Disclaimer: All characters and situations from the games FFVIII and FFX are property of
Squaresoft. I do not claim ownership of any of them. However, I do own any characters that I
created myself or my co-author, ie. Vira Eronwil, Dorin Vachon, Kravis, ect. That's about it.
You know the drill. We do this for fun and no profit. Yadda, yadda, yadda.



Final Fantasy: Beyond

by Eve and Nightstalker



Chapter 1
Afterthoughts

1. Committment

Everyone talks about committment, and family. Concepts that Squall Leonhart had never
been too familiar with. Yes, he committed to his missions as a SeeD, and had to commit to being
the Commander, and everything else that pertained to his job. Squall was committed. But family,
that was a concept he wasn't too sure he knew about. And committment in the sense of a lasting,
life long lasting, relationship.

Don't get him wrong, he loved Rinoa. More than he could express into words. He had tried,
a few times, but he always lost grasp of what he was trying to say. He had known her for almost
three years, and had spent every one of them in a relationship with her. Ever since he met her,
he knew there was something special about Rinoa Heartilly. In her deep brown eyes, her streaked
dark hair, her smile, the way she brought the best out of him. There was not much about her he
didn't love. Like anyone, however, Rinoa was apt to get on Squall's nerves from time to time.
The times when he needed peace and quiet and she'd be going on and on about something. She was
lively, and talkative. Both of which were a contrast to him.

He still loved her. God, did he. He still didn't understand why, and how it really could
be, but he did. And she knew it. He didn't have to say it, though he had tried a few times, and
succeeded even less, but he knew that she could tell. He could see it in her big, beautiful eyes.

Then there was the conversation. Aw, damn Seifer and Quistis for getting married so
quickly, and damn Selphie and Irvine for getting engaged so quickly. Now Squall was left behind,
with Rinoa waiting and expecting The Conversation, or The Proposal any day now. His friends'
rush into their relationships only made him more confused.

He loved her. She loved him. Why not just ask her?

Well, maybe because he wasn't ready. Was she really the one for him for the rest of his
life?

Of course she was. That's what his heart would tell him constantly. But he had nagging
doubts if he was ready. Yet, the way his friends were acting, he didn't have long to contemplate
this.

There was always that conversation when Quistis asked Rinoa when she was getting married.
Rin sure had it out with Squall that night, feeling bad that she was the only girl in their group
of friends who wasn't married or getting married. Squall tried to point out that Zell wasn't
engaged, only dating the library girl, Lilly, but that made no difference to her.

"Dammit, Squall, I know you love me. What difference would it make if you just asked?"

She'd said that. His only answer was that he didn't want to be rushed into it by anyone,
his friends, or her. And he'd always reassure her, he'd ask her someday. Just...not today.

It was never today.

And usually it was enough for Rinoa. He loved her for that. She'd let it go for the
moment and everything would be fine again.

But the more Squall waited, the more nervous he got. He knew he'd have to do it sometime
soon. He just hated the formality of it all. He loved her, she loved him. Wasn't that enough? He
guessed a ring and a ceremony made it more official for girls. They liked that sort of thing.

Well, not all of them. That was a different story.

Then there was the ring. Yes, he'd taken the first step and gotten the ring to give to
her. Squall Leonhart wasn't the most romantic guy in the world, but he had ideas of what made
Rinoa happy. Sometimes romantic creativity would hit even him.

Sitting at his desk in his new office, Squall reached into his pocket, pulling out the
ring. He never got a box for it. It was strictly custom made by Zell. He'd always been good at
that. Getting a copy of Griever's ring was easy for Zell. With the adjustments Squall had paid
for and suggested, Zell had been able to do it easily. Not without thinking that he should open
up a jewlery store and getting a stern threat from Squall to not breathe a word of the ring to
anyone. Zell agreed, but Squall knew better. It would probably reach Selphie by the end of the
week, who would tell Irvine, who would tell Quistis, who would tell Seifer and Rinoa, and then
Seifer would tease him about it.

Some rivalries don't exactly go away. They just change form.

Squall took the ring in his hands, looking at it and turning it slowly with his gloved
finers. It was a replica of his Griever ring, but a lot smaller, to fit Rinoa's finger. It was
gold, a drastic difference to the one she wore on her necklace. And in its eye was a small
diamond. In its claws was a small ruby. Squall would've gotten bigger stones for it, but couldn't
spend all the money he wanted on it. There were still other expenses.

He was amazed at how Zell had been able to do it. Zell's skill with this sort of thing
had been increasing every year. He made most of the weapons for new students at Garden these days
and became the instructor to those who wanted to fight with their fists.

Zell had told Squall how proud he was of the ring. And that Squall had come to him for
the job. Said it made him feel special, a part of the family.

They were his family. But starting one with Rinoa wasn't something Squall wanted just
yet.

And that's what kept him from giving her the ring. If she expected him to just up and
be a father immediately, he wasn't going to do it. No way. He was only 20 for Hyne's sake. There
was plenty of time to have kids...later. When they weren't so scary...and tiny...

So that was that. He'd give her the ring. They'd talk about kids much later. Like when he
was 30. Or even later than that...maybe not at all. Yeah, that'd be fine with Squall. He'd give
Rinoa the ring.

Later. Tomorrow.

Squall put the ring back in his pocket. Today was a bad day to propose to anyone, even
he knew it. He hated today. He'd only known her for a few weeks, but had felt that connection.
A family connection. Like he understood her. Like she was...a sister. Not like Ellone, who was
older and had looked out for him. More like one his age. Like a twin.

Well, with the way she had acted, no one would've been surprised if that had been
actually true.

It had been two years, but he still missed her. He didn't know how it was possible to
miss someone as a friend so much after only knowing her for such a short time, but he still did.
Squall Leonhart was a man who would admit defeat from his emotions when he had to. When it came
to his friends, he did.

He could imagine what she might've said to him about this whole marriage thing. She'd
probably call him nuts and say that if Rinoa made him happy, just go for it, and worry about the
rest when it came. Live in the moment, plan for the future. That was probably what she'd say.

Squall sighed.

He would've wanted to talk to her about it. It was hard to talk to Zell about it. He was
still in the dating phase. He still didn't understand where Squall was coming from.

She had. Like Rinoa. They knew where he was coming from. But there was no way to talk to
Rinoa about it until he was ready. So she would've been the best choice.

Squall realized he was regretting the past again. He had a habit of it. He would look
back and think of everything he missed, everything he wished he had. And then he'd feel bad
about it. As Rinoa had said, he'd get that frowning look on his face, and hold his head in his
hand as he slouched over. Some things never changed.

But time still marched on. With or without his friend. The only one he'd ever really
lost.

Despite how little time he spent with her, Vira Eronwil was someone he wanted to call a
friend. Hell, a good friend. They had accepted her into the group as she was, no strings
attached. He had immediately respected her for her unusual weapons and status as a soldier and
SeeD. Then she had earned more respect when she had stood up to Seifer on her first day in
Garden. And after he had talked to her, she had earned his friendship, whether she knew it or
not. He knew her type, he had been there. She wouldn't understand it until much later on. But she
had, in the end.

And no matter how many years, one, two, or ten, he still missed her, and what kind of
friends they all could've been.

He also felt bad for Dorin, who had been closer to her than he had. She had really let
Dorin in, under those walls that Squall knew so well. He still had some of his own. But, Vira,
she'd let Dorin in, maybe because he had never given up. He had pestered her and followed her
until the very end. Everyone knew how much he cared about her. And people began to know that she
cared for him two.

Something meaningful could have come from that. Something like he had with Rinoa.

If only they had found another way.

That's what bothered Squall. No matter what people said, that it was all her decision,
that there had been no other way, he still felt guilty that she had died. Like it was his fault.
He was her leader, and her friend, and he had failed her. He never found a different was to stop
Xana, and in the end it cost his friend her life.

She was braver than he thought possible.

She had deserved better than death and a small memorial every year.

Squall slammed his hand on the desk. It thudded loudly and echoed through his office.
Dammit, she had deserved better from him as a friend.

Two years. It had been two years to the day since Vira Eronwil had taken down Sorceress
...Xana...Naxa...Anarix, whoever she was, in the Silver Siren. It had crashed into the ocean,
and all that had ever surfaced of her was her jacket. No one could search the Siren, the magic
residue was still too powerful. Somehow, it was fitting. No one wanted to really search there,
and find her inside. No one wanted to see it.

