From the word go, Zell knew it was going to be one of those days.

That sort of day where fate is conspiring against you to make your life a living hell, and totally miserable.

He was woken up at five by banging on his door, got accused of sleeping with someone called Jenit, had his face punched, missed the hot dogs because he was in the infirmary then missed breakfast entirely when Squall called him in to the office to give him an emergency mission to deal with a new to power sorceress who was wreaking havoc in Balamb.

But it got better.

Irvine, Selphie and Quistis were in Trabia. Nida was on holiday, Xu was in the infirmary and Squall had a meeting to attend.

Which left Seifer.

Hence, he was now sitting in a car, racing towards Balamb town, being driven by a smirking Seifer.

It wasn't that he hated Seifer, he didn't. He just hated being near the older boy.

"Just keep outta the way, chicken wuss, until we know what she does."

"I know, Seifer." He managed to growl between clenched teeth. "I do know protocol. I wasn't the one who flunked out twice."

"Touche, Chickie." Seifer grinned and spun the wheel, screaming them around a corner, nearly cleaning up the signpost. Zell screeched and grabbed his seat.

"For Hyne's sake, Seifer, slow down!"

"Tch, we need to get there ASAP, remember?" The taller boy through the car around another corner, only just slamming on the brakes as they reached the blast zone.

Grateful to be alive, Zell stumbled out of the car, taking a few deep breaths. "I drive back."

"You don't have a license."

"I do too." Zell said quietly. Okay, it was for a motorbike, but anything was better than another trip with Seifer.

Whatever the swordsman had been about to say was lost as a blast tore through the car. Both SeeDs dove behind the now melting metal lump, Zell scrambled to pull on his gloves properly.

Seifer slid his Gunblade from its sheath under his coat. The new blade was a temporary one until the Hyperion was fixed, he handled it awkwardly, tugging off his gloves to make his finger fit in the trigger. "God fucking damn, I hate this thing."

Another blast rocked the car. Zell winced and peered over the hood. "I can see her."

"Yeah?"

"About ten metres away. About sixteen, glowing pink and red."

"Shit. I hate it when it's kids." Seifer mumbled.

Zell turned with a slightly surprised look, but Seifer was gone, charging towards her, with Gunblade drawn.

"Back down now, and we won't have to do this the hard way, girl!"

The martial artist leapt to catch up with his companion, skidding to a halt next to him. "C'mon, miss, you don't want to do this."

She laughed and hurled her hand at them, fire spurting forwards. Seifer stepped in front of Zell, absorbing the flame like it was rain. "Come on, we're SeeD. We don't wanna hurt you. Edea can help you."

"Fools! I am a sorceress!" She cackled and hurled her hand again.

Flame gouted forth once more. Seifer closed his eyes and took it, arms spread to protect Zell. "Quit it, kid!"

She screamed with fury and pointed to the sky. Zell pushed Seifer down, letting the lightning crackle over him. It stung, but no where near as much as it should have. "Seifer, she ain't listening."

Seifer nodded as he stood up, Gunblade restless in his hands. "Summon, I'll cover."

The one thing that made Seifer tolerable. His rigorous training with Edea before returning to Garden had calmed him down, made him more aware of his companions. Zell closed his eyes and touched Quezacotl, bringing out the lightning bird.

It was fast, but not as fast as he used to be. Irvine had borrowed him during a trip to Centra.

In the mean time, he watched as Seifer closed his eyes and raised a hand, casually flicking his wrist forwards. Ice flung over the area, the girl screamed as one pierced into her thigh, another hitting her shoulder.

Then, Zell felt winds sweep him away and back, and the girl was glaring at them, clutching at the burns on her chest. "I'll kill you!"

"Seifer! Sleep!"

The boy nodded and held one hand to his chest before pointing again. The spell trickled over her, she shook it off. "I won't become a brainwashed fool like the rest of you!"

The martial artist ran in during her tirade and punched her in the side of the head, hoping to knock her out. She reeled and clutched, swiping at him as he jumped out of range.

"Die!"

Her spell washed past them both. Zell felt his stomach knot, Seifer shrugged off the effect like it was nothing. "C'mon, girl! That the best you got?"

"Seifer, don't..." Zell stood up, trying to clear his head. He kept on seeing the skull in front of him, he knew he needed to get the curse off him before it struck him down.

She screamed again, but Seifer was quicker. He dashed forwards, blade swinging upwards and through her. She crumpled to the ground.

Seifer walked over to where Zell had fallen to the ground, rubbing at his head and face. A bottle was shoved under his nose, the smaller boy gratefully took it and downed the contents. "She was a bit crazy, huh?"

"Yeah." Seifer looked about. "Crazy bloody bitch."

Zell smiled and rubbed his head a bit more as it cleared properly. "You dumb fuck..."

Seifer scowled and sheathed his Gunblade, eyes still full of life. "Come on, we gotta get walking if-"

The blue flame engulfed him. Zell screamed and saw the girl collapse, probably unconscious, maybe dead.

The light subsided, and Seifer's clothes were a pool on the ground.

That wasn't the worst of it.

In the middle lay a little blonde boy with a large scar across his face, apparently as confused as Zell was.

to be continued...