Final Fantasy VIII and all the characters belong to Square.

 

~*Knight of Sunset*~

By Ashbear

Ashbear1972@yahoo.com

 

 

What lies behind us and what lies
ahead of us are tiny matters compared
to what lives within us.
- Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 ~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Balamb always seemed peaceful. It was the tranquility one looks for in the recesses of your mind. The salty ocean air filled her senses as the waves gently greeted the shore. The white foam tenderly melted back into the surf, leaving only scattered ocean debris and a layer of damp sand. Her long strands of blonde hair clung to her face from the sheer humidity in the air. Slowly she walked in the dry sand above of tides reach. There was a calmness that soothed her here among the seas, maybe something carried over from her childhood days.

 

When tired of walking, she allowed her body to fall gently into the sand. She sat with her legs in front of her as granules danced on her skin. Sunset was always her favorite time of night. Quistis had made this journey several times within the last year to the desolate beach. The defeat of Ultimecia had been hard on them all, each dealt with the consequences their own way.

 

Yet, she always seemed to be alone.

 

A strange sense of foreboding washed over her, as a sudden chill took her body. Watching the sun indirectly, as the reflections off the waves were too blinding to look upon completely.

 

Then she realized; she was no longer alone.

 

If training had taught her one thing, it was to sense the presence of those around. Quickly she braced herself into the sand, preparing to rise, when a hand was laid upon her shoulder.

 

"Don't get up," a rough voice chided over the ocean calls.

 

Fear momentarily paralyzed her, as she recalled the voice. "Seifer?" she said with more fear than questioning.

 

"Yeah, instructor," he answered in a smugness that could only be him. "Don't get up on my account. Promise, Iím not going to hurt you."

 

Turning her head, she stared directly into the eyes of the man, who once tried to end their lives. Yet, there was something there she had never noticed before. The usually cocky glare was now replaced with more the look of sorrow. Outward appearances still seemed the same; less the trench coat in the hot summer air. His face still bore the scar that mirrored Squall's, a constant reminder of both their failures... and accomplishments.

 

"May I have a seat?" he asked unsure of her reply.

 

"I don't own the beach Seifer; you are free to sit anywhere you like."

 

Normally, had you told her she would be running into the ex-knight, Quistis Trepe would have been terrified at the very thought. Or, if in the right mood, she would have yelled at him for all the pain he caused so long ago. But, he caught her on a good day, at least for him. Her inner self had no desire to fight, in a strange off-handed way she welcomed the company. Even from someone dubbed her enemy.

 

"You come out here a lot?"

 

"Seifer Almasy... are you trying to have a normal conversation, with me?" The question sounded more the joke, but each knew it wasn't.

 

"Maybe. Seems like the right thing to do. I mean it's not often that I could run into someone from my past, without having a gunblade shoved in my face... not that I don't deserve it."

 

Watching as two seagulls played a game of aerial tag, she smoothed the hair off her face. Psychologically wondering about the man sitting beside her, and all the pain he caused. She often questioned why he had done the betrayal, but of course, he wasn't around to ask. Suddenly she looked at this as a challenge, to learn more about his actions. Maybe by understanding him, she could be a better teacher, watching for signs in her other students... before they too, betrayed SeeD.

 

For the first time, she turned to him, blue eyes locking. "Why Seifer?" It was a simple question, but they both understood the implications.

 

"You mean why did I become Ultimecia's knight?"

 

Shaking her head, she answered, "No... why did you want to become a knight? We all know the end results but what lead you to the dream? Did you just wake up one morning saying, 'I want to become a sorceress' knight?' or was there more to it?"

 

Breaking the eye contact, he suddenly felt a need to leave. The question he thought she'd ask, the one he already has his planned cookie-cutter answer... wasn't the one asked. What she did ask... well, it was too difficult to fathom. Even for him. So, he did what Seifer did best, turned it back on her, trying to be as smug as possible.

 

"What the Hell does that matter? I don't go around asking you why you became an instructor... the chance just came up. So, I took it. Happy?"

 

"No," she plainly stated. "You still didn't answer my question. It's like asking why is the sky blue... without first understanding what the sky is. In order to truly understand the reason, I must understand the desire."

 

Grabbing some broken shells, he threw them angrily out into the ocean. She watched as they disappeared into the dark waters. Maybe it truly was just an instructor, trying to understand her student better. On the other hand, maybe it was a friend trying to help another friend in need. At this point, she wasn't sure. But, she damn well was going to find out. Quistis was surprised as the man beside her stood up quickly, brushing stray grains of sand off his clothes. As she turned to look at him, he offered his hand to her.

