I woke up with the sun shining in my face, my alarm clock had a minute until it went off…Typical. I slumped out of bed and pulled myself up to desk level, all that was on my desk was my alarm and my calendar. In some ways it was impersonal but I like to have a clear desk when I do my work. I ducked into my en-suite and ran the shower. After my shower and shave I looked at my day planner, Headmaster Cid wanted to see me at 1000, nothing unusual we usually have meetings once a week; you can see that he cares about each and every student; he knows us all by name and takes interest in us all equally. He had, on several, occasions visited me in the infirmary when I’d been bested in the training area and was carried back by students going from or to the secret area. Today’s meeting was undoubtedly about the increasing frequency of this happening. Fighting is how I unwind and I’ve had a lot on my mind. It would probably do me good to talk to him.
I combed my hair and tied it back, opened my wardrobe and selected today’s choice of clothes, a black pair of jeans, my best black boots, a white t-shirt and my gun and holster (some things change with time, but it’ll be a cold day in the fire cavern that I stop wearing my gun. The attacks scarred a lot of us. I knew of some trainees going to the training area all night every night so as to be prepared for an attack, the best offence is a good defence). Once I was ready I made my way down to the cafeteria it was 0900.
“Whaddya mean there’re no Hot Dogs for breakfast?” I knew the voice and the question, it was Zell again, day after day he asks but everyone else agrees Hot Dogs aren’t technically part of a nutritious breakfast.
“Come back at 12” the lunch lady said “there’ll be plenty then.”
“Fine” Zell said with some resolve and started to exit
“Hey Zell” I said just managing to catch him before he left
“Hey man, you know Headmaster Cid wants to see you at 1000?”
“Yeah I know”
“You’ve been going crazy in the training area again haven’t you?”
“Yeah…I was carried back to my dorm last night after Dr. Kadowaki gave me the all clear, first time in ages I’ve passed out and not woken up in the infirmary.”
“Go careful man, you don’t wanna end up lookin’ like Squall!”
I let out a laugh “I guess not”
“Do you need a spot, or just a companion out there?”
“If I do I know where your dorm is.”
“Ok see you later”
“See ya later” and with that he left.
I sat on a table with a couple of other SeeDs and started to eat, by nature I’m a very social person but I rarely talk at breakfast, I’m rarely in there long enough, I had a bowl of cereal and took an apple with me. On my way up to 3F I stopped off at 2F to check with (the since reinstated) Instructor Trepe that she knew I was meeting Headmaster Cid and wouldn’t be able to attend her class on ‘Practical use of Blue Magic’ “Yes,” she said “I know you wont be attending my class, don’t worry. It’s funny, if anyone else has a meeting with the Headmaster they assume he’s told me; you come and check every time.”
“Just an excuse to see your lovely face” I joked, it drove the Trepees crazy that I would shamelessly flirt with the instructor but she and I both saw the funny side, and I’m sure she took pleasure in seeing the Trepees squirm.
“Oh you! I assume you’ll want the notes.”
“Yeah please that’d be appreciated”
“If you come through at the end of your meeting I’ll have them ready!”
“Ok thanks a lot. I gotta run I’ll see you later Quistis” I loved seeing the Trepees squirm when I called her Quistis, they didn’t have the guts.
“Ok bye Ethan I’ll see you later.”
As I arrived at 3F Squall was waiting for the elevator “Hey man,” I said “How are ya?”
“Yeah I’m good thanks,” Squall had gotten much more open toward people in the last year and I had previously thanked Rinoa for that “And you?”
“Yeah I’m good, gotta hurry though I’ll catch you later, bye.”
“Bye” and the elevator doors closed and I went to talk to Headmaster Cid.
“Ethan!” He seemed pleased to see me, but since he and Edea were reunited he had always been happy, “How are you?”
“Bumped, bruised, scratched, but fine”
He chuckled “As you’ve no doubt guessed I wanted to talk to you about this.”
“Yeah, I’ve guessed”
“You’ve been in the infirmary 10 times in two weeks. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to the training area, just don’t go alone. You must have been there an hour before anyone found you, thank God for the secret spot eh!” I looked at him “Oh don’t be so naïve, of course the faculty knows about the secret area but wouldn’t it be a prison if we didn’t let you go there. Just don’t let on that we know!”
“Your secret’s safe with me sir.”
“Anyway back to my previous point, people are worrying about you. You’re not yourself. Even instructor Trepe notices a change in you. What’s up? You’ve been a SeeD for approaching 2 years now, to see you do this to yourself implies that there’s something wrong, girl trouble?” I glanced at him “Heh-heh I guess not, so what is it?”
“I’m having sleepless nights…No, more than that, nightmares, reoccurring ones.”
“What is it?”
“I’m at the edge of what I assume is a cliff and I’m reaching for someone, I can’t see who but it feels so important that I reach them, there’s a surge of emotion and I can’t reach them, that’s when they fall and I wake up before they hit the ground.”
“Have you talked to Dr. Kadowaki?”
“I didn’t think she was that kind of doctor.”
“You’re not crazy Ethan, and she does have some sort of insight to dreams, they do test everything at Deling Medical School.”
“Maybe you’re right. It can’t hurt I expect, thanks for the chat.”
