Stitch In Time
By Scarlet Fever
Raijin sighed. He wasn’t looking forward to talking to Seifer, for he knew that his friend would be angry that they couldn’t find Ellone. Who was she anyway, and why was Edea so bloody interested in her? He cast his dark gaze over to Fujin, who looked preoccupied. "What is it?"
"HUH?" She looked over at him. "NOTHING."
He shook his head. "No, no, no, it isn’t nothing, ya know?! Tell me."
"Just thinking," she whispered, smirking at Raijin. "Don’t worry about it."
He tilted his head, looking at her. "You know I hate when you get like this. I’m here to help, ya know?"
"I have a question for you. Who the fuck was that girl with Squall and Zell? It was driving me crazy."
"Rinoa, Rinoa? Why does that sound familiar?"
"Her and Seifer used to go out."
Raijin snapped his fingers. "Ah! Now I remember her. Why did they break up again?"
Fujin just sighed, not answering.
"Okay, I have another question for you. What’s up with Zell? When he said Seifer's name, he kinda sounded… Lovelorn."
Fujin raised an eyebrow. "You noticed?"
He groaned. "I may be dense, but I’m not that dense. You know something, don’t you? Tell me, ya know?!"
Fujin just rolled her eyes. Raijin could notice a change in voice, but he couldn’t notice that Fujin would sometimes throw herself at him. What an idiot….
"What’s going on? I’ve also noticed that Seifer's been acting weird, especially since after the SeeD ball."
"He’s acting weird because the Sorceress is controlling him."
"It’s more than that."
Fujin bit her lip. "I don’t think it’s my place to say anything."
Raijin’s eyes widened. "What the fuck? I never know what’s going on."
Fujin was silent for a few moments. "I’m scared, Raijin."
"All of this. Edea, Seifer, everything. It seems like there’s so much more going on than what we see, and I have a really, really bad feeling about this. Seifer's slipping away, and I’m afraid that soon it will be too late to reach him…." She trailed off, her normally commanding voice cracking. She felt tears prick at her eyes. Dammit, she was showing weakness. She hated this. She hastily wiped away the tears with the heel of her hand.
Raijin tilted his head, his heart softening. He hated seeing Fujin like this, so distraught and torn. He reached out, stroking her back gently. "It’s okay. I’m scared, too. What’s Edea going to do to us, seeing as how we failed?"
She sighed shakily, turning to face the much taller Raijin. She had meant to shake it off and call him a wimp, but looking into his eyes, seeing her fear and confusion mirrored there caused her to let out a small sob. Everything was falling apart around them, and all they could do was watch it crumble. She pressed her body against Raijin’s, wanting to be held, wanting to know that there was at least a little hope left. She wrapped her arms around his waist, pressing her ear to his muscular chest, listening to his heartbeat, which sounded distant and muffled.
He sighed, holding Fujin against his chest tightly. He knew how she felt, how helpless they both were. It actually felt nice to hold her lean body to his. He didn’t dare tell her how much he admired her, mostly for fear of a swift kick in the shins, and because he didn’t want her to trample his heart, even if she didn’t mean to. Their pleasantly quiet moment was interrupted by the sound of motion behind them. Seifer was standing with his arms crossed over his broad chest. He was standing with his usual ‘confident’ stance out in full force, but there was something in his eyes that looked soft, distant. Fujin pulled away from her much taller counterpart, guessing that their friend was thinking about Zell.
Seifer couldn’t help but smile momentarily. Fujin and Raijin actually looked very peaceful in a comforting embrace, finding a ray of happiness in the murky surrounding. They had actually been very obvious about their affection towards each other, but neither of them seemed to notice it. Seifer wondered if that’s the way he was with his feelings for Zell: beyond obvious, almost hopeless. Seifer had meant to come out chide them for being run out of Balamb, but his heart softened.
Do not be soft, my Knight. They failed in finding Ellone. I must have her power so Time Kompression kan be realized.
