Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy (any of them) or Squaresoft. The idea for this story, I came up with after reading a story by Albel Fittir (previously Matron Raenee) I expanded on her idea and made it my own. This was originally posted under Divine Killing Spree but I wasn't happy with the way I wrote it so I am reposting it with a few changes and a clearer idea of where I am going with this. My thanks as always to Albel Fittir for the original idea.
I walked up to the mansion holding onto Rinoa's hand, stopping at the door to wait for the others to join us. Staring at the house, my conviction that this was the strangest mission that we had ever been on only intensified. Cid had been well paid in advance for our services - so well paid in fact, that Cid went against Garden protocol and allowed the mysterious Kyzel to avail of our services without knowing beforehand what the mission entailed. We didn't even know the basics such as whether it was surveillance or protection. I can only assume that it is something pretty big to require all of Balamb Garden's A Rank SeeDs to be here. I mean whatever Kyzel had in mind, he had specifically asked for Rinoa, Selphie, Quistis, Irvine, Zell, Seifer and I. Okay, Seifer might not be A Rank yet but he wasn't far behind – he was level twenty seven I think. That means that this must be a pretty important mission.
When Cid told us of the few details that he knew. Quistis was the first to suggest that it could be a trap. Surely it was at least a little suspicious that all of the "World's Heroes" were being brought into this mission? We don't exactly come cheap singularly - the cost for all of us plus Seifer is definitely way out of the price range of most normal peoples pockets! Yet apparently Kyzel had said that money was no object. Wasn't that suspicious in itself? Could we really afford to take such a risk? Maybe this wasn't a trap for us? Maybe it was against Balamb Garden? Attack while we were somewhere else?
Cid had only scoffed at her questions though, he apparently has complete confidence in Kyzel but went on to point out that while we might be the best in Garden, there were more than enough people here to make up for us not being there – also, if it WAS a trap, we were more than capable of looking after ourselves. After all, Seifer was the lowest grade there and he wasn't exactly at cadet level. So here we all where – standing in front of the mansion wondering just what exactly awaited us behind it's doors.
I took a quick look around everyone to ensure that they had their weapons to hand and noted that they were all watching me - my cue to step up and knock the door, I presume. I was as tense as a coiled spring - heck, even Selphie was quiet and Zell was just standing still looking like a cobra ready to strike. Maybe I should just turn around? Surely no money in the world is worth this? If I was the only one worried, it wouldn't have been so bad but it was all of us!
Just as I was about to tell them to forget it, the door opened…Somehow, as I looked at the man who held it open, I wasn't a bit surprised. I mean, what else would you expect in such an old looking house but a butler of about 200 years of age who was bent over double. He laughed when he seen us and then addressed me. "Relax Squall, you have no need for your weapon here!" That definitely freaked me out until I remembered that there are probably very few people in the world who don't know who we are. I gave myself a shake and forced myself to relax. It wasn't easy, like everyone else, I could sense something was off - not a threat really. The best way to explain it was a sense that SOMETHING was going to happen. Was that a good enough reason to leave though? I couldn't stall outside forever though and as I didn't sense any immediate threat, I entered the building with my friends close behind.
Once inside, the strange man closed the door then turned to us and told us that we were free to leave whenever we wanted. Really? How about right now? Does right now work for everyone else I wonder? I sigh and follow the butler as he shows us to our rooms. I can't help but stare at him as he leads us up the stairs. There's something not quite right about him. He just seems…off somehow.
As soon as the door was closed behind, us I turn to Rinoa to ask her and she agrees with me that something is not quite right but she doesn't seem overly bothered. For some reason, she doesn't think it's a bad thing. Before I can question her attitude to the unusual man, someone knocks the door. I open it to find Irvine standing there. Apparently, we all have to meet downstairs in the hall. Well, that can't be a bad thing. The sooner this is over, the better. I take Rinoa's hand in mine and together we walk down to meet the others and find out exactly why we are here.