“Don’t worry about it,” He glanced at my gun “I see you still keep that on you, when will you get rid of that?”
“When Shiva receives Ifrit’s permission to cover the Fire Cave in Ice.”
”That can be arranged” He joked
“You know what I mean. This way I’m prepared, who knows how fast our allies become our enemies? Galbadia was a surprise.”
“You can’t blame them or Ed-“
“Don’t get me wrong I don’t blame anyone, brainwashing, sorceress Ultemiciea etc. But nonetheless I’m prepared.”
“I see your point, go to the infirmary and talk to Dr Kadowaki, she won’t tell me anything unless you allow her to.”
“Don’t worry you’ve helped me a lot.”
“OK then Ethan I’ll see you later.”
I went straight to the infirmary and explained things to Dr Kadowaki “My honest answer is to suggest some R&R”
“Well, I think the most obvious answer is that your trying to obtain something that you can’t and it’s causing you stress.”
“But if I leave the garden won’t it make things worse?”
“Most probably, so you can relax at the Garden. If you wish to leave no problem, just go through the proper channels etc.”
“For how long?”
“I’d say a fortnight to start with, is it OK for me to excuse you or do you want to do it?”
“No…no it’s fine, you do it.”
“OK I’ll tell Headmaster Cid right away. Go and relax now, might as well start as you mean to go on.”
“Yeah I guess.”
“Before you go, assure me that you will relax, I know what you’re like.”
“OK I promise I’ll relax, starting now.”
Dr Kadowaki left to her office and I proceeded to my dorm, all the while contemplating the idea of R&R, there was no choice I guess, I promised to do no work and the firs thing I’d start with was getting some sleep now.
“Reach, come on you can do it-just a little bit further”
“I won’t let you go I swear I won’t let you fall”
A flash of a face, brown eyes, dark hair, a woman
“I can’t hold on for longer”
“Grab my hand”
Raw emotion surges through my body and I collapse, she still can’t reach, she falls, and falls, and falls
I woke up in a cold sweat with the light of the moon shining through my window, we’d moved since I went to sleep and I set out to catch a snack at the cafeteria.
After picking up a hot dog I move over to a table at the window over looking the quad. The Garden Staff sent a call saying that everywhere except the Training Area would be closed in 10 minutes when I heard a voice behind me. “Ahem excuse me,” I turned and stared “Sorry have I startled you?” It was the girl from my dream, I recovered myself.
“No, sorry, I was in a world of my own,” I offered a hand “I’m Ethan pleased to meet you…”
“Juliana,” She shook my hand “I’m new here today, they picked me up from Fisherman’s Horizon.”
“So they’re starting to send people from FH eh!”
“Yeah ever since those SeeDs saved the mayor”
“So, you asked if I could help?”
“Oh yeah, course, I need help getting to know this place, could you show me around?”
“Sure, but I suggest to wait until morning, as you probably heard everything’s closed in 10 minutes. But I can take you to the training area, how come you weren’t shown ‘round today?”
“Well I know where my classroom is and my dorm but that’s about it. So shall we see the training area?”
“Yeah OK but we’d better go back to our dorms first, the monsters in there are real so unless you have your weapon I’d suggest we go get it. More often than not I’ve ended up in the infirmary after being in the training area. What do you use?”
“Weapon…what weapon do you use?”
“Yeah I hear the number of gunblade trainees increased after the second sorceress war”
She looked down “I’ve been practicing for seven years”
“Oh…I’m sorry, you must get that a lot, I didn’t mean to-“
“Don’t worry you didn’t know…So your place or mine first?”
“We’ll just wander up to the dorms and see whose is first.”
As we left there was a silence which surprised me with her being new student. Her dorm was first. She wasn’t a SeeD and was sharing with another girl who wasn’t there at the time. “How long until you take your SeeD exam?” I asked
“About a year, I feel really out of place. I’m the only person over 16 in our class.”
“Don’t worry its ok; Seifer was the oldest in his year.”
“Didn’t he join with the sorceress?”
“Well…yes, but that’s got to show his power!”
She laughed “OK I guess we’d better go to your place now”
“Yeah…so I can…Yeah pick up my weapon”
“What do you use?”
“I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.”
When we arrived at my dorm she seemed surprised “Wow, it’s so…clean”
“If you mean impersonal just say it I know.”
“Well there are no family pictures,” I froze “there’s no family is there?”
“So you’ve been here-“
“Since I was 10”
“Don’t be, the Headmaster has become something of a father figure, I’m never away from my friends.”
“You were here for the Galbadian attacks?”
“Yeah, it was terrible,” there was an awkward pause, I picked up my sword, “This is my weapon”
“Wow, that’s incredible, where’d you get it?”
“I made it; I used to work in a synthesis shop in my spare time.”
“Wow that must’ve taken forever, what’s it called?”
“Well it’s a double-bladed sword but I call it a ‘Heaven and Earth’ blade or Hae, every so often I carve a new symbol on it, depending on my mood”
“Wow, you really are talented”
“This is about as far as my talent extends, I don’t like to blow my own trumpet.”
“Shall we get going?”
By now all the other areas were close so it was clear even to Juliana where the Training Area was. As we entered Irvine and Selphie were just leaving “Hey man” Irvine said “Going for a workout?”
“Yeah, you just finished?”