Any pleasant feelings were shoved away roughly by the invisible hand of Ultimecia. He sauntered over to Fujin and Raijin. "Why didn’t you bring us Ellone?"
Fujin narrowed her eye. This man before her barely even sounded like Seifer anymore. "She wasn’t in Balamb, that’s why." She knew her voice sounded defensive, but it was from instinct. Seifer felt more like an enemy.
"Really?" Seifer raised an elegant eyebrow. "How could you be sure?"
"Where could Ellone have hidden? We searched everywhere, ya know?!" Raijin glared darkly at his friend, seeing the same things Fujin was seeing. His sky blue eyes looked so distant, so unlike him. "We got word that a SeeD ship came and took her out of Balamb Garden."
Seifer blinked a couple of times, surprised. "A SeeD ship?"
"Yeah." Raijin crossed his arms over his powerful chest.
"A SeeD ship?" Seifer repeated, more to himself. "I’ll let you off, for now. Although, I think that you should have been more than a match for Squall and them."
Fujin sighed. "I’m sorry if I don’t feel like kicking the shit out of Squall, Zell and Rinoa, Seifer. They let us go, you know? They showed more kindness than…."
They all turned. Edea was standing in the doorway. Her expression was unreadable.
"Nothing, my lady," Fujin whispered, bowing.
"Please leave. I’ll deal with you two later," Edea commanded.
They nodded. Before Fujin followed Raijin out, she leaned over to Seifer, lowering her commanding voice to a whisper. "We’re worried about you."
Seifer gave her a look, narrowing his eyes.
"Zell’s worried, too. This is tearing you both apart….." She looked over Seifer's shoulder to Edea. Bowing once more, she quickly left, wanting to be out of the Sorceress’s amber gaze.
Seifer felt a warm blush pass over his cheeks. Zell was worried about him? The mere thought made him feel like he was melting into a warm puddle. Zell had only been outside the walls of Galbadia Garden. Seifer immediately regretted not running away from Edea, from the Army, from Ultimecia’s psychic grip, and not throwing himself in the smaller blonde’s arm, begging for his forgiveness.
"Seifer?" Edea asked. She was now standing before him. He seemed very distant, and happily so. A small smile graced over her indigo painted lips. "What are you thinking about?"
Edea softened, enjoying the warmth that passed through her body at the absence of their cruel, cold Mistress from the future. "Circumstances involving someone in particular?"
Seifer's eyes lit up. "Yes, Matron….." He stopped, trailing off as the last syllable dropped from his mouth. Why had he called Edea, his Mistress Matron?
Edea raised her eyebrows. "Now, that’s something that you haven’t called me in a long time."
"When did I ever call you Matron?" Seifer asked, leaning against a banister. It had seemed very natural to call Edea Matron, and he didn’t know why.
"It seems familiar, right? Natural?"
Seifer met Edea’s gaze, which now seemed more golden brown than amber. Ultimecia must have been dormant for now. "It does. Why?"
"Can’t you remember? Must be the GF use."
"GF use? Oh, come on! That memory loss because of junctioning is just stories, lies."
"Is it? Then, tell me about your childhood…"
Seifer paused, finding her question strange. After a few moments, he realized that he couldn’t tell her anything about his past. He couldn’t remember. "I can’t…"
"You can’t remember, can you?"
Seifer shook his head. "Hmmm, maybe it is true. I guess it was disappearing so gradually that I didn’t even notice. I can remember a couple of things. A dog attacked me. That only became vivid recently." He gave Edea a look.
Edea turned her lovely face away from his gaze, regretting what she had done. "What else do you remember?" Her voice sounded small.
"A lighthouse by the ocean. It was quiet, and I liked going there."
Edea smiled sadly. "Yes, I remember the lighthouse, too."
Seifer furrowed his brow. "What are you talking about?"
