AN: Whee! Welcome to my next Seifuu. Just a warning: this was created during a period of writer's block, so forgive me if I start to ramble or repeat myself.

Ok…quick summary: Set after the game, this tale tells of the struggle of three people who fight for a recognisable existence against the eyes of the scrutinising world. Also, a concerto is a piece of music that consists of a solo instrument pitted against a full orchestra, so I hope that helps explain a little about this story. Anyway, enough of a really bad introduction. Here we go…

Life's Concerto

Act 1 – Courage; Confidence; Tolerance

By Perfect Soldier 01

It had started like any other day; the sun had risen in the morning, and the birds had begun to sing their beautiful song in the hazy light creeping over the hills. But even in the day, Deling City never once opened its eyes and took in the light. Perpetual darkness lay over the industrial factories and the small, terraced houses that lay row upon row in neat straight lines. The birds too were very much distanced from the city walls, for the air was thick with smog and dirt.

I had always hated this city, for it held too many memories that connected it with Garden and the sorceress. But hopefully we weren't going to stay here long, so I didn't have to think about this horrible place for too long. I guess that wasn't too bad…

At that moment in time I had been lying on my bed in the room we were staying in. Truthfully it wasn't mine but all of ours, for we not enough money to afford a room with three beds.

My stomach growled in the tense silence and I curled my knees up to my chest. I didn't want to be reminded about food right now…Not when I was sick with the flu…

"Don't worry Fujin, Rajin'll be back soon. Then we can eat." The man said sitting on the other side of the broken mattress.

"HUNGRY." I said in a hoarse whisper.

"I know. We all are. It won't be much longer now." Seifer said comfortingly.

I sighed and closed my eye in fatigue. We had been running through the open fields all day, trying desperately to escape the authorities, again. Ever since the sorceress had been defeated all of us, particularly Seifer, had been warranted for arrest for being accomplices to Edea. We had managed to pick most of them off today, but they were still searching for us within the city.

Luckily Seifer had managed to find us a place to hide: an old, derelict building, marked with the signs of 'No Entry', 'Condemned' and my personal favourite, 'Danger of Death. Enter at your own risk'. The wooden steps and ceiling beams were old and fragile and many of the steps had holes in them while rafters riddled the stone floor. A thick layer of dust coated everything, and every now and again I sneezed as the tiny particles irritated my senses. The only piece of furniture was a decrepit, old bed that lay in the middle of the floor, or rather a broken mattress…

I really felt safe in here…despite the fact that one heavy or misplaced movement could probably throw this building to the ground…and us along with it.

Outside I could hear the shouts and sirens of the police oblivious to the fact that the guilty party of people that they were looking for was right above their heads. I don't think they realised that we were actually stupid enough to hide in a condemned building that really was falling apart.

The wind wafted in through the glass shattered holes in the wall, blowing the dirty pieces of curtain inward, bringing with it the smell of food and the smoke of the factories. I needed to cough and clear my lungs of this dirty air but any noise would blow our cover. I turned over onto my back and looked over to Seifer.

"SAFE?" I said suppressing the urge to choke. He didn't answer me for a while, and he didn't move either. I listened more intently, as was he, and I soon heard the shouts of the enraged men dwindle into nothing.

"Yes." He said finally.

I couldn't hold it back anymore, and I coughed so suddenly I saw Seifer jump slightly where he was sitting. I sat up, bringing my hands to my mouth, as my cold grew worse. I sniffed as the coughing stopped and I flopped back down on the lumpy bed.

"SORRY." I said, pausing slightly before continuing. "FLU. WORSE." Seifer turned round and crawled to my side, being mindful of the protruding springs that had grown out of the mattress. His cold hand touched my forehead, brushing aside strands of my silver hair that lay across my hot face.

"You're burning up." He said taking his hand away. I said nothing, suddenly realising how hot I was. I sat up slowly and tugged at the zipper that held my blue jacket together. I pulled it off, casting it on the floor, not caring right now how dirty it would get.

