Disclaimer: Plain and simple. FFVIII belongs to Squaresoft, which I am not a part of.
Author's Notes: I'm not sure how this is going, or exactly how it will lead up, but it won't result in any death, I can promise you that. The death warning is just for references of past death, nothing bad.
I hope I'm staying in character for Squall. Let me know what you think. Suggestions will be considered, and helpful. I know where I want it to end, but I have to get there. Some ideas would be good, but just comments would inspire me to continue.
Just to let you know, 'Choices' sequel is almost done. I just have to finish it, and check it. I sat by the middle of next week, or around then. I'm having trouble with the next chapter of , 'Elevator Music'. I really need advice on that one. Please give me ideas!!!
Anyway, R&R! : )
By Drakon Sword
Fujin was looking at me with one glass eye, and the other swirling in nervousness. She was uneasy, I could see that. I could smell the uneasiness, the apprehension, the nervousness, the silent plea she was sending to Raijin, who was switching his weight from one foot to the other in his own nervousness. Neither wanted to answer my question.
That was an answer all on it's own.
Yet I wanted the answer. I wanted all the answers. I didn't want to assume like other fools do, and often did. I wanted to hear it with me own to ears. I wanted to know that I wasn't dreaming, or hallucinating. I wanted to know this was real, and was truly happening. I needed it.
"Squall . . . I'm not sure what to say." Fujin said, sighing as she wriggled her hands together. She wasn't the harsh bitch she used to be. We all had grown up, and the sorceress' wars had been a humbling experience for all of us.
Fujin could talk, and had a very nice soft voice. She had speech problems, but with Raijin and Seifer's help she grew out of it. It was now she could finally speak normally all the time, and got rid of the patch for a glass eye. She was now a woman, but she didn't do dresses, pink, or the frills. I personally, think she's made the right choice. Fujin and pink? No.
"The truth. Fujin, I know you know, and I want to hear it. I don't want anymore half lies, or half truths. I want the truth. Don't hide him anymore." I said, my voice tight with restrained emotion as I crossed my arms as I shook my head. I leaned back in the wooden dining room chair, causing it to creak.
Fujin looked up at Raijin, who sighed. He rubbed a temple as Fujin shook her head. I waited for them to gather their wits before answering. I could wait all night. Like I said earlier, I have a lot of patience. Especially, if it is to my benefit.
"Seifer is alive. We were with him, and helped him after the Time Compression. He was with us for a couple of weeks, and then he was gone. He left nothing except a short note of thanks and wishes." Fujin finally said, gesturing a hand in helplessness.
"We didn't want him to go, ya know! We wanted him to stay, and maybe have you come visit him, ya know. We knew that none of the others would understand, but I knew that you would. You two were closer than me and Fu, ya know." Raijin sighed, sitting down in the chair beside me.
I couldn't help, but smile at Raijin's words. So he saw the closeness between us. Mind you, Seifer and I weren't sexual. We didn't love each other. No. That would give a weakness for the other to play on, hurt, and defeat. We were brothers, rivals, mirror images. I know for a fact that Fujin and Raijin have been sexually involved for over a year.
So he was alive. Seifer was alive, and he was out there . . . somewhere. I couldn't believe how the relief washed over me. I was elated. I was joyful. Weakness. Seifer would be mocking me now. He would be laughing at the weakness of my emotions. Emotions were a weakness. Happiness, anger, sorrow, all could be played on to cause a defeat.
However, then a cloud overshadowed my joy as I pushed my thoughts of weakness away. I could think about that later. I had other things to concern my thoughts with. Like, why didn't he come and see me? Why did he leave, and abandon me? Where was he? Did I do something wrong? Didn't he want to see me?
"Squall?" Fujin's voice was soft, and imploring as she touched my arm. I looked up at her, and she bit her lip in the swirl of emotions that must have been swimming in my eyes. It was all too much for me to contain, or hide. I was happy, elated, relieved, full of utter joy that he was alive, but confused, angry, nervous, anxious, scared to why he hadn't come to see me. That he had left me.
