Chapter Nine

By Scarlet Fever

I felt a chill pass through my entire body, a cold wind from some unknown source passing across my flesh. I shivered, hugging my long black coat against me, its woolen fabric only warming me slightly. I looked around, wondering where I was, wondering where the cold was coming from. It was very dark, barren. I breathed shakily. I felt apprehensive, but I didn’t know why.

"Hello?" I called. I then cursed myself silently. Nice way to give myself away….

I sighed, realizing that I was alone. I began wandering around, looking for a way out of wherever I was. It seemed that I was in a large cave or something, but indoors at the same time. It was strange. I ran my hand along a jagged wall, stopping as I felt the cool air hit my cheek. It was entering through a crack in the wall. The air was so cold….. There was also light coming from somewhere. It was dim, but it still let me see into the inky darkness. I saw that I was in what looked like a cross between an old drainage system and a cave. The walls were rock, so whatever it was had been carved straight out of the earth. There was strange liquid dripping from somewhere. I didn’t even want to touch it. I stopped dead in my tracks as I heard a gasping groan from somewhere.

"Hello?" I called nervously, shuffling my feet slightly on the dirty ground.

"Squall?! Come on!" I heard Zell calling for me. His voice was coming from behind me, but the gasps were ahead.

"Zell?" I cried. I heard shuffling footsteps from behind me, getting more and more distant. I continued to press forward, sensing that I had to. I suddenly got a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, sensing what I was going to find. However, I continued on, wanting to see if my horrible premonition was right.

I felt the cold, cold wind pass across my face again as I noticed a large open area. I saw a figure lying in the center, bathed in light from some unknown source, like a heavenly body. Tears crept from the corners of my eyes, just seeing the way the body was made me cry, almost in appreciation. It was like looking at a heavenly host. As I got closer, a low moan escaped my lips. I knew that it was my lover. Seifer lay with his face upwards, unblinking. I knew he was alive. Barely. He looked so beautiful, even with the deathly pallor crossing across his features. The Celestial overtones were only accentuated by the halo of blood that was pooling around Seifer’s head, spilling from a wound on his throat, much larger than the one from before, from our mission with Sephiroth.

"SEIFER!" I screamed, running forward. I was stopped by something. It was like I hit a brick wall. It sent me sprawling across the ground, landing in a heavy pile. I looked up, wondering what had prevented me from advancing. I couldn’t see anything, so I got up, trying to get closer to him, to try and help him. However, I ran into the invisible barrier again. I looked up, seeing the halo of red spreading onto the ground around Seifer’s golden hair. I let out a heart wrenching scream as Seifer died, his blood continuing to spread…..

I opened my eyes slowly, feeling a pain in my chest, which wasn’t physical. I sat up, getting my bearings again. I was in my room in Balamb. The cool breeze had stopped, and now it was balmy and warm. I looked at the clock, sighing when I saw that it was 6:30 in the morning. I ran my hands through my shaggy hair, which was really starting to get to be a bother. It just fell in my eyes again as I flopped my head down on the pillow. I felt movement beside me, and turned my head slightly. Seifer shifted in his sleep, his eyelashes fluttering. I propped my head up so I could look at him. I kissed his forehead, running my fingers through his recently cut hair. I felt so relieved, exhilarated that it was only a dream. My hand slowly ran down to his throat, tracing the pale scar on his throat. It had been eight months since our disastrous mission for Sephiroth and Tifa.

I sighed, pressing my forehead to his cheek. My mind wandered as I pulled my body close to his, thinking about my dream. It had been a while since I had had any sort of nightmare like that, not since eight months ago. The last time I had dreamed about any sort of mortality was the night I lay in the Galbadia Hotel, in extreme duress from what turned out to be broken ribs and torn abdominal muscles, Seifer’s arms around me, and Sephiroth’s cold gaze burned in my mind.

"Stop thinking about it, Squall…. It was only a dream," I grumbled to myself, smiling as Seifer moved again in his sleep, holding me tighter against his chest.

