Forethoughts: Thanks again to the amazing Karina Kineshi for her allowing me to shamelessly snatch up her ideas. And, albeit grudgingly, to the video-game magnificence that is Squaresoft. I stake no claim.
This little tribute was written along similar lines of "Our Quistis's" and serves as a gift to the multitude of fabulous writers out there who devote so much time to figuring out the often disjointed mind of our favourite anti-hero. Your words have not gone unheeded by this yarnspinner and I can only hope I did you justice. There is more within you all than I could ever render. More within him. This is a mere selection of all that could be said. Thank you for sharing with me.
He was the bad boy.
With a derisive sneer and a ruthless blade, we watched him battle his rival, the hero. He would not let up, thrilled to the sight of Our Squalls' moments of weakness, and readily took advantage of any opening. The gunblades flashed and collided, no action going unnoticed. We lifted our eyebrows when he stopped at nothing to win, employing fire when pure physical strength was not enough. Shook our heads when he attacked a fallen adversary. Called him cocky. And when he went on to abandon his comrades at a time of peril, cowardly.
He had no need for rules. He followed his own path, his own code of valour that none could quite understand. Instead of focussing on a goal of official achievement like his peers, he searched wickedly for vainglory. Deliberately went against all form of protocol, goaded his ostensible allies into following him down a divergent course with no clear result. He thought for himself, fought for himself, shed blood for himself and no other. Would not bow to authority, no matter what the cost. No matter if it meant success would never wind itself round his gloved fingers.
His looks were rugged, all power and sinew. His movements rough but strangely graceful. And never anything but big. He waved his weapon as if it were an extension of his arm, tapped it against his shoulder as if it was not as deadly as it seemed. Everything he did was done as a show, a proof of his unfaltering confidence. He was the guy in charge, and he wanted to make sure everyone knew it. His smirk belligerent, he was the notorious asshole of Balamb Garden. He liked it that way.
His arrogance only grew in size during the final test of ability. We snorted and loudly declared our desire for him to lose, as brash as he was. But later, when the bitterness of failure glimmered in his eyes, we felt it. We sensed his utter disappointment. And we faltered in our early judgments.
He was anything but a coward.
His swagger lost its previous élan, his broad shoulders, while still straight, had now tensed. Although his chin still continued to damn the world to hell and back, the tilt of his jaw was not so sure.
He was as human as we.
He was Seifer Almasy.
In place of scorn we now revelled in his seemingly everlasting pride. Because we had seen beyond the cavalier exterior to the insecure boy beneath. We recognized his harrying as a sign of inner trepidation. He was strong, but oh so passionate. Dangerous, even lethal. But appealing. His anger was palpable, and frightened as it arrested.
Through it all, the insult and the internal dismay, his pride remained intact, if somewhat bruised. There was none to stand beside or behind him now but his ill-assorted posse, whom we were pleased did not waver in their loyalty. We wanted him to have someone, anyone, to help him regain his strength. For in his eyes we could see more than all others. More than those whom had turned their backs. We did not wish him to be always alone.
Though the hero occupied our central thoughts in the back of our minds we harboured a beacon of hope for his triumph. His bold actions in Timber impressed us. This was no soldier. He lived for himself and mocked those who did not. He felt more than he should and our hearts sighed.
At the ultimate fateful moment, when he was granted a choice between an adolescent dream and a harsh reality, we did not blame him for selecting the former - though it pitted him against us. We would have it no other way.
He was a romantic.
He was a bully.
His childhood drifted by in a fantasy of flowers and seawater. But even then it was clear he was not happy. Surrounded by the people who would gather around again in his life, he seemed to find little joy in possible friendship. He taunted Our Zells and we chuckled. Was berated by Our Matrons and we ducked our heads. Gazing at his shining blonde hair and tiny fists, we longed to hold him within our embraces, cradle him in our laps and flutter his nightmares away. He was so young and so brave. But it was not to be so.
Little changed within the parade of the following years. At eighteen he was taller and his shoulders were broader under the weight of his hardened soul. But we could see he was just as confused about the nature of life and his role in it as he had been on the shores of Centra. His offence was powerful and many dared not traverse it. Yet we somehow found the courage. He was dark, cold, and foreboding.
