Dear Reader,

Okay… This is the beginning of a fanfiction explosion… I've decided to do my Through the Looking Glass Saga and one big fanfiction… That means the other two fanfics that are a part of the TTLGS will be taken down and smooshed once I reach their part in the story. Right now this is just the beginning. A beginning.

A list of inspiration that pretty much wrote this fanfic for me…

FF 7 CC, AC, 8, 9, 10, 10-2 & 13 Take Me Away by Hoshi-sama Valmor

Next Gen Trailer by SeiferChimera

Final Fantasy Globus

I do not own

Take Me Away by Globus

Preliator by Globus

Devil May Cry 3 and 4

Final Fantasy VII and all of its sequels, prequels and spin-offs

Final Fantasy VIII

Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy X and X-2 which I really need to finish.

Kingdom Hearts and all of its sequels, prequels and spin-offs

This fanfiction is also being written along side EverFire1's fanfiction "Baptism of Tears". Once we get talking fanfiction starts being written and we are actually inspiring each other. Read it if it's posted, wait impatiently for it if it's not… I highly recommend!

Thank you to all of my friends for being my inspiration. To my BoD fans… I'm working on it… Sorry…

If there is any confusion don't hesitate to PM me... I'll be revising as I go...

Stay safe

Stay healthy


Starr Bryte


A clock ticked merrily away from its place on the desk. The second hand never halting on its endless journey. It was one of the things she loved, and hated, about time. It never ended. Always. Always. Somewhere, something was happening to someone sometime. It was what she hated, and loved, about time...

"Are you listening to me?" A voice asked, almost sharply, and she snapped back to attention before giving her guest a weak smile.

"Sorry… My apologies…" She murmured, "It's just that most of what you're saying is hard for me to swallow… If you weren't sitting right across this desk from me I never would've believed it…"

"Indeed…" The black clad woman sniffed in a near haughty manner. Then her face grew serious and she folded her long nailed hands primly into her lap, "Yet the fact that you have acknowledged me, noticed me at all, and have listened to all I've had to say tells me all I need to know. You are the one. My strength is nearing its end and it's now your turn. What will you choose to do? They are coming. They are already here. It is only through my repentance-no…" She smiled cruelly, "My punishment that I am able to do this. The clock is ticking." She laughed humorlessly, "But that is nothing compared to we with the power of time and space…" Indeed the clock that sat on her desk ticked merrily away and would do so for hours more. The second hand never stopping on its endless journey, the only time still allowed to move. A bird outside the window, beautiful in flight, had hung there in the sky and would remain suspended for hours more. And if she looked further out the window she would see students on their way to class, talking and laughing and cramming and running and walking and holding hands and none of them were moving. Stilled in that one moment. 9:26:04 read the digital on the wall. 9:26:04 since she had walked into her office at 9:26:01 and the woman standing before the window had snapped her fingers and stopped time. She had listened, for to not was stupidity. Now, three hours later she folded her hands on the desk and felt the weight of a swiftly tilting planet crumble upon her shoulders.

"Is there no hope?" She whispered, balancing her head on her fingers, "No matter what we do?"

"NO." The reply was firm and matter of fact, "If this were an every day occurrence, perhaps. If this were an every century occurrence, maybe. But this is bigger than anyone." She leaned back and sighed, "My time is long over. It was only through she-who-was-left-behind that I was even able to do this much. Outside of this planet's gravitational field things are swiftly falling out of control. Both Time and Space have been warped. Three days forward and three days back, not counting today. You have six days to make your choice." Slowly she stood and smoothed her hands down her dress in an idle gesture, though her eyes were intense, "I will await your decision." A small, crooked smile, "If I were you I would view this as a grandly selfish opportunity. It is not everyday that one is give the chance to be revered as a goddess…" With that she snapped her fingers. The clock on her desk stilled and the silence was more than deafening. A shuddering halt to the world, as if the hearts of the planet had skipped a beat all at once. When she blinked the world took a breath and the sheer sound of existence almost deafened her all over again.

The door opened and he stepped through with the day's attendance tucked under one arm and her mug of coffee in the other.

"Sorry I'm late…" He said, setting the cup in front to her, "The first years were squabbling. I sent Disciplinary to take care of it but-" He stopped when he saw her expression, "Rinoa?" She blinked and looked up at him, testing out a wavery half-smile and failing.

"Nothing…" She whispered, reaching out for the files, "Nothing at all…" She carefully sat back down, realizing for the first time just how fragile her world truly was.

The clock ticked merrily away from its place on the desk. The second hand never halting on its endless journey. It was one of the things she loved, and hated, about time. It never ended. Always. Always. Somewhere, something was happening to someone sometime. It was what she hated, and loved, about time...


How could she ever go back after a revelation like that? How could she ever think it? But even given what she had been told and what she had accepted to be the truth… Revered as a Goddess? Her? Sure she had power. She'd always know that. But to twist and change the existence of the world? To corrupt and meddle with time itself? To gain the control to change areas and experiences to her liking simply through messing with time there? Inconceivable. Insane. She just couldn't wrap her mind around it. And the darkness that she had been told of. The encroaching evil that was sneaking in through the cracks of the world. Something not even Chaos would have expected. A true evil. One that snuffed out all light. She had never been much of a star gazer but the night was beautiful and chill. The air so clear that it almost hurt to breath. Each star twinkled and sparkled like a diamond on display. How long, she wondered, would it take for this sky to empty if nothing was done? If she just ignored the warning and lived in ignorance? As if in answer a star stuttered like a candle flame before blinking out of existence. She gasped and shuddered. Five days. Five days to decide if she was truly strong enough to change the course of the universe.

Warm arms wrapped around her and a warmer body pressed itself against her back. She sighed and leaned into his embrace. He smelled of leather and gunpowder and sweat. The scent of safety to her suddenly tired mind.

"Sparring again?" She asked, amused, "One of these days you're going to do more than give each other facial scars." An uncaring shrug was her answer and sound of a slow breath as he buried his nose into her hair. He never did speak very much, but that was just his way. He spoke volumes with his actions. A sudden pain struck her heart as realization hit. If she decided to go through with it, the odds were that she would never see him again. Never hold him again or breathe his scent again or wake up to his eyes watching over her again, or see his smile, his beautiful, heartbreaking smile, ever again. She would be dead to him, and her 'death' would break him. His smile would disappear. She was arrogant enough to admit, with all feminine pleasure, that she was his reason for smiling. But if she left things as they were… Abruptly she turned in his embrace and wrapped her arms around his neck, standing on tip toe in order to press as much of herself against him as she could as hard as she could. If she left things as they were, ignored all warnings and lived as she had… His hands tugged her closer, gently rubbing down her back in soothing strokes. He wasn't wearing his gloves and his hands were hot enough to burn.

"I love you!" She whispered furiously, "I love you so much!" His hands stilled for a moment before his right hand slid up to ball itself in her hair, gently tugging so that she tilted her head back to meet his storm cloud gaze. His eyes were worried. Worried and filled with so much. He was her protector. Her lover. Her right hand. Her lion. But there were some thing's he could never protect her from…

"Rinoa?" He asked, all concern and love and reassurance. She didn't let him speak. She kissed him, throwing her whole body into it, bruising lips and teeth and tongue and body and hands and he was so warm and alive and she would do anything to keep it that way. If he were dead. If he were taken and his heart submerged by this growing darkness… She hated to admit it. Hated it so much, just as much as she loved him. A fierce, burning love that would burn her up. If she was his reason, he was hers and she would do anything to protect it. He would live even if everyone else was dead. Even if he forgot her. Even if he loved another, so long as he was alive and had the ability to smile… She would shatter stars to see it done. Commit any sin. So long as he was alive. A doomed love. An ancient romance retold again and again and again. He was hers. Now and forever. Her lionhearted storm with his burning hands and smoldering mouth that kissed her back with all the fury and passion of his name. She pulled away from the kiss and smiled at his dazed expression.

