Disclaimer: I in no way claim any ownership to the greatness that is Final Fantasy VIII. I'm only borrowing its characters for entertainment purposes.
Author's notes: Its been a good year or so since I originally took this story off of the site. I've reworked the first fifteen chapters I originally had and somehow have managed to add another five or so on the end. That's right folks, every chapter is planned out! This story now has a solid plot! I hope everyone enjoys what I've done with the story.
A red evening sun hung barely above the horizon as daytime casually changed over to night. Racing to beat nightfall, a Galbadian Supply chopper approached a lone, desolate, jungle covered island. The chopper circled a few times before hovering just above the jungle island's tree tops. Both the pilot and co-pilot stared down at the dark foliage that engulfed the small island.
"There's no pad," The co-pilot stated. "There's not even a clearing. There's no place for us to land."
"Oh there's a clearing Stan," The pilot assured him. "We just have to slowly edge over it...before we can see it to land on it." Stan looked out the window at the darkening jungle. His eyes came to rest on an ancient looking stone structure, barely breaking through the jungle's tree tops. Sure enough, as the copter continued to creep foreword, a cleared out patch of grass became visible. Stan turned and looked over at the pilot.
"I take it you've been here before Sir?"
"Its Edward, not Sir," Edward shook his head as he nodded out the front window. Stan followed his gaze to see the looming bulk of the facilities lookout tower. He instinctively looked up to see how close they were to hitting it with the rotors. "We're fine," Edward said to ease Stan's nervousness. "Hold on though. The descent's always a bit bumpy," He warned as he lowered the chopper down beside the tower.
"Careful not to get too close," Stan said.
"I've been making this flight for nine years. Its fine," Edward tried to hide the laugh in his voice.
Stan looked at him skeptically and then out at the stone structure beside them as they lowered. The helicopter jolted as it came to rest and its rotors hurled dirt and leaves through the air. Once all systems were shut down, Edward took off his belt and got out of his seat. Stan remained behind and stared at the enormous facility that lay attached to the bottom of the tower.
"Sir, where exactly are we?"
Edward paused and then sat back in his seat. "For the past nine hours I've been telling you its Edward. Sir is too formal," He chuckled. "Rest assured, we're exactly where we're supposed to be."
"This place looks like some kind of prison camp out of an old horror movie."
Edward laughed and gestured to the window. "What gave it away?"
Stan shook his head. "I don't know. Its just creepy."
"That it is," Edward agreed as he climbed out of his seat and opened the door to the cargo hold. Stan followed closely as he stepped inside and prepared to open the external hatch. "This is the only chopper the government permits here."
"Centra hasn't had a unified government since the lunar cry," Stan stated.
"This island's leased to Galbadia," Edward said as he flipped through a few pages on a clipboard.
"There's something everyone's been sidestepping since I agreed to this position," Stan crossed his arms. "What's so special about this place?"
"This place? Besides the cliffs that make up every edge of the island's exterior, and the sharp rocks below them...there's dense jungle, extreme heat, and dangerous monsters. Its the perfect place to put a maximum security correctional facility," Edward dropped the clipboard on a shipping crate and picked up his rifle.
Stan looked at him nervously. "You mean prison," Stan spoke flatly.
Edward paid his tone no mind, "I hope you brought your weapon. This jungle's full of imported monsters...for security reasons."
"What kind of security reasons use wild monsters?" Stan asked as he took the safety off his pistol.
"The kind of security that prides itself on being escape proof." When Stan didn't respond, Edward sighed. "Stan my boy, you really have no clue where we're at do you?" Edward pushed the release on the wall and watched the exterior hatch hiss open. The humid air rushed inside, taking the first breaths away from both men.
"We're at some kind of prison," Stan said as he watched Edward motion for the two guards standing outside. "But I don't understand. D-District's the highest security prison Galbadia has."
"D-District...D-District is nothing compared to this place," Edward shook his head and jumped down from the helicopter. He waited for Stan to follow as he scanned the tree line for any signs of danger. His co-pilot slowly followed him and jumped down to the damp soil. Once Stan was standing beside him, he spoke again. "Welcome to Hell son." The guards paid them no mind as they quickly boarded the helicopter and began unloading the cargo. Stan continued to stare at the dark stone facility with fear in his eyes.