“Kinda” Selphie blushed
“Irvine, Selphie this is Juliana, she just arrived from FH”
Irvine held out his hand “Hey, I’m Irvine, this is Selphie”
“Hi” Selphie said
“You just go careful man I don’t want to carry you back to the infirmary again…you’re lucky Dr Kadowaki is on call all day.”
“Yeah I guess, thanks a lot for that by the way they never told me who carried me back.”
“That’s probably because we’d just dump you outside the infirmary and leave you” Selphie said
“OK phew, I’ll see you later anyway”
“Yeah I’ll see you later”
“See you later”
“Nice to meet you both”
“Nice to meet you to Juliana”
“Yeah, nice to meet you too!”
After they left Juliana said to me “Is that the Selphie and Irvine?”
“From the sorceress wars? Yeah.”
“And you’re friends with them?”
“I’m friends with the whole team!”
“Me and Zell go way back, I used to custom his gloves for free, I knew Squall previously but he’s more open and friendly now, I met Selphie briefly when she transferred and I have a class with Quistis. The only people I didn’t know from before was Irvine and Rinoa but they’re very friendly. You’ll be friends with them in no time.”
We set out and an hour later we decided to take a rest. “Let me show you the secret area”
“It’s an area where students meet after lights out”
“Oh sure OK.”
When we got there it was empty, just us and the glow of lights from Garden and if you looked hard you could almost make out Balamb Town.
“I like to come here before I start out.”
“It’s a surprise it’s quiet, it’s usually packed”
Juliana edged closer “It’s nice with us two being the only two here”
“Yeah it is.”
“For taking an interest in me, for showing me around”
“Don’t mention it; you don’t need an excuse to help people, so long as you believe in the cause.”
“Well thank you” She edged closer still “Are you cold?”
“No…Are you?” She nodded; I put my arm around her shoulder and held her close “Better?”
“Do you want to walk back to dorms?”
“Let’s just stay here for a bit” she insisted
We moved from the wall and sat against it. With her wrapped in my arms I felt a security. Like nothing could ever happen to us. And that’s where we remained for an hour until I realised that she’d fallen asleep on my shoulder. I gently shook her and suggested that we go back to our rooms.
When we approached her room she turned to me and said “Thank you for a lovely night”
“The pleasure was all mine.”
She moved close and kissed me and in that kiss I felt the same surge of emotions I felt in my dream and vowed that I’d never let her fall.
“Goodnight” She said and turned to her room
When I got back to my room I lay down, thought of her for a second and fell fast asleep.
“Ethan help me”
“Just hold on a second longer”
“Juliana I won’t let you fall”
“Just a second longer”
There’s a scrape of rubble and a scream
I sat up and yet again my alarm clock has a minute to go off. Today I start my R&R. After I shape up I head out I see Juliana outside my door. “You said you’d show me ‘round.”
“Of course, you should have woken me…have you been here long?”
“No, I had free periods this morning so I slept through”
“OK shall we get started?”
“Yeah…About last night…I don’t usually…”
“Don’t worry, no judgement, and I understand if you would like to forget it.”
“No you don’t understand, I really like you but I felt like I came on too strong and that I may only like you for your famous friends.”
“I hoped you didn’t”
“So the grand tour”
“Yes please, there’s a directory at the front, I’ll take you there.”
As we walked over she held my hand and my insides went cold. I liked her a lot but I couldn’t help but fear that my dreams were premonitions. Once I showed her the directory she asked me what I was going to do then “I need to see the Headmaster” I needed to talk about my dreams “But I’ll be down after that…I’ll meet you in the quad at 1100?”
“See you then” I pecked her on the cheek and made my way toward the elevator.
I pressed the button on the intercom “*bzzt* Who is it?”
“Headmaster Cid, it’s Ethan, I urgently need to talk to you.”
“*bzzt* Ok then Ethan don’t stop on your way up.”
The door opened and I stepped in.
I arrived at 3F and Headmaster Cid was waiting for me. “What’s up Ethan you sounded pretty anxious”
“My dreams, they’re not dreams, they’re premonitions”
“Woo, slow down. What’s going on?”
“The girl in my dreams I met her, I saw her face in my dream and then I met her in the cafeteria.”
“Who is it?”
“The new girl from FH”
“Yeah, I spent all night with her and I just hope to God that it doesn’t happen.”
“You’ve fallen for her?”
“Yes, but its more than that, I have a duty to save her life. To stop it happening. To change the future.”
“That’s not possible, Ellone tried and failed it’s not –“
“IT IS POSSIBLE,” I punched the wall and left a dent “I WON’T LOSE HER!”
“Ethan calm down”
“I lose everyone and the chance that I can save Juliana…I will save her. I WILL DAMMIT!”
“Calm down you’re starting to hyperventilate.”
“Why what? Why death? Why you? Why her? Ellone asked those questions and discovered that she couldn’t change things.”
“I will…I WILL” I walked into the elevator and went downstairs to the quad.
Quistis came over and sat down “Are you OK?” She asked
“No,” I replied “No I’m really not.”
“Wow, Ethan Fox down in the dumps…what’s up? Women trouble? Ha-ha”
“In a manner of speaking yes.”
“Not like you think” I explained my situation to her, “What do you think?”
