By Scarlet Fever
Pearly gates? The Stairway to Heaven? God? Sulfur and Brimstone? Pitchforks and the Seven Circles? None of it. It was just black. I could only see black. Death was nothing like everyone said it was. I was just expecting it to fade away, like the end of a movie, but it wouldn’t. The dark was lingering… Lingering because of something, someone. There was someone there. Black, even against the black. The black cloak.
I tried to call out, to ask who was in this black existence with me, but my voice was swallowed by the black hole I seemed to be swirling in. I wished to see him, to see his beautiful sky coloured eyes with their emerald flecks, the flecks that would appear when he was upset or laughing. I wished that Seifer were here. I wanted him to wrap his arms around me. This eternal black would have been the Heaven that Christians so strive for if Seifer could have held me forever.
I heard my name. It almost sounded like Seifer was calling me, but the voice was more haunting, more feminine. Where was it coming from? It seemed to be all around me. Where was it coming from? I tried to walk, but it felt like I was in water. Thick, lead water. Seifer, where are you? I need you. I would give anything to feel you hold me, the way you could wrap your body around mine, the way I could curl up in your embrace. I could remember the way your heartbeat sounded as you drifted off to sleep after we had tired ourselves out from having sex all night.
I stopped thinking about Seifer, and began to concentrate on the cloaked figure. The fabric of the cloak was flapping in a wind that I couldn’t hear or feel. I tried to move closer, but a loud squawk scared me. I looked in the dark to see something coming towards me. It was flapping. It was a Raven. I tried to shield myself, but it stopped just before me. When nothing happened, when it didn’t peck my eyes out, I unshielded my face, and looked. The Raven was perched in front of me, perched on the shoulder of his Mistress. I looked into the inky bird’s face. It was missing one of its eyes. It looked like a pearl. White and shiny against all the black. Its feathers looked like oil as it regarded me with a bored expression, staring down its sharp beak at me.
I then averted my gaze from the Raven, to the woman. I couldn’t see her face, because it was encased in shadow, but I could make out a few features. I could see the same pearly effect on one of her eyes that the Raven had. The same eye. The right eye. Without even seeing her face, I knew that she wasn’t angry with me, or evil. She just regarded me.
"Who are you?" I asked. My voice was lost in the roar of the silence, like the wind that ruffled her cloak. But, she heard me, for she tilted her head.
"I knew you once," she answered in a whisper that encased me. It came from all directions. "I didn’t want to meet you again so soon."
"Who are you?" I repeated. I wanted Seifer. I was cold, and he was so warm… So warm….
"That doesn’t matter." She brushed past me. "He got here before I could…."
I paused, not knowing what she meant. Before I could ask her, she laughed. A cold, broken glass laughter. It reminded me of Ultimecia. It reminded me of Seifer.
"You are full of questions….. Questions that I can’t answer…"
"Won’t answer," she clarified. "You’ll find out in time…." She turned on her heel to look at me. That’s when I noticed that she was holding a Scythe. A big one.
"Death…." I whispered. "Are you the Grim Reaper?"
"I could be called that. I’ve been called many things." With that, she turned on her heel, disappearing into the black, her Raven flapping behind her.
Death. The Grim Reaper. Did that mean I was dead? A great sadness overcame me. Did that mean that I would never see Seifer again? I suddenly felt cold. Colder than I had ever felt. Who was he? Who got there before Death? I felt like weeping as my body seemed to vanish into the black, into death….
"Zell…." Seifer whispered, wheezed. His heart was shattering. No pain he had ever experience had felt like this before. No torture that Edea or Ultimecia had put him through even measured up to this pain. He clung Zell’s small body to his broad chest, weeping into his lover’s corn coloured hair.
Squall wrapped his arms around his body, vagrant tears falling down his face. It broke his heart to watch this. Zell had been the closest thing to a brother he had, and to think that he was dead…. And the pain Seifer must have been going through…. Squall crouched beside Seifer, stroking Zell’s cold face. His lips were turning blue. He then wrapped his arms around Seifer, trying to comfort his friend, his former rival.
"Why did this happen?" Seifer whispered, burying his face against Zell’s tattooed cheek.
"It was an accident…." Squall lamely replied, trying to comfort the scarred blonde. Zell was gone, and they couldn’t even cast Life on him.
"No….." Seifer whimpered as Squall held him tighter.
"I’m sorr…." Squall began to whisper, but stopped. Something felt warm, even in the cold night, even in the cold mood, even against Zell’s cold skin. He narrowed his eyes as Seifer silently cried against his dead lover’s face, whispering incoherently. It felt like a balmy breeze, coming off the water on a summer afternoon. Squall stood up as the leaves in the trees began to gently shake with an unseen wind. Some of the leaves fell to the ground from their precarious grip on the branches, which were now quivering in unison with the invisible wind. It ruffled Squall’s hair and coat as he looked around. The wind felt strange, electric. Squall then noticed a bird sitting on one of the branches, seemingly unphased by the wind. He just sat there, looking down at them as Squall stood in the wind, and Seifer wept against Zell’s body. His oily black feathers shone in the night, and a dark eye, with its pearly pair stared.
Squall slowly approached the bird, fascinated. When he got too close, the bird took off, disappearing into the night. Squall wanted to call out to the bird to come back, but his voice was ripped out of his throat by this invisible wind. The auburn-haired SeeD couldn’t quite pin where exactly it was coming from. It was North and South, East and West. The graceful man turned on his heel to look at Seifer, to see if he noticed what was going on. The leaves that had fallen from the trees around the crouched blonde were skittering across the forest floor, away from his form. Seifer’s hair and coat were flapping in it, but he paid no attention. It also ruffled Zell’s hair and clothing. That’s when Squall noticed Zell’s colouring. His lips weren’t blue.
"Zell?" Squall whispered, rushing over to them. He knelt on the mossy floor, touching Zell’s cheek. He was warm. "Zell?!" Squall cried in disbelief. "Seifer…. What’s going on?"
The scarred blonde blinked a few times, like he had been in a trance. "Squall?"
Squall just looked at Seifer, his stormy eyes wide. He couldn’t believe what was happening. In all his experience with magic and Guardian Forces, he had never experienced anything like this before. At the same time, they both looked down at Zell. Seifer just blinked down at the man he held in his arms, while Squall’s jaw dropped in absolute shock. Zell’s lush lashes fluttered, and his face slightly contorted in discomfort. He slowly opened his icy blue eyes, staring up into Seifer’s gaze.
"Seifer……?" He whispered, his voice cracked. "Seifer…." A small smile graced his lips, which looked cracked and dry. He lazily looked around. "Where is she……?"
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