The New Flesh

Chapter Six

By Scarlet Fever

"What is your problem?" Tevedes asked, crossing her gloved hands in her lap as she regarded Val and Gietzen coolly. "Didn't your little exploration go well?"

"They were there!" Val panted, leaning on the desk as she caught her breath, her legs shaking.

"Who?" Tempest asked.

Gietzen slid to the floor. "Seifer and Zell."

There was silence in the room, so loud that Val and Gietzen's racing heartbeats could be heard. Tevedes's unblinking eyes flinched slightly. "What?"

"You heard her!" Val spat, patting her chest, her heart beating so quickly that it hurt her chest.

Tempest snorted. "Nice try, Val. Your pranks are getting a little old. They're dead, remember."

Kronos laughed richly. "That isn't really a viable defence." She turned her cobalt gaze to Val. "Okay, start from the beginning."

Val sat on the edge of Tevedes's desk. "Well, we sense that Nomura and his slut girlfriend, Squall came in with Rinoa Heartilly. After a while, I felt this... Energy in the room. I saw Seifer Almasy, sending out power to Nida, which Nida was receiving."

"Seifer was there to match powers with Nomura?" Tevedes asked sharply. "Well, then what are you so worried about?"

"They saw us..." Gietzen whispered. "They saw us."

"Who is they?" Tempest asked, fanning herself nervously. "That slut Nomura and his faggot girlfriend, or Seifer and Zell?"

"Seifer and Zell, Tempest!" Val ground out. "Idiot."

Tempest clapped her fan shut. A clap of thunder distantly boomed, and it started to rain.

"Calm down!" Tevedes commanded. A smile moved across Tevedes's bloodless lips. "Nida Nomura... Calling up dead demons. Seifer Almasy and Zell Dincht were possessed by Ultimecia and Adel. This does not bode well for Nomura trying to dissuade rumours that his power is benign."

Kronos nodded, looking at the gold pocket watch that hung from her throat. "Maybe we can give an anonymous tip to the press about Nida's behaviour at the club, hmmm?"

"But...." Val piped up. "I know what I saw!"

"The election is in two weeks..." Tevedes trailed off. "That gives us enough time to work around this. Xerampelinae's child was not looking for us. He was looking for Nida Nomura."

"Tevedes!" Val cried. "We have to do something..."

Tevedes's already white face went even paler. "I am in kontrol now. I'll handle it."

Val opened her mouth to protest, but clamped it shut again with one look from Tevedes.

Tempest looked out at the rain, which was now falling heavily. "I'm nervous."

"As am I," Tevedes admitted. "Seifer and Zell showing up puts a crinkle into things, but it's something that we can't lose our heads over. We only have to wait a little while longer..."

"Galbadia is dissatisfied with Esthar's gaining of International power, and a lot silently blame in on the Sorcerers and Sorceresses that inhabit the country. This will be easy," Kronos assured. "Unless you all start freaking out."

Gietzen curled into a ball on the ground, sitting in Tevedes's shadow. "They'll find out soon. They'll find out that we aren't what we say we are, aren't what we seem."

"We ruled an entire world," Tevedes whispered, tapping her chin with a long finger. "A public election won't be a problem. We'll destroy Esthar, destroy Squall Leonhart, and Nida Nomura, just like she wanted."

"Are you sure?" Val asked, touching the rings piercing her forearms. "How will we face her if we fail?"

"We won't fail..." Tempest whispered, her profile illuminated by a loud, powerful lightning bolt that tore the sky in two. "We're more powerful than ever... We can't fail."

"Tempest is right," Tevedes murmured, removing her black coat. The rings in her forearms, the triple duplicates to Val and Tempest, glittering when another crack of lightning pierced the night. "We'll make the world cower at our feet once more. Patience was our ally back then, and it will be again."

"What the fuck happened?" Squall asked, rubbing his head. "And, hurry up with that key! I'm getting soaked."

Rinoa sighed, opening the large front doors of the mansion. "I don't know where this storm came from... Lately we've been getting odd weather."

They all shared a nervous glance as they stepped into the foyer, their clothes and hair dripping from the sudden downpour.

"Look..." Nida began. "I know what I saw. I wasn't that high. Seifer and Zell were there."

"That's impossible!" Rinoa said, stripping her wet coat off her body. Her shirt was also wet, and clung to her stomach and breasts like a second skin. "They're dead, remember?"

"How could I forget?" Squall muttered under his breath, shaking his hair out. "Look, Nida.... I'm not saying you're wrong, because I 'saw' them, too. But, I think it could have just been illusion... Or, someone fucking with you?"

"Who though, Squall?" Nida asked. "I mean, I know that people like Tevedes Tsepeth hate Sorcerers and Sorceresses, but....?" He shrugged. "I have the sudden urge for coffee."

"I'll make some," Rinoa offered. "Okay, can I ask something? I noticed that when we got there, the pitch of energy was bordering on insane and scary, but it was so damn infectious. I mean, I danced so hard, and didn't feel tired or sore..." She trailed off, her legs stiff. "But, I feel it now. Actually, I felt it after I passed out in the bathroom, like something was working the crowd up into a frenzy."

"I did notice that..." Nida trailed off. "Maybe that has something to do with what we saw?"

Squall closed his eyes, feeling discomfort building. "Whatever it was, it called to your power. Have there been any new Sorceresses reported in Galbadia?"

"Not that I know of..." Nida trailed off. "But, even if there were, they wouldn't come forward, especially not with Tevedes hanging around."

"Maybe she had something to do with this?" Rinoa offered quietly, pouring coffee.

Squall snorted. "Yeah, right. Why don't you just shut up if you're not going to say anything useful?"

Rinoa slammed her mug down on the counter, hot coffee sloshing over the edges. "I really don't appreciate your rudeness, Squall. This is my house, you know, and although I did offer you to stay here, that doesn't give you the right to treat me like garbage."

"Well, I wouldn't have to treat you like garbage if you'd..." Squall stopped himself. "No, I'm not going to start this with you..."

Nida whistled loudly, causing them both to stop. "Stop it!" Nida commanded angrily, his lip curling up in a sneer. "God, I'm so sick of your shit..."

Squall opened his mouth to protest, but Nida glared at him, and he snapped it shut again.

"Both of you," he emphasized. "Are you going to chill out? Squall, you need to stop being so jealous and paranoid, and don't deny it, because I know you are, and Rinoa..."

She gasped slightly when Nida directed his comments at her. "I didn't do anything!"

"Stop pushing Squall's buttons. Maybe you've got a little anger towards him still harboured from when your relationship fell apart. Just... get over it, both of you. Now, I'm going out for a smoke... Alone." Nida slowly breathed out, and left Squall and Rinoa standing in the kitchen, just standing there, not really sure of how they should act, or what they should say.

"Nida smokes?" Rinoa asked, confused.

"Not a cigarette, you idiot..." Squall muttered, then under his breath and through clenched teeth added "I'm not paranoid..."

Rinoa put her fists on her hips, frowning deeply, her skin feeling cold and clammy from the sweat that was dried on it. "Look... I like Nida, okay?"

Squall reared his head up, his eyes shooting cold lasers at Rinoa.

"And, not like that. He's right about you being paranoid. What, you think that I'll immediately fall in love with someone who's nice to me? He's gay, Squall!"

"That didn't stop you from banging Seifer..." He spat out.

"Oh.... Oh, My God... What happened to you, Squall? Even at your coldest, you were never this fucking caustic!" She opened her mouth again, but stopped. "Squall...." Rinoa sighed deeply, waving her hand as she struggled to find the words she wanted to use. "Look, I don't want to fight with you. Nida has helped me a lot, and I honestly just like spending time with him, as a friend, and I pity you if you can't understand that. But, I also want you to know that I want you to be my friend again, too. I know we've had our problems, but we've also had good times."