After Squall would finish his paperwork, the endless stream of paperwork that annoyed
him to no end, he'd head down to the Quad where Selphie was setting up a small memorial. Just
the same as last year. They would get together, talk a little, and leave. That would be that,
and people wouldn't think about her for another year, unless they had the odd moment where she'd
pop into their minds.

Somehow, that didn't feel right to Squall. But there was nothing he could do. All he
could do was be there. Paperwork done in time or not, he'd be there.

He wondered if Dorin would come this year too. Being Lord of House Vachon was bound to
be more stressful than Commander of SeeDs. Would he have the time? Probably not. But Dorin would
make the time. This was the one thing he'd make the time for. Other than this ritual, Squall had
not seen Dorin more than once a year. Everyone was busy with their own lives. Busy. Busy.

Squall checked the clock on his desk. Eleven o'clock in the morning. Time for him to be
heading down to the memorial service. He stood up, patting his pocket with the ring inside.
Squall had decided; tomorrow he would propose to Rinoa. That was all there was to it. For today,
he would remember Vira, a friend he wish he had known better.

2. Somber Memorial

"It's very pretty Selphie," said Rinoa, smelling the one rose in a glass vase, placed in
front of the memorial. She, Selphie and Irvine had been the first to arrive. Since this was
during classes, no one else occupied the Quad at the time. The plaque was still shining and new
looking, with each name carefully etched into it, with Vira's at the top of the list. The Quad
was quiet, peaceful. It was a good setting to do it. Like it had been the year before. The lush
green trees, and the soothing sound of the water lapping underneath the stairs was a compliment
to the occasion. Benches were towards the other wall, where students usually just sat and chatted
about teachers and homework during free periods or after classes. Now they were all empty, except
for Irvine, leaning his back against the wall.

Selphie smiled sadly. "Thanks. I figured anything bigger and it'd be offensive. And it
had to be red. That was just..."

"Fitting," Rinoa finished.

Selphie nodded. "Yeah. Fitting." She took a seat on one of the benches a few feet away,
sitting next to Irvine, who was fiddling with some string on his cowboy hat. Rinoa followed them.

"Say, did he get here yet?" Irvine asked, without looking up from his hat.

Rinoa shook her head. "I don't know. I didn't hear anyone come in yet."

"He'll be here," Selphie stated. "He wouldn't miss it."

Quistis and Seifer entered the Quad, taking a seat on the bench next to the other one.
Even Seifer seemed a little subdued, for him. He made no sarcastic comments, just leaned back,
balancing his left leg on his right. He hadn't stopped doing that. Quistis, on the other hand,
sat up straight, her hands folded in her lap. She sighed a little and looked at the other three.

"Zell isn't here yet?" she asked.

Selphie shook her head. "Nope. He said he had something to finish up first and he'd be
here in a few minutes."

"And Squall?"

"He said he'd be down as soon as he finished some paperwork on new students or
something," Rinoa replied. "Although, I have a feeling he'll just blow it off and be here in a
miunte."

Irvine looked up from his hat. "Hey, wasn't Laguna gonna come?"

"I called the Presidential Palace about it," Quistis answered,"and Kiros said that he
was planning to come, but he'd stopped at Winhill to visit Raine's grave and he hadn't heard
from him since."

Zell jogged in, his jacket hanging off his shoulders. He looked at his friends, panting
for air. "Sorry...am...I late?"

"Nah, we haven't started yet," Irvine said.

"Oh...good..." Zell breathed out, collapsing next to Quistis.

Squall suddenly appeared on the stairway, he still had a knack for being quiet. He had
no true expression on his face, but Rinoa could tell in his eyes that he was sad about this. They
all still were. She herself hadn't been in the best of spirits lately, with her father's death
anniversary just a few days before. There was so much death at that time, and now whenever it
rolled around, she would become unhappy. Rinoa had begun to dislike the time of year. And hated
who caused it even more, although she was dead and gone. Xana had taken so much, and it still
hurt. It made her more angry to see Squall hurting, although he'd never say it. Rinoa got up from
her seat and walked over to him.

"Hi," she said.

Squall nodded, quietly replying, "Hey."

"Saved you a seat."

"Thanks."

Rinoa tried to smile a little. "You have that thoughtful look on your face again."

"I have a--"

"Lot on my mind," Quistis finished. Squall gave her a sharp look and she chuckled a
little. "I'm sorry, Squall. A bad habit."

"Or that you're predictable," Seifer said, opening his mouth for the first time since
arriving.

Squall stayed silent for a moment, before shaking his head and saying, "...Whatever."

"And that one we never saw coming," added Seifer.

Rinoa looked at Seifer. "Alright, that's enough you guys," she said with a tone of voice
that was soft, but still got across that she meant what she said. She looked at Squall. "We can
talk about what's on your mind later."

Squall shrugged. "I guess," he replied. "Is everyone here yet?"

Rinoa shook her head. "We were still expecting your fath--Laguna--to come. And Dorin."

"I doubt Laguna's gonna make it," Squall said.

"Alright," said Rinoa. "Come sit down. We'll wait for Dorin for a few more minutes."

Squall followed her, sitting on the edge of the bench as Rinoa and Selphie started a
quiet conversation about something he wasn't paying attention to. He looked at the bronze plaque
on the wall, where the rose was sitting underneath. For the first time, Squall wondered why they
hadn't gotten Vira a proper grave. All she had was a plaque, shared with the other brave SeeDs
and students who had died during the Third Sorceress War. Didn't Vira deserve her own grave?
Maybe no one had bothered because there was a part of them that just wanted to believe she was
alive somewhere, and she just hadn't made it home yet. Squall had that distant hope in him,
though it was covered by more layers of so called logic and doubt telling him there was no way
she could still be alive. Logic just stated that there was nothing for them to bury, just a
jacket that had been boxed up and stored with the rest of her stuff. No point of a grave if
there was nothing to bury, right?

No, that wasn't true. That logic was faulty. Of course there were graves where nothing
had been buried. No body, anyway. It was just a marker for that person, something that people
could come to and see.

So why did no one give Vira a grave?

Hope, Squall guessed. Hope that she was somewhere else, but alive. It was illogical and
impossible at best. But it was still there. Squall stared at the memorial, realizing how
confusing it all seemed. And unfair.

Squall heard footsteps click on the polished floor of the Quad. He looked up and saw
Dorin walking down the stairs to join everyone else. Squall got up to greet him.

"Hey," he greeted quietly.

Dorin merely nodded. He never said much on this day. And no one ever brought her up on
any other day either with him. They knew there was still a hole in his heart where Vira used to
be. And that hole had yet to heal, and some thought that it never would.

Squall nodded to the benches. "Saved a seat for you." He sighed and looked at the
plaque. "Two years already..."

"Two more than necessary," Dorin muttered.

"Yeah. It still feels so wrong," Squall replied. He sighed. "We were all planning to
just talk for a little while. If there's anything you want to say, feel free."

Dorin merely nodded in response.

Squall walked back to his seat next to Rinoa. She waved to Dorin. "Hi," she said. "How
are you?"

"Been better," he replied before he walked over to the plaque and stood silently.

Rinoa looked at Squall sadly. "He's not getting any better is he?"

"Don't think so," Squall replied, shaking his head. "He knew her better than we did. It
must be really hard on him."

"I wish there was something we could do," Rinoa said quietly.

Squall nodded.

"He's gotta snap out of it sometime," Zell commented.

Rinoa frowned. "Doesn't look like he is. He hardly comes to see us anymore. Things got
better for us, but I don't think they got better for him." She looked at Squall. "Why don't you
go say something, get it all started."

Squall didn't reply, but stood up instead, letting his actions speak for themselves. He
walked over to the plaque, and looked at Dorin. "We're...gonna start now."

Dorin nodded, and said nothing as he walked over to the benches, taking a seat on the
far end. Squall cleared his throat.

"Here we are...again. It's been two years today since the Siren sank, and all those
SeeDs and students who died there...Like Vira. After all this time, I still have a hard time
grasping that concept. We're all friends here, and we've all been through a lot. But...we've
all made it through. We never really lost one of our own. And sure, we only knew her for a few
weeks but that's who she was. One of our own. She was a SeeD, like most of us, and a fighter.
She wasn't easy to get to know, but in the end, we were her friends. I think we all know that.
It sickens me to think about how unfair this all is. It does. To this day, I still think there
should've been something we--I--could've done to keep her from dying. She saved us all, and her
reward is to die? Hyne really does have a sick sense of humor."

Rinoa frowned. "Squall..."

