Disclaimer: I own Final Fantasy 8. Squaresoft is actually my company…Unfortunately for me though; this is only in my dreams/another universe. . In this reality, I don't make any profit for this story nor do either LadyTwist or Raven–Leigh who have kindly helped me with previous chapters.
A/N: Sorry for the delay in writing this chapter but, I have been pleasantly distracted by a few RPs that I'm taking part in over at Unforsaken Dreams. Feel free to come and take a look. There's some very cool stuff on the site. (The address is on profile page)
A/N2: The idea of Seifer's coming back to Garden is based on an RP from Unforsaken Dreams...more info can be gotten there if you're interested... :-)
Squall frowned and looked around the room. Everyone else seemed to have chosen things that they thought would be better but, he only had one thing and Laguna had already chosen to see that so he knew how it ended. He pondered it for a while as he sat there then finally decided to get Kyzel's attention.
When he had it, he spoke up. "Kyzel, would it be alright if I go next? I'd like to see something – not because I think it could have been better but, rather because I think it would have been worse. I've regularly counted it as a blessing that I let Quistis, Selphie and Irvine convince me…"
Kyzel smiled kindly. "Squall, you can see anything you choose. It's entirely up to you – that IS the point of this exercise after all."
Squall nodded and took Rinoa's hand lifting it to his mouth to place a kiss on it. "Okay, what I'd like to see is what would have happened if Quistis and the rest hadn't convinced me to save Rinoa from the Sorceress Memorial." He frowned as he heard gasps from assorted people around the room. "I've already SAID…I don't expect this to be better. I'm just curious. There's honestly nothing that I think could be better. My life's pretty close to perfect right now. I've got Rinoa and I've got friends. Not to mention my Dad and Sister. Okay, I could probably do without being Commander but, that's another matter."
He turned his attention to Rinoa. "Rinoa, I love you. I could never choose a world in which you and I aren't together. Never." Rinoa smiled and kissed him softly. "It's okay Squall. I understand. Besides, I have to admit that I too am a little curious. She snuggled closer to him. "I love you Squall." He smiled back. "Always."
Kyzel smiled. Ah young love. So sweet! He gave them a moment before speaking. "Okay. Well let's start then…"
The film started once more and Squall watched the screen as he saw Rinoa and himself in space. He was unable to stop a blush however at the scene, knowing that his friends were witnessing him with her. It was at that moment that he realised he was totally in love with her. Rather than make himself better, it made him more scared. After all, when people love you, they leave. Right? He shrugged it off and just continued to watch as the scene continued to the moment where Quistis showed up telling him off for leaving Rinoa – Except this time, neither Quistis nor Irvine nor even Selphie showed up – Not until it was too late anyway. When they did, they didn't even comment on the fact that Rinoa was gone. They just got on with the job at hand.
Suddenly, they were watching Seifer instead. He was heading to the Memorial with some of the Sorceress's chosen faithful. Squall looked over at Seifer noting that he'd gotten paler. He just managed to make out him muttering. "I do NOT want to see this. It cannot end well!" Squall sighed and continued to watch though.
Seifer was VERY intent on what he was doing with his little group of helpers. He'd get Rinoa out if it killed him! He'd left Hyperion behind for this of course – stealth was required and it wasn't suitable. He drew out a knife as he sneaked up on a guard and slit his throat. The other guard turned around too late to do anything, was stabbed through the heart, dead before her hit the ground.
Seifer carried on regardless. With the help of the men, everyone who'd been there guarding Rinoa was dead in less than ten minutes. Ward and Kiros were the last to fall. Kiros's last words were. "It was meant to be Squall…" Seifer rolled his eyes and pulled the bangle off Rinoa and Ultimecia possessed her immediately.
----------No P.O.V. – Room----------
Squall felt ill. He was a SeeD and he'd seen a lot in his time but he'd never seen anything so brutal before. Seifer's deadly calm was chilling. Was that what it was really like to be possessed by someone like Ultimecia? To have your free will taken away? Was it any wonder that Seifer was the way he was now?
Zell looked at Seifer. "Seif, remember. It wasn't you. It was Ultimecia…" Seifer nodded weakly, managed to croak out a reply. "I-I need some air." He got up and left. Zell followed him of course.
Squall sighed and looked at Kyzel. "Normally, I would say that we should wait but, I don't think Seifer needs to see any more and personally, I think that Zell is the best person to be with him…can we let this continue while they're gone?" Kyzel sighed and shook his head. "I know it's painful for him but, he should see this too. Just take a break for now, okay? Actually it's probably a good idea to call it a day. We'll continue tomorrow at ten. There'll be food waiting for you in half an hour." His tone brooked no argument and he was gone before anyone could raise any objections anyway. They filed obediently out of the room, all despondent after what they'd witnessed.
They all took their turn to try and cheer up Seifer but it was Squall who got through to him. "Seifer come on and get some food, okay? Don't let it get to you. It wasn't you and it didn't happen. I know that you did some bad thing when you were under her control but, it's part of the past and we all know that you didn't want to do it." He sighed. "Come on, the point of this is that I knew it was going to be worse. I'd never choose that reality. Please let it go." Seifer looked at him for a moment then nodded. "Let's just go eat." Zell stayed right beside Seifer, worrying over him and generally being as sweet as possible to him.
