DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters, names, places in this story and one scene involving Laguna and Julia in the Galbadian Hotel. Everything owned by Squaresoft apart from the actual concept of this fic which is done by me, all me.

Author's note: This is your typical clich├ęd Squall/Rinoa/Quistis/Seifer love fic and I thought I should just give you a warning first although it does get fairly interesting at times. Anyway, I'm sorry, LOL (whatever that means).

FATED CIRCLE
BY BLACK EMPEROR
(c) 2001


It was another quiet night in Galbadia, it was deadly silent and the buildings were sleeping peacefully. The Inn was quiet as well, not much business at this time of year around autumn so Squall and Rinoa thought it would be a perfect opportunity to spend their honeymoon there away from all the hassle of fighting sorceress' and settling rivalries; that was the last thing they wanted.

The door opened in room 217 and Squall walked in carrying Rinoa in his arms. He shut the door and made his way over to the bed where he laid Rinoa down and climbed on to the bed next to her.

"This is going to be the beginning of a long and happy future," Rinoa said, smiling, gazing into his eyes.

Squall took his time in responding, only continued to stare back at Rinoa. "Yeah," he said. "It sure is."

"Thank you, Squall. I'm glad it turned out like this."

"Me, too."

They kissed and turned out the lights.

********************************************************************************


Cid switched on the lights in his office and walked inside. It was still the same, nothing had changed: his desk was parked right by the window so he could admire the view, his wife's office next door, elevator straight down the hall, always neat and tidy, not a thing out of place. Only something was different, something didn't feel the same. He looked on the wall and saw the special plaque he had put on the wall that read: 'We as SeeDs must stand proud and tall for it is our duty to kill the sorceress and protect the world from danger'.

He took it off the wall for a moment and held it in his hands. He rubbed his glasses clean against his old red jumper, same one since the Garden started and looked at it again. It didn't have the same feel as it did when he first put it up all those years ago. He could remember that day exactly, every second of it, from all the people he met, to the clothes he was wearing, it was a special day in his life, it was a proud day, the day that he opened the Garden. Even though Cid's pride would be dampened with NORG demanding that the Garden was his, it never stopped Cid from believing in the Garden and believing that what he and his wife had set up was right. Until now.

He had gotten up early to make sure that he got to his office before Edea did. He didn't want her to see him in this state, he wanted to be alone, away from it all. The plaque that he held in his hands which he took so much pride in now felt like nothing, like vapours tossed into the atmosphere, never returning. Cid looked outside the window: the sun was just dawning over the horizon and the whole continent of Balamb was filled with new hope, for a new day had started. A new start, Cid thought, a change perhaps.

It had only been a week since they through that huge party for the home-coming SeeDs, it seemed like an eternity ago, the last time Cid and Edea smiled. Squall and Rinoa had gone off to Galbadia to get married, he was sure that they were going to live happily ever after and the others: Quistis, Selphie, Irvine, and Zell were all happily readjusting to their new lifestyles now that Ultimecia had been defeated. But for Cid, that was his one and only concern. He had no problem with retiring and living with his wife, Edea at the Garden for the rest of his life, but it didn't seem right, it seemed that all he had worked so hard for in life was over, his dream - over. That was his one and only concern.

Now that Ultimecia had been defeated there was no reason for the Garden, after all, it was only designed to defeat the sorceress and now that she had been defeated, the Garden's existence and his seemed pointless. He put the plaque down on the table and began to cry.

Cid heard a noise coming from the corridor, he quickly turned to see what was there.

"Who's there?" he asked, with a little hesitation.

There was no response.

Cid towards the door and moved very slowly as he backed up against the wall and poked his head round so he could see what was there. Nothing. Relief. Maybe I do need to retire, he thought, I'm getting way too stressed out here.

He turned back and saw a figure standing in front of him, he gasped.

"What are you doing up this early?"

Cid seemed surprised. It was his wife, Edea.

Cid tried to think of an answer, but the words stumbled out of his mouth: "I just wanted to see the sunrise."

Edea laughed. "Cid, darling, you haven't wanted to see the sunrise in years, why now? You said that you hated it and you thought that it was a boring waste of time and why would anyone waste their time watching the sunrise. That's what you told me. I remember it well, it was our wedding day."

