A Traitor's Redemption

Sanchez sat in his small room on the fourth floor of Toran Castle, enduring the cold, hateful stares of the members of the Liberation Army. Once again, he wondered if he had done the wrong thing, but his loyalty to Emperor Barbarosa was the most important thing to him. Even if four of the five Great Imperial Generals had joined them, Sanchez was still loyal to the Golden Emperor. True, he had changed, but Sanchez believed that was because of Empress Claudia's death. Barbarosa had loved her very much; he still mourned her passing. After her death, nothing had been the same. The others could believe what they wanted, but he refused to join them. Not that they'd let him, anyway--

Well, Commander Will was a strange man. He had let Millich join after the man had killed Gremio. Maybe he'll have mercy on me-- Sanchez thought. Then he shook his head. No. Millich was under Lady Windy's control, and I betrayed them out of my own will. I can't even forgive myself now.

As if his thoughts had summoned him, Master Will walked by with Flik and Humphery at his side. Humphery, as usual, was silent, but looked up long enough to give him a withering look. Then, head hung, he left Will and Flik standing by the door.

If Sanchez hadn't been prepared for it, Flik's attack would have taken him completely by surprise. He didn't even try to defend himself; he just waited for the blow. Surprisingly, it never came. Sanchez looked up to see Will blocking Flik's sword with his Heaven Fang Staff.

"Flik, we can't kill him yet! Master Mathiu is right! Besides," he added as Flik slumped to the floor, "I want some answers."

He turned his gaze from the crumpled form of Flik to Sanchez, and the sheer presence Will's eyes held struck him. No wonder Odessa chose him, he thought. His eyes seem to draw people to him. And he's so honest and kind. I never thought anybody could be like that. If I'd met him sooner, maybe-- But Will's quiet, gentle voice broke into his thoughts.

"Why?" He asked. Sanchez and Flik were both surprised by how that one word could carry such emotion and meaning. Flik rose slowly and looked at Will. Sanchez saw that he was actually weeping, not only for Odessa, but also for all the people that had died because of Sanchez's actions. He couldn't help but feel a sharp pang of regret as he looked into Flik's deep blue eyes.

"I-I'm sorry--" he faltered.

"Sorry doesn't bring back Odessa! Sorry doesn't bring back all the people that died because of you; it doesn't heal the wound you gave Mathiu! Sorry doesn't-"

"Flik!" Will cried. He, also, seemed to be on the verge of tears. Flik shook his head and rubbed at his eyes, suddenly looking like a hurt, vulnerable, and very lonely child.

"I'm sorry, Will. I couldn't help it--"

Will smiled at Flik. "I understand. Don't worry; I won't tell anyone. I promise."

They both turned and glared at Sanchez, who snorted. "Who would believe me?" He demanded bitterly. They continued to stare at him, and he sighed. "I won't tell." He said.

"Sanchez, you were one of the first members of the Liberation Army! I don't understand how you could have been with us for so long and still betray us to the Empire!" Will sighed. "I only want to know why," he continued, "And how. Why you betrayed us, and how-"

He was cut off by Flik's enraged shout. "And how you can still live with yourself! Odessa wasn't even prepared for that attack, dammit! And what you did to Mathiu--" Flik shook his head and made an obvious attempt to calm himself. "What you have done is unforgivable! The only reason you're still alive is because Mathiu is right! I'll send you to Hell, Sanchez! Just wait-"

"Flik--" Will said, a slightly worried expression on his face.

There was an awkward silence that was broken by a knock on the door. "Yes. Come in." Will said. The door opened and Victor entered. Sanchez blinked as he looked at the huge man in the doorway. He almost entirely blocked the view of the outside room. Victor was certainly one of the strongest men in the Liberation Army, if not the strongest.

"Just wanted to make sure you guys were alright. You never know with this one." He said, jerking his head angrily toward Sanchez who remained silent, not entirely sure he even wanted to defend himself anymore.

Will smiled. "Thanks, Victor. We're fine, but you're welcome to join us." Then, Will's eyes darkened, and a worried expression took over his face. "How is Mathiu?" He asked. Victor sighed.

"Luikan says he's hurt pretty bad. He can't come to the battle tomorrow-- and without his advice, what're we gonna do? We need him, Will."

"Yes- yes, I know. I only pray he'll be alright--"

"Of course he'll be alright! Don't be so cryptic, Will! Mathiu will be fine." But Sanchez caught the fear and apprehension in Victor's cheerful voice. Evidently, so did Master Will and Flik, for all three of them exchanged a look, then turned to glare at him.

He didn't respond, just kept a cold, uncaring look on his face. "I didn't mean to hurt Master Mathiu. He was in the way, that's all."

"In the WAY!?" Victor roared, drawing his sword and lunging at him. At the last instant, Victor got control of himself and missed slicing off Sanchez's head by mere inches. That was the only thing that saved his life, for Master Will couldn't have stopped a man of Victor's size from doing much of anything, and Flik probably wouldn't have helped Will stop him from sending Sanchez into the afterlife.

"No." Victor said. "I won't kill you. And," he said, sheathing his sword and turning back to Will and Flik, "I don't think you should either. Let him live with what he's done. Let him suffer before you release him."

"I think Victor is right." Came a familiar female voice from the doorway.

"Cleo! You surprised me! How long have you been standing there?" Flik asked.

"Long enough. We were looking for you, Young Master--"

"We?" Will asked. Then, a second person stepped into view.

"Gremio! How are you? Glad to be back, I'll bet!" Victor said cheerfully.

Everyone had been surprised - and overjoyed - when Lady Lekknat had used her powers, combined with the 107 remaining Stars of Destiny, to revive Gremio. Will, in particular, had been ecstatic. Sanchez sighed softly. He probably blames himself for what happened, but it was my fault that he was killed. I told the Emperor where they were... But it's good to see this fixed, at least. Sanchez thought.

"Young Master-- I'd been gone for so long that I was wondering if you could fill me in on what I missed-- Cleo began, but you're the only one that could tell me everything, so--" Gremio paused and glanced at Sanchez. "If you're busy, I'll leave-"

"No." Master Will cut him off. "I think now is a good time. We'll leave Sanchez to think about today's events." Flik and Victor walked through the door, leaving Will and Sanchez alone for a moment. Since this would probably be the last time that he'd see the young commander, he decided to say what had been on his mind for an awfully long time.

"Master Will, I truly am sorry. I didn't think it would go as far as this--" He faltered a moment, staring into Will's depthless green eyes. "You don't have to believe me. And I'll accept any punishment, even death. But--but, please--" he faltered again, not entirely sure of what to say. Then, in a moment of clarity, it came to him. "Please, watch over Master Flik. He needs someone right now, and I think you're perfect. And, please, try to save as many lives as possible tomorrow."

Will started to leave, but Sanchez's voice stopped him again. "If you do win I honestly hope that you'll lead the people as well as you lead the Liberation Army. That's all I have to say. Oh, yes - good luck."

Will, his expression unreadable, gave Sanchez a warm, almost friendly smile. "I will, Sanchez. Thank you. Goodnight. And," he added over his shoulder as he turned to leave, "I do believe you."

As he left, Will closed the door, leaving Sanchez to wonder about many things - including why he found himself hoping beyond all other hopes that Commander Will lead the Liberation Army to victory tomorrow.