I closed my eyes, all my negative feelings ebbing away. I was surprised at how wonderful things were with Seifer. I had known that I loved him, but actually wasn’t sure how long we could go without having some sort of huge falling out. But it had never happened. I couldn’t even remember the last time we had had an argument. I then frowned. It was sort of warm in here. I sighed further, letting out my breath against Seifer’s collarbone. I just remembered the fact that we were going out on a mission. It must have been big, because all of us seemed to be going; Zell, Quistis, Irvine, Selphie, Seifer and myself. I was a bit apprehensive about the whole Selphie, Seifer and Irvine on the same mission kind of thing. That whole thing hadn’t ironed itself out at all. Seifer was civil most of the time, mainly because I disliked him being an asshole to Irvine. It actually made me glad that Seifer did things because he knew it would make me happy. Selphie, however, couldn’t let go of the anger that she was harboring. She still despised both Irvine and Rinoa. Both Seifer and myself thought that it was unhealthy, but she wouldn’t listen to us.

I rolled over, staring at the ceiling. I resisted the urge to wake Seifer up, just so I would have someone to talk to. He must have felt me moving, because he moved again, sighing. I turned my head, looking at him. One of his hands reached up, rubbing his eyes. I smiled as he opened his eyes slowly, his aqua blue eyes meeting mine.

"Did I wake you up?" I asked.

He furrowed his brow slightly, which made me melt. He looked so cute. "Huh?"

"Nothing. We have to leave today…."

"I know," he replied, reaching for my hand. He linked his fingers with mine. He looked up at me, smiling.

"What are you smiling at?" I asked, raising my eyebrows. "You can’t tell me that you’re honestly glad to be going to Trabia?"

"I’m not. I was just thinking…."

I rolled my body so that I was on top of him. "About what?"

"You, me, all that stuff."

I rested my forearms on his chest, holding my chin up with my wrists. "Tell me."

He cocked his head, resting his palms on the small of my back. "Would you ever want to get married?"

"To who?"

Seifer scoffed. "To me, you idiot…."

"Well, not when you call me an idiot…." I trailed off, making a small choking noise as I felt his hips roll against mine.

"I’m serious."

"It’s not like it would be valid, or even legal."

Seifer shrugged, which moved my body as well. "I don’t care about that. Just for symbolism sake, would you?"


"You don’t sound very sincere."

I smiled. "You’re just being too sensitive." I leaned my face in, kissing each of his nipples delicately. "Okay, so who would change their name?"

"It doesn’t matter to me…" Seifer stroked the side of my face. "Which do you think has a better ring to it? Seifer Leonhart or Squall Almasy? Or neither?"

"You’re actually serious?"

Seifer frowned. "Of course I am. Why wouldn’t you think I was?"

I remained silent. "Why would you want to marry me?"

Seifer frowned further. "Why do you think? Because I love you, and I want to be with you."

I hugged him tightly, pressing my ear to his chest, listening to his heartbeat. "I’m sorry."

"Don’t apologize to me, La Mer."

I was silent for a second. "I want to be with you forever."

Seifer didn’t say anything. He only stroked my hair.



"When do you want to?"



Seifer sighed. "Whenever. We have lots of time."

I murmured something incoherently. I didn’t even know what it was, and I was the one who had said it. We just lay there for a few hours, not saying anything, but not wanting to move.


"What?" He stroked my hair.

"I love you."

"I love you." He repeated.

"We should get up now…."

"I know…." Seifer slowly sat up. I grumbled as I had to move off of him. He got out of the bed, taking my hand. "Come on, let’s have a shower."

I smiled wickedly. "I doubt that we’ll get very clean.."

Seifer snorted, amused. "Cute, Squall, cute."

"I try." I sighed, following him into the bathroom. I pulled him into the shower with me, his rangy body slamming against one of the walls.

"Ow." Seifer held his shoulder. "Careful."

I gave him a sly look as I let the warm water run across my flesh. I closed my eyes, just standing there. I felt Seifer’s hands roam across my chest, his thumbs brushing against my nipples. I felt a foreign object in one of his hands. It was soap. I let him wash me, not trying anything sexual. I knew that we didn’t have much time before we would be late for our ride to Trabia. When we were both done showering, I held his body close to mine for a few minutes, wanting physical closeness more than anything. Seifer tilted my face up, kissing me gently. He then reached over, turning off the water. I sighed, not really wanting to join the real world, not wanting to have to act professional.

I slowly got dressed, my still wet hair leaving dark droplets on the army green T-shirt that I chose. I then put on my favorite leather pants, and a worn black cardigan. I watched Seifer finish dressing. It seemed a shame that his body had to be covered by so many layers. He was wearing the pale blue golf sweater that I had fallen asleep in all those months ago, with white tank top underneath. As he put on his dark brown pants, he looked at me, smirking.