"We were also in a relationship during your 'good times'. Things have changed."

Rinoa bit her lip sadly. "Yeah, I see that they really have...." She stared at him, her eyes boring into the side of his face.

Squall shook his head, feeling her glare. His shaggy hair fell over his face, curtaining it away from her gaze. "What are you staring at?"

"Nothing, nothing..." She sighed. "Squall, look at me... Please?"

Squall slowly raised a cold, cold gaze to her face.

Rinoa extended her hand. "Can we just start over? Hello, I'm Rinoa Heartilly."

"No, we can't start over, Rinoa..." Squall kept his arms locked around his torso, hugging himself from the cold of Nida's words, the cold that still hung in the dark kitchen.

Rinoa kept her hand out. "C'mon Squall... Can't we at least try? I don't want to live in the past... I lost so much of it already. Just... please?" She groaned quietly as Squall just looked at her hand like it was the open mouth of a Malboro. "I don't want to sleep with Nida!" She thought this was a stupid thing to say, but it actually seemed to cause some tension to melt away from Squall's shoulders. "I really need friends right now, Squall....." Her voice became very quiet.

"All right..." He extended his hand, and shook Rinoa's hand limply.

When they pulled away from each other, Rinoa laughed, somewhat sardonically. "I think you're going into a truce with me more for Nida's benefit than our benefits, hmm?"

Squall just snorted, inspecting Rinoa. He still didn't trust her, but didn't want Nida angry with him, so would be civil with his former girlfriend. Squall had wanted so desperately not to depend so fully on anyone again, but it had happened, and worse than with Ellone, worse than with Rinoa. And, Nida didn't even know how much Squall needed him, was dependant on him.


He fell out of his mental monologue when the sound of Rinoa snapping her fingers caught his attention. "What?"

"Want some coffee?"

"Yeah..." Squall began.

"Black as night," Rinoa finished, handing him a mug. "I remember."

He took the mug, wrapping his fingers around it, which felt like ice. "Rinoa, why did you pass out? And, don't tell me it was the drugs... Nida and I were taking the same stuff..."

Rinoa shrugged, sipping the coffee, then made a face, pouring some Amaretto flavoured creamer into it. "I honestly don't know... Shaami said that I was mumbling stuff."

"What... stuff?" Squall asked, hiding the suspicion that was entering his voice.

"I don't know..." Rinoa trailed off, tenting her fingers together, then putting them at her sides. She then raised her hands again, poking the tips of her index fingers together repeatedly.

"Right, right..." Squall watched her, more and more suspicious of Rinoa. But, he buried it deep, realizing that he didn't know enough about Tevedes Tsepeth, so he should just keep his thoughts to himself.

"I was kind of... passed out, so don't remember. But... Didn't you notice that the energy in the club.. It was on the brink of insanity."

"Clubs are like that, especially with drug use," Squall said, shrugging as he drank his coffee. He kept looking down the hall, wondering if Nida was going to come back, but doubting it.

"I partly agree..." Rinoa admitted, looking into her coffee. "But... never like that, you know?" She brushed her hair off her shoulders, feeling cold in the kitchen, her nipples hardening. "There just seems to be something very wrong with things lately."

"What do you mean?" Squall asked, hoping that Rinoa would accidentally admit something.

She narrowed her eyes. "So, what was with you seeing Seifer and Zell? I'd call that 'wrong'."

"I call it a drug induced hallucination..." Squall put his mug on the counter, a little too loudly. "If Nida comes back, tell him I went to bed." He turned on his heel, his shoes squeaking against the tiled kitchen floor.

Rinoa just sighed, leaning against the counter. "You're wrong, Squall..." She whispered, resting her chin in her hands. "It didn't have anything to do with the drugs... I just wish I knew what was going on with everything.... With me."

The girl cried out as a steel ring was pushed into her arm, the flesh having been cut open, pinned apart. Tears ran down her face, and she was whimpering, trying to thrash around as the doctor with the shiny corset pushed the ring between the bones in the girl's forearms. She tried to move, but was being held down by the woman with the gold hair, Pallas, and the one with the red braids and tear tattoo, Schuld.

"There!" The doctor exclaimed. "Now, I'll just stitch her up."

"Hurry up, Xiphias..." Schuld grunted. "She's getting too squirmy... I figure she would have passed out by now."

The woman in the furs stood against the wall, inspecting her claw-like nails, her shaggy bangs falling in her face. Through blurry, teary eyes, the girl looked at the woman in the furs, looked at a shiny silver pendant that hung between her breasts, which were only covered by a fur boa. It looked familiar.

"You're one of us now..." Schuld whispered, waving her own pierced arms in front of the girl's face. "But, you only get one in each arm because you aren't a true Oracle." She kissed the top of the girl's head in a sarcastic manner.

Xiphias groaned. "Schuld, please... When you're moving around, it makes this more complicated."

"Sorry, doc."

"So...." The furred woman trailed off. "That Fermata concert is tomorrow, right?"

Pallas looked over at her. "Yes... Why do you care?"

"He'll be there..." She smiled. "I have some plans for him...." She trailed off as the phone rang. "Don't get up."

Xiphias just grunted and went back to stitching up the girl's arms. She was weeping.

"Yeellllloooo?" The furred woman asked cheerfully. "Oh, Kronos..." The smile faded from her feline face "What?!" The question came out very harshly, and caused the other women to look over. "You're serious?... Okay.... Right. Okay... We'll let her know. Bye." She hung up the phone.

"What did Kronos say?" Pallas asked, her iron grip on the girl loosening slightly.

She didn't answer, and just stared off into space.

"Griever?!" Pallas called, snapping the feline woman out of her reverie.

"Guess who made an appearance at Diamond Dust when Val and Gietzen were there?"

Pallas and Schuld shared nervous glances when they saw the panic in Griever's eyes. "Oh, god..."

"Exactly..." Griever whispered. "We're running out of time."

"So, did you and Rinoa stop bickering?" Nida asked.

Squall sighed, keeping his eyes on the book he'd been reading for the past hour. After he'd left the kitchen, and his fight/truce with Rinoa, he took to reading, wondering where Nida was. "Where were you? That was a long pot break."

"I just needed to think..." Nida trailed off, his voice sounding muffled. Squall heard him sucking on something. "Want a lollipop?"

"Not really..." Squall trailed off. He was looking at a book about the afterlife that he'd found in the Caraway Mansion's library. It had caught his eye, especially after what they'd experienced at Diamond Dust. "Did you find anything out through Iudicium's powers?"

Nida shrugged, then said "I don't know", because Squall wasn't looking at him, and was pouring over the pages of the book. "I kind of got the impression from her thoughts, and just visions I've been having, that there's some sort of... Portal that is..." Nida trailed off.

"That is what?" Squall asked, turning another page, wincing as he gave himself a paper cut on his chest.

"That's what you get for reading with no shirt on..." Nida trailed off, the lollipop clacking against his teeth. "Well, she's been pretty silent lately, but I got the impression that it has something to do with Ultimecia, or better yet... Xystus. That was the Palace Of The Dead, right?"

"Yeah..." Squall sighed. "You know... I think you might have a point... I just have a really bad feeling."

"I know..." Nida trailed off. "I'm finding it harder to control my powers, especially since we've arrived in Deling, and especially after that crazy storm. And, it's like... time is compressing, but it's not time..." Nida sighed. "And, I don't really want to think about it. I just want to concentrate on going to the Fermata concert tomorrow, and then worry about dealing with you meeting my father. That's scarier than anything Ultimecia can come up with."