"Five days." She said, twining her fingers into his hair. He frowned, confused.

"What?" Again she interrupted and this time her kiss held less violence and more tender passion. Slowly she backed them up until he was pressing her painfully against the rail of the balcony, her hands already fumbling at one of his belts, her lips nipping insistently at his. On the horizon storm clouds gathered and thunder rumbled on the mountains, echoing his soft growl of desire. She shivered as the wind picked up, carrying with it the first scent of rain.

"I love you…" She whispered fiercely as he lowered her gently to the flag stones, his mouth attacking her neck in dizzying nips and nuzzles. Each kiss punctuated by soft 'love you's and 'forever's and she let a tear fall as she lay back and stared up at the sparkling sky. And as she watched in foggy arousal, another star went out.


She watched him sleep for awhile before disentangling herself from the sheets. His eyebrows twitched together for a moment as he mumbled something incoherent before settling back into slumber, snuggling into the space she had vacated. She smiled for a time before grabbing her robe and making her unsteady way to the bathroom.

The hot water stung on the abrasions on her back and tingled in the hickeys on her neck and shoulders. The light on the white tiles was painfully bright and blinding after the oh-so short hours spent in breathless darkness. She had blood under her fingernails and she could still taste him and the rain which still streamed down the window pane in a hypnotizing fashion. Thunder rolled above and there was no way the Garden was going anywhere until the storm stopped. She had already left a note for faculty that all outdoor classes would be cancelled until further notice, much to their dismay. But there was little she could do until the rain stopped. The final word of that thought seemed to echo and reverberate in her mind. Stop. Stop. Before she could realize or control it the word slipped through her lips born of untapped power.

"STOP" She whispered. And time was stilled. Outside the shower curtain Angelo kept watch upon the door, whining softly every so often. Squall shifted uneasily in bed, a rustle of satin and quilt, caught in an uneasy dream. Faculty patrolled the lower levels, catching any that would dare stray from their beds on such a night, rain streaming down the window panes and thunder on the mountains. But, still, however, within the four walls of tile and curtain all was till. Steam formed billowing cirrus strata in the air like a smoky halo above her head and water droplets formed a cacophony of multicolored prisms reflecting florescent light. Stilled in their one moment of perfect, individual clarity before they would break upon her skin in a circular destiny.

It was only when the sound of droplets hitting the tile caught her attention that she realized she was crying, saline gems rolling down her cheeks, the only movement allowed within the four walls of tile and curtain that contained the pocket outside of time. If she so chose she could say the word and even her tears would cease to fall, caught in mid-flight. Another drop, red and too perfect, hit the tiles. Then another, and another. It was only when the water at her feet began to turn pink did she realize that she was bleeding. A product of too much power used too quickly and too soon. She still wasn't ready. She reached up a shaking hand to touch her nose. Her fingers came away crimson. The pounding between her eyes was barley noticeable, a gentle persistent warning. Her hands clenched and shook as a sudden fury overtook her. With a short, sharp shriek of rage she lashed out and the droplets scattered. Just as suddenly as the rage had come it was gone, only to be replaced by a crushing sadness. Slowly she sank down, until she was hugging her knees, crying and bleeding and dying inside. With a short wave of her hand time resumed.

"I don't…" She sobbed, "I don't want to… I don't want to… Why…?" She leaned back against the wall, sniffling at the ceiling tiles, "Why?" But the room had no answer and she didn't even know what it was she was trying to ask.


It was only when she was sitting in the weight room watching the muscles in Selphie's back and shoulders bunch and realize did she realize what she had to do. It wasn't a sudden revelation, but more of a solemn, slow resignation.

"…Nine… Ten… Eleven…" Selphie counted, lifting the dumbbells over her head over and over, "…Twelve… Thirteen… Fourteen… Hey, Rin..? Sixteen… Seventeen…"

"Yes?" She asked, slowing on the treadmill to an easy walk.

"…Nineteen… Twenty… Has Squall ever… You know… Twenty-four… Twenty-five…"

"Ever what?" She asked. The pattern halted for a moment before Selphie continued with her routine.

"Nothingnevermind… Thirty-two… Thirty-three… It's just that… Thirty-six… Thirty-seven… Thirty-eight… I dunno… Forty-one… Forty-two… Forty-three…"

"Did you an Irvine get into another fight?" She asked. Selphie snorted and set the dumbbells on the floor.

"Yeah, right. What else is new?" She grumbled. Rinoa smiled. She didn't really understand their relationship at all. Most of their time together was either spent fighting, flirting or… She blushed. Then an uncomfortable thought struck her and she frowned.

"Is Irvine cheating on you?" She demanded suddenly. Selphie spun around, eyes wide and glaring.

"No!" She answered sharply, "Where in the world would you get an idea like that? He would never cheat, he's not that type of person and you know that!" Rinoa nodded and sighed.

"I know… Sorry Selphie… It's just that people talk and gossip doesn't pain Irvine in a very nice light… Not after watching some of your fights." Now it was Selphie's turn to sigh as she leaned on her knees, head bowed, "I know…" She murmured, "He does come off a certain way… But he also is very faithful. Once he pledges himself to someone he stays true to the end. And that's one of the reason's I love him… Despite all the other times he's annoyed the hell out of me…" She smiled and it was the smile of a woman in love so true that it broke Rinoa's heart all over again, "He keeps me on my toes and holds me steady all at once. And he's told me that I do the same for him… It's all I ever really wanted or needed and all I ever really think I'll need."

"Ever think about marrying him?" Rinoa asked and Selphie laughed, standing to throw a towel around her shoulders, "It's not like I'm gonna ask him first, he has to come to me!" She said. Rinoa laughed as well.

"Yeah… Knowing him it'll probably be a shotgun wedding to boot," She snickered, "Only he'll have proposed long before anyone else knew about it and the happiest person there will be him!" Suddenly, as the words tumbled from her lips, she knew it would be truth. There would be a wedding dress stretched tight over a body ripe with child. A happier union never to be equaled. And even as she saw this knowledge behind her eyes she knew that the happiness wouldn't last. Selphie Tilmitt-later-to-be-Kanneas would disappear into the shadows leaving a widowed and broken Irvine to raise their daughter alone. Another side effect of the approaching dark.

Rinoa blinked the world back into focus to see Selphie staring worriedly at her. Smiling in failed reassurance she went and wrapped her arms tightly around her shorter friend, kissing her hair in a sisterly manner.

"I hope that you'll be very happy. I pray that you'll have a happy life, the both of you…" For as long as it lasts…She thought before it became to much and she burst into heart broken tears for the second time that day.