"Have you heard from him since? Xu has reports of him sighted around here a few months ago." I stated, my voice carefully monotone, but they could hear right through it. I suppose Seifer has tried to pull the same trick.
"Yes. Every once in a while he'll come for supplies, or for a visit. Last time was 2 months ago." Fujin said, running a hand through her shoulder-length silver hair. Her lips forming a small smile at the thought. I couldn't help, but feel a little jealously. All this time he was visiting them, but never made an attempt to see me.
"He's different, ya know. Very different. I can't explain it, ya know. He's . . . stronger, quicker, smarter . . . more powerful . . . almost invincible. He seems maturer, yet still Seifer, ya know?" Raijin said, shifting in his chair as I turned to look at him. Those words . . . those phrases . . . that was what I described myself and how I felt in my dream as a lion.
"A war will do that to a person." I said, bitterly. Raijin looked at me, and then shook his head, getting up.
"I'm not sure what you want Squall, but Raijin and I can't give it to you. Seifer comes around when he wants. He may come tomorrow, or maybe not for another 2 months. Seifer does what Seifer wants. We don't know where he is living, and we don't ask. That what friendship is Squall. We are here for him when he needs us. We also know that when we need help, he will be here. We can't tell you, or offer anything more." Fujin exclaimed after a few moments of silence. I suppose it was getting to her. I almost felt as if she was trying to tell me something, but I brushed it off. She was as frustrated with me as she was with Seifer.
"Just tell me this. Did he have a choice to see me? Was it of his own free will not to see me? To leave, and never speak to me? To abandon me?" I asked, my voice was hushed with hurt because I already knew the answer. I cursed at the weakness I was showing. Seifer wouldn't be happy with this. Actually, he would be laughing at my weakness, and would enjoying teasing me on it for months.
Silence filled the room, killing what was left of my soul. Her crimson eyes, like the blood Seifer and I shared, were soft with tenderness. We had become close over the past few months. Not overly close, but friends. No more than what I shared with the gang.
" . . . yes." She whispered, reaching out to me, but I had already stood up, and was yanking on my leather jacket. Fine. If he was to abandon me, then I wasn't going to care. He could continue whatever life he had, and I would continue mine. He could go to hell.
"Squall . . . you can't go like this, ya know!" Raijin said, jogging after me as I left. Fujin not far behind. Both were concerned, and looked hurt for me. I saw Fujin cringe when I turned to them. I knew that my eyes were as cold, and hard as ice.
"How am I suppose to go?" I asked, my voice stiff. Raijin looked at me, unable to answer, and Fujin stopped slightly behind him as the sun shone on us. "Seifer is happy where he is, and doesn't want to see me. I'm not going to make a fool of myself. I go back to my life, and keep pretending that he is dead." I said, simply, like I was talking about the weather, which was actually very nice at the moment.
"You think he's happy?" Fujin asked, her voice slightly angry. I knew that she was angry at me for tossing in the towel, and angry at Seifer for not talking to me, or seeing me. Angry that we were running away from each other.
"Does it matter?" I countered, and her mouth snapped shut. Raijin scowled at me. "I'll tell Xu that you know nothing. Seifer is dead to the world, to me, and everyone else. Let's keep it that way."
With that, I boarded Ragornark, and shut the hatch. Neither Fujin, or Raijin made any move to stop me, to change my mind, or to convince me of something. They knew how determined I was. They knew that the only way I would acknowledge Seifer again, was if I saw him. Even that would be a task and a half. That is if he wanted to see me.
I don't understand. Didn't I mean more to him then this? I thought we shared something. We were closer then best friends, lovers, or any blood ties. We were soul brothers. I was him, and he was me. God! I sound like love sick idiot.
