Betas: Thanks to fishuu for help with general flow. Extra props to Luna Manar for help with everything else.
Summary: One-shot. Fly too close to the sun, and you'll burn your wings to ash. Shame he doesn't remember the story until it's too late. Seifer in the Lunatic Pandora.
Warning: Language, mild violence, gore. PG-13.
So this is how it ends.
Seifer feels his lips contort into something halfway between a grin and a sneer as he tries not to laugh at the irony of his situation. Blood in the dust, iron on his tongue, and all he can see is the grimy length of a gunblade shoved straight into his face like some big, fat cosmic joke, saying suck it, while Squall – while Squall fucking looks down on him from on high. It makes him want to hit something, preferably Squall, because that's where he's supposed to be standing. There, in the victor's circle, with the crystal walls pulsing and humming and singing a paean for him alone while Squall and his gang grovel before him, all of them dogs brought to heel.
That's where he's supposed to be standing – but instead he's here, sprawled on his back, belly-up in the dirt with Hyperion trapped beneath Dincht's foot three meters away and his dream crumbling to ashes all around him, and how had it ever come down to this?
Because it isn't supposed to end this way. It was never supposed to end this way, and he doesn't believe in destiny or god or fucking providence, but the way it's all going wrong is so damn perfect that it feels like fate. Like this is where he's been heading his entire life, come hell or high water, and he doesn't remember the road or the pit stops along the way but he's here now and it's the end of the line. The clock's ticking and your time's up, Mr. Almasy.
End of the line.
The walls are chanting a dirge for him, and Seifer watches as Squall takes a step back. Eyes locked together for just a split-second, and then Squall turns around, turns his back to him, and sheathes his gunblade. It's a slap to the face, and Seifer sees red for an instant, tries to snarl, but his throat's filling with blood and rage that won't drain, and he can hardly think past the anger throbbing in his ears like a wave crashing down upon a shore outside of an orphanage so many endless miles and years away. He remembers a dark room, and Ellone's voice, saying, "Fly too close to the sun, and you'll burn your wings to ash." Half-forgotten legends and half-remembered stories, and it's a shame he doesn't remember until it's too late, until it's later than late.
Because up until now it's always been fairytales and romances and knights riding off into the setting sun, and what they've never told him is that once those knights climb over the hill out of sight, they burn. They bake in the heat until the sun sets and then they're left out there for dead, crawling, crawling back on hands and knees to where they came from, trailing the remains of charred wings and dreams after themselves, begging.
Seifer isn't going to beg. He isn't going to crawl, because he's not a damn dog. This isn't his ending, and he's not going out like this. He can't go out like this, because this can't be all he ever amounts to in life. He's not going to be defined by this moment, by this compression of everything into one second before the apocalypse. One slice, one fall, and this is who you are for the rest of eternity: a failure.
And he's not a failure. He may be damned but he's not a failure, and anyone who says he is can go to hell, because this isn't him. If he's going to fall, then he's not going to fall this way, and maybe that's all that matters in the end. That even when the light at the end of the tunnel turns itself into an oncoming train, he stands there and fights and never lets go of his dream.
After all, what's the dreamer without a dream? The answer's easy. Nothing, like the singer without a song or the dancer without a dance. This is all he has, all he's ever been, and all he ever will be, and if it kills him, he'll hold on. If he's got to go out, then he'll go out with such a bang that nobody – nobody – will ever talk about him again like he's nothing, like he's less than nothing.
Revolutionary or knight, it doesn't matter either way. He may be neither of them or both of them, or he may be the most self-delusional dupe in the universe, but it doesn't change the fact that it's not over yet. Lying there in the dust, Seifer watches Squall's retreating back, watches Rinoa's fading figure disappear into the next room through an open doorway overflowing with light, and waits for his chance. It's not over yet, Squall, he snarls. This isn't how it ends.
This is how it begins, he thinks, and lunges for the opening.