He shook his head. "No, it needs to be said. We're all trying to move on with our lives.
And some have done it better than others. But, it still bothers me that after two years, we only
talk about her on one day. It's not her birthday, it's the day her life ended. While we're all
getting ready to be married or running countries or teaching classes, she's dead. Where is the
justice in all this? She singlehandedly did what we'd done before, and she dies? I don't
understand. I really don't. And that after these last two years, she still does not have a
grave. Just this plaque. She deserves better."

Seifer frowned. "You're talkin like she's still alive somewhere."

"No, I'm not. But, if she was alive, she woulda been here by now. So what are we waiting
for? She needs more than a name engraved on some brass plate. One name in a list of at least a
dozen other names. It's a terrible loss when anyone dies. But, it hurts more because she was a
friend." Squall sighed. "I just hope that she got what she really deserved, wherever she is, and
that she's happy. Because, I know she was hardly ever happy. She deserved some happiness."

3. An Old Will And A New Problem

The rest of the service hadn't went all that well. Dorin had said a few words, very few,
keeping it brief and to the point. Everyone could tell how much he still missed her. It was the
look in his icy blue eyes that told it, more than his lack of words, or the words he actually
said. He and Squall had talked for a few minutes after the service, and Squall had told him to
come visit more often, everyone there missed seeing him. Dorin said he would, but he had said
that the year before. In truth, Squall knew he'd go back to Draconia and overbook himself with
meetings and such. He didn't blame him, but tried to remind him that he didn't have to be alone.
Coming from him, it sounded weird. Squall still found saying the words odd, even after all this
time. He knew Dorin wouldn't listen, but at least he'd been told. Squall would probably overbook
himself as well, though with both their jobs, it wasn't difficult to do so. Squall wasn't sure if
Dorin had actually left Garden yet to go back to Draconia, but it didn't matter. He probably had
and would be the last he'd see of him until next year, or whenever Irvine and Selphie decided to
get married, if he decided to come to that. By the afternoon, Squall was back in his office,
looking over his paperwork again. He had told Rinoa there was something he wanted to talk about,
but said it'd have to wait until tomorrow. Today was just a day for quiet reflection. Everyone
would get back to their pseudo-quasi happy existence tomorrow and for the life of him, Squall
would try to do it too.

That ring would stay in his pocket until tomorrow. There was no two ways about it.

Xu poked her head into Squall's new office (made especially for him by Cid, though Squall
had protested), clearing her throat.

"Squall?"

He looked up from his work. "What?"

Xu's eyes darted into the hallway. "President Loire's here to see you, with a Mrs. Feabie
Ryneriz."

Squall's eyebrows jutted downward, a scowl coming over his face already. Laguna missing
Vira's service was one thing. He knew he wasn't going to show up. Hell, the man hadn't shown up
for most of his goddamn life and now said he wanted to make up for it. But now he had the nerve
to show up with some woman he'd never heard of. Squall wasn't interested in anything his "father"
had to say to him, but couldn't waste the time explaining why he couldn't see him. "Fine," he
grumbled. "Send them in."

Xu's head disappeared behind the door, with Laguna and Mrs. Ryneriz's heads taking her
place.

Laguna looked as he usually did; nervous. These days, Laguna was always nervous around
Squall. Since admitting to him that he was his father a year ago, Squall made it known in every
way possible that he was angry at Laguna. The man had abandoned him. All those years, and never
a word. How could he have not known about his own son? The worst of it was, Laguna had known
ever since the problems with Ultimecia, but had put off telling him until way after the next
sorceress, Xana, had bitten the dust. All that time he had known and not said a word. Laguna
said that he meant to, but always lost track of the time, but he wanted to make it up to him.
Make it up to him. Ha! That was probably one of the funniest jokes Squall had heard. He hadn't
known him at all during his life and now Laguna admits this and expects a relationship? As far
as Squall was concerned, Laguna could fall into a ditch and yell about how much he was his
father and it wouldn't make a goddamn difference. He could bitch, and talk about leg cramps and
be all nostalgic about his mother, and talk about how much he wanted to make up for all the
years he hadn't been there. Abandoned. It still wouldn't make a difference. Not showing up to
Vira's service was just another part in a never ending list of things in Squall's life that his
dear ol dad wouldn't show up for. Wouldn't or couldn't, Squall didn't know.

The woman next to him, Mrs. Ryneriz, was a short and chubby woman, graying blonde hair
tied neatly back into a perfect bun. She was wearing a red dress with little flower designs
on it, her face a pink to match with it. Although she looked nice enough, Squall couldn't help
but think of a blood clot when seeing her dress. Her eyes were beady, light blue, but had a
matronly look in them. In her hands were a bunch of papers, Squall assumed more paperwork he'd
have to look over. For one reason or another.

He stood up to greet them. Then he noticed that Laguna was holding something too. He
balanced an odd looking ball between his hand and his hip, a blue sphereical shaped device, and
a book. He looked like he was going to drop them. Knowing Laguna, he probably would.

"Laguna," he said (still not calling him father by name was the only thing Squall felt
he had left). He looked at the woman. "I don't believe we've met, Mrs--"

"Ryneriz," she finished. Her voice was soft and kind. Now Squall felt worse about the
blood clot thought. "Call me Feabie."

"Yeah. Feabie." He looked at Laguna. "You were supposed to be here hours ago. The
service is over."

Laguna looked apologetic, as usual, scratching the back of his neck in his nervous way.
"I know. And I'm really sorry, but this took longer than I thought. Anyway, I figured what I
have might make up for missing it."

"What do you have?" Squall asked.

Laguna looked to Feabie, who pulled out one of the pieces of paper, handing it to him.
"While I was visiting your mother, I came across this other grave that I'd never seen before.
Belonged to some guy named Joril Eronwil. Now, I remembered Vira had that last name, and that's
not exactly a common last name, so I went to the Hall of Records, where Feabie gave me some real
interesting stuff you might want to see. Feabie..."

"I knew Joril. He lived in this house outside of Deling City most of the time, but came
to this cabin he owned in Winhill during the summers. For a few years. Everyone knew him. He was
a great man, always full of life, talking about these crazy stories, and trying to help anyone
he could. All of a sudden, he got hooked up with this creepy looking lady. Scary beyond all
reason, if you ask me--"

Squall frowned. "Xana."

Feabie ignored him and continued. "They got married, some ceremony no one went to, and
then were expecting a baby. This all happened pretty quick, but Joril couldn't be happier about
having a family. They had their child, it was a girl I believe--"

"Vira. Vira Eronwil," Squall said.

Feabie nodded. "Yes. She was a sweet looking child. I was able to see her a few times.
Anyway, before Joril died in the fire at his Deling house, he'd made up a will. One of his terms
was to be buried in Winhill, which was what we did. We thought that poor Vira had died in the
fire too. We had no idea she had been in the orphanage the whole time...then Galbadia Garden.
Believe you me, if we had known, things certainly woulda been different for her, lemme tell ya.
Well, the next thing is that he left everything to Vira. But...umm..."

"She's dead," Squall stated, coldly. "Two years today."

Feabie sighed. "I know, and I'm so sorry it happened. But, since she's passed on, the
inheritence goes to the next of kin."

Squall frowned again. What did any of this really have to do with him? "Feabie, Vira
didn't have any siblings or cousins. There is no next of kin."

"Ah, not quite," said Feabie, pointing to the paper Laguna was holding. "Those are
preliminary adoption papers."

Now Squall was utterly confused. "What?"

"Y'see, son--Squall--Vira's dad knew your mom. They were pretty good friends. When your
mother died and I wasn't there, Vira's father started the preliminary paperwork to adopt you,"
Laguna said.

Feabie nodded. "Yes, he felt very sorry for you. And thought that it would be better for
you to grow up in a family, rather than an orphanage. But, before he could go all the way through
with it, he cancelled everything. He told me his wife had become too volitle and sick and that
it'd be wrong to bring another child into that kind of environment. Now, I know it's a stretch,
a loooooooong stretch, but President Loire and I believed that it'd be best to give all of this
to you, rather than have it lie around collecting dust. You're the closest thing to next of kin."

Squall's jaw hung open. What the hell just happened? Okay, so Laguna tells him he's his
father. Squall finally has a father, one that was never there, but is still alive...and president
of a freakin country! Now, they're trying to pull this "near adoption" to the friend he had been
mourning the very same day. It was more than a stretch, it was damn near insane. It was ridiculous
beyond all reasoning. Coincidences run rampant in Squall's life. That was the only way he could
explain it. Freaky fate or destiny that's brought him to where he was, and who was nearly in his
past. And throughout this confusion, one thing remained clear to Squall: it was Vira who should
have been recieving this. She damn well should have.