As a student, incorrigible. It seemed only right for him to head the Disciplinary Committee. There was not a cadet among the ranks who would dare stand against his word. Or his weapon. His instructors threw up their hands and declared him a lost cause. Our Xus mocked each and every failure he met up with in hopes one day he would fold his hand. They did not understand.
He was a child.
Despite the fear his heart remained noble and we could sense an all-pervading honour in the lift of his chin. In the shimmer of his eyes. He longed to be greater, always greater than those who sniffed the air and turned their heads. In his heart, he prayed he held the right power within. With his actions he told the world he knew he did. He was all that was confident.
One day, his eyes seemed to read, one day.
All he desired we wanted for him.
As authors we endeavoured to justify his brutality during a catastrophic war of magic versus steel. We cleared his guilt with avowals of sorceress possession, idealistic intentions, and romance.
At his moment of deserved glory we celebrated. In that instant his eyes gleamed with accomplishment. Our happiness was only thwarted with the knowledge that it would be fleeting. The parade would be soon over.
When enemies threw out curses and labelled him a torturer, a villain, and a traitor, we shouted back just as hotly in his defence. Our hearts bled for him when he met failure after failure. We sobbed and wallowed over his relationship with Our Edeas. He was not evil, as they claimed, but misunderstood. He stood up for his lady and with that we could find no fault.
Stubborn to the end, we hated to put him down. Winced and cried out as we made the final blow. He was tragic. And we suffered, ashamed.
He was the Sorceress' Knight.
It was not his time for victory. There was nothing we could do.
After the story of Our Squalls had lived out its denouement and all was again well in the mortal realm, we could now focus on the despair of the fallen knight. Our hearts broke as his bled in grief. As he tried to exist in a world that did not want him. We rallied up against those who would name him the witch's lapdog and throw even bigger stones. Our fists clenched when he was tossed in a cell, imprisoned for life. It did not seem right for such an unclaimed spirit to be defeated, trapped within concrete.
This time there was something we could do.
Sometimes we failed and his life was cut short by those who would see him vanquished. Often, it was only his sagging posse that grieved. But sometimes, others found it in their souls to forgive, to try to understand his fierce deeds, and to place petals upon his tomb. We were able to smile through our tears. He would not be forgotten, infamous for all time. Always remarkable.
More often, we would not give in to the forces of vehement justice, we released him from those who had contained him, enabled him to escape from his enemies. Wandering across tempestuous territory, he hid desperately from his pursuers. Spend his days as a fugitive. But they could not last forever. Bounty hunters, SeeDs, armies, politicians, all craved his head. Always he was caught.
He faced juries and courts, listened as his former classmates gave testimony. He was possessed, we claimed, and was not to be blamed. Fate, we cried, had more control than any living creature. He had been given no choice. It was the darkness, the ubiquitous darkness of bladed power. Any other would have fallen the same.
He was not innocent, never innocent, but we could not hate him. Whatever he had done, he had believed he was in the right. It is never the victors who are charged with war crimes, only the beaten. All were guilty. He could not be prosecuted. Hyne would not allow it. Mercy and justice would not allow it.
In our eyes he was acquitted.
His armour had tarnished.
Now he was to face demons of a different variety. If the guilt shoved upon him by external forces did not see his final end, we made him deal with the larger might of overwhelming regret. When it grew to an intensity too great to bear, we ached. As stubborn as he, we ventured into his twisted frame to give him the faculties to deal with the omni-present pain.
Torment seemed to dog his heels.
He had no place to go. Jaded, bitter, and all but destroyed, he sought refuge on the strand of Centra. Our Edeas would always take him in, soothe his puckered brow, just as we had longed to do. Finding peace there, we settled him upon the docks of Fisherman's Horizon. We gave him contentment in crystalline water, rinsed his blood-guilt with salty air and spicy fish. The eyes of the world turned away once more.
When this would not satisfy, we gave him the courage to face his past allies and returned him to Balamb. His pride was not too great to prevent him from one last try and when it was we made him swallow it. There was always someone there to take him in, Our Cids would never completely give up on the reluctant student. Hoping, like us, this time would be different. That he had changed.
It seemed possible that perhaps life could make him happy.
Maybe now he could hold success within his grasp.
