Confinement, Consequences, and a Thing Called "Destiny"

By Al Kristopher


--~~Rinoa Heartilly~~--


Drip... drip... drip...

Clonk, clonk, clonk...

Drip... drip... drip...

Clonk, clonk, clonk...

Drip... drip...


A key. An old, rusted key, hardly ever used. A door opening, slowly.The rusted hinges groaning, as if they don't want to release their prisoner. They stop; he tells somebody, "Be careful, he's kinda crazy". Nobody replies, but two sets of footsteps can be heard. One set walks away from the cell--those are the guard's. He doesn't sound like he's in a hurry. It's in the middle of the afternoon; he probably isn't that hungry since it's lunch time. But another pair of footsteps, a softer kind, slowly approaches the cell. They stop. A quick, quiet rustling sound, and the small chair creaks. The visitor has sat down. Somebody wants to talk to him. He just sits there silently, staring at nothing. He knows why his visitor has come. But he will listen to her anyway.

"Hello, Rinoa," said Seifer eerily. "What brings you out to this part of the forest? Have you truly come to visit the man you once loved?" She paused, gazing at him faintly behind the sheet of Lexan glass. Hecannot touch her, and she cannot touch him. They have trapped him inside this asylum for the insane, and it does not look like he will be getting out very soon.




"Tell me, why are you here?" continued Seifer in that same eerievoice. He had been laying down on his bed ever since breakfast, and had been whiling his time away sleeping or staring up at the ceiling. He couldn't remember the last time he had gotten a visitor...

"I...... came to see you," replied the gentle voice of the gentle woman sitting in the chair, just beyond the reach of Seifer's world. Heglanced up at her and leered calmly.

"That's nice. And?? Don't tell me that you miss me? Or, have you forgotten what I almost did to you, and your friends, and this world?"

"No, I didn't forget," she said softly. "But, Seifer... I... I never thought they would place you somewhere like this."

"This is but a gilded cage for a bird restricted to everything except singing," he declared. He chuckled at his own wryness, and peered into the face of his former beloved with as much enthusiasm as he dared. "Tell me, how's the whole crew? Doing well without me, I should wonder?"

"They're... all right," she managed weakly. "Squall and I are... seeing each other..."

"What a soap opera that has turned out to be!" he scoffed. "My 'enemy' and my 'beloved' are now romantically attracted to each other! The son and daughter of two people who were almost lovers, now reunited and realizing the dreams their parents were unable to wake up to. Ha... and I, the 'enemy', am stuck here inside this cell, left to rot away and watch as everyone else passes me by!" Seifer chuckled again, and rested back on his bed, content to stare at the ceiling and toss a roll of toilet paper at the wall. Rinoa was left to her silence for awhile, but seeing as her visiting hours were short, she decided to cut to the point.

"Seifer, why did you do it?"

"Do what?"

"Everything," she said. Seifer sat up and faced her just long enough to raise his eyebrow.

"Define 'everything'."

"You know what I'm talking about," she said. "The whole business with Ultimecia and Adel, and willingly bombing Trabia and Balamb--"

"That was Ultimecia's wish, not mine," he grumbled. "Of course, you could also say that it was their fault. Gardens, SeeD, are a thorn--were a thorn in Ultimecia's side. She just acted accordingly to the threat. When you think about it, it really is no different than Headmaster Cid ordering people to wipe out a rebel faction because they'reenemies, or a president asking his countrymen to sail overseas and fight a group of enemies in another country."

"But Trabia and Balamb were full of innocent people!" she insisted.

"Were they?" he said darkly. "Were they really? Think about it. An enemy is an enemy, Rinoa, no matter what they do. The life of Ultimecia--perhaps Sorceresses in general--was in danger, and she wished to act accordingly. It really does make quite a bit of sense, to eliminate your killers before they eliminate you. I don't see the problem here."

"Seifer, you're mad!" she hissed fiercely. "You're absolutely insane!"

"Why do you think they have me locked up in here?" he laughed. Rinoa stared at him hard, shaking her head in disbelief.

"Balamb was full of people you knew, people who you saw every day! And... and... Edea was not Ultimecia's enemy! So explain why that witchdecided to possess such a sweet woman!"

