A Nightingale's Song
By Ani K.

I embraced a dream
The night before.
The air was of musty pinks,
And there we stood-
Smiling we were,
Dancing in a sweet dream,
As you fumbled with syrupy words.

But a cream rose danced
From your hand-
Wisps of frustrated crimson
Writing your heart.

And the sky was a quiet ebony,

But through a long lost echo,
A nightingale softly whispered--

For you, for me, for those willing to listen.


Dust danced with the light's rays, slicing through the tilted blinds of the window. The rays gently tickled the man's skin, and he blinked to reveal his deep emerald eyes. They seemed a bit gray at the moment, as if a subtle film swept over his saddened irises. He grumbled a bit under his breath, languidly bringing himself to his feet, brushing golden locks away from his eyes, gently rubbing the back of his neck. He allowed air to seep into his lungs in a steady breath. The air was musty, congested. It crept soundlessly, blanketing his eyes in a sad loneliness, and Seifer couldn't see.

He wished he could simply walk away from those murky sheets, but just as he thought his eyes met clear air, white mists folded before his eyes again.

But he would walk anyway.

He muttered a few jumbled curses under his breath before shoving the wooden door and entering the sidewalk paths of Balamb Garden. The wind gently caressed his hair, and the blossoms by his side smelled of sweet nectar, but Seifer took no mind to it. He simply walked for the sake of walking, seeking no set purpose in his venture; rather, he was *searching* for the purpose itself. He had walked aimlessly in his life before, just as a rock cascades carelessly in a rapid river; there is no definite path of the stone, but instead it searches for an end, for a certain truth. But as he walked solemnly in the cobblestone paths of the garden, there was a certain hopeless sadness in his eyes. Even cold stone couldn't chill the searing effects of the lonely flame. Nothing could.

He had thought about talking to Fujin or desperately enough, Rajin. But what the hell could they do? Rajin could jump up and down zealously, clutching a putrid smelling trout in his hand. Fujin--yes Fujin was devoted, and at times he thought that she could understand the bitter emptiness swirling about in his gut, but she was far too cold to offer him any shred of light; she was too much like him. But something told him that there was something else that caused those invisible wounds, something far too deep-rooted for them to understand.

Wind blew against his gold hair and his stomach churned.

/Damn this./

It softly whistled its way, ruffling the leaves in a sort of empty dance. The emerald blades allowed the wind to drag, to pull upon them and then suddenly release its hold; they drooped alone. Seifer continued his walk. It didn't seem to do much good; everything around him reeked of loneliness, something lost and infinitely sorrowful.

His eyes met sapphire irises, curiously glancing at a flower lying in her delicate hands. She fingered it tenderly, the cream petals of the blossom soaked in gems of dew. Seifer in response simply squeezed his eyes in disgust.

"Damn Trepe,"he mumbled, his voice stinging with regret.

"Hello, Seifer." she coolly replied, continuing to finger the flower.

Seifer rolled his eyes, his steps rhythmically vibrating on the stone pavement. Damn Trepe. She always held a certain artificial tenderness in her eyes, always *appearing* as if she cared. Bull, pure bull. She pretended to care, only to earn respect, to elevate herself in social standing. She didn't care; she only ruined everything.

A distant voice mumbled darkly to such thoughts, but Seifer readily laid it to rest, continuing to walk away. Trepe glanced towards Seifer; a thin sheet of sorrow subtly entrenched her eyes as she continued to gracefully finger the cream rose. The wind whispered once more, delicately lifting a single petal from the flower, offering it to the hands of the tired warrior. Seifer glared at the petal; he clenched his fist, about to crumble it within his very hands, but--

It was so soft.

/Damn wind/

The wind too was soft that day, and the air carried a scent of vanilla musk, something of a fairy tale only known in dreams. But there lay dreams embedded in cruel nightmares; many eyes waver beneath the looming rays of faraway dreams, only finding themselves battered at the end of the race. The race had seemed long and tiresome, but in the end, he had only found it to be with himself. And he had learned one thing; within everyone there lay an inevitable solitude crooning in the distance. Seifer simply assumed it had arrived early in life. But it didn't seem that way five years ago. Warm emotions never seem wrong when they occur; they intoxicate the mind, clouding it softly with a dangerously seductive scent. Seifer knew. It was too late though, far too late. Seifer winced slightly, painfully fingering the blossom.

The cream petal unfolded nostalgic sheets, softly crying in tiny dew crystals.

He closed his eyes to embrace the blanket.



A whipping crack echoed from the shadowed corridor. The raging roar arose again; a faint whimper echoed from the boy's lips, but he dare not cry. That would make his father very mad.