“Well Ellone did try it, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t succeed. If you try I’m right behind you, I know how it feels to loose a loved one.”
“But it hasn’t happened, that’s the thing.”
“I know…common lets go to the cafeteria, I’ll buy you a drink”
“Instructor are you trying to seduce me?”
Quistis laughed as I wiped away my tears, “Chin up,” she said “If we can stop it we will.” She handed me a tissue.
“Thanks a lot; you really are the best instructor! But I can’t go to the cafeteria; I’m meeting Juliana at 1100”
“OK…You really like her don’t you.”
“Like I said I like her but I also want to protect her…like a duty.”
“Are you going to tell her?”
“No…no I don’t think so, I met her yesterday I don’t wanna scare her off.”
“I understand,” She looked over my shoulder “Speak of the devil! I’d better go, that drink option is available to both of you if you want.”
“Hey you” I felt smooth hands go around my waist.
“Hey, Juliana this is Quistis, Quistis, Juliana”
“Pleased to meet you Quistis”
“Likewise, I was just about to get a drink; you’re welcome to join me.”
“Yeah, Ethan are you coming?”
”Yeah let’s go.”
We got to the cafeteria and Quistis bought us our drinks. An hour must’ve gone by with the girls talking, I was thinking. I needed to relieve some burden, so I questioned if I loved Juliana or was it more a sense of duty? I’d only known her a day, we’d spoken for less, I’d been going steady with plenty of girls for longer than a day and I never felt this way about them. It was definitely a sense of duty. “Ethan!?”
“Yeah!” I’d hardly drunk any of my Balamb ale “What’s up?”
“Where’ve you been for the last hour?”
“Right here” I said
Quistis stood up “I’d better get going, I’ve got a class to teach.”
“That’s actually me,” Juliana said “I’d better get going too.” She kissed me on the cheek and said “See you later.”
“Yeah I’ll see ya.”
“And just remember” Quistis said to me “Relax, or I’ll set the Trepees on you!”
I laughed “OK I promise”
As they set off Squall and Irvine walked in and I saw Quistis whisper something to them and they walked to the bar. Closely followed by Zell who had nothing but Hot Dogs on his mind as it had just struck 12 o’clock.
Squall and Irvine walked over to me “What’s up man?” Irvine asked
“Quistis said something was up” Squall said, he’d definitely got more caring since he’d met Rinoa
“Oh that…I just…It’s a long story”
“We’ve got time” Irvine said
“I guess so” I replied and told them everything up until the decision I’d just made.
“So you feel a sense of duty to her. To ensure she doesn’t die when you can prevent it?”
“Yeah that’s about it I think.”
“I think,” Irvine said “that as long as you’ve got to protect her you may as well get some action…Just don’t tell Selphie I said that!” We all laughed and Zell made a whip crack noise.
There was a slam as the door shut and we turned to see who it was. Zack. The new head of the Disciplinary Committee (DC) at Balamb and had turned his hatred toward me for some unknown reason. He bought a slice of Pizza and left. I knew why, he couldn’t do anything to me with three saviours of the universe with me. Not that he could do anything anyway.
“That guy’s a jerk” Zell Said
“Just don’t give him the satisfaction of bugging you” Squall said
“Or you could shoot him between the eyes in the training area” Irvine joked
I laughed a bit “Yeah I know” I said “I Just…I dunno. I expect him to do something crazy. I don’t think he’s got at least five cards in his tetra master pack if you get my gist!”
We all laughed and Zell excused himself “I think I’ve eaten too much,” he said “I need to lie down”
We laughed and Squall said goodbye too saying he promised to take Rinoa into Balamb and over to Timber “Apparently it’s more Romantic if we walk to Balamb and take the train to Timber rather than just going straight to Timber.”
There was just Irvine and I when he suggested going to the training area “You look like you need to unwind so let’s go kill something.”
“Yeah,” I chuckled “Good idea” We downed the rest of our pints and set off to get our weapons and go to the training area.
Once we arrived at the training room we unsheathed and unholstered and set out looking for trouble.
“So what’s it like being a sharpshooter?” I asked Irvine
“I can see why”
“The constant pressure,” he fired “The worry that you’ll miss,” he fired again “The solitude” He fired again, three monsters lay dead
“Wow, must be hard” I swiped at a T-Rexasaur knocking out its legs and Irvine shot it in the head.
“Yeah I guess, but now I have Selphie with me, I don’t feel alone.”
“That’s nice to know.”
“Yeah I guess, what’s down that way?” Irvine asked pointing to an overgrown pathway
“I don’t know…Do you want to check it out?”
“Depends, how are you feeling?”
“I’m feeling fine you pansy lets go.”
We trekked about 10 metres into the undergrowth of the training area before we came upon a nest. A rather large nest. A T-Rexasaur nest to be exact. “I think we should go back,” Irvine said “We want to ensure the training area stays operational.” We turned 180 degrees and found ourselves not looking at the track but at the chest of a very angry, very large mother T-Rex. “Any suggestions?” Irvine asked
“Just one,” I replied “It may be a huge T-Rex but it’s still a T-Rex,” I unsheathed my Hae “I say we take it down.”
“What about the babies?” Irvine asked “What will happen if there’s no mother?”