"What?" I asked, crossing my arms across my chest.

"You just look so cute when you’re sulky.."

"I’m not being sulky…"

Seifer stood, zipping up. He wrapped his arms around me. "Yes, you are. But I’m not really complaining." He kissed me quickly. "We should go."

I nodded, heading for the door. Seifer reached out for my hand, pulling me back into the room. "We have a few seconds…"

I closed my eyes, opening my mouth against his. God, I was so in love. It had been eight months, and we were still acting like it was a week or so. I couldn’t help but blush as his tongue traced the curves of my lips. He pulled away, smiling at me.

"I love you."

I smiled brightly at him. "I love you, too."

"You’re so good for me. You make me happy…" Seifer trailed off, opening the door, gasping when he came face to face with Rinoa.

"Hi, Squall…." She trailed off, realizing that Seifer was in my room. Nobody in the Garden knew about us, save Zell, Selphie and Quistis. Actually, I was surprised that we had kept our relationship this much of a secret.

"Uh…. Seifer…." Rinoa trailed off, blushing. We were now on good terms with the raven-haired girl, even though Selphie still hated her.

"Hi." He smiled nervously.

"What are you doing in Squall’s room?"

"Oh….. Just came to get him. We have to leave soon."

"Yeah. That’s why I came. Just wanted to wish you luck. I always get nervous when you guys go on missions." She sounded wistful.

"More worried about Irvine, eh?" Seifer winked at her, but there was a hint of malice in his voice. I wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t know him so well.

She smiled coyly, not catching on to the underlying hatred in his voice. "Maybe." She paused. "Well, I don’t want to keep you…" She waved and left.

Seifer turned, rolling his eyes.


"I just hate pretending that we’re just friends…."

I shrugged, running my hand along the curve of his ass. "…Whatever."

Seifer snorted, going into the hallway. We wandered to the front gate, where Zell and Selphie were already standing. Selphie noticed us, waving madly.


Zell looked up, his eyes seeming to light up when he saw Seifer, which made me angry. Selphie and Zell hadn’t seemed to be able to get together, and Zell’s attentions seemed to have moved to my lover. Or maybe it was just me seeing things that weren’t really there, just looking for an excuse to be jealous.

"Where is everyone else?"

Selphie shrugged her slight shoulders. "Coming, I guess."

I sighed, then groaned.

"What?" Zell asked.

"I forgot to call my dad yesterday…" I grumbled. "I’ll just have to hear another super long story tomorrow."

Seifer sighed. "You should be glad that you have a father to talk to…." He trailed off, a sad note in his voice.

I cocked my head. Seifer always seemed to get depressed when the subject of parents came up. I knew that he seriously missed the parental relationship that he never got. I patted his back.

"Well, if you want to talk to Laguna, you can." My father was one of the few people that knew about us. When I told him that I was gay, I was expecting a lot worse, but Laguna had just shrugged and asked if Seifer was good in bed, which made me blush in utter embarrassment, and Seifer choke on his drink. I didn’t know how my father would react to the fact that the lover I had chosen had tried to kill me on more than one occasion, but Laguna had actually taken quite a liking to Seifer, much to my delight.

"Okay, we’re all here…" Quistis announced as she approached us, Irvine in tow.

Selphie glared at her former boyfriend for a moment or two, then turned her attention to Quistis, who was acting as squad leader.

"Shall we?" She motioned to the vehicle that Zell was leaning against. We all climbed in, Quistis making a motion to the driver. We were going to go to Balamb Harbor and pick up transit to Trabia there, where our contact would be waiting to give us instructions. I couldn’t imagine what would be such a big problem in Trabia. It was nearly deserted. The only thing I could think of was that the new city that they had decided to build was getting infested with Snow Lions or something. I looked over at Irvine as I thought, almost wishing that he wasn’t there, because he didn’t know about Seifer and me. I wanted to curl up next to Seifer, but couldn’t. I then nixed that thought. We would probably need all the help that we could get, and Irvine was a skilled fighter.

After an uneventful car ride, I could smell the salty air of Balamb hitting my nostrils. I had always liked the smell of the sea air. I looked over at Seifer, who was staring off into space. He seemed so preoccupied.

"What are you thinking about?" I asked, whispering in his ear.

He shivered, my breath tickling him. "Just thinking…" He trailed off.

