Stitch In Time

Chapter Thirteen

By Scarlet Fever

Fujin sighed, her one garnet eye casting over to Raijin, who looked as weary as she felt. The Soldiers that she, the Commander of this group, and Raijin, the Captain, were to Instruct were leaving the Garden now to invade Balamb, on Edea and Seifer's orders, of course. Fujin herself took no pride in her new title, and she knew her burly companion felt the same way.

"You’re thinking the same thing I am, aren’t ya?" Raijin asked quietly. This was really the first time that they had been alone since they had found Seifer, or what was left of Seifer.

She nodded. "TIRED."

"I know. Look, do ya think that this is such a good idea?"

Fujin just shrugged, not responding. Their orders were to find some woman named Ellone. Had she been at Balamb Garden? Whatever the case, this new Seifer and the Sorceress Edea wanted to find her. To Fujin, Edea seemed as trapped in her situation as Seifer did. The cyclopsed woman actually felt sorry for the Sorceress. She seemed like she was being torn apart. Seifer wasn’t the same as he had been. He wasn’t the same misanthropistic, snide, funny and yet caring man he had been. Seifer had always felt all his emotions so passionately, so completely, going through it all with a wicked sense of humour and underlying softness that he tried not to show, but always seemed to glimmer through, and now, he didn’t seem to feel anything except hatred that didn’t seem to be his own.

"The people of Balamb didn’t do anything," Raijin mused softly. "Is Ellone really this important?"

"ORDERS," she replied.

The dark haired man nodded. "Even so… we don’t have to listen to Edea. We should smack some sense into Seifer, ya know?!"

"I know, Raijin, I know…." Fujin wanted to take her companion’s advice so badly. She wanted to take the advice she had given to Zell. She didn’t want to give up on Seifer, but the whole situation seemed so daunting. Even Fujin felt a ghostly presence around her, one that was dark, sickening. It was more that Edea herself. Someone more elusive, deadly.

You have your orders, little ones. Seifer's not your koncern.

Raijin looked down at the lithe woman beside him. "Did you say something?"

Fujin raised an elegant eyebrow. "You heard it, too?" She then felt like the wind was being knocked out of her as something seemed to invade her body.

"Fujin?! Are you okay?" Raijin asked, but let his question die in the air as he felt something deep within him. He slumped against the nearest wall.

Both of them felt disoriented, invaded. A million voices seemed to be screaming in their minds, ripping apart their conscious thoughts. A cackling of broken glass rang in their eardrums, ripping into their brains. Fujin slammed her good eye shut, trying to block it all out. She felt like the essence of herself was being stolen. All that was left was the broken glass laughter…

Don’t kross me, little ones. Now, find Ellone for me, and kwickly.

Fujin snapped her eye open, looking at her much taller companion. "Ready?"

Raijin gave her a half-smirk, sinister and knowing, a look that had never really passed across his dark features before. "Let’s go. We have to find Ellone, even if we have to raze Balamb to do it."

Fujin nodded. "AFFIRMATIVE."

The sun was setting over the horizon, disappearing over the roofs of the houses in Balamb. The streets were surprisingly empty for this time of year. Zell was looking down at the streets, watching the Soldiers going by. They were in his room in Balamb, for the hotel was full. Why was the Army doing this? The people of Balamb didn’t do anything…. They weren’t involved at all… Zell sighed, slumping down on his bed. Rinoa looked up at him from her position on the floor.

"Are you okay?"

Zell looked at her. "Look, are you sure you won’t take the bed? I feel bad…."

Rinoa sighed. "The floor is fine. I don’t want you to feel you have to give me the bed because I’m a girl. It’s your room."

Zell nodded reluctantly. Squall had decided to sleep downstairs in case something happened. Zell didn’t really like the idea of not having his room to himself, but they were stuck. He actually didn’t like the idea of being in his room at all. As soon as he had stepped in the room, he had been bombarded by residual images of his night with Seifer. This was the first time he had been back in his room after he and Seifer had had sex, and Zell actually thought he could still smell Seifer's presence in the room.

