~*~ I'll Be Waiting ~*~
Summary: Fujin pays a visit to Seifer after a long time apart, and reminisces about the past. He is unable to reply to her though… or is he? – For all Seifu fans - especially Jennifer Kinneas, who doesn't want me to ever forget my Seifuness.
Foreword: I didn't add 'angst' to the genre description because were there has been joy, and where there is hope, how could there be sorrow? There can only be, at the very least, an ending to pain… or the promise of happiness to come.
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy VIII is property of Squaresoft. No patent infringement is intended.
Hi Seifer, I know that's it's been three years since I was here last time, but as you know I live in Trabia now and… well, lets talk about that later. Nothing much has happened since I last came to see you, as my life has become really quiet and I am barely aware of the passage of time now.
It's a beautiful day, you know. There is a warm breeze, and the sky is blue except for a few fluffy clouds floating away, the kind of nice summer day you loved so much. And, happy birthday! Not that it matters much now, in fact it never mattered much to you, but anniversaries and birthdays always were milestones to me. You understood and respected that. So happy birthday, Seifer, for what it's worth.
Do you remember our little cottage in Balamb? I donated it ten years ago to your foundation to help troubled youths, and they turned it into a real shrine. They even put on display those boxers I had custom-made for you, the ones with little gunblades and crosses on them. I guess that people need heroes, and you have become a legend, you are the Knight who erred and then amended himself. You are an inspiration to many, and the foundation has helped scores of people find their way. Seifer, you wanted to leave your mark in the world, and you have succeeded even more than you ever dreamt.
You know, the past brings back so many wonderful memories. I've kept those moments as precious pearls on a necklace that I wear on my soul, and in which I find comfort when I feel sad or life is too much to bear.
I remember when I first met you. I was living in the streets with Raijin and we ended up in Balamb, and you convinced us to enroll in Garden. We were just two lost kids hurt by life, and who had run away from abusive families. But you always treated us with respect, when others loathed us, and you changed our lives for the better.
Of course, at first I thought that you were an arrogant bastard. With time I understood that you simply were blinded by your high aspirations and ideals. You wanted to change the world and we believed in you, but then things went so wrong… when I turned on you I was sure that you would hate me forever, that maybe you would even kill me, but I loved you already back then… I loved you enough to save you from you from yourself, and live accepting, or dying from the consequences.
Even now there are people who argue about us being mind-controlled by Ultimecia, and it is true that we had to be willing to have been so easily subdued. But in the end we paid dearly for our mistakes, and you the most. There's one thing that always remained true, you were a born leader, a true Knight. You turned yourself over to Garden and pleaded for Raijin and me, regardless of the cost to yourself. Even Squall Leonhart was impressed by your courage and selflessness, and I think it is why he gave us a second chance. It all worked out well in the end, didn't it?
Our first date, oh I still laugh when I think about it. Selphie pestered me for two whole weeks to agree on a blind date with a 'friend' of hers, and as I was waiting in front of the Deling Hotel I remember wanting to strangle her. And then I saw my 'blind date'; he was tall and proud of bearing, stylishly dressed in black pants, charcoal blazer, white shirt and tie. He was so handsome, so perfect… he was the man of my dreams.
"Fujin? Did Selphie annoy you into this blind date too?" you asked, to which I replied "She drove me crazy!" – From that moment on I gave much more credit to my spirited friend's cleverness, for she had seen what you and I had hidden from ourselves.
That evening is one of those pearls I preciously keep, Seifer. You brought me to that little, unpretentious restaurant, for you knew that I didn't like crowded places, and I had what was the best time of my life up to then. But more was to come, as we took a walk in Deling's park and we sat on the grass – you gallantly made me sit on your blazer, so I wouldn't ruin my dress. We gazed at the stars, and then you leaned and… I thought my heart would burst when your lips touched mine.
I was so sure that it would only be a one-time thing, but then you asked me out again and again, and finally you proposed to me. I'll never forget that night when you went through all that trouble to prepare a special meal, and then it burned and I nearly choked on the engagement ring you put in my Champagne. I just couldn't believe it, for I never thought that I was entitled to such happiness… I never thought I was deserving of a man like you.
Our wedding… it rained that day, but in my heart there was only sunlight, blue skies, and the expanse of the ocean – like I always saw in your beautiful sea-green eyes. So many things had changed in my life by then, as Selphie had gotten me accepted in her circle, and I had started speech therapy to get rid of my stuttering. I was so happy to be able to recite my vows in a normal voice, without choking on the words. I still go through the routine, you know, but when I get upset I sometimes talk loudly in two-words sentences again.
I remember when I woke up that day… well, to tell the truth, Selphie woke me up by bouncing on my bed. And then she, Rinoa, Quistis, Xu and Chrissy - remember those pigtails she used to wear? - helped me to get ready. Rinoa made a remark about how special it would be, to be with you as man and wife for the first time, but they didn't know that it would be our first time, period. I would have been with you before, for I ached to feel your touch, but you wanted to do things right and told me that certain things were worth waiting for.
I knew that you were a good man, Seifer, and that night I also realized that you were a decent one. When I showed you the scars on my back, those painful reminders of my unhappy childhood, I was sure you would repudiate me. I told you that I would understand if you wanted a divorce, and that I would still be grateful for that one perfect day in my life.
