Stitch In Time
By Scarlet Fever
Zell wiped a smear of blood off his arm. Damn Fujin and Raijin. His brow furrowed in sadness. He didn’t like fighting against them, particularly Fujin, but it had to be done. Squall, Zell and Rinoa had just finished dispatching of the Mobile Type 8 Monster that Seifer's companions had thrown in their way.
"Come on," Squall murmured, stretching his neck, which had a pain in it. He had a feeling that Seifer would be the next person they faced. They went through the door that Raijin and Fujin had entered before them. The two were bookending Ellone, who had been kidnapped from Esthar. She was trying to struggle against them, but both Raijin and Fujin were far stronger than she was.
Zell looked up to see Seifer standing on a tall pedestal. He was leaning on his gunblade, smirking down at them with a smile on his face that looked like it belonged on the lips of Ultimecia rather than the scarred blonde. It sent chills down Zell’s spine at the way Seifer was glaring at them.
"We’ve come to take back Ellone," Squall called lowly to Seifer.
Seifer chuckled, his laughter sounding foreign. "Looks like we’ve got company. Show them your hospitality." He motioned to Fujin and Raijin, narrowing his eyes hatefully. Kursed SeeDs.
Raijin nodded dully, knowing that he had to obey his friend, even though he didn’t want to. Fujin made a motion with her hand beside him.
Seifer cocked his head from his perch, looking at them with confusion. "What’s up?" His voice faltered, and he sounded like himself again for a moment. He wished they would kill him so Ultimecia couldn’t use his body like a puppet anymore. It frightened him that he was getting so accustomed to her in his body, in his mind.
"We’ve had enough, ya know…" Raijin trailed off, his voice low with anger and regret. He knew that they were Seifer's friends, but he wasn’t Seifer anymore, and Raijin hated the way it felt to take orders from this imposter.
Fujin sighed, releasing her grip on Ellone. "GO." She smiled sadly at the brunette woman, ushering her away. Ellone nodded. She could see the confusion and sadness in the crimson eye of her captor. She ran over to Squall, still amazed how much he looked like his father.
"Wait outside," Squall commanded gently, only taking his gaze off Seifer for a second. "Laguna should be here soon."
She nodded, running out of the room.
"Hey, hey… Come on, people…." Seifer looked down at Raijin and Fujin, angry confusion all over his face.
"Seifer, we’re quitting, ya know…" Raijin’s voice sounded angry, but resigned. "Don’t know what’s right anymore, ya know…." He trailed off, knowing that Seifer probably didn’t know which way was up anymore, or who he was.
"Exactly my thoughts," Seifer echoed knowingly, sounding more like himself than he had since that whole thing began. "I thought we were a posse."
"POSSE…." Fujin trailed off, sadly looking up to her friend. "We are. We always will be. Because we’re a posse, we want to help you. Whatever it takes to fulfill your dream, we’re willing to do," Fujin cast a sad look over to Zell, smiling ever so slightly at him. "But… You’re being manipulated, Seifer. You’ve lost yourself, and your dream… You’re eating out of someone’s hand." She frowned angrily. "We want the old you back! Since we can’t get through to you, all we have now to rely on in Squall." She gestured over to him. "It’s sad… Sad that we only have Squall to rely on." She gave a knowing gaze to Zell. "Seifer, are you still going to keep going?"
Seifer shrugged, internally feeling something dying as the last people who stood by him were abandoning him. He saluted to them. "Raijin, Fujin, it’s been fun…."
Raijin nodded sadly, looking over at his girlfriend. She motioned for him to follow her. She knew they should leave, that they’d only get in the way now. She could only hope that Squall, that Zell could get through to Seifer while there was still some of him left to save.
"Are you going to continue with this Knight thing?" Squall asked, feeling something turning in his chest. He felt sorry for Seifer. What a lonely existence, to be abandoned, left alone at the very end when he probably needed someone the most.
"The Knight has retired. I guess you could call me a young Revolutionary." He smirked. His voice sounded dead, hollow.