She made Selphie promise not to tell anyone about her little break down. She made her excuses knowing that Selphie saw right through them. She was a SEED after all. But the small brunet let it slide after making Rinoa promise to get some rest. She tried. She really did. Yet every time she closed her eyes she saw them behind her eyelids. Flashes and flickers of time. Past. Present. Future. All of it. Worlds beyond counting opened their doors to her and she knew their stories now near by heart. Light. Darkness. Cosmos. Chaos. Fighting desperately for control. The Heartless. Creatures that never were but are. Born from the darkness and sin of a person's heart. Chaos born and bred. And Cosmos, sweet creatress of Light birthed seven daughters to defend the worlds against the darkness. But Chaos knows many tricks and what is not and what should not is.

Rinoa floundered helplessly, trying to decipher what she was being told and failing because she was still mortal. And she saw three women. Edea and two others who split the threads of time between themselves, braiding and re-braiding, yet no matter how fast their fingers moved the tapestry of the universe continued to fray and come undone almost faster than they could move.

"This will be your task…" Edea said, coming to stand beside her and watch her other self, "You will move within the tapestry and correct the wrongs in it threads. You shall be in it, yet not apart of it."

"But…" Rinoa protested, "The tapestry is so big and time is endless… How can I do something like that?" Edea smiled and the movement of her lips was almost a sound.

"You shall not be alone. As one both with in and without you sill be able to get help from anyone you choose. Three hearts have already been chosen to guide path. One is very much like you and the other is searching for someone and shall help when needed." She breathed in slowly and let it out in a slow rush, long nailed hands clasping neatly, "There is still so much to do and so little time to do it in…" She turned her gaze to Rinoa and her expression was not unkind, "I do not envy you your gifts, my dear. We only receive power in equilibrium to what we can give and you," She reached out a hand to cup Rinoa's face, "And you, sweet child, "have a lot to give…" She gently took her hand away and turned to leave.

"Wait!" Rinoa cried, reaching out her hand, "Why?"

"Why…?" Edea glanced over her shoulder, raising an elegant brow inquiringly, "Why, you ask? You dare to ask me why?" She turned back and pointed dramatically at Rinoa, "Because your heart is pure. Because your power is pure. Purity and light such as yours is difficult to come by. A beautiful curse to be chosen by the Light."

"Why six days? Why that number to make my decision, if I ever had any choice?" Rinoa asked. The sorceress laughed, a lonely sound that hurt to hear, like crystal breaking underfoot.

"They say that the World was created in six days. Only six days to create our world… And on the seventh day…" She paused, a strange smile trembling at the corners of her lips.

"And on the seventh day…?" Rinoa prompted hesitantly. Edea smiled and it was painful and unpleasant to look upon, a spreading of lips and a baring of Cheshire teeth.

"Why, my dear Rinoa… I thought you knew…" Slowly the form of Edea began to come undone, fraying around the edges, her body growing transparent and thing as the darkness around them began to seeping into the space until only that lovely smiling mouth remained, "It may take six days to create a world… Yet it only takes one to destroy it…" And only darkness remained.


Seifer glanced around the empty ballroom in near confusion. Tapping his foot he quirked an eyebrow at his former romantic interest as she set the needle on a record.

"So what's this all about?" He asked, grinning, no, smirking as the strains of an airy waltz crackled and rang through the air. Rinoa smiled before turning to him, heels scraping against the floor as she took his hands.

"I just remembered something it made me feel a little guilty." She said, leading him out onto the floor.

"What?" He asked as he bowed and she curtsied.

"I never got to dance with you that night did I?" She stated as he led her into a smooth spin before leading her in time.

"No." He stated, not really caring anymore, "You didn't" She smiled and moved her hands, he followed. They were in harmony. A smooth choreography of steps. Seifer grinned down at her as he bent her back into a dip.

"Has the kid been practicing with you?" He asked teasingly, pulling her back, "You're out of sync." Rinoa stuck her tongue out teasingly.

"Testing me are you?" She asked.

"Nah. Just him." Seifer spun her again and dipped into a bow as the music ended. She curtsied in answer. The next medley began and again they came together.

Once upon a time she would have taken his compatibility as fate, but in all actuality he was just that good of a dancer. True compatibility came from practice and truly knowing your partner inside and out. Something that she and Seifer no longer had.

"So…" He began nonchalantly, spinning her until her surcoat tail flew, "Planning on 'That' dance are we?" Rinoa fluttered her eyelashes at him in a picture of mock innocence.

"Why Seifer…" She purred, leaning in close, scraping the toe of her shoe up the outside of his calf before spinning away, "Whatever to do you mean?" They stepped around each other before he grabbed her hand, looped her close before spinning her around, grabbing her waist and picking her up much to her squealing protest.

"Just as I thought…" He said spinning around to set her back down, "You're wearing 'Those' shoes… You're going to end up ruining the floor…" She smiled at him fondly. She did love him, just not in the same way she had once upon a time. She trusted him and that trust ran deep on both sides. The music continued, yet her feet remained where they were. She waited. The music ended. A cheerful foxtrot began and her smile grew mischievous as, out of the corner of her eye she saw squall saunter stiffly in, looking more morose than he had upon their first meeting. Inconspicuously she slid her left hand behind her back and signed a series of commands Quistis had taught her… Had it already been five years ago? She felt more than saw his shoulders slump further as he relaxed into his 'Role'.

"May I cut in?" He asked, bowing slightly.

"Sure." Seifer shrugged and tried to hide his disappointment as he turned to go. The fox trot had always been his favorite.

"Thank you." Squall answered and with that grabbed his confused rival's hand and dragged him further out onto the floor. The expression on Almaisy's face was priceless as Rinoa slowly backed behind a pillar and pulled a camcorder and three cameras from their hiding places.


Seifer struggled half-heartedly in the hold Squall had on him and glared.

"What." He ground out, "Do you think. You are doing?"

"My job…" Squall sighed.


"Instructor Trepe." He mumbled, trying to remember the steps. The foxtrot had never been his favorite, "Or better yet ask Irvine."

"What?" He demanded, even more confused. Squall made an agitated noise.

"Selphie's been collecting these books and got the other girls into it. Suffice to say that I've been hired by the females of Balamb to dance with you." He scowled up at the taller man, "I'm under contract… If they weren't our girls I would've refused, but…" He stared at Seifer pleadingly, "You know how scary Fuujin can be…" Seifer snorted. He knew what kind of otherworldly horror the girls could be, especially if they all banned together. He snickered at the thought of them cornering Squall and forcing him to sign a contract. He huffed in amusement.

"They paying you?" He asked.

"Yes." Squall growled, "Double or nothing."

"Fine. But I want in. 70-30."





"…Deal…" Why do I feel as if I've just been tricked…?

"Deal!" Seifer nodded, "Now let's see this contract through right. We are the pride of SEED after all…" With that he changed his grip and began to lead in an enthusiastic dance. Squall, being the well-trained SEED he was, followed. But not without protest.

"Wait. Why do I have to be the girl?" He demanded as he was spun. Seifer grinned and bent him back into a low dip.

"Because you're shorter, that's why…"


All too soon, or not soon enough, the dance ended. Rinoa ran out of film, Seifer was amused and Squall decidedly not. He glared and scowled and wrenched himself from the other man's grip, muttering something about not giving in to the demands of women even again, no matter what the pay off. Rinoa pouted at him cutely as Seifer snickered and began to walk towards the entrance.