And then you cradled me in your arms, and you told me that nothing could be done about the past, but that we had our whole lives to look forward to. You vowed never to hurt me, and to never allow anyone to hurt me ever again. You always kept that promise…
You told me that I was beautiful, and you were so convincing that you made me believe it too…
You really made me feel attractive and special that night, as you would always do from then on. We sealed our love in a way that still holds meaning to me. I remember the passion and desire in your eyes, and you treated me like something precious and treasured, you were so gentle and caring… you made that perfect day something wonderful and unforgettable.
And then came Axandra, she always was Daddy's little girl, and don't even try to deny it. When I found out that I was pregnant it was another precious pearl, and then when she was born you were so happy and proud. Over the years you were a great father, and the best husband a woman could hope for. I know that, due to your rivalry with Squall, you wouldn't openly show full acceptance of our daughter marrying Lagos Leonhart. I also know that you were fond of our son-in-law, and you were happy for Axandra. Both you and Squall never stopped being stubborn though.
Just kidding, you know that I loved you for your strength and your principles. And after all, Axandra and Lagos gave us beautiful grandchildren and enriched our lives even more. I can hardly believe that I am now a great-grandmother, I just didn't see time fly by. They are all good-looking, tall, and most of our grand and great-grandchildren have sea-green eyes, they must have gotten that from you.
Do you remember Aki? You wanted to kill Selphie for giving us that kitten! And then you got attached to our little cat, proving to me once more how much love you had to give. Some of Aki's descendants have found homes with our grandchildren, it's like some things are always connected in the end.
Now, I don't want you to misunderstand, for I am not lonely. After I became unable to live by myself, Selphie invited me to move in with her and her family, as you know. They are wonderful to me, and they treat me as kin. Axandra, her children and grandchildren come to visit quite often, but I understand that they have their own lives to live and I don't want to be a burden.
Selphie is still her old bubbly self, as she hasn't run out of energy yet and is still involved in many projects. I know that she misses Irvine dearly since he died in that stupid snowmobile accident, but I guess she loves life too much to be depressed. Just by being herself, she has helped me to cope and make the most out of it, but…
…But I miss you, Seifer.
It's been sixteen years since you left, and one would think that time heals all wounds… but no, I still ache to be with you. Sometimes at night, I wake and I try to find you beside me, like when I had those terrible nightmares – another poisoned gift from my childhood. You would then hold me, and comfort me with gentle words until the fear passed. You never berated me for waking you in the middle of the night, not even when you had had a bad day or were weary. With time the bad dreams stopped, and it's all thanks to you.
As I said, I wake and it takes a few moments before I realize that you are gone… and that you will never be beside me again. I wonder if it's why I have those recurring dreams about you… I find myself in our house, the one that holds so many memories -like when you took me in your arms to cross the threshold, when we came back from our honeymoon, or when Axandra took her first steps- and I walk into the yard to see a bridge in the distance.
I walk on that bridge, my bare feet stepping on warm stone, and I look down at my body and I am young again. On the other side I see a vast expanse made of clouds, and I know that when I reach it I'll be in Heaven, but blocking my way there you are with your arms open wide to embrace me.
I hear your sweet voice telling me, "It is not time yet." And then I turn away, walk back towards our home and I hear you whispering, "I'll be waiting, Fuu…" When I wake in the morning, after one of those of those dreams, I feel refreshed and with new energy flowing through my veins. I also realized that each time I dream of you that way, I get closer and closer to your awaiting arms. I have never been a religious person, but I wonder if it is all the delusions of an old woman… or if it means something.
I don't know if there is an afterlife, or even if you can hear me, but if you can I want you to know that I don't regret a thing. If I had to relive my life, with the pain included, I would do it all again if it meant spending all those wonderful years with you.
I used to think that life was just a thing to get over with. I used to wish that I would go to sleep at night, and never awake. And then you came…
Thank you, my love, for making my life worth living, teaching me that it is the most wonderful of gifts, giving me so many reasons to embrace a new day, and for all the joy you've given me…
I love you, Seifer…
I have always loved you, and I always will – that is something that even Death can't change. You were the first, you were the last, and you were the only one for me.
We made a vow long ago, about the one leaving first to prepare a place for the one remaining behind. At the time, I didn't think much of it, for you always were the romantic one. I thought it was one more of those adorable ideas of yours. But now… If somehow you hear me, I hope that you haven't forgotten about me, and I hope that you are waiting for me…
I have to go now, as I see our great-granddaughter Celeste coming to drive me back to Balamb Garden. You would be proud of her, my love, she's only fifteen and already graduated with honors. They're having a graduation ball tonight, I am to be the guest of honor, and will give a short lecture. By the way, I'll be staying in Garden for a while. They were nice enough to let me have my old dorm back, but I don't think I'll be able to come and visit you again.
You see, Seifer, I am dying. The cancer has come back and metastasized. I could go through therapy again, but what's the point? I'll be 90 years old this year, and the treatment would give me a few more months, but make me feel even sicker. The painkillers are all that keep me going now, but they are ravaging my body and my mind. I am not scared, you know, for I have lived a long and full life and I'll soon join you.
~ I'll be waiting ~
"Granny, are you ready to go?"
Oh, Celeste, yes. Please help me up dear.
"Say, Granny, who were you talking to?"
Just to myself, Sweetie. I was reminiscing about the past out loud.
"I could swear that I heard a man's voice saying something about 'waiting'"
Wha..? Must be voices carried by the wind…
"Yeah, must be…"
As Fujin and her great-granddaughter walked away towards their awaiting vehicle, the wind blew through the leaves of the majestic tree looking over Seifer Almasy's grave. In the gentle breeze flew faint words… or was it just an illusion?
~ I'll be waiting, my love ~
~ I'll be waiting… ~
~*~ THE END ~*~