By Serena Lee
It bobbed up and down, gently carried by the waves.
Seifer heaved an impatient sigh, his eyes narrowed and never leaving the sight of the fishing line.
Rising and falling, the floating red bauble continued to do so unperturbed, mocking its owner's own flaring temper.
You rose as a noble Knight, and fell like a pathetic coward.
Just like that little ball.
Just like that little boy, so long ago.
Those words sent boiling blood coursing through his veins. His burning anger rose once again for the umpteenth time that afternoon, like fire fueled by a fresh spray of Oilboyle blood. "I'm not.. a coward..." he seethed quietly through gritted teeth, determined not give in to that voice echoing in his mind.
Oh, but you are. You ran... far, far away.
Away from your Sorceress when she needed you..
Away from your Knighthood at the moment of your greatest challenge...
Far, far away..
Just like that little boy, so long ago.
"No.." the weak denial came. "It could not be helped. I was surprised by Gilg-"
You lost, and ran away on your own accord.
Thus you fell like a coward.
The accusations were too much for his fragile psyche, and he felt his shoulders beginning to tremble despite the warm afternoon sea breeze blowing against his back. The venomous voice was persistent, never giving its victim a moment's respite from the harsh truth of reality.
Admit your mistake.
Admit the truth.
"N.. No.." he retorted with a shaky voice to himself. Seifer Almasy would never concede defeat - not once, not ever. From time beginning, he envisioned himself as a hero in the people's eyes. A martyr who willingly sacrificed his personal will for the benefit of Hyne's descendents. A noble Knight who surrendered his body, mind and soul to a lifetime servitude towards his Sorceress. He would do anything - anything at all - to grasp this near-impossible accomplishment.
He wanted his name to be written down in history books. He wanted to be remembered. He wanted to be a part of the people's memories. He wanted to be recognised as the Knight whose soul burned with the passion of a romantic dream.
And he did achieve this ambition of his.. once. So long ago.
In that sense, he triumphed, didn't he?
SeeD was victorious-
"... only because they had that Leonhart to lead them..."
A-ha, so you admit being defeated by-
"No! Squall had an unfair advantage over me - he attained so many more GFs and Renzokuken skills which I did not possess. And they sent THREE SeeDs against me..."
Excuses and more excuses, little boy. You even applauded at his appointment into SeeD, didn't you?
"A mere gesture from a Knight who respects his opponent's capabilities and successes. Is that not an honourable thing to do?"
Oh.. and what of.. Caraway's daughter? You had her taken from you before your eyes.
"We were incompatible. Now leave my personal affairs alone!"
His nerves were frayed, and he was on the edge of yet another outburst. Fingers clutching the fishing rod tightly, a deep frown on his usually stoic and serious visage, he growled out his final warning.
"... leave me alone."
Suddenly, laughter filled the air. The blonde swung around just in time to see Raijin holding up a freshly-caught Balamb Fish. It struggled and twitched in vain, and more so when the smiling, jovial young man too, hopped about in what would seem to be a childish victory dance. On the other side of the plank, an expressionless Fujin glared in disdain with her arms akimbo.
You ARE alone, Seifer.
See how happy they are in your absence?
For once, he realised, there was some truth in the voice. Here he was, on one end of the jetty, and the duo on the other. Here he was, contemplating about the accusations ringing in his ears, while the two frolicked happily in the peaceful midsummer Dollet sun, trying to fish beneath clear blue skies. His presence was completely ignored.
Like a distant memory.
Gone were the days when he could place his arms around their shoulders, and declare proudly that they were an unbreakable group, a unique Garden posse in its own class. Gone were the days when both Raijin and Fujin would look up to him, to seek advice and friendly company, while they were carrying out their duties as the widely-feared Disciplinary Committee.
They remained unaware of Seifer's growing disappointment, with Raijin giggling like a child and Fujin behind him and pondering thoughtfully if she should aim for his shin, or his butt. Never once did they approach and console him.
Of course they didn't. They have no reason to.
They do not need to share their happiness with you anymore.
That was it, the blonde silently cried out. Eyes blazing with the fury of Firaga, his cheeks slightly flushed from frustration and bitter resentment, he stood and threw his fishing rod down angrily. It hit the wooden boards with a hollow, dull smack. The empty sound was quickly swallowed by the gentle crashing waves, but to Seifer, it was a sound which amplified his own hidden grief, mirroring the turmoil he felt within himself.