"She was a Sorceress," he explained with some irritation. "Rinoa, it didn't matter who Ultimecia had control over. Remember, mydear, when she took over your body briefly? And she also wanted Adel's powers as well? Matron didn't deserve that--we can agree on that. But shewas just another Sorceress that got in the way. She was a convenience, Rinoa, and when her time was up... well, you know what happened better than anyof us." He smiled and saluted her, apparently content to win the argument. Frustrated, Rinoa stood up, holding her hands close to her chest and shaking her head.

"Seifer... I don't know what's happened to you... Even at your worst, you were never like this..."

"I've had some time to think," he replied. "Mostly, yeah--Ithought about what I did, and why I was doing it. At times, it really was going outta control, and sometimes, I knew I was just being used as a lapdog. But as they say, 'better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven'. Ha... I hope you don't mind waiting on God, Rinoa."

"I don't...... you are..." Rinoa stuttered, unable to pull together the diplomacy needed to reach out to this warped, frustrated young man. She could not even find the words to support herself, so with a depressing sigh, she gave up altogether. Seifer smiled at her, victorious for the time being, until a final thought came to Rinoa.

"Seifer... you may be right... or you may be wrong... I don't know. But... I would rather live my life in happiness and freedom, knowing that the good people of the world are living as they should, and the bad are either being punished or else being forced to amend for their errors. I knowyou will say to me that the world is not so black-and-white, but really, Seifer... I may sound like a fool, but I believe that things can be that simple, if you work hard enough for it.

"I do not envy you at all," she whispered. "I am here, outside, free to enjoy the beautiful world around me, and to commute with dear friends, and I am able to have a wonderful young man waiting for me, to hold meand cherish me, and to protect me in times of danger, and comfort me when I'm sad, and smile when we're happy. A simple life is more precious to me than any treasure, Seifer. I am free, but what position are you in today, my friend?"

With that, Rinoa turned around and left Seifer alone in the cell again, and vanished with the guard as he led her out of the asylum. Meanwhile,Seifer snorted and tried to ignore what she had said to him at the last minute, but having no other distractions in his life, he found that he could not. He was not going anywhere anytime soon, and he had all the time in the world to think and to let things stew, and so Almasy slowly shrunk back into the darkness, back onto his cot, and let his thoughts fester inside of him.


~~--Selphie Tilmitt--~~


His lunch consisted of some bland sandwiches that barely had any taste in them at all. They were very cold, even for sandwiches, and the water he had to drink was stale and bland. His meals were short and brief, no matter how long he savored them, and the atmosphere around him was always dark and cold and lonely. The asylum was meant to keep him safe from those who wanted to kill him... but maybe it was to keep him from the world, and not the other way around. It had been a week or so since he received a visitor, so perhaps--perhaps, if he was very lucky--maybe he would get another,and maybe the sandwiches wouldn't be so cold next time. Unlikely, on both accounts.

"Let me through!" shouted a distance voice. "Let me through! I already registered! Both our names are on the list and everything! Check the time! We have an appointment! Now let me through! I want to see this monster for myself!"

"Please contain yourself, miss," came another voice--the guard's. "We will let you by, bust you must control your actions. Some of the patients here react very negatively to loud noises." The woman stopped shouting for the time being, and Seifer had to wonder who it was, and which "monster" she wanted to see. In that asylum, there were many to choose from.

"Right this way," said the guard, and three pairs of footsteps walked down the long hallway. Seifer's cell was close to the end, so he anticipated that, unless they were visiting him, these footsteps would stop soon.


Drip... drip... drip...

Clonk, clonk, clonk...

Drip... drip... drip...

Clonk, clonk, clonk...

Drip... drip...


"Stupid faucet," he grumbled. One day, he said to himself, I should ask them to fix that thing. His thoughts temporarily fixed on the leaky faucet in his room, Seifer was unaware that the footsteps hehad heard earlier were getting closer to his cell. By the time he realizedthey were coming, he had broken his focus off the sink and wheeled around to see who was there to visit him. A look of genuine surprise reached his face as he saw the messenger girl from the Dollet mission, as well as a Galbadian sharpshooter with her. If he remembered hard enough, he could recall their names as Selphie and Irvine.

"I'll kill you!!!" screamed Selphie suddenly. She broke free from her civil stature and lurched at Seifer, who might have been torn to bits if he were not protected by an shield of Lexan glass. Selphie could onlyclaw and slam her fists against the hard substance, screaming and cursing violently at the man sitting worlds away from her.