"Well, I just wanted to see it okay. I just wanted a change from all the same, boring, repetitive things we do everyday, okay, Edea?"

Edea was stunned. His tone was quite angry, she had never seen him this angry before. He had always been compose even in the face of adversity and even against the likes of NORG and Ultimecia, he always kept his nerve and acted professionally as the headmaster of Balamb Garden, proud as always. But he looked and acted was quite different, his hair was a mess and he hadn't taken his red jumper off in a week. He stormed off leaving Edea looking into his office and seeing the plaque that he ripped off the wall lying on the table like a piece of garbage. Edea was concerned.

********************************************************************************


Irvine polished off his Exeter and twirled it around his finger. He looked around the cafeteria hoping that someone would be impressed. He looked to Quistis, Selphie, and even Zell, but they sat motionless at a table with their heads hanging low.

"I wonder when Squall's coming back," said Quistis.

"Yeah, I miss him, it's no fun without him," said Selphie.

"He won't be back for ages," said Zell. "He's off on his honeymoon with Rinoa. I wouldn't know why he would want to come back to this dump anyway."

"How can you say that?" Quistis asked, shocked. "This is your home, Zell, this is where you grew up."

"No way, man, my home's in Balamb Town with my Ma."

"Then why don't you just go back there, it would stop me having to listen to you complain all the time."

Irvine came over. "Guys, guys, there's no need to fight, we're through with that, remember?"

They all look disappointed and said: "Yeah,"

"We don't need violence at a time like this, what we need is love and friendship and harmony."

Irvine waited for a reaction, but none came. He waited for Selphie to start jumping up and down waving their arms around, screaming. But it never happened. Irvine then turned to Zell.

"Wanna hotdog, Zell, I know that'll cheer you up."

"No thanks,"

"You don't want a hotdog? Geez, what the hell is wrong with you? You're normally the first in line, jumping rearing to go. You hold the record for the ,most hotdogs eaten in an hour: 75, that's pretty impressive, man, and now all of a sudden, you're not even interested. What's with you, man?"

"Nothing, I'm just not hungry, okay?"

"Yeah," said Quistis. "We're just a little tired and stressed out. After all, it's only been a week since we defeated Ultimecia. We need some time to recuperate, but we'll be fine in a while."

"Well, let me know when you are because I'm getting a bit bored round here myself. Most of the girls have left or are on holiday, the pretty ones have anyway. So if you need me I'll be in the Quad, okay?"

"Okay,"

Irvine left the cafeteria and the others continued as they were before still staring into nothing.

The week had started off perfectly for SeeDs, the celebration and then the party, life couldn't get better. After a while though things started to change, Squall went off with Rinoa to Galbadia to get married and there was nothing left to do now at the Garden with their leader away and the sorceress dead.

Quistis tried to entertain herself on some days by thinking about Squall and thinking about what might have been, but she couldn't take that thought for long, it was eating away at her and had been for some time. She had to do something to take her mind off it.

Selphie's energy levels dramatically dropped over the course of the week and she ended up throwing her Strange Vision away. Zell, he just stood around all day punching air hoping one day to be a great leader like Squall. He wanted more out of his life, he wanted a new life, he wanted love. He was sick with Zell.

Irvine sat around in the Quad looking at the stage that he and Selphie had helped make. There hadn't been a band playing on it for ages. Irvine could imagine the music echoing throughout his head, it seemed so empty, it was 'Eyes on Me', it wasn't the same, but he couldn't get it out of his head. It was bugging him.

Edea came down to see Irvine. He noticed her walking down the steps, her trim figure walking smoothly down the steps, he raised an eyebrow. Irvine got up and took his hat off and bowed courtly.

"No, no, there's no need for that," Edea said, smiling.

"What do you want?"

"Have you seen, Cid?"

"No, not since yesterday, why?"

"He's been acting really strange lately and I don't know what it is."

"Yeah, everyone else has as well, I don't know what it is."

"Well thanks anyway, and if you see him, tell me, alright?"