A crimson trail slid down his lip, and a tear melded with the scarlet rivulet. His mummy had already gone. He'd never gotten to see her eyes. Maybe they would have been warm; maybe they wouldn't have been filled with flames. A familiar thud crashed upon his shoulders once more. It didn't hurt as much now. He felt a slight amount of pressure against his back, but maybe his daddy wasn't mad at him now. Maybe he was hugging him tenderly- like his dream.

There were puffy white clouds filling the air, and in a meadow his father would embrace him, just about to whisper the words, "I love you." But just as the words were to echo from his lips, they slanted darkly into a sinister smirk. The white clouds darkened to ebony, and all he could hear was the pounding beat of his heart. And all he could see was hate. All he could breathe was hate.

The breaking blows on his back softened, and he could hear the clattering heels of his father's boots outside. The boy's green eyes were heavy now. His body was numb, his mind floating in a languid mist. He heard screams behind the cold wooden doors, and his father's voice trembled with rage-


He couldn't quite distinguish the words, but he didn't care to know. Steel clattered against metal, wood, flesh... Screaming. They were always screaming.

And he envied the children who couldn't hear.

/Stop...please stop./

His heart pounded with the broken screams of the house, and he could barely hear the soft cry trailing his lips.

/Pounding, pounding, pounding/

But underneath the broken beats of his heart, he could faintly hear the soft melodies of a bird-a wordless song. And within the cold room as he heard howls and bullets break the air, the soft melody caressed him, embraced him.

The blond child scurried to a random corner, collapsing with drapes of darkness, strongly clutching those diminishing notes. The notes grew softer and softer as his eyes fell to darkness.

But they continued to echo.

And for once, he was happy he could hear.


Tire wheels grit against rocky pavement, and sentiments randomly swirled and swirled about in the air. The boy groggily opened his eyes; a woman smiled tenderly towards him, gently sweeping her hands to touch his face. The boy blinked curiously; there were many questions he had left to ask, but his head throbbed, and it felt as if a thousand knifes pierced his veins.

He couldn't quite see, but the beaming image of a kind face smiled before him. He had often imagined his mother gazing at him in such a way, with such tenderness.

He hoarsely whispered, "Mom? Am I in heaven--?" His eyes grew foggy once more, and the soft notes of the bird still echoed through his veins.


-- Deep green eyes opened to light once more, and a woman kindly sat in a chair beside the boy.

"W-where am I?"

"In an orphanage-your new home."


"Yes--you can meet the others outside when you're able to-"

"W-what happened?" The woman simply smiled, a grave sorrow washing beneath that upward curve.


"Um--what's your name," the child asked, confusion flickering in his eyes.

"Edea, and you?"

"Seifer." he replied curtly. The woman slowly nodded her head, silently closing the door as she left. She glanced back once, gently smiling towards the boy; she hoped he could absorb her grin it in some way-embrace it. Seifer smiled sadly, sitting erect, glancing at the window at his side. Dust played in light beams clouding warm rays. He sat there for some time, simply staring at the particles, thinking.


Golden locks hugged a pretty face, blue eyes emitting with a calm happiness. Quistis smiled warmly, leaning against a weeping willow, letting her fingers tangle through blades of grass at her side. News was that a boy was joining the quaint orphanage. She was lonely here; her companions were nice of course, but they all hid so many emotions, masking them with an artificial smile. Well, she didn't blame them, but it was becoming harder and harder every moment to cope with solitude--She simply tried to wash away those unshed tears, but strong currents of the past dragged upon her knees, whipping her heart around carelessly in the sea of time. And every night she would simply stare blankly at the bare ceiling, faintly absorbing artificial giggles echoing from the bunks nearby. They echoed nervously from the lips, a transparent blanket futilely attempting to mask sorrow.

Quistis was beginning to do the same, but a constant prickle ripped through those sheets. She didn't know what quite made her think to find hope in this new boy. Maybe she was too lonely. Maybe desperation had caused her to randomly clutch onto hope. A heavy sigh left her lips. She absently plucked a single blade of grass at her side. She didn't notice the drops of diamond dew dripping down its edge.


The blond boy finally willed his legs to the floor, cautiously walking to the gardens outside. His emerald eyes reflected images of children running past him; they were enjoying a game of baseball, paying no heed to his presence. In a sense, he liked it better that way. At least he wouldn't reek of blood, feel the horrid sensation of bursting veins oozing that crimson liquid.

/Blood, father--/

A black ball rolled down a nearby hill, gracefully dancing towards his ankle. Seifer knelt down, allowing his arm to strike the ball back over the hill; the ebony sphere sliced a straight path through the air and disappeared. Seifer glanced over the hill for a while. He stared at his hands once more, tracing the lines of his palm and the thick knuckles surrounding his fingers. He never knew he could throw like that; he never knew his arms could thrust with such power--His father never told him about this, never cared about this-

And a familiar shove pounded against Seifer's back.