Except, when we get down and everyone has joined us, we are told – this time by an elderly lady with greying hair pulled up in a bun (again, somehow it seems fitting) that Kyzel will not be joining us until tomorrow because someone else is joining us but unfortunately, he can not make it until tomorrow. What in Hyne's name is going on? The woman told us that dinner was prepared for us and that we were to go to the dining room. She also reminded us that we were free to leave if we so chose…I turn to my friends gauging their reaction, noting they are as baffled by this approach as I am. Do they WANT us to go or something? Why on earth are we here if they don't want us around?
We followed her into the room and took our places. The meal itself was uneventful other than the fact that it was some of the best food that I had ever tasted. Truly it was out of this world but apart from that, nothing happened. We talked among ourselves as the only person we saw was the housekeeper as she brought in the food. It was nice though. I felt so relaxed and looking round, I realised I wasn't the only one feeling that way. Strange I suppose – especially considering everyone's reactions earlier. I shrugged it off though and decided to just go with the flow for now. There would be time for worrying in the morning…Now, I just wanted to relax. We continued to talk idly until it was time to go to bed…
---The next morning - Irvine's P.O.V.---
As usual in the morning, I was woken up by an exuberant Selphie, who was practically trailing me out of the bed in her haste to start a new day. After all our time together, I am STILL not used to her energy levels. Most people I know aren't great in the morning but make up for it later in the day or they are full of beans in the morning but are lethargic later in the evening. I fall into the first category. I cannot function in the morning until I have had at least two cups of coffee. I love Selphie to pieces, I do. I just don't understand how she can ALWAYS have so much energy. The only time that I ever saw her quiet was during the Sorceress War with the whole missile threats – oh, and when we were standing outside this house yesterday.
I shake my head and allow her to drag me out of bed and from there to the shower. I think it amuses her greatly to do this to me in the mornings. I smile slightly at the thought. I don't know what I did to deserve her but I thank Hyne on a regular basis that she said "yes" when I asked her out. She really is the most amazing woman that I have ever known.
After we are showered and dressed, we head downstairs where we stumble across Zell who looks exactly how I feel before I get my coffee in the morning. Zell surprised me on that front I guess. On so many levels, he seemed to be just like Selphie with his boundless energy but it turns out that he also is not a morning person. In fact, he is so grumpy that it's wise to steer clear of him until he is at least halfway through his third cup of coffee.
I risk it and say hello – as expected, he just grunts a greeting then walks on. We follow him into the Dining Room to find that we are the first people to get downstairs. We spot the coffee, tea etc sitting in the middle of the table and help ourselves then sit down and wait for everyone else to arrive.
My thoughts return to Zell once more out of boredom and also, if I look busy enough, no one will talk to me – it's too much like hard work to make conversation this early in the morning.
I just can't feeling that Zell needs a girlfriend - someone like Selphie to get him motivated in the morning. For a while, Selphie and I thought that he and Cleona – the girl from the Library - would get together but, despite our best efforts at matchmaking, they remain nothing more than friends. Shame really, Zell's a nice guy. He doesn't deserve to be alone.
Ten minutes later, Squall and Rinoa walk into the room holding hands and laughing about something or other. Those two are so incredibly close, I think I would be jealous but for the fact that I have Selphie who is of course all I could ever want.
It's a further ten minutes before Seifer and Quistis show up – they walk in together but something tells me that it is merely a coincidence. Although they are always civil to each other, they don't really seek out each other's company much. When they do talk for any length of time, they'll usually end up sniping at each other. That's another pair that Selphie and I assumed would eventually end up together but, neither really shows any inclination to the thought. After we were proved wrong about that, we decided to just leave others relationships alone. They'll all find love when the time is right for them I guess. I hope they do soon though. Life is short as it is, for us, doing what we do, it could end tomorrow. I don't like the thought that my friends could die alone, without love in their lives. It saddens me.
