Author's Note - Been forever since I've played the game, so dialogue and some scenes *will* be different... helps that I'm changing things anyway. ^_-
The first thing I am aware of while waking up is that my head is killing me. With a wry smile, I consider it nothing horrible after all the shit I've been through. The second thing I notice is that it's too damn bright in this room.
"Oh, you're awake. How are you feeling?"
"... ..." Why the hell am I in the infirmary with Dr Kadowaki? I have powerful enough healing spells such that this shouldn't be necessary.
"Say your name for me."
"...Squall." Something is wrong with this.
The moment Dr. Kadowaki starts into her rant about fighting with Seifer, I feel like I've been slammed in the stomach, suddenly unable to breath. With a surprisingly steady hand, I touch my forehead to find the bandaging I don't want to be there. Sitting up straight, I startle the motherly doctor out of her lecture.
"Just a moment, young man. You lie back down until your teacher comes for you. Let's see... Professor Trepe wasn't it?"
I barely hear her instructions through the pounding within my head, lying down more for myself than for the sake of following orders. Damn, I know it didn't feel like this before, not this painful. Dr Kadowaki leaves the room to call up Quistis, thankfully leaving me by my lonesome. More slowly this time, I sit up on the bed. Gripping the edge of my shirt collar, I pull it to the side to look at my shoulder. It was there - the scar left from too much time between receiving the giant icicle through my body and healing after being rescued at the prison.
Closing my eyes, I fall back onto the thin mattress. If the war in my memories wasn't a dream, then maybe this is my nightmare to relive it. But the glaring white light penetrating my eyelids and the lumpy bed under me were too real for that to be true. If anything, the celebration party at the Garden was more so the dream. Perhaps, the Time Compression...
A familiar woman's voice brings me out of my thoughts. I interrupt her, "Sis?"
I open my eyes to look at the shorthair woman to my side. "Thank Hyne. Do you know what's happening to me?"
"W, what are you talking about, Squall?"
"I don't want to do it again."
A pause. "Do what?"
She looks worriedly at me with a 'poor thing, you must have really gotten smacked in the head' type of expression. "Listen, I can't stay. We'll talk again."
And she's gone much like the ghost that I had first thought her to be. I had always considered the phrase 'frustrated to tears' being used by people who couldn't handle a bit of a challenge in life, but I now know exactly where they are coming from. However, there's no time to cry - Quisty will be here soon.
On cue the regal blonde makes her entrance with that arrogant attitude that had been diluted a bit during the war. Why do I have to deal with this once again?
"I knew it was going to be either you or Seifer."
Ignoring the painful argument from my head, I get up quickly and rise from the infirmary bed. Without sparing her a glance, I walk pass Quistis and to the hallway. Flustered, she tries to keep up with my larger strides while lecturing me or something. Damn, at least as the Commander of SeeDs I could order her to be quiet on occasion, but I'm not even a SeeD at the moment.
Not listening to what she says, I reply the standard, "Whatever." She of course mimics the word.
Laughing, Quistis says, "I think I'm beginning to understand you."
I stop in my tracks and glare at her. "Never assume that."
She backs away at the growled tone, suddenly not quite certain of the supposed knowledge she has about me. Turning sharply I walk further into the pristine Garden. It's strange seeing several students walking about without a care beyond passing the next test, meanwhile I know which ones should die in the coming weeks.
I don't pay attention in class once I get there and into my seat. It doesn't matter much anyway. Shortly after this I know I have to pass the Fire Cavern test with Quistis, but that leaves an interesting question - should I junction with GF's? They destroy memories of their hosts and who knows what else, but right now the memories of before may be most important to me. I can't risk them if it could be helped, despite how much I would prefer forgetting the past or future.
Sitting on the fountain edge in Dollet, I stare down at my blade in a partial daze. Lion Heart has thankfully traveled with me to this time, thus making junctioning unnecessary for the moment. In addition, I can feel the echoes of Shiva, Diablo, and the others we have conquered, all of them waiting patiently for my summons. Could they recognize their masters even across time? Either way, I should be able to use them for a great advantage.
Leaning back with a sigh, I think about how it's rather amusing to be 'Squall of the future' despite the downfalls I know are coming. In a gratifying way, I have confused quite a few people in a short amount of time. I caught Selphie instead of running into her at the Garden and called her by name to her bafflement. The Fire Cavern was pathetically simple, my skill leagues beyond Quisits. She barely got a hit in during the random fights and I even wasn't junctured. And I know Seifer senses something unusual about me and he has to be bothered by it.