Surrounded by those he'd met in battle he persevered to present a new image of himself. Not defeated, but tall once more. He was given a fresh opportunity to achieve all he had ever dreamed in many restless nights. Though his jacket was torn, and his scar a vibrant slash, he would learn how to thrive again. Older, stronger, wiser, he would not back away. He faced each challenge, monster, faction, villain, head-on. Just as we had expected.
Nothing had changed.
He was a warrior. First-class.
But one fact still lingered, tingling the backs of our minds, even as we sat back and determined his ultimate conquest. Though our eyes filled as he stepped up and made the move from ex-criminal to SeeD and hero, we could not rest completely easy. He was still very much alone.
He had no need for corporal gain.
His posse, we decided, was not enough to seal the emptiness. Their friendship was sturdy but not equal in terms. He needed fellow combatants of matching ability to test his mind and grant him ideal companionship. Male and female. There were few that would do but the very same individuals fated to grow from similar roots. His childhood cohorts and teenage enemies, we felt, were the only ones capable of becoming his future friends.
Forgiveness could not be quick in coming on either side. Too much had passed amidst them for anything to be simple. Sometimes it never came at all. But frequently it came slowly when he was able to prove himself credible in front of their doubting gazes. Our Irvines grew to accept his traits, took the good with the bad, and were smart enough to match his wits. Our Zells were always grudging, nothing would ever be forgotten, but the rivalry and heckling became good-natured, comfortable, if not affable.
It was a separate tack with Our Squalls. Theirs had always been a heated relationship. Complex and demanding. They'd met fists since youth, neither prepared to grant the other the lead. Jealousy existed even with little cause. They were too different to ever be buddies, and too much the same. Between them battles would perpetually arise. Yet more regularly now, we had them fighting the same one, side by side. They were allies, if nothing else.
The bitterness faded to latent, unspoken trust.
He was desired by all. No longer did he face rejection at every angle.
He was a legend.
We made him come to terms with himself, with who he was. We made him feel it was okay that Our Rinoas found the arms of someone else. He was able to shake off the hurt and move on. Though not always with optimism. He vowed to never be caught up in emotion he could never understand. Such relationships were not for him.
He was certain love was an illusion he had no use for.
His soul was damaged.
When we could no longer give him Our Rinoas to patch the wounds, we looked to the others that were speckled throughout his circle. We gave him new happiness with Our Fujins, Our Selphies, Our eager Cadets, and…Our Quistis'.
Only she had the capacity to match his will. Our Quistis' did not recoil from his blaze, did not try to dampen his ever-present unruliness. She respected it, let her strength be augmented by his own. They were matched in the fact that they were not. Meeting stride for stride, wit for wit, sneer for sneer, we saw the potential for completion. Pleasure for pleasure. Understanding, need, and support, rested in the eyes of Our Quistis', ready to back him up when others did not.
He was charmed by her compassion even when he did not wish to be. She was just as determined to find her way, just as tenacious and as skilled. He could admire that.
They were equals on every scale. She balanced him, grounded him. Enflamed him. His passion found a new direction away from the battlefield.
They were both alone, separate. Individually they could achieve, succeed, and find satisfaction. Neither needed the other to survive. But together, their flames could blossom and they would flourish. Find bliss.
We showed him that love was so much more than an illusion.
For him we made it better than any dream.
It was reality and it was grand. His noble heart thrilled to life.
He was, after all, a man.
Tragic and lost, we gave him a life beyond imagination. We saw through the air of indifference and arrogance to the searching mind. His masks were ripped to shreds in our nimble hands. We brought out the best in him. And we brought out the worst.
Sometimes the darkness was too much to endure. The violence of gunmetal beyond our control. When this occurred we closed our eyes in grief for what might have been.
Never once did we forget his words. Though riddled with flaws, we hunted out his quality, made it tangible for all to recognize. We gave him resolution. And when we could, absolution.
All of us, we believed, contained a piece of him.
Unable to dismiss him as a rogue or a simple foil to the hero, we dabbed away at the veneer until we uncovered the champion beneath. Lifting him up, he became our hero, proving to all he was more than worthy, more than fit at handling the role. And if he were to stumble, we ensured someone was there to knock him back up on his rightful throne. Though his crown was crooked, it was firmly held in place. We would not let him down.
For he would never let us down.
His name was our own destruction. And our own creation.
No matter what, we will forever believe.
He is no longer just the bad boy. To us he never was.