"Well, don't have too much fun now children." He mocked pausing at the record player, his smile now more decidedly evil as he set needle to disk. The grand arched doors closed with a slow bang as soft, intense piano wafted through the space. Rinoa smiled and put the camera down. Slowly she stood, making sure her hands, flat palmed and spread fingered, traced firmly up her body until she stood upright. Squall stared in fascination as she slowly turned to the side and pulled a flower from the air. It was a simple trick and took only a dollop of magic. A frivolous bit of drama just for this one dance. She stuck it in her mouth with a wink and that slow smile, the one only she was privileged enough to see, spread across his face. It was their little secret that Seifer, apparently, was well aware of. He was head of the Disciplinary Committee after all. Squall's favorite dance was the Tango. It was complicated and needed improvised strategy and was a dance of passion and near violence. A fight where he need not fear hurting her and she got as good as she gave.

Her breath hitched as he turned his back to her, left foot sliding against the floor until he stood with feet at an angle, hip jutted slightly. A slow steady beat began the rhythm and she turned as he did, mimicking his former pose. In one of the many mirrored windows she saw him, reaching out one hand to her, stretching across the distance. A sharp staccato violin note and she was spinning to face him, left foot heel-click, right foot heel-click, and maybe she would be damaging the floor tonight. Back straight, posture stiff, head held high. She took the rose from her mouth and tossed it uncaringly to the side. He turned his back to her again, only his head was cocked to the side, face tilted to look at her out of the corner of one eye. Waiting for her next move. The chord strung out between them, tight and trembling, until her foot crossed over and his as well and there was the echoing STAMP against the floor that was harmony. They circled each other like combatants in a ring, like lions on the plain, like thunder on the mountains. A life or death struggle of dominance and aggression. Yet when he finally caught her it was gentleness, a quite scraping of her heels across the floor. She did not want gentle. Not now. Not tonight or last night. Not now, not then, not ever again. This was a good-bye of sorts. To the way they were, to this flurry of a hobby that spoke of more things than any heart to heart ever would. Four years of practice and more years of SEED training did much to let him think on his feet. He was wearing his usual leather coat. She wanted it off. So when she spun away she took it with her, tossing it away petulantly. He turned and dance-stepped away. She pursued. Her hand went to his shoulder where he caught it, bringing her around.

The music sped up and so did they, legs twining, arms weaving. This was battle; this was sex, violent and passionate. This was love. This was her sorrow and frustration and anguish. This was his love and confusion and need. This was good-bye. She refused to leave without a good-bye and he wouldn't let her go without a fight. He didn't understand and it told. She did and it told as well. Two different dances merged into one. Slow, slow, quickquickquick. Slow, slow, quickquick, slow. Her hair flew; his shirt clung to his chest. She didn't even have to press close to know what this kind of dance did to him. She did anyway, leg wrapped around his hip as he bent her back, hand around his neck she reached and grabbed the abandoned rose sticking it between her teeth as he pulled her up and dragged her back, struggling to keep her with him. He took the rose with his mouth and flipped it over in a smooth intricate acrobatic tongue movement that made her smile.

The beat was a ticking clock and, like the music, she could not stop it or control it as she wished. Finally the song came to a crescendo and she could take no more. She ended up, legs tight around his hips, grinding hard into him, head thrown back, bent back, his mouth hot against the hollow of her throat hands hot against her back and head. Her own clenched in his hair. When he slowly began to raise them up she threw her weight into him. Surprised he grunted and lost his balance, toppling them to the floor. She never allowed him the time to catch his breath. She tossed the rose aside once more and attacked his mouth, biting at his lips harshly, angrily. And she never really quite understood why she was so mad. Maybe it was grief. She had heard that one of the steps of grief was anger. She did feel bad for taking her wrath out on Squall, but when he began to give back as good as he got it didn't really matter all that much. Nothing mattered except his mouth at her breasts and his hands pulling down her shorts. The rose was reclaimed and used to lightly tease her already sensitive skin. Her hands were trapped over her head by her shirt and she didn't want to move. She did writhe with impatience and he finally did ditch the poor, tortured flower to slide his hands between her thighs. She opened her mouth to moan when a sudden SLAM against the, thankfully locked, glass doors caught their attention.

The doors in question were made of foggy stained glass and not very easy to see into or through. The only thing that could be seen were shadows. Thankfully. At first it was just one big shadow, but then a muffled voice squealed indignantly.

"Irvine, you bastard! I autta refu-MMMH!" After that the shadow moved quite a bit and there was more erotic noise than either of them wanted to hear from their closest friends. Squall rolled his eyes and started to sit up; positive the mood had long since broken. He gave a muffled yelp when he was pushed back down and straddled, Rinoa kicking her shorts and panties the rest of the way off and beginning to work at his belts. Leaning forward she nipped the tip of his nose playfully.

"Not a sound…" She breathed against his mouth, rising up as she did so. Their strangled, gasping breath was drowned out by Selphie's sudden squeal and a loud, annoyingly revealing rhythmic banging against the ballroom doors.

Rinoa gasped at the burning tingle and arched, throwing her head back. Under her hand his heartbeat was loud and above her, through the clear glass of the ceiling the star strewn sky became a little emptier as two more lights went out.

She never did find out if they had scratched up the floor that night or not. She didn't really think she would have cared even if they had.


Again she dreamt of the universe in all its multi-colored darkness. And only the darkness existed. A light flashed in the darkness and from it creation was born. And there was Land. One world. One light. One life. And the Cosmos was so big and yet so close.

"Once upon a time…" A soft, husky voice began, "Once upon a time and long ago, the world was united and filled with Light. The people called it Land and there was only one. The people loved the Light. But soon that love became so intense and burned so hotly that it turned into a jealousy. And the people began to fight over the Light. Then Darkness came. For every heart has Darkness and through that Darkness the Darkness spread. In a flash it spread. The world disappeared and Land was sundered. But a glimmer of Light remained in the hearts of seven children. The seven children gathered the glimmers of Light and recreated the world. The world, however, was no longer one. No longer united. It was divided into countless smaller worlds. Because the true Light was still hidden deep with the Darkness…"

And through the telling she saw it all: the birth of Chaos and the Seven Sins. The breaking of the world and the birth of the Seven Virtues who recreated it. Each world so close and yet so far, connected by secret doors near impossible to find except for those who knew where to look. And she saw. She knew. And she wept.

"Why me?" She demanded, turning around and around, trying to find someone, anyone who could answer her cry, "Why pick me? Edea said it was because I was pure, but there must be something else! Some other reason!" A blinding flash and seven images appeared before her. Each one beautiful. Each one different. And at their core a gleam of a different sort. The power to change worlds.

"My beautiful daughters…" The voice said, maternal pain staining her voice with beloved sorrow, "My Virtues. Descended from the children who gave all to bring the Light back. And when they failed they separated, vowing to guard the scattered pieces of the world, the secret of the locked doors, deep within their hearts. To protect the Light from Chaos, the darker part of me. And unto my chosen I planted seeds to carry out my will when the Darkness rises again. The vow was long forgotten until mow. My Virtues have been reborn and Chaos has chosen a new avatar. The Heartless." The seven girls disappeared and Rinoa saw herself and six others, most of them in shadow and she sobbed to realize the ones in shadow were already dead, stillborn in their graves. The voice spoke again, a gentle mother welcoming home the child who had been lost.

