Disclaimer- Like I've said before every chapter thus far....I don't own any of the FF8 characters, places or concepts. I do however own Blaine and Blade.
Author's notes- Well this is it. The epilogue. I don't really have much to say, except SHAME ON YOU ALL! I shot Angelo and no one noticed! Haha! I think the one person that realized it couldn't review because of computer problems.
Sulou - I lost this epilogue when the computer went down. Needless to say I recovered it but it took forever to revise it. Glad you liked the last chapter.
Aratcorien - Man, you have a way of making me feel bad.....musician losing an arm, a writer unable to pick up a pen. Geez, lol. Don't you worry about Seifer. He's one of my favorites, he'll always be taken care of. Glad you liked the Laguna/Caraway parts. I figured Caraway had something coming since he got to be so pushy in the prologue. It was only fair. Hehe.
Crescent Pearl - Here you go. I tried to hurry. I just couldn't get it like I wanted it. I love Nida and Quistis together as well. With this story out of the way I'll be able to work on my other ones.
Element6 - How did you know Squall would sort it all out? You're good. But I'm disappointed in you. You seem to be Angelo's biggest fan in this fic and yet you missed it! I shot Angelo and you said nothing!
On the sidelines, an old, haggard looking dog watched without a sound. His silver muzzle rested between his front paws as he lay stretched out across the sandy soil. Before him, he watched the dirt and sand drift and fall to the ground. He panted lightly in the heat as he waited for his master to take him back inside.
The dry soil stirred in the wake of their rushed footsteps only to drift back to the barren ground in the absence of the slightest breeze. Above them, the sun radiated intensely. This day was definitely not an ideal day to be out and training. Nevertheless, training they were. Both stepped gracefully backwards, perfect foot work. If it hadn't been for the blades both held defensively before their chests, it'd appear they were partaking in a well choreographed dance.
Both men glared at each other; daring one another to act. Neither moved. Muscles poised, they remained as they were, neither really wanting to end this brief break in which they could hoard the oxygen their lungs cried out for.
A sweatdrop, one of many, streaked down Seifer's brow and across his scar. Squall watched it, remembering vividly the morning he'd put the blemish there. Taking one last deep breath, he forced his already cramping muscles to push forward and advance on his adversary. Seifer was progressing well. Everyone knew he'd have no problem with his left hand, he was ambidextrous. Walking slowly forward, Squall fought off the slight dizziness he was feeling. He hadn't yet beat his opponent and Seifer sure as hell wasn't going to just throw in the towel. The fight would have to continue. Seifer still hadn't moved. Squall frowned as he blinked furiously at the sweat that was running down his forehead and into his eyes. The heavy August air surrounded them, squeezing at their lungs, as they gasped for breath. The humidity was only making it worse. Just another typical summer afternoon.
Tightening his grip on the weapon encompassed within his wrapped fingers, Seifer looked down at the glossy shine that was covering his arms. It soaked his hair, impaired his vision, drenched his muscle shirt, made his pants stick to him, and tasted strongly of salt. They'd been training a lot longer than needed. It was time to end it. Shaking the sweat out of his hair and off of his face, he looked up and smirked. Letting Hyperion fall somewhat awkwardly to his left side he charged forward, every muscle in his legs aching in protest. Raising his right hand up before him, he summoned a firaga spell from the recesses of his mind. He crinkled his nose as he felt the magic flow through the veins in his arms and out through his finger tips. He never would grow accustomed to that tingling sensation. Squall attempted a counter spell but couldn't summon it quickly enough. Seifer continued his onslaught as he watched Squall get blown back by his wave of magic. Leonhart was wretched from his hand, landing a few feet to the side. Squall looked up quickly, memories of the last time this had happened flooding his mind. Seifer was almost on top of him before he managed to scramble to Leonhart.
Crying out loud, Squall twisted around and barely blocked Seifer's physical attack. In one quick movement, Seifer hopped back and clumsily pulled Hyperion back in front of him. Squall took a few steps back before again charging his opponent. Seifer followed suite, letting Hyperion fall to his side and then raising it to continue an arc. Jumping up in the air, he brought Hyperion down at full force and watched as Squall easily brought Leonhart up to block.
This training session, brought on by one soldier determined not to be retired, had lasted for entirely too long. Squall pushed back on Seifer's gunblade and watched the man before him grimace slightly. He should've known that Seifer would never have accepted a disability from Garden to take care of him for the rest of his life. He had felt childish offering it to him. Seifer was still in his prime and knew it. He could do a lot of damage as a potent weapon of Balamb Garden. Seifer knew this, Squall knew this. Seifer was a fighter, it was in his blood. Perhaps getting married had given Squall a reason to care less about his fighting. Perhaps it had made him soft, but fighting would always be Seifer's life. Part of that realization worried Squall. He could only hope Ellone knew what she was doing.