/NO--it can't be- he's *not* here, not here-/

Emerald eyes peered into brown pools. It was a boy. His skin was a trifle pale, his brown hair tangled as a tuft of weeds, and his eyes- his eyes were cold.

"So you think you're so special, throwin' a ball like that? Wanna show off or sumthin' punk?"

Seifer breathed deeply. The boy's eyes, they were so familiar; the very hue of them, the cold mist flickering within them were so much like his... father's.

Seifer remained still, quiet.

"You think you're all that, but ya wanna know the truth! You're useless! You can't do shit even if you wanted to," the boy sneered.

Seifer replied again with silence.

/It's never enough dad./

"So you're not gonna speak, eh? Too weak, too stupid to do shit," the boy smirked, letting a hand loaf easily in his pocket.

/I was always nothing to you./

The brown-eyed boy sneered again, allowing a blow to whip Seifer's gut once more, his eyes slanting deviously with that same contempt...that same condescension.

"Why," Seifer whispered angrily, clutching his hands into a fist.

"What kind of stupid question is that! Who are you to ask..." the boy growled with a certain trace of sadness in his voice.

/Stop it father--stop it. STOP!/

The bully allowed his hand to thrust towards the blond boy's abdomen.

But he felt a tight grip press against the blow, and he reeled backwards, falling onto the ground with a loud thump. The bully's eyes glared widely, rage boiling in his veins.

"No, I'm not the one who's weak," Seifer hissed, shoving his hands into his pockets. A watery film slightly wet his eyes- a tear of sympathy, but he didn't notice.


Sapphire eyes quietly viewed the brawl alongside the sloping hills of the orphanage. Yes, that Gabe was troublesome, constantly beating and taunting others. But the manner in which his brown locks drooped over his face, the way his skin remained gaunt and pale-it almost seemed as if he were ill, forever ill in the soul and body. Quistis felt sorry for him but even more sorry for the new boy who had to face such turmoil in a new home.

And it seemed that the blond boy felt infinitely sad, possessing some sort of inexplicable anguish.

Maybe she would talk to him. He needed a warm welcome at the minimum of course. The golden haired girl glanced at her side, her blue eyes catching sight of a single white rose tucked in a bush of thorns. She plucked the blossom from its jagged home, a few trails of blood seeping underneath her skin.

The girl walked over towards the boy, gently tapping his back. He sneered as he turned around, as if the slightest touch would taint his very being. Quistis remained calm, carefully offering the single white rose in her hands. Seifer glanced curiously at the blossom, noticing the crimson marks on her hands.

"It's stupid to pick a rose knowing that you'll be pricked," he whispered a bit coldly.

"Have you ever smelt a rose?"

"What does it matter," Seifer replied a bit annoyed, a trace of masked happiness seeping in his veins.

"Well, they smell nice- at least the air smells nice with them around," Quistis sighed. So much for a warm welcome.

"And why give me one," he stated simply.

"Well, you looked so sad--" Quistis allowed the petals of the rose to touch her nose, the sweet scent drifting within her body. Why didn't he wish to smell it?

"I'm not sad," he snapped. He hated pity. What good did it do to feel sorry for someone but never do anything about it, never try to do anything.

"I was just trying to be nice!" Quistis's usual barrier of calm burst suddenly, an irritated chill echoing from her voice. She threw the rose in his hands, simply forcing her legs to run in a distance. It was always to same. Everyone there was always the same.

Seifer smiled sorrowfully towards the retreating form of the girl, curiously staring at the flower in his hands. He hesitantly allowed it to touch his nose and breathed in the scent. There was something sweet and warm in that scent--something beautiful. He tightly clutched the stem of the rose.

But he suddenly dropped the blossom. Streams of crimson flowed down his hand and he muttered under his breath,"Thorns--"


The night was quiet, and tiny white diamonds embedded the sky. The moon was filled to the brim with a silver liquid, and blue eyes viewed the spectacle in wonder.

Deep emerald eyes peered at the small girl, and hesitantly the boy forced his legs to walk over to her side. He rubbed the back of his neck muttering, "The rose smelled nice."

Quistis's eyes flickered with wonder, but she simply nodded her head, gesturing for him to sit nearby. Seifer slid his hand through his gold locks accepting the offer. She had been nice to him after all--or at least tried.

[Or is there something else?]his mind mocked.

/It's nothing/ He growled back.

"What are you doing here?" he finally asked.

"Watching the moon."


