A red light blinks incessantly.
There are times when, through the hot whirl of delirium, he wakes up and sees the light, and the throbbing flicker of it becomes the blaze of fira magic and the vengeful glare of spiteful eyes.
The smoothness of metal is familiar to his touch; fingers curl instinctively around steel, tighter and tighter never know when he might make the first move and steel toed boots are surprisingly nimble, leaping and twisting out of harm's way. He never remembers smirking like that, but there it is, leering at the triumph of leaving his mark on the other's face, only – with a flicker of storm grey his own face is dripping matching crimson and the hair that hangs in front of emerald eyes is suddenly brown.
The burst of adrenaline is a welcome relief, and his limbs flow with tingling life. The coldness of metal beneath his feet, the rickety clatter of wheels on tracks, the continuous pacing that keeps beat to the refrain echoing in his mind. How dare they. How dare they. How dare they. Fools Fools Fools foolsfoolsfoolsfoo
"Blood pressure still unusually high, slight rise in temperature, seemingly agitated and hallucinative, but otherwise stable for the time being. He's had a rough night."
"Well, increase the amount of fluids and keep him under tighter surveillance. Fever's got to break sometime, and no telling what might happen when it does."
"What are you going to do about her? She keeps asking to see him."
"Hyne, who would've thought that her of all people…might as well let her in, then. Maybe he might respond." /
It's cold here. The blinding flash of light leaves him blinking, the chill of the room permeates his very bones. Is this it? It has to be, taking in the glittering frost clinging to saturated walls and the way his breath leaves his body in puffs of smoky vapor. Redemption. He thought it would taste sweet; rather the thought is acrid on his tongue, but he swallows greedily anyway. You called, and I have delivered. Box of the moon, Pandora's box of all evil – you contain more power than can ever be imagined and the end of the world is near.
Wait a minute. Hold on and wait. Listen. There is something missing; something important, something he can't remember. Grasp vainly at shifting recollection; obsidian lakes and ominous warnings, caring hands and lessons taught in a classroom, what is it what is it he can't recall, something bad, something that is wrong. What he's doing is wrong, his dream is lost and his friends are enemies.
I'll be waiting. I promise.
That story isn't his. An intersecting life, another he knows well. A raven-haired girl? No girl, only golden. It belongs to someone else.
What was he looking for again? Never mind, he can't seem to remember…
/ "How long has he been like this?"
"Couple a days now."
"Then…how is it?"
"…no vital changes have been reported. He doesn't seem to be responding or getting…any better. If not, worse."
"I was afraid of that."
"It wasn't really his fault, you know. It was as much our fault as his. He didn't mean to, I don't think, we all knew him as a child, and by the end I think he was so lost he didn't know anymore – "
"There's nothing you can do to change anything. You guys were lucky to even get out alive. Others…were not so lucky. Look, go get some rest. You look terrible."
"We were children. Taught to kill without question or feeling. We were children! What the hell did we know?!" /
Glorious. That's what he first thought when he saw her. Crowned in gold and ornate splendor, eyes shadowed violet and slim hands that beckoned, beckoned, luring and enchanting.
Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec.
Fluttering of black feathers, so slight they embrace her, clinging to hips and the curve of her mysterious smile. The soft interlacing of raven wings, like rose petals and the brush of angel wings, only not, because white cannot. Or the snatches of hymn that echo in her footfalls. Melody of gilded walls, faded and peeling, and the distinct smell of curling incense. He can almost fly, lost within the rhythm of mantra, fingertips brushing the dark sky. Fallen angel, she calls him, and he smiles surreptitiously, like her.
For you, I would follow to the edge of the world. I would see as your eyes see, and all shall fall before you.
/ "How did they find him?"
"Off the coast of Balamb. Just floating on the swell of the sea, his coat in tatters. Thought he was dead at first. I mean, he came out of nowhere."
"How did he even get there?"
"How did you even make it back? I mean, who knows. Right after compression, when the skies opened up. Hyne, maybe he just fell out of time."