I frowned slightly. I hated it when he kept things that were bothering him to himself. But then again, I didn’t like it when he vocalized any sort of self-hatred about himself to me. Man, I must be demanding.…

We got out of the now cramped car, heading straight for the large ship. At least we wouldn’t be in extremely close quarters. I was about to follow Seifer, but Quistis stopped me.

"Can I talk to you, about the mission?"

I nodded, watching Seifer go as Quistis discussed a plan with me. Throughout the entire conversation, I nodded my head absently. I was absorbing the information, but showed absolutely no interest, which made Quistis frown.

"Squall….?" She asked, almost angrily.

"Yeah, I heard you." I focused my attention on her. "Do you want me to fawn all over you?"

She scoffed. "Yeah, whatever."

When she finally let me go, I went around the ship, looking for Seifer. I found him out on the deck, looking out into the ocean, a sad, almost resigned look on his face. I walked over to him, studying his profile. He didn’t even seem to notice that I was there. I looked down at his hands, which were tightly encircling the railing. I used my fingers to pry his grip away from the rail. He blinked, looking over at me. He seemed surprised to see me.


He sighed, saying nothing.

"Seifer," I repeated. I wouldn’t be dismissed by silence. I covered his hand with mine, looping our fingers together.

"La Mer, have you ever had a dream that you swore was real? That when you wake up, you don’t know which world is fantasy, and which is reality?"

I sighed. "They’re just dreams, but yes."

"I keep having the same dream, and it gets more real every time…." He paused, staring out into the sea again.

I followed his gaze. The sun was low on the horizon, casting golden light over the waves, making the blue, blue water shine, sparkle. I thought back to how Seifer said I was like the sea, why it reminded him of me, and felt myself blushing.

"Why are you blushing?"

"Oh…. Just that the sea is so beautiful. I never really noticed it before. I can’t be this beautiful…"

Seifer gently moved his lips across my temple. "You’re more beautiful." He then looked at me sadly.

"What is your dream about?"

"Death. You know, before, I would have welcomed an omen of my demise, but now…." He turned his body so that he was facing me rather than the ocean. "I have something, someone to live for. Foretelling of my death doesn’t amuse me like it once did."

I closed my eyes, thinking of the various dreams I had dreamed, all involving Seifer’s mortality. I couldn’t help but feel afraid, afraid of losing him. I pulled Seifer’s tall body against me, crushing his chest against mine.

"They’re just dreams…. Nothing more."

"You don’t sound so sure." Seifer’s throaty, erotic voice was muffled against my hair. I cupped his face with my now shaking hands.

"You figure we’d get over this whole ‘fear of losing you’ thing…." I trailed off, stopping my own flow of words by kissing him as deeply as I could, taking my own breath away. I felt myself swooning, so I leaned against the railing, the salty sea air blowing through my hair. I clung to Seifer’s waist like he was a life raft, and I was drowning. Seifer tilted my head up, kissing my throat gently. I lazily opened my eyes, keeping them blissfully half closed. I cocked my head further as I saw movement on the other side of the deck. I blinked a few times as the figure disappeared, but not quickly enough for me to notice the sadness, longing on the tattooed face.

When we arrived at the shore, which had been directed at us, I smiled sadly. For the entire ride, Seifer and I had just held each other, letting the cooling sea air whip around us. We hadn’t really said much, but we didn’t have to. I felt happy, thinking about how many more moments like this we would have in our lifetime. I also thought about what a nice ring ‘Squall Almasy’ had to it. When we got off the boat, I followed Quistis to where a small group of people was standing. It had been decided that I would be second in command, that we would lead together. As I passed Zell, I thought again of seeing him on the deck, how sad he looked. I made a mental note that Seifer and I had to have a serious conversation with him. I noticed that the sun was already gone, disappeared under the horizon, which was causing the temperature to drop considerably. The boat ride must have taken longer than I thought.

"Ah, the SeeDs are here…" A middle aged man replied, walking towards both Quistis and myself.

"Quistis Trepe," She bowed slightly. "And Squall Leonhart. We are commanding this mission."

"Excellent." The man clasped his hands in front of him, prayer style. He motioned for the others to come closer. "I don’t bite."

When Seifer stood beside me, the man raised an eyebrow, studying my lover’s features. He seemed to find something that only he was aware of.

Seifer made a slight bowing motion. "Seifer Almasy."