"It's your fault they're dead!!!" she screamed. "It's all your fault! Cold-hearted murderer! Sick freakish demon! I wish you would go to Hell! Go to Hell, you animal!! Do you hear me?!?! GO... TO... HELL!!!!!" The girl continued to attack the glass in a vain hope of injuring the man behind it, and shed tears of hatred and sorrow as she continued to scream and yell at the man.

"Hold on, Selphie!" shouted Irvine as he held her back. "Get a hold of yourself, woman! He's trapped behind that glass! Hey! HEY!!" Selphie refused to cooperate, and continued to squirm and scream despite the grip Irvine had on her. Finally, after spewing out the darkest wordsof hatred she knew, she finally stopped struggling and calmed down, but thetears fell on.

Trembling slightly, she rummaged through the purse she had carried with her, and pulled out several papers with photos attached to it. Still crying herself bleary, Selphie approached Seifer's cell and held the papers out for him to see.

"Lance Bishop, age seventeen, majoring in field tactics and maneuvers, brown hair, green eyes, 5'8", 157 lbs." She then slipped the paper into the bin where Seifer got his food, and slipped it into the cell. Another paper came out, and with it, another name. "Shelbie Franklin, eighteen years old. Majoring in gunblades. She had her hair dyed green, and hadblue eyes. She was 5'11" and 162 lbs." Another paper was produced... "Kris Spencer, nineteen years old, majoring in marksmanship. He hadplatinum-blonde hair, blue eyes, was 5'11", and weighed 159 lbs. He had an older sister named Alex, a younger brother named Morgan, and a younger sister named Shaun. Melissa Traviss, fifteen years old! She was the librarian! She had brown hair tied up in a ponytail, and was recently transferredfrom Galbadia! She wore glasses, her favorite food was meatloaf, and her hobby was collecting pressed flowers!

"Do you know these people?!?!" she screamed. "Do you know anyof them, you sick freak?! Do you know who they were?!?! Of course not!! And do you know why?? Because you killed them all! You murdered every single one of them! You slaughtered them! You butchered them! Every person I have here was a victim, a victim of the Trabia missile attack,and I knew every single one of them! But... to you... you senseless, cold-hearted monster, they were just nameless faces! ...Trent Bishop!!!"

"Stop it, Selphie!" insisted Irvine, but the deranged young girldid not.

"Trent Bishop!" she continued. "Trabian, fourteen years old. Fourteen! Here, here... Jane Altswell! Sixteen years old, her dream was to get married and have three children! Three children!! Marcus Davies, thirteen years old! He had a crush on one of the instructors, Harriet Fisher, nineteen years old, who you also killed! David Lee, who liked to go ice-fishing! Dominic Williams, who skied when school was out! Leticia Gibbens, who was the overweight Prom Queen! Randolph Philips, who was the mentally-challenged Prom King! Quincy David Jones, the guy nobody noticed, who carried with him a Bible and who saved the life of a young man once! Aurelius Finster, the history buff! Instructor Lemmins, teaching geography! Instructor Bernhiltd, teacher of math! Janitor Regens, who only had one arm! Lunch Lady Doris, who made spaghetti on Wednesdays!"


"Here, look at them all!" screamed the girl, jamming the names and photos of every person that had been killed into Seifer's bin. "Lookat them, look at them! They're all dead, they're all DEAD!! You killed them, you killed every single one of them! I hate you, Seifer! I hate you! I hate you!! I hate you!!! I hate you!!" Selphie continued screaming and crying, until she was so out of control that Irvine and the guard had to drag her out of the asylum, as she continued to wail and moan and proclaim her hatred towards Seifer.


He was left alone with the images of ghosts, and a slight pain in his heart.


~~--Edea Kramer~~--


Seifer was left alone in the silence and the emptiness of the asylumfor some time. His only comfort was the bed he had been granted, the toilet he had, the faucet in his room, and those blessed times where he was allowed outside to exercise--with supervision, of course. But at the moment, he was left alone in his room, to allow the ghosts of the past to seep into hishead and roll around, playing themselves endlessly like screams from a broken jukebox.

I don't know what's happened to you... Even at your worst, you were never like this...

I am free, but what position are you in today?

Why did you do it?

It's your fault they're dead!!! It's all your fault! Cold-hearted murderer! I wish you would go to Hell!

You murdered every single one of them! You slaughtered them! You butchered them!

I hate you!!!