"What do you think you’re doing?" Squall cried, wishing that he could smack some sense into his old rival, who was now standing before him. Squall couldn’t help but notice the momentary gaze of shamed agony that Seifer gave Zell.
"I’ve always got to be doing something big…." Seifer muttered, smirking slightly. "I don’t want to stop…" I can’t stop. "I’m going to keep running. I’ve come this far…." He closed his eyes momentarily, feeling Ultimecia’s psychic claws curl into his brain. "I’m going to make it to the end, to the goal. There’s no way I’m sharing it with you….."
Yes, use your anger, little kitten. Destroy them, and I’ll give you your life back.
Seifer smirked as the battle began. He could feel the heavy presence of Odin, hanging in the air. When the mystic horseman was called, preparing to deal Seifer his deathblow, Seifer wanted to welcome it, but Ultimecia wasn’t through with him yet, and he pointed his gunblade at the horned warrior. He laughed softly, Ultimecia laughed softly as Seifer felt his blade cut through Odin like he was butter.
"Odin…?!" Squall stared at Seifer, shock written all over his fair face.
Seifer cackled horribly. "Ha, I won’t go down that easy! Show me what you’ve got, Skwall. Let me add another skar for ya…."
Zell shivered when he heard the dialect change in Seifer's voice. Was that Ultimecia he was hearing. Zell began to draw Aura spells from his lover, feeling like he was about to break down and cry. He narrowed his eyes as a strange figure appeared before him. Zell’s eyes widened as he realized it was Gilgamesh. Zell had thought that the multi-armed being was only fiction, but he was standing before them, his red cape flapping from a breeze that he seemed to create on his own.
"You gave me the fourth one… Huh? Was it you?"
They all sort of stared, shocked to see Gilgamesh in front of them, and confused by what he was saying.
"Then, dodge my sword. Eat this….." He swung his sword at Seifer, who was sent flying by the blow. He grunted at he hit the floor, hard.
"Where is the dimensional interval….?" He then disappeared as quickly as he appeared.
Seifer groaned again, getting to his feet. He shakily got into fighting position again, but wasn’t really much of a match anymore. Squall hit him with one last cut of his blade. Seifer blinked a couple of times, his lips parting in surprise.
Zell bit his lower lip heavily, watching as Seifer swayed on his feet. He felt tears gathering at the corners of his eyes when his gaze met Ultimecia’s pawn’s. Zell could see relief in Seifer's eyes. Relief and happiness.
"Is…this…the…end?" Seifer asked quietly, smiling softly. He closed his eyes blissfully, pitching forward. Now he was free. Death never seemed so welcoming, so beautiful. Seifer had so many regrets, but life had become unbearable, and he wanted the Reaper’s touch so badly he could taste it. When his body hit the ground, his entire existence was engulfed in blackness. He could see dark robes flapping against the black, darker than even his surroundings. He had half expected to see the typical skeletal figure, but was surprised when he saw a woman. The thick black robes clung to her body, showing the curves of a female form. She was so tall, probably a little taller than Seifer. She reached out her free hand towards him, her other wound around the carved handle of a large scythe. The flesh of her hand was pale and soft looking, and Seifer reached up to try to clasp it.
That’s as far as you go, little kitten.
Please… Let me die…..
I’m not through with you yet, kursed brat.
The robed woman cocked her head, spinning on her heel. She walked away from Seifer without a word. The last thing he saw of her was her copper tinged hair flowing out from under the hood that obscured her face.
"Seifer…." He heard someone say. Rinoa.
Rinoa, run… please.
Shut up, insolent boy.
Seifer felt his mind shake as Ultimecia re-entered him, taking away the death he so desired.
Zell covered his mouth with the back of his hand. He knew that his lips were probably trembling. He wanted to scream in agony as his heart shattered into a million pieces, but felt like a statue, unable to move from his spot as he stared down at Seifer's body. Oh, Seifer. I wish I had told you how I felt. Maybe you’ll be happier this way….
