Dream's End

[03.09.00] » by Alicia Hutchinson

“No, Fujin, it’s all right.” Seifer insisted, brushing the one-eyed girl’s worried hand off his shoulder. He managed a Seifer-esk grin, and hoped she didn’t notice it was forced. “Really, it is. I just want to get some practice in…and I’d feel uncomfortable going to Balamb Garden’s Training Center after what’s happened. The Fire Cave isn’t dangerous to someone like me; I’ll be okay in there alone for a while.”

Fujin said nothing, but her remaining brown eye was worried.

Seifer stifled a frustrated sigh. “Really, Fujin, you should keep an eye on Raijin. He’s likely to give himself food poisoning again if you don’t make sure he’s eating safe seafood…”

“…AFFMIRMATIVE.” Fujin agreed at last. “CAUTION?”

“I’ll be careful if it’ll make you feel better.” Seifer assured her with a shrug. “But really, the Cave isn’t any more dangerous than the dinner table for somebody of my talent.”

“…AFFIRMATIVE.” Fujin repeated. “LATER.” She turned and left him standing at the Cave’s mouth.

Seifer breathed a sigh of relief. Fujin and Raijin had been constantly at his side since the end of the Sorceress incident, Fujin in particular. Fujin was a young woman of few words, but there was nothing wrong with her instincts when it came to some things; she knew there was something going through his head she wasn’t likely to approve of. She scarcely let him out of her sight. Seifer ordinarily wouldn’t have minded. Fujin had always been his shadow, even more than Raijin. But right now…

He needed to be alone for what he intended to do, and he wanted it done in the Fire Cave. Getting Raijin to leave him alone for the necessary amount of time wasn’t too difficult; Seifer had given Raijin some bait and a fishing pole, and he was bound be occupied for hours on a pier or rocky shore fishing. Fujin, however, had followed him all the way to the Cave…and getting her to leave had proven more difficult than Seifer had anticipated. Still, she was gone now. He’d best get going before she changed her mind and came after him.

Seifer turned, and threw a salute to the blue sky. “It’s been fun.” He announced cryptically to the world at large, before drawing his gunblade and heading into the Cave mouth.

Fujin watched from behind some rocks, her heart pounding in terror. She bit her lip worriedly, horribly, terribly sure she knew what Seifer was going to do. Seifer…no…Fujin shook her head, fighting back tears. She hadn’t cried since she lost her eye; instinctively, she battled doing so now. The day she lost her eye to a T-Rexuar’s tale swipe in the Training Center was the last time in her life she’d acknowledged she was totally helpless to change the circumstances in her life. She was desperately close to doing so again.

No. No no no no no. I won’t let this happen. Fujin thought furiously, and then looked over her shoulder at where Balamb Garden once again rested off to the west. She hadn’t set foot in it since she and Raijin left to look for Seifer after he vanished from Garden; she and Raijin had done Squall Leonhart a favor that day by spreading word of approaching Galbadian missiles to the feuding factions of Balamb Garden. She had done much since then that she wasn’t proud of, for Seifer’s sake, and most of that had endangered or been downright counter to what SeeD and Garden were standing for during the Incident…but Garden still owed her for that.

Now, she desperately needed to call in that debt.

Without giving it a second thought, Fujin headed down the road to Balamb Garden at a dead run.


Seifer finished the Bomb off with a fierce upper-slash and a well timed shot from his gunblade; the monster shrieked, fell back, and vanished in a blast. Monsters tended to do that when slain; they left no corpse for their brethren to locate and mourn…or for their foes to wreak vengeance upon. Seifer nodded to himself; that was appropriate enough.

He continued through the Cave, stopping when he came to Ifrit’s chamber. The Guardian Force was silent; there was no need to challenge Seifer, Seifer had already bested him in combat years ago…when he was fifteen, just before he failed his first SeeD exam. He’d been so proud of himself, but the SeeD who’d supported him on that endeavor, Xu, had never had a high opinion of him even then. “You’ll never be a SeeD, Seifer. Calling yourself a Captain is a joke.” Her words to him after his last failed exam came floating back.

They’d proved prophetic. He’d called himself a Captain, he’d called himself a knight, he’d called himself a revolutionary. In the end, they’d all proved to be nothing but jokes.

Only one title remained his, and sadly, it was fitting enough.


Seifer sat on the edge of the path, and stared out over the lava. Failure....failure...failure.


Fujin didn’t dare try to go into Garden through the front gate, so she came in over a wall and discreetly slipped in through the Quad. She knew who she wanted to find...needed to find...but she also knew that it wouldn't be long before somebody spotted her. There weren't exactly a lot of one eyed, grey haired girls running around the island of Balamb, after all.

She has to be here...has to be here... Fujin chanted to herself as she stuck to the shadows and tried to look unimportant. Please, please, tell me she's not out...

She managed to get somebody saw and recognized her.

"Fujin?!?!?" A startled, vaguely familiar female voice demanded. "Fujin, what are you doing here?"