"Just because."


Quistis glanced at Seifer's scarred hands, quietly chuckling, "I thought you said not to touch roses if they had thorns--" Seifer didn't reply. Quistis quietly touched his hands. His scars suddenly stung.

"NO!" Quistis shivered back, an expression of fear and wonder mixed in her eyes.

"I just don't like people touching me, all right?" Seifer breathed firmly.

"Of course not--,"Quistis replied coolly, letting her hands droop into her lap. Seifer stared down at his hands for a moment--they felt so warm, as if something indescribably soft had graced them. But his eyes met red scars and the moment vanished.

"By the way, I never asked you your name--."

"Seifer," he replied curtly.

"I'm Quistis," she quickly responded. A burdening silence echoed in the night air, a never-ending solitude. The winds whispered in gentle wisps allowing emptiness to flow about in endless swirls.

"It's so lonely--,"the blue-eyed girl commented, a cold mist dissipating in the air. Seifer glanced at her curiously, and a sort of tacit agreement was reached. For several moments, the two peered into each other's eyes, finding the same loneliness, the same emptiness. Pain wrote itself in the very creases of the face, the very movement of the lips, the very manner air exhaled from their lungs. No words were spoken, for they weren't needed; there lay a deep rooted pain, an anguish beyond words, beyond tears--

Something inexplicable occurred, a connection between two souls--and for the moment, they let it be like that-letting emotions flow their own course. The two children gazed up at the moon, examining it's fullness, its radiance, and for the time, everything seemed all right.


The morning breakfast was particularly savory that day, pancakes shaped in perfection, thick syrup drenching the soft pastry in a sugary treat. Seifer sat alone in a wooden table towards the back of the cafeteria, slowly eating portions of the pancake. Quistis saw the blond boy in the distance, gingerly placing her tray next to him. She quickly consumed the food replying with a mouth full," Dhis ish goood!"

Seifer's eyes darted to her food filled cheeks and her slurred words, and a slight chuckle echoed from his lips.

"Whatchs sho funnyy," she insisted, food still stuffed within her tiny jaw.

"Nothing,"Seifer replied coolly, continuing to consume his pancakes. Quistis shot him a dubious glance, continuing to gulp down the food. Well, Seifer laughed, or at least wore some expression of humor--Maybe it would be all right after all. The night's events yesterday had done something to both of them, and even though they couldn't quite explain it, its meaning would forever leave some mark in the soul. Quistis wore a satisfied grin, attending to her breakfast once more--

Such breakfasts became a daily ritual for Seifer and Quistis, and for once in their lives, they smiled. Of course it didn't occur quite often, but when it did, there lay a sincere joy in the smile, magnifying the value of the grin tenfold. Occasionally, they would watch the moon together, and all the while they learned confidence- Seifer in particular.

He'd never felt such a positive emotion towards himself, and he wished to drench himself within it. Quistis had warned him to stay gold at heart, but the feeling of pride felt so warm; he bid her to take no concern, but Quistis wasn't one to settle her instincts so readily. One morning she questioned the need of this overwhelming pride and he in turn replied, "To replace something I never had." She wasn't sure of the meaning of the reply, but instead she would simply tug her gold locks behind her ears, peer into the anguish swimming in Seifer's eyes and lay the question to rest. He was happy with that. At least he thought he was content. Something within him ached to tell her, to pour some of the emotions burdening his shoulders, but he couldn't bring himself to do such. Instead, he simply took pride in his growing skill of weaponry and sports, perhaps trying to compromise one for the other but failing miserably.


Seifer encountered the bully Gabe many times, a growing rage pouring within his eyes, with every taunt slapped in his face. He would often curse insolent remarks of the boy, but Edea would constantly scold him that such words weren't for individuals his age. She would wear a sorrowful expression possessing almost pity for the pale-faced Gabe. She wouldn't speak of anything related to the boy to Seifer but simply instruct him to behave better around his companions. Seifer would pay no heed to the warnings, simply continuing to speak harshly of the brown haired boy.

His father had taught him that.

Once he muttered that he loathed the child, and at this remark Edea wore a dangerous expression of pain and disappointment. Unable to conjure another method to lay the problem to rest, she asked Seifer to follow her to a secluded room. White walls shimmered with the blinding ceiling lights, and by the window rest a small boy tucked in a soft bed.

The boy's ruffled brown strands fell over a pale, white face.


"He has leukemia, Seifer."Edea slowly stated. The blond boy's eyes widened in astonishment, his legs gently sweeping him towards the room. He let his deep blue eyes rest on Gabe's face. He seemed so vulnerable, and an evident stream of tears burned down the sides of the boy's cheek.