"The lighthouse on Centra. The shores were very rocky, and I didn’t like when you children used to play there. You could have fallen into the tide. Centra had bad riptides."
Seifer's clear eyes widened. "That the lighthouse! How did you know?"
"It was practically in our backyard," the Sorceress answered, laughingly.
"Orphanage? Was I in an Orphanage?"
Edea nodded. "My Orphanage."
"Well, I suppose it makes sense. I mean, I don’t have parents. They must have been killed in the Sorceress War…." He looked over at Edea. She looked distant and sad. "When did I come to your Orphanage?"
"When you were three. There were always children coming in. Like you said, it was the Sorceress War…." As she said this, she gave Seifer a sad look. "You were one of my favorites. I had a small group that seemed to make me feel better at the end of every day."
Seifer paused. "What happened to them? Were they adopted?"
"You know what happened to them, Seifer." Edea paused, wanting Seifer to put the pieces together by himself.
His mind was working a mile a minute. "Wait! When you mentioned Ellone the first time to me, I felt something familiar! Was she….?"
Edea nodded. "She was older than the rest of you, but she was there. You weren’t as close to her as another boy was, but you all cared for her. Since she was a bit older, you all looked up to her."
Seifer smiled sadly. "Yeah, Squall used to hog all her time…." He stopped his words completely. "Squall….?"
"Squall was there, too. He and Ellone were very close. She had been adopted by his mother before he was born, and when Raine died, both Squall and Ellone came to my Orphanage."
"I can’t believe that I forgot all of this….. So, Squall and I grew up at the same Orphanage? Was I as much of a bastard then as I am now?" Seifer asked. He had meant it as a joke, but the self-loathing tone in his voice couldn’t escape Edea’s ears.
"You had had a rough life. You and Squall still had your rivalry, even then."
Seifer nodded absently, working his mind through so many forgotten years. Images of playing on a quiet beach, of Edea, her eyes kind and soft, of being looked over again and again for adoption flickered through Seifer's mind. He then thought of the other children, their parents dead as well.
Hey, Seifer, wanna come play war?!
Seifer gasped. "Selphie! The little messenger girl?! Was she there?"
Edea nodded. "It must feel strange to be remembering so many things."
Seifer barely heard her. Selphie’s large emerald eyes seemed burned into his memory. They hadn’t changed at all. How could he have forgotten so much of his life? A few more flashes of children passed through his mind.
We aren’t going to get adopted, are we? We could always go to Garden…..
"Quistis….. My God. This can’t be happening. How could I have forgotten that I grew up with Squall and Quistis? Wait, that cowboy…. The one that fought against you on the float in the parade…. Was he there, too?"
Seifer shook his head. He was trying so hard to remember things that his head hurt.
I hate you, Seifer!
You’re such a crybaby, Zell!
I am not! I’m telling!
"You are such a crybaby…." Seifer whispered, repeating his memory, reliving the Stitch in Time that he had forgotten. He envisioned the lighthouse, how Matron had told them not to go there because it was do dangerous, too rocky. He had picked on Zell, yet again, and the small child had yelled at him. He had always picked on Zell. It was no wonder that Zell had always yelled ‘I hate you!’.
Stop teasing me, Seifer! I’m going to tell Matron….Wahhhh!
See, you are a crybaby.
Seifer, I hurt my leg…. Even now, Seifer could hear the pained whimper in Zell’s voice, as fresh as if it had happened that day.
Are you okay?!
Aren’t you going to make fun of me?
But you’re hurt…. I’ll carry you back.
Seifer remembered carrying Zell back to Matron’s Orphanage, Zell’s held back sobs reverberating through his back.
You really are a crybaby…. Seifer had said gently.
I am not…….
"Zell…." Seifer whispered.
"Yes," Edea murmured. "He was there, too. I remember the day he got adopted by the Dinchts. You were sad, but wouldn’t show it. I could tell."