"What the fuck is up with you?"
I look sideways at the towering blonde, but I don't reply. Of course Seifer would interrupt my thinking session. A brief glance around and I notice the noisy dog probably got kicked out of the way already. I guess I could've remembered to protect the pathetic thing from Seifer's boredom, but that would have required standing up.
"Answer when your leader asks something. And while you're at it, where did you get that beauty? It could've helped you in our little duel." He sneers at me, certainly thinking the gunblade wouldn't be enough of a handicap to help me defeat him. I'm tempted to wipe that look off his face.
Slinging the blade carefully over my shoulder, I stand up and start walking to the side. "It doesn't matter. Soldiers are coming."
Zell stops his shadow boxing for a moment to look at me with puzzlement. "What? I don't hear any-- Ah, crap."
Sounds of boot on stone echoes between the buildings as several soldiers come running our way. The two blondes rush towards my spot as I lean comfortably against the wall. The group of men don't notice us as they leave the courtyard and hurry off to the communication tower.
Seifer stands up with a swing of his gunblade. "They're up to something and we're going to follow them."
"No way, man. We were told to stay here. Right, Squall?"
"And disobey our leader's orders?"
The taller blonde smirks at that one. Suddenly I realize that Seifer does have potential to be an excellent leader. First, he is capable of making quick decisions based on his own ideas of proper action. All in all, these soldiers are up to something suspicious, thus it should be investigated. Second, he isn't afraid of taking responsibility. He knows full well that Zell and I will get points for following orders and none of the blame for leaving our stationed area. And then there is that overwhelming charisma of his which I had forgotten about. Too bad he tends to act like a lone wolf.
Zell puts a hand to his forehead. "You've got to be kidding me. You and Seifer agree about something? I thought you hated each other's guts."
"You can stay here if you want, Chickenwuss." With that he runs off to chase after the soldiers.
"Stop calling me that!" Fuming, Zell is only a few steps after me as I follow Seifer's lead.
The test thankfully finished, Selphie waves a bit as the three of us part ways at the Garden's front gates. Zell was a bit pissed at Seifer for taking the car back without us, but I personally believe that these two needed the experience anyway. The monsters in this area aren't that dangerous, so it's a good time to get in the extra practice especially considering the battles before us.
Walking into the Garden, I find the tall blonde scowling off to the side. I walk up to him but don't say anything as I lean against the low wall. Sea green eyes look at me with a glint of anger, but apparently he doesn't feel like starting up a conversation himself. Soon enough, Cid waddles up to us. He gives Seifer some kind of lecture about why the blonde didn't pass the exam, but I don't pay attention. Instead I focus on those eyes burning with hatred - they were stunning but alarming.
Once Cid leaves, I stand up from the wall to gain Seifer's attention. "I want a rematch."
Eyebrows scrunch in confusion. "What the fuck are you talking about, Leonhart?"
"I want a rematch of our latest duel, but this time let's put a bet to it."
He straightens, a smirk replacing his scowl. "Oh? And what do you have in mind?"
"For one week the loser has to do the winner's biddings."
"I didn't realize you were so anxious to be my slave."
"I'm game. When and where."
"Tomorrow, sunrise. The usual place."
"Fine. But remember, Leonhart, if you don't show, it's the same as losing."
I walk away not bothering to reply to the obvious.
Despite the fact I no longer care for the man, that I may even hate him, there is no fucking way I'm fighting him again. I just barely got through it the first time around using Rinoa as an emotional crutch (and a poor one at that), but I'd rather kill myself than be forced to seek out Seifer's blood a second time.
I go up the elevator to the next floor. There's already a large group of potential SeeDs waiting for the results of the test. I lean back against the wall, cross my arms and close my eyes as the rhythmic footfalls of Zell's pacing somewhat soothes me into a blissful zoning state. Eventually the robed faculty member comes out to announce the lucky new SeeD members. I walk automatically at the sound of my name and enter the elevator.
As the four that have passed the exam, we now have to stand in place while Cid tries a pep talk about becoming a SeeD. Whatever. When he dismisses us, I don't leave the office that looks strange without the platform rising from the center of it.
"Oh, were you waiting around for this?" He hands me a rather worthless meter, which I mutter 'thanks' for and place it in my pocket to be forgotten about.
I speak up before he can turn away. "Sir, I think Seifer should be promoted to SeeD."
He raises an eyebrow at the statement. "Isn't Seifer your rival?"
