Well, here you are, finally. The end of Fifty Days. This chapter was actually the first I wrote, as a challenge from another writer to write an angsty Seiftis deathscene.

It's been one hell of a ride, and I'll thank you all in turn after the fic is over. I only hope the final chapter lives up to what you were expecting.

_____________________________________________________________________





Fifty Days



Chater 22: I'll Wait For You





Seifer woke up the next morning with a headache and a guilty conscience, and Quistis sleeping soundly next to him. He twisted over and found her playing with something between her fingers. It was the needle-like ampoule Kadowski had given him the night before.

"Quistis..."

She put a finger to his lips. "You won't convince me otherwise," she whispered. "I've been able to feel it, like a monster in my body, comsuming me. Itt's today. I know it and you can see it. Give me this and let me go." There were tears in her eyes, and he wiped them away, trying not to let them form in his own.

"I don't want to let you go. I want you to stay here."

She smiled softly at him. "Some things aren't meant to be." She held out her bare arm, and placed the ampoule in his hand, closing his fingers around it. "Please."

He held it against her arm gently, and then pushed hard, once. Quistis sighed as the liquid flowed into her, and she smiled. "Thank you."

He kissed her, not wanting to stop, but eventually he had to. "You promise me one thing," he said sadly.

"Anything, love."

"Don't leave my side."

"Never."

The two lay there together, just looking at each other, for what seemed to them like an age, and still not long enough, before they had to get ready for the ball.



Free

The dream within

The stars are crying a tear

A sigh

Escapes from heaven

And worlds end



"Well?" Rinoa asked as the ball went on around them.

"I think it sucks," Zell said.

"Ditto," Irvine said.

"I think it's cute, and so does Irvine, right?" Selphie said.

"I said I thought it OWWW!" he said, rubbing his foot.

"Well?" Selphie asked.

"It's cute…" Irvine muttered.

"Quistis?" Rinoa asked.

The blonde instructor looked up at her, and not for the first time Rinoa noticed how tired she looked. She had lost weight over the past few weeks. A lot.

Quistis smiled, and Rinoa resisted the urge to shiver as Quistis' face suddenly looked like a coloured death-mask. "It's a wonderful idea Rin, go for it," she said quietly. Suddenly the blonde instructor grabbed the table, and began to cough. The others looked on in alarm, but it quickly passed. Rinoa however noticed that when she recovered her eyes were a little dimmer, and Quistis looked a little more tired.

"Hey Quisty, are you feeling ill or something?" Zell asked, concern in his voice.

Quistis looked across at him. "It's nothing. Just a sore throat," she said, and Rinoa could instantly tell that she was lying. Quistis' eyes looked past Rinoa, and she turned to see Seifer walk into the ballroom.

She smiled and waved. "Seifer! Over here!"

The man looked embarrassed at being hailed across the packed ballroom, but he recovered almost instantly and walked over, kissing Quistis on the lips as he sat down next to her. The pair linked hands, and Rinoa knew that something was going on when the two stared at each other for a brief second, with something like longing in their eyes.

"Congrats on graduating Seifer!" Selphie shouted.

"Thanks guys." Seifer said, also smiling.

"Yeah, might actually trust you to watch my back now," Zell piped in.

"Quiet chickenwuss." Amazingly, the comment did not come from Seifer, but from Selphie, who was now trying not to giggle and failing miserably.

"What were you all talking about?" Seifer asked.

Selphie nearly jumped to be the first to tell him. "Rinoa wants to propose to Squall, since he's so shy and probably won't do it himself."

Seifer snorted. "Yup, sounds like him alright."

"Where is the big statue anyway?" Irvine asked. Rinoa jerked her finger, and their gazes followed to see him leaning against one of the pillars in the main ballroom.

Quistis suddenly looked at something past Rinoa's shoulder, and Seifer turned to see the three of the other students who had graduated walking past. She got up and went after than before Seifer could stop her, and she was gone before he had moved from his chair.



Breathe

The dream within

The mystifying



"What's going on there d'ya think?" Zell asked as Seifer got up and went after Quistis.

"Hey, let 'em be," Irvine replied.

"Yeah. It's cool Seifer finally got his dream, right? Hey Irvine, do you have a romantic dream?" Zell asked.