"Zell?" Rinoa asked. "Are you sure you’re okay?"

He tried to smile at her. "Yeah, I’m sure. Look, we should probably get some rest, okay?"

Rinoa nodded, curling up on the air mattress and multitude of blankets Zell had lain out for her. She knew that Zell wasn’t fine. He was obviously worried about his mother and the people of Balamb. After all, he had grown up there.


"Mmm?" He murmured from under his covers.

"Do you think Seifer was the one who ordered the attack?"

Zell sighed. "Probably. Why are they doing this? What purpose is taking Ellone going to accomplish? Why is she making Seifer do this…?"

"You think that Seifer's just being controlled, too, right?"

Zell remained silent. Rinoa realized that the small blonde probably didn’t want to talk about Seifer, and decided to get some sleep.

Zell actually didn’t want to talk about Seifer. After he had realized that he was in love with the scarred man, it hurt to think about him and know that he wouldn’t be able to see Seifer's face. He felt a little happier, liberated, but the loneliness was staggering. Every moment that he was awake, he could feel the ghostly emptiness, gnawing at his heart. He wanted to see Seifer so badly, to throw himself in the other man’s arms, but when he thought about it, he knew that it probably wouldn’t happen that way, for he was only existing for Edea’s designs now. Maybe Fujin had found him…. Zell actually found he had a high amount of respect for the silver haired woman now. She had shown him another side to her, and it made her seem like more than just Seifer's lackey. Zell yawned, feeling very tired. He closed his eyes, letting a thin veil of rest come over him.

He didn’t know where he was, and for a second, Zell wondered where he was. He looked around. Everything was pretty dark. He had expected himself to be back in his bed in Balamb, a bed that had never felt so empty, but he was in a place he had never been before. He could make out a dome like shape, and that he was surrounded by many chairs. He was in an amphitheater of some sort. There were no bodies occupying the chairs, and he was alone. He could practically feel the echo of his breathing. He felt sort of exposed, but he wasn’t really afraid. He remained on guard, though. For a few moments, he was totally alone, and he began to get bored.

What’s going on? He asked himself, not wanting to talk aloud. He leaned against one of the metal bars that acted as a banister for the long stairs heading out of the empty bowl. Zell was about to walk off in a huff of frustration when he saw someone standing across the amphitheater from him. In an instant, he knew it was Seifer, his pale gray coat standing out against the dark.

"What are you doing here?" Zell asked. "Where is here?"

Seifer tilted his head, pushing off from the stage he was leaning against. He slowly walked towards Zell, his usual saunter out in full force. There was a light coming from somewhere, and it seemed to hit Seifer with all the right angles, making him look breathtaking. Zell didn’t think it had anything to do with the light at all. The white light hit his gold hair, making him look like a wonderful angel.

"How long have you been here?" Zell asked, tilting his neck up in order to meet Seifer's eyes.

"About as long as you have," Seifer answered softly, leaning his back against the banister. "What are you doing here?"

"Hey, I just asked that!"

Seifer smiled. Was Zell the only person Seifer smiled for?

"I missed you."

Seifer raised an elegant eyebrow. "You missed me?"

The tattooed blonde tilted his head. "You don’t believe me?" He opened his mouth to say what he truly felt in his heart, but stopped, embarrassed. What if he was being too presumptuous?

"What were you going to say?"


Seifer reached a gloved hand out, gently stroking Zell’s tattooed cheek. "Don’t be like that. Tell me."

Zell smiled, nuzzling his cheek against the back on Seifer's hand. "Kiss me."

Seifer looked at him, surprised. "You want me to?"

Zell stepped forward until he was directly against Seifer's body. "Yes, dammit. Kiss me. Please."