/He's afraid--/

Seifer stuttered backwards, trembling slightly at the sight, quickly walking away from the bed. Edea let her eyes wander to the ground, her lips curling to a distressed frown, "I'm sorry--"

/You shouldn't have to grow up this fast--/ The gold haired youth glanced towards the floor, slowly shutting the door as he left the room.

Seifer made periodical visits to the secluded corridor, occassionally listening to the mumbles underneath Gabe's breath. The blue-eyed Quistis would often accompany him, concerned with the restless flickering of his eyes. Seifer in turn would simply stare at the emaciated body of Gabe simply replying, "He's scared."

That evening, as purple, pink, and orange hues kissed the sky, the same words echoed from Seifer's lips. Quistis nodded her head, again hesitantly allowing her small hands to touch Seifer's cold fingers. It was the first time she had allowed herself to take such a risk after the memorable night under a full moon. Strangely enough, Seifer let her warm hands soak the coldness out of his veins. He grew frightened of the terrified gasps released from Gabe's throat. The pale boy choked upon air as if it were sandpaper slowly grinding the throat. He slowly opened his eyes to face Seifer hoarsely whispering, "I knew you were here."

"Then why?!-"

"My strength is goin' away-I just hafta to say sorry--"

Seifer's eyes flickered wildly, "You were scared, weren't you?--"

"Yea--,"he paused for a second, "Seifer, don't end up like me. Don't become someone you hate...live," Gabe grinned sadly and closed his eyes to sleep. He never opened his eyes since, and a dry film of water crusted Seifer's eyes.

It was raining outside the next day. It seemed a bit trite of nature to pour its sorrows on days where agony was greater than tears, but nature worked as it did. Quistis walked outside, drops of clear diamonds collecting on her eyelashes. Seifer followed her for the sake of doing just that... She grinned slightly, swirling around in circles, celestial tears gracing her face, her hair matted in the cleansing liquid.

"You shouldn't dance now--"Seifer sternly growled.

"Then what are you supposed to do?" she replied, her cherubic voice ringing the air.

"How the hell am I supposed to know!" Seifer sighed deeply.

"Live." Quistis replied quietly. The flicker in her eyes was hesitant, but finally Quistis resolved to hold his hand; her head motioned to the steady raindrops pouring in the garden. The boy shook his head in indecision, but a part of him wanted so badly to go with her in the rain. It was the part of him that peered into her blue eyes, the part of him that felt happy with her presence. He accepted the offer, slowly gliding through the watered mud of the garden. And they walked. The soft pattering of the rain felt refreshing against his cheeks, and as he glanced at his companion, he whispered the single word, "Live" once more. The rain continued to fall, and it felt as if a sea of warm emotions suddenly embraced him. Once he believed there was a place, a limbo between what were dreams and what was real--and there lay hope, a tangible hope. And at the moment he felt he was there, in that realm just by standing there next to her.

/Gabe would have feared this./

The rain poured more softly now, and it almost seemed like it held its position in the sky.

Seifer understood Gabe strangely, for he had felt the same kind of fear in his life before, and in the ailing boy's last words, he said to live. Seifer glanced at his hands-they were hard. Weren't a thirteen year old's hands supposed to be soft, tender? The other hand that clasped Quistis was remarkably warm though; her hands were strong and yet light-like a feather. She was pressured with life's adversaries early in life as well, but she retained what most children were supposed to hold: innocence. Maybe he could absorb some of that just by merely clasping her hand and walking through the rainy path. Rain continued to soak his golden locks, but he smiled anyway. And just as Quistis tightly squeezed his hand,

Time stopped.


And it began again.

They say after a rainfall, a rainbow striped with vivid colors graces the sky, and a soft blue hue kissed with sunshine swirls in the heavens.

But as the rain subsided, it seemed that the skies turned grayer; the clouds rumbled steadily within the heavens.

A storm was gathering.

A gentle light flickered within a room, two cedar chairs hugging the sides of a broken brown table. A white and black board lay on the table, the figures of horses, kings, queens, and pawns gracing each square: Chess. Quistis had claimed the ivory pieces, and Seifer settled with the ebony. At first, the two carelessly moved their pieces, quickly allowing their knights or pawns to thud casually on the chessboard. But as pieces were sacrificed, their minds gradually fell onto those single figures as if the world's fate fell within the shoulders of a single move. But Seifer still saw it all as a game, carefully moving his ebony pieces in accordance to Quistis's moves. But to that golden girl, it seemed as if her life was fated in those very pieces. Beads of sweat matted her hair and forehead as she poured her mind to the game.

"Check," Seifer would hoarsely reply. Quistis in turn would nod silently, placing her knight to defend the king.