"Bedevil Asylum," His words trembled with the rest of his body. "T-T-T-This is B-Bedevil Asylum. I-I-I t-thought it was just some myth made up to make the general public think D-District's practice's seem acceptable."
Edward looked into Stan's panicked eyes. "The only things mythical about this place are the stories you hear about people escaping with their lives. Come on. Everyone here is locked down tight. All we have to do is walk into the main office and get our paperwork so we can leave..." Edward quieted as he listened. Over the normal noises of the jungle and its monsters, a muffled roaring seemed to grow louder. Beside him, Stan pulled out his pistol and stepped back towards the helicopter.
"I smell smoke," He looked around at the darkness that was consuming them. "That place is burning." Edward pulled his rifle up as he slowly approached the building. "Edward! If there's a fire something's seriously wrong. Come on lets get back on the copter. We don't have to have those papers do we? We're no match for an entire prison." Edward lowered his rifle as he strained to listen.
"That roaring isn't flames," He stated as he took a step back. "You're right kid. Let's go."
"Those are voices," Stan whispered as he numbly watched Edward rush past him.
"On the helicopter! Get on! Now!" Edward shouted as he reached for Stan's arm. He pulled at the fabric of Stan's jacket and turned to face the barrel of the first guard's gun. Stan fell to his knees and recoiled as the guard pulled the trigger and Edward was blown backwards. In a state of shock, Stan stared at the blood and bits of bone and pulpy tissue that lay scattered on the ground. The guard turned his gun on him, but Stan didn't even see it coming.
Meanwhile, deep inside Bedevil's Asylum, a thick black smoke drifted through the hallways as a fire raged on in one of the supply rooms. From their cell, Jalen Buckman and Gunther Audley watched as their small cell light flickered on and off. Gunther knelt beside his cell's open door and leaned against the bars. The metal against his cheek sent a jolt through his body as he absorbed the cold, almost stinging sensation it gave him. In such a hot and humid place, where the air seemed to smother the life and energy out of even the strongest of men, such a coolness was pure ecstasy. Gunther involuntarily shivered as he slid his arms in-between his bars and looked down the dim hallway.
On the top bunk, Jalen groaned as he pulled his soiled shirt back over his head and then leaned against the wall. He listened as the shouts of his fellow prisoners grew louder. Their voices echoed against the cold stone walls of the asylum. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Gunther nervously. The man hadn't moved for a few minutes. His calmness was unnerving. A few distinct voices diverted his attention and he strained to look down the hallway where Gunther's gaze had been the entire time. "Who is it?" He asked as he leaned foreword. His question was swiftly answered as one of the asylum's guards was hurled into the bars of their cell. Gunther fell back, and watched from his position on the floor as three prisoners pounced the guard in an effort to strip him of his weapon. Two random shots hit the youngest of the three inmates in the stomach. He fell back against the wall with a dull thud and then silently slid down to the floor.
Gunther remained where he laid on the floor and watched as a second prisoner was shot by the guard. Jalen dropped down to the floor and remained knelt next to Audley. Now obviously wounded, the guard was firing off random shots in an attempt to keep the last of the three prisoners off of him. Hoping not to catch a stray bullet, both Gunther and Jalen backed as far away from the scene as their cell would allow. From down the hall shouts and footsteps began to grow louder.
"This could get bad," Jalen whispered as he wiped at his burning eyes to no avail. "I think this smoke is making me sick. Like they're burning styrofoam or something. Is it time yet? Its gettin' real."
Gunther remained silent as he slowly stood and approached the bars of his cell. With a calloused hand he gently took hold of the cold bars that had for four years held him captive. He stroked the cool metal with his fingertips while the guard struggled under the weight of his opposing prisoner. The two men rolled around in the blood of the two dead prisoners before they finally stilled. Gunther paused his motions and looked down at the two men curiously. Then, as if he'd been prodded with a tazer, the prisoner jumped up and stumbled away from the guard's body. He held the guard's weapon in his hands as if it were sacred and then shot Gunther a dark grin. The guard groaned as he pulled a blade from his sleeve and hurled it at the prisoner's neck. Both Gunther and Jalen watched silently as the prisoner staggered forward a step and the knife fell out of his throat. A sickening, gurgling, suction-like sound erupted from the prisoner as he clutched at his throat and slowly fell to the floor. Both Gunther and Jalen watched wide-eyed. "Now its real," Gunther spoke as he knelt and tugged at a small tear in the sole of his boot. The guard, still in a daze, reached weakly for his gun and fell back against the bars of their cell.
