In the Shadows

Chapter 3 - The Accident

By Kursed SeeD

Sorrow will ease with time, slide away like the dark from the light. Slowly, but surely.

Five years had passed since Raine's birth and little had changed.

Seifer had stayed in Balamb, mainly, I sensed, to stay close to Squall and Raine. When he was around the child, his demeanor would change entirely. He would become happy (an impressive feat, indeed) and there would not be one sour word from him. He treated the little girl like she was his own, wincing only slightly when she called him 'Uncle Seify'. He spent all the time he could with her, offering to baby-sit her at any moment in time, even if he had previous engagements. Perhaps it was his way of keeping close to Squall. I knew that when he held that little girl, he thought only of how she should be theirs. How she was theirs. Seifer had always considered Rinoa a mere inconvenience.

Squall had also dedicated all of his time to Raine. Not even the end of the world could be more important than his little girl. Rinoa had become busy, her child second in line to her social life, so Raine spent most of her time with her father and her 'Uncle Seify'. I know this caused much friction between the married pair, but no one seemed to want to do anything about it. Rinoa, no matter how much she was chided, would always have more important things to do, while Seifer did not. Both Seifer and Squall were amazed as to how someone could put something else above the angelic Raine.

After a bit of tension, life had seemingly settled down. Squall and Seifer seemed to have accepted that fate would not allow them to be together. There was still pain in their eyes when they looked at each other, as I knew there always would be, but it was no longer breath-taking or overwhelming. I no longer cried over their loss, only a dull ache remained behind.

And then, slowly, Squall began to change. He was starting to lose his energy, to wither away. He was only in his twenties, it wasn't right.

I knew that Seifer noticed this and worried, even though Squall repeatedly brushed it off, saying he merely had a lot going on in his life. There wasn't a day that passed that I did not overhear Seifer begging Squall to see a doctor. There also wasn't a day that I did not overhear Squall telling Seifer that he was fine.

It had been time to clear both of their minds. We had all decided a vacation was in order, so we had flown to the Orphanage, the place where we had all first come together.

It had been a beautiful day out, the kind that poets write about and lovers dream of. No one saw the dark clouds that stirred behind the golden sun, ready and willing to rain upon our happiness.

At first we all had mingled with each other, making small chat and meaningless gestures. After a bit, though, we began to fade back into ourselves. Back to our shell-searching, tans and swimming.

There we were, lost in our own little worlds, when we heard a tiny scream, childlike and fearful. A quick glance towards the water told us that Raine had gotten too far out. No matter how good of a swimmer she was, the current could and would still take her down.

Within an instant Squall and Seifer leapt into the waters, paddling furiously to get to their little girl. I think the rest of us were to shocked to move. But those two... they never hesitated. Even though I could see the panic in their eyes, they never let it take control or falter their steps.

Seifer was to be the one to reach Raine first. He grabbed the frightened child just in time to shield her from an oncoming wave. Seifer had underestimated the impact, though, and they both were thrown underwater.

Squall continued to swim towards them frantically, as we all waited for Seifer and Raine to surface. But they didn't.

I saw Squall glance back at us fearfully and within a second, I was in the water myself, making my way towards the last spot I had seen the pair. I heard the others close behind me.

I watched as Squall dived underwater, searching for either of them. I was beginning to worry that he himself had been caught in the current, when he arose, a sputtering child in his arms.


I swam over towards him without hesitation. He placed Raine in my arms, "I've gotta go find him!"

The look of complete terror and loss stunned me for a moment. I clutched Raine tightly, feverishly praying for Seifer's safety. Squall's too.

I felt a tug on my arm, and was forced to retreat back to the beach. I did not want to leave Squall and Seifer alone out there, but whoever had said it had been right. We needed to get Raine out of the water and wrapped into a blanket. (I guess in retrospect I shouldn't have rolled my eyes at Rinoa for bringing a blanket to the beach.)

Rinoa tried to pry the child from my arms, but I refused to let her go. I just stood here, holding her, waiting for them to emerge.

Someone was crying, although I didn't know who. I had looked at everybody and, although their faces were full of concern and dread, there were no tears in their eyes.

I heard a slight gasp and quickly turned back to the beach. An immense feeling of relief washed over me as I saw Squall slowly making his way towards the sand, Seifer in tow.

I could see Squall struggling with the unconscious Seifer, so I finally relented and handed Raine over to Rinoa, making my way back out to the waters to help them.

I wrapped an arm around Seifer's shoulder, giving Squall a small reassuring nod. We quickly made our way back to land.

Squall carefully laid Seifer out on the ground.

"Is he going to be okay?"

Squall had ignored the question and began CPR. I could only stand there and watch as Squall repeatedly tried to breathe life back into the man that held his heart.

I struggled to maintain my composure when Squall started crying openly. He had never been one to show his emotions, especially not in front of a lot of people. But here he was, crying in front of all of us, not giving a damn who saw it or what they thought. Only one thing mattered to him right now. Saving Seifer's life.

"Don't you die, damn you..." He whispered through his tears, "You can't die... c'mon... breathe, Seifer, breathe."

The seconds seemed to last forever. I had a hard time hearing anything other than the beating of my heart, which felt like it had jumped into my throat.

I continued to watch him struggle, my hand pressed against my mouth, as the others started to lose their hope, to concede to his death. Not Squall, though. I knew Squall would stay out there for the rest of time if it meant bringing Seifer back.

"Squall... I don't think it's going to work..." Rinoa said tentatively after a moment or so.

Squall paused for a moment, shooting her one of the coldest glares I had ever seen. Rinoa actually took a step back from the intensity of his look. "Sorry, sorry." She mumbled as Squall resumed working.

"Is Uncle Seify gonna be okay?" I wish I could have answered Raine's question, but I did not know myself.

Squall stopped the CPR and leaned over Seifer, bringing his mouth to Seifer's ear. I saw his mouth moving, but could not figure out what he was saying to him.

Whatever it was, though, it must have been a Hyne send... a few moments later, Seifer started coughing furiously. Squall quickly turned him over on his back, allowing the water to escape his lungs.

When he was through, Seifer fell against Squall, exhausted. I know that everyone else there assumed that they were only good friends, and that was why Squall had tried so hard... but... I knew better. I could read them both like open books.

Raine jumped on Seifer, hugging him tightly. "I'm so glad you're okay, Uncle Seify! I was real worried 'bout you!"

Seifer smiled at Raine as Squall's fears slowly began to retreat. I could tell he still couldn't believe Seifer was going to be okay. I don't think Seifer believed it himself.

"C'mon, guys... I think we've had enough adventures for today..." Rinoa stood up, picking up her child.

One by one we followed her back to the orphanage. Squall and Seifer, however, opted to remain there for a bit, until 'Seifer regained his strength.'

And although I wished I could have remained unseen that evening, to hear of their words, I did not stay.

For I knew that they needed their privacy.

And I would respect that.

Although I would forever be wondering what they had said. What could you say to your love who almost died? Or to your love who saved your life?

Maybe they didn't have to say anything at all...

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