Author's Notes: FF8 and all associated characters are property of Squaresoft, blah, blah, blah.... author is a poor student so lawsuits would be fruitless ... blah, blah, blah.... author realizes that this is not the world's best fic, it goes without saying or flaming... Squall and Zell are my fav couple, so they will be together, it may just take a while...
"Quotes" //thoughts// *dreams*
The Forbidden Angel
By Zechsy Shimegami
It had been about a month since the defeat of Ultimecia and things were finally settling down in Balamb. The garden was put back in it's original resting place, and Galbadia had backed off in its military actions. Cid had insisted that they keep a lid on the whole saving the world thing. If it was made public that Squall and the others had defeated the world's most powerful sorceress, they wouldn't get a moments peace. Quistis was given back her teaching license. Rinoa surrendered her powers back to Edea and went off to rejoin the Timber Owls. As is with many first loves, Squall and Rinoa just weren't meant to last and when the whole thing was said and done, they quickly fell apart. As she left, Rinoa seemed to be muttering about how Squall was really in love with someone else... Anyway, at least she had managed to help Squall open up. He had become quite involved once he finally got over his "Whatever" stage ... well ... mostly over it anyway.
Zell was spending yet another night tossing and turning in his sleep. He'd been plagued with strange dreams since the final battle was over. * "Why do I have to go?! I wanna stay with you!" the small child cried, clinging to his mother's dress, burying his face in the blood red fabric. The woman leaned down and picked up the child, tears forming in her eyes.
"This is the way Hyne wants it, but I will not let her win. I may not be able to find where they hid your father from me, but they can't take you away from me too. I will find a way, my little one. Even if I have to tear this world apart to do it, I will find you again," the woman promised her sobbing child, stroking his head comfortingly. She looked up to see the Sentinels. They were the three henchmen of Hyne. They punished those who broke her laws by a means of her choosing. They wore long, black, hooded robes that hid their faces and black gloves and boots so that none of their flesh could be seen.
"It's time," The lead Sentinel announced, approaching the woman. She kissed her child on the forehead, then reluctantly let the Sentinel take him. She had to fight back the urge to simply take her child and run. She couldn't escape them if she ran, no one could.
"No! Mommy, please don't let them take me!" the child sobbed, trying to struggle out of the Sentinel's iron grip. The woman's heart ached. If only she were strong enough to defeat them.
"It is all right, little one. Hyne only wishes to punish your father and I. They will find you a good home," the woman assured her child. //A good home where I can never see you again, just like your father.// With that, the Sentinels disappeared with her son. The woman collapsed to her knees. "I will make them pay. We'll all be together again. Alexander, I swear I will get our son back!" she declared with tears running down her cheeks. *
Zell awoke abruptly. He sat up, pulling his knees to his chest. //I hate these stupid dreams. Who are the people I keep seeing in them? This last one almost felt familiar. What's going on?// Zell pondered, shuddering slightly, unable to fall asleep for the rest of the night.
The next morning at breakfast in the cafeteria, at the group's usual table in the back, away from the crowd, "Another sleepless night, Zell?" Quistis asked, concern evident in her voice.
"Soon we'll be able to call you Raccoon-boy," Selphie giggled, pointing out the dark circles around Zell's eyes.
"Very funny," Zell sighed without his usual enthusiasm. Zell may have been a hyper ball of energy all the time, but a month without a decent night's sleep was really getting to him.
"Maybe you should see Dr. Kadowoki about some sleeping pills," Quistis suggested.
"Already tried that. I even tried going to bed earlier, listening to music, and exhausting myself in the training center before I go to bed. Nothing works," Zell groaned, convinced he may actually be doomed to sleepless nights for all eternity.
"So are you having nightmares or something? This last week I've had nothing but dreams about the orphanage. Hey, I haven't been junctioned to a GF since we got back a month ago. Do you suppose that could mean that my dreams are actually returning memories?" Selphie wondered, amazingly all in one breath.
"That can't be. I mean, don't GFs just erase memories to make room," Irvine piped in.
"Well, there isn't exactly any research on it. What if the GFs just kind of push peoples memories out of the way. After all, people only use a small fraction of their brains. Maybe GFs just shove your memories to the dormant part of your head so that they can use the active part of your brain. Then, when the GF isn't there, your memories can come back in the form of dreams because their locked away in a part of your brain that only the subconscious thought process can reach," Selphie figured.