A painful slap on his face, it was. It burned, and left a searing mark on him.
Nobody seemed to notice his sudden display of aggression. Not even those two, who once walked with him side by side, and committed themselves into serving his cause until the moment everything went out of control.
The moment YOU went out of control, and lost focus of your goals.
That blatant statement was ignored. Seifer had been tormented far too long to listen to everything that annoying voice said.
Splash, and down went a helpless Raijin when Fujin resolved to have the last laugh. Her booted foot was held up in defiance and a satisfied smirk was etched on her rarely gleeful face.
Seifer too, threw his head high up and laughed at the amusing scene in front. And to the heavens so high above - mocking the gods for what had become of him.
Fate is cruel. And yet you still smile.
Seifer Almasy gloats over his victory, and grins even at his most powerful adversaries, he thought.
He denies his failure, and runs away..
"... only to live and fight for another day," the blonde concluded poetically without much thought. How many times was he disgraced in battle? How many times did he reappear to face his foes again, and again? Resilient, a Knight should be. Defending his Sorcererss was to be his sole objective in life.
Ah.. but that day would never come.
Seifer gave an incredulous look to no one in particular. For a moment, he allowed the silence to sink in while he took in the scenery before him breathlessly. The dock was deserted, save for a snickering Fujin, and a drenched Raijin pleading his friend to lend him a helping hand from the chilly seawater. The tropical afternoon heat was lethargic, which had sent most of Dollet's residents hiding in the coolness of their air-conditioned homes - and probably slumbering in their usual afternoon siestas. Seagulls circled lazily overhead, giving an occasional cry as they continued their vigilance for any returning fishermen from the far horizon. It was a tranquil time for Dollet.
That day.. will never come.
You'll never live and fight for another day, Seifer Almasy.
He felt drained and tired. Strength had left his limbs and his head bowed in what seemed to be a show of humiliation and admittance. How many times did he have to argue with this inner demon of his? How many times did he have to restrain himself from allowing his patience to run too thin? He was strong in combats, quick in his Magic, proficient with his Hyperion, and sharp with his insults. But this.. this endless strings of blames and guilt.. it was almost a torture to live day by day, trying to block out the voice lurking in the corners of his consciousness. But what was worse, he had to face it...
This is your punishment of your actions.
Condemned to eternal isolation.
Destined to lead a solitary life as a defeated ghost of the past.
A fallen warrior, a traitorous Knight.
Seifer looked to his side with arched eyebrows, his blue eyes squinting against the bright sunlight, his heart silently wishing that Fujin or Raijin would at least turn their heads and give him a supportive smile. Even an irritating "ya know" would do wonders to his badly-shaken soul now.
Look how they revel in joy without you.
That's what you are to them...
Forgotten, like remnants of the ancient past.
No longer remembered, like a bitter, distant memory.
A sigh. Perhaps.. a defeated sigh, it was?
A familiar hum began to rise from the east, growing in intensity in each passing second, until Seifer could make out its source. The majestic Balamb Garden loomed above all of them ominously, darkening the skies for a brief moment, filling the air with swirling clouds of dust and seawater spray. Her massive engines roared deafeningly as she passed by Dollet's docks in her routine midday patrol.
Seifer gazed in awe, his attention captured by the beauty of his former sea-blue home, his ever white trenchcoat flapping wildly against the furious winds. He spent so many years running across those empty hallways, peering over the computers in the Classrooms, enjoying the cool atmosphere around the central fountain, clashing gunblades against monsters in the Training Area...
... making a ruckus in the Cafeteria when they ran out of hotdogs, annoying the Doctor with his mischievous antics, pestering the flustered librarians with his persistent book requests, sending fellow students scampering with that typical authoritative glare from the head of the Disciplinary Committee, picking on that naïve chicken wuss...
He did not realise that he was smiling wistfully as Balamb Garden slowly made its way around the shore, and disappearing into the hills behind Dollet.
"Come on, let's go home, Fuj. Instructor's probably wondering what the hell we're doing being away from our SeeD Review Test, ya know?" Raijin remarked through chattering teeth, while trying to squeeze every drop of seawater out from his lead-heavy, well-soaked vest and trousers.