"What...did he have?" Squall managed to ask.

Feabie put the papers on Squall's desk, on top of the other mounds of papers and pointed
to everything as she spoke. "Joril was actually pretty well off, though no one really knows how
he did it. His assests amounted to about one million gil in total, which is now all effectively
yours. The property where his Deling City house stood is also yours, along with the small cabin
that he owned in Winhill. That one's in a state of disrepair, I'm afraid."

"I went over there before we came here, and brought you these," said Laguna, placing the
odd ball, sphereical thing, and book on the table.

Squall put a hand to his forehead as he shook it in disbelief. "This is impossible..."

"Squall, I needed Feabie here to come with me or you'd never believed me," said Laguna.

"You got that right."

"Believe me, I wanted to be there today, but I thought this might be more important,"
Laguna said, keeping up that apologetic look.

Squall still didn't quiet get all of it. Preliminary paperwork for adoption? How nutso
was that? Way more than a stretch, if they asked him. So he was in the beginning stages of being
an adoptive brother to Vira? Big deal. It didn't make a damn difference. Results were what
mattered, and in the end, Squall had been in the orphanage, he hadn't been adopted, and Vira and
her father were still dead. But, hearing what Vira's father had at least tried to do for him
made him sick again. Another nice person, one that cared about the well being of others, and he
dies at the same hands of the same sadistic bitch.

In a few words; it sucked.

Feabie looked over the papers, then pulled a pen out of her pocket. "I'll just need you
to sign this one and everything will be in order. I know how ridiculous it sounds, but Joril was
a good man, and I think his belongings should go to someone who knew his daughter. Legally, you
are the closest."

Still in shock, Squall signed the paper in silence, a feeling of numbness coming over
him. He sank back into his chair. Feabie took the paper, looking it over carefully.

"Everything's in order. I'd best be getting back to Winhill now. Business trips like this
can't last too long." She stuck her hand out, and Squall could've sworn it almost hit him in the
face. "It was nice meeting you."

Squall, to be polite, shook Feabie's hand, remembering how he never used to do that, for
anyone. She turned and shook Laguna's hand, then say her goodbyes, disappearing behind the door
again. Now it was just Squall and Laguna. Squall looked over all the papers and objects on his
desk. Great. Fabulous.

He needed all of this to sink in. Laguna being there, trying miserably to do the father
bit wouldn't help in the least. Squall rose to usher Laguna out, then heard a small metalic
clink. Squall's hand sped to his pocket, where he felt around the entire contents.

The ring had fallen out. Hell. That was just what he needed then. Laguna and more
questions. Squall had to get to the ring before Laguna, to stave off the questions.

But, Laguna was already bent down to the floor, picking up the tiny gold ring. He looked
at it curiously, and held it out for Squall to take. "So, this for Rinoa?" he asked.

Squall snatched the ring out of Laguna's hand, shoving it back into his pocket. "Yeah.
Now, I think you should go."

"Squall, you're gonna ask her to marry you, aren't ya?" Squall cringed as he heard his
so-called father hit the nail on the head. "I guess I'm not invited, huh?" he added.

"You are, you are," Squall said, sighing. "But, I haven't asked her yet, so just don't
say anything."

"She'll say yes. I can tell."

Squall frowned. "That's not what I'm concerned about."

Laguna looked at him with a pleading expression. He was getting desperate. "Look, Squall,
I'm really sorry I missed Vira's service, and your entire life. But, dammit, I'm trying to
make it up to you. I know it's hard for you to even want to acknowledge I live, but it's not like
you can just get rid of me."

"I know that."

"I thought that maybe this stuff would be important to you. That maybe you'd like to have
it, since she can't. It really is better than havin it lay around collectin dust somewhere,
right?" said Laguna.

Squall nodded. Unfortunately, Laguna was beginning to make a lot of sense. He hadn't
been there, but in his own strange way, this was Laguna trying really hard to make it up to him.
And if he hadn't found anything...he would've been there. Squall felt torn again. There was so
much of him that hated Laguna for never being there, but then the other half told him that at
least he was there now, and that was more than some people could say.

And for some odd reason, he wondered what Vira would make out of all of this. Maybe she'd
chuckle at him and tell him that she knew her father was a good man, but never got to know him.
Laguna's not like Xana. He's not evil incarnate. Give him a chance. Make up for the lost time.
But it won't be easy.

Being angry at him all the time wasn't easy anymore either. Apathy would've been easier.
Hell, being nice to him at this point would've been easier. The anger was consuming too much of
his energy and time.

God, at least Laguna was trying. All of this...he didn't have to do it, but he did. It
was something.

Rinoa had kept telling Squall to give him a chance. Maybe she'd finally gotten through
to him. Internally, Squall smiled. Rinoa always was trying to make him a better person.

"Yeah, it's better than collecting dust." He paused, preparing himself for what he was
going to say. "Thanks for bringing it over. I understand why you couldn't make it. Of course
you'll be invited to the wedding. I'm sure Rinoa'll want you in the wedding party or something
like that."

Laguna smiled a little. "Uhh...is this your way of giving me a chance finally?"

"Yeah, so don't blow it. Rinoa...she's such a wonderful person. She keeps telling me to
give you a chance. And, it makes sense coming from her, with what happened to General Caraway.
She's always trying to make me a better man. So, it won't be easy, but I'll give it a shot.
Alright?"

Laguna nodded, a tear forming in the corner of his eye. He sniffled and looked away,
scrambling to wipe his face clean of any oncoming tears. "Anger get too energy consuming?"

Squall frowned. "How'd you know?"

He shrugged. "Eh, just seems like you. I don't expect you to call me dad overnight or
anything. It's been a year, and I've tried to give you some space. I think that's fair. I'm just
happy you're giving me a chance. That's all I ask."

"I know, I know."

Laguna smiled. "Rinoa's really good for you, y'know that? As smart and as pretty as her
mother was. Can't go wrong. You two will be really happy, I'm sure of it. When are you gonna ask
her?"

"Tomorrow. It's not right to do it today. I've had the ring for a while now," Squall
replied.

"I understand. Heh, you'll make her day tomorrow. No doubt. I should probably get going
now. If I'm gone too long, Kiros starts calling me weird names again and Ward gives me the third
degree with his eyes. I swear, it's like they're running the country instead of me," said Laguna,
grinning a crooked grin.

Squall smirked. "Was there any doubt in your mind about that?"

"Well--hey!"

"Hey, Squall?" Xu's head reappeared in the doorway again, interupting one of Squall's
rare jokes.

"Yeah, Xu? What's goin on?"

"I was on my way to go teach one of my classes when I heard the phone beeping. I'm not
your secretary, God knows you should get one one of these days, but I picked it up for you
anyway. It's Kiros from Esthar. He wants to speak with President--"

"Just call me Laguna," he interupted.

Xu didn't acknowledge the statement and continued. "He wants to speak with Laguna, and
you. Says it's something about Dr. Odine."

Laguna groaned and rolled his eyes. "Not Odine again. What's that little heartless genius
with the funky collar done now?"

Xu shrugged. "Don't know. But I'm gonna be late for my class. So pick it up will you?"

Squall nodded, turning on the phone, where a picture of Kiros flickered to life on his
television. Xu waved and took of for her class.

"And get a damn secretary!" she called out.

Squall shook his head. She was right. But it'd have to wait. Kiros looked at Squall and
Laguna, his expression looking more than a little worried.

"Kiros, what's up?" asked Laguna.

Kiros looked shocked for a moment. "Y'mean you can't tell? Geez, you guys are off the
coast of Balamb, shouldn't you be able to hear it?"

"Hear what? What's Odine doing?" asked Squall.

Kiros frowned and began his explaination. "Odine decided, without getting permission from
anyone, to salvage what's left of the Silver Siren."

Squall slammed his fist on the table. "Why is everything happening today?! Goddammit!"

Laguna put up a hand. "Calm down, Squall. Kiros, why is he doing it? How? I thought that
magic whatever was too strong to let anyone in."

"It was, but I guess Odine thought it'd calmed down enough. He was off in Centra reading
magic levels and composition in the ruins, when he just whisked off to the ocean where the Siren
fell without telling anyone. And he's got all the stupid little genius equipment he needs to
bring that thing up. He'll probably put it on Centra when he's done since there aren't any towns
around there. If I were you, I'd go find the little nutcase before he dredges up something nasty.
You shoulda been on top of this, you knuckleknob."