A rush of wind abruptly blew through round the room and I shivered. I now wished I hadn't thrown my coat on the floor…

"COLD." I whispered, curling up into a tight ball again, trying to keep in the warmth that was rapidly leaving my body. I felt something being laid over me, and I discovered hazily that it was Seifer's trench coat. "Thank you." I said looking up at the man beside me, his eyes full of worry.

Just then someone came up the broken stairs and Seifer jumped off the bed, his features becoming much more serious, and he grabbed Hyperion as he went.

"I've got food ya know!" we heard our friend shout up. We both sighed in relief as Seifer retreated back to my side, placing Hyperion against the wall. Rajin came bounding up through the empty doorframe, bags of food in tow. He placed them on the floor and sat down with a thud, and I could have sworn that some dust fell from the ceiling along with some shards of wood.

I pushed myself up, pulling Seifer's trench coat closer around me; curious at what concoction Rajin had brought us. We had sent him out because Seifer would have been recognised far too easily and I would have stuck out like a sore thumb…so we would have to make do with what Rajin had brought us to eat…

"Stay there," Seifer said quietly, his hand briefly touching my shoulder. He walked over and grabbed two portions of food. "Here." He said placing mine in my hands. Ravenous I tore at the packaging and began devouring the somewhat cold meal. The incessant rumbling of my stomach soon ceased and before long I licked my fingers, finally feeling some energy flow through my veins.

"Thanks Rajin." Said Seifer.

"No problem ya know." A long, but comfortable silence then overcame us, and I'm sure each of us was thinking of exactly the same thing as both the men in front of me cast their eyes toward the collapsed bed I was sitting on.

The night was drawing in quickly, although there was no real way of telling what time it was without a clock. Seifer walked over to the smashed window on the far side of the room and pulled back the curtain slightly. Sure enough people were retiring to their houses and the streets were becoming quieter. But beyond the roofs and chimneys I could still see the bright lights of the city centre.

"So…who's sleeping where ya know?" Rajin asked bringing us all back to reality, his eyes looking hopefully toward me. I knew what he wanted, as every time this situation occurred he ended up sleeping on the floor.

I sighed, having had enough of lying on this uncomfortable, lumpy, cold 'thing'. So placing an unsteady hand on the cracked wall I stood up and walked over slowly to the corner. But before I could reach my destination, something warm stopped me.

"Fujin, you're ill. I'm not letting you sleep on the floor." Seifer said. I coughed again before I could protest.

"NEGATIVE," I croaked. "FLOOR, ALWAYS." I said pointing toward Rajin. He looked at me, his eyes pleading to think about myself for a change. But I stood my ground and eventually he sighed.

"Rajin, looks like you've got it tonight." He said. Rajin looked up in disbelief, and pointed to himself. "Yes, you now get over there before I change my mind."

"Thanks ya know. But what about you Fujin?" he said yawning.

"FINE." I said restraining my coughs. The large, tanned man shrugged and walked over to the little piece of solace I'd let him have. He chucked Seifer's trench coat over to him, and then Seifer then turned to look at me, his hand still resting on my shoulder.

"What are you going to do then?" he asked, but before I could answer, my head began spinning and dizziness struck every nerve with a violent chord. My balance wavered and I stumbled forward into Seifer's arms.

"PAIN…" I whispered holding my head in my hands. My world was twirling and spiralling in front of me and I couldn't focus on anything except the immediate black of Seifer's shirt.

"Fujin, sit down, come on," Seifer said helping me to the nearest corner. I slumped down against the weak and fragile wall, choking and coughing as my dizziness subsided a little. Seifer sat beside me and without permission I leant on his shoulder. Engulfed in Seifer's scent, I felt my breathing become softer and my headache fade away. Closing my eye I felt Seifer's arm creep round my shoulders as he rubbed my frail skin up and down with his hand. His warmth was so welcoming and compulsive I leaned further against him, losing myself in the fire of his touches. Somehow I felt everything die away within me, my virus shrinking away to the depths of its abode. Sleep took me gently in her caressing hands and I drifted off into the world of dreams.

