Disclaimer: <Sob>...M-mine? Waaaaaaaaaa!! <sniffle> Actually, just kidding. They aren't mine. I'm a poor high school student with a current balance of 23 cents in her wallet! Your lawyers are going to have to fight tooth and nail with me if you want it!

Notes: Well, it's gonna be NC-17 later (yah!), but for now, it's PG. I'll start informing ya if something hot is about to hit target! Heehee... Well, it's in the Final Fantasy 8 universe, but without Seifer's involvement with Ultimecia. That bit didn't happen. Oh, and right here is a childhood flashback. The bulk of this piece in the present, Balamb Garden environment! R/R please! And Enjoy (no da) !

Time after Time

Chapter 1 - Asa (morning)

By WanderingTonberry

The young child sat on the stone wall, tranquil blue eyes gazing out across the sea. He couldn't help but whisper quietly in awe at the sheer beauty of nature. It was the rising sun that had called to him, coaxed him from his warm nest of blankets. It was the sea, melodious and joyful, that had soothed the sleep from his spirit. It was the scent of the soft petals on the breeze that stirred his little heart. Yes, it was a beautiful morning.

The wind blew the little one's honey-colored hair up from his face as he looked up at a bird flying back from the rushing waters. The boy smiled. It was wondrous here...Even though he was still of a tender age, it was not hard to see how bright the child was. His appreciation and respect for nature would have amazed even the most heartless of adults.

The small child turned as he heard shoes on the gravel path. His large eyes seemed to grow as he saw his favorite companion emerge from the stone house that had been his home for as long as he could remember. His beloved companion was also accompanied by a human boy who happened to be holding him.

The blissful blue eyes were bright as he reached for his most treasured possession and companion. The older boy handed his little friend his toy, a stuffed Tonberry. The creation of soft fabric gave the little creature a look of innocence, unlike its real-life counterpart who was widely feared across the continents.

"You're up early." The older boy yawned and smiled, stretching his arms to the sky.

"Uhuh...The waves were makin' pwetty music..." The young one hugged the stuffed comfort tightly against his chest. He even held the toy as if to allow it the chance to watch the sun rise as well.

The older child brushed several stray strands of golden hair back behind his ear. He needed a haircut, but he wasn't willing to give in to Matron until he thought his hair was too long. He never really seemed to do anything he didn't want to.

He wrapped an arm around his smaller companion's small waist. "You shoulda waited for me, Zell. Ya don't know what kinda monsters might be around."

"I know...But I couldn't hewlp it!"

Sky-colored eyes regarded him thoughtfully, as best as a five-year-old child could. He pulled Zell into a tight hug, burying his face in the baby soft locks. "I forgive ya...But wait for me next time, ok?"

The little boy hugged back, nodding. "I will..." He pulled away slowly, face shining with happiness. "Let's go pway in the flower forest, Seifwa!"

Seifer nodded slowly, smiling. He knew that it would make his friend happy to visit the field of heavily perfumed flowers. So they would go. He stood up from the gray stone wall, dusting off his navy blue shorts. "Want me to carry you and Midori?"

Zell nodded. He always liked the piggyback rides that Seifer offered. He stood slowly, trying not to lose his balance on the uneven wall. A loose stone made its presence known and the smaller blonde tripped, heading for the hard packed earth below. He gave a terrified squeal, his Tonberry falling from his tiny hands.

Seifer turned around quickly, catching the boy in his arms. Even though he had saved Zell from cracking his head on the path, his heroic actions argued for a price to be paid. In exchange, they went tumbling to the ground in a tangle of limbs and legs. Much to Seifer's relief, the small boy had landed on top of him.

He closed his eyes, trying to catch his breath and stop the wild beating of his heart. Then he heard sniffling. And felt tears drip onto his face.

"Waaa...Seifwa!! Don't die!!" Zell cried into his small hands, seated on the older boy's chest. Distressed sounds made it's way out of his little body.

"I'm not dead!" Seifer opened his eyes and looked up at the crying child. He sat up slowly, Zell in his lap. "Don't cry...I'm not dead," he murmured.

Zell's burbling sobs lessened as Seifer spoke to him. "...? Seifwa..." He flung miniature arms around the tall boy's neck, nuzzling close as his tears slowed. His breath returned to him in slow moments. He sighed against Seifer, dainty fingers plucking at the boy's hair.

"Geez, you're sucha crybaby, Zell." He said so softly, but with affection, as not to hurt one of the friends he was on truly good terms with. The other children weren't like his Zell...They weren't special like he was...

"A-am not!" Seifer smiled as Zell gave him a determined look and cut off his tears with practiced ease. Seifer had gotten used to seeing the younger boy cry, so he had tried his best to comfort him when he was scared or hurt.

The golden-haired youth leaned over to his right and saved Zell's toy from a passing tumbleweed. "Here. He missed you." He smiled as the boy scooped the plushie up in a tight embrace.

"Sowwy about dwopping you..." He spoke softly to the doll, as if it could understand him. He waited for an answer and hugged it tightly as he was forgiven.

"We should probably go back and get breakfast. Matron will be wonderin' where we went." His companion nodded and hopped off Seifer's lap, then stood shakily with some assistance from the caring older boy.

Seifer kneeled on the ground with his back to Zell. "Hop on. I don't want ya fallin' on the way back." Zell blushed softly, but did as he was asked. He wrapped his arms around Seifer's neck, climbing on his back. He was pretty strong for his age and carried his favorite friend with ease. They climbed back up the path, Midori pressed to Seifer's throat where Zell clutched him.

"What do ya think Maytwin made ta' day?" Zell whispered into the soft shell of his impromptu chauffeur's ear.

"Beats me...I think Sephie wanted eggs today...She was singin' 'bout them when I came to find ya."

"Eggs are yummy...Do ya think she'll make some for Midori?"

"She always does, doesn't she?"


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