The man nodded, almost hesitantly. I wondered what he was thinking. Did he remember the whole Ultimecia thing?

Zell and Selphie were both introduced without much incident, but when the name ‘Irvine Kinneas’ was said, the man stopped.


Irvine nodded, confused.

"I knew a Kinneas once. Samuel?"

Irvine shook his head. "Doesn’t ring a bell…"

"Oh well. Oh, my name is Reverend Esemono. We have called SeeD here because of a very dire situation."

"What sort of situation?" Seifer asked.

"Well," the Reverend gave Seifer a hesitant gaze. "The new city of Kaisei is being threatened by an unknown threat."

"Kaisei?" I asked.

"Yes. There is so much empty space here in Trabia. So far, things have been progressing both quickly and without consequence, but recently, there have been attacks on construction workers, originating from the woods, and always under the cloak of darkness."

"Snow Lions?" Selphie asked.

"We thought so at first, but there has never been any documented case of a Snow Lion being so viscous, so bloodthirsty. We suspect some sort of cult…. That humans are doing this.."

"So, why is the Church involved?" Seifer asked, sounding suspicious.

"Because if it is humans that are doing this, we have an obligation to stop such ungodly behavior." Reverend Esemono eyed Seifer, sensing my lover’s disbelief.

Seifer remained silent, his face set in the dim moonlight.

"Well, what exactly do we have to go on?" Quistis asked.

"Only that all the victims have been connected by the manner in which they died. It looks like their throats have been ripped out…"

Zell tilted his head slowly. "Why does that sound familiar?"

Seifer’s body became tense. "It sounds like the same thing that happened in Galbadia. And this time, it sure as hell isn’t ‘Geezers’."

"I will take you to the latest attack site…" Reverent Esemono ushered us forward. As we walked, I noticed Seifer slowly looking around, as if he was expecting someone to pop out.

"What? Do you hear something?" Zell asked quietly, listening as well.

"I don’t know. I just have a bad feeling…."

"Tell me about it…" Irvine trailed off, wrapping his arms around his body, shivering as the air became exceedingly cooler.

Quistis sighed. "I hope it isn’t like Galbadia. We almost got killed…"

"There’s more of us, now." I pointed out. "Besides, we don’t even know if it’s the same sort of thing."

Seifer sighed, still looking around. I figured he was just being cautious, because he was the only one who seemed to hear anything. We stopped just within a dense patch of forest. There was blood splattered in the pale white snow and all around the body, which had yet to be moved. Seifer approached the snow and blood covered corpse. "Is it okay if I inspect it?"

"Be my guest," The Reverend replied. "But, please, be careful. We don’t want to disturb this man’s peace."

I could tell that Seifer was probably rolling his eyes, but he leaned over the body, gingerly looking at the throat. He touched his own, and I could tell that he was using a gloved finger to trace the pale scar that sat just underneath his steel collar.

"Have there been any witnesses?" Quistis asked.

"Sadly, they don’t seem to leave witnesses."

Seifer suddenly stood. "Are woods the only thing around here?"

"No, there’s a cavern around here." Reverend Esemono pointed into the woods.

"A cavern?" I asked. "How big?"

"A fair size."

"Large enough for a group of people to fit in?" Selphie asked.

"I would assume."

Seifer began to walk into the woods farther.

"Seifer, stay where you are!" Quistis commanded. "We aren’t just going to barge in. Okay. If it is a human cult or whatever doing this, as the Reverend stated, that cavern would be a likely meeting or gathering place…"

Seifer gasped, spinning around to face the dark woods. "Someone’s here."

Zell’s body became tense. "Okay, I heard that one, too."

I shivered, swearing that I could hear breathing just behind me. I turned slightly, but there was nothing there.

"Now it’s gone…" Seifer trailed off.

"Are you the exact person that called us?" Quistis demanded of the Reverend.

"The founders of Kaisei ordered me to do as I saw fit, so that’s what I’m doing!" Esemono sighed.

"I’m sorry," Quistis apologized. "We’re just being cautious."

"No apologies needed, my dear."

"Okay," I stated lowly, getting everyone’s attention. "We should split into two groups. I’ll take one group to the cavern…"

"I see it from here," Seifer stated, continuing to slowly look around.

"Okay. I’ll take Seifer and Zell to the cavern. Quistis, you take Selphie and Irvine, and follow us, but not too closely. We’ll need backup, but they might not come out if they see a huge group of us. Just keep us within eyeshot, okay?"