"Maybe. Now that you mention it, I've been having dreams about the orphanage these past few nights as well," Quistis admitted.
"Maybe we should wait until Cid's research team finishes its study on the subject before we go jumping to conclusions," Squall suggested, always the most logical and rational of the group.
Meanwhile, in the Quad, "CAN'T," Fujin objected.
"It was her last wish, Fujin. She used the last of her strength in her dying moment to tell it to me. And as the sorceress' knight, I have to honor it," Seifer stated.
"But she just used you, ya'know," Raijin pointed out.
"I was the one who chose to become her knight and I now choose to finish it by granting her last request. Are you two going to abandon me again?" They both shook their heads.
"As long as it is truly your own decision, we'll stand behind you, ya'know," Raijin assured and Fujin nodded in agreement. The thought to have the whole thing be truly behind them once and for all was actually very comforting. Seifer smiled at that. No matter what happened, his posse was always there for him.
That night, it was Squall's turn to be visited by a strange dream. * It was pouring outside. Squall looked out the small windows at the front of the stone orphanage to see some blurry figures in the distance. He immediately ran to get Matron. Matron opened the door and immediately froze in fear. Squall stood beside her, wondering just what was going on. He had never seen her so scared before in his life. Before them stood three cloaked figures. The one in the middle was carrying a large bundle in a blanket. "Fear not, Edea. We are not here to punish you. In fact, we must ask your assistance. We ask that you take care of this child and monitor his behavior for any signs of problems," the Sentinel requested.
"Of course I will," Edea agreed, taking the bundle from the Sentinel, "But what exactly do you mean by 'problems'?"
"His very birth is in violation of one of the most sacred laws. I believe I need not speak it for you to know of which one I mean."
"Squall, please go find Cid and inform him that we have a new addition," Matron instructed. Squall nodded and turned to leave.
"There is one more thing, the child's father is..." was all Squall managed to hear the Sentinel say before he ran off to go find Cid. *
The next day, Squall, Irvine, and Zell were practicing in the training center together. "Irvine, do you remember how you came to the orphanage?" Squall inquired, after slicing yet another grat in two.
"Not really, why do you ask?"
"I had a weird dream about the orphanage last night and it got me thinking about what Selphie said. Since you have the most memory out of any of us, I thought you might be able to recall it as well, if it is indeed a memory."
"I guess that makes sense. I can't remember something out of your dream. So, what happened in this dream of yours?"
"Well, it was pouring rain outside and three guys dressed in black robes dropped off a child. It was strange, you couldn't see their faces and the blanket hid whoever they were dropping off. Matron was practically petrified, she was so afraid of them." Irvine seemed to ponder it for a moment. Neither of them noticed how Zell seemed to pale slightly at the mention of the robed trio.
"I can't recall anything like that," Irvine admitted, shaking his head.
"Then it must have just been a dream."
"You never know. I may have the most memories, but that isn't actually saying too much. The GFs managed to wipe out most of my really early memories. I wouldn't give up hope on Selphie's theory yet. It may sound strange, but I think her idea makes a lot of sense."
"The prospect of getting our memories back is rather appealing."
"Can we just back to training?" Zell requested. Squall couldn't help but notice how distracted Zell was for the rest of the training session.
Meanwhile, in the library, "So is my book in yet?" Seifer asked the girl at the counter.
"Um ... let me see... No, but it will be in tomorrow," The girl informed with a smile. Seifer frowned in return.
"It was supposed to be in a week ago, and I think it has been. Stop this childish crap and give me my book," Seifer demanded in a cold, calm voice.
"I don't know what you're talking about," the girl insisted, feigning innocence.
"You've got some moronic schoolgirl crush on me and keeping my book hostage is a means for you to drag me in here looking for it day after day. I'm tired of this cat and mouse game, so just give it to me," Seifer ordered. The girl blushed and handed the book to him. "Thanks," Seifer mumbled under his breath, as he turned and left, gray trechcaot swaying behind him.
"BOOK?" Fujin inquired, as Seifer waltzed up to his posse.
"Yeah, no thanks to the library committee."
"They always mess up, ya'know. We gonna set it up now?"
"Not yet, I still have to get a few more things before my plan can be set into motion," Seifer stated, strumming through the books table of contents.
That night, it was Selphie's turn to recall the past in a dream. * Selphie, Irvine, and Zell were all playing on the beach together, making a sand castle. Well, little Selphie's mind began to wander and curiosity took over, as it often did with her. "Zell, how come you have a tattoo? I thought little kids couldn't get tattoos," Selphie observed, walking over to the blond youth to examine it more thoroughly. Zell got a sad look in his eyes and sighed.
