By Alexis Logain
"It was slightly surreal, the world around me after finally killing Ultimecia. Everything was black for me and it felt like I was walking through water. Later, everyone told me that where they were...it was like walking through light - all white and pure. Like floating on air - that's what Zell told me. But me...it was dark and hot and it almost hurt. Maybe it's because I was the most confused of us all - or maybe it's because I was just plain old lost.”
Seifer sat on the cold headstone, his clothing ruffling with the breeze. He found it somewhat amusing that he’d be wearing the clothes he refused to adorn during his last year on Earth; he was in his trench coat, soft black leather pants, a blue tank, and black combat boots. His scar was gone – along with the worn down look his body had, caused by the disease, when he had died. He looked like he was in his prime again. The only thing wrong with me is the fact I’m dead, Seifer thought, halfway between amused and sad. But he decided to lean more towards amused because the man in front of him looked sad enough for the both of them.
Are you still lost, Squall? Or are you finally finding yourself?
“I don't know why I was lost. I was the one in charge - I was the one with the plan. Sure, it consisted of go in, kill Ultimecia, get out alive...but it was still a plan. I didn't expect for it to be as easy as it was...or as hard. And then to see Matron there, all those years ago...looking after, well, me. That was odd. I saw how alone I was and how lonely I made myself. I never expected you to pull me out of my shell. I never expected to actually love you. I can remember the day that I met you...how I felt that immediate connection and pull to you. I've never loved anyone before. You have to know that I didn't know what to do with it - you have to know that. Oh sweet Hyne...I loved you so much. I guess I still do, but I don't know what to do. I never really realized it until that day.”
I know you love me. In death, nothing can be kept secret. Not even the fact that you lost your virginity to Rinoa while thinking of me. I know that’s a callouse thing to say, but I just wish you knew that I had that knowledge. That I remember. I remember everything Squall – everything. Even from when we were children. Do you remember that? No…you can’t. The GFs won’t let you.
“When I was wondering in that endless desert...I kept seeing you in my mind's eye - kept projecting your image in the mirages. Maybe it really was you. I'll never be sure now. I never did get the chance to ask. But I knew then that I really did love you and nobody else, not ever.
It sorta slammed into me. I sure as hell wasn't expecting it. I mean, I guess I had little hints that I had fallen for you - dreams, little jumps in my stomach whenever you were around, my heart pounding every single time I thought about you...which was a lot. It still is. In my dreams, you're still there. Still with me.”
I am here, dammit! Not only in your dreams – the only place I can talk to you…the only place I can still matter. But I’m here!
Seifer jumped off the headstone and tried to grab onto Squall, tried to shake him, to show him that he was right there in front of him like he had been his entire life…but still Squall couldn’t open his eyes, couldn’t look hard enough to realize it. While white hot tears slid down Seifer’s face and his strong hands passed through Squall’s body, the young Commander kept talking.
“I had a really good one last night. I was falling and falling and I couldn't stop. And then, all of the sudden, you were there and you reached out and you caught me. And you held onto me, tight. I couldn't get away. I didn't want to. I started crying because it felt so right being with you and I knew in my mind that I never can be. And then you kissed me. I can still taste it - warm and liquid and just a hint of that gum you always chewed. I ran my fingers into your hair and planted my body against yours, feeling the warmth and skin. We made love there, in the floating darkness. There wasn't anything there to support our bodies, just us, and we never let go of each other...not once. And when I woke up, I was crying. I doubt I'll ever feel like that again.”
Squall was silent for a moment while Seifer reeled in the memory of Squall’s dream. He had always wondered what went on in the other man’s mind and was more than shocked to find out. Squall hated himself…had next to no self-esteem.
“Hyne! Why did you have to die on me? Huh? Dammit! I love you - don't you get that? Why did you leave me? Everyone leaves me...Sis, Matron, my mom, Laguna...I can't handle this - why you too? I love you so much...I'm sorry it's taken so long but it's not like I ever expected to actually fall in love with you. It's not like we're an obvious couple or something.”
It’s not like I could do anything about it, you self-centered prick! You think I wanted to die? Hell no! And I know you love me…Squall – don’t you get that I loved you too? All those fucking rumors about me being some sort of male slut…I wasn’t ever with anyone – I wanted to be with you. Well, I wasn’t until…until Ultimecia. She…made me do…some terrible things. Things I never told you – Hyne Squall…that’s how I got sick. Some random virus in the future that they couldn’t cure. She told me as soon as I got it…that even if you won, I’d still die. I’d never have my happiness. That’s why…oh sweet Hyne that’s why I never acted on my feelings, even when I saw that you were warming up to the idea.
“I'm sorry...I'm so sorry I never told you how much you mattered. How much I needed you. I never could have gotten through everything if it weren't for you. Especially after killing Ultimecia. You were there to help me through being Headmaster. I never really expected it. I know it was hard on you, giving up what you wanted to be with me. I need you...so much. It hurts so badly, not having you near.”
Seifer fell silent to Squall’s quiet confession. His heart wrenched inside his body and wanted so much to just reach out and hold his childhood friend, teenage rival, and always his love. But he couldn’t, no matter how hard he tried, and for this he cursed the heavens above and the hells below him.
Haven’t I gone through enough? Wasn’t being controlled by an evil bitch, forced to become her pawn, wasn’t that enough? Wasn’t suffering through that sickness enough? Wasn’t losing all of my hair, dropping down to less than a hundred pounds of skin and bone – WASN’T THAT ENOUGH? Just give me a moment with him…please…I love you so much Squall…Hyne…I don’t know what to do anymore. Is this my punishment for actions I couldn’t control? A lifetime of watching Squall and never being able to have him?
Seifer’s tired ended as the tears that streamed down Squall’s face stopped.