They would not stop. They would not allow Seifer the pleasure of peace, nor the sanity he so secretly craved. The entire world was bearing down upon him, and as time went by, more and more feelings of guilt and sorrow began to pile themselves upon him. Seifer's days were as dark as the cellhe was placed in, and the silence was as maddening as the invisible screamsof his own soul. Sometimes, at night, he would meet the ghosts of the people who died in Trabia. Other times, he would see Ultimecia perverting him, torturing him, enslaving him, and yet he would always walk one more step behind her, willing to suffer.

Seifer's madness grew quietly as he was allowed to rot in that cell, and the world revolved on around him. Days became nights, which turned into weeks, and life went on without him at all. The world revolved, leavinghim here inside this prison, alone and in the dark, where some people hopedand prayed that he would be forgotten. Seifer believed that since he had arrived in this place, he truly had been erased off of people's thoughts, and it was only a matter of time before even the guards themselves forgot that he was even there.


But a mother never forgets her own son.


One peaceful day, Seifer received his third visitor, an angel that carried both light and darkness on her slim shoulders. The woman was of middle age, slowly approaching eldership, yet she still carried with her the mark of beauty, dignity, and grace. Her face shined like an innocent child, and her golden eyes stared ahead of her as the guard led her to the cell. Shesat down on the chair, a short distance away from the world where Seifer lived, and pressed her pale hand against the Lexan glass. When Seifer opened his eyes and saw her smiling at him sadly, his heart sighed with relief and his spirits were calmed, for here was the only person in the world he ever knew to be his mother.

"...Matron," he addressed with a nod. "I was wondering when you would come see me. I knew you would, eventually. You and I had roughly the same situations, more or less... But I find it fitting that it is you who they love and forgive so easily, while I myself am being kept locked up behind this glass and in the bowels of this fortress." Edea Kramer merely smiled.

"I missed you, Seifer." He sighed, and rested his hand on the glass, mere millimeters and worlds away from where his one-time mother had placed her hand.

"Matron... it feels like I am in Hell here," he whispered.

"Perhaps you are, Seifer," she replied. "This is the Hell in which you have constructed for those who would go against Ultimecia's will, and now, you are placed inside your own creation to suffer because of yourmistakes and sins. Life itself may be Hell for those seeking absolution, but all things come with a cause."

"I was put in here for a reason," he spat sarcastically. Edea frowned sadly and stroked the glass that prevented her from comforting this tortured soul any further.

"Yes... and even I will not deny that this purpose was to purify you, Seifer. This loneliness, this emptiness, this suffering you feel, was meant to purge you from evil, and to make you reborn, like a phoenix."

"Phoenix, you say!" he barked. "Bah! I did what I did for a reason!"

"...I feel as if I have failed you, Seifer," moaned Edea sadly. "Almost all of my children turned out okay, but you... It was as if you were rebelling against everything from the moment you were born. Why, Seifer? Why did you betray so many people? Why did you turn your back on sanity? Why did you assist one who was so vile?"

"...I 'felt' her," he answered quietly. "Matron, you may understand what I mean, since you were briefly possessed by Ultimecia... butI felt that her hatred was not caused by her own will. I felt... somehow... that an outside force had been responsible for turning her into the monster we all knew and feared--the monster that Headmaster Cid and you prepared us to fight. She... was a victim, and... I 'felt' her, and... somewhere deep inside, I wanted to help this woman, this fair maiden. I wanted to... ease her tears, and to protect her, and..."

"But she was driven mad by hatred and power," answered Edea calmly. "...And so were you. Surely, you must feel as if there is nobody else in the world that loves you?"

"...I do," he sighed. Edea gave him a sad smile, and wished desperately to hold her "child".

"Yet a mother cannot help but love and cherish her own son," shesaid softly. "Seifer, if the world does turn against you, know you that I bear you love still, even though you may become a monster. I could not turn my back on the boy I raised like a son..."

"Mother..." Casting his eyes downward, feeling unworthy to lookinto the glowing face of his angelic "mother", Seifer could only stare and shiver, and allow what remained of his senses to dance around like demons. His breath was thin, almost nonexistent, and the cold chill he felt in the air made the silence deadlier. Edea took in a breath as well, and released it quietly.