Selphie. Fujin cursed to herself and broke into a run. To hades with secrecy...finding the only one who stood a chance of talking some sense back into Seifer before she was caught was more important now.

"Fujin...wait!" Selphie called out. She was attracting quite a crowd...most of whom didn't look happy. Everybody knew what Fujin had done. "What's wrong? Fujin?!?"

Wait? Like hell, Fujin thought stubbornly. Hide, hide, where...

She slowed in front of the Training Center. There were trees inside...places to hide. Fujin hesitated for a moment, then ran inside.


Quistis frowned, recoiled her whip, and lashed out at the target again.


A little closer to the center this time. Still not as close as she usually got. She could usually take the whole center of the target out. Irvine would be laughing at her; he found the whip adaption of a firing range amusing, even more amusing when Quistis couldn't manage a half decent 'score'. Xu would just be exasperated.

Close... she thought distantly. But not close enough.


That'd been the story of her life lately. Youngest SeeD instructor in the history of Garden...for a year, before she lost her instructor license. She had the intellect to teach, and the desire. She lacked the leadership and discipline to do so effectively.

Close, but not close enough.


Back to being a just a normal SeeD again. That had gone a little better. She'd gotten to fight alongside her best student...had gotten to see that student open up to the world...had finally learned that she didn't love that student. That comforted her, in a bizarre way. She liked Squall, was comfortable with her teacher/big sister role in his life, but loving him (or thinking she did) had been unnerving.

Still, at least then, she'd had something, someone, to dream about. She didn't have anything or anyone now.


And making piece with one student...had involved having to fight another...



He could have been her greatest success as a teacher. He was intelligent, talented, powerful. If only she'd been harder on him, if she'd been a better teacher...he could've been another Squall.

Instead, he'd become a monster.

Would she always be remembered as the woman who ruined him? Could she live with herself knowing she had...?

God, she wished she could fix it...


Fujin ran into the training center, looking around for a place to hide for a few minutes. She halted as she heard the all too familiar sound of a whip. I can't possibly be this lucky...

She followed it.

Instructor Trepe was attacking a set of targets, her expression serious and focused.

Fujin crept up behind her. "INSTRUCTOR...?"

Quistis started at the unexpected intrusion. She recoiled her whip and turned to face the speaker. "I'm sorry, I'm not an instructor any...FUJIN?!"

Fujin just stood and stared at her. Quistis was alarmed; she'd never seen Fujin look so upset. She'd never seen Fujin look anything but expressionless. A lot like Squall...

"SEIFER." Fujin said.

"What about Seifer?"

"SEIFER." Fujin repeated, her voice urgent. "HELP. NEEDS."

"Fujin, I don't understand you." Quistis said. "I'm sorry..."

Fujin groaned in frustration, shaking her head. Tears welled up in her brown eye. "S...Seifer..." Fujin said slowly, hesitantly. "N...needs you. H...he's..." a tear spilled down her cheek. "Suicidal. I...don't want Seifer to die, Instructor..."

Quistis felt like somebody just dumped a bucket of ice water over her. "Show me." She said urgently.


Seifer sat for a while in the Fire Cave, thinking. Over, or perhaps just under, the sound of the magma flowing through the cave, he could almost hear his younger self...

"Seifer! You're not supposed to go on ahead! I'm supposed to be your support!!"

"You were slow'n me down. I'm going to beat the Fire Cave in a record time, Xu, and I'm not going let some overglorfied pencil pushing SeeD hold me back..."

"Listen here, hotshot, you're never going to be a SeeD of any kind if you keep that attitude up..."

He hadn't had a lot of respect for Xu back then. Xu wasn't a SeeD what he considered the truest sense; even then, she'd rarely gone on missions. She was more a staffer than a fighter, Headmaster Kramer's right hand girl. It was hard to have respect for someone he'd only seen pick up a weapon once or twice. Seifer had respected fighting ability above all else, back then. That was probably why he hadn't had much respect for Headmaster Cid either.

At least Headmaster Cid had possessed hopes for Seifer. As had Rinoa Heartilly and her Forest Owls. As had Instructor Trepe. Bizarrely, as had Squall. They'd always seemed to assume they'd both make it into SeeD and keep feuding until they both keeled over...at least Seifer had always assumed so.

It didn't matter now. They were hopes he'd betrayed and let down.

Seifer sighed. He'd never thought it would come down to this. He'd be brilliant...or he'd be nothing. He never considered for a second that if he'd failed in any endeavor he undertook, especially one as life altering as his defection to Ultimecia, that there would be any outcome besides success or death. He'd never wondered how he would cope with failing, but having to live on with the world he'd known lost to him and the one he'd sought to create impossible.

Fujin and Raijin had helped some. And time was supposed to heal everything.

Except this. Except the knowledge that sooner or later, somebody was going to take their revenge on Seifer Almassy. Dying gloriously in combat in defense of his dream was one thing. Dying with a knife in his back in some dark ally was another. There was no honor to it...and though some might have called Seifer's version of honor highly particular, he clung to it. For years, it'd been all he had; his honor, and his romantic dream.