"My dream is sitting on my lap," Irvine replied. Everyone snorted into their drinks as they tried not to laugh. "What? Can't a man make overblown romantic gestures anymore?" Irvine complained.

Rinoa said nothing, instead staring at the place where Quistis had disappeared. She was worried. Something was different. More different, that was...



We tremble and spin

Suspended within



Seifer stared out at the graduation ball, and the dancing students. He saw Rinoa, Selphie, Zell and Irvine all sitting at the table, laughing and talking over a couple of glasses and a bottle of wine. He saw Irvine try to put his arm around Rinoa and get punched in the gut playfully by Selphie. He saw Squall leaning up against one of the pillars of the ballroom, holding a drink in his hand and nodding to people as they passed and waved. Rinoa must have really domesticated him, before he would have just glared at them. Now he was merely antisocial, rather than a hermit.

And he saw Quistis. The instructor was walking through the ballroom, chatting amiably to her fellow instructors and the students she had got through the field exam. This was her night. She had passed these people into SeeD-hood in two years against the advice of garden Faculty and others who had wanted her to stay off the teaching staff for good. She had proved them all wrong, and this night was her final reward.

It wasn't obvious under the makeup, but he could see her occasionally stop sudenlly in the room, as if trying to think where she was going next, and Seifer knew that she was having to will her legs to move and not fold up on her.

There is the woman I love. I would do anything for her. I would die for her. And she is not going to last the night.



Look beyond

Where hearts can see

Dream in peace

Trust the belief



He moved through the crowd silently, accepting the handshakes and congratulations on his graduation with only perfunctory 'thanks' and smiles, heading straight for Quistis. She turned her head as he approached, and a look of relief appeared on her face. She turned back to the instructors from Trabia. He gripped her hand as he slided into position next to her, and she could barely grip back. Holding her wine glass must have been exhausting her all by itself.

"Hey," he whispered in her ear. She smiled at him weakly and tried to listen to the Trabians.

"As I was saying instructor, we've been looking through the old archives in our own MD level, and… Mr Almasy!" The man reached out his hand and Seifer shook it, hoping the man would just leave.

"Instructor," he said politely.

"Congratulations on your graduation. The… unpleasantness… of the war forgotten eh?" he asked cheerfully, and Seifer felt the urge to punch him. He vaguely felt Quistis tugging on his hand, but she didn't have the strength to physically move him anymore.

"Mr Aki, I would be glad to discuss the archives you discovered at a later date, but right now I must go and see how my students… excuse me, former students… are doing," Quistis said regally, and bowed slightly, backing away. Seifer had to hand it to her; she could carry off the manoeuvre perfectly. He held her hand softly and followed her into the crowd. The press of bodies around the dance floor suggested some of the more confident students felt the need to strut their stuff. He guided Quistis slowly between the masses of clapping students, glancing behind as she fought to dodge around the crowds. Once Seifer had to stop and quickly grab her arms, she came so close to falling.

Quistis let herself be guided by Seifer as he wove through the crowd. She felt her hand wrapped in hers, giving her warmth and the strength to continue, but everything had taken on a grey blur. She tried to focus on Seifer, and was rewarded when the crowd thinned out and he was directly in front of her. She sighed in relief and fell into his arms. She looked up into his face, tears running down her cheeks. "I can't do this anymore Seifer," she whispered. She couldn't do anything else, her throat refused to work properly.

Seifer felt like crying. "Just a little while longer," healmost begged. Whether to Quistis or Hyne, he wasn't sure any more. Don't take her from me. Please!

She stared at him full on, and the look in her eyes was enough to break him. "Let me go," she whispered simply, and let go of his hand. She vanished into the crowd.

For a second he didn't believe she had done it, and then he was running through the crowd, trying to find her. He scanned the room searching for the wave of blonde hair, but all he could see where other students. He saw a flash of yellow off to his right and took after it, shouldering others aside as he chased her.

Squall saw Quistis run from the ballroom, the pain on her face obvious as she threading through the students and SeeDs. Damnit... He had never gotten the chance, and now knew he never would get it, to say goodbye...



We tremble and spin

Suspended within



Rinoa raised her glass as Selphie stood up.

"A toast!" the teenager said. "To a new generation of SeeDs!"

"Who won't have to go out and get killed for money!" Irvine went on.

