Fujin and Raijin had been given patrol duty and had been at it for hours. As usual, Raijin was aloof and didn't seem particularly interested in securing the perimeter. They both silently walked down the clear tunnel with an air of boredom about them. Things were just moving too slow. Action was what they both wanted and so far their only enemy had been the overwhelming silence. Raijin lazily scratched his butt as they entered into the middle room. Soft electrical light filled the area and enveloped the two people within.
"This is Hella boring ya know."
The tall warrior turned his head down to his still silent companion. There was a light nod and he sighed. She hadn't spoken since their encounter and there were no signs that she would again. As long as she was in some way responsive, he had learned not to worry too much about it. He gave her a light grin scratched the back of his head.
"I guess I'm just used to seeing students and stuff ya know?"
She shrugged lightly and marched to the center of the room. No-one other than Seifer, Fujin, Raijin and the Sorceress were allowed inside this area of the Pandora. Even the cadets that were there were few and far between. She past the purple draw point and angled her pale face upward to inspect the engines and motors running inside the Pandora. A reddish purple eye traveled to the ceiling that seemed to go on for eternity. Raijin stared for a few seconds and decided it was time for a break. He idly swung his large staff with natural ease. The beadwork on the head rattled lightly against the finely made wood. He had his back pressed against the left control panel. Once Fujin was satisfied to know that the area was indeed secure (it better had been, it took five rounds) she stopped and promptly sat down to sharpen her shuriken. To take his 'break', Raijin decided to walk over to one of the newly cleansed motherboards. Like the curious person that he was, the big oaf couldn't help but to watch the lights blink and flash before him. Temptation was just too much for him, as usual, and he couldn't help his finger from slowly inching towards one green button in particular. Closer, closer, closer… A 'shink' brought him out of his childish trance and he looked over guilty at her silent warning. Raijin now took this time to smile at this and other recent events. A few moments later, without a word, Fujin got up and walked down to the lower levels.
There had been a slight change in her since that day three weeks ago. Sometimes when he looked at her, he could SWEAR he saw a soul. Fujin was such a complex creature and in time she would be back to herself. She didn't need him around to heal, but he stayed anyway. He wanted to. The young man inhaled deeply and rubbed at his chin in contemplation. Even in her 'death' she was independent to a fault. Ultimecia would giver her assignments but they were always done on Fujin's terms. For some reason it reminded him of the days that she would sneak out without Seifer to the training center. It had happened once or twice but it really picked up after Seifer began dating Rinoa. Even after the split she kept at it despite the fact that it annoyed the crap out of Seifer.
-Not that he would admit it or anything.-
Raijin was stupid but surely no FOOL. He was apart of the D.C. for a reason. There were truths that they had all lived by. Number One: there are no secrets. Both he and Seifer knew about Fujin and Squall but at the time, that WHATEVER it was to be called, was the least of Seifer's worries. His sights were solely on Rinoa. She was his first love. Marriage this and marriage that. Of course, with all good girl/bad boy relationships, it eventually disintegrated. The fact that it was over wasn't what got to Seifer, it was how. How he loved that whimsical naïve angel she was. How soft and sweet. Raijin remembered how Seifer would melt at her version of puppy eyes. Seifer said he always loved it when she brought her finger up to her lips and winked, to let him know that it was all ok. Raijin had learned that she was indeed naïve, but far from being an angel. She was a user and abuser, her love had become addictive and she just blown him off. They had been dating for a year and had come out to a few people after six months. Raijin shook his head. Seifer had been going through a lot at that time. The fact that he could barely remember his past had become troubling to him. He had been having fevers one right after the other, long bouts of depression and he was reprimanded by the Headmaster at every meeting. Rinoa was his salvation so when they broke up, he refused to believe it. After realization set in, he refused see the negative affects that it had on him. He was a leader and that title gave him so much to deal with that he needed something to take it all away. He NEEDED her. If not all of Rinoa at least then something.
