| Editor's Note: This story contains certain spoilers regarding a number of villains from the Square-Enix universe. Read at your own risk.|
"Squall!" Yelled Rinoa
Squall swam through the salty sea with one hand, the other holding the unconscious Seifer around the neck.
"Dammit " Squall reached the ships deck and climbed the side as the others crowded around the edge, desperate to help. Squall made an attempt to slide Seifer onto the deck as he slid from his grip. His body weighed down with water.
Time passed. Minutes. Hours. He couldn't tell. Seifer woke in and out of conciseness, vaguely remembering the sights.
Squall looming over him. Selphie casting cure. Then finally a white ceiling, Quistis's voice only an echo.
His eyes closed again as the shadows loomed overhead.
This time as he opened his eyes the air was a blinding white. He squinted and pulled his gloved hand to his forehead. He went to stand to find he already was.
Seifer glanced around, slightly fearful of the new surroundings.
He closed his eyes in frustration. "Seifer, to never see your eyes again..."
He opened his eyes. "Quistis?"
He looked around. Nothing in sight.
Moments passed. Seifer wandered the seemingly endless white cloud until he heard the echo of voices rippling near by. He followed the sound then stopped when he came to a table full of questionably characters.
They raised their heads at the sound of his shuffling feet. One lone figure stood from the small poker table and walked over. He recognized the figure almost immediately.
She smiled, slightly cynical. "Seifer", she purred. "Come, take a seat." She gestured towards several green-orange chairs.
Normally he would have protested against it, but something lulled him towards the table full of people.
But then he hesitated, and looked at Ultimecia. She cocked her head to the side.
"What am I doing here?" he asked, unsure.
"This realm is... people who..." She stopped. "Take a look at the people sitting at that table over there." She said, placing a motherly hand on his shoulder.
He almost cringed at her good-natured voice, running a chill down his spine. He glanced quickly at the table. None of them looked familiar. Five seemed to be all there were. One had inanely red colored make-up covering his face, a small feather sticking out of his ponytail. Another had long silver hair, and a black trench coat, sliding to the floor. Seifer noticed his intense green eyes as he bopped the clown on the head for cheating.
A strange man with blue hair and a soft,lofty voice, argued with another... man - Seifer decided - that had hardly any clothing on, primping himself in the mirror. His violet tail twitched every now and then.
Another at the far end glanced every now and then at Seifer and finished re-arranging the cards he held. His hair was a shorter silver. The muscles in his arms bulging against the yellow muscle-T he wore.
Seifer looked back at Ultimecia and asked, "Who are they?"
"The insane. The evil. The gods of their own universe." Ultimecia removed her hand from his shoulder and swept it the air. Two chairs and a small table, placed with two steaming mugs appeared. She gestured, and this time he sat down.
His brows furrowed as Ultimecia took a seat grabbing the blue mug in her hands.
Moments passed while the Sorceress took sips from the mug, her eyes intently on Seifer as he watched the poker table, forty paces away.She placed the cup down and asked; "I bet your curious about what this place is, correct?"He glanced up. " I am. And many other things. Like what this place is and why I'm here. And your accent, what happened to it?" He sighed.
"This is a place between Heaven and Hell almost." She said. " One I created by mistake during Time Compression. And as for the accent, it was for show when I was alive."
"Alive? You mean your all dead? But, what about me? Does that mean I'm dead to?"
"Seifer, take a look at yourself." She said gently, distracting him for a second.
He glanced down at his now transparent hand, oddly unmoved by it. He glanced back up at her, his dark brown eyes asking for an answer."You're merely passing by, a visiting place for your soul for the time being. How did you become unconscious...that's the reason why you're here, I mean, how did it happen?"
He leaned forward grabbing his blue mug, realizing the faint smell of a flowery musk coming from the Sorceress.
He took a sip of his drink and started. "Squall and I were racing in the ocean while everyone else was rooting us on from the deck of a small boat." He said more to himself, trying to recall the blurred memories. "I had rejoined Garden a year after your defeat, and another two years later we went out to celebrate my graduation." He looked farther down past the mug, realizing now that he wore his white trench coat and dark blue shirt again. "Large waves began to swell-up nearby, but Squall and I just sliced right through them. Finally one over-ran me and I toppled under, smashing my head on a rock I suppose." He realized how wrapped up in his story he was.
