Shattered Feathers Chapter 7

By Tsarmina

Some time later, the incessant mutterings of my stomach woke me from my hard sleep. I lay on the bed, muddled and attempting to locate myself. I half-expected to be in my old Desert Palace, flopped across the luxurious bed after a bit too much to drink. I shook my head a little in an effort to throw those ideas out.

Upon coaxing my eyes opened, I recognized the little room that Rasha had given as my own. Oh. Right. I’m in Hell…

I pushed myself out of the bed, moving with stiffness from my sore body. I was better off than the night before, but I also didn’t feel as if I would be able to do a series of acrobatic flips…not that I had a want to do such.

My clothes were rumpled from sleeping in them, but for once I could have cared less. I had my priorities, and my stomach was informing me it was much more important than my sense of fashion. I propelled myself towards the door, ignoring the bits of pain this caused.

After stumbling through the halls and down the stairs, I entered an empty kitchen. I had expected to see Rasha, for some reason. I shrugged a little, deciding I could fend for myself in the kitchen. She was probably getting sleep, since she had been spending most of her time poking at me.

I peered through the window. Early afternoon, by the position of the sun. I had slept a good part of the day away. I couldn't remember the cause of my sheer exhaustion. It hadn’t been my wounds, had it? I had slept the entire night for those…

Something inside of me kept pushing me away from brooding. I found my mind wandering in the vicinity of food. Nothing else seemed of much importance.

I frowned at the multitude of cabinets and shelves. After a brief time rummaging amongst them, I realized that Rasha probably hadn’t gone to market for a number of days… Added to that, it was probably my own fault. In whatever language stomachs speak in, I was being thoroughly cursed for this.

“Anything…” I muttered to myself after sniffing at a stale chunk of bread. I nibbled a corner suspiciously. I winced. A rather serviceable anvil could be made out of that piece of bread. “…but that.”

I finally let myself at some rather questionable-looking fruit. For all I knew, they had been rotten for months. At least they were real, I decided, as I bit into a light orange-tinged fruit shaped like a lop-sided fist. It tasted sweet enough. At that moment, I didn’t care if it was poisonous. It was food.

After making my way through two pieces of such fruit, my stomach ended its tirade of irritability. I sighed, deciding to avoid eating anything else. I stared out the window to the sky, wondering what to do with myself.

I was never this bored before… I sighed inwardly. This life had always seemed…boring in comparison to my last life.

“Sitting around washing dishes would never be as exciting as destroying towns,” I scoffed. “But then, what is…”

I chuckled at the thought, running a hand through the chaos of my hair. It was probably long enough to tie up—long enough to get into my face and be an irritant.

I have no remembrance of falling asleep, but I one instance I was slouching against the counter in Rasha’s kitchen, the next somewhere else. It was a familiar place. Caught in a memory.

I twisted inside myself, but I couldn’t do anything. It was as if I were a mere passenger, nothing more. Which is really what I was. A passenger into the past…

Terra. I was walking through the old laboratory of Garland’s. It was some time before Zidane had been…born. I was still Garland’s favorite—his Angel of Death—and cocky with that fact. The sleek and familiar metal walls seemed to glide past me as I continued on my way, paying them no heed.

Even though I couldn’t see myself, I knew exactly how I would look: hair barely long enough to be described as “tousled,” build and face at the stage between boy and man, and clothes loose and comfortable.

A startlingly vivid dream, that’s what it had to be. A memory dredged up from the past that manifested itself in a feverish dream. It can’t be anything more. That voice is conjuring up things of the past I’ve tried to forget… I attempted to convince myself, no matter how ineffective my efforts were.

“What are you doing around here?” Garland grumped as I entered his main laboratory. He looked life-like, not a dream person. I could even smell him—the light scent of sweat from working too hard and too long. Dreams shouldn’t smell.

I fought against moving towards the wall, but still I leaned up against it. I felt my arms cross over my chest in the familiar cocky manner, my head tilting to one side to smirk at him.

“Oh? And why not?” The words came of their own accord. But then, my other self was in control. I knew I couldn’t interfere with the past, no matter how much I wanted to.

Garland’s eyes narrowed as he stared straight into my eyes. For a heart-throbbing second, it felt as if his eyes weren’t boring into myself from the past…but, instead, were looking straight at me. If I had lungs or breath to control, I would have quite likely gasped in surprise.

“You know that I’ve been too busy these last few days, Kuja. Why do you eat at my time like this?” Garland asked, turning away from me. He moved to one of the incubation tanks, staring deep into it. Only liquid met his gaze, but I felt he saw something more. Something that would be.

I shrugged, unruffled by his reaction to my entrance. “I thought I’d come and see how things are…flowing,” I replied.

“Oh, yes…” Garland murmured, expression changing to meditative. He arched an eyebrow as he looked back towards me. Once again, the unsettling feeling that he was staring right into my soul overwhelmed me. It wasn’t a feeling from the past. My old self didn’t notice anything different… The meaningful look in his eyes wasn’t for that self.

“What are you doing here?” Garland murmured.

I cocked my head. “Did you ask that already?” I scoffed. Idiotic youth, I growled, not that I expected to have any effect.

“Why, you shouldn’t be here…” Garland said softly, advancing a step towards me. “You’re trying to hide something, are you? What is your secret, Kuja?”

Jerking away to once side, I stared at Garland. “What are you talking about?” I demanded, apprehension sliding into my question and manner.

Garland shook his head a little. “Nothing,” he said, voice suddenly gruff. “Just the musings…of an old man.” With these last words, his mouth twisted into a bitter smile. “You’ll…understand one day, obviously.”

Get out! Get out! I found myself wailing, but the cocky youth of my past was content to stare in confusion at the old man. Flailing about stupidly for answers to his strange manners.

“Mmm. I’m sure you have something better to be doing right now. At any rate, go busy yourself elsewhere. I have much work that needs to be done…” Garland continued after watching me for a short while. He waved a hand towards the door that stood so near me…

I turned and walked out the door, stopping just outside it to look over my shoulder. Garland continued staring at me. “And you had better leave, too,” he murmured, once again gesturing with his hand.

Disjointed, I jerked awake. I was, once again, standing in the kitchen of Chanterelle Tavern. I wasn’t on Terra. Gaia. Terra was…gone… Destroyed.

I tried to stare hard at the table but my eyes became unfocused. I screwed them shut, shaking my head a little to one side. Upon opening them again, I saw the table. The wooden, hard, splintery table. And the kitchen that I had known for some time.

You see? You couldn’t stop it… The whispering came as it had that morning: from nowhere and without any real volume.

“No…” I whispered in reply. I couldn’t understand how Garland would have known I was there. Of course, he would have known my old self was there, but how did he know I had been watching…?

I shuddered, trying to deny that it had occurred. It just made too much sense. I had always thought Garland was losing his mind due to his work, but now I realized he just had more layers of awareness than I had. That I could ever dream of.

Which made me wonder…

Oh, yes. Wonder all you will, Kuja…

I could swear I heard laughter.


Chapter 8

Final Fantasy 9 Fanfic