"A mother can forgive her children," she said quietly. "New life will be given to replace the dead. Buildings and foundations can be rebuilt, old lives can start anew in the wake of war... Friends can be made and solidified through disaster, and the mettle of heroes can be tested through fire and doubt. Dear pilgrim, though you are now captured by Despair and Despondency, there will always be the key of Promise that can set you free. And Seifer?" A pause.


"Do not stray from the only companion you have with you," she said. "Listen to Hopeful. He will guide your spirit out of the Castle of Doubt and Despair, and eventually, you may become as a Shining One, on the road to Paradise. Each man, Seifer, must be washed with flames... and all sins must be accounted for. I wish I could only do more for you..."

"Mother..." Gazing eerily into the topaz eyes of Edea, Seifer quivered and lost all matter of pride and arrogance he once had. His hand burned to touch hers, his body grieved to be held in her loving arms, yet the infinite void of the merciless glass and his own bleak sanity kept him forever locked out, cast away from any contact at all. Edea smiled sadly, and kissed the glass before rising.

"Is it time to go?" she asked the guard. He affirmed it with a nod of his head, and the stately woman turned back towards her "son" fora farewell. "...Seifer... though you suffer now, I am sure that you willemerge from this ordeal a stronger man. Dear man, you must atone for what sins you have accomplished, and then, when you have been freed, you must serve those you once tried to destroy. Only by humbling yourself in this way, may you feel any satisfaction or peace. I must leave, Seifer..."

"...No...... Matron..."

"But I shall come visit you as often as I can," she concluded. "Take care... son..." With a sad and empty look, Matron Edea Kramer slowly turned away from Seifer, waving farewell as she returned from the mouthof Hell, and into the world of lights. Desperately, Seifer crushed himselfagainst the glass in a vain effort to free himself--or at least capture another glance at the only one he felt truly loved him.

"Mother!" he called. "Wait! Don't do this to me! Don't leave me here all alone! Mother! Matron! ...Mom!!"

"Get back, you!" grunted one of the guards as he brandished a rifle. Though both the guard and the prisoner knew that there was no breakingthe Lexan glass, Seifer struggled still, rebellious up until the end. Withhis head hanging sadly, he returned back to the cot, his only comfort in the world, and laid down on it. Sleep, comfort, and peace evaded him, as always, but the nightmares still came.

Mother... I am one who has lost Hope. I remember those stories you used to tell us, but... Despair has thrown me into this prison by myself. I am without anything--I have not even been given a scroll of hope, or a key of promise, or anything. I shall just... sit here, and look at the ceiling, and wait for the world to forget what I have done.


~~--Raijin & Fujin Kazeno~~--


Time passed Seifer by... but on the next day, he received a visitor who was so welcome that it made him smile again--no, two visitors. The sight of them sent Seifer breathing with relief, and the young man could almost feel joy again as he saw them. They were society's rejects, much like him, but together, they were like a family, a... "posse". One was abnormal on the outside: an albino, with a red-hot glare and a brief way with words. Cancer had claimed one of her sensitive eyes already, but in the darkness of the prison, she seemed to glow. The other, taller and more buff than his counterpart, was lacking in mental capacity, though he had a fondness for life and fishing, and a few secrets only Seifer knew of.

"Hey, man!" greeted the tall, dark-skinned man. "Heheheh... Iguess they really did throw ya in prison, heh! So, what's it like? You been defiled by any of the other inmates?" The man chuckled, but was instantly punished for his comment by his comrade, who gave the taller one a swift kick in the shins.

"SILENCE!" she barked. The woman's irritation faded when she looked at Seifer, and a heartbreaking look of utter and unhidden sadness wasplain on her pale face. Like Edea, her hand touched the glass, and Seifer's hand touched the opposite side. The woman sighed, and whispered to one of the few friends she had.

"Seifer... my heart mourns every second you are in here," she said in her gravely voice. "I can't imagine the suffering you must be going through right now. To be trapped inside that room, without anyone to be with or to even touch, except when other people say so, and to live with nothing else but a bed and a faucet--"

"And a toilet," added her compatriot. She nodded her head curtly.

"...It's more than I can bear," she resumed. The woman restedher forehead against the glass and sighed, creating a brief ghost of breathon the glass. Seifer would have given a gallon of his own blood just to have that breath touch his skin.

"It's the most horrible thing ever, havin' you being locked uplike that, ya know?" agreed the dark-skinned man. "Things have been too quiet and boring without you, man... And do you realize how vulnerable both Fu and I feel now that you're not there with us? Hey, I mean, you werethe only kid with the 'guts' enough to step up and talk to us. You're like... our light, man, ya know!"

