Now don't get me wrong; I never expected to live forever. Hell, I never expected to live past forty, knowing what made good SeeDs and how lacking in that certain aspect I was. Now, Squall…Squall was a Commander's wet dream; strong and silent and just smart enough to be able to handle himself, but not so smart he thought he knew better than his superior. Squall would have died quietly in his bed.
Seifer? I don't know about him. He's reckless, but has the strength and skill to back it up. It's a toss up between an early, violent death and a hard won peaceful going, but here I am without a coin or the ability to read it. I fucking hate Blind.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. I never expected to live forever. But I sure as hell didn't expect to die before I was even made a SeeD. But I guess life is just a little too fond of playing that sort of trick on people, because here I was, blind and mute and Hyne knows what else while Doom with a capital D was reaching for me with more tentacles than I had brain cells. There was a moment between total blindness and working sight, one last clear image of the thing descending upon us, and I had just enough of my brain not in panic mode to realize what the thing was.
What was it doing on Balamb? Fuck if I know. The only place I've heard of them inhabiting is Esthar, and from what I've heard you shouldn't even try to fight them. Just run. That's what all the experts say.
They never told me how to run when you're Paralyzed.
I couldn't see. I hate not seeing. I don't even know why I never tried to protect against Blind. What was I thinking?
It was really close now, whatever it was. It looked a bit greenish, with way too many tentacles, but then so did everything else. My vision swam sluggishly, like a Slow spell cast on my brain and Haste on everything else. Disjointed and nonsensical. Fuck.
But it was still a monster, right? Monsters die.
But then so do humans.
I could feel Seifer's arm through the sleeve that I grasped. It was tense, shaking with nerves and fear. I could feel heat, too; more heat than I was used to, and I knew he was summoning. Then an explosion of movement, and he was gone, replaced by fiery rage and the strength to act upon it.
I held my breath. Not in anxiety or anticipation, but because Seifer had gone. He'd left me alone with the monster, with the flame and acid and the stench of death and taken my breath along with him. I choked on burning air, felt my chest fill with ice and stone and then there were hands on my arms, pulling me back up, and I could breathe again.
"Sorry," he whispered, and lips brushed quickly against my cheek, the last bit of softness before the battle-hardened shell closed around my heart to prepare for death. I shook my head to clear my sight- more out of habit than hope- and stood up.
I don't know what I expected Ifrit to do, but I was disappointed none the less. The creature stood only dazed before us, a few charred stumps where tentacles had been scorched off, leaving approximately ten million.
In the time it took me to realize this, the monster struck again, but purely in defense. Thousands upon thousands of needlelike teeth, like the inside of a pincushion, clashed together seamlessly, inches from my arm. I barely managed to jump back, adrenaline and my own pride the only things keeping me standing. Limbs would be lost to that thing, if we weren't careful.
I pulled Squall back from the creature, watching it advance slowly, grappling unsurely with the rocky territory. The uneven terrain seemed too rough for its fleshy tentacles. I smiled grimly, and then turned, brushing silver-brown hair from Blinded eyes.
"Seifer?" It was soft, gravelly with mucus, and the gloved hand on my arm tightened. Leonhart frowned, and stood straighter, cleared his throat.
"Seifer," he said again, but harder, "I can still fight it. But you're going to have to keep up with me." He pulled his Revolver from his belt, grip sure despite the fact that he was talking to someone about three feet to my left. Keep up with him. Right. That was the least of my worries.
Reminded of our situation, I glanced at the monster. It was doing something odd, as if it were trying to throw up, or burp. I didn't like the look of it. Glancing back at Squall, I pulled him in for a quick kiss. The feel of it burned slightly; my stomach folded in on itself with the knowledge that it would probably be our last.
"You're an idiot," I told him, eyes still on our attacker, "You don't stand a chance."
He frowned again, and blinked rapidly, then pushed me away, stumbling backwards as he did so. Fucking Leonhart. Can't even appreciate the fact that I'm about to go die for him. Bastard.
He was glaring at me, burning cold, and it was then that I realized he wasn't blinded any more. More to the point, he was glowing.
"…the fuck?" I took a step back, watching as blue-white power pulsed from his every pore. Off to the side, the monster stopped its strange movements to face us. It squelched back a bit, almost hastily.
And then it began to snow.
"You're an idiot. You don't stand a chance." Seifer's voice was disembodied, the ever-present arrogance just barely perceptible under what could be mistaken for concern, had I not known better. I shoved myself back from his grip, trying to pinpoint the monster by sound, and froze.
Fuck that. All we've been through and you still don't trust him? You're a bastard Squall. An ungrateful bastard that is probably going to die now, and yet you still can't admit that you've gone and fallen in love with Almasy. Because he does care, when no one else would. Hyne, you're a fucking moron.
