Author: Ember Silverly PM
Several years after the end of the game, Squall is called back to lead Garden against the threat of a new Sorceress. Meanwhile, across the globe, Seifer finds himself once again playing the role of Sorceress' Knight. Squall/Zell, Seifer/Quistis, others. COMPLETERated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Romance - Squall L. & Seifer A. - Chapters: 15 - Words: 50,260 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 08-17-12 - Published: 07-25-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8357630
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Chapter 2 is done. I think I have some direction for where this is going now (other than Squall/Zell yay!), though, which means it's more likely get finished now. Also, my sister challenged my husband to Camp NANO, so I think I might join them and use this.
Chapter 2- Lost
"Done?" Fujin asked, waving her arm towards the large white building.
Seifer shrugged. "If there anymore kids in there, they're hiding pretty damn good." He looked over his shoulder where Matron and Cid were climbing slowly over the rocky ground. Matron was simply in a brown, calf-length dress, her black hair pulled back in a simple braid. Cid was more casually than he had ever been while running Balamb Garden in just jeans and a blue t-shirt. Both were carrying rather large suitcases.
"There are no more children here," Matron said as she approached. "I believe I know how many young are under my care."
Cid nodded his agreement. He looked up at the large airship that President Loire had lent Balamb for the evacuation. "This is a little different than I remember the Ragnorok."
Seifer turned to study the airship. It was of a similar size and shape to the Ragnorok, though slightly more streamlined. It was also a silver-blue color rather than the red-brown of the previous ship. "Second gen prototype borrowed from the President," Seifer said. "He called it the Valhalla. Faster than the Ragnorok."
Raijin appeared in the doorway at the top of the boarding ramp of the ship. "The kids are getting restless, ya know!" he called. Behind him a little girl was seen peeking out from behind his legs. She waved urgently in Matron's direction.
Seifer smirked at his friend. "Overwhelmed there, Rai?"
Raijin looked like he was about to say something in response but glanced at Matron and changed his mind. "Just, hurry up, ya know!"
"No rush," Fujin called back.
"Still, I don't like how exposed we are," Seifer muttered. He jerked his head in the general direction of the Valhalla. "You two should get on."
Matron and Cid both walked towards the ship more slowly than Seifer felt entirely comfortable with. The Valhalla was beautiful. But it was also large and rather conspicuous and they'd been here for several hours prepping the evacuation. Seifer had hoped that they would have been more prepared by the time he had landed, but kids took forever to do anything. It had only been Matron's patient guidance that had kept them even remotely close to the timeline. If it had been up to Seifer, he would have just thrown the kids onto the Valhalla and left while they were still crying. He supposed it was a good thing he wasn't in charge of the evacuation.
Fujin headed up the ramp with Cid at her side. Matron followed while Seifer brought up the rear.
A low rumble caught Seifer's attention. He turned to look. It sounded like thunder but was too steady to be natural.
Seifer narrowed his eyes and exchanged a glance with Fujin at the top of the ramp. She nodded once to indicate that she heard the noise as well.
"I think we should hurry it..." Seifer's suggestion was lost as a group of black vehicles appeared on the horizon. From the vehicles came several missiles flying at high speed towards the Valhalla. They became caught in a quickly caste Barrier Spell flung from Matron. Matron stumbled from the impact and Seifer caught her as she fell.
Cid hesitated a moment.
"GO!" Fujin grabbed the former headmaster and pulled him the last few feet onto the Valhalla as more missiles started heading in their direction. At the bottom of the ramp, Seifer pulled Matron to her feet and started to drag her up the ramp, racing against the flying projectiles. About half-way up the ramp, the missiles hit, one landing inches from Seifer and Matron, sending them falling down the ramp as it broke to pieces beneath them.
Seifer barely had time to case a float spell on Matron before impacting the ground hard. He caught his breath as the last of the missiles hit the Valhalla. From his vantage point on the ground, Seifer could see Fujin push Raijin away from the door.
Matron held her hand out towards Seifer to help him up. "We need to hurry away from here," she said.
Seifer took her hand and stumbled to his feet. "Brilliant plan, Matron." He looked around for some sort of shelter. "This way," he said, keeping hold of Matron's hand and dragging her towards the white building. No guarantee they wouldn't bomb the orphanage but it would provide more cover than the open ground.
Matron nodded. Fortunately, it seemed the attackers were more focused on the Valhalla than the duo fleeing across open ground.
Seifer was out of breath by the time they reached the relative safety of the building. From within the shelter of the ruins, Seifer turned to watch the Valhalla take off into the air. He could just make out Fujin's form still standing in the doorway.