They both sit down at the table and Quistis takes a black coffee although I am sure that she is disappointed that there isn't the usual grapefruit that she has for breakfast – there is no way that anyone in this world can enjoy the foods that she eats. She's just so obsessive about what she puts into her body – whether in an attempt to keep her weight stable or just out of some idea that she must keep her body in perfect working order I am not sure but I suspect that it is the perfection angle that does it for her.
I smile amusedly at Selphie who has just finished the biggest pile-up of greasy food on a plate that even Zell couldn't have hoped to rival and I know that I prefer her approach because she looks like she enjoys every bite whereas Quistis looks like she couldn't care less and then there's Rinoa - I guess she is the middle road between Selphie and Quistis. She has a couple of pieces of toast with marmalade and milky coffee. Zell is eating something similar to Selphie's feast, Squall is drinking coffee while watching Rinoa through half-closed eyes with a little smile playing at the corner of his mouth and then there's Seifer who looks like he is planning something - if I am right, that means that he will probably be picking a fight in about two minutes with Quistis or Zell, just for something to do.
Right on cue, Seifer started heckling Quistis about the fact that she wasn't eating. It was obviously concern. Not that he would admit that to her – naturally he turned it into something that suggested that Quistis was way too prissy to enjoy herself by doing anything as frivolous as actually eating something that she might enjoy. Fortunately, before she could reply, the housekeeper entered the room and told us that the person who Kyzel was waiting on had finally arrived.
Of course, she ushered in the very last person we would have expected – Laguna! Laguna of course apologising profusely for his delay in getting here and keeping everyone waiting. He stopped grovelling (strange to use that for a man of his age – and especially considering that he was the ruler of Esthar but, there really is no other word for it) mid-speech and just looked at Squall. I turned to Squall to see how he was reacting to this development –he was definitely not amused - before he had looked so relaxed and even, dare I say it, content but now he was all tense again and looking VERY angry. I could almost hear his thoughts at that minute - Did Laguna set this up? Are we here because of him?
The housekeeper left the room and still no one spoke. I have to admit that Laguna looked as confused as we did at our presence but Squall didn't appear to notice that because he just glared at his Dad then turned around in his chair so that he was facing away from him. Poor Rinoa looked distressed at Squall's behaviour but she knew that there was nothing she could do. Squall didn't seem to be able to get past what happened years ago and couldn't forgive Laguna. There just seemed to be so many problems with my friends. It saddened me sometimes to think of the many things that were just slipping from their grasps every day. Laguna continued to stand there looking awkward until Quistis told him to sit down and offered him some food - that in turn seemed to vex Seifer because it meant that he was being ignored and so he started annoying Zell instead – winding him up by calling him Chicken Wuss which of course had the desired effect as Zell threatened to beat him to a bloody pulp. I sighed deeply then decided to just let them get on with it, I leaned over to my girlfriend and stroked her cheek, I never could resist the urge to just reach out and touch her for very long. She smiles up at me and immediately my worries fade away.
I sat and watched Quistis flirt with Laguna (and really there is no other word for it). She should just do herself (and him) a favour and tell him that she likes him – though to be honest, I don't think she realises it herself. Maybe some day I'll do her a favour and point it out to her – after all, she did her best to help me out when we came back to Garden. Really, she was the best instructor for the job this time when I was finally willing to be taught.
Returning to Garden wasn't easy for me. Even though I was cleared of all charges as it was accepted that I was not in control during my time with Ultimecia, I still felt guilty about what I had done. A large part of me was tempted not to return but I want to make amends for my behaviour regardless of whether I was in control or not. That alone seems to have ensured that people leave me alone at the very least and let me get on with it.
There are still moments when I take delight in driving her crazy – old habits die hard sometimes. She in turn does this to me. Isn't that what brothers and sisters are for after all. These people around me are really the only people who can get under my skin. (Well, obviously Fujin and Raijin too but, I don't really see so much of them since they moved to Fisherman's Horizon). Of them, the ones who can drive me most crazy are Quistis and of course Zell, but that's for a different matter entirely. I turn my attention to the blonde in question and smirk at him when I notice him looking my way. He scowls at me for a moment then turns his attention back to his food. I think I drive him crazy. The thought alone makes me grin.