It must have been some time before I suddenly felt my heart race, pounding against my chest as I awoke. I realised that Seifer's head now rested on mine, deep in slumber. But as I opened my tired eye, something black slid down my face over my eye. I sat in horror as my eye patch fell around my neck, loosened from me leaning against Seifer's shoulder.

At once I scrambled my shaking hands around the black piece of material and tried to pull it back over my eye, but something then happened that I didn't expect. Seifer chose that moment to turn over onto his side, his arm securely trapping me against his warm torso. Together we slid to the floor and I panicked at the close proximity that lay between us, wanting to be freed immediately of his lazy, but tight embrace. I couldn't let him see me like this, but I had no where to go for I was pinned against the wall. In his sleep he shifted, pulling me closer as if I was some sort of plush animal a child took to bed. And to make matters worse I was beginning to suffocate in his warmth, and my throat was itching to cough again.

"SEIFER," I said, trying to struggle out of his arms, but he held me fast, not wanting to let me go. "SEIFER." I said a little louder, not wanting to wake Rajin as well. "SEIFER!" I said kicking his shin. This time his eyes fluttered open, but his eyes widened in shock from looking at me. The fear in his eyes was enough to make me feel rejected and ugly under his gaze. Yet he did nothing to solve the predicament.

"LET GO!" I said, tears streaming down my cheek and immediately his removed his arms from my waist and I sat up turning my head away.

"I'm sorry Fujin," he said apologising as he rubbed the back of his head. "I didn't mean to." I didn't reply, but shielded the left side of my face from his eyes. I glared up at him, tears still falling.

"YOU SAW…" I said finally, barely more than a whisper.

"Fujin, I'm sorry," he said flustered, unsure of what to say. I sensed him move toward me, but I shied away from his touch, not wanting to be ridiculed further for the hideous scars and wounds that I had hidden from him. "Fujin please, let me see what's so bad…" my eye widened at his words.

"N…NEGATIVE." I stammered, but ignoring my pleas, he pried my hands away from my face and looking down, he turned my face to look at him. "UGLY." I said staring at the floor, feeling completely vulnerable and open to the world. My one secret was now being defiled and exploited by the one person I thought I could trust not to ask questions. And he hadn't…until now…

His fingers travelled over the bloody wound, tracing the scars that were encrusted with scabs. For the first time I looked at him with two eyes, a red tint of blood pouring over my vision. Everything I gazed upon was crimson and death suddenly dwelled in this forsaken place. The stench of blood made me begin to cough again. I looked up at Seifer, and felt more tears arrive at my right eye. His face was red, and in the delusion of my frightened mind I held his face in my hands, the events of the past replaying through my head.

"BLOOD." I sobbed. "EVERYWHERE," I said, my hands frantically touching his cheeks.

"Fujin, stop…" Seifer whispered.

"STOP BLOOD," I said, frightened that death would claim him just like it did my parents…

Suddenly I found I couldn't move my mouth, for my lips were locked against Seifer's. His hands pushed down on my shoulders, holding them tightly as he kissed me. But I pushed him away, confused by his actions.

I stared at him like a lost child, afraid and unprotected. He then leaned toward me again and I shut my eye, turning away. The eye patch that hung around my neck gently grazed my neck as it moved up over my head, coming back to rest over my bloody eye. I looked at Seifer, the red glaze disappearing from my sight.

"You're not ugly Fujin…You're beautiful," he said resting a hand on my cheek. "You've got nothing to be afraid of." he said soothingly. I stared at him for what seemed like hours, trying to make sense of his words. How could he say such things?

"You know nothing," I said vehemently. "You know nothing about this!" I said pointing to my face. He was taken aback by my harsh words, but still wiped my angry tears from my eye.

'Why won't he leave me alone? Why does he insist on prying into my past as if he cares?' I thought bitterly. I couldn't understand him, for each time I tried to break away he caught me again, accepting anything I threw at him.

"Do you want to tell me?" he asked softly, his eyes searching mine for a way into my heart.

"NEGATIVE!" I said angrily, coughing away the building irritation in my throat. "Why do you even care?"

"Because…" he started, but his words died on his lips.