"He can be a good leader, sir." Just as he led an army to attack this Garden and killed so many young lives.
"Be that as may, the boy needs to learn some patience and how to be a part of the group. Did he not leave you behind at several instances?"
"He needs more experience and not training, sir."
The portly man takes a small step back at that, giving himself a better angle to examine me. "You seem different from the last time I saw you. I assume you have a reason for defending your rival to the point of endangering your recent promotion."
The robed faculty member behind Cid cleared his throat loudly. "Headmaster, we have other things to attend to at this moment."
Unseen from the other's position, irritation flashes in the old man's eyes. "I understand." He leans in a bit to whisper to me. "I wish I could help, but what has been decided has been decided."
I nod my understanding and then stride out of the office. It had been a long shot to try and give Seifer the rank he wanted, but plan A was still in effect for tomorrow morning. I'm almost positive I can win the match. It'll be difficult unjuctured to the GFs, but it wouldn't be fun without some kind of challenge to it. Now the question is what to do with that brief power over him.
I go directly to my room to change into my usual - white shirt, dark leather pants plus belts, and the jacket. Happy to have avoided Selphie (since she would have dragged me to the dance), I head outside and to a small cliff that overlooks the ocean. A refreshing breeze flows over me while I lie on the ground and stare up into the darkened sky. Exhaustion fills every part of me and nothing has even started yet, really.
Fireworks explode in the sky and I smile. Managed to avoid Rinoa and Quistis all in one night. Not too shabby. Ellone will probably still get into danger at the training center, but those white SeeD members should be able to protect her fine enough. That is, unless she was merely following me that time and won't even end up in the training center this night.
"A-aw, is the little Ice Prince taking his nap?"
Sitting up, I look behind me to find Seifer several meters away. "Don't you have a girlfriend waiting for you, Almasy?"
"You know about her? I thought you were a no show at the party."
He more fell than sat next to me. "We already met up. I introduced to her Cid and then sneaked away while she did her 'rebels with a cause' talk. It gets dull the fortieth time you hear it. She is a beauty, though."
"What the fuck were you doing talking to Cid about me?"
I narrowed my eyes. "He told you."
"He commented on the fact that he was pleased that we were finally getting along. I can only assume you said something to him."
"There's something up with you lately. Did I rattle your brains in that last fight?"
"Something like that."
He looks up into the nearly full moon. "I'm bored. Any reason to wait until the morning for our rematch?"
My lips curl up in the barest of smiles. "There's enough light for me."
"I don't want to hear your whimpering after I win. Be prepared to buy me dinners for the next week."
I stand up smoothly and walk to my normal starting point. Unsheathing Lion Heart, I watch Seifer closely as he takes Hyperion from its holster. The night is completely still for several heartbeats as we focus solely on each other and plan a method of attack. There is the sound of one footstep when we advance at the same instant. Two masterpiece blades connect in a flashing strike and we separate. The smirk that the blonde held going into the match is replaced with an uncertain frown, but I won't give him the time to think this through. Going full speed this time, I charge the unprepared man and swing my blade into his, Hyperion torn away from its master. Continuing with the momentum, I drive forward with my shoulder and knock the larger man down. Barely winded, I look beneath me at Seifer, my arm firm but not constricting against his throat.
He should be furious and trying his hardest to throw me off of him, but Seifer never was one to do as expected. Unjunctured myself, there is nothing I can do to stop the spell he casts - scan.
His eyes open wide then narrow. "What the fuck... Are you on turbo steroids or something? You aren't even junctioned for those stats."
I look into those aqua eyes in the attempt to form a decision. My logical side comes to the conclusion that Seifer has enough information by chance to be dangerous and annoying to me. He might as well learn the rest even though he probably won't believe a word of it. At least, not without some kind of proof.
I get off the blonde and head towards the Garden. "Come with me."
I hear him rise unhurriedly to his feet and then grab his disarmed gunblade. "Gonna show me your secret stash? I may be an idiot, but at least I'm clean. One hundred percent natural in my godliness."
Most of the walk back to my 'new' single room, I endure Seifer's jabs of various sorts. It's strange how different these comments are without the hate filling each word as they had in the past months. They are almost amusing this way. It's been easier to get readjusted to this Seifer than I would have believed possible.
I enter the small room and leave the door open for an invitation inside, the sound of the door closing signals our privacy. Not facing the silent blonde, I slowly take off my gloves and toss them onto the bed. My jacket soon follows, my arms bare in the light.
I turn at the loud whisper and quickly take off my t-shirt. I let it fall to the ground, currently not caring about the minor disarray it causes in the room.