Seifer planted his hands on either side of Zell’s jaw, tilting his face upward. He breathed over Zell’s eagerly parted lips, which caused the shorter man to shiver. Seifer hovered his mouth just above Zell’s, teasing both of them as he breathed into the other’s mouth. Zell groaned in anger and frustration, nipping at Seifer's mouth, catching his lower lip between his teeth, kissing him fiercely. Zell’s enthusiasm seemed to catch Seifer off guard, for his body went slightly slack against Zell’s. Zell was the first to break the kiss.

"That was nice," Seifer murmured, smirking at Zell.

Zell bit his lip. "I love you," he blurted out.

Seifer looked at him for a few silent moments, which made Zell regret saying anything. He had assumed too much. Zell felt a hot flush cross his face, and he looked down at his feet.

"Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have just blurted that out. I always say things without thinking it through…."


"But it felt like the right thing to say…. I should have thought first…"

"Zell," Seifer repeated, gently gripping the wrists of the babbling man. "Zell, Zell!"

Zell finally looked up. He was expecting Seifer to be looking at him crossly, but his eyes were dancing brightly. "I’m glad you said it." He didn’t let Zell reply, as he captured the other’s lips again, this time in a gentle whisper of a kiss. Zell sighed, never having felt anything so wonderful in his entire life. If there were a heaven, it would have to involve endlessly kissing Seifer. Seifer's mouth was warm and soft, and his lips tasted sweet, like a mixture of honey and desire. Seifer opened his mouth against Zell’s, slowly moving his tongue between Zell’s lips. Zell exhaled with utter pleasure, eagerly opening his mouth wider, urging Seifer to continue, to do more. While their tongues intertwined, Zell’s hands began to roam over Seifer's chest, pulling the zipper of Seifer's vest down slightly so he could slide his shaking hands under the material, caressing Seifer's bare chest.

Seifer sighed, his breath cool against Zell’s lips. When Zell’s fingers reached Seifer's nipples, the taller blonde shivered with delight. Zell broke the kiss momentarily to smile at the scarred blonde. He bit his lower lip as he studied Seifer's face while his hands continued to move between fabric and flesh. He was so beautiful, and the fact that Seifer wanted him made Zell feel lightheaded. He suddenly felt like he was frozen, his own emotions debilitating him.

"What?" Seifer asked, concern filling his sky blue eyes.

Zell tried to answer, but found that his voice failed him. Seifer smiled gently at the smaller man, pulling him into a tight embrace. Zell sighed happily as he felt himself being lifted off the ground, his back pressed against a wall. When he opened his eyes, he was staring directly into Seifer's.

"I meant what I said…." Zell trailed off, winding his legs around Seifer's waist. "I do love you. I never thought I would say that to you of all people, but I feel it. I love you."

Seifer smiled again, capturing Zell’s mouth. His body crushed against Zell’s pinning him between the hard wall and Seifer's warm body. Zell groaned as Seifer's palms ran over the outer surface of his thighs, coming to rest just below the curve of his ass. Seifer broke the kiss, placing Zell on the ground again. The tattooed blonde shivered as he felt Seifer's breath over his kiss-bruised mouth. Seifer whispered something. Zell couldn’t really hear it, but it sounded like "I love you."

"What?" Zell asked, wanting to hear Seifer say those words clearly, loudly. He sighed as Seifer kissed him again.

Suddenly, Seifer's body seemed to stiffen under Zell’s hands, and his mouth felt hard against Zell’s own. Zell felt a cool breeze pass over him, which made him shiver. He pulled himself closer to Seifer, chasing the cold away with Seifer's body heat. Seifer then craned his neck away, as if someone was behind him. Zell nipped at Seifer's jaw, kissing a slow, hot trail down the side of Seifer's graceful neck.


Zell shivered, hearing his lover’s name like a winter wind all around him. He pressed his temple to Seifer's collarbone, wanting to be as close to him as possible.