"WHY?" I said crying. I didn't want to relive any more pain, or bore him with my troubles. He shouldn't have to worry about me as well. He has enough on his shoulders to think about…He doesn't need my worries too…

A long pause overcame us, during which I stared blankly up at his troubled eyes. The out of nowhere, "Because I love you." He said quickly. I faltered; not believing what he'd just told me.

"L…Love?" I asked quietly. He nodded sincerely, and I felt a sudden head rush. He wrapped me in a sweet, amiable embrace that I welcomed unconsciously.

"Fujin, I want to help you. Please let me in…I love you too much to see you in pain." He said tenderly as he hugged me tighter. I encircled him in my weak arms, wanting to feed off his incredible strength of mind. I wanted that courage and confidence to go on, the tolerance to accept life's unfair nature and everything that Seifer had that I was left unaccounted for.

"Not yet," I whispered as I pulled away. "Not now…" I said looking up at his sad smile.

Suddenly I heard a crash from below and a barrage of footsteps rush up the staircase. The pounding of their boots spilt my head in two and I cried out from the overwhelming noises that were beating my senses useless. Seifer immediately held a hand to my mouth and he looked anxiously over to the doorway, as all went quiet. I could hear nothing but my own breathing.

Then out of the darkness stepped a lone soldier clad in dark blue and black clothing and a terrifying helmet over his face. I felt like a child again, and as I stared at the paralysing eyes of the mask in fear, Seifer pulled me up from the floor, lunging for my jacket. Only when it was thrust in my face did I break from my reverie and pick up my shruiken from beside Seifer's Hyperion. We edged backward, thinking desperately for a way out.

Without looking I kicked backwards and Rajin immediately jolted awake, taking only a few seconds to register what was happening. He grabbed his staff and joined us by Seifer's side.

"Don't move!" the man behind the mask shouted. "You are under arrest and have the right to remain silent!"

"Who gives a damn about our rights?" Seifer said spitefully, spitting inches from the officer's foot.

"SILENCE!" he yelled back as a group of more than fifty men appeared from the doorway. "By order of Deling City we have warrant for your arrest."

"Yeah? Well we have warrant for your death!" Seifer said charging forward. Rajin and myself followed suit, for we would do anything for Seifer. We were the only people he had left.

In a matter of minutes the floor was stricken with bodies groaning from their injuries. Seifer turned and headed toward the window, pulling back the curtain.

"Come on. There're bound to be more coming. Its time to move again." He said almost nostalgically. I nodded and we all climbed through the window, standing now on the wavering foundations of the building. The night wind flew by us, whistling as it churned inside the windows, accompanying the cold winter frost that was beginning to settle over the city.

There was no way down from where we had escaped to, and the shouts were becoming louder as the streets packed with a swarm of blue and black uniforms.

"Where do we go now ya know?" Rajin asked.

"I'm thinking!" Seifer said impatiently, for we were quickly running out of time.

"JUMP." I said timidly.

"What?" Seifer said confused.

"JUMP!" I said with more confidence. "AERO." I stretched out my hands and created a pulsating wave of air in front of me.

"If you say so." Seifer said. At with that we all dived off the rooftops in unison, believing in each other. I pushed my hands forward, concentrating so hard I thought my head would crack. But reassuringly, our descent was slowing in speed as the wind emanating from my fingertips pushed against the ground, balancing out the forces of motion. With Rajin on my right and Seifer on my left we fell through the air, resulting in gasps of shock and horror from our audience below.

Just as we were about to hit the ground, a loud bang fired from my right and immeasurable pain sprung to life in my arm. I cried out, my concentration lost, and we began tumbling faster toward the hard stone ground.

"Rajin!" I heard Seifer shout across to the falling man beside me, and at once he fired his own magic at the source. "Fujin! Concentrate! We're both counting on you!" he said encouragingly through the air. I opened my eye again, wincing at the pain and tried to regain our invisible pillow that would break our fall. "Come on Fujin! You can do it!" he yelled grabbing my hand.