"HMPH. NO FUN," was all Fujin replied with a snort. After all, It was her idea to sneak out of Balamb's main gate and to go fishing to relieve some of that exam tension.
He cursed loudly and cried out in pain, but it wasn't Fujin's kicking or stomping which made him do that. Seifer tried to suppress yet another snicker of delight when he noticed what was happening. A small crab, probably angry at being disturbed, latched its claw at Raijin's middle finger.
"IDIOT!" the silver-haired woman growled in annoyance as she suddenly strode off, one arm dragging a yelping Raijin away from the port, who was trying to pry off that offending creature from him. But the blonde knew that Fujin was secretly smiling in amusement. She always did, although she never showed it openly to anyone. He could remember that slight upcurve on her lips, too subtle to be noticed except by the most observant and the closest of her friends.
But he wasn't a friend to either of them. Not anymore.
Minutes passed. Once again, Seifer was left alone, standing on the edge of the jetty. The urge to laugh at his former comrade's silliness had long dissipated. Once again, he was haunted by that same, poisonous voice.
Well? Aren't you going to follow them?
He rubbed his temples, as though the decision was a difficult one. His answer was strained, every word being painful and reflective of the reality surrounding him.
"No. After what I did to them... I don't deserve to return into their lives. I've caused them too much anguish and hurt already. It's best that they forget about me - forever." He sighed, and found himself crouching on the wooden planks as if a great burden was rested upon his shoulders.
"Besides," he continued as he stared longingly at the direction where the duo left only moments ago, "they look pretty happy themselves without me."
He felt his gut twisting into knots. Not too long ago, he would have shrugged this away as another anxiety attack, or a growing concern over his bleak future. But now, he knew better.
"I may have won many battles and gained the glory I desired - if only for a few days... but I've lost so much during that process.." his voice faltered, the whispery words carried off by the gentle breeze blowing from the seas beyond.
So you do admit your defeat after all.
The will to fight back was gone. Scattered, just as the flower petals which trailed the Garden as it journeyed through fields of summer blooms on rolling green hills. Seifer nodded weakly; a defeated Knight he was.
Admitting the sins of your past is only the first step.
Accepting the truth is the only way to your release.
An awkward pause. The blonde did not know what to say or do.
Come now. It is time you return home.
A home hidden in the deepest abysses of the oceanic depths, woven by the tattered fabrics of time and space. A barren and godforsaken abode shrouded eternally in darkness and loneliness, filled with... nothing. An empty place, just as his grief-stricken mind was. A cold, depressing, watery niche devoid of life, completely deserted and shunned by the living.
But the young man grinned.
Fate is cruel. And yet he still smiles, Seifer thought.
After all, he was still a heroic Knight in heart.
One whose soul still burned with the passion of a romantic dream held so long ago.
"Yes... it's time to return."
A thunder rumbled in the distance, signalling a heavy downpour for the rest of the evening. Seifer Almasy stood up, and stretched his stiffened muscles and yawned casually as if it was just another idle day gone by. He even took the time to straighten out his trenchcoat and his breastplate, brushing off the invisible dust and sand from his clothes.
Seifer smoothed out his short-cropped golden hair and allowed that ever-famous smirk to creep up his face. It was a habit which followed him till this day.
The forgotten Knight may not live and fight another day... but he remains what he is now : A distant memory lingering in the people's minds. That, for him, was more than enough.
Like the arrogant, haughty person he once was, Seifer boldly and recklessly marched ahead into the waters. But strangely, he did not fall unceremoniously into the murky depths, nor was his coat ever soaked by the stinging saltwater.
He simply faded into the clear, crisp, midsummer air.
"What is wrong, dear child?"
Rinoa was startled by the calm, crystalline voice, but she was determined not to show her distress to anyone. She was now a Sorceress, and the heir to the country of Timber. Any display of vulnerability and weakness was simply intolerable, for they do not befit such a powerful influence that she was. Remaining silent, she continued to sit at the edge of the rocky cliff, her knees tucked neatly under her chin, her arms holding her legs together.
She looked so much like a helpless, distraught infant.
A newborn Sorceress, who had yet to master nor to control her unimaginable abilities.
Edea shook her head sadly, letting the long straight locks of raven hair to tumble over her slender shoulders. Once, people would regard this as a dangerous sign of disapproval, or perhaps, of irritation. But now...
"Let the buried feelings out, child. It will do good for you and your newfound powers."