Laguna frowned. "I was busy with other business. I do have a lot to do, y'know, Kiros."

"Yeah, yeah," he agreed, nodding. "But, I swear, you'd never get anywhere without us
giving you a hand."

"No arguement here."

"I'll do what I can from here, but since you guys are closer, you stand a better chance
of heading him off," said Kiros.

Squall nodded. "Got it. We'll take care of it." He shut off the phone. Laguna sighed.

"Odine has no respect for the anniversary of someone's death. Especially when he saw her
as just another experiment, just like Elle," said Laguna.

A horrifying thought crossed Squall's mind. "He's not sick enough to go look for her
body, is he?"

Laguna's eyes widened and he shook his head vehemently. "No! No! Course not! He may have
no respect for people as actual people, but he won't go unearthing any dead bodies to see what
he can find. He's a little nutso, not completely deranged."

Squall sighed as he reached for the PA system to call the others. "Better hope Dorin's
still here."

"Why?"

"Because it's easier to keep him from knocking the shit out of Odine if we're around.
This is not gonna go over well with him..." He clicked on the PA system, hearing the familiar
three bell ding. "This is Squall. Rinoa, Quistis, Seifer, Zell, Selphie and Irvine please come
to my office immediately. I'll explain when you get here. And, Dorin, if you're still here,
please come too. That is all." The bell dinged again as Squall turned it off. "I hope he's still
here..."

4. Salvaging

Squall watched as the group filed into his office, all clamoring and talking over one
another. All questions about what was going on. Squall was glad to see that Dorin hadn't left,
and was at the back, the only silent one of the group.

"S'up, Squall?" asked Zell.

"Yeah!" Selphie said. "What's going on?"

"Odine's doing something really stupid. You guys haven't seen it yet, have you?" said
Squall.

"I saw a bunch of Esthar ships out beyond the harbor, but I didn't think much on it,"
Irvine replied.

Squall pointed out the window behind him, which overlooked not only the fields that
surrounded Garden, but also an expansive ocean view. "Odine's salvaging the Siren. He didn't get
permission from Laguna, Kiros or Ward. He's doing it all himself."

"Why?" Everyone jumped and turned to Dorin, a look of pure murder on his face.

"He's been researching magical energy, like specific signals spells give out or some
stuff like that. Whatever's kept us from ever going near the Siren. He found something in the
Centra ruins that matches something in the Siren. I guess he wants to find out what sort of
spell it is. Laguna's pretty ticked off at him. I won't be surprised if he gets kicked out of
Esthar for this. But, it'll be hard to get there before he's finished bringing it up," said
Squall.

Dorin's jaw ticked but he said nothing.

"So are we going out there to watch or what?" Seifer demanded.

"Yeah, Seifer. I figured we'd go out there, get some lawn chairs out and watch them
bring the thing out of the ocean. I don't know about you, but I want to get out there now and
stop him. He's got no respect for humanity. At all," Squall replied, a sarcastic bite added to
the first half of it.

In the back, Dorin merely spun on his heels and left the office. The group looked at the
closing doors, then back to Squall again, who sighed. "This isn't going to be pretty," he
muttered.


Odine was hopping up and down with excitement at the sight of the raised Siren. It
hadn't taken him much time at all to get the entire ship raised and dragged to the shores off of
Centra. No one had even so much as batted an eye at him, until Kiros had caught wind of it. But
that was his problem. Science was more important than some hissy fit from a man all the way in
Esthar. Odine was running the show here. Vira Eronwil had been one of the most interesting
cases he'd ever seen, maybe even more so than Ellone. Half sorceress by genetics, and half
Draconian. Her death had been under as much mysterious circumstances as her mother's history,
the first sorceress possibly beating out both Vira and Ellone as most interesting. Odine knew
her corpse would be in there, but what good is a dead sorceress? Even if she was the first one,
or one of the first, it was always hard to tell. Odine had done preliminary work on the magic
field that the Siren had given off when it crashed, at the request of Squall Leonhart, who had
his hands full keeping one of the Draconian noblemen, Dorin something or other, from diving in
head first. Odine had proven that the field around the Siren was too dangerous for anyone to go
near, but had noted a spell's residue that was most unusual. He hadn't told anyone about how in
a couple years' time, the dangerous magic field around the Siren would be gone, but that the
rare spell's residue would probably still be there. It wasn't any of their concern.

Then he'd spent some time in Centra, still trying to piece together the lost
civilization. There was still so much about the ruins that he did not know, and that hadn't been
seen since it had been wiped out. Odine had to know. It was his life's work, his purpose on
the planet. He came across a circular device in the ruins, with a small key panel beside it,
with a few buttons to press. There was some strange writing on it that had been faded away, but
he could make out the words 'Zanarkand' and 'Centra' on it. This puzzled him, but pleased him.
Another challenge for Odine to figure out. When he checked the device for magic residue, he came
up with the same exact frequency as the rare spell that had been used in the Silver Siren. Now
Odine had to know what was in common with the two. What sort of spell it was, and who had cast
it in the first place. Yet another mystery that Odine was damned determined to solve at whatever
cost.

The crew that Odine had taken with him lowered the Siren on shores of the Centra
continent. And although Odine was the head of this project, he prefered to stay in the control
room of the main ship he'd taken to get there, rather than be outside with the rest.

"You see? You see? Odine has done ze impossible vonce again!"

He was so caught up in his jubilation that he didn't see the entrance of Dorin Vachon
into the control room. Dorin regarded the small man with cold fury before tapping him on the
shoulder.

Odine stopped hopping and turned around. "Vat do you-"

The sound of the punch was heard all the way outside of the control room as Squall and
rest made their way to it. Everyone's eyes grew.

"Aw hell," Irvine drawled.

Odine was on the floor, holding his jaw. Squall wasn't positive, but he thought he saw
blood coming out. The strange little man stood up, hopping up and down in a temper tantrum too
big for his frame.

"Vat iz your problem?! Odine iz vorking here!"

Dorin didn't seem to listen. He picked up the short man by the front of his shirt and
slammed him against a wall. Dorin spoke quickly and quietly, not trying to hide the hint of rage
in his voice. "As you can probably guess Dr. Odine, I am NOT in the mood for your antics at the
present moment. Not only have you desecrated a gravesite but you are also violating Draconia's
rights to the salvaged wreck as well. Now," Dorin continued, pausing for effect, "Start. Talking.
NOW."

Odine, for the first time that Squall remembered, looked very threatened, though that
was soon masked over by the little man's anger. "I have been rezearching a specific machine in
ze Centra ruins. It has ze rezidue of a spell. A very specific kind zat Odine has never seen
before. Odine had done preliminary read outs on ze magical rezidue from ze Siren and remembered
ze very same pattern. It'z coming from ze main hallway inzide ze ship! Odine must know vhat ziz
spell iz! For ze good of everyone!"

Dorin's eye twitched, which caused Odine to flinch and whimper slightly. "Where's the
source of this spell?" he growled.

"In ze central chamber of ze ship. We vere about to send boarding parties over," Odine
replied.

Dorin let go of Odine, who fell to the floor in a heap and with some choice words about
Dorin's lineage. Dorin merely turned and walked back towards the door.

"We will be boarding it first," he said as he paused at the door. He glanced at Odine.
"And the Draconian Navy will be here within the hour to take over this operation."

Dorin smiled grimly at the sound of Odine wailing as he left.

The others followed Dorin, all silent. Selphie and Zell's jaws hung open for a few
moments, utterly surprised. Squall just shook his head.

"I've never seen Doc Odine get that scared o' someone," Irvine marveled, breaking the
silence. "You're really intimidating, Dorin. Y'know that, right?"

"Serves the bastard right for disturbing her rest," Dorin rumbled.

Squall walked up beside Dorin. "Do you want to go in now? It's your call. Since you're
appearantly running the show."

Dorin nodded. "I don't want any of them touching her."

"Yeah," Squall agreed. He sighed. "Of all days to do this..."

The group came upon the Silver Siren, and although it was in disrepair, rusted and
covered with seaweed, it still looked imposing and forboding. Squall stared at it, wishing he
had punched the doctor himself.

There was a massive hole in the side, near where the group stood. Dorin said nothing,
but climbed in, the rest following him inside.

Once they were in, Irvine turned to Dorin. "So like, where's the main chamber?"

Dorin looked around, studying the hall they had stepped into. "This way," he said,
pointing to the right.

