Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me they belong to Squaresoft.


By fyre byrd

A young man lay in a desert of parched dead earth. One hand was curled beside his face as though he settled down there purposely to rest. The splay of the rest of his limbs and the spatters of blood outflung from his body which soaked quickly into the hungry ground told a stranger tale. The man had fallen from a height, a great height maybe and landed here bruised and broken, pale and quivering and in pain.

The sky overhead was sickly and green, shifting in nauseating patterns. There was no sign of where the man might have fallen from, just an oily slick of twisting colours.

His eyelids lifted slowly, fluttered and grass green eyes opened on a scene of utter desolation. He slowly uncurled his hands and pressed them against the earth, testing their ability to shift his body's weight. Gradually he heaved his weary body up from the fissured ground and groaned. His sword was bloody, but bloodier still his clothing. The cuffs of his coat were torn and the hem was ragged and red-edged as if it were dipped in dye, not blood. The blood that stained the garment matched the blood red crosses on it. He tore strips from the bottom of his coat with careful fingers. The reverence he accorded the clothing gave his actions the air of ceremony. He used the light gray bands to bind the worst of his wounds closed.

At last he raised his head and took stock of his situation. No change came over his expression which was already deadened with anger or pain or despair or some intolerable combination of the three. There was nowhere to go, no landmark nor any star to guide him, but he started walking, started trudging hopeless though it seemed.

To begin with his feet could barely clear the earth. His heels dragged raising dust with every agonizing step. When his feet at last gave way he crawled, bloodying his hands on points of hardened clay until he paused and ruefully eyeing the remains of his clothes he tore more strips of cloth and wrapped them around each bloodied palm. As he rendered his coat down to rags the man who barely felt like Seifer Almasy anymore remembered the meaning of the crosses that adorned his arms and spared a wretched grin for his sad state. The combination of sword and cross symbolized unshakeable faith and Seifer knew his faith was shaken. Shaking? It was nearly dead and beaten, teetering on the edge of some unfathomable depth. More crawling. The ground was all he knew then. The gaping holes within the earth began to whisper to him of the darkness of sleep, of death. To close the eyes and halt eternally would be a blessing, but the idea had never appealed to him and he kept crawling, dragging his knees along the ground until they felt crushed into pulp. Finally, lifting his head he saw a figure sitting on the edge of a drop only a few feet away.

"It can't be," Seifer said out loud, although no one would have recognized those rusted, grating sounds as words.

"Squall," he tried to call out, but his parched throat couldn't manage much volume and the back clad in black leather stayed as firm and impassive as rock. It did not stir.

Seifer crawled more quickly towards him, wanting desperately to approach with more dignity, but unable to summon the energy to stand. He reached the edge and looked down into an abyss of roiling, churning green and gray.

"Figures," he muttered with a trace of his old humour. He looked at his companion, but Squall's cool gray eyes were focussed not on Seifer, but a little way above him and they shifted as if the other man could see something, was watching something Seifer was shut out of. "Typical," he continued, even though his throat was burning. "You never paid attention to me 'less it was at my blade point, did you? What's wrong with you?" he muttered, green eyes moving, searching the pale face above the shining silver symbol of the lion. It was shining even in this obscure green twilight. Seifer shuddered, shifted closer, shook the leather covered shoulders desperately.

"Wake up, say something, say 'whatever.' This place is going to make me crazy. Maybe it's already got its hands on you. Is this what I have to look forward to? Dying trapped in some strange vision?"

Seifer looked around again into the turbulent green about him. "Is this the end?" he wondered and he shivered and drew closer to the silent leather shrouded form beside him. Seifer pressed against Squall's body.

"It's getting cold, you won't begrudge me a little warmth?" Seifer asked him, not expecting to be answered, but hoping maybe. Still he received no reply.

"So this is it. It seems a little strange, the enemy and hero die together. The gods are not without their humour." He turned to look at his motionless associate with a sigh. A single tear was trembling on the verge of spilling, then it fell and traced a branching liquid path down Squall's smooth cheek and Seifer caught it. Seifer caught it on his fingertip then barely caught himself, when his left hand slammed to the ground shooting sparks of pain all through his arm. For Squall was gone, had vanished, his only comfort as comfortless as a silent statue might have been. At least he'd been alive and breathing, guaranteed that Seifer wouldn't die alone, alone and friendless, utterly forgotten. No one would find him here or care to search for him. No one would find his bones when the wind and strange green atmosphere had picked them clean and bare as the pitted earth.

Then Seifer wept upon his knees and tore the relentless ground and screamed with the last of his corroding voice.

"Don't make me die here. Don't let me be alone. Send me back, back where I belong. I'll pay the price, whatever." Then he fell into a stupor, even deeper than before, eyes closed, barely breathing. He didn't see the green sky open like a curtain parted. He didn't see the spears that pierced the barren earth and quivered. He missed the strange shape hurtling from the sky to kneel before him wrapped in a crimson cloak and leaning on a scimitar engraved with ancient runes.

"So it was you who killed me. Now I see," the apparition cried with a voice more deep than thunder. "Your prayer is granted, mortal."

Seifer woke, woke in a barren wasteland with a ceiling of forbidding cloud above his head. A voice spoke in his mind, "the price is paid." Seifer trembled, felt his skin stretch tight over his bones and cried out again weakly, looked down and saw something marvellous and terrifying, his hands lengthening into claws, silver fur spreading over his flesh. He felt his bones were being burned in scalding fire and melting, changing shape. His clothing tore and shredded to become a useless heap of rags and when he screamed again his voice was a long and deep toned howl such as a wolf would make.

Not far away, a dark haired girl looked up as that strange unearthly sound pierced the air, pierced the clouds and opened up the sky for the sun to glisten through. Flowers grew and opened and the man in her arms opened his gray eyes. She smiled.

After startled exclamations from the raven headed woman. After laughter and embraces they stood up and started walking towards their rescuers who could be seen from rather far away, flying in a huge ship that looked rather like a sundial. As they walked they came upon a huge and glistening magic creature all silver-furred. It was a wolf, a fierce one, but wounded, licking its wounds.

"A GF," Rinoa whispered, pointing, "but it's hurt."

"Let me"," Squall said to her and moved towards its lowered head. With his palms out he moved slowly. It looked up, the wolf. Green eyes burned into him, fixed him with the sharp intelligence and a curious kind of longing that Squall did not understand. That was his punishment. He became a wolf, but kept his memories, his thoughts, but he obeyed new precepts too. They told him his new boundaries and what he was bound to do.

"Who are you," Squall asked, dazed and recognizing something familiar in those sparkling emerald eyes.

"I am your servant Fenris, slayer of the valiant Odin and I chase the sun forever till it dies between my jaws." The green glow surrounded Squall entirely as he felt the Guardian slip, cool and watchful into his mind.

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