Disclaimer: This is a Final Fantasy Fanfiction featuring Seifer/Quistis predominantly. If you're looking for a fast-paced romance, you might want to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, I don't own any part or parcel of Squaresoft, and I'm pretty sure I never will. The original characters belong to me, but that's about it. I may think of different, witty ways to say this throughout the chapters, but let this be my big declaration. I'm poor, I'm bored, and I'm borrowing these characters to play with for awhile.
~Fire and Ice~
Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
...but I remember everything.
-Hurt, NIN (recommended listening)
Seifer Almasy had been staring at the white wall of his hotel room for the past three hours, waiting for the meaning of life to fall from mildewed tiles.
After a few hours, creamy ripples twisted like the velvety spray of the ocean running back and forth along the surface, interrupted by small black dots that crowded his eyes from the effort. His eyes burned, narrowed, as if he could see all the way to the bottom of the frothing white ocean...all the way to the bottom of his heart.
Needless to say, his mind was far from the wall of room 105E.
It was an odd feeling, being sober and thinking sober thoughts for the first time in almost two years. The experience evoked a bitter taste in his mouth, like chewing old gum or rubbing a healing wound, peeling the scar away to see the blood flow again. Swallowing pride. Picking at old scars. Choking down his own failure.
Two years of gasping for air though a muddled maze of booze and bitterness.
The Sorceress War had been over that long. The buzz had died down… and heroes and villains alike were fading, as heroes and villains were bound to do. Maybe, somewhere, there were people that had forgotten the name of Seifer Almasy, and all that name had come to mean.
Seifer, however, doubted that the amnesia of a thousand GF's could make him forget.
The posse had been disassembled…broken and scattered to the wind. Fujin and Rajin were back at Garden, doing the only thing they felt educated enough to do, fastened like mussels to the only true stronghold they'd ever known.
Puberty Boy and his raven-haired princess were no doubt living a fucking fairy tale, as only a hero and his angel could.
The rest, who knew…who cared.
War made heroes of some, cowards of others……………
Mostly, it just made skeletons of men.
Seifer closed his eyes.
The Sorceress War.
It wasn't your fault.
He laughed. Of course it was. He'd wanted to kill those SeeDs, all of them, one by one. Wanted them to kneel before him, to recognize that he had always been stronger than them, had always been better, had walked outside their stupid lines and saw the world for what it really was.. In that moment, he would have destroyed them all, just to know what glory felt like. Just to taste it on his lips, just for a second, as their blood ran beneath his boots. They didn't understand that. They couldn't
In those moments, glory was worth everything. More than friends. More than truth.
More than life…if what he had done years ago was living at all.
Ultimecia had made everything a dream, slow and languid, and he remembered that time now as such. A stretch of time…flashes of faces, pain, blood- even his laughter back then seemed far away. Her words, commands, wine-red lips pulling the leash taut around his throat. He remembered her finger beneath his chin, tilting it up like a child, and her eyes, swimming with the mad and endless dark, drawing him in.
"Follow me, little one. Follow me, and I will bring you glory."
And he had. But the only thing she had given him was shame, shame that ran thick and potent every day of his life. Shame that refused to run down the drain…shame that refused to be chased with a bottle.
You reaped your own failure.
Ultimecia had simply provided the scythe.
Her eyes, her lips, her hands on him in the dark….
…."Who are you?"…
…….."Don't you know? I'm a hurricane."……
And what a storm, one that had ripped him up by whatever feeble roots he'd had and whirled him into a world unlike any he'd ever seen…………or ever hoped to see again. When that storm had ended, when all thoughts of glory had faded, he found himself lost in a sea of time, descending from madness to an even greater lunacy- his ears trained for the storm but his body surrounded in complete and constant calm.
Ironically, perhaps, it was her that found him, sprawled in some damned dirty hotel whose name, even now, eluded him. But not so surprising, maybe. She had always known where to find him, whether beneath the shadows of card tables or beneath the shadows of a slum hotel. Fujin and Rajin were behind her, already part of a world Seifer had long forsaken and wanting him to rejoin it. They'd come for him, to reunite the posse, to glue together the old gang. They brought news of his absolutism from Balamb Garden, bringing him hot dinners and broken promises, tattered hope he could not, would not choke down.
Like Edea, he had been acquitted based on insanity. Possession. Sorcery.