"If you survived Laguna, I'm sure I can survive... Uh... What is your Dad's first name, anyway?"

Nida laughed, his voice muffled by the lollipop. "Daisuke. But, I don't want to think about him right now. I went to a lot of effort, and the last thing I want to think about..." Nida trailed off as he took his lollipop out of his mouth. "Is my father."

"Efforts?" Squall's scarred brow furrowed in confusion, and he raised his eyes from the book. Nida was casually standing in the doorway, as if nothing was out of the ordinary, sucking on a grape lollipop, which had delicately stained his lips a translucent purple colour. But, it wasn't the sucker that was what was out of place. It was Nida's clothing. He was wearing a very tight, short sleeved white dress shirt, which looked both tailored to his lean frame, and painted on. A tie was hanging from his neck, undone, looking messy and sexy all at once. Only the three middle buttons were closed, and his navel was exposed over the waistband of the blue, green and black tartan kilt that he was wearing. It was less of a kilt and more of a miniskirt, true to schoolgirl fashion of being both innocent looking and very, very slutty. It was very short on Nida, and if he bent over, his entire ass would be showing, which caused Squall's interest to rise. A ribbon of the soft flesh of Nida's taut thighs could be seen over the tops of the thigh high socks, which had small black stripes crossing their tops. They disappeared into a pair of Mary Jane shoes, polished and shining. "What....?" Squall began.

"I packed it so we could have some fun. I felt bad about yelling at you, so thought I'd offer a little gift that you could..." Nida trailed off as he fiddled with one of the buttons on the shirt. "Unwrap."

Squall crawled across the bed to the footboard, reaching out, and grabbing Nida by the waist. He cocked his head, inspecting the outfit, then lifted the skirt to see what Nida was wearing underneath. "You even put on the white schoolgirl panties?"

Nida slapped Squall's hand away. "You dirty old pervert, lifting up an innocent schoolgirl's skirt..." He made a tsking sound, and pushed Squall back on the mattress with one finger. Squall sat back up and took the lollipop out of Nida's mouth, and put it in his own. He then gripped Nida's hips, and shuffled him towards the side of the bed.

"Can I have my lollipop back, please?" Nida asked, batting his eyelashes sarcastically.

"No..." Squall ran his tongue over it, tasting the candy and Nida's saliva. "Well, you can, but you'll have to do something for it." Squall pulled the sucker out of his mouth, and waved it around. "Like, come over here...."

Nida smoothed the back of his skirt before beginning to sit down, but Squall pushed Nida back up.

"No, no..." Squall smiled, sitting up. "On all fours..." Squall got off the bed, the stem of the lollipop hanging out from between his sexy lips.

Nida did as he was told, and bit his lip when Squall's hand moved over the curve of the back of his thigh, up to his ass, which was exposed because the skirt was far too short. He felt Squall's fingers trace the lines of the white panties he's squeezed himself into. Nida was hoping that Squall would ask him to take them off, because they were uncomfortable, and his growing erection felt cumbersome and trapped within the cotton. Squall sucked on the lollipop thoughtfully, and ran his hands up and down Nida's ass. Squall then nudged one of his fingers under the thin fabric, and traced between Nida's ass cheeks, smirking around the sucker as Nida moaned.

Squall took the grape sucker out of his mouth, and continued to run his finger over Nida's opening. "So... Let me get this straight...." He continued to touch the puckered opening, but didn't push his finger inside. "You didn't do your homework, Miss Nomura?"

"Squall..." Nida whispered, his voice hitching slightly.

"Hey now... You shouldn't call your elders by their first names..." Squall chuckled and threw the stem of the lollipop in the garbage when the grape candy dissolved on his tongue, which was now stained purple. Squall pushed the cotton underwear aside, and heard it rip somewhere. So, he just decided to rip it all off. He tossed the mangled underwear on the floor, and ran his hands up and down Nida's thighs, feeling the wool of the socks, and the satiny feel of Nida's skin. Squall pushed Nida's legs apart slightly so that he could look at his lover's ass.

After nothing happened for a few moments, Nida raised a curious eyebrow. "Squall...?" He began to ask, but felt Squall's hands move down his legs, down to his calves, and felt Squall's wet tongue move up the muscle running up Nida's inner thigh, then felt the hot, wet trail move up to the underside of his scrotum. One of his testicles was engulfed by Squall's mouth, briefly suckled on, and Nida bowed his back under the stimulation, whimpering into his forearms and the comforter. Squall pulled his mouth off Nida's balls, and ran his tongue up Nida's crack, stopping at the puckered entrance to his lower intestines, teasing it with his tongue. Squall gently licked over it, slowly pushing just the tip of his tongue into Nida's body, then retracting it again. Squall repeated this motion over and over, pushing a small amount of his tongue into Nida's ass, then pulling it out again, relishing in the rectal muscles quivering around him. Squall moved his mouth to the side, and bit into the flesh of one of Nida's cheeks, pulling away to look at the teeth indents he left in the smooth flesh. Squall then licked over the marks, quickly moving his tongue back to Nida's asshole. He stabbed his tongue deep into Nida's body as his right hand reached up, cupping Nida's testicles. His left hand moved down his own body, and he began to jerk himself off in tune with his own ministrations over Nida's stiff cock under the starchy fabric of the mini-kilt that Nida was so sinfully wearing.

Nida bit into his own wrist gently, wanting to swallow his moans, not wanting Rinoa to hear them fucking. Squall's tongue was moving in maddening patterns within Nida's body, and his hand was giving firm, experienced strokes. Nida was panting heavily, feeling constricted in the tight shirt, like it was a corset, cutting off his air. Nida felt his power, Iudicium's powers, move over him, and didn't try to stop it. The energy fuelled his muscles, which burned with desire, and tugged at his heart. It felt stronger than usual, and seemed to pull a black veil over Nida's vision. He contracted and relaxed his sphincter muscle around Squall's tongue, which was so hot and wet, so busy within him. Nida reared his head, his mouth opening in a silent scream as Iudicium's power, which felt more and more like his own power everyday, flooded him. He was sure that Squall could taste it, could feel it under his fingers, which were still greedily wrapped around Nida's cock. Nida felt like he was going to come harder than he ever had before, but Squall pulled his tongue out of Nida's body, and released his cock.

Squall had been able to taste the power, and it had gone straight to his cock. Every time he was with Nida, Iudicium's power got stronger and stronger, felt more and more sexual. It was almost like Nida was actually taking over Iudicium's powers. Squall wondered if it was so, but had a feeling it wasn't. Squall reached over to the nightstand, and took the lubricant and a condom from off the table. He stared at the packaged condom for a couple of moments, hesitating.

Nida propped himself up on his hands and knees again, and looked over his shoulder, his erection rock hard and demanding attention, wondering why Squall suddenly stopped. "Squall, what is it?" He panted, his erection brushing against the fabric of the skirt, making Nida groan in anticipation and frustration.

"Why do we still use these?" Squall asked, his erection hanging out of his pants, which were only unzipped. "It's not like we're fucking anyone else... Right?" He raised his eyebrow at Nida.

"You want to stop....?" Nida asked, not sure if he meant stop having sex that night, or stop using condoms.

"Fuck it..." Squall tossed the condom across the room. It hit the wall as he uncapped the lubricant. "I trust you."