Now behind Gunther, Jalen stepped to the side and watched as a stream of richly red blood made its way across the floor. His eyes began tracing the trail back up to its source and stopped when he saw Audley's fingers pull a thin razor blade from the sole of his boot.
"Now," Gunther spoke as he reached through the bars and grabbed the guard by the shirt.
"Hey!" The guard shrieked as he dropped his gun and was pulled against the bars. Using all his body weight, the guard hurled himself forward, pulling Gunther head first into the bars. Gunther's fingers slipped and the guard stumbled forward and into Jalen's waiting fists. The guard was once again knocked back against the bars and Gunther swiftly stuck his arms through them and slit his throat. Jalen turned away and started gagging as the guard's body was unceremoniously left to topple into the now growing lake of blood. Tucking the blade back into his boot, Gunther motioned for him and took off running down the hall. Jalen quickly bent down and took the bloodied gun off the dead guard before hurrying after him.
The two men ran frantically through the crowded halls and pushed their way through the fights that were erupting all over the asylum. Neither of them had the time to stop, they had to beat everyone else outside. Both Jalen and Gunther continued running until they were through the front gates. Once they were out, they stopped and turned back for one last look at the men fighting inside.
"Surely they realize they can just walk on out," Jalen said between gasps.
"There ain't no place to go," Gunther placed a hand on the bruised spot on his forehead. "We're all stranded on an island somewhere in the middle of the sea," Gunther grinned a twisted lopsided grin as he looked at his partner. Jalen stared at the bruised and bloodied face of his friend nervously. "Well, they're stranded on this island. You and I are going to hop a flight back to Galbadia with good ole Ritz and Flannagan; the worst two guards this place never realized they had." He cast another glance at the prison's main entrance. "While we're heading home, those fools are gonna stay in there where there's excitement and adrenaline. They thrive on it, like the mindless beasts this place has turned them into," Gunther sneered. "In another few hours headquarters is going to realize there's a problem when this helicopter doesn't show to pick up day shift guards. Let's get out of here before they realize something's up."
Jalen followed Gunther across the narrow clearing between them and their ticket home. He waited as Gunther climbed aboard and looked out at the black jungle. The wind of the rotors whipped his hair wildly across his face and with a sly grin, he quickly followed his boss.
Seven Months Later
A freezing rain pelted down on them. He blinked his eyes repeatedly, trying desperately to rid them of the water that was blurring his vision. He noticed with some annoyance that the drain off to the side of his front door was clogged again and the water was beginning to pool up. Behind him, a sharp bolt of lightening shot across the sky. He jumped at its proximity and dropped his house key. The small bronze key fell from his hand and landed with what would've been a splash had the thunder not been deafening. He dropped to his knees in the freezing water and felt around for the small object. Beside him, Fujin stooped down and pulled her raincoat around her to ward off the wind. She joined him in his search as the rain began falling harder. He pulled his frozen hands from the water long enough to push his soaked hair out of his eyes and then continued his search. His finger's brushed hers just as she pulled the key from the water. He quickly took it from her and shoved it in the keyhole. She pushed the door open and practically pulled him inside. Despite their hasty entrance, they'd still let in quite a bit of water. He sighed as he pulled his poncho off and hung it on a hook behind the door.
"Ma I'm home!" He shouted. When he gained no response, he turned back to Fujin. "I'll go get a towel to clean this up. Make yourself at home," He said as he hurried across the room and into the kitchen.
"DON"T RUN," She warned as she looked around in the darkness. Carefully, she made her way across the slick stone floor and flipped on the switch. A loud crashing sound startled her. She cast her gaze to the kitchen where Zell was picking himself up off the floor and sitting two chairs upright again.