"Will do,"

Edea turned around and left. Irvine watched as her cute behind wiggled from side to side as she walked. Irvine raised his eyebrow again, but his thoughts were quickly distracted by 'Eyes on Me' playing in his head over and over again. He clutched his head and ran out screaming.

********************************************************************************


Quistis and Zell made their way to the dormitory. It had been yet another long, tiring, boring day. Selphie had gone to bed much earlier than usual, but Zell and Quistis had decided to stay up late to see if anything interesting happened. It didn't. They couldn't even find Irvine or Headmaster Cid, it was like the whole place was deserted.

"Ah, the end of another day," said Zell stretching his arms outwards.

"You don't have to go to bed yet, you know, we could stay up a little longer."

"What would be the point? We'd just be doing the same things over and over again. Might as well go to sleep where at least I can dream of a better life."

Quistis sighed. "A better life, that's just what I need," she paused. "I can't believe it, Squall's only been gone a few days and already I'm out of my mind. I want something exciting to happen like monsters coming from outer space or an evil sorceress threatening to take over the world, I want that."

"Well you can always stick around for the next thousand years for the next Lunar Cry."

Quistis sighed again. "Maybe things'll be better in the morning."

"Yeah, maybe they will,"

"I wonder what Irvine is doing now,"

"Probably chasing after some girls, you know him."

"Yeah, but how can he be all high spirits when we feel completely useless. Even Selphie's been down-and-out lately."

"I dunno, I guess it's something in his genes or something."

Quistis laughed a little. "Yeah, maybe," a long pause, both too shy to speak. "It's really great of you to stay up with me tonight and I know how this has been bothering you as well."

"Oh, don't mention it, it was a pleasure after all the times you helped me when Seifer used to pick on me, it's a pleasure to help you."

"Thanks, Zell,"

Quistis hugged Zell tightly around the waist and then moved away.

"I better get some sleep," said Quistis. "It's no doubt going to be a long, boring day tomorrow. Hope Squall comes back."

"Yeah, me too,"

"Anyway, goodnight,"

"Goodnight,"

Zell watched Quistis make her away towards the dormitory and smiled to himself more out of frustration and anger than out of joy. He could see Irvine coming up towards him out of the corner of his eye. Zell wasn't in the mood to speak to him, but he couldn't just run away so he smiled and waved as Irvine came closer.

"Hiya, how ya doing?" Irvine asked.

"Same as usual,"

"Where's Selphie?"

"She went to bed hours ago, it's probably best if you leave her."

"Alright," a long pause ensued between the two. "What's with you, what's with everyone?"

"I dunno, it's just everything I guess. I mean, what's the point?"

"What do you mean, 'what's the point'?

"What's the point of this?" said Zell throwing his arms around in the air. "What's the point of life?"

Irvine chuckled to himself. "You're asking me what the point of life is?" he laughed again. "I'm probably not the best person to ask, why don't you ask Squall, he thinks about these things all the time."

"He's not here,"

"Oh yeah, well, if you ask me, the meaning of life is just to have fun, have a laugh, play with some guns and go looking for pretty girls."

"Is that it? There must be more to it than that, there must be."

Irvine looked at Zell, concerned. He could see big black rings underneath his eyes.
"Geez, man, looks like you need some sleep."

"Yeah, I know, but I can't be bothered, sleep gets me thinking too much."

"You're not going to turn out like Squall, are you?"

"I would like to think so."

********************************************************************************


A boat pulled up on the shores of Balamb Harbour. Squall got out, the sun light blinding him momentarily. He put his hand in front of his eyes to shield them and turned back towards the boat; it was a glorious day.

He smiled as he saw Rinoa standing in the doorway. He extended a hand to Rinoa which she held gratefully to help her climb ashore. They held hands like a happily married couple and made their way up into the town.

"This is going to be a great surprise," said Squall.

"Yeah," Rinoa said. "They're not expecting us back for a week, this is gonna be so much fun to see the looks on their faces."

"I wonder what they've been doing with themselves."

"Probably something boring, nothing compared to us."

They both laughed and Squall wrapped his arms around Rinoa and laid his head down on his shoulders as he continued to laugh.

"Seriously though," he said. "They probably haven't even noticed that we've been gone."

"Ya think?"