I frowned, fully aware now that I was blind and unprotected in front of something that could kill me as easily as it breathes, when I realized I could see again.
And that I was very, very cold.
I couldn't remember ever being cold, not since I had been junctioned to Shiva.
Panic set in, and I turned to the wall, expecting to find darkness, and the hollow, empty feeling I remembered from before my days in Balamb. But it was still there.
In fact, it was brighter, more solid, and I could just barely detect shapes moving on the other side, like shadows under blue silk. I touched it, gently, and my world imploded.
My poor Lion, blind and bound and hurt, inside and out. My actions are unsettling, proof of how things have changed for me. It is a trick for the rash, what I have done. For Gilgamesh and Odin and others who are not content to wait for things to happen. To wait for others to come along and lend them the body their wandering soul desires.
I would, in any other situation. Ice Queen as I am, apathy was the least to be expected of me. But this one, this small boy, was special to me. He was a part of me. It is a choice given to us, by whoever decides our fate. The Guardians may choose one with whom they pass on, and grant their host the full extent of our powers.
I had chosen, and he had received. My gift was feeling. The feelings I forsook long ago, when my heart was all of me that was ice.
And now I have invoked Reversal.
I only hope I can make things right afterwards.
I opened my eyes, chest moving in what I recognized as breathing. It was a bit odd, but a second's time to pick up again. I glanced at my fingers, scarred and pale, and then at the hilt that fit into them as if made to do so.
The thing before me, done with being confused by what the Reversal had caused, started to convulse. First at the stomach, and then it spread to its throat. The silver teeth, pointed and encrusted with too many things to name, spread into a twisted smile. A cloud of greenish fog emerged from its quivering depths, the stench foul and riddled with ulterior motives. It swirled through the snow, melting the crystals in midair, and I heard coughing from either side of me as it found targets, then began to reach for me. I narrowed my eyes.
A ripple ran through the fog, like a breeze through fine silk, and the mist dispersed. I was too old to play games with Marlboros.
"Squall?" A voice. Human and familiar. Somewhere from deep within my memories, recognition flared. Fingers brushed against my wall of ice.
"No." I responded, carefully forming the word with my mouth. I glanced to my left, to the human who, in my sight, was bathed in flame. This was Seifer, then. He had saved us once before.
I smiled at him, gently, knowing well that he knew nothing of what had happened.
"No?" his voice was quiet, worried. He seemed to had forgotten the Marlboro, his weapon hung limp in his hands.
I shook my head, sending snowflakes dancing down before my eyes. I could feel the cold pulling at me, calling to me, just as I responded in kind. The snow grew thicker, almost frantic, soft kisses brushing my cheeks as they descended. Seifer paled, a sickly grey dulling his features.
"You-" he gasped, "You're Shi-" He became silent, took a breath, and stopped moving at all.
At last I realized what had happened. What the creature had caused. And cold was very bad for statues. It made them crack and tear and lose their form.
A flick of my fingers, and the storm dispersed. The Marlboro, seeming to awaken, lurched forward, far too fast, and my body, unused to its new occupant, scrambled to escape.
I had forgotten how weak humans were. But it was no matter. I raised the gunblade, focusing on the tip, watching the creature down the length of the sword.
This wouldn't take long.
"Zell brought them in, but he couldn't say what happened. Pretty beat up himself."
"But how could he be alive? You heard the explosion; saw the report. Investigation said the thing was shattered. No spell can do that without destroying every other living thing around it. Not even the grass was bent. And then look at him…"
The voices were distant, muted, like a recording. I tried to recognize them, but my brain seemed slow and reluctant to respond. Was I dead? I didn't know.
No. Not dead.
We're not dead. Just…different. A little bit changed. Who was 'we'? I wanted to open my eyes, but they wouldn't respond.
There was a monster. One you could not defeat. No one here would have been able to.
How did it get here? Was the first question that came to mind. Some part of me thought this was important information. I should be writing it down.
It had always been here. But it was sleeping, in an environment unsuited to it. Something woke it up.
A sorceress. You will see the world changed soon enough. You will be called to fight. But do not worry about this now. Now you must wake up.
It seemed like logical advice, but I didn't want to yet. Something felt wrong with my body. I didn't want to see it yet, because it felt like a part of me was missing. What good am I without an arm or leg? I would be kicked out. I would have to leave Seifer.
Where was Seifer? Could I breathe? I couldn't tell. I couldn't feel it. Didn't they know…?
He was allowed to leave the infirmary. The Petrification protected him from physical wounds, and the others were healed. He is fine, as are you. You are no longer bound to follow him.