'Innocent of the heinous crimes committed during the sorceress war'.
He had to laugh at that.
And the bounty Galbadia had on his head? Alive and well. Fujin and Rajin actually thought he'd be safe at Garden.
…and her. Matron. Mistress.
They all wanted to make him whole again.
They were fools to think that familiar pieces of Seifer Almasy still existed.
Truthfully, since that day, years ago, when he had followed Edea, no, Ultimecia, trailing in her wake like and panting as eagerly as the fucking lapdog the papers had branded him as, Seifer felt like a puzzle of flesh and agony, one that had been scattered to the four corners of the world.
She stood there before him in the doorway: beautiful, whole, repentant, telling him that he was always welcomed home. There was tension between them, a kind of mutual sorrow that hung heavy in their chests, sagging down like an iron heart.
Hers, for loosing a rope around an unsuspecting neck.
Seifer, for having the lingering suspicion that he had willingly wound it around his own throat.
There was nausea in his belly and screaming in his skull as he looked at her.
He still loved her like a mother, and perhaps, as Ultimecia, he had loved her as more. His memories ran like watercolors.
The paint was mostly red.
His eyes flickered across the ceiling as he remembered the sorceress, the one who wore Matron's body so well. A goddess, Ultimecia, a Pandora's box that promised dreams but delivered agony...now, however, she was only Edea, the kind, gentle soul who'd raised soldiers on smiles and buttermilk pancakes. An omnipotent mother sparrow that had known their destinies better than they ever could have foreseen. Puberty Boy, Selphie, Irvine, Quistis, even Chicken-Wuss. Balamb's Heroes, who took flight in glory. Made any mother proud.
Seifer Almasy, however, was the sparrow that fell from the nest, and falling was a bitter sting that throbbed in his veins every day from the moment he opened his eyes.
The seeds of darkness were always in him. The sorceress had simply sown them.
Her eyes on him, pulling him into the dark ocean of her iris into the storm that awaited. "Take my hand, Seifer. Follow me to a place of no return."………….
But he had returned, returned to a world of routine and solitude that he barely recognized. He had not expected to return……….in truth, he had not wanted to. The life of a rebel, a visionary was meant to be short- the brief and glorious lifespan of a warrior mayfly. They were not supposed to grow old.
Then again, they were not supposed to fail.
Towards the end, he simply wanted to feel her nails score through his heart, to feel her ice in his chest………just to feel anything at all.
He'd wanted to win. He'd wanted power, and perfection.
Now, here, he contemplated his future in a tiny, reeking pit of a hotel room in a nameless slum, surrounded by the shards of a stupid dream.
His future. Was there such a thing? Did men like him have futures?
He stared at the letter in his hand, a torn and tattered notice bearing Cid's signature at the bottom. An offer.
It was odd to hear his name in conjunction with it without the word 'enemy' inserted into it. His re-admittance, would finally attach his name to something meaningful and permanent. He wasn't sure how he felt about it. It was like marrying discipline- tying himself to everything he had ever scorned or hated or mocked, and now finding that he wanted those things. Order. Something dependable, some sort of structure.
He had come to worship the idea of structure, half-starving in a roach-infested motel whose name had been long forgotten in Seifer's memory. He'd always remember the smell though, remember the screaming of a woman in the floor above him, a prostitute being beaten by an angry pimp. Remember the screaming infant the woman had left alone in the room for hours at a time and knowing that this was where he would rot, this was where he would die.
He'd lain on the floor, staring at the wall, feeling absently the scuttle of something on his skin and not giving a shit about anything around him, much as he had his entire life. Only, now, he had stopped caring about himself.
Fujin and Rajin came and went, trying to drag him out of it. He vaguely remembered their visits.
He vaguely remembered everything.
Fujin, setting down a carton of food on the table. "EAT." She practically shouted at him. Cartons from past weeks rotted underneath the bed. Seifer continuously moved them there to avoid Fujin's motherly fangs.
"PATHETIC." Scoffed Fujin, arms folded. Her voice sounded hazy, far away.
Rajin, standing in the doorway as Seifer lay sprawled out on the bed. "Can't you see what you're doing to yourself, ya know?"
"I've got a first-rate seat, yeah." Replied Seifer, taking a sip out of the glass bottle in his hand.
"PITY PARTY." Scoffed Fujin, eyes narrowed with disgust. "COWARD."