Their blades crashed again with a high pitched clang as the two weapons slid across each other, glinting in the late day sun. Squall blinked again in an attempt to rid himself of the blurry vision he was beginning to experience. Falling victim to another spell of dizziness he let Leonhart fall down to the ground as he dropped to one knee. Seifer remained still.
"Enough for today," Squall's voice came out strained.
"Had enough already Commander?" Seifer's voice joked.
"I'm serious," Squall said as he held his head in his hands. "Its too hot."
Seifer nodded, "Guess you're right."
The next day....
The warm breeze blew their hair in their faces as they knelt over her stone. He remained silent as he delicately traced his fingers along the letters of her name. Beside him, Ellone sat the flowers she had picked earlier that morning. She turned to her uncle and watched him with worried eyes. He'd grown so thin since the assassination attempt. Oblivious to her stare he continued tracing the stone's letters.
"Uncle?" She asked.
He looked up at her and then over his left shoulder at his son, who'd just knelt down. "Its been how long now? Twenty-four years?" He asked as he placed his hand on the stone. "Twenty four years." His voice was beginning to crack. "And I miss her so much," He started crying. Squall placed a hand on his back not really sure how to handle the situation as Ellone hugged him gently. Squall listened to the soft cries of the man next to him as he stared at the stone that sat just in front of them. Even his eyes teared up when he started noticing his father's tears that were falling on her headstone and rolling down the side. He looked away in an effort to keep himself composed and noticed an elderly woman watching them from the street.
'Mrs. Jordan,' He thought to himself as he watched her stare at him. Even she seemed sad. Come to think of it, most of the village seemed sad.
"Squall?" Laguna repeated himself. He grinned lightly when he finally got his son's attention. "We're going for a walk. You can come with us or stay here. Its up to you," Laguna said as he slowly stood up and began walking down towards the road.
Squall watched him go and then looked back to where he'd seen Mrs. Jordan. She was gone. Running his hand along the tombstone, he couldn't help but be somewhat perplexed by the loss his father mourned every year on this date. Sure he understood why his father got upset, it was just that he'd never actually lost someone. At least not at an age where he was capable of remembering it. Deciding that perhaps he did owe the woman that gave him life at least a few moments of silence, he tentatively reached out and ran his fingers along the edges of her tombstone. Pulling his fingers away from the hot monument, he slowly stood up and started walking. It would be getting dark soon so it was probably best to go ahead and meet the others at the Ragnarok. Stepping over the hill beyond the cemetery he paused and cast the small little village one more look before leaving.
His steps fell heavily on the area rug as he trudged across the room and collapsed in the chair nearest the fireplace. He closed his eyes, letting the familiar comfort of the recliner ease his tense muscles. Two weeks is all it had been. A two week term at Garden he served every month. He'd had to go alone this time. He frowned at the memory. He'd had to spend half a month in a cramped apartment without them. Part of him secretly wondered how much longer the others, namely Irvine and Selphie, would be able to stand living in such tight conditions. Most of them had kids. Actually, all of them had kids. A creak pulled him from his musings, causing him to look over at his wife, leaning in the doorway.
"Hey," She said warmly as she approached him.
"Hey," He answered as he watched her set their oldest on the rug. Climbing up in his lap, she rested her head on his shoulder.
He smiled. "I'm glad to be back." She nestled up against him while he watched the little boy on the floor play. "Where's Blaine?"
"Asleep," She answered. "He hasn't been feeling well." He started to get up at her statement. "No don't. I promise he's okay. He's just tired now."
He looked at her skeptically but remained where he was.
"He says you're getting better," She stated dryly.
"You don't sound too happy about it," He responded.
"I'm glad you can use Hyperion left-handed, its just that before, when you were sure that you'd never be able to wield it again, you were content to be here."
"I still am Elle. But I love to fight. You should know that by now."
She looked away. "I know," Her voice was gloom. "Its just that...if anything were to happen..." He covered her mouth with his hand and grinned to himself. She looked up at him, confused.
"The worst that might happen is I might get tagged by some minuscule monster in the training center."
"T-Rexaur's aren't minuscule Seifer."
He groaned playfully. "I missed you too," As he pulled her into a hug. "You do realize I'm Chief Interrogator. I wave Hyperion around to scare people. I threaten, bark orders, and get them to talk. That's it. There's no physical contact. Well usually." His voice took on a grumble. "Like Squall would chance something happening to me and risk your wrath."
She grinned knowingly. "Well, I have news for him, if you're ever gone for that long again I'll hurt him," She whispered.
He smirked. "Why's that? Did I miss something?"
She leaned back so that they were eye level with each other. "You have no idea what you've missed."
He looked at her questioningly.
"Blade!" She shouted, startling the quietly playing baby. He looked up at her, his father's emerald orbs questioning the abruptness in her voice. "Come here Baby." She leaned forward on Seifer's lap. His jaw dropped as he watched his oldest slowly push himself up onto his feet and take a few quick steps forward to the chair. Gripping the folds of his father's pants leg he stared up at them. Ellone ran her fingers through the boy's fluffy blonde hair and looked at her husband who appeared to be speechless.