 

"Let's go for a walk."

 

Shocked at her own actions, or the lack of thinking, she accepted his proposal as he helped her to her feet. She took her shoes off as they strolled together in the surf. The water gently played with her bare feet, as the earth melted between each toe. His boots remained on, as he seemed oblivious to the water cascading over them.

 

"When I was twelve," he began hesitantly. "I received a letter from..." Stopping in mid sentence, he looked her in the eyes. "Why am I telling you this again? I've never told anybody else about... not even Fujin or Raijin."

 

Continuing down the beach, she answered, "Maybe because you want to. Maybe it's something you've been wanting to talk about for a long time... just afraid."

 

A half-laugh escaped his lips, as he thought, "Afraid? Me afraid? Maybe."

 

He inhaled deeply letting the salty air tickle his senses, before releasing is breathe aloud. Inside he was a nervous wreck, outside he tried to remain his cool-collected self.

 

"When I was twelve, Cid called me up to his office. I figured it was for something I'd done... like shaving chicken-wuss bald when he was asleep... and before you ask. Yes, that was me... like you didn't know." She had to laugh at his admission, plus the vivid memories of a pre-teen Zell bald.

 

He slowly continued, "I actually received a package from the Galbadian government... from my father. Sometimes you are better off not knowing about your biological parents, maybe... I would have been. My father was a Major with the army, during the first sorceress war. To make a long story short... he betrayed them, Galbadia, and joined Esthar. Guess the fruit really doesn't fall far from the tree does it?"

 

"Seifer..." she said in her sisterly voice, rather than her instructor tone. "Please, don't worry about that now. I'm here to listen...continue."

 

"Yeah, anyway I got a box of his belongings. He'd been killed in one of the battles that Galbadia fought against Adel. The bastard was her knight. Adel's fucking knight."

 

Quistis stopped suddenly, freezing at the thought. "Seifer... I don't remember Adel having a knight. There were no reports of it, history taught us that she was alone... and that's why her spirit was dominated by a darker force."

 

Momentarily, he stopped when she did. Shaking his head, he continued along the surf without her. "History is wrong. That is what Galbadia wanted people to believe. Do you think they wanted to advertise one of their troops joined the enemy? After the war, Esthar all but disappeared. History has a way of writing itself when it's only told from one side."

 

She could hear the pain in his voice; this must be killing him to talk about. Not only had he been burdened with his failures, but also his fathers.

 

At such an early age, he carried such guilt.

 

"So anyway, Cid gave me his belongings... one being the Hyperion that I carry. At first, I couldn't stand the sight of it... but as time went by, I started studying knighthood more. It became an obsession with me, one I felt like I had to hide from everyone else. After so long, I became fascinated by my fathers' life, and his failures. I was determined that I could do what he couldn't. Where he failed, I could prevail. I hated him for abandoning me. My mother been killed during the war years before, when I was a baby... that's how I arrived at the orphanage. And the rest is what they call history..."

 

Reaching her hand out to him, she gently grabbed his arm forcing him to stop.

 

"So you made his mistakes. You survived. Maybe you can be stronger than your father, by seeking the forgiveness he never could. Seifer there is more to being a knight than having a sorceress."

 

"Don't tell that to Squall," he spat back at her.

 

"No, Seifer. Squall knows," she tried to explain. "You've been gone for awhile. If you had been around you would see there is so much more... it wasn't like it just 'happened'. Nor has he become a full-fledged knight yet. But see, you never loved Ultimecia... you loved the dream. The fantasy. Not the reality. Squall trains twice as hard now, it's not glamorous, there are no floats or prestige... but he loves Rinoa. That's the difference; he loves her with all his heart. You will always fail if there is no love. My guess is your father's story was similar."

 

For a second he found himself contemplating her words. Damn it, she was right.

 

"I didnít remember before. I mean... I'd forgotten our childhood too. You guys, Matron, and the orphanage... she opened my mind to that. I had the chance to see my childhood through her eyes. But only bits and pieces, illusions she created and manipulated to fit her own twisted purposes."

 

"Like what," she questioned edging him on.

 

"The negative parts... only the negative parts. Squall and I fighting, Ellone abandoning us, and everyone hating me... that's what I saw. Only after her defeat, did I remember the good times."

 

"Good times?" she questioned. Trying desperately to recall any. All her memories were much the same as Seifer described. Maybe a few more she care not mention to him, involving Squall... but basically the same.