"...Light," grumbled Seifer. "You guys... I was the one who led both of you down the wrong path. You should have just... let me be. I don't deserve the kind of people you two are. Fitting, though, how the 'freaks' and 'retards' of the world are oftentimes the greatest friendsone can find."

"You must be thinking an awful lot," commented the pale female. "Seifer... it's true that you have done--no, we have done thingsinexcusable. Our crimes were deep and dark, perhaps even unforgivable. Yet do you know how much I would give up, so that I would be imprisoned with you?"

"Yeah, I can guess," he sighed sadly. "Fujin... Raijin... youtwo are about the only people in the world, besides Matron, who would ever love a 'demon' like me now. Heh... I came in here feeling so cocky and arrogant, and feeding off my own insanity..." He paused, and sprawled hisarms and forehead against the glass, where Fujin desperately tried to connect her own self on.

"But recently... I've been breaking down. The Seifer that was so sure of himself has now been reduced to a puddle of his former glory. I am going sick and tired, sick of being trapped in here, away from the people I should have been with all along... Forced to writhe in the miseries of mypast, and forced to remember so many screams. 'I hate you', 'You murderer', 'Go to Hell', 'You are atoning for your sins', 'Stop this madness', 'You are going too far', and let's not forget the classic 'We love you, and we are concerned for you, so please... stop...' ...Stop..."

"You paid attention to me?" whispered Fujin. Seifer sighed sadly, and gazed into her single red eye.

"I heard every word, even the ones you never said. Even when you do not talk, Fu, I can still hear you. And Raijin... well, you always talk your mind, so everyone else understands you. Heh, you even make surethat people understand you... ya know?"

"Affirmative," he saluted, trying to imitate his sister. She gave him a look, but decided not to punish him--yet. Seifer let out a sigh, and hung his head lower than he thought gravity could take him. Quietly, as Fujin stroked the glass that kept her from him, she slipped a letter into the bin, which would have added to a collection of dead names and faces if he hadn't removed them already.

"COMFORT," she said ambiguously, "...IN THE LETTER." Seiferlooked up, and saw that there was indeed a letter in his bin. He didn't retrieve it just yet--every second spent with those he loved was precious. Just then, however, as if to mock him even further, the guard strolled by, whistling mercilessly and swinging his nightstick.

"Time's up," he said. "Time for you two to go. You can come back and do whatever tomorrow." Fujin and Raijin made sour faces at theguard, but neither could go against the rules. With a sad sigh, Raijin turned around and waved farewell.

"Time flies, eh?" he said, trying to lighten the atmosphere. Itfailed. "Well, uh... Seifer... I'll, uh, try'n put in a good word to the people upstairs, ya know? See if I can't convince them to, uh... well, go easy on you. I mean, there ain't no sense to let you suffer even more, ya know? Not even Ultimecia deserves such bad stuff to happen to her. ...Well, uh... so long, I guess..."

"Wait... Raijin..." But the big guy was already off, leaving Fujin and Seifer by themselves. The green-eyed blonde gave Fujin the saddest,most desperate, most heart-wrenching look ever, yet she returned it with that same empty, mysterious, beautiful gaze.

"...WILL MISS YOU," she said, and she leaned over to kiss the glass, just as Edea had done so before. In a fit of sadness, or perhaps madness, or perhaps desperation, Seifer leaned in and kissed the opposite side ofthe glass. The two never touched, not even to brush up against each other,but in that moment, Seifer felt closer to a human being than he ever had inyears. He might have even shed a tear or two as Fujin silently left.




Inside the letter she gave him were only five words, but their powermade Seifer's ordeal seem easier to handle. Scrawled neatly, like every stroke of the pen was etched with love, were the words "I love you. Stay hopeful."


~~--Quistis Trepe--~~


Darkness now consumed the cell in which he lived. The entire asylumhad been thrust inside the bleakest, dying pit of emptiness, but the most unholy place of them all was where Seifer resided. He would often go for hours just standing there and staring, peering out beyond his glass prison at the world outside. He would go insane from wonder and curiosity and whether people were better off without him for not. Perhaps only the faces of Matron and his two closest friends kept him from slipping into the void, or allowing Death the chance to claim him.