Maybe I was. Maybe somewhere inside there's more then I'm letting myself know. Maybe I do love him . . . no. That's ridiculous. Seifer made sure, and taught me many times that love is a weakness. It makes you vulnerable, and easy for people to take advantage of you. I don't love, and I certainly don't love Seifer Almasy, my rival.
Then why does it hurt so much?
I sat comfortably on the rock, licking my paws of the fresh blood. The corpse of my latest prey at my feet. I don't remember what it is . . . rather was, but you certainly can't recognize it now. Just a mass of blood, bones, and flesh. A common sight for me.
I'm licking my fur, paws, and face to get every last drop of the blood. Much blood was wasted on the sand of the beach, but I was satisfied for now. I just wanted to drink the blood. It was cool, not at all having the warmth of being warm in a body, but it still tingled on my lips. A taste so exotic, and satisfying. I'm not sure how, if I did, live without it, or with anything else.
There is no replacement.
I was licking my coat with such concentration, and intensity, that I didn't notice, hear, or smell the being that was approaching. I was invincible, and powerful, so I wasn't afraid of attack. No one could stop me, and I refused to be a paranoid witless idiot by staying on guard continuously. Besides, I have yet to meet my match.
I wasn't till I heard the sound of a tongue slurping that I spun around to see a large tiger licking at a puddle of blood on the rock. Not a large puddle, but some that must have splattered there when I attacked the creature.
I narrowed my eyes at the tiger as it seemingly ignored me, its complete concentration was on drinking the blood. However, this gave me ample time to study this new creature, and for me to gather my wits.
It was a large creature. Bigger then me, I believe. I wasn't small, and lions aren't, but I'm small for lions. I know that because I was as a human. It's only natural, and like I was as a human, I had more agility with my small size. My small size aided me in my speed, agility, and flexibility. However, this tiger was large. Very much so.
The tiger was obviously male. He was taller than me by about 5 to 6 inches, I believe. Broader shoulders, thicker muscles, and overall weighted more than me. I felt small, and somewhat fragile compared to him. That angered me. I was the one that was supposed to be invincible, powerful, and strong. How dare he come and threaten me! This was my area, and I sure as heal wasn't leaving!
I barely realized the growl that irrupted from my throat. Not till jade cat-eyes clashed with my bluish grey. He barely moved. He turned a little, and looked at me while sitting down as I stood. Blood tainted his furry lips, and the moon glinted off of it, causing it to glow. His eyes glowed eerily.
The growl halted abruptly in my throat. Those eyes. They were so . . . so familiar. I could remember nothing of my human life, but maybe he had something to do with it. Maybe I knew him then. Maybe he was apart of that life.
His head cocked to one side, asking a question. His overall aura wasn't demanding or commanding. It was relaxed. He was relaxed. I just saw, and felt his power and strength. I felt threatened, but he wasn't threatening me. He was simply curious.
That's when I noticed the scar. The scar between his eyes. Just like my own. No . . . wait. It was different. I was in the opposite directions so it mirrored my own. But how? That's impossible. How could someone share the same mark? It wasn't fate. It couldn't be. . . . could it? No. It was impossible, but he seemed so familiar.
He blinked as I made no move. Then with lightning speed that I barely caught, his right paw came up, and swatted at my snout. I titled my snout up to miss the blow as he smirked. A loud purring nose coming from his throat, almost as a chuckle. This time I blinked.
He was trying to make me loosen up. Relax. He meant no harm. He didn't want to fight. However, I still felt uneasy around him. I didn't know who he was, and I didn't know what he wanted.
He shook his head at me, and let out a large breath though his nose, sounding something between a snort or sigh. He then looked at me for a few moments, and then nodded behind him. Clearing meaning the forest that rest over the rocks, and behind the beach. He was asking me to hunt with him. He wanted to hunt for more blood, and wanted to do it together.
I was intrigued by him as much as I was wary of him, but I couldn't find the will in me to refuse. I wanted the blood. I wanted to know him. I wanted to be with him. I didn't understand these feelings, but followed after him as he walked confidently to the forest.