There was a crack behind us and something fell to the floor, an egg shell “I don’t think you’ll have to worry about them Irvine, I think we should be worrying about us now.” Very shortly we were back to back and surrounded, I had counted 6 eggs previously.
“So,” Irvine said “What was your plan?”
“It’s been updated…you take the babies I’ll take the mother.”
I lunged forward and took a swipe at the mother and dodged out the way of its teeth. Behind me I could hear gun blasts but concentrated on my task. This T-Rex was smarter than the average one and kept moving its feet when I lunged for them. I heard two babies squeal as they died…Irvine was on top of things. I wasn’t. All I could do was dodge and heal myself. Until it swung it’s head sideways and knocked me over and skidded across the ground. Irvine kept shooting. I saw the mother get closer, she raised up on her legs and got ready to lunge in and devour me. With the last ounce of strength I rolled myself out the way and jabbed my blade into its throat, still resistant I yanked, trying to tear a hole ear to ear. *Snap* The handle snapped in half, damn! Change of plan, she was trying to scratch me with her arms and was only just missing. I wrapped my legs around its neck hoisted myself up to head height and thrust the blade in my hand deep into its eye. There was a scream and it collapsed just as I managed to get off. I turned and Irvine was watching, we were both covered in blood.
“Took you long enough!” He said
I bent over and tried to remove both blades from the T-Rex. Only the one in the eye came out easily.
“Honestly,” Irvine said “You’d think you had five to kill!”
There was a scream as the sixth baby T-Rex lunged toward Irvine. He turned just in time to see the Baby buckle from the force of my bullet. It lay still for a second and then moved its head. I threw the spare blade into its head. “You missed one,” I said I removed the blade from the mother and stepped over to the baby and removed the second embedded blade. “Took me months to make this.”
“Don’t worry, now’s time for an update I guess, build another one, a better one.”
“Yeah I guess…Come on lets go.”
“Don’t mention it. Liked to wipe the smile off your face.”
We put our weapons in our dorms and made our way to the quad where Selphie was planning our next Garden Festival.
“Hey Irvy” She gave him a kiss “Hey Ethan”
“Hey Selph” we hugged
“What happened to you two?”
“A little T-Rex trouble in the training area” Irvine said “Nothing we couldn’t handle.”
“After I saved your sorry ass Again!”
“Again?” he asked
“Remember Timber forest?”
“That doesn’t count”
“You were about to be eaten by an Ochu!”
“I had it all under control.” He argued, Selphie laughed, “I did.”
“Sure you did hun! So what happened in the training area?”
We explained, Selphie’s face dropped when we talked of the babies “We had no choice” Irvine said “Would you prefer half of me?”
“I guess not.” We carried on and I embellished slightly on the life saving part and undoubtedly Irvine objected.
“So how’s your day been?” I asked
“Terrible,” she replied “No band, no lighting, no sound, nothing!”
“I’ll help you out,” Irvine said “I did the lights for the big party we had at FH for Squall.”
“Yeah, you’re right Irvy,” She kissed him “What would I do without you?”
“I can help too” I said
“Yeah…I may be able to get a band together, I know a few guys who might be interested.”
“Wow, you’re both too good to be true!” She hugged me and kissed Irvine again
“When is it for?” I asked
“It depends,” Selphie said “I hoped six weeks but if we can’t get everything together it maybe later…then again it may be sooner!”
“OK I’ll do my best to do you proud,” I punched her playfully on the arm “I gotta go though…gotta fix my hae…maybe even make a new weapon.”
“Yeah, sure, K!” Irvine said “And your leaving had nothing to do with the rather pretty new girl who’s heading your way?”
“So you think she’s pretty Irvy?” Selphie questioned playfully
“I never said that I just…damn”
I left Selphie teasing Irvine and walked over to Juliana “Hey,” she said then took a sniff in “Phew what’s that smell?”
“That may be dead T-Rexasaur embedded into they very fabric of my shirt. I’m just about to go back to my dorm, I’ll tell you what happened on the way if you like.” As we walked I told her what happened, she laughed at the end. When we got to my dorm I invited her in, “I’m just going to have a quick wash and change I won’t be long….make yourself at home, there’s magazines in my wardrobe,” she looked at me funny “No nothing like that! Things like Weapons monthly, I won’t be a second.” I looked in my wardrobe and picked out another pair of black jeans and a polo neck vest, I ducked into the en-suite and didn’t hear anything from Juliana until I stepped out and she was just lying on my bed reading weapons monthly “What do you think you’ll go for next?” she asked
“Weapon. You said your Hae broke, what are you going to do next?”
“I don’t know I’ll have to sleep on it.”
“No wouldn’t want to be a bad h-,” I caught myself realising what she meant “No it’s only a single bed.”
“I don’t mean sex…I just…loved when I fell asleep on you in the secret area and would love to hold you as we both slept.”
“But…it’s only a single bed…don’t get me wrong I just see the practical side of things.”
“I won’t take up much room”
And she didn’t
“Ethan I can’t get a firm hold”
“I won’t let you go!”
“You know there’s no hope…”
“There is hope”
“Not without you…I’ll save you or die trying.”
“Watch out for-”
“JULIANA” I woke with a start and she was holding me
“It’s ok…It was just a dream…I’m here with you…It’s OK.”
“It seemed so real.”
