By PurpleRose

After the defeat of Ultimecia things were hard. I had been responsible for pitting Garden against Garden in a battle that killed a number of Balamb Garden SeeDs. It was fair to say I wasnít well liked before, but now I am loathed, and it's not fair. Itís not fair because everyone accepted Edea, Cidís wife, back after her involvement with no questions because she was controlled by Ultimecia. Well so was I, but no one forgives me, Seifer Almasy, the Garden's scapegoat and all round blame barer. Not a week goes by when Iím not attacked in the Garden's hallway by someone wanting revenge for a friend or sibling, so I try to keep out of the way, I can never let a fight go, so better not to be around people who want to fight me.

So, I learnt how to play cards, but the Card Club wouldnít have me. Now I spent my time at Balamb harbour. Sometimes I play cards with Jesse, sometimes I fish. I used to have Rajin and Fujin to keep me company, but they became all couply (or as much as that is possible for them, talk about the weirdest relationship in the garden). They donít want to see me anymore; they never really forgave me for ignoring them during my time with Edea. Them and everyone else. Everyone seems to be in couples, Irvine and Selphie, Squall and Rinoa, Zell and that girl with the braid from the library. Its sickening, that chicken wuss is less lonely than I am. Jesse is nice, but he is a little card obsessive. In fact he didnít even notice the garden was gone as he was so engrossed.

Oh great, here comes another happy couple, Squall and Rinoa. Oh look, sheís jumping on his back and heís laughing, cue the soppy music. She could have been mine, we spent a year together in Timber, and I set up her meeting with Cid so she could get help with her resistance group. In effect I introduced her to Squall. SHE SHOULD BE MINE!!!! AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

Oh great here I go, my temper isnít good. I run up and pull Rinoa behind me, she was mine first. I shriek and punch him in the face, luckily neither of us have weapons, he falls back then tackles me, I roll over and bang. Iíve pinned him, Iím straddling him my hand on his throat. Rinoa is screaming but I donít hear it, all I can think of is how close our bodies are, whatís wrong with me, pull yourself together, this has never happened before, oh god, his face.

"No, No, No," I shout shaking my head, I jump up and run away as fast as possible.

What was that? Iíve never felt that before, was that? His face. Itís all I can think of now, thatís not right, Iím supposed to hate him, I nearly killed him twice. Think, think, pull yourself you pathetic excuse for a man. Was it him I was jealous of for having Rinoa or Rinoa for having him? Oh shit I want him. Iím sitting on my bed, in a single dorm, since everyone refused to share with me, having the biggest revelation of my life, the man I have hated and teased throughout my life, from childhood, is the one thing I need. And I pushed him away. IDIOT. Thatís what I am, and now heís with that soppy tart and hates me because I merged her with the Sorceress Adel. ITíS NOT MY FALT. I can't cope with this; it's too strange.

Hungry. Walking to the cafeteria, late at night, so I don't run into anyone. There's only a few people around, shit! There's Squall. Where's he going? I flatten myself against the wall as he passes, don't want a rematch. Where is he going, he's never usually out this late, I'd have seen him more often. I walk out into the hallway behind him, ahh, he's going to the training centre like a true workaholic. Again I follow, like a fool. He moves through the centre like a pro, slicing through the monsters with ease. Then enters the secret area behind it, unusual, then I realise why. Rinoa's there. They kiss and I run off yet again, this is not healthy, he fills my thoughts, I have to get away.

Iím now in Timber, in a pub, looking at the bottom of a glass of whiskey. The burly, whiskered bar man says, "So how is little Rinoa?"

I give him an icy look, "ruining my life, as it happens".

"Ahhhhhhhhhhh" says the barman knowingly "she always was a heartbreaker."

I give him the same look. "Itís not her thatís the heart breaker." I sigh and think of Squall, heís a heart breaker. Several hours later and I am thoroughly inebriated and sobbing into the shoulder of the unwilling barman, then two men enter the bar. They walk over "Oh, how the mighty have fallen, eh Seifer? Well, the way I see it, you allied yourself with Galbadia, against us, and your gonna pay." I am now slipping out of consciousness but I am vaguely aware of the Barman saying, "We donít want no trouble."