Nida closed his eyes, feeling Squall bending over his back, kissing the back of his neck as he lubricated Nida's channel. He also felt Squall's free hand struggling with the buttons on the painted-on shirt. Eventually, he just gave up, and ripped them off, the buttons falling into the sheets which were rumpled under Nida's hands and knees. Nida felt two fingers push into him as the shirt and skirt were pulled off his body, their little game forgotten. Nida heard buckles and rustling, and felt Squall moving behind him, fingers still moving in and out of his rectum. Nida's heart was fluttering in his chest as Squall inserted a third finger into Nida's body, realizing that it would be just Squall in his body, flesh against flesh. It was a big step in trust. The way that Squall had said 'I trust you' reverberated in Nida's mind, causing tremors to run up and down his spine, a deep pain to burrow in his stomach. It wasn't a hurtful pain, but more like a great joy that was so big that it hurt.

As Squall used his fingers to push the lubrication further up into Nida's lower intestines, he used his other hand to slather the lubricant on his own bare erection. Squall was actually slightly nervous about barebacking with Nida, but Nida seemed willing, trusting of Squall, that it just made him warm all over. It made the feeling of love that was already filling Squall grow larger and larger. The scarred man wondered if the growing size of his utter affection and love for Nida would finally get so big that it would come out of his mouth in the form of the words 'I love you'. When he'd said 'I trust you', deep within, it felt like an 'I love you', at least to him it did. Squall pulled his fingers out of Nida's body, gripping Nida's hips in order to pull him backwards.

"Are you sure about this?" Squall whispered.

"Very..." Nida trailed off. He let out his breath in a slow wave as Squall rocked him back, slowly impaling Nida on his cock, pushing just the head in. Nida whimpered, a breathy noise, as he felt Squall push into him. It was a familiar feeling, but also radically different. He wasn't feeling lubricated latex rub against the inner walls of his rectum. It was just Squall. Squall kept pushing into Nida until his balls were cradling against Nida's own, completely filling him. Nida's muscles quivered around the impalement, and he looped his fingers through Squall's, squeezing his lover's hand.

Squall panted, feeling every muscle twitch, feeling the heat, the flesh squeezing around his cock, and it felt so magnified, so real. Before, it had been all through the condom, and it was almost like the first time with Nida. When he slowly began to thrust in and out, the bare feeling of the strong muscles of Nida's anus gripping him was almost too much to bear. Squall pulled out, not wanting to come just yet, and rubbed the screamingly sensitive head of his cock around the stretched ring of Nida's rectum. Nida moaned, and Squall couldn't help himself, pushing himself deeply into Nida's body, relishing the heat all around him. They began thrusting against each other, Squall's hips slamming against Nida's ass, Nida's ass slapping against Squall's hips. They didn't bother to swallow their moans, not caring if the whole fucking city heard them. Nida's muscles gripped Squall's cock tightly, and Nida's dark power did the same thing, washing over Squall in lustful waves. Squall wondered if Nida knew the effect that he had on Squall. The scarred SeeD bowed over his lover, kissing the backs of his shoulders, the nape of his neck, the sides of his face, burying his face in Nida's soft ebony tresses.

Nida moaned when Squall pulled out, and smiled, his legs feeling wobbly, as Squall rolled him over, so that Nida was on his back, his limbs splaying out all around him, staring up at Squall, who was crawling over him, like a cat. He hoisted his legs up on Squall's shoulders, and felt pleasured relief wash over him when Squall's penis filled him again. Squall bent over Nida as he began thrusting into him again, with more fervour than ever, his lips locking onto the Asian pilot's, their tongues filling each other's mouths. Squall could taste the last remnants of the grape lollipop, and mentally admitted it aroused him to know that Nida was tasting his own body on Squall's tongue. As they fucked, one of Squall's hands moved to Nida's cock, jerking him off, joining Nida's own hand in manual stimulation. They moaned into each other's mouths, thrusting against each other with urgency.

Squall moved his hand away from Nida's erection, and just began stroking his chest, touching his skin, which seemed to zing with power, power that was building up with each thrust, each lash of their tongues, each whimper, each moan. It seemed to pass through his fingertips, moving up his arms, vibrating into his bones. Squall let out a surprised little moan when Nida rolled them over, so that he was straddling Squall. Nida put his hands on Squall's shoulders, and sat up, riding the impalement of Squall's penis with desired fervour. He reared his head away from Squall's mouth, raising his body to get a different angle of penetration, arching his back, reaching into the sheets behind him. Squall used one of his hands to continue to masturbate Nida, and with the other, trailed his finger underneath Nida's scrotum, and pressed up into the juncture between Nida's testicles and his crack, which caused Nida to moan, slamming his pelvis down onto Squall's.

Squall felt like he was near orgasm, and gripped Nida's thighs, sitting up. He pressed Nida's back against the footboard with a slap, and rammed into his lover's body, milking his arousal, bringing himself closer and closer to the brink. He closed his mouth over Nida's, feeling shivers move up and down Nida's back. He felt the tremors of orgasm begin all around, him, and for Squall, it was a heavenly feeling. He'd felt Nida come all around him before, but never skin to skin. This was actually the first time that he'd every had sex without a condom. When he'd been with Rinoa, they'd always used condoms to prevent pregnancy, even though Rinoa did eventually go on the birth control pill. Nida's muscles contracted all around him, and he felt Nida come against his stomach.

Nida whimpered as he came, the orgasm he was experiencing far greater than any he could remember. He felt very close to Squall at that moment. When his orgasm hit full force, his muscles shivering, his rectum contracting and quivering, Nida completely let go, and his Sorcery flowed out from his body like a liquid sea, causing him to moan loudly, a tear slowly escaping the corner of his closed eye, the pleasure bordering on pain because it was just so extreme. In the void of pleasure, Nida felt Squall's arms wrap around him. He moved his fingers into Squall's hair, and his powers, Iudicium's legacy, washed over both of them.

Squall felt like he was choking on Iudicium's powers, but it wasn't a bad feeling. It was heady, beautiful, fragile and strong. It permeated all his pores, filled his lungs, and brimmed Squall with lust, desire, love. He felt himself fall into the dark pool of power that was waiting for him in release. The idea that he was ejaculating within Nida's body seemed to make his orgasm more powerful, and he had to hold onto Nida tightly, feeling like he was going to wash away in Sorcery.

Nida threw his head back, his voice unable to come out of his mouth as he felt Squall come inside him. They held each other as they rode their orgasms, which slowed to sensitive waves that went on for a good minute. Squall felt the power settle in his body and not recede as his erection dwindled within Nida's body. Squall tilted his head, and kissed Nida gently, pulling at the other man's lower lip with his own mouth. Nida wearily, yet happily, kissed him back, their fingers intertwining. Squall slowly pulled out of Nida's body, which caused the Asian pilot to slump on the mattress. Squall saw a trickle of semen travel down the inner line of Nida's thigh. He traced it with his finger, and brought the semen to his mouth. Squall's whole body felt tired, heavy, drenched with spent desire and Sorcery. Squall slowly crawled into Nida's embrace, not caring if he was sticky from the lubricant and semen, not caring if he was covered in sweat. Nida held him tightly as Squall licked up the already drying semen splattered on Nida's lean chest.

Squall felt like he should say something, but words seemed just... crude at that moment. He pressed his face into the side of Nida's neck, closing his eyes, his heart wanting to leap out of his chest, and not just from spent exertion. Squall had thought at one point that he'd loved Rinoa Heartilly, but being here, like this, with Nida, he realized that he hadn't known shit. He knew that this was it, this was what love should have always felt like, but he couldn't even express it. With the immense pleasure of actually coming into Nida's body, and not into a condom, also came sadness that he couldn't express what he felt so strongly.

The sun was slowly rising over the tops of the buildings of Esthar. It caught on the surfaces of the Presidential Palace, like liquid fire. It actually almost looked... nice.