Kome to me, my Knight…

Zell made a protesting noise as Seifer turned around. Behind him stood a statuesque woman, her pale flesh glowing against the dark background. She had long silver hair, which swung around her body like silky snakes. She was wearing an impressive looking gown, with a neckline that plunged down to her navel. She was actually very beautiful in a dark way, the dark markings on her pale face looking like strange serpents, crawling tattoos, like his own. Zell gasped as he saw black angel wings standing on her back. Just like the woman Seifer had drawn. It was the woman Seifer had drawn. Zell looked into her glowing amber eyes, like sulfuric acid in her eye sockets. He felt like a grain of sand being sucked through her hourglass. Zell frowned, looking away from her as Seifer pulled away from Zell’s embrace. He sauntered over to the winged woman, roughly shoving Zell out of the way. Zell made a move to grab at Seifer's wrist, but found that he was locked in place.

Seifer completely turned his back on Zell, kneeling in front of the pale woman, kissing her skeletal hand. The amber-eyed woman stared at Zell triumphantly, and he felt a horrid chill pass through his body. Time and space seemed to stop, controlled solely within her burning eyes. The environment then seemed to swirl around her, engulfing both her and Zell’s lover in misty blackness. The last thing Zell could hear, ringing out of the dark, was her horrible laughter, mingled with the wrathful cackles of Seifer.

"Seifer….?" Zell whispered, still trapped like a deer in headlights, unable to move as he was engulfed in thick darkness….

Rinoa brushed her bangs off her forehead. For some reason, she couldn’t sleep. The air mattress that Zell had lain out for her was comfortable, and she felt safe, but her mind wouldn’t stop working. Her thoughts dwelled in so many places at once. She was primarily worried about Galbadia’s occupation of Balamb, and the looming threat that the Army posed. She was also wondering if Seifer was around somewhere, if he was orchestrating this assault at Edea’s will. Rinoa knew by personal experience that Edea could be persuasive, and she wondered if Seifer had fallen to the same fate. She sighed, remembering the helpless feeling of being trapped in her own body as Edea controlled her. Was it the same for Seifer?

She sighed, rolling over so that she was facing Zell’s bed. Rinoa also found herself thinking about Squall. He was such and enigma, such a puzzle. Rinoa was totally intrigued with him. First of all, he was very attractive, almost beautiful. Rinoa would have been blind not to notice it. However, he was such a jerk! Was he really a pompous ass, or was he just using that cold shell as a defense? Rinoa thought so, for Squall hadn’t been able to hide all his warm emotions. Some had slipped through the icy cracks in his exterior. Squall’s behavior actually reminded Rinoa of Seifer. Squall would probably hate to hear that little comparison, but it was true. Both of them hid behind walls of defensive anger or aloofness, hiding their true selves, afraid to be hurt, to be exposed as actual feeling, caring human beings.

Why do I always choose the difficult ones? Rinoa mentally asked of herself. Seifer had been a total lost cause for reasons that went far beyond his mask of cold arrogance, and Squall was no different. As she thought about Squall, she felt a wave of warmth pass over her body, images of the stoic, auburn-haired man popping into her mind. Did she have a crush on Squall? Battle had created unusual circumstances, and Rinoa felt very close to him. She looked up at the bed. The reason that her relationship was Seifer was never meant to be was tossing slightly in his sleep. Rinoa sat up, watching Zell.

He must be having a nightmare…. Rinoa studied the look on his face. Zell looked frightened, confused and hurt. It was only natural for some of the horrible things that they had gone through recently to appear in dreams or flashbacks. Zell was probably suffering more than he let on. He always put on a cheery face to boost the spirits of his teammates, but Rinoa could tell that the whole situation was tearing him apart, and for reasons that she had to keep to herself. It was hard for Rinoa herself to know that they were going against Seifer, but it was probably more difficult for Zell, because he was probably so confused about Seifer's feelings, and his own.

Rinoa tilted her head as Zell sighed in his sleep. It was a mournful, heart-wrenching shunting of air that made Rinoa bite her lip. She moved her hand to touch Zell, to shake him out of his nightmare, but stopped all motion when she heard a single word escape his lips.