"What... When did..."
Rubbing my hand across my stomach, I follow one thick line of burnt skin that is still a touch red after a rather short time period. "It's too complex to explain, but I've somehow traveled back about two months in time. There was... is going to be another Sorceress War."
A blonde eyebrow raises. "A Sorceress War? Don't fuck with me, Leonhart. Sorceresses aren't even--"
"Have I ever lied to you?"
He straightens at the quiet question, and then eventually sneers at me. "You don't talk enough to form a decent lie. So, why tell me?"
I look to the side to avoid those piercing eyes. "You asked."
In my mind, though, I'm certain I would have eventually told him. He's the only one who really listens to what I say. For every word I speak out, Seifer could always read the sentences behind it. Sometimes I wonder if he is able to find his way through my very thoughts, through every shield I've created.
Suddenly there is a feather light touch at my shoulder. Before I think about it, I have Seifer face first into the wall and his arm trapped at his back in a painful angle. I release the hold instantly and step back before the blonde can recognize the shaking of my hands on his arm. Standing up straight and forcing myself back to a neutral state, I watch Seifer as pushes up from the wall to glare at me.
"What's your problem?"
"... ..." I can't apologize to him, the feel of remorse no where within me.
He massages his tender wrist. "Never mind. I was just curious where you got that beauty." He points at the largest of the battle scars on my shoulder.
"Riiiight. Why didn't you heal yourself?"
"I wasn't able to." I shift my stance and look directly into his eyes. "You're coming with us tomorrow."
Confusion crosses his face at the change in subject. "Why should I?"
"You lost. For the next week, you belong to me."
"Oh, very nice, Leonhart. Now let's try for something that resembles an explanation."
He smirks at the lack of response. Crossing his arms, he walks over to the bed and gets comfortable. "I have all night, Squally-boy. Let's have it."
With a sigh, I pick up the fallen shirt and put it on to stop the feel of his gaze on my body. "You were planning on going to Timber yourself tomorrow. I can't stop you, but I'm not letting you go on your own."
"Don't you trust me to follow you orders this week?"
"That isn't the problem." Strange enough, I do trust him. He's an arrogant bastard, but one with an odd sense of honor. I don't want him to be alone when facing the sorceress. I haven't a clue as to what she told Seifer that day to persuade him, but I will make certain he isn't taken away again. Even leaving him at the Garden could be dangerous.
"Just can it with the mysterious crap. Obviously you're trying to prevent something. If I know about it, I can avoid it myself, right?"
I pause, trying to decide how much he truly believes me. "A sorceress will try and make you her knight tomorrow."
"A knight, huh? That sounds pretty classy, obviously well suited for a guy like me."
"Then, did you choose to fight against me?"
Unfortunately he hears my quiet tone and frowns but doesn't reply.
"If you join her, you are against SeeD and humanity."
"You make it sound like the two are separate things. Tired of being a killer already, Leonhart?"
I ignore the comment. "I won't fight you again."
"Let me guess - sticking by my side tomorrow is your big plan to prevent my choice of the dark side, hmm? What if I decide she has the better deal than the shit I'm getting here? What then, hero?"
"I won't fight you again," I reiterate.
"Phft. Like hell you could stand by while a war..." His breath halts and sea-green eyes stare into me. "What exactly is your backup plan?"
"None of your business."
"I beg to differ. If I'm on the same line here, my decision will determine the fate of your life."
"Don't care for the responsibility, Almasy?"
His eyes widen a bit at the confirmation of his theory.
"Don't worry. If you go to her side again, you won't give a fuck that I'm not around." I open the door and stand next to it. "Get out."
"Just one freaking moment. What did I do to you as this so-called knight?"
"It wasn't a suggestion. Out." If I could prevent the future I've lived through, he doesn't need to know about the murder, the destruction, and the hate...he doesn't need to know about any of it.
Seifer rises from the bed, his searing gaze never losing contact with my eyes. He walks towards the doorway with long, slow strides and leaves without a pause or a word to me. I close the door and stare into the room though focus on nothing. For a long time I stand there while avoiding the bed and his scent that must be lingering on those sheets.
Another Note - For those who haven't guessed it yet, I got this idea based off the feature in some RPG games where you can restart the game starting with everything you had the first time you played (Chrono Cross is one game of probably several games that does this). This includes stats, weapons, and some items. Although, for this story, the main character is the only one this happens to and he also remembers all the shit he went through the first time thus he can avoid it. ^_-