“It wasn’t,” she put my hand to her chest, I could feel her heart beat “See I’m still here. I haven’t gone any where.”
I hugged her close “I won’t let it happen”
“I know, I know” She held me close and there was a fear run through me, a fear that told me that this feeling that I had now wouldn’t last forever. That one day I’d loose her. I held her tighter and tried to hide my tears by drying them on her uniform. “Come on,” she said “dry your eyes and come down the cafeteria with me and we’ll take your mind off that silly dream.
But I knew it wasn’t silly. And I knew my mind couldn’t be distracted.
I stood up and dried my eyes on the end of my jacket that was hanging up “Yeah,” I said “Let’s take my mind of that silly dream.” She couldn’t know.
An uneventful week followed. A week that coupled with a week of R&R dragged like a dog with no legs. Fortunately I had managed to couple together the starting of a band and we were rehearsing wherever and whenever possible we were starting to come together, also since my Hae was broken I’d been spending time in the training area with Zell with him teaching me to fist fight. A week, fortunately in a dreamless sleep that I assumed was due to the extensive training, until one night I had another, the same as the previous one, word for word. Something bad was happening soon…I was right.
Juliana and I were in the cafeteria before it happened. We were drinking Balamb ale with Squall, Rinoa, Irvine, Selphie, Zell and Quistis at one of the tables over looking the quad and Juliana left to use the bathroom.
“Whilst she’s gone I need to talk to you guys.”
“What’s up?” Rinoa asked
“You know my dreams,” they all nodded “Well I haven’t had any dreams for a week…Until last night,” I paused to take a drink, I realised I was shaking “I think something bad’s going to happen, and possibly soon.”
“Like what?” Selphie asked
“I don’t know, but I know one thing…I’m not going to hold back when it does. These dreams make me fear for the both of us…it will end when it starts.”
“Just go careful man,” Irvine said “We’ll help out of you need us too.”
“Yeah,” Squall continued “You’re one of us…an orphan; you’ve been in Garden for most of your life…you fit right in!”
“Yeah I guess so, thanks guys.” Just as I finished speaking Juliana sat down next to me “I was just about to go up to the bar, do you want anything?” I asked her
“No,” she replied “I’m fine thanks”
“OK, anyone else?” I asked
“Yeah, but I’ll come up with you.” Irvine said. We went up and joined the queue for the bar. “Do you want my advice?” He asked
“Go steady, nothing comes from causing trouble.”
“I guess” we were there a minute before we got cut in front of. Short Blonde hair…I knew it was Zack. “What’s your problem?” I asked
“Disciplinary privileges” was his only response
“I’ll be damned get to the back.”
He cracked his knuckles, his weapon was his fists, he didn’t have his gloves but I didn’t doubt he could pack a punch, “No I think I’m happy here”
“I don’t think you understand,” I cracked my knuckles “Get behind me, now”
He turned and stared at me. He pushed me back and hit me in one swift movement…I was right, he could punch. “You think because Zell teaches you that you can best me?” I stood up and wiped the blood from my lip, by now there were plenty of onlookers. Without even thinking I hit him twice in the face forcing him backward. He was bleeding. “Training area. 10 minutes.” He said and left
”You’re not going are you?” Irvine asked
“I’ll be damned if I’m not” and left to get my Hae with Juliana following quickly after
“You don’t have to do this.” She said
“Stay out of this”
“Why?” She asked “Why should I stay out of this?”
I turned and gazed at her, she froze, I give off an air when I’m in a bad mood and Juliana recognised it instantly “Because it’s my problem, not yours…Go back to the cafeteria,” She froze and I turned and left her standing there. In my dorm I removed the Hae from its case and strapped them to my arms. They were heavy and I wouldn’t be able to move as fast but still. I left to the training area where there was a huge crowd amassing, I saw both friends and enemies “They’ve sworn not to intervene” Zack said “And I’ll hold them to it...Are you ready?”
“Read-” he hit me completely off guard.
I lunged at him with my hae and just released, all my anger, frustration, hatred, malice was unleashed on him until he buckled down. I turned and started to leave.
“Draw, Cast, Water” He’d drawn water from a bystander and inflicted it on me…I staggered around for a second trying to recover my ground…When I focused he punched me in the face. I fell flat on my back I saw Squall rush to my aid but I waved him off. I stood up “You really don’t give up do you?” Zack said
“Oh no, it’s not that I don’t give up…you’ve really pissed me off.” I looked around, two could play his game…and I would win, I saw Squall “Draw, Cast, IFRIT!”
He froze as the ball of fire was lifted into the air and thrown down on his very position. When the fire was gone there was just screaming and the smell of burnt flesh. People were gathered around casting water and cure and various other spells to help.
I walked over to the exit, Juliana was waiting for me, “I’m sorry” She said
“So am I,” I replied “I shouldn’t have snapped”
“Common lets go finish our drinks” I slung my arm round her shoulder and we walked to the cafeteria. As we walked I could feel the heat on the back of my head. As if he was staring at me with the fire power of Ifrit, I shrugged it off, he’d be in the infirmary for a long time. However it turned out that in the dead of night he escaped through the infirmary window. I had other things on my mind at the time, namely helping Selphie get the Garden Festival going.
