Chapter Sixteen

And even though the moment passed me by
I still can't turn away.
'Cause all the dreams you never thought you'd lose
Got tossed along the way.
And letters that you never meant to send
Get lost or thrown away.
And now we're grown up orphans
That never knew their names
We don't belong to no one
That's a shame.
But if you could hide beside me

Maybe for a while
And I won't tell no one your name.
Googoo Dolls-Name.

And as literary convention has it, this story has an epilogue

Are you curious about the epilogue?

Moxy Fruvous:King Of Spain

Seifer had been sitting in the harbourside café for over two hours now, and the waitresses were beginning to get annoyed about the endless bottomless coffee pot refills.

He hadn't even written anything.

How hard could it be?

What was he supposed to say? Dear Quistis, thanks for saving my life. I really enjoyed the time we spent together in the woods trying to save the world from evil and I just thought you might like to know that I'm not dead.

Love, Seifer.

PS. Please don't tell anybody I'm still alive.

It all sounded so damn trite.

He rested his elbows on the table and looked around. The place was so damn cute it made him gag. Old lobster pots hung from the ceiling and cheery checked tablecloths of the laminated wipe-clean variety decorated the tables. There were pictures of knots on the wall, done in different colored thread. Knots.

Seifer reckoned he knew a bit about the sea, having being brought up near it, and he sure as hell couldn't remember knots being a big part of what sailors did. What did they do round here, lasso the fucking fish or something?

There were a few other customers, families mostly. The waitresses had seated Seifer in the furthest corner, possibly to stop other customers being too scared to come in, which suited him just fine.

When the man sitting at the next table looked away for a minute, Seifer reached over, stole his beer and walked out of the café, leaving some money on the table.

There was a jetty some distance along the shore. He headed for it, the hems of his frayed trousers catching in the uneven planks of the boardwalk. The stolen beer felt cool and pleasant in his hand. Small droplets of condensation ran down his wrist. They stained the pad of paper in Seifer's hand as he made his way to the end of the jetty and sat down.

After a while, he took his boots off.

A few minutes later, his shirt followed them.

Far behind him there were angry shouts from the café. Someone, somewhere, wanted his beer back. Seifer finished the bottle quickly and dropped it into the water at the end of the jetty. He watched it sink to the bottom. A few fish floated towards it inquisitively.

Five minutes later, a few sheets of paper followed the bottle. Seifer's pad was beginning to look alarmingly thin.

Seifer sighed. He swore half-heartedly. He shifted on the planks, drawing one bare foot up and leaning the pad on the floor. His other foot brushed the water.

It felt strange not to have to watch his back. He was nearly unarmed; nearly, but not quite. Old habits were hard to break.

He rested a hand, still slightly damp from the bottle, on his forehead and started to write.

Some time later he doodled a little fire cross at the bottom, went to sign it and then thought better and inked in "S" instead. Quistis would know who it was from.

The sun felt alien on his back.

It had been ten weeks since he'd left Gen's hut. The old man hadn't been that happy to Seifer back, but he'd promised not to say anything. Besides, there hadn't been anywhere else he could have gone after he'd managed to drag himself out of the hole and retrieve Quistis' half-buried rucksack from the rubble. Gen had even been kind enough to lend him a couple of changes of clothes. He'd even had a bath. They'd played cards in the evening. Seifer had had his ass kicked royally. He'd left quietly, early the next morning, just in case the guy decided to phone Cid on the sly after all.

He was still getting used to being warm enough, all the time. Admittedly, he was still sleeping in the beach hut he'd broken into when he first arrived, but there was hope of work. He'd almost forgotten what a proper bed felt like, though to tell the truth sleeping hadn't been his top priority since that thing had gone rummaging around his head.

But it felt good to be here by the coast, watching the sun gently set beneath the waves. The beach even smelt different from the forests, warm and salty. He stretched, feeling muscles pop and flex in his back, watching boats out on the water.

He'd post the letter in the morning.

Maybe Quistis would even reply.

He wondered just how long it would be before his old self-destructive tendencies. Not long he thought. It never was. But maybe this time it would be just long enough. Long enough to get his train-wreck life out of the sidings and back on track again.

Maybe he'd even get old.

His life stretched out in front of him like the ocean, empty and blue. Sooner or later, decisions were going to have to be made, like just what the hell he was going to do, but they could wait. He looked at the sunset-tinted sky and smiled.

Tomorrow looked like it was going to be another beautiful day.