I notice Squall turning his back on Laguna and I have to admit that I sympathise with him. It really can't be easy can it? Of the time he spent with us in the orphanage, he spent most of it pining for Ellone – the only family he'd ever known. To learn that not only did you have a sister but a father who was too busy running a Country to bother with him had to be a killer. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if he'd even visited once in a while but he hadn't. Of course, Laguna must have had his reasons for not doing so but if I find them difficult to fathom then it could only have been harder for Squall. Poor guy!
Oh great! Whatever the hell is going on, it's shaping up to be a really crappy mission. It's bad enough that Seifer is here which of course means that I have a whole world of fun ahead of me but now add to the mix the fact that Laguna is here. How long can it be before all hell breaks loose? (These sausages are really yummy - if only there were some bread rolls about I could make some hotdogs!)
Contrary to popular belief, I don't hate Seifer, are arguing and sniping is something that we have been doing so long that we really don't know how to communicate with each other in any other manner. That's what I think anyway. Truth is, if he asked me for help, I'd give it to him in a heartbeat.
As for Laguna, I wonder why he's here at all. It's strange. Maybe it IS a trap. We have just been brought here to be killed or something. I really wish that Cleona were here. She's a great girl. Despite the quiet exterior, she's got a killer sense of humour and could definitely alleviate some of the tension in this room. She really is a great girl. I smile as I remember Irvine "subtly" pointing out that Cleona and I would make a nice couple. Yeah right! She's not really my type – nor am I hers but, she's a damn good friend.
One minute, I am sitting answering some question of Seifer's, the next Laguna walks in. Apparently, Laguna is whom the elusive Kyzel was waiting for last night. This is definitely a trap. The question is, exactly what are we up against? Could we possibly be strong enough to defeat whatever this new threat is? I will have to hope that we are. No. We're going to be fine. We have to be, after all, the weakest people in our Ranks are Laguna and Seifer. I look at them momentarily, first at Seifer - who is in the process of smirking arrogantly at Zell. I know for a fact that Seifer will be fine. He's more than capable of looking after himself – then I turn my gaze to Laguna, my eyes travelling over his body idly, noting that he obviously still does some sort of training still. He's definitely capable of defending himself also if the need arises. No weapon though. That could be problematic.
Just as I am considering this, the housekeeper comes into the room. Apparently Kyzel has requested our presence in the Drawing Room. We finish our food and drink and follow the housekeeper into the aforementioned room and sit down around the table. I guess we're about to find out what exactly what we are up against. Ready or not…here it comes! I smile slightly at that thought as I am reminded of simpler times in the orphanage – times when we put our differences behind us and just enjoyed each other's company. I sit down at the only spare seat – which means I am sitting directly opposite Seifer. A sigh escapes me then. Hopefully, he will resist the urge to irritate me if he gets bored.
A young man of about our age walks in. He has blonde hair and looks quite attractive. He is wearing a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and looks like he was born for it. I realise I am staring and turn away quickly only to discover that Rinoa and Selphie also seem rather captivated by him and I smile. Surely this can't be Kyzel though? He's so young looking - he can't be more than twenty five! The next thing I know, he has jumped up onto the top of the table and sits facing us with his legs crossed, he looks totally at ease like this is a perfectly normal way to conduct a meeting. What exactly was wrong with sitting in a chair like a normal person? I shake my head to dislodge the thought and try to concentrate on what he is saying.
"Greetings to you all. I hope that you are all okay. Sorry there was no grapefruit for you Quistis. I'll get some for you for tomorrow morning, I promise." I blink and stare as he says that. I look round and see that the only person who has registered what he says is Seifer who glares at me. He must think that I know him. I just return his glare with a perplexed look. I have never seen him before in my life. I'm sure of that. Oh Hyne! I hope he's not a Trepie! They are insane – all of them. If he's one of them, I think I will be entitled to kill him simply on those grounds! I smile slightly at that thought but stop once I realise that Seifer is still glaring at me. I sigh instead.