He mind raced to change the subject. Ultimecia gave him an innocent look. Seifer shuddered slightly, but then remembered Quistis's voice.
"Earlier, I heard a woman's voice. One I knew. I had closed my eyes, but then when I opened them, her voice was gone." Seifer waved his hand in front of his face, as if to rid a bad dream. "What was it?"
"Communication with the living, I guess you could call it. The people up here can hear thoughts or words from the people below, but only the ones we knew from our past lives. Like for example, I can often hear my daughters thoughts or words, and sometimes communicate with her up hear because she too is a Sorceress."
This made him sit up. "You have a daughter?"
"Yes, a very wise one.""But, How?"Ultimecia laughed. "It's a rather long story, do you mine hearing it?"He nodded.
Ultimecia waved her hand in the air, using the other to place the mug on the small table again. Upon her lap appeared a red and black quilt, she unfolded it and wrapped it around her.
A hazel one appeared beside Seifer, as he glanced at the distracting scene near by. The clown was now harassing the man with the tail, pulling on it excessively, making the pretty boy scream over above the arguing sounds the silver haired man and boy. The blue haired man got up and wondered off, playing with one of his long strands of hair.
Ultimecia cleared her throat, the four quieted down. Kefka gave a quick giggle before Kuja yanked hard on his ponytail.
Ultimecia turned her neck around at the couple as Kefka stuck his tongue out at Kuja. He fell quiet at her glare.
She sighed. "As I was saying-"
"But you haven't started yet." Came Riku's voiceUltimecia ignored him.
"I was married...once. He was a Samari. I had met him in another realm one day, before I had ever planned Time Compression."
Seifer noticed a faint twinkle arise in her eyes.
She stared of into the white abyss until Kuja's wail brought her attention back.
"...uhh... The man changed my life. But long story short, we got married, and when I was six months pregnant...he went off to a war..."her eyes began to mist with tears. "...He died, leaving me in a beautiful mansion with a full staff of servants. I had planned to raise the child with me, but when she was born, I was told by an unknown force that because of her mortal father, the air in this realm wouldn't sustain her life. And of course I believe it, because her father too had trouble breathing in this realm without a powerful amulet, which ironically, he took with him to the war" Ultimecia wrapped her self tighter in the quilt. The others behind them became quiet and listened. "So with every ounce of my magic I gave her to a loving mortal family. I even went as far as to place early memories in their head, relatives of theirs too. Pictures, video, they were all my memory's...planted into their mine, disorientated to their lifestyles." Seifer tensed, oddly enough a small lump forming in his throat.
"As my last deed I bound her powers as long as I could contain them, keeping her safe from the mortals prying curiosity of a Sorceress. I didn't even have enough energy left to name her."
Kefka, Kuja, Sephiroth, and Riku edged closer.
Ultimecia's eyes went from soft to glazed. Her tone no longer tainted with pain. But anger. "I missed my daughter, my husband. They were everything I had, everything I ever wanted" The Sorceresses face was now blank, no emotion written across her face.
"So after reading my great, great, Grandmother Hyne's spell book, I came across the Time Compression spell." Ultimecia placed her long black nail between her teeth. " The thought grew in my head, " if I compressed time, I could join both worlds and bring back my Husband and daughter!" I thought I was pure genius." Her eyes lit up as she smiled.
"But then those accursed seeds stopped me!" Her brows furrowed as she flung her hands out. Realizing she was overdoing it, she continued.
" After Time Compression failed, I sought out my daughter. I couldn't have accomplished before due to my still lack of power and the energy I was saving to work the spell, but after she finally received her powers, I laid in shadows for a while, watching her, seeming as her enemy, the one role I played for so long." Ultimecia shook her head and skipped ahead of the seemingly never-ending story. "But long story short, she had to battles and taught so many things to me. By fifteen she had been married, had two children and battled her evils."
The curiosity in Seifer seethed through. "So how did you come to be here?"Ultimecia laughed, breaking up the morbid air about them, then turned sober."Ansem. He grew increasingly fascinated by her, to the point where he tried to kill everyone who tried to love her...succeeding on my weaknesses."