 

Grabbing her bare hand, Seifer stopped her from her forward motion. "You don't remember either, do you?" He looked a slight bit disappointed, but slightly amused in having information she had long since forgotten. She shook her head, a slight smile on her delicate features trying to cover her sorrow. "Yeah, well let me help you remember."

 

She wasn't aware of much as he grabbed her by the waist, picking her off the ground. Too shocked to struggle, she felt completely helpless. He ran toward the ocean, never stopping as the water level rose on his person. The realization hit her she was going to be submerged, however it was a little late to fight back. The cold ocean water was a chilling contrast to the August humidity. The water did offer relief as she found herself reaching for the surface. Gasping for air she emerged, not quite mad, not quite laughing... a content medium.

 

"Do you remember now?" he asked looking the equivalent of a drown rat. "You girls used to get so mad at me for this, but the boys always were on the beach hysterical. They actually would cheer me on."

 

Almost feeling guilty about not remembering the past, she pictured the scene vividly in her head, yet the memory still seemed to belong to someone else. Like as if reading it from a book or watching an old home movie.

 

"Seifer I..." biting her lip she tried to continue.

 

He swam toward her, still in complete clothes and shoes. "Don't worry about it Quistis. I do. I remember now. That's what I've had to hold onto the last year. Those few happy memories when we all got along... when people liked me."

 

Reaching for his arms she stood, the salty water drying her skin. "They could like you again... do you trust me?"

 

Smirking at her for a moment, he watched as golden and red hues of the sunset reflected off her eyes. He believed her. For some unknown reason, he did trust her. Even after everything that happened... he trusted her.

 

"Yeah, Quistis Trepe... I really think I do."

 

Smiling back at him, a plea within her eyes. She stated simply, "Then come back to Garden."

 

 

 

 ~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Together they walked a quarter mile, neither speaking a word. There is always a solace within the comfort of silence. The journey in itself was a good hour walk, and Quistis loved the time alone, but at present, she loved the time in his company. Today's journey proved slightly more difficult, as the humidity made it almost impossible for her clothes to dry. Not to mention, she sadly lost her shoes when he tossed her in the water. However, she didn't care. Right now, she was grateful for the opportunity to help one of her former students; moreover, someone she believed to be part of her family.

 

The sun had now started to fall, but the colors on the horizon remained vibrant.

 

"She told me that the past could be changed," he spoke quietly, embarrassment in his voice. "I actually believed her. Maybe next time I would have passed the exam, and been somebody... not the screw-up that everyone thought."

 

It was a question she wanted to ask, but never expected an answer from. Seifer Almasy voluntary, without coercion, tried to explain his actions... and what led him to the decision. One that would forever haunt him, and those whose lives he touched.

 

"Seifer... we never thought you were a screw-up. Yes, you did have behavioral problems, but maybe, I was just too busy to see what was really bothering you. I blame myself."

 

Shaking his head, she could tell he was upset. The man placed his right hand to his forehead, a sound between a laugh and an angry sigh escaped his lips.

 

"Geez... Is that all you think about, what you could have done? Let me tell you, I don't think you could've done anything for me back then. The choice was mine; I made it. I set myself up for the fall, but falling was the only thing that could bring me back down. I needed the failure... hell; it was the one thing I was good at."

 

Now she was the one to remain silent. The tide had been rising steadily for the duration, and now what used to be over her toes now covered her ankles. She saw a hill up ahead, and the grassy side it offered. Silently she led him to the knoll, and he followed without question. The dirt mixed with her wet feet creating a mud, which now coated her toes. As she sat down, Quistis attempted to brush what new formed mud she could off her skin. Never looking at him, she tried her best to comfort him using only her words.

 

"Seifer, you were good at several things at Garden. Please don't say that. You were... are still one of the best Gunblade specialists that Garden has trained."

 

"Yeah... but I came in second to Leonhart. Even if I beat him... I always was second, to the instructors, to fellow students... to you. Always."

 

"Seifer, you know that is not true. I looked upon you as equals; you two were the best students I ever had... I might have favored him a little more, but that was my problem. I lost my teaching credentials because of it."

 

"Favored him a little more? That is like saying a Ruby Dragon is a little more difficult to fight than a bite bug... a dead bite bug even."

 

She had to laugh at his analogy. Unfortunately, it was true. She pulled out a scarlet barrette from her pocket, managing to gather long strands of hair up. Again, her hairstyle was the way he remembered, the unique way Quistis Trepe had of wearing it, something that only belonged to her. Sighing outwardly, she closed her eyes, feeling the warmth of the setting sun upon her face.