"Watching the sunrise? I'm sure you've seen enough in your lifetime..."

The woman who'd been watching the sun turned. She was still wearing her Esthar uniform, something that she actually hated wearing. "What are you doing here?"

Schuld stopped beside Viator, resting her pierced arms on the railing, mimicking Viator's position. "I've got some news. And, I just felt like taking a little trip." Schuld lit a cigarette, offering Viator one, which she accepted. They smoked in silence for a few moments. "I can see why Adel loved this city... It's really quite nice."

"What news?"

Schuld laughed, then grew sombre. "In Deling City, apparently Val and Gietzen saw Seifer Almasy and Zell Dincht."

Viator's fiery orange braid fell off her shoulder as she turned to look at Schuld. "What?"

"You heard what I said..." Schuld took a long drag. "She thought she saw Seifer and Zell."

"What does this mean?" Viator asked. "Especially so close to the election..."

Schuld shrugged one of her muscular shoulders. "I don't know. But, Kronos sounded nervous. I think we should all just relax for now. Freaking out will only be detrimental to our plans. And, besides..." She paused, taking another drag. "From what we gleaned, I think that Seifer and Zell were more interested in Nomura, anyway."

"Do you think they know...?" Viator asked, looking back out over Esthar. "Or, is it more Iudicium's strengthening power that is calling them?"

"A little from both columns?" Schuld offered. "I honestly don't know. But, we just have to hold tight for a couple more weeks." Schuld stubbed out her cigarette. "Oh, and keep an eye on Edea Kramer. I think she's starting to notice that something's up..."

Viator nodded, keeping her gaze on the fiery orange sun. When she next looked over, Schuld was gone, the smouldering butt of her cigarette with the black lipstick marks the only thing that proved she'd been there at all. Viator smiled to herself, knowing that she should get back to her duties in the palace, but wanting to watch nature's grandeur a little while longer. However, she stiffened, feeling a presence around her. Viator turned her head, and saw none other than Edea Kramer walking towards her, Edea's elegant head bowed, her long mahogany tresses done in a loose, lovely bun. Viator started to turn her head away, but Edea raised her eyes at that moment, and they made contact.

Viator smiled thinly, nodding in greeting to the famous Sorceress. Edea did the same thin smile, but her eyes were clouded with worry and distance. Viator just smiled wider, watching the sun hover over the future day of Esthar.

Edea sighed, walking along the streets of the city. It was very early, the sun was rising, but she couldn't sleep. Without waking Cid, she'd gotten up, dressed, and left the Palace. The city was quiet, but there were people walking around. She locked her arms around her torso, looking down at her feet as she walked, her mind miles away in Galbadia. She was very, very worried about the elections, even though everyone said that Tevedes didn't have a chance in Hell to win. However, Edea had a feeling that Tevedes Tsepeth was the kind of woman would find a way, no matter how impossible. And, this feeling made her afraid. Made her afraid for the people of Galbadia, afraid for the people of Esthar, afraid for Nida, afraid for herself. She and Cid were already planning an afternoon flight to Deling City in order to make the Fermata concert that night. Squall and Nida didn't know that they had tickets, but when it became a decent hour in Galbadia, Edea would call them.

She was also worried about Rinoa. She still couldn't place the feeling she was getting from her, and this bothered her. She didn't feel anything particularly evil or dark, but there was still an ominous feeling all the same. It felt almost... Otherworldly, like while Rinoa had been in her coma, she had touched another world, crossed some rift, a threshold of sorts. Edea knew that she wouldn't pass on the opportunity to talk to Rinoa at the Opera.

As Edea walked up the walkway, she felt something quiver around her, like she'd touched one strand of a spider's web, and it shook the whole matrix of it. She looked around, but the only person in her sight was a woman in Esthar clothing staring out at the sun. Edea looked over at her, and the woman looked back at Edea. The Sorceress felt a chill pass up and down her spine. With the sun's rays hitting her, the woman looked horribly familiar. She had her hair pulled back in a braid with some black locks woven into it. The way the sun was hitting it, and the way it hit the woman's eyes made Edea think of more tyrannical times in the city of Esthar. The woman smiled thinly, and Edea thought of Adel, crimson eyes boring into her, burning her to cinders on the spot. But, it passed quickly, and the woman may have had orange hair, but her eyes weren't the bubbling pools of blood that were Adel's. Edea smiled thinly, relief pouring over her.

The woman turned back to look at the sun as Edea passed her, wanting to be out of there quickly. The power in the air was very ugly. After ten or fifteen steps, Edea stopped, the dark energy totally vanishing. She turned around, looking back down the street. But, nobody was there. The woman who had been watching the sunrise had vanished, the only evidence that anyone had been there a cigarette butt that was still smoking.

It was dark, but not completely black. It looked like the halls of an old castle, cobblestone, crumbling. Light was moving around, like a chandelier was blowing in some unseen breeze. Even though the surroundings were somewhat cold, it felt warm, but that was more because of the people, the emotions. Trees could be seen, standing still, at attention, outside the windows, silhouetted into shadows.

"I'm just hoping that things will turn out better next time. We need to get stronger. We need her to get stronger."

"It might be too late by then, you realize..."

Zell frowned at Seifer, who was reading a book. "Come on, Seifer... It's never fucking too late. After what happened in Esthar, after what Ultimecia and my mother did to us, it's never too late."

Seifer frowned. "Although things could have been worse, they could have been a lot better. Nothing will be the same again.... And, now...."

Zell waved his hand. "How much shit have we been through, Seifer? Hell, if we could survive all that...."

Seifer laughed, interrupting his lover

"You know what I mean!" Zell exclaimed, stamping his foot. "Well, the things we 'got past' were just as bad. Don't you have faith?"

"No," Seifer answered.

Zell sighed, over dramatically. "You're not helping me raise my mood, Seifer!"

"Don't be such a Drama Queen..." Seifer purred sarcastically. He turned the page in the book he was reading.

"Is that book really more interesting than me?" Zell asked, kneeling in front of the chair that the taller blonde was curled up in. He began to snake his fingers over the top of the book, and Seifer tried to smack them away, but Zell kept doing it.

"Why does this conversation sound familiar?" Seifer wondered, his voice deadpan. "Except that it should be you wolfing down hotdogs, ignoring me until I'm no longer aroused."

Zell looked over the top of the book at Seifer, his hands sneaking up the other man's muscular thighs. "You're always aroused, though..."

"Not when your breath reeks of hot dogs....." Seifer said, but his voice hitched when Zell's hands found his crotch through his pants. "I'm trying to read this, you know..." He sighed when Zell's hand squeezed his fabric covered testicles, causing his cock to twitch.

"Fuck that book..." Zell snatched it out of Seifer's hands, closed it, and put it on the table.

"What, and fuck you instead?" Seifer asked, cocking his head and smiling, looking more beautiful than he ever had before.

"I didn't say that, but if you want to...." Zell trailed off, his icy eyes glinting with mischief. "I'm not wholly opposed to the idea."

Seifer feigned boredom, tilting his face away when Zell leaned in to kiss him. However, his hands moved around Zell's hips, until they were cupping the smaller man's ass. Zell forcibly turned Seifer's head, briefly looking in his eyes, which had become greener as he got older. Zell's ever smiling mouth moved over Seifer's, kissing him tenderly, then with full force, biting and pulling at his lover's mouth. Seifer moved one of his hands up Zell's chest, until it was in the shorter blonde's hair, and he tugged at it as he devoured Zell's mouth, matching the other man's ferocity.

