Stitch In Time

Chapter Twenty-One

By Scarlet Fever

Selphie sighed happily, squeezing Irvine’s hand as they walked through the streets of Balamb. She was so glad to be alive, so glad that she could feel the sun on her face, and that she could smell the ocean. After Time Compression, she had wound up in Trabia, at the war zone that used to be Trabia Garden. Irvine had been by her side, and hadn’t left it since. Squall and Rinoa had come to Trabia in the Ragnarok, their airship borrowed from the Esthar Army, and they had begun to track down everyone. The first place they had gone had been Balamb Garden, which was still at Fisherman’s Horizon. Quistis had been there. Zell was the only one left, and Selphie was certain that the spiky-haired blonde was in his hometown.

"I wonder if Seifer made it back…." Selphie whispered to Irvine as they approached the Dincht residence.

"I hope so," he answered, squeezing her hand. "For his sake as well as Zell’s."

She nodded, hope lighting up her jade eyes. She stopped in front of the door, turning to Squall. "I’m sure he’s here!"

Squall nodded. He was worried about Zell. For the past couple of weeks, something had been bothering the brash martial artist, and it had been more than the Edea, Adel and Ultimecia situations. Squall rapped his gloved hand on the door. It was opened by Mrs. Dincht, who smiled brightly. "Oh, hello! You’re looking for Zell, right?" She ushered them in. "They’re out back," she replied before heading back into the kitchen.

"They?" Rinoa asked, looping her arm with Squall’s.

Selphie smiled at Irvine, biting her lip happily, knowing what Mrs. Dincht meant. Squall frowned, heading through the house. Who were ‘they’? He opened the sliding back door soundlessly, stopping at what he saw. Zell was sitting on the lowest step, his arms draped over another’s shoulders. They were talking softly among themselves. Squall raised his delicate eyebrows as Zell leaned his face in, capturing Seifer's lips with his own.

Seifer and Zell?!! What the fuck is going on?!

"Hi!!" Selphie called cheerfully, pushing past the dumbfounded Squall. "I’m so glad you’re both safe!"

Zell turned around, raising his eyebrows. "What are you guys doing here?" He didn’t release Seifer from his embrace.

Seifer looked up, his eyes meeting Squall’s. He looked away quickly, shame colouring his cheeks. Squall knew immediately that it wasn’t shame at being caught kissing Zell, but shame for everything he had done. "We came to bring you back to Garden. We’re going to have a celebration…. Matron will be there….."

"Oh. Okay!" Zell stood, pulling Seifer up with one hand. "Just let me get some stuff…" He smiled at Seifer before disappearing into the house.

"Uh, Seifer…. Are you coming back to Garden?" Quistis asked, surprised as well at seeing Seifer and Zell embracing like lovers.

Seifer frowned sadly. "No, Instructor. I won’t come back. I don’t belong there."

Selphie beamed. "Well, at least you’re safe. Are you staying in Balamb?!"

Seifer blinked a few times, taken back by her exuberance. He remembered the sad, soothing sound of her voice, echoing in Ultimecia’s hollow world. "Uh, yeah…." He trailed off, not knowing how to explain himself.

"Well, when the Garden is moved back, we’ll be able to see you then!" She patted his chest, smiling brightly.

Seifer remained silent. He didn’t know what to do, or what to say to these people that he had hurt so much. It was one thing to be around Zell, whom he felt at peace with, but to face the rest of them, to face Rinoa and Squall. He turned his head away from Selphie’s bright, upturned face, looking at the grass.

"Okay, ready!" Zell muttered, coming out of the house. "I’ll meet you out front….."

Irvine nodded. "Sure." He turned to Seifer, murmuring quietly. "We don’t blame you, you know….."

Seifer narrowed his eyes, looking at the cowboy, who gave him a friendly smile before leading Selphie away. Quistis nodded at Seifer, not knowing what to say to him. It was obvious that the taller man was under emotional duress, and she had never been good at that sort of thing.

"Are you looking for a place to live today?" Zell asked of his lover, stopping in front of him. Earlier, they had discussed the possibility of living together. At the thought, Zell got happy butterflies in his stomach. Sure, he would miss his friends at Garden if he didn’t live in the dorm, but spending every night it Seifer's arms was a far more appealing prospect. Besides, lots of students commuted.

"I suppose," Seifer answered. "I’ll call a couple of places. Raijin and Fujin are looking, too, so I’ll go with them. Are you sure….?" Seifer trailed off, not wanting Zell to up and move out of Garden just because of him.

"Seifer, we could live in a piano box, and I’d be happy… Well, except that the hobos next door could get annoying." He stood on his tiptoes, planting a kiss on Seifer's lips. "I love you."

Seifer smiled. "I love you, Zell." He kissed his lover back with a little more passion.

Rinoa tilted her head, smiling gently. She was happy for both of them. Seifer deserved to be happy for once in his life. Her and Squall were the only ones who hadn’t left. She looked over at her boyfriend, who was watching Seifer and Zell, shock still on his face. "Squall?"