“It was such a shock when you got sick. I mean, I guess I kinda always knew you were getting sick...but I never really got it until that first time you passed out in my office. Dr. Kadowski says that there isn't anything we could have done to prevent it - that you had gotten sick from when time was compressed...you got a virus from the future that we couldn't cure.
My first instinct was to take you away - take you back to the orphanage where we could get away from the world and be safe. But I couldn't. They wouldn't have understood. They wouldn't have let me get away from my duty. And I hate it - I hate them for it. But they still don't understand.”
Seifer stood quiet as he silently nodded. He honestly doubted that the others had the capacity to understand what went on between them. Irvine might, but that’s only because he swung both ways. Zell he knew for sure wouldn’t – Zell was an avid homophobic. That was part of the reason Seifer always picked on him, his short-sighted views. Quistis was in love with Squall and Selphie was in love with Irvine – neither of them had ever given much thought to alternative lifestyles. And Rinoa, well as cute as she might be, Rinoa was just too dense to understand.
“I wanted to resign today. But I remembered what you told me when I had mentioned it before. How I deserved it - the prestige, the attention, the respect. That I worked hard and had an even harder life in my twenty short years. How everyone owed me their lives, let alone a shitty position of a Garden. I have to go back to that now, don't I? I can't even mourn you in peace - they're calling for me to be done already. I have to be the strong, emotionless leader.”
Hyne, Squall…you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. That’s what you deserve. Not the responsibilities, not the attention…and you don’t have to be anything – not even the strong leader. You already are strong…you’re the strongest person I know. And emotionless? You’re anything but emotionless. Scared shitless of sharing your emotions with those demanding assholes that call themselves your friends. I would have liked to go away with you. But I think that if I had been alone with you, I wouldn’t have cared about getting you sick. I could have, too. Ultimecia told me exactly what I had and how it was passed. And I know she didn’t lie to me. I knew that then, too. She took too much delight in torturing people with the truth.
“I have to wonder...will I ever see you again? See that grin that lit up the sky...lose myself in your eyes? Hyne that sounded corny. Did you even know I loved you? Did you love me back? Hyne, I'm so confused. I feel like I'm back in that blackness that I was falling in after Ultimecia, in that dream. I feel like I'm suffocating, that I'm not getting enough air when it's all I'm surrounded by. I can feel it closing in around me, cutting off all light and logic and control, leaving only emotion and pain. And I can feel that emotion, that pain, cutting into my skin like a thousand knives. A thousand dull knives all poking into my skin and shredding my body into pieces until I don't think I can take it anymore and I just want to scream and so I do and nobody even looks up to see what's going on. Because nobody can understand what goes on in a hero's mind.”
Seifer flat out wept as Squall verbally cut himself to pieces.
“But I'm not a hero. I did what I had to because I had to. Because nobody else would have and I didn't like the prospect of dying. Not then. Now, perhaps...but that would be weak. So I can't. I have to live up to it. I have to be Squall Leonhart - the Lion of Balamb. One of Centra's finest. You called me a hero once. I think you were joking about it - how I always came to your rescue, even if I hadn't wanted to. That was after you believed love could solve everything. I can remember when you were gentle and quiet...almost passive. I can't quite place when you changed, when you started fighting back. And then you got sick and stopped fighting. Why did you have to stop fighting? Why did you have to look at me with those big eyes of yours, pleading for me to make the pain go away...pleading for me to be your hero...I couldn't do it - I couldn't save you. Oh, Hyne, I'm so sorry. I tried to save you - I tried so hard...but I just couldn't do it. You're not the weak one - you never were. It was me...all me. Please...I'm sorry...I tried so hard...
They're calling for me again. I have to go...but I'll be back. Hyne, how can I live without you? I can't do it. If...if I die...will I go to the same place as you? Will you welcome me or will you hate me? Oh Hyne, what do I do? Why can't you just come back to me?
I love you."
Seifer sunk onto the soft grass above where his mortal body lay under six feet of dirt in sunny Balamb Cemetary. He had a nice plot, he supposed, quiet and shaded. It seemed like the perfect place to curl up on a blanket with a good book. Well, it would be if there weren’t so many dead people around. It didn’t bother Seifer all that much – he had been surrounded by death most of his life and, well, he was dead too. That in itself was weird. Thinking about it, Squall’s words came back to haunt him and he stood to follow behind the brunette, tossing his feelings after him.
You are a hero, Squall. You saved my life more times than I can remember…and you weren’t even there for half of them. This last thing…there was nothing you could have done. There’s nothing short of Hyne herself could have done to save and there was none of that happening, now was there. But you, you’ll be around for a while. They’ll write books about you, you’ll be in all the History texts – there’ll even be a holiday named after the Lion of Balamb. Down the line, you’ll become a legend…several years after Ultimecia dies – but you’ll never fade. You’ll never fade because you are a true hero, my love. You didn’t save the world for money or for duty or for self-interest, but you did it because if you didn’t, nobody else would have. And you love the world enough to keep it in tact.
You’ll survive too, Squall. You’ll do it because you’re a survivor and you’re strong. But you don’t have to do it without me because I’ll always be here. I love you too, Squall.
As Squall walked away from the grave, his heart still with the one who lay in the coffin below the earth, he felt a warm breeze flow over him even as Rinoa spoke words of comfort to him. Pausing his step for a moment, he felt the warm air wrap around him as Seifer threw his arms around him.
“I love you too, Squall,” he heard in his mind, his heart. Grief spasmed through him even as joy surged through his veins. A small smile played on his lips and he felt more content than he had since he was a child. “I’ll love you always, and I’ll always be here. Believe in that. Believe in me. Believe in us. Always…my hero.”
Return to Archive