"…Nothing. I was only thinking out loud. Oh Lucifer, fallen angel of darkness."
"Then Hyne help us all." /
The red is in his eyes now. He shies away, resentment gradually burning into a fiery fury deep within. The bitter taste of residual magic is in his mouth, the harsh clamor of steel striking steel, of combat and terror, deafens his ears. He will triumph, and it is victory, not the stickiness of sweat, that he feels upon his palms. He has not lost his dream, he has become it, and what of friends? They are only faces in the mob, blurred and lost in the crowd; only hateful eyes wishing to destroy his hopes. Whirl the blade, hurl the magic flying forth from fingertips, dash and dodge and twirl and leap and slash. The crimson staining his hands is only the reflection of fira magic, not blood. Never blood.
Blinking red. It's always red, blood red, scarlet red, seeping and staining his hands, the world. Maybe not. Maybe it is the flashing light that bubbles to the surface of his memory suddenly; a light belonging to a white tower on the sands of the shore. A guide for ships lost in storm, a house of stone, an orphanage by the sea. Was it so long ago? The laughter of children, of play fights, snub nose, tattle-tale, crybaby, cowboys, strawberries and grey eyes. Not grey, green! There is no scar, only green. His eyes are green. But he remembers acutely. Hair that turned brown, eyes that became storm grey. No!
It's always remembering, remembering something I can't remember. I killed you! I am alone, always, and my eyes are green
/ "What's happening?!"
"Shit. Grab his arms! Hold him down! Sector 411, can you hear me? Sector 411, we have a situation here. Code 212 – "
"What's going on?! He was fine he was fine I swear he was fine a moment ago – "
"Shit. Shit. Shit. Steady the monitor. Heart rate speeding up, blood pressure on the rise…steady there."
"Just calm down. We'll take care of this." /
Seeping through his being, a feeling – warm and deliciously delightful. What is it? Belonging. Faces of those he once knew, do they still remember him? That brings him back…remembering. There is something he has forgotten, something lost. What is it? Can't remember. He'll find it later.
Thrashing. He wants to go, but he seems to be held down. Help, help me. But how can he ask for help after what he's done?
What did I do?
Fishing on a weatherworn pier, tangled in the lines, laughing at the burly man who topples into the blue water, at the slim woman who pushes him in. The smell of the sea is fresh, the breeze salty and warm against his face.
The mist surrounding him is thick, and only vague outlines can be made out. The dust beneath his feet rises in a stifling cloud, settling into golden hair. Golden hair – there she is, out of the mist.
Golden tresses tumbling down the slope of her shoulder, the curve of her cheek the smoothness of skin the sky of her eyes – golden beauty, and it is beauty in its purest form. He thinks he knows her; he's known her forever. Is this what might have been?
I'll be waiting, I promise.
This isn't the way it was supposed to happen.
/ "Come back to us!
Don't leave. Please." /
Things are upside down now. Sand in his face, feet in the sky, the other made the promise, she was supposed to wait. Echoes of an anguished cry. Gentle hands soothe his face, wipe away the tears, like something he has forgotten; a poignancy in the life of a little boy.
/ "Seifer." /
Ah, he remembers now. It comes to him, unbidden, like the soft rustling of golden wings. He remembers now, green and gold; remembers the name and the promise, always the promise. Those faces by his side, they are of his comrades from old, friends for always.
The name though, holds a message. Contains a meaning he can't ever afford to forget. It is his bane, his curse. His regret.
That is who he is.
But maybe it doesn't matter anymore, this old life; maybe he has been forgiven, maybe he can begin anew. Time is gone, the edge of the world, time can neither erase nor reverse because there is no time anymore.
/ "The monitor…
…it's stopped." /
The red light has stopped, and all is still, except for the trembling of raven wings and the dusting of golden feathers.
Standing at the edge of time, the chasm is deep but he is weightless and ready to fall, once more. Maybe when the world is healed, he can begin life anew. Shedding years, only to find that underneath he is human after all.
So he lies there, spreading wings.