Legal Note: Seifer, Edea, and the D-District Prison are property of Squaresoft. The author makes no prior claim.

The lyrics for "Cynical World" were written by Yuki Kajiura. The author does not pretend to be a song-writer. (Thank the stars for that).

Here we stand in ravishing rain

Joy is like pain

It feels like a miracle

Cold, glinting steel. Sinister and relentless. The colour of gunmetal, of the blade. Unfeeling. The colour of incarceration, emptiness. No escape.

Solid footsteps sounded through the metal halls as Seifer's boots strode toward their ultimate destination. The young man did not allow his gaze to wander. Chin high, he stared ahead. Strong shoulders rotated easily beneath a worn trench coat as his arms swayed at his sides. In one thick gloved hand he held his weapon. The flashing metal sliced lethally to the rhythm of his pace. Aware, but unheeding, of the wary glances directed at him by passing soldiers, he kept to his purpose. Not once did he slow his gait.

In this hall it was he who ruled, he who commanded the helm. Unlike countless others who had traversed the corridors he had nothing to fear. The steel door of the cell would never imprison him. There was no reason for the foreboding tingle that caused his back muscles to tense and his skin to chill. Here he was in his element, secure in his position. He was on the side of right, he knew. He had to win. This was his destiny. There was none who stood above him, none who did not cower beneath his green fire stare.

None but his General. His Escort. His Lady. She was everything. Every breath he took was by her will. Every thought that filtered through his mind was for her achievement. She had saved him and in return he would serve. Forever, if she required it. They were one. Only together could they accomplish what they had both longed for since birth.

Acceptance. Respect. Honour. Contentment.

They would fight and they would bleed and they would die for the dream. Hope was enough to keep them going. The knowledge that their actions were noble silenced whatever conscience remained. They sought peace within. And end to the torment of the veracious world. Spurred on by sheer will and the wisdom that the past cannot be changed, they stood unblinking. Unbending. Two lonely hearts against the world. If they won, and he knew had no choice but to do so, it would be the most spectacular coup in global history. Gloria.

Yet if they were taken down too soon - the concept of that ran his blood cold - their names would still receive a similar fate. Perhaps not glory, but immortality. Forever would they be infamous. They had nothing to lose.

You can't turn back, you're in chains

Never again

Return from a cynical world

Not a glance was awarded to the guarding soldier as he entered the room. He was meaningless, expendable. Just another uniformed body. To Seifer and the female who sat at the front of the room, he was nothing but a Pawn in their deadly game. Whereas he was a Knight and she was the Queen.

Dark eyes held his, watched as he spanned the yards to come to a stop at her feet. Regal on her throne, she sat on a dais, elevated just enough to force even a grown man to look up. Her gown gave her the impression of royalty, long and dark it swirled to the floor in a silken train. Her dramatic cape and headpiece gave her the impression of height her petite frame lacked. She was a woman of immense power and she both looked and played the part with imperial elegance.

Sheathing his gunblade at his side, Seifer lowered his head. "The missiles are ready to launch, my Queen." He spoke with deference in low tones, lifted his eyes to regard her response.

At his order his home, the place where all of his memories had been manifested, would be no more. His earliest dreams had been formed there, died there. The place of his adolescent innocence and his brutal awakening into reality. His victories. And his failures. He could not afford to be sentimental. Balamb stood in the way of the Sorceress. Therefore, it must be eliminated. No survivors.

"Perfect." Edea inclined her head and curved her lips. She gazed at the male in front of her with interest. "I understand this must be difficult for you, my boy."

"It's not my home anymore." With a jerk of his shoulders, he straightened, clasped his hands behind his back. Something flashed within the depths of his eyes. "It never was."

"Hmmm." Her features softened. With one hand she reached out, combed her fingers through his hair and let her touch linger on his cheek.

She knew there was nothing he would not do for her. No battle he would not wage. He was her Guardian, her unwavering shield from those who wished to do her harm. And there were many. She was conscious that if the valiant young man she had chosen to be her Knight was to descend, she would be swift to follow. The bond between them was greater than Lady to Soldier. There was a past, a history, than neither could quite grasp. But something in the recesses of her muddled mind she realized she knew him. She wanted to save him as much as he wanted to save her. He was more than her companion. He was her child.

If you feel you've loved me in vain

Why not relive your guilty love affairs

In the warm breeze you will cry

Again and again

That's fate for a criminal

"Should I order the attack?"

"Not yet." Her voice was a whisper, husky and soothing. "Stay with me awhile." Her hand lowered from where it had rested on his jaw.

He recognized the need in her now warm features as clearly as he recognized it in his own. She was impossible to resist. He nodded his assent and relaxed his stance.

"Squall still refuses to talk."

"As I expected." Edea smiled then gestured for him to sit at her feet. It was a smile that would have frozen any man in his shoes, cold and empty. The raw edges of it snapped in her eyes, causing her dark brows to narrow. But her voice continued to resound softly in his ears, comforting. He knew better than to be afraid. "He's a SeeD. It's in his very nature to resist. I did not think you could break him so easily."

It was a reprimand. Though light, it got his back up. An unfamiliar feeling of shame made him shift under the hand that lay on his shoulder.