Quistis nodded. "Reverend, you should probably clear this area…."

He nodded. "Okay, but please, take this." He gave her a small gold crucifix.

"What’s this for?" She asked.

"Good luck." He gave one to Selphie, Irvine, Zell and myself. He hesitated slightly before giving one to Seifer. "I know you don’t believe, but take it anyway."

Seifer just blinked a few times. I wanted to ask ‘believe in what?’, but focused all my thoughts on the mission at hand. I didn’t want another Galbadia to happen. I motioned for Seifer and Zell to follow me closely as I brought my gunblade out of the holster. Seifer followed suit, while Zell readied his reflexes. We slowly went through the woods, as quietly as possible. It looked so strange, like a black and white photograph, the sheer pitch black of the shadowy forest, only broken up by the snow that hung on the tree branches and covered the ground.

I decided to cover the back, so I could check on Quistis and the others as we advanced. Seifer continued to look around, hearing things that it seemed only he could hear. I felt an extremely cold breeze hit me as we stopped in front of the mouth of the cavern. It was bigger than I had expected, looking like a mammoth black hole cut out of the snowy landscape. I saw Seifer close his eyes, breathing in deeply.

"Do you hear something?" I asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.

"No. And that’s the problem." He seemed so tense. "It just stopped."

"Maybe you were hearing things…" Zell trailed off, looking at Seifer. He looked worried.

Seifer took in his breath again, quickly, and proceeded forward, the dark mouth of the cave swallowing him.

"Seifer!" Zell cried. "Wait!"

I turned around, gauging Quistis’s position. I nodded for them to keep an eye out for trouble before following the two blondes.

Once inside the cave, I stopped moving completely. It was too dark for me to see anything. I reached out, finding a rocky wall, resting my hand against it. I blinked, waiting for my eyes to adjust.


I looked around, not seeing anything, but hearing Seifer whisper my name. "Seifer?" I whispered back.

I felt a hand on my shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, just adjusting my eyes…."

"I can’t fucking see anything!" I heard Zell mutter. "How can you see, Seifer?"

"I don’t know. I just can."

I felt Seifer’s hand grip mine. "Follow me." I could tell that he also had a grip on Zell.

"Hey, I can sort of see!" Zell exclaimed as we made our way further into the cave.

"There’s light coming from somewhere…" Seifer trailed off.

We continued to wander deeper into the cave, coming to dead ends along the way. I didn’t know how long we were in there, but it seemed like forever. As we meandered, we came to a fork in the path. It went in four directions.

"Why don’t we each take one?" Seifer asked. He seemed agitated.

"Is that wise?" Zell asked. "Shouldn’t we stay together?"

"If we stay within earshot, we should be okay…" Seifer trailed off. "You’re not scared are you….Ch.."

"Don’t even say it…" Zell trailed off, threatening Seifer.

Seifer chuckled, disappearing down one path. Zell went down another, and I took a third. As I walked, I kept my ears open, listening for anything out of the ordinary. I wondered if Quistis, Selphie and Irvine were okay, if we would be okay. I began wondering if splitting up was such a good idea. I completely stopped all movement as I sensed that I wasn’t alone. There was a figure ahead of me, but it wasn’t advancing, and I couldn’t figure out why.

"Stop!" I commanded, slowly moving towards them. On closer inspection, it was a man, probably in his late twenties. He was breathing heavily, and giving me the oddest look. A hybrid of hatred, fear, lust, and pain. Suddenly, the path was filled with more light than before. The air felt so cold, but my hand began to feel warm. Not a burning warmth, but just gentle heat, radiating through my black glove. The man seemed to want to attack me, but something was stopping him. As I came closer, he backed away, watching the hand that my gunblade was in. He continued to move away, until there was no other place for him to go. His features were contorted in the bluish light. He was beyond pale, but I guessed that it was from staying in a cavern all the time.

"Don’t move…" I stated.

He sort of hissed at me, covering his eyes in pain. I moved closer again, readying my gunblade. He made a desperate swipe at me, scratching through my jacket, cutting into my skin with his nails, which were more like claws. I cried out angrily, slicing through him. His head bounced off his neck, which was gurgling dark fluid. His dead eyes were looking up at me as his head rolled at my feet. I kicked it away, sighing.