"My seed. My bringer of order. My soldier of Light. I reclaim you and charge you to the promise made long ago. Time and Space are no obstacle. Return to me that which has been stolen and right that which has been wronged. Do as ye will." The figures in shadow vanished and those still in light remained. It was with a start that Rinoa realized that those assembled were similar to each other with the same brown hair and same curving eyes and same dimpled mouth. Sisters cut from the same mold. There, of course, resounding differences. One had a fighter's stance and fighter's muscles and an incredibly… Ample… Bosom. Another was short and doll-delicate, yet with a determination and grace that bespoke of great strength.

A gentle presence at her back caused her to turn and she gasped, eyes filling with unshed tears, eyes blurring and burning with a painful, ever-changing brilliance:

A woman, powerful and proud, dressed in armor of light, a lance in one hand a Calla Lily in the other. A young maiden clad in white, delicate and fragile, a dove perched upon one pale hand, a branch of apple blossoms in the other. A lady dressed in robes faded from white to shades of gray, her veiled head encircled with a crown of woven blood-red geraniums and royal purple asters, her face lined with smiles and care, fragile and lovely, a set of scales upon one hand a crocus in the other. And all three had the same eyes; silvery blue and green and ever-changing. Powerful, hopeful and wise. And when they spoke it was with one voice.

"This is but a representation of me. And from my chosen seeds I have picked you to do my bidding: Maiden, Mother, Crone. Firstborn and wisest I leave all in your hands. Call unto me and I shall set you upon your path. 'There is no hate, only joy. For you are beloved by the Goddess: Hero of the dawn, Healer of worlds. For even if the 'morrow is barren of promises, nothing shall forestall my return'. Choose well…" Rinoa took a step forward, realizing she was being dismissed.

"Wait!" She cried as tendrils of light, the same silver-blue-green as the Goddess' eyes, reached through the darkness to drag her away, "I need to know! What will happen if I say-" A blinding flash of green and she saw once more in her office, standing before her desk. She glanced around. It was morning and through her open window she could hear the sounds of Balamb: Students on their way to class, birds singing and faculty going about their business. With a frustrated half-scream she slumped into her chair and picked up the clock on her desk as if to throw it across the room. She stopped herself just in time and stared blankly at it as they second hand ticked merrily on, not realizing it had escaped almost certain doom. She set it down with a sigh. Where had she even gotten that clock? She couldn't remember. And that was worrying. She had been living with Squall for almost three years and had been headmistress of Balamb for four years and had known Seifer for six years and had started her gunblade training five years ago and those two paranoid idiots were rubbing off on her. If this was making her worried it would make them downright petrified. She sighed again as she put her chin in her hand, idly fiddling with the clock.

It was a round clock, dark brown and about the size of her fist… Or a bomb… Maybe a little bigger. Kind of ugly to look at. The face itself was gorgeous with black numerals outlined in gold. At its center was an ornate heart and inside the heart was crown. The hour hand was shaped like a skeleton key, the minute hand was a strange looking wand and the second hand had a small shield at it's end. Its merry ticking was soothing and hypnotic. Yet there was something strange about the way the hands were moving. Something not right, if she could just put her finger on it…

"'Morning…" Squall greeted her coffee in one hand, paperwork in the other. Shaken from her thoughts Rinoa smiled as she receiver her morning dose of caffeine and a kiss.

"You were gone when I woke up this morning…" Squall stated. He never asked questions. It was almost frustrating. As least he wasn't blunt, unlike Seifer. Rinoa sighed.

"I had a strange dream. I actually think I ended up sleepwalking because when I woke up I was here." Squall frowned worriedly and slid a hand onto her forehead. His palm was warm against her head and she leaned into the touch.

"You don't feel like you have a fever…" He stated putting the hand to his own forehead. Rinoa chuckled.

"I doubt dreams have anything to do with fevers, Squall…" He snorted an exhalation of breath that fluttered his bangs cutely. He had been growing his hair out recently and the effect was quite fetching…

"Well, you take it easy today…" he said, turning to leave, "I would be embarrassing if our figurehead were to collapse on us..." She sighed unhappily as the door closed softly.

She was more than a figurehead and they all knew it. When Headmaster Cid had mysteriously vanished those few short years ago Balamb had orchestrated a mass investigation. Studies and business had ground to a halt. The council began to crumble around them. Cid had been well loved and it was difficult to find a suspect when everyone was volunteering to help. Everyone suspected Seifer, but who wouldn't? She and Quistis had been put in charge as temporary Headmistresses, but Quistis had stepped down, liking her teaching job better. And so Rinoa had been voted in and had become the very symbol of Balamb almost overnight. If she had a question she never hesitated in asking for help. She did her best in making her Garden the best. As it was she was quickly becoming almost legendary, with the exception of Cid, of course. She missed him.

She blinked, realizing her eyes had blurred with tears. Shaking her head quickly she picked up the class attendance from the day before, checking to see if all of her little SeeDlings had been good in not skipping their classes. So far, so good until she reached the list for class C. Quistis' homeroom was missing three students; two boys and a girl. In fact those same three students had neglected to show up for any of their classes in at least a week. She flipped back a few pages before reaching over to the file cabinet and pulling out a few more folders. Those three students were average, but had been hard workers and good kids. How had she not noticed this?! They had been attending class regularly and had been getting extra help in the Library. She herself had noted them on their efforts. Then suddenly they fall off the lists and she never even noticed? Of course students had a tendency of skipping classes; she would have been disappointed in them and herself if they hadn't. But no one had missed this much unless they were sick or injured and even then Teachers would have marked them as such.

Steadying her suddenly shaky breathing she sat down.

"Don't panic…" She whispered to herself, "Don't panic. Why am I panicking?" She stared, glazed eyed at the portrait of Headmaster Cid. She was panicking because these were her students and it was her duty to protect them until they could protect themselves.

"I am Headmistress Rinoa of Balamb Garden of SeeD." She whispered to herself, "I must protect my students…" With a deep breath she reached for the phone on her desk. Placing it to her ear she said calmly and clearly, steadier than she felt, "Get me Disciplinary. Now."


Seifer stifled a sneeze as he squinted past his flashlight's paltry shine. If it weren't for the faded footprints and signs of recent disturbance he wouldn't have been down in the old boiler room area at all.

"They should've just remodeled the place years ago…" He grumbled, ducking a cobweb, "Then no one would be down here at all." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Cid had been planning on remodeling. In fact, he had been about to hold a contest for what the area should be. The best idea and design would win. What the winner would get was a secret. Seifer snorted, shaking himself back to the present and the grimy, untouched rooms.

The three had drawn lots for the basement areas and Seifer had lost two out of three. Fuujin was taking the upper areas while Raijin was in the training rooms. Squall was speaking to the teachers while Rinoa and Quistis checked the students. Irvine and Selphie were out on a mission, lucky morons, and Zell was visiting his mother in town. Dincht would check the town itself and the two fucktards had been alerted of the development, but not called back. Rinoa was overreacting.

"Spending too much time with Wonderboy…" He muttered reaching up to tap his comlink, "Disciplinary report." He commanded.

"Clear." From Fuujin, in her usual monotone.

"Everything's clear here, y'know." From Raijin, "find anything down there?"

"I'm just going to check these last few rooms…" He said, reaching for the old sticky mechanisms, "But I get the feeling this was all a big waste of-"The doors ground open and Seifer peered in, "…time…" He breathed.

"Seifer?" Fuujin asked, showing more emotion than she usually did.

"Cid…?" Seifer whispered.

"Seifer, what's wrong?" Raijin demanded, "You're freakin' us out, y'know?"