"You can still remember something like that?"
"Maybe not if the situation had been different, but you took it very hard."
"So, the Dinchts aren’t Zell’s real parents…."
"Yes they are. Blood doesn’t always make you a real family…" She trailed off, looking at Seifer sadly.
"I was never adopted. Probably because of my personality. Also, maybe I wasn’t cute enough. I must have joined Garden when I was very young."
"Five or six. At least you had went to Garden, so I could still watch over you in my own little way."
Seifer sighed. "Do you know what happened to my family?"
Edea remained silent for a minute or so. "No…."
"You’re lying. Tell me."
"You can’t remember?"
Seifer shook his head. "Nothing. It’s totally blank. Why, was it something terrible? It was War after all, right?"
Edea looked away.
"Matron? Tell me."
"All I know is that your parents and your older sister died because of Sorceress Adel. Innocent bystanders, I guess. Look, it’s something that I don’t know a lot about, so I cannot tell you, and that’s the truth."
"I had a sister? Was she at the Orphanage, too?"
"No. She died before ever coming to the Orphanage."
Seifer blinked a few times. "This is insane."
Edea stood. "We must continue to search for Ellone."
Seifer looked up at her, meeting her gaze, which was amber once again. He sighed. "But, where?" He couldn’t make his voice sound enthusiastic, for his mind was too cluttered with all this new, past information he had only now rediscovered.
"Those stupid SeeDs of Balamb will lead us to her. Just wait for them to make the move." Edea’s gentle, silken voice sounded like black velvet again.
Seifer nodded dully.
The past is the past, my Knight. Just a Stitch in Time, mere sutures covering the skar of time. After Time Kompression, it will not matter. The past, the present, the future…. All will be one.
Seifer felt the familiar sting of his heart hardening in his chest, all his gentle memories shattered in the cold that was engulfing him once more. He looked up at Edea. "Yes. We can bide our time. What about Raijin and Fujin?"
"We’ll have the guards show them the error of their ways…."
Seifer took his breath in sharply, the memory of his ‘lesson’ still fresh.
"No, no. They only need fear to be put in line." She motioned with one graceful hand. "Come, we must prepare for the SeeDs to sow the fields of their own demise."
Fujin sighed, rubbing her sore shoulder. The Soldiers under the command of Seifer and Edea sure had beaten a lesson into them. The one-eyed woman felt relieved that a minor beating was all they got. She was sitting on the bed in her room, slowly rotating her shoulder. She grimaced in pain as she looked over at Raijin. He was pacing angrily back and forth.
"It could have been worse," She muttered, taking off her jacket. The black of her T-shirt made her skin look like porcelain.
"They shouldn’t have beaten you up. How is it fair, ya know?!"
Fujin snorted, removing her eyepatch. "Why, because I’m a woman? Don’t start on that." The eye that was concealed beneath her black eyepatch had been poked out as a small child, by accident. She had been playing with a friend, and it had gotten poked out with a stick. In place of where the eye was supposed to be was an all white glass eye. Fujin had never bothered getting a painted one, for the nasty scar over the eyelid would prevent her from ever really going in public without her eyepatch. It probably wasn’t as bad as she was seeing it, but her mental projection of it was horrid. She looked in the mirror, inspecting the bruise that had been under the black fabric. "We got off easy, Raijin."
"How could Seifer let them do this?!"
Fujin sighed, standing. "What do you think Edea would have done to him if he had opposed her on our behalf? Can’t you see it in his eyes when he sees the guards…..? They did things to him…."
Raijin glowered. "Why is this happening?" He stretched his neck, wincing at some tenderness. He looked over at Fujin as she traced her purpled bruise with her fingertips. "Are you sure you’re okay?" He asked quietly, kneeling down beside her as she sat on the edge of the bed again.