They followed him in silence, all too consumed by the ominous feeling the Siren still
had. Everything was in utter ruin, a few bodies of the people who had died in there decaying and
bloated, their color a sickly blue and purple.

It didn't take long to reach the main chamber, with its unmistakable wrought iron gates
in front of it. The gates were ajar and rusty. They creaked loudly as the group pushed through.

Inside, their eyes were drawn to a small vertical shape in the middle. It looked for all
the world like a levitating pool of water, colors dancing off of it's surface as they mixed and
swirled.

"Whoa, cooooool!" Selphie exclaimed. She ran up to it, staring at it in awe. The others
approached it with more caution, no doubt it was what Odine had been looking for.

Squall scanned the room for Vira or Xana, but didn't see them. A part of him was
relieved to not have to deal with the sight of them, the other part was saddened that he didn't
finally have his friend to bury. Vira deserved a grave, and to be recovered. But, with her
nowhere inside the chamber, that seemed impossible now. He looked at Dorin, who was evidently
looking for her too.

"At least she's not here," Squall said to him quietly.

"No...she's not," he replied.

"Maybe she got out, but couldn't make it to shore in time..." Squall said.

Rinoa looked at the black pool carefully. "I've never seen anything like this. This is
very powerful magic. It's been shrinking since it was cast. Looks like it leads somewhere. Can't
tell where, though. And we can't fit in it anymore. Maybe there's the same spell in that device
Odine was talking about in the Centra ruins."

"But, why would it be there?" asked Selphie.

Rinoa shrugged. "Not sure. Neither Xana or Vira made it out of this, or they would've
made an appearance somewhere by now. Perhaps Xana made it but never got to use it. Though...I'm
not sure how powerful Vira was. Her case was special...she might've been able to do it too..."
Rinoa shook her head. "It's too vague. Xana probably did this, but it didn't save either of
them. And we don't know where it goes."

"Somewhere else on the planet?" Zell suggested.

Rinoa shrugged. "That's the most likely suggestion. Though, it'd have to be somewhere
very far away from where the Siren was. Xana had the power to teleport pretty far without
something this elaborate. So, it's gotta be far."

"And the one in the Centra ruins has the same residue?" said Quistis.

"Which would mean that it most likely leads to the same place," said Rinoa. "Though,
without more information on exactly how it was formed, it's a bit hard to tell. I'm good at
magic, but not THAT good."


5. New Sight Into Old Events Through Ellone

The tea kettle whistled high pitched noise and Rinoa quickly took it off the stove.
Without saying a word, she poured the water into a mug, dropping a tea bag in it, grabbing a
spoon from one of the drawers near her, and stirring the water. A few seconds later, she removed
the bag, placing it on a paper napkin on the countertop and carried the mug into the next room.

Since arrival on the shores of Centra the night before on the Ragnarok, Garden, once
again making itself mobile, had arrived there too, ready to stay there as long as necessary.
Dorin had agreed to stay in one of the spare rooms in the dorms, but everyone knew he hadn't
spent much time sleeping in there. Everyone was on edge now. Even the next morning, with the
crisp blue sky stretching its arms across the horizon, not a single cloud dotting it, and the
new sunshine pouring in the windows, everyone was still on edge. At least Squall felt it. He
couldn't say absolutely sure for everyone else.

Squall sat in an easy chair in his room, which had been expanded once they also decided
to give him an office. Squall liked that he had a little extra space, and a kitchenette to
himself if he needed something late at night, but he wasn't ecstatic about it. It was nice, but
he always had something else on his mind.

Rinoa came into the room, handing the mug full of tea to him. "Here you go. Need
something nice and warm for you to start off your day."

"Rin," he started.

She sat down across from him, in another chair, looking at him with patient eyes. Her
eyes were so beautiful, Squall often thought. Even in the early morning light, they were
beautiful. He sighed.

"I'm sorry we couldn't stop him from bringing that damn thing up," Squall said quietly.

Rinoa nodded. "I know. But you heard what he said last night, there's something similar
between this portal we found in the main hall of the Siren, and that weird device in the Centra
ruins. It could mean something important. What were they doing in that hall?"

"Fighting. To the death," Squall replied. "Maybe I can find out..."

"You mean...go see Ellone?" asked Rinoa.

Squall nodded. "She did meet Vira when she visited Esthar with Dorin and Zell to see
Odine. She might be able to see what caused it..."

"You mean, if there's a possibility Vira's still alive," finished Rinoa.

"No. She's dead. We all have to accept that. But, if I can know what caused it, maybe
we'll know what it exactly is and where it goes. It's worth a shot."

Early afternoon brought Squall's arrival to Esthar, where Laguna had returned the night
before. Esthar always looked like it was in a perpetual state of sunset to Squall, the sky
always alive with pinks and oranges, the bright golden sun beating down on the ground. Squall
parked the Ragnarok at the Airstation, recalling how Selphie had begged to come, and pilot the
Ragnarok again. She hadn't done it in years, but Squall said it would've been best if he went
alone. And that everyone needed to keep an eye on Dorin, who was dealing with the Draconian
Navy, and an upset Odine. He pointed out that it'd be best if Dorin had more help dealing with
the 'good' doctor, help as in not beating him to a bloody pulp. Though, Squall had mentioned he
wasn't broken up about the tooth Odine had lost from Dorin's punch. In the end, it was just a
matter of convenience and who needed other people more. No contest there.

Laguna was waiting for him at the front of the palace, with Kiros and Ward at his side
as always. There was the usual pleasantries in terms of hellos and how are yous, but Squall was
in no mood for idle chit chat. He brought Laguna up to speed on what he was planning, and what
everyone else was saying about it. Laguna said he'd try to help in any way that he could, and
that Ellone would too.

"Squall, it's good to see you again." Ellone greeted Squall with a warm hug, which he
returned.

"You too, Sis," he replied.

"What is it that you want me to help you with?" she asked as she let go.

They all walked into the main room as Squall explained his idea. "You remember Vira,
right? She came here for a little while with Zell, and this other guy, Dorin, from Draconia."

"Yes, I remember meeting her briefly. She kind of reminded me of you."

Squall snorted. "So I've heard. Anyway, Odine has salvaged the ship she died in and
found this weird...spell...portal...damned if I know. It matches the same magic signal, aura or
something as this strange machine in the Centra ruins. It doesn't make much sense. But, I was
hoping maybe you could send me back to right before the place went under, to Vira's last few
minutes, maybe we could find out what the spell really is."

Ellone looked thoughtful, putting a delicate hand to her chin. "I don't know, Squall.
It's hard enough to send you back to someone I don't know very well, but it's even harder for
someone who's already gone. It might not be accurate, or work at all. Do you still want to try?"

Squall nodded. "It's worth a try."

"Okay," Ellone replied, sitting down and motioning for Squall to do the same. "I'll give
it my best shot. Uncle Laguna, could you watch us and make sure nothing wrong happens?"

Laguna nodded. "Of course, Elle. No problem."

"Thank you. Hang on..."

Squall felt lightheaded, then tired. As he fell asleep, he vaguely remembered the first
time Ellone sent him back and how he woke up saying he dreamt he was a moron...


Bright flash of white light.

When things came into focus again, Squall saw the interior of a small room, and he
immediately recognized the design to be Galbadia Garden's. Ellone had sent him back too far.
Vira was there, though, sitting on the top bunk of the double beds their rooms had. Her hair was
longer than he remembered, and she looked younger. She was in the standard issue Galbadia
Garden uniform for students. She stared up at the ceiling, her face void of expression.

The PA system came on. "Vira Eronwil, report to Headmaster Martine's office immediately."

(Galbadia Garden...wow. Always wondered what it'd be like to have taken classes there.)

Vira sighed and jumped down from the bunk, walking out the door.

A few minutes and an elevator ride later, she was in Martine's office. Squall noted how
angry he looked at her, though she didn't seem to acknowledge it.

-Gee, I wonder why he wants to talk to me. Another one of those 'why don't you get good
grades' speeches again. Whatever. He can babble all he wants. Won't change a thing.-

"I heard that you hurt another student in sparring practice today, Eronwil," he growled.

Vira shrugged. "It's his own fault, he was open. I took the opprotunity."

-Not to mention he sucked at fighting. Sure, I ruined his grandfather's staff, but he
didn't need to get all spazed about it. He struck overhead, chest was open, took the shot. Big
deal.-

(Huh. Sounds about right.)

Martine sighed. "Eronwil, your grades are horrendous, you know that, right? How can
someone so smart in fighting fail nearly every test in her other classes? The only reason I
haven't kicked you out months ago is because of your exemplory performance in fighting. And your
unusual weapons."