"Hey, it’s Raijin! Come on!" Squall cried, heading in the direction that the burly man had run.

Zell frowned. So, Raijin was the Captain, the one that they had been looking for all day. I guess Fujin had been right about finding Seifer. Fujin, the Commander, and Raijin, the Captain. Was Edea controlling them, just like she was controlling Seifer? Zell also now wondered if there was something bigger behind all this, if there was a master puppeteer controlling all of them like marionettes. He kept thinking of the dark-winged woman in his dream, who had snatched Seifer from Zell’s arms. Zell knew that it was only a dream, but something about it left a very bitter taste in his mouth.

The blonde looked up as Raijin ran towards the Hotel. He could run fast, which was surprising for his size. He suddenly became very angry. How dare Raijin and Fujin come here and terrorize his mother, his friends, how could they do this? The only thought now in Zell’s head was to make them leave. They ran to the front of the seaside Hotel, but were stopped by a couple of guards, who looked nervous.

"Hey, you!" One of them called. "Stand back! This could be dangerous…."

The second one looked around. "The Commander’s about to…."

They were all interrupted as Raijin came flying out the door, obviously thrown out of the Hotel. Zell knew that it was Fujin, and for a moment, was impressed with the amount of strength it must have taken to manhandle Raijin, for the dark-haired man was bigger than even Seifer.

Raijin howled in pain, standing up. "Yeowch! Owwww…. F-Fujin, control your temper, ya know?! I was patrolling, just like ya told me… I even woke up that search dog, sleeping on the job, ya know?!" The darkly attractive man turned to the guards who were standing idly back. "You guys help me out here. We’ve gotta calm Fujin down, ya know?!"

"Raijin!!" Zell yelled, his voice low with anger. Rinoa, Squall and Raijin all turned to the smaller man, surprised. They all knew that Zell had a temper, but he sounded very angry. It reminded them of Seifer. Zell was glaring at the much larger Raijin, his pale eyes practically glowing with rage.

"Woooow, what are you guys doin’ here?" Raijin asked, raising his pierced eyebrow.

"We’re here to liberate Balamb, ya know?!…." Zell trailed off, realizing he had sounded like Raijin. "I mean, uh, we’re here to liberate Balamb."

Raijin smirked. "Seifer told us to give ya a whopping if we saw you, ya know?!" He motioned with one thickly muscled arm to the guards lurking behind him. "You guys help me out, too."

Raijin laughed as Squall, Zell, and a dark haired girl advanced on him. She fired her projectile weapon at him, cutting his arm. Raijin stared down at it. "I don’t hit girls," He informed, taking a swing at Squall with his long club. As they fought, Raijin racked his brain, trying to figure out where he had seen that girl before. It was driving him crazy, partially distracting him from the fight.

"You’ll pay for this, Raijin!" Zell growled low in his throat, punching Raijin’s hard chest with force.

Rinoa frowned, casting Poison on the towering opponent. She had only met Raijin a couple of times, and he had grown considerably since then, mostly in muscle mass. He was probably a little older than Seifer, maybe not even a year. His complexion was very dark and exotic looking, and he had powerful, angular features. His eyes were like shining onyx, as black as his hair, and he was actually very attractive, once you looked past the fearsome aura he had, and his slightly dense personality. Rinoa actually felt sorry for him, knowing that he was probably being controlled by Edea, along with Fujin. How many lives did the Sorceress have to destroy before she was happy?

After more battle, after the guards had long since been defeated, Raijin moaned, kneeling to the pain that had been inflicted upon him. For a moment, he wondered what the point was. What had the residents of Balamb done? Nothing. Why was Seifer making him do this? Why had Seifer given himself up so readily to Edea? One last furious punch from Zell made Raijin unable to fight anymore. "Ugh, ya got me, ya know?!"