"I said I was fine!" She exclaimed, almost angrily. She didn’t want Raijin to have to look out for her. She could take care of herself. She sighed shakily. "It seems like we see the real Seifer less and less now. What’s going to happen when nothing will reach him? I still think that there’s hope, but what are we going to do when not even the mention of Zell’s name can snap Seifer out of it? He’s practically as good as dead….."
"Zell’s name?" Raijin interrupted. He noticed that Fujin’s pale hands had become tight fists in her lap. He gently uncoiled her hands with his own. "Fujin, please tell me….."
"Seifer's in love with Zell. You’re so blind, you should have noticed….." She trailed off, knowing that Raijin hadn’t even noticed her feelings. "You don’t pay attention to that sort of thing, though…."
Raijin heard the personal note in her voice. He couldn’t say that he was overly shocked by Fujin’s confession of Seifer's feelings. It was somewhat unexpected, but not wholly so. "I guess I sort of knew, but what business of mine is it?"
"Well, you can’t be totally stupid. You did notice Zell’s voice…." She ruffled his hair teasingly.
"Fuck you!" Raijin joked. "So, does Zell feel the same way?"
"I… I think so. I feel so badly for both of them. This whole thing is tearing them apart. Seifer's being killed from the inside by whomever is controlling Edea, and Zell’s being torn between duty for Garden to oppose the enemy, and between having to fight his lover….."
Raijin gave her a small, soft smile. "I’ve never really seen this side of you…."
"This caring side. It’s nice…."
Fujin frowned. "Just because I’m not all mushy and cuntish doesn’t mean I don’t care about people…"
"I know, I know. You know I didn’t mean it like that, ya know?!" He exclaimed, squeezing her hands. He only realized now that he was still holding them. He blushed slightly, creating a contrast between the soft pink and his dark flesh. He quickly released her hands.
"Raijin….." She trailed off, not knowing what she wanted to say. She bit her lip, regretting saying anything. Being so nervous and tongue-tied was new to her.
She groaned. "This is so stupid! How could you notice that Zell had feelings for Seifer, when it was subtle, and you can’t even notice me throwing myself at you like I’m a common tramp!!" Fujin stood, brushing past him. "I thought that you would eventually get the hint, but nothing seems to penetrate that thick head of yours! You are sooo INFURIATING! You don’t even notice what’s in front of your face! STUPID."
Raijin stood as well, towering over her. "I am not stupid! Why didn’t you just say something?! I’m not a goddamn mind reader, ya know?!"
"Well, you should open your eyes, ya know?!" She crossed her arms. "I swear, you have got to be the dumbest fuck on the face of the plan…." Her stream of angry, embarrassed words was stopped, muffled as Raijin roughly cupped her face with his large hands, and angrily pressed his mouth to hers. Fujin blinked a couple of times in surprise, her long eyelashes fluttering against Raijin’s orbital bones. When she finally got over the shock of Raijin’s mouth on hers, she felt her body melt. She had always wondered what it would be like to kiss Raijin, and now that the moment was here, she was standing there like a moron. Before she could respond, he pulled away.
He stroked her bruised cheeks with his thumbs. "I’m not a dumb fuck. You should have said something…."
Fujin blinked a few more times, looking into his warm onyx eyes. "I… uh… Well….." She trailed off as he nuzzled his face in her neck, his stubbled chin gently scratching her flesh in a way that made her feel warm all over. "Raijin…."
"Don’t worry about Seifer. We’ll get him back. Everything will work out," he whispered against the side of her face.
"You sound like you’re convincing yourself more than you’re trying to convince me…."
He sighed, his great body echoing the motion against her figure. "I’m not leaving him here like this."
"I know, I know. We’re the only ones who can help him….."
They both frowned, their moods dark once again. She pressed her cheek to his chest, marveling that his skin was actually very smooth and soft. For now, she wanted to forget about Edea, Seifer, about the Army, about Ellone, everything, and enjoy the one small ray of happiness, cutting through the endless dark misery that surrounded them.
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