Author's Note: I wrote this just after saving at the end of the second disk, so I had no idea about Seifer's little adventure with the lunatic Pandora or Ultimecia or ANYTHING! But, I didn't want to change any of the events or thoughts going through Seifer's head in this story, so I decided to post it AS IS. So please excuse my cluelessness at that time! The only thing I knew was that Bahamut was in a deep sea research center and Seifer got there via Chocobo.
Seifer sat on the rock, holding his gunblade hanging over the dirt below. It was a high ledge, it overhung Dollet and the amazing sea. With a twang Seifer remembered the SeeD exam, and peered across the canyon at the communication tower. It was overgrown with vines and the stone pathway was hidden under leaves and brush. Not that it would be like a road anymore, the rocks would probably be destroyed by plants. Seifer had a sudden longing to go to the communication tower and think. Maybe... to find out something about himself that he missed along the way. To give him a sense of identity. He had done everything for Edea... defended her, and obeyed all her orders. And yet she called him a worthless fool. Seifer sighed a breathed in the salty sea air invading his nostrils. With one glance at the night lights of Dollet, Seifer stood and looked over his shoulder nonchalantly.
"Can you take me over?" He inquired. For once in his life, Seifer asked instead of ordering.
"Of course." Bahamut replied, swooping down to him gracefully. Seifer respected Guardian Forces, they gave up freedom to live in the small minds of dominating humans. That's why he never defeated her...
Seifer slashed through a few meddlesome monsters to get to the core of the research center. He had come all this way to raid the old building to find powerful draw points, or useful items that that might help in the near future. Seifer had done everything that Edea had asked of him, and he had to go back to her. He had to protect her still. She had escaped... but she was still in danger. Squall and his little... 'friends' would be after her soon.
Seifer made it to the center of the building where all the energy was stored. There was something there... something inside the thick radiant blue substance churning inside of the long abandoned core. He could just make out a dark dragon-like shape and then the thought clicked in his brain.
There must be a GF in there. He didn't have the faintest idea which one, he didn't have much knowledge of GF's, except for Cerberus... but he was abandoned when the war broke out and Squall stole him.
Seifer lifted a strong hand and pressed it up against the glass of the bright core, to wipe away a little bit of fog on the outside. The figure moved as soon as his flesh brushed against the glass, and looked to struggle violently. The gooey liquid sloshed around, and Seifer all of a sudden felt a hankering to break this creature free from it's captivity. He stepped back, and searched his mind for any magic that he could think of to smash the glass. Holding out his hand, Seifer concentrated a powerful Blizzaga at the glass, and when it shattered, the entire core shattered. Thick chunks of broken glass clattered to the floor, and the liquid lazily oozed everywhere, still pulsating with it's warm glow.
Seifer leapt back to avoid the goo all over the floor, and safely stepped up onto a small ledge to watch the creature come to life before his very eyes. It did look a lot like a dragon, it had two strong wings that began to beat the air gently, like a fawn experimenting on it's legs for the first time. The dragon blinked once to keep the goo out of it's eyes, and then twice only to squint at Seifer standing in the corner. Seifer noted the beauty of it, and the power behind it. He had a feeling somewhere in his mind... yet a little lower... that this was a GF. And it was afraid. She was afraid. Seifer just automatically found himself referring to the GF as a she. He stared into her eyes, and he could sense the fear she was feeling. Not because she didn't think she could defend herself, but at the very thought that he should somehow keep her inside his mind to try and make room among his many memories to live for all time.
Seifer's gaze softened, and he opened his mouth to say something. But no words came out. He couldn't think of anything to say to this amazing creature floating before him. For once... the great Seifer was at a loss of speech.
"You do not want to leave." The GF spoke in a way that made Seifer shudder. Her voice was so strong, yet so gentle, and she didn't move her mouth to say the words. They simply hung in the air, but Seifer knew for sure that it was her speaking. "Do you feel I owe you something for my freedom? There is only one thing I can give. But not without a chance to defend myself." She took a defensive position, and arched her head back, as if stretching, warming up before a battle.
"No!" Seifer cried, tossing his gunblade aside. The GF cocked her head at him, and he shook his head. "I could not possibly lock you up in my mind. I don't want you tied to me... I just want you by my side." He didn't understand the words that were coming out of his mouth... they were not coming from his sarcastic, arrogant brain. They were coming from a place inside him that he didn't even know existed.