"Or kill sorceresses! Oops…" Zell said, clapping a hand over his mouth instantly.

Rinoa nearly laughed. Her eyes searched across the room and found Squall, who was still stood against the pillar, accepting congratulations with nods. He must have been standing against the same one that she had first found him again. She giggled. Some people never change…

And some change an awful lot…

Where was Seifer anyway? Rinoa had seen him scoot off after Quistis, but he had practically vanished.

"Whatcha looking for Rin?" Selphie asked, seeing Rinoa's eyes looking into the ballroom.

Rinoa was jerked out of her reverie and turned to Selphie. "Hmm? Oh nothing, I was just wondering where Seifer was," she said offhand.

Selphie jumped on it though. "Ooh, has Squall got some competition to worry about?" she said impishly. She turned to study Irvine. "Maybe I should try having a bit on the side," she said slowly. Irvine flapped his hat against her and she yelped. "Irvy! You know I wasn't serious!" she said.

"I know, but you look so cute when you're scared!" Irvine replied. Selphie giggled and downed the rest of her drink. She swung her legs off Irvine and grabbed hold of his hand, dragging him towards the ballroom. Irvine barely had time to say "whoa!" before he was throwing Selphie around with gusto. Rinoa had to admit, they could both dance pretty well.

Speaking of dancing…

She got up so suddenly that Zell nearly spilled his drink in his lap. "Where're you going?" he asked.

Rinoa smiled and waggled her finger at him. She strode off towards the ballroom, and found who she was looking for. Squall was still stood against the pillar, and he turned to see her approach. She smiled. Even if no-one else could tell the difference, she knew he had changed. She went up to him. "You're the best looking guy here, want to dance?" she asked him, grinning.

Squall gave her one look that said don't do this to me, and then Rinoa had dragged him from the pillar. Before he knew it he was in the middle of the ballroom, one hand holding Rinoa's, another around her waist. He listened to the music and recognised it as the first song he had ever danced to. He looked up through the huge skylight, and the moon glowed softly down back at them. Waltz for the Moon. It fits, he thought, and then he looked into Rinoa's eyes, saw the joy and 'freeness' in them, and lost himself in the dance.

The music changed to a slow ballad, and Rinoa took the chance to look around for Seifer again. She frowned. Where the hell was he? And where was Quistis for that matter? This was her ball as much as it was his. She had taken her students through the most impromptu and spectacular field 'exam' without losing a single student, and all of them had passed! She turned back to Squall. "Hey," she said quietly, so as not to interrupt the rhythm.

"Yeah?" he replied, just as quietly.

"Have you noticed Seifer or Quistis around recently?" she asked.

Squall tried to shrug, but was hampered by the SeeD uniform. "Quistis was talking to the Trabian delegation. Seifer was walking around, last time I checked. Why?" he asked.

Rinoa moved her feet ever so slightly, and suddenly the pair was at the outskirts of the dancers. She swung her arms from around Squall's head and moved back towards the table, where Irvine and Selphie were now sat, both smiling and laughing.

"You were a terrible dancer," the brunette said.

"Correction dear lady, you were terrible, and I had to draw attention away from it by being even more terrible."

"You were both great, have you seen Seifer or Quistis?" Rinoa asked, cutting into their game of one-upmanship.

Selphie actually did shrug. "Quisty? She was with the Trabians last time I saw her," Selphie said,

"Last time anyone saw her," Rinoa muttered.

"I think she went to get some air, she looked... a little rough," Irvine said with a pause. "Seifer and her left the hall a coupla minutes ago," he said. He turned to Selphie. "Speaking of leaving the hall, I have something for you you're gonna like…"

Selphie eyes glowed. "What? Is it a nuclear weapon? A bio-bomb? What?" she said.

Zell, Irvine, Rinoa and Squall all suddenly stopped what they were doing and stared at the girl in silence.

"O…kaaaay. I'm gonna back away now," Zell said, moving his chair well away from Selphie.

"Selphie, don't scare the nice heroes," Irvine whispered to her.

Selphie looked at him. "If it isn't a weapon of mass-destruction then I'm not interested," she said. Then her eye sparkled. "Unless…" she began mischievously.