It had been his idea to interrogate the SeeDs. A part of him had still hoped to bend them to his will, to make them see the error of their ways. To eradicate them without death. He could not say why, but there was a binding tie there as well. Beyond that of Garden. While he told himself he hated them, despised them for everything they were and everything he wasn't, he could not wish for their fatality. It rankled him, but he knew, just knew that doing that would be his own decline. It was all mixed up with fate and magic and sunshine and rainfall. And a small quiet beach strewn with brightly coloured shovels and pails.

Seifer shook his head to wipe out the satin-rimmed vision. Useless. It was all useless.

"I will." He told her, one fist clenching on his knee, the other grasping the hilt of the blade. "He will confess. They all will."

"As you demand." With a gentle sigh, Edea ran a finger down the shell of his ear. "I worry about you. My poor little child. So lost, so alone. Why do you fight it so?"

"I have no choice." Once he shivered under her cool touch. Then again. "It's all been predetermined. Hyne meant it so."

"Do you really believe that?" Her laughter was harsh, swelling rich and deep. Her finger flicked at his lobe before she rose in one movement. Standing above him now, her slender hands, Sorceress's hands, gritted at the sides of her gown. The long skirt gleamed, shimmering under the force of her power. The hue changed from violet to black, to navy, to violet again in one movement. "If what you speak is true, than what's the drive for all this?" One long arm waved through the air as her voice rumbled. "Why shall we move to change our fates if it is impossible? Why should we dare to go against Hyne?"

The soft woman was gone. The sad eyes and wistful of expressions of Edea had been wiped away. To be replaced of the twisted anger of a woman who had lived too much and felt too little. Bitterness drained through her pores. Seifer could almost smell the aroma of her hatred, it was so strong. Ultimecia had returned.

"Because you wish it so, my Queen." Rising, he turned to face her, standing tall. "Because you are more powerful than Hyne and you will be redeemed."

"Yes." The woman's lips peeled back in a cruel smile. She lifted her graceful arms to the air, titled back her head and exposed her long pale throat. Electricity zapped from her fingertips. "My soul will be released and there will be deliverance for all that have undergone imprisonment of the mind." The air began to clog in his lungs and his brain clouded. "Justice." She said the word once, savoured the flavour of it on her lips. Lowering her arms, the air thinned again and Seifer could breathe freely. Her gaze was penetrating, omnipotent, as it focused on him. "We will all have justice. And you, my pet, my loyal fool. Will have everything you desire.

"Destiny," she spat with distaste before snickering. "Destiny is for the weak. The helpless. We will ne'er be so again."

Good intentions lost in thin air

You were craving for affection

And a certain invitation

Led you here to me in the cynical world

There was no going back. The though reverberated in Seifer's skull as he watched the woman before him, dulled. It had all be set out for him the moment he had jumped on the train to Timber. Perhaps before then. No regrets. No guilt. There was no where to go but to the future and whatever lay in it's stormy passages.

Ultimecia shook back her head and arched her spine, mocking the steel ceiling of the prison. Cold, so cold. With her was everything, was a chance, however slim, for what he had been searching for all his life. She had brought it within his scope. It would be his responsibility now to take it.

Slowly the laughter quieted and the intense feeling of hatred that had flooded all senses ebbed away. But the room was colder still. The new expression on her face wasn't hard but nor was it soft as it had been before. It was lifeless, resigned. Seifer imagined it was similar to the one on his.

He could sense her withdrawal, even before the light in her eyes died. Before she fell onto her chair and stared blankly forward. Theirs was a link more powerful than any spell, stronger than any blade. He would not leave her side. No matter what the stars held for them. To the death.

"Edea," his voice was quiet, cutting though the now still air of silence. "What will you have me do?"

No one but me in this cold place

(Here we stand in ravishing rain)

I will love you and serve you, criminal

Keen awareness appeared on her face at the sound of his words. She lifted her head and waved her hand. "Commence the attack. The war will begin."

"As you demand." Seifer bowed but kept his eyes direct on those of his Lady. "I will follow."

With fluid movements he pulled out his weapon, gave it a few test carves. For the first time he smiled. But Edea knew it was not joy that caused the action, but fear. Yes, he would follow. If only they could be sure she would lead. When he made a move toward the door, she called him back on a breathless whimper.

You don't have to do this, her gaze seemed to say. There is still time. If not for me than for you.

His gaze closed and she saw his jaw constrict. He wrenched his neck away. Her lungs released in a hiss and she sat back against the brocaded. The vulnerability that had passed over her pallid features in that one moment was gone. Never to return again. She had a role to play. It was time to embark on her chosen path. Time to let him go.

"Good luck, my faithful Knight."

That's your final consolation

(Never again return from a cynical world)

Now hang on to me, in the cynical world

A tremble scuttled over his broad frame. She could see it as he walked away.

When the door closed at his back and she was left alone, her eyes drifted closed. She felt the power rise within, fought to control it. It was tempting, so tempting, to allow the vicious flare of it to take over. The pleasure that came the times she did let go was colossal. She could taste a glimpse of it now, always. Provocative and piquant. Each time she resisted the power only seemed to grow stronger, out of spite. She worried for the day she would no longer be able to force it down. For the day she let insatiable desire for more, always more, rule her body.

Yet though it all she would do her best to save Him. She would try to keep Seifer from succumbing to the ultimate spell. Even if it meant giving up her own life. For it was her fault he was involved. She had been lonely, so lonely. And he had been lost and so willing. Ripe.

The Sorceress had not been able to forbear.

They were together now. And while she could not predict the imminent, she knew that would never alter.

Fidelity was all either had left to rely on.