"The classes are boring. I know what I'm doing."

"Do you? How do you handle mechanical enemies?" asked Martine.

Vira looked away, bored. "Lightning spells to short circuit them."

"And why is the limit of spells to be junctioned only one hundred?"

"Because the body can't handle any more than that. The magic will rebel and try to get
out any way it can, which can most often result in death," Vira replied, monotonously.

Martine eyed her with disgust. "Then why aren't you passing your classes?!"

Vira shrugged again. "I dunno."

Martine slammed his fists on his desk, causing his empty coffee mug to fall over. It
rolled and Vira watched it.

-Uh oh. That's not good.-

"That's it, Eronwil! You're expelled! Get out! Now!" he roared.

-No, not yet! Can't leave now, I have no money. Where would I go?-

(Martine sending a girl out into the world with no money...sounds like him.)

"Sir, I have no money! No relatives! I'd be out on the street if you kick me out!" Vira
protested. "I'll leave, but not until I have enough money to get my own place!"

Martine seemed to calm down at this. He sank back into his chair, but stared at Vira
hard. "Fine. I'll make a deal with you. Pull up your grades to passing ones, and make the SeeD
test when you have your credits. After that, you can get paid for a few missions. One year as a
SeeD, and you'll never spend time here. Once you have enough money, you leave. As unusual as
your wepaons are, and as good at your are at fighting, I don't want troublemakers around longer
than I have to. How about it?"

"Deal."

Everything faded, and Squall's eyes refocused on the main hall in the Presidential
Palace, Ellone looking at him with expectant eyes.

"Was that it?"

He shook his head. "No. Too far back. Way too far back."

Ellone understood. "Okay. At least we know it works. Let's try again..."

Squall closed his eyes, feeling sleep coming over him again.


Everything came back into focus, like the tracking on an old video. Squall saw Xana
glide up the staircase, raise her arms high, a black ball forming above her head. It quickly
grows, arcs of purple electricity streaming around it--

(Reminds me of Ultimecia and Griever...)

--until it grew as large as a wall, ripling and waving into place. It looked like a
vertical black ocean.

(That's it. The portal. Xana did it.)

Already battle worn, Vira advanced on Xana. "I decided this. Me. Alone. I can't let them
live in a world with you in it."

"You can't kill me. You won't," Xana mocked.

Vira stood in front of her, her kamagunblades fanned out, ready for her final spell.

-This is it. Can't stop it now. Here goes everything...-

"I will."

Xana growled. "If you're so damn intent, then I'm making a hasty retreat. This'll take
me back to where your pathetic father came from. Start anew, without you around to screw things
up."

(She was gonna go through the portal...so it must lead to Deling City then...)

Vira took one last look at Xana, a small smirk forming in the corner of her mouth. "Too
late."

Squall was blinded, the white light from Vira's spell obliterating his sight of the
mother and daughter, and of the Siren itself. He had seen the small ball form, grow bigger and
burst open in a column of light. Then saw nothing. He expected to see Ellone in the next second,
telling him that was it. That was the end.

But it wasn't.

His sight returned, the Siren still there, but going down fast. And there was Vira, on
her hands and knees, coughing up blood.

-How the hell did I survive that? Geez...I'm bleeding. Fabulous. Gotta leave. Gotta get
out...-

(She survived the Final Justice spell. Hyne, then what was it that killed her?)

"I can't believe that didn't kill me," she whispered. Squall saw her drink a potion, and
saw the gash on her stomach bleed less.

"To tell the truth, neither can I," said a voice that Squall didn't recognize.

He saw a man with dark hair, a scar running down one side of his face, leaving one eye
completely white. Squall all of a sudden remembered who it was, Kravis. The man who had the big
grudge against Seifer for some reason, and had been in their orphanage for a while. Though, time
didn't look kind to him. He yelled and kicked Vira in the stomach, seeing her roll towards the
black rippling portal.

"What the hell is your problem?! This place is going down and you're trying to kill me?!
Give it up! It's over! Either we get out of here now, or I get out of her now, or we both die.
But, kicking me isn't gonna make it better!" Vira yelled.

Kravis walked up next to Vira and looked into the black hole. The depth of it was
endless, not telling where it could really lead.

Another tremor brought one of the columns of the hall down with a thundering crash. The
floor shook violently.

"This...is the only way out," he said, reaching out to touch the surface of the hole. As
his fingers touched it, the entire black whole rippled, like the surface of a lake.

Vira scowled. "You idiot. You don't know where it goes."

-Bastard's whacked out of his goard.-

"And you know that you can't get out any other way. Not in time," he answered.

A tremor knocked down another column, this time cracking and breaking into large chunks
in front of them. Vira glanced at the hole, and then down the hall.

-"This'll take me back to where your pathetic father came from." Deling? That's a mighty
elaborate spell just to go to Deling...-

Squall saw Kravis look at Vira, then the black hole. But Vira just stared at the hole,
her mind filled with just the one question of where her father really had come from. Squall saw
as Kravis raised his double bladed staff and brought it down at Vira's face. He heard her scream
in pain, falling backwards, and blood overcoming her sight. The rest became hazy to Squall. He
heard Kravis say something, and jump into the portal. And that Vira said something too, but then
everything blended away into a black haze as Squall came to the realization that it wasn't Xana
that had killed Vira; it had been Kravis. And he had went through the portal, or whatever the
hell it was.

When Squall opened his eyes again, he was back in the main hall, with Ellone looking at
him again, worry clearly stretched across her pretty face. "Was that it?"

He nodded. "Thank you so much, Sis. That really helped. I hate to go so quickly, but I
gotta get back to everyone."

Ellone stood up as Squall did, confused. "What's going on?"

"We have to go."

"Where?"

"Through the portal," Squall replied. He hadn't seen it yet, but it didn't matter. Kravis
had to be brought up on murder charges. He'd find him. They'd find him. Wherever he was.

Laguna stopped him before he walked out on them. He placed a hand on his shoulder. "You
didn't ask her, did you?" he said.

Squall shook his head. "With everything that's going on...It doesn't feel right."

"Squall, do it before you walk into whatever the hell that thing is in Centra. You never
know where you're gonna end up. It's bound to be the beginning of something big and you better
make sure you say it to her before you do."

He nodded. "I'll tell her."

Squall left the Presidential Palace, his mind racing with what to tell Dorin about
Kravis, who now would have him and Seifer as people wanting to see his dead corpse, and how he
was supposed to tell Rinoa 'let's get married...later...after this...' Laguna was right, but how
it was going to work was still beyond him.


6. Proposals Of The Future

"So, what did you tell Headmaster Cid?" asked Rinoa.

Squall walked to a set of drawers in his room, pulling out shirts and pants, throwing
them into a small duffle bag. "That we need to go through the portal in the Centra ruins, but
I'm not sure how long we'll be or where we'll end up. But, odds are, Kravis could still be out
there somewhere, and if going through the portal could lead us to some clues, I'm going. Can't
let him escape after all that he's done. He understands. He said take as long as I need--"

"We need. We're all going, remember? You don't even have to ask. We'll follow you,
Squall. To wherever we have to go," Rinoa said, walking over to him and putting a hand on his
shoulder.

"Thanks, Rin," he whispered.

She smiled. "Have you told Dorin about what Kravis did yet?"

He shook his head, looking down at one white shirt of his. He threw it into the bag.
"Nah. Haven't had the chance. I'm not sure if he'll want to come, with all the responsibilities
he has..."

"We all have responisbilities, Squall. Most of us teach classes, y'know, and you're the
commander. We all have busy lives, including Dorin. But, he'll come with us. I know it. Because
he's our friend, and you can see it in his eyes; he misses Vira terribly. If there's someone out
there who killed her and is still alive, without recieving any punishment, you bet that Dorin
will want to come and pay him back. Then add Seifer into it. And Quistis. A lot of us have a
personal stake in this. Kravis was a right hand man to Xana, and he even grew up with you guys
for a while. Whatever responsibilities we have to our jobs will have to take a backseat to this.
It's important. For everyone. Dorin will take the time off too," said Rinoa.

Squall stopped packing for a minute to look Rinoa. Now or never, a voice inside him was
saying. Once you all leave, you'll be busy hunting for Kravis, and dealing with wherever you
end up. You'll have no time to ask her, and who knows what will happen. Now, Squall. Ask her now.
It may not be the best time, but there won't be any better time for a long while. He threw the
last shirt into his bag, and took Rinoa's hands gently. She stared into his steel blue eyes with
a little confusion. A small smile crept across Squall's lips.