"Wanton woman," Irvine muttered. He swung his chair around and caught Selphie's. As she fell to the floor he swept her into his arms and she squealed in surprise. Irvine caught Rinoa's eye, and she raised one eyebrow questioningly. Irvine bowed slightly, Selphie still in his arms, and then walked off, Selphie punching him on the arm to make him drop her. Zell just laughed and pushed another hot-dig into his mouth.

"Do you ever get tired of eating those things?" Squall asked.

"Will you ever go drag?" Zell asked in reply.

The small tinkling noise of an ashtray shattering in Squall's grip was all the answer he needed.



Free

The dream within

The voice is calling

A song

A prayer

From deep inside you

To guide you

Be

The dream within

The light is shining





Quistis sat on a small hill overlooking Balamb. Hyne it looked beautiful. The beam from the stationery anti-gravity rings created a blue line that reached through the cloudless night and shone as far as she could see, all the way into the moon. Even if ravenous Ruby Dragons had pursued them, it would have been worth landing the Garden anyway, just for this.

Suddenly her head throbbed, and Quistis' head jerked forwards as the pain took hold. She bit her lips and resisted the urge to scream. She held her head in her hand sand concentrated in the grass in front of her. When the pain had passed, she looked around, and saw that everything was a little blander than it had been. Every time the symptoms took hold, the world became a little darker.

Seifer found her there, staring down at the Garden. He walked up the hill towards her, and she raised her head to look at him. She had wiped off the makeup, and now she looked like a ghost, greyish skin pulled tight over her skeleton. One of her hands limply clutched her Save The Queen, lying on the ground, and Seifer saw she was unable to pick it up. He sat down next to her and she leaned back into him, what little weight she had left pressing against his chest.

"Seifer," she whispered, and he had to strain to hear her.

"Yes?" he replied, holding back tears.

"I'm afraid," she said, and Seifer felt her body spasm as tears ran down her cheeks.

Ultimecia, you bitch. Why her? Why not me instead?

Seifer drew her in closer towards him, and twisted her body so that she faced him. "You don't have to be," he said.

"Why me?" she said through sobs. "I don't want to die."

Seifer held her head up so that their eyes met. "I don't know why," he admitted. As a substitute for mere words he reached down and kissed her. She tried to put her arms around him, but she was too weak, and he had to help. They sat there, locked in each other's arms, for what seemed like eternity, but was over far too quickly.

She pulled away suddenly, and Seifer saw real fear in her eyes, they closed and she shook her head, nails digging into the dirt. Seifer held her tighter to him, not knowing what else to do. When she opened her eyes again Seifer felt his heart nearly fall from his chest. She wasn't looking at him, but through him.

"I can't see," she whispered.



A flight on the wind

Salvation begins



Rinoa walked up to Edea, who was talking with the new G-Garden Headmaster. She turned as Rinoa approached and smiled at her. "Yes my child?" she asked.

Rinoa took a deep breath and forged on. "Matron, have you seen Quistis or Seifer?"

Edea shook her head. "Let them go Rinoa. They want to be alone."

"I can't," Rinoa whispered. "I can't just let her go."

"My daughter, you have no choice in the matter. None of us do," she replied sadly.

Rinoa nodded once, and then went away, still intent on finding the couple before she lost her own chance.

Edea watched her as she vanished into the crowd, and said her own prayers and goodbyes.



Look beyond

Where hearts can see

Dream in peace

Trust the belief



Seifer held Quistis head in his hands as her eyes stared wildly around, unseeing. "It's OK, I'm here," he whispered. "I'm here."

Then Quistis buckled, and she fell into his arms, finally unable to support herself, her vital organs shutting down as Ultimecia's poison worked its last cruel effects on her.

"Seifer, it's so dark," she whispered, voice barely audible above the laughter of the Garden. Her eyes were losing their colour, and her skin was turning white.

"Don't speak." Seifer said.

"I'll wait for you, I promise," she said.

He kissed her. He kissed as if as by pressing his lips against hers he could reverse the last three weeks and restore her to life again. She barely felt it, and Seifer began to cry. Suddenly Quistis kissed back, and for one brief moment of hope he thought she would live, but then the adrenaline surge left her, she gasped for air one final time, and as her heart stopped beating she looked into his eyes for one moment, and then Quistis Trepe died in the arms of Seifer Almasy.