Raijin knew Seifer took his position with great pride and was serious about doing his duties but somehow, his vanity eventually would lead him astray. Raijin knew that it was truly Fujin who bore most of the weight of the D.C.'s burdens during that time. When they first formed together, it was equal, then slowly it began to weigh more onto her. Up until the war, she had been given it all. Damn Seifer and his damn distractions. Raijin's brow creased. She had to study, train, keep Seifer out of trouble, keep his relationship with Rinoa a secret, cover the 'groups' misdealings and pranks, keep Cid and Quistis off their backs, help Raijin study, make Seifer study, be the silent enforcer when students got rowdy and last but not least, maintain a take no prisoners attitude. And he knew there was so much more, she had to deal with her past despite the fact that it was hazy and laced with pain. She was strong. Fujin wasn't apart of the D.C., she WAS the D.C. Without her they would fall apart. Funny thing though, they had fallen apart when she 'died'. He wondered sometimes if she even still had her voice. Did it come and go? Does her soul flicker every once and awhile to let him know its going to be okay? Most importantly, was it too late to save her, or Seifer?
Raijin arched his back to work out the kinks that had snuck their way into his lower back. His bored eyes fell onto the draw point nearby as the question lingered in the air for a long moment. His throat tightened emotionally as he thought about it. A pair of steel toed boots appeared in his sight and he swallowed hard. After a deep breath he looked up. By now she had already turned her back and began to walk away. Raijin sadly smiled and picked up his staff to follow. Brown eyes bore sadly into a rigid back and he hadn't noticed where they were until she stopped and sat down. In confusion he looked around to see that they were in the underbelly of the Pandora. She turned her head slightly to him and he took this as a sign to sit. A small glimmer of hope began to shine within him. His silly smirk turned into an all out smile when he bent over to sit down. Fujin had never been one to be sentimental but she had her moments. After he got comfortable he looked ahead while she sharpened her weapon again. Yes, it would be alright. He knew that now. All he had to do was give it time.
"I'm glad you like your new gift, ya know."
She said nothing and continued silently, her face still cold and emotionless.
The Ragnorak sailed smoothly through the sky as dusk was starting to settle in the east. The stage was set and all the actors had to do was play their respective roles. The door slid open and Squall Lionheart walked lazily through it. Idly a gloved finger ran along the outer side of the hilt of his Gunblade. Many an enemy had fallen by that very weapon and there were many more to come, he knew. The chains on his belt and boots rattled slightly as he sluggishly plopped, step by step to his post. The steady hum of the engines was the only sound that filed the room. Squall bowed his head and drew his left hand up to his chest in a heavy sigh. He clutched regretfully at the thin cloth as his perfectly shaped eye brows furrowed in thought. The rattling stopped as he came to the window. Stormy gray eyes opened to see a sorrowful expression on a young and vulnerable face. Quistis, Ellone and Laguna had commented that lately he seemed so much older and wiser. And that may have been true, but he seemed to be the only one to realize that he was still only 17. In fact, none of his SeeD's were older than 19. Age, he supposed, had nothing to do with the mere act of waging and battling in war. However now, at his most vulnerable he looked his age. His build was thin and feminine with hunched shoulders, a small and lean torso and pale smooth skin. He looked young, inexperienced and frail. In an afterthought he concluded that he seemed so strong and smart because of his lack of speech and emotion. It was amazing how people can easily make up a persona for you if you don't interact with others much.
Squall had been pacing the ship for the past hour, thinking of such things. His team had launched off twenty minutes ago and there wasn't a single word coming from any of them. The silence wasn't unpleasant but it didn't seem to sit right with Squall. He took a look over his navigations crew. Selphie was busy fiddling with the left panel while chewing away on a piece of gum. Petite fingers flew across the board with great skill and ease. Her skills indeed were top notch and he found that he couldn't help but stop to look at her. Boredom was evident on her face but he could tell that she was concentrating. Like himself everyone of his friends had evolved in many ways. The slight frown on Selphie's face reflected her age yet the skills she was displaying showed otherwise. His gazed traveled over Irvine's tired features and he couldn't help but huff a bit.