Lunch was a little tense for the first ten minutes but after that, Selphie and Zell seemed to make it their mission to lighten everyone up. By the time they'd finished, everyone was more or less back to normal and ready for sleep. Everyone headed to their rooms, with the exception of Zell. He didn't want to leave Seifer alone so he went to his room with him. They talked for a while then Zell surprised Seifer a little by peeling off his gloves and his shoes and climbing into the bed beside him. "Don't want you to be alone Seifer." He nuzzled closer, wrapping his arms around him." Seifer smiled gratefully at him and kissed his cheek. "Thank you." He was asleep in minutes, Zell followed him shortly.
----------The next morning----------
The next morning, the group all seemed more optimistic as they met for breakfast, talking easily and happily. Kyzel joined them half an hour later. "Everybody ready?" No one put up an objection – not even Seifer – so he merely nodded and gestured to the door. "Well then, please follow me." He moved out of the room, heading once more into the darkened room to start the video once more.
When they were all seated, the video started and once more they were pulled into the strange events. They watched onscreen as things happened much as they had in this reality – except of course for the absence of Rinoa. Apparently though, Ultimecia tired of her and disposed of her the same way that she disposed of Seifer. Of course, that only made Squall angrier, gave him an edge. How dare this evil woman take away the woman he loved and then just discard her like rubbish! Of course, the group onscreen still won. He looked around at his friends, his lover then Kyzel. No one had anything to say about the horrible turn of events though – their saddened expressions said it all.
----------Film – some years later----------
Squall sat in his office, loaded down with paperwork. He looked much as he did during the time of the war with Ultimecia. There were just two differences…he looked colder than ever, and he was wearing a wedding band. Of course, it wasn't Rinoa that he was married to. Oh no, that couldn't have been possible because as soon as the war was finished, Rinoa was taken away by her father. Given all that Ultimecia had made her do, she was too broken to put up a struggle so she went with him, scared that she might do something worse now that she'd tasted power. The last time that Squall had seen her, he'd supervised her being placed in Adel's tomb. It had broken his heart completely.
He looked up a moment later, snapping out of his depressing thoughts when he saw his wife standing in front of him. "Quistis. What's up?" She sighed. "Squall, you've been here for over a week. Don't you think you should come back and get some rest?" Squall just stared at her coldly. "I have work to do!" She bit her lip. "I know. I know that it's important but, so's your health. You're no use to Garden if you have a nervous breakdown or you give yourself a heart attack!"
Squall just rolled his eyes. "Quistis, I'm only twenty five. I'm not going to have a heart attack." Yes, it was quite clear that theirs was not a bond of love but, rather one of convenience. Oh, Quistis had tried for a while, hating to see him so broken, cold and distant but she'd given that up as a bad idea, knowing in her heart that the only way he would show any interest in her was if she suddenly turned into Rinoa. She sighed and tried once more. "Laguna rang. He wants to come and see you." Squall snorted. "I'm busy, Quistis. Tell him I'll ring him when I get some time." Quistis sighed. You ALWAYS say that. "Fine." She set some food in front of him. "Eat that. I'll see you later."
After she left, Squall stared disinterestedly at the food. He eventually managed to eat a few mouthfuls but then pushed it aside. It all just tasted like cardboard in his mouth these days. .. He sighed and got back to work.
Time passed quickly. The more time that Squall spent in his office, the more time Quistis seemed to spend with Laguna. Of course at first, it was purely because Laguna hoped that if he showed up, his son would make the time for him but, as time went on and he never did, Laguna found himself making the trip to spend time with Quistis – not that he would or could admit it! But it was becoming more and more obvious to the people around them that Quistis and Laguna are in love. So much so that even Squall noticed the change in his wife. How one minute she seemed to be walking on air, the next minute she seemed almost…suicidal. It was the guilt of course, she felt guilty for her feelings for Squall's father but, she couldn't will them away.
Squall realised that they were in love on a rare day when he actually joined them. Not by the looks that they were giving each other or by how much they touched each other but, rather because they avoided one another's gaze and touch as much as possible. Part of him wanted to be generous and let her go, to free her from her obligation to him and let him be happy but he was too scared – scared of being alone because he knew in his heart of hearts that when Rinoa left, she took his heart with him and he didn't have any way to love anyone else. If he let her go, he would be by himself. He couldn't do it. It was too frightening.
About a month later, Seifer showed up. He wanted to come back to Garden. Squall frowned. Thought about it for all of half a minute. "You can come back Seifer but there's a condition: You'll be under Zell's care. You have to do whatever he says. Is that understood?" Seifer nodded. "Yeah. I'll do whatever it takes." Squall sighed and proved that he wasn't as unobservant as a lot of people said. "Seifer, maybe if you stop being so defensive, he'll love you back. Why not give it a try, hmm?" Seifer stared up at him for a moment totally speechless. "S-sure. Maybe I'll try that." Squall sent him to get a uniform and other essential items while he talked to Zell. Within ten minutes, Zell had grudgingly accepted. Within a month, Zell and Seifer were a couple – at least someone got to be happy!