When I wake up I am cold, wet and I am lying on something hard. I open one eye cautiously and I can see sky. Then I feel a sharp pain in my leg and I am moving, I look up to see that a large, black, dog like creature dragging me along by the leg and a crowd of people from Timbre watching. Oh, I canít deal with this and a hangover, what possessed me to drink whiskey, oh yeah Squall. With that thought I propel myself with my free leg and rap the dog over the back of the dogís neck, hitting an essential nerve. The dog fell and I stand up and begin to limp out of the field, all the people are looking amazed, then much to my surprise, begin to clap. The barman runs out to help me walk, then he whispers in my ear "I have a really good idea..."

The next three months are a blur, at first I only drunk in the evening, when I was most lonely and then on Saturday the people of Timber would crowd into the field at 100 gil a piece to watch me fight 'fearsome monsters'. Then I drank all day, except fight days, but then things got too much to bear, a moment without a drink was a moment thinking of him. So one Saturday I give into the temptation, itís just too much. I stagger onto the field, my vision so blurred I canít see the crowd and I can vaguely make out the shape of an Enoyle. Itís massive and its wings are beating rapidly, then it lunges its massive sting towards me, I try to stumble out the way but itís too fast. I can feel the poison paralysing me slowly, the Enoyle roars in preparation for its wind attack to finish me off. Then, out of no where, the Guardian Force Bahamut appears the king of the dragons and begins to fight the Enoyle before it can complete its attack.

Bahamut, I have seen him before, fighting me, under the orders of Squall. My heart skips a beat, it canít be, has he come to find me, to be with me? His face appears in my failing vision and I smile, overjoyed. Then I hear Rinoaís voice "Iíve found the antidote!" and my heart is broken again. This time I did not wake up in a field, but in my bed in the pub, with Squall by my side and, unfortunately, Rinoa on my other side. They are talking.

Squall says, "You go and visit your friends, I have to take him back to the Garden."

"The whole point of this trip was for you to meet them, donít bother with him, last time you saw him he attacked you! He doesnít deserve your help." Squall's voice had an air of finality, "Have you thought about why he did that, and why he was drunk, fighting a monster for the benefit of your friends? Iím taking him back."

Rinoa snorts, "Fine, but Iím staying."

Then I open my eyes to announce my presence.

Before I know it, Iím to the train back to the Garden with Squall, much to my delight Rinoa is nowhere to be seen. We sit down on the seats in the train carriage, facing each other. We sit in silence for what seems like hours, but just being near him is enough to make me happy. Iíve really changed, I would never have allowed myself to be this weak before, I guess I just took people for granted, well not anymore!

"Squall?" He looks up, his eyes meeting mine, my heart is racing. "Iím sorry for attacking you and for being so insulting to you."

He smiles. "Youíve changed."

I smile back, "I was thinking that just now."

"Why did you leave?" he asks, his forehead creasing in a quizzical frown, causing his scar to make a zigzag shape.

"I couldnít cope with being hated anymore."

He looks even more puzzled, "But you were always hated."

I sigh; Iíve had a lot of time to think about this.

"When I was hated before it was because I had done it myself and I had Rajin and Fujin with me. I liked the idea of being the rebel and only caring about my 'romantic dream'. Then Ultimecia manipulated me, used me and my dream. When you defeated me on the Lunatic Pandora all I wanted to do was go with you and repay her for what she had done to me, but I was weak and beaten up. Then I realised that I am not indestructible. Then I wanted to come back to the Garden and apologise to everyone, but I never got the chance. So, I tried to avoid people so I didn't offend them. That's how much the experience with Ultimecia changed me, I avoided fights, and then Rajin and Fujin got bored with me. I never wanted to go anywhere. That's when I got lonely. Then I got angry when I saw you with Rinoa because we used to be so close, and I had to leave."

As I finished I noticed that he was listening intently, with sympathy in his eyes. I just had to comment "You've changed too."

"No I havenít."

I laugh, "Yes you have, you would never have cared about anyoneís problems before, and never mine."

Then Squall started laughing,

"What, whatís so funny?"

He smiles and says, "I never knew you noticed." His face is then serious again "So what was the deal with fighting that monster for show?"

I look away; it's not a nice subject.

"I was earning money. I have one skill, so I had to use it."

Then he looks straight through me, "So it was nothing to do with having hundreds of people cheering you on?"

Surprise, he knows me!

"Stop being perceptive, it's too strange."

We spent the rest of the train journey making idle conversation, something I hadn't done in a while.

Back at the Garden, and in the infirmary. Dr Kadowaki is prodding me with some instruments

"Well," she says, "for a young man who has spent the last three months drinking and fighting, you are in remarkably good shape. Once that arm heals you'll be as good as new."

