Chapter 1 – Lady and the Tramp

Fujin walked calmly along the docks of Fisherman's Horizon. It was later in the day; Seifer and Rajin had gone off together after seeing Balamb fly by earlier. Her thoughts bounded momentarily to the people of Balmab Garden. She wondered if they were okay. What were their plans for the future? She found herself longing to walk the halls again and to finish her SeeD training. Sighing to herself, she knew that more than likely impossible. She was sure that there would be a tremendous amount of hatred and animosity from everyone upon her return. Even if they knew the truth, I doubt anyone would listen. Shaking her head in attempt to clear it of those depressing thoughts, she began her silent trek home.

About a block away from the apartment she shared with her brother and Seifer, she heard a faint cry and whimper coming from a nearby alley. Blinking once in confusion, she quickly stalked toward the alley, prepared to help the possibly injured party. Peering intensely into the dimly lit alley, she noted the absence of any people or any signs of a struggle. Satisfied with her brief search, she turned to leave, when she heard the cry again. Whirling around she took a few steps forward, hoping to pinpoint where the sound was coming form, when her foot hit a soft lump on the ground. Backing up slightly, she gazed down at the object she inadvertently brushed. Lying on the ground was a small chocolate brown puppy shivering slightly. Her features relaxed slightly as she gazed at the small life form before her. "PUPPY" Bending down she quickly picked up the small animal and resumed her walk to the apartment.

Hoping that they were home, Fujin knocked twice on the door. The puppy whimpered twice to the sudden loud noise. Fujin gave the little one a quick pat on the head before coming face to face with her grinning brother.

"Welcome back!" He rushed to give her his patented bear hug, but she maneuvered quickly out the way. Raijin just gave a hearty laugh at her antics. Then he noticed the puppy nestled securely in her arms.

"OH! Where'd you get the little guy or girl?"

"FOUND IN ALLEY"

"Well, I'm glad you found him. The nights are cold here being by the water and all. Let's get him cleaned up and fed."

Fujin just nodded and followed him into the bathroom, to give the puppy a warm bath.

After being cared for the puppy was to Fujin and Raijin's pleasure was more slightly more alert and active. It was no longer lying around being unresponsive to the world. Raijin confirmed the puppy was in fact a boy, now it was just a matter of naming him.

The puppy moved around sluggishly, and had a tendency to trip over his own paws. Walking was quite a task for the little guy and Raijin found the small show hilarious.

Fujin looked on fairly amused and a bit concerned, but one couldn't tell by the impassive look on her face. She briefly wondered how Seifer would react to their latest houseguest.


Back at Balamb Garden, the residents were experiencing a wealth of chaotic emotions. The terrible war with the Sorceress was over yet there were casualties. The feeling of relief and jubilation were cut short and ultimately felt foreign to them, for guilt and grief were present in the hearts of many. The Orphanage Gang were understandably more distraught than others over the lost of their friend and brother Squall. It had been a little over three days, since they defeated one nightmare only to wake up to a new one. They had all undergone some varying degrees of shock and it was time for the healing process to begin.

Headmaster Cid sat in his office doing the necessary paper work. His thoughts drifted to that to the SeeDs, he thought of as his own children. Oh how I wish they didn't have to suffer through two Sorceress wars in one lifetime. To lose their parents in one and a brother in the second is tragic. I can't let them be eaten alive with guilt and grief. He quickly picked up his office phone and dialed Laguna Loire, hoping to be able to get in touch with the eccentric president of Esthar.

While waiting to be patched through, after getting the run around he briefly thought of having the Orphanage Gang stay in Gardena and see Doctor Kawalski, who doubled as a psychiatrist. Shaking his head, he knew that it wouldn't be enough. The Kids needed to get away for a while and Esthar would be the perfect place to do it. With his decision resolved, he continued to patiently wait to talk to Laguna.

"Hello, Cid?"

"Yes Laguna, it's me."

"How are you and the kids? Good job on defeating the Sorceress."

Cid waited as he babbled on, not quite listening to what was being said. When he heard the man take a breath he quickly intervened.

"You see Laguna that's what I wanted to talk to you about. The Kids are understandably stressed and saddened by the war. I was hoping we could arrange for them to visit Esthar and relax and take the time needed to heal."

Laguna was uncharacteristically quite for a few moments. "Something happened didn't it."

Cid knew it was more of a statement than a question, he could hear the unmistakable hard edge to the President's voice. Before he could say anything in reply, Laguna began again.