He curled his lips in a smirk as I came beside him. It was a pleasant smirk. He was happy to me decide to join him. He wanted me to. He wanted me to come, and hunt with him. He wanted to share with me. He wanted to know me. He respected me
Strangely, the feeling was mutual.
I wanted to scream at the injustice of it all. Even in my dreams I got no rest from Seifer. He was everywhere. Everywhere I looked, I see something that either reminded me of him, stirred a memory of him, looked like something that would belong to him, resembled him, or was just plain his. I was going to go insane. I swear it. Between the lion dreams, Seifer being alive, and them being put together, I was truly going to go insane.
Then again, maybe I already am.
It has been a month since I returned from Winhill, and found about Seifer's survival. I came back, and told everyone that they hadn't heard anything from him. To consider Seifer dead because they were his posse, if he was alive he'd be with them, or somehow associated with them. I made it clear that they don't lie, and they don't.
However, I do.
No one questioned, and the reports of his seeing him were shredded and tossed. Orders were made that any new reports of that nature were to be thrown out, and made clear to the one reporting that it was a hoax, or they were seeing things. Basically, no one questioned me further, and it was to be forgotten about.
Just I couldn't.
It was ridiculous. I couldn't forget him. Yes, I felt guilty to what I did, and how I lied to them, but what would it have done to say that Seifer was alive, and out there somewhere? A full scale search would have been ordered, and Seifer would be angry, if he was found, at me and his posse for revealing his safety. I wasn't stupid. He disappeared for a reason. The reason was unknown to me, but I had ideas. I would respect his wishes, and leave him dead to the world. I just wish I had known, and not left to mingle with the world. I thought I was more important to him then that.
Key word here. I thought. What I think, and what the truth, are two completely different things, obviously. I'm upset that he abandoned me, and tossed me aside, but maybe it was my fault. Maybe he was angry at me for what happened with the sorceresses. Maybe he blames me. Or Rinoa, who he may still believe I'm with, but Fujin and Raijin would tell him that I wasn't with her anymore. Not that I ever really was.
I don't know. I really just don't know. Isn't the commander supposed to have all the answers? Isn't he supposed to be superior, and gifted with some sort of sight that a normal soldier doesn't have? Aren't I supposed to be perfect? Know all, and see all?
Tell you something. I sure as hell don't, and they're talking about making me headmaster.
No, Cid is still headmaster, but there has been talk about his retirement. He and Edea want to getaway, and have a long vacation after all the hassle they have been put through. Cid refused to go right away because he wanted to fix up the gardens, and get everything back in order before going. He's a good man. I'll give him that much.
However, Xu and I have been told by him on one or more occasions that he plans to retire in the next 6 months, or so. He said that he wanted either Xu or me to be headmaster, if not both. Make one headmaster, and the other vice. I don't want it, though. I'll stick to my commander job. Less paperwork. Xu seems more inclined to the job. She is pretty good at being in charge, and likes it. I've been told I have the natural ability to play leader, but I hate it.
When I told Cid and Xu about my findings at Winhill, Xu took it without question. Cid however, question me a little further. I noticed in his eyes that he wasn't fully convinced. Not because of me, but because he believes Seifer could, and would, live through more than that sorceress disaster. He said that Seifer was stronger than that.
Tell you what, Cid. He is.
In the end, Seifer is still dead. In a way, he really is. He may be out there, living it up, but to us he is dead. He's gone. Doesn't exist anymore. That hurts me to see such a stronger figure just die like that. I think Seifer deserved a lot more respect then he got. He deserves a lot more than that. It's me who should be gone. He was the one that taught me everything. He's older and wiser, while I'm lost in a maze of immaturity.
I know. I know. He was an asshole, but was I any better? Am I? I don't think so. I've head the comments, and my old nickname coming up, 'Leonhartless.' It's old, frankly. Just now that I have Shiva, the references to ice, snow, and cold have been added. Cold bastard. Icicle Squall. Ice bitch. I've heard many.