I cried out again, not from pain but from determined rage as I felt storms of zephyrs pour from my fingers and we landed softly on the ground with not much room to spare. Clutching my jacket over the bullet wound, I followed Seifer and Rajin as we fought our way out of the city, killing off anyone who stood in our way. But just as we were about to reach the city walls, our one road to freedom and safety, Seifer and Rajin stopped suddenly. As I caught up, I looked forward and my mouth hung open in shock.

"Squall." I said in a whisper so quiet that no one heard what I said. We were surrounded now, with soldiers behind us, and our worst enemy standing in our way to liberty.

"Get out of our way Leonhart!" Seifer commanded. But Squall said nothing, only annoying Seifer further. The guards behind us stopped in their tracks, and I heard each of them utter Squall's name in honour.

"Commander Leonhart?" they all whispered in awe.

"Return to your posts. Garden will take care of these three." Squall barked.

"But sir, these people are criminals - " one began.

"Like I said," Squall said irritably. "Garden will deal with their punishments. Now leave!" he ordered, and instantly I heard every soldier fall back, running away back into the streets.

"What the hell are you doing Leonhart?" Seifer shouted.

"Saving your ass," He said. "Now come, hurry up. We don't have all day." We didn't move for a second, and I looked up at Seifer, seeing the hatred and disgust written all over his face. "That's an order!"

Reluctantly we walked past him, out of Deling City and before us stood a SeeD transportation unit ready and waiting for us. We climbed into the all too familiar vehicle and sat down, waiting for it to take us on our journey.

I took a seat next to Seifer and reached for his hand. He looked down at me, the anger gone from his eyes. He tightened his fingers around mine and looked away as the engine choked and rumbled along the grassy plains. No doubt we would be taken to Galbadia first before being transported again perhaps to Balamb. Silence overcame us, the only noises being that of the over-protected truck as it incessantly grumbled over the earth. Abruptly we hit a large bump in the road and I winced, clutching my arm tightly. Seifer looked down at me and moved to kneel on the floor.

"Let me look at it." He said, and I moved my hand away along with the clump of my now bloodied blue jacket, revealing the large crimson stain on my shirtsleeve. "This is going to hurt." He said, squeezing the sore skin as he tried in vain to dislodge the bullet. I wanted to scream out in pain but I bit my lip hard to prevent any noise from leaving my mouth. I wouldn't appear weak…

I thought the agony would never stop and it was only when Seifer confirmed that he'd removed the bullet, did I cry out. Breathing heavily, I almost fainted when I saw how much blood had dripped down my arm. Seifer then tore off my sleeve and wrapped the bloodstained material around the wound in some effort to keep it from bleeding anymore. All the time he worked I looked at him, realising now the meaning of those few words he'd said moments before.

He flicked the bullet away onto the floor, and once he looked up he caught my gaze, I couldn't bring myself to look away and I found myself drowning in the blue sea of his eyes.

"Hyne, you could have at least told me ya know," Rajin interrupted. We both looked over to the other side of the unit, only then noticing his presence. Suddenly understanding what he was talking about, we both looked away, and I felt a red flush begin to grow on my cheeks. "It's ok, don't worry about Rajin ya know?" he said, a huge grin plastered on his face.

If I could have kicked him, I would have, but at that moment I felt too embarrassed to walk over there. I glanced sideways at Seifer when Rajin had turned his head away, his hand finding mine. I looked up with a little more confidence and saw him gaze out of the door windows, watching Deling shrink and the fields widen before us as we drove further and further away from the dark city.

Together we all sat waiting in silence for the vehicle to jolt to a stop, for the doors to noisily swing open, and for the morning sunshine to dazzle our tired eyes with its brilliance. Leaning against Seifer I closed my heavy, sleep-deprived eye and dozed against his warm shoulder, craving the self-revival that sleep would bring in its wake. And for a fleeting moment everything was serene, almost peaceful. I felt as if I could finally rest my weak, tired and ill-stricken body from the running, and from the fear of being found. Completely exhausted I sighed, sleep claiming me at once, transporting me to a land of surreal and innocent dreams, where fear was forbidden.

AN: I don't think I've ever written such a long chapter in my life! Wow…Anyway, I would really like to see what you thought of this. Was it too long/repetitive/boring? Please review and I'll try and make the rest of the chapters better!