I didn't understand. I was…was I supposed to feel relieved? For some reason I didn't. I felt anything but relieved. I felt horrified, empty, torn apart. I didn't ever want to wake up.
Stop being stupid, Squall. You were only waiting for it to end. But then why was I so upset?
It is…complicated. There is a spell known to us; to the Guardians. We call it Reversal. It is more commonly a trick, something only the lowest of us use to possess a body instead of being possessed ourselves. I cast it in desperation, to save this body, though I was not sure Reversal could itself be reversed.
I don't understand. Why was I still breathing? Everything said I should be dead.
Who are you?
There was silence, then. I worried for my sanity, hearing voices as I was. But then I was also quite possibly dead. People heard voices before they died, in some cases. Was this was one of those? I thought I wasn't dying.
You aren't. But this is not to say you didn't. Didn't what? Die? This was making no sense, and a spell had been mentioned before. Where was Seifer?
Reversal trades one soul for another. Makes the human the Guardian to what was its body, and often the Force that overtakes the body will simply unjunction the human, and leaves it hidden somewhere; a lamp, or a statue. The magic of the spell will often warp the human, turn them into a Guardian as well, but they are often angry, restless. Asking them to aid you is a risk.
Is that what happened to me? Was I left somewhere? Why was the creature who had taken my body talking to me? I was angry, now. I wanted it back.
No, it is different with you. After the battle I tried to change it back, but a body can only endure so much. Full changes can only happen so many times, or the flesh grows tired. Instead it merged the two inside it. The Doom spell, from so long ago? It is gone, now. It was cast on Squall, as he was, not Squall as he is.
The ethereal city appeared in my mind's eye, blue-green and shimmering. I saw it as it was in the history books, but it was different. I remembered the markets, the palace. I smiled coyly at the president, brushing silvery hair behind my ears, and laughing.
"No, sir," I had said, my voice cold even in good humor, but light as well, "I am from Trabia. We are used to the cold there. It becomes us." A warm laugh beside me, red hair brushed my cheek, clicking gently with the beads and horn bits woven into it, and my husband kissed my face, warmth spreading through my cheeks at the contact.
"Or do you become it?" Fritch had asked, and I smiled as well, catching one of the ornaments in his hair between my fingers.
But I had never been to Esthar. Nor had I ever been a woman, or had a husband who was, if I was not mistaken, junctioned to Seifer.
He wasn't, then. The voice told me, that wasn't until the first Sorceress, as you know them. When the leader of our Order, the Guardian Force, went bloated and sickly with power, with her desire to master all elements, not just her own.
I remembered now a less pleasant time. When I had stood with my friends before a single woman wreathed in flame and darkness, and watched as one by one my friends were struck down; Zal's green eyes dulled and no longer smiling, her almost electric energy gone. Levi's black hair limp and scorched, his serene expression blurred into pain and death, his fluid grace drained from his mangled form. I remembered the death of my husband, heard my own broken cries as the life fled my body as well, and I whispered the words that would release the spell we had all cast long ago, to prepare for the worst.
Our leader, the Lady Grey, was imprisoned in a statue on the continent of Centra, under the guard of the city until she was released by another evil much later, the city destroyed, left empty but for the Warrior King's spirit and the monsters that made it their home. She was now known as Griever, just as we were now known by different names. Zal, Levi, Fritch, and Ivy. We became trapped gods, slaves who held unspeakable power. We became Quetzalcoatl, Leviathan, Ifrit, Shiva, among others. Our entire order, trapped in statues and crystals and human minds, waiting to be discovered and unleashed, to add our power to another's in the hopes of defeating that which we could not before.
Yet, that had never happened to me. I was Squall. I had never even seen Esthar, or Trabia, much less been born or celebrated there. This was so confusing.
Actually, it is quite simple. We are no longer separate entities. We have the same memories, the same body. But you will no longer be able to summon me. In fact, you are not able to remember ever being able to do so. In your mind, I seem to be your own thoughts, and indeed I am. I am no longer a Guardian, and you are no longer a human. We are both…somewhere in between.
I felt my eyes blink, my body inhale. The brightness hurt my eyes, and I blinked rapidly. I heard voices shouting, whispering, and I sat up.
See? It will be all right.
Shapes began to appear – a chair to my right, the glass of the door. My eyes adjusted slowly, taking in the infirmary and the nurse checking my pulse.
"We thought you were going to die," It took a moment for my tongue to work, and another for my brain to think of a response.
"So did I." It sounded sort of mangled, and my voice cracked. I cleared my throat, embarrassed, and ran a hand through my hair. I froze midmovement.
There was something wrong with my skin. Taking a deep breath, I looked at it again. My skin color seemed to have paled a bit, and though it was still a natural color, it was nearly translucent, but that was not the odd part.