Rinoa sighed. She pitied Seifer greatly, but he had been helping the Sorceress, so he was an enemy. At least they had stopped him from doing anything to Ellone. She wanted to be a million miles away from this scene, Seifer fallen, dead. Well, it hadn’t really been him anymore, but still. She knew that Zell must have been dying as well, and thought that he would want to be alone with the remains of his lover. She turned, leaving.
Seifer's body slowly stirred from its state of death-like stillness. Before either Squall or Zell could react, Seifer jumped up quickly.
"Not yet! It’s not over yet, Skwall!" He turned, running out of the room.
Zell remained in his position, surprised. Before Seifer had left so quickly, he had caught a glimpse of Seifer's eyes, glowing amber in their sockets. Just like Edea….. He sighed shakily, feeling like a statue. He had stared directly at Ultimecia, using Seifer's body as a shell.
"Squall!!" They heard Rinoa cry. Her voice cut through their shock.
"Rinoa!?" Squall cried. He made a move to chase after her, but Quistis came in the room.
"Squall, S-Seifer took Rinoa!" She looked shaken.
Squall nodded, racing after them.
"Zell…. Seifer…… His eyes…… They were yellow. He had hourglasses for irises."
Zell nodded. "Ultimecia."
"Does that mean that Ultimecia is possessing him? How sad…." Quistis mused quietly as they followed Squall.
"Squall!" Selphie cried. She pointed up to a staircase made of what looked like a telescope. "They went up there. I think we should divide attentions. There’s going to be the worries of hurting Rinoa now. And what about Adel?"
Squall nodded absently. "Rinoa…." He pointed to Quistis and Irvine. "Okay, you two are with me. Zell, you and Selphie follow behind. We’ll probably need backup, what with having to worry about Rinoa, Adel and Seifer."
Zell nodded, the image of Seifer's eyes, burning like sulfur engraved in his memory. He and Selphie followed behind.
"What do you think Ultimecia’s going to do with Rinoa?" She asked quietly, not wanting to upset Squall with her question.
"Don’t you mean Seifer?" He said the other man’s name softly, sadly.
"He isn’t really Seifer anymore, is he?" She sighed, hoping that there still was some of Seifer in there.
Rinoa struggled against Seifer's grip. She swiveled her torso to face her former boyfriend. His eyes were once again a clear sky blue, not the horrible amber of Ultimecia. However, his expression was hard and hateful. "Seifer! Stop it!" She struggled further, fear setting in. Seifer had led her to the front of Adel’s tomb. "Haven’t you done enough?!" She looked over at the slumbering Sorceress. Adel’s appearance was frightening. She was so large, not just tall, but muscular, too. More muscular than any man she had seen. Her face was gruesome, and the colour of snow. There were black marks along Adel’s face, making her look striped, like a Zebra. The only real colour on her was the bright fire of her orange hair. "I know you’re not like that…." Rinoa trailed off, scared by Adel.
"I can’t go back now!" Seifer muttered lowly. "I can’t go anywhere…." He whispered the last part, as if saying it to himself rather than to her. That simple statement sounded so sad, ringing in Rinoa’s ears. Seifer shook his head. "The Sorceresses as one. This is Ultimecia’s wish….." The last word was said with a feral growl, and actually sounded like a woman’s voice, cutting through Seifer's throat like broken glass.
"…. Seifer…." Rinoa whispered, knowing that the hand being wound around her upper arm was the hand of Ultimecia, not of Seifer. "… Seifer…" She repeated, knowing that he must have been in there somewhere. "No more, please?"
"Rinoa…." Seifer whispered, his voice sounding mournful, strangled. It was the most affectionate way he had ever said her name, and that included when they had slept together.
"Seifer, no!!" Squall cried, running into the room, Quistis and Irvine flanking him. His eyes widened with fear as he noticed that Seifer was holding Rinoa before Adel’s tomb. What if Adel woke up? He advanced upon them, his fear for Rinoa’s safety burning a hole in his heart.