Riku gave a low growl at the mention of his name
" There is one thing that she taught me that always sticks in my mind." Ultimecia tapped her nose and smiled. " Never stop looking for love until you've found it.. Break through the current of doubt, protect you friends with everything you have, and always be hopeful that you will find you soul mate in any life time."
Seifer gave a raised eyebrow to a seemingly poetic quote. " And what does that mean?""It means that I used you as a man to comfort my losses. I needed a man around to hold his authority. I used you Seifer, and for that I'm very sorry...you just don't know when the one you love will disappear..."
Ultimecia trailed off. An awkward silence filled the hollow air.
A woman's sobs wafted through the room with an eerie echo. Seifer twisted around, searching for the source of the sound. He looked at Ultimecia for direction." There is no evil Seifer, just the manipulated. That is who we are." She smiled. " We were created to rule and corrupted by others. Just as you..." Her lips opened to say something else, but she fell silent.
Seifer waited but nothing happened, just the sound of Quistis's voice growing louder is his ear. The whiteness dimmed and blacked out.
His first sight was the gray tiles of the hospital ceiling. His body felt weak. He couldn't movie his arms or legs. He licked his lips, thirsty. A small stubble under his lip pricked his tongue, and he smiled, he was back, back in the living world again.
Seifer lifted his head slightly off the pillow, glancing at a woman crying softly in the corner.
It was Quistis! But her hair was longer, duller, and her skin was pale as marble stone.
Seifer struggled to sit up, to regain the control in his legs and arms, but he couldn't move anything.
"Ms. Trepe?" A man came in with a white lab coat, and a small clip board. "Are you ready?"
Quistis raised her head from her hands her eyes glazed over, pale and puffy. She nodded slowly.
The Doctor moved swiftly to a breathing machine nearby as Quistis walked up and gently slid Seifer's fingers in hers, almost deathly cold in her soft caress. "Well I guess this is goodbye Seifer, I cant wait forever..." She smiled. So weak, and yet to triumphant, he could finally rest and live amongst the stars.
But the tears in her eyes blurred his, open, living ones from her."Are you ready Ms. Trepe?"
She turned her head. "Ye-"
Quistis jerked her head back towards Seifer and look at his hand. "...Wait" she held out her other hand.
"Seifer...? Can you hear me? Seifer?" Her eyes pleaded wearily at him. She stared at the once moving hands, willing them to move again, but they didn't. She nearly gave up hope.
"I'm here Quisty. Don't worry."
Quistis just starred, her mouth hung open. She shook slightly, with anticipation and disbelief.
"Seifer?" Her eyes brimmed with tears again.
"Don't worry Quisty, I'm not going anywhere." He smiled slightly. Rubbing his thumb across her hand once more.
Quistis sobbed uncontrollably as she fell in a heap next to Seifer's shoulder. He willed every fiber in his body to wrap his arm around her. To comfort the Quistis he has lost far to many times due to his foolish decisions. He closed his arm about in a half embrace, making soothing sounds, trying to calm her down. The clock in the corner ticked away fifteen minutes as the Doctor quietly slipped out the door.
"Quisty, Quisty. How long have I been like this?"
Quistis dried her eyes with the back of her hands, and smoothed out her pink skirt.She sniffled like a child, still unable to let go of his arm.
Through sniffled and the occasional sudden inhale of air she stuttered; "...T-ten.., months. The doctors said you had a thirty per-percent chance of c-coming out of the comma, and of you did you m-muscles would be so deteriorated that is wou-would take months so restore th-them..."
"Wow...and you, where here all along?"
She nodded, once again like a child
"Thank-you Quistis, Thank-you so very much." He brought her tear wet hand to his lips and placed a gently kiss upon one.
She nodded again. Unable for words.
Seifer lay next to the still-sniffling Quistis, running his finger back and forth on the side of her palm.
"...While I was asleep, I had this dream. A dream about love, and death; Loss and strife. Creating something out of nothing." He smiled to himself remembering the Sorceresses words. "Never stop looking for love until you've found it... Break through the current of doubt, protect you friends with everything you have, and always be hopeful that you will find you soul mate in any life time"
Quistis turned her head to meet his lips upon hers. She froze a moment, then smiled. "Where did you learn such a poetic verse?" She said gently stroking his cheek.
"A Misunderstood Alliance...I guess..."The End