"Rinoa, you're wonderful," he said.

Rinoa smiled, embarrassed. "So are you, Squall."

He let go of her left hand and reached into his pocket, pulling out the gold ring. He
held it out for her to see. Squall's stomach felt like it was being clenched repeatedly. Rinoa
looked up at him with shock.

"Marry me, Rinoa. When everything has settled down and we put the rest of this behind
us. I know that I want you in my life for as long as I live. You're a caring, sweet person and
you make me a better man. So...how about it?"

Rinoa snatched the ring out of his hand, putting on her finger a matter of seconds. She
grinned as tears streamed down her face. Squall smiled. She'd never looked prettier. She wrapped
her arms around his neck, hugging him tight. "Of course I will!" she exclaimed. "Thank you for
being sort of traditional with this. I wasn't sure what you were going to do. But...yes! Yes! I
will!"

Squall hugged her back, letting her pour out her happiness and sheer excitement for a
few minutes. She deserved this moment, after being patient with him, and everything they had been
through. After a while, she let him go to look at the ring itself.

"It's so beautiful..."

"I had Zell make it for you. He's pretty good with that stuff now," Squall stated.

Rinoa grinned. "That's lovely!"

Squall nodded. "Yeah...But, Rin, I think we should keep this low keyed right now. Since
we're about to leave. I know this isn't the best time, but I figured it'd be better than waiting
until we got back. So, can we wait to make a big deal out of this until we get back?"

"Of course, Squall. I understand. But...thank you for asking now. This is a bright spot
in all this confusion," she said.

Squall pulled her close into a gentle hug. "Yeah. You'll always be an angel to me,
Rinoa. You'll always be a bright light in the darkness."

Rinoa laughed. "Getting a little dramatic there, my knight."

"I guess I am...sorry." He exhaled a long breath. "It was good to get it out."

"Good way to start a journey," said Rinoa.

He smiled at Rinoa, and kissed her, sharing a peaceful moment. The calm before the storm.
Squall felt bad about being so happy with Rinoa. He couldn't help it. Goddammit, he loved her
more than he could say. Words just didn't work.

When he broke off the kiss, Rinoa smiled again saying, "Even better."


KNOCK! KNOCK!!

Squall knocked another time on the door to the room where Dorin was staying. Maybe he'd
went out to deal with the Draconian Navy, or to bash the living daylights out of Odine again.
Squall let out an exasperated sigh. If he wasn't there, tracking him down would take a little
more time. He wanted to leave now. No, an hour ago. The sooner, the better.

"Dorin, it's Squall," he called. "I went to see Ellone. There are some things I need to
talk to you about. If you're there, open up, okay?"

A moment of silence. He waited for an answer. Squall heard footsteps behind the door,
and was relieved when Dorin opened it, motioning for him to come inside. Squall followed his
directions, and closed the door behind him.

"What did Ellone show you?" Dorin asked.

Squall sighed. "A few things. One of them was a bit irrelevant to this, from when Vira
was enrolled in Galbadia Garden. I guess she transferred to Balamb instead of quitting like she
had said she would..."

"She was going to quit?"

"Yeah. She made a deal with Headmaster Martine to become a SeeD, spend a year making
money from missions and then quit," Squall replied. "Anyway, the big thing I need to tell you
is...Xana didn't kill Vira. Vira had done it. She killed Xana with her Final Justice spell, but
instead of both of them dying, Vira survived."

Dorin blinked. "Did it show her going through the portal?"

Squall shook his head."I didn't see that. Kravis came in...slashed her in the face when
she wasn't looking. He went through, and everything went hazy. I don't think she made it after
that."
Dorin said nothing but nodded. "No reason in getting hopes up." He blew out a breath and
paused. "It couldn't hurt to keep an eye out for her though, once we go through," he added.

Squall sighed. "I guess...I've hoped she'd just come back one day, but it's been two
years. I know it doesn't hurt to keep an eye out, but...just don't get disappointed that she's
not there. Kravis hit her very hard."

"I know, I know," Dorin replied. "Let's just go get this over with," he said, sighing.

"I wasn't sure if you'd want to come, with everything you've had to do being a lord..."
Squall said.

"I'll come. I need to get out of Draconia for a while anyway."

"Good. It wouldn't be the same without you," Squall said. "We'll leave as soon as
everyone's ready."

"Very well," he replied.


7. Through The Portal

Following the instructions Odine had so kindly given to them when Dorin gave him another
intimidating look, as if he would throw him through a wall, the group found the circular device
in the Centra ruins. It had been there the whole time. Squall couldn't believe it. He remembered
coming there maybe three years before...back during the whole Ultimecia thing. They'd gotten
Odin at the top of the tower. Though, there had been many tough battles there; the ruins were
not short on enemies. Tonberries were especially prominent. Hey, this was also where they'd found
the Tonberry King. He'd passed by this very device, only taking it in as some old piece of junk
that had long since been forgotten by the extinct civilization of Centra.

It wasn't too big. About as tall as a wall in a room you'd find anywhere, with a small
ramp leading up to it. Beside it on the right was a little keypad, held up by a thin stand. The
whole thing was an old brass color, matching the rest of the ruins' look. There was faded writing
along the circular bar, but Squall didn't give a damn about what it said. Only Odine did. He was
more concerned with finding Kravis if he was still alive and making him pay for everything he'd
done. He stared at the device and suddenly got the feeling that this was going to be a long trip,
and one to a place he hadn't been before.

Squall walked up to the keypad and brushed the dust off of the keys. He looked at them,
and pressed the blue one. Nothing happened.

"You have any idea of what you're doin?" asked Zell.

Squall sighed and stepped aside, knowing Zell would take command of this situation. He'd
always done it when it came to mechanical devices. Just like in the Deep Sea Research Center.
"Here, Zell, you do it."

He cracked is knuckles. "Don't mind if I do." Zell studied the keys on the keypad. After
a few seconds, he pressed a few of them all in rapid succession. Nothing happened.

"Master of the electronic device, eh, Chickenwuss?" Seifer quipped from behind.

Zell didn't bother to turn around. "Shut up, Seifer. You wouldn't do any better." He
pressed a large red key and stepped back. "Check it, I think I got it."

There was a crackling noise that sounded like lightning. Arcs of electricity swirled
around the circular ring, diving inward to the same spot. From there, a small black ball, that
Squall had remembered seeing in the vision Ellone had shown him, formed and grew in a matter of
seconds, covering the entire circle, quivering like gelatin. The crackling sound stayed, a side
effect of a man made spell device, Squall supposed.

Dorin walked up to it, touching the surface with an index finger. "I don't think this is
anywhere we know..."

"I agree," said Squall. He looked to everyone. "Guys, this might take a while. It's not
gonna be really fun, but it's something we have to do. If we land somewhere we've really never
been to before, remember to be civil."

"Spoken by a true social butterfly and charmer extrordinare," said Irvine, smiling
crookedly.

Squall frowned. "Good one, Irvine. I'm serious. We don't know what's on the other side,
so just be careful is all I'm saying."

Not saying another word, Dorin disappeared through the portal, leaving everyone a bit
surprised.

Seifer rolled his eyes. "He's actin like he's gonna find her out there. He won't. She's
more dead than Ultimecia."

Quistis gave him a repremanding look. "Seifer, let's not forget who's out there."

"I know, I know, but...eh. I'll find the bastard and make him sorry he ever heard of
Xana," said Seifer.

Squall waved everyone to the portal. "C'mon, we have to catch up."

Rinoa took Squall's hand as the two of them caused ripples in the black portal before
disappearing too. The rest followed suit. Selphie, Irvine and Zell being the last to walk
through.

"I hope they have hot dogs wherever we end up," Zell remarked.

There was a large ripple in the portal, and then they were gone too. The Centra ruins
were empty again.



Author's Notes: Wowie, that was some long way to start a sequel, eh? I'm not sure
whether this comes off as way too stupid or something, but I don't care. Now I'm just doing this
cuz it's fun. Writing this is a blast and damn good practice. In the next chapter, we skip ahead
a little while (week or two perhaps) and finally get to see what really happened to Vira for the
past two years (c'mon, you know you wanna find out). Where do Squall and the gang really end up?
Where exactly is Vira? Keep reading and you'll find out. Please R&R to let us know what you
think. Just keep it constructive, 'kay? See ya next time. Same FF time, same FF channel.