Rinoa sighed. Edea Kramer was such a perceptive person, who was able to see through the veil which disguised even the most powerful Sorceress's emotions. No wonder Squall said that she was an exceptionally caring and understanding Matron, she thought.
"W.. Will everything.. be torn down?" the younger woman asked in a shaky voice.
The ex-Sorceress found herself gazing at the scenery around her. Barren lands stretched for miles, with the desolate atmosphere pervading every inch in the region. Only the sounds of waves crashing and pounding endlessly against the cliffs accompanied the two - they echoed like cries of sadness, of lost memories from the past, and of the screams of dying White SeeDs that would one day haunt this place in the far future.
As she caught a glimpse of the old, ruined orphanage far to the south, her eyes shimmered with tears for a while. By the wise decision from the Esthar president, and by her approval, the place was to be quietly destroyed, and a small Garden erected in its place. No one was certain of the future, and no one dared to speculate what could have happened before Squall's arrival upon the castle's doorways on that distant fateful day.
White SeeDs would be trained there, and prepared for mankind's greatest struggle for freedom. They would fight courageously, sacrificing their lives to pave the way for Balamb's SeeDs. They would willingly throw their lives away to weaken Ultimecia's servants to ensure a future for the past, the present, and the future.
And that would explain the sea of fallen warriors which Squall witnessed before climbing up that massive chain which separated the evil Sorceress from the dying lands beneath the castle, she thought.
It was ironic that a SeeD was to have started the chain of events leading to the death of his fellow comrades. It was a circle which could not be broken; a vicious cycle which would go on, forever, and ever. SeeD will oppose the Sorceress, and the Sorceress will not hesitate to eradicate their existence. A bloodbath spanning for generations was unavoidable.
But perhaps it is best to be prepared for the doomed future, she thought darkly.
"Will this whole.. cliff.. be torn down?" Rinoa repeated her question meekly, almost afraid of the answer she would receive. Her fingers were lovingly brushing against a smooth stony surface laid out beside her, while her legs shifted uncomfortably as another strong chilly gale blew against her exposed skin.
Edea felt sorry for the girl. So much was expected of her, and yet there was so little time. She was so young and immature, delicate and unprepared, and still traumatised from the recent horrifying events. She had to fight her own inner battles on her own, of conflicting goals and emotions, of contradicting interests and desires. Such was the agony suffered by every new Sorceress before the ultimate acceptance of her destiny, and Edea Kramer was a testament to that.
"Just the orphanage, dear child," the raven beauty tried to console Rinoa. After all, this place bore deep memories, even for Caraway's daughter. It was here that she and Squall made their promise.
Edea took a cautious step towards her, a concerned look on her maternal visage, a hand raised to offer a healing touch of comfort. The glint of the smooth surface of a flat stone beside Rinoa caught her attention, and immediately she realised the cause of her anxiety.
"I assure you, child.. nothing will happen to that plaque. It is much too valuable for me to be removed. And I know... you treasure it as much as I do."
For the first time, Rinoa looked up with tears in her eyes which threatened to spill over down her cheeks. A sniffle escaped from her, and she tried to hide her face beneath her long flowing black hair again, away from the shame and guilt that she felt inside her.
The older woman quickly stepped over several protruding rocks, and was instantly kneeling beside her. A long pale finger tilted Rinoa's chin upward, allowing the ex-Sorceress to gaze into those glimmering brown eyes. A warm, confident smile radiated from Edea, filling Rinoa with a sense of renewed hope. The younger woman marvelled how Edea looked like so close to her - maternal and almost ethereal at the same time.
"Child, you show compassion even towards those who do harm unto you. That is a good sign, and you must always remember that. Part with the vengeance you harboured, and embrace the memories and love you felt before you became a Sorceress."
Rinoa was already hugging the older woman. She never felt more relieved to have someone to understand her - not even Squall could have said those precious few words which suddenly brightened up her life. Squall may love her with all his heart, but there were some things which only Sorceresses could share...
"I realised.. I don't hate him," the voice came through brokenly, as she was wracked by sobs and grief. Tears which had welled up for the past hour finally found their release, and trickled unhindered down the pink cheeks.
"Memories.. of us.. together.. I cannot forget them.. but.. I... Squall..." her voice faltered at that moment into sobs and gasps. Emotions were gushing out like a dam which had burst open, and she let herself free into Edea's motherly arms.