"Squall?" A voice rousing from my thoughts. I look up to see Quistis slipping into the caf chair across from me. She looks at me concerned, but says nothing. I know she knows. She has always known. She wasn't a huge fan of Seifer, and hated our fighting, but she knew that it was more. That Seifer and I shared a bond.
"Hello Quistis." I replied, taking a sip of my bottle water. It was after 6 p.m., no more caffeine, or I wouldn't sleep.
"How are you?" She asked, her ice blue eyes drilling into me. I noticed she had brought of tray of food with her. Soup, croissants, apple, pop, and I think chocolate ship cookies. I'm not stupid. Some of the food is for me. She's worried, and I haven't eaten. She knows this.
I look back at her, our eyes even. It was a simple question, but the implications are complicated. How am I? You see, it doesn't matter what I say, or answer with, she already knows something is wrong. I say 'good', and she knows I'm lying. I say 'bad', and well . . . ya. I say 'fine' she knows that by my standards, 'fine' usually means something is wrong, but I feel that I can deal with it. However, she will press because she wants to help anyway. How do you get out of this question, you ask.
Simple. Answer a question with a question like a true politician.
"How are you? Talked to Xu?" Even better. Two questions. Hopefully that will throw her off of her mission. I don't want to talk about Seifer. Not yet. I still have to figure some things out for myself yet. When I do . . . maybe I'll talk to her. She is the closest to understanding me.
"Nice try, Squall." She answered, her blue eyes twinkling before they leave mine to look at her tray. "You've been a zombie for a month. Ever since I told you about the reports." She continued, avoiding saying Seifer's name. "You need to talk, and I'm willing to listen. However, you must eat." Quistis then commanded, and pushed the plate of croissants towards me. I didn't fight, and took them.
"I'll eat, but I don't promise to talk." I stated, picking up one of the croissants, and buttering it with a plastic knife and package of butter I stole off of her tray. She scowled at my response, but wasn't at all deterred. Like I expected less from an ace SeeD. An instructor in fact.
"Squall!" She growled, sounding very angry. It seems she was more frustrated with me then I first thought. Maybe I was worse then I thought.
Maybe I should just stop thinking.
"What?" I snarled, getting agitated myself. Couldn't people leave me alone? I keep my problems, and they keep theirs. "There is nothing to say. Seifer. Is. Dead. End of story." I muttered, then taking a bite of the croissant, and savoured the flaky bread in my mouth.
"That's not true. It's far from the end of the story. He left you behind, when you die, then it will be the end of the story." Quistis said, softly. I snapped my head up to look at her. My messy locks getting into me eyes, to which I quickly brushed away, absentmindedly.
"What do you mean?" I asked, knowing well what she meant, but I wanted to hear it from her lips. I wanted to know that she knew too.
"I could say I'm talking about the sorceress' wars, and when you die all the main characters in that play would be gone," she paused, taking a spoonful of her soup, "but you know bloody well that isn't what I meant." Her ice blue eyes caught mine. She was searching my eyes, but I knew that she found nothing, for I wasn't feeling anything at the moment. No emotion. A talent I picked up over the years.
"Then what do you mean?" I asked, playing her game. Quistis' eyes narrowed at my words. She knew I was playing her, and that I knew. I waited as she ate more of her soup, but also continue to eat my croissant.
"I know this Squall. There was, or rather is, a lot more to you and Seifer then a rivalry. I'm not completely sure what, but I think I am the only one that comes close to understanding. I never understood the fighting, but violence had always been a part of you both. Violence between you was like affection. Bizarre? Maybe, but it was who you were, and are." Quistis answered. So she did understand, or at least partially. She was a lot closer than any others.
I said nothing in response as she watched me eat for a few moments before returning to her own meal. Silence flittered between us as we both considered her last words. I was also deciding how much I should tell her, if anything at all.
