creating a new existence for Seifer, one that was empty and bleak, totally void of anything pleasant.
So, now he had to worry about Adel, as well as Ultimecia. The Sorceress from the future was much more powerful, but Adel was a force to be reckoned with, if the muscular monster ever woke up. Seifer had never really found women attractive, but even he could see the ugliness in Adel. She was at least ten feet tall, with huge biceps, and a sinister, unfeminine face, which reminded Seifer of a Zebra. Fortunately, for now, she was still resting, her powers waiting in dormancy for Ultimecia’s plan to fall into place. Ultimecia wanted Seifer to bring Rinoa, the Sorceress that had taken Edea’s power after the battle with Squall, to Adel and have them merge, so their powers were combined within one body.
Seifer had been shocked to know that Rinoa was the woman who had been given Edea’s powers. Rinoa, a Sorceress? She couldn’t even run the Forest Owls, let alone control strong magic. He wondered what would happen to her. He already knew that she had fallen into a coma after Ultimecia had used her body as a conduit in Galbadia Garden, and that Squall had taken her to Esthar to talk to Doctor Odine. Odine was a scientist who excelled in the field of Sorcery, and Squall had probably thought that the Doctor could help him. But, Seifer knew better. He knew that Ultimecia’s control over others wasn’t that fragile. He also knew about Rinoa’s body being controlled in space. Why Squall had even dared to bring her there was beyond him, but he guessed that Squall had his own reasoning. If Zell had been the one to fall in a coma, and Seifer had been in Squall’s position, he would also probably go beyond the ends of the earth to save the tattooed blonde. So, Ellone had been hidden from them in space, had she? Actually, they didn’t need her power anymore, for Ultimecia knew it would be easier to trap Rinoa. Rinoa always had been a tad foolish, and would fall into their hands without really knowing it. Seifer’s orders were to bide his time, for he knew as well as his Mistress did, that Squall would come to them.
"I almost wish you don’t come…." Seifer whispered to his deformed reflection. He felt so alone. Even Fujin and Raijin had become distant from him. He guessed it was because he wasn’t the same person anymore. He found that Ultimecia didn’t possess him to make him do her bidding, but rather, he was dully following her orders, knowing that he couldn’t get away from her, no matter what he did. He couldn’t turn back now, and nothing he could do would change what he had already unraveled. Ultimecia had destroyed him, made him a zombie, a dull carbon copy of his former self, and that was by far the easiest way to control him.
"I can’t go back now…." Seifer whispered, staring at his chest. He couldn’t stand to look at his reflection. He looked back up at the mirror, looking at his twisted reflection. His outward appearance in the mirror echoed how he felt in the inside. He felt a wave of disgust and self-loathing hit him, and without thinking, he slammed his clenched fist into the mirror, shattering the fragile glass. He sighed, wishing he could shatter himself as easily as his reflection.
Zell stared out at the grass of his backyard. Before heading for Lunatic Pandora to stop Seifer and Ultimecia, they had stopped in Balamb. Squall thought that it was a good idea to get some rest and come to terms with all that had been happening. Zell thought that he also wanted to spend some time with Rinoa after all he had done for her. Zell felt like his life was falling apart, but it was nothing compared to what Rinoa must have been going through. First, she had been in a coma, then she awoke to find out she had freed Adel from her tomb in space, then she found out she was a Sorceress, and that they were going to lock up her powers, just like they had for Adel. Luckily, Squall had gotten there in time to stop it, with much cajoling from Zell and Quistis. Zell wondered if things would end up as well for he and Seifer, if Seifer would open his arms to Zell, welcoming him in.
"Seifer…." Zell whispered, sitting on the back steps, feeling weary. He had meant to use his time in Balamb to see his mother, but found that all he could do was think about Seifer, and he didn’t want to burden his mother with their problems, with his problems. Besides, he didn’t know what he was going to say to his mother about being in love with another man, let alone a man who was helping destroy the world.
Zell also couldn’t get the agonizing look in Seifer's eyes while those men on the tape raped him out of his mind. Zell had burned the tape almost immediately after turning it off, not wanting any reminder of it around, wanting to save Seifer a little dignity. Zell didn’t even think he would mention it again unless Seifer himself brought it up. Zell curled up on the brick stairs, hugging his knees to his chest. He sighed deeply, trying to stop the urge to cry.
"You’re thinking about him, aren’t you?"
Zell turned, seeing Selphie standing behind him. She slowly made her way beside him, sitting on the stair above the one he was on.
"How could you tell?" He asked dully.
"You know, that girl from the library came all the way to Balamb just to see you."
Zell shrugged. The library girl with the pigtail, Ashla, was sweet, but she wasn’t Seifer. Nobody was. "And?"
"I bet she wishes that you looked at her the way you look when even Seifer's name comes up."