"We can't stay here," Matron said between breaths.
Seifer nodded. "Any ideas?"
"There's a boat out back. We might be able to get away before ground troops come in."
"Or they decide to bomb us." Seifter motioned for Matron to lead the way towards the boat. If they could take the boat to the nearby forest, they might have a chance of getting behind the army and making their way back to Balamb.
Selphie winced as the door to the Commander's office closed with a solid thud. She stood next to Irvine, Quistis and Xu while Squall leaned against the table and glared at them as a whole.
"Why was he allowed to keep his GF?"
Selphie desperately wished to be anywhere but here. Or that Quistis and Xu had backed her up when she said that Zell's insistence on keeping the GFS was not natural. Or healthy.
"We are studying the effects of long-term exposure..." Xu began.
Squall cut her off. "On Zell?"
Xu shut up. Which was most likely a good thing for her. That was not the best way to begin this conversation.
"He didn't want to give them up, Squall," Quistis said. "I didn't want to force the issue. And, if he was going to have them anyway..."
"You thought he would make the perfect test subject." Squall looked over to the right. "And I suppose you haven't told the researchers in Esthar about your guinea pig, have you?"
Silence met Squall's statement.
"I think the ladies just went about telling you this in the wrong way, Squall," Irvine said. He walked over to the table and sat down in the first chair. He leaned back and put his booted feet up on the table. Selphie felt herself breath a little easier. Irvine would know what to say. He usually did. "The thing is, Zell was trying to forget something. Dunno why, but he was. He knew what he was doing but he didn't want to talk about it. I remember quite the few arguments between Selph and Zell about it in the beginning. Dealt with the fallout after a few of them myself. I assume Quistis and Xu had a similar time of it."
They didn't. They had left the arguing up to Selphie, but she wasn't going to say anything about that. Not now, when Irvine was making things better.
"So, you gave up?" Squall's voice was neutral. Neutral was better than the ice of before.
"I didn't," Selphie said. "I really, really didn't. I tell him everytime he comes back to Balamb. But he never listened and now well..."
"You saw how he acted downstairs," Quistis said. "He flies into a rage whenever anyone implies that he doesn't remember something."
"So why is he still on missions?"
Xu handled this one. "Because he's damned good. He's also great for training our older students. As far as his memory is concerned, he remembers missions and tactical information just fine."
"It's the long-term stuff he has trouble remembering. Anything more than a few years ago," Selphie said.
Squall turned his gaze on her. Selphie wanted to shrink away and hide. Be anywhere but here.
Squall looked like he was about to say something else when the phone on the Commander's desk rang suddenly.
Xu, Quistis, and Squall exchanged a glance as the phone rang for a second time. Squall walked over to pick it up.
Selphie drifted over to Irvine, feeling rather light headed. She slumped down into the chair next to him and rested her head on the desk. "I feel so stupid," she said.
"Don't, Selph," Irvine said, placing a hand on her head. "I know you did everything you could. You're not exactly in a position to give Zell orders." Implying of course, that Quistis and Xu should have known better.
Squall's conversation ended and Selphie heard him hang up the phone.
"News, Commander?" Xu asked.
Selphie picked up her head.
"Fujin was reporting in. The Valhalla is on its way here with twenty tired and exhausted children. They should be here in a few hours."
"Fujin was reporting?" Quistis frowned.
Squall nodded. "As the Valhalla was preparing for departure it was attacked by an unknown force, presumably our Sorceress' army. Seifer and Matron were thrown from the boarding ramp and are considered missing in action until further notice."
Selphie drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. Her first instinct was to demand permission to go after them but she knew that was a stupid idea.
"I assume we are not mounting a rescue mission at this point in time?" Xu asked.
Squall paused. The silence in the room was rather almost tangible. "We can't. Unless I'm mistaken, we don't have the manpower, even if we knew where they were." Squall sounded almost sounded regretful. He was silent for a few more minutes. "Are the reports ready for me, Xu?" he asked, his voice changing back its much more normal neutral tone.
Xu nodded. "On your desk, Commander."
"Fine then. It's late, you're all dismissed for the night." Without another look at them, Squall walked to his desk and sat down, picking up the stack of papers on it.
Quistis and Xu looked at each other for a moment. Irvine stood up. He pulled Selphie up and slung an arm around her shoulder. As he passed Quistis, he pulled her under his other arm. "Come on ladies, I'm exhausted. Let's get to sleep." With that, Irvine led the small group from the office.
Selphie thought there was something she should say to Squall. Some sort of apology to make or... something. But by the time she even had formulat half a thought, Irvine had closed the door to the elevator and started its descent.