 

"They're engaged. It was just announced today."

 

Watching her face as it glistened with sweat and rays from the sun, his heart reached out for her. He knew the feeling of failure... not that she failed. However, it wasn't the engagement; it was the loneliness that dismayed her. Seifer Almasy completely understood her unease.

 

"Quistis... you're not upset they're getting married, are you? You're upset because it only makes you feel that much more alone. Everybody has found someone but you... and the one person you thought would never be in a stable relationship is, and from what you can tell it's perfect."

 

Damn him again.

 

How could she have not seen how similar they were before? Not only had he said it better than she ever could, he could sympathize the feelings, not only empathize.

 

"Well, I can tell you as a fact it's not perfect," she tried to say jokingly, although it came up flat. "But yeah... I mean itís Squall Leonhart for Hynes sake... the guy who never went on a date in his life. For him love just walked in a cream-colored dress, and pointed to the stars. But those of us who were trying... we weren't so lucky."

 

"Maybe you were trying too hard... and never stopped to look in front of you," he said looking deep into her eyes. Realizing he was technically 'in front of her' right now, Seifer desperately wished that he could retract that statement. Moving his fingers across his scar, he turned away uncomfortable.

 

"Ah... I have no idea what I meant, could we pretend I didn't say that."

 

For the first time since Seifer chanced upon her, the instructor felt awkward again. Not the fear from earlier, but a strange sense of uneasiness. From how personal their conversation was getting. Contrary to belief, Quistis Trepe was not the type to show outward emotion; except on rare occasions. She tried to cover up his obvious embarrassment by writing it off as a joke... although the words haunted her.

 

"Pretend you didn't say what?" the instructor teased smiling at him. "Nice job Quistis," she thought, "make yourself look like a total idiot."

 

"Ah... yeah. So I guess that's what you're doing out here by yourself Instructor? Don't you know it's not safe to be out here alone? You never know the kind of riff-raff you might run into."

 

"I'm a big girl Seifer, I'll take my chances. But yeah... I just needed to get away from everyone for a while. Just time by myself, not to be who they think I am... whether it is the instructor, the Trepies focus of worship, or the happy bridesmaid."

 

"So who are you right now?" he asked hesitation in his voice.

 

She thought about the question for a moment. No answer really popped clearly into her head. Therefore, that would only leave the obvious choice.

 

Smiling at him in content, she said, "I'm... Quistis Trepe."

 

For it was true. Right now she wasn't hiding behind masks and facades... she was just being her. Something she couldn't remember doing around another living soul in a long time.

 

"So, Quistis Trepe, you really think they aren't going to kill me on sight?"

 

Laughing aloud she answered, "I never said that... I'm pretty sure you'll be toast for a while. But, they're your family. Everyone makes mistakes; they will forgive you in time. The first step is to ask forgiveness, without that, you will always be an outsider. You will fit in again, and it will be like old times."

 

"I don't remember going to many family functions that involved sacrificing family members," he replied acting light-hearted over the past mistakes. "Hey, look it's time to sacrifice Aunt Rinoa onto the barbeque fire... then viciously challenge Uncle Squall to a gunblade duel over the last of the potato salad."

 

"Hey," Quistis laughed. "Actually I went to a few family outings that ended up like that. That might have been one of the better scenarios."

 

"Family?" he questioned. Then hoped he hadn't offended her with the tone in his voice.

 

"My adoptive family... the Trepe's. Things really didn't work out there; it was only a matter of time before I ended up at Garden."

 

In all his memories, he never thought about the two of the orphanage gang who had been adopted. Zell and Quistis had another family, if not by blood, that the others could never claim.

 

"Oh... sorry I forgot about that. Do you still keep in contact with them?"

 

"Sometimes," she tried hard not to let tears come to her eyes. "I think that was my greatest failure... I felt like I wasn't good enough for them. By that time, I was older, and they had really wanted a baby... I just came with a lot of emotional baggage they couldn't handle. Don't get me wrong, I love them for trying... but I found my real family. You... er... the ones from Matrons. I could never ask for anything more."

 

"I ruined it, didn't I? Everyone was happy before I came into the picture?"

 

Turning to him, she put her hand on his cheek, making him look her in the eye.

 

"You didn't ruin anything. It was time, fate, and circumstance. No one action destroyed anything, no one action saved anything."