"Check," he would repeat again, and she would sacrifice another piece in the name of the king.

The game continued in that fashion, until the only two ivory pieces gracing the board were the king and the queen. Quistis stared blankly at the carved figure of the queen, tenderly touching it with her fingers.

"I can't."

"Do what?" Seifer arched an eyebrow.

"The queen-I can't get rid of her for the king."

"Well, you have to - that's the way the game goes."Seifer replied, a bit curious at her sudden reaction.

"No," Quistis whispered. A clear sheet of salty liquid burned her eyes. She allowed her fingers to catch a single tear, rubbing it in her fingers. Seifer stared at the salty drop.

She was crying.

And he couldn't bear it. It was all right for anyone else, but *she* couldn't cry. It wasn't right for her to wear such a pained expression, to carry such sorrow in her eyes. No, she was the one always softly smiling, gracefully dancing in the rain--

"What's wrong?" he gulped a bit unsteady.

"Mummy did the same thing," she replied softly. Seifer allowed his eyes to soften slightly to concern, his small cold hands hesitantly touching hers, his eyes asking her to reveal her tale.

"Dad- he wasn't a good man--but mummy still loved him."


She would often see her father leave the house at night, wearing a bulky, black trench coat. She once stole a glance within the heavy pockets of the jacket, finding white powder sealed in plastic bags. She wasn't sure of what it was, but the next night her father would come home with paper money in his hands. Her mother's eyes always carried some sort of sorrow, and she would hesitantly touch her father's cheek with love. He would sneer in response, pushing her away from his sight. Quistis remembered seeing her mother cry silently in her room after such an incident, whispering something about change and--drugs. The blue-eyed girl didn't know what was so wrong with drugs; weren't they also called medicine? One winter night, when the air was particularly cold, the sky particularly dry and somber, she caught glimpse of a bulky man carrying a gun. She was staring at the spectacle from a foggy window, and she wasn't quite sure of who it was. But a violent crash broke through the wooden door, and silver tears pierced the air. The bullets rang through wood, through flesh, and a pool of blood and debris mingled upon the floor.

Quistis simply huddled in the corner of the room, hiding beneath the bulky drapes of the window. Her breath pounded, and the stuffy drapes pulled over her face as if suffocating her. She slowly allowed her blue eyes to stray away from the curtains, focusing on two figures running into the back of the room. A bulky man roared into the corridor, screaming her father's name, allowing bullets to pierce his skin. Her father felt crimson liquid dripping from his hands, but it wasn't his blood. It was her mother's crimson liquid. She whispered a solemn "I love you" before basking into an eternal sleep. Her father held a stern expression on his face, but Quistis couldn't see the dry tears folding within his soul. Her father forced his legs to take him away--and he kept on running, too afraid to look back, too afraid to truly see her blood, too afraid to see his daughter's sad blue eyes--.But Quistis never knew. She only saw the bullet that had marred her mother's heart and the hot tears burning her cheek.

And she was crying now.

"You can tell me if you want," Seifer spoke slowly.

"I-I want to forget,"she whispered.

Seifer nodded solemnly in understanding, simply speaking, "You can forget or forgive--live." A strange sadness overwhelmed his brown eyes, but he tried to lay it to rest.

"H-how would you know ?"she mumbled, tears still trembling down her face.

"B-because h-he," Seifer faltered. He let his eyes rise, meeting her blue pools.

/She's crying./

He couldn't see her cry, see those tears burning down her face. And all the while, she thought she was alone. He had known loneliness, he had felt the scarring words of his father, and he had felt the sensation of his own blood streaming down his face. He had known nightmares, but now--now, for once in his life, he felt as if he were living in a sort of dream; it was one of those dreams where the sky was a bright blue, a place where he could dance on soft white clouds, a place with her. She had to know that she wasn't alone, that it wasn't their fault, that they would be okay--

"He beat me, Quistis," tears threatened to sting his eyes, but he allowed a cool sheet to mask them. Quistis gasped, her trembling hands caressing his small, cold hands, her lips whispering, "It's not your fault."

Seifer blinked, "It's not your fault either--"he hesitated for a second but spoke his heart anyway.

"You won't be lonely, because-"

Quistis wore a curious expression as he spoke, "I'll be here--"

Quistis slowly smiled, gently wiping the tears from her face, softly speaking, "And I will too." They smiled at each other for what was an eternity, and they knew an unbreakable bond had melded two souls.

For the moment--


A gathering was held in the cafeteria the next week. It was morning, and a cool breeze kissed the sun's radiant light beams. Edea Kramer stood on a wooden pedestal, clearing her throat as she spoke, "We have a new companion here today. I will ask of you all to give a warm welcome to Squall Leonhart--." A boy of the age of twelve quietly sat in a chair next to the instructor. His ebony locks carelessly fell upon his face, and his handsome eyes flickered with mystery and intrigue.