We tremble and spin

Suspended within



Rinoa ran through the plains of Balamb, trying to find Seifer and Quistis. Finally, she understood. She ran as fast as she could to where she knew Quistis would have gone.

Where are you? Please, please please please still be...

She slowed down as she came to the gentle slope away from the Garden, and saw two figures sitting there. She walked closer, and saw Quistis leaning against Seifer, and him holding her across his waist. She sighed and walked up to them. Maybe she had misunderstood.

Then Seifer looked up as she approached, and Rinoa saw that he was weeping, and that Quistis wasn't moving.

No. No, no, NO!

She walked up to Seifer and sat down next to him, not speaking. Seifer looked back down at the Garden and absentmindedly brushed a few strands of hair from her face. Neither spoke as the sounds of the party filtered up to them from the old Centran Shelter.

"Seifer... I'm... I can't..." She felt the tears well up behind her, but somehow she couldn't make them come out, and instead she sat down on the grass next to him. She heard other voices approaching, but ignored them, staring at her friend, now gone, she knew, where she couldn't call on her anymore.

"Seifer?" Selphie asked quietly, as she, Zell and Irvine approiached. Seifer shook his head once, and the brunette clapped her hands to her mouth, and started crying.

Why can't I do that?

"It's not fair..." Irvine whispered quietly, hugging Selphie to him.

"DAMNIT!" Zell screamed, punching the ground with his fists.

Why can't I react like that. All I feel is... empty...

"We should go back," Irvine said after several minutes' uncomfortable silence.

"Yeah," Zell said.

Slowly, the group stood. Seifer carefully gathered Quistis in his arms. Amazing how the dead could look so alive. He had the feeling that if he could just shout loud enough she would wake up.

One day, we'll follow you.

They walked down the hill back towards the Garden, and the sound of laughter, Seifer weeping silently, and the others around him, keeping their distance, yet closer to him than they had ever been before.

One day, but not yet…

Not yet…



Free

The dream within

The stars are crying

A tear

A sigh

Escapes from heaven

And worlds end



_____________________________________________________________________


The song is by Lara Fabian, called 'The Dream Within', and it's a beautiful song. Get it.

Oh, and one note; a few people e-mailed me asking whether there was going to be an alternative ending, like for Darkness Falls. Unfortunately, I really can't afford to pay anymore attention to this fic. However, if you want to write one, go ahead. Just e-mail me and say you're gonna do one, and do it. I won't stop you. Hell, if you want I'll upload it as a new chapter of this or something, fully credited. Your choice. ^_-

Now, under normal circumstances, I would post a more detailed thanks column for you great, wonderful people who read this fic. But... er... there's a whole lotta you this time around, so... will you settle for a list instead. Thanks. ^^ You're all great. Peace out.



Thanks to:



rendevzous,

Quistis88,

Ripley,

anime-diva,

Fulminis ictus,

seventhe,

thugstra,

Angelus Zion,

Mintaka1,

myeerah,

aaaa,

water-lily43,

Belaill,

Oracle,

KyuuketsukiShoune,

Cloud-123,

effect20,

frost,

Anubis,

Merkurrie,

Aeris D,

TheBlackRaveness,

smiling_idiot,

Jade Angel,

Kitsune-Eyes,

Lady Kat,

Squall Leonheart14,

paul(tri_2k),

OMGILOVEYOU,

Kudoh,

xahra99,

Kentai,

Corlan Windwatcher,

Starlight4U

CTHKSI,

jeangab057,

Kei Ayame,

Kikyou,

gauntlet challenge,

grimreaper3000,

trinity-frost,

FantasyWolf,

Mitsu,

nynaeve77,

PnkPanther9,

ShoontinStar,

Bad Tifa,

silver-nex,

pinkpau,

u dont need to know,

The Angel Of The Lion,

syunikiss,

Ling-San,

Bleeding In Vain,

Aphine Leonsoul,

the-[a]colyte,

paul,

Dark Angel,

Rast,

Legendary Super Candyce,

Juliet3,

Terra Figaro,

Boggart,

Mystic Moon Empress,

The Anti Fluffy,

quisty-chan86,

Sickness in Salvation,

ThunDaGa.



And finally, those special, special people:



Rin,

Nakigoe-chan

Refugee

Yunalesca78

Miss Black Dragon,

The Northern Star.



You guys are the best. Rock on all.