"His death hurt you. It was like a part of you was ripped out. You two were always two pieces of the same puzzle. Even as children. Yet mirror images. You were the silent, cold, calculating type. While Seifer was the passionate, hot, impulsive type. Opposites like purple and yellow, but at the right shade, were perfect together." She said, opening her can of pop to take a sip. I watched her.
Her analogy was perfect. Better than any I could think of. It was true. Depending on Seifer and my mood, was how we reacted to one another. Sometimes we were like water and oil, while others we were like salt, and pepper. Opposites, but could agree. Seifer and I had nowhere near a normal friendship, but it was closer than that of Zell and Irvine, or any other relationship of that sorts. We were closer then lovers, brothers, or any blood relation could ever have.
"No one else understands." I said, simply after the moments of silence were getting tense. She simply smiled, and nodded as she looked back at me.
"I don't understand, and I don't think you fully understand either. You two fought like rivals, loved each other like lovers, cared for each other as best friends, and as close as brothers." She said, as I took a drink of my water. We were all those, and much more. "The rivalry was a learning experience. You had both grown out of school, both too smart to keep your attention, so you found refuge in each other. You kept up straight A's without trying, while Seifer blew school off. That's why the sorceress' wars were so much more intense then the last one. Seifer and you were on a level that no one could even conceive of. Both were evenly matched." She continued, sighing as she drank more of her pop.
"He lost because it wasn't him. Ultimecia was controlling him." I informed her, but I knew she already knew. His eyes were that of a puppet, or doll when I saw him. I knew then that someone else was pulling the strings. That was why he lost. My rival had been broken, and that made me angry.
"I know. It hurt, didn't it? You two admired each other so much. To see the one you cared about so much, broken. He had fallen, and it hurt. You didn't fight for anyone, but him. I know that Squall. I know that you would have dropped out of the cause if it wasn't for that fact Seifer was involved. Anyone else, and you would have left to let someone else fix it. You hate dealing with anyone else's problems, just like you hate people dealing with yours." Quistis sighed as I munched more on the last croissant. She had brought me two. "Once it was Seifer, it was your problem. You two always shared problems because of how close you were. He had a problem, you were there, and vis versa. That of because either of you came to help, or because you were already there for you were a part of it, it didn't matter." Quistis murmured, shaking her head. I gave a small smirk to myself. It was true. I never wanted to play hero.
"I didn't want to be the hero. I didn't want any of this. I was content." I answered, and she smiled, nodding. She knew. She always knew.
"I know. I'm not sure you were completely content, but I think if this didn't happen, something else would have, and you would eventually find happiness." She answered, like happiness was something I wanted. I don't want happiness. It's a weakness. But won't Seifer's return to me make me happy? Would that be a weakness?
Now I'm confused.
"What makes you think I am happy? What makes you think I want to be happy?" I asked, sounding bitter. It did even in my own ears. She looked sharply at me, her face pitying, and sympathetic. Weakness.
"Squall . . ." She couldn't finish, and I wasn't going to let her. Grabbing my water bottle, I got up. She watched me with soft eyes, wishing she could take some of the pain away. No Quistis. I want the pain. Pain reminds me that I'm alive. Reminds me of my weakness, and something to work against.
"I miss Seifer, I don't deny that. But maybe, Quistis, I don't want to be happy. Being content and happy, are two different things. Happy is being an idiot, weak, and such. Content is living in a routine that makes me feel useful." I answered, and she watched me. Her eyes were tender behind the glasses. I just stared at her, evenly, back. My eyes cold.
"You're killing yourself, Squall. You're killing yourself for him. You feel like nothing without him." She whispered as clinched my hands to fists as my back was to her.
"I am nothing without him, Quistis. He made me." I threw over my shoulder before walking off. It was true. Seifer made me who I was. Without him, I was nothing. I felt like nothing. I felt empty. I only felt full with him, or in my dreams.
I miss him.
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