Seifer got out of the chair, half carrying Zell down a hallway to a bedroom. Zell was mostly just using his legs to hold onto Seifer's waist, his hands fumbling with unbuttoning Seifer's black velvet shirt. Seifer plunked Zell down on a large bed, among rumpled sheets of indigo velvet and black satin. Zell blew up into his bangs, which were hanging in his eyes instead of standing up straight. Almost immediately, Seifer pounced on Zell's smaller frame, and began tugging at his clothes, pulling them off rather rapidly. Zell squirmed as Seifer's body completely covered his own, applying pressure and friction over all the planes of his body. Since Seifer was so much taller than Zell, he felt completely, wonderfully smothered by Seifer's body, which was quickly becoming as naked as his own. Zell wrapped his arms around Seifer's hips, and pressed their pelvises together as hard as he could, Seifer's rock-hard erection digging into him, his own hardness pressing into Seifer's hip.

"You're such a little slut..." Seifer murmured teasingly, kissing a trail along Zell's tattoo, then along the scars on the other side of his face, finally biting into Zell's earlobe.

"What does that make you?!" Zell demanded, a silly smile on his cute face.

Seifer just smiled and rolled Zell over. "It makes me want to fuck your ass."

Zell rolled his eyes, moving onto his hands and knees, spreading his legs. "That's the worst line you've ever used..." Zell trailed off as Seifer lubricated his fingers, and slid one into Zell's body. "You sound like.... a.... romance... Oh, fuck...." Zell trailed off, panting, his voice hitched as Seifer's fingers worked over his prostate.

Seifer's fingers moved in and out of Zell's rectum, pushing deep, then shallow, deep, then shallow. When Seifer completely pulled his fingers out, the lubrication made a suction noise. Seifer regarded Zell's stretched anus, and then lubricated his cock, slowly pushing himself into Zell's familiar body, while Zell panted and moaned, pushing his hips back against Seifer's impaling penis.

Static started to seem to fill the room, but didn't affect Seifer and Zell, who were panting together, their bodies moving as one, the way only familiar lovers could move with each other. Images flashed, back to Seifer and Zell making love, to black, then other images that didn't make sense, mingled with static, like watching a burned out old film reel, or a bad television connection. As Seifer and Zell fucked, Zell's face flashed briefly, illuminated by candles and dark lighting talking to a woman with a mischievous smile on her lips, the same sort that Zell always had, her pale brown eyes twinkling, the orange light playing on her fiery orange hair, back to Seifer and Zell fucking, then the orange haired woman smiling again, talking to Zell and laughing, her muscular arms moving, gesticulating her words.

The intervals of black got longer and longer, now only briefly flashing of Zell and Seifer having sex, and then Seifer standing on a hill in a green field somewhere, looking down at things that surrounded him, like a King surveying all he ruled.

In the black, Zell's voice whispered "Do you think we can stop her?"

It showed Seifer and Zell walking, arm in arm in a garden that struck familiar, bright flowers and trimmed hedges all around them.

"I hope so...." Seifer whispered, his voice mingling with the images of Seifer and Zell's nude bodies tangling together, Zell talking to a smiling woman who looked familiar, Seifer standing on the hill, a hooded figure walking up to him, observing all that Seifer was watching, then to black, then to Seifer and Zell again, and then

the ceiling. Squall blinked, rubbing his eyes. He felt Nida's head resting on his chest, his black hair tickling Squall's skin. The scarred SeeD felt tired and heavy, but didn't feel Nida's power around him anymore. Squall had fallen asleep with Nida's Sorcery pushing through his body, even as the afterglow had faded away. He looked down at Nida, whose eyes were moving under his closed lids, as if he were dreaming. Squall stroked Nida's shoulders, wondering if the dream he'd had was actually Nida's dream. He remembered Nida telling him that because he had Iudicium's powers, he would often get flashes of people who had also had the dark power.

Squall furrowed his brow, not feeling really jealous about Nida dreaming about Seifer and Zell. However, he did feel aroused by it, his erection tenting the sheets around his crotch. But, it seemed more like Nida had just happened to walk in on Seifer and Zell having sex, rather than dreaming about them having sex for his own sexual gratification. Squall also didn't understand the other images. However, the familiarity of a few of them somewhat disturbed him, as well as the conversation between Seifer and Zell. Squall thought of the woman with the orange hair that Zell had been talking to. She had the same look of Zell, except more feminine, older, her orange hair so bright... Squall shook his head. She looked like Adel, but it was hard to tell, because Adel had been such a horrible monster. Squall knew that Adel had once been a beautiful woman. So, was Zell talking to the original incarnate of his mother? And, the garden that they'd been walking through... It struck him, like he himself had been there before.

Squall remembered running through hills, a garden making him sleeping, Vividarium waking him up. Was that a Garden in the realm of Xystus? It would make sense, seeing as how Seifer and Zell were both dead, as were Adel, and Lillith, who Squall was sure was the hooded figure that joined Seifer on the hill, looking down at the land around them. Squall turned on his side, so that he was face to face with his sleeping lover. "What did that dream mean?" Squall asked quietly, stroking some of Nida's bangs off his beautiful face. "Who are Seifer and Zell worried about?" Squall frowned, remembering Zell's voice whispering 'Do you think we can stop her?'. "Who is 'her'?" Squall thought of the bad feeling he'd been getting around Rinoa, thought of Seifer and Zell showing up at Diamond Dust, thought of Rinoa passing out in the bathroom. Did they mean Rinoa? She had been in that coma for a long time... Had something happened to her, had she gained some sort of unholy power? Were Seifer and Zell really at Diamond Dust to go after Rinoa, instead of seeing Nida?

Squall sighed, pressing his forehead to Nida's, who moved slightly in his sleep, but didn't wake. "Does this mean that Rinoa is our enemy?" Squall asked, wishing that he could get an answer, even though he knew it wouldn't be that simple.

Rinoa padded through the kitchen, a warm mug of green tea between her hands. Her bare feet squeaked on the floor, and she felt comfortable in a pair of black flannel shorts with little mauve stars on them, and a bright royal blue tank top. She also felt comfortable because she was surrounded by familiar things. She half expected her father to come in, reading the paper and downing his usual morning coffee. But, she knew it wasn't going to happen. Although it was horrible that her father was gone, somehow, she'd known, deep-down, that her father had been dead.

"You know..." Rinoa whispered. "I didn't think I'd ever miss you, Dad..." She sighed, taking a sip of her tea. "But, I guess you're happy now with Mom. I thought you were such an asshole..." She sighed. "I mean, I thought that all you cared about was the army, the Galbadian stronghold, even though it meant the oppression of people like the Timber residents. But, I guess I didn't know as much as I thought..."

Rinoa cocked her head, looking as a figure seemed to appear out of nowhere in front of her. He sat down across from her, and she smiled. "I hope my Dad's okay...." She laughed. "I was only 17. It seems like a million years ago, and I thought I knew everything. But, I didn't. Dad had his responsibilities, he had to follow orders."

"I know..." The man whispered. "But, yeah... He's in a better place, able to rest now."

"After my Mom died, Dad... He kind of vanished.... You know? He wasn't ever as happy as he had been... Maybe that's why we fought so much. He never talked about her, and I thought he was forgetting her, but..."

"He would never forget..." He whispered. "Every time he looked at you, he would see Julia."

"I guess I hurt him a lot, huh?" She laughed. "God, I remember how I must have fucked up that mission so bad in Deling against Edea. He tried to lock me in the house because I wasn't a SeeD. I thought I could help, but only put Squall in danger." She laughed. "I wonder if I'm doing that now...."

He just shook his head.

"Why did I pass out last night?" Rinoa asked suddenly, after a silence had passed between her and the man across from her. "Was it because of you?"