Quistis stared at the boy in wonder, immediately sensing a strange pull towards the youth. Maybe it was the way the light bounced off his hair, or perhaps the solemn expression flickering within his deep eyes which intrigued her so. She scolded herself for acting with such superficiality, but she simply couldn't help it. Seifer saw the manner in which Quistis stared at the new boy, an indescribable emotion of fire overwhelming him. He glared at the brown-eyed boy with a strange sort of green sensation flickering steadily in his eyes. Quistis took no notice to it but simply stared at Squall, a bit of a dreamy expression rendering her face.

Edea finally finished the weekly announcements, gesturing for the children to attend the specified activity of the day: an archery contest.

The grass was soaked with rain, and a musty odor filled the air. Seifer grit his teeth, pulling a bow from the equipment basket. Squall did the same, tightly holding the arrow back on the string of the bow. He squinted, his eyes focusing solely on the red central circle of the board ahead of him. He laced his index finger above the nock, the middle and ring finger under it, hooking the string with his first and second joint. His hands were surprisingly calm as he allowed his arrow to fly. It sliced through the heart of the wooden board. Quistis smiled, approaching the handsome Squall, congratulating him on the well-aimed shot. He in turn smiled shyly, thanking her for the compliment.

Seifer let his fingers tangle through his golden locks, growling, "I can do much better than that!" Squall quizzically arched an eyebrow, a bit shocked from the rage burning in Seifer's eyes. Seifer squeezed his eyes, focusing on the target with a flaming beat of the heart. He placed his toes against an invisible straight line towards the center of the target, his feet about shoulder's length apart. His eyes glared at the single scarlet drop gracing the center of the board-almost like blood. And at the moment, that was all he could see- that single scarlet drop. His surroundings melted in a sheet of fog knit by his mind, and his sapphire eyes glared with a steady rage.

/Enough blood, Father./

And as he continued to gaze at the red circle, his eyes grew calm, a solemn passion feeding his fingers. And his arrow split the center, hacking Squall's previous shot in half. Quistis didn't reply, simply staring at Squall's hair and admiring his handsome face. Her heart continued to scold herself, but her eyes never faltered from his image. Strands of contempt tied Seifer's veins, and the archery match continued, heat pounding within Seifer's very being.

It seemed that there lay hundreds of splinters of wood kissing the center of the board. Squall and Seifer repeatedly let arrows slice the air, each piercing the heart of the board. Night was swallowing the sun now, and a million white specks dotted the sky. Edea Kramer insisted the game to halt, but both viciously opposed such- Seifer in particular. Quistis pleaded them both to come inside the orphanage, and with her gentle pleas they acquiesced.

Seifer mumbled a long string of curses as he went to bed that night. He didn't dance on clouds in his slumber.


And he awoke, expecting the gentle blue eyes of Quistis to welcome him --


he only saw dust bounce with the light of the window.

A short wisp of pain whipped within him as he approached the glass window. He squeezed his hands into a ball, his eyes intently watching the activities outside; it all looked like a picture, the window serving as the frame, the laughing chants of the orphans the painting itself. Two to be exact.

A blue-eyed girl walked gracefully alongside a youth of ebony-kissed hair; her eyes seemed so mesmerized by the very manner he walked, the manner he grinned slightly towards her. Seifer growled angrily underneath his breath.

/Damn Squall.../

With rage in his eyes, he grabbed a soft pillow by his side, punching it until his hands throbbed. He glanced towards the window once more; yes, it all seemed like a picture, except he was simply viewing it, wishing to be there all the while.

In the rolling green hills of the orphanage, Quistis stared towards the window; her blue eyes caught sight of the image of Seifer. She sighed heavily. She had tried to wake him early that morning, but he simply mumbled in his sleep, growling about how utterly wretched Squall was-- Why did he hate Squall so much? Seifer and she were friends, and why would he care so much about her being friends with another boy? But Quistis didn't take to notice the subtle whispers within her that so desperately hoped he did. She smiled bitterly, focusing her attention on Squall once more. Squall simply shook his head a bit carelessly as Quistis continued speaking.

Seifer turned around, eyeing a dry rose partially tucked beneath the mattress of his bed. He had saved that white rose the day she gave it to him. She didn't know. The cream petals crusted in a brown hue, withered in brittle shards. He stared it for sometime before simply laying on his bed and glaring at the ceiling with his eyes wide open.