Seifer nonchalantly reached forward and the tips of his fingers brushed up against the GF's slender nose. She trembled under his touch. Never before had she ever been touched by a human. Seifer felt a surge go through him as he softly ran his hand over her skin, from the looks of it, her grey scaly outside layer looked rubbery and rough. But it was soft and smooth, gentle to the touch.
"I, Bahamut, will be what you humans call... a friend?..." Her voice sounded again. It sounded silvery, as if her words were dripping from the air like honey.
"A friend." Seifer paused, and Fujin and Raijin popped into his head. They had been there for him through it all. Those two never gave up on him. Through everything, Fujin and Raijin followed him. Raijin often called themselves Seifer's 'posse'. In a way, it was true. Here Seifer was, thinking that Edea was his 'friend'... but all the while it was just him being her 'friend'. He was oblivious to the face she had used him, or WHO really cared about him. Seifer looked into Bahamut's innocent deep eyes and saw the sincerity deep within her. He realized that there must be strength within her... she would give up her entire freedom to live in the mind of an inept human. Seifer felt pure respect for a living creature besides Edea... finally. "Alright." He nodded, and began to pick his way around the goo oozing all around him and sighed, finding himself surrounded by the glowing liquid.
"Climb onto me." Bahamut hovered near him and held out an arm. He could see her long razor sharp claws glimmer in the dim light. Seifer gingerly climbed up Bahamut's muscular arm and hopped onto her thin back. She scooped up his gunblade in her free claw and handed it to him efficiently. Seifer nodded in thanks, and Bahamut shot her fierce attack at the wall, blasting a wide gap in the brick before them. Bahamut hovered for a moment, staring out into the vast blue ocean and remembering her past freedom which would once again be hers. With a whoosh felt against Seifer's face, Bahamut sliced her wings through the air and slingshotted them forward. Seifer held out his gunblade and slashed through the rope holding his previous transportation Chocobo to a pole outside of the research center. The Chocobo immediately ran out of view, back to the forest Seifer had caught it from. Bahamut launched up high into the air, with Seifer safely on her back, smiling with satisfaction.
Seifer climbed onto Bahamut's back and she lifted off stealthily above Dollet. There was nobody outside, all that could be seen were a few streetlights and two Dollet guards blocking the way up to the communcation tower. There was no need for them; not even the strongest soldier could possibly break through the thorny brush all the way up the mountain. Seifer leapt down to what was left of the stone path.
"I'll wait here." Bahamut's silky voice wafted into Seifer's hearing.
"Thank you." Seifer pried open the front doors and peered around in the darkness. He cast a Fira up into the air to light the dismal corners of the area. Seeing an old draw point near the lift, Seifer smiled at the memory. The mission he had been chosed to lead... but had set off adventuring towards the line that caused him a fail on his SeeD exam. He vividly remembered stepping in, beating up a few guards, and drawing some... some type of magic he couldn't even remember from that draw point. It was empty now... as desolate as the rest of the area. But still, magic thrived from the earth a lot, and unless someone had recently drawn from it... that draw point should still have been active. Seifer sensed something wrong. This place had been disturbed, and he had yet to find out who it was. He stepped onto the lift, and, hoping it was still in working condition, flipped the switch. The lift lurched slowly to life, and creaked all the way up to the top of the tower. But Seifer was not afraid of it stopping or breaking.
He had a certain frame of mind. He had nothing to lose, maybe something to gain. But he didn't know what it was that he had to gain. He wasn't there yet. There was human mentality, and then Almasy mentality. His was, basically, to fear nothing. Then he would always win. And although that hadn't worked out always as planned, he still believed it. Fear was for wimps. Like Chicken-Wuss. Seifer felt a twang of something inside himself. It was the same place that his sympathy for Bahamut had come from. Something utterly new to him. A feeling of... homesickness? There was no other word to describe it. Seifer felt homesick. Although he really had no home, and his true home was at the orphanage with Matron and all the other kids, Balamb Garden had been his 'home'. That felt most like it. Surrounded by childhood... friends. Yes, they were his friends, like it or not. Squall, Quistis, Selphie, Irvine. Even Zell. They were his friends. Even when he came to garden... and forgot. He had been with them for ages, and they had all lived together happily so long ago. Now they were at war.
The lift croaked to a stop and Seifer held out his gunblade offensively, as if to ward off anyone thinking of ambushing him. He tried to let his eyes adjust, the Fira from below didn't light up everything up here, only faint moonlight could do anything. And Seifer didn't want to draw any attention to himself by casting another Fira up there in plain sight.