-He always sleeps on the job.-
The sniper's hat was tipped over a slender face and his arms where loosely crossed across his chest. His breaths were deep and steady. From time to time his fingers would flex and Squall sighed. Even in sleep there was no rest. This was not what he had expected. Instead of a pumped up, adrenaline crazy crew there was a dull and lethargic group before him. It was odd. Every battle , every mission, they would be there, gunblade's a blazing'. This last mission was different. Why were they all so different? No. It wasn't them, it was HIM. Dealing with all of these emotions were new to him and it was unsettling.
-Emotions should come naturally damn-it.-
Battle after battle had taken its toll. The more he gained, he lost even more. His fist clenched slightly.
His eyes narrowed as he walked over to a nearby window. The sky was clear and the ship sailed through the clouds. Squall fingered his scar. They would be meeting again and he wouldn't let him get away.
-What has happened to you?-
This time he'll beat sense into Seifer. As much as Squall detested Seifer for his arrogance, he couldn't help but want to free the man. No, that boy. They were polar opposites. Squall dealt with his insecurities by cutting himself off from everything that made him who he was while Seifer indulged in every little thing he could find that was in him so that he could praise it. Each time Squall failed the farther away Seifer drifted. And with him were Raijin and Fujin. When he found it difficult to give a damn, he thought of them. He tried only because it was Fujin who convinced him that Seifer was reachable. Squall looked at his saddened expression on the thick glass and suddenly felt selfish. Day after day he would complain about loosing everything that he and Balamb had worked for when she had nothing. He groaned. If he had never spoken to her, gotten to know her, he wouldn't be feeling this way. A smirk lightly appeared on his tired face.
-Seifer would scream bloody murder if he knew.-
It had been right after Seifer's second failure of the SeeD exam. It was past curfew and Squall couldn't sleep. Silently he moved through the hall, not really caring if he was caught. As he kept on, he decided it was better not to be. Luckily, it was extremely late and he knew that the guard was asleep. Squall's jacket had been hastily pulled on over his wrinkled white tank and black jeans. His hair was disheveled, he realized, and decided to smooth it down until a fierce whip crack cut through the night. He knew that sound and clung to the wall of the walkway of the library.
Just a few moments later an angry Quistis briskly walked by with a slightly amused, slightly annoyed Seifer. Squall could hear a few random obscenities come from her as they walked down the hall until they were out of earshot. Squall couldn't help but be amused as well. Part of him wanted to tease Seifer later about it but he decided not to. That would just mean more attention for Seifer. He huffed and quickly continued on his way.
"Learn from the mistakes of others."
That was a policy that Seifer never had learned. He thought this as he checked his items before he jumped over the wall and silently moved past the now slumbering guard. After gracefully escaping with the tips of his toes, Squall stepped into the jungle. Immediately the stench and humidity of the arena heaped down on him. This didn't bother him however, these field trips had become quite frequent lately. In fact, it had now become his nightly ritual. Swiftly he maneuvered through the piles of debris and ducked into the secret area. The teen strode lazily across the makeshift bridge and welcomed the fresh air. He took a light step onto the balcony and breathed deep. A clean, distinctly different scent tickled his nose. It smelt pure and soft like the smell of snow near a waterfall. It was surely different from the usual aroma that surrounded the area but it was pleasant. The breeze picked up again and he found that it was coming from somewhere near him. From what he could gather the scent was coming from his right, so with quiet steps he walked to the very end of the platform. It took real grace to sneak through the chunks of old weapons and scrap metal. With each step the sweet scent got stronger and sweeter. He found himself stop at the sight of a pale hand. Silently gray eyes studied the body part. It wasn't possible for anyone to be that pale. Even the most pretty, properly raised ladies' skin wasn't as soft or pale nor were their hands as delicate. A bewildered mind searched for an answer and then it stopped and for a split second was put at ease. Surely, this couldn't be… He couldn't help himself, he had to put a voice to his thoughts.
The hand twitched a bit then slid away from view. Like a child, his curiosity got the better of him and he turned the corner. He blinked. One piercing eye locked with his and he found himself face to face with her. As always, her face was expressionless and calm. Squall quickly reverted back to his old self and put on his face.