Great, then I can stop being afraid some revenge driven nutter is going to attack me, 'cause then I can fight back.

The Doctor leaves and in walks headmaster Cid. Great, I finally get back and I'm going to be expelled.

"Hello Seifer, feeling better?"

"Yes thank you." Maybe if I'm polite, he'll be lenient.

"Well, I'm glad you're safe, but we can only allow you stay at the Garden on a few provisos." Oh great, he's letting me stay. YES.

"These are that you show respect to other pupils, and are not violent towards pupils, SeeD and Instructors and you tell the gate guard where you are going if you go out."

What a relief, nothing too heavy!

"Thank you Sir!"

Cid looks surprised, "Well at least you're more polite."

I leave the infirmary to get some lunch from the cafeteria. All the hotdogs will be gone by now though. Still, Iím hungry. As I enter, quite a lot of people stop talking and watch me as I grab some lunch. Now theyíve started whispering. Great.

Then someone shouts at me. It's Squall, sitting at a table with Zell. At that point everyone looks away and I rush over to their table. Zell looks awkward. Squall notices and then looks at me, so I say

"Hi Zell, how have you been?"

He looks relieved, "Fine thanks. Gained a couple of SeeD ranks."

"Well done. Maybe Iíll take the test again once my arm heals."

Squall is watching with interest, then says, "You two, having a civil conversation. This is twisted."

I look at him, "So was you being insightful, so now weíre even."

Squall is being nice to me; I could get used to this. Not only that, I have a posse again; Selphie, Irvine, Zell and Quistis have accepted me with no questions. Two years ago this would have been my idea of hell, but now it's nice. It's more than nice because Squall's there.

Iím sat in my old spot on the pier; Iíve taken Squall fishing, since heís never been. The night is clear and you can see right out into the ocean. Squall's fishing rod starts to twitch and he tries to reel it in.

"No, no, you're reeling it the wrong way."

Squall's looking freaked and is trying to pull the rod back, whilst reeling out more line. I jump up behind him and grab his hands and start moving them in the right direction, heís so close, my heart is racing again. Oh, great. I am not getting a lump there where he can feel it! I jump back and sit back down as Squall reels out a fair sized fish. Heís really excited and bashing its head on the pear to kill it,

"Weíll eat this tomorrow!"

He sits back down and then leans across me to grab some more bait out of the bucket. Itís too much. I grab his arm and pull him up so heís facing me, then I kiss him. He pulls back and looks confused. Oh great; Iíve blown it. Now heíll never speak to me again.

Then, he kisses me. I canít believe it, he feels the same way! We then walk up from the pier hand in hand.

When we got back clothes flew!

The next morning I wake up and his head is nestled into my shoulder. I lean back. It doesnít get much better than this! Then he wakes up and looks up at me. He cuddles in further, then runs his finger down the scar on my face.

"I canít believe I did that to you, it seems like a lifetime ago."

I smile down at him, "It was, when we were very different people."

I laugh, "At least we match."

We lie in silence together. Then I start thinking. Bad move. What about Rinoa? So I ask and he says,

"Me and Rinoa, we havenít been doing well for a while. I donít know if you noticed in Timber, but sheís argumentative and difficult. And so spoilt. I used to wonder why her resistance group called her princes. Well, now I know, she expects to be treated like one all the time."

My heart sinks. So Iím just his escape from Rinoa. Ah, Iíll enjoy it while it lasts.

Later that day Rinoa came back. We got the news from Selphie as we sat in the library.

"Right," says Squall, "time to face the dragon."

I look at him, "Good Luck"

He starts to walk away, then runs back. He grabs my hand and says,

"Will you come with me?"

Great, he wants to use me as an excuse in front of her.

"Why? So you can say Ďhereís my new boyfriendí and not have to give her the real reason you want to split up with her."

He looks puzzled and his scar creases into that cute zigzag.

"No, I just want you to be there in case she attacks me. I donít want to hit her, so I might need someone to pull her off. You sure do have some funny ideas.

"I know, its just I..." No you idiot, donít tell him, heíll hate you.

"It's just what?"

Donít tell him.


He takes my hand and says, "I donít want you to be unhappy."

I look into his eyes, "Are you only with me to get rid of her?"

He takes my face in his hands, much to the surprise of the rest of the students in the library. He kisses me long and hard,

"I always wanted you, I just thought you hated me."

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