He didn't answer, his greenish eyes thoughtful. "What do you think, Rinoa?"

"I..." She trailed off. " I don't know what to think. I just think that I'm going crazy." She cocked her head, some of her hair coming out of her tortoiseshell butterfly clip. "I mean, you're supposed to be dead... Are you even really here?"

He laughed. "It depends on how you look at it."

"Well, how should I look at it, then?" Rinoa asked.

"Who are you talking to?"

Rinoa whipped her head around. Squall was standing in the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest, wearing a black T-shirt that was way too tight for him, one in fact that Rinoa had told him he should get rid of while they were still dating. He was also wearing black pyjama pants. Rinoa then looked across the counter, where her visitor was still sitting, just watching Squall with interested eyes, his fingers reaching up to touch the scar between his eyes.

"Nobody..." Rinoa whispered, her voice holding a hint of dejection. Squall couldn't see Seifer. Rinoa was indeed going insane. "Myself." She looked at Squall, who was frowning deeply, suspiciously. When she looked back at the stools across from her, Seifer was gone. Maybe she'd just imagined him....

"Nobody?" Squall echoed, thinking of the words from Nida's dream, the dream that Squall himself had eavesdropped on. "Do you think we can stop her?"

"I'm allowed to talk to myself, you know..." She muttered, sipping the last of her tea. "Oh, Cid called. He and Edea are going to be at the Fermata concert, too, and want to meet up with us."

"They got tickets?" Squall asked, pouring some coffee from the silver pot.

"I guess being former Headmaster of Balamb Garden, and a famous Sorceress can pull strings in high society. I'm more nervous about Tevedes Tsepeth being there..."

"Why does that make you nervous?" Squall asked sharply, watching Rinoa's expression intently.

"Why do you ask?" Rinoa asked, getting defensive. She felt Squall's suspicion filling the kitchen. "I'm nervous because she's a scary woman, and hates Sorcerers and Sorceresses. Honestly, I figured you'd be nervous as well, seeing as how you're dating a Sorcerer..." Rinoa sighed deeply. "Sorry... Look, I don't want to fight with you. Can't you just let it go? I'm allowed to talk to myself if I want to."

Squall just nodded, keeping his comments to himself. But, he knew that Rinoa wouldn't fly under his radar. He wouldn't let a repeat of nine months ago happen. Not ever again.

Rinoa clasped her hands in front of her bosom as she looked down at the Opera Hall from their balcony. "Oh, it's been so long... Nothing's changed." Rinoa was dressed in a very elegant gown of warm orange satin. It was cut with a square neckline that showed off some of Rinoa's cleavage, her breasts slightly spilling over the neckline when she breathed. The dress was held up by straps that were made of orange ribbon, tying in small bows at her shoulders, the tails streaming down her arms. Over the orange gown was a layer of translucent white chiffon, which gave an angelic impression. Her hair was swept up elegantly, and she was wearing a small, dainty tiara with diamonds and topazes. She was also wearing an elegant topaz pendant, small, yet pretty, that had belonged to Julia Heartilly.

"It's like Christmas for you..." Nida murmured, looking over the crowd. He was wearing a long velvet coat with black satin lapels, the velvet beginning as a bright crimson, and bleeding all the way down to black at the hem that swung around his ankles, the fabric a perfect darkening gradient. He was also wearing black pants with a satin line up the outer leg on each side. His shirt was dark, dark blood red satin, and Rinoa couldn't help but ogle Nida, who looked rather beautiful. More than rather beautiful. And, Squall caught Rinoa glancing, and stood very close to Nida, touching him in a way that sent angry signals to Rinoa. Rinoa was also looking at Squall, because his outfit was also very nice. He was wearing a high-necked black coat that looked like a classic vicar's outfit. He wore no shirt under it, but that couldn't really be seen because of the high collar of the coat. Squall had actually put on a small, elegant strand of pearls, that was a choker around his pale throat. His pants were black under the coat, but could only be seen when he moved. Squall also wore a long scarf that was shimmering gold, and was slung around his neck, falling to the middle of his thighs.

Rinoa just rolled her eyes at Squall, and looked all around her. "There are a lot of people here... I wonder where Shaami is." She looked towards the press area, and saw Shaami, wearing a nice emerald green gown. Shaami turned around, and waved at Rinoa, her diamond tennis bracelet shining in the light. "I think that Edea is in the next balcony, but I don't see her...."

"Try looking behind you," A husky female voice teased.

Rinoa gasped, surprised, and turned around. Edea was behind her, smiling prettily. Cid was shaking Squall and Nida's hands. Edea looked breathtakingly beautiful in a ball-gown of pure onyx, a corseted bodice of black velvet with vinyl accenting accentuating her curvaceous, mature figure. Her breasts looked like they were on the verge of popping out of her gown, but without looking slutty. The corset was strapless, and the skirt flowed out from the restraints of it, flowing all around Edea in many layers of black chiffon, tinted with indigo, making her look like a dark princess. She also wore black vinyl gloves, which had a few wispy feathers sewn into their hem, which was up around Edea's armpits. Her dark hair was put back in a tight bun, and held with black chopsticks gilded in gold. An expensive looking onyx and platinum choker hung at her throat.

"Oh, Edea!" Rinoa exclaimed. "You look so beautiful!"

"As do you!" Edea squeezed Rinoa's hands. "All of you look lovely."

"It's good to see you enjoying yourself again, Rinoa," Cid offered, kissing her hand. He was wearing a very nice classic tuxedo, but wore a silver tie rather than the typical bowtie. "You look lovely."

Rinoa blushed. "Oh, thank you!" She waved her hand. "We should probably get to our seats...." They all stepped out of their balcony to see Edea and Cid to their balcony, and they all stopped when they saw a party coming towards them. In fact, it was Tevedes with her entourage of women. But, Archbishop Magdalene was also with them. The Archbishop smiled widely at Squall, Nida, Rinoa, Edea and Cid, her typical white robes worn loosely around a simple white gown of silk. Her jewellery consisted of her rosary, and expensive looking white pearls.

"Ah.... What have we here..." Tevedes trailed off, her smile far colder than the Archbishop. Her clothes were pure black and white. She wore a man's suit, but it was tailored to her female form. Her pants were dark as night, tucked into polished black leather boots. She wore a white dinner jacket, but it was one that had no shirt under it, and showed her cleavage, the only thing that really hinted at her femininity. The white coat had silver buttons with lion heads on them, their mouths opening in a silent roar. She wasn't wearing her hat, and her pale, pale blonde hair was swept back into a twist that flattered her harsh face. She only wore the tiniest hint of lip gloss and no jewellery, her white eyes looking over the others. "Don't you all look nice."

Edea frowned. "General Tsepeth.... If you'd excuse us..." She took Cid's arm and went to their balcony.

"Archbishop Magdalene..." Rinoa greeted, bowing slightly.

"Miss Heartilly! It's terrible about your father... I know that my predecessor was close with him, and I'd hoped to be the same..." Her dark eyes twinkled, but had an air of coldness to them.

"Hello, again!" Val greeted, looking happy as she smiled at Squall and Nida, not really hiding that she was checking them out. She was wearing a black silk gown that had a complex criss-crossing tie pattern over the bodice, looking like it would have taken an hour to loop all the laces through the eyelets in the corset. They again noticed the piercings in her arms, which she seemed unashamed of. The other woman, the Chinese one, had the same piercings through her arms. "You all look so nice!" Val exclaimed, clapping her hands. Her auburn hair was loose around her shoulders, but held off her face by clips with diamonds encrusted on them.