"It's not a tattoo. It's a birthmark to show that I'm cursed."
"Cursed? Is that why Seifer always picks on you? Or are you just bad luck?" Irvine asked, pausing in his sand castle building to also get a better look at the black swirls on Zell's face.
"I don't know, that's just what I've been told," Zell admitted. "But if I am bad luck, I hope some of it rubs off on Seifer!" With that the children decided to simply drop the topic for a later day and went back to their construction of the castle's moat. *
The next day after class, Squall and Zell were standing in the hall talking, when Selphie bounded up to them. "Hi guys! Hey Zell, when did you get your tattoo?" Selphie questioned. Zell leaned back for a minute thinking.
"I honestly can't remember. I think I had it before I came to Garden, but I'm not sure."
"Your mom let you get a tattoo at twelve?"
"I guess. Thanks to our GFs, I can't even remember getting it."
"Why are you so curious about Zell's tattoo all of a sudden?" Squall asked, figuring it had to do with a dream, like the one he had.
"I had a dream about it last night. We were building a sand castle and I asked him about it, but in my dream he said it was a birthmark to show that he is cursed."
"Well, I don't feel cursed. Don't you think that maybe, just maybe, that was really just a dream. Maybe the part about the sand castle was an actual memory, but then it just went to a dream from there. After all, the subconscious and dreams are usually that strange." Zell suggested.
"I guess you're right. Well, I'll catch you guys later," Selphie chirped, running off to go glomp to Irvine. Once the two were out of sight, Squall turned his attention back to Zell and they started walking back to their dorms.
"Zell, is something bothering you?"
"Of course not," Zell insisted, although a bit nervously. Squall sighed, shaking his head. Zell was such a terrible liar sometimes. Squall wordlessly motioned Zell to come sit with him in his dorm. They had some things to discuss.
"I find that hard to believe. You haven't been sleeping well and whenever someone mentions the memory dreams you turn pale." Zell looked solemn for a moment as he sat down beside Squall on the bed.
"I'm afraid they might actually be memories. You know those three robed guys you were talking to Irvine about? Well, they were in a dream of mine too. However, in my dream, they were taking me away from some lady."
"I don't know. I mean, she looked familiar somehow, but I can't figure out from where. And what about what Selphie said? What if I really am cursed or something?"
"Zell, don't be ridiculous. You're not cursed. I would think we would know by now if you were."
"I guess so. I just have a bad feeling about the whole thing."
"I know, maybe we can get Sis to help."
"But didn't she swear off using her powers?"
"Yes, but if it will finally put your mind at ease, she might make an exception."
"No, it's okay. You're right, this whole thing is probably nothing. I'm just letting my over active imagination get the best of me."
Meanwhile, Seifer was doing some on-line shopping. "Doesn't anyone carry blood candles anymore?" Seifer sighed, as he scrolled through the occult store catalog. "There they are. Let's see, the book calls for five of them, so I'll get six just in case. Raijin, what's the next thing the spell calls for?"
"A fresh Behemoth heart and seven Torama whiskers. That's gross, ya'know."
"Well, no one ever said performing ancient spells from a book of black arts was supposed to be glamorous."
That night, in Quistis' dream,* It was early morning at the orphanage. Quistis had gotten up early to watch the sunrise. She walked out to the beach to see that she was not alone. Sitting on one of the large boulders, looking out over the ocean was Zell. At a second glance, Quistis realized that Zell's attention wasn't on the sun that was about to peak over the endless waves in a dazzling display of reds, oranges, and yellows. His attention was on something he held in his hands. Quistis quietly walked up behind him and looked over his shoulder, the sunrise forgotten for the sake of childlike curiosity. In his hands, Zell held a large black feather. Quistis wondered where he could have found it. The only birds they had around there were seagulls and their feathers were mainly white. "It's pretty." Quistis said. Zell jumped as if being knocked out of a trance. "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," Quistis apologized, but Zell didn't seem to hear her.
"I really am cursed," Zell muttered, turning the feather over and over in his hands.
"Dad's feathers were white. Mine are black. It's proof that I'm cursed," Zell mumbled, tears forming in his eyes.
The next day at lunch, "Zell, why are you so moody? You haven't been yourself lately," Selphie commented, looking concerned.
