By Fyre Byrd

It was snowing. White flakes of ice interlaced and fell before Seifer's eyes. The first few landed whole and perfect against the black leather of his gloves and melted quickly leaving no trace. In only seconds they were falling in white clots and clusters, so thick and fast that the meagre heat generated by his body could no longer thaw them. Snow gathered in Seifer's short blond hair, on his shoulders and his bent thighs. Snow gathered in the corners of the burned and broken building where Seifer had taken shelter, making the chilled stone ruins appear colder than they yet had been. The cold metallic gray sky slowly faded to black, heralding the end of the year with little fanfare. The sun had been invisible all day, so that Seifer had scarcely been aware of its presence, was hardly missed now with the white snow starkly highlighting each mass of black rock, each bare tree and one tired and lonely fugitive.

Seifer blinked away the steadily falling snow from his lashes and shivered. He was an ex-mercenary and if it was a difficult job to have, it was an even more difficult job to lose. Seifer still had a Guardian Force junctioned behind his pale green eyes and through its power he wielded just twelve flare spells. Underneath the stiff black gloves, Seifer's fingers were numb. He feared that if he didn't do something soon, he might lose them. Opening and flexing his icy fingers, Seifer cast a spell.

There were so many unusual effects of magic that had to be gotten used to, it was easy to forget about them in the heat of battle, when letting the mind slip away for a second could mean death. Here, alone, on the eve of the new year it was impossible to ignore the results of a spell casting. Guardian Forces were parasites, burrowing through the mind, and thoughts, dreams, hopes were their food. Most people deemed the loss of daydreams worth the cost to gain so much strength. Sometimes the stolen memories were recovered for a brief instant, for the flash of a fire spell, for the sweet cool of a cure spell. Seifer, like every other fighter who employed a Guardian Force, had learned to brush aside the smiling faces of friends he no longer recalled along with the nightmares and embarrassments, the triumphs and failures that flashed through his head while his fingertips tingled with a lightning spell. When the flare bloomed between his suddenly aching hands, however, Seifer was unprepared to suppress the image that burst behind his eyes.

Seifer was being tucked into bed. He could feel the weight and warmth of the green and blue quilt that enfolded his body and the sweet soft heaviness of his limbs as he neared sleep. A soft hand brushed across his brow and it seemed as though a certain feeling of safety was being conveyed through the gesture. The lurid purple glow of the flare spell faded swiftly along with its intense heat and Seifer was startled into alertness as his chin hit his chest. His eyes flew open, and his vision sparkled and a danced a little as he realized that he was probably in the first stages of hypothermia. It wouldn't do to sleep now, not when he was so close to remembering.

Seifer cast another spell, smiling slightly as the blue and purple energy between his hands made colours flash and shimmer across the snow around him. There were Christmas lights in the window, the kind that flashed and winked, the glass was cool against his forehead, but the hot chocolate in his hands was warm and equally warm was the weight of an arm across his shoulders. Seifer could taste chocolate on his tongue and the person beside him laughed and squeezed his shoulder.

Seifer's shoulder brushed the cold, hard wall as he found himself leaning almost dangerously close to the last glimmers of his spell. Seifer tried to be alarmed at the speed with which his spells were being consumed and at the gentle black sucking feeling in his head that threatened to pull him down, but he was feeling rather warm now and it had been too long since he had heard someone laugh. Perhaps if he cast another spell that dry amused voice would ring in his ear again and he would recall. For an instant Seifer looked up at the sky and saw a shooting star. The sky must have cleared while he sat here dreaming in the cold ruins of his life. Seifer remembered from somewhere, that when a star fell from the sky it meant that someone was dying.

The flare spell flowed from Seifer's trembling fingers and he watched it intently. There were candles in the darkened room, their flames caused purple ghosts to appear in the darkness when Seifer moved his eyes away from their light. A beautiful man with rich blue eyes and silky brown hair was sitting across the table and smiling at something across the room. It was a disconcerting sort of smile because the man wore it so seldom. "Squall," Seifer said, and heard his own rough voice tremble.

The smile melted like the snowflakes had somewhere and Squall turned his head to look at Seifer and frowned, there was a scar between his eyes like the one that Seifer wore so proudly on his own forehead. "What're you staring at, Almasy?"

"Nothing," Seifer replied, "you. Listen, Squall I know you don't give a fuck about me, but don't leave me here. I always get left somewhere, at an orphanage, with a sorceress, in a prison and in a few seconds you'll be gone, just like everything."

The beautiful eyes widened and grew puzzled, the candlelight flickered and threatened to go out. Outside of the vision Seifer's body mechanically cast the remaining spells, one after another, refusing to let this last dream disappear. Seifer leaned across the table and pressed his lips to Squall's soft, full lips, causing him to emit a startled gasp. "Just, take me with you this time," Seifer breathed desperately against those lips. The last spell shed it's purple light across his face and trembled in the depths of his eyes and was gone.

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