"Indeed..." The Chinese woman said, looking at them from over the rims of her fans. She was wearing a sleeveless kimono in jade green with a pattern of small gold flowers on it. The Obi was a much darker green, but had the same gold pattern on it. Her hair was done in a traditional ancient Chinese design, like a fan behind her.

"Oh, Tempest, you could be more enthusiastic!" Val exclaimed.

The other two women remained silent. They remembered both of them from their meeting at the Airstation in Deling. The one that looked like Quistis was wearing a black suit, but one which had a hobble skirt, in the same black fabric with robin's egg blue pinstripes. The jacket was a classic length, buttoned once with shimmering diamond buttons. Underneath, she was wearing an aqua coloured silk shirt, which poked out from under the coat. Her jewellery was also all Aquamarines, glimmering delicately. Her gaze was no-nonsense, and she just remained silent, looking at the watch that hung from her neck. The other girl seemed to be hiding behind the other women, wearing all black, her hair brushed over one side of her face. Her clothes were actually darker than the black of Tevedes, which seemed like a void already. The girl's mouth was painted a deep, deep black, her dress a long sleeved black dress, creped bell sleeves covering her hands. The bodice seemed to be made of black feathers, ones that looked real, raven. The feathers continued down over her hips, and seemed to be strategically sewn into the creped broomstick skirt, to give the impression of them falling, moulting off the bodice. She was wearing many strands of black pearls, which shimmered in the lights, which blinked a few times to signal that the concert was about to start. The woman in black watched Squall, Nida and Rinoa closely, but shyly.

"Well, the concert is beginning!" Magdalene said. "Miss Heartilly, a pleasure to meet you." She nodded, and went with Tevedes and the other women, disappearing around the corner. But, before they did, Tevedes turned around, giving them a cold, cold smile before vanishing.

"Why is the Archbishop sitting with Tevedes?" Nida asked as they sat down.

"I hope that it doesn't mean anything..." Rinoa mused, looking down at the stage as a woman stepped out. She recognized Fermata from the pictures in the liner notes of the CD, Stitch In Time. She was tall, willowy, and elegant, and the pictures didn't do her justice. Her hair was pulled off her face by a jewelled headband, and her gown was dark red. Rinoa immediately thought of her mother, because with Fermata standing there, illuminating in spotlight, she looked very much like Julia. Fermata began to sing a song that they all recognized as 'Trabian Snow', and the room fell silent.

Fermata's voice seemed to cut the air, time, space, souls, hearts. It was beautiful, and made them all want to cry, filled with the beauty of her words, which they couldn't understand. Rinoa felt tears well up in her eyes, just from the feeling of Fermata's voice filling her. It made her think of her mother, and as she looked down at Fermata, singing confidently on the stage, she swore that she was actually looking at Julia. It made Rinoa want to cry, her heart breaking in her chest, and the vision of Fermata/Julia singing became blurred with tears.

Squall was also thinking of his mother, Fermata's voice seeming to bring up memories that he'd wished he had. They were more visualizations of stories that Laguna had told him about Raine, and it made Squall feel sad, lonely. He found that his hand was subconsciously reaching for Nida's as the song changed to one called 'Airborne'. He pulled his hand away slightly when he felt Sorcery on Nida's skin, as if it burned him. But, he touched Nida's hand again, and his lover squeezed back, and Squall just wanted to weep, his heart aching for his mother. He looked across the crowd, and saw that most people were crying. Fermata looked across the crowd as she sang, winking at the occasional person, as if she were singing directly to them.

When her gaze went to Nida, a smile spread over her face, the mole above her lip crinkling with the motion of the smile. Nida felt Iudicium stirring within him, and it scared him. Something felt wrong. He looked over to Edea, who looked like she was actually crying. His gaze then moved over to the balcony where Tevedes was sitting. Tevedes and Magdalene were leaned together, whispering to each other. They didn't seem affected by the song. Tevedes sensed that she was being watched, and looked over. When her gaze caught Nida's as Fermata began another song, Tevedes smiled coldly, looking more like she was sneering. She and Nida stared at each other endlessly, and Nida felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise, in the same sort of manner they had at Diamond Dust the previous evening. It was almost like Tevedes was building power, challenging Nida's own. But, Tevedes wasn't a Sorceress. However, something was making Nida feel very ill at ease.

Suddenly, his gaze broke from Tevedes's unblinking, colourless gaze when there was a scream from the crowd. They all looked down to see that someone in the front end of the crowd, stabbing a dagger into the chest of the woman sitting beside him. He kept stabbing, pushing the blade into her chest again and again. She was already dead, but he was still doing in, angry cries coming out of his mouth, tears pouring down his face. Someone tried to get the knife out of his hands, but he slashed out, slitting the man's throat. He turned to another screaming woman, and started slicing her up.

Nida stood, the cries deafening in the theatre. Fermata stopped singing, her dark eyes wide as she looked around. But, she stood her ground, not running away. Nida noticed her arms flashing, the silver bangles that she wore catching the light. Squall and Rinoa also stood. Rinoa's hands fluttered to her lips in shock. Nida's gaze travelled to Tevedes, who had also risen out of her chair. Her entourage looked at each other, and Tevedes quickly left the box. Nida closed his eyes, preparing to use his magic to stop the attack, but more screams echoed in the crowd. His dark eyes snapped open, and more people were attacking the patrons around them.

Squall kicked himself for not bringing a weapon of any kind, but completely froze when she saw Tevedes go into the crowd, pulling out a riding crop from under her coat. She approached the first man, and began hitting him with her fists and the crop. Nida closed his eyes, and concentrated on the man that Tevedes wasn't attacking. It felt kind of wrong to be helping Tevedes Tsepeth, but it was necessary. He sent his power through the room, and felt it mingle with more familiar power, that of Edea. When he opened his eyes, the people were fallen asleep, some of them coated and splattered with blood. However, a few of them seemed to be freaking out still, but Tevedes seemed to have them in check.

Squall leaned over the balcony railing, Rinoa at his side, and they both watched General Tsepeth intently. They'd never seen her fight before, and it was rather a sight to see. Although she was outnumbered by men who were larger than her, she was holding her own, using quick movements that looked like they had a professional martial artist's touch to them. She used her long legs to kick out, and mercilessly used the riding crop in tune with her fists. Her pure white coat was stained with splatters of blood, and it was the only colour on her, standing out so garish, so red. She sent a nasty kick to one of their faces, and his head snapped back, rather unhealthily, and she kicked him again, and there was a loud crack. His neck had snapped, broken. When she punched the second man, blood sprayed out of his nose, and onto the side of her set, pale face.

Finally, the assailants fell at the hands of Tevedes, which proved to be efficient and cruel. Everyone in the theatre had their eyes on Tevedes, including Fermata, who looked strangely poised and calm, looking down at Tevedes with an even gaze, as if she'd seen it all before. The whole atmosphere in the room sent shivers down Nida's spine, and he withdrew his power, feeling something ugly in the air. Tevedes looked up at Nida, their gazes meeting. He felt like Tevedes wasn't looking at him, but looking at the power within him. Hot anger came into her eyes, but also mingled with sereneness that didn't really suit her harsh features. Fermata also looked up at Nida with that same knowing look in her eyes, and she smirked, her dress as red as the blood that was splattered over Tevedes. Nida couldn't help but feel that there was so much more going on than what he could see. There was energy in the air that felt very awful, very dark.

Tevedes smiled, breathing out. Somehow, Nida could hear it in the silent theatre, stunned into an absolute lack of noise, as if it were breathed right into his ear. Nobody moved or made a sound as Tevedes and Fermata stared up at Nida, Squall and Rinoa, and time stood still until the police sirens wailed.

Return to Archive | next | previous