"Shit." I shouldn’t have done that. It wasn’t the most intelligent move I’ve ever made. I then noticed that the cave became dim again, the blue light disappearing. I slowly turned, realizing that I had probably lost Zell and Seifer. I began to slowly walk the way I had come, keeping my eye out in case my victim had had company with him.

I stopped dead as I heard a loud scream from somewhere in the darkness. My heart raced, and my mind immediately went to Seifer, but the scream came out again, and I knew that it was Zell. I ran towards where the sound was coming from, going faster as I heard Zell cry out again, but this time, I could make out a word.

"Seifer!" Zell cried out.

I ran more, the darkness brightening up again. It was coming from a source on the ground. As I ran past, I saw that it was a small gold crucifix, the same one that was given to Seifer by the Reverend. It was laying on the dirty ground, the delicate chain tangled. It was glowing the same strange blue that had filled the path earlier. I didn’t stop, though. I was too desperate. I slowed as I saw Zell grappling with someone. Zell desperately got out of his attacker’s grip, using his strength to snap their neck.

The body at his feet continued to move, so I used my blade to slice his head off, much in the same manner as I had earlier. Zell then immediately ran forward, towards Seifer, who was on his knees, alone in a ray of light. The sun was coming up. I smiled. He was okay.

"Fuck!" Zell screamed, his voice shaky in fear. "Seifer!! Oh, GOD! SEIFER!!!!"

I became deathly afraid, quickly moving towards my lover. I saw him move his hand to his throat, which was beginning to spurt a massive amount of blood down the front of his body. As I ran forward, I half expected to come across a physical barrier that I couldn’t see, like in the dream I had had that morning. I slowly sank to my knees in front of Seifer’s crumpled frame. He was on his hands and knees, trying to stay conscious, trying to stay alive, but it was in vain, and my heart broke to know that.

"Zell, get help!" I cried, my voice coming out shaky, almost incoherent.

Zell just was staring at Seifer, staring at the sea of blood that was pooling at my lover’s knees. A small flow of tears were running down his cheeks.

"Zell, go!!" I commanded.

He nodded, getting up quickly. He ran into the corridor, which was becoming lighter. The sun must have been coming out. I turned back to Seifer, who was now swooning, his strength disappearing. I reached out, pressing my palms to the gaping wound, trying to stop the seemingly endless blood flow. He gripped my wrists, pulling my hands away. He opened his mouth, trying to speak, but all he could do was spit up blood. I could hear a faint whisper, so I leaned in.

"It can’t be prevented, La Mer….."

I sobbed horribly. "No. Don’t say that. We’ll get a doctor. You’ll be okay…." My voice was totally shaking, and I was shocked that I could even make words. I collected his bleeding body in my arms, cradling him like a child. I tried to curl my entire body around his as he shivered, the loss of blood leaving him cold. I pressed my forehead to his cheek as he tried to speak again.

"…At least… I was happy for…. A little while…." He whispered, lightly pressing his lips to my earlobe.

I sobbed again, knowing that this would be the last time I would be able to hold Seifer, to feel his body next to me, the last time I would be able to look in his eyes, that I would be able to live. I knew that as soon as Seifer died, my life would be over. I began to cry, shaking silently with heartbreaking sobs. I pressed my face against his cheek, feeling the warm, sticky blood coating my skin. I then began to lap at the wound, taking some of his still warm blood into my mouth. I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but I knew that I had to taste his life before it disappeared forever. I then began to drink greedily, my mouth becoming smeared with the same blood that was flowing down my throat.

"La Mer…." I heard Seifer whisper. His breath was now weak and ragged. I broke away from his throat, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. I looked into Seifer’s aqua eyes, the eyes that I had drowned in so many times. They were rapidly losing their light. I heard footsteps behind me, and Selphie cry out Seifer’s name, but the noises barely registered. Everything sounded muted, far away. I looked down at Seifer, smiling sadly at him. His eyes looked totally alien, so dim, lifeless.

"I love you…" I softly said, leaning in to kiss him, for what would be the last time. When I looked at him again, he had a small smile on his lips. His chest was now barley moving. As I watched his last breaths, I couldn’t help but look at his wound. It was a massive cut across his jugular, deep and pooling crimson. It looked fairly smooth, but one part was jagged, the flesh torn.

I held him tighter to my chest. "I love you," I repeated.

His chest rose shakily as he whispered, "I….love you." His chest never fell.

He died.

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