I managed to put together a band and were rehearsing regularly for the rest of my R&R period and three weeks after that. Throughout this time it was common place to see me with my walkman on listening for inspiration and when I wasn’t doing that I was trying to salvage my Hae. A replica was out of the question I might have to update, when I could I excused myself and travelled to the nearest town to use their synthesis shop. Every where except for Balamb charged me a little, thankfully Garden had been docked in Balamb for the majority only moving when necessary. After three weeks I’d made a successful pole arm that slotted onto a shoulder carrier that strapped to my back. Zell was still taking me out to the training area but Irvine was also teaching me to shoot well and on top of that I had classes. Three weeks after the fight Irvine and I were out in the training area, I had just spent time with Zell and was feeling pretty exhausted.
“From now on,” Irvine said “Keep that pea-shooter in your room and I’ve got something for you.” He opened up his jacket and chucked me a thigh holster and a shot-gun “That’s the same sawn-off I had when I first met the gang. The Exeter now is far superior, but Valiant lives up to its name, it won’t let you down.”
“I can’t accept this,” I replied
“Sure you can, Zell got you something too asked me to give it to you when I gave you that.” He handed me a box, possibly the size of a fist. It contained a glove with three blades protruding from where the gaps in the knuckles would be. “He customed it for you…for all the work that you did for him. The glove’s a regular Metal Knuckle but Zell attached some blades to the plate. Razor sharp on the out side, blunt as a spoon on the inside so as not to cut your fingers off.” I tried it on and it fit, surprisingly enough it weighed very little and I found I was able to perform many basic moves just as well as I could have before.
“Why are you giving me this?” I asked
“Partly because your progressing…But also because, your dreams haven’t stopped and we wanted to make sure you were prepared. Quistis and Squall have also said they’d lend a hand, maybe help modify your latest weapon.”
I strapped on the thigh holster and practiced removing and replacing the sawn-off. “Thanks a lot man. I really appreciate it, to be honest my pole arm isn’t going as well as I hoped it would…It’s basically a big metal stick.” Irvine laughed
“I knew you’d be here” I turned Juliana was walking toward me. “So do you ever rest?”
I laughed “Just about to now…Have you seen the others anywhere?”
“Yeah they’re in the cafeteria, they told me about everything and I came to see what you thought.”
“It’s very nice I was just going to go thank them.”
“OK” she said “We’ll catch up I need to ask Irvine something.”
I didn’t question it and made my way to the cafeteria. When I got there I sat at our table, my drink had already been bought, “Hey guys thanks for the gear.”
“Don’t mention it” Zell said
“Yeah don’t worry” Squall replied
“Anyway we can help?” Quistis asked
“Actually yeah there is. Irvine said that you two would help me custom my pole-arm”
“Sure thing” Quistis said
“What do you want?” Asked Squall
“Surprise me,” I said handing them the pole arm…it really was nothing much.
“We’ll have it back tomorrow,” Quistis replied
Just then Juliana and Irvine walked in. I gave Juliana my seat and Irvine sat next to Selphie.
“So it fits?” Zell asked
“Pretty damn near perfect actually,” I said “How did you get the measurements?”
“I had Juliana sneak in at night and measure your hand!”
“No…The store said one size fits all!”
“How did you make the blades?”
“Rinoa helped a bit but it was fairly simple…I couldn’t decide if you were a sword man or a fist man so we compromised.”
“10 minutes until lights out” That was the garden staff
“I’d better go,” I said “Hard days work on the morrow!” I said goodbye and left with Juliana. When we approached her door I kissed her, said goodnight, headed to my dorm and promptly fell asleep.
“Watch out Ethan”
“Watch out for what?”
A flash of a face charred beyond recognition, manic laughing, a scream that fades out.
“JULIANA” I saw my clock said it was 0800 I chucked on my trousers and a jacket and ran down to her dorm. Only her room mate was in there “Where’s Juliana?”
“I don’t know,” She replied “She wasn’t there when I woke up…I think I heard her leave last night...sorry.”
I ran back to my room and put on some proper clothes…I really could sense that something was up. I put on my sleeveless polo neck and my black combat jeans. I grabbed the sawn-off and put it in it’s holster, I put the glove on and set out to find the gang…Specifically Irvine.
I found them near the directory Selphie came up to me. “Hey how are you this morning?” I pushed her out the way drew my sawn-off and pointed it point black at Irvine’s head “WHAT DID SHE SAY TO YOU?” I heard people approach from behind me, I pointed my gloved hand at them “BACK THE £%^$ OFF,” I turned back to Irvine “WHAT DID SHE SAY?”
“The same as she said to all of us.”
I lowered the Sawn-off “what?”
Squall approached “She told us that she’d seen Zack around the grounds watching her. That we weren’t to tell you. She was worried you’d do something bad. She didn’t want to worry you”
I was broken “you…all…knew?”
“I’m sorry” Quistis said “We wanted to tell you.”
I wiped a tear away “Ok first thing’s first. We find out where he’s taken her…It’ll be somewhere high and somewhere natural”
“That narrows it down slightly” Zell said “There aren’t many natural mountains left”
“What about the mountain range just before Esther?” Quistis asked “It’s natural, it’s high”
“OK,” I said “Squall get this piece of junk over to those mountain ranges” He left. “I want everyone else to take high positions with binoculars and scout the mountain ranges.”