"Disciplinary get down here!" Seifer barked, drawing his gunblade, "And send Lionhart too!" Spinning gracelessly he slammed the door controls, jamming them irreparably, "And tell Rinoa I'm sorry." The doors slid shut, "Almacy, signing off…" He crushed the communicator and threw it aside, a feral grin forcing his usually unsmiling mouth to use muscles best left frowning as he turned to face a darkened room filled with eyes and the half-human remains of a once beloved Headmaster.


It was dark where she was. Scary. Frightening. Disturbing. It wasn't the beautiful darkness of the cosmos where even the night sky itself was a prism of colors. This was simply blackness. Devoid of any color, not every color, no color. At all. She stared wide eyed into it and got the dreadful feeling of eyes staring right back. The darkness breathed. Lived. Surged around her. She shivered.

"The world was born from Darkness." A voice said simply. It was a deep voice. It wasn't loud. It wasn't soft. It simply was. And still she had the urge to scream and cover her ears against it. She knew that escape was futile and so she listened.

"The world was born from Darkness. Unending darkness, a crucible of Chaos and fear. But even to that primordial existence there came a ray of Light. The universe was sundered and split into two equal parts. One of Darkness and one of Light. These two worlds existed together for an eternity and a day, or a time very close to it. Soon the Darkness began its struggle to take over the Light. For Darkness and Light were once one and both yearned for the other. But Light is so easily snuffed out and Darkness is eternal. However, even though there is Darkness in every heart so too is there Light. The Darkness lost its power because of this and was sealed away and the torn edges of the World were sealed together. And the world was one. Darkness became Light and the Darkness was sealed away forever, or a time very close to it. However, even though there is Light in every heart so too is there Darkness. People hold a great fear of the Darkness even as they are drawn to it. It whispers to them in the Darkness of great power. Darkness is the great balancer. An equalizer. They want it, yet fear it, making them weigh the costs of their actions, of what they have to lose. But the Heart is weak. The scales become in-equal and, to their own minds, they believe that what they are doing is the correct course of action. They cannot bear to see the Darkness in themselves, when in fact, it has always been there."

"Why are you telling me this?" She whispered, hands pressed to her throat. Her voice was shaking.

"It is wise for you to know, little child of Cosmos, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, that when you face the Darkness and gaze into its depths, the Darkness in you will be the one to gaze back." She blinked and between one breath and the next the darkness was filled with eyes…


"Rinoa. Rinoa! Rinoa." She blinked. A hand was shaking her. She blinked again and took a deep shuddering breath. Quistis was staring at her worriedly through her spectacles. Rinoa concentrated on those glittering silver half circles perched on the end of her friend's nose. It helped bring her back to reality. She never really realized that she had left it.

"Sorry…" She whispered, "I spaced out for a moment there…"

"You did a far sight more than that… Geeze, I've heard of nightmares but that looked like a full-blown daymare!" Quistis' arm was warm around her shoulders, "I think you should go to the infirmary, you shouldn't be down here in the first place…" Rinoa shook her head vehemently and sat down on a chair someone was pulling up for her. She smiled a thank you and crossed her ankles, folding her hands primly into her lap.

"I'm staying here…" She said firmly. Quistis sighed and rolled her eyes, leaning against the wall next to her, wrapping and rewrapping her whip around her hands. It was the leather practice whip and Rinoa knew her friend was wishing for her chain one, but not willing to leave the action to go fetch it. The dusty, dirty basement room was suddenly a mini-base camp as SeeD members struggled to get into the sealed room.

Rinoa didn't know what to do. The freshmen and those without weapon's training had been sent home and the Garden was on high alert. Messages from other SeeDs reported the same problem. Missing teachers. Missing students. Small black monsters with bright empty eyes. She bit her lip and prayed as Squall and the remainder of the Disciplinary Committee attacked the door. Fuujin was sitting on the floor nearby, headset pressed to her ear, repeating the same emotionless words over and over.

"Seifer, come in… Seifer, come in… Seifer, come in… Seifer… Seifer…" The sounds of fighting had been loud at first. Explosions and GF screams and the spine scraping grind of Gunblade on metal and stone. Then Seifer screamed and Raijin berzerked, slamming himself against the dented and unyielding door.

"SEIFER!" He yelled, "I'm comin' for ya, y'know!" Squall's hand on his shoulder halted his assault.

"Stand aside." He said, softly and firmly and Raijin stepped aside and Rinoa remembered a time when Squall's eyes had looked like that. Cold. Steely. Icy blue that glowed with Shiva's grace. Stepping back he pointed the gunblade at the door and whispered,

"Diamond Dust." It was the possessive roar of a rival denied. The cry of a friend bereft. The sob of a brother abandoned. Rinoa smiled. Her eyes burned from the brilliance as she clutched at her pendent, the same one Seifer had sent her for her birthday one year. It reflected the GF's light and blazed white. The attack faded. The Ice melted. They listened to the silence. A flash of light beneath the door, a startled,

"You!" from the trapped knight and all was silent. Deathly silent. Empty silence. The doors opened. The darkness surged. Seifer was no where in sight.


Hours passed. She watched in horror as the Darkness began to spread beyond its entry point. The lowest levels were evacuated and sealed. Irvine and Selphie were called back. Zell was told to stay put and look out for the town. Raijin had to be sedated. Fuujin sat next to him, headset pressed to her ear, calling for a man who could not answer. Watches were set as night fell and the students, confined to their dorms, attempted to sleep.

Rinoa sat in her ginormous plush leather chair and stared blankly at the clock on her desk. She knew what was so strange about it now. Why she never remembered where it came from or why it was strange. The clock ticked backwards. The second hand ticked and tocked merrily onwards. The minute hand marked the hours while the hour hand had only moved at the end of the day. A gift from Edea no doubt. A warning of some kind. But what it was counting down too, she couldn't really say.


The water was dark and cold. So quiet and soothing. She could float there forever and forget about the woes in her world. Just stay here forever.

"I've been having these weird thoughts lately..."

A light was glowing through the darkness above her, or was it below? Was she rising towards the light or was she falling to meet it?

"Like, is any of this for real or not…"


It was midnight when the sound of her office door opening woke her from her slight dose.

"Who's there?!" She demanded, wiping sleep from her eyes with one hand while the other reached under her desk for her pinwheel.

"I would advise against movement at the moment, Ms. Heartilly…" The voice was calm, raspy smooth and deep as velvet. The figures who walked in were both hooded in black and their strides so evenly matched it was as if a single consciousness had been split irreparably in two.

"Who are you?" She whispered, fingers still fumbling. A chuckle, low and deep, and the two voices became one.

"We are…" The left began.

"And we are not…" added the right.

"That is to say…" The left interjected.

"We are Nobody." They finished at once.

"Why are you here?" She demanded. Where oh, where was Squall when she needed him?! A deep chuckle answered her.

"We have come to tell you…" The right hood began this time.

"This world has been connected." The left said, "Tied to the darkness."

"It would be completely eclipsed…" The left added, "But for an unexpected lock upon the door."

"The Seventh of Seven has yet to be born, yet her birth has already occurred." From the right, "Someone has corrupted time. Broken the roles of Time and Space."

"What are you talking about?" Rinoa demanded, her fingers brushed against a box and she jumped with surprised triumph, "I don't understand!"

"This world has already been taken, yet it still stands." Answered the left.