Well, this is even more depressing that I expected it to be! The only good thing so far is that Seifer and Zell are together. How horrible to think that I would keep two people in love apart simply so I wouldn't be alone. Could I really have been that evil? Meh, no telling. I know that Rinoa makes me a better person. Don't ever want to be without her. He lifted her hand up to his lips. "I love you so much Rinoa."
Wow, I do make a difference to his life. And what a difference! Poor Squall. Poor Quistis and Laguna too.
Thank God for Leonhart – not that I'm saying that any of the rest of it was anywhere near good or even acceptable but, at least he got Zell and I together. That's the only good thing out of all the misery.
----------Zell and Selphie's P.O.V.----------
Ooh Seifer and Zell kissing. (A/N: XDXD)
----------No P.O.V. - General----------
Kyzel looked at Squall. "So, was this what you expected?" Squall shrugged. "It's miserable. Totally bleak for everyone apart for Zell and Seifer…yeah, I kinda expected it. Kyzel nodded. "Well, it's nearly over now of course…" He turned his gaze back to the screen.
Time was passing quickly before their eyes. Kyzel must have speeded the film up. Not that it mattered. The events were still clear. Squall worked harder and harder, ate and talked less and pined for Rinoa, Laguna and Quistis pined for each other and felt guilty so they too were eating and talking as little as Squall. Only in each other's company could they relax. And then only for a short while before the guilt set in. It was heartbreaking to watch. Squall cast a glance at his father and Quistis, noting them clinging to each other, grateful that in this world there were no such obstacles and it made him smile as he nuzzled against Rinoa.
Squall was pissed off. He'd had a bad day and he badly wanted to hurt someone or at the very least something. That was the worst thing about being Commander – he never got the chance to leave Garden to kill things. And that was such a shame really because anger was the only emotion that he had left and oh he could use it well.
He tried burying himself in paperwork once more but, it didn't help. He sighed and decided that he'd go out. They were on the island closest to hell. There was bound to be something suitable to help him alleviate his anger, right?
He headed out without telling anyone where he was going. By the time Quistis and Zell found him, it was too late. He'd been killed by three blue dragons. They'd caught him unawares. They managed to scare the monsters off but it was too late for the Commander. He was dead.
Zell carried his broken body back to Garden as Quistis used Diablos's protective bubble caused by the Encounter None ability to get them back safely. Garden mourned the loss of a Commander. Few mourned the loss of a friend though. Squall had let so few people in that only the Orphanage Gang and Laguna mourned him as more than a Commander.
Laguna sighed and looked at Ellone. He admitted to her after his third glass of whiskey that he would mourn Squall mostly for the POTENTIAL he had to be his son. Of course, that only makes him feel guilty but, he never really had the chance to get to know him. Squall never let him in. .. TT "I'm an atrocious father, aren't I?" Ellone sighed. "Laguna no. You did your best. We all know that. You left in the first place to do what you had to do. You didn't know about Squall…by the time you did, he was already shut off. It's heartbreaking though. I remember him when I was in the orphanage with him and, he was so sweet…but no. You're not a bad father." Laguna just sighed and took another drink of his whiskey.
While he was quiet though, his thoughts weren't. He thought of Quistis, wished desperately that things were different – there was no way that he could ever be with her now. It would be in bad taste to profess your love to your son's widow, right? And that was just one more reason why he was a bad father…how could he even be THINKING about this when his son was only just into his grave?
Laguna is lying on his bed, his eyes closed, every breath is obviously an effort. He frowns as he hears someone come into the room. "Ellone…tell Quistis…I loved her…" With those last words, Laguna's life on earth ended.
----------Less than a month later----------
Quistis felt old and broken and so, so tired of life. She tidied up her desk for the last time. Then pulled out a gun and checked. Only one bullet but, that was more than enough for her task…she stood up and walked out, closing the door behind her…
Kyzel switched the film off. "Well, I don't know about you all but, I don't think I want to watch any more of that." Quistis smiled gratefully at him if not a little weakly. "Thanks. Definitely don't."
Rinoa blinked. "So you're telling me that, if Squall hadn't come for me, Seifer would have gone on a rampage – no offence Seifer – I would have been used and discarded by Ultimecia before being sealed away…Squall would marry Quistis and in doing so have ruined not just his life but Quistis's and Laguna's too?" She sighed and looked at Squall. "Sorry, that came out wrong." Squall just shrugged. "Nah, that's basically what we saw happening. Don't worry about it love."
Seifer spoke up then. "Well, I think I speak for everyone here when I say thanks for not choosing that reality, Squall." He clung tightly to Zell's hand but relaxed at last now that the movie was over.
Squall smiled. "No problem. Definitely wouldn't want that life, thanks. I'm more than happy with this one." Rinoa smiled and leaned up to kiss him. "Me too."
Kyzel smiled happily. "Well, I think after that, you should all take a break. It was pretty intense. Go eat. I'll see you here lunch."
They all nodded and filed out, talking amongst themselves.