Zell smirked down at the fallen Raijin. "Oh, yeah. The Commander’s gonna get her ass kicked, too!" Zell didn’t feel bad about picking on Fujin, a woman, because he knew that if it were just him against her, she would probably kick his ass royally. For a moment, Zell regretted having to fight the woman who had shown him nothing but compassion only a few days ago. He pushed it out of his mind. If Fujin wanted to become a faceless Soldier of the Sorceress, then she was their enemy, just like Seifer was. He felt a small wave of panic rush through him. What if Seifer was in the Hotel? Would they fight against him? What if Squall killed Seifer, and Zell had to watch? Despite everything, if Zell had to see Seifer in pain, he knew he would fall apart. He pushed all of it away, and followed Squall and Rinoa into the Hotel.

"So, I guess you’re the Commander!" Zell muttered, glaring at Fujin, who was glaring back, an alien emptiness in her one crimson eye. "Pack your bags, and get the fuck out of Balamb!"

Fujin raised her eyebrows in surprise. "… RAIJIN, DEFEATED….?" She was very surprised that they had gotten past her counterpart. Damn him. Edea was going to tear it out of them, all because fucking Raijin couldn’t do what he was told.

"That’s right, baby. Now, where’s Seifer and the Sorceress?! You’re all goin’ down…." He gave Fujin a wry smile at his choice of words. Even though they were now enemies, he still felt a residual connection with her.

"Zell, calm down," Squall informed. "Fujin, looks like you’re on your own. Are you still willing to fight?"

Fujin stopped smirking back at Zell, knowing all too well what the blonde had meant, and turned to Squall. The fact that he was taking pity on her made Fujin angry. She knew it was because she was a woman, and her ‘male protector’ had already been defeated. Her crimson eye glowed like deep red fire, shooting through Squall. "RAGE!"

"Bwa ha ha!! She’s not alone!"

"Who’s there?" Zell asked, for a brief moment hoping it was Seifer. He turned to see Raijin bound into the Hotel lobby. Zell raised his eyebrows in surprise.

"Major comeback, ya know?! Actually, I feel a lot better, ya know?!" Raijin declared, grinning widely at the opposing trio. "I feel invincible, ya know?!" He looked over at Fujin, who glared at him. He nodded apologetically at her.

"How the fuck?! I thought we defeated you….?" Zell muttered, getting ready to fight again as Fujin and Raijin attacked them.

"Time to get serious, ya know?!" Raijin taunted. Actually, there was a buried fear gnawing at him. What would Edea, Seifer do to them if they failed here? He normally wouldn’t have worried about Seifer hurting them, but now, Seifer seemed different, not himself.

Hmmm, Pandemonium, eh? Zell muttered to himself. I’ll take that off your hands, my dear…. Zell immediately claimed the GF that Fujin had junctioned. Squall immediately followed by casting Shiva, and Rinoa cast Poison. Zell noticed that Fujin was acting as the primary healer, and concentrated all his attacks on her.

Fujin moaned, cursing low in her throat. "I… WITHDRAW. RAIJIN, GO."

Raijin nodded, a wave of worry passing over him. What if Fujin was actually hurt? He knew that she didn’t need his protection, but he still wanted to offer it. He continued to fight against his former classmates, his regret rising with every exchanged blow. He was letting himself be manipulated, wasn’t he? When had his thought process begun to become so muddled? He cried out as Squall hit him with a hefty shot. "Ouch! Not bad, ya know… Fujin, I lost, too, ya know…."

Squall stopped the battle, turning to face both of them. "Are you two taking orders from the Sorceress?"

"NEGATIVE," Fujin answered truthfully. They may have been under her command, part of the Galbadian Army, which she controlled, but they only took orders from Seifer, who may as well have been the Sorceress.

"The Sorceress has nothing to do with us, ya know?!" Raijin answered. "We’re acting on our own!" Raijin thought that he and Fujin were doing what they wanted, what was in their free will to do, but was that how it was? By following Seifer, were they in fact following the Sorceress’s plans, easily falling into her trap?

