|The Bloodcross Key: Arc 1: Shattered Knight
by Lady Tempest
In the distance, a billowing column of gray dust and smoke rose to the dusk blue sky. Tiny dark shapes scurried over the barren hills like ants, escaping the destruction an unknown force of three, quite literally, had called upon the once ruin turned house of carnality turned ruin once again. However, considering the level of fury of the guardian elemental, incited by it's master, the hailstorm of fiery and molten rock was so devastating, the area would likely never recover to become anything again. Deep blackened craters pocked the once green cluster of hills, dirt and stone and metal, charred black, and strewn in chaotic clumps along the landscape.
While Raijin drove the SeeD transport back to Garden, Squall turned from the window, the bite of smoke a satisfying sting in his eyes. The destruction he had sworn to bring upon those who had hurt Seifer grew ever distant behind them. He stared down at the broken young man curled in a corner of the vehicle's sprawling backseat. The blond trembled, restless, as if even in his sleep he found no freedom from all he had suffered.
All Squall needed was that one glimpse to eliminate any regret he might have had for obliterating the structure to so much dust. And he damn sure found no regret in the death of the 'Palace's' owner, a disgusting man who made the convenient mistake of not only summoning some sort of creature to fight him, but pulling a pistol too and almost shooting Seifer. Very convenient, saving him the moral dilemma of what to do with him.
Seifer shuddered, a faint moan muffled by the vinyl seat. Squall desperately wanted to comfort the shattered boy who had been his rival, but he didn't know how. Too many years of holding his feelings back left him woefully ignorant. A faint image flashed in his mind of a little, adorable blond boy, sleeping much more peacefully, though still troubled, his tiny arms wrapped tightly around a faded-yellow, stuffed chocobo, tattered and mottled with mending stitches, but still loved even with all it's scars.
Squall fought back a slight, mournful smile. Seifer seemed to have a strange and stubborn attraction to flawed and broken things. But then, maybe he did too.
Sliding across the seat, with a creak of leather against vinyl, he reached a hesitant hand to brush back a stray curl of golden hair. Seifer always had at least one, defiant and falling against his forehead. Squall had usually found it amusing that the head of the Disciplinary Committee couldn't even completely discipline his own hair. And such beautiful hair too, like the rest of him, though he had always thought Seifer would be beyond absolutely breathtaking if he let it grow longer...
Squall shook himself, snatching back his hand. He shouldn't be thinking about Seifer that way. And especially not now. Not that there was a time he should have such thoughts. No matter what Fujin had said about Seifer's feelings, she, he, couldn't have meant that sort of love. Seifer may have become unwittingly an essential part of his life, but it had to be like one would feel for a brother. It had to be...
However, regardless of what he should or shouldn't have been thinking, the whimper that fell from Seifer's lips chased it all away. His hands flew to the blond without thought and he drew Seifer into his arms and held him, much like a smaller, yet just as vulnerable, Seifer had held a treasured stuffed chocobo so many years ago.
The warmth of their bodies enveloped him, bringing him a comfort he sought to give Seifer and had not even known he needed himself. The even puffs of soft, warm breath against his throat soothed him to nearly the point of tears. Tears he would have dismissed as the smoke still stinging his watery eyes had he not been pulled into his own world where nothing existed but him and the beautiful blond rival nestled against his chest. A world where he was oblivious to a single scarlet eye watching him with a gentle, approving smile.
"You're safe now, Seifer," he whispered, knowing that the blond still lingered under the effects of Sleep. "No one's going to hurt you anymore. I'll make sure of it."
(End of Shattered Knight)
Author's Notes: I've waited until the end to make any comments on the new chapters. I felt it would break the mood and flow otherwise. It's amazing how freeing writing the new sections has been... well, finishing them. I wanted to go on after completing Arc 2 and write my other FF8 fics, but I felt like something was left unfinished, that if I didn't make the revisions to Arc 1 I would never feel closure for the story up to the end of Arc 2. I was right and I feel free now. Ahhh!!
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed the changes and that the flow of the story was consistent with the earlier chapters. That was one of my main concerns with the additions. I also had not intended the missing scenes to be so long, but I feel much better now about how the story's gone than I did before. I think in some ways it was better that I had to come back and add the scenes later, after completing Arc 2, because it allowed me to include hints and foreshadowing and little nuances that fit with Reversals that I would never have known to include if I had written the scenes before Arc 2. For instance, the Ogre is a mix of many things that could only exist by writing it now and not then. It's a vague reference to a creature in FFX, plus I left implications of its role in Seifer's 'punishment' that reference what Squall discovers in the beginning of Arc 2. Sick, yes. But I thought it added that extra level of revulsion and awareness of what Seifer has suffered that helps explain why and how completely broken he is.
And if anyone noticed, I also reference the opening duel of the game and Seifer's 'cheating' plus his later response to Squall's accusation. It's slight, but it's there. I really like including such references to things in the game, especially when they're not obvious but still important in their way.
Well, I've babbled enough, but I did have alot saved up grin>. Hope it was a pleasure. It was a pleasure to write and share with you all. (at least now that it's finished and I can appreciate all the hard work I put into it)
The Bloodcross Key isn't finished with 'Shattered Knight'. It continues in Arc 2: Reversals (which is also complete) and eventually in Arc 3 (yet to be written). Although it is to be an ongoing series, it can be read as completed with the end of Arc 2. I have more story to tell, but many of the major issues are at least dealt with if not resolved in Reversals. You can find it on my website or on Fanfiction.net.
Thanks to all who have supported this story and me with their kind and
generous feedback. All of you, whether through FF.net, the FF8Yaoi ml,
or personal email. I especially appreciate those who took the extra time
to detail what they liked and what they felt worked, and sometimes what
didn't. Good and bad, it's all helpful to me, and I thank you!