"An unexpected setback." The right amended, "Surrender. This world is already dead. Give in." The ticking of the clock on her desk had never been so loud.

"Your heart will be taken. Whatever strange power that you possess. The power that denies us will be ours."

"It is perhaps the power of the Key itself that lies within her?" The left asked.

"If it is, it belongs not to her. This power is not her own, only an augmentation. A gift by some such Power or another…"



Rinoa's fingers closed around the hilt of her gunblade. Squall had it made for her when she had finally gotten to the point in her training where she could trust herself with it. And nobody was afraid she'd kill them by accident. As she did her eyes fell upon the clock, that bedamned clock. Her eyes widened. The clock read midnight. The countdown nearing completion. But countdown to what? She suddenly wanted nothing more than to throw that stupid clock at the nearest window, but that would mean turning her back on the two freaks in front of her.

"I don't understand what you're trying to tell me…" She sighed. When confronted by psychopaths, keep them talking. It'll buy time that maybe someone will come to the rescue. Someone should be checking in soon. Anyone. It's midnight. She was headmistress. Why wouldn't they want to check in with her? A chuckle answered her question.

"One who knows nothing can understand nothing…" She no longer knew which on was speaking and, frankly, no longer cared. She was reaching the end of her rope. The world was ending. She had been gifted with the powers of the Cosmos. The universe was her playground. It was the last day of the week. She just didn't give a crap anymore.

"I may not know or understand the question…" She smiled saccharine sweetness as she stood, pulling gunblade out with her to point at the intruders, "But my answer is NO!" She fired. The bullets never seemed to hit, but made enough noise to wake the dead. As the clock on her desk ticked to silence and began to ring a high, clear tone she realized it. She didn't want to wake the dead or the living. She just wanted them to stop. To give her enough time to save them. All of them. And if that wasn't possible she was selfish enough to save those most important to her. Her reasons.

"My answer…" She whispered as the cloaked pair raised hands that glowed multi-colored black and the room began to fill with eyes, "If I cannot control time than I will break it!"

The clock was light in her hands and flew in a graceful curve when it left her grip. When it hit the wall there was a flash and reality itself seemed to crack and splinter like a mirror. And within each piece she saw it… Them… Herself. All that is. All that was. All that could be.


Rinoa Heartilly strode up to the man leaning dourly against the wall.

"Dance with me!" She demanded, "You're the best looking guy here!"

And she was Squall Leonhart who, so perfect and in control on the battlefield, had no idea or clue where to put his hands on the pretty girl's slim waist or what to do with his feet. And she was Seifer Almacy who watched in silence as his kind of/sometimes/not really girlfriend danced with another instead of him. And it was from three different points of view that she saw Rinoa Heartilly point up at the stars and it was two different occasions and she was Squall Leonheart who was confused and nervous and covered in a stoic façade and she was Squall Leonheart who was in love and happy and testing a smile and tasting her lips and she was Rinoa heartily who smiled in reassurance and Rinoa Heartilly who smiled and kissed him back and the starlit sky shattered into blue and she was looking down and that young man with the spiky black hair and eyes that only science could make and green that no human could have looked back and he was already dead and she was Zack Fair fighting a battle he could not win and standing in the sky knowing he was already dead and looking up without knowing that there was nothing higher or lower than death and the grew in his eyes grew and she was staring at the girl in the garden in the church in the slums in the city in the wasteland and it was raining or were those tears? And she was Aerith Gaisnborough who knew too much and saw too much and felt too much and prayed not knowing who she prayed to and her eyes were green and the green chased and iris that was blue that only science could make and his hair was golden bloodstained red and so young, too young to fly and she was Cloud Strife screaming to a sky that did not care among corpses who no longer could and Zack Fair was already dead and looking at her and the green in his eyes wasn't his it was hers and she was trapped and screaming and they wouldn't let her die and she was the scientist who dreamed of children and her bodyguard was so sweet and serious and such a dork for his good aim and she was Lucrecia Cresent who married a madman for children she could never have with him and she was pregnant with another man's child and she was screaming with a voice that wasn't hers and knowing that it was too late to save her son. And the green in her eyes wasn't hers, it was his and he was trapped and screaming as his sanity was stripped away by the man who he called father and tortured by the woman he called mother and she was Sephiroth who would destroy the world if only to take the pain away and so lonely and never knowing that his mother wept behind unbreakable glass and never knowing that his mother wept behind unbreakable glass for a child that would never be hers and never knowing that his father broke inside to watch and feel his only ill-begotten child become thus. And she was Vincent Valentine whose whole was no longer human with eyes only science could make fighting a battle he couldn't win against a son he never knew for a woman who he could never touch for a world he no longer lived for. And there was the little girl who bounced behind him and she tried to hard to be strong and she was Yuffie Kisaragi trying to understand and failing because she was human and he was a monster with demons that spoke and would kill and rape and eat her given half a chance. And she was the woman trying to fill a gap, a role that only one could fill and failing through her tears and she was Tifa Lockhart who tried and failed and tried and failed and she was never giving up. And she was the man who dreamed of the stars and she was Cid Highwind who smoke too much and drank not at all and cursed too much and tried even though he had given up long ago and she was Nanashi who knew too much and saw too much and he was already dead, knowing what he knew and seeing the world as it was and she was Reeve who wasn't one person anymore and breaking into pieces and building dolls that could talk and live without him and he was already dead knowing what others knew and seeing what they saw without him. And she was Rufus Shinra who wore contacts so no one would see the color of this eyes that no human could have and there were so many, so many and more and she was the woman forced into slavery and stared up at the stars and knew too much and saw too much and she was Terra Branford who hid behind the mask of humanity in a vain hope of being free and she was the man who gave it all for freedom and she was Setzer Gabbiani who loved and gambled that love and never looked himself in the eye for fear of what he might see and the Opera was beautiful as roses tumbled from the sky into the sky and fell upon the stage and she was the princess who would be Queen and she was Garnet who was Dagger and she was the Queen who married a thief and a rogue and she was Zidane who was more than human and loved the brother he killed and she was Kuja who killed and died as he lived and wept for his homemade children who died even as they were born and she was Vivi Orunita, the boy who lived and always questioned why they died while he lived and she was the Summoner who sang and she was Lenne who was a pawn in a war she never understood and she searched for her lover who was rash and stupid and filled with anger and she was Shuuyin who was found too late and she was Sin who only wanted to teach his foolish son the meaning of life and killed thousands in the process and she was Tidus, the boy who never existed and loved a Summoner who sang and she was dying because his non-existence was killing her and she was Yuna Braska who loved the people who killed her and her eyes were like her blood and neither one fit in and she was Rikku who loved a dead man and she was Auron who wanted to badly to die if only he could keep his promises and she was Paine who lived like her name and she was Lulu who never told truth or lie, and she was Wakka who's faith was stronger than steel because it easily bent and she was Kimahri who loved his tribe and all of them were dead and screaming because they weren't and Reality was breaking all around them and she was them and they were her and what was wasn't and what wasn't was and she scrambled for pieces that were no longer there and cut herself on the one's that were and they became a part of her and she apart of them and there was a wasteland of Hearts and each one was a key and all was silent and dark and a moon that was and wasn't shown above and she was alone, utterly along and the grass was tall around her knees but none of it was real because they were all dead and only their Hearts remained.