"Own plan?" Squall asked, confused.

"We’re on Seifer's side, ya know?!" Raijin cried. That was the total truth. They would always be on Seifer's side, no matter what he had done, what he had become. They were all that the tall blonde had, and Fujin and Raijin sure as hell weren’t going to abandon him.

"…That’s up to you, but…." Squall trailed off, deciding to stay on topic. "Enough is enough. This isn’t an internal Garden conflict!"

"We can’t back out, ya know…." Raijin stated, his voice becoming quieter. He gave Squall a sincere look.

"NEGATIVE," Fujin echoed, giving Zell a sad look, her crimson eye looking watery, like blood.

Raijin sighed. "Seifer has a lot of followers, but we’re his only friends… We’re a posse, ya know….?!" Raijin sighed. "The Galbadian Soldiers are only listening to Seifer because the Sorceress scares the shit out of them." Raijin knew that that was partly true for him and Fujin as well. They were afraid of Edea, afraid of what she might do to them, to Seifer, if they disobeyed. "Without us, Seifer wouldn’t have a posse, ya know…."

Zell felt touched by what Raijin had said, and in that moment, realized how lonely Seifer must have been, and not just recently. Fujin and Raijin were his only friends, and that seemed so sad. He wanted to find Seifer and tell him he wouldn’t have to be lonely again, that Zell would always be there. "If you guys stand behind him that much…. Tell fucking Seifer to stop this nonsense!" Zell’s voice softened as he uttered his love’s name.

"AFFIRMATIVE." Fujin’s voice softened as well, and she gave Zell a sad smile.

Raijin slightly raised his eyebrows, noticing the change in the inflection of Zell’s voice when he said Seifer's name. He bit his lip, turning back to Squall. "We aren’t sell-outs. We’re behind Seifer all the way, ya know?!"

Squall nodded, impressed with the duo’s loyalty to their friend. "Okay, understood. So, you want nothing to do with Garden now?" Squall tilted his head. "…From now on, we’re not going to hold back." I guess that’s how it goes. That’s what comrades are all about…

Rinoa raised her eyebrows. "You’re just gonna let them go, Squall?"

Raijin frowned. It was still killing him as to where he had seen her before. "Don’t wanna…. Talk anymore, ya know…. Kinda painful… ya know…"

Fujin frowned. "WIMP." She kicked him in the leg. It was just like Raijin to show emotional weakness.

Raijin winced, glaring at the silver-haired woman.

"RUN," She commanded. As they were leaving, she gave one last sympathetic and understanding look to Zell.

Rinoa sighed. "I feel sad…." Raijin and Fujin were laying themselves on the line, handing their heads over to Edea on a silver platter, all to back Seifer up, to show their loyalty.

"Friend or foe, it all comes down to circumstance," Squall mused. "That’s how we were raised. It’s… nothing special." Nothing special… Is that true? Squall asked himself. His words sounded cold and detached to him. Then, what’s this I’m feeling? Squall felt sympathy for Seifer, for Fujin and Raijin. He couldn’t believe that he felt sympathy for the man who had scarred Squall, who was now opposing his former classmates, who had tortured him…. "Let’s go."

Rinoa and Zell nodded. As they followed Squall out of the Hotel, their minds worked. Rinoa looked over at Zell. She hadn’t said anything about hearing him call out for Seifer in his sleep, and she didn’t think she should. Zell must have been going through a lot, and Squall didn’t even seem to notice. She reached over, patting Zell’s shoulder. "It’ll be okay," she whispered.

Zell tried to smile at her, knowing that she was talking about more than Balamb and the Army’s invasion. He appreciated her concern. He also appreciated Fujin and Raijin’s loyalty to Seifer. It made Zell feel better, knowing that they were there for Seifer when he couldn’t be. Did Seifer know how much they cared about him, how much Zell cared? Or did all he care about was Edea? Zell sighed, following Squall and Rinoa back to the Garden.

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