Squall's neck was still stiff from reading reports for the vast majority of the night. Shaking his damp hair out of his face, Squall left his room to head towards the cafeteria for a quick breakfast for a meeting with Xu, Martin, and Mike this morning to debrief together.
The hallways were quieter than they had been when Squall was a student, though there was, thankfully, life. Several students were in the hallway heading to their first class of the day or breakfast and Squall recognized at least a few of the teachers and SeeD in the hallway.
Squall wondered if they still had decent monsters in the training center. He could use a good workout with his gunblade. It had been a while since he had used it for anything more than practice. A shame Seifer wasn't returning. Squall could have used the workout against another human being. On the other hand, he had the feeling he would have more than enough real-life practice before long.
Squall was stopped in his tracks when a blond girl walked right into him. She almost fell but Squall reached out to steady her before she could.
"Oh Hyne!" the girl, said, straightening herself quickly. She saluted. "Commander, I didn't mean..."
Squall indicated that she could relax. Apparently he was more well-known than he had thought. Then again, she was old enough that she might have been one of the younger students from the Sorceress War.
"Rena! What are you doing?" Zell came out from the hallway from the Quad. Possibly helping Selphie clean up from last night.
"Sorry, Zell...uh, I mean, Instructor Dincht. I just sort of..."
"She's fine, Zell," Squall said.
Zell turned to look at him. Still no hint of recognition in them. Squall attempted to not be disappointed.
"You're going to be late, Rena," Zell told her.
The girl nodded quickly and moved to step around Squall. Before going anywhere, she turned to Zell. "Did you remember to mention the Behemoth?" she asked.
"What Behemoth?" Squall asked. They had been near Galbadia. There shouldn't have been...
"Behemoth?" Zell paused for a moment, as though trying to recall.
Rena's eyes widened slightly. She turned to Squall. "Commander, a Behemoth attacked Instructor Dincht and in the forest near Galbadia Garden on the way to the train station. Instructor Dincht mentioned that it was unusual for one to be there."
Squall nodded. "Thank you for mentioning it, Cadet..."
"Rena Scheer, sir."
"Thank you, Cadet Sheer." Squall nodded in dismissal at her and the girl saluted again before walking towards the elevator and her classes.
Squall and Zell watched her go for a moment.
"Behemoth?" Squall asked his friend.
Zell narrowed his eyes at him in something that was almost anger. "Yeah. Slipped my mind last night with everyone in the Quad."
"But it wasn't in your report."
"So? Most likely it was just a stray monster anyway." Zell started walking in the general direction of the cafeteria.
Squall followed. He could chose to push issue. But it would accomplish nothing except to alienate Zell. Something that Squall did not want.
"Have you had breakfast yet?" Squall fell into step next to Zell.
"Was just heading there now, Commander."
They walked without talking to the cafeteria. The perk of being the Commander was that Squall didn't have to wait in line. And neither did anyone with him.
The cafeteria was still crowded but Squall found a table in the corner to himself and sat down. After a couple seconds of consideration, Zell joined him.
It was almost like eating with a stranger. It seemed as though Zell had matured greatly since the last time Squall had seen him. Although perhaps, matured wasn't quite the right word. He was certainly more irritable than Squall had ever seen him, a side effect of losing his memories perhaps. But also less talkative and open.
"So, you led my squad in the Sorceress War?" Zell's question was rather sudden.
Squall looked up from his food. Zell was leaning back in his chair, arms crossed, his breakfast was untouched. "Yes." Squall paused for a moment, unsure how the next question would be taken. Zell's eyes were guarded. "You don't remember?"
Zell shook his head. "Side effect of using the Guardian Forces."
After Zell didn't say anything more, Squall went back to eating under Zell's scrutiny.
"So, what did you do?" Zell asked.
"That made me want to forget you. Must've been something. I mean, hell, I vaguely remember Rinoa and I haven't seen her in...well, I don't remember the last time I saw her." Zell twisted his lips rather ironically.
Squall shook his head. What had he done to make Zell forget him so completely? It must have been deliberate on Zell's part if he remembered other parts of the War. Or did he? Was it possible that he remembered only the historical accounts and what the others had told him? But they wouldn't have left Squall out of their stories. Squall realized he hadn't answered Zell yet. "I don't know what I did."
"But we were friends?"
Squall nodded. Best friends. There was no one that Squall had relied on more than Zell. If he had understood that sooner...
Zell stood up from the table, his chair scraping against the ground and his breakfast uneaten. "Well, I guess sucks for you then, doesn't it?"