"I'm okay," He said quickly as he hurried past her and began to soak up the water that surrounded the front door. Fujin cast him a skeptical look. Sitting back on his knees he looked around the dimly lit room. "I'm going to go see if Ma's already in bed. Be right back." Fujin watched as he once again hurried off into the other room. She shook her head in amusement and then pulled a note off the refrigerator. After a few seconds had passed, he came bounding back into the front foyer. "She's not there!" He exclaimed.
Fujin rolled her eyes and then read what was written on the paper aloud. "Zell, if you come home while I'm away go ahead and make yourself comfortable. I've gone to visit my sister. Whatever you do, please don't try and cook. Love Ma." Fujin extended her arm out and flipped the folded piece of paper between her fingers. Zell reached for it but she pulled it out of his reach. He reached for it again only to have her raise it above his head.
"That's not fair!" He exclaimed. "That's a letter from my Ma to me! Give it here!"
Fujin smiled as she played with him. He jumped up to snatch it away, but she ducked under his arm and cradled the letter against her abdomen. Zell came up from behind her and wrapped his arms around her in an attempt to get the paper. A squeal escaped her lips as he lifted her off the ground and tried tickling her to get her to drop it. "NO!" Her voice was a muffled laugh as he tried desperately to pry her fingers open. She kicked and fought to get her feet back on the floor, and in doing so, caused Zell to topple over to the side. He landed unceremoniously on top of her and the two began laughing as they continued their little game. Fujin started to crawl out from under him, but Zell used his body weight to pin her down. She giggled as he struggled to pry her left hand open.
"Gee whiz you have a tight grip. Come on!" He laughed as he fought to break her grip. She shook her head as she managed to wiggle free and then push him away with her left foot. He stumbled backwards and landed on his backside. He sat stunned for a moment. The confused expression on his face was quickly replaced with a mischievous grin as he started to rise. It never ceased to amaze her how different he tended to act when his friends weren't around and they were alone. The thought brought a wry grin to her face as she backed slowly away from him. She was enjoying their little game of cat and mouse.
By the time he'd found his feet, she'd made it across the room and was up against the far wall. He quickly closed the distance between them and tried to pin her there as he reached behind her back for the letter. She smiled and bit her lip as he laughed at his futile attempts to get the note from her. The more she resisted, the more he struggled, the more he fell against her and the more he kept breathing on her neck. Fujin closed her eyes. At that moment, their closeness was intoxicating. Even thoroughly soaked and shivering there was something about him she couldn't resist. He exhaled again, sending chills throughout her body. She fought the urge to shudder to no avail. Only then did he pause his game with her. He looked in her eyes and licked his lips. There was no doubt that he'd felt it.
"Little cold are we?" He teased as he leaned in and planted a light peck on her lips. She smiled as he wrapped his arms securely around her waist and continued to keep her pinned against the wall. Her body shuddered again, when instead of kissing her lips, he let his mouth fall to the sensitive spot on her neck. Fujin closed her eyes and leaned her head back as she marveled in the pleasure he gave her. The letter dropped soundlessly to the ground as she took his face in her hands and claimed his mouth with her own. He excitedly deepened the kiss, but then quickly pulled away and smiled bashfully. Fujin shot him a confused look.
"Sorry about that," He apologized. "I told you I'd get us something to eat when we got here." She nodded in understanding and then bent down and swiped up the letter. He took it from her hand and opened it carefully. After reading it he motioned for her to follow him into the kitchen.
"NO BIG DEAL," She caught his arm as he reached for the refrigerator.
He shrugged. "I know. I just didn't want it to seem like I was just making the food thing up to get u here alone." He shut his mouth when he realized what he'd just said. He turned back to the refrigerator quickly to hide his flushing cheeks. Fujin leaned against the counter and grinned to herself.
Zell sat the hot dog package on the counter and gave her a slightly embarrassed look. "Can you put these in the microwave then?"
"YOU," She picked at him.
"I'll get in trouble," He answered with a laugh.
"More like a bad cooking experience," He confessed.
He sighed. "I was twelve and decided to heat up some hot dogs in the microwave while Ma was out. I got distracted and when I came back into the kitchen, the hotdogs had already burst inside the microwave. I pulled the plate out quickly and dropped it cause it was so hot. Scorched hot dog chunks were everywhere. Ma picked that exact time to step through the front door." Fujin suppressed a smile.