 

Their eyes locked. Quistis couldn't help the smile on her face, or noticing the contact of their skin. It seemed so foreign, yet so familiar. His eyes looked deep within her soul, and she could feel a chill in the hot August air.

 

"Instructor, do you remember the time I kissed you?"

 

Her eyes widened, and a sudden apprehension took over. Nowhere in her memory had she ever kissed Seifer Almasy, she was sure that would register. Chuckling at the fear in her reaction, he had to help her out of this situation. Feeling her body tense, she looked more the frightened child.

 

"Seifer... I never..."

 

Cutting her off he smiled, "Yes, you did. It was one of the memories, which surfaced later. We were at the orphanage, before Sis left, and playing hide and seek. You and I both managed to go behind the wood shed, and hid in the tall grass. Selphie was trying to find us, but Irvine kept pulling on her skirt... so she ended up chasing him around screaming. So, that left you and me."

 

Reaching back into the depths of her mind, she pictured the scenario. He was right. She remembered him leaning over and kissing her quickly. Her eyes were shocked at the action; they were all but four years old. Then it came back.

 

"I... I slapped you afterward, and then you pulled one of my pigtails... we both got in big trouble. But, neither of us would say what started it. We were both too embarrassed," she said her cheeks blushing.

 

"Yeah... didn't want the other guys thinking I was 'uncool' cuz I kissed a girl; you didn't want the girls to think you had 'boy cooties'... so it was our secret... forever."

 

"Forever," she replied remembering their pact. "We said it was our secret forever... and swore if we told, the other one would have to eat worms."

 

"I still have never needed to eat a worm to this day," he said smugly. "You?"

 

"No," she whispered. "But I remember now. It wasn't because I thought you had cooties. It was because I thought you were really cute, and didn't want the others finding out that I liked...."

 

His eyes lingered on her a little bit longer before closing to a smaller distance between them.

 

"Quistis, tell you a secret. I did it, because I thought you were cute."

 

With those words, he filled the last centimeters as their lips touched for the first time in fifteen years.

 

Something in the kiss seemed familiar, yet unknown. It was not one of great length, but its importance would signify more than either could know...

 

Quistis was the first one to break away. "Seifer, I can't do this... it's just too sudden. I... I don't know how I feel, you don't know how you feel... let's just...."

 

"I'll wait," he said looking into her eyes.

 

Standing up, he offered her a hand. "Come on it's getting dark. We have a Garden to crash."

 

Accepting it his arm, she gracefully stood up. A look of mutual understanding passed between them... it was too soon. But, not all together impossible.

 

"Hey Quistis," he said playfully. "Thanks for not slapping me this time."

 

 

 ~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

They walked until the daylight was almost swallowed by the night. Twinkling stars dispersed within scattered patterns in the sky. The air was still humid, and the summer months seemed to offer no relief in the near future. Seifer looked back up into the last streaks of blue sky off the horizon. Remembering the question that she had mused earlier, he had to ask.

 

"Instructor, why is the sky blue?"

 

"What!?"

 

"You said earlier, it's like asking why the sky is blue, without understanding it. Let's say... I want to understand the sky."

 

"Um... Seifer, that was just a rhetorical question really. I would have to get back to you on that one. I'm sure it has something to do with the reflecting of light on the atmosphere... that is what I always understood."

 

"Yes, but why can't we just look at the sky... say its blue... and not try to understand it? Why does everything have to have a deeper meaning? Can't we just accept it at face value, accepted for what it is?"

 

She stopped again along the shore. "That... is.... Seifer that is one of the first things you have ever said that seems sincere. Do you think you could learn to live by that?"

 

"Sure, I can handle taking things at face value... like when people say that we are a couple."

 

The instructor was taken back with that comment. "Excuse me?" She slyly raised an eyebrow at him. "Us... a couple?"

 

"It's going to happen." He said starting to walk on without her.

 

She ran a few steps in the wet sand, trying to catch up with him. "Seifer Almasy, why would anyone think we would end up together?"

 

"Well, because we're the underdogs."

 

"What!?"

 

"Okay, okay... have you ever read a book when the hero gets the girl?"

 

"Um... Yes, I think that is just about every book known to man."

 

"Right." Placing a hand to his head, he smoothed out his hair.

 

"Okay, your point?"

 

"Well now, can every person be the hero or heroine? Or is the vast majority of society more like the evil-step sisters and trolls?"

 

"Seifer," she giggled. "Are you saying that you're a troll?"