All of a sudden there was a shuffle nearby. A small scuttle, and then nothing. Seifer whipped around to face the darkness behind him, but couldn't make out anything dwelling in the shadows.
"What are you doing here?" A very small voice sounded from the corner Seifer was facing.
"Step into the light so I can see you." He ordered sternly. He anxiously watched as a small pale figure stepped into the moonlight. She looked quite familiar, but very thin and bony. She was barely even there, she was so skinny. Her yellow clothing hung off of her body limply, not really doing anything besides concealing parts of her not wanted to be shown. Her hair was a mess, all disheveled and stringy. She looked weak as she lumbered out of the darkness like a frightened mouse. "... Selphie?" Seifer stared, his mouth wide open in awe as she fell to her knees before him.
"Seifer..." The look in her eyes was all but gentle. "You stood by her... when she was going to... annihilate Garden..." Selphie coughed violently. Seifer was afraid that if he touched her she would crumble. This was not the spunky, happy-go-lucky, pleasant Selphie everyone knew and loved. He had betrayed her. Another twang of guilt enveloped him as he remembered the desert prison. How he had locked them all away, and threatened to Squall that he could interrogate 'the little messenger girl'. That had been Selphie. He hadn't even known who she was... his friend... in the orphanage.
The way Selphie's gaze punctured his skull hurt him. Seifer could feel her beating him over the head with a mallet, if she was stronger.
"Selphie." Seifer repeated her name, trying to match this meek little creature to the spunky little title. Alas, all he could see were the two hungry and depressed eyes gleaming up at him.
"Why are you here?" Selphie cleared her throat, but it still sounded dry. "To 'redeem' yourself? There is nothing for you to redeem. You are a snake... a... lowlife. We should have slain you in Galbadia..." More body-shaking coughs.
"... Yes." Seifer dropped his gunblade, and the clatter made Selphie jump slightly. "Yes, you should have killed me..." He shut his eyes against her, clenching his jaw tightly.
"Now... I am lost." Selphie continued as if ignoring him. "We are all... lost... our minds... wandering... our souls... searching... for something. No... someone. To make us feel better... but we would feel a whole lot better if you were... gone... dead..." The words slashed through Seifer as if she had used his weapon against him.
"STOP!" A stronger female voice commanded. This one Seifer could pick out a million miles away. Quistis stepped up behind Selphie. "You have made him feel so guilty... now suicidal. My turn." She took Selphie's arm, practically dragging her back into the darkness, and returning alone.
"Wha..." Seifer was equally confused, but felt exposed without his trusty sword in his hand. He knew that if he picked it up, Quistis would only giggle and reply that she knew he would do that. He didn't want to give her that chance. So he simply stood there, shameful and feeling naked.
"Why did you turn your back on us?" Quistis bluntly asked him, narrowing her eyes. Seifer didn't know how to answer that, and he knew that she had him right where she wanted him. He began to sweat... something that he had never done under pressure before. In fact, he had never been under pressure before. Yet this was just like a battle. A battle that he would have won easily so long ago. Battles were his specialty, and this was just another form of one. Simple. Easy. But why couldn't he answer? Why couldn't he think of something to say to Quistis' stern stare?
Then it hit him.
"I didn't." His own voice sounded alien to him. "You turned your back on me."
"Bull." Quistis spat, more firmly than she had ever taken a tone with any of her own students before. "You chose not to side with garden, and to leave us forever. Why?" Seifer half smiled to himself. Why? Because he hated Headmaster Cid. Because he didn't like being under instruction. Because he was a control freak. Because he thought he had everything he needed by himself. Because he didn't want to tie himself down before fulfilling his dream.
His dream. What was that, again? To be a sorceresses knight?
He heard Quistis' voice in his head. The voice made him snap back into reality and wipe the minute smirk from his face. It was as if she was listening to his thoughts, and replying telepathically.
"I think... you know." Seifer tried nonchalantly.
"You know I know." Quistis nodded. "You know that. You have to free your mind, Seifer. You will learn... but it will take time. You aren't as strong as you think you are." She turned on her heel, strawberry blonde hair swishing lightly in the blanket of moonlight wrapping her up.
Seifer let out a deep breath, and was just about to bend down when he suddenly had a premonition that that wasn't the end. Something else... something more was still there.
"You got it." There was a flash of blue in a blur as Seifer was tackled to the ground.