"No doubt you are all wondering why you are here. Let me put your minds at ease. This is not a trap. I am not trying to kill you or this is not some intricate plan to sabotage Garden and I am NOT a Trepie – no offence Quistis. You're perfectly nice and everything but…you're just a woman – an exceptionally bright young woman but a woman none the less." Kyzel says this with innocence and I notice that Seifer quirks an eyebrow at that one but remains silent. I meanwhile am becoming more wary by the second.
Kyzel speaks again "now that I have your attention, let me introduce myself. I'm Kyzel and I'm an Angel sent by Hyne to help you all sort out a few of your problems" I blink and then stare at him for a moment before I realise what's going on - he's crazy! I continue to stare at him – no doubt exactly what everyone else is doing because he sighs "Why does no one ever believe me when tell them that I am an Angel?"
It is Seifer who breaks the silence "probably because you're insane!" I don't say anything because, for the first time in what feels like years, I am in total agreement with him - Kyzel is obviously not playing with the full deck. The question is how in Hyne's name do we get out of this situation we find ourselves in? Is he likely to get violent if we all just get up and leave? If there is only him here, we should be fine but…
Kyzel sighs and this time when he speaks, there is just a hint of impatience in his voice "Okay children, listen to me. I have been sent by Hyne to help you. If you refuse to believe me, that is your loss. It's a shame though. He had such high hopes for you all!" It is Selphie who pipes up this time. "Um, you really need to get some help Mister. If you come back to Garden with us, I'm sure we can get someone to help you." I watch as Kyzel sighs yet again and shakes his head. Right before my eyes, he sprouts a huge pair of wings…I blink to clear my vision. Must be something wrong with my eyes…nope. Still there! He looks around and smiles, noting that everyone is watching him. "Now that I have your attention….As I was saying, I am angel sent by Hyne himself to help you all! Any questions?" Irvine raised his hand and Kyzel looks to him "yes?" Irvine coughs and then asks, "did that hurt?" Kyzel looks at him and sighs, "Yes it did. Now, if you don't mind, can I get on with telling you all why you are here?" He looks around and when no one objects, he starts to talk again – the irritation in his voice from earlier seems to have completely left him again.
"I am an Angel, sent by Hyne himself. My job here is to try and ease some of your concerns. The reason he is doing this for you is that you have all helped to save the World that He created and He is grateful. He could not bring himself to harm Ultimecia, as she was His Descendant. He is grateful to you for doing what He could not." It was Seifer and Laguna who looked troubled this time but Kyzel beat them to it before they could speak. "Laguna, you were instrumental in stopping Adel, you also played a part in stopping Ultimecia, Seifer, you are too deeply weighed down in guilt and it is something that rankles Him greatly!" He looks around to see if we are following what he has said so far. I realise that there is something that I want to ask, "so how exactly can you help us?"
Kyzel smiles at my question. "My, you are all so impatient aren't you? I was just getting to that: My purpose here is to release you from some of your worries. Hyne has been watching over you all for some time now. It has come to His attention that you all seem to be spending a great deal of your time mulling over 'what ifs'. The plan therefore is to let you all see what would have happened if you had chosen the alternative that bothers you so much." We all just stared at him and each other in confusion then. Zell spoke up. "How exactly do you plan to do that?" Kyzel smiled again. "A good question Zell!" He pointed to a projector and screen "I'm going to play your choices on that – it'll be like watching a film."