"Yeah, why would they? They've got plenty to do at the Garden. They don't need me to run the place."

They walked up the path leading out of Balamb Town and towards Balamb Garden together. They then stood at the front gate and looked up at the grand building.

"Home sweet home," said Squall.

"I suppose you're going to give me a piggy back again."

"I gave you one last week, carried you half way around the world. Anyway, my back's sore after that, I need a little break."

"Come on, I'm your wife and you're supposed to carry me over the threshold."
Squall sighed. "Uh, alright, then."

Squall then scooped Rinoa up off her feet. She clung tightly onto his neck, kissing him softly as he carried her inside the Garden.

By the entrance, Cid was sitting all alone on one of the turnstiles. He could hear laughter coming from the entrance so he turned his head to see what was going on. To his surprise he saw Squall with a huge smile on his face carrying Rinoa in his arms. Cid checked his glasses to make sure he wasn't seeing things, he wasn't, it was Squall, he was back.

Cid jumped off the turnstile and went to greet him. Squall then saw Cid and was also surprised, he expected him to be in his office working away.

"What are you doing back so soon?" Cid asked.

"We wanted to surprise you," said Squall.

"Yeah, we thought we would come and see the old gang again," Rinoa said.
"Well that's very kind of you, Miss Heartilly,"

"That's Mrs Leonhart now,"

Cid laughed a little and cleaned his glasses again. "Oh yes, of course. So I suppose you want me to get out of your way. You don't want an old fool like me to get in the way of young love."

Squall flickered a smile thinking he was joking. Squall then continued round the hallway with Rinoa in his arms until they reached the dormitory. They kissed again when Quistis came out with Zell. They were more than a little surprised.

"Squall? Rinoa?" exclaimed Quistis. "You're back!"

"Yep, we thought we'd come back early and surprise you."

"How was the honeymoon?"

"It was great, Galbadia's a great place now that Edea, I mean, Ultimecia's no longer in charge."

"How's life been here?" Rinoa asked.

"Pretty good," said Quistis, trying to hide what she really meant. "It's been pretty good. Of course, it hasn't been the same without you."

"Yeah, man," said Zell. "We've missed ya loads."

"Thanks, Zell," said Squall. "We really appreciate that."

Irvine and Selphie then came running along the hallway spotting Squall and Rinoa. Selphie had a bit more life in her than she did the previous day. Squall was happy to see them, but also looked down at Rinoa in some annoyance. It seems that everyone's intent on ruining our moment, he thought. He then put Rinoa down and held his back.

"Geez, you've been gone way too long," Irvine said.

"Well, we tried to get back as fast as we could but Galbadia's such an exciting city and Rinoa's father's there and everything. It's like one big party 24/7."

The others stared down at the floor. "Yeah, great, must've been a ball,"

"Yeah, it was. There were firework displays and parades, the hotel was great and it brought back a lot of good memories as well."

"I suppose that's all we've got to go on now," said Quistis.

"What?"

"Nothing, it just seems like now that all those things we did are just memories."

"Well of course they are, they're in the past, they're done. There's no point dwelling on them otherwise you're never going to live a happy life. Rinoa taught me that the only way to lead a happy life is to live life without regret and that's what you've gotta do. Sure they were memories and they were good memories but there'll be more in the future and in the present."

"I suppose so," she didn't know what to make of Squall's statement, it seemed to make her mind go round in circles even more. Zell's was the same for without those memories he would have nothing to hold on to, but also with them only being memories, he had nothing to reach for.

Rinoa was a little upset. She had expected a huge welcoming party for them, or at least a great big hello and congratulations on your marriage, but nothing. The mood had changed, or was about to change. Rinoa put her arm around Squall's waist and held tightly and Squall put his arms around her shoulder. Rinoa leaned against Squall hoping for comfort and security away from the harsh, cold stares from her friends. She didn't like it, she didn't like it at all.

Quistis closed her eyes for a moment and drifted away. She imagined she was in the Galbadian Hotel with Laguna and Julia. Laguna was looking nervous as Julia turned away from the window.

"You saw me?" he asked.