"She said you would be here…" The voice was soft and low, like a rasped whisper, "She said you would be here and here you are." The city streets were empty and shining with rain. Dust formed brown clouds in the rising wind from the lifeless dirt under her feet. She glanced around herself in confusion. Her eyes caught movement. A black hooded figure striding towards her, a cloud of dust blocked her vision and the wind was cold and damp and the stars were so bright in this city.

"This is a birth." The voice murmured, "A birth by sleep in this utter silence…" The dust passed and he rose from his kneeling position, leaning heavily upon his blade. He was short, she noted, his ornate helmet was cracked and damaged and his armor was dented and covered in blood and his eyes were blue, so blue and bright and she was drowning in them and his armor and his body crumbled away and all that was left were those blue blue eyes..

"Please, Goddess on high let them forget me…" She turned and the grass was high until it hit the beach and the ocean was the sky and the sky was the sea and he sat all alone, staring at the waves.

"…let them forgive me…" He stood and the rain lashed against his upturned face and the stars fell from heaven and he was smiling and falling and this was the tallest building in the city. And she as the boy who dreamed and his dreams were reality because this was a birth and he was falling and she was reaching for him, her tears causing ripples on the surface of the world and she was Kairi, the Seventh of Seven, and her hair was like blood and she knew too much and saw too much.

"Something so simple…" The voice whispered and it was Zack Fair all over again and his eyes were inhuman and sad and he wasn't looking at her, but through her but he saw here and she saw him and she was him and he was her and he was already dead.

"Those wings… I want them too…"

"…The memory beyond…" And Kuja was falling, all flame and feathers and blood red hair. A phoenix in reverse.

"What do angels dream of, I wonder…?"

"My friend the fates are cruel, there are no dreams, no honor remains…"

"Something so natural…" And Yuna's dance was that of death and if she never danced again it would be too soon.

"Dreams of the 'morrow hath the shattered soul. Pride is lost. Wings stripped away, the end is nigh."

"I've been having…"

"My soul, corrupted by vengeance hath endured much torment, to find the end of the journey in my own salvation…"

"These weird thoughts, lately… Like…"

"Even if the 'morrow is barren of promises, nothing shall forestall my return. To become the dew that quenches the land. To spare the sands, the seas, the skies. I off thee this silent sacrifice."

"Is any of this for real or not…" And it was she, herself, Rinoa Heartily who was falling with no one to catch her, yet the ground beneath her feet had never been more solid. A sudden shift of perspective and the fields were filled with flowers.

"So you're here, huh…" The voice was so soft and sweet and the warmth at her back breathed with an amused sadness, "Even though you're about to break…" A hand on her arm turned her and the eyes were a green no human could possess.

"Don't worry…" The voice said with a terrible, shuddering sincerity, "Everything's all-" His voice was soft and firm and Zack had never been so serious, "Right now…" And then he smiled and his smile broke her heart for it was reassurance and he was already dead when he promised not to die.

Sky and earth shattered and feathers blinded her and the heavy flap of muscle and skin deafened her and she was alone, utterly alone in the silence. The snow crunched underfoot, but when she touched it she realized it was ashes. The path before her twisted and turned and when she came near it a door barred her path. Before it stood three figures in armor. She stepped closer and the tallest one spoke.

"We are the keepers of the Keys, the guardians of the Heart."

"You who have crossed this threshold must no make a choice." The middle replied.

"Chosen of Cosmos you carry within you the Key of the World. Yet you cannot be who you were or will be." The third said.

"This is a birth." They chorused, pointing heavy gauntlets past her. Rinoa turned. Behind her was her office, completely empty. The pieces of the broken clock hung in mid air like sparkling rain. Metal and glass forming a curtain between herself and her desk.

"You have broken the barriers of time and space, the breath of the world you left behind caught between this moment and next. It cannot remain as thus." Said the first.

"Yet, by the lives you hold in your hand they shall be stilled until you raise the spell you have cast." From the second.

"By the Cosmos' will you have been chosen. By the love you bear and the destiny before you make your choice." Said the third.

"The lives of your loved ones for a few more days of ignorant bliss, or your own life for theirs." They chorused.

"The Darkness rises." The third began.

"The Darkness needs the Seven. But as one born of the Guardian line it shall not be." Said the second.

"The power of a goddess for your place in their hearts." And Rinoa saw him, stilled in his action, staring at the radio, waiting for someone, anyone to call. He was worried. Heartsick and desperate. She was his reason and he was hers.

"What will happen?" She asked.

"You will be dead to them. Unreachable and untouchable as heaven." Answered the first.

"You have to make your choice." They chorused.

"This is a birth." The second said, stepping forward. He took her hand and she nearly screamed in agony, bright flashes of light behind her eyes as she realized that she had been clutching three shards of broken glass in her hand and the shards were sharp and pressed deep. When her eyes cleared she was in darkness, the only light coming from the stain-glassed floor beneath her feet. Before her stood three pedestals. Upon each was a young woman, beautiful in repose, three of the seven seeds that she was apart of. She approached one and saw that the woman was muscular and strong, her fists clenched and ready. Upon her chest was a terrible, slashing scar over her heart. It was old and black.

"The power of the warrior. Invincible courage. A sword of terrible destruction. Is this the weapon you choose?" She stepped away and approached the next pedestal. This woman was delicate and doll like. Fragile. Her folded hands were clasped over her heart as if she prayed. Around her neck was a crystal the size of her fist dangling from a delicate silver chain.

"The power of the mystic. Inner strength. A staff of wonder and ruin. Is this the weapon you choose?" She stepped away and approached the last pedestal. She was a strong, slim woman with a determined set of her jaw and strength of character that defied all. Woven into her hair were man beads that rattled together in a nonexistent breeze.

"The power of the guardian. Kindness to aid friends. A shield to repel all. Is this the weapon you choose?" Stepping back she realized what she would do. For the voice was her own and her path had already been set and she knew what she would do because she was herself and her heart was her own and she would protect him even if he were the only one left. So long as he was alive she could do anything. Striding to the first pedestal she reached down and gripped the first shard of glass, pulling it out with a strangled indrawn breath. With a short cry she slammed the glass into the woman's chest. The woman gasped, brown eyes flying open wide and she sat up and vanished. Striding to the middle pedestal she repeated the motion, pressing the shard into the woman's forehead. She gave a sharp cry and sat up, disappearing. The third shard she broke in half, pressing it the rest of the way into her hand. The remaining half she pressed into the hand of the singer who opened her eyes and smiled through the pain before vanishing. And she saw them as they were. The first was cleaning a row of shot glasses at a bar humming softly to herself a familiar lullaby. The second was singing as she nursed an infant. In the third the young woman danced and song on stage and her joy and emotion turned into power.

"These lives you hold shall make a similar choice. Now reach forward and take hold of the weapon that you shall pass on to the one who shall open the door." Closing her eyes she reached and felt the weight in her hand. Opening her eyes she stared in awe at the ornate, key shaped blade.

"This key, forged from the hearts of those you love, shall be the light that shall save us all." The three chorused, "Have you made your decision?" Slowly she turned to look back at him. A sob caught in her throat and she nodded. Slowly she turned her back on him and strode steadily towards the now opened door.

"I have…" She whispered, "For I hold the mightiest weapon of all… So much to do… So little time…" Slowly the doors shut, leaving only an empty path leading into the darkness…


Kneel in silence; alone
My spirit bares me
Pray for guidance, towards home
In darkest hours