"Rinoa and Adel! The Sorceresses as one! Watch klosely, Skwall…." He pushed the struggling Rinoa to her knees before Adel’s tomb. He took a couple of steps backwards, smiling wrathfully as Adel stirred, her bonds breaking under the strength of her muscles.
"Rinoa!!" Squall cried, running into action to save her.
You’re usefulness ends here, kursed brat……
The smile on Seifer's face faltered as he heard Ultimecia’s words ringing all around him. He stumbled backwards a few steps, his body feeling like it was failing. Let me die…..
Not yet. I have plans for you, Seifer…..
Seifer let out a silent gasp, a soft shunting of breath as Ultimecia left his body, but not without giving him something. He could practically hear what was left of Seifer Almasy, what was left of himself, his psyche, shatter like a glass on the floor. His eyes rolled into the back of his head as the pieces of his soul shattered within him. His skin felt cold around him, like he was being encased in ice. The last thing he heard before falling to the ground was Zell calling for him. Seifer smiled from within. What a beautiful sound to have reverberating in his mind, the sound of his name on Zell’s lips.
"Seifer!" Zell cried, running over to him. He reached out his arms to stop Seifer from falling completely. The awkwardness of catching Seifer's weight while he was unbalanced caused Zell to fall to the ground as well. "Seifer!" He called gently, looking into Seifer's face.
The other man was unresponsive. His pale flesh had taken on a blue tinge that didn’t really look healthy, and he was shivering gently. Zell wrapped his arms around Seifer's shaking body, pulling himself closer. Seifer's eyes were open, but looked like they didn’t see anything.
"Seifer?" Zell whispered, his face hovering millimeters from his lover’s. Seifer's breath was gentle, almost nonexistent against his cheek.
"He looks like he’s in shock…." Selphie trailed off sadly, crouching beside them. "Does that mean that Ultimecia has left him?"
"I don’t know…." Zell murmured, not looking at her. He kept his gaze on Seifer. "Seifer…. It’s Zell. Can you hear me?"
Seifer still didn’t respond. His lips were beginning to turn a shade of purplish blue, and it looked like a thin sheen of sweat was appearing on his skin.
"He needs medical attention…." Selphie stroked Seifer's short blonde hair. She used an Elixir on him, and frowned when it had no effect. "Why didn’t it work?"
"Elixirs can’t cure mental damage…." Zell whispered, a few vagrant tears falling from his eyes. He studied Seifer's clear eyes. "Seifer… please….." He placed a few small kisses on Seifer's cheeks and lips. "Can you hear me? Seifer…." He choked back a sob as he nuzzled his face against Seifer's. His body was so cold…. "Seifer, please snap out of it. Please….. It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t your fault….."
"Zell…." Selphie trailed off, tears coming to her eyes as well. She looked over to where Squall was. They had successfully defeated Adel, and Rinoa was swaying from side to side, totally out of it. Adel’s aura must have been inside her body. She noticed that Laguna came in. Ellone was going to use her power to send Adel’s persona to the future, send it to Ultimecia. She looked back to Zell, who was quietly weeping.
"Seifer, please don’t leave me. Who else will call me a Chicken-Wuss and make fun of my height? Please don’t leave me, Seifer, please!!" He rubbed his cheek back and forth against Seifer's cold throat. "I love you. Do you hear me? I love you." He stopped speaking, for his voice was becoming shaken and sob-ridden. He held Seifer's still body as closely to his as he could. He could faintly hear Laguna talking. Time Compression was going to begin. He was supposed to think of friendship, of love. He closed his eyes, feeling the breath being knocked out of him. It was beginning. Time was being altered to Ultimecia’s desire. Zell cleared his mind of any thoughts other than Seifer, how he would kill Ultimecia for doing this to his lover, for doing this to them.
"I won’t let her take you away from me….." Zell whispered into Seifer's ear. He held Seifer tighter as he felt a wave of sheer power hit him, like existence was being unraveled, like his body was going to come apart. "I love you," Zell whispered to the still body next to him as Ultimecia’s wishes unraveled the world around them.
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