"You were always smiling while listening, right? You have beautiful eyes. Though they look a bit scared now. Don't worry, I'm not going to pluck them out and eat them. I just want to talk, gazing into those eyes. Would you like a drink? Wine perhaps?"

Quistis felt good inside, it brought her strength and a tingle moved up her spine as she twitched nervously.

"Quistis? Quistis?"

She suddenly opened her eyes.

"What? What's going on?" she asked.

"Are you okay?" asked Squall.

"Yeah, I'm fine, I'm just a bit tired, that's all."

"I suppose you want us to leave you alone so you two can go to the dormitory and do you know what," Irvine said.

Squall sighed. Finally, he thought, it's about time.

Squall was about to sweep Rinoa off her feet again when Cid came round rummaging through his papers as he walked. Cid didn't look his normal self, he looked more stressed out than ever. Squall thought this was strange, Cid had always been a cool, composed person, but now, he seemed to be all over the place. Cid dropped some of his papers but didn't bother picking them up. His glasses were on sideways, he fixed them and cleaned them on his jumper, now in tatters.

"What's wrong?" asked Squall.

"I've got some bad news,"

"What is it?"

"It's about the Garden. You all remember when you first joined the sacred vow in which you all took, excluding you Rinoa and Irvine, of course."

"Well, yeah," said Squall. "Our duty is to protect, to serve and to defeat the sorceress, right?"

"Exactly, but now you see the sorceress has been defeated and now that NORG is dead there isn't enough financial support or any reason to keep this place open. So I've decided to shut the place down."

"What?"

"I know it's going to be hard for all of us and know it's going too have to be an adjustment, but I guess it's the dawning of a new era and we should throw the old guard down in place of something new and more exciting."

"What are we going to do?" Selphie asked.

"Have you consulted it with your wife?" asked Irvine.

"Not exactly," said Headmaster Cid. "I don't think she would understand since we both have different ideas of what a SeeD really is. But I assure you that this is not the end, merely the beginning, the beginning to an even greater adventure. There is just simply no reason for the Garden to stay, it's just wasting space that something better could be put in its place like a giant amusement park. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I'm afraid that's how life goes some times and you young SeeDs will learn someday how life is like that and how destiny stops, but life doesn't stop. One thing you must take forward is that you must think of this as a positive step forward. Don't think about it as you're leaving the place you grew up in, think about it as a new start, a new start in life. Goodbye everyone and good luck."

Cid then left and went back up to his office leaving everyone stunned, they couldn't believe it.

"What the hell was that?" Zell asked.

"Things just go from bad to worse, don't they?" said Quistis.

Squall and Rinoa looked at each other, worried. They had just got married, they needed security at a time like this, now they were out on their own, where were they to go.

"We could go to Timber for a while," said Rinoa. "I'm sure Zone and Watts will let us stay at their place for a while."

"That's a great idea."

********************************************************************************


They all met at the front gate. It wasn't how they thought it was going to end. After they had defeated the sorceress they expected to go home and live happily ever after but that was not to be.

They all had their bags packed ready to go. They couldn't believe it, it had all happened so fast. They all turned back to each other, not knowing whether to burst out laughing or crying. Quistis moved closer first and gave Squall a hug.

"I'll miss you, Squall, I don't know what I'm going to do without you, without any of you guys. You've kept me sane all these weeks."

"Don't worry," said Squall. "I'm sure that we'll see each other again one day."

They all then hugged while crying, looked back at the Garden, picked up their bags and headed their separate ways. In his office, Cid was looking out of the window at them. He was waving to them, but they never saw him. He then took the special plaque off the table and looked at it again. Edea came in the room to check if he was alright. He wasn't.

Edea tried to hug Cid but he pushed her away and threw the plaque on the ground and started stamping on it in a violent rage. The spiralling halo that was above the Garden then stopped as Balamb Garden emptied out.

Cid liked to go round the empty hallways at night and remember the old place and sometimes he would like to lay in bed and just cry. He looked out of the window and saw Squall, Rinoa, Quistis, Zell, Irvine, and Selphie make their way towards Balamb Town. It was a sad sight. His hopes and dreams for SeeD were over as he saw the boat pull away from the harbour and head towards Galbadia.

He turned back to his wife who smiled.