Blue patterns, wild and tribal, ran over my skin, like tattoos. Stripes on my arms and legs, sharp and symmetrical designs on my chest. I saw in the mirror by the sink the lines on my face, three stripes that ran parallel to where my scar had been.
"I think it's sexy." I jumped at the voice, whirling from where I had been staring at myself to see Seifer, sitting on the bed I had recently vacated. It was suddenly hard to breathe, but now for a different reason. I felt myself lunge across the room at him, wrapping my arms around his chest and squeezing until even I hurt from the pressure. He gave a breathy laugh and kissed my head.
"The doctors came to get me as soon as you moved. They didn't know what sort of state you'd be in."
"I'm a sorcerer, now." The confession came out of nowhere, surprising us both, and it took me a moment to realize I had spoken. Was I really a sorcerer? How did I know that? My mind immediately supplied me with the answer; because Shiva had been one, forever ago. And now, too was I. The first sorcerer in a long, long time.
"Are you, now?" Green eyes were almost mocking, and I frowned. Fingers ran up my back, and I released my death grip on Seifer's torso, taking a step back.
"It's not like I could even doubt you if I wanted to," he told me, indicating the marks on my skin, "not after I see things like that." Then suddenly he was kissing me, his hands in my hair and running down my arms, and I felt my fingers tug on the hem of his shirt, slipping under to caress the skin beneath. And then, as suddenly as it had started, his arms were wrapped around me, and his nose was in my hair, and he was making odd wheezing noises that almost worried me.
"What happened back there?" he whispered, and I remembered it all, every detail of what I wasn't really there for. I shook my head to clear the images. It would be a long time before I could battle a Marlboro again.
"We almost died," I told him, stepping back.
"But we didn't," Seifer said, and something in his voice sounded hopeful, and worried, and sad. He didn't let go of my arms.
"The Doom spell is gone, isn't it?" he asked. I smiled.
"Yes," I said happily, the thought just occurring to me, as well. I walked to the doorway, half-expecting to stop breathing and black out. Nothing happened, and I stepped through it. Months of anxiety, of worrying what one step would do, were released with a sigh. I turned to face Seifer, who looked horrified. I frowned.
"What's wrong?" He turned away from me, facing the mirror I had been inspecting seconds before.
"Nothing," he said quietly, "I should have expected this. I did, actually. Fucking ice prince and loneliness that you are." I blinked. What?
"What?" Seifer shot me a look that made me want to die, despite my recent relief to be alive.
"You were just leaving, weren't you? You can have the room. I'll be back later to collect my stuff."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" I was sure he'd gone mad. What the hell was his problem? He growled, stood up and whirled to face me. But he was smiling.
"Situational homosexuality," he said, poking me in the chest, "it happens all the time in prison, Squall."
I punched him.
Caught off guard as he was, he dropped to the floor, holding his face. It wasn't even a hard punch.
"What the fuck, Leonhart!" he yelled, jumping to his feet. I glared at him, and he raised a fist.
Of course he'd try to fucking punch me back. Jackass. But his fist relaxed, and he sighed and dropped his arm. He shook his head.
"I don't want to fight you any more." He said softly, and tried to step around me, but I was in his way again. Before he had a change to object, I spoke.
"Good. It would make living with you miserable." I stepped out of his way. "Now, come on. We should probably go thank Zell." Seifer frowned, a bit confused.
"Living with me?" he asked, and I rolled my eyes. He was such a moron, sometimes.
"Yes," I confirmed, "living with you. Together. In the same room." He still wouldn't move. I wanted to punch him again.
I glared at him; he was just messing with me, now.
"Because it makes having sex easier. Just get a fucking move on, Almasy, I have things I have to do." He choked, despite the fact that there was nothing in his mouth, and started grinning like an idiot.
"Things like sex?" I seriously reconsidered it, seeing his reaction.
"Yes," I said dryly. "Of course. Things like sex." He blinked.
"We have to go thank Zell," I reminded him, and he looked disappointed.
I sighed, ran a hand through my hair, and then reached down to twine my fingers through his. They were rough and warm and I leaned against his shoulder happily for a moment before dragging him out after me.
For the first time I could remember in my short life, I was happy.
This is not how I had planned the story to end. In fact, this ending is stupid and poorly written, but I realized that I will never actually finish the story as I wanted to. I'm really, really sorry, and this was the closest I could make it to how I wanted the ending. But I think I lost track of Squall's way of thinking, and I've completely forgotten how I ever went about writing this story. I'm really sorry guys, and I feel so cheap for doing this, but I had to at least finish it for you, even though I couldn't do it right. There are a lot of things left out. If you have any questions please email me, and I'll explain them to the best of my ability.
Thanks to everyone who reviewed. I love you and don't deserve you.