Zell bit back a sob, and it came out as a hitched sigh. "What if we have to kill him?" Zell turned to face her, a solitary tear running down his tattooed cheek. "What if I had to kill him. If the choice was between Seifer and life as we know it…."
"You would choose him."
Zell nodded. "How selfish is that? I’d rather let everyone else die, if only he would hold me just once, if I could feel his lips on mine."
"It’s not selfish. It’s love."
Zell looked over the fence that surrounded his grassy backyard. He could just make out the soccer field where he and Seifer shared that wonderful first kiss. "See that soccer field?"
"That’s where Seifer and I first kissed. I was drunk, and so was he, but it was still so wonderful. I’ve never felt more alive…." Zell trailed off, twisting his torso so he could look at the brunette. "Have you ever been in love?"
Selphie blushed. "No, no I haven’t. But I think I’m heading along that road."
"What do you mean?"
Selphie sighed. "Well, there is someone….."
Zell thought for a moment. "Irvine?"
Selphie giggled quietly. "I don’t know what it is, but I feel so connected to him. I don’t know if it’s on as a grandiose scale as Squall and Rinoa, or you and Seifer, but I feel something. I can’t quite explain it."
Zell smiled sadly. "It’s nice, isn’t it?"
She nodded, stretching her arms out. "Yeah. You know, your mom is worried about you. She asked me what was wrong with you. Are you going to tell her?"
"What, about Seifer?"
Selphie rolled her clear green eyes. "Yes, about Seifer. You can’t hide that kind of love."
"What kind of love?"
Zell snorted. "I don’t know if there’s such a thing. I don’t even know if Seifer feels it anymore…." He trailed off, hearing Seifer's weak plea for help as the Soldiers ravaged his body. A few tears ran down his face, and he angrily brushed them away.
"Why are you crying?"
"It doesn’t matter…" Zell whispered angrily.
Selphie raised her slender eyebrows. "I’m here to help, you know."
"I know, I know, but I don’t want to talk about it…. It isn’t right to talk about it." He didn’t want to shame Seifer further by discussing what he had seen with anyone, not even Selphie.
"Okay, okay. I didn’t mean to pry."
"I know. So, where are the others?"
"Beats the shit out of me. I wanted to see you. I think Quistis and Irvine are resting. Squall and Rinoa are probably fucking."
"I doubt that. Rinoa’s not that slutty."
Selphie smirked, hearing the scorn and jealousy in Zell’s voice. "Well, she did sleep with Seifer."
"Don’t remind me." Zell frowned.
"Anyway," Selphie replied brightly, wanting to cheer Zell up. "What do you think Adel looks like? I heard she’s a skanky bitch."
"She’s supposedly ten feet tall or something. I heard that she’s so bulked out that she has pecs instead of tits."
"Oh, a female wrestler, then."
"Or a Trabia Garden student."
Selphie scoffed. "I’m not some buffed out she-male. I have breasts!" She gestured at her chest. "Well, sort of. It’s not the most stellar rack."
"They’re very nice breasts. That’s quite the compliment, coming from me."
Selphie snorted. "Stop staring at my breasts, you pervert." She made a face. "I bet Adel’ll want to ‘join’ with Rinoa, all right."
Zell groaned. "Well, I doubt Squall would be much match for a ten foot tall beast woman."
"Maybe Adel will be too angry about the fact that someone prettier than her will be bossing her around."
Zell smiled. "Fuck, Seifer's prettier than Edea. But don’t tell him I said that."
"My lips are sealed."
After a few moments of silence, Selphie looked over at Zell, who looked like he was shivering. "Zell, are you okay?"
He didn’t respond. Selphie lowered herself onto the stair he was sitting on, looking at his profile. The cute blonde’s eyes were closed as tears ran down his cheeks. The shivering had been silent sobs.
"Selphie…. I miss him."
"I know, I know," she whispered softly, gently wrapping her arms around his shaking form. "We’ll get him back."
"Squall probably wants to kill him…" Zell tried to make his voice sound calm, but it came out shaky.
"We won’t let him. Besides, Squall wouldn’t want Seifer dead. In his own little way, I think Squall cares about him."
Zell curled up in Selphie’s arms, welcoming the feeling of being held. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if they were Seifer's arms wrapped around him instead of Selphie’s.
"Do you think he’s thinking about me right now?" Zell asked, casting a look over to the soccer field.
"I’d bet my life on it," Selphie answered, stroking his hair.
Zell sighed, knowing that Selphie’s comfort, no matter how nice and sweet it was, wouldn’t make him feel better in the long run. He knew that they would have to face Seifer, that one of them could be killed when Zell and the others finally went to Lunatic Pandora. As Selphie held him, Zell smiled, thinking of the night that Seifer came to see him in Galbadia, the way it had felt to fall asleep in Seifer's arms, feeling totally safe and secure. Although Seifer was a million miles away mentally, Zell felt closer to him in that gentle moment, feeling hope warm his bones for the first time in a long time.
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