Seifer became ill--ill in the head, ill in the stomach, ill in the pit of his soul... He grew mad, raving mad, and soon his insanity became so great that he forgot why he was placed in the prison in the first place. Hedesperately wanted to see Matron again, and he desperately wanted to hear Raijin crack jokes, or Fujin give him those haunting smiles she usually had for him. He would have spilt blood needlessly down the drain for a chance totalk with Rinoa, and as the days trudged onward, he even began to wish for the opportunity to apologize to Selphie.

"I will become a slave unto the Remnants, if it means purification," he once said to himself (sometimes, his reflection was the only voice of reason he had). "I will bend my back for but a chance to gain back my soul. I will curse my own head for but a single opportunity to rebuild even one shack. I would give my own body--anything, rather than staying here, and suffering alone."


I... don't wanna be left alone in the dark...

"Boy... boy... boy... boy..."

I'm just a boy, alone and scared in the dark, and I don't even know what I'm doing here.



Seifer leaned up against the accursed glass that kept him from beinghuman--the Lexan which only the keys of the guards could break, and not, asMatron had said, the key of Promise. He leaned up against it and drooled on it, and banged his head up against it, and withered away inwardly, and crumbled to the floor. He became disgusted with everything, and laughed for noreason, and would have made friends with the rats if there were any. He was so lonesome that, if it were possible, the faucet and the bed and the toilet he had been given would be his friends. But nobody loved him, nobody visited him--except those three loyal ones, and a few who wanted to wield gavels and judge.

"They have every right," he reminded himself. "You killed a lot of people. You made love to a wicked, tortured Sorceress and produced anillegitimate child of war and hatred and terror. The grievances of the world were the birth pains, and upon the day of 'Birth', there was no causefor celebration."

Seifer had reduced to talking with himself long ago, in order to hang onto the seeping sands of his sanity. The guards, when they showed themselves, were more precious than the next heartbeat, and to hear a footstep, even one, made his heart leap with hope. He did not have the luxury of knowing the day--for all he knew, he had been trapped in that asylum for months onend.

"Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, join the dance?" he would sing sometimes. "Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, join the dance?"



One day, during one of Seifer's extremely dark moments, a visitor came to him. This was not Matron, nor Sis, nor Fujin, nor Raijin, nor Rinoa, nor even Selphie, nor even Squall or Zell. Seifer had honestly expected to see anybody but this one woman come to him--but he would welcome even Satan himself.

"Hello, Instructor Trepe," he growled darkly. Quistis, who sat down on the chair that had been placed worlds away from the cell, folded herarms neatly on her lap and examined her one-time student. For no reason whatsoever, Seifer suddenly recalled a passage of scripture he had once bothered to read, and wondered if the stray thought had anything to do with the present moment.

"...Seifer," addressed his former teacher.

"God could have created man and woman perfectly, but if He did,then they would not help each other out. The fact that these angels have only one wing each symbolizes this.

"Are you here to pay a visit to the chained lion?" hissed Seifer. Quistis gave him an unreadable look.

"I heard from Rinoa and Matron that you were here," she said. "I wanted to have a discussion with you, person-to-person."

"Did you, now?" he leered. "Well, make yourself comfortable. I'd be glad to talk with my favorite teacher." His compliment went unreceived, and Quistis cleared her throat before speaking.

"Seifer, I am not here to make judgment," she began. "I do not wish to know why you did what you did, or why you felt the need to do suchthings. Even madmen must have, at times, their own reasons. As a matter of fact, in this game called life, I must wonder why a woman such as Ultimecia would despise the Gardens so much. What truly began their hunt for Sorceresses, and what truly made Ultimecia go mad with hatred? They say that evilpeople are not born, but instead are made through circumstance, and in thiscase, I believe it."

"Then we are agreed," he stated excitedly. "Quistis--I mean, Instructor Trepe, I believe the same thing that you do! I once thought thatUltimecia was merely a warped, troubled soul, much like myself, and I thought... perhaps... I could reach out to her, and... 'help' her, and be theknight she never got the chance to have."


Strange... but when I really think about it, didn't Ultimecia have one wing?


"You... sympathized for her? For the 'enemy'?"

"You really think that's something I'd do?" he asked. Quistis put her hand to her chin and gave it an honest thought.

"...I don't know you that well. Perhaps. But... Seifer... did you really feel that way when you were obeying her orders?"