"Huh?" He barely turned his head to her. He couldn’t believe that Seifer and Zell were kissing each other. He had never seen two men kiss before, and the fact that the two doing it had been enemies for as long as Squall had known them made him confused. Something in him was also intrigued. The two blondes actually made quite an attractive couple. Squall briefly wondered what it would be like to kiss another man, to feel a hard, muscled body pressed against his own. He raised his eyebrows at his own thought.

"Squall?" Rinoa repeated.


"What are you thinking?"

"I was just wondering what it would be like to kiss another man…."

Rinoa scowled. "Jerk." She playfully smacked his arm.

"Ow!" Squall made a face at her, pecking her cheek. "You don’t seem surprised about….." He gestured his head to Seifer and Zell, who were talking lowly amongst themselves.

"I’m not. I knew that Seifer was in love with Zell even before I knew you."

Squall rolled his gray blue eyes. "I guess I’m the last to know everything…."

"Are you guys coming?" Zell asked. He was beside them, heading into the house.

Rinoa nodded, following the blonde. As Squall turned to leave, Seifer called out. "Squall…?"

"What?" He slowly turned on his heel to face his rival.

"Look, I know that you don’t have to believe me, but I just want to apologize for everything….. Not just about Ultimecia and Edea… everything. I was so jealous of you, you know? You were everything that I couldn’t be….." Seifer trailed off, his voice shaking with embarrassment. He felt nervous about exposing himself to Squall like this. He breathed deeply, his gaze never leaving Squall’s eyes.

"Seifer….. I know that Edea was controlling you….."

The blonde scoffed. "Squall…. She didn’t control me for my entire life….."

"What do you want from me?" Squall asked quietly.

"Nothing. Honestly, I don’t want anything from you. I just wanted to clean the slate. I admire you for the way you handled things. You truly are the best product of Garden…."

Squall raised his eyebrows in total surprise. He never expected praise from Seifer Almasy. "Well… Uh… Thanks…." He stammered.

"You look happy…." Seifer smiled sadly. "You and Rinoa look nice together."

Squall smiled as well. "Well, so do you and Zell…" He slightly shook his head.

"You’re surprised, aren’t you?"

"A little," Squall replied, laughing nervously. He suddenly realized that this was the first time in a long time that he and Seifer had smiled at each other, or had a civil conversation.

"Well, I don’t want to keep you…."

Squall nodded, turning to the house. Before he disappeared behind the door, he turned. "Seifer, I forgive you." He left.

Seifer sighed, sitting on the stairs again. He felt a little better. There was still a dark feeling hanging around him that couldn’t be alleviated by an apology to Squall. It would remain as long as he had memory, as long as he could remember Ultimecia. Thinking of his former Mistress, Seifer remembered one thing she had said to him, her voice crackling in his mind.

What are you trying to save? You’re nothing more than a Stitch in Time, a stitch in a long, long line, indistinckt from the rest. Ultimately, one suture won’t make a difference.

Was that true? Was one stitch the same as all the others? Were they just specs, meaningless in the scope of time? Sure, Squall had healed the cut, but would it just be ripped open again in a different time, a different place. Seifer began to think that each stitch was important in healing a cut. If one suture was removed, the rest would fall apart. Time was a very delicate thing.

Seifer was snapped out of his inner thoughts by the sound of the door behind him opening. He turned to see Raijin and Fujin smiling down at him. They had their hands linked together, and looked very happy. So, everyone had found happiness.

"What are you guys doing here?" Seifer asked, standing.

"Zell’s mom let us in," Fujin explained. She let go of Raijin’s hand so she could hug her friend. "We were worried about you."

"You didn’t need to be," Seifer chided gently. He then gasped as Raijin got him in a tight hug. "Not so hard!"

"Sorry, ya know?! Where’s Zell?"

"Went with Squall and the others to Garden."

"Are you okay?" Fujin’s uncovered crimson eye was immediately filled with concern.

"Yes," Seifer scowled. "I don’t need him around every second. I may be fragile, but I’m not that fragile."

"Hey, do you want to come fishing with us?" Raijin asked.

"Aren’t you supposed to be looking at apartments?"

"We’ll do that later, ya know?! It will be fun. You need to relax."

Seifer tilted his head. "Can I call a few places first to make appointments?"

"Oh, you’re looking for a place, too?" Fujin asked. "Zell mentioned something about wanting to live with you. Finally twisted your rubber arm, did he?"

"Come on, ya know?!" Raijin began to drag Seifer to the door. "Fishing’s very therapeutic, ya know?!"

Seifer rolled his sky blue eyes. "Yeah, except when you get food poisoning….."

"Shut the fuck up!!" Raijin exclaimed angrily.

Seifer and Fujin chuckled to themselves. Before going back into Zell’s house, he looked out at the sky as the Ragnarok flew by, creating a red streak against the clear blue. He sighed, missing Zell already. He knew that his lover would only be gone for a couple of days, but Seifer already wanted to taste Zell’s lips and feel the warmth of his skin. Before the dragon ship disappeared from his view completely, Seifer genuinely smiled.

Hurry back, my darling. I don’t want to lose any more time……

In the End, there is a Beginning.

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