"I just have a lot on my mind."
"Guess who's turn it was to have a strange orphanage dream last night," Quistis said, as she sat down at the table.
//Please, please, please, say this has nothing to do with me.// Zell hoped. Quistis then explained her dream in full detail.
"Feathers? Okay, that had to have just been a dream."
"I know Seifer calls him 'Chicken-wuss,' but that is just ridiculous," Irvine agreed.
Meanwhile, "The ingredients for the spell won't be in for another week so I guess that just leaves me with one more thing to find," Seifer commented, reading the page in the book over again.
"I don't know how I'm going to find it. I'll figure out something."
"Maybe you could use one of those boards or those tarot cards, ya'know."
"This isn't going to be as easy as I thought," Seifer sighed, clasping his hand to his forehead.
That night in Irvine's dream, * Irvine and Selphie had decided to go play around the light house, even though Matron forbade it. Upon arriving at the tall tower, they heard choked sobs. They searched around the many massive rocks and boulders until they found the source of the muffled noise. It was Zell. He was sitting on the ground crying, surrounded by black feathers. His shirt was shredded and blood could clearly be seen underneath the tatters of cotton fabric. They ran over to him as fast as their legs could carry them. "Zell, what happened?!" Selphie practically shouted.
"Selphie, go get Matron." Irvine ordered.
"Just go!" Once Selphie had run off to go get help, Irvine turned his attention back to Zell. "Are you bleeding? Can you move? Did Seifer do this to you?" Irvine asked, panic evident in his voice.
"I can't reach him. He's right there and yet he's too far away," Zell sobbed, wiping more tears from his eyes. Irvine knelt beside Zell to better examine the extent of the damage. No amount of mending could save the blonde's shirt, it was confetti. The blood all over his back seemed to all be from two vertical, long, deep cuts in his back. They almost seemed to mirror eachother, and they were the same depth and length.
"Zell, what are you talking about? What happened?"
"They have my dad there. I tried to reach him, but I can't fly high enough," Zell sniffled, pointing to the sky.
"Zell, your dad's dead. You can't reach heaven by flying," Irvine commented in a 'Duh!' tone of voice. He was beginning to think that Zell must have hit his head as well.
"He's not dead! They're holding him prisoner in the cloud city and I have to save him!" Zell declared, standing up and shoving Irvine away from him.
"Oh Hyne!" Matron gasped, rushing over to them, with Selphie close behind. "Zell, what have I told you about breaking the seal? You could have been hurt!"
"I'm sorry Matron," Zell apologized, wiping his eyes off and walking over to Matron.
"Let's just go back and get you cleaned up. Now, what have I told you all about playing near the light house..." *
Irvine awoke with a start. //What the hell was that? Could that have been an actual memory? Or could that have just been the result of my imagination after hearing about Quistis' dream?//
That same night, Squall was also dreaming of a strange event, * It was evening and Squall was walking along the beach by himself. He turned the corner and stumbled across a man laying on the beach. He appeared to be unconscious and he was covered in blood and long white feathers. He was laying on his stomach and his incredibly long black hair was loose and swirled around him. "Hey, mister, are you all right?!" Squall called, rushing to the man's aide. The man groaned and turned over onto his back.
"I can't believe I made it," the man muttered. Squall helped him to sit up.
"Can you walk? Do you want to wait here while I go get help?"
"No. By the time you get back, they will have found me and taken me back. However there is something you can do for me."
"What is it?"
"I want you to protect something very special to me. Can you do that?"
"I guess so. What is it you want me to protect?"
"It's something that means the world to me. I was a fool to think that I could protect it myself," the man said, reaching around his neck and removing his necklace and handing it to Squall. "Take this. It will be a symbol of your status as my special guardian okay?" Squall simply nodded as he hung the chain around his neck. "Please protect my little angel..." the man muttered, before passing out again.
"I will, I promise." Squall knew it might be pointless, but he ran for help anyway. When he returned, the man was gone, just as he said. Squall then took the time to look at the necklace he had been given. It was a beautiful silver lion.*
The next day, right after class, Quistis approached Squall, slightly concerned. "Penny for your thoughts." Quistis offered.
"You haven't heard a word I said today. You've just been lost in thought, playing with your Griever necklace."
"It's this whole dream memory thing. I think Zell was right when he said it gave him a bad feeling, because now I'm starting to get a bad feeling as well. Something here is just not right. It almost feels like the dreams are in some way just a premonition of something to come. It's almost as if someone is trying to tell us something or warn us about some coming danger."