Seifer grew to lie on his bed more and more each day, steadily embracing himself in cold sheets, as she grew more distant. He supposed he preferred them; at least he could never lose cold sheets, and the numbing effect was quite effective. But then again, every moment he saw Quistis chatting with Squall, a strange sort of wound reopened, and the cold sheets would slip away, leaving heated blood curdling in his veins. But he could easily gulp that down. The invincible Seifer wasn't going care about some girl and her feelings. No, he wouldn't care.

But then why did he always carry that dry, white rose?

He wish he knew.

The sky was silver that particular day--No, it seemed more gray. And it was raining. Hard. The heavens seemed angry that day, or perhaps infinitely sad, or even a mixture of the two. A flame burned within Seifer, and so he went out to the rain, perhaps to share the same fiery fury, the same sadness.

Heavy clear drops pounded against his face, forcefully sliding down his cheek. He closed his eyes for a second, allowing the rain to take its toll. A delicate hand gently touched his shoulder.


He slowly turned around and opened his eyes; sure enough, he met tender sapphire irises. He sneered.

"What do /you/ want?"

"Why have you been avoiding me, Seifer?" Seifer laughed bitterly in response.

"Me, avoid you?" A certain pain flickered within Quistis's eyes. Truth was a difficult thing to blanket.

"Tell me, what am I to you," Seifer growled under his breath. He could never depend on anyone in his life; they all just ran away, forgetting that he ever existed, just another scent whipping the air in a fleeting moment. He wished they cared. He wished that *she* cared, but he couldn't tell her that. He couldn't wait for her.

"Y-you're a friend Seifer, and you're really important to me," Quistis dared not speak anymore, much too afraid to lose any shred she had with him.

/But he's already gone.../

"Friend--you say a friend?" he muttered bitterly.

"You're important to me."

"You know damn well I'm not important to you. You never did care- this whole thing was just some kind of act you pull with every other guy, isn't it?" he replied darkly.

A single tear rolled down Quistis's cheek. Or was it the rain? Why couldn't he understand that he was special to her? Why...?

Seifer angrily pulled out a dried, browned blossom and threw it at the ground. He furiously crushed it, whooping wildly each time his feet met the brittle rose. Quistis looked down solemnly until he was finished, until he walked away from her. She gently picked up the crumbled blossom, trying to lift it to her nose. There was no scent.

Seifer turned away; his feet felt like air.

He was running.

Within the traces of warmth still faintly flickering within him, he knew he was a coward for running. But for the moment that was all he could do. He ran, hoping she wouldn't follow and yet breaking within that she wasn't.

The rain was hard down his face. And so he embraced the heaven's hot, angry tears, still running.


For a moment he thought he could almost hear the bird's soft song.

But it was only a lost echo.


The bird's song was stronger.

For now, five years later, she was here.

Seifer stared at the soft, cream petal for several moments; the wind continued to sweep softly on the gift. It seemed to sing a sad and sweet ballad, and through the flicker in Quistis's eyes, it seemed that she heard it too.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, her eyes slightly filled with water.

"You never did care for me, did you?"Seifer spoke harshly.

"No--I did, I was just so afraid-"

"Afraid of what, Quistis! Afraid of what?!"he yelled a bit frustrated.

"That you'd leave too--and that I'd be lonely."

"You are now," Seifer darkly whispered.

"I-I just hoped you would remember-"

"Remember what?!"Seifer scowled furiously rubbing his feet against the ground. Her blue eyes were so sad--He hated seeing them like that, seeing such pain flow in those blue pools- an empty sea. But he had promised himself that he wouldn't care--

"The promise."

/'I'll be here--'/

The bird sang insistently.

"It's so lonely now," Quistis laughed a bit sadly. Tears started to burn her eyes, and they gathered into a single drop of anguish gracefully falling onto the white rose in her hands. Her body started to tremble--

She saw fog.

And for a few moments, she saw Seifer.

Seifer, the blond boy with those pained green eyes staring at her with concern. Tears continued to melt her cheeks as she let her arms swing around the blond boy, sobbing.

She sobbed the dry tears racked within her; she sobbed the loneliness away--sobbed it all away.

And the cold man trembled underneath her touch, slowly tracing her blonde locks, slowly touching the gentle skin he had missed five aching years.

He wished her tears away--He wished he could run away.

But some unknown force held him still by her side.

And there he was again, in a heavenly place where dreams lay bare on the earth.

But he still remembered to breathe, to live. And for once he was happy he hadn't forgotten.

Author's Notes: SAPPPP!!! Yeah, I know. I'm not a master with words, but I hope this sparked some sort of emotion(besides nausea). Well, if ya want more sap, check out my site: www.angelfire.com/ak4/wotff7/index.html.