Now they were both gone, and Seifer didn't know how to go on.

So he'd decided not to even try.

"You know me...I've always got to be invovled in something BIG!"

Seifer looked out over the magma. Jumping in would be quick... It would also be damned painful, and lacked a certain dramatic flair that he still craved. He looked down at his gunblade, laying beside him on the ground. He'd lived by the thing. It would be fitting if he died by it. The knight falls on his own sword rather than face dishonor...

The fitting closing line to the book of his life...

A calm, controlled voice from behind him halted him mid-reach for the blade.



Seifer looked up at her in alarm. Quistis stood, arms crossed serenly, at the entrance to Ifirt's chamber. She stood alone. Fujin wouldn't come in with her. "...not...for me. He won't listen." Fujin's halting, painfull voice repeated in her mind. "To you. Like my brother...instructor...please..."

"Instructor." Seifer said with a nod. "Fancy seeing you here."

"Fancy seeing you." Quistis replied. "Seifer, what are you doing?"

Seifer smiled. "Come now, Instructor, surely it's obvious. The Sorceresses are dead, but for Rinoa...and she has her knight. My dream is dead."

"It is." Quistis affirmed. "But that's no reason to go through with this, Seifer."

"I can't...go on without a dream." Seifer said. "Instructor Trepe, do you have any idea what it's like to lose the only dream you've ever had?"

"I do." Quistis replied tensely, striving to keep the pain out of her voice. "I'm not Instructor Trepe anymore. And if Rinoa has her knight, then Squall has his Princess. Those were my dreams, Seifer." she held out her empty hands. "They're gone as surely as yours. I'm left with nothing but memories of when my dreams were alive...and those aren't even mine to keep. Should I ever need the use of a Guardian Force again, I wouldn't even have those."

Seifer was silent.

"But I go on, Seifer. Because the only way to find a new dream is to go on." Quistis continued.

"You can go on." Seifer turned away. "There's still a life worth living left to you. But what is there for me? I betrayed everything I'd ever known. I've been the right hand of the world's enemy."

"That was the Sorceress's doing. She made you."

"In a large part, yes, but Ultimecia couldn't have forced me to help her if I hadn't already had the desires she prayed on in my heart. You might be able to explain that away, Instructor, but I can't. I know."

Quistis bowed her head. "Perhaps." she agreed. "But it's never too late to change. Rinoa still speaks of you fondly, Seifer..."

Very fondly indeed. Rinoa might love Squall, but she still cared greatly for Seifer. "You don't know him the way I do." Rinoa's clean, clear voice said in memory. "Seifer...wasn't bad. He's a lot like Squall, in his way. Squall hid his truest self by showing no emotion. Seifer hides himself by acting out. Opposite strategies, Quistis, but the same goal, in the end."

"I must admit...that surprised me." Quistis said. "You were my student, and we were raised together before that, but I never really knew you except as a problem child. I learned more about you from Rinoa than I did in all the years I've known you." I had always been willing to think that Squall was something more than the cold introvert on the inside. I never thought like that about you. At look were that got us. You're ruined as a man, I'm ruined as an Instructor. We're both alone.

"I always respected you." Seifer startled her by grudgingly admitting.

"What?" Quistis asked in stunned surprise.

"A second rate instructor like yourself could never understand..."

"I respected you. Still do. Oh, you weren't much of a teacher, Instructor Trepe, but you were one hell of a SeeD." Seifer elaborated. "Cool, collected, proficient, successful. Everyone respected you. So did I. But I couldn't show that, understand. It would've ruined my image."

"I never knew that..."

"Of course you didn't." Seifer said. "I'm good at hiding, you know." He shrugged. "Except from Fujin, apparently, but she's just as good at hiding things as I, so perhaps that isn’t so surprising."

"She doesn't want you to go." Quistis said. "Neither do I."

"And why is that, Instructor?" Seifer demanded.

"Because you deserve a second chance." Quistis. "Because...I'm like you. I failed too. But I know there's something more for me out there. A dream has to end before a new one can begin, Seifer."

Seifer said nothing.

"Come back to Garden, Seifer. It's not to late to start fixing what you did. It's not to late to find a new dream." Quistis urged, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Please."

Seifer slowly turned to face her. "You'll have to show me how, you know." he said. "I don't know how to find new dreams. I only know how to cling to old ones."

Quistis nodded. "You have to start by letting the old dream die, Seifer. You have to learn to let it go."

Seifer looked down at his gunblade, laying forgotten in the dirt. He picked it up.

Quistis caught her breath.

But all he did was hold it for a minute, then throw it out into the molten rock flowing below, where it vanished.

"All right, then, that's a start." Seifer said, turning back to her. A wet glimmer streaked down his cheek; the path of a single tear. "Lets go back, Instructor."

"Quistis." Quistis insisted.

"Quistis." Seifer agreed. "Lets go back. It's time to dream a new dream..."

Others by this author
Others about this game