"She was as lost of a soul as I was," he replied. "Looking for love in a world that hated her kind, searching for those pure-hearted oneswho would protect her from harm, wanting to find peace, and reason, and truth, and... beauty..." That last word had been whispered out as Seifer gazed at Quistis, a lovely image in her own right, but downright stunning in a dank place like the asylum. Seifer just had to wonder how many wings she had.

"Your 'romantic dream' again?" she said. Seifer smirked.

"I don't know. Say, Instructor, have you heard the legend of the Stars of Destiny? How each of us is born under our own star, and how eachof us has their own destiny. It is said that when the stars we are born under and the destinies we are tied to come together--the 'stars of destiny'--that our fulfillment in life will be complete, and another verse to the song of life will be sung. Does this ring any bells?"

"...Not particularly," she admitted. "You must have studied abit more than I was aware of. But what's your point?"

"My point is that I had a purpose in life as well. Maybe... Seifer Almasy is destined to help those who are unloved. Maybe, I was meant to be the light to those who only had darkness, the comfort to those with hard lives, and the friend to the lonely. Yet here I am, alone in the darkness myself--how ironic!" He chuckled joylessly, mostly unaware of thecondition of his visitor.

All the while he had been ranting about his lot and purpose in life,Quistis had been absorbing every breath he exhaled. The part about being"the light to those who only had darkness" rang out to her the loudest,and "the comfort to those with hard lives" twisted a familiar chord in her own soul. Quistis could see what he meant--after all, both Fujin and Raijin had been pretty much rejects before Seifer popped on by, and then therewas the hopeless rebel group, the "Forest Owls", and then, Ultimecia, who Seifer claimed had been the darkest and most hopeless soul of them all.

"You are destined to help those who are unloved..." She trailedoff, probably unheard by Seifer, and thoughts of her past relationships came back to haunt her, in ways she never wanted to experience again.

Go talk to a wall.

A misunderstood love?

I gave up completely...

Am I... a failure?

Destined to help those who are unloved...

...Help... "me"...


"Hey, Instructor?" Quistis snapped out of her daydream, and took a closer, more thorough look at hr one-time student. Being confined behind that glass made him seem more vulnerable, more desperate, more... admirable, perhaps, than if he had been out there in person. Quistis was beginning to feel pity for him, as she usually would for those in trouble or in need, and perhaps, somewhere in the ashes of pity, there was a smell of understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, and perhaps even love.

"Yo, Quistis!" barked Seifer again. "You with us? Or are youdreaming about something? Better not be me! We wouldn't want to despoilthat pure mind of yours now, would we?"


"What?" A pause.

"......It's nothing," she sighed at last. "Forget about it. I'll... keep your words on mind."

"Are you going already?" he blurted suddenly. Almasy became animated, and bolted out of his cot and slammed himself against the glass. "Instructor, no! Wait! I, I... Please! I'm so lonely out here that I'm about to die!"

"...Seifer..." Quistis sighed again, and a sense of déjà vu struck Seifer as she placed her gloved hand on the glass. Seifer dared not to touch the opposite side, for fear of spoiling such a beauty, yet he burned for human contact more than anything else.

"I... empathize with you," she whispered gently. Quistis gave him a sad smile, the first time her mouth had really curled up all day, and slowly, she released her fingers from the glass. Seifer finally broke down, after bearing so many gruesome burdens, and screamed out for her as she left. Tears began to form, but he refused to give them freedom. If he could not be released, then neither could they.

"Wait, Quistis! Please! Please, come back! I... I..."


You are my only hope, Instructor. My hope, and my promise.


"I'll see you again, some other time," she muttered. Seifer screamed and slammed himself against the glass as she vanished from sight, but this time, he would refuse to give up.

"No! NO!! ...Let me out!! Let me out of here! Let me out! I have to get out!!! I have to!! I have to!! Get me outta here!! Let me out!!"

"Quiet, you!!" snapped the guard as he aimed his rifle at the glass. "If you don't shut up, I'll open this gate and shut you up myself! Now be still!!!" Seifer grimaced in absolute horror, but the only thing he could do was moan, and sink down to the floor, weighted down by the countless burdens on his shoulders, and by specters of the past.

"...No," he moaned, weeping openly. His breathing became long and heaving, and with all hope and promise gone, Seifer began to bitterly mumble out his hopelessness. "...Would not, could not... Would not, could not... Ohh... would not, could not join the dance."



The End