"Thank you," He muttered as he punched in a cooking time and placed the hot dogs inside. "So," Zell leaned back against the counter as he looked her over. "We have a little time. Where'd we leave off?" Fujin grinned and then pulled him into another kiss.
The two ate in a relatively peaceful silence that was only disturbed by the pounding rain and rolling thunder outside. It had only taken Zell three minutes to eat his eight hot-dogs and he'd spent the next four minutes watching Fujin eat her two. She watched him as she held the last bite sized portion of her supper between her pale fingertips.
"Remember Timber?" She asked.
Zell smiled fondly. "That was the first place you let me buy you a hotdog."
She shook her head in amusement. "We had no money."
"Still. You let me buy you a hotdog. Of course I had to buy for Seifer and Raijin too...but I still bought you a hotdog," He smiled triumphantly as he leaned towards her. At his words, she smiled and leaned forward as well. Their lips lingered just a few inches apart before Zell leaned forward to close the distance. Fujin let the last morsel of her supper fall to the plate as she closed her eyes and kissed him. His hand ran through her hair as he leaned closer and deepened the kiss. She pulled back to catch her breath. He fell lazily to his elbows as he leaned on the tabletop. "I didn't think you'd ever get back from that mission," He spoke as he played with the damp material of his shirt. "I missed you."
His last words caused her to look up in surprise. She smiled and playfully tried to stand his spikes back up with her fingers. "You're soaking wet," She stated.
"So are you," He responded as he stood up and walked around the table. "Come on, let's go find some towels and something dry to change into." Fujin followed him into the foyer and watched as he began climbing the steps to his room. "Clothes and towels are up here-" The thunder cut off his sentence. Zell jumped in surprise as the thunder rattled all the windows and seemed to shake everything in the house. Fujin looked up at him nervously and then the lights went out. "Hmm...Yeah this isn't good," Zell said as he made his way back down the stairs. "Give me just a minute. Ma keeps her oil lamps in her room."
Fujin nodded but doubted he'd seen her movement. She watched as he carefully stepped off the last step and his dark silhouette passed her. Carefully reaching out, she placed a hand on his shoulder and blindly followed him through the darkness. After a few moments they stopped in front of what Fujin assumed was a door. Through the darkness she could hear him fumbling with a door knob. She let her hand fall to her side and she watched from the doorway as he lifted something off of a shelf. The lightening outside the window illuminated the room in a bright white light. Fujin squinted her eyes and continued watching as Zell lit the small glass lamp in his hands.
"Here we go," He said as he gently sat the lamp on his Ma's desk. "Let's light another one just in case," He spoke more to himself than to her. "There," He grinned triumphantly at her and then held out a lamp in her direction. "You can carry this one."
"APPRECIATE," Fujin smiled as she carefully took the lamp in her hands and held in gingerly. Zell watched her with a smile. "What?" She asked.
"You look really beautiful in this light," He said as he placed a hand on her cheek. She smiled and then pulled away bashfully. Zell looked away and then paused. He narrowed his eyes as he picked up the book off of his Ma's dresser. Fujin watched from behind him as he picked up his lamp and opened the book. From what she could see, it was some type of photo album with cards and pictures covering every page Zell turned it to. She approached him slowly, making certain not to splash the oil around inside the lamp's base. Zell slowly sat down on the bed as he flipped from page to page with his left hand and held the lamp close with his right. For the first time in a long time, his face held a serious, almost angry, expression that he usually only used when fighting with Seifer. Fujin watched him silently as she knelt next to the bed and tried to make some sense of what he was upset about.
"What is it?" She asked.
"A baby book," He frowned.
"No," His gaze darkened. "I'm an only child, adopted when I was four." She watched as he continued flipping almost frantically through the pages of the book. "I don't understand. This is Ma and Pa in the pictures with this baby...but that's not me. Who is this Lex Dincht? And why wouldn't they tell me about him Fuu?" He looked at Fujin for an answer he knew she didn't have. The hurt was evident in his eyes. She could see it churning just beneath the cool blue of his Irises as he stared at her. Fujin looked down at the book in his lap, unable to come up with any reasons and unable to take the intense emotion she saw in his eyes.