Edea let out a sigh. She knew what chaos was going through in the girl's mind. "Set your heart free, Rinoa. He ran away on his own accord when he realised his mistake in giving you to Adel..."
Rinoa shuddered as she remembered the terrifying gloating face dawning above her, before consuming her body in a single, cruel swipe of those crimson claws.
"... He had seen the wrong he had done. He saw the blood in his own hands, and the treachery his blind quest had led him to. I felt the fear in him, child."
A pause. Rinoa lifted up her head slightly, slightly embarassed from crumbling so pathetically into the older woman's bosom. She sniffled again, trying to calm herself down.
"Edea.. I saw through Adel's eyes... I saw his desire to escape his sins... he ran far, far away that day, never looking back, never giving a second thought to his romantic dream. He was afraid of what he had done.. not only to me.. but to his friends."
Edea wanted to tell the girl to stop dwelling in the painful past, but decided against that when Rinoa continued in an almost sheepish and shaky voice. Poor girl, she thought.
"He regretted his actions... He really did. I... I forgive him... I want the old him back... I want us to be friends..." and her voice lowered again, as a sudden surge of sadness overcame her.
"But.. why must Fate be so.. cruel? Why did he throw himself from the Lunatic Pandora, and down into the time compressed world? Why were the waters so merciless that day? Why did the seas swallow him so quickly? Why wasn't he allowed to swim to safety? Why was he never found? Why???" Rinoa almost cried out in utter frustration, her fingers desperately holding on tightly to the older woman as though she would provide her with the answers.
But she didn't. The decisions of the heavens were beyond the comprehension of even the greatest abilities of the Sorceresses.
Both fell silent. Minutes passed.
"I... I miss him, Edea..." she finally sobbed quietly into Edea's. Like a mother which Rinoa never had, Edea stroked her hair, whispering words of understanding. But unknown to the young Sorceress, she too, was already softly crying against the strong winds.
"So do I, child...
So do I."
Edea embraced the girl tightly, shielding her against the furious gales now beating against their frail forms. A thunder rumbled in the distance, mirroring the sadness they felt, promising to bring more misery to the entire continent.
Edea Kramer was not there to save him on that fateful day. All she could
do, was to lovingly hold on to that distant memory as the years passed..
A memory of loved one, running far, far away..
Just like that little boy, so long ago.
If Squall had been a little more observant while he and his two companions made their way to the legendary chain anchoring the massive castle to the ground, he would have noticed a small, rectangular plaque lying near where the orphanage once was: its surface faded and marred by cracks, the edges worn-out by the ravages of time, but its existence still as defiant against the elements of nature as always.
Upon this epitome of the passing seasons, were the words which were forever captured in a living memory of two loved ones, entombed for as long as eternity itself :
(xxxx - xxxx)
Fondly remembered by his friends
as a Knight whose soul burned
with the passion of a romantic dream.
Author's Note : Thanks for reading! Feel free to distribute this fanfic, or host in your website if you have one. All I ask in return, is that you give credits to where they are due.
Comments and brickbats are welcomed, just send them to email@example.com Or visit my COLOURLESS DREAMS homepage at http://surf.to/Serena_Lee Warning, the FF-related pages MAY contain YAOI stuff. Viewer discretion is HIGHLY recommended.
This is my first FF8 fanfic, and I can't believe I already killed off my hero and turned him into some sort of martyr. Blah. Yeah, he became a wandering ghost from the seas (where his body lay till this day, and was never found) who clung onto his past, who would never RIP, who would be eternally be mocked by that annoying presence lurking in his head, and who would always be found fishing in Dollet (don't ask me why). Cool!
Anyway, you can guess the reason why I wrote this.. yeah.. I've read a lot of fics telling us how Seifer somehow made it safe after the world was time-compressed like a pancake, and he turned into a new leaf, and went back to his posses, and start a new life, and eventually became a SeeD, and yadah yadah yadah. I'm just trying to be different.. err.. hmm..
Can't blame you if you thought this is a rip-off from someone else's work, coz I haven't read every FF8 fanfic out there yet. If you think I've copied someone's ideas, kindly let me know so I can thank them for killing off Seifer and turning him into a worshipped martyr. Or even a divinely image. Ooh. Heh heh. Don't flame me! Ciao!
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