"Sure Cid, the Kids can come to Esthar, I'll set them up right here in the Palace. They're practically heroes. But don't worry about the media hounding them, I'll keep it under wraps."

"Thank you Mr. President."

"Cid, you don't have to be so formal. Just tell me when I should expect them and I'll send a transport."

"In two days."

"Okay. It'll be there around Noon."

"Laguna, about what's going on"

"Save it, I'll find out when they arrive."

With that the line went dead. Hanging up the phone, Cid called everyone to his office to tell them the news.


Seifer walked along the quiet streets of FH, carrying a bag of groceries and some Kiesh pie for dinner. It's a good thing the fish Fujin caught is a delicacy around here, or I'm not sure I would have had enough to get this.

Arriving at the door he knocked twice in rapid succession and came face to face with Raijin. They chatted idly while they put the groceries away. He quickly looked around the apartment. The living room that was divided by the kitchen was empty. A quick trek down the short hallway revealed the bathroom to be empty as well as the room he and Raijin shared. He knocked on Fujin's closed door.

"ENTER"

He walked into the doorway and found her sitting on the bed holding something.

"Hey Fu, dinner's ready."

She just nodded before standing up and pushing the puppy in Seifer's face.

"I see you found a little friend."

The puppy yawned cutely from its brief nap and looked lazily at Seifer, which it regarded with a soft growl. Ignoring the warning, he reached out a hand to pet the little guy, when he felt small teeth sink into his hand.

"OUCH! That little devil bit me."

"DESERVED, SCARED"

"Oh come on Fujin, it's obviously from Cerberus. Look at its beady little gray eyes."

"EYES NOT BEADY"

With that she walked to the living room and sat down on the couch with a plate of food for her and the dog. Raijin sat to her right, all ready halfway done. Seifer came in afterward wearing a cute little Moomba Band-Aid on his finger. He turned to the puppy that was happily eating.

"You're lucky runt that you didn't break skin or you would have been out of here."

Fujin looked up at Seifer with a chilling gaze in her eye.

Suddenly it felt a few degrees colder in the room. Raijin decided to break the silence by asking Fujin what she was going to name him.

"CLAUDE"

Seifer was about to reply with some sarcastic remark, but another look from Fujin made it die on his tongue.

"That's a good name, ya know?"

Later that night, Fujin and Raijin made a bed for little Claude or Claudie as Raijin liked to call him, out of a cardboard box and some blankets. Fujin carried the small box into her sparse bedroom and laid it next to her bed. Taking a small clock, she wrapped it in the blankets and put it next to the puppy. She remembered her mother telling her, that the ticking reminded the puppy of its mother heartbeat. Looking around the room skeptically, she finally relaxed and allowed a small smile to grace her lips, which quickly turned into a scowl of annoyance. She didn't quite like the strange feeling of elation, and joy at owning the puppy. She preferred to remain aloft and the puppy wasn't helping. I'm just tired that's all, after a good night's rest I'll be back to my usual self. Whispering a brief goodnight and rolled over and went to sleep. Soon after, the soft sound of Claude's breathing was heard.

Squall was thoroughly confused. He felt as if he was dreaming but conscious at the same time. It was as if someone had scrambled his brains with an Ultima and Pain spell. Images and thoughts were jumbled, like incoherent ramblings that tried to pass for the norm. The after effects of Time Compression were slowly wearing off, but he was still heavily affected by it. His memories were little to no help, because they weren't in order. One minute he was playing with the others on the beach with Edea watching over them. The next minute Seifer was sneering at him his eyes devoid any emotions except for overwhelming hatred, as he pulled a switch and sent thousand of bolts of electricity through his body. That last particular memory was enough to wake him from that strange state of being.

With a scream he launched himself into wakefulness. Panting heavily, he looked around wildly. His eyes had yet to focus on his surroundings. He was barely aware of being carried. Then he heard slight shushing noises. Shortly there after, he was able to make out a form in front of him. Looking up he came face to face with Fujin, her scarlet gaze locked upon him. It was too much for him and he quickly passed out once more.

Fujin was worried. Claudie woke up barking in his sleep. She tried to soothe him only to have him go limp in her arms as she held him. Checking his breathing, she noted that it was even. Torn between going back to sleep or taking him to a vet, she decided to watch him for a bit. She hoped the little guy was all right. She laid him gently on her pillow to rest, as she kept a silent vigil over him.