"Get off your dead ass, man." Said Rajin. "There's still a world out there."
Seifer never took his eyes off the ceiling. "Yeah, I've been there. Sucks." He slurred. Room service had brought the vodka. Or maybe not. For all he knew, it was the Vodka Fairy. He had a tab a mile fucking wide by now, and he was pretty sure the manager was aware that he couldn't pay a red cent. Seifer didn't care where it came from; it was in his hand. It could have been cyanide for all he cared.
There were nights he wished it was.
He'd been annoyed at them until Rajin had taken the bottle away from him. Then he'd been downright pissed. Even in his drunken state, he'd managed to get in a few licks before Rajin shoved him off. He couldn't remember, but he thought he'd broken Rajin's nose. Fujin had pried them apart, her normally sharp eye soft and sad.
"What the fuck do you want from me?" he snarled, staggering to his feet. "What do you want from me?!"
"LIVE." She'd said simply, closing the door behind her.
Somehow, being with them wasn't enough anymore. Standing on a dock waiting for some greatness to fall on him, staring at the sky feeling his guts drain out of him with every breath he took, and Fujin's quiet smile and Rajin's antics weren't enough to stop it.
He was nothing. He had never been anything and was worthy of nothing.
He did not look in mirrors anymore- he could only see the shadow of disgrace lurking behind him.
I am my father. I am my father.
He slipped in and out of consciousness, the hot, stagnant breath of the room filling his nose with odors of sweat, garbage, and from the radiator, the pungent and lingering odor of sewage. The sheets teemed with roaches and the maid, if there even was one, had stopped coming, or had never come at all. He shoved rent in a slot down the hall when he remembered with money he didn't remember earning. He didn't remember often, but the owner was scared shitless of him anyway.
There was a dangerous air to a man that carried shadows in his eyes. They usually echoed through the empty hollow of his heart…and in the barren wasteland of that area, a man was capable of all terrible things.
Sometimes he left, but he rarely remembered where he'd been. Sometimes he'd wake up in alleys, sometimes in strange rooms with bad cuts and bruises from fights he could scarcely recall. Women were flashes of skin and empty laughter, each vacant encounter leaving him even more hollow than before. Their eyes were as empty as he felt. He spent hours in the shower afterwards, staring at the floor until his vision cleared.
Life, breath, circling down the drain.
Absently, he wondered where the stopper on his soul had gone.
He had paid no attention to the door. He would stare at the wall, the way he was staring at this one, waiting for answers to drop like the roaches from the ceiling. Much the way he had stared at the sky, in time compression, feeling time itself run thick in his veins…waiting for the sky to fall on his heart.
He probably should have died there.
He should probably die here. End the story. End the guilt. End this fucking nightmare of a life.
But, for some reason only Fate could determine, he had decided to take a walk along the pier. With him, of course, was a bottle of gin, the liquid through which all his failures could become greatnesses, or at least, failures farther back in his mind. He stumbled across the docks, staring out at the gray sea until night fell. And then, like an orb of shimmering candles, he saw her pass overhead, as he had that day, two years ago. Her lights sparkled on the water as she turned silently, seductively, a looming fortress of strength that rolled over him like a gentle roar.
Garden. Cornucopia of dreams. Of failures. A place bursting with memories, with pain, with promise.
A frown knit his pale brows, and he felt the bottle slip in his hands.
Dare he hope?
He heard the bottle smash at his feet, but it seemed far away.
Was there hope left in him?
It was his last thought before he passed out.
In the morning, when he awoke, the bitter taste of alcohol and bile clinging to his lips, he found a new feeling, a new emotion stinging in his chest like acid wound through his veins as he dragged himself back to the hotel.
But how far would this thing carry him?
Time to see.
Seifer sighed, sitting up on the dirty cot. Hyperion met his gaze from across the room, its silver stare strong and steady. He hadn't touched it…………not since that day.
He got to his feet, slowly, walked over to where it lay. With shaking hands, he picked up the gunblade, squeezing the cool handle as if it were the hand of an old friend. A light glanced along the blade, stinging his eyes.
His eyes narrowed, the pools darkening with an emotion he couldn't name as he swung, his arm attempting a shadow of his former grace.
And suddenly he was outside, walking, his step growing quicker with every step.
His trench coat, now faded and battered, caught the wind behind him.
There was just enough left in him to carry his legs back to Garden.