"I think your just letting Zell's paranoia get to your head. I'm sure that there is nothing to worry about."
"I guess you could be right, but I just can't escape this feeling."
Later, in Seifer's dorm, "This is ridiculous. There is not way this is going to work." Seifer grumbled, glancing at Fujin, who was currently seated at his desk, surrounded by tarot cards.
"Couldn't hurt to try ya'know. Besides, I can't think of anything else we could try, ya'know."
"QUIET." Fujin demanded, as she shuffled the deck. She then began to place the cards down. Seifer looked down at the desk, studying the cards and smiled.
"I must admit, I never would have expected that." Seifer smirked, looking over the cards a second time to make sure. Raijin looked at the cards and seemed rather confused.
"I don't get it, ya'know."
"Well, the Moon card means all is not as it seems. The Death card means that there is about to be a big change. The High Priestess card shows that a secret is about to be revealed. The Eight of Cups is the card of seeking, which is what we are doing. And that's our target." Seifer explained, pointing to another group of cards.
"I get it now, ya'know."
"Now we just set up for the big spell. Then we get our last ingredient."
Meanwhile, Zell was sitting in the headmaster's office, waiting for Edea. //I hope Matron can set this whole thing straight. But how to word it? 'Hi, Matron. I've been experiencing some weird dreams and was just wondering if you happened to know who my real parents are?' Man, does that sound stupid. I'm probably just over reacting. But then again...// Zell's thoughts were cut short as Edea entered the office.
"Hello, Zell. So, what brings you here?" Matron smiled, ever the caring motherly figure.
"Promise not to laugh?"
"Of course Zell."
"Well, you see, we've been having these dreams lately. Selphie thinks they might be returning memories. That would be neat and all, but the thing is the dreams are kinda freaking me out."
"So you want to know if they are actually your memories?"
"Yeah, so, um... Matron, do you know who my real parents were?" Zell never was one for dancing around a subject.
"Yes, Zell. I know who they were, but I'm not at liberty to share that information with you."
"But why?! Is it because it would go against Hyne? Like my mom did? According to the dreams I'm some sort of cursed abomination! Don't I deserve to know what is going on?!"
"Zell, please calm down. You're not an abomination. Whatever would give you such an idea? All you need to know is that for certain reasons, your parents couldn't take care of you. I'm sorry but I am under oath not to tell anymore than that."
"All right," Zell sighed, getting up and leaving, his frustration evident. Matron's word was final and there was no way of convincing her otherwise. If she said that she couldn't tell him, she just plain couldn't. However, the whole thing only served to further unnerve Zell. Why couldn't she tell him? Was it just a regular orphanage policy, or something far more sinister? Once the elevator shut behind him, Cid came out and approached Edea.
"This isn't good," Cid mumbled.
"It will be all right." Edea assured her husband, even though she wasn't so sure herself.
"Why didn't you just tell him the truth?"
"The same reason I hid it from the other children. It's just better this way. Besides, he's always been so much happier since he forgot."
Zell was so lost in thought as he exited the elevator and headed down the hall that he almost ran straight into Squall. "Zell, what's wrong?" Squall questioned, grabbing the brooding martial artist's arm.
"I thought we already established the fact that you are a horrible liar."
"All right already, I went to talk to Matron. Let's just say, she was less than helpful and it makes me think that she's hiding something from me. And the very thought of Matron hiding something has me even more worried."
"I've been getting bad vibes about this whole thing as well. But it doesn't matter what fate may have in store for us. We'll get through it, no matter what it is. Don't forget, we did save the world from total annihilation. So, worrying about it seems kind of silly doesn't it?" Zell smiled, Squall was right, as always. After all, they had defeated Ultimecia and saved the entire world as Squall so eloquently pointed out. Certainly some strange dreams and memories were no threat whatsoever to them.
"Thanks Squall. How is it that you went from being so icy to knowing exactly what to say to make me feel better?"
"I just realized that I'm not alone."
"Yeah, because you have me to protect you." Zell smirked, throwing his arm around Squall's shoulder, his sorrows forgotten.
// "Please protect my little angel..."
"I will, I promise." //
"Squall, are you all right? You zoned out on me all of a sudden."
"I'm fine. Why don't we go get some diner?"
"Race you!" Zell challenged, running ahead.
"Hey! Wait up!" Squall called after him.
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