 

"Geesh, work with me for a moment here. What I'm saying, is that nobody is perfect. Maybe a side of us can relate to the stepsister, more than they can associate to the princess. Or troll as the case may be. Sometimes we identify more with the supporting characters of a book, and all their faults, then with the perfect hero's."

 

"So, you think the troll and the evil stepsister should run off?"

 

"Okay Trepe, you're just doing this to annoy me now."

 

"Meee?" The mischievous side of the instructor showing.

 

"Hero's never fail in books; only in real life. May be, for once, people would like to cheer for the troll to get the girl. But, that never happens."

 

"Seifer, I swear... you are calling yourself a troll."

 

Waving his hands in the air, he surrendered. "Fine, for the sake of argument... I am a troll. What I am trying to say is, maybe readers are ready for a book where the hero isn't perfect. People like underdogs, no matter what; battles, sports, or even something as crazy as love."

 

"Love?"

 

"Okay, okay now you are just doing this to upset me."

 

"I heard trolls are really mean when they are upset."

 

"Okay that's it you're going down."

 

He grabbed her once again, and ran with her into the moonlight water. This time she didn't struggle, or fight, more just enjoyed the freedom to it all. For a moment, they splashed around like young children. Ones that never got the chance at such freedoms, moreover... ones who couldn't remember if they had. At last, they got out of the water; neither had spoken a word for the last five minutes, just swam and played like dolphins in the mist. Ungraceful dolphins... but with freedom and nobility all the same.

 

"Seifer, I was just drying off!!!"

 

"I know; I liked the wet look on you."

 

She rang out the water from her shirt. "Whatever..."

 

He suddenly came to a complete stop.

 

"What's wrong?" she questioned.

 

"We're here," he softly answered.

 

It was the first time in ages he had seen Garden. In his dreams and nightmares, yes... but in reality no. His body tensed as his gaze transfixed on the building. The instructor noticed his uncertainty. Placing her hands on either shoulder, she stood directly in front of him.

 

Never had he seen Quistis Trepe so determined.

 

"Listen to me Seifer. Don't worry about what others think or say... only worry about yourself. You can't spend the rest of your life regretting the past. Living in the present is all one can do. Nobody says it's going to be easy; the road ahead is demanding. Listen to me, you're already better off than you were two hours ago."

 

"Why?" He wasn't even sure anymore. Nobody who'd ever cared for him, had been this close. The feeling was unnerving. It was foreign.

 

"Because you have a friend. Someone who believes in you; someone who always will. Maybe it's time we test your theory, about society and underdogs. Maybe there is a future for us. Right now, this is the present; this is what counts. Seifer Almasy you have two choices, to stay or to go. That simple. I can't physically make you go in there, but I can ask you to. I can hope you do..."

 

Years of memories came flooding back, years of failures. Would they truly understand? Can one turn on the flock then be accepted back into the fold? Most importantly, would or could, somebody care for him? To take the good with the bad? In a moment of weakness, he looked back toward the ocean. The dark abyss of night was creeping in, and only shadows of the evening remained. Once again, Quistis drew his attention back to her eyes.

 

"Years ago you faced a similar choice, with Ultimecia. What you do will now define your character. Forget about your father; forget about your dream to be a knight... or your obsession with failure. Nobody knows what's in your stars; you have to shape your own destiny. All I can say, do this because it's truly what you want. If not, turn around and walk back down the beach to Balamb. If that is where you want to be."

 

He looked once more toward the water. The endless sea only taunted him, beckoning like a siren. However, he was stronger now, her deadly call falling on deaf ears.

 

In a symbolic gesture, he offered his arm to the woman in front of him. The one, he knew, would not give up. The one who would remain. Smiling, she reciprocated, turning toward the lights of Garden.

 

"Quistis, I'm ready to go home. I'm ready to face everyone."

 

"You will always be family to them Seifer, always." She offered as one last bit of reassurance.

 

"Hey, so does this mean that I could never be your knight?" Smirking, he raised an eyebrow.

 

She again let out a tiny laugh. Something's will never change. And for that, she was glad. "Well, Seifer... I still think it is a little too soon. But have faith in the stars."

 

"Darn, I really wanted that job."

 

They reached the front gate. Quistis turned around one last time, seeing the last glimmer of light fade behind the horizon. For a moment, she reflected on all that happened the last couple of hours. How one simple walk could turn into so much more. How one dusk would forever remain etched in thought. How maybe she too, needed saving... maybe he could be her savior after all.

 

"Seifer, I'll make you a deal. You can always be my Knight of Sunset."

 

"Deal."

 

Together they took the final steps into Garden.