"You shouldn't be here…"
Fujin harshly gestured her hand at his mouth. Her eye narrowed.
She motioned toward the opening of the secret terrace. He rolled his eyes and she returned to her earlier position. Another breeze picked up as the two stayed frozen in their places. Eventually Fujin had crossed her arms in front of her chest and growled a bit. Her annoyance with him irked his nerves and Squall breathed in deep to keep his anger in check. It was then that he noticed that she had been the source that he was looking for. Mini-Squall was telling him to leave but he ignored it. Fujin, despite the fact she hung out with the likes of Seifer, followed the rules. If he had remembered correctly, her record was spotless. Unlike Seifer and Raijin, she was the 'true' member of the D.C. Obviously he was wrong. Another breeze drifted between them and Fujin shivered. Having him near, hell anyone, near her was a bit unnerving and he could tell.
"… … …whatever."
She lifted her head high at his lame remark. The breeze swayed her hair just enough to expose her lack of clothing. It was not the usual attire that she wore. Of course, who would wear fighting gear to bed? Like his outfit, hers didn't stray too far from her trademark look. She wore black pants of some sort and a old and worn white tank with loosely laced boots and of course, what would the 'Fujin look' be without that eye patch.
He cringed slightly at her tone of voice and his thoughts returned at the situation at hand. Squall took another look at her. The moon seemed to shine directly on her. Her pale skin seemed to glow and she looked calm and serene.
-Those are the ones you have to watch out for…-
He knew that quiet warriors were among some of the most deadly. He considered himself that way.
His eye twitched involuntarily. Each time she spoke, her harsh way of speaking shattered the peaceful ambience. Plus, a part of him died inside each time she did it. He became aware that he had been staring so he decided to take the direct approach.
"Give it a rest."
Fujin's face contorted into a confused scowl. He smoothly stuck his hands in his pockets and walked over to the railing.
"My ears cant take it anymore….and I guess, it would be good for your voice too."
Squall was expecting for her to yell or threaten him but instead found her standing beside him with her back leaning on the railings. The fact that she wasn't trying to kill him was surprising. He did notice however, that there was a nice little distance of about 4 feet between them. He had judged her wrong all those times, she did have SOME manners.
Or maybe not. She lifted her eyebrow in haughtiness and he 'hmphed'.
"And here I thought a laxative would help your speech."
She snorted and he did so in return. They turned their faces away from each other and settled into a amiable silence. It stayed like that for awhile until Squall pushed himself away from the railing. A light fog had swept over the area and they knew that in a few hours classes would begin. He could smell the forming dew in the air. With a nod he turned to leave.
The young man paused mid step and looked over his shoulder.
Squall shook his head. He thought that she was the smartest of the bunch. Again, he had been wrong. It didn't take a genius to see that the sorceress' intentions were less than honorable. She had always been good at sniffing out lies, even when it was the Headmaster! Now that Squall had thought about it, he never even thought about Fujin or Raijin as their own separate beings. He always had thought about them in the terms of Seifer's property. Never did it occur to him to think about them as people. If it had been earlier in the war maybe he would had made the effort to dismantle The Sorceress' power by somehow taking them away from her. There was a sequence of beeps and automatically he looked over to the source. His eyes weren't focused on anything in particular as he looked on. The last thing he needed to be was frustrated and this was heaping it down on him in loads. It made him think about all of his mistakes, near misses, and possible solutions that would had been better for this whole damned mess. A thought, no conclusion, that he had feared to acknowledge, surfaced.
-I thought of only myself and my team's safety. I thought of my duty, but not to the citizens that I was performing it for. I rarely thought of those people outside of my relative circle.-
His eyelids drooped as his mouth parted slightly. The door behind him opened and Quistis marched in to hand him some photos of the Pandora. He took them and motioned her away. Vaguely he noticed the concerned look on her face before she departed. The shots laid loosely in his hands. Tiredly the shots were less than lovingly plopped down on a nearby panel.