They all left Quistis stayed behind “I told you it’d be done by today.” She handed me my pole arm, “Squall and I worked all night on it. There’s an extendable blade made of titanium in there,” she indicated a switch “Just flick that and it’ll pop out. Be careful though its very rapid…That was Squall’s contribution, this is mine,” she indicated a small sphere on the opposite end “twist this 180 degrees,” she did so and the pole extended rapidly “It’s magic storing, you cast a spell on this and it retains the attributes for a certain time, the more powerful a spell the longer lasting and more powerful. Cast the opposite spell to nullify it. Twist it the other direction to lock it. And finally this is from all of us.” I felt the blood rush to my feet and then back up again, the same sensation as if I was drawing magic. “There she said…we had no doubt that you’d need this…we clubbed all our magic together for you.” And with that she left. I headed out to the cafeteria and grabbed something to eat.
An hour passed before there was a call on the tannoy “*bing bong* Ethan Fox please proceed immediately to the bridge *bong bing*” I proceeded straight up and was greeted by Squall “Zell’s seen her”
“Lower me over then leave.”
“Don’t you want to-“
“Don’t tell me anything I’ll wait by the exit when I should jump announce over the tannoy.” I left and waited for the signal
I leaped and unsheathed in mid air…I landed with a thump and looked up
“About time you got here” he said, I knew it was Zack but I couldn’t tell from looking at him, he had a mask covering the left of his face, the right was burnt terribly.
A cloak covered the rest of his body with a gauntleted left arm outstretched holding Juliana by the throat over a cliff. “You destroyed my life, it’s time to destroy yours”
He dropped her, there was a scrape of rubble and a scream but then I heard her get her hold.”
“You Bastard” I said I got ready for attack
“Is that all that you’ve got?”
I released the magic end “Fireaga” I screamed casting it at the staff and attacking him with it. He seemed invulnerable to it, he hit me with his right un-gauntleted hand and then with his left knocking me backward “Fire immunity” He said
I looked at the staff and heard a scream “Ethan, help!” I remembered the gift from the group “Ultima” I screamed
I lunged at Zack unleashing everything again…Just like in the training area. And whilst he was down I Cut him across the right arm slicing tendons, he fell slumped in a corner…I ran to the edge and lowered my hand over…I knew it wasn’t long enough.
“Reach, come on you can do it-just a little bit further”
“I won’t let you go I swear I won’t let you fall”
“I can’t hold on for longer”
“Grab my hand”
“I can’t, Ethan help me”
“Just hold on a second longer”
“Juliana I won’t let you fall”
“Just a second longer”
I turned to my pole arm, cast cureaga and lowered it down…Holding the edge of the handle I prayed it was long enough…It wasn’t.
“You know there’s no hope…”
“There is hope”
“Not without you…I’ll save you or die trying.”
I flicked the blade release catch and held half way down the blade. She caught it. I felt the metal cut into my hand and blood drip down it, still I pulled, I pulled her up until she was almost all up. My hands were in cut to shreds and bleeding profusely. I was surprised I still had fingers.
“Ethan look out for-“ She screamed
I turned and saw a metal gauntlet come into contact with my jaw. I let go. There was a scrape of rubble, a scream and she fell and fell and fell until I was confident that I’d never hear her land.
“YOU WILL PAY!!!” I lunged with the pole arm only making a few successful hits, the pain in my hands was unbearable. I got knocked back and my pole arm slid out of my reach. I went to grab it with my left hand, Zack stood on it. I screamed in pain as he raised his left arm revealing clawed fingers “And now you die” as he pulled back I cut the back of his shin with my gloves. “Arrgh! You BASTARD” I got from underneath and stood on this leg forcing him down. I embedded the claws into the top of his head pulled it back and kicked him down. He lay still, I turned toward the edge and heard a movement. In one swift movement I withdrew my sawn-off and unloaded both barrels into the back of his head. His face was unrecognisable. I couldn’t stand anymore and collapsed. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a glint of red and felt a hand on my shoulder. I gathered myself up and saw Juliana, the red glint was Ragnorak piloted by the gang.
I passed out and woke in the medical bay, I walked down to the cockpit.
“Hey there he is” Quistis said
There was a cheer “Congratulations man” Zell said
“Where’s Juliana?” I asked
“Behind you” came her voice. I turned and was greeted with a hug and a kiss.
“How did you guys know?” I asked
“As soon as we got a safe distance we flew back unnoticed and waited for Juliana to fall” Selphie said
“We needed redemption without breaking the time-space continuum” Squall joked
“We’d better get back soon,” Headmaster Cid’s voice said
“You came?” I asked
“Of course, I was worried”
“I’m sorry, you were right, you can’t change the future, you just need to look further than what you see.”
“Headmaster Cid,” Juliana said “Is there a bed on board I think my hero needs to rest.”
“No I’m fine” I said “That rest did me good”
Through gritted teeth she said “No hunny, I think you need to rest”
Headmaster Cid laughed “How you got so many women I’ll never know, Second on the left.”
“Before you go” Squall said “I think you dropped this” He handed me my weapons
“Thanks man” As I left I heard them give me three cheers. I took a bow at the bedroom door which was cut short by Juliana dragging me into the bedroom.