"Whoa!" Seifer fell backwards and let out a cry of surprise. His head hit the metal floor of the communication tower and he rubbed the newly formed bump gently.
"Oh, did I hurt you?" A VERY familiar voice purred. "Too bad. Take it like a man." Seifer cringed as he saw the pretty face of Rinoa Heartilly sitting on his legs, holding him to the floor.
"Rinoa?! What are you doing?!" Seifer grabbed her waist, to lift her off of him, but her strength had tenfolded.
"Stay doggy." Rinoa smirked, pushing him back down to a lying position. He didn't want to use physical force against her, he didn't think she meant any harm. And, although Seifer would never admit it, if she did mean harm in this condition... she could kill him. "I don't bite..."
"What do you want?" Seifer asked hurriedly. He regretted the words when Rinoa rammed her small fist into his upper stomach, knocking the wind right out of him. He gasped for a few moments, genuinely shocked by her outburst.
"I ask the questions." Rinoa's voice seemed to slip from her mouth rather quickly, which was strange since she had always been more laid back. "Why did you betray Garden?" Seifer closed his eyes for a moment, but Rinoa slapped him hard across the face.
"Rinoa!" Seifer yelped, grabbing her wrists and trying to force her backwards. To his surprise and dismay, Rinoa wriggled her feminine wrists free of his grasp and held HIS wrists together with one hand out of the way. Seifer was helpless, he hated it.
"Damnit, answer me!" Rinoa screeched.
"It was my dream!" Seifer yelped back, hoping to satisfy her.
"Wrong." Rinoa used her free hand to grasp a weak point on his neck to send a jolt of pain shooting up his vertebrae. Seifer cried out heavily in the pain that engulfed his spine.
"I... I..." He gasped, and Rinoa let go for a moment. "I needed... revenge?..."
"Nope." Rinoa squeezed again, and Seifer groaned, overwhelmed. She loosened a little to let him speak once more.
"I didn't... fit in..." He struggled with his voice box, willing it to stay strong.
"Close but no cigar." Rinoa went all out on his shoulder once again.
"Oh God STOP IT!" Never once had Seifer begged against pain. Pain made him stronger, he could tolerate pain... couldn't he? The excruciating agony swarmed him, and he began to see flashes of colour invading his vision. Rinoa's twisted expression became splashed with red, then blue... a gasp... then purple.
"Come on Seifer, you know this!" Rinoa edged him on. "Look inside yourself, the answer is there!" She let go of him altogether, and sat back on his knees to watch him contemplate, searching his mind for what she wanted. His back throbbed, the circulation in his arms pulsed frantically back into his hands, and Seifer picked his brain like an open book.
"I felt... neglected... I needed to feel wanted..." He croaked, and Rinoa smiled triumphantly.
"Bingo." She stood up, staring down at him with superiority. "You shut everyone out from your heart, you didn't let anyone know the real you. Only me. I was the only one who really KNEW you, but even after..." Seifer peeled himself from the floor, losing his balance as he attempted to stand. "But you were a PART of them, Seifer. You were their friend, even Zell. You meant a lot to them. You're learning, Seifer. Look at Bahamut. You respect her, she respects you. That's the beginning of friendship. You just need to learn how to respect humans. Then you won't feel neglected. They love you like a brother, deep down inside. You can help them find that." Rinoa turned her back on him, and paused before slowly walking back into the darkness that the three mysterious women had somehow come from. Seifer managed to stand up and squint into the corner. He walked towards it, reaching his hand out to find some sort of door.
There was nothing but wall.
Seifer sat up, rubbing his eyes sleepily. He blinked for a moment, peering about him. Bahamut was curled up behind him, sleeping quaintly in the grass. He looked down and saw the night lights of Dollet below. He put a hesitant hand to his stomach, remebering how Rinoa had hit him. He couldn't reach his back, but it didn't throb like before. It had felt so real... so painful. What a vivid dream. Yet very unrealistic. Selphie was too weak... Rinoa was too strong... and Quistis. Well, she was still not normal. It was hard to comprehend what that dream had meant, but Seifer had a good idea what he had to do. He reached out and gently stroked Bahamut's nose. She stirred quietly, and one shining eye opened. Then the other.
"Can you take me to Balamb?" Seifer inquired softly. Bahamut simply nodded as Seifer climbed onto her sleek back.
Seifer wasn't looking, but cloaked in the darkness, Bahamut smiled with satisfaction.