Rinoa this time – "But what happens if the other way is better? It could hurt too much! How is that meant to make us feel better?" Kyzel smiled at Rinoa as though she had just made some major point. "Then you choose the other life Rinoa!" For a minute there was stunned silence then everyone spoke at once. "What?" – That was Zell, Seifer, Selphie and I. "Holy Shit." That was from Irvine. Kyzel laughed delightedly. "I'm going to leave you together here for half an hour. I'll get Mrs. Junan to bring you in tea and coffee and you can think over what I have said. I'll remind you that you don't have to do this. You are all free to leave whenever you choose. I hope you don't though, please bear in mind that this is meant to help you." With that he left. Wow - that was certainly an unexpected turn of events!
So basically Kyzel has told us that our one big regret could be taken away just like THAT! I thought about that for a second. Wasn't really difficult for me to decide what I wanted to know – of course I needed to know what would have happened had I been with Raine when Squall was born. Could she have been saved? What difference would it have made if Squall had been with me? I sigh deeply at the thought. I have so many questions and regrets from the past but every single one comes back to the fact that I wasn't there when Raine died. Maybe I couldn't have saved her but at least Squall and I would have known each other. Now, he might know of my existence but he cannot get over the past and hates me so much and it just breaks my heart. There's no doubt in my mind. If Kyzel is genuine, and we're doing this then that's what I'm going to ask. What if I'd come back earlier to Raine?
Oh My God! This is so BIG! I was expecting this to be a standard mission or even a trap but this…this is immense. I have the chance to change my one big regret in my life – that's not exactly hard is it? The fact that the missiles hit Trabia Garden because we were unable to stop them has been weighing me down. I'm finally going to be able to fix it! This is wonderful. This is turning out to be one of the best days of my life. I bounce around excitedly at the thought.
I wonder what everyone else is thinking? Are we going to go through with this? Could this be some kind of trap? No! Not possible. Kyzel has wings. Normal people don't have wings…well Rinoa….she's a Sorceress though – a descendant of Hyne so….
Just one? Where would I start? One regret….I have so many how can I possibly choose just one. I look at Quistis and I realise that she looks like she's about to be sick or something. Squall of course is lost in thought as usual. The only one who doesn't look totally freaked out is Rinoa who looks totally calm. In fact she looks so relaxed, I am beginning to wonder if she has fallen asleep with her eyes closed.
I can't help but smile as I think of the gift that Hyne has offered us. It's so wonderful. To think that we are being given something as wonderful! I hope that it can be done. I look around me. Everyone here is deeply weighed down by mistakes that they have made – not that I am an exception - but it's a wonderful opportunity. If it could have been better then we can take the changed life but if it isn't, at least we will know. How does that affect the whole war with Ultimecia though? I must check that with Kyzel before we tell him of our decision.
What's there to regret? Life is all about making choices isn't it? There are always going to be consequences to every choice we make. Even if we don't make a choice, there are still consequences. Still, it might be worth a look anyway. What harm can it do? I look round the room at everyone while they are all lost in thought. The housekeeper (Mrs. Junan) enters with tea and coffee and sets it down. When she leaves, everyone starts discussing the implications. Ten minutes later, it has been decided that we will go through with it. At the very least, we should see what could have been. No sooner have we decided on a course of action than Kyzel comes back. Was he standing at the door or something?
He sits on top of the desk again and when everyone is looking at him, he speaks, "to answer your question Irvine, no, I was not listening at the door. I didn't need to. I'm an Angel remember?" I smile slightly at that. "You have made your decision!" It is a statement. Of course he knows but I sense that he needs us to tell him as much so I speak up, "Yes, we wish to go through with this." He smiles widely then and claps his hands together. "Excellent, in that case, I want you to take the rest of the day and think about what you each want. You are free to do as you wish until then. Dinner will be served later but don't worry - Mrs. Junan will call you when it is ready." With that, we all departed to our rooms to think. I grabbed Selphie's hand. Although we were mostly lost in our own thoughts, I still derived an immense amount of comfort from her.
As we entered our room and sat on the bed I couldn't help but think that we were about to embark on something very interesting and I was looking forward to it and I could tell that Selphie was too. Roll on tomorrow then!