-Seifer used to be the same way, but for some reason he's gone completely into himself-
Seifer, he realized, would be the death of him. He would do it. He'd kill the man if need be. And he would do it quick and efficiently. He was a leader and it was his responsibility, not Seifer's, to change the world. A part of him grew even sadder at the apparent prospect of killing Seifer because he finally confirmed something he knew all along.
-Seifer may have cast aside his family but he will never loose his will to fight. He will stop at nothing to be remembered and he will not rest until his name is immortalized.-
Squall looked up contemplatively at himself as he gripped his Gunblade, ready for battle.
-He fears himself and fears being a useless no one-
"…and for that Seifer and I are alike."
Beautiful hues of blue and pale shades of yellow danced together on a wonderfully decorated ceiling. Idle chatter and music buzzed softy as the smell of vanilla drifted around. Women in olden dresses and masks twirled around in dance and shared gossip. Young men in armor conversing and whispering sweet nothings into the ears of their betrothed. Yet, in all this splendor there was one thing that outshone and commanded the attention of them all: Seifer. He delicately held his white mask in his right hand as his left rested on the hilt of Hyperion. Golden locks were smoothed back and icy eyes complemented a sexy, taunting, grin. All eyes were on him as he made his descent from the lavish throne. The ladies swooned and the men bowed in awe of him. Like for a king they watched and admired. His steps were slow and purposeful, he wanted them to see all his glory. Complements came up like wildfire and he dismissed them for the only thing he wanted was a few paces in front of him. Her hair cascaded past slightly hunched shoulders. Her dress was long and flowing and accentuated every curve and every great thing about her. His grin stretched into a smile and his pace picked up. How long had he waited to be with this woman, this woman of his dreams? He could not tell nor did Seifer wish to think of it. Slowly she began to walk away with her smooth, pale, back facing him. Seifer tried to shout but no words would come forth.
-Faster, I must run faster!-
By now he had discarded the mask and had broken into a full out run. Now the crowd was laughing and taunting him.
"She'll never be yours."
"She doesn't want you, she never did!"
Pain seared through his chest but he ran on. When he was just an inch from her, she turned her head and the most unexpected thing happened. She screamed. Her face seemed to morphed momentarily. Seifer stumbled and stopped in his tracks.
"Its me, ME Seifer!"
Again the young man reached but met nothing but the end of her dress' train. Hurriedly, she ran away, never once turning back until she reached the balcony. After regaining his senses he began to catch up but before he could reach the doorway she had turned with fearful tears in her eyes.
"I do not know you! Seifer, SEIFER! Where have you gone?"
"It IS me! I'm right HERE!"
She looked at him with disgust.
"You are NOT him."
She took a step towards the edge. There was a creak in the metal and her eyes briefly scanned the loose bearings. She looked at him, for the last time.
"Who are you?"
His mouth opened but instead of words, a helpless yell almost shriek came out as he saw her push back and fall from the balcony.
Seifer jolted upwards with his hand outstretched. His eyes were wide and fearful. Another nightmare. He sat their, eyes wide and hands shaking, the arm never leaving its raised position.
He closed his hand and slowly brought down his arm to rest it on his now raised knee. The images of his nightmare were haunting apparitions and slowly began to fade. Seifer studied the vanishing scene. The blues and yellows turned to grays and blacks, the chatter quieted down to silence, the vanilla aroma began to sour, the women in dresses and the men in armor began to become no more than wisps of fractured electrical light. He rose and the grand palace became smaller as he walked through it, towards the balcony. The banners and marbled floor were no more and soon all there was left was a dark, uninviting room with a bed, a desk and a cloudy mirror. As the last image vanished, Seifer came face to face with what was really before him. It was a dusty old guilded mirror hanging on the wall.
-Look at it…-
The voice inside his mind, what he thought to be himself, beckoned him. Distractedly Seifer thought of his nightmare as he went over to inspect the item.
The nightmares have gotten better.
He remembered how wonderful it felt to walk down from his throne. Yes, HIS throne. Seifer tried to boost himself with false pride. When he realized this he huffed.
"I am Seifer Almasy for Hyne's-sakes! I shouldn't have to pretend."
-Are you completely sure BOY?-
Indignantly, to prove his point, he strode over to the mirror to take a look at his beauty. He leaned over a bit, as if he were bowing, and kept his eyes closed as his face aligned with the mirror. A smug smile was on his face, however, when his eyes opened, his jaw dropped.
His hair was dull and dirty, basically matted to his head, his eyes were dull, his clothes were filthy and his skin seemed to melt off of his bones.
"That is not me."
His body began to shake with a swelling sadness.
"No...It's just dusty! That's right, I haven't used this thing in ages!"
He cracked a hopeless lopsided grin and began rubbing the dust off. Seifer had always been a man who valued his looks and appearance but what stared back at him made no sense and appalled him. He, The Great Seifer Almasy, looked as if he were touched by Death itself. Or even worse, had become it.
"This cant be right. This is not me!"
His inner self cackled at his denial.
-Oh really? Do you even know WHO you are anymore? What you are and what you have BECOME?-
Seifer's jaw nearly unhinged itself. Who was he? The sleeve of his coat ran frantically across the finely made glass. This was not him!
Angrily he repeatedly punched the mirror, chanting 'no' over and over again until his ragged breathing made him sick. He whirled around and looked at his surroundings. He lived like some PIG, some foul creature not worthy of living!
Like a fierce whirlwind he tore madly and blindly at the dirty draping's over his bed. He screamed like a banshee as he used Hyperion to render the bed to a pile of cloth. He would destroy everything! He would destroy the world if he wanted to! HE WAS SEIFER ALMASY! There was and never will be one such as he! Like a madman he laughed a soulless laugh as he tore through the desk in a single blow. What a fool! What a fool he was! He let that bitch leash him!
"Its that BITCH who needs a LEASH!"
That determined smirk that used to be a common feature on his face returned again. He tossed his head back and chuckled before it started to break into slight crying.
"But…I..I am.. Sei- Seifer… Alma-"
-What's in a name boy? Is that even your real name?-
He stood in the middle of the room staring blankly with hunched shoulders and a open mouth, panting. True, what was in a name indeed? Nothing, he concluded. Who needs a name? Even if the sands of time destroyed his name, the fact that he LIVED and DID LIVE (one hell of a life) would remain forever. What would it matter if they knew him by name or not? Slowly his eyes circled upward and to the left. Soon his head, ever so slowly turned to the object of his eye's attention. The mirror. His body soon followed and Hyperion's tip scraped after him. His hollow gaze looked at the shards. There were small pieces that had fallen out, leaving a jagged, distorted image of him. Hmmm, what would Lionheart say now?
-What he'd say, what he'd say, what he'd say….-
Seifer crossed his arms and idly drummed his fingers on his upper arm.
-What he'd say, what he'd say, what he'd say….-
He squinted his eyes, no longer looking at the mirror. His breathing slowed and his chant continued.
"Lionheart….what a gay name."
"You'd think puberty boy would have come up with a better name than that! So fuckin lame!"
With the smirk still on his face Seifer straightened up and refocused on the mirror. A tiny shard hung determinedly on the edge. Smoothly he bent slightly and plucked it off. After examining it, he tossed it and looked at the broken reflection. Silently he studied his profile, first the left then the right, sniffed and pulled back his hair. His smirk deepened.
"Hmph. THIS is me."
He expertly aimed and swung around Hyperion with grace and inspected the blade as if it were an old friend he hadn't see in ages. He sheathed it and posed. Satisfied with himself he turned and walked out the door, whistling a tune. Was he still crazy? Yes, like a fox. But now, he realized, he had a purpose. Something with TRUE meaning, something he never had before. He would kill Squall or die trying. He would give Rinoa to Adel and he would discard his posse. He was beyond it all. Beyond feelings anymore, beyond remorse or sadness. There was nothing that could hold him back because he knew, just knew, today, he was going to die. And dammit, he was taking everyone with him.
Well, that's chapter 7! I decided to post because its been a year and I've had this sitting around for over 5 months! I just needed to decide what to do for Seifer and I decided, let's go